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Long read: The beauty and drama of video games and their clouds

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Virtual Console Roundup

Yoshi's Cookie, Wonder Boy, Fantasy Zone, Cali Games, Impossible Mission.

Two weeks ago I compared Nintendo's Virtual Console, rather disturbingly I now realise, to a callous and insensitive husband, ignoring our devotion on a whim and then lavishing us with gifts when we least expect it. If last week's solitary offering of NES puzzler Yoshi's Cookie was the equivalent of a cursory phone call while he "works late at the office", then this week's bonanza of four new games and another new gaming platform feels like he's surprised us on Friday evening with flowers and chocolates.

Admittedly, in the case of the actual games on offer, the metaphorical flowers are from the petrol station down the road, and the chocolates are suspiciously close to their expiry date, but it's the thought that counts, right?

Yoshi's Cookie

  • Platform: NES
  • Wii Points: 500
  • In Real Money: GBP 3.50 / EUR 5 (approx)

Yet another of those tangentially linked Mario puzzle spin-offs, this early '90s effort finds Mario working in some sort of hellish bakery, constructing lines of biscuits by sliding rows and columns of pastries until they match. Clear all the cookies and it's onto the next round.

Play is focused in the lower left hand corner, with new clusters of crusty comestibles sauntering in from above, to the side and even diagonally. Rows and columns only disappear when the entire line matches, so there's a little tweak of strategy in deciding whether to clear as many lines as possible straight away, or wait for them to get bigger for more matching options - and more points, naturally. Wikipedia compares it to the way you rotate a Rubik's Cube, which is a good comparison so I'm stealing it.

You can alter the speed at which new blocks arrive - although anything below the top speed is pretty turgid - and there's also a two-player versus mode. It never really set the puzzle game genre alight, but it still manages to exert some of that familiar hypnotic allure and keeps you playing longer than is strictly necessary.