Virtual Console: The First Three

As I’m sure we all know by now, the Virtual Console on the Wii is a magical time machine that can take you back to any era of Nintendo gaming from the NES all the way up to the N64, but also games from the Sega Mega Drive and the Turbo Grafx 16. This aims to give younger gamers the chance to legally play retro titles and more aged gamers the chance to relive past expeditions in the games of old.

My first foray into the gaming world of the past begins with an inconspicuously wrapped box, the size of a DVD case that lay there on the morning of my birthday. Unwrapping it, I find a 2000 Wii points card (why a piece of paper the size of a credit card has to be concealed in a DVD case, I can only wonder), believing there to be a disc inside I reached for it to find that it is in fact cardboard and the actual points card is stuck on the guide book to the left of it. Oh well, at least I have a spare case if I break one from one of my games.

Later in the day after booting up the Wii I rushed into the Shop Channel to see what was on offer. I had been recommended to get Gunstar Heroes by members of the forum here at DarkZero so decided to give that a go, I handed over 800 points for the Mega Drive title and proceeded to play.

In Gunstar Heroes you have to first complete four levels, in any order, to obtain four crystals being held by the bosses at the end of each of the levels. Then your friend gets kidnapped and you lose the crystals, and after some rather cool space battles you have to get them back again. I had so much fun running through the hoards of enemies, picking different combinations of bullets to maximise the damage I caused, ultimately finding the perfect mix of Lightning and Tracer to create what I christened the “Square of Death.” By holding down the fire button, any time an enemy comes on screen the blue laser beam tracks him until he’s dead. This happens so quick that they have to be quite tough to get past to cause you any harm.

Two player mode is where there is more fun to be had, I believe. Just get two Wii remotes tilted sideways and you’re all set. One player can be the muscle, and the other can try and make sure that the muscle doesn’t get hit as much because to bring someone back from the dead, the survivor’s health is halved. There may be strategic points where it is best for the dead to stay dead for the benefit of the survivor to complete the level easily.

While Gunstar Heroes is a great game, I haven’t been back to it much as the replay value seems to be quite low, I managed to complete the game in about 2 hours. Never mind, the next week I decided to spend some more points and had another look around the shop. I ended up in the Turbo Grafx section and bought Bomberman 93 (another recommendation).

This was more like it! Retro gaming at its best, with a save function and passwords! Brilliant, that means if I die I won’t lose much progress. At first I was absolutely horrendous at playing it, being wiped out on almost every level, mostly by placing bombs in stupid positions and trapping myself. However, with practice I am gradually getting better at it, I have just started to play the fourth stage “Planet Wither” and I am still enjoying it thoroughly. Bomberman 93 plays just like other Bomberman games, where you place bombs to destroy walls and enemies to advance through the levels. I find myself going back to this time and time again, just plodding further and further along the game, having great fun while doing so. The only thing I haven’t tried yet is multiplayer, so that will have to wait until a further date.

Last but not least, last Friday I spent 500 of my remaining points on the classic platform game from 1987, Super Mario Bros. Having never properly played this game, (blasphemous, I know!) I seized the opportunity and went for it and I’m glad I did. In Super Mario Bros. you take Mario through different levels to try and free the Princess of the Mushroom Kingdom being held captive by the Koopa King, you know we’ve heard it all before. Again I started off badly, dying after two levels by being foolhardy and rushing through as if playing a Sonic game (I was a Sega kid back in the day), but I started to get the hang of it and soon I was dying on the third level then the first boss level came and went with the great line of “Thank You Mario! But our Princess is in another castle”. I had seen this line around the Internet before but was blissfully unaware of where it came from, until I played SMB of course.

Currently I am dying on world 4-2, but the thing is, even though I am replaying the same levels over and over again (yes I know there’s a warp pipe room in world 1-2) to get back to the place where I was dying the last time, I am not getting bored. I love smashing the same blocks, I love jumping on the same enemies over and over again and I think this is the pull that many older games have.

Younger gamers owe it to themselves to see what they have missed; the foundings of the current multi-million pound industry that has sprouted from games such as Super Mario and Sonic. The Virtual Console is a great way to do this and is another ace out the Wii’s sleeve. With weekly updates continually adding more games to the line-up there’s something for everyone to check out, now leave me alone – I have to get to 4-3 before I can sleep.