Paradroid (Virtual Console C64)
A nice slice of 8-bit computer-gaming goodness. You guide your robot through various rooms on a star cruiser attempting to take over more powerful robots in order to take control of the ship. Robots are represented by ovals with a 3-digit number to demonstrate relative power. You can shoot them or better still transfer your consciousness into them via a mini-game where you’re trying to highlight the greater number of data-paths than your target in a set time limit. Don’t let the simple graphics fool you, there’s quite a challenging game on offer which is pretty good fun.
Parasol Stars (Virtual Console PC Engine)
The console-only sequel to Rainbow Islands, Parasol Stars sees Bubby and Bobby still in human form travelling through various worlds battling various critters using umbrellas and water droplets of all things. The mechanics are quite good and the game is just as fun as Bubble Bobble and Rainbow Islands. The VC offering is on the PC Engine so keep an eye out for it in a future Hanabi festival if you don’t have a Japanese Wii.
Pitfall: The Mayan Adventure (Virtual Console MD)
Not a bad platformer, but a platformer nonetheless. The action takes place in a jungle and whilst it’s well-animated it’s quite confusing where you’re supposed to go. Expect to do a lot of falling and having to climb back up to where you were. Although the main game is a bit on the tedious side of the equation you can enter a lengthy code to play a reasonable facsimile of the 2600 classic Pitfall. Unfortunately you need to enter this code every single time you want to play it. Unless you’re a diehard platforming fan it’s probably safe to avoid this one.
R-TYPE (Virtual Console TG16)
This arcade shooter was a classic in the truest sense of the word: great animated sprites, an interesting power-up system and the movable weapon made for varied strategy and fun gameplay. There are several versions of this game on the Virtual Console, but I remember the TG16 version being the best. In Japan it was released in two parts, so folk outside of Japan have it good being able to get the whole game in a single 600 point download. Until Irem arcade games start appearing in the Virtual Console, this port is the best way to play this game on the Wii.
Rolling Thunder 2 (Virtual Console MD)
Rolling Thunder was a classic action platformer from Namco and it’s coming soon to the Virtual Console Arcade. The sequel is less well-known and whilst it’s not quite as nice visually, Rolling Thunder 2 still offers much of the fun and challenge of its predecessor. Definitely worth checking out.
Soldier Blade (Virtual Console TG16)
Soldier Blade is the last in a series of vertical shooters on the TG16 and worth checking out if you like shooters that consist of a series of sub-bosses and bosses. Just hold down fire and maneuver. The game takes its time ramping up the difficulty, but there’s certainly some challenge on offer. Enemies are varied and look nice. A safe bet for shooting game fans.
Solvalou (Virtual Console Arcade)
Namco has loads of games on the Japanese Virtual Arcade and Solvalou is one of the newer ones from the 1990s. A 3D sequel to Xevious, it’s got some familiar enemies in an unfamiliar perspective. The Wii remote pointer has replaced the arcade flight yoke and does a great job. There’s limited control over your flight direction and as with the first game you need to blast all comers whilst heading for the showdown with the Andor Genesis mothership. It’s a pretty challenging game and a treat for fans of 3D arcade shooters.
Space Invaders: The Original Game (Virtual Console SNES)
I just love Space Invaders, so it’s great to see this collection released. Originally released on three platforms in Japan (Playstation and PC Engine were the others), Space Invaders: The Original Game is a collection which includes an arcade perfect port of the arcade game with three different appearances: original B&W, simulated colour film bands (the original low-tech method of making a colour video game) and my favourite, the planet backdrop (marketed by Midway as Deluxe Space Invaders). In addition you get a two-player battle mode which is a novel addition. The price for the SNES version and the requirement of the Classic Controller make me wish I had known the PC Engine release of this was coming out in Japan. If you have the choice, get that version instead. A colour version of the arcade game alone (sans filmstrip effect) is also available through the Japanese Virtual Console Arcade.
Splatterhouse (Virtual Console Arcade)
Another classic game from Namco, this one has a horror theme with you controlling a Jason Voorhees-esqe character in a side-scrolling action title fighting monsters and trying to rescue a girl. It quickly becomes quite difficult, but thankfully you can increase your life bar and the number of lives on offer as well as change the score required to earn bonus lives. There are a couple of ports already available in the Virtual Console for the TG16 and Megadrive, but the arcade is the original and best, so get it if/when it’s released outside of Japan.
Star Force (Virtual Console Arcade)
I’ve been playing arcade games for decades, so it was a bit of a surprise to find this among the initial offering for the Virtual Console Arcade because I’d never seen it before. It’s an early example of the vertically scrolling shooter from Tecmo and it’s a decent bit of fun. Not the greatest, but it’s an arcade game with all the intensity and difficulty that implies. Worth a look for fans of the classics.