Mushroom Men: The Spore Wars
Yet another great 3D action platformer on the Wii – it’s so nice to see these finding a home on this system. The only real negative is the use of Remote wave for primary attack: it’s completely unnecessary (how about combining the block/roll moves on C, use Z for jump and attack with A guys? It’s been done before!), but the motion detection is good and you’re doing more exploring than fighting so it’s not a big deal. The spore powers add a lot of depth in giving the player different ways to approach combat and puzzle solving with great use of the pointer and motion controls for flinging things about via “sporekinesis.”
The visuals are incredible as are the character designs and the soundtrack and audio effects are wonderful complements to the look of the game. It’s a good thing there’s a strong focus on exploration as there’s a lot to see in the huge levels filled with nooks and crannies to check for items that unlock concept artwork, “scav” you use to build your weaponry and meteorite chunks for powering up your little ‘shroom man.
The game doesn’t overstay its welcome at under 7 hours (depending on how much exploring you do) and there’s no settable difficulty level, but the manageable length and fun factor should encourage repeat plays on their own. There’s also bonuses in the form of the aforementioned art gallery, a music station for listening to the soundtrack (where’s the CD guys?) and some mini-games.
It’s a great package which can be had for a bargain price, so check it out!
The Three Musketeers: One for All! (WiiWare)
Legendo should be proud of the technical achievement in managing to cram a PC port into the WiiWare format size limit without compromising it overmuch. There are some load times due to decompression, but the artwork and voice samples are terrific.
The game plays well enough generally with some decent platforming action, but the motion control implementation clearly could have used a little work. Using a remote swipe for your sword isn’t an automatically bad decision, though the amount of motion required for your swipe to register does cause wrist/shoulder strain during sequences requiring you to fight multiple consecutive enemies.
The most irritating part of the game actually had nothing to do with motion, but bouncing on the top of barrels to reach high places. You’re told to hold the A button to bounce high, but there are multiple degrees of “high” most of which aren’t enough. You get so used to failure that when you do bounce high enough you’ll forget to move the stick and be forced to continue the senseless bouncing in a vain hope of attaining the right altitude again.
Most of the game was pretty decent for a platformer, but the rooftop sequence – which I presume is towards the end – used up the last of my good will. The typical platforming “repeat death syndrome” combined with the broken barrel bouncing forced me to purge the game from my SD card or risk certain damage to my remote and TV. The potential is clearly there, so hopefully the next Legendo release will be more to my taste. Strictly for hardcore platforming game fans who have patience in abundance.
Front Line (Virtual Console Famicom)
This arcade game featured some unconventional controls with a rotary click dial that could turn your soldier’s arm in a complete circle, allowing him to shoot and move in different directions simultaneously. The Famicom controls are much more conventional with the d-pad controlling both movement and aiming, but the gameplay is the same and is easier to control. The home conversion looks very much the same as the arcade, with the main differences being more muted sound effects, abbreviated death animations and no snipers in the trees. Also worth noting is that the big tanks die after one hit regardless of whether you’re shooting them with the small tank gun or the big one. Still it’s a decent quality port fans of the arcade game should be able to enjoy. Hopefully someday Taito will give us the real thing with a VCA release.
Pooyan (Virtual Console Famicom)
This home conversion is courtesy of Hudson Soft, so you won’t find it under the Konami listings in the Japanese Wii Shop despite it being a Konami arcade game. The conversion is terrific and fans of the arcade game will be pleased to find the graphics are extremely close to the arcade, the music is intact and best of all the interstitials with the little pigs chasing the wolves from stage to stage is present as well. Definitely worth checking out if you have a Japanese Wii and like the classics.