Ogre Battle: The March of the Black Queen (Virtual Console SNES)
A tactical game from Squaresoft which lacks the story content of Fire Emblem, which I really love, so at first glance it isn’t too great. Somehow it gets its hooks into you by serving up a more instantly rewarding and fun tactical board game style.
You work through the overworld map moving from province to province slowly trying to defeat The Empire and liberate the land. Each province has several towns shown on the map and here you can send your forces out to liberate towns and defeat the provincial boss before moving to the next. The battles are real-time rather than turn-based, but this isn’t an action game: instead you merely get to control attack style or use special powers via Tarot cards you collect when you liberate towns and the action plays out on its own.
It ends up being quite an enjoyable game directing your little bands of fighters and wizards and beating on the baddies. Definitely worth a look for strategy fans, though folk in Europe have to pay extra since it was never originally released in PAL territories and has only come to the VC via a Hanabi Festival.
ExciteBots: Trick Racing
How much fun is this game? I really cannot say enough good things about it or enough bad things about Nintendo for not only failing to promote it but not seeing fit to localise it for any territory other than North America (though a Club Nintendo release happened in Japan, eventually). It takes everything that made Excite Truck great and turns it up to 11 – okay there’s no MP3 playback support, but who cares?
You have wacky animal robots, great drifting, lovely scenery with great graphics, a brilliant soundtrack, big air, terrific sense of speed and new fun things like hitting bowling pins and throwing pies for extra stars (that’s just the tip of the crazy iceberg). On top of that there’s a Poker Race mode where, indeed, you race and play cards at the same time! If that wasn’t enough you earn stars for unlocking more bots and paint jobs, an unlockable Super Excite mode and online for both Excite races and Poker races where you can bet your stars to earn more for buying those aforementioned extras — FANTASTIC!
This game is brilliant fun and European importers can rest easy that not only is the online community active – even during European evening times – but I didn’t experience any issues connecting to matches or doing races with a North American Wii set to Brazil. Do yourself a favour and don’t let NoE’s short-sightedness keep you from this brilliant masterpiece.