Quarth (Virtual Console MSX)
The great thing about having a Japanese Wii is getting access to not only Virtual Console games that weren’t released outside of Japan, but getting access to systems which haven’t seen the light of day on the other Virtual Consoles. Of course I’m referring to the MSX, a failed computer hardware standard that was most popular in Japan (and to a lesser extent Europe), but is almost unknown in North America. There’s some decent stuff on it including nice arcade ports like this one.
Quarth was released as Block Hole in North America in the arcades and on the Gameboy. I bought the Gameboy cart because I enjoyed the arcade game and the quality of the port was quite impressive. This MSX version is also outstanding and even improves upon the arcade by giving you a choice of ship as well as customisation of a variety of settings.
The gameplay is pretty basic: you’re moving your ship back-and-forth shooting blocks at what are essentially groups of tetraminos. The background is vertically scrolling and your object is to complete the shapes so they form rectangles or squares; clearing them before they breach the line at the bottom of the screen and destroy your space ship. It’s a simple and fun concept that proves quite challenging near the end of each level when the scrolling speeds up. The broken shapes are often grouped together so it’s possible to clear many at once provided you can create a complete line around them, also netting you bonus points. Rounding out the experience is a really nice soundtrack.
If you have the means definitely give it a look as it’s probably the best version of the game going.