Headlining this week’s Virtual Console releases is the original Castlevania for the NES. At 500 points, gamers can explore the origins of the franchise as it appeared on the Nintendo Entertainment System. Those used to the later entries in the series will find this version somewhat limiting – the exploration elements and many of the control refinements wouldn’t appear until later releases. Instead, gamers will get six levels of sidescrolling platform action.
The other two releases this week could best be defined as “cult classics.” The Legend of the Mystical Ninja for the SNES probably didn’t have a huge following on its original release, but for 800 points gamers can experience the US-localized version of the Goemon series from Japan. The gameplay is fairly strong and graphically the game holds its own. Shockman is another arcade like title that mixes standard platforming stages with 2D shooting. At 600 points, the Turbografx16 title adds another quirky entry into the Virtual Console catalog.
Nintendo’s full press release continues below.
Microsoft continues its string of multiple Live Arcade releases this week, this time with the hugely anticipated Catan along with arcade classics Centipede and Millipede. Catan has had board game geeks waiting eagerly; the Live Arcade version of the classic Settlers of Catan strategy board game will hopefully live up to expectations. The game will sell for 800 points ($10) and features decent single player offerings with a supposedly strong AI along with four player multiplayer support over Xbox Live. Centipede and Millipede get bundled together for 400 points ($5) and promise updated graphical modes. Both titles will hit Xbox Live this Wednesday.
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Gamasutra is reporting that following last week’s Easter Egg featuring Bug for the Sega Saturn, the 3D shooter series Panzer Dragoon will be coming to the GameTap subscription service; both Panzer Dragoon and Panzer Dragoon Zwei are listed as “coming soon.” While the original Panzer Dragoon appeared in a PC port, Gamasutra confirmed that the two games are the original Sega Saturn versions. The release of the shooters in the series gives hope that Panzer Dragoon Saga may also be coming.
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This week’s Virtual Console releases aren’t stellar, but are still a decent collection of retro games that may entertain, at least for a while. Gamers can pick up Galaga for the NES, a decent but not spectacular port of the arcade game for 500 points. The original arcade version is available on Microsoft’s Xbox Live Marketplace, so that might be the better option for those with both consoles. Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle for the Genesis is also available for 800 points; the sequel to the original Alex Kidd for the Sega Master System is an average platformer with some gameplay quirks that set it slightly apart from others in the genre. Finally, Bravoman is a side-scrolling beat-em-up style game, more known for its unusual humor that for any gameplay excellence. At 600 points, though, it might be worth a look. Overall, a middling week for the Virtual Console and hopefully A-list titles will return soon.
Nintendo’s full press release continues after the jump.
The great retro gaming blog at Racketboy has a fairly in-depth round up of Sega classic franchises, past and present with short updates on their current status. Some of the inclusions might be kind of a stretch to label a “franchise” – there are a number of games on the list that have only had one release in their lifetimes. The list, however, is a good reminder of all the original IP that Sega has to mine for new offerings. Sega’s track record for updates hasn’t been that great lately, the next generation Sonic release on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 was notoriously bad, with some redemption coming with Sonic and The Secret Rings on the Wii. As the article mentions, Sega has become more and more risk averse due to the financial issues the company has faced, but it does seem like there is a lot of potential in Sega’s history. Certainly there seem to be a lot of RPG franchises that could stand to be revisited, including Beyond Oasis, Skies of Arcadia, and Shining Force, but there are also a bunch of great action games that would be great to see updated and released on any of the downloadable content platforms.
Read More | Racketboy
After last week’s weak release on the Virtual Console, Nintendo has followed up with three new titles, each with at least some good points. First, Star Fox 64, is a classic game in the Star Fox franchise, and the last of the series to be fully developed in-house by Nintendo; there aren’t a ton of items to collect, the game isn’t co-developed by Namco, and the title doesn’t mix in some turn-based strategy segments. For 1,000 Wii points, gamers get classic Star Fox style gameplay. Other releases are platform-based games, including the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on the NES, which was a decent game for a licensed title, and Dragon’s Curse for the Turbografx-16. Dragon’s Curse, a conversion of a previous Sega Master System game also offers some unique gameplay for a platformer of that era.
The full press release continues below.
Game magazine Maxi Consolas has preview screens and an interview with designer Takeshi Iizuka about the upcoming sequel to the original NiGHTS Into Dreams on the Sega Saturn. The original game was a psychelic, “dream-like” game world that was introduced on the Saturn with the 3-D controller; it has been over ten years since the game’s original release, and NiGHTS fans still haven’t stopped clamoring for a sequel. NintendoGal has scans of the magazine, and a loose translation of the interview with Iizuka. From the interview, it sounds like NiGHTS and the Wii controller will be a good match, and hopefully Sonic Team can get back on track with this release.
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Koei has been milking the Dynasty Warriors franchise for a while, with seemingly dozens of releases hitting every platform from the PlayStation 2 to the Xbox 360. But the series actually spun off from another franchise for the company, the strategic Romance of the Three Kingdoms series. In fact, the Dynasty Warriors release pattern mirrors that of Romance; take a good idea, and run it into the ground with more releases than the public can handle. Still, the SNES release is one of the better entries into the series, and for 800 Wii Points, one can experience the property as it was originally intended. Having this as the sole retro release this week is a disappointment, however.
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The classic PlayStation version of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night is now available on the Xbox Live Marketplace. The game sells for 800 Microsoft Points and the demo clocks in at slightly less than 100 MB, which makes this the first Live Arcade title to break the previous 50 MB barrier. So far, the gameplay seems to be true to the older PlayStation version, but with added achievement support and various scaling modes to support HDTV resolutions. Some of the scaling modes seem to work better than others, but one should be able to find a decent match to whatever display device is in use. The original soundtrack for the game makes it to the Xbox 360 largely intact, but one can tell that music was fairly heavily compressed to get it into a reasonable file size for Live Marketplace. Beyond this and the mushy Xbox 360 D-Pad, the port is a good way for gamers to experience the title on the 10th anniversary of its release.
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Some times with Nintendo’s Virtual Console releases, it feels like you are getting filler. This week, though, highlights three better than average games that should get those nostalgic feelings flowing again. Excitebike, of course, is Nintendo’s side-scrolling motorbike racer for the NES. Like all NES titles before it, the game sells for 500 Wii points. The other two releases this week might have gotten slightly less attention at first release. Fewer people may have seen Splatterhouse because of the platform it appeared on, but it is a generally decent side-scrolling action game that inspired a number of the survival horror games that would follow. Splatterhouse sells for 600 Wii points. Beyond Oasis is a decent, if a little short, action RPG. The prequel to this story was released as Legend of Oasis on the Sega Saturn. Beyond Oasis sells for 800 Wii points, which might be a bit much for this RPG, but those familiar with the Saturn entry in the series would do well to try the Genesis version out.
Nintendo’s full press release continues below.