Back in 2006, I thought the Wii's implementation of the Virtual Console service was a godsend. I was graduating in less than six months and was planning on moving away for college, and the last thing I wanted to do was haul ALL of my old game consoles and their respective library of games for each. It was bad enough just trying to pack the essentials, but all these plastic cartridges? No thanks. Luckily, some of my favorites started popping up online for me to purchase, as well as some goodies that had been stolen throughout the years. But after a few years of greatness, the Virtual Console started to slow down to the point where it would take months for anything truly exciting would pop up.
I've spent the last couple of weeks catching up on podcasts I've missed for various reasons, and during one of 1UP's Retronauts episodes, Bob Mackey mentioned what Virtual Console games he'd like to see, and though he couldn't name them off the top of his head, I figured I'd do my own little list on what games I'm still waiting for. (Hint, it's a LOT).
But for now, I just thought I'd write about some of my most-wanted still-to-be-released Virtual Console games
10. Bomberman 64: The Second Attack!
This is perhaps my all-time favorite console Bomberman game. You take control of Bomberman who must travel the galaxy in search of elemental crystals being held by the mysterious Astral Knights. With a surprisingly deep and dark plot, TSA! combined interesting and varied level designs with elemental bombs, creating some rather clever and head-scratching puzzles. You could also travel back to previous levels with your new abilities to find items that would alter and upgrade your appearance (like Dr. Light's upgrades in the Mega Man X series).
The game also had two-player cooperative experience where a second player could control Pommy, the cute little alien that joins Bomberman at the beginning of his quest. Along the way, Pommy could evolve into many different forms (a really deep game mechanic) that each gave different abilities. In short, the Story mode offered a lot in terms of replay value, and even had multiple endings depending on the choices you made.
Like almost all other Bomberman games, TSA! featured a great multiplayer mode. While it featured the classic "grid" battles the series is known for, it unfortunately wasn't implemented that well. However, the other gametypes did more than enough to make up for that, including Survival, Key Trials, Team and, my personal favorite, Capture the King. Each arena took place in open environments and really encouraged players to play to their strengths. Why this hasn't made the Virtual Console really perplexes me, as Bomberman Hero (while decent enough on its own merits) is the only N64 entry available.
9. Mega Man X3
We all know how amazing Mega Man X is, and if you've seen Egoraptor's alarmingly comprehensive
breakdown, you already know how well-designed it is, too. And as great a game as it is, Mega Man X3 is still my favorite in the series. I've already gushed about it in a previous blog entry, but I'm going to do it again anyway because, hey, it's that good!
The game featured spectacular
level design that encouraged exploration, awesome enemy and boss design (Blast Hornet being my personal favorite) and perhaps some of the best music in the series. Seriously, go and listen right now
. The action was incredibly intense and even got harder as you progressed; special bosses (Bit and Byte) would appear in any unfinished level after you beat a few, and would come to throw you off your game. Capcom, hurry and get this on the service; this was the last game in the X series before... well, things got weird
Oh, and it was so satisfying getting that Gold Armor and completely destroying Sigma.
8. Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals (SNES)
For as long as I can remember, I've always been a big Lufia fan. This RPG series has five games in its repertoire (most recently, a DS remake of this particular game), and though most of them range in the "just okay" category, it still has a special place in my heart. But Lufia II: RotS is perhaps one the greatest, most overlooked RPGs in the SNES library. While the story isn't as progressive as other games like Final Fantasy III/VI or Chrono Trigger, it still manages to tell a great one about what it means to truly love someone and the lengths you'll go to protect them.
The battle system is your typical turn-based affair, but it's a great one that also features a limit break-like system as seen in the later Final Fantasy VII. Along with a Pokemon-style Capsule Monster system, you can find and recruit special monsters to fight alongside you in battle, each with their own moves and abilities. The best thing about this game however, is its clever level design. Rather than just dungeon crawling (something even its predecessor is guilty of), the game mixes things up with some rather unique and clever puzzles that must be solved in order to progress. Battles aren't random, either; while in these dungeons, everything moves at your place, meaning you can strike enemies (a la Paper Mario) and get the upper hand on them or just avoid them entirely.
When I was about thirteen playing through this game the first time, it had me questioning things I had seen in other games; most particularly, the relationships between characters and why they care about one another. Why? Lufia II brought all four main party members close together, and by the game's end, you really feel for them as everything seems to go to hell around them. Pack this with a somewhat tragic ending, you're left with one of the most emotionally-gripping games on the SNES that is not to be missed.
And the boss theme is amazing
7. Harvest Moon 64 (N64)
I think most people agree when someone says this is the best in the series. While the Harvest Moon series has had its ups and downs in recent years, this game still remains as one of the best, most addictive games. Long before Farmville swept the world through Facebook, Harvest Moon 64 had players planting, growing, harvesting and selling crops in order to restore their late grandfather's farms to full glory. The player could even raise a variety of livestock such as cows, sheep and chicken which, depending on the player's caretaking skills, could produce a dairy products that could also be sold to buy more equipment, items or upgrade your farm.
One of the coolest features of this game was its relationship mechanic. The game featured five girls each with completely different personalities the player could court, marry and eventually have a child with. The world felt real, with characters going about their lives during the day, with special events that ranged from dog races to New Year's celebrations. While the game is notable among gamers for its amount of in-game bugs (even the company's name, Natsume, is misspelled on the title screen), it's still the best in the long-running franchise and is sorely missed on the Virtual Console.
6. Dragon Warrior/Quest III (NES)
Personally, I feel all
of the original NES Dragon Warrior games should be made available on the Virtual Console, but if I had to pick one, this would be it. Often considered to be one of the best in the franchise, DWIII greatly expanded on its predecessor's in nearly every way, and changed the course of the genre forever with its implementation of a class system. There were eight classes the player could assign their party members to (though the player themselves would always be the Hero class) that opened up to all different kinds of styles of play.
It even had a more streamlined user interface, like item sorting, simple door opening commands and even the ability to heal all of your party's HP with one command. DWIII was more open-ended than its predecessors that allowed for day/night cycles with certain quests and items that could only be accessible at specific times. And while the story was simple (especially when compared to Final Fantasy titles), it was still an enjoyable one, with an ending that was so good, it inspired even more recent titles like Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII.
Of course, I'd love the 25th Anniversary Wii Collection to be released in the U.S. even more, SquareEnix!
5. Donkey Kong 64 (N64)
Pretty much during every Nintendo Shop weekly update here on Destructoid you'll probably see me complaining about this.
I'm still curious as to why this game still hasn't made its way to the Virtual Console service. I've heard that it's most likely due to the rights of Rare's game Jetpac being owned by Microsoft (the game appears in DK64 as a special bonus game), it's still not entirely clear why this hasn't appeared on Nintendo's online service; even Rare doesn't know why.
While this game is notorious for having way too many collectibles, it's still a very solid 3D platformer that holds its own against the likes of Super Mario 64, Rayman 2 and even Rare's own Banjo-Kazooie. Each of the game's worlds were absolutely enormous that really emphasized exploration, and with a great soundtrack that still holds up to this day, Donkey Kong 64 is easily one of the biggest and best games on the Nintendo 64. But hey, that's just, like, my opinion, man.
4. Castlevania Bloodlines (Sega Genesis)
Konami, can I ask you something? Why isn't this on the Virtual Console yet? You've got Castlevania I through IV and even the PC Engine version of Rondo of Blood up there, but not this one. Can I ask why? Did you just forget that you had it, or... what? I honestly believe this should have been released over FIVE YEARS AGO when Portrait of Ruin was released, seeing how that was a direct sequel and all. It could have even been marketed as such.
In my opinion, Bloodlines is the most underappreciated game in the series. It was the only Castlevania game in the series to be released exclusively on a Sega console (that wasn't cancelled, anyway) and is, in my opinion, one of the best. Bloodlines featured two different playable characters, the classic whip-wielder in John Morris (not a Belmont?) and his spear-wielding friend, Eric Lecarde. Each controlled differently with different styles of play in a game that was so quick-paced and action-oriented that you couldn't help but play through it multiple times as each.
The game's story took place during World War I (an event said to have been caused by Elizabeth Bartley, one of the game's villainesses) and while the player starts off in the remains of the NES' original Castlevania, it soon starts to jump all around different parts of Europe, ranging from Athens, Greece to England. The game had an almost arcade-like feel to it, and probably one of the best soundtracks
in a Genesis title. I recently purchased this game and personally feel that it plays better today than it did over fifteen years ago when it was first released.
Please Konami, bring this one back.
3. Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon (N64)
This is one of my top five all-time favorite games on the Nintendo 64. Mystical Ninja was a quirky, funny and downright run 3D platformer that took place in what could only be described as a caricature of feudal Japan. While this series was immensely popular in Japan, for whatever reason (but probably for the reasons mentioned above), it never took off in the U.S. There were about four released here (one on the SNES, two on the N64 and one on the original GameBoy) and each were of amazing quality.
Combining the platforming of Super Mario 64 with the level designs and adventure elements of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (seriously, why didn't more games do this?), Mystical Ninja was an incredibly fun romp through the quirky world of Goemon and friends, whom the player could recruit and play as. Japan felt huge in scale, and boss battles took place in the seat of a giant robot fighting other robots. I'm not kidding you when I say how quirky this game is; seriously, just watch the intro
And, like many other Konami series, it features one of the best
soundtracks in video game history
. Oh, and the coolest theme song for any giant fight robot EVER
2. Goemon's Great Adventure (N64)
As you can probably tell, I'm a HUGE fan of Konami's Goemon series. Like the original games on the NES and SNES, Goemon's Great Adventure went back to its side-scrolling roots, taking place in five different themed worlds complete with unique levels, fun side quests and even more giant fighting robot fights.
It was a 2.5D platformer in every sense of the word; unlike more modern takes on the genre, the world around you twisted and turned as you progressed, making you feel like you were exploring a fully-open 3D world even on a 2D plane, something I wish more 2.5D platformers would do. You could even recruit a second player to join in on the action, taking control of either Goemon, or his friends Ebisumaru, the eccentric blue ninja with flatulence problems, Sasuke the robot ninja, or Yae, the badass "big sister" who could transform into a mermaid.
The game featured a day/night system that had an impact on each level and various quests throughout the game. During the day, everything seemed normal, but at night, the stronger enemies came out, offering more coins rewarded for their tougher defeat, which could be used to purchase items, temporary upgrades and, my personal favorites, costumes for each character. The story was even funnier, the characters even more quirky, and the music, even better than ever before
I've been waiting over ten years for a new entry in this series to hit North American shores (the last was the Japan-exclusive DS game back in 2005), and while it looks unlikely we'll ever get another one, these two N64 games are some of my favorite games on the system, nay, of all time
, and contain experiences that I will never forget.
Konami, please bring back Goemon, even if it's just one last time. We miss him.
You probably knew this was coming. Technically, this one's been released exclusively to early adopters of the Nintendo 3DS, but that doesn't count in my book. And besides, it's the not-as-good-as-the-SNES-version GBA port that was released in 2002. I've heard that the reason for it not being on the Wii's Virtual Console is because it did some special stuff for the SNES' hardware (kind of like StarFox's Super FX chip), but this is still unknown.
I love Final Fantasy III. I love Super Mario World. I love The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. But Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island is my favorite SNES game of all time. I love this game. I love everything about this game. And while I know everyone loves it, too, I don't think they understand why or love it enough.
Yoshi's Island features some of the best of everything the system and genre is known for. The graphics and visual aesthetics are absolutely gorgeous
, and even breathtaking at certain parts in the game. The music is wonderful
and invokes the feelings of childhood innocence
. The level design is masterfully crafted and keeps things fresh at such an incredible and perfect pace; there isn't a single instance where you feel like you're doing something meaningless, dull or out-of-place. The level of challenge is spot-on; as the game progresses, you gradually adapt and overcome the bigger and tougher obstacles that stand in your way. Not once do you ever feel like it's the game's fault. The level of control is incredibly tight and fluid. Not only can you grab enemies out of reach (something the Mario Bros. could never do), but the amount of control you get over your hovering ability gives you a sense of perfect control, almost as if you are
Yoshi. The ability to throw eggs opens up a whole new gameplay style that pushes your reflexes, twitch skills and puzzle-solving abilities to their very limits and then some, especially the hidden extra levels.
Yoshi's Island is as close to perfect as a videogame can get. An experience where all elements of game, level, art and sound design come together in unison by an incredibly talented team firing with everything they've got. The SNES was soon to be overshadowed by the coming N64, and Nintendo decided to go out with one last platforming hurrah before they would change the course of the gaming industry forever with the revolutionary Super Mario 64.
And what a last hurrah it was. Yoshi's Island is a shining example of the capabilities of the SNES and everything it could do. Nintendo, it's time to bring this one back one last time.