Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Savage Virtual Console Apocalypse

I love the Wii's Virtual Console service. Bringing all of my favorite titles from yesteryear right to my game system for a reasonable price. You want to play NES games? You got it. Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo games? Sure thing. TurboGrafx 16? Hell, we'll even throw in some of the TurboGrafx CD games for good measure. You want some Japanese games, too? Go right ahead. Domo arigato, Mr. Nintendo.

The Virtual Console could very well rule the world, but it doesn't.

Why? Well aside from the obvious (that being yours truly rules the world), it's not being utilized to it's fullest. Sure, they put some great games on there, but there's a lot of crap on there, too. Seriously, who wants to play Mach Rider, or the Adventures of Lolo, or Milon's Secret Castle (The Angry Video Game Nerd said it was terrible)? They even have Donkey Kong Jr. Math. Who the hell wants to play a math game?

And those are just in the NES games. Fortunately, the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis libraries are not as clogged with as many shitty games as the NES, but you can still find some crap lying around there. Not only that, but there are plenty of games that have yet to see the light of day on the service. Where are all the cool Enix games? You only have Actraiser available. Where's Soul Blazer or Illusion of Gaia? Hell, where's the Dragon Warrior series?

The weekly releases seem like just a small trickle, too. Initially, they said that there would be four games released every week. I think that might have happened only once or twice since its inception. During the winter, they usually only put out two games. And when it picks back up in the spring, you'll usually see up to three per week. Now, I understand that Nintendo can only do so much each week, so I'm not too bent out of shape about that.

Then comes the advent of WiiWare. At first, I thought, "Cool, some downloadable modern games." But then I realized that , instead of releasing three for the VC and one for WiiWare, the WiiWare release often took the spot of one of the VC releases. So now, if you're lucky, you get a WiiWare game and two VC games. Not to mention the fact that half the WiiWare games are nothing more than a bunch of shovelware. You want a shitload of mediocre puzzle games? No? Too bad. You wanna play a bean bag tossing game? Neither do I, but they made it, anyway. Oh, here's a good one. Do you want to have your own farm... full of Pokemon? Can you do anything with it? No, not really. You just watch them as they act all cute. That'll be ten bucks, please.

Sure, there are great games for WiiWare. I love Strong Bad's Cool Game For Attractive People. I even like some of the WiiWare iterations of classic francises, like Bomberman Blast and Gradius Rebirth. The last WiiWare game I picked up was Onslaught, a Japanese first person shooter. I don't know if any Japanese company has ever made a first person shooter before this. It feels very much like an arcade game, though. It's not bad.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that Nintendo's online game services are great, but they're not as awesome as they should be. I still think that the VC is better than WiiWare, mostly because the latter is full of fledgling video game companies trying to make a quick buck by flinging monkey shit, while the former is full of seasoned video game companies trying to make a quick buck by rereleasing all their old games, which, by the way, some of them are still monkey shit.

I'll leave you with one moment of promise for the service. This independent company, WayForward, made a puzzle-horror game called LIT. It has a simple premise and storyline, but the mix of horror and puzzle elements gives it a fresh hook. It's not a bad game at all. I just hope we see more forward thinking game developers who can keep giving us something that pushes the boundaries of gaming. We all know the Wii could use all the help it can get in that department.

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