Three major franchises are up for evaluation in this edition of Virtual Console Recommendations.
If there's one thing that's as universal as death and taxes, it's that video games will iterate over the years. Today in Virtual Console Recommendations, we look at games from three major gaming franchises.
First up, Matt Blundon takes a look at Super Mario Kart, the game that started the Kart Racing genre and pioneered a major franchise for Nintendo.
Secondly, Andy Goergen checks out a major turning point in the Castlevania franchise in Rondo of Blood, a game which could be considered a "season finale" for the storied brand in that it was the last game in the series that featured traditional stages.
Lastly, Andy helps us decide whether or not the arcade edition of Ninja Gaiden is worth our time or money. The series eventually went on to earn accolades on the NES and Xbox, but it all started in the arcade in 1989.
|System||Virtual Console - Super Nintendo Entertainment System|
|Released||Sep 01, 1992|
The Mario Kart series has come a long way since its debut back in 1992. Each new installment has built upon its predecessors and the end result has usually been positive. With that in mind, all of the bells and whistles added to the series over the years makes the debut title look rather stale.
There is no doubt that Super Mario Kart is a great racing title, but considering that its superior successor has been available on the Virtual Console since 2007, it is difficult to recommend. The game contains much of the same gameplay that the series has become known for, but the visual style may not be for everyone.
The game features eight different characters to play as, each with their own unique skills. There are four different courses to complete, one of which is unlockable. The tracks will be recognizable for retro gamers who have played Mario's earliest adventures, newcomers may find it to be a rather dull selection of courses.
Super Mario Kart is a fun game, but considering that the vastly superior Mario Kart 64 is available for a mere 200 points more, it is hard to recommended Super Mario Kart. Invest your Nintendo Points in its successor instead.
|System||Virtual Console - TurboGrafx-16|
|Controllers||Wii Remote,Wii Classic,GameCube|
|Released||Oct 29, 1993|
Castlevania is a franchise unlike most others, in that despite how long it’s endured as a premier gaming series, it has undergone major changes in its formula over the years. The change to an open ended Metroid-style Castlevania game happened with the PS1 classic Symphony of the Night. The game that often gets lost in the shuffle is the one that preceded Symphony, Rondo of Blood.
Releasing to critical acclaim in Japan, Rondo of Blood (also known as Dracula X) contains many staples of classic Castlevania titles and also several from later Castlevania games such as powered up sub-weapons and multiple playable characters. It has an excellent soundtrack, and while its visuals are good for its era, it looks more like a Genesis game than the visually lush late-era SNES titles of the time.
Rondo contains the level of challenge that you’d expect from the early games in the series, meaning stiff controls and many cheap deaths. If you don't mind a complete lack of English translation, what you'll find here is a top-notch old school Castlevania title and an undisputed classic.
|System||Virtual Console Arcade|
|Controllers||Wii Remote,Wii Classic,GameCube|
|ESRB Rating||Everyone 10+|
Ninja Gaiden, a series first known for the NES trilogy and later rebooted on Xbox, debuted in 1988 in arcades across the United States. 21 years later, it arrived on Virtual Console. The late 1980s were known for Double Dragon-style "beat-em-ups", and unfortunately Ninja Gaiden fares much worse than most. With this game, the question is not, "Does it hold up?", but rather, "Who could have enjoyed this to begin with?"
The game is unbearably slow. Despite the screen clearly indicating many Ninjas in the game, nothing in the game moves as swiftly as a ninja. The main character moves as if he were drowning in maple syrup. Enemies come at you four or five at a time, and while they're not any faster than you, the numbers game often proves fatal. As a result, the game is incredibly difficult. Luckily, the arcade emulation allows you to adjust the number of lives and health units you have, but even so, you will use many continues as you play through.
The genre that Ninja Gaiden occupies is a crowded one. Unless you are a hardest of hardcore Ninja Gaiden fan, there is absolutely no reason to revisit its origin. A plethora of other great games of this style on Virtual Console make this one impossible to recommend.