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A Trio of Staples

by Andy Goergen - January 26, 2011, 6:19 pm
Total comments: 25

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.


Super Mario Kart

SystemVirtual Console - Super Nintendo Entertainment System

Cost800 Points
Players2
ControllersWii Classic,GameCube
ESRB RatingEveryone
ReleasedSep 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.

Recommended for Fans

- Matthew Blundon



Castlevania: Rondo of Blood

SystemVirtual Console - TurboGrafx-16

Cost900 Points
Players1
ControllersWii Remote,Wii Classic,GameCube
ESRB RatingTeen
ReleasedOct 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.

Recommended for Everyone

- Andy Goergen



Ninja Gaiden

SystemVirtual Console Arcade

Cost600 Points
Players2
ControllersWii Remote,Wii Classic,GameCube
ESRB RatingEveryone 10+
ReleasedOct 1998

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.

Not Recommended

- Andy Goergen


Talkback

I, of course, highly disagree with Matt's evaluation of SMK vs. MK64.  The control and gameplay is much more solid in SMK, but we've been over this in other threads.

TJ SpykeJanuary 26, 2011

I agree with Matt on this, I think MK64 is better. Neither one is the best in the series though, that would either be Mario Kart DS or Mario Kart Wii.

Quote from: MegaByte

I, of course, highly disagree with Matt's evaluation of SMK vs. MK64.  The control and gameplay is much more solid in SMK, but we've been over this in other threads.

I feel like the age-old debate hinges on what game you grew up with. Mario Kart 64 played a much bigger role in my youthful multiplayer-playing days, while Super Mario Kart was never a huge focus.

I don't think either of the Mario Kart titles on the VC have aged very well. I'd argue MK64 is better, but that's most likely because I have strong nostalgia for it and none for SMK. I agree with TJ Spyke, though, that the DS and Wii Mario Karts are far superior.

Also, I believe the Ninja Gaiden review should say it came to the Virtual console twenty-one years later, not eleven.

*Deletes NWR bookmark*

SilverQuilavaJanuary 26, 2011

It'd be incredibly great if NintendoWorldReport evaluated Paper Mario for the Nintendo 64 next. I wish even I could evaluate Paper Mario, I mean it's my favorite game in the world. No one anywhere can name any game that I could like better. It'd be cool if they'd do it, but it's okay if not.

yoshi1001January 26, 2011

SMK has the best battle mode (they need to bring back the feather-but only for battle mode), but other than that it's been outclassed by its many successors.

TheBlackCatJanuary 26, 2011

I, on the other hand, never even owned MK64.  The original, however, was one of my favorites in the SNES.  However, I don't think it has aged well.  When I played it on virtual console I was pretty disappointed. 

Quote from: SilverQuilava

It'd be incredibly great if NintendoWorldReport evaluated Paper Mario for the Nintendo 64 next. I wish even I could evaluate Paper Mario, I mean it's my favorite game in the world. No one anywhere can name any game that I could like better. It'd be cool if they'd do it, but it's okay if not.

Done!  Actually, done a long time ago, right here: http://www.nintendoworldreport.com/recommendations/14041


It was written up and recommended for "Everyone" by Evan Burchfield back in 2007.

GoldenPhoenixJanuary 26, 2011

Quote from: TJ

I agree with Matt on this, I think MK64 is better. Neither one is the best in the series though, that would either be Mario Kart DS or Mario Kart Wii.

I agree, never could get into SMK even when it was new. Mario Kart 64 on the other hand provided countless hours of fun, the battle arenas were great for the most part, I love the multiteered levels, and also the ability to jump, not to mention revenge was so much fun as the bomb (well until you got squished by star power).  But also MK Wii and MK DS are superior games, I'd give the nod to MK DS but it is close!

purevalJanuary 26, 2011

The Ninja Gaiden review shows up under Castlevania as well.

TJ SpykeJanuary 27, 2011

Quote from: GoldenPhoenix

Quote from: TJ

I agree with Matt on this, I think MK64 is better. Neither one is the best in the series though, that would either be Mario Kart DS or Mario Kart Wii.

I agree, never could get into SMK even when it was new. Mario Kart 64 on the other hand provided countless hours of fun, the battle arenas were great for the most part, I love the multiteered levels, and also the ability to jump, not to mention revenge was so much fun as the bomb (well until you got squished by star power).  But also MK Wii and MK DS are superior games, I'd give the nod to MK DS but it is close!

True, the battle modes were incredibly fun when you could get 4 players. I was happy that the DS game finally added bots though since you could now play multiplayer modes even when you can play with another person.

Am I the only person who likes Double Dash the best?

Quote from: Jonnyboy117

Am I the only person who likes Double Dash the best?

Double Dash is underrated, but the online play and (in my opinion) better track design of the DS and Wii versions cancel out the interesting mechanical changes, and then some.

NemoJanuary 27, 2011

I'm interested in Rondo of Blood. Can someone please elaborate on "complete lack of English translation"? Is the game playable to someone who only knows English?

Also, I thought Super Castlevania IV (SNES - preceded Rondo) and Symphony of the Night (PS1 - succeeded Rondo) were pretty manageable in terms of difficulty.  I recall the NES games being somewhat silly difficult. What would be the best comparison to other games of the series?

TJ SpykeJanuary 27, 2011

I like Double Dash, but it takes some getting used to the controls (I can pick up any other Mario Kart game and play right away, but I have to readjust when I want to play DD).

ShyGuyJanuary 27, 2011

I too like Double Dash the best. The Coop innovation is underrated.

KDR_11kJanuary 27, 2011

Quote from: MegaByte

I, of course, highly disagree with Matt's evaluation of SMK vs. MK64.  The control and gameplay is much more solid in SMK, but we've been over this in other threads.

In 3D games I assume that the camera is pointing forward, when it lags behind the car during turns that means I oversteer because I can't tell when the car is aligned with where I want to go.

Ian SaneJanuary 27, 2011

Quote:

Neither one is the best in the series though, that would either be Mario Kart DS or Mario Kart Wii.


I have a big problem with the newer Maro Karts and that is that they seem to reward random luck or just outright incompetence over skill.  I cannot enjoy Mario Kart Wii.  If I'm doing good it gives me shit power-ups while those behind me crush my ass with their awesome power-ups.  I'm more or less punished for doing well.  Meanwhile if I'm behind they give me awesome power-ups so if I catch up and win there is no sense of accomplishment because I only won because the game handicapped in my favour.  Mario Kart Wii is the point where I said "fuck Mario Kart" and I'm no longer interested in the series.

I honestly have not played Super Mario Kart or Mario Kart 64 since they were current games so I don't know really how I feel about them now.  At the time I did prefer Mario Kart 64 largely because it was four players.  It's a lot more fun to play with more people.  People rave about SMK's battle mode but I never liked it because it was one-on-one.  I like involving more people.  I don't care for one-on-one FPS death match either.

I don't like how Mario Kart handicaps so much for weak players.  I want to win and lose on my own merits.  So whatever Mario Kart games reward skill the most are the ones I would consider superior.  I think the switch from 2D to 3D however greatly improved the course design which would be to SMK's disadvantage.

TJ SpykeJanuary 27, 2011

I think Nintendo should give the option to turn of certain or all items, just like they did with Super Smash Bros. Brawl. I will keep them on though since the items are a major part of the series, but I know others don't like it.

SilverQuilavaJanuary 30, 2011

Quote from: NWR_DrewMG

Quote from: SilverQuilava

It'd be incredibly great if NintendoWorldReport evaluated Paper Mario for the Nintendo 64 next. I wish even I could evaluate Paper Mario, I mean it's my favorite game in the world. No one anywhere can name any game that I could like better. It'd be cool if they'd do it, but it's okay if not.

Done!  Actually, done a long time ago, right here: http://www.nintendoworldreport.com/recommendations/14041


It was written up and recommended for "Everyone" by Evan Burchfield back in 2007.

Quote from: NWR_DrewMG

Quote from: SilverQuilava

It'd be incredibly great if NintendoWorldReport evaluated Paper Mario for the Nintendo 64 next. I wish even I could evaluate Paper Mario, I mean it's my favorite game in the world. No one anywhere can name any game that I could like better. It'd be cool if they'd do it, but it's okay if not.

Done!  Actually, done a long time ago, right here: http://www.nintendoworldreport.com/recommendations/14041


It was written up and recommended for "Everyone" by Evan Burchfield back in 2007.

Hey, thanks!

NWR_KarlKarl Castaneda, Contributing EditorJanuary 30, 2011

Fact: Crash Team Racing is better than Mario Kart 64.

Fact: The best kart racer of all time is Mario Kart DS.

Fact: Mario Kart 64 controls like ass and has the worst art in the history of the sub-franchise.

Mop it upJanuary 30, 2011

I agree on Super Mario Kart. The game was good for its time, but it simply isn't worth playing today, other than by fans of the Mario Kart series who are curious about its roots. Although, I don't think Mario Kart 64 has aged well either, so I wouldn't recommend it meself.

I also think anyone who says the items are bad in Mario Kart Wii needs to play Mario Kart 64 again. The balancing was just awful in that game, you could get powerful items like stars and lighting in second place. The method in which Mario Kart Wii distributes items is definitely more balanced than every other game except the SNES version.

Quote from: TJ

I think Nintendo should give the option to turn of certain or all items, just like they did with Super Smash Bros. Brawl. I will keep them on though since the items are a major part of the series, but I know others don't like it.

The Vs. Mode in Mario Kart Wii has a similar option. You can turn all items off, or you can choose one of three presets, which are Balanced, Strategic, and Powerful. I actually don't think an individual item selection menu would work out very well, it would really throw off the item balance, especially considering the item you get is based on placing.

vuduFebruary 03, 2011

Quote from: Nemo

I'm interested in Rondo of Blood. Can someone please elaborate on "complete lack of English translation"? Is the game playable to someone who only knows English?

Yes, the game is perfectly playable despite the lack of localization.  There's a cut scene at the beginning--and probably the end, but I can't confirm since I haven't beaten it yet--that's not translated, but it's hardly required for playing the game.  You should be able to figure out what's going on anyway.  ;)

StratosFebruary 03, 2011

Quote from: NWR_Neal

Quote from: MegaByte

I, of course, highly disagree with Matt's evaluation of SMK vs. MK64.  The control and gameplay is much more solid in SMK, but we've been over this in other threads.

I feel like the age-old debate hinges on what game you grew up with. Mario Kart 64 played a much bigger role in my youthful multiplayer-playing days, while Super Mario Kart was never a huge focus.

You'd think so but SMK was my first and my family and I played a ton of it. But when MK64 released we switched right over to it and never looked back. No longer did we need to swap controllers. I went back recently and played SMK. It's super floaty controls are hard to re-adapt to after so long but it can still be fun. In the end I look back more fondly on the N64 one.

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