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Nintendo 3DS Virtual Console Super Guide (in 2D)
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on September 27, 2011   |   Episode 103 (Show Archive)  


Every week Defunct Games makes it a point to review the newest Nintendo 3DS Virtual Console games in a feature we call This Week in Defunct Games. But what happens when you want a quick look at all of the reviews without clicking on a dozen different links? That's why we're introducing the Nintendo 3DS Virtual Console Super Guide (in 2D), a quick look at every 3DS Virtual Console game released with a link to the full review.
Adventure Island
[ Review: Link | Pub: Hudson | Price: $3.99 | System: Game Boy ]
Despite sharing its name with a 1988 NES game, Hudson's Adventure Island is actually a black & white retelling of Adventure Island II. Confused naming aside, Adventure Island sees Master Higgins frolicking around tropical beaches. The game is nothing more than a basic 2D platformer, where you guide Higgins through forests, caves and other dangerous locations. The game features a lot of diverse levels and even a few surprises. Still, I would rather play the original NES game to this black & white port. The price is right, but there are many better platformers already available on the 3DS Virtual Console.

[ Review: Link | Pub: Nintendo | Price: $2.99 | System: Game Boy ]
Even though it has a few problems here and there, I'm still willing to give this game a pass. I can't quite recommend it, but at three dollars it's hard to say no. There simply isn't anything like it on the Virtual Console. Every other game involves platforming or hardcore adventuring, making this the one and only casual game on the virtual shelf. If all you're looking for is a quick game of faux-Arkanoid, then the price is certainly right. On the other hand, you won't be missing anything earth-shattering if you ignore Alleyway all together.

Avenging Spirit
[ Review: Link | Pub: Jaleco | Price: $2.99 | System: Game Boy ]
Now here's a novel idea: You play a ghost who inhabits different bodies in his quest to get revenge. Avenging Spirit looks like your typical 2D action game (you walk to the right kicking and punching your way to victory), but it's more than that. At any point you can leave the host you're controlling and take over a new body. The creative gameplay mechanics and solid graphics (for a Game Boy game) make this release one of the best. The cheap price shouldn't be ignored either. If you're not completely sick of 2D side-scrolling action games on the Virtual Console, then Avenging Spirit is a must-play!

Balloon Kid
[ Review: Link | Pub: Nintendo | Price: $2.99 | System: Game Boy ]
Much like Metroid II, Balloon Kid is the sequel to a popular Nintendo Entertainment System launch game. Consider this a fleshed-out version of Balloon Fight, a Joust-like action game where you float high above the city using nothing but a few balloons. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it, proving that Nintendo's concept was worth exploring. The game does have some gameplay issues, though the floaty controls shouldn't keep you from having a great time with this inexpensive treat. The levels are interesting and there is enough technique to keep you going for quite a few hours. Not the best Virtual Console game, but certainly one worth your $3.

Bionic Commando
[ Review: Link | Pub: Capcom | Price: $3.99 | System: Game Boy ]
Nathan "Rad" Spencer has had a rough go of it recently. Between the low sales of Bionic Commando: Rearmed 2 and the poor critical response to the 3D reboot, Capcom's long-running series appears to have hit a brick wall. Thankfully that hasn't stopped them from uploading this Game Boy port of Bionic Commando. A few changes needed to be made for this black and white port. Gone are the overhead stages, replaced with more side scrolling missions. Capcom has also updated the era, giving the game a decidedly sci-fi feel. The result is the same great Bionic Commando game you know and love, now cheaper and on the 3DS. The changes made to the story and setting are weird, but nothing that should keep you from an otherwise excellent action game.

Blaster Master: Enemy Below
[ Review: Link | Pub: SunSoft | Price: $4.99 | System: Game Boy Color]
Released a dozen years after the original 8-bit NES game, Blaster Master: Enemy Below marked a return to form for SunSoft's misunderstood platformer. Part remake and part sequel, this Game Boy Color game managed to take the best elements and turn them into the game SunSoft wanted to make all along. The game's eight stages are remixed versions of the original, complete with different bosses and a brand new story set years after the first game. Writing Blaster Master: Enemy Below off as a remake is to completely miss the point. While there is content taken directly from the NES original, there's a lot more at play here. This Game Boy Color game offers enough changes to warrant the five dollar asking price.

BurgerTime Deluxe
[ Review: Link | Pub: Data East | Price: $2.99 | System: Game Boy ]
BurgerTime mixes the Pac-Man style maze game with an objective, to walk across giant burger buns and patties to move them down the screen and ultimately build the perfect sandwich. As you progress through the game you'll find new level layouts and more aggressive bad guys. This is a fine game at a good price. It's not one of the Game Boy's best arcade conversions, but won't let you down for three bucks. At the same time, this is the sort of release I would expect years after the 3DS Virtual Console launch, not months into the download service.

[ Review: Link | Pub: Asmik Ace | Price: $2.99 | System: Game Boy ]
Catrap manages to combine the two things the Game Boy does best: 2D platforming and puzzle solving. In this puzzler you play a couple of cat people on a mission to rid a house of ghosts and other baddies. You do this by moving boxes, climbing ladders and path solving a path to the various enemies in the room. While not the biggest name to come to the 3DS Virtual Console recently, Catrap is certainly one of the most surprising. With its unassuming graphics and simple gameplay, I expected very little from this puzzler. However, it didn't take long to completely win me over in a way that came as a shock. With 100 levels, there is plenty of content to get your money's worth.

Donkey Kong
[ Review: Link | Pub: Nintendo | Price: $3.99 | System: Game Boy ]
Donkey Kong is secretly the best Game Boy game on the 3DS Virtual Console. While The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening DX is the amazing game you expect, I was genuinely blown away with the quality of this 1994 platformer. I was shocked at the level of depth found in this tiny download. There were enough levels to keep me busy for the last two weeks, which is not something I can say about Super Mario Land. Even if you only have a passing interest in the old Donkey Kong cabinet, give this Game Boy reimagining a serious look.

Double Dragon
[ Review: Link | Pub: Tradewest | Price: $3.99 | System: Game Boy ]
By now you know the story: An evil gang kidnaps Billy's girlfriend and it's up to you to get her back. In order to do this you walk from left to right beating up everybody that gets in your way. Even in the arcades, Double Dragon has always been a shallow experience. This Game Boy port gets the job done, but yet doesn't feel complete enough to fully recommend. I was impressed by the graphics and level designs in this high quality port, however that wasn't enough to make me forget about the mission two-player co-op mode. While the price is certainly cheap enough, you should definitely know what you're getting yourself in for with Double Dragon on the Game Boy.

Fortified Zone
[ Review: Link | Pub: Jaleco | Price: $3.99 | System: Game Boy ]
If all you're looking for is a predictable overhead action game that resembles Contra, then this four dollar Game Boy port might be a wise investment. I personally found the action dull and the level designs lacking in every conceivable way. The bosses are repetitive, the soldiers are cheap and I found myself nodding off before making it to the final chapters. That's not to say that you can't locate a little fun here and there, but there are better games to buy this week.

Game & Watch Gallery
[ Review: N/A | Pub: Nintendo | Price: $2.99 | System: Game Boy ]
While not as high profile as Mario, Kirby and Zelda, Game & Watch Gallery is just as much fun. The four games are simple, using only one screen each and featuring no animation. But that's part of the charm of this twitch-based action game. These games are simple and addictive, a solid way to spend a few minutes wasting time. Best of all, the cheap price tag makes this casual package easy to swallow. You may not get the depth of Donkey Kong '94, but it's hard to imagine anybody not having a great time with Game & Watch Gallery!

Gargoyle's Quest
[ Review: Link | Pub: Capcom | Price: $3.99 | System: Game Boy ]
With so many amazing Game Boy games coming out, there's almost no reason to pick up the full-priced Nintendo 3DS games. Gargoyle's Quest continues the streak of must-own Virtual Console releases. Even if this game was twice the price, I would still recommend you take on Firebrand's adventure. Gargoyle's Quest is a perfect example of why many gamers consider the early 1990s to be Capcom's golden age.

[ Review: Link | Pub: Nintendo | Price: $2.99 | System: Game Boy ]
Golf's main problem is timing. This is coming out within days of 3DS owners NES Open: Tournament Golf for free. While I'm not the biggest fan of NES Open, it's infinitely better than this early Game Boy title. There just aren't enough modes and options to hold my interest, even at the three dollar asking price. In this case you're better off sticking with the free NES game saving your money for a better Virtual Console title.

Kirby's Dream Land
[ Review: Link | Pub: Nintendo | Price: $3.99 | System: Game Boy ]
Despite finding himself on a few consoles over the years, Kirby has always been best on the handhelds. I remember liking Kirby's Dream Land when it first came out, but I was impressed by how well it has aged. Perhaps it has something to do with Nintendo's strong lineage of top-quality platformers or maybe it's just luck, whatever the case I was quickly engrossed by this unique world. Although Super Mario Land is a fantastic game, it can't hold a candle to Kirby's Dream Land.

Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening
[ Review: Link | Pub: Nintendo | Price: $5.99 | System: Game Boy Color ]
A remake of the 1993 Game Boy game, Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening DX marks the first color 3DS Virtual Console game. Did I mention that the game is nearly twice as expensive as other Virtual Console titles? This 15 year old Game Boy Color title is a staggering six dollars, putting it in line with most of the PlayStation 1 games released on the PSN. The price is easier to swallow knowing that it's one of Nintendo's best Zelda sequels; however I hope this isn't a sign that all future Game Boy Color releases will be that expensive. If you aren't bored by the standard Zelda cliches, Link's Awakening is a must-buy for every 3DS owner.

Lock 'N Chase
[ Review: Link | Pub: Data East | Price: $3.99 | System: Game Boy ]
Do you like Pac-Man and really into robbing banks? Then boy do I have a game for you. It's called Lock 'N Chase and it is this week's Virtual Console release. Imagine Namco's yellow pellet-muncher as a bank robber. You're tasked with picking up dots symbolizing money (instead of, you know, dots) and dodging police men. By picking up a diamond you will turn invincible and eliminate the cops from the board, not unlike Pac-Man's power pellet. There's also a big bag of money, which takes the place of Pac-Man's fruit. It's easy to see why people loved this Data East arcade game in the 1980s, but it's just not worth the money in 2012.

Mario's Picross
[ Review: Link | Pub: Nintendo | Price: $3.99 | System: Game Boy ]
The idea is simple enough: It's up to the player to carve out specific tiles in order to uncover a secret picture. If you already own Picross DS for the Nintendo DS, then don't bother with this 1995 puzzler. However, if you missed out on more advanced installments, this $3.99 Virtual Console release is a great way to test the waters. With solid gameplay and more than enough content, Mario's Picross is an easy game to recommend.

Mega Man: Dr. Wily's Revenge
[ Review: Link | Pub: Nintendo | Price: $3.99 | System: Game Boy ]
Although Dr. Wily's Revenge was a phenomenal action game on the Game Boy, twenty years later it is hardly the best version of Mega Man you can buy. These days you can get all of the 8-bit adventures in one single package, plus download real copies (and even remakes) of the first two games. Still, it's hard to pass up the four dollar asking price. The presentation will still impress and I enjoyed the mix of characters, even if we're ultimately playing through the same levels. This game is not without its problems, but should be seriously considered.

Metroid II
[ Review: Link | Pub: Nintendo | Price: $3.99 | System: Game Boy ]
There once was a time when Metroid II was the most controversial game in the franchise. Thanks to the release of Metroid: Other M and Metroid Hunters, those days are long past us. Metroid II is a solid action game that shows off what the Game Boy was capable of. At the same time, it suffers from some questionable gameplay decisions. While I would have preferred a less linear sequel, Return of Samus is still a heck of an action game. The graphics are good, the gameplay is top notch and I still had a great time exploring this convoluted maze. Be warned that some purists may balk at the recommendation, but Metroid II is worth at least $4. Just make sure and stick around for the touching ending.

[ Review: Link | Pub: Nintendo | Price: $3.99 | System: Game Boy ]
With so many better versions of Pac-Man available, there's absolutely no reason to buy this Game Boy port. You're better off picking up the recently released Pac-Man & Galaga Dimensions for the 3DS. For one dollar more, PSP owners can pick up Pac-Man: Championship Edition and completely forget about moving backgrounds. With so many choices out there, Pac-Man on the Game Boy should be at the bottom of your list.

[ Review: Link | Pub: Nintendo | Price: $2.99 | System: Game Boy ]
These days Qix is not the only game in town. Recently Laughing Jackal released Cubixx, a three-dimensional version of Qix for the PSP. Even without the fancy effects and quality music, Qix delivers a solid experience on the Nintendo 3DS. The three dollar asking price makes this a no-brainer, even if you only play it a few minutes here and there. This is a timeless classic that will fit in perfectly next to Donkey Kong and Link's Awakening.

Radar Mission
[ Review: Link | Pub: Nintendo | Price: $2.99 | System: Game Boy ]
Much like Alleyway, Radar Mission feels a lot like somebody else's game. In this case it's Battleship, the Milton Bradley board game we all played as children. I'm of two minds when it comes to Radar Mission. If you love Battleship and can see yourself playing it with somebody on the go, then this is definitely worth the three dollar asking price. However, this is the type of game you could just as easily create with a paper and pencil. The single-player campaign isn't varied enough to stay interesting and the opponent AI is all over the board. It's not a bad game, but know what you're getting yourself into.

Side Pocket
[ Review: Link | Pub: Data East | Price: $2.99 | System: Game Boy ]
Based on the popular arcade cabinet (and 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System classic), Side Pocket is a no frills pool simulator. You get two different modes to play through, as well as a two-player mode that heats up the action. Unfortunately that's not enough to distract players from the litany of problems associated with this 21 year old Game Boy game. Both modes are marred by inconsistent physics and low rent presentation. Here's a game that fails to get even the basics of pool right. As far as I'm concerned you're spending three dollars on a broken billiards simulator. That may not sound like much scratch, but you deserve better than this black and white Side Pocket port.

Super Mario Land
[ Review: Link | Pub: Nintendo | Price: $2.99 | System: Game Boy ]
Super Mario Land is not the slam dunk it should be. It doesn't have that patented Super Mario feel and it's too short for its own good. The vehicle levels are just plain weird and the story is even more nonsensical than usual. And yet I'm going to recommend it. It's a tepid recommendation, but the price is just about right for this relic. Best of all, this allows Nintendo to bring on the Super Mario Land game we're all waiting for: 6 Golden Coins.

Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins
[ Review: Link | Pub: Nintendo | Price: $3.99 | System: Game Boy ]
It took Nintendo three very long years to release a follow-up to Super Mario's first Game Boy outing. Thankfully it didn't take Nintendo that long to release it on the 3DS Virtual Console. Super Mario Land 2 is an easy game to recommend. It's not just how good the game looks, but also the originality (and diversity) of each stage. This is one of the only Mario games with fun boss battles, not to mention a new batch of useful power-ups. The four dollar asking price doesn't hurt either. While the first Super Mario Land may have been something of a letdown, this sequel is on par with Mario's greatest 8-bit outings. It's hard to imagine anybody not having an incredible time busting through this Game Boy masterpiece.

[ Review: Link | Pub: Nintendo | Price: $2.99 | System: Game Boy ]
Tennis is Nintendo's way of trolling the 3DS Virtual Console. This is one of those games I would have recommended twenty years ago. The gameplay is fast and competitive, something we didn't see a lot of in the early days of the Game Boy. However, I can't ignore the two decades that have helped me redefine what a sports game is. With nothing much to do and no customization options, Tennis isn't even worth the dirt cheap three dollar asking price. You're better off waiting for Mario Tennis.

[ Review: Link | Pub: Nintendo | Price: $2.99 | System: Game Boy ]
Tetris is a lot of things. It's the game that single-handedly created an entire genre of puzzlers. It is still one of the very best launch games of all time. It's one of the few games that has yet to be improved by technology. This is more than present in the original Game Boy version of Tetris, developed by Bullet-Proof Software and published by Nintendo. For those who recently suffered a blow to the head, Tetris is the game where blocks fall from the sky. You match up these blocks to make a line, which adds to your score and line count. Get four lines and you'll earn the ultimate prize, a Tetris. If the blocks reach the top of the well it's game over for you. Normally I would tell you to wait for Tetris DX. Not because it's in color, but rather the fact that it saves your high scores. What was a major oversight once has been rectified thanks to the Virtual Console's save system. Now you don't to worry about losing your high score, making this a near perfect version of Russia's greatest import since Yakov Smirnoff.



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