Sailing the Blue Skies since 2001.
The Wii's Virtual Console has a bevy of titles now available. I have a Wii at home at last, but no broadband to download these games yet...but I do know what games are available and what VC titles I've played on their original systems, so I thought it wouldn't hurt to let you know what I think your best bets would be on the service so far...in my opinion, of course. I haven't played everything, so I'll only cover what I have played. I've followed the VC scene, so I do know what's been stripped from their originals. So, let's start!
Note - Please note that we're only covering the North American Virtual Console...but many of these titles are available for PAL regions as well.
Nester's picked some of his favorite VC titles thus far and written a little blurb on them, which I've included in this list. N = Nester, W = Wildcat.
NES (500 points)
Super Mario Bros.
W- Naturally, owning this on the VC is a given UNLESS you have it some other way. Super Mario All-Stars, SMB Deluxe, the NES Classics version...or perhaps the NES original? At any rate, it's worth a DL since the game helped springboard the industry we have today. And it's still pretty fun to play.
Legend of Zelda
W- I can easily recommend this, but there's the same issue that SMB has - Nintendo's ported this quite a bit in recent years. If you have the LoZ Collector's disc for the GC or the NES Classics port, I can't really say this is any better. Otherwise, I highly suggest you discover the roots of gaming's greatest franchise.
W- DK for the NES is still fun, but it's missing a lot of the charm of the arcade to recommend it. A complete level is missing! Not to mention the quirky cinematics in-between levels. It's just not the same as the arcade classic. Besides, you can get this port in the GC Animal Crossing. :p
Donkey Kong Jr.
W- I love DK Jr., but again, the NES port isn't perfect. It's another AC NES title as well.
W- Arguably one of the best sports games on the NES, Tecmo Bowl is simple, fast-paced football that is pretty enjoyable. This version of it loses the NFL player's names it once held, so now you're stuck with generic "Denver#" instead of Elway. Still though, it's a solid enough example of how to make a good sports game on the NES, so it's worth a go if you like football.
W- Buy this now. I kid you not. Kirby's Adventure is easily one of the best NES games you can get, and $5 is a steal for the quality you'll be getting. This game set a lot of the Kirby standards that exist today (power stealing being the biggest), and despite its low-key difficulty, it offers up a ton of secrets to hunt down and is a solid gameplay experience. It looks great too.
W- Animal Crossing also offered this up, so if you have that, I can't recommend this. The puzzler is fun and unique, plus it offers up Toad's only solo starring role in Nintendo history, but it didn't really do much for me when I played it. Then again, I'm not a huge puzzle fan, so maybe I'm just biased. :p
W- One of the toughest Nintendo games out there, Kid Icarus is worth a DL if you'd like to know Pit's history before his Brawl appearance, as well as if you seek a good challenge. KI is not a cakewalk. It has fierce enemies, tricky platforming and somewhat puzzling level design. But it has a lot of charm. I have to add that the old cheat codes no longer work. For some bizarre reason Nintendo took those out...thankfully, Nintendo did not screw with Metroid's codes....
W- Most people might scoff at this simplistic hockey game, but I love it. I have a lot of memories of this game, and I'll be downloading it so I can scrap my beat-up used NES copy. The gameplay is solid, and it's quite a bit of fun, especially against another player. However, it is fairly straightforward, and Konami's Blades of Steel is probably the better NES hockey choice, but I like it. :p
W- I wasn't going to recommend this until I saw that thanks to the Wii's VC suspend feature, you can save your tracks. If that wasn't there, I'd easily forgo this rev and tell you to hunt down the NES Classics version instead. But, the gameplay is still fun stuff, so it's worth a DL.
W- I like this game, more from memory than anything else. As a pinball title for the NES, it's been outshone by later games like Pinbot, but it does have Pauline in it as a cameo. :p I can't say this is worth a DL unless you have fond memories of it.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (600 points)
W- Konami's first run with the TMNT license on the NES is quite different than its arcade sequel breathen. It isn't so much a beat-em-up as an action/platformer. And it's quite a hard game at that (remember the underwater bomb-defusing level? I know I sure do >_< ). While it's not that great of an overall game (Raph and Mike are pretty much pointless, the game is a bit glitchy, a lot of the enemies have little to do with the license, and the game's control is a bit spotty), it can be fairly fun. However, I'd save the points on much better fare than this. There's better NES games already available, and I bet there will be better ones later. Besides, the extra 100 points this title demands is stupid, really. Are licensed games going to get an extra dollar or two slapped onto them?
Punch-Out!! Featuring Mr. Dream
W- Punch-Out is one of the classics of the era. Obviously, Mike Tyson can't be in the VC release (licensing and madness and all that), but it doesn't matter. Punch-Out is one of the most simplistic yet effective games ever made. The control is spot-on, the graphics solid (quite so for a NES title) and the game's fun to play. If you didn't unlock it in Animal Crossing, then it deserves a DL.
N- Even without Iron Mike, the puzzle-like boxing action is still satisfying.
W- The original Castlevania is a solid NES download choice. It's got plenty of challenge, catchy music and is still fun to play. The suspend feature works out well for a game like this - you can take a breather when the going gets tough. The controls are a bit spotty, though, and when you get struck, you fly backwards, leading to cheap deaths (there's a reason Medusa Heads are among gaming's most reviled enemies). Outside of that though, I can easily recommend this...unless you can find the GBA cart on the cheap.
W- One of the kings of the NES platforming heap, Ryu Hayabusa's first adventure is a tough adventure that is certainly worth the points. You'll get a good amount of gameplay out of this game. The sequel from what I hear is a more balanced title, but you'll have plenty of fun here nevertheless. I need to play this some more myself...
W- I wish Namco would stop porting their arcade-to-NES games to the Wii and start releasing games that haven't been rehashed to death. Along with Xevious, Pac Man can be easily found on either GC Namco Museum title. And there it's an arcade emulation with no compromises. Plus you'll get 15 other games with the 50th Anniversary disc for $20. DL'ing the inferior NES ports of this and Xevious is $10. Make any sense? Not a bit. Save some cash in the long run and buy Namco Museum of you want some Paccy goodness.
Zelda II: The Adventure of Link
W- I've never really enjoyed this game. I've tried, but Link's painfully short range makes battling enemies a little difficult. It's not a bad game, but it's the odd one out in the Zelda series, and it's never really appealed to me. Also, the game can be found on the Zelda Collector Disc for the GC or for the GBA via the NES Classics port. For the 100th download for the VC, I'd have preferred something a little more...well, awesome and obscure...Super Metroid, Earthbound, Kirby Super Star...something like that. Oh well. It's worth a DL if you want a Zelda title that will be different from any other one you've played before...but I don't like it at all.
Milon's Secret Castle
W- I rented this a few times when I was younger, but I never caught on to what it was I was supposed to do. Since then, I've read that the game has poor level design, which may explain it. At any rate, the only thing I really remember is finding the Hudson bee. And if that's all I remember about it, there's far better NES games you can download instead of this.
Super Mario Bros. 2
W- If you don't care for Mario Bros. or tracking down Yoshi eggs in the GBA port (which was reduced to $20...), then I can recommend this one fairly easily. The oddity in the Mario family (mainly because it wasn't a Mario title to begin with), SMB2 is a different beast from the original, mainly in that you don't jump on enemies to defeat them; you throw them into other foes (or throw turnips at them). It also introduced Luigi's flutter jump (as well as his first individualism from Mario!), Peach and Toad's first playable appearance in a game, and added in a bevy of enemies into the Mario universe (Shyguys, Snifits, Bom-Ombs, Pokeys and Birdos). While feeling quite different than any other Mario game, it remains a fun little title, and $5 is a reasonable price.
W- Thanks to Taito Legends I have been able to experience some of their arcade classics, and I can recommend Elevator Action as a download. The NES port isn't as nice looking, but the basic gameplay mechanics are still there, and the game is quite enjoyable. It's got a little action, a little stealth and a little bit of strategy all wrapped up in a nice package. I'd recommend the arcade compilation for the PS2 or Xbox above downloading this and the other titles Taito is releasing (I bought this disc with over 20 games for $15, and the second collection has been price-cut, too), but if those systems are out of the question, then DL this for a nice arcade experience.
W- Mach Rider boils down racing and shooting in its barest forms, but it's still a decent experience. The gameplay is adequate, but the track's short visibility does put a bit of a damper on the game (as does getting nailed from behind by rival bikes...). But for $5 and the ability to suspend your level creations...you may want to give it a shot. You may like it more than me. Cool music, at least. ^_^
W- This is a classic evolution of the Space Invaders-style of shooters, but again, Namco's Museum collections always feature this. Go buy the Museum disc instead to get more games for your buck.
W- This port of the first pairing of Mario and Luigi is decent, but you can find a better version on any of Mario's adventures on the GBA. No GBA? Well...there's better NES experiences to download than this watered-down port.
W- I really enjoy Balloon Fight. It's a nice, simple arcade game that works an awful lot like Midway's Joust, but I think I like BF more. With a 2 Player mode, the bonus Balloon Trip mode and solid gameplay mechanics, it's a great game to recommend for some arcade action. It is on the GC Animal Crossing though, so keep that in mind.
The Adventures of Lolo
W- Lolo's gameplay is still fairly unique for the NES lineup - you push around eggs to solve puzzles and to defeat enemies. My playtime with this was when I was little, and I don't think I grasped the proper method of working through the game, but it's still a pretty fun game. I'd recommend it, since I'll probably DL it myself to try to beat it properly.
W- The good news: Nintendo wisely left Metroid's famous password system alone, perhaps learning its mistake with Kid Icarus and the furious outcries it caused. However, I can't truly recommend Metroid as a VC purchase for two good reasons. A) Metroid Prime, and B) Metroid Zero Mission. Both of these games feature an unaltered Metroid as a bonus (Prime requires a GBA link to Fusion to unlock it, mind you). Along with that, Nintendo released Metroid as a Classic NES GBA title, too, which could be found cheaply by now. However, if you don't own a GBA, then hey, it's a solid enough game that will offer up tons of challenge, mystery and exploration for $5. Not my favorite Metroid, but it started it all.
Donkey Kong Jr. Math
W- I've played this for 5 minutes and became quite dulled with it in Animal Crossing. The gameplay is boringly simple - the last stage in DK Jr. is the backdrop, and you push up the number that answers the question. That's it. It's not worth 100 points, much less 5 times that amount.
W- Master Higgins's first game is not his best. It lacks the dino powerups later games feature, and the gameplay isn't all that deep. You'd be better off playing one of the Wonderboy games that this spun off from, or wait for one of the later Adventure Islands to pop up.
Legend of Kage
W- This game did little for me. It controls really clunky, the main character runs awkwardly and enemies are a bit too clever for the controls given to you to fight. Maybe the recently released DS sequel can do it better...I'd skip this regardless, though.
Castlevania II: Simon's Quest
W- Simon's second adventure is more like the post-Symphony CV titles than the original or Dracula's Curse. It's more non-linear than its NES siblings, has a mild RPG flavor, and has shops where you can purchase goods. However, the gameplay is still very true to the original CV. It's an unique experiment for sure, but expect to get lost - the game's infamous translation makes figuring out tasks on your own a bit difficult. Still a fun game, though.
Super Mario Bros. 3
W- Finally, the premiere 2D Mario experience is available to download. Before doing so, consider the GBA port (if you find it on the cheap, anyway) or the SNES Super Mario All-Stars (which may or may not appear on the VC). If you want the unaltered classic, then spend the 500 Wii points right now. It's got excellent level design, great controls, awesome power-ups and it's a lot of fun to play.
N- I originally wrote "duh" here, because nobody needs my recommendation for this game. It goes without saying. And frankly, there's nothing I can say that hasn't already been said.
W- For the NES, this is probably the best b-baller you can get. However, basketball games have evolved drastically from its humble arcade beginnings, so this may be a bit too streamlined and simplistic for most. Decent, as I said, but there's better NES games than this.
Ghosts N Goblins
W- Capcom's first NES VC title naturally is one that has already popped up on the Capcom Classics Collection V.1 with its sequels. If you want one of the hardest games ever made, then by all means, download this right now and enjoy the masochism. But, just to throw it out there, the 3 Ghosts N Goblins titles on the VC cost a dollar more than buying the 21 games on CCC. *sigh* Where's my obscure NES classics, Capcom? Gargoyle's Quest 2, Little Nemo...hell, I'd even take Mega Man at this point. XD (Note - hey, we have Mega Man now! And yet, there's still no obscure Capcom love! *sigh*)
Blades of Steel
W- Konami's iconic hockey game is easily the best hockey game for the NES, and also stands tall among the NES sports titles as one of its best. An easy recommendation for sports/hockey fans, with its great controls, fun fighting engine (for the NES, anyway) and nifty minigames (Gradius, anyone?).
W- This classic Taito title is a solid NES port and has a ton of arcade gameplay to share with a friend, but if you own a PS2 or Xbox, Taito Legends offers up the arcade original plus a lot more for a cheap price. If you only want Bubble Bobble, though, then this isn't a bad NES choice.
W- Heh, nice to see Mike Jones pop up on the Virtual Console, because it's a fine game in the Zelda vein. In lieu of a dippable letter to find out the Sub-C code, Nintendo programmed the game to send you a letter to the Wii to open for the code. Smart. Outside of that, though, this game is a lot of fun. It's puzzling, has interesting monsters, excellent music and a decent plot for the NES era. It's a hard game, and the controls are stiff, but it manages to still remain enjoyable. A great choice.
N- It's worth getting used to the awkward controls for this adventure.
Dig Dug (600 points)
W- Heh, now we're getting into some really funny circumstances. The NES port of Dig Dug never came to U.S. shores, so with its arrival on the VC, we get an extra 100 "import" points tacked onto the title. Did Namco Bandai not realize that you can get the arcade original included on either GC Namco Museum (that's $20 or less these days)? Oy. In short, a good arcade classic, but not worth spending any VC points on.
W- Jaleco's NES baseball title was an important step in the history of sports games, but it has become quite antiquated since its release. I would skip over this and get Baseball Stars 2 for the NeoGeo if you want a great retro baseball title.
Donkey Kong 3
W- The odd one out in the original DK trilogy. No Mario in sight for starters, and the gameplay is a little quirky. Having to shoot DK with bug spray? Bizarre. Adding to that, it's not a platformer like the last two, and as such it's not as delightful as the previous DK titles by any means. I'd pass on this one.
Clu Clu Land
W- This is an interesting take on the maze concept. You have to direct Bubbles when to swing, and she's always on the move. It adds a nice degree of tension. If Animal Crossing isn't around (you can get this and its "sequel" via NES consoles in AC), this isn't a bad choice for some arcade maze action.
W- About time, Capcom. :p Anyway, the original Mega Man is easily the toughest of the bunch, despite it featuring fewer levels than future MM titles. It also is the most archaic of the series as well. However, it still is a fairly solid action title, but you may want to go for Mega Man 2, which exceeds the original in many ways. There's Mega Man Anniversary to consider as well, as long as you don't mind the reversed buttons on the GC pad (or own a PS2 or Xbox).
Mega Man 2
W- Mega Man 2 is clearly one of the best in the long MM timeline. Catchy music, challenging level design and some of the best boss fights in the NES era are to be had here, and Mega Man controls extremely well in this game. I prefer MM3 more, but you can't go wrong with this one, either. A highly recommended game. As I mentioned with Mega Man, MM Anniversary should weigh into your DL decision, thanks to the Wii's ability to play GC games. However, if you only want MM2...then yes, it's worth the 500 points and then some.
Super Dodge Ball
W- I haven't played this in years, but I remember having an incredibly joyous time with this game. Technos really nailed the concept of dodgeball, taking the sport to extremes in terms of the game's animations and wacky abilities. This will be one I will be DL'ing when I get the chance to see if it holds up to my childhood memories, but for now, I'll go ahead and say it's worth 500 points.
Mega Man 3
W- Heh, I knew that, since the Mega Man onslaught had begun, my favorite NES game of all time would eventually creep out onto the VC, and lo and behold, here it is. I truly think that Capcom nailed the formula perfectly in MM3 - the difficulty is tough, but not maddening, the bosses are out of the usual "Fire Man variant, Ice Man variant" mold, the gameplay tweaks were significant (sliding and Rush), and the series never felt as solid and fluid as it does here. Mega Man responds well to your commands, and rarely does the game make you feel that the controls killed you. Plus the music is sensational. I'm so stoked about this appearing that I wrote a Tactics for it - that ought to show you how much I love MM3. Well worth the download...unless you have MM Anniversary...but that version removes the awesome cheats you can do, so I heartily recommend this one!
N- I'm in the camp that likes this third Mega Man game better than the second. It just feels more epic to me. But you can't go wrong with either choice.
Zoda's Revenge: StarTropics II
W- I may be the only person who prefers the original game's "stuck to a grid" controls to this game's free-roaming one. I find the newfound freedom to be more obnoxious. At least in the original, if you died from leaping into some sort of abyss, it was pretty much your error. Trying to perform the platforming challenges in Zoda's Revenge is usually an aggravating exercise. Along with that, the game's time-travelling plot goes off into bizarro land, which is a bit of a shame, because StarTropics managed to have one of the more compelling plots of the NES era. The game is solid enough, and you may enjoy the control changes more than I did, but I feel that a lot of the magic from the original is missing in this sequel. I will admit, though, that this game has some amazing dungeon music.
Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse
W- As I dive more and more into this game, I find myself believing that this is definitely one of Konami's greatest. Reverting back to the original CV's formula after Simon's Quest, Dracula's Curse builds heavily upon that foundation, showcasing improved level design, introducing multiple characters to play as, tweaking the difficulty to be just right, and features some incredible music. A hearty recommendation.
N- As a fan of Contra, I have to represent the series. It's tough, but it's that intensity that makes it great.
W- A shockingly pleasant puzzle game, Wrecking Crew pushes the right buttons with its clever level design (plus you can make your own!) and easy-to-learn controls. It's not much of a looker even by NES standards, but it remains a delightful sidestep in the Mario pantheon.
SNES (800 points)
W- The Sim City series has grown immensely since this SNES port, but I still enjoyed my time with this one. Maybe it's the relatively easy control scheme that makes the game easy to lay out, or perhaps it's the wide variety of maps Nintendo conjured up. Or maybe it's the sheer joy of seeing Bowser thrash up cities. :p It's still fun, and I can recommend it.
N- The SNES version of this game is almost like a stepping stone between the original PC game and Sim City 2000. And how often do two geniuses like Shigeru Miyamoto and Will Wright collaborate on a game?
Super Ghouls & Ghosts
W- SG&G has seen a few other ports in recent years. I would recommend tracking down the GBA port, since it offered up an Arrange mode on top of the original. If you own a PS2/Xbox, you'll also find it on Capcom Classics Collection V.1. If you don't have either of those, seek a difficult game that will punish you and likely make you very frustrated, then DL this and enjoy. :p It's very, very hard...but some gamers like that.
Street Fighter II
W- I really can't recommend this at all unless you want the ORIGINAL Street Fighter II and nothing more, do not own a PS2 or a Xbox AND don't want any other VC titles that are available. Capcom has brought SFII Turbo (SNES and Genny versions) and Super SFII to the VC now, there's two titles on the PS2/Xbox (Capcom Classics Collection V.1 and Street Fighter Anniversary Collection) that feature it, and it's just not worth the 800 points. I bought my SNES copy for under $8. You can probably do the same.
Legend of Zelda: Link to the Past
W- Do you not care for Four Swords? Then by all means, DL this right now. While not my favorite, this is the defining Zelda that many future titles in the franchise took their design and inspiration from. Its excellent level layouts, charming graphics and nigh-perfect gameplay set the standards that other games look to as their foundation. If you don't have buddies with GBA's and copies of LttP, then you're doing yourself a disservice by not getting this game.
Donkey Kong Country
W- I decided to give this game a proper replay, and I have to stand by my original sentiment: I find the gameplay to be shallow. I don't see what the fuss is all about. It controls a touch too loose for my liking, and the level design isn't all that great, either. The boss fights aren't that engaging to do, either, and the save system is kind of clunky. I guess that this just isn't my game.
Super Mario World
W- If you have a GBA, you probably already have this. However, if you don't (or would prefer to not hear Mario and Luigi chatter all the time and don't really desire the Mario Bros. bonus), then I can recommend SMW. It's loaded with secrets, cool levels and fun gameplay. While I still think SMB3 is the pinnacle of 2D Mario's, this is not too far away from it.
W- Konami's been a pretty stalwart supporter of the Virtual Console, eh? Gradius III is a fine horizontal shooter (one that I dig, and I don't usually like the genre) that has a pretty cool gameplay premise. Customizing your ship with different weapons is really awesome. The game controls fairly solid (especially once you get your speed up), looks pretty good and outside of some slowdown plays well too. I paid $9 for my used SNES copy, so $8 isn't a bad price. However, the VC does have a bevy of other topnotch shooters on it, so it's a tough call with that in mind. If you like shoot-em-ups, then I'd say go for it.
W- Look, I'll be honest. Capcom is nickel and diming the VC with its uninspired SNES lineup thus far. They released Capcom Classics Collection V.1 for the PS2/Xbox two years back, and that has Street Fighter II, Super Ghouls N Ghouls AND AN UNALTERED Final Fight, plus a lot more, for $20. I can not recommend a censored, cut-off-at-the-knees version of Final Fight. No playable Guy, no Poison/Roxy, no Sodom (Katana instead!), no Rolento/Industrial Area and no 2-player equals a no DL. Go track down Capcom Classics instead and save $4 on an infinitely better deal. And hey, Capcom? Give us some games you HAVEN'T rereleased lately. Demon's Crest or Destiny of an Emperor, anyone? Those would be good.
Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest
W- I stated it earlier, but the DKC games didn't do much for me. I liked the original, but my brief time with this one left me a little in the cold. But, if you liked the first one, you'll probably enjoy this. I won't be DL'ing it, though.
N- This is my favorite of the DKC series, mainly because of the challenge, atmosphere, and great music.
Street Fighter II Turbo
W- See my rants above for Capcom's lack of creative energy on their VC lineup? Well, the argument still carries over to here. Although, if you're stuck without a PS2/Xbox, this is the best port of the Street Fighter games to the Super NES, but still...$20 for Capcom Classics #1! >_< Maybe even less now!
W- Out of everything the Virtual Console has offered thus far (and probably ever will), this is the best overall choice of a download I can suggest. This game is fantastic, the absolute pinnacle of 2D gameplay and level design. It is a blast to explore hidden nooks with Samus, trying to power her up to her full potential. The game's world is perfect, one that opens up more and more revelations as you probe deeper and deeper into it. The music is perfect, and Samus controls like a dream. This is the best game on the VC, and you need to download it now. Now, you'll notice on my Favorite Games list that Zelda: Ocarina of Time is above Super Metroid, yet I call this the best VC game. I say that because OoT has been rereleased twice on the GC, while Super Metroid has sat solely on the Super NES for well over 10 years without an update or revival...until now.
N- The game really stands the test of time. Even all these years later, it has some of the best atmosphere ever in a game, and it's as compelling as ever.
Breath of Fire II
W- I've heard many reports that BoFII is the best title in the Breath of Fire series, and my brief playtime with the GBA port was positive. It's a solid RPG pick, considering that there aren't a lot of options for classic RPG's yet on the VC. I'd recommend it...if you can't find the GBA port for cheaper, anyway. By the way, it's about time Capcom picked something NOT on the Capcom Classics Collections. Next time, let's not pick something that's been ported to the GBA, either! :)
Donkey Kong Country 3
W- If you liked the previous two DKC games, this will probably serve you well. If you didn't (like me), then this won't change your mind in the slightest.
Super Street Fighter II
W- The trifecta of Street Fighter II is over at last. I did own this one, and the graphic downgrade is a bit more noticeable here. The four new fighters are a welcome addition, and this is the ONE Street Fighter II game missing from the two Capcom Classic Comps (It is included on Street Fighter Anniversary, though...). Now that we got SFII out of the way, Capcom, can we now get to those other SNES games that are NOT arcade ports? Hm? (we'll probably get SF Alpha 2 next...Note - I was wrong. We got the Genny SFII Turbo. *sigh* See below.)
N- The variety of characters and fleshed-out gameplay make this the best 16-bit Street Fighter game.
Super Mario RPG
W- Took a while, but finally, Square's stab at the Mario franchise has landed on the VC. This is a great choice for Mario and RPG fans - both should get a kick out the combination of Mario mechanics with RPG trappings. It features more statistical data than the Mario RPG's that followed (Paper Mario and Mario & Luigi, respectively), but it has aged quite well, I'd say. Certainly worth a try if you've never played it before.
Secret of Mana
W- Now here is a great addition to the VC lineup. Secret of Mana is a great Zelda-esque action-RPG that is a ton of fun. Great music, bright graphics, plenty of challenge and the option to play with two buddies (without a multi-tap!) make this a very easy recommendation. I will download this ASAP myself (I'm afraid of my SNES copy's battery dying), and I suggest that you do the same.
Heh, this could be one of the worst attempts to sap people of their well-earned Wii points yet. This is a SNES comp of the arcade Space Invaders titles, all of which can be found scattered Taito's two Taito Legends comps for the PS2. Then there's Space Invaders Extreme, the recent DS version which is quite excellent, from what I hear. In short, there's nothing special on this package that couldn't be found elsewhere, and 800 points is a lot to ask for considering the content.
Kirby's Dream Land 3
W- Kirby's last outing on the SNES follows the excellent Kirby Super Star (which is still MIA on the VC, and thanks to the DS remake, will probably continue to be), and it kind of pales in comparison. Taking the helper concept from the Game Boy Dream Land games to a bit of an extreme, Kirby can combine his powers with 6 different animal buddies, or even summon Gooey to help out (which does add a two-player mode). Each animal does different things with each power, so it becomes a bit of a chore to go track down the right animal for each situation you stumble across. The game's look is unique enough, but it also comes off a bit flat to me. I find Kirby's Adventure and Super Star to be the best games in the series, and to me, this doesn't come anywhere close.
Super Castlevania IV
N- Once again, I'm a Castlevania fan, and I have to represent the series.
N64 (1000 points)
Super Mario 64
W- I have to add this little side-note: N64 VC titles have gotten a bit of graphical gloss applied to them. Therefore, this port of Mario's grandest moment is easy to recommend since it looks smoother. It's not radical, so don't expect the game to look like Sunshine or anything, but the gameplay is still solid. I easily recommend this purchase for those who haven't played it or would like to relive the sweet bliss this game presents.
N- I have to admit that I'm not as fond of this game as I was when it came out, but it's considered a classic.
Mario Kart 64
W- Alas, that sidenote above has managed to make MK64 look more like poo than it did when it came out. You see, the N64's feeble textures are more noticeable now that the polygons are smoother. And since MK64 features sprites, they look worse from what I hear. Also, ghost data saving has been completely stripped out. So, the game has become significantly worse in its transition to the VC. I can't recommend anything like that. I love MK64 too, so that's the sad thing.
Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
W- If you have the Collector's Disc or the Wind Waker Bonus, I can't give this a thumbs up. The game looks a tad crisper on the VC than even the two GC ports, but the Stone of Agony has been taken out, so expect no help with finding everything in the game. In fact, there's no rumble at all. So...if force feedback means little to you, then hey, go for this...if you don't already have it on the GC. It's my #2 favorite game ever, so it's a rather easy recommendation.
N- As with Super Mario 3 above, anything I say about this game would simply be redundant. So, once again, I must resort to "duh."
Star Fox 64
W- The N64 graphic smoothing makes Star Fox 64 look far more impressive than before. However, the rumble has been stripped away from the game that brought it to consoles, which is quite sad, really. Either way, SF64 is a fine shooter and is easily worth the $10 asking price with its two difficulties, solid gameplay and multiple level paths.
N- This game has good replay value thanks to its variety in levels and challenges.
W- Do you want speed? If so, F-Zero X is your ticket. While the game's graphics are fairly simple, the sacrificing of pretty backgrounds let Nintendo pour on tons and tons of speed into the frame rate, making this a blazing rush of a racer. For $10, you'll have plenty of tracks to race, a large amount of racers to pick from and a solid 4-player mode. Definitely worth it.
N- This game offers straightforward, intense, and most importantly, fast racing action.
W- In my opinion, the GC sequel outclasses the original with its battle system overhaul, but this is still a fun RPG to dive into. Those expecting Super Mario RPG may be disappointed, but Intelligent Systems did make a good enough experience all on its own, and it's easily worth $10.
Wave Race 64
W- Finally, the racing legend arrives on the Virtual Console. Wave Race was one of the best early titles on the system, so it's great to see it touch down on the Wii to be downloaded. The N64 graphic smoothing has made the water more realistic looking, so that's a plus. The crowds and racers...not so much. And the old ads that were in Wave Race 64 have been taken down (the Kawasaki license is no longer viable), and a ton of Wii/DS ads have taken their place. Still though, this is a great racer that offers a lot of replay and challenge, so it's an easy recommendation.
W- I remembered enjoying this fairly unique photography game on the N64 back in the day, and now you can save your photos to your SD card! It's a bit stiff of a price (I've seen Snap for $7 or 8 dollars used), but for the added benefit of sending cute Meowth (or other Pokemon, if you prefer them) pictures to people...it'd probably be worth the money...especially for newer fans to the franchise.
W- Awesome game. I will be DL'ing immediately. Its challenging courses, precision control and gorgeous N64 graphics make it a well deserved keeper. You can't go wrong with 1080, unless you want a game that doesn't push your gaming mettle. To do tricks, you'll need to practice. But if you stick with it, you will be so gloriously rewarded.
Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards
W- Kirby's N64 outing did very little for me. I came into it expecting something more akin to Kirby's Adventure, but alas, the gameplay doesn't feel as smooth or refined as KA. The power combining is a neat aspect, but I can't recommend it for its going price on the VC. There's much better 2D platforming fare than this available on the VC.
W- Back in the early days of the N64, when games were few and gamers were desperate, this rather awful port of a mediocre arcade racer was considered poor. Now that we have a wide array of VC titles, this is just not worth any points. It looks terrible, handles loosely, and just isn't all that fun any way you cut it. Skip this.
W- I am apparently the only person that hugely prefers the GC Toadstool Tour over this. I hate the way the golfers are balanced in this. Luigi (my personal favorite Mario character) just can not cut it against many of the later golfers, and it's annoying. And I don't care for the non-Mario characters in here, either. As a golf game it's certainly more than adequate, but I like the balance and courses of Toadstool Tour a lot more. I won't DL it, but if you like golf games, this is one of the better ones for the VC.
Sin and Punishment
N- In my opinion, the overly laborious controls are a hindrance, but like StarTropics, they're worth getting used to.
Genesis (800 points)
Sonic the Hedgehog
W- I have spent more time with the sequels than this one, but I really can't say DL this with a straight face. Sega has whored this out horribly. There's Sonic Mega Collection on all three systems for one, and the enhanced port they just recently released on the GBA negates any need to DL this. Not to mention Sega Genesis Collection for the PS2...
N- It's hard for me to recommend one 16-bit Sonic game over another. Any of the first three games would make a fine choice.
Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine
W- Like Puyo Puyo? Here's the earliest US version of it, minus all the cute anime stuff, instead injected with lame robots! Yes! It's also on the Mega Collection, so it's another No-DL.
W- Spinball is clunky. The physics don't seem quite right to me. I've never gotten past Lv. 2, despite my best efforts. I suppose it's kind of fun...but it's ALSO on the Sonic Mega Collection. My point? Go buy that for $20 and plop it into your GC-compatible Wii to save yourself some money. It has Sonic 2, 3, Knuckles, 3D Blast, Ristar and Flicky on it, too...which will or have already appeared on the Virtual Console.
Virtua Fighter 2
W- Well, now I have played it, and I was completely right in my assumption - it's horrible. The game's called Virtua Fighter 2, but don't expect VF2's newbies Lion and Shun Di to pop up. The gameplay is broken down to such a simplistic system that it's essentially a poor excuse of a beat-em-up. Jumps are superhuman in height. The game's music and visuals are poor by Genesis standards. And lastly, the game isn't any fun to play. Avoid, avoid, avoid!
Sonic the Hedgehog 2
W- Sonic 2 is my personal favorite Sonic game. However...Sonic Mega Collection/Sega Genesis Collection has it too! If you bought that disc, you'd now save $24 with the Sonic madness. I hate to sound like a broken record with Sonic, Capcom, Taito, SNK and Namco, but seriously, it's a waste of money to buy these VC games individually when you can spend around $90 for well over 100 games.
Ecco the Dolphin
W- Ecco's take on platforming stands as one of the more unique in gaming, easily. The game's visuals are pretty, and Ecco controls fairly well. The game's level designs can be confusing, though, and the game tends to restart you at the beginning of a stage, and without checkpoints, I can imagine the feeling of accomplishing a lot getting diminished into frustration. Still though, it's pretty fun so far, so I can suggest giving it a shot.
W- In my brief playtime with this game, I was quickly impressed. It looks great for a Genny title, controls fairly well (Joe's multitude of attacks takes a bit of getting used to, though) and has catchy music. The level design is fairly straightforward so far, but I like it. A solid action choice.
Ghouls N Ghosts
W- I have not played the Genny port, but the arcade version is on Capcom Classics Collection. Consider that before plopping $8 for this game. It's arguably my favorite G&G game, but I'd rather pay $20 and get all three G&G games at once (plus 18 more) than paying $21 for the whole set through the Virtual Console. There is an invincibility code for this version, though...
N- As a fan of hard games, it's hard for me not to get a kick out of the G&G series.
Sonic the Hedgehog 3
W- Well, here we go again. Yet another Sonic game makes the rounds as the VC, and once again, I must point to the Gamecube's Sonic Mega Collection's low price tag. If we combine all of the Sonic games that have appeared on the VC, you'd end up forking out $40 (and that's not counting the unlockables on SMC, either). Pay half that and buy the GC disc. As for the game itself, it's quite a bit of fun, that it is. The point remains, though, that the VC is not the way to go for Sonic games if you're an addict. Buying one is okay, but for 2 or more you really ought to consider the GC disc.
Super Thunder Blade
W- A clunky, unpolished helicopter shooter where sprites pop in and out as you play? I can't recommend spending 800 points on it with the much better Genesis/Super NES fare out there...
Golden Axe III
W- Hm. Can't say that this game wowed me much. It looks fairly lackluster considering its late Genny release, and the game controls rather loosely. Can't say it's worth 800 points, especially since it appears on the $20 Sega Genesis collection for the PS2.
W- This is a dumbed-down Ecco game that strips out any platformer/challenging elements the game once had, turning it into a rather dull 2D ocean simulator...minus the ability to truly explore an entire ocean (the walls are still there). If you want an Ecco game, get the other two Ecco games over this one. You can also snag this on the PS2 Sega Genesis Collection...
Sonic 3D Blast
W- This attempt to break down some barriers and take Sonic to new heights is an absolute failure. The isometric perspective kills any chance to get Sonic up to speed, and the gameplay requires you to hunt down things, which clashes with Sonic game design. Sonic Mega Collection offers this up as well, so save your Wii points for other Genny fare (Shinobi III is a fine choice!).
W- I'm not a huge fan of Vectorman. I think his animation makes platforming tougher than it ought to be, and the sprites are a touch too big and bulky for my liking. If you like action games, you may dig this, but I'll stick with Contra and Mega Man, personally. Also, Sonic Gems and Sega Genesis Collection both feature this.
N- Back when it was released, this game was seen as Sega's answer to Donkey Kong Country. I think that's an accurate measure since both games combine excellent graphic effects with solid, yet conventional, gameplay.
Street Fighter II: Champion Edition
W- Okay...well, Capcom went and blew my mind. They released the Genesis conversion of Street Fighter II Turbo. When they have ALREADY RELEASED THE SUPER NES VERSION OF THE SAME GAME. Jesus, Capcom, what the hell is wrong with you? Do we really need TWO DIFFERENT VERSIONS OF SFII TURBO ON THE VIRTUAL CONSOLE?!? The differences between the two are fairly minor: the sound is better in the SNES version, but the Genesis port features better Turbo options and a tourney mode. I do not know exactly how the controls work out here - the major reason for the Genesis version being hailed as being the better of the two is the Genesis 6-button controller, and if you didn't have it, you'd have to press Select to switch between kicks and punches, and that, for lack of a better term, is lame. So, if these minor differences work out in your favor, then consider this...but only AFTER considering the Street Fighter Anniversary or Capcom Classics Collection V.1 comps...
W- I do not know how well the Genny port holds up to the original, but Forgotten Worlds is a fairly unique shooter that is a lot of fun to play. Capcom Classics Collection V.1 has this on it, but if you're a shooter fan minus the consoles CCCv1 was released for, this is a solid choice.
N- While it's similar to Contra, it differentiates itself in key areas. I would say it's also a bit more accessible.
Streets of Rage 2
N- I have to admit, I've always preferred this series over Final Fight. I think it has just a bit more personality.
W - This is a great overhead shooter, but the Genny version had to strip out the multiplayer aspect. To compensate, Sega (who developed this Capcom arcade port) plopped in a new original mode that has new levels. If you don't have a PS2 or a Xbox to get Capcom Classics V.1, then this is not a bad option for you shooter fans.
TG-16 (600 points)
W- Namco's fantasy shooter left me feeling a bit...well, empty. Your dragon has a huge hit box, and compared to some other shooters, the arcade version felt a bit stiff to me. I don't know if the TG-16 version is any better, but this didn't do too much for me. The 50th Anniversary Namco Museum has this on it, so add that to your decision making.
N- This is a really charming platform game, and it's easy to see how it could compete with the likes of Mario and Sonic.
N- This is probably the most addictive video pinball game I've ever played.
N- The original Galaga is an arcade classic. This update adds a little more variety and lot more style.
Gate of Thunder
N- For me, the most impressive aspect of this shmup is its balance, which I think makes it fairly accessible.
N - This ninja game may not be quite as varied as others such as Ninja Gaiden and Shinobi, but I've come to appreciate the relentless action that stems from its directness.
NeoGeo (900 points)
W- I can't really recommend a download of one of SNK's first stabs at a fighting game. First off, the game's tight limit on playable characters (three, to be exact), leaves a lot to be desired, and second, PS2 owners can acquire this along with 3 other Fatal Fury titles for $20 as part of the Fatal Fury Battle Archives V.1 (it's on the Wii/PS2 SNK Arcade Classics V.1 as well). Considering the steep price tag for NG titles, you'd be better off buying either compilation over this solo shot available on the VC.
Art of Fighting
W- Another no-go choice for the VC. Although the game has some of the largest, more detailed sprites ever appearing in a fighter, AoF is very dated with its somewhat clunky controls and limited character selection (two, anyone?). Considering the $9 you'd be putting into it, you ought to wait for either later NG games or download Super Metroid...or some other excellent VC choice. :) PS2 owners would want to find the $15 Art of Fighting Anthology over forking out $9 for this one game...or get SNK Arcade Classics V.1.
W- If SNK Arcade Classics V.1 wasn't out on the Wii, I'd recommend this one for fans of Ghosts N Goblins. It's quite similar to the Capcom series, but a little more forgiving in some ways. Your wizard can jump with more control, take a little more damage than Arthur and regains health when he powers up into a different form. The level design is not up to par with GnG, though, but it's still a solid enough game. However, SNK Arcade Classics V.1 is out now for the Wii, and it has this on it. So...I'd say no to DL'ing this. :p
Baseball Stars 2
W- I mostly enjoyed my playtime with this title. I'd almost call it the best retro baseball title I've played. It has a ton of personality, adequate play mechanics and solid spritework. And it's kooky. :p The only negative I've got is the slightly overpowering computer AI, who put the pressure on fast (and annoyingly keep Powering Up players, which requires a Time Out to perform, which gets a bit pesky after a while). But it's definitely one of the best sports games from the 90's, so it's worth a go for sports fans. You may want to get SNK Arcade Classics V.1 for the PS2 or Wii to save some Wii points, though.
N- This game serves as a good example of the NeoGeo style: fast-paced, flashy and fun. And it manages to make even baseball exciting.
King of Fighters '94
W- An important game to SNK's fighter history, this is the very first KOF title. However, it feels sluggish and choppy compared to later KOF games (and even Fatal Fury Real Bout), so I think the Wii points can be spent better elsewhere. Besides, it's on the Wii SNK Arcade Classics V.1 disc (I am beginning to sound a bit like a parrot here, aren't I? :p ).
N- Of the NeoGeo fighting games currently available on the VC, I think this one is the most solid.
W- Skip this one...unless you really like clunky fighters with very poor controls and boring sprite design.
W- Having played this to completion, I would go ahead and give out a thumbs-up for this excellent run-n-gun. But, there's two Wii NeoGeo comps that feature this title for a much better bargain: Metal Slug Anthology and SNK Arcade Classics V.1. Both are excellent, and have way more for your gaming buck than just Metal Slug, so I'd hold off on a D/L and get one of those (or both!) instead.
N- I think part of the appeal in Metal Slug is that it's more methodical than most run-and-guns.
Metal Slug 2
W- Metal Slug X is a remake of MS2, which removes the slowdown that plagued it, as well as adding in some bonus stuff. With that in mind, as well as Metal Slug Anthology to consider, I can't really recommend this one (and yes, MSX is better, since I've played them all now).
Neo Turf Masters
N- This game surprised me since I was never interested in golf. But like Baseball Stars 2, it takes a very arcadey and surprisingly fun approach to the sport.
Top Hunter: Roddy & Cathy
N- This is a pretty solid action-platform game that might've been in better company on one of the other 16-bit consoles.
Commodore 64 (500 points)
W- Karate games were quite the rage back in the C64 days, and this was one of the benchmarks of that era. I prefer Way of the Exploding Fist (which had much better backgrounds and music) over this title, myself. Modern gamers may also find the control scheme a bit awkward, especially those weaned on Street Fighter and the like. You perform an action depending on what direction you hold, which can take some time getting used to. That said, I don't know the odds of WofEF appearing on the VC, so if you're looking for some nice retro fighting action that requires some different strategies than the usual, this is a decent pick. However, there is a sequel coming down the pike, so I would probably hold off until that arrives.
Summer Games II
W- I only had half the events on my C64, but from what I recall, it's one of the better button-mashing sport games available. I prefer California Games the most out of this series (at least the NES port) myself, but Epyx did have a solid concept that many would imitate down the road. If you like Konami's Track & Field or other Olympics games, I'd give this a shot.
Arcade (points vary)
Mappy (500 points) - NEW!
W- Ah, Namco, once again trodding out your also-rans. Mappy is a quaint take on the maze concept, and manages to be kinda fun still, but Namco's own GC 50th Anniversary comp has this on it. And is it worth $5 when you can get 16 games for $20 (less now, I'm sure) for your GC-backwards compitable Wii? Nope.