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Virtually Overlooked Week: Jason's picks

Jason Wishnov

Virtually Overlooked has taken over Wii Fanboy! All this week, members of the staff will be outlining their personal picks for future Virtual Console releases.

Growing up with gaming is an interesting thing these days. Many of you are part of the first generation that was quite literally born into a household with a gaming console, as I was. In my experience, if you start off in life gaming hard, you don't stop. Therefore, in the very near future, I will able to ask a random middle-aged man if he wants to go play Guitar Hero 4, and it won't be totally weird.

Who am I kidding? This isn't Japan, and that guy will probably think I am, in fact, totally weird. But man, screw those non-gamers. The hardcore, like you and I, have tons of gaming memories, and thus we frequently long for the games of yore to be released on the Virtual Console. But they have not yet appeased my feral hunger, and thus do I lay these games out in a commanding fashion for Nintendo's minions to take note.

You, of course, may gaze as well.

Seiken Densetsu 3

Secret of Mana, to this day, remains one of the finest action-RPG games ever released. Fans in North America clamored for a sequel, and eventually, they received titles such as Heroes of Mana, Legend of Mana, World of Mana ... but each and every one was met with critical distaste and disappointing sales. Little do many fans know, however, that the sequel for which they so fervently begged already existed in Seiken Densetsu 3, released in 1995. Though never officially localized, an extremely professional fansub makes the game highly playable for all English-speakers via ROM. We don't condone such things, of course.

The title is, quite simply, astounding. It improves on the original in almost every way: a far more developed and relatively nonlinear story, greater customization via a simple class branching system, some of the most impressive visuals ever seen on the SNES, and a wonderful score by Secret of Mana's original composer. The localization of this title will most likely bring far too much profit for Square Enix to ever release it on the Virtual Console at a mere eight dollars a pop, but there is no title for which this blogger longs more.

Mischief Makers - N64

Though the concept of 2-D gaming has actually become far less taboo in the past half-decade, it was naught but anathema to gamers high on polygons in the mid-to-late nineties (even Yoshi's Story was ridiculously billed as "two and a half-D"). To forsake the technical advancements made by the PlayStation and N64 was just lazy, said they, but I disagree: Mischief Makers was anything but. A cult-classic even to this day, MM is a pure platformer starring cyber-lady Marina. Marina's primary method of attack is shaking pretty much anything and everything around her, and while the mechanic seems, for lack of a better word, lame, I assure you otherwise.

A rather novel gimmick within the title was the use of hidden yellow gems, one per level, which would extend the ending of the game by three seconds each. In addition, achieving the higher rankings in each level could be blindingly difficult, but gave the game a great deal of replay value. At ten dollars this title would be a steal, and though I generally try to avoid spoilers, I must mention that at least one major fight is fought via dodgeball. Amazing.

Blast Corps - N64

One of the earliest N64 titles, Blast Corps (developed by Rareware) at first appears to be just another one of those mindless destruction games, like Godzilla: Destroy All Hobbits or whatever. The task, if you're unfamiliar with the title, is to simply clear a path for a rogue truck carrying several defective nuclear warheads, inexplicably prone to exploding at even the slightest jolt. Though the title starts simply enough, the strategies become necessarily more complex: one level might feature three separate demolition vehicles, puzzle-like objectives to unlock the necessary vehicles, and one heck of a frantic race getting to them all in time.

In almost all titles, stellar level design can bring even the most mediocre of ideas into the realm of unadulterated joy, and Blast Corps is quite obviously one of those titles. In the lacking N64 section of the Virtual Console, there are few titles that would bring the same amount of originality and clever design into the fold.

Burger Time - NES

Far too few titles focus on the rigor and inherent challenges of the fast food industry, I think, and a healthy reintroduction of Burger Time ... well, unhealthy, I guess ... is just what the populace ordered. The concept is painfully simple: travel across a Donkey Kong-esque level, stomping on the various components of burgers to create a finished meal beneath. This kind of arcade-like play is something the Virtual Console is currently lacking, especially in comparison to its weird half-brother, Live Arcade. The titles being released are, for the most part, classics in the annals of Nintendo, but by focusing on these games, Nintendo has necessarily left out the simpler, quarter-eating type of game that Burger Time exemplifies. Something about this game is addictive, but we're not quite sure what it is ... kind of like real fast food, I suppose.

Space Station: Silicon Valley - N64

As you may have noticed by now, I tend to enjoy games in standard genres that employ clever, puzzle-like mechanics. Space Station: Silicon Valley is a quintessential example: though the title controls like a standard 3-D platformer, the title tends to flex your brain above brawn. As a tiny sentient robot aboard a massive space station with various simulated climate zones and robotic beasts, you might possess and control dozens of animals, each with a unique ability or two, to advance through levels and defeat your foes. A gem of a game, and one many gamers unfortunately missed.

Pipe Dream:
Some of my picks are already highly unlikely, so I'll just shoot for one that has almost no chance at all: Mother 3. This title, as you may already know, is actually a GBA game, which is obviously not currently supported on the Virtual Console. However, as another potential source of revenue once the last remaining GBA releases keel over and die, it wouldn't be a terrible stretch to see portable emulation enacted via VC. Specifically, Mother 3 is the Japanese-only sequel to the wondrous Earthbound (starring Ness, of Super Smash Bros. fame), and we'd kill innocent sheep for the chance to play a localized version.

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