News Article

Why April Is A Massive Month For the Virtual Console

Posted by Damien McFerran

If you count yourself as a hardcore gamer then you will have read our recent news piece about April’s Japanese Virtual Console games with marked interest. Sure, there’s the usual amount of filler in there, like Famicom Detective Club Part II and Bokosuka Wars (neither of which are likely to make the leap over to the US/Euro VC service), but there’s a trio of games that should cause your pulse to race uncontrollably – Dracula X: Rondo of Blood, MUSHA Aleste and Metal Slug.

Dracula X is widely regarded as one of the finest entries in Konami’s long-running vampire franchise and until the release of the PSP-based Castlevania: The Dracula X Chornicles remained unreleased outside of Japan. As a result, copies of the game change hands for triple-figure sums of cash on sites like eBay and the title has gained near-legendary status with retro collectors as a result.

Thankfully the hype is unquestionably justified in this case; Dracula X is one of the best 2D action platform titles of its generation, combining stunning graphics with excellent music and typically brilliant gameplay. The branching level system also helps maintain the challenge and some superb anime-style cut scenes round off the package nicely. The fact that your correspondent purchased a PC Engine Duo RX system from Japan for this title alone should give you a fair indication of its quality.

The burning question is will it see a Western release? Well, thanks to the fact that Dracula X now has an ESRB rating in the US and a PEGI rating in Europe (due to its inclusion on the aforementioned PSP collection) it’s almost certain to be released on the Virtual Console here. Konami and are all too aware of how much of a classic this title is and they really would be mad not to make it available to Wii owners.

The second title we’re getting rather excited about actually had a Western release back in the day; MUSHA Aleste is an early Megadrive/Genesis vertically scrolling shooter yet it remains one of the best. Graphically it’s hard to believe this game was programmed in 1990; few 16-bit shooters look as good as this (or contain as much fast-paced action). Like Dracula X this game fetches a pretty penny these days so a Virtual Console release will be very welcome indeed – although there really is no substitute for the beautifully illustrated Japanese packaging.

Finally we have SNK’s Metal Slug, the first game in one of the company’s most enduring and successful franchises. Some would argue that it’s also the finest installment, too; later titles not only ramped up the complexity of the game but also turned the humour to maximum. The original is still funny in places but manages to retain a bit more dignity in the process.

Whatever your opinion it’s clear that this represents one of the finest moments 2D gaming has yet experienced. Visually it is nothing short of spectacular and the gameplay is so solid that it’s remained practically unchanged in the recent sequels. Again, this is a game that would cost you an arm and a leg to purchase in its original AES format (although the MVS version is considerably cheaper).

So, after months of rather underwhelming releases on the Virtual Console, things are most definitely looking up. We obviously can’t say for sure when these titles are expected to hit the West, but they are certainly worth waiting for and should hopefully restore some confidence in Nintendo’s retro portal.

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User Comments (41)

Nadroc516

#1

Nadroc516 said:

yeah looks good, but im losing my interest with VC...

we all need a good game to get us back into it

Roo

#2

Roo said:

Aye same here, VC has lost a great deal of momentum, triggered perhaps by the release of poor games like Cruis'n USA and others that people couldn't possibily give a toss about. I think it's time for Nintendo to start bringing in the big guns.

DamoAdmin

#3

Damo said:

Well a quick glance at the games mentioned above should tell you that the big guns are indeed coming... :)

Charco

#4

Charco said:

I agree, I think Nintendo made a mistake in not releasing Super Smash Bros. (N64) when Brawl was released. I thought it was a cool idea to release the two Metroid games prior to Corruption and Super Mario Bros. 3 a week before Galaxy. Super Mario Kart coming out around Mario Kart Wii's release would definitely be welcomed. It is fantastic to see highly sought after games such as this being announced. I will definitely try out Rondo of Blood, not sure about the others.I was never really a shooter fanatic back in the day, but the sheer wealth of 2d shooters available (most notably the TG-16 titles) is making me reconsider and maybe give them a second chance.

Villain

#5

Villain said:

Now, I never tried out Dracula X on the original PC Engine...but I did try the PSP version, and after looking at some gameplay vids of the original, it seems well-emulated enough.

...and I really think that game is a wee bit overrated. It's an awesome action platformer, but I was expecting more from the controls of a game that's a sequel to Super Castlevania IV, which had some awesome controls. I really can't ignore that fact. Though I love the backtracking functions and the alternate routes. Not to mention the awesome music. The anime cutscenes are adorable, too. But where's the diagonal whipping functions and the whip spinning moves? It could have been even better with so little effort.

puts on Taban Vest with Flame Res + 2

Charco

#6

Charco said:

@Damo. Actually Damo, seeing as you are a shooter fan, what VC title could you recommend for somone relatively new to the genre? I played Life Force a bit on my old NES and rented a few when I had my SNES (I know, not a machine suited to frenetic shooters with lots of sprites) like Axelay etc. I don't want to download something that is mind numbingly hard to start off with and turn me off them forever and miss out on some classics!!

DamoAdmin

#7

Damo said:

I'd certainly recommend R-Type if you're new to shooters...it's not mind-numbingly hard but offers a stern challenge, and it's one of the best shooters ever, too.

wii-c-kid

#8

wii-c-kid said:

Dracula X and Metal Slug have loads of appeal. MUSHA looks good, but how many 'good' shmups do we need? And the end of the day, just because they've been rated doesn't mean we'll get them this month. Hope we do because the native April line-up is pretty lack-lustre.

Charco

#9

Charco said:

I was thinking R-Type on TG-16 alright. I might give that a blast. Thanks Damo. Back on topic, I wonder why Konami have not released Castlevania III on the NES on the VC before Rondo?

DamoAdmin

#10

Damo said:

@ wii-c-kid: How many good shooters do we need? Are you serious? A good game is a good game regardless of what genre it happens to be part of!

And we never said the West would be getting these games in April, the focus of the piece is that Japan is getting them and that can only have a positive effect on the standing of the service.

DamoAdmin

#11

Damo said:

@ Charco: Good question, I have no idea. CV3 is a fantastic game and would make a wonderful addition to the service...it can surely only be a matter of time before we see it.

Rawk_Hawk

#12

Rawk_Hawk said:

Dracula X the sooner we get it the better. I think 2008 has brought some sorta big guns. For example 1080, Lords of Thunder and Star tropics. But I agree we need more bigger titles for this year. So far 2008 was not as good as 2007.

I did play Metal Slug 3 on XBOX it was really cool but weird

Herandar

#13

Herandar said:

Wasn't Metal Slug Anthology a Wii launch title? GameStop is selling used copies for $18. VC Metal Slug seems kinda ridiculous to me.

DamoAdmin

#14

Damo said:

Metal Slug Anthology didn't support the Classic controller though, so if this VC release does then it will be worth a purchase.

Plus, not everyone bought the Anthology! :P

Charco

#15

Charco said:

@Herandar. I don't think it's ridiculous at all seeing as Metal Slug Anthology is said to have a control scheme so terrible that it ruins the gameplay of these games and there is no classic controller or Gamecube controller support. A major mistake by SNK Playmore if you ask me. I have never played the originals and am quite happy to download maybe the most highly regarded of the series to check it out.

That_Guy_from_Faxana

#16

That_Guy_from_Faxana said:

I´d buy Metal Slug as well. No loading times and a better controller (SNES+retroport adapter) will be nice if Metal Slug comes to european VC.

Charco

#17

Charco said:

@That Guy from Faxanadu. Whats the retroport adaptor? Can you use SNES and NES controllers on a Wii?

DamoAdmin

#18

Damo said:

I've seen these retroport adapters on eBay - are they any good then?

Quimby

#19

Quimby said:

@ Charco - actually it does have GC controller support and it is easily the best available setup on it (the rest are just retarded. Shake the controller to throw a grenade? come on)
Although I will buy the VC Metal Slugs so I can play with a mate without fighting over who uses the crappy wii-mote (I only have 1 GC controller)
The GC is perfect for it, having a massive green SHOOT button and a conviently placed red JUMP. :-P

Rapadash6

#20

Rapadash6 said:

As I've said before, I would be surprised to not see Dracula X come to the west as it's one of the most requested import VC titles, not to mention it doesn't really require a translation (though, it'd be nice). I'm glad things are starting to look up on the VC front in Japan but it still might be a month or two before our service starts to see better games. Remember we always seem to be playing catch up with Japan on most Virtual Console releases.

Charco

#21

Charco said:

Cool that you can use a GC controller. It would be seriously crappy using the Wii remote. Thanks for clearing that up Quimby.

arobo21

#22

arobo21 said:

@ Damo - I think the point being made about Metal Slug Anthology was that if u really want to play metal slug then go out and buy the wii game instead of VC. who cares if it doesnt support classic. it only needs a d pad and 2 buttons.

based on your other comments id say that ur taking it offensively that ppl dont like vc that well anymore, and you're defending it...only because you want ppl to continue using this site. nice try but you're not Moses

DamoAdmin

#23

Damo said:

@arobo - I'm certainly not attacking people for being negative about the service in the hope that they will change their minds...I attack people for talking rubbish! :D

arobo21

#24

arobo21 said:

@ Damo - fair enough. the main reason im frustrated is cause im running out of room and am waiting to fill it up with games i really want, and not one of them has been released in the past 2-3 months : /

Manicfatty

#26

Manicfatty said:

Why doesn't everyone just play Metal Slug on the NEO GEO CDZ...like I do! :P :P :D

If you have a modded Saturn, you can pick up metal slug w/the 1meg expansion card and it plays really well!

@ Damo and anyone who LOVES shmups...if you ARE in the market for some kick-ass import saturn games...well, Radiant Silver Gun is the ridiculously obvious choice...but there are other lesser-know gems. I recommend Bulk Slash - 3D shootin' with 2D flavor...and a giant mech that you can change from walker mode to flight mode! Yay!

Just some options :)

@Damo - I just hooked up my Xeye last night to play M.U.S.H.A. and Robo Aleste...and then I fell asleep on the wet spot.

Damn those games are good! I miss my shmups...I don't think I'm breaking down my Xeye for storage again any time soon :)

Adamant

#27

Adamant said:

"Sure, there’s the usual amount of filler in there, like Famicom Detective Club Part II"

Filler? These are damn popular games, no matter how much they're not getting released outside Japan.

Shiryu

#28

Shiryu said:

Dracula X! After all these years... I can hardly wait for this!

Fingers crossed !x _ X

That_Guy_from_Faxana

#29

That_Guy_from_Faxana said:

RETROPORT: a little hands on
@Charco
@Damo
Yes, the Retroport is pretty nice, but unfortunatly you can´t plug in both a NES and SNES pad to it, you have to buy two different versions. Since they are a bit expensive (22 dollars) I skipped the NES and bought two SNES-Retroports.

I find the SNES controller to be the best for 2D games ever, so I have no problem playing NES and NEO GEO games with it.

However, the buttonlayout is not optimal when it comes to Genesis/Megadrive games. I´m not sure if the classic controller has the same problem, but the confortable Y button is not used. Instead, A represents the 2, "shooting-button", which is pretty awkward. Some games can be remapped under options, but using X & A for shooting/ jumping is the closest you come for a substitute.

Since the adaptor is plugged into the GC port, it´s rumored that it works with Gamecube games as well. That´s only part true. One-button games like Sonic (on the compilation disc) work fine, but when playing more complex games, you notice most buttons are missing: it´doesn´t work.

This being said, Retroport works perfectly with every other system so far, Turbo Graf-X included. I recommend it if you have a SNES controller laying about. It can be ordered from http://www.retrousb.com/index.php

Jupiter_Adept

#30

Jupiter_Adept said:

Well, my brother likes Metal Slug, he might want that. If Castlevania DX: RoB comes here, it'll probably be the Castlevania game I get to see if I want anymore. And, If I start to like space shooters, I'll probably get MUSHA...

YAY!

Atlantis1982

#31

Atlantis1982 said:

HORRAY, Metal....(looks at his copy of the Compilation disc), nevermind. I might get Rondo of Blood, but I haven't bothered to buy any other Castlevania title besides the first (Eventually I'll get the 4th). If anything, it'll be Sonic and Knuckles that I only care to buy on April.

tiny-ant

#32

tiny-ant said:

@damo & charco
are you sure about your recomendation, damo? 'cause i pretty much never played a vertical shooter in my life until i tried out "r-type 1" on the vc and i kind of loved it for a short while, but it was just too damn hard for me. the fouth level killed me. i got to the boss once on my last life and with no continues left - i died and that was it for me.
maybe it just really is not my genre, but i feel like charco, like i might be missing something - since it's thrown in your face all the time how popular these games are.
i did a second try with "lord of thunder" but lost interest even faster.
might r-type 3 for snes be worth a last try? i hear it has unlimited continues, which would be great for me, 'cause i might be able to beat it :-) i like beating games. play for x hours - have an ending - be done with it and move on to the next game.

Adamant

#34

Adamant said:

Blazing Lazers has a pretty gentle difficulty curve, you might want to give that a shot. It's vertical, not horizontal, though.

Adamant

#35

Adamant said:

Blazing Lazers has a pretty gentle difficulty curve, you might want to give that a shot. It's vertical, not horizontal, though.

Adamant

#36

Adamant said:

Blazing Lazers has a pretty gentle difficulty curve, you might want to give that a shot. It's vertical, not horizontal, though.

Clayfrd

#37

Clayfrd said:

"If you count yourself as a hardcore gamer than you will have read our recent news..."
If you count yourself as a hardcore gamer then you will have read our recent news...
Would it kill you to edit your writing? Ha, just kidding. I just felt like being picky.

DamoAdmin

#38

Damo said:

@Clayfrd - Sorry, I was too busy getting excited about Dracula X! It won't happen again, (EDITS)

@Manicfatty - I sadly don't own a Saturn anymore (I've had five in my lifetime) but Radiant Silvergun is one of my all time favourite games (I've owned that three times!). The Saturn is a wonderful machine for shooters, with the likes of Battle Garegga, 1945 1 & 2, Kingdom Grandprix, Batsugun, DoPachi, DoDonPachi, Hyper Duel, Blast Wind and many others. I may pick up my sixth Saturn in the future but I just don't have the space (or time) at the moment, sadly.

And as for buying the Saturn version of Metal Slug with the RAM cart - surely you're not suggesting it's a cheaper option than the VC release? :D

Manicfatty

#40

Manicfatty said:

@Damo - Heh...oh most definitely not! But from a collector's standpoint it's awesome...and plays well too. Some people will bemoan the occasional slow-down, but I think I remember a bit on the original...and it doesn't hurt the game-play at all.

The Saturn was and is a great system for shooters and other 2-d goodness. I have 3 right now - one switched - and so far they still run beautifully. Picked them up for $15US a piece and had the one modded for $30. Best gaming money spent. The one I bought at (surprise) launch got stolen, so I think of it as gaming karma! :)

It's a shame there are no official plans to attempt the Saturn on the VC. I know we've had the discussion before, but I still will hold out hope for a few good titles sometime down the road. :P

whalleywhat

#41

whalleywhat said:

Seeing as SNK majorly boned the Metal Slug collection for Wii by not waiting for Classic Controller support, I'd gladly pay Neo Geo VC prices for individual titles, especially cause I only really want 1-3. I'm not convinced this means any of these games are coming to NA though. Still waiting for Mega Man 2. I don't know, Sin & Punishment is still the shining example of what VC can do. Some people have been saying that the PSP port of Rondo of Blood has some issues, and its emulation of the original isn't so hot either, so bringing this version to European and NA VC would be a massive coup. fingers crossed

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