Top 10 Puzzlers We Want To Come To The Virtual Console
Posted by Marcel van Duyn
Following the series of Top 10 lists we've already done, we've made a selection of puzzle games we would like to see! It should be noted that there's a bunch of great puzzlers already on VC - The likes of Puyo Puyo, Adventures of Lolo, Wrecking Crew, Solomon's Key and Pokémon Puzzle League are all top-notch and very much worth a purchase. Still, here's 10 that would make great additions as well.
10. Wrecking Crew '98 (SNES)
When 2000 started getting close we were pretty sure we'd never see a Wrecking Crew sequel as it had already been 13 years - Nintendo proved us wrong and released (Sadly in Japan only) Wrecking Crew '98, which was a radical departure from the original game. Instead of being a game that requires careful thought, it's more like games such as Puyo Puyo - You have an opponent at all times, and your job is to make his blocks go off the top of the screen.
This is accomplished by matching up 3 or more blocks of the same colour, all of which do something special. For example, orange blocks will drop some iron blocks into your opponent's field, which are indestructible unless blown up with a bomb block, while green blocks will coat a few rows of your opponent's blocks with an extra layer of bricks, meaning he has to hit them twice to shatter them instead of once.
There is an extra amount of strategy involved, as you can freely run around the playing field, breaking whatever you want and moving blocks around. If you can fully clear your side of the screen, you'll get a mushroom, which will enhance the next attack you launch.
Aside from a versus mode the game also has a tournament mode and a story mode. In the story mode you encounter various enemies (Both new and old) which you have to beat, resulting in cutscenes telling more of the story. You can also unlock additional characters for use outside story mode. Wrecking Crew '98 also includes the original Wrecking Crew - But if '98 ever hits VC we don't think they'll keep that in!
9. Kickle Cubicle (NES)
Here's something strange - An Irem game that isn't a shooter, but a puzzle game! Kickle Cubicle is quite similar to Adventures of Lolo. You play as Kickle, who has to save his homeland, the Fantasy Kingdom, after it is completely frozen over by the Wicked Wizard King. To accomplish this he has to collect all the dream bags scattered across four worlds with a number of levels each. Kickle is armed with frost breath, which he can use to freeze enemies, subsequently kicking them into water to act as stepping stones in order to reach the dream bags which are out of reach.
The comparison to Adventures of Lolo is really not unfounded, as it shares a lot of similar gameplay elements, such as having to collect X items in each stage, freezing enemies and potentially using them as platforms, and using other items every now and then. Also like Lolo, there is a password system so you can (re)start where you want.
As the game takes place across a variety of locations, you will see some different places later on. There's also a number of cutscenes in the game, one after every world plus an intro and ending. Each world also has a boss to defeat after you clear the normal stages before it. The game starts out easy, but it can get pretty hard later!
8. Bust-A-Move/Puzzle Bobble (Neo Geo, SNES)
Bust-A-Move (Or Puzzle Bobble as it is known in Japan) is rather strange - While it was meant as nothing more than a spin-off puzzle game of Bubble Bobble, it became so popular that it's now arguably more popular than the series it's based off of! Chances are you've played this game before sometime.
There's a number of coloured bubbles hanging from the ceiling. Bub and Bob (The dragons from Bubble Bobble) are operating a machine below, which shoots out more bubbles in order to destroy all those on the ceiling (You can freely aim in any direction with it).
The trick to scoring high in the game is to not destroy the bubbles - You'll get more points if you drop them off the screen. To accomplish this, you have to destroy bubbles which "link" one group of bubbles to another, causing them to drop down because they're no longer attached to anything. While the Neo Geo version of the game is arcade perfect, if it will be released on VC, we imagine it'll be the SNES version.
7. Troddlers (SNES)
Troddlers is basically Lemmings. The only difference is that the Troddlers (The creatures which take the place of the Lemmings) have some aid in the form of a character the player can control - He can walk around the stage, placing blocks and eliminating any potential danger in order to guide the Troddlers to the exit. The Troddlers have the extra benefit of being able to walk on walls and ceilings, which makes it easier for them to get around (And also easier to walk into a trap!).
Later on you'll find more blocks, such as ones which reverse the Troddlers' direction, ones which deflects cannonball fire, and ones which the Troddlers can go through, but you can't. You can also find bombs, which will blow up surrounding blocks, if a Troddler sacrifices himself to do so.
You'll also get more objectives later - Such as collecting gems scattered around the stage, or killing all "Zombie Troddlers" before they can kill your normal ones. There is also a two-player mode where you can attempt to beat each stage together. The original SNES release supported the SNES mouse (Removing your character and only leaving a cursor behind, meaning the platforming element disappeared completely), but we don't think it would keep this feature if it was released on VC. Accompanying the addictive gameplay is a rather brilliant soundtrack, which has some songs that take full use of the SNES's sound quality.
6. Boulder Dash (C64, NES)
If you owned a Commodore 64 there's no doubt you'll know this classic - You play as Rockford the miner, who has to dig his way through a maze of dirt in order to collect enough diamonds to leave. Of course it's not that easy, as aside from enemies which will attempt to kill you, there are boulders hidden in the dirt, which can be an advantage or disadvantage depending on how they're used. Once you dig right underneath one of them, you better make haste and get out of there, as in a moment it'll drop down and squash anything underneath (Including you and any enemies!).
One of the reasons Boulder Dash was so popular was that it was so simple - Every level has its own starting layout. You know what that means - It was easy to create programs to edit levels to your own liking. Custom level creation in Boulder Dash became extremely popular, to the point where the creator actually released an official editor. The NES version of the original game features some rather nice upgraded cartoony visuals, together with different worlds and, of course, music. We think the NES version is more likely for a VC release.
5. Equinox (SNES)
Equinox is the sequel to the isometric NES game Solstice. You played the wizard Shadax, who had to solve puzzles to find pieces of a staff. While the game was fun, the lack of a full map (It only shows a small portion) hurt it quite a bit! in Equinox, you play as Shadax's son Glendaal - There is now an overworld which you can freely move around on, with entrances to 8 dungeons. In each of these dungeons, your task is to collect 12 orbs which will then resurrect a boss for you to kill. Obviously, once this is done, you have to defeat them all.
In each dungeon you'll find a new spell (Such as Heal, Slow and Freeze) and a new weapon (Such as a knife, shuriken or mace) to assist your dungeon adventures. The game itself is basically the same as Solstice, except for the seperate levels, which are relatively small and linear, meaning you need no map. The only notable problem is that Glendaal is quite slow, so if you want to get into the game you're going to need some degree of patience!
4. Sutte Hakkun (SNES)
This is the game on this list which will probably confuse most people - Sutte Hakkun is a Nintendo-developed game which was unfortunately released only in Japan. It started out as a downloadable game on the SNES Satellaview-X add-on, but was eventually released on a cartridge due to the success it enjoyed. You take control of Hakkun, who is a blob of jelly (Suspiciously resembling a kiwi bird) with a long nose.
Using this nose he can suck up blocks and paint - Injecting blocks with paint will cause them to move around (In different ways depending on the colour). Using this, your objective is to cleverly use the blocks and paint in order to collect all crystals located in every stage. Eventually you will also encounter also characters, who can assist you in doing things. Aside from regular stages, there is also a mini-game at the end of each world. There are over 100 levels to clear, so the game will certainly last a while. It's simple and addictive - That's all that matters, really!
3. Lemmings (C64, Mega Drive, NES, SNES, Turbo-CD)
Is there anybody who doesn't know Lemmings? Your objective in the game is to guide a group of suicidal creatures known as Lemmings towards the exit of each stage, while avoiding any dangers such as squishing devices, water, and other traps. Just walking around won't do, so you have the ability to give individual Lemmings temporary skills, such as digging, bridge building, stopping other Lemmings, carrying a parachute when falling, or even exploding!
The trick is that you only have limited use of each skill (And in most levels you'll only have one or two skills), so you have to make very clever use of the skills that you have in order to reach the exit. You don't have to get every Lemming over there, but there is a minimum amount that has to reach the exit before you fail. A notable feature which contributed to the game's popularity is the use of various pieces of classical music (And you have to admit, playing classical music while cartoony creatures are dying is always a winning combination). Of the versions eligible for VC, the Mega Drive version is arguably the best, as it has 180 levels, compared to 100-125 in the other ones. However, the SNES version obviously has the best graphics and music, making it arguably the version that gives the best "experience".
2. Tetris Attack (SNES)
Tetris Attack is still one of Nintendo's strangest games. Panel de Pon, a Japanese puzzle game for the SNES, was apparently deemed too strange for European and American standards, causing Nintendo to completely overhaul the game - They replaced all fairies and other cute characters with... Yoshi characters! This means the game is sort of a continuation of Super Mario World 2. The objective of the game is similar to Tetris, Dr. Mario, and other falling block puzzlers, except this time, it's more of a "rising block puzzler".
A number of blocks will rise up from the bottom of the screen in both players' fields, and you must swap them around (You can only swap blocks next to each other, not above/below) in order to create lines of 3 or more of the same type to eliminate them.Stringing together combos will drop giant garbage blocks in your opponent's field, which will break apart into smaller blocks if they happen to be next to other blocks you make disappear. Like most similar games, you will win if the opponent's blocks go off the top of the screen. Aside from a normal versus mode, there's a story mode, endless mode, and a puzzle mode. Panel de Pon was already released on Japan's Virtual Console last year, so we personally imagine it's only a matter of time until we get Tetris Attack (Or at least, the game originally called Tetris Attack, as there are apparently issues with the Tetris name, meaning a name change might be required!).
1. The Lost Vikings (Mega Drive, SNES)
This should come as no surprise if you're familiar with this game. The Lost Vikings is a platformer/puzzle hybrid (Hence why it was also on the Top 10 Platformers list last year!) created by the company now known as Blizzard (Famous for Warcraft and Starcraft), featuring, as the title implies, lost vikings!
The three vikings, Baleog, Erik and Olaf, are enjoying a peaceful viking life, until one night, when they're kidnapped by a galactic conqueror known as Tomator. After escaping his spaceship, they are sent through dimensional rifts, making them appear not just in timezones like prehistory and the Egyptian period, but also in strange locations like a factory and candy land! Each world features about 8 levels full of both platforming and puzzling.
The unique thing about The Lost Vikings is that you've got three characters at your disposal. Baleog is a warrior, and can use his sword and bow to dispatch enemies or hit far-away switches, Olaf has a shield with which he can float (Don't ask!) or block enemy attacks, and Erik is the only one who can run, jump and headbutt (To attack enemies or break down walls). Obviously they're not invincible (Despite being vikings), and three hits will kill any viking, forcing you to restart the level. The game doesn't go too light on the gruesome one-hit kills either, as you can indeed end up with vikings impaled on spikes or electrified to death. You can only control one viking at a time, but you can freely switch between them any time you want.
Beating the game requires excellent combining of each of the vikings' skills, such as, for example, making Olaf hold his shield above him in order to provide a higher platform for Erik to jump off of, or Olaf blocking enemies while Baleog takes them out from a distance. It's this unique aspect which makes the game extremely fun to play. The vikings' skills alone won't be alone to beat each stage though, as quickly enough you will have to also pick up and use items such as keys or batteries in order to open doors. Each vikings can carry four items, but if they're close to each other, they can give each other items as well (For example, maybe only Erik can reach a certain keyhole, so he would need the key!). The levels start out small, but eventually they'll get pretty big and will take multiple tries to beat.
Which version of the game is better is arguable - The SNES version obviously has better graphics and sound, but the Mega Drive version has one additional song (Strangely) and about 5 extra levels. Accompanying the excellent gameplay is some incredibly infectious music, which you will be humming for a long time once you're done playing.
The game was, thankfully, followed up with a sequel, called Norse by Norsewest: The Return of the Lost Vikings, also on SNES (But not Mega Drive), which added two characters (Fang and Scorch, a werewolf and dragon) and sent the vikings off to new locations. As four Interplay-published games are already coming to VC, and The Lost Vikings was originally published by Interplay as well, the situation for it and its sequel is looking relatively good. Let's hope Blizzard supports VC!