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Corbie's Top 20 Virtual Console Releases - Part 1

Posted by Corbie Dillard

We've already done quite a few Top 10 lists of games we'd like to see hit the Virtual Console, but now that we're quickly approaching 300 Virtual Console releases, we thought it might be a good time to come up with a list of our favorite Virtual Console releases already available for the service.

I'm going to kick things off with my own personal Top 20 Virtual Console releases list. Now before the carnage begins, please keep in mind that this is my own personal list of favorites. I realize that there will inevitably be disagreement as to which games made the list and which games didn't make the list and that's what the comments section below is for. Let's try to keep it nice. Here's Part 1.

20. Bio Miracle Bokutte Upa (NES) - I was turned on to Bio Miracle a few years ago by a fellow Super Nintendo site owner that I've stayed in contact with over the years. Although he's never steered me wrong yet, I was still a bit hesitant to pick this game up after staring at screenshots of the game in action off and on for a few weeks. It just looked too silly and I couldn't see how it could possibly be any fun to play a platformer that revolved around a tiny crawling baby. Fortunately, I ignored my gut instinct and bought the game anyway and it's turned into one of my favorite NES platformers. I was thrilled to see the game finally released outside of Japan so everyone across the world could finally have the opportunity to see what a unique and charming platformer the game truly is. I guess if ever there were a solid example of the motto "Don't judge a book by its cover" then this game is it.

19. New Adventure Island (TG16) - The Wonderboy and Adventure Island games have seen quite a few releases on various consoles over the years, but none better than this outstanding TurboGrafx-16 rendition. Smooth and responsive play control and some of the best visuals the series has ever seen all work in unison to form what I consider to be the best release in either series on any system. The music is quite eccentric and the visuals are eye-gougingly colorful, but all of these unique elements seem to make the game all the more enjoyable. The game is a bit on the easy side for the first couple of levels, but the challenge does pick up later on in the game and will prove to be quite a handful in the last few stages. Not only can you enjoy this great original title on the Virtual Console, but Hudson is also currently working on a brand new Adventure Island title for the WiiWare service as well.

18. Air Zonk (TG-16) - The day I bought Air Zonk, during the TurboGrafx-16 console's short run here in the US, I honestly thought I was getting a more futuristic version of the Bonk's Adventure platformers. Little did I know that the game was actually a shooter and a very good one at that. Air Zonk takes the Bonk-like character Zonk and pits him in one of the most unusual shooters you're ever likely to see. The play control is absolutely fantastic and the game's unique presentation and psychedelic overtones make for one unbelievably original shooter experiences, complete with some of the most insane bosses ever seen in the genre. Super Air Zonk CD is also available on the Virtual Console service, but for some strange reason the developers messed with the winning formula found in the original a bit too much and the sequel lost some of the magic found in the original release. If you can appreciate a really unique shooting experience and don't mind a little off-the-wall humor thrown into the mix, Air Zonk will definitely provide you with a shooter package unlike anything else available on the Virtual Console service at the moment.

17. Metal Slug (Neo-Geo) - Here's another Neo Geo game that I had never played until I got the Neo Geo Candy arcade cabinet. I kept reading about how great the Metal Slug games were, so I finally gave in and tracked down a copy of the original Metal Slug. While I still prefer Gunstar Heroes for overall intensity, Metal Slug is still a very capable and enjoyable run-n-gun title. Much like other series, the games continued to get better and more refined with each new release. Since this original is the only game in the series currently available on the Virtual Console, you'll just have to settle for it until the amazing Metal Slug X and Metal Slug 3 hit the Virtual Console service. I'd still rank this title above the Contra games in terms of overall playability and style, but not by much.

16. Super Fantasy Zone (Mega Drive) - I imported quite a few games for my Super Nintendo and Turbo Duo consoles back in the day, but oddly enough I only imported one game for my Sega Genesis system and that game was Super Fantasy Zone. After seeing a handful of screens of the game in a gaming magazine, I decided to order it from this import retailer I had used quite a few times in the past. I ended up paying almost $90 for the game, but over the years I've gotten every penny out of it and more. I've long been a huge fan of the Fantasy Zone games, but Super Fantasy Zone goes way above and beyond anything seen in any of the previous releases. The visuals are outstanding and the music is easily some of the best heard on the Genesis console. If you're a Fantasy Zone fan, this is a game you absolutely must try out.

15. Legend of the Mystical Ninja (SNES) - Here's yet another game that tends to get equal amounts of both love and hate around the internet. The local hardware store in the small town I grew up in usually got in one or two Super Nintendo games every few months and if I got desperate and couldn't make it into the city I would generally pick up one of the few games they had in stock to tide me over. The Legend of the Mystical Ninja is one such game and despite not having much hope of it being a very good game judging from the cover art, it turned out to be one of my all-time Super NES favorites. The game features a very Japanese-styled theme and splits the game play up into two parts. One part has your character exploring the various villages and towns and the second part places you into a more traditional side-scroller atmosphere. The game's quirky humor and rock-solid game play are what give it such a charming personality and the game features a fairly lengthy and challenging overall quest to keep you busy for some time. It's certainly not a game that's going to appeal to just anyone, but if you're open to something a bit different, The Legend of the Mystical Ninja might be just what you're looking for.

14. Sonic the Hedgehog 3 (Mega Drive) - The funny thing about the Sonic series for me is that I didn't care for the 16-bit Sonic titles during the 16-bit era. I always thought the games were too fast-paced and I couldn't really follow what was going on much of the time. Maybe I had been playing too much Super Mario Bros., but in 1998 when I finally climbed out of the dark ages and got connected to the internet, I began buying game consoles and games that I had either sold or had broken over the years and the Sonic titles were among the first I bought in an effort to give them another chance. For whatever reason or another I loved these games the second time around and Sonic 3 became one of my favorites, eclipsed only by its sequel Sonic & Knuckles. Sonic 3 took all the good points of the Sonic series and added in some new game play twists and a brand new mini-game to give the game a fresh look and feel to it. While I love all of the 16-bit Sonic titles now, of the three available on the Virtual Console, Sonic 3 remains my personal favorite.

13. Samurai Shodown II (Neo-Geo) - I'll admit that I wasn't quite as big a fan of the Street Fighter II games as many gamers were back in the early 90's. I tended to like the more obscure fighting game series like the World Heroes and Samurai Shodown titles. Although I shoved my fair share of quarters in the original Samurai Shodown arcade cabinet, it wasn't until the sequel Samurai Shodown II showed up in the local arcade that I knew I was going to have to break down and buy a Neo Geo Console at some point. Sadly it wouldn't be until many years later that I would finally invest in my own Neo Geo Candy arcade cabinet and the first game I bought for it was Samurai Shodown II. The game takes everything great about the original and adds in four new characters and a host of game play improvements to form what I consider to be the pinnacle of the Samurai Shodown series and one of the best 2-D weapons-based fighters ever created. While I consider many of the Neo Geo Virtual Console releases to be overpriced, the same can certainly not be said about Samurai Shodown II, as I feel it would be a bargain at twice the price.

12. Shining Force II: Ancient Sealing (Mega Drive) - Having not been much of a strategy game fan during the 16-bit era, it's no surprise that I missed the Shining Force titles the first time around. It wasn't until I got into the Fire Emblem games on the Game Boy Advance that I began to enjoy these types of games. It was then that I went back and bought the three 16-bit Shining Force titles. While I still prefer Shining Force CD, it's hard to argue that Shining Force II is almost every bit as good from start to finish. The game features a very engaging story line and a well executed combat system that creates a very enjoyable strategy game experience that allows you to focus on the task at hand instead of rummaging through an excess of complicated game play selections. While I'm still a big fan of the Fire Emblem titles to this day, it's Shining Force II that I place at the top of my favorite strategy games list every time.

11. Gunstar Heroes (Mega Drive) - This is another game that was getting raves in many of the gaming publications of the time period. Being a huge fan of the Contra series, this game jumped to the top of my wish list quickly and turned out to be one of my favorite Sega Genesis game titles when it was all said and done. Treasure, made up of members who worked on the Super NES shooter Axelay, took the game play ideas behind the wildly popular Contra titles and somehow managed to crank up the intensity several notches. There's not a down moment in the entire game and some of the bosses in the game are absolutely insane. The game has everything a run-n-gun fan could want, from wildly powerful firepower to an endless barrage of enemy encounters from every direction imaginable. If you like your video games with a heaping helping of intensity, look no further than Gunstar Heroes. This game makes Contra look like a relaxing game of Chutes & Ladders.

Continue to: Corbie's Top 20 Virtual Console Releases - Part 2

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User Comments (28)



AlexSays said:

Fun read.
I really like these Top lists.
It gives me an idea on what games I still need to purchase.

Actually I have a question.
Is it worth owning Gate of Thunder and Lords of Thunder? Or will I like one more than the other, so one will likely be neglected?



hamispink said:

good list, not my cup of tea but i am considering the sonic games on the megadrive



Corbs said:

@ AlexSays - No. You should definitely get both Lords of Thunder and Gate of Thunder. They're completely different although they do share a similar playing style at times. Two of the greatest shooters ever made and believe me, I own over 80 of them so I don't say that lightly.



Adamant said:

"20. Bio Miracle (NES)"

Bokutte Upa is a nice indicator of whether someone is able to read Japanese or not. If you call the game "Bio Miracle", you're clearly not seeing anything but weird squiggles on the title screen. Calling it Bio Miracle is like calling the original Metal Slug "Super Vehicle 001".



Corbs said:

I thought I'd keep it simple and not be too technical about the Japanese name. And I read very little Japanese truthfully. That's why I own so many of these custom Super NES carts with the RPGs already translated for me.



y2josh said:

thanks for the top 20 corbie, the articles on vc-reviews are becoming slim. helps me choose some new titles for the future as well. i've never played castlevania ii, may try it out because of you



Adamant said:

Corbie: Well, yeah, nothing wrong with keeping it simple, but given that "Bokutte Upa" is written in a massive, centered font, while "Bio Miracle" is farting off in the corner, it's very obvious which part of the name they want you to focus on, and which part is to be regarded as a subtitle. Another example would be "Super Mario Land 3: Wario Land - how often do you see that being referred to with it's full name, or just "SML3"? The "Wario Land" part is writtn in such a massive font that the title just screams out "Refer to me as this".
Bio Miracle Bokutte Upa is the exact same way, and like Wario Land, it's also the first part of the title, which is why it's so easy to tell whether you were able to read the title screen by what you refer to it as



Corbs said:

My thought process was this: This site covers US and European Virtual Console releases. I normally see gamers refer to it as Bio Miracle and since both of those words are used quite often in English speaking references, and not Bokutte Upa, I went with Bio Miracle. It wasn't really a rocket science-type decision or a need I felt to prove how hardcore I was. I just took the simple route.



Adamant said:

" I normally see gamers refer to it as Bio Miracle"

I know. That's the funny part, since it's just the subtitle. Hence, my comment about how it's a good indicator of whether or not you can read Japanese.



Corbs said:

I guess that's true. And I understand what you're saying, I was just trying to avoid confusion for those who wouldn't know or have to look it up. It's like the Dai Makai-mura games. I used to refer to them that way as most of my versions of the game are the Japanse counterparts, and people wouldn't have a clue that I was talking about the Ghouls & Ghosts games.



Wiiloveit said:

Wait... Sonic 3? Sonic 2 was much better.
Either way, I really enjoyed going through your lists and seeing something different.



Varoennauraa said:

Perhaps this list should be called, "not the most obvious list of top VC-favourites", then. Super Mario World is really the best at what it does! I hope that next New Super Mario bros. would take it as a role model instead of 3. (and would be released next week as WiiWare)



Corbs said:

I love Super Mario World, but I've always felt Super Mario Bros. 3 was the better game. And even though I tried not to be too obvious with the game choices, in truth these are my favorite 20 Virtual Console games in the exact order I like them.



Ricardo91 said:

Yay, another list! And a good one too. I love how you took a more adventurous approach, and didn't just pick obvious ones like Ocarina of Time. But I'm a bit parplexed as to how New Adventure Island got on there.



Corbs said:

Well I tried to keep things interesting. And New Adventure Island has long been one of my all-time favorite PC Engine games. I love its simplicity and raw platforming action.



The best releases so far are Super Mario RPG, Lords of Thunder, and Super Mario Bros. 3, hands down! All my opinions though. Also, as I've said before, I really want TMNT III for the NES. I love that game.



Dazza said:

New Adventure Island, pah! Don't give me this new fangled Master Higgins malarky! I much prefer Wonder Boy's golden locks when I want some skateboarding and axe throwing antics!



Tides_of_Chaos said:

I always say to myself that I will buy all the games on each Top 10/20 list and I never do it. Maybe this time it will be different but we'll see.
Oh, and I just want to say that it's great to see some more editorial type content on VC-Reviews and not just a ton of news updates.



Captain_Konami said:

Definitely a thought provoking list.
I'm in hearty agreement about the edge Super Mario 3 has on Super Mario World, and I'm saying this with SMW having a very fond place in my heart as the first great SNES game I played. What SM3 did with the NES graphics capability, and the originality of the content...... it JUST barely edges SMW's strengths in graphics
(which while fancier, were almost a bit too kiddie like compared to the somewhat darker feel of SM3's design.....almost like Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles compared to FF3 [US 3, not the Japanese numbered 3 of the series] ...except that SMW added to its franchise while FF CC... well, didn't, in my humble opinion.)
and variety of tools and interactive environments.

If I had to pick the 10 best VC available games to date:
1. Super Mario RPG (Nintendo & Square..... that is all)
2. Zelda: Ocarina of Time (unparalleled expansive realm and gameplay abilities)
3. River City Ransom (visually simple double dragon + RPG level ups + BARF = greatness)
4. Starfox 64 (one of those truly Complete games...... Top of the line N64)
5. Mega Man 2 (another one of those truly Complete games....... with one of the great endings)
6. Castlevania 2 (a level of sinister ambiance and mystery rarely matched by other games)
7. Zelda: A Link to Past (another another one of the truly Complete games...and in Hyrule no less)
8. Super Mario 3 (Perhaps the greatest design and balance of any game, certainly of any Mario platformer)
9. Summer Games II (Just missing skeet shooting from the first one to be darned near perfect)
10. Impossible Mission (One of those other few games with the sinister ambiance, and great action/puzzles gameplay as well)

(the two C64 games might be higher among the top 10, but I just can't get past the feeling of Apples/Oranges with them vs the console games)

And if I went to my top 20 it'd get pretty tough to figure which were great and my fav and which were just my fav....but the second 10 would probably include:
Zelda1, Lolo1, F-Zero, Ninja Gaiden 2 (barely beating the first 1's nostalgia), Metroid, Super Dodge Ball, Punch Out, Street Fighter II: TWW, Super Mario World, & Super no particular order.

TMNT would be in the second ten, but few would probably understand the respect I have for the game, it being one of the most difficult games I've ever played that didn't feel cheap in it being so (see Ninja Gaiden 3 for an example of cheaply insanely tough).

Mario Kart 64 would be in the second 10, maybe the top 10....but I feel that Super Mario kart was a better, purer game than the 64 one and in good conscience put the 64 one up when it is topped by it's ancestor.

I'd LOVE to put the C64's World Games up there.....just based on the image of a cliff diver going head first into the mud and the sound effect for it....along with the sight of a skater bouncing on his butt across barrals....but alas, not to be.

Altered Beast ought to be in there somewhere, just based on the awe I had of it's graphics and how it essentially WAS the Sega Genesis to me. And the second Sonic the Hedgehog could easily be in my top 20 too, if only I weren't so in love with my Nintendo experiences

If the NES Double Dragon had been 2 players simultaneous, it would be in the top 5. If any of the first 3 US Final Fantasy games were in yet, they might all three be in the top 10, well, FF1 might have to slide to the second 10.....

And Pro Wrestling, Bionic Commando, Goonies 2, and Metal Gear would all be guarenteed in the top 20, probably most all in the top 10.....somehow.....and I'd give Bionic Commando a lock for a spot in the top 5. It and Mega Man 2 are among what I consider near perfect NES games, and great games for any system or time. .......if ANY of them were even available on the VC......



Corbs said:

I too remember the awe of having a near-perfect home port of Altered Beast included with the Genesis. I loved that arcade game, although it hasn't aged quite as well as I'd like over the years. And I love the Commodore 64, and I always have. I'd still like to see games like Master of the Lamps and Bruce Lee released on the VC if/when it comes to the US VC.



Captain_Konami said:

I'd say Altered Beast still looks pretty cool, but yeah the depth of gameplay never was quite there.

But that's what we need today, more new game systems sold with perfect arcade ports included. I think the Super NES was the last time I got a really satisfying game included standard with a game system. I'm not sure which is worse, the fact that it isn't as much of a standard anymore (except for special packages and usually at greater expense), or that I'm OLD school enough to say "Ahhhh, back in the day........"

And I recall trying to play Bruce Lee on my C64 and being forever baffled as to my goal. It was an odd mix of fun and frustration.



michinmuri said:

"Bio Miracle." Bio makes me think of the poisonous spell in the FF series, and that makes me think of dirty diapers considering the main character is a baby. Eww.

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