Genterprise certainly appears to be a big fan of the Nintendo DSi, having released nearly a score of titles under the G.G Series banner, all of which have been previewed on this very site. Having them collected into a DS retail release to reach a broader audience makes sense, but even if you've already downloaded every last one of the DSiWare releases there's a serious incentive to acquire this collection as it contains twice as many games as the original DSiWare releases, giving you a grand total of 30 games in a gem of a collection.
What makes the G.G Series so interesting is that the overall quality of the games is on par with games you'd find in an arcade some 15-20 years ago. Owning the G.G Series Collection+ is like having a compilation of never-before-seen arcade games, and definitely a nice antidote to your typical "minigame collection."
In keeping with the retro theme there is no stylus or touchscreen support: menus and games are all button-driven and easy to get to grips with for importers thanks to a heavy use of English in menus and simple game controls. It's not much different than if you encountered a bootleg game or grey-market import at your local arcade back in the day: you can jump in and start playing with a little bit of trial-and-error. If you want to read the instructions they've been re-formatted from the original DSiWare layout and are easy to click-through with the D-Pad rather than using the stylus for navigation. Whilst the instructions for each of the games are in Japanese they're all illustrated and reference the buttons and D-Pad using icons - it's just like looking at an old arcade bezel with the instructions indicated via simple illustrations.
The games are found in the Game Play menu, grouped into four genre-based categories: Puzzle, Shooter, Action and Sports with at least half a dozen titles in each one. Browsing is made easier by allowing you to flip between genres using the L and R buttons rather than having to back-out to the previous menu.
After a game launches it's pretty much like playing the DSiWare version with the exception of your ever-present G.G Navi replacing the "G.G" logo on the top screen. G.G Navi is an anime girl with an oversized head who acts as the G.G girl guide; mostly she just sits there looking cute in an outfit that changes depending upon the theme of the game you're playing. You can customise her appearance with items you can purchase in the G.G Shop using "GP" - a currency earned in the course of playing games, bringing us to the most controversial aspect of this collection: the need to unlock pretty much everything.
Rather than simply give access to the entire collection from the get-go, Genterprise decided to make you work for your supper. You'll initially have access to one game in each category: Conveyor Kombō, ZONE, Shinobi Karakuri Den and Drift Circuit. You also have 60,000GP with which you can buy two additional games from the G.G Shop. When purchasing games from the shop you're given a choice of four: one in each genre. The games that appear on offer are randomly selected each day, so if you want a particular game you'll simply have to keep coming back until the one you want is there.
Earning 30,000GP for a future game or 1,000GP for Navi items is a matter of achieving targets for each game. These targets are listed on a per-game basis in the Archive section, where you'll also find Navi customisation, high score tables, the number of times you've played each game and your total play time for each game. Targets are generally simple like reaching certain levels or achieving specific scores, but many of them are secret (only indicated with ???) so you'll just have to keep playing to reach them. You'll get a few thousand GP for hitting these targets which will then be highlighted in the target screen for the game. You'll only get GP for getting the target the first time, so improving your skill and/or countless replays (you get a few hundred GP based on gameplay normally) will be required to unlock all the games.
The good thing is that with an initial six games to play you'll have a good selection to choose from and the quality of the series overall is such that even subpar games like Drift Circuit are enjoyable enough to play for hitting targets – even if they aren't as much fun as the other games. Having to replay games in order to get the targets so you can unlock more games does irritate a bit, but there's something to be said for savouring the quality of the selections on offer and the additional replays certainly give you an opportunity to learn the ins-and-outs of each game.
For veterans of the G.G Series on DSiWare there are lots of new games to explore and from the two we managed to unlock, they're the same quirky quality as we've already seen in the DSi Shop.
Harisen Bon! is a unusual shooter in which players control a porcupine fish whose spines can be fired or used to bump into enemies after puffing up. The latter is necessary to give him some forward momentum or he'll just drift down to the bottom of the screen. Given the presence of hazardous mines and crystal spikes on the floors and ceiling in many places, players will need to use timed presses to float their way through stages to challenging boss fights against giant seahorses and the like.
The Last Knight is a top-down dungeon crawler with a light RPG aspect. Your knight journeys through several rooms in each dungeon level fighting all the enemies located therein; getting a small health boost as a reward for room clearance and levelling up one attribute every five or so rooms cleared. Every floor has a special item located in one of the rooms which gives a special boost to attack or defense and naturally there's a boss (often a dragon) to defeat in order to access the next dungeon.
Suzak certainly has its fingers on the retro pulse and we're happy that Genterprise has been good enough to publish a number of these titles on DSiWare in other territories outside of Japan. Hopefully this collection will also wend its way around the world so others can partake of the full suite of these "long lost" classics.