(VC Arcade / Virtual Console Arcade)

Solomon's Key (VC Arcade / Virtual Console Arcade)

Game Review

Solomon's Key Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by Marcel van Duyn

A near-identical version of a game already available on the Virtual Console

Way back when the Wii came out in late 2006, one of the initial games available on Virtual Console was the NES version of Solomon's Key. Now that arcade games have been added to the service's catalogue, Tecmo has chosen to release the original arcade version. But is it really worth another 500 Wii Points?

The gameplay in this arcade version is, as you might have guessed from the screens and video, exactly the same as its home console port. As Dana the Magician, you must collect a key in each stage to open a door. You must then make your way over to said door to reach the next level. Dana's special ability is that he can create and destroy blocks to stand on; using this ability, he can create platforms and makeshift staircases to reach almost any area.

If you've already played the NES version of the game, you'll probably instantly notice that the levels are, for the most part, exactly the same. The only change is that the arcade version of the game has two extra-dangerous enemies which were replaced by weaker ones in the NES version - The amount of enemies in each stage is unchanged. The NES game actually has a few extra stages not in the original arcade release, a total of 49 including secret ones.

The arcade game, on the other hand, has 51 stages; however, five of those are bonus rounds not seen in the NES game, which offer no challenge (they pretty much exist just to give you free items), meaning that overall, the NES version of the game has a handful more "normal" stages.

One obvious difference between the two versions is the game's graphics and sound quality, as you might've guessed. The graphics have a gritty yet interesting arcade look to them, but the music and sound effects actually don't really sound that much different.

The only real "advantage" this version of the game has over the NES one is that, like all arcade games on Virtual Console, you can configure some game settings; you can set the amount of lives, difficulty level, timer speed as well as the score threshold for extra lives.


If, for some reason, you haven't yet bought the NES version of Solomon's Key, then there's no questioning which one you should pick up; this one has a few fairly minor features over the NES game, but for some reason costs exactly the same amount of Nintendo Points, making the choice pretty easy. If you have already bought the NES version, then it's really quite pointless to pick this up, unless you really love the game! Still, as there are no real huge advantages or disadvantages between the two versions, we can't really do anything but give it the same score.

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User Comments (23)



zane said:

Great great so how about fire and ice now. Me wants it badly played it a lot yesteryears



Manaman said:

Sorry, but I have to correct the review on aspects that are wrong:

The Arcade version DOES in fact have more monsters than the NES version and this changes the scope and how you actually approach the levels (as opposed to the NES version):

Slime - Slow moving but can be between blocks to slaughter you.

Mages - These monsters have the same abilities as you; create blocks, destroy blocks and will chase you relentlessly throughout.

This alone makes the arcade version a LOT more challenging and well worth dishing out the points for. There just seems to be a misconception that these two versions are near identical when they have enough differences to point out.



Omega said:

On the C64/Amiga there is a very similar game called "Spherical". I like Spherical more because Solomon's Key (which is also available on the C64) is hard as nails if you ask me.



Drake said:

@Manaman: When do those begin to appear? I played up to about round 25 on the VC version but didn't see either of them, and I didn't remember them from back in the day either. I've added a bit about them though.



Manaman said:

Hi Drake, Slimes first appear in stage 7 (dropping out of the gate thingy above the dragon) and there are different colours with varying degrees of difficulty.

I believe the mages first appear in stage 23 (drop out of gates if you take your sweet time), but stage 30 is where they feature prominently (and this is a level not used in the NES version):




Betagam7 said:

While its definately appropriate to mention that a NES version already exists this review dwells on it to the point where it just becomes a list of the differences. Only the second paragraph seems geared to telling you about the game without mentioning the word NES somehow (which is mentioned 10 times throughout the review!).
By all means write a comparison article but try and keep it seperate from the review which should really focus on the game itself not just comparing areas of it with another version that might be available.



Klapaucius said:

"you can set the amount of lives, difficulty level, timer speed as well as the score threshold for extra lives." Sold!
Really, though, awesome review. Thanks a lot, as its helped me decide to get this over the NES version. I need to get my card out and buy some more Wii points X_X

I love the Gameboy game, Solomon's Club. I had no idea there was a NES and arcade game, also. Be interesting to see some retro-sequelling on WiiWare of this.



Drake said:

@Betagam7: However, it's a game which has been available for over 2 years - I definitely think most people know it by now, and seeing as there's no gameplay changes I think it's more important to list the differences.



Betagam7 said:

Alot of assuming going on there I feel. Just because a game is already available doesn't mean people will necessarily know anything about it, least of all 'most' people. If you were reviewing another version of Super Mario Bros then that might be a reasonable assumption but Soloman's Key, while not being outright obscure, isn't exactly the sort of game that is known to the masses.
The bottom line is that after reading the review I have a firm idea that this is a better game than the NES version...but that's all. There's nothing to tell me why it gets the score it does or why I should or shouldn't consider investing in it, which, in my view at least, is why I would read a review. Simply stating why its better than another version doesn't help me decide on it as an individial purchase it just tells me that if I do get it I should get this version.
The review summary says "If, for some reason, you haven't yet bought the NES version" which makes it sound like you feel it has been a pretty essential purchase in its NES incarnation, but then the game only gets 7/10 which doesn't really scream 'must buy'.
More detail on the game itself and less details about the NES version might have got across the merits of the game as a piece of entertainment rather than a duplicate of something you feel most people will already be familiar with.

Like I say, I'm not saying comparison pieces can't be useful or shouldn't have a place on VC sites with all the duplicating that goes on but I don't feel a review is the place for them as I'd rather read about the game itself and see it judged on its own merits.



Digiki said:

It was reviewed by a different reviewer, so a second opinion would be nice.

Rather than needlessly extending the review since, due to the relatively few differences, they could've been summed up more concisely, leaving room for a short review of his own. Quite frankly it'd be much better that way, and for one who knows little about Solomon's Key this review is nearly useless on it's own.



timp29 said:

Jeez who cares. Storm in a tea cup. If you're curious go read the other review!



Sean_Aaron said:

Just think though, it could have gone like Space Harrier -- not only did I not read the review of the already-released Master System version, but I gave the arcade game a lower score! Hilarity ensued and the rest is history!



Betagam7 said:


I've read it, but the original review is actually shorter than this one and uses the phrase "we'd highly recommend you check this out"...before also giving it it 7/10

I don't mind admitting I'm confused as to how the final score for both games were achieved as both reviews include phrases that imply the game is a near must have then give it a score that merely indicates 'slightly better than average'.



Digiki said:

Just think though, it could have gone like Space Harrier -- not only did I not read the review of the already-released Master System version, but I gave the arcade game a lower score! Hilarity ensued and the rest is history!

A second opinion was given so that was good, not reading the review helps since you won't have any compulsion to try to make it fit with the other review. The fact that the better game has a lower score is a bit of a shame, although IIRC you did review it, and list the features.



Sean_Aaron said:

@Betagam7: A 7 at Nintendo Life is not "slightly better than average." From the Scoring Policy:

A seven is not average in our eyes. This game will sport a few areas where the game is blatantly let down to the detriment of its overall quality and enjoyment, but it is NOT average.



blackknight77 said:

While I do get annoyed at the VC getting repeats of games, at the same time I also understand that some gamers get nostalgic over certain versions then others. So by releasing Solomon's key in both formats I guess it keeps retro gamers happy in the long run.



Betagam7 said:

@ Sean Aaron

And thus my point remains. I can't find a single paragraph in this review that talks about "areas where the game is blatently let down".
If a game is going to score a 7 then, as NL's own policy dictates, there must surely be some? What are they?

The NES review only mentions that "Like most NES games the graphics and sound are now very dated" but the arcade review clearly indicates an improvement saying "One obvious difference between the two versions is the game's graphics and sound quality, as you might've guessed" although it then contradicts itself by saying that actually "the music and sound actually don't really sound that much different". Presumabley its the graphics that are better then? Or are they? This is the problem with spending over half the review talking about a different version and the problem with assuming everyone has already bought the NES version, the actual plusses and minuses of the game don't get covered and the score ends up coming out of nowhere with nothing to back it up.



Opa-Opa said:

Arcade version is vastly superior than NES port: the first level is different and more bored in NES, you can't do special jump in perfection (jump and hit magic button repeatedly to stay on air), you can't configure difficulty level nor screen setup... best playability, graphics and music in arcade... Can't understand same score. Nlifers, get this one without a doubt!

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