Strategic fun with Slimes and others!

Yes, it's that time again - time to release a few WiiWare and Virtual Console games Europe has already had for some time! The WiiWare side of things is quite decent, but most people will likely pass on this week's single new VC offering. DSiWare gets a certain anticipated strategy title from Square Enix and a new Art Academy game from Nintendo.

Taito has finished (for the time being) remaking Bubble Bobble games on WiiWare, so they've moved on to other franchises - Arkanoid Plus! is a re-imagining of the original ball and paddle game. Even if you're not familiar with the name you're almost definitely familiar with the gameplay: all you need to do is repeatedly bounce a ball off a movable paddle in order to break the various coloured blocks above, catching powerups amidst the action. As with all other "Plus!" games, this one is 200 Wii Points cheaper in North America, only costing 600 instead of 800. We thought that it was quite a faithful remake, but ultimately doesn't really do anything special. It's still as addictive as ever though!

Konami's Driift Mania is a top-down single-screen racer similar to the classic Off-Road games. As you can see the entire track at all times, it really all comes down to accelerating, braking and turning at exactly the right moments. No unfair items and power-ups here! Of course, you can play against the AI, but at its heart it's a true multiplayer game, and with support for up to 8 players it can get quite hectic. Unfortunately, there's no online multiplayer, so you'll have to round up friends in real life if you want to get the most out of it! In our opinion it's quite a fun game, especially if you're going to be making frequent use of multiplayer, but otherwise nothing outstanding. It costs 800 Wii Points.

Quite strange how the world works sometimes: the arcade version of Altered Beast costs 800 Wii Points in Japan, where it was released first. In Europe, which got it second, it costs 900 points. Now North America has it, and guess how much it costs? Yes, 1000 points! Although it's arguably better than the Genesis port, Altered Beast is just one of those games which hasn't stood the test of time - it's shallow and boring, and the only thing it's really good for nowadays is nostalgia or hearing the ridiculous digitized voices again. Wise fwom your gwave!

DSiWare finally gets another big release - Dragon Quest Wars is a strategy spinoff of Square Enix's popular RPG series, featuring Slimes and various other monsters any fan is familiar with. The game looks quite good, and for only 500 DSi Points it seems relatively cheap as well. Watch for our full review soon.

Art Academy: Second Semester is of course the sequel to First Semester, which came out only two weeks ago. The first was quite a decent little title for the artistic types and we have no reason to doubt that this one will just offer more methods to express yourself with. Beware though, because like the first, it costs 800 DSi Points! We'll review it soon.

Five more games! Do any catch your fancy? More from Nintendo's press release:


Sept. 28, 2009

Greek mythology, grid-based strategy, high-speed racing, classic arcade action and a hand-held art course - this week's additions to the Wii™ Shop Channel and Nintendo DSi™ Shop deliver a wildly entertaining mix. With new WiiWare™, Nintendo DSiWare™ and Virtual Console™ games debuting each week, Nintendo offers downloadable games to please everyone under the sun, and the list keeps on growing. For Nintendo DSi users looking to grow their own game library, here's a valuable tip-off: Consumers can still receive 1,000 bonus Nintendo DSi Points™ by purchasing a new Nintendo DSi game system and connecting to the Nintendo DSi Shop by 11:59 p.m. Pacific time on Oct. 5, 2009. For full offer details, please visit

Nintendo DSiWare

Art Academy™: Second Semester
Publisher: Nintendo
Players: 1
ESRB Rating: E (Everyone)
Price: 800 Nintendo DSi Points
Description: Art Academy is a portable art course that anyone can enjoy. Art Academy: Second Semester provides new and returning students with a larger set of tools and in-depth lessons designed to encourage the creation of more complex artwork. By gaining an even deeper understanding of colors and techniques used by famous impressionist artists, you will be ready to take on more challenging themes that include moving objects, and vast landscapes with distant objects. The openness of Free Paint mode offers plenty of opportunities to hone your skills and boost your confidence as an artist.

Publisher: SQUARE ENIX
Players: 1-4
ESRB Rating: E (Everyone) - Mild Cartoon Violence, Mild Language
Price: 500 Nintendo DSi Points
Description: DRAGON QUEST WARS is a grid-based strategy game featuring all of your favorite quirky DRAGON QUEST monsters. Choose from several modes and get ready for battle. While the rules are simple, strategy is the key to victory. The game features single-player and DS Wireless Play, as well as battles with foes worldwide via Nintendo® Wi-Fi Connection. (Broadband Internet access is required for online play.)


Publisher: TAITO
Players: 1-2
ESRB Rating: E (Everyone) - Mild Fantasy Violence
Price: 600 Wii Points™
Description: ARKANOID Plus! is an updated version of the original arcade blockbuster. Players must destroy colored blocks by guiding an Energy Ball around the screen using a spaceship called a VAUS. The game features a host of new modes and settings that radically alter the experience: Arcade Mode consists of 61 rounds divided into left and right versions, with two types of boss characters appearing in the last round; VS Mode lets players face off against a friend or the CPU; and the unfailingly frantic Time Mode challenges players to clear rounds within a strict time limit. With the subtle differences arising from the choice of "Lives" or "Barrier" rules, plus a plethora of exciting items, you're in for hours and hours of block-busting fun.

DRiiFT Mania
Publisher: Konami Digital Entertainment
Players: 1-8
ESRB Rating: E (Everyone) - Comic Mischief
Price: 800 Wii Points
Description: DRiiFT Mania is the ultimate top-down multiplayer racing experience. Challenge your friends in fast, exciting races and some totally crazy game modes. You'll need to adapt your driving skills to the different racing environments if you want to succeed.

Virtual Console

Altered Beast™
Publisher: SEGA
Players: 1-2
ESRB Rating: E10+ (Everyone 10 and Older) - Fantasy Violence
Price: 1,000 Wii Points
Description: "Rise from your grave!" When legendary Greek god Zeus brings you back to life with those famous words, you set forth on a mission to rescue his daughter, Athena, from the wicked God of the Underworld, Neff. To survive the gauntlet of mythological foes, you must hunt down the three-headed wolves that inhabit each stage and collect the Spirit Balls that they release. The Spirit Balls increase your strength and allow you to transform into a variety of forms, including a Werewolf, Weredragon, Werebear, Weretiger and the ultimate form, the Golden Werewolf. Each creature possesses powerful attacks to help bring an end to Neff's scheme.