The whip, the whip, the whip is on fire!

After a hiatus Japanese download services are back in top form with 4 new WiiWare releases, 4 new VC releases and (only) 3 DSiWare titles - not too shabby!

Simple Series Vol. 5: The Judo (700pts - D3Publisher) -- A first-person judo game featuring local 2-player splitscreen multiplayer and online leaderboards. Not bad for 700points; if it controls well it would make a nice companion to Tecmo's Sumo game. There's some kind of reference to checking national and world rankings, so is it possible this could be brought out overseas or is that just referring to the fact that there are 20 characters from around the world to choose from?

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Shadow Walker: Boy of Shadow, Fairy of Light (1000pts - Game Arts) -- Game Arts has little presence on the Wii outside of working on Super Smash Bros. Brawl and the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game. This is their first self-published effort and seems to be some kind of action-platformer where you need to stay in shadows to traverse levels.

Shadow dancin'

Dracula Legend: ReBirth (1000pts - Konami) -- This is the 3rd "ReBirth" title from Konami and re-works the Gameboy game known outside of Japan as Castlevania: The Adventure.

Whilst it's not currently clear if this is simply a graphical overhaul of the original game, the description on the Japanese Nintendo page makes reference to the music consisting of rearranged songs "from the series." Depending upon the release schedule elsewhere you may see some First Impressions of this game next week.

Bit.Trip VOID (500pts - Arc System Works) -- Barring a surprise Monday it seems that Japan is getting a Bit.Trip game before North America for the first time (if so expect some First Impressions from Yours Truly)! Like the other Bit.Trip games this one is 100pts cheaper in Japan than the 600pts normally charged elsewhere. You can read more information on this exciting new game from developer Gaijin Games on our dedicated page.

Everybody was judo fightin'

Virtual Console
Championship Lode Runner (Famicom 500pts - Hudson) -- A classic 8-bit computer game from Broderbund with gameplay similar to arcade classic Space Panic and is one of the first games that allowed players to create their own levels. This is the Famicom port of the sequel which included 50 user-generated levels (now that's a good way to reduce development costs). Thus far only Battle Lode Runner for the PC Engine has seen worldwide release (the original NES Lode Runner has yet to see a PAL release), but with Hudson behind it there's a good chance of it coming out elsewhere.

Sonic & Knuckles (Mega Drive 600pts - Sega) -- Even if it's only been announced in Japan fans should be happy because it surely means a world-wide rollout will follow. The Mega Drive cartridge for this game had a pass-through port which allowed players to use Knuckles in the Sonic 2 & 3 games by plugging the other cart into the top. Fans will be pleased to know the Japanese Sega page for this VC release states that folk who own the other Sonic games on Virtual Console for Mega Drive will have access to the same special features available that were in the original cartridge release.

Faceoff (Arcade 800pts - Namco) -- A cartoony ice hockey game played with a top down perspective. Released in arcades in 1988, players could choose a team from various mighty hockey nations like the Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia, Canada, the United States, Sweden, Finland, France (?) and Japan (!!??) to play in a tournament against the rest.

Fall dog bombs the moon

Rolling Thunder 2 (Arcade 800pts - Namco) -- The Mega Drive version of this arcade classic has been out for some time in all territories. Aside from better sound, music and slightly improved animations it's not clear there's any real incentive for getting this over the port unless you're a die-hard fan.

Earth Saver: Meteorite Haku Ha Dai Sakusen (200pts - Tom Create) -- A cheap and cheerful game where you need to Save the Earth from a killer meteor by planting bombs on it and blowing it to bits. Okay, maybe not so cheerful.

Puzzle Magazine Crossword House Vol. 6 (500pts - Nintendo) -- Nintendo keeps the Japanese crosswords coming!

Koku Yaburete San Kawaari (800pts - Square-Enix) -- A fantasy strategy game that can be played solo or networked locally with up to four players for competitive fun (well, that's what Square says anyway).