Shoot 'em up action in Ironclad

It seemed quite likely that Nintendo of Europe would be starting the fifth Hanabi Festival with some Castlevania goodness, but as it turns out, this is not the case! At least there's two different import games instead, one of which is another highly recommended title. WiiWare gets the short end of the stick for once with just one new game, while DSiWare gets five.

The biggest of the first two Hanabi Festival releases this year is Ironclad, a shoot 'em up on the Neo Geo. A fairly standard horizontal shoot 'em up in terms of gameplay, its biggest drawing point is that it looks really nice - Everything is rendered in mock 3D and looks absolutely great. Of course, the gameplay itself being good as well only helps the cause. There's several different level exits which lead into different stages, also meaning there's quite a bunch of replay value. You can read what Sean thought of the game here. The first Neo Geo import, and also the first new Neo Geo game on VC in over a year, it costs 1000 Wii Points.

Today's other import pick is a lot less interesting. Lode Runner is the first instalment in the moderately well-known puzzle series, and sees you running around and digging up blocks to collect all the gold strewn about every stage. The blocks fill back in after a while though, so know what you're doing or you could get trapped! There's practically no reason to get this - Battle Lode Runner, which has been out for years, is superior in practically every single way, despite costing the same - 600 Wii Points. Read our thoughts and make up your mind on which game is better, it shouldn't be too hard!

Although WiiWare only gets a single new game this week, it's not a low-key one. Military Madness: Nectaris is intended to be a revival of Hudson's classic hexagon-based strategy series, and seems to be just like the first game, but with improved graphics and audio. We'll review it soon, but if you're a strategy nut, then picking this one up should be pretty safe. It costs 1000 Wii Points.

Although DSiWare gets five new games, most really won't be interesting to many people. The only exception is Pop Island, a graphically pleasing 3D multiplayer game in which you play as cube-shaped animals, battling it out over each other's flags, which you're trying to capture and take back to your base. Although obviously most fun with friends, the game's still fairly pleasing on your own, and for 500 DSi Points, not too expensive, either. You can read our review here.

We still don't really know much about Elemental Masters. It claims to be a combination of a strategy and RPG game, but judging by the screenshots and video, it simply seems like an intricate card game. Luckily, it's been out in North America since last Monday, so we should have a review soon. It costs 800 DSi Points, if you're feeling brave.

Likewise, we're also a bit in the dark about 4 Travellers: Play Spanish. From what we gather, it's nothing more than a fairly limited means of learning some Spanish ("More than 240 words" doesn't exactly say much, anyway), but it could be handy for those who are completely unfamiliar with the language and would like a simple basis. Like Elemental Masters, it was released in North America last Monday, so a review should be arriving soon. It also costs 800 DSi Points.

Finally, there's two more games we know everybody has been absolutely dying for. Simply Mahjong and Simply Sudoku are, as their titles imply, quite simply two more games based on the two popular puzzle games. There's not really many mahjong titles, but did we really need yet another DSiWare sudoku game? Both only cost 200 DSi Points, at least! We'll review them soon.

No Castlevania just yet! Will you be partaking in any of this week's delights?