Retro: VC Weekly #151

Welcome to VC Weekly, N-Europe's guide to the wonderful world of Nintendo's download service. Written by Sam C Gittins.

Another couple of games? On the VC? For another week running? You'd think it was getting close to some period of celebration or something. Anyway enough from me and on with the games!

Available for download this week we have...

  • Wolf of the Battlefield : Commando
  • SonSon

Points: 800
Publisher: Capcom
Developer: Capcom
Released: 1985
System: Arcade

While there are plenty of decent arcade games that originating from the Eighties that are still fun to play today such as Donkey Kong and Pac-Man there are those that quite simply aren't fun at all or that just fall short of being enjoyable, especially by today's standards. This is definitely a latter case as even though Commando may have been able to command some coins in the arcade back in the day but two and a half decades on and it's a wonder that it even costs 800 Nintendo points.

Taking control of 'Super Joe' you're thrust into the battlefield as you make your way through several vertically scrolling areas while gunning down enemy troops, rescuing prisoners of war and of course looting gold bullion whenever you came across it like the 'honest' soldier that you are. You can move and shoot in eight directions and if you get bored - which you invariably will - then you can lob a grenade into the mix which... doesn't actually do that much surprisingly other than add the slightest bit of variety.

And that is what this title is sorely lacking in, if variety is the spice of life then Commando is lacking any sort of seasoning at all; that's not to say that it's one of the worst games ever but its clearly seen better days. Many run 'n gun shooters would at least have some decent boss encounters but at the end of each stage all you get is a stationary screen and wave upon wave of yet more enemies to dispatch with.

It doesn't help matters that the game actually controls rather clumsily plus the amount of times 'Super Joe' ends up getting caught up in stray bits of scenery it seems to become a pass-time for him rather than a sporadic occurrence. A decent amount of detail has been afforded however so at least you can always see what you're shooting at while the audio is suitably complementary to the gameplay though unfortunately not much to write home about aside from that.

Basically unless you really have to buy this for the sake of nostalgia you'd be better off downloading Mercs - the superior sequel - that's already available on the VC, costs the same amount of points and is infinitely better due to being more playable and actually managing to maintain a decent level of charm; which is something that Commando so sorely lacks.

Verdict : A coin-up that's lost what little charm it once may have had.

Points: 800
Publisher: Capcom
Developer: Capcom
Released: 1984
System: Arcade

Out of all the possible arcade titles Capcom could have chosen to release on the Virtual Console it seems odd that they settled on Sonson as while it may not be a terrible title it certainly doesn't strike me as being one of their better, more fondly remembered games that fans wanted to see again. Nonetheless it's not without its charms but is that enough to save it from seeming like a good idea at its time of release but nothing more?

In the game you take control of a monkey as you navigate sets of scrolling screens choosing to either attack or evade enemies by moving left and right or ascending/descending the ledges as you see fit. Fireballs are at your disposal which you can fling towards your enemies plus there are power-ups which can transform all on-screen enemies into vegetables.

Actual proper platforming parts are near non-existent as granted you will have the odd gap to cross but other than that there's nothing much doing. Simple though the game is, you can make it even easier by just sticking to the one platform and occasionally moving up one to grab the odd power-up which means it's not really all that challenging; the boss battles add the only real bit of variation to the game and are most welcome if a little short-lived.

From a visual standpoint the game at least tries and has a reasonable amount of detail though there's a distinct lack of variety throughout plus the music and sound effects whole perfectly cheery enough will most likely grate on you after a few plays. But if you're the type of gamer that can overlook most of these aspects then you can always come back to better your score, though that's about it.

So if you desperately want to play a new and semi-original pseudo-platform title then by all means please go ahead and download but just don't expect it to last very long and prepare for a possible bout of disappointment. While I won't deny that it is indeed a fun game in the short-term there are better games available for the same amount of points so have a good think before clicking that download link.

Verdict : Satisfying in the short-term yet disappointing for the duration.

That's it for another installment of VC Weekly which will return again soon. So until then, enjoy the rest of the week and Game On!

Sam Gittins
[email protected]

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