Retro: VC Weekly #167

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

Something of a mixed bag in this edition as we have two completely different titles that while probably not at the top of anyone's wish-list are still interesting curiosities in their own right adding a little diversification to the new but already fast-growing 3DS VC library. Anyway enough from me and on with the games!

Available for download this week we have...

  • Double Dragon
  • Radar Mission

Price: GB �2.70, EU �3
Publisher: Tradewest
Developer: Technos Japan Corp
Released: 1990
System: GameBoy

Starting off as many scrolling beat-em-up's tend to � with a kidnapping � you'd be forgiven for thinking this was a mere port of the NES game as you take to the streets, assuming the role of Billy Lee who's on a mission to get his beloved Marion back from the thugs who took her. It soon becomes apparent that this is a different game however despite sharing the same basic game mechanics, similar areas and familiar enemies; it's very nice to see this kind of game for a portable system as it carries with it a certain charm which is undeniable even today.

Controls are relatively simple as the D-pad moves your character while 'A' punches, 'B' kicks and pressing both buttons together results in a jump-kick which is not only used for dispatching enemies rather quickly but also becomes a core component of the game as you'll need to use it many times to cross treacherous gaps which can be an annoyance if you happen to mess things up but once you get the hang of this essential move you'll surely reap the rewards that come from using it.

For a portable offering Double Dragon does indeed feature a decent amount of detail which is brought to life surprisingly well given that it's all in black and white, some of the levels look excellent in particular the Forest area which is a personal highlight. On the audio side of things there aren't any real surprises as the soundtrack plays largely to expectation; while some of it suits the mood perfectly at other times it can sound annoying, thankfully the sound effects while simple are suitably satisfying which helps matters somewhat being as it's the cracks and crunches that you'll be hearing most frequently.

It may be short being that it only really features four levels but that doesn't mean that it's easy as you will no doubt find out particularly when reaching the halfway point where the difficulty ramps up significantly as enemies are tougher, bosses become challenging and crossing gaps can be a patience-trying experience. Though slightly unbalanced it's hard not to enjoy the simple pleasure that's derived from playing this ageing side-scrolling scrapper as it's still fun despite the few shortcomings it has.

Quite honestly if you enjoy games of this genre then Double Dragon will certainly satisfy an urge that you may have but it really doesn't last that long so I would only really recommend this providing the length doesn't bother you too much. As for everyone else, you might want to wait as there will inevitably be better entries within this genre being added to the 3DS VC at some point and while this is by no means a bad example it's certainly not the best.

Verdict : Short yet sweet side-scrolling scrapper.

Price: GB �2.70, EU �3
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Nintendo
Released: 1990
System: GameBoy

It's almost amusing when things seem to come full-circle which is especially true in this instance as it's no coincidence that one of Nintendo's newest 3DS titles Steel Diver bares more than a few similarities to the often overlooked Radar Mission which ironically was one of the first original GameBoy titles. Playing like a game of Battleships with bells on this title brings you ship and submarine sinking action in a slow, strategic manner which can prove to be somewhat satisfying if a little unspectacular at times; though if you enjoyed the recent spiritual sequel then this is sure to be suited to your tastes.

You get two game modes for your money with 'Game A' being the classic board game of Battleships faithfully converted in digital form, anyone who has played the game should know what to expect as you're asked to arrange your fleet of ships in a strategic manner whilst your opponent does the same; you then take it in turns at firing torpedoes a selected spots on the grid in an attempt to take out the enemy ships one by one.

In the case of 'Game B' it may feel familiar for anyone who played Steel Diver because this plays almost exactly like the Periscope Attack mode, mainly because this is where the game gets its inspiration from. It's a case of kill or be killed as you take a first person view , rising and sinking accordingly to avoid enemy torpedoes while attempting to take out the enemy, this is where Steel Diver excelled somewhat as you could use the gyroscope to control most of the action but here you are limited to the D-pad which can feel rather frustrating to get a grip of especially on the harder difficulties; granted the mode is still playable and fun but it is indeed a sign of the times when you compare the two.

While the visuals aren't amazing they are suitably detailed enough managing to add a bit of depth to the proceedings but they're mostly functional, there isn't a huge deal to say about the audio either apart from what's there is perfectly acceptable; losing your progress when it's Game Over in either mode must have been an annoyance in the original so it's good to see that this is one title that truly benefits from the VC restore point save feature. Sadly there is no way to play two-player which is a shame especially in this instance as it would have added a fair amount of longevity to something that otherwise won't last you that long in single player unless you really enjoy it; this will probably become something of a sticking point for any future GameBoy releases featuring two-player as such modes will simply continue to be present but unavailable and unless this is fixable via an update then expect a lot of this disappointment in the future.

Technical shortcomings aside Radar Mission is an interesting curiosity from the past which gives an excellent insight into how Steel Diver came to be and just for that it's clear why Nintendo wanted to make it available to all who own the console. It really isn't for everyone though as only those who are actually interested in the title or who actually have memories of it will be likely to purchase but it's still a welcome addition regardless.

Verdict : A simply satisfying yet somewhat sedate ship and submarine sinking sim.

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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