VC Weekly 293

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

Fans of fighting or flinging foes should be well catered for in this edition. Anyway enough from me and on with the games!
Available for download this week we have...     

Klonoa: Empire of Dreams
Double Dragon II

Price: GB £6.29, EU €6.99
Publisher: Bandai-Namco
Developer: Namco
Released: 2002
System: GBA

The original Klonoa may have originally started life on the Playstation many years ago when 3D gaming was only just properly emerging, yet it chose the - rather fixed - path of 2.5D instead which turned out not to be a bad thing at all as it went on to be rather successful at the time and even twice over when Klonoa: Door to Phantomile was granted a re-release on the Wii in 2009, a version that is now highly sought after almost the same amount as the GBA game so I suppose it's little wonder that Namco have finally decide to release it on the Wii U VC as it's sure to sell. It seems to be justified though as Klonoa: Empire of Dreams is certainly a fantastical journey which begins as Klonoa the 'dream traveler' who finds himself in the Kingdom of Jillius which is ruled by an insomniac emperor who has put a ban on dreaming; Klonoa instantly breaks this law so therefore he must be punished by being given the task of exterminating various monsters and so your platforming adventure begins.

Gameplay revolves around something called a 'wind bullet' contained in a ring which essentially means you are able to pick up, blow up then throw your inflated enemies 'Dig Dug' style, you can even chuck them to the ground while airborne in order to propel yourself upward which serves as a handy double-jump move. During the 'visions' - a fancy name for stages - you'll be presented with simple puzzles threatening your progress as you attempt to obtain the three stars which are required in order to move forward; there are also thirty gems to nab if you can figure out how to reach them all, these are purely optional though. This isn't a game that you'll be getting stuck on, it's very easy but it's more of an experience that you'll hopefully enjoy.

Containing fourty stages spaced out over five different worlds you do get a reasonable amount of adventure for your money, there are a good few faster-paced 'hover-board' stages to keep the action flowing along nicely too seemongly just because when is it not cool to be speeding along on a levitating plastic plank? There are one hundred gems to get in those stages so you'll really need to think fast if you wish to nab them all but at least with the addition of restor points this is something which adds to the replay value, without being too frustrating. It just seems to be one of those games which you can either choose to blast through in a couple of days or take your time and just dip in when you feel like it.


Some truely lovely visuals are featured throughout the game, really showing what was possible on GBA hardware even in the relatively early days, bringing together all kinds of graphical trickery including rotational effects coupled with scaling to add the illusion of depth with a healthy dose of parallax scrolling thrown in for good measure; it's certainly one pretty title indeed which has some beautiful animation. Everything sounds spectacular too with a score that is certainly suited to every moment in your adventure from start to finish, some decent voice samples are present too adding a little more weight to the audio department, though beware as if you don't like your characters to let out a 'wahoo!' when they jump then this game might not be for you, it's not a deal-breaker for me but I just thought it worth mentioning.

While it would seem that Klonoa: Empiore of Dreams is indeed a nice platformer I would say that it's by no means essential but it is enjoyable, it's the perfect starting point if you've ever wanted to get into the series plus if you're already a fan then you won't even need to be reading this review as you will have downloaded, played and completed it five times over by now. There are a few games within the same genre available on the Wii U Virtual Console now and while I wouldn't say that this is the best example, I would say that it's at least one of the most original.   

Verdict : Klonoa dreams up another enjoyable escapade.  


Price: GB £4.49, EU €4.99
Publisher: Aksys Games
Developer: Technos Japan Corp
Released: 1990
System: NES
The original Double Dragon has always been highly regarded for its unique brand of beat 'em up action coupled with stunning sound and vibrant visuals that secured its now classic status, so it would seem only fitting that a sequel would surely be just as successful or even better. Certainly this title seems to be every bit as good as the original in most respects even if true fans of the series would have you believing otherwise, this is a sequel which beings new elements to the table while retaining most of what made the original so great which is definitely something worthy of praise.

While there was nothing wrong with the original control scheme things have been optimised to make short-ranged combat more accessible meaning you'll be cracking heads with ease as you simply use the two main action buttons to attack in the direction that they are more biased towards on the controller while performing a special or a jump is a simple case of pressing both buttons simultaneously which will result in either action depending on the sensitivity of the context. It might sound unnecessarily overcomplicated on paper but when you're playing it feels completely natural, really helping the overall flow of the game making it instantly more playable.

Another marked improvement is the addition of two player competitively cooperative multiplayer which allows you to team up playing as either of the Lee brothers as you choose to either help or hinder your teammate as your fight your way through the brilliantly simple yet spectacular side-scrolling stages that this title still has to offer. It's still fun to play solo of course but playing alongside a friend or foe elevates this from being a fun fighter to a chaotic brawler that has all the hallmarks of a classic co-op experience.


Improvements are also noticable in the overall visual quality as everything has a new-found clarity to it from the chracter and enemy sprite animation right through to the bold colour palette that perfectly outlines everything while at the same time creating that all-important seperation of the sprites from the foreground so that you always know where you are while still feeling very much part of the action rather than trying to spot your character as they blend in with the scenery which can be a common problem with this genre of game. Music is also of a particularly high standard as you may have come to expect from the series with each stage featuring some truly terrific compositions coupled with several short, sharp and satisfying samples that make up the sound effects which you'll never tire of hearing no matter how many times you floor an enemy.

Sequels don't get much better than this as taking everything that made the original so addictive then improving on almost every element, making everything more accessible and above all fun to play is surely the way to do things properly; of course naturally this all comes at a price as the game is ever so slightly easier but really when the experience is this enjoyable it really is a small trade-off indeed. No matter if you're a fan of the series or one of the few unconverted people who have perhaps never played a Double Dragon game before there truly is no better place to start than right here.    

Verdict : Double Dragon II delivers a dose of fun to the genre it helped create.

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!

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