VC Weekly 295
Posted 16 Jun 2014 at 11:28 by Sam C Gittins
Welcome to VC Weekly, N-Europe’s guide to the wonderful world of Nintendo’s download service. Written by Sam C Gittins
Any fans of platforming titles or Dodgeball? If so then these games should be well suited, if not then there will be another batch on the way soon. Anyway enough from me and on with the games!
Available for download this week we have...
Wario Land 4
Super Dodge Ball
Price: GB £6.29, EU €6.99
Developer: Nintendo R&D1
System: GameBoy Advance
Undeniably brilliant Mario games may be but sometimes you can't help but crave a platform game that's a bit more villainous so why not indulge in your evil side with Wario Land 4 which is the last numbered entry in the hugely popular Wario Land series which originally spun-off from the fantastic Super Mario Land games. In this entry Wario discovers an ancient pyramid nestled deep within a jungle which supposedly contains vast amounts of treasure so obviously he journeys into the structure to grab all the loot but misfortune befalls him as he falls into a trap ending up right at the bottom; he manages to get to the entrance but it's sealed and so from this hub of sorts you take control as you choose from four passages which lead to different levels which can be tackled in any order you choose but whichever way you play your goal is the same to triumph over the pyramid and escape with the treasure.
When you start playing your first level you'll certainly notice that progression isn't quite so linear which makes things all the more interesting, thankfully in addition to obligatory movements you can crash through blocks and even charge at whatever happens to be in your way plus you also have the ability to butt-stomp enemies which can prove most satisfying especially as it's sometimes required for those times when you need to knock out an enemy so you can carry them. The interesting transformation mechanic is used to good effect as instead of your character 'gaining' power like in Kirby here it feels like a curse that's inflicted upon Wario which he uses to his advantage; these instances include getting set on fire which has you running wildly before bursting into flames which can be useful for burning down anything that might be impeding your progress plus being stung by a wasp which will cause our anti-hero's head to balloon enabling him to float upward.
You aren't timed within the stages but your main goal is to find the 'Keyzer' which are required items for unlocking the next area, they will follow you when found until you activate the Frog Timer at which point a countdown will be initiated as you leg it back to the entry point in an almost Metroid-like moment. Every stage is like a playground with a theme for instance the Topaz passage is themed around games getting you to play pinball at one point amongst other things but the best aspect is how each of these stages changes after your initial escape because new areas become available meaning you will be able to risk your life for more treasure while trying not to forget about actually escaping in time; it's a truly great risk-reward mechanic which works well but ultimately your task in each area is to play its four variants so you can complete the jewel which unlocks the door to mini-games which allow you to earn tokens to spend on strange items to cheapen the boss battle... usually this would be frowned upon in other games but here it's completely warranted due to the hilarity of it all though in seriousness if you decide to take on the bosses with no items then you're sure to be challenged and amused especially by the quite surreal 'Cuckoo Clock' encounter.
Striking visuals further enforce the rather bizarre theme which is radiated throughout yet they are also sufficiently detailed offering a significant step-up for the series especially when you compare them to Wario Land 3 on the GBC which was also one of the best looking platform titles of its time; animation while wacky is also suitably impressive as it's clear to see that a lot of love has gone into creating this. Aurally there is everything that you've come to expect from the series over the years featuring many brilliant tracks that are perfectly suited to all the craziness constantly going on and is of course complemented by some particularly wacky sound samples.
There is very little not to love about Wario Land 4 yet despite this I'm sure there's a good percentage of people who haven't played this title yet which included myself until the fantastic Ambassador promotion on the 3DS but if you missed out on it and have a Wii U then please don't delay any longer for to do so is to deprive yourself as one of the finest platform games ever to grace a portable Nintendo console, now you can enjoy it whichever way you like be it on a big or small screen with save states included. Everyone has the urge to play something intentionally evil because as Wario might say 'it's good to be bad' so give in to the rotund, moustachioed purple and yellow fellow, just this once.
Verdict : Wario surprises in wonderfully wicked ways once again.
Price: GB £3.59, EU €3.99
Publisher: Aksys Games
Developer: Technos Japan Corp
If you've ever enjoyed River City Ransom then you'll probably be pleased to know that the characters from that title also feature in Super Dodge Ball being that they are both from the Kunio series of games which are infamous for overdoing things, they have a distinctive style which almost makes the characters look like toys which fits in well with the feel of the game anyway. Definitely brining home the brutality of Dodgeball as a sport in this title you actually have the ability to not just throw the ball but pummel it as hard into your opponents head as is inhumanly possible, this is very much the main selling point as other examples of this genre are seen as being quite tame by comparison.
Lots of fun with minimum fuss should be the slogan here as essentially that's what it is, you have a two teams of six against each other with the main objective being to eradicate the opposition via hitting them with the ball, how hard can that be? Well it transpires that just like in other Kunio titles each character has their own stats to consider as they can make all the difference on the court as variables including Agility, Ball Break, Energy, Power plus technique will all have an effect on the proceedings so it's important to choose wisely at the start.
Controls are pretty simple which certainly helps that all important element of accessibility but that's not to say that your moves are limited as you have quite the array at your disposal in addition to the standard throws/passes you get two power shots per character which involve running/jumping while using your 'shoot' button, they are all different as well in addition to being comically overdone because who wouldn't want to knock their opponent literally one lap around the world? There's a solid selection of modes to choose from too so you get your standard Tournament along with two-player Versus but perhaps the most bizarre is the 'Bean Ball' mode where you simply have a 'team' of six characters, one ball and you just have to hit/dodge as if your virtual life depends on it - which it does - this can definitely be a lot of fun while being a welcome break from the standard game.
The visuals are rather striking for a NES title as there is a lot of detail crammed onto the screen at any one time, for a sports title this certainly seems to push the system to its limits which is so refreshing to see when you compare it to say a lot of Nintendo's own efforts only which mostly seemed to look 'functional' at best, the characters actually have... well, 'character' as well thanks to the beautifaully overdone Kunio style which works very well indeed. Audio is well executed featuring some wonderful 'pumped-up' 8-bit chip tunes which really accentuate the high-octane nature of the sport in addition to featuring some decent sound effects too which are the sprnkles on top of a rather crazily iced cake.
Super Dodge Ball is most certainly a decent alternative sports title for those who simply like games within the genre which don't take themselves too seriously, have a little bit of strategy but most of all are just fun to pick up, play and have an absolute blast. It won't be the best sports game that you've ever played but it will provide you with a decent few hours of enjoyment especially if you play it in two-player mode along with a fair few laughs in the process, what more could you want from such a title?
Verdict : Hits the ball out of the court and all the way around the world in terms of fun.
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!