How many times have you been browsing in a GameStop or GameCrazy, and suddenly a game catches your eye? A game that you've never heard of, never seen before, but for some reason it caught your curiosity? One time in particular that I can remember it happening to me is with Robot Alchemic Drive for the PS2 (better known as R.A.D.). I'd never heard of it, but for some reason after seeing it I couldn't get it out of my head. So I bought it, and never once regretted it. With the advent of the Virtual Console, Nintendo has made it possible to have this kind of experience right from your own living room. The Virtual Console is perfect for discovering amazing games that you may never have known existed. So today I'm going to talk about a few games I've discovered via the Virtual Console that you may never have played, or even heard of, but are worthy of your attention. So read on for three Virtual Console games that made me wonder why I didn't discover them sooner.
Devil's Crush – Turbografx-16
It's hard not to like pinball. There's just something addictive about it. Trying to hit the right targets and get multipliers in an attempt to get a high score. How could pinball be made any more addictive? How about by adding demons, druids, giant lizard knights, and a creepy snake-lady? That sums up Devil's Crush perfectly. Pinball with a twist: enemies. Not only do you have to hit targets and the like to get points, but you also have to destroy enemies that are littered throughout the table. And the bonus stages are even better, throwing huge enemies at you, like the aforementioned giant lizard knights and five headed dragons. There's really an art to being successful at Devil's Crush. It's one of the few pinball games I've come across where skill plays more of a factor than luck. If you're looking for a truly addictive Virtual Console game, look no further than Devil's Crush.
Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master – Sega Genesis
Okay, it's not entirely accurate to say that I discovered this game through the Virtual Console. The first time I played it was on the Sega Smash Pack compilation for the Dreamcast. But I didn't truly appreciate the game until I purchased it on the VC. Ninja games were seemingly a dime a dozen in the 8 and 16-bit eras, and as far as I'm concerned Shinobi III is the cream of the crop. Great graphics, great music, wonderful controls, Shinobi III has it all. It also has some of the most creative levels I've ever seen. From riding a rocket powered surfboard while fighting flying mecha to jumping up a canyon via falling rocks, the stages in Shinobi III are often awe-inspiring. Sometimes for their uniqueness, sometimes for their difficulty. Make no mistake, this game is quite challenging. Perhaps not as much as it's predecessor, The Revenge of Shinobi, but still quite difficult. Add to this that it's perfect for speedrunners and players who like to impose limits on themselves ("No Shuriken" and "No Jutsu" runs are popular among Shinobi III players), and you've got a game with a ton of replay value.
Gate of Thunder – Turbografx CD
Since it's inception, the Virtual Console has been home to an ever increasing number of shmups, most of them from the Turbografx-16. But one of these games stands out from the rest. And that game is Gate of Thunder (or as I sometimes refer to it, Gate of AWESOME). Aside from it's great graphics and absolutely amazing soundtrack (which is sadly drowned out most of the time by the game's sound effects), the thing I like most about Gate of Thunder is that it's probably the most balanced shmup I've ever played. It's hard, but extremely fair. It never gets "throw the controller against the wall" frustrating. It's the kind of game that you'll get a little further in each and every time you play. The game also gives you ample continues, but if you're a really hardcore shmup player like myself, you won't use them even once. I personally like to start the game over from the beginning after losing all my lives. Makes for good practice. Anyway, any shmup fan NEEDS Gate of Thunder. Just be warned that it's a fairly big download. Bigger than most N64 games, even (only Sin & Punishment and Ocarina of Time are bigger).
As you can see, the Virtual Console is great for discovering games that you've never played before, and those are the three that I've found and gotten the most enjoyment out of. But what I really want to know is, what about you? Have any of you Siliconera readers discovered a game on the Virtual Console that you'd never heard of or played before that ended up becoming one of your favorite games? If so, let me know in the comments section. I'd love to hear from you guys!