After the fairly good response I got to my last "Diamonds in the Rough" article, I figured hey, why not do another? After all, the Virtual Console is full of "hidden gems" just begging to be discovered. Oh, we've all bought at least one Mario game on the Virtual Console (I myself have five), and I'm sure most Wii owners have gotten at least one of the four Zelda games currently available on the VC, but what about all those other games that get overlooked in favor of games like Mario and Sonic? There's still plenty of stuff on the Virtual Console that a lot of Wii owners haven't even given a thought. So, how about three more hidden gems that are just waiting for you to discover them? Read on!
Alien Soldier – Sega Genesis
Do you like difficult games? Have you beaten Ghouls 'n Ghosts, and need a challenge? Did Contra III seem like a cakewalk to you? Well then, Alien Soldier is for you. Developed by Treasure, famed for games like Ikaruga and Gunstar Heroes, Alien Soldier is basically one long boss rush. Sure, there's levels in between the bosses, but they're short and sweet. The main attraction of the game are the huge, difficult boss battles. Giant kickboxing mutant beetles, zombie dragons with propellers, and jeet-kune-do using werewolves are just some of the insane bosses you'll come across in Alien Soldier. The action is fast and furious, just as you'd expect from Treasure, and it doesn't let up until you've cleared all 25 levels. Aside from an appearance on the Sega Channel, Alien Soldier has never appeared in the US before now, so if you're looking for a new experience, Alien Soldier comes highly recommended.
Baseball Stars 2 – Neo-Geo
Now, I know, I know, sports games aren't the favorite genre of many gamers. But even if you're one who absolutely hates sports games, you still owe it to yourself to check out Baseball Stars 2. It's hard to pinpoint just what makes this game so awesome, but it just is. It plays a lot like an arcade version of Ken Griffey Jr. Baseball for the SNES. One of the coolest parts of the game is the large, very animated character sprites. Players spit, break bats over their knees, and rush the mound after being hit by a pitch. Baseball Stars 2 is pure baseball, plain and simple. No trading players, managing rosters, or anything like. Just hit, pitch, and field. This is probably the best arcade sports game I've ever played, and I highly recommend it. Just try to ignore the odd music…
Landstalker – Sega Genesis
If you've played through your fair share of Zelda games, and are looking for something new, think about giving Landstalker a look. It does a few things differently from the Zelda series, but any fan of Zelda should get a fair amount of enjoyment out of Landstalker. An isometric action-RPG by the same developers responsible for Shining Force (and later, Alundra), Landstalker puts you in the shoes of Nigel, a wood elf out seeking treasure. That's right, you're not trying to save any princesses this time around, nor is the world at stake. You're just out for riches. It's kind of refreshing, in a way. As I said before, the game is isometric, so controlling Nigel may be a bit confusing at first. The Classic Controller's analog stick makes movement much easier, however, so if you have a Classic Controller handy I definitely recommend using it for Landstalker. You'll be playing this one for quite some time, as well, as it's a fairly sizable adventure. You'll traverse caves, forests, and dungeons in search of the treasure of King Nole. Definitely a game for anyone looking for something more substantial than your average VC game.
I'm sure that a lot of you have spare Wii Points to spend after the holidays, so why not check out one of these gems? Also, I'm sure a lot of you have picked up some Virtual Console gems yourselves. Has anyone out there picked up a game they'd never played before, and ended up enjoying it? If so, let us know in the comments section!