Five games that belong on Virtual Console

With the recent announcement of WiiWare, it seems Nintendo is really beginning to focus on the market for downloadable content. The Virtual Console has been going strong since its inception into the videogame market, so what better way to commemorate milestones such as “100 Games Released” and “4.7 Million Games Downloaded” than by pointing out what is missing from the download service. Here are but five classic videogames that have no business being left off the growing list of available titles:

5) Super Mario Bros. 3 (NES) 

A question that lingers in my mind is, “Why is the biggest game of all time NOT on the Virtual Console?” Besides its position as the best-selling videogame in history, Super Mario Bros 3 is easily the best in the NES series, and according to some, the best of all Mario games. It was the first to use a map screen, where the brothers could travel from level to level, and featured a world that dwarfed anything found in prior games. SMB3 also introduced a huge pile of power-ups, granting abilities ranging from flight to hammer-throwing to level-skipping, as well as a handful of minigames to break up the platforming action. Of course the game had a two-player mode, and many-an-hour could be spent conquering level after level with a friend.

Why Nintendo has failed to release Super Mario Bros 3 on the Virtual Console up to this point is beyond me, and it would have been a much better choice than the original Super Mario Bros. A release of this game is inevitable, though, which is the main reason why it is placed so low on this list.

4) Samurai Showdown (NeoGeo)

Back when Street Fighter II was king, and Mortal Kombat was delivering buckets of blood, SNK released a fighting game unlike any that preceded it. Samurai Showdown introduced players to late 18th century Japan, and a 2D fighting game where all the combatants wielded weapons of various shape and size. The game was fast-paced and violent, featuring (in arcade mode, at least) plenty of blood and a slew of fatal attacks to finish off opponents.

Samurai Showdown was very much a Japanese game; characters spoke the language, exclusively, and the score attempted authentic recreation of the traditional 18th century sounds of the nation. U.S. console versions of the game have always been toned down from the original, so a re-release could serve to present the game once again as it was intended, and also deliver an incredible experience in a genre that is sorely lacking on the Virtual Console.

3) Earthbound (SNES)

Earthbound is one of the most unique and clever RPG series’ to ever grace a home console. It was in no way formulaic, and never failed to be original. While most other RPGs took place in nearly the same medieval/fantasy setting, Earthbound cast players in the role of a regular kid, Ness, and his three friends. Rather than swords and shields, the kids’ weapons were baseball bats, yo-yos, frying pans, and dart guns. Although it may seem like Earthbound leans toward the often-ridiculed “kiddy” side of Nintendo, this is just not the case. The humor and wit of the game’s writing is very much appealing to older gamers, and the length of the quest is certainly worthy of an RPG-er’s stamp of approval.

Unfortunately, the three-game series has only seen ONE U.S. release, so western fans have been deprived enough. Earthbound has an incredible following here in the west, and when Earthbound’s sequel was released for the GBA exclusively in Japan, it was a major disappointment. A re-release of the Super Nintendo entry could at least slightly ease that pain.

2) River City Ransom (NES) 

Anyone who has played this 2D beat-em-up from 1989 knows that River City Ransom is the thing that dreams are made of. This game sees a pair of rebel high schoolers dishing out the punishment to gangs such as the Frat Boys, Cowboys, and Jocks on their way to rescue Ryan’s girlfriend from the evil Slick. Throughout the journey from Cross Town High to River City High, Alex and Ryan increase their abilities by eating all manner of foodstuff at various eateries, and learn special skills by reading books. The game features more than a dozen boss fights and 8 different weapons to pound enemies with. It’s a great feeling to pummel a screenful of foes, and then take all their money just to complete the abasement.

What’s even better is that this game is a cooperative endeavor, allowing a pair of gamers to work together to rid the city of gangs. The game is designed in such a way that players can pull of various tandem moves, and the way things play out make a two-player romp almost absurdly fun.

1) Goldeneye 007 (N64)

Goldeneye 007 is the first person shooter that changed the way first person shooters were played. First of all, it was probably the first great console FPS, coming out for the N64 in August of 1997. Secondly, it may be the best movie-to-game adaptation of all time. It also included a wealth of features that put the game in the top of its class. The story was organized into objective-based missions, so that rather than running and shooting everything in sight, players had to think reasonably in order to be successful. Planting data miners and taking pictures of secret prototypes were just as important as killing guards. Goldeneye was one of the earlier games to incorporate detailed hit detection, too, allowing for limb and head shots that elicited accurate responses from the AI enemies.

The real reason Goldeneye should be released on the Virtual Console, however, is its multiplayer mode. When this game was released, gamers simply couldn’t get enough of gathering a few friends for an intense deathmatch session in split-screen mode. Taunting your friends as they fell victim to grenade after remote mine after golden bullet was priceless, and the game offered so many options, the fun could go on for hours. The variety of weapons, game modes, and places to do battle was staggering for the time.

Bringing back a classic like Goldeneye 007 would be the absolute best thing that could happen to the Virtual Console.


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Author: Eddie Inzauto View all posts by
Eddie has been writing about games on the interwebz for over ten years. You can find him Editor-in-Chiefing around these parts, or talking nonsense on Twitter @eddieinzauto.

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