Saturday Summaries 2019-02-02: Wii Wiil Meet Again Edition

So yeah, you've probably all heard about the shuttering of Nintendo's Wii Shop, and with it any and all purchases you may have made on the digital storefront. Of course, it doesn't seem like it would be beyond the bounds of possibility to offer all those same games through the Switch eShop instead - it's not like that place has much of a sluice gate right now for new releases regardless - but there are no doubt endless licensing and logistical issues that would prevent such an act of magnanimity. Besides, from reports it doesn't sound like we'll need to wait much longer for the Nintendo Switch Online service to start offering more than its current handful of NES games, so maybe we'll be seeing some of the games lost with the demise of the first iteration of the Virtual Console make a return sooner rather than later.

For the sake of digital archiving, at least of the legal variety, I wanted to make a quick list of all the SNES games that have recently become unavailable to purchase due to the disappearance of the Wii's Virtual Console, that system being a major target of my own archiving works on the Giant Bomb Wiki. Obviously, the "unavailable" list for the entire SNES/SFC library would be a little more comprehensive (to the tune of something like a thousand-plus games), but these are specifically the ones that were available for your legal emulating pleasure and are now... not. (Suffice it to say that any SNES games still available on the Wii U or New 3DS Virtual Console, or on the SNES Classic, are exempt from this list.)

I've separated this into North American and European regions. I'm curious to see which side of the Atlantic suffered worse (we did, of course). If there's an X in the NA/EU column, that means the game was available but is no longer. A circle (O) means it's still available in that region for Wii U. A dash (-) means it was never available on Wii Virtual Console in that region, so no big loss.)

SNES-t We Forget

GameDeveloperPublisherNAEUHow Much of a Bummer Is Its Absence?
ActRaiserQuintetSquare EnixXXA giant bummer. ActRaiser's a firm favorite and one of the earliest SNES games to show off what the system could do. Developer Quintet vanished off the face of the Earth some twenty years ago, so who knows if the licensing will ever work out for another re-release. Hopefully the mercurial Square Enix has the rights to publish it.
Aero the Acro-BatAcclaim AustinSunSoftXXDepends on how much you want a comprehensive online source for so-so mascot platformers. Aero's better than most, but it's not exactly aged well. Hell, if Bubsy can crawl back out of the abyssal gorge he was mercifully consigned to, no reason a masked bat couldn't.
Aero the Acro-Bat 2Acclaim AustinSunSoftXXYeah, ditto. I think if the first ever gets released again elsewhere, the sequel will follow.
Chrono TriggerSquare EnixSquare EnixXXOn the one hand, the now-unavailability of the original SNES version of one of the greatest JRPGs ever created is a blow to purists, but there are other ways to play this game. I can recommend the DS port, though I can't vouch for the troubled Steam version even after all its patches/updates.
The CombatribesTechnos JapanTechnos JapanX-Hard to imagine anyone will miss this also-ran brawler from Technos Japan, the creators of better brawler franchises Double Dragon and Kunio-kun. The SNES version was inferior to the original arcade version anyway, so maybe hold out for that instead. Arc System Works owns Technos these days, so maybe they can pull a Capcom and release their own arcade brawler compilation.
Darius TwinTaitoTaitoX-Taito's more piscine shoot 'em up series is a tricky one to nail down, with only a handful of entries (Darius II, G-Darius, and Darius Gaiden) showing up on Taito compilations. It could be that Darius Twin, a weird spin-off of Darius II only released on SNES, is lost for good.
DoReMi Fantasy: Milon's DokiDoki AdventureHudsonHudsonXXHudson's more conventional follow-up to Milon's Secret Castle is a bummer to lose because, as a Super Famicom exclusive, it was never released in the west in any other form. It's a decent platformer too, not one that requires much Japanese understanding. Hudson itself has since folded, and their IPs have since gone to Konami which... well, is pretty much as good as gone.
Final Fantasy IVSquare EnixSquare EnixXXHonestly, see Chrono Trigger above. The lack of a legally available SNES version stings but the remakes are perfectly serviceable. Unlike Chrono Trigger, the version on Steam right now is worth checking out. If you prefer the original 2D pixel graphics, I think there are ways to play the PS1 port.
Final Fantasy Mystic QuestSquare EnixSquare EnixXXWell, I consider its absence a bummer. Not held in the highest regard, but Mystic Quest (which is really more of a SaGa game) was the first "Final Fantasy" for European audiences and a decent enough launching point for Final Fantasy or JRPGs in general for a younger crowd. Also that soundtrack! It didn't get enough love from Theatrhythm, and it breaks my heart that it has even less chance of being discovered now.
Ghoul PatrolLucasArtsLucasArtsXXNeither Ghoul Patrol nor its predecessor Zombies Ate My Neighbors survived the Wii Shop closing, which... I dunno, it was never a staple of my childhood, but I know it was for many others. ZATM was at least released on Genesis also, which was not the case for the SNES-exclusive Ghoul Patrol. With the death of LucasArts and the subsequent death of its IP owners Disney Interactive, it's anyone's guess who might bring this undead monster back from its grave.
Gradius IIIKonamiKonamiXXOne of the earliest SFC games, and a launch game for the North American SNES, was this port of Konami's third Gradius game. Some attempts have been made to preserve the arcade originals fortunately, notably with the Gradius Collection for PSP. Probably all we can hope for out of Konami.
The Ignition FactorJalecoJalecoOXThis firefighting game is a rare exception on this list because it is still available to North American Wii U owners if they missed the chance to buy it on the Wii. Conversely, Europeans are S.O.L., especially as this game never came out on the PAL SNES. But then we got The Firemen instead, and I think that was the better deal.
Indiana Jones' Greatest AdventuresLucasArts and Factor 5LucasArtsXXI feel like I heard very little about this game back in the day, which does to the Indiana Jones trilogy what Super Star Wars did a few years earlier for Lucas's original SW trilogy. It's decent enough if a bit difficult, but between the licensing nightmares involved, its so-so reception, and the death of LucasArts, I'm not sure it'll ever come back.
Kirby's AvalancheHAL Laboratory and CompileNintendoXXAlso known as Kirby's Ghost Trap in Europe. A little quizzing that a Kirby game has been lost in the ether, since Nintendo itself presumably holds the rights. It's not like Puyo Puyo has been forgotten either with the well-received Puyo Puyo Tetris out there. I can't imagine this will stay buried for long.
Ogre Battle: The March of the Black QueenQuestSquare EnixXXQuest Corp, once the home of visionary Yasumi Matsuno, is best known for their Ogre series - the RTS Ogre Battle and the TPS Tactics Ogre - and now that Square owns the rights to those games there's no barrier to stop them releasing them again. Black Queen, which like most Ogre games is named after a Queen song, is also available on PS1 if the SNES version proves elusive.
Prince of PersiaBroderbund and ArsysKonamiXXJapanese developers Arsys rebuilt Jordan Mechner's acrobatic action game from the ground up for its SNES port, making it a curio for Prince diehards in much the same way the unique Doom 64 was for that fanbase. The Prince of Persia franchise has gone from strength to strength over the years, so I think any normal person would be happy enough just playing The Sands of Time instead.
Rival Turf!JalecoJalecoOXAnother Jaleco game like The Ignition Factor, in which the European rights lapsed but Hamster was able to bring it back for a North American audience. Not that anyone's too torn up about losing Rival Turf!, which probably doesn't even break into the top ten brawlers for the SNES.
SimCityMaxisNintendo-XSome weird history about the Virtual Console presence of the SNES-specific remake of the venerable city-planning sim. In North America, the game's been delisted and unavailable since 2013. It was, however, still available in Europe until this closure of the Wii Shop. Yet to be rereleased since, it's a shame the version of SimCity with Bowser and Dr. Wright is currently gone but there's still lots of ways to play SimCity.
Space Invaders: The Original GameTaitoTaitoXXReleased in arcades to coincide with the original 1978 game's 15th anniversary, Space Invaders DX - inexplicably called "The Original Game" for its console ports - can no longer easily be bought for SNES, but is still available in the Taito Legends 2 compilation for PS2. Let's just say it wouldn't be too difficult to play Space Invaders today - I might recommend Space Invaders Extreme on Steam.
Super Adventure IslandHudsonHudsonXXA decent enough evolution of Hudson's side-scrolling action game, which originated as a cheeky copyright-evading port of Westone's Wonder Boy. Anyone waiting for a big Adventure Island compilation might be waiting forever: Hudson's gone and Konami, the current rights holder, is too busy relaxing in a health spa jacuzzi somewhere to give a figgins about Higgins.
Super Adventure Island 2HudsonHudsonXXSee above. Super Adventure Island 2 was the better of the two Adventure Island games for SNES, taking on a new spacewhipper model with branching paths. Funnily enough, the Adventure Island series would only see one more game - the WiiWare exclusive Adventure Island: The Beginning - which is now also unavailable with the Wii Shop's closure.
Super BonkHudsonHudsonXXHudson's other, other melon-headed mascot after Higgins and Bomberman was the toothy cavebaby Bonk. His fist SNES adventure is a decent outing for the prehistoric scamp, though like most Hudson products his future is murky. The second SNES game wasn't even localized into English, so it's even more doubtful we'll see that unearthed.
Super E.D.F.: Earth Defense ForceJalecoJalecoOX

Another Jaleco game that Hamster rescued from the dumpster of history, albeit only for North America. Not to be confused with the Jason-favorite giant space bug series; this EDF is strictly a spaceship shoot 'em up.

Super Star WarsLucasArts and Sculptured SoftwareLucasArtsXXOne of the bigger casualties of this Wii Shop shutdowns are the Super Star Wars trilogy, which are still appreciated for their visuals and audio, if not their balls-hard gameplay. It takes some liberties with the original material, let's say, but the tumult and eventual death of LucasArts in the 2010s made re-licensing these SNES games for Wii U/3DS a lesser priority.
Super Star Wars: The Empire Strikes BackLucasArts and Sculptured SoftwareLucasArtsXXSee above.
Super Star Wars: Return of the JediLucasArts and Sculptured SoftwareLucasArtsXXSee above.
Super TurricanFactor 5Factor 5XXThe Turrican games never made much of a splash outside of Europe, and most series stalwarts would swear by the Amiga/Atari ST originals regardless. The SNES port of Turrican, which was more of a remake than straight port, was still decent enough and may be missed by series fans. Frankly, I'm not sure how poor old Turrican was supposed to compete with Super Metroid.
Zombies Ate My NeighborsLucasArtsLucasArtsXXThis list could've just been the first and last entries, as those are the two which I imagine will be most missed by SNES mainstays. ZATM can also be played on Genesis, though it's never been rereleased on that platform either. We can always hope that Nintendo follows my outline for the SNES Classic II and rouses ZATM from its slumber with an unholy ritual for a new generation.

If y'all ever want me to do the grunt work to find out similar absentees for the NES, Genesis, TurboGrafx-16, or N64, let me know. As someone who's embarked on some occasionally soul-crushing archiving work for these games on our own Wiki, I'm invested in their continued availability and recognition.

Onto this week's games!

Strikey Sisters

Very charmed by this relatively simple but keenly polished example of the older "bat and ball" genre, which began with Atari's Breakout but is more commonly associated with Taito's Arkanoid, which added power-ups and enemies to the brick-smashing formula. A major evolution of Strikey Sisters is the striking itself, which has your avatar swing with an arc that not only reflects the ball in the direction the arc hits it, but can also be used to eliminate enemies and their projectiles. Some enemy attacks are relentless, to the point you need to keep a careful eye on your own avatar as much as you do the wandering ball, but the overall affect is that it adds more layers of strategy and, ultimately, opportunity as you defeat enemies for their useful passive power-ups and potent single-use spells.

As with most games of a twitch arcade nature, it's easier to understand the game's hooks and appeal with gameplay footage rather than text, so be sure to check out Jason playing the game on this UPF or the trailers on Steam to see it in action. Very frantic, but also very fair, which makes it far more palatable than other "B & B" games like Wizorb or Shatter that demand you complete something like ten stages in a row on a small stock of lives or be forced to start over.

Link: Indie Game of the Week 105: Strikey Sisters

No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle

No More Heroes 2 is the sequel to Suda51's more personal brawler franchise that sees super otaku and wrestling fan Travis Touchdown take up a beam saber he bought online and rise to the top of the United Assassins Association ranking list by eliminating all the professional killers above him for the sake of scoring with a hot girl, very much channelling the spirit of Beavis and Butt-Head. The spin in No More Heroes 2 is that Travis grew so disillusioned by the process, fighting both his childhood sweetheart and estranged twin brother, that he walked away from that world. Circumstances drag him back in however, and now his legend has only grown: the "Crownless King", as the new gaggle of assassins reverentially refer to him. Otherwise the sequel very much keeps in the same spirit of the original, balancing spectacular boss fights that follow "warm up" stages full of disposable goons with optional mini-games based on retro NES titles that serve to earn Travis money for upgrades or improve his stats in some way. The game certainly has its moments, especially with some of the more bizarre opponents you'll face, but there's also ample design and technical issues to dampen the fun - an errant camera, for instance, or the way certain late-game bosses constantly spam their least avoidable attacks. I was kind of meh on it overall, but then I've long grown apart from the character action genre. A more in-depth review can be read below.

Link: Bucketlog January: No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle

Assassin's Creed Origins

I gotta say, I'm feeling a little hoodwinked again. This happens every time I'm convinced to come back to the world of pure assassination (but not that one): a new Assassin's Creed entry gets some rave reviews because they made massive improvements to the engine or somehow reinvented itself, and then I play it and all the same annoyances that irked me about the previous games are still there and giving me headaches. I started feeling the burnout with the lackluster Assassin's Creed: Revelations and Assassin's Creed III, and since then AC: Black Flag, AC: Syndicate, and now AC: Origins have all exhibited the same issues I've had with the series ever since, despite attempts from various outlets to sell me on their new changes and updates.

Origins follows Bayek, a Medjay living in the Ptolemic period of Ancient Egypt, as he adopts a stealthy approach to eliminate a group of masked conspirators who were responsible for the death of his son, Khemu. The masked ones' plot revolves around some artifacts of the precursor race of ancients that once existed on Earth prior to humanity: every previous Assassin's Creed game from the second onward has involved them in some way. I've not got much further than that with the story, besides meeting Bayek's equally vicious and vengeance-filled wife Aya and being four-fifths done with the original group of masked jerks, which suggests there's far more to the game than killing them alone.

The RPG and colored loot additions do make exploring the open-world more compelling than usual, but there's still the aforementioned series-wide problems I had hoped had been sorted by now. One such instance is the way the engine can never seem to figure out what you want to do, where holding the "parkour" button is as likely to have you run through an alleyway in pursuit of someone as it is to suddenly make you start climbing the nearby wall as the target sprints ever further away. There was also this instance where I was inside an enemy fort and approaching the rear of an unsuspecting guard while tapping the "stealth takedown" button in anticipation for when I was close enough to perform it, when Bayek suddenly turned 90 degrees and jumped on a nearby horse (that same button also being the "mount steed" button), suddenly alerting all the guards in the vicinity to the audacious horse thief in their midst. If anything, the combat engine is even worse now, losing the balletic counterattack system of the previous games (which found its way into the Batman: Arkham series and elsewhere) for a more chaotic system of evasion rolls and heavy hits that just proves more annoying than anything when you have multiple foes to keep an eye on, almost all of whom will take their bows out and just shoot at you while you try to maneuver around some 8' guy with a big shield. Or those damn hippos.

I'm not enamoured with Assassin's Creed Origins, let's just say, but I'll stick with it for now. Maybe something will click and reveal to me what everyone else sees in this game, or maybe I'll just continue poking around every question mark on the map like some obsessive nutcase even if it all ultimately feels like work.

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