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You’ve got your popular games (Punch-Out!!), your obscure ones (Milon’s Secret Castle) and some that you NEVER thought you’d see on the Virtual Console (Sin and Punishment). But then, you have your games that will probably also never see the light of day on the VC, and that’s a shame. Some are for obvious reasons, but there are some others that I’ll never understand why they don’t get the regal treatment and put on the VC already. Below are a few of my favorite games of all time that I’m sure I won’t be playing on the Virtual Console anytime soon.
10. Marko (Genesis)
You’ve never heard of this game before. That’s fine, because I have, and it’s wonderful. You play as a spunky little kid with a magical soccer ball that does all kinds of neat tricks, like explode, disappear, and turn enemies into dust piles. Somewhere in the game, there’s a story about picking up all of the garbage in the city, but that’s not what matters. What matters is, is that the gameplay is sublime and perfect, and just what you WON’T be seeing on the Virtual Console. It’s too obscure anyway. I mean, not Boogerman obscure (Even though, you actually COULD buy that one on the VC, don’t ask me how), but still pretty obscure. Search the internet for it. It’s fun.
9. Rainbow Islands (NES)
If you’ve ever read any of my nostalgia pieces in the past, you’ll notice that I mention Rainbow Islands quite a bit, and why not? Its catchy music, infectious gameplay, and color-laden appeal make it more than just a simple sequel to the beloved Bubble Bobble. Rainbow Islands is like a good version of Ice Climbers, which, beyond any reason I can think of, IS actually on the Virtual Console (maybe because of their appearance in Smash Bros. Brawl). Still, RI, is definitely a keeper. It’s a shame you’ll never get to play it.
It’s the gameplay of Rainbow Islands that really sells it though, especially since it’s SO different from its predecessor. Instead of blowing little bubbles and trapping your foes in them, you instead shoot off little rainbows that can attack and trap enemies, or even be used as a stairway; it makes for some pretty dramatic gameplay. Even more awesome though is how the game is really just one constant ascent, and if you don’t keep moving, you’ll wind up being drowned out. It really makes you feel alive. So why doesn’t Nintendo bring it to the VC? Beats me, and it beats all that you have no idea why I love this game so much.
8. Time Killers (Arcade)
Okay, so arcade games don’t go on the Virtual Console, I know. But being as obscure and as violent as Time Killers is, I know I’ll never play it on Live Arcade, either, which really blows, because I heart Time Killers. I heart it a lot. I actually first played the game in a grungy pizza place that has since been spiffied up and remodeled and would never have a violent hodgepodge of severed limbs and gore in there anymore like TK. Tis a pity, because I actually LOVED TK back in the day and found it to be a more playful version of Mortal Kombat. Really, one of the main purposes of the Virtual Console, in my mind, is to not only let hairy bellied adults relive their childhood’s, but to also open the door for the younger generation interested in what they may have missed when they were still just an idea in their parent’s mind. And that’s why TK SHOULD be on the Virtual Console—to show them what video game violence used to look like. Too bad they’ll never get to see it.
7. Rocket Knight Adventures (Genesis)
Rocket Knight Adventures is the kind of game that people who have played it can’t stop talking about, and will keep talking about it until you understand how relevant and important it was as a title. Unlike say, Gunstar Heroes or even Dynamite Heady though, RKA just never had the extra push to make an impact in the overall scene. Sure, it was big enough to have a sequel, but it’s STILL not talked about by the critics and starry eyed nostalgic hounds out there to really make Nintendo consider putting it on the market. Come on, guys, this game is amazing, let’s start talking this one up and STOP talking about Milion’s Secret Castle. That game blows SO hard.
Rocket Knight Adventures has such a fun feel to it, much more than the much beloved Vectorman. Your opossum hero has a rocket pack on his back. Said rocket pack can be charged up to blast all over the screen in short spurting errant patterns. It’s a blast trying to figure out its trajectory. The weapon—a sword that shoots out energy—is simple enough to use, too. Really, it’s the kind of game that takes less than twelve seconds to get the hang of, and that’s what makes it so special. People would LOVE this game on the VC. Now if only Nintendo would dig a little deeper in Sega’s library.
6. Battletoads and Double Dragon (Genesis)
You either love Battletoads or you hate it. Same goes for Double Dragon (Though, it seems more people nowadays embrace the former over the latter). But put the two together and you have the greatest team-up in history next to Scooby Doo and the Harlem Globetrotters. The bad thing is, those who HAVE actually played this game are usually torn on whether they should either A) Hate it, or B) Hate it with extreme prejudice since it doesn’t really fill the quotient for either of the two franchises, but I think those people are way out of line here. BaDD (How awesome is that acronym, by the way?) is just all out fun that isn’t too hard (Unlike Battletoads) and also doesn’t get tedious (Unlike Double Dragon) after the third level. Really, if anything, you’re getting the best of both worlds here—gnarly bosses, hover bikes, and grabbing people by the hair to punch them in the gut. There is no better team-up ever in a game, and it sucks that you’ll never get to know that.
5. Killer Instinct Gold (Nintendo 64)
Nintendo is Rare’s bitch. They were back when they were rolling with Rare in the late ninety’s, and they still are now that Rare has moved on to working exclusively with Microsoft. Case in point: the KI series, which has always been one of Nintendo’s—and I don’t care what you say—finest moments when it came to getting an exclusive title from a third party company. KI showed that Nintendo actually COULD have an awesome fighter on their console with the Nintendo 64, and Killer Instinct Gold would be a great addition to the Virtual Console, which pretty much only has Street Fighter for true fighting fans and that’s about it. Too bad Rare would NEVER let Nintendo have this one back. Looks like you’ll have to wait for an Xbox Live Arcade release before you can start ultra-comboing anybody anytime soon again. It’s a bummer, I know.
4. Gun Nac (NES)
Top down shooters aren’t popular anymore, but back in the NES days, they were all the rage. And Gun Nac is definitely one of the better ones. Containing weapon upgrades up the wazoo, plus some pretty wacky boss encounters and stellar music, Gun Nac is one of the few rather obscure games that I think would actually sell if released on the Virtual Console. Find it on an emulator if you can. This game is the naz.
It’s the multiple upgrades in Gun Nac that separate it from the competition, though. There are about four different power-ups for your weapon, as well as upgrades to said power-ups. These power-ups come to you in the form of little numbered pellets that float on towards you in little, wiggly patterns. So, in many ways, Gun Nac becomes a game of dodging, both enemy bullets and weapon downgrades. It may not seem like all that much, but trust me, it is. It’s some of the most intense dog fighting you’d ever see on the NES.
3. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time (SNES)
This is probably one of the ONLY games on this list that has a shot in hell of actually one day becoming a VC title, but only because it’s so beloved and popular with so many people. Also, Turtles in Time is a side scrolling beat-em’-up, and those seem to do well on the VC. Still, with the original TMNT Arcade game landing on the X-Box Live Arcade, is there a chance that this one will, too, making it less likely that it will come over to the Virtual Console? Maybe, but here’s hoping it can finally make the leap over to the VC side. Not being able to hear, “Bury my shell at wounded knee,” for the past decade or so has made me all sorts of depressed, don’tchaknow?
2. Sunset Riders (SNES)
Konami really scored with this Western-themed shoot ’em up, where your prime objective was to nab wanted outlaws and collect the handsome rewards. The only problem is, it's probably more remembered in the bowling alley arcade than on the home consoles (And if you ever get to play it, make sure you skip the Genesis version and head right for the SNES one. Like all ports back then, the SNES version was the way to go, no question). This will NEVER see the light of day on the VC, but if it did, it would definitely have a better chance than this next one.
1. T&C Games 2: Thrilla’s Safari (NES)
Quite possibly one of my favorite games EVER, Thrilla’s Safari is quite possibly the most obscure game on this list (Yes, even more so than Gun Nac or Rainbow Islands). The purpose of the game was to ride down steep declines or waves on a skateboard or surfboard, and that was pretty much it. It was escapist, fun, and it will never, ever, EVER be on the Virtual Console. Mark my words, though, this game is a blast and a half to play. It’s probably the most fun you’ll ever have controlling a gorilla.