Holiday Download Guide


Browsing the Virtual Console library is like receiving a pure, unfiltered dose of childhood nostalgia injected directly into your brain. The effect of finding so many beloved titles in one place is overwhelming. In fact, since you'll already be intimately familiar with most of these games, we're purposefully concentrating on the underappreciated sleepers and forgotten gems.

Quality stuff above the big screen. Junk stuff below the big screen. Images are from box art, not gameplay.


Adventures of Lolo (NES, $5) - Before Tetris completely transformed the puzzle world into a never ending avalanche of colored bricks, Adventures of Lolo charmed - and, more importantly, challenged - gamers with diverse stages, puzzles and monsters. Its fuzzy blue hero deserves to be an icon.

ActRaiser (SNES, $8) - In this unusual and unforgettable treasure, you build a fantasy world as none other than that world's all-powerful god. Towns, farms and villagers can be directed from a top-down heavenly perspective; monsters and demons can be exorcised from an action-adventure side-scrolling perspective. Two games in one!

Wonder Boy in Monster World (Genesis, $8) - You were probably too distracted by Mario and Mega Man in the '80s and '90s to pay much attention to poor Wonder Boy. Too bad, as his sparkling, candy-colored 2D games can be equally enchanting. With some extra RPG elements, they can even be more interesting.

Sin and Punishment (N64, $12) - A mature, beautiful and extremely tough rail shooter, Sin and Punishment is considered one of the best things produced for the N64. Until now, however, only the Japanese and those willing to import from the Japanese could play. The Virtual Console is everyone else's first chance - you'd be a fool not to take it.

Alien Crush (TG-16, $6) - Pinball, pure and simple. If you're a fan of the original gaming machine, Alien Crush will completely take over your life. If it took quarters, you'd be broke. Even if you're not a fan, though, you still might be drawn in by the creepy artwork and memorable music.

Magician Lord (Neo Geo, $9) - Not your typical hack 'n slash side scroller. Not by a long shot. As the wizard hero progress on his quest, he gains the power to transform into anything from a fire-breathing Dragon Warrior to an energy-slicing Samurai. Add Final Fantasy summons to Ghouls 'n Ghosts and you'll have a good idea of what to expect.


The Legend of Kage (NES, $5) - Why one of the worst NES titles of all time was ported to the Virtual Console is a baffling mystery. The graphics suck, the controls suck, the story sucks... somehow, even the inclusion of ninjas sucks. The entire experience boils down to you jumping around in trees with a toothpick-sized sword. Sound fun?

Vegas Stakes (SNES, $8) - As the name suggests, this is a gambling game set in a casino. You can play poker or blackjack or slot machines or... zzzzzzzzzzz. Seriously, if you bother downloading Vegas Stakes when so many timeless SNES masterpieces are available, we will be very, very disappointed in you.

Ecco Jr. (Genesis, $8) - Ecco Jr. is an educational game for children and children alone. Actually, we take that back... not even the stupidest children should be subjected to this simplistic nonsense. Swimming through rings is about as complicated as it gets. Stick to Ecco the Dolphin and Ecco: The Tides of Time, please.

Yoshi's Story (N64, $10) - Another beloved franchise. Another kiddie game hiding in its midst. Another huge letdown. At least the Ecco series had the courtesy to add a "Jr." as a warning when it decided to dumb everything down. Yoshi's Story, on the other hand, fooled over two million disappointed Mario fans. Don't add yourself to that statistic.

J.J. & Jeff (TG-16, $6) - You know the Terrence and Philip show on South Park, in which a pair of annoying, crudely animated jerks run around farting on people and laughing about it afterwards? J.J. & Jeff is the gaming equivalent. Look at the box art - you know you don't want to download this. You'd be right.

Blue's Journey (Neo Geo, $9) - We can't think of a single interesting or entertaining thing to say about this final game. Blue's Journey is generic to the core, just another mediocre side scroller trying to emulate Nintendo's magic. Don't waste your time or points.