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Game & Watch Gallery 2 - 3DS VC Review

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Game & Watch Gallery 2

3DS Virtual Console | Nintendo | 1 Player | Out Now | $3.99 / £3.60
Related Game: Game & Watch Gallery
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20th September 2012; By KnucklesSonic8

It is for good reason that Nintendo's portable series of retro-inspired collections links itself to the societal function of museums. Similarly putting its best pieces on display for the masses, such executions are purposeful towards educating young and old in gameplay that is still just as relevant as it was back then. Without being overly diplomatic in its opinion of what is tried-and-true, Game & Watch Gallery 2 emphasizes timeless strength with qualities similar to what was seen in the first collection. Finding its way to the Game Boy Color has led to the furtherance of that rich charm, and with succinct gameplay still remaining at the forefront, 
Game & Watch Gallery 2 is a really effective continuation with much to adore.

    Any and all prospects for fun lie within five mini-games that go by the following names: Parachute, Helmet, Vermin, Chef, and Donkey Kong. As per the standard with this series, each come with two versions: Classic, the original form of the portable mini-game; and Modern, a Gallery-exclusive improvement, or a mini-sequel, if you will. There are also two difficulty settings: Easy and Hard, otherwise referred to as Game A and Game B under Classic terms. The ordering described above is identical to what's seen in the game, yet it is not a factual indication of a best-to-worst ranking. To get that result, you'd have to put Vermin at the very end, then make Donkey Kong and Helmet switch places, but that's just a matter of personal preference (although few would argue against Vermin being the weakest of the five). Put together, this is a package that offers different gameplay types where you see brevity, tension, progressive mechanics, and timing-based gameplay being harnessed. Breaking things down into segments to better understand the make-up of this release, why don't we get into each of the available mini-games to consider how they stack up as individual efforts?

    I've already spoiled my thoughts on the first game, so I'll just come out and say it again only because I feel so strongly about it: Parachute's a keeper. With a methodology similar to that of Fire, your goal is to monitor parachute-equipped skydivers as they jump from a helicopter, moving left and right along the body of water to position your boat as a landing pad of refuge. With as many as three jumpers and three different paths they can use to make their descent, there are no additional threats beyond what was just described. At least, that is the case with the original game. Hard Mode will occasionally have a jumper get caught on the tree along the far right of the space, but again, it's just a matter of keeping your eye on the timing of things. On both difficulty settings, the shark swimming just in and around the area adjacent to your boat behaves more like an aesthetical treatment, rather than a looming obstacle that responds to close calls. It is to be admitted that Parachute isn't terribly exciting in its original state, which is exactly why the Modern rendition feels like such a strong and absolutely adorable improvement. 

With the same interests in mind, you then see the individual elements being expanded upon in a number of ways. First up are the jumpers themselves, with Game & Watch clones being swapped out for Toad, Yoshi, and Baby DK. With the exception of the last one, the rate of descent is not exclusive to the character, but there are some variations as far as when the characters decide to open their parachute. Secondly, the helicopter is replaced with an airship that differs from the former in that it regularly changes position rather than remaining firmly in a corner.

    The last difference has to do with the function of the sea enemy -- a Cheep Cheep that has effectively been given more of a helper role. A second chance will be extended whenever he is in position by having the sea-bound jumpers bounce off its top. All of this coming together, the gradual build-up that makes this activity so much fun has players feeling more and more connected to everything as time goes on. This is supported nicely by having multiple units on-screen at a time, quickly eliminating a slow progression. Connected to this, the Modern version of Parachute sure has a lot more charm to it. I especially liked seeing Mario's guilty side whenever his missing the mark resulted in one of his friends flailing about in the ocean, trying to avoid being eaten alive. It's an altogether lovely expansion to the simple principles seen in the original game and is very easy to fall in love with, arguably more so than all other games.

    Telling you all about the importance of safe work conditions is Helmet. The goal of this game is really simple: zip across from one end of the field to the other, avoiding tools that fall from the sky. Occasionally the door you need to cross through will close on you, forcing you to spend some time in the danger zone before you can actually gain some points for your successful dodges. On Hard Mode, the security gets tighter in that you'll be lucky if you can get two successive runs in before the door locks, but that's about as fancy as Helmet ever gets. Looking back, I'm not sure what it is that I found so fun about something so straightforward, but it is still enjoyable for what it is. Maybe I just enjoyed playing the part in a situation I'd never see myself in?

At any rate, the Modern rendition of the game sees, as should be expected, a considerable improvement in the overall process. Instead of just running from the door when a clear path is in sight, baby steps are encouraged through the presence of a coin switch. Forcibly caught in the middle of all the kerfuffle in a way that's more sound than the inconvenient closing of a door, activating this switch will present optional coins that you can leap towards as you dodge what's being thrown at you. The Modern version also forces you to be more attentive to when exactly the hammers hit the ground since there's less of a window as far as wait time is concerned. And it's not just tools that you need to watch out for; there are also Podoboos and iron balls. A variation in setup is seen upon reaching the 500-Point mark, putting you in a whole new setting where a Shy Guy tosses iron balls with the possibility of having his shots redirected by cannons. All in all, Helmet may not be as strong as some of the other games in terms of design, but it can still hold its own pretty well.

    I unfortunately can't say the same about the next one on the list: Vermin. This one is basically a game of Whack-a-Mole where you presumably protect a vegetable garden, but this fact isn't made clear at all with the rather empty space the game puts you in. With two hammers making it really easy on you to manage the situation, Vermin is super light on difficulty to a point where it bores. It turns into a pattern of hit-hit-hit-hit, followed by a brief pause and another set of hits. There's no real variation to it, which, in fairness, is something that can be said about some of the other games in their original form, but it is an especially noticeable flaw here because of the simple fact that Vermin is just not entertaining in the slightest.

By contrast, Modern has more going for it. Here you actually get a visual representation of a garden; except, instead of protecting veggies, it's a series of eggs. Caring little for Yoshi's personal space are the many Shy Guys and Koopas that attempt to infiltrate and vandalize what doesn't belong to them. Set up in a roundabout fashion, you're given two arcs to jump back and forth between. And as far as navigation is concerned, controlling with B and A in place of the Circle Pad or +Control Pad can make things a bit confusing, so it's best to stick with the latter.

    Even though you only have a single life to work with, each egg can sustain multiple hits. So whenever you have two enemies approaching at the same time on opposite ends, this gets you to consider taking another hit on a partially-cracked egg to preserve one that's in perfect condition. For what purpose? Well, once you hit the 400-Point mark, you'll be granted additional points for each unharmed egg, so it certainly pays off to make that your focus. Vermin picks up faster than some of the other games, and also allows Boos to come forth later on in the progression to throw off a person's strategy. Both of these are great to see, especially in light of the original's unpleasing condition. When you get right down to it, I still feel Vermin to be the weakest game in the entire collection, but at least the Modern version made it so I could develop a liking to a concept I originally disliked.

    Back to yet another work environment, let's now discuss Chef. Equipped with a frying pan, the goal of this one is to continuously use your tool to keep food suspended in the air for as long as possible. With the length of time you'll be involved in the cooking, you'd think they were left in the freezer for years on end! Along the bottom of the screen is a mouse who you can bet skipped breakfast as he is relying on your slip-up to satisfy his hunger. There are two elements that make Chef a less repetitious affair as you go along. For one, the power or height of your flips is not always impacted to the same degree each time. Second, off to the top left is a sneaky cat who, in his apparent obsession for wieners, likes to stick his nose (and fork) in your business by grabbing hold of the left-most food item.

Where things change with the Modern version is in control and overall objective. Now taking control of Peach and having Mario and Luigi do the prep work off to the sides, you actually have a customer to manage this time around. You might know him; he goes by the name of Yoshi, and he can't be bothered to wait for his food to come to him like any well-mannered guest should. Also, these items will at some point change colour, signifying that they are ready to be dropped into Yoshi's mouth for consumption. Having Yoshi smartly follow the expert's every move may not seem like a hassle in itself, but because you're given two options as far as movement -- that is, rotating your body or actually moving into place -- players need to regularly be aware of how Yoshi's movements are directly impacted by these and learn to adapt accordingly as the food starts to form vertical lines. The regular, non-mechanical maintenance, as well as the need for quick reflexes is what makes Chef especially enjoyable, and even though Modern is the clear winner of the two, they both have merit in the overall scheme of things.

    Set to take things in a different direction is the final game in the collection: Donkey Kong. As you can probably guess, platforming is the focus here, with the goal being to slowly make your way to the top of a construction site and make a daring leap of escape with the help of a crane hook. Compared to how the other Classic games are organized, this one's a little more interesting in that you have two small screens to manage within the field of the 3DS' top screen. In terms of actual gameplay, it's a bit out of sync with the other games in its need for precision, but it's that need that actually helps build to a greater challenge and depth than what you'd find in the rest of the package. The Modern rendition is similarly enjoyable and, in my opinion, a better-made game. Still dodging barrels, players must repeatedly make their way to a switch near the top that will lead the way to a door next to where Donkey Kong is stationed. Crossing it will destroy a portion of the platform he uses as a base, and once there's nothing left, you'll do the same things over again but in a new setting. This game isn't as much about close calls and having the urge to challenge failure, but through generous point distribution and an overall systematic process, the game emits great feelings of accomplishment. So even though its pace isn't entirely in unison with what's seen in other parts of the collection, the Modern version is still a fun activity that's really easy to come back to.

As has been shown, there is a ton of fun tucked away in here. But what really helps all these different components spill over into a blissful cohesiveness is the presentation. It bears repeating that the use of colour has brought with it an enrichment to the existing charm in each individual game, and you can tell that it really has made a considerable difference. Best of all, the musical soundtrack is both mischievous and wonderfully nostalgic, with the theme for Parachute being a notable composition because it's just so inspiring to listen to.

    In terms of bonuses, Game & Watch Gallery 2 follows after its predecessor by rewarding players for their devotion to each of the included particulars. How this is accomplished is through the accumulation of stars, earned for every 200-Point increment reached in a game, up to the thousandth mark. These open up panels in the Gallery Mode, a returning feature from the last game, now with more to offer. Before it was simply about drawing awareness to the line of titles from the 1980's, and that function is still serviced here with the Museum component. However, there are other options, such as the Note Board and the Music Room, to round things out a bit better, not to mention the ability to add Ball to your list of game selections. With even more to work towards, Game & Watch Gallery 2 carries the tradition of extending novelty beyond those initial thrills and turns star-collecting into a worthwhile goal.

    In nearly all respects, Game & Watch Gallery 2 effectively caters to a range of tastes with uncomplicated gameplay that skillfully manages to hold your attention in ways that may appear remarkable, given their age. Some efforts are better at conveying these feelings of accomplishment than others, but on the whole, the addiction factor and charm is very much felt throughout. Really, there should be nothing stopping you from picking this up.

27/30 - Excellent

Gameplay 8/10 - Succinct with progressive elements that add a layer of depth, sometimes huge improvements to notice in going from Modern to Classic
Presentation 9/10 - Richly charming with many touches to be admired, really effective use of colour, cohesive with other components, great soundtrack
Enjoyment 5/5 - Most if not all of the new renditions are super fun, driven by its charm, subdued variety in the different extensions of the design
Extra Content 5/5 - Even more content than the first collection, worthwhile unlockables to shoot for, star system is once again very motivating

Equivalent to a score of 90% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating) - Our Rating System

Review by KnucklesSonic8

Game & Watch Gallery 2
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