WiiWare has sadly got such a bad reputation that even Nintendo itself has moved well away from the branding, opting to go with 'eShop' from now on. However, with many classics released over the years, it is sad that most might overlook some of the great games that are still being brought to Wii's download service. One such recent release is from Spanish developer, Shanblue Interactive, in the form of the intense vampire-zombie-themed shooter, Vampire Crystals.
Hearing the name 'Creepyland' instantly gives the impression of 'Stay away at all costs!' and in the case of Vampire Crystals, complete with its zombie and vampire inhabitants it could not be more true. However, the two varieties of monster coexisted peacefully for many years; vampires sucked the blood of zombies to keep them in check, whilst the brain-eating beasties munched on ageing pointy-toothed fiends. One day it all changed and disharmony ensued…
Anyone looking for something on WiiWare that proves to be a strong alternative to the likes of Zombie Panic in Wonderland from Akaoni Studio, Little Red Riding Hood's Zombie BBQ from EnjoyUp, or Shin'en Multimedia's Nano Assault Neo on Wii U eShop should definitely pay attention, since Spanish team Shanblue Interactive's Vampire Crystals is a high-octane shooter that will test even the strongest of resolve.
Players take the role of a brave vampire and are tasked with killing a set number of zombies and collecting a certain amount of crystals before either the timer runs out or the entire energy bar is depleted. To begin it seems rather simple, merely running around the spooky locations filled with deadly monsters and all sorts of scenery to blast away, but after just the first few stages, trying to complete the task at hand within the limits set proves to not be one for the fainthearted. Even with weapon upgrades galore and items to help along the way, careful attention must be paid to where hazards and the locations of precious crystals are. The dual-stick setup definitely helps make this extremely enjoyable, with the left analogue moving the character and the right firing off a constant stream of weapon fire. The action is fast, smooth, and constantly gratifying across all of the three worlds included, complete with epic boss battles.
To top everything off, Shanblue has packed in a two-to-four player co-operative mode for the story, as well as a few multiplayer options, again for up to four people; Time Attack to collect more crystals than opponents, Deathmatch to eliminate the competition, and Survival where being the last man standing is key. The only aspect missing is online leader boards for those eager to compare scores around the world. Other than that, with the insane difficulty level, this should keep shmup fans that always wanted more run-and-gun action shooting ecstasy following the brilliant Zombie Panic in Wonderland more than happy.
Mixing elements of both Zombie Panic in Wonderland and Nano Assault Neo together, this dual-stick run-and-gun shooter is filled with non-stop action, pushing players to their limits and testing reactions better than most games of this ilk.
Given the limitations of file sizes on WiiWare, trickery seen in the likes of Shin'en Multimedia's FAST: Racing League and Jett Rocket must have been required to craft the highly detailed stages full of intense action without any slowdown creeping in.
Epic music throughout, reminiscent of sweeping cinematic adventures, with plenty of extra haunting themes mixed in to augment the atmosphere. The only element missing that would have been the icing on the cake is some voice acting.
Even on the 'Normal' difficulty setting, working through the game's three worlds will test gamers of all levels, and those wanting more challenge can choose the higher setting. Add to that the four-player co-operative or multiplayer modes and this is definitely money well spent. Online rankings would have been a pleasing extra, but maybe this will come in a future sequel.
With WiiWare definitely winding down now, it can only be hoped that people do not forget about the service completely since Vampire Crystals goes to show there are definitely some brilliant classics on the Wii download service that deserve people's attention. Any fans of the recent Nano Assault Neo on Wii U eShop should definitely jump into Wii mode and grab Shanblue's superb action shooter straight away and hope that a successor makes it to Wii U or 3DS eShop sooner rather than later.