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Wii Virtual Console releases

Hanabi Festival introduces Europeans to games previously only available in Japan and the US.

Retro gamers everywhere rejoice! The celebrated ‘Hanabi Festival’ is back on Virtual Console, bringing with it another timeless selection of retro titles – previously released only in Japan or the United States – to Wii gamers across Europe. Available via the Wii Shop Channel, discovery is the name of the game as players can experience for the first time many highly entertaining and cult classics, all courtesy of SEGA and Hudson Soft.

Named after the Japanese holiday season renowned for its firework displays, the Hanabi Festival offers Wii owners across Europe the opportunity to experience first-hand a series of gaming greats never released in PAL regions. To kick-start this, the second Hanabi Festival, three high-energy action and puzzle titles are unleashed…

· GRADIUS II GOFER NO YABOU (Turbografx) – the acclaimed space shooter!

· Columns III: Revenge of Columns™ (SEGA MEGA DRIVE) – the jewel puzzle brain bender!

· Final Soldier (Turbografx) – the action-packed shoot ‘em up sequel!

And there are even more import games planned to launch as the Hanabi Festival continues in the coming weeks, including such diverse titles as Puyo Puyo 2 and Gley Lancer from SEGA, and Star Parodier and Cho Aniki from Hudson Soft – and more.

GRADIUS II GOFER NO YABOU returns you to the helm of the legendary Vic Viper to overcome a new offensive from the Bacterion Empire. Originally only available on the PC Engine (Turbografx) console in Japan, this horizontally scrolling shooter challenges players to conquer the Bacterion’s fleet and its new leader, Gofer. With a total of nine stages, this perfect port of the original boasts one of the longest adventures in the series and also features more trademark fast-paced music to accompany the intense action! GRADIUS II is available now for 900 Wii Points.

If you’d prefer to test your brain rather than your brawn, then the mental tenacity of puzzle fans everywhere will be pushed to the very limit in the compelling sequel Columns III: Revenge of Columns™. Released in the U.S. in 1994 for the SEGA MEGA DRIVE, Columns III offers a single-player or multi-player experience that expands upon the gameplay of the first two Columns titles by giving players extra attacks to spring on their opponents. As in the original Columns, jewels fall into a column bin where gamers have to twist and manipulate them to match three or more jewels in a vertical, horizontal or diagonal line to prevent them from stacking up and reaching the top. In Columns III, special magical jewels are available that influence the game in numerous ways such as raising your opponent’s crush bar or lowering yours, adding an extra element of strategy to the game. Columns III: Revenge of Columns™ is available for 900 Wii Points.

The third Hanabi Festival title this week, Final Soldier, propels you to the 23rd century where you are Earth’s last line of defence against an unknown horde of alien invaders. Part of the celebrated ‘Star Soldier’ series, this action-packed vertical scrolling shooter puts you at the helm of a space fighter created by the finest scientists from across the globe. Armed to the teeth with an arsenal of weaponry you rise up against the enemy overwhelming them with lasers, flamethrowers and missiles, many of which can be upgraded to cause further devastation. Originally released for PC Engine (Turbografx) only in Japan, this Hudson Soft classic can now be yours for 700 Wii Points.

Hanabi Festival titles that were originally released in Japan contain only minimal Japanese text that will not affect players’ enjoyment. All new Hanabi Festival titles will remain on the Wii Shop Channel after the festival has ended. Titles from the previous Hanabi Festival in September 2007 (Sin And PunishmentÔ, Ninja GaidenÔ, Gradius IIIÔ, Ninja JaJaMaru-kun, and Mario’s Super PicrossÔ) are still available, except for the limited edition Super Mario Bros.: The Lost LevelsÔ.

And watch this space in the future, because the Hanabi Festival may return…

Virtual Console offers users the ultimate retro gaming experience. This week’s titles join the list of 209 classic titles already available for Virtual Console in Europe.

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