When in ROM

Xbox Live Arcade and Wii’s Virtual Console both offer downloadable retro titles. But which is the best way to relive a misspent youth, in the process misspending your not so youth? I tried to find out without going to too much effort.

It was Super Probotector’s Virtual Console release which got me here. I have inordinately fond memories of playing Probotector on my friend’s NES, and harbour something of a soft spot for scrolling shooters of this ilk. So the SNES sequel was irresistible. Even though I had to spend actual English money – about a fiver or so – on downloading the thing.

And, of course, it’s bloody wonderful. Shooting things shouldn’t be more fun when it’s in slightly rubbish 2D, but it is. Gears of War? Give me Gunstar Heroes any day. Because a direct comparison between those games is definitely fair and valid. Well done me.

Playing the game with a WaveBird – well I wasn’t going to spend £15 on the Classic Controller just to play one game – is largely fine, but button mapping isn’t exactly logical, so it would have been nice to be able to configure the controls.

Smash TVProbotector (well, Contra) is available on Xbox Live Arcade, but I shunned that in favour of Smash TV. Why? Not sure. I always wanted it when it originally came out. But in this case I just downloaded the demo, avoiding spending any money at all. Boom selection.

Xbox Live is, as everyone knows, far slicker than its rivals, including the Wii’s effort. So yes, it’s less effort to get stuff off Xbox Live Arcade than Virtual Console (though getting at the game subsequently is quicker on Wii). And there’s no controller confusion – it’s just the 360 pad. Which, incidentally, works pretty much perfectly for Smash TV.

But it’s Super Probotector I’ll be going back to, partly because I prefer the game, partly because I paid for it, and partly because I’m slightly less rubbish at it than I am at Smash TV. Which makes that a helpful conclusion, doesn’t it?

Although Xbox Live Arcade is just about undeniably the superior service, Virtual Console has Nintendo games. And Nintendo are taking money off everyone straight away, which is both typical and clever, because they can probably get away with it. They got a fiver off me, after all. But not for a Nintendo game. So I still win.

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