Mario Paper-cuts the Virtual Console

Nintendo 64 role-playing classic stacked onto Wii's downloadable-game reservoir alongside Balloon Fight and Silent Debuggers.

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They don't call it the Mario Factory for nothing. This week's Virtual Console update would be utterly unremarkable were it not for Mario's paper-thin role-playing adventure on the Nintendo 64. Rolling with the mustachioed plumber onto the VC this week is Balloon Fight from the Nintendo Entertainment System and Silent Debuggers from the TurboGrafx-16.

As with Square's Chrono Trigger before it, Paper Mario found critical acclaim in 2001 despite being released on a console well past its heyday. In his search for the Star Spirits, Mario is joined by a wide range of characters to thwart Bowser's attempts to rule the Mushroom Kingdom through the power of the Star Rod. Paper Mario features a unique art style that blends 2D character models with 3D environments in a nonlinear role-playing game scenario. The game is just the sixth from the Nintendo 64 to be ported over to the Wii's Virtual Console, and will cost gamers 1,000 Wii points ($10).

Those wondering what that whole balloon thing is about in Mario Kart battle mode need look no further than the NES's Balloon Fight. With gameplay similar to the arcade classic Joust, players must pop enemies' balloons while protecting their own. As players advance through the stages, enemies become more difficult, and lightning and water hazards are added into the mix. Also featured in Balloon Fight is Balloon Trip, where players attempt to stay afloat in a side-scrolling level while dodging environmental hazards. Balloon Fight offers two-player action and is available for 500 Wii points ($5).

Last on this week's VC list is Silent Debuggers, released originally for the TG-16. Featuring a sci-fi twist on classic dungeon-crawl gameplay, players must navigate an alien-infested space station to deactivate an automatic detonator located in the ship's lowest level. The first-person shooter's action is spiked by a strict 100-minute time limit. Silent Debuggers slips onto the Wii for 600 Wii points ($6).

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