Gradius leads triple shot of Wii VC releases

Konami's NES shoot-'em-up arrives on the Virtual Console, accompanied by TurboGrafx-16 games Soldier Blade and Dungeon Explorer.

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The Vic Viper takes flight again today, as the NES edition of Konami's arcade shoot-'em-up Gradius has appeared on the Wii's Virtual Console. Acting as the game's wingmen are a pair of TurboGrafx-16 games: the vertically scrolling shooter Soldier Blade and the action role-playing game Dungeon Explorer. All three games are rated E for Everyone.

Originally released in 1986, the NES version of Gradius puts players in the cockpit of a starfighter fending off an alien invasion through seven stages. Designed for one or two players, the game is available for 500 Wii Points ($5).

The second shoot-'em-up of the week, Hudson Entertainment's 1992 offering Soldier Blade borrows the colored power-up mechanic of its fellow TG-16 shooters, Super Star Soldier and Blazing Lazers. Soldier Blade is a one-player game and sells for 600 Wii Points ($6).

Finally, Hudson Entertainment's 1989 action RPG Dungeon Explorer originally required the TG-16's TurboTap accessory to allow simultaneous cooperative play for up to five players. Fortunately, the Virtual Console release allows five-player action with any combination of Wii Remotes and GameCube controllers. Players pick from eight different character classes, ranging from genre staples like the fighter to more obscure choices like the bard or bishop, and then they set out into the world to conquer a series of dungeons. Dungeon Explorer is available to download for 600 Wii Points.

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