Sonic, Lode, Golden Axe chop Wii VC

Gold-sifting Lode Runner hits Nintendo's downloadable-game service this week, along with Genesis side-scrollers Sonic the Hedgehog II, Golden Axe II.

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This week's set of games featured on the Wii's Virtual Console all have at least one thing in common: gold. Broderbund's gold-digging action puzzler Lode Runner leads this week off, with Golden Axe II and Sonic the Hedgehog II following along their cache of golden goods.

Originally developed by Oregon-based Broderbund in 1983, Hudson published the Nintendo Entertainment System version of Lode Runner that's now appearing on the VC. Players are tasked with relieving a mine of its stash of gold, with enemies (read: those tasked with preventing the runner's thieving ways) constantly in pursuit. Digging holes is the runner's only defense against opponents, and it's also how much of the treasure is reached. Though this version contains only 50 levels, off from the original iteration's 150, the edit mode has been included to let players design their own levels. Of note, Lode Runner marked the debut of Hudson's mischievous bomb-dispensing icon, Bomberman. Lode Runner is available for 500 Wii points ($5).

Seven months after the originals debuted on the VC, two Sega Genesis sequels hit the simulated platform this week. In Sonic the Hedgehog II, Sonic's second bout against the nefarious Dr. Robotnik, Sega's mascot hedgehog teams up with Tails to horde up golden rings, free the enslaved inhabitants of Westside Island, and capture the elusive chaos emerald before Robotnik can lay his hands on it. Sonic the Hedgehog II will go for 800 Wii points ($8).

Also from the Genesis this week is Sega's classic side-scrolling hack-and-slash action game Golden Axe II. As with Sonic, the first Golden Axe debuted on the Wii's VC last November, and this follow-up has you pursing the mythic titular weapon and definitively laying to rest Dark Guld. Much the same as the original, players can assume the barbarian warrior Ax-Battler, the long-sword wielding Amazon Tyris-Flare, and the stout dwarf Gilius Thunderhead to match might and magic against Dark Guld's minions over the course of six levels. As with other Sega releases, Golden Axe II will cost gamers 800 Wii points ($8).

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