Welcome to our weekly feature, Virtually Overlooked, wherein we talk about games that aren't on the Virtual Console yet, but should be. Call it a retro-speculative.
Arkista's Ring is an action/adventure/puzzle game about an elf girl who battles giant scorpions, orcs, and forest-dwelling ninja in a labyrinth-like forest, all displayed in the charming square-tile graphical style popular with games like Zelda. It was released for the NES in 1990, published by American Sammy. Sammy now owns Sega, and Sega and Nintendo are newly in love. So today's game is kind of timely, in an oblique way. Also it's fun to play and stuff.
Why the game hasn't been announced for Virtual Console yet:
This game could easily be released on the VC. It was published by a company that has already done Virtual Console content, and is on a console that is already supported. It would still break some ground: no games from the Sammy side of Sega Sammy have been released yet, and no Sega Sammy games have been released for a console other than the Genesis. We aren't exactly clamoring for American Sammy's whole NES library, but this would be a good start.
Why we think it should be on the Virtual Console:
Arkista's Ring is, in a way, exactly what we like in our NES games. It's extremely simple to pick up and play, and for the first few levels seems like a very low-key arcade-style game. You shoot arrows at monsters until there aren't any more monsters, then you scoop up a key and take off. However, it soon becomes apparent that with the hidden exits and the second, more challenging quest, there is more to the game than imitating Gauntlet. Each level becomes more of a puzzle than an action game, while the challenge of defeating all the enemies remains. It's a nice balance between, say, Zelda and Rogue-- the room-to-room action of the first Zelda game, with just enough (not too much) puzzle-solving and random items.
Arkista's Ring is just the kind of thing we hoped for when Nintendo first started talking about the Virtual Console: a clever, fun old game that most people didn't ever play, and which is hard to find outside of eBay. Any Arkista or other NES overhead-view adventure game fans are welcome to join us in the comments thread! And join us next week for another round of stuff we're unlikely to see on the Wii anytime soon, if ever.