Review by chandlerbing
"Puzzle platforming at its very best."
Solomon's Key. One of the most criminally overlooked games of the past makes a reappearance on the Nintendo Wii's Virtual Console after years of being forgotten and relegated to one of those titles that only the hardcore would remember. Ported to the NES in 1987, Solomon's Key makes its marks, to those in the know, as one of the toughest challenges on the system. Guide Dana through a monster-infested cave wrought with dangers and rewards alike in one of the finest Puzzle platformers available on any system.
The basic gameplay revolves around a simple goal stretched across up to and over 50 levels; find the key located in each stage to unlock the door to the next. Sounds easy, but the reality is the devious and clever level designs serves as a formidable obstacle to those that think they can breeze through the game without trying. Dana is equipped with a wand that summons/creates blocks at will - and it is this that plays a major part in progressing through the game: how you use it is up to you - create platforms to reach out-of-reach places, create cover from enemy fire... there's plenty of possibilities for you to tackle the levels how you want.
Everything is stacked against you; time limit, one-hit kills, and monsters of different shapes and sizes all pose a threat to your journey through the mazes. There is no hand holding in this game (as was the case with many of the games from the 80s era) so with your trusty block summoning wand to build platformers and form covers, as well as finding fireballs at your disposal, you're more than equipped and ready for the job.
- Controls -
The controls are intuitive and never really pose a problem for the player. Although pressing UP on the directional pad is something that you're not used to, it is easy to pick up over time and getting used to it. Solomon's Key plays well with a classic controller, the Wii remote and the Gamecube controller so feel free to use whichever one you are most comfortable with.
There is no save system in the game on the original NES, but on the Wii you can save and resume your state at any point in the game, so there is no need to play through the game in one sitting.
For the vast majority of the game, you'll be hearing the same one tune constantly. Thankfully, much like Bubble Bobble, the ditty is incredibly addictive and never really annoys you for the duration of the game. The sound effects are as you would expect from a puzzle game like this, all at the right pitch.
With 48/49 levels plus dozens of hidden stages, Solomon's Key isn't a game you will finish in a hurry. For newcomers, expect plenty of Game Overs and starting afresh. There's also a ton of secrets and even multiple endings for those completists and perfectionists out there boosting the replay value even higher.
Solomon's Key is a title well worth the 500 points Nintendo are charging for a NES game download. For fans who are even the slightest bit interested in the puzzle/platformer genre, this is one game that will test your skills to the fullest. It's challenging for the right reasons, with solid controls and compelling level designs means that you won't be bored of the game any time soon.
An essential title that is welcome on the Virtual Console.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 01/22/07
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