Dark Void is a recently released Capcom game for the big consoles, and to drum up interest for it, they did something incredibly clever: promote the game with an 8-bit DSiWare download called Dark Void Zero. I don’t have any interest in the main Dark Void game, but I’d have to say that Dark Void Zero is probably more fun, especially if you’re a classic Capcom NES fan!
Anyway, the “history” behind Dark Void Zero is that it was supposedly a scrapped 8-bit game from Capcom that was ‘lost’ in the vaults. It was going to be used in Nintendo’s PlayChoice 10 arcade cabinets to use the dual screen. But as 8-bit gave way to 16-bit, the project was scrapped. But now, the idea behind the game has been redone in a new 3-D action game, and they’ve ‘re-released’ the classic game on DSiWare.
OK, I do have to say that while this story is really cool, I’m 99 percent sure it’s fabricated. First of all, the Nintendo PlayChoice 10 made money because it was an arcade machine that let you play a selection of existing NES games for a limited time that you could normally play at home (except I did play SMB3 a couple of months early on a PlayChoice 10 before it was released on NES). Just goes to show you how powerful the NES grip on gamers were back then. So why make a game just for the PlayChoice only? Doesn’t make any sense, economically. Also, you’d think an internet savvy researcher would’ve uncovered a scrapped game like Dark Void Zero by now. Have you seen some of the articles at the Lost Levels Web site? Surely one of them would’ve found out.
At any rate, while I think the whole history is a marketing ploy (and if it is real, then the joke’s on me), Dark Void Zero is still a really fun classic-styled 2-D action game! It’s kind of a mix between Mega Man, Bionic Commando, NES Strider, and The Rocketeer (because you have a rocketpack). And it really does FEEL like a classic Capcom game. It has catchy 8-bit music and they even use the classic pinwheel Yashichi as one of the items. When you first turn on the game, they show a picture of the “NES cartridge” and the only way to start the game is to ‘blow’ into the cartridge by breathing into the DSi microphone! It’s like a finale game in a Retro Game Challenge sequel or something!
Anyway, Dark Void Zero is only 500 points (about five bucks). It’s challenging in a classic way (even on Easy mode), but it’s also very fun. The only quibble I have about it is while you can save when you complete one of the three Metroid-ish maze levels, you also save your life count. So if you lost all your lives in stage 1 and save, you’ll have to beat level 2 with no lives. But that’s only a minor complaint. Like a classic NES game, it’s fun to play over and over again to bear your best score and find all the secrets. I highly recommend it!