Written: 1.5.15 Acquired: 1.30.06 Status: Cart only Price: $4.99
Pub: Sony Imagesoft
Dev: Software Creations
During the hot summer of 1990, Software Creations put out a NES title called Solstice. Based off 1984's Knight Lore, players used a wizard named Shadax as he traversed from one isometric room to another. It was a long, challenging action puzzle quest, with one crushing flaw... there was no password or save feature. 3 years later, the same firm cranked out a sequel for the SNES. You now use Glendaal, son of Shadax, in a mad effort to save his imprisoned father EQUINOX AIN'T YOUR DADDY'S SOLSTICE [Oh here we go -Ed.]
QUELLING CHILDHOOD CURIOSITIES... TWENTY YEARS LATER
I remember vividly seeing Equinox featured in EGM and GameFan back in '94. The screenshots had me hooked. It looked like an enticing mix of adventure and action puzzle. Its odd isometric perspective was unique; there really weren't many other titles like it. It captivated my imagination. But... as it often was back in the day, my bro had the final say in the games we rented. And unfortunately for me, Equinox never did quite intrigue him enough to make him want to rent it. Thus, Equinox became one of over 100 Super Nintendo games I always wanted to play but never did. This past holiday season, after over 20 years, I righted a childhood wrong. 24 hours and a thousand deaths later, I was able to reunite Glendaal with his dad, Shadax. Back in '94, I always had this gut feeling that this would be an awesome game. And I'm proud to say, it comes awfully close to being just that. As I sat back to watch the father and son duo reconvene in a bout of redemption, I felt very much the same. It was as if I was saying hello to an old friend again that I never really knew until now. Equinox was another childhood curiosity on my longstanding journey towards gaming redemption
I bought it the same day my SNES came in the mail
Even better, I bought it from my childhood HOLLYWOOD VIDEO
Childhood curiosity purchased from my childhood store. Perfect! Man, I used to go here back in the day all the time. It lasted til '09
Oh the weather outside is frightful. But Equinox is so delightful...
THE STORY GOES...
To save your father, you will have to conquer hundreds of rooms
Took Equinox years before finally seeing the light of day... but it was worth the wait
Looking for a challenging Super Nintendo title? Look no further
THE RULES OF ENGAGEMENT, ER, EQUINOX
Super Play Magazine lays it out beautifully here in this tell-all pic
Stock up on weapons, magic spells, potions, red apples and keys
Finding the spell of each world is crucial. Zap and save my faves
Likewise, finding the latest weapon is tantamount to your success
Swap out your weapon or spell whenever you like via this screen
Each realm consists of 3 or 4 different hubs that all link together
It is one of those games where you just have to see the next room
You can rotate the screen on the overworld map. Pretty neat stuff
7. Ghost Ship
8. Death Island
THIS SEASON'S BIG BAD [I C WAT U DID DERE... -ED.]
Don't let the 'LIFE' meter fool you. Equinox is a one hit and you're dead kind of game. LIFE merely symbolizes how many lives you have left. So you can imagine how intense the boss battles must be. They all take a good amount of damage before biting the dust, and as they turn red, the tension mounts to unbelievable levels. The first boss is Bonehead. I found him to be far tougher than almost all of the other bosses due to his seemingly unpredictable and erratic pattern. It took me several blasted tries and it may take you as much
Sung Sung is the mammoth guardian of the second world. He's an impressive sight. Towering over our hero, I remember seeing him in screenshots back in '94 and absolutely quaking in my boots. I love his design. It strikes such an imaginative chord for me. Sung Sung likes to burrow deep underneath the earth before popping back up to toss giant boulders your way. He's more bark than bite, however. His pattern is easy to figure out, and after that it becomes a matter of standing in the right spots and moving when necessary. This becomes the majority of the boss battles in Equinox. At any rate, Sung Sung is a personal fave
Quetzalcoatl is the end level guardian of Deeso. It's a perfect fit, as Deeso is a barren desert kingdom whose eerie dungeons are littered (and maybe haunted) with the remains of an ancient civilization. Quetzalcoatl's a Mesoamerican deity whose name comes from the Nahuatl language and means "feathered serpent," according to Wikipedia. It fits the whole ancient civilization feel of the stage. As you pelt away at the giant living statue, it breaks down a block at a time. At the very end there's a nasty little surprise in store for you. I won't spoil it for you but let's just say when I first saw it, holy shit were the two words that came to mind
Naturally, an overgrown crab calls Atlena home. Just your lucky day, right? Pincha can be tough because he uses his claws to guard his vulnerable eyes. Shoot him when he swipes his claws, and you just might nail him. Once you figure out where to stand, Pincha becomes a bit of a cakewalk. But be careful, because he can spaz out a bit as he gets closer to a permanent watery grave
Despite being the most generic enemy in the world of RPGs, Equinox's graphics are so impressive that even a simple looking giant blob creature still looks pretty damn cool. Especially as he turns red right before he dies. Dollop is the final obstacle in your journey to procure all five strings. Once you have all five of the strings, you can then play the harp to send you to the kingdom of Afralona. Dollop bounces around the screen, sending out smaller versions of himself. You may never look at grape Jell-O the same ever again
Eyesis is a gigantic spinning pyramid with, ahem, top defense. Its only weak spot being its eye up top. You're gonna have to display your dexterity as Eyesis spins around with very sinister intentions. Once again this boss is not so bad once you suss out his pattern. So far, I found Bonehead to be the most effective and challenging boss. So if you can thwart Bonehead, then these next handful of bosses shouldn't be too hard. Their bark is far tougher than their bite. Still, they all look BADASS and feel awesome to take down
The troll is actually not a boss but he's such a cool design I thought I'd go ahead and take a moment to shine the spotlight on him [... looks like you literally have -Ed.] Trolls meet you out on the overworld map, taking you to a separate single screen where it is a fight to the finish. You can finish the game without fighting a single troll, but it would be ill-advised. Beating trolls has benefits such as gaining an extra life meter whenever you've conquered a world. Trolls come in various colors, just like in real life: equal opportunity trolls. See, games can be educational. Their only form of offense is hopping your way. Trolls can be tricky due to their size and the small single screen
Billy Bones, the maniacal captain of the ghostly galleon, never stops shooting those exploding cannonballs until he's stone cold dead. Unrelenting, unforgiving. He doesn't think. He doesn't feel. He doesn't stop. Pumping out cannonballs at an alarming rate, Billy is straight up savage. Spinning and shooting like a nutjob, Billy's all that stands between you and Death Island. Beat Mr. Bones and advance to Ice Palace... Sonia's last stand. But, mind you, no one's been able to ever defeat the bony one. Will you?
Are ya ready at last for the final showdown? Sonia's tough as nails and is only vulnerable in the face during a certain period of time, and to make matters even worse, she deals out fireballs which move around the screen. Thankfully, these fireballs can be shot down, but they do take several shots to eradicate. Sonia's cloak turns more and more red as her health wears down. By the time she is a crimson red, your heartbeat is racing a million beats a minute. It took me roughly 30 tries to beat her. I came close several times but a boneheaded mistake would cost me the battle. Finally, I locked in and kicked her ass. I've since tried to beat her a second time, but have never been able to. She's a fittingly difficult end boss
The ad made the boss fights look completely badass and SCARY
This spell proves to be extremely handy later on, as you shall see
Early on spells and weapons are out in the open. Not so later on...
The many secrets within Equinox made exploring very satisfying!
Because these guys can only be killed when shot in the back (the only part of their fat bodies not covered up with armor), the slow spell is the only way to kill these bastards. For the hassle you get a green key. A key can be used only once. Gotta collect 'em all!
Sometimes killing all enemies on screen earns you a key. Other times you'll get a token. Either way, securing the latest key or token is a rush. It's what makes Equinox addicting
A game of this immense size can quickly be ruined by poor design. Thankfully, the keys and tokens are all placed in perfect position. Equinox is a giant puzzle where each piece connects and has its own place. Be ready to make countless leaps of faith, including the kind where you must bend in mid-air. These mid-air jumps were always fun, albeit tricky
Think of P.U.S.H as short for PUSH UNTIL SOMETHING HAPPENS
The jumps become progressively more difficult. Imagine inching yourself all the way to the edge of a platform, and then leaping as high and far as you can to barely land on the edge of the next platform. The jumps are doable yet very brutal; therein lies the brilliance
Partly what accounts for the jumps being so difficult has to do with the lack of shadows. Too many times it's hard to determine exactly where a platform is. Therefore, seemingly easy jumps can easily be miscalculated. It takes some time and patience to work out the kinks but the game was so addictive that I found myself saying, "JUST ONE MORE TRY"
Many of the rooms have some sort of puzzle to work out. Some are simpler than others, while some involve multiple gimmicks. Here you have to first push a block over before leaping on top of the iron gate. Wait for it to rise and then grab the token. SUH-WEET!
Here you have to contend with a very frisky ghost in (way too) close quarters. Then make your way to the top of the gate while avoiding the spikes to collect the token. Good stuff
Just south of Deeso, Atlena is nothing more than a handful of villages supported by wooden platforms. Atlena floats above the murky dungeon world of a sunken castle
Atlena creates a wonderful underwater atmosphere. Unfortunately, what these shots don't show are the constant water currents that flow throughout. The whole level's breathtaking
Gotta love all the seaweed that's strewn about the place. The enormous eggs add an extra sense of mystery and intrigue. The Green Devil there can only be killed with the zap spell
Atlena is where Equinox ramps up the difficulty big time. Many who have played through the game often cite Atlena as one of the hardest areas of the game. I didn't find it too bad
I just have to show the awesome watery visuals of this world ^_^
PRO TIP: Atlena is flooded [HAR HAR -Ed.] with invisible doors...
It's not a stretch at all to say that Atlena is absolutely mesmerizing
Some tokens can only be acquired by entering an invisible door
When stuck in a room with no key, try finding a hidden entrance
Some hidden entrances boggle the mind, so explore everywhere
South of Tori, Quagmire (love that name) is a swampy, fetid place worthy of its name. It's difficult to navigate; death surrounds you. Some of the most brutal jumps take place here
Each world has its own unique feel and vibe. Quagmire has a sick atmosphere. The mix of greens, blues and purples blend to create a gorgeous and haunting underground universe
Quagmire gave me serious fits. There are some tortuous pixel perfect jumps. One of the trickiest ones is trying to jump from a moving platform on to a platform surrounded by death on either side. It's brutal. But its saving grace is the game's "one more try" quality
Each hub entrance drops you into a different part of the dungeon. Each hub is connected. A rope ladder allows you to exit. This is valuable because other than the save spell (which is found late in the game), exiting a hub's the only way to save. And when in doubt, push!
Things got even crazier when the evil programmers decided to throw in platforms which automatically slide you off unless you pushed in the opposite direction. Of course, falling off at any point meant an early death and room reset. It certainly tests your sanity at times
This room killed me 40 times until I realized, you can't jump OVER the taller one; rather, you had to jump over the smaller one and twist in mid-air to land safely on the other side
Some of the more clever puzzles involved using the bad guys to unintentionally lend you a helping hand. Sometimes, you can't kill them if you want to grab a key or token. Other times you can only get a key or token after killing all the enemies in a room. It's this back and forth mystery that makes it so much fun to play. And thankfully, enemies respawn in certain rooms if you mess up. Well, except for one infamous glitch crashing room, ahem
Like Atlena's crazy hidden doors, Quagmire has its fair share too
When an enemy touches you on the overworld map, you go here
[Folks, I can only apologize. God bless you for still reading! -Ed.]
PRO TIP: To get that elusive key, examine the walls behind you...
Weapons and spells are harder to access as the game progresses
Move to the edge of each ball to get just the right angle. Fun stuff
Afralona is BALLS TO THE WALLS [Don't ever review Ballz -Ed.]
7. GHOST SHIP
No turning back now. Can you find the ghost ship's whereabouts?
It's a nice gimmick that makes the Ghost Ship a STIFF challenge!
8. ICE PALACE
The Twin Swords help greatly in evening the odds against Sonia
Sometimes keys were harder to attain than the tokens themselves
The last battle is as intense as climbing into bed with 1,000 tigers. [Hey man... whatever your fantasy is. I'm not here to judge... -Ed.]
ICE PALACE'S GAME STOPPING FLAW DEBUNKED
Before making the trek in Equinox, I did something I rarely ever do... I searched for reviews and opinions of it online. I came across a post claiming that the last world has a game crippling flaw... if you forget to grab even just one key and you pass a certain point, then there is no point of return, thus leaving you in a dead zone forced to start a new game. I thought I reached that point of no return here when I failed to acquire a certain key. I crossed an invisible block which only becomes visible once you step off the ledge. This allows you to clear the spikes below. But in trying to backtrack, I scaled those two pillars there, jumping off each one. And every time, I would land on the spikes and die. No matter how hard I tried, I could not clear the spikes. I was, in a nutshell, stuck. And screwed
By this point I was already in a lengthy back and forth email discussion with the webmaster of the highly underrated retro gaming site Flying Omelette. He wrote a great review for Equinox that I had read years ago and it always resonated with me. I love his work and I'm a fan of his overall style. It's too bad he does not update much these days. Shout out to you, bro. Your site is appreciated, and that Equinox shrine is damn helpful. Anyway, he told me it's wrong; you CAN safely backtrack in that room. But you must not jump. All one had to do was simply step off the ledge and a hidden block will reveal itself. D'oh. Of the 20-30 times I died trying to backtrack this bloody bit, why didn't I ever once simply step off?! Every once in a while, you eat a little humble pie. In particular, when it comes to playing some of the harder games this hobby has to offer... of which... this ranks up there with any other title from the glorious 16-bit era
GHOST SHIP'S POTENTIALLY LETHAL GAME STOPPING FLAW
If you aren't careful, ya might have to start the game from scratch
Props to FLYING OMELETTE for the heads up. Good lookin' out!
You get four save slots. You would be wise to use multiple files...
THE GREAT EQUINOX, ER, EQUALIZER
You're not quite invincible, but you do get infinite lives with this
With infinite lives and magic, you can die as many times as you like, but you always come back. It's nice and works well for this game especially seeing as how it's a brutal 1 hit and you're dead sort of game. Not only that, but the "difficult to make things out" perspective and questionable collision detection is thrown out the window with this code. I obviously limited my spell usage but I tell ya -- having infinite lives made it so much more enjoyable
In a game like this, there is no shame in making it a bit more fair
WHAT THE CRITICS SAID
Although released in '94, Equinox first appeared in gaming magazines as early as late '92. In fact, it's featured on the 2nd issue of GameFan. The import version was even reviewed that issue, but the US version would not be reviewed until some 15 issues later. Equinox fared well with the critics. EGM gave it scores of 7, 7, 8, 8 and 8. GameFan rated it 90 and 96%. Super Play, who was notoriously hard pressed to hand out 90+ percent ratings, awarded the game 90%.It should be noted that GameFan rated this game a second time when it hit American shores in early '94. At that point, GameFan changed its reviewing system for a couple of months. Rather than giving an overall like score, they simply tallied up the numbers from five categories. I never liked it, and apparently neither did they or the readers, as the magazine soon returned to its classic review format :) Equinox was featured on the cover of GameFan's issue number 2
For a couple months in '94, GameFan changed up its review style
It reeked of laziness. Nobody liked it. Thank God they went back
Super Play loved Equinox... ranking it #47 on their TOP 100 LIST
It's definitely not for everybody though, but damn, I really liked it
Equinox is a game I had been wondering about for 20+ years before I finally got to play it. I had HIGH hopes for it as a kid back in '94, but until you finally play and experience a title for yourself, you just never know if it's truly any good or not. And there's always this sense of excitement with some apprehension. You hope it does not fall short of your imagination after all these years. I'm happy to say that it met my expectations. From huge intimidating bosses to atmospheric labyrinths, Equinoxpermeates this lonely feeling of being the last man on earth. It's just you, your mettle, and the voices screaming in your head, as you stare down the deadly dungeons and catacombs lost to time in which mankind was never meant to explore. Equinox is intoxicating; an arduous quest sure to frustrate you as much as it will reward Equinox BEWITCHES you with its long labyrinths and big bosses
On top of that, Equinox has some amazing visuals. Each world takes you right to the heart; the ancient civilization of Deeso is filled with grotesque statues leering at you, as if to say no one has passed here before, and neither will you. Quagmire takes you to a lush plant underworld with death snapping at your heels each step of the way. The airy caverns of Tori conveys this grand sense of being DEEP below the surface, staving off evil spirits and armored knights. The sound deserves a special shout out, as famous composer Tim Follin (best known for SNES Rock N Roll Racing) did some of his finest work here. Man, that ambiance; pushing giant marble stones across the floor never sounded more convincing. And I love the sound effect of a token dropping any time you enter a room with a token to be found. It cues to you that the room has a token. Each realm's complimented by Follin's masterful command of sound and music. The game is tough as hell. While the perspective can be a bitch and cost you many lives you feel you should not have lost, it's not enough to bring the game down. Especially with the code, Equinox is mystifying. It's one of those games where ya just have to see the next room... you just have to give it "one more shot." There's simply nothing quite like it on the SNES
Graphics: 9 Sound: 9 Gameplay: 8.5 Longevity: 7
Double Silver Award
Equinox's ad was LEGENDARY. It won Ad of the Year back in '94
The idea was you could NOT beat the game throughout your life!
You eventually die failing to beat it. Your grandson takes over and wins. He would have wanted it that way :)
How FITTING is the theme of family legacy and youth taking over
Screw catch. Nothing bonds dad and son like a magic carpet ride