While it boosts one of the greatest gaming libraries in the history of mankind, the SNES will never be mistaken as a system home to a wide plethora of darker, more mature games. One of the few that truly fit this class though is Majyuuou (AKA King of Demons) exclusively released on the Super Famicom. Just look at that box art. You’d think it’s gotta be the greatest thing since sliced bread. Sadly, it never quite lives up to the lofty expectations built inside of my head nearly 10 years ago when I first played it, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad game. It just means I was hoping for a little more.
At first glance, “Resident Evil meets Castlevania” crossed my mind. A most enticing combination indeed. Well, when viewed from such, I guess it was doomed to fail. But I’m getting ahead of myself, as per usual, so let’s rewind it back a little bit…
WILLING AND ABEL
You are Abel. Your wife (Maria) and daughter (Iria) have been captured by your former friend Bayer who sold his soul to the devil. With them Bayer intends to revive the KING OF DEMONS. You’ll do anything to save your family, even taking on various demonic forms yourself. This gives it a bit of an Altered Beast feel.
You start the game out in human form. Here you can do the following:
Do a downward kick in mid-air
Fire his 9MM gun
Fire a power shot (hold attack until the power bar flashes)
Transform into different types of demons
Majyuuou opens with you battling Bayer on the bridge to hell. It’s basically a mere scrimmage, with Bayer eventually retreating. The door on the far right swings open, and your foray into the darkness begins…
A DESCENT INTO MADNESS
Things start out easy. Low entry winged demons are one and done. A fairy helper acts much like how an “option” does in SHMUPS.
Just when you think “This is TOO easy,” the earth rumbles and the ugliest, biggest grub you’ve ever seen quickly slithers your way!
The parasitic creature traps you into a dead end. Fortunately, or so you think, the ground collapses, sending you even deeper into the rotting depths of hell.
Mutant frogs, gun toting she-devils and hordes of zombies greet you with open, decaying arms. One shot cleans the zombies’ heads right off while two seals the deal. Out of the corner of your eye you can see victims pinned up against the perfidious walls like grand prizes, but there’s no time for sentimentality — you know you could very well be next! With hell’s army hot on your tail, you come to a decrepit elevator. There’s no choice but to enter the dank, rotting interior…
Exiting the elevator, you’re visited by an old friend. I do love the attention to detail in this game. Look at those nasty veins. It’s a fight to the finish.
March forward and meet the Barons of Hell. These big bastards are tough, requiring 12 shots to kill.
WHEW! That’s only the first stage. It’s all very short though, but you gotta love the assortment of mini-bosses and demonic enemies. On a system sorely lacking these such things, it’s a very much welcomed sight! But can Mayjuuou keep up the pace? Sadly, although every fiber of my being at this point wishes it were so, I’d be lying if I said I thought it did.
Stage 2 is a plant themed world with buildings in complete ruin. Green pods releases little red fairies. Kill ‘em, then you can eat their fallen carcasses to regain health. Brutally creative, and you know you love it.
Everything’s going smoothly until you cross an old abandoned building. You hear a trembling and know it’s not JUST the racing of your heart, but that something BIG and BAD comes your way…
If it catches you with its iron mandible it’ll drag you up and down the screen like a rag doll.
Defeat the insect mini-boss and then find yourself eye to eye (no pun intended) with yet another mid-boss!
The Plant Queen guards the exit of stage two. Put this wannabe Empress out of her misery and then get ready to enter the ride of your life, literally. A spook-filled speeding train rolling past a cemetery. Something afoul is in the air…
Within 10 seconds this mini-boss appears. It only has 1 attack: throwing its two scythes at you, which will spin in place for a few seconds. Just leave some room on the left and you’ll be OK. Battle the rest of the minions on the train and soon you’ll meet a pair of twins unlike any you’ve met before…
[Can’t be better than the Synch twins I met during the summer of ’89 -Ed.]
You are completely helpless as you watch the two monsters kill this innocent lass. Her banshee-like scream as she perishes is actually somewhat eerie and unsettling. After these two you immediately face the end boss of stage 3.
Once the disgusting bubbly mass is blown to bits, the Ghost Train is rendered helpless and crashes through the castle walls.
Level 4 begins and from here on out, I’ll let you discover what horrors await. Will you be able to stop Bayer? Will the King of Demons arise? Can Abel save his family?
There are 3 different demon transformations, with stronger versions for each. Each has a unique regular / super shot. One demon form can flip, another teleports, etc. Find out which form works best for which stages
To get the good ending, you must use all 3 forms at some point before the final level. Doing so unlocks the 4th and ultimate transformation…
You are human only for stage 1, unless you opt to not touch an orb after defeating the end level bosses, which would make the game more challenging
The beginning plot is in Japanese, but throughout the levels there is no text. There is an English fan translation for those who want to experience it in full
Press select at the title screen to activate the options menu. As a side note, try pressing select 15 times. Done correctly, you’ll access a level select cheat in the options menu. Very handy…
The helper is very useful. If you die it’ll revive you for a 2nd go and you won’t waste a life. Some levels contain a green aura symbolizing the helper — touch it to gain its powers
There are health refills here and there. Stand over and press down
The health bar increases as your point total goes up. You can continue forever, but you’ll start at level 1 health and for the later levels, it’s simply not enough
On a system lacking in these sort of darker, more mature titles, it’s nice to see a game such as this exist. It certainly helps to fill a void, but part of me, even nearly 10 years later, can’t help but still view this game as somewhat of a letdown. Now don’t get me wrong. I enjoy this game enough, but it pains me to think WHAT IF. It’s a perfect example of a game being “solid” yet “disappointing” all at once.
That said, this is a quality game. It’s just not the epic gem I was hoping for. Looking for a ghoulish action platforming shoot ‘em up sort of good time? With macabre visuals up the wazoo and some demonic transformations thrown in for good measure? Then check out Majyuuou. Just make sure you leave the lofty expectations at the door.
Renting video games every Saturday afternoon was a big part of my childhood. It’s a bygone era that I hold near and dear to my heart. As a kid growing up in the late ’80s and early ’90s, few things could match the sheer joy of watching Saturday morning cartoons before heading out to town with your old man to rent the latest video game. I have so many fond memories of this childhood weekend ritual. Sure, streaming and online content has made things faster and more accessible than they were 25, 30 years ago. But it comes at a price. Part of the fun of renting games and movies 20+ years ago was the actual time you spent riding around with your dad, being in awe of seeing all the games you wanted to rent, and eagerly anticipating the drive home to play the game of the week you had chosen after careful consideration. In my generation this sort of experience was, quite frankly, priceless.
So if you’re like me and fondly recall those halcyon days, well then my friend you’ve come to the right place. Kick your feet up, crack open a cold one, and join me for a sentimental stroll down memory lane. It’s a look back at a more innocent time in our lives. Agolden time.
IT’S TIME TO (BE KIND AND) REWIND
My brother Kevin and I rented a TON of games in our day. Actually, I rented them. Kevin made me do his dirty work, as he was too lazy (and shy) to go rent games on his own accord. 90% of the time he had a specific game for me to get. If it was rented out, then I had freedom to choose. Sadly for me at least, most of the time his choice title was there. If not at the first store, then surely the fifth.
However, I secretly enjoyed doing the dirty work for him. I have very fond memories of renting. I loved all the little (and semi-lengthy) trips that my dad and I shared. Each Saturday afternoon we made the trek together. He was a busy man, but he always awarded me and Kevin with one rental each Saturday. Looking back, I think it was more than just simply renting video games but alas, I digress. I always looked forward to our weekend ritual, rain or shine.
From roughly 1987 to 1995, we must have rented 200 games between the Nintendo, Genesis and Super Nintendo. Years later, I rented some PS1 games for Kevin, but it was few and far. The renting bug eventually faded as my bro entered high school and gradually lost interest in gaming. It wasn’t much long before the renting bug died completely sometime circa 1998 or 1999.
From the mom and pops to the big boys, here are some memories and tales of my favorite childhood video stores.
I didn’t rent a ton from Blockbuster, as I found the alternatives much better, but my dad and I occasionally stopped by. They were a bit on the expensive side, $4 or $5 to rent a Super Nintendo game, but the plus side was you could keep your rentals for up to 5 days. That was their main selling point; it was rather enticing to think you could keep a game throughout an entire school week. But my mom didn’t like the idea of us gaming throughout a school week, so Blockbuster was seldom utilized in my renting rotation.
My best memory involving Blockbuster Video: it was my first job! A new one was being constructed just a 5 minute walk away from my house. I was a ripe 17 years old. It was October of 2000. I told my friends we should all apply and work there. My friend Eddie got the job one night. The next night I headed over while the store was still being worked on. The manager interviewed me on the spot and next thing I know he goes, “See you next Friday, kid.”
Working at Blockbuster was mostly a great experience. I was there for ten months before quitting in August of 2001. I was starting college later that month and I wanted to focus on that. Yup, just mere weeks before the 9/11 tragedy.
Eddie stayed on board until November 2001. He often told me it just wasn’t the same without me. We had a competition to see who could rack up more free rentals. We were able to get 5 free rentals a week, and we always had to max it out, even if we didn’t have time to watch the movies. In the end, the computer displayed a whopping 172 free rentals under my name! That’s roughly $775 in value.
I remember when Nikita and Judy joined the team. Oh man. I’ll never forget those two. They were from our same high school and let’s just say they had a reputation. And as I would find out, for DAMN good reason! Judy was very friendly, especially. The first day we worked together, I was putting a DVD on the top shelf. As I was doing this, she squeezed in to put a DVD on the bottom shelf, and… and…
*Cue NBA Jam announcer*
[What happened? -Ed.]
They say you never forget your first time, er, job. I believe that.
My first love. I can blame Evergreen Video and its owner, Tom, just a common man, working hard for the American dream, as the source that corrupted me. One day in the late 1980’s my dad was driving me and my brother Kevin around. We spotted Evergreen Video by chance. It began the whole renting craze for us.
I can still hear that little bell that rung each time the door opened. It was a small store with lots of family videos. Up front there was a wooden case full of NES goodness. The smell of the oak wood shelves permeates to this day. If there was ever a quintessential mom ‘n pop rental store, Evergreen Video was surely it.
Tom was a cool guy, and he became sort of like an uncle to me and Kevin. He owned the store and worked there every Saturday afternoon when we would visit. Back then, I even rented my fair share of games that I wanted. I basically picked the games with cool covers. I still remember some of my choice titles.
Tom was so good to us — he even held games for me and Kevin. My brother would call to ask for a game and Tom would hold it for us up to 24 hours. I remember him telling us once, with a big smile, “Only for you guys.”
One time we came in to pick up TMNT II: The Arcade Game. We met Tom’s son that day, and he was playing the game on the small TV they had. I still recall vividly to this day feeling bad that he had to turn off the game so we could rent it. He was on level 4 battling the wolf boss. Funny the little details you remember.
My brother and I were huge Double Dragon fans. We owned and played Double Dragon II to death. So when we found out part III was out, we figured it would be the Holy Grail. Besides, just look at that epic box art. We rented it from Evergreen Video, but it was disappointing for a number of reasons. One, the actual game itself wasn’t as good as we were hoping for. Two, after the first level the game crashed. We received a faulty copy. My dad drove us back to Evergreen, he explained the situation to Tom and Tom was more than happy to give us a no frills exchange.
But here’s the really cool thing. 3 weeks later, Tom told us he received a new copy of Double Dragon III, AND he was holding it, just for Kevin and me! Even though I was a little kid, I remember being blown away by his love and generosity. He really was like another uncle to us. This epitomized the kind of cat that Tom was.
When the Super Nintendo came to the US in late 1991, Tom bought some SNES games to keep up with the changing of the guard. I rented Ultraman: Towards The Future, and sadly, that would be the last game I ever rented from Evergreen Video.
In early 1992, my dad, Kevin and I made our usual Saturday afternoon trek to Evergreen Video. Two reasons we always left the house around noon:
We couldn’t miss our Saturday morning cartoons
The store didn’t open until noon
[Good reason -Ed.]
Unfortunately, that trip would prove to be our last. Tom told us he and the family were moving on. And of course, with my being so young at the time, I didn’t quite get it. I just assumed he would still be there next weekend, and the weekend after that, because it’s Tom. And that’s what Tom does. Your friendly neighborhood mom ‘n pop video store owner.
I didn’t understand the magnitude of his words until a short month or two later when my mom took me shopping. As we passed Evergreen Video, what was once a simple but lovely store, with so many good memories, I stole a glance inside. A part of me expected to still see the wooden shelves, and Tom’s friendly mug situated behind the register counter. Instead, I saw an empty store, torn down in shambles, the floor littered with debris. I felt like crying as I peered in. I lost a little bit of my innocence that day. From that moment on I forever realized that things don’t last forever, no matter how much you want them to.
The stuff dreams are made of. That describes the essence of Game Hunter in a nutshell. They exploded on the scene in 1992 and not before long, developed a cult-like following in my town. They catered to the diehard: NES, Genesis, Neo Geo, SNES, portables and every other system in-between.
Not only did Game Hunter have every system under the sun, they also carried a few arcade cabinets. It was here that I cut my teeth on World Heroes (my all-time favorite franchise from strictly a sentimental value). There was nothing better than scouring through the hundreds of games they carried, then plopping a quarter into one of their cabs while your dad went to check out. Gotta love the simple pleasures of life.
On top of all this, they also carried anime. I’ll never forget when my old best friend, Nelson, rented “Devil Hunter.” We watched it that evening in his room with our friends and Nelly’s little brother, Johnny. I was shocked at the amount of nudity! We tried our best to kick out Johnny, at least Nelson and I did, but we were outmatched by the fierce curiosity of a seven year old. We tried shielding his innocent eyes with Nelson’s pillows, but to no avail. It was sheer chaos as the other guys hooted and hollered at every nipple shot. Ah, to be 10 years old again.
However, the greatest thing about them were the import games they carried. It gave Game Hunter a truly special mystique. Seeing a wall covered with exotic Super Famicom boxes NEVER failed to amaze my little 10 year old eyes. Keep in mind this was back in the early ’90s when none of us had the internet, or a disposable income, or instant access to these titles that we enjoy today. It was truly mind-blowing to see so many imports in front of your face back in 1992.
The first import I ever played and rented was a little Kaneko fighting game by the name of Power Athlete (Power Moves).I rented quite a few imports courtesy of the almighty Game Hunter over the years. It was always a treat to see the Japanese version of a highly anticipated SNES game on the shelf MONTHS before the US version was due. I’ll never forget that fateful day in the summer of ’94 that Nelson and I saw the import versions of Fighter’s History, King of the Monsters 2 and Muscle Bomber (Saturday Night Slam Masters). But, that’s a story for another time. Game Hunter’s import selection was definitely what made them so legendary. Recall that back then, import did not mean just another version of a game but rather, they carried a strong mythical aura.
They also saved games by request. Unfortunately their service was questionable at times. Once I had them hold Fatal Fury for the Genesis. I rounded up my dad and when we got there, the worker said,“I thought you meant the Super Nintendo version. We don’t have the Genesis one.” He didn’t seem very apologetic, either.
My dad absolutely flipped out. And he rarely ever did. If anything he treated everyone with TOO MUCH respect (if that’s possible). But in this instance, the old man truly lost it. Game Hunter was a decent 20 minute drive away, so my dad went to town on the poor dude for wasting our time and gas. I think the term kids use today is, “Owned.”
Game Hunter ended up closing its doors in the late ’90s.
All in all though, I’ll always harbor very fond memories of Game Hunter. The buzz it created and generated within my gaming group was unmatched, and truly a sign of the times. Times that have long passed on…
A couple years ago I was browsing through a topic called “Stores That Don’t Exist Anymore.” When I saw this picture, I had to do a double take. Was it, could it be? Yes! It’s the actual Hollywood Video I frequented as a kid. Man, this picture brings back so many memories. The mountains in the back. How TARGET was right across the street and just to the right of the Target sign was a classic mom and pop rental shop VIDEO MART (which I’ll get to later below). One time my mom was shopping at Target and I decided to sit on the little lawn right there by the Target sign, reading Goosebumps book #26 “My Hairiest Adventure.” Man for some reason that’s a memory that vividly sticks out in my mind. The feeling of being free. Out on the lawn reading my favorite book on a crisp late afternoon in January. Cars zipping by with Hollywood Video as a pleasant backdrop to my reading. A cool little breeze in the air. My own slice of Heaven.
The Hollywood Video in my town opened in 1994 and was only a 5 minute walk away from my house. I made a beeline after school one day. It was the third rental store in a HALF MILE radius. It was the golden age of video stores. A big purple sign draped over the window proudly declared:
FREE MEMBERSHIP! GRAND OPENING!
Like a miner rushing for gold, I made a beeline for the door. The SNES selection was enormous! I spotted Double Dragon V andFighter’s History. I grabbed the former and bolted to the front of the line.
I had $5 cash on me, and Hollywood Video used the same type of renting procedure as did Blockbuster: 5 days roughly $5.
The lady looked at me with her eyebrow raised. It was my first trip to a rental store all by myself and I must have been a sight for sore eyes, standing there all giddy like I had just consumed a gallon of sugar.
“Um, does someone in your family have a membership?”
I replied innocently, “Naw, but your sign says I can get one for free.”
“You would need a driver’s license and credit card for that, though.”
Oh man, I felt like such a damn fool
I have so many fond memories of all those late school nights strolling up and down the horror section and perusing through their 16-bit titles while my dad bought groceries across the street. Of special note was how humongous this place was. At 8,500 glorious square feet, it was the damn biggest rental store I had ever seen.
I captured this shot of my childhood Hollywood Video on a rainy Monday night back in 2006. This location eventually folded in 2010. It was the last renting relic of my youth standing.
Much like Street Fighter II and Doom did, once a phenomenon sweeps a nation, out come the clones. It was no different for video rental stores in the early ’90s. Ultimate Video was perhaps the quintessential example of such. Opening in 1993, they had a mom ‘n pop feel but with the size to match any Blockbuster or Hollywood Video. I really loved the aesthetic of this store. It was also near my cousin’s house. Ultimate Video’s neon green sign lit up the night sky, dazzling you with its flash and glitz. It was the first thing you saw coming off the freeway, and it always drew me in like a moth to flame.
One vivid memory I have in particular of Ultimate Video was renting Halloween 4. As a kid that movie really creeped me out. It really nailed down the atmosphere of Halloween.
Ultimate Video quietly faded away in the late ’90s.
This mom ‘n pop was much larger than the average mom ‘n pop. It had a huge selection of movies, and a small, but memorable game section.
To this day, I remember the funky Sega Master System boxes, like Alex Kidd in Miracle World. U.S. Video was right next to the library, so it was quite convenient. Since my mom took me to the library weekly, I was always able to convince her to let me go to U.S. Video right across the street. Funny thing was, for as much as I frequented this store, rarely did I rent from them. Mostly, I walked the aisles staring at the horror movie boxes and thumbing through their tiny game selection.
OK, confession time. As a kid one of my favorite Genesis games was Fighting Masters. I played it years later in 2006. It was one of those experiences that leave you scratching your head. “Man, what was I thinking all those years ago?!”
The best thing about U.S. Video though were the two arcade cabs they had at opposite ends of their store. On one side you had the mega popular (and always crowded) Street Fighter II cab. On the other end you had a Neo Geo MVS that featured Fatal Fury, Sengoku, King of the Monsters and World Heroes. While I was first exposed to World Heroes at Game Hunter, it was U.S. Video where I played that game the most. The MVS cab was usually open as everyone was busy playing SF II at the other end of the store. Perfectly fine by me! I was content playing World Heroes hassle-free.
I remember fondly the times my mom would go grocery shopping, and luckily enough for me, U.S. Video was just across the street. As my mom bought apples, oranges and pears, I snapped bones and set human bodies on fire. Being on my own as a 9 year old kid, even if it was just for 20 minutes, gave me an incredible sense of freedom and adventure. It’s amazing what kids got away with 25 years ago compared to today. How times have changed.
One evening there was a tough shot 20 something year old playing World Heroes. He was using Janne. I challenged him, using Hanzo. There was a young female employee standing behind the counter, watching with great interest as this little 9 year old kid challenged this 20 something year old punk. He was extremely cocky. Two rounds later, I left him in a bloody and twisted heap. He quietly walked away with one massively bruised ego. I looked over my shoulder and saw that the girl watching had the fattest smile on her face. I still recall that vividly ^_^
And when I wasn’t playing World Heroes or checking out the back of game boxes, I wandered around the many towering wooden shelves of videos. Their horror section sticks out in memory, with the cover of Child’s Play 2 leaving a lasting impression[Gee, I can’t imagine why -Ed.]
U.S. Video shut down in the mid ’90s.
Perhaps the smallest video store I have ever seen. Like Evergreen, it was a family-owned gig, lots of wooden shelves and they would hold games and movies for you. Throughout the early-mid ’90s they held countless WWF new releases for me. SummerSlam ’92, Survivor Series ’93 and so on. Sometimes the waiting list was quite lengthy. Looking back, it was quite a unique system. They made house calls when your movie came in. I still remember the owner calling me one night. “Steve, Leprechaun 2 is back, waiting for you.”
Their small SNES section was not impressive, but it was cheap to rent and the store scored major gas points with my dad — it was only half a mile away from home.
The year was 1989. One night my crazy Uncle Jimmy took me to Video Mart to rent a movie. I saw the cover of Halloween and in my naive 6 year old mind, I thought “Halloween? Cool, I love trick-or-treating!” I begged my uncle to rent it, and he obliged. I spent most of the movie watching it from behind the sofa, and later that night I had a nightmare that Michael Myers was stalking me around the house. And I’ve been a fan ever since. Go figure.
After my family moved in early 1996, I returned to Video Mart one night in late 1996 to rent The Combatribes. Surprisingly, the owner remembered me, and he asked where I had been. You get that kind of connection at these mom and pops that you don’t quite get at the chains like Blockbuster and Hollywood. At any rate, I came back that night because I was homesick. My dad drove me back to my childhood town because he was awesome like that. The Combatribes was the second import game I ever rented and it was a game I rented like 7 times during a 6 year span at 5 different stores. My brother and I beat The Combatribes a couple times before my dad returned it the following night. It was just the nostalgic kick I needed to help me get over my new town blues, at least for one weekend, anyhow.
Video Mart ceased to exist, to my sorrow, for sentimental reasons y’see, in the late ’90s.
Back in the day it was a pretty happening place, and I rented a lot of games there. They had all the SNES games in thick transparent cases. Movies were encased in plastic cases where you had to squeeze and shake for the VHS to slide out.
If you recall from the beginning of this article, I did most of the renting for my brother. He was too shy and lazy to go rent games on his own accord, so he shipped his little bro.
And after years of doing anything constantly, you get to be a bit of a pro at it. A master, even. Kevin told me once, and I never forgot this: “Steve, you sure know how to rent the hell out of games.” It became a badge of honor. Although there were so many times where I saw games that I wanted to rent, I almost always came home with the title my brother requested. I had a 98% kill rate, and I know it sounds silly, but it was something I took pride in.
The summer of ’94 saw my greatest challenge: Super Street Fighter II. I raced to the SNES section madly thumbing through the thick glass display cases. There were a few other guys huddled around, and I knew they were after the same Holy Grail. Instinct took over and I sprinted to the counter. A pimple-faced male employee, who looked like he was 3 weeks fresh out of his senior prom, glanced down at me. Panting, I asked him if he had a copy of Super Street Fighter II safely tucked away back there. I figured it was so rare that maybe they keep it behind the counter in order to avoid the inevitable bloodshed that would occur in the aisle if not. His expression suddenly changed. Flashing me a clandestine smile, as if I’d just shared the secret password he was waiting desperately all day to hear, he reached down behind the counter in dramatic fashion. “Kid, it’s your lucky day. This here is the last one we have.” And right there, in that moment, my childhood was made.
I was absolutely blown away. Time froze. It was the longest 5 minute drive home ever. When Kevin opened the door, you could tell that he was expecting the worst. Even if I was the master of renting, renting Super Street Fighter IIsuccessfully on launch daywas right next to building a rocketship in your garage. Knowing that, I had to mess with him a little bit, so I told him some BS story about how I was too late, etc. He nodded compliantly. “Well, you took your best shot,” he chirped. “YOU BET YOUR ASS I DID!” I eagerly revealed the prized trophy I had kept hidden behind my back.
The Wherehouse, sadly, died off along with the ’90s. But I’ll always have the memories.
Renting was just part of an innocent era that’s sadly gone by the wayside in today’s digital age. Technology has taken over, and simple innocent pleasures like video rental stores have long gone the way of the dinosaur. A relic of the past, I feel sad thinking about how my children will never get to experience this basic childhood joy. Wandering up and down countless aisles surrounded by hundreds of movies and games was blissful. It was like a museum of pure entertainment overload. Good innocent times from a bygone era. It’s really a shame kids these days only know of Redbox and NetFlix. I like those modern conveniences too, but damn if it’ll ever match the pure joy and wonder of visiting the local rental store on a Saturday afternoon. If you were a kid growing up in the early-mid 1990’s, it was a ritual and a way of life. There’s something incredibly sacred about those old video stores and memories.
The joy of renting, whether it was “OH MY GOD! IMPORT!”, connecting with your fellow man, watching your dad stick up for your pride and honor, or snagging the final copy of a popular new release –those were some badass, bitchin’ times.
I love and will always love wrestling. Growing up, I was a huge WWF fan. A mark, “if you wheel” (R.I.P. “American Dream” Dusty Rhodes). With WrestleMania right around the corner, I find myself reminiscing fondly about my WrestleMania weekend experience this time last year (2015). It also made me think of my fandom origins and what wrestling has meant to me growing up.
IT BEGAN ONE SATURDAY NIGHT IN ’87
My fandom began in 1987 when one night my uncle flipped on Saturday Night’s Main Event. I witnessed the awesome pairing of the “Immortal” Hulk Hogan and “Macho Man” Randy Savage, better known as The Mega Powers. Macho Man’s raspy, iconic voice of “Ooh yea dig it!” combined with the Hulkster’s classic trademark saying of “Eat your vitamins, train hard and say your prayers” won me over. The two colorful characters were bigger than life. And in that moment they made me, an impressionable four year old boy, believe in a greater force and a higher power, brutha.
From that point on, I was hooked for life. It was not long before my uncle took me to the local video store so we could rent the latest wrestling extravaganzas on VHS. My brother got into it as well, and for the three of us, wrestling quickly became a religion.
My uncle and I rented all our wrestling tapes from Video Mart. A mom and pop shop, Video Mart had a solid wrestling selection right next to the horror section. It was a blast gawking at the various covers. The one that sticks out in my mind even to this day is Halloween Havoc ’89. It looked more like a horror movie. I felt the only thing missing from Halloween Havoc ’89 was a white William Shatner mask. The Legion of Doom posing with that sinister pumpkin grinning in the background is firmly embedded in my soul.
BECOMING A CULTURAL PHENOMENON
Wrestling exploded beyond just television. You also had them in the form of toys. What ’80s child doesn’t remember M.U.S.C.L.E.?
But the real prize was Hasbro’s first WWF run. In the summer of 1990, my mom and brother went to Paris for vacation, leaving me and my old man to fend for ourselves. There are three things that resulted from that which I fondly recall:
I missed them dearly, especially my mom
I ate a lot of McDonald’s (my mom did all the cooking)
It was the summer that I discovered Hasbro’s WWF lineup. I never looked back
When my brother got back from Paris, he and I built our collection together slowly but surely. There were 12 figures in the original 1990 lineup. We had all of them but one…
One Saturday night, in a most shocking turn of events, my mom told me and my brother that she was taking us to Toys R Us to find the last action figure we needed — in her words – “the wrestler with the snake.”My mom was frugal but there was definitely magic in the air that night. Thanks mom.
In addition to their toys, the WWF even made trading cards, which my bro and I quickly began collecting.
Google “Lonely Virgil” for a laugh.
One day in late ’92 there was a sign at our local mall advertising an upcoming special appearance by WWF superstar Virgil. My uncle, brother and I were stoked. This was our chance to meet our first wrestler up close and personal. I wanted to ask Virgil one question: “Is wrestling fake?” I replayed the question in my head for days. But by the time I came face to face with Virgil and saw his bulging muscles, my mind went completely blank! Even though Virgil was a lower tier wrestler, he was larger than life and I found myself in sheer awe of the guy. Such is the magic of wrestling!
The WWF found more ways to penetrate the consciousness of the public in the early ’90s.
THE BEST WRESTLING WEEKEND OF MY LIFE
My childhood best friend Nelson and I grew up huge WWF fanatics. We always promised each other that one day, somehow, we would attend a WrestleMania together. Last year, we finally made good on a 20+ year childhood vow. We made the trip over and it turned out to be three days of wrestling nirvana. Join me for a look back.
NXT is WWE’s “developmental” brand.
I’ll never forget being there. The energy in that building was electric. We chanted all night long, and the wrestling was SUPERB. WWE Hall of Famer Jim Ross came out to sit at ringside and received a rousing ovation. There was a real “ECW vibe” to the whole event, and when it finally ended at 1 AM, five thousand crazed wrestling fanatics filled the streets of downtown San Jose. It was quite the scene! WrestleMania was now just two days away and you could feel this incredible buzz. Everyone was drunk on wrestling. It’s corny but I get the feels just thinking back on it.
Speaking of good ole JR, the very next morning (a mere 10 hours later) it was off to…
Jim Ross was a long time commentator of the WWE and often considered by many as pro wrestling’s best commentator of all time (with all due respect to the late great Gordon Solie). JR has accumulated a great deal of epic wrestling tales over the years, and I wasn’t about to miss out on JR Story Time.
JR opened his bit with an amusing mock phone call. It went something like this…
“Oh hey Vince. Hey listen, I’m kind of busy right now. I’ve got um, a few folks here (note: there were 800 of us, so that line drew a good laugh). I’m running a show here bah Gawd, but um, you wouldn’t know that would you? Oh, as it pertains to tomorrow night’s main event between Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns, I’m telling ya, GO WITH BROCK.”
About 90% of the room popped, while the other 10% (the Roman fanboys) quietly stewed.
All in all, a good time was had by all. JR told stories around the campfire, and then there was a Q&A session. Samoa Joe also made a special guest appearance. It was fun. Next, it was off to…
I enjoyed the Hall of Fame, but it was definitely my least favorite of the four events that weekend. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some WWE Hall of Fame. The stories are what make it great. The speeches in 2015 left something to be desired, especially compared to other years. It’d be a different story if Randy Savage were still alive and able to speak, but it was not meant to be.
Finally, it was the moment Nelson and I had been waiting 20+ years for…
Nelson and I left the show giddy like we were two kids on Christmas Eve. We rode the high of the night as we walked back to his car, with fireworks falling all around us. BEST.RASSLIN.WEEKEND.EVER.
It was great to meet fans from all over the globe that weekend. Despite being total strangers, everyone was connected through the memories we share of the business. It’s awesome having that shared connection and laugh with strangers as though you’ve known them your whole life. That’s what WrestleMania weekend is all about: fans worldwide coming together for one epic party. Wrestling has a way of bringing out the kid in you, and WrestleMania weekend is as big as it gets. Words don’t do it justice. It’s something every wrestling fan should experience at least once in their life.
And now, here’s a look at my top 10 favorite wrestlers.
10. “The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase
With his custom built expensive Million Dollar Championship title belt, Ted DiBiase was one of the very best and most consistent bad guys of late ’80s and early ’90s WWF. The man with the evil laugh never put on a single bad match. You loved to boo him but you also loved watching DiBiase wrestle. After all, few did it better than the Million Dollar Man.
9. “Rowdy” Roddy Piper
The Hot Rod was one of the best mic men in the business. He was magic on the mic. Although his in-ring work wasn’t particularly great, he always lit up a room with his endless charisma and shenanigans. Completely unpredictable and always entertaining, the Hot Rod will be fondly remembered as one of the all-time legends. One of the few wrestlers in the 1980s to truly cross over into the mainstream, he was the leading man in the 1988 cult favorite, John Carpenter’s THEY LIVE.“I have come here to chew bubble gum and kick ass. And I’m all out of bubble gum” goes down in cinema history as one of the best lines ever. Sadly, Piper passed in the late summer of 2015. He is missed, but his legacy lives on forever.
8. Jake “The Snake” Roberts
There was nothing Jake did that did NOT have a measure of meaning. No movement, no gesture, no move. Everything he did in and out of the ring served a purpose. He was one of the best psychologists that the wrestling business has ever seen. Who could ever forget his slithery python, Damien, or his infamous finishing move, the DDT? Jake blazed a trail and he did it like no one else did. When he returned to Raw for one night in 2014, it was just like Jake: EPIC.
7. “The Bad Guy” Razor Ramon
“A-yo, chico.” A cock of the head. A flick of the toothpick. And with that, the Bad Guy stole our hearts. The Man Oozin’ with Machismo, Razor burst on to the WWF scene in 1992. He was booed at first, but inevitably, fans all over the world fell in love with the Bad Guy. With his devastating Razor’s Edge finisher, Razor went on to hold the Intercontinental title four times. By far his most memorable moment in the WWF took place at WrestleMania X where Razor and Shawn Michaels stole the show in a groundbreaking Ladder Match for the undisputed, unified IC title. Razor is also widely remembered as the key spark plug that jump-started the infamous nWo faction in WCW that launched the industry altering Monday Night War.
6. Mr. Perfect AKA Curt Hennig
From his perfect entrance theme to his perfect look, Mr. Perfect was a world class athlete and entertainer. Widely regarded as one of the best Intercontinental champions of all time, nobody and I mean NOBODY sold bumps like he did. Plus, who could forget those classic sporting vignettes? Tragically, Curt’s life was cut short on February 10, 2003. But his wrestling legacy lives on.
5. “The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels
Before he became the Heartbreak Kid, Shawn Michaels competed in the tag team ranks. But mega superstardom beckoned and the Showstopper answered. One of the greatest performers I’ve ever seen, his legendary dive off the ladder at WrestleMania X remains an iconic image. HBK would go on to rightfully earn the nickname “Mr. WrestleMania.”
4. Bret “The Hitman” Hart
Bret Hart came from humble beginnings, starting out in a tag team in the WWF known as the Hart Foundation. After scratching and clawing to the top of that division, Bret broke out and found singles success as he became a prominent holder of the Intercontinental Championship title. But he truly cemented his mark on the business in Saskatoon on October 12, 1992. That’s when Bret Hart defeated the great Ric Flair to earn his first WWF Championship, ushering in a new era. Bret Hart was never the biggest guy or the flashiest guy, but he always put on the best matches. The excellence of execution, indeed.
3. The Ultimate Warrior
Intensity personified. The Ultimate Warrior was truly one of a kind. From his war paint to his tassles to his bulging muscles, he looked like a comic book super hero. And for any boy living in the late ’80s, the Ultimate Warrior was truly a comic book hero come to life. Sadly, the Warrior journeyed to parts unknown on April 8, 2014. But his legacy continues to endure, and the spirit of the Ultimate Warrior will run on for generations to come.
2. “The Immortal” Hulk Hogan
Growing up in the late ’80s, few superstars captivated your imagination quite like the Hulkster. With one tear of his shirt, or one classic “hulk up” moment in the ring, arenas all over the universe went bonkers.“Eat your vitamins, train hard and say your prayers” became a mantra for boys all over the globe in the late ’80s. Hulk Hogan was sort of this mythical figure in the world of professional wrestling. Wrestling would not be where it is today were it not for his many contributions. He wasn’t a great worker but few had the presence of the Hulkster. There’s no denying he took the industry to a whole ‘notha level, “BROTHER!”
1. “Macho Man” Randy Savage
“OOOH YEAH! DIG IT!” Often imitated but never duplicated, they broke the mold when they made the Macho Man Randy Savage. He was on another planet. When you factor in both charisma and wrestling ability, there might be none finer than the Macho Man. Always flamboyant and intense, Randy Savage carved one hell of a legacy that extended beyond the squared circle. He became the voice and face of Slim Jim. To this day whenever I’m at the checkout counter of a Target or gas station, I can’t help but think of Macho. Sadly, he passed on May 20, 2011. However, the Macho Madness lives on through the memories and moments etched in the annals of WWF history.
And now, to cap things off, here are some of the most memorable wrestling moments that have left an indelible mark on me
THE ULTIMATE CHALLENGE
The date, April the 1st, 1990. The scene, the SkyDome in Toronto. The event, WrestleMania VI. It was the most anticipated main event in wrestling history. The Ultimate Challenge. The aging world champ versus the upcoming superstar in the making. Title for title. It didn’t get any bigger than this.
The match lived up to the hype. I rewinded my tape and wore it out as a kid. I must have watched this match 50 times. It went back and forth with lots of false finishes that kept you on the edge of your seat. Finally, when the smoke cleared, a new king emerged and the torch was passed. Epic.
RETIREMENT AND REDEMPTION
The Macho Man sabotaged the Ultimate Warrior, costing him his WWF Championship at the 1991 Royal Rumble. This led to a feud for the ages that culminated in a showdown at WrestleMania VII. Not only that but it was a career ending match, raising the stakes even higher.
Speaking of high stakes, Bobby the Brain Heenan and Gorilla Monsoon had a great exchange during this match:
Heenan: Everything is on the line. Maybe the humanoids don’t understand it. EVERYTHING IS ON THE LINE.Everything they’ve worked for their whole career… the prestige, the wealth, the fortune, the fame. It’s all over here for one of them!
Monsoon: For the guy who loses, when he wakes up tomorrow morning, WHAT’S HE GONNA DO?!
Heenan: HE’S GONNA BE JUST ANOTHER HAM AND EGGER!!
The 20 minute match featured multiple false finishes. Back in 1991 this was unheard of. Especially when the Ultimate Warrior kicked out of FIVE Flying Elbow Drops. Never before had I seen such drama in a match. The Warrior would eventually score the pinfall. However, as great as this match was, what happened after made it one for the history books. After the Warrior left the ring, Macho Man’s manager, Sensational Sherri, turned on Savage with a flurry of vicious kicks. The camera then panned to Elizabeth, Macho Man’s long time partner on and off camera. Her face a teary mess. The crowd started to rise. Elizabeth, no longer able to take it, then jumped the guard rail. She ran to the ring and flung Sherri out to the floor.
A groggy Randy Savage climbed to his feet. He spotted Elizabeth. It was as if he just seen a ghost. The crowd cheered louder as Elizabeth, tears streaking down her face, stood there waiting for Savage to respond. Savage finally embraced her as the humanoids erupted. Gorilla Monsoon’s epic commentary “WHAT A WOMAN, AND WHAT A MAN!” punctuated the moment, as the camera zoomed in to show grown adults crying in the audience. It was one of wrestling’s most redemptive moments: his career “ended” but the rest of his life with his love was just beginning. Storytelling at its best.
THE ULTIMATE RETURN
By 1992, Hulkamania was starting to wane. The ’80s were long over by now, and the Hulkster was looking more and more obsolete as the years and miles added up. In fact, if you look closely you can see signs in the audience that were pro-Sid (who was supposedly the villain going into the match). Vince McMahon pushed this main event as Hulk Hogan’s “final stand.” The match was what it was. But it was the aftermath that makes it one of my favorite wrestling memories. After the match ended in a weird anticlimactic DQ, Papa Shango hit the ring. This was highly bizarre as Papa Shango wasn’t even in the Hogan-Sid program at any point prior, but clearly the two bad guys were looking to finish off Hulkamania.
God bless the Godfather but the story goes he missed his run-in cue. This resulted in an awkward botched DQ finish. As Psycho Sid went to grab a steel chair to end Hulkamania, a familiar entrance theme roared throughout the arena.
It took a few seconds for the fans to register it, as the Warrior had been out of the WWF for some time. There was no internet back then and no rumors of the Warrior coming back at all. It was the last thing on anybody’s mind. But once he came running down the aisle at 200 miles per hour, the fans lost it as did I. It was nuts.
The hair was shorter. The body was less muscular. But yes indeed, it was the Ultimate Warrior. Just two short years prior, Warrior and Hogan headlined WrestleMania in one of the biggest matches of all time. Two years later, ironically, Warrior returned to save the Hulkster. And the fans went absolutely bonkers.
THE KICK HEARD ROUND THE WORLD
The Rockers was one of the most popular tag teams in the late ’80s and early ’90s. But as time went on it was evident the breakout star of the team was Shawn Michaels. Sometimes, you just gotta kick dead weight to the curb. Literally.
THE MONDAY NIGHT WAR
As hot as wrestling and the WWF became in the late ’80s, rising to prominence seemingly overnight, the industry hit one of its lowest points in the mid ’90s. By then wrestling companies were struggling with a stale product that relied on old gimmicks past its heyday. But as wrestling fans know, the late ’90s saw yet another boom. With WCW going live every Monday night opposite WWF’s Monday Night Raw, viewers suddenly had a choice. This began the Monday Night War. But it wasn’t until the summer of 1996 that things really heated up. That’s when the New World Order faction was born and all-time good guy Hulk Hogan went DARK.
Wrestling then exploded into mainstream popularity with stand out stars such as Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, D-Generation X, Goldberg and the nWo. Monday nights became a constant fun-filled two hours of switching back and forth. Then all day Tuesday you and your friends talked about it at lunch and speculated about what might happen next Monday night. It was a great time!
The war officially ended 15 years ago yesterday. On March 26, 2001, the WWF bought out WCW. And ever since then, wrestling has not been the same.
GETTING TO THE “HART” OF THE MATTER
Wrestling is at its best when real life elements seep in. Look no further than the whole Bret Hart Shawn Michaels Vince McMahon Montreal Screwjob incident. Bret was out of the WWF family for over 12 long years. Finally, on the first episode of Monday Night Raw in 2010, Bret came home. He and Shawn hashed it out in front of a national audience on live TV. What a way to kick off the new decade! It felt like watching two uncles, once seemingly inseparable, burying the hatchet at a family reunion. The moment gave me goosebumps. It was good to see Bret move on once and for all.
RESURRECTION OF JAKE “THE SNAKE” ROBERTS AND SCOTT HALL
For a long time if you had asked any wrestling fan which former star was most likely to die next, number one on the list would be Jake Roberts. And second, Scott Hall. Both men had their addictions, and their fall from grace was ugly. Former WCW World Heavyweight Champion turned yoga fitness guru, Diamond Dallas Page, reached out to Jake in 2012. Using DDPYoga and taking responsibility for his own actions, Jake managed to turn his life around. He lost weight but he shed more than just that. He DDT’ed his demons. He got his life right and in 2014 was inducted into the Hall of Fame. It was crazy seeing him up there. Like seeing a ghost or a distant wayward uncle. His story of resurrection and redemption still resonates deeply with me to this day. In his own words, “I’m not where I wanna be, but I sure am better than where I was before.” I salute thee, Mr. Roberts. Keep it up!
On that same fateful night, Scott Hall went in the Hall as well. Much like Jake, it was surreal to witness it all. Scott struggled with his drinking demons for years. But DDP took him in and Scott Hall put in the work. He’s an example of how anyone can overcome their hang ups, as long as they’re willing to put the work in.
THE ULTIMATE COMEBACK… AND THE ULTIMATE FAREWELL
Not only did Jake and Scott go in, but later that same night the Ultimate Warrior took his rightful place in the Hall of Fame as well. It was the first time he appeared on WWE TV in any capacity in almost 20 years. He delivered one epic speech. For me it was hands down the greatest feel good night in the history of wrestling. April 5, 2014 was a mark out evening for the ages.
On Monday night, April 7, 2014, the Ultimate Warrior made his first appearance on RAW in 17+ years. Sadly, it would also be his last. He delivered the speech of a lifetime in the sort of way that only the Ultimate Warrior could. His life would sadly end the following day. But in his soliloquy, he talked about one day every man’s heartbeats its final beat and his lungs breathe their final breath. It was a little eerie. Warrior’s passing sent shock waves through the wrestling community. It seemed surreal. Right before he died, he at least made peace with Vince McMahon, Hulk Hogan and several others. He went out in a blaze of glory.
Professional wrestling will always hold a soft spot in my heart. I grew up on it. I went through Hulkamania. And the Madness. I witnessed the rise of the industry in the late ’80s. I followed it through the mid ’90s when it hit rock bottom. I watched as it EXPLODED in the late ’90s Attitude Era. And to this day I keep up with the product. Every once in a while they’ll do something to make me feel like a little 10 year old kid again. Those magical moments that make you jump out of your chair with mouth agape and goosebumps popping all over your arms. In some ways I feel like these larger than life athletes were once distant uncles of mine growing up. I could always count on them each weekend (and later Mondays) to entertain me for an hour or two. Wrestling has always given me great memories, and regardless of where the business heads going forward, I will always be a fan for life.
Today marks 20 years since the release of one of the finest platformers you could play on your SNES: DoReMi Fantasy. I originally wrote about this game nearly 10 years ago when it wasn’t as well known as it is today. When I first got back into all things Super Nintendo (January 2006), I did so in large part because I wanted to get back to my platforming roots. I scoured the net and looked at the entire SNES library. I saw pictures of a Japanese game called “DoReMi Fantasy” and instantly fell in love. Ever see a picture of a game and knew right away that you had to play it? DoReMi Fantasy had me instantly charmed. The Super Famicom has some amazing games that we Westerners sadly never received. DoReMi Fantasy is one of the best. 10 years ago it was actually obscure. It’s a lot more well known these days due to positive word of mouth over the years. Plus, a Wii Virtual Console release in March 2008 certainly didn’t hurt. It isn’t uncommon to find this game on hidden gem and must have SNES lists. It couldn’t happen to a nicer game, as the old saying goes [I’m pretty sure it doesn’t go like that but ok… -Ed.]
DoReMi Fantasy is a highly polished side-scrolling platformer. There are 8 worlds each with their own theme. In each world there’s a minimum of 6 levels followed by a boss. An overhead map allows you to backtrack. The levels aren’t particularly long but they possess plenty of detail, quirky enemies, excellent backdrops, ace set pieces and ultra smooth gameplay. The game’s sound is also noteworthy — it occasionally foregoes music for ambient sound effects instead. It all helps to create a unique world well worth exploring and spending a weekend or two with.
Milon is a great character, full of charm and animated brilliantly. Graphics are outstanding. The game has a real sense of life to it. You really have to see it in motion to fully appreciate it. Milon can take up to 3 hits. His suit starts out green, then turns blue when hit and finally red. Jumping on an enemy’s head will only stun them. To kill them, you have to first encase them in a bubble and then pop them. It’s a slight twist on the ole hop ‘n bop routine that works well. Although it’s nothing groundbreaking by any means, this slight deviation from the norm is welcomed.
From world 2 on, each level contains a Musical Star you must find and grab (usually not that hard, but later on becomes trickier). Therefore, you’re forced to explore the beautiful layouts (if you finish a stage without getting the star, you can’t battle the boss). Speaking of worlds, let’s take a look at them.
1. THE WOODS
It’s the ole standard forest theme world. Although basic, it manages to pull you into its charming world. Something about SNES visuals that just does it for me. Sure, there might be better out there (i.e. Neo Geo) but visuals like this get me every single time. As with any platformer, the first world is simple and will get you acquainted to the game’s mechanics and control. You may feel a bit uninspired initially but it gets much better. Highlights of this world include a log ride, falling leaves over a pit where you must time your leap from one leaf to the next, and a neat little haunted cabin featuring Pinocchio-esque dolls.
2. FOOD CONSTELLATION TYPE WORLD?
If the first world seemed a bit ho-hum to you, then the second world is a lot more likely to catch your eye. It’s not often that you find a themed world consisting of food and drink items combined with a very atmosphere celestial backdrop. It’s almost like some weird acid trip. Lots of neat graphical touches, a surreal and ambient soundtrack and some bizarre-o enemies make these levels particularly memorable.
Launching posts propel Milon high through the air and usually sends the little guy bursting through blocks in the process. And it feels as awesome as it looks.
Another impressive set piece, if you leave Milon idle for a while, he’ll pull his pointy wizard’s hat over his head as the wine comes pouring down over him. It’s a cute, charming moment that brought a smile to my face the very first time I saw it. Moments like this bring DoReMi Fantasy to life.
Some creepy music here! It’s not what you expect, and caught me off guard when I first heard it. It gives this stage a rather eerie, empty feel. Highlights of this world include a bell hopping stage and a unique level where on/off switches litter the floor. Touch any off switch and darkness devours the scene, except for the color of the switches and Milon’s white pupils.
Though much of this level is on land, there are plenty of underwater sequences. I quickly developed a burning hatred for those annoying spear throwing frogmen. And I suspect you will too.
I love this world. It features some of the game’s best looking visuals and stages. It’s incredibly fun to play through. Stage 5-3 is a sled stage that particularly rocks.
Blow a bubble. It’ll freeze, forming a block for Milon to hop on. Brilliant. And yes, as you’d expect those icy blocks are more slippery than a used car salesman. Overall, a really fun world and easily my favorite in the game. So incredibly atmospheric. Those Northern Lights never fail to bring a smile to my heart. You can almost feel the chill. Be sure to play this one by the fireplace if you can
C’mon you knew this was coming! No 16-bit platformer is complete without the ole mandatory fiery-themed level. I don’t mind tropes so long as they’re done well. And Hudson doesn’t fail to deliver here.
Two fairly difficult force-scrolling levels are spread across this blazing world. OK, so DoReMi Fantasy fulfills all the platforming tropes. When it’s this well done though, who cares? Certainly not me.
7. TOYS R US
The toy stages are stunning. The richness of colors immediately jumps out, radiating off your TV screen. It’s a reminder that 16-bit visuals, when done right, has an undeniable charm that hits all the right notes [I see what you did there… DoReMi Fantasy… notes… har har… -Ed.]. In addition to some gnarly visuals, there are plenty of dangerous little gadgets in this toy world from hell. Black Friday ain’t got nothing on this.
There’s also a haunted house-inspired world. But I’ll save some for you to imagine, or better yet, experience it yourself! If you haven’t played this yet and you consider yourself a fan of the 16-bit era platformer, this is a must play. It’s one of the best Super Famicom-only games ever released, and I wouldn’t hesitate to say it could be the best non-Mario platformer on the entire system. Yes, I believe it’s that damn good.
Slowdown does occur but it’s not often nor does it affect gameplay really
When you lose (whether to a boss or anywhere on a level), you start with 1 hit (red suit). So you’ll find yourself backtracking often to restore your health to 3 hits (green suit) before re-facing the boss. Hard love it is, indeed. Yes, you can backtrack because this game incorporates a map
4 character password system (too bad it wasn’t battery-backed). Passwords put you on the 1st stage of that world, so you have to do all the work again if, say, you quit at a boss battle
Hold attack until Milon flashes to unleash his super attack. Some situations require his super attack to advance, so be sure to make a mental note of this
Different power-ups are available and hidden inside breakable items. Power-ups include floating shoes, double bubble, bubble gum (very handy should you fall in a bottomless pit), and so forth.
The storyline unfolds in pictures and text. While the text is in Japanese, there isn’t a whole lot. The pictures are self-explanatory when it comes to these cutscenes introducing new gameplay elements in each world
Milon is a selectable character in Hudson’s Saturn Bomberman (1997)
A fan translation (as seen above) was released in August of 2007. Like I said earlier, you can enjoy the game without the translation as there isn’t much text, but it’s sure nice to get the whole package.
DoReMi Fantasy is an excellent platformer every serious SNES fan should own. It’s a shame it didn’t receive a domestic release. But seeing as how it came out March 1996 (the SNES was practically dead in the US by then), it’s hard to harp on that much. Personally, I think DoReMi Fantasy ranks right up there as one of Super Nintendo’s finest platformers. It’s terrific from top to bottom, and as a friend of mine once put it perfectly: “It’s about as charming as a video game can be.” I couldn’t agree more. Happy 20th anniversary, DoReMi Fantasy!
It’s been nearly 10 years since my “Obscure Super Famicom Impressions” thread hit the internet (September 2006). Every two to three days I posted new mini reviews on lesser known Super Famicom exclusive games. The topic became a bigger hit than I ever dreamed it would, and sparked much retro gaming discourse on the forums. While I wasn’t the first guy to ever cover these import titles, my topic did open the door for a lot of people who had never seen or heard of them before. Many suggested I start a fansite to preserve my reviews. Message board posts tend to get buried over time and thus fade into obscurity. The overwhelming compliments and encouragement I received to start my own fansite became a driving force. That’s how my original site, RVGFanatic.com, came to be. To celebrate the 10 year anniversary of my obscure SFC mini reviews, I’m going to begin converting them over here one by one. And I can’t think of a better game to kick it off with than the first game that started it all for me.
I’ll never forget that sunny day back in June 1994 when EGM #60 arrived. During their prime, few things could rival the sheer joy generated from finding a brand new issue sitting in your mailbox. Oh yeah, once upon a time EGM was THATgood.
Imagine this scene: school was out. Summer was in full bloom. You had your trusty best friend and a full two months ahead of you for nothing but long, lazy days of horror movie and video gaming marathons. Super Street Fighter II and Mortal Kombat II were all the rage. Both were coming out soon and you just knew you were experiencing the very peak of 16-bit gaming. It was a hell of a time to be a ten year old kid!
January 2006. It was the Winter Break before my final college semester. I suddenly longed for some Super Nintendo action. The next several months saw me buying old favorites and gems left and right. Then at some point I remembered that day back in June ’94…
Flipping excitedly through the magazine, there it was on page 76.
I love Godzilla. I love fighting games. It was a match made in Heaven.
Only one problem, of course.
Raking in a grand total of a whoppin’ two dollars a week, the game, being an enchanted import, seemed simply unattainable. Nowadays import is just another version of a game, but back then the word import actually held a certain mystique. You drooled at the cool previews and knew if anyone owned those games, in those times, that they were unequivocably HARDCORE.
So how does GODZILLA: KAIJUU DAIKESSEN stack up?
Pretty damn well.
You’re not going to find many combos or a whole lot of finesse, but considering the material it’s only fitting. The game relies on special moves a lot.
X = Weak Attack
Y = Strong Attack
B = Hold (grapple then press varying D-Pad combinations i.e. D, F to toss or bite)
A = Dash
WRATH OF THE GODZ(ILLA)
There are two bars to keep an eye on. The Stun Meter and the WRATH spirit.
When hit, your stun and WRATH meter increases. When your stun meter’s full, you’ll be knocked out temporarily. When your WRATH is full, your monster will flash red and remain so until you either get stunned, or apply your Wrath attack.
Wrath attacks are basically “Desperation Moves.” Desperation moves became very common place in fighting games post-1993. Wrath attacks can inflict INCREDIBLE damage, instantly changing the tide of a match.
When you’re in Wrath mode, attack damage (regular or special moves) nearly double. This creates a bit of strategy: do you go for your big move right away, or do you hold off and take advantage of the extra power? If you do the latter, you risk the possibility of being stunned and thus losing your Wrath move altogether. It’s prudent, then, to always keep an eye on your stun meter. The worst insult is when the opponent stops you in mid-animation of a Wrath move. Or if they jump away or over it. Management of one’s Wrath usually decides the outcome of a battle.
There are eight selectable monsters in the 1 player mode, and nine in the 2 player versus mode (with two being unlockable). Let’s take a look at them, shall we?
The big guy is a solid all-around choice. His ray works in mid-air as a bonus. Ideal for beginners. WRATH: Hyper Atomic Ray
Damage: 46% (55% if up close stuns the opponent)
Godzilla’s body surges in a orange rage before unleashing his devastating death blow. Simple, but nevertheless satisfying.
Staying true to source material, the spiked wonder has no projectiles. Beloved by G-Fans for his fighting spirit, it’ll take an experienced player to use him effectively. WRATH: Thunder Ball
Not very strong (by comparison) and to boot it’s easy to see coming. Poor guy.
His laser eye beam exists! (Inside joke for the G-Fans out there). He’s the most combo-friendly fighter on the roster and the only one with a Dragon Punch (actually a Flash Kick). Gigan possesses a tremendous offensive repertoire. WRATH: Buzzsaw Blitz
Gigan charges up to ½ the screen and unloads a blitzkrieg. Unblockable.
Like Gigan and Godzilla, Megalon is very user-friendly. His torpedo-like attack can also be done in the air. When you hold down Strong Attack, Megalon’s driller-like hand spins and can score four solid hits. WRATH: Armageddon
Damage: 64% (88% recorded on Biollante!!!)
Potentially the strongest move in the game, it’s a blessing it’s also real easy to avoid. I was speechless when it caused 88% damage to Biollante. Damn near ripped off her vines on that one!
Force field, missiles, laser-eye beams, chest beam, flight — all the powers you saw in the 1974 and ’75 movies are here. Many G-Fans to this day prefer this original pot belly version over its ’93 contemporary. Myself included. WRATH: Violent Party
Damage: 55% + stuns opponent if everything hits.
MechaG unloads his entire arsenal! As seen in the movie
This huge 3-headed menace is a strong choice for beginners thanks to his overpowering brutality. For example, his laser beam can go LOW (right head), MIDDLE (middle head) or HIGH (left head). Input D, DF, F, attack. As he revs up, hold down for low, nothing for middle, and up for high. He’s as tough here as he was in the movies! WRATH: Gravity Storm
Damage: 60% (68% if full-on)
One of the game’s most damaging Wrath attacks, Ghidorah unleashes Death From Above.
What a hulking mass! She’s the game’s best sprite by a mile, which is saying a lot seeing as how the others are damn good in their own right. Bio cannot jump, just like in the 1989 movie. She’s also not the most agile sucker around. Therefore I find her somewhat difficult to control. Definitely one for the intermediate to advanced player. WRATH: Acidic Shower
Very cool looking, does considerable damage and the two vines travel around ¾ the screen. After the vines spew acid on the victim, Bio unleashes a volley of acidic fireballs. OUCH!
I was never a huge Mothra fan. But she’s fun to use. The only monster to constantly fly, she’s also unique due to the fact that she cannot block. [I’d sure hate to see her Twitter account -Ed.]. She is also one of two monsters (the other being Super MechaGodzilla) to have two Wrath moves. WRATH #1: Cosmic Seal
Weak but really easy to implement. It’s a trade-off. WRATH #2: Dark Echo
Mothra traps her victim in a magic powder cloud and from out of nowhere comes BATTRA for the assist!
There are three bosses but the last two you can only fight in EXPERT mode. The first boss is immediately selectable in the 2 Player mode. The other two are unlockable via code. The three bosses are MechaGodzilla II, Super MechaGodzilla and Guoten (seriously, a giant battleship? Give me a monster at least!)
IN HONOR OF GODZILLA: STOCK FOOTAGE
I’m glad the developers didn’t force the issue and created one for Angilas for the hell of it. The game for the most part stays amazingly close to the source material. Just look at those stages. Most of them are yanked right out of the various Godzilla flicks. The few creative liberties taken (i.e. Gigan’s Flash Kick) are well implemented and still make sense within the Godzilla universe. If anything, these liberties breathe new life into these old monsters while their traditional powers keep the fanbase satisfied, like a warm cup of cocoa on a cold winter evening.
While it doesn’t damage them any more than normal, I always love zapping them in the crotch whenever using Mothra. Yeah, I know. The little joys in gaming, eh?
All of the monsters, sans Biollante and Mothra, can attack downward while jumping. Just hold down+attack in mid-air. For example, Megalon drills the air as his default jumping strike, but with down+attack his feet does the talking. Quite useful.
Zero slowdown. Kind of amazing when you consider the size of some of these monsters
Destroyable scenery abounds and magically regenerates for each round
Godzilla, Megalon, Mech, King Ghidorah and Gigan can all do their projectiles in mid-air
Godzilla doesn’t have a stage. You fight him on your own home turf, and your regular music is replaced by the ace Godzilla theme, replicated to a tee. Mothra’s remix is likewise excellent!
2 player mode has options of 1-5 handicap, time limit on/off and a stage select
In 1 player mode, you select the enemy order (similar to the Fatal Fury series). Unfortunately though, there’s no character switching, so if you pick Mothra you’re stuck using her until you quit the 1 player game. Not a huge flaw, but a head scratcher as being able to pick a new character off a continue is common practice within the genre
Japanese language is very little. Game menus are all in English. And there are no victory quotes because, er, these monsters can’t talk. Ahem. *Blocks out the infamous dub scene from GODZILLA VS. GIGAN*
The Duo version suffered from having a limited moveset and only two buttons, one of which was used to jump. Thankfully, in the Super Famicom version jumping is done by simply pressing up. The moveset is also much greater and the visuals blow the Duo game out of the water. Just too bad the Duo version got Hedorah and the Super Famicom version didn’t. Love me some Smog Monster!
This game, as seen previewed in EGM earlier, was slated for a North American release under the name of Godzilla Monster Super Battle. Sadly, it was canned. It even got as far as Nintendo Power Magazine reviewing the NA port. But look on the bright side, at least SNES players were graced by the likes of Super Godzilla! *whomp whomp whomp* Man, did we get fleeced or what
EYE SEE WHAT YOU DID THERE
I remember renting Godzilla vs. Gigan (1972) some odd 20 years later, circa 1992. It was at the local mom and pop rental shop, Video Mart. I loved that little store. It had some Godzilla tapes which I rented quite a bit. I remember seeing this box one day and was immediately captivated. Who is this new Gigan creature? He was such a unique looking monster and I fell in love with the design instantly. The box art showed him firing a laser beam from his forehead, but it never actually appeared in the movie. Nor did it appear in the movie Godzilla vs. Megalon, which came out the year after and featured Gigan’s second and final appearance. That was, at least, until Toho resurrected him 30+ years later to be the main villain for Godzilla’s final Japanese film, Godzilla: Final Wars. That is, at least, until Godzilla Resurgence hits Japanese theatres July 29, 2016. Whew, anyone confused yet? You just can’t keep a good monster down.
Anyway, for a long time before Gigan finally used his laser beam in Godzilla: Final Wars, G-Fans had plenty of discussion regarding whether he had said weapon or not in his bag of tricks. There’s actually a scene in the 1972 film where it looks like Gigan is about to MAYBE use it, but it flashed and sort of fizzled out. Hmmm, maybe monsters suffer from performance anxiety issues too. Uh, not that I’d know anything about that. Ahem. At any rate, some fans like to believe he had the power all along but it broke. Ah, fandom. Gotta love it. It was nice to see Gigan firing off his laser beam in Godzilla: Kaijuu Daikessen. The game beat the Final Wars movie by a good 10 years. Fans in 2004 rejoiced that Gigan finally got to use his laser eye beam, but Super Famicom players know better
Now see, where else could you learn such useless information as this but on RVGFanatic? In fact, why even go to college. I got you covered! [Don’t listen to this crazy man. Kids, for the love of Godzilla, stay in school -Ed.]
We’ve received so many crap Godzilla games over the years. Especially if you consider anything pre-1994. Godzilla: Kaijuu Daikessen is a more than a serviceable effort. It’s more than a mere wink and nostalgic nod. If you consider yourself a diehard G-Fan, and you enjoy fighting games, then you’ll probably love this. Playing it 12 years later in 2006 was a bit of a bittersweet experience for me. Sweet in the sense that the game lived up to the hype my 11-year-old imagination forged 12 years prior on that scorching summer day of 1994. But bitter because I didn’t get to play this as an 11-year-old kid. I know my old best friend Nelson and I would have loved this, and we probably would never have left our living rooms.
That’s not to say the game is perfect. If you like fighting games but don’t particularly care for the Big Guy, I wouldn’t go out of my way to play this. This game won’t convert any non-fan. On its own, it sports a decent if somewhat unimpressive fighting engine. It’s super basic and lacks combos (which makes sense when you think about it since these are behemoths and not karate masters of the universe). BUT with the characters, their trademark moves and roars, suddenly it all falls into place. The graphics are great and the sound is awesome. The replicated themes would send a shiver down the spine of any G-Fan. The kaiju sprites are simply amazing. This is truly the Godzilla game G-Fans deserve on the Super Nintendo (yeah, we won’t talk about Super Godzilla). The sights and sounds will take you back to the good old days when the Big Guy stomped all over your TV screen. I know for me playing this game brought back a ton of memories from all the various old Godzilla films I’d seen over the years. Let us also not forget how easy it’d be to half-ass a game like this, so major kudos to Alfa System for not doing so. They could have easily coasted on the coattails of a strong licensing brand, but you can tell Alfa did their homework (AND extra credit assignment) right as soon as you pop the game in. The visuals, sounds and the representation of the monsters are sure to give G-Fans a major nostalgic rush. Taking us right back to the dusty sci-fi section of our local mom and pop shop on Saturday mornings and way back to the Godzilla Power Hour. For that, I salute thee, Alfa System. A job well done!
My only wish? More monsters joining the fray! Particularly Baragon, Jet Jaguar, Titanosaurus, King Seesar, Hedorah the Smog Monster, oh heck, even Minya! A speed setting would have been nice, too. But nonetheless, I am more than satisfied. It’s a tremendous fan service and really captures the essence of the Godzilla universe. Best of all, it gives us one Godzilla game worth playing on the Super Nintendo. It’s only fitting that the “King of Monsters” would have at least one quality game representing him on the “King of Systems.”
It’s no secret that the SNES lacks in the abundance of “mature games.” The Genesis is more well known for its darker, grittier games while the SNES is often seen as the system with super colorful, bright, “cutesy” type games. With furry critters, mascot platformers galore and cute mannerisms when said mascot is idle. However, that doesn’t mean the system was completely devoid of mature games. One of the very finest in that department is BLACKTHORNE. Players assume control of Kyle Blackthorne, an elite badass mercenary who is easily one of the coolest protagonists in 16-bit history. As a kid playing this you couldn’t help but feel so BADASS carrying a sawed-off shotgun and blasting goblins to Kingdom Come. Only you can deliver swift justice in a war-swept nation of chaos!
“I HAVE COME HERE TO KICK ASS AND CHEW BUBBLE GUM. AND I’M ALL OUT OF BUBBLE GUM”
I first played Blackthorne back in ’94 when I rented it for my brother for the weekend. We fell out of our chairs when my brother “accidentally” shot a good guy and actually killed him. The game has been firmly embedded in my gaming heart ever since. There’s just something really cool about Blackthorne. It feels different from your typical SNES game, and there’s something to be said about that. Hell, I still have the poster EGM handed out to subscribers back in the day. I love its comic book-like art style. It proudly hangs in my game room to this day. Each time I walk in I take a moment to not only admire my collection, but the artwork of the poster as well.
Blackthorne may not be a Super Nintendo classic per se, but damn if it doesn’t come rather close. It captured my imagination more than 20 years ago. It’s a game I enjoy coming back to again and again still to this day. Part of what captivated me so much was the game’s story and opening cinematic. I always felt this would make such a cool sci-fi movie. The intro absolutely resonated with my 11-year-old being at the time. It set the scene perfectly, creating a moody, morbid world of good versus evil. The whole prodigal son angle adds even more intrigue. I mean, who doesn’t love a good redemption story?
Bee tee dubs [TELL ME … YOU DIDN’T JUST… SAY DAT -Booker T], here’s a fun little fact. This is a “lost” review from my original site, RVGFanatic.com. I worked on it all October long, and was set to launch it right on the eve of Halloween 2015. That’s when I first discovered I couldn’t. Never fret, this “lost” review is now being restored and revealed for the first time in the history of cyberspace. Can’t you just feel the excitement bubbling over? [It’s practically up to my neck… -Ed.]
RAMPAGE, RUIN AND REDEMPTION…
On a related note, I find it fascinating that the plot of Blackthorne nearly mirrors that of the Lion King. Both feature a fair and just king only to be murdered by an evil adversary who then takes over the throne. Meanwhile, the rightful heir to the throne and the son of the former king is living his own life somewhere far away. Until that is, one day he’s finally summoned back home to take care of unfinished business. Back to where it all began to avenge the death of his father. There’s a lot of striking similarities between the two but it’s all probably just random coincidence as the Lion King came out June 1994 and Blackthorne was released only three short months later. The Lion King‘s plot isn’t exactly original or one-of-a-kind, either. Nevertheless, I find the whole connection between the two (even if it’s completely happenstance) to be of note. I love the father-son and prodigal son redemption theme that both of them possess. And yes I’m still holding out for the Blackthorne motion picture and Broadway musical.
Furthermore, both good kings had a wise elder in some sort of advisory role. Mufasa had that creepy little monkey Rafiki while Vlaros had Galadril by his side. And both Rafiki and Galadril were responsible for beckoning Simba and Kyle Blackthorne back to their homeland in order to reclaim it as their own. It’s just another wild similarity. Now you know if you ever become king, make sure you have a wise advisor at your side. That way should you die, your advisor will at least be able to lure your wayward son back home to save it!
FLASHBACK TO A TIME WHEN GAMES WERE OUT OF THIS WORLD
Blackthorne employs a rotoscoping animation technique. Some other SNES games incorporating this technology were Out of This World, Flashback, Prince of Persia and the long delayed Nosferatu. Kyle comes with highly detailed animations but at the cost of Mario-esque fluid platforming. You have to be very precise with your movements and it can feel a bit mechanical at times. It takes a bit of time to get used to, but for this sort of game I feel it works. Just don’t expect to zip through the levels because Mario you ain’t! But then again, I guess you could say Kyle Blackthorne Mario ain’t!
TAKE NO PRISONERS, NoA
I’ll never forget the time I sat there in my old living room, watching my brother play this game. He fired off a shot at an innocent good guy and as he crumbled to the ground, so too did we! It was a moment in history for us. With the uncensored Mortal Kombat II also released at roughly the same time, this was a major change of heart for Nintendo of America. No longer was this strictly a “kiddie” system as NoA battled head to head with the Sega Genesis for 16-bit brand supremacy in the mid-’90s. OK sure the blood is green but STILL, killing chained innocents! It was simply unheard of at the time, and in my 11-year-old mind it instantly elevated Blackthorne into a special category all its own.
There are no ramifications one way or the other for killing or saving them, though. I kind of wish the game rewarded you for keeping them alive (especially when enemies come into play and you save the prisoners from getting killed in the line of fire). This would have added in an extra layer to the game. An extra layer of skill and morals. With there being no punishment though, I freely admit that still to this day I rarely hesitate to put a slug in their heads each and every single time. I know, I’m terrible. But damn is it still a blast more than 20 years later. Well, maybe not for the Androthi, but definitely for moi
Be sure to talk to them first at least before putting them out of their misery. Some will have helpful items or the odd hint here and there. If you kill them before conversing, then you risk losing out on whatever advice or item they had for you. After a bit of chit chat though, they are indeed fair game…
YOU GO HIDE, AND LET ME SHOOT. LET ME BE THE ONE TO MAKE YOU HOOT
The bulk of the gameplay consists of you battling these goblin henchmen known as Graggs. The first wave of Graggs early on in the game start out simple enough. A couple shots and they die. Later they get much tougher and fire off more bullets so the difficulty jumps by quite a bit. Get ready for plenty of “hide and shoot” battles. Duck into the shadows to avoid the bullets being pumped your way. Once the Gragg takes time to reload, you bound out of the darkness to fire back. Blizzard obviously took creative liberty since I don’t think in real life you can dodge a bullet by merely ducking into the shadows [Try it out sometime Steve, and let me know how that works out for ya -Ed.]. I like to think of this system as a very early, primitive model of what would eventually morph into games such as Gears of War. Blackthorne‘s early take on hide and shoot isn’t exactly the most thrilling gameplay experience, especially today in 2016, but it’s the atmosphere that makes this game through and through. There’s simply not much else like it on the SNES.
Blackthorne is a very methodical game. Kyle can only walk when holding his shotgun. To run or jump you have to first put your gun away. It puts sort of a “speed bump” in the action. On the bright side, Kyle can kneel, roll and even hang onto ledges by the tip of his fingers. This style of slower paced gameplay isn’t for everyone, especially those who enjoy more seat-of-the-pants action. It can grow a bit repetitive as the game progresses since there are only a small handful of level themes, but it’s got such an engrossing atmosphere that I don’t mind traversing the many similar looking levels.
TOOLS OF DESTRUCTION
Along the way you’ll find some helpful items for Kyle’s cause. These items can be found either by talking to the Androthi prisoners or in some cases can only be found by killing a certain bad guy. Don’t mind if I do! I love all of the items but my favorites have to be the bridge key (for how damn cool it looks and how neat it sounds inserting the key) and the levitator.
THE KARNELLIAN SWAMPS
It’s refreshing to see the Androthi unchained on these levels. However, you can still “accidentally” fire at them. But this time, if you do that…
WHAT THE CRITICS SAID
Blackthorne fared well with the critics. It earned Game of the Month honors with EGM, who scored it with marks of 8, 8, 8 and 8. I remember thinking back in ’94 how cool it was that the Game of the Month didn’t receive any 9s. If I’m not mistaken, that was a first in EGM history. GameFan gave it ratings of 90, 88 and 85%. Super Play wasn’t quite as impressed (what else is new). They rated the game 76%. Nintendo Power was a big fan. In their 100th issue (Sept. ’97) they ranked Blackthorne as the 86th best Nintendo-related video game of all time. That’s some mighty praise there. Overall, it’s been well received.
When it comes to darker mature games, the SNES is certainly a bit lacking in that department. However, Blackthorne is a shining example of an atmospheric game that went against the grain of your typical SNES offering. Combine that with some excellent animation and solid (albeit basic) action puzzle platforming and what you have here is a very strong effort. Unfortunately, it’s weighed down by a few too many flaws to be considered a bonafide classic. The incredible animation came at the expense of ultra fluid gameplay. Blackthorne is not the smoothest playing game in the world. There are moments where you may want to scream and shout at your TV. Mario fluid this is not. You must be very precise and deliberate in your choices. It’s a rewarding experience although perhaps one that isn’t always instantly gratifying.
Another flaw is that while the game starts out with a bang, it can quickly grow a bit tedious and tiresome. Duck in the shadows. Run and jump. Hang on ledges. Solve simple puzzles. There isn’t a great deal of locales either. There are 17 levels containing one of four themes: mine, swamp, sand and Sarlac’s castle. After a while they all seem to somehow blend together a bit. But for all the flaws listed, this game knocks it out of the park in terms of attitude and atmosphere. Every detailed pore of its world bleeds with desolation, despair and dread. There’s an overwhelming sense of bleak futility that permeates the game’s 17 levels. Yet in spite of the foreboding thickness, there’s always a glimmer of shining hope in the form of one, Kyle Blackthorne. With his trusty sawed-off shotgun and a never-say-die attitude, players are flung into a grim world of grays and darkness. It’s one of the more immersive games I’ve ever played on the Super Nintendo, and one I enjoy breaking out every late fall or winter season. There’s just something cool about it. While it’s far from perfect, it’s damn good and one of the better “mature” games on the entire system. As such, it will always hold a noteworthy place in the annals of SNES history.
Ever play an obscure-ish game for a little bit and walk away feeling like you had just unearthed a hidden gem? Then for whatever reason that game gets lost in the shuffle. You always mean to come back to it, but somehow you never do. Until you do. And you stick with it a little longer the second time around. Then it suddenly dawns on you that the game isn’t a hidden gem at all but rather, it’s a disappointing effort that could have been (really) good with a little more polish. But I’m getting ahead of myself, so let’s rewind a bit and start from the beginning.
THE YEAR IS 1996, AND 16-BIT FINDS ITSELF BATTLING EXTINCTION
The first game I bought to ignite my SNES resurgence (January 17, 2006) was Power Moves. And fittingly so, it was the first game I reviewed on RVGFanatic.com exactly one year later (January 17, 2007). With this WordPress being sort of RVG’s second coming, it’d only be appropriate to kick off the SNES reviews here with the second SNES game I purchased just seconds right after winning Power Moves. The same seller was selling an obscure little platformer called Prehistorik Man. It was one of those games I remember seeing in EGM, being oddly curious about, but never played. By the time it came out (early ’96, although some reports cite mid ’95), gaming took a bit of a backseat in my life as middle school loomed front and center. So faced with the opportunity at gaming redemption, there was only one thing left to do. I began counting down the days until I could quell this childhood curiosity.
One of my primary reasons for getting back into the SNES was my burning desire to play platformers. When I think SNES, “platformers galore” is one of the first things that, er, jumps[Oh dear -Ed.] to mind. And if Power Moves represented another main factor for why I got back into all things Super Nintendo (i.e. nostalgia), then Prehistorik Man was a shining example of the other factor: a desire to play the games I missed out on back in the day. So it was fitting that these were the first two game purchases of my SNES resurrection. A game I have fond childhood memories of, and a game that more or less “got away” from me. It was the perfect blend of revisiting my past while rectifying the errors of my youth.
THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME
Firing up Prehistorik Man, the game opens up well enough. It blasted me with that unmistakably bright and bold mid-’90s SNES look. Like a Saturday morning cartoon bursting at the seams, I was instantly impressed and won over. I couldn’t wait to maneuver Sam around this colorful world of hop and bop bliss.
Sam’s club [I see what you did there -Ed.] strikes hard and fast. Bonus points for the swing radius as you can take out enemies coming from even behind you. Barry Bonds has nothing on this caveman critter. Speak softly and carry a big stick Sam does. Except, he doesn’t… speak softly, that is.
It’s quite the useful tactic, you see. Especially when the enemies grow in strength and quantity. They come at you pretty fast and soon the club becomes less and less effective. Luckily, Sam’s super scream doesn’t take precious health points away, like it would in a beat ‘em up. Good thing this is a platformer then! Here you have a scream bar that gradually builds up each time you’ve used your super shout. It’s nice that Titus gave this to us as sort of a “free” special move if you will. You just got to be careful when and where you use it, though. There are times where spiders swing back and forth. And the only way to advance is to hop on them to catch a ride. Use the Starscream and you’ve killed your only ticket. But thankfully, Prehistorik Man does the whole Mega Man “move off screen and enemies will respawn” trick. Super useful. But, also, super annoying in any other area but. A classic tale of the ol’ double edged sword, no?
Titus had some neat tricks up their sleeves. In addition to clubbing enemies into oblivion, they also gave you the choice of the good ole hop and bop. Now, one hop can send Sam soaring into the air. This allows you, the cunning and skilled player, the opportunity to collect otherwise unreachable goodies for extra bonus points. Or, hop on an enemy a few times consecutively and you’ll kill them but ALSO earn bones. The bones collected will allow you to enter the shop scattered throughout the levels to buy clues, continues and more. So you can go for the straight clubbing kill, which requires little skill, or you can go for the more tricky multiple hop kill which rewards you with bones for the shop system they’ve set up (pardon the pun). This allows sort of a differentiated level of play for novices and experts, and is a pretty cool little system.
TITUS’ DINO SIZED SINS
Do you see that “save game” option above? You might have to squint and lean in real close, or simply zoom in if you’re browsing on your smart phone or tablet. For all the neat little things this game does, it botches it with some truly idiotic blunders. Take for example this whole “save game” BS. You pay your hard earned bones to save the game but guess what, as soon as you turn the system off, the save game is null and void. So what’s the whole point of this option at all? It makes no sense, and really puts a damper on the whole game. Worst of all, there is no password system. It sure could have used one being that it’s 23 levels long. Granted, the levels aren’t long, and some are incredibly short, but 23 is still a lot.
TITUS REDEEMS ITSELF
Thankfully, along comes one of my favorite cheat codes ever…
So, in a weird way, that whole null and void thing on the save system is now null and void (again) thanks to this handy cheat. Damnit Titus, what the hell were you doing?! [That’s what Vince McMahon said… -Ed.]. At any rate, at least Titus made up for it with this cheat.
Sam isn’t alone in his quest. Along the way you’ll meet various NPCs that engage you in entertaining ways. I like the game’s sense of humor and the elder in particular is vintage “GIT OFF MAH LAWN!” material. Er, if cavemen had lawns. Ah you know what the hell I meant!
… AND TITUS SCREWS UP YET AGAIN
In addition to NPCs, Prehistorik Man attemtps to break up the mundane by incorporating various transportational devices. Quite frankly, they’re tough to master and have a somewhat steep learning curve. I consider myself to be a pretty decent platforming player, but these rides took me some time to figure out, and even then I felt like I was dying more than I should have. In other words, the control on these sections feel a bit finicky and feel like they could (and will) betray you at the drop of a hat. It’s too bad because I do like the idea of them, but they lack the polish of a primo platformer. Hence why I think for all the good this game does, it still ends up in the middle of the pack.
In addition to the various rides, Sam can pick up assorted weapons. Some of them even serve multiple purposes, which is something I always love and appreciate. Well, ALMOST always.
There’s one infuriatingly maddening level in this game (actually, there’s more than a few) that I have not been able to bypass sans cheat code. The spear seems like a cool weapon at first. Unfortunately, the execution is terrible. It cuts through multiple enemies in a single fling. COOL. It can also pierce itself into surfaces which allows you to jump to higher ground. Again, COOL. But at the end of this blasted level, you come to a humongous tree that requires you to throw a spear and jump on, rinse and repeat. I can do it about 4-5 times consecutively but I can never reach the top. Either the spear gives way or my button push to jump doesn’t register in time. It’s way harder than it needs to be. It was symbolic. I kept falling and each time it felt like Titus was laughing in my face. Just like how they added that stupid save system but when you turn the game off it no longer saves! Seriously, screw you, Titus. Bunch of gawd damn assholes!
BUT EVEN AN ASSHOLE CAN HAVE SOME REDEEMING QUALITIES
ONCE AN ASSHOLE, ALWAYS AN ASSHOLE
Prehistorik Man is one of those games that wows you early on, but regresses as you progress. After the impressive multi-jointed dino boss, you enter “Slime World” (Todd’s rolling in his grave somewhere in 16-bit purgatory). These slime themed stages (whose only correlation to slime has to do with the few blobs that exist in these lame levels) are horribly designed and unappealing, both to look at and to play. There’s way too many blind jumps and too many instant death pits. Sure, you can move the camera around a bit like in Super Mario World, but SMW didn’t have the weird herky-jerky scrolling and slippery controls that plague Prehistorik Man. These aspects adversely affect the game.
I do like the fact that some of the levels involve certain goals other than survive and advance to the exit at the far right. But when these goals include narrow ledges in far off places and sometimes require blind leaps of faith to find them… it becomes very annoying very fast. But just when you think the game becomes a bit too unbearable, we thankfully see a return of better stage design.
It should be noted that the bosses in this game will give you nightmares. They are way too hard. Especially when you only have 3-5 hearts to work with while their energy bars stretch from California to New York. Add in the slightly too slippery control and you have a bad combo.
WHAT THE CRITICS SAID
EGM rated it 9.0, 9.0, 9.0 and 8.5. It did well with the critics in North America, anyhow. Good old Super Play though, like the tough loving father that they were, didn’t quite agree with our friends at EGM and GameFan. They gave the game a 76%. Initially, when I first played Prehistorik Man in early 2006, I fell in love with it after 15 minutes and thought of it as an “8.5” game. I recently sat down with it 10 years later to finally THOROUGHLY play it. The more I played it, the more disappointed I became. It’s certainly not a BAD game by any stretch. But it’s a prime example of a game that sort of wows you early on, but can’t maintain or build on the early momentum of the game. Few things are more disappointing in a video game than that. Still, there’s some value to be had here. On a side note, as of this writing it doesn’t seem to go for very much. It’s not very common as it came out later in the system’s lifespan. If you consider yourself a fan of the genre then I recommend picking up a copy now while you still can for $20. It wouldn’t shock me one iota if this commands $50+ one day soon.
With a little more polish, Prehistorik Man could have very well been a hidden gem. I used to think it was until I sat down to play it longer than 15 minutes. For the past decade I kept wondering why no one ever mentions it in “SNES hidden gem” threads. Now I know why. It’s one of those games that upon initial play tricks you into believing it’s better than it is, but press on and the flaws soon become readily apparent. The game has amazing visuals. Well, for the most part at least. I’m not crazy about those bland looking “slime” stages. But the other stages are vintage SNES era stuff. The sound effects can be annoying, particularly the grunts. And the music is very forgettable. So much so that the GameFan review (see above) went out of its way to mention it. And as you may know, GameFan rarely complained about music as they tended to overhype EVERYTHING. So it just goes to show you how forgettable the music in this game is. The gameplay is hit and miss which leads to a very uneven playing experience. Sometimes it will delight while more times it’s likely to infuriate. There’s enough good to make it worth your while but it’s also plagued by enough bad that only fans of the genre should seek it out.
10 years ago today I got back into all things Super Nintendo. It blows my mind that 10 years has flown by so fast. 10 years later I still love the SNES as much as I did the day I got back into it. I became an instant SNES fan the moment I first played it on a cold, dreary December morning of 1991. I stuck with it through 1996 before I fell out of gaming leading up to the millennium. I became a diehard Saturn fanatic in the early to mid 2000s. So, what jumpstarted my SNES resurgence? An old friend called “the platformer.”
December 2005. I was a senior in college. My University winter break ran for 6 glorious weeks. We were off from mid December to late January. I tell ya, there’s something about those cold 6 weeks that does things to a man. The year prior I spotted a Super Nintendo at a Game Crazy and a wave of nostalgic 16-bit gaming memories washed over me like crazy. I ended up not buying it but that proverbial seed was planted. That nugget of a “what if” moment would go on to linger inside of me for the next 365 days.
Fast forward back to December 2005. My cousins came over and we played some Saturn Bomberman. It was a blast, pardon the pun. But when they left I found myself craving to play a platformer. I pulled out my drawer of Saturn games to scan over, looking for just the perfect platformer to quench my thirst. What I found that fateful day shocked me, and saddened me to my very gaming core.
It hit me then and there that the Saturn, for such the 2D powerhouse that it was, lacked tremendously in this timeless genre of hop and bop. Sure, you had a few. Sonic Jam, Pandemonium, Clockwork Knight 2, Keio Yugekitai. But there wasn’t a whole lot beyond that. My heart sank. For the first time in over five years my flame for all things Sega Saturn began to fan out. Like when you find out your girlfriend cheats on you, there’s just no going back.
And that’s when I remembered my childhood crush. The one that got away. All those blissful, innocent and lazy Saturday afternoons going out to the local rental store with your old man, renting games and playing them with your brother and best friend. All those idyllic summers spent battling gigantic bosses in your best friend’s living room. All those epic sleepovers where you and your friends would game the night away. Fond memories and thoughts of the SNES consumed me. I suddenly remembered all the plethora of great platformers I had played for it more than a decade ago. I also remembered all the decent ones, which I wanted to revisit. Then there were many others that I never got around to rent, but was always curious about in some form or fashion. How great would it be to go back and right these childhood wrongs? I was 22 (cue the Taylor Swift “22” song, or not) and on the cusp of graduating but that day I found myself in a very reflective and nostalgic mood. It was a very unique period in my life. A time of looking forward while also looking back.
It started out as a regular Tuesday night in the old neighborhood. It was January 17, 2006. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary but this date would go down in gaming history for me. After dinner I had an overwhelming urge to type “SNES” into eBay. The very first item that came up was POWER MOVES, ending in 38 seconds. Power Moves is one of those games that hold a ton of nostalgic childhood value to me, despite being not a very good game (OK, it was pretty dang bad). It was the first IMPORT video game I ever rented (under the label of POWER ATHLETE) way back in late 1992. My friends and I enjoyed it for what it was for the weekend that we had it.
So yeah, it was a crazy moment of nostalgia overload. Before I knew it I inserted my maximum bid and the page refreshed.
CONGRATULATIONS! YOU WON POWER MOVES (SUPER NINTENDO).
I sat there for a second, admiring the moment and soaking it all in. For the first time in nearly 10 years, I had bought a Super Nintendo game. And that’s the story of how I got back into all things SNES.
The rest is history.
NOTE: The following was written on January 30, 2016.
Speaking of 10 year anniversaries, today marks another big moment. It was the day my SNES arrived. I remember this day with a real deep fondness. The SNES was on its way and already I had 51 games waiting to be played. The night before, January 29, 2006, I ordered the Royal Rumble pay-per-view and watched that with my cousin, David. I’ve always been a huge wrestling fan since I was a kid, and the Royal Rumble is one of my favorite events of the year.
I recall starting a gaming journal on that Sunday. I had always wanted to do one with the Sega Saturn, but by the time I thought of starting one, it was far too late. It was nice that the SNES gave me a second chance to chronicle things properly.
The next day was one for the record books. It was a cold, rainy Monday afternoon. It was the first day of my Spring 2006 semester, the last one before I graduated. I heard a loud rumbling outside my window. Excitedly, I ran over to peer outside. With the heavy raindrops shattering against my window, looking not unlike melting silverware, I wiped the freezing glass pane to reveal a parked UPS truck. I watched intently as a man walked around back to haul out a gigantic box. I knew it had to be it. My baby was finally here!
I ran to open the door before he was even halfway there. I grabbed the box in haste; I couldn’t have rescued it from the downpour any sooner. I ripped the packaging open and sat there in sheer awe of what I saw. The SNES and a whole bunch of games rested inside in all its glory. I wanted nothing more than to play them then and there, but alas, I had an “advanced acting” class to attend at 1:30. But hey, I waited a decade for this moment. Or at least, a few weeks. Surely a few more hours wouldn’t hurt.
That night I had 51 SNES games from which to pick. Which one would I play first? I figured it was a no brainer. First import rental ever. And now it was the first SNES game I bought that kickstarted my SNES resurrection. It was only fitting. Sure, Power Moves was no masterpiece, but man, the nostalgia rush I had that night was incredible. And I knew the games and memories from that point on would only get better.
Welcome back home, indeed. And ever since then, even 10 years later, the SNES is still where I’m at. Here’s to 10 more glorious 16-bit years.
Bonjour! Welcome to my humble and awesome little site. *wink* Yes indeed, you’ve hit up RVGFANATIC. I started this site as a means to share my gaming reviews, remembrances and random mad ramblings. The primary focus is on the SNES, my favorite system of all time. I also write about non-SNES retro games when the mood strikes. In addition, you’ll find SNES articles, my ever popular “obscure” Super Famicom reviews, and miscellaneous non-gaming articles. This includes episode recaps of such classic shows as Full House, Home Improvement, Are You Afraid of the Dark?, The Wonder Years and so on. Expect tons of pictures, reminiscing and passion from a recollective retro renegade. I’m very proud of the content I’ve produced over the past 10+ years, and I thank you for joining me on this nostalgic trip down memory lane.
Now then, a quick bit about me…
Born in the summer of 1983, I grew up loving games. Weaned on the 8-bit Nintendo, as I grew up, so too did video games. My brother and our friends moved on to the Genesis in ’89, and later the Super Nintendo when it came out in late ’91. I bought a Sega Saturn in 1999 and by 2001 became a huge fan. The honeymoon ran into late 2005. In January 2006 I rediscovered the Super Nintendo and have been rocking with the SNES ever since.
I’ve been posting on various gaming boards since early 2001. I love sharing my impressions of obscure games as well as miscellaneous life stories. Whether I’m rambling on about the Super Nintendo, the Sega Saturn or something else, three words best sum up RVGFanatic:
RELIVE | REMEMBER | REPLAY
Enjoy the site!
PS- If you would like to email me or send a PayPal donation:
RetroGamer7 at yahoo dot com
MY REVIEW SYSTEM AND PHILOSOPHY
I absolutely love EGM’s old format: if a game averaged a score of 8 then it received the Silver Award. 9 average earned the Gold and straight 10s would earn the rare PlatinumAward.
I’m using the same format, except this is a one man operation rather than four (or five in some cases). Also, I’m adding the bronze award for any game that scores a 7.5 rating.
I rate games 1-10, with .5 increments.
Like EGM, a 6/10 score is NOT a 60% grade, or a D. 6/10 isn’t a bad score, per se. It’s just a slightly above average game — one that only big fans of the genre are likely to somewhat enjoy.
1 - DAFUQ
2 – Horrible
3 – Really bad
4 – Below average
5 – Ho-hum, average, mediocre
6 – Somewhat decent, fair to middling
7 – Certainly flawed but solid and worthy
7.5 Bronze Award — This game is flawed but does enough good things to be recognized with a single trophy. Not everyone is going to like it, but there’s something about this game that made me sit up and go, “Hey, this is pretty good.” The difference between a 7.0 and a 7.5 game? 7.5 games are titles you may have overlooked that I feel are worth a shot and thus, they receive the Bronze Award for that little bit of added recognition.
8.0 Silver Award — This game is not an exceptional example of its genre, but it’s fairly darn good in its own right. There is a fine line between a 7.5 and an 8.0 game. The 8.0 game is still flawed, but I consider these games to be “good” rather than “pretty good.” They may not be the cornerstones of the SNES library, but any collection would be lucky to have these titles to round things out.
8.5 Double Silver Award — This game isn’t just “pretty good.” It isn’t simply just “good.” It’s “very good.” However, there are enough blemishes to keep it from that magical 9+ territory. 8.5 games can be seen as unsung titles that fall just short of being a bonafide classic. Nonetheless, they’re highly respectable and if you like the genre, odds are you will like these games.
9.0 Gold Award — Now we’re talking! Any game that earns a 9.0 can be considered great and an exceptional example of its genre. They have a few small flaws that prevent them from entering that 9.5+ upper echelon of SNES landmark titles, but for the most part, these are legit classics more that deserve to be part of any SNES library.
9.5 Double Gold Award — These epic games are near perfect examples of their genre. While not quite perfect — they have a flaw here and there — 9.5 games are bonafide SNES classics. These are some of the best games in the pantheon of SNES greats, and many if not all of these titles would make any top 20 list.
10 Platinum Award — Only awarded to a scant few, any game that earns a 10 is virtually flawless. These games are in a special class of their own and can be considered Mount Rushmore worthy material. These are the very best games available on the SNES and should be in any Super Nintendo collection. In my opinion there are only a select handful of titles worthy of this ultimate stamp of approval. As time goes on you’ll see which SNES games I deem to be the very best among their peers. If there was a Super Nintendo Hall of Fame, these games would not only be first ballot Hall of Famers, but they would deserve their own damn wing.
I ALSO GRADE THESE CATEGORIES:
Graphics – How good the game looks, in relation to the time period the game was released and the genre of the game.
Sound - Quality of the game’s sound effects and music.
Gameplay – How well the game plays, in relation to the time it was released and its genre.
Longevity - Since RPGs generally lack in “replay value” I’m doing “longevity” instead — how long the game lasts me the first time, how often will I replay it, and is it a game I can see myself playing a year or 2, 5, even 10 years from now? It’s a combination of all those. To get a 10 in this category, all three points must be met.
Please take note of the I’s in the longevity category. I can’t speak on anyone’s behalf but my own. These scores (longevity and everything else) are my personal opinion — nothing more nothing less. Also note, longevity is theonly rating which I base upon my feelings today. Graphics, sound and gameplay relate strictly to the time of the game’s release.
CRITERIA FOR THE FINAL SCORE
The overall score is NOT an average of the four scoring areas, but of course they factor in, with gameplay being the most vital. Simply put, the overall scoreis how much I like (or dislike) the game. Three other keys:
Year in which game was released
I’ll be more lenient if the game came out early. After all, it’s unfair to say Power Moves (January 1993) is not up to par with Killer Instinct (August 1995). I rate each game based on its peers upon release.
The genre itself
I have different expectations for each genre based on what I think is the best example of that genre on the Super Nintendo.
My own personal bias
I try to be as objective as I can, but my own bias comes into play when deciding the overall score. Gameplay is still the ruling factor, but I may bump a game up by .5 for various reasons.
In general, I’m a pretty easy grader. As long as the game is competent, enjoyable, and made me say, “Hey, that was pretty dope” – I’ll probably give it the Bronze Award at the very least. I don’t want to be GameFan-easy, though! However, I’m not Super Play-hard, either.
Finally, it should be noted, however obvious this may be, but all these ratings are strictly my opinion and I don’t expect everyone to agree with a game’s score all the time. Unlike a professional magazine that acts as though its score is the so-called definite score of a game, these ratings I have are merely that of my opinion and for, as the kids may say… kicks.
Now to the Q&A:
How did this site come about?
I’ve always had a deep passion for sharing my thoughts on (obscure) games and life with people. I knew very little about websites so the thought of having one simply never crossed my mind. From early 2001 to late 2006, I was content making topics on various gaming boards.
Back in my Saturn heyday I had plans for a gigantic Saturn topic, a place where I’d post all my reviews and memories. I even had the title: “MEGA SEGA Saturn Thread.” But by 2005 I burned out and the topic never happened.
In early 2006 I rediscovered the Super Nintendo and on that very first day I had plans to eventually create a huge thread consisting of my reviews, thoughts and experiences. What I intended to do with Saturn, but never did.
Around August 2006 I realized the SNES topic was way too ambitious for me at the present time, but I felt a strong itch to write about SNES games in some capacity. This gave birth to my Obscure Super Famicom Reviews thread (September 8, 2006). I figured it wouldn’t run past Halloween, but I kept buying Super Famicom games and the topic ran into December. I began to ponder tackling a site, thanks to the overwhelmingly positive feedback I received from readers of my obscure Super Famicom thread.
“It would be a real shame if all this great information disappears into cyberspace obscurity, as well as all the cool pictures… you need your own site!”
And that’s when the light bulb went on, really.
December 2006. The obscure Super Famicom topic was still going, and there were so many more games to review. The topic getting way too big and I knew my peers were right. How great would it be to have the content I’ve worked so hard on be featured on a more compact basis? How cool (and convenient) to have individual links taking the user wherever they wanted, without waiting for hundreds of other game pictures to load?
PeteWhitley’s inspirational reply at DigitPress on December 16, 2006, was the breaking point:
“Steven, this is soooo the best thread going on DP right now. In addition to continuing it, you should really compile everything you’ve got into a web page and concurrently add to this thread and that web page. You would have a pretty sweet document of some rarely played games right there, and it would be more permanent than just a thread on the DP boards. Just a thought, but in my opinion you have something way better than a thread going here.”
At that point I went from so-so to determined. In late December I was hard at it. And on Sunday, January 7, 2007 — the site launched. Better late than never!
Why the move from RVGFanatic.com to RVGFanatic.com/WordPress?
The old Website Builder I used for nearly a decade became obsolete in October 2015. I was crushed because I had built up my original site for nearly a decade and now I could no longer update it. The company I work with then set me up with this WordPress, which launched January 2016. Change was difficult at first but I’ve come to prefer this over the old Website Builder. It’s simply more efficient and admittedly, the old site was a bit archaic. For example, it takes one second to publish an update on WordPress. The Website Builder took a frigging hour! And sometimes it would crash during the publishing process but that’s a whole ‘notha story that never needs to be told
Sometimes change is inevitable and for the best. Definitely the case here!
RVG stands for?
Retro Video Game.
Where did the name RVGFANATIC stem from?
My buddy JVGFanatic might have suggested it a bit tongue-in-cheek, but I loved it almost instantaneously.
Did you own a Super Nintendo back in the day?
Yes. My brother bought it in late ’91 or early ’92. It was my favorite system back then and is currently my favorite system today.
Do you own the games you review?
Yes, I do, including the “obscure” Super Famicom games. I believe in the purity of owning the real physical thing. Having said that, I got no problem with those who simply emulate.
Is it cool if I copy and paste your content? Your pictures?
Just credit me and provide a link to my site for common courtesy.
What inspired you to do the text embedded pictures?
I have to credit Super Play Magazine. A lot of their pictures had text embedded and I guess on a subconscious level I fell in love with that style of presentation. The first review on my old site that I started this with was Spider-Man: Lethal Foes. Then I did the same gimmick for my second SNES review, An American Tale: Fievel Goes West. Then it just became something I enjoyed doing. However, now that we’re on this new more modern site, I’m retiring from the text embedding business. It just takes too much time and the cool thing about this WordPress is that it allows me to display PNG images. The old site only allowed JPG images, which are lower in quality.
Do you really write everything yourself?
YES! It’s a one man operation, a one man demolition derby, a one man wrecking crew [Are you quite done yet? -Ed.]
Wait a second! Who’s this Ed guy then??
C’MON! Seriously now.
OK seriously, it’s just a little thing I’ve picked up from reading Super Play. Ed. is short for Editor. It’s actually all me. It’s sad I know but I love the old gaming magazines so much that I try to replicate some of their feel in my work, and from the feedback I’ve received, many enjoy this throwback magazine style.
You’re really into the obscure stuff — how did that come about?
It really started from my early days of gaming. Back in ’92, when Street Fighter II was scorching the arcade scene, I was more than happy playing World Heroes with my friend. Even back then, I always had an odd fascination and admiration for the little guys. I’ve always enjoyed the oddball games, discovering hidden gems and shining the spotlight on these games with the community.
How many games do you own?
Way too many. I peaked at 350 or so with Saturn. Today I’m in the 180’s. As for the SNES… 600+ counting the Super Famicom imports.
Timing is everything in life. I got back into the Super Nintendo on January 17, 2006. That was a different time. A lot of the collectors you see today were not buying SNES games by the truckload back in early 2006. The nostalgia bug bit me earlier than it did many others, so I was able to score some great deals. Most of these games cost me only $5-$10, with even the heavier hitters not going for more than $40. Today? Not so much. Also, I managed to score a lot of the boxes and manuals for dirt cheap because back in 2006, they weren’t in demand much. I really lucked out — timing is everything!
Some Super Famicom reviews have ratings, others don’t. Why?
I don’t have a set method for the obscure Super Famicom stuff. However, with the SNES reviews I attach numerical values at the end in traditional magazine style.
Any plans for a top list?
A reader by the name of Pat Chu asked me this back in April 2007. Pat, you read my mind. Yes, I plan to make a top list at some point. I want to play as many games as I can first before releasing such a list, though. Only then could I properly craft one. In the meantime, I released a top 50 obscure Super Famicom list as sort of an appetizer
Do you play anything else other than SNES and Saturn?
Sure but I don’t play much these days other than the SNES. I know I’m missing out on a lot of great games on other platforms, but you can’t play them all. I find focusing on one system and squeezing as much as you can out of it to be very satisfying. It’s what works for me. I always say, do what works best for you.
What other systems do you own beside SNES and Saturn?
NES, GBA, Dreamcast and Switch. I keep it super simple.
Where can I email you or send a PayPal donation for your hard work?
RetroGamer7 at yahoo dot com
Hey, I had to try one last time
Enjoy the site!