Bahamut Lagoon (SNES)

Pub & Dev: Squaresoft | February 1996 | 24 MEGS
Pub & Dev: Squaresoft | February 1996 | 25 MEGS

Squaresoft, one of the best developers during the Super Nintendo’s hey day, was responsible for such beloved classics as Final Fantasy II, Final Fantasy III, Secret of Mana, Seiken Densetsu III (AKA Secret of Mana 2), Chrono Trigger and Super Mario RPG just to name a small handful. That right there is a who’s who of SNES lore. When it came to third party developers, you could always count on the big 3: Capcom, Konami and Squaresoft. They produced some of the best games in the SNES catalog. In February of 1996, Squaresoft released a strategy RPG by the name of Bahamut Lagoon. Unfortunately, because it came out so late in the SNES lifespan and wasn’t a proven IP (unlike Super Mario RPG which came out in May of ’96), Bahamut Lagoon was destined to never leave the Land of the Rising Sun. But thanks to the dedicated efforts of Neill Corlett, Dragon Force and Clyde Mandelin (AKA Tomato), a fan translation was released and those unfamiliar with Japanese were then able to experience Bahamut Lagoon in all its glory. Earlier this year I finally carved out some time (57 hours to be precise) and got to experience one of Squaresoft’s “lost classics.” Bahamut Lagoon FREAKING ROCKS.

It looks so badass on that white cartridge!
It looks so sleek on that white cartridge!



Bahamut Lagoon is a strategy RPG that’s unlike your typical SNES RPG. It’s extremely linear, the game is broken up into 27 chapters and getting lost is virtually impossible. Naturally, there are pros and cons to this. If you’re looking for an RPG where you can really explore and branch off on your own path, this probably isn’t the game for you. But if you’re in the mood for a streamlined tactical RPG with some badass dragons thrown into the mix, this is the perfect game for you. In Bahamut Lagoon, you control up to six parties with each party containing four members and one dragon. Of course, members are interchangeable and different formations can be selected. You can adjust strategies as you wish. That’s mainly where the game’s freedom kicks in. You won’t get to explore a vast open world, but you have a bevy of options when it comes to offense and defense. Dragons add another key element to the puzzle. But more on that later…






These are just 15 of the characters you’ll meet in your journey. Many others are waiting to be found. As you can imagine, each of them has their own personality, strengths and weaknesses. It can be fun to mix and match. Experiment!




You can change their default names if they’re not to your liking. Dragons must be fed frequently if you want them to grow and increase in power. After a certain point, they can even transform…

Some forms can get pretty crazy...
Some forms can get pretty crazy…





There's definitely a Star Wars vibe going on
There’s definitely a Star Wars vibe going on

Resistance, Empire? Hmmm….


Squaresoft sets a serious and epic tone right away by casting ominous thunderclouds from the moment you power the game on. King Kahna tries to awaken Bahamut from its slumber to no avail. Might his daughter, Princess Yoyo, hold the key to saving Orelus and the once peaceful kingdom of Kahna?


Obsessed with ruling the skies and all of Orelus, Emperor Sauzer goes on a war torn path of destruction. Sauzer and his right hand man, Palpaleos, admire their handy work from a tower while contemplating a future where all cower before them.







Kahna: What are you scheming, Sauzer?! The Holy Dragons shall not awaken. I will not hand over their power to you!

Sauzer: They won’t wake up because their time of awakening has not come yet! The moment I conquer this world, their time shall begin! And that time begins now!







Kahna’s brutally murdered as one era ends and a new one begins







Several winters later, Sendak (an old surviving member of Kahna) calls out to Byuu, a fierce young warrior who has since gone off grid. Sendak knows the Resistance will fall short without Byuu leading the charge. Sendak notes that everyone is saddened by Byuu’s absence and makes a harrowing proclamation: winter looks to be cold again this year. He wishes Byuu, wherever the young lad might be, the very best…







Naturally, Byuu makes a triumphant return and we get a flashback to provide a little backstory. Byuu was the one responsible for reviving Kahna’s Dragon Squad and during his hiatus he was out searching for all the dragons that went missing. Now that all the titans have been found, Byuu rejoins the Resistance force ready to reclaim the kingdom of Kahna! Pretty epic stuff, right? Squaresoft was simply the best once upon a moon…







Although the dragons have been found, it’s the Holy Dragons that must awaken. Specifically, Bahamut. Bahamut holds the key to everything…








Bahamut Lagoon has a unique battle system. The very first fight introduces us to the basic mechanics of the game. You can interact with your environment, something you couldn’t do in many other RPGs from that era. For example, if a bridge is broken you can’t cross the river unless you first freeze the water. It’s little things like this that makes the game so nice to play. Sorry.







Decide which party to go first. Then, you have a variety of options available. This includes moving your party around the battlefield, selecting the aggression level of your dragon and even using magic attacks from a safe distance. I like to select move and at the very least analyze how far I can advance. The screen will darken when you do this, with the lighted path illuminating your options.







Typically, you won’t be able to move far enough on your first try to get close enough to attack an enemy group. You may, however, be able to hit them with one of your magic attacks from far away. It’s OK too if the square isn’t directly on them. Press the button and it’ll show you the coverage. As you can see here, that enemy group is caught in the line of fire. Although damage is weakened when the enemy is not in the center of your initial square, it’s still nice being able to pelt them!







Damage is dealt to each bad guy in the group. Keep in mind as the game progresses you’ll have more mixed groups of enemies. For example, if an enemy uses fire magic then all fire-based attacks will not hurt them but it will actually heal them. So be sure to check the groups before you start hurling magic attacks!







Dragons come into play after your party launches a magic strike. Depending on the command you select (you can choose from go, come or stay), your party’s dragon will look for a nearby enemy group to attack. If it’s close enough, it will enter a new screen where combat will be conducted. This is a little dangerous as it gives the opposition a chance to hurt your dragon. However, if the dragon is not close enough to attack, it will then launch a magic attack from a safe distance with no chance for enemy retaliation (provided your dragon has enough magic points remaining). Naturally, you receive more points and bonus items for defeating enemies up close and personal. So there’s an incentive for those types of battles. Also note your dragon will only launch a magic attack if it’s within range. Stay keeps the dragon where it is. Come makes the dragon come close to you, and go is a complete wild card. It sends your dragon anywhere on the map. This can either work out in your favor or against, and it’s up to user discretion…







Whew… and that was just one party’s turn! Now you choose what the rest of your groups will do. All of your parties must end their turn before it switches to the enemy’s turn. Here we see Sendak just barely being able to attack the ice mages.







Salmando finds himself in a close quarters encounter, which shifts the scene to the classic side view as seen in many of Squaresoft’s previous RPGs. You can still perform magic attacks here of course, which is lovely for spraying damage to all enemies. Unfortunately, you cannot control the dragons. They move and attack randomly. The only command you’re in charge of is whether they will come, stay or go. I would have preferred being able to control them but being powerful beasts, I actually like their autonomy. Besides, it brings a certain wild card element to the battles which make it extra fun and sometimes slightly unpredictable. Thankfully, the dragons tend (emphasis on the word TEND) to make the right choice more times than not…













Nothing’s as satisfying as when the dragons attack exactly as you would have done, if you could control them. The best is when they launch a magic strike that hits multiple groups of enemies. Even better is when said strike takes out a group. You’ll get Flame Grass (a fire-based magic attack) whenever an enemy is killed with fire magic. You can use Flame Grass in battle or feed it to your dragons to increase their fire potency. But more on that later…







However, nothing’s more annoying than a magic strike that BARELY leaves them alive. If only that dragon’s Thunder Gale was a level 3 and not merely a level 2. Hmmm, what if I feed it some Thunder Grass…













Defeating an enemy group in this fashion grants you more money and items. Items can aid you in battle or be used as dragon food. It’s fun to experiment! Don’t just kill enemy groups from afar. You need money and items and beating them up close and personal gets you plenty of both. You’ll also level up a lot more!













Having exhausted all your parties’ turns, it’s now time for the enemy phase. I like how Squaresoft made sure we knew! Once you kill the boss of this chapter, bonus items and points are rewarded. And just in case you didn’t know that you won, Squaresoft spells it out for ya, literally.














Following fights (and before), you have the option of feeding your dragons. I highly encourage that you do, and make sure you balance it out or else you’ll show favoritism and those neglected will lash out in various ways. Use items you’ve bought or gained during battle to feed your dragons. Some are obvious, like fire items increase a dragon’s fire magic. But some others aren’t so clear. Like what would happen if you feed your dragon a porno magazine? I’m not kidding. Find out for yourself…








Explore your surroundings… you’ll never know what you might find. See, I wasn’t lying about that porno mag. It’s a real thing :P














Remember those Choose Your Own Adventure books from the ’80s and ’90s? One of my favorite things about RPGs is the option to select your response to a character’s question. There’s plenty of that sort happening here. It doesn’t change the game but it’s still nice having choices. Some humor arises like when you select “It’s kind of awkward, so don’t…” but then Princess Yoyo responds, “But… oops! Too late…”













Princess Yoyo is quite the sentimental lass. After arriving at the Church of Memories, she tells you the legend of how when two people who love each other come here, they’ll be destined to be together forever. She’ll then ask you if you want to go in. You can answer by saying “Yeah, let’s try going in” or “No way!” If you pick the former, she’ll respond “Tee hee… I’m just kidding… it’s still too early for us… we should have brought Matelite too.” Princess Yoyo is a tease after all, I guess.













Princess Yoyo changes the beat and things get a little more serious. I love this scene. It felt like something pulled right out of a Hollywood film. It reminds me of some girls I’ve known… sometimes they want you to promise them in the moment even if it’s a lie… it’s moments like this that make you forget for a split second that you’re playing a video game. At least, it was for me here.







Switching back to some lighthearted tomfoolery on a dime, Bahamut Lagoon does a good job of balancing things with the right amount of humor at the right time.














Before each chapter fight begins, you can adjust a variety of options and also scout the competition. This includes enemy health and even how many squares they can move. Once you’re ready, I like to take the fight right to them!













Usually before you can even attack, your dragon will launch its own strike automatically. This is nice for softening them up. Then it’s your turn. A direct hit is always satisfying, a MISS is always demoralizing.













Keeping your parties fresh by healing them when appropriate is the key to success. As with any other RPG, it’s winning 101. The cool thing about Bahamut Lagoon is that your characters can also be healed just by standing on the right square (i.e. squares containing a building). However, keep in mind that the same applies to the enemy.







Dragons are honestly overpowered, making this game even easier than it already is. But damn if it isn’t still fun watching the destruction unfold!







Sometimes your dragon will be flanked in all directions. This has the potential to be disastrous. On the bright side, it also leaves the enemies extremely vulnerable when clustered as such. A magic blast can potentially strike all groups at once for optimal damage.













Depending on the character, some are better off using magic attacks due to their physical attacks being shit. But the mini devils are the most infuriating to me. Too many times their offense will fail and you literally get a Fail! caption. You can almost hear Squaresoft’s evil crackle as it happens. There’s a reason why I sub out the mini devils as soon as I can…













Lanzenritter (no relation to John), the boss of Chapter 1, is quick to abandon ship once you prove your superiority. Bahamut Lagoon has some gorgeous visuals as you can see here.







Emperor Sauzer has kidnapped the princess and taken her to the green continent of Campbell. Palpaleos can’t sleep and decides to “check up” on Princess Yoyo in the middle of the night. It isn’t long before Sauzer has the same restless affliction and finds that his general has beaten him to the punch. They watch Princess Yoyo in the darkness as they talk — not creepy at all — and later find themselves contemplating the legend of the Holy Dragons…








Farnheit sets sail for Campbell… but first, some basic training and words of encouragement are in order.







Matelite, captain of the guards of Kahna, gives a pep talk the likes of which George Lucas would approve of. Matelite even states that they won’t be known as the Freedom Force but rather the Resistance. Hmmm, where have I heard that before?















Environmental hazards come into play. Using fire magic in such areas will cause a fire to break out, which will harm anyone caught in its path. Good stuff. There’s plenty more cool tricks to discover in the game’s 27 chapters, which I’ll let you discover on your own.








Upgraded magic spells get bigger and crazier in classic RPG fashion.







Speaking of bigger and crazier, that’s what will happen to your dragons if you feed them accordingly. Don’t be shy to experiment — you never know which new forms you may unlock!







Speaking of the dragons, take good care of them. They can catch colds. Hell, they can even get married! Yeah… I’ll let you figure that one out on your own… :P







Beginning around Chapter 6 or so, a side quest option is available to select. From here you can pick either Granbelos Fortress or Easy Dungeon. It’s basically a place to level up your characters, earn more items and money. The background sadly stays the same for both side quests throughout the rest of the game. The only thing that changes are the enemies. A third bonus side quest, Hard Dungeon, opens up later on and is insanely difficult. Enter at your own risk!







Landscapes vary. Some are standard but a few get pretty creative and crazy. Take, for example, the cave where the walls are organic and will close and open on every turn. If caught while it’s closed, those party members will be rendered useless for the duration of that round. I do think there could have been a little bit more variety and imagination but what Squaresoft did give us is satisfactory.


Donfan is probably the one character I remember most when all was said and done, simply because he had the most outlandish lines and he was such a creepy pervert. His interactions with the female characters never failed to entertain. A perfect comic relief character. I don’t think I used him in battle once :P


Bahamut Lagoon translator “Dark Force” was not too pleased with Squaresoft…


And here I thought Donfan was the pervert of the group!


[Always knew Steve was a perv -Ed.]


From a certain perspective, sure it can be. In the game’s context, most definitely. You’ll just have to play it to fully understand…


After you beat Bahamut Lagoon, an “Ex-Play” option is made available at the title select screen. This allows you to play through the game again but with your current levels, items, weapons, spells and money. Basically you’re overpowered from the start and the amount of destruction you can unleash is quite satisfying!



It’s a shame Bahamut Lagoon never received a proper North American release. But it’s understandable. Released in Japan on February 9, 1996, it would have been mid ’96 at least until a translated copy would have hit North American stores. The SNES was on life support by then and Square didn’t want to chance it with an unproven new IP. As such, Bahamut Lagoon faded into “obscurity.” Only the most diehard of RPG and SNES fans kept clamoring for it and keeping its memory alive. Then when our boys translated the game, it reached a whole new audience. Nowadays, it’s often held in high regards. Sure, there are some critics who claim the whole thing is far too easy (they’re not wrong) and that it’s not as great as they had hoped, but the majority seems to love it more than not.

Well deserving of the spotlight!
Well deserving of the spotlight!



For years I had heard the hype surrounding Bahamut Lagoon. I’m glad I finally made time to play through it. Being a strategy RPG, it’s a little different from your typical SNES RPG which I found infinitely refreshing. Battles are long and I like how the game is broken up into 27 chapters. It’s almost like reading a great book. Playing one chapter at a time is enough to scratch your itch for the night. Rinse and repeat. Carefully positioning each group in your party while managing your individual and collective resources is satisfying even though the game is so easy that you could “brute force” your way through without much of an issue. Still, I like to be efficient and make sound tactical decisions wherever possible.


The addition of the dragons is a clever and intriguing gimmick. They’re a wild card, making each fight slightly unpredictable since control of them is rather limited. Feeding them is simple and handled well. It’s quick and easy, and doesn’t really detract from the game’s flow and pace. If anything, it’s a nice momentary break from the lengthy battles. The ability to alter your dragons depending on what you feed them helps with the game’s longevity, not to mention the nifty Ex-Play mode which is unlocked after you beat the 27th chapter. Graphically, the game looks gorgeous. Massive and detailed dragon designs that look like they were plucked straight out of a top selling manga, awesome spell attacks and amazing usage of parallax are just some of the key highlights. The music is classic Squaresoft — it’s epic and memorable! You can’t help but feel like there’s a spectacular struggle for power and world domination happening right in front of you thanks to the game’s stellar soundtrack.

Another fine Square masterpiece!
Another fine Square masterpiece!

If you consider yourself a fan of 16-bit RPGs and miss the golden age of role playing games but have yet to play Bahamut Lagoon, you should probably rectify that at your earliest convenience. It’s a grand adventure that’s just begging to be experienced at least once. It’s not Final Fantasy III or Chrono Trigger, but hey, what is? It’s brilliant in its own way and easily makes the cut as one of my top 10 favorite RPGs on the SNES. If you’ve ever wanted to summon a big ass dragon and have said beast blast a bunch of bastards to Kingdom Come, then Bahamut Lagoon is definitely right up your alley.

Graphics: 9
Sound: 9
Gameplay: 9
Longevity: 9

Award4Overall: 9.0
Gold Award

... or is it?
… or is it?
"Ill be back!" No he wont...
“I’ll be back…”  No, you won’t :P

Run Saber (SNES)

Pub: Atlus | Dev: Horisoft | June 1993 | 8 MEGS
Pub: Atlus | Dev: Horisoft | June 1993 | 8 MEGS

One of my sore disappointments when it comes to the SNES is the fact that we never got a Strider game. Whether a port of the 1989 arcade classic or a kick ass sequel, it just wasn’t meant to be. I mean, how ridiculously sick would Super Strider have been? We’re talking BADASSERY on a grand scale! But thankfully, a little company by the name of Horisoft offered Super Nintendo owners a small consolation prize in the form of Run Saber. Although it’s no Strider, it’s definitely the closest thing to it on the SNES. And it sports a 2-player co-op mode. Not bad for a company that only has one title to its name!

Strider was such a cool game
Strider was such a cool game
Run Saber has a lot of similarities
Run Saber has a lot of similarities
Good times
Good times


Nintendo Power was the best with their descriptions
Nintendo Power was the best with their descriptions

Fun Useless Fact 1: I had a huge crush on a girl named Sheena back in the 8th grade.

Fun Useless Fact 2: I got her number one day and it took me an hour just to muster up the courage to call her. It was just like that one Wonder Years episode!








Futuristic Earth is not a pretty sight. The year is 2998 and Earth is hopelessly polluted.







Mankind’s last chance for a clean planet rests in the hands of Captain Planet Dr. Bruford. He has devised a plan to use radiation to trigger a change. Unfortunately, the experiment went horribly wrong and Dr. Bruford was mutated. Now he and his army of the unholy are looking to conquer Earth!







Fortunately, not all hope is lost. Enter the Run Sabers. Cybernetically advanced humans with the raw power to level cities, Allen and Sheena stand as Earth’s defenders and the last true bastion of hope.








Enhance your slash range by picking up the appropriate power-up. Allen’s slash looks just like Strider Hiryu’s… hmmm…







Scaling walls and causing tons of debris to fly everywhere is just another day at the office.







Another power-up allows you to perform a killer spinning attack. I love how you can cling to various scaffolds and lift yourself up.







Speaking of clinging, you’ll be doing lots of that!







Expansive and mysterious, eh? I wonder what will come out…







Excuse me for being slightly disappointed, I was just expecting something more than that. But what isn’t disappointing is Allen’s picture perfect jump kick.







Multiple tiers and platforms allow you to play a game of cat and mouse with this mini boss. Gotta love the explosions. Classic ’90s SNES stuff.







Peculiar enemies litter this once defunct command center that is now fully operational. It’s hard to miss but make sure you don’t rush to the exit — handy items could be lying nearby…







Horisoft had quite the sick imagination. Like something out of a nightmare, these weird and wicked female ghouls come bursting out of the wall with homing missiles ready to greet you.







Sliding to avoid the missiles by the hair of your chinny chin chin is way too cool. Speaking of cool, strike a pose whenever you beat a (mini) boss.







Interesting choice of colors here. Why do I suddenly feel like brushing my teeth? It’s moments like this that sometimes makes Run Saber feel rushed or incomplete.







Motion sickness be damned! This fighter jet takes you up, down and all around before revealing the evil that lurks within.







Enemies start popping up from the tail and mid-section of the jet. They’re easily subdued with a single slash.







Destroy the last one near the nose and enjoy the flying debris.







Hideous and tormented, this mechanical brain-like boss doesn’t put up much of a fight. In fact, most of the bosses in this game sadly don’t.







Brownie points though for the neat setting. Shades of Contra III.













Experience the gnarly power of MODE 7! :D








Without a doubt the best looking stage in this game, Tong City is flat out gorgeous. But beware of the statues — some will spring to life and try to send you to the afterlife!

Reminiscent of Run Saber. I hope they don't come alive!
Illusion of Gaia had a similar scene, hmmm…







Fortunately, you can break incoming spears. Be careful not to get fried!







Sliding is mandatory here. Watch out for evil Mr. Clean.







Graphical glitches do crop up here and there, as seen above. The night life in Tong City is so beautiful that you can’t resist going back there.







Unfortunately for you, the locals aren’t so friendly. I love slashing the spear men in half. Shocking that Nintendo of America didn’t censor that.







Recurring mid-boss, that one. It’s Proto Man Kurtz, your cyborg predecessor. He retreats once defeated and it’s back to the teeming night life you go.







Strider flashbacks, anyone? That spinning ball of destruction never gets old.







Patience is key… as is holding on!







Another mini boss of sorts, this rock monster slightly resembles Godzilla. And in typical action movie style, our hero leaps out of harm’s way just in the nick of time. Actually, those explosions can’t hurt you but it’s a lot more fun pretending they can!














Coolest looking boss in the game is hands down the Wicked Witch. That’s Konami or Capcom level of creativity and intrigue!







Beware of the lasers that fire out of her fingertips. Unleash your ultimate special attack to put the bitch down!








Things start off fast with a mini boss fight in the form of a vicious giant hawk. From the night time city to the open wilderness you go! Swing from the vines like Tarzan. Chest beating optional.







Elongated beasts will try to ambush you from the walls. And is it just me or does that enemy walking around there look like a cheesy bad kaiju suit from the ’60s? :P







Claustrophobics need not apply! That armored beast is yet another, you guessed it, mini boss fight.







Winged demons swoop in looking for a meal. Get past them and face Skeltor the Dragon. Skeltor once roamed the surface of the Earth eons ago but has been extinct for ages. That was until a parasite brought the fossilized fire-breather back to life! Life, uh, finds a way, does it not, Dr. Ian Malcolm?








Entering an ancient mining facility, you’ll have to carefully navigate your way around a pair of swinging spiky balls. Sliding works well even if sometimes you cut it close!







Clinging on to dear life, Allen works his way through and does the spin cycle to take out a creepy looking mercenary.







Obliterate more mutant freaks on your way to another mini boss fight. This time it comes in the form of a giant flying knight. Watch out for his massive sword and projectiles.







Gargantuan spiky wheels plummet from the heavens right before your battle with Kurtz once more.







Sothern Jambalaya (such a weird name) has been overtaken by a mutant parasite and is now a raging machine of death! Your first task is to move to the right while avoiding the blue electric blasts the mechanical creature emits. Once you reach the vertical shaft, jump up and grab onto the beams while hacking away.







Slowly but surely you’ll strip it piece by piece until it crashes back down a twisted heap of scrap and metal.








There’s definitely a Contra vibe to this last level. Slice open the dim-witted mutant zombies but beware of the dangerous glop that flies out as a result. Luckily, you can strike those down with a well placed slash.







Visually, this last level was a bit of a letdown. It feels a bit rushed as the background just isn’t very interesting or creative. But there certainly is no shortage of minor bosses to battle.







Navigate your way through the hellhole and grab any helpful items you can.







Foreshadowing is always nice. But first, you must fight Kurtz for the final time.







Lovecraftian in nature, this mini boss screams H.R. Giger from Alien fame.







Getting frisky there, are we? Slide to the other side to avoid getting violated (unless of course you like that sort of thing). The final boss reminds me of a mix between the Robo-Corpse from Contra III and Freddy Krueger on steroids.







Without a doubt the hardest boss in the game, you’ll need all your special attacks you can muster!








Pollution ceases and Earth recovers. The Run Sabers have not only saved the day but the planet as well. The ending shot is a peaceful and promising sunset of a better tomorrow soon to come.








Sheena plays very similarly to Allen with the only minor difference in terms of gameplay being that Sheena’s attack covers a little more ground vertically while Allen’s is more horizontal. Her slash reminds me a lot of Guile’s Flash Kick.








Hardcore Gaming 101 cites that the original plan was for the second boss to be a reclining giant woman. Nintendo of America didn’t like the idea of kids beating up on a woman so the switch was made to instead use a zombie witch. In a rare instance of censorship working out, I actually prefer the change. The zombie witch not only looks better but it definitely comes across as more menacing and memorable.


Reminds me of something...
Reminds me of something…

The art for Run Saber, with the artist’s name sketched in a corner, has an oddly familiar feel to it. Is it just me or does it remind anyone else of the Goosebumps books?


Definitely not the same artist but the signatures are reminiscent of each other along with the “93” number next to both artists’ names, indicating the year the art was drawn. Just me? Alright, moving on then…



Run Saber was fairly well received by the critics. Although GameFan never reviewed it, they spoke of it very favorably in the preview. EGM was going through a funky experimental stage with its review system when Run Saber came out. Rather than the traditional four reviewers, for a couple months they had some reviews featuring just one score, tucked away on the side of the page. EGM gave Run Saber a rating of 8. Super Play, however, was less impressed. Essentially calling it a homeless man’s Strider, Super Play rated it 59%.

I'm glad EGM didn't keep this scoring system for long
I’m glad EGM didn’t keep this scoring system for long
Too harsh once again, Super Play. Too harsh...
Too harsh once again, Super Play. Too harsh…
Oh yeah? Take THAT, Super Play
Oh yeah? Take THAT, Super Play

Run Saber is often held in solid regards within SNES circles. Most acknowledge it as a fun 2-player game and it frequently receives praise by appearing on many SNES 2-player recommendation lists that various retro gamers have constructed over the years. Similar to the previously reviewed Goof Troop, there are only five short stages but what fun you’ll have with a friend in tow.




I’m still kind of sad we never got a proper Strider game on the SNES back in the day. But I’m certainly grateful for Run Saber. While it may be a far cry from the glory that is Strider, Run Saber is very competent and enjoyable in its own right. It’s also the closest thing to Strider on the SNES as one can get, and that 2-player option helps it tons, too. It’s pretty bare bones though — what you see is what you get. Visually, the game is a mixed bag. There are parts, namely Tong City, that look absolutely stunning but then there are way too many stretches that come across as rather drab and uninspired.


The music isn’t anything to write home about and the floaty jumps can sometimes annoy. The control hovers around fine, although it’s not super crisp. For example, climbing and clinging are great in theory but in the chaos it’s easy to get nicked when doing so by the horde of mutant freaks. On the bright side, Run Saber is never too hard where this hampers the game beyond a reasonable point. In fact, Run Saber is far too easy for its own good. And with only five short levels to its name, it won’t last you terribly long to blow through the whole thing in less than 40 minutes or so.


But bottom line, it’s just a fun game. Run Saber is a short but sweet ride while it lasts. Maybe it didn’t quite live up to its full potential and maybe its development was slightly rushed, but the fact that it still turned out to be pretty good says a lot. It’s just plain fun to slice spear throwing samurais in half and dismantle mechanical monstrosities limb by limb. There’s something very satisfying about that. I also dig its distinctively dystopian post-apocalyptic setting. From the moment you first land on Taj Base you can just sense that something is terribly not right. And that you are the cure summoned to right all these sordid wrongs. Malpractice and mutants run rampant, and it’s your mission to terminate all the viruses and parasites that have ravaged Mother Earth. A solid and steady side scrolling slash ‘em up, Run Saber is one of the better 2-player action games on the SNES in spite of its various shortcomings. Because at the end of the day, fun always wins out and this game is definitely a good time.

Graphics: 7
Sound: 7
Gameplay: 7.5
Longevity: 6.5

AwardOverall: 7.5
Bronze Award


... or is it? No, it is :P
Ah, nothing like the promise of a better tomorrow…

Goof Troop (SNES)

Pub & Dev: Capcom | July 1993 | 4 MEGS
Pub & Dev: Capcom | July 1993 | 4 MEGS

Capcom has a long track record with their video game adaptations of the Disney Afternoon. With solid hits on the NES such as the Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers series, Darkwing Duck and the DuckTales games, as a kid back in the early ’90s it was exciting to ponder the 16-bit possibilities. Capcom’s first Disney Afternoon game on the SNES was Goof Troop. But rather than doing your typical platformer (as was so often the case with these sort of games), Capcom decided to switch things up a bit. Goof Troop features top-down action with puzzle elements thrown in for good measure. Some even say that Goof Troop is slightly reminiscent of a more streamlined Zelda. Obviously it’s nowhere as fantastic as Link to the Past but just being able to draw those pseudo comparisons speaks to the game’s quality. There are only five short levels but it’s a sweet ride while it lasts. Best of all, a 2-player option allows you and a buddy to play as the father-son duo of Goofy and Max. Use brawn and brains alike to rescue Pete and PJ from an awful pirate kidnapping. Not merely an action affair, it’s a bit of a thinking man’s game with just enough brain teasers to satisfy beyond the typical SNES action game.



Being a kid in the early ’90s rocked. Thanks to awesome video games (the NES and later the 16-bit war) and television programming (TGIF and the Disney Afternoon), growing up back then was a magical and special time indeed. The Disney Afternoon made its debut on September 10, 1990. It ran four 30 minute cartoon shows from the 3 to 5 o’clock hour. For two hours, right after school, grade school kids would just plop themselves in front of their TV to watch great Disney cartoons such as DuckTales, Darkwing Duck, Aladdin and Gargoyles just to name some. Fridays were the best because it signaled the end of the school week and you celebrated it by watching two hours of the Disney Afternoon followed later that night by two hours of TGIF (with classic shows such as Family Matters and Full House). It was the perfect veg out way to kick off a kid’s glorious weekend. And that happened EVERY Friday back in the early to mid ’90s. Man, TV was the shit back then!


Goop Troop made its Disney Afternoon debut during season 3 (1992-1993). Premiering on September 5, 1992, Goof Troop ran for nearly 80 episodes. It also had two feature length movies produced (A Goofy Movie in 1995 and An Extremely Goofy Movie in 2000). Goof Troop focuses on the father-son relationship between single father Goofy and his son, Max. Along with the always entertaining neighbor, Pete (and his own family), Goof Troop was a great show and one of my favorites. The father-son aspect made it unique and special.

The first one is really good and underrated
The first one is really good and underrated

But perhaps the best thing about Goof Troop was its stellar intro. Cartoons used to have the best songs and intros, and Goof Troop was no exception. I mean, just check it out for yourself!

It’s a crime not to like that.


So being a huge fan of the show, I was thrilled to no ends when I started seeing Goof Troop previews in the pages of GameFan back in 1993. The SNES was getting its first Disney Afternoon game at long last. Although I was disappointed we never got a DuckTales or Darkwing Duck game on the Super Nintendo, I was grateful for Goof Troop.

Thanks for all the memories, Disney Afternoon!
Thanks for all the memories, Disney Afternoon!



As the show’s theme song goes, “We’re the Goof Troop, and we always stick together.” The 2-player mode is teamwork personified. Look no further than being able to toss objects back and forth as desired.



Up to two tools can be carried at any time. Should you already have two and want to pick up a new item, you’ll swap the currently selected one with the new one.








Another gorgeous sunny day in Spoonerville, Goofy and company headed out to the ocean for some fishing. Cruising for the big ones in open water, Pete and PJ were suddenly caught in the ominous shadow of a gigantic ship.







Victims of a pirate kidnapping, the towering ship set sail for Spoonerville Island. Goofy and Max rowed for all they were worth but they couldn’t catch the pirate ship before it landed on the island. Determined to save their friends, Goofy and Max set out to explore the island and find the pirate stronghold.







Presentation is simple yet slick in that classic Capcom way. Goofy is slower and stronger while Max is faster and weaker. When playing with a friend, I recommend Goofy for the more experienced player and Max for the other (Max’s speed makes life easier for novices).








Spoonerville Island consists of five levels. After landing on shore, an islander is ready to greet you and offer a few tips.







Cherries add hearts to your life. Grab the hookshot. Then talk to the islander and go on your merry way.







Enemies are defeated when you throw boulders and blocks at them. The same goes for snakes, except the hookshot can conveniently thwart their efforts as well.







Barrels and pots are fair game, too. Goof Troop has its fair share of puzzles. These usually consist of the “kick the blocks in the square” variety. The first one is easy peasy but they gradually tick up in difficulty.







Shovels allow you to dig for goodies. Certain blocks can be kicked, taking out any enemy caught in its path.







Unable to cross the bridge due to the gap, you spy a board lying in the far corner. You’ll have to work your way around in order to grab it, but once you do, you’ll be able to pass to the next section.







There’s something satisfying about clearing a room of its enemies and using your hookshot to grab the items.







Puzzles grow increasingly harder. Love the palm trees. A nice touch, for sure.







Puzzles, though they increase in difficulty, never get too out of hand. Nothing that a little staring contemplatively at the screen won’t solve!







Kicking a block into a bad guy never gets old.







Remember Whac-A-Mole? The first boss, Jester Hole, is a lot like that. Except you catch their barrels (and even bombs) and throw it back at their sorry faces. A password is given once you clear the stage, along with a tally of your time.








Questioning the jester goons on the whereabouts of Pete and PJ, we come to find out that the pirates mistook Pete for Keelhaul Pete, Pete’s evil pirate doppelgänger. This leads our heroes to the local village for answers where they’re immediately greeted by a pair of not-so-friendly locals. No rest for the wicked!







Another puzzle but this time the stakes are raised. You have to solve it while avoiding the fireballs.







Snakes are no match for the hookshot. Enemies get a little tougher as the game progresses — those guys can heave their swords at you!







Lollygag here and you’re screwed!













Hookshot can be used to cross gaps or procure goodies far away. Nice.







Rolling enemies are fast and deadly. Better slip into an alcove for safety. The second boss, Fire Bug, makes Dhalsim green with envy.







Beware of the torches. After exhausting the barrels at the bottom of the screen, you’ll have to catch incoming barrels from the locals.








Damnit, almost under 20 minutes. Always fun to try and best your time. Goofy and Max find themselves standing before a huge fortress. Goofy suggests knocking but Max knows it’s going to take more than that…







Maybe not that much more, though.







Cannonballs come firing in different directions. Spikes come into play as well. Keep an eye on that armored suit… it’ll spring to life!







Darkness reigns in some rooms, so find the candle to widen the scope.







Harvest Moon, Goofy wants to audition!







Casually strolling by with not a care in the world like only Goofy can. Catch the bombs and give it a taste of its own medicine.







Armored suits resurrect unless you damage them when they’re down. By the way, notice the crack in the wall there? Hmmm…







Ringing the bell makes the bad guy come to you. Line him up and take him out.







Doesn’t take a genius to solve this one :P







Protection? No such thing in Goof Troop. Pots travel through even walls. And although the hookshot doesn’t directly eliminate a bad guy, it can be used to push one over the edge. Sweet!







Turning a corner in a dark room only to run into a bad guy inches away is quite the tense moment. Make your way to the boss room before that moving wall crushes you.







Reanimated skeletons are bad to the bone, literally. Avoid the bones they’ll chuck your way, then grab them and heave it back at them. Heads will roll!








Always fun to see the clear time under 20 minutes. Meanwhile, Pete and PJ are treated as royalty. The pirates don’t realize that’s not really their leader, Keelhaul Pete. The idjits.







There’s a chill in the air, brrrr. These caverns are damp and cold. Bundle up!







Barrels R Us! Get your arms up and catch those bad boys, then chuck it right back at them. But be careful, they can catch them too!







Exploding blocks add some extra depth to the puzzles.







Frozen rooms are slippery and a little trickier to navigate. Light up those flames before time runs out to open the door.







Quickly set the blocks in place while avoiding certain death.







Nothing like lining them up and mowing them down :D







Falling boulders are a great hazard. Ride the mine cart and take out any poor sap caught in your way.







Solving a puzzle in a dark room is definitely annoying. And so is being in a room with no barrels or pots to throw. But both instances up the difficulty a bit, which is sorely lacking in this game.







Brainteaser, this one.







Waterfall blocks your path. Clear it and then come back to enter the boss lair.







Rumblers crawl about looking to ruin your day. Grab the rocks that fall and let ‘em have it. Damn, almost 23 minutes. I wish more games from that era listed your clear times. It’s a detail I’ve always appreciated.














Having spotted his neighbor and pal, Pete, Goofy rushes in only to fumble the situation in classic Goofy fashion. That’s when our heroes realize that’s the pirate king, Keelhaul Pete!







Graphically, the previous level was a bit drab. Thankfully, this last level looks a lot better as it’s filled with lush colors.







Hooray for being able to catch bombs. That conveyor belt could not come faster.







Crashing the party like only Goofy can, he really knows how to let loose. Hell, he’s about to jump on one of those tables and pull a Pee-wee Herman. No, not THAT. Thank God not that. I’m talking about the classic TEQUILA scene from Pee-wee’s Big Adventure. Later on, a tricky puzzle stands in the way between you and the key.







Shifting holes in the ground make this a bit tricky to navigate, especially for the impatient and hasty player.







Catching barrels from bad guys is the best. But always keep in mind they can do the same!







Keelhaul Pete stands between you and paradise. Watch out for his spin attack and his extendable hook.













Keelhaul Pete is done for, and you rescue your friends in the end. All’s well that ends well. The ending screenshot displays your total play time. Again, I wish more games from that era did this as well. It’s a nice little touch, especially for those who like to chart their play time.



Goof Troop for the most part was well received in North America. GameFan raved about it in its preview, although they never reviewed the final product. Magilla from GameFan had this to say: “The magic of Capcom and Disney is back! The game is kind of like Zelda with just the dungeons. Capcom’s done a great job with the interaction between each player in the 2-player mode. In one situation, you’ll come across a room full of pirates. One player will use a bell, which will distract the pirates, while the other player moves by them undetected to flip a switch… way cool. It’s not Zelda, but it’s a great game.” EGM gave it ratings of 8, 8, 8 and 7. Super Play was a little less impressed though, rating it 69%. James Leach reported, “Goof Troop could have been excellent. It just needs a bit more variety, a bit more difficulty and, in fact, a bit more everything. So be wary, challenge fans.”

Heres what I say to that!
Here’s what I say to that!

Mr. Leach certainly was right when he said the game could use more difficulty. It’s quite the cakewalk. But I strongly disagree that it could, “in fact, use a bit more everything.” But don’t take my word for it. Goof Troop is often held in pretty high regards among SNES fans.




Capcom’s Disney Afternoon debut on the Super Nintendo was a success. There’s a reason why so many retro gamers often cite Goof Troop on recommendation lists along the lines of “Underrated SNES Games” and “SNES Hidden Gems.” It’s easy to pick up and play. The visuals are simple yet colorful and extremely inviting — the game’s overall look and aesthetic just makes you want to explore Spoonerville Island and discover what lurks behind every last nook and cranny. Animations are great and there are some bouncy tunes to bob along to, with each theme fitting that particular part of the island quite well. I especially love the sound effects. The sound of gaining a life is deeply embedded in my mind even all these years later. But the main ingredient that Goof Troop nails is the gameplay. It’s a breath of fresh air; I feel there aren’t nearly enough games like this on the SNES, which makes Goof Troop all the more unique and special.


Teamwork is the name of the game, and Goof Troop easily stands as one of the shining examples of 2-player co-op SNES experiences. Not only are Goofy and Max distinctively different, but the ability to catch and throw blocks in addition to a number of other strategies makes it a very rewarding 2-player team effort. It’s still fun when playing alone but the true magic lies in teaming up with a buddy. Items are perfectly allocated and the game flows extremely well. There’s almost never a dull moment or a stretch where there isn’t some fun gimmick to employ in one way or another. The puzzles are on the easier side (sans the final one) and you could beat the game on your first try. It’s not one of the all-time greats in the SNES pantheon by any stretch but as far as “best of the rest” goes, Goof Troop deserves its place in any well-rounded SNES collection.

Graphics: 7.5
Sound: 8
Gameplay: 8.5
Longevity: 7

Overall: 8.5

Double Silver Award
Double Silver Award




Classic Capcom
Classic Capcom :)

Final Fight 3 (SNES)

Pub & Dev: Capcom | January 1996 | 24 MEGS
Pub & Dev: Capcom | January 1996 | 24 MEGS

The original Final Fight was ported over to the Super Famicom on December 21, 1990. It came out exactly one month after the Super Famicom launched in Japan. Final Fight 3 came out five whopping years later, landing in Japan on December 22, 1995. This time however, instead of being a revolutionary console on the upswing, the SNES was a grizzled vet practically on its last leg. Capcom cranked up the voltage as Final Fight 3 clocked in at an impressive 24 MEGS, making it the largest beat ‘em up on the SNES in terms of megabits. It featured branching paths, special moves, SUPER special moves and even a 2-player mode where the second player can be controlled by the computer if you didn’t have a buddy nearby. Capcom definitely redeemed themselves for the disappointment that was Final Fight 2. Let’s head back to Metro City one final time…



I remember seeing previews for Final Fight 3 and Mega Man X³ in the back pages of GameFan in late 1995. Capcom was back at it milking more sequels than Friday the 13th. But that’s fine by me. Final Fight 2 was a sore disappointment and I had pretty decent hopes that they might get it right with Final Fight 3. Mega Man X³ looked like a welcomed addition to the series and it was just nice to see the Big C still supporting the Super Nintendo.


My brother and I hadn’t ‘upgraded’ to the PlayStation or Sega Saturn yet. We clung on to our Super Nintendo during its twilight years, although we certainly didn’t play it as much as we had done during the system’s peak. Still, I remember feeling like Final Fight 3 and Mega Man X³ was something of a last bastion of hope. A beacon of light in the darkness for the remaining loyal SNES fans who stuck by the system’s side even in its dying days.


Final Fight 3 is something of a special game to me in many ways. My family moved in late January of 1996. My childhood home. The place where I carved out countless memories with my parents, brother, uncle and friends for 10 years. The place that meant so much to me and was more than a town, more than a suburb. It was, in many ways, the wonder years.


And Final Fight 3, of the hundreds and hundreds of SNES games I rented from 1991-1996, proved to be the final (har har) Super Nintendo game I ever rented while living in my childhood home. In fact, it was just the weekend before we moved. I remember playing it with moving boxes all around the living room, cleaning up the streets of Metro City one last time alongside my older brother. Made for some good times and memories. As such, Final Fight 3 will always hold a special place in my heart.



Guy returns! As does good old standby, Mike Haggar, complete with a brand new ponytail. Some fans are split on the look but I always dug it. Dean and Lucia are the two newcomers. Bye bye Carlos and Maki from Final Fight 2. Honestly, I never liked them much.

Height: 5'10" Weight: 159 lbs Hobby: Ninjitsu
Height: 5’10”
Weight: 159 lbs
Hobby: Ninjitsu

After completing a martial arts training trip, Guy returns to Metro City only to find himself caught up in a riot. He is happy to once again team up with his old comrade, Mayor Mike Haggar, and bring justice to Metro City once and for all.

Height: 6'6" Weight: 214 lbs Hobby: Driving (fast)
Height: 6’6″
Weight: 214 lbs
Hobby: Driving (fast)

A former street fighter with a thorough knowledge of Skull Cross gang operations. He always carries a small picture of his family wherever he goes. The Skull Cross maniacs slaughtered his family when he refused to join up. Now Dean seeks swift retribution and some good old fashioned cold blooded vengeance!

Height: 5'8" Weight: 115 lbs Hobby: Cooking (not a good cook)
Height: 5’8″
Weight: 115 lbs
Hobby: Cooking (not a good cook)

A detective in Metro City’s Special Crimes unit, Lucia became Haggar’s ally after he helped clear her of a corruption charge. Now she’s returning him the favor.

Height: 6'7" Weight: 269 lbs Hobby: Politics
Height: 6’7″
Weight: 269 lbs
Hobby: Politics

The most popular mayor Metro City has ever known, Mike Haggar seems to become more powerful with age. And who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks? Haggar has a few new moves up his sleeve… well, if he wore sleeves. Ah, you get the expression.



Well, that’s Super Play’s interpretation, anyhow. Classic SPLAY. No, here’s the real plot…







Classic Metro City map from the first Final Fight returns.







“GODDAMN look at you, Guy! Looking good as ever. How did your training go?”

“I picked up a few new tricks…”







“Metro City is under attack! If we don’t intervene quick, the Skull Cross gang is going to rip the city apart!”








“Does it really matter? All you need to know is I know where those scumbags are headed.”

“I guess I don’t have much of a choice. But if you’re lying, I’m gonna kick the shit out of you!”














Questions abound — will the Skull Cross gang succeed where the Mad Gear gang failed? Will Dean get his revenge? Will Haggar’s ponytail choke a bitch? Let’s find out!







Japanese version on the right. Notice that it’s much fancier and was known as Final Fight Tough over in Japan.








Running attacks are new to Final Fight 3. Each character also has a special move which is executed in Street Fighter fashion. These new tricks really add to the gameplay and helps to keep things fresh.













Another brilliant addition by Capcom, SUPER special moves can be performed when you fill up a small meter at the bottom of the screen. SUPER specials inflict a ton of damage, not to mention they just look frigging cool.







Barrels contain goodies to recharge your health or boost your point total. Making your way through Metro City Police Station, incarcerated members of the Skull Cross gang can be seen from behind their prison cells. Nice touch, along with the dim flickering lights.







Capcom delivers a nice tip of the hat to its roots. This scene is reminiscent of the car bonus stage from the first Final Fight. “OH! MY CAR” remains one of the most memorable lines in gaming history.







Known for its big beefy bosses, Final Fight 3 continues that tradition well. Meet Dave, a corrupt massive cop gone rogue. Gorilla slam his ass into oblivion, Ultimate Warrior style.







Unfortunately, our heroes were duped. The Skull Cross gang staged the riot to keep the police busy as they freed one of their leaders from prison. Meanwhile, Dean apologizes for before. He didn’t have time to explain then. He tells them he was a former street fighter on the circuit, and when he refused to join the Skull Cross gang, they slaughtered his family. Now it’s payback time!








Haggar loves to show off his sinewy tight muscles as he sprints ahead. Now that Costco is infamously no longer selling their $1.50 polish dogs, everyone is flocking to Metro City for their hot dog needs.







Although perhaps not quite mutant, I like how Final Fight 3 introduces some gray area into some of their bad guys. I’ve always preferred my beat ‘em ups to stray a bit from the beaten path. Some of the fat enemies don’t look quite human. It’s almost like some of them are failed experiments gone wrong, or right, depending on your perspective.







Speaking of paths, one of the best things about Final Fight 3 is that there are multiple routes to take. Bust that door open and you’ll enter the Club. And speaking of best, what’s better than finding a big piece of BBQ chicken (that will fully recover your health) when you’re just one hit away from dying?







Callman, another big beefy (bald) badass, will kick the ever living shit out of you if you aren’t careful. The furniture goes flying!







Haggar’s mighty axe swing helps even up the odds.







Callman would be a hell of a linebacker in the NFL. I love how he’s so damn big that Haggar’s spinning piledriver on him looks a bit ridiculous!







Destroy the fence instead however and you’ll find yourself in a rundown park. Notice on the bench (zoom in if you’re on a mobile device) the word FUK. How that slipped by Nintendo of America… I’ll never know! You still fight Callman at the end here if you take this route.








Shattering glass windows is quite satisfying. This stage allows you to take a shortcut and skip directly to the next level by breaking the bus stop sign. But if you don’t, a bus will come by to pick you up.







Daaaamn! That’s the first thing I thought when I first boarded this bus. Look at the size of that ham hock! It’s almost big enough to fit a T-Rex.







Electrocute the competition with Dean’s mighty fist. There was a rumor that Dean is really a robot but that’s never been confirmed. Also, because the game refers to his family, that’s reason to believe the robot theory is off. Andore makes his first appearance here. Get too close and he’ll choke the hell out of you.







Showing off his strength, Dean lifts Andore high over his head before sending him crashing down across his knee. Ouch! Talk about a mean back breaker.







Eventually the bus stops at a scrap yard. Next stop: ELECTRIC AVENUE!







Soaring high into the air, Dean’s SUPER special is a throw from the heavens.







Jumping on top of the bus now, Dean faces off with Caine and his cronies. Caine is a lot tougher than Dave and Callman.







Caine’s odd design left me feeling a little unsettled as a kid. The hunchback, the abnormally long arms and incredibly shrunken head made him exactly the kind of creep you wouldn’t want to run into down a dark alley…








Destroying the bus sign allows you to skip the bus and fighting Caine. It takes you straight to the docks. Haggar loves a beautiful sunset.







Andore continues his progressive transformation toward becoming a full time Frankenstein. Watch out for those killer abs!







Running attacks brought a sense of speed to the game. It never gets old hitting a running clothesline on some sucker.







Finally, we get female enemies in a Fight Fight game on the SNES! The previous two games in the series altered the female enemies to be guys. ProTip: Avoid being in the middle of an Andore sandwich.







There’s an age old debate among some folks pertaining the question, is a hot dog really a sandwich? Fear no more, Final Fight 3 puts a definitive end to that debate.







Survey says… NOT A SANDWICH! Thank you, Capcom, for putting that silly notion to bed. You have a choice to go up the stairs or through.







Careful there Mike, those tiny masked guys are fragile. Most beat ‘em ups on the SNES features three enemies on screen at the most, but Final Fight 3 has a few sections where there’s four (as seen above).







Carrying a huge anchor, Drake (nope doesn’t look like Dave whatsoever…) will swing it around and try to crush you with it. If that fails, he’ll rely on his heavy bottom to take you out.







Another cool aspect about Final Fight 3 is that the shoulder buttons allow you to lock in on a direction. Double tap back when doing this and your character will do a quick hop backward. It just adds another layer of depth and nuance to the game and is the only SNES beat ‘em up to feature this.








Bulldozer comes steaming after you, trying to knock you off the pier. Only jumping attacks work, and there’s barely any room (literally) for error.







Should you fail, one of your teammates will fly in for the assist. But if you can beat it, you’ll earn extra points.








Boarding the bus and defeating Caine takes you straight to China Town. It’s a beautiful depiction of China Town at night with all the fancy lights shining.







Detective Lucia reporting for duty!







Andore likes it rough but not THAT rough.







Haggar takes over as we enter the kitchen. Wong comes busting out!







Similar to Caine, there’s something that’s just OFF about Wong. It’s definitely his creepy looking eyes, which left me a little unsettled as a kid. Watch out for his Blanka-like rolling ball attack.







Sleeping burning on the job there, are we, Wong? The way he convulses at the end is also a little disturbing. Quit staring at me with those alien eyes!








Haggar finds himself trudging through a sewer to begin this stage. Capcom’s classic Yashichi icon can be picked up for temporary invincibility. Look between Haggar’s legs… damn that sounds like a sordid piece of fan fiction right there.













Another cool thing about Final Fight 3 is that certain weapons are better used by certain characters. For example, Haggar really knows how to swing the lead pipe whereas Guy is not nearly as competent with it. Again, this is another feature that you won’t find in any other SNES beat ‘em up.







Haggar in a shady back alley? Nope, nothing wrong with that. A new enemy called Hunter appears on this stage. Armed with a baseball bat and a mask, he’s pretty cool looking but is painfully slow. Still, a unique enemy especially in the Final Fight universe.







Hunter reminds me a lot of an enemy from Undercover Cops, who also wields a baseball bat.







Always fun to see stuff like this.







Destroy the second door to unlock a secret area.













Decimate all the computers here and you’ll be taken to the final round without having to face the boss of this stage!







However, if not, you’ll have to work your way to the boss.







Obviously, doing so is going to make your life harder but it also extends the game and lets you face arguably the toughest boss from the Skull Cross gang, Stray.














ProTip: Avoid barrels. Break computer.








Finally, we come to Skull Cross HQ. Guy takes over, tossing bad guys around like sacks of potatoes.













“HADOKEN!” Not quite, but it’s still pretty cool. As is his spinning kick.







Capcom messed up on Guy’s SUPER special move. The bad guy always falls down before Guy can hit his little fireball, making this move look a bit silly.







Uncover more bonus rooms by breaking them open.







Peculiar to see BBQ chicken hiding inside a water dispenser, but alright then!







Andore’s no match for Guy’s fireball. And here’s another section of the game where four enemies crowd the screen at once.







Special moves really add to the quality of gameplay, requiring some level of skill to execute rather than just mashing away at the buttons. Toward the end, a chopper reveals itself to set up the final battle.







Details are on point here. Shock waves can be seen on the ground complete with a perfectly matching sound effect to punctuate the arrival of Black, the big bad of Final Fight 3 and leader of the Skull Cross gang.







Bursting out of his jacket, Black uses a spinning attack even more effectively than Haggar’s. That’s because Black’s spin attack actually sees him zipping around the screen like a mad man!







Beware of all the knives he’ll throw as well. When his health is depleted to the last bar, the screen will shift to the right slightly, revealing an electric generator.



















Satisfying way to kill him! But you won’t have long to celebrate — the generator goes bonkers and the whole place is about to blow. RUN!







Haggar: “We saved Metro City! Thanks, Guy!”

Lucia: “AHEM!”

Haggar: “Er, I meant thanks, guys.”

Guy: “No problem. But look at the city — it’s nearly in ruins.”

Lucia: “Well, that’s a problem for Mayor Haggar to deal with, isn’t it now?”

Haggar: “Don’t remind me…”







Drifters, by nature, come and go. Dean’s work is done. For now at least.







Kansas’ Carry On Wayward Son can suddenly be heard playing in the background…







“Carry on my wayward son.
There’ll be peace when you are done.
Lay your weary head to rest.
Don’t you cry no mooooore.”













Haggar and friends go out in style.








Capcom always had the greatest continue screens with their Final Fight games. Final Fight 3 is no exception.








Although the production values for this game is solid enough, there are a few instances where you can see ever so briefly (less than a split second) some funky not-so-fluid glitches. It really doesn’t kill the game in any way (especially since it’s really not that bad) but it’s interesting to note regardless.

Indeed we have
Indeed we have


Lucia graces a gorgeous cover of Super Play
Lucia graces a gorgeous cover of Super Play

Final Fight 3 pretty much got brutalized by the critics when it was initially released back in January of 1996. The game was criticized for being outdated, out of touch with the times and not offering anything new. Which is crazy, considering Final Fight 3 not only added special moves but SUPER special moves (among other standout features). But I get it. It was simply a victim of its time. Back in 1996, most people were not looking to play an “archaic” 2D side scrolling beat ‘em up, and the game’s review scores reflect that sentiment. EGM gave it scores of 6.5, 5.5, 5.5 and 5. GameFan gave it ratings of 77, 67 and 55%. Super Play minced no words, slapping it with an embarrassingly low rating of 49%.



I love Super Play. That fact is well documented around these parts. But I vehemently disagree with their assessment of Final Fight 3. First of all, to me it’s just ludicrous that you can rate a game’s gameplay as 70% but rate the game an overall score of 49%. I believe the gameplay and overall score should be similar. Yes, graphics, sound and longevity all play a factor in deciding the overall score but gameplay has to be where the emphasis lies. Come on Super Play, that wasn’t cool.

Eat this, Super Play :P
Eat this, Super Play :P
And this
And this
This too
That too
And don't forget this
And don’t forget about this
Or that!
Or that!
Just kidding about this, though
Just kidding about this, though :D



Final Fight 3 is one of those games that got killed in the press when it initially came out but is now acknowledged as a (really) good game. In fact, I can’t think of an SNES game that was more criticized at the time of its release yet is now so beloved as Final Fight 3. Again, it was a matter of timing and circumstances. Back in 1996, with all eyes toward the (32-bit) future, a game like this looked like a couple years too late. Capcom was accused of once again releasing a lazy sequel. But now however, Final Fight 3 has been received with welcome arms and is often considered as a top 5 beat ‘em up on the SNES. It added some great new features to the fold, including special and SUPER special moves, running attacks, throws from behind, the ability to lock your direction and even retreat with a quick dash backwards.

Haggar AND Guy at long last!
Haggar AND Guy at long last!

Lest we forget the branching (and secret) paths which help add to the game’s longevity. Hey remember those old “CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURES!” books? Yeah, Final Fight 3 kind of has that vibe thanks to its multiple routes one can take. Of course, perhaps best of all, two players can FINALLY use Mike Haggar AND Guy simultaneously. The two new characters, Dean and Lucia, aren’t too shabby themselves and are much more interesting and fun to use than Carlos and Maki from Final Fight 2. Oh and you can’t forget the brand new Auto 2-Player mode. This option allows the computer to control the second player. It’s handy for those nights where it’s just you and your Super Nintendo [Isn’t that you every night? -Ed.] Shush! *looks into imaginary camera* This is a cry for help! :P


The graphics are pretty good. Sprites are big and beefy. There’s a good amount of color on screen, although a few areas are rather drab and lacking in intricate detail. Animation is a little on the wonky side though. Some animations could have benefited from more frames, but it’s certainly not wooden by any means. It’s just not as silky smooth as you would expect coming from Capcom. Sometimes Final Fight 3 looks great, and other times it looks only average. The same could be said for the music and sound effects. Some sound effects are a little muted while others, like the chopper landing sending out shock waves, are spot on. The music is pretty good in certain areas while forgettable in others. Thankfully, it’s the gameplay that matters most, and this is where Final Fight 3 delivers its biggest punch. It’s simply a blast to play, and thanks to all its nuances, it doesn’t grow nearly as repetitive as many other beat ‘em ups I could name.

Don't be an Andore sandwich
Don’t be an Andore sammie!

But the game’s biggest flaw is that it suffers from some slowdown in the 2-player mode. Not to the point where it’s unplayable, but enough where it’s definitely a bit annoying. Still, that doesn’t stop Final Fight 3 from being the best Final Fight game on the SNES by a comfortable margin. It’s funny how so many people came to appreciate this game more only years and years following its initial release. There are a few other SNES games I can think of that fit this bill, such as Mega Man 7 and Street Fighter Alpha 2, but none wears it finer than Final Fight 3. While it has its share of flaws, Final Fight 3 is easily one of the top 5 beat ‘em ups on the SNES and a damn fine example of a beat ‘em up done (mostly) right.

Graphics: 8
Sound: 7.5
Gameplay: 8.5
Longevity: 8

Overall: 8.5

Double Silver Award
Double Silver Award




Zoom in if mobile. Click if desktop. BTW how in the hell is 68% considered good?!
Zoom in if on mobile. Click if using desktop.
How in the HELL is 68% considered good?! :P
Long Live Super NES indeed!

Final Fight 2 (SNES)

Pub Dev: Capcom | August 1993 | 10 MEGS
Pub & Dev: Capcom | August 1993 | 10 MEGS

Final Fight, originally released in 1989 in the arcade, was a huge success for Capcom. It was ported to the Super Famicom in Japan just in time for the Christmas season of 1990, and it came out stateside for the SNES in September 1991. Although an impressive early SNES game in many ways, the port was somewhat butchered. Namely, it lacked a 2-player co-op mode, Guy was M.I.A., an entire stage was cut out and of course, censorship because Nintendo early ’90s. In the late summer of 1993, Capcom attempted to rectify matters (and cash in) when they released a sequel, Final Fight 2, exclusively for Nintendo’s 16-bit system. It might very well be the first SNES game to have an exclusive sequel with the first game being an arcade port. (I certainly can’t think of an earlier example of such off the top of my head. If you can, then comment below). Unfortunately, Guy and Cody are sadly nowhere to be found, but on the bright side there’s now a 2-player co-op mode. Was Capcom able to strike gold, or were they simply looking to make a quick buck based on the brand that was Final Fight? Let’s head over to Metro City and find out…

OK heres the real box art. The first one was a fan box
Here’s the real box art. The first one is a fan box

The North American box is a little shady. Damnd, an old boss from the first Final Fight, can be seen on the box but he never appears in Final Fight 2. Also, there’s a green mutant peeking from underneath the sewers. There was no enemy close to this in the actual game. Ah, the ’90s. Bless your heart.

"Still got my royalty checks!"
“Still got my royalty checks!”  :D



The above was originally written on RVGFanatic (the first version) on November 21, 2012. That date marked the 22 year anniversary of the Super Famicom. As I write this now, the Super Famicom is now nearly 28 years old and counting. Wow, if that doesn’t make me feel old! Well, as the picture above states, I suppose I owe you a story…

It was a trip that haunted me and has never left...
It was a trip that haunted me and has never left…

December 1991. I was 8 years old on vacation with my family and friends in Lake Tahoe. Back in the day my family formed a strong friendship with four families. Together, between 10 parents and 16 kids, we had some of the most legendary sleepovers in the history of mankind. 11 boys and 5 girls, ranging from birth dates of 1978 to 1986, staying up late doing whatever it is that boys and girls do. We rented out a HUGE cabin where all 26 of us stayed. It was INSANITY. One of the guys, Tommy, brought along his newly acquired Super Nintendo with copies of Super Mario World, F-Zero and Final Fight.

I couldn't believe it. Home alone in the cabin from hell
I couldn’t believe it. Home alone in the cabin from hell

A very bizarre and peculiar thing happened on that trip. Something so strange that it haunted me throughout my childhood. That Sunday morning, my mom decided to let me sleep in while everyone else filed out for breakfast. I woke up to an empty cabin with weird odd noises coming from every which direction. If only those cabin walls could talk, who knows what ghastly and terrible secrets might be shed? I tip-toed downstairs, calling out the names of my family and friends. All the while knowing deep down that no one would answer my cries. No one living, anyhow.

Indeed, all I heard back in response was the loud hissing and groaning of the creepy cabin. Suddenly a cold chill swept up and down my spine as I knew something wasn’t right…

After braving my way to the kitchen at long last, I found a note taped to the fridge.

  • Steve,
    Everyone woke up early except for you and we went out to get breakfast. You stayed up so late last night and you need the rest. Make yourself some Honey Nut Cheerios, and don’t watch too much TV. We’ll be back soon.Love,

I couldn’t believe it. My mom actually left me home alone in the middle of nowhere — OK not quite, but still! Did she not watch Home Alone?! I remember opening the fridge and seeing an ice cold can of 7 Up, my favorite soda back then. Oh how I wanted to grab that bad boy and chug it. But alas, I was not about to use the bathroom. There was no way in hell I would risk having to saunter down that demonic looking hallway that stood between me and the bathroom…

I felt a grim presence that dreary December morning...
I felt a grim presence that dreary December morning…

Ever feel a presence in the room with you? That someone, or something, is watching you? That’s how I felt on that cold dreary December morning of 1991. But being a resourceful kid, I believed that spirits would never mess with you if you had the TV or radio playing. Any kind of noise would ward off evil spirits. They would only attack those who were alone in silence. So I promptly turned on the TV to watch WWF Wrestling Challenge for the hour. It wasn’t long before I spotted Tommy’s Super Nintendo lying on the floor. This was my chance! The older kids hogged the system the night before, leaving me out in the cold. I fired up F-Zero first and then played Final Fight until everyone came back from breakfast. Part of me was ecstatic to see them again as I was no longer alone in this cabin from hell. But something funny happened during my first SNES experience. It made me forget about all my fears and worries. Instead it transported me to the future of video gaming, where you could snap a guy’s neck in two and soar 200 feet across a race track suspended high above a futuristic city — all in stunning graphics and sound. And ever since that fateful December morning nearly 30 years ago, I’ve been a Super Nintendo fan for life.


Family, friends and SNES made Christmas '91 special
Family, friends and SNES made Christmas 1991 rock













We wish, anyhow...
We wish, anyhow…


Sadly, Cody and Guy are nowhere to be found
Sadly, Cody and Guy are nowhere to be found
Usually billed as 6'7"... Haggar's gained 3 inches
Usually billed as 6’7″… Haggar gained 3 inches
Honestly, did anyone really like Maki? A bit forgettable
Honestly, did anyone really like Maki? Meh…
Tenant at Haggar's home? Hey, I ain't judging
Tenant at Haggar’s home? Hey, I ain’t judging


Guile also makes a background cameo later on
Guile also makes a background cameo later on


Oddly (and regrettably), weapons in Final Fight 2 are more detrimental to you than they are to the bad guys. That should never be the case. There seems to be a split second delay when trying to use weapons, and I definitely do better when fighting with just my bare hands. The sound effect for the weapons are also incredibly weak. Nowhere near Capcom’s usual quality. Shocking and disappointing, which is sort of the theme throughout this game.


Haggar’s piledriver now rotates in mid-air and looks a lot more fluid and impactful than it did in the first game. At least Capcom got something right here.

Capcom milking a franchise? Never....
Capcom milking a franchise? Never…
Try saying that five times fast
Try saying that five times fast

Censorship strikes again. Won Won looked even nastier in the Japanese version — he wields a deadly meat cleaver there.

Boo on you, Nintendo
Boo on you, Nintendo


And he looks GREAT in his second 16-bit outing
And he looks GREAT in his second 16-bit outing

Andore and Abobo were my two favorite goons to beat up as a kid. There’s just something satisfying about destroying the snot out of a towering titan with a jacked up physique.

Oh yeah, ALL DAY, son!
Oh yeah, ALL DAY, Abobo!
This technique carries over from the first Final Fight
This technique carries over from the first game

Punch, punch, press up and punch. It’s an instant 3-hit combo ending in a throw that protects you and dishes out extra damage to any surrounding bad guys. In a pinch? You can do this after one punch instead of two. A staple of the Final Fight franchise, I wish all beat ‘em ups featured this handy technique. No need for grapples, although you can still do that if you want.


You’re on a midnight stroll looking for some thugs to trash and you spot some lackeys loitering around. Sometimes you can even sneak in a hit or two before they come to their senses. Truly a beloved staple of the genre!




You have to show them that you’re really not scared
You’re playing with your life, this ain’t no truth or dare
They’ll kick you then they beat you then they’ll tell you it’s fair
So beat it, but you wanna be bad

Just beat it, beat it, beat it, BEAT IT!
No one wants to be defeated
Showing how funky and strong is your fight
It doesn’t matter who’s wrong or right



The Street Fighter games and the original Final Fight did this a thousand times better. From the weapons sounding weak and lacking impact to the way the car is animated as it’s being destroyed, this car bonus stage comes off as a very weak homage. Shame, Capcom. SHAME!

Incredible Haggar SMASH
Incredible Haggar SMASH
You got nothing on this, son
You got nothing on this, son


Carlos Miyamoto joins the fray
Carlos Miyamoto joins the fray




Shades of Ryu
Shades of Ryu


Mines are scattered throughout this stage. Holland is my favorite level in the game because of that and the boss, Bratken.

Mines have no prejudice. And no remorse
Mines have no prejudice. And no remorse
Sorry, I cant help it
Sorry, I can’t help it

They told him don’t you ever come around here
Don’t wanna see your face, you better disappear
The fire’s in their eyes and their words are really clear
So beat it, just beat it!

You better run
You better do what you can
Don’t wanna see no blood
Don’t be a macho man!


Standing 6’7″ and weighing in at 434 pounds of muscle, Bratken is a psychotic overgrown boy who loves toys. He was bribed to join the gang by being locked in a room filled with toys. But now he’s bored and wants to get out. Looks like he just spotted you, his next teddy bear victim. It’s too bad the rest of the game isn’t as interesting as this.


Love his, ahem, smashing entrance. Not the best animation though as dude is a bit stiff. But hey, that’s probably from being cooped up in his little cell there more than it is lazy programming on the part of Capcom, yeah? Right…

DarkStalkers was the shit!
Darkstalkers was so freaking badass  :)


[Gotta love women who can -Ed.]
[Gotta love a woman who can -Ed.]


No one ever accused Final Fight 2 of being original. I love how Andore looks when he’s being thrown. Seeing his big old carcass flying around the screen like that is real sweet and satisfying.

The Japanese Kamikaze would be proud
The Japanese Kamikaze would be proud
I'm a sucker for these sort of backdrops
I’m a sucker for these sort of backdrops

Most of Final Fight 2 possesses a desolated and bleak look but this stage is the lone exception.


I never liked this clown. The look, the aesthetic, even his name Philippe. It just came off as very generic and forgettable to me. Give me Clown from Fighter’s History any day!

Fighters History Dynamite
Fighter’s History Dynamite
Round and round he goes Where he stops... Nobody knows
Round and round he goes
Where he stops…
Nobody knows


This bonus round is damn hard. Props if you can complete it.



Damn straight it will
Damn straight it will (or not)
But did you ever say that to Haggar, hmm, Carlos?
But Carlos, did you ever say that to Haggar?

This is particularly hazardous as you don’t have a whole lot of wiggle room and as I stated earlier, the weapons in this game suck. A beat ‘em up where weapons are useless is a crime. That’s a plain simple fact.

Who knows why Capcom dropped the "o"
Who knows why Capcom dropped the “o”

Capcom made a few glaring omissions with the SNES port of the first Final Fight. One of which was taking out a stage that featured Rolento at the end. I guess in their quest to fix past errors, Rolent came back for Final Fight 2. Love the shadows that trail him. Still shots does this no justice. You have to see it in motion to truly appreciate it.

Can't deny this was a nice little nod to Final Fight fans
Can’t deny this is a nice little nod to Final Fight fans
Welcome back, Rolento
Welcome back to the fold fire, Rolent(o)



We come to our final stop, Japan. The Land of the Rising Sun. And, apparently, the Land of the Rising Haggar. Hmm. I’ll leave it at that.



Andore’s design was inspired by Andre the Giant. The 7’4″ 500 pound giant was a major attraction in the world of professional wrestling. Rest in Peace, big guy.

WrestleMania III (1987)
WrestleMania III (March 29, 1987)
OK not really obviously, but these guys are annoying
OK not really obviously, but these guys are annoying

He blocks a lot and is a pain to put away.


Carlos is so tough that his sword is mostly for show. He’ll whip it out though in a tight spot. The sword, of course.

Sick entrance for an otherwise forgettable final boss
Sick entrance for an otherwise forgettable final boss

But ah, if only it were that simple. With Belger rotting away in some ditch, the new head honcho is a weird looking dude that goes by the name of Retu.


As the boys are busy trash talking, Tung Fu Rue Genryusai hangs precariously in the air.

Classic bad guy from Fatal Fury
Classic bad guy from Fatal Fury
More decent fan service on Capcom's part
More decent fan service on Capcom’s part

A dramatic ending to a rather dull, pardon the pun, final fight.



The text above was inspired from the final two lines of John Carpenter’s HALLOWEEN. Speaking of which, I had a chance to see the original Halloween in theaters back in 2012 when it had a special one night only showing. I can’t wait for the definitive sequel this coming October!

Too sweet
Too sweet


Haggar was right. Belger was not
Haggar was right. Belger was not



Fear not, Belger fans. He would later return to the series as Cyborg Belger in Mighty Final Fight, and then once more in Final Fight Revenge.

Zombie Belger is best Belger
Zombie Belger is best Belger


Final Fight 3? Naaah, Capcom would NEVER milk a franchise… oh who am I kidding? Let’s face it, they’ve produced more sequels than most horror movie franchises!






And Guy did return... in Final Fight 3
And Guy did return in Final Fight 3
Good stuff here from Super Play Magazine
Good stuff here from Super Play Magazine




Obscure video game fact: Mike Haggar has a twin. The Haggar we know and love died in Final Fight 2 (as you can see here). That explains the ponytail Haggar sports in Final Fight 3

Hmm. No, of course Im just joking
Hmmm. No, of course I’m just joking :P
Dont be cruel and let them die!
Don’t be cruel and let them die!
"WHEW! I owe you one, bro..."
“WHEW!  I owe you one, bro…”



Interesting note about the 2-player mode: you can hit your buddy but the damage inflicted is minimal. A fun little trick is hitting both your partner and a boss character simultaneously. You can hit your friend repeatedly without them falling over, and bosses can get caught in this endless loop. Your friend takes very little damage per hit while the boss will take normal damage. You can easily abuse this system. There’s also a code to play as the same character. Press Down, Down, Up, Up, Right, Left, Right, Left, L, R at the title screen.


Final Fight 2 offers four difficulty levels. The easier ones are a joke but Expert is downright brutal, with enemies requiring a hundred hits before perishing. You can only unlock the full ending if you can beat it on Expert (which features a nice Guy cameo). On a final note, there is some text in-between stages but no pictures to go along with them. It reeks of lazy programming and a lack of attention to detail, something very uncharacteristic of Capcom back in the ’90s.

Cool cameo bro
Cool cameo bro



Final Fight 2 received mixed reactions. Oddly enough, despite being previewed twice by EGM, it was never reviewed. However, in EGM’s bi-monthly affiliated sister publication, Super NES Buyer’s Guide, Final Fight 2 received ratings of 85, 85 and 92%. GameFan, notorious for handing out high scores like free condiments, was split with their thoughts on this sequel. They gave it ratings of 70, 78, 84 and 93%. The 23% differential in the 70% and 93% ratings makes it one of the biggest scoring discrepancies in GameFan’s history. Super Play rated it 75%, which by their standards is a fairly respectable score especially for a beat ‘em up (a genre they often rated on the lower side). Most gamers seem to agree that Final Fight 2 is slightly above average at best, and at worse, kind of dull and not too good.

One of the largest scoring gaps in GameFan history
One of the largest scoring gaps in GameFan history
Not bad, considering its coming from Super Play
Not bad, considering it’s coming from Super Play



Final Fight 2 was one of those sequels that my brother and I highly anticipated back in 1993. We loved the first Final Fight but hated that we couldn’t play it together. Final Fight 2 promised to fix that glaring omission. While the 2-player mode is nice, there’s a bit of occasional slowdown. But that’s not the worst offender. The game, for some reason, is missing the magic of the first Final Fight. Even if you forget about comparing it to the original and judge it strictly on its own, it’s honestly kind of drab. There’s nothing particularly lousy about Final Fight 2, but it just lacks the magical ingredients that made the original so fun and endearing. Final Fight 2, in a lot of ways, really feels like a “direct-to-video” (or direct-to-SNES) sequel. And maybe that’s because it literally is. But Final Fight 3 proved you can be direct-to-video and still be good. Frankly, Capcom kind of went through the motions here and it shows.


That’s not to say Final Fight 2 is a bad game. But being decent yet disappointing sums it up best, and shows you the high benchmark standard that Capcom set with the first Final Fight. On the bright side, the visuals are pretty strong by late ’93 SNES standards, aside from some stiff animation and some backgrounds border on being a bit lifeless at times. On the down side, the music and sound effects are below Capcom par. Weapons are essentially ineffective. Carlos and Maki are generic enough to be forgettable as is the final boss. But although it lacks the polish you expect from a firm like Capcom, there’s no denying that beat ‘em up fanatics will still find some level of enjoyment; it’s not incompetent or unplayable by any means. There are just so many better choices available on the SNES, such as Return of Double Dragon and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time. I’m glad Final Fight 2 came out, but I’m disappointed with how it turned out. Oh well, at least Capcom got it right on their third try. After all, they say third time’s a charm…

Graphics: 8.5
Sound: 5.5
Gameplay: 6.5
Longevity: 5.5

Overall: 6.5



August 1993 was a big month for Capcom. They released two major sequels: Final Fight 2 (10 MEGS) and Street Fighter II Turbo (20 MEGS).


I remember thinking how cool 10 MEGS was because at the time SNES games were either 4, 8 or 16 megabits. A few were even 12. But 10? That was unheard of, and I think Final Fight 2 is the first 10 MEG game on the SNES. Games boasting 10 megabits were even harder to find than ones with 12.

It was a hot summer 25 years ago
It was a hot summer 25 years ago

In the same month Capcom blew our minds when they released the first ever 20 MEG game, Street Fighter II Turbo. What a time to be alive. Can’t believe it’s been 25 years. Happy 25th anniversary to Final Fight 2 and the SNES port of Street Fighter II Turbo!

Rocky Rodent (SNES)

Pub & Dev: Irem | September 1993 | 8 MEGS
Pub & Dev: Irem | September 1993 | 8 MEGS

The Super Nintendo is home to dozens and dozens of platformers. As with any genre, it comes with a wide range of quality. Some are well known and excellent (Donkey Kong Country, Super Mario World) while others are a bit more obscure and not too shabby in their own right (Dino City, Harley’s Humongous Adventure, Hook). Then there are downright awful ones that are better off forgotten about. It was merely a sign of the times. Speaking of which, the early-mid ’90s became the age of the me too mascot platformer. Sonic the Hedgehog created a massive stir when it became a mega smash hit for Sega in 1991 and had countless companies clamoring to throw their name in the hat with their own mascot platformer. Animals with attitude were the order of the day and Irem was no different when they released Rocky Rodent. The question is, does Rocky Rodent make the grade? Let’s find out.

Look what you did, Sonic
Look what you did, Sonic



Exactly 25 years ago today, Nitro Punks: Might Heads (what a title) hit the Japanese market. July 30, 1993-July 30, 2018. Yet another game from my youth turns 25 — gawd damn I’m getting old. Nitro Punks was renamed Rocky Rodent and was released in North America during the fall of ’93. I remember seeing Rocky Rodent in various game rental stores throughout my area in late ’93. I never got to rent it but I always wanted to. Alas, you know how older brothers often get their way, and sadly for me, Rocky Rodent never piqued my brother’s renting interest. The box of Rocky Rodent would come to haunt me as its titular rodent would seemingly sneer at me at every turn. In my own mind I envisioned Rocky Rodent being a pretty fun and competent platformer. It became one of many SNES childhood curiosities I would finally quell following my SNES resurrection in early 2006. Sometimes, your gut was right all along. Other times, not so much. Which one you gonna be, Rocky?

Spoiler: Pretty close to my gut feeling back in 93!
Spoiler: Pretty close to my gut feeling back in ’93!
Happy 25th nevertheless!
Happy 25th Rocky!



Various spray cans litter the stages waiting to be picked up. Each hairdo not only grants Rocky certain abilities but an extra life as well (Rocky dies if he’s hit when bald). It’s a pretty cool gimmick although you can still hop and bop to your heart’s content. But the zany hairdos definitely steal the show.


The Braid allows Rocky to swing as well. The Mohawk leaves Rocky vulnerable when tossed. Technically, you are bald when chucking it, so be aware of that.


Use the Spring to reach new heights. The Bird Nest Wig unleashes Picky, a bird who acts as a computer controlled helper (similar to the option helpers from Gradius III). Each hairdo has its own pros and cons. They add to the game’s quirky atmosphere.








Rocky, a dine and dash artist with an insatiable appetite, finds himself in a… ahem… hairy situation. Apparently Rocky has gone and done it again, trying to cheat yet another restaurant.







Fortunately for our anti-hero, Rocky runs into the Rose Restaurant owner whose only daughter Melody has been kidnapped by Mafia member, Don Garcia. He makes an offer Rocky can’t refuse — save Melody and it’s all you can eat on the house. It’s a very nonsensical plot but there’s sort of a cheesy charm to it all.








Remember Sparkster from Rocket Knight Adventures (and er, Sparkster)? The very first enemy you encounter in Rocky Rodent, an armored armadillo, looks awfully similar to Sparkster. Just a random coincidence though, as Rocket Knight Adventures came out on the Sega Genesis almost exactly one week later (August 5, 1993).







Spruce up your style with a brand new hairdo. Not only will you look cooler, but it’s vital to staying alive longer. Not to mention all the cool new tricks you’ll be able to do with a new ‘do.







Rocky’s cling and fling technique with this first hairdo is sure to impress the ladies.







Impale enemies with your spiky hair and toss them back to take out an entire row. Works just like the Koopa shells from the Mario games. Use the water sprout for a much needed lift.







Speaking of lifts, bounce off the café awnings to reach the rooftop where Rocky will be greeted by all his favorite yummy treats. I like how he slides on the roof. It’s the little details!







Similar to Sonic, Rocky is a fast little sucker. However, be careful about when to exercise said speed. Here, it’s required. But most elsewhere, speed kills.








Platformer rule #72: There must be some kind of auto scrolling stage. Bingo, you’re looking at it. Race down this freeway and avoid the various hazards. I like how you can see the sun gradually setting over the horizon.







Hightail it, Rocky! Chuck E. Cheese’s reject sighting!







Gorgeous… but deadly. Oh so deadly.







Bizarre doesn’t begin to describe this game. Mutant rats driving a ’70s Volkswagen while a Mob boss attempts to mow you down with a Tommy gun? Yeah…








Mohawk acts like a boomerang. Sick.







Mohawk also allows Rocky to cling and fling.







Makeshift boost as well! Nice.







Whoever owns this apartment is going to curse Rocky for all the property damage he’s causing.







Platformers sometimes need a way to impede certain routes at least for the time being. These funky door blockers earn Irem bonus points for creativity. Best of all, when you eventually do reach the other side, you can ram Rocky’s spiky hairdo up their you know what! Hey, it’s the little things. Also, hit those markers to save your spot should when you die (this game is freaking hard).







Falling chandeliers and going down random tubes are the order of the day.







Crumbling blocks lead us to… Slimer and friends?!







Apartment with a random teeter totter and anvil? Alright then. It sends Rocky sky high.







Admire and enjoy that cool night air, because it’s going to be hot once you get back in.







Poltergeist shit starts to go down. Hey, this place isn’t called Ghost Apartment for nothing.







Random furniture and crap start coming Rocky’s way fast. Be quick!







Haunting the apartment is the ghost of Mr. Potato Head. He seems tricky at first but he actually has a very easy pattern.






Man, they’re really taking this “Mascot with Attitude” thing seriously, aren’t they?

Don't accept rides from strangers, kids
Don’t accept rides from strangers, kids

Yeah, that’s not creepy at all…


Rocky Rodent has its fair share of sight gags. They don’t cause any harm to Rocky; they’re just there to make you smile.


I kinda miss the days when mascot platformers had all these wacky sight gags. It was sort of a sign of the times. It felt like everyone and their brothers were doing it. Endearing when done right!

Hello there, Slimer
Hello there, Slimer
Loved him back in the '80s!
Loved him back in the ’80s!


Here is the controversial scene Nintendo didn’t want you to see!


Just wait ’til Rocky puts the moves on her.


How Irem managed to slip this past Nintendo remains a mystery to this very day.

Speaking of IREM...
Speaking of IREM…

Rocky Rodent wasn’t their only SNES game mired in controversy.


Irem CEO: Hey! Why the dirt on our good name, sir? What wrongs have we EVER done?

[I’ll handle this… -Ed.]


Irem CEO: *sweating* … oh right, THAT. Um, look over there! Quickly Smithers, TO THE BASEMENT!

[At long last, sir! -Smithers]

See the trouble you’ve caused now?

[*snickers* -Ed.]

Back to Rocky Rodent, then…


The ad typified the times we were living in, back in good old 1993. I remember sort of drooling over the ad thinking that Rocky Rodent was a great name for a mascot platformer, Rocky was cool and that the game would probably be pretty good. It somehow reminded me of the spirit of NES games from the early ’90s, and I mean that in the best possible way. Just made me think of lesser known obscure NES platformers like Totally Rad and Werewolf for some reason…

March 1991
March 1991
November 1990
November 1990
Awesome fan art by theoriginalmistajonz!
Awesome fan art by theoriginalmistajonz!
More cool Rocky fan art, this time by elchavoman
More cool Rocky fan art, this time by elchavoman




I remember seeing this as a kid back in 1994 and thinking “Damn, Rocky Rodent must be super hard.” And it sort of is, especially once you get to the second half of the game. Starts out easy enough, but absolutely wrecks you later on. EGM wasn’t kidding!


Yeah, get ready to see plenty of that.

Better be fast...
Better be fast…

Thankfully there is a cheat code for infinite continues but EVEN THAT is hard to do! Press start at the title screen and Rocky begins his mad dash. Press Y, A, R, A, B, A before he reaches the end. I can’t consistently pull it off because that bloody Rocky is quite the runner, the bastard.


The later levels are so hard that your heart will feel like that playing it. Oh and I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Rocky Rodent has the coolest (and grossest) 1-UP icon in the business.



Rocky Rodent fared well with the critics, at least the ones here in North America anyhow. They thought that it was a very solid and even surprising semi-hit of sorts. They also voiced their desire for a 16-MEG sequel in 1994. Of course, it was never meant to be as this is Rocky’s one and only showing. EGM gave it scores of 7, 7, 8 and 8. GameFan gave it ratings of 79, 82, 85 and 86%. Super Play, on the other hand, was not impressed. No shocker there as they were notorious for being harsh on “me too” platformers and beat ‘em ups in particular. Super Play rated Rocky Rodent a paltry 50%.

Ouch. Super Play was too harsh I think...
Ouch. Super Play was too harsh I think…



Mascot platformers were a dime a dozen back in 1993. Sonic the Hedgehog more or less kickstarted that whole “me too” movement that would inevitably flood the gaming market (a much different and not so serious me too movement from the one we’ve seen in recent times). You had to be special to stand out in a crowded genre. You had to be different. Distinguished. Some, like Rocket Knight Adventures and Plok, managed to rise above the ranks and captured the hearts of many. But too many others failed to make an impression and quickly faded away into obscurity. Rocky Rodent, for me at least, lies somewhere in the middle. Though sadly, its fate is still that of one that has vanished into the ether.


Rocky Rodent got lost in a crowd of countless me too platformers that overflowed the Super Nintendo in the early-mid ’90s. It’s not a shabby platformer at all. The different hairstyles add some strategy and depth to the game. The game looks relatively good for its time and the music was actually pretty catchy and a tier or two above most games of this ilk. I found myself bobbing along with the soundtrack at points. The music in the Ghost Apartment was far creepier and more sinister sounding than I expected in a “kiddy game” such as this.


Even though Rocky Rodent is fairly paint by the numbers, the dressing is slightly different enough to make the game feel like Irem actually put in a good effort. And that effort certainly shows at times. The different hairstyles are fun to to use and the stages are designed around the abilities of said styles. Sure, Rocky Rodent might come off as a bit generic at times but I think it’s got some soul to it as well. Irem injected a good dose of humor and personality into the game. Look no further than the various sight gags or that random shower scene in the apartment. So wonderfully odd and memorable! On the downside, the control is not as crisp as I would like. The insane difficulty, combined with a lack of password system, definitely brings down the game a bit. But hey, there are far worse platformers you could play on the system. *cough* Bubsy *cough*


Interestingly enough, the game has a bit of a 1940s look to it. Just take a gander at some of those old vehicles and buildings! In addition, it admirably refrains from regurgitating the same old tired themes such as wood, fire and ice-based stages. It somehow manages to come off smelling like a slight breath of fresh air despite being standard platforming 101. It’s by no means an all time classic but if you’re in the mood for a simple yet challenging platformer, this may suffice (and in some cases, even satisfy). As such, Rocky Rodent is a worthy addition for anyone looking to expand their Super Nintendo library beyond the usual suspects.

Graphics: 7.5
Sound: 8
Gameplay: 7
Longevity: 5

Overall: 7.0

Tell em, Rocky!
Tell ‘em, Rocky!

Captain Commando (SNES)

Pub & Dev: Capcom | August 1995 | 16 MEGS
Pub & Dev: Capcom | August 1995 | 16 MEGS

Capcom ported over two of their 1991 arcade beat ‘em ups, King of Dragons and Knights of the Round, to the Super Nintendo in the spring of 1994. A three year gap was an unusually long time for an arcade game to be ported back in those days, so both conversions were a pleasant surprise. Arcade translations typically came out a year (or two) later. Well, Capcom one upped themselves when they released yet another 1991 arcade brawler, Captain Commando, to the SNES in the late summer of 1995. Coming out a whopping four years later from its original arcade release, Captain Commando was an aging relic at a time where beat ‘em ups had lost a lot of their luster. Because it came out so late in the SNES’ lifespan, it never really got the attention it surely would have gotten had it came out three years prior in 1992. A bit of an ill-timed release, Capcom nevertheless forged ahead. And quite frankly, I’m glad they did. While it is a watered down version of the arcade original (as most 16-bit ports at the time were), Captain Commando is a reminder of the early ’90s when side scrolling brawlers ruled the scene. But I’m getting ahead of myself, let’s start back at the beginning…



Captain Commando (geddit?) served as sort of a mascot for Capcom. He made his debut in 1985 in the Ghosts ‘N Goblins manual.


Then he began thanking you for buying Capcom’s games. This comes from 1987’s Mega Man instruction manual.


He showed up once again the following year in the sequel, Mega Man 2, thanking you for your purchase and support of Capcom. As you can see, he has altered his look over the years. Gotta keep up with the times, eh?


Captain Commando disappeared from making instruction booklet cameos by the time 1990’s Mega Man 3 rolled around. Then in 1991, it happened. Captain Commando received his very own game. Final Fight was a huge success in 1989 so Capcom was hoping for more of the same magic with Captain Commando. Fast forward to 1995. At last, Capcom converted Captain Commando to the SNES. Sacrifices were made but we’ll get to that later. For me, it was just good to finally see the good Captain and his unusual friends beating up hoodlums in my living room.








Taking place in the far flung future of 2026 (which is currently only 8 years away), Scumocide and his cronies are looking to rule over Metro City. Fun fact: this is the same Metro City from Capcom’s first beat ‘em up, Final Fight.








Captain Commando can electrocute bad guys and set them on fire. Yeah, he’s pretty bad ass. Ginzu the Ninja capitalizes on the obsession with ninjas back in the late ’80s and early ’90s.







Captain Commando doesn’t feature your prototypical cast. Look no further than these two. Mack is a mummy-like alien that looks more like one of the goons rather than one of our heroes. Baby Head is a a super genius baby who fights riding on an advanced mech suit that he himself built. Now that says it all, does it not?








Captain Commando features 9 stages. The first one takes place in the City. I love little details like being able to shatter the store windows.







Enemies come bounding out of the sewers similar to the Foot Soldiers from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles In Time. Too bad you can’t fling the manhole covers back at them, though. On the bright side, unlike Turtles in Time, there’s no danger of falling through the manhole and losing precious life.







Rushing attacks are nice. I like how this first stage scrolls downward a bit. It’s a small touch that I appreciate, especially seeing as how most beat ‘em ups simply go from left to right with zero variation.







Hammer time! If you zoom in or squint, you can see a statue of Haggar there. As stated earlier, this is Metro City in the year 2026. The first boss is Dolg.







Cosplaying as a lost member of the Road Warriors (AKA Legion of Doom), Dolg is more bark than bite. When in a pinch, use Mack’s special spinning attack to clear the room.








Breaking the glass isn’t necessary — it’s mandatory. You’re then dropped into the bowels of this shady museum where you’ll run into savage neanderthals with names like Samson and Organo. I’m not ashamed to admit that the creepy lifeless family that stares at you in the background slightly gives me the heebie jeebies.







Barrels can be a lifesaver. Save the meat until your health is low. The oddly named boss here, Shtrom Jr., looks like a Radiation Ranger reject from Toxic Crusaders.








Moving on to the Ninja House, you’re greeted by the heel wearing Mardia, a formidable female fighter who assuredly has never skipped leg day. Don’t forget to watch your back or else those knife throwing thugs will make you pay. A less muscular female attacks with stun rods. I like how this stage transitions from the city to a rural dojo.







Ninjas ruled the day back in the late ’80s and early ’90s. This game has them well represented. Not only can you BE a ninja but you’ll fight lots of ninjas, too. If the action gets too hot, try using the laser gun.







Musashi makes quite the entrance. Two questions: Is this Ronin 47 and where’s Keanu Reeves when you need him? Later on, more ninjas attempt to ambush you.







Crowded? Use your special move to make room. Watch out for their shurikens!







Luckily, this is just a (brilliant) fake out scene. You escape by the skin of your teeth without having to fight them.







However, going inside isn’t much better. Meet Yamato, a kabuki warrior wielding a halberd. He reminds me of Kyoshiro from Samurai Shodown fame, or should I say vice versa.








Ahhhh, the Circus. Where you can obtain fancy art and set folks on fire. Fun for the whole family!







Wookys (gotta love that name) are so fun to beat up. I’ve come to learn that any door brandishing the word DANGER on it is not playing…







Shatter the glass on your way to the boss whose name is “Monster.” Real creative there, Capcom…







Things got a little too hot for Mack so in comes the Cap! I love how he can set enemies on fire as well as electrocute them. Look at Dr. Tea Water getting all bent out of shape there.








Bailing so fast, Doc? This surfing bit adds some variety to the gameplay and helps to break up the monotony. Pick up a machine gun and let ‘er rip! Where do you think 1993’s Surf Ninjas got their inspiration from? Ah hell if I know.







Careful trying to jump kick those billboards. In this case, sometimes boards do hit back. But you know what — or who — doesn’t? Poor ol’ Dr. Tea Water that’s who!








Electrocution vs. fire… who’s going to win? Fire, I see.







Wookys come out of the woodwork. Break the blocks there to reveal a gun. Shockingly, it does little damage but what great fun you’ll have shooting it.







Mysteriously named Z, he knows how to reach out and touch somebody. Unleash the Captain Corridor when you’re surrounded. Such a basic yet cool looking move.







Temporary invincibility is granted whenever you lose a life. I love the double and triple vision that this effect produces.







Somebody’s gonna get fired for attacking the wrong side! I love when games allow enemies to hurt their own kind on accident. It somehow makes the game feel a little more realistic. But best of all, it’s simply a hoot to see!







Remember Shtrom Jr.? Now meet his dad and his dad’s right hand man. Use Baby Head’s Knee Rocket to even up the odds.








Beware of falling barrels. Give it your best Macho Man Randy Savage elbow drop impersonation. This is another level that scrolls downward. Nice.







Hitting a baby seems so wrong on every account, and that includes genius babies riding mech suits. But I suppose when a baby hits you in the face with a knee rocket, all bets are off (even though technically you should be dead).







Ginzu’s the name and slicing and dicing is his game!







Surrounded by two towering thugs? Hit them with the Smoke Bomb.







Originally named Blood, he’s been renamed Boots. Lame. Speaking of lame, the big brute blows up his desk to reveal a tunnel hatch where he attempts to escape. Fall down the rabbit hole and make him pay.







Captain Commando to the rescue!








Certainly will keep you on your toes. Hasty players may get zapped.







Assassin by day, hooker by night. They can even zap their fellow enemies!







“Thanks for the help, fat boys! Now my turn to give y’all a gift in return.”







Doppel replicates himself into all versions of the Commando team. You must beat all of them to defeat him.








Callisto, an enigmatic planet somewhere in the cosmos, is the site of the final battle. The first boss is back to exact revenge. Although it teases a possible boss rush, it thankfully isn’t. Check out the creepy (and probably wealthy) monsters in the background with babes hanging on every which side. It has a Mos Eisley Cantina vibe (from Star Wars fame). I almost expect Harrison Ford to come bounding in any second now as Han Solo!







Defeat Dolg and the hideous picture lifts, revealing Scumocide’s home base.







Heavier than a tank and taller than a mountain, Scumocide is a suitably intimidating final boss. Where’s The Hulk when you need him?







Whether he’s freezing your ass into a block of ice or incinerating your flesh, Scumocide doesn’t mess around.













Everyone has a weakness, even big badass warlords. Grab him, smash in his coconuts and finish him off with a piledriver that would make Haggar proud.








Scumocide defeated and world domination thwarted, Metro City celebrates its freedom and victory. When out of nowhere the good Cap appears on the screen to give the city a brief message. When asked who he is, he responds in dramatic fashion. It would have made Tony Stark himself blush. Hey where do you think Iron Man got its ending from? :P





As was the norm for arcade ports on the SNES, there’s an obvious drop in visual quality. But surprisingly, the sprites in the SNES port aren’t much smaller if at all. The colors aren’t as vibrant but the core basics are there. At least they are for the most part, anyhow.


One of the biggest differences is the toned down violence. Ginzu could slice enemies in half in the arcade version. Obviously, Nintendo was not going to allow that for the SNES port. It’s a bummer for sure but for me not a deal breaker.

Mack can melt bums to the bone
Mack can melt bums to the bone
Ninja on ninja violence. Say it ain't so
Ninja on ninja violence. Say it ain’t so
Musashi could cut you in half in the arcade version
That’s gonna leave a mark…
"And this one's for me..."
“And this one… THIS ONE’S FOR ME!!”
Sadly missing from the SNES version
Sadly the robot suits are missing from the SNES version

Arguably the biggest omission however is the lack of robots to ride.

A baby riding a mech suit riding a robot. DAMN
A baby riding a mech suit riding a robot! :D


The other big sacrifice of course was going from 4 players in the arcade to only 2 players in the SNES port. But seeing as how there is no beat ‘em up on the SNES featuring 3 or 4 players co-op (I don’t count Peace Keepers since that was a special mode and doesn’t involve enemies), this shouldn’t shock anyone.




Konami you sneaky bastards. Contra III: The Alien Wars (1992) is one of the best SNES action games ever made but damn if that intro doesn’t resemble Captain Commando (1991).



Shtrom Jr. and the Radiation Ranger (from Toxic Crusaders) bear more than a passing resemblance to one another.




Maybe it’s just me but the burning animation in Captain Commando reminds me of the burning scenes in Halloween II (1981). Especially the end where Michael Myers falls down on his knees before flopping face first.

I see you, Boogeyman! And I'll see you on 10.19.18!
I see you, Boogeyman…
And Ill see you again in theatres October 19!
And I’ll see you again in theaters October 19!



Fans of Captain Commando would have to wait until Marvel vs. Capcom (1998) to use the good Captain once again.

He even got his own action figure
He even got his own action figure
Can't wait for the Venom movie (October 5, 2018)
Can’t wait for the Venom movie (October 5, 2018)
Ginzu makes a cameo and gives the assist
Ginzu makes a cameo and gives the assist
Ah, the whole gang back. Just like old times
Ah, the whole gang back. Just like old times
Standing next to Spider Man and Captain America
Standing by Spider Man and Captain America
He would return in Marvel vs. Capcom 2 2000)
He would return in Marvel vs. Capcom 2 (2000)


His next appearance came in Namco x Capcom (2005). However, he did not return in Marvel vs. Capcom 3 (2011) or its follow-up, Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3. The next time we would see Captain Commando, or his costume anyhow, came in Street Fighter V as a costume unlock for Charlie Nash. The world awaits his next return. Or at least, me and four others, anyhow.


That’s not creepy and cult-like at all…
Im not sure whats happening but it cant be good
Not sure what’s happening but it can’t be good
Told cha
Told ‘cha

You wouldn’t know it if you’ve only played the censored SNES version but the universe of Captain Commando is quite barbaric. The arcade original was gruesome especially for its time and that violence is reflected in the manga series.


Watered down. Geddit? Sorry
Watered down. Geddit? Sorry

Captain Commando didn’t get much pub in the press because it came out fairly late in the Super Nintendo’s lifespan. That and I think because it was a port of an arcade game four years old, it never received the press it would have had it come out a few years prior. EGM, GameFan and Super Play didn’t review it. As for SNES players, it’s got something of a mixed reputation. Of course it’s been watered down in its arcade to home translation, but some still find it pretty fun. Others can’t overlook all the censorship. Whatever the case may be, copies of this game currently fetch triple figures online. Most SNES games now go for a pretty penny and this is certainly no exception.

If you can look past this, you might still enjoy it
If you can look past this, you might still enjoy it



People can hate on this port all they want, but I love the fact that Capcom gave it to us, period. They didn’t have to. After four long years they had every right to make other games for the SNES — a system that was inching closer and closer to the end of its glorious run. And yet Capcom didn’t. It’s far from perfect and sure, I’m as bummed out as anyone that the gore was removed and especially the robots to ride. But at the end of the day, those are only small components to the game. The question is, does the game itself still play well? And my answer is a semi-resounding YES. I love a well made beat ‘em up and while this isn’t the pinnacle, it’s still a pretty solid example of the genre.

"Spare a dollar, pal?"
“Spare a dollar, pal?”

Graphically, it’s far from Capcom’s best. The visuals even appear a bit drab in places. But I feel it fits the game; there’s sort of an appropriate bleakness to future Metro City where Scumocide and his cronies (attempt to) rule. The sound effects unfortunately are not up to par by Capcom standards. Punches and strikes don’t have that satisfying OOMPH to them. Enemies also sound weird and off when dispose of. But the most important aspect of any game is how well it plays and Capcom did a good job there. The game is easy to pick up and it’s enjoyable especially if you don’t obsess over what it’s missing from its arcade original.


You still get all four Commandos and I like this cast of misfits a lot more than I do many others. I mean, you got a mummy alien and a baby genius riding a mech suit that he himself built! It’s bonkers and I love that it doesn’t take itself too seriously. A post-apocalyptic Sci-Fi atmosphere runs rampant throughout. Sometimes the action and enemy clones in these type of games can get rather repetitive but for me that’s not the case here. The enemies are just so wonderfully bizarre, despite the obvious tropes. The stages aren’t overly long nor is the game overly hard. It doesn’t wear out its welcome and is something you can pop in for some quick mindless action. I still play it randomly once every few years and it always leaves me with a smile on my face.

Graphics: 6.5
Sound: 6
Gameplay: 7.5
Longevity: 7

AwardOverall: 7.5
Bronze Award

Gotta love any map that has a T-Rex on it
Gotta love any map that has a T-Rex on it :D

King of Dragons (SNES)

Pub: Capcom | Dev: Prism Kikaku | April 1994 | 16 MEGS
Pub: Capcom | Dev: Prism Kikaku | April 1994 | 16 MEGS

In 1991, Capcom released two medieval-related beat ‘em ups. One was called Knights of the Round and the other, King of Dragons. Interestingly enough, Capcom released both games on the SNES some three years later in 1994 and in the same month no less. It was a bit unusual to see such late conversions — usually ports were handled within two years if not one — but boy am I glad that didn’t stop Capcom. While naturally there were quite a few sacrifices made, namely going from three player co-op to two, reduced sprite size and less enemies on screen, back in the ’90s these home ports were the best we could do at the time and we always made the most out of it. Some conversions were handled better than others, and thankfully, King of Dragons can be considered as a fairly faithful translation of its 1991 original. So if you’re into fantasy beasts (such as Wyverns, Cyclops and Minotaurs) and you enjoy medieval warfare with a decidedly Dungeons & Dragons fare, then you’ll find yourself right at home.

Just a shame Capcom didn't use this box art instead...
Just a shame Capcom didn’t use this box art instead



Not exactly the most riveting or original plot, but hey, who plays beat ‘em ups for their storyline? I sure as hell don’t! Give me a big sword, some nasty bad guys to kill and watch me grin from ear to ear as I wipe the floor with the lot of them!



One of the best features about King of Dragons is the five different characters you can select from. Very few SNES beat ‘em ups gave you five choices. Most offer the standard three and four was considered to be great. But you get five here. Best of all, they all play differently and not just in a few categories. They all have their pros and cons in terms of attack range, magic power, defense, speed and so on. Three of them can even block enemy attacks. There’s a lot more strategy found here than in most other beat ‘em ups. It also makes the 2 player mode all that more interesting because you can strategically pair up an Elf with a Fighter for instance. The Elf attacks from long range while the Fighter handles the up close encounters.


The cast of five makes for a diverse 2 player experience
The cast of five makes for a diverse 2 player experience

It truly does as you and a friend can mix and match. I recently played this with my girlfriend and she likes being the Elf. Unfortunately, continues are shared in the 2 player mode. Bummer. (But there is a 99 continue code floating out there…)





Credit Nintendo Power Magazine (issue #60, May 1994) for their excellent coverage above. I miss when gaming magazines were so lovingly crafted and fun to read.




Credit Super Play Magazine (issue #20, June 1994) for their more humorous coverage above. They always had that cheeky sense of humor, them silly Super Play lads.


Level up just like in Knights of the Round
Level up just like in Knights of the Round

This increases your strength and defense. Most beat ‘em ups don’t allow for your character to level up, so this is a welcomed change to the norm.

Not all treasure chests are good for you
Not all treasure chests are good for you

Some spit out harmful blobs of goo but the worst is a magical spray that will freeze and quickly sap your health if touched. Stay on your toes!

Assign a button to blocking to make your life easier
Blocking can be a lifesaver

The arcade version didn’t have a button for blocking, but the SNES version allows you to designate a button for blocking. Nice! Remember that only the Fighter, Cleric and Dwarf can block.

The ability to push orbs forward is absolutely genius
The ability to push orbs forward is absolutely genius

I love that you can strategically preserve magic orbs. Sometimes instead of striking an orb right away, it’s prudent to kill the weaker enemies currently on screen and then bounce the orb to the next section, saving it for tougher enemies. Sweet.

A diverse array of orbs adds to the fun
A diverse array of orbs adds to the fun

You can bounce orbs along for a good while before they start to flash. Once flashing, better strike the orb to activate it or you’ll risk losing out.

Where's Brendan Fraser when you need him?!
Where’s Brendan Fraser when you need him?!

Mummies are slow and lumbering but they inflict tons of pain if they catch you. This is where the Wizard or Elf comes in real handy with their long distance strikes.

Ray Harryhausen would be proud
Ray Harryhausen would be proud

Skeletons are a real pain in the ass. Not only are they tough, but they’re nimble enough to cause a headache as they prance about the screen in a creepy reanimated sort of way.

Capcom busts out their classic Yashichi once more
Capcom busts out their classic Yashichi once more

King of Dragons is not too hard once you get the hang of the characters’ strengths and weaknesses. It’s certainly beatable but you’ll definitely want to seek out these precious extra continues hidden throughout the game.



There are 16 levels in all, but some are insanely short. One stage doesn’t even have a boss. The stages are named which I found to be a nice touch. I’m a sucker for that sort of stuff even though some are incredibly simple. “To The Castle” followed by “In The Castle” — I wonder how long it took Capcom to think of that? But a few are pretty cool such as “A Giant In The Shrine.” The game takes you on quite the journey, ranging from a spider-infested forest to boarding a Norse ship.


The Orc King attacks with two morning stars. Watch his shadow and stay in the middle. Halfway through the Minotaur fight the ground breaks, sending the two of you descending to the floor below. Nice.


Another nice thing about this game is the diversity of the bosses. Sometimes you fight giant bipedal monsters. Other times you find yourself battling winged behemoths and three headed dragons. The strong fantasy setting takes you to a completely different realm from most other beat ‘em ups. Forget ye standard thugs and goons — it’s all about mythical beasts!


Stage 5 actually has no boss. I love the Cyclops in stage 6. It’s got such a simple great look and is the first thing I think of when I think King of Dragons.

The Great D, eh? No comment...
The Great D, eh? No comment…

If you hate spiders like I do, then you’ll LOVE the giant spiders in stage 7. The creepy bastards make my skin crawl. Watch out for the Great D’s big stick…


The diversity of the boss fights continue to shine. Battle a nimble Black Knight in stage 9. Take on a circling crew of phantoms at the end of stage 10. And while the graphics aren’t great per se, you can see the diversity there as well.

Meet the REAL Great D
Meet the REAL Great D

Indeed. And now you know where Goldar came from. The Royal Knights are reminiscent of the Black Knight, except now there’s two of them. Lucky you.


“We must do with the time that is given to us.” Once eloquently stated by the Dark Wizard. Or Gandalf, rather. He’s a fun boss fight. Unfortunately the same cannot be said for stage 14 which sees a lazy repeat of the boss from stage 3. Sure, one is fiery while the other is ice. Still, come on now, Capcom. Then again, coming from them (the masters of milking), are you surprised?


Capcom heard our cries loud and clear. So what do we get for it? TWO Cyclops at the end of stage 15! The last boss, Gildiss, is not only the hardest boss of the game but really the one boss that will give you any trouble.


Boss of stage 3
Boss of stage 3
Boss of stage 14
Boss of stage 14

As you can see, some bosses more or less repeat. Take these two dragons for instance. Fire and ice. Not so nice. But the occasional “lazy” boss is forgivable considering the overall number of levels which far exceeds that of most other beat ‘em ups from the ’90s. So I can give Capcom a pass here.


The Dragon Rider boss from stage 8 becomes a recurring regular enemy later on. He’s thankfully not as strong as his boss form, though. It’s a shame you can’t knock the rider off and ride the dragon yourself. A wasted opportunity for sure.



For the most part, King of Dragons fared reasonably well with the critics. EGM gave it scores of 8, 8, 7 and 7. GameFan gave it ratings of 78, 74 and 70%. Super Play was (once again) the harshest critic, rating it a paltry 53%. Super Play was notoriously stringent on beat ‘em ups, so I don’t take their scores for such games too seriously. Most people who have played the SNES port has raved about it.




Prior to playing King of Dragons, I had heard lots of great things about it. It looked similar to Knights of the Round and coming from Capcom, I was sure to have a good time. Admittedly, I was a bit disappointed the first time I played it. I guess I had overhyped it too much based on everything I heard and read over the years. However, with repeated play I was able to then familiarize myself with the various characters and game mechanics. That’s when the light bulb came on and I began to appreciate all the subtle nuances. It impressed me with how varied it is for a beat ‘em up. Typically, these sort of games tend to grow repetitive pretty fast, but I find King of Dragons does a really good job of keeping repetition at bay. The five characters have different pros and cons across the board, making it fun to experiment with and forces you to employ different strategies. The bosses also have vastly different tactics and you must adjust for each one accordingly. The game doesn’t just throw you meathead after meathead where all you do is mash the attack button. And one of the best things about this game is the fact that sometimes there can be as many as five enemies on screen. The usual SNES count for these games is three, but King of Dragons will occasionally throw five at you. It’s impressive and makes you feel like other SNES beat ‘em ups are a bit lacking in the action department by comparison.


The visuals are pretty good although animation can be a bit stiff at times. Bosses look great — they’re often huge and menacing. Sound effects are pretty bad though, and the music isn’t anything to write home about. The gameplay (and atmosphere) is where King of Dragons excels. From the ability to block (for some of our heroes anyhow) to being able to level up, this has more variety and depth than most other beat ‘em ups. One thing that I had to get over early on was I thought this would be more of a beat ‘em up. By that I mean pounding bad guys in the face consecutively and then even throwing their carcasses around. It’s not like that so if you’re expecting that, you may be a bit disappointed (at least initially, like I was). You hack them once, then you move out of the way. Then you hack them again until they’re dead. There are no combos. No throws. No weapons to pick up (not necessary since they all already have weapons). It’s more of a hit and run affair, if that makes sense.


It’s a bit hard to describe but if you’ve played this game then you know what I mean. For example, some enemies die after one slash. Some die after two. And so forth. Whoever heard of one punch killing a bad guy? So the action is more measured and calculated than in most other beat ‘em ups, but I think in this case it works really well. There is some slowdown in the 2 player mode so it’s far from perfect. But overall, as far as the genre goes, this is easily one of the better beat ‘em ups on the Super Nintendo. It’s like a mix of Golden Axe and Knights of the Round. So if the idea of killing some Orcs, Minotaurs and Cyclops puts a big smile on your face, be sure to check out King of Dragons. And if you don’t quite “get it” on your very first try, I encourage you to stick with it and sample the different characters. Chances are you’ll hit your stride at some point and come to see why this is one of the best SNES beat ‘em ups ever made.

Graphics: 7
Sound: 6
Gameplay: 8
Longevity: 7

AwardsOverall: 8.0
Silver Award

Ninja Gaiden Trilogy (SNES)

Pub: Tecmo | Dev: Team Ninja | August 1995 | 12 MEGS
Pub: Tecmo | Dev: Team Ninja | August 1995 | 12 MEGS

Ninja Gaiden originated in the arcades in 1988. It was a beat ‘em up akin to Double Dragon and it wasn’t too well received. The NES version came out later that same year and did a complete 180. Not only was it now a side-scrolling action platformer, but it was heralded at the time for being one of the best games in the entire 8-bit NES catalog. Two sequels were released on the NES in 1990 and 1991. When word of a Super Nintendo system surfaced in the early ’90s, NES fans worldwide began dreaming of their favorite 8-bit titles receiving a glorious 16-bit makeover. Castlevania, Contra, Mega Man, Metroid and so forth. Those games all received the SNES treatment while others were sadly left in the dust. The list of illustrious games snubbed includes Bionic Commando, Metal Gear, Rygar, and of course, Ninja Gaiden. But never fear, not all hope was lost. In the late summer of 1995, Tecmo gave SNES fans Ninja Gaiden Trilogy. Although not a proper 16-bit sequel, it gave us the three classic Ninja Gaiden NES hits on one cartridge, along with a brand new password feature. What could go wrong, right?



The 1980s was the decade of excess. Ronald Reagan, Boy George, Milli Vanilli, and oh yeah, Ninjas R Us. Be it Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or Shinobi, ninjas dominated the scene. Cartoons, movies, toys and video games were inundated with ninjas galore. I remember my gaming group raving about Ninja Gaiden in the late ’80s. It was definitely a cut above your average NES game. We rented it a handful of times and could never beat it. The Ninja Gaiden games are notorious for their insane difficulty. While Ninja Gaiden wasn’t my absolute favorite, I always wanted to see a souped up 16-bit sequel — a Super Ninja Gaiden, if you will. Sadly, it wasn’t meant to be. But hey, at least Tecmo gave us Ninja Gaiden Trilogy. But it wasn’t without some controversy…


Diehard fans of the NES trilogy have picked apart Ninja Gaiden Trilogy over the years, claiming that the NES originals are superior. But for me, the greatest tragedy is that by the time Tecmo released this game, I was starting to lose interest in SNES and gaming itself. Back in August of 1995, I was worried as hell about the first day of junior high, and it became harder and harder to enjoy video games with the same kind of zest as when you were a little kid. It was a time of change in my life, and the SNES and gaming in general began taking more of a backseat. If only Ninja Gaiden Trilogy came out in 1992 or 1993, and then we got Super Ninja Gaiden in 1994. Alas, it wasn’t meant to be.


Fast forward to early 2006. I experienced an epic SNES renaissance. It was a golden time as most people had yet to hop on the SNES bandwagon of nostalgia. I beat the crowd by a good couple years. Life is all about timing, right? It wasn’t long before I snatched up Ninja Gaiden Trilogy. More than a decade later, I was finally going to play it. Speaking of decade, fun fact: these screenshots you see in this review were taken just over 10 years ago in May of 2008. I’ve been meaning to write a review of this game for ages…


Ninja Gaiden opens with this stellar cinematic intro
Ninja Gaiden opens with this stellar cinematic intro










There’s something special about the first level in great games. Who could forget this classic first stage from Ninja Gaiden? Strike down bat wielding goons and use your deft ninja abilities to navigate your way through.







Graphics were advertised as being improved to the NES versions. While this may be true technically, the difference is disappointingly minimal. Don’t expect the kind of visual improvement as seen in Super Mario All-Stars. Tecmo could have beefed up the visuals but sadly they took the bare minimum route.













Remember hopping back and forth here in order to clear the top wall? Ah, that brings back the nostalgia…







Beware of those pesky boxers. Ah, who could forget the classic first boss fight in the bar? Good stuff.













Revered (in part) for its revolutionary cutscenes, Ninja Gaiden advanced its plot in a dramatic and memorable fashion.













Shooting someone (even if it’s an anesthetic) and then asking said victim to do you a favor? Whoever this lady is, she’s got BALLS. And a strange creepy looking statue that she wants you to have for whatever reason… that I’m sure is completely wholesome…







Similar to Castlevania, you can use various secondary attacks as long as you’ve collected enough ammunition. Long ranged attacks, such as the Shuriken, is a Godsend in such hairy situations.







Relaxing retreat on a timeshare this ain’t!







Secondary attacks range in effectiveness. It’s too bad you can’t collect them, switching off to the one you want as necessary. One of my favorites is the attack that allows you to jump and slash simultaneously, providing a sphere of precious protection around Ryu. It makes those unsettling platform jumps (i.e. the ones with a bad guy loitering at the edge) much more manageable.







Pumpkinhead rejects and various fiends greet you with foul intent.







Flying enemies — they’re the bane of many. Especially when your hero jumps back whenever hit. Machine gun toting mad men make your life a living hell. I hope you have an appropriate sub weapon!







Nintendo players back in the day were legit if they could beat Ninja Gaiden fair and square. It left its mark on many, and has certainly terrorized many a childhood in the best of ways.








Thunder and lightning erupts over the land. Who’s the creepy guy in red?







Ashtar’s his name, and he’s looking to finish the job Jaquio could not from the first game.







Episode II: The Dark Sword of Chaos. Makes it feel epic like it’s from the Star Wars universe. One major improvement right off the bat is the ability to now climb walls. You had to hop back and forth in the first game but now you can scale various structures like a true ninja badass.







Visually, the game looks a lot better than its predecessor. Although I’m not a fan of the red button eyesores that serve as your sub weapon containers. The first game was a lot more creative, housing them in everything from flickering lights to even hummingbirds. But that’s just a minor gripe. The first boss is a generic mutant that loves to deliver shoulder tackles.













Innovative cutscenes helped made the original game so memorable, and Ninja Gaiden II kicks that up a notch.













Swerve City, USA! I had deja vu for a second there. Looked like poor ol’ Ryu Hayabusa was once again going to be subdued by some anesthetic but instead he’s saved by the bell bullet. I guess you owe Robert TS the favor after all.







Battling atop a boxcar train, you’ll have to fend off Jason Voorhees and friends. Watch the snow — the wind changes direction in three different ways. Jumping against the wind is a surefire ticket to an early demise.







Duplicate yourself and even up the odds a bit with your clone helper. Up to two clones can be used. Nice!







Arachnophobia? You won’t like this boss.













Another cool cutscene advances the plot and builds up the anticipation for the next level.







Disappointment (or relief, depending on one’s perspective) strikes in Stage 3-1. The original NES version had lightning flashes that made it more difficult and atmospheric, but for some strange reason, it was not duplicated in the SNES port. Many diehard fans have pointed out this omission over the years, citing it as the telltale sign of a lazy port job. Hey, at least we still get the ninja clones.







Hayabusa continues his quest, this time in some rather murky waters.







Things get a bit slippery here.







Hayabusa or Ashtar — who will prevail? Only you can decide that!














Things open up blazing hot as Irene is seen being chased by… Ryu Hayabusa?! Wait, whaaaat?













Falling to her demise, can it truly be the same Ryu we all know and love? Surely not…













Framed — I knew it! [Sure ya did -Ed.].







Players have complained that the jumps in the third game are too floaty. It does take a while to get used to, especially if you’re hot off the heels of playing the first two games. Generally speaking, Ninja Gaiden III is considered to be the weakest entry in the trilogy. Not that it’s a bad game; it’s just the first two were so damn good.







There’s something about Ninja Gaiden III that I really like, though. The weird cybernetic atmosphere, for one. That and Ryu is a better climber here than he was in previous outings. I also like the extra long slash power up you can get. Able to hit enemies both high and low, it gives you excellent coverage for a short ranged attack.













Clancy tells you to head over to Castle Rock. You’re a little skeptical but you press on in the name of avenging Irene…







Quicksand has claimed many lives — move fast or you could be next! Better move fast too during the auto scrolling section. Death waits for no one!







Destroy enemy bullets with a well-timed strike. I love when games let you do that. The boss fits in perfectly with the game’s cybernetic theme.













Condescending? Check. Smug? Check. Good to see you again, Foster.







Acquiring the right power up at the right time is key. One of my favorites is the energy blast that goes up and down. It can prove to be quite useful.







Thankfully, the “jump back” when hit isn’t too bad in this game. Another reason why I like Ninja Gaiden III so much and don’t see it as the “black sheep” of the trilogy as some others do. The previous two games had some serious recoil action.













Hayabusa be like, “So… you’re Great Value Ryu, eh?”







Perhaps it’s just me but doesn’t Ninja Gaiden III have a slight Mega Man-esque look to it? Part of me almost expects to see some Mets flying in and out!







Nothing’s better than beating a boss with one measly life bar remaining. What a rush!



















Overlooking Castle Rock, Ryu runs into Clancy once again. He tells you about a terrible monster named BIO-NOID. Coincidentally, the Biohazard plan Clancy has been working on is the same name as the Resident Evil franchise over in Japan. Clancy goes on to explain that there was an open seam between dimensions when the Demon died. Foster had rebuilt the fortress and was using it to conduct all sorts of transformation experiments with life energy. Bio-noids are super humans that have been transformed with life energy. He tells you that it was a Bio-noid that killed Irene and that you’re the only one strong enough to stop it.







Infuriatingly difficult platforming abounds. Thank God for the password feature.













Hayabusa confronts Foster but wait a minute — IRENE?!













Somehow, Irene survived after all. Screw you, Foster!













Remember the guy who framed Ryu? He turns into a super mutant only to be blasted by Irene. Show ‘im who’s boss!







Eventually you step in and tell Irene you got this. Now it’s you vs. the Creeper from Jeepers Creepers.













Spoiler… Clancy was the mastermind behind it all.







Explore more strange locales as you seek out to hunt down Clancy.







Hayabusa’s clone isn’t quite dead yet…







Shame this port wasn’t enhanced more visually. The SNES could do so much more with this background.













Unfortunately, you’re a bit too late. Clancy has already made the life energy his and rambles on about the dimensional warship’s power.







Thought the previous levels were hard enough? You ain’t seen nothing yet.







Precise and skilled platforming is the order of the day.



















Genocide? Ryu ain’t down with that, Clancy. The time for talk is over.







Defending the fate of the universe, it’s up to you to put an end to this monster’s wicked plans.







Clancy’s true form is soon revealed…







Konami would be proud. Slash that sucker!













BLOODY HELL. You knew it couldn’t be that easy. Get ready for the final ultimate battle.













There’s screen-filling bosses and then there’s this guy. Holy shit. It doesn’t get any crazier than both life bars going down to the wire… with you barely winning out. On the final boss no less. Best feeling in a video game!







Sayonara, bitch!



















Hayabusa dropping some knowledge there!



















Regardless of how bad things may seem, never forget the darkest hour is just before the dawn.



I certainly was not alone. Many kids can fondly recall seeing Ninja Gaiden at Toys R Us back in 1989. We loved it even if it kicked our asses. Then when the SNES came out in 1991, we just assumed the inevitability of a souped up 16-bit version. Alas, it wasn’t meant to be.

Good-bye, dear old friend
Good-bye, dear old friend

Yes, I remember the days of scrolling down the game aisles at Toys R Us once upon a moon. The iconic toy store is currently closing for good in 2018. Kind of sad to think my future kids will never know what it’s like to walk up and down those magical aisles. Rest In Peace, TRU.



Ninja Gaiden Trilogy was met with mixed reviews. Some liked it for having all three classic NES platformers on one cartridge and the brand new password feature, but others did not like the cuts or mostly lazy effort. Even to this day, it remains quite the polarizing SNES title. EGM gave it scores of 8.5, 6.5, 6.5 and 6.0. Nowadays it fetches for a fair penny, so it’s hard to recommend it at the going rate unless you absolutely have to play a Ninja Gaiden game on your SNES.




I liked Ninja Gaiden Trilogy when I first played it back in 2006. I still like it even though the project could have been handled better. Whereas Super Mario All-Stars knocked it out of the park, Ninja Gaiden Trilogy is not the poster boy for how to properly present a compilation. But the three NES games included in this package are still playable and at their core, they’re still quality games. I love the password feature as it allows me to beat the game at my pace, and also encourages random revisiting throughout the years. The critics can hate on this game all they like — I still enjoy it very much and come back to it every so often.


Although sadly not the Ninja Gaiden sequel we wanted or even the A+++ port we deserved, the games are still good enough to make this a redeeming package. Should it have been more? For sure. A Ninja Gaiden game on the SNES should be in the pantheon of Super Nintendo greats. This is far from that but in the end, I’m grateful to have it in my collection. And I’m not talking from a monetary stance. I still like playing these three games and always will. Sometimes we can get hung up on what isn’t rather than simply enjoying what is. In the case of Ninja Gaiden Trilogy — despite being slightly butchered — better to have it on the SNES than not at all.

Graphics: 5.5
Sound: 7.5
Gameplay: 7.5
Longevity: 6.5

AwardOverall: 7.5
Bronze Award



Marvel Super Heroes: War of the Gems (SNES)

Pub & Dev: Capcom | October 1996 | 24 MEGS
Pub & Dev: Capcom | November 1996 | 16 MEGS

Avengers: Infinity War opened this past weekend (April 27, 2018) and grossed a whopping 640.9 million over its first weekend. Infinity War now holds claim to the biggest opening weekend in cinematic history, toppling The Fate of the Furious’ 541.9 million opening weekend by nearly 100 million. It also scored the biggest opening weekend in North America with 258.2 million, beating out the 248 million grossed by Star Wars: The Force Awakens. It’s crazy to think it was 10 years ago that the Marvel cinematic universe began with the epochal Iron Man (May 2, 2008). 10 years later, MCU kills it yet again with Avengers: Infinity War. Some people are sick of Marvel movies but as long as they’re this good, keep ‘em coming I say! The latest film centers around Thanos’ quest to acquire the six Infinity Gems. What a perfect time, then, to review Marvel Super Heroes: War of the Gems. Capcom’s second to last North American SNES release (Street Fighter Alpha 2 being their last), Marvel Super Heroes: War of the Gems is a curious and worthy follow-up to X-Men: Mutant Apocalypse.


A staple of many childhoods back in 1991
A staple of many childhoods back in 1991

If you were a child of the early ’90s, chances were you somehow got mixed up in the superhero subculture. It was simply a sign of the times. From trading cards to cartoons to toys to video games, superheroes and super villains dominated the scene. My brother, our friends and I used to hang out at this card shop, Triple Play. It was right next to the local library and a mom and pop rental shop. What a great time to be a kid! We spent much of our childhood down at the card shop buying the latest in the Marvel ’91 series and trading them. When we weren’t busy trading or buying Marvel ’91, we played the Street Fighter II arcade cab right in the store. It was a splendid time to be growing up in suburban America.

Who could ever forget the bar stats on the back?
Who could ever forget the bar stats on the back?

My favorite thing about the Marvel ’91 cards? Hands down the enticing stats on the back of the cards. This is where my obsession with numbers and ratings probably first developed, and a large reason (EGM is another factor) as to why I personally like to rate video games. To me numbers have always been a fun snapshot at things. I remember Fin Fang Foom’s stats were off the charts. He had something nuts like three 7’s.


Scanned Document

Back in the ’90s, superhero games were hit or miss. They were more of a miss on home consoles. It wasn’t until X-Men: Mutant Apocalypse that I felt things were starting to head in the right direction. I remember there was quite a bit of hype behind it. Seeing it grace the cover of the biggest EGM issue of all time definitely got our hopes up. Maybe we’ll finally get the X-Men game we always wanted…

Wolverine with a Dragon Punch? Take my money!
Wolverine with a Dragon Punch? Take my money!

And although it has its shortcomings, X-Men: Mutant Apocalypse was a solid action game that was pretty fun to play. It wasn’t quite the epic superhero game we were all hoping for, but it was an admirable effort.



Exactly two years later, EGM issue #89 arrived in my mailbox. This was a bittersweet issue for me. It highlighted 16-Bit’s “last hurrah” so to speak.


I can’t tell you how many times I read that article. Flashback to December of 1996. Although my brother and I still had our SNES, we were almost exclusively playing our PlayStation and N64. However, I never forgot all the great memories my dear old friend, the SNES, gave me over the years. So EGM’s article hit way too close to home. 1996 was indeed going to be 16-Bit’s last gasp and last “big” Christmas season.



I loved the whole presentation of it. The yellow background, the nice big title dramatically declaring 16-BIT’S LAST STAND… but the best part was the last batch of 16-bit titles EGM featured. In particular, one title really stood out and caught my eye…


My eyes popped when I saw Marvel Super Heroes: War of the Gems. It looked absolutely badass. The fact that Capcom was behind it was all I needed to know!

The previews had me drooling
The previews had me drooling
Gotta love those classic captions from the '90s
Gotta love those classic EGM captions from the ’90s
It looked so damn good
Not your crappy SNES Captain America and the Avengers!
Never ever EVER mention that abomination again
Never ever EVER mention that abomination again
Arcade version was GREAT
Arcade version was GREAT
SNES port, not so much...
SNES port, not so much…
The ad got me even more hyped
The ad got me even more hyped

Yet despite all my interest and curiosity, I actually never got to play this game back in the ’90s. High school soon came calling in the late ’90s and I sort of fell out of gaming for a while there. Fast forward to January 2006, I experienced one crazy SNES comeback for the ages. It was a chance at gaming redemption. Marvel Super Heroes: War of the Gems was high on my list of SNES games I always wanted to play but never did.


I bought a mint copy at a local flea market on Saturday, February 25, 2006. I’ll never forget firing up War of the Gems later that same night. It was like finally meeting up with that ship that sailed by so many moons ago…


I chose the Incredible Hulk first and had one hell of a Saturday night smashing bad guys left and right. It’s not the greatest game but I thoroughly enjoyed it nonetheless.








Whoever collects all six Infinity Gems will become omnipotent and virtually unstoppable. Adam Warlock has enlisted the services of the Marvel Super Heroes to bring them back home safely.







Falling from the heavens above, the six Infinity Gems have been scattered throughout the world. Procuring them before they fall into the wrong hands is of the utmost importance. You’ll traverse many different places, from the Amazon River in South America to the frozen tundra in Alaska to the Boston Aquarium.







Capcom’s intros from that era always stood out, and this is yet another solid example. The world’s mightiest superheroes have assembled on your SNES — it’s time to wreck some shit up!







Wolverine gets intense like only he can. I’m hyped!








Standing 6’2″ and weighing 220 pounds, Captain America is the symbol of patriotism personified. Balanced in speed and power, Cap attacks with his trusty shield and charging shoulder tackles.







Standing 6’1″ and weighing 225 pounds, Iron Man is a bit on the slow side due to the nature of his suit (which puts him at 6’6″ and 425 pounds). However, he compensates for his lack of speed with the power and flight game. Able to double jump and briefly fly, Iron Man is the most versatile superhero in the game.







Standing 5’10” and weighing 167 pounds, Spider-Man is the fastest of the lot. But he’s also the weakest. Use his web slinging prowess to take out the trash. He can also cling to walls and climb to new areas that some of the others are unable to reach.







Standing 5’3″ and weighing 195 pounds (300 with Adamantium skeleton), Wolverine is a vicious and balanced fighter. He’s not as fast as Spider-Man or as strong as Captain America, but he’s stronger than Spider-Man and faster than Captain America. He plays exactly like how he did in X-Men: Mutant Apocalypse, and that’s fine by me!







Standing 7’6″ and weighing over half a ton, the Incredible Hulk is the bruiser of the group. He’s also the slowest. But when you just want to smash the crap out of everything, it’s hard to go wrong with Hulk.







Select your superhero and pick any of the four initial stages. Unlike X-Men: Mutant Apocalypse, any hero can be used on any level. It gives the game a little more replay value when the levels don’t force you to use a certain character. But some characters are more suited to certain levels than others. For example, Iron Man does really well at the Boston Aquarium. Sorry Cap — take a backseat!

Best sit this one out. Lemme show ya how it's done
Best sit this one out. Lemme show ya how it’s done







Always one to make, pardon the pun, a splashy entrance, Iron Man flies in on his jet boosters. It isn’t long before the glass shatters and the whole place becomes Waterworld.







Repulsor Beam does well to break down barriers. Even better, use his flying headbutt attack for multiple hits.













Deliver a sweet three hit combo in mid-air. Then battle the evil version of Vision.







Remember to keep an eye on your air gauge. Turn Tony Stark into Ryu with a nice Rising Uppercut.







Hawkeye you traitor you! Not really, that’s just his evil clone.







GODDAMN that was close…







Question: what’s worse than fighting one evil version of Iron Man? Fighting two of course. Scale the platforms for some fun cat and mouse play. Iron Man’s double jump works really well here.







Infinity Gem #1 secured! It’s on to the next…

Damn right, Collector (hello Benicio Del Toro)
Damn right, Collector (hello Benicio Del Toro)







Spider-Man swings into the Amazon like only he can.







Spider-Man’s ability to cling to walls and scale them makes him quite versatile. The boss of this stage is an evil version of Wolverine.







Beware the spikes. Landing on them will cause extra damage. Sadly, falling into the spikes doesn’t hurt the boss. Use Spidey’s swinging attacks to keep Wolvie on his toes.

Cap finds his shield buried in the ice...
Cap finds his shield buried in the ice…







Captain America slings his shield to perfection. Shoulder tackle Hawkeye before he even gets off a shot.







Versatile is Cap’s shield. Send it downward or upward to knock off unsuspecting fools. Some of the levels have barriers as seen here. Wolverine and Spider-Man are too weak to break them so they must scale up. Captain America and Hulk can’t jump high enough to access the upper area so they must smash through. Iron Man has the strength to bust through or double jump up. No wonder I like Iron Man the best.







Halfway through this stage, a group of evil Pucks serve as sort of a mid-boss. They can be very tough as they flank you like ants on sugar.







Where’s the Incredible Hulk when you need him?! Evil Sasquatch comes bursting out of the frozen wall like he was shot out of a cannon. Don’t get too close unless you like being dinner.







Nobody slashes up the competition quite like ol’ Wolvie. Unfortunately, he’s too weak (what?!) to bust through that thick wall there, or scale your way up.







Reminiscent, much? All his greatest hits from X-Men: Mutant Apocalypse is back.







Scaling Dr. Doom’s castle can be hazardous to your health. Speaking of the good doctor, watch out for his deadly energy beams. Thankfully, Wolverine is so short that they fly right over his head!







Unsurprisingly, Dr. Doom declares this isn’t the last you will see of him (and he’s right). After beating the first four stages, we learn Magus is holding one of the Infinity Gems on a giant orbiting battleship. Time to send the Hulk!







Shanghaied in Space?! “HULK SMASH!!!”







Godzilla vs. MechaGodzilla? Forget that, it’s Hulk vs. Evil Hulk! Hulk smashes walls like no one else.








Another mid-boss battle ensues. Hulk doing what he does best!







Position yourself on the edge so that the lasers just barely miss hitting you. Bash and repeat. Your reward is a classic SNES style explosion.













Nothing’s better than grabbing a goon and chucking him across the screen, taking out the entire crowd. As strong as Hulk is though, he’s not invincible. Don’t just stand there taking energy beams… even if it looks super cool.







Standing between you and the next Infinity Gem is the double tough Magus. He moves so fast (guess which Gem he has) that you can actually see his shadow trail. What a lovely visual touch!







Scoundrel! That Magus is a sneaky little bitch. Hulk be like “DAFUQ.”













Uppercut him into the air and follow up with a pulverizing double axe handle. So damn satisfying.







Defeating Magus opens up the next set of stages to conquer. You’ll face off with the likes of Black Heart and even the evil version of Thing.







Special cameos abound, as seen here with Doctor Strange. And as he promised earlier, Dr. Doom returns for a final battle.







Nebula! Nice to see her in the game, especially considering how popular she has become since Guardians of the Galaxy. Thanos is the final big bad.







Thanos vs. Hulk is a WrestleMania worthy main event. But the Hulk is the better man mutant on this night, and the Infinity Gems are now in safe hands.







Congratulations to our mighty superheroes! Nice shot there of the crew.







Somebody say WORLD HEROES?!








Helpful items can be acquired during your quest. For example, if you die on a stage then that character you were using is no longer available. However, you’re able to revive him and regain his services with the usage of the revival power-up.



In addition, you can incorporate the various Infinity Gems to increase your powers. The Time Gem doubles your speed (give it to Hulk). The Power Gem increases your power (Spider-Man, who can strike up to six times, becomes quite the wrecking ball with it equipped). It’s fun to mix and match as you see fit. This versatility adds to the gameplay and gives it a leg up on X-Men: Mutant Apocalypse.








There’s also a Training Room where you can fight random enemies 1 on 1. It’s too bad there wasn’t a 2 player option here. Granted, the moves are fairly limited being a beat ‘em up platformer, but this would have made for a nice bonus mode.







Remember fantasizing as a kid about what would happen if the Hulk and Thing ever came to blows? Sure, you could read the various comic books in which they clashed, but there’s something cool about deciding the outcome yourself in video game form.







Capcom should have spent a little more time on this. With a proper 2 player mode, War of the Gems would truly be a gem.



Capcom released Marvel Super Heroes in arcades back in October of 1995. Such a port to the SNES would have been impossible, combined with the fact that by 1996 the SNES was no longer a viable machine.


Marvel Super Heroes was loud, brash and in your face. Along with X-Men: Children of the Atom, these two games were the prototype for what would later become Capcom’s notoriously over the top VS. series.


A Super Nintendo port of this game in 1996 would have been doomed to fail, both due to the late release in the system’s lifespan and how butchered and watered down it would have been.


Instead Capcom gave the remaining loyal SNES fans Marvel Super Heroes: War of the Gems. Instead of being a 1-on-1 fighting game, it was a single plane beat ‘em up with some platforming elements integrated. As such, it worked fine for what it is. Capcom threw us a bone, and if nothing else, it’s a curious entry in Capcom’s longstanding SNES catalog.


In an alternate reality, it would have been interesting to see what this game would play like had Capcom gone the traditional Street Fighter II route instead. You already have Captain America, Spider-Man, Wolverine, Iron Man and Hulk. Magus, Blackheart, Nebula, Dr. Doom and Thanos makes the roster a nice round number of 10. Give each of them a handful of special moves and it could have been a solid fighting game exclusive to the SNES. There’s a part of me that wishes Capcom had done that. But I’m also fine with what we got because what we got is a solid game in its own right.




Because it came out so late in the SNES’ lifespan, War of the Gems came and went with very little fanfare. It was not reviewed by either EGM or GameFan, and Super Play closed its doors a few months before the game could even come out. From my online travels around various gaming boards for the past 15+ years, more people seem to like it than not. Some prefer Mutant Apocalypse. Some prefer War of the Gems. Both games are worth playing (and owning). But for the record, I like War of the Gems better.



It’s always nice to at long last knock a childhood curiosity off your to-play list. I liked War of the Gems a lot when I first played it over 12 years ago, and I still like it now. From its curiously late release to its amazing sprite work, there’s just something about this game that I really dig. Not to mention the five superheroes that made the cut (Captain America, Spider-Man, Iron Man, Wolverine and Hulk) are my top five superheroes of all time. They all look great (though poor Cap looks a bit funky) and their special powers puts you right in their shoes. I like that you can select the order of stages to tackle as well as the ability to pick any hero for any level. It was an improvement from Mutant Apocalypse which had predetermined stages for its roster. Also, the addition of the Infinity Gems is a game changer. Hulk too slow for your liking? Equip his big ass with the Time Gem and speed is no longer an issue. Spider-Man too weak? Give him the Power Gem and watch Hulk grow green (er… greener) with envy. It’s fun to experiment and definitely increases the game’s longevity.


The visuals are top-notch. They’re big, beefy and intricately detailed. Coming out so late, you would expect nothing less from Capcom, and they sure didn’t disappoint. It gets you in the proper ass-kicking mood. Unfortunately, the sound is nowhere as high in quality. Landing blows doesn’t sound as impactful as I would have liked, and the music isn’t anything to write home about. Another blemish is that the game plays a bit slowly due to the massive sprites, which may turn off some hardcore action aficionados but I personally did not mind. Also, the levels are short and the enemies can feel rather sparse. It’s definitely not an A+ effort by Capcom, but I never got the feeling that it was just a cheap attempt at a cash grab. The game is also on the short and easy side, but that may be viewed more as a positive than a negative depending on one’s perspective.

We salute thee, Stan Lee!
We salute thee, Stan Lee!

But one thing’s for sure, at least from where I sit, and that’s this: I had an absolute blast playing through War of the Gems. And I find myself revisiting it randomly throughout the years. For me it never gets old slicing up bad guys with Wolverine’s claws, or blasting bastards to Kingdom Come with Iron Man’s proton beams. Could Capcom have done more? Sure. But War of the Gems, while it may fall short of being a true gem, is still one hell of a swashbuckling time. It definitely left me wanting more, and is worthy of a spot in your Super Nintendo collection. Besides, let’s face it, at the end of a long hard day at work, sometimes you just wanna be the Hulk and smash shit up.

Graphics: 8.5
Sound: 7
Gameplay: 8
Longevity: 7

AwardsOverall: 8.0
Silver Award

Aw, thanks Tony! [Damnit Stark, don't encourage him -Ed.]
Aw, thanks Tony! [Damnit Stark, don’t encourage him -Ed.]