SNES Party Games

There's nothing like gaming with family and friends
There’s nothing like gaming with family and friends

The SNES is my favorite system of all time, and one of the many reasons why I love it so much is because of all the great multiplayer games. While there are a ton of amazing 2-player SNES games, the focus here is specifically on Super Nintendo titles that allow 4 (or more) players to duke it out (or in some cases, work together). There’s something about being in a room with a group of friends playing the same game together. There’s an innocence and magic to it that will never fade away.

Tangled cords and bruised egos... ahhh
Tangled cords and bruised egos… ahhh

I have so many fond memories of the many party sessions I’ve had over the years with the SNES. It’s fitting that I’m writing this article so close to Christmas as the holiday season tends to bring people together. It’s the perfect excuse to bust out the Super Nintendo and play some old (or newfound) favorites with your loved ones.



First, make sure you have one of these multitap adapters. There are lots of models but these are just a few examples.


You’ll need one if you wish to play any of the following games with 3 or more friends.

This is the one I use
The one I use personally



There are many great 2-player SNES games out there, from Super Mario Kart to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time. The list goes on and on. That’s a story article for another day. For now the focus is squarely on games that allow 4 or more to play. There’s always room however to quickly acknowledge those that didn’t quite make the cut but are noteworthy nonetheless. The following 3 games deserve a shout out since they each support up to 3 players. Not quite 4, last I checked anyhow, but close. Hence, my honorable mentions are as follows…



Funky subtitle aside, Crystal Beans is a simple and enjoyable overhead action RPG with elements similar to Gauntlet. It has 8 characters (of varying classes) to select from and best of all, it supports up to 3 players. It only came out in Japan but there’s an English translation patch available for those interested. Not the best game but it can easily eat up a weekend or two especially if you have a few buds willing to join in.



There’s a reason why Secret of Mana is so revered within retro gaming circles. Even 25 years later, it resonates with an entire generation that grew up glued to the screen vanquishing the latest creatures and critters. Doing it with 2 friends by your side, at a time where a 3-player mode in an action RPG was unheard of, made the experience even more irresistibly awesome.



Seiken Densetsu 3, AKA Secret of Mana 2, came out exclusively in Japan. Thankfully, an English fan translation has allowed gamers worldwide to experience this phenomenal action RPG in all its glory. On top of that, a 3rd player option was graciously added in as well.



In this article (that I’ve wanted to write for over a decade now), I’ll share some of my favorite SNES party games. I’ll also list some I’m not too crazy about knowing that everyone’s mileage will vary. Some games listed are super well known while others are a lot more obscure. Not every 4+ player game on the SNES has been cited; the list is far too long so I’ve chosen only those that I wish to highlight. With that said, let’s dive in!



I remember seeing Bakuto! Dochers in the pages of EGM in 1994 and being excited. A Bomberman clone but with cute animals? Sold! It does some unique things: 3 hits to die, 20 battle zones (although many look samey) and cannon fodder enemies litter the field even in the 4-player battle mode. But sadly, it’s just not fun. It’s hard to botch the Bomberman formula but somehow Bakuto! BOTCHERS managed to do so :(



A homeless man’s NBA Jam, Barkley Shut Up and Jam isn’t very good but it can be a guilty pleasure. If you and your buds have a burning desire to use Charles Barkley and a bunch of fictional playground legends, this could be your jam. Pun partially intended.



Bomberman meets Mario Kart… kinda. The closest thing to that on the SNES, anyhow. Battle Cross is a 6-player single screen racer, although only 5 humans can play (kind of a shame they didn’t take advantage of that sixth slot). There’s a lot to like here. Whether it’s the cartoonish graphics, the insane customization, or the pure satisfaction of placing a land mine underneath an overpass to blow up unsuspecting foes, Battle Cross is a hit at retro gaming parties.



The great Ric Flair once said, “To B-Daman, you gotta Beat-Daman! WOO!!” Many folks know about the great Super Bomberman titles on the SNES, but not many know about the B-Daman series which came out only in Japan. It deviates from the classic formula but still has its own 4-player battle mode. In the first B-Daman game, players can’t die. Instead, the goal is to score as many hits as possible within the time limit. It’s not nearly as fun as the classic Bomberman titles but that’s a given thanks to the restrictions at play here, such as being conformed to your side of the wall and having limited movement.


The sequel, Bakukyu Rennpatsu!! Super B-Daman, is an improved effort but still feels like a lightweight novelty. Players are no longer restricted to rails and can freely move about. The goal is to push all the other people off the field and be the last (bomber)man standing. It’s nice to see them try something different but you’re better off sticking to the classic Bomberman games.



Of all the games on this list, BS Out of Bounds Golf is perhaps the most fun and cutthroat party game of them all. It’s a blast and has to be experienced with 4 players. The amount of sabotaging and trash talking that naturally occurs is a thing of beauty. And because players take turns, there is ample opportunity to scout and plot out your plan of attack. It’s one of those special games that anyone can pick up and play, and it will appeal even to non-gamers. A magical unicorn, indeed.



Not the best soccer game on this list, but a very competent and enjoyable one. Most noteworthy of all, Capcom’s Soccer Shootout has an indoor mode where the arena is shrunken down and the ball bounces off the wall for continuous play. Intense mode, especially with 4 players!



A strange 4-player game where you throw balls at the opposition in various arenas. Simple but loads of fun. Quirky games like this with oddball Japanese humor are always a guilty pleasure. Chibi Maruko Chan: Mezase Minami no Island is rather obscure and (sadly) rarely talked about. Check it out if you’re looking for something a little different for your next retro gaming party.



Speaking of not getting enough love, Coron Land is another obscure Super Famicom oddity that rarely ever gets mentioned. Blow and throw bubbles. It’s quirky and charming in its own unique way.



If you’re like me and have fond memories of playing pickup basketball from way back in the day, then Dream Basketball: Dunk & Hoop is sure to take you right back to your blacktop days. There’s a clunky 5-on-5 full court mode but the 3-on-3 street ball mode, being half court and having less sprites onscreen, is where Dream Basketball shines brightest. A rare gem for those not opposed to playing arcade-like sports games that are a quarter of a century old.



This is the only fighting game on the SNES that allows 4-players to play with a tag out feature. Pretty neat! Besides, who doesn’t want to play as Karnov?



Part Zelda and part Arkanoid, Fire Striker contains a 2-on-2 mode where teams of two battle for supremacy. The physics are a little off but it’s still a blast.

AJ Styles recently snagged a copy on Up Up Down Down
AJ Styles recently sang its praises on Up Up Down Down
Shout out to Xavier Woods, AKA Austin Creed! I met him last week and he was a super cool guy. And speaking of professional wrestling...
Shout out to Xavier Woods, AKA Austin Creed!
I met him last week and he was super cool.
And speaking of professional wrestling…



With over 115 wrestlers ready to be used and 800 different moves at your disposal, Burning Pro Wrestling is quite the package. It features real athletes from many different styles such as Puroresu, Lucha Libre and K-1 just to name a few. Play as or beat up the likes of Bret Hart, Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, Ric Flair, Sting, The Undertaker and many more. The Battle Royal features up to 18 wrestlers and a grand total of 6 wrestlers can litter the ring. Fun stuff!



As if you can’t tell from the screenshot above, Go! Go! Dodge League is loosely based on dodgeball and doesn’t follow the conventional rules of the sport. It’s not the best game around but it has enough wacky Japanese charm to put a smile on your face.



Originally set for a US release as Super Soccer Champ 2, it was eventually scrapped. Released only in Japan as Hat Trick Hero 2, this is a fast scrolling arcade brand of soccer that features super power kicks. Worth a look if you love retro 4-player soccer games.



The best soccer game on the SNES, hands (feet?) down, is made even better when experienced in glorious 4-player mode.



Even more outlandish than NBA Jam and arguably just as fun, Looney Tunes B-Ball is a sheer blast. Name another zany basketball game where you can drop a 16 ton weight on someone’s head or summon lightning to zap suckers into smithereens… you can’t!



Madden Football isn’t the first game I think of when it comes to multiplayer affairs. But the ’94-’98 editions all allow up to 5 players. If you’re craving pigskin of the 16-bit variety, this might do the trick.



Race your favorite miniature toy cars around 28 different tracks. These include a pool table, the living room floor and even your neighbor’s flower garden. The sequel, Micro Machines 2: Turbo Tournament, featured even more vehicles and tracks and was released only in Europe.



NBA Give ‘N Go lacks blazing speed but makes up for it with an impeccable arcade-like feel. The presentation is a slam dunk and the wacky announcer will make you feel like you’re back at the arcades. Give ‘N Go is based after all on Run and Gun, Konami’s arcade smash hit.



If you can look past its terrible aesthetics, NBA Hang Time gets the job done in 4-player mode.



BOOM SHAKALAKA! NBA Jam and more specifically, NBA Jam: Tournament Edition, rules the roost when its comes to 4-player basketball games on the SNES. Best of all, NBA Jam TE is just as fun to play today as it was 25 years ago.



The NBA Live franchise blends simulation and arcade-like play extremely well. The ’95-’98 editions allow up to 5 players, with ’97 and ’98 featuring 2-on-2 and 3-on-3 modes for more intimate contests.



NHL ’94 is the best of the lot and has 5-player capability. Oddly, only 2 players can play NHL ’95-’97. NHL ’98 went back to 5 players but stick with the original; it’s pure hockey bliss that can’t be beat.



The only 8-player game (!) on this list, N-Warp Daisakusen is certainly a curiosity. Developed in 2008 as a homebrew title, this simplistic melee brawler sets out to see who will be the last man standing.



A Bomberman clone with a delightful twist. Rather than bombs, players set down capsules. Shurikens shoot out in all 4 directions. Get hit and you’re temporarily frozen. You lose only if someone hits you with their ball and chain while being suspended in animation. With a lens geared toward stealth and capitalizing on mistakes, Otoboke Ninja Colosseum makes for a fantastic 4-player romp.



The only beat ‘em up on this list! But sadly, 4 players can only duke it out in a special self-contained mode. Give Peace Keepers some credit but it’s a limited novelty at best. It’s a shame none of the SNES beat ‘em ups allow for 4-player cooperative play but that’s understandable given the hardware limitations.



Up to 5 people can work together to solve puzzles of various kinds. Pieces is perfect for younger and less experienced players such as little nieces and nephews.



An adorable Bomberman clone where you push blocks to subdue your opponents. One of my readers recently dubbed this game “Gnome Squish” which fits it perfectly! An absolute blast in 4-player mode.



My friends and I spent so many Saturday nights back in the summer of 1994 playing this. Frenetic, chaotic and always entertaining, Saturday Night Slam Masters was born to be a 4-player slobber knocker.



Not as good or fun as Saturday Night Slam Masters but not a bad alternative. The visuals are on point and it’s always fun to kick some ass with either Great Sasuke or Jushin Thunder Liger!



Bomberman but with cars. It’s super blatant but also super fun. A few slight tweaks here and there, like 2 hits to die, help to make it not a complete carbon copy. Sorry.



Sporting News Baseball holds the distinct honor of being the only North American SNES baseball game to support 4 players. You and a friend take turns batting on offense and on defense one pitches while the other plays defense. And hey, any excuse to play ball on the Field of Dreams cornfield sounds good to me!



Street Racer is no Mario Kart 2 but it’s an admirable effort. 24 tracks, 8 drivers and plenty of zany 4-player modes!



Smash and bash your way to victory in Sunsoft’s melee brawler. Sugoi Hebereke is a bit like Super Smash Bros. in some ways and is worth checking out, especially if you have retro gaming buddies to play it with.



Super Bomberman is the classic and quintessential party game on the SNES. All you needed back in 1993 was a copy of this game, a multitap, 4 controllers and 3 friends. My friends and I spent countless Saturday nights back in ’93 blowing each other up and loving every second of it.


Super Bomberman 2 included a tag team mode. I prefer the original but you can’t go wrong with this one.


Super Bomberman 3 came out only in Europe and Japan. It’s most notable for introducing mad bombers, animal friends (granting you an extra life and special abilities) and raising the player count from 4 to 5.


Super Bomberman 4 was released only in Japan. Like pizza, you really can’t go wrong with any of the 16-bit Bomberman games.


Super Bomberman 5 is my favorite of the 16-bit Bomberman games that didn’t come out in North America. And overall, I’d rank it second only to the classic original.



Did you know there was a Bomberman puzzle game on the Super Famicom? And of course, it naturally features a 4-player mode. As the cool kids might say, this game is lit yo. Geddit? Sorry.



I love this game so much that I ranked it #2 on my top 50 favorite obscure Super Famicom games list. Super Family Tennis is full of charm and never fails to leave me feeling satisfied. 4-player doubles is where it’s at!



Developed by HUMAN (creators of the beloved Fire Pro series), Super Final Match Tennis nails down the presentation but something about the gameplay is slightly off. There’s still some merit here but you’re probably better off playing Super Family Tennis instead. Still, it’s nice to have options.



Speaking of which, Super Fire Pro Wrestling X Premium is the final and best Fire Pro entry on the Super Nintendo. For the past 20+ years, the fabled Fire Pro franchise has been a staple among wrestling video game fans. While this edition may be primitive by comparison, it was revolutionary back in 1996 and remains just as enjoyable today.



There’s nothing like an intense 4-player Puyo Puyo match. This has the potential to ruin relationships, so proceed with caution.



On the surface it looks like yet another Bomberman clone. But dig a little deeper and you’ll find an interesting alternative. Flip tiles and jump on opponents to stun them, and then attack them with your trusty spiky ball. Super Tekkyu Fight! is an obscure hidden gem worthy of a spot in your retro gaming party collection.



4-player Tetris, bitches. ‘Nuff said!



Due to the hodgepodge of mini games, some have likened this as a precursor to Mario Party. You’ll like this if that’s your thing.



Many folks are familiar with Top Gear as it was one of the earlier SNES hits back in the day. Top Gear 3000 on the other hand is fairly obscure, receiving a quiet release with very little fanfare in early 1995. It’s most notable for its quirky 4-player split screen.



Released only in Europe, Worms is classic turn-based artillery multiplayer tactical warfare at its finest. Randomly generated deformable landscapes only add to the fun and strategy of it all. Sure, this first entry in the longstanding franchise may seem a bit outdated to some, but it’s where it all started. I can appreciate that. Besides, who can say no to blowing up worms via TNT?



Earlier this year Monday Night Raw celebrated 25 years. I remember those early Raw episodes well; every Monday night was must-see TV. But I digress. An improvement over WWF Royal Rumble, WWF Raw is the best WWF game on the SNES. But that’s only because we never got WWF WrestleFest!



The Zen Nippon series gets forgotten about at times, and in my book is right up there with the fabled Fire Pro franchise as far as great wrestling games go. This is the last and best of the Zen Nippon series on the SNES. The Fatal 4-Way match is an absolute riot. Lots of fun await if you and your buddies enjoy classic retro wrestling games.



Nothing will ever replace the sheer joy of playing a game huddled around your buddies in the same room. Not to mention all the silly trash talking and good-natured taunting that comes with the territory. It’s all part of the charm! There’s something special and magical about those gaming sessions that I recall with a deep fondness, and I always look forward to future gaming gatherings. The SNES has plenty of great 4-player games that would steal the show at any retro gaming party. I hope this list serves you well and gives you some new games to try out with your loved ones. Feel free to comment below too — glaring omissions perhaps or games you enjoy best from this list. Happy gaming, and happy holidays!

Let the good times roll :)
Let the good times roll :)

Otoboke Ninja Colosseum (SFC)

Oh look, it's Super Bomberwoman!
Oh look, it’s Super Bomberwoman!

It is true that “chain” can be hard. Developer “Mint” knew this because they didn’t stray far from a much tried-and-true formula for their very first video game effort. In fact, they only made a total of three games. If you’ve never heard of the company Mint before, you’re not alone. Otoboke Ninja Colosseum can best be described as Bomberman with female ninjas. Sounds pretty good. But is it? Let’s take a closer look.


Love the Super Famicoms!
Love the Super Famicoms!

Rather than dropping bombs, you drop spiked capsules. But there’s an interesting twist here…

Death by shuriken! Not so fast...
Death by shuriken! Not so fast…

Two seconds later the capsule shatters, releasing four shurikens north, south, west and east (if not blocked by an obstacle).

OK, so it’s pretty much like Bomberman‘s bombs right? Hold on a second, playa…

Like a sitting duck...
Like a sitting duck, the poor gal

If a shuriken connects, it stuns the player for two seconds, but they’re not yet eliminated. You’re only halfway home.

Pick her off around the corner!
Pick her off around the corner!

Only during a stunned state can the chain attack finish ‘em off. This is a cool twist because the stun doesn’t automatically guarantee defeat. The other player still has to connect with their chain ball. Battles get intense when you escape the grip of death by mere nanoseconds. It’s also incredibly satisfying to manually twist your chain around from far away. Some of the chain twists can get pretty nuts!

It’s this little quirk and change in gameplay that makes this Bomberman clone stand out from the crowd. In four player battles you can hide in the shadows and wait for the other players to stun each other, and then you can unleash your chain. You can technically win a match by only using the chain attack and never having to lay down a spiked capsule. This adds a natural built-in devious and vulture-like atmosphere that works really well with three friends in tow. Being able to wait in the weeds and eliminate someone seemingly out of nowhere is damn good stuff.

So gone is the “Damnit! I accidentally killed myself in the first three seconds” syndrome. Plus the chain attack is ace. It can be manipulated to curve around corners and, when prolonged, is quite an amazing sight. Not to mention really fun to control. More on this later…



It’s decent enough, but definitely not the meat and potatoes of the game. It does sport kind of an anime look, though, which is pretty interesting, although the visuals are a little on the bland side. It doesn’t come off as a 1995 SNES game. In fact it looks more like a Genesis title from 1993 (no offense to the Sega Genesis). It just has that Mega Drive look to it, know what I mean?


I forged ahead, hoping things would pick up a bit. And it did at the first boss.

Shurikens hitting this boss does no damage. You have to first connect with the shuriken(s) and then send the chain ball at it. For regular enemies, the shuriken is enough to get the job done. For the tougher regular enemies, however, it’s the ol’ shuriken-chain combo.

The second world was a lot more interesting with more puzzles to solve instead of just laying spiked capsules and high-tailing it. They’re not yet mind-bending but it’s still early. Here is the first “puzzle” you’ll encounter:


To beat a stage you must first clear every bad guy. Three unbreakable blocks halt your progress here.


Use your chain to pull those three blocks out one by one.

Keep going
Keep going


Now with one block remaining, you’re able to push through it and unleash hell on all them fools.

Like I said, not taxing but a lot more satisfying than the wide open. Later on, teleports come into play and the puzzles get rather perplexing.







The next snow stage is very nice. I love little details like that creepy, possessed-looking volcano face launching fireballs without mercy — awesome. Watch the shadows of these on-coming fireballs and skidaddle!


By the way, the volcano baddie reminds me of GAROKK from X-Men fame… in his rocky prison form.













The haunted theme is the best. Contend with bats, vampires, ghoulish skeletons and super quick werewolves. Check out this sick 2×2 screen level!


Feeling quite satisfied with the one player mode now, which went from meh to hey that’s not so bad, the four player battle mode is the meat of any Bomberman type game. The one player mode was never anything more than a bonus, a frill, a silk handkerchief in the breast pocket of the game’s velvet regalia.


Power-ups are always important to these games. Otoboke has some of the coolest you’ll find anywhere. A list of some:

  • Drop more spiked capsules at a time
  • Spiked capsules are made invisible when dropped
  • Spiked capsules exploding after one second rather than two
  • Chain can PUSH spiked capsules around (very evil power-up!)
  • Chain can break blocks, not just your shurikens
  • Speed down
  • Speed up

Etc. Everyone starts with a full screen chain and shurikens which also travel the full length of the screen, not to mention the ability to drop two spiked capsules right off the bat. This makes it a bit more chaotic than Bomberman from the get-go at least. There’s an emphasis on being offensive-minded. You have to watch your back from jump street as everyone starts out pretty strong even in their default state.



Your standard first stage. The snowmen are unbreakable and can be used defensively as shurikens can’t cut through them. The snowmen are pushable and your chain can pull them toward you as well. All but two battle zones have these movable barriers in some shape or form.



Each player has their own island waiting to be invaded. The cool thing here is, unless you use the bridge points, chains cannot stretch across islands, thus eliminating “cheap kills.” This stage effectively forces you to man up, er, woman up. This Colosseum separates the boys from the men. Er, the girls from the women. Ah you know what I mean! The Super Famicom barriers add a nice touch as well.



What would a game of this nature be without a roof / tunnel stage? Can you locate the green player? Not here you can, since she is taking shelter under one of the roof tops. This stage is full of Japanese culture — from the roofing style to the Tanuki statues. I always enjoy these tunnel type levels, where parts of the playing field is obscured by some kind of structure. It lends a fun hide and seek aspect to the game.



What else could make a game of this nature more complete? Of course, the stage with multiple exit points. The green player enjoys a blend-in advantage (see far right). Hey, sometimes it pays to be controller number four, eh?



The green bars restrict certain movement. Sorry, not much else to say here. It’s not one of my favorite stages as it’s a bit dull both in concept and in terms of looks. One of the more forgettable battle zones. Not worthless, but not exactly as enticing as some of the others on tap.








This one is unique because all spiked capsules dropped are invisible! Note the return of the Tanuki. The green pool in the middle there is aesthetically pleasing in a mystical, mythical fashion. See, this is what the previous Colosseum lacked. Just the smallest detail or graphical touch can really go a long way! It makes me wonder if the combatants took a sip of the water before the match and thus were granted the super power of having invisible spiked capsules. All thanks to one small graphical detail ^_^



It’s the super power war zone. Each player begins with the ability to drop five spiked capsules and there are no obstacles! Only the strongest will survive here.

You can’t fall through those holes by the way. Whew!








At a cursory glance you wouldn’t know the gimmick here. However, play for a bit and arrows are soon revealed. Determines where shurikens travel? Nope. The arrows directs where your CHAIN can go. A nice variation on top of a nice variation. The Super Famicom barriers make a return because they’re awesome.



When the clock runs down to 30 seconds, spikes crop up. If you come into contact with the spikes then you’re stunned a la the shurikens. Also, you lose if you fall through the holes. An interesting variation on Bomberman‘s falling blocks.


Check out some of the cool things you can do with that ole chain ball:

The S-chain
The S-chain
The rectangle chain
The rectangle chain
The Mario Kart race track chain
The Mario Kart race track chain :)


Nothing’s quite as sweet as lurking in the shadows waiting for others to do the dirty work. As soon as you find a stunned opponent, send the chain ball twisting and curving some twenty feet away — it makes for great enemies and Ooooh-I’ll-get-you-next-round!” battles.

The feeling of surviving by the skin of your teeth as the chain comes your way JUST as you recover from your slumber is equally a great high, and on the flip side, morally deflating.


Otoboke lacks the finishing touches and isn’t nearly as customizable as the Bomberman games. There’s no option for CPU AI — the default AI is laughably horrible. There’s no tag team option. Thankfully the rest is status quo: pick between 2-4 players (from a character choice of four females), 1-5 wins and any one of the eight Colosseums.

Graphically, it’s a bit weaker than the SNES Bomberman games (which were no visual tour-de-forces themselves). The music can get annoying at times. Control is a bit “stickier” than the Bomberman games.

What I mean by that is you can’t readjust your position when “waiting.” You know how you drop a bomb in Bomberman, go hide in a safe corner and can face north, south, west or east to ready yourself for your next movement? In Otoboke if you go in facing east, you can’t turn west without moving out of your safe position. Maybe hard to understand in text, but you’ll see what I mean if you play it. This forces you to have greater wherewithal to compensate for a flaw that shouldn’t be there in the first place. It’s not a deal breaker in my opinion, but diehard Bomberman fans will take notice of this change and be quickly forced to adjust their playing style.


Best Bomberman clone on SNES
Best Bomberman clone on SNES

Despite the flaws listed above, I love Otoboke Ninja Colosseum. It plays enough like Bomberman to provide you with that sense of comforting familiarity, yet it throws some curveballs at you to keep you on your toes and makes this a game worth playing rather than that lingering thought creeping into your head: “I would much rather play Bomberman.” Otoboke does just enough to separate itself from Bomberman that it makes owning both games more than worth it. One of the better Super Famicom imports and one of the best four player games on the SNES, Otoboke Ninja Colosseum is a quirky little gem.

Spark World (SFC)

Look, it's Bombercar
Look, it’s Bombercar

When I was searching for information on Spark World on the internet back in 2006, it (pardon the pun) shocked me there was nothing. Sure the game’s highly unoriginal, but it’s pretty good regardless, so I thought I’d find SOMETHING on it. I wasn’t expecting to find a full blown write up, but at least a blurb in a “Recommend me some good Super Famicom games” topic. There was nothing to be found. It’s sadly another case of an obscurity left lurking in the shadows. That’s a shame, so tonight let’s shine the spotlight on this little gem.

If Battle Cross was like Super Mario Kart meets Super Bomberman, with emphasis on the former, then Spark World is the same — only with the emphasis placed on the latter.

The story goes as follows:

In a distant world where intelligent cars rule, a shady casino operator who is actually a drug dealer casts his shadow over the alleys and streets. Two young cop cars, Beat and Barts, decide to take matters into their own hands (so to speak) when they learn that the police department is riddled with corruption by the syndicate boss. The intrepid pair must set off to points around the globe and blow up enemies by detonating fuel barrels. If you’re not in the mood to save the world you can always play against 3 friends (or computer controlled opponents in the battle mode).


The story mode allows you to select any one of nine stages. Each stage has three zones with the fourth being the boss. 4-character passwords are given after each stage.

A look at some of the levels from the 1-player mode:






Train boss!
The Terror Train is boss #1
















The classic themes are represented: jungle, river, ice, desert, etc. Each theme, as you can guess, is guarded by a boss.

The meat of the game, like Bomberman, is the battle mode with 12 selectable stages. Any combination of 2-4 players can play, and CPU AI is selectable from 1-9. You can set CPU 1 AI level nine, CPU 2 AI five and CPU 3 AI one if you so choose. Very user friendly.

And of course, by blowing blocks sky high, you reveal items that can either help or hinder. Longer sparks, more bombs dropped at a time, jelly bombs (I told you this game was highly unoriginal…), a boxing glove (though instead of punching bombs you punch the opponents — sweet), and so forth.

? marks are a HUGE gamble. If you get the bad side of it, a grim reaper appears over your head with a 30 second countdown. When it reaches 0, whoever has the icon dies. Luckily, you can transfer it to anyone you touch, and it can be passed back and forth until the timer reaches 0. It’s a riot making the switch to someone with 1 second to go!  *evil laughter*

There are no dinosaurs or animals here, but each player can sustain two hits.

Without further ado, let’s take a look at the battle zones.



Basic plain classic stage where pure skills reign supreme.




At first glance one might assume the arrows indicate where bombs go, but rather than completely ripping off Bomberman, the arrows actually indicate where YOU can go. Similar to the boxing glove, it’s this slight gimmick twist that goes a long way.




Red button = no pass. Blue = OK. The colors switch occasionally and shrewd timing is the key to surviving and creating traps.




I thought my SNES broke when I first played this zone. You’re moved automatically! Challenging zone indeed.




When the sides are bombed, the doors on the floor open up. Get called up to the big house if you fall through!




Ahh, the classic stage with 4 exit points. I love the look here. Unfortunately, the sparks will NOT go through the exit points, unlike Bomberman. Shame, but oh well.




I love this stage’s design and gimmick. Once the boulder is free it’ll roll around the stage. Sparks influence its direction. Don’t let it crush you! There’s nothing better than blasting the giant rock right through your friend!




Ahhh, the classic conveyor belt stage. I also love the look here.


Note: battle zones 9-12 (not pictured) all have crazy gimmicks (i.e. gun placed in the middle, mega bombs, etc.) but they all use the same stage design.


Somebody got fired...
Somebody got fired…

You can set match victory to 1-5 matches much like Bomberman. The victory screen is a hoot… what the hell is victry? Whoops!


Yellow car screwed for round 2
Yellow is so screwed for round 2

While Spark World is a rip-off through and through, it does have a sweet feature that draws the battle lines in the sand quite emphatically. At the end of a round the game lets you know who your “rival” is. That way you know exactly who to target specifically the following round. It gets wild and loony when one car kills all 3 of his or her opponents. You can form a temporary brotherhood and go after that rival the following round. Makes for some good times for sure.


Damn, blue. You killin' it, son!
Damn, blue. You killin’ it, son!

So yeah, Spark World is a blatant Super Bomberman clone. But bloody hell if it ain’t a blast (sorry). There’s enough of a difference to make it more than a decent alternative. For example, I love that you can sustain two hits. It makes the battles last longer and gives you a chance at redemption rather than a one and done. Sure you can ride animals in the Bomberman titles but honestly I never liked them too much. Felt a little too gimmicky to me, personally. I also like that the boxing glove allows you to punch your opponents rather than punch fuel barrels. I mean, c’mon, does it really get any better than that?! Also, the arrows in battle zone two indicate where YOU can move, rather than your fuel barrels. It’s these slightly unique twists that add up to a slightly refreshing take. But my favorite thing might be that rival screen. Sure, you usually know full well who killed you, but that shot emphatically draws the battle line in the sand for the following round.

Of course it’s not better than the Super Bomberman titles but as far as clones go, this is an admirable and very solid effort. If you love these party games, definitely pick up Spark World. When the sparks get long the battles get really intense. It’s neat also how the spark color indicates who dropped the bomb(s). It’s just a fun game that I’m still playing even 10+ years later after buying it in 2006. Yet another unheralded semi-gem from the fascinating world of Super Famicom!

Battle Cross (SFC)

Pub: Imagineer | Dev: A-Max | 12.9.94 | 8 MEGS

In the early-mid ’90s, few games matched the fun that Super Bomberman and Super Mario Kart provided. Ever wonder if someone was keen enough to sort of combine the two? A-Max did, at least, to some degree. Battle Cross is a 6-player single screen racer. It does an admirable job of cramming bits and pieces of Bomberman and Mario Kart. The air-bike is easy to control. Once you get in the zone, you’ll be screaming past tight corners, blowing up the competition, and scorching toward the finish line with dazzling flamboyance unseen since the glory days of Babylon.

Naturally, there are weapons and power-ups randomly strewn across the course at any given time. Nothing beats dropping a land mine under a hidden overpass… *evil grin*

Speaking of which, let’s take a look.


  • Laser (press R to shoot)

Unlimited. You could be on one side of the track and still hit someone on the other. It’s weak though… only stunning the victim for a split second (but enough to tick the tar outta ‘em, which is half the fun really).

  • Speed Up (automatic)

Increases your speed for that entire race. Collect a couple and you’ll blaze right through the competition.

  • Matchless (automatic)

Zipping at break-neck speed, anyone caught in your path will flip out. It’s just like the Star from Super Mario Kart.

  • Land Mine (Y)

My favorite. The more land mine icons you collect the more you can lay at a time. If you collect three or four as I once did, you’ll OWN that race!

  • Nitro (X)

Speed burst. If you’re on a track with steep hills, activate it at the bottom and watch your guy FLY!

  • Missile (R)

A one shot deal that, when released, darts around the track until it finds someone or burns out.

  • Weight (R)

Like the missile, a one time deal that sends a blue skeleton disc around the track until it finds someone or passes out. This causes the infected driver to go considerably slower.

  • Turn Over (R)

Evil in its purest form. Bolts a yellow skeleton disc around the track — if it finds a target, that driver will temporarily have his control REVERSED. On basic tracks the transition is usually no biggie. But on those with lots of turns, it’s a true you-know-what. Luckily, when infected, a fairy (!) appears carrying a first-aid kit. Touch her and instantly be healed. Love it. Odd and rather weird, but very cool!

The reason for different buttons? So you can drop a land mine WHILE shooting your lasers. As NBA Hall-of-Famer turned commentator Bill Walton would say: “Now HOW cool is THAT?”

Three game modes: Battle, Grand Prix and Practice.

In Battle you pick from 1-30 laps to win a course. 15 is the default; I like playing on 10 just to keep things moving. Pick from 1-5 match wins. You can even select a new track after each round! In Bomberman, you’re restricted to the SAME field until one player can win the designated amount. But here, say it’s 3 wins to the trophy; well, you can play on tracks 1, 2 and 8 if you wish. Brilliant!

Up to 5 human players can play, with a total of 6 maximum bikers. Any combo is possible: 1-on-1 race, or 4 bikers instead of 6. Go 7 laps, or 27. Adjust the AI from 1-5. It’s very user-friendly, just like Bomberman.

The Grand Prix follows a storyline, but like Bomberman the meat of Battle Cross is playing the Battle mode (and preferably with some buddies to truly enhance the experience).

Nine initial courses are available, with one being unlockable.  Let’s check ‘em out.



Just your basic first stage that helps you ease into things. The course itself has no special features. A volcano rests peacefully in the middle and a friendly chap in the ocean enjoys fishing while observing the race. Oh and um… a Godzilla-like creature plays in the sand pit there… those wacky Japanese. They’re at it again…



A couple puddles atop and a grumpy pirate who doesn’t like trespassers highlight this track. He launches a cannonball across the screen every five seconds or so. If you find yourself in the line of fire, don’t be a chump, jump!



The orange arrows operate as a speed burst. This is the first track to implement high and low drops. I really like the curve before the finish line — it’s the perfect opportunity to smoothly turn the corner and accelerate on through. And for some reason, I really dig the way the grass looks. It’s so lush. It’s the little things!



This course rocks. Leap over the wooden spikes and watch out for the rocket that comes screaming out of the hole. A little gate near the totem pole swings open periodically, allowing the precious possibility of a short cut. But if the gate closes as you go for it, the AGONY! The shrubbery at the bottom left obstructs the playing view. It’s ripe for mine-dropping. Overall this course has a good deal of strategy, making it one of my favorite courses in the game.



See that wolf peering over the cliff there? Nice! It’s the little things that make video games cool I always say. Here the slopes get very steep and if you got Nitro, use it at that bottom hill. Your momentum can propel you straight through the finish line! It’s similar to using a mushroom right before the jump bit on the very first iconic Ghost Valley track from Super Mario Kart.



Twice the hidden overpasses equals twice the potential danger of land mines. I love the corner where my red guy is at — making a smooth turn and having that long raceway to steam forward is pretty cool stuff.



Love this devious track. It’s wide open… til you get to the two red pillars. To make matters worse, they move randomly! It’s a short stage but very fun because of the chaos the red pillars can cause. Blue and yellow there did OK — green and purple not so much! As for me, red, oh you know.. you know… uh… overlapping them. *cough* Nothing beats cutting through those pillars unscathed. Not only will you probably be in the lead but you’ll look real cool too, oh yeah.



Those are some big animals! O_o Course gets a bit bumpy in the middle there. This is one of my least favorite tracks to be honest. It doesn’t seem as appealing as some of the others. Be sure to drop mines under that overpass, though…



Pinball-mania. Madness I tells ya. The 3 yellow bumpers move and are hard to avoid. Hit the bumpers as I did here, and you’ll be bouncing back and forth for a few. He who minimizes mistakes, will win.


-Graphics are nothing to write home about but as you can see are quite serviceable and for this type of game works

-Sound is OK, but I love the catchy course tunes

-Like Bomberman, it’s still decent enough fun to play alone, but the real treat is getting 4 other people to play… one of those games that’s perfect to play after a late night out

-Even your little brother or sister can play — there’s an option in Battle mode for “human-CPU” mode. Think of it like… auto-defense in baseball video games

-You won’t need to understand Japanese to enjoy this game, though the storyline in Grand Prix will fly over your head… but no biggie, ya know?

-Never a hint of slowdown

-The back cover of the manual has the best Engrish ever:

Thanks for what!
Those silly Japanese


Battle Cross is a fun party game. It possesses a unique charm and little things like the wolf and revolving gate, for example, add a sense of life to the game. The more I played Battle Cross the more I liked it. It’s well worth owning, especially if you have like-minded retro gaming friends. It’s a shame this game never came out in the US, but thankfully we can import it without any hassles as everything in the game is pretty much self-explanatory. Now, I do have to say this. I liked this game a lot more when I first played it in 2006, nearly 10 years ago. Similar to The Firemen, another Super Famicom title, I was really impressed a decade ago when this was a fresh novelty. In revisiting it years later, while I still like and recommend it, it’s not quite as awesome as I remembered it being. The gameplay is not as ‘meaty’ as Super Bomberman or Super Mario Kart. Don’t get me wrong, I still like Battle Cross, but perhaps temper your expectations at the door before diving in. Obviously it doesn’t hold a candle to either of those iconic Super Nintendo games, but hey, few games can. Battle Cross is a funky example of a game that’s both “worthy” yet somehow “somewhat disappointing, considering.”

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


Overall: 7.5
Bronze Award

DoReMi Fantasy (SFC)

The best SNES platformer not named Mario? Just maybe...
Happy 20th! 3.22.96-3.22.16

Today marks 20 years since the release of one of the finest platformers you could play on your SNES: DoReMi Fantasy. I originally wrote about this game nearly 10 years ago when it wasn’t as well known as it is today. When I first got back into all things Super Nintendo (January 2006), I did so in large part because I wanted to get back to my platforming roots. I scoured the net and looked at the entire SNES library. I saw pictures of a Japanese game called “DoReMi Fantasy” and instantly fell in love. Ever see a picture of a game and knew right away that you had to play it? DoReMi Fantasy had me instantly charmed. The Super Famicom has some amazing games that we Westerners sadly never received. DoReMi Fantasy is one of the best. 10 years ago it was actually obscure. It’s a lot more well known these days due to positive word of mouth over the years. Plus, a Wii Virtual Console release in March 2008 certainly didn’t hurt. It isn’t uncommon to find this game on hidden gem and must have SNES lists. It couldn’t happen to a nicer game, as the old saying goes [I’m pretty sure it doesn’t go like that but ok… -Ed.]

Milon from Milon’s Secret Castle

DoReMi Fantasy is a highly polished side-scrolling platformer. There are 8 worlds each with their own theme. In each world there’s a minimum of 6 levels followed by a boss. An overhead map allows you to backtrack. The levels aren’t particularly long but they possess plenty of detail, quirky enemies, excellent backdrops, ace set pieces and ultra smooth gameplay. The game’s sound is also noteworthy — it occasionally foregoes music for ambient sound effects instead. It all helps to create a unique world well worth exploring and spending a weekend or two with.

Amazing set piece!

Milon is a great character, full of charm and animated brilliantly. Graphics are outstanding. The game has a real sense of life to it. You really have to see it in motion to fully appreciate it. Milon can take up to 3 hits. His suit starts out green, then turns blue when hit and finally red. Jumping on an enemy’s head will only stun them. To kill them, you have to first encase them in a bubble and then pop them. It’s a slight twist on the ole hop ‘n bop routine that works well. Although it’s nothing groundbreaking by any means, this slight deviation from the norm is welcomed.

Be the star, find the star

From world 2 on, each level contains a Musical Star you must find and grab (usually not that hard, but later on becomes trickier). Therefore, you’re forced to explore the beautiful layouts (if you finish a stage without getting the star, you can’t battle the boss). Speaking of worlds, let’s take a look at them.


Pinpoint control

It’s the ole standard forest theme world. Although basic, it manages to pull you into its charming world. Something about SNES visuals that just does it for me. Sure, there might be better out there (i.e. Neo Geo) but visuals like this get me every single time. As with any platformer, the first world is simple and will get you acquainted to the game’s mechanics and control. You may feel a bit uninspired initially but it gets much better. Highlights of this world include a log ride, falling leaves over a pit where you must time your leap from one leaf to the next, and a neat little haunted cabin featuring Pinocchio-esque dolls.

Whoa, you’re happy to see me
Duck Hunt flashback!


So unique and bizarre…

If the first world seemed a bit ho-hum to you, then the second world is a lot more likely to catch your eye. It’s not often that you find a themed world consisting of food and drink items combined with a very atmosphere celestial backdrop. It’s almost like some weird acid trip. Lots of neat graphical touches, a surreal and ambient soundtrack and some bizarre-o enemies make these levels particularly memorable.

Reach for the stars, kid

Launching posts propel Milon high through the air and usually sends the little guy bursting through blocks in the process. And it feels as awesome as it looks.

Always wear protection…

Another impressive set piece, if you leave Milon idle for a while, he’ll pull his pointy wizard’s hat over his head as the wine comes pouring down over him. It’s a cute, charming moment that brought a smile to my face the very first time I saw it. Moments like this bring DoReMi Fantasy to life.


Hey, the sermon wasn’t that bad

Some creepy music here! It’s not what you expect, and caught me off guard when I first heard it. It gives this stage a rather eerie, empty feel. Highlights of this world include a bell hopping stage and a unique level where on/off switches litter the floor. Touch any off switch and darkness devours the scene, except for the color of the switches and Milon’s white pupils.

Lovely transparent curtains!


Ah, back to platforming tropes

Though much of this level is on land, there are plenty of underwater sequences. I quickly developed a burning hatred for those annoying spear throwing frogmen. And I suspect you will too.

5. ICE

Ooooh. Ahhhh

I love this world. It features some of the game’s best looking visuals and stages. It’s incredibly fun to play through. Stage 5-3 is a sled stage that particularly rocks.

Off the charts animation!
Shades of Sonic the Hedgehog
Love playing this at night!

Blow a bubble. It’ll freeze, forming a block for Milon to hop on. Brilliant. And yes, as you’d expect those icy blocks are more slippery than a used car salesman. Overall, a really fun world and easily my favorite in the game. So incredibly atmospheric. Those Northern Lights never fail to bring a smile to my heart. You can almost feel the chill. Be sure to play this one by the fireplace if you can :)


Generic? Sure. Fun? You betcha

C’mon you knew this was coming! No 16-bit platformer is complete without the ole mandatory fiery-themed level. I don’t mind tropes so long as they’re done well. And Hudson doesn’t fail to deliver here.


Two fairly difficult force-scrolling levels are spread across this blazing world. OK, so DoReMi Fantasy fulfills all the platforming tropes. When it’s this well done though, who cares? Certainly not me.


Insanely colorful visuals

The toy stages are stunning. The richness of colors immediately jumps out, radiating off your TV screen. It’s a reminder that 16-bit visuals, when done right, has an undeniable charm that hits all the right notes [I see what you did there… DoReMi Fantasy… notes… har har… -Ed.]. In addition to some gnarly visuals, there are plenty of dangerous little gadgets in this toy world from hell. Black Friday ain’t got nothing on this.

There’s also a haunted house-inspired world. But I’ll save some for you to imagine, or better yet, experience it yourself! If you haven’t played this yet and you consider yourself a fan of the 16-bit era platformer, this is a must play. It’s one of the best Super Famicom-only games ever released, and I wouldn’t hesitate to say it could be the best non-Mario platformer on the entire system. Yes, I believe it’s that damn good.


  • Slowdown does occur but it’s not often nor does it affect gameplay really
  • When you lose (whether to a boss or anywhere on a level), you start with 1 hit (red suit). So you’ll find yourself backtracking often to restore your health to 3 hits (green suit) before re-facing the boss. Hard love it is, indeed. Yes, you can backtrack because this game incorporates a map
  • Infinite continues
  • 4 character password system (too bad it wasn’t battery-backed). Passwords put you on the 1st stage of that world, so you have to do all the work again if, say, you quit at a boss battle
  • Hold attack until Milon flashes to unleash his super attack. Some situations require his super attack to advance, so be sure to make a mental note of this
  • Different power-ups are available and hidden inside breakable items. Power-ups include floating shoes, double bubble, bubble gum (very handy should you fall in a bottomless pit), and so forth.
  • The storyline unfolds in pictures and text. While the text is in Japanese, there isn’t a whole lot. The pictures are self-explanatory when it comes to these cutscenes introducing new gameplay elements in each world
  • Milon is a selectable character in Hudson’s Saturn Bomberman (1997)
Bomberman cameo!
Bomberman cameo!

A fan translation (as seen above) was released in August of 2007. Like I said earlier, you can enjoy the game without the translation as there isn’t much text, but it’s sure nice to get the whole package.


What a blockhead…

DoReMi Fantasy is an excellent platformer every serious SNES fan should own. It’s a shame it didn’t receive a domestic release. But seeing as how it came out March 1996 (the SNES was practically dead in the US by then), it’s hard to harp on that much. Personally, I think DoReMi Fantasy ranks right up there as one of Super Nintendo’s finest platformers. It’s terrific from top to bottom, and as a friend of mine once put it perfectly: “It’s about as charming as a video game can be.” I couldn’t agree more. Happy 20th anniversary, DoReMi Fantasy!

Graphics: 9
Sound: 9
Gameplay: 9
Longevity: 7

Overall: 9.0

Gold Award
Gold Award