If asked to name a Super Nintendo game starring an anthropomorphic bobcat, chances are that most retro gamers would cite Bubsy. Well, Bubsy ain’t the only bobcat in town! Bonkers D. Bobcat is his name and preventing crime (in his own bumbling way) is his game. Developed by the almighty Capcom, who had an impressive track record with Disney licenses, surely we were in good hands. Surely, right? Right…
THE DISNEY AFTERNOON
Growing up in the early to mid ’90s was awesome. The Disney Afternoon ruled the airwaves on weekdays from 3 to 5 PM. With classic shows such as Duck Tales, Darkwing Duck, Gargoyles, Aladdin and Goof Troop just to name a small handful, the Disney Afternoon was a huge part of many childhoods. Bonkers was one of the lesser known entries; the Disney Afternoon was clearly on the decline by the time Bonkers made its debut. 61 episodes ran from February 28, 1993 to February 23, 1994.
THE STORY GOES…
Behold: Magic Lamp, Sorcerer’s Hat and Mermaid’s Voice!
Never trust a ghost with a mallet my dad always used to say.
Lightning strikes and thunder rumbles… and of course, the prized treasures go missing! Meanwhile, somewhere in the city…
Pretty standard platforming 101 stuff here. You start out in the mansion and then have a choice between the studio, downtown and ocean liner stages. I recommend that order because the ocean liner level is the hardest. My favorite is the downtown one because there’s a lot to do there, such as dashing through glass barriers. After beating all 4 levels, it’s off to fight the Collector.
After beating the Collector, you face off with the final boss. Pops Clock, like the rest of the game, is easy and it’s over in less than half an hour. Yeah, one can beat Bonkers in less than 30 minutes. This game is crazy short.
GAME OVER MAN?!
Capcom has created some of the most memorable continue screens in gaming history. Who could ever forget Final Fight with the dynamite? Bonkers has a good one, too. Laugh at his jokes and continue. But don’t laugh and suffer the dire consequences. It’s a small touch but a nice one nonetheless.
WHAT THE CRITICS SAID
Bonkers received fairly solid reviews in the press back in the fall of 1994. EGM gave it ratings of 7, 7, 7, 7 and 6. Super Play rated it 74%. However, many who have played it tend to agree that it’s easily Capcom’s weakest effort on the Super Nintendo. Not that it’s a bad game mind you. Just that nothing about it stands out in particular. A perfectly decent and serviceable platformer, then, but nothing more.
I never rented Bonkers back in the day but do recall seeing previews in EGM and GameFan. It wasn’t one of those SNES games I was clamoring to play, but a small part of me was naturally curious about it. Although I wasn’t a fan of the cartoon show, I am a big fan of platformers (even the simple ones). So when I finally played Bonkers more than 15 years after it was released, I was hoping to perhaps find an underrated, overlooked hidden gem. You don’t hear much about Bonkers in the SNES community. It rarely gets brought up in the discussion of good games, bad games or even games you might have missed. It’s just sort of… forgotten, a little bit. So I was somewhat excited to fire this game up for the first time back in 2011. Besides, coming from the almighty Capcom during their heyday, I expected at the very least a very solid platformer. Unfortunately, maybe Capcom’s C-staff was left in charge; Bonkers just feels a bit half-arsed. Graphics are decent enough, though not up to Capcom standards. The same can be said for the sound and gameplay. I expect more coming from Capcom, and I expect more from a Super Nintendo game that came out in late 1994.
But to the game’s credit, it’s not like it disgraces Capcom or the SNES in the least. Details like slipping deeper into a Jell-O dessert the longer you stand on it show a flash of charm and that classic Capcom know how. But then the negatives come into play and overpower the few moments of quasi-brilliance. Such minuses include a dash feature which is a bit cumbersome to use, the game’s difficulty being laughably easy and the game being far too short. Not to mention there are dozens of SNES action games that does what Bonkers tried to do a whole lot better. After going through this game, I see why it rarely gets mentioned. It’s not good enough to be lumped into the overlooked, underrated or hidden gem category, yet it’s nowhere bad enough to be in the same group as say, an Ultraman or Pit Fighter. So its fate, then, is somewhere roughly right in the middle of the pack. Along with arguably about 100 other SNES games that are largely playable and even decent, but are ultimately forgettable.
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…
THE FINAL FIGHT — REALLY THIS 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.
THE FINAL FIGHTERS
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
THE STORY GOES…
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!”
“HOLD UP — WHO THE FUCK ARE YOU?!”
“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!”
“GONNA BE JUST LIKE OLD TIMES… FOR THE FINAL TIME.”
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.
ROUND 1: POLICE STATION
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!
ROUND 2: MAIN STREET
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.
ROUND 3: BUS STOP
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…
ROUND 4: THE SHIP
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.
BONUS ROUND 1: THIS IS SOME BULL
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.
ROUND 4B: CHINA TOWN
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!
ROUND 5: FACTORY
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.
BONUS ROUND 2: RUNNING OF THE BARRELS
ProTip: Avoid barrels. Break computer.
ROUND 6: SKULL CROSS HEADQUARTERS
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!”
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.
UH EXCUSE ME — PRESS START ANY SECOND NOW!
Capcom always had the greatest continue screens with their Final Fight games. Final Fight 3 is no exception.
GLITCHES R US
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.
WHAT THE CRITICS SAID
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, 67and 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.
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.
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 ANDGuy 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!
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.
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.
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…
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.
STROLLING DOWN MEMORY LANE
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…
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.
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…
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.
THE STORY GOES…
ROUND 1: HONG KONG
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.
Censorship strikes again. Won Won looked even nastier in the Japanese version — he wields a deadly meat cleaver there.
ROUND 2: FRANCE
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.
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
JUST BEAT IT, BEAT IT, BEAT IT!
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!
ROUND 3: HOLLAND
Mines are scattered throughout this stage. Holland is my favorite level in the game because of that and the boss, Bratken.
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…
ROUND 4: ENGLAND
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.
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!
This bonus round is damn hard. Props if you can complete it.
ROUND 5: ITALY
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.
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.
ROUND 6: JAPAN
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
SAVE ME MAYBE?!
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…
TRICKS AND SHENANIGANS
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.
WHAT THE CRITICS SAID
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, 84and 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.
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…
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.
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!
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.
THE STORY GOES…
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?
MISSION 1: THE CITY
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.
MISSION 2: THE MUSEUM
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.
MISSION 3: THE NINJA HOUSE
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.
MISSION 4: CIRCUS CAMP
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.
MISSION 5: SEA PORT
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!
MISSION 6: AQUARIUM
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.
MISSION 7: UNDERGROUND BASE
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!
MISSION 8: ENEMY SPACESHIP
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.
MISSION 9: CALLISTO
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.
YOU’RE WELCOME, MARVEL
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?
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.
Arguably the biggest omission however is the lack of robots to ride.
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.
WHERE HAVE I SEEN THAT BEFORE?
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.
Fans of Captain Commando would have to wait until Marvel vs. Capcom (1998) to use the good Captain once again.
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.
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.
WHAT THE CRITICS SAID
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.
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’tthe pinnacle, it’s still a pretty solid example of the genre.
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.
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.
THE STORY GOES…
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.
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…)
A MORE IN-DEPTH ANALYSIS
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.
AND LESS IN-DEPTH…
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
ODDS AND ENDS
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.
WHAT THE CRITICS SAID
For the most part, King of Dragons fared reasonably well with the critics. EGM gave it scores of 8, 8, 7and 7. GameFan gave it ratings of 78, 74and 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.
When Resident Evil first hit the PlayStation in the spring of 1996, it caused quite the uproar. Gamers and critics alike raved about its tense atmosphere, its amazing cinematic feel and its edge-of-your-seat survival horror gameplay. Sure, games like Alone in the Dark came before but it was Resident Evil that really caused the boom of the survival horror genre from where I sit. There were really only two games I was genuinely scared of before I first played Resident Evil back in the summer of ’96. Those two being NES Godzilla with its creepy music (hey, I was five years old) and Doom, the first person shooter that saw imps and demons stalking you through the tight corridors and haunted halls of Hell. Then along came Resident Evil. It reminded me of what it felt like to actually have a sense of dread as I navigated my way through the game. With this being October and all, it’s a great time to look back on this epic horror game and remember what made it such a classic. Capcom is no stranger to the survival horror genre. They released Sweet Home exclusively to the Famicom (Japanese Nintendo) in 1989. Resident Evil, in fact, was heavily inspired by the firm’s previous survival horror effort seven years prior. It’s safe to say time and technology allowed Capcom to take the genre to the next level. Let’s take a stroll down memory lane…
IT ALL STARTED WHEN…
Remember where you were the first time you played Resident Evil? I bet you do. Whether it was a stormy night in Sacramento or a darkening late afternoon in Detroit, everyone remembers the very first time they played and laid eyes on this. It’s just one of those games. Back in the day I was lucky enough to have a tight-knit gaming group. Those guys were a big part of my childhood. Sure, I had my best buddy Nelson, but there’s something special about 18 kids coming together and having legendary sleepovers where we would stay up til 2 in the morning gaming the night away. And it was these damn bastards that introduced me to the EVIL. It was the summer of 1996. By then I had largely slipped out of the gaming scene. At least in the sense that I was no longer reading game magazines and following up on it like I had in the earlier part of the ’90s. So it was on a faithful hot summer evening that my friends, knowing what a horror freak I was, took me upstairs to show me this new “badass” game. I watched the B-Movie-like intro and was sold immediately. I had never seen or heard of this game before. I had no idea what to expect, except I knew this was a moment not only in my gaming fandom but my childhood that would come to stand the test of time.
The classic newspaper headline added perfectly to the B-Movie feel. I remember thinking “Who killed the people?” My friend then passed the controller to me. I looked at him bewildered, as if I had just seen a ghost. They told me they already played it and that it was my turn. And so, it began…
After the cheesy yet tense intro, you find your three characters escaping into the safety of a secluded mansion, or so they think. A bit of corny dialogue ensues as they decide to sweep the mansion for their missing team members.
This was the first time a console video game ever made me jump out of my chair. Needless to say, my friends enjoyed a hearty laugh at my expense. I’m pretty sure it all happened to them the first time too, but of course, they denied such a thing happening. What a bunch of great friends, huh?
Chris Redfield’s old friend and partner, Barry is a former SWAT team member. He maintains and supplies weapons for all S.T.A.R.S. members. With over 16 years of experience, Barry has led many successful projects. Barry is a trusted ally but has had some trouble with his wife and two daughters as of late. He may look or sound depressing at times due to his current issues at home.
Previous member of S.T.A.R.S. Bravo Team and already stationed in Raccoon City, Joseph was recently promoted to serve as vehicle specialist for Alpha Team. Many Bravo Team members are jealous of his promotion but he was anointed by Wesker himself. Joseph is young, enthusiastic and has an inquisitive nature.
After being kicked out of the Air Force, Chris became a drifter until he met Barry Burton. Barry recruited him for the newly formed S.T.A.R.S. squad. Now Chris has been reassigned to a smaller unit at Raccoon City headquarters in order to prove himself.
An intelligent soldier that has rescued many S.T.A.R.S. members from danger in the past, Jill has been reassigned to Raccoon City just like Chris. She is excellent with mechanical devices such as lock-picks. Jill has strong moral convictions and fights for what she believes in.
Brad is a computer expert and is great at gathering information. His fear of dying draws much heat from his fellow soldiers. His lack of enthusiasm for rushing into danger has earned him the nickname “Chickenheart.”
Wesker has risen quickly inside the S.T.A.R.S. organization and currently leads the Alpha Team. Wesker was recruited by a headhunter for his sharp insight and eventually founded the S.T.A.R.S. unit in Raccoon City.
A very important member of the unit, he is the communication expert for Bravo Team. The only link back to headquarters for teams out in the field, Richard pulls double duty as radioman for both units since Alpha Team really has no trained operator except for Jill (who has a knack for technology).
The youngest member of the group, Rebecca was recruited for her knowledge of field medicine and First Aid. She is nervous around other team members due to her age and her lack of experience. Rebecca is eager to please.
Bravo Team’s leader and Wesker’s second in command for the S.T.A.R.S. unit, Enrico feels threatened by the arrival of the Alpha Team. He has an inkling that Chris or Barry may end up replacing him as Wesker’s right hand man. Nonetheless, Enrico is a dedicated S.T.A.R.S. operative and is always proud to lead the unit whenever Wesker gives him the nod.
Forest is a great sniper as well as Bravo’s vehicle specialist. He is a consummate professional and his work earns him great respect from his colleagues. He shares a very natural connection with Chris Redfield.
A quiet but very talented field scouting officer, Kenneth also has spent time as a chemist. His chemical knowledge will come in handy for Raccoon City’s zombie siege…
There’s also a flamethrower and rocket launcher to be found within the hallowed halls…
SEGA SATURN MAGAZINE SPECIAL
Sega Saturn Magazine (the best gaming publication EVER for my money) championed Resident Evil to the moon. They sold the game so wonderfully well that I’m including excerpts of their various Resident Evil previews, showcases and review below. Enjoy!
RESIDENT EVIL CONFIRMED!
Those who haven’t seen Resident Evil will no doubt be wondering what all the fuss is about. It caused a huge stir last year when it was released on the PlayStation and was a massive commercial success. This survival horror video game follows the exploits of Jill Valentine and Chris Redfield who are both members of the S.T.A.R.S. (Special Tactics And Rescue Service) Alpha team. They have been called to investigate a series of grisly murders at a place known as Raccoon City.
EVIL HAS A NEW ADDRESS
Resident Evil is an incredible and terrifying gaming experience. For Capcom’s first foray into the realms of 3D, Resident Evil is an awesome achievement which upon the time of its release received rave reviews and critical acclaim. The game uses a mixture of horror and puzzle elements to dramatic effect, creating an atmosphere unparalleled in any other video game ever. As a result it proved to be immensely successful, surpassing SEGA Rally Championship as the fastest selling CD game of all time.
Capcom of Japan are renowned for being perfectionists with a meticulous attention to every conceivable detail as is evident from their 2D beat ‘em up classics. So despite the high praise heaped upon Capcom, they weren’t entirely satisfied with the finished PlayStation version of Resident Evil. Several ideas that the programmers had in mind for the game failed to come to fruition, so upon completion of the original game the programmers set to work on an enhanced version. The new version would allow the programmers the opportunity to iron out the gameplay irritations of the original and incorporate those various elements that were absent. The new Resident Evil Dash as it became known was intended for release on the PlayStation some time ago, but failed to arise as it was canned not long into its development cycle. Luckily for Saturn owners, this is the version they’re getting.
THE PLOT THICKENS
Like every B-movie horror flick, Resident Evil Dash has a terrifying plot which unfolds and develops as you play. The horror story centers around two main characters Jill Valentine and Chris Redfield, two members of the S.T.A.R.S. (Special Tactics And Rescue Service) Alpha team. They are called to a remote town, Raccoon City, to investigate the grisly murders and the disappearance of the S.T.A.R.S. Bravo Team, with whom all communication has been lost. After a brief encounter in the woods with a pack of savage canines, Alpha Team seek refuge in a secluded mansion which, unknown to them, is full of frights.
Further investigation leads to the recovery of reconnaissance notes which reveal sketchy details of a company known as Umbrella. They have been conducting genetic mutation research commissioned by the government. The aim of this research is shrouded in secrecy, with a cover-up under way to prevent details of horrific events leaking out. Alpha Team’s mission is to explore the mansion and eliminate everything within, locate the whereabouts of Bravo Team and find out exactly what the hell is going on…
THE EVIL WITHIN
Put simply, RED (Resident Evil Dash) is a disturbing and harrowing experience players are proud to say they have endured and survived. Guide Chris or Jill around the dingy, claustrophobic and blood-splattered rooms of the mansion uncovering clues to the plot which remains shrouded in secrecy until the very end. All the while players are stalked by a bizarre series of genetic mutations, evidence if ever it were needed of a scientific experiment gone horribly wrong. From the flesh-eating zombies to the giant tarantulas, ravenous Dobermans and lizard creatures, danger is lurking around every corner and behind every door.
It quickly becomes clear that our brave investigators are ill-equipped to deal with the situation at hand, so survival becomes the primary goal. This makes locating the secret ammo stashes even more essential, whilst getting acquainted with the capabilities of different weapons.
But that’s all by the by, the main interest of RED is clearly the gratuitous violence. To my mind there’s no other video game as blatantly gruesome, gory and stomach-churning as RED. Frantically reaching for a shotgun and blowing the head clean off a zombie as a fountain of blood erupts from between its shoulders is one of the most satisfying moments in video game history.
However, there’s so much more to RED than the infamous blood-spilling sequences. There’s a strong puzzle element to the game requiring much lateral thinking and forward planning. Some of the puzzles are self-explanatory switches or locating certain items. But as players gain access to more areas of the grounds and the plot steadily unfolds, the puzzles become more complex requiring a much greater deal of head-scratching. But that’s not to say that RED is a rock hard mammoth gaming chore reminiscent of Core’s Tomb Raider. Capcom appears to have set the difficulty level just right, allowing novices to progress through the game with competence as Jill, whereas more seasoned players are able to take their gaming skills to the limits as Chris (who carries less items than Jill).
Graphically, RED is in a class of its own with the pre-rendered backgrounds looking absolutely stunning and exhibiting more detail than even the original PlayStation version. From the blood-stained corridors to the dark laboratories, the level of detail and depth to each of the scenarios is incredible. The real stars of the show however are the hideous monsters which are superbly animated and chillingly realistic.
But what makes RED so undoubtedly great is the tense atmosphere upon which it thrives, keeping players engrossed in a masochistic kind of way. The feeling of your imminent demise is intense throughout the game, heightened by the chilling Hitchcock-style tunes, not to mention the accompanying moans and groans from the undead. Add to this the dramatic fixed camera positions (reminiscent of Alone in the Dark) which lends the game a cinematic feel. Factor all these aspects and the scene is set for one of the most horrific games of all time.
HEAR NO EVIL SPEAK NO EVIL
Capcom’s Saturn development is arguably the best of any third party developer. Over the last couple years Capcom have supplied Saturn owners with a wealth of arcade beat ‘em ups, such as the awesome Street Fighter Alpha 2 and X-Men: Children of the Atom, a trend which appears set to continue. Why, just flick through the glossy pages of this esteemed magazine and you’ll discover the very latest earth-shattering pictures of Saturn Marvel Super Heroes and Street Fighter Collection. However, Capcom’s latest and possibly greatest Saturn development is not another 2D arcade beat ‘em up but rather the multi-genre gore-fest of Resident Evil.
BE AFRAID… BE VERY AFRAID
Playing Resident Evil is like nothing gamers will have experienced before. Though comparisons will undoubtedly be drawn with Core Design’s Tomb Raider, essentially the two games play very differently. For the most part, the gameplay of Resident Evil is of the killed or be killed variety with players being stalked throughout the mansion and its grounds by hordes of bizarre genetic mutations. The range of monsters is astonishing, from the giant spiders to the huge Tyrant boss, all thirsting for the taste of your blood. Survival soon becomes the main priority as operatives struggle to escape the confines of the mansion. To make matters worse, ammo is scarce, so it’s not simply a case of running around in a mad blasting frenzy. Some monsters are best avoided altogether as they’re either too tough or too difficult to hit. Conserving ammo is the key to success as players soon learn how to side step the hordes of genetic mutations in order to amass enough ammo to destroy the final boss.
All the while players struggle to overcome a wealth of diverse puzzles featured throughout. Most require you to locate a certain object before using it to unlock a door mechanism, or finding a hidden switch somewhere. But later on the puzzles become more complex, with chemical formulas being mixed and even a piano to play! On the whole, the difficulty level of the puzzles appear to be pitched just right, presenting a deep challenge to even experienced gamers.
However, what really sets Resident Evil apart from Tomb Raider is the tense atmosphere. Terror lurks around every corner with some genuine shocks in store for first time players. Savage dogs leaping through windows, seemingly dead zombies chomping at your ankles and giant snakes bursting through walls are just a taste of the shocks in store. Add to this the macabre music, eerie silences and accompanying moans from the horde of the undead, and Resident Evil works better than a strong laxative.
The problem that has beset so many other adventure games in the past is that their linear structure means that once the game has been completed there’s little to entice players back. Therefore it’s to Capcom’s credit that such pitfalls have been avoided with Resident Evil. The gameplay is surprisingly nonlinear, with players being required to make decisions at several key points during the game. Depending on which choices have been made greatly affects the unfolding plot and eventually the game’s ending. However, the main source of variety in Resident Evil stems from which of the two S.T.A.R.S.’ operatives that players select at the beginning. Choosing either Chris or Jill affects which weapons players are able to discover, the amount of monsters and ultimately the outcome of the plot (just to name a few key differences).
Though Chris handles himself considerably well when separated from his fellow S.T.A.R.S. crew members, players choosing to take on his mantle are essentially opting to travel the most difficult route through the game. That said, players who wish to explore every nook and cranny of the mansion and solve every last puzzle in order to appreciate the full splendor of Resident Evil are best off choosing Chris. To begin with our hero is ill-prepared for the horrors which await him, being devoid of all firearms and armed only with his trusty combat knife. Obviously this causes a few problems when encountering flesh-eating zombies hell-bent on sinking their teeth into your flesh and draining it of blood. So Chris’ first priority is to seek out a more powerful weapon. Once the Beretta has been located, Chris’ superior shooting skills become evident, as he is able to fire with greater accuracy than Jill, requiring less bullets to take down the mutated monsters. It’s a good thing too, as the plentiful ammo supply enjoyed by Jill is not available to Chris, with extra ammo being scarce throughout his campaign. By way of compensation, Chris’ bulky frame is better able to take more damage than Jill before death comes knocking.
To make things more difficult, Chris left his backpack at the drop zone and his action slacks are only able to carry up to six items at a time. This means playing as Chris requires a great deal of forward planning and effective resource management. Much of the time players find themselves legging it back and forth between storage rooms and depositing unwanted objects in favor of more useful items.
Despite his shortcomings, Chris Redfield is a skilled member of the S.T.A.R.S. Alpha Team whose superior shooting skills, strength and resilience make him a worthy (if challenging) character to play as.
Jill Valentine is a relatively new member of the S.T.A.R.S. Alpha Team whose mission is considerably simpler and shorter than that of her colleague for a number of reasons. Firstly, Jill begins her adventure armed with a Beretta pistol, having a clear advantage over Chris who spends much of the early part of the game foraging for weapons and ammo. In addition, Jill is given a lock-pick early on by fellow S.T.A.R.S. teammate Barry Burton, enabling Jill to enter certain rooms and storage areas not accessible to Chris without the corresponding key. Jill is also able to carry up to eight items in her navy blue action slacks. Her larger inventory means that managing resources is a tad simpler than playing as Chris. Jill’s game is also considerably easier in that fewer monsters patrol the corridors of the mansion, so players needn’t worry too much about being overrun by hordes of the undead. Besides, even if Jill were to find herself in a spot of bother, secret admirer Barry Burton is on hand to make sure she comes to no harm.
However, in some respects Jill is worse off than Chris. Being of a slight build, her body is less resilient to enemy attack, taking less chomps from a marauding zombie to kill her. In addition, Jill’s aim isn’t up to the same standard as that of her teammate, requiring her to take more time when aiming and with less accuracy than sharpshooter Chris. Despite her shortcomings, Jill’s superior intelligence and lock-picking abilities make her mission a more straight-forward affair and rather less challenging.
THE EVIL HAS LANDED
As we exclusively revealed in last month’s SEGA SATURN MAGAZINE, the long-awaited Saturn version of Resident Evil will be quite different to its PlayStation brethren.
Possibly the most exciting addition to the Saturn rendition is the planned inclusion of an Arena Battle/Survival Mode. This is a special mini-game which becomes available once the regular game has been completed. Controlling either Chris or Jill, players progress through 15 stages fending off a continuous onslaught of 11 different types of genetically mutated monsters which advance with relentless speed. Only one weapon of choice is available to begin with, though more are collected as players use all their skills to battle through the stages. Players are then ranked upon completion or demise according to items used, the time taken and lives remaining.
At long last Capcom have also confirmed Saturn Resident Evil will DEFINITELYfeature new monsters… and we’ve seen ‘em! The new (as yet unnamed) monster in the 80% version we have is a redesigned version of a Hunter and lurks in the sewers beneath the mansion. It acts similarly but looks quite different. In addition, survivors of the PlayStation version may recall the huge Tyrant boss at the end of the game. A genetically engineered super-creature, the Tyrant was very agile and extremely difficult to kill. Well, depending on your point of view and game playing skills, the good or bad news is that for the Saturn version of Resident Evil there are now two Tyrants to destroy!
And now, let’s meet the monsters…
A lethal experimental virus was accidentally released among the Laboratory technicians. After the initial itchy sores had subsided, the laboratory technicians began to lose their minds and their bodies slowly began decaying. Their stinking rotting corpses now stagger around the mansion, arms outstretched in the hopes of snaring their prey and feasting on its blood. Their lack of agility and intelligence makes them easy to run around. Also be weary of downed zombies as they tend to play dead, pardon the pun, awakening only to chomp at your ankles.
Genetically engineered to be devastating fighting machines, the Hunters are extremely difficult to avoid and even more difficult to kill. When attacking their enemy, the Hunters leap about into the air, making targeting at times a virtual impossibility. Their sharp claws prove deadly and are often used for severing heads from shoulders.
After being infected with the same lethal strain of virus which drove the lab technicians insane, the one-time guard dogs of the mansion are similarly affected. The hungry Dobermans retain their in-bred instinct to protect the mansion and its grounds from intruders, and that means you!
A lethal and deadly opponent, the Chimeras not only patrol the floors of the tight corridors but also the ceilings, occasionally swinging down to attack their prey with their vicious claws. Naturally this makes targeting the genetically mutated monsters very difficult indeed, which invariably leads to heavy ammo loss. So you’re best advised to avoid them with some nifty foot work.
The giant snake is encountered twice throughout the game and is the largest genetic mutation roaming the mansion. Those bitten by the snake will find their bloodstream infected with a deadly poison unless treated immediately with an anti-poison vaccine.
Much of the time they remain passive but make a mistake and the aggravated flock will swoop down with great haste to peck their prey to death. Just ask poor Forest…
The grand finale to Capcom’s awesome horror-fest sees the unleashing of not one but two Tyrants. A genetically engineered killing machine, the Tyrant was created to be the ultimate life force. It’s extremely fast, attacking opponents with a devastating series of claw swipes before finishing things off with an uppercut which skewers the victim. Players are confronted by a Tyrant on a number of occasions and are best advised to run away from this super creature, stopping occasionally to launch an attack. Good luck!
SEGA SATURN MAGAZINE’S REVIEW
Taking a break from the 2D beat ‘em ups for which they have become synonymous, Capcom’s latest Saturn development is the critically acclaimed RESIDENT EVIL. Originally titled Biohazard for its earlier Japanese release, the game offers a scenario whereby players are called to investigate a series of grisly murders around a secluded mansion at a place known as Raccoon City. As one of its two members of the elite S.T.A.R.S. Alpha Team, it becomes evident that the mansion has played host to a series of bizarre scientific experiments which early reconnaissance notes suggest have gone terribly wrong. Alpha Team’s mission is to explore the mansion and eliminate everything within, find the missing Bravo Team and find out what the hell is going on.
The game is similar to last year’s massive hit Tomb Raider and the rather dated Alone in the Dark games, but is arguably superior to both. Basically, players find themselves trapped inside a vast mansion crawling with all manner of strange genetic mutations with an unquenchable thirst for blood. Protocol is quickly discarded as players struggle to survive and escape the confines of the mansion. However, blocking the route to safety through the dark and dingy blood-splattered corridors are locked doors, the keys to which are usually hidden at the opposite end of the mansion. Expect plenty of diverse puzzles, too. These usually involve locating certain objects and exchanging them with others, or triggering a hidden switch to reveal a secret passageway. Some of these puzzles are huge, requiring a great deal of lateral thinking and forward planning, considering you’re only able to carry a certain number of items at any given time.
Of course, this could have the makings of a pretty boring game were it not for the vast amount of action in Resident Evil, something which clearly distinguishes the game from the likes of Tomb Raider. For the most part, the gameplay is of the killed or be killed variety as players are stalked throughout the mansion and its grounds by a continuous onslaught of genetically mutated monsters. So locating the more powerful weapons and replenishing the limited supply of ammunition quickly becomes a priority for operatives wishing to stay alive. This gives way to some of the most gruesome and shocking scenes ever witnessed in a video game, with gallons of bloodshed featured throughout.
Clearly these elements contribute to a fantastic game, but it’s the intense feeling of terror heightened by the chilling music and eerie silences which sets Resident Evil apart from any other adventure game you may care to mention. The shit-scary feeling of your imminent demise as players are faced with a room full of zombies and rapidly deteriorating health is quite unlike anything players will have experienced before in a video game, being more akin to a Wes Craven horror flick. Indeed the game has a very cinematic quality to it, with the ensuing action being viewed from the dramatic fixed camera positions pioneered by Infogrames’ Alone in the Dark series. Some camera angles can lead to some rather interesting visuals…
In fact, aside from the terrible voice-overs and over-emphasized hand gesticulations which provide the game with some unintentional light relief, there’s very little to moan about.
BTW, EGM scored it 6.5, 8.0, 8.5 and 9.0.
SOME OF MY FAVORITE MOMENTS
You get this cool cutscene if you pick Jill. My jaw dropped the first time I saw this. I couldn’t believe the amount of gore or how raw it felt. I remember thinking to myself on that summer night of 1996 that video games have come such a long way from when I first played the 8-bit Nintendo some 10 years prior!
I’ll never forget that sweltering summer night back in 1996 when I first faced the horrors within the hallowed halls of Resident Evil. It was like no other console gaming experience I ever had. Players were literally dumped into a horror movie from hell, submerged in a twisted world of monsters and mayhem. The game has an atmosphere like no other. There was always this impending sense of doom in the pit of your stomach as you dashed through the dark corridors of the mutant-infested mansion, searching desperately for an ink ribbon, healing herb or new clue. Ammo was limited so you had to rely on your brains and not so much your brawn. It was a harrowing experience the likes of which I had personally never seen before, and I’ll always fondly remember it for that.
Those entering the world of the original Resident Evil, be it on PlayStation or Saturn, for the first time today may not quite appreciate it the way we did over 20 years ago back in 1996. I liken it to playing 1993’s DOOM for the first time today. You kind of had to be there when it first came out to get the full impact. Although the controls were a bit clunky; there was no 180° degree turn back then and the graphics had its limits (though I’ll admit to enjoying the jagged less-than-perfect 3D polygons of the 32-bit generation), there’s no denying Resident Evil was a shit-scary experience. It left an indelible mark on an entire generation of gamers, as evident by the swarming legion of fans still to this day. This led to numerous sequels and had other companies scrambling to create their own survival horror game as seen with Konami and Silent Hill. Capcom, like they did five years earlier in 1991 with Street Fighter II, once again struck gold!
Earlier this month I fired up Resident Evil for the 50th time. It’s a true classic and a title I love revisiting every October. The eerie music and creepy silences add tremendous atmosphere to the game. Not to mention around every corner and behind every door there lurks a bloodthirsty zombie or two just waiting to feast on your flesh. The plot is simple and effective, it features a memorable cast of characters and monsters, and it brought home an authentic B-Movie feel in raw 3D. Good times indeed. Another notch on Capcom’s belt, Resident Evil is a classic adventure from the 32-bit era.
The original Breath of Fire, released in the US 23 years ago this month (August 1994), was fairly well received. Despite the original Japanese release coming in April of 1993, Breath of Fire managed to still stand toe to toe with the big SNES blockbusters released that summer of 1994. The fact that RPGs were a bit sparse in North America definitely helped, as any decent RPG was lauded in that time when the pickings were rather slim. Capcom, no stranger to sequels, followed up on the success with Breath of Fire II. Originally released in Japan December 1994, SNES owners in the west had to wait an entire year for the American translation. Sadly, by December 1995, the SNES was nearing the end of its lifespan and many folks had moved on to the 32-bit war machines. As a result, Breath of Fire II sort of got lost unless you were one of those diehard SNES players who stuck by the system until the very bitter end. Thankfully, as is so often the case, over the years people have had the luxury to go back and right past wrongs. While no Final Fantasy III or Chrono Trigger, Breath of Fire II is definitely worth trekking through.
But wait! Not only did Capcom make those of us in the US wait an entire year, but the NA version of Breath of Fire II is notorious for having one of the worst translations of all time. So much so that it prompted “Ryusui” to release a “retranslated” version on April 30, 2009. It’s how I played through Breath of Fire II and how I recommend you do so as well.
MEET THE CAST
THE STORY GOES…
Well… at least the girl didn’t get kidnapped for a change…
Thanks for the painful reminder. But she’s got a point. The world is going to need you, after all…
Dragon? Note to self: avoid the back mountains. Note to self part two: knock before you open the bathroom door next time…
Being an adventurous lad though, you can’t help but explore them back mountains. Not only do you find your wandering little sister and the mammoth dragon, but you’re also greeted by a nasty little critter for your troubles.
Luckily, the Beak is mere cannon fodder. Good thing you were there to save your little sister, Yua.
Dangerous? Not for the likes of me, you see! Your father, Ganer, grants you the respect you crave. He is your idol, after all.
“Sometimes I wish you simply had imaginary friends instead, Yua.”
Look… it’s one of many typos you’ll encounter if the play the North American version. Like I said, the retranslation is the way to go!
Breath of Fire II resumes the original’s classic day-night cycle.
Converse with all the locals. One of the cool things about this game is the inclusion of the “Dragon Tears.” The different colors represent the various emotions that the NPC is currently feeling. Pretty neat stuff.
It’s a small touch, but it adds that extra little bit to the game
Loyalty is his game, Bow is his name. He’s the first ally you’ll meet up with and he’s great at hunting. A most welcomed asset to the team. He’s a bit of a kleptomaniac, though.
Downpour soon comes raining down on our plucky heroes. It’s not quite the same “ooooh, ahhhh” effect as seeing the rain lashing down from The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, but it gets the job done.
Quick! Take cover in the cave there before you die of pneumonia. Sometimes it pays to steal, as you can see here. And who says video games aren’t educational?
Spooky cave, init? Um, what was that?!
Guessing purple doesn’t stand for warm fuzzy feelings… I mean, I’m just going out on a limb there.
Sadly, our hero is no match for this monstrosity at this early point in the game. We then find out his father (Ganer) and sister (Yua) have gone missing. He dreams a terrible nightmare of a towering monster ripping him limb from limb. In his dreams, a demon also screeches to him, “YOU ARE THE ONE.” What could all this mean? Was this all just a bad dream? Somehow, you know it isn’t…
Seasoned into a hardened warrior over the past 10 years, you’re ready to find out some answers…
Forget eye of the tiger — it’s the eye of the dragon!
Every hero has to start somewhere. And sometimes, heroes are born from very humble beginnings.
Interact with the environment and villagers. Tips may be provided and you can also unearth helpful items.
Sometimes you’ll read silly dialogue but it’s all part of the fun.
Occasionally you’ll see random things pop up on the world map. This includes a traveling circus.
Fishing is also in play as well as a spot of hunting. For the latter, be sure to position Bow in the front.
Breath of Fire II resumes the classic ¾ perspective of the original game.
Enemies can prove to be tough early on. Thank goodness then for this healing fountain. This is a good place to level up
Encountering a new enemy for the first time leads to a “?” for their health. It adds slightly to the drama and tension and I found it to be a nice little touch. Head up this mountain to face Palo, Peach and Puti.
They’re tough, the bastards. Peach and Puti (on the sides) have 40 HP while the middle one, Palo, has 80 HP. I recommend targeting and eliminating Peach and Puti first before tackling Palo.
Battle a family of cockroaches later on. It’s a nice nod to the original.
Speaking of honoring the original Breath of Fire, you can morph into a dragon later on.
WHAT THE CRITICS SAID
Breath of Fire II received pretty solid scores. EGM gave it ratings of 7, 7.5, 7.5and 8. Super Play rated it 81%. However, the US translation was not so well received. It features some of the worst translated text in all of 16-bit history, making the retranslation almost a necessity. For example, you know things are bad when you talk to the innkeeper and he refers to his inn as a motel, despite having an INN sign hanging nearby. Want to go fishing? Then equip your lod. Ouch. Also, get ready for awkward looking abbreviations. Thankfully, the retranslation fixes these silly errors and provides for a much more authentic experience.
Breath of Fire II is a very strong entry in the stacked SNES RPG library. While it may not quite stack up against the likes of a Chrono Trigger or Final Fantasy III, it does its job more than reasonably well. The graphics are very colorful and the details on the various sprites are fairly intricate. Some of the music is extremely catchy, though a few are somewhat underwhelming. That final boss theme though! There’s a ton of things to do in this adventure — it took me 50 hours to beat and I didn’t even scratch the surface of the Shaman system. However, not all of those 50 hours is pure bliss. There’s a shit load of random battles (thank God for the auto battle option) that can drag the game down a bit, not to mention artificially inflate its playing time. There’s also some annoying backtracking and the difficulty veers on the cheap side on occasion. It’s definitely not perfect, but it’s more than playable.
I enjoyed playing through both Breath of Fire games. They may not be world beaters, but they are very enjoyable if you’re a fan of that JRPG style. The day-night system is a unique feature for its time, even if it comes with its flaws. I think both games are more than good enough to warrant at least one playthrough. Breath of Fire II is the better game, but the original has its merits as well. Just remember to play the retranslated version of Breath of Fire II. Trust me on that one. Or should I say, lust me on that one. Whoa, wait a minute. Something got lost in translation there…
Graphics: 8.5 Sound: 8 Gameplay: 8.5 Longevity: 8
WARNING!!! SPOILERS BELOW!
Breath of Fire II features multiple endings. Here’s the less than good one…
Back in the mid ’90s, Capcom was most well known for their Street Fighter and Mega Man series. Capcom tried their hand at the RPG genre when they released Breath of Fire in Japan on April 3, 1993. It took 16 months for the game to hit North American soil. SquareSoft was an established firm with a penchant for translating JRPGs for American audiences, and they took on the unenviable task of converting the game over. There wasn’t an abundance of RPGs on the SNES back then. Thus, Breath of Fire instantly found a diehard fanbase. It wasn’t great by any stretch but it was plenty solid enough. And for the time, solid did just fine.
WINDS OF CHANGE
I couldn’t stand RPGs growing up. To be precise, it was more like I couldn’t care less. My brother, however, was obsessed with them. He played them all the time it seemed. I didn’t care for RPGs back in the day because I couldn’t see how a slower-paced, turn-based game could be any fun to play. I was a young boy who wanted instant gratification. It wasn’t until much later — around 2003 — that my view on the genre began to shift. Suddenly, the thought of conversing with the locals to dig up clues or just hear some wacky nonsense became massively appealing to me. The turn-based combat went from yawn-inducing to an obsession to level up and earn more gold so I could upgrade my weapons and armor. Today, I consider RPGs among one of my most favorite genres. Go figure. So I don’t really have any big back stories to share about Breath of Fire growing up. I remember, however, being impressed by the magazine previews. Although I didn’t like RPGs then, the game looked quite colorful and even, a bit intriguing. But I figured it to be another in a long list of games I would never play. Little did I know, over a decade later, I would find my way back home to the Super Nintendo for a second chance at 16-bit gaming redemption.
THE STORY GOES…
MEET THE HEROES
MEET THE BAD GUYS
THE QUEST BEGINS
Select the sword option and it opens up even more options.
Breath of Fire uses a unique system where day passes into early evening before giving way to nightfall. It’s pretty cool, especially the first time you see it. Not just cosmetic, either! There are things you can only do in the dark… giving the game an air of clandestine intrigue…
The front guard of Nanai is vigilant during the day but falls prey to exhaustion once the sun goes down. Only at night time can you sneak by him. If a soldier spots you at any point, it’s back to the beginning. It was a clever little way to add in some stealth action to the typical RPG formula. If nothing else, you have to give Capcom some credit for that. I love the small details seen here. Everything from the guard’s snoring bubble to the very atmospheric yellow lights that lends Nanai a brilliant glow. Be sure to explore a bit and not just rush for the exit as there are plenty of good items to be found in chests and large cabinets. Money is tight early on so collect all the free items that you can.
COOL BUT USELESS EASTER EGG
SOME INVALUABLE TIPS
BREATH OF CONFUSION
An old man tells you about the I. Claw near the end of the game. You need to find it or you cannot advance. The problem? There is no clue whatsoever as to where this elusive I. Claw could be hiding. Combine that with a massive world and well, you get the idea. The game forces you to do a ridiculous back-and-forth letter exchange between a weapons’ collector and an old lady stranded on some obscure tiny island in the middle of friggin’ nowhere. Discovering this without any help was pure dumb luck. Breath of Fire doesn’t even give you a damn clue like, “Hey, I heard there’s a lady living somewhere on the east region who loves weapons…” It was simply, “You need an I. Claw” which essentially translated to “Good luck finding it on the large world map, mwahahaha!” Brutal. While some RPGs (i.e. Super Mario RPG) held your hand too much, Breath of Fire was a little TOO obscure at times. I like a happy middle ground — not too obvious but not too obscure, either. A game that did an excellent job of balancing the two was EarthBound. You always got a sense of what to do next but you were never 100% sure. But the key was the game always gave you a sense. Those are the best RPG experiences. Sadly, it’s not quite the case here.
WHAT THE CRITICS SAID
Breath of Fire was met with rather strong reviews. Despite the near year-and-half delay for the North American version, it still managed to stand toe-to-toe admirably with the big SNES summer blockbusters of 1994. EGM gave it scores of 7, 8, 8, 8 and 9. They praised it for its excellent visuals and sound. GameFan rated it 90, 90and 94%. GameFan lavished heaps of praise on it for its artwork and animation, its length and its stunning music. Super Play was less enthusiastic, however, giving the game a respectable but not remarkable rating of 80%. They called it lightweight. Leave it to those Super Play chaps to calm the rest of us down. They didn’t hand out 9s and 90s willy-nilly like EGM and GameFan did!
Breath of Fire is a solid RPG. It did many things right. These include brilliantly animated sprites, amazing sound and music, a unique day-night system that affected gameplay, and skills unique only to certain characters which made all eight protagonists serve a key role. But with the good comes the bad. The game starts out on a high note — it introduces you to each new ally in a meaningful way, allowing you to hunt and fish for health items, shrink down to save a family of mice from deadly cockroaches and there’s even a cool little stealth action. Sadly, at some point it felt like the developers lost a bit of their ambition and vision. The game begins to drag a bit in its second half. And damn, is the game long. It took me 40 hours to beat and I felt it lost a little steam in the latter half of the journey. The ridiculously high random battles didn’t help it any, either. There’s no run button so our heroes move like snails in mud. The lack of character development in the latter half was also disappointing. Sometimes clues were far too obscure and left you wandering around wondering what the hell to do next. The day and night system, while promising early on, later proves to be a bit of a pain in the ass. In order to advance in certain areas of the game, you had to talk to a specific person in town who only appeared at a certain portion of the day (or night). This actually ended up hampering the experience for me as it made it tedious to play at times. Sure, the day and night engine starts out as a fun quirky novelty, but it quickly morphs into an annoying hassle. This is definitely not the kind of RPG that holds you by the hand. Some will like that open-endedness, but I prefer a balance. You won’t find much of one here.
Nevertheless, for all of the blemishes I brought up, I really did enjoy my time playing through Breath of Fire. It’s got a certain charm to it with its bright and colorful visuals that melts my 16-bit heart. The music is haunting. The melodies fit each region of the game to a tee whether it’s soothing, ominous or action-packed. I enjoyed using the eight characters’ unique skills, such as Ox smashing through barriers and Karn opening locked doors. But at 35-40 hours, it’s just too damn long for not being an epic RPG. It’s also a bit too obscure with its clues. Be sure to have a guide ready. Also, I didn’t like how too many of the NPCs repeated the same phrases. I know they were trying to save memory, or maybe they were just lazy, but these moments often took me out of the moment. When too many NPCs repeat the same thing I just read from someone not two feet away, it really hurts the game’s ability to truly immerse you. Having said that, I would recommend Breath of Fire to any RPG fan with a Super Nintendo. It’s far from a classic, but it’s an enjoyable adventure with a few unique twists along the way that makes it worth going through at least once.
It’s rare in video gaming that an enemy will receive his or her own spin-off series. Yet that’s exactly what happened to Firebrand from Ghosts ‘n Goblins. You may remember him as that red little flying devil that terrorized you back in the ’80s on your 8-bit NES. Capcom saw dollar signs because they released Gargoyle’s Quest on the Game Boy in 1990. It was followed up with a sequel, Gargoyle’s Quest II, on the NES in 1992. Finally, in late 1994, Capcom released the final game in the trilogy, Demon’s Crest. It flew a bit under the radar during that holiday season of ’94 despite receiving more than its fair share of press. It was considered an underrated SNES action title for many years until it made so many underrated lists that it’s probably no longer that today (thank goodness too since it’s finally received its due props). Demon’s Crest is, in my humble opinion, Capcom’s finest hour on the SNES not named Street Fighter. It’s a tough call between this and Mega Man X, but I give the slight edge to Firebrand’s trilogy finale. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
IN THE BEGINNING…
These games were well received and thought of rather fondly. Not only did Capcom take an antagonist and give him his own spin-off series but it’s also the only one (that I know of) to ever start out on the Game Boy, followed by a sequel on the NES and finally the SNES. I can’t think of another trilogy that can claim that. Speaking of the SNES, we come to the star of the show…
I got back into all things SNES on January 17, 2006. Demon’s Crest marked my 100th SNES game purchase and I did that on February 8, 2006. I know, crazy, huh? It took me just three weeks to accumulate 100 SNES games. But this was back when most of them were going for $5-$10. I had a want list in the hundreds and it was open season.
NOTHING BUT COLD HARD FACTS
Yup, we all owe it to Sir Arthur. Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts is awesome but Demon’s Crest is even better. Just my opinion, of course.
THE STORY GOES…
Apparently some cursed prisoner was here before you and left a final note scrawled on the wall. You can even see the tally marks he scribbled against the wall. Looks like whatever terrible beast captured him got hungry after just four days… and guess who’s next…
Your initial firepower consists of a single fireball shot. While somewhat slow and weak, it serves its purpose well for this opening level.
WHERE TO NEXT?
After the introductory stage you’re taken to a lovely giant overhead map screen where you swoop to your next location. Rather than holding your hand and forcing you to progress in a certain order, Demon’s Crest is nonlinear and allows you some creative freedom. I love games that do this. It really plays a bit like Super Metroid-lite. Be sure to search everywhere! Never know what you may find. Not all areas are filled with enemies but rather helpful denizens and other peculiar oddities…
Pressing start takes you here. Select wisely. All of these are to be found throughout the game. Some are well-hidden while others are simply well-guarded!
This is the wise man known as Malwous. He runs the Talisman Shop in town. No, you can’t coax the geezer to sell them to you. His sole purpose is to disclose their special powers… or is it… ?
Soul energy recovers lost health. After finding the Skull Talisman and equipping it, it increases the percentage that slain enemies will drop soul energy. Only one Talisman can be equipped at a time so you’ll want to switch accordingly as each unique situation deems it so. Therein lies the strategy, options and customization of Demon’s Crest that put it (severed) heads and shoulders above the rest.
But just in case the geezer planted the soul energy in those jars and is trying to hoodwink me — a reminder that no one messes with Firebrand!
[There goes all the vital info. Smart… -Ed.]
And this git here runs the Spell shop. For the price of some bills with dead demons on them, Morack will sell you whatever your heart desires most… or at least what Capcom has prearranged, anyhow. You’ll also need to find the spell vellum in order to carry spells. Up to five can be found. Make sure you explore every last hooker and nanny [That’s “nook” and “cranny” ya fool! -Ed.]
At the spooky Black Lotus shop you can stock up on various potions. For a fee, of course. Sometimes a finger, sometimes a toe, or even a whole leg. Hey, he’s gotta keep his hungry hounds well fed…
Hey, it’s an eye for an eye…
Trio the Pago runs various set-ups around town that specializes in “game for demons.” For a small fee, skulls will appear against the wall and it’s your job to smash as many as you can before the torches flicker off. Gold is your prize. There’s beginning, intermediate and expert to challenge players of all skill levels.
The high ones are the toughest. You can gain some invaluable practice by smashing the windows in town. You may also find some gold in the process too. Double whammy!
For each torch that remains lit you’ll earn five gold pieces for. Er, they look silvery but you get the picture, no pun intended [Har har -Ed.]
This denizen is something of a gossiping demon hobo. He even asks you a yes/no question. It’s little touches like this that help to give Demon’s Crest its own pulse and universe that very few 16-bit games managed to achieve.
This barrier can’t be flown over with your standard form, nor shot down. Hmmm, what could be behind that door? Valuable treasures locked up, or perhaps a vile beast fenced off from the rest of society? This creates a level of intrigue and anticipation. Jot it down as a place to revisit later…
Ah, a potion bottle, hurrah! Only four more lie in waiting. Firebrand can fly and hover in this form as much as you want, instantly separating Demon’s Crest from your typical SNES action platformer. Perks of controlling a winged demon, eh?
In addition to hovering, clinging is another useful skill that the first form allows. Just because it’s Firebrand’s first form doesn’t necessarily make it the least significant. You can also headbutt objects in the background to possibly reveal goodies, so each form has its specific use throughout the game. You’ll find yourself switching back and forth rather than discarding a form. Forms don’t get “better” — they just serve different purposes. Pretty smart of Capcom as it increases the versatility of gameplay.
Firebrand is such a kind, gregarious lad.
I love when a game has small quirky amusing details like such. You can actually smash in the skulls of these lifeless skeletons draping from bedroom windows. It reminds me of killing the chained innocent prisoners from Blackthorne. Always good for a laugh.
The game expands as you gain more powers. The Tornado allows you to create temporary platforms, acting much like the Magnet Beam from the original Mega Man game on the NES.
Whatever’s hiding behind this wall you won’t be able to access until much later in the game after you’ve acquired a certain weapon. I’m a sucker for these type of games, yes I am.
I can’t stress enough the importance of exploring. The game can be beaten without finishing all the areas, but you won’t get the best ending nor the complete satisfaction knowing you’ve conquered this fantastic game.
Let’s take a look at some of the stages.
Around the middle of 1994 was when Nintendo revamped their violence policy. It started with Mortal Kombat II being uncensored, and allowed for games like Demon’s Crest to be released unaltered. Its dark and gruesome imagery probably would have been severely toned down prior to mid ’94.
Strangeness abounds in this deranged woodland area. Keep your eyes peeled as there are secrets waiting to be found!
Smokey Bear’s words (“Only YOU can prevent forest fires”) goes up in flames as the whole place goes ablaze. Tentacles awaken from a long slumber, rising up from the ground searching for its next meal.
Flame Lord is fairly tough. He has tricky offensive patterns so make sure you’ve got some herbs packed before taking him on.
The water actually hurts Firebrand until you acquire the Crest of Water and equip it. Then, and only then, may you explore what lies beneath.
Scula is quite the menacing monster.
Absolutely nothing like a two for one special!
Maximizing your gains by selecting the right form at the right time is all part of the fun. Ground Gargoyle is perfect for taking out enemies down below.
This enemy explodes into fragments when killed, so stay vigilant during the aftermath.
Afraid of the dark? HA! It pays to keep the lights on…
Best not linger around! One of the game’s most dramatic moments is about to happen.
Crawler comes slithering after you relentlessly. Better not pussyfoot around! Statues block the way just to add a little extra drama. Nice touch there, Capcom.
At the end of the hallway you’re trapped and forced to do battle with this giant mass of tissue. It’s the kind of monstrosity that does the Contra franchise proud.
THE MURKY WATERS
Carefully blast the blocks so that you leave just the upper and bottom one intact. Recklessly destroy all the blocks and you’re likely to get badly punctured.
THE ICY BARRENS
Should have kept your cocky trap shut. Now you’ll face the true terror that is this mid-boss.
Remember the rule: keep the lights on.
Grewon is a very agile and powerful wolf. Good luck.
Phalanx has three forms. Yup, it’s going to be one of those final boss battles.
The water will damage you unless you stay over it or unless you morph into the Tidal Gargoyle. It’s your call.
The Ultimate Gargoyle can only be unlocked by beating Phalanx with 100% of your inventory slots filled. This then grants you the Crest of Heaven. And it’s only in this form that you can tackle the game’s true final boss.
Ultimate Gargoyle is Firebrand at the zenith of his power. It’s a combination of all previous forms, plus it gives Firebrand a charge shot similar to the Blue Bomber. So Capcom rewards the persistent player who fully explores the game. Otherwise, you can’t use this form. It’s a nice bonus for the dedicated completionist.
Similar to Super Metroid, certain areas are playable but not until you’ve discovered weapon or power-up X. Only then can you backtrack to access these previously blocked off areas, opening up the game tenfold. There weren’t many games cut from this cloth in the 16-bit era. You can’t help but fall in love with Demon’s Crest. It really is kind of like a Super Metroid-lite.
Another example: Firebrand will actually get damaged if he falls into the water there. That is, UNLESS you use the Water Crest. After which, you’re feel to explore the water regions of the game fully unhindered. This of course opens up the game even more, unlocking new goodies and power-ups. Keeping a journal to jot down some notes is not a bad idea.
WHAT THE CRITICS SAID
Demon’s Crest did extremely well with the critics. Not only was the game well previewed within the pages of EGM and GameFan Magazine during the holiday season of 1994, but it was well reviewed, too. EGM gave it scores of 8, 8, 8 and 9. GameFan gave it ratings of 97, 97and 98%. Super Play rated it 80%. Yet despite the praise from the press, it’s been a well-documented fact that this game sold very poorly. According to Nintendo Power Magazine, the game flopped at the box office. Capcom did very little to hype this release. True, Demon’s Crest did come out around the same time as Donkey Kong Country (which sold off-the-chart numbers), but did you know during one week Demon’s Crest generated NEGATIVE sales?! Preposterous! It’s a gaming tragedy that more people returned the game than bought it for that one particular week!
While Demon’s Crest performed poorly in 1994 based on sales (despite critical acclaim), it’s made its mark ever since. Over the past 15 years or so, many people have had the pleasure of playing it and it’s been on many “Underrated SNES Games” lists. So much so, in fact, that it’s probably ratedjust right nowadays. I’m happy to see this game get the kind of respect that it deserved from day one. Magazines did their part to extol the virtues of Demon’s Crest but the buying public did not bite, and they missed out on a true gem as a result. Thankfully, one of the many luxuries of being a retro gamer is the ability to revisit these titles from yesteryear. And after playing through Demon’s Crest back in 2007, there is no doubt in my mind that it stands as one of Super Nintendo’s very finest action adventures.
Playing through this game reminded me of the early SNES days where the games came packed with a true sense of awe and wonder. Titles like F-Zero, Contra III, Super Castlevania IV, Super Mario World and The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. Remember the sense of magic you felt playing such games early on in the SNES lifespan? Somewhere along the lines, the magic got a little lost in a wave of countless decent but ultimately forgettable “me too” titles. Demon’s Crest, however, was a mighty return to the fold; it recaptured the spellbinding wonderment of early SNES masterpieces that you remember fondly even to this day.
Graphically, almost every trick in the book is used: transparency, umpteen layers of parallax, soft eerie swirling mist, some excellent Mode 7 and so on. It fares even better with regards to the sound and music. At times it feels like a slice of Castlevania! You can’t ever go wrong when you can rightfully claim that. The music runs circles around other games which try desperately to summon a foreboding atmosphere but fail to do so. Demon’s Crest is packed with authentic sounding church organ, haunting horns and jiggling flute effects. It’s very orchestral and that boss theme is unforgettable! It’s tense and dramatic which perfectly fits the mood as the behemoth boss reveals itself to you. Classic Capcom quality. Even the little sound effect that plays each time you add another life unit to your health is spot-on perfect.
Gameplay? It’s the best part of all! The nonlinear, open-ended aspect of the game made it extremely fun to play. I love how gaining new powers would open up new parts of a world you’ve previously conquered. It’s quite similar to Super Metroid in that regard. There’s also an “RPG quest” flair to it, thanks to its various side games, shops, interesting NPCs and so forth. And let’s face it, Firebrand is an awesome anti-hero to control. Discovering and properly utilizing your various spells and forms add much strategic quality to a stellar product. However, for as much as I have raved about this game, it isn’t without a few imperfections. Namely, Capcom failed to make use of the shoulder buttons. Unlike Mega Man X where you could switch weapons on the fly using L or R, you cannot do that here. Thus, there’s quite a bit of menu toggling and it can interrupt the flow of the action. When you consider Demon’s Crest came out nearly a year AFTERMega Man X, you can’t help but feel Capcom dropped the ball a bit here. It’s no deal breaker by any means, but would have made for a smoother playing experience.
Bottom line, Demon’s Crest just sucks you in with its macabre and dark nature. It’s definitely not another me-too platform action game from the mid ’90s! And yes, there are multiple endings depending on what you do or don’t do. The game is pretty short, and you’ll feel bad when it ends all too soon, but you’ll have an absolute blast while it lasts. Not only is it one of the best action games on the Super Nintendo but, in my book, it’s one of the best, PERIOD. I recommend it highly. Sans the Street Fighter II games, Capcom’s finest hour on the Super Nintendo — the best of the rest — is easily…
One of the earliest titles to hit the SNES, Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts is also often referred to as one of the top classics of its era. Its difficulty is well documented; in fact, rumors swirled back in the early ’90s that even Chuck Norris had trouble finishing it twice. As Sir Arthur, you must clear eight savage lands ranging from dark haunted graveyards to an icy forest in order to save your main squeeze. Easier said than done, especially back to back!
IN THE BEGINNING…
Ghosts ‘n Goblins originated in the arcades in 1985. It later received a couple home ports, most notably on the 8-bit Nintendo. I remember seeing this game for the first time at my friend’s house in the late ’80s. Being a lover of monsters big and small, the stunning cover art immediately grabbed me by the ghoulies. Just look at those vile creatures! Now there goes a law-abiding group of good Samaritans if I ever saw one. I watched my friend Tommy fumble through the first level. The zombies were relentless. Arthur not exactly being a ballerina didn’t help matters any, either. But there was something compelling about it. I loved the ghoulish atmosphere.
Capcom released a superb sequel, Ghouls ‘n Ghosts, in the arcades at the tail end of 1988. A Sega Genesis version was pumped out in 1989 to much critical acclaim. Then in November 1991, Capcom treated brand new SNES owners with an exclusive sequel, Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts. This franchise has certainly developed a loyal fanbase since the first game hit the scene in 1985. To this very day, fans still love playing through these classics and fans still clamor for a proper return. It’s a shame Sir Arthur’s future is up in the air. But hey, at least we’ll always have these great games to keep us warm.
RAINING GHOULS ‘N GHOSTS
Several months following my SNES rebirth in January of 2006, I decided to reinvest in another old childhood favorite… the Sega Genesis. Those were some fun and reckless days, I tells ya. I was scouring eBay nonstop, checking the forums for people unloading games and surfing Craigslist daily. It was on a crazy rainy Friday afternoon that I met ex-gamer Kevin outside a local grocery store to cut the deal. It was my $20 for his five Genesis games. Among them, of course, was Ghouls ‘n Ghosts. Kevin must have felt nostalgic that rainy late afternoon, because before he handed me the game, he looked me dead in the eye and he said, “This is one of the best video games I have ever played.”
I stood outside his red truck holding an umbrella as he sat inside all warm and toasty. A small cute looking beagle stood on the passenger seat, tilting its head as it stared at me. Kevin went on to tell me that these games were all purchased from him back in the day and that they had been resting unused in his attic for a good number of years now. But it was time to let them go to a new home that would play them rather than have them sit on a shelf collecting dust. He cut me a great deal, 20 for all five as I said, and I couldn’t have been a happier camper that rainy Friday afternoon. It was one of my most favorite experiences off Craigslist and a very fond game memory from that crazy year of 2006 — the year where I set out to reclaim bits and pieces of my childhood. As the gray afternoon skies continued raining Ghouls ‘n Ghosts, I drove home on that wet freeway with a grin plastered across my face as wide as the Mississippi River. What a bargain, sure, but it was the human element that made it such a memorable transaction.
I had briefly seen and played Ghouls ‘n Ghosts, coincidentally, once again at Tommy’s place in the late ’80s. It had amazing visuals for its time. Who could ever forget that first gigantic boss who rips his own freakin’ head off? Arthur wasn’t much more athletic here than his NES outing but at least now he could shoot up. And like the NES game before it, Ghouls ‘n Ghosts was damn tough. Let’s see how Sir Arthur fared in his next adventure, Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts…
THE STORY GOES…
“Look everyone! Our hero, Sir Arthur, is back! Hip hip hooray!”
“Thank you, Princess Guinevere. I’ve come back to check up on you. While journeying all over the world seeking more knowledge, I had a very strange premonition. So, how are things? Anything peculiar? Sick guards, dying crops, red demons, perhaps?”
“Oh Sir Arthur, I too have felt an uneasy premonition as of late. I feel that someone… or something… is watching me… waiting in the shadows…”
“Not to worry, Princess. I’m here now. I won’t let anything bad happen to you ever again.”
“Thank you, Arthur. Your words comfort me but still, I can’t shake that horrible feeling that we’re being watched as we speak…”
Meanwhile… somewhere in the distance just beyond the castle…
“I sense something wicked watching us now!”
“Relax, Princess! You’re safe with me.”
“Oh you mean just like the last time, huh?”
“Don’t start that with me, woman!”
“SHHH! You hear that?”
*FLAP FLAP FLAP*
You start out with the steel armor. Next upgrade is the Bronze Armor (middle), then finally the Golden Armor (right). The Bronze Armor grants Arthur power to use the Weapons of Enchantment while the Golden Armor allows him to cast magical spells. The shields are also invaluable.
Here’s the Flaming Lance in action. Not only does it leave a nice trail but it’s twice as effective as the normal Lance shot.
Whether you’re using the regular weapons or their powered-up versions, you can release a stronger shot at the peak of your double jump. A successful attempt is highlighted via a red-ish glow. It’s a neat technique that adds a bit more strategy to the game, particularly during those boss battles.
Here’s the Magic Dagger in action. Discover the rest for yourself!
WELCOME TO THE MAGIC SHOW
Check out the Thunder Magic — this is when you’re wielding the Flaming Lance and rocking the Golden Armor.
Have the Magic Dagger on ya while wearing the Golden Armor? Then you have the power to call forth some Fire Dragon Magic! The weapon you’re currently in possession of determines what kind of magic you can unleash. They range in terms of effectiveness so it’s fun to figure out which ones work best when and where. One magic power doesn’t harm enemies; rather, it searches for hidden treasure troves! Acquiring AND maintaining the Golden Armor is key to success.
Trek through eight deadly worlds to save the blasted Princess. Er, actually 16 but uh, let’s not get ahead of ourselves just yet…
LEVEL 1: THE DEAD PLACE
Ah, such a classic first stage — take a ghoulish romp through a haunted graveyard! From this forgotten cemetery, zombies arise to attack the living. Only the bravest and strongest will survive a journey through this cursed land.
Occasionally, treasure chests will pop up out of the ground. Inside lies a random item. Perhaps a different weapon choice or even precious armor…
Thank goodness it’s only temporary. You can also be turned into a little girl or even a bee. Capcom sure had fun making this one…
Pillars provide safe harbor from the crashing waves, which will carry you ruthlessly away to an early, murky grave.
(Double) jump at random points — you never know when doing so may trigger a hidden treasure chest to reveal itself from its hiding place. It’s fun to find them and feels a bit like an Easter egg hunt at times. It’s all a bit weird and cool at the same time.
You just found the Bronze (even though it’s green) Armor! With this bad boy you can now employ the almighty Weapons of Enchantment. Unfortunately, one hit strips Arthur straight to his boxers rather than back down to his regular steel armor. That’s a bit of a bitch but it sums up the toughness of this game. Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts separates the men from the boys.
Now equipped with the Bronze Armor, the crossbow becomes a homing weapon of destruction! Too bad though you can only fire one triple shot at a time. Should one shot linger searching for a target, you are left defenseless and are forced to wait until that last shot dissipates. This, as you can imagine, can prove costly in the heat of battle.
Be sure to look back for a nifty surprise!
Congrats, it’s the almighty Golden Armor. So now not only do you have the powerful Weapons of Enchantment at your disposal but also magic! Charge up Arthur to unleash these magic powers.
Remember how I said make sure you look over your shoulder after leaping over these fiery skeleton carts? Here’s why…
The Cockatrice, like all the bosses in this game, is easy to beat. In addition to laying its eggs, it’ll stretch that horrible long neck out in hopes of pecking you to a bloody death. This is a great example of a simple but effective boss design. Large, menacing and all-around badass. Few did it better than Capcom back in the early ’90s.
LEVEL 2: THE ROTTING SEA
This level is quite atmospheric. For starters, Arthur leaves this decrepit dock. No sooner then does it crumble into the sea, and you have the makings of yet another memorable level to come.
You find yourself trapped on the Graveyard of Ships. Long ago, this thriving harbor was home to hundreds of sea-faring men. But now the entire port is laid to waste, and only the restless and wicked ghouls remain.
LEVEL 3: VERMILION HORROR
Brave adventurers must first make it through the Crucible of Flame. Deep within the earth, the flames of evil burns brightly. Its glow drips with despair and darkness to all who venture forth.
Visually, this level is pretty stunning. I love all the fire pits and how they turn different shades of red and orange. Nice. And you know what those demon head fire-spewing statues remind me of?
I just love this guy. He’s like the Andore of Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts. He’s bigger than most other normal bad guys and takes several shots before tapping out. I have a thing for regular enemies who are extra tough and a little bigger than the rest of the non-boss cast.
Capcom was so damn good at adding in these little details to make their levels even more interesting than they already were. Gotta appreciate the craftsmanship.
The pillars move up and down. Be patient but don’t take your sweet ass time, either! Used properly, the double jump comes in extra handy here. Sometimes you need to head back to the drawing board so save that precious second jump for any last second change. It could determine the difference between winning and losing, yes sir.
Safely past the Crucible of Flame, it’s on to the Towers of Molten Steel. The mere sight of the twin towers strikes terror into the hearts of men. Within these demented walls, the ghouls of the Phantom Zone practice their darkest and most unspeakable acts of evil.
Slightly reminiscent of Nebulus (Commodore 64), this is a rather impressive bit. The twisting and turning of the tower while those gargoyle statues slowly reveal themselves is splendid stuff, especially by 1991 standards.
Talk about a monstrosity! He’s easier than he looks, though. I find it best to stay right there where Arthur is positioned in the pic and fire away.
LEVEL 4: THE GHOUL’S STOMACH
To enter the frozen lands of the Emperor of Evil, you must first pass through the foul Ghoul’s Stomach. It won’t be easy, and it sure as hell won’t smell pleasant, either. Those axe-wielding goblins are annoying bastards. Deal with them quickly — you don’t want a pack of them coming after you.
Every so often the landscape changes from bad to worse and players must hotfoot it to safety via these platforms, or else.
LEVEL 5: THE DEEP CHILL
First up is the Ice Forest. The blizzards constantly blow in this frozen world of ice and snow. Many have tried to conquer this land over the years but none have yet to return. Hope you don’t run across their decayed remains…
Beyond the Ice Forest lies the Ice Wall. A wall of sheer ice surrounds the palace. If the freezing cold doesn’t kill you, surely the savage wolves will.
At the end of this icy prison you come face to face with this terrible ice demon — the one they call Freon. He looks quite tough but he’s really not. The design isn’t bad but I would prefer if he was whole and not broken before you could lay a finger on him. Would have been much more satisfying if you could damage him bit by bit until nothing remained but his frozen head. But perhaps that’s just my sadistic side speaking. Also, it would have been more dramatic if he came bursting out of those frozen prison bars, but now I’m just nit-picking!
LEVEL 6: THE CASTLE OF THE EMPEROR
At the beginning of this level, you’re once again greeted by the double tough Red Arremer, Firebrand.
A version of the Cockatrice stuck within the castle walls?! What kind of foul play is this?! It’s all twisted and PLAIN WRONG like a nightmare come to life.
It’s the mighty demon, Astaroth! Love the design. He’s the right-hand monster to Sardius (AKA Demon Emperor Samael). Astaroth sports two faces so hideous not even a mother could love. The bottom one looks like an evil tree.
LEVEL 7: HALLWAY OF GHOULS
Once more you must duel with Astaroth. He spews fire from his bottom mouth and fires lasers up top. Be patient and don’t double jump unless absolutely necessary; otherwise, his laser beam might slice you in half.
After defeating Astaroth, you face a superior demon in the form of one, Nebiroth. Watch out for his laser shot which cuts a huge swath. He’s a tough cookie but you should be fine if you play it smart.
LEVEL 8: THE THRONE ROOM
Welcome to the Throne Room, home to the one and only Sardius! Talk about a menacing and imposing final boss. Towering over Arthur with his golden armor, it sure looks like a tall task ahead. To set the mood proper, lightning strikes the dark night sky, sending waves of white blinding flashes across the throne room. It’s a modern day David and Goliath. On paper at least. But in reality Sardius is pretty easy. You can kill him without even getting hit.
A set of laser beams fly out of his mouth. Position yourself roughly around here. His right or left leg works fine. Oddly enough, just for your convenience, Sardius also sends out two icy platforms. Double jump on to one of them but not when he sends the lasers late, which he does a time or two.
The platform takes you up to his head level. You’ll be able to land a couple shots in before the ice gives way.
Regrettably, he’s all bark and no bite. Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts is a challenging game but that comes mostly in the levels themselves. The bosses are surprisingly easy to dispatch. It’s too bad too, because they’re wonderful designs and you expect them to put up more of a tough fight.
Speaking of challenging, you must beat this game TWICE but more on that later. For now, let us enjoy our victory and bask in the glow of a job well done.
OH C’MON YOU GOTTA BE KIDDING!
You must beat the game twice and kill Sardius with the Bracelet to get the true ending. The Bracelet isn’t exactly the best weapon, either. The difficulty of the game also rises in the second round. To find the Bracelet, you must have the final power-up item, the Sun Shield. The next treasure chest you uncover will contain the weapon required to properly kill Sardius. Don’t lose the Bracelet either or you’re screwed. Talk about tough love.
SUPER CODES ‘N CHEATS
How nice of Capcom to even let you to pick the area in the stage you want to go to! With no save or password option, this cheat does well to increase the game’s longevity. Level select code is my favorite type of cheat, especially when the game is lacking a password or save option.
HOW FIREBRAND GOT HIS OWN GAME
Demon’s Crest, released in November of 1994, continued the high quality Capcom tradition on the SNES with gnarly visuals, amazing sound, addicting gameplay (Super Metroid fans will instantly eat it up), huge bosses and a totally badass protagonist. What’s not to love? It’s actually my favorite Capcom SNES game not named Street Fighter. Sorry, Mega Man X, but I give the slight edge to Demon’s Crest.
Firebrand is so fun to control. Who knew back in the mid ’80s when we first faced the red demon that he’d get his line of awesome video games? Be sure to also check out Gargoyle’s Quest on Game Boy (1990) and the 8-bit NES sequel, Gargoyle’s Quest II (1992).
“Hey Arthur… remember that time long ago where I failed miserably to kill you by dropping you high from the sky?”
“Sure… kinda hard to forget stuff like that, you know?”
“Well I just want to thank you for making me see the light. I turned the other cheek and got my own Super Nintendo game, and it’s even better than yours.”
“WHOA! Slow your role, playa. Jeez, some things never change, I guess.”
WHAT THE CRITICS SAID
Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts was well received by critics and fans alike. It’s universally considered as a classic Super Nintendo game, and its inclusion in the upcoming SNES Classic Edition speaks to that. Super Play rated it 85% and EGM ranked it #22 in their Top 100 Games List in issuer #100 (November 1997). Below is an excerpt from RETRO GAMER Magazine.
Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts is simply a classic. I’ve had a lot of fun playing through this one and discovering all the little nuances, from perfecting the double jump to finding out the secret locations of hidden treasure chests. This game kicked my ass, too. But never in a cheap way. Not because of faulty controls or anything like that. The level design is brutal, especially the first 20 times through. Some video games are frustrating in a cheap way but this isn’t one of them. It’s tough in a “Oooh, I’ll get you next time!” sort of manner, reeling you back in for another go and before you know it, an hour’s flown by. And if you’re good, maybe the level too. I never found myself blaming my losses on account of the game. It always came back to human error. And there’s something compelling and addictive about Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts that pushes me to say, “Alright Capcom, one more try…”
The game has a great atmosphere and truly lives up to the name of the title. Rotting zombies litter the Haunted Cemetery, the swirling mist in the Graveyard of Ships soon turns itself into ghastly apparitions, and what can you say about those vile monstrous bosses? Their incredible size and grand detail is awe-inspiring. From the sight of the very first boss, the abominable Cockatrice, you knew you were in for one hell of a ride. The monsters steal the show. Arthur is nothing special to look at, but his enemies sure are. The levels have a great deal of detail to them and though there are two areas per level, they’re actually fairly short. I was expecting the game to be a bit longer than what it is, but no matter, it’s a blast to work your way through them bit by bit. From undertaking tumultuous raft rides of death to scaling demon-infested towers, Arthur has plenty to do in his quest to save the day.
Not only are the visuals and sound right on the money and exactly what you’d expect from Capcom of that era, but the game is simply a sheer joy to play. From its varied locales to tricky predicaments, multiple tools of destruction and even magical spells, it’s got the lot, this one. Capcom was also nice enough to give us four difficulty options. On Beginner, it is actually very manageable. So is the default Normal difficulty in my humble opinion. Personally, I don’t think this game is as hard as many tend to say. With grit, patience and the right equipment, that is. But don’t get me wrong, it IS a very challenging game, especially on the second loop where it automatically gets more difficult. I don’t consider myself an expert player by any stretch of the imagination, but even I was able to get through the game on Beginner and Normal (the first loop, anyhow). As I said, the key is having a good deal of persistence and the having the right weapon in tow. It’s too bad you can only carry one weapon at a time (I hope you don’t get stuck accidentally with the torch) and it’s even worse that Arthur can only withstand two hits — regardless of whether you have the highest armor or lowest. But it’s a fun challenge. And that’s the big fundamental difference between games like this and games that are flat out impossible. The fun keeps you plugging away until at long last you break through, and it’s a great high when you finally do.
The more I played Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts the more I came to appreciate it in all facets. Initially, I didn’t really like Arthur’s “stiffness” but it slowly grew on me. Mastering the double jump is crucial. Arthur can no longer shoot up but oddly, it somehow works for this game. This is thanks, of course, to the level design. Yeah, there is some slowdown during the more hectic parts, but does it adversely affect the gameplay? Not really. Bottom line, this game delivers in all the areas where it counts. There’s a reason why Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts is considered as one of the many “essential must-have” games on the Super Nintendo. No truly great SNES collection is complete without a copy of Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts.