First Samurai (SNES)

Pub: Kemco | Dev: Vivid Images | July 1993 | 4 MEGS
Pub: Kemco | Dev: Vivid Image | July 1993 | 4 MEGS

When I got back into all things Super Nintendo in early 2006, one of the reasons was the desire to play longstanding childhood curiosities that I never rented. Among those 100+ curiosities was an odd little action title by the name of First Samurai. Coming out in the summer of 1993, it largely flew under the radar. But I’ll never forget seeing it previewed in an EGM issue in early ’93. Its dark and dreary screenshots left a mark on me, and I always wondered if it was as decent as my imagination had made it out to be. First Samurai originated on the Amiga in 1991 and it earned some rave reviews. In fact, Amiga Power rated it 91%. The success of their action platformer inspired little known developer Vivid Image (who also made Street Racer) to convert First Samurai to the 16-bit powerhouse SNES. Kemco picked up its publishing rights and we’re off the races, right? Not quite. The summer of 1993 saw a GLUT of Super Nintendo games being released, and First Samurai didn’t carry with it much press or clout. As such, it quickly faded from memory. But not mine. When I got back into the SNES in early 2006, First Samurai was actually the 7th game I played, and I had a choice of over 50 games to pick from. It was one of those strange childhood games I just had to finally play. So, is it any good, or does it deserve to stay obscured in the shadows? Let us endeavor to find out.

Amiga? No thanks. Oh what, 91%? I'm listening...
Amiga? No thanks. Oh what, 91%? I’m listening…


One of my favorite EGM issues of all time
One of my favorite EGM issues of all time

EGM issue #43 (February 1993) was one for the ages. It featured a badass 59-page preview of upcoming SNES games, and I devoured every bit of it as a 9 year old kid. Many of the game previews had me intrigued, but one in particular really caught my eye: FIRST SAMURAI. Most SNES games at the time were bright and bold but First Samurai was different. It was dark and foreboding… the kind of game perfect to play leading up to Halloween. Indeed, there’s a reason why I put First Samurai on my list of SNES games to play during Halloween season.

I must have read this 100 times over and then some!
I must have read this 100 times over and then some!


Nothing beats quelling a childhood curiosity at last!
Nothing beats quelling a childhood curiosity at last!

There’s something special, for me at least, about watching a live special wrestling event late in the evening (or early in the morning, depending on your view). These special shows don’t happen often and you can feel the excitement welling up as the show nears. But you’ve got some time to kill leading up to it. And I find a perfect time killer is finally playing a childhood curiosity that I have been wondering about for over 20 years. I have fond memories of playing Harley’s Humongous Adventure for the first time as I was waiting for WWE Beast in the East (emanating from Japan) to come on at 2:30 AM.

Nothing like live wrestling at 3 in the bloody morning!
The Beast in the East special took place on July 4, 2015
BEAST in the EAST, indeed
Nothing like watching wrasslin’ live at 3 in the morning
Fast forward over 3 years to October 6, 2018...
Fast forward over three years to October 6, 2018…


History has a funny way of repeating itself. This past Saturday morning, I found myself staying up late to catch the first hour of WWE Super Show-Down. Around 1 I decided to revisit First Samurai. Now I had played it briefly back in early 2006, but I never sat down with it thoroughly. With October now here, I wanted to review it as part of my Halloween lineup. It brought back fond memories of Beast in the East and playing Harley’s Humongous Adventure beforehand.


Just too bad Super Show-Down kind of... sucked :P
Just too bad Super Show-Down kind of… sucked :P

Oh well. You can’t win ‘em all, I suppose. Nonetheless, I still had a good time revisiting First Samurai. It is indeed like a mash-up of Castlevania and Ninja Gaiden. Now it’s not nearly as awesome as that sounds, but you can see traces of both classic games implemented throughout First Samurai. Not too shabby.


The exploration aspects of First Samurai help to differentiate it a bit from the packed crowd of action platformers on the SNES. The above shot is a good idea of what a typical level looks like. You’ll run around killing tons of demons and monsters while hunting down key artifacts and Mystic Runes. All under the veil of a quasi-Asian demonic underworld. Come on, how bad can that truly be, eh?

Not as bad as the European ad for First Samurai! Yikes
Not as bad as the European ad for First Samurai! Yikes
Samurai Shodown had a badass samurai, Haohmaru
Samurai Shodown had a badass samurai, Haohmaru
Whereas First Samurai went for a more rugged vet
Whereas First Samurai went for a more rugged look

In a way, you have to admire the interpretation Vivid Image went with. Sure, he’s not nearly as cool as Haohmaru. He’s not as flashy or aesthetically pleasing. Instead, he’s a grizzled vet full of scars. You can tell he’s been through some shit. And I mean homeboy HAS BEEN THROUGH SOME SHIT. Just look at that kisser and try to tell me that’s someone to mess with. He will FUCK YOUR SHIT UP.








Immediately, the young Samurai falls to the Demon’s magic.







Overwhelmed, the Demon King escapes to the future.







Hellbent on slaying the Demon King, the Samurai, with his Sensei’s magic sword, hunts the Demon King through all of time and space.







Difficulty-wise, First Samurai can be tricky and tough at times. There are only 5 stages but they fluctuate in difficulty. Passwords are nonexistent but thankfully there is a level select cheat code that allows you to skip previously beaten levels if you wish not to play through the whole thing again.

At the Options screen:

1-2: Hold L + R + X + A and press right
2-1: Hold L + R + X + A and press down
2-2: Hold L + R + X + A and press left
3-1: Hold L + R + X + A and press up







Witness the slowest stage title crawl in 16-bit history. I could almost make and eat a sandwich in the time it takes for the words “STAGE 1″ to appear.













Welcome to the ravaged battlefield. The year is 1730 and your hunt for the Demon King begins in a foul land that’s been corrupted by evil and disease. I like how each stage opens with the Wizard Mage floating eerily around the screen (which you can speed up with the press of a button). It’s accompanied fittingly so by a creepy sound effect that haunts my ears to this day. It really sets the somber mood proper, making this an ideal candidate to play during Halloween season. After the samurai finishes meditating, the Sensei’s magic sword comes flying to our hero. I love when games allow you to hop on trees. It’s the small stuff, y’kno?







Looming over the samurai is a huge dilapidated statue. You feel a chill in the air as you push forward toward the beastly growls. You’ll come across a Warp Lantern (these allow you to warp to different parts of the level provided that you’ve activated one of the magic pots) as well as your very first Mystic Rune. You must collect all 5 Mystic Runes on each stage before you can fight the boss.







Monsters of various sizes greet you at nearly every step of the way. Looks like someone’s a fan of the Alien films. Early on, the game provides you with helpful messages. But this goes away after the first stage and it all becomes intuition afterwards. Pretty cool.







Speaking of cool, it’s possible to strike down enemy projectiles with a well-timed swipe of your Sensei’s Katana.







Whenever you collect treasure or gobble up food, you’ll hear “HALLELUJAH!” Bizarre but so damn satisfying. This game has some crazy sound samples and it’s all part of the cheesy charm.







Summon the Wizard Mage to help clear the path by collecting Magic Bells. I marked out the first time I saw this. The crack of lightning in the background, along with the whipping rain and thunder sound effects, really makes this super atmospheric. I mean, it’s no Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past rain but gawd damn, seeing this in the dead of the night with all the lights turned off was pretty damn neat.







Samurai’s ability to scale and climb walls reminds me of Ninja Gaiden II a bit. Grab the Mystic Rune lying there as well as the axe sub-weapon. It lets you attack from a safe distance just like the Castlevania games. First Samurai has some neat tricks up its sleeve!







Whenever you lose your first life bar, the sword goes away and your force bar regenerates some of your life bar, but your force bar goes to zero. Kill enemies to collect force energy. After your force bar reaches 70%, the sword returns to you. So the only way to die is to lose BOTH your life and force bar. Enemies respawn too, so it gives you a chance at farming. That is, if the respawning enemies don’t outright kill ya!







Summoning the Wizard Mage reveals the path. But first you must have a Magic Bell. Sometimes they’re hidden in tricky places…







Nothing’s better than seeing a double whammy. In this case, a Warp Lantern and a Mystic Rune. But beware of the fire breathing dragon statues. First Samurai also features option helpers, similar to Gradius III, in the form of spinning shurikens.







Where’s the rain, you ask? See, here’s the quirky (and cool) thing about First Samurai. The effects in which the Wizard Mage clears your path is never the same. It’s always fun to see what tricks he will perform next!







Similar to Castlevania, food can sometimes be tucked away in obscure hidden places. Always experiment! A mutant frog blocks your path. No need to summon the Wizard Mage, it’s time to slice and dice. Hope you like frog legs!







Scattered throughout the stages are magic pots. They basically serve as save points but you’ll need to first activate them by way of meditation. And in First Samurai, meditating means kneeling for 2 seconds. Activating a magic pot does eat up some of your force bar, so keep that in mind. But should you die, being whisked to the closest point before a boss battle is a lifesaver. I wouldn’t activate every single magic pot on a stage, but definitely do so if you feel death knocking on your door. Trust me, you don’t want to start back at the beginning of a level.







Remember, you cannot fight the boss until you’ve procured the 5 Mystic Runes AND come to the appropriate boss area. Later stages switch it up where the boss battle isn’t always at the right of the level. This gives the game more of an exploratory feel than most other SNES action platformers.







Everyone needs a pet for companionship and in the case of the Demon King, assassin-related purposes. Meet Akai-Ryu and Aoyi-Ryu, AKA the Red Dragon and the Blue Dragon. The Demon King’s dragon twin pets voraciously defend the Mountain Realm in his absence.







Beware, the red one spits out 3 slower shots while the blue one emits multiple fireballs at a much faster clip.







Sometimes, namely whenever you’re out of force energy, you’re… er… forced to fight with just your bare fists and feet! It’s not ideal especially against the bosses but this samurai is one tough son of a bitch that refuses to go down without fighting to the very bitter end. When the dust settles, you’re oddly elongated as you teleport to the next stage.







Wizard Mage transports you onto the time travel express train. You stand awestruck at the wondrous train and its magical ability to travel through time. Suddenly a warning from the Wizard Mage pierces the samurai’s mind. “I’ve discovered that the Demon King built this device and one other to aid him in his time travels. Seize control of the time train from his minions to help lock the Demon King in his future domain!”







Chrome Dome has traveled through time apparently to make an unexpected cameo. Hmm, makes you wonder if Hamato Yoshi (Splinter) ever trained with the First Samurai.







Wizard Mage to the rescue once again. This time you get a gnarly purple effect.







Somewhere E. Honda is rolling over in his grave. I really like this level. The fast zooming space background lends itself well to the time traveling aspect. There are tons of roofs you can break open to jump down below or out of. Eventually you head to the front of the train but there’s nothing there. Hmm, where could that 5th and final Mystic Rune be? Expect there to be a bit of this when you play First Samurai.







Wizard Mage’s having way too much fun with his job.







Originally released in 1991, it seems like this second boss (Obakeh) was inspired, at least in part, by the T-1000 in Terminator 2: Judgment Day — the legendary summer blockbuster of ’91.







Finally, after two levels, we officially arrive at Stage 2. There goes that creepy Wizard Mage bastard again. With the destruction of the time train, our hero finds himself in the decaying hulk of a monstrous city. In the year 1999 the Demon King’s hordes descended upon the metropolis, and without the Master Sensei to defend it, the city fell. Now lawless chaos reigns and you must fight again to restore order and free mankind from the Demon King’s evil grasp.







Welcome to Tokyo in the year 1999. Back in 1993, I’m sure ’99 felt like eons away. Now, as I write this review in the year 2018, 1999 was almost 20 years ago. Yikes. This is another pretty cool stage. I like the aesthetics here with the yellow buildings and breakable windows. Hell, you can even crack open the manholes to enter an underground passage full of deranged demons.







Question: why does every video game that features Tokyo always depicts Tokyo at night? Answer: no matter what, it always has a great atmosphere.







Wouldn’t have the same effect if this were held in the daytime instead. But at night? OOOOH, AHHHH.







Sometimes a demon will try to ambush you following your act of vandalism. Other times, you’ll find food hidden away. It’s fun to shatter the windows and see what you get.







ProTip: Blast Laura Branigan’s Self Control while playing this stage.







Heading underground doesn’t prove any less safe as hordes of creatures appear in full force. And, pray tell, why are there floating jellyfish out of water? Who knows, this game is an acid trip!







Seriously, First Samurai reminds me of one of those trippy horror action Hong Kong flicks that I watched during my childhood in the late ’80s and early ’90s. It’s just bizarre and nightmarish. Perfect for Halloween, indeed.







Wizard Mage, did you go on to become Zordon?







Walking around barefoot with all those shards of glass can’t be good. Love that Japanese Pagoda which lights up intermittently. Lovely stuff.







Summon the boss Gyakusatsu by offering up the 5 Mystic Runes. Ooze drips from this disgusting, octopus-tentacled creature of the Netherworld. Slightly reminiscent of Medusa from Castlevania, it’s unsettling how it heaves demon heads at you and crawls in and out of the walls. Creepy…







Remember how the time train was only one of the Demon King’s two devices that can span the eons? This next level, the time elevator, is the second. When your mystic blade disables the central guidance computer, the final battle will be at hand. I like climbing the chains and breaking the boxes open to find goodies.







Vengeance awaits. You now find yourself in the Demon Palace. The year is 2245. You can almost taste his blood on your blade.







Breakable nooks and crannies, containing invaluable goodies, are scattered throughout the Demon Palace. It’s really tough sledding here without your sword — his limbs are too damn short!







Zordon, I mean, Wizard Mage comes through again.







Twisted and demented, this is the perfect level to play on a cold dark October night.







Always nice seeing Magic Bells and Mystic Runes for the taking!







Security is pretty tight in Hell, I see. But nothing will stop me from hearing that glorious “HALLELUJAH!” voice sample.













Wizard Mage, you never cease to make me smile.






Graphically, for the most part First Samurai isn’t anything special. But once in a while, whether it’s a pleasant rain effect or this flashing scene, First Samurai surprises you.







Beware, the Tengu demon is on the loose and very lethal. Try keeping a safe distance and throwing knives at it.

Can you put an end to the vile Demon King?
Can you put an end to the vile Demon King?

With horror, the First Samurai remembers the Demon King’s hideous visage. Now, he must face the evil king alone…



As previously stated, First Samurai originated on the Amiga in 1991.

It earned some good reviews
It earned some good reviews
Including a whopping 91 from Amiga Poweer
Amiga Power rated it a whopping 91%



In 1994, a sequel was released called Second Samurai (naturally). It appeared on the Amiga and Sega Mega Drive (the name of the Sega Genesis in regions outside of North America). I find it interesting that it never came out in North America or on the SNES for that matter. Then again, I always thought it odd that the Genesis never received First Samurai. Perhaps Vivid Image was trying to make up for it with Second Samurai. Whatever the case may be, the sequel is even more obscure than its predecessor.


Second Samurai incorporates the same time travel theme. This time our hero travels back in time to the prehistoric era. Yup, he’s still on a quest to defeat the Demon King.


It features a 2 player co-op mode and writer Sebastian Sponsel rated it a solid 7 out of 10, calling it the best Amiga port he’s ever played on the Genesis.

Can you kill the Demon King once and for all?
Can you kill the Demon King once and for all?


Yo Quiero Taco Bell
Yo Quiero Taco Bell

If there is an obstacle you cannot seem to get past, try using a Magic Bell to summon the Wizard Mage. Perhaps he will help you. Keep in mind that you must be in the precise spot to call upon his spirit, or else nothing will happen. Also make sure you have a Magic Bell. If you don’t, better go find one!


Keep your force meter high at all times by defeating many smaller demons. They respawn so farm if you need to. Remember, you only die if both your life and force meters are fully depleted.


Sometimes walls, floors and ceilings are weak. Try to break them with fist, foot or steel to open a blocked passage or find a hidden item.

En garde!
En garde!

Once you have collected all 5 Mystic Runes, look for the boss’ lair to summon a Demon Overlord to battle. Their lair is not always located at the far end of a stage, so some exploring may be necessary. Never call to battle the Demon King or any of his Demon Overlords without the great Katana in hand. Whenever you lose your sword, the First Samurai screams out loud, “OH NO, MY SWORD!” It’s rather comical, but charming in its own unique way.

"OH NO, MY SWORD!" makes me think of "My word!" Thanks, Laxia, for demonstrating the usage
“OH NO, MY SWORD!” makes me think of “My word!”
Thanks, Laxia, for demonstrating the usage (Ys VIII)



Super Play, notorious for their harsh grading, was actually pretty impressed by First Samurai. Unfortunately, First Samurai didn’t receive much press in North America. Neither EGM or GameFan reviewed the game and as such, it was doomed to fly under the radar. Super Play rated it a solid 80%.

Pretty impressive for a port of a 1991 Amiga game, eh?
Pretty impressive for a port of a 1991 Amiga game, eh?



I’m not as high on this game as Super Play was. I do like it, and in some ways, I like it a lot. But that’s the sentimental me talking. Technically, it falls a little short. But more on that in a bit. Let’s cover the positives first. There’s no denying that First Samurai is a unique game in the massive SNES catalog. There really aren’t too many games like it. The atmosphere is refreshingly dreary and foreboding as opposed to the majority of SNES games that are “cute” and colorful. First Samurai is particularly fun to play around Halloween season. Its quasi-Asian motif and ghoulish enemies help to make it stand out in a packed crowd, despite the game not being as competent as one might hope.


The samurai’s ability to climb pillars and such is reminiscent of Ninja Gaiden II. And dueling with dastardly demons hearkens one back to Castlevania. Our hero can also jump very high and control is generally very good. I also like all the little tricks the game presents: Magic Bells to summon sorcery, Warp Lanterns that transport you to a certain section of the level, Mystic Runes that must be collected before fighting the boss, finding the boss lair itself, sub-weapons that allow you to attack from a safer distance and the unique usage of the life and force meter. First Samurai has a slight exploratory feel to it that not every SNES action platformer has. This definitely helps to increase the game’s appeal. Unfortunately, the gameplay has its share of flaws. While he can jump high, jumps are floaty. But the biggest flaw in my opinion is his pathetic sword swipe. It doesn’t nearly cut the swath you would hope or imagine, and this does lead to a lot of unnecessary damage. It’s a similar flaw to Lagoon, but at least in Lagoon there are tricks to work around this flaw. Not really the case in First Samurai. Besides, he’s supposed to be a badass samurai! But maybe because he’s the first of his kind, he’s still learning how to hone and perfect his craft.

Look like a light saber but it sucks

Whatever the case may be, his disappointing sword swiping almost single handedly removes First Samurai from “hidden gem” contention. His upward swipes are fine, and striking at a downward angle isn’t too shabby either. But my God, his normal sword swinging, the one which you’ll do most of, leaves a lot to be desired. Worse yet, it makes the game far more difficult than it should have been if this simple mechanic wasn’t botched in the first place. I will say this, though. I do enjoy how his sword looks more like a light saber. Now if only he swung it like how Luke Skywalker did…


But there’s enough to like and appreciate about this game. The graphics, while nothing spectacular, remind me fondly of an 8-bit NES game from 1990. Even though the character sprites are a bit squabby and somewhat aesthetically unpleasing, there’s an odd charm to the visuals of the game (even though they’re not great by any stretch of the imagination). Some of the color schemes used stick out in my mind for some reason, like the level that depicts Tokyo in the year 1999. The sound effects are muffled but you gotta love the “HALLELUJAH!” and “OH NO, MY SWORD!” speech samples. Music is pretty decent as well. Just too bad the rest of the sound effects are on the lower end of quality. The game presents a pretty tough challenge but like I said, that’s mainly due to the hero’s lack of attacking range. But First Samurai can be fun despite it all. And it really does personify the very meaning of “guilty pleasure.” So in the end, I wouldn’t go out of my way to buy or play this, but it’s definitely got a place on my Halloween game list. And because of my history with it, First Samurai will always, oddly, occupy a space within my gaming heart.

Graphics: 6
Sound: 6
Gameplay: 6
Longevity: 6

Overall: 6.0


Castlevania: Dracula X (SNES)

Pub & Dev: Konami | September 1995 | 16 MEGS
Pub & Dev: Konami | September 1995 | 16 MEGS

CASTLEVANIA. The mere mention instantly conjures many warm memories for gamers of all ages. Hell, the name is nearly synonymous with the NES and classic gaming itself. Play through any of the pre-N64 renditions and it’s easy to see why this beloved franchise has been lionized by so many fans throughout the years. The epic NES series naturally transitioned to the SNES with the epochal Super Castlevania IV in 1991. Dracula X was the final 16-bit Castlevania game as we know it. Being that it’s Halloween season, let’s grab our magical Belmont whip and take a closer look…



When I got back into all things Super Nintendo in early 2006 (January 17 to be precise), I was lucky to be at the right place at the right time. Early 2006 was a great time to be buying SNES games by the truckload. Many didn’t cost more than $10 shipped, and a ton literally went for as cheap as $5 shipped. Titles were not only cheap but they were plentiful as well. However, even back in 2006 there were a few key titles that commanded $40+ even cart only. Castlevania: Dracula X was one of those games, but I was fortunate enough to nab a copy for exactly $40. I beat the rush and nostalgia train by several years, and boy was I thankful about that. These games now command a small fortune and I would never have assembled my collection if I got back into the SNES scene post-2012 or so. Timing is everything.


Almost everyone loves the first SNES Castlevania game
Almost everyone loves the first SNES Castlevania game

Nearly 26 years ago today, Super Castlevania IV arrived on the Super Famicom and made its mark as one of the all time Super Nintendo greats. Japan received it on Halloween 1991 (how fitting) while North American audiences got it in time for Christmas ’91. Konami showcased the raw power of the brand new SNES and it left a lasting impression to say the very least.

"You're HUNTING IT all right, yeah. JUST LIKE ME!"
“You’re HUNTING IT all right, yeah. JUST LIKE ME!”

I reviewed Super Castlevania IV back in October of 2008, nearly 10 years ago. Man, time flies! This was a massive effort that took many hours piecing together, and it’s one of my personal favorites. The liberal plot re-imagining used shots from Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers. It really fitted in well! That whole review has a crazy Halloween vibe to it. I think it stands as one of the best reviews I’ve ever created and I’m super proud of how it all came together almost a decade ago now.

You can't kill the Boogeyman...
You can’t kill the Boogeyman…

Growing up, Halloween was one of my favorite film franchises. I still recall watching the first one in 1989 as a wee six year old thinking that Halloween was a movie about kids trick-or-treating. Later that night, I had a lucid nightmare that Michael Myers was stalking me in my bedroom! I became a fan for life — go figure! Every Halloween I try to watch at least one of the Halloween films as well as play games like Super Castlevania IV.

I will never NOT love Halloween season
I will never NOT love Halloween season

These images, which I splattered throughout my Super Castlevania IV review nearly 10 years ago, really evoke the spooky and atmospheric pulse of the Halloween season. It’s a fond trip down memory lane for me. I hope you enjoyed the Halloween 4 Simon Belmont intro as much as I had fun making it. After all, Halloween isn’t complete without a little Dr. Loomis and Michael Myers action! [That sounds like a fan fic someone already wrote -Ed.]

This is awesome. But how does Dracula X fare?
Truly one of the Super Nintendo’s finest
This is awesome but how does Dracula X fare?
This is awesome but how does Dracula X fare?
It takes a while to sink one's teeth in...
It takes a while to sink one’s teeth in…

My initial impressions with Dracula X were certainly not too favorable. Here’s what I wrote in my gaming journal: Super Castlevania IV this ain’t. Hey where’s my up and diagonal whip? Where’s my rotating whip? Why is the attack shorter on time? Why does Richter walk up stairs like he just crapped in his pants, eh?

"Oh I'll sink my teeth alright..."
“Oh I’ll sink my teeth alright…”

So, yeah, not too good first thoughts. But don’t judge a book by its cover right? After some help and motivation from various gaming pals, I marched on determined to see if the game would get better. After all, it’s not how one starts but how one ends. Let’s delve deeper into Dracula X



The moon hovered ominously over the village… something afoul was brewing…


An evil DARKNESS had befallen the land, giving rise to sinister vampire legends. Until now the people of Transylvania had grown accustomed to their nice peaceful existence, secure in the knowledge that their famed hero, Simon Belmont, had sealed the fate of one, Count Dracula, several hundred years prior.


But as we all know, peace doesn’t last forever. People became complacent in their security over time. Then late one night at the witching hour, wicked townsfolk possessed by the darkness gathered in secret holding demonic séances in an attempt to bring back the Prince of Darkness… Sir Dracula!


Night after night they chanted relentlessly, calling out to revive Count Dracula. While everyone else had already retired for the evening, these heathens scurried out from their dark holes to convene in an ancient abandoned abbey.

Thunder rumbled across the night sky as lightning cracked the abbey. From the dead rose the Prince of Darkness!


Dracula plotted to exact revenge upon Richter Belmont, the descendant of the family that destroyed him. The Prince of Evil viciously attacked the town with his unholy legion. In a single night, lives young and old were wiped out. This time Dracula brought some brand new toys. True abominations, towering monsters of destruction and nightmares ravaged the village. The townsfolk never stood a chance — it was a blood bath.


Dracula was more ruthless than ever before. He kidnapped Richter’s girlfriend, Annet, as well as her little sister, Maria. Imprisoning them in his vile castle, he awaits Richter’s inevitable arrival.


Richter, burdened by his destiny, left for Dracula’s castle with his legendary ancestral whip in hand. Not only that but the stout determination to save his loved ones and the resolve to send Dracula to eternal damnation once and for all.


As the full moon casts an eerie glow overhead, Richter Belmont gazes at Dracula’s castle ominously looming in the distance. He knows once inside that there’s a chance he might not make it out alive. But he’ll boldly risk life and limb in order to save his girlfriend Annet and her sister Maria. The chilly night air sends tingles up and down his body as if someone took electrical wires and brushed them against the back of his neck. There is much terror and pain before him, but this is the life of a Belmont… the destiny of Richter Belmont!


Repeat, "It's not Dracula X: Rondo of Blood"
Repeat, “It’s not Dracula X: Rondo of Blood”






The boomerang holy cross is my favorite
The boomerang holy cross is my favorite






Richter Belmont’s less than athletic control can be a bit off putting at first but thankfully, having a sub-weapon like the axe certainly evens the odds up a bit.


And what would a Castlevania game be without bloody annoying bats that fly and swoop at ‘cha? This is definitely where you’ll miss the incredibly versatile whipping skills of Simon Belmont. Without question this makes Dracula X harder.


The skeletons in Dracula X are a bit more nimble than the ones we saw in Super Castlevania IV. The ones here tend to leap around like Mexican jumping beans.


I’ve heard many complaints over the SNES version of Dracula X, but here is one major win. Remember how frustrating it was to lose your favorite sub-weapon by accidentally touching another one? Dracula X gives you a few seconds to pick up your previous weapon should you grab (accidentally or not) another weapon. Brilliant.


Believe it or not, this guy ain’t a boss! In fact, you can’t even kill it. All you can do is walk as briskly as you can (‘coz you know, Belmont boys just don’t run). This is a neat twist on forced scrolling. Of course, you’ll be required to make some pixel-perfect jumps, which if successful, will land Richter right on the edge of the platform. Get used to it.

Clash of the Titans would be proud
Clash of the Titans would be proud


Level two opens with a bang as your ears are suddenly treated to a familiar tune. If this doesn’t get you feeling all tingly inside, you are without pulse.


Murderous merman and bridges that break — all classic staples of the famed Castlevania franchise!


The drawbridge lowers as you reach the end… it’s another nod to Super Castlevania IV fans!


I love this barrel chucking enemy. In general I just love  when games add a wrinkle or two to their bad guys. Little touches here and there helps to spice a game up.


And of course, what would a Castlevania game be without a haunted castle hallway?


Their shields are no match for your knives. I like how you can pick this fool off safely from this perch.


A new feature in Dracula X is the Weapon Crash. This allows Richter to launch an all-out assault of his sub-weapon. It inflicts more damage but eats up more hearts, too. Each Weapon Crash is different and has its own strengths and shortcomings.


The Spear Men are a true menace. It could easily be Game Over if you find yourself surrounded by a couple of these purple bastards.


In true Castlevania fashion, certain blocks can be destroyed. This may unlock hidden goodies such as meat. So swing your whip around — you never know when you might find a breakable block.


This gigantic vampire bat is the second boss you’ll face. He looks rather nasty but his bark is bigger than his bite. Whack him down to size. Literally.


Although Richter doesn’t control as well as Simon did, he does have at least two moves on Simon: backflipping and the moonwalk. Both come in handy at various points, as you can imagine. F’rinstance, moonwalking does wonders here.

A familiar face (or two) from the past.
A familiar face (or two) from the past.


How I loathe those bloody annoying Medusa Heads. Use the Pillar Bones to give yourself a boost.


ARRGGHHH! The Spear Men are almost as annoying as the Medusa Heads. By the way, it’s amazing how they can poke a spear through that thick block but I digress.




You gotta love moments like this. You know the programmers had some fun here. I’ve always preferred the cross AKA boomerang but Holy Water has its uses as well ;)


Super Castlevania IV features 11 stages while Dracula X has nine, but you can only trek through seven at a time. Levels four and five have two different levels you can take, depending on what you do (or don’t do). And this will also change the outcome of the game. Yes, there are three possible endings: best, OK and bad. Nice!


You’ll secure the best ending only if you can save both Annet and Maria as well as slay Dracula. It’s a tall task. If you lose a life, the key is lost for all eternity!

How can one not love Castlevania?
How can one not love Castlevania?










Unintentional humor abounds when Richter’s arm goes straight through the door. Oops!


Remember how Super Castlevania IV grants you a brief moment of invincibility after taking damage? Not so here. Like I said, everything is harder in this game by a considerable amount.


Sweet background. I’m a sucker for anything ancient ruins. This is the alternative level five by the way.

Go back to The Land Before Time, Long Neck!
Go back to The Land Before Time, Long Neck!







This huge pile of Bone Pillars, while intimidating, is no match for Richter Belmont. The final showdown is almost at hand. But before you can take on Dracula, you must first contend with an old friend named DEATH. They don’t call him that for nothing, believe you me. It might be Richter’s fate as well as your controller’s as well, if you get my drift.


To say that Dracula X is a difficult game is a gross understatement. It will test your will, possibly breaking it too. At times I was cursing like a sailor. It’s not really my style but the pixel-perfect required jumps, swooping bats, Medusa Heads, and Richter’s somewhat stiff mobility led to many moments of frustration.



After beating Super Castlevania IV for the first time ever back on April 29, 2006, I decided to fire up Dracula X the very next day. I was enjoying it somewhat at first until I made it to the boss of level four. He’s got two forms. Frustrated, I vented on a gaming board and it was there that an old internet pal urged me to stick it out with Dracula X.

Glad I listened to my friend!
Glad I listened to my friend!

He defended it, saying it’s got a stilted gameplay system that forces you to be absolutely perfect if there is any hope of win. Somehow, the sentence stuck with me. I decided to stick with Dracula X, and that fateful night finally defeated the Cloak boss.

Not on my watch...
Not on my watch…

I would go on to face DEATH who absolutely destroyed me more times than I dare count, but then I got locked into the proverbial zone. I ended up perfecting his ass and went on to defeat Dracula for the very first time. I don’t think I could ever accomplish that again. It was exhilarating.

Beating Dracula was a rush!
Beating Dracula was a rush!


By the way, a special shout out to this bad guy. He’s not a boss but he’s one of my favorites. It’s a shame that he only appears once. He’s sort of like the Abobo or Andore of Dracula X.


Many claim the Dracula showdown in this game to be among the toughest in the franchise. Initially, I would agree. But not so if you know where to position yourself properly…

Konami did bosses like few other firms could
Konami did bosses like few other firms could


It's impossible to think of  Super Castlevania IV and...
It’s hard to think of Super Castlevania IV and…
... NOT smile. It's a proven fact, oh yeah
NOT smile. SNES Dracula X on the other hand…

Almost everyone adores Super Castlevania IV, but the same can’t be said for the SNES version of Dracula X. It’s been knocked over the years and its reception is a mixed bag. When compared to the superior PC-Engine original, the SNES version falls short. You’ll find just as much criticism as you’d find praise for this game.

It made for one hell of a sweet cover, though
It made for one hell of a sweet cover, though

However, Dracula X fared slightly better with most gaming publications. EGM gave it scores of 6.5, 6.5, 7 and 7. GameFan gave it ratings of 82, 84 and 93%. Super Play rated it 80%. So while it didn’t quite live up to the lofty Castlevania standards set before it, it still earned fairly respectable marks.

Well summarized by those Super Play chums
Well summarized by those Super Play chums


"FANGS" for the memories. Sorry... [Oh dear -Ed.]
“FANGS” for the memories. Sorry… [Oh dear -Ed.]
Not having played the PC-Engine import, I’m unable to compare the SNES version. This is perhaps a blessing in disguise. However, coming off the heels of playing through Super Castlevania IV, I had to put that aside and judge Dracula X on its own merits. The game grew on me before I knew it. Do I wish we got a proper Castlevania sequel with 1995 SNES trimmings instead? Of course. But so many times I feel we can focus too much on what wasn’t instead of enjoying what is. And Dracula X is, in my opinion, a fine action adventure. Once I adjusted to the difficulty level and the stilted control of Richter Belmont, I found myself inching closer to Dracula step by step as I disposed of his cronies one at a time. Most importantly, I found myself having a pretty good time.

It has plenty to offer if you enter with the right mindset
It has plenty to offer if entered with the right mindset

Being that it’s Halloween time, I’ve been replaying the two Super Nintendo Castlevania games all month long. I’ll always love the first game and I’ve come to appreciate the second one over the years. Taken for what it is and judged on its own merits, there’s plenty to like. While not the Konami swan song we were all hoping for in their final Super Nintendo Castlevania offering, it’s still a pretty good game at its core. One that is worthy enough to be in any Super Nintendo library and deserving to be played every Halloween season or so. If you’re looking for a challenging action game with awesome music and a wickedly macabre atmosphere, then you’ve found a pretty good candidate here. Stick with it and you might find you’re glad that you did. Finally, two tips to help enhance your Dracula X experience: 1). Turn off all the lights and 2). Tell yourself it’s not the PC-Engine original or a sequel to Super Castlevania IV. Happy demon slaying and happy Halloween!

Graphics: 8
Sound: 9
Gameplay: 7.5
Longevity: 6.5

AwardOverall: 7.5
Bronze Award




Nosferatu (SNES)

Pub & Dev: Seta | October 1995 | 16 MEGS
Pub & Dev: Seta | October 1995 | 16 MEGS

Although it was released in 1995, Nosferatu had been in development for years prior and was originally scheduled to be released much earlier. It can best be described as Prince of Persia meets a mix of Castlevania and Splatterhouse. There weren’t a great deal of dark games on the Super Nintendo. So as a fan of the macabre, this was one game I definitely had my eye on back in the day. The lovely magazine previews made it seem like a can’t miss affair. Did it live up to the hype I created inside my gaming heart all those years ago? Sadly, especially considering the lengthy delays, the answer is an emphatic NO. But that doesn’t mean it’s not without some merit. Since we’re in the middle of Halloween season, I can’t think of a better time than now to take a closer look at what SHOULD have been one of the Super Nintendo’s unsung treasures.



Man, do I remember the magazine previews for this game. I would just stare at the previews in awe, thinking to myself back in the early-mid ’90s, “All these cute and colorful SNES games are nice and all but where are the darker, more mature titles at?” One glance at this game and it was like Seta had read my mind. But Nosferatu remained in developmental hell year after year. You began to wonder if it would ever see the light of day. After years of delay, Seta finally released it in October of 1995. Better late than never, right…


I wanted so badly to play Nosferatu back in the day but I somehow never did. My brother and I bought an issue of SWAT Pro Magazine once and it featured an amazing eight page breakdown of Nosferatu. I must have read those eight pages over 100 times. From the macabre visuals to the maze maneuvering, it looked like a game tailored made for my monster and adventure loving heart. Sadly, as I said, I never got around to playing Nosferatu as a kid. It came out pretty late in the Super Nintendo’s lifespan — by the fall of 1995 I was more concerned with navigating the murky waters of junior high than keeping tabs with the latest SNES releases. I eventually donated my SNES to my cousin David in ’98 or ’99. But things came full circle when I repurchased the system on January 17, 2006. Nosferatu was one of the earlier games I bought (February 8, 2006). At long last, it was time to quell a childhood curiosity that had stood for over 10 years.

Wait, I didn't see these monsters in the final version...
Wait I didn’t see these monsters in the final version…

Cool looking monsters, right? Sadly, you don’t see any of these huge beasts in the game. And see how our hero looks like he’s firing some sort of voodoo projectile at the two-headed behemoth there? Looks pretty rad, right? But nowhere in the actual game is it found! Who knows why, but seeing these early shots bring a tear to my eye knowing what could have been












Be sure to watch the 1922 silent film or 1979 version
Be sure to watch the 1922 silent film or 1979 version





Nosferatu features a very basic power-up system. Kyle’s fighting prowess increases as you collect crystals found via treasure chests or slain beasts. Sadly, the gems are rather scarce and it’s far too easy to lose them, especially when facing Frankenstein or those damn floating eye balls.


Collect these items as you go along to aid you in your quest. Be sure to explore everywhere. The green gem is highly valuable since it adds new bars to your life. You’ll need every last one!


The first stage is simple, introducing you to the game mechanics by putting you at ease and setting the somber mood proper. Later stages, however, have branching paths to wade through.

Theres a slight puzzle element to the game
There’s a slight puzzle element to the game
Which one is it going to be?
Which one is it going to be?

Hmmm, shall I take the brightly lit stairs leading up or the dark stairs leading down filled with beastly growls? [For you, take the dark stairs leading down… -Ed.]

Lots of doors in Nosferatu to navigate through
Lots of doors in Nosferatu to navigate through
Its not just a mindless action game
It’s not just a mindless action game
Look for blocks and walls to push
Look for blocks and walls to push
Jigsaw would be proud
Jigsaw would be proud
REALLY proud
REALLY proud
Careful there, Kyle!
Careful there, Kyle!
Watch out for the monsters. Speaking of which...
Watch out for the monsters. Speaking of which…
Perfect for Halloween
Perfect for Halloween
Reminds me of Altered Beast...
Reminds me of Altered Beast


Kyle is dumped unceremoniously in this little holding cell
Kyle is dumped unceremoniously in this holding cell
You find a way out but quickly learn you're not alone...
You find a way out but quickly learn you’re not alone
Well then, have a little...
Well then, have a little…



















Animation is pretty top-notch stuff. I love the detail of the prisoner reaching out there…













Pocket the treasure and quickly high tail it! Something is definitely not right here…

Kyle wants no part in a human centipede
Kyle wants no part in a human centipede







Attention to detail is surely impressive. You gotta love the female begging there. Dare enter the dark room there?





One of the most atmospheric SNES games around
One of the most atmospheric 16-bit games around


Get a good running start and slide. Otherwise, BAM!
Get a good running start and slide. Otherwise, BAM!


Get the red gem to increase your fighting strength
Get the red gem to increase your fighting strength







Better time this correctly or else!







Kyle’s got bigger problems to worry about than falling… such as Frankie’s fists!



Ah, out of the decrepit hell hole and you find yourself on the outskirts of the forest on a cool chilly night. If you guess this is the prelude to the first boss battle, then you my friend are correct.



Slightly reminiscent of Antonio from Streets of Rage
Slightly reminiscent of Antonio from Streets of Rage
Ah, the memories
Or maybe it’s just me :P
Luckily for you he is as dumb as a box of rocks
Luckily for you he is as dumb as a box of rocks
Clever! And very cool, too
Clever! And very cool, too
Get too close and he'll toss you around like a rag doll
Get too close and he’ll toss you around like a rag doll
[Yeah, that line always works... -Ed.]
[Yeah, that line always works… -Ed.]
We're certainly off to a good, memorable start
We’re certainly off to a solid, memorable start…


An eye for an eye... [You're fired -Ed.]
An eye for an eye… [You’re fired -Ed.]
This guy is super annoying. You can only jump kick him to death. Not bad until you factor in it’s hard to do that. If you are carrying gems, you’ll lose a few when he knocks you down. Cheap as hell…

Whew, too close for comfort!
Whew, too close for comfort!
ProTip: Do NOT play Red Rover with Frankie
ProTip: Do NOT play Red Rover with Frankie
Unless you like losing your gems!
Unless you like losing your gems!
On paper it sounds great. In execution however...
On paper it sounds great. In execution however…
Seta were clearly fans of FLOCK OF SEAGULLS
Seta were clearly fans of FLOCK OF SEAGULLS

I couldn’t get away!

Reached out a hand to touch your face.
You’re slowly disappearing from my view.
Disappearing from my view.

And I ran.
I ran so far away.
I just ran.
I ran all night and day.
I couldn’t get away!

First Frankie, now Mummy. Monster quota is being met
First Frankie, now Mummy. Monster quota being met
See, video games can be eductational
See, video games can be educational
Don't play hero, Kyle. Get the hell outta dodge!
Don’t play hero, Kyle. Get the hell outta dodge!
"Oh crap, cramp cramp!  One second please..."
“Oh crap — cramp! One second please…”
Love how deformed and raggedly he looks
Love how deformed and raggedly he looks
Reappearing obstacles, check
Reappearing obstacles, check


These little moments where the action speeds up and the sense of urgency increases is where the game delivers most.







Puzzles aren’t very taxing. Push a block to activate the switch which opens the door there. Nonetheless, it adds some flavor instead of being your typical platformer.

Maybe Kyle should have played in the NFL
Maybe Kyle should have played in the NFL
Is that Sanda and Gaira?!
Is that Sanda and Gaira?!
The War of the Gargantuas (1966)
The War of the Gargantuas (1966)
Ouch. Kyle will feel that one in the morning
Ouch. Kyle will feel that one in the morning













Nosferatu has some nice cutscenes. I love how we catch a very brief glimpse of the vampire himself, watching and stalking Kyle from his tower…

'Tis a shame
‘Tis a shame


"WHOA BRO! Someone could use a Tic Tac..."
“WHOA BRO! Someone could use a Tic Tac…”




Please don't let me fall again...
Please don’t let me fall again…

See that little opening there up top? This is a pretty cool spot where you need to stop and ponder first before jumping and going at it all gung-ho. It’s hard to explain but it’s moments like this that I love navigating.

Pick the right box or else...
Pick the right box or else…


Wall spikes
Wall spikes
Ceiling spikes
Ceiling spikes
Floor spikes
Floor spikes





Climb down to peek below before you jump
Climb down to peek below before you jump
Haste makes waste
Haste makes waste

Inch your way by walking instead of running. This allows you to see things and obstacles to come.

Keep Kyle alert and ready to strike at all times
Keep Kyle alert and ready to strike at all times
Try every door. You never know what you may find...
Try every door. You never know what you may find…
ProTip: Avoid falling great distances [Thanks -Ed.]
ProTip: Avoid falling great distances [Thanks… -Ed.]
Keep your distance from bone wielding zombies
Keep your distance from bone wielding zombies
Make your first strike a jump kick to certain enemies
Make your first strike a jump kick to certain enemies
Dont rub the belly
Don’t rub the belly. Trust me on that one


This handy cheat saves this game somewhat. It allows you to sample the later levels which the programmers at Seta made damn difficult to reach naturally. Levels 4-6 are INSANELY brutal. Even on Easy, it ain’t. Far from it! Part of it is due to the stiff control. Here are some other great cheats:

  • Maximize HealthDo spinning kick, pause, Up, X, right, A, down, B, left, Y
  • Maximize Power CrystalsPause, Up, X, right, A, down, B, left, Y
  • [GAME GENIE]  Don’t Lose Crystals When HitC265-3DBD
  • [GAME GENIE]  Almost Infinite EnergyC9BA-1F04



To nobody’s surprise, GameFan once again went semi-gaga over a game that both EGM and Super Play were both less forgiving and a bit harsher toward. That is the case 9 times out of 10. Expect GameFan to dole out the more generous scores while EGM and especially Super Play were harder to impress. EGM scored it 6.5, 6.5, 7.0 and 7.0. GameFan gave it ratings of 80, 85 and 88%. Super Play rated it 75%. Nosferatu is a mixed bag among SNES fans. Most tend to dig its macabre and ghoulish atmosphere, but it’s hampered by stiff gameplay and an absurdly high level of (cheap) difficulty.

Oh and here are GamePros thoughts :P
Oh and here are GamePro’s two cents :P


Not quite what I wanted it to be...
Not quite what I wanted it to be…

I vividly remember drooling at all of the Nosferatu previews and screenshots back in the day, thinking to myself what a cool and awesome game it must be. It looked like an enticing hybrid of such beloved games like Prince of Persia, Castlevania and Splatterhouse. “How could this game be anything but fantastic!?” I thought. Fast forward nearly 15 years later to the year 2009. I finally quelled my Nosferatu curiosity and I’m sad to say it fell way short of my expectations. Although I try my best to play a game for the very first time with a blank canvas in mind, admittedly I do enter select video games with certain hopes. I thought to myself that Nosferatu would surely be a “hidden gem.” I came into it believing it would play like a game that deserves no less than a strong 8 out of 10 score. Sometimes a game will meet my expectations. Other times it may even exceed. And then sadly, there are times where the game falls below par and you shake your head at what a missed opportunity. I wish I could tell you Nosferatu belongs somewhere in the first two categories but it plops itself into the tragic, heartbreaking third category. That’s not to say Nosferatu isn’t without its good points. The graphics are pretty cool and although the scenery appears somewhat repetitive, the visuals really give this game a unique and somber mood that fits in perfectly with this time of the year (Halloween season). The music suits it well and adds to the atmosphere. And unlike other similar games on the SNES, Nosferatu scrolls rather than flicking between screens. When fighting the monsters, the third and final right cross from Kyle results in a semi-slow motion cinematic blow, which only adds to the Hammer Horror B-Movie feel.

Eat your heart out, Criss Angel
Eat your heart out, Criss Angel

It’s a shame then that the controls aren’t nearly as responsive as one would hope. The rotoscope animation is lovely but controlling Kyle is a bit of a pain. To run you double tap but it’s way harder than it oughta be. Why not make “R” run? In the later levels there are tough traps and cruel enemy placements galore that, combined with the less-than-stellar control, makes the game far harder than it should be. The sick looking demons and set pieces are top-notch for the most part but you just wish the game plays as well as it looks. The gameplay isn’t innovative — it borrows heavily from past games in the genre and the puzzles aren’t that taxing. But the lack of control and insane difficulty really puts a damper on things. I wanted to like Nosferatu so much. On the surface, it looks like it has all the makings to be a great obscure gem that somehow fell through the cracks. But then you play it and you realize why nobody ever really talks about it (outside of Halloween season). I still like it and it’s certainly a game I’ll pull off the shelf every October for a go or two… well, at least for the first two levels, anyhow. But there will always be a part of me that can’t help but think, “Oh what could have been.” Especially given all the delays. Oh well, you can’t win them all. While Nosferatu has its moments, I’m sad to say that all things considered it’s probably my most disappointing Super Nintendo game of all time.

Graphics: 8.5
Sound: 8.5
Gameplay: 6
Longevity: 6

Overall: 6.0

Oh what could have been indeed...
Oh what could have been indeed…
Whoa, this just became a disturbing fan fic...
Whoa, this just became a disturbing fan fic…

It’s late in the evening; she’s wondering what clothes to wear.
She puts on her make-up and brushes her long blonde hair.
And then she asks me, “Do I look all right?”
And I say, “Yes, you look wonderful tonight.”

We go to a party and everyone turns to see
This beautiful lady that’s walking around with me.
And then she asks me, “Do you feel all right?”
And I say, “Yes, I feel wonderful tonight.”

I feel wonderful because I see
The love light in your eyes.
And the wonder of it all
Is that you just don’t realize how much I love you.

It’s time to go home now and I’ve got an aching head,
So I give her the car keys and she helps me to bed.
And then I tell her, as I turn out the light,
I say, “My darling, you were wonderful tonight.
Oh my darling, you were wonderful tonight.”

SNES Halloween Special

I'm getting a Silver Shamrock flashback here...
I’m getting a Silver Shamrock flashback here…

Growing up I was a huge fan of all things Halloween-related. My favorite month of the year was October. I just love the fall season. Everything from falling leaves to all the ghoulish sights around town and of course, the feeling of excitement as you count down to the night of nights… HALLOWEEN! “8 more days to Halloween, Halloween, Halloween. 8 MORE DAYS TO HALLOWEEN — SILVER SHAMROCK!” Argh! GET IT OUT OF MY HEAD!!! Ahem, sorry.


SNES just a kiddie system? I beg to differ
SNES just a kiddie system? I beg to differ

If there was one thing I loved just as much as Halloween back in the day, it was without a shadow of doubt the Super Nintendo. The SNES has been known as a “kiddie” system especially when compared to the Sega Genesis, which featured more darker, mature titles. While it’s true that the SNES didn’t have as many as the Genesis had, that doesn’t mean it was completely devoid of “darker” games. Tonight, I’m proud to highlight 35 games that SNES fans can play this month of October in preparation for Halloween. Not all these games are great or even necessarily “mature” or “darker,” but they certainly fit the mood of the season in general. Some of these games are classic mainstays while there are a few you might have never heard of. I hope this inspires you to dig up a few SNES games to play this Halloween season.

Happy Halloween gaming!
Happy Halloween gaming!

There is something real special about gaming around this time of the year. The rainy days, shorter days and longer nights create an atmosphere conducive to staying in and snuggling up with old gaming favorites by the fire, or discovering some new ones for the first time! Perhaps this list will introduce you to a few new titles to throw into your Halloween rotation. Without further ado, let’s begin the countdown in alphabetical order. Here are 35 Super Nintendo games to play during the month of October!



They’re creepy and they’re kooky. Mysterious and spooky. Ah, you know the rest. Released in March 1992 from Ocean, this was one of the earlier Super Mario World clones during the Super Nintendo’s infancy. It’s got quite a few fans. It’s obviously not nearly as polished and awesome as Super Mario World — I’m not a big fan of its somewhat slippery control or overly brutal difficulty, but it’s definitely not too shabby. It’s got a ton of secrets and you can tell the programmers had a blast making this one — hell, they said so themselves. Worth a look if you like your platformers difficult and somewhat quirky.



The follow up to The Addams Family, Pugsley’s Scavenger Hunt also has its fair share of fans. It’s quite an upgrade visually, but I think I actually prefer the first game. The programmers were quoted once saying that they tried to recapture the “magic” of the first game but just couldn’t with this game. Nevertheless, it’s decent enough to kill a few hours with. And if you’re going to give this a try, might as well do it during October.



The last in the SNES trilogy, Addams Family Values switches it up a bit by being an action RPG rather than a typical platformer. It sounds and looks enticing on paper, but unfortunately it’s something of a slight disappointment. I remember back in the day being super hyped for this. Uncle Fester in a Link to the Past clone? Sign me up! The main issue is the lack of a backup battery. Sure, it’s got a password system, but these passwords are scarce. On top of that, they’re awfully long and cumbersome. On the bright side, the game has a nice atmosphere for October, and the gameplay itself is generally fairly solid. If there was ever a game meant for using save states, it’s this one. Still, it’s the best of the SNES Addams Family trilogy.



Ah, the early-mid ’90s. I love that era of video gaming. It was a period in time that was ransack with Mario clones left and right. Some of these games were great, some were just OK and others were better left forgotten. The Adventures of Dr. Franken is one of those forgotten platformers lost in the “me too” SNES crowd of the early-mid ’90s. This is just what the doctor ordered, or not. I wanted to like it but ended up rather disappointed. It’s not unplayable, but it’s probably the weakest game on this list. It’s better than terrible crud like Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Musya, though. By the way, none of those games are on this list because they are truly terrifying (to play).

#5: ALIEN³


All right, now we’re talking! Alien³ is a very solid movie-game adaptation. Just like the ALIEN films, Alien³ has a dark and foreboding feel to it. The aliens come at you fast and furious from all directions, making it a worthy candidate to play late at night with all the lights turned off. The difficulty is a bit steep, but that just makes the whole thing all the more tense. There is a password system and cheat codes to make life a bit easier, if you need it. Sure, it’s a bit repetitive but damn if it ain’t fun blasting an alien in the face with a flame thrower.



The picture above pretty much says it all. But yeah, the mine levels in particular go really well against the backdrop of October’s rainy and dreary days…



Brandish is a classic example of a love or hate game. Give it a shot, because if you’re one of those people who end up loving it, like I do, you are in for a rare treat. Players take on Varik, a bounty hunter who falls into a deep underworld maze filled with 55 different monster breeds roaming the cursed halls. The game’s music and atmosphere does an excellent job convincing you that you are 40 floors buried underneath the surface. As you fight to make your way back to the top, there is a real sense of dread that works well with the Halloween season, not to mention the 55 different monsters. There’s a little something for everyone. From menacing minotaurs to towering dinosaurs to even Death itself — almost every creature imaginable is milling about the hell hole! I beat it almost 10 years ago now, and still to this day it remains a fond memory. Once in a while a game resonates with you in such a way you can’t explain. Brandish is that game for me. If you love atmospheric games and monsters, and like a more methodical action RPG, give it a shot. No better time to than October! It has more than its fair share of creepy moments…



The sequel is bigger as it now features outdoor playing areas, but it’s not necessarily better. I prefer the original but I still enjoyed beating Brandish 2. It’s the first Japanese game on this list as it never left Japan. There is an English fan translation floating out there, and I recommend playing it if you really like the first one. It’s got better visuals and all, but is missing the “magic” of the first game. That’s not to say Brandish 2 isn’t any good. It’s very solid in its own right; it still features monsters and a seedy adventure that goes well with October’s rainy days.



Best to get this out of the way early… OK so it isn’t anywhere as epic as Super Castlevania IV. And yes, you can’t help but wonder what if Konami had made a proper sequel using their SNES know-how by 1995. Got you drooling a bit there, eh? Well, Dracula X isn’t quite up to those standards, BUT it is a pretty solid (and damn difficult) action game, with Konami’s signature stellar soundtrack. In my book, Dracula X doesn’t get nearly the credit it deserves, and it’s just good enough to warrant firing up every October…



You cannot talk about Halloween SNES games without bringing up Clock Tower. Hands down the most frightening game on the system, this is where the epic Scissorman story began. Who would ever believe that a Super Nintendo title can make your heart skip a beat? But play this at 2 in the morning with all the lights turned off and it just might genuinely creep you out. The game has an uneasy feel to it — Scissorman popping up randomly is the main reason why! Just an awesome survival horror game and a must play for the Halloween season.



Pocky & Rocky fans rejoice. This game is ultra bizarre. I mean, where else can you kill Asian hopping vampires, astronauts on Mars, giant bamboo eating pandas, vile rotting zombies, aliens, ninjas, knights and Bruce Lee wannabes — all the while transforming into a large steroid-injected muscle maniac who oh yeah JUST happens to be the spirit of your deceased father?!? Intrigued? If you are not then you have no pulse! Love the subtle Halloween vibes it has, too.



One of the most underrated SNES games around, once upon a time, anyhow. In the past 10 years, I’ve seen Demon’s Crest get the adulation it deserved back in the mid ’90s. On top of excelling in all the basic video game categories, Demon’s Crest exudes atmosphere and coolness like very few other SNES games. Playing as a winged demon that collects orbs, changes form accordingly and breathes fire is too damn badass, y’know?

#13: DOOM


When Doom exploded on the scene back in 1993, it took the gaming nation by storm. As great as Wolfenstein 3D was, Doom was that much better. Ask any gamer over the age of 30 or so and they’ll regale you with a Doom tale from their childhood. In 1995 Doom was ported to the Super Nintendo to mixed reviews. I didn’t like it back then because I couldn’t shake the fact that it was far inferior compared to the original PC game. 15 years later, 2010, I bought the game and came to appreciate the port for what it is. Naturally there were many sacrifices. The game only features 22 maps and there is no save or password feature. Despite this, it’s still impressive what they were able to pull off considering the limitations of the hardware. On a side note, the Japanese Super Famicom version is superior due to the fact that it allows you to start off on any episode on any difficulty level. You can start on any episode in the US version, but the later episodes require you to play it at a higher difficulty level.



This isometric action adventure is packed with epic music from Tim Follin and a haunting atmosphere that makes it an ideal Halloween selection. It is damn difficult, though, but well worth persevering through. It allows you to save the game at any point, which makes the rather high difficulty a little more bearable. Each level requires you to collect keys to open up the various locked gates. Grabbing these keys can be one hell of a challenge, and sometimes just finally grabbing one particularly elusive key is satisfying enough to call it a night. It’s one of those games that you can play and enjoy for 20 minutes or 2 hours. I wish there were more games like this on the SNES but at least we’ll always have Equinox.



I was intrigued by this game the day I saw EGM previewing it in early 1993. It looked different than most of your average “bright” SNES games. First Samurai is dark and has a dreary foreboding look to it. When I finally tried it in 2006, I wasn’t much disappointed. I never expected a stellar game, but just a fun adequate one. And that First Samurai is. From its abnormal enemies to the “Hallelujah!” song and “OH NO! MY SWORD!” sound effect, First Samurai just has a different feel from your typical SNES game, and is one I enjoy playing in October. The game’s mood fits this time of the year perfectly. Try it for yourself. It’s not good enough to be considered a hidden gem or anything, but it’s one of those funky little games that leaves you going, “Hey, that was kind of fun in a weird sort of way…”



A highly difficult game that seems passable at first but is made somewhat worthy when playing with a friend (as one can block and one can attack). Not my first choice to play for Halloween, but you can’t deny Kitarou’s strong Halloween spirit. Check it out only if you can, but don’t go out of your way to.



A surprisingly solid action game based off a manga. Too many times such efforts are hack jobs and cheap attempts to cash-in. Ghost Sweeper Mikami, on the other hand, is handled well. It won’t rock your world but it’s fairly fun and you gotta love its ghoulish look and spooky atmosphere. A great choice to play in October.



LucasArts tried to reinvent the magic of Zombies Ate My Neighbors with this differently named “sequel.” Unfortunately, they didn’t succeed on that end. But, not all is lost. Ghoul Patrol has some decent things going for it. It’s just nowhere as good or fun as the original. However, this game is much more forgiving, allowing you to advance much further in the game even when you go at it alone. All in all, it’s not a shabby sequel but it’s missing considerably the fluidity and charm of Zombies Ate My Neighbors.



A Super Famicom pinball game that centers around demons, monsters and the occult. The last in the Crush trilogy (Alien Crush and Devil’s Crush), Jaki Crush is full of Halloween-esque sights. If you enjoy video game pinball then you’re sure to have a good time with this.



This game goes hand-in-hand with Halloween. It’s not quite the epic action game I was hoping it might be, but it’s pretty solid and gives us Super Nintendo fanatics one more sinister game to enjoy. You can transform into various demon forms — giving it an Altered Beast feel. At first glance it appears to be a cross between Castlevania and Resident Evil. As long as you leave your lofty expectations at the door, Majyuuou (AKA King of Demons) is a ghoulishly fun time.



I love the SNES port of Mortal Kombat II. My bro bought it when it came out back in September of 1994, so I have fond memories of playing it during Halloween season that same year. Characters like Baraka and stages like the haunted forest give it a lovely Halloween spirit. FINISH HIM!!



Nosferatu is one of those games I studied and drooled over in gaming mags way back in the day… only to finally play some 15+ years later and find out that, sadly, it fell short of the gem my mind had built it up to be. Nevertheless, it’s not all bad. In fact, it’s decent (at least, for the first couple levels before the difficulty becomes far too daunting). It’s not the superb smooth playing Castlevania meets Prince of Persia mix I was hoping for, but you can’t win them all. Still, I love the macabre atmosphere and it’s fun to play the first two or three levels during Halloween time.



A widely regarded Super Nintendo classic that’s worth playing any time but especially during Halloween time. Better yet, it’s even more fun with two skilled players at the helm. Yeah it’s not the first SNES game you associate Halloween with, but it’s got that nice subtle ghoulish touch to it. Be forewarned though, it’s not as easy as it looks. It’s actually quite difficult and requires much practice to excel at. But damn if it isn’t fun.

#24: POCKY & ROCKY 2


Natsume released a sequel the following year (1994) to solid reviews. There are some nice new features that makes this a worthy follow up to the classic original. These new features include multiple paths within the levels and partners. When you talk about great 2-player co-op SNES games, you gotta talk about the Pocky & Rocky series. They’re great fun to play whenever, but especially during October.



Not great by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s a decent little platformer that came out late in the SNES’ lifespan. Therefore, it was overlooked even more. It’s no Super Mario World, but I do enjoy its wacky levels and it’s an underrated Halloween choice. An interesting aspect of the game is that the weather changes every time you turn it on, and often weather will vary during the game itself. From one level to the next, it may be raining, snowing, or sunny, and may have summer, autumn, or winter color schemest. Overall, you could do far worse than Porky Pig’s Haunted Holiday.



Gritty, grimy and great for October. For goodness sake, you start the game out by waking up on a slab in a morgue… suffering from amnesia. Talk about morbid and sordid. The control takes some getting used to, but the game’s cyberpunk feel is what makes it special. Shadowrun is a very unique game and something I wish the SNES saw more of. I have very fond memories of playing it on a rainy Halloween night of 2014. The game’s gritty “shady city” atmosphere fits in perfectly with the mood of Halloween.



Shin Megami Tensei isn’t for everyone — it’s a rather plodding first person RPG from the early days of 1992. But its sordid universe suits the Halloween season very well. You can recruit enemies to be your allies, and you can either side with the angels, the demons or go neutral. If you can withstand the somewhat slow nature of the game, it’s a rather fascinating and morbid trip through a hellish Tokyo. Note: it can be downright brutally difficult at times. You could be walking along destroying enemies easily but just as easily get in a battle with a monster that wipes out your party in no time flat. Be sure to save often!



More of the same, but now faster and more accessible. If you enjoyed the first game then you’re sure to like this one, too. Naturally, the monsters, demons and devils make both Shin Megami Tensei games ideal to play during the month of October. They do require a bit of patience and perseverance, but the payoff is substantial — very few SNES games are as thought-provoking and politically incorrect.



This is the first title that jumps to mind right away when I think of SNES Halloween games. And why not, seeing as it has practically every creature of the night represented on its monster roll call. Featuring a stunning soundtrack, great graphics (for its time specifically) and satisfying gameplay mechanics, it’s a bloody sin not to, at the very least, pop this game in for a quick go every October. Turn off the lights, grab that ancient magical Belmont whip and hack away at mummies, frankensteins, and oh yeah, Dracula himself, as you try to eviscerate the Prince of Darkness and his minions one more time. It doesn’t get any better than that, folks. An essential Super Nintendo classic that is perfect for Halloween.



Long before Resident Evil and even Sweet Home, this was Capcom’s first original “horror” franchise. And a mighty fine one it is, too. Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts sports a high difficulty (but somewhat overrated in my humble opinion, at least, on easy mode). Featuring stunning graphics (mind, for 1991 standards) and sound, this game always delights and is a reminder of the Super Nintendo’s early GLORY days. You absolutely can’t go wrong giving this some October play time.



The Twisted Tales of Spike McFang is a super short yet sweet game that you ought to play if you haven’t already. It’s so criminally short that it can be beaten in a measly 3 to 4 hours. Players control Spike McFang, a young vampire warrior in the making. A very good game that scores high on the fun and quirky scale.



Warlock has a nice creepy, ominous atmosphere going for it. It’s not the greatest game around, but it’s got its moments. There are various spells at your disposal and there is some strategy and sorcery at play here. Not your typical hop ‘n bop platformer, which I appreciate. Give it a try. A low key under the radar choice.



You transform into a wolf and shoot down bad guys like empty tin cans sitting on a fence. Wolfchild is a bit reminiscent of Werewolf (NES) and perhaps even Altered Beast (Genesis). Decent fun to be had and worth playing through at least once for the diehard SNES fanatic. A forgotten game that was lost in the me-too SNES crowd of early-mid 1990s, but not forgotten to RVGFanatic!



While this game may not seem like a “Halloween title” right off the bat, I ask you, where else can you pump mutant chunks full of lead in a mere matter of 10 seconds? In my book, there are few adrenaline rushes on the SNES quite like the one that Wolfenstein provides. With its many menacing monsters and large labyrinths, this is a solid choice to play during the Halloween season. Besides, you gotta love its scare-inducing sound — I’ve flinched more than once when turning a seemingly innocent corner only to be greeted by the loud crack of gunfire and a gravelly, sharpSTOP!”



What a perfect game to end this list. It’s impossible to talk about Halloween SNES games and not think of Zombies Ate My Neighbors almost immediately. When this game dropped on our laps back in late 1993, man, none of us knew what a cult classic it would become. It goes along perfectly with all the horror movies you’ll watch throughout October as many of its enemies are knock-offs of various horror movie villains. Whether it’s the evil doll Chucky, the lumbering brute Jason or cheerleader snatching aliens, it’s a veritable who’s who of horror movie icon lore. Zombies Ate My Neighbors shines best when playing with a buddy. It’s couch co-op gaming at its finest. It may feel cheap at times, but with a skilled friend in tow it’s still one zombie blasting good time. Perfect, indeed, for the Halloween season.



Ah, Halloween. How I love thee. There’s just something magical about this season that I absolutely adore. I hope you enjoyed going through this list, recalling old Halloween Super Nintendo favorites in addition to maybe discovering a few new titles to add to your Halloween mix. I’ll always have a special place in my heart for both Halloween and the Super Nintendo. Both have given me countless memories over the years, and deep down inside, there’s a little robust 10 year old boy still yearning for one last great American Halloween adventure. There’s nothing like watching horror movies at night and playing some of these SNES games as I count down the days to Halloween. With that said, there’s really only one thing left to say…

Halloween and Super Nintendo -- good times
Halloween and Super Nintendo — good times