Super Adventure Island II (SNES)

Pub: Hudson | Dev: Make | October 1995 | 16 MEGS
Pub: Hudson | Dev: Make | October 1994 | 16 MEGS

Last month marked the 25th anniversary of Super Adventure Island (released April 1992). It was the most simplistic platformer on the market at the time. For some it was a little too bare bones, but there’s a charm to its simplicity. It was far from being a gem however, as Master Higgins was a little stiff in his movement. In late 1994, Hudson released Super Adventure Island II. I remember seeing the ad in EGM and thinking it looked super cool. It was clearly a platformer but they seem to have added various adventure components to it, making it almost look like an action RPG. Surprisingly, the game came and went with little fanfare. I always wanted to play it, but never did. That was until last month in honor of the 25th anniversary of Super Adventure Island. It was time to finally right a wrong. Better late than never! While Super Adventure Island II may fall a little shy of true “classic” status, it’s a very strong entry into the SNES library, and comes highly recommended.














Lovers torn apart by a vicious storm. Poor Tina has lost her memory.













Master Higgins also lost his memory. Tina stumbles upon a castle where the king falls in love with her. But before he can marry her, a winged fiend captures the lass. Higgins spots this heinous act from far away. Not sure of who she really was, he knew he simply couldn’t stand idly by. Higgins might have lost his memory but he sure didn’t lose his sense of bravery and justice.

Everything a sequel should be
Sequels should be better. This is













Super Adventure Island II is very much a side-scrolling platformer, but there are a few NPCs that you’ll talk with from time to time. This, along with a few other aspects, really help to give it the slightest hint of light action RPG flavor.







There’s even a world map where random encounters occur on occasion. Thankfully, these raft battles are extremely brief and quick. It’s cool the first few times you see them, but pretty soon you’ll breeze through them mindlessly. Still, it was a pretty neat touch that definitely set it apart from other SNES platformers.







Speaking of RPG undertones, there’s even a life recovering gimmick and best of all, a save anywhere option. Unfortunately, regardless of where you save your game when you boot it up it always starts you in front of the king’s castle. A little bit annoying but not the end of the world by any means.







Following the king’s advice, you head southwest to Poka-Poka Island. Battle man eating plants and an enemy that looks an awful lot like Tails. Right away you’re thrown into a fun platforming world that hits all the right notes thus far.







Simply calling it a platformer would be selling it a bit short, however. You soon realize this plays like Super Metroid Ultra Lite. There are certain inaccessible sections of each world that only become accessible after you’ve picked up a certain item or hit the appropriate switch. Sometimes it’s within the same world. Other times it’s in a different one. Thus, you’ll be doing a bit of backtracking. This is one of those games where having a notepad handy nearby would be prudent.







Plaques are scattered throughout which contain vital information. Switches activate or deactivate designated blocks. As you can see from the first shot here, you cannot jump on those blocks until they’ve been activated. By the way, is it just me or does the sound effect of Higgins climbing a rope sound an awful lot like Donald Duck? It never fails to trip me out…







Perfect example of the powers of the (Nintendo) Switch.







Treasure chests abound! Seeing one always provides for a nice jolt of joy. They contain valuable items such as armor, life bottles and swords to name but a few. Yes, I said SWORDS. It all adds to the light RPG undertones of this game.







Before you couldn’t break through with just your fist. But now armed with the Silver Sword, you can. The rock shatters, sending forth a huge wave of water. Now the rest of the level opens up…







Damnit, more teasing blocks. That one has the moon symbol, which is in an entirely different realm. Mark that one in your notes. Later on, you come across a unique set of blocks with arrows pointing down. You won’t be able to access that treasure chest until you learn a certain skill that’s introduced later in the quest. Yup, you’ll definitely want to keep a journal nearby…







Because there’s a fair bit of backtracking to be done, the developers were kind enough to strategically place “teleporters” within each world. You might think that’s an example of one right there but that marker actually opens up a brand new area of this world after you acquire a certain item late in the game. Each world has its own marker waiting to be unlocked toward the end of the game. Meanwhile, some rocks are immune to your Silver Sword and can only be shoved after learning the proper technique.







Nothing feels better than unlocking a previously inaccessible portion of any given level and claiming the latest prize. Life bottles are essential to increase the number of hits you can sustain. Speaking of life, slain enemies may drop small or large health refills. Seeing a large one in particular when you’re on the brink of death never fails to satisfy. Enemies do respawn so one can even farm if they so choose…







There are even side weapons available. The dagger offers sweet long distance pain, but its strength is a fair bit weaker than the mighty sword. It’s a nice trade-off, and I love that there’s no ammo count found anywhere in this game.







Intimidating boss doors are so underrated. Super Adventure Island II delivers it in spades! It just builds up the suspense of what’s to come. The very first boss is a mutant tree which can only be harmed when attacked in the face. All other areas, such as the arms, prove to be ineffective.







Apples are tossed at you in a variety of ways, and it even spits out these nasty little tree babies. It’s a fun little first boss fight — I only wish there was a boss energy bar of some sort.







Defeating each boss leads to the acquisition of a new stone. The first being the Light Stone. These Stones unlock new worlds on the world map.







Princess Tina has a brief message for our hero following each boss conquest. Higgins’ response can be a little jarring since it’s in the same color and there’s nothing to indicate (other than reading it and using common logic) who is speaking. It’s a small gripe but one worth mentioning anyway.













Where to head next is usually pretty obvious, but if you ever get stuck head back to the castle. The king will offer you free tips as to your next destination. Place the Light Stone on the pedestal to break open the next section of the game. Rinse and repeat. This formula can get a bit tedious from time to time, but the game is so short and relatively well paced that the repetition is kept to a bare minimum. Besides, with the save feature handy, simply quit when you feel you’ve reached diminishing returns, and restart your adventure when you feel refreshed and re-energized.







Apparently, Master Higgins is the real He-Man. These challenges lead to a boss fight. Win a special item if you’re victorious; you should be as these battles are very easy.







Locate the hermits scattered throughout and learn various special techniques. The first one allows Higgins to move large rocks. Of course, the hermit will only teach you the tricks of the trade for a fine little fee. Bastard.







Employ the Ice Bell to open up the section of the next world. You can tell by the quirky text that this game doesn’t take itself seriously all that much.







Shoving skill comes in mighty handy. This frozen island is known as Hiya-Hiya. It’s my favorite world — it’s incredibly atmospheric and features the game’s best visuals. Ah, more blocking. As I said before, get ready to take notes and backtrack.













Platformers can sometimes suffer from pixel perfect jumps that are overly difficult to make. Thankfully, Super Adventure Island II is rather generous in that regard. There are a few jumps that don’t initially appear to be enough, but that chubby little lad always manages to get his toes just on the edge. Here you upgrade to the Fire Sword, ideal for the frozen world of Hiya-Hiya.







Swords get progressively stronger and some serve special purposes. It’s nothing advanced or mind-blowing, but it works. Frozen columns can only be shattered by the Fire Sword. Sweet.







Watch out for falling icicles, abominable snowmen, bloodthirsty bats and more. See that entrance there? Unfortunately they don’t lead to brand new playing areas of significance. Instead, they lead to single screen rooms. A longer more branching experience would have taken SAI II to the next level.







Blockage. Bloody blockage. What’s this?! Ah bloody hell. Trick pit!







Special technique to be learned later. Keep that notebook handy nearby. I love the blocks of ice which you can shatter.







Armor in an Adventure Island game?! Adds to the light RPG undertones and it gives Master Higgins a nice new visual flare. You need to find the Star Switch to free that block of ice there. Looking good, Higgins!













Falling down another pit but be sure to veer to the right. After pressing the Star Switch you’ll be able to pick up the Fire Shield in this little alcove here. I know it doesn’t make a bit of difference but I can’t help but switch from the Fire Sword to the Dagger to take out the ice turtle. Why? Why not? ;)







Pushing the block over produces a major hole in the ground which allows you to reach the guardian of this world.







Great sprite work on this massive mastodon. Nail it between the eyes and watch out for its swaying trunk.







Another nice little exchange with Tina. Wish they indicated who’s speaking for the sake of convenience but it’s nothing you can’t discern. Just highlights that perhaps this game was rushed a bit.







Speaking of special, once you locate the Magic Wand you’ll be able to use the various magic tricks that Higgins employ. From this point on you’ll be able to collect magic bottles. Each bottle added automatically opens up the next spell. These range from health refills to offensive strikes. They’re simple and you won’t need to use them too often, but it’s a nice touch regardless. The spell to fly back to the beginning of a world is particularly helpful, thanks to all the backtracking.







Stuck? Go see the king for a good tip. Sun Ring it is, then.







Welcome to Boa-Boa Island. Unfortunately, especially compared to the beautiful previous world, Boa-Boa leaves a little something to be desired in the graphical department. As I said earlier, at times you can’t shake the feeling that this game was rushed a bit.







Godzooky lives! Ah, look at all that soft ground there. If I only had a shovel…

I’ll leave you to explore and discover the rest of this game. Let’s switch gears and take a closer look at some of the aspects that make this game stand out from the me-too crowd of platformers that call the SNES home.








Thankfully, backtracking is made a little easier due to the worlds having special gateways to another world. This allows you to go back without rowing your raft across the entire damn ocean on the world map. It’s not always perfect, but it’s better than nothing. Personally, I wish they just had a spell that lets you pick which island you wanna visit.







Speaking of backtracking, there are portions of each level that you won’t be able to immediately access until you learn a certain skill down the road. Here you see two different types of blocks. It definitely extends the length of the game, which is already short to begin with. But I always like a game that allows me to take some notes and revisit at a later date. Really makes it feel like an adventure.







Blocks either have to be activated or deactivated in order to achieve said goal. Sometimes you’ll need to turn blocks ON in order to stand on them. Other times the blocks are blocking your path to a treasure chest, in which cases they must be turned OFF. It can get a little confusing if you don’t keep brief notes throughout your journey.














Super Adventure Island II definitely has light RPG undertones. Look no further than being able to sleep at an inn to recover your HP, as well as a bit of quirky dialogue. Not to mention different NPCs to interact with that will light the path of your journey should you get stuck on what to do next. It’s super simplistic in the most basic form, but it does help to separate this game from the typical platformer.







Thanks for the tips, sir! It’s the least you could do for being a homewrecker! The world map and possible random encounters also add to the RPG-ish atmosphere.







Explore the world map — you never know what items you may find or who you might run into…







Health and magic refills are sometimes given when enemies perish. Since enemies respawn, you can actually “farm” by going back and forth until you’ve reached your desired status. It takes me back to my Metroid and Mega Man days.







Acquiring the shovel later on in the game allows you to backtrack and dig up those soft areas of each world to gain access to previously inaccessible areas. These often lead to life bottles, magic bottles and various other assorted goodies. There is a con to this, however, which I will highlight in a little bit…













Platformers that include magic as a secondary means of offense (or defense) always score highly in my book. It just always adds this extra layer to a game, even when the magic system is super elementary as this one is. You learn new spells automatically as you collect bottles. The recovery spell refills half a heart, which can be crucial in moments such as these. The ultimate spell fully recovers your health, and you’ll likely need it for the final boss battle.







Curly’s Casino appears later in the game and allows you to either gamble away to your heart’s content or to cash in your coins. Yes, another feature that makes Super Adventure Island II a little bit different from your typical SNES platformer is that on occasion slain enemies will drop a coin which you can collect for a value of five. There are a total of five items you can purchase from the shop: an extra half life bottle, Higgins’ classic weapon the boomerang, the Light Shield, Light Armor or the almighty Light Sword (which commands a whopping 49,950 coins). The Light Sword is the BFG of the game and makes rather short work of the final boss. I would save my coins for that bad boy.







Boomerang sure brings back that classic Adventure Island feel. However, it costs nearly 15,000 coins and truthfully, it’s hard enough to amass the 50K that the Light Sword requires. I recommend therefore skipping the Boomerang, although it’s a fun badass weapon for sure!







Gambler, are ya? Then check out Flash ‘N Cash or Money Maker. Always a sweet feeling betting 99 coins on the white and landing on it for the maximum coin benefit of 1980. KA-CHING!













However, if you really want to make money fast and most easily, select the third mini-game, Run For Doe. Four random contestants with betting odds are given. The lowest one usually wins, although sometimes the second or third lowest may eek out a win. The highest rarely wins out. It gets tricky though when the two lowest are tied or really close as seen above (7.2 and 7.6). Sometimes the second lowest wins out. But this is the fastest method to earn coins. I had to win like 30,000 coins from this to get enough at the end of the game to afford the Light Sword…














Unfortunately, there are a few annoying aspects to this game. Not annoying enough to derail it, but annoying enough to keep it from being an upper echelon game. It’s always the small things that add up, after all. First, the shovel. In theory it’s such a great idea. Switch to the shovel and dig up new areas of a level. Love it. However, you automatically take off your armor, shield and sword when you use the shovel. Not a big deal, right? Until you consider you have to access the menu, go down to shovel and click on it. Then when you want to switch back to your latest sword, you must click on menu and go back to your desired sword. Thankfully, selecting the sword automatically selects the latest shield and armor as well. Still, it all feels a bit cumbersome and puts a dent in the action. A simple usage of the R shoulder button to automatically switch through weapons would have made this a much more seamless experience.







Super Adventure Island II starts off looking pretty good. Then things looks very good in the second world. But get to the third world and you start to go eh? It begins to feel like the developers were crunched for time. The Indiana Jones bit is pretty cool but marred by the atrocious pink bare background. What the hell? It just kind of takes you out of what should have been a landmark moment in the game.







Tension and drama somewhat killed by the sore thumb background.







Seriously? OK I know this is a very minor thing but still disappointing nevertheless. The game therefore is a bit uneven graphically. Looks great in some places, looks OK in others and in some, like here, look completely unfinished.







Gamera nod, nice. Ugly ass background, not so nice.







Princess Tina talking, or Higgins? Not made instantly clear. You have to read a bit to find out, which isn’t a huge deal but again, highlights a few of the game’s shortcomings. It doesn’t come off as highly polished. It’s still a good game but misses that great mark by missing those little details that add up.


Had to dig to find info...
Had to dig to find info…

Sadly, and bizarrely, Super Adventure Island II was never reviewed by either EGM or GameFan. Even crazier, neither publication even PREVIEWED it. Considering it came out in October of 1994 during the height of the Super Nintendo’s lifespan and coverage of said system, this shocked me as a kid to no ends. Particularly a game of this status. It was a sequel to a fairly popular franchise. All I ever remember seeing was the ad in the pages of EGM and being intrigued as hell by its unique looking mix of platforming and RPG tropes. It was weird to see such a “high profile” sequel get the shaft as this one did. Thus, Super Adventure Island II has never been too popular, and is kind of in that “hidden gem” category.

Left out in the freezing cold...
Left out in the freezing cold…


Two is better than one...
Two is better than one…

Super Adventure Island II is a fun game that is largely a platformer but with some light RPG undertones. It’s unique enough to separate itself from the typical SNES platformer pack. I like the backtracking gameplay, being able to slowly but surely reveal new playing sections of the world. It’s not a long game at all and can easily be beaten in a single weekend. Looking at maybe 6-8 hours here? It’s just long enough to sink your teeth into but not overly long to the point of exhaustion or wearing out its welcome. I like the save feature and the overall feel of the game. Higgins controls well this time around, unlike his first SNES outing. Jumps are handled generously and the challenge hits a near perfect balance. It’s rarely ever too hard, and it’s never overwhelmingly easy. Rather, it nearly hits that “just right” barometer where you’ll be challenged enough but not to the point of wanting to chuck the controller. Is it better than the first Super Adventure Island? You betcha.

Ah, such vintage SNES visuals
Ah, such vintage SNES visuals

Sure it’s got its fair share of shortcomings. These were highlighted earlier but to briefly reiterate, switching through weapons via the R shoulder button would have so much more convenient. Certain parts of the later levels appear to be a little unfinished or rushed. But the positives far outweigh the few negatives that this game has. The music is pretty good and catchy in certain parts but not as good as it was in Super Adventure Island (Yuzo Koshiro a big reason why). The gameplay is what shines brightest. I like the interconnected worlds and how they all sort of fuse together. It very much feels like a kids’ version of Super Metroid or even a Demon’s Crest, both games which I love and consider top of the line as far as SNES action adventure games are concerned. The difficulty of this game is just right. Perhaps teetering a little on the easy side of things but it hits that sweet spot for the most part. And although a short game, it’s definitely much longer than your stereotypical 16-bit platformer that takes anywhere from 45 minutes to two hours to beat. It’s got some meat to its bones but isn’t so long that it’s a one and done for me. I’m sad I waited this long to finally play it, but I’ll definitely be back one day to play through it all over again.

I’ve got my eye on you, sir

After playing through this game, I’m even more befuddled as to why EGM and GameFan never gave this the time of day. Not only is it a sequel to a pretty popular early generation SNES game but it’s also probably one of the better action games to come out for the system that year! Ah, some things simply remain a mystery. What I do know is this: Super Adventure Island II is good old fashioned platforming fun, with some cool boss battles and lovely RPG undertones. Master Higgins definitely goes out in style, swords a’swinging!

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

AwardsOverall: 8.0
Silver Award


Lost, pal? This ain't Joe & Mac!
Lost, pal? This ain’t Joe & Mac!

Super Bomberman 5 (SFC)

Doing Freddy, Jason and Michael proud!
Doing Freddy, Jason and Michael proud!

Most Super Nintendo owners know about the first two Super Bomberman games on the SNES. But what some don’t know is that the series went up to a whopping five. 3 was released in Europe and Japan while parts 4 and 5 were exclusively released in Japan only. Tonight let’s look at the final Bomberman game on the SNES. It’s the fifth one, and yes, it sure does Freddy, Jason and Michael Myers proud!

They just keep coming and coming...
They just keep coming and coming…



The 1-2 player mode is not shabby, although we all know by now where the meat and potatoes of any Bomberman title is. Nonetheless, here’s a quick look.

You even get stages from the first game
Deja vu, hmm?

There is a time warp-related plot. Therefore, you’ll see stages from the original SNES classic. A nice nod back to the glory days of yesteryear.

Pick your path
Pick your path

Another nice feature, at the end of each stage you’re given 3 exit points. Each one takes you to a completely different level. Sometimes you’ll select the one that takes you to the very next level. Other times you may select a stage that jumps ahead. You never know and it makes the game less linear, for sure.

Oops, no skipping
Aw shucks, no skipping
Yes, skippage!
Jumped from 1-1 to 1-5
Jumped from 1-1 to 1-7
Jumped from 1-1 to 1-7

And as you might notice, some of these stages are pulled right from previous Super Bomberman titles. I told you there was a time warping element to this game. It’s nice to see some of the old stages from the previous games. A nice fan service if nothing else.

But to TRULY complete the game you have to beat all the stages. Your reward is unlocking a bonus character… a golden bomber!

Difficult first boss
Difficult first boss

The first boss is rather annoying and hard. Unlike previous titles where you tackle giant machines, here the bosses are much smaller, quicker and more devious. This one drops a stealth bomb that is invisible until you step over it. Even worse, once the bomb is revealed you have only about a second to get out of the way before it detonates. I have to admit, while the boss fights are more challenging than ever before, I do miss the massive monstrosities of years past.


With that said, let’s get to what makes any Bomberman title shine.



The essential “plain” stage. A must have for any Bomberman game. A place where no gimmicks reside and no excuses can be forged. A pure and classic battlefield.




One of my favorite gimmicks, the conveyor belt sends bombs (and bombers) down the line accordingly. I really like the look of this stage.




My all-time favorite gimmick: the tunnel or roof stage. Here we have lovely treetops to obscure the playing field. These Bomberman games have never been about impressive visuals, but I do think it’s never looked better. A given, considering it’s the fifth and final game on the system.




Not my favorite kind, as it’s a little too gimmicky for my tastes. The field is mostly dark except for a bouncing spotlight. Definitely grounds for excuses galore…




The speed stage where players move REALLY fast. Not one of my favorites, but it’s a change of pace field, pardon the pun, for sure.




I like this one a lot. It appeared in Super Bomberman 3 and must have been so popular because it’s back. This stage has a few interesting gimmicks. Bombs that explode under the makeshift igloos will send the top sky high. Not to mention there is slight stealth bombing capacity here. Not as severe as in battle zone three, but the potential is there (which is nice). Secondly, there are portions of the field where the ice cracks, leaving a hole in its wake. You of course cannot cross these holes. Finally, that big snowball up top rolls once you blow it up. Get the hell out of its way!




It’s the arrow stage. I typically enjoy the arrow gimmick, but have to admit the look of this stage is a bit of a letdown. It just doesn’t look very pleasing to the eye.




A trolley lays in the middle. You can ride it and knock out the blocks in its way. Cool stuff. You also can’t die when riding the trolley, but be careful of the landing spot. You may land right into an explosion, or you might even get stuck between two blocks. Assess the situation properly and decide whether it’s worth a ride or not.




Those special knobs there will switch occasionally and possibly block you out. Not one of my favorites, but it’s adequate.




Remember this stage from Super Bomberman 2? It’s back. Everyone is powered up from the get go and there are no blocks. An ultimate battle of the supreme.




The classic hand glove is an awesome power-up. If you can find one early on when there are still a lot of blocks on the screen, you can easily kill off some rivals.

Speaking of killed opponents, not only is there an option to bomb from the outside once you’re killed, but if you manage to kill someone on the field the two of you will switch places. It’s a nice choice to have and adds new intensity to the mad bomber option.



When the timer expires, blocks drop to the very bitter end. No longer do they close off just a portion of the field, now they drop until they’ve claimed every last life possible. This often becomes a war of attrition. If you have an animal friend and your opponent does not, this works highly in your favor. I like that animal friend there as it can jump over flames. The poor green guy stands no chance!


If you haven’t noticed by now, up to five bombers can play in this game. Starting with Super Bomberman 3, players went from 4 to 5. It’s nice in case you have four friends visiting rather than three.

Bomberman Bowling!
Bomberman Bowling!
Earn a prize for next match
Earn a prize for next match
Taunts and groans ensue
Taunts and groans ensue
Some bombs are special
Some bombs are special

That is a hovering homing bomb. Which means it isn’t affected by the conveyor belt. How many times have you said to yourself it would be nice if my bombs didn’t move along the conveyor belt? Now, with this special bomb, you can do just that. Also, it has a built-in homing device. If an opponent goes near it, it will follow that person for a bit before detonating. It’s quite effective.

Spiked bombs are powerful
Spiked bombs are powerful

They truly are. They blow PAST blocks. So watch out or else…


In the trolley battle zone, watch out that you don’t trap yourself between two blocks. You’ll be a sitting duck if so!


A password screen is present. There are several codes that affects the game. For example, the codes 4622, 0413 and 0926 change the layouts of the levels. Observe.

Password 4622
Password 4622
Password 0413
Password 0413
Password 0926
Password 0926

Pretty dang cool, huh? It should be noted that Super Bomberman 3 and Super Bomberman 4 also had passwords to unlock varying layouts of their battle zones as well. Therefore it’s not like Super Bomberman 5 was the first to do so, but that doesn’t make it any less useful. Talk about expanding longevity when the replay value was already high to begin with!

This controller executes a special cheat!
This controller executes a special cheat!

Speaking of awesome, if you own Hudson’s Super Joy Card controller pad, you can use it to activate three hidden bonus battle zones! Now how sick is that? To do so, move the blue X button over and on the title screen hold X for about 6 seconds. A sound will confirm on success. These are the same stages found on the gold cartridge — a limited edition release of Super Bomberman 5. You can find gold cartridge editions on eBay for over hundreds and hundreds of dollars. So to play the extra bonus stages you can either plop down a couple Benjamins or pay about $20 for Hudson’s Super Joy Card. Yeah, I know which option I went for. Not to mention the Super Joy Card is an awesome controller.

Either that or plop $400 for this
Either that or drop $400 for this…

Let’s take a quick look at the three bonus battle zones.



There are 18 loops surrounding the stage. Go to one and you’ll be redirected randomly to any of the other 17.



Combines a conveyor belt along with tunnels. Gotta love it.



Combines a trolley with warp holes. Ride the trolley and appear randomly at another warp hole. Interesting gimmick mash-up!


Goes out with a bang
Goes out with a bang

I love the Bomberman games. You really can’t go wrong with any of the five on the Super Nintendo. I still prefer the original out of all of them, but between parts 3, 4 and 5, I have to give the slight nod to Super Bomberman 5. I like the fact that it combines certain stages from the four previous titles. It isn’t quite a “remix” but at times it does feel like one. As if they took the best from the previous games and added in some new things for the fifth outing on SNES. So if you had to get only one Super Bomberman title that never came out in the US, make it the fifth one. Although, why not get 3 and 4 too if you can. It might be overkill, but for me at least you can never have too much Bomberman.

Super Bomberman Panic Bomber World (SFC)

Bomberman meets Puyo Puyo
Bomberman meets Puyo Puyo

The Bomberman franchise is one of the most beloved series of all time. Especially when you’re talking about multiplayer gaming series. Almost everyone knows about those games. But what not many may be aware of is this puzzle rendition of the franchise. And I’m happy to say it’s pretty damn good. Hell, it even features a 4-player mode because, BOMBERMAN!

3 pieces drop at a time. The goal is to match 3 in a row (horizontal, vertical or diagonal).

In addition to the Bomberman pieces you have 3 others:

  • The unlit bomb
  • The lit bomb (put these babies on the unlit ones for a blast!)


Love the explosions
Love the explosions

Note: This blast doesn’t destroy the Bomberman pieces. Rather it ignites the unlit bombs, taking them off your field.

And once you’ve filled up your power bar, you receive the almighty MEGA BOMB.


It can take out almost every piece on the field, depending on block positioning.

The mega bomb is the most visually impressive “clear-all-ish” piece I’ve seen in a puzzler. Panic Bomber actually uses a special chip. The mega bomb definitely gets the treatment as it pulsates with flames and makes a huge boom when dropped. It’s sheer, raw, unadulterated POWER at its finest. Thank you, Mr. Special Chip Thing.

Of course, while the goal is to keep your playing field from filling up, the best way to beat the opposition is by crafting chain reactions. The 3-falling pieces instead of 2 format will take some getting used to for many of us, but once you do the combo’s flow. Here’s a basic 2 hitter:

Connect the greens there
The green guys wipe out...
The green guys wipe out…
.... And the whites follow suit
… And the whites follow suit

To create huge chain reactions you have to set yourself up. Here’s a 3-hit combo. Notice I’ve stocked up on red and green. Not to mention some white…

Green connects horizontally...
Green connects horizontally…
Oh yeah!
Oh yeah!

Not only do the greens connect horizontally but diagonally as well for a sweet 6 piece combo. It drops the stack of 3 reds…

Look at all the reds...
Look at all the reds…

Let’s see — I see red horizontal, vertical AND diagonal connections!

8 piece knockout
8 piece knockout

Major poppage happens. The white pieces fall…


Your simple run-of-the-mill 3-chain 19-piece combo!

But of course, being a Bomberman game, what good would it be without a 4-player mode?

Good stuff
Good stuff

Simply brilliant… brilliantly simple. The smallness of it might be a bit off-setting initially, but you’ll quickly adjust. Besides, a tiny amount of the occasional squinting is more than worth it for a chance to duke it out with 3 buddies, puzzle style.

And like any classic Bomberman title, it’s very user-friendly — 2, 3 or 4 players can play, with 1-5 matches to win the trophy. “B” allows you to go back to the previous screen.

Check out this 3-hit chain on the 1 Player side. (The most I’ve done so far was 5).

Drop the green on green...
Drop the green on green…
... they fade, dropping the blue piece...
… it drops the blue piece…
... which diagonally connects...
… which diagonally connects…
... dropping a stack with a green...
… dropping a stack with a green…
... to complete the 3-hit chain
… to complete the 3-hit chain

Of course, when you chain together combos you can cause much grief to your rival opponent(s).


In the 1 player mode after beating your opponents you get a password.


Speaking of the passwords, there are some cheat codes to alter the visuals.

SD Bombermen (4622)
SD Bombermen (4622)
Balloons (5656)
Balloons (5656)

Why? Why not. Little touches like these are always welcomed in my book.


Boom goes the dynamite
Boom goes the dynamite

Super Bomberman Panic Bomber World is a fun puzzle game that is more than a cheap cash-in. It’s more than a lame gimmick to milk a popular franchise name. It’s a game I would happily pull off my shelf to play, and in fact, I often do. It takes the classic formula and spins it well within the world of a puzzle game. True, there’s nothing ground breaking here, but it’s solid through and through. Even the classic Bomberman tune is replicated nicely here, and it fits very well with the puzzle madness.

By far the standout feature here is the 4-player mode. The only other 4-player puzzle game on the SNES that I can think of is Super Tetris 3. It’s definitely a novelty that’s worth experiencing at least once. Perhaps it won’t ever supplant your regular Bomberman 4-player battles, but it’s definitely an entertaining and competitive good time. Panic Bomber – you alright!

Super Genjin 2 (SFC)

"It-sa me, Bonk!" Er, wait a second...
“It-sa me, Bonk!” Er, wait a second…

My brother and I owned an 8-bit Nintendo and Sega Genesis growing up. As such, we got to enjoy such mascot platformers as Super Mario Bros and Sonic the Hedgehog. Well, I remember seeing Bonk’s Adventure on the Turbo Grafx 16 (or PC Engine if you will) and wanting to badly play it, but alas, the system back in those days was something of a semi-mythical beast. You rarely ever saw it in stores other than once in a blue moon, and you hardly knew anyone who had it. It was, on a smaller scale, somewhat similar to the Neo Geo. As such, I figured I would never get to play a Bonk game ever, with emulation not being a thing back then.

Bonk's Adventure (1989)
Bonk’s Adventure (1989)
Bonk's Revenge (1991)
Bonk’s Revenge (1991)

But lo and behold, in the early ’90s my bro and I were graced with a Super Nintendo. Gaming had evolved for us, but still in the back of my mind I never forgot my bald little caveman. After all, you can’t talk about evolution without starting at the beginning. I have always had a bit of a fetish for the caveman sub-genre, anyway, and Bonk was probably the reason why. Anyway, fast forward to 1994 and what do I see in GameFan Magazine? Super Bonk coming out for the Super Nintendo? What madness is this?! It blew my mind that a Turbo Grafx 16 mascot was jumping ship to Nintendo’s 16-bit machine.

Super Bonk (1994)
Super Bonk (1994)

Long story short, I finally played Super Bonk earlier this year (2016) after being curious about it for roughly 22 years since seeing it featured in the pages of GameFan Magazine. It, quite frankly, fell short of my expectations. Still a decent platformer, mind, but nothing like I had hoped. Alas, there was the Super Famicom exclusive sequel, Super Genjin 2, still waiting for me to finally play. I had heard in years past that it was a much better game. I’m happy to say I completely concur.

It opens with a wild goose chase
It opens with a wild goose chase
But then -- TANK BONK?!
But then — TANK BONK?!

Right away you can see they have captured the zany, goofy spirit of the Bonk games with this intro alone. It only gets weirder from this point on. Super Bonk was plenty quirky enough for an American SNES game, but Super Genjin 2 being only released in Japan, it didn’t hold back on the weirdness!


There is an in-game map, but unlike Super Mario World, you can’t backtrack.

Great balls of fire
Great balls of fire
Head bangin' Bonk
Head bangin’ Bonk

Like he’s always done, Bonk demolishes his enemies by smashing them with his noggin. He can either do this standing or jumping. You get hurt if you simply jump on enemies, which does make it slightly tougher. Speaking of which, don’t expect precise control like in the Mario games. Although Bonk controls a little better here than he does in his first Super Nintendo outing, I wouldn’t call moving him around “super crisp.” It just takes some getting used to.

Power ups change the game
Power ups change the game

Just like previous Bonk games, there are icons scattered throughout that when collected will transform Bonk accordingly. Here is one such example, which allows the little guy to leave a trail of flames in his wake. Unfortunately, take one hit and it’s back to regular Bonk.

Nothing like a little swim
Nothing like a little swim
English translation *wink*
English translation *wink*
The graphics catches the eye
The graphics catches the eye

The game, visually, is stunningly impressive. Released in mid 1995, it’s got a simple but striking look all the same. It’s a major graphical improvement to the first SNES game. There are lots of different locales which add to the fun of the game. From graveyards to forests to even the wild west, each new level presents a slightly new look.


By timing your noggin smasher properly, Bonk can bounce off the surface of water, making for some neat transitions. More importantly, it makes you look like a really skilled player. Guaranteed to impress your special lady friend. Or guy friend. Or simply, yourself [You like playing with yourself, huh -Ed.]

Checkpoint city
Checkpoint city
No great falls will hurt Bonk
No great falls will hurt Bonk

Ah, the advantage of having a hard head. Also, Bonk can bounce off walls to bring himself back up to the surface. The timing of this technique is much more forgiving than it was in Super Metroid. But not quite as easy as Ninja Gaiden. Somewhere in the middle, then.

Look for the darkened rooms
Look for the darkened rooms
Never know what's inside...
Never know what’s inside…
That's it? I was expecting more
That’s it? I was expecting more
Damn my big mouth
Damn my big mouth
Don't let it cut too many pieces
Don’t let it cut too many pieces
Fun first boss fight
Fun first boss fight
One down, four to go
One down, four to go
From bright to more somber
From bright to more somber
You should see a dentist, bro
You should see a dentist, bro
Uh, what?!
Uh, what?!
Enemies get tougher later on
Later enemies get a lot tougher
Love the bird in the background
Love the bird in the background
Slide to reach lower areas
Slide to reach lower areas
Insert caveman fire joke here
Insert caveman fire joke here
Lizard Bonk because why not?
Lizard Bonk because why not?


Wait, why are we on SNES?
Much improved over Super Bonk

Super Genjin 2 is everything a sequel should be. Bigger and better. Although speaking of bigger, the sprites here are actually smaller than the sprites in Super Bonk, which is a GOOD thing. The sprites for Super Bonk were so big that it made playing the game not nearly as fun as it could have been. I like the smaller sprites here. The game features a password system after each world you conquer. It’s not a long game by any means but I always appreciate a nice, clean password system. That’s another thing that Super Bonk lacked.

The power ups are fun and range from turning Bonk into a worm to a thief that can throw the smiley faces as projectiles. The visuals are much improved over the first SNES game and there isn’t much Japanese text to contend with, although there is an English translation for those who want to experience it in full. The game is full of weirdness and is a delight to explore. It’s definitely one of the system’s better platformers, particularly when talking about those that came out exclusively for the Super Famicom. This is everything Super Bonk should have been in the first place. The controls do take some getting used to, but for a gaming experience that is truly bonkers, look no further than Super Genjin 2.

This game has BIG HEART!
This game has BIG HEART!