Sengoku was released in arcades on February 12, 1991. A Super Nintendo home port was scheduled to come out in early 1994, but it was canned and never saw the light of day in North America. It did, however, grace the Super Famicom. Although watered down, it’s still fairly fun (especially with a buddy by your side). After all, any game that allows you to briefly assume the form and spirit of a ninja, samurai or even a lethal canine can’t be too bad.
The North American version must have been completed or at the very least very close to being finished, as a review turned up in the pages of EGM (issue #56, March 1994).
As a kid I recall anticipating any arcade port that came out to the SNES. It was naturally understood and accepted back then — gosh, a quarter of a century ago now — that such home ports on the SNES were never going to fully match the arcade original. But that the really good ones would capture the essence of such games. It was a fun time to be a kid growing up on arcade games and the SNES. The luxury of playing a lesser version at home was a really big deal back in those days, and it was still fun to play the arcade originals whenever you were at the arcade. I was sad when Sengoku was scraped. Then, years later (2006 to be precise), I came back into the SNES scene and discovered that a Super Famicom version had made its way to Japan. I quickly tracked down a copy and ended up enjoying it, even if it was a watered down version. Like I said, it was standard operating procedure. I didn’t personally care that it wasn’t arcade-perfect. I knew I liked it and that was all that mattered to me.
Select between Bill or Dan. I prefer Dan because I find him to be a more effective fighter. Here he is, decked out in glorious early ’90s fashion from head to toe, kicking a bunch of Foot Soldier ass.
You know what I particularly love about beat ‘em ups? Those Andore-like enemies. You know, those towering titans that are several tiers below that of a boss, but they’re also several tiers above the cannon fodder. Sengoku has a good Andore representation. I love how big and bizarre these lumbering ogre-like creatures are. These hulking menaces are tougher than the rest, but by nabbing various orbs you can take the shape of a samurai to help even up the odds!
Sengoku shifts from regular looking stages that you would find in any beat ‘em up to strange astral stages, where it feels like you’re in some unworldly dimension. It helps to break up the monotony a bit and gives the game a rather unique feel.
The SNES version tried hard but obviously does not hold a candle, graphically, to the original.
The ninja form is swift and super efficient when upgraded to the ultimate form, where he can fling 3 Shurikens at once.
Not to be completely outdone, the dog form can toss out smaller versions of himself. Nice.
Your journey will take you through a decent amount of various locales, including this deadly sewer. Where are the gawd damn Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles when you need ‘em, eh?!
[Oh Jared proved that years ago -Ed.]. Wow. OUCH.
As mentioned earlier, you’ll also travel to very strange otherworldly realms. It feels like a hazy dream or nightmare…
Sengoku excels in setting an uneasy tone. You always get this sense in the air that something isn’t quite right. Take this bridge scene for instance. The wolf-like creature it turns into looks like something out of a twisted children’s fairy tale you read at the library when you were 7.
Some bosses are demonic and ghastly.
While others are the traditional big and beefy kind.
The graphics are below average and the sound is weak to boot, but the saving grace is Sengoku is fairly fun (despite being a watered down port) to play if you throw expectations out the window. It’s just a mindless beat ‘em up with some neat power ups, bizarre bad guys and a moody atmosphere that combines both oriental and the occult. If that sounds like a good time to you, then be sure to give Sengoku a shot.
If there was one thing I loved as much as video games when I was a kid, it was monsters. I was obsessed with Godzilla growing up. Any giant rubber suited monster movie was right up my alley. So combining the two — video games and monsters — was a grand slam for a kid like me. At least, in theory. Execution is entirely another matter. I remember being excited to play Ultraman: Towards The Future. After playing it, Towards The Garbage Bin seems like a more appropriate subtitle. Then came the SNES version of King of the Monsters. I loved the arcade version especially for its tag team bedlam mode. Not only was that gutted from the SNES port but they also scrapped two of the six monsters. 0 for 2 now. Would King of the Monsters 2 be the third strike, or would SNES owners finally get a decent monster game?
MY GREAT WHITE WHALE
My local arcades didn’t carry King of the Monsters 2. I was never able to play it, sadly.
I saw screenshots of it in magazines and it looked awesome.
The new monsters looked great, making me want to play it even more.
Alas, it wasn’t meant to be. I searched high, I searched low. Nada. It wasn’t until a fateful Saturday afternoon back in June of 1994 that my best friend Nelson and I ran across the Super Famicom import version of King of the Monsters 2.
We couldn’t believe that standing before us were the import versions of Fighter’s History, King of the Monsters 2 and Muscle Bomber (Saturday Night Slam Masters). The North American versions were either weeks or even months away from release. Nelson grabbed Fighter’s History and so I had to make a choice between King of the Monsters 2 or Saturday Night Slam Masters. I loved Slam Masters but this was a clear no-brainer to me…
THE STORY GOES…
THE GOOD GUYS
The roster stands at just three. It’s a little disappointing, considering the original gave you double the choice. Hope you aren’t too attached to the likes of Poison Ghost, Beetlemania and Rocky…
THE BAD GUYS
Before you square off with King Famardy, you must first travel to six different parts of the world to romp and raid. At the end of each short level, there awaits a big and ugly monster for you to fight. Trust me, none of these guys will ever win a beauty contest! I like the cryptic touch of only being shown their silhouettes.
There are a couple bars to pay attention to. Your own, the boss bar and your power bar. When your power bar is fully charged, you can unleash a vicious special attack.
As seen here, each boss gets progressively tougher and tougher. Some of the bars get so long that they can be a little bit intimidating!
Charge your power bar by holding L. You cannot move or attack when charging, so you leave yourself wide open to enemy attack. With two players, it’s a lot easier to have your buddy entertain the boss while you charge, or vice versa. On your own though, you better pick your spots. As the old saying goes, charge wisely.
Just like the first game, grappling is still the main point of attack. Toggle back and forth like a mad man all while cursing and hollering like a raving mad lunatic. Trust me, it’s a lot more fun that way. Unlike the first game, however, here it seems the victor of a grapple isn’t random but actually awarded to the one who toggles faster. Imagine that — what a concept…
New is the ability to block. By simply pressing R, you can thwart the opposition’s blows. It’s a welcomed feature and adds some strategy to the fold, particularly in the 2 player game.
Formerly a (mad) scientist, he transformed into Astro Guy during an experiment gone wrong (or right…) when the Monsters first appeared in 1996. The ambitious scientist was looking to discover a way to make the human body immune to radiation. Well shit, look at him now. Surviving the ruckus of the original war, Astro Guy evolved into Atomic Guy. He’s now stronger and faster than ever. Master of lightning, fireballs and fashion!
Electrocute them like there’s no tomorrow!
Ahh, everyone’s favorite Godzilla knockoff, or at least, mine anyhow. Super Geon doesn’t move as fast as the others but his immense strength more than makes up for his lack of speed. Equipped with sharp spikes, fangs, claws and one very nasty disposition, Super Geon is ready to tear down any obstacle in his way. Looking more like FIN FANG FOOM here than Godzilla, this dragon beast makes the earth quiver with one of his mighty Earthquake leaps.
Woo underwent the most drastic transformation of all the monsters. An overgrown gorilla in the first game, he is now a lean, mean, fighting machine. No one knows for sure how he came to be in this state, but rumor has it he was assembled by the government as a top secret weapon. Some say the original Woo is dead and that this is something new altogether. Whatever IT is, the very hope of mankind may very well lie in Cyber Woo’s cold, steel hands!
Launching missiles into their ugly faces? Sign me up!
ALIEN BOSSES AND STAGES
The entry soldier of King Famardy’s line of defense. Huge Frogger looks like a nasty bugger that might give you fits, but he’s a bit of a wimp. Don’t overlook him though. He can still be slightly formidable thanks to his abilities. These include teleportation, laser beams and razor sharp elbow horns. He’s also got humongous feet and he’s more than happy to use them to smash your face in! He’s far too cocky for his own good, though. Occasionally, he’ll stop to just laugh at you. Be sure to make him regret that foolish decision! After you see his face, you’ll understand why he hides it behind that huge mask.
Apparently, Huge Frogger isn’t a huge fan of Brett Favre. He appears for a brief skirmish. However, the wimp will eventually teleport and meet you again at level’s end.
Great original city names so far, eh? This guy is quite a piece of work. His face is a disgusting tissue-y mass that has a parasitic alien brain sucking on it. He’s gifted with freaky strength. He’ll lift you high and pound you into the ground several times over before you can scream GODZELLER. Thanks to his ability of being able to stretch his limbs, he can strike from almost any distance. Once defeated, his blob-like brain will detach from the body for a desperate final battle!
Dhalsim but with the strength of Zangief… on steroids!
Bogun. Freaking Bogun from Ultraman. That’s the first thought I had when I saw Clawhead. What a grotesque creature. Hands for feet, creepy eyes tucked inside the mouth (which is bizarrely placed at the bottom), a pair of killer horns and two faces that could give Freddy Krueger nightmres! This two-headed menace guards the Grand Canyon with malice. What exactly is lurking in that hideous mouth beyond those eyes? Pray that you won’t have to find out…
So this stage is called Grand Canyon, but Mount Rushmore is in South Dakota. Last I checked, I’m pretty sure the Grand Canyon is still located in Arizona. WTF were y’all doing, SNK? Or rather, what were y’all smoking…
Let’s see… American City, French City… yup, by stage four they clearly said “f*ck it.” That’s why we now come to… DESERT. Remember the messenger from earlier? The brain that spewed all those threatening messages but then always scurried away? It now takes a stand. And to help it take that stand, it employs the hideous body of one, Beetle Master. Krang from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles would like a word with you, good sir. Oh, and whatever you do, DON’T say his name at night three times. Or else he’ll appear out of thin air to eat you whole. You’ve been warned…
[Uh, I don’t think that’s how it goes -Ed.]
While none of the monsters will be winning any sort of beauty contest, Sack Eyes truly takes the cake. He is one repulsive bastard. He’s also tougher than a two dollar steak. If his looks don’t kill you, his deadly repertoire will. His squalid face is the stuff nightmares are made of, and that throbbing red blob-like substance around his neck is every bit as dangerous as it is unnerving…
Meet King Famardy’s right-hand man, er, monster. Lavicus is tougher than nails. As the last line of defense, anything less would be disappointing. He’s not so bad with two players. But by your lonesome? Good luck. Just how tough is he? There is NOstage. You just fight him right away. The developers must have thought, “Why delay the inevitable ass-whupping? Let’s just feed them to Lavicus.” Best to get it over with, then.
Lavicus’ Lava Zone is rather lovely. It’s simple but therein lies its wicked effectiveness. The lava flows as the monsters duke it out. Jump up on the hill if that’s your thing, or settle the score right there in the bright scorching molten lava.
Congrats! You’ve made it to the last stage. Fatter than Santa but not nearly as jolly, King Famardy is a sight for sore eyes. He moves a lot faster than one might anticipate, and he comes equipped with a host of tools from which he can use to decimate you. Kill him and the world is yours to rule as King of the Monsters.
Thankfully, in-between each victory you’re given a supply of power-ups and such. Little L’s are for small health gain, large L’s for moderate health gain, P’s for leveling up, and if you’re lucky enough, the odd 1-UP will crop up here and there. However, one small catch. There’s only enough time to grab two, so pick the best ones. With two players, each player nabs two.
If you thought his front side was fugly, you ought to see his back side! I love the intricate details here, especially the scales. Check out the feet protruding from Famardy’s back. That should warrant a visit to his local alien doctor, one would think.
THE BAD ENDING
GAME OVER, MAN!
THE GOOD ENDING
First, if you’re browsing this on a desktop or laptop, click on the music video and follow along with the text-embedded pictures below.
It’s always times like these When I think of you And I wonder If you ever Think of meeee Cause everything’s so wrong And I don’t belon –
Um, ahem. The real ending, then…
TWO TIMES THE FUN
While I still miss the tornado tag team feature from the first game, I have to say it’s still a blast to team up with a buddy to take out the computer alien bosses one at a time. It’s a 2-on-1 handicap match essentially, and I cannot think of another SNES game that operates like such. Even beat ‘em up bosses tend to throw lesser henchmen at you, while this is strictly a 2-on-1 affair. It really makes playing King of the Monsters 2 unlike any other SNES experience.
Playing with a buddy also lends a certain strategy you don’t get when playing alone. It’s a short game but it’s pretty damn fun with two while it lasts. My favorite strategy is charging my power bar and then having my friend block while I attack from behind with my charged up special move. All is fair in love and war! Too bad though there isn’t an option for you and a friend to take on two alien bosses at a time. The three options are: 1P vs. CPU, 1P and 2P vs. CPU or the ho-hum 1P vs. 2P mode, where it’s just you and a buddy trying to win 3 out of 5. Unfortunately, you can’t control the alien boss monsters in this mode, which was a wasted opportunity.
The Sega Genesis version of King of the Monsters 2 is radically different from the SNES version. While the SNES port mimics the arcade game, the Genesis version opted to go the Street Fighter II route. It is strictly a 1-on-1 fighting game, but instead of a single plane, players are allowed to use the entire screen. It’s actually what I envisioned my own childhood game, MONSTER FIGHTER, to be back in the early ’90s. A blend of King of the Monsters meets Street Fighter II. The Genesis version received pretty solid reviews. Some people liked the fact that it cut out the side-scrolling beat ‘em up sections and got straight down to the action. If nothing else, it’s an interesting footnote in the history of the King of the Monsters series.
CAN I GET SOME CHEESE, PLEASE?
GET YOUR KEY CHAINS!
I remember doing this and getting my free King of the Monsters 2 key chain back in the day. Too bad I lost it. But yeah, these freebie give away prizes Takara used to do back in the ’90s was awesome.
WHO IS THE ROBOT MONKEY?
Throughout the annals of history, there have been some great philosophical questions posed.
“What came first: the chicken or the egg?”
“To BE, or NOT to be?”
“How much wood can a woodchuck chuck…
if a woodchuck could chuck wood?”
And then, on July 7, 2008, a five year old student of mine asked me one of life’s greatest questions:
But let me back up the DeLorean a bit here. In college I studied to become a teacher, with a minor in Theatre Arts. Wherever I could, I implemented drama into my presentations and public speeches. I was in a Humanities class in 2006 and after one of my dramatic presentations this is what my professor wrote on our class’ online message board:
In the summer of 2008, I found myself teaching a public speaking camp to a group of five and six years old. On my first day of class, I began by introducing myself and asking my students to share some basic info about themselves. I’ll never forget these two twin boys. They were five and when their turn to speak came, they said they loved video games.
“And what is your favorite game?” I asked.
“KING OF THE MONSTERS!”
I almost fell over. The next day was Show and Tell. Guess what the twin boys brought to the party?
During break time, they were telling me all about their favorite monsters from the game. One of the twins was describing Cyber Woo to me and at one point he stopped. “Mr. Steve, who is the robot monkey?” I couldn’t help but laugh as I answered his thought-provoking question. Damn, it’s hard to believe it’s almost been 10 years since I taught that summer camp. Jeez, those twins are now 14 and in high school! I feel old now.
Later that day, I asked one of the twins who his least favorite monster was. He said Atomic Guy because “he’s weak and this little kick is all he can do.” Then the kid actually replicated the kick to a tee right in front of me, TWICE. It scared me how flawless his form was! It just goes to show you how genuine and real their passion for King of the Monsters 2 was. They restored my faith in humanity!
WHAT THE CRITICS SAID
The SNES translation didn’t win any awards or anything, but critics agreed it was a great port considering the hardware limitations of the 16-bit SNES compared to the mega arcade power that was the Neo Geo. EGM gave it scores of 7, 7, 7and 8. Super Play rated it 74%. It’s definitely one of the better arcade to SNES translations ever made.
That Saturday June afternoon of 1994 saw a dream of mine realized when I finally got to play King of the Monsters 2. I’m not quite sure if I liked it more than the first one but I know I had a blast playing it with my best friend, Nelson. And that’s what video games are all about. King of the Monsters 2 is filled to the brim with bright and bold colors. At times it is a visual feast. One look at the game and you know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that it’s a Super Nintendo game circa 1994. The monsters animate well, look terrifying and the special moves are a treat to behold. Atomic Guy’s Megaton Thunder, for instance, really lights up the screen. The giant monsters are intricately detailed as are the stages you wreck. It is this believability of the behemoths that makes the game work and also makes it fun.
Of course, there’s more to a good game than great visuals. As for the sound, King of the Monsters 2 has some solid rocking tunes which really help add to the whole B-Movie feel of the game. Sound effects are a bit hit and miss, though. Some are out of place or oddly missing altogether. Where’s the sound when my guy is crushing small buildings? What’s up with the fact that jumping on water sounds the same as when I’m jumping on the ground? So with the good comes some bad.
As for the gameplay, it’s a lot more sound than the original. This time, it really feels like the person who toggles the D-Pad faster actually wins. I do miss the tornado tag team mode, but I welcome the ability to block as well as the mode where you and a buddy tackle the alien bosses one at a time. Having only three monsters to select from is kind of lame, but on the bright side, unlike the original, their grapple moves are exclusively theirs. Only Atomic Guy can perform a front suplex while Super Geon makes good use of the spikes on his back like only he can. He heaves his foe five hundred feet in the air before the poor victim comes crashing down on a bed of nails. Ouch! Or Atomic Guy shocking the shit out of fools.
I also like how you have to march through each unique stage before fighting the boss. These little beat ‘em up sections range from cities to Grand Canyons to even an underwater sea bed where a mutated aqua slug resides. The stages are kept short too because the main focus here of course is on the seven boss monsters. The minor enemies you deal with as you romp through each level present minimal threat, but it’s still a blast to strike down foul land sharks, wretched one-eyed freekazoids and what have you. And of course, along the way there are various power-ups as well as bad ones, like the BOMB icon (to keep you on your toes), the Power Down icon, and the Roulette where you’re taking a chance with whatever icon the game decides to give you.
No one will ever mistake King of the Monsters 2 as one of Super Nintendo’s very best, but it serves its niche well as a creature feature. SNES fans got the shaft with the original but here is a bit of redemption. Yeah, the game is incredibly short, and there’s only a scant three monsters from which to use, but man is it fun playing with a like-minded friend. It’s hard to believe it’s now been 23 summers since that fateful June day that Nelson and I shitted our pants seeing the import version of this game sitting high and pretty on the top shelf over at Game Hunter. The exuberance surging through our ten year old bodies and the sheer thrill of finding this unexpected gem before us was the perfect way to kick off one of the last great summers of my childhood. I guess I’ll always remember King of the Monsters 2 most of all for that innocent summer day in June of 1994. I’m also happy to say that it’s a pretty solid little 2 player romp. If you love your wanton monster mayhem, then don’t miss out on King of the Monsters 2.
Yesterday marked 25 years since the original World Heroes hit arcades worldwide. Released on July 28, 1992, World Heroes was one of the earliest Street Fighter II competitors on the scene. At best, it was viewed as an amusing alternative but ultimately fell way short of challenging Street Fighter II. Exactly 10 months later, ADK released World Heroes 2 on April 28, 1993. Six new fighters were added to the fray, boosting the roster count to a whopping 14! Keep in mind this was a good six months before Super Street Fighter II came along with its massive lineup of 16 fighters. World Heroes 2 was a huge improvement on the original game. I loved it in the arcades and started counting down the days until the inevitable Super Nintendo release…
25 YEARS OF WORLD HEROES
Was it really 25 summers ago that I poured hundreds of quarters into this silly little fighting game? Wow, 25 years. I became a fan from day one. While I loved and respected Street Fighter II, there was something about World Heroes that clicked and resonated with me. Maybe because it was an underdog, or maybe it was the cheese and violent dark humor. Whatever it was, the summer of ’92 was awesome. Lines for Street Fighter II: Champion Edition ran out the door, leaving me to enjoy World Heroes without any waiting or fanfare. My bro bought Street Fighter II for the SNES that same month. So I would play Street Fighter II at home and World Heroes at the arcade. What a freaking sweet summer. 25 years… damn.
May 1993. It started out as just another innocent night. Accompanying my dad to the local Safeway grocery store, my old man would buy the goodies as I would be off in the corner playing on the one arcade machine they carried — a Neo Geo MVS. Throughout the early ’90s, that spot in the corner was mine. It was there that I played King of the Monsters, Super Baseball 2020, Sengoku and World Heroes more times than I can count. On that night I was hoping to get another solid 10-15 minutes in with World Heroes. With several quarters in my pocket courtesy of my generous pop, I was good to go. I strolled over to that infamous Neo Geo nook. Looked up at the panel where they display the four Neo Geo games, hoping to see World Heroes once again.
But there was no World Heroes.
My jaw dropped when I instead saw World Heroes 2. HOLY SHIT. At the time I had *NO* idea a sequel was even in the works. It totally caught me by surprise! Then I saw the demo. I had to once again pick up my jaw off from the floor.
The star of the first game, Hanzou, was surveying the new challengers. What a brilliant way to introduce the new cast to your audience. It seemed so larger than life that it absolutely freaking blew me away.
Dramatically, the scene would shift back and forth from a close-up of Hanzou’s grill staring down the new fighters and then switch back to the new cast as seen from Hanzou’s point of view.
The speed of the shifting began picking up as we scrolled through the new lineup of contenders. It ended by taking us to the WORLD HEROES 2title screen. It was the greatest intro I had ever seen up to that point. I was so hyped! The new fighters looked so cool, especially that voodoo man and the pirate. Even the small touch of those ominous clouds was awesome!
Nowadays that intro may seem a bit tame. But back in mid 1993, as a nine year old kid who had no idea a sequel was even in the works, this was a gawd damn work of art.
I remember hoping that my dad would never come back! I even watched the intro twice. Then I dug into my pocket to fish out a quarter. I was overwhelmed by the choice of 14 fighters, but ultimately went with Mudman. I always had a thing for outcasts and weird fighters so Mudman became my guy. I managed to get by Shura before getting my ass kicked by the evil pirate, Captain Kidd. I played until my dad called me over. He had to pry me away from the machine. It was like crack to a kid. I remember thinking two things as I was leaving Safeway that night… 1). I can’t wait to play more and 2). I can’t wait for that inevitable glorious SNES release!
Fast forward a year. It’s now mid 1994. One night I was at The Wherehouse with my dad to rent a game for my brother. As my dad was checking out the game, I thumbed through the new GameFan magazine they had sitting on the rack. Imagine my ecstasy when I saw the World Heroes 2 preview! I even let out a small cheer under my breath. My wish from one year ago is finally coming true. Soon, I’d be able to play World Heroes 2 from the comfort of my own living room
GameFan was the shit back in the day. Their layouts were legendary. Their World Heroes 2 preview made it look like such an elite game. I was thrilled to see their hype for the game. It was the opening preview in the Planet SNES section. Guess which game was second… Super Metroid! Everything about it blew me away. 1). It was finally coming out on the SNES. 2). It beat out Super Metroid for opening preview and 3). GameFan’s ringing endorsement made World Heroes 2 look like a BIG deal. I studied that two page preview for 10 minutes and held my dad up, pleading with him that he had to buy this game later that summer. The old man was nice enough to humor me.
A couple months later GameFan ran another piece on it. I recall reading through this once again at The Wherehouse and eagerly shoving the magazine preview into my dad’s face. As great as the summer of 1992 was, the summer of ’94 was even bigger. I had just finished 5th grade, it was the best year of my childhood, my best friend Nelson and I were thick as thieves, the SNES was at its peak, and so was the bond between me and my out of town gaming crew. Now we had a whole summer before us to enjoy all these wonderful things. I remember Nelson and I spent a large chunk of our time playing World Heroes on SNES that summer as a way to prep ourselves for the sequel. It was simply a great time to be a kid.
To prep myself even more, I joined the Takara Masters Game Club. I wanted any insider news I could get on World Heroes 2 and all other future Neo Geo SNES ports. The bottom of the card states, “The bearer of this Takara Masters seal is a unique and praiseworthy gamer. Anyone who presents this card should be shown the utmost respect and offered all the privileges due to a game player supremo.” That shit always cracked me up.
I called Takara one day in the summer of 1994 to specifically inquire if the arcade intro would be included in the SNES port. After waiting for what seemed like an eternity, I finally hung up. It saddened me a bit when I first fired up the SNES port and found the intro missing. Hey, there’s only so much from a 146 MEG arcade game that you can cram into a 24 MEG Super Nintendo cartridge!
FUN TIP: If you choose seesaw for life gauge and you play the 2 player mode under Normal Match, it can serve as sort of a Practice Mode
New to this sequel is the ability to send an opponent’s projectile back at them by blocking at the last possible second. This can go back and forth several times until the projectile disappears into thin air.
I never liked this change all that much. It prevents you from advancing after a slow fireball. On the bright side, it gave fighters without a fireball more of a fighting chance. It added extra balance to the roster, making guys like Muscle Power and J. Carn more formidable.
COLOR ME BADD
Each fighter has six colors to choose from. This is exclusive to the SNES port. Great job, Saurus! Some of the new colors are even better than the original colors… while others are a bit more… ahem, bizarre. More on that later.
Not only do outfit colors change but some special moves match the color of your costume! For example, take a look at Hanzou and Fuuma’s Dragon Uppercuts below.
Having six costume color choices is awesome, sure. But it’s made even more awesome when some of the fighters’ special moves are color coordinated.
Saurus you crazy bastards, you!
Hanzou’s ninja stars even changes colors accordingly! Nice.
16 fighters. Six colors each. You had a whopping 96 combinations to toy around with. It was all part of the fun and something I wasted hours on back in the day!
MEET THE HEROES
Most fighting game sequels back in the mid ’90s featured two or four new fighters. Not so here. You get SIX. 14 fighters made this the biggest fighting game roster back in April of 1993. It felt like ADK went all out and didn’t hold anything back. This is how you do a sequel right!
One of my favorite backgrounds, combatants battle in a bamboo forest on a moonlit night. Brown leaves drop from the sky as the warriors scratch and claw for victory. A couple gravestones can be seen to the far right. Hanzou’s parents, perhaps? A nice touch to add mystique and intrigue to this beautifully atmospheric stage.
Master of the Iga Ninja arts, Hanzou can throw a shuriken, or three. His ever reliable Dragon Uppercut and Spinning Blade are back as well. New to his arsenal is the Leg Lariat. It works well as a long range anti-air attack.
Fuuma loves to show off his superior fighting expertise in front of his friends. It’s a nice stage but I do miss his funky monkey pals from the first game.
Fuuma and Hanzou’s moveset began to receive some differentiation here. Fuuma’s Spinning Blade attack now moves in a wild up and down fashion, which perfectly fits his more flamboyant fighting personality. He can also throw opponents in mid-air as well as perform his Dragon Uppercut in mid-air.
Like Fuuma, I prefer Dragon’s previous stage. It’s hard to beat fighting in front of a Shaolin Temple after all. On a side note, Dragon was billed from China in the first World Heroes. ADK however changed Dragon’s birth place to Korea starting with World Heroes 2. But somehow the SNES port shows China’s flag instead of Korea’s. In my heart, Dragon will always be Chinese, damnit!
Dragon can still punch fools into oblivion as well as throw them in mid-air. As if that wasn’t enough to convince them NOT to jump, the Dragon Kick will surely make them think twice. His new attack is a nifty lunging kick. Oh, and don’t you love the Incredible Hulk version of Kim Dragon? I know I do. Bruce Banner meets Bruce Lee…
This little backdrop does a great job of evoking memories of all those classic old kung fu flicks you watched as a kid on lazy Sunday afternoons. I almost expect to see Jet Li or Donnie Yen come flying out at any moment…
Sadly, the portly Julius Carn got a bit gypped here. No new special moves to speak of, although he did receive a pretty cool new throw and his Mongolian Dynamite looks better than ever. Still irks me though that it doesn’t set his victims on fire. ADK finally fixed this in the fourth and final game, World Heroes Perfect.
Travel right back to the 15th century with this great looking stage! Much prefer this over her traveling circus backdrop from the first game.
Janne’s Aura Bird comes in baby or adult form. I always loved how the World Heroes games changed the size of their projectiles based on the strength of the button pressed. It wasn’t just speed that came into play but size as well. That was pretty unique for its time! Her new move, the Justice Sword, is a solid anti-air attack that can hit up close or from a distance. Again, depending on the button you use. ADK never got credit for giving a single move multiple purposes. The classic standbys are back as well: the Flash Sword (another good anti-air attack) and arguably the most painful looking move in the game, the Sword Hop.
ADK’s attempt to reduce Muscle Power’s resemblance to Hulk Hogan didn’t stop with the slight alteration in his look. In an effort to further differentiate the two, ADK dropped the wrestling ring in favor of a construction site. Boo! The wrestling ring inside a steel cage suspended high in the air was the perfect over-the-top background for Muscle Power. Oh well. As Hulk Hogan himself would say, “What chu gonna do, brother?!”
The good old Muscle Bomber running elbow is back. His new trick is an impressive leaping dropkick that serves as a pretty decent anti-air attack. Proving you can indeed teach an old dog new tricks. Not sure about that pink hair color, though. Midlife crisis, hmm?
Indeed I do. After the first World Heroes came out on the SNES in late 1993, my best friend Nelson held a neighborhood tournament. I played a pretty mean Rasputin in those days but decided to branch out and challenge myself. So I selected Muscle Power. Well, I got my ass handed to me pretty hard. I walked home that day thinking to myself over and over, “Just wait ’til World Heroes 2 comes home next year. His new Giant Swing will be the difference maker. Just you bastards wait!”It’s strange the memories we vividly recall, huh? And that’s the beauty of fighting game sequels. Just one new special move could be a game changer, no pun intended. Good times.
Some people think the purple building in the back reminds them of the castle from Aladdin. But for me growing up, it looked a lot more like the building seen on the cover of Goosebumps book #25, Attack of the Mutant (November 1994). As a kid I liked to think that R.L. Stine was a huge World Heroes 2 fan and was inspired by Rasputin’s stage when he penned Attack of the Mutant. I know, I was weird… [Was? -Ed.]
Rasputin could enlarge his hands and feet, making him sort of a pseudo-stretch fighter. His classic giant hand crush returns but brand new is the hand swatter. This might be the greatest anti-air attack in the history of fighting games. Certainly back in 1993 and ’94 it was! Simply press strong punch while standing and Rasputin will knock anyone out of the air. It can also attack the opponent while they’re standing. It was a game changer for sure!
Rasputin was a trailblazer. The first World Heroes introduced air projectiles to the genre. Not only is Rasputin’s air fireball back but now he can also perform his Spinning Robe in mid-air.
Being a trailblazer, he didn’t receive just one new special move but rather two completely different moves. The first is the deadly Thunder Ball. It “feels heavy” and hits accordingly so, inflicting more damage than Rasputin’s regular fireball. It also shocks the competition, which is always a fun visual. His second new move is the Cossack Dance, which acts as a bit of an anti-air attack. Speaking of new, a magical glowing aura now surrounds him while standing still. Awesome!
A heavy tank comes plowing through the wall early on as the fighters duel to the death. It creates a great war atmosphere. Bonus points for the ominous red skyline as well. Good shit.
Brocken’s extendable limbs give him the best reach in the game. Brand new however is when you press down-diagonal and attack in mid-air, Brocken raises his leg upward instead. It’s nice to have that option to keep opponents honest!
Brocken can now fire missiles from his kneecap. And he’s still the only fighter that can produce both fiery and electrocuted animations. Always loved that about him. His useless but amusing Flying Torpedo is back for shits and giggles. You can see his classic Hurricane Arm in the last shot there, as well as the wall before the tank comes barreling through.
An animated zombie skeleton watches the fight from a large mound of gold. He even loses his head at the end of each round. The gold glitters and glistens. It beckons to the heart of the greedy. A proven distraction, Captain Kidd uses this to his advantage.
Captain Kidd was the first fighter I can recall to have two different projectiles. And I’m not talking about a cheap high and low Tiger Shot. A shark and a ghost ship?! Blew my mind back in the day! His Shark Upper is a great anti-air deterrent and his Hyper Kick is good at surprising the opposition. Slightly reminiscent of Guile’s Flash Kick, Kidd’s Spiral Kick is a dandy two hit number.
My theory as a kid: ADK couldn’t decide on giving him a shark or a ghost ship. Both fit him perfectly. In the end they didn’t have the heart to scrap either so they said screw it we’re reinventing the rules — who says a fighter can’t have two totally different fireballs? And it’s not just for cosmetic purposes, either. Each one serves a different purpose! The Shark Knuckle is done Sonic Boom style and the jab version allows Kidd to follow up. The Pirate Ship Blast is done Hadoken style (no charging required!) and due to its insane amount of coverage can nullify both low and medium projectiles, making it arguably the greatest projectile ever. It’s no wonder everyone loved Captain Kidd back in the ’90s, even the most ardent of World Heroes critics admitted that he was a great addition to the franchise.
I have such fond memories of this stage. I remember seeing this stage first thing upon walking into the arcades with my best friend Nelson. At the time World Heroes 2 and Super Street Fighter II were fighting for arcade supremacy, and I just remember walking into that arcade hall only to be greeted by the soft Norwegian tune and seeing Erik kick the stuffing out of his opponent all over his viking ship. A long line formed behind Super Street Fighter II but World Heroes 2 respectably held its own. It’s just one of those childhood memories that stick with you for some bizarre reason. So anytime I see Erik’s stage or hear that soft Norwegian tune, I’m instantly transported back to that innocent Saturday afternoon at the arcades with my best friend circa late 1993
Another fighter with a weapon, ADK wasn’t afraid to make up their own rules. I always liked Erik’s mini Tidal Wave projectile. It was the first projectile I remember executed with a kick button as opposed to the traditional punch. Bizarre! Also loved the way it crashed into opponents; hey, a tidal wave is no joke. Erik makes good use of his horns and is the only fighter in the game able to shock andfreeze the competition. A fun addition to the roster!
Don’t get caught admiring the beautiful cherry blossom trees. If you do, Ryoko will throw you before you can say Bonsai.
Ryoko is a tough target to hit, being so small. Her quick Flip Kicks strike fast and have two variations. One acts more as an anti-air while the other serves as a lunging strike. It all depends on whether you press the light attack buttons or the strong ones. She can bounce off walls and is able to ignite a ball of energy from the palm of her hands.
Ryoko can throw fools with the best of them. I like how ADK flipped the script here on your typical stereotypes. This big throw is as damaging as Muscle Power’s Tornado Breaker. Probably didn’t expect that from a 16 year old girl, eh?
A rather peculiar stage that perfectly epitomizes how the World Heroes franchise has never taken itself TOO seriously. At first glance it appears to be a normal looking “serious” stage until you notice the monks scurrying in the background. Not only scurrying with their quick feet (an animation that was cut from the SNES port due to lack of storage) but leaping for no reason other than to make you scratch your head and go, “Heh, OK then.”World Heroes wasn’t afraid to mix in some humor but they never overdid it to the point where it became more of a parody (see Clay Fighter). It was this fine balance they struck that really resonated with me.
Shura is a bit on the slow side, which is surprising considering he’s supposedly a “Muay Thai Master of Mayhem.” Especially given his build as well, I always expected him to be faster. Nonetheless, he has two striking attacks that are reminiscent of Balrog. He also has a running jumping fist strike that is a bit awkward and can leave him in a vulnerable state. Speaking of vulnerable, while his Tiger Kick is definitely cool looking, Shura soars to the sky and it takes him a second or two to land. This also leaves him in a vulnerable state. Maybe it’s just me but I kind of felt he was a pseudo-joke character when I was a kid. Not quite on Dan’s level, mind you!
Forget about having two different projectiles, having two anti-air attacks is where it’s at! Eat your heart out, Captain Kidd. Actually, while the Muay Thai Kick is definitely badass looking, it only counts as one hit. It looks like Shura hits them a second time but he doesn’t. It’s the longest animation in the game and doesn’t exactly leave him in a good position following usage of said maneuver. So let’s quickly recap. He’s got two different anti-air special moves, but both are flawed and leave him rather vulnerable. He’s also oddly slow for being a supposed Muay Thai master. All signs point to “joke character,” sadly. Even his ending, which I won’t spoil, treats him as a bit of a joke. Huh. A most curious creation, indeed.
Just when you thought you had seen it all, along comes J. Max AKA Johnny Maximum. A quarterback, he’s most likely based off Joe Montana (one of the greatest QBs the NFL has ever seen). Players fight on a seedy street outside a local bar. Drunken hobos cheer on the mayhem and strut the night away. Many people (myself included for a number of years) mistakenly assume that Takara developed this port. Nope. Saurus did. And they weren’t afraid to include a little sign of self promotion, either!
Johnny Maximum sold me the first time I witnessed his high and low Pigskin Thunder Shots. A quarterback not afraid to take the hits, his Shoulder Crash shows off his ruggedness. Don’t be so jump happy against him or else the Lightning Tackle will put an end to that. The Head Crash, which sees J. Max burying his head through his opponent (and into the ground even), makes me cringe each time I see it.
Mudman’s stage is easily one of my all-time favorites. I mean, just look at it. It paints such an atmosphere scene. The dancing natives, the shining stars, that gorgeous evening skyline and the flickering fire all add up to leave a lasting impression. Mudman is such a likable character and the first fighter I used the first time I played World Heroes 2. He’ll always be one of my guys.
Perhaps the strangest “Shoto” fighter you’ll ever see, I love how Mudman incorporates his Spirit Buddies into the fight. There are two versions. The little shy Spirit Buddy or the streaking bold one. His Mud Gyro is one of my favorite anti-air special moves — I just love the way Mudman looks with his giant mask spinning around like that. The Mud Cutter is one of the most unorthodox looking Hurricane Kick variations I’ve ever seen, which suits him perfectly. One of his throws involves a ring of his Spirit Buddies dancing around the opponent. I’ve always loved that, as well as the way his projectile nullifies another. You get a glimpse at his ugly mug whenever he blocks. Brilliant!
Mudman, what is this? This isn’t the set of Thriller!
He was embarrassed in the first tournament but now he’s back for revenge. This time he battles in front of a captive crowd at a Coliseum in Italy. A massive Geegus statue has been erected. In his mind, there is only one true God to be worshiped and feared…
Geegus can now blow himself up, setting his opponent on fire in the process. The drawback of this new move however is it takes him a few moments to recompose himself which leaves him wide open. This should be used strictly as a last ditch effort.
Geegus is gone so you’ve won the tournament, right? Not so fast! Meet the new final boss, NEO DIO. In the arcade, he was infamous for being one of the cheapest fighting game bosses of all time. Thankfully, Saurus scaled him way down for the SNES port. Mercifully!
Dio arrives in a blaze of glory. Dude sure knows how to make a dramatic entrance! If you think about it, Dio just lowkey committed genocide. The entire crowd of spectators are wiped out in the blink of an eye. Wherever Dio goes, destruction follows. The Geegus statue has been obliterated. There’s only room for one supreme being!
Having a fetish for slicing and dicing, Dio’s Sonic Saber and Gran Saber rips through the competition. The Rolling Smash shows off his graceful agility. Dio doesn’t have a fireball but he can create a static ball of energy that lasts for a couple seconds.
FIGHT TO THE DEATH
The ingenious Death Match is back. Sadly, World Heroes 2 was the last game in the series to feature the Death Match. Unfortunately, the original game had better Death Matches. For example, I loved the ring with the burning ropes in the first game. The sequel had grenades on the ropes instead. It just didn’t look as cool.
Also a shame that ADK’s infamous “Aftershock Effect” is gone. That’s part of what made the first game’s Death Matches so compelling. Few things in gaming match the sheer pleasure of watching a guy get roasted in slow motion even after you’ve dealt the final blow. These are just minor gripes, though. Overall, I’m glad the Death Matches returned even if they’re slightly watered down. Let’s take a closer look at the eight different Death Matches below.
ABSOLUTELY priceless. Poor Shura had to get this stage, eh?
Giving the guy with no fireball the land mine stage? Classic ADK. The new projectile deflection definitely helps, though. I always appreciated the subtle sense of dark humor that these games have.
NOT SO HAPPY ENDINGS
I’ll share a few of my favorites…
Maximum’s quite the fine athlete, no?
AN AGE-OLD RIVALRY RENEWED
Hanzou and Fuuma have their own specific post match quotes devoted to each other. Did Ryu and Ken have this back in the day? No sir. This rivalry was LEGIT!
2 Player mode allows you to use the bosses up front. You now have a whopping 16fighters to select from. But there’s also a secret code that lets you use the bosses in the regular mode.
BETA VERSION DIFFERENCES
Around 2010 I discovered that the SNES beta version of World Heroes 2 differs from the final product. I was blown away because the beta version actually plays more like the arcade. There are some bugs, though. The biggest difference is that combos are easier to do in the beta version. This is where owning some kind of SNES flash cart (like the PowerPak for example) is super handy…
Hanzou and Fuuma have different Dragon Uppercuts in the beta version. In fact, they much more accurately represent their arcade forms, whereas in the final version their Dragon Uppercuts are identical. Not to mention, the animation is a bit lackluster. In the beta version, the animation on the Dragon Uppercuts looks much better
Game speed in the beta version mirrors arcade speed more
It’s possible to chain several jabs together in the beta version. You really can’t do this in the final version. Try Hanzou’s Leg Lariat followed by a Dragon Uppercut. You can pull off this sweet chain in the beta version with the greatest of ease, but you can’t in the final product no matter how hard you try.
Unfortunately, Mudman’s Mud Cutter in the beta version in an unfinished move. It works but only the first frame. Also, Geegus’ exploding attack is missing.
Endings in beta have slightly different text
There is an option to listen to the sound effects and music tracks in the beta version
WHY SO SERIOUS?
I love that this game never took itself too seriously. The Death Match was a brilliant feature and lended the first two games a subtle yet satisfying sense of black humor. Wacky fighters like Brocken, Rasputin, Mudman, a towering football titan with red glowing eyes, and a Hulk Hogan knock-off bring a certain level of quirk to the game that I’ve always appreciated.
Yet it’s also really cool how the game does take itself seriously, too. It strikes a good balance between having outlandish characters and more serious ones, such as the rival ninjas, Kim Dragon and that swashbuckling scourge of the High Seas, Captain Kidd. It’s a mix that worked really well in my book.
WHAT THE CRITICS SAID
Similar to how the first World Heroes came out a month after Street Fighter II Turbo on the SNES, World Heroes 2 came out a month or two following Super Street Fighter II. Not exactly the best timing in the world, especially given how World Heroes 2 was in the arcade a good six months before Super Street Fighter II. Nonetheless, the heroes held their own and fared rather well with the critics. EGM crew gave it scores of 6, 7, 8, 8 and 8. GameFan gave it ratings of 80, 80 and 84%. Super Play rated it 80%. Most people agree it was a great port. Sure, it’s missing the intro, some animations, bonus stages, referees and so on, but it really was a fantastic port by 16-bit standards. It’s just a shame it didn’t come out a few months before Super Street Fighter II. That stole a lot of its thunder.
All the cool SNES extras — speed options, six colors, four button layout and playable bosses — make this game a winner in my book. Saurus did a very good job, although I do wish it were more combo friendly. You can rip off combos in the arcade game pretty easily but it’s very hard to here. The first World Heroes on SNES was way too easy in terms of pulling off dizzying combos, but the sequel goes the opposite end. It’s really my one glaring flaw with this port. Other than that and slightly small sprites, it’s a pretty bang up job. The colors are fairly vibrant and it’s pretty amazing to consider how much of the arcade game’s look they were able to translate to the Super Nintendo. This is as good as anyone probably could have made World Heroes 2 on the SNES to be. The sound is a little weak but the death cries are awesome. The music varies from decent to very good. Some of those tunes I can still hear when I close my eyes.
At 16 fighters and 24 MEGS, World Heroes 2 was one of the biggest fighting games of its time. Yet sadly, World Heroes 2 kind of flew under the radar. In my view, it strikes the perfect balance between being serious and a little silly. Where else can you send Hulk Hogan flying into a spiked wall one moment and the next be swapping projectiles with Joe Montana? It’s cool how each fighter was based off a historical figure. Although it’s a pretty blatant Street Fighter II clone, it also did its fair share of unique things such as the Death Match, air fireballs (Rasputin was the first fighter to have one), throw counters, projectile repelling and so on. An unsung hero of the SNES library, World Heroes 2 is definitely one of the better fighting games on the SNES not named Street Fighter II.
Super Baseball 2020 was originally released in the arcades back in late 1991 as part of the Neo Geo lineup. It was later ported to the SNES in the summer of 1993. It’s crazy that we’re only two and a half years away from 2020! When I first saw the arcade cab in ’91 I remember thinking to myself that 2020 would never get here. Indeed, at the time it was nearly 30 years away. 30 years to a kid is an eternity. Yet here we are. On the brink of 2020. That blows my mind. Looks like we won’t have super robots playing baseball a couple years from now, though. But hey, you can always simulate that with Super Baseball 2020!
WELCOME TO THE YEAR 2020
FAIR OR FOUL?
Baseball rules and regulations have drastically changed by the year 2020. Now the emphasis is on a larger fair playing field, making action quicker and more exciting. The foul zone’s been reduced to strictly behind the catcher. As a result, one can score hits all over the field!
SHOW ME THE MONEY
Upgrade your robotic players to super soldiers of destruction. Money is earned based on positive plays. Similarly, money is lost on negative plays. Adds a bit of depth and strategy to the old baseball formula.
Exceptional outs are highlighted by cutscenes, just like in the arcade!
Check out the timing on this one. The ball should sail off those fancy blue glass plates for a single or double, but alas…
“DAMNIT UMP, I WAS SAFE!”
“DAMNIT UMP, HE WAS OUT!”
WHAT THE PROS WEAR IN 2020
KICK SOME GLASS
One of the best things about this game is no doubt those futuristic looking blue glass plates that cover the audience. More than cosmetic, balls that are hit on the glass plates are considered in play! This leads to what I like to call “Wall Ball.” Nothing beats smacking a ball so hard that it rolls down several planes of glass, allowing you to stretch singles into doubles or even triples!
Wall Ball is a hoot. It’s even better when you have runners on base. Balls hammered to the far reaches of the stadium bounce slowly off the glass as your men round the bases.
Who didn’t love Lego back in the day? In addition to the huge bases and fortresses you could lose yourself in for hours on end, I was always fascinated by the color glass plates. Playing Super Baseball 2020 takes me back to those innocent childhood days playing with my favorite Lego sets. One of my favorites was the Metro PD Station. The glass windows resemble those of Super Baseball 2020 so much.
WHAT’S THE PASSWORD?
The password feature is a bummer. Baseball games of this era mostly used a battery backup memory. Thankfully, seasons are only 15 games long. It makes the password tracking a bit more bearable. Also, the 12 character passwords aren’t the worst in the world. Not ideal, but not a deal breaker.
Lowest team in terms of total points: Aussie Battlers (20). Highest team in terms of total points: Taiwan Mega Powers and Tropical Girls (29). The Tropical Girls and the Battle Angels are the two all-female teams. I love that each team has its own pros and cons.
Overwork your players and robots will falter and break down. Once they explode, they become extremely ineffective. As soon as they show signs of wearing down, you’d do well to replace them.
All games in the year 2020 are played exclusively in the Cyber Egg Stadium. Gone are unique team stadiums and home field advantage. It’s a bit of a shame but the Cyber Egg Stadium is so cool that it almost makes you forget about there being only one ballpark to play in. Almost.
Apparently, even in the year 2020 some things never change. Seems like in the off-season the Cyber Egg Stadium also acts as a football stadium. Oakland A’s and Oakland Raiders, I’m looking at you.
HURRY, get in position! Now jump! *CLUNK* D’OH!
Replace your pitcher, fielders, base runners or hitter with a robot off the bench, or upgrade if you have the cash.
After being crushed way to the top of the upper deck, it finally lands somewhere on the 8th glass plane and begins to bounce off several on the way down. Meanwhile the runners are circling the bases like mad ants and the opposition can’t do a DAMN thing about it but wait and curse. This unique feature alone makes Super Baseball 2020 a blast to play with a friend.
It cannot be overstated how much fun comes from the trash talking that ensues in moments such as this. My brother and I had a riot taunting each other while playing this game. Having only one stadium for all 12 teams is a bit of a bummer but like I said, when the one stadium is as cool as the Cyber Egg Stadium, it’s a lot easier to overlook.
Instead of the typical 7th inning stretch, in the year 2020 the 7th inning means only one thing: the WILD CARD INNING. This is where both teams receive a major boost of added power. Because you know, baseball and steroids have never been linked together before. Things tend to get a little nutty in the 7th…
MEGA POWERS WIN IT ALL
I played a 15 game season with the Mega Powers and was neck and neck with the all-female team, the Battle Angels. The most epic game of the season came in Game #13 which saw my Mega Powers (10-2) going up against the Battle Angels (10-2). I was up 6-4 going to the bottom of the 9th, but the Angels scratched back to tie it at 6 a piece. I ended up surviving a barn burner 7-6 after 13 innings and five (!) dead robots. It was one of those epic games you never forget. I finished the season 13-2 and went on to defeat the special team in the Championship game.
THE FUTURE ISN’T ALWAYS BETTER
No tagging back. If you attempt to advance on an outfield out, there’s no turning back. I guess the robots were programmed with this flaw and no one caught it during quality assurance.
No way to change the batting order or fielders.
Zero individual stat tracking.
You can’t run to the next base until the other runner passes it. This becomes glaringly annoying when you have a fast robot trailing a pair of robots that would make Bernie Sanders look like Deion Sanders.
Fielding is about 75% automatic. The other 25% of the time it’s not as smooth and well executed as the baseball game that set the standard for defensive fielding, Ken Griffey Jr. Presents Major League Baseball.
WHAT THE CRITICS SAID
The SNES port of Super Baseball 2020 was well received for the most part. GameFan gave it ratings of 70,76, 80 and 82%. Super Play rated it 85%. The SNES port did an admirable job replicating what made the arcade game such a fan favorite. Appealing even to non baseball fans, Super Baseball 2020 brings a refreshing new take on America’s favorite pastime.
It was quite the thrill seeing this childhood favorite of mine at a retro gaming store back in 2006. Seeing Super Baseball 2020 in the wild brought back a flood of fond memories of playing the Neo Geo cab at Safeway as well as renting the SNES port. Being that the game takes place in the year 2020, there’s a neat little futuristic feel to the whole game. This includes the robotic players, the sleek looking blue glass planes that cover the entire Cyber Egg Stadium, and the interesting financial aspects that bring a new dimension of strategy and know-how to the old baseball formula. Put together, it all works rather well. I can’t stress how fun it is to play this game against a like-minded friend or sibling. OK so there are only 12 teams, only one stadium and too many players look alike, but the fun factor covers a multitude of sins.
Is it the pinnacle of baseball games? No. It’s certainly not without its flaws (as noted earlier), but you simply won’t find another baseball title like this on your 16-bit Super Nintendo. Any time a game can put itself in a “special class” of its own and is fun to play, that game is going to earn bonus points with me. Nothing beats hitting those scorching wall ball hits. The best ones are the rare hits where the ball doesn’t bounce but roll slowly down the glass planes. These hits can lead to inside the park home runs but are extremely rare, which makes it all the more satisfying when it does happen. Aside from the missing bombs, speech samples and some frames of animation, this is a faithful translation of the arcade smash hit. The graphics are big and colorful. There’s a certain solid simplicity to the visuals. The sound is nothing to write home about, but not anything I hated. This is just a fun little baseball game. It doesn’t come close to touching the epochal Ken Griffey Jr. Presents Major League Baseball, but for a decent alternative with a neat futuristic ambiance and quirks you just won’t find elsewhere, Super Baseball 2020 smashes a solid double in the bottom of the 9th.
It’s early Christmas morning as I write this, and believe it or not, this game will forever be connected to Christmas. 24 years ago, in late December of 1992, my mom bought me King of the Monsters on the Super Nintendo. It was the first game she ever bought for me without first conferring with my brother. And it took something of a Christmas miracle to pull it off, so you can see my nostalgic desire to write about this game on this day. Sure, the SNES port was butchered. But the memories of this game live on to this very day. It was not only the first SNES game my mom ever bought for me but it was also one of the earliest arcade games I can remember experiencing. In fact, I remember it as if it only happened yesterday… *cue fuzzy flashback sequence*
***SOME TIME IN MID 1991***
The 2nd* arcade game I can remember playing was at Safeway with my brother, Kevin. It was like any other typical Tuesday night in the old neighborhood. The year was 1991. My bro and I tagged along with our dad to the local grocery store, doing our best to convince pops to buy us those delicious dinosaur fruit snacks. And if we were lucky, the WWF ice cream bars as well. We would be ecstatic if pops caved in to even just one of them. On this trip, no such luck however. We made our way to the end of a very long line. Kevin and I weren’t exactly the best behaved kids in the history of kids. Neither of us could stand still to save our lives. Unknowingly, it was a cunning strategy, for we spotted an arcade cab nearby in the corner where they sell the coal. Pops was more than happy to oblige, plopping two quarters in our hands, in exchange for a few minutes of peace and quiet. Off to the races we disappeared like two chalky ghosts in the night.
*The first arcade game I played was Street Fighter II.
When we arrived at the cab, I gazed up in amazement like it were the Sistine Chapel. What an amazing sight the Neo Geo MVS cab truly was. These were machines that housed four different SNK arcade games. I remember seeing Sengoku, a side scrolling beat ‘em up. But when I saw King of the Monsters for the first time ever, I knew I had found my match. It pitted six giant monsters against one another in a duel to the death. My brother and I were instantly sold. He picked the Ultraman clone, Astro Guy, while I chose the Godzilla lookalike, Geon. We played the tag team bedlam mode, which allowed me and my brother to team up simultaneously to rampage against two computer foes. Being an avid fan of Godzilla and monsters, I found myself enamored. My brother and I couldn’t shut up about it on the car ride home. That night I fell in love with King of the Monsters.
December 1991. My parents took me and my brother to our favorite place, Chuck E. Cheese’s, to celebrate the end of the year. My mother was rather strict so these rare opportunities where she allowed us to binge on our desires were not taken for granted! They ordered two large pizzas and got us 50 tokens. I knew where I was going to be for the rest of that night — at the King of the Monsters cab determined to beat it! It took me some time and way too many quarters to count but at last I did it, all while my mom sat back at the table eating unwanted leftover pizza crust and watching the whole thing go down.
I stepped back, drenched in sweat from wrestling with the joypad, and stared back at my mom who sat there smiling. I looked back at the arcade to watch the ending. My boy Rocky destroyed the news studio as a wide grin formed on my kisser. I recall thinking to myself, “I can’t wait for this to come home on the SNES!”
My mom and I used to go to the mall all the time. It was one of our traditions. She took me after school every Friday, rain or shine. I loved it because this was a time in life when the world was a different place. Even as young as 8, my mom allowed me to hit up my stores while she went shopping for clothes. This gave me a great sense of independence and for about 30 minutes I was on my own completely! I always visited Suncoast, Kay Bee Toys, Walden Books, Sam Goody, and of course, the classic SOFTWARE ETC.
Now rarely did she ever end up buying me anything once we reconvened, but that was never the point. It was fun enough thumbing through books, EGM magazines and drooling at the various action figures. It was the feeling that it produced. Just knowing you were on your own for half an hour made going to the mall a fun time. But the best times always came during Christmas season.
The mall Santa was there taking pictures, kissing babies and shaking little hands. At nine and a half years old now, I was too old for that stuff, but not old enough to not still believe in the magic of Christmas. So instead of sitting on Santa’s lap, I simply sat back from afar to admire what had been, and what once was.
My mom came over asking if I wanted to meet the mall Santa, but I told her I was too old. She looked at the kids rushing up to Santa just 20 feet away from us, lost in her thoughts. Somewhere in her aging face I saw her loosen up, as if she suddenly missed the days when I was that young scampering around. Perhaps it was the right kind of Christmas magic I’d need for what was about to transpire on that most magical December evening…
There it was, plastered in big and bold blue letters. I always made it a point to hit up SOFTWARE ETC. each time we visited the mall. Of course, I could only dream of my mom complying to buy me a video game. Still, like a moth to flame, those bold blue letters always sucked me in. I stood there that evening in sheer awe of the endless shelves of SNES goodies — games in which I could only dream of owning. And then, there it was. High on the shelf I saw it, shining like a beacon of light. KING OF THE MONSTERS for the Super Nintendo! It was just one short year ago that I’d beaten the arcade and thought to myself, “Man, I can’t wait for this to come home!” And now, it finally has. Only one problem, of course. How can I convince mom to buy it? Standing there, staring at the pristine shiny King of the Monsters box, my mind desperately raced through everything I could think of in order to weigh the odds in my favor.
I didn’t have very long to think…
“C’mon honey, we gotta get back home now.”
“What is it?”
“That…” I pointed to the King of the Monsters box sitting on the top shelf. “I want that.”
OK, so much for poetic language and convincing arguments.
My mom gave me “the look.” Uh oh. In the history of “momkind” the look has never been good news. Whether it was a look of frustration, disappointment or disgust, the look has denied kids an untold number of desserts, toys and video games. This task, I could tell, was going to be about as easy as Quantum Physics.
“Honey, that’s fifty five dollars.”
“No, it’s fifty four ninety nine!” I quickly countered. HA! I thought I had her — ahh, the bliss of being nine years old…
“Well actually with tax it’s about sixty,” she corrected.
Well DAMN. Talk about backfiring!
And then, out of nowhere, it hit me. My trump card. I explained to her how it was my favorite game, how I had to have it, and how much joy it would bring Kevin and me. And that if she bought it, it would count for not only my Christmas gift but also my birthday as well.
My mom grabbed the box to examine it closer. “Hey, isn’t this the game you played all night last year at Chuck E. Cheese’s? Is this the same one?”
I nodded furiously and watched as my mom bit her lower lip, contemplating what to do. Finally, after what seemed like forever, she took the game to the counter. I stood there in awe watching as they swiped her credit card. It was the first video game she bought for me. Outside I could hear the chattering of youngsters and the HO-HO-HOs of the mall Santa. The Christmas season was ringing in full force, and this bit of Christmas magic only punctuated the moment. I couldn’t wait to get home and play it…
NOT QUITE THE KING…
Right away we noticed there was no Player 1 and Player 2 vs. CPU 1 and CPU 2 option. In other words, there was no tornado tag team mode — hands down the best thing about the game.
The HELL?! What gives? Where was the King Kong wannabe, Woo? And what about the Smog Monster AKA Hedorah, where was his twin, Poison Ghost? So not only did Genki scrub the best mode of the game, but they also scrapped two of the six monsters. Man, was I disappointed.
But you know the funny thing? I was a kid and even I knew it was a pretty butchered port, but there was a big part of me that somehow managed to still enjoy it quite a bit. It was weird. So much of the game had been gutted, but it was still King of the Monsters in my living room. And, at the time, that accounted for something.
NOT JUST FLAVOR OF THE MONTH
In the early part of 1993, my mom took me to places like ROSS. I remember one time I brought the King of the Monsters manual with me. I walked up and down those aisles with my head buried in the booklet. As mediocre as the port was, I kind of became oddly semi-obsessed with it. Well, at least my mom got her sixty dollars’ worth, eh?
THE STORY GOES…
GEON Special Attack: FLAME CRUSHER
When an ice glacier melted due to the abnormal warm weather in the Russian mountains, it unleashed the horror that is Geon. Unhappy to be roused from his deep slumber, he takes it out on anybody, or anything, that gets in his way. His hobbies include destroying cities and gobbling trains. The first character I selected, I have a soft spot for ol’ Geon. I tend to use him the most — his level 3 FLAME CRUSHER is quite a sight to behold.
ROCKY Special Attack: ROCKY BOMBER
No one knows for sure where this mountain of rocks comes from. Rumor has it Rocky is a monster evolved from the Sphinx, Egypt’s God of Protection. Others believe he descended from the stars, angry with the way 20th century mankind has mistreated the environment. But one thing is for sure, he’s got a nasty disposition! Don’t let this pile of stone fool you — how Rocky can move so well is a mystery. I like Rocky. He has a cool roar and was the monster I used to beat the arcade game 25 years ago. Guess we been through a lot over the years, eh, Rocko?
Delivers one hell of a running clothesline. Any wrestling fan would approve!
BEETLE MANIA Special Attack: BEETLE MISSILE
An ordinary beetle residing in the Amazon, one fateful evening that all changed when the mad creature underwent a horrific and mysterious transformation. Lacking any kind of intelligence, he destroyed even the forest in which he was born! However, his skills are plenty. With a hard body shell and tremendous fighting spirit, Beetle Mania now roams the earth in search for the next great fight. Unfortunately it comes at the expense of civilization as we know it!
Beetle Mania was clearly based off Godzilla’s 1973 nemesis, Megalon. Like many others in the Godzilla universe, I too am a fan of the “one hit bug wonder.” It’s too bad he wasn’t resurrected for Godzilla: Final Wars like how his battle mate Gigan was, but I digress. I always found Megalon’s suit really cool.
ASTRO GUY Special Attack: FLASH WAVE
Holding the distinct claim of being the only, uh, human, to a certain degree you understand, Astro Guy originally started out as a mad scientist. Naturally, through experimentation he transformed himself into a super musclebound creature to fight the monsters suddenly appearing all over the world. What began as noble intentions to protect cities and rid the world of monsters was soon corrupted by the absolute allure of having no equal. Now what his true intentions are is anyone’s guess…
Obviously inspired by SPECTREMAN! Ah, the tin wonder played a role in my childhood. I remember how bulky the cases were for the Spectreman tapes. It really caught your eye on the video store shelf. My dad bought me the one where he battles both an Alien and the “Monster Hedgehog.”
The theme song was the best part
In a flash, like a flame, faster than a plane, a mystery with a name,
Power from space, he’ll save the human race, yet, they’ll never know the face of Spectreman!
We will never know the source of his powers and his force as he guides this planet’s course…
You battle each monster twice. In the arcade this meant a grueling 12 rounds. At home it’s a much more manageable 8. And this is the only time I’m happy to see four monsters instead of the full six. Stage 1 is home to Geon, but since we’ve seen it already (see the screenshots above), let us jump straight to stage 2 where we take on Rocky.
As a kid I thought the stages were randomly constructed. Years later I came to realize they’re based on real life landmarks. Nice.
Yes, some of these towering skyscrapers can be seen, and destroyed, in the two Osaka stages. With Okayama having no tall buildings really, switching over then to Osaka was a very welcome sight.
“Alright gentlemen. We went over the rules in the back but just to reiterate, I want a good clean fight, alright? That means no zapping below the belt. Remember, I’m fair but firm. Let’s touch gloves!”
Monsters love to play hide and seek too, apparently. Or hide and maul, as it were.
Nothing was better than hitting a big move on your opponent and watching the poor hapless sap go crashing through one of the big monuments scattered about. Sure, you can demolish the big buildings with three punches yourself, but the real fun comes in the form of sending your rival through one!
Adding insult to injury was always fun.
The classic GET UP severed hand remains. Continue and experience a jolt of power as your monster gets resurrected.
THE END ?
UNH, JUST THROW IT ON ME, UNH!
Hit them with the strongest move in the game — the german suplex.
“What’s so cheap about this?”
For some ridiculous reason, this move leads to a re-dizzy. You can repeat this tactic 20 times in a row. No joke. Did someone not play test this thing? One might be thinking, “Well it must be pretty hard to dizzy them, right?” Not so. A few consecutive throws with their health bar on low does the trick. They get up in a daze, go behind them and press Y. Boom, german suplex. Then wait for them to get back up in a daze yet again, and repeat. For ultimate damage, while they’re on laying on the ground, unleash your special attack. Sometimes you can nail them twice with your projectile. Yikes.
The german suplex can also be applied in front during a grapple by pressing Y+B. But when your opponent is dizzy, simply pressing Y or B from behind works.
But hold on a second, if you thought THAT was cheap…
There’s only one answer to this, besides your opponent mistiming it. The Japanese military finally notches a small victory against giant rubber suited monsters!
Hey thanks, Genki. Appreciate it. I hope you’re not just sucking up…
Genki dude:Of course not… oh, here’s some fruitcake — for you!
Genki dude:Uh the holidays, sir.
Ahhh. Si, si…
Feel like it’s Jet Jaguar vs. Megalon all over again! Hmmm, come to think of it, seeing Godzilla and his buddies in a King of the Monsters universe would have been pretty cool. Imagine Godzilla and company in this style of game. I’m sure we would have ate it up! Well, at least we got Godzilla: Kaijuu Daikessen.
Rocky’s bite animation always reminded me of the robot bloke on the NES Mega Man 3 cover! You see the resemblance, don’t cha?
Credit this wonderful art here to Nathan Newell and his excellent cool site nathansmuscleblog.blogspot.com/
That’s Black Hole Sunshine vs. Wood Beetle for the record, but damn do Rocky and Beetle Mania look like them!
WHAT THE CRITICS SAID
It was all quiet on the western front. The game was released just before GameFan’s time and EGM only ran a quick one page preview. They ended up never reviewing it. Super Play rated it 79% though an actual review never appeared in the magazine. SNES King of the Monsters just never got much publicity. If only it did then maybe I wouldn’t have been so caught off guard with all the cuts!
GENESIS VS. SNES VERSIONS
Which port is better? I’ve never played the Genesis port but it does look damn impressive. Looks much more identical to its arcade brother than the SNES port does. How it plays though I have no idea. Released about one year after the SNES port, the tag team mode and two monsters are still missing, but everything else looks to be pretty good. Check the graphical differences between the Genesis and SNES ports below.
GameFan gave the Genesis port some good loving with scores of 89, 87, 83 and 82%. “It blows the doors off the SNES version” and “makes it look like dog meat” were some of the comments recorded. The Genesis port was developed by SPS.
The arcade original was released by SNK in Japan on February 25, 1991. By freak accident, exactly 15 years later, I bought the SNES port (for the second time but this time with my own money). Back in ’92 I recall having a strange fascination with the port despite my knowledge of how butchered it was. Replaying the SNES port in 2006, I wondered how much my opinion might change or not. Turns out not much has. It’s a port that was stripped of its best feature and a whopping 33% of its original cast. It should have been so much better, but what remains is kind of still King of the Monsters. It was never a perfect game to begin with. Some key aspects missing definitely accentuate the flaws but what’s left isn’t unplayable by any means. You just have to take it for what it is, or simply leave it. Still, I couldn’t help but enjoy playing it for 15-20 minutes. Perhaps if nothing else but for the nostalgia of that unforgettable Christmas 1992 season. I acknowledge this game is ho-hum at best, but it is admittedly something of a guilty pleasure for me.
The graphics are the best part of this game. Though grainy and lacking intricate detail in the monsters themselves, the cities look pretty fantastic, especially the ones at night. Each stage gives you plenty of space to roam within the confines of two electrical barriers. Sound and music is decent, fitting for this game which has a Japanese 1960’s B-Movie feel to it. Sadly, it’s the game play that abandons it. What could have been! First, the grapple system. Is it based on timing? No. Button mashing? Not that either. Nope, it appears that the victor is totally random. And thus, grappling is a wash and never feels wholly satisfying. Secondly, to win a match you must score a 3 count on your rival. But in order to do so, you must pin them multiple times after their health bar has been fully depleted. Let’s say you pound on Rocky for three minutes solid once his energy bar has hit zero before going for the cover. He’ll still kick out at 2 (in John Cena fashion). What gives? It makes no sense to have to pin them several times every single time. It’s rigged to be like this, and it feels incredibly cheap. You should be rewarded for kicking the snot out of them, but you’re not. And then you have the two erroneous gameplay tricks as documented earlier, in addition to the missing tornado tag team mode and monsters.
Speaking of the monsters, and this by the way was prevalent in the arcade game as well, the monsters are exactly the same! Well, aside from their special move and rushing attack. No differences in strength, speed, agility, or any of that good stuff. The moveset is severely limited — you’re relegated to a throw, german suplex, pile driver and a bear hug or a bite hold in a grapple. How cool would it be if the monsters had their own unique moves, to go along with speed and strength differences?
Yet despite all these glaring flaws, I still kind of like the game in some small ways. Call it nostalgia, call it what you want, but there are some games you just have a connection with (for better or for worse). Though they’re far from being great, or even good, you still play them once in a blue moon because in some strange and small way you enjoy doing so. We all have a few games for which that rings true. Nobody can say exactly why someone would like it, except for that person, and that person alone. Yeah, part of me is still annoyed that Woo and Poison Ghost are nowhere to be found and that the tag mode was scrapped, but like a good longtime friend you accept them for who they are, warts and all.