Ranma ½: Chougi Ranbu Hen (SFC)

Pub: Shogakukan | Dev: Atelier Double | April 28, 1994
Pub: Shogakukan | Dev: Atelier Double | April 1994

There were three Ranma ½ fighting games on the SNES. The first one was embarrassingly repackaged as Street Combat. The second one, Ranma ½ Hard Battle, was released in North America 25 years ago and received mixed reviews. The last of the trilogy, Ranma ½: Chougi Ranbu Hen, was scheduled to come out stateside but was canned due to poor sales of its predecessor. It’s a shame since Chougi Ranbu Hen is easily the best of the trilogy. It plays a bit like an old SNK fighting game. The lack of speed takes some getting used to but unlike Hard Battle which features an awkward control scheme, Chougi Ranbu Hen is much more traditional with special moves performed in Street Fighter II fashion. Not only does that make for a more enjoyable experience but Chougi Ranbu Hen also features a rare tag team mode. Very few SNES fighting games can claim that!

It just wasn't meant to be...
It just wasn’t meant to be…
Thanks to the poor sales of its predecessor
Thanks to the poor sales of its predecessor










By pressing the “L” button at any point during the battle, your character will perform a rather long taunting animation. If you can successfully pull this off without getting hit, you will activate your super power. Your moves will inflict more damage and you can even perform a super desperation move.






A code to be the boss in a fighting game. How original
A code to be the boss in a fighting game. How original



Ranma ½: Chougi Ranbu Hen received mostly positive reviews from those who have played it. Consensus has it that it’s easily the best of the SNES trilogy. Super Play rated it 79%. It’s often considered as one of the best fighting games found exclusively on the Super Famicom, ranking right up there with the likes of Godzilla: Kaijuu Daikessen, Gundam Wing: Endless Duel and SD Hiryu no Ken. Personally, I like those three brawlers a lot more than Chougi Ranbu Hen. Nevertheless, it definitely belongs in the conversation.



If you like old school fighters, don’t mind a slower paced fighting game and you’re a Ranma ½ fan, then I recommend this game. If those parameters aren’t suited for you, however, then this game won’t sway you the other way. It’s a perfectly decent fighting game that represents the brand well. Control is smooth and combos are easy to execute (something the previous two Ranma games lacked). The tag team mode adds some extra novelty and there are other cool little options. Examples include four color choices for each fighter, the ability to select stages and play the computer even in the VS. mode (and not just the story mode). However, it is disappointingly slow with no speed option available. If only it played a little faster, I would have enjoyed this game far more. But all in all, Ranma ½: Chougi Ranbu Hen is solid fighting fare, and is easily the best of the Ranma ½ trilogy.


Ultra Baseball Jitsumeiban Trilogy (SFC)

Culture Brain's at it again
Culture Brain’s at it again

You might recall a somewhat obscure company (especially when compared to bigger names like Capcom and Konami) by the name of Culture Brain back in the day. They had a knack for making “quirky” games with features that were a little outside the box (to say the very least). You might remember them for the little quirky SNES game Super Baseball Simulator 1.000. Its Japanese title is Super Ultra Baseball and it was released in Japan on July 12, 1991. It graced North American shores in time for Christmas 1991 and earned itself a semi-cult following with many SNES players harboring fond memories of those early days. Well, did you know that Culture Brain released ANOTHER Super Nintendo baseball franchise but exclusively in Japan? This trilogy was known as Ultra Baseball Jitsumeiban. They share a lot in common with the Super Ultra Baseball series and I find it oddly fascinating that one little company had essentially two similar but different baseball franchises running simultaneously on the same system. It’s about as quirky as Culture Brain itself was!








Released on August 28, 1992, Ultra Baseball Jitsumeiban feels more like the true sequel to Super Baseball Simulator 1.000 than Super Ultra Baseball 2 does, on account of the gap being one year as opposed to three. One thing that caught my eye right away was the ability to play in the early evening time which the original game did not present. I’m a sucker for night time in my video games, and that definitely (if not especially) includes baseball.







Sunny days are meant for baseball. But there’s also something beautiful about baseball in the early evening, and this game captures that.







Similarities between the two are inherently apparent. I dig the improved visuals of Ultra Baseball Jitsumeiban. There’s something real clean and classy about it especially when compared side by side to the original as seen here.







Surely you can guess which game is which. What a difference one year makes.







Cosmetics aside, Ultra Baseball Jitsumeiban also improved on its fielding. Players control a hair smoother.













Nothing compares to a close dramatic play at home plate!







WHAT THE — ! Culture Brain trying to infiltrate my brain…







Celebrate your big shot by shouting WAO! Who doesn’t?







There’s something truly majestic about smashing the ball deep into the night. You can almost smell the fresh cut grass and hot dogs. If you look closely you can even see the ball heading for those fancy lights there.













Admiring your handy work is all part of the fun.







Worry not, the Ultra Plays are back.







They’re what made the original game so popular and memorable. And just like the first game, when you activate an Ultra Play you and any base runners will flash as well. Good stuff.







That’s definitely going to leave a mark.













Missile Hit returns in all its glory.







That’s not the Flash. But you sure feel like him!



Jitsumeiban in case you were wondering means “Real Player Version.” Culture Brain acquired the rights to use professional Japanese ball players in this trilogy, and this accounts for the major difference between this series and the Super Ultra Baseball one. Obviously there’s some Japanese text to wade through but it’s very manageable and just a really well made baseball game overall. I probably prefer Super Baseball Simulator 1.000 on account of English and nostalgia, but it’s definitely not a bad pick up if you’re so inclined.


The hi-jinx continues
The hi-jinx continues in some very charming ways

Funny story right off the bat [HAR HAR -Ed.], I bought this game back in 2006 and for a number of years was convinced it was the direct sequel to Super Baseball Simulator 1.000. After all, it was a Culture Brain baseball game with the number 2 attached at the end of it. How many bloody different baseball franchises on the same system can one company make? Well, apparently two. It came to my attention in 2008 or so that the direct sequel was Super Ultra Baseball 2. And that this game here, in fact, was Ultra Baseball Jitsumeiban 2. Yes, Culture Brain’s other baseball franchise on the Super Famicom. Confused yet? Don’t worry if you are, I sure as hell was nearly a decade ago. Who knew Culture Brain were such whores for baseball? :P They truly were the Capcom of this particular genre. So how does Ultra Baseball Jitsumeiban 2 separate itself from the crowded pack?








WHOA! Right away you notice there are two vastly different presentational styles. The default is a cute Chibi, almost Super Deformed style. But there’s also an option to switch to more traditional, typical 16-bit looking baseball sprites.







Honey, I Think I Shrunk The Ball Players! Call me a sucker for the small stuff but I love this! I personally prefer the Chibi style as it gives the game an even quirkier atmosphere not to mention it plays better in this mode.







Super Deformed mode allows you to see much of the field on defense. The other mode, however, doesn’t. It makes a huge difference when you lose that MUCH real estate! Playing defense takes a huge hit because you see less.







While it’s cool that Culture Brain threw in this mode, it honestly feels more like a throwaway than a well thought out process. Look at the fielding. You can’t see much and it really hinders play. Shame they didn’t adjust the scope because then it would truly feel like two games in one. Still, being an option, it’s hard to complain much about this. Just stick to the Chibi mode and you’ll be fine.







These two shots above are from Super Ultra Baseball 2 (July 28, 1994). Ultra Baseball Jitsumeiban 2 only came out less than five months later on December 22, 1994. It’s easy to see Culture Brain just slapped on the sprites from Super Ultra Baseball 2 as a bonus. But look at the much more reasonable fielding in that game. Why they didn’t convert that over as well is much to the detriment of this additional mode. So it’s a nice novelty but not one with any real staying power.







Nevertheless, I still admire that it’s even there to begin with. It kind of feels like this game Culture Brain wanted to sort of melt their two franchises together: the Super Ultra Baseball series with Ultra Baseball Jitsumeiban. While not a home run, I admire the swinging attempt, anyhow. Besides, the Ultra Plays will forever connect the two series and it’s always a welcomed sight.







Charming, isn’t it? It’s a lot of fun to play, too.







Baseball pitchers or Street Fighters? It’s hard to tell at times. But it’s absolutely brilliant all the same.







There’s even sort of a quasi-EarthBound style to its visuals…







Speaking of the Bomb special (as seen above next to EarthBound), it always cracks me up to see the ball exploding in the bleachers. Hope those fans are OK!







ProTip: Avoid meteors whenever possible.



















Taking out multiple defenders with the Missile Hit? Priceless.







Nervous, are we? Oh, I see why. Hey, this is baseball. Not ballet!



There’s something about Ultra Baseball Jitsumeiban 2 that I can’t help but love. I admire Culture Brain’s attempt to blend the two franchises together. Of the trilogy, this is the closest example to such a feat. While it isn’t perfect, you have to admire the attempt. If only they nailed it then this could have been Culture Brain’s definitive baseball game. Still, I love the default Chibi mode. It plays well and it’s the closest thing we’ll probably ever get to EarthBound Plays Baseball. If that sounds like a good thing to you then give Ultra Baseball Jitsumeiban 2 a swing.


The last of the trilogy
Ends it with a bang or a whimper?

Arriving mere days before Halloween 1995 (October 27), Ultra Baseball Jitsumeiban 3 is what you’d get if you took the previous two Jitsumeiban games and mixed them in a visual blender. It’s not quite Super Deformed as the second game but it’s not as serious looking as the first one. It’s almost as if Culture Brain settled on a balance of the two. I appreciate their efforts in making each game in this trilogy look different. At least you can’t say they just put out the same game every year like you can with some other companies, ahem…


And look, they did it again! You get two different styles of play. The left is the default. Thankfully, the optional mode plays a little better than the previous game’s optional mode, but it’s still not the best and I recommend sticking to the default style for optimal gameplay. But more on that in a bit.













Exclamation speech bubbles are a nice new touch. Other added details include batters taking practice swings and digging their cleats deep into the dirt. Unfortunately, while you would think added details are a good thing, perhaps not always. Extra animation leads to games taking a wee bit longer to complete. We’re not talking significantly longer, but long enough to be noticeable. It still plays extremely well but you’ll need a little more patience with this one.







Whereas the alternative visual mode in the previous game was appealing, I have to say not so much on this one. It feels extremely generic in this visual style. Stick to the default.







Besides, the default style plays a lot better since it gives you a better scope of real estate on defense. The alternative mode still suffers from being too closely zoomed in as it did in the previous game. It’s a little better but still not ideal.








Culture Brain’s true swan song on the SNES though came with 1997’s Pro Yakyuu Star. It was a standalone title that took a bulk of the graphics engine from Ultra Baseball Jitsumeiban 3 but it improved vastly on gameplay. Fielding and catching the ball never felt so smooth. Unfortunately, the trade-off is there are no Ultra Plays anywhere to be found. Still, as far as straight-laced baseball games on the SNES go, Pro Yakyuu Star is easily one of the better ones.



Ultra Baseball Jitsumeiban 3 is yet another solid addition to Culture Brain’s long running series of baseball games. Don’t worry, the Ultra Plays are in this game as well. However, Pro Yakyuu Star plays a lot better so my problem with this game is whenever I play it I often feel like I’m playing a lesser version of Pro Yakyuu Star, due to the similarities in graphics. As mentioned earlier, it also takes a little longer finishing one game here than it does in previous ones, due to the added animation. If I had to rank the three Jitsumeiban games I would go 2, 1, 3.

Ranking Culture Brain’s six SNES baseball games:

1. Super Baseball Simulator 1.000
2. Ultra Baseball Jitsumeiban 2
3. Pro Yakyuu Star
4. Ultra Baseball Jitsumeiban
5. Super Ultra Baseball 2
6. Ultra Baseball Jitsumeiban 3

Because I’m a nut for baseball, I own all six of these games. They’re all very good but you probably don’t need to play all six (unless you’re crazy like me). If you can only play a few, I recommend checking out the top three in my list above. Pro Yakyuu Star, being the last one released, honestly probably plays the best of them all but because it lacks Ultra Plays I have a soft spot for the earlier games and tend to prefer playing them instead. Enough yapping — there’s only one thing left to do…


Super Ultra Baseball 2 (SFC)

It's Super Baseball Simulator 1.000 2!
Culture Brain strikes again!

Super Baseball Simulator 1.000 has something of a semi-cult following. An early first generation SNES game, it thrilled players with its engrossing customization and ridiculously fun Ultra Plays. These plays, when activated, give you certain special powers. For example, baseballs turn into floating leaves or scorching meteors. Culture Brain wasn’t shy to think (way) outside the box and they brought a certain level of fun to the genre like no one had done before. It’s a shame, then, that the sequel never saw the light of day here in North America. Released on July 28, 1994, Super Ultra Baseball 2 takes everything you loved about Super Baseball Simulator 1.000 and ups the ante.








Super Baseball Simulator 1.000 looks a bit crude in places. I mean, there’s still a certain level of charm to the rudimentary graphics but no one will ever say that it’s pleasing to the eye. Super Ultra Baseball 2, on the other hand, legitimately looks like a port of an arcade baseball title! Also, new little details like the sweat beads bouncing off a nervous batter’s forehead brings a whole new sense of life to the game. Of course graphics aren’t the be-all, end-all of a video game, but it’s nice when they’re nice! Keep in mind though — the first game was released in Japan on July 12, 1991, so the sequel that came out three years later is bound to look that much better.







Lovely little intro opens us up. You still get 18 teams to pick from, just like in the first game. And just like the first one, there are six Ultra League teams capable of utilizing the Ultra Plays.







Select from six stadiums and then if applicable, choose how many Ultra Play points you wish to have. You can go as low as 50 or as high as infinite.







Presentation is on point. Love the way it looks, especially when you have runners at the corners. One of the best looking SNES baseball games around!







Those wacky and nutty Ultra Plays are back and better looking than ever.







Tinkering with all the Ultra Plays is half the fun!







Brings new meaning to “He’s got ELECTRIC stuff.”













Pitchers had their fun — now it’s time for the batters. The fan favorite Missile Hit is back and still functions the same. Get the hell outta its way!













Another fan favorite, the Bomb returns to terrorize defenders.







Fielding and running feels a bit smoother than the original.













Baseball players often describe being “in the zone” as seeing the ball like it’s the size of a beach ball. This must be what they’re talking about…













Seriously, does it get any cooler than this?








Super Baseball Simulator 1.000 or Super Ultra Baseball 2? It really is a tough call. To answer the question of is it better… my answer would have to be yes and no. Graphically, it’s not even close (no surprise there). The fielding is a bit smoother and I’d say SUB 2 plays a bit better than its predecessor.







However, Super Baseball Simulator 1.000 has it beat in two categories: stadium “life” and music. SUB 2 isn’t bad sounding or anything but the renditions were better in the original. Listen to the two and there’s really no comparison. By stadium “life” I mean just look at the first picture here. The first game had some quirky ballparks that added to the charm of the game, such as the field with a tiny white fence that makes hitting home runs a lot easier. Although there are still six stadiums in SUB 2, they all sort of feel the same and there are no interesting quirks with any of them, really. It feels slightly “soulless” if you get my drift. I also even miss the way the first game would zoom in after a home run.







Summary: the first game wins in music and stadium variety. The sequel wins in graphics and gameplay. If only Culture Brain could have combined the two games it would have been the perfect baseball game.



You can’t go wrong with either game. If you love Super Baseball Simulator 1.000 then you’ll like this as well. It’s hard to pick but if I were forced to, as of right now I would give the slight edge to the first game. Regardless, Super Ultra Baseball 2 is a damn fine sequel that’s sure to make any fan of the first game proud. The wacky Ultra Plays make this an appealing title that even non-baseball fans can enjoy.


Each game in this series brings different pros and cons to the table. Both complement each other well and it’s nice to own both with the choice to play whichever one you’re in the mood for. Super Ultra Baseball 2 has more of that modern flair with all the Ultra Plays you love from the original. But Super Baseball Simulator 1.000 has that classic nostalgic early first generation SNES charm to it. Both games are fun as hell and sure to entertain baseball gamers for many more summers to come. Not to mention those cold December nights where real life baseball is well into its offseason. So grab your mitt, er, SNES controller, and play ball!

"I'm too old for this SH*T!"
“I’m too old for this SHIT!”

PS- Can’t get enough of these wacky Culture Brain baseball titles? Then be sure to check out Ultra Baseball Jitsumeiban Trilogy and Pro Yakyuu Star.

Top 50 Obscure Super Famicom Games

My favorite games that never came out in America!
My favorite games that never came out in America!

The SNES has a ton of amazing games. But when you turn your eye to the Japanese side of things, that’s when you truly realize how deep and phenomenal the library is. On September 8, 2006, I began an “Obscure Super Famicom Impressions” topic where I posted my two cents on a slew of obscure Super Famicom exclusives. The topic was well received and stirred much retro gaming discourse. 10 years later I revived my topic to post a personal top 50 list. I’m now converting that list over :)


  • This isn’t a top 50 *BEST* list. Rather, it’s a top 50 favorite list
  • There will be no (action) RPGs on this list. As best as I could, I kept this list restricted to games that any non-Japanese reader can enjoy
  • To qualify for this list, the game can’t have an official American release
  • All these games have links for their own review if you wish to read more

Let the top 50 countdown begin!



Everyone knows about the Capcom Mickey games on the Super Nintendo. But did you know there was a non-Capcom Mickey game released only on the Super Famicom? Developed by GRC (who also made Trouble Shooter for the Genesis), Mickey Tokyo Disneyland is worth a look.


Navigate through various sections of the famous Disneyland theme park. Red balloons send Mickey zipping around. Blue balloons can be flicked at enemies or dropped on unsuspecting suckers. It can also be set down as a paperweight or as a jumping boost. The color scheme, the classic Mickey look — it all works. The control is a bit rigid, though. Still, a nice game to play on a lazy rainy day.



Boasting a rich colorful look, Marty McFly uses his trusty hoverboard to thwart the likes of Biff, Griff, rogue cops and other assorted baddies. The classic Back to the Future overture is perfectly replicated. Chill inducing worthy.


The game does have its share of flaws, though. The control takes some getting used to and there’s a bit of slowdown here and there. But there’s just something about this game that I enjoy, warts and all.




Violinist of Hamelin (AKA Hamelin no Violin Hiki) is a puzzle action platformer where you play as Hamel and guide a girl named Flute safely through each level. Picking up Flute and tossing her through pillars of stone is not only encouraged, it’s necessary! Flute can transform into 16 different forms (after the appropriate icon has been collected). Each has its own special purpose and using the right one at the right time is key to success.


Poor Flute gets quite abused!
Her expressions are priceless!




Daft only developed three SNES games — two of which are entries #48 and #49 above. This next game completes Daft’s SNES trilogy. Based off the manga, Nangoku is a platformer that uses a level up system like you would find in an action RPG. There are eight kooky worlds to navigate with all manner of bizarre enemies to kill. There’s even a character that looks an awful lot like Link, hmm.


There’s a slight bit of dialogue in this game (as is the case with Violinist of Hamelin) but it won’t hinder a non-Japanese reading gamer from progressing. However, there’s a fan translation floating out there if you want to get the full experience.




Everything Super Bonk should have been! The sprites are smaller so maneuvering Bonk around is much improved in comparison to his first SNES outing. He can also slide now. Some “new” transformations abound that were not present in Super Bonk such as the thief, who can throw the smiley faces as projectiles. Visuals are colorful and pleasing to the eye.


Super Genjin 2 does Bonk proud.




Published by Nintendo on New Year’s Day 1999, Power Soukoban added an action-oriented modern twist to the classic old Soukoban formula. Not only are there puzzles to solve but you now have to fend off enemies. Your fireballs take out enemies as well as move stones.


There are even bosses! Frankenstein and Medusa to name but two. Power Soukoban is a fun action puzzle game that brings an interesting new twist to a proven formula.



Based off the anime/manga by Takashi Shiina, Ghost Sweeper Mikami reminds me of the countless action platformers we saw on the 8-bit NES back in the day. If you’re into that sort of thing, then definitely give it a look. Packed with atmosphere, it’s slightly goofy yet somewhat spooky. Perfect to play on a cold, stormy night with all the lights turned off.


Evil spirits, zombies and all assorted manner of monsters have popped up all over town. Armed with her trusty magical baton and athletic agility, it’s up to Mikami to sweep the streets and clear out the demons and demented. Just a good old fashioned fun solid action game akin to the kind we saw in the late ’80s to early ’90s.



You might remember Hammerin’ Harry from the arcade scene of the early ’90s. Running around in pseudo-Super Deformed form crushing everything in sight with a big ol’ mallet? Sign me up!

It’s also Japanese bonkers. From fighting a man dressed in a cat suit to knocking the hell out of octogenarians, Ganbare Daiku no Gensan promises a wacky experience that is certainly enjoyable while it lasts.




At a cursory glance, Super Tekkyu Fight! appears to be a Bomberman clone. But it’s actually quite different. For starters, players can take up to eight hits. Instead of bombing the competition, you attack them with a spiky chained ball.

It’s no Super Bomberman but Super Tekkyu Fight! is certainly a solid alternative when you’re in the mood for something in the Bomberman vein but with a twist.




Developed by HUMAN, best known for their Fire Pro Wrestling franchise, The Firemen is like Die Hard if you replace the terrorists with fire and the firearms with a water hose. It’s winter 2010 in New York and a high rise is burning. It’s up to you to rescue the victims and clean up the mess. Shoot in eight directions as well as strafe and lock.






Based off the manga by Akira Toriyama, Go Go Ackman is a traditional action platformer starring a very non-traditional anti-hero. And therein lies the charm. Fend off enemies by way of swordplay, boomerang and even some gun slinging. The game is short and not very challenging, but damn is it fun.


Besides, it’s pretty hilarious shooting cute little angels right between the eyes. God bless Japan, you crazy bastards you.



Battle Cross is a six player single screen racer. At first glance it appears to be a mix of Mario Kart and Bomberman. It doesn’t have the smooth and excellent gameplay of either but it’s a riot to play with four friends.

Weapons are strewn about the courses. Nothing satisfies like tossing a missile at someone or dropping a mine underneath an overpass that conceals the explosive. Fun for a retro gaming party night.




Single screen action puzzle games have always been a pet favorite of mine. They’re so simple yet complex. In Little Magic you control a young witch-in-training named May. The goal is to transport the fire stone to the pedestal of each level as well as guide May to the exit gate.


Things start out basic but progressively increases in complexity and difficulty. Later levels introduce warp points, spikes, gaping holes and even enemies. With 100 levels in all, you won’t beat this overnight. If you enjoy staring contemplatively at the screen until inspiration breaks through with the resolute “AH-HA!” then Little Magic is right up your alley.




Full of explosive mayhem that would make even Arnold proud, Rendering Ranger: R2 is an action-packed game that switches between Turrican-esque run ‘n gun stages and a horizontal space shooter. There are several different guns and each one can be powered up.


You also get three bombs to use. The bombs regenerate slowly through an energy bar at the bottom, meaning you can use one early on and gain it back by mid level or so. Speaking of the bombs, they’re not generic as they were in Contra III. Each gun actually has its own unique bomb. Good stuff.




Poko Nyan! is a platformer based off the 170 episode anime show that ran from 1993-1996. This game is clearly geared toward kids with its super colorful visuals and extremely easy gameplay. It’s got a charming protagonist that can transform into various other critters at any time. This includes a kangaroo that can jump super high, a bird with unlimited flight and a hedgehog that can do a spin attack (hmmm). It’s a perfect game for kids or anyone who is still, deep down, a kid at heart.


The set pieces are gorgeously drawn and usually have many tiers. You can kill enemies by simply dropping off a ledge and bouncing off their heads. This is deceptively satisfying. There’s something innately charming, whimsical and innocent about Poko Nyan! that takes me right back to my early childhood years.




More than just a cheap cash cow attempt, Super Bomberman Panic Bomber World is an admirable foray into the puzzle genre. Connect three or more like color pieces horizontally, vertically or diagonally. In addition, you get unlit and lit bombs because Bomberman. Once you fill up your power bar you get a mega bomb that will cause all kinds of havoc. The chain combos you can pull off are pretty insane!


And of course, being a Bomberman title, there’s even a 4 player mode. The classic Bomberman battle tune is even replicated nicely here and fits the urgency of the falling piece action to a tee.




Keeper is a puzzle action game jam packed with charm and a healthy dose of brain-bending conundrums. Players control an adorable Gizmo-like creature. Your goal is to clear the 5×5 grid of all the stones. Match three or more stones by same color or same shape. There are four modes of play including a fun co-op and 2 player versus mode.


Keeper is a keeper. Sorry, I had to.




This game is based off Rascal the Raccoon, which was a Japanese anime series based on the 1963 Sterling North autobiographical novel entitled “Rascal, A Memoir of a Better Era.” What other SNES game can claim it was based off a 1963 classic American memoir?

Araiguma Rascal puts a unique spin on your typical falling piece puzzler. As Rascal you grab one jar at a time and maneuver your way through the field. There are three different 2 player modes to boot. The graphics really invoke the spirit of Wisconsin (the setting of the memoir). There’s a vintage feel to the visuals. It all adds up to one extremely adorable and appealing package.




Unlike the other games on this list so far, BS Shockman, or BS Kaizou Choujin Shubibinman Zero, was never officially released on cartridge. Slated for a Super Famicom release back in 1994, it was instead relegated to the Satellaview device (a downloading service in Japan in the ’90s). Players can combine to unleash super special tag team attacks in the 2 player mode. Raita and Azuki also have their own special moves.


Featuring only eight stages, the game is short at 45 minutes or so. It’s also quite easy. Other than those blemishes, it’s a very fun game that feels like a mix between a traditional platformer and a beat ‘em up.




The SNES isn’t known for having very many dark and mature titles in its library. However, Majyuuou (AKA King of Demons) definitely qualifies as such. At first glance it appears to be a cross between Castlevania and Resident Evil. While it doesn’t live up to such an enticing combination, it is a rather fun and sordid romp through hell. The imagery is unlike anything else you’ll find on the SNES.

You start out in human form armed with a gun and a giant Hadoken-like blast. At the end of each level an orb allows you to transform into a savage beast. There are four forms in all. Abel’s sprite is a little small but the game features a good amount of details to compensate. It does an excellent job of sucking you into its decaying and decrepit underworld. A fascinating foray through the depths of hell.




Weirdest Super Famicom game ever? Think Pocky & Rocky on acid. A strange alien force looks to cast its iron fist over the entire universe and two brave but bumbling souls set out to save the day. Their names are Baka-dono and Baka-ouji, which translate to Lord Stupid and Prince Stupid. You can’t make this stuff up. This globe trotting adventure features 10 stages in all. Battle rotting zombies in a cursed Japanese village one minute and the next contend with crazy curry plate chucking madmen in India.


EVERYTHING EXPLODES. Elephants? They explode. Stray chickens? They explode. Japanese shoji screens? Yep, even inanimate objects explode. It’s way over the top and all done with its tongue firmly planted in its cheek with a wink to boot. You can also morph into your deceased steroid-injected father. ‘Nuff said, really!



This is the best Super Famicom beat ‘em up to never leave Japan. Sure it’s got many of the beat ‘em up tropes. Three characters to pick from. One well-balanced, one strong and one weak but quick. Charging fat bald guys. But a few neat things help it stand out. This includes blocking, special tag team moves and a meter for your special moves that’s separate from your health meter.


Ghost Chaser Densei is a top notch beat ‘em up that takes one back to the halcyon days when beat ‘em ups ruled the arcade scene.




The Magical Quest Starring Mickey Mouse brings back a lot of fond memories for many of us. Capcom’s sequel The Great Circus Mystery was solid but somehow missed that magical “it” factor that the original had in spades. In December 1995 Capcom released the final game in the trilogy and returned to form.


It was Minnie Mouse out and Donald Duck in. The classic costume system returns but this time the suit powers differ for Mickey and Donald, making it worthwhile to sample both characters. Of course, that classic refined Mickey gameplay you’ve come to love returns (including the lovely snatch-a-block-out-of-thin-air-and-heave-it-at-the-bad-guys formula). Some of the animations, particularly from Donald, are simply priceless.




If Zelda were ever made into a platformer, it would probably look something like this. You attack enemies with a short ranged sword but can gain powers as you go along. Stars are scattered throughout the game’s six stages. Collect as many as you can to increase your sub weapon’s ammunition, similar to Castlevania.


Unfortunately there is no password or save system. But thankfully there is a handy cheat code that unlocks a debug menu. Pause the game and press Up, Down, X, Y, Left, Right, A, B, Up, Up. This allows you to tweak with things such as lives, hearts, a God mode and even a level select option. Magical Pop’n is a damn fine game.




Its main strength is versatility. Pick from three different characters. The game is ridiculously versatile as evident by the SEVEN different ways to kill a bad guy. This not only separates it from the me-too crowd of SNES platformers, but it also minimizes repetitiveness while playing it.


Two 2 player modes are also at play — a co-op and battle mode. Rainbow Bell Adventures is easily one of Konami’s more underrated 16-bit gems.




Heisei Inu Monogatari Bow: Pop’n Smash, to give it its full proper name, is a game you rarely ever hear about. And that’s a shame. Imagine a mix between Pong and Breakout, then add in typical Japanese wackiness and shenanigans. Pop’n Smash is centered around canine Bow. “Bow Wow” was a Japanese manga created by Terry Yamamoto. It enjoyed a lengthy run from 1992 to 1999. There was also a 40 episode anime series that ran from 1993-1994.


The objective is to bat the ball into your opponent’s goal zone. Along the way there are obstacles such as breakable blocks, pots and even bombs to add a little extra spice. Choose from several different characters and stages. Players can make dramatic diving saves as well as cross over into the opponent’s playing area. Select different tools to hit the ball that range from a tennis racket to a mallet to even a branch. It’s one of those games that anyone can pick up and enjoy. Pop’n Smash is a smashing good time!




Sanrio Smash is similar to the previous game, Pop’n Smash, but it plays slightly better. Choose from four Sanrio characters and 20 different stages. It’s cutthroat and competitive as can be. There are power-ups to sway the tide of battle one way or the other. There’s also a super shot that players can unleash once they’ve charged their meter.


Sanrio World Smash Ball! is a smash. Sorry. It’s a ball. Damnit. Look, it’s pretty dang good, OK? So get it if you can, or something.




Spark World is a fun Bomberman clone. Each player is able to sustain two hits — this makes for lengthier battles and gets rid of the embarrassing “Oops I accidentally killed myself 10 seconds in!” moment.


Some slight twists abound. The boxing glove power-up icon allows you to punch your OPPONENT rather than the fuel barrel (bomb). When a round concludes, a stats screen shows you who killed whom. This can lead to some temporary 3-on-1 allegiances when one player killed everyone else the previous round. Good times.




Did you know there was a Super Bomberman 3, 4 and 5 for the SNES? They came out only in Japan (part 3 also came out in Europe). These sequels are perhaps most notable for adding a fifth bomber to the mix but they also feature a whole new slew of bombs and gimmicks.


The mad bomber option in part 5 takes on brand new stakes. If you kill someone as a mad bomber you get to switch places. It brings a whole new intensity to mad bombing! There’s also a hidden bomber to unlock, the Golden Bomber.




Other than Tetris, I consider Puyo Puyo the most classic, pure puzzle game. It’s where skills reign supreme and luck doesn’t play as big a role as it does in most other puzzle games. You know the formula: connect four or more like color pieces. Send garbage blocks over. Yup, there’s a reason why there’s a new Puyo Puyo Tetris mashup coming out soon for the Nintendo Switch!


4 player mode rocks.
Eat your heart out, Kirby’s Avalanche.




Best described as Super Mario Kart meets a cast of Chuck E. Cheese’s rejects. If you were sad back in the mid ’90s that there was never a Super Mario Kart 2 on the SNES, then well, SD F-1 Grand Prix certainly won’t fill that void but it stands as a solid alternative and an adequate companion piece to Super Mario Kart. Choose from 10 different cutesy animal drivers to compete all around the world in a variety of interesting and cool looking race tracks.


You have your standard 10 player Grand Prix mode but the Crash Mode features power-ups such as projectiles. And as expected, there’s a 2 player mode where you can select one of four battle courses to duke it out. As far as Mario Kart alternatives on the SNES go, this is the cream of the crop.




Culture Brain’s Super Baseball Simulator 1.000 developed a semi-cult following among SNES players in the early ’90s. Did you know Culture Brain went on to release four Super Famicom exclusive sequels? My favorite of which is the second one, which features cute chibi ball players.


The crazy power-ups that made the first game so unique and fun are back. The charming visuals are reminiscent of EarthBound, perfectly matching the game’s wackiness and absurdity. So if throwing lightning-infused fastballs is your thing, grab a mitt and PLAY BALL!




Dossun! Ganseki Battle is a Columns-esque puzzler that feels like a precursor to Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo. Pieces disappear when three or more like pieces touch. Connections are formed either vertically, horizontally or diagonally. Characters attack each other when chain combos are dealt. Their sprites enlarge as they attack — it really gets you into the fighting spirit!


There are two ways to win a match. The player’s screen fills up or their health meter is fully depleted. To make things even more interesting, the five different types of pieces each serve a different purpose when matched. Competitive and cutthroat, Dossun! Ganseki Battle is Columns meets Puzzle Fighter with a medieval theme. A winning formula for sure!




Capcom released this on April 24, 1998, for those who couldn’t afford a 32-bit system. Pick between the Blue Bomber and relative newcomer, Forte (AKA Bass), who made his debut in 1995’s Mega Man 7. Forte can double jump, dash and shoot in all directions (except straight down). Other improvements include stunning visuals (it almost looks like an early 32-bit title) and a proper save system is now in play. About friggin’ time, Capcom!


Notoriously considered one of the toughest Mega Man games around, there are sadly no E Tanks here. However, you collect bolts throughout and can purchase upgrades and power-ups at Auto’s shop. In addition to bolts, you’ll also find CD’s strewn about the stages. Collect up to 100 to view character bios. Rockman & Forte has divided the fanbase but for my money it stands as a fine Super Nintendo swan song for Capcom.




Move a cute little blob thing around the screen and clear the field of all its blocks. Blocks disappear when three or more of the same color touch. You can only push. Pushed blocks travel until coming into contact with another block or obstacle. Things start out simple but later puzzles get downright brutal. The timer adds a sense of urgency. It’s quite the rush completing a puzzle just in the nick of time!


The main story mode also allows three friends to join you. But the best thing is the 4 player battle mode. There are 10 battle arenas to pick from and most of them are littered with various gimmicks that would make any Bomberman title proud. Pushing a block across the screen to crush a loved one never felt so damn good. Puzzle’N Desu! is one of the best party games you’ve probably yet to play. Charming and addicting as hell!




The NES classic Legend of Zelda gets a remake of sorts on the SNES. It was available on March 30, 1997 in Japan via the Satellaview only. Of course, since then there’s been hacks and fan translations. SNES players can now experience BS Zelda in all its glory. An awesome take on the NES classic but with spiffy 16-bit souped up visuals. You can even now switch items and weapons by using the shoulder buttons!




The closest thing to Bionic Commando on the SNES? Umihara Kawase. You control a school girl who wears a pink backpack. For reasons unknown you find yourself in a strange world full of towering platforms, ledges and mutant marine life. Somewhere in each level lies the exit and it’s your job to safely reach it. You do this by performing various tricks with your elastic rope. Delightfully weird in that ever lovable Japanese sort of way, Umihara Kawase is a total blast to play. Much of the fun comes in figuring out how best to utilize the rope in any given situation. Using momentum and understanding the rope’s physics all come into masterful play.


At first glance it appears to be a budget title, but don’t let its basic looks fool you. What lies underneath is a complex game that hooks and reels you in (sorry). It’s always fun to see what the next twisted level will look like, as well as what new sea creatures may be milling about. Figuring out how to reach the exit is addicting. The music and sound effects fit the game to a tee; it does a good job transporting you to this bizarre alternate universe. A dimension where sea creatures are mutated, veggies are overgrown and magic stand alone doors are tucked away at the oddest heights and places. The game world is so strangely captivating — it’s like you’re deep in some twisted recurring nightmare. A nightmare, mind, that plays like an absolute dream.



Clock Tower was a cult favorite among PlayStation owners in the late ’90s. But did you know Clock Tower and Scissorman originated on the Super Famicom? A point and click horror adventure, players are flung into a creepy mansion on the outskirts of town. Something is clearly not right as your party drops one by one. You feel a haunting presence stalking your every move. The hair on the back of your neck stands up as you hear the snip-snip-SNIP of the one and only…

Like a good slow burn, Clock Tower works on building up the tension with little teases here and there. It’s not a loud in your face affair, so it may be a little too slow paced for some. But for the patient player who appreciates a good story being built brick by brick, Clock Tower delivers the scary goods. You never know for sure where Scissorman may pop up, but when he does, it’s ON. The heartbeat races a little faster and palms start to sweat as you run madly to find a hiding spot somewhere in the creepy mansion. It’s the perfect game to play on a stormy night!



The classic gameplay of Super Soukoban is as simple (yet complex) and pure as it gets. You’re in a cluttered warehouse and it’s your job to move boxes into their designated position. There is no timer; however, there is a step limit. By pressing the shoulder buttons you can rewind or fast forward previous steps. So if you mess up you don’t have to restart the level completely. Knowing that you can always backtrack and erase any error is such a boon. The early levels start out very basic but soon give way to some mind tingling terrors. Seeing levels transition from large sprites to very small sprites can be intimidating!


Later on there are even boxes already darkened, which indicates the box is already resting on a purple dot. You can still move these darkened boxes in many cases, but you have to figure out if you’re meant to or not. There are 300 levels in all and rumor has it launch day buyers are still stuck on level 289 to this very day. To boot, there’s a level edit option and a 2 player mode with 10 different characters to select from.




Taking control of a strange transparent bird, the goal is to collect the rainbow orb(s) on each level. To do so, one must “suck and blow.” Yes, you’ll suck and blow. A lot. [Insert token dirty joke here]. The colors all serve a specific purpose — click on the review if you want the rundown.


Developed and released by Nintendo on June 25, 1999, Sutte Hakkun is the LAST great SNES game ever. Don’t miss out on it. Being from Nintendo you know it’s good.




Human’s great Fire Pro series began its life on the PC-Engine in 1989. Their final Super Famicom Fire Pro game, Super Fire Pro Wrestling X Premium, is considered by many as the greatest 16-bit wrestling game of all time. It was revolutionary for its time thanks to its Create A Wrestler mode. You could create and save up to 80 wrestlers. The amount of moves and body types available were equally mind blowing.


The grapple system was based on timing rather than button mashing, so players had to work their way up the move chain. Light, medium and strong attack buttons allow for a natural progression. Super Fire Pro Wrestling X Premium has long since been surpassed by superior sequels. Still, 20 years later it stands the test of time. Besides, it’s pretty cool rocking out on your Super Nintendo as Bobo Brazil.




Whether he was terrorizing trains and ravaging cities, or pummeling rubber suited monsters and saving the planet, Godzilla has a special spot in the hearts of many. Having endured 60+ years and 30+ films and counting, the Big Guy is simply timeless. So growing up you can imagine the clamor for a good Godzilla video game. NES Godzilla wasn’t particularly good. Let’s not even talk about Godzilla 2. Super Godzilla? One of the all time great disappointments. Thankfully, Godzilla: Kaijuu Daikessen brings justice and a good Godzilla game to the universe.

No, you won’t find smooth crazy combos here but considering the source material (these are giant monsters after all) it’s hard to hold that against the game. Monster roars sound authentic, the sprite work is impeccable, the stages are plucked right out of the movies and the monsters are very accurate in terms of their powers. Of course some things were added or re-imagined. Godzilla never shot his atomic breath in mid-air in the films, but it certainly makes for good times in this game. The fighting engine is nothing remarkable but it gets the job done. Godzilla: Kaijuu Daikessen is a treat for any true G-Fan.



It plays enough like Bomberman to provide a comforting familiarity, yet has enough quirks to differentiate it. Dropped spiked capsules explode after two seconds, sending shurikens flying north, south, east and west. Unlike the explosions in Bomberman, the shurikens won’t kill you. Instead you become stunned for two seconds if you’re hit, leaving you wide open for an opponent’s chain ball to kill you. The chain stretches the full length so it’s possible to sit back waiting for the opportune moment to strike! Send your chain twisting some 20 feet away to pick someone off. Not only is it super satisfying but it adds a devious, vulture-like aspect that doesn’t quite exist as much in Bomberman.


Needless to say, such shenanigans lead to many “Ooh I’ll get you next round!” battle cries and pandemonium. Nothing beats the rush of recovering JUST in time right before the chain ball hits you! The eight various colosseums each have a gimmick. Otoboke Ninja Colosseum is awesome, especially if you can round up three friends to play with. And you have to appreciate any game that features mini Super Famicom icons!




Featuring insanely amazing visuals, haunting sound and ultra smooth gameplay, DoReMi Fantasy is one of the finest SNES platformers you could ever play. Milon from Milon’s Secret Castle (NES) is back and better than ever. There are eight themed worlds ranging from the gorgeous Northern Lights to a madcap toy infested universe. The levels are packed to the gills with exquisite detail, quirky enemies, excellent backdrops and some stellar set pieces. The game occasionally foregoes music for ambient sound effects instead. This leads to an atmosphere that is both surreal and bewitching.


Milon’s silly antics and whimsical adventure is sure to sweep you away to a land of awe and wonder. DoReMi Fantasy is one of the best SNES platformers not named Mario.



The Zen Nippon Pro Wrestling series was Natsume’s response to Human’s Fire Pro franchise. It features bigger, brighter visuals and a quasi-chibi presentation. The ring is viewed dead on as opposed to Fire Pro’s ¾ perspective. This makes for a perfect running system which allows you to lay back and pick your spots with running strikes, leading to some riotous Fatal Fourway matches! Budokan has a subtle barbaric sense of black humor. Look no further than being able to bounce opponents viciously off the cable ropes (OUCH) or attacking your rival even after the conclusion of a match. Hell it even features the infamous Flair flop!


Similar to the Fire Pro games, winning a grapple is based on timing rather than button mashing. The 19 wrestlers are actual wrestlers from All Japan Pro Wrestling. You got your high flyers, technicians and bruisers. Giant Baba, Kobashi, Misawa, Stan Hansen and so on. Fun stuff!




Konami developed many great games for the SNES back in the ’90s, but perhaps its best kept secret was Tsuyoshi Shikkari Shinasai Taisen Puzzle-dama. It plays like an early beta version of Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo. Select from 10 characters, each with their own block patterns. The combos can get rather insane. It’s not uncommon to pull off 6-7 hit combos even “on accident.”


Maybe it’s not for everyone, especially those used to the pure skill of a Puyo Puyo, but seeing the screen explode in a relentless 10 hit chain reaction combo never gets old. Arguably Konami’s best SNES game that nobody ever talks about.




Released on Christmas Eve of 1993, Tetris Battle Gaiden is the best Super Famicom puzzle game never to hit North American shores. It’s Tetris with a quirky twist. Choose from eight characters. Each has four different skills and abilities. These skills are activated when you acquire points and decide to cash in. To acquire said points, you must clear a line containing a crystal. Each cleared crystal grants you one point, and up to four can be stored. The skills and powers range from defensive measures to offensive attacks.


Another interesting feature: players share pieces from one queue rather than two. That means you can “steal” a piece your opponent may desperately need if you move fast (or in some cases slow) enough. This makes paying attention several moves in advance all the more critical. Few things are as satisfying as “blockblocking” your opponent. To snatch that long tetris piece right before they can is a true thing of beauty. Well, maybe that’s second only to sabotaging the competition with one of your special attacks!


Not content to stop there, two other modes are available: classic Tetris (for the purists out there who prefer their Tetris sans gimmick) and Rensa. Rensa is where gravity is taken into account and pieces fall if suspended in mid-air (except crystal pieces). This can produce some nice chain reactions. These three modes make it feel like three games in one. An amazing game bursting with insane replay value!



In October of 1994 EGM ran a preview on a Super Famicom street ball title by the name of Dream Basketball: Dunk & Hoop. The funky title immediately caught my eye as did the game pictures (blurry as they were… God were things different back in 1994). I remember thinking I couldn’t wait to play it as soon as it comes out over here. But of course it never did. Years later, 2006 to be precise, I was on the hunt for all my old favorite games, as well as the ones I never got to play but always wanted to. One evening my mind recalled Dream Basketball: Dunk & Hoop. The rest is history.

Ah, the memories







Always been a sucker for stats and ratings, and the power bars in this game remind me a ton of the ones from Marvel’s 1991 trading card series. Good memories of a bygone era. It’s a small thing but it just takes me to a happy place!


Sure it’s got your standard 5 on 5 mode, but what really drew me to the EGM preview was the blurry screenshot of a 3 on 3 street ball mode. I was always fascinated by the idea of a 3 on 3 street basketball game. This game didn’t disappoint. While it’s got its fair share of flaws, it’s simply a lot of fun. I’ve never played a basketball game where making a shot was so predicated on timing. Being that it’s from Human, go figure, right?


The 3 on 3 mode is where it’s at. In this mode you can play on two different courts, but Human even threw in some little tricks. On one court if you enter SUNSET or YONAKA (Japanese for midnight) then you can unlock exactly that. There’s a simple yet elegant gorgeousness to these settings that speak to my soul in ways I cannot explain. Maybe it’s because it brings back memories of playing ball with my buddies late at midnight, or even getting up early in the morning playing ball right as the sun breaks over the horizon. Those old school memories wrapped up in this old soul… it touches a sweet spot and takes me back to the days when my friends and I were balling without a single care in the world.


But Human didn’t stop there. At the versus screen if you press on the D-pad it will change the color of the courts. Also, you can pick from four different basketball colors. It’s just cosmetics but these little touches add up. Yeah, call me crazy but we all have that one game that clicks deep in our soul for one reason or another that won’t click with the masses. It’s our special game. Our spirit animal in video game form, if you will.


It’s been 10 years since I bought Dream Basketball: Dunk & Hoop and I still find myself playing it frequently. Did so again recently in honor of Craig Sager’s passing. This game just never gets old for me. And that’s why this completely unexpected “bracket buster” (har har) ranks #3 in my personal book.




We always hear about how great Super Tennis is and how it’s the best tennis title on the Super Nintendo. Super Family Tennis doesn’t get much props. I think it’s even better than Super Tennis. The control is smooth as hell, there’s a four player option and some of the court designs are completely bonkers, filled with amusing gimmicks and sight gags.


Look no further than knocking the ball into a tranquil pond in front of a Japanese Shinto shrine (complete with a traditional Torii gate). Or smashing the ball so hard against a coconut tree that it drops a coconut on a bystander’s head, completely taking the poor sap out. It’s these quirky details that I always enjoy seeing in a video game. It doesn’t make a game but it certainly leaves you with a positive lasting impression.


The best thing about Super Family Tennis is how fun it is. A total blast with four players, it’s something that your friends or significant other can easily pick up and play with you, even if video games typically aren’t “their thing.” There are 20 characters to choose from, all with varying skills and abilities.

Music is largely absent. Instead, it relies on ambient sound effects. And it works. From the soothing crashing waves of the ocean to the echo chamber sounds of the mountain stage, there is sort of a surreal feel to this game that wouldn’t be the same had there been music.

Its wacky sense of humor, outrageous court designs, smooth control, 20 different characters and surreal sound makes Super Family Tennis a definite smash hit for the whole family.



I have been curious about this game ever since I saw EGM preview it back in 1994. In 2006 I got back into the SNES scene and went hunting for a copy. Much to my chagrin the game was cancelled and never released on a physical cartridge. Alas, it did come out via the Satellaview Broadcast device. And thanks to the modern wonders of technology, it’s possible to experience this fine gem on a real TV. Ah, technology.


So what makes BS Out of Bounds Golf so awesome? It allows up to four players to compete and you have the ability to knock your opponent’s ball out of bounds (hence the name of the game). Of course, knocking their ball out of bounds will cost them precious stroke points. Or even just blocking their path is wicked fun. The battles get competitive and cutthroat like you wouldn’t believe. Also, because one player plays at a time, it’s a more methodical multiplayer experience. I find it works refreshingly well. There’s a ton of strategy, scouting and sabotaging involved here. It’s Schadenfreude at its finest (or worst…)


Select from three different modes.


Then choose from 12 characters, including two felines. Right away that tells you the developer (NCS, who also made Cybernator) didn’t take themselves too seriously. Keep in mind back in the mid ’90s golf games tended to be a little dull. This game, however, was packed with personality and charm.


After selecting your character you get to pick your theme. There are six themed worlds in all, with each having 8 courses. That makes 48 total courses. They range from a beach setting to even outer space. My personal favorite has to be the second world. Here you are mysteriously shrunken down to size and have to work around everyday objects such as coffee mugs, ink spills, giant cereal boxes, tomatoes and more. It’s absolutely bonkers…

ObscureSFC50-220What makes this game so much fun is the amount of options you have. Just look at the process of hitting the ball. First, you get to select from a power meter ranging from 1 to 100. This becomes oddly compelling in its own right. It almost becomes like a game within a game. For instance, do you use 47 or 52? 77 or 79? 91 or 94? Sometimes one point off can prove to be the difference between glorious victory and crushing defeat. It’s a thrill to see your ball barely make its way into the hole. On the flip side, nothing is more embarrassing than misjudging the power meter by one point and seeing your ball stop a mere centimeter shy of the goal!

ObscureSFC50-221After selecting your power, you then get to choose from one of 17 (!) different strike points on the ball. Much like pool, these strike points will determine the trajectory of your shot. While you’ll be using the dead center shot most of the time, there are times where using the trajectory shots skillfully is essential to winning. Like I said, it’s kind of like a game within a game. You’re not only battling three rivals… you’re battling yourself as well. And it works like gangbusters!

Dead center shot
Dead center shot

There are even weather effects and power-ups. There are at least 11 ranging from controlling your ball after hitting it to randomly switching all the balls in play. That means you can possibly swap places with a rival who is near the cup and send them way back to the beginning of a course! Sabotage never felt so sweet.

Curving right shot
Curving right shot

Also, each of the 48 courses have four randomly generated cup destinations. This prevents you from mastering a course simply by memorizing a certain playbook. It speaks to the game’s brilliance that there are nearly 200 possible scenarios. Add in the 17 strike points, the power meter, the wind factor, the power-ups and you get a game that feels slightly different each time you play it.

Curving left shot
Curving left shot

BS Out of Bounds Golf is a total riot with three friends. Expect a lot of cursing, laughing, cheering and taunting. It brings out the best and worst in people — it’s amusing to see individual personalities come out in their truest forms. There’s no other game quite like this on the SNES. And that’s why this is my favorite obscure Super Famicom game of all time.

Trick shot!
Kids, don't try this at home!








Bowing to the greatness of the vast SNES library :)
Bowing to the greatness of the vast SNES library :)

There are a lot of good games that didn’t quite make this list, like the Parodius games. You probably didn’t agree with all of my choices but I hope this list was helpful in some way. If you found even just one new game to love from this list, then I’m happy. And remember, I purposely excluded all the awesome Super Famicom only (action) RPGs! The library is amazingly diverse and deep. Some of these games I listed are fairly well known in SNES circles, but I feel there’s still a good bunch of them that remains rather obscure. I hope this Top 50 list serves as a good resource for you and that it helps you to unearth a few new favorites. Until next time, happy gaming!

Dream Basketball: Dunk & Hoop (SFC)

Yes, that's Michael Jordan of the Bulls, er, Vikings...
Yes, that’s Michael Jordan of the Bu, er, Vikings

In October of 1994 EGM ran a preview on a Super Famicom basketball game by the name of Dream Basketball: Dunk & Hoop. Being a huge fan of NBA Jam, this preview intrigued me highly. Man, I miss those pre-internet days when gaming magazines were not only a thing but they were magical.

This preview piqued my interest

Not only was I a huge fan of NBA Jam but I loved Konami’s Run ‘N Gun arcade game. It came out in 1993 and I figured it was only a matter of time before a home translation would come out for the SNES. We finally got it in November 1995 under the name NBA Give ‘N Go. But back in ’94 there was no sign of this, so Dream Basketball: Dunk & Hoop gave me great hope that I could play a Run ‘N Gun-esque game in the comforts of my home.

THE arcade game for basketball junkies
THE arcade game for basketball junkies
The rich bold colors captivated me
The rich bold colors captivated me
Nothing like throwing down a monster jam
Nothing like throwing down a monster jam

After I got back into the SNES in early 2006, I thought back to all the SNES/SFC games I wanted to play and own. Dream Basketball: Dunk & Hoop came to mind. I remembered the preview in EGM 12 years earlier. Found a copy online and was excited to quell a 12 year long curiosity. But before we get to that, I’d like to share a personal basketball memory that made me a fan of the sport for life.


One of the best NBA playoff games ever

Monday, May 29, 1995 is a day I’ll never forget.

It was Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals, pitting the young uprising Orlando Magic vs. the Indiana Pacers. I was at the local mall walking past Radio Shack when I saw the game playing on ten TV screens. There were three people standing there, watching in angst and talking in-between plays. I joined to make it a crowd of four. The game was in the final three minutes and as the drama unfolded the crowd steadily grew with each passing dramatic play. Even the employees stopped to observe the madness.

With under 15 seconds to go, this improbable sequence took place:

  • Brian Shaw’s 3 pointer gave the Magic the 1 point lead
  • Reggie Miller answered with one of his own, putting the Pacers back up by 2 causing the Indiana crowd to erupt in a frenzy
  • Mere seconds later, Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway, nailed a dramatic 3, giving the Magic a 1 point lead with 1.3 seconds to go. It left the sold out capacity crowd in stunned silence
Penny in his prime was something special
Prime Penny was something special

As the game went to its final commercial break there was a deafening buzz within Radio Shack’s small confines. To this day I can still hear that classic NBA on NBC theme, blaring on no less than ten television monitors. The incomparable John Tesh theme reverberated throughout the store and the entire mall itself. It’s one of those vivid childhood memories that haunts me to the core even more than 20 years later.

Suddenly we were no longer just a bunch of strangers. This playoff basketball game magically banded us together. I saw basketball in a new light. There was strategy, tactics. Beyond that, I started appreciating the concept of teamwork and five different people of varying size and skills working as one well oiled machine.

That day I developed a much deeper appreciation for basketball. It’s the moment I became a fan for life.

Fakes... shoots... HE HITS HE HITS HE HITS!!!
“Fakes, shoots and — HE HITS HE HITS!!!”

Down by one point with 1.3 seconds left, the ball made its way to the dunking Dutchman, Rik Smits. He faked, shot and the ball ripped nothing but net as the buzzer sounded off. The place became unglued and the roof blew off. Radio Shack became a mad house.

I was only 11 years old while everyone else around me was 20 or older. Those 15 minutes cheering and booing madly at the TV screen with a bunch of folks I never met before… PRICELESS. Basketball brings people together.


3 on 3 mode is the best
Ah, a Slender Man sponsorship

There’s always a moment of slight hesitation when popping in a game you have been wondering about for many years.

Fake teams, or are they?
Fake teams, or are they?

There are 16 non-official teams plus one Japan team. Though oddly, if you look at the EGM preview you’ll see Spurs and Bulls. So I looked at the teams closer. The subtle not-so-hidden parallels are definitely there. For example check out the Wizards (keep in mind back in ’94 the Wizards were known as the Washington Bullets). Their court is the same color as the Orlando Magic and they have a starting center with incredible stats who wears # 32 (Shaquille O’Neal). Besides, Magic… Wizards… hmmm…


Shaq’s 1993 stats in bold. Cooper’s stats in italics:

23.4 points per game
23.5 ppg

13.9 rebounds per game
14.0 rpg

56% field goal
57% FG

59% free throw
60% FT

So there are real players in this game. Just like the classic Ken Griffey Jr. Presents Major League Baseball, the jersey numbers are the same as well as their stats (or very close anyhow). They just have different names. Sneaky!








Fancy a game of one on one? You can with Dream Basketball: Dunk & Hoop. First to 10 points win. It’s pretty fun for a quick little fix. When you make shots the game gives you some encouraging messages, such as GREAT! and NICE DUNK!







Regular field goals count as one point in this mode, and three point shots are worth two. Just like on the playground. You know what this mode reminds me of?

Jordan vs. Bird! (Sega Genesis)
Jordan vs. Bird (Sega Genesis)
No shame at all...
No shame at all…







Perhaps you fancy practicing your free throws? HUMAN gives you that option! Of course, the Fire Pro creators are big on timing. It’s kind of their thing. You have to release the ball at just the precise moment to swish the shot. A little off and it will rim in. But anymore off target and you’ll brick the shot. It takes some practice but once you get it down it’s extremely satisfying. And of course you get the lovely Engrish of “NICE SHOOT!” when you make a basket.

Oh man, 9/9. No pressure...
Oh man, 9/9. No pressure…









Things look promising...
Orlando Magic in the house

It looks just like a poor man’s Run ‘N Gun. So far, so good! Unfortunately, it doesn’t play as well. On the bright side, there is no slowdown or lag whatsoever. On the downside, it’s way too easy to steal and block shots. The team that is going down the court also has a disadvantage as the view is more obscured. There’s still some decent fun to be had but it’s passable. Between this mode and NBA Give ‘N Go, I’d rather play Give ‘N Go.

Madison Square Garden! Sorta
Madison Square Garden! Sorta…
Vintage Seattle SuperSonics!
Vintage Seattle SuperSonics!
Nice black jerseys though
Ah, FILA. Totally ’90s huh?
Gotta love how they swing too!
Gotta love how they swing too!







Definitely not unplayable and there’s zero trace of slowdown, but it’s nothing special.


Now this is where it shines
Now this is where it shines

The last mode, 3 on 3, takes me back to my blacktop days. Pick any of the 17 teams and then pick any three players on that team. Then duke it out in a 3 on 3 half court battle. Adjust the time from 3, 6, 9 or 12 minutes. It’s one quarter to the finish. Best of all, since you’re playing half court, everyone gets the top end of the court which has no obstruction of view. The passing is less clunky on account of there being less players to pass to. It works like a charm.

Hoop Dreams, baby!
Slam it home with authority

This mode somehow never gets old.







Select from two different courts in the 3 on 3 mode. It’s all cosmetic but these little touches go a long way in my book. I love both courts. The beach one has that exotic fun casual feel to it, like you and your buddies are hooping it up after a summer BBQ. The other court has an impeccable street ball gritty feel to it. In addition, you can pick from four different color balls. I like the funky blue ball. [You would, wouldn’t you… -Ed.]

Love the look of it!
Love the look of it!








Punch in any of these secret codes at the password screen and it’ll give you the option of playing either at dusk or dawn. It only works on the beach court though. Check out how atmospheric these new backdrops are:







Oooooh, ahhhhh. I love it when a company puts in these extra details. It goes a long way to make the game even more endearing. I love the feeling of balling in the early morning or late at evening. It’s the small things!







Night or morning, morning or night — raining threes with the greatest of ease!








Press any direction on the D-pad at the versus screen and you can change the floor design of your selected court. Try up, down, left or right. Hell, you can even try up-left or up-right for even more choices. Or down-right and down-left. Here you can see I swapped the floors for the two courts.













Reminds me ever so slightly of the Mortal Kombat games and how you could tinker with the icons at the versus screen to unlock secrets…







Favorite combos for me: the green court matches the coconut trees nicely. Dig that green overload. Speaking of overload, how about the combination seen in the second pic there? Talk about splendid color coordination! It’s so inviting and hits all the sweet spots.








Before the start of a game you can view stats as well as change the lineup. I love how they list their stats both by numbers, percentages and then in Marvel 1991 style they have the pink bars. Japan is the best shooting team in the game and if you’re looking to be Stephen Curry then Japan is your go to team.







Things start off well as I nail a simple mid-range jump shot that hits nothing but net.

Rings tie it with a strong jam
Rings tie it with a strong jam













Another sick dunk — 360 in your face! 7-Up.







Definitely way too easy to block shots but that only lends an arcade style to the otherwise simulation feel. It’s a fine balance that works well.













Trailing 9-12, Hara makes a beeline for that 3 point line and swishes a 2 pointer right through the net. 11-12 with under two minutes to go.













AGAIN from way downtown! Hara ties the game at 13 points a piece.

They pull ahead 16-13
They pull ahead 16-13













ARGH!! Hara barely misses a clutch 3 point shot. Thus sending the ball back to the Rings up 16-13 with only 41 seconds to go. It ain’t looking good for Team Japan…







Mutsuki with the save! 15-16 with 30 seconds left!













Right on cue, Hara hits yet another clutch shot, bringing the score to 17 all with just 18 seconds remaining.






Stealing and blocking the ball happen a little too frequently as mentioned earlier, but it sure makes for some dramatic defensive stands! The Rings try to break the 17-17 tie, but that’s not happening tonight — no siree!



















Every kid grows up dreaming about hitting the game winning shot. Here’s Hara’s chance. Running to his sweet spot, Hara drills a picture perfect jumpshot, giving me the lead 18-17 with only two seconds remaining. Clutch! But I can’t get too cocky now. The Rings still have two seconds left…













Baumann rises for the game winning shot. He barely gets the ball out of his hands as the shot clock expires. This is either going to be the greatest victory ever or the worst defeat of all time…













WHEW! In and out! Talk about cutting it as close. Look at that Baumann punk turning around after shooting the ball. You ain’t Steph Curry, son!

What a game!
What a game! What a win!







Japan is such a good shooting team. Steph Curry and Klay Thompson would be proud.







Defeat everyone in the Round Robin mode and you’ll get this snazzy congratulations shot.








Speaking of endings, if you enter this password you can view all of the game’s multiple endings. Human did it with Clock Tower as well. It was kind of their thing to have multiple endings, no?







Goddess of Victory, eh? Who is that, Lady Luck’s mother?


  • In either 3 on 3 or 5 on 5, you can play an exhibition or compete in a Round Robin. In Round Robin you’re given a password after each victory. At the end you’ll face your clones and then the USA Dream Team
Can you handle the Dream Team?
1992 Dream Team was the best
  • Street Hoop (Neo Geo) came out in December 1994, a month after this game. There’s something about a basketball court right in the middle of a beach that does it for me…
Everybody's gone jamming. Jamming USA!
Everybody’s gon’ hoopin’. Hoopin’ USA!
  • I’m a sucker for the players’ ratings. Reminds me of the old ’91 Marvel trading card series. Ah, those were the days…







My friends and I collected the hell out of the 1991 Marvel cards. My favorite thing about them were the pink energy bars on the back that let you know at a quick glance what you wanted to know. Playing Dream Basketball: Dunk & Hoop and seeing the Marvel ’91-esque pink energy bars brought back a lot of fond memories!

  • The 3 on 3 mode is good for quick arcade thrills but the full-court 5 on 5 mode has more strategy thanks to the bench and stamina factor. Players are rated fresh, OK or tired. You’ll have to do some managing throughout the four quarters to keep your players fresh
  • My favorite team are the Photons. In the 3 on 3 mode I use Rogers, Davidson and Feguso


All you need is a ball, a hoop and a dream
All you needed was a ball, a hoop and a dream

From playing hoops in my backyard as a youth to balling on the blacktops as a teenager, I have fond memories of the game. At the heart of the game lies a bigger message. Case in point: 1997, 8th grade. One day at lunch I was playing one-on-one with my friend, Simon. Then we noticed these three 7th graders bullying a hapless runt. Seeing them push the defenseless kid around pissed me off. I looked at Simon and without saying a word I knew he knew what we both knew. And thus, we made our way over to the kerfuffle…


I challenged the three 7th graders to a game of 21 — 3-on-3 style. The kid getting bullied wasn’t much of a baller, but I had an overwhelming confidence in Simon and myself that we could beat these cocky bastards. Simon was the Dennis Rodman of the team. Man, nobody could hit the glass like Simon. Dude was a beast on the boards. As for me, I was the three point specialist. The Reggie Miller of the team. And on that cloudy afternoon, I drained three pointer after three pointer. Hand in my face — it didn’t matter. I was a man on a mission. Not only did I want to beat those losers but I had to defend the honor of that kid.











Basketball pundits like to call it being in the proverbial zone. And that I was on that idyllic, cloudy afternoon — swishing three point shot after three point shot!

It was one of those afternoons I wished would last forever. The sky was blue with puffy clouds standing still overhead. Amid the usual lunch playground chatter of 7th and 8th graders jockeying for social position and status on the hierarchy that is junior high, I was in my own world. Bombing three after three, the opposition had no answer.

My team won going away. The three bullies bitched at each other in disbelief before slagging off, disappearing around the corner moments later. Simon and I smiled at each other. The little 7th grade kid said four words I still remember to this day with great fondness.

“Thanks for the help.”

Simon and I watched in silence as he walked away, his head held high. Through basketball, in a way, we saved him. It was just one more reason for me to love the game as much as I did. You can be big, small, black, purple, it don’t matter. It’s a game that brings people together. It can even heal some wounds, as it did that serene cloudy afternoon of 1997 :)


My favorite SNES bball game
This game is my spirit animal ^_^

On a technical level, the NBA Jam and the NBA Live games are far superior. But on a fun level, I actually prefer Dream Basketball: Dunk & Hoop. If a basketball game could be my spirit animal, this game would be it. It just resonates with me in a deep and personal way that no other basketball game does. I always have a blast playing it. The 3 on 3 mode takes me back to the days of my youth balling without a single care in the world. From making friends to even saving a kid from being bullied, basketball has always been a part of my life. Dream Basketball: Dunk & Hoop captures the feeling of street ball to a tee. I also love the little touches like the secret courts and being able to play at dawn, mid-day or dusk. This is such a criminally obscure hidden gem for basketball junkies.

Nothing like playing hoops under the stars
Nothing like hooping it up under the stars

It’s been over 10 years now since I bought this game and still to this day I find myself busting it out frequently. I can’t guarantee you’ll like this game — hell I bet you probably won’t like it as much as I do, but if you enjoy vintage 16-bit basketball games then it’s certainly worth a look. Call me crazy but Dream Basketball: Dunk & Hoop is one of my all-time favorite Super Nintendo games, period. I know that may sound a bit absurd but there are certain games you just click with that’s hard to explain. There are many better SNES games than this but few I enjoy playing more than Dream Basketball: Dunk & Hoop!

R.I.P. Craig Sager. 6.29.51-12.15.16
R.I.P. Craig Sager. 6.29.51-12.15.16. You were the man!

Tsuyoshi Shikkari Shinasai Taisen Puzzle-dama (SFC)

Konami delivers a high quality puzzle game
Konami delivers a high quality puzzle game

Tsuyoshi Shikkari Shinasai Taisen Puzzle-dama is an incredibly long name, and difficult to pronounce (for me anyhow), which makes me grateful that this is a fansite rather than a YouTube channel. That way I don’t have to butcher saying the name! But whatever (or however) you want to call it, call it damn good. It’s one of my favorite puzzle games on the entire Super Nintendo. Why? Let’s take a look.


Loved this game in the early 2000s
Loved this one back in the early 2000s

As previously documented, before I got back into the SNES scene in early 2006, I was living on planet Sega Saturn from 1999-2005. In the early 2000s I bought a rare import by the name of Chibi Maruko Chan No Taisen Pazurudama. I saw a screenshot of it on the internet and knew I had to own it. When it arrived it did not disappoint. Colorful graphics, cute chibi characters and a classic puzzle piece system made this an instant favorite.

The very definition of kawaii
The very definition of “kawaii”

Imagine my joy when I discovered in 2006 that Konami had developed a very similar game on the Super Famicom, Tsuyoshi Shikkari Shinasai Taisen Puzzle-dama. It was released on November 18, 1994 — one year before Maruko came out in the Japanese Saturn market (December 15, 1995). It features the same classic gameplay but obviously with lesser visuals. What I really like about it is that you have 10 characters to pick from, each with their own block patterns. Think of it as a beta version of Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo. It makes for some competitive battles and high replay value.































See? It comes off as an early beta version of Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo which came out nearly a full two years later (June 1996).







I love the versus screen, too. It’s simple yet super vibrant and catches your eye. Gets you amped up for war!



Pieces drop from the top in two. They vary from red, yellow, blue and green. You can rotate them to be horizontal (or keep them vertical).


Pieces disappear when three or more like colors are matched. They just have to be touching (except diagonally) so it’s possible to form a match with two blues on one row and just a single blue right above.



Debris come in the form of clear blocks with a certain color encased. These blocks fall on your screen when your rival performs a nice combo. Or they can come from the well itself, which you don’t see a lot of in puzzle games from that era. The great thing about these debris blocks is that they have the potential for some lethal chain reactions. Anytime you clear faces touching a clear block, that block explodes freeing the color inside for proper usage.






Check out the lower bottom left. Those three yellow faces form a match and as they disappear from the field they free the three boxes right below.







The three then dissipate which clears the box right next to it. That box contains a yellow face, which is now liberated. That yellow face connects with the two yellow faces up top. Those three disappear which frees the three yellow boxes right next to it…







Just your typical 7-hit chain reaction! I love how crazy the combos can get in this game. It’s not uncommon to get 10+ hit chain reactions. I love how each match sends this projectile upward. It makes a sweet sound effect and is a nice visual to boot. Seeing fireballs shoot from your screen like 7-10 times in a row is a rush! It makes for some ideal trash talking and some serious sweating on your opponent’s part. It can be absolutely demoralizing to be on the other end and seeing and hearing the constant swoosh-swoosh. You know you’re in for one major pounding.







It’s so satisfying to see your opponent’s well rise and rise until their well is completely filled. Good stuff.








Connect the yellow to make a match and start this nice little chain reaction.







It drops the green piece on the other two green pieces. The green pieces connect and frees the red block there.







The three yellow pieces connect as the red connect. Just a simple little three hit combo to let your opponent know you’re here. Now, for a more damaging combo…







The green and yellow pieces connect for a nice six piece match. I love how the faces explode — their eyes and mouths pop before bursting. It’s the small details :)







The yellow piece drops on the bottom two while the four red pieces connect. Meanwhile, major liberation is taking place (which is the key to creating monster chain reactions).







The blue pieces connect, freeing that yellow imprisoned block there.







The yellow faces match, freeing two blue blocks and the yellow block up top.







Now the blue faces dissipate, releasing the two yellow blocks for the 6th hit of this massive combo.







As your combo meter increases, so too do the debris on your opponent’s screen. The characters’ reactions are priceless and add to the anxiety (and thrill) of a competitive contest. Seeing the characters wince in pain before crying uncle is all part of the fun of watching your opponent’s well fill up completely.


Konami's most unknown SNES gem
Konami’s best kept SNES secret!

Tsuyoshi Shikkari Shinasai Taisen Puzzle-dama is a blast. It’s a ton of fun to see 10+ hit combos filling up the screen. It’s competitive, charming and cutthroat. And seeing the characters react in the background, whether they’re celebrating or biting their fingernails, never gets old.







“No, no, no! YES, YES, YES!” Ah, the back and forth of a thrilling match.

On the down side, the visuals aren’t the best. I wish the backgrounds were a little more colorful than the semi-drab green that they used. Not a deal breaker for me by any means but I’m sure Konami could have added a little more color. Another negative is that the pieces aren’t as operational as some other games in this genre. For example, take moving a vertical two piece set down a narrow column. In most puzzle games you can switch these pieces despite having no room. You can’t do that here. Therefore, you have to make certain adjustments. Again, not a deal breaker for me but it’s something to be noted.

A must-have for puzzle fanatics
Puzzle fans can’t go wrong here

Puzzle fanatic? Got a girlfriend or wife who isn’t much of a gamer, but enjoys these cutesy puzzle games on a casual level? Still rocking out with the SNES? If so then do yourself a favor and check out Tsuyoshi Shikkari Shinasai Taisen Puzzle-dama. Konami smashes yet another Super Nintendo gem. Unlike their other SNES hits though, this one never got the recognition it so richly deserved. Hands down Konami’s best kept SNES secret!

Otoboke Ninja Colosseum (SFC)

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

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


Love the Super Famicoms!
Love the Super Famicoms!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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


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

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

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


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


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

Keep going
Keep going


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

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







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


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













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


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


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

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

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



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



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



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



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



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








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



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

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








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



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


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

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


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

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


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

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

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


Best Bomberman clone on SNES
Best Bomberman clone on SNES

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

Zen Nippon Pro Wrestling Trilogy (SFC)

Natsume launches their underrated wrestling series
Zen Nippon Pro Wrestling (7.16.93)

With the popularity of Human’s Fire Pro Wrestling series in the early-mid ’90s, Natsume counteracted with their (underrated) Zen Nippon Pro Wrestling trilogy. They even Americanized a version of this, calling it Natsume Championship Wrestling, which came out on the Super Nintendo market in June 1994. I have fond memories of NCW, so it was a great deal of fun to play the original Japanese version.

Growing up in the late ’80s a kid only needed two things really: Nintendo and Hulk Hogan. I still remember how my uncle would watch Saturday Night’s Main Event with me and my brother. As well as that time he took us to the mall to get an autograph from visiting WWF superstar Virgil. It was a great time.

Virgil signed my card, and he didn't charge me $50!
Still got my signed Virgil card to this day! ^_^

ZEN NIPPON PRO WRESTLING is an excellent wrestling game featuring solid graphics, good sound and terrific gameplay. The grapple system relies on timing rather than speed. You have weak, medium and power attacks during grapple. The energy bar is perhaps my favorite thing about these games. The “whiplash rope” trick is pretty damn cool too… more on this later on.

EGM introduced me to this series when they ran a cool little preview back in 1994.

NCW was based off the Zen Nippon games
NCW was based off the Zen Nippon games

Your energy bar starts out BLUE.

The bar decreases as damage is taken, revealing these colors in sequence:


Like Capcom’s Vampire Savior, health can be recuperated. For example, you recover health when you’re on the apron resting during a tag match. When you eat a move, like a power bomb or dropkick, you lose the proper amount of health but your energy will recover at a decent pace. However, the more damage you sustain, the slower your energy will recuperate. Brilliant.







Japanese wrestling legend Giant BABA is no match for the younger and quicker Patriot. I dig the simple, colorful visuals. That health bar system was innovative for its time!







There was a subtle sense of black humor, too. You can knock the opposition silly right before they can make the tag. Or even knock out their partner off the apron right as they’re going for the hot tag!

As good of a first entry as this was, the follow-up made some vast improvements.

Zen Nippon Pro Wrestling Dash: Sekai Saikyou Tag
Zen Nippon Pro Wrestling Dash: Sekai Saikyou Tag (12.28.93)

ZEN NIPPON PRO WRESTLING DASH was released only five months after the first one. It’s more of an upgrade than a sequel. Like the original, 16 wrestlers are available. So what’s new? Besides minor roster changes, the focus is now on tag team play, though the first game had tag team modes as well. The difference here? Tag team moves.

That'll rearrange his furniture
That’ll rearrange his furniture
C.O.D. = Concussion On Delivery
C.O.D. = Concussion On Delivery

OK, I know what you’re thinking

“Tag team combo moves. BIG DEAL!”

That’s why, to save Dash from being simply a hack cash-in, they included…


This mode is a wild free-for-all providing great multiplayer action. There are no energy bars cluttering the screen. The only way to win is via pin fall or submission. Over-the-top-rope doesn’t matter here — hell, you can take the battle outside if you wish.

Just don't get counted out
Just don’t get counted out

The mat on the outside even has a different (more brutal sounding) sound effect as compared to the ring mat. Great attention to detail and made slamming fools on the outside all the more satisfying.

The third and final game of the trilogy, however, is by far the best of the bunch.

Zen Nippon Pro Wrestling 2:3-4 Budokan (April 7, 1995)
Zen Nippon Pro Wrestling 2:3-4 Budokan (4.7.95)

Zen Nippon Pro Wrestling 2:3-4 Budokan (yes, I know it’s an incredibly weird and awkward title) is my favorite SNES wrestling game. I even prefer it over Super Fire Pro Wrestling X Premium, which I just reviewed earlier today. While I don’t think it’s technically better than Premium, I do find it to be slightly more fun. There’s a difference between what one considers to be their favorite versus what one considers to be the best. Let’s see what makes this final game in the Zen Nippon trilogy so good.


Based on skill, not speed
Based on skill, not speed

Similar to the Fire Pro games, Natsume chose wisely when they decided to make the Zen Nippon games based on timing rather than button mashing. When two wrestlers go to lock up, the first to press an attack button right as the two combatants touch hands will win that grapple. However, if you use a medium or power based attack early on, it may be countered as the opposition might still be too strong. Therefore, you must weaken them bit by bit until you can pull out the heavy hitters (power bombs, pile drivers and so forth). It made for progressive matches that flowed nicely, like real life wrestling matches on TV. You don’t see wrestlers hitting their big power moves right after the opening bell (well at least you don’t in most cases). It’s a classic formula that works and has stood the test of time.
























































They’re all actual real wrestlers that competed in Japan back in the ’80s or ’90s. My favorite is this guy…


zennipbudo4Asteroid was my favorite wrestler from Natsume Championship Wrestling which was a 1994 Super Nintendo release based off Zen Nippon Pro Wrestling. Man, did my brother and I have some good times with NCW. From buying the last copy at Toys R Us in ’95 for its clearance price of $19.99 to all the late evenings we spent glued to the TV screen waging war in tag team battle. Even my mom, who never cared for video games, would occasionally stop whatever chore she was doing to glance at the game. My bro and I played NCW to death for a good number of years until we finally laid it to rest in 1997 when one day my bro simply refused to play it. It was a sad day, but such is the life of video games, I suppose. Thanks for all the good times and fond memories, NCW! You and all your cheesy charm will never be forgotten.



Poor Doug Furnas probably lost a tooth there
Poor Doug Furnas probably lost a tooth there


Like I said, more moves than ever before
Like I said, more moves than ever before
[OK, please do not use the word KINKY ever again -Ed.]
[OK, please do not use the word KINKY ever again -Ed.]
Not really THAT big a deal, but cool stuff nonetheless
Not really that big a deal, but cool stuff nonetheless


Press ‘A’ to hold. If you catch your opponent, you can hit Y for a weak move, B for a medium move, A for a power move or X to sling them into the ropes. It allows you to skip the grappling process but be warned, your opponent can still counter if they’re too strong.

The new entrances are very cool, as well, with their own theme
New entrances with personal theme music? Sick
It's like one of those lavish GODZILLA VS. titles
It’s like one of those lavish GODZILLA VS. titles







Just like in the previous games, the 2.5 and 2.9 dramatic counts return. These close counts result in the audience stomping in unison causing the screen to shake. Adds nicely to the drama and intensity of a match.














Countering creates a dramatic ebb and flow
Countering creates a dramatic ebb and flow













No blood, but Budokan is satisfyingly BRUTAL
No blood, but Budokan is satisfyingly BRUTAL







OUCH, nothing says pain like taking a missile dropkick straight to the mush!







Akira’s face slam is devastating enough on its own. But when combined with the top cable rope? It’s downright dirty.













Jackhammer?! Close enough. In real life Akira used this move which he called Chichubu Cement. Odd name, sick looking move. The crash of the mat sounds extra loud on this move in particular, and never fails to make me wince a little on the inside.







Chichubu Cement against the ropes! Now that definitely makes me wince.













Undertaker would be proud. Love those flashing cameras. Totally captures the spirit of pro wrestling in the mid ’90s!













Akira also delivers one mean power bomb. But wait, there’s a twist here…







There are actually two versions of it! To execute Akira’s power bomb, press A to catch them in a hold first. Then press up or down + A. Tap A once for a regular release power bomb. But tap A multiple times and Akira will turn it into a pinning power bomb! The first time I discovered this by pure accident of button mashing for the hell of it, I almost fell out of my chair. It’s such a deep game, only second to Super Fire Pro Wrestling X Premium.













Akira just heaves them like they were yesterday’s garbage. I love the ability to do moves from behind — the previous two games didn’t allow this.













Samoan drop and a beauty! Budokan added in quite a few new moves the previous two games didn’t have.













Beautiful frog splash — Eddie Guerrero would be proud.








First, check out the cool entrances. Most wrestlers wear some sort of special t-shirt or robe that they only wear during their ring entrances. Good stuff. Baba is PIMPING!

Better fill those seats or else... YOU'RE FIRED
Better fill those seats or else… YOU’RE FIRED

Budokan is a unique mode where you book the wrestling matches. The arena starts out looking rather sorry and sparse, but depending on the quality of your booked matches, more fans fill in as the evening progresses. It’s a cool little niche mode but it’s not my favorite.

Don't hit start, hit option first
Don’t hit start, hit option first

This is a bit tricky. If you hit start you’ll begin the tournament which is meh. But if you press start on OPTION you actually open up the game’s various modes. Kind of weird, huh?

I may be a bit overly enthusiastic here...
I may be a bit overly enthusiastic here…
I love beating up on the masked wrestlers...
I love beating up on the masked wrestlers…
Fire Pro ain't got nothing on this!
Fire Pro ain’t got nothing on this

The Fatal Four Way leads to some good old fashion arcade-esque fun and chaos. Bum rushing folks from behind is oddly one of the greatest pleasures in multi-player history. There’s just something about attacking your friends from behind that will cause you to grin like a Cheshire cat. Trust me when I say… it’s priceless.

OK maybe this takes the cake
OK maybe this takes the cake

Like in Natsume Championship Wrestling, the ropes can be your friend if used wisely. You can actually ram them into the ropes, bouncing them off! This makes a neat sound effect as you watch in pure joy at the clever brutality and sheer violence of it all. It’s viciously, deviously violent.

It's why I prefer it slightly over Fire Pro
It’s why I prefer it slightly over Fire Pro
There's a devious aspect to the Fatal Four Way
There’s a devious aspect to the Fatal Four Way

Part of the fun is waiting in the wings, then rush attacking the opponent in the middle of his wrestling move. Here we see a well-timed dropkick in the middle of a suplex. All three bodies crash loudly to the mat, but of course only you get up immediately. The others? Licking their sore wounds on the canvas! Sweet.

That's what I call a hit and run
That’s what I call a hit and run

Indeed, taking out two wrestlers at the same time, particularly nailing one in front and the other from behind, is too damn fun. You can imagine the chaos and temporary allegiances this may create when playing against friends.







If anyone is foolish enough to taunt during a Fatal Four Way match, it’s your civic and rightful duty to remind them why doing so is not a good idea. Hey, someone’s gotta do the dirty work… don’t mind if I do! ;)


My longest match ever, this was simply epic
My longest match ever, this was simply epic

On average, my Fatal Four Way matches roughly go anywhere from about eight to 12 minutes. The real fun lies in trying to see how long you can prolong the torture of the three other wrestlers. You can break up pin falls by pressing ‘B’ to stomp, but it doesn’t always work, oddly enough. My longest time was 24 minutes and 38 seconds. However, on my last play-through, it went a record long 51 minutes and 28 seconds! After Patriot and Eagle were eliminated, this damn fool refused to lose. He kicked out at 2.5 and 2.9 at least 30 times. He was a man possessed. I hit him with about 15 missile dropkicks yet, like Freddy or Jason, dude kept coming back for more. I never saw anything like it before. After a back breaking power bomb, he finally submitted to my foul desires. It’s just fun to see how long you can keep a match going with all three guys, then two, then finally one. It’s like some sick game within a game type thing. I know, I’m weird. But damn if this isn’t fun.

Gotta watch that ref's count, though
Gotta watch that ref’s count, though

Whenever the fight spills outside the ring, there’s a decent chance one of the computer wrestlers will be counted out. They stay out there no matter what until the count of six. Also, when they’ve been beaten to a pulp, the first submission animation leads to a submission victory. It’s trickier than you think to keep all three computer opponents alive, and it’s fun to see how long you can take them to the limit. Zen Nippon Pro Wrestling Budokan is largely a dream come true for this ol’ wrestling fan. I see something new almost every time I play it. The other night Patriot and Eagle actually did a tag team move in the Fatal Four Way match to take out Kobashi. It was a suplex-top rope splash combination. That same match I discovered that Akira Taue can counter a rope reversal by hitting UP + Y or B, which produces a DDT! Speaking of Akira, I was pleasantly surprised when I found out he had two different power bombs (based on whether you press A once or tap it a few times). The depth of this wrestling game is second only to Super Fire Pro Wrestling X Premium.



Budokan took everything that worked in the first two games and cranked it up even further. Budokan offers more wrestlers, more moves, a superb Fatal Four Way match, better gameplay, better graphics and so on. This is one of those games I can pop in after a long day, play for even just 10 minutes and be satisfied with each and every time. It’s just a bloody brilliant fun time — especially for wrestling fanatics like myself.

The game's bread and butter
The game’s bread and butter

Zen Nippon Pro Wrestling Budokan is my favorite wrestling game on the SNES. If only the game featured WCW and WWF guys, it would be flawless. Imagine using guys like Sting, Undertaker, Bret Hart, Hulk Hogan, Macho Man Randy Savage and Shawn Michaels with this graphic style and gameplay system. Alas, we get 19 All Japan Pro Wrestling stars. They’re not bad but I don’t connect with them as I do with the more well known American wrestlers of mid ’90s fame. But I digress. Combining the arcade-like fun and chaos of Saturday Night Slam Masters with Fire Pro’s purity, Budokan is a gem that deserves more props. Bravo, Natsume!







Gotta love those lovely entrances, complete with the wrestler’s theme music!

Super Fire Pro Wrestling X Premium (SFC)

Arguably the greatest 16-bit wrestling game ever

Fire Pro Wrestling. It’s a cult classic franchise that has picked up steam over the years. Even back in the day of the late ’90s, when the internet was still relatively new, I remember hearing the rumblings online of Fire Pro. People were talking about Super Fire Pro Wrestling X Premium for the Super Famicom and Fire Pro S: Six Man Scramble for the Sega Saturn. My brother bought Fire Pro G on the Sony PlayStation and we played it to death. A little later on I bought Six Man Scramble.

Here comes the calvary
Here comes the calvary
It's an all out WAR!
It’s an all out WAR!
Somewhere Samurai Shodown is smiling
Somewhere Samurai Shodown is smiling
Tag team moves up the wazoo
Tag team moves up the wazoo

Fire Pro games are well known for being very realistic and in-depth. There were several entries on the Super Famicom but the last one, Super Fire Pro Wrestling X Premium, was the best of the 16-bit lot. Four could wrestle at once, and there was an extensive create a wrestler mode where you could create and save up to 80 wrestlers. It blew away any other “CAW” at that time (1996). It was revolutionary in many ways. The grappling is based on a timing and strength system. No button mashing here! I never was a huge fan of wrestling games where you had to mash away in order to win a grapple. Here you win based on timing, which is far more enjoyable. There are weak, medium and strong buttons. If you start out a match trying to use medium or strong moves, your opponent will counter because they’re still too fresh. No energy bars are shown — you’ll just instinctively know how strong or weak someone is.








There are a crap load of wrestlers to choose from. It spans many different federations and even include a few familiar American faces, like Hawk here of Road Warriors/Legion of Doom fame (R.I.P.)

























SUPLEX CITY! Somewhere Brock Lesnar is pacing as Paul Heyman preps his vocal cords. “LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, MY NAME IS PAUL HEYMAN…”













There are several modes to select from. The game is mostly in Japanese but of course there is a fan English translation floating out there. I always switch the ref to this old guy here — he counts the slowest of all the refs and so the matches are extended a little bit beyond the norm.







HULK HOGAN and UNDERTAKER?! Yup, they’re available from the start.







Tonight’s main event is a FATAL FOUR WAY featuring the Undertaker, Hulk Hogan, Hayabusa and ECW’s homicidal, suicidal, genocidal death-defying maniac, SABU! It’s gonna be a barnburner, folks! That shot of all four men knocked out on the mat is a sign of the chaos and sheer insanity to come…







Hulkster does his classic pose. Sabu then points to the sky to honor his uncle, The Sheik. Just like their real life counterparts back in their hey day. Great attention to detail! Coming from HUMAN and Fire Pro you wouldn’t expect anything less.







Tonight’s main event will continue until there is one man (or dead man) left standing. Every man for himself, elimination style. Let’s check out the action!







Undertaker delivers a high impact side suplex while Hogan tries to shut up the marks with a well executed Boston Crab.







Hogan with the Big Leg Drop of Doom! Hayabusa tried to intercept it but his timing was a bit off there. In reality we all know nothing stops Hulkamania.













Hayabusa shows off his strength by slamming the dead man, followed by a nice senton flip. Meanwhile, the Hulkster delivers a sweet vertical suplex to the mad man, Sabu.







“STUNNER! STUNNER!! STUNNER!!!” -Jim Ross, probably



















Taker with his patented beautiful running flying clothesline. Meanwhile, Hulk hits Sabu with a nasty pinning power bomb.



















Hayabusa shows off his classic 450 Splash.







German suplex well executed. That’s gonna leave a mark.



















Nobody ever said Sabu was smart now. He lives up to the “suicidal” part of his nickname, for sure. Meanwhile, notice that gorgeous DDT on the Hulkster there. Hayabusa spiked him good! Somewhere Jake “The Snake” Roberts is grinning.



















FLYING SPINNING CARTWHEEL KICK AND A BEAUTY! Taker displays his power with a standing delayed vertical suplex. The mat crashes with the bodies of these fierce, insane gladiators.







Break up pin falls if you wish to have all the glory for yourself.













Hayabusa and Sabu form a temporary alliance to take down the Immortal One, but the Undertaker has other plans.

The X sign! He's injured!
The infamous X — he’s injured!

So much for that alliance, eh? Sabu turns on the masked warrior right after and gets him to submit. Not only that but judging by the referee’s X signal, that means we have a legitimate injury… after all, referees show the X sign in real life for real injuries. They’ve never used it as part of a storyline…

Or maybe they did (WrestleMania 22)
Or maybe they have… see WrestleMania 22 and Ric Flair. WOO!



















Speaking of the legendary Nature Boy, Ric Flair, look at Hogan taking a page out of Flair’s playbook!

Ric, it worked once in 63 years!
Ric, it worked like once in 49 bloody years!













Choke Slam and a beauty! That HAS to be it!








WrestleMania 25
Taker is SHOCKED!
Taker is SHOCKED!













Hogan tried to mock D-Generation X by doing their signature crotch chop, but the Dead Man wasn’t having any of that.













Guess Taker really took great offense to Hogan trying to rip off DX…

No hulking up here
No hulking up here



















“WOULD SOMEBODY STOP THE DAMN MATCH!” Look at the way Sabu’s head bounced violently off the mat. “GOOD GAWD ALMIGHTY!” is right, Jim Ross.

































Super Fire Pro Wrestling X Premium does a lot of things right, especially for 1996 standards. However, it’s not quite perfect. For starters, when you’re near the apron of the ring it’s far too easy to fall outside. It’s awkward and kind of kills the flow of a match. This of course was fixed in later Fire Pro games. Another disappointment is that submission moves are way overpowered. I hate seeing an opponent tap out in a simple head lock hold five minutes into the match. It’s just not realistic. Later Fire Pro games gave you the option to turn submissions off, which negates this flaw. Unfortunately there’s no such option here. Another thing that this game is missing are steel cage matches, tables, fluorescent light bulbs, barb wire and all the crazy gimmicks and weapons that the later Fire Pro games would introduce. Think of this as a very PG and promising start to the series, but it’s far from being the “perfect” Fire Pro game. It’s like an early proto of what would become the successful backbone of the series. Don’t get me wrong, it’s an excellent game but whenever I play it it’s hard not to think about the improvements the series would later introduce, and you kind of wish at least a few of those made their debut here. Hell, just give me the no submissions and I’d be happy. Nevertheless, even as is, this is easily one of the greatest wrestling games of the 16-bit era. Possibly even the greatest…


Classic WWF wrestlers!
Classic WWF wrestlers!

The Create A Wrestler (CAW) mode was revolutionary for its time. You could create and save up to 80 wrestlers. There were tons of moves and body models to pick from that you could closely replicate your favorite titans of the squared circle. Here we see Macho Man Randy Savage, Hacksaw Jim Duggan, Sgt. Slaughter and the Ultimate Warrior. They all resemble their real life counterpart pretty damn well! So if you take the time you can easily recreate the magic of late ’80s/early ’90s WWF!

Rock it Four Horsemen style
Rock it Four Horsemen style
Going super old school with Bobo!
Go super old school with Bobo!


Wrestling digital Heaven
Wrestling digital Heaven

It’s easy to see why Super Fire Pro Wrestling X Premium is so beloved. Released in March of 1996, it’s been over 20 years now and the game remarkably still holds up well. As I stated a bit earlier, there are definitely better more recent Fire Pro games available, but considering this now 20 plus year old game can still stand toe to toe with most wrestling games from ANY era is no doubt impressive indeed. It speaks to how innovative and fresh this game was back in ’96. You want to recreate the Attitude WWF era? Or the Ruthless Aggression era? Or WCW? ECW? Perhaps relive the Monday Night War? With a little time and devotion to the CAW mode, you can! The game certainly isn’t without its flaws but you simply have to appreciate how deep this game was and still is. Human did a great job and should be highly commended. The series definitely didn’t peak here, but it no doubt laid its grass roots with Super Fire Pro Wrestling X Premium.

Mega Man & Bass (SNES)

Capcom released this Super Famicom game on April 24, 1998
Capcom’s Super Nintendo swan song (April 24, 1998)

Even to this day, a part of me can’t believe this game ever actually happened. Known as Rockman & Forte, Capcom released it on April 24, 1998, well after the SNES was essentially dead. I guess there was a big enough Japanese market still for them to do this. Whatever the case may be, I’m damn glad they did. Because it’s one hell of a Mega Man entry, and a nice bow on the original series.

This is my personal boxed copy
This is my personal boxed copy

The original Japanese version is perfectly playable, but there is a bit of Japanese dialogue. Especially for the item shop and the character bios, it sure helps to be able to read it. Crazed and dedicated fans felt the same way as they worked on an English translation. As a result of that, we have been graced by Mega Man & Bass.

Alternate cover I seen elsewhere
Alternate cover I seen elsewhere
Alternate cover #2
Alternate cover #2

Bass and Treble made their series debut in Mega Man 7. Treble is a wolf and is basically to Bass as Rush is to Mega Man. But for those who don’t want to backtrack to the Mega Man 7 review, here is a quick summary…











Prophetic words indeed from the Blue Bomber. The duo did get their own game and surprisingly it was on the Super Famicom (April 1998). After releasing Mega Man 8 for the Sony PlayStation and Sega Saturn in December of 1996, Capcom wanted to create a new Mega Man game specifically for loyal SNES fans who hadn’t yet made the jump to 32-bit. Further proof that Capcom was the best back in the ’90s.

Capcom felt bad this wasn't on SNES?
Mega Man 8 is GORGEOUS
The sprite work was simply amazing
The sprite work was simply amazing
Apology accepted, Capcom!
Apology accepted, Capcom!









Look familiar? They were bosses in Mega Man 8








Players get the choice to play as either the good old Blue Bomber or the relative newcomer, Bass. Similar to Zero from Mega Man X³, this adds greater longevity to the game as both characters play vastly different. It’s also a blast trying to beat the game with both Mega Man and Bass.







Differences range from small to big. Cosmetically, it’s cool to see the health refills and what not are in the character’s respective color. It’s a nice little touch that I appreciate, even if it’s completely minor.







However, Mega Man as you know has his classic shot. He can only shoot straight ahead. Bass, on the other hand, can shoot in all directions except for straight down. If you’ve ever played a Mega Man game and thought to yourself, “Man, I wish he could shoot up or diagonally…” then you will appreciate Mega Man & Bass. Or at least, Bass anyhow. To compensate for Bass’ shooting ability, he can’t move while he’s shooting (bummer) and his shot isn’t very strong.







Another difference: their personality and disposition. Mega Man is more compassionate and an all-around goody two shoes.







Meanwhile, Bass is a bit more “robotic” [har har -Ed.] and edgy. Hey, he is technically a bad guy. He’s only teaming up on the “good side” temporarily to knock off King.







Checking in with Bass later — for now let’s use good ol’ Megs.







There’s something strange happening at the Robot Museum. Mega Man sets off to figure out what’s going on. I like how the READY sign is big and blue — it reminds me of Mega Man 8.







Museum serves as the standard Mega Man introductory first level you must beat before getting to select from the robot masters. Right away you can see while it’s no Mega Man 8 in terms of visuals (duh), it’s damn impressive for a 16-bit console.







WHEW!! With the whipping rain and wind pushing against you, you manage to barely clear the jump. Make sure you jump at the very edge there.













Proto Man attempts to slay KING — the game’s big bad — but to no avail. OUCH!







Remember the Green Devil from Mega Man 8? He’s back. It’s a different version of the Yellow Devil which appeared in the very first Mega Man title back in 1987.







Reminds me of the bubble boss from Gradius III in that you have to blast away until you expose its core.







Simple, satisfying introductory boss battle that will wet your appetite for the main game coming up. By the way, isn’t it the best feeling in the world to beat a boss with only a health bar or two remaining? Always provides a nice little rush!







WHOA, IT SAVES?!? Yes, it does. It’s the first and only Super Nintendo Mega Man game that uses a save system over passwords.







Purists were a little disappointed when they found out in Mega Man 7 you could only select from four robot masters first instead of all eight. You only get a paltry three here. Once you beat those three, the other five open up. Let’s pay Cold Man a visit first.







Gotta love the animation of Mega Man as he’s zapped magically to the beginning of a stage. It somehow reminds me a bit of Astro Boy. See that CD over there? Throughout the game you’ll find CD’s lying around. Collecting them gives you a character bio card. It’s fun to collect and read (at least if you’re playing a fan translation or if you can read Japanese). Right now you can’t collect that CD since that ice block is, er, blocking your path. But maybe if you beat Burner Man a bit later on and use his Web Burner… hmmm…







Other CD’s are more instantly accessible. They’re not necessary to collect but of course it’s fun to try and collect all 100.







Beginning to look a lot like Christmas [TOYS IN EVERY STORE -Ed.]. No, I mean it’s almost December. That and this gigantic snowman mid boss [Oh, ahem, I knew that… -Ed.]







Slightly tricky bit where you have to time your jump correctly to catch a ride.







Cakewalk city with Cold Man. Jump over his Ice Wall and blast him with your Mega Buster.







Beware of his Sub Zero-esque ice puddle attack, however. He also sends forth an annoying cloud that can really bog you down and leave you ripe for the taking. Best to shoot it down early to avoid that possibility altogether.







Ahhh, what’s better than getting the last shot in and seeing the boss explode with that sweet visual and sound effect? It never gets old, I tells ya!







Speaking of never getting old, I also like seeing how Mega Man earns the boss’ weapon. Just sit back and enjoy.







Alright, we got Ice Wall! But, um, what does it do, exactly?







WHOA!! This game actually gives you a demo preview of each new weapon you steal! Why Capcom didn’t think of this a long time ago remains a mystery.







Ground Man, huh? To Capcom’s defense, after NINE titles you would be running out of ideas too [Oh yeah watch this! Er, um, Cup Man! Hmm, OK, I’ll cut Capcom some slack -Ed.]







There’s a ton of sand everywhere here. You’ll be wondering if there’s an instant death pit or a helpful item hiding in the sand. Find out for yourself…







Creepy robotic worms fall from a pod located up top. Meanwhile, don’t stand still for too long as you’ll sink to your death.







You’ll quickly discover you can’t kill it. So hold onto that ladder there and wait for it to pass by. The ladder doesn’t take you to a new screen. It’s just there for you to safely wait it out. Well isn’t that thoughtful of Ground Man? Helping out the good guys. Just don’t let King know about this…







Better high tail it as the nasty critter quickly reappears. Whew, just barely slid home safe here, eh?







MAJOR FAIL on the first pic there. You can’t run back to a previous screen so get ready to eat some damage. Second pic, the race is on! Who will get to the ladder first? Oh the tension…







Although not the same creature (it would be cool if it was), it’s definitely related. Tough mid boss. Its pattern is somewhat erratic so it’s a bit of a pain to deal with. Close call there, Mega Man!







OUCH. I bet that stings like a you know what. Look at the attention to detail. When your health is low, Mega Man is visibly injured. Nice, Capcom. Nice.







Watch out for its little babies. You can only kill them with the Mega Buster since they’re so small. Gotta love the classic flashing.







SAFE!! Silky smooth, that Mega Man.







Shots sail harmlessly off Sniper Joe’s shield. I’ve always liked the detail of the shots flying backwards. Sniper Joe likes to launch grenades. Give him a taste of your Mega Buster to put him down for the count.













Puzzle time! Each pillar destroyed causes the spikes to fall one more notch. It starts out simple but…













Doesn’t take long before it gets a tad trickier. Sorry about that, Mega Man.







ProTip: Not all treasure chests are helpful. A little RPG-esque here, eh? By the way, see that match there? See what happens when you revisit this level later on with the Web Burner in tow…













Speaking of boss weapons, here’s Mega Man riding the Ice Wall to victory. Sick.







Astro Man, no relation to Astro Guy from King of the Monsters, is next. If he looks familiar to you it’s because he was a boss from Mega Man 8.







Cursory glance and I might believe you if you told me this were a PlayStation or Saturn Mega Man title. It speaks volumes about how gorgeous this game looks and how silky smooth it is.







Meggers giving it the old college try.







Bonjour, Joe. That CD taunts you but after you get your hands on Burner Man’s Web Burner, you’ll be the one who gets the last laugh.







Strange birds and creatures fly out of that inter-dimensional portal screen. Part of me almost expects to see Shredder and Krang!







Interesting bit: study the light pattern and repeat it. If done so correctly, the door magically opens. If not, well, you can figure out what those guns might do…







Tricky bit with the elevating platforms. Keep moving along, Megs!







D’OH!! OK, let’s switch over to Bass now.







Firing off rapid plasma shots for a little “purple rain” action.







Double jump like a ninja. Bass can’t slide, but this is decent compensation.







Shooting diagonally in a Mega Man game? I’m so there.







Reminiscent of Mega Man X, Bass can also dash. It’s fun playing this on a cold rainy December night.







Green Devil is definitely an easier boss when using Mega Man. C’mon Bass!







“THIS IS SPARTA!” Bass battles Green Devil to the very bitter end.








Remember Auto from Mega Man 7? He’s back. He’s sometimes known as Rightot. Whatever you want to call him, call him helpful. He runs this shop where he creates useful items in exchange of bolts (the game’s currency). Throughout the levels you will find small and big bolts. Collect them to buy power-ups. There are lots of items; they range from extra lives to auto charge (!) on the Mega Buster shot. Selecting the right power-up for the right stage is all part of the strategy.








Throughout the game there are a total of 100 CD’s strewn about the stages waiting to be collected. These open up character bios. This is where playing an English translation pays off. I mean, it’s nothing fancy but it’s certainly fun to be able to read the silly little text. It’s a nice piece of Mega Man history, you know?

























Character bios span the entire previous Mega Man universe. Knight Man from Mega Man 6, Freeze Man from Mega Man 7, Frost Man from Mega Man 8, and yes even Saturn from Game Boy Mega Man V! Impressive. True diehards will definitely make it a point to collect all 100. By the way, Saturn hates video games? BOO!


Mega Man & Bass, er, Rockman & Forte, rocks
Mega Man & Bass, er, Rockman & Forte, rocks

I remember when I first found out about Rockman & Forte being a real thing. It was during the mid 2000s and I was thinking, “Seriously? Capcom released this great looking Mega Man game on the Super Famicom in 19-freaking-98?!” That they did. Whatever the reasons were, I’m damn glad they did. It’s easily the Super Nintendo’s second best Mega Man game, only trailing the epochal Mega Man X. Being able to use Bass, with his double jumping and diagonal shooting, brings a whole new dimension to the table. The items present a bevy of strategies one could take and the game presents a fairly decent challenge. The 100 CD’s are fun to collect and read — it’s basically a little Mega Man compendium. Oh and perhaps best of all, you can now save. What a fantastic swan song for the Super Nintendo from the fine folks at Capcom. If it weren’t for 1999’s Sutte Hakkun, I’d say this is easily the last great Super Nintendo game ever crafted.

In a flash, Capcom bids farewell
In a flash, Capcom bids farewell

Stunning visuals, classic Capcom audio and vintage Mega Man gameplay cements Rockman & Forte (or Mega Man & Bass) as one of the best Super Famicom games to never appear in North America. Thank you Capcom for giving us loyal SNES fans one last bang. Capcom’s SNES swan song turns out to be one of the Blue Bomber’s finest 16-bit outings.

Graphics: 9.5
Sound: 9
Gameplay: 9
Longevity: 7

Award4Overall: 9.0
Gold Award 


Quit monkeying around and play this!
Quit monkeying around. Play it!