Umihara Kawase (SFC)

Dora the Explorer meets Bionic Commando!
Dora the Explorer meets Bionic Commando!

Before I delved deep into the obscure world of Super Famicom in early 2006, I remember hearing rumblings about a strange Japanese game. Its biggest selling point was it played something akin to Bionic Commando. As a kid the grappling in Bionic Commando captivated my imagination, and I always wanted to play a Super Bionic Commando. Unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be. Umihara Kawase isn’t that, but it doesn’t need to be. Imagine a wacky world where you navigate through the levels with your fish grappling hook, latching onto edges and using momentum and physics to push yourself up or across, or even down. It’s a unique experience the likes of which few Super Nintendo games can claim. On top of all that, throw in a distinct minimalist visual style and all manner of ocean “enemies” and you have one weird but memorable game.







Bionic Commando was released on the 8-bit Nintendo in 1988. It became a cult classic to many and it was surprising (and sad) that Capcom never made a proper 16-bit sequel. The closest thing to this on the SNES is probably Umihara Kawase.







Although actually, in 1992 Capcom released Bionic Commando to the Game Boy. It’s a very respectable game and features a password system which the NES game did not. It can be played on your Super Nintendo via the Super Game Boy. I have a copy myself and definitely recommend it as it’s a fun game to play on the go or on your big screen TV using an actual Super Nintendo controller. I consider it a bittersweet experience though. It’s good enough to tease you and make you really ponder what a “Super Bionic Commando” might look and play like.


It's like an acid trip...
It’s like an acid trip…

Right away you’ll notice the game sports a unique look. Compared to other SNES games of the era, Umihara Kawase is not exactly what one would call “bright” or even “cheerful.” It’s sort of a drab almost dreary looking world. No one knows why this Japanese school girl is suddenly forced to navigate this bizarre world containing mutated sea life. All we know is there is an exit and you must help her reach said exit door safely.

To reach your destination, you’re going to have to master the use of your tool. Each level opens up with a short demo to give you a taste.







Right away you can see why people have long drawn comparisons to Bionic Commando. The difference is the physics of the rope allows you to manipulate the ways you can move her around. It’s less “stiff” than Bionic Commando because things here are, literally, much more flexible.

Here’s an example:



















Mastering and getting used to the physics of the rope is all part of the fun.







Level one literally gets your feet wet. Love the detail of the little splashes.







The core of the gameplay is firing your hook at various platforms and ledges, then using momentum and physics of the elastic rope to swing yourself over to the next desired platform. It sounds simple but it’s rather complex and I like how there’s more than one way to solve any given level. It makes replaying the stages a more worthwhile endeavor than your typical platformer.

Go Dora go!
Go Dora go!

The way she pulls herself up onto a ledge is rather adorable. She isn’t the most athletic girl around (her jumps don’t go very high), but she’s got a charm to her.







Enemies litter the stages. Sometimes they’re roaming about. Other times they will appear mysteriously out of nowhere — a quick swirling dust cloud is the only indicator as to where they’ll pop up. The randomness of these enemy placements go a long way to increasing the game’s longevity. Most enemies can be eliminated by firing the hook at them and then reeling them in. She puts them in her pink backpack so she doesn’t “kill” them. It’s very family friendly. It’s a nice game that anyone can play. But few will master. That’s the beauty of the game.







Sometimes reeling in an enemy causes the poor little girl to crash into a platform! I love the detail of her chin literally smashing against the ledge there. It doesn’t hurt her but it sure is a fun sight gag. Gives the game a subtle sense of (black) humor and definitely gives it some extra personality.







Don’t underestimate those little fish bouncing around in that bucket there. You can capture them for points, but be careful they don’t bounce off your head and send you spiraling to an early watery grave.







Some enemies are much tougher, like this octopus which can’t be killed. It can only be avoided. Watch out for its black inky cloud. If it touches you it causes you to be paralyzed momentarily. The worst part though is you wobble about for a few seconds. This can leave our poor heroine stumbling off a ledge to her demise.







Marine life isn’t the only hazard though. Similar to Elevator Action Returns, be careful you don’t get squished to death by the various floating platforms! There’s no blood or anything, but the way she gets squashed is still pretty gruesome looking. The first time I saw this it shocked me a bit to be honest. I just didn’t expect this from a “kid’s game.” When in reality it’s not really a kid’s game as the gameplay mechanics are rather complex!







The objective of each level is to locate the exit and reach it. Locating it isn’t so hard — reaching it may present a stiffer task. It’s so satisfying to finally reach the exit. I love the way she swings the door open. Hey, it’s the little things in life and video games, right?







Here’s a nifty trick. In order to reach that exit down there you can’t just jump down because the angle and law of physics doesn’t allow you to do so. Instead, what you can do is stand at the edge, kneel and drop your hook down. This allows you to use gravity and momentum to safely swing yourself down to the next platform until you finally reach that sweet exit. It’s little tricks like this that make it so much fun. It’s like learning the ins and outs of using a yo-yo. This is a bit like “walking the dog.” Good stuff.







This requires a bit of skill but nothing you can’t get the hang of [I see what you did there -Ed.] after a bit of practice and elbow grease. It’s these little moments that make this game such a pleasure to play.

Get the hang of it. Geddit?
Get the hang of it. Geddit?
Some stages have multiple exits
Some levels have multiple exits
It's fun working your way to the exit
Always a blast solving the puzzle
Look out for bonus items
Look out for bonus items
Pull yourself up and swing over
Pull yourself up and swing over
Close! Wait patiently there
Close! Wait patiently there
Who knows how they got so big?
This is one trippy game…
But it's loads of fun!
But it’s loads of fun!

The first boss you’ll encounter is this creepy looking thing. The way it moves and how abnormal it looks freaks me out a bit. It reminds me of Godzilla’s second form from Shin Godzilla.

It's just weird enough to be a bit creepy
It’s just weird enough to be a bit creepy







The thing lays eggs which quickly hatch. At which point little green frogs come hopping your way.

Oh, they look harmless...
Oh, they look harmless…







You actually can’t kill this boss. The secret to winning is making sure it doesn’t touch you. Eventually it just gets bored and goes away. But be careful its frog babies doesn’t knock you off.


Retro Gamer Magazine blurb
Retro Gamer placed it 10th on their top 10 SNES list


This game is weird and awesome
This game is weird and awesome

Umihara Kawase is one of the best Super Famicom games that never came out stateside. It’s a pure joy to play. Learning how to manipulate the elastic grappling hook makes it different than any of the 976 other platformers on the SNES. I can’t say enough positive things about it, and it’s best you experience it for yourself if you haven’t already. It’s got an interesting soundtrack to boot. The sound effects, music and gameplay all combine to make it one of those nice relaxing and soothing games to play. The kind of game that you can fire up for 15 minutes after a long hard day at work and be completely satisfied by. Don’t let its looks fool you — Umihara Kawase is a true gem that belongs in any SNES recommendation list.

It's unlike any other SNES game
It’s unlike any other SNES game!

Deae Tonosama Appare Ichiban (SFC)

Pocky & Rocky's weird cousin...
Pocky & Rocky‘s weird cousin…

Are you a big fan of the Pocky & Rocky games? Do you appreciate video games that veer off the path of “normal” and spiral deep into the depths of madness? Then Deae Tonosama Appare Ichiban was made for you. Tackle 10 bizarre stages featuring even stranger creatures and enemies in a madcap attempt to save the world. The good news? Two guys are up to the task. The bad news? Those two guys aren’t exactly superhero material. Fortunately, they’ve got heart up the wazoo and the game is a friggin’ blast.


The game doesn’t take itself seriously at all

When EGM issue #66 came out, January 1995, there was a half page preview on a weird looking action game for the Super Famicom. It struck my fancy and it was just something that never left me. Finally, nearly 16 years later, I got a chance to play Tonosama. To me, one of gaming’s greatest pleasures is crossing Game X off the X Year Curiosity list. There’s something really cool about finally playing that game you had studied a half page preview on some 15+ years ago. Games which you thought back then you would never ever play. Such is the advantage of being older, having more resources and know-how. It seemed like a silly game from EGM’s description, and boy were they spot on. Tonosama is strange as all hell!








Mario and Luigi they are not!
Mario and Luigi they are not!

Deae Tonosama Appare Ichiban is a one or two player overhead action game. It’s filled with little cultural items and oddities throughout, and the two “heroes” you can play as certainly are not your average video game good guys, so to speak. In fact their names are Baka-dono, which means Lord Stupid, and Baka-ouji, which means Prince Stupid. I’m not making this up. This comes from the actual game translation believe it or not. It gives you a good idea of its slapstick nature.

Pick your poison, I mean, player...
Pick your poison, I mean, player…

Lord Stupid and Prince Stupid play differently. Fanboy has a close range attack while the Prince’s roses act as projectiles. In a two player game, it’s nice to have the Prince attacking from afar with Baka-dono striking up front. Unfortunately, there is a bit of slowdown, even in the one player game as the screen can get fairly hectic from time to time with all the enemy sprites rushing in and out. These two also have some special moves you can work out. I personally prefer Baka-dono, despite Rose Boy being the better jumper.

I'll explain TGR a bit later
I’ll explain TGR a bit later
As always, save your bombs for the big bosses
As always, save your bombs for the big bosses
Nothing beats seeing % icons after transforming
Nothing beats seeing % icons after transforming

See the yellow % at the bottom there and the 20% icon on the bridge? That’s your TGR. When you press ‘X’ you transform to your father’s muscle bound ways. Every hit you take or deliver drops your %. Once it hits 0 you go back to being Baka-dono or Baka-ouji. Slain enemies may leave behind food, scrolls (magic) or TGR points. The fathers are very strong. Another good thing: as the father, your own health never decreases, only the % points. It’s funky, but it sure is fun!

Call me Boss again, toots [Oh this is going downhill fast -Ed.]
Call me boss again, toots [Oh brother… -Ed.]
Tonosama allows you to select your stage order. I always like games that allow you to pick and choose. You can start off with the final boss (blue triangle) first, but if so, you’ll have to run the gauntlet of the purple triangle bosses, with no scrolls or TGR, mind! So I really do not recommend tackling the blue triangle first. Plus, with the cool and crazy locales, you don’t want to miss a thing!








That big guy there is sort of a mini boss. His little cronies try to bum rush you. Later on Baka-dono comes face to face with some angry swordsmen.







Your first mid boss encounter (of many) occurs on this cool little red bridge. Baka-dono then calls on his father for some needed assistance.







Ye standard semi-tricky jumping bits are ever present in Tonosama. As you make your way through this deadly dojo, sumo wrestlers parade around trying to slap you down! By the way, I love how this game is filled to the brim with unnecessary explosions. Japanese shoji screens? They even explode in submission. Gotta love it.

I'm having an E. Honda and Samurai Shodown NIPPON! flashback!
E. Honda and Samurai Shodown NIPPON! mashup

And here is your very first boss fight — a ref and two grandmaster sumo wrestlers! It’s your lucky day — you get to maim three for the price of one. Watch out for their rolling attacks and make sure you take out the annoying referee who cowardly stays back, tossing projectiles at ya.








This is one of my favorite stages just because it has a creepy, ominous feel. Things look so bleak and depressing! Along the way you’ll be ambushed by jumping monkeys, ravenous crows and sprinting, shuriken-throwing ninja demons.







Be patient with this waterfall boulders-falling-down bit. Can get a little tight there toward the end. Near the end of the stage you’ll run into some zombies. I love the way they stagger about. When you kill them, they’ll burn up for a couple seconds before biting the dust! It’s a great enemy design that adds to the foreboding atmosphere of this groovy little stage.

This demon dude is a total badass. Aim for his face!
This demon dude is a total badass. Aim for his face!
Sick! A bit reminiscent of Jason Voorhees, eh?
Sick! A bit reminiscent of Jason Voorhees, eh?
[I'm baffled. This game is weirder than EVEN YOU!  -Ed.]
Let’s just move on…








The enemy roster goes from weird to weirder. I love that water part even though the dashing bald dudes can be fairly frustrating. Just love the way you can see the reflection of clouds in the water. It’s little graphical touches like this that draw you even deeper into a game.







Careful you don’t slip and drown! Poor Baka-dono doesn’t know how to swim (nor does his father, for that matter). Thankfully you just lose a little health and not a life. Mr. Fatso there serves as the mid boss of this level. He swings and chucks some sort of slingshot.







Next up you come to this little beach area where vicious spear-tossing madmen (!) do their damnedest to make sure you don’t advance any farther. Then you find three of them stabbing an innocent dolphin that’s been washed ashore! It’s sick and perverted yet makes you say, “Wow, that was different.” Kill the savages and rescue the dolphin. Free Milly!







Milly the dolphin thanks you and gives you a ride to Ganryujima Island. When necessary, jump from one dolphin friend to the next. It’s your standard force-scrolling section. I really like this one, though. It’s actually kind of fun and more than just tolerable while you wait for the next regular action bit to present itself.







After reaching the island you make your way through this creepy cave. The zombies return from the Cursed Village, and after crossing that bridge you come face to face with a most peculiar… ALIEN!? Sure looks like it… but what’s an alien doing there blocking the bridge passage? Bizarre, but deliciously imaginative and thought-provoking!

This boss is pretty tough. Use your magic or TGR
This boss is pretty tough. Use your magic or TGR
Use your last bomb before dying. Just snuck it in!
Use your last bomb before dying. Just snuck it in!
Now we can make our way to the blue triangle, Baka-dono!
Now we can make our way to the blue triangle
You can pick from two, I'll show the first one
You can pick from two. I’ll show the first one
Just copy the Zangief dude (wearing bunny ears?!) and you'll win
Just copy the Zangief dude (wearing bunny ears?!)







It helps to either have a Super Famicom controller (to know which color button is which) or to do a quick Google image search. Your reward is increased TGR beyond even 100%!


Sorry, folks. Binding contractual agreement. Let's pause
Sorry, folks. Binding contractual agreement…

[Dunno why but I could go for some HVG Tea now -Ed.]
[Dunno why but I suddenly want some HVG Tea -Ed.]
[What program am I watching here?! -Ed.]
[What program am I watching here?! -Ed.]
I love this boss. It’s a fun simple fight and he’s a hoot to pound and punch at. But he’s not the final boss of the game. After defeating him you’ll be transported to the next area where more levels await. Just when you thought things were already bizarre enough, prepare for more wacky strangeness that only the Japanese can seem to muster!


Let's hit up China first...
Let’s hit up China first








Yes, you get to kill, believe it or not, Chinese hopping vampires! Oh goodness, when I first saw them buggers hopping about, I nearly fell out of my chair in disbelief. Anyone who ever saw the 1985 classic MR. VAMPIRE will surely appreciate this. It’s things like this that help make Tonosama something that will stick in your memory vault for a long time to come. Later on there’s a semi-tricky jumping spot to work out.

Such fun childhood memories!
Such fun childhood memories!
Hopping vampires creeped the hell out of me
Hopping vampires gave me the heebie-jeebies
This bastard gave me nightmares
This creepy bastard gave me nightmares as a kid







That mid boss dude is tough. After defeating him, the stones give way falling to the abyss below. Don’t just stand there looking aloof — get a move on it!







Transformed into your overly muscular dead father, a mad flock of hopping vampires and mutant locusts quickly come your way. Now if THAT sentence doesn’t perfectly sum up the weirdness and awesomeness of Deae Tonosama Appare Ichiban, I don’t know what will! A little later on you’ll even run into some Bruce Lee wannabes because, why not?







You even face off against giant turtles (Gamera, anyone?) and bamboo-shooting pandas. At this point, are you even really surprised?

Baka-dono: It ain't QUITE midnight yet, playa!
Baka-dono: It ain’t QUITE midnight yet, playa!
Although midnight's getting awfully close!
Although midnight’s getting awfully close!
Tough bastard. Time to highlight Baka-ouji now
Tough bastard. Time to highlight Baka-ouji now








This might be the most bizarre moment in the entire game. As the little boat carries you along, creepy ladies fly across the screen and some yoga dude is zapping away nonstop. To boot, yes, you can kill the chickens! Very weird but very fun stuff. After reaching land you’ll find a bevy of those yoga laser spewing henchmen strewn about.







Some half-naked dudes start bouncing your way. Later you come to what appears to be the Taj Mahal with wild bulls and curry plate-chucking (!) Indians. Ah, I wonder what the game designers were smoking when they made this?

This is my second favorite mid boss in the game
This is my second favorite mid boss in the game
You bad guy. Me good guy. That's why
You bad guy. Me good guy. That’s why
[At this point, NOTHING in this game shocks me -Ed.]
[At this point, NOTHING in this game shocks me -Ed.]
That's one nasty looking elephant trunk
That’s one nasty looking elephant trunk
I'm a big fan of boss fights where you battle both animal and owner
I love it where you battle both animal and owner

The caretaker tries to whip you, but focus on killing the elephant. Doing so takes out the guy as well. Tonosama‘s bosses flash just like bosses used to in the good old days.

The elephant explodes (yes) and the caretaker is severely humbled!
The elephant explodes because why not?
[Uh, no comment. Let us just move on, then... -Ed.]
[Uh, no comment. Let us just move on, then… -Ed.]








Here you’ll be attacked from all sides by fencers and, yes, what looks to be broom-riding witches and cherubs. Did you expect anything less, at this point?







This mini boss thinks he’s all rough and tough but once you rid of his external, you’ll find a rather limp and sorry guy on the inside. Not so big and bad now are we?

He's literally red with embarrassment  [Pack yer things -Ed.]
He’s literally red with embarrassment [… -Ed.]






This dining hall is absolutely loaded with goodies. However, in the room above, just like in pretty much every RPG, beware of treasure chests masquerading as the real McCoy…

Baka-ouji: Uh oh, I get a bad feeling they don't wanna be friends!
Baka-ouji: I’ve got a bad feeling about this…
Nice try, Prince Stupid!  Points for effort
Nice try, Prince Stupid! Points for effort
Great job, you've pissed him off now!
Great job, you’ve pissed him off now!
Let's see what you're made of, Prince!
Let’s see what you’re made of, Prince



The Fire Dragon is relentless and follows you for a bit
The fire dragon follows after you for a bit

Abra deals out a lot of fiery attacks, but the only way to harm him is to send that drum back at him. It will take 12 hits to kill him. Be patient while you wait for the drum cans and dodge all the various fire tricks he dishes out.

That flaming sprite looks like Metal Slug...
That flaming sprite looks like Metal Slug










You get to kill astronauts on Mars. I know. Later you encounter aliens IN LOVE (!?!!?) and rabbits scurrying around with hammers. The reason for the latter is the Japanese believe, apparently, that sometimes you can see a rabbit and a hammer in the moon. Go figure…

Reminiscent of the twisted bosses from Psychic Assassin Taromaru
So twisted — it’s like an evil alien nun!

This is just an awesome mid boss fight. It attacks with its eyes and even its head which is detachable from its body! The more you hurt it, the more it flashes until it blinks red like you’re at some frenetic rave party. Sweet.









Take the teleporter to this space station-like area. You can see Earth below.







Another deadly mid boss. Stay behind it if you want to cheat and save your life.


He's a tough bastard, the git!
He’s a tough bastard, the git!


Gotta love the old school boss damage flashing
Gotta love the old school boss damage flashing




Even giant aliens aren't immune to the low blow
Even giant aliens aren’t immune to the low blow


Oooh, them spooky eyes...
Oooh, them spooky eyes…
Jump and pray is the best way to avoid this assault!
Jump and pray is the best way to avoid this assault
You know he's weak when he starts to teleport
You know he’s weak when he starts to teleport
A very cool and satisfying moment indeed
A very cool and satisfying moment indeed
Things, naturally, end on a very bizarre note
Things, naturally, end on a very bizarre note

Ah, the alien perishes and what we have left here is actually, according to the in-game text, a monkey! Say WHAAAA?!

Don't worry, the Earth folks are the friendliest bunch around...
Don’t worry, earthlings are SUPER friendly…..
Who knew Baka-dono and Baka-ouji had it in them!
Who knew Baka-dono and Baka-ouji had it in ‘em!

Escorting the monkey, the two of you are magically whisked off back to planet Earth. You’ve saved the entire universe from a dreadful fate and also have handed over the single most precious discovery in the history of civilization. Congratulations, Baka!

A fittingly odd photograph to end a wildly odd game
A fittingly odd photograph to end a wildly odd game



Tonosama features a healthy heap of boss flashing and excessive explosions galore. Watch in sheer joy as mid bosses and end level guardians flash red and white alike! There’s a certain TMNT II: The Arcade Game nostalgic feeling about seeing big bosses flash red as they weaken, and the more they suffer damage the more they blink. Until at long last… KA-BOOM! I always think of Rocksteady whenever I see bosses flashing. There’s something real 1990 about it, and Deae Tonosama Appare Ichiban definitely conjures memories of days gone by. Also, when you’re transformed into your muscular father, each punch dealt causes the screen to erupt in a massive explosion. It doesn’t take much for the screen to start resembling something you would see on the 4th of July! It’s all very over-the-top campy fun, and as you can easily see, the game doesn’t take itself seriously.

One of the most expensive Saturn titles
One of the most expensive Saturn titles

Other than Pocky & Rocky, you know what games Tonosama remind me of? Prikura Daisakusen and Psychic Assassin Taromaru. Prikura is an isometric shooter with smart bombs, huge flashing bosses, a crazy atmosphere and also an option to turn into a big steroid-pumped protagonist. Tonosama also produces shades of Taromaru for me in the sense that both games feature an impressive amount of mid and mini bosses, a distinctively peculiar atmosphere (though Taromaru is more on the creepy side) and some of the bosses from Tonosama remind me of some of the bosses from Taromaru.

Prikura Daisakusen (Saturn, 1996)
Prikura Daisakusen (Saturn, 1996)
It's weird and fun
It’s weird and fun
Taromaru is some kind of trip
Taromaru is some kind of trip


Pocky & Rocky fans will appreciate this offbeat title

I’ve played a few strange games in my career. Some were good while others relied more on gimmick to get by and leave an impression. Deae Tonosama Appare Ichiban might be the weirdest game I’ve ever played, but it’s much more than a mere gimmick. It hooks you in — you can’t help but want to see what outlandish enemies lie just around the corner. Thankfully the game itself is actually quite fun to boot. There’s more to Tonosama than a coat of weirdness. Behind the eclectic exterior lies a rock solid action game. It’s made even better with the two player mode where you and a friend can really complement each other with Baka-dono’s close combat skills and Baka-ouji’s mastery of long distance warfare. Yes, there are bits of slowdown here and there; sometimes there’s just too much going on at once but nothing too crippling. If you’re like me, you’ll be too busy anyway laughing and shaking your head at all the on-screen silliness rather than denouncing the game for its semi-periodic slowdown. The game hovers on the easy side with plenty of lives and continues. It’s definitely not as hard (or frustrating) as the two Pocky & Rocky SNES games. Sometimes you just want to play a fun game and not have to worry about it being overly difficult. This game fits that bill.

If ya thought Pocky & Rocky was bizarre, try this one!
If only Rick Grimes and gang had Baka-dono, eh?

The game’s soundtrack fits nicely with themes appropriate to each unique world. I really liked the sound effects, too. They add to the game’s charm, of which it has plenty. The graphics are the weakest part of the game; they’re not quite up to early 1995 SNES standards. Still, the game has plenty of cool looking enemies for you to slay along the way. What draws you in though is the game’s personality and its insanely self-deprecating lunacy. And that is also exactly what will bring you back again and again. It never set out to be the best action game on your Super Nintendo, but it succeeds at being ridiculously quirky and mega weird. I mean, where else can you kill hopping vampires, astronauts on Mars, giant bamboo-eating panda bears, rotting zombies, aliens, ninjas, knights and Bruce Lee wannabes while transforming into a large steroid-injected muscle maniac who just happens to be the spirit of your deceased father? There’s only one, folks, and its name is Deae Tonosama Appare Ichiban. It’s not as good as Pocky & Rocky, but it’s a uniquely solid game that true diehard SNES fans will want to play with a like-minded friend in tow.

It leaves an imprint with its odd locales and enemies
It leaves an imprint with its odd locales and enemies!

BS Zelda (SNES)

The classic NES game gets a "super" makeover
The classic NES game gets a “super” makeover

The Legend of Zelda is one of the most iconic games in Nintendo history, hell, make that video game history. The NES classic provided countless memories for many of us who grew up in the glorious ’80s. I’ll admit I appreciate the game for what it is, but it’s never been one of my top favorites. Link to the Past, however, is another story entirely. But you got to respect the first one. When I found out several years ago that the original game was “souped up” for the Super Nintendo, I knew I had to get my hands on a copy. It was released as a downloadable game in the late ’90s only via Japan’s Satellaview service.

The first thing you will notice immediately is the enhanced graphics. While I feel they’re not quite on the “enhanced” level as Super Mario All-Stars, I have to say this will do. To me they strike a healthy balance between 8-bit and 16-bit. 12-bit, if you will. Hey, at least the graphics were enhanced more than what we got with Ninja Gaiden Trilogy!

NES original
NES original
BS Zelda

Pretty cool to see the original world in 16-bit visuals, no? It definitely strikes the eye as simple and pleasing. The colors are much richer (naturally) and the whole world seems to come alive that much more. Here’s one more example:

NES original
NES original
BS Zelda
BS Zelda

Diehard purists may scoff, but I welcome these changes with open arms. The Legend of Zelda never looked so good before!

But enough of the visuals. How does the game play? Pretty much the same classic Zelda you know and love. You can collect more Rupees here, the overworld is altered and the maps are different. But the same weapons and items are there, and the quest remains the same: kill Ganon, restore peace to Hyrule, collect the Triforce pieces and save Princess Zelda. Weapons can now be conveniently switched with a tap of the shoulder buttons L or R. Nice.

Bombs may reveal hidden rooms
Bombs may reveal hidden rooms
Ah, the classic sword scene with the old wise man
Ah, the classic sword scene with the old wise man
The classic overworld never looked better
The classic overworld never looked better
Vintage 8-bit gameplay in a sleek 16-bit package
Vintage 8-bit gameplay in a sleek 16-bit package
Gotta catch 'em all!
Gotta catch ‘em all!
Battle monsters using your brawn and brains
Battle monsters using your brawn and brains
The dungeon music is creepier than the original
The dungeon music is creepier than the original
Gotta love that classic dungeon gameplay
Gotta love that classic dungeon gameplay
It's a 3-for-1 special on aisle 4!
It’s a 3-for-1 special on aisle 4!
Use special weapons to aid your quest
Use special weapons to aid your quest
Think this is bad? Later on you'll face TWO of 'em
Think this is bad? Later on you’ll face TWO of ‘em
Some items aren't weapons but are still much needed
Some items aren’t weapons but are still much needed
Good luck, Link...
Good luck, Link…


An epic final battle for an epic first game
An epic final battle for an epic first game

Although I’m not the biggest fan of The Legend of Zelda, I enjoyed playing this one very much so. The visual upgrade is very pleasing to the eye, the music is as memorable as it was in the original (I find the dungeon music in BS Zelda to be much creepier) and the game plays like classic, vintage Zelda. I wouldn’t play this over Link to the Past, but as far as “remakes” go, this one ranks up there. It makes me wish there was a BS Metroid, BS Kid Icarus, BS Rygar, BS Contra, BS Mega Man 2 and the list goes on and on. But hey, at least we got BS Zelda. It’s definitely worth a playthrough. I can’t guarantee you’ll like it more than the original, but you’ll probably get a good kick out of seeing familiar sights in 16-bit glory.

Graphics: 8
Sound: 9.5
Gameplay: 9
Longevity: 8

Overall: 9.0

Gold Award


Pro Yakyuu Star (SFC)

Culture Brain's 6th and finest baseball game
Culture Brain exits with a HR

Remember the Baseball Simulator games? The first one appeared on the 8-bit Nintendo and was developed by Culture Brain in the year 1989. Two years later, Super Baseball Simulator 1.000 was released on the Super Nintendo. It’s had something of a quasi-cult following ever since. It was a baseball game, sure, but it incorporated “magic tricks” to make the game a little spicier than your average baseball title. Pro Yakyuu Star is the sixth and final Culture Brain SNES baseball game, and I dare say it’s the finest one of the (sand)lot. Let’s take a quick history lesson though before we take a closer look at Culture Brain’s baseball swan song.

BASEBALL SIMULATOR 1.000 (Nintendo, 1989)







Every franchise has to start somewhere. This is it. Don’t recall playing this myself (I was more into Baseball Stars 2, Base Wars and Bad News Baseball) but I recall a few friends who were fans of this game back in the day.

SUPER BASEBALL SIMULATOR 1.000 (Super Nintendo, 1991)







Arriving during the infancy of the Super Nintendo, this developed something of a semi-cult following. It was baseball spruced up with gimmicks like magic trick pitches and the like. It brought a little extra spice to the standard baseball simulations that flooded the market at the time, so it deserves props at the very least for being different.








Culture Brain launched a new baseball series with this game, which only came out for the Super Famicom. Think of it as Super Baseball Simulator 1.000 but with real Japanese ball players and improved visuals. It retains all the crazy Ultra Plays.

SUPER ULTRA BASEBALL 2 (Super Famicom, 1994)







Super Ultra Baseball 2 is the sequel to Super Baseball Simulator 1.000. Released three years later, this is most evident by its beefed up visuals. Never thought I’d say a baseball game looks pretty but this one sure does. All your favorite Ultra Plays are back. Some Japanese to navigate through but definitely a worthy sequel.








Culture Brain didn’t wait even five months after Super Ultra Baseball 2 (July 28, 1994) to release Ultra Baseball Jitsumeiban 2 (December 22, 1994). I really like the super deformed route they took here. There is something charming about an old school 16-bit title featuring slightly deformed ball players. Also, Ultra Plays are still here. The best of the Jitsumeiban series.








Culture Brain released their fifth game in the SNES series, Ultra Baseball Jitsumeiban 3, on October 27, 1995. As you will see, it features the visuals that Culture Brain would go on to use in Pro Yakyuu Star.

PRO YAKYUU STAR (Super Famicom, 1997)







Culture Brain took an entire year off to work on this game (no baseball titles released in 1996) and the effort shows. Although the Ultra Plays are gone, I like the feel of this game a lot. And hey, you’ll always have the five other games if you’re adamant on using Ultra Plays.

*GASP* Players can actually throw!
*gasp* Players can actually throw

One of my pet peeves with these vintage baseball games is that more times than not, outfielders can’t throw for jack squat. The ball ends up rolling to second base or bouncing several times to home plate. It completely ruins the fun of the game but thankfully in Pro Yakyuu Star these professional baseball players are actually, you know, well trained pros! Imagine that!







Speaking of being pros, I also like the numerous nice defensive stops you can do. Take for instance this diving catch in which the defender ends up rolling around for a bit. It’s a small detail but points to the level of craftsmanship Culture Brain was able to achieve after five previous SNES baseball outings.







Couple more defensive gems.







Whatever you do, don’t let the ball roll to the gap. D’OH!

Wow, that wasn't even close
You only missed it by… 15 feet!

I would normally say “good job, good effort” but COME ON, MAN! You’re killing me out there. Tsk tsk…







Other than a home run, one of my favorite sights in a baseball game is seeing the ball smacked all the way to the outfield wall. And then rounding the bases as madly as I can while watching the defenders give chase. Good stuff.







Speaking of satisfying, how about a good old bloop single or double down the left or right field line, just barely inside the foul line? It’s a great feeling to see that white baseball find a vacant spot on that beautiful grassy outfield, just outside a defender’s reach.







Sliding home safely just before the tag is the best.







Swiping second base feels so good. Some baseball games don’t let you steal. Either your runner is too slow or the catcher’s arm is too strong. Culture Brain seems to have struck a fair balance here. The running game comes into play a bit more here than in other 16-bit baseball games. Hell, a fast runner can even swipe third base, which was near impossible for most games from that era.







Rickey Henderson would be proud. After stealing second, I’m off stealing third. NO MERCY! Gotta love the cloud of dirt and dust that gets kicked up as you slide in for the steal.







Those are some of the angriest fans I’ve ever seen!







Attention to detail is on point. Look at the batter digging his cleats into the soft dirt. In the other shot we see the anguish of a batter who just struck out. Somewhere Patrick Stewart is smiling.

*CRACK* "!"
*CRACK* followed by “!”

Speaking of attention to detail, I love how the pitcher sometimes will react with an exclamation mark if the ball is hit particularly hard. It doesn’t always result in a home run or even a hit, but just like in real life sometimes you hear the crack of the bat and you go uh oh.


Take me out to the ball game...
Give it your best shot, pal

Although I like Super Ultra Baseball 2 and Ultra Baseball Jitsumeiban 2 a lot, Pro Yakyuu Star probably does play the best of the (sand)lot. However, it’s missing the wacky Ultra Plays and when it comes down to it, the gap in sheer playability is not wide enough for me to prefer playing those games instead. This was Culture Brain’s final baseball game. They were planning to release Shin Choujin Ultra Baseball and Choujin Ultra Baseball for the Game Boy Advance but that was cancelled.

Super Ultra Baseball 2
Super Ultra Baseball 2

Also of worthy note is that they chose to make Pro Yakyuu Star its own stand alone entity rather than Super Ultra Baseball 3 or Ultra Baseball Jitsumeiban 4. It’s kind of neat to see how the Baseball Simulator series started and ended here more or less. These quirky baseball games deserve a little more recognition. I hope this gives you a few new intriguing oddities to try out for yourself.

Ultra Baseball Jitsumeiban 2
Ultra Baseball Jitsumeiban 2

Gundam Wing: Endless Duel (SFC)

Quite possibly the BEST Super Famicom fighting game
Quite possibly the BEST Super Famicom fighting game

Gundam Wing. It’s a famous anime from the Land of the Rising Sun but quite frankly, it was never one of my “things.” You know, growing up my things were Godzilla, WWF, scary movies and Super Nintendo just to name a few. Never got into Gundam Wing. My only memory of it was buying a toy of one of the super deformed version in the mid ’90s rather randomly at this Japanese hobby shop. I say that to say… I would love this game even more if I had a genuine connection with the Gundam brand. And I already like this game a lot. It’s probably the finest Super Famicom exclusive fighting game ever made. So if you love fighting games and Gundam, then this is a match made in Heaven. Let’s take a closer look.







The game opens up with this rather nice cinematic intro. It is very Street Fighter Alpha 2-esque in its execution and style.







You can spot the similarities, right? I almost expect Sagat to come bursting through any second now!







It gets you pumped up to fire giant laser beams and the like.

Select from one of nine fighters
Select from one of nine fighters

Each fighter has his or her own strengths and weaknesses. For example, some are more agile than others. Others are a bit stronger, and so forth. Before we look at the fighters a bit more closely, let’s review some of the core principles of the game.

Ooh, shots fired! Literally
Ooh, shots fired! Literally

When you’re standing more than halfway across the screen from your foe, you can press a button to automatically fire your vulcan shot. This sends forth a series of bullets that don’t do a tremendous amount of damage, but enough to sway the tide of the battle your way. It’s good for a quick long distance attack. But see that 300 bar up there? Each time you perform a big special, it loses some points. Bigger moves drain more points. To fill it back up, you have to attack with your normal moves. This means you have to strategize — you can’t just go in there with guns a’blazing.

Super specials eat up a lot of points
Super specials come at a cost

Each fighter has a super special (double Hadoken motion plus attack). This can be performed at any time in the match provided you have enough points. This is pretty cool since it means you don’t have to wait for your energy bar to be down to 25%. I guess it’s a variation on the old super move meter but somehow it feels slightly different even though in practice it really isn’t.

No rest for the weary!
No rest for the weary!

One of the neat things about this game is the ability to damage your foe even while he or she is on the ground. This also creates new opportunities for combos that aren’t present in other SNES fighting games. There is a slight juggle system at work here, and you can even block in mid-air in addition to dashing forward or backwards. Seeing as how this was released on March 29, 1996, Endless Duel benefits from some of the more modern fighting game tropes.

The not-so-friendly skies
The not-so-friendly skies

All fighters can also double jump or even TRIPLE JUMP. Being giant flying mechs you figured that this game would somehow bring that into play somewhat. And these features definitely do the trick.

Love the versus screens
Love the versus screens







That’s what you get for ripping off the great name of SHENG LONG!







I love Wing’s Dragon Punch variant. It gives you a chance to string together multiple strikes as he savagely swipes down at his opponent mid-air. Nice!








Heavy Arms lives up to its name. It’s got a whole lot of fire power backing it.







Wing proceeds to show Heavy Arms the finger. Then Wing backs up the trash talking with a CLUTCH victory that is far too close for comfort.


Neat little stage
Neat little stage








Sandrock’s stage is absolutely gorgeous, with that blazing sun popping up over the horizon. I love taking to the air with a double or triple jump to show off the sun in all its burning glory.







Wing’s blast rivals that of the sun’s power. Doesn’t look too good for ol’ Sandrock here…








Sandrock’s beautiful stage is second only to this, which shows off the captivating Northern Lights.







Wing polishes off an amazing 9-hit combo with his super special blast. I love how the colors of the beam and the Northern Lights in both pictures magically match!







Tallgeese (who is unsurprisingly the tallest mech in the game) puts up a good effort, hitting me with his devastating super special move even, but in the end he’s no match for Wing. Mechs flash orange during the final blow. Nice touch.








Mercurius has some nifty special moves, and proves to be a formidable foe.







Well GOT DAMN!  [It’s actually Gundam… -Ed.]








You do know that I am PURPOSELY letting the computer pound on me so that I can capture their special moves, r-right? [Yeah, uh huh, sure thing… -Ed.]







Yup, I really had to hold back from opening a can of whup ass on his, er, ass. [Right, of course… -Ed.]








Whew, another tight battle goes down to the wire. The vulcan shot comes in handy when you need a little push to get you over the edge and nab that W.








And you thought SNK bosses were cheap! Epyon is cut out of a similar cloth. He’s got high priority strikes and easy combos that will turn you into a crying meme.







Please, make it stop. I may or may not be in the fetal position right now. I can neither confirm nor deny.

Gotta love the HUGE text
Gotta love the HUGE text







WHO’S YER DADDY NOW, BITCH!? [Did you tell the readers how many save states and retries you had to go through? -Ed.]. Uhhh, well would you look at the time! It’s a wrap!


Well done, Natsume. Well done
Well done, Natsume. Well done

Mobile Suit Gundam Wing: Endless Duel, or Shin Kidō Senki Gundam Wing: Endless Duel (to give it its full proper Japanese title), is an impressive fighting game for the Super Famicom. The anime ran for 49 episodes — it aired on April 7, 1995 and its final episode aired on March 29, 1996. Fascinatingly enough, the same day it went off the air was when Bandai released the Natsume developed fighting game. It must have been a bittersweet day for hardcore Gundam fans. Their favorite anime ended but they received this little treasure to enjoy.


Endless Duel is a sophisticated “modern day” fighting game. It feels like a “versus” fighter in a very elementary sense. From the little details such as the humongous screen text to the combos and double jumps, it feels like you’re playing a beta version of the first wave of Capcom’s “versus” fighting games. It’s impressive to see such a clash of titans on the Super Nintendo running as smoothly as it does. But that explains why there is ZERO speech samples in this game. They had to save the memory to devote it to the frames of animation. So you won’t hear any announcers screaming “ROUND ONE, FIGHT!” or even the fighters themselves talking trash. It’s just the music and sound effects of steel connecting on steel. It’s not a big enough issue to harp on, but once I noticed it, I felt like something was off, or missing. But you do get used to it, and it was for a good cause: the game looks incredible and moves so fluidly it has to be seen to be believed. It makes me wonder what a port of Darkstalkers or X-Men: Children of the Atom would have looked like on the SNES.


So ask yourself these three questions:

1. Do you like playing the Super Nintendo?

2. Do you like fighting games?

3. Do you like Gundam?

If you answered yes to at least two of those questions, you’ll really like this. And if you answered yes to all three, then you probably already own this game and mastered at least half the roster by now. At any rate, Mobile Suit Gundam Wing: Endless Duel is a fine fighting game, and quite possibly the best one to never hit SNES American shores.

Sutte Hakkun (SFC)

Quite possibly the last great SNES game released
Possibly the last great SNES game released

There are games you hear about and instantly know it’s right up your alley. But sometimes it seems too good to be true, and you find out the game was cancelled, never made available on physical cartridge or whatever. Sutte Hakkun was that to me — a game which I thought was an exclusive BS-X game (a type of Super Famicom downloading service in Japan). But then it achieved such positive word of mouth that Nintendo decided to release it on an actual Super Famicom cartridge on June 25, 1999. This is, quite possibly, the last great Super Nintendo game ever released.


I obtained my cartridge only copy through a mercenary I had living in Japan for $29 on October 11, 2006 (wow, 10 years fly by fast). Today cartridge only copies of Sutte Hakkun go for over $100 (which as ridiculous as that sounds is actually kind of surprisingly low considering how much some of these scarce highly sought after titles can fetch).

If you ever wanted a game based on this, here ya go!
If you ever wanted a game based on this, here ya go!

Sutte Hakkun is a platform-puzzler. Taking command of a translucent creature resembling a dipping bird, your goal is to reach the rainbow orb(s) in each level. It sounds simple but of course, as you can predict, the later levels get quite tough.

Some levels have two orbs
Some levels have multiple orbs
Suck and blow. Shush you
Suck and blow. Shush you

The buttons are very simple. B jumps and pecks. By pecking, you can absorb helpers (i.e. blocks) and move them to new positions to help you reach the exit. There are also jars which contain red, yellow or blue paint. By pecking, you can suck the color out of a jar and transfer the paint to blocks, causing the block to move in a set pattern, depending on the color you’ve injected. Red goes up and down, yellow diagonally and blue horizontally. Of course they don’t travel the full length of the screen — there would be zero strategy if that were the case. Rather, the blocks travel a short distance back and forth.


Absorb colors through your beak
Absorb colors through your beak
Reposition blocks (only after you absorb 'em)
This allows you to move a block
Red blocks travel up and down
You suck like a champ don’t cha

Sutte Hakkun translates to “Suck and Blow.” [We’re all mature enough here right? -Ed.]  And that’s exactly what you’ll be doing a lot of. In this game, I mean. At least in this game. [Oi -Ed.]. You’ll spend a lot of time sucking paint and transferring them into the transparent blocks.

Of course you can freeze a block’s movement by sucking the paint out of them, and it’s by this method that allows you to change a block’s height to better suit your goal.


Red causes that block to move vertically
Red makes blocks move vertically
Jump on, then jump off
Jump on, then jump off
Suck out the red and then put it back in
Suck it out, then put it back in
Reach new heights
Reach new heights

That block now travels higher based on where you’ve injected it. Nice!

You can now access the orb
You can now access the orb

As you can see, this is a rather unique puzzle action game. It’s quite creative and brilliant. You just can’t help but love it. Major props to Nintendo for breathing new life into a genre that has way too many similar games.

The beauty is there are multiple ways to solve a level. The method seen above is just one, but I’ve completed level 1 and some of the others in different ways. It’s really awesome to see how many different solutions there are but they all get you to your end goal — the next level.

Dump a color by pressing down
Dump a color by pressing down

And should you want to harmlessly dump a color for whatever reason, simply press down on the control pad.


Hop on
Hop on
Suck it, then put it back in
Suck it, then put it back in
Hop on the "new and improved" block
Hop on again
One down, one to go
One down, one to go







There are many stages, with 10 levels in each stage. The further you advance the crazier they get. Trust me, the later ones are INSANE. Just be grateful there’s no time limit!







This coming from Nintendo and all, Sutte Hakkun is filled with nice little details. Look no further than the stone that goes from a smile to a frown the moment you hop on its head. It’s these little touches that just make you grin and appreciate the great effort from the fine folks over at Nintendo.

Scope out the lay of the land
Scope out the lay of the land

Press R to scan the level — later stages have a bigger layout so this comes in handy. Sometimes it helps knowing what lays ahead.


Another awesome SNES gem
Another awesome SNES gem

A fine action puzzler that will last ages on account of the later stages being damn tough. I dare call it a must-have for every SNES owner who enjoys staring contemplatively at the screen until inspiration breaks through with the resolute “A-HA!” The last great Super Nintendo game ever released, Sutte Hakkun is a piece of history and a true piece of video gaming art. The Super Famicom received so many fantastic games that never saw the light of day here in America. Sutte Hakkun is another shining example of such. It’s a mind bender in every sense of the word, and puzzle fans are sure to eat this one up.

Puzzle’n Desu! (SFC)

One of the best Super Famicom games hardly anyone ever talks about
One of the best Super Famicom games hardly anyone ever talks about

You know, there are a lot of “hidden gems” on the Super Nintendo. Many are no longer “obscure” because they’ve received their just due and praise over the course of the past decade or so. But there remains a few titles that I still see don’t get the kind of recognition that they so richly deserve. Puzzle’n Desu! is one such game. It’s truly one of the best games on the system that you might have yet to play, or even heard of before. There’s a reason why the box says “Ultimate Cool Puzzle Game.” Hey, them some bold words. But if any puzzle game can live up to such a high title, it’s this one.







Hell of a brain teaser, this one. You move the little guy on the left around a giant square arena, trying to match all the like colors. You can only push one block at a time, and it’ll travel until it’s stopped by a wall or block.

Three like colors, minimum, are required to make a successful match. Sometimes there are four instead of three, so you must connect all four. Match only three in this instance and you’ll fail (as there would be one block remaining).

Let’s take a look at the first few stages.



If you can’t figure out how to solve this first level…








I like the way the blocks disappear. The little visual effect is always a welcomed sight. Hey, it’s the small stuff, right?


The blue blocks are a cinch as you can see… but the pink ones… what to do…

Set them up as such
Set them up as such







There you go, now this pink formation is ripe for the pickings. Can you solve the rest? As you can imagine, the later puzzles become murderous.

Interestingly enough, this mode can be played with up to three friends. I believe this is the only Super Nintendo action puzzle game that allows you to do such a thing. Very cool stuff!


An ace 4-player battle mode is included! Much more than a mere afterthought, this can rival Bomberman believe it or not! The goal is simple. Squish your opponent(s) via block pushing. The winner is the sole survivor. And for good measure, you get 10 different stage designs, whose block placement is randomly generated, enabling countless variants! (similar to the map system of the beloved WORMS franchise).

B = push

A = moves a block around you

Note the “A” command is only valid in the battle mode, for obvious reasons. Also, even in this mode blocks will disappear when accidentally or purposely matched. Awesome continuity.

Here are the 10 battle zones:



It’s your typical no-frills, no gimmicks first basic stage.



Blue blocks with the % marks are immovable.



The ice blocks dissipate when pushed against a wall or block. I like this stage.



The arrows determine the path of destruction. It’s very Super Bomberman-esque.



Those arrows affect block AND player movement — nice!



The arrow blocks here can only be pushed in the direction they’re pointing. The numbered blocks travel their respective number (i.e. 3 spaces). Very interesting, and rather different!



Teleporters! Bomberman is rolling over in his grave ;)


Great gimmick here. Arrows guide block movement. Easy to kill yourself if you don’t watch it. When walking on arrows, they act like butter, sliding you in their set direction.


The blocks here can be pushed despite touching each other. They fly across and through the screen disappearing whether they’ve crushed someone or not. Arguably the most chaotic stage due to its potential of numerous blocks zooming by at break-neck speed in all directions!



A veritable smorgasbord of the other battle arenas. Good stuff.


Unfortunately, this mode is restricted to human players. Why they didn’t allow computer opponents is a mystery. But it’s better than nothing. Like Bomberman, 2 to 4 can play, with the win total required for a stage adjustable from 1 through 10.

To cap things off, a create-your-own-stage option is available.


Puzzle'n Desu! is an awesome little game
Puzzle’n Desu! is too sweet

I love this game. The ability for a 4 player mode in the regular game and a Bomberman-esque 4 player “free for all” mode really makes this game stand out from the crowd. These games possess a purity I can’t help but love. They’re simply brilliant and brilliantly simple (yet complex). If you love pitting your logic skills to the test, and especially if you have gaming buds, hunt this gem down. From what I understand though, it’s rather scarce.

It’s not perfect, though. I am not a big fan of the timer. I feel like these action puzzle games benefit greatly when you’re able to take your sweet time and start contemplatively at the screen until inspiration strikes with the resolute “AH-HA!” Also didn’t like the fact that the 4-player battle mode is exclusive to humans only. I mean, it would be lovely to be able to play this mode on a lazy Tuesday night when it’s just you and your Super Nintendo. But at the end of the day, at least the mode is there as an option.

All in all, Puzzle’n Desu! truly rocks. And deserves a little more recognition in the retro gaming community. Highly recommended!

Dossun! Ganseki Battle (SFC)

Before there was Puzzle Fighter...
Before Puzzle Fighter

Dossun! Ganseki Battle is an awesome puzzle game. It feels like sort of a beta version of Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo. Not as good but for its time it was a damn fine puzzler. Let’s take a closer look.







The game intro reveals a demon trying to conquer the land (supposedly). Jeez, don’t these demons have anything better to do? At any rate, there isn’t much Japanese but interestingly enough there is a fan translated version floating out there. Not that you need it but it’s there if you want the full English experience.

This game has a unique battle system. Two ways to claim victory:

  • The opposing player’s well fills up
  • Their energy bar hits rock bottom

Energy bar? In a puzzler? Say whaaaa??







Like Puzzle Fighter, the attacker sends over a spiffy, er, attack.

Eliminating 3 or more like pieces have varying results:

  • Green Rocks: Sends forth a dragon (see above)
  • Red Scrolls: Fireballs
  • Yellow Swords: Piercing swords
  • Blue Potion: Replenishes your health slightly (if needed)
  • Purple Squares: No effect whatsoever


Select from 3 heroes
Select from 3 heroes
Battle the numerous evil doers
Battle the numerous evil doers
The loser is paid a visit from ol' Grimsy
The loser meets ol’ Grimsy


Everyone is up for grabs
Every character is playable


I like this cool effect (see the purple)
I like this cool effect

Most puzzle games have a special piece or power. Dossun is no different. When you have a special pellet stored, pressing R clears every purple square. Although the graphics could easily be confused for an early Mega Drive title, this visual effect is somewhat noteworthy.


Like fighting games, special moves are a good way to inflict damage but the best players utilizes devastating combos. The same applies here. While clearing 3 pieces at a time is fine and dandy, pulling off 3-plus chain reactions is the meal ticket. Diagonal matches yield the best results if you set yourself proper.


Observe this lethal chain. The green rocks match diagonally and disappear.


The yellow sword drops, connecting with 2 other swords.


The swords’ elimination drops the red scroll… forming a crushing 5-PIECE horizontal and diagonal red match to end the 3 hit chain.


After completing a big combo, the character enlarges and performs a fancy attack.





Major attacks result in leaving the opposition hanging.

[By a moment! Desperate for changing, chasing after you… ahem, sorry -Ed.]


There’s only one music theme throughout the entire game, and it can get tedious. When someone’s energy bar flashes, the music breaks into a frenzy, sounding much better and adding nicely to the tension. But the regular music is a bit “meh.”


"It was ICE knowing ya!"
“It was ICE knowing ya!”

It’s essentially COLUMNS with a medieval fantasy battle theme. Dossun! Ganseki Battle really grew on me; I found myself saying “one more game” several times. It’s amazingly addicting. Sure the graphics and music are nothing to write home about but the gameplay is largely enjoyable and that’s what it’s all about. Definitely one of the finer puzzle games you could play on the Super Nintendo and one that should be in your collection if you like the genre even an iota.

Sweet game!

Clock Tower (SNES)

A night when evil roamed the streets...
“A night when pure EVIL roamed the streets…”

Halloween is almost here. It’s one of my favorite days of the year. And this game is perfect to play on Halloween night. In the late ’90s I bought Clock Tower for the PlayStation and played it to death (pardon the pun). It was a few years later that I discovered the first Clock Tower originated on the Super Famicom. Thanks to the efforts of some diehard SNES fanatics, the game has long since been translated into English for the rest of us to enjoy. And enjoy it we did. One of the true Halloween staples in any video gaming collection, Clock Tower delivers one creepy and tense adventure the likes of which few SNES games can claim!

The legend is born
The legend is born

Clock Tower combined two things I absolutely love. It resembles a horror movie — I like its creepy villain, SCISSORMAN, almost as much as Michael Myers — and it’s on my favorite system of all time, the Super Nintendo. What more could I ask for, right? Unfortunately, the game never received a North American release. By the time it came out in Japan on September 14, 1995, the SNES was quickly losing steam as the 32-bit machines gained more and more momentum. That and, of course, there was no chance (even with the Play It Loud! movement) that Clock Tower was going to get approved by Nintendo of America! What a shame it never saw American soil because this is one of the most unique and original efforts on the Super Nintendo. But thanks to the fan translation scene, we can now experience this macabre game in all its gory glory.

Here comes the boogeyman...
Here comes the boogeyman…

Anyone who knows me knows how much I love the HALLOWEEN series. Uncle Jimmy let me rent the first one back in 1989. I spent more than half the movie hiding behind the sofa with one hand covering my eyes. I even had a nightmare of Halloween‘s iconic madman, Michael Myers, later that night. And I was hooked. Go figure. I dreamt about someone turning the Halloween concept into a video game. I mean, how awesome would it be to take control of a protagonist who is constantly being chased by a masked maniac? That every room you enter he could be lurking in the shadows… watching and studying your every move… waiting for the right moment to jump out and slit your throat wide open. Clock Tower delivers that sense of dread and drama in spades!

What a thing of beauty
What a thing of beauty




This was my favorite PlayStation game
This was my favorite PlayStation game

My first exposure to Clock Tower was in 1997. I’ll never forget it. From the moment I read its splendid three page ad in EGM #97 (August ’97), I was hooked. Seriously the best advertisement ever. I knew I had to buy the game then, and it was the only PlayStation game I ever cared enough to buy! The ad is so awesome that I am going to replicate parts of it below.



A bright plume of warm crimson rain erupted as the giant scissors rent the flesh of his next victim… this is certainly not the game for the timid or weak of stomach! From corpses at your bedroom door to half eaten bodies in the restroom, ASCII has packed Clock Tower to the belfry with some of the most gruesome and spectacular graphics of the year! Watch in horror as the limping gait of the immortal Scissorman approaches your present hiding place — only to see the bright fountain of your own blood if he happens to find you! Any horror fan will quickly recognize the brilliance of the programmer’s virtuoso performance in the lighting, shadowing, angles, and sheer volume of gruesome content! Lots of animation and full 3D polygons were used to bring the bloody, murderous surroundings to life. This, in conjunction with the well detailed backgrounds and characters, will have you at the edge of your seat — praying that you make it through the night!


The chilling sound of the banshee’s scream itself couldn’t have been more dreadful than the sound of the sheering scrape of sharpened steel blades sliding past each other — not to mention the wonderful effect of pure silence in some of the most chillingly tense scenes of the game. There’s something terribly dreadful in the sound of your own two feet echoing through some of the most profoundly evil halls ever wrought, and I couldn’t agree more with the programmers when they spoke of theTerror of Sound” which they labored for in this game! ASCII’s purpose in the sound scheme of this game is fairly easy to understand… with sounds that aren’t there when they should be, sounds in impossible places, the chilling music of the chase, and the haunting scrape of the Scissorman himself as he stalks you with inhuman determination… they want to scare you out of your skin!

Of course, the voice-overs and sound effects of the surrounding environments are a beautiful addition to the already impressive audio display. The tightly knit unison of background noise, voices, sound of movement, music and silence create a living auditory atmosphere that will draw you into the world of terror on the screen right before you.


Talk about losing your head...
Talk about losing your head…

In a game where one false move could easily mean the difference between escape and grisly death, control is of paramount importance. This is another area where Clock Tower excels! From fleeing down dark corridors and hiding in shower stalls, to hurling chairs and brawling with your would be assailant, the full range of movement offered by Clock Tower will leave you breathless with the fight or flight instinct. For those who like to hide, just try to avoid hiding in the same spot too many times in a row. Scissorman has a limited IQ, but he’s not that stupid!

Also remember to check every nook and cranny for items that you may be able to use later. With a little help, you might just live to see the light of tomorrow.

Next time use a napkin, will ya?
Next time use a napkin, will ya?

A series of brutal murders have signaled the return of one of the most terrifying killers in the history of Romsdaaren, Norway — Scissorman! Terror gripped the hearts of the mixed party of ten as they finally reached the unholy walls of the Barrow’s family mansion in England. No one could have imagined the unspeakable horrors that lay behind the infamous Scissorman case when the malevolent butcherings had begun. Now, the dreadful search for the answers had culminated into a lynching party that brought them all here, to the very doorstep of Hell itself. Would they finally find the key to send this twisted soul back to the nether regions of death that had so maliciously spat him into their lives? Only time will tell…

EGM gave it scores of 8.5, 8.0, 8.0 and 6.0 in ish #98
EGM gave it scores of 8.5, 8.0, 8.0 and 6.0 in issue #98
Supercuts: Employee of the Month
Supercuts’ Employee of the Month

I have such great and fond memories with this game. As I said it was the only PlayStation game I ever bothered to buy. For a while there in ’98 it was all that I played. I used it to scare the living daylights out of my then 10 year old cousin, David. Uncle Jimmy, the one who rented Halloween for me back in ’89, used to visit us a lot back in the late ’90s. David would always come to watch me play this, only to run out screaming whenever Scissorman gave chase. Ahhh, the good old days eh? ;) So when I found out Clock Tower originated on the SNES, I simply had to get my hands on it.



For some reason that sentence gives me the creeps
For some reason that sentence gives me the creeps
"Oh Lotte, cant I admire the trees for a bitI?"
“Oh Lotte, can’t I admire the trees for a bloody bit?”
"Would I ever lie to you, Jennifer?"
“Would I ever lie to you, Jennifer?”

Reminds me of a witch. Heebie jeebies...clocktintro7-c






There’s something about the way her finger is pointing that inexplicably gives me the heebie jeebies. Ms. Mary definitely has the low key witch vibe about her…

And surprise surprise, one by one they perish
And surprise surprise — one by one they perish
This game mastered the art of creating tension
This game mastered the art of creating tension
Your mom had 9 months and she chose Lotte?!
Your mom had 9 months and she chose Lotte?!
Clock Tower excels at building up the suspense
Clock Tower excels at building up the suspense
Yup... shit just hit the fan
Yup… shit just hit the fan
Use the cursor to check every inch of every room
Use the cursor to check every inch of every room
What a demonic looking tree. Reminds me of Doom's trees
What a demonic looking tree. Reminds me of Doom
You might wanna think about saving yourself!
You might wanna think about saving yourself!
And a (terrifying) legend is born ^_^
And a terrifying video game icon is born ^_^
Sometimes you can't help but feel you're being watched...
Sometimes ya can’t help but feel yer being watched
I mean, what's the worst that could happen, right?
I mean, what’s the worst that could happen, right?
The repeating "I'll get chu!" voice-over is pretty creepy
The repeating “I’ll get chu!” voice-over is pretty creepy
I hope PETA isn't reading this
I hope PETA isn’t reading this
These dreadful moments always bring me to the edge of my seat
These tense bits bring me to the edge of my seat
Well said, Ron Simmons. Well said
Well said, Ron Simmons. Well said
"... DAMN!" -Ron Simmons
“… DAMN!” -Ron Simmons
So fun playing this at 2 AM in the dark...
Who knew a 16-bit game could be so scary?
This is SO Jamie Lee Curtis-Michael Myers circa 1978!
This is SO Jamie Lee Curtis-Michael Myers circa 1978
Surely it will be a safe haven up there, no?
Surely it will be a safe haven up there, no?
Aw poor Jennifer. She's pretty much screwed here
Aw poor Jennifer. She’s pretty much screwed here
If you're already in the red zone, you're in the dead zone
In the red zone? Then you’re in the dead zone
 Then again, neither does hiding. Sometimes even then he'll get ya
Then again, hiding doesn’t always guarantee results







“Puzzles” in Clock Tower are quite elementary [Good thing for you! Ha! -Ed.]

No Jennifer. That's just bird poop
No Jennifer. That’s just bird poop, my dear
I seen a scary film or two. Hit the lights!
I’ve seen a horror movie or two. Hit the lights!
Dang that's quite a big pocket you got there Jenny!
Dang that’s quite a big pocket you got there Jenny!
Looks like some kind of meat locker, but what's that inside?
Looks like a meat locker, but what’s that inside?
Scissorman isn't the only threat in this accursed mansion...
Scissorman isn’t the only threat in this mansion…
Hmmm, you'll need a special item to kill the bugs...
Hmmm, you’ll need a special item to kill the bugs…
Something shiny can be seen at the bottom...
Something shiny can be seen at the bottom…
Or is it simply part of a greater plan?
Or is it simply part of a greater plan?
Could be worse. They say man's the biggest monster of all...
Ah, young naive Jennifer, bless her heart
Ah, young naive Jennifer, bless her heart
Ms. Mary is a creepy old wretch in an effectively subtle way
She’s a creepy old wretch in an effectively subtle way
I knew something was wrong with that witch from the intro!
Girl don’t do it!
[OH NO YOU DIH-ENT!  *removes earrings*  -Shaniqua]
[OH NO YOU DIH-ENT! *removes earrings* -Shaniqua]
Yes Jennifer, take it AND SPLASH IT IN HER FACE!
Yes Jennifer, take it and SPLASH IT IN HER FACE!
[Uh, let's just return to the movie -Ed.]  [MMMM-HM -Shaniqua]
[Uh, back to our movie -Ed.]  [MMMM HMM -Shaniqua]
Ah Jenny. I sure hope you have a character arc like Laurie Strode did!
I hope Jen has a character arc like Laurie Strode did
Not two feet away from her sat a deranged and unkempt savage...
Not two feet away sits a deranged, unkempt savage
And could IT, whatever it is, be even WORSE than this guy?!
Whatever IT is, could it be even worse than this guy?!
One of the most cryptic messages in SNES history
One of the most cryptic messages in SNES history
I promise I'll never make fun of your name again!
I promise I’ll never make fun of your name again!
Lotte: Yeah, I saw a mad man limping around with HUGE shears!
I saw a mad man limping around with HUGE shears!
Laurie Strode, er, Jenny, has grown up before our very eyes *sniff*
Aw, Jenny has grown up before our very eyes *sniff*

What happens next? Find out on your own! What secrets are tucked away in this mansion of unspeakable horrors? What’s the deal with Scissorman? Is someone pulling the strings? Was it Ms. Mary, or something far more demonic? Will you survive the grisly night to see the light of day? CLOCK TOWER awaits! Turn off the lights, crank up the sound and say a prayer…


Quick! Get that shoulder outta sight, Jen! Here comes the Scissorman...
Quick, hide that shoulder before Scissorman comes!
Not Halloween theme epic, but does its job well
Not Halloween theme epic, but does its job well
No other SNES game offers this kind of tension
No other SNES game offers this kind of tension
Pray he doesn't find you
What a drama queen, that Scissorman


Normally this is where I’ll put the game’s scores according to the “Super Three” (EGM, GameFan and Super Play Magazine — if applicable). But with Clock Tower being a special fan translated repo, I’ll cite some fan comments instead. The following haunting stories come from various gamers who have encountered Scissorman’s wrath over the years…

  • Clock Tower creates an underlying wave of fear throughout the game’s course, and there are certain scenes in the game that may act as a proverbial moon to bring in this terrifying tide. Clock Tower doesn’t pull any punches, and the horrifyingly real atmosphere of the Barrows’ mansion had me paranoid for at least a week! In fact, one of my friends who I first played the game with noted that the scariest part of the game was that almost everything in it can easily be connected to real life. Compounding off this, my first playthrough of the game was at a small party I held for six or seven close friends, and with the exception of one (she’s oddly impervious to that sort of shock value), we were all scared out of our wits. Clock Tower is just cool that way  -Amai Yuuwaku
  • Gloomy and ominous, Clock Tower is a wonderful experience for any fan of interactive horror, and well worth playing through whether as a longtime fan of the series or a wide-eyed newcomer  -Tachibana Ukyo
  • After playing through it for only a meager half-hour, I know that I am never going back to it! I am a bit tense when it comes to Hitchcock movies, and I must say, this game has a lot of Hitchcock-esque horror elements. Clock Tower doesn’t make the game scary with blood and gore, no sir. It’s just the sounds and sudden happenings that cause you to psychologically snap (a lot like Hitchcock movies!)  -Alain Garamonde
  • Clock Tower: the story of hope, betrayal and survival. The game revolves around Jennifer and a couple of her friends who get adopted by a family. They get to the mansion in the woods in hopes of a new, happy life. All seem well, until the group gets split up. That’s when they start to meet Scissorman. Instead of a happy life, what they got was a heart-pounding adventure. Their test was a test of wit and resourcefulness against the wrath of Scissorman  -xTurksx
  • I’m never scared by any horror video games. Never ever. So my friend bet me $20 at my birthday party that I would be scared by this game. I took that bet and I definitely lost that bet. This game is absolutely scary  -Windscar18
  • I didn’t know what to expect when I tried this game out. I found myself in control of a teenage girl all alone in a huge mansion, so I figured I was meant to go exploring. I went walking down the nearby hall, passing a couple of doors when all of a sudden this creepy music starts playing! Just like in a horror movie! So of course, like a total imbecile, I explored the door I was in front of when it began to play. I found myself in a hazy bathroom, and looked at the various fixtures. The only thing the cursor responded to was the closed shower curtains. So again like an imbecile, I went to look. The tub was full, but the person in it was hanging from her wrists from the shower curtain’s bar. Apparently it was one of the girl’s friends, but I didn’t have long to think about that. Suddenly this figure jumped out of the bathtub, brandishing a huge pair of scissors! It was a blue-skinned dwarfish being in a schoolboy’s outfit, with a four-foot-pair of scissors. This was the beginning of my Clock Tower experience…  -The Manx
  • I hate this game. I can’t tell you how much I do. That may be misleading, but I hate this game in a I’m-too-scared-to-turn-it-on way, not the I-don’t-want-to-play way. I’ve played Clock Tower for PlayStation. Clock Tower for the SNES is 4 times as good. This game really messed with my mind, and it reminded me of Maniac Mansion in its control scheme, but that’s a good thing. The interface is easy to control and actually fun, as you run through rooms chased by the maniacal Scissorman, trying to find a place to hide, with his shears getting louder and louder as he dogs your steps, the clicking on objects getting more frantic as you realize he’s just one room behind you… and then SNAP! DEAD END!  -Nevergrace
  • I type this as I look out my door on Christmas Eve. He’s coming. I can hear it. It’s been about two whole days since I’ve played the game, but I am still rather leery  -Lord Flamingo


Grisly and grim, Clock Tower hits all the right notes
Grisly and grim, Clock Tower hits all the right notes

My fellow gamers above said it best. I echo many of their sentiments. Have you ever had one of those special gaming experiences you’ll never forget? Perhaps it was, in addition to the game itself, the weather, the season in your own life, or the place where it happened. Christmas 2010. I was sleeping over at my parents’ huge two story house, and that was the first time I went through Clock Tower from start to finish. Playing til 4:30 AM, every bloody sound that emanated from either the game or the house had me on the edge of my seat and peeking over my shoulder with much trepidation. It’s been a long time since I’ve been a little kid, but that night Scissorman sure made me feel like one. With multiple endings, a sinister masked maniac and a simple yet compelling story, the game draws you in like few others and then spits you out leaving you feeling exasperated, a bit uneasy, and completely satisfied.

The perfect SNES game to play on Halloween night
The perfect SNES game to play on Halloween night

Simply put, there is no other game quite like Clock Tower on the SNES. That alone makes it noteworthy. Throw in the fact how well it was executed and what you have here is one uniquely special game. Scissorman is easily one of the most memorable villains in SNES history. He waits in the shadows and pops out at the most (in)opportune moments. Grisly and horrifying deaths, high tension cat and mouse chase scenes, and not knowing for sure where Scissorman lurks makes Clock Tower great! The graphics are well done and give the game an ominous atmosphere. The sound will raise the hair up on the back of your neck. It’s not too long but the nine endings give incentive to replay. After that night at my parents’, I met up with my cousin David the following day. Yes, the same one I scared with PlayStation Clock Tower more than a decade ago. I told him how I spent much of last night playing the original Clock Tower on Super Nintendo and what an awesome experience that was, with the whipping rain outside, and I swear, just the mere mention of SCISSORMAN gave poor David a horrid flashback. Heck, I don’t blame him. Just saying Scissorman out loud gives me the heebie jeebies. Do what you gotta do to play this game and be sure to turn off the lights, lock your doors and pray for mercy!

Graphics: 8.5
Sound: 9
Gameplay: 8.5
Longevity: 7

Overall: 8.5

Double Silver Award
Double Silver Award





Imagine taking her home to mommy
Imagine taking her home to mommy

In 2007 a Japanese horror film was released based on a rumor that ran rampant throughout early 1980’s Japan — the Slit (or Severed) Mouth Woman! This horrible disfigured lady apparently roamed the streets of rural Japan looking for children to answer her one simple, deadly question: “AM I PRETTY?” The wrong response was met with grave consequences. Through comic books and magazines this became a popular urban myth. It became such a hysteria that ALL students were forbidden to go home alone and groups were formed for safety. There was even an incident where a lady chasing some kids was struck by a car. Her mouth was revealed to have been slit from ear to ear! Was it the Slit Mouth Woman?

Them eyes creep the hell out of me
Them eyes creep the hell out of me

This mysterious and deranged woman wore a surgical mask to cover her scar. In addition, she wielded a giant pair of scissors similar to Scissorman. Was Clock Tower influenced in any way by the Slit Mouthed Woman urban legend of 1980’s Japan? We don’t know for sure, but I can tell you this, the 2007 movie is creepy as hell! I saw it with my cousins (again, poor David) and they could barely finish it! As most Japanese horror films tend to be, and much like Clock Tower the game itself, the movie is something of a slow burn. But once it gets going, shit hits the fan. Some of the scenes still haunt me to this day. Even I felt a little uneasy… there’s something about the movie that makes you feel terribly unsettled…

Aw hell no
Aw hell no

The movie is known as “Carved.” There was also a sequel. It wasn’t too bad for a sequel, but much like Halloween itself, the original will always be the best. I recommend this film to horror buffs. It’s sick, twisted and if you happen to love Scissorman as much as I do, this is the closest we might ever get to seeing Scissorman in movie form. Who doesn’t love a good old fashion ghost story urban legend? I don’t know why but any movie taking place in rural Japan is automatically 50 times scarier and creepier than any American horror film. Those Japanese artists have some sick minds. Carved is a solid slasher and the fact that it’s based off a real Japan urban legend “Kuchisake Onna” makes it all the more unsettling and spooky.

Not even the kids were safe in this film
Not even the kids were safe in this twisted film

"AM I PRETTY???" [Sweet dreams tonight eh? -Ed.]
Click for more info on the Slit Mouthed Woman.

Warning: the following video is a bit creepy. Watch at your own discretion:

Sweet dreams indeed, eh?

Finally, looking for more Halloween-esque games to play on the SNES? I got you covered! Check out my SNES Halloween Special.

SD F-1 Grand Prix (SFC)

If Super Mario Kart met Chuck E. Cheeses...
If Super Mario Kart met Chuck E. Cheese’s…

If that sounds like an enticing combination to you (we can’t be friends if it isn’t) then SD F-1 Grand Prix is right up your alley. Sure, we never got the Super Mario Kart 2 on SNES as we desired back in the mid ’90s, but Video System released this clone on October 27, 1995 (nearly 21 years ago as I write this on October 23, 2016). It’s no Super Mario Kart (2) but it’s a decent alternative — hell, even an adequate companion piece to Super Mario Kart. Let’s examine and see why.


They scared and fascinated me all at once
They scared and fascinated me all at once

If you grew up in the late ’80s and early ’90s in America then you probably have fond memories of hitting up Chuck E. Cheese’s as a kid. I know I sure did. It was the cheap pizza (which at the time felt like Heaven to a kid), the festive atmosphere and the ARCADES. It was an epic place for a kid to be. A place where a kid could truly be a kid. But I think we can also agree on this… those old school animatronics left us with an eerie memory or two! Just look at them. They’re so robotic and stiff, it’s a bit unnerving to watch them “sing” when you were a little kid. But we all have memories of it (for better or for worse). Chuck E. Cheese’s, I salute ya. Thank you SD F-1 Grand Prix for reminding me of a simpler time in my life. Perhaps that’s one contributing factor to why I like you so much.


10 racers with varying abilities
10 racers with varying abilities

Right away you can tell what the tone of this game is. It’s not serious. It’s cute, and fairly charming. I like how they give you stats for each racer. Even though the racers in Super Mario Kart had their pros and cons, it’s nice seeing it spelled out explicitly.

It's a case of deja vu all right
It’s a case of deja vu all right
Recharge your health. Hmmm...
Recharge your health. Hmmm…
Thought I saw that somewhere before
Thought I saw that somewhere







Similar to Battle Racers, you have a health bar that’s reduced any time you fall in a pit, ram into barriers or blasted by the opposition. Unlike Battle Racers though, instead of finding health refills inside capsules, SD F-1 has a healing strip along the beginning of each track much like F-Zero.

Battle Racers (Banpresto, 1995)
Battle Racers (Banpresto, 1995)


Bird eye's viewpoint
Bird eye’s view point

Sure it rips some things off from Super Mario Kart and F-Zero, but those aren’t bad games to get inspired by. There are different camera angles to pick from. The default is Mario Kart style. But one allows you to make SD F-1 look just like the earlier F-1 Super Famicom games… that being from a bird eye’s view point.

1 player games include:

  • GP Mode: first you race around a bare track for 2 laps to be awarded a starting position (1-10). Then you start the race at your designated spot against 9 rivals. Icons litter the course, collect enough to fill a bar and gain a temporary speed burst
  • Crash Mode: None of this 2 laps positioning nonsense. Start at #10 and instead of speed-bar-filling-up icons you get regular weapon icons (projectiles, etc.) I personally prefer this traditional Mario Kart mode over GP
  • Time Trial: Keeps track of best lap and overall times

2 player game (besides obvious GP and whatnot):

  • Dog Fight: Pick one of (surprise surprise) four specific battle arenas, and fight to the death. The goal is to zap other driver’s energy to zero by blasting him or her with any means necessary. Groovy

Now let’s look at some random tracks.


The classic, essential, bare bones first stage to acclimate the player to the mechanics of the game. To say it conjures memories of the first race track from Super Mario Kart would be a gross understatement.

Good times
Good times


Some tracks contain helpful arrows, such as this one. Maybe it’s just me but this course reminds me slightly of Bowser’s.


Lovely beach track. One of my favorites. Yeah it’s a total ripoff but it’s still sweet. The super jump bit is very cool, reminiscent of Ghost Valley 1.

1992 was a good year!
1992 was a good year!








Northern Lights! The ice has nice detailing as well. Another one of my favorites, this frozen lake course is actually cooler looking than the frozen courses found in Super Mario Kart. Just my opinion of course, but it’s the little details in the ice as well as the Northern Lights that gives SD F-1 Grand Prix the edge.


The lava track has a super jump section much like the beach one. I have to say graphically it is superior to Super Mario Kart but that’s kind of expected as one came out in 1992 and the other in 1995.


I love how you can see this course unwind far into the distance. Lovely!

ProTip: Avoid the muddy spots
ProTip: Avoid the muddy spots

Remember GamePro Magazine? That’s a classic ProTip they would have said. My favorite to this day was the ProTip about the CyberDemon. ProTip: Shoot at it. :D


I love the wide range of locales you race in — the visuals are pleasant to the eye and really makes you want to race each of the courses.



Super Mario Kart meets a cast of Chuck E. Cheeses rejects. In a nutshell, that’s what SD F-1 Grand Prix is. What it also is… is a damn fine racing game. It’s loads of fun with a few different ideas to differentiate it enough from Super Mario Kart. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a most blatant clone, but it’s a well made one. It’s not as smooth playing as Super Mario Kart, but visually it’s better and I really like some of its tracks. If you love kart racing games then you really owe it to yourself to get this one. SD F-1 Grand Prix is yet another great Super Famicom exclusive title. Pick up a copy if you can — you probably won’t regret it.