Super Back to the Future II (SFC)


The Back to the Future trilogy is one of the most beloved film franchises in cinematic history. It has a huge legion of fans, and for good reason. All three of the films are quality stuff. Unfortunately, prior to 1993, just about all its video game incarnations were, quite frankly, piss poor. That changed when Daft developed Super Back to the Future II in 1993. It’s definitely not perfect, but it’s pretty solid and scratches that itch to play a halfway decent Back to the Future game. Good job, Daft. By the way, my previous review (Violinist of Hamelin) was also developed by Daft. Not a bad little company they were while they lasted.

Aw, it's their SD versions
Aw, it’s their SD versions

Doc tells you some jibberish about righting the time periods (I guess). Note the cute and charming SD (Super Deformed) look of the characters. Nice Japanese touch.

You control Marty McFly on his hoverboard, pouncing on all sorts of bizarre enemies as you travel through time. The game has a very pleasant look and the classic Back to the Future overture was ported over flawlessly. The game provides 4-character passwords to boot.

Let’s look at some of the levels.


Love the colorful look
Love the colorful look

These guys shoot big bullets at Marty, but you can counter that by flipping. Such is the raw power of the hoverboard!


Nice re-imagining of the film
Nice re-imagining of the film

To hurt him just touch the buttons located at the bottom. This will send the TV’s flying at him.


There's a slight Sonic feel
There’s a slight Sonic feel

Lots of slopes and curves provide a nice sense of adventure and atmosphere.


That bastard Griff won't go away
That bastard won’t go away

Another lovely nod to the film, and a great way to use that scene into a boss battle setting.

Water, lethal. Indeed
Water, lethal. Indeed

Hey, when you’re riding up that high on a hoverboard, water suddenly becomes as dangerous as a bullet. Or something.


Love me some night stages
Love me some night stages

I told you the enemies are bizarre. Look at that slobbering weirdo!


That overture. So epic!
That overture. So epic!

This may very well be my most favorite stage — featuring a soft yellow backdrop and the Back to the Future overture from stage 1-1 returns. Just a really fun level to play through.


Finally, Griff takes a leave
Finally, Griff takes a leave

I like how this boss fight has a different strategy from the first two boss fights with Griff. Variety is always welcomed and appreciated.

That's gotta hurt
That’s gotta hurt

Break open the suspended makeshift floor. This allows some of the bowling balls to slip through the cracks, crushing Jazzman’s skull. What a way to go out, eh?


This part is a bit tough
This part is a bit tough

Somewhat tricky, this. Marty’s lifted up, but there are plenty of obstacles waiting for him, like that spiked ball on the upper left there. If hit, Marty will be invincible for JUST long enough to go up again and safely make it to the next section. This stage stumped me for a while but you just gotta gut it through.


These clowns are easy
These clowns are easy


Sup, Dynamite Headdy!
Sup, Dynamite Headdy!
Love the gray backdrop
Love the gray backdrop
Ride those cliffs like a champ
Ride those cliffs like a champ
Grab some air!
Grab some air!

Ooh, spooky. Check out the thunder clouds and creepy looking trees splattered across this ghoulish graveyard level. Gotta love it. Great to play on a dark rainy lazy Sunday afternoon.


Someone say rain?
Someone say rain?
Such disrespect in a cemetery
Such disrespect in a cemetery
A bit of slowdown here
A bit of slowdown here
This stage is no joke
This stage is no joke

The rain adds a nice touch, especially since this level comes right after the graveyard stage. It’s a tough stage.


Get 'im, Marty
Get ‘im, Marty

This floor is littered with knife wielding goons. Be particularly weary of doors — more times than not a baddie is just waiting to jump out.

BOSS: 1985 BIFF (4-4)

Hit the buttons to zap him
Hit the buttons to zap him

Gotta love the cool backdrop here. The 4 buttons releases sparks when pressed. Like all boss fights up to this point, it’s another cakewalk.


Please don't be immature
Please don’t be immature
Ah screw it
Ah screw it


All in all, a respectable effort
Biff’s got that electric personality

Hearing that classic Back to the Future overture replicated perfectly on the 16-bit Super Nintendo is majestic and awesome. I can’t get enough of it. While Super Back to the Future II has its fair share of flaws, such as slowdown, somewhat difficult control to master and some cheap moments in its level design, I still liked it quite a bit at the end of the day. I don’t know if it’s because I get to finally play a halfway decent Back to the Future game, or if it was the colorful SD graphics or hearing that epic overture. Probably all of that. Overall, I think most Back to the Future fans will enjoy this at least somewhat. The password feature definitely makes it all the more accessible. Not bad, Daft. Not bad at all.

Violinist of Hamelin (SFC)

AKA Hamelin no Violin Hiki
AKA Hamelin no Violin Hiki, this game is quite bonkers

Violinist of Hamelin is a unique, fascinating and quirky little game. Let’s take a closer look.


Lovely opening shot
Lovely opening shot

Based off the anime/manga, your task is to guide a young female (named Flute) safely to the exit of each stage. You control the violinist — Hamel. It’s an action/adventure game with puzzle elements, so it’s definitely not your average run-of-the-mill platformer. The way you interact with Flute is a riot, as you’ll see. You don’t actually control Flute directly; she follows you until you press “X” to deactivate her. But how you get to use her is rather entertaining…

Say whaaa??
Say whaaa??

Don’t ask why, but Flute can morph into one of 16 different things! Provided, of course, you locate the proper icon first. Certain sections require certain transformations. It’s all about teamwork. As said earlier, this isn’t your everyday mindless platformer! Each transformation serves its own special purpose, and using the right one at the right moment is key to your success.

"Ugh, get off me, Hamel!"
“Ugh, get off me, Hamel!”

The interaction between Hamel, Flute and the level design is really what makes the game work so well. You can stand on her head, pick her up and carry her around, or even toss her like a cannon ball into enemies or impeding brick walls!

Her expressions are priceless
Her expressions are priceless
It doesn't hurt her!
Relax — it doesn’t hurt her!


Kill 'em with musical notes
Kill ‘em with musical notes
Sometimes you hurl Flute...
Sometimes you hurl Flute…
Other times you throw a bomb!
Other times you throw a bomb!
These big boys take 2 hits
These big boys take 2 hits
Nab the first transformation icon
Nab the first icon to change!
You ain't Carl Lewis? What now?
You ain’t Carl Lewis!

That’s right, Carl Lewis you are not. So what now? Hit ‘START’ and locate the proper transformation for the job. You only have one at this point, so it’s pretty obvious what’s needed here. Later on, as you grab more and more of the 16 total transformations, it’ll be a little tougher to figure out which one to use, but it’s usually fairly obvious. It’s a fun gimmick that makes up a bulk of the gameplay.

Ride her to safety. Shush
Ride her to safety. Shush

Each transformation serves a specific function. The first one, the ostrich, allows you to cross perilous territory that would otherwise kill you. Press “X” at any time to transform back to Flute.

Oooh, pretty
Oooh, pretty


Duck and collect the 1-UP
Duck and collect the 1-UP
Second icon is a frog
Second icon is a frog
What does it do? C'mon...
What does it do? C’mon…
Shoot the spindle to activate
Shoot the spindle to activate
Hey, it's you or them
Hey, it’s you or them


No Mario 3 influences, nah
No Mario 3 influences, nah


Watch out for those flames
Watch out for those flames

Right off the bat here, you collect your third transformation icon. It’s a robot that can smash any wall. You can also ride it to make your way safely across treacherous terrain, similar to the ostrich.

Aw, angry Flute is so cute
Aw, angry Flute is so cute

Like Castlevania‘s red skeletons, that yellow bugger there cannot be permanently disposed of. You can stop him, but he’ll resurrect after a few seconds. Make haste!



As mentioned earlier, puzzles play a part in the game. Here’s a neat little one within the castle walls.


Hmmm, I gotta get to the top somehow… first, select the robot transformation.

Anger issues, much?
Anger issues, much?

Now, position Flute on the little switch and deactivate her so she won’t move from that spot. By standing on the switch, the block up top disappears. Now fire a note at the crystal ball, which results in dropping the makeshift platform there. Nice.

Sings "There she goes..."
Sings “There she goes…”

Once you get to higher ground press “X” again to call Flute, and she’ll properly climb the ladder. HURRAH! We’re home free now…

Girls hate when you fail
Girls hate when you fail
"Sorry hun, ya know the deal"
“Sorry hun, ya know the deal”
The key is to... find the key
The key is to… find the key

Kill the snake, grab the key, the new icon (not visible here) and go!

Um, yeah. It gets kooky!
Um, yeah. It gets kooky!


Violinist of Hamelin is quirky and memorable
For something different, try this out!

Prior to playing this game for the first time back in 2006, I had heard a smattering of people praising this game as one of the better Super Famicom exclusives. It’s definitely got a certain charm to it and feels different from your typical SNES game. It’s not quite a platformer, it’s not quite a puzzler, it’s not quite an action game. It’s a hybrid of all those — a platforming puzzle action game that has that special touch of Japanese cuteness and oddity that makes it quirky and memorable. The only real negative I have to say about this game is that it sure could have used a save or password system. It’s no short game by any means. I don’t like the fact that you have to beat this game in one sitting, and that each time you fire it up you have to start from the very beginning. Other than that, Violinist of Hamelin is quality through and through.

Little Magic (SFC)

"Dad! There's a monster under the bed!"
“Dad! There’s a monster under the bed!”

When I was a little kid, I was absolutely obsessed with monsters. Fascinated by these morbid, curious creatures. Remember the ole boogeyman in the closet, or the monster under the bed? In 1989, there was a little strange movie geared toward kids that was all about that. It dared to push the cinematic envelope by asking the most important question of our time: What if, JUST WHAT IF, there were truly monsters living underneath our beds?

Not all monsters are bad
Not all monsters are bad

Brian Stevenson (played by Fred Savage, AKA Kevin Arnold from The Wonder Years) is new to town. He hates it. Absolutely detests moving towns. But one night his life is forever altered when he discovers a wild, fun-loving monster lives under his bed. Maurice (played by Howie Mandel) and Brian form a unique friendship where they travel through the monster underworld by night. They also warp to other kids’ homes via some serious “bed hopping.” There they cause all kinds of mischief and pranks to unsuspecting, sleeping punks. It’s the stuff kids dream about: traveling through space with a monster causing all kinds of good-natured suffering and hi-jinx.

Having the time of your life...
Having the time of your life…

The film used a brilliant mix of bright lights and colors to show off its energetic alternate monster-verse. It was a world teeming with life and energy. It was where you go to escape from the doldrums of the world and to recharge your batteries. Down there there were no limits, and a kid could freely be a kid. But of course…

Always a but isn't there
Always a but isn’t there

There lied a real terrifying dark side to this alternate universe. Jagged stairways, dark corridors and foreboding denizens roam about the hellhole. For as much fun as it presented, there also permeates a sense of dread and the fact that something just isn’t right. Something you can’t quite put your finger on, but you know it’s a place you shouldn’t be. The recipe for every kid’s dream but also for their nightmares.

This spooked me out when I was a kid
This spooked me out when I was a kid

It’s funny looking back at the things we watched and loved as kids. Although it’s rated PG, this movie is exactly the kind of film we would never get in today’s politically correct world. It was full of bizarre sights and oddly subtle spine-tingling visuals and costume designs. Just look at those 3 monsters up there. There is something unnerving about the fact that they’re glaring at a baby with the purpose of making the baby shit its pants. Hell, this movie gives me the creeps more than 90% of the R-rated horror movies released today!

Whoa, hey now!
Whoa, hey now!

Goosebump-inducing stuff, indeed. Oh, and still to this day, thanks to this movie whenever I see a Mayflower moving truck driving around town, I can’t help but think back to the opening scene. The really cool thing is, the Mayflower truck design is STILL the same as the one found in this 1989 movie. It’s refreshing to see some things DON’T change with time.

I mark out each time I see this truck
I mark out each time I see this truck

Was it just me or what? Hmm, maybe just me then. At any rate…

Thanks for the memories
Thanks for the memories
We'll never forget ya
We’ll never forget ya

[Wait a second, I thought something was off. This is a review for Little Magic, not Little Monsters, ya git! -Ed.]

Gawd damn. I’m getting too old for this shit. Alright, Little Magic, then!

No relation to the NES title of the same name
No relation to the NES title of the same name

Ah Little Magic… I have to admit, growing up this was a fav — er… wait. Hell, I never heard of it until the summer of 2006 when I was on my crusade for obscure Super Famicom goodness! Indeed it is quite obscure and rarely ever talked about. Shame, because it’s an excellent brain-teaser of a game.

LITTLE MAGIC is not what you’d call an epic game, or a showcase piece. Hell, it looks like something off the 8-Bit Nintendo… Adventures of Lolo immediately comes to mind. But as we all know, gameplay reigns supreme, and Little Magic is rock solid in that department.

As May, a young witch-in-training, you must transport a fire stone to its pedestal in each level. It’s a simple concept, but the complexity of the level design becomes increasingly difficult.

May moves one square for any D-Pad movement you make. So she cannot turn without moving. There are 3 ways to move the fire.

  • Push (just use the D-Pad)
  • Psychic power (“A” button. Think of it as the “Finger Poke of Doom”)
  • Magic ball. It explodes after a couple seconds pushing the stone one space forward (“B” button)

May cannot walk on water, though. Some wizard in training eh?

The goal is to transport that fire stone to the pedestal and then head to the goal. All levels are single screen.

Use her psychic power to push the stone to its pedestal.

The magic ball should be used when May is out of poking range of the stone.

The first several stages are easy kid stuff. Level 6 is where it begins to pick up though…

You’re toast if you push the fire stone against the wall there. So what to do?

Form a magic ball next to the fire, then move May to the top corner quickly before the explosion.

Once the ball bursts, it’ll push the fire stone over one space. And since you’re positioned correctly, you can now easily push it down to its exit point. Sweet!

Stage 7 unsurprisingly gets a little tougher.

Stairs melt away as soon as you touch them.

Be sure to watch the intro before playing the game.

It’ll teach you some fancy tricks.

As you progress through the levels, enemies crop up as well, in addition to warp points, spikes, gaping holes and even enemies. In all there are 100 levels. 6-character passwords are provided after each contest. As you’d expect, there are themes for each set of stages as well.

Ice theme. How original!
Ice theme. How original!
Er, Gon or Godzooky?!
Er, Gon or Godzooky?!
Pac-Man-esque, no?
Extras from Snakes on a Plane
Crikey! Slippery slide-y spiky!
Evokes some Indiana Jones
Yeah, good luck mate


The Game Boy Color version also received a Japan-only release. Crap graphics make a bad game not. This is a classic example of that. Little Magic is a praise-worthy diamond in the rough and definitely worth hunting down. If you get your rocks off by staring contemplatively at the screen until inspiration breaks through with the resolute “AH-HA!” then Little Magic is right up your alley.

With 100 mind scrambling stages, it’s sure to be a lifetime project to complete. The thing I love about these type of games — they’re fun to relax with for 20-30 minutes after a long day of work. Sure, sometimes you just want to pop in a mindless beat ‘em up, but there’s something rather rewarding about staring at the screen trying to solve a puzzle until that light bulb moment strikes. A six-character password tops off this cake. One of those games you can pick up and play at any time, leave for 3-4 months and come right back to. One of these days, I’m going to help May pass her graduation exam and become a full time witch. Even if it takes me an entire lifetime! *shakes fist*

Come play with me...
Come play with me why won’t you… I don’t bite…

Mickey Tokyo Disneyland (SFC)

A land of magic...
A land of magic…

I was blessed with a great childhood, full of rich memories. But if I could go back and change two things however, I would have: 1. owned a puppy and 2. went to Disneyland. Yeah, I never went to Disneyland as a youth. I missed out on the “Happiest Place on Earth” [Sure, tell that to the Pink Poodle -Ed.]. It wasn’t until my senior year in high school… SENIOR GRAD NIGHT. For the fee of $100 per person, we had the park closed off to the Class of 2001 from midnight to 6 AM — it was ours to run… and ours to rule *maniacal laughter*

My friends and I immediately hitched on the first ride we could — the Pirates of the Caribbean. I can still remember vividly going under the cave for the first time… that WHOOSH sound echoing through the crisp cool night air as the darkness devoured us all. Awesome.

I remember the park being lit up… the dance room bumping with carefree to-be high school graduates… the free food… all the rides you could go on. By 4:30 AM many couples were passed out on the benches. But not my group… no, we were wide awake and determined to squeeze the park for all it was worth.

This next game definitely brings back memories of that night. It’s not by Capcom, but GRC, makers of the Genesis cult favorite Trouble Shooter. Despite less-than-stellar control which makes the game harder than it should be, Mickey Tokyo Disneyland is a nice little platformer featuring a timeless icon.

In order to rescue his friends captured by the evil Pete, Mickey must conquer each section of the park. Pete guards the end of each section, and in between there’s all manner of traps and minions to thwart your progress.

Water balloons good. The standard kind is flicked horizontally and, if you hold the button down, can be made bigger. The other kind is heaved upward, or if held down will send Mickey in the air. A decreasing meter indicates how long until the balloon pops.

While in mid-air, press forward and Mickey will be shot in said direction. In certain areas this is mandatory. You can even do a diagonal downward/upward dive.

Check out this cool trick

Hold Y and kneel down. Mickey will set a water balloon on the ground. From here he can jump off it for an added boost. Or use it to create a weight Indiana Jones style!


Or it can be used to pick off enemies below. Sweet. I love it when games allow items to serve multiple purposes :)

Alright, a quick look at some of the levels below.


Love that classic Mickey look

The first stage is basic and eases you in. The look of the game immediately reeled me in. I like Mickey’s representation; it’s much more traditional Mickey than seen in the Capcom games.

Surfs up dude!
Ooh, atmospheric
Fun rainy day game!

Absolutely gorgeous. But before you can enjoy it for long the treasure chests (all but one) come alive.

Action starts to get hot…

[Seriously? You’re FIRED… -Ed.]

Drop it like it’s hot
Smell the cool night air

You can almost take it all in, can’t cha? OK, maybe just me, then.

This bastard tosses food in the water to attract the biting fish as you swim by.

Like Sonic, you’ll need to come up for a breather. Here’s a nice spot to do that.

What a perfect starry night

Jump over the barrels and spray him. Wait, that came out kinda wrong.

Look at Pete doing his best damn impersonation of, er, Damnd, from Final Fight.

Well I'll be damnd...
Well I’ll be “damnd”


Usually brown is a bland color in games but GRC made it look exceptional here.


*hums Indy theme*


Notice the change
What’s that at the bottom?
Shades of In The Hunt


It’s just like you’re at Disneyland… if there were evil monks running around trying to kill you, that is.



This spooky ghost face greets you early on in level 6. It’s an easy sitting target though with no attacks, so it’s simply there for decoration. I love these little festive touches. Really brings a game to life when I see little details like such.


A fun game to pop in on a lazy, rainy day
A fun game to pop in on a lazy, rainy day

I had quite a bit of fun with Mickey Tokyo Disneyland. I liked how they incorporated the theme park into the game’s stages. Although Mickey is a bit rigid on the controls, I had a blast making my way through the dark side of Disneyland. It’s definitely not as good as the Capcom Mickey games, but it’s a decent alternative when you’re in the mood to dispose of bad guys via water balloons rather than blocks. Put it this way, I’m glad all these different variations of Mickey games exist on the SNES — you can’t go far wrong with any of them.

I must warn you though. Remember how easy the Capcom Mickey games were? Not the case here. Thankfully, Mickey is not a one hit wonder. On easy you have 8 health bars (in the form of balloons), medium 5 and hard 3. The control may cramp your style but it can be worked around, and if you’re looking for a Mickey game that is challenging for a change, this one does the job. Perfectly suitable game to kill a couple hours with on those dark Fall rainy Sunday afternoons! :)

Battle Cross (SFC)

Pub: Imagineer | Dev: A-Max | 12.9.94 | 8 MEGS

In the early-mid ’90s, few games matched the fun that Super Bomberman and Super Mario Kart provided. Ever wonder if someone was keen enough to sort of combine the two? A-Max did, at least, to some degree. Battle Cross is a 6-player single screen racer. It does an admirable job of cramming bits and pieces of Bomberman and Mario Kart. The air-bike is easy to control. Once you get in the zone, you’ll be screaming past tight corners, blowing up the competition, and scorching toward the finish line with dazzling flamboyance unseen since the glory days of Babylon.

Naturally, there are weapons and power-ups randomly strewn across the course at any given time. Nothing beats dropping a land mine under a hidden overpass… *evil grin*

Speaking of which, let’s take a look.


  • Laser (press R to shoot)

Unlimited. You could be on one side of the track and still hit someone on the other. It’s weak though… only stunning the victim for a split second (but enough to tick the tar outta ‘em, which is half the fun really).

  • Speed Up (automatic)

Increases your speed for that entire race. Collect a couple and you’ll blaze right through the competition.

  • Matchless (automatic)

Zipping at break-neck speed, anyone caught in your path will flip out. It’s just like the Star from Super Mario Kart.

  • Land Mine (Y)

My favorite. The more land mine icons you collect the more you can lay at a time. If you collect three or four as I once did, you’ll OWN that race!

  • Nitro (X)

Speed burst. If you’re on a track with steep hills, activate it at the bottom and watch your guy FLY!

  • Missile (R)

A one shot deal that, when released, darts around the track until it finds someone or burns out.

  • Weight (R)

Like the missile, a one time deal that sends a blue skeleton disc around the track until it finds someone or passes out. This causes the infected driver to go considerably slower.

  • Turn Over (R)

Evil in its purest form. Bolts a yellow skeleton disc around the track — if it finds a target, that driver will temporarily have his control REVERSED. On basic tracks the transition is usually no biggie. But on those with lots of turns, it’s a true you-know-what. Luckily, when infected, a fairy (!) appears carrying a first-aid kit. Touch her and instantly be healed. Love it. Odd and rather weird, but very cool!

The reason for different buttons? So you can drop a land mine WHILE shooting your lasers. As NBA Hall-of-Famer turned commentator Bill Walton would say: “Now HOW cool is THAT?”

Three game modes: Battle, Grand Prix and Practice.

In Battle you pick from 1-30 laps to win a course. 15 is the default; I like playing on 10 just to keep things moving. Pick from 1-5 match wins. You can even select a new track after each round! In Bomberman, you’re restricted to the SAME field until one player can win the designated amount. But here, say it’s 3 wins to the trophy; well, you can play on tracks 1, 2 and 8 if you wish. Brilliant!

Up to 5 human players can play, with a total of 6 maximum bikers. Any combo is possible: 1-on-1 race, or 4 bikers instead of 6. Go 7 laps, or 27. Adjust the AI from 1-5. It’s very user-friendly, just like Bomberman.

The Grand Prix follows a storyline, but like Bomberman the meat of Battle Cross is playing the Battle mode (and preferably with some buddies to truly enhance the experience).

Nine initial courses are available, with one being unlockable.  Let’s check ‘em out.



Just your basic first stage that helps you ease into things. The course itself has no special features. A volcano rests peacefully in the middle and a friendly chap in the ocean enjoys fishing while observing the race. Oh and um… a Godzilla-like creature plays in the sand pit there… those wacky Japanese. They’re at it again…



A couple puddles atop and a grumpy pirate who doesn’t like trespassers highlight this track. He launches a cannonball across the screen every five seconds or so. If you find yourself in the line of fire, don’t be a chump, jump!



The orange arrows operate as a speed burst. This is the first track to implement high and low drops. I really like the curve before the finish line — it’s the perfect opportunity to smoothly turn the corner and accelerate on through. And for some reason, I really dig the way the grass looks. It’s so lush. It’s the little things!



This course rocks. Leap over the wooden spikes and watch out for the rocket that comes screaming out of the hole. A little gate near the totem pole swings open periodically, allowing the precious possibility of a short cut. But if the gate closes as you go for it, the AGONY! The shrubbery at the bottom left obstructs the playing view. It’s ripe for mine-dropping. Overall this course has a good deal of strategy, making it one of my favorite courses in the game.



See that wolf peering over the cliff there? Nice! It’s the little things that make video games cool I always say. Here the slopes get very steep and if you got Nitro, use it at that bottom hill. Your momentum can propel you straight through the finish line! It’s similar to using a mushroom right before the jump bit on the very first iconic Ghost Valley track from Super Mario Kart.



Twice the hidden overpasses equals twice the potential danger of land mines. I love the corner where my red guy is at — making a smooth turn and having that long raceway to steam forward is pretty cool stuff.



Love this devious track. It’s wide open… til you get to the two red pillars. To make matters worse, they move randomly! It’s a short stage but very fun because of the chaos the red pillars can cause. Blue and yellow there did OK — green and purple not so much! As for me, red, oh you know.. you know… uh… overlapping them. *cough* Nothing beats cutting through those pillars unscathed. Not only will you probably be in the lead but you’ll look real cool too, oh yeah.



Those are some big animals! O_o Course gets a bit bumpy in the middle there. This is one of my least favorite tracks to be honest. It doesn’t seem as appealing as some of the others. Be sure to drop mines under that overpass, though…



Pinball-mania. Madness I tells ya. The 3 yellow bumpers move and are hard to avoid. Hit the bumpers as I did here, and you’ll be bouncing back and forth for a few. He who minimizes mistakes, will win.


-Graphics are nothing to write home about but as you can see are quite serviceable and for this type of game works

-Sound is OK, but I love the catchy course tunes

-Like Bomberman, it’s still decent enough fun to play alone, but the real treat is getting 4 other people to play… one of those games that’s perfect to play after a late night out

-Even your little brother or sister can play — there’s an option in Battle mode for “human-CPU” mode. Think of it like… auto-defense in baseball video games

-You won’t need to understand Japanese to enjoy this game, though the storyline in Grand Prix will fly over your head… but no biggie, ya know?

-Never a hint of slowdown

-The back cover of the manual has the best Engrish ever:

Thanks for what!
Those silly Japanese


Battle Cross is a fun party game. It possesses a unique charm and little things like the wolf and revolving gate, for example, add a sense of life to the game. The more I played Battle Cross the more I liked it. It’s well worth owning, especially if you have like-minded retro gaming friends. It’s a shame this game never came out in the US, but thankfully we can import it without any hassles as everything in the game is pretty much self-explanatory. Now, I do have to say this. I liked this game a lot more when I first played it in 2006, nearly 10 years ago. Similar to The Firemen, another Super Famicom title, I was really impressed a decade ago when this was a fresh novelty. In revisiting it years later, while I still like and recommend it, it’s not quite as awesome as I remembered it being. The gameplay is not as ‘meaty’ as Super Bomberman or Super Mario Kart. Don’t get me wrong, I still like Battle Cross, but perhaps temper your expectations at the door before diving in. Obviously it doesn’t hold a candle to either of those iconic Super Nintendo games, but hey, few games can. Battle Cross is a funky example of a game that’s both “worthy” yet somehow “somewhat disappointing, considering.”

Graphics: 7
Sound: 8
Gameplay: 7
Longevity: 8


Overall: 7.5
Bronze Award

Majyuuou (SFC)

So much untapped potential...
So much untapped potential…

While it boosts one of the greatest gaming libraries in the history of mankind, the SNES will never be mistaken as a system home to a wide plethora of darker, more mature games. One of the few that truly fit this class though is Majyuuou (AKA King of Demons) exclusively released on the Super Famicom. Just look at that box art. You’d think it’s gotta be the greatest thing since sliced bread. Sadly, it never quite lives up to the lofty expectations built inside of my head nearly 10 years ago when I first played it, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad game. It just means I was hoping for a little more.

At first glance, “Resident Evil meets Castlevania” crossed my mind. A most enticing combination indeed. Well, when viewed from such, I guess it was doomed to fail. But I’m getting ahead of myself, as per usual, so let’s rewind it back a little bit…


You are Abel. Your wife (Maria) and daughter (Iria) have been captured by your former friend Bayer who sold his soul to the devil. With them Bayer intends to revive the KING OF DEMONS. You’ll do anything to save your family, even taking on various demonic forms yourself. This gives it a bit of an Altered Beast feel.

You start the game out in human form. Here you can do the following:

  • Roll
  • Do a downward kick in mid-air
  • Double Jump
  • Fire his 9MM gun
  • Fire a power shot (hold attack until the power bar flashes)
  • Transform into different types of demons

Majyuuou opens with you battling Bayer on the bridge to hell. It’s basically a mere scrimmage, with Bayer eventually retreating. The door on the far right swings open, and your foray into the darkness begins…


I wish sprites were a bit bigger
I wish sprites were a bit bigger

Things start out easy. Low entry winged demons are one and done. A fairy helper acts much like how an “option” does in SHMUPS.

Just when you think “This is TOO easy,” the earth rumbles and the ugliest, biggest grub you’ve ever seen quickly slithers your way!

Now that's more like it
Now that’s more like it

The parasitic creature traps you into a dead end. Fortunately, or so you think, the ground collapses, sending you even deeper into the rotting depths of hell.

Pop their heads off!
Pop their heads off!

Mutant frogs, gun toting she-devils and hordes of zombies greet you with open, decaying arms. One shot cleans the zombies’ heads right off while two seals the deal. Out of the corner of your eye you can see victims pinned up against the perfidious walls like grand prizes, but there’s no time for sentimentality — you know you could very well be next! With hell’s army hot on your tail, you come to a decrepit elevator. There’s no choice but to enter the dank, rotting interior…

Oh what a tangled web we weave
Oh what a tangled web we weave
Look at those nasty veins!
“You one UGLY motherf*cka…”

Exiting the elevator, you’re visited by an old friend. I do love the attention to detail in this game. Look at those nasty veins. It’s a fight to the finish.

Their version of the Baron of Hell
Their version of the Baron of Hell

March forward and meet the Barons of Hell. These big bastards are tough, requiring 12 shots to kill.

Don't let it add your skull to its collection
The first boss of the game
It's time to begin your first transformation
Begin your first transformation

WHEW! That’s only the first stage. It’s all very short though, but you gotta love the assortment of mini-bosses and demonic enemies. On a system sorely lacking these such things, it’s a very much welcomed sight! But can Mayjuuou keep up the pace? Sadly, although every fiber of my being at this point wishes it were so, I’d be lying if I said I thought it did.

Suck on their blood to regain health :)
Suck on their blood to recuperate

Stage 2 is a plant themed world with buildings in complete ruin. Green pods releases little red fairies. Kill ‘em, then you can eat their fallen carcasses to regain health. Brutally creative, and you know you love it.

Everything’s going smoothly until you cross an old abandoned building. You hear a trembling and know it’s not JUST the racing of your heart, but that something BIG and BAD comes your way…

I hate being right
I hate being right (sometimes)

If it catches you with its iron mandible it’ll drag you up and down the screen like a rag doll.

"I've got my eye on you"
“I’ve got my eye on you”

Defeat the insect mini-boss and then find yourself eye to eye (no pun intended) with yet another mid-boss!

Mrs. Bushroot says hello (and good-bye)
Mrs. Bushroot says hello

The Plant Queen guards the exit of stage two. Put this wannabe Empress out of her misery and then get ready to enter the ride of your life, literally. A spook-filled speeding train rolling past a cemetery. Something afoul is in the air…

Play this at night, for sure
Play this at night, for sure

Within 10 seconds this mini-boss appears. It only has 1 attack: throwing its two scythes at you, which will spin in place for a few seconds. Just leave some room on the left and you’ll be OK. Battle the rest of the minions on the train and soon you’ll meet a pair of twins unlike any you’ve met before…

[Can’t be better than the Synch twins I met during the summer of ’89 -Ed.]

Only in Japan. God bless Japan
Only in Japan. God bless Japan

You are completely helpless as you watch the two monsters kill this innocent lass. Her banshee-like scream as she perishes is actually somewhat eerie and unsettling. After these two you immediately face the end boss of stage 3.

Aim for the sick pulsating mass
Aim for the sick pulsating mass
It doesn't put up much of a fight
It doesn’t put up much of a fight

Once the disgusting bubbly mass is blown to bits, the Ghost Train is rendered helpless and crashes through the castle walls.

Level 4 begins and from here on out, I’ll let you discover what horrors await. Will you be able to stop Bayer? Will the King of Demons arise? Can Abel save his family?


  • There are 3 different demon transformations, with stronger versions for each. Each has a unique regular / super shot. One demon form can flip, another teleports, etc. Find out which form works best for which stages
  • To get the good ending, you must use all 3 forms at some point before the final level. Doing so unlocks the 4th and ultimate transformation…
  • You are human only for stage 1, unless you opt to not touch an orb after defeating the end level bosses, which would make the game more challenging
  • The beginning plot is in Japanese, but throughout the levels there is no text. There is an English fan translation for those who want to experience it in full
  • Press select at the title screen to activate the options menu. As a side note, try pressing select 15 times. Done correctly, you’ll access a level select cheat in the options menu. Very handy…
  • The helper is very useful. If you die it’ll revive you for a 2nd go and you won’t waste a life. Some levels contain a green aura symbolizing the helper — touch it to gain its powers
  • There are health refills here and there. Stand over and press down
  • The health bar increases as your point total goes up. You can continue forever, but you’ll start at level 1 health and for the later levels, it’s simply not enough


Pop their heads off!
A sordid, fun and hellish romp

On a system lacking in these sort of darker, more mature titles, it’s nice to see a game such as this exist. It certainly helps to fill a void, but part of me, even nearly 10 years later, can’t help but still view this game as somewhat of a letdown. Now don’t get me wrong. I enjoy this game enough, but it pains me to think WHAT IF. It’s a perfect example of a game being “solid” yet “disappointing” all at once.

That said, this is a quality game. It’s just not the epic gem I was hoping for. Looking for a ghoulish action platforming shoot ‘em up sort of good time? With macabre visuals up the wazoo and some demonic transformations thrown in for good measure? Then check out Majyuuou. Just make sure you leave the lofty expectations at the door.

Graphics: 7
Sound: 8
Gameplay: 7.5
Longevity: 6.5

AwardOverall: 7.5
Bronze Award

DoReMi Fantasy (SFC)

The best SNES platformer not named Mario? Just maybe...
Happy 20th! 3.22.96-3.22.16

Today marks 20 years since the release of one of the finest platformers you could play on your SNES: DoReMi Fantasy. I originally wrote about this game nearly 10 years ago when it wasn’t as well known as it is today. When I first got back into all things Super Nintendo (January 2006), I did so in large part because I wanted to get back to my platforming roots. I scoured the net and looked at the entire SNES library. I saw pictures of a Japanese game called “DoReMi Fantasy” and instantly fell in love. Ever see a picture of a game and knew right away that you had to play it? DoReMi Fantasy had me instantly charmed. The Super Famicom has some amazing games that we Westerners sadly never received. DoReMi Fantasy is one of the best. 10 years ago it was actually obscure. It’s a lot more well known these days due to positive word of mouth over the years. Plus, a Wii Virtual Console release in March 2008 certainly didn’t hurt. It isn’t uncommon to find this game on hidden gem and must have SNES lists. It couldn’t happen to a nicer game, as the old saying goes [I’m pretty sure it doesn’t go like that but ok… -Ed.]

Milon from Milon’s Secret Castle

DoReMi Fantasy is a highly polished side-scrolling platformer. There are 8 worlds each with their own theme. In each world there’s a minimum of 6 levels followed by a boss. An overhead map allows you to backtrack. The levels aren’t particularly long but they possess plenty of detail, quirky enemies, excellent backdrops, ace set pieces and ultra smooth gameplay. The game’s sound is also noteworthy — it occasionally foregoes music for ambient sound effects instead. It all helps to create a unique world well worth exploring and spending a weekend or two with.

Amazing set piece!

Milon is a great character, full of charm and animated brilliantly. Graphics are outstanding. The game has a real sense of life to it. You really have to see it in motion to fully appreciate it. Milon can take up to 3 hits. His suit starts out green, then turns blue when hit and finally red. Jumping on an enemy’s head will only stun them. To kill them, you have to first encase them in a bubble and then pop them. It’s a slight twist on the ole hop ‘n bop routine that works well. Although it’s nothing groundbreaking by any means, this slight deviation from the norm is welcomed.

Be the star, find the star

From world 2 on, each level contains a Musical Star you must find and grab (usually not that hard, but later on becomes trickier). Therefore, you’re forced to explore the beautiful layouts (if you finish a stage without getting the star, you can’t battle the boss). Speaking of worlds, let’s take a look at them.


Pinpoint control

It’s the ole standard forest theme world. Although basic, it manages to pull you into its charming world. Something about SNES visuals that just does it for me. Sure, there might be better out there (i.e. Neo Geo) but visuals like this get me every single time. As with any platformer, the first world is simple and will get you acquainted to the game’s mechanics and control. You may feel a bit uninspired initially but it gets much better. Highlights of this world include a log ride, falling leaves over a pit where you must time your leap from one leaf to the next, and a neat little haunted cabin featuring Pinocchio-esque dolls.

Whoa, you’re happy to see me
Duck Hunt flashback!


So unique and bizarre…

If the first world seemed a bit ho-hum to you, then the second world is a lot more likely to catch your eye. It’s not often that you find a themed world consisting of food and drink items combined with a very atmosphere celestial backdrop. It’s almost like some weird acid trip. Lots of neat graphical touches, a surreal and ambient soundtrack and some bizarre-o enemies make these levels particularly memorable.

Reach for the stars, kid

Launching posts propel Milon high through the air and usually sends the little guy bursting through blocks in the process. And it feels as awesome as it looks.

Always wear protection…

Another impressive set piece, if you leave Milon idle for a while, he’ll pull his pointy wizard’s hat over his head as the wine comes pouring down over him. It’s a cute, charming moment that brought a smile to my face the very first time I saw it. Moments like this bring DoReMi Fantasy to life.


Hey, the sermon wasn’t that bad

Some creepy music here! It’s not what you expect, and caught me off guard when I first heard it. It gives this stage a rather eerie, empty feel. Highlights of this world include a bell hopping stage and a unique level where on/off switches litter the floor. Touch any off switch and darkness devours the scene, except for the color of the switches and Milon’s white pupils.

Lovely transparent curtains!


Ah, back to platforming tropes

Though much of this level is on land, there are plenty of underwater sequences. I quickly developed a burning hatred for those annoying spear throwing frogmen. And I suspect you will too.

5. ICE

Ooooh. Ahhhh

I love this world. It features some of the game’s best looking visuals and stages. It’s incredibly fun to play through. Stage 5-3 is a sled stage that particularly rocks.

Off the charts animation!
Shades of Sonic the Hedgehog
Love playing this at night!

Blow a bubble. It’ll freeze, forming a block for Milon to hop on. Brilliant. And yes, as you’d expect those icy blocks are more slippery than a used car salesman. Overall, a really fun world and easily my favorite in the game. So incredibly atmospheric. Those Northern Lights never fail to bring a smile to my heart. You can almost feel the chill. Be sure to play this one by the fireplace if you can :)


Generic? Sure. Fun? You betcha

C’mon you knew this was coming! No 16-bit platformer is complete without the ole mandatory fiery-themed level. I don’t mind tropes so long as they’re done well. And Hudson doesn’t fail to deliver here.


Two fairly difficult force-scrolling levels are spread across this blazing world. OK, so DoReMi Fantasy fulfills all the platforming tropes. When it’s this well done though, who cares? Certainly not me.


Insanely colorful visuals

The toy stages are stunning. The richness of colors immediately jumps out, radiating off your TV screen. It’s a reminder that 16-bit visuals, when done right, has an undeniable charm that hits all the right notes [I see what you did there… DoReMi Fantasy… notes… har har… -Ed.]. In addition to some gnarly visuals, there are plenty of dangerous little gadgets in this toy world from hell. Black Friday ain’t got nothing on this.

There’s also a haunted house-inspired world. But I’ll save some for you to imagine, or better yet, experience it yourself! If you haven’t played this yet and you consider yourself a fan of the 16-bit era platformer, this is a must play. It’s one of the best Super Famicom-only games ever released, and I wouldn’t hesitate to say it could be the best non-Mario platformer on the entire system. Yes, I believe it’s that damn good.


  • Slowdown does occur but it’s not often nor does it affect gameplay really
  • When you lose (whether to a boss or anywhere on a level), you start with 1 hit (red suit). So you’ll find yourself backtracking often to restore your health to 3 hits (green suit) before re-facing the boss. Hard love it is, indeed. Yes, you can backtrack because this game incorporates a map
  • Infinite continues
  • 4 character password system (too bad it wasn’t battery-backed). Passwords put you on the 1st stage of that world, so you have to do all the work again if, say, you quit at a boss battle
  • Hold attack until Milon flashes to unleash his super attack. Some situations require his super attack to advance, so be sure to make a mental note of this
  • Different power-ups are available and hidden inside breakable items. Power-ups include floating shoes, double bubble, bubble gum (very handy should you fall in a bottomless pit), and so forth.
  • The storyline unfolds in pictures and text. While the text is in Japanese, there isn’t a whole lot. The pictures are self-explanatory when it comes to these cutscenes introducing new gameplay elements in each world
  • Milon is a selectable character in Hudson’s Saturn Bomberman (1997)
Bomberman cameo!
Bomberman cameo!

A fan translation (as seen above) was released in August of 2007. Like I said earlier, you can enjoy the game without the translation as there isn’t much text, but it’s sure nice to get the whole package.


What a blockhead…

DoReMi Fantasy is an excellent platformer every serious SNES fan should own. It’s a shame it didn’t receive a domestic release. But seeing as how it came out March 1996 (the SNES was practically dead in the US by then), it’s hard to harp on that much. Personally, I think DoReMi Fantasy ranks right up there as one of Super Nintendo’s finest platformers. It’s terrific from top to bottom, and as a friend of mine once put it perfectly: “It’s about as charming as a video game can be.” I couldn’t agree more. Happy 20th anniversary, DoReMi Fantasy!

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

Overall: 9.0

Gold Award
Gold Award