RVGFanatic Retrospective

RVGFEx13

It was on a cold and rainy Sunday night 12 years ago that RVGFanatic first opened its doors. As cliché as it may sound, I remember it like it was only yesterday. January 7, 2007. As I write this, it’s January 7, 2019. Wow. RVGFanatic is 12 years old. Come next January, it’ll officially be a teenager! That’s crazy, but I digress. I remember thinking two years ago what a huge milestone the 10 year anniversary was. Very few gaming fan sites last a few years, let alone a decade or more. For a myriad of reasons — whether the webmaster burns out, loses interest or both — this kind of longevity is rare. As you may well know, I can be very sentimental and nostalgic. With that in mind, there’s no better time than now to reflect back on the past 12 years and the history of RVGFanatic.

GOING BACK… WAY BACK

goosebshelf

I fell in love with Goosebumps on a fateful late afternoon in the fall of 1993. We had to write book reports. Once completed, your classmates could then read your thoughts on any given book. My classmates would often tell me how much they loved reading my reviews. The reviewing craze began…

THE INTERNET AGE

RVGRetro

I first used the internet in 1996. Remember AOL? [LOL -Ed.]. I grew up on horror films so one of the first things I did online was sign up to post on the forums over at horrormovies.com. It wasn’t long before I joined video gaming forums. I always had a blast sharing my thoughts with random strangers. It paved the way for what would eventually become RVGFanatic.

THE BIG VIDEO GAME COMEBACK

Not an uncommon sight on any given day back in 2006
Not an uncommon sight on any given day back in 2006

The late ’90s saw a departure from video games for me. But I came roaring back in early 2001. That began my run with the Sega Saturn — I amassed 350 Saturn games through the summer of 2005. Then in early 2006 I returned home to the Super Nintendo. Receiving packages of games left and right from various places all over the internet, I was a man on a mission to reclaim bits and pieces of my childhood. I had a burning desire to preserve the memories for myself, and hopefully one day my future children.

7YearIt4

I had plans to create an all-encompassing Saturn topic on various forums featuring pictures, reviews, related stories and memories. But I burned out on the Saturn in the summer of 2005 and the topic was never meant to be. So when I began my SNES resurgence in January of 2006, it was a chance at redemption! I regretted not tallying a record of my Saturn buys: dates of purchase, prices and any interesting stories. My SNES comeback gave me a chance to do things right second time around. I charted every SNES purchase and had plans to launch a topic in the near future detailing my SNES reviews, memories and stories.

You live and learn
You live and learn!

By the summer of 2006, roughly 6 months into my SNES renaissance, I had acquired 400 (!) SNES games. There was just SO much to play. The timing to launch my SNES topic didn’t feel right but still I wanted scratch that itch and create a series of SNES-related impressions in one fashion or another. Thinking back to how much fun I had writing about obscure Sega Saturn imports earlier in the decade, it hit me like an ACME 16-TON weight.

NGSteve

And so I launched a topic dedicated to reviewing obscure Super Famicom games that came out only in Japan. It was a win-win. The topic gave me a creative outlet and served as a stopgap, giving me time to play through my SNES library on my own terms rather than feeling rushed.

RVGFEx31

Furthermore, what I didn’t realize at the time was that the obscure Super Famicom project was the impetus to launching RVGFanatic. The insane amount of unique content I had ready to go was key in spurring me along. It’s always harder to start from scratch than it is to have a bunch of content already waiting in the wings.

TAMING THE BEAST

GodzKD

Launched on September 8, 2006, my obscure Super Famicom topic became a bigger hit than I anticipated. It stirred a ton of retro gaming discourse. Originally I’d planned for my topic to go no further than Halloween 2006. But I kept buying more obscure Japanese games and the thread became so popular I didn’t want the ride to end. Around October someone suggested I compile everything and put it on a site. I didn’t give it much thought at the time as I was content posting my reviews on various forums. But then came the fateful evening of December 16, 2006. Digit Press member Pete Whitley had these inspirational words for me.

PeteWhit

For some reason, those string of magical words resonated deeply with me. I didn’t know anything about designing a site. Posting on message board forums was easy and good enough for me. But Pete Whitley made a damn good point. I spent hours gathering hundreds of screenshots and reviewed so many obscure games that a website — something more permanent and prominent than a message board topic that was bound to fade to obscurity over time — made perfect sense. With that firmly in mind, I spent that holiday season of 2006 tinkering around until finally deciding Pete Whitley was right. But there was only one problem left: what the HELL do I name this sucker?!

NAMING THE BEAST

RVGJWBest

I was stumped on what to call my pending site so I asked around. My buddy JVGFanatic had 3 suggestions. The first was Retro Fire. It had a nice little punch but it didn’t quite gel for me. His second was Obscuretro. I initially thought it was a clever mashup of “obscure” and “retro.” But thankfully I slept on it and decided not to. The spelling was funky and although my site would be heavily built around obscure Super Famicom impressions, I knew the main bulk would eventually consist of SNES reviews. Super Metroid isn’t exactly obscure! His final suggestion was tongue-in-cheek but right away it clicked. JVGFanatic, AKA Japanese Video Game Fanatic, suggested RVGFANATIC (Retro Video Game Fanatic). Done!

LAUNCHING THE BEAST

GodzillaKDCT

Opening on January 7, 2007, the first day had a little note welcoming readers. The next day I posted my first review in the form of Godzilla: Kaijuu Daikessen. It was only fitting since that was the first game I highlighted in my obscure Super Famicom topic. After clicking on PUBLISH, my dad called to ask if I could drive him down to the auto repair shop to pick up his car. There was a light rain that Monday night as I recall the vigor of knowing that someone somewhere was viewing my content and among the first visitors to do so. I was floating on cloud 9 as I drove my dad on that wet drizzling freeway. It’s a moment in time that I remember fondly to this day, even 12 years later.

My first ever site banner!
My first ever site banner!
Second banner
Second banner

RELAUNCHING THE BEAST

RVGFEx32

RVGFEx2

Spread the word around. Guess who's back in town!
Spread the word around. Guess who’s back in town!

BEASTLY DIFFERENCES

The last lost review!
The last lost review! Blackthorne on October 15, 2015

My original site had text that would wrap around the pictures. I was always fond of that, but my OCD often kicked in and I kept editing reviews and articles until they aligned perfectly with the margins. That I do *NOT* miss! I’m a lot less OCD with WordPress :)

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BYE BYE TEXTING

RVGRetro6

I did a lot of text-embedded shots on my old site. They were fun but it took a lot of extra work. Once I moved to WordPress I was able to use PNG images instead of JPG. It saves me a ton of time and while part of me misses the text-embedded shots, ain’t nobody got time for that!

RVGRetro6b

The quality difference between JPG and PNG images is stark.

JPG. Colors all washed out. Ew
JPG. Colors all washed out :(
Wow, it's not even close
PNG. Night and day difference!

RVG’S DIGEST
~THE BEST OF RVGFANATIC~

7YearIt13

Everything I’ve written since 2007 has meant something to me in some way, but certain ones have resonated more with me than others. With over 300 reviews and articles written over the past 12 years, narrowing it down to just 35 favorites wasn’t easy…

ADVENTURES OF HOURAI HIGH

EarthBRe130

Laced with some of my most memorable high school memories, this isn’t just a review of an obscure Japanese RPG but rather an inspired look back at our formative years. Sometimes you hit lightning in a bottle and Adventures of Hourai High is a classic example of everything coming together just right.

BRET “THE HITMAN” HART

BretHartHoF

One of my childhood heroes, I honored Bret Hart on his 60th birthday by recapping his unforgettable 2006 Hall of Fame speech. Join us for a magical evening where Bret will regale you with legendary tales from a bygone era. From epic stories involving Mr. Perfect, Owen Hart and Stone Cold Steve Austin, Bret’s speech is more than a celebration of wrestling — it’s a celebration of the indomitable human spirit.

CHRISTMAS MEMOIRS

fifight118

When you’re a kid, video games and Christmas just go hand in hand. I’ve had some great experiences through the years that I recollected here.

COLLECTION Q&A

BoF2col

I answer questions about my collection as well as share some old war stories from the early days of hunting and what buying SNES games back in 2006 was like.

CONTRA

contrashot15

The game that cemented me as a gaming fan for life, I can’t count the number of times my brother, uncle and I alternated turns to save the universe by blasting alien scum to Kingdom Come. Growing up in the late ’80s was a glorious time thanks to iconic hits like Contra.

CONTRA III: THE ALIEN WARS

7YearIt6

Few sequels ever live up to the hype, but this one does. Featuring a reimagined plot inspired by 1987’s Predator, Contra III proves that if it bleeds we can kill it.

CORRIDOR 7: THE ALIEN INVASION

NewCorr7

From the Alien Wars to the Alien Invasion we go. A Wolfenstein 3D clone, Corridor 7 was a guilty pleasure childhood game and likely would have found more success had Doom not come out months prior. I was lucky enough to score an interview with the game’s programmer, Les Bird, and ask him some burning questions I had been curious about for nearly 25 years.

EARTHBOUND

SPTop100-40

Whimsical and profound, EarthBound is one of the best experiences I ever had on the SNES. Expressing my thoughts in a way that would do even a modicum of justice to this coming-of-age adventure was a tall task. Fortunately, I felt I somehow captured the game’s essence and spirit. There’s a certain je ne sais quoi to it that makes it my favorite review of all time.

FOR WHOM THE BELCH TOLLS

Nelson64

Have you ever had a best friend that you just grew apart from? Find out what happens when Stu Cutler, Tim Taylor’s old best buddy from college 15 years ago, hits town for an impromptu reunion. Will the good times roll on, or will the past be the only remaining bond?

GOOSEBUMPS

Goose-B4

Goosebumps cemented my love for literature and things that go bump in the night. This article highlights my journey with R.L. Stine’s best selling series and all the fun spooky memories forged along the way.

GUNMAN’S PROOF

gunproo187

One of my favorite SNES games that doesn’t get enough love, this review was a massive labor of love and came out better than I could have hoped for. Gunman’s Proof is what you’d get if you merged EarthBound with the Wild West.

HALLOWEEN

IconicHall12

Halloween is an iconic franchise and easily my favorite horror movie (series) of all time. Join me for a nostalgic jaunt down memory lane where the Boogeyman could be lurking behind any corner…

HALLOWEEN MEMORIES

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This article highlights some of my fondest Halloween memories. From a nod to John Carpenter’s Halloween to a full breakdown of Doug’s Halloween Adventure to one of the greatest nights of my life… Halloween 1994.

HARLEY’S HUMONGOUS ADVENTURE

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As far as SNES action platformers go, this one is just alright. But as far as reviews I’ve written go, this is hands down one of the most memorable. That’s thanks in large part to Brian Greenstone, who programmed Harley’s Humongous Adventure and was kind enough to answer some questions.

HUNTING THE BOOGEYMAN
ADVENTURES WITH MY BEST FRIEND NELSON

MeNelly1

Nelson and I were best friends growing up and have known each other for 30 years. This article highlights our various adventures through the years, including that fateful weekend I spent at Nelly’s in the summer of 2016. Our hope was to catch up and hang out at Disneyland with Mickey Mouse. Instead, in a moment of pure serendipity, we unexpectedly found ourselves a boogeyman — THE BOOGEYMAN — as we ran around Haddonfield (AKA South Pasadena) chasing a ghost from our past.

JESSE’S GIRL

JessGirl116

Women. For thousands of years these perplexing and complex beings have mystified many. Since the dawn of time man has struggled to find the right partner in the game of life. This classic tale from the early days of Full House epitomizes man’s search for such; full of wonder, hope and heartbreak.

MEAN GENE OKERLUND

MeanGeneHOF51

For anyone who grew up with the WWF during the late ’80s to early ’90s, Mean Gene Okerlund was an iconic fixture and a comforting voice in our lives. Recently, Mean Gene sadly passed away at the age of 76. To honor and commemorate his life and legacy, I transcribed his 2006 Hall of Fame speech.

MY SNES COLLECTION

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Celebrating RVGFanatic’s big 10 year anniversary (January 2017), this article features an in-depth and comprehensive look at my Super Nintendo library. It’s full of stories, recommendations and so much more. This is my favorite piece ever written (so far) in the 12 year history of RVGFanatic.

MY SNES COMEBACK

SNESArt

January 17, 2006 was the day I bought a Super Nintendo and began my SNES resurrection. I had one in the ’90s so this was a homecoming for me. 12 years later, here I highlight those early days of 2006 and what it was like to get back into the fandom. Spoiler alert: it was fucking glorious :)

NIGHTCRAWLER

NightCraw94

X-Men: The Animated Series ruled the ’90s. Sure the animation was a little awful at times but it had serious heart. Perhaps nowhere was that more apparent than the surprisingly-deep-for-a-Saturday-morning-cartoon episode of Nightcrawler, where Wolverine encounters not only the titular mutant but his own faith as well.

OF MASTODONS AND MEN

OMAM64

My favorite TV show of all time, this Wonder Years episode is all about identity. Being self-aware in whatever stage of life you are is the key to growth, peace and happiness. Relationships can be a beautiful thing… provided that both parties are ready and compatible. Kevin Arnold and his newly minted girlfriend, Julie Aidem, finds out the hard way that sometimes… LOVE HURTS.

REMEMBERING 9/11 AND COACH BUTLER

butler42

In the face of tragedy, everyone grieves in their own unique way. Some people eat. Some focus on material possessions. Some cry and mourn. Others play basketball. This is a harrowing account of my experiences surrounding 9/11, the day after and one unforgettable teacher that left a lasting imprint.

SNES HALLOWEEN SPECIAL

KOD3

Halloween and Super Nintendo are two of my favorite things, so mashing them together only makes sense. The SNES is often perceived as a “kiddy” system with very few dark and mature titles. I attempt to bust that myth by highlighting 35 SNES games that, although some are more kid friendly than others, are all perfectly suitable to play during the month of October.

SNES PARTY GAMES

stevecoll154

Back in the old days there was nothing more thrilling than huddling around a TV playing video games with some of your best friends. The SNES is home to a plethora of party games. From the usual suspects to the more obscure, I hope this list inspires you to try out a new game or two the next time you have some buddies over.

SUPER MARIO KART

sumaka59

A true classic through and through, Super Mario Kart is one of the best 2 player games on the SNES. The added text in the screenshots turned out really well too, which is something I used to do during the earlier days of this site.

SUPER MARIO WORLD

HateWhen

Originally published on “Me-Mario Day” 2012, Super Mario World was an intensive labor of love. It took me painstaking hours to embed all the text into the game’s screenshots, but it was worth it. Because in the end you have a quirky and unique review of a masterpiece that has been reviewed a thousand times over. I always try to make my work stand out from the pack. After all, have you ever been coinblocked before? It’s the pits, really.

SUPER PLAY’S TOP 100 SNES GAMES

superplayset

Super Play Magazine was a British publication (1992-1996) dedicated solely to covering all things SNES. Essentially, it’s sort of like the “SNES Bible.” In issue #42 they listed their top 100 SNES games. I replicated that list so that everyone could read it. And apparently everyone did; this is one of the most popular links here.

THE LEGEND OF ZELDA: A LINK TO THE PAST

alinktothepast-rain

Originally published in May of 2007, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past was one of my earliest and biggest reviews. Much like the timeless game itself, this review (I dare say) has stood the test of time. On cold nights if you listen quietly enough, they say it’s still raining something fierce in Hyrule…

THE MODE 7 YEAR ITCH

Combatribes-Swing

Last January I celebrated RVGFanatic’s 11th anniversary by reposting this from my first site. It details 7 reasons why I love the SNES now as much as I ever did at any point in history. How the hell did I avoid burning out these past 13 years? Besides being mental, this article perfectly explains why I still love the SNES so much even to this day.

THE SUMMER OF IMPORTS

FHNelly

The summer of 1994 was one for the ages. Particularly that one innocent weekend in June where my best friend Nelson and I discovered some amazing Super Famicom imports. The rest, as they say, is history.

THE TALE OF THE LONELY GHOST

TotLG48

Are You Afraid of the Dark? (I wasn’t until I watched this show, thanks Nickelodeon!) is one of my all-time favorite TV shows. This is a spooky tale about a prank gone horribly wrong and the sins that trap us. But what can set us free is L-O-V-E. The Tale of the Lonely Ghost is as much terrifying as it is touching.

TOP 50 OBSCURE SUPER FAMICOM GAMES

ImpGH

As September 2016 was rapidly approaching, it dawned on me that my topic about obscure Super Famicom games was about to turn 10 years old. To honor the occasion I decided to rank my top 50 favorite obscure Super Famicom games. I had a blast doing this and received a ton of positive feedback. This is the most viewed link on RVGFanatic!

WOLFCHILD

Wolfchild89

Similar to Harley’s Humongous Adventure, Wolfchild is a classic case of average SNES game but memorable review. This is thanks to Simon Phipps, Wolfchild mastermind, for participating in an exclusive interview I was lucky enough to conduct.

WWF MEMORIES

WWF78

It’s no secret that I’m a huge wrestling fan. Or as I like to joke with my girlfriend, I’m just a slight fan. I grew up watching the WWF and looked up to larger-than-life icons like Hulk Hogan and the Ultimate Warrior. Throughout my life, wrestling has always been there for me in one fashion or another. I’ve been a fan for over 30 years now, and although the product fluctuates in terms of quality, I’ll be a fan for life. This article delves into my epic WrestleMania 31 weekend, my top 10 favorite wrestlers and my favorite wrestling moments of all time.

YOUR FRIENDLY NEIGHBORHOOD NINTENDO MAN

NESFamily

The late ’80s was such a different and innocent time. I’ll never forget all those weekends my dad took me out to rent the latest video games. My go to spot was classic Evergreen Video. It was the quintessential mom and pop shop. Tom, the owner of Evergreen, was like an uncle to me and my brother. Tom lived the American Dream until one day he, along with Evergreen Video, mysteriously vanished. But I’ll always have the memories. Tom, I hope you’re doing well, wherever you are.

FEEDBACK OVER THE YEARS

RVGFEx10

Thank you Allistair for advocating for me! It means a lot and I am humbled. I’m not as well known as HG101 or Sega-16, but I think I did pretty well these past 12 years.

JANUARY 10, 2007

Love the site Steven! You’re gonna drive me to the poor house trying to find all these obscure games, lol.
~Pete Whitley

My man, Pete! Thanks for the inspiration to start this site. I might have never done it if it weren’t for your encouraging words back in December 2006.

RVGFEx7

Ah yes, the Sega Saturn Saga. Thanks for the support William!

JANUARY 24, 2007

Hey Steven, nice place you put up here. Once I get the OPCFG back up and running, I’m definitely linking to you. Nice work!
~Rob Strangman

Rob! Thanks for inspiring me with the OPCFG. That was one of the earliest gaming fansites I can remember and it left an impression on me for sure.

RVGFEx8

Why thank you, Lis. Glad I was able to open you up to some of the “forgotten” games of the vast SNES library, such as Brandish and Hook. As long as I keep writing, I’ll maintain the passion!

FEBRUARY 14, 2007

I just wanted to drop you a line and tell you that I think your work so far is amazing. Your reviews are refreshingly free of laziness, even if the game isn’t particularly deserving of such overwhelming effort. Further, real life blog-ish entries like Jessie’s Girl and the second half of Santa Haas are truly touching. It’s always one of the highlights of my day when I can come home from work and find a juicy update or two.

Keep it up and please try to not get bored.
~Mercatfat

Brother, it’s now been 12 years. Guess I didn’t get bored after all ;)

RVGFEx5

Thank you Rich for the heartfelt message. I’m glad you’re able to relate and that so much of RVGFanatic resonates with you. I think there’s a bunch of us who grew up during the late ’80s to mid ’90s who share similar childhood memories. Ah yes, my Memories of Renting article was one of the earliest articles I wrote (March 2007) and remains a popular one to this day. Good times indeed.

MAY 10, 2007

Hi. Not sure how I stumbled across this site but bloody hell I’m glad I did. Kinda reminds me of a time in gaming when magazines like Mean Machines and Super Play were big, and sarcasm and humor played a big part of gaming journalism, before the 32-bit boom when everything started to get all serious. Good times. Anyways, rad site dude. Got it bookmarked.

Cheers.
-Butane Bob

I’m bloody hell glad you did as well ;)

RVGFEx6

Wow Mike. Bro, you and I go way back. Your sincere and genuine praise means a lot because I know you’re one that’s hard-pressed to impress. I’m glad RVGFanatic resonates so deeply with you. As I’ve found out through the years, although these stories are mine, many others have had similar experiences that helped to shape who they are as well. Rock on, brother.

JULY 28, 2008

I don’t know if I told you how much I love RVGFANATIC, but I’ll say it again if I hadn’t before. Even though they are your stories and memories, they really do evoke the nostalgia of my own SNES experiences. Thanks and keep the site going!
~Garin

Thank you Garin. I feel like we all had that one best friend, that one crazy uncle, or that one classic mom and pop shop where we rented games each weekend. Writing about such memories helps to keep them alive for not only myself and my readers but future generations as well.

RVGFEx21

Nice, a shout out from London! Ah yes, the long lasting summer evenings of childhood. There’s something profoundly serene about those magical nights from long ago. I’m glad my work is able to capture some of that!

RVGFEx23

Appreciate the kind words, Will. I’ll try to update even more frequently in 2019!

RVGFEx24

Hearing that my work reminds people of the glory days of EGM brings a virtual tear to my eye. I loved EGM and those old gaming magazines. If my work encapsulates even just a TINY bit of that ’90s magic, then mission accomplished!

RVGFEx22

I’m flattered. Thank you. Your compliments read just like an Amazon review! :P

RVGFEx19

We made it, Rob! 10 years, now 12 and counting. Where does the time go? It’s nuts that RVG is older than the 2009 photo challenge going around!

RVGPra2

VKC, you’ve been my biggest advocate (especially on Reddit) and I appreciate your support. It’s one thing to amuse and entertain, but it’s another to lift someone up. I can’t believe my gaming stories and memories have the power to do that for you but I am so happy that they do. Keep on trucking, bro!

RVGDale

RVGDale2

Thanks Dale for the amazing support! I’m glad RVGFanatic resonates with you and I’m humbled that you ranked it 9th on your top gaming highlights of the year.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

PlayMario

12 years in the game and counting — it’s been an incredible ride! So what’s next? The obvious answer is more SNES reviews and articles! I’m hoping to add some Switch reviews in 2019. I also want to write some more reviews for the Genesis, Saturn and Dreamcast even. But as always, the vision remains the same: commemorate the SNES by sharing my reviews and remembrances. The ultimate goal is launching my own personal SNES top list. It’s been 13 years in the making and I see myself hopefully getting that done in the next couple years or so. I’m really excited because it’s been my longest term project to date and has been my biggest goal with RVGFanatic since day one. I can’t wait to eventually share it. I also want to write more SNES articles in 2019 and beyond as those are always fun to write and read back. Here’s to another 12 years of RVGFanatic, and here’s to an awesome 2019 :)

Bonkers (SNES)

Pub & Dev: Capcom | October 1994 | 8 MEGS
Pub & Dev: Capcom | October 1994 | 8 MEGS

If asked to name a Super Nintendo game starring an anthropomorphic bobcat, chances are that most retro gamers would cite Bubsy. Well, Bubsy ain’t the only bobcat in town! Bonkers D. Bobcat is his name and preventing crime (in his own bumbling way) is his game. Developed by the almighty Capcom, who had an impressive track record with Disney licenses, surely we were in good hands. Surely, right? Right…

THE DISNEY AFTERNOON

DisAfter

Growing up in the early to mid ’90s was awesome. The Disney Afternoon ruled the airwaves on weekdays from 3 to 5 PM. With classic shows such as Duck Tales, Darkwing Duck, Gargoyles, Aladdin and Goof Troop just to name a small handful, the Disney Afternoon was a huge part of many childhoods. Bonkers was one of the lesser known entries; the Disney Afternoon was clearly on the decline by the time Bonkers made its debut. 61 episodes ran from February 28, 1993 to February 23, 1994.

THE STORY GOES…

One dark stormy night... [Of course, it had to be a dark stormy night -Ed.]
One dark stormy night…
[Of course it had to be a dark stormy night -Ed.]
Behold: Magic Lamp, Sorcerer’s Hat and Mermaid’s Voice!

"HE-HE-HE-HE!"
“HE-HE-HE-HE!”

Never trust a ghost with a mallet my dad always used to say.

DUN DUN DUN! Meanwhile, somewhere in the city...
DUN DUN DUN!

Lightning strikes and thunder rumbles… and of course, the prized treasures go missing! Meanwhile, somewhere in the city…

DisBonk4

DisBonk5

DisBonk6

DisBonk7

DisBonk8

DisBonk9

"Hey pal, I got way more PURRSONALITY than you!" -Bubsy
“Hey pal, I got way more purrsonality than you!” -Bubsy

THE GAME

I like the Salsa. Makes him dash a bit like Sonic
I like the salsa. Makes him dash a bit like Sonic…
Sonic the Hedgehog this ain't
… but Sonic the Hedgehog this ain’t

DisBonkEGM4

DisBonkEGM5

DisBonkEGM6

DisBonkEGM7

Pretty standard platforming 101 stuff here. You start out in the mansion and then have a choice between the studio, downtown and ocean liner stages. I recommend that order because the ocean liner level is the hardest. My favorite is the downtown one because there’s a lot to do there, such as dashing through glass barriers. After beating all 4 levels, it’s off to fight the Collector.

No, not this Collector (hello there Benicio Del Toro)
No, not this Collector (hello there Benicio Del Toro)
This guy
This guy

DisBonk11

After beating the Collector, you face off with the final boss. Pops Clock, like the rest of the game, is easy and it’s over in less than half an hour. Yeah, one can beat Bonkers in less than 30 minutes. This game is crazy short.

Less than half an hour, see?
Less than half an hour, see?

DisBonk17

Shades of Urkel and Carl Winslow
Shades of Urkel and Carl Winslow
Good times on Friday nights in the '90s
Good times on Friday nights in the ’90s
PS- look out for Donald & Mickey
PS- Look out for Donald & Mickey

GAME OVER MAN?!

DisBonkEGM3

Capcom has created some of the most memorable continue screens in gaming history. Who could ever forget Final Fight with the dynamite? Bonkers has a good one, too. Laugh at his jokes and continue. But don’t laugh and suffer the dire consequences. It’s a small touch but a nice one nonetheless.

It's OK... you certainly weren't alone... *evil grin*
Classic Capcom

WHAT THE CRITICS SAID

DisBonk12

Bonkers received fairly solid reviews in the press back in the fall of 1994. EGM gave it ratings of 7, 7, 7, 7 and 6. Super Play rated it 74%. However, many who have played it tend to agree that it’s easily Capcom’s weakest effort on the Super Nintendo. Not that it’s a bad game mind you. Just that nothing about it stands out in particular. A perfectly decent and serviceable platformer, then, but nothing more.

Definitely Capcom's least memorable Disney effort
Definitely Capcom’s least memorable Disney effort
Still perfectly playable though, if this is your thing
Still perfectly playable though, if this is your thing

CLOSING THOUGHTS

An effort that fell a little... flat
An effort that fell a little… flat

I never rented Bonkers back in the day but do recall seeing previews in EGM and GameFan. It wasn’t one of those SNES games I was clamoring to play, but a small part of me was naturally curious about it. Although I wasn’t a fan of the cartoon show, I am a big fan of platformers (even the simple ones). So when I finally played Bonkers more than 15 years after it was released, I was hoping to perhaps find an underrated, overlooked hidden gem. You don’t hear much about Bonkers in the SNES community. It rarely gets brought up in the discussion of good games, bad games or even games you might have missed. It’s just sort of… forgotten, a little bit. So I was somewhat excited to fire this game up for the first time back in 2011. Besides, coming from the almighty Capcom during their heyday, I expected at the very least a very solid platformer. Unfortunately, maybe Capcom’s C-staff was left in charge; Bonkers just feels a bit half-arsed. Graphics are decent enough, though not up to Capcom standards. The same can be said for the sound and gameplay. I expect more coming from Capcom, and I expect more from a Super Nintendo game that came out in late 1994.

Bonkers: Stuck in neutral
Bonkers is stuck in neutral

But to the game’s credit, it’s not like it disgraces Capcom or the SNES in the least. Details like slipping deeper into a Jell-O dessert the longer you stand on it show a flash of charm and that classic Capcom know how. But then the negatives come into play and overpower the few moments of quasi-brilliance. Such minuses include a dash feature which is a bit cumbersome to use, the game’s difficulty being laughably easy and the game being far too short. Not to mention there are dozens of SNES action games that does what Bonkers tried to do a whole lot better. After going through this game, I see why it rarely gets mentioned. It’s not good enough to be lumped into the overlooked, underrated or hidden gem category, yet it’s nowhere bad enough to be in the same group as say, an Ultraman or Pit Fighter. So its fate, then, is somewhere roughly right in the middle of the pack. Along with arguably about 100 other SNES games that are largely playable and even decent, but are ultimately forgettable.

Graphics: 7
Sound: 6
Gameplay: 6
Longevity: 5

Overall: 6.0

Wish I coulda said I went bonkers for Bonkers, but alas...
Wish I went bonkers for Bonkers but alas…

CopyCAT [I see what you did there -Ed.]
CopyCAT  [Har har -Ed.]
LTBBIn46

Power Lode Runner (SFC)

Pub: Nintendo | Dev: Atelier Double | 1.1.99
Pub: Nintendo | Dev: Atelier Double | January 1, 1999

Today (January 1, 2019) marks 20 years since Nintendo published a Super Famicom game by the name of Power Lode Runner. It was released only in Japan as a “Nintendo Power” cartridge, where players could download various games on said accessory. Thus, you won’t find an official cartridge of Power Lode Runner on the internet. Power Lode Runner is an update on the classic Lode Runner formula.

THE CLASSIC

35 years old and counting!
35 years old and counting!

Developed in 1983 by Douglas E. Smith, Lode Runner went on to become a smash success. Released in countless versions and on way too many platforms to name, Lode Runner is a classic action puzzle game with a simple premise that grows increasingly complex. Therein lies its brilliance!

Gotta love those old school gaming ads
Gotta love those old school gaming ads
Japan always did it crazier and wackier
Lode Runner was big everywhere, including Japan
From NES to Sega Saturn, so many variations exist
From NES to Sega Saturn, so many variations exist
Classic stuff
Classic stuff
Lode Runner Legacy is the latest variation
Lode Runner Legacy (2017) is the latest variation

*CUE MOVIE TRAILER VOICE GUY*

[Here we go again… *whips out big check* -Ed.]

IT IS AN ISLAND SATE WITH DANGER AND TRAPS…

PowLodRun

ER… THAT’S PRETTY MUCH ALL I GOT THIS WEEK.

*loud rumbling in the background, couple F-bombs and gunshots later*

Ahem, well I guess we won’t be hearing from Movie Trailer Voice Guy again. At any rate, Power Lode Runner is a curiosity and an oddity indeed. Released on New Year’s Day 1999 (happy 20th anniversary), this version of Lode Runner is a bit more modernized though it plays much the same as ones before it. “B” digs a hole in the ground to your left while “A” digs a hole to your right. Trap a bad guy and safely walk over their head. Collect the items necessary to unlock the next level. Control a blue rabbit-like animal, named Muguru-kun, and go through all manner of themes. There are 3 different worlds you can select from the very beginning, with themes changing every 5 levels. Let’s take a look at some of the worlds.

WORLD ONE

The world shots look great!
The world shots look great!

I love the art style here. Muguru-kun is adorable and has a unique look that screams “leading mascot potential.” Kinda makes me long for a platformer starring him!

PowLodRun3

To your bottom left is the map (which can be switched off) and to your bottom right is the item count (in yellow) required before being able to leave that stage. Touch the logs encased in the bubble there, leaving you with 3 left to collect.

Youll do plenty of climbing
You’ll do plenty of climbing
Small touches make it fun to play
Small touches make it fun to play

I appreciate games with sensible mechanics which allow the player to be efficient. There’s no need to climb down a tree, not when you can slide off at a moment’s notice. Grab your second item. 2 down, 2 to go!

Quit monkeying around
Quit monkeying around

Those are the BAD guys?! Why yes. In this theme, those rather innocent looking monkeys are the source of danger. Each theme, which alters every 5 levels, is home to its own unique enemies.

Monkey See, Monkey Die
Monkey See, Monkey Die

Applying some good ol’ Lode Runner know how will make quick work of them.

There's sneaky contestant #3
There’s sneaky contestant #3
Rope underneath? Fall down
Rope underneath? Fall down
Good way to evade bad guys
It works well to evade bad guys
A lone monkey tries to thwart ya
A lone monkey tries to thwart ya
I'm walking on sunshine whoa oh And don't it feel good HEY!
“I’m walking on sunshine whoa oh!
And don’t it feel good HEY!”
Last one!
Last one!
Home sweet home
Home sweet home

You’ll spot a giant teddy bear head throughout each level. That marks the stage’s exit point. After collecting all the items needed, stand by the giant teddy bear face and it’ll swallow you whole, taking you to the next stage. Cute, yet slightly disturbing. Let’s look at some other levels from this first world.

Sometimes it's easy like such
Sometimes it’s easy like such
This part is really fun to navigate
This part is really fun to navigate
Look out for barbaric beavers
Look out for barbaric beavers
A little spooky here, sans Teddy
Dang, only 2 out of 7 items

Spotting Teddy does squat if you haven’t collected all of the items necessary. In such cases, it’s time to backtrack to find those missing pieces.

"So... you come here often?" "Yeah, great place to hang out."
“So… you come here often?”
“Yeah, great place to hang out.”
Metal parts are unbreakable
Metal parts are unbreakable
Incoming!
Incoming!

Bad guys can throw various objects at you. You’re momentarily stunned if hit, but thankfully it doesn’t mean automatic death.

"Ninety-eight... niiiinety-niiiine..."
“Ninety-eight… niiiinety-niiiine…”
Try to catch me, Donkey Kong!
Try to catch me, Donkey Kong!

Evading enemies left and right, weaving through them and going from point A to point B is quite satisfying. You can really get in the zone and develop a great rhythm that makes Power Lode Runner a really fun game to play.

WORLD TWO

So freakin' gorgeous
So freakin’ gorgeous
Cover up, it's flu season!
Cover up, it’s flu season!
"I'M TOO OLD FOR THIS SHIT!"
“I’M TOO OLD FOR THIS SHIT!”

WORLD THREE

Evokes so much adventure
Evokes such a grand adventure

It does, doesn’t it? Makes one yearn for an actual platformer game starring the ever lovable Muguru-kun. There’s a sense of adventure and stealth that gets the ol’ heart pumping.

Look out for crabs and ghosts
Look out for crabs and… ghosts?!
Muguru-kun is a trained professional. Kids, do NOT try this at home
Muguru-kun is a trained pro.
Kids, do NOT try this at home

CLOSING THOUGHTS

PowLodRun30

Power Lode Runner is just a simple and enjoyable action puzzle affair. It celebrates 20 years today, and although you can’t get it officially on cartridge, there are of course various ways to still play it. And that I recommend you do, especially if these old school action puzzle games appeal to you. And if you like this game, I also suggest checking out another 1999 Super Famicom hit in the form of Power Soukoban (another modern spin on a classic formula). I slightly prefer Power Lode Runner over Lode Runner Twin. Power Lode Runner has Lode Runner Twin beat on visuals, sound and gameplay. The level design and enemy roster is also better as it oozes with more creativity and charm. Of course, you can’t go wrong with either.

PS- Happy 2019 to everyone out there! Speaking of anniversaries, can you believe RVGFanatic will turn 12 years old in less than a week from now? Insanity. Here’s to more SNES goodness in 2019 :)

Batman Returns (SNES)

Pub & Dev: Konami | April 1993 | 8 MEGS
Pub & Dev: Konami | April 1993 | 8 MEGS

Based upon the 1992 summer blockbuster of the same name, Batman makes his SNES debut in memorable fashion. Batman was a hot commodity in the early ’90s so it was only a matter of time before the dark knight, under the proud banner of Konami, would soon descend upon the SNES. Konami boasted an impressive track record with smash hits such as Axelay, Contra III: The Alien Wars, Gradius III, Legend of the Mystical Ninja, Super Castlevania IV and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time. Therefore Batman Returns was in good hands, and poised to be Konami’s next epic SNES classic. Right? But first…

A GLORIOUS RETURN

batman-returns-movie-poster

Tim Burton’s Batman Returns was made on a budget of 80 million and grossed a whopping 267 million worldwide. It garnered the 3rd highest gross for movies in North America in 1992 at 162.8 million. #2 was Home Alone 2: Lost in New York at 173.5 million and the kingpin that year was Aladdin, which grossed a staggering 217.3 million. In terms of worldwide dominance, Batman Returns ranked 6th overall in 1992.

Whoa, that's no Mr. Mom...
Whoa, that’s no Mr. Mom

Being a proven property and coming off a massive hit, it was inevitable that video game adaptations would soon follow. Back in 1992, two mega titans were battling it out for 16-bit supremacy: the Sega Genesis and the Super Nintendo. Malibu developed the Genesis game while Konami handled the Super Nintendo end. Both games were quite different, and consensus says that SNES owners won out with the (far) superior version. But of course, your mileage may vary.

batmanreturnsmov

It’s fitting that I’m writing this late on Christmas evening. I just spent the bulk of the day hanging out with family and playing games on the Switch with my cousin, David. We enjoyed bouts of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and Shock Troopers. Anyway, I say fitting because Batman Returns has a very festive atmosphere. Well, at least as festive as Gotham City can get. The SNES game follows suit and is quite faithful to its source material. Playing Batman Returns this time of the year is very fitting, indeed. What a shame, then, that it’s only 1-player. But I suppose it wouldn’t make sense to throw Robin in there since he wasn’t in the 1992 film.

Even the intro is festive!
Even the intro is festive!
I love the falling snow effect
I love the falling snow effect
Dark is the knight...
Dark is the knight…

THE STORY GOES…

BatRet3

Horrified by the disfigurement of their son, Oswald Cobblepot’s parents tossed Oswald and his carriage into the Gotham River.

BatRet2

The carriage floated down the storm drain and ended up in Arctic World, part of the old Gotham Zoo. There he was rescued by four Emperor penguins, and they quickly forged a bond…

Jesus Christ...
Jesus Christ…

BatRet5

The denizens of Gotham City have reported spotting a strange looking man prowling around. Almost more like a creature of the night…

Who is this creepy man?
Who is this creepy man?

BatRet7

It is, of course, none other than Oswald Cobblepot. Now known as The Penguin, he wishes to rule Gotham’s criminal underworld.

But an avenging angel awaits
But an avenging angel awaits

BatRet12

Selina Kyle was once a quiet secretary working under the thumb of Max Shreck, a very powerful businessman. That was before she transformed into the Catwoman!

BatRet13

The Penguin has special plans for Gotham City, but Batman has other ideas. Something has to give one way or another…

... oh my! [You been waiting to do that one, huh? -Ed.]
… oh my!  [You been waiting to say that, huh? -Ed.]
Whenever this appears...
Whenever this appears…
HE appears
HE appears

BatRet16

BatRet8

BatRet15

THE GAME

Batman comes swooping in
Batman comes swooping in
Here comes the welcoming party
Here comes the welcoming party
Welcome THIS!
Welcome THIS!

The action starts out hot in Gotham Plaza where the Red Triangle Circus Gang launches an unsuspecting attack on the city’s Christmas festival.

Love the scurrying family. Nice touch
Love the scurrying family. Nice
This bat don't play
This bat don’t play

Batman’s brutality knows no bounds. You can slam bad guys against the wall or even through glass windows! You can even throw a bad guy into his buddy, taking out both at once.

Hey look...
Hey look…
... it's a 2-for-1 special!
… it’s a 2-for-1 special
Combatribes says hi
The Combatribes says hi
Not the brightest dudes around...
Not the brightest dudes around…

There’s a small variety of different clowns to beat up. One of them is the bazooka clown, whose missiles can actually harm their own. I love it when video games allow bad guys to accidentally hurt each other. It makes it feel a little more realistic and definitely a lot more enjoyable.

Bleak, gloomy and grim.  Captures Gotham perfectly
Bleak, gloomy and grim. Captures Gotham perfectly

The game does a good job of matching the gritty feel and somber mood of the movie. Back in the early ’90s, more often than not it seemed, movie-to-game adaptations didn’t have the best track record. But Batman Returns on the SNES did not fall victim to that.

"Alright I guess we're doing this the HARD WAY then..."
“Alright I guess we’re doing this the HARD WAY then…”

BatRet25

Even the cutscenes have this grittiness to them that perfectly replicates the seediness of Gotham City.

"YOU AGAIN?! Lady, go home and stay there!"
“YOU AGAIN?! Lady, go home and stay there!”

Or you don't get no spendin' cash If you don't scrub that kitchen floor You ain't gonna rock and roll no more YAKETY YAK! [Don't talk back -Ed.]
Or you don’t get no spendin’ cash
If you don’t scrub that kitchen floor
You ain’t gonna rock and roll no more
YAKETY YAK!
[Don’t talk back -Ed.]
The visuals were striking, especially for April 1993. Sprites are huge and clutter the screen. I love the little touches sprinkled in here and there as well, like those giant statues for instance. Just like the ones from the film!

Ah, the point where the game goes downhill a bit...
Ah, the point where the game goes downhill a bit…

Batman Returns has certain sections that force you into a single plane. These segments limit your ability to move around and avoid enemy attacks. It is a bit infuriating and certainly not as fun as the free roaming sections of the game. In this scene, you’ll have to attack with your trusty Batarang projectiles. These sections feel a bit stiff, sluggish and stilted.

A+++ for presentation though
A+++ for presentation though

BatRet30

Another tricky platforming bit that isn't super great
Another tricky platforming bit that isn’t super great
Gotham's teeming with creeps and clowns
Gotham’s teeming with creeps and clowns

Thankfully, we soon get back to the regular beat ‘em up bits. This is one of my favorite parts of the game. Snow litters the street as innocent chubby children scurry away to safety. Crazy clowns abound. Dark alleys around. Good stuff!

"C'mon fatty, we all know you can't read anyway!" [Smart, agitate the big strong mad man -Ed.]
“C’mon fatty, we all know you can’t read anyway!”
[Yeah, let’s not try to agitate the big strong freak -Ed.]
At the end of this level you come to a towering bloke reading the paper. Every evil operation needs some muscle. Welcome to the muscle. It won’t be long before he rips the paper to shreds and then rips your own damn head right off!

BatRet34

What scenes of spiraling madness await beyond this? Play it and see for yourself…

“I AM BRUCE WAYNE!!”

BMReturnsMK

Back in the summer of 2011, I organized a volunteering event with some friends of mine. We were going to feed the homeless and wash their feet. It was a humbling experience that I’ll never forget. The first man whose feet I washed told me right off the bat, pardon the pun, that his name is Bruce Wayne. Furthermore, he claimed to be THE Batman. Naturally, I thought he was joking, possibly even crazy. As I washed his feet, “Bruce” shared childhood stories of his father with me. He worked 29 years in the truck driving business and spoke fondly of his dreams growing up. Didn’t take long for me to realize that he was actually quite normal but had a few bad breaks in life. At the end he thanked me for the foot washing and started to leave.

No youre not. Oh wait, you are?!
No you’re not. Oh wait, you are?!

Suddenly he stopped and turned back to me. He reached in his pocket, fishing for something. Then he showed me his identification card. SON OF A BITCH. Sure enough, there it was, clear as day. Name: BRUCE WAYNE. He wasn’t lying, he really was Bruce Wayne. He flashed me a little grin and I returned the gesture as we nodded before he walked out. Later I spoke with the coordinator and she explained to me that Bruce is a regular and how his Batman persona is his own personal way of coping with being homeless. Wow. It’s deeper than just “Oh, this dude’s a crazy homeless guy.” The experience reminded me not to judge a book by its cover and to walk a mile in someone’s shoes — or wash their feet — before you decide what their story is.

BruceWaynePrays

WHAT THE CRITICS SAID

BatReDuck

Batman Returns fared well with the critics. EGM’s Martin Alessi rated it 85% while Howard Grossman scored it at 86%. GameFan gave it ratings of 84, 85, 92 and a whopping 97%. Super Play, notorious for giving beat ‘em ups a hard time, rated it 87%. Batman Returns owns the distinct honor of being the highest rated SNES beat ‘em up in Super Play history. The SNES version of Batman Returns has a favorable reception with fans as gamers often rave about Batman Returns as being one of the better beat ‘em ups in the SNES library. By most accounts it was yet another Konami smash hit. Talk about having the Midas touch!

The best rated beat 'em up in Super Play lore
The best rated beat ‘em up in Super Play lore

CLOSING THOUGHTS

BatRet35

I have to be honest, I’m not too crazy about Batman Returns. I know most people rave about it like it’s something epic but I just didn’t quite click with this one as I was hoping to. I think it’s a good game but not a great one, which most people seem to think it is. By no means am I saying my opinion is right and theirs is wrong. That would be silly. I’m simply saying that for me, Batman Returns is a case of diminishing returns. It starts off with a bang. You’re in the seedy streets of Gotham, kicking clown butt at every turn and throwing them through windows, even bashing their heads together. It’s all very satisfying indeed.

BatRetEx5

But then come the single plane sections which are a lot more restrictive and I feel are just not very fun. I even detected a slight bit of input lag, but maybe that’s just me. The platforming felt a bit clunky, too. The Mode-7 Batmobile stage, although it looks great in a still screenshot, is more of a chore to play than it is a good time. Some of the boss battles, especially Catwoman and The Penguin, felt very unfair. I took a lot of seemingly mandatory hits I just couldn’t avoid (particularly with The Penguin in his Mary Poppins form). I don’t mind a hard challenge but unavoidable hits is just plain annoying and spoils the overall experience a bit.

BatRetEx2

I wanted to like Batman Returns so much, and in certain parts I really do. Namely any part that was free roaming and allowed me to just beat up clowns in the good old fashioned beat ‘em up way. Not a fan of the cheap boss fights, Batmobile, platforming or single plane sections as they really detracted from the overall package for me. I can see why many rave about this game — it packs a punch visually, sounds great and is very faithful to its source material. But I just can’t give it an enthusiastic thumbs up; it contains a few too many warts and niggles for me to overlook. At the end of the day it’s still a quality Konami product and a solid example of a movie-to-game adaptation done right. But there’s a reason why — although many do like it a lot — Batman Returns isn’t quite in the same pantheon as some of Konami’s previous SNES classics.

Graphics: 9
Sound: 9
Gameplay: 7
Longevity: 6

Overall: 7.0

I didn't do cartwheels over this game [Har har -Ed.]
I didn’t do cartwheels over this game…
Batman: I’m tired of clowning around!

Clown: Really, you? You’re one to talk, Mister! Look, if you returned in 1992, then how, pray tell, OH HOW did you begin in 2005?! What are you, some sort of magician?! Penn and Teller? David Copperfield? Can’t make up your bloody mind, can ya! You’re the one who needs to stop clownin’ round! Just WHO ARE YOU EH!?!

Batman: You need serious help. Here, let me give you a hand…

SNES Party Games

There's nothing like gaming with family and friends
There’s nothing like gaming with family and friends

The SNES is my favorite system of all time, and one of the many reasons why I love it so much is because of all the great multiplayer games. While there are a ton of amazing 2-player SNES games, the focus here is specifically on Super Nintendo titles that allow 4 (or more) players to duke it out (or in some cases, work together). There’s something about being in a room with a group of friends playing the same game together. There’s an innocence and magic to it that will never fade away.

Tangled cords and bruised egos... ahhh
Tangled cords and bruised egos… ahhh

I have so many fond memories of the many party sessions I’ve had over the years with the SNES. It’s fitting that I’m writing this article so close to Christmas as the holiday season tends to bring people together. It’s the perfect excuse to bust out the Super Nintendo and play some old (or newfound) favorites with your loved ones.

I LOVE ME SOME FOUR-PLAY

SuperMultitap

First, make sure you have one of these multitap adapters. There are lots of models but these are just a few examples.

MultitapSNES2

You’ll need one if you wish to play any of the following games with 3 or more friends.

This is the one I use
The one I use personally

HONORABLE MENTIONS

FotBSNES3

There are many great 2-player SNES games out there, from Super Mario Kart to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time. The list goes on and on. That’s a story article for another day. For now the focus is squarely on games that allow 4 or more to play. There’s always room however to quickly acknowledge those that didn’t quite make the cut but are noteworthy nonetheless. The following 3 games deserve a shout out since they each support up to 3 players. Not quite 4, last I checked anyhow, but close. Hence, my honorable mentions are as follows…

CRYSTAL BEANS: FROM DUNGEON EXPLORER

CrystalBeansMP

Funky subtitle aside, Crystal Beans is a simple and enjoyable overhead action RPG with elements similar to Gauntlet. It has 8 characters (of varying classes) to select from and best of all, it supports up to 3 players. It only came out in Japan but there’s an English translation patch available for those interested. Not the best game but it can easily eat up a weekend or two especially if you have a few buds willing to join in.

SECRET OF MANA

SoMMP

There’s a reason why Secret of Mana is so revered within retro gaming circles. Even 25 years later, it resonates with an entire generation that grew up glued to the screen vanquishing the latest creatures and critters. Doing it with 2 friends by your side, at a time where a 3-player mode in an action RPG was unheard of, made the experience even more irresistibly awesome.

SEIKEN DENSETSU 3

SoM2MP

Seiken Densetsu 3, AKA Secret of Mana 2, came out exclusively in Japan. Thankfully, an English fan translation has allowed gamers worldwide to experience this phenomenal action RPG in all its glory. On top of that, a 3rd player option was graciously added in as well.

4 OR MORE

4PlayerLogo

In this article (that I’ve wanted to write for over a decade now), I’ll share some of my favorite SNES party games. I’ll also list some I’m not too crazy about knowing that everyone’s mileage will vary. Some games listed are super well known while others are a lot more obscure. Not every 4+ player game on the SNES has been cited; the list is far too long so I’ve chosen only those that I wish to highlight. With that said, let’s dive in!

BAKUTO! DOCHERS

BakutBM

I remember seeing Bakuto! Dochers in the pages of EGM in 1994 and being excited. A Bomberman clone but with cute animals? Sold! It does some unique things: 3 hits to die, 20 battle zones (although many look samey) and cannon fodder enemies litter the field even in the 4-player battle mode. But sadly, it’s just not fun. It’s hard to botch the Bomberman formula but somehow Bakuto! BOTCHERS managed to do so :(

BARKLEY SHUT UP AND JAM!

BarkSUAJ

A homeless man’s NBA Jam, Barkley Shut Up and Jam isn’t very good but it can be a guilty pleasure. If you and your buds have a burning desire to use Charles Barkley and a bunch of fictional playground legends, this could be your jam. Pun partially intended.

BATTLE CROSS

BattleCross3

Bomberman meets Mario Kart… kinda. The closest thing to that on the SNES, anyhow. Battle Cross is a 6-player single screen racer, although only 5 humans can play (kind of a shame they didn’t take advantage of that sixth slot). There’s a lot to like here. Whether it’s the cartoonish graphics, the insane customization, or the pure satisfaction of placing a land mine underneath an overpass to blow up unsuspecting foes, Battle Cross is a hit at retro gaming parties.

BOMBERMAN B-DAMAN SERIES

BombBDaman

The great Ric Flair once said, “To B-Daman, you gotta Beat-Daman! WOO!!” Many folks know about the great Super Bomberman titles on the SNES, but not many know about the B-Daman series which came out only in Japan. It deviates from the classic formula but still has its own 4-player battle mode. In the first B-Daman game, players can’t die. Instead, the goal is to score as many hits as possible within the time limit. It’s not nearly as fun as the classic Bomberman titles but that’s a given thanks to the restrictions at play here, such as being conformed to your side of the wall and having limited movement.

BombBDaman2

The sequel, Bakukyu Rennpatsu!! Super B-Daman, is an improved effort but still feels like a lightweight novelty. Players are no longer restricted to rails and can freely move about. The goal is to push all the other people off the field and be the last (bomber)man standing. It’s nice to see them try something different but you’re better off sticking to the classic Bomberman games.

BS OUT OF BOUNDS GOLF

bsoobg42

Of all the games on this list, BS Out of Bounds Golf is perhaps the most fun and cutthroat party game of them all. It’s a blast and has to be experienced with 4 players. The amount of sabotaging and trash talking that naturally occurs is a thing of beauty. And because players take turns, there is ample opportunity to scout and plot out your plan of attack. It’s one of those special games that anyone can pick up and play, and it will appeal even to non-gamers. A magical unicorn, indeed.

CAPCOM’S SOCCER SHOOTOUT

CSSOMP

Not the best soccer game on this list, but a very competent and enjoyable one. Most noteworthy of all, Capcom’s Soccer Shootout has an indoor mode where the arena is shrunken down and the ball bounces off the wall for continuous play. Intense mode, especially with 4 players!

CHIBI MARUKO CHAN: MEZASE MINAMI NO ISLAND

ChibiIsla

A strange 4-player game where you throw balls at the opposition in various arenas. Simple but loads of fun. Quirky games like this with oddball Japanese humor are always a guilty pleasure. Chibi Maruko Chan: Mezase Minami no Island is rather obscure and (sadly) rarely talked about. Check it out if you’re looking for something a little different for your next retro gaming party.

CORON LAND

CoronMP

Speaking of not getting enough love, Coron Land is another obscure Super Famicom oddity that rarely ever gets mentioned. Blow and throw bubbles. It’s quirky and charming in its own unique way.

DREAM BASKETBALL: DUNK & HOOP

dreamcourt3

If you’re like me and have fond memories of playing pickup basketball from way back in the day, then Dream Basketball: Dunk & Hoop is sure to take you right back to your blacktop days. There’s a clunky 5-on-5 full court mode but the 3-on-3 street ball mode, being half court and having less sprites onscreen, is where Dream Basketball shines brightest. A rare gem for those not opposed to playing arcade-like sports games that are a quarter of a century old.

FIGHTER’S HISTORY: MIZOGUCHI KIKI IPPATSU!!

fighters-history-mizoguchi-kikiippatsu-j_00083

This is the only fighting game on the SNES that allows 4-players to play with a tag out feature. Pretty neat! Besides, who doesn’t want to play as Karnov?

FIRE STRIKER

FireStrikerMP

Part Zelda and part Arkanoid, Fire Striker contains a 2-on-2 mode where teams of two battle for supremacy. The physics are a little off but it’s still a blast.

AJ Styles recently snagged a copy on Up Up Down Down
AJ Styles recently sang its praises on Up Up Down Down
Shout out to Xavier Woods, AKA Austin Creed! I met him last week and he was a super cool guy. And speaking of professional wrestling...
Shout out to Xavier Woods, AKA Austin Creed!
I met him last week and he was super cool.
And speaking of professional wrestling…

GEKITOU BURNING PRO WRESTLING

GekitouBPWMP

With over 115 wrestlers ready to be used and 800 different moves at your disposal, Burning Pro Wrestling is quite the package. It features real athletes from many different styles such as Puroresu, Lucha Libre and K-1 just to name a few. Play as or beat up the likes of Bret Hart, Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, Ric Flair, Sting, The Undertaker and many more. The Battle Royal features up to 18 wrestlers and a grand total of 6 wrestlers can litter the ring. Fun stuff!

GO! GO! DODGE LEAGUE

GoGoDLMP

As if you can’t tell from the screenshot above, Go! Go! Dodge League is loosely based on dodgeball and doesn’t follow the conventional rules of the sport. It’s not the best game around but it has enough wacky Japanese charm to put a smile on your face.

HAT TRICK HERO 2

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Originally set for a US release as Super Soccer Champ 2, it was eventually scrapped. Released only in Japan as Hat Trick Hero 2, this is a fast scrolling arcade brand of soccer that features super power kicks. Worth a look if you love retro 4-player soccer games.

INTERNATIONAL SUPERSTAR SOCCER DELUXE

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The best soccer game on the SNES, hands (feet?) down, is made even better when experienced in glorious 4-player mode.

LOONEY TUNES B-BALL

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Even more outlandish than NBA Jam and arguably just as fun, Looney Tunes B-Ball is a sheer blast. Name another zany basketball game where you can drop a 16 ton weight on someone’s head or summon lightning to zap suckers into smithereens… you can’t!

MADDEN SERIES

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Madden Football isn’t the first game I think of when it comes to multiplayer affairs. But the ’94-’98 editions all allow up to 5 players. If you’re craving pigskin of the 16-bit variety, this might do the trick.

MICRO MACHINES SERIES

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Race your favorite miniature toy cars around 28 different tracks. These include a pool table, the living room floor and even your neighbor’s flower garden. The sequel, Micro Machines 2: Turbo Tournament, featured even more vehicles and tracks and was released only in Europe.

NBA GIVE ‘N GO

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NBA Give ‘N Go lacks blazing speed but makes up for it with an impeccable arcade-like feel. The presentation is a slam dunk and the wacky announcer will make you feel like you’re back at the arcades. Give ‘N Go is based after all on Run and Gun, Konami’s arcade smash hit.

NBA HANG TIME

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If you can look past its terrible aesthetics, NBA Hang Time gets the job done in 4-player mode.

NBA JAM SERIES

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BOOM SHAKALAKA! NBA Jam and more specifically, NBA Jam: Tournament Edition, rules the roost when its comes to 4-player basketball games on the SNES. Best of all, NBA Jam TE is just as fun to play today as it was 25 years ago.

NBA LIVE SERIES

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The NBA Live franchise blends simulation and arcade-like play extremely well. The ’95-’98 editions allow up to 5 players, with ’97 and ’98 featuring 2-on-2 and 3-on-3 modes for more intimate contests.

NHL SERIES

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NHL ’94 is the best of the lot and has 5-player capability. Oddly, only 2 players can play NHL ’95-’97. NHL ’98 went back to 5 players but stick with the original; it’s pure hockey bliss that can’t be beat.

N-WARP DAISAKUSEN

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The only 8-player game (!) on this list, N-Warp Daisakusen is certainly a curiosity. Developed in 2008 as a homebrew title, this simplistic melee brawler sets out to see who will be the last man standing.

OTOBOKE NINJA COLOSSEUM

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A Bomberman clone with a delightful twist. Rather than bombs, players set down capsules. Shurikens shoot out in all 4 directions. Get hit and you’re temporarily frozen. You lose only if someone hits you with their ball and chain while being suspended in animation. With a lens geared toward stealth and capitalizing on mistakes, Otoboke Ninja Colosseum makes for a fantastic 4-player romp.

PEACE KEEPERS

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The only beat ‘em up on this list! But sadly, 4 players can only duke it out in a special self-contained mode. Give Peace Keepers some credit but it’s a limited novelty at best. It’s a shame none of the SNES beat ‘em ups allow for 4-player cooperative play but that’s understandable given the hardware limitations.

PIECES

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Up to 5 people can work together to solve puzzles of various kinds. Pieces is perfect for younger and less experienced players such as little nieces and nephews.

PUZZLE’N DESU!

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An adorable Bomberman clone where you push blocks to subdue your opponents. One of my readers recently dubbed this game “Gnome Squish” which fits it perfectly! An absolute blast in 4-player mode.

SATURDAY NIGHT SLAM MASTERS

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My friends and I spent so many Saturday nights back in the summer of 1994 playing this. Frenetic, chaotic and always entertaining, Saturday Night Slam Masters was born to be a 4-player slobber knocker.

SHIN NIPPON PRO WRESTLING ’95: TOKYO DOME BATTLE 7

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Not as good or fun as Saturday Night Slam Masters but not a bad alternative. The visuals are on point and it’s always fun to kick some ass with either Great Sasuke or Jushin Thunder Liger!

SPARK WORLD

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Bomberman but with cars. It’s super blatant but also super fun. A few slight tweaks here and there, like 2 hits to die, help to make it not a complete carbon copy. Sorry.

SPORTING NEWS BASEBALL

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Sporting News Baseball holds the distinct honor of being the only North American SNES baseball game to support 4 players. You and a friend take turns batting on offense and on defense one pitches while the other plays defense. And hey, any excuse to play ball on the Field of Dreams cornfield sounds good to me!

STREET RACER

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Street Racer is no Mario Kart 2 but it’s an admirable effort. 24 tracks, 8 drivers and plenty of zany 4-player modes!

SUGOI HEBEREKE

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Smash and bash your way to victory in Sunsoft’s melee brawler. Sugoi Hebereke is a bit like Super Smash Bros. in some ways and is worth checking out, especially if you have retro gaming buddies to play it with.

SUPER BOMBERMAN SERIES

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Super Bomberman is the classic and quintessential party game on the SNES. All you needed back in 1993 was a copy of this game, a multitap, 4 controllers and 3 friends. My friends and I spent countless Saturday nights back in ’93 blowing each other up and loving every second of it.

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Super Bomberman 2 included a tag team mode. I prefer the original but you can’t go wrong with this one.

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Super Bomberman 3 came out only in Europe and Japan. It’s most notable for introducing mad bombers, animal friends (granting you an extra life and special abilities) and raising the player count from 4 to 5.

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Super Bomberman 4 was released only in Japan. Like pizza, you really can’t go wrong with any of the 16-bit Bomberman games.

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Super Bomberman 5 is my favorite of the 16-bit Bomberman games that didn’t come out in North America. And overall, I’d rank it second only to the classic original.

SUPER BOMBERMAN PANIC BOMBER WORLD

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Did you know there was a Bomberman puzzle game on the Super Famicom? And of course, it naturally features a 4-player mode. As the cool kids might say, this game is lit yo. Geddit? Sorry.

SUPER FAMILY TENNIS

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I love this game so much that I ranked it #2 on my top 50 favorite obscure Super Famicom games list. Super Family Tennis is full of charm and never fails to leave me feeling satisfied. 4-player doubles is where it’s at!

SUPER FINAL MATCH TENNIS

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Developed by HUMAN (creators of the beloved Fire Pro series), Super Final Match Tennis nails down the presentation but something about the gameplay is slightly off. There’s still some merit here but you’re probably better off playing Super Family Tennis instead. Still, it’s nice to have options.

SUPER FIRE PRO WRESTLING X PREMIUM

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Speaking of which, Super Fire Pro Wrestling X Premium is the final and best Fire Pro entry on the Super Nintendo. For the past 20+ years, the fabled Fire Pro franchise has been a staple among wrestling video game fans. While this edition may be primitive by comparison, it was revolutionary back in 1996 and remains just as enjoyable today.

SUPER PUYO PUYO TSUU REMIX

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There’s nothing like an intense 4-player Puyo Puyo match. This has the potential to ruin relationships, so proceed with caution.

SUPER TEKKYU FIGHT!

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On the surface it looks like yet another Bomberman clone. But dig a little deeper and you’ll find an interesting alternative. Flip tiles and jump on opponents to stun them, and then attack them with your trusty spiky ball. Super Tekkyu Fight! is an obscure hidden gem worthy of a spot in your retro gaming party collection.

SUPER TETRIS 3

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4-player Tetris, bitches. ‘Nuff said!

TINY TOONS WACKY SPORTS CHALLENGE

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Due to the hodgepodge of mini games, some have likened this as a precursor to Mario Party. You’ll like this if that’s your thing.

TOP GEAR 3000

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Many folks are familiar with Top Gear as it was one of the earlier SNES hits back in the day. Top Gear 3000 on the other hand is fairly obscure, receiving a quiet release with very little fanfare in early 1995. It’s most notable for its quirky 4-player split screen.

WORMS

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Released only in Europe, Worms is classic turn-based artillery multiplayer tactical warfare at its finest. Randomly generated deformable landscapes only add to the fun and strategy of it all. Sure, this first entry in the longstanding franchise may seem a bit outdated to some, but it’s where it all started. I can appreciate that. Besides, who can say no to blowing up worms via TNT?

WWF RAW

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Earlier this year Monday Night Raw celebrated 25 years. I remember those early Raw episodes well; every Monday night was must-see TV. But I digress. An improvement over WWF Royal Rumble, WWF Raw is the best WWF game on the SNES. But that’s only because we never got WWF WrestleFest!

ZEN NIPPON PRO WRESTLING 2: 3-4 BUDOKAN

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The Zen Nippon series gets forgotten about at times, and in my book is right up there with the fabled Fire Pro franchise as far as great wrestling games go. This is the last and best of the Zen Nippon series on the SNES. The Fatal 4-Way match is an absolute riot. Lots of fun await if you and your buddies enjoy classic retro wrestling games.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

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Nothing will ever replace the sheer joy of playing a game huddled around your buddies in the same room. Not to mention all the silly trash talking and good-natured taunting that comes with the territory. It’s all part of the charm! There’s something special and magical about those gaming sessions that I recall with a deep fondness, and I always look forward to future gaming gatherings. The SNES has plenty of great 4-player games that would steal the show at any retro gaming party. I hope this list serves you well and gives you some new games to try out with your loved ones. Feel free to comment below too — glaring omissions perhaps or games you enjoy best from this list. Happy gaming, and happy holidays!

Let the good times roll :)
Let the good times roll :)

Rocky Rodent (SNES)

Pub & Dev: Irem | September 1993 | 8 MEGS
Pub & Dev: Irem | September 1993 | 8 MEGS

The Super Nintendo is home to dozens and dozens of platformers. As with any genre, it comes with a wide range of quality. Some are well known and excellent (Donkey Kong Country, Super Mario World) while others are a bit more obscure and not too shabby in their own right (Dino City, Harley’s Humongous Adventure, Hook). Then there are downright awful ones that are better off forgotten about. It was merely a sign of the times. Speaking of which, the early-mid ’90s became the age of the me too mascot platformer. Sonic the Hedgehog created a massive stir when it became a mega smash hit for Sega in 1991 and had countless companies clamoring to throw their name in the hat with their own mascot platformer. Animals with attitude were the order of the day and Irem was no different when they released Rocky Rodent. The question is, does Rocky Rodent make the grade? Let’s find out.

Look what you did, Sonic
Look what you did, Sonic

25 YEARS OF… NITRO PUNKS?!

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Exactly 25 years ago today, Nitro Punks: Might Heads (what a title) hit the Japanese market. July 30, 1993-July 30, 2018. Yet another game from my youth turns 25 — gawd damn I’m getting old. Nitro Punks was renamed Rocky Rodent and was released in North America during the fall of ’93. I remember seeing Rocky Rodent in various game rental stores throughout my area in late ’93. I never got to rent it but I always wanted to. Alas, you know how older brothers often get their way, and sadly for me, Rocky Rodent never piqued my brother’s renting interest. The box of Rocky Rodent would come to haunt me as its titular rodent would seemingly sneer at me at every turn. In my own mind I envisioned Rocky Rodent being a pretty fun and competent platformer. It became one of many SNES childhood curiosities I would finally quell following my SNES resurrection in early 2006. Sometimes, your gut was right all along. Other times, not so much. Which one you gonna be, Rocky?

Spoiler: Pretty close to my gut feeling back in 93!
Spoiler: Pretty close to my gut feeling back in ’93!
Happy 25th nevertheless!
Happy 25th Rocky!

HAIR TODAY, GONE TOMORROW

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Various spray cans litter the stages waiting to be picked up. Each hairdo not only grants Rocky certain abilities but an extra life as well (Rocky dies if he’s hit when bald). It’s a pretty cool gimmick although you can still hop and bop to your heart’s content. But the zany hairdos definitely steal the show.

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The Braid allows Rocky to swing as well. The Mohawk leaves Rocky vulnerable when tossed. Technically, you are bald when chucking it, so be aware of that.

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Use the Spring to reach new heights. The Bird Nest Wig unleashes Picky, a bird who acts as a computer controlled helper (similar to the option helpers from Gradius III). Each hairdo has its own pros and cons. They add to the game’s quirky atmosphere.

THE STORY GOES…

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Rocky, a dine and dash artist with an insatiable appetite, finds himself in a… ahem… hairy situation. Apparently Rocky has gone and done it again, trying to cheat yet another restaurant.

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Fortunately for our anti-hero, Rocky runs into the Rose Restaurant owner whose only daughter Melody has been kidnapped by Mafia member, Don Garcia. He makes an offer Rocky can’t refuse — save Melody and it’s all you can eat on the house. It’s a very nonsensical plot but there’s sort of a cheesy charm to it all.

DOWNTOWN

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Remember Sparkster from Rocket Knight Adventures (and er, Sparkster)? The very first enemy you encounter in Rocky Rodent, an armored armadillo, looks awfully similar to Sparkster. Just a random coincidence though, as Rocket Knight Adventures came out on the Sega Genesis almost exactly one week later (August 5, 1993).

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Spruce up your style with a brand new hairdo. Not only will you look cooler, but it’s vital to staying alive longer. Not to mention all the cool new tricks you’ll be able to do with a new ‘do.

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Rocky’s cling and fling technique with this first hairdo is sure to impress the ladies.

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Impale enemies with your spiky hair and toss them back to take out an entire row. Works just like the Koopa shells from the Mario games. Use the water sprout for a much needed lift.

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Speaking of lifts, bounce off the café awnings to reach the rooftop where Rocky will be greeted by all his favorite yummy treats. I like how he slides on the roof. It’s the little details!

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Similar to Sonic, Rocky is a fast little sucker. However, be careful about when to exercise said speed. Here, it’s required. But most elsewhere, speed kills.

SUNSET FREEWAY

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Platformer rule #72: There must be some kind of auto scrolling stage. Bingo, you’re looking at it. Race down this freeway and avoid the various hazards. I like how you can see the sun gradually setting over the horizon.

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Hightail it, Rocky! Chuck E. Cheese’s reject sighting!

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Gorgeous… but deadly. Oh so deadly.

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Bizarre doesn’t begin to describe this game. Mutant rats driving a ’70s Volkswagen while a Mob boss attempts to mow you down with a Tommy gun? Yeah…

GHOST APARTMENT

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Mohawk acts like a boomerang. Sick.

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Mohawk also allows Rocky to cling and fling.

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Makeshift boost as well! Nice.

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Whoever owns this apartment is going to curse Rocky for all the property damage he’s causing.

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Platformers sometimes need a way to impede certain routes at least for the time being. These funky door blockers earn Irem bonus points for creativity. Best of all, when you eventually do reach the other side, you can ram Rocky’s spiky hairdo up their you know what! Hey, it’s the little things. Also, hit those markers to save your spot should when you die (this game is freaking hard).

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Falling chandeliers and going down random tubes are the order of the day.

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Crumbling blocks lead us to… Slimer and friends?!

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Apartment with a random teeter totter and anvil? Alright then. It sends Rocky sky high.

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Admire and enjoy that cool night air, because it’s going to be hot once you get back in.

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Poltergeist shit starts to go down. Hey, this place isn’t called Ghost Apartment for nothing.

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Random furniture and crap start coming Rocky’s way fast. Be quick!

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Haunting the apartment is the ghost of Mr. Potato Head. He seems tricky at first but he actually has a very easy pattern.

RANDOM ROCKY

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Man, they’re really taking this “Mascot with Attitude” thing seriously, aren’t they?

Don't accept rides from strangers, kids
Don’t accept rides from strangers, kids

Yeah, that’s not creepy at all…

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Rocky Rodent has its fair share of sight gags. They don’t cause any harm to Rocky; they’re just there to make you smile.

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I kinda miss the days when mascot platformers had all these wacky sight gags. It was sort of a sign of the times. It felt like everyone and their brothers were doing it. Endearing when done right!

Hello there, Slimer
Hello there, Slimer
Loved him back in the '80s!
Loved him back in the ’80s!

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Here is the controversial scene Nintendo didn’t want you to see!

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Just wait ’til Rocky puts the moves on her.

See?
See?

How Irem managed to slip this past Nintendo remains a mystery to this very day.

Speaking of IREM...
Speaking of IREM…

Rocky Rodent wasn’t their only SNES game mired in controversy.

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Irem CEO: Hey! Why the dirt on our good name, sir? What wrongs have we EVER done?

[I’ll handle this… -Ed.]

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Irem CEO: *sweating* … oh right, THAT. Um, look over there! Quickly Smithers, TO THE BASEMENT!

[At long last, sir! -Smithers]

See the trouble you’ve caused now?

[*snickers* -Ed.]

Back to Rocky Rodent, then…

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The ad typified the times we were living in, back in good old 1993. I remember sort of drooling over the ad thinking that Rocky Rodent was a great name for a mascot platformer, Rocky was cool and that the game would probably be pretty good. It somehow reminded me of the spirit of NES games from the early ’90s, and I mean that in the best possible way. Just made me think of lesser known obscure NES platformers like Totally Rad and Werewolf for some reason…

March 1991
March 1991
November 1990
November 1990
Awesome fan art by theoriginalmistajonz!
Awesome fan art by theoriginalmistajonz!
More cool Rocky fan art, this time by elchavoman
More cool Rocky fan art, this time by elchavoman

ROCK HARD

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I remember seeing this as a kid back in 1994 and thinking “Damn, Rocky Rodent must be super hard.” And it sort of is, especially once you get to the second half of the game. Starts out easy enough, but absolutely wrecks you later on. EGM wasn’t kidding!

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Yeah, get ready to see plenty of that.

Better be fast...
Better be fast…

Thankfully there is a cheat code for infinite continues but EVEN THAT is hard to do! Press start at the title screen and Rocky begins his mad dash. Press Y, A, R, A, B, A before he reaches the end. I can’t consistently pull it off because that bloody Rocky is quite the runner, the bastard.

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The later levels are so hard that your heart will feel like that playing it. Oh and I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Rocky Rodent has the coolest (and grossest) 1-UP icon in the business.

WHAT THE CRITICS SAID

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Rocky Rodent fared well with the critics, at least the ones here in North America anyhow. They thought that it was a very solid and even surprising semi-hit of sorts. They also voiced their desire for a 16-MEG sequel in 1994. Of course, it was never meant to be as this is Rocky’s one and only showing. EGM gave it scores of 7, 7, 8 and 8. GameFan gave it ratings of 79, 82, 85 and 86%. Super Play, on the other hand, was not impressed. No shocker there as they were notorious for being harsh on “me too” platformers and beat ‘em ups in particular. Super Play rated Rocky Rodent a paltry 50%.

Ouch. Super Play was too harsh I think...
Ouch. Super Play was too harsh I think…

CLOSING THOUGHTS

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Mascot platformers were a dime a dozen back in 1993. Sonic the Hedgehog more or less kickstarted that whole “me too” movement that would inevitably flood the gaming market (a much different and not so serious me too movement from the one we’ve seen in recent times). You had to be special to stand out in a crowded genre. You had to be different. Distinguished. Some, like Rocket Knight Adventures and Plok, managed to rise above the ranks and captured the hearts of many. But too many others failed to make an impression and quickly faded away into obscurity. Rocky Rodent, for me at least, lies somewhere in the middle. Though sadly, its fate is still that of one that has vanished into the ether.

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Rocky Rodent got lost in a crowd of countless me too platformers that overflowed the Super Nintendo in the early-mid ’90s. It’s not a shabby platformer at all. The different hairstyles add some strategy and depth to the game. The game looks relatively good for its time and the music was actually pretty catchy and a tier or two above most games of this ilk. I found myself bobbing along with the soundtrack at points. The music in the Ghost Apartment was far creepier and more sinister sounding than I expected in a “kiddy game” such as this.

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Even though Rocky Rodent is fairly paint by the numbers, the dressing is slightly different enough to make the game feel like Irem actually put in a good effort. And that effort certainly shows at times. The different hairstyles are fun to to use and the stages are designed around the abilities of said styles. Sure, Rocky Rodent might come off as a bit generic at times but I think it’s got some soul to it as well. Irem injected a good dose of humor and personality into the game. Look no further than the various sight gags or that random shower scene in the apartment. So wonderfully odd and memorable! On the downside, the control is not as crisp as I would like. The insane difficulty, combined with a lack of password system, definitely brings down the game a bit. But hey, there are far worse platformers you could play on the system. *cough* Bubsy *cough*

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Interestingly enough, the game has a bit of a 1940s look to it. Just take a gander at some of those old vehicles and buildings! In addition, it admirably refrains from regurgitating the same old tired themes such as wood, fire and ice-based stages. It somehow manages to come off smelling like a slight breath of fresh air despite being standard platforming 101. It’s by no means an all time classic but if you’re in the mood for a simple yet challenging platformer, this may suffice (and in some cases, even satisfy). As such, Rocky Rodent is a worthy addition for anyone looking to expand their Super Nintendo library beyond the usual suspects.

Graphics: 7.5
Sound: 8
Gameplay: 7
Longevity: 5

Overall: 7.0

Tell em, Rocky!
Tell ‘em, Rocky!

The Mode 7 Year Itch

RVG turns the big 1-1!
RVG turns the big 1-1!

Can you believe RVGFanatic turns 11 years old today? I remember that day like it were only yesterday. January 7, 2007. It’s hard for me to believe RVGFanatic is now 11. Most webmasters burn out in less than a year or two, so RVGFanatic’s longevity is a true testament to my passion for the SNES. To commemorate the occasion, I’m transferring (and slightly tweaking) an article I wrote on my original site about why my fire for the SNES still burns even after all these years.

Now 12 years and counting!
Now 12 years and counting!

7 REASONS WHY I STILL LOVE THE SNES

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There’s an infamous term known as “The 7 Year Itch.” Supposedly, it’s that point in some marriages where things head south and peter out. Well, it’s been about 7 years (12 years now) since I got back into all things Super Nintendo and quite honestly, I still love it today as much as I did then. As I approach yet another anniversary, I can’t help but think about why the fire still burns. What exactly is it about this system that has kept me coming back after all these years??

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The first two things that came to mind? The library and the memories. The SNES has arguably the best gaming catalog of all time. It’s so stacked that you could take the best SNES games ranked #11-20 and they would stand up well against any other system’s TOP TEN. The top 25 SNES games alone include some of gaming’s best, period. So, there was that. And then there are my memories. The SNES came along during a special time in my life. Being a robust kid living in suburban America during the rise of the SNES was simply awesome. It was my favorite system of my childhood, and is now my favorite system of my adulthood. In some ways I feel like I’m fulfilling my childhood dreams, as corny as that may sound. But I digress. Let’s kick off the countdown!

BUT FIRST, LESSONS I LEARNED

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Prior to my SNES resurgence in January of 2006, I was a huge Sega Saturn fan from 1999 to 2005. During those six years I built a collection of 350 Saturn games. I loved it.

Before I knew it, it sneaked up behind me
Before I knew it, it sneaked up behind me

However, as much fun as I had with the Sega Saturn I fell into the trap of never beating the games. I’d play them for 30 minutes to an hour here and there but never commit to completing one. For me at least, I don’t do so well with such a disposable mindset. I am the kind of gamer who likes to keep playing the same game until I can beat it. So this casual reckless playing blindsided me and led to my burnout by the summer of 2005.

Casually playing the games led to my Saturn burn out
Casually playing the games led to my burn out

As I reflected on my Saturn journey during the late summer of 2005, one of my biggest regrets was never logging my Saturn experiences. From purchase dates to game playing notes, all my Saturn memories were relegated to my mind which is fleeting at best. My fire for the system was quickly waning and six years of undocumented memories were only going to fade away with time. But the funny thing about life is that sometimes you get a second chance when you least expect it. And that’s when the SNES came calling.

Advice well worth taking!
Advice well worth taking!
I kept a log of all my SNES buys
I kept a detailed account of all my SNES buys
As well as started and maintained a journal
As well as a journal
One of the best gaming-related decisions I made
I definitely did it right second time around
Thanks Sega Saturn for the memories and the lessons
Thanks Sega Saturn for the lessons and memories

SEVEN REASONS WHY I LOVE SNES

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1. Beating the games
2. Discovering new gems
3. Replaying childhood favorites
4. Quelling 15 to 20+ year curiosities
5. Continuing to expand RVGFANATIC
6.
 Memorable multi-player SNES sessions
7. Being truly content with my collection

1. BEATING THE GAMES

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There’s something to be said about beating a video game. As previously noted, I fell into a trap of casually playing my Saturn games never really sticking with one until I could squeeze it for all it’s worth. Getting back into the SNES I realized I wanted to right a wrong from my childhood, and that wrong was never beating many of its games. Too many as a child I didn’t even get a chance to (thoroughly) play. My SNES resurrection was a chance, then, at gaming redemption.

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I typically pop in a game these days with the intent of beating it, or at least until I can no longer progress. It gives me a great feeling when I eventually swap it out for another game. It’s like only then am I able to put the game back on the shelf with a real sense of peace and fulfillment. What a concept right? PLAY THE GAMES. BEAT THE GAMES. I adopted that mantra for SNES round two and it made all the difference in the world.

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I view beating games the same as watching a movie or reading a book. It would be silly to stop a quarter or three quarters through (unless it’s too boring or difficult). These days I always focus on playing (through) one game at a time. There’s something special about seeing a game through and not shelving it until you’ve maxed it out. I guess it reminds me of the good old days when I did just that with the limited number of games my parents bought for me. It’s the best of both worlds: owning a ton of games yet playing them as if you only had a few.

2. DISCOVERING NEW GEMS

DoremiFant15

Although I loved the SNES and had one from 1992-1998, there were still a ton of quality games I missed out on, or never really played. Since I missed out on them, even if those games are “old” titles from 1993 or ’94, they’re still brand new experiences to me. These past dozen years I have been able to experience many SNES games for the FIRST time. And there’s nothing like discovering new gems. Some of these games I never even knew existed back in the ’90s, like Super Famicom gem DoReMi Fantasy.

Always wear protection...
Always wear protection…

A stellar action game released in 1996, DoReMi Fantasy is undoubtedly one of the best platformers on the SNES. There’s nothing like uncovering a new game for the first time, seeing a few screenshots, getting super excited, finding it on eBay and then playing it only to discover that it’s awesome. Doing so only continues to further fan the flames.

Terran21B

Terranigma is another excellent gem that I discovered during my second SNES stint. It’s one of my absolute favorites and one of the best games on the entire SNES. Discovering and then beating games like Terranigma go a long way in keeping my flame lit.

3. REPLAYING CHILDHOOD FAVORITES

Combatribes-Swing

Nostalgia. Memories of a simpler time. I’ll never deny that one (small) reason why I love the SNES so much is how much history I have with the machine, dating back over 25 years to 1991. There were a handful of SNES games that I cherished for one reason or another as a child. Being able to play them again over the past 12 years has been a blast from the past. Some haven’t aged so well while others remain just as you remember them being. My brother and I used to play The Combatribes a ton back in 1993. It was a very surreal feeling when we played through it more than a decade later. For one brief moment we were kids again as we turned back the hands of time. The SNES gave me so many great memories. Whenever I play any one of my childhood favorites, I can’t help but get the warm fuzzies. And I’m instantly transported back to a time in my life where junk emails don’t exist and life was only as complicated as taking out the trash and doing homework.

Never fails to take me back to a simpler time in my life :)
Never fails to take me back to a simpler time in my life :)

4. QUELLING 15-20+ YEAR CURIOSITIES

SimsBel

There were many SNES games I wanted to play back in the day but never did. My SNES resurrection gave me a chance to rectify matters. I’ll never forget the night I first slayed Count Dracula in Super Castlevania IV back in April of 2006.

egmobgolfpre

Remember seeing all those cool looking SNES games featured in small blurbs within the pages of GameFan or EGM? And then wondering for years on end how they might play? Being able to put those childhood curiosities to rest is simply the best. Even better yet is when the game instantly becomes one of your all-time favorites. One example is BS Out of Bounds Golf. I LOVE that game!

BS Out of Bounds Golf rocks and that's no BULL
BS Golf rocks and that’s no BULL

5. BIRTH + EXPANSION OF RVGFANATIC

7YearIt13

For as long as I can remember, I love sharing (in written form) my opinions with others. Back in 5th grade I was writing book reviews for Goosebumps and having the time of my life knowing that my classmates would be reading my thoughts and possibly even basing their reading choices off my impressions. One of my deepest regrets with my Sega Saturn stint from 1999-2005 was my failure to document that whole experience. So I knew getting back into the Super Nintendo that I was going to do things right. Namely, I placed a focus on beating the games and documenting my journey somehow. I never dreamed that I would one day have my own website but sure enough that far-fetched fantasy suddenly became reality when I launched RVGFanatic 11 years ago today. I still remember that day vividly and recall it with a deep fondness. It was a cold and dark Sunday night. January 7, 2007. RVGFanatic was thrust into the vast wilderness of cyberspace.

The first day opened with this brief note to the reader
The first day opened with this brief note to the reader

The next day I published my review of the Super Famicom exclusive brawler, Godzilla: Kaijuu Daikessen. Immediately following this, my dad called asking if I could drive him to the auto repair shop to pick up his car. There was light rain falling that Monday night as I recall the vigor of knowing that somewhere someone was viewing my content and among the first visitors to do so. It was quite a high for me knowing that as I drove my dad on that wet drizzling freeway. It’s a moment in time that I remember fondly even to this day 11 years later.

7YearIt14

It’s crazy to think that my one man fansite has been around for 11 years now. Eleven! Gaming fansites usually have a limited shelf life. It’s not uncommon to see these sites either losing steam over time or flat out become obsolete. Whether the webmaster burns out, loses interest or gets caught up in life’s craziness, it happens far more often than not. Yet somehow, I’ve managed to buck the trend. I am still going strong 11 years and counting. My passion for the SNES and to continually expand RVGFanatic is as strong now in 2018 as it was in 2007. It’s crazy. The SNES is the system that just keeps on giving. Working on my baby RVGFanatic the past 11 years has been a blast, and one of the big reasons why I keep coming back to the SNES time in and time out.

6. EPIC MULTI-PLAYER SESSIONS

Nothing beats a good old fashioned gaming party
Nothing beats a good old fashioned gaming party

I’ve been fortunate enough to have some memorable multi-player SNES romps over the years, and they always leave me feeling recharged and re-energized.

Love mark of 5 years. Saturn getting dusty meanwhile
Taking my SNES instead proved to be the right call

While immersing myself in a classic one player quest is tough to top, perhaps there’s nothing better in gaming than an epic night of rollicking couch co-op. One session in particular: Christmas 2010. My cousins invited the family over for Christmas night. Normally I haul the Sega Saturn and Saturn Bomberman along with me, but that night I decided to take the Super Nintendo instead.

PowerPak2

I picked up a PowerPak cartridge about a month prior. It’s basically a memory card capable of storing hundreds of SNES games. Talk about super convenient. I found the perfect box to fit everything. A nice snug fit!

TiT58b

Karen texted me earlier that night, pleading me to come over soon. In her own words, “STEVE! We need you to get your butt over here — we are in dire need for some entertainment!” That Karen, I tell ya, she always cracks me up. I busted out my Super Nintendo upon arrival and Karen nearly fell over. “OH MY GOD, I haven’t seen one of these babies in eons!” We set it up. She was stunned by the amount of choices available on my PowerPak. I let her browse the endless list of games and her eyes popped when she spotted Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles In Time. “I remember playing this back in the day!” Karen shouted, turning into a six year old kid before my very eyes. Karen and David started out on the first level and we rotated turns. We had a blast going down memory lane. Safe to say, the Ninja Turtles weren’t the only ones who went back in time that fine Christmas night.

7YearIt16

After Turtles in Time, we switched over to Super Bomberman 2. It brought back so many rich memories of the early-mid ’90s when my old gaming circle would spend countless Saturday nights dunking on each other in NBA Jam and blowing up one another in the Super Bomberman games. It was, pardon the pun, an absolute blast.

Ah, New Year's Eve 2012 :)
Ah, New Year’s Eve 2012 :)

Once again the SNES PowerPak proved its worth taking center stage when my cousins came over. We spent the night playing 4-player BS Out of Bounds Golf and 5-player Super Bomberman 5. Nothing screams quality family time quite like blowing up your brother or knocking your cousin’s ball out of bounds. We rung in 2013 laughing and roaring. Epic gaming sessions like these stay with you for the long haul and only help remind me of why I love gaming so much.

7. HAPPY RETIREMENT FROM BUYING

I acquired a whopping 51 SNES games that first month
I acquired a whopping 51 SNES games that first month

It all started with one seemingly innocent impulsive buy on eBay nearly 12 years ago. I bought Power Moves, an old SNES fighting game my brother and I rented way back in late 1992. I was lucky. The SNES bug bit me earlier than most of my peers. Early 2006 was a grand time to be buying SNES games left and right as they were still dirt cheap a dozen years ago. My library steadily grew until it morphed into a massive monstrosity.

7YearIt19

No rest for the weary, however. No sooner did I win Power Moves I also won Prehistorik Man. Ignition Factor and Fatal Fury Special all soon followed. The next day I bought Ken Griffey Jr. Presents Major League Baseball, Mega Man X, Plok!, NHL ’98 and Sky Blazer. Not one to stop there, I was back at it two days later with buys of NBA Give ‘N Go, Super Turrican, Zombies Ate My Neighbors, Super Tennis and Kirby’s Avalanche. Ah, those were some Wild Wild West days!

Getting the best of both worlds... literallly
Getting the best of both worlds… literally

Not only was I buying the North American games but I was also buying the Super Famicom imports that never came out stateside.

SteveCollzzz3

Early on I didn’t care to get the manuals and boxes. I just wanted the cartridges. But I came across some cheap manual and box lots that I couldn’t pass up. Once they started coming in, the memories of reading these manuals and boxes as a kid once upon a moon came roaring back to me. And I figured why the hell not? Go big or go home!

I bought them by the stack loads
I was lucky I got back into it when it was still cheap
This was back when they were still fairly cheap
I’ll never forget that “lost weekend” I assembled them

My biggest stroke of luck came when I met an eBay seller from Minnesota by the name of Jenn back in 2007. She had a ton of SNES boxes and manuals she was looking to unload. I bought in bulk and she cut me a great deal. She sold me over 200! I doubt my collection would be what it is today were it not for Jenn.

Life is truly all about timing. Thanks Jenn!
Life is truly all about timing. Thanks Jenn!
My last huge get
My last huge get: the ultra rare 3 Ninjas Kick Back box!

I finished off 90% of my collection by 2008. My final big buy was the 3 Ninjas Kick Back box which I acquired in 2012. I’ve pretty much been done buying SNES stuff for five years now, and THAT FEELS GREAT.

It's one of the rarest SNES boxes around. I lucked out!
It’s one of the rarest SNES boxes around. I lucked out!
Even got my email printed in Retro Magazine!
Even got my email printed in Retro Magazine!
Got my collection featured in that magazine as well!
Got my collection featured in that magazine as well!

ExpenSNES

SNES games were incredibly affordable back in 2006. I really lucked out in terms of timing. The SNES scene didn’t explode until 2010 or so. Fortunately I was able to beat the rush. It’s only because of my early start that I have what I now have. If I started back in 2009? Forget it. These games now cost an arm and a leg!

stevesnescol

Having a complete boxed collection of all the SNES games I ever wanted has unquestionably kept my passion burning all these years. Being able to play these games whenever I want and no longer worrying about getting sniped on eBay and what have you is simply priceless. I feel like I’ve come full circle in many ways and that I have fulfilled my childhood dreams, as corny as that may be to say. If you had told me 25 years ago when I was a kid in 1993 that 25 years later I would somehow own 500+ boxed SNES games… I would probably die laughing.

BoFIICollec

I just love walking into my game room randomly sometimes. I don’t even have to play a game. Sometimes all I do is stand back and admire it for a few minutes while taking a stroll down memory lane. The memories come rushing back and it’s almost therapeutic in some ways. It’s escaping from the real world for a brief moment to slip back to a time in your life where things were simpler and more “magical.” Having an awesome collection that you’re 100% content with helps keep the fire burning. Glad to be retired from collecting but definitely not retired from playing ;)

superplayset

A quick shout out to Super Play Magazine. My acquisition of the 47 issue publication in late 2006 is another highlight of my collection. It’s the perfect companion piece to any Super Nintendo collection. Every once in a while I still pick up a random issue to read.

Good to see the one-off reunion issue last year!
Good to see the one-off reunion issue last year!

CLOSING THOUGHTS

GTAyo

I can’t believe RVGFanatic turns 11 today, and it’s crazy that in 10 days I will celebrate 12 years since the day I began my SNES comeback. The Super Nintendo has always been in my life in one way or another. First when I was a kid and later as an adult. 12 years later the fire still burns. I’ve played so many great SNES games the past 12 years and I still have a truck load remaining. No matter what direction life takes me in going forward, it’s safe to say I’ll always carry a special bond with this system. And somehow, I suspect the SNES fire will always burn in the backdrop of my life.

8. SPECIAL LOVE FROM MY READERS

BONUS! If I had to cite an 8th reason why my SNES passion still burns, it’s whenever I hear from one of my readers that something I wrote touched a small part of their past. I think many of us can relate to my experiences growing up in the early and mid ’90s and what it was like growing up with a Super Nintendo and some good friends to play it with. There’s an unspoken special bond there that you’ll only know if you grew up in that era. Here’s some of the feedback I’ve received over the past 11 years.

If you haven’t read Steven’s stories about his collection, you’re missing out. The stories are fun and poignant, and it’s nice to know that other people have their memories and feelings from their history all tangled up with a video game background. The stories from his childhood, losing and making friends, and developing feelings that don’t always work out will make you feel like you know him a bit, even if like me you’re a guy from Missouri who couldn’t pick him out of a lineup.
~CeleryStalker

Hi Steve,
I stumbled across your site thanks to a strange detour thrown at my feet while I was checking up on the Sega Saturn (a console I never owned but want to know more about) and found myself reading and reading. It’s rare these days, when everyone and their dog has a website (often about their dog) that you find someone who captures your imagination so vividly. I can’t explain it honestly. I find it odd that I’m writing this… but we share a love of the SNES and the long lasting summer evenings of childhood, something you describe so perfectly. And also Super Play… it was the only magazine I ever bought every month. It looked like nothing else on the shelf and rewarded with each and every read. The Japanese focus was so rare back then and the oddities and the sense of humor still makes me laugh. Oh, and the [Oi! – Ed.] thing goes back a little further as many of the Editors and staff worked on the magazine issues for the ZX Spectrum and other early ’80s computers so the [ – Ed.] inserts you sometimes incorporate are close to my heart. It made me laugh when I saw them on your website.

There’s no real point to the email other than to say thanks for writing. Something in your writing connected with me here in London and threw me back to my old childhood, rekindled my love for the SNES and the obscure, and has propelled me onwards as I continue to check out what the Saturn has to offer.

Now I’ve got many more pages of your site to read. I plan on going through them all as I never know what bizarre retro games I’ll find, or what other long-forgotten nights from my childhood I’ll remember.

Once again, thanks.
~Jon L.

Hi Steven,
I’m an avid reader of your website. I can’t wait to read your next update on RVGFanatic. I’m a huge fan of your personal essays and memoirs, as well as the reviews. You have no idea how many times I’ve read your Sega Saturn Saga. If I ever launch a website, I hope it will be as emotionally evocative as yours!

OK, I don’t want to sound too much like a fanboy. I promise I won’t annoy you with any more praise, haha. Thanks again for your time.

Sincerely,
William D.

Wow man, been reading this site for a while now and thought I would comment. The stuff you’ve written on here is simply a gold mine of awesome stories and nostalgic memories. I swear you could have been a friend or close relative of mine back in the day. Some of these stories on here are literally pages right out of my childhood, from the renting stories, to stuff like replaying Contra with my uncle and brother time and time again, to loving shows like The Wonder Years, etc.

Incredible stuff. Also love all your “ramblings” as you call them. I just cannot get enough of this stuff, lol. Please, whatever you do, do not stop writing. I find myself coming back here time and time again to read through some of these articles and remember the good times. Keep up the amazing work!
~Rich

Hi Steve,
Your reviews and articles are a joy to read. I appreciate the passion you put into your work; it never fails to strike a nostalgic chord with me. Better still, you have opened my eyes to a few games I ignored during my 16-bit youth, such as Brandish and Hook, which I now enjoy greatly.

Keep up the great work. I’m looking forward to the next review.
~LisVender

Hey Steve,
Just sitting here, reading your site, throwing a few back, and I figured to myself, “Hey, I might as well give Steve some love here.” I’m sure you get a lot of praise, but I’m sure it never hurts to hear some more to let you know your hard work is not for nothing.

Steve, you kick ass. I love your site. So many fansites are advertised, and people say great things to just be nice, but I gotta say… RVGFANATIC is truly great. I find myself reading the reviews and articles over and over… it’s just like a good book where I just keep reading it and re-reading it. It’s written so well and very entertaining.

Keep up the awesome work!
~Mike

Switched: How Nintendo Won Me Back

Nintendo made me a believer once more
Nintendo makes a believer out of me once more

In late 2016, Nintendo released a trailer highlighting their upcoming 7th console, the Nintendo Switch. To say that I was skeptical would have been a gross understatement. I had long lost faith in Nintendo, or at least in their current state. My brother and I grew up on the NES and the Super Nintendo. Both systems were amazing, giving us countless memories. The Nintendo 64 came along in 1996 and was a mixed bag. By the time the GameCube launched in late 2001, my brother and I stopped caring. Neither of the two Wii consoles were able to move the needle on my gaming meter. As for the PlayStation and XBox consoles, they surely had their share of gems but I honestly didn’t care enough to ever buy any of those systems. I was content with my SNES collection and assumed that my time buying games had long come to an end. That was, at least, until I finally played the Switch…

With the Switch, gaming has hit new heights
With the Switch, gaming has reached new heights

A NEW ERA — FINALLY

I thought I was done buying games. I was wrong...
I thought I was done buying games. I was wrong…

As it has been well documented here on RVGFanatic, I got back into the SNES scene nearly 12 years ago (January 2006). It’s been an incredible journey and I have played so many amazing games since then. I more or less finished my collection in 2012 and figured I was set for life. I had no interest in modern gaming. Not that I hated them but rather I just didn’t care enough to play them. That slowly began to change as I heard the rumblings for one, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. The trailer, released in early 2017, was breathtaking. If any modern game can bring me back to the fold, Breath of the Wild might be it. For the first time in forever, I found myself salivating over a new game.

I was floored. It was the first time in nearly 12 years that I found myself thinking, “It might be time to buy another system.” I remember one night in March 2017 my bro sent me a funny picture of some guy on the internet declaring it was going to be an epic night. Sure looked like it!

Oh hell yeah!
Talk about living the good life

Seeing that pic made me remember all the epic gaming adventures I had long long ago. It was that little seed planted in my head. The Switch launched on March 3, 2017. I didn’t buy one but I remember telling myself maybe Black Friday. Maybe. But I found no deals on the Switch and thus, Black Friday came and went. My brother, on the other hand, struck a bit of gold…

SwitStor12

Despite not owning a Switch, he spotted Breath of the Wild on Walmart’s website for the incredibly low price of $29. He jumped on it because he knew I had interest in buying a Switch. Apparently it was a mistake on the website — it was supposed to be marked down to $49 but he made the purchase before the website could correct itself. They honored their end and shipped the game out to him. Coincidentally, I read this on Reddit a few days ago…

SwitStor1

My brother was one of the lucky few
My brother was one of the lucky few

[SATURDAY] DECEMBER 2, 2017

SwitStor14

After visiting my month old nephew, I hit up the local Target only to be greeted by the last Switch console. I couldn’t resist and pulled the trigger. Final damage following a flurry of gift cards: $267. I walked out of Target cradling the Switch against my chest as though it were Frankenstein’s very own heart! It was my first system purchase in nearly 12 years :D

Oh I'm answering the call. Don't have to tell me twice!
Oh I’m answering the call. Don’t have to tell me twice!

Breath of the Wild arrived at my brother’s place later that day. It was like it was meant to be. I picked it up, drove back home, popped it in and was immediately blown away. Honestly, I hadn’t played a 3D “modern” game in forever. These past 12 years I stuck mainly to the SNES. Well, Breath of the Wild has definitely made me rethink my gaming habits. Although I still love and play the SNES, it certainly won’t be the only system I play going forward. Nintendo had officially converted me. I have, pardon the pun, made the switch.

ZelBotW2

Right away I was flung into the wide open world of Hyrule. It literally took my breath away. Immersive is a word that gets thrown around a lot in gaming circles but I can’t think of a better adjective to describe this game. Best of all, it looks and plays great even on the portable end. In fact, I’ve been playing it only in this format thus far.

The older I get, the less time I have to do this
The older I get, the less I have time to do this

As I get older and busier, I find I have less and less time to sit in front of a TV to play a game. The portability makes it perfect to play for 20 minutes while laying in bed before sleeping. It’s also ideal to play while having a TV show on in the background. It’s truly a game changer. The Switch is a versatile little sucker and it’s portable gaming the likes of which we have never seen before. We have come a long way since the Game Boy and Game Gear, haven’t we?

ZelBotW6

I began going through the shrines and giggling like a little school girl on the inside. I could tell it was the beginning of an unforgettable gaming experience.

ZelBotW7

Acquiring new skills and weapons is all part of the fun. Each new power gained opened up even more possibilities.

ZelBotW5

Hunting for food or shooting enemies from afar became highly addicting.

ZelBotW3

I’m only 12 hours in or so but already I feel like this is easily one of the top 10 (if not 5) best games I have ever played. Quite frankly, maybe even #1.

[MONDAY] DECEMBER 4, 2017

SwiCov

But there was no rest for the weary. A few days later, I went to Best Buy to pick up Doom for $53 following my 20% discount. I haven’t been able to play Doom yet because I want to beat Zelda first. But rest assured, having missed the 2016 version of Doom and hearing what a competent amazing port the Switch version is, I cannot bloody wait to dig into this one!

SwitIm8

[WEDNESDAY] DECEMBER 6, 2017

SwiCov1

I honestly thought I would just have Breath of the Wild and Doom for now. But you know how these things work. There’s a snowball effect when something comes along and completely captures your imagination. A few days after picking up Doom, my brother told me GameStop was selling Rayman Legends for only $25.

SwitIm10

I have Rayman on the Sega Saturn and have always enjoyed it. Plus, the Switch version received rave reviews, so I decided to swing by the local GameStop after work to pick it up. Unfortunately, the GameStop I went to was sold out. But the clerk said there was another location nearby that had 3 copies left. That store happened to be at my childhood mall!

SwitStor10

I can’t count the number of times my mom took me to this mall when I was a kid. Every Friday after school we went. It was sort of a tradition of ours. Rain or shine. Seeing the tall Christmas tree there always brings back memories of the mall Santa back in the day. Although the mall has been renovated over the years, the core structure remains. It never fails to bring back a memory or two.

SwitStor9

Making the walk down this way was something of a spiritual experience, as sad as that may sound. I’ve walked that path thousands of time. It was always visit Suncoast first, followed by Software Etc., KB Toys, Walden Books and Cyberstation. Being here again brought back a ton of nostalgia for me, and reminded me of my early SNES hunting days back in 2006. The thrill and excitement hanging in the air. That feeling of knowing you were going to come away with a brand new game to add to the ole collection. Hopping around town snatching up games left and right like a mad man. It was more than just collecting games. It was reclaiming bits and pieces of my childhood in whole new ways.

How I remember thee, Suncoast
How I remember thee, Suncoast
This was THE place to be on a Saturday night back then
This was THE place to be on a Friday night back then

A montage of these classic childhood sights and sounds suddenly flashed in my mind as I entered GameStop and picked up Rayman Legends at the counter. It was now my 3rd Switch game in nearly as many days. Yep, I could feel it coming. And there was no stopping it. I had Switch fever!

SwitIm11

[SATURDAY] DECEMBER 9, 2017

SwiCov2

I visited Target the next day to pick up a few things. I had absolutely ZERO intentions of buying another Switch game but lo and behold, there I found Lego Marvel Super Heroes 2 on sale for $39.99. Before I knew it, a 4th game was added to my rapidly growing Switch library.

SwitIm6

I texted my brother about my latest purchase and he said I had gone nuts. He was probably right. But damn was I having fun!

Switch collection ASSEMBLE! [Really? -Ed.]
Switch collection ASSEMBLE! [Really? -Ed.]

[SUNDAY] DECEMBER 10, 2017

SwiCov3

After buying Lego Marvel Super Heroes 2, I thought to myself, “OK now I’m really done. For a while at least.” Well, a while turned out to be less than 24 hours later. The following day, my brother texted me that Toys R Us was selling Lego City Undercover for just $19.99. Lego in a GTA (Grand Theft Auto) setting? Count me in!

SwitIm

While Toys R Us was processing my online pickup order, I searched the web on my iPhone only to discover that Fry’s Electronics was selling Resident Evil Revelations Collection for only $29.99. And of course, there just happened to be a Fry’s down the road from Toys R Us. So I drove over to Fry’s to buy Resident Evil Revelations Collection. Then drove back to Toys R Us to pick up Lego City Undercover. I felt like an absolute mad man; I haven’t done this much game hunting in 10 years!

RERBox

SwitIm3

Quite an extreme contrast  between my two latest buys
Quite an extreme contrast between my two latest buys!

While at Fry’s hunting down Resident Evil Revelations Collection, I ran across Axiom Verge for $29.99. I was tempted to add it to my tab. Axiom Verge caught my eye a few years back and I was always curious about it. But a quick search revealed Toys R Us selling it for $29.99 plus a 15% discount. I was hoping to pick it up at the Toys R Us location I just bought Lego City Undercover from, but unfortunately they didn’t have one in stock. The closest pick up location was… *gasp*… the old Toys R Us store from my childhood!

Always wanted to play this. Now I finally can!
Always wanted to play this. Now I finally can!

[MONDAY] DECEMBER 11, 2017

Ah, the vintage train tracks of my childhood :)
Ah, the vintage train tracks of my childhood :)
Come on, let's go! I got a Switch game to pick up!
Come on, let’s go! I got a Switch game to pick up!

Going to my childhood Toys R Us meant passing through this old haunt. My cousins lived in the neighborhood nearby and I spent much of my youth visiting my cousins on the weekends back in the late ’80s to mid ’90s. Needless to say, that whole area is incredibly nostalgic to me. It’s also where I experienced the greatest Halloween of my life back in 1994. The infamous night I met “The Lady in the Haunted House” AKA Becky, who has gone on to become a lifelong friend. I actually just met up with Becky a few weeks ago. Going through the old neighborhood was just an added bonus to my jaunt for Axiom Verge.

SwitStor5

I stood there for a moment to just admire the scene. This was the same Toys R Us my parents took me and my brother to millions of times back in the late ’80s to mid ’90s. It was probably 10 years since I had last been there. At that point, it was one of the few relics from my past still standing in the same spot!

TRUGS

Who doesn’t remember the classic Toys R Us game slips back in the day? Seeing an aisle plastered with them was like a little slice of Heaven. Some of my fondest childhood memories came from simply strolling through the aisles drooling at the game covers all bug-eyed. Nothing topped the feeling of when your parents relented and bought you a game! Taking that slip out of its sleeve, only to discover it’s the LAST one, and taking it to the special game counter to claim your precious pixelated prize. Cue the Final Fantasy victory theme!

I remember seeing NES games like Dr. Chaos
I remember seeing NES game slips like Dr. Chaos
Chakan on the Genesis
As well as Chakan on the Genesis
And Battletoads in Battlemaniacs
And Battletoads in Battlemaniacs on SNES

Sadly, Toys R Us long stopped doing the game slips. Nonetheless, being there brought back the wave of memories. I also ran into two versions of Goldar from the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: OG Goldie and that crappy looking version from the 2017 movie.

What is this mess?
What mess is this?!
Now thats what Im talking about
Now THAT’S what I’m talking about

Ah, Imaginext. In 2004 I ran across a bunch of their sets on clearance from the same Toys R Us location. Huge sets going for literally $5. I remember bringing home a bunch of the sets and my ex being bewildered!

I still have them unopened. Saving for my future son
I still have them unopened. Saving for my future son

After walking around the store for 15 minutes or so just taking it all in, I made my way to the pickup counter. I cannot wait to play Axiom Verge but first I have to beat Breath of the Wild :P

AxiomBox

SwitIm21

Not a bad deal at $27! It looks awesome.

SwitStor2

Before pulling out of the parking lot, I stood there to admire my childhood Toys R Us one last time. Even though the inside has long been gutted and rearranged, there were pockets in the store where I remember standing some 25, 30 years ago! R.I.P. Toys R Us.

CHRISTMAS 2017

SwiCov4

It’s been forever since I’ve played a newer Mario game. I know I’ve missed out on many great Mario games since 1991’s Super Mario World, so Super Mario Odyssey will certainly make up for some of that lost time.

SwitIm23

[SATURDAY] DECEMBER 23, 2017

Thanks Cindy!
Jackpot! What a great Christmas present :)

SwiTarget

Earlier in the day I was able to price match Puyo Puyo Tetris and Ninjago at Target. Both were going for $39.99 but Toys R Us was selling both for $19.99. Thanks Toys R Us!

Gotta love that Target price match
Gotta love that Target price match!

SwiEx2

[SATURDAY] JANUARY 13, 2018

SkyrimSwi

I received a $25 gift card for Amazon and used it on Skyrim, a game I’ve never played before but can’t wait to dig into. It ended up costing only $35.99.

SkyrimSwi1

[SUNDAY] JANUARY 14, 2018

I had been wanting to buy this game badly...
I had been wanting to buy this game badly…

I spent the weekend out of town with my girlfriend. I was browsing Nintendo Switch Deals on Reddit (shout out!) on a lazy Sunday morning when I came across this promising post…

SwiEx4

Lady Luck was on my side as my girlfriend’s town happened to be one of the 63 stores closing down! I was cautiously optimistic but I figured the game I wanted most (Mario Kart 8 Deluxe) would be long sold out. Eh, it can’t hurt to try, right…

SwiEx3

After waiting in line (just to enter the store) for some odd 30 minutes, we were finally in. I made a beeline for the electronics section. Lo and behold, I spotted the last copy sitting before my eyes! I bought Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and Arms.

SwiArms

I was so happy that I was able to get the last copy of Mario Kart. The rush of adrenaline as we snagged the final copy (and picked up Arms as well) lasted all the way on the drive home. A most serendipitous Sunday!

SamClu

Thanks for taking care of me, Jennifer!

NoireSwi

Later  that same night, I dropped by Target to buy L.A. Noire. I had a gift card and paid $38.

NoireSwi2

Taking place in Los Angeles in the late ’40s, L.A. Noire is another “modern” game I missed out on but can now play thanks to my Switch.

(e)SHOP ‘TIL YA DROP

Ah, my first two eShop purchases
Ah, my first two eShop purchases

On Christmas morning 2017, the floodgates were opened when I made my very first eShop purchase. Here are my 34 digital games in order of purchase.

Stardew Valley (Harvest Moon fans unite!)
Stardew Valley (Harvest Moon fans unite!)
Enter the Gungeon
Enter the Gungeon
Oxenfree
Oxenfree
Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove
Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove
Volgarr the Viking
Volgarr the Viking
Oceanhorn
Oceanhorn
The Mummy Demastered
The Mummy Demastered
Butcher
Butcher
Shock Troopers
Shock Troopers
Shock Troopers: 2nd Squad
Shock Troopers: 2nd Squad
Top Hunter: Roddy and Cathy
Top Hunter: Roddy and Cathy
Spinmaster
Spinmaster
Double Dragon IV
Double Dragon IV
The Count Lucanor
The Count Lucanor
Street Hoop
Street Hoop
Metal Slug
Metal Slug
Pulstar
Pulstar
Blazing Star
Blazing Star
Last Resort
Last Resort
World Heroes
World Heroes
Mutation Nation
Mutation Nation
Robo Army
Robo Army
Rocket League
Rocket League
Steamworld Dig 2
SteamWorld Dig 2
Retro City Rampage
Retro City Rampage
Blaster Master Zero
Blaster Master Zero
Mighty Gunvolt Burst
Mighty Gunvolt Burst
Caveman Warriors
Caveman Warriors
King of the Monsters
King of the Monsters
Double Dragon
Double Dragon
World Heroes 2
World Heroes 2
Celeste
Celeste
Samurai Shodown II
Samurai Shodown II
Magician Lord
Magician Lord

SOME GAMES I’LL BUY IN 2018

Wolfenstein II
Wolfenstein II
Mega Man 11
Mega Man 11
Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection
Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection

Holy shit!

Yoshi
Yoshi
Shin Megami Tensei V
Shin Megami Tensei V
Dragon Warrior XI
Dragon Warrior XI
Metal Slug 2 (or X)
Metal Slug X
Metal Slug 3
Metal Slug 3
Fatal Fury Special
Fatal Fury Special
Sonic Mania
Sonic Mania
Shantae: Half-Genie Hero
Shantae: Half-Genie Hero
Golf Story
Golf Story
Mr. Shifty
Mr. Shifty

And so much more. The Switch’s future is bright and the possibilities are endless. Welcome back to my heart, Nintendo. Welcome back!

CLOSING THOUGHTS

ZelBotW4

It’s hard for me to believe that I would ever feel so invested in a system not named Super Nintendo, especially in the year 2017. But the Switch has made a believer out of me. Being able to play all these amazing games on the go as well as on the big screen TV is a brilliant stroke of ingenuity. Its versatility caters to your lifestyle, as it should, rather than you catering to a system’s limitations. As much as I still love my SNES, I’ll admit there are times where I’m just not in the mood to sit by my TV to play. There are times where I wish I could just play it in bed or during a show. The Switch allows you to do so. Nintendo has something big on its hands here, as evident by the Switch recently surpassing the 10 million units sold mark. This is truly the future wave of gaming.

ZelBotW9

If you’ve been teetering on the fence with the Switch, it’s time to hop over. It has the same impeccable Nintendo magic that I remember the NES and SNES having back in the ’80s and ’90s. Hell, over time I can even possibly see the Switch overtaking the SNES as my favorite system of all time. Never in a million years did I ever think I would say that. If Nintendo eventually releases some of their SNES classics on the Switch eShop going forward then all bets are off. The Switch is poised for unprecedented success, merging gamers from all generations. Its legacy as one of the coolest systems ever is quickly being etched in stone by the day. Don’t miss out! Nintendo is BACK baby and damnit, they might be better than ever.

Terranigma (SNES)

Pub: Enix | Dev: Quintet | October 1995 | 32 MEGS
Pub: Enix | Dev: Quintet | October 1995 | 32 MEGS

For years on end I had heard about a Super Nintendo title that was never officially released in the US. A game so amazing that it had to be played to be believed. A game that was supposedly the pinnacle of 16-bit gaming. A game the stuff dreams are made of. Of course, I’m talking about none other than TERRANIGMA. Does Terranigma live up to the massive hype? Is it worthy of being called one of the best on the SNES? Let’s have a closer look…

BLACK FRIDAY 2010

nightskyy

A little over seven years ago I first played Terranigma. When it comes to game playing, there’s nothing quite like playing an (action) RPG in the months of November and December. Nothing beats playing such games on a cold, chilly winter evening. There’s something about those darkening late afternoons, the wind whipping outside your window and the feeling in the air as you work your way through a magical fantasy world ruled by big eyes and EVEN bigger hearts. Where wise old men pass down their wisdom to the younger generation, where spirits roam, where kings rule and where monsters stalk the land. It was on Black Friday of 2010 that I first began my trek with Terranigma. I remember it fondly as if it happened only yesterday. I had just got back home from spending Thanksgiving with my family. They began discussing their Black Friday master plan around 9 PM while I decided to duck out. I partook in the festivities the year prior — once was more than good enough for me. Instead, I wanted to head home, take in the quiet serenity of the early morning hours and fire up Terranigma for the first time ever. That proved to be the right call — it’s a memory I fondly recall even seven years later. Now there isn’t a Black Friday that rolls along where I don’t think of Terranigma somehow!

LOG IT!

It pays to keep a record. It really does
It pays to keep a record. It really does

I finished it about two weeks later, logging nearly 30 hours. It was incredible. One of those rare magical gaming experiences I’ll always cherish and remember. Ark, renamed Steve, ended on Level 37 (639 HP). As one NPC in Terranigma once suggested, it pays to keep a log. I’ve always been into archiving. Having a record allows me to go back in time to recall past events. Since early 2006, I’ve kept a log of my SNES activities.

One of the best gaming-related decisions I made
One of the best gaming-related decisions I made

I’m so glad I did; I would have forgotten all the quirky details and crazy little stories if I hadn’t. The following will be an account of my Terranigma experience. And on a side note, this marks my 100th SNES review. I had to go big for the magical 1-0-0, and I can’t think of many better choices than this. Surely you didn’t expect Lester the Unlikely, did you? That would be highly unlikely…

[Oh dear -Ed.]
[Oh dear -Ed.]

THE STORY GOES…

TerranPlot

MEET THE CAST

TerranChar

THE JOURNEY BEGINS

[adjusts sleeves] I know I know...  [PUH-LEASE -Ed.]
*adjusts sleeves* I know I know… [PUH-LEASE -Ed.]
Elle: What is it? Steve: You have some eye boogers! Elle: Oh...
Elle: What is it?
Steve: You have some eye boogers!
Elle: Oh…
Elle is such a thoughtful lass
Elle is such a thoughtful lass
Our hero posing by the gorgeous sunset, lovely eh
Our hero posing by the gorgeous sunset, lovely eh?
It's just as weird as Soul Blazer, if not even weirder
It’s just as weird as Soul Blazer, if not even weirder

The Quintet trilogy as some like to call it started with Soul Blazer and concluded with Terranigma. It’s nice to see the odd nod to Soul Blazer here and there throughout.

Times like this that really remind us of our mortality
Times like this that really remind us of our mortality

One of many unforgettable and touching moments from Terranigma. If you’re not moved in the least when you play this, then you, sir, have no heart. No heart at all!

The dialogue was rather deep for its time
The dialogue was rather deep for its time
Eurasia is one of many atmospheric towns you'll see
Eurasia is one of many atmospheric towns you’ll see
Always good to run into that little troublemaker
Always good to run into that little troublemaker

Hey, remember ol’ Turbo? Sure you do! He’s the mutt from Soul Blazer and Illusion of Gaia. That canine sure gets around!

WHAT THE -- !
WHAT THE — !

Who could ever forget this infamous scene in Soul Blazer? The Quintet Trilogy always had some… ahem… controversial moments littered here and there. Some… well… perverse scenes, as you will see a little later on.

Turbo also turns up in Illusion of Gaia
Turbo also turns up in Illusion of Gaia
Note to self: Must cut back on double cheeseburgers
Note to self: Must cut back on double cheeseburgers
That age old belief that man is the real monster...
That age old belief that man is the real monster…

The random things people say ranges from amusing to whimsical to even sometimes downright philosophical. Some statements are rather bizarre, others plain silly, while others ring true in many aspects. In that regard, there is a pulse to Terranigma unlike (nearly) any other SNES game. It was definitely ahead of its time and as a result of that, it holds up well to this day.

[Who knew Steve had it in him, eh? -Ed.]
[Who knew Steve had it in him, eh? -Ed.]
[Or maybe... it's just your corrupted little mind -Ed.]
[Or maybe… it’s just your corrupted little mind -Ed.]
Steve, such an upstanding handsome hero [Riiight -Ed.]
Lend an ear to the local suicidal town drunk…

Brings new meaning to the term room service, no?
Brings new meaning to the term room service, no?
Quintet you devious perverted little scamps you!
Quintet you devious perverted little scamps you!
Did you know he owns a fansite dedicated to SNES?
Did you know he owns a fansite dedicated to SNES?
It really does. Great game to play on a December night
It really does. Great game to play on a December night!

Video games serve as a form of escaping the daily grind and troubles of everyday living. And nothing transports you to another world quite like a good ole adventure game. I especially love playing them on a cold winter’s night.

Can't help but laugh at moments like this
Can’t help but laugh at moments like this

I told ‘cha I’m not imagining these sexual innuendos! I only tell it like it is, you see. Not my fault that Quintet was a bunch of sexual deviants! :P

Terranigma never preaches but it does make you think
Terranigma never preaches but it does make ya think

After playing so many censored RPGs in America, it was refreshing to play one that was true to its core. Look no further than the town of Litz, where a huge statue of Christ proudly hangs. Such an image would have never passed Nintendo of America’s standards back in the mid ’90s. And since Terranigma came out in Japan October of 1995, an English translation would have pushed a potential US release date into the first quarter of 1996, a time period where the SNES was simply no longer a viable market. The game was doomed, then, to never make it to American soil.

It definitely hearkens back to Resident Evil a bit!
It definitely hearkens back to Resident Evil a bit!
Classic moment from a classic game
Classic moment from a classic game
It's nice to see real historical figures incorporated
It’s nice to see real historical figures incorporated

[Please do NOT let Steve take over for Columbus -Ed.]
[Please do NOT let Steve take over for Columbus -Ed.]
Love the skeleton displayed in the background there. There are many great details that helps to bring the game to life, in addition to its memorable characters and epic storyline.

What?! Them Quintet boys are at it again...
What?! Them Quintet boys are at it again…
Chicken Soup for the Heart Broken Soul
Chicken Soup for the Heart Broken Soul

There’s even a few bits about women and how they can break our hearts. Here we see some poor soul comforting our hero. So many ladies have shattered his poor heart; he’s lost count. Makes you feel for the lad. And hey, how many of us, at one point or another, can relate exactly to what the NPC is saying? This moment almost makes you flashback to all the heartbreaks in your life. Maybe even the one who got away. It’s moments like this that really bring Terranigma to life and almost makes you forget you’re only playing a video game. ALMOST.

It's cliché but always just be yourself
It’s cliché but always just be yourself

FRIEND ZONED, ouch. But in life I’ve learned this: you never want to be with someone who doesn’t want to be with you back. Always stay true to yourself and live your life. If the time is right, you’ll meet a suitable match and the rest will be history. Meanwhile, don’t beat yourself up too bad over dates that go nowhere. We live in such a disposable society that you want to take your time to find the right person. I don’t know if this may be speaking to anyone but yeah. If you can currently relate to that guy in the picture above then chin up!

OK surely there is no room for misinterpretation here!
OK surely there is no room for misinterpretation here!

Freaking Quintet…

"Uh, OK. I was just going to ask for the time..."
“Uhhh, OK. I was just going to ask for the time…”

This got a chuckle out of me. It brings me back to the first time I can recall being prayed for. It was at my retail job back in 2004. I was in college and worked at a toy store in the mall. It was a Sunday. I’ll never forget it. This father walks in with his two adorable twin sons. He was dressed in his Sunday best so I figured he just came out of church. I wasn’t anti-Christian but at the time I didn’t pay religion much mind. He bought a couple race cars for his twin boys, then he asked me out of the blue if he could pray for me. I was totally caught off guard. I asked him pray for what? He said good health, wealth and success in my college career. Eh, what the hell I thought. Couldn’t hurt. So he placed his hand on my shoulder as I awkwardly looked ahead at his twin boys standing in the doorway some 20 feet away from the register counter. They both wore the look on their faces that said, “UH OH… DADDY’S DOING IT AGAIN!” Looking back, I appreciated what Francis (still remember his name) did for me over 12 years ago. Even though I was shaved, happy and had no religion at the time, I didn’t mind him praying good health and wealth over me. But some people, like that business man in Neo Tokio, wants no part of prayer. To each his own, right? Just another interesting little moment of many in Terranigma.

I also liked how they broke the 4th wall
I also liked how they broke the 4th wall
Meta before meta became cool
Meta before meta became cool
So has RVGFanatic. This marks SNES review #100!
So has RVGFanatic. This marks SNES review #100!

Was Terranigma originally named Illusion of Gaia 2? From this bit of dialogue it would appear so. Interesting indeed.

The broken English here is rather endearing
The broken English here is rather endearing

Meilin?! What’s up with her and you?

Meilin makes a great point when it comes to love
Meilin makes a great point when it comes to love

Ah, philosophical musings and whimsical introspection are just the order of the day here in Terranigma. It’s times like this that makes one reflect on their own life, or maybe that’s just me. At any rate, it definitely all adds to the pulse of the game. It’s as if you’re really in another world — one far far away yet hits close to home, too.

[No comment... -Ed.]
[No comment… -Ed.]

Alright, not to be sexist. SOME girls…

"God?! Is that you?!"
“God?! Is that you?!”

That Steve, such a ladies' man! [Riiight -Ed.]
That Steve, such a ladies’ man! [Riiight -Ed.]
Elle?! Oh man, all the ladies simply cannot resist the valor and excellence of Steve! ;)

Meilin, find someone who'll like you... FOR YOU
Meilin, find someone who’ll like you… FOR YOU

“There’s a lotta things about me you don’t know anything about, Dottie. Things you wouldn’t understand. Things you couldn’t understand. Things you shouldn’t understand.”

“I don’t understand. And who’s Dottie?”

“You don’t wanna get mixed up with a guy like me. I’m a loner, Dottie. A rebel. So long, Dott.”

“WHO’S DOTT?!”

"You should reconsider your travel buddy next time..."
“You should reconsider your travel buddy next time…”

Some more interesting dialogue ensues. You can’t help but grin at some of the comments.

Someone say Suncoast? This brings back memories...
Someone say Suncoast? This brings back memories…

You have the opportunity to expand many different towns throughout the course of the game. Suncoast is but one example.

Ah, good times
Ah, good times

Back in the late ’80s to early-mid ’90s, Suncoast was a staple of my childhood. It was always the first store I visited whenever my mom took me to the local mall. It was en route to other classics such as SOFTWARE ETC., Walden Books, B. Dalton, Sam Goody, and of course, the awesome CYBERSTATION arcade hall on the upstairs wing.

This was THE place to be on a Saturday night back then
This was THE place to be on a Friday night back then

Upon hitting Suncoast, I would raid their vast horror and sci-fi section, drooling over the mesmerizing horror movie boxes and reading the back of every Godzilla VHS box. There was a definite sense of idyllic innocence to those olden days that a small part of me still misses to this day. So yeah, thanks Terranigma for conjuring up fond memories of days gone by.

It might cost you in more ways than one...
It might cost you in more ways than one…
Does well to whisk you away to a magical land
Terranigma does well to whisk you away to a magical land

This part exemplifies the great power of a magical world tucked inside a 16-bit cartridge. The game never shows you what the view actually looks like, but you can practically imagine it. Elaborate 3D graphics need not apply. All you need are just some proper words linked together and your own imagination to be swept away.

[No judgment here... -Ed.]
No judgment here…
OH SNAPS! Where's the token Indian engineer at?
OH SNAPS! Where’s the token Indian engineer at?
Don't be THAT guy...
Don’t be THAT guy…
Some comments really caught me off guard
Some comments really caught me off guard!

Unexpected little moments like this bring the game to life and makes it easy to suspend your disbelief for a bit. It’s a real living breathing world that you’re navigating.

I'm sorry to say this but don't be fooled, guy
I’m sorry to say this but don’t be fooled, guy

Poor guy. Little does he know…

OUCH
OUCH

Hurt people hurt people. Word.

WHAT THE CRITICS SAID

TerranSP

Terranigma is a beloved classic. It’s one of those games few people played back in the mid ’90s only to finally experience years and years later. It’s now considered one of the finest games in the SNES catalog, and rightfully so. Many moons ago, I ran a poll on my original RVGFanatic site asking readers which of the Quintet Trilogy they most preferred. Not surprisingly, Terranigma won that vote going away. I love Soul Blazer and Illusion of Gaia as well, but they don’t stand a chance.

The people have spoken! Speaking of the people...
The people have spoken!

Speaking of the people, I’ve compiled a gamut of opinions regarding the awesomeness that is Terranigma.

  • WOW! A masterpiece in every possible way. The gameplay is simply phenomenal. The plot is so amazing that it’s difficult for me to put into words how incredible the story actually is. There are so many interesting twists and turns throughout. -Rbball13

TerranMoYou love me…
You really love me!

  • It holds the greatest appeal to people who enjoy an intriguing, engrossing story that will make one go into contemplation, fans of the style of gameplay, and those who value engaging characters. Terranigma is a rewarding experience that, if one is willing, will enrich one’s mind and soul. A classic that is worth every gamer and story lover’s time. -Nepheliad

TerranHap

  • Terranigma is a unique experience among RPGs. The game has a few jokes, side quests and secrets to keep people busy, and while the plot doesn’t preach any philosophical morals to you directly, it will probably make you think about things differently. -Big Cow

TerranMo2

  • It really is difficult to describe Terranigma with mere words. It’s an experience unlike any other on the Super Nintendo. An adventure every serious video gamer has to go on in order to see what makes this game one of the best Super Nintendo games ever — maybe even the best of them all. It’s the magnum opus of Quintet every SNES gamer should check out. -Darth Julian

TerranMo1

  • Can you remember the last time you loved a game so much that you were actually afraid for it to end? I remember getting this feeling from this game right here. It is possibly Quintet’s finest hour, and a tribute to what these video game developers could and did accomplish during the wonderful and immortal 16-bit era. -PizzaDude371

TerranIoG

  • This game offers the freedom to explore a vast world and continually find new things on a level I have not experienced before in a Super Nintendo RPG –- not with Tales of Phantasia, Final Fantasy III, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past or any other. It stands out in its own right as the richest, most brimming game world I have known. Over nearly 30 hours of gameplay I never failed to be excited when I opened a treasure chest or returned to a village to engage in fresh dialog –- even if it was just for the most elementary update to that NPC. I found that I was growing each town thoroughly, and meticulously inching over the world map so as not to miss interacting with a single character or place. This all amounts to a level of commitment that I did not think I would be able to meet given my busy lifestyle, but Terranigma simply bewitches you in this way. The best praise I can give Terranigma is that it was the last game of my adolescence that truly consumed me. -Midget35

TerranDark

  • This game will enlighten you as much as it will entertain. -MaullarMaullar

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Yeah, what THEY said...
Yeah, what THEY said…

It was on a late, blustery November night that I began my trek through Terranigma. Black Friday (2010) to be precise. Somewhere miles and miles away, my crazy cousins were plotting their great raid. Me? I was warm and cozy gearing up to unravel the marvelous worlds inhabiting Terranigma. The game completely consumed me over the following two weeks. Whether I was searching for the Five Sandstones, deciding to vote for Jean or Louis, or just simply looking out for poor old bloke Bell in Freedom, Terranigma grabbed a hold of me from the very start and didn’t let go until the bittersweet end. Expanding the various towns is always rewarding and tasks such as delivering nine letters for the cause of Nirlake all adds to the game’s greatness. Plenty of NPC interaction and slaying of foul monsters to satisfy even the most jaded of ARPG fans. Terranigma truly has it all.

Oh, the places you'll go!
Oh, the places you’ll go!

It should be noted that the game is on the easy side; it hardly gave me any trouble at all. But that’s easily overlooked (and forgivable) when a video game is as enjoyable and sweeping as Terranigma is. You’re simply too busy having a good time instead. The visuals won’t wow you even though they are top-of-the-line quality. The soundtrack is utterly amazing. This is truly a global adventure. Along the way you’ll see various sights and meet folks from all walks of life. Towns expand, things pass and fade away, love blossoms, evil reigns, hope abounds. Some of the puzzles were a bit tricky but the solution was always right under my nose. The final boss is way too easy and a bit anticlimactic as a result, but the emotional ending left me feeling both satisfied and saddened. Simply put, Terranigma is a special game worthy of its hype. If you haven’t played it yet, what are you waiting for? It’s one of the best Super Nintendo games ever created.

Graphics: 9.5
Sound: 10
Gameplay: 10
Longevity: 9.5

Overall: 10

PLATINUM AWARD
Platinum Award

Few games have moved me much as Terranigma has. It’s a sprawling epic adventure that spans not only the globe but generations. Terranigma delivers like few others can!

 

What a game, Quintet! Any closing thoughts?
What a game, Quintet! Any closing thoughts?
Hey now! That's not nice...
Hey now! That’s not very nice…
ALL HAIL TERRANIGMA
ALL HAIL!

100 SNES reviews in the books!
Here’s to 100 more! :)

Hunting the Boogeyman (Adventures With My Best Friend, Nelson)

Nelson

There’s something special about having a best friend growing up. Someone you can truly call a best friend unequivocally. A best pal who sticks with you through thick and thin, good and bad, highs and lows. Nothing completes a healthy childhood like having a best buddy. And if you were lucky like me, you had one growing up. This is a tribute to my childhood best friend, Nelson. The greatest times we shared, the coming-of-age adventures of our youth, the falling out, the reconciliation and the most recent events that transpired between us not long ago…

SEPTEMBER 1988: DAY OF RECKONING

Nelson1

In a second, streams of sunshine. I heard a muffled voice that rose like a crescendo.

FIRST DAY OF KINDERGARTEN!"
FIRST DAY OF KINDERGARTEN!”
Time to say good-bye to the good old days
Time to say good-bye to the good old days

Great. Armageddon had finally come. The inevitable, as it were. No longer was I a free man. No more watching cartoons all day long. No more playing in the backyard with my brother’s Lego toys while he toiled along at school. I would wave good-bye to my brother and watch him disappear down the block before making a mad dash for his precious Lego stash (which he rarely let me touch in his presence). The sleek black spaceship called THE INVADER had more planets to conquer and it needed me to help it do that. Was I ready to give all of that up? Hell no. But you know what they say about Armageddon — it’s always got a face and a name. And now, a date as well.

Nelson4

Somehow, my mom managed to drag me to Room 1 by eight sharp. I sat in the corner, arms crossed with a scowl carved on my face. And it was then that I noticed a chubby boy sitting in the opposite corner who looked like he wanted to be there even less than I did. By the end of that week, the two of us became friends. Best friends. Nelly and I.

THE EARLY ’90S

Ah, the bliss of ignorance
Ah, the bliss of ignorance

Nelson and I had so much in common. We both loved monsters, ghosts, video games, wrestling, cartoons, TGIF, Are You Afraid of the Dark? and the list goes on and on. We lived only two blocks away from each other. On my way to school each morning, I would stop by to pick him up. After school, if he wasn’t at my house, I was at his. My mom often took us to the library. Nelly and I used to borrow all the monster books we could find. My local library had a small monster section that we often raided as though we owned it. And maybe we did. To this day I still vividly remember borrowing the Godzilla book and others from that classic Ian Thorne series. I also remember us believing in those infamous Loch Ness Monster and Bigfoot photos that we found in the library.

Good times
NESSIE!
We borrowed this book a dozen time
We borrowed this book a dozen times
Anyone else remember this series?
Anyone else remember this series?
The covers were classic
The covers were classic
They haunt me to this day
They haunt me to this day
I didn't see this book much
I didn’t see this book much
[I C WAT U DID DERE -Ed.]
[I C WAT U DID DERE -Ed.]
Our great white whale
Our great white whale

We watched all of the Showa era Godzilla movies together except for one: Destroy All Monsters. We read in a monster book somewhere about how Destroy All Monsters featured “all the TOHO monsters in it.” It then became an obsession of ours to track down a VHS copy, but at the time it proved very difficult to find. It’s not like today where with the power of the internet almost any obscure movie can be resurrected from the ashes. Oh no, back then it was the Wild, Wild West. We never did manage to track down a copy of DAM. I remember the author’s comment on DAM to this day. Nelly and I were flabbergasted when we read, “The movie is sadly not as good as one might hope.”

How could a movie on this scale be disappointing??
How could a movie on this scale be disappointing?

Nelson and I grew livid and defensive. “No freaking way! ALL the monsters are in it! It CAN’T BE ANYTHING BUT AWESOME! YOU BLIND JERK!”

We were angrier than Burning Godzilla!
We were angrier than Burning Godzilla!

Many years later I finally caught DAM when it was released on a larger scale. I have to say I agree with that author after all. So buddy, if you’re reading this somehow, I take it all back. On a side note, Nelson and I caught the opening night showing of Godzilla (2014) and it was glorious. Can’t wait for the 2019 sequel.

Gotta love the Big Guy
Gotta love the Big Guy

THE BURIED NOTE

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Sometime in 1991, Nelson and I had the idea of burying a “Best Friends Forever” pledge in my backyard. We printed our names in blood (or at least, a sharp #2 pencil anyhow) and truly believed that in doing so we would remain best friends ’til the end of time. Ahhhh, the innocence of being eight. As we were preparing to dig a hole in my backyard, a booming voice rang. It was big bro. As big brothers often do, he spoiled our plans. The note, sadly, was never buried.

Would have been fun revisiting it decades later
Alas, it wasn’t meant to be…

THE LEGEND OF THE MASKED MANIAC!

THE MASKED MANIAC LIVES!
THE MASKED MANIAC LIVES!

Back in 1992, Nelson told me a story that haunted me for weeks. In our hometown, according to him you understand, there was a maniac on the loose. On the prowl. Believed to be… at large. Again, according to Nelson, mind you. He wore a white hockey mask and wielded a horrific chainsaw. He was… THE MASKED MANIAC. Of course, a part of me knew my best friend was just spewing crap, but a small part of me grabbed and held on to the story. So imagine our shock and delight when we first saw Stanley Decker the following year in Zombies Ate My Neighbors. HOLY CRAP! It was Nelson’s MASKED MANIAC come to life!

Of course, Stanley Decker was inspired by Jason
Of course, Stanley Decker was inspired by Jason
And Leatherface (which is what inspired Nelson too)
And Leatherface (which is what inspired Nelson too)

The Masked Maniac became our little in-joke as the years went by, and I still believe The Masked Maniac is the world’s greatest slasher movie yet to be made.

THE GOLDEN AGE OF FIGHTING GAMES

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The Street Fighter II craze hit the nation in 1991. Nelson and I fell in line but it was really World Heroes in 1992 that we truly adored. We both knew Street Fighter II was by far the superior game, but we sort of adopted the lesser touted World Heroes as one of our own. While the lines for the Street Fighter II cab went out the door, Nelson and I were perfectly content playing World Heroes with little fanfare. Nelson bought the SNES port in the fall of 1993 and we played it to death.

World Heroes was our jam
World Heroes was our jam

One of my favorite gaming memories came in late 1993 when both Super Street Fighter II and World Heroes 2 were jousting for arcade supremacy. On a rainy as hell Saturday morning, my dad dropped Nelson and me off at this gigantic jack-of-all-trades hobby store. I’ll never forget how my dad stopped the car right in front of the store, how Nelly and I streaked out of the back seats and to the safety of the store’s awning but not before the downpour managed to soak our jackets. Upon entering the humongous hobby shop, we wiped our feet and were immediately greeted by the soft Norwegian tunes of Erik’s stage from World Heroes 2. It’s just one of those simple little moments that stick with you forever. One of those magical childhood moments that even now as an adult you can still see vividly happening in third person.

Whenever I see this stage, it always brings me back
Whenever I see this stage, it always brings me back
We spent hours down at the local CYBERSTATION
We spent hours down at the local CYBERSTATION
And of course, Chuck E. Cheeeses
And of course, Chuck E. Cheese’s

THE FALL OUT

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A lot changed in September 1992. I was a 4th grader in a 3-4 combo class that school year. Meanwhile, Nelson was in a standard 4th grade classroom. For the first time ever, we were separated. I met Timmy and Jerome, two third graders in my combo class, and we became good friends right away. At lunch I didn’t know whether to hang out with Nelson and Manny, or my new friends, Jerome and Timmy. I ended up hanging out with Jerome and Timmy more. Not surprisingly, this drove a riff in my relationship with Nelson. The line in the sand was drawn. It’s possible we had a fight prior to this which led to me picking Timmy and Jerome over Nelson and Manny, but I can’t quite remember the finer details.

Later that school year, things began to sour between me and Timmy. Somehow, we went from good pals to bitter rivals. This divided Jerome and our little three man clique disbanded as quickly as it formed.

THE FIGHT

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Around December 1992, my teacher had each of us make a shoe box diorama. The box had to be decorated with things you liked. I chose my family and wanted to depict a typical lazy Sunday afternoon. My mom cooking in the kitchen, my dad reading the paper in the den, and my bro and I playing Street Fighter II on the SNES in our living room. Doesn’t sound bad on paper… until you factor in the cheap cut-out paper I used to represent everything in my shoe box. I’ll be honest, I didn’t do my best on that one…

Gotta admit, my effort fell a little... flat *cough*
My effort fell a little… flat *cough*

Timmy, on the other hand, used grand 3D models: small dinosaur toys littered his diorama along with a pleasant looking volcano perfectly situated in the middle. Trees, even! It was a lush depiction of the Jurassic period, no doubt about it. He earned an A while Ms. Holly was kind enough to give me a C. Timmy’s shoe box sure bested mine, but it was what he did later that day that made me snap.

Timmys diorama kind of looked like this
Timmy’s diorama kind of looked like this

“What grade did you give Steve?” he asked Ms. Holly annoyingly.

“Timmy, that’s inappropriate to ask.”

“Did you fail him? Did you?”

“Timmy! What did I just say?”

I sat there and watched as Timmy grinned his stupid fat grin.

Just wait til I wipe that stupid smirk off yer lousy face!
Just wait ’til I wipe that stupid smirk off yer lousy face

I glared at his scrawny ass from my seat. I saw the stupid bastard grinning like a Cheshire cat as he continued to pester Ms. Holly to spill the beans. He came up to me at the end of the day with his usual smug expression looking all arrogant and cocky.

Timmy had a way of getting under your skin
Timmy had a way of getting under your skin

“Steve, you know what, actually, your shoe box isn’t THAT bad… I mean, you really did justice to your family… after all, they’re all so… lifeless!”

Enough was enough. I couldnt take it anymore
Enough was enough. I couldn’t take it any more

And that’s when I snapped.

Timmy had crossed a line he could not return from. But since we were still in class, I had to restrain myself well enough not to kill him then and there. Instead, I sat quietly in my seat with the rage festering inside. My eyes were glued to the clock counting down until the end of the day… just a few more minutes…

Finally…

*BELL RINGS*

As soon as Ms. Holly excused my table, I bounced out of my seat like I was sitting on a spring. Storming out to where Timmy already was, he turned around, saw the intense look in my eyes and he knew IT WAS ON. He flinched right before I sprinted after him. He zipped through the school courtyard like a little jack rabbit, but I was right on his tail.

Down the 3rd grade sector we ran. No one attempted to stop us. Hell, I didn’t even see anyone around as everything suddenly became a blur and Timmy was the only concrete image I could make out. It was one of those out-of-body experiences. Not before long I managed to grab his shirt. I felt the life being sucked out of his puny body as I pinned him against the wall. Peering deeply into his eyes, I saw the resignation in it. He didn’t struggle, didn’t whimper.

It was the look of the lamb… right before the slaughter.

“Don’t you ever — EVER — insult my family again!”

... the look of the lamb
Before I knew it, I socked him in the face

I let his limp little body go. He held his left cheek as he walked off with his tail tucked between his legs. Timmy never messed with me or my family again following that.

I’m not saying violence solves issues, but at the time it just felt right. I defended the honor of my family’s name. The second half of that school year, Timmy kept his distance and I went back to being best friends with Nelson and Manny — the guys I should have stuck with all along. I guess at some point, every relationship has to go through the fire. Then, and perhaps only then, do you know what’s what.

BACK IN BUSINESS

Nelly and I were back, and we had the two hottest girls
We were back, and now we had the two hottest girls

The very next year saw a reunion — Nelson and I were in the same 5th grade classroom together. The band was back, baby! 1994 turned out to be the best year of my childhood. Nelly and I were ten, and ten is a funny age, you know. Some days you feel like you’re five, and other days you feel like you’re 15. It’s a time to relish the twilight years of your childhood, as well as a time to look forward to all the teenage turmoil to come. Not only were we reunited but we also had the two prettiest girls in the whole school in our class: Jennifer and Elaine. Elaine was the “Prom Queen” type. Jennifer was more like the classic Girl Next Door. She was my version of Winnie Cooper growing up.

There was magic in the air that day...
There was magic in the air that day…

One spring day after school somehow, the four of us found ourselves walking home together. We never did this before and we never did it again, but there was magic in the air that day. All our friends shot us jealous and stunned looks as they watched me and Nelson escort the two cutest girls home. I remember us walking through the school’s huge baseball field just taking it all in, enjoying the sunshine beating down on us and shooting the shit with the two hottest girls in the entire school.

We didnt hold hands but it was one of those idyllic days
It was one of those idyllic days you never wanted to end

LAST MAN STANDING

The darkening afternoon clouds set an ominous tone
Darkening afternoon clouds set an ominous tone…

Nelson and I were surrounded by a cast of characters. We were good friends with Manny and Jonathan but Manny and Jonathan didn’t get along. Jonathan was the new cocky kid in town. Manny didn’t appreciate that. For weeks we felt their budding rivalry build until finally, one fateful dreary day it came to a head.

During that lunch period, we were eating our Lunchables and drinking our Capri Sun pouches when the fireworks started AGAIN between Manny and Jonathan. Manny then challenged Jonathan to a game he deemed “LAST MAN STANDING.” It was the challenge to end all challenges. Manny and Jonathan would take turns doing something crazy and then the other had to copy. Whoever fails to do so first loses. The LAST MAN STANDING wins. Manny started it off by sliding down the slide head first. Jonathan followed suit. I winced as his head landed awkwardly on the tanbarks. But in typical cocky Jonathan fashion, he brushed the dust off and asked Manny, “Is that all you got, tough guy?”

The crazy view these crazy boys had going down...
The nutty view those crazy boys had going down…

It was Jonathan’s turn now. He stood there on the tanbarks, bent his knees and fell backward. He landed awkwardly and got up gingerly, rubbing his back. He grimaced and grinned at the same time. “Try that!” he yelled at Manny. Manny then placed both arms on his shoulders, crisscross style, and did a full on trust fall. No bent knees. No cheapies. It was the real deal. He shot back up like nothing happened. The dude was Wolverine. Now it was his turn. But not before Jonathan could shout, “LET’S SEE WHAT YOU GOT!”

Nelson and I gave each other the "uh oh" look
Nelson and I gave each other the “uh oh” look

Rookie mistake. Jonathan didn’t know Manny like we did. And that’s when Manny went for the kill.

Leave it to Manny to think of the craziest stunts
Leave it to Manny to think of the craziest stunts

Jonathan, Nelson and I found ourselves standing at the base of the first tetherball set. There were a total of six tetherball poles in all, each separated by 10 feet. Like a man possessed, Manny sprinted to the opposite end. We stood there staring on in bewilderment wondering what he had in mind. I’ll never forget what I saw next. Manny began charging 200 miles per hour with his right arm fully extended. You could hear the sickening SMACK of steel on bone as Manny streaked past all six metal poles. The sight of his arm jerking backward at a 75 degree angle following each pole made me cringe. After Manny was done, he stood there beaming not five feet away from us. He gestured to the end of the first tetherball set as to say, “You’re next.”

Your turn, hotshot
Your turn, hotshot. Mwahahaha…

Exasperated, Jonathan threw his arms in the air and yelled, “You crazy son of a bitch!” Nelson and I watched as he walked off. There was only one thing left to do: we raised Manny’s arms in the air and declared him the undisputed champion.

I can never see another tetherball set the same again
I’ll never see a tetherball set the same ever again

HALLOWEEN HORROR

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Nelson and I share a passion for all things Halloween (both the movie franchise and the actual day). Anything that had to do with monsters, ghosts or ghouls, we were there.

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Every October Nelly and I cranked up our year-round monster love to the max. Telling ghost stories in our rooms, watching horror movies, reading the latest FANGORIA issues — it was such a great time to be 10 years old and have a like-minded best friend.

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We entered a phase where we were obsessed with collecting as many horror cassettes as we could. I’ll never forget this one in particular — “Sounds of Halloween.” That cover was epic!

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We bought these tapes thinking they were taboo. We’d sit in Nelly’s room, close the blinds and listen to them while swapping ghost stories. I also loved the cheesy warning labels. Looking back on it all, these tapes weren’t that great, truth be told, but it was a time capsule. A sign of the times and days of innocence.

GOOSEBUMPS

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Speaking of things that go bump in the night, we were obsessed with Goosebumps. It was kind of the Harry Potter of the ’90s before Harry Potter.

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Nelson’s favorite was The Haunted Mask.

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And this was mine.

Goose-B4

From that point on, I was hooked. Nelson and I had a friendly competition where each month we’d see who could read the latest Goosebumps edition first. Made for some fun times. Half of the fun was discussing it with your best friend afterward.

FearStreeta

I remember seeing these at the local library with Nelson. We always psyched ourselves out and made these books scarier than what they really were. It was all part of the fun.

FearStreet

It was just a magical time. You’d go to the arcade with your best friend to play all the latest fighting games. Then you’d swing by the local book store to peruse the latest EGM and GameFan issue before making your way to the back of the store where they had R.L. Stine’s latest and greatest. Whether you were into Goosebumps or Fear Street, it always made for a good time with your best pal.

We even saw the 2015 movie together. Fun times
We even saw the 2015 movie together. Fun times

THE SUMMER OF IMPORTS

ImpGH

In my hometown growing up, Game Hunter was widely revered. It carried nothing but video games and anime (hell, even a few arcade cabs). Everything from handhelds to Neo Geo, you name it, they had it. Best of all, they even carried import games. Japanese versions of games you couldn’t wait to play that would not be released in North America until weeks or even months later! Game Hunter was legendary :)

3SFC3

Seeing Fighter’s History, King of the Monsters 2 and Saturday Night Slam Masters (Muscle Bomber) sitting next to each other atop the highest shelf that fateful June Saturday afternoon of 1994 is a story for the ages. And of course, it all happened with good ol’ Nelson by my side.

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Nelson rented Fighter’s History and I chose King of the Monsters 2. Their North American versions were still weeks away. I remember thinking that Nelly and I were the two luckiest kids in the whole town that weekend. Needless to say, we were glued to the TV like a pair of zombies that epic weekend. Great times.

There are some gaming images you can never forget
There are some gaming images you can never forget

Whenever I see Lee’s bucolic stage, with those damn ducks, the fisherman dipping his line lazily in the water and those moss-covered hills, I can’t help but be instantly transported back to Nelson’s living room on a hot Saturday afternoon of June 1994.

TWO WEEKS LATER — EGM SCORE!

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My brother slept at a family friend’s house two hours away. For me and Nelson, this meant only one thing: UNRESTRICTED AND UNLIMITED ACCESS TO MY BROTHER’S EGM STASH! That very first day Kevin was gone, Nelson rode his bike over in record time. I’ll never forget the image of Nelson opening my brother’s drawer and seeing him pull out with both hands a HUGE stack of EGM issues. He looked like a man possessed!

EGMIsh58

EGM in 1994 was God-like. We didn’t have internet or YouTube back then so EGM was our source of news, rumors, reviews and previews. There’s something inexplicably awesome about flipping through an EGM issue with your best friend back in those days. You could literally spend hours lost in those magical pages…

GRADUATION — JUNE 1995

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They say all good things must come to an end. In June of 1995, Nelson and I were facing our final days together in elementary school. We had a hell of a run, but it was nearing time to enter the hollowed halls of junior high. On Friday, June 9, 1995, Nelson, some other friends and I walked to the local theatre to see the opening of Congo. I remember it was our first time walking over by ourselves and we felt like such a big deal. We came late though so we had to sit in the front row and crane our necks for the entire showing. The movie kind of sucked, too, but that was besides the point. We were on the verge of a brand new chapter in our lives, but we were going to hopefully stick together through it all.

Dancefloor

Later that night, it was our school’s End of the Year Dance. We all attended but not before we all fished for reasons and excuses not to. Hey, we were 11 and it’s what 11 year old boys do. But in the end we knew we’d regret it if we didn’t. Seeing Jennifer and Elaine there and interacting with all our friends for the final time made it worth it. I remember a lot of multi-colored dots dancing around the cafeteria and drinking a lot of fruit punch. Talking with my friends and enjoying our final days in grade school together. The following week we graduated and I knew deep down that life would never be the same…

THE MOVE — JANUARY 1996

Good-bye, old hometown
Good-bye, old hometown

Halfway through my 7th grade year, I had to move. Even though Nelson and I would only be separated by about 20 minutes, I knew things were going to be different. Neither of us could drive and it just isn’t the same as when you live within walking distance. We slowly but surely fell out of touch.

FRIDAY: SEPTEMBER 12, 2003

bballnight

Now a junior in college, it was my tradition every Friday after my final class to hit the gym on campus and play pickup ball. I became obsessed with basketball (see Coach Butler and 9/11 for more). It was on this fateful Friday late afternoon walking out of the gym that I noticed a local news station on campus. Before I knew what was happening, they approached me to ask if I had any thoughts on a hot topic related to my campus. I spoke to the camera for about 15 seconds and afterward they told me I’d be on the 5 o’clock news. I raced over to my cousin’s house in my old hometown to record my 15 seconds of fame. My little cousins were screaming when they saw their cousin on TV. I felt like a rock star. Feeling like I could move mountains, I decided to break the silence and reach out to my old best friend, Nelson.

I made the drive over like a man possessed
I made the drive over like a man on a mission

It had been two years since we last spoke. Hell, I had no idea if he even still lived at the same place. We were 20 now so there’s a good chance he had already moved out of his parents’ place. Only one way to find out for sure, though.

And so, it was around 5:45 on a cool early Friday evening that I swung by the old haunt. Butterflies were swooning in my stomach as I parked in Nelson’s old driveway. I rung the doorbell and waited anxiously.

Is Nelson's family even still here, I thought to myself...
Is Nelson’s family even still here, I thought to myself…

“Steven?!”

It was his mom.

“Yes! Hi, does he still live here?”

“He sure does, but I’m afraid he’s out.”

“Oh,” my voice couldn’t help hide the disappointment.

“I know it’s been a while… he’d be so thrilled to see you again.”

“Likewise. Please tell him I stopped by.”

She invited me in for a drink but I told her I should get going. That ol’ road beckons me home. As I started walking back to my car, a huge black Toyota truck came roaring into the driveway. We both stared at each other stunned for a second.

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“STEVEN!? Holy shit, how long’s it been?!”

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We went to his backyard, the same one where Nelson and I spent many hours of our youth during the dog days of summer, and we caught up on the past couple years of our lives. The skyline was beautiful. The sun was just dipping over the horizon with a light September breeze gently greeting us every few seconds. That evening Nelson and I talked. About the good old days. About Elaine and Jennifer. About college. We talked about LIFE.

It wasn’t all rosy, though. I found out that evening that Nelson had dropped out of college. He felt directionless. He also took up smoking and not just cigarettes. He told me he was trying real hard to quit but it’s just that — real hard. Part of me had difficulty processing the ‘new’ Nelson. I never envisioned him in a million years as someone who would use drugs or drop out of school. But I guess that’s life. Things change and shit happens. On the bright side, Nelson was working as a part-time mechanic and making some money at least.

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We ended up shooting the breeze for a couple hours straight as it was soon nightfall. It felt surreal to be back in the same backyard I used to patrol some odd ten years ago. Except now we were no longer 10 year old kids. No longer children of innocence. Now we were 20 and young adults. My life was on track while Nelson’s was a bit more uncertain. And despite the long disconnect and “growing apart,” that evening we found out we would always be friends at the very least. No matter what happens, or where life takes us, Nelly and I’ll always share an unbreakable bond.

FRIDAY: MAY 23, 2008

It was our umpteenth reunion
It was our umpteenth reunion

Nelson and I always have our mini-reunions after x-months of not seeing one another. On this day we decided to catch up over dinner with two other mutual friends. They were a couple — the guy lived next door to Nelson growing up and I used to have a crush on the girl back in college and possibly vice versa. Quite the interesting evening it turned out to be. The four of us shared a lovely dinner at a steak house. Afterward Nelson and I drove to the theatre to catch the new Indiana Jones movie.

A lot of truth came out on that drive...
A lot of deep truth came out on that drive…

On the drive over, Nelson shared some very deep issues with me. He talked about how our friend Jake possessed such natural charisma speaking to the waitress serving us, and how much Nelson wishes he had the same ability. I encouraged him with a little pep talk and told him to keep his head up.

“Wow Steve… no one has ever believed in me like that before. My whole family’s kind of written me off a little bit y’know… it’s nice to see you have my back and believe in me.”

I know, it was a sappy little moment, but I tell ya, Nelson is my guy. I’ll always believe in him and want the best for him. It’s not easy to be real like that, to open up and be so vulnerable to another person. We all have our shortcomings and having support is key. It takes a lot of guts to share something so personal.

MY KNIGHT IN SHINING ARMOR

"AW C'MON!"
“AW C’MON!”

That spring 2008 semester I student taught at my childhood elementary school. Yup, the very same one where Nelson and I met and became best friends. My dream was always to return home, teach there and give back to the community. It was a blast coming back to the old digs. One day after school I went to my car and found in my haste earlier that morning I’d accidentally locked the keys in the car. D’OH! Fortunately, one of the back windows was opened about two inches. There was *JUST* enough space for a clothes hanger to maybe prop the lock open.

"SON OF A MOTHER!!!"
“SON OF A MOTHER!!!”

Luckily, my grandmother happened to live just half a block from where I parked my car. I walked over and she loaned me an old wire hanger. Much to my chagrin, the wire proved too weak to get the job done.

Then I called Nelson, who still lived in that same house about a block or two away from our old elementary school. After describing the embarrassing situation to him, he was on his way.

There came Nelson riding on his bike to come save me
Nelson came riding on his bike to come save me

Next thing I know, as I’m standing there on the sidewalk by my car, in the far distance I could make out Nelly coming around the corner on his bicycle! The scene from The 40 Year Old Virgin immediately flashed in my mind, complete with the cheesy ’80s song “Heat of the Moment” blaring in my overactive mind.

I never meant to be so bad to you...
I never meant to be so bad to you…

Nelson brought one of those back scratchers, and this was the result:

Are you kidding me?!
Are you kidding me?!

But then we applied a little force, pushing the stick down. It slid down and we managed to prop the lock open!

What a tease :P
What a tease :P

My ’92 Honda had been through the wars and the back right window stopped working a while back, so it was opened an inch or two permanently. I covered it with some tape… it all looked very tacky as you can see. But this defect allowed me to skip calling AAA which I didn’t have at the time. At first the stick wouldn’t go in but a couple clever angle squeezes and it just barely made it through.

"Ha yeah... those sure were some good times, man"
“Ha, yeah… those sure were some good times, man…”

I treated Nelson to lunch afterward where we laughed about this incident and just talked about life, carrying on our conversation from a few weeks ago. There’s something about connecting with someone who knows your history as well as you yourself do. There’s something very special about that.

FRIDAY: MARCH 26, 2010

It was the biggest opening night of my acting life
It was the biggest opening night of my acting life

While I studied to earn my teaching credential in college, I minored in Theatre Arts. I’ve always been fascinated by acting, and I love the camaraderie that it naturally builds. Rehearsing late nights, even past midnight, has a funny way of bonding people. Well, on this night I was playing a Roman soldier and we opened to a house of 2,000 people. Among the two in that audience of 2,000? Nelson and yes, my childhood crush, my Winnie Cooper… Jennifer. It meant so much to me that they both showed up. It was a great night.

SUNDAY, MARCH 29, 2015

Bucket list item, check!
Bucket list item, check!

Fast forward five years. Nelson and I crossed a major item off our bucket list: attend a freaking WRESTLEMANIA. WrestleMania 31 was one of the greatest live events I’ve ever been to. We had pretty decent seats and it was a childhood dream come true. Hell, we got to witness Sting’s first and only WrestleMania match!

FRIDAY: AUGUST 5, 2016

Weekend at Nellys!
Weekend at Nelly’s!

Nelson and I share a special bond where we may go months without contact but whenever one of us gets in touch it’s like we never left. Precisely one year ago, as I write this, I decided to visit Nelson’s new place in Southern California. We set out to visit Disneyland since it was about 30 minutes away from his apartment.

As I was about three miles away from his place, I passed through a neighborhood that I couldn’t help but feel an overwhelming sense of déjà vu. That’s funny. How can it be familiar if I’ve never been here before?

It suddenly dawned on me. Was it? Could it be? No way. I passed a few traffic lights before finally pulling over. I had to quench my curiosity before heading to Nelson’s. Busted out my phone and typed into Google:

“HALLOWEEN 1978 FILMING LOCATIONS”

A website came up and an address in South Pasadena was given. My hands were shaking as I punched said address into Google Maps.

“1.8 miles away”

HO-LEE SHIT.

I had just driven by one of the iconic Halloween filming locations! HADDONFIELD IN THE FLESH! The Halloween super geek in me was coming out big time. What were the odds that my childhood best friend (who also loved the Halloween franchise) would live three miles away from Haddonfield?! It was a moment of true serendipity. I texted Nelson to tell him I’d be coming 30 minutes late. I had no doubt we would return later but for now it was a personal pilgrimage I simply had to brave for myself first. And this is what I recorded on that serendipitous day:

One of the most iconic scenes in horror cinema!
One of the most iconic scenes in horror cinema!
Standing at the scene of the crime nearly 40 years later!
Standing at the scene of the crime nearly 40 years later!

Following this, I drove the three miles over to Nelson’s. I showed him the pictures and video I took. He couldn’t believe it! He moved to L.A. about seven months ago but had no idea he lived just three miles away from “Haddonfield.” Next thing you know, we found ourselves on an impromptu trip down memory lane. What initially began as a trip to chill with Mickey turned into a trip of HUNTING THE BOOGEYMAN. We ended up driving all over South Pasadena that late afternoon looking for a ton of Halloween nostalgia live in the flesh. This is what we found that day…

HUNTING THE BOOGEYMAN

Original Myers house from the 1978 film
Myers house in 1978 (and 2016 below)

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Michael’s house was demolished and moved to a new location. It now serves as an office. Despite the disappointment of that, Nelson and I still sat there in awe. Reminiscing and laughing about the good old days, that’s when we noticed a DirecTv satellite dish on the side of the house. We also could hear the loud humming of an air conditioner. It was a hot August day in Haddonfield… the dog days of summer indeed. That’s when the line of the day was uttered by yours truly. “What the hell, Michael Myers watching Game of Thrones with the AC on? DUDE IS GETTING SOFT!” Nelson added, “What’s Michael Myers doing browsing PornHub!?”

Michael Myers finally went soft, eh?
Michael Myers finally went soft, eh?

We laughed hard for what felt like minutes. We laughed so hard we both had tears in our eyes. Man, I hadn’t laugh that good in quite a while. A mere hour prior to this, we both just assumed we’d catch up a bit and find Mickey. Little did we know! Instead, we found ourselves reconnecting and hunting a boogeyman who has haunted us both since childhood. Suddenly, we were chasing a ghost from our past. A ghost with no face. “And the blackest eyes… the devil’s eyes.” Rest in Peace, Donald Pleasence.

Here I am in front of the Myers' house
Here I am in front of the Myers’ house

Each filming location foray brought me and Nelson closer to the edge of a bygone era. An age we both thought had all but disappeared. It was like slipping through the back door of a time machine. Suddenly, we were wide-eyed kids again. Completely unjaded and uncorrupted by the foul orders of life and the cruelties of growing up.

The classic intro shot
The classic intro shot

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Wow. Standing there taking this picture sent goosebumps up and down my spine.

The school in the film
The school in the film
Creepy Michael doing his thing
Creepy Michael doing his thing

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Next on the list was the old elementary school featured in the 1978 film. It still looked pretty much the same. It was crazy thinking it had been almost 40 years since Michael stalked Tommy here.

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Here Nelson and I sat in his car on a street used in the filming of Halloween. We shot this quick video below:

Michael stalked these streets nearly 40 years ago
Michael stalked these very streets nearly 40 years ago…

After this, Nelson and I decided to drive around L.A. randomly and then get some dinner.

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You can’t go to L.A. and not take a shot of those beautiful palm trees.

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What else would two guys in L.A. do on a Saturday night but break out the good stuff? Nelly and I hit up the local laundry mat so he could have some fresh clothes for Disneyland tomorrow.

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The laundry mat had a Neo Geo cab! How cool is that? That led to some natural reminiscing about World Heroes and the like.

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Nelson took me to Shakey’s Pizza Parlor for dinner. It was the ultimate haven for comfort food. We ordered a large piping hot pepperoni pizza, some chicken and potato wedges. I probably consumed like 2,500 calories alone but it was damn worth it. Totally hit the spot! :D

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After dinner Nelson drove us through a fancy part of town. We drove up to the top of this hill and it overlooked the city. It was nice to get away and just shoot the shit with my old best friend. Every once in a while it’s nice to drive far away and get away from it all for a bit. Nelson smoked a cigarette as we talked. I stared at all the tiny houses below, and wondered what was going on in that house with all the lights turned on. Nelly and I just stood there reminiscing for a bit before talking about current life. My teaching career. His new life in L.A. It was a good night to be alive. Hanging out with your old best friend. Then Nelson asked me if I had seen Stranger Things. I laughed. That’s exactly the show we would have watched as kids. We drove back to Nelly’s apartment and watched Halloween to end the evening. After everything that went down earlier that day, it was the only proper way to close out that night.

You can't stop the boogeyman...
You can’t stop the boogeyman…

CLOSING THOUGHTS

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Nelson and I went to Disneyland the next day and we had a blast. We left the park around 9 PM because his back started to flare up. He took me to this local Chinese joint that he said was legit. We spent the rest of that night eating some of the best Kung Pao chicken I ever had and reflecting back on the highs of our little two day adventure. It was truly a magical weekend — the kind that stays with you for life. Hunting Michael and Mickey with your childhood best friend all within 24 hours? Can’t top that.

Friends for life
Friends for life

It’s crazy that Nelson and I have known each other now for nearly 30 years. I always have a great time with Nelson. It doesn’t matter how long we go without communication. The second either one of us reaches out, it’s like we never left. Those friendships are the best. Maybe we’re no longer best friends, but I’m grateful we still keep in touch and that we still know how to have a good time together. No matter what happens going forward or where life takes us, there will always be a special place in my heart for Nelson. My childhood wouldn’t have been as awesome without him, and the memories we have forged over the years — all the ups and downs — have played a role in who I am today. That’s priceless and I’ll always cherish the experiences we had. Here’s a toast to Nelson and all the best friends out there. Cheers!