I love beat ‘em ups. Always have, always will. From Double Dragon to Final Fight to Streets of Rage, I love me a good old fashioned side scrolling beat ‘em up. One of the most revered brawlers on the SNES is Ninja Warriors. I missed out on it back in the day and despite buying a copy 13 years ago in 2006, I finally got around to playing it earlier this month. There are simply too many good games and not enough time, so forgive me for waiting so long. My backlog is seriously insane, but I digress. Ninja Warriors on the SNES just turned 25 years old so it was the perfect time to see what the hype has been all about. Play as one of 3 robot ninjas and battle an army of villains and evildoers. Surely, it’s a formula for smashing success, no? Let’s take a look…
THE YEAR WAS 1987
Developed by Taito, Ninja Warriors began its life in the arcades in 1987. The cabinet was a massive monstrosity, one I never had the good fortune enough to witness in person. Back in the ’80s, ninjas and cyborgs were running wild. Taito had the brilliant idea of mashing the two together.
FAST FORWARD TO 1994
Some 7 years later, Taito revitalized Ninja Warriors when a remake was issued for the SNES and hit store shelves in February of 1994. It rapidly garnered positive reviews and is often considered as one of the best beat ‘em ups on the SNES.
MEET THE NINJA WARRIORS
MEET THE NINJA WARRIORS AGAIN [I SEE WHAT YOU DID THERE -ED.]
NEW NINJAS ON THE BLOCK
One of the cool things about this game is the ability to block enemy attacks. It’s just too bad then that blocking is the same exact button as attacking. Not a dealbreaker by any means but with no option to adjust the buttons, it’s a bit of a bummer. Back on the right side of things, there are plenty of fun items to throw around. In fact, let’s check them out.
What could be more gratifying in a beat ‘em up than seeing that big health refill right as you’re on the verge of dying?
Plenty of fun stuff to fling at enemies. The containers are the best because they may house energy pods inside.
THE STORY GOES…
Banglar seeks to rule the world with an iron fist.
Reminiscent of Contra III: The Alien Wars! On a side note, Natsume developed the SNES remake of Ninja Warriors. That same year they also made Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. The two games are eerily similar, and it wouldn’t surprise me if some of the same Natsume folks worked on both titles.
Somewhere, a darkened corridor lights up…
UNLEASH THE TERMINATORS!
Nothing like that classic giant scrolling title screen to get you all pumped up to kick ass.
Smashing out of a window that takes out the opposition, Ninja Warriors is off to a blazing hot start. Love seeing all those shards of glass flying every which way. The sprites are pretty big and the colors are bright and bold. So far, so good!
There’s a “Blaster” bar at the bottom that automatically charges as long as you’re not hit. Once full you can unleash a super attack that damages any enemy onscreen. I’m not a fan of the weird visual effect it produces, however. It looks like a glitch that managed to slip past the game testers.
Natsume, I like to think, learned from their mistakes and did it the right way in Power Rangers.
Unlike most beat ‘em ups, Ninja Warriors operates on a single plane. Due to this restriction, I had my concerns about crowd control. Thankfully, the protagonists can attack in such a flurry that it provides extensive coverage, taking out bad guys in front of you as well as behind.
Missiles rain down from the sky, damaging anyone caught in its wake (bad guys included). Be careful not to get stuck in the middle where enemies can gang up on you. Better yet, watch out for that missile rapidly approaching your face!
Shoulder tackles are good for clearing crowds. It’s not quite Contra III but seeing this set piece explosion on the first stage sets a good tone.
Explosions continue when you defeat this towering terminator.
Kunoichi is the fast but weak fighter of the group (to no one’s surprise).
Mindless enemies are easily lured to a grisly death (in theory, anyhow). I’m not a big blood guy, but if there was ever a time…
Leatherface would be proud! What an awesome entrance.
Chainsaw is as big as her! Son of a bitch blocks well, too.
What’s worse than dealing with a chainsaw wielding homicidal maniac? Contending with soldiers who have plenty of firepower!
Kamaitachi is my favorite of the ninjas. He’s agile enough while being able to withstand more damage than Kunoichi. Not only that but he has a cool spinning attack as well as a retractable scythe!
Beating up businessmen in suits is extra satisfying. That big fella there is the toughest of the regular enemies. He’s more or less the “Andore” of the game.
Banglar flashes intermittently on the multiple screens as the boss fades in and out. Beware of bombs!
Throwing a searchlight… points for creativity! Also love that atmospheric skyline. Later in this stage a tank comes smashing through the wall. Don’t get caught in the middle if you can help it.
Exercise crowd control by jumping to one side and kicking an enemy to take out their own. This is critical to keeping your head above water.
Insane flexibility on his part to kick that high without splitting his business slacks. A helicopter flies by launching an all-out assault. Stay out of harm’s way; the bullets will blast Banglar’s brigade!
Massive destructive energy beam aside, this boss is a joke.
Strolling through the city at night is always fun. That is, until you meet a pair of schmucks in slacks!
Remember the first boss? He’s back but now he’s a regular enemy. Avoid jumping at him or he’ll uppercut the holy hell outta ya.
Blocking and capitalizing is key to success. I love when levels transit from one scene to another, such as this seamless transition to a dojo. Any backdrop featuring Shoji screen panels is a big win in my book!
There’s something inherently beautiful about beating up thugs in a dojo. Especially when the buildings come into view at night time. Ninja Warriors has an ’80s action movie vibe to it.
Speaking of action movies from the ’80s, this boss looks like the big bad from a Jean-Claude Van Damme movie!
Obviously, he’s well versed in black magic…
Destroy Banglar’s exquisite statues by sending his army through it. The key to beating Bumblebee and friends is attacking them from behind; their front defense is very strong.
Banglar! But he doesn’t stick around long. He tramples off, the bald little bastard. In his place comes two towering titans. Good luck!
Snowy levels are always nostalgic for me, as they take me right back to the days of Contra and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Arcade Game.
Unlike most other SNES beat ‘em ups that typically max out at 3 enemies onscreen, Ninja Warriors can have up to 4. Throw them into each other to exercise crowd control.
Heaving around gas tanks lead to huge explosions. The red variant is the strongest of the regular enemies. Luckily there should be a health refill in one of those containers…
Bumblebee and friends are tough when they surround you from both sides. Knock them into each other if you can.
Experiment gone wrong… or right?
Banglar is an interesting final boss fight. You face his cronies (and his deadly laser beams) rather than Banglar himself.
Damage is inflicted only by throwing his lackeys back at him. This takes a long time and the enemies get tougher and tougher. Damn you Banglar, you chicken shit coward!
THEY RETURN… ONCE AGAIN
In September of 2018 it was announced that Ninja Warriors would be the latest retro intellectual property to be revitalized. It is set to land on the Nintendo Switch at some point in 2019. I personally cannot wait.
A proper 2 player mode and gorgeous sprite work? Count me in!
Check out the teaser trailer!
WHAT THE CRITICS SAID
Ninja Warriors was met with high praise. EGM gave it scores of 8, 8, 8, 8 and 9. GameFan gave it ratings of 86, 87, 92and 93%. Even Super Play, who were often critical of beat ‘em ups, rated it 84%. SNES fans often cite Ninja Warriors as one of the best beat ‘em ups on the Super Nintendo.
Ninja Warriors has a lot going for it. Straight forward arcade-like action, cool ninjas, killer robots and an atmosphere plucked right out of late 1980s action movie lore. Huge detailed sprites, menacing bosses and all the classic lackey tropes you could want to beat up. Yet, for some reason I’m not over the moon for this one. It plays well and the ability to block adds depth to the core gameplay. But I’m not a huge fan of the action taking place on a single plane. Enemies can quickly crowd you and sometimes cheap hits feel impossible to avoid. Thankfully you can block bullets but I would like this game much more if it were free roaming like most other traditional beat ‘em ups. There’s a flash of utter brilliance here and there, such as giant fans being able to kill enemies or the helicopter that flies by spraying bullets unmercifully. Sadly, that’s pretty much it as far as that goes. In addition, a 2 player mode is sorely lacking.
That said, it’s still pretty good. The colors scream “1994 SNES” as they are bright, bold and easy on the eyes. There are 3 distinctly different characters and I like how the bomb attacks uses a separate meter rather than subtracting from your precious life bar. There’s a certain amount of satisfaction that comes with pummeling the various enemies and exploiting their weaknesses. The music gets the job done for the most part although it doesn’t really stand out, either. Ninja Warriors is a very worthy addition to any SNES library.
One of my favorite things about this hobby is the ability to right childhood wrongs by going back to play games that I missed out on. Ardy Lightfoot turns 25 years old this month, and it was one of those games that intrigued me as a kid. It looked like a fun game and a hidden gem. When I got back into the SNES over 13 years ago in January of 2006, Ardy Lightfoot was one of the earliest games I sought out. At that time, I’d been curious about it for 12 years. Sometimes your gut feeling about a game is right and sometimes it’s wrong. Let’s see where Ardy Lightfoot stacks up.
THE YEAR WAS 1994
I was instantly intrigued the first time I laid eyes on Ardy Lightfoot via an EGM preview guide. Sadly, my brother made most of the renting choices back in the day and “ALF” never struck his fancy like it did mine. Thus, Ardy Lightfoot (along with over a hundred other SNES games) became doomed to remain a childhood curiosity… that is, until my SNES resurgence in early 2006.
WHO IS ARDY?
AND THAT BLUE BLOB?
AND WHO, PRAY TELL, IS LIGHTFINGER?
WHAT ABOUT ARTY?
Congrats to Konami for securing the rights to Monsters, which eventually became the cult hit Zombies Ate My Neighbors. Reading tidbits like that is always a blast when revisiting the gaming magazines of yesteryear.
AND THIS GUY?
THE STORY GOES…
That awesome mini-manga was featured in the instruction manual of the Super Famicom version. The English text was translated by Kate (AKA vgperson). Thanks Kate for your awesome contribution!
Coincidentally, Titus published Ardy Lightfoot and Titus’ logo bears more than a passing resemblance to the titular hero. I like how the title screen conveys a sense of wonder and adventure. Even the font and colors are on point and all indicators, thus far, seem to point in the right direction. What could go wrong?
Introductory stage takes us through a mysterious mine.
Indiana Jones and Metroid flashbacks…
Visconti, the big bad of the game, is informed of the latest. Meanwhile, Ardy maneuvers about the cute isometric map. It makes me think of games such as Super Mario RPG, Equinox, Shadowrun and even EarthBound.
Reading the slate aloud, the old man tells us that the rainbow has been divided into seven pieces. Scattered across the land, it’ll grant the owner a wish once all seven pieces have been reunited. But before they can enjoy some tea, the local town is suddenly set ablaze!
Isometric visuals will never get old for me.
SCENE 1: MINING TOWN ABLAZE
Visconti’s goons are bombing this poor little town. Save the denizens from certain doom! Throw Pec around to clear the bad guys.
Eventually, it crashes into a water tower and Ardy goes through the hole as the old man and Nina look on with grave concern.
SCENE 2: GROUNDER’S MINE
Regular jumps won’t suffice here. Call upon Ardy’s tail spring super jump. Jump and then press the jump button again before landing to activate his springy tail. Unfortunately, it’s a bit awkward to implement and never feels as smooth as you would like.
SCENE 3: TUNNEL CHASE
Reminiscent of Donkey Kong Country… but don’t forget that Ardy Lightfoot came out a year prior. The Super Famicom version was released on November 26, 1993 while Donkey Kong Country came out precisely one year later on November 26, 1994. What are the odds?
Donkey Kong Country has it beat though in terms of which mine cart level is more interesting and fun! Some of the stages in Ardy Lightfoot are laughably short and simple — this being one of them.
Beware of falling rocks and spring tail jump him to oblivion. Pec won’t damage him and neither will regular jumps. You secure the first of seven Rainbow shards after beating him.
Mysteriously swooping in is Don Jacoby. Is he friend or foe? Make your way to the forest next.
Flashback of how Catry stole one of the precious Rainbow shards.
SCENE 4: LUMBERJACK FOREST
There’s no shortage of stars to collect here. Pec gobbles up enemies like Yoshi.
Special icons transform Pec into an inflated makeshift ride. It doesn’t last long but you’ll be able to grab otherwise unreachable items.
Platformers typically have some kind of continue marker. Step on her head and she writes furiously to record your journey. I like it a lot; it’s quirky and has that “Nintendo touch” to it. On the flip side, the game’s first truly annoying bit presents itself when you have to jump off those enemy heads in succession to safely reach the other side. They’re a bit far apart and the control is not very precise, making it unnecessarily frustrating.
Paying homage to Sonic the Hedgehog, Ardy comes screaming down the hill with incredible speed. Clear the stage and head to the tree fortress.
SCENE 5: CATRY’S TREE FORTRESS
Platforming rule #72: one must have a vertically scrolling stage. This one is a bit annoying because certain jumps require the awkward spring tail jump and some of the platforms rotate, giving you very little time to react.
Wrestle your way to the top and it’s that blasted Don Jacoby again. You’ll find a 1-UP generously placed in the chest because the upcoming boss fight can be a bit tricky at first.
Jumping on the color buttons causes a boxing glove of the matching color to extend out. Be quick on your toes!
Securing the second Rainbow shard? Not so fast. That cowardly Catry flies off with it but she ends up getting eaten by a giant worm! Crap, you got no other choice but to follow…
SCENE 6: EATEN!!
Following in the tradition of the Bonk games, Congo’s Caper and The Magical Quest: Starring Mickey Mouse, Ardy finds himself navigating through the belly of a beast. I’m always a sucker for such levels.
Climbing and sliding down the slimy strands of this beast is as fun as it is disgusting. Watch out for the acid and sharp teeth!
Apprehend Catry’s Rainbow shard and we’re off to the pyramid.
SCENE 7: ANCIENT PYRAMID
Difficulty of this game fluctuates like crazy. This is a very annoying stage that requires pinpoint precision from a game lacking such.
Killing that enemy reduces the light.
Killing another one reduces it even further. The thing is, you pretty much have to which leaves you no choice but to brave the dark.
Thankfully, it doesn’t last too long.
Falling spikes impale Ardy easily. I like the lighting effect here but damn is it hard to avoid those deadly spikes.
Pushing gimmick is utilized a bit here but I wish the game used it a little more. That mouse is up to no good.
World’s Strongest Genie (eat your heart out Will Smith) flexes like a champ. Get up to the lamp and secure the key.
SCENE 8: MOUSE TRAP
Homewrecker mouse nabs the Rainbow shard before you can. Flag it down to end this ridiculously short level.
Quickly get the hell out before you’re crushed!
JACOBY?!? He appears out of nowhere to save Ardy. You book it and the wall collapses right after you’re out of harm’s way. Does that mean Don Jacoby is…
Beecroft reports Ardy’s adventures back to Visconti. Meanwhile, our furry hero sails out to the high seas.
SCENE 9: GILSON’S PIRATE SHIP
Somewhere Steven Spielberg is smiling (or not). Gilson is a vicious owl with some serious firepower.
However, beat Gilson and you’ll earn his respect and another Rainbow shard. Time to sail back.
Beecroft proves to be a real punk as he runs over an old man and kidnaps helpless Nina.
SCENE 10: ISLAND OF RUINS
Beware of cannonballs in this gorgeous early evening stage. Hold the block to block incoming arrows.
Catching a ride on an arrow is quite satisfying. Use the cannonballs to make your way across this spiky pit.
Always been a sucker for collectable items arranged in a recognizable fashion. A lone skeleton guards the exit. This game suffers a bit from short and sparse levels.
SCENE 11: BEECROFT’S STRONGHOLD
Nothing like a starry night to hit me in the feels. Watch out for the buzzsaw.
Mindless bots will carry that block. Time your spring tail jump perfectly. It can be a bit tricky. You meet up with Beecroft once again but this time, it’s on.
Visually, this is the game’s most impressive moment. It’s such a beautiful sight and makes me wish Ardy Lightfoot had more strong moments like such. Use the prism to deflect the boss’ energy beams. Suck it, Beecroft!
MechaGodzilla flashbacks. This boss has a ton of projectiles but it’s no match for Ardy and his trusty prism!
Earthquake!! Hey look, Don Jacoby lives! And, he offers a helping hand.
SCENE 12: UNDERGROUND PASSAGE
Miniature Ardy gives you an extra life. Ardy can hold his breath underwater. But beware of biting fish!
Yanking and creating a path for yourself is the order of the day here. It’s fun and this is easily the best stage of the game. I just wish the other stages were as well crafted as this.
Another reason I like this stage so much: Pec becomes Super Pec! Sadly, Super Pec exists only in this one level. Pull more switches to solve the puzzle.
Nothing stands in the way of Super Pec! Toss him through barriers and he’ll do the rest. Treasure chests abound but the “trapped” skeletal prisoners burst to life!
Awww… how cute. Ardy’s posing for his eHarmony profile. More skeletons spring to life but Super Pec sends them packing.
Finally, we come to the third and last switch. Yank it to make the water rise which opens up the exit for Ardy. It’s a shame the other levels aren’t as fun or interesting as this one.
Visconti’s castle looms ominously in the background as Ardy makes his way to the stronghold.
SCENE 13: VISCONTI’S CASTLE
Punishing BS here. The game’s uneven difficulty is jarring, to say the least. One level it’s easy and the next it’s murder (literally). Catch a lift on the arrows going up. This requires timing and precision. It wouldn’t be so bad if the control was more responsive and there wasn’t a lava pit below. Hey, at least there’s no timer right?
SCENE 14: THRONE ROOM
Speaking of brutally difficult, stage 14 isn’t any easier. Use Pec to navigate your way through. Unfortunately, Pec can stay inflated for only so long. Thankfully, there are treasure chests scattered throughout for you to return your friend to puffy status. But it’s still a bitch.
SCENE 15: THE TOWER
Springboard from one platform to the next and make your way all the way to the top. Thankfully, this one isn’t too bad.
Having collected all 7 pieces, Ardy is granted one wish. He uses it to revive Nina. What a good guy, that Ardy.
PSST, WHAT’S THE PASSWORD?
Although not a long game by any means, password systems are always a plus. I particularly like the style of this one a lot. Arrange the three blocks in the right spots. These spots include the house, table, stump, balloon and tree. It’s cute and memorable!
There’s a cheat code to play Ardy Lightfoot in either black and white or sepia. Kind of odd but hey, it’s there if you have that urge.
There’s even a code to play as miniature Ardy. It’s basically being able to control the 1-UP icon. At the end of the game, we get a TO BE CONTINUED message. Sadly, this would be Ardy’s one and only adventure to date. On a side note, I think this universe has a ton of potential and could find a great home on the Nintendo Switch…
WHAT THE CRITICS SAID
Ardy Lightfoot did well with the critics. EGM gave it scores of 6, 7, 7, 8 and 8. Super Play rated it 83%. However, opinions vary among SNES fans. Some praise Ardy Lightfoot to the moon, calling it a hidden gem and deeming it as one of the great forgotten SNES games of the ’90s. Other retro gamers don’t hold it in quite the same esteem. If you haven’t played it yet and you have a penchant for mascot platformers from the early-mid ’90s, definitely find a way to play it somehow and see for yourself which camp you belong to.
Sorry EGM but I have to call you out on one thing here. “Huge levels” — really? Really?? The levels are almost embarrassingly short, well, many of them at least.
Super Play got it right when they called the levels short. Not sure what EGM was smoking
When I first booted up Ardy Lightfoot back in early 2006, it had been a 12 year curiosity. I remember seeing the previews in EGM and wanting to play it so badly. Alas, it wasn’t meant to be. I thought to myself that surely it had to be a hidden gem. The visuals have that classic SNES look — they’re bright and bold and look a bit like a Saturday morning cartoon come to life. Ardy had the potential to be a great protagonist, and his trusty sidekick Pec adds to the overall appeal of the package. Heck, there’s even a cool isometric map that makes the game look like an RPG even though it’s strictly a platformer.
I think you know where this is going, though. So what went wrong? To be certain, Ardy Lightfoot is by no means a bad game. It’s quite playable and even enjoyable. But for my money, it comes nowhere close to fulfilling its potential. A platformer is only as good as its control. You look at a masterpiece like Super Mario World with its impeccable control and stunning level design and it’s easy to see why it stands the test of time. Ardy Lightfoot, unfortunately, is let down by less than stellar control. It isn’t ultra responsive, and the tail spring jump mechanism is a bit awkward to use. And you use it quite a bit. It’s also annoying how simply pressing either left or right sends Ardy sprinting not long after. In general, something about the control is slightlyoff. These factors are enough in my book to bump Ardy Lightfoot from hidden gem contention.
Some of the 17 levels are quite fun to navigate, with interesting gimmicks that reel you in. Unfortunately, the majority of the levels leave something to be desired in terms of both design and length. I never really felt like I was able to truly sink my teeth into this game. For every semi-brilliant level, there are 4 or 5 very plain ones that struggle to leave an imprint. Enemies are also very sparse, leaving the game to feel a little devoid of action. Speaking of missed opportunities, they could have done a lot more with Pec. Yeah you can toss him at enemies and he has two different forms he can turn into, but his different forms only occur in a paltry 3 of the 17 stages. This game would be so much better if only the developers incorporated Pec more to further differentiate it from the pack of “me too” platformers that proliferated the SNES throughout the ’90s.
These blemishes make playing Ardy Lightfoot a bit of an uneven experience. One level you’re cruising through and the next you’re utterly decimated. The difficulty fluctuates and the less than stellar control doesn’t help when the difficulty randomly spikes. But if you’re the persistent type and can overlook the game’s notable flaws, then there’s enough merit backing Ardy Lightfoot to make it worth seeking out.
It’s just a shame it doesn’t quite live up to its potential. Not all childhood curiosities have a happy ending. But at least it didn’t flop. There’s definitely a decent game here, but hidden gem? Not in my book. Ardy Lightfoot to me is a slight disappointment, bordering on moderate. I was hoping to love it and sing its praises. A little tweaking here and there and some polish could have made this one special. Instead, it is what it is. Ardy Lightfoot is merely a footnote in the annals of SNES lore.
Many action games call the Super Nintendo home. But only one (that I can think of off the top of my head) contains no actual enemies. The Ignition Factor puts you into the shoes of a firefighter, fending off flames and rescuing helpless citizens. Your only enemy is fire (and breakaway pits). It’s also a bit of a thinking man’s game, with enough strategic elements to keep players constantly on their toes as they roam about the burning buildings, museums, mines and more.
SIMILAR BUT NOT THE SAME
The Firemen is considered to be something of a semi-cult hit in retro gaming circles. It used to be a lot more obscure but has since pick up a lot of steam in the past decade or so thanks to word of mouth. For the record, I consider Firemen to be the best fire fighting game on the SNES, but Ignition Factor is definitely the second best. Yes, I know there are really only two fire fighting games on the SNES but in all seriousness, Ignition Factor is definitely a decent little game.
13 YEARS AGO…
As readers of RVGFanatic may recall, I went through a Super Nintendo resurgence when I bought the system on January 17, 2006. On that same day I bought four games: Power Moves, Prehistorik Man, Ignition Factor and Fatal Fury Special. The Ignition Factor was my 3rd overall SNES game purchase, and earlier this month I finally got around to playing it. It only took me 13 years but it was nice to finally play it after all these years, especially on the 13 year anniversary itself.
THE STORY GOES…
WE DIDN’T START THE FIRE
Ignition Factor starts off hot with this blazing title screen. Sorry…
Bradshaw Steel Mill or Pygamalion Plaza — the choice is yours to make. It’s nice that Jaleco gave us some options, similar to the Mega Man games. After selecting your stage, place your firetruck at any one of four starting points. Naturally, this alters where you open up a given level. BTW, love that stylish 1994 computer
Examine items beforehand and pick the ones you want. You can only equip up to two active items at a time.
Barrels shoot upward and explode as you race across this platform. A sense of urgency is established right from the start.
Jumping in a top-down action game? Yes please! I’m always a sucker for that. Speaking of being a sucker, watch out for falling platforms over a scorching pit!
Remember, you can’t save the people if there’s no you. Don’t rush in or else…
Somebody wasn’t listening.
Similar to the barrels from DOOM, I wouldn’t do that if I were you.
Likewise, I would advise against bludgeoning your fellow comrades by way of axe. You’ll need them, especially for those all too important resupplies.
Certain items lay hidden on the floor. This was a bit annoying since there’s no indicator that an item is there ripe for the picking. A small visual marker, even if it was a flickering light, would have been appreciated.
ProTip: Blue flames can only be taken out with the electrical extinguisher. For your courageous efforts, the city immortalizes your bravery and tenacity.
Jaleco, I see you. Trying to be slick over there, aren’t cha?
Pygamalion Plaza is essentially Mannequins R Us…
Damn… now I know how Michael Myers must have felt at the end of Halloween (2018). Um, are you POSITIVE that’s a mannequin? Looks more like a man who needs saving to me.
BITCH you cray cray. Ann woulda left your ass ages ago!
Please, allow me to knock some sense into ya…
Locked doors can be opened via brute force using the axe. As for Nancy, weeeeell… *nervous chuckle*
Avatars add a nice little touch to the game. There are a few puzzles scattered throughout the game, such as seen here. Hmm, how to save Old Man Jenkins there…
McGlone Mine is next. That DANGER!! sign is rather… apropos.
There’s a really cool swirly visual effect in the mine that ups the sense of urgency and angst. Watch out for weak patches of ground that break.
Beware of poisonous gas clouds that randomly pop up. Lean up against the wall if that helps ya! Also keep an eye on your oxygen supply. Better find one of your fire fighting friends fast for a fill-up.
Jurassic Park probably inspired the Dino Park. Sure there may be some gnarly exhibits here, but time is of the utmost essence! No time to stop and meander around.
Random small details are the best. Take, f’rinstance, this guy here flapping his jacket away in hopes of subduing the fire. Gotta give him props for trying. After Dino Park it’s off to Whitney Appliances, where the only dancing you’ll be doing is not with your old flame but a whole lotta flames!
Natural selection on full display here, folks. Instead of waiting to be saved, that fool’s crazy ass decides to walk straight into the fire. But it’s weird shit like this that kind of makes the game oddly endearing.
Gemini Towers is home to the game’s weirdest WTFmoment. You’ll find a random dude near the telescope. Talk to him and he’ll urge you to look through it. No big deal, right? WRONG.
WHOA what the hell?! Out of nowhere the dude wallops you with a haymaker! It is so random and bizarre that I actually laughed out loud the first time I saw it. I love it when game developers include random weird stuff into their games.
Remorseful, he at least goes over to apologize after giving you a concussion. That’s nice of him. If you refuse to look through the telescope, he confesses that he started the fire. Hey Billy Joel, guess you were wrong after all. There’s our culprit!
We didn’t start the fire. It was always burning Since the world’s been turning. We didn’t start the fire. No we didn’t light it. But we tried to fight it.
Ignition Factor even breaks the 4th wall at one point! Video Games Magazine? Psh. That was an alright magazine, but gimme EGM or GameFan any day!
Gemini Towers has some cool bits where the screen becomes much smaller once you enter certain rooms. I’ve always enjoyed when games do this. EarthBound is a prime example of that technique.
COMING THROUGH! After saving the good folks trapped at Gemini Towers, it’s off to the Shylock Center.
Holding the shoulder button allows you to strafe. It also doubles as a lifesaving tactic where it allows you to see flames in other rooms even before entering.
Sometimes you just want to hide in your cubicle. But then you work up the courage to socialize a bit with your coworkers. And that’s when you find Frank and Ann getting it on down the hallway.
Appalled, you spray ‘em in a futile attempt to stop. When that doesn’t work, you decide to bust out the almighty axe. Hey, desperate times call for desperate measures. HR is gonna have fun with this one!
UHHHH, me too. How the hell are you still alive?!
There’s a cool Mega Man 2-like effect to this game where you can jump from room to room and the screen switches like such. It’s oddly satisfying.
Another mine stage, we’ve come to the Paris Mine.
WATCH YO STEP!
Plastic explosives will break thin walls.
There’s a password system thankfully. Although the game isn’t long, the levels can be tough to beat so it’s nice not having to repeat them. However, similar to B.O.B., you don’t get a password for every cleared stage. Instead, you get one every few levels. Still better than nothing, though. But the really cool thing is the secret pass code that unlocks the DM Headquarters. You might remember this level from Jaleco’s Peace Keepers. What a nice nod!
Before you get TOO excited [we wouldn’t want you to soil your undies -Ed.], this is the hardest stage by far. This is due to there being no comrades hanging around to restock your inventory. Once you’re out, you’re out. And that means a long road ahead. It’s a neat bonus but I definitely wish they made it a little easier.
Awesome Easter eggs abound when you come to a skirmish between Flynn and Lago from Peace Keepers! Jaleco with the unexpected fan service. I love when games cross over from the same development firm.
“YEAH KICK HIS ASS, FLYNN!” Another cool bit comes when one of the mutant enemies from Peace Keepers shows up. You just knew those broken glass containers was a bad sign…
Thinking you were safe behind the locked door, the creature gives you something to remember it by!
Popping up magically out of the floor, no place is safe. They’ll electrocute your ass if you’re not careful.
Unfortunately, your water spray has zero effect on them.
Typically, an axe should suffice. But it doesn’t harm them in the least! Why, Jaleco, why? That makes no sense especially since you can easily beat them up with your bare hands in Peace Keepers. Although a neat bonus for sure, I can’t help but feel this was a bit of a wasted opportunity.
Ignition Factor can be a fun but frustrating experience. It’s definitely geared toward more “hardcore” players as the brutal time limit leaves little room for exploring and certainly less room for error. Sure you can run but once you start carrying a certain amount of items, you can’t. Even if you can run, it’s dangerous since flames are all over the place. It’s one of those games that require repeated play and precision. Not the kind of relaxing game you’ll throw in when you just want something quick and easy. I wish there was an option to increase the time limit. Different difficulty levels would have made this game far more accessible.
WHAT THE CRITICS SAID
The Ignition Factor won EGM’s Game of the Month award in issue #68 (March 1995). It garnered scores of 7, 8, 9 and 9. Despite that, it remains kind of obscure even in today’s retro gaming circles. When people talk about SNES fire fighting games, you usually hear about Firemen rather than Ignition Factor. It also came out during a bit of a funky time — the SNES began to lose some star power in early 1995 as the focus was shifting ever so slightly to the 32-bit war machines. The game was also never advertised to the moon so it’s no surprise it’s kind of been forgotten over the decades. When people do talk about it, it seems to elicit mixed reactions. Some consider it a hidden gem while others think of it as merely being decent. Others don’t like it at all and will tell you to stick to HUMAN’s Firemen. Personally, I think there’s definitely room for both titles in one’s collection.
13 years ago I got back into the SNES and on that same night, there was a seller on eBay auctioning off Ignition Factor. I had just bought Power Moves and Prehistorik Man from this seller, and I was ready to break the chain of “PM” games. I faintly remembered seeing Ignition Factor in rental stores back in the mid ’90s but it never quite resonated with me. I had less than a minute to decide as the auction was rapidly coming to a close so I quickly looked up pictures and it looked interesting enough, especially since the idea of fire fighting in video games has always intrigued me a bit. It arrived in the mail back in January 2006 and I remember thinking “I’ll get around to playing it soon enough.” Fast forward 13 years to January 2019 and well, it took me exactly that long to play it. But hey, mission accomplished
It’s got a unique concept and the visuals are different from most other SNES games. They have sort of a European feel to them. Unfortunately, some stages look a bit bland and uninspired. There isn’t much music here; Jaleco opted for a more ambient soundtrack where the focus is on the backdrafts. Occasionally, a quick frenetic jingle plays with a voiceover that makes for a pretty cool effect, but it’s nothing special overall. I enjoyed the more strategic approach to the gameplay as you would have to switch from certain extinguishers to eliminate different flames. There are also a slew of items you can toggle between to aid you in your quest. The problem is it could easily have been handled better. To toggle items, you have to go to the menu and then make the appropriate switches. Dedicating a button to switch items would have made for a more seamless and enjoyable experience. That one change would have made a world’s difference.
And as stated earlier, the timer is a bug up your ass. It would be fine if there were an option to adjust difficulty levels and thus time limits, but sadly there isn’t. Ignition Factor isn’t unbeatable, but it should have been made a little more accessible. There’s a bit to like here such as the strategic elements, the choice of levels and odd random quirky moments spread throughout, but there’s a noticeable lack of polish. Still, there’s a decent game lying underneath the rubble if you’re dedicated and patient enough to tackle it head on.
Another in a long line of Japanese anime/manga turned Super Famicom video game adaptation, GeGeGe no Kitarō is one of the strangest SNES games you could ever encounter. It’s a side-scrolling shoot ‘em up platformer. Originally known as Kitarō of the Graveyard, the manga series made its debut in 1960, with an anime series following in 1968. The focus is on the last survivor of the Ghost Tribe, Kitarō, as he faces off with various ghouls and goblins of Japanese mythology. Created by Shigeru Mizuki, GeGeGe no Kitarō has a long and storied history spanning five decades, over 400 anime episodes and even two live action movie adaptations.
Meet Medama-oyaji, translated literally as Eyeball Father. ‘Nuff said.
THE STORY GOES…
Kitarō has the ability to fire bullets from his hair. Of course, to make it even more bizarre, who does the firing but none other than his Eyeball Father! Unfortunately, bullets don’t travel the full length of the screen. Be prepared to meet many unusual abominations along your journey.
Kitarō has a shield to block projectiles with as well as three special weapons he can call upon. However, these special skills can only be used once you’ve killed a ghost creature and captured its soul. The more souls swiped, the more special moves you rack up.
One special move is a cane like whip that is short and rather useless. Another is a sandal-based attack that goes across the bottom of the screen and back. The third is the BFG of the game. Multiple electric blasts are emitted from Kitarō’s body. It’s best saved for the bosses thanks to the high damage it inflicts.
There are 19 levels, which may sound like a lot until you factor in just how insanely short each stage is. Deal with a few regular bad guys (some can be rather tough) and then it’s off to tackle the guardian boss. Some levels have as little as two (!) enemies before the boss fight. What the hell! I’ve never played a game as odd as this; the construction of the levels is a little baffling to say the least.
Some bosses include a witch with the power to change you into small random objects, a vampire in the form of a giant bat accompanied by a legion of bats and what’s a horror themed video game without Frankenstein represented in some form or fashion?
Also boss is a gigantic dragon who has 10 heads, but you face only one at a time. The dragon dwells in a dark cave set against a waterfall which makes for a lovely visual.
Don’t let the game’s Saturday morning cartoon look fool ya — even though there’s no blood anywhere to be found, GeGeGe no Kitarō has some unexpectedly vicious moments. One boss splits in half after being slain. Another one uses her razor-sharp claws to impale an innocent bystander through the heart! That definitely took me by surprise.
It’s a shame then how unfair the game can be at times. Certain levels have these tiny ass platforms… and if that weren’t annoying enough, spirits hound your ass like white on rice. As you can imagine, thanks to the ridiculously small ledges, you’ll likely fall to your death if touched. Also, you’ll make leaps of faith where you can’t even see the platform on the right until you jump. Only then does the screen scroll forward. In a game already as difficult as this one is, that’s just plain wrong.
On the upside, the monsters are gruesome and highly memorable. The boss from the first level for instance is something you might see in Hayao Miyazaki’s work (Spirited Away). The graphics are excellent and invoke the feeling of watching Saturday morning cartoons. And the music has a nice oriental flare and gets rather creepy from time to time.
Another positive aspect is that it has a pretty cool 2-player mode. The second player controls a character who has a fireball similar to Sagat’s that travels the full length of the screen. With Kitarō blocking and the second player spamming fireballs, the game takes on new life. There are pictures and some Japanese text to advance the story after each level is beaten.
“Chip? Monterey? Gadget? Zipper?!”
“Hey bud! Wrong tree house, wrong show!”
This very first villain requires several hits to kill and zips around like a mad flea.
Then this lady appears from behind the tree. Don’t get seduced…
Hey he looks pretty friendly. Let’s chat him up. What could go wrong?
“Hey buddy! Yeah, you over there. You want a breath mint? I got grape — “
WHAT THE CRITICS SAID
Not surprisingly, GameFan gave this game some high marks while Super Play wasn’t as generous. GameFan gave it scores of 78, 79, 88 and 93%. Super Play rated it 61%.
I lean more toward Super Play than GameFan when it comes to this game. I wanted to like GeGeGe no Kitarō a lot — it’s quirky, macabre and downright deliciously devilish. Perfect to play during the Halloween season. But the difficulty and the unnecessary cheapness of the game really hurts it. It’s much more tolerable and enjoyable, however, when playing with a buddy. You’re not missing much if you skip this one, but it’s a decent add to your horror gaming collection if you so desire.
Shōnen Ashibe is yet another Japanese comic turned TV series turned Super Famicom exclusive. Masterminded by Morishita Yumi, the comic was published in Weekly Young Jump from 1988 to 1994. It became a TV series in 1991 and the Super Famicom game was released just days before Christmas of 1992. The story centers around Ashibe, a 1st grade boy, and his wacky pet harbor seal, Goma-chan. Yup, that’s about as Japanese as Japanese gets. And only the Japanese, eh? Nonetheless, Shōnen Ashibe is unabashedly adorable and full of sunshine and rainbows.
Shōnen Ashibe is a cute platformer where you guide Goma-chan through many levels featuring classic themes such as forest, cave, haunted house, etc. In a manner befitting of the source material, Goma-chan can’t hurt enemies. Jumping over them is his only defense. Enemies range from humans (little brat boys and girls) to animals (bats, polar and teddy bears to name a few).
Your goal is to locate 8 items in each level. The item is connected to the level theme (i.e. stars for ice world, squids for water, etc.)
Once 8 are collected, head for the exit. If hit, one apple (or whatever it may be) squirts away, waiting to be reclaimed (not unlike Sonic the Hedgehog). The seal also whimpers “Eeeek!” The only way to lose is by being squeezed into submission by one of the bratty kids or if the timer reaches 0. The animals can’t kill you even if you have 0 items when they touch you. This was aimed at small children, obviously.
Some items are hidden while others are out in the wide open. You can smash walls with your head to potentially reveal hidden items. There are only two buttons: one makes Goma-chan jump and the other makes him perform a head butt. The gameplay is very basic — it was geared toward younger children — but it’s done in a respectable manner, all things considered.
There are some cool set pieces, like this giant hippopotamus machine. Releasing basketballs from its mouth, your task is to head butt them back into the hippo’s mouth. Doing this is much harder than it looks, especially as the timer runs down and the pressure mounts. Each good basket grants you an apple. The hippo machine holds 4 apples; the other 4 are scattered throughout the level.
Pick your level from this overhead map. Backtrack if you wish. Along the way some folks provide information, others will share a 16 character password and some even challenge you to mini games. The boy is an unplayable character, and that’s just as fine. Who wants to be a little 1st grader when you can be a cuddly seal?
Shōnen Ashibe has some nice details but nothing we haven’t seen before. Reappearing blocks, moving platforms and so forth. One really nice detail is the haunted house theme where you can see lightning flash outside the windows.
There’s definitely a me too feeling throughout the game but hey, if you can’t get enough of these games you’ll be right at home. Controlling a seal has its advantages, too. For example, Goma-chan can cling on edges which is quite cool.
My favorite theme is the ice world. The ice levels are extremely slippery, more so than most other platformers I can recall. The poor fella just slides around like a mofo as soon as you pick up any sort of momentum.
It sure did but DoReMi Fantasy also came out exactly 3 years and 3 months later (December 22, 1992 —> March 22, 1996). One has to account for such a huge technological gap
WHAT THE CRITICS SAID
Super Play, who erroneously referred to it as Syo the Seal, gave Shōnen Ashibe a very respectable 79% rating. It remains a fairly obscure game to this day, but those who have played it have shared similar sentiments. It’s certainly not bad and has its moments here and there.
Not shabby — surprisingly somewhat solid even — yet nothing worth writing home about. The graphics are nice; they’re simple yet colorful and charming in that Japanese sort of way. The music isn’t bad though it gets sugary sweet in spots to the point it can quickly become a bit annoying. All in all, Shōnen Ashibe is a great choice for kids. Older players probably won’t dig it as much, but you might find yourself a bit surprised at how well it plays if given the chance.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
RELAUNCHING THE BEAST
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
BYE BYE TEXTING
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!
The quality difference between JPG and PNG images is stark.
RVG’S DIGEST ~THE BEST OF RVGFANATIC~
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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…
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 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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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! 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.
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.
Brother, it’s now been 12 years. Guess I didn’t get bored after all
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.
I’m bloody hell glad you did as well
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!
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.
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!
Appreciate the kind words, Will. I’ll try to update even more frequently in 2019!
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!
I’m flattered. Thank you. Your compliments read just like an Amazon review!
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!
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!
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.
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
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
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…
Behold: Magic Lamp, Sorcerer’s Hat and Mermaid’s Voice!
Never trust a ghost with a mallet my dad always used to say.
Lightning strikes and thunder rumbles… and of course, the prized treasures go missing! Meanwhile, somewhere in the city…
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.
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.
GAME OVER MAN?!
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.
WHAT THE CRITICS SAID
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
*CUE MOVIE TRAILER VOICE GUY*
[Here we go again… *whips out big check* -Ed.]
IT IS AN ISLAND SATE WITH DANGER AND TRAPS…
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
Applying some good ol’ Lode Runner know how will make quick work of them.
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.
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.
Bad guys can throw various objects at you. You’re momentarily stunned if hit, but thankfully it doesn’t mean automatic death.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
THE STORY GOES…
Horrified by the disfigurement of their son, Oswald Cobblepot’s parents tossed Oswald and his carriage into the Gotham River.
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…
The denizens of Gotham City have reported spotting a strange looking man prowling around. Almost more like a creature of the night…
It is, of course, none other than Oswald Cobblepot. Now known as The Penguin, he wishes to rule Gotham’s criminal underworld.
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!
The Penguin has special plans for Gotham City, but Batman has other ideas. Something has to give one way or another…
The action starts out hot in Gotham Plaza where the Red Triangle Circus Gang launches an unsuspecting attack on the city’s Christmas festival.
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.
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.
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.
Even the cutscenes have this grittiness to them that perfectly replicates the seediness of Gotham City.
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!
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.
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!
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!
What scenes of spiraling madness await beyond this? Play it and see for yourself…
“I AM BRUCE WAYNE!!”
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 THEBatman. 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.
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.
WHAT THE CRITICS SAID
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!
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.
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.
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
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…
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.
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
First, make sure you have one of these multitap adapters. There are lots of models but these are just a few examples.
You’ll need one if you wish to play any of the following games with 3 or more friends.
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
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.
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, 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
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!
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
The best soccer game on the SNES, hands (feet?) down, is made even better when experienced in glorious 4-player mode.
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 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
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 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
If you can look past its terrible aesthetics, NBA Hang Time gets the job done in 4-player mode.
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.
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 ’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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 is no Mario Kart 2 but it’s an admirable effort. 24 tracks, 8 drivers and plenty of zany 4-player modes!
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
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.
Super Bomberman 2 included a tag team mode. I prefer the original but you can’t go wrong with this one.
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.
Super Bomberman 4 was released only in Japan. Like pizza, you really can’t go wrong with any of the 16-bit Bomberman games.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
4-player Tetris, bitches. ‘Nuff said!
TINY TOONS WACKY SPORTS CHALLENGE
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
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.
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?
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!
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.
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!