The Super Nintendo is home to dozens and dozens of platformers. As with any genre, it comes with a wide range of quality. Some are well known and excellent (Donkey Kong Country, Super Mario World) while others are a bit more obscure and not too shabby in their own right (Dino City, Harley’s Humongous Adventure, Hook). Then there are downright awful ones that are better off forgotten about. It was merely a sign of the times. Speaking of which, the early-mid ’90s became the age of the me too mascot platformer. Sonic the Hedgehog created a massive stir when it became a mega smash hit for Sega in 1991 and had countless companies clamoring to throw their name in the hat with their own mascot platformer. Animals with attitude were the order of the day and Irem was no different when they released Rocky Rodent. The question is, does Rocky Rodent make the grade? Let’s find out.
25 YEARS OF… NITRO PUNKS?!
Exactly 25 years ago today, Nitro Punks: Might Heads (what a title) hit the Japanese market. July 30, 1993-July 30, 2018. Yet another game from my youth turns 25 — gawd damn I’m getting old. Nitro Punks was renamed Rocky Rodent and was released in North America during the fall of ’93. I remember seeing Rocky Rodent in various game rental stores throughout my area in late ’93. I never got to rent it but I always wanted to. Alas, you know how older brothers often get their way, and sadly for me, Rocky Rodent never piqued my brother’s renting interest. The box of Rocky Rodent would come to haunt me as its titular rodent would seemingly sneer at me at every turn. In my own mind I envisioned Rocky Rodent being a pretty fun and competent platformer. It became one of many SNES childhood curiosities I would finally quell following my SNES resurrection in early 2006. Sometimes, your gut was right all along. Other times, not so much. Which one you gonna be, Rocky?
HAIR TODAY, GONE TOMORROW
Various spray cans litter the stages waiting to be picked up. Each hairdo not only grants Rocky certain abilities but an extra life as well (Rocky dies if he’s hit when bald). It’s a pretty cool gimmick although you can still hop and bop to your heart’s content. But the zany hairdos definitely steal the show.
The Braid allows Rocky to swing as well. The Mohawk leaves Rocky vulnerable when tossed. Technically, you are bald when chucking it, so be aware of that.
Use the Spring to reach new heights. The Bird Nest Wig unleashes Picky, a bird who acts as a computer controlled helper (similar to the option helpers from Gradius III). Each hairdo has its own pros and cons. They add to the game’s quirky atmosphere.
THE STORY GOES…
Rocky, a dine and dash artist with an insatiable appetite, finds himself in a… ahem… hairy situation. Apparently Rocky has gone and done it again, trying to cheat yet another restaurant.
Fortunately for our anti-hero, Rocky runs into the Rose Restaurant owner whose only daughter Melody has been kidnapped by Mafia member, Don Garcia. He makes an offer Rocky can’t refuse — save Melody and it’s all you can eat on the house. It’s a very nonsensical plot but there’s sort of a cheesy charm to it all.
Remember Sparkster from Rocket Knight Adventures (and er, Sparkster)? The very first enemy you encounter in Rocky Rodent, an armored armadillo, looks awfully similar to Sparkster. Just a random coincidence though, as Rocket Knight Adventures came out on the Sega Genesis almost exactly one week later (August 5, 1993).
Spruce up your style with a brand new hairdo. Not only will you look cooler, but it’s vital to staying alive longer. Not to mention all the cool new tricks you’ll be able to do with a new ‘do.
Rocky’s cling and fling technique with this first hairdo is sure to impress the ladies.
Impale enemies with your spiky hair and toss them back to take out an entire row. Works just like the Koopa shells from the Mario games. Use the water sprout for a much needed lift.
Speaking of lifts, bounce off the café awnings to reach the rooftop where Rocky will be greeted by all his favorite yummy treats. I like how he slides on the roof. It’s the little details!
Similar to Sonic, Rocky is a fast little sucker. However, be careful about when to exercise said speed. Here, it’s required. But most elsewhere, speed kills.
Platformer rule #72: There must be some kind of auto scrolling stage. Bingo, you’re looking at it. Race down this freeway and avoid the various hazards. I like how you can see the sun gradually setting over the horizon.
Hightail it, Rocky! Chuck E. Cheese’s reject sighting!
Gorgeous… but deadly. Oh so deadly.
Bizarre doesn’t begin to describe this game. Mutant rats driving a ’70s Volkswagen while a Mob boss attempts to mow you down with a Tommy gun? Yeah…
Mohawk acts like a boomerang. Sick.
Mohawk also allows Rocky to cling and fling.
Makeshift boost as well! Nice.
Whoever owns this apartment is going to curse Rocky for all the property damage he’s causing.
Platformers sometimes need a way to impede certain routes at least for the time being. These funky door blockers earn Irem bonus points for creativity. Best of all, when you eventually do reach the other side, you can ram Rocky’s spiky hairdo up their you know what! Hey, it’s the little things. Also, hit those markers to save your spot should when you die (this game is freaking hard).
Falling chandeliers and going down random tubes are the order of the day.
Crumbling blocks lead us to… Slimer and friends?!
Apartment with a random teeter totter and anvil? Alright then. It sends Rocky sky high.
Admire and enjoy that cool night air, because it’s going to be hot once you get back in.
Poltergeist shit starts to go down. Hey, this place isn’t called Ghost Apartment for nothing.
Random furniture and crap start coming Rocky’s way fast. Be quick!
Haunting the apartment is the ghost of Mr. Potato Head. He seems tricky at first but he actually has a very easy pattern.
Man, they’re really taking this “Mascot with Attitude” thing seriously, aren’t they?
Yeah, that’s not creepy at all…
Rocky Rodent has its fair share of sight gags. They don’t cause any harm to Rocky; they’re just there to make you smile.
I kinda miss the days when mascot platformers had all these wacky sight gags. It was sort of a sign of the times. It felt like everyone and their brothers were doing it. Endearing when done right!
Here is the controversial scene Nintendo didn’t want you to see!
Just wait ’til Rocky puts the moves on her.
How Irem managed to slip this past Nintendo remains a mystery to this very day.
Rocky Rodent wasn’t their only SNES game mired in controversy.
Irem CEO: Hey! Why the dirt on our good name, sir? What wrongs have we EVER done?
[I’ll handle this… -Ed.]
Irem CEO: *sweating* … oh right, THAT. Um, look over there! Quickly Smithers, TO THE BASEMENT!
[At long last, sir! -Smithers]
See the trouble you’ve caused now?
Back to Rocky Rodent, then…
The ad typified the times we were living in, back in good old 1993. I remember sort of drooling over the ad thinking that Rocky Rodent was a great name for a mascot platformer, Rocky was cool and that the game would probably be pretty good. It somehow reminded me of the spirit of NES games from the early ’90s, and I mean that in the best possible way. Just made me think of lesser known obscure NES platformers like Totally Rad and Werewolf for some reason…
I remember seeing this as a kid back in 1994 and thinking “Damn, Rocky Rodent must be super hard.” And it sort of is, especially once you get to the second half of the game. Starts out easy enough, but absolutely wrecks you later on. EGM wasn’t kidding!
Yeah, get ready to see plenty of that.
Thankfully there is a cheat code for infinite continues but EVEN THAT is hard to do! Press start at the title screen and Rocky begins his mad dash. Press Y, A, R, A, B, A before he reaches the end. I can’t consistently pull it off because that bloody Rocky is quite the runner, the bastard.
The later levels are so hard that your heart will feel like that playing it. Oh and I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Rocky Rodent has the coolest (and grossest) 1-UP icon in the business.
WHAT THE CRITICS SAID
Rocky Rodent fared well with the critics, at least the ones here in North America anyhow. They thought that it was a very solid and even surprising semi-hit of sorts. They also voiced their desire for a 16-MEG sequel in 1994. Of course, it was never meant to be as this is Rocky’s one and only showing. EGM gave it scores of 7, 7, 8and 8. GameFan gave it ratings of 79, 82, 85 and 86%. Super Play, on the other hand, was not impressed. No shocker there as they were notorious for being harsh on “me too” platformers and beat ‘em ups in particular. Super Play rated Rocky Rodent a paltry 50%.
Mascot platformers were a dime a dozen back in 1993. Sonic the Hedgehog more or less kickstarted that whole “me too” movement that would inevitably flood the gaming market (a much different and not so serious me too movement from the one we’ve seen in recent times). You had to be special to stand out in a crowded genre. You had to be different. Distinguished. Some, like Rocket Knight Adventures and Plok, managed to rise above the ranks and captured the hearts of many. But too many others failed to make an impression and quickly faded away into obscurity. Rocky Rodent, for me at least, lies somewhere in the middle. Though sadly, its fate is still that of one that has vanished into the ether.
Rocky Rodent got lost in a crowd of countless me too platformers that overflowed the Super Nintendo in the early-mid ’90s. It’s not a shabby platformer at all. The different hairstyles add some strategy and depth to the game. The game looks relatively good for its time and the music was actually pretty catchy and a tier or two above most games of this ilk. I found myself bobbing along with the soundtrack at points. The music in the Ghost Apartment was far creepier and more sinister sounding than I expected in a “kiddy game” such as this.
Even though Rocky Rodent is fairly paint by the numbers, the dressing is slightly different enough to make the game feel like Irem actually put in a good effort. And that effort certainly shows at times. The different hairstyles are fun to to use and the stages are designed around the abilities of said styles. Sure, Rocky Rodent might come off as a bit generic at times but I think it’s got some soul to it as well. Irem injected a good dose of humor and personality into the game. Look no further than the various sight gags or that random shower scene in the apartment. So wonderfully odd and memorable! On the downside, the control is not as crisp as I would like. The insane difficulty, combined with a lack of password system, definitely brings down the game a bit. But hey, there are far worse platformers you could play on the system. *cough* Bubsy *cough*
Interestingly enough, the game has a bit of a 1940s look to it. Just take a gander at some of those old vehicles and buildings! In addition, it admirably refrains from regurgitating the same old tired themes such as wood, fire and ice-based stages. It somehow manages to come off smelling like a slight breath of fresh air despite being standard platforming 101. It’s by no means an all time classic but if you’re in the mood for a simple yet challenging platformer, this may suffice (and in some cases, even satisfy). As such, Rocky Rodent is a worthy addition for anyone looking to expand their Super Nintendo library beyond the usual suspects.
Can you believe RVGFanatic turns 11 years old today? I remember that day like it were only yesterday. January 7, 2007. It’s hard for me to believe RVGFanatic is now 11. Most webmasters burn out in less than a year or two, so RVGFanatic’s longevity is a true testament to my passion for the SNES. To commemorate the occasion, I’m transferring (and slightly tweaking) an article I wrote on my original site about why my fire for the SNES still burns even after all these years.
7 REASONS WHY I STILL LOVE THE SNES
There’s an infamous term known as “The 7 Year Itch.” Supposedly, it’s that point in some marriages where things head south and peter out. Well, it’s been about 7 years (12 years now) since I got back into all things Super Nintendo and quite honestly, I still love it today as much as I did then. As I approach yet another anniversary, I can’t help but think about why the fire still burns. What exactly is it about this system that has kept me coming back after all these years??
The first two things that came to mind? The library and the memories. The SNES has arguably the best gaming catalog of all time. It’s so stacked that you could take the best SNES games ranked #11-20 and they would stand up well against any other system’s TOP TEN. The top 25 SNES games alone include some of gaming’s best, period. So, there was that. And then there are my memories. The SNES came along during a special time in my life. Being a robust kid living in suburban America during the rise of the SNES was simply awesome. It was my favorite system of my childhood, and is now my favorite system of my adulthood. In some ways I feel like I’m fulfilling my childhood dreams, as corny as that may sound. But I digress. Let’s kick off the countdown!
BUT FIRST, LESSONS I LEARNED
Prior to my SNES resurgence in January of 2006, I was a huge Sega Saturn fan from 1999 to 2005. During those six years I built a collection of 350 Saturn games. I loved it.
However, as much fun as I had with the Sega Saturn I fell into the trap of never beating the games. I’d play them for 30 minutes to an hour here and there but never commit to completing one. For me at least, I don’t do so well with such a disposable mindset. I am the kind of gamer who likes to keep playing the same game until I can beat it. So this casual reckless playing blindsided me and led to my burnout by the summer of 2005.
As I reflected on my Saturn journey during the late summer of 2005, one of my biggest regrets was never logging my Saturn experiences. From purchase dates to game playing notes, all my Saturn memories were relegated to my mind which is fleeting at best. My fire for the system was quickly waning and six years of undocumented memories were only going to fade away with time. But the funny thing about life is that sometimes you get a second chance when you least expect it. And that’s when the SNES came calling.
SEVEN REASONS WHY I LOVE SNES
1. Beating the games 2. Discovering new gems 3. Replaying childhood favorites 4. Quelling 15 to 20+ year curiosities 5. Continuing to expand RVGFANATIC
6. Memorable multi-player SNES sessions 7. Being truly content with my collection
1. BEATING THE GAMES
There’s something to be said about beating a video game. As previously noted, I fell into a trap of casually playing my Saturn games never really sticking with one until I could squeeze it for all it’s worth. Getting back into the SNES I realized I wanted to right a wrong from my childhood, and that wrong was never beating many of its games. Too many as a child I didn’t even get a chance to (thoroughly) play. My SNES resurrection was a chance, then, at gaming redemption.
I typically pop in a game these days with the intent of beating it, or at least until I can no longer progress. It gives me a great feeling when I eventually swap it out for another game. It’s like only then am I able to put the game back on the shelf with a real sense of peace and fulfillment. What a concept right? PLAY THE GAMES. BEAT THE GAMES. I adopted that mantra for SNES round two and it made all the difference in the world.
I view beating games the same as watching a movie or reading a book. It would be silly to stop a quarter or three quarters through (unless it’s too boring or difficult). These days I always focus on playing (through) one game at a time. There’s something special about seeing a game through and not shelving it until you’ve maxed it out. I guess it reminds me of the good old days when I did just that with the limited number of games my parents bought for me. It’s the best of both worlds: owning a ton of games yet playing them as if you only had a few.
2. DISCOVERING NEW GEMS
Although I loved the SNES and had one from 1992-1998, there were still a ton of quality games I missed out on, or never really played. Since I missed out on them, even if those games are “old” titles from 1993 or ’94, they’re still brand new experiences to me. These past dozen years I have been able to experience many SNES games for the FIRST time. And there’s nothing like discovering new gems. Some of these games I never even knew existed back in the ’90s, like Super Famicom gem DoReMi Fantasy.
A stellar action game released in 1996, DoReMi Fantasy is undoubtedly one of the best platformers on the SNES. There’s nothing like uncovering a new game for the first time, seeing a few screenshots, getting super excited, finding it on eBay and then playing it only to discover that it’s awesome. Doing so only continues to further fan the flames.
Terranigma is another excellent gem that I discovered during my second SNES stint. It’s one of my absolute favorites and one of the best games on the entire SNES. Discovering and then beating games like Terranigma go a long way in keeping my flame lit.
3. REPLAYING CHILDHOOD FAVORITES
Nostalgia. Memories of a simpler time. I’ll never deny that one (small) reason why I love the SNES so much is how much history I have with the machine, dating back over 25 years to 1991. There were a handful of SNES games that I cherished for one reason or another as a child. Being able to play them again over the past 12 years has been a blast from the past. Some haven’t aged so well while others remain just as you remember them being. My brother and I used to play The Combatribes a ton back in 1993. It was a very surreal feeling when we played through it more than a decade later. For one brief moment we were kids again as we turned back the hands of time. The SNES gave me so many great memories. Whenever I play any one of my childhood favorites, I can’t help but get the warm fuzzies. And I’m instantly transported back to a time in my life where junk emails don’t exist and life was only as complicated as taking out the trash and doing homework.
4. QUELLING 15-20+ YEAR CURIOSITIES
There were many SNES games I wanted to play back in the day but never did. My SNES resurrection gave me a chance to rectify matters. I’ll never forget the night I first slayed Count Dracula in Super Castlevania IV back in April of 2006.
Remember seeing all those cool looking SNES games featured in small blurbs within the pages of GameFan or EGM? And then wondering for years on end how they might play? Being able to put those childhood curiosities to rest is simply the best. Even better yet is when the game instantly becomes one of your all-time favorites. One example is BS Out of Bounds Golf. I LOVE that game!
5. BIRTH + EXPANSION OF RVGFANATIC
For as long as I can remember, I love sharing (in written form) my opinions with others. Back in 5th grade I was writing book reviews for Goosebumps and having the time of my life knowing that my classmates would be reading my thoughts and possibly even basing their reading choices off my impressions. One of my deepest regrets with my Sega Saturn stint from 1999-2005 was my failure to document that whole experience. So I knew getting back into the Super Nintendo that I was going to do things right. Namely, I placed a focus on beating the games and documenting my journey somehow. I never dreamed that I would one day have my own website but sure enough that far-fetched fantasy suddenly became reality when I launched RVGFanatic 11 years ago today. I still remember that day vividly and recall it with a deep fondness. It was a cold and dark Sunday night. January 7, 2007. RVGFanatic was thrust into the vast wilderness of cyberspace.
The next day I published my review of the Super Famicom exclusive brawler, Godzilla: Kaijuu Daikessen. Immediately following this, my dad called asking if I could drive him to the auto repair shop to pick up his car. There was light rain falling that Monday night as I recall the vigor of knowing that somewhere someone was viewing my content and among the first visitors to do so. It was quite a high for me knowing that as I drove my dad on that wet drizzling freeway. It’s a moment in time that I remember fondly even to this day 11 years later.
It’s crazy to think that my one man fansite has been around for 11 years now. Eleven! Gaming fansites usually have a limited shelf life. It’s not uncommon to see these sites either losing steam over time or flat out become obsolete. Whether the webmaster burns out, loses interest or gets caught up in life’s craziness, it happens far more often than not. Yet somehow, I’ve managed to buck the trend. I am still going strong 11 years and counting. My passion for the SNES and to continually expand RVGFanatic is as strong now in 2018 as it was in 2007. It’s crazy. The SNES is the system that just keeps on giving. Working on my baby RVGFanatic the past 11 years has been a blast, and one of the big reasons why I keep coming back to the SNES time in and time out.
6. EPIC MULTI-PLAYER SESSIONS
I’ve been fortunate enough to have some memorable multi-player SNES romps over the years, and they always leave me feeling recharged and re-energized.
While immersing myself in a classic one player quest is tough to top, perhaps there’s nothing better in gaming than an epic night of rollicking couch co-op. One session in particular: Christmas 2010. My cousins invited the family over for Christmas night. Normally I haul the Sega Saturn and Saturn Bomberman along with me, but that night I decided to take the Super Nintendo instead.
I picked up a PowerPak cartridge about a month prior. It’s basically a memory card capable of storing hundreds of SNES games. Talk about super convenient. I found the perfect box to fit everything. A nice snug fit!
Karen texted me earlier that night, pleading me to come over soon. In her own words, “STEVE! We need you to get your butt over here — we are in dire need for some entertainment!” That Karen, I tell ya, she always cracks me up. I busted out my Super Nintendo upon arrival and Karen nearly fell over. “OH MY GOD, I haven’t seen one of these babies in eons!” We set it up. She was stunned by the amount of choices available on my PowerPak. I let her browse the endless list of games and her eyes popped when she spotted Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles In Time. “I remember playing this back in the day!” Karen shouted, turning into a six year old kid before my very eyes. Karen and David started out on the first level and we rotated turns. We had a blast going down memory lane. Safe to say, the Ninja Turtles weren’t the only ones who went back in time that fine Christmas night.
After Turtles in Time, we switched over to Super Bomberman 2. It brought back so many rich memories of the early-mid ’90s when my old gaming circle would spend countless Saturday nights dunking on each other in NBA Jam and blowing up one another in the Super Bomberman games. It was, pardon the pun, an absolute blast.
Once again the SNES PowerPak proved its worth taking center stage when my cousins came over. We spent the night playing 4-player BS Out of Bounds Golf and 5-player Super Bomberman 5. Nothing screams quality family time quite like blowing up your brother or knocking your cousin’s ball out of bounds. We rung in 2013 laughing and roaring. Epic gaming sessions like these stay with you for the long haul and only help remind me of why I love gaming so much.
7. HAPPY RETIREMENT FROM BUYING
It all started with one seemingly innocent impulsive buy on eBay nearly 12 years ago. I bought Power Moves, an old SNES fighting game my brother and I rented way back in late 1992. I was lucky. The SNES bug bit me earlier than most of my peers. Early 2006 was a grand time to be buying SNES games left and right as they were still dirt cheap a dozen years ago. My library steadily grew until it morphed into a massive monstrosity.
Not only was I buying the North American games but I was also buying the Super Famicom imports that never came out stateside.
Early on I didn’t care to get the manuals and boxes. I just wanted the cartridges. But I came across some cheap manual and box lots that I couldn’t pass up. Once they started coming in, the memories of reading these manuals and boxes as a kid once upon a moon came roaring back to me. And I figured why the hell not? Go big or go home!
My biggest stroke of luck came when I met an eBay seller from Minnesota by the name of Jenn back in 2007. She had a ton of SNES boxes and manuals she was looking to unload. I bought in bulk and she cut me a great deal. She sold me over 200! I doubt my collection would be what it is today were it not for Jenn.
I finished off 90% of my collection by 2008. My final big buy was the 3 Ninjas Kick Back box which I acquired in 2012. I’ve pretty much been done buying SNES stuff for five years now, and THAT FEELS GREAT.
SNES games were incredibly affordable back in 2006. I really lucked out in terms of timing. The SNES scene didn’t explode until 2010 or so. Fortunately I was able to beat the rush. It’s only because of my early start that I have what I now have. If I started back in 2009? Forget it. These games now cost an arm and a leg!
Having a complete boxed collection of all the SNES games I ever wanted has unquestionably kept my passion burning all these years. Being able to play these games whenever I want and no longer worrying about getting sniped on eBay and what have you is simply priceless. I feel like I’ve come full circle in many ways and that I have fulfilled my childhood dreams, as corny as that may be to say. If you had told me 25 years ago when I was a kid in 1993 that 25 years later I would somehow own 500+ boxed SNES games… I would probably die laughing.
I just love walking into my game room randomly sometimes. I don’t even have to play a game. Sometimes all I do is stand back and admire it for a few minutes while taking a stroll down memory lane. The memories come rushing back and it’s almost therapeutic in some ways. It’s escaping from the real world for a brief moment to slip back to a time in your life where things were simpler and more “magical.” Having an awesome collection that you’re 100% content with helps keep the fire burning. Glad to be retired from collecting but definitely not retired from playing
A quick shout out to Super Play Magazine. My acquisition of the 47 issue publication in late 2006 is another highlight of my collection. It’s the perfect companion piece to any Super Nintendo collection. Every once in a while I still pick up a random issue to read.
I can’t believe RVGFanatic turns 11 today, and it’s crazy that in 10 days I will celebrate 12 years since the day I began my SNES comeback. The Super Nintendo has always been in my life in one way or another. First when I was a kid and later as an adult. 12 years later the fire still burns. I’ve played so many great SNES games the past 12 years and I still have a truck load remaining. No matter what direction life takes me in going forward, it’s safe to say I’ll always carry a special bond with this system. And somehow, I suspect the SNES fire will always burn in the backdrop of my life.
8. SPECIAL LOVE FROM MY READERS
BONUS! If I had to cite an 8th reason why my SNES passion still burns, it’s whenever I hear from one of my readers that something I wrote touched a small part of their past. I think many of us can relate to my experiences growing up in the early and mid ’90s and what it was like growing up with a Super Nintendo and some good friends to play it with. There’s an unspoken special bond there that you’ll only know if you grew up in that era. Here’s some of the feedback I’ve received over the past 11 years.
If you haven’t read Steven’s stories about his collection, you’re missing out. The stories are fun and poignant, and it’s nice to know that other people have their memories and feelings from their history all tangled up with a video game background. The stories from his childhood, losing and making friends, and developing feelings that don’t always work out will make you feel like you know him a bit, even if like me you’re a guy from Missouri who couldn’t pick him out of a lineup.
I stumbled across your site thanks to a strange detour thrown at my feet while I was checking up on the Sega Saturn (a console I never owned but want to know more about) and found myself reading and reading. It’s rare these days, when everyone and their dog has a website (often about their dog) that you find someone who captures your imagination so vividly. I can’t explain it honestly. I find it odd that I’m writing this… but we share a love of the SNES and the long lasting summer evenings of childhood, something you describe so perfectly. And also Super Play… it was the only magazine I ever bought every month. It looked like nothing else on the shelf and rewarded with each and every read. The Japanese focus was so rare back then and the oddities and the sense of humor still makes me laugh. Oh, and the [Oi! – Ed.] thing goes back a little further as many of the Editors and staff worked on the magazine issues for the ZX Spectrum and other early ’80s computers so the [ – Ed.] inserts you sometimes incorporate are close to my heart. It made me laugh when I saw them on your website.
There’s no real point to the email other than to say thanks for writing. Something in your writing connected with me here in London and threw me back to my old childhood, rekindled my love for the SNES and the obscure, and has propelled me onwards as I continue to check out what the Saturn has to offer.
Now I’ve got many more pages of your site to read. I plan on going through them all as I never know what bizarre retro games I’ll find, or what other long-forgotten nights from my childhood I’ll remember.
Once again, thanks.
I’m an avid reader of your website. I can’t wait to read your next update on RVGFanatic. I’m a huge fan of your personal essays and memoirs, as well as the reviews. You have no idea how many times I’ve read your Sega Saturn Saga. If I ever launch a website, I hope it will be as emotionally evocative as yours!
OK, I don’t want to sound too much like a fanboy. I promise I won’t annoy you with any more praise, haha. Thanks again for your time.
Wow man, been reading this site for a while now and thought I would comment. The stuff you’ve written on here is simply a gold mine of awesome stories and nostalgic memories. I swear you could have been a friend or close relative of mine back in the day. Some of these stories on here are literally pages right out of my childhood, from the renting stories, to stuff like replaying Contra with my uncle and brother time and time again, to loving shows like The Wonder Years, etc.
Incredible stuff. Also love all your “ramblings” as you call them. I just cannot get enough of this stuff, lol. Please, whatever you do, do not stop writing. I find myself coming back here time and time again to read through some of these articles and remember the good times. Keep up the amazing work!
Your reviews and articles are a joy to read. I appreciate the passion you put into your work; it never fails to strike a nostalgic chord with me. Better still, you have opened my eyes to a few games I ignored during my 16-bit youth, such as Brandish and Hook, which I now enjoy greatly.
Keep up the great work. I’m looking forward to the next review.
Just sitting here, reading your site, throwing a few back, and I figured to myself, “Hey, I might as well give Steve some love here.” I’m sure you get a lot of praise, but I’m sure it never hurts to hear some more to let you know your hard work is not for nothing.
Steve, you kick ass. I love your site. So many fansites are advertised, and people say great things to just be nice, but I gotta say… RVGFANATIC is truly great. I find myself reading the reviews and articles over and over… it’s just like a good book where I just keep reading it and re-reading it. It’s written so well and very entertaining.
In late 2016, Nintendo released a trailer highlighting their upcoming 7th console, the Nintendo Switch. To say that I was skeptical would have been a gross understatement. I had long lost faith in Nintendo, or at least in their current state. My brother and I grew up on the NES and the Super Nintendo. Both systems were amazing, giving us countless memories. The Nintendo 64 came along in 1996 and was a mixed bag. By the time the GameCube launched in late 2001, my brother and I stopped caring. Neither of the two Wii consoles were able to move the needle on my gaming meter. As for the PlayStation and XBox consoles, they surely had their share of gems but I honestly didn’t care enough to ever buy any of those systems. I was content with my SNES collection and assumed that my time buying games had long come to an end. That was, at least, until I finally played the Switch…
A NEW ERA — FINALLY
As it has been well documented here on RVGFanatic, I got back into the SNES scene nearly 12 years ago (January 2006). It’s been an incredible journey and I have played so many amazing games since then. I more or less finished my collection in 2012 and figured I was set for life. I had no interest in modern gaming. Not that I hated them but rather I just didn’t care enough to play them. That slowly began to change as I heard the rumblings for one, The Legend ofZelda: Breath of the Wild. The trailer, released in early 2017, was breathtaking. If any modern game can bring me back to the fold, Breath of the Wild might be it. For the first time in forever, I found myself salivating over a new game.
I was floored. It was the first time in nearly 12 years that I found myself thinking, “It might be time to buy another system.” I remember one night in March 2017 my bro sent me a funny picture of some guy on the internet declaring it was going to be an epic night. Sure looked like it!
Seeing that pic made me remember all the epic gaming adventures I had long long ago. It was that little seed planted in my head. The Switch launched on March 3, 2017. I didn’t buy one but I remember telling myself maybe Black Friday. Maybe. But I found no deals on the Switch and thus, Black Friday came and went. My brother, on the other hand, struck a bit of gold…
Despite not owning a Switch, he spotted Breath of the Wild on Walmart’s website for the incredibly low price of $29. He jumped on it because he knew I had interest in buying a Switch. Apparently it was a mistake on the website — it was supposed to be marked down to $49 but he made the purchase before the website could correct itself. They honored their end and shipped the game out to him. Coincidentally, I read this on Reddit a few days ago…
[SATURDAY] DECEMBER 2, 2017
After visiting my month old nephew, I hit up the local Target only to be greeted by the last Switch console. I couldn’t resist and pulled the trigger. Final damage following a flurry of gift cards: $267. I walked out of Target cradling the Switch against my chest as though it were Frankenstein’s very own heart! It was my first system purchase in nearly 12 years
Breath of the Wild arrived at my brother’s place later that day. It was like it was meant to be. I picked it up, drove back home, popped it in and was immediately blown away. Honestly, I hadn’t played a 3D “modern” game in forever. These past 12 years I stuck mainly to the SNES. Well, Breath of the Wild has definitely made me rethink my gaming habits. Although I still love and play the SNES, it certainly won’t be the only system I play going forward. Nintendo had officially converted me. I have, pardon the pun, made the switch.
Right away I was flung into the wide open world of Hyrule. It literally took my breath away. Immersive is a word that gets thrown around a lot in gaming circles but I can’t think of a better adjective to describe this game. Best of all, it looks and plays great even on the portable end. In fact, I’ve been playing it only in this format thus far.
As I get older and busier, I find I have less and less time to sit in front of a TV to play a game. The portability makes it perfect to play for 20 minutes while laying in bed before sleeping. It’s also ideal to play while having a TV show on in the background. It’s truly a game changer. The Switch is a versatile little sucker and it’s portable gaming the likes of which we have never seen before. We have come a long way since the Game Boy and Game Gear, haven’t we?
I began going through the shrines and giggling like a little school girl on the inside. I could tell it was the beginning of an unforgettable gaming experience.
Acquiring new skills and weapons is all part of the fun. Each new power gained opened up even more possibilities.
Hunting for food or shooting enemies from afar became highly addicting.
I’m only 12 hours in or so but already I feel like this is easily one of the top 10 (if not 5) best games I have ever played. Quite frankly, maybe even #1.
[MONDAY] DECEMBER 4, 2017
But there was no rest for the weary. A few days later, I went to Best Buy to pick up Doom for $53 following my 20% discount. I haven’t been able to play Doom yet because I want to beat Zelda first. But rest assured, having missed the 2016 version of Doom and hearing what a competent amazing port the Switch version is, I cannot bloody wait to dig into this one!
[WEDNESDAY] DECEMBER 6, 2017
I honestly thought I would just have Breath of the Wild and Doom for now. But you know how these things work.There’s a snowball effect when something comes along and completely captures your imagination. A few days after picking up Doom, my brother told me GameStop was selling Rayman Legends for only $25.
I have Rayman on the Sega Saturn and have always enjoyed it. Plus, the Switch version received rave reviews, so I decided to swing by the local GameStop after work to pick it up. Unfortunately, the GameStop I went to was sold out. But the clerk said there was another location nearby that had 3 copies left. That store happened to be at my childhood mall!
I can’t count the number of times my mom took me to this mall when I was a kid. Every Friday after school we went. It was sort of a tradition of ours. Rain or shine. Seeing the tall Christmas tree there always brings back memories of the mall Santa back in the day. Although the mall has been renovated over the years, the core structure remains. It never fails to bring back a memory or two.
Making the walk down this way was something of a spiritual experience, as sad as that may sound. I’ve walked that path thousands of time. It was always visit Suncoast first, followed by Software Etc., KB Toys, Walden Books and Cyberstation. Being here again brought back a ton of nostalgia for me, and reminded me of my early SNES hunting days back in 2006. The thrill and excitement hanging in the air. That feeling of knowing you were going to come away with a brand new game to add to the ole collection. Hopping around town snatching up games left and right like a mad man. It was more than just collecting games. It was reclaiming bits and pieces of my childhood in whole new ways.
A montage of these classic childhood sights and sounds suddenly flashed in my mind as I entered GameStop and picked up Rayman Legends at the counter. It was now my 3rd Switch game in nearly as many days. Yep, I could feel it coming. And there was no stopping it. I had Switch fever!
[SATURDAY] DECEMBER 9, 2017
I visited Target the next day to pick up a few things. I had absolutely ZERO intentions of buying another Switch game but lo and behold, there I found Lego Marvel Super Heroes 2 on sale for $39.99. Before I knew it, a 4th game was added to my rapidly growing Switch library.
I texted my brother about my latest purchase and he said I had gone nuts. He was probably right. But damn was I having fun!
[SUNDAY] DECEMBER 10, 2017
After buying Lego Marvel Super Heroes 2, I thought to myself, “OK now I’m really done. For a while at least.” Well, a while turned out to be less than 24 hours later. The following day, my brother texted me that Toys R Us was selling Lego City Undercover for just $19.99. Lego in a GTA (Grand Theft Auto) setting? Count me in!
While Toys R Us was processing my online pickup order, I searched the web on my iPhone only to discover that Fry’s Electronics was selling Resident Evil Revelations Collection for only $29.99. And of course, there just happened to be a Fry’s down the road from Toys R Us. So I drove over to Fry’s to buy Resident Evil Revelations Collection. Then drove back to Toys R Us to pick up Lego City Undercover. I felt like an absolute mad man; I haven’t done this much game hunting in 10 years!
While at Fry’s hunting down Resident Evil Revelations Collection, I ran across Axiom Verge for $29.99. I was tempted to add it to my tab. Axiom Verge caught my eye a few years back and I was always curious about it. But a quick search revealed Toys R Us selling it for $29.99 plus a 15% discount. I was hoping to pick it up at the Toys R Us location I just bought Lego City Undercover from, but unfortunately they didn’t have one in stock. The closest pick up location was… *gasp*… the old Toys R Us store from my childhood!
[MONDAY] DECEMBER 11, 2017
Going to my childhood Toys R Us meant passing through this old haunt. My cousins lived in the neighborhood nearby and I spent much of my youth visiting my cousins on the weekends back in the late ’80s to mid ’90s. Needless to say, that whole area is incredibly nostalgic to me. It’s also where I experienced the greatest Halloween of my life back in 1994. The infamous night I met “The Lady in the Haunted House” AKA Becky, who has gone on to become a lifelong friend. I actually just met up with Becky a few weeks ago. Going through the old neighborhood was just an added bonus to my jaunt for Axiom Verge.
I stood there for a moment to just admire the scene. This was the same Toys R Us my parents took me and my brother to millions of times back in the late ’80s to mid ’90s. It was probably 10 years since I had last been there. At that point, it was one of the few relics from my past still standing in the same spot!
Who doesn’t remember the classic Toys R Us game slips back in the day? Seeing an aisle plastered with them was like a little slice of Heaven. Some of my fondest childhood memories came from simply strolling through the aisles drooling at the game covers all bug-eyed. Nothing topped the feeling of when your parents relented and bought you a game! Taking that slip out of its sleeve, only to discover it’s the LAST one, and taking it to the special game counter to claim your precious pixelated prize. Cue the Final Fantasy victory theme!
Sadly, Toys R Us long stopped doing the game slips. Nonetheless, being there brought back the wave of memories. I also ran into two versions of Goldar from the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: OG Goldie and that crappy looking version from the 2017 movie.
Ah, Imaginext. In 2004 I ran across a bunch of their sets on clearance from the same Toys R Us location. Huge sets going for literally $5. I remember bringing home a bunch of the sets and my ex being bewildered!
After walking around the store for 15 minutes or so just taking it all in, I made my way to the pickup counter. I cannot wait to play Axiom Verge but first I have to beat Breath of the Wild
Not a bad deal at $27! It looks awesome.
Before pulling out of the parking lot, I stood there to admire my childhood Toys R Us one last time. Even though the inside has long been gutted and rearranged, there were pockets in the store where I remember standing some 25, 30 years ago! R.I.P. Toys R Us.
It’s been forever since I’ve played a newer Mario game. I know I’ve missed out on many great Mario games since 1991’s Super Mario World, so Super Mario Odyssey will certainly make up for some of that lost time.
[SATURDAY] DECEMBER 23, 2017
Earlier in the day I was able to price match Puyo Puyo Tetris and Ninjago at Target. Both were going for $39.99 but Toys R Us was selling both for $19.99. Thanks Toys R Us!
[SATURDAY] JANUARY 13, 2018
I received a $25 gift card for Amazon and used it on Skyrim, a game I’ve never played before but can’t wait to dig into. It ended up costing only $35.99.
[SUNDAY] JANUARY 14, 2018
I spent the weekend out of town with my girlfriend. I was browsing Nintendo Switch Deals on Reddit (shout out!) on a lazy Sunday morning when I came across this promising post…
Lady Luck was on my side as my girlfriend’s town happened to be one of the 63 stores closing down! I was cautiously optimistic but I figured the game I wanted most (Mario Kart 8 Deluxe) would be long sold out. Eh, it can’t hurt to try, right…
After waiting in line (just to enter the store) for some odd 30 minutes, we were finally in. I made a beeline for the electronics section. Lo and behold, I spotted the last copy sitting before my eyes! I bought Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and Arms.
I was so happy that I was able to get the last copy of Mario Kart. The rush of adrenaline as we snagged the final copy (and picked up Arms as well) lasted all the way on the drive home. A most serendipitous Sunday!
Thanks for taking care of me, Jennifer!
Later that same night, I dropped by Target to buy L.A. Noire. I had a gift card and paid $38.
Taking place in Los Angeles in the late ’40s, L.A. Noire is another “modern” game I missed out on but can now play thanks to my Switch.
(e)SHOP ‘TIL YA DROP
On Christmas morning 2017, the floodgates were opened when I made my very first eShop purchase. Here are my 34 digital games in order of purchase.
SOME GAMES I’LL BUY IN 2018
And so much more. The Switch’s future is bright and the possibilities are endless. Welcome back to my heart, Nintendo. Welcome back!
It’s hard for me to believe that I would ever feel so invested in a system not named Super Nintendo, especially in the year 2017. But the Switch has made a believer out of me. Being able to play all these amazing games on the go as well as on the big screen TV is a brilliant stroke of ingenuity. Its versatility caters to your lifestyle, as it should, rather than you catering to a system’s limitations. As much as I still love my SNES, I’ll admit there are times where I’m just not in the mood to sit by my TV to play. There are times where I wish I could just play it in bed or during a show. The Switch allows you to do so. Nintendo has something big on its hands here, as evident by the Switch recently surpassing the 10 million units sold mark. This is truly the future wave of gaming.
If you’ve been teetering on the fence with the Switch, it’s time to hop over. It has the same impeccable Nintendo magic that I remember the NES and SNES having back in the ’80s and ’90s. Hell, over time I can even possibly see the Switch overtaking the SNES as my favorite system of all time. Never in a million years did I ever think I would say that. If Nintendo eventually releases some of their SNES classics on the Switch eShop going forward then all bets are off. The Switch is poised for unprecedented success, merging gamers from all generations. Its legacy as one of the coolest systems ever is quickly being etched in stone by the day. Don’t miss out! Nintendo is BACK baby and damnit, they might be better than ever.
For years on end I had heard about a Super Nintendo title that was never officially released in the US. A game so amazing that it had to be played to be believed. A game that was supposedly the pinnacle of 16-bit gaming. A game the stuff dreams are made of. Of course, I’m talking about none other than TERRANIGMA. Does Terranigma live up to the massive hype? Is it worthy of being called one of the best on the SNES? Let’s have a closer look…
BLACK FRIDAY 2010
A little over seven years ago I first played Terranigma. When it comes to game playing, there’s nothing quite like playing an (action) RPG in the months of November and December. Nothing beats playing such games on a cold, chilly winter evening. There’s something about those darkening late afternoons, the wind whipping outside your window and the feeling in the air as you work your way through a magical fantasy world ruled by big eyes and EVEN bigger hearts. Where wise old men pass down their wisdom to the younger generation, where spirits roam, where kings rule and where monsters stalk the land. It was on Black Friday of 2010 that I first began my trek with Terranigma. I remember it fondly as if it happened only yesterday. I had just got back home from spending Thanksgiving with my family. They began discussing their Black Friday master plan around 9 PM while I decided to duck out. I partook in the festivities the year prior — once was more than good enough for me. Instead, I wanted to head home, take in the quiet serenity of the early morning hours and fire up Terranigma for the first time ever. That proved to be the right call — it’s a memory I fondly recall even seven years later. Now there isn’t a Black Friday that rolls along where I don’t think of Terranigma somehow!
I finished it about two weeks later, logging nearly 30 hours. It was incredible. One of those rare magical gaming experiences I’ll always cherish and remember. Ark, renamed Steve, ended on Level 37 (639 HP). As one NPC in Terranigma once suggested, it pays to keep a log. I’ve always been into archiving. Having a record allows me to go back in time to recall past events. Since early 2006, I’ve kept a log of my SNES activities.
I’m so glad I did; I would have forgotten all the quirky details and crazy little stories if I hadn’t. The following will be an account of my Terranigma experience. And on a side note, this marks my 100th SNES review. I had to go big for the magical 1-0-0, and I can’t think of many better choices than this. Surely you didn’t expect Lester the Unlikely, did you? That would be highly unlikely…
THE STORY GOES…
MEET THE CAST
THE JOURNEY BEGINS
The Quintet trilogy as some like to call it started with Soul Blazer and concluded with Terranigma. It’s nice to see the odd nod to Soul Blazer here and there throughout.
One of many unforgettable and touching moments from Terranigma. If you’re not moved in the least when you play this, then you, sir, have no heart. No heart at all!
Hey, remember ol’ Turbo? Sure you do! He’s the mutt from Soul Blazer and Illusion of Gaia. That canine sure gets around!
Who could ever forget this infamous scene in Soul Blazer? The Quintet Trilogy always had some… ahem… controversial moments littered here and there. Some… well… perverse scenes, as you will see a little later on.
The random things people say ranges from amusing to whimsical to even sometimes downright philosophical. Some statements are rather bizarre, others plain silly, while others ring true in many aspects. In that regard, there is a pulse to Terranigma unlike (nearly) any other SNES game. It was definitely ahead of its time and as a result of that, it holds up well to this day.
Video games serve as a form of escaping the daily grind and troubles of everyday living. And nothing transports you to another world quite like a good ole adventure game. I especially love playing them on a cold winter’s night.
I told ‘cha I’m not imagining these sexual innuendos! I only tell it like it is, you see. Not my fault that Quintet was a bunch of sexual deviants!
After playing so many censored RPGs in America, it was refreshing to play one that was true to its core. Look no further than the town of Litz, where a huge statue of Christ proudly hangs. Such an image would have never passed Nintendo of America’s standards back in the mid ’90s. And since Terranigma came out in Japan October of 1995, an English translation would have pushed a potential US release date into the first quarter of 1996, a time period where the SNES was simply no longer a viable market. The game was doomed, then, to never make it to American soil.
Love the skeleton displayed in the background there. There are many great details that helps to bring the game to life, in addition to its memorable characters and epic storyline.
There’s even a few bits about women and how they can break our hearts. Here we see some poor soul comforting our hero. So many ladies have shattered his poor heart; he’s lost count. Makes you feel for the lad. And hey, how many of us, at one point or another, can relate exactly to what the NPC is saying? This moment almost makes you flashback to all the heartbreaks in your life. Maybe even the one who got away. It’s moments like this that really bring Terranigma to life and almost makes you forget you’re only playing a video game. ALMOST.
FRIEND ZONED, ouch. But in life I’ve learned this: you never want to be with someone who doesn’t want to be with you back. Always stay true to yourself and live your life. If the time is right, you’ll meet a suitable match and the rest will be history. Meanwhile, don’t beat yourself up too bad over dates that go nowhere. We live in such a disposable society that you want to take your time to find the right person. I don’t know if this may be speaking to anyone but yeah. If you can currently relate to that guy in the picture above then chin up!
This got a chuckle out of me. It brings me back to the first time I can recall being prayed for. It was at my retail job back in 2004. I was in college and worked at a toy store in the mall. It was a Sunday. I’ll never forget it. This father walks in with his two adorable twin sons. He was dressed in his Sunday best so I figured he just came out of church. I wasn’t anti-Christian but at the time I didn’t pay religion much mind. He bought a couple race cars for his twin boys, then he asked me out of the blue if he could pray for me. I was totally caught off guard. I asked him pray for what? He said good health, wealth and success in my college career. Eh, what the hell I thought. Couldn’t hurt. So he placed his hand on my shoulder as I awkwardly looked ahead at his twin boys standing in the doorway some 20 feet away from the register counter. They both wore the look on their faces that said, “UH OH… DADDY’S DOING IT AGAIN!” Looking back, I appreciated what Francis (still remember his name) did for me over 12 years ago. Even though I was shaved, happy and had no religion at the time, I didn’t mind him praying good health and wealth over me. But some people, like that business man in Neo Tokio, wants no part of prayer. To each his own, right? Just another interesting little moment of many in Terranigma.
Was Terranigma originally named Illusion of Gaia 2? From this bit of dialogue it would appear so. Interesting indeed.
Meilin?! What’s up with her and you?
Ah, philosophical musings and whimsical introspection are just the order of the day here in Terranigma. It’s times like this that makes one reflect on their own life, or maybe that’s just me. At any rate, it definitely all adds to the pulse of the game. It’s as if you’re really in another world — one far far away yet hits close to home, too.
Alright, not to be sexist. SOME girls…
Elle?! Oh man, all the ladies simply cannot resist the valor and excellence of Steve!
“There’s a lotta things about me you don’t know anything about, Dottie. Things you wouldn’t understand. Things you couldn’t understand. Things you shouldn’t understand.”
“I don’t understand. And who’s Dottie?”
“You don’t wanna get mixed up with a guy like me. I’m a loner, Dottie. A rebel. So long, Dott.”
Some more interesting dialogue ensues. You can’t help but grin at some of the comments.
You have the opportunity to expand many different towns throughout the course of the game. Suncoast is but one example.
Back in the late ’80s to early-mid ’90s, Suncoast was a staple of my childhood. It was always the first store I visited whenever my mom took me to the local mall. It was en route to other classics such as SOFTWARE ETC., Walden Books, B. Dalton, Sam Goody, and of course, the awesome CYBERSTATION arcade hall on the upstairs wing.
Upon hitting Suncoast, I would raid their vast horror and sci-fi section, drooling over the mesmerizing horror movie boxes and reading the back of every Godzilla VHS box. There was a definite sense of idyllic innocence to those olden days that a small part of me still misses to this day. So yeah, thanks Terranigma for conjuring up fond memories of days gone by.
This part exemplifies the great power of a magical world tucked inside a 16-bit cartridge. The game never shows you what the view actually looks like, but you can practically imagine it. Elaborate 3D graphics need not apply. All you need are just some proper words linked together and your own imagination to be swept away.
Unexpected little moments like this bring the game to life and makes it easy to suspend your disbelief for a bit. It’s a real living breathing world that you’re navigating.
Poor guy. Little does he know…
Hurt people hurt people. Word.
WHAT THE CRITICS SAID
Terranigma is a beloved classic. It’s one of those games few people played back in the mid ’90s only to finally experience years and years later. It’s now considered one of the finest games in the SNES catalog, and rightfully so. Many moons ago, I ran a poll on my original RVGFanatic site asking readers which of the Quintet Trilogy they most preferred. Not surprisingly, Terranigma won that vote going away. I love Soul Blazer and Illusion of Gaia as well, but they don’t stand a chance.
Speaking of the people, I’ve compiled a gamut of opinions regarding the awesomeness that is Terranigma.
WOW! A masterpiece in every possible way. The gameplay is simply phenomenal. The plot is so amazing that it’s difficult for me to put into words how incredible the story actually is. There are so many interesting twists and turns throughout. -Rbball13
You love me…
You really love me!
It holds the greatest appeal to people who enjoy an intriguing, engrossing story that will make one go into contemplation, fans of the style of gameplay, and those who value engaging characters. Terranigma is a rewarding experience that, if one is willing, will enrich one’s mind and soul. A classic that is worth every gamer and story lover’s time. -Nepheliad
Terranigma is a unique experience among RPGs. The game has a few jokes, side quests and secrets to keep people busy, and while the plot doesn’t preach any philosophical morals to you directly, it will probably make you think about things differently. -Big Cow
It really is difficult to describe Terranigma with mere words. It’s an experience unlike any other on the Super Nintendo. An adventure every serious video gamer has to go on in order to see what makes this game one of the best Super Nintendo games ever — maybe even the best of them all. It’s the magnum opus of Quintet every SNES gamer should check out. -Darth Julian
Can you remember the last time you loved a game so much that you were actually afraid for it to end? I remember getting this feeling from this game right here. It is possibly Quintet’s finest hour, and a tribute to what these video game developers could and did accomplish during the wonderful and immortal 16-bit era. -PizzaDude371
This game offers the freedom to explore a vast world and continually find new things on a level I have not experienced before in a Super Nintendo RPG –- not with Tales of Phantasia, Final Fantasy III, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past or any other. It stands out in its own right as the richest, most brimming game world I have known. Over nearly 30 hours of gameplay I never failed to be excited when I opened a treasure chest or returned to a village to engage in fresh dialog –- even if it was just for the most elementary update to that NPC. I found that I was growing each town thoroughly, and meticulously inching over the world map so as not to miss interacting with a single character or place. This all amounts to a level of commitment that I did not think I would be able to meet given my busy lifestyle, but Terranigma simply bewitches you in this way. The best praise I can give Terranigma is that it was the last game of my adolescence that truly consumed me. -Midget35
This game will enlighten you as much as it will entertain. -MaullarMaullar
It was on a late, blustery November night that I began my trek through Terranigma. Black Friday (2010) to be precise. Somewhere miles and miles away, my crazy cousins were plotting their great raid. Me? I was warm and cozy gearing up to unravel the marvelous worlds inhabiting Terranigma. The game completely consumed me over the following two weeks. Whether I was searching for the Five Sandstones, deciding to vote for Jean or Louis, or just simply looking out for poor old bloke Bell in Freedom, Terranigma grabbed a hold of me from the very start and didn’t let go until the bittersweet end. Expanding the various towns is always rewarding and tasks such as delivering nine letters for the cause of Nirlake all adds to the game’s greatness. Plenty of NPC interaction and slaying of foul monsters to satisfy even the most jaded of ARPG fans. Terranigma truly has it all.
It should be noted that the game is on the easy side; it hardly gave me any trouble at all. But that’s easily overlooked (and forgivable) when a video game is as enjoyable and sweeping as Terranigma is. You’re simply too busy having a good time instead. The visuals won’t wow you even though they are top-of-the-line quality. The soundtrack is utterly amazing. This is truly a global adventure. Along the way you’ll see various sights and meet folks from all walks of life. Towns expand, things pass and fade away, love blossoms, evil reigns, hope abounds. Some of the puzzles were a bit tricky but the solution was always right under my nose. The final boss is way too easy and a bit anticlimactic as a result, but the emotional ending left me feeling both satisfied and saddened. Simply put, Terranigma is a special game worthy of its hype. If you haven’t played it yet, what are you waiting for? It’s one of the best Super Nintendo games ever created.
There’s something special about having a best friend growing up. Someone you can truly call a best friend unequivocally. A best pal who sticks with you through thick and thin, good and bad, highs and lows. Nothing completes a healthy childhood like having a best buddy. And if you were lucky like me, you had one growing up. This is a tribute to my childhood best friend, Nelson. The greatest times we shared, the coming-of-age adventures of our youth, the falling out, the reconciliation and the most recent events that transpired between us not long ago…
SEPTEMBER 1988: DAY OF RECKONING
In a second, streams of sunshine. I heard a muffled voice that rose like a crescendo.
Great. Armageddon had finally come. The inevitable, as it were. No longer was I a free man. No more watching cartoons all day long. No more playing in the backyard with my brother’s Lego toys while he toiled along at school. I would wave good-bye to my brother and watch him disappear down the block before making a mad dash for his precious Lego stash (which he rarely let me touch in his presence). The sleek black spaceship called THE INVADER had more planets to conquer and it needed me to help it do that. Was I ready to give all of that up? Hell no. But you know what they say about Armageddon — it’s always got a face and a name. And now, a date as well.
Somehow, my mom managed to drag me to Room 1 by eight sharp. I sat in the corner, arms crossed with a scowl carved on my face. And it was then that I noticed a chubby boy sitting in the opposite corner who looked like he wanted to be there even less than I did. By the end of that week, the two of us became friends. Best friends. Nelly and I.
THE EARLY ’90S
Nelson and I had so much in common. We both loved monsters, ghosts, video games, wrestling, cartoons, TGIF, Are You Afraid of the Dark? and the list goes on and on. We lived only two blocks away from each other. On my way to school each morning, I would stop by to pick him up. After school, if he wasn’t at my house, I was at his. My mom often took us to the library. Nelly and I used to borrow all the monster books we could find. My local library had a small monster section that we often raided as though we owned it. And maybe we did. To this day I still vividly remember borrowing the Godzilla book and others from that classic Ian Thorne series. I also remember us believing in those infamous Loch Ness Monster and Bigfoot photos that we found in the library.
We watched all of the Showa era Godzilla movies together except for one: Destroy All Monsters. We read in a monster book somewhere about how Destroy All Monsters featured “all the TOHO monsters in it.” It then became an obsession of ours to track down a VHS copy, but at the time it proved very difficult to find. It’s not like today where with the power of the internet almost any obscure movie can be resurrected from the ashes. Oh no, back then it was the Wild, Wild West. We never did manage to track down a copy of DAM. I remember the author’s comment on DAM to this day. Nelly and I were flabbergasted when we read, “The movie is sadly not as good as one might hope.”
Nelson and I grew livid and defensive. “No freaking way! ALL the monsters are in it! It CAN’T BE ANYTHING BUT AWESOME! YOU BLIND JERK!”
Many years later I finally caught DAM when it was released on a larger scale. I have to say I agree with that author after all. So buddy, if you’re reading this somehow, I take it all back. On a side note, Nelson and I caught the opening night showing of Godzilla (2014) and it was glorious. Can’t wait for the 2019 sequel.
THE BURIED NOTE
Sometime in 1991, Nelson and I had the idea of burying a “Best Friends Forever” pledge in my backyard. We printed our names in blood (or at least, a sharp #2 pencil anyhow) and truly believed that in doing so we would remain best friends ’til the end of time. Ahhhh, the innocence of being eight. As we were preparing to dig a hole in my backyard, a booming voice rang. It was big bro. As big brothers often do, he spoiled our plans. The note, sadly, was never buried.
THE LEGEND OF THE MASKED MANIAC!
Back in 1992, Nelson told me a story that haunted me for weeks. In our hometown, according to him you understand, there was a maniac on the loose. On the prowl. Believed to be… at large. Again, according to Nelson, mind you. He wore a white hockey mask and wielded a horrific chainsaw. He was… THE MASKED MANIAC. Of course, a part of me knew my best friend was just spewing crap, but a small part of me grabbed and held on to the story. So imagine our shock and delight when we first saw Stanley Decker the following year in Zombies Ate My Neighbors. HOLY CRAP! It was Nelson’s MASKED MANIAC come to life!
The Masked Maniac became our little in-joke as the years went by, and I still believe The Masked Maniac is the world’s greatest slasher movie yet to be made.
THE GOLDEN AGE OF FIGHTING GAMES
The Street Fighter II craze hit the nation in 1991. Nelson and I fell in line but it was really World Heroes in 1992 that we truly adored. We both knew Street Fighter II was by far the superior game, but we sort of adopted the lesser touted World Heroes as one of our own. While the lines for the Street Fighter II cab went out the door, Nelson and I were perfectly content playing World Heroes with little fanfare. Nelson bought the SNES port in the fall of 1993 and we played it to death.
One of my favorite gaming memories came in late 1993 when both Super Street Fighter II and World Heroes 2 were jousting for arcade supremacy. On a rainy as hell Saturday morning, my dad dropped Nelson and me off at this gigantic jack-of-all-trades hobby store. I’ll never forget how my dad stopped the car right in front of the store, how Nelly and I streaked out of the back seats and to the safety of the store’s awning but not before the downpour managed to soak our jackets. Upon entering the humongous hobby shop, we wiped our feet and were immediately greeted by the soft Norwegian tunes of Erik’s stage from World Heroes 2. It’s just one of those simple little moments that stick with you forever. One of those magical childhood moments that even now as an adult you can still see vividly happening in third person.
THE FALL OUT
A lot changed in September 1992. I was a 4th grader in a 3-4 combo class that school year. Meanwhile, Nelson was in a standard 4th grade classroom. For the first time ever, we were separated. I met Timmy and Jerome, two third graders in my combo class, and we became good friends right away. At lunch I didn’t know whether to hang out with Nelson and Manny, or my new friends, Jerome and Timmy. I ended up hanging out with Jerome and Timmy more. Not surprisingly, this drove a riff in my relationship with Nelson. The line in the sand was drawn. It’s possible we had a fight prior to this which led to me picking Timmy and Jerome over Nelson and Manny, but I can’t quite remember the finer details.
Later that school year, things began to sour between me and Timmy. Somehow, we went from good pals to bitter rivals. This divided Jerome and our little three man clique disbanded as quickly as it formed.
Around December 1992, my teacher had each of us make a shoe box diorama. The box had to be decorated with things you liked. I chose my family and wanted to depict a typical lazy Sunday afternoon. My mom cooking in the kitchen, my dad reading the paper in the den, and my bro and I playing Street Fighter II on the SNES in our living room. Doesn’t sound bad on paper… until you factor in the cheap cut-out paper I used to represent everything in my shoe box. I’ll be honest, I didn’t do my best on that one…
Timmy, on the other hand, used grand 3D models: small dinosaur toys littered his diorama along with a pleasant looking volcano perfectly situated in the middle. Trees, even! It was a lush depiction of the Jurassic period, no doubt about it. He earned an A while Ms. Holly was kind enough to give me a C. Timmy’s shoe box sure bested mine, but it was what he did later that day that made me snap.
“What grade did you give Steve?” he asked Ms. Holly annoyingly.
“Timmy, that’s inappropriate to ask.”
“Did you fail him? Did you?”
“Timmy! What did I just say?”
I sat there and watched as Timmy grinned his stupid fat grin.
I glared at his scrawny ass from my seat. I saw the stupid bastard grinning like a Cheshire cat as he continued to pester Ms. Holly to spill the beans. He came up to me at the end of the day with his usual smug expression looking all arrogant and cocky.
“Steve, you know what, actually, your shoe box isn’t THAT bad… I mean, you really did justice to your family… after all, they’re all so… lifeless!”
And that’s when I snapped.
Timmy had crossed a line he could not return from. But since we were still in class, I had to restrain myself well enough not to kill him then and there. Instead, I sat quietly in my seat with the rage festering inside. My eyes were glued to the clock counting down until the end of the day… just a few more minutes…
As soon as Ms. Holly excused my table, I bounced out of my seat like I was sitting on a spring. Storming out to where Timmy already was, he turned around, saw the intense look in my eyes and he knew IT WAS ON. He flinched right before I sprinted after him. He zipped through the school courtyard like a little jack rabbit, but I was right on his tail.
Down the 3rd grade sector we ran. No one attempted to stop us. Hell, I didn’t even see anyone around as everything suddenly became a blur and Timmy was the only concrete image I could make out. It was one of those out-of-body experiences. Not before long I managed to grab his shirt. I felt the life being sucked out of his puny body as I pinned him against the wall. Peering deeply into his eyes, I saw the resignation in it. He didn’t struggle, didn’t whimper.
It was the look of the lamb… right before the slaughter.
“Don’t you ever — EVER — insult my family again!”
I let his limp little body go. He held his left cheek as he walked off with his tail tucked between his legs. Timmy never messed with me or my family again following that.
I’m not saying violence solves issues, but at the time it just felt right. I defended the honor of my family’s name. The second half of that school year, Timmy kept his distance and I went back to being best friends with Nelson and Manny — the guys I should have stuck with all along. I guess at some point, every relationship has to go through the fire. Then, and perhaps only then, do you know what’s what.
BACK IN BUSINESS
The very next year saw a reunion — Nelson and I were in the same 5th grade classroom together. The band was back, baby!1994 turned out to be the best year of my childhood. Nelly and I were ten, and ten is a funny age, you know. Some days you feel like you’re five, and other days you feel like you’re 15. It’s a time to relish the twilight years of your childhood, as well as a time to look forward to all the teenage turmoil to come. Not only were we reunited but we also had the two prettiest girls in the whole school in our class: Jennifer and Elaine. Elaine was the “Prom Queen” type. Jennifer was more like the classic Girl Next Door. She was my version of Winnie Cooper growing up.
One spring day after school somehow, the four of us found ourselves walking home together. We never did this before and we never did it again, but there was magic in the air that day. All our friends shot us jealous and stunned looks as they watched me and Nelson escort the two cutest girls home. I remember us walking through the school’s huge baseball field just taking it all in, enjoying the sunshine beating down on us and shooting the shit with the two hottest girls in the entire school.
LAST MAN STANDING
Nelson and I were surrounded by a cast of characters. We were good friends with Manny and Jonathan but Manny and Jonathan didn’t get along. Jonathan was the new cocky kid in town. Manny didn’t appreciate that. For weeks we felt their budding rivalry build until finally, one fateful dreary day it came to a head.
During that lunch period, we were eating our Lunchables and drinking our Capri Sun pouches when the fireworks started AGAIN between Manny and Jonathan. Manny then challenged Jonathan to a game he deemed “LAST MAN STANDING.” It was the challenge to end all challenges. Manny and Jonathan would take turns doing something crazy and then the other had to copy. Whoever fails to do so first loses. The LAST MAN STANDING wins. Manny started it off by sliding down the slide head first. Jonathan followed suit. I winced as his head landed awkwardly on the tanbarks. But in typical cocky Jonathan fashion, he brushed the dust off and asked Manny, “Is that all you got, tough guy?”
It was Jonathan’s turn now. He stood there on the tanbarks, bent his knees and fell backward. He landed awkwardly and got up gingerly, rubbing his back. He grimaced and grinned at the same time. “Try that!” he yelled at Manny. Manny then placed both arms on his shoulders, crisscross style, and did a full on trust fall. No bent knees. No cheapies. It was the real deal. He shot back up like nothing happened. The dude was Wolverine. Now it was his turn. But not before Jonathan could shout, “LET’S SEE WHAT YOU GOT!”
Rookie mistake. Jonathan didn’t know Manny like we did. And that’s when Manny went for the kill.
Jonathan, Nelson and I found ourselves standing at the base of the first tetherball set. There were a total of six tetherball poles in all, each separated by 10 feet. Like a man possessed, Manny sprinted to the opposite end. We stood there staring on in bewilderment wondering what he had in mind. I’ll never forget what I saw next. Manny began charging 200 miles per hour with his right arm fully extended. You could hear the sickening SMACKof steel on bone as Manny streaked past all six metal poles. The sight of his arm jerking backward at a 75 degree angle following each pole made me cringe. After Manny was done, he stood there beaming not five feet away from us. He gestured to the end of the first tetherball set as to say, “You’re next.”
Exasperated, Jonathan threw his arms in the air and yelled, “You crazy son of a bitch!” Nelson and I watched as he walked off. There was only one thing left to do: we raised Manny’s arms in the air and declared him the undisputed champion.
Nelson and I share a passion for all things Halloween (both the movie franchise and the actual day). Anything that had to do with monsters, ghosts or ghouls, we were there.
Every October Nelly and I cranked up our year-round monster love to the max. Telling ghost stories in our rooms, watching horror movies, reading the latest FANGORIA issues — it was such a great time to be 10 years old and have a like-minded best friend.
We entered a phase where we were obsessed with collecting as many horror cassettes as we could. I’ll never forget this one in particular — “Sounds of Halloween.” That cover was epic!
We bought these tapes thinking they were taboo. We’d sit in Nelly’s room, close the blinds and listen to them while swapping ghost stories. I also loved the cheesy warning labels. Looking back on it all, these tapes weren’t that great, truth be told, but it was a time capsule. A sign of the times and days of innocence.
Speaking of things that go bump in the night, we were obsessed with Goosebumps. It was kind of the Harry Potter of the ’90s before Harry Potter.
Nelson’s favorite was The Haunted Mask.
And this was mine.
From that point on, I was hooked. Nelson and I had a friendly competition where each month we’d see who could read the latest Goosebumps edition first. Made for some fun times. Half of the fun was discussing it with your best friend afterward.
I remember seeing these at the local library with Nelson. We always psyched ourselves out and made these books scarier than what they really were. It was all part of the fun.
It was just a magical time. You’d go to the arcade with your best friend to play all the latest fighting games. Then you’d swing by the local book store to peruse the latest EGM and GameFan issue before making your way to the back of the store where they had R.L. Stine’s latest and greatest. Whether you were into Goosebumps or Fear Street, it always made for a good time with your best pal.
In my hometown growing up, Game Hunter was widely revered. It carried nothing but video games and anime (hell, even a few arcade cabs). Everything from handhelds to Neo Geo, you name it, they had it. Best of all, they even carried import games. Japanese versions of games you couldn’t wait to play that would not be released in North America until weeks or even months later! Game Hunter was legendary
Nelson rented Fighter’s History and I chose King of the Monsters 2. Their North American versions were still weeks away. I remember thinking that Nelly and I were the two luckiest kids in the whole town that weekend. Needless to say, we were glued to the TV like a pair of zombies that epic weekend. Great times.
Whenever I see Lee’s bucolic stage, with those damn ducks, the fisherman dipping his line lazily in the water and those moss-covered hills, I can’t help but be instantly transported back to Nelson’s living room on a hot Saturday afternoon of June 1994.
TWO WEEKS LATER — EGM SCORE!
My brother slept at a family friend’s house two hours away. For me and Nelson, this meant only one thing: UNRESTRICTED AND UNLIMITED ACCESS TO MY BROTHER’S EGM STASH!That very first day Kevin was gone, Nelson rode his bike over in record time. I’ll never forget the image of Nelson opening my brother’s drawer and seeing him pull out with both hands a HUGE stack of EGM issues. He looked like a man possessed!
EGM in 1994 was God-like. We didn’t have internet or YouTube back then so EGM was our source of news, rumors, reviews and previews. There’s something inexplicably awesome about flipping through an EGM issue with your best friend back in those days. You could literally spend hours lost in those magical pages…
GRADUATION — JUNE 1995
They say all good things must come to an end. In June of 1995, Nelson and I were facing our final days together in elementary school. We had a hell of a run, but it was nearing time to enter the hollowed halls of junior high. On Friday, June 9, 1995, Nelson, some other friends and I walked to the local theatre to see the opening of Congo. I remember it was our first time walking over by ourselves and we felt like such a big deal. We came late though so we had to sit in the front row and crane our necks for the entire showing. The movie kind of sucked, too, but that was besides the point. We were on the verge of a brand new chapter in our lives, but we were going to hopefully stick together through it all.
Later that night, it was our school’s End of the Year Dance. We all attended but not before we all fished for reasons and excuses not to. Hey, we were 11 and it’s what 11 year old boys do. But in the end we knew we’d regret it if we didn’t. Seeing Jennifer and Elaine there and interacting with all our friends for the final time made it worth it. I remember a lot of multi-colored dots dancing around the cafeteria and drinking a lot of fruit punch. Talking with my friends and enjoying our final days in grade school together. The following week we graduated and I knew deep down that life would neverbe the same…
THE MOVE — JANUARY 1996
Halfway through my 7th grade year, I had to move. Even though Nelson and I would only be separated by about 20 minutes, I knew things were going to be different. Neither of us could drive and it just isn’t the same as when you live within walking distance. We slowly but surely fell out of touch.
FRIDAY: SEPTEMBER 12, 2003
Now a junior in college, it was my tradition every Friday after my final class to hit the gym on campus and play pickup ball. I became obsessed with basketball (see Coach Butler and 9/11 for more). It was on this fateful Friday late afternoon walking out of the gym that I noticed a local news station on campus. Before I knew what was happening, they approached me to ask if I had any thoughts on a hot topic related to my campus. I spoke to the camera for about 15 seconds and afterward they told me I’d be on the 5 o’clock news. I raced over to my cousin’s house in my old hometown to record my 15 seconds of fame. My little cousins were screaming when they saw their cousin on TV. I felt like a rock star. Feeling like I could move mountains, I decided to break the silence and reach out to my old best friend, Nelson.
It had been two years since we last spoke. Hell, I had no idea if he even still lived at the same place. We were 20 now so there’s a good chance he had already moved out of his parents’ place. Only one way to find out for sure, though.
And so, it was around 5:45 on a cool early Friday evening that I swung by the old haunt. Butterflies were swooning in my stomach as I parked in Nelson’s old driveway. I rung the doorbell and waited anxiously.
It was his mom.
“Yes! Hi, does he still live here?”
“He sure does, but I’m afraid he’s out.”
“Oh,” my voice couldn’t help hide the disappointment.
“I know it’s been a while… he’d be so thrilled to see you again.”
“Likewise. Please tell him I stopped by.”
She invited me in for a drink but I told her I should get going. That ol’ road beckons me home. As I started walking back to my car, a huge black Toyota truck came roaring into the driveway. We both stared at each other stunned for a second.
“STEVEN!? Holy shit, how long’s it been?!”
We went to his backyard, the same one where Nelson and I spent many hours of our youth during the dog days of summer, and we caught up on the past couple years of our lives. The skyline was beautiful. The sun was just dipping over the horizon with a light September breeze gently greeting us every few seconds. That evening Nelson and I talked. About the good old days. About Elaine and Jennifer. About college. We talked about LIFE.
It wasn’t all rosy, though. I found out that evening that Nelson had dropped out of college. He felt directionless. He also took up smoking and not just cigarettes. He told me he was trying real hard to quit but it’s just that — real hard. Part of me had difficulty processing the ‘new’ Nelson. I never envisioned him in a million years as someone who would use drugs or drop out of school. But I guess that’s life. Things change and shit happens. On the bright side, Nelson was working as a part-time mechanic and making some money at least.
We ended up shooting the breeze for a couple hours straight as it was soon nightfall. It felt surreal to be back in the same backyard I used to patrol some odd ten years ago. Except now we were no longer 10 year old kids. No longer children of innocence. Now we were 20 and young adults. My life was on track while Nelson’s was a bit more uncertain. And despite the long disconnect and “growing apart,” that evening we found out we would always be friends at the very least. No matter what happens, or where life takes us, Nelly and I’ll always share an unbreakable bond.
FRIDAY: MAY 23, 2008
Nelson and I always have our mini-reunions after x-months of not seeing one another. On this day we decided to catch up over dinner with two other mutual friends. They were a couple — the guy lived next door to Nelson growing up and I used to have a crush on the girl back in college and possibly vice versa. Quite the interesting evening it turned out to be. The four of us shared a lovely dinner at a steak house. Afterward Nelson and I drove to the theatre to catch the new Indiana Jones movie.
On the drive over, Nelson shared some very deep issues with me. He talked about how our friend Jake possessed such natural charisma speaking to the waitress serving us, and how much Nelson wishes he had the same ability. I encouraged him with a little pep talk and told him to keep his head up.
“Wow Steve… no one has ever believed in me like that before. My whole family’s kind of written me off a little bit y’know… it’s nice to see you have my back and believe in me.”
I know, it was a sappy little moment, but I tell ya, Nelson is my guy. I’ll always believe in him and want the best for him. It’s not easy to be real like that, to open up and be so vulnerable to another person. We all have our shortcomings and having support is key. It takes a lot of guts to share something so personal.
MY KNIGHT IN SHINING ARMOR
That spring 2008 semester I student taught at my childhood elementary school. Yup, the very same one where Nelson and I met and became best friends. My dream was always to return home, teach there and give back to the community. It was a blast coming back to the old digs. One day after school I went to my car and found in my haste earlier that morning I’d accidentally locked the keys in the car. D’OH! Fortunately, one of the back windows was opened about two inches. There was *JUST* enough space for a clothes hanger to maybe prop the lock open.
Luckily, my grandmother happened to live just half a block from where I parked my car. I walked over and she loaned me an old wire hanger. Much to my chagrin, the wire proved too weak to get the job done.
Then I called Nelson, who still lived in that same house about a block or two away from our old elementary school. After describing the embarrassing situation to him, he was on his way.
Next thing I know, as I’m standing there on the sidewalk by my car, in the far distance I could make out Nelly coming around the corner on his bicycle! The scene from The 40 Year Old Virgin immediately flashed in my mind, complete with the cheesy ’80s song “Heat of the Moment” blaring in my overactive mind.
Nelson brought one of those back scratchers, and this was the result:
But then we applied a little force, pushing the stick down. It slid down and we managed to prop the lock open!
My ’92 Honda had been through the wars and the back right window stopped working a while back, so it was opened an inch or two permanently. I covered it with some tape… it all looked very tacky as you can see. But this defect allowed me to skip calling AAA which I didn’t have at the time. At first the stick wouldn’t go in but a couple clever angle squeezes and it just barely made it through.
I treated Nelson to lunch afterward where we laughed about this incident and just talked about life, carrying on our conversation from a few weeks ago. There’s something about connecting with someone who knows your history as well as you yourself do. There’s something very special about that.
FRIDAY: MARCH 26, 2010
While I studied to earn my teaching credential in college, I minored in Theatre Arts. I’ve always been fascinated by acting, and I love the camaraderie that it naturally builds. Rehearsing late nights, even past midnight, has a funny way of bonding people. Well, on this night I was playing a Roman soldier and we opened to a house of 2,000 people. Among the two in that audience of 2,000? Nelson and yes, my childhood crush, my Winnie Cooper… Jennifer. It meant so much to me that they both showed up. It was a great night.
SUNDAY, MARCH 29, 2015
Fast forward five years. Nelson and I crossed a major item off our bucket list: attend a freaking WRESTLEMANIA. WrestleMania 31 was one of the greatest live events I’ve ever been to. We had pretty decent seats and it was a childhood dream come true. Hell, we got to witness Sting’s first and only WrestleMania match!
FRIDAY: AUGUST 5, 2016
Nelson and I share a special bond where we may go months without contact but whenever one of us gets in touch it’s like we never left. Precisely one year ago, as I write this, I decided to visit Nelson’s new place in Southern California. We set out to visit Disneyland since it was about 30 minutes away from his apartment.
As I was about three miles away from his place, I passed through a neighborhood that I couldn’t help but feel an overwhelming sense of déjà vu. That’s funny. How can it be familiar if I’ve never been here before?
It suddenly dawned on me. Was it? Could it be? No way. I passed a few traffic lights before finally pulling over. I had to quench my curiosity before heading to Nelson’s. Busted out my phone and typed into Google:
“HALLOWEEN 1978 FILMING LOCATIONS”
A website came up and an address in South Pasadena was given. My hands were shaking as I punched said address into Google Maps.
“1.8 miles away”
I had just driven by one of the iconic Halloween filming locations! HADDONFIELD IN THE FLESH! The Halloween super geek in me was coming out big time. What were the odds that my childhood best friend (who also loved the Halloween franchise) would live three miles away from Haddonfield?! It was a moment of true serendipity. I texted Nelson to tell him I’d be coming 30 minutes late. I had no doubt we would return later but for now it was a personal pilgrimage I simply had to brave for myself first. And this is what I recorded on that serendipitous day:
Following this, I drove the three miles over to Nelson’s. I showed him the pictures and video I took. He couldn’t believe it! He moved to L.A. about seven months ago but had no idea he lived just three miles away from “Haddonfield.” Next thing you know, we found ourselves on an impromptu trip down memory lane. What initially began as a trip to chill with Mickey turned into a trip of HUNTING THE BOOGEYMAN. We ended up driving all over South Pasadena that late afternoon looking for a ton of Halloween nostalgia live in the flesh. This is what we found that day…
HUNTING THE BOOGEYMAN
Michael’s house was demolished and moved to a new location. It now serves as an office. Despite the disappointment of that, Nelson and I still sat there in awe. Reminiscing and laughing about the good old days, that’s when we noticed a DirecTv satellite dish on the side of the house. We also could hear the loud humming of an air conditioner. It was a hot August day in Haddonfield… the dog days of summer indeed. That’s when the line of the day was uttered by yours truly. “What the hell, Michael Myers watching Game of Thrones with the AC on? DUDE IS GETTING SOFT!” Nelson added, “What’s Michael Myers doing browsing PornHub!?”
We laughed hard for what felt like minutes. We laughed so hard we both had tears in our eyes. Man, I hadn’t laugh that good in quite a while. A mere hour prior to this, we both just assumed we’d catch up a bit and find Mickey. Little did we know! Instead, we found ourselves reconnecting and hunting a boogeyman who has haunted us both since childhood. Suddenly, we were chasing a ghost from our past. A ghost with no face. “And the blackest eyes… the devil’s eyes.” Rest in Peace, Donald Pleasence.
Each filming location foray brought me and Nelson closer to the edge of a bygone era. An age we both thought had all but disappeared. It was like slipping through the back door of a time machine. Suddenly, we were wide-eyed kids again. Completely unjaded and uncorrupted by the foul orders of life and the cruelties of growing up.
Wow. Standing there taking this picture sent goosebumps up and down my spine.
Next on the list was the old elementary school featured in the 1978 film. It still looked pretty much the same. It was crazy thinking it had been almost 40 years since Michael stalked Tommy here.
Here Nelson and I sat in his car on a street used in the filming of Halloween. We shot this quick video below:
After this, Nelson and I decided to drive around L.A. randomly and then get some dinner.
You can’t go to L.A. and not take a shot of those beautiful palm trees.
What else would two guys in L.A. do on a Saturday night but break out the good stuff? Nelly and I hit up the local laundry mat so he could have some fresh clothes for Disneyland tomorrow.
The laundry mat had a Neo Geo cab! How cool is that? That led to some natural reminiscing about World Heroes and the like.
Nelson took me to Shakey’s Pizza Parlor for dinner. It was the ultimate haven for comfort food. We ordered a large piping hot pepperoni pizza, some chicken and potato wedges. I probably consumed like 2,500 calories alone but it was damn worth it. Totally hit the spot!
After dinner Nelson drove us through a fancy part of town. We drove up to the top of this hill and it overlooked the city. It was nice to get away and just shoot the shit with my old best friend. Every once in a while it’s nice to drive far away and get away from it all for a bit. Nelson smoked a cigarette as we talked. I stared at all the tiny houses below, and wondered what was going on in that house with all the lights turned on. Nelly and I just stood there reminiscing for a bit before talking about current life. My teaching career. His new life in L.A. It was a good night to be alive. Hanging out with your old best friend. Then Nelson asked me if I had seen Stranger Things. I laughed. That’s exactly the show we would have watched as kids. We drove back to Nelly’s apartment and watched Halloween to end the evening. After everything that went down earlier that day, it was the only proper way to close out that night.
Nelson and I went to Disneyland the next day and we had a blast. We left the park around 9 PM because his back started to flare up. He took me to this local Chinese joint that he said was legit. We spent the rest of that night eating some of the best Kung Pao chicken I ever had and reflecting back on the highs of our little two day adventure. It was truly a magical weekend — the kind that stays with you for life. Hunting Michael and Mickey with your childhood best friend all within 24 hours? Can’t top that.
It’s crazy that Nelson and I have known each other now for nearly 30 years. I always have a great time with Nelson. It doesn’t matter how long we go without communication. The second either one of us reaches out, it’s like we never left. Those friendships are the best. Maybe we’re no longer best friends, but I’m grateful we still keep in touch and that we still know how to have a good time together. No matter what happens going forward or where life takes us, there will always be a special place in my heart for Nelson. My childhood wouldn’t have been as awesome without him, and the memories we have forged over the years — all the ups and downs — have played a role in who I am today. That’s priceless and I’ll always cherish the experiences we had. Here’s a toast to Nelson and all the best friends out there. Cheers!
The SNES has a ton of amazing games. But when you turn your eye to the Japanese side of things, that’s when you truly realize how deep and phenomenal the library is. On September 8, 2006, I began an “Obscure Super Famicom Impressions” topic where I posted my two cents on a slew of obscure Super Famicom exclusives. The topic was well received and stirred much retro gaming discourse. 10 years later I revived my topic to post a personal top 50 list. I’m now converting that list over
This isn’t a top 50 *BEST* list. Rather, it’s a top 50 favorite list
There will be no (action) RPGs on this list. As best as I could, I kept this list restricted to games that any non-Japanese reader can enjoy
To qualify for this list, the game can’t have an official American release
All these games have links for their own review if you wish to read more
Everyone knows about the Capcom Mickey games on the Super Nintendo. But did you know there was a non-Capcom Mickey game released only on the Super Famicom? Developed by GRC (who also made Trouble Shooter for the Genesis), Mickey Tokyo Disneyland is worth a look.
Navigate through various sections of the famous Disneyland theme park. Red balloons send Mickey zipping around. Blue balloons can be flicked at enemies or dropped on unsuspecting suckers. It can also be set down as a paperweight or as a jumping boost. The color scheme, the classic Mickey look — it all works. The control is a bit rigid, though. Still, a nice game to play on a lazy rainy day.
Boasting a rich colorful look, Marty McFly uses his trusty hoverboard to thwart the likes of Biff, Griff, rogue cops and other assorted baddies. The classic Back to the Future overture is perfectly replicated. Chill inducing worthy.
The game does have its share of flaws, though. The control takes some getting used to and there’s a bit of slowdown here and there. But there’s just something about this game that I enjoy, warts and all.
Violinist of Hamelin (AKA Hamelin no Violin Hiki) is a puzzle action platformer where you play as Hamel and guide a girl named Flute safely through each level. Picking up Flute and tossing her through pillars of stone is not only encouraged, it’s necessary! Flute can transform into 16 different forms (after the appropriate icon has been collected). Each has its own special purpose and using the right one at the right time is key to success.
Poor Flute gets quite abused!
Her expressions are priceless!
Daft only developed three SNES games — two of which are entries #48 and #49 above. This next game completes Daft’s SNES trilogy. Based off the manga, Nangoku is a platformer that uses a level up system like you would find in an action RPG. There are eight kooky worlds to navigate with all manner of bizarre enemies to kill. There’s even a character that looks an awful lot like Link, hmm.
There’s a slight bit of dialogue in this game (as is the case with Violinist of Hamelin) but it won’t hinder a non-Japanese reading gamer from progressing. However, there’s a fan translation floating out there if you want to get the full experience.
Everything Super Bonk should have been! The sprites are smaller so maneuvering Bonk around is much improved in comparison to his first SNES outing. He can also slide now. Some “new” transformations abound that were not present in Super Bonk such as the thief, who can throw the smiley faces as projectiles. Visuals are colorful and pleasing to the eye.
Published by Nintendo on New Year’s Day 1999, Power Soukoban added an action-oriented modern twist to the classic old Soukoban formula. Not only are there puzzles to solve but you now have to fend off enemies. Your fireballs take out enemies as well as move stones.
There are even bosses! Frankenstein and Medusa to name but two. Power Soukoban is a fun action puzzle game that brings an interesting new twist to a proven formula.
Based off the anime/manga by Takashi Shiina, Ghost Sweeper Mikami reminds me of the countless action platformers we saw on the 8-bit NES back in the day. If you’re into that sort of thing, then definitely give it a look. Packed with atmosphere, it’s slightly goofy yet somewhat spooky. Perfect to play on a cold, stormy night with all the lights turned off.
Evil spirits, zombies and all assorted manner of monsters have popped up all over town. Armed with her trusty magical baton and athletic agility, it’s up to Mikami to sweep the streets and clear out the demons and demented. Just a good old fashioned fun solid action game akin to the kind we saw in the late ’80s to early ’90s.
You might remember Hammerin’ Harry from the arcade scene of the early ’90s. Running around in pseudo-Super Deformed form crushing everything in sight with a big ol’ mallet? Sign me up!
It’s also Japanese bonkers. From fighting a man dressed in a cat suit to knocking the hell out of octogenarians, Ganbare Daiku no Gensan promises a wacky experience that is certainly enjoyable while it lasts.
At a cursory glance, Super Tekkyu Fight! appears to be a Bomberman clone. But it’s actually quite different. For starters, players can take up to eight hits. Instead of bombing the competition, you attack them with a spiky chained ball.
It’s no Super Bomberman but Super Tekkyu Fight! is certainly a solid alternative when you’re in the mood for something in the Bomberman vein but with a twist.
Developed by HUMAN, best known for their Fire Pro Wrestling franchise, The Firemen is like Die Hard if you replace the terrorists with fire and the firearms with a water hose. It’s winter 2010 in New York and a high rise is burning. It’s up to you to rescue the victims and clean up the mess. Shoot in eight directions as well as strafe and lock.
Based off the manga by Akira Toriyama, Go Go Ackman is a traditional action platformer starring a very non-traditional anti-hero. And therein lies the charm. Fend off enemies by way of swordplay, boomerang and even some gun slinging. The game is short and not very challenging, but damn is it fun.
Besides, it’s pretty hilarious shooting cute little angels right between the eyes. God bless Japan, you crazy bastards you.
Battle Cross is a six player single screen racer. At first glance it appears to be a mix of Mario Kart and Bomberman. It doesn’t have the smooth and excellent gameplay of either but it’s a riot to play with four friends.
Weapons are strewn about the courses. Nothing satisfies like tossing a missile at someone or dropping a mine underneath an overpass that conceals the explosive. Fun for a retro gaming party night.
Single screen action puzzle games have always been a pet favorite of mine. They’re so simple yet complex. In Little Magic you control a young witch-in-training named May. The goal is to transport the fire stone to the pedestal of each level as well as guide May to the exit gate.
Things start out basic but progressively increases in complexity and difficulty. Later levels introduce warp points, spikes, gaping holes and even enemies. With 100 levels in all, you won’t beat this overnight. If you enjoy staring contemplatively at the screen until inspiration breaks through with the resolute “AH-HA!” then Little Magic is right up your alley.
Full of explosive mayhem that would make even Arnold proud, Rendering Ranger: R2 is an action-packed game that switches between Turrican-esque run ‘n gun stages and a horizontal space shooter. There are several different guns and each one can be powered up.
You also get three bombs to use. The bombs regenerate slowly through an energy bar at the bottom, meaning you can use one early on and gain it back by mid level or so. Speaking of the bombs, they’re not generic as they were in Contra III. Each gun actually has its own unique bomb. Good stuff.
Poko Nyan! is a platformer based off the 170 episode anime show that ran from 1993-1996. This game is clearly geared toward kids with its super colorful visuals and extremely easy gameplay. It’s got a charming protagonist that can transform into various other critters at any time. This includes a kangaroo that can jump super high, a bird with unlimited flight and a hedgehog that can do a spin attack (hmmm). It’s a perfect game for kids or anyone who is still, deep down, a kid at heart.
The set pieces are gorgeously drawn and usually have many tiers. You can kill enemies by simply dropping off a ledge and bouncing off their heads. This is deceptively satisfying. There’s something innately charming, whimsical and innocent about Poko Nyan! that takes me right back to my early childhood years.
More than just a cheap cash cow attempt, Super Bomberman Panic Bomber World is an admirable foray into the puzzle genre. Connect three or more like color pieces horizontally, vertically or diagonally. In addition, you get unlit and lit bombs because Bomberman. Once you fill up your power bar you get a mega bomb that will cause all kinds of havoc. The chain combos you can pull off are pretty insane!
And of course, being a Bomberman title, there’s even a 4 player mode. The classic Bomberman battle tune is even replicated nicely here and fits the urgency of the falling piece action to a tee.
Keeper is a puzzle action game jam packed with charm and a healthy dose of brain-bending conundrums. Players control an adorable Gizmo-like creature. Your goal is to clear the 5×5 grid of all the stones. Match three or more stones by same color or same shape. There are four modes of play including a fun co-op and 2 player versus mode.
This game is based off Rascal the Raccoon, which was a Japanese anime series based on the 1963 Sterling North autobiographical novel entitled “Rascal, A Memoir of a Better Era.” What other SNES game can claim it was based off a 1963 classic American memoir?
Araiguma Rascal puts a unique spin on your typical falling piece puzzler. As Rascal you grab one jar at a time and maneuver your way through the field. There are three different 2 player modes to boot. The graphics really invoke the spirit of Wisconsin (the setting of the memoir). There’s a vintage feel to the visuals. It all adds up to one extremely adorable and appealing package.
Unlike the other games on this list so far, BS Shockman, or BS Kaizou Choujin Shubibinman Zero, was never officially released on cartridge. Slated for a Super Famicom release back in 1994, it was instead relegated to the Satellaview device (a downloading service in Japan in the ’90s). Players can combine to unleash super special tag team attacks in the 2 player mode. Raita and Azuki also have their own special moves.
Featuring only eight stages, the game is short at 45 minutes or so. It’s also quite easy. Other than those blemishes, it’s a very fun game that feels like a mix between a traditional platformer and a beat ‘em up.
The SNES isn’t known for having very many dark and mature titles in its library. However, Majyuuou (AKA King of Demons) definitely qualifies as such. At first glance it appears to be a cross between Castlevania and Resident Evil. While it doesn’t live up to such an enticing combination, it is a rather fun and sordid romp through hell. The imagery is unlike anything else you’ll find on the SNES.
You start out in human form armed with a gun and a giant Hadoken-like blast. At the end of each level an orb allows you to transform into a savage beast. There are four forms in all. Abel’s sprite is a little small but the game features a good amount of details to compensate. It does an excellent job of sucking you into its decaying and decrepit underworld. A fascinating foray through the depths of hell.
Weirdest Super Famicom game ever? Think Pocky & Rocky on acid. A strange alien force looks to cast its iron fist over the entire universe and two brave but bumbling souls set out to save the day. Their names are Baka-dono and Baka-ouji, which translate to Lord Stupid and Prince Stupid. You can’t make this stuff up. This globe trotting adventure features 10 stages in all. Battle rotting zombies in a cursed Japanese village one minute and the next contend with crazy curry plate chucking madmen in India.
EVERYTHING EXPLODES. Elephants? They explode. Stray chickens? They explode. Japanese shoji screens? Yep, even inanimate objects explode. It’s way over the top and all done with its tongue firmly planted in its cheek with a wink to boot. You can also morph into your deceased steroid-injected father. ‘Nuff said, really!
This is the best Super Famicom beat ‘em up to never leave Japan. Sure it’s got many of the beat ‘em up tropes. Three characters to pick from. One well-balanced, one strong and one weak but quick. Charging fat bald guys. But a few neat things help it stand out. This includes blocking, special tag team moves and a meter for your special moves that’s separate from your health meter.
Ghost Chaser Densei is a top notch beat ‘em up that takes one back to the halcyon days when beat ‘em ups ruled the arcade scene.
The Magical Quest Starring Mickey Mouse brings back a lot of fond memories for many of us. Capcom’s sequel The Great Circus Mystery was solid but somehow missed that magical “it” factor that the original had in spades. In December 1995 Capcom released the final game in the trilogy and returned to form.
It was Minnie Mouse out and Donald Duck in. The classic costume system returns but this time the suit powers differ for Mickey and Donald, making it worthwhile to sample both characters. Of course, that classic refined Mickey gameplay you’ve come to love returns (including the lovely snatch-a-block-out-of-thin-air-and-heave-it-at-the-bad-guys formula). Some of the animations, particularly from Donald, are simply priceless.
If Zelda were ever made into a platformer, it would probably look something like this. You attack enemies with a short ranged sword but can gain powers as you go along. Stars are scattered throughout the game’s six stages. Collect as many as you can to increase your sub weapon’s ammunition, similar to Castlevania.
Unfortunately there is no password or save system. But thankfully there is a handy cheat code that unlocks a debug menu. Pause the game and press Up, Down, X, Y, Left, Right, A, B, Up, Up. This allows you to tweak with things such as lives, hearts, a God mode and even a level select option. Magical Pop’n is a damn fine game.
Its main strength is versatility. Pick from three different characters. The game is ridiculously versatile as evident by the SEVEN different ways to kill a bad guy. This not only separates it from the me-too crowd of SNES platformers, but it also minimizes repetitiveness while playing it.
Two 2 player modes are also at play — a co-op and battle mode. Rainbow Bell Adventures is easily one of Konami’s more underrated 16-bit gems.
Heisei Inu Monogatari Bow: Pop’n Smash, to give it its full proper name, is a game you rarely ever hear about. And that’s a shame. Imagine a mix between Pong and Breakout, then add in typical Japanese wackiness and shenanigans. Pop’n Smash is centered around canine Bow. “Bow Wow” was a Japanese manga created by Terry Yamamoto. It enjoyed a lengthy run from 1992 to 1999. There was also a 40 episode anime series that ran from 1993-1994.
The objective is to bat the ball into your opponent’s goal zone. Along the way there are obstacles such as breakable blocks, pots and even bombs to add a little extra spice. Choose from several different characters and stages. Players can make dramatic diving saves as well as cross over into the opponent’s playing area. Select different tools to hit the ball that range from a tennis racket to a mallet to even a branch. It’s one of those games that anyone can pick up and enjoy. Pop’n Smash is a smashing good time!
Sanrio Smash is similar to the previous game, Pop’n Smash, but it plays slightly better. Choose from four Sanrio characters and 20 different stages. It’s cutthroat and competitive as can be. There are power-ups to sway the tide of battle one way or the other. There’s also a super shot that players can unleash once they’ve charged their meter.
Sanrio World Smash Ball! is a smash. Sorry. It’s a ball. Damnit. Look, it’s pretty dang good, OK? So get it if you can, or something.
Spark World is a fun Bomberman clone. Each player is able to sustain two hits — this makes for lengthier battles and gets rid of the embarrassing “Oops I accidentally killed myself 10 seconds in!” moment.
Some slight twists abound. The boxing glove power-up icon allows you to punch your OPPONENT rather than the fuel barrel (bomb). When a round concludes, a stats screen shows you who killed whom. This can lead to some temporary 3-on-1 allegiances when one player killed everyone else the previous round. Good times.
Did you know there was a Super Bomberman 3, 4 and 5 for the SNES? They came out only in Japan (part 3 also came out in Europe). These sequels are perhaps most notable for adding a fifth bomber to the mix but they also feature a whole new slew of bombs and gimmicks.
The mad bomber option in part 5 takes on brand new stakes. If you kill someone as a mad bomber you get to switch places. It brings a whole new intensity to mad bombing! There’s also a hidden bomber to unlock, the Golden Bomber.
Other than Tetris, I consider Puyo Puyo the most classic, pure puzzle game. It’s where skills reign supreme and luck doesn’t play as big a role as it does in most other puzzle games. You know the formula: connect four or more like color pieces. Send garbage blocks over. Yup, there’s a reason why there’s a new Puyo Puyo Tetris mashup coming out soon for the Nintendo Switch!
4 player mode rocks.
Eat your heart out, Kirby’s Avalanche.
Best described as Super Mario Kart meets a cast of Chuck E. Cheese’s rejects. If you were sad back in the mid ’90s that there was never a Super Mario Kart 2 on the SNES, then well, SD F-1 Grand Prix certainly won’t fill that void but it stands as a solid alternative and an adequate companion piece to Super Mario Kart. Choose from 10 different cutesy animal drivers to compete all around the world in a variety of interesting and cool looking race tracks.
You have your standard 10 player Grand Prix mode but the Crash Mode features power-ups such as projectiles. And as expected, there’s a 2 player mode where you can select one of four battle courses to duke it out. As far as Mario Kart alternatives on the SNES go, this is the cream of the crop.
Culture Brain’s Super Baseball Simulator 1.000 developed a semi-cult following among SNES players in the early ’90s. Did you know Culture Brain went on to release four Super Famicom exclusive sequels? My favorite of which is the second one, which features cute chibi ball players.
The crazy power-ups that made the first game so unique and fun are back. The charming visuals are reminiscent of EarthBound, perfectly matching the game’s wackiness and absurdity. So if throwing lightning-infused fastballs is your thing, grab a mitt and PLAY BALL!
Dossun! Ganseki Battle is a Columns-esque puzzler that feels like a precursor to Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo. Pieces disappear when three or more like pieces touch. Connections are formed either vertically, horizontally or diagonally. Characters attack each other when chain combos are dealt. Their sprites enlarge as they attack — it really gets you into the fighting spirit!
There are two ways to win a match. The player’s screen fills up or their health meter is fully depleted. To make things even more interesting, the five different types of pieces each serve a different purpose when matched. Competitive and cutthroat, Dossun! Ganseki Battle is Columns meets Puzzle Fighter with a medieval theme. A winning formula for sure!
Capcom released this on April 24, 1998, for those who couldn’t afford a 32-bit system. Pick between the Blue Bomber and relative newcomer, Forte (AKA Bass), who made his debut in 1995’s Mega Man 7. Forte can double jump, dash and shoot in all directions (except straight down). Other improvements include stunning visuals (it almost looks like an early 32-bit title) and a proper save system is now in play. About friggin’ time, Capcom!
Notoriously considered one of the toughest Mega Man games around, there are sadly no E Tanks here. However, you collect bolts throughout and can purchase upgrades and power-ups at Auto’s shop. In addition to bolts, you’ll also find CD’s strewn about the stages. Collect up to 100 to view character bios. Rockman & Forte has divided the fanbase but for my money it stands as a fine Super Nintendo swan song for Capcom.
Move a cute little blob thing around the screen and clear the field of all its blocks. Blocks disappear when three or more of the same color touch. You can only push. Pushed blocks travel until coming into contact with another block or obstacle. Things start out simple but later puzzles get downright brutal. The timer adds a sense of urgency. It’s quite the rush completing a puzzle just in the nick of time!
The main story mode also allows three friends to join you. But the best thing is the 4 player battle mode. There are 10 battle arenas to pick from and most of them are littered with various gimmicks that would make any Bomberman title proud. Pushing a block across the screen to crush a loved one never felt so damn good. Puzzle’N Desu! is one of the best party games you’ve probably yet to play. Charming and addicting as hell!
The NES classic Legend of Zelda gets a remake of sorts on the SNES. It was available on March 30, 1997 in Japan via the Satellaview only. Of course, since then there’s been hacks and fan translations. SNES players can now experience BS Zelda in all its glory. An awesome take on the NES classic but with spiffy 16-bit souped up visuals. You can even now switch items and weapons by using the shoulder buttons!
The closest thing to Bionic Commando on the SNES? Umihara Kawase. You control a school girl who wears a pink backpack. For reasons unknown you find yourself in a strange world full of towering platforms, ledges and mutant marine life. Somewhere in each level lies the exit and it’s your job to safely reach it. You do this by performing various tricks with your elastic rope. Delightfully weird in that ever lovable Japanese sort of way, Umihara Kawase is a total blast to play. Much of the fun comes in figuring out how best to utilize the rope in any given situation. Using momentum and understanding the rope’s physics all come into masterful play.
At first glance it appears to be a budget title, but don’t let its basic looks fool you. What lies underneath is a complex game that hooks and reels you in (sorry). It’s always fun to see what the next twisted level will look like, as well as what new sea creatures may be milling about. Figuring out how to reach the exit is addicting. The music and sound effects fit the game to a tee; it does a good job transporting you to this bizarre alternate universe. A dimension where sea creatures are mutated, veggies are overgrown and magic stand alone doors are tucked away at the oddest heights and places. The game world is so strangely captivating — it’s like you’re deep in some twisted recurring nightmare. A nightmare, mind, that plays like an absolute dream.
Clock Tower was a cult favorite among PlayStation owners in the late ’90s. But did you know Clock Tower and Scissorman originated on the Super Famicom? A point and click horror adventure, players are flung into a creepy mansion on the outskirts of town. Something is clearly not right as your party drops one by one. You feel a haunting presence stalking your every move. The hair on the back of your neck stands up as you hear the snip-snip-SNIPof the one and only…
Like a good slow burn, Clock Tower works on building up the tension with little teases here and there. It’s not a loud in your face affair, so it may be a little too slow paced for some. But for the patient player who appreciates a good story being built brick by brick, Clock Tower delivers the scary goods. You never know for sure where Scissorman may pop up, but when he does, it’s ON. The heartbeat races a little faster and palms start to sweat as you run madly to find a hiding spot somewhere in the creepy mansion. It’s the perfect game to play on a stormy night!
The classic gameplay of Super Soukoban is as simple (yet complex) and pure as it gets. You’re in a cluttered warehouse and it’s your job to move boxes into their designated position. There is no timer; however, there is a step limit. By pressing the shoulder buttons you can rewind or fast forward previous steps. So if you mess up you don’t have to restart the level completely. Knowing that you can always backtrack and erase any error is such a boon. The early levels start out very basic but soon give way to some mind tingling terrors. Seeing levels transition from large sprites to very small sprites can be intimidating!
Later on there are even boxes already darkened, which indicates the box is already resting on a purple dot. You can still move these darkened boxes in many cases, but you have to figure out if you’re meant to or not. There are 300 levels in all and rumor has it launch day buyers are still stuck on level 289 to this very day. To boot, there’s a level edit option and a 2 player mode with 10 different characters to select from.
Taking control of a strange transparent bird, the goal is to collect the rainbow orb(s) on each level. To do so, one must “suck and blow.” Yes, you’ll suck and blow. A lot. [Insert token dirty joke here]. The colors all serve a specific purpose — click on the review if you want the rundown.
Developed and released by Nintendo on June 25, 1999, Sutte Hakkun is the LASTgreat SNES game ever. Don’t miss out on it. Being from Nintendo you know it’s good.
Human’s great Fire Pro series began its life on the PC-Engine in 1989. Their final Super Famicom Fire Pro game, Super Fire Pro Wrestling X Premium, is considered by many as the greatest 16-bit wrestling game of all time. It was revolutionary for its time thanks to its Create A Wrestler mode. You could create and save up to 80 wrestlers. The amount of moves and body types available were equally mind blowing.
The grapple system was based on timing rather than button mashing, so players had to work their way up the move chain. Light, medium and strong attack buttons allow for a natural progression. Super Fire Pro Wrestling X Premium has long since been surpassed by superior sequels. Still, 20 years later it stands the test of time. Besides, it’s pretty cool rocking out on your Super Nintendo as Bobo Brazil.
Whether he was terrorizing trains and ravaging cities, or pummeling rubber suited monsters and saving the planet, Godzilla has a special spot in the hearts of many. Having endured 60+ years and 30+ films and counting, the Big Guy is simply timeless. So growing up you can imagine the clamor for a good Godzilla video game. NES Godzilla wasn’t particularly good. Let’s not even talk about Godzilla 2. Super Godzilla? One of the all time great disappointments. Thankfully, Godzilla: Kaijuu Daikessen brings justice and a good Godzilla game to the universe.
No, you won’t find smooth crazy combos here but considering the source material (these are giant monsters after all) it’s hard to hold that against the game. Monster roars sound authentic, the sprite work is impeccable, the stages are plucked right out of the movies and the monsters are very accurate in terms of their powers. Of course some things were added or re-imagined. Godzilla never shot his atomic breath in mid-air in the films, but it certainly makes for good times in this game. The fighting engine is nothing remarkable but it gets the job done. Godzilla: Kaijuu Daikessen is a treat for any true G-Fan.
It plays enough like Bomberman to provide a comforting familiarity, yet has enough quirks to differentiate it. Dropped spiked capsules explode after two seconds, sending shurikens flying north, south, east and west. Unlike the explosions in Bomberman, the shurikens won’t kill you. Instead you become stunned for two seconds if you’re hit, leaving you wide open for an opponent’s chain ball to kill you. The chain stretches the full length so it’s possible to sit back waiting for the opportune moment to strike! Send your chain twisting some 20 feet away to pick someone off. Not only is it super satisfying but it adds a devious, vulture-like aspect that doesn’t quite exist as much in Bomberman.
Needless to say, such shenanigans lead to many “Ooh I’ll get you next round!” battle cries and pandemonium. Nothing beats the rush of recovering JUST in time right before the chain ball hits you! The eight various colosseums each have a gimmick. Otoboke Ninja Colosseum is awesome, especially if you can round up three friends to play with. And you have to appreciate any game that features mini Super Famicom icons!
Featuring insanely amazing visuals, haunting sound and ultra smooth gameplay, DoReMi Fantasy is one of the finest SNES platformers you could ever play. Milon from Milon’s Secret Castle (NES) is back and better than ever. There are eight themed worlds ranging from the gorgeous Northern Lights to a madcap toy infested universe. The levels are packed to the gills with exquisite detail, quirky enemies, excellent backdrops and some stellar set pieces. The game occasionally foregoes music for ambient sound effects instead. This leads to an atmosphere that is both surreal and bewitching.
Milon’s silly antics and whimsical adventure is sure to sweep you away to a land of awe and wonder. DoReMi Fantasy is one of the best SNES platformers not named Mario.
The Zen Nippon Pro Wrestling series was Natsume’s response to Human’s Fire Pro franchise. It features bigger, brighter visuals and a quasi-chibi presentation. The ring is viewed dead on as opposed to Fire Pro’s ¾ perspective. This makes for a perfect running system which allows you to lay back and pick your spots with running strikes, leading to some riotous Fatal Fourway matches! Budokan has a subtle barbaric sense of black humor. Look no further than being able to bounce opponents viciously off the cable ropes (OUCH) or attacking your rival even after the conclusion of a match. Hell it even features the infamous Flair flop!
Similar to the Fire Pro games, winning a grapple is based on timing rather than button mashing. The 19 wrestlers are actual wrestlers from All Japan Pro Wrestling. You got your high flyers, technicians and bruisers. Giant Baba, Kobashi, Misawa, Stan Hansen and so on. Fun stuff!
Konami developed many great games for the SNES back in the ’90s, but perhaps its best kept secret was Tsuyoshi Shikkari Shinasai Taisen Puzzle-dama. It plays like an early beta version of Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo. Select from 10 characters, each with their own block patterns. The combos can get rather insane. It’s not uncommon to pull off 6-7 hit combos even “on accident.”
Maybe it’s not for everyone, especially those used to the pure skill of a Puyo Puyo, but seeing the screen explode in a relentless 10 hit chain reaction combo never gets old. Arguably Konami’s best SNES game that nobody ever talks about.
Released on Christmas Eve of 1993, Tetris Battle Gaiden is the best Super Famicom puzzle game never to hit North American shores. It’s Tetris with a quirky twist. Choose from eight characters. Each has four different skills and abilities. These skills are activated when you acquire points and decide to cash in. To acquire said points, you must clear a line containing a crystal. Each cleared crystal grants you one point, and up to four can be stored. The skills and powers range from defensive measures to offensive attacks.
Another interesting feature: players share pieces from one queue rather than two. That means you can “steal” a piece your opponent may desperately need if you move fast (or in some cases slow) enough. This makes paying attention several moves in advance all the more critical. Few things are as satisfying as “blockblocking” your opponent. To snatch that long tetris piece right before they can is a true thing of beauty. Well, maybe that’s second only to sabotaging the competition with one of your special attacks!
Not content to stop there, two other modes are available: classic Tetris (for the purists out there who prefer their Tetris sans gimmick) and Rensa. Rensa is where gravity is taken into account and pieces fall if suspended in mid-air (except crystal pieces). This can produce some nice chain reactions. These three modes make it feel like three games in one. An amazing game bursting with insane replay value!
In October of 1994 EGM ran a preview on a Super Famicom street ball title by the name of Dream Basketball: Dunk & Hoop. The funky title immediately caught my eye as did the game pictures (blurry as they were… God were things different back in 1994). I remember thinking I couldn’t wait to play it as soon as it comes out over here. But of course it never did. Years later, 2006 to be precise, I was on the hunt for all my old favorite games, as well as the ones I never got to play but always wanted to. One evening my mind recalled Dream Basketball: Dunk & Hoop. The rest is history.
Always been a sucker for stats and ratings, and the power bars in this game remind me a ton of the ones from Marvel’s 1991 trading card series. Good memories of a bygone era. It’s a small thing but it just takes me to a happy place!
Sure it’s got your standard 5 on 5 mode, but what really drew me to the EGM preview was the blurry screenshot of a 3 on 3 street ball mode. I was always fascinated by the idea of a 3 on 3 street basketball game. This game didn’t disappoint. While it’s got its fair share of flaws, it’s simply a lot of fun. I’ve never played a basketball game where making a shot was so predicated on timing. Being that it’s from Human, go figure, right?
The 3 on 3 mode is where it’s at. In this mode you can play on two different courts, but Human even threw in some little tricks. On one court if you enter SUNSET or YONAKA (Japanese for midnight) then you can unlock exactly that. There’s a simple yet elegant gorgeousness to these settings that speak to my soul in ways I cannot explain. Maybe it’s because it brings back memories of playing ball with my buddies late at midnight, or even getting up early in the morning playing ball right as the sun breaks over the horizon. Those old school memories wrapped up in this old soul… it touches a sweet spot and takes me back to the days when my friends and I were balling without a single care in the world.
But Human didn’t stop there. At the versus screen if you press on the D-pad it will change the color of the courts. Also, you can pick from four different basketball colors. It’s just cosmetics but these little touches add up. Yeah, call me crazy but we all have that one game that clicks deep in our soul for one reason or another that won’t click with the masses. It’s our special game. Our spirit animal in video game form, if you will.
It’s been 10 years since I bought Dream Basketball: Dunk & Hoop and I still find myself playing it frequently. Did so again recently in honor of Craig Sager’s passing. This game just never gets old for me. And that’s why this completely unexpected “bracket buster” (har har) ranks #3 in my personal book.
We always hear about how great Super Tennis is and how it’s the best tennis title on the Super Nintendo. Super Family Tennis doesn’t get much props. I think it’s even better than Super Tennis. The control is smooth as hell, there’s a four player option and some of the court designs are completely bonkers, filled with amusing gimmicks and sight gags.
Look no further than knocking the ball into a tranquil pond in front of a Japanese Shinto shrine (complete with a traditional Torii gate). Or smashing the ball so hard against a coconut tree that it drops a coconut on a bystander’s head, completely taking the poor sap out. It’s these quirky details that I always enjoy seeing in a video game. It doesn’t make a game but it certainly leaves you with a positive lasting impression.
The best thing about Super Family Tennis is how fun it is. A total blast with four players, it’s something that your friends or significant other can easily pick up and play with you, even if video games typically aren’t “their thing.” There are 20 characters to choose from, all with varying skills and abilities.
Music is largely absent. Instead, it relies on ambient sound effects. And it works. From the soothing crashing waves of the ocean to the echo chamber sounds of the mountain stage, there is sort of a surreal feel to this game that wouldn’t be the same had there been music.
Its wacky sense of humor, outrageous court designs, smooth control, 20 different characters and surreal sound makes Super Family Tennis a definite smash hit for the whole family.
I have been curious about this game ever since I saw EGM preview it back in 1994. In 2006 I got back into the SNES scene and went hunting for a copy. Much to my chagrin the game was cancelled and never released on a physical cartridge. Alas, it did come out via the Satellaview Broadcast device. And thanks to the modern wonders of technology, it’s possible to experience this fine gem on a real TV. Ah, technology.
So what makes BS Out of Bounds Golf so awesome? It allows up to four players to compete and you have the ability to knock your opponent’s ball out of bounds (hence the name of the game). Of course, knocking their ball out of bounds will cost them precious stroke points. Or even just blocking their path is wicked fun. The battles get competitive and cutthroat like you wouldn’t believe. Also, because one player plays at a time, it’s a more methodical multiplayer experience. I find it works refreshingly well. There’s a ton of strategy, scouting and sabotaging involved here. It’s Schadenfreude at its finest (or worst…)
Select from three different modes.
Then choose from 12 characters, including two felines. Right away that tells you the developer (NCS, who also made Cybernator) didn’t take themselves too seriously. Keep in mind back in the mid ’90s golf games tended to be a little dull. This game, however, was packed with personality and charm.
After selecting your character you get to pick your theme. There are six themed worlds in all, with each having 8 courses. That makes 48 total courses. They range from a beach setting to even outer space. My personal favorite has to be the second world. Here you are mysteriously shrunken down to size and have to work around everyday objects such as coffee mugs, ink spills, giant cereal boxes, tomatoes and more. It’s absolutely bonkers…
What makes this game so much fun is the amount of options you have. Just look at the process of hitting the ball. First, you get to select from a power meter ranging from 1 to 100. This becomes oddly compelling in its own right. It almost becomes like a game within a game. For instance, do you use 47 or 52? 77 or 79? 91 or 94? Sometimes one point off can prove to be the difference between glorious victory and crushing defeat. It’s a thrill to see your ball barely make its way into the hole. On the flip side, nothing is more embarrassing than misjudging the power meter by one point and seeing your ball stop a mere centimeter shy of the goal!
After selecting your power, you then get to choose from one of 17 (!) different strike points on the ball. Much like pool, these strike points will determine the trajectory of your shot. While you’ll be using the dead center shot most of the time, there are times where using the trajectory shots skillfully is essential to winning. Like I said, it’s kind of like a game within a game. You’re not only battling three rivals… you’re battling yourself as well. And it works like gangbusters!
There are even weather effects and power-ups. There are at least 11 ranging from controlling your ball after hitting it to randomly switching all the balls in play. That means you can possibly swap places with a rival who is near the cup and send them way back to the beginning of a course! Sabotage never felt so sweet.
Also, each of the 48 courses have four randomly generated cup destinations. This prevents you from mastering a course simply by memorizing a certain playbook. It speaks to the game’s brilliance that there are nearly 200 possible scenarios. Add in the 17 strike points, the power meter, the wind factor, the power-ups and you get a game that feels slightly different each time you play it.
BS Out of Bounds Golf is a total riot with three friends. Expect a lot of cursing, laughing, cheering and taunting. It brings out the best and worst in people — it’s amusing to see individual personalities come out in their truest forms. There’s no other game quite like this on the SNES. And that’s why this is my favorite obscure Super Famicom game of all time.
There are a lot of good games that didn’t quite make this list, like the Parodius games. You probably didn’t agree with all of my choices but I hope this list was helpful in some way. If you found even just one new game to love from this list, then I’m happy. And remember, I purposely excluded all the awesome Super Famicom only (action) RPGs! The library is amazingly diverse and deep. Some of these games I listed are fairly well known in SNES circles, but I feel there’s still a good bunch of them that remains rather obscure. I hope this Top 50 list serves as a good resource for you and that it helps you to unearth a few new favorites. Until next time, happy gaming!
It’s January 7, 2017. RVGFanatic launched on January 7, 2007. Wow, where has the time gone? I celebrate 10 years today. 10 years later my Super Nintendo passion still burns as brightly as it did a decade ago when I first started RVGFanatic. What was the world like 10 years ago?
YouTube was still in its infancy
George W. Bush was US president
Steve Jobs announced the first iPhone
To celebrate this milestone, I figure it’s a good time to finally reveal my Super Nintendo collection in-depth. Most of my 400+ boxed SNES games were acquired from 2006-2008. I was lucky the nostalgia bug bit me several years before it did many others. It’s the only reason I have been fortunate enough to amass the collection that I did.
Each shelf will have certain games highlighted by these categories:
Best Game — What I consider to be the best game on that shelf.
Worst Game — What I consider as the worst game on that shelf.
Guilty Pleasures — Games that I enjoy but aren’t necessarily good.
Unsung Heroes — Overlooked games that I find to be high quality.
Most Disappointing — Games I thought I would like a lot but don’t.
Most Surprising — Games I didn’t expect much from but delivered.
Most Wanted — Games I’ve still yet to play but most excited to play.
Miscellaneous — Random notes on other games not yet highlighted.
ActRaiser is an excellent first generation SNES game that alternates between side scrolling platforming action and build-a-city simulation. The two parts mesh well together like a perfectly constructed puzzle.
Speaking of alternating, Axelay does that masterfully as well, switching level to level between horizontal and vertical shooting nirvana.
WORST GAME AAAHH!!! Real Monsters DISHONORABLE MENTION Adventures of Mighty Max
Incredibly tedious and annoying.
Mighty Max was one of my favorite cartoons as a kid. The game? No.
GUILTY PLEASURE An American Tale: Fievel Goes West
Nothing fancy here. Just simple, basic platforming with decent visuals.
Aladdin is often overshadowed by its Genesis counterpart but I love the brilliant animation and colors of the SNES edition. That and its dramatic hanging-on-a-ledge-by-the-tip-of-your-finger gameplay was so satisfying.
Alien³ is a solid movie licensed game in an era where many of these games weren’t very good. Try playing it with all the lights turned off…
Arkanoid: Doh It Again! is an underrated 2 player gem. It’s so simple that even non gamers can jump in and have a blast. Highly recommended!
One of the most atmospheric games on the SNES, Blackthorne proves there’s nothing like blasting goblins and trolls in a desolate mine with a sawed off shotgun. You can even “accidentally” kill innocent prisoners
The box of 3 Ninjas Kick Back alone commands $500+. The game itself surprised me as being a decent (2 player) action platformer with three different characters to choose from. Surprisingly competent!
MOST WANTED Adventures of Batman and Robin
The GameFan previews back in the day made it look BEAST.
The most unique game here, The Adventures of Hourai High, was never officially released in America. It’s a fan translation of a Super Famicom RPG import that captures the spirit of EarthBound. I bought it from Time Walk just mere weeks before they folded.
Adventures of Kid Kleets isn’t half bad. It stands out a bit from the other me-too SNES platformers on account of having to kick a soccer ball at bad guys in order to subdue them. The ball physics made it a quirky, interesting experience.
Aero Fighters is a quality 2 player shooter.
Konami developed many classic SNES games in the ’90s. Animaniacs wasn’t one of them, and probably stands as Konami’s weakest SNES effort.
Ardy Lightfoot is a curious oddity for me in that part of me wanted to put it in the unsung hero class, but there’s another part of me that considered it for most disappointing. Worthwhile, but it’s not great like I had hoped.
Battletoads & Double Dragon wasn’t as good as I hoped, but it gave me some fond memories. One of the earliest crossovers I can remember, it was a huge deal in my gaming circle back in ’93!
Biker Mice From Mars is a nice Rock ‘N Roll Racing clone.
The Blues Brothers may look like a typical platformer on the surface but it’s not without some neat tricks. For example, you can carry and throw one another in the 2 player co-op mode. Oddly enjoyable for what it is…
The Combatribes was the second import game I ever rented back in late 1992. My brother and I loved beating up Martha Splatterhead and her delinquent gangs, all in the name of saving the Big Apple.
I went through all 40+ levels of B.O.B. in the summer of 2007 and had an absolute blast. If someone turned Doom into a 2D side scrolling action platformer, it might be this. Someone once called it “retarded Metroid”
Brawl Brothers has always been a bit underrated in my book. It’s a big improvement over its predecessor, Rival Turf. My brother and I had a lot of fun with it back in the day. Doesn’t really get the props that it should.
There are better versions of Bust-A-Move out there, but that doesn’t take away from the first game still being a competitive 2 player barn burner!
Captain Commando was a late port job — it came out in the arcades in 1991 but didn’t make it over to the SNES until August 1995. It was odd to see that large a gap, but I’m glad Capcom did it. Captain Commando is far from perfect but something I’ve enjoyed revisiting over the years.
I went into Brandish with low expectations in 2006. I ended up loving the atmosphere, music and a more cerebral style of play. The underground labyrinths are crawling with monsters galore, from T-Rex to Death itself!
A ghoulish atmosphere, detailed visuals and a slick Super Metroid-esque style of play makes Demon’s Crest one sublime adventure.
Colorful visuals in some highly bizarre worlds with masterful sound by the one and only Tim Follin make Equinox worth checking out. A “save-almost-anywhere-you-go” system helps keep the difficulty in check as well as encourage repeated attempts to finally snag that elusive key.
Fatal Fury 2 certainly redeemed Takara in my eyes. Fatal Fury on the SNES was the absolute pits. But this one hit the mark with much better control, gameplay and even an option that lets you play as the bosses.
Some would say Final Fantasy II gets plenty of love. But there are times where it seems to get lost in the shuffle especially when people are quick to bring up the “big three” of Chrono Trigger, EarthBound and Final Fantasy III. Don’t forsake this amazing early RPG!
MOST DISAPPOINTING Fatal Fury Special
Whereas Fatal Fury 2 excelled in smooth control, Fatal Fury Special did not. It’s a shame because otherwise it holds up fine for a 32-MEG port.
Many view Donkey Kong Country 2 as the best DKC game.
Donkey Kong Country 3 is sometimes overlooked because it came out late in the SNES’ lifespan (November 1996) and wasn’t quite as epic as the first two DKC games. It’s still very, very good in its own right though.
My copy of Gunman’s Proof comes courtesy of Time Walk just mere weeks before they closed their doors. Gunman’s Proof is criminally underrated. Think a combination of Zelda, EarthBound and the wild west. It’s a Zelda clone with guns and bazookas! ‘Nuff said, really.
A spiritual sequel to Soul Blazer (which some fans prefer), I love the improved visuals and shape shifting shenanigans of Illusion of Gaia.
Not your typical SNES game filled with bright and bold colors, First Samurai is something of a quirky guilty pleasure for me. I kind of like the foreboding visuals and atmosphere. And the sound effect “OH NO! MY SWORD!” is typical of its cheesy goodness, er, mediocrity.
Final Fight 3 is the best of the SNES Final Fight trilogy. Special moves, multiple branching paths and super specials make it a treat to play. It was roasted back in early 1996 when it came out, but became one of those games people grew to appreciate only after the passage of time.
With such a lame generic name, I didn’t expect much from Fire Power 2000 back in the day. A 2 player co-op mode helped for sure, but it was the overall smooth gameplay that made this an absolute winner.
FireStriker takes the classic Pong/Arkanoid style of play and infuses it with heroes and monsters. Quite an interesting mix.
It even sports a spiffy 4 player battle mode!
Goof Troop is a fun 2 player overhead action puzzle game. Goofy and Max complement each other extremely well — Goofy is stronger while Max is faster. One of the better 2 player titles from the 16-bit generation.
Hook plays a bit on the slow side, but I love its visuals and haunting soundtrack. A whimsical atmosphere adds to its overall appeal.
The idea of playing a shrunken protagonist navigating everyday objects and environments has greatly appealed to me ever since I saw Honey, I Shrunk The Kids in 1989. Harley’s Humongous Adventure may not have the most appealing aesthetic but it is rather surprisingly decent.
MOST WANTED Hagane
It’s been over 10 years since I bought it and sadly I’ve still yet to play it. The only thing more mind blowing? I bought it back in 2006 for $5!
Just as how it was nice that shelf three ended with the three Final Fantasy games, I love how shelf four begins with the Final Fight trilogy.
A classic early SNES shooter, Gradius III is plagued by bouts of slowdown but it’s got an amazing soundtrack and that vintage Gradius gameplay.
Few companies did bosses like Konami!
Konami also makes a mean soccer game — International Superstar Soccer Deluxe is arguably the best 16-bit soccer game ever crafted.
Well, that was easy. Not only is The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past considered arguably the best Super Nintendo game of all time, but it’s also widely regarded as quite possibly the best video game ever created. It’s a timeless, quintessential adventure that never fails to leave a mark.
My all-time favorite baseball game.
WORST GAME Izzy’s Quest for the Olympic Rings DISHONORABLE MENTION King Arthur & the Knights of Justice
Ironically, these were the last two games ever reviewed by Super Play Magazine. I guess they were so bad that even Super Play had to stop and ask themselves “What are we doing with our lives?”
Sure, it’s a bit slow in places but it’s tremendously fun to throw stone tires and boomerangs at all sorts of dinosaurs, all in the name of saving your special cave lady. Best of all, you could do it with a friend.
Joe & Mac 2: Lost in the Tropics is a damn fine sequel. It refined a few things from the first game and makes for a worthy addition to any SNES library.
I didn’t expect much from Judge Dredd but was pleasantly surprised by how well it plays. Shoot, punch and kick bad guys into oblivion. Not great but good for a movie tie-in.
Capcom delivered SNES owners with two of the better beat ‘em ups in the form of King of Dragons and Knights of the Round. Now that’s how you do King Arthur justice!
When you take out the game’s best mode (the tornado tag team bedlam mode) and gut two of the six monsters, you’ve earned this “award.” King of the Monsters was as big a disappointment as the monsters themselves.
I love how the second row of this shelf begins with the Mega Man quintet. And the first row opens with both Lemmings 1 and 2.
BEST GAME Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals HONORABLE MENTION Mega Man X
From recruiting monsters to the IP system, Lufia II rocks!
X marks the spot indeed.
WORST GAME Lester the Unlikely DISHONORABLE MENTION The Mask
Lacking in self-esteem, Lester’s courage and abilities increase as you progress through the game. It sounds intriguing on paper but unfortunately it lacks in execution what Lester lacks in confidence.
To its credit, The Mask was faithful to source material and tried to be different from your typical movie licensed platformer. But its ugly animations and terrible aesthetic brings it down a notch or two.
Using three vikings’ specialized abilities to reach the stage exit, The Lost Vikings was both innovative and refreshing.
The sequel introduced Fang the wolf and Scorch the dragon. These were fairly underrated titles that got a bit lost [har har -Ed.] in the fold.
Magical Quest’s classic “take-a-block-from-the-sky-and-use-it-on-bad-guys” system, along with costumes that altered Mickey’s abilities, made it such a bloody good time.
Similar to X-Men: Mutant Apocalypse, I prefer this game due to its roster (Iron Man, Spider Man, Hulk, Captain America, Wolverine). Plus you can select any superhero for any stage whereas in X-Men: Mutant Apocalypse you couldn’t. Marvel Super Heroes: War of the Gems came out October 1996 so it’s often forgotten. Give it a shot!
Mega Man 7 divided the fanbase. His homecoming was met with mixed reviews but I find it akin to slipping on an old comfortable pair of jeans.
Michael Jordan in a platformer beating up bad guys with a basketball? That’s as crazy as him retiring from the NBA in his prime to go pursue a baseball career. Both happened, but only one turned out to be any good.
MOST WANTED Metal Warriors
Shame shield activated.
Mega Man X² was not the leap over Mega Man X like many of us hoped, but it’s a quality sequel nevertheless.
Mega Man X³ introduced Zero as a playable character. The Mega Man games are a bit like pizza. When it’s good, it’s really good. But even when it’s a bit eh, it’s still alright. Mega Man X³ falls somewhere in the middle.
Can’t go wrong with the Blue Bomber!
The SNES port of Mortal Kombat II spelled vindication and redemption. The blood and Fatalities were both retained in this second go-round, surprising the hell out of everyone back in 1994.
This shelf ends with two “Mr.” games.
The next begins with “Ms.”
Many Ninja Gaiden fans have been vocal about the mishandling of this SNES port. So vocal in fact that I almost feel guilty enjoying it as much as I do. Such a shame there was never a proper 16-bit sequel.
From a pure wrestling standpoint, NCW > Saturday Night Slam Masters.
A quietly solid top-down shooter, Operation Logic Bomb is a one man wrecking crew of a good time.
Pieces is an underrated quirky game. You wouldn’t think assembling pieces of a jigsaw puzzle to be that much fun, but it somehow is. Throw in a nifty 2 player mode and you have a surprisingly competitive affair.
Nosferatu was previewed in 1992 but didn’t come out until late 1995. With that much time you would expect a highly polished game. Instead, its broken difficulty past level 3 makes it a waste of massive potential.
MOST SURPRISING Phalanx
How did this cover get the green light?!
MOST WANTED Ninja Warriors
Man, I really need to fix this. And soon.
I like how the previous shelf ended with two “Mister” games and this one began with Ms. Pacman
Released in December 1996, Realm had a chance to be a sleeper hit. It’s a run ‘n gun featuring some nice visuals and unique creature designs. Unfortunately, the broken difficulty renders it nearly unplayable.
Power Moves was the first import I ever rented back in late 1992. Even then as kids we knew it was a bit lacking. Don’t even bother unless you’re going for a complete collection or for the sake of nostalgia.
Plok is a criminally underrated platformer where you control a strange bloke who fires his limbs at enemies, way before Rayman did it. It looks like a “kiddy game” but don’t be fooled, it’s tough as nails.
RoboTrek’s unique combat system, ability to customize robotic allies and the zany universe made it such a blast to play. Love the art style, too!
SNES fans got gypped when it came to Strider. However, Run Saber is a solid consolation prize. It’s a short, easy and fun 2 player hack ‘n slash.
Slippery control derailed this promising platformer.
MOST SURPRISING Rival Turf
For all the hate Rival Turf gets — some have called it Rival Turd — I was pleasantly surprised by how decent this turned out to be, especially for April 1992. It was the first SNES beat ‘em up to feature a 2 player mode.
MOST WANTED R-Type III
Said to be one of the best SNES shooters.
Why haven’t I played it yet?
Pocky & Rocky 2 was a worthy sequel.
Prince of Persia is an interesting little game.
Not counting the orange box of Final Fight Guy, Riddick Bowe Boxing is the only North American SNES box that doesn’t have the traditional black side. Instead it’s gray, white and red; it sticks out like a sore thumb.
Another box that stands out on this shelf is Robocop vs. Terminator. It’s the only SNES box that is a hard clamshell and has no title on the side. The game itself can be fun in a dumb, violent kind of way.
Shadowrun is a unique action RPG set in a futuristic cyberpunk world. The game opens with your character awakening from his slumber atop a cold steel slab. It hooked me right away and didn’t let go until the game’s satisfying finale. A sequel was hinted at during the end credits that we sadly never got.
Secret of Mana was an innovative action RPG that allowed 3 players to go at it. This was unheard of back in 1993. Mana may be a little overhyped in some circles but it’s still a quality adventure worth venturing through.
WORST GAME Speed Racer DISHONORABLE MENTION Spider-Man & the X-Men: Arcade’s Revenge
Speed Racer switches from side scrolling platforming to a racing game. The former is barely passable but the latter is absolutely atrocious.
Spider-Man & the X-Men: Arcade’s Revenge was way too hard and while not without some redeeming qualities (the music rocks), overall it falls shy of the mark. Not the worst game ever, though.
GUILTY PLEASURES Snow White: Happily Ever After Sporting News Baseball
Yes, I own a Snow White video game and yes, I kind of dig it. What the hell am I doing with my life?! The platforming is surprisingly competent. Just not the thing you go ’round talking about, not even on the internet
Sporting News Baseball isn’t the greatest baseball game around, but it features the iconic baseball field from my favorite film, Field of Dreams.
It’s actually pretty good.
I was just expecting a lot more.
MOST SURPRISING Street Fighter Alpha 2
Amazing what Capcom squeezed into a Super Nintendo cartridge!
MOST WANTED Star Fox
Hopefully I appreciate this in 2017 as I would have in 1993…
Some under-the-radar titles from this shelf:
While none of those titles will appear on any top 10 list, they kind of typify a good portion of the SNES catalog. Ranging from decent to very solid, while they’re not essential, they sure round out a collection nicely.
If you like your 16-bit baseball, Super Baseball 2020 is an entertaining futuristic take on the sport. For another outlandish quirky baseball title, be sure to check out Super Baseball Simulator 1.000. It’s outta this world!
[I see what you did there… -Ed.]
Looking for a more traditional baseball game? Then check out the quietly stellar Super Bases Loaded 2. A bit slow but super fun.
Ranging from pretty good to excellent, any of these games would do well to round out a strong Super Nintendo collection.
MOST DISAPPOINTING Thunder Spirits
Thunder Force III eats it for breakfast.
MOST SURPRISING Super Slap Shot
I really thought this game was going to suck but it ended up reminding me of a 16-bit version of Blades of Steel. Let me pump the brakes because I don’t want to overstate this game’s stock — but it’s surprisingly decent!
MOST WANTED Super Star Wars
Super Empire Strikes Back
Super Return of the Jedi
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away… I played the first one very briefly. It’s time I rectify this and play the other two. R.I.P. Carrie Fisher
Time Trax isn’t too shabby.
Can’t go wrong with the Top Gear trilogy.
Closest thing to Out Run on the SNES
I had an odd fetish for Top Gear 3000…
It even sports a quirky 4 player mode!
The box of EarthBound is so big it needed its own shelf!
The old man’s been kidnapped and it’s up to you to save pops. Luckily, you can turn into a werewolf as well as use a wide variety of firearms. Nothing special, but it’s enjoyable enough, especially on a rainy day.
Vladamasco is being ruled under the iron fist of the diabolical General Von Hesler. As young Spike, a junior magician and vampire in training, you must traverse many strange lands to put an end to Von Hesler’s wicked ways. Attack with your trusty cape and hat (which can be upgraded) in this short but sweet action RPG. It can be beaten in three measly hours, but what fun you’ll have!
Worthy of the Arnold name, True Lies is barbaric and one of the best 16-bit movie licensed games. Few SNES games can match its sheer brutality.
U.N. Squadron is loads of fun.
I’ve always found the SNES port of World Heroes to be underrated and faithful. Easy to pull off combos, vibrant visuals and those oh-so-vicious Death Matches make this one a winner in my book. Besides, where else can you knock someone into burning ropes?
16 fighters, 24 megs and 32 fists (plus a sword and bearded axe) to contend with, World Heroes 2 is everything a sequel should be: bigger and better. The home port adds in a speed option and the ability to play as the two bosses, bringing the count to a whopping 16. Only Super Street Fighter II had as many at that time. Truly an unsung hero. Pun intended.
MOST DISAPPOINTING Total Carnage
Total Carnage is a semi-sequel to Super Smash TV that fails to recapture the magic of the original. This is further exacerbated by a somewhat shoddy home port.
I saw Wolfenstein at a friend’s house in 1992 but my first time ever playing it was with the Super Nintendo in early 1994. And I freaking loved it. I was surprised by how smoothly it ran, relatively speaking of course. In my book, it stands as a stunning, underrated achievement.
MOST WANTED Ys III: Wanderers From Ys
It will be my first Ys game!
Tuff E Nuff is kind of odd, from the energy bar placement to the title printed on the box, which reads in full: Hey Punk! Are You Tuff E Nuff? It’s fairly decent for a homegrown SNES fighter, however.
Speaking of homegrown fighters, WeaponLord is very deep.
Super Nintendo games represent a sweet spot in gaming for me. It was during a time where games weren’t overly simplistic yet they weren’t yet too complicated, either. It just strikes that happy medium for me. I also find that many SNES games have aged extremely well. Many are as playable and as enjoyable today as they were 20, 25 years ago. It’s a true testament to the timeless quality that many of these games exude.
One of my favorite things to do is come home on a Friday night after a long grueling work week, head to the game room and finally playing that one game that I’ve been wondering about ever since the ’90s. Finding the game on the shelf, opening it up, reading through the color manual, and popping it in to at long last quell a 20+ year curiosity. One guy said it best years ago when he said “It feels like I’m fulfilling my childhood dreams.” Aside from your SNES classics and gems, I find there are also over 100 games that are perfectly playable and enjoyable. Maybe they’re nothing to write home about necessarily, but they can certainly entertain you for a weekend or two. I own over 400 boxed Super Nintendo games and I’d say only a small handful of them are bad. It really blows my mind how deep the SNES library is. It’s probably why I find myself coming back to the system time after time. It’s been a great journey these past 10 years!
Released in early 1991, Street Fighter II would forever change the course of gaming history. Sweeping coast to coast like a blistering tornado, swooping up everyone ruthlessly in its path, Street Fighter II took the video game world by storm. Gamers cutting classes, thousands of quarters disposed and endless lines — it was all just another day at the office for Capcom’s epochal once in a generation masterpiece. It was more than just a game; it was a phenomenon. Street Fighter II became a way of life for many. Never before did a game offer the endless combinations that Street Fighter II presented. In every pizza parlor, arcade hall, 7-11 — anywhere you could imagine — there was bound to be a Street Fighter II arcade cab with a line of eager players not far behind. Capcom had truly created a monster.
Then came the murmurs. If you put your ear low to the ground, you could hear the rumblings. Capcom was porting their money maker over to the Super Nintendo. The thought of being able to play the game in the comfort of your living room with no lines, no sticky buttons and no quarters? It was every kid’s dream come true in early 1992. That summer we got our wish when Street Fighter II made its home debut with a splash. Capcom pulled out all the stops, making this the first 16 MEG monster on the SNES. It was a glorious summer, indeed.
Eight warriors spanning the globe, each with their own special moves, six buttons of varying speed and strength, unique quarter motions requiring some degree of skill, combos… Capcom caught lightning in a bottle.
Anyone who was a gamer and involved in the arcade scene back in the early ’90s has a story about Street Fighter II. This is mine…
My dad drove me, my brother Kevin and his friends to a 7-11 one hot summer day. We were going to pick up some chips and slurpees to enjoy on this scorching summer day. Inside was a Street Fighter II cab, naturally. One of my brother’s friends, Mike, challenged me to a duel right there in the store. Ahh, Mike was a classic dude. He was a burly 10 year old cocky punk who acted tougher than he really was. I selected Dhalsim because I was always drawn to underdogs and “freaks.” Mike was trash talking even before the match began. I wasn’t yet skilled enough to pull off a special move, hell, I didn’t even know how! But on that day it didn’t matter, for you see, Mike had no answer for Dhalsim’s long limbs. I ended up perfecting him two rounds in a row! It was the upset of the decade! My seven and a half year old self couldn’t believe it, and neither could Mike, who just stood there completely in shock.
My brother and Mike’s other friend were jumping around going “OHHHH!!!” I became the man of the hour, and Mike was never going to live this moment down, ever. I knew then and there Street Fighter II was no ordinary game. It’s a memory that’s never left me. The moment cemented me as a Dhalsim and Street Fighter II fan for life. And to this day, whenever I happen to step inside a 7-11 to pick up a cold drink on a hot summer day, I can’t help but think back to that moment in time.
My bro, his friends and I used to frequent a local card shop, TRIPLE PLAY, on a biweekly basis. My bro would get 2 bucks to spend, and I’d get a dollar from my dad. I always spent that dollar on a Marvel 1991 trading card pack. My brother would as well, and then he’d use his last remaining dollar on the Street Fighter II cab. Kevin would occasionally spare me a quarter (what a great older brother, eh?) but most of the times I just stood by, happily checking out my new Marvel cards while keeping an eye on the older kids trading fireballs and fists.
However, as great as those titles were and as much as they contributed to the ascension of the Super Nintendo, to me it was Street Fighter II that truly etched the system’s greatness in granite.
On a hot summer night in 1992, my brother and mom left to Sears Funtronics with one simple mission in mind: secure and bring home the hottest 16-bit video game. I stayed back and time seemed to slow down to a crawl. The seconds felt like minutes. The minutes felt like hours. Fight fever had officially taken over. When my bro finally made it back with Street Fighter II in hand, I’m pretty sure all my neighbors could hear our cries of joy. It was yet another moment in time of being nine years old, growing up in suburbia and experiencing the best era of video gaming.
Right off the bat we noticed the little intro was missing, but honestly, we didn’t really care. It still felt like we had the arcade in our living room! Or at the very least, a strong slice of the arcade. And at that time, July 1992, that was more than enough to leave a lasting imprint on all of us.
THE WORLD WARRIORS
RYU DOB: 7.21.64 5’10” 150 lbs
The main character of the franchise, Ryu became the face of fighting games. A master of the Shotokan martial art, Ryu lives for the fight and only the fight. While some may consider him to be a little bland, there’s no denying he’s an iconic character who holds claim to some of the most legendary special moves in all of fighting game history.
Duke it out on the dojo rooftop. Only the privileged few have ever step foot here. And you were lucky to leave the dojo on your own two feet!
Ah, the Hadoken fireball. Arguably the most iconic move in fighting game history, you just can’t beat a good old Hadoken.
The classic Hurricane Kick.
The double axe kick is a good way to polish off combos. It does a fair amount of damage. Your victim even vomits, which was always a fun sight gag.
SHO-RYU-KEN! The Dragon Punch, much like Ryu himself, has often been imitated but so rarely duplicated.
KEN DOB: 2.14.65 5’10” 169 lbs
Friend and foe of Ryu’s, Ken is the more flamboyant of the two. He knows every move that Ryu knows. But unlike Ryu, Ken believes there is more to life than just the fight. In battle he is often times reckless and has a higher propensity to show off. Will arrogance be Ken’s ultimate undoing?
Ken loves having an audience, and this boat provides him with just that. Storage barrels line the battle field and break if hit violently.
Ken’s Hurricane Kick packs a wallop when administered in succession.
“ARE YOU KEN!?” Wait, no, I’M Ken…
Ken and Ryu are virtually identical in Street Fighter II, except Ken’s kick throw sees him tumbling his victim through the air like a circus act. Yup, Ken was always the showoff.
E. HONDA DOB: 11.3.60 6’2″ 304 lbs
Edmond Honda entered the World Warrior tournament to prove the legitimacy of sumo wrestling to an unbelieving world. A winner of the “Yokozuna” title, E. Honda also holds claim to having the fastest hands known to mankind. He’s more agile than he looks, reminding one to never judge a book by its cover.
A well-polished ring is kept ready for combat whether sumo or street fighting. He forbids spectators as Honda isn’t about spectacle but rather the pure uninterrupted spirit of true competition. Honda likes cooling off in his hot tub between battles.
His double knee inflicts a good amount of damage. It’s like being whacked by a tree limb!
BLANKA DOB: 2.12.66 6’5″ 218 lbs
For years natives have reported seeing something strange roaming deep within the rain forest. Although the stories vary, a few things remain consistent. This half man, half beast is incredibly fast, savage and as green as the rain forest itself. The creature became something of a “Brazilian Boogeyman.” The local government refused to acknowledge it and even ordered a media black out. That didn’t stop certain vigilantes however from setting up camp and trying to snap a shot of the wild beast. After years of murmurs and rumors, the creature known as Blanka emerged out of the shadows to win the great Street Fighter II tournament.
After hiding in seclusion for years in the Brazilian rain forest, Blanka is now ready to take on the world. The natives are shocked to see the beast in the light of day and snap photos to prove that their eyes aren’t deceiving them. Imagine if this game were made in 2010. Those old cameras would be replaced with iPhones recording the action!
We get a hint of blood with Blanka’s face bite. Nintendo of America was very sensitive with blood back in those early days, so mad respect to Capcom for being able to sneak in as much as they did.
Double Knee Smasher!
Momma always said use your noggin.
GUILE DOB: 12.23.60 6’1″ 191 lbs
During a special mission in Thailand, Guile and his best pal Charlie were captured by a tyrant named M. Bison. Charlie was murdered at the hands of M. Bison, and ever since then Guile has been out for blood. Using a unique blend of Special Forces training and street fighting skills, Guile is one of the most beloved characters of all time. Although Ryu and Ken were the faces of the game, Guile was always that cool alternative protagonist. He had the looks, the moves and who could ever forget his epic stage music?
His comrades cheer him on to victory. Wooden boxes shatter like a Spanish announcer table at a WWE event.
Guile’s Sonic Boom is nearly just as iconic as the Hadoken itself. In some ways, I even prefer it to the Hadoken. Remember the jab version being so slow that in some cases you could follow it up with a well timed backfist? Super satisfying.
If at first you don’t succeed…
CHUN LI DOB: 3.1.68 5’8″ Never ask a lady her weight!
The so-called “Strongest Woman in the World” entered the tournament in hopes of avenging her father’s death, whose death she believes is on the head of a mysterious crime lord known only as M. Bison. Her obsession with vengeance fuels her every move, but will her burning passion for blood lust be her downfall? It’s a razor thin line; I wouldn’t want to get in her way! And between Guile and Chun Li, M. Bison better have eyes in the back of his head…
In a quaint Chinese village there lies a small but bustling marketplace. As a customary form of travel, many folks leisurely pass by on bicycles. Meanwhile, a man in the background is busy preparing a chicken to be sold to customers. It’s just another hard day’s work to make ends meet.
ZANGIEF DOB: 6.1.56 7’0″ 256 lbs
The strongest man in the tournament, this Russian wrestler fights bears for fun. And that’s really all you need to know. Zangief is not very user friendly — only the most advanced Street Fighter II players will be able to use him effectively. Man of a thousand holds, he owns the most devastating move in the game: the Spinning Piledriver! Pretty much every fighting game that came after this had a strong man with a similar big move. In that regard, like him or not, Zangief was something of a trailblazer.
Zangief works long hours six days a week at this industrial factory in Mother Russia. During his break, as a way to entertain himself, he takes on all comers. His comrades cheer on from the sidelines.
The Spinning Piledriver is the hardest move to execute, but it also dishes out the most damage.
Ahhh, the first fighter I ever picked. Dhalsim and I bonded from day one. He’s incredibly flexible and has the ability to stretch his limbs to attack opponents from a distance. This makes him a formidable foe not to be taken lightly, despite his lack of speed. Over the course of his long life Dhalsim has sought to unify his mind, body and soul through the discipline of Yoga. Through his meditation he’s able to spew fire from deep within. He makes for quite the hit at summer BBQs!
Dhalsim loves to meditate inside this indoor temple and stretch [Really? -Ed.] to gear up for battle. He’s proud of the rich wall tapestry and finely crafted architecture that represents his heritage.
The Yoga Noogie is an alternative option to Dhalsim’s regular throw. Instead of forward + fierce you press toward + medium. I liked how the game gave you two options for Dhalsim (and a few others, such as Honda and Guile). Besides, what’s better than pounding on someone’s skull so hard that they’re forced to do squats?
Up close Dhalsim is not the best striker, but this double headbutt is a notable hit. It’s similar to Blanka’s double headbutt, but it’s much stronger and I love the sound effect it makes. You can really feel the power of Dhalsim’s cranium.
The Yoga Fire was always one of my favorite fireballs in all of fighting games. Because it’s literally just that. A fireball! Plus it looks so simple and it actually sets your opponent on fire if they fail to block it. It made Dhalsim extra cool in my book that he was the only fighter who could produce this animation.
Bison tossing off his cape right before the battle begins was so badass.
STREET FIGHTER II: THE SILLY WARRIOR
While strikes and special moves are nice, they don’t mean nearly as much as when they’re linked together. Two-in-ones and combos are the heartbeat of true masterchampions.
COMBO TIPS AND STRATEGIES
My brother and I even bought the GamePro Street Fighter II Strategy Guide back in 1992. It was the first guide we ever bought, and to this day it remains my favorite guide of all time. I wasn’t a huge fan of GamePro Magazine, but this guide was awesome. Over 2,000 full color screenshots and combos galore.
Standing roundhouse (double hit)
63% (!!!) damage
Here’s the classic roundhouse fireball “trap.”
Throw a fireball of any speed. When they jump, knock them out of the sky with a roundhouse kick!
You can harass opponents by throwing a jab fireball and then quickly executing a ducking fierce for an easy, almost unavoidable hit!
Finish the game on levels 0-2 and you’ll be asked to challenge a harder level.
Levels 3-5 earns you your character’s ending.
Level 6 or 7 will display the credits. You also get to watch your favorite world warriors mix it up in a demo mode.
And should you not lose one round on level 7, then you can press start to make Chun Li say “Yatta!” (Japanese for I did it).
Let’s take a look at some of the endings.
“Oh, you’re getting married? Then prepare to be like me. You’ll be choking the chicken night and day, sir…”
Wait, what just happened? Uh, let’s just move on…
The pages (and covers) of EGM were dominated by Capcom’s 2D juggernaut. Every month there was page after page of coverage. Overkill? Quite possibly, but as EGM once wrote in an editorial, you go with what sells. And did Street Fighter II on the SNES sell or what! Sales for the first week set new records. Nearly everyone and their brother were drunk with Street Fighter II fever.
Soon thereafter came the clones. Many other companies started putting out their own fighting games in hopes of capturing lightning in a bottle and get their own slice of the pie. The years 1992-1994 were absolutely inundated by fighting games, and it was considered the “fighting game golden age.” I remember fondly a time where each time you visited the arcades, it felt like there was a new fighting game that popped up overnight like a pimple on prom night. It was an exciting and wild time if you loved fighting games as much as I did. But of course, very few came close to even sniffing the jock strap of Street Fighter II.
Here’s an excerpt from EGM’s September 1992 Insert Coin that captures that time frame in a nutshell quite well.
THE STREET FIGHTER II PHENOMENON
OK, by now virtually everybody in the country has the mega-hot Street Fighter II. Judging by the hundreds of letters we have already received, player satisfaction with this prime cart is at an all-time high. The impact of this game goes beyond just the software sales. Based on the letters we have received, literally thousands have bought Super Nintendos just to play this. SNK has just brought out a huge 87 meg fighting game called World Heroes, and we see no end in sight. How long will Street Fighter II stay popular? Most likely through the holidays. Or maybe forever. All in all, a big tip of the hat has to go to Capcom for all of the work they did in creating this phenomenon. This could be the Game of the Year!
EGM CREATES AN INTERNATIONAL MONSTER
EGM ran a joke in their April 1992 issue about how to fight a mysterious character named Sheng Long. Many thought this to be real including Hong Kong publication JADEMAN COMICS, who ended up printing the fake code. It later made its way to England’s GAME ZONE, who not only printed the code but updated it to supposedly work on the SNES port! Talk about lack of research…
The infamous Sheng Long April Fools joke became something of a legend and even infiltrated its way into Street Fighter II lore. EGM would go on to conduct annual April Fools jokes as a reader contest, but they never could quite recapture the magic like they had with the Sheng Long gag.
Check out this blurb from Super Play:
WHAT THE CRITICS SAID
EGM: 10, 10, 9, 9 (won EGM’s 1992 Game of the Year)
GameFan: 100, 99, 97, 95, 88%
Super Play: 94%
Street Fighter II was a happening. When it hit arcade scenes in early 1991 it changed the way we viewed video games. Sure, fighting games had existed before but it wasn’t until Street Fighter II that fighting games became a staple of the video gaming fabric. It spawned numerous clones, some of which were forgettable but a few became heavy fan favorites, and it was thanks to Street Fighter II for largely paving the way. The Super Nintendo port, while far from perfect, sure felt close to perfect back in the summer of ’92 when it originally came out. It was the first game that made me feel like we could finally play arcade games at home. Final Fight did a decent job of that, but there were too many blatant sacrifices. With Street Fighter II, however, it was a glimpse into the future that home systems were now JUST powerful enough to faithfully capture the spirit and essence of an arcade game. Moreover, I just remember the summer and fall of 1992 being dominated by SNES Street Fighter II, blistered thumbs and bruised egos. My friends and I played it to death — it was truly THE game to have back in those days.
Sure, there are far superior ports of Street Fighter II available today, and many do view the Super Nintendo port as obsolete and nothing but a nostalgic remembrance. Call me crazy but I still occasionally play this game and I’ll be damned if I don’t still love it. Even to this day, I find myself impressed by the port, knowing what they were able to squeeze into a Super Nintendo cartridge. Yeah it has the slow speed of the arcade original, and yeah it’s technically imperfect, but as a Super Nintendo game released in July of 1992, it was nothing short of a beast.
I feel very lucky that when the Street Fighter craze went down I was young enough to be awestruck yet just old enough to appreciate the magnitude of the event. Capcom hit lightning in a bottle, sparking a cross-cultural phenomenon. For every Hadoken shot around the world, every Dragon Punch, and for every Flash Kick, the Street Fighter legacy rocks on.
Hats off to you, Capcom. We’ll never forget the memories of that special time in video gaming when fighting games were all the rage. A time when going to the arcades was the highlight of your week and everyone, truly, was kung fu fighting. No matter how old we shall grow, we’ll always remember those halcyon times and cherish those good old days forever.
It’s early Christmas morning as I write this, and believe it or not, this game will forever be connected to Christmas. 24 years ago, in late December of 1992, my mom bought me King of the Monsters on the Super Nintendo. It was the first game she ever bought for me without first conferring with my brother. And it took something of a Christmas miracle to pull it off, so you can see my nostalgic desire to write about this game on this day. Sure, the SNES port was butchered. But the memories of this game live on to this very day. It was not only the first SNES game my mom ever bought for me but it was also one of the earliest arcade games I can remember experiencing. In fact, I remember it as if it only happened yesterday… *cue fuzzy flashback sequence*
***SOME TIME IN MID 1991***
The 2nd* arcade game I can remember playing was at Safeway with my brother, Kevin. It was like any other typical Tuesday night in the old neighborhood. The year was 1991. My bro and I tagged along with our dad to the local grocery store, doing our best to convince pops to buy us those delicious dinosaur fruit snacks. And if we were lucky, the WWF ice cream bars as well. We would be ecstatic if pops caved in to even just one of them. On this trip, no such luck however. We made our way to the end of a very long line. Kevin and I weren’t exactly the best behaved kids in the history of kids. Neither of us could stand still to save our lives. Unknowingly, it was a cunning strategy, for we spotted an arcade cab nearby in the corner where they sell the coal. Pops was more than happy to oblige, plopping two quarters in our hands, in exchange for a few minutes of peace and quiet. Off to the races we disappeared like two chalky ghosts in the night.
*The first arcade game I played was Street Fighter II.
When we arrived at the cab, I gazed up in amazement like it were the Sistine Chapel. What an amazing sight the Neo Geo MVS cab truly was. These were machines that housed four different SNK arcade games. I remember seeing Sengoku, a side scrolling beat ‘em up. But when I saw King of the Monsters for the first time ever, I knew I had found my match. It pitted six giant monsters against one another in a duel to the death. My brother and I were instantly sold. He picked the Ultraman clone, Astro Guy, while I chose the Godzilla lookalike, Geon. We played the tag team bedlam mode, which allowed me and my brother to team up simultaneously to rampage against two computer foes. Being an avid fan of Godzilla and monsters, I found myself enamored. My brother and I couldn’t shut up about it on the car ride home. That night I fell in love with King of the Monsters.
December 1991. My parents took me and my brother to our favorite place, Chuck E. Cheese’s, to celebrate the end of the year. My mother was rather strict so these rare opportunities where she allowed us to binge on our desires were not taken for granted! They ordered two large pizzas and got us 50 tokens. I knew where I was going to be for the rest of that night — at the King of the Monsters cab determined to beat it! It took me some time and way too many quarters to count but at last I did it, all while my mom sat back at the table eating unwanted leftover pizza crust and watching the whole thing go down.
I stepped back, drenched in sweat from wrestling with the joypad, and stared back at my mom who sat there smiling. I looked back at the arcade to watch the ending. My boy Rocky destroyed the news studio as a wide grin formed on my kisser. I recall thinking to myself, “I can’t wait for this to come home on the SNES!”
My mom and I used to go to the mall all the time. It was one of our traditions. She took me after school every Friday, rain or shine. I loved it because this was a time in life when the world was a different place. Even as young as 8, my mom allowed me to hit up my stores while she went shopping for clothes. This gave me a great sense of independence and for about 30 minutes I was on my own completely! I always visited Suncoast, Kay Bee Toys, Walden Books, Sam Goody, and of course, the classic SOFTWARE ETC.
Now rarely did she ever end up buying me anything once we reconvened, but that was never the point. It was fun enough thumbing through books, EGM magazines and drooling at the various action figures. It was the feeling that it produced. Just knowing you were on your own for half an hour made going to the mall a fun time. But the best times always came during Christmas season.
The mall Santa was there taking pictures, kissing babies and shaking little hands. At nine and a half years old now, I was too old for that stuff, but not old enough to not still believe in the magic of Christmas. So instead of sitting on Santa’s lap, I simply sat back from afar to admire what had been, and what once was.
My mom came over asking if I wanted to meet the mall Santa, but I told her I was too old. She looked at the kids rushing up to Santa just 20 feet away from us, lost in her thoughts. Somewhere in her aging face I saw her loosen up, as if she suddenly missed the days when I was that young scampering around. Perhaps it was the right kind of Christmas magic I’d need for what was about to transpire on that most magical December evening…
There it was, plastered in big and bold blue letters. I always made it a point to hit up SOFTWARE ETC. each time we visited the mall. Of course, I could only dream of my mom complying to buy me a video game. Still, like a moth to flame, those bold blue letters always sucked me in. I stood there that evening in sheer awe of the endless shelves of SNES goodies — games in which I could only dream of owning. And then, there it was. High on the shelf I saw it, shining like a beacon of light. KING OF THE MONSTERS for the Super Nintendo! It was just one short year ago that I’d beaten the arcade and thought to myself, “Man, I can’t wait for this to come home!” And now, it finally has. Only one problem, of course. How can I convince mom to buy it? Standing there, staring at the pristine shiny King of the Monsters box, my mind desperately raced through everything I could think of in order to weigh the odds in my favor.
I didn’t have very long to think…
“C’mon honey, we gotta get back home now.”
“What is it?”
“That…” I pointed to the King of the Monsters box sitting on the top shelf. “I want that.”
OK, so much for poetic language and convincing arguments.
My mom gave me “the look.” Uh oh. In the history of “momkind” the look has never been good news. Whether it was a look of frustration, disappointment or disgust, the look has denied kids an untold number of desserts, toys and video games. This task, I could tell, was going to be about as easy as Quantum Physics.
“Honey, that’s fifty five dollars.”
“No, it’s fifty four ninety nine!” I quickly countered. HA! I thought I had her — ahh, the bliss of being nine years old…
“Well actually with tax it’s about sixty,” she corrected.
Well DAMN. Talk about backfiring!
And then, out of nowhere, it hit me. My trump card. I explained to her how it was my favorite game, how I had to have it, and how much joy it would bring Kevin and me. And that if she bought it, it would count for not only my Christmas gift but also my birthday as well.
My mom grabbed the box to examine it closer. “Hey, isn’t this the game you played all night last year at Chuck E. Cheese’s? Is this the same one?”
I nodded furiously and watched as my mom bit her lower lip, contemplating what to do. Finally, after what seemed like forever, she took the game to the counter. I stood there in awe watching as they swiped her credit card. It was the first video game she bought for me. Outside I could hear the chattering of youngsters and the HO-HO-HOs of the mall Santa. The Christmas season was ringing in full force, and this bit of Christmas magic only punctuated the moment. I couldn’t wait to get home and play it…
NOT QUITE THE KING…
Right away we noticed there was no Player 1 and Player 2 vs. CPU 1 and CPU 2 option. In other words, there was no tornado tag team mode — hands down the best thing about the game.
The HELL?! What gives? Where was the King Kong wannabe, Woo? And what about the Smog Monster AKA Hedorah, where was his twin, Poison Ghost? So not only did Genki scrub the best mode of the game, but they also scrapped two of the six monsters. Man, was I disappointed.
But you know the funny thing? I was a kid and even I knew it was a pretty butchered port, but there was a big part of me that somehow managed to still enjoy it quite a bit. It was weird. So much of the game had been gutted, but it was still King of the Monsters in my living room. And, at the time, that accounted for something.
NOT JUST FLAVOR OF THE MONTH
In the early part of 1993, my mom took me to places like ROSS. I remember one time I brought the King of the Monsters manual with me. I walked up and down those aisles with my head buried in the booklet. As mediocre as the port was, I kind of became oddly semi-obsessed with it. Well, at least my mom got her sixty dollars’ worth, eh?
THE STORY GOES…
GEON Special Attack: FLAME CRUSHER
When an ice glacier melted due to the abnormal warm weather in the Russian mountains, it unleashed the horror that is Geon. Unhappy to be roused from his deep slumber, he takes it out on anybody, or anything, that gets in his way. His hobbies include destroying cities and gobbling trains. The first character I selected, I have a soft spot for ol’ Geon. I tend to use him the most — his level 3 FLAME CRUSHER is quite a sight to behold.
ROCKY Special Attack: ROCKY BOMBER
No one knows for sure where this mountain of rocks comes from. Rumor has it Rocky is a monster evolved from the Sphinx, Egypt’s God of Protection. Others believe he descended from the stars, angry with the way 20th century mankind has mistreated the environment. But one thing is for sure, he’s got a nasty disposition! Don’t let this pile of stone fool you — how Rocky can move so well is a mystery. I like Rocky. He has a cool roar and was the monster I used to beat the arcade game 25 years ago. Guess we been through a lot over the years, eh, Rocko?
Delivers one hell of a running clothesline. Any wrestling fan would approve!
BEETLE MANIA Special Attack: BEETLE MISSILE
An ordinary beetle residing in the Amazon, one fateful evening that all changed when the mad creature underwent a horrific and mysterious transformation. Lacking any kind of intelligence, he destroyed even the forest in which he was born! However, his skills are plenty. With a hard body shell and tremendous fighting spirit, Beetle Mania now roams the earth in search for the next great fight. Unfortunately it comes at the expense of civilization as we know it!
Beetle Mania was clearly based off Godzilla’s 1973 nemesis, Megalon. Like many others in the Godzilla universe, I too am a fan of the “one hit bug wonder.” It’s too bad he wasn’t resurrected for Godzilla: Final Wars like how his battle mate Gigan was, but I digress. I always found Megalon’s suit really cool.
ASTRO GUY Special Attack: FLASH WAVE
Holding the distinct claim of being the only, uh, human, to a certain degree you understand, Astro Guy originally started out as a mad scientist. Naturally, through experimentation he transformed himself into a super musclebound creature to fight the monsters suddenly appearing all over the world. What began as noble intentions to protect cities and rid the world of monsters was soon corrupted by the absolute allure of having no equal. Now what his true intentions are is anyone’s guess…
Obviously inspired by SPECTREMAN! Ah, the tin wonder played a role in my childhood. I remember how bulky the cases were for the Spectreman tapes. It really caught your eye on the video store shelf. My dad bought me the one where he battles both an Alien and the “Monster Hedgehog.”
The theme song was the best part
In a flash, like a flame, faster than a plane, a mystery with a name,
Power from space, he’ll save the human race, yet, they’ll never know the face of Spectreman!
We will never know the source of his powers and his force as he guides this planet’s course…
You battle each monster twice. In the arcade this meant a grueling 12 rounds. At home it’s a much more manageable 8. And this is the only time I’m happy to see four monsters instead of the full six. Stage 1 is home to Geon, but since we’ve seen it already (see the screenshots above), let us jump straight to stage 2 where we take on Rocky.
As a kid I thought the stages were randomly constructed. Years later I came to realize they’re based on real life landmarks. Nice.
Yes, some of these towering skyscrapers can be seen, and destroyed, in the two Osaka stages. With Okayama having no tall buildings really, switching over then to Osaka was a very welcome sight.
“Alright gentlemen. We went over the rules in the back but just to reiterate, I want a good clean fight, alright? That means no zapping below the belt. Remember, I’m fair but firm. Let’s touch gloves!”
Monsters love to play hide and seek too, apparently. Or hide and maul, as it were.
Nothing was better than hitting a big move on your opponent and watching the poor hapless sap go crashing through one of the big monuments scattered about. Sure, you can demolish the big buildings with three punches yourself, but the real fun comes in the form of sending your rival through one!
Adding insult to injury was always fun.
The classic GET UP severed hand remains. Continue and experience a jolt of power as your monster gets resurrected.
THE END ?
UNH, JUST THROW IT ON ME, UNH!
Hit them with the strongest move in the game — the german suplex.
“What’s so cheap about this?”
For some ridiculous reason, this move leads to a re-dizzy. You can repeat this tactic 20 times in a row. No joke. Did someone not play test this thing? One might be thinking, “Well it must be pretty hard to dizzy them, right?” Not so. A few consecutive throws with their health bar on low does the trick. They get up in a daze, go behind them and press Y. Boom, german suplex. Then wait for them to get back up in a daze yet again, and repeat. For ultimate damage, while they’re on laying on the ground, unleash your special attack. Sometimes you can nail them twice with your projectile. Yikes.
The german suplex can also be applied in front during a grapple by pressing Y+B. But when your opponent is dizzy, simply pressing Y or B from behind works.
But hold on a second, if you thought THAT was cheap…
There’s only one answer to this, besides your opponent mistiming it. The Japanese military finally notches a small victory against giant rubber suited monsters!
Hey thanks, Genki. Appreciate it. I hope you’re not just sucking up…
Genki dude:Of course not… oh, here’s some fruitcake — for you!
Genki dude:Uh the holidays, sir.
Ahhh. Si, si…
Feel like it’s Jet Jaguar vs. Megalon all over again! Hmmm, come to think of it, seeing Godzilla and his buddies in a King of the Monsters universe would have been pretty cool. Imagine Godzilla and company in this style of game. I’m sure we would have ate it up! Well, at least we got Godzilla: Kaijuu Daikessen.
Rocky’s bite animation always reminded me of the robot bloke on the NES Mega Man 3 cover! You see the resemblance, don’t cha?
Credit this wonderful art here to Nathan Newell and his excellent cool site nathansmuscleblog.blogspot.com/
That’s Black Hole Sunshine vs. Wood Beetle for the record, but damn do Rocky and Beetle Mania look like them!
WHAT THE CRITICS SAID
It was all quiet on the western front. The game was released just before GameFan’s time and EGM only ran a quick one page preview. They ended up never reviewing it. Super Play rated it 79% though an actual review never appeared in the magazine. SNES King of the Monsters just never got much publicity. If only it did then maybe I wouldn’t have been so caught off guard with all the cuts!
GENESIS VS. SNES VERSIONS
Which port is better? I’ve never played the Genesis port but it does look damn impressive. Looks much more identical to its arcade brother than the SNES port does. How it plays though I have no idea. Released about one year after the SNES port, the tag team mode and two monsters are still missing, but everything else looks to be pretty good. Check the graphical differences between the Genesis and SNES ports below.
GameFan gave the Genesis port some good loving with scores of 89, 87, 83 and 82%. “It blows the doors off the SNES version” and “makes it look like dog meat” were some of the comments recorded. The Genesis port was developed by SPS.
The arcade original was released by SNK in Japan on February 25, 1991. By freak accident, exactly 15 years later, I bought the SNES port (for the second time but this time with my own money). Back in ’92 I recall having a strange fascination with the port despite my knowledge of how butchered it was. Replaying the SNES port in 2006, I wondered how much my opinion might change or not. Turns out not much has. It’s a port that was stripped of its best feature and a whopping 33% of its original cast. It should have been so much better, but what remains is kind of still King of the Monsters. It was never a perfect game to begin with. Some key aspects missing definitely accentuate the flaws but what’s left isn’t unplayable by any means. You just have to take it for what it is, or simply leave it. Still, I couldn’t help but enjoy playing it for 15-20 minutes. Perhaps if nothing else but for the nostalgia of that unforgettable Christmas 1992 season. I acknowledge this game is ho-hum at best, but it is admittedly something of a guilty pleasure for me.
The graphics are the best part of this game. Though grainy and lacking intricate detail in the monsters themselves, the cities look pretty fantastic, especially the ones at night. Each stage gives you plenty of space to roam within the confines of two electrical barriers. Sound and music is decent, fitting for this game which has a Japanese 1960’s B-Movie feel to it. Sadly, it’s the game play that abandons it. What could have been! First, the grapple system. Is it based on timing? No. Button mashing? Not that either. Nope, it appears that the victor is totally random. And thus, grappling is a wash and never feels wholly satisfying. Secondly, to win a match you must score a 3 count on your rival. But in order to do so, you must pin them multiple times after their health bar has been fully depleted. Let’s say you pound on Rocky for three minutes solid once his energy bar has hit zero before going for the cover. He’ll still kick out at 2 (in John Cena fashion). What gives? It makes no sense to have to pin them several times every single time. It’s rigged to be like this, and it feels incredibly cheap. You should be rewarded for kicking the snot out of them, but you’re not. And then you have the two erroneous gameplay tricks as documented earlier, in addition to the missing tornado tag team mode and monsters.
Speaking of the monsters, and this by the way was prevalent in the arcade game as well, the monsters are exactly the same! Well, aside from their special move and rushing attack. No differences in strength, speed, agility, or any of that good stuff. The moveset is severely limited — you’re relegated to a throw, german suplex, pile driver and a bear hug or a bite hold in a grapple. How cool would it be if the monsters had their own unique moves, to go along with speed and strength differences?
Yet despite all these glaring flaws, I still kind of like the game in some small ways. Call it nostalgia, call it what you want, but there are some games you just have a connection with (for better or for worse). Though they’re far from being great, or even good, you still play them once in a blue moon because in some strange and small way you enjoy doing so. We all have a few games for which that rings true. Nobody can say exactly why someone would like it, except for that person, and that person alone. Yeah, part of me is still annoyed that Woo and Poison Ghost are nowhere to be found and that the tag mode was scrapped, but like a good longtime friend you accept them for who they are, warts and all.
Are you a sadistic and bloodthirsty game player? Do you enjoy partaking in the odd boisterous barbaric brutality? If you answered yes, then you sir probably enjoy the classic beat ‘em up genre. The SNES is loaded with them. Take control of the Lee brothers, the Battletoads, ninjas, knights, hell, even Batman! Final Fight was the very first to hit the SNES and helped pave the way for others to come. It’s hard to believe it’s now been over 25 years since it came out. It’s amazing how so many of our childhood favorites have been celebrating 20, 25 and even 30 year anniversaries in the past year or so. These games keep getting older, but our memories remain!
By the way, talk about a funky box art. I imagine their dialogue like this:
“Are those skull earrings?”
“Why yes, Mommy got me them.”
“Cool, I have a pair just like that at home.”
“Yeah ain’t they great. They accentuate my scar!”
THE FIGHT BEGINS
Final Fight originated as an arcade in Japan (December 1989) and shortly made its way to the US at the turn of the 1990s. No, it wasn’t the first beat ‘em up ever, but it was one of the earliest and the first to hit the Super Nintendo. It will forever hold that distinction as #1… but is it truly number one, as in the best?
Let us take a closer look then…
FINAL FRIGHT: A HAUNTING TO REMEMBER
Not only was Final Fight the first beat ‘em up to hit the Super Nintendo, it also happened to be the second SNES game I had ever played. Way back in December 1991 on a cold and dreary morning while vacationing in beautiful Lake Tahoe. As documented in F-Zero, the first SNES game I ever played, I found myself home alone on a Sunday morning in a huge cabin that my family rented out. My family and friends left for breakfast while I was still asleep. My mom didn’t want to wake me up after a long night of hanging out with the guys so she decided to let me sleep in. The moment I woke up, I felt a chill and knew something wasn’t right. The cabin was right out of a horror movie, with demonic looking hallways and weird noises hissing everywhere as though it were a real breathing entity. The cabin was freezing too! I crept downstairs and found a note from my mom explaining why she let me sleep in, and telling me to make some Honey Nut Cheerios. But food was the last thing on my mind!
Ever feel a presence in the room with you? That someone, or something, is watching you? That’s how I felt on that cold, dreary December morning of 1991. But being 8 years old and resourceful, I believed spirits would not mess with me if I had the radio or TV turned on — any kind of noise. I believed they only attacked those who were alone. So I turned on the TV and watched a WWF show for a while. Then I spotted Tommy’s Super Nintendo lying on the floor. It suddenly dawned on me that this was my chance! With all the “cool” older kids gone, little ole me could finally have a turn. I started with F-Zero and then played Final Fight until my family and friends came back. Sure, part of me was ecstatic to see them again — I was no longer the lone prisoner trapped inside this cabin from hell — but something funny happened during my inaugural playthrough with the SNES. It made me forget about evil spirits and instead transported me to the future of video gaming, where you could snap a guy’s neck in two and soar 200 feet across a race track suspended high above a futuristic city — all in stunning graphics and sound. And it was nothing short of magic.
Damn, can’t believe it’s now been 25 years since that fateful December morning. For more details, check out My Super Nintendo Genesis.
THE STORY GOES…
Yes, there is an option mode but you had to do this code to activate it first. With Extra Joy on, your special move is just “A” instead of “Y” + “B” — hey, every little bit of help counts, right?
Haggar has perfected his German Suplex to a tee, ramming his victim head first into the canvas. That’ll give them something to remember you by! Er, that is, if they are still conscious…
Pick their sorry carcass up, give them a few headbutts and send them packing with a smooth piledriver. Simple but effective combo.
Sometimes you just need a little space. In such instances, employ the devastating spinning clothesline. It’ll teach the bastards a thing or two about personal space!
Did you know you can punch twice then immediately throw them? Just hold up or down on the control pad while you’re delivering your punches. I never knew about this back in the day! It completely makes the game a much easier (and more enjoyable) experience. It turns you into a lethal, efficient killing machine.
Cody’s knuckle sandwich combo. Want fries with that?
For major damage and a sick looking combo, jump in with a downward strike, punch them three times and polish it off with a shoulder throw. +10 for style, +100 if you knock out some other baddies on the opposite side too!
Starting out in the classic slum, march your way through crime-ridden Metro City in five different war zones. Yes, the arcade had six. But more on that a bit later…
PUTS THE “FINAL” IN FINAL FIGHT…
Who could ever forget Final Fight‘s perilous continue screen?
STAGE ONE — THE SLUM
Maybe Haggar’s got some candy there, or money. You know, the homeless epidemic has really hit Metro City hard as of late…
[Or maybe Haggar is offering him a black eye -Ed.]
There’s that, too…
Sorry, that was pretty bad. Knock over tires or drum cans to reveal items for extra points, weapons or food to replenish your health. I wonder who puts it there? I guess every major crime lord has a little bit of heart in them after all…
OH CRAP! Surrounded by a group of petty thugs, what’s a guy to do in this ruthless day and age?!
Connecting on your special move takes away a small portion of your health, but it’s the right call when surrounded. Otherwise, you’ll most likely be on the receiving end of a gang attack and lose significantly more energy than you would had you used your special move at the first sign of trouble.
Haggar can only toss the knife while Cody can actually hang onto it for a bit and go MICHAEL MYERS up in this mutha! Cool little touch to further differentiate the two. If you’re playing as Cody and wish to launch the knife, then simply hold down. Sweet.
Much love and respect to baseball pitchers. It’s such an unnatural throwing position and why so many pitchers have jacked up shoulders. By the way, it’s a little known fact that Mike Haggar was the MVP of the Metro City Maniacs* — a softball recreational league that plays ball every other summer. *Complete and utter BS.
Say hello to the first boss, Damnd! Er I mean, Trasher. Damn that censorship, pun intended.
At any rate, Damnd is a bit of a puss who prefers calling on his lame lackeys to do the fighting for him. His trademark sit and whistle makes the seamless leap over to the SNES port. At opportune times, Damnd will try to blindside you, the gutless git!
“That’s right! Shouldn’t have messed with me, pal!”
“How could I lose to a guy in the middle of a mid-life crisis!?”
“HEY! SHHHH! Keep that on the down low, will ya!”
“Damnd bastard! Throwing shade at me huh? This serves you right!”
“Jeez would you go on and die already!?”
STAGE TWO — THE SUBWAY / PARK
El Gado with the ol’ reliable KIDNEY PUNCH.
… and Hags with the even more reliable sword slash!
Check out how deceptively deep this game is. Yup, when timed right, you can deflect the enemy’s projectiles. Sure, you could just sidestep it, but we all know one universal truth: REAL MEN DROPKICK!
We’re not gonna take it! No! We ain’t gonna take it! We’re not gonna take it anymooooooore!
Ah, you gotta love Twisted Sister. Their cult song “We’re Not Gonna Take It” became something of a rebellious cry for teenagers and young adults in the mid ’80s with its never-say-die, take-no-BS mantra. In some circles it became the anthem of a generation more than 30 years ago.
STAGE THREE — WESTSIDE
Forgot to RSVP? As long as you didn’t forget how to pull off a dropkick, you’re good to go.
Speaking of Andore, the big beefy goons in beat ‘em ups were always my favorite kind of enemies to fight. Abobo was an actual boss while Andore is a top-tier regular enemy. I have a soft spot for bad guys who aren’t quite boss-worthy, but are much tougher than all the other regular bad guys. Whenever I think “beat ‘em up baddies,” Andore and Abobo are the first two I always think of.
STAGE FOUR — BAY AREA
“What? Have I taken one too many blows to the head? Doggie, YOU TALKIN’ TO ME?”
“You’re lucky! Capcom took out a WHOLE stage to make life easier for ya, and for them as well! You know, less programming on their part.”
Nobody did bathroom scenes better than Capcom. Remember Birdie’s stage from Street Fighter Alpha 2? It’s always a riot to beat up bad guys against a grimy and dodgy looking backdrop! This is FINAL FIGHT after all, not friggin’ ballet!
Smash several glass windows in succession. It’s a lot tougher than breaking the car. Who knew glass could be harder to demolish than a car? Oh those silly Capcom hipsters.
STAGE FIVE — UPTOWN
Watch out for the shattered glass. See what happens? OH CRAP, HAGGAR’S LEGS! It proves that broken glass isn’t safe at all. [Maybe you shouldn’t have dropped out of Metro City Community College -Ed.]
Say hello to the final boss, Belger. He must be real happy to see Haggar, because he’s got a second arrow gun hiding in his pocket there…
Jessica has no eyes. Damn, Haggar with them freaky genes. Belger is a handful, but you can actually grab and throw him consecutively if timed and positioned correctly.
ARCADE VS. SNES COMPARISON
Fans of Guy were bummed out to find he was nowhere to be found in the SNES port. Capcom then released Final Fight Guy on the SNES in July 1994. This version allowed you to play as Guy but Cody was taken out and there’s still no simultaneous 2 player mode. What the hell, Capcom? Shame on you.
More disappointing than losing Guy was losing the 2 player mode. Early beat ‘em ups like Rival Turf proved it was possible. Even with one player, Final Fight occasionally slows down to a crawl at certain points. Capcom didn’t quite yet master the ins and outs of the SNES in 1991, but as we all know, they soon would in the years to come.
Elevators were modified. You don’t actually see your character ride through the elevator in the SNES port.
Obviously the SNES could only replicate so much of the arcade. Of all the little details I personally missed the rundown jagged wooden set piece there. Baddies remain the same for the most part though, sans one major change. But more on that later.
SNES couldn’t have the word “SEXY” sprawled across their bathroom doors, could they? Instead, they have the word “kiss.” Come on, Capcom! At least change it up completely. How about something like “Mad Gear rules!” Sure, it’s super generic, but it’s still a lot better than just “kiss.”
The SNES port sees a maximum of three baddies onscreen at any one time. The arcade had as many as eight! Obviously, you can’t expect much on this end. There were many 16-bit beat ‘em ups that maxed out at three bad guys.
Here’s the missing fourth stage: the Industrial Zone. It’s very tough and I’m fine without it, but it does lose points for pure authenticity. Oh, see the scantily clad broad there?
Roxy and Poison were way too controversial for Nintendo of America, so Capcom altered it to be this lame looking bloke instead. Sid and Billy, sorry to say this but y’all just weren’t the same.
Rolento, being the boss of the scrapped Industrial Zone, is also MIA.
Belger didn’t change much in the SNES port. Though in the arcade he actually had a wheelchair while in the SNES port it looked more like a mobile love seat, which would suit Jessica just fine I’m sure [OH LORD! The images… AHHH! -Ed.]
WHAT THE CRITICS SAID
Being one of the earliest SNES releases, some critics were kind enough to overlook its deficiencies. Many fans, however, were not as forgiving.
EGM: 8,7, 7, 7
Super Play: 86%
The Super Nintendo port of Final Fight is undoubtedly flawed. No 2 player mode, no Guy, an entire missing stage and only up to three enemies on the screen at any one time. It sounds like a lot is missing but when you actually play it, it still comes off a quality beat ‘em up. The gameplay is still there and when you consider this was one of the earliest SNES releases, the whole thing somehow manages to come off as impressive. Those visuals were mind blowing back in 1991. You had to see it 25 years ago to truly appreciate it. I mean, the characters were HUGE for the time, and I remember thinking to myself, “Where the hell is the coin slot?” As kids obviously we didn’t know any better. Nowadays it’s easy to see what the shortcomings are, but for an early launch game Final Fight impressed. The sound effects had a nice crunch to them and it did bring a lovely arcade feel home to our living rooms.
For all of its shortcomings, Final Fight still plays remarkably well. Compared to other SNES beat ‘em ups that came out later, Final Fight plays as well if not better than a good handful of them. It’s one of those weird games that you kind of have to grade on a bit of a curve. Viewed strictly in a bubble of its release date — September 1991 — this was a quality product, despite the missing elements. It’s not the first SNES beat ‘em up I reach for when I’m in the mood to kick some 16-bit ass, but I have to admit I do enjoy playing it still to this day because the gameplay has held up 25 years later. If it had a 2 player mode it would earn an even better score but as is, it’s still pretty good. Hardcore anal fans need not apply, however. This one ain’t for you. For the rest of us, you could play far worse beat ‘em ups on the Super Nintendo than Final Fight.