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.
I grew up loving fighting games. Being born in 1983, I was around 8-11 right when it was the “Golden Age of Fighting Games” (circa 1991-1994). I ate up the Street Fighter II clones that popped up overnight like a bad pimple on prom night. One of my favorites was Data East’s Fighter’s History (1993). The first time I saw its colorful, comic-book like cabinet, it was instant love. The game has a mixed bag reputation (leaning more toward “below par”) but I’ve always liked it.
One of my fondest gaming memories involves the summer of 1994. That was a summer for the ages. It was…
It’s a true story that was featured in Rob Strangman’s 2014 book “Memoirs of a Virtual Caveman” (which can be found on Amazon.com, cheap plug).
On one epic June morning, my old best friend Nelson and I came across three imports in the flesh that were months away from their US release. It was, in a word, glorious.
I have fond memories of playing Super Famicom Fighter’s History that hot summer day at Nelson’s. We would switch off and it was an awesome time to be a carefree kid growing up in suburbia.
This image is seared into my memory bank even 22 years later:
Takes me right back to Nelson’s living room on a hot June afternoon of 1994. Such amazing memories. On a side note, the SNES Fighter’s History port doesn’t get enough credit. It’s one of the best arcade-to-SNES translations I have played. Really well done by Data East.
Fighter’s History Dynamite came out in arcades in 1994. It is also known as Karnov’s Revenge.
But did you know there was a THIRD Fighter’s History game? And believe it or not, of all systems it was released ONLY on the Super Famicom February of 1995. Its full name is Fighter’s History: Mizoguchi Kiki Ippatsu!!
It’s a fascinating little footnote in Data East history. It included the two new characters of Fighter’s History Dynamite (Yungmie and Zazie) but unfortunately did away completely with these cats:
Of course, those five guys (heh, Five Guys…) happen to be my personal favorites of the series. Go figure. Instead, here is your roster:
Stripped down to 8, it seems like a massive step back. Especially considering the 1993 original had 9 characters to begin with, and the 1994 sequel had 13 characters. To go down to 8 in 1995 seems like a waste. Therefore, it feels like a weird remix of the first two games. Had it included all the characters, this would easily have been the definitive Fighter’s History game.
The game opens with a nice intro, at least. We’re (re)introduced to Data East’s Chelnov character, who appeared in Atomic Runner.
We’re also treated to the titular star’s special moves.
Of all people, why bring back Lee? Why? I miss Ray and his “BAKED POTATO!”
The game introduces mostly new backgrounds. Sadly, they’re not as memorable as the ones found in the first game. I always enjoyed the first game’s backgrounds. They weren’t flashy, but had a quiet solid quality backing them. By comparison here is Ryoko’s original stage below.
Back are the weak points. Knock these weak points off and the characters become dizzy. I remember as kids we were all curious and excited wondering what Fei-Lin would look like after her top came off. Oh how we were disappointed. A sign of the times it was indeed. 1993, oh I miss thee…
I loved Clown from the first game. There was a sinister element to him from the first game that is missing in this game. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but he doesn’t feel the same. Almost like it’s an imposter of the first Clown. Huh. Maybe it’s just me being weird. Good bet.
Zazie is one of two new fighters from Fighter’s History Dynamite. I never liked him much.
And Yungmie is the other one. Never liked her either. It’s a shame these two characters made the cut and that Ray, Matlok, Samchay, Jean and Marstorius were left on the cutting room floor.
Karnov’s stage from Fighter’s History Dynamite is recycled. Not bad. I’ve always liked this background. A rare instance in which I prefer the sequel’s background to the original version. Here’s Karnov’s bare bones boring stage from the original game below.
Here’s the cheat code to use him in certain modes:
Press Down, Down, Up, Up, Right, Left, L, R at the title screen after the opening intro.
Yes, the goofy announcer is back. “MIZOGUCHI… LOSES!”
TAG MODE: FOUR PLAYER FIGHTER’S HISTORY
The game’s most interesting feature is undoubtedly its FOUR player tag mode. Yes, up to four human players can plug up and play. Not at once, mind you, but it’s pretty impressive for an early 1995 fighting game. Early shades of X-Men vs. Street Fighter and the like!
As far as I know, it’s the only “4 player” fighting game on the SNES. For that alone, it’s gotta be considered at the very least, “noteworthy.” Also throw in the fact that this is the only “sequel” to an arcade game that came out exclusively on the SNES. Data East breaking all sorts of ground with this game.
See the touch sign there? Simply hit select at those points to switch out to your tag partner. There is a slight half second delay but all things considered it’s not bad, especially for 1995 16-bit standards. Quite frankly, it was pretty innovative stuff.
Two different practice modes are also available. In addition, a survival mode rounds out the extra bonuses. Nice job, Data East. Still, these cool modes don’t quite make up the difference for gutting your roster. There’s no doubt the SNES could have handled those 5 fighters. Weird, and lazy!
I have mixed feelings about this game. The sound is pretty dang awful, but it’s nice to hear that wacky announcer return. The tag mode is an awesome feature, but on the flip side cutting those 5 characters really drag it down. Also, being a big fan of SNES Fighter’s History, this game doesn’t quite possess the same physics as that game. I can’t quite describe it but play it and you’ll notice the difference(s). I much prefer the gameplay and physics of the original.
As much as I want to like this quirky fascinating footnote of a game, there is just too much about it that I don’t particularly like that I can’t wholeheartedly recommend it. If it had the entire Fighter’s History crew I wouldn’t hesitate to call this a definite “hidden gem.”
As is, it’s only for the hardcore fighting game fans out there or for those of you who are fascinated by the idea of playing a Super Nintendo fighting game with three buds at the “same time.” All in all, it’s hit and miss. It certainly doesn’t play poorly, and the tag feature is undeniably dope, but that roster is way too thin and the sound is difficult to stomach at times. I’m glad I got a copy but it’s disappointing to think about how much better this game could have been and should have been. Oh well, can’t win ‘em all. Just ask Capcom when they tried to sue Data East in 1994 for copyright infringement
Back in the early-mid ’90s fighting games ruled the scene. Street Fighter II launched a phenomenon that spawned clone after clone. Very few came close to the level of Street Fighter. Some were even downright ATROCIOUS. But once in a while, one came along that completely surprised you. One of those games was a Super Nintendo exclusive. It never came out in the arcades, but Konami could have fooled me. Its name… Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Tournament Fighters.
Last night a friend and I caught the latest TMNT movie, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows. It was far better than I expected, especially since I didn’t like the 2014 version at all. I mean, it wasn’t great or anything, but I can genuinely say I wouldn’t mind the inevitable 3rd film in this Michael Bay series. Seeing the movie made me nostalgic for the Turtles from my childhood, and so it’s a perfect time to talk about one of the best fighting games the SNES ever saw.
EXCUSE ME, SAY THAT ONE MORE TIME
Those were the haunting, earth-shattering words of my brother’s friend, Kerwin, back in December ’93. According to him, he had just played this new amazing fighting game — one that he claimed had“Fatality” like moves during combat and one that actually played better than Street Fighter II Turbo. If I didn’t know any better, I’d have thought Kerwin worked for Konami himself. At that time I had never conceived of anything like the idea of death moves. These were essentially SUPER special moves that dealt out a TREMENDOUS amount of damage and could only be done when your 2nd bar was full. Just the idea of two energy bars blew my 10 year old mind, let alone the idea of a screen-filling, flashy, super special attack. Maybe there was another game that had already done this at the time, but alI I knew was, Tournament Fighters was my first exposure to the wonderful wacky world of super specials. It’s one of those epic memories you always carry with you, in your gaming heart. TMNT:Tournament Fighters would have been terrific even without their Ultimate Attacks but WITH them it makes for one truly amazing fighting game.
Since late 1993, death moves have become a key staple in the genre. Everything from looks to command (i.e. how to pull off a super special move) has only gotten crazier and crazier. By comparison, these ones may seem tame today… but man, back in the day, they were something else to behold!
Tournament Fighters has two bars. One serves as your energy bar while the second fills up each time you land a blow, blocked or not. It’s a free flowing bar, meaning that if you are not on the offensive the bar swings back the other way slowly but surely. Thus, a great deal of emphasis is put on being aggressive, rather than defensive. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself compromised as your opponent unleashes his possibly two or even three times in a single round. When full, the bar ignites and you have three seconds to perform your super special. If you fail to execute your big move in that time frame, then the bar swings back the other way. Thankfully, it moves one smidgen at a time. Meaning if for whatever reason you couldn’t pull off your big move, just one or two more (blocked) attacks will see your bar refilled once more. It was a brilliant and innovative feature for its time. Back in December of 1993, none of my gaming crew nor I had ever seen anything like the Ultimate Attacks. And we loved them. It changed the dynamic of a typical fighting game match, and some of the screen-filling moves were truly awe-inspiring 20+ years ago.
However, there were some downsides to the Ultimate Attacks. Namely, since you only have about three seconds to unleash it… human opponents are very likely to block it. Though some can cause a good deal of damage even when blocked, it would be better if there was no time limit and the bar could remain full until you were ready to use it. It would have led to a bit more strategy. Instead, the game plays like a mad melee, which is not bad in its own right. Props for having these mega death moves at all.
CHRISTMAS MAGIC IN JANUARY
Having hounded both my parents about Clay Fighter and with them knowing how disappointed I was that I didn’t get it or even a video game that Christmas, my mom allowed me to buy one video game in January of ’94. I had just rented Clay Fighter and was thankful I did (boy, was it disappointing). They took me to Good Guys and I bought Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Tournament Fighters. I had never played it before but it was #2 on my want game list that Christmas season, trailing only Clay Fighter. I grew up on the Ninja Turtles, and it looked like a terrific Street Fighter II clone. I loved the cover and will never forget seeing it at Good Guys looking all pretty in its wrapping. It seemed to call out to me. Right away I knew it was the one. My mom and dad took the game to the counter to pay for it while I stood there nearly quaking in my shoes. What a wonderful belated Christmas gift! It was the second SNES game my mom ever bought for me, just about one year after she’d bought me my first, King of the Monsters. It was one of the longest car rides home that I can remember. It was time to see if Kerwin was right or not — was this truly Street Fighter II Turbo but with death moves??
THE STORY GOES…
Mike:Hey, who hacked our tube? This is SO NOT COOL, DUDES! Raph:SHADDUP MIKEY! I wanna hear this… Don: Amazing, I wonder what kind of device they used to hack our streaming service? Leo: Guys, there could only be one villain behind this…
I’ve always enjoyed the presentation / vibe of most Konami titles. They had a classic, basic yet sleek look to them. You could always count on Konami to deliver the goods
When I first saw this 20+ years ago, I instantly said to my brother, “It’s Martial Champion!” We liked it. It was different from most other fighting games which all seemed to have the same select screen. This one was different enough to be a bit of a stand out, however.
Martial Champion came out February 1993. It was one of a thousand Street Fighter II clones flooding the market at the time. I fell in love with it, but I was basically sleeping with every fighting game that came out during that golden age of 1992 to 1994 or so. It was colorful, outlandish and a bit different from your average SF II clone.
Titi (renamed Chaos in the US) was my favorite character. It looked like a cross between Freddy Krueger and a Chinese hopping vampire! Sold and sold! The game was unique thanks to its high jumps and how you could disarm your opponent and steal their weapon to use it against them. Looking back, it wasn’t a great fighting game or anything, but it was yet another fun entry in that epic era I fondly refer to as the ‘Fighting Game Golden Age.’
Take a look and see for yourself! Yeah, I know. I couldn’t draw for jack but man… the memories of those fun and simple times. Running in those arcade halls with my old gaming crew, going from fighting game to fighting game. It was akin to a buffet lineup. A grand time those days were, indeed.
SETTING THE STAGE
Of the many things I love about this game the one I adore the most might be the stages. Just look at this one f’rinstance. First off, the idea of a duel to the death on a rooftop is appealing, but then you add in massive billboards and a pretty backdrop of some hotels and business buildings, including a nifty flashing neon Konami sign all set to an atmospheric night time hue, and what you have is a winner. Most of the stages in this game are chock full with detail, color (admittedly at times almost TOO much color), and oh yeah, cameos. You’ll see tons of familiar faces from the TMNT universe scattered throughout, from foot soldiers to Neutrinos to Rocksteady and Bebop (though they should have been playable fighters but I digress). You’ll battle it out everywhere, from shady back alleys to ancient ruins, sunken ships, raucous rock concerts, roaring trains and cafés filled with jukeboxes, neon signs and bloodthirsty spectators. The stages captured my imagination 20+ years ago, and to this day, in my book, they’re still some of the best backgrounds I’ve ever seen in a 16-bit fighter.
What’s a fighting game without some sort of stage select screen? I’ve always liked the one here… with the Statue of Liberty front and center, and the little light that searches for the next stage. The sound effects here, as can be expected, are top-notch and firmly embedded in my mind more than 20 years later.
LEONARDO | 5’8″ | 170 lbs.
The leader of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Leonardo is as straight-edge as they come. Focused and determined, his trusty katana blades often pushes him ahead of the competition. Not surprisingly, he plays like Ryu. Leo’s never been my favorite turtle, but he’s a solid all-around fighter, and an easy choice for beginning players. As expected, his swords provide him solid range. You can slice and dice to your heart’s content… something I always wanted to see in the old cartoon but never did for obvious reasons — but here you can fulfill those long forgotten childhood dreams.
Hustlers, hookers and hoodlums litter this shady looking back alley. In an attempt to shed his choir boy, straight edge image, Leo invites his opposing rivals to meet him way out in this dilapidated part of town in the middle of the day, breaking the age-old ninja code of hiding in the shadows. Leo is ready, at last, to step outta his shell.
RAPHAEL |5’8″ | 170 lbs.
Though Mike was my favorite growing up, Raph is a very close second. It’s hard not to like him. He was part of the team but it always felt like he was one small misstep from snapping [A snapping turtle? -Ed.]. Raph was easily the edgiest turtle of the lot, always exuding this aura of coolness. Maybe it’s because he’s a quasi-rebel and a hard-ass, which deep down there’s a little bit of that in all of us. He didn’t use his sai much in the old cartoon, but makes plenty good use of them here, including a M. Bison torpedo-esque move that can be a pain in the neck to deal with. Just a shame Casey Jones isn’t around as that’s one fight I’d love to see!
This was one of my most favorite fighting game backgrounds as a kid. It’s got the classic long counter you’d find at any diner worth half its salt, a jukebox, a colorful neon sign that lights up and what’s up with that strange looking cat in the middle there? He looks like an ape and for pete’s sake sir pull your shirt all the way down, son! Damn. Way to spoil one’s appetite, eh?
DONATELLO |5’8″ | 170 lbs.
Often referred to as the brains of the group, Donatello is usually busy working on his latest inventions. This time however, he’s taking a firm stand to show he can not only hold his own, but that he’s the most skilled fighter of his clan. His bo gives him good coverage and he’s just plain fun to use, especially with his Cranium Crusher that is exclusive only to him. Plus, his Ultimate Attack ranks as one of the most memorable — Donnie [Yen, apparently -Ed.] sends forth a ginormous dragon wave. It was jaw dropping back in ’93, and 20+ years later still puts a huge grin on my face whenever I see it. Donnie reminds us he’s more than just a brainiac.
In a corner tucked far away from town lies a rundown scrapyard where the dirtiest of deeds go down. Classic characters from the cartoon, like the vigilante Casey Jones and mad scientist Baxter Stockman, make cameos here in a definite tip of the cap. When Donnie isn’t busy scouring the scrapheap for random parts to tinker with, he’s busy kicking some ass.
MICHELANGELO |5’8″ | 170 lbs.
Easily my favorite Ninja Turtle growing up, every kid I knew identified themselves with Mikey at one point or another — the classic fun-loving, pizza-craving party animal of the troupe. Mikey never really used his nunchucks in the old ’80s cartoon, so it’s a fan’s dream come true to see him swinging them here like no tomorrow. He plays like a tantalizing mix of Ryu and Blanka, with a cool arcing rolling attack and a deadly rising uppercut. Mikey’s also got the best stage in the entire game. To cap it off, his Ultimate Attack is a swift and sick 10-hit barrage known as the Dance of Fury.
Hands down my favorite background of the game; hell, I’d put this up against any other fighting game stage on the SNES. The flashing Konami sign, the billboards on each side, the atmospheric city life with the bright lights — it’s a crime not to like this stage. I bet Mikey goes here after picking up a pizza and watches over the city as he munches away to his little heart’s content. Bless the lad, really.
ARMAGGON | 8’0″ | 400 lbs.
This guy had to be every kid’s dream come true back in the day. At least he was for me. Who didn’t drool at the thought of being a mutant shark? At the time I thought he was a brand new character constructed just for the game, but he actually comes from the comic book universe of Ninja Turtles fame, like quite a few of the other characters found in this game. While I was initially disappointed in the lack of familiar faces from the cartoon, I always liked Armaggon. Everything from his look to the giant octopus sitting in the middle of his stage… he’s JAWESOME[You’ve jumped the shark -Ed.].
This stage creeped me out when I was a kid. If I were really fighting, I’d find it impossible to focus on my opponent with that grotesque abomination stalking my every move. Its eyes literally track you wherever you go. Talk about unnerving. But it’s also frigging awesome.
ASKA | 5’2″ | 110 lbs.
Okay, so I have a small confession to make. When I was growing up, female fighters were never really my cup of tea. I always wanted to pick either the Ryu clone, the “cool” Guile rip-off, or the freaks (stretch fighters, monsters and other assorted weirdos). Female fighters, bless their hearts, simply never moved my meter. Back then the only one I used to any degree was Janne from the World Heroes series. Well, here’s another rare like. I can’t put my finger on exactly why, but Aska’s always been cool in my book.
In 1993 there was a very popular SNK fighter by the name of Samurai Shodown. This backdrop always made me think of that game. Noh is a classic Japanese drama dance show that surged sometime in the 14th or 15th century. The mutant frog which resides in the middle of the stage always intrigued me. I remember rumors circulating within my own gaming crew that the giant frog was a secret character you could use. Of course, it was just a BS rumor my friends and I formed — it was a sign of the times. The good old days…
CHROME DOME | 5’10” | 200 lbs.
Considering how most of the roster consists of antagonists NOT from the cartoon universe, Chrome Dome was a very welcomed addition. I love how Konami gave the token “stretch fighter” the game’s biggest damage-inducing throw (outside of the bosses). It’s very cool as it’s just something you didn’t see in fighting games at all during that era. So in some ways, Chrome Dome felt like a slight mix of Dhalsim meets Zangief. He could stretch for defense and offense, and if you get too close to him, he could grab ya and take you on one SHOCKING ride.
Who knew tin head was so artsy fartsy? With a penchant for the fine arts, the culturally cognizant Chrome Dome gets his kicks off on piledrivering his competition at the local art museum. Familiar cartoon faces make a spot cameo in the form of Mousers and the Neutrinos. ‘GROOVY!’ indeed.
CYBER SHREDDER |6’6″ | 280 lbs.
This ain’t your regular Shredder you remember bumbling around in the ’80s cartoon. No, far from that. Indeed, this is THE SHREDDER ON STEROIDS. This is Cyber Shredder, a walking weapon of destruction. Part of me wishes we got the ’80s version instead, for nostalgic reasons. I was saddened to hear about the passing of one, James Avery, in December 2013. Better known as Uncle Phil, Avery was the voice of the late ’80s and early ’90s Shredder. When I found that fun little factoid in the late ’90s or so, I never looked at Shredder the same way ever again.
On the outskirts of town, there exists an iniquitous construction site that is rumored to have been taken over by the evil and nefarious Cyber Shredder and his Foot Clan. There are even whispers on the street, though apocryphal, that the police themselves dare not step foot onto the Cyber Shredder’s hot new territory. It’s considered a lost part of town and most have turned a blind eye in exchange for their own personal safety. All hail the mighty Foot!
WAR | 8’0″ | 350 lbs.
A savage bipedal triceratops? Sign me up! Those were my sentiments when I first laid eyes on him 20+ years ago. Originating from the comics, he was one of the Four Horsemen — along with Death, Famine and Pestilence. A real shame then, considering the superb look and cool name. He goes down in fighting game history as one of the most disappointing fighters ever. He’s limited to two special moves that aren’t too hot. Thankfully, his stage stands out and his Ultimate Attack is a rip-roaring attention grabber. War hurls himself around the screen like a pinball of destruction, but even that can’t save him from feeling like a largely wasted roster space.
It’s a beautiful sunny day, with only a couple clouds hanging overhead. Your breath is taken away as you look around at all the beautiful sights, until you catch sight of your old bumbling rivals, Bebop and Rocksteady. You chuckle to yourself as a savage roar erupts nearby. A giant 8 foot tall armored monster leaps within 10 feet of ya, the sunshine shimmering off his razor sharp talons. And just as quick, your smile fades.
WINGNUT | 6’0″ | 300 lbs.
I remember thinking to myself, “Why this bastard over a classic fan fave like Bebop or Rocksteady?” Wingnut appeared briefly in the ’80s cartoon series and had a much bigger role in the comics. He’s the very definition of an “unorthodox fighter.” It will take a highly skilled player to get the most out of his unusual offense. Possessing a somewhat awkward moveset, and considering how his Ultimate Attack can be a total flop, to his credit he’s got one of the cooleststages in fighting game history. What’s better than a rock concert while watching two combatants knock the stuffing out of each other?
Wingnut, the master of soundwaves, is hardly a stranger to loud noise. Whereas it distracts and even causes damage to the ear drums of most mere mortals, Wingnut relishes on such raucous and frenzied environments. From the HEAVY METALheadbanging to the strobe lights to the t-rex twins, the ringing Thunder Dome produces a mad rocking atmosphere like no other. The audience is more than happy to pay top dollar for this BARBARIC MASHUP.
In the comics, Rat King had a telepathic super power where he could communicate with rats. In the ’80s cartoon series he had to use a flute. He’s always been a cool cat [rat? -Ed.] in my book, and I wish we saw more familiar faces from the cartoon than the comics. Although I realize by late 1993 the cartoon series was not nearly as popular as it once was. Still, how lovely would it have been to see the likes of Krang, Rocksteady, Bebop and Casey Jones?
Studio 6 is where they film this game show format for Tournament Fighters. High school cheerleaders adorn the stage. A badly missed opportunity at a sewer-based stage. If you’re not going to give it to one of the turtles, then at least give it to the Rat King (AKA the King of the Sewers). This game has plenty of cool stages, but this one was rather dull. Can’t win ‘em all, I guess.
A duel to the death atop a screaming metro train. Mr. Vernon Fenwick from Channel 6 News captures the chaos for all to see from the comfort of their home. Perhaps Konami knew all along just how bloodthirsty humanity is…
The endings are rather disappointing. Each character ending has only two shots with hit-or-miss artwork and a few text messages. For as difficult as the computer opponents are, this is a major letdown.
Like most fighting games of the early-mid ’90s, there lies breakable furniture in some of the stages. It’s a damn classic staple of the genre. The ones here are, admittedly, a bit ‘weak’ [I see what you did there -Ed.], but hey, they’re there.
Speaking of um, bonuses, check out probably my all-time most favorite fighting game bonus stage around. Destroying bank safes one after another? Sign me up!
I love the idea that someone was dropping these bad boys from the sky like a madman. They kept raining down, and you had to bust ‘em up until there were none left. It was extremely satisfying and I much rather play this bonus stage than any other.
Besides the concept and killer sound effects, I love this bonus round because unlike 90 to 95% of bonus rounds you come across in the genre, this one is actually quite challenging. You need a plan of attack rather than just mindlessly pound away. There were enough safes that ya barely had enough time, and it was SO cool how they can topple over (and knock you out, too).
ONLY IN JAPAN
There a few notable differences between the American and Japanese versions of the SNES game. In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Warriors (to give it its Japanese namesake), among the differences include Rat King’s extra stage bit, where combatants can be knocked through the wall revealing the control room of Studio 6.
The other difference is the censorship of Aska. In the Japanese version you can see her buttocks a bit, but they covered it up in the North American version.
In what very well might be the first and ONLY time in gaming history, Konami released simultaneously three games of the same name on the NES, Genesis and SNES, but with very different game engines and rosters. While cool of them to diversify like that, it was clear SNES owners received the superior version. The Genesis version is broken and by comparison, crap. By late ’93, the Genesis was starting to look like the grandfather on the block while the SNES was just hitting its prime. With Tournament Fighters released across all three platforms, it was clear (at least in my mind) who the king of the jungle was. I was happy to own all three systems, but Super Nintendo was clearly KING in my household.
The 8-bit NES game is not even worth talking about from a gameplay standpoint; although, it does make for a fun water cooler topic as far as near final NES releases go. The NES was gasping its last breath by late ’93, so any title released was newsworthy, indeed. This was just a painful reminder though that my dear old friend couldn’t keep up with a changing of the guard. I love the 8-bit Nintendo and Sega Genesis, but I’m just calling it like I see it. When Tournament Fighters came out on all three systems, it was like a subtle declaration in my own heart which of those three systems reigned supreme.
CRACK THE CODE
I sat there completely dumbfounded, my jaw on the ground. I had to do a double take. Right there in my friend’s room, I could play as the Rat King or Karai. I ran downstairs to tell my friends about it. I still remember the skeptical looks on their faces, and how they kept saying, “Dude, this better not be a hoax. I’m about to eat some KFC!” They followed behind me as I took the stairs 2 steps at a time. I stood at the doorway and stretched my hand out as to welcome them in. One by one they filed in and I stood there still in the doorway smiling when I heard the collective HOLY SHIT! cries. I can’t tell you how red my hand got that night because of all the high fives. They asked what the code was, and sadly, I had no clue. We left the game on the entire night just so we could play as the bosses. When we finally turned it off at 12 something in the morning, we turned it right back on so I could try the code again. No such luck. Whatever I punched in randomly before was now gone.
The infamous boss code. Right there in all its glory. Looking back, it’s a fond memory for me. The thrill of cracking the code, the joys of sharing it with my friends, creating a lifetime memory. Back then, you couldn’t just log into damn GameFAQs for your hints and secrets, oh no. It was either through tip sections in gaming magazines like such, or plain discovering ‘em yourself through dumb luck. Discovering the boss code made me the man of my group for that one epic night, anyhow, and I recall with deep fondness just the sights, sounds and smells of that great night. The KFC aroma in the air, the thundering footsteps up the stairs, the tingling rush that I felt sweeping every fiber of my being when I saw Rat King and Karai on the select screen, the cries of sheer joy from my friends, as though we just collectively won the Mega Million Lottery, and the stinging high fives. Man, we must have played like 3 straight hours that night. Boss code, how I miss you and your simplicity. Boy, were things different back then. I’m very grateful I was lucky enough to have grown up when I did. When gaming with friends was all that mattered.
Look, she’s taunting me! GRR! So, I discovered the most wanted code and could have won a free game from EGM, but I couldn’t remember the code anyway, so Konami giving it to EGM first was a moot point as it would turn out. I suppose that softened the blow for not being able to remember the damn code!
WHAT THE CRITICS SAID
Tournament Fighters was received well by the press. It garnered high scores across the board and I can’t recall anyone ever having a bad thing to say of it. From the critics to regular gamers like you and me, the game was beloved and extolled by many. It is also widely regarded as one of the better fighting games on the SNES. EGM gave it scores of 8, 9, 9 and 9. GameFan rated it 85, 92, 96 and 96%. Super Play Magazine scored it 90%. It was not only one of the BEST fighting games of 1993, but one of the best games, period, that year. One play and it’s easy to see why the game had so many diehard supporters. It succeeds where most clones fail miserably: it’s fun, fast, fluid and to boot it’s the TEENAGE MUTANT f*ckin’ NINJA TURTLES!
Tournament Fighters is a fantastic fighting game. In fact I think it’s the best SNES-exclusive fighter. In an age where crap clones were slapped together and shipped out the door like no tomorrow, Tournament Fighters was groomed for success. It’s packed full of quality from top to bottom. Those graphics are bright, bold and classic mid ’90s SNES magic. The sound and music both hit the mark, with tunes you can rock out to. The fighting game engine just feels right. Jumps aren’t floaty. Physics don’t feel off. It’s extremely well polished. What can I say, I loved it 20+ years ago, and even still to this day I’ll play it for a round or two, or 50. It’s not better than Street Fighter II Turbo but came DAMN closer than most.
But best of all, how about the wild Ultimate Attacks, eh? Whether you prefer to call them desperation moves, super specials or death moves, there’s no denying they are a game changer. They added an extra layer to the battles, encouraging the player to be offensive-minded. For balance, the weaker your health, the easier it is to fill up your extra bar. Likewise, the stronger you are, the harder it is to fill it up. Tournament Fighters did a lot of cool things, but for me the Ultimate Attacks come to mind first. Whether it was a giant ass mythical dragon or a deadly tidal wave screaming across the TV, it was jaw dropping and all part of the fun. Like fine wine, the game has aged tremendously well. Konami delivered again, crafting a finely tuned fighting game that exudes meticulous care and is bursting with quality from every seam. Sure, a bigger roster including the likes of Rocksteady, Bebop, Krang, and Casey Jones would have been perfect, but the list of negatives are short and brief.
Konami sure did hit a home run here, as they often did back in the ’90s. There aren’t many home-grown fighting games on the SNES, and the only ones giving Tournament Fighters any run for its money are: Ranma ½: Chōgi Rambu Hen and Mobile Suit Gundam Wing: Endless Duel. Some other SNES-grown fighters include Tuff Enuff, WeaponLord and Double Dragon V. Of all of them, I’d happily play this game the most. To me it’s a LEGIT Super Nintendo classic. It’s a quality fighting game with an engine that stands the test of time well. I still break it out on occasion to pass the odd evening or two. I will forever harbor fond memories of this game, from Kerwin’s unbelievable stamp of approval to my parents buying it after Christmas to the night I randomly unlocked Rat King and Karai… DAMN, the nostalgic goodness just goes on and on. Tournament Fighters, I salute thee!
Today marks the 21st birthday of the Sega Saturn in North America. Insert obligatory “time flies” and “wow where does the time go?” comments here. I have a long and fond history with Sega’s 32-bit beast. It’s my second favorite system of all time (you can probably guess which system is #1 in my heart) and I credit the Sega Saturn as the first system that truly made me a diehard gamer-collector. Being that we toast to the Sega Saturn’s 21st today, I can’t think of a better time than now to share with you how I fell in love with the Saturn, and what it meant to me over the years. This is… my Sega Saturn saga.
A QUICK NOTE BEFORE WE PROCEED
If it weren’t for the Saturn, I probably wouldn’t be into video games today. Although I grew up loving the NES, Genesis and Super Nintendo, it wasn’t until my time with the Sega Saturn that I came to appreciate games on a ‘deeper’ level. Of course, age maturation factored in, too. Unknowingly, the Saturn turned out to be my first voyage into “diehard” gaming pastures. It all started innocently enough before morphing into a savage monster. Sit back a while, young lad, and listen to the tale of the elders.
FLASHBACK TO 1998
My brother and I had a PlayStation in the late ’90s. Sure, I played and liked it reasonably, but my passion for gaming was slowly and surely slipping away around 1998. By the tail end of that year I was barely playing video games at all. The PlayStation did not appeal to me in the way the NES, Genesis or SNES had. I was on the brink of losing interest in gaming altogether.
That’s when fate decided to step in.
At that time my bro was going through his e-fed fad. An e-fed is a group of folks who role play their own wrestling persona and the booker pits the wrestlers against one another, with the victor being decided by who wrote the better promo. The e-fed community was buzzing at that time about a wrestling game available only on the Japanese Saturn… FIRE PRO WRESTLING: SIX MEN SCRAMBLE.
Just like in the old days when my bro made me do all the dirty work renting his video games, he ordered me to find a Saturn for cheap. Of course, his motivation was Fire Pro. But I had my own: WORLD HEROES PERFECT. I remember seeing the little preview in an EGM issue a couple years back, thinking how cool it would be to own a copy but because it was a Saturn game, and an import no less, I thought I never would. But what was once seemingly a far-fetched fantasy was quickly morphing into reality!
Here’s the EGM issue I can thank, or blame, for that unconscious desire to one day, somehow, own a copy of World Heroes Perfect. My bro subscribed to EGM in ’96 and I remember seeing Perfect featured in a quick half-page preview in the back of the August ’96 issue. I was indifferent toward the Saturn at the time, and my bro, who made all the game system purchasing decisions, was totally anti-Saturn. So I knew I could pretty much kiss any realistic thought of owning Perfect goodbye. Still, when you’re 13, there’s a certain robust shimmer of hope that nobody can ever deny you, and that includes older brothers who are in charge of, well, everything.
For years the thought and hopes of owning this import title laid dormant in my mind. Until, that is, one frosty winter evening of 1998. My bro literally charged at me and commanded me to go find a Saturn on the cheap. At that precise moment of shock it hit me… I can finally soon play, and own, World Heroes Perfect! *maniacal laughter*
Really, were it not for Fire Pro and my brother’s burning desire to own a copy back in the winter of ’98, I probably wouldn’t be into games today. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing, or a bad thing!
We each had our own reasons to get a Saturn. And thus, the search was on!
HOOK ME UP, BRO
On a cold December night of 1998, my dad drove me to a local import store that promised to find any game in Japan your heart desired for the low deposit price of $14.99. I fondly remember rushing in that tiny, long strip of a mom and pop store, shoving the EGM issue in the guy’s face and saying, almost out of breath, “Put me down for this game!” “World… Heroes… Perfect-uh,” the clerk said in a thick Japanese accent. “What’s that?”
My jaw dropped ten meters. This fool never heard of these games before?! “Very old Street Fighter II wannabe,” I told him, pointing to the half-page preview. “Can you find it for me?”
“Hmmm,” he pondered, scratching his chin. “I am sure so. Our search and locate skills are the best. I just need one thing from you.”
“Fourteen ninety-nine,” he said, a small grin crossing his face as he held out his hand.
I glanced over at my dad and just like the good old days, once again like he had done so many times before, he whipped out his wallet and made the magic happen.
I watched intensely as the clerk jotted down my information — name, number, title of wanted game, all that — before asking him excitedly and optimistically, “So, when can I expect to pick it up?” There was a momentary pause. “Oh, well, there’s a, uhhh, slight chance we might not be able to find it…” his voice trailed off.
So much for best search and locate skills eh?
“But don’t worry,” he assured. “We usually have success. If not, you get your full fifteen dollars back.”
While my dad paid, I stared at the Sonic Adventure demo running in the corner. It drew a hearty crowd, but I found myself only thinking of one game that fine evening. While everyone and their brother were eagerly huddled by the Japanese Dreamcast console, with its late ’90s newfangled technology, I was just barely getting started on the Saturn!
That night as my dad and I walked out of the small import shop sandwiched between a bakery and knick-knack store, I remember soaking in the energy of the night. In less than one month hopefully, I will finally be playing me some World Heroes Perfect! For the first time ever… BOO-YAH!
Only a month or two at the most, right? Right…
PUTTING THE FUN INTO FUNCOLAND
In January 1999, my dad and I entered a FUNCOLAND. Moments later, we walked out with a used Saturn for the low price of $39.99. Cradling the box against my chest as though it were Frankenstein’s heart, I walked out of the store feeling a jolt of adrenaline rushing through every fiber of my body. I just bought a Saturn. A whole new gaming world to explore… hell yeah!
THE HUNT CONTINUES
Meanwhile, no sign of either Perfect or Fire Pro. My bro sent our newly acquired Saturn off to NCSX for the modification job. Weeks later, my dad and I stopped by the import shop to inquire about the status of WHP. The clerk apologized, saying his men could not locate a copy over in Japan. Oh, the high walking in hoping for the best, and the low of having your bubble burst with a ten ton hammer of denial. Hey, at least my dad got back his $14.99, eh?
Then came the beautiful glow of that little thing known as… the internet. I posted on a SEGA newsgroup stating my desire to buy World Heroes Perfect. I received a response from a guy named “Azaziel” or something other. He was willing to sell his complete copy for $25. It was the very first video game internet transaction of my life (of what would end up totaling 1,000+…)
It all started with a newsgroup dealing… no feedback, no pics. I wasn’t so shrewd back then as I am now [HA! -Ed.], so I didn’t bother asking for those things you see. Really, I relied solely on my gut. Total blind faith. Something told me this would end well. Hell, I even sent cash through the mail. A crisp 20 and a fiver inside a VHS cover. Hey, I was 15 and dumb, OK?
A week later, World Heroes Perfect arrived in the mail. I’ll never forget that day. What a high seeing the package sitting pretty in my mailbox! Unfortunately, when NCSX sent our Saturn back there was an error that prevented us from playing World Heroes Perfect. Before my bro could ever send the Saturn back for repairs, there was a slight… snafu…
WHERE’S A HERO WHEN YA NEED ONE?
That same month we were robbed. It’s horrifying to come home only to find your back window smashed, muddy footprints all over the carpet and the house a former shell of its past glory. The computer, my mom’s jewelry, and all our game systems, including the Saturn — were gone. All the cabinets were left open… like the scene out of POLTERGEIST! I scrambled onto a chair to check if the thieves found World Heroes Perfect or not. It was the only game I kept in a special separate section. Remarkably, there the game sat, on the middle shelf, atop a small red dictionary. All our games were stolen. Except for one. The lone consolation prize in what was a horrific day. I realized then and there, it had to be fate. The tables turned, and now it was *me* who wanted the Saturn most of all, rather than my brother. If this terrible experience taught me anything, besides the fact that being robbed sucks the big one, it was that nothing could get in the way between me and my mission of at long last playing World Heroes Perfect. Damnit, by hook or crook, pardon the pun, I was going to play the bloody game.
FuncoLand didn’t get in another Saturn until May 1999. When they did, I jumped on it. My bro once again sent the system to NCSX for modification. OK… round 2, here we go!
Meanwhile, I browsed through the game’s color manual several (dozen) times in anticipation. Hey, I waited this long. A few more weeks won’t hurt…
A PERFECT DAY
On a calm May day in 1999, after the UPS man dropped off our modded Saturn on our porch, all systems were go. Damn I’ll never forget the excitement rushing through my body as the Saturn logo fired up for the very first time. Not to mention those cheesy but memorable ADK tunes blaring in my living room, like it was 1993 all over again! The long wait was at last over. Vindication was finally mine.
Later that summer I frantically searched online for a copy of Fighter’s History Dynamite. I loved Fighter’s History (arcade, SNES) back in the day, so when I discovered the ‘sequel’ had hit the Sega Saturn, I was all over that like a fat boy on cake. Like Perfect, it proved hard to find but I searched high and low, determined to track down a copy.
Note: The text in that picture was originally written in May of 2008. Today, May 11, 2016, it’s close to 17 (!) years now.
It took a while to finally arrive, but arrive in fashion it did. Tearing the envelope open, a card fell out… I made THEIR day? More like they had made mine!
GameWorld was a small chain of Texas-based game stores. I’m pretty sure they’re long defunct by now. I ran into a few gamers online over the years who worked for them and had some pretty interesting tales too…
I still remember the moment vividly when the game arrived. It was an early summer afternoon, 4th of July, 1999, ironically exactly two years on the dot since the Saturn port’s release (4th of July, 1997). At around 1 the UPS man knocked on my door. I popped the game in my Saturn and nearly cried tears of joy as adrenaline overtook my every being. I now owned two Saturn games and not just any two, but two dear childhood favorites whose sequels I had yet to play. Almost too good to be true, and for me, a slice of gaming heaven. Would you believe that for the next two years, I lived off just World Heroes Perfect and Fighter’s History Dynamite? True story. That either makes me nuts or just plain freakin’ sad. Probably both.
An appropriate release date in a pretty obvious way, but also a surprising one in another way. It’s fitting for a game with DYNAMITE to be released on the 4th of July. And how ironic that it arrived on the 4th of July — two years after its release. It’s scary how these unplanned things happen. [Tell me and the wifey about it! -Ed.]. The surprising thing about this release though is that the arcade came out in early-mid ’94, so why even bother porting over such an “old” game by 4th of July, 1997? And it’s not like this game lit up the arcade scene back in 1994! It remains something of a mystery. But hey, I surely wasn’t complaining! I was just happy to own both World Heroes Perfect and Fighter’s History Dynamite. Two games from two of my most beloved series growing up… all mine to play at any time I want… it was almost too good to be true!
WELCOME TO PLANET SEGA SATURN
My gaming life, so to speak, all changed in January 2001. For two years, I lived off Perfect and Dynamite. I probably played one or the other once a week or so. I never really thought of expanding my Saturn horizons, as odd as that may seem. I was, pardon the pun, perfectly content with World Heroes Perfect and Fighter’s History Dynamite. I’m set for life, right?
That all changed one night in January of 2001.
At my buddy’s house to study for a HUGE physics exam, I saw a Saturn lying on the ground. I nearly fell over. Remember, the PlayStation was all the rage back then, and by 2001 the Saturn was a long, LONG afterthought.
“Hey — you’re the first person I know who has one too,” I said, pointing to his Saturn. I tried to sound as casual as I could about it. After all, it wasn’t too cool to be pro-Saturn in the year 2001. Still, I probably didn’t do a very good job of that, as it WAS quite cool to see someone else owning a Saturn in the year 2001.
“Oh yeah? I haven’t touched the thing in years.”
What’s this? I noticed Street Fighter Alpha 2 and Bust-A-Move 2 beside the system, both games looking pretty in their big bulky cases… seeing them triggered something inside of me that I thought was long dead. Suddenly, I felt very excited about games again… beyond just the two fighting games I had at that point.
“I still play my Saturn,” I managed to bravely admit. “Though it’s been a while.” It was true. It had been months since I played Perfect or Dynamite. Love them as I did, two years is a long time to play JUST two games.
“If you want some of the games, go ahead. Take some. It’s cool.”
I nearly fell over. “I can’t do that, man.”
“No, go for it. Really. I don’t play them anymore. Plus I never even bought any of them to begin with.”
“I can’t, really, but thanks…”
“… I’ll just take these two,” I said quickly as the moment overtook me. I lured Street Fighter Alpha 2 and Bust-A-Move 2 out of the pile. I remember seeing BUG! but not giving a damn whatsoever about it. I just wanted some Street Fighter and BAM 2 action!
The rest of the study session I found it difficult to focus on atoms or Murphy’s Law, and who could blame me. The moment of truth arrived when I came home and fired the games up, one by one. I cheered for every successful Dragon Punch, and I cringed for every “NO! I AIMED THE FREAKIN’ BUBBLE THERE, NOT THERE!” moment.
Street Fighter Alpha 2 in particular blew me away. It played so smoothly and had just the right amount of style and substance. Playing Bust-A-Move 2 was like being back at an arcade hall, plopping a quarter into a simple but delightful puzzler to tide me over until the lines for the latest fighting game died down a bit… ahh, good times.
It was an unbelievable arcade-like experience I had that fine evening. It made me think about what other gems this system has to offer…
As they say, the rest is history.
FUNCOLAND STRIKES AGAIN, NOT BACK
Back in the mid ’90s there used to be a chain of stores across the land known as FuncoLand. It sold mostly used games. You could play games there, and many systems were featured. You could trade in games. Many gamers have varying opinions and memories of FuncoLand, but it’s mostly always been pretty good to me, so I can’t complain too much. My theory was simple: Bring $20, browse for 10 minutes to see if there’s anything worth grabbing, and then get the hell out.
The very next month, February 2001, I was driving to Uncle Jimmy’s house to visit him and my cousin David when I saw FuncoLand’s big bright, colorful, neon sign calling out to me in the dark of the night. I remember being awed by their large luminous sign and being ecstatic about what Sega Saturn gems I might find inside. There I saw World Series Baseball II for just $3.99 and Galactic Attack for $4.99, both disc only. I didn’t hesitate to pluck both of them.
There was also Quake and Fighters Megamix for $9.99 each but I passed (disc only). The clerk gave me a bewildered look when he saw me bringing World Series Baseball II and Galactic Attack to the counter.
“You still playing the Saturn?”
“No… kinda just starting in a way,” I said with a little grin.
He looked at me like I was crazy. And maybe I was… but damnit, if I was crazy, I was gonna have a good time.
Now I had six games in my collection. My library tripled in two short weeks prior to the two years I owned only Perfect and Dynamite! I couldn’t wait to try out Galactic Attack and World Series Baseball II. The sense of thrill of adding more quality titles to the ole collection became an addiction in every respect of the word.
Leaving my newly acquired Saturn games in my glove compartment, I made my way to my uncle’s house. They had to make a run at the grocery store. Told me I could join them or stay back and surf the net.
I stayed back. On that chilly February night of 2001, I searched for info (read: reviews) on my two new Saturn acquisitions. I’ll never forget the moment that evening when I stumbled upon . . .
My God — hundreds of user reviews! US and Japanese game reviews. The freakin’ works! I was absolutely floored by what they had on offer. I read through all the World Series Baseball II and Galactic Attack reviews until my cousins came back. It thrilled me to read all the good things the reviewers had to say about those two games. Over the years, I frequently referred back to the reviews found on sega-saturn dot com, either before purchasing a game, or just after playing it. Usually it was the latter; reading what others thought of certain games and then comparing that to how I felt was all part of the fun of buying and playing all the Saturn games that I did… and MAN was it a lot of fun.
I’ve definitely read one too many JM Vargas and Dark Falcon reviews! Those guys effin’ rock. Wherever you two are out there in the vastness of cyberspace, I salute y’all. Goes to show you how voice in reviews can go a long way to leaving lasting impressions. Some odd 15 years later, I still remember JM Vargas and Dark Falcon fondly, as well as their friendly ribbing and in-review in-jokes tossed at one another. Good times. You felt as if you knew them. Perhaps the best compliment a writer can ever hope to receive.
My 15 minutes of fame came when I wrote a review for Sega-Saturn.com myself on February 23, 2001. Can you guess which game?
I was so moved by seeing all the Saturn reviews on the site that I knew I wanted to contribute some of my own. Besides, there was one review of Perfect already up and I felt the guy (fastguy, to be precise) did it wrong. I had to get my viewpoint out there. Looking back, I’m proud to have been a small part of that awesome site. I keep waiting for a successor, but year after year I always find myself disappointed. There may never be another Saturn fansite quite like it.
I also submitted one for Fighter’s History Dynamite the very next day as well (February 24, 2001). Those two reviews that I wrote were actually among the final four or so that was ever published by the site. Seeing my two reviews go up live that Saturday evening, I felt so excited and proud. The reviewing craze was born! Yes, before the days of YouTube, people used to write gaming reviews. Nuts, I know!
SO, WHATEVER HAPPENED TO FIRE PRO?
Ah, I’m glad you asked. Funnily enough, I never did buy a copy for my brother. And the reason was he no longer wanted it. His same wrestling e-fed group was now raving about the PlayStation version, Fire Pro G. My bro focused on that instead since he was always a PlayStation guy at heart. Go figure!
We played the shit outta Fire Pro G. I loved it as much as he did. AWESOME game. But I owe a lot to Six Men Scramble. Were it not for this game, I probably never would have pursued a Saturn, and I probably would have lost touch with video gaming altogether. Seriously. Yet because of this one game, I went on to have six WONDERFUL years with the Saturn. In 2003 I went ahead and bought a copy for myself. It only felt right.
In late ’98 X-Men vs. Street Fighter was ALL the rage. I remember it being talked about in hushed tones. There were really two Saturn imports making a ton of noise online at that time. This and…
I have not played Saturn World Heroes Perfect or Fighter’s History Dynamite for a good number of years now. Not because I don’t want to, but because there’s still so much SNES goodness I want to experience. But, I know there will come a day where that itch will come calling. And I shall answer and scratch. From two Saturn games owned, to eventually, around 350, I have had quite the experience with the Sega Saturn. It’s my second favorite system of all time, and it’s the reason why I’m here now, probably.
A part of me still can’t believe this twist of fate: I started out loving World Heroes and Fighter’s History in the arcade and later the SNES, but never got to play the last game in each series until 1999 with the Saturn. That was around the same time my brother and I donated our SNES to our cousin, David. Many years later, 2006 to be precise, I got back into the SNES, bought copies of the originals, and to this day still love playing any one of them. It feels like I’ve come full circle with this hobby in a way.
With the Sega Saturn turning 21 here in the States today, as FOB once sang, thanks for the memories. While I’ll never view the Saturn with quite the same awe as I did those six years from 1999-2005, it’ll always have a special spot in my gaming heart. Long live the Sega Saturn!