Rendering Ranger: R2 (SFC)

One expensive mutha...
One expensive mutha…

On September 7, 2006, I acquired a cart only version of Rendering Ranger: R2 for a “measly” 90 dollars. I say measly because today, more than 10 years later, a cartridge only copy goes for well over $500. In fact, there is a copy on eBay right now with a Buy It Now of $950, damn. A boxed copy goes in the thousands. Why? This game is really rare. In fact, the R2 might not stand for Rendering Ranger but rather “really rare.” Rumor has it there were only a few thousand copies released.

Rendering Ranger was developed by a man named Manfred Trenz (Turrican creator). R2 originally started out as a pure horizontal space shooter. Some time during development they worked in run ‘n gun stages due to the popularity of the genre. They felt a pure space shooter wouldn’t sell real well. R2 is a mixture of Contra (or Turrican) and R-Type. The game was in development for nearly 3 years.

It’s a visual tour-de-force. “This is the Super Nintendo?!” was my reaction multiple times. In certain sections I even thought, “You could pass this for a Sega Saturn title!” Even when the screen is swarmed with countless sprites, there’s no slowdown… none!

Let’s take a closer look at the action.


Lots of planes and debris zip by in the background. Mid-way through a huge plane crashes in Mode 7, destroying half the tracks. These flying foot soldiers make up the bulk of the enemy line in level one. It’s fun to watch them flash before exploding.

Stay underneath and away from the flaming pod. These suckers sure take a licking.

Save your bombs for the boss
Trust me on that one


A quick jaunt outside before entering the enemy base.

Take the lift down. As you descend, flames and drillers attack. Make your way deeper in the base. Doors fall down (reminds me of the classic HANGAR stage in NES Contra). Blow ‘em up. Stationary machines hang from the ceilings and threaten with their deadly flame throwers. No boss here. Board the space ship…


Shades of Thunder Force III

Enter the giant asteroid field and mow down anything that moves. Be careful — the big ones segment into four smaller pieces when shot at.

Claustrophobic much?
Look at those visuals!

This guy has two forms, the bugger! There’s one of your bomb options on display. I like this particular one because of the wide range it covers.


Reminiscent of Radiant Silvergun

Trekking deeper in the outer reaches of space, there’s no turning back now. To call the graphics here “mind blowing” would be a gross understatement. My goodness… this is the *16-BIT* Super Nintendo, right?

No slowdown whatsoever

Huge fleets of ships attack at all times. You really have to see it running to comprehend how amazingly fluid this game moves, without a hint of slowdown in sight. It’s truly remarkable!

Oh boy…
Now that’s an entrance
You pissed him off…
Say hello to mah little friend!


After a spirited battle in the air we’re back at it on foot. More doors await to be blown to bits. There’s something oddly satisfying about the flashing effect. It takes me back to the good ol’ 8-bit NES era. Rocksteady from TMNT II, anyone?

This particular gun works extremely well in tight confined spaces such as this.

Not one, not two…
… but 3 bosses in stage 5


Back to those so-called “friendly” skies. Intimidating fortresses must be dissected section by section. Stage 6 really reminds me an awful lot of SENGOKU BLADE (Sega Saturn).


Red Falcon, eat your heart out

Best stage intro ever. An ominous swirly almost mirage-like image of a gargantuan crimson demon skull fades in and out… foreshadowing? My lips are sealed…

I’m absolutely speechless

This dip from outer space to the metropolitan city at night is mind-blowing. “This is the Super Nintendo!?” rang through my head for the umpteenth time.


This bit is so damn evil

This is where the game decides to knock you down, kick you, then point and laugh. An evil descent sends you through a lengthy force-scrolling section with VERY tight turns and small openings.

IT SCROLLS REALLY FAST. Even the most clairvoyant gamer will find himself at the Game Over screen in no time. Those stones make matters even worse — if you have weak guns fudgetabudit. Suffice it to say…. GOOD LUCK!


  • Whether on foot or in the air, you can take 5 hits before losing a life (3, 5 or 7 lives)
  • 8 character passwords are provided after each level is completed
  • 3 bars allow you to use 3 bombs. The bars are regenerative and slowly refill once used
  • Each gun has its own unique bomb (i.e. wave, sphere, etc.) Some are more effective than others
  • Various container units hold invaluable power-up goodies or energy refill
  • There’s not a lick of Japanese, though there may be in the ending
  • Not really difficult… until stage 8, where things just get crazy
  • When you lose a life, the gun you were last holding will be downgraded. So if you have a weak level 1 weapon, make sure you switch to that when your health is really low
  • Did I mention the graphics are really amazing?


So, is it worth it?

The first stage is kind of dull, but it really picks up after that. It’s not a masterpiece (sans graphically of course) but it’s very playable and the bosses are great fun to dismantle bit by bit. The password feature is nice since the levels are REALLY long. Mostly thanks to the fact that some of the bosses take FOREVER to kill. Only you can answer the question for yourself whether this game is worth the enormous price tag or not. It’s impressive to watch this game in motion. Zero slowdown as dozens and dozens of sprites are flying your way at breakneck speed. All in all, Rendering Ranger is a solid game but definitely geared toward collectors. I appreciate the effort to split this game into two different genres, but there are better run and gun games and better SHMUPS on the SNES than what you get here. At the price it commands you might be a little disappointed that it doesn’t cook breakfast! Or at the very least, be in the upper echelon of Super Nintendo gaming.

Mickey Tokyo Disneyland (SFC)

A land of magic...
A land of magic…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Check out this cool trick

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


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

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


Love that classic Mickey look

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

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

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

Action starts to get hot…

[Seriously? You’re FIRED… -Ed.]

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

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

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

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

What a perfect starry night

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

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

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


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


*hums Indy theme*


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


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



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


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

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

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

Fighter’s History: Mizoguchi Kiki Ippatsu!! (SFC)

It was love at first sight
It was love at first sight

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…

You can also read it on this site
You can also read it on this site

It’s a true story that was featured in Rob Strangman’s 2014 book “Memoirs of a Virtual Caveman” (which can be found on, 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.

There IS a God
There IS a God

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:

Conjures such nostalgic memories for me!
Conjures such nostalgic memories for me!

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:

Yes, only 8. Boo!
Yes, only 8. Boo!

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.

Chelnov lives!
Chelnov lives!

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.

Can now be done mid-air
Can now be done mid-air
Deja Vu...
Deja Vu…


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.

I love the basic simplicity of the original backgrounds
I love the look of the original backgrounds


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…

Some stages transition
Some stages transition
Always a nice touch
Always a nice touch
Hate his stage's music
Hate his stage music

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.


The trophy is mine!
“The trophy is mine!”
"Not so damn fast!"
“Not so damn fast!”
Chelnov looks so badass
Chelnov looks so badass


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.

The two battle all night long
The two battle all night long


Yes, the goofy announcer is back. “MIZOGUCHI… LOSES!”

It's a battle of the 'Novs!
It’s a battle of the ‘Novs!



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.

Pick the stage you want
Pick the stage you want


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.

Be back in 5
Be back in 5


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!


That's gonna hurt
That’s gonna hurt

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 :P

The Summer of Imports

Culled from Memoirs of a Virtual Caveman
Culled from Memoirs of a Virtual Caveman

This is a story of how a best friend, one groovy dad and some enticing imports made the summer of 1994 one for the ages. As a kid, I’d always dreamt of having one perfect summer. And 22 years ago… I found it. Some summers stay with you forever. Some more than others. On any given hot, lazy June Saturday afternoon, I still can’t help but think back to that fateful day. It was a summer of discovery… a summer of magicTHE SUMMER OF IMPORTS. There’s something about summer and gaming that goes together; especially though, when we were kids. There was a magic to it.

Ahhh -- childhood summer memories
You just needed your best friend + some good games

Nothing completes a healthy childhood quite like sharing it with a best friend. While I had my legendary out-of-town gaming crew, I was fortunate enough to have a best friend outside of that group, Nelson, who lived within walking distance. We grew up together being best friends since Kindergarten. He and I were often in the same class together and we shared the same interest in just about everything. We spent a bulk of our weekends hanging out and playing games. Whenever I think back to my childhood or to the glory days of gaming, inevitably, Nelson always comes to mind.

Read more about my adventures with Nelly here
Read more about my adventures with Nelly

I’d like to take a moment to pay my respects to the memory of renting games back in the ‘90s. Every weekend my dad would take me to the local rental store(s) and I would pluck out one title to bring back home. My brother, Kevin, was too shy or embarrassed (or both) to go rent games, so he always made me his little grunt to carry out the deed. Though I was renting the games he wanted (well, at least most of the time…) there was always something magical to those pseudo-adventures my dad and I shared. It was a weekly tradition, rain or shine. Sometimes, even Nelly would join me on those renting excursions. And there was one such instance that happened 22 years ago that left an indelible mark on us, making that summer one he and I would never forget.

The year was 1994, and as the final piercing school bell of that year rang, the euphoric cries of 800 kids rang out even louder. We all knew what stood ahead: 2 and a ½ relentless months of splendid carefree summer days: no teachers, no homework, and no school to interfere with our final days of childhood. As much as I love the fall and winter seasons for Halloween and Christmas, there is nothing… and I mean NOTHING… like summer time, especially when you had a best friend like Nelson to share it with. He and I had just finished the 5th grade together. It was the best year of my childhood. My best friend was in my class; we had Mr. G, the best teacher ever; we had the two hottest girls in our class, Elaine and Jennifer, and Nelson and I were simply at the top of our game. We were 10 years old, going on 11 that summer. We had come of age, and that summer was one for the ages.

Nelson rode his bike over the very first Saturday morning of that summer and my dad drove us to Game Hunter. Game Hunter was a legendary privately owned video game rental store. It was renowned in my neck of the woods for catering to the diehard gamer. Game Hunter didn’t bother to waste time with movies. It had every video gaming system library under the sun from the 8-bit Nintendo to the Neo Geo. Being able to actually touch and pick up those classic bulky Neo Geo boxes was incredible. Game Hunter even housed an arcade machine or two, plus they had a small anime section. How many stores could claim that?! Simply put, Game Hunter was a little slice of gaming paradise.

Imports as far as the eye could see
Imports as far as the eye could see

But, what made them stand out was their unforgettable import selection. Back then, imports symbolized a whole lot more than merely just the Japanese version of a game. Indeed, back then, imports held a certain aura of mystique to them, especially when you read all the little blurbs on those games in Electronic Gaming Monthly and DieHard GameFan on a monthly basis, realizing that they were an ocean away and that you would never even so much as sniff one. Seeing a wall covered by hundreds of Super Famicom boxes never failed to amaze my little ten year old eyes. They sat on the very top shelf, purposely out of reach. It was symbolic, even. They would cover the entire upper wall from left to right. You were completely mesmerized as your eyeballs darted from one treasure to another. It was a never-ending parade of divine, exotic esctasy. These were games that were either Japanese exclusives, or Japanese versions of games that were set to hit American soil a month or two later. It was nothing short of magical, and a time in my life that I’ll always cherish.

*** FLASH BACK TO LATE 1992 ***

The import that started the whole craze
The import that started the whole craze

Game Hunter’s origins began innocently enough on what appeared to be just another ordinary Saturday morning. But as fate would have it, this particular Saturday morning was anything but. My dad and I were set to embark on our latest renting escapade together. But first we had to stop by my cousin’s house which was a good 15 minutes away. After that my dad needed to run an errand at the local drug store a block from my cousin’s house. I didn’t mind as I always enjoyed being out with my dad, especially after a long school week. Little did I know that fateful morning I would stumble upon GAME HUNTER. The store was decked out from top to bottom with video games from every system imaginable. You had the 8-bit Nintendo, Neo Geo, handheld games and everything else under the sun. I wasn’t a religious kid but I’m pretty sure I thanked God right then and there.

Power Moves (U)_00003

I made my way over to the SNES section looking for my brother’s requested title of choice. When I happened to gaze up, I discovered the upper shelf teeming with hypnotic Super Famicom imports. At that point, all bets were off as I had officially gone rogue. Sorry, Kevin. Power Athlete caught my eye. My dad lifted it off the top shelf and I examined the back of the box. It was a Street Fighter II clone. Sold! My dad obliged and that day I came home with the Japanese version of Power Moves. My brother flipped out because A). I disobeyed him and B). we found out that it didn’t even play on our Super Nintendo; it refused to fit inside the cartridge slot. I had never seen my brother so damn angry before. I promptly called Game Hunter to let them know of my plight, and they explained how I had to rent the device that allows one to play import games on an American SNES. Yeah thanks guy, you could have warned me about that before I left. Yeah, let’s just say Game Hunter was never known for their stellar customer service. But, much like how one goes to Five Guys for greasy goodness, we went to Game Hunter for their legendary and vast gaming library. After all, nobody goes to a concert for meditation.


Luckily, they still had one in stock and said they would hold it for me. So, being the great father that my old man was, we traveled back to Game Hunter to pick it up. This time, even my brother came along as he himself wanted to come see this new store that I’d hyped to the moon. Once there, our pops rented the special converter adapter for a dollar while Kevin and I stood there gawking at the import selection. The very next week, he and I went back and we picked up our 2nd import game, The Combatribes. We had fun terminating Martha Splatterhead and her sleazy gangs. Game Hunter became our new favorite store. It was revered within my gaming circle for damn good reason.

*** BACK TO JUNE 1994 ***

It was like witnessing the Holy Grail
It was like witnessing the Holy Grail

There Nelson and I stood, eyes popping, drool coming down the side of our mouths. On the very top shelf sat the Super Famicom ports of Fighter’s History, King of the Monsters 2 and Saturday Night Slam Masters (Japanese name Muscle Bomber). These were 3 arcade-to-SNES conversions that Nelson and I were dying to play! And on that idyllic June Saturday morning there they stood right before our very eyes. Their US counterparts were still weeks, even months away! After a brief moment of dead silence, Nelson and I looked at each other in astonishment. And just like how it was over a year ago when I first saw Power Athlete, at that precise moment in time I’d forgotten whatever game my brother wanted me to rent. Once more, I had gone rogue.

Who didn't want to use Karnov in a fighting game?
Who didn’t want to use Karnov in a fighting game?

The only “dilemma” was picking which one of those three games to rent. The indispensable thing about having your best friend along with you meant he could rent one and you could rent one. Nelson was adamant on choosing Fighter’s History, the infamous Street Fighter II clone that Capcom even attempted to sue. I was plenty happy about that as I loved Fighter’s History in the arcades and was long anticipating the SNES port. I always felt the game was a bit underrated. Good pick Nelly! Now it was my turn. King of the Monsters 2 or Muscle Bomber?

Who didn't want to use Haggar in a wrestling game?
Who didn’t want to use Haggar in a wrestling game?

I had played Saturday Night Slam Masters a good bit in the arcades. I adored Capcom’s representation of the zany pro wrestling world cranked to the 10th degree, thanks to Slam Masters’ comic book-like violence and über-wacky wrestlers that were even MORE outrageous than those found in the WWF. After all, few things can rival spewing venomous mist into someone’s eyes, or piledrivering bastards into oblivion all over the globe with Metro City’s mayor! It was a tough call at first, but then I remembered something…

Time to put my great white whale to rest!
Time to put my great white whale to rest!

King of the Monsters 2 and I were like two SHIPS PASSING IN THE NIGHT. Somehow, we always missed one another. I never played the arcade once. As a staunch supporter of the original, I was dying to FINALLY play the sequel. From 1992 to 1994, finding a King of the Monsters 2 arcade became my white whale, so to speak. None of the local arcades had it for whatever reason. And the one time that I did find it, it was at an arcade hall 2 hours away from home, but of course the machine was broken. That sums it up perfectly. It was that one game that somehow always managed to elude me. Standing there with a choice between Saturday Night Slam Masters or my great white whale, King of the Monsters 2, it dawned on me suddenly which one I was going to pick.

As Nelson and I rode home in the backseat talking excitedly about our import finds, it dawned on me that I soon had to face the music. The last time I went rogue and rebelled against my brother he did everything but tear up the house. But I figured with Nelson by my side, maybe Kevin would be less demonstrative. After all, in public or whenever there were guests, Kevin had no choice but to uphold a certain degree of decorum. Nelson knew this even without my having to ask him for backup. That’s how close we were. Like I said at the beginning, nothing completes a healthy childhood quite like having a best friend support you through thick and thin. He gave me a nod as my dad pulled into the driveway; I knew he had my back. The moment of truth had arrived. My dad went inside the house as Nelly and I stood there on the driveway — import games in hand.

We were delaying the inevitable. But there’s a reason they call it the inevitable.

“Did you get it??” my brother asked excitedly as he came to the door a minute later.

“Uhhh, no. But I got this,” I stammered, handing the game over to him as if it were an adequate consolation prize. It wasn’t.

King of the Monsters 2?!” A mixture of shock and disgust filled his voice. “Was my game there for rent or not?” His eyes, which had turned into burning coal, burrowed its way deep in my soul.

The infamous scene of the crime
The infamous scene of the crime

I could easily have lied, “No, your game was rented out.” But I was a straight shooter. In hindsight… maybe I was being foolish. But I had made my choice to disobey my brother. The least I could do was be honest about it. When I told him I forgot to look for his title once Nelson and I caught sight of the imports, my brother lost control. The scary thing was all this happened even in front of Nelson. I can only imagine how much crazier it would have been without Nelson there next to me. My brother flipped out, stomping and screaming expletives like a drunken sailor. Then he ran to my room, sprinted back and threw my Crash Dummy break-apart plush buddy, Spin, out the door. It smacked me in the face with such velocity that the head flew off its shoulders. Thank goodness it was just plush! Nelly retrieved the head which had rolled onto my front lawn and placed it back on Spin’s headless Velcro neck. You would have thought that I killed my brother’s puppy or something. He stormed off, leaving the door open. You know those parts in action movies where the guy says, “Don’t you think this is a trap?” Yeah. I took one glance inside and then back at Nelson. Once again, without even having to say a word, he knew. Just to confirm, he said, “Um… let’s go back to my place for a while…”

Thank God it was plush
Thank God it was plush

Shoot, you don’t gotta tell me twice! I fled the crime scene faster than OJ Simpson.

Walking back to Nelly's house
Walking back to Nelly’s house

And so it was. On the first Saturday afternoon of my last carefree childhood summer, I found myself walking with Nelly to his house. He clutched his copy of Fighter’s History while I held King of the Monsters 2, along with my Crash Dummy action buddy, Spin. I’m sure we were a sight for sore eyes. As soon as we got out of viewing distance, Nelson started trash talking my bro. One might think I would happily join in to pile on, but no. Like a battered victim of Stockholm syndrome, I actually defended my brother a little bit. Hey, blood is blood, no? Sure my bro could be a little rough around the edges, and there were plenty of times where I wished he could have been more quixtoic and slow to anger, but you don’t get to choose family. I mean, sure, he could snap every once in a while, but he wasn’t a bad guy, or a psycho or anything. Nelson couldn’t believe I was defending Kevin. Finally the matter was dropped as his house came into view. Suddenly, the excitement of our import snags revived us. We were about to play two arcade conversions not anyone else in the entire town had, so that made us, as far as we were concerned, the two luckiest sumbitches that weekend  ^_^

There are some gaming images you'll never forget
There are some gaming images you’ll never forget

We wasted no time firing up Nelly’s Super Nintendo. We threw in Fighter’s History first and took turns wasting the computer opponents. We were both impressed by how faithful it was to the arcade original. There was a simplicity to the game that Nelson and I found to be charming. To this day I can’t play Fighter’s History without remembering that fateful Saturday afternoon at Nelly’s. It was so hot that we propped open the living room windows and left the front door wide open. Lee’s stage is SEARED into my retina. That peaceful and calm lake, the family of ducks nibbling away, a fisherman enjoying the great outdoors with his line dipped lazily in the water, and those picture-esque moss-covered hills in the background. Finally, a formation of clouds move their way through the sky in a very haunting and majestic manner. This bucolic stage SCREAMS June 1994 to me. It’s an incredibly nostalgic sight and anytime I see it, I’m transported right back to Nelson’s living room 22 years ago. This stage perfectly captures that whole time frame for me. One look and it feels like I’m 10 hanging out with my best friend on a hot June Saturday afternoon all over again.


Then we swapped it out for King of the Monsters 2. He chose Cyber Woo (the King Kong doppelgänger) and I picked Super Geon (the Godzilla lookalike). We waded our way through the various cities demolishing everything in sight. Beating all the bosses 2-on-1 handicap style made for mindless monster mash ‘em up fun. Finally, after several hours of switching between the two games, late afternoon descended upon us and we agreed that maybe Kevin had cool down by now. Nelson headed back with me. We couldn’t hide out at Nelly’s forever. The only question left… was Kevin still pissed?

It was the longest walk of my life
It was the longest walk of my life
I was SHOCKED to my bone all right...
I was SHOCKED to my bone all right…

I found out that day that miracles exist when Kevin no longer wanted to kill me. Instead, he wanted to kill giant alien monsters from outer space. It’s funny how we each had our own pet favorite. Nelson liked Cyber Woo, I dug Super Geon and my brother was all about Atomic Guy. The three of us rotated turns and passed off the controller whenever one of us died. On some stages it was Kevin and me. At other times it was Nelly and me. There was even Kevin and Nelson. Seeing them laughing together as they trashed the Grand Canyon was pretty cool. A few hours ago no one could have predicted this outcome. Now watching the two of them working together as one cohesive unit, you never would have thought there was any kind of beef there. It was poetic, even. And of all the gaming memories I harbor, that one remains, still to this day, one of the sweetest ones. It’s a reminder of how gaming has a strange way of bringing people together.

Saturday night's alright for fighting
Saturday night’s alright for fighting

The three of us played King of the Monsters 2 and Fighter’s History to death that unforgettable weekend, before returning them both late on Sunday evening. I told my brother we also saw Saturday Night Slam Masters. He grew pale at the mention, being a Slam Masters fanatic. We’d played it tons in the arcade. He ordered me to go rent it the next weekend. This time in particular, I was more than happy to carry out his command. No fat chance of me going rogue, as Slam Masters was also right up my alley with its outlandishly wacky wrestlers and frenetic 4-player mayhem. Giant foam fingers, flashing cameras, comic book moves come to life, and Mike F’N Haggar, made Saturday Night Slam Masters or in this case, Muscle Bomber, one fantastic brawl-for-all.


In Loving Memory of Game Hunter
In Loving Memory of GAME HUNTER

Game Hunter eventually closed shop in the late ’90s as rental stores started to become more and more a thing of the past — they were fast going the way of the dinosaur. While their service wasn’t always top-notch, I’ll always remember them fondly for their import selection. Game Hunter arrived during a precious period of my childhood, and at a special time in gaming when renting games blindly and taking weekend trips with your old man was all part of the magic and wonder of the hobby. Sometimes the game you wanted was rented out at the first two or three rental stores, so you had to go to your 4th or 5th option around town to find it.. It just meant more hunting and more quality time spent with your old man. I’ll never forget those days when my dad and I would hit up all the rental stores every Saturday afternoon, rain or shine. They symbolized a simpler time in my life. A time where bills, junk emails and clogged six-lane highways didn’t yet exist. The renting relics of my youth were more than just brick and mortar. They are deeply embedded in what made gaming as a child so magical and wondrous. I’m so thankful I was able to enjoy it with a best pal like Nelson.


It was a howling good time
It was a howling good time

The summer of 1994 was memorable for many reasons. It’s hard to believe those halcyon days are over twenty years old now. I credit Game Hunter, the Super Nintendo and Nelson for helping to create so many fond memories. It was in large part thanks to those three that made summer of ’94, the last carefree summer of my childhood, bar none, the best one I had as a kid.

Battle Cross (SFC)

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

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

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

Speaking of which, let’s take a look.


  • Laser (press R to shoot)

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

  • Speed Up (automatic)

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

  • Matchless (automatic)

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

  • Land Mine (Y)

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

  • Nitro (X)

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

  • Missile (R)

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

  • Weight (R)

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

  • Turn Over (R)

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

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

Three game modes: Battle, Grand Prix and Practice.

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

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

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

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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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


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

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

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

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

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

-Never a hint of slowdown

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

Thanks for what!
Those silly Japanese


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

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


Overall: 7.5
Bronze Award

Majyuuou (SFC)

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Pop their heads off!
Pop their heads off!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I hate being right
I hate being right (sometimes)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

AwardOverall: 7.5
Bronze Award

DoReMi Fantasy (SFC)

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

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

Milon from Milon’s Secret Castle

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

Amazing set piece!

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

Be the star, find the star

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


Pinpoint control

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

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


So unique and bizarre…

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

Reach for the stars, kid

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

Always wear protection…

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


Hey, the sermon wasn’t that bad

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

Lovely transparent curtains!


Ah, back to platforming tropes

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

5. ICE

Ooooh. Ahhhh

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

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

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


Generic? Sure. Fun? You betcha

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


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


Insanely colorful visuals

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

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


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

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


What a blockhead…

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

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

Overall: 9.0

Gold Award
Gold Award

Godzilla: Kaijuu Daikessen (SFC)

The game to blame for my obscure Super Famicom fetish
Of Monsters and Mothra

It’s been nearly 10 years since my “Obscure Super Famicom Impressions” thread hit the internet (September 2006). Every two to three days I posted new mini reviews on lesser known Super Famicom exclusive games. The topic became a bigger hit than I ever dreamed it would, and sparked much retro gaming discourse on the forums. While I wasn’t the first guy to ever cover these import titles, my topic did open the door for a lot of people who had never seen or heard of them before. Many suggested I start a fansite to preserve my reviews. Message board posts tend to get buried over time and thus fade into obscurity. The overwhelming compliments and encouragement I received to start my own fansite became a driving force. That’s how my original site,, came to be. To celebrate the 10 year anniversary of my obscure SFC mini reviews, I’m going to begin converting them over here one by one. And I can’t think of a better game to kick it off with than the first game that started it all for me.

Ever been curious about a game for 12 years? This was mine...
Ever been curious about a game for 12 years? This was mine…

I’ll never forget that sunny day back in June 1994 when EGM #60 arrived. During their prime, few things could rival the sheer joy generated from finding a brand new issue sitting in your mailbox. Oh yeah, once upon a time EGM was THAT good.

Imagine this scene: school was out. Summer was in full bloom. You had your trusty best friend and a full two months ahead of you for nothing but long, lazy days of horror movie and video gaming marathons. Super Street Fighter II and Mortal Kombat II were all the rage. Both were coming out soon and you just knew you were experiencing the very peak of 16-bit gaming. It was a hell of a time to be a ten year old kid!

January 2006. It was the Winter Break before my final college semester. I suddenly longed for some Super Nintendo action. The next several months saw me buying old favorites and gems left and right. Then at some point I remembered that day back in June ’94…

Flipping excitedly through the magazine, there it was on page 76.

The game that eluded me for 12 years! The EGM preview had me drooling like a fool

I love Godzilla. I love fighting games. It was a match made in Heaven.

Only one problem, of course.

Raking in a grand total of a whoppin’ two dollars a week, the game, being an enchanted import, seemed simply unattainable. Nowadays import is just another version of a game, but back then the word import actually held a certain mystique. You drooled at the cool previews and knew if anyone owned those games, in those times, that they were unequivocably HARDCORE.

So how does GODZILLA: KAIJUU DAIKESSEN stack up?

Pretty damn well.

You’re not going to find many combos or a whole lot of finesse, but considering the material it’s only fitting. The game relies on special moves a lot.

X = Weak Attack
Y = Strong Attack
B = Hold (grapple then press varying D-Pad combinations i.e. D, F to toss or bite)
A = Dash


There are two bars to keep an eye on. The Stun Meter and the WRATH spirit.

When hit, your stun and WRATH meter increases. When your stun meter’s full, you’ll be knocked out temporarily. When your WRATH is full, your monster will flash red and remain so until you either get stunned, or apply your Wrath attack.

Wrath attacks are basically “Desperation Moves.” Desperation moves became very common place in fighting games post-1993. Wrath attacks can inflict INCREDIBLE damage, instantly changing the tide of a match.

Some have two Wrath moves

When you’re in Wrath mode, attack damage (regular or special moves) nearly double. This creates a bit of strategy: do you go for your big move right away, or do you hold off and take advantage of the extra power? If you do the latter, you risk the possibility of being stunned and thus losing your Wrath move altogether. It’s prudent, then, to always keep an eye on your stun meter. The worst insult is when the opponent stops you in mid-animation of a Wrath move. Or if they jump away or over it. Management of one’s Wrath usually decides the outcome of a battle.

“Look ma! No strings!”

There are eight selectable monsters in the 1 player mode, and nine in the 2 player versus mode (with two being unlockable). Let’s take a look at them, shall we?


The KING of the monsters
The KING of the monsters

The big guy is a solid all-around choice. His ray works in mid-air as a bonus. Ideal for beginners.
WRATH: Hyper Atomic Ray
Damage: 46% (55% if up close stuns the opponent)
Godzilla’s body surges in a orange rage before unleashing his devastating death blow. Simple, but nevertheless satisfying.


Godzilla's very first rival who later turned into a lovable and loyal ally
Godzilla’s very first rival (1955)

Staying true to source material, the spiked wonder has no projectiles. Beloved by G-Fans for his fighting spirit, it’ll take an experienced player to use him effectively.
WRATH: Thunder Ball
Damage: 45%
Not very strong (by comparison) and to boot it’s easy to see coming. Poor guy.


As a kid Gigan scared the crap out of me
As a kid he scared the crap out of me

His laser eye beam exists! (Inside joke for the G-Fans out there). He’s the most combo-friendly fighter on the roster and the only one with a Dragon Punch (actually a Flash Kick). Gigan possesses a tremendous offensive repertoire.
WRATH: Buzzsaw Blitz
Damage: 53%
Gigan charges up to ½ the screen and unloads a blitzkrieg. Unblockable.


His movie gets hated on a lot but I enjoyed its tag team finale
Suck it, Beetlemania

Like Gigan and Godzilla, Megalon is very user-friendly. His torpedo-like attack can also be done in the air. When you hold down Strong Attack, Megalon’s driller-like hand spins and can score four solid hits.
WRATH: Armageddon
Damage: 64% (88% recorded on Biollante!!!)
Potentially the strongest move in the game, it’s a blessing it’s also real easy to avoid. I was speechless when it caused 88% damage to Biollante. Damn near ripped off her vines on that one!


Ah, the good old original beer belly MechaG
Beer belly MechaG!

Force field, missiles, laser-eye beams, chest beam, flight — all the powers you saw in the 1974 and ’75 movies are here. Many G-Fans to this day prefer this original pot belly version over its ’93 contemporary. Myself included.
WRATH: Violent Party
Damage: 55% + stuns opponent if everything hits.
MechaG unloads his entire arsenal! As seen in the movie :)


Godzilla's "Joker" if you will
Godzilla’s “Joker”

This huge 3-headed menace is a strong choice for beginners thanks to his overpowering brutality. For example, his laser beam can go LOW (right head), MIDDLE (middle head) or HIGH (left head). Input D, DF, F, attack. As he revs up, hold down for low, nothing for middle, and up for high. He’s as tough here as he was in the movies!
WRATH: Gravity Storm
Damage: 60% (68% if full-on)
One of the game’s most damaging Wrath attacks, Ghidorah unleashes Death From Above.


She's a beaut, well, in a monstrous sort of way
What a sprite!

What a hulking mass! She’s the game’s best sprite by a mile, which is saying a lot seeing as how the others are damn good in their own right. Bio cannot jump, just like in the 1989 movie. She’s also not the most agile sucker around. Therefore I find her somewhat difficult to control. Definitely one for the intermediate to advanced player.
WRATH: Acidic Shower
Damage: 55%
Very cool looking, does considerable damage and the two vines travel around ¾ the screen. After the vines spew acid on the victim, Bio unleashes a volley of acidic fireballs. OUCH!


Definitely 100x more fun to control here than she was in the NES game!
Better than she was in the NES game!

I was never a huge Mothra fan. But she’s fun to use. The only monster to constantly fly, she’s also unique due to the fact that she cannot block. [I’d sure hate to see her Twitter account -Ed.]. She is also one of two monsters (the other being Super MechaGodzilla) to have two Wrath moves.
WRATH #1: Cosmic Seal
Damage: 44%
Weak but really easy to implement. It’s a trade-off.
WRATH #2: Dark Echo
Damage: 69%
Mothra traps her victim in a magic powder cloud and from out of nowhere comes BATTRA for the assist!

There are three bosses but the last two you can only fight in EXPERT mode. The first boss is immediately selectable in the 2 Player mode. The other two are unlockable via code. The three bosses are MechaGodzilla II, Super MechaGodzilla and Guoten (seriously, a giant battleship? Give me a monster at least!)


Angilas is red with envy he doesn’t have one

I’m glad the developers didn’t force the issue and created one for Angilas for the hell of it. The game for the most part stays amazingly close to the source material. Just look at those stages. Most of them are yanked right out of the various Godzilla flicks. The few creative liberties taken (i.e. Gigan’s Flash Kick) are well implemented and still make sense within the Godzilla universe. If anything, these liberties breathe new life into these old monsters while their traditional powers keep the fanbase satisfied, like a warm cup of cocoa on a cold winter evening.

You one baaaad Mothra [… -Ed.]
While it doesn’t damage them any more than normal, I always love zapping them in the crotch whenever using Mothra. Yeah, I know. The little joys in gaming, eh?

Just kickin' it
Just kickin’ it

All of the monsters, sans Biollante and Mothra, can attack downward while jumping. Just hold down+attack in mid-air. For example, Megalon drills the air as his default jumping strike, but with down+attack his feet does the talking. Quite useful.


  • Zero slowdown. Kind of amazing when you consider the size of some of these monsters
  • Destroyable scenery abounds and magically regenerates for each round
  • Godzilla, Megalon, Mech, King Ghidorah and Gigan can all do their projectiles in mid-air
  • Godzilla doesn’t have a stage. You fight him on your own home turf, and your regular music is replaced by the ace Godzilla theme, replicated to a tee. Mothra’s remix is likewise excellent!
  • 2 player mode has options of 1-5 handicap, time limit on/off and a stage select
  • In 1 player mode, you select the enemy order (similar to the Fatal Fury series). Unfortunately though, there’s no character switching, so if you pick Mothra you’re stuck using her until you quit the 1 player game. Not a huge flaw, but a head scratcher as being able to pick a new character off a continue is common practice within the genre
  • Japanese language is very little. Game menus are all in English. And there are no victory quotes because, er, these monsters can’t talk. Ahem. *Blocks out the infamous dub scene from GODZILLA VS. GIGAN*
  • The Duo version suffered from having a limited moveset and only two buttons, one of which was used to jump. Thankfully, in the Super Famicom version jumping is done by simply pressing up. The moveset is also much greater and the visuals blow the Duo game out of the water. Just too bad the Duo version got Hedorah and the Super Famicom version didn’t. Love me some Smog Monster!
  • This game, as seen previewed in EGM earlier, was slated for a North American release under the name of Godzilla Monster Super Battle. Sadly, it was canned. It even got as far as Nintendo Power Magazine reviewing the NA port. But look on the bright side, at least SNES players were graced by the likes of Super Godzilla! *whomp whomp whomp* Man, did we get fleeced or what


Gigan’s laser beam does exist!
The controversy continues...
The controversy continues…

I remember renting Godzilla vs. Gigan (1972) some odd 20 years later, circa 1992. It was at the local mom and pop rental shop, Video Mart. I loved that little store. It had some Godzilla tapes which I rented quite a bit. I remember seeing this box one day and was immediately captivated. Who is this new Gigan creature? He was such a unique looking monster and I fell in love with the design instantly. The box art showed him firing a laser beam from his forehead, but it never actually appeared in the movie. Nor did it appear in the movie Godzilla vs. Megalon, which came out the year after and featured Gigan’s second and final appearance. That was, at least, until Toho resurrected him 30+ years later to be the main villain for Godzilla’s final Japanese film, Godzilla: Final Wars. That is, at least, until Godzilla Resurgence hits Japanese theatres July 29, 2016. Whew, anyone confused yet? You just can’t keep a good monster down.

Anyway, for a long time before Gigan finally used his laser beam in Godzilla: Final Wars, G-Fans had plenty of discussion regarding whether he had said weapon or not in his bag of tricks. There’s actually a scene in the 1972 film where it looks like Gigan is about to MAYBE use it, but it flashed and sort of fizzled out. Hmmm, maybe monsters suffer from performance anxiety issues too. Uh, not that I’d know anything about that. Ahem. At any rate, some fans like to believe he had the power all along but it broke. Ah, fandom. Gotta love it. It was nice to see Gigan firing off his laser beam in Godzilla: Kaijuu Daikessen. The game beat the Final Wars movie by a good 10 years. Fans in 2004 rejoiced that Gigan finally got to use his laser eye beam, but Super Famicom players know better ;-)

Now see, where else could you learn such useless information as this but on RVGFanatic? In fact, why even go to college. I got you covered! [Don’t listen to this crazy man. Kids, for the love of Godzilla, stay in school -Ed.]


So many crap Godzilla games over the years. This is a fresh breath of radioactive destruction!
Godzilla: Kaijuu Daikessen is a fresh breath of radioactive destruction!

We’ve received so many crap Godzilla games over the years. Especially if you consider anything pre-1994. Godzilla: Kaijuu Daikessen is a more than a serviceable effort. It’s more than a mere wink and nostalgic nod. If you consider yourself a diehard G-Fan, and you enjoy fighting games, then you’ll probably love this. Playing it 12 years later in 2006 was a bit of a bittersweet experience for me. Sweet in the sense that the game lived up to the hype my 11-year-old imagination forged 12 years prior on that scorching summer day of 1994. But bitter because I didn’t get to play this as an 11-year-old kid. I know my old best friend Nelson and I would have loved this, and we probably would never have left our living rooms.

The 12 year wait was worth it :)

That’s not to say the game is perfect. If you like fighting games but don’t particularly care for the Big Guy, I wouldn’t go out of my way to play this. This game won’t convert any non-fan. On its own, it sports a decent if somewhat unimpressive fighting engine. It’s super basic and lacks combos (which makes sense when you think about it since these are behemoths and not karate masters of the universe). BUT with the characters, their trademark moves and roars, suddenly it all falls into place. The graphics are great and the sound is awesome. The replicated themes would send a shiver down the spine of any G-Fan. The kaiju sprites are simply amazing. This is truly the Godzilla game G-Fans deserve on the Super Nintendo (yeah, we won’t talk about Super Godzilla). The sights and sounds will take you back to the good old days when the Big Guy stomped all over your TV screen. I know for me playing this game brought back a ton of memories from all the various old Godzilla films I’d seen over the years. Let us also not forget how easy it’d be to half-ass a game like this, so major kudos to Alfa System for not doing so. They could have easily coasted on the coattails of a strong licensing brand, but you can tell Alfa did their homework (AND extra credit assignment) right as soon as you pop the game in. The visuals, sounds and the representation of the monsters are sure to give G-Fans a major nostalgic rush. Taking us right back to the dusty sci-fi section of our local mom and pop shop on Saturday mornings and way back to the Godzilla Power Hour. For that, I salute thee, Alfa System. A job well done!

Look at those sprites!

My only wish? More monsters joining the fray! Particularly Baragon, Jet Jaguar, Titanosaurus, King Seesar, Hedorah the Smog Monster, oh heck, even Minya! A speed setting would have been nice, too. But nonetheless, I am more than satisfied. It’s a tremendous fan service and really captures the essence of the Godzilla universe. Best of all, it gives us one Godzilla game worth playing on the Super Nintendo. It’s only fitting that the “King of Monsters” would have at least one quality game representing him on the “King of Systems.”

Graphics: 9
Sound: 9
Gameplay: 8
Longevity: 9

Overall: 9.0

Gold Award
Gold Award