Thunder Spirits (SNES)

Pub: Seika | Dev: Toshiba Emi | June 1992 | 8 MEGS
Pub: Seika | Dev: Toshiba Emi | June 1992 | 8 MEGS

As a kid growing up in the early ’90s I can remember dreaming about the Genesis games that I wanted to see “souped-up” on my SNES. Thunder Force III was one of them. I would have given an arm and leg for a Super Nintendo version of Thunder Force III, figuratively speaking of course. I was blown away when I first played Thunder Force III on the Genesis in 1990. It was totally badass. SNES owners received Thunder Spirits in the summer of ’92. It was more or less Thunder Force III. Sadly, less… but I digress. First, let us take a trip down memory lane.

RAINING GHOULS ‘N GHOSTS

Geddit? Sorry, Ill see myself out
Geddit? Sorry, I’ll see myself out

In early 2006 the SNES bug bit me hard and I began reclaiming bits and pieces of my childhood. It started out innocently enough with a mighty comeback to the SNES on January 17, 2006. Not before long I found myself repurchasing all things 8-bit NES and Sega Genesis as well. On March 31, 2006, I met up with a stranger outside a local grocery store. I remember it well. It was 3 PM on a Friday afternoon, and it was raining cats and dogs (or ghouls and ghosts, if you will). I met Kevin in the parking lot, a guy I had been communicating with off Craigslist. He waved over to me sitting in his red Toyota pick-up. I suppose he could tell who I was based on my nostalgic (and searching) eyes. Standing outside, umbrella in hand, I watched as he spoke fondly of the games he was selling to me, mentioning how they had been sitting up in his attic for years and years now, and how they were all purchased brand new back in the day. A small cute beagle stood on the passenger seat, its head tilted as it looked at me quizzically. I got all five games for $20. Thunder Force III was a game I used to watch and play all the time back at Tommy and Denny’s, way back in good old 1990. The game was mind-blowing and really brought home the arcade experience that a home system had yet to deliver at that point in time. I had always wanted to play the SNES version that went by the name of Thunder Spirits, but never did back in the ’90s. Less than a month then into my SNES resurrection, I picked up a copy.

THE STORY

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The cybernetic computer that controls the planet Orn has long held a disdain for humans. It has surrounded itself with a formidable automated defense system consisting of four planets: Hydra, Gorgon, Saline, and Ellis. Motivated by its fear of the Commonwealth of Humanoid Planets, the computer has initiated a systematic plan to destroy the Commonwealth and enslave its members. The only hope for the Commonwealth is to intervene quickly and destroy the cybernetic computer at the Orn-Core!

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The Commonwealth has pooled its resources to develop its most technologically advanced fighter, the Vrax. This ship’s diminutive size coupled with advanced stealth technology make it difficult to detect. Equipped with some of the most powerful weaponry ever to be deployed, it is easily the equal of ships many times its size.

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OPTIONS

Be sure to turn rapid fire on. Its a life saver
Be sure to turn rapid fire on. It’s a life saver

FIREPOWER

This is just one of quite a few
This is just one of quite a few
Love that cool voiceover "SHIELD!"
Love that cool voice-over effect of “SHIELD!”

Be sure to blast these red ships. They carry new weapons, shields and the CLAW, a special and extremely valuable weapon. It attaches two orbiting drones to your ship which can intercept enemy attack. In addition, these drones will fire the same weapons as your ship, increasing the effectiveness of any gun you use. Sweet! As for the rest of your weaponry, discover them on your own :)

THE MISSION

I nearly crapped my pants the first time I saw him
I nearly crapped my pants the first time I saw him

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I sure do. It was a great time to be a carefree kid
I sure do. It was a great time to be a carefree kid

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... too bad the same quality didnt transfer over here
Too bad the same quality didn’t transfer over here
Youll see BIGGER twins soon...
You’ll see way BIGGER twins soon…

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Saline is one of my favorite levels of the 8
Saline is one of my favorite levels of the 8

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[Actually theres three -Ed.]
[Actually there’s three -Ed.]
Discover #3 on your own!
Discover #3 on your own!

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Its up to you to save the galaxy!
It’s up to you to save the galaxy!

WHAT THE CRITICS SAID

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For a Thunder Force game hitting the SNES, Thunder Spirits shockingly received very little fanfare. EGM gave it lackluster ratings of 5, 5 and 4. Super Play scored it 73%. On the internet, everyone highly prefers Thunder Force III. Though to be fair and more accurate, Thunder Spirits is technically a port of Thunder Force AC rather than Thunder Force III. Thunder Force AC was released in the arcades after Thunder Force III, and is largely based upon said game. Therefore, players expecting a magical carbon copy of Thunder Force III with SNES trimmings are likely to be quite disappointed.

Here’s a handy cheat to help maximize enjoyment of Thunder Spirits: during the game pause and press select 10 times followed by L, R, R, select. Now you can press Y to add a shield, X to add a Claw, and A to add and upgrade weapons. Try beating the game on Maniac mode with these cheats to help even up the odds!

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Still damn impressive to this day I say!
Still damn impressive to this day I say!

For nearly 20 years I wondered if this was *THE* ultimate Thunder Force game… a dream game which would combine one of my favorite Genesis titles with the souped-up capabilities of the almighty SNES. So much for that dream. When I finally played Thunder Spirits in the fall of 2011, I was sorely disappointed. The graphics and sound fail to meet SNES standards, and it pales in comparison to Thunder Force III which came out two years earlier. Then again, keep in mind that Toshiba Emi programmed the SNES version, not TechnoSoft (who did the Genesis game). Maybe the quality would have been vastly different in their hands. At any rate, the bosses here don’t look nearly as impressive or intimidating as they did in the Genesis version. The music is actually somewhat solid, but slightly tarnished by the weak sound effects that accompany it. I really like the first three stages, but the rest leave something to be desired… with too many similar space stages.

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Still, at its core, it is Thunder Force. That alone is enough to carry some merit. The game does suffer from the sporadic spot of slowdown here and there, but it’s certainly playable and has its moments. It’s pretty cool being able to switch weapons and ship speed with the shoulder buttons (as well as during the pause screen). It also presents a fairly stiff challenge, especially on the Maniac difficulty level. Unfortunately, you can’t help but feel this was a rushed programming job, and certainly one that was handled with a lack of expertise and knowledge of the Super Nintendo’s inner workings. Thunder Spirits should have been an awesome shooter. Instead, it’s rarely mentioned whenever folks talk about the best SNES shooting games. It doesn’t do anything special. Even worse, you know the game didn’t live up to its potential. There are too many moments where you just fly around waiting for enemies to show up. It’s not the frenetic in-your-face shooter that, say, Space Megaforce is. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy Thunder Spirits. It’s just difficult to hide my disappointment that this game didn’t knock it out of the park. But hey, can’t win ‘em all!

Graphics: 6.5
Sound: 6.5
Gameplay: 6.5
Longevity: 6.5

Overall: 6.5

Sorry SNES, Genesis wins this round!
Sorry SNES, Genesis wins this round!
Um, yeeeah. No comment...
Um, yeeeah. No comment…

The Sporting News Baseball (SNES)

Pub: Hudson | Dev: Now Production | June 1995 | 12 MEGS
Pub: Hudson Soft | Dev: Now Production | June 1995 | 12 MEGS

Yesterday marked the official end of Major League Baseball’s 2019 season. It was the last day of ball for 20 MLB teams. Now 10 teams have emerged victorious and are prepping to do battle in the postseason. My team of choice, the Oakland A’s, will be taking on the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday, October 2nd. As an A’s fan for most of my life, I’ve witnessed some epic choking. Sadly, there’s a reason why they’re known as the Chokeland A’s. They make the playoffs fairly consistently but never quite make it far. Hopefully things turn around come Wednesday. At any rate, as I gear up for the big game, it made me think of an old obscure SNES baseball game that my brother and I enjoyed playing back in the day. I recently played it again after not doing so for over 20 years. Much to my pleasant surprise, it’s still a fun little baseball game even nearly 25 years on.

Brutal :
Brutal :(

EDIT: October 2, 2019. DAMN. The A’s just dropped the Wild Card game 5-1 to the Rays. The A’s are now 0-9 in elimination games, setting a MLB record. Damn. Feels like they’re cursed. But that’s baseball. There’s always next year!

A FIELD OF DREAMS

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In the summer of 1995, my brother had me rent The Sporting News Baseball. We both grew up baseball fanatics. I’ve been a fan of the game ever since my 5th grade class went to a ball game in 1994. The Sporting News Baseball isn’t the most refined baseball game on the SNES, but one thing it definitely had going for it was being able to play on that magical cornfield featured in Field of Dreams. Although I had yet to see the movie at that time, I knew it was an iconic field and it absolutely captivated my imagination. My bro and I played on that field every chance we got. There’s something truly magical about launching one deep into the corn stalks on a starlit night.

MLB LICENSE

Mode 7 Madness
Mode 7 madness :P

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Back in the ’90s, there weren’t too many MLB licensed games. But this one had the real players and the real teams. It was always nice when you ran across a baseball game featuring the real deal.

The Sporting News POWER Baseball
The Sporting News POWER Baseball

This game came out in Japan originally as Super Power League, so perhaps Hudson Soft forgot to remove the Power there from the title screen.

The Iron Man himself, Cal Ripken Jr.
The Iron Man himself
Typical modes of play
Typical modes of play
Up to 4 players can partake
Up to 4 players can partake
Adjust the roster as you wish
Adjust the roster as you wish
Only 3 ballparks, sadly
Sadly only 3 ballparks
At least you get night options
At least you get a night option
Dome with artificial turf
Dome with artificial turf
The best ballpark, hands down
The best ballpark, hands down
Majestic at night
Even better at night. Majestic
Players are huge!
Players are huge!
Swung at a pitch in the dirt
Swung at a bad pitch in the dirt
*Glaring intensifies*
*Glaring intensifies*
Dont let the ball get to the corn
Love that cornfield
Grabbing the ball or taking a dump
“Shouldn’t have ate that burrito…”
The ball cant roll into the cornfield
Ball can’t roll into the cornfield
Déjà vu
Déjà vu
Whew, close but no cigar
Whew, close but no cigar
OUT!
OUT!
SAFE!
SAFE!
As take the early lead
A’s take the early lead
Uh oh...
Uh oh…

Matt Williams puts a charge into that baseball as he launches it high into that starry night. The irony? Matt Williams, most well known for his Giants stint during his playing days, is now the Oakland Athletics’ 3rd base coach. You can’t make this stuff up. Such is life. Such is life.

Will it fall short?
Will it fall short?
I GOT IT I GOT IT I GOT IT!
“I GOT IT, I GOT IT, I GOT IT!”
Nevermind...
Nevermind… my bad y’all
The Giants tie it 2-2
The Giants tie it 2-2
Love how they give "the finger"
Love how they sorta give the bird
Or at least kind of :P
Best home run trot ever
The As grab the lead right back
The A’s grab the lead right back
Good eye, Brosius!
Good eye, Brosius!
Bases loaded walk, baby
Bases loaded walk, baby
4-2 As
4-2 A’s
BIG MAC!
BIG MAC!
Doing what Mac does
Doing what Big Mac does best
583 career home runs to his name
583 career home runs
He hits it high, he hits it deep!
Blasted into that majestic night
Good luck catching that, pal
Good luck catching that, buddy
Way back in the cornfield
Way back in the cornfield
Deep into the night
Deep into the night
Talk about crushing it
Talk about crushing it
Screw ya, pal!
“Screw ya, pal!”
Look at my big boy helmet!
Look at his big boy helmet :P
"HE HITS IT HIGH!"
“HE HITS IT HIGH!”
"HE HITS IT DEEP! -Ish..."
“HE HITS IT DEEP! -ish…”
Love when it barely clears
Love when it barely clears
Mike F'N Bordick of all people
Mike F’N Bordick of all people
"UP YOURS, MAN!"
“UP YOURS, MAN!”
The previous ABs are a nice touch
Damn he almost got the cycle

Results for previous at-bats are cited, which makes for a nice touch.

Bleacher just like the movie
Bleacher just like from the movie
Love the accuracy
Love the attention to detail there
Home Run Derby's a lot of fun
Home Run Derby is a lot of fun
Pick from ANY player
Pick from ANY player
Nice for a lazy Sunday afternoon
Nice for a lazy Sunday afternoon
"Oooooh yeeeeeah!"
“Oooooh yeeeeeah!”
Love the night time
Love the night time
Aim for the windows!
Aim for the windows!
Pitcher be like "Fuck this!"
Pitcher be like “Fuck this!”
Ball heading for the building
Ball heading for the building
Then disappears. What a moon shot
What a majestic moon shot
White Bread? I rather be macho man
The 100 pitches go by fast

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I love how the camera pans down to give you the full scope. The Field of Dreams ballpark at night in particular is simply majestic.

Talk about a serene evening
Talk about a serene evening
Time to let it rip!
Time to let it rip!
The ball soars into the night
Watch the ball soar into the night
Love the center field HRs best
Center field home runs are best
You get to see everything
Brings out your inner child :)
So damn satisfying
So damn satisfying
All night!
All night, son. All night!
Games can range from 20-25 minutes...
Games can range from 20-25 minutes…
Or 45+. It all depends on the amount of offense
… to even 45+. It all depends on the amount of offense
I like the blurbs :P
Uh, the National League won so… :P
What a game this was
What a comeback win this was
Now there's a choke job for the National League
Now there’s a choke job for the National League
Love that you can edit your own All Star team
Love that you can edit your own All Star team

CLOSING THOUGHTS

If you build it, he will come
“GO THE DISTANCE.”

My brother and I had more than our fair share of fun with The Sporting News Baseball back in the mid ’90s. Having played it recently in late 2018, I’m happy to say that for me at least, it’s held up pretty well. Granted, you’re probably not going to play this over the better baseball games available, but there is a quirky charm to this game. It’s definitely the cornfield — who doesn’t want to play a ball game on the iconic Field of Dreams cornfield? It just takes me to a happy place and makes Sporting News Baseball, at the very least, a notable effort. Speaking of which, it’s also the only 4-player baseball game on the Super Nintendo. Real players and teams, and plenty of editing options, round out the package. Unfortunately, there are only 3 ball parks to choose from. But in its defense, when you got the cornfield option, there could be 100 different ball parks to select from and I’d still pick the cornfield one 99 times out of 100. If you’re into old school 16-bit baseball games and you love Field of Dreams, Sporting News Baseball will likely entertain you enough for a few hours. It’s no Ken Griffey Jr. but what is? This certainly isn’t the worst alternative out there.

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Graphics: 6.5
Sound: 6.5
Gameplay: 6.5
Longevity: 6.5

Overall: 6.5

Timeless!
Timeless!

Aladdin (SNES)

Pub & Dev: Capcom | November 1993 | 10 MEGS
Pub & Dev: Capcom | November 1993 | 10 MEGS

Last week my girlfriend and I caught the live movie adaptation of Aladdin in theaters. We enjoyed it, although both of us prefer the animated film. Seeing Aladdin on the big screen instantly brought to mind the time when Capcom, over 25 years ago, released Aladdin on the Super Nintendo. “Oh no, not another licensed video game!” Some might think from the outset. And really, history would have your back as many licensed games were seemingly more miss than hit more than a quarter of a century ago. Thankfully, Capcom incubated Aladdin with nearly as much maternal care as Disney bestowed upon their animated film. That means top notch animation, plenty of humor to keep things lighthearted and entertaining, and backed it all up with an incredibly authentic Middle Eastern atmosphere. Thus, what you have here is a strong example of the platforming genre based off 1992’s most successful film.

Will Smith as the Genie... it worked!
Will Smith as the Genie… it worked!

NEVER HAD A FRIEND LIKE ME

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Aladdin roared into theaters the day before Thanksgiving ’92 (November 25, 1992 for those keeping score at home) and grossed over 500 million worldwide! It was met with undying fanfare. The song “A Whole New World” won an Oscar at the 1993 Academy Awards. The end credits boast a whopping 513 people! It was the first Disney film to show a belly button. Aladdin was based, believe it or not, on a cross between Michael J. Fox and Tom Cruise. Also, did you know that Aladdin once killed 40 thieves? [That was Ali Baba, you fool -Ed.]

[Hmmm, those facts sound oddly familiar... -Ed.]
[Hmmm, those facts sound oddly familiar… -Ed.]
Hey now, I *like* that song
Hey now, I *like* that song

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Aladdin was such a smash hit that he had his own animated series as part of the classic Disney Afternoon lineup back during the early mid ’90s. I was a pretty big fan of the TV series. If you don’t remember the Disney Afternoon, it was essentially the cartoon version of TGIF. The Disney Afternoon aired Mondays through Fridays from 3 to 5 PM. Perfect for veggin’ out right after school for a couple blissful hours. Oh they don’t make them like how they used to, that’s fer damn sure! Needless to say, Capcom had a lot to live up to when they set their sights on adapting Aladdin to the Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo. But if anyone could pull it off back in those days, it was the Big C.

Racist? Never...
Racist? Never…

THE ADVENTURES OF ABU

Abu is wonderfully represented here
Abu is wonderfully represented here

THE STORY GOES…

Follows the movie to a tee
Follows the movie to a tee
Creepy looking hands!
Creepy looking hands!
It's the Cave of Wonders!
It’s the Cave of Wonders!
One whose worth lies deep within ... THE DIAMOND IN THE ROUGH!
One whose worth lies deep within
… THE DIAMOND IN THE ROUGH!
... this diamond in the rough...
… this diamond in the rough…

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Not all movie games suck ;)
Not all movie games suck ;)

THE BASICS

Aladdin has got the moves
Aladdin has got the moves

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THE MARKETPLACE

The game begins In the dusty streets of Agrabah
The game begins in the dusty streets of Agrabah
Fun bouncing on the guy's head
Fun bouncing on the guy’s head
Where you at, Shaggy?
Where you at, Shaggy?

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Sprinting across the tops — high above the heads of enemies — looks great, but Aladdin’s movement has a certain herky jerkiness. It’s not a big issue but it does take a second to adjust to.

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Aimed properly, you can bounce off a bad guy’s head and in one seamless motion stick the landing on a nearby platform. Pretty satisfying it is.

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Press down to fall on the villain’s head and vanquish him. There is a sort of Prince of Persia feel to this game.

Snakes be damned!
Snakes be damned!

More fun than a barrel  [snip -Ed.]
And these fools, too
[I always knew the monkey was smarter -Ed.]
[I always knew the monkey was smarter -Ed.]
[Truly, the brains of the operation -Ed.]
[Truly, the brains of the operation -Ed.]

You best better
You best better
Animations are amazing
Animations are amazing
Apparently not
Apparently not
I love how they mock you
I love how they mock you :P
He's pissed off now!
He’s pissed off now!
When all else fails, feign defeat
When all else fails, feign defeat
That would be a long fall down
That would be a long fall down…
Never skip arm day
Why you never skip arm day
Gotta love the little bugger
Gotta love the little bugger
A satisfying means of dispatching the opposition
A satisfying means of dispatching the opposition
Meet the first boss of the game
Meet the first boss of the game
Apples don't hurt him, not even down there
Apples don’t hurt him, not even down there
When did Abu become so cynical? :P
When did Abu become so cynical? :P
Whoa that escalated quickly
Whoa that escalated quickly
Sorry old pal
Sorry about that, old pal

[You and me both, Abu. You and me both -Ed.]
[You and me both, Abu. You and me both -Ed.]
[Us too! -Super Play staff]
[Us too! -Super Play staff]

But peace doesn't last long
Of course, peace is short lived…

THE CAVE OF WONDERS

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I rather like this stage quite a bit. Use your athletic acrobatics to maneuver your way across spiky pits and such. Good stuff.

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Use apples to send pesky bats away. And what the hell is a delectable piece of meat such as that doing out in the wide open? It’ll spoil! Guess you better gobble it up then before it does!

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Leaping off enemies and platforms doesn’t always go as you intend it to. Thankfully, it’s mostly a case of something you did that went awry, as opposed to flat out poor controls.

I swear Abu, this had better be good...
I swear Abu, this had better be good…
Of course Abu would
Of course Abu would
But I swear, if this hits the fan...
Man, if this hits the fan…
Moral: Never trust a monkey, ever
Moral: Never trust a monkey, ever
That sounds about right
That sounds about right
Feet fail me not!
Feet fail me not!

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If you manage to survive this, you’ll run into a rather magical friend.

Abu's expression says it all
Abu’s expression says it all
Obviously not
Obviously not
Yo Carpet, it's like that huh
Yo Carpet, it’s like that huh

Carpet, in theory, could whisk you to safety, but where’s the fun in that? Nope, you must brave through this auto scrolling stage on your own.

Damn you, Carpet!
Damn you, Carpet!
Don't hang on too long or else
Don’t hang on too long or else
Pull it to rise the barrier
Pull the rope to raise the barrier
Whew, just missed!
Whew, just missed!
Yeah, sure, whatever ya say...
Yeah, sure, whatever ya say…
O_O
o_O
Good shit from Capcom
That’s me at 5 stealing my mom’s cookies from the jar
DON'T TOUCH THAT, ABU!
DON’T TOUCH THAT, ABU!
Carpet tries its damndest
Carpet tries its damnedest
That can't be good
That can’t be good
ALVIN!!! ABU!!!
ALVIN!!! ABU!!!
Whew, too close for comfort
Whew, too close for comfort
Yet another force scrolling stage
Yet another auto scrolling stage
Word!
Word!
Should have worn sandals
Should have worn sandals
The biggest pull up of your life
The biggest pull up of your life
ANOTHER auto scroller
ANOTHER auto scrolling stage
But at least Carpet's with you
But at least Carpet’s with you this time!

After a couple head scratching stages where you’re forced to travel over murky waters and skin scorching lava without the aid of Magic Carpet, it finally decides to lend a hand, er, corner? Hey, better late than never!

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Arguably the game’s most adrenaline-fueled level, nothing quickens the pulse quite like riding on Magic Carpet with your girl while doing your best to evade the sizzling molten lava that’s right on your tail!

INSIDE THE GENIE’S LAMP

"Little ol' me?" Yes, little ol' you!
“Little ol’ me?”  Yes, little ol’ you!

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Genie’s stage takes you to a cloud-filled universe that’s well out of this world. How befitting of a genie! You suddenly find yourself doing pull ups on cloudy wisps in a strange land that’s NOT AT ALL egotistical…

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In classic Capcom fashion, landing on those Genie platforms will make the Big G frown for as long as you’re on it. Otherwise, the blue bastard’s full of cheesy grins.

I've never had a friend like you...
Patience and precision is key here
Things get more and more bizarre
Things get more and more bizarre
Man, I sure as hell ain't never had a friend like you
Man, I sure as hell ain’t never had a friend like you
Use his makeshift parachute to glide to safety
Use his makeshift parachute to glide to safety

THE PYRAMID

I like how they disintegrate when you jump on them
I like how they disintegrate when you jump on them
The shifting sands makes it difficult to navigate safely
The shifting sand makes it difficult to navigate safely
Er, yeeeeah. You're on your own on this one, Al...
Err, yeeeeah. You’re on your own on this one, Al…

BONUS LEVEL: MAGIC CARPET RIDE

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For my money, this is by far and away the greatest moment in the entire game. The sights and sounds — perfection personified. Based on the classic scene from the movie, it even replicates the “A Whole New World” song! Sans lyrics of course, but it’s a near perfect rendition otherwise. The whole damn thing is almost enough to make even the most hardened warrior feel all warm and tingly inside. Don’t take my word for it, watch it and listen to it here!

A WHOLE NEW WORLD! [Don't you dare... -Ed.]
A WHOLE NEW WORLD!  [Don’t you dare… -Ed.]

JAFAR’S PALACE

Saving the best for last, eh?
Saving the best for last, eh?
Wouldn't be Aladdin without a street rat reference
Wouldn’t be Aladdin without a street rat reference
Repeat this pattern for good health and prosperity
Repeat this pattern for good health and prosperity
Uh oh, Jafar is pissed now...
Uh oh, Jafar is pissed now…
HOLY MOLY!
HOLY MOLY!!

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Use the parachute or else you'll get singed!
Use the parachute or else you’ll get fried
Shout out to those who get this reference!
Shout out to those who get this reference!
Early-mid '90s was such a great time for games
Early-mid ’90s was such a great time to be a gamer :)
It's got a simple pattern. Do yer thang, Big Al!
It’s got a simple pattern. Do yer thang, Big Al!
YEAH, TELL 'IM, AL!
YEAH YOU TELL ‘IM, AL!
*collective gasp*
*collective gasp*
Man fuck this shit :P
Man fuck this shit :P
Who're you... SHREDDER?!
Who’re you… SHREDDER?!
R.I.P. James Avery AKA Uncle Phil, voice of Shredder
One of my favorite lines of all time
Is it? Find out for yourself...
Is it? Find out for yourself…

GENIE!

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On the whole, Aladdin is a pretty easy game. It’s got a few tough spots, but with a password system in place and plenty of extra lives to be had, it’s something that the average gamer should be able to polish off without too much hardship.

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Capcom’s classic continue screens, er, continue with Aladdin. Pull the yes one and Genie will flash you a satisfied grin.

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But yank on the no one and watch the poor sap sulk and frown.

Not as crazy as the one in Final Fight though :P
Not as crazy as the one in Final Fight though :P

GENNY!

Aladdin79

For ages now, even to this day more than 25 years later, there has been a debate amongst gamers on which version is superior: the Genesis or Super Nintendo rendition of Aladdin. Both games are significantly different from one another, as Capcom developed the SNES one while Virgin Interactive did the Genesis one. The Genesis version emphasizes more action than platforming. Both games were highly praised in their own right, but consensus seems to favor the Genesis game slightly. Regardless of which version you think is better, you can’t go wrong with either one.

WHAT THE CRITICS SAID

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Aladdin was well received by the critics. EGM gave it scores of 9, 8, 8 and 8. EGM’s sister publication, Super NES Buyer’s Guide, scored it 89, 86 and 85%. GameFan gave it ratings of 90, 90, 89 and 87%. Super Play rated it 81%. Most agreed on it being a fun and colorful platforming game by the ever trustworthy Capcom, who infused Aladdin with an admirable amount of care and respect to the source material. It’s not the most outstanding example of the genre on the SNES, but it’s certainly one of the better ones in the catalog.

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CLOSING THOUGHTS

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Aladdin is a quality platformer, but its two biggest flaws are that it’s too short and it teeters a bit too much on the easy side. Similar to Skyblazer, the levels are over right as I’m ready to sink my teeth into ‘em. The lack of enemies, not to mention the lack of enemy diversity, was also something of a disappointment. You can easily finish this game before you finish watching the animated movie! However, with a busy schedule that may include juggling relationships, kids and work, those two “flaws” aren’t the biggest indictments in the gaming world. I suppose that’s one way to look at it.

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The graphics are splendid; they’re filled to the brim with detail, colors and parallax scrolling that seems to stretch on forever. The sound is pretty good, especially the renditions of the movie’s various themes. The SNES version of A Whole New World is my personal favorite and hits me in the feels every single time I hear its lovely jingle. Gameplay consists of your classic basics, sprinkled with a little Prince of Persia feel to it, complete with hanging from ledges with your pinkie fingers.

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The control is generally solid but I do have a few gripes. Whenever you press left or right Aladdin will take a step (or two) in that direction. On small platforms this could cause him to slip every now and then, so be thankful for that hanging-on-the-ledge-with-your-pinkie business! Some handspring bounces off obstacles and enemies are also a bit tough to implement properly, particularly when it comes to needing several bounces in succession. Thankfully, such parts are few and far between. Mostly you’re just bouncing off one enemy or object at a time so it doesn’t adversely impact gameplay as much as one might fear. The control is definitely far from perfect but nothing you won’t quickly adjust to and manage. Those few niggles, however, are worth noting.

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All in all, Aladdin is a fine platformer that deserves a spot in any SNES library. It does its source material a great deal of respect and is plain fun to play. It won’t last you long, or challenge you terribly much, but depending on one’s schedule and tolerance level, those things may be blessings or curses. Capcom could almost do no wrong back in the early-mid ’90s, and Aladdin is another solid example of such. Definitely and easily one of the better license games from the vaunted 16-bit era!

Graphics: 9
Sound: 8
Gameplay: 8
Longevity: 5.5

AwardsOverall: 8.0
Silver Award

 

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Final Fantasy II (SNES)

Pub & Dev: Square | November 1991 | 8 MEGS
Pub & Dev: Square | November 1991 | 8 MEGS

As a kid I had almost zero interest in RPGs. My brother loved them but I had the ignorant opinion that they were slow and boring. Now opinions are opinions and I would never call someone who dislikes the genre “ignorant.” However, I say ignorant for myself only because I judged an entire genre without giving it a chance. Ironically, I now love RPGs as much as any other gaming genre. My first foray into the RPG realm came courtesy of Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest (December 2007). Although certainly a flawed game, I had one hell of a good time. Naturally, it made too much sense to have my second RPG experience be Final Fantasy II. In some ways you could say that Final Fantasy II marked my first “real” RPG (if you don’t count Mystic Quest as a legit RPG which some folks do not). Final Fantasy II was a sweeping and grand adventure; what follows below will be some thoughts and memories. Fair warning: some spoilers lie ahead so play it first before you continue on! Besides, if you haven’t already played it, you probably should.

THE STORY GOES…

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Crew: Captain Cecil! We’re about to land.

Cecil: At long last!

Crew Guy 1: Pray tell, Cap, why are we stealing the crystals from innocent folk?

Crew Guy 2: That’s what we’ve been summoned to do. And that’s that.

Crew Guy 1: Do we really have to keep doing this? Captain?

Cecil:

Crew Guy 3: Prepare for landing!

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Elder: Take the crystal if you must.

Cecil: Could have saved yourself the trouble by saying that earlier.

Elder: But consider this. Why would the King of Baron do this? Why do you pursue the crystals so eagerly?

Cecil:

Crew Guy 2: SHUT UP old man, or I’ll shut you up myself!

The heist has been completed
The heist has been completed

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Crew Guy 1: Captain, I don’t know if we can keep doing this.

Cecil: Possessing the crystal is essential to our prosperity. More importantly, His Majesty has deemed that the Mysidians know too much about the crystal’s secrets. We are the Red Wings, the air force of the Kingdom Baron! The Royal Command is absolute.

Crew Guy 3: You sure?

Cecil:

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Baigan: About time, Cecil! I see you have the Crystal of Water. Well done.

Cecil: Indeed. But… the Mysidians were so helpless.

Baigan: What are you trying to say?

Cecil: Well… it’s just…

Baigan: Don’t get soft on me now. You did what you had to do. Don’t overthink it, for your own sake.

Cecil:

Baigan: Follow me…

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Baigan: Your Majesty, I’m afraid Cecil has developed a conscience and a rebellious air. I don’t think we can trust him going forward.

King: I have no room for backstabbers. I’ll take care of him swiftly.

*MOMENTS LATER*

Cecil: You called, Sir?

King: Yes! Good job, Cecil. Hand me the crystal.

Cecil: Sir, are we doing the right thing?

King: You dare question me, YOUR KING?!?

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Cecil: I just want to know what’s going on.

King: Let’s cut the bullshit. I know of your discontent, Cecil. Since you no longer trust me, you cannot be commander of the Red Wings. You are dismissed from your post!

Cecil: What?!

King: Take this package, and venture to Village Mist. Just remember this one thing. A man digs his own grave. Guards, get this maggot outta my sight!

LATER THAT NIGHT...
LATER THAT NIGHT…

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Rosa: Cecil! What’s wrong? You haven’t been yourself lately.

Cecil: We had to rob the innocent folks in Mysidia.

Rosa: Oh dear…

Cecil: I’m just a Dark Knight with no courage to disobey His Majesty.

Rosa: Hmph! The real Cecil I know would never whimper like this!

Cecil: Rosa, about tomorrow…

Rosa: I know. I know. Get some rest, for tomorrow is a big day… for all of us…

No genre does atmospheric late night musings like RPGs
No genre does atmospheric late night chats like RPGs :)
Really part IV in Japan but part II in North America
Really part IV in Japan but part II in North America

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In typical RPG fashion, you trek through the land in an overhead view. It’s simplistic but therein lies the beauty.

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Enemies randomly crop up, taking you to this battle screen. Growing up I thought RPGs were lame and boring, but now I can’t get enough of it. Go figure!

Use magic to light up the screen
Use magic to light up the screen
Gotta love magic attacks that strike all of the enemies
Gotta love magic attacks that strikes all enemies
Quoth the Raven: Nevermore
Quoth the Raven: Nevermore
And so, the bartering begins
And so, the bartering begins
Maybe Namingway should change his own name...
Maybe Namingway should change his own name…

Early on in the game, Cecil fulfills a life long dream when he legally changes his name to Steve. Hey, can you blame him? [Shush you -Ed.]

Chatting up the locals is all part of the storytelling fun
Chattin’ up the locals is all part of the storytelling fun
Oooh, the plot thickens. Who is this strange old man?
Ooh, the plot thickens. Who is this strange old man?
Hmm. I reckon this can't be too good...
Hmm. I reckon this can’t be too good…
What a guy, that Steve [It should be Cecil... -Ed.]
What a guy, that Steve [It should be Cecil… -Ed.]
Antlion doesn't sound like the name of sumthin' tame...
Antlion doesn’t sound like the name of sumthin’ tame...
Old Guy: Let's see what kind of game Steve has...
Old Guy: Let’s see what kind of game Steve has…
Rosa: Thank you for being here with me... Steve: Alright... well... yeah, get some sleep. Old Guy: Ugh... no game at all!
Rosa: Thank you for being here with me…
Steve: Alright… well… yeah, get some sleep.
Old Guy: Ugh… NO game at all!
Steve: Say whaaaa?! Um, no she doesn't... Old Guy: YOU FOOL. I'm blind and EVEN I can see!
Steve: Say whaaaa?! Um, no she doesn’t…
Old Guy: YOU FOOL. I’m blind and EVEN I can see!
Rydia: You always get me, Steve...
Rydia: You always get me, Steve…
Everyone plays a vital role in the journey
Everyone plays a vital role in the journey
Edward: DO IT FOR ANNA! Rydia: Playing the dead girlfriend card?! Oh my...
Edward: DO IT FOR ANNA!
Rydia: Playing the dead girlfriend card?! Oh my…
Steve: Hey, no! Wait, no it isn't what it looks like... Yang: Suuuuure... mmm hmm.
Steve: Hey, no! Wait, no it isn’t what it looks like…
Yang: Suuuuure… mmm hmm. Riiight…
Love Yang. Such a badass
Love Yang. Such a badass
Here comes the calvary at last!
Here comes the calvary at last!
Steve: Um... hi there... PS- no thanks on PPS
Steve: Um… hi there… PS- no thanks on PPS

The twins, Palom and Porom, are comic relief characters to the nth degree.

Old Guy: What, was there no decaf this morning?
Old Guy: What, was there no decaf this morning?

[Lord knows ONE Steve is more than enough! -Ed.]
[Lord knows ONE Steve is more than enough! -Ed.]
[Keep heading toward that light, Steve... -Ed.]
[Keep heading toward that light, Steve… -Ed.]

Envy is the ruin of us all
Envy is the ruin of us all
Plenty of story twists abound in FINAL FANTASY II
Plenty of story twists abound in FINAL FANTASY II
Here, take a look for yourself
Here, take a look for yourself
"Ooooooooh... ahhhhhh..."
“Ooooooooh… ahhhhhh…”
Old Guy: Hey I'm old and blind, cut me some slack. Listen again!
Old Guy: Hey I’m old and blind, cut me some slack!

This part cracks me up because we all know a nostalgic person like this in our lives who can’t shut up about their old war stories or the “good old days” [Pot, kettle, black -Ed.]

Such a sad scene this was... *SNIFF*
Such a sad scene *SNIFF*

Final Fantasy II featured an intricate plot full of twists and turns that will tug at your heartstrings. You latched onto the characters; you connected with them and believed in them. There’s a certain synergy about this game that makes playing it akin to reading a really good book.

Never know what goodies you might find
Never know what goodies you might find

JACKPOT! Finding a bevy of treasure chests just lying around is always exciting. Your eyes just light up as you make your way around each box. Classic RPG gaming at its best.

The story moves along at a brisk pace
The story moves along at a brisk pace

An epic battle wages between Golbez and Tellah. Tellah has a devastating magic spell up his sleeve known simply as Meteo. It inflicts a shit ton of damage — 9,999 HP reduction to be precise. But at what cost?

Forgiving someone can do wonders for ones own spirit
Forgiving someone can do wonders for your spirit…

In life sometimes we have to learn how to forgive those who have harmed us. We’re only hurting ourselves if we don’t. It’s more about what it does for you than it does to the person you’re forgiving. A good lesson I’ve learned over the years!

What's an RPG without an innocent perverse moment?
What’s an RPG without an innocent pervy moment?
It's prudent to heed the wisdom of your elders...
It’s prudent to heed the wisdom of your elders…
But not this one. D'oh! Love Square's sense of humor
But not this one, d’oh! Love Square’s sense of humor
Ominous...
Ominous…
Edge the ninja is a pretty bad-ass dude
Edge the ninja is a pretty badass dude

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One of the many things I love about RPGs is the relationship dynamic between the group members. I particularly like it when there’s some degree of inner turmoil among the party members. It just makes things more interesting when there’s little moments of in-house bickering. They add charm to the game and are always a hoot to read. Nothing like a little good old fashioned tension among the ranks to break up the monotony of the trip.

Edge is 1337! How appropriate...
Edge is 1337! How appropriate…
Door #1, #2, or #3? Which door shall it be? Hmmm
Door #1, #2, or #3? Which door shall it be? Hmmm
Of course, Nintendo of America didn't allow "PRAY"
Of course, Nintendo of America didn’t allow “PRAY”
"For me WHAT?! What 'cha say? Damn, maybe I should have been listening"
“For me WHAT?! What ‘cha say?
Damn, maybe I should have been listening!”
Plenty of intense drag-'em-out boss fights await
Plenty of intense drag ‘em out boss fights await
Can you survive the challenges ahead?
Can you survive the challenges ahead?
[Oh so you mean like basically the rest of eternity -Ed.]
[Oh so you mean like basically the rest of eternity -Ed.]
Will he finally say it at last...
Will he finally say it at last…
[I freaking knew it -Ed.]
[I freaking knew it -Ed.]
Who needs fancy 3D graphics when you have THIS?
Who needs fancy 3D graphics when you have THIS?
Final Fantasy II proves gameplay trumps graphics
Final Fantasy II proves gameplay trumps graphics
But the visuals certainly aren't half bad for their time
But the visuals certainly aren’t half bad for their time
Steve: "But naw, it was just my stomach growling"
“But naw, it was just my stomach growling”
Ah, how good to see everyone again!
Ah, how good to see everyone again!

In the end, a grand celebration is held and many old faces rejoin the fray for one big reunion bash.

To the right, to the right, to the right, to the right To the left, to the left, to the left, to the left Now kick, now kick, now kick, now kick Now walk it by yourself, now walk it by yourself
To the right, to the right, to the right, to the right
To the left, to the left, to the left, to the left
Now kick, now kick, now kick, now kick
Now walk it by yourself, now walk it by yourself
From the previous owner's save slot. He went nuts...
From the previous owner’s save slot. He went nuts…

I love how stupid high the numbers get in this game. HP of 5611? Why not! My final stats:

Steve L55 3699 HP 222 MP
Rydia L51 1704 HP 449 MP
Edge L52 2614 HP 168 MP
Rosa L53 2654 HP 440 MP
Kain L54 3373 HP

WHAT THE CRITICS SAID

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Final Fantasy II was very well received by the critics. EGM gave it the Game of the Month honors, earning scores of 7, 8, 8 and 9. Super Play Magazine rated it 90%. You can’t go wrong with this game, and there’s even a small spattering of fans who prefer it to the almighty Final Fantasy III. Final Fantasy II is a well paced, story driven RPG no SNES fan can afford to miss. If you’ve somehow missed it all these years, be sure to bump it up to the top of your queue.

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CLOSING THOUGHTS

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Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest eased me into the genre, which I blindly disliked as a kid, but it was Final Fantasy II that cemented me as an RPG fan for life. I discovered, in my mid 20s, just how satisfying RPGs can be. The action may not come at you fast and furious, but the great storytelling and character dynamics make for a hell of a ride no other genre can provide. From romantic subplots to betrayal to even death, Final Fantasy II is a breathing and organic piece of art that sucks you in and doesn’t let go until the very last magic spell. You can’t ask for much more from a video game than that.

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The effectiveness of its characters can often times either make or break an RPG. Thankfully, Final Fantasy II is graced from top to bottom with plenty of memorable characters. Yang, the wacky twins, Cid and Edge — just to name some — are the sort you’ll grow attached to as you go about the journey. Although Cecil is the main star here, it’s more akin to an assemble cast. Sure, the formula’s a bit simple and basic, but that’s also part of its charm. You traverse from town to town, talking with the locals, picking up clues, buying supplies, leveling up in the nearby forests and caves, and then battle a boss before moving onto the next region. It’s the storytelling aspect of these games that I admire so much. When an RPG is done right, like this one is, it sweeps you away to a far away land full of wonder and danger. It’s video game escapism at its best. Long day at work? Long holiday weekend? Nothing like popping in a quality RPG to get away from it all for a few moments. Although Final Fantasy II may be linear, doesn’t have many side quests and may even seem rather basic to more seasoned veterans of the genre, there’s an undeniable charm to the game. The story moves along at a brisk pace, the characters are endearing and it’s backed by a stellar soundtrack. If you haven’t played this game yet, you’re missing out on one of the best SNES RPGs.

Graphics: 7
Sound: 9.5
Gameplay: 9
Longevity: 8

Award4Overall: 9.0
Gold Award

Sure. As we know, nothing is final with Final Fantasy :P
Sure. As we know, nothing’s final with Final Fantasy :P

Fatal Fury 2 (SNES)

Pub: Takara | Dev: SNK | April 1994 | 20 MEGS
Pub: Takara | Dev: SNK | April 1994 | 20 MEGS

In April of 1994 — 25 years ago in fact — Takara released the SNES port of Fatal Fury 2. Being one of the Neo Geo’s most popular fighting games, the original version made its debut in the arcade in 1992 and weighed in at a hefty 106 megs. The Super Nintendo conversion clocked in at 20 robust megs, arriving (arguably) right around the peak of the golden age of both fighting games and 16-bit gaming. Fatal Fury 2 proved to be a prime example of how to nail down a sequel properly, featuring more playable fighters, more special moves and enhancing virtually everything that the first Fatal Fury had to offer.

FATAL FURY ORIGINS

The Neo Geo MVS was a gorgeous sight in those days
The Neo Geo MVS was a gorgeous sight in those days

March 1991. A one on one fighting game revolutionized the gaming world. STREET FIGHTER II became nothing short of a phenomenon and a household name. At the time I was only 7 years old, but I can still remember it so vividly. You couldn’t go anywhere without seeing the Street Fighter II arcade cab. Whether it was 7-11, video rental stores, Pizza Huts or trading card shops, people lined up in droves to play it. Fatal Fury came out roughly 8 months later in November of 1991. I remember encountering Fatal Fury for the first time on a Neo Geo MVS cab. These powerhouse machines could hold up to four games, giving players the ultimate choice. The cab stood out in a crowd with its bright red exterior and four mini game posters up top. It immediately caught your eye and it was always fun to look up and see which four games were featured. Occasionally, old games got filtered out and were replaced by newer ones. There was always an element of Russian Roulette with Neo Geo MVS cabs that I loved. If you were in the arcade scene back in the early ’90s, then I know you know damn full well what I mean.

Magical memories
Damn near mythical

In retrospect, that time period was truly special. There was a certain magic to it. Just standing in front of an MVS cab gazing up at the four titles and watching the game demos switch on the screen before you, each game making a convincing bid for your precious quarter, was epic beyond words. Maybe part of it had to do with being young… but I really believe in my heart of hearts that that was simply a magical time in gaming that will never be duplicated ever again, period.

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Fatal Fury was often wrongly accused of being a Street Fighter II clone as it came out 8 months later. Back in the day it was easy to claim that. But years later I discovered a shocking fact. The sort that debunks the gaming theories of one’s youth. The creator of Fatal Fury, Takashi Nishiyama, also created the very first Street Fighter (1987). After gaining recognition for his talents following Street Fighter, he was sought out by SNK. Nishiyama, along with many members of the development crew for the first Street Fighter, made the jump to SNK. Fatal Fury was the follow-up title in November 1991. In an interview conducted by 1UP, Nishiyama was quoted, “Fatal Fury was my Street Fighter II.” Wow. As it turns out, Fatal Fury was never a Street Fighter II wannabe. In Nishiyama’s mind, Fatal Fury WAS Street Fighter II. My bad, Mr. Nishiyama. Forgive me for the sins of my youth.

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So much for Fatal Fury being a Street Fighter II clone, eh? Fatal Fury was actually in development at the same time as Street Fighter II. Fatal Fury has a special place in my gaming heart. I fondly remember it best for its 2 player co-op mode, where you and a friend can team up to fight the thugs at the same time. This gave it a unique atmosphere, almost as if it were an old kung fu flick. I have so many memories of my brother and me battling South Town’s most corrupt and dangerous villains. From the ageless Tung Fu Rue, who could morph into a muscular monster, to the enigmatic dancing Duck King. With incredibly lush and vibrant visuals, it made for a damn fine alternative whenever the Street Fighter II line went past the entrance. In some ways I even liked Fatal Fury more than Street Fighter II as a kid.

This was mind blowing back in 1991!
This was mind blowing back in 1991!

It was so cool how the levels you fought on would change from round to round. At first it’s sunny but then evening would befall the battle tested warriors. Tung Fu Rue’s stage haunts me to this day, even nearly 30 years later. The second my brother and I saw those heavy raindrops falling from the sky, complete with ominous thunder and lightning, we didn’t know whether to wind our watches or crap our pants. I remember standing there at Safeway completely frozen in awe. To this day it remains one of my fondest gaming memories. Another night I recall fondly occurred either in late ’91 or early ’92. Fatal Fury just came out and my uncle took us to a mom and pop rental shop. We rented WWF Survivor Series 1991. My brother and I were so hyped to see the championship match pitting the Immortal Hulk Hogan against the impervious Undertaker. But instead of rushing home as we normally would following a WWF tape rental, we found ourselves fixated on tag teaming against Tung Fu Rue as the arcade screen rained cats and dogs.

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Our uncle, being the awesome uncle that he was, stood by the arcade cab cheering us on. Not many games could put Hulkamania on hold, but there was something special about Fatal Fury that resonated with me. Those colorful backgrounds and their wondrous transitions haunt me to this very day!

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While flawed, Fatal Fury was a fun game in its own right. While Street Fighter II featured smoother gameplay and placed an emphasis on combos, Fatal Fury (from Nishiyama’s own words) “focused more on storytelling and special moves.” Although Fatal Fury lacked a combo system, it did feature some amazing special moves. Since there were no combos, you had to rely on pulling off your special moves at just the right time in order to gain the upper hand. Special moves are the lifeblood of Fatal Fury. Fatal Fury also had a pretty good story. You play as one of the Bogard brothers (Terry and Andy) or Joe Higashi. Your goal: avenge your father’s death. The man responsible: South Town’s crime lord, Geese Howard! Sure it sounds simple, but there is much beauty in simplicity.

I was so hyped seeing this in EGM circa January 1993
I was so hyped seeing this in EGM circa January 1993

As was the case back in those days, one could only dream of owning the mega expensive Neo Geo system. Therefore, most of us mere mortals had to rely on sized down 16-bit conversions that were either hit or miss (often times seemingly more miss than hit). Sadly, Fatal Fury was a massive miss. My brother and I were ecstatic seeing it previewed in the vaunted pages of EGM in early 1993, but a small part of our childhood died when we finally played it months later. I won’t even bother to review it. It’s a super disappointing conversion, eliminating the 2-on-1 game mode that made the original so damn fun and appealing.

Sure it looks nice but...
Sure it looks nice but…

At first glance, it looks promising. Although obviously scaled down visually, it looks pretty damn good for a 1993 Super Nintendo game. It captures the lush and vibrant colors of the arcade. F’rinstance, Andy’s massive energy wave looks fairly on point. But beyond excluding the 2-on-1 mode, the gameplay suffered due to its terrible control. The sound quality was poor as well. It was a far cry from the arcade original and that made me very sad as a kid.

What a missed opportunity...
What a missed opportunity :(

ROUND 2… FIGHT!!

One of the best quotes in fighting game history
One of the best quotes in fighting game history

Following the “death” of Geese Howard at the end of the first tournament, a new leader stepped in. And not just any Average Joe [Higashi -Ed.], it was actually Geese’s half-brother, the vile Wolfgang Krauser! Talk about keeping it in the family…

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MORE FIGHTERS! MORE MOVES! 20 MEGS! YEEEAH!!
MORE FIGHTERS! MORE MOVES! 20 MEGS! YEEEAH!!
Damn right
Damn right

HIDING IN PLANE SIGHT

Two planes let you escape the action for a strategic bit
2 planes let you escape the action for a strategic bit

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The first Fatal Fury didn’t allow you to manually switch planes. But here you can, and it’s much better this way. It added in a wrinkle and made battles more strategic.

Just another reason why I love the SNES controller :)
Just another reason why I love the SNES controller :)

The six buttons on the SNES controller was fully utilized. Instead of pressing two buttons to switch planes like in the arcade, all you had to do here was push R. Nice! So while the arcade original is obviously superior, little tweaks like this made the SNES port easier to play in some ways.

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Projectiles are much easier to avoid, and thus a bit devalued as a result.

You can even smack them into the next plane!
You can even smack them into the next plane!
You can also attack from one plane over. Sweet
You can also attack from one plane over. Sweet
Jubei's stage is the best for plane jumping ;)
Jubei’s stage is the best for plane jumping ;)
Jump kicking through paper screens is rather satisfying
Jump kicking through paper screens is quite satisfying

A few stages have their own unique gimmick. On one stage you can shatter paper screens or “hide” behind them, making you feel like you’re in a Bruce Lee film. There are other stages where you can even send your rival into various hazards in the background, causing extra harm. More on that later…

Good shit
Good shit
It never gets old :D
It never gets old :D

ADDITIONAL FEATURES

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Everyone can jump back to avoid attacks. Also, anyone can crouch while moving forward at the same time. Not just for the more agile fighters but everyone, including Big Bear. There are also counterattacks. All of this made Fatal Fury 2 a much deeper game than its predecessor.

You can also taunt... if you're the scoundrel type
You can also taunt… if you’re the scoundrel type
They always come crawling back... or forward
They always come crawling back… or forward

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Although home ports could never match the faithfulness of its arcade original, home bonuses such as the Elimination Mode was always a welcome sight.

LET THE TOURNAMENT BEGIN

If you're gonna steal some ideas then take from the best
If you’re gonna steal some ideas then take the best
Andy was my guy. Terry for my brother. Art imitates life
Andy was MY GUY. Terry for my bro. Art imitates life

THE KING OF FIGHTERS

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It’s nowhere near as iconic as Ryu’s dojo rooftop but it’s memorable in its own right. Battling on a roaring railroad train, the passing scenery is majestic but the action is brutal and barbaric. Few landmarks scream AMERICANA more than Mount Rushmore, which you can catch a glimpse of in all its sweet glory.

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Overlooking the exquisite sights of Italy, combatants wage war on a boat that’s anything but the Love Boat. As stated earlier, Andy’s always been my guy [Who are you, Woody? -Ed.] when it comes to the Fatal Fury franchise. He’s got the coolest special moves in (South) town…

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Set in a quaint Thailand village, the hardworking women look on as they cheer their local champ who is anything but an ordinary Joe [You just had to, didn’t you? -Ed.]

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Japan is well known for its bustling night life but Mai prefers to whup your ass on this private wooden raft. Gorgeous waterfalls and exotic statues grace the background.

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Proud of his Korean roots, Kim shows off his skills in a busy part of town that showcases Korea’s rich sense of culture and tradition while also embracing modern sensibilities. Best of all, this stage is home to a hilarious sight gag. Timed precisely, you can knock the elderly off their bikes! Talk about some dark humor…

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I love how Jubei kicks off his wooden clogs right before each fight, and how big they appear as they fly into the screen. Speaking of screen, his stage is one of my favorites because of all the paper screens. They’re irresistibly fun to mess around with, whether you’re “hiding” behind one or busting through one!

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Hong Kong makes for a gorgeous backdrop. The skyline is absolutely breathtaking, and it’s awesome to see it transition from early evening to late evening between rounds.

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The big Aussie, proud of his digs, wrestles all foolish challengers in the Australian outback. Having earned a large following, a small legion of his most fervent fans cheer on the big man as he attempts to rip apart his latest victim. All about branding, Big Bear even has his own personal big rig on full display. Raiden who?

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DESPERATION SUPER SPECIAL MOVES

C'mon Nintendo Power. Seriously?!
C’mon Nintendo Power. Seriously?!

Fatal Fury 2 introduced desperation moves. These super moves, often featuring a complicated command, can only be performed once your energy bar is low and flashing. They are powerful and hard to pull off.

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Damn, Kim. Have some mercy!
Damn, Kim. Have some mercy!

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Jubei with all that old man strength
Jubei with all that old man strength

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“YOU AIN’T THE BOSS OF ME!”
[OH YES I AM, ACTUALLY -ED.]

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For fighting games back in the early to mid ’90s, the inherent thrill of a home port was undoubtedly the strong possibility of a boss code. The very idea of playing as the boss characters at home — you know, the same ones that kicked your ass in the arcade — was titillating. Sure, home ports back then could never dream to approach the lofty standards set by their arcade original, but the really good ports were able to capture the spirit of the arcade while providing you with some awesome home bonuses. Look no further than Fatal Fury 2 which has a handy code allowing players to use any of the 4 bosses, expanding the roster from 8 to 12. Talk about a fantastic Easter egg!

Lets check out those bosses shall we!
Let’s check out those bosses shall we!

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An ominous fog permeates in the background. Watch out for those massive cogwheels — Billy Kane can smack you into them causing extra damage. Of course, this means you can do the same to him… ;)

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Balrog, you say? Never! :P At any rate, Axel Hawk (what a name) is a mean sucker who uses his environment to his advantage. He can pound you into the electric ropes, zapping you of whatever will remains in your bruised and battered body. But similar to Billy Kane, you can do the same…

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Those stampeding bulls don’t discriminate. In the words of Richard Vernon (played by Paul Gleason), “Don’t mess with the bull — you’ll get the horns.”

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Wolfgang’s elegance and refined taste is on full display here. This is the only boss stage without a background hazard. It’s actually quite fitting and symbolic. Just like Heisenberg, Wolfgang Krauser is the danger and the one who knocks.

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When you finally dethrone the bastard, he goes out in dramatic fashion á la The Nature Boy, Ric Flair!

ADDING INSULT TO INJURY

Knocking em into the giant gears is so damn gratifying
So damn gratifying knocking ‘em into the giant gears
Exhibit A: Well-timed duck, bravo! Exhibit B: Someones been skipping Squat Day
Exhibit A: Well-timed duck, bravo!
Exhibit B: Someone’s been skipping Squat Day
Axel Hawk reminds me of King Hippo from Punch-Out
Axel Hawk reminds me of King Hippo from Punch-Out
Ah, such sweet sadistic memories :P
Ah, such sweet sadistic memories :P
Looks like he messed with the bull
Looks like he messed with the bull
Make that 25 YEARS now! And counting
Make that 25 YEARS now! And counting
I like how it borrowed inspiration from World Heroes
I like how it borrowed inspiration from World Heroes
Talk about a hilarious sight gag
Tung Fu Rue: “I’M TOO OLD FOR THIS SHIT!”

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BONUS QUESTION

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Besides the boss code, what was a guaranteed staple of fighting games from the early ’90s? If you said the obligatory bonus stage, bingo! Fatal Fury 2 has two. The first appears after Round 4 and the second after Round 8.

Would have been ho-hum without the plane system
Would have been meh without the two planes
Love making it just in the nick of time
Love making it just in the nick of time
Second one is similar, just swapped out with bricks
Second one is similar, just swapped out with bricks
Its not Capcoms car, but its not too shabby
It’s not Capcom’s car, but it’s not too shabby

GHOST STORIES, DEBAUCHERY AND MORE

In the wrestling biz that's known as great selling
In the wrestling biz that’s known as great selling
Ouch, I guess no Little Bears will be running around
Ouch, I guess no Little Bears will be running around

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I love a good ghost story. When I was a kid my uncle would regale us with his tales of terror and all things that go bump in the night. He spoke in a way that evoked haunting images in my soul, sending a wave of shivers up and down my spine. You’ve probably heard various stories about the Boogeyman or the Wendigo, but have you ever heard the story of The Lady With No Feet?

Beware of The Woman With No Feet...
Beware of The Lady With No Feet…

In Korea there is an infamous legend of a ghost woman and her two young ghost children wandering the streets in desperate search of the woman’s husband. Thousands of eye witnesses over the years have claimed to see them passing by on dark cold nights. The legend goes, the mom has walked so much that her feet fell off!

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One anonymous man had this to say, “One night I was walking home per usual. Suddenly I felt a blast of cold air devouring me. I gazed up and there she was. I asked if she needed help but then I looked down and saw she had no feet. Frozen in terror, I watched in horror as she proceeded to float right through me. As she passed by I heard the awful wailing of “WHERE ARE YOU, MY LOVE?” Her two children skipped around me singing a lullaby, emotionless. By the time I turned around they were all gone. Vanished. Without a trace. And ever since that night I have never walked that path again… the Lady With No Feet is still out there… somewhere in the darkness. She’s watching… waiting… right behind you…”

WHOA... maybe Kim is the missing father!?
WHOA… maybe Kim is the missing father!?
Missing his foot, too! Is this how the missing dad died?!
Missing his foot too! Is this how the missing dad died?
Paper screens in Jubei's stage offers plenty of hi-jinx
Paper screens in Jubei’s stage offers plenty of hi-jinx
Hard to believe that film was almost 20 years ago!
Hard to believe that film was almost 20 years ago!
WHAT?! I would *never* do anything juvenile
WHAT?! I would *never* do anything juvenile
[Of course. Jubei... more like Pee-wee M I RITE -Ed.]
[Of course. Jubei… more like Pee-wee M I RITE -Ed.]
Press X, A, R -- oops... Ryo was in Fatal Fury Special
Hmm, where have I seen and heard this before?
Ah, right
Ah, right

ACTION FIGURE-O-RAMA!

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Instead of your standard gaming advertisement to promote Fatal Fury 2, Takara ran a rather clever promo. They offered free miniature one inch Fatal Fury 2 action figures. It was a brilliant piece of business. Or maybe it was just Takara’s little way of saying sorry for the first Fatal Fury port. At any rate, I absolutely ate this up as a 10 year old kid at the time. I waited 2-4 weeks for my random action figure to arrive. In the meantime I was even more hyped for the pending arrival of Fatal Fury 2. So it worked like gangbusters. Genius marketing by Takara!

Those 2-4 weeks were also spent wondering who Id get
Those 2-4 weeks were also spent wondering who I’d get

You didn’t know which of the 12 fighters you were going to get so that added to the excitement. To this day I wonder how many of these little bastards were made and how many are in homes today — relics kept from one’s childhood. I’m curious to see what the rest of the figures look like. From the four I’ve seen, the detail on these small figures were actually quite phenomenal especially considering they were free (more or less, not counting the two 29 cent stamps required).

Stamps in 2019: 55 cents. Stamps in 1994: 29 cents
Stamps in 2019: 55 cents. Stamps in 1994: 29 cents

I wanted Andy Bogard of course. My brother said if I got Terry that it would be his to keep. What a punk. It turned out to be a moot point in the end as a blue Wolfgang Krauser greeted me in my mailbox roughly a month later. I had the little guy for the next 7 years until I traded him away in a package deal along with Golden Axe: The Duel for the rights to Street Fighter Collection (Sega Saturn) via GameTZ on December 31, 2001. Damn, that was eons ago. I kind of wish now that I had kept the little blue guy. Oh well.

One day before 2002. Damn, feels like a lifetime ago
One day before 2002. Damn, feels like a lifetime ago
Good times we shared. Bubble baths, long walks, ah [Im not one to judge but er... -Ed.]
Good times we shared. Bubble baths, long walks, ah
[I’m not one to judge but errr… -Ed.]
Great stuff, TAKARA!
Great stuff, TAKARA!

GREAT JOB WIL OVERTON!

Wil Overton designed the amazing Super Play covers
Wil Overton designed the amazing Super Play covers
Wil's attention to detail was IMPECCABLE
Wil’s attention to detail was IMPECCABLE

WHAT THE CRITICS SAID

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Fatal Fury 2 did well with the critics. It earned EGM’s Game of the Month honor in issue #58 (May 1994). EGM gave it scores of 9, 8, 8 and 8. Super Play rated it a respectable 79%. It was arguably the first Neo Geo port on the SNES that garnered praise and recognition for being a faithful and solid translation.

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CLOSING THOUGHTS

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After seeing Fatal Fury 2 earn EGM Game of the Month honors, my brother gave me the go ahead to rent it as soon as possible. As my brother and I booted it up, I could feel a certain unspoken level of trepidation between the both of us. I think part of us, despite the rave review from EGM, still expected the worst. That’s how bad the first Fatal Fury port was — we were scarred. But I’m very happy to say the sequel passed with flying colors. SNES owners finally had a Fatal Fury worth playing on their Super Nintendo.

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25 years ago I viewed Fatal Fury 2 highly. 25 years later I still think it holds its own quite well. Graphically it captured the essence of its arcade brethren. Visuals are lush, vibrant and colorful. Some desperation moves, such as Joe Higashi’s towering tornado which goes from top to bottom, are a sight to behold. Control wise, while it doesn’t have the perfect control of Street Fighter II, it’s fairly precise. Sure, the music and sound could be a bit better but it plays well, thus making combat easy and fun to play. The boss code is the icing on an already well made cake. Adding 4 new fighters to the fray made Fatal Fury 2 a serious contender and one that fighting game fans could truly sink their teeth into.

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With 12 fighters to pick from, a unique two plane battle system, memorable backgrounds, and plenty of cool special moves and devastating super specials, Fatal Fury 2 is quite the package. I liked it a lot back then and I still like it now. Although long gone are the days where one had to rely on the Super Nintendo for their Neo Geo fix, it doesn’t change the fact that this was a very competent port for its time. Fatal Fury 2 proved that not all hope was lost when these arcade monsters were ported over to the SNES, and that the possibility of capturing the essence and spirit of the arcade original was feasible.

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I still throw Fatal Fury 2 in my SNES for a few rounds every now and again. The SNES controller’s six button layout allows me to experience the game in a way different from the arcade, which earns the SNES port major cookie points with me. You also had some awesome home bonuses like the Elimination Mode, handicap levels and of course the boss code, which made it feel more like Fatal Fury 2½. It’s just a great effort all around, and one that made me forgive TAKARA for the atrocity that was the first Fatal Fury port. And that’s saying a lot!

Graphics: 8.5
Sound: 7
Gameplay: 8.5
Longevity: 8.5

Overall: 8.5

Double Silver Award
Double Silver Award

 

 

 

106 MEGS OF POWER
106 MEGS OF POWER!

Over the years you might have noticed that I always list the meg count of every SNES game I review. There’s a good reason for that. Ever since I was a kid I’ve been fascinated by MEG count. The Neo Geo had some ridiculous 100+ meg games, and as a kid it was always fun to see how big a certain SNES game was. The meg count varied on the Super Nintendo from 2, 4, 8, 10, 12, 16, 20, 24, 32 and 48. For sure, the size of a game does NOT indicate how good it is. Some of the best SNES games are only 4 megs. Some still look great for their lack of megs while others boast a much higher meg count but look far worse. It was just part of the fun back in those days.

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20 megs was my favorite of the lot. 20 is a nice round number, and there weren’t many SNES games that were 20 megs. Less than 10. Speaking of 10, 10 MEG games are a close second favorite. There were only a small handful of them. I remember when Final Fight 2 first came out, my friends and I wondered to ourselves, “How many megs? 8 or 16?” Then you read in EGM or GameFan only to find out it was neither. Instead it was 10 MEGS. You couldn’t help but chuckle as 10 was a very uncommon meg count. In homage of those good old days, I make it a point to cite the meg count of each game off the bat! It’s just something I love to do, and I feel it’s all part of preserving the history of the Super Nintendo.

Fatal Fury franchise belongs on Neo Geos Mt. Rushmore
Fatal Fury series belongs on Neo Geo’s Mt. Rushmore
Until we meet again, Bogard brothers!
Until we meet again, Bogard brothers!