The Super Nintendo enjoyed many quality years during its run. I personally believe 1994 was its best year in terms of quality and quantity. The SNES not only hit its stride but it also hit the most home runs that year. Super Metroid, Final Fantasy III, Donkey Kong Country, the list goes on and on. Among those heavy hitters you had a string of solid doubles. These games flew under the radar because they weren’t big names. They’re not as good as the AAA classics but they sure have a place in any robust SNES collection. The Twisted Tales of Spike McFang is one such example. Lost in the shuffle at the time, today it finally enjoys the recognition it so richly deserves. But just in case you missed it, here’s a closer look!
THE TWISTED TALES OF LITTLE DRACULA?!
Confession time. I loved monsters growing up but I was never a big fan of Dracula. He was always kinda meh to me. However, one morning in the early ’90s I was channel surfing when I came across a brand new cartoon, Little Dracula. I was instantly hooked. There was something about a kid Dracula that greatly appealed to me. Not too long after my dad bought me a Little Dracula action figure and I carried it around with me almost everywhere I went. Sad I know, but hey, I was a kid! Fast forward to the summer of ’94. When I saw the EGM preview of Spike McFang I instantly thought about my dear old friend, Little Dracula. For a second there I even wondered if Spike McFang was loosely based off Little Dracula. Sadly I never got around to playing Spike McFang until my SNES resurrection in 2006. I was determined to buy all my childhood favorites as well as all the games I always wanted to play but never did. So was it worth the wait? You bet your glowing eyes it was!
THE STORY GOES…
STARRING AND CO-STARRING…
ITEMS AND SKILLS
Spike has two ways to attack. For starters, you can chuck his top hat at the bad guys. The hat starts out basic but there are variations you can upgrade to which makes this attack far more potent and efficient.
Another way to kill bad guys: Spike’s deadly cape. But don’t spin too much or else you’ll disorient the little guy!
A. Fighter Island
C. Castle Dracuman
E. Kalala Desert
F. Village of Vampires
G. Ice Palace
H. Jungle of Mazes
I. Castle Von Hesler
LET’S GET THIS SHOW ON THE ROAD!
Clarence puts young Spike through a series of tests. Play the following if you’d like some musical accompaniment. Let’s check out the first test…
Aaa-ohh HEY you! Who said that, baby how you been?
You say you don’t knoooow, you won’t know until you begin
Can’t you see me standing here, I’ve got my back against the record machine
I ain’t the worst that you’ve seen. Oh can’t you see what I mean?
Might as well jump. Jump! Go ahead, jump.
Might as well jump. Jump! Go ahead, jump. JUMP!
[Alright, back to our regularly scheduled programming -Ed.]
Here we see how effective throwing his hat can be. It’s a great long range weapon when you can’t rely on Spike’s spinning cape.
Eventually, Spike and Clarence duke it out. It’s the timeless tale of student vs. teacher, pupil vs. master, mentee vs. mentor. Defeat Clarence to earn his respect and fulfill one rite of passage. Plenty more to come!
Ever heard of the term energy thief? These people talk to you and do nothing but sap your energy by being incredibly self-centered. They just love to talk your ear off. The good news? Professor Steam is quite the opposite! Talking to him restores your health. What a charmer, eh? Meanwhile, Mr. Stonehead will save your game. As the song goes, I get by with a little help from my friends.
GLLUUURRKK! For 20 gold he’ll crank out a random card for ya. Never know what you’ll get. Fun, useful and doesn’t cost much at all. The best of all worlds.
Carry different cards and switch them by using the shoulder buttons. Simply press A during battle to activate the selected card. They range in purpose; some are more useful than others. Best saved for boss battles.
Like other action RPGs (although I’d classify this game more as an arcade action adventure), Spike can level up accordingly at different intervals. This increases his health points. It’s as basic as can be. No ring menus here. Just press start, get to hacking and let the good times roll.
Colonel Hydra has invaded the castle of Dracuman and has placed her spunky spitfire of a daughter, Felina, in charge.
Ah nevermind. No secrets. Just Spike freaking McFang.
Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the… moat. I love the chibi look of this game. Spike looks like a Duplo toy figure. It’s all very endearing and captures your fancy in a way that you wish more games would.
Sid is Spike’s trusty old moat-dwelling er, brontosaurus type thingy… friend… yeah. Look, let’s just say he’s super helpful!
And you thought all those jumping tests by Clarence way back when was just for his cruel amusement. Not so!
Ah can’t ya see me standin’ here
I got my back against the record machine
I ain’t the worst that you’ve seen
Ah can’t ya see what I mean
[Look, I love Van Halen as much as the next guy but… -Ed.]
Funny moment, this. Spike gets a little too cocky for his own good. And this Stone Head, well, he doesn’t take kindly to young ‘uns disrespecting elders. Blockhead sends Spike smashing through a wall!
Next time you feel like opening your mouth and spouting off, kids — THINK TWICE, BE NICE. On the bright side, for your troubles you do get to save your game.
Here we come to another entertaining bit. Spike attempts to spring off with the greatest of ease. Unfortunately for him, he’s a bit of a klutz you see. Poor guy, he goes crashing into the dirty moat water below.
Good news: You killed all the sharks.
Bad news: You can’t swim.
Some friends will always have your back. Be good to them!
Damn, you knew the mother spider had to be hiding out somewhere…
These annoying felines do their best to impede Spike’s quest.
Who will win? Only you can decide!
Later in your adventure Rudy joins you. He’s a handy companion helper controlled by the computer. But there’s actually a code that allows Player 2 to control Rudy. At the title screen press Down, B, Left, B, Up, Y, Right, Y. One of the best SNES codes ever!
The townsfolk add some solid atmosphere to the game. I just wish there was even more NPC interaction and that the journey was a bit lengthier.
The gift flower is super helpful. Gifts of all sorts sprout out when you smack it. However, hit it too many times and it disappears. But maybe try going off-screen and coming back…
WHAT THE CRITICS SAID
As you can see, the critics enjoyed Spike McFang and his twisted tales. Super Play gave it an 82% score and ranked it #96 on their Top 100 SNES Games List that they ran in issue #42 (February 1996). EGM gave it ratings of 9, 8, 8, 8 and 8. Sadly, this game flew under the radar when it was released back in the summer of ’94. However, glance at any “Sleeper” or “Hidden Gems” Super Nintendo recommendation list today and there’s a good chance The Twisted Tales of Spike McFang is on there somewhere. And rightfully so!
Summer 1994. It was a great time for me; a time of innocence, a time of childhood and a time of many wonderful games. It took me nearly 15 years but I finally got around to play and beat The Twisted Tales of Spike McFang. Other than it being awfully short, I wasn’t disappointed. It’s got plenty going for it: a very likable protagonist, fun and varied attacks, some memorable key friends, nice graphics and satisfying gameplay (even if it’s rather linear). It’s also got some fun boss battles, a quirky enemy roster and general wackiness that you just don’t see in very many Super Nintendo games. There’s just something about Spike McFang that makes you stop and go, “Now here’s a funky game that marches to the beat of its own drummer.” And you can’t help but love it.
The Twisted Tales of Spike McFang is an underrated little gem all Super Nintendo owners should play. It’s a charming adventure that, while extremely short, delivers the goods. The biggest downside is the game takes roughly three measly hours to beat. I would love to have seen a 15-20 hour game instead but the nice thing is you could finish this in one (semi) lengthy sitting on a lazy Sunday afternoon. It’s not something you have to clear your calendar for, and for many of us in today’s busy adult world perhaps this is more of a blessing than a curse. It’s very straight forward and short. Just plug it in, press start and let the good times roll. It’s an adventure I find myself coming back to once in a blue moon. Still, part of me can’t help but wonder what if they added in multiple routes, side quests, more locales to hit up and more plot twists — all packed in a 15 to 20 hour world. Instead of being one of the better hidden gems on the system, it could have been one of the better SNES games, period. But I digress. I’m plenty happy with what we got, don’t get me wrong. It’s short and sweet. And sometimes that’s exactly what you want. It’s not going to rock your world the way The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past or Terranigma did, but you likely won’t regret giving this the time of day.