World Heroes (SNES)

Pub Dev: Sunsoft | September 1993 | 16 MEGS
Pub & Dev: Sunsoft | September 1993 | 16 MEGS

The clock just struck midnight as of this writing. It is now July 28, 2017. That means only one thing to me: World Heroes has officially turned 25 years old. Wow. Released on July 28, 1992, World Heroes was one of the earliest Street Fighter II clones to hit the arcade market. If you don’t know by now, I kind of have a thing for World Heroes. I loved it from day one and have been a fan of the franchise ever since. In fact, when I began posting on video gaming forums in early 2001 I even used a Hanzou avatar. Ask different gamers what their favorite franchise is and you’ll hear your usual suspects: Metroid, Zelda, Castlevania, Street Fighter and so forth. But me? I would be lying if I didn’t cite my (sentimental) favorite of all time is probably indeed World Heroes. I know that sounds crazy but man, 25 YEARS. There’s no better way to honor the milestone than to look back at one of the most underrated arcade to SNES ports of all time.


Neo Geo Nook!
Neo Geo Nook!

I’ll never forget that summer day back in 1992 when my brother came running home and told me all about this hot new arcade game. He said it plays like Street Fighter II but it has crazy “Death Matches” or something. He said there was freaking Hulk Hogan in the game! Of course, being a Hulkamaniac at the time, I was sold. Hell, I was sold at the mention of Street Fighter II.

I instantly became a fan for life
It was love at first sight

I can’t tell you how many quarters I wasted on this game. In fact, while the lines ran long for Street Fighter II, I was more than content playing World Heroes on the opposite end of the store. It was definitely an underdog and that made it even more appealing to me. I’ve always been drawn to the more obscure or less touted games, and World Heroes was no exception. My best friend Nelson and I loved it to death. We loved Street Fighter II too but there was something about World Heroes that we really identified with. When Sunsoft released the SNES port, Nelson was all over that bad boy and we spent so many nights in late 1993 playing the game until the cows came home. Some of my fondest gaming memories came from that fall and winter of 1993 just staying over at Nelson’s and playing World Heroes until our thumbs went numb.







Seeing the title screen scroll on and on as the cheesy tune blared is forever embedded in my soul. ADK developed the arcade game but it was Sunsoft that reprogrammed it for the Super Nintendo. Sunsoft did such an amazing job with the translation and they never got the proper credit for it. But more on that later.







Advantages of having a six button SNES controller, eh? The arcade version had a funky control scheme where you had to tap the buttons to produce a light attack, but press the buttons normally to use a stronger strike. Well, the SNES fixes this and allows you to assign each attack to a specific button. This made playing World Heroes smoother than ever before.

I wrote this 10 years ago exactly. Make that 25, not 15
I wrote this 10 years ago exactly. Make that 25, not 15
Damn right!
Damn right!


5’9″ 152 lbs

Essentially Hanzou is the Ryu of World Heroes lore. Confession time: I always thought he was a lot cooler than Ryu. I mean, the Hadoken is timeless but Hanzou throws ninja stars. NINJA STARS! Ruy’s Dragon Punch is legendary but Hanzou’s version actually has a freaking dragon wrap itself around him! The Hurricane Kick is deadly but what if you added ninja blades on each end? My heart still would go with Hanzou if the two ever met in a fight, even though I know Ryu would beat him because it’s Ryu.


Love this background. Especially how the pigeons fly off at the start.

See? Its the little details!
See? It’s the little details!













Hanzou can throw up to two ninja stars at a time (always thought that was so cool how the projectiles in this game vary whereas the projectiles in Street Fighter II were “static”). He uses his blades to cut deep into his opponent while spinning like the rotor blades of a helicopter. His best special move however is the majestic soaring Dragon Uppercut. It’s easily my favorite special move in the history of fighting games. I was instantly sold when I first saw it back in the summer of 1992.

5’9″ 154 lbs

If Ken were made into a ninja, this is the end result. I love me some Ken but a ninja version of Ken? I’m so there. Fuuma as you might have guessed is Hanzou’s eternal rival. They share a similar moveset (that slowly differentiated as the series went on) but Fuuma is considered the more reckless and flamboyant of the two. You know, just like Ken. His Dragon Uppercut sees a red dragon wrapping itself around his body as opposed to Hanzou’s blue dragon. Did Ryu and Ken have that visual distinction in their Dragon Punches in Street Fighter II? No sir. Just one more reason why I favor these two ninja warriors.


A beautiful mountain (Mt. Fuji?) can be seen in this stage. Monkeys act a fool in the background. A quirky and rather endearing backdrop if I do say so myself.













Fuuma’s ninja star can be big or small depending on the strength of the punch button you use. Nice. He’s also got the same Dragon Spin and Uppercut as Hanzou. Their moveset is identical in this first game but began shifting in the sequel(s) to come.

5’5″ 130 lbs

Long before Fei Long (Super Street Fighter II) and Law (Tekken) there was Kim Dragon! The original Bruce Lee wannabe in fighting games, Dragon strikes hard and strikes fast. His Dragon Kick is easily one of the coolest special moves in fighting game history, right up there with Hanzou and Fuuma’s Dragon Uppercuts. But perhaps most memorable of all are his Bruce Lee-like “HA CHOO!” battle cries.


Duel in front of some monks and youngsters training to be the next Dragon. Love this temple setting — it fits Dragon perfectly.



















Dragon Kick is a thing of beauty. He’s got faster hands than E. Honda and he can even throw your ass in mid-air. They nailed his Bruce Lee mannerisms nicely. He can even bounce off the side of the screen! One of the most underrated fighting game characters ever made.

5’6″ 117 lbs

Honestly, growing up I was never a huge Chun-Li fan. I actually didn’t like using a lot of female fighters. But one of the few exceptions was Janne. Based off 15th century Joan of Arc, Janne was the first female fighter I can remember having a fireball (beating out Sonya Blade from Mortal Kombat by five days). Not only that but she fights with a sword — a FREAKING SWORD! ‘Nuff said.


I used to wonder as a kid, “Why the circus for Janne? What does Joan of Arc have to do with the circus?” Well, years and years later, I found out the Ringling Bros. did a “Joan of Arc at the circus” show in the early 1900s.

Weird but true...
Weird but true…

I love it when a childhood mystery is solved! :)













Janne’s Aura Bird projectiles vary in size and speed depending on the punch button used. Again, I love this quirk about the game. Not many fighting games did the size difference thing, only the speed. Her Flash Sword is a good anti-air attack. Thought Chun-Li’s head stomp was annoying? Imagine a sword slashing you through the skull instead. Yup, Janne was a bad, BAD woman.

5’7″ 265 lbs

Based off the founder and emperor of the Mongolian Empire, Genghis Khan, J. Carn fulfills the E. Honda role. As a kid I used to daydream a lot about a Street Fighter II vs. World Heroes crossover. The rosters were so evenly matched that it’s a shame it never happened. J. Carn wears spiky gloves and has a spiky ball on his shoulder that he reveals during one of his special moves. Though he lacks a projectile, he’s not one to take lightly.


I like the colors of the sky there. Carn’s cronies watch their master dole out the latest beatings here.













Julius Carn doesn’t mess around. His Mongolian Smash hits you with a spiky ball. Pounding his fist into the ground produces the Mongolian Dynamite. (It irks me though that getting hit by this move doesn’t produce a fiery animation). More agile than he looks, he can slide under fireballs and take out his competition.

6’7″ 298 lbs

If you grew up a wrestling fan in the late ’80s then you know all too well who this guy was inspired by. Eat your prayers and train your vitamins (you know the whole spiel), this Hulk Hogan wannabe is the biggest fighter in the game. Hulk Hogan was one of my favorite wrestlers as a kid so I couldn’t help but laugh my ass off the first time I laid eyes on Muscle Power. In the sequels to come ADK made him look less and less like Hulk Hogan so that’s another reason why I’ll always be incredibly nostalgic for the first World Heroes. Muscle Power is in all of his Hulkamaniac glory!


Duke it out in a wrestling ring seemingly suspended high up in the air! The Statue of Liberty can be seen in the background. A steel cage surrounds the combatants of this war zone. Pretty gnarly.

Where have I seen this before?
Where have I seen this before?
Ahhh, mmm hm
Ahhh, mmm hm



















Muscle Bomber shows off his deceptive agility. On a side note, people like to say this game ripped off Capcom so much. Interestingly enough, Capcom made a wrestling game in 1993 that was known as Muscle Bomber in Japan (Saturday Night Slam Masters in North America). I guess what goes around comes around. Speaking of around, the Tornado Breaker is sure to cripple your opponent.

6’1″ 441 lbs

At first glance, he appears to be a ripoff of M. Bison and Inspector Gadget, but he’s actually based off Brocken Jr. from the Kinnikuman anime and manga series. Unlike the other fighters in this game, Brocken is the only one not based off a historical figure. Yes, it might be a stretch to call Hulk Hogan a historical figure but you get the picture. Speaking of stretch, that is one of Brocken’s strengths. As kid I thought he was the ultimate hybrid of M. Bison and Dhalsim. Plus he was the first character I chose when I first played this game so I will forever have a soft spot in my gaming heart for Brocken.

Brocken Jr. from the Kinnikuman series
Brocken Jr. from the Kinnikuman series


This background scrolls vertically, reminding me a lot of Rolento’s stage.

Rolento from Street Fighter Alpha 2
Rolento’s stage from Street Fighter Alpha 2



















Brocken is the only fighter in the game who can set opponents on fire as well as electrocute them. I always loved the animations on these effects so it made me an even bigger Brocken fan. His Hurricane Arm is a solid anti-air attack. Of course, stretching his extendable limbs made him a unique fighter. Hell, ADK even gave him a Bison-like torpedo attack. It was a lot weaker and more of a joke but I love how you can actually control his flight. Fun times with that stupid little move :P

5’11” 150 lbs

It’s pretty obvious who Rasputin was based off of. As the games went on he was made more and more — how should I put this — homosexual, but I like how they played him pretty straight (pardon the pun) in the original game. But you could definitely see there was something different about him! He’s one of my favorite characters from the franchise. I dare say I play a pretty mean Rasputin. I fondly recall beating my friends in a World Heroes tournament back in 1993 using Rasputin. Good times.


I love how you can see mice scurrying across the ground. This is one of those haunting backgrounds that I remember seeing in the arcade over and over again.



















Rasputin couldn’t stretch like Brocken but he is able to slightly enlarge his hands and feet, which made him feel somewhat like a pseudo-stretch fighter. I like the look of his fireball — it’s exactly what I imagine a fireball to look like if I close my eyes and had to imagine one. He’s also the first character in fighting game history that I know of who has an air fireball! His Spinning Robe is definitely silly but points to the fact that World Heroes was never afraid to poke a little fun at itself. It was part of the game’s charm. Finally, who could forget his classic giant yellow hand crush? That visual is seared into my memory bank even 25 years later!


Damn Doc Brown, so that's how you get down
Damn Doc Brown, so that’s how you get down
But of course...
But of course…
Oh shit
Oh shit
Hey, he did technically beat Shang Tsung by five days!
Hey, he did technically beat Shang Tsung by five days
Mortal Kombat came out on August 2, 1992
Mortal Kombat came out on August 2, 1992







Geegus fights in some sort of spacecraft that overlooks earth. He was based off the T-1000 from Terminator 2: Judgment Day.

The best summer blockbuster of 1991, or ever
The best summer blockbuster of 1991, or ever







Geegus melts into a pile of liquid-y goo after a one round defeat.







Morphing into the other fighters, he’s able to recreate any of their special moves. I love how when you beat him the crystals in the background explode into tiny little pieces.







Geegus implodes at the end. He’ll be back for the sequel…













Hmmm, now where have I seen this before?













Seriously? Those ADK lads had no shame!







Laziest ending for a fighter belongs to Brocken. “Gee, I didn’t even work up a sweat!” I bet the programmer who made this laughed thinking the same!







Fuuma’s ending pissed me off as a kid, I recall. It made me question if it was a dream all along. No, damnit, FUUMA IS FOR REAL! Ahem, sorry.

The sequel thankfully treated Fuuma as real
The sequel thankfully treated Fuuma as “real”
And we start to see the "cracks" with Rasputin...
And we start to see the “cracks” with Rasputin…


Battle a giant boulder?
Battle a giant boulder?
That turns into Arnold?!
That turns into Arnold?!
Uh, OK then...
Uh, OK then…


This is what set it apart from the rest of the clones
Damn right!

Besides the odd bits of humor and the fighters largely based off of historical figures, what made World Heroes stood out to me as a kid were its Death Matches. My brother wasn’t lying when he called them crazy. You can fight in the regular mode (regular stages with no hazards) or you can duel to the death in the Death Match (combatants are dropped in a wrestling ring with various hazards). This is where dark humor comes into play and made World Heroes such a blast, pardon the pun… ;)










For the victim, yes. But to the victor goes the spoils
For the victim, yes. But to the victor goes the spoils


They all have their various hazards and most of these stages have hazards that can inflict extra damage to the fighters. Only the straight up Butter Match (it’s just slippery) and the Hair Match do not cause extra damage. The Hair Match is a hoot because you get to see your defeated opponent shaved bald post-match!

























Insult added to injury! The Hair Match is a classic representation of the dark humor that World Heroes has in spades. It gave you that extra jolt to trash trash your brother and friends. Made for some damn great times.







Sending your opponent into the hazard to shave off extra health always felt so damn satisfying. Best of all is the “Aftershock Effect.” Beat an opponent and watch him fly into the electric ropes post-match complete with slow motion! It’s a thing of beauty that was sadly removed from the sequel (the Aftershock Effect).







Brocken was the best to use in Death Matches because you can set them on fire right before they get electrocuted. Hey, it’s all about the small pleasures in life.







Certain moves should be avoided in the Death Match unless you have enough room. Way to go, Fuuma.













Whoever designated the Mine Match to Muscle Power was effin’ brilliant. He’s got no projectile and he’s a bit of a lumbering brute. Just stand behind a mine and watch him take himself out! :D













Electrocuting someone before they bounce off the burning ropes? Priceless.













Getting a little cocky there, are we, Brocken? One of the funniest things is beating someone with this flying attack but hitting the hazard with next to no health remaining. Can you say Double KO in the most embarrassing fashion possible? As a kid I remember doing this just for shit and giggles.







Thanks to his reach, Brocken was made for the Death Match. He almost had a built-in advantage due to the length of his limbs.













Nothing beats the triple whammy. Shock ‘em with Brocken. They land on a mine. Then death by electrocution. Seeing this in “Aftershock Effect” is the way to go.













Sacrifice knows no bounds.



















“Aftershock Effect” in slow motion never gets old.


Jumping strong kick
Jumping strong kick
Crouching weak kick
Crouching light kick
Jumping strong kick
Jumping strong kick
Standing strong punch
Standing strong punch
Dragon Uppercut
Dragon Uppercut



Standing strong punch
Standing strong punch
Still stunned...
Still stunned…



Standing strong kick
Standing strong kick
Double hitter!
Double hitter!
Jumping strong punch
Jumping strong
Standing strong punch
Standing strong punch
Double Hitter!
Double Hitter!
Jumping strong kick
Jumping strong kick
Crouching weak kick
Crouching light kick
Standing strong kick
Standing strong kick
Jumping strong kick
Jumping strong kick
Crouching light kick
Crouching light kick
Justice Sword!
Flash Sword!
Standing light punch
Standing light punch
Standing strong punch
Standing strong punch
Fire Bird!
Aura Bird!
Jumping strong punch
Jumping strong punch
Standing light punch
Standing light punch
Standing strong kick
Standing strong kick
Jumping strong punch
Jumping strong punch
Standing strong punch
Standing strong punch
Standing strong kick
Standing strong kick
Muscle Bomber
Muscle Bomber
Standing strong punch
Standing strong punch
Standing strong kick
Standing strong kick
Jumping strong punch
Jumping strong punch
Standing strong punch
Standing strong
Spark Thunder!
Spark Thunder!
Jumping strong punch
Jumping strong punch
Standing light punch
Standing light punch
Standing strong punch
Standing strong punch



As someone who poured countless quarters into the arcade game, I anxiously awaited the SNES port with bated breath. My best pal Nelson was also a huge fan. I didn’t buy many SNES games back in the ’90s. If my brother and I were lucky, we got three games a year. You might think World Heroes would be one of those scant few purchases. Nope. My best pal Nelson bought a copy the week it came out and since we hung out nearly 24/7, there was no need really to buy the game. If he didn’t come over with his copy of the game then I’d be at his place. Occasionally, we had our other friends over for a tournament marathon. And like a best friend would do, Nelson graciously loaned me his copy from time to time.


In the fall of ’93, my uncle from Texas visited my folks. He was full of life. I hadn’t seen him since the late ’80s. I remember teasing him about how his favorite team the Phoenix Suns came up short that year in the NBA Finals. He didn’t appreciate that much.

That same weekend I happened to borrow Nelson’s copy. It was the first night my uncle came to town so he was a bit tired. He kicked back on the couch and watched as I fired up World Heroes. My uncle was not a gamer but he had nothing better to do so he just laid there and watched. I went with Dragon and it wasn’t long before my uncle started cheering me on as I tackled the two ninjas, Hanzou and Fuuma. My uncle really took a shine to Dragon. Probably because he was always a huge Bruce Lee fan.


I remember explaining to my uncle how the two ninjas were the main stars of the game. “What? If you ask me, THAT’S who the star should be! He’s Bruce Lee for crying out loud! How can you top that!?” Huh, being a huge Hanzou and Fuuma fan I never thought of it that way, but my uncle had a point. My same uncle who never played a single video game in his life before. What was happening here?!


It was around 6 PM or so because I remember the sun starting to set in the sky. I was set to fight Janne next when my mom called me to set the dinner table. But my uncle had other plans, apparently.

“Relax sis, we’ll be there in a second. First we gotta handle our business though, right Steve?” He gave me a wink as I looked back at him laying on the sofa. It’s an image I’ll never forget. World Heroes really captivated him. Him! Someone with NO interest in video games whatsoever. I’ve always had a special bond with the World Heroes franchise but it was at that moment in time my bond with the game went to that next level.


He sure did. We got my mom to agree to let me have this one last match, which was against Janne, and my uncle suddenly became my coach. Calling plays from the sofa, he kept yelling “Dragon Kick!” Even my mom stopped to witness the mad scene. I saw a strange smile crept across her face as she watched her younger brother and her youngest son bonding through, of all things, a video game. It’s a memory and image that has stuck with me to this day.

One last memory I have to share: it was Thanksgiving weekend 1993. I remember it so well. Back then I had my best friend Nelson, I had my other grade school friends, and then I had an out-of-town gaming group of family friends. We had some of the most epic sleepovers in the history of mankind. Just imagine three or four different families all partying under the same roof until the wee hours of the morning. The parents would reminisce about the good old days downstairs while the kids played video games galore upstairs. It was a glorious time.

On this particular sleepover bash, I had with me Nelson’s copy of World Heroes. My Gaming Crew and I had a World Heroes tournament that night. My friends were good but I was better. They owned me in Street Fighter II but when it came to World Heroes I had no equal. And that fine evening, I proved it in the tourney.


I played one mean Rasputin back then. No matter who they used or what tactics they tried, I always came out victorious. They had no counter for my Rasputin antics. I even made all of them rage quit on me. We then popped in Super Bomberman and I remember they all ganged up on me. I didn’t win a single Bomberman match that night. But was it worth it? Oh yeah, you know it ;)

Good ol' Raspy and I kicked some serious ass that night
Good times



World Heroes didn’t do so bad with the critics. EGM gave it ratings of 6, 6, 6 and 8. Super Play rated it 77%. However, there was some controversy created out of EGM’s less than stellar scores. Personally, I find their ratings to be fair. I can see how a fan would give this port an 8, but I can also see why someone different might give it a 6. It is a great port but keep in mind by the time this came out, Street Fighter II Turbo was already out and that game is a thousand times superior. If only Sunsoft were able to release it closer to mid 1993 then I think it would have fared a lot better. Anyway, the producer of the SNES port reached out to EGM in issue #52 (November 1993) to air his grievances.




Dan’s letter and EGM’s earnest reply filled up the whole page! Two months later (issue #54, January 1994), EGM printed a World Heroes review PRO and a World Heroes review CON letter from fans. This too filled up an entire page which was quite rare of the magazine. It was certainly an interesting read of both sides of the coin.

Well Danny my boy… if you’re out there somewhere in the vastness of cyberspace… if you somehow happen to see this, I do want to tell you… YES, you made a HELL of a port and I know when you saw the EGM ratings you felt like you wanted to…


But hey…

I could not believe the ad used the B word...
I could not believe the ad used the B word…

Just kidding, Dan. Great job, buddy.

[Don’t ever buddy me again -Dan MacArthur]


Two of the coolest special moves in fighting game lore
Two of the coolest fighting game special moves ever

Gawd damn. 25 years huh. Where does the time go? 25 years ago today World Heroes first hit the arcades. I soon fell in love with it and it’s probably my number one sentimental favorite gaming franchise of all time. The SNES port is vastly underrated. Sunsoft did such a great job bringing home the visual stylings, the brutal Death Matches and the super easy to chain combos. A speed option would have helped but the regular speed isn’t too bad. Being able to change the controls to optimize the six button SNES pad makes this game infinitely more playable and enjoyable as a result. I feel like this port never got the credit it deserved back in 1993. Hell, it holds up rather well even nearly 25 years later.


The fighters are HUGE! There isn’t a trace of slowdown anywhere. Special moves which made my jaw drop the first time I saw them in the arcade have all been faithfully translated. Even the Aftershock Effect remained intact! Speaking of which, the Death Matches add a touch of dark humor. World Heroes strikes that lovely balance of taking itself seriously enough yet at the same time a bit tongue-in-cheek to create a memorable playing experience. Although the sound effects lack the oomph you’d like to hear from a fighting game, some of those stage tunes are jamming. Dragon’s theme is stuck in my head. The announcer does a good job and those death cries are among the best I’ve heard in the genre.


Maybe in the end World Heroes is the kind of game you had to have experienced back in the summer of 1992 to truly appreciate. If you were to pick it up today for the first time I can easily see how it may be dismissed after a few rounds and viewed as a poor man’s Street Fighter II. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea. But for me, it was my jam 25 years ago. I still play the SNES port every now and again and it’s held up remarkably well. Happy 25th anniversary, and here’s hoping there’ll be a World Heroes 3 before all is said and done. But hey, at least we got World Heroes 2.

Graphics: 8.5
Sound: 7
Gameplay: 8
Longevity: 8

AwardsOverall: 8.0
Silver Award


I marked out when I saw this earlier this year!
I marked out when I saw this earlier this year!


Christmas Memoirs

It's the most wonderful time of the year...
It’s the most wonderful time of the year…

Ah, Christmas. As a kid growing up, there was something truly sacred about Christmas. It was a magical time of the year where miracles happen and wonder is in the air. Every kid I knew looked forward to Christmas. Whether we were writing letters to Santa or out shopping at the local mall with our parents, Christmas was magic. And the best time of the year to be a kid. As soon as that calendar strikes October, you were in kid Heaven. Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas. The promise of frights, food overload and video game presents. I’ve had some great gaming-related memories of Christmas over the years. Here they are :)


The first video game that changed how I saw gaming
Sega had truly taken gaming to THE NEXT LEVEL

In December 1989, my brother and I owned an 8-bit Nintendo. We loved it dearly. But one day we went to our family friend’s house. Denny was raving about his new game system, the Sega Genesis. I was only six years old, but I remember it as if it was yesterday. Denny showed us the cool clamshell box of Altered Beast. The art on the cover blew me away with its wild beasts and savage wolf man. Before Denny opened the box he asked me, “How big do you think the game is?” Hmmm, I figured since it was bigger than Nintendo, surely the cartridge had to be huge. Denny shook his head with a sly grin. He slowly opened the box to reveal the tiniest cartridge I had ever seen in my life. I was stupefied. The next big leap in video gaming was that small? Denny popped Altered Beast in and I sat back to watch. From the moment the game fired up and I heard the infamous voiceover “WISE FROM YOUR GRAVE!” I was hooked and sold. The graphics were jaw dropping! So too was the sound. I never looked at gaming quite the same after that fateful December day of 1989.

Altered Beast altered the game...
Altered Beast forever altered the game…

Over the years I remember going back to Denny’s place a lot during December. We held many family friend gatherings there. I remember watching him play games like Dynamite Duke, Thunder Force III and Gaiares. Man, what a time of innocence it was. Not only were we on the verge of a new decade, we found ourselves standing smack dab in a new generation of hi-tech gaming! And life, well, life was awesome. But just when I thought gaming couldn’t get any better, it did…

One of the greatest level one bosses ever
One of the greatest level one bosses ever!


It was the vacation that changed my life...
Some vacation trips stay with you for the long haul…

I was eight years old on vacation with my family and friends. My family forged a strong friendship with four families. Between the five families you had 10 parents and 16 kids (11 boys and five girls with birth years ranging from 1977-1987). We had some of the most legendary sleepovers in the history of such. We had monthly sleepovers and each time we would stay up until 1, 2 AM playing video games. It was a glorious time, and some of the best times of my childhood.

In December 1991, the parents wanted to go skiing at beautiful Lake Tahoe. We rented out a huge cabin where all twenty six of us stayed. It was insanity! The brothers, Tommy and Denny, packed their newly acquired Super Nintendo. This is the same Denny that first introduced me to the Sega Genesis and Altered Beast. You know how in every childhood gaming circle there was that one guy who got all the coolest newest games and systems first? Denny was that guy. Tommy and Denny also brought Super Mario World, Final Fight and F-Zero.

I loved Home Alone but I didn't want to live it out!
I loved Home Alone but I didn’t want to live it out!

That Sunday morning I woke up to an empty cabin, with weird noises emanating in every which direction. A cold chill swept down the back of my neck as I tip-toed downstairs timidly. Desperately calling out the names of my family and friends, it wasn’t long until I realized I was the lone prisoner trapped inside this cabin from hell.

The only response I received for my cries was the hissing of the cabin. I felt a chill creep over once more. Some thing wasn’t right…

Once I managed to make my way to the kitchen I found a note taped to the fridge with my name on it.

All alone in that demonic looking cabin... or was I...
All alone in that demonic looking cabin… or was I…

The rest of us got up early to go out for breakfast. We’ll be back soon. You stayed up really late last night so I wanted you to get the extra rest. Make yourself some Honey Nut Cheerios and don’t watch too much TV. We’ll be back very soon.


Gee, thanks mom. I’ll be sure to remember this when I go to the booth next week to cast my vote in for Mom of the Year! I opened the fridge and saw an ice cold can of 7 Up. It was my favorite soda but there was no chance in hell I was going to brave it down that demonic looking hallway to make it to the restroom. No siree!

Ever feel that someone, or something, is watching you?
Ever felt that someone or something is watching you?

Ever feel a presence in the room with you? That someone, or something, is watching you? That’s how I felt on that cold, dreary December morning of 1991. But being eight years old and resourceful, I believed spirits would never mess with me if I had the radio or TV playing — they only attacked those who were alone. So I turned on the tube and came across a WWF show. Ah, wrestling. It’s always comforted me and did so here. But before long the show ended and I was left thinking about what evil spirits might be milling about. That’s when I spotted Tommy’s Super Nintendo lying on the floor. All the older “cool” kids were taking turns with it the night before, and the younger kids (of which I was right on the cusp of) could do nothing but peer on wishing life had dealt them a better hand. So it suddenly dawned on me that this was my chance. This was my moment.

It's true what they say: you never forget your first time
It’s true — you never forget your first time

Powering up F-Zero, I was instantly transported to Mode-7 Heaven. Every single racing track blew my mind. I couldn’t believe how fast it played, and how AMAZING the game looked. And that MUSIC… oh man. F-Zero led me from thinking about ghosts to obsessing over intergalactic racing warfare! Later I plugged in Final Fight and found myself saving the good citizens of Metro City one jaw dropping stage after another, as I smeared the streets with the blood of the hooligans from the Mad Gear Gang. I had never seen such state-of-the-art arcade-like graphics before. The characters were unbelievably HUGE and at times I found myself wondering, “WHERE THE HECK IS THE COIN SLOT?!”

Back in 1991 this was absolutely mind blowing!
Back in 1991 this was absolutely mind blowing!

I played Final Fight until my family and friends came back. Part of me was ecstatic to no longer be alone in the cabin from hell, but something funny happened during my inaugural SNES playthrough. It made me forget about malicious ghosts and evil spirits. It instead transported me to the future of video gaming, where you could snap a guy’s neck in two and soar 200 feet across a race track suspended high above a futuristic city — all in stunning graphics and sound. Even 25 years later, I still recall that Christmas with great reverence :)


There was a certain Christmas magic in the air
There was a certain magic in the air that night…

My mom and I used to go to the mall all the time. It was one of our traditions. She took me after school every Friday, rain or shine. I loved it because this was a time in life when the world was a different place. Even as young as 8, my mom allowed me to hit up my stores while she went shopping for clothes. This gave me a great sense of independence and for about 30 minutes I was on my own completely! I always visited Suncoast, Kay Bee Toys, Walden Books, Sam Goody, and of course, the classic SOFTWARE ETC.

Now rarely did she ever end up buying me anything once we reconvened, but that was never the point. It was fun enough thumbing through books, EGM magazines and drooling at the various action figures. It was the feeling that it produced. Just knowing you were on your own for half an hour made going to the mall a fun time. But the best times always came during Christmas season.

That little blond kid was me just a year or two ago...
That little blond kid was me just a year or two ago…

The mall Santa was there taking pictures, kissing babies and shaking little hands. At nine and a half years old now, I was too old for that stuff, but not old enough to not still believe in the magic of Christmas. So instead of sitting on Santa’s lap, I simply sat back from afar to admire what had been, and what once was.

My mom came over asking if I wanted to meet the mall Santa, but I told her I was too old. She looked at the kids rushing up to Santa just 20 feet away from us, lost in her thoughts. Somewhere in her aging face I saw her loosen up, as if she suddenly missed the days when I was that young scampering around. Perhaps it was the right kind of Christmas magic I’d need for what was about to transpire on that most magical late December evening…

Oh, SOFTWARE ETC. My childhood...
This was like a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow!

There it was, plastered in big and bold blue letters. I always made it a point to hit up SOFTWARE ETC. each time we visited the mall. Of course, I could only dream of my mom complying to buy me a video game. Still, like a moth to flame, those bold blue letters always sucked me in. I stood there that evening in sheer awe of the endless shelves of SNES goodies — games in which I could only dream of owning. And then, there it was. High on the shelf I saw it, shining like a beacon of light. KING OF THE MONSTERS for the Super Nintendo! It was just one short year ago that I’d beaten the arcade and thought to myself, “Man, I can’t wait for this to come home!” And now, it finally has. Only one problem, of course. How can I convince mom to buy it? Standing there, staring at the pristine shiny King of the Monsters box, my mind desperately raced through everything I could think of in order to weigh the odds in my favor.

I didn’t have very long to think…

“C’mon honey, we gotta get back home now.”


“What is it?”

The box sat high on the shelf like a beacon of light
What kind of compelling, poetic point would I make?

“That…” I pointed to the King of the Monsters box sitting on the top shelf. “I want that.”

OK, so much for poetic language and convincing arguments.

My mom gave me “the look.” Uh oh. In the history of “momkind” the look has never been good news. Whether it was a look of frustration, disappointment or disgust, the look has denied kids an untold number of desserts, toys and video games. This task, I could tell, was going to be about as easy as Quantum Physics.

“Honey, that’s fifty five dollars.”

“No, it’s fifty four ninety nine!” I quickly countered. HA! I thought I had her — ahh, the bliss of being nine years old…

“Well actually with tax it’s about sixty,” she corrected.

Well DAMN. Talk about backfiring!

And then, out of nowhere, it hit me. My trump card. I explained to her how it was my favorite game, how I had to have it, and how much joy it would bring Kevin and me. And that if she bought it, it would count for not only my Christmas gift but also my birthday as well.

My mom grabbed the box to examine it closer. “Hey, isn’t this the game you played all night last year at Chuck E. Cheese’s? Is this the same one?”


This only took me an hour and about 5,000 quarters
This only took me an hour and about 500 quarters

December 1991. My parents took me and my brother to our favorite place, Chuck E. Cheese’s, to celebrate the end of the year. My mother was rather strict so these rare opportunities where she allowed us to binge on our desires were not taken for granted! They ordered two large pizzas and got us 50 tokens. I knew where I was going to be for the rest of that night — at the King of the Monsters cab determined to beat it! It took me some time and way too many quarters to count but at last I did it, all while my mom sat back at the table eating unwanted leftover pizza crust and watching the whole thing go down.


I nodded furiously and watched as my mom bit her lower lip, contemplating what to do. Finally, after what seemed like forever, she took the game to the counter. I stood there in awe watching as they swiped her credit card. It was the first video game she bought for me. Outside I could hear the chattering of youngsters and the HO-HO-HOs of the mall Santa. The Christmas season was ringing in full force, and this bit of Christmas magic only punctuated the moment. My brother and I played King of the Monsters as soon as I got home. It turned out to be a ho-hum translation but at the time I remember not caring a great deal about that. I was just grateful and still buzzing with excitement at the fact that the Christmas magic was still alive and well!

Downtown Christmas display was a family tradition
Downtown Christmas was our Yuletide tradition

A couple days after my mom bought the game, I was playing it one night with my brother when she urged us to turn it off so we could drive downtown to see the fancy Christmas lights. It was a basic tradition in my family that every Yuletide we do so. I love the lights but that year my parents had to pry me away from my Super Nintendo. I guess as my brother and I got older, the more my mom fought to keep tradition alive. Like how she wanted me to sit on Santa’s lap the night she bought me the game. I guess that’s something I’ll find out for myself one of these days… [Sitting on Santa’s lap? How kinky. I see you’re on that naughty list… -Ed.]

Just when I thought it couldn't get any better...
But wait! That Christmas is about to get even better

Christmas ’92 proved to be one for the record books. In addition to my mom buying me King of the Monsters, that same year our uncle bought us Death Duel. I remember the ad from EGM. It looked cool and all, but honestly, my brother and I were a bit disappointed. Of all the games on our wish list, Death Duel certainly wasn’t even in the top 20. We tried not to complain though as our mom always taught us to be grateful and that any gift was better than none at all. Still, Kevin and I went home that night talking about how awesome it would be if Death Duel magically transformed into Super Mario Kart instead (the game that topped our Christmas wish list). It was rare that my brother and I both wanted the same game — he was a “mainstream” guy while I was more fond of the obscure underdog titles. However, Super Mario Kart transcended all of that. It was just that kind of game.

Good thing my brother was still only 11 at the time!
Good thing my brother was still only 11 at the time!

And then, as we were talking, an epiphany struck us. We suddenly recalled the ad for Death Duel in EGM. We pulled out the latest EGM issue that we had bought weeks earlier and madly flipped through it in search of our great loophole. Ah, there it was. Not suggested for children under 14. I was only nine and my brother was 11. My brother wouldn’t be able to play Death Duel for another three years! And five for me! Not that we couldn’t break the rules but when the rules benefit you, why not follow them? ;)

Everyone wanted this game that Christmas season
Everyone wanted this game that Christmas season

After showing the ad to our mom, just as we predicted she would, she promptly called our uncle to explain the situation and asked if he kept the receipt. Luckily, he did and since we hadn’t opened the game yet, it was ripe for a swap. So later that week my mom took me and Kevin to exchange Death Duel for Super Mario Kart. I remember thinking that it was the greatest trade in the history of mankind. I still laugh thinking about this Christmas memory. Who knew a silly ad could bring about such a dramatic turn of events? :D

We became kings of our block
We became the kings of our block
Thanks for a great Christmas memory, Death Duel
Thanks for a great Christmas memory, Death Duel


This quickly became my next most wanted game
This quickly became my next most wanted game

Leading up to Christmas that year I was completely fascinated with Interplay’s Street Fighter II clone, Clay Fighter. Endless controversial ads filled the pages of gaming magazines and I studied the many previews drooling in sheer anticipation of this new promising fighting game. And who could forget the Clay Fighter ad campaign? I sure haven’t — it’s one of the greatest ad campaigns in 16-bit gaming history.

SHOTS FIRED. Interplay wasn't messing. It's war!
Oooh! SHOTS FIRED. Interplay wasn’t playing around

I still remember fondly my cousin calling me one night in early December of 1993. It was rare in those days for her to call as we usually just saw each other in person and communicated that way. But on this fateful night she called asking for my Christmas wish list. My heart was racing as I knew there was really only one thing I wanted: a copy of Clay Fighter. I remember explaining to her over the phone what Clay Fighter was, and being positive that she was going to buy it for me. Yep, it was only a matter of days now…

The gist of what I told my cousin that fateful night!
The gist of what I told my cousin that fateful night!
As a ten year old, I thought the ads were super dope
As a 10 year old, I thought the ads were the best

Of course, she bought something else for me. It ended up not being a video game at all. After that phone call and everything, I couldn’t help but feel massively disappointed. In retrospect though, I’m lucky she didn’t buy me Clay Fighter

I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for World Heroes
“C’mon Steve, do the Dragon Kick here! One more time!”

I would be remiss not to mention World Heroes. My best pal Nelson bought it when it first came out around September of ’93, and we played it well into the winter. Nelly even lent me the game here and there. Uncle Ben flew in that Christmas and watched me play as Kim Dragon. Uncle Ben didn’t care for video games whatsoever, but even he was drawn into World Heroes. He rooted me on, suddenly morphing into an armchair gamer! He loved Kim’s Dragon Kick and called for me to do it each time. It’s a quirky memory that has stuck with me all these years.

Christmas '93 was just a great time to be a kid
World Heroes will always have a soft spot in my heart

Christmas ’93 was simply a great time to be a robust 10 year old kid growing up in suburban America. If you had a Super Nintendo, a best friend and you loved fighting games — what a time to be alive! With choices such as Street Fighter II Turbo, TMNT: Tournament Fighters, World Heroes, Ranma ½: Hard Battle and Clay Fighter, there were plenty of fighting games to choose from. The 16-bit war was in full swing, and if you had the SNES and Genesis like I did, you were the ultimate winner.

Nothing like an unexpected post Christmas score!
Nothing like an unexpected post Christmas score!

Having hounded my parents about Clay Fighter and them knowing how disappointed I was that I didn’t get it that Christmas, my mom allowed me to buy one video game in January of ’94. Thankfully, I rented Clay Fighter just prior to this once-in-a-lifetime decree. It wasn’t a terrible fighting game, it just wasn’t very good. My parents took me to Good Guys and I bought Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Tournament Fighters. Ninja Turtles meets Street Fighter II? Take my money, er, my parents’ money!

Yep, sure am glad I picked the right game to buy!
Yep, I sure made the right call!


SNES fans were vindicated with an awesome port
SNES fans were vindicated with an awesome port

Christmas ’94 was marked by the return of my cousin Karen, whom I hadn’t seen in a while. She was now eight and my Uncle Ben also had a one year old daughter, Liz. My bro and I bought Mortal Kombat II for the SNES and we were playing it well into that Christmas season, much to Karen’s chagrin as it would turn out.

Chill Karen, it's only a game. Don't lose your head
Chill Karen, it’s only a game. Don’t lose your head…

When Karen and baby Liz came over that holiday season, we showed off Mortal Kombat II in all its glory. Upon seeing the first blood spewing Fatality, Baraka slicing Jax’s head clean off his shoulders, Karen imploded like a soccer mom at a backyard wrestling event. Grabbing her baby sister in a mad panic, she screamed at us, “OH MY GOD! A ONE YEAR OLD BABY CAN’T BE EXPOSED TO THIS R-RATED VIOLENCE!” The way she yelled at the top of her lungs coupled with her mannerisms made it a moment in time. To this day I still give her a hard time about it whenever we see each other.

As it would turn out, Christmas ’94 was the last great gaming-related Christmas I can remember. Well, that was until…


You could say it was a powerpak'ed Christmas...
You could say it was a powerpak’ed Christmas…

November 2010. I bit the proverbial bullet and purchased an SNES PowerPak. This great device allows you to play almost any SNES game ever created. It comes at a steep price but as I found out firsthand later that Christmas season, it’s worth the asking price. Guess who visited that Christmas? None other than Karen and (no longer baby) Liz. Karen was now 24 and Liz, 17. It’s funny how life comes full circle sometimes.

You can see the love mark my SNES left on the carpet
See the love mark my SNES left on the carpet?

Saturday, Christmas afternoon. Uncle Ben, his wife, Karen and Liz were visiting from out of state and staying at their second home. Uncle Ben invited the whole fam over for a night of Christmas family fun. Normally I take the Sega Saturn with me (for Saturn Bomberman), but this time I thought I’d try the Super Nintendo instead. It was the right call.

Got the goods. Let's rock and roll
Love how it all fitted perfectly. A nice snug fit ^_^

Ah, the advantage of having a PowerPak and not having to haul 20, 25 games with you. With one cartridge you can effectively carry hundreds of SNES games. That alone makes having some kind of flash cart worth the asking price.

That night we went back in time
That night we went back in time

We enjoyed a pleasant family Christmas dinner together that night. Then my cousins Karen, Liz, David, Mia and I retreated to the living room. I unpacked the Super Nintendo to a warm nostalgic reaction. “Oh my God, I haven’t seen one of these in forever!” Karen was most eager of all being that she was old enough to really remember it. The PowerPak worked its magic. I let her browse through the endless list of games. Her eyes popped when she saw Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles In Time. “I remember playing this back in the day!” Karen had turned into a wide-eyed six year old kid before my very eyes. “WE GOTTA PLAY THIS!” she declared. Well, I certainly wasn’t expecting her to pick Mortal Kombat II.

Karen and David started out on the first level. The three of us felt like we were back at the arcades in the ’90s. Liz and Mia, being young teenagers and Wii fans, didn’t get the hype so they didn’t care to join in. But Karen, David and I were having a blast. The Ninja Turtles weren’t the only ones going back in time here…

It felt like we were back in '92
It felt like we were back in 1992

The three of us rotated turns playing the two player mode. Each new stage brought about “Oooh I remember this!” memories. When we made our way to the sewer stage, with the giant yellow pizza monsters leaping out at us, Karen said, “I TOTALLY REMEMBER THOSE PIZZA MONSTERS FROM THE CARTOON SHOW!” We made it to Super Shredder, but soon fell at his evil hands.

Karen, David and I had a blast
Karen, David and I had a, er, blast

After Turtles in Time, we switched over to Super Bomberman 2.  It brought back memories of the early-mid ’90s when my old gaming group spent countless Saturday nights blowing each other up. We ended up playing the SNES from 6:45 to 9:20. We spent the next two hours talking and hanging out. Nothing like quality family time mixed in with a little multiplayer gaming :)

World Heroes 2 is a terrific and underrated SNES port

I slept over at my parents’ house that night since they live only 15 minutes away from Uncle Ben’s second home. Arriving around midnight, I was still in a Super Nintendo state of mind. I immediately popped in the PowerPak and fired up the beta version of World Heroes 2. Although I love the finished product, the beta version is more combo friendly and therefore more accurate to the arcade original. It’s almost like playing two different games! One more reason to love the PowerPak — you can play beta versions (if available) of your favorite games and compare.

Don't have a flash cart? Better catch and ride that wave
Don’t have one yet? Better catch and ride that wave!
Love it but the CPU is tough!
Love it but the computer is tough

After World Heroes 2 beta, I had the urge to revisit another childhood favorite, TMNT: Tournament Fighters. After the tough computer foes put a thorough whupping on my ass, I felt the need to do some whupping of my own, so I fired up Zen Nippon Pro Wrestling 2: 3-4 Budokan.

I like it more than Super Fire Pro Wrestling X Premium

The fatal four way match is good for a quick fix. After this, I went to brush my teeth. My parents had already gone to bed. I turned off the lights and lowered the volume. I hadn’t slept over in a long time so the house making all kinds of unusual noises in the dark was a bit creepy. I decided to go from one obscure Super Famicom import to another.

Fans of the unusual and Pocky & Rocky will like this
Fans of the unusual and Pocky & Rocky will like this

One of the weirdest games on the SNES, Deae Tonosama Appare Ichiban is also rather fun. I had a blast going through the whole game. It was now 2:45 AM, and the house grew eerily darker and darker. It was the perfect time to load up the scariest Super Nintendo game ever created.

Now that's a stocking stuffer you don't wanna see
Now there’s a stocking stuffer you don’t want to see

There couldn’t have been a more perfect setting to play Clock Tower. Weird noises emanated from the house as heavy rain crashed against the windows with fierce velocity. I never imagined in a million years that a Super Nintendo game could actually scare me. But on that night, Clock Tower succeeded. Scissorman left a wake of terror as he pursued me relentlessly throughout the mansion. It was one of the best gaming sessions I’ve ever had.

SNIP SNIP -- I could still hear Scissorman's shears
SNIP SNIP — I could still hear Scissorman’s shears…

It was now 4:30 in the morning. Whoa, I played the SNES from midnight to 4:30. I staggered over to turn off Clock Tower, then I fumbled up the stairs in the dark. I was in a bit of a daze, feeling uneasy still thinking about the grisly images. I crawled into bed and stared at the ceiling in the darkness. What an epic gaming session and what a great Christmas! I laid there for a while just reflecting on the night before drifting off to a deep, peaceful sleep…


Nothing beats a good old epic multiplayer session
Nothing beats a good old fashion multiplayer party!

Once again the PowerPak proved its worth. My brother, his girlfriend and I went to visit David and Mia. We spent the night playing 4-player BS Out of Bounds Golf and 5-player Super Bomberman 5. Nothing screams quality family time quite like blowing up your brother, or knocking your cousin’s ball out of bounds. Both games quickly grew heated as the trash talking (and laughing) compounded. The fondest memory I have of this evening came when David miraculously nailed a miracle trick shot. He bounced his ball against a plate bumper, which then ricocheted its way into the cup. Everyone in the room jumped and shouted in stereo. It was certainly mic drop worthy! We all gave David a hi-five and he wore the fattest grin I ever saw. To see him have that one moment of glory made my Christmas that year. Fittingly enough, we even gave him a golf clap ;)

YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT! [You're SO cheesy... -Ed.]
David bounced a shot off that bumper and in, wow!


Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a very good night :)

Christmas time always brings back such fond memories of time well spent with loved ones and video games. Especially when you were a kid, there was just something special and magical about Christmas season. Whether you received a new video game system or a new video game, many of us have nostalgic memories surrounding Christmas and video games. These were mine. And they’ve stayed with me long after the snow has faded and the lights have been taken down. As tomorrow marks the beginning of winter and as we draw closer and closer to yet another Christmas, I’m reminded of all these nostalgic memories. There’s something about gaming during the winter season that can’t be beat. Those early darkening late afternoons. The whipping rain lashing outside late at night as you play childhood favorites, or unearth new ones. Wherever you are at in this stage of life, may you be blessed each day and a blessing to others, too. After all, isn’t that what life is all about?

Thank you, and God Bless everyone else too ^_^
Thank you good sir, and God Bless everyone else too