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The SNES Rankings IV: Hard Balls and Pole Positions Every game - #600-551

May 9, 2018 at 3:05:52 AM
Brock Landers (55)
< Wiz's Mom >
Posts: 11343 - Joined: 05/04/2014
Federated States of Micronesia
Do you ever wonder if obscure crap like Time Trax is any good?  Or get curious as to how the different Super Scope games stack up against each other?  Ever wish there was a detailed list of SNES games that expanded beyond the usual top 100s? 

No?  Well, fine.  Perhaps you're just trying to kill time at work.  In any case, here I present the complete (and completely and utterly biased and subjective) rankings of every US-released licensed SNES game during the console's lifespan.  Thousands of hours and many years in the making (and one very bewildered spouse later), I have played every game enough to write-up a small capsule review of each and every one of them.

...and many of them are very, very, very, very, very, very bad.  So bad.  For awhile I'm going to do my best to avoid coming across as an Angry Video Game Nerd copycat because that trope has been way overdone and is not especially funny when in the wrong hands.  So bear with these first few hundred games as we wade through forgotten sports titles, licensed platformers, and anything with Arnold Schwarzaneggar on the cover.

What specific process do I use to rank these games?  After all, John Madden Football and Romance of the Three Kingdoms are two very different beasts. 

Well, I have a very scientific method...

Really though it's just gut feelings.  What do I have the most fun playing?  What is the most aggravating, or boring?  Which entries am I eager to revisit, and which ones will I never put in the system again?

Volume I: #714-701
Volume II: #700-651
Volume III: #650-601
Volume IV: #600-551
Volume V: #550-501
Volume VI: #500-451

Games that will not be covered by this project:  SFC/PAL games, competition carts, re-skinned Latin American releases, unlicensed releases, Piko Interactive titles, homebrews, Miracle Piano, combo carts, pirates, Rom hacks, etc.

Disclaimer #1: The images are NOT MOBILE OR VINTAGE FRIENDLY
Disclaimer #2: Write-ups and/or pictures MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS.  Read at your own risk.
Disclaimer #3: I may take a few liberties with dramatic license, or remembering small details.  Some of these games were beaten 25 years ago after all.
Disclaimer #4: I'm going to do my best to keep all reviews independent of other versions of each game.  I don't have time to play every port of Mortal Kombat and then try to see where the SNES version measures up.  And I don't know or care if Hurricanes is better on Genesis or Amiga.  This list is strictly SNES, and how those games measure up against each other.
Disclaimer #5: Many of the games were only played against the AI.  As much as playing co-operative Troddlers or competitive Troy Aikman Football could give me a more accurate empirical opinion, no-one I know is gonna play that shit with me in the 21st century
Disclaimer #6: Again, this is not supposed to be an objective list.  This is just one person's list with all preferences and biases apparant.  So Street Fighter II is gonna be 100 spots lower than where you have it, Mortal Kombat is gonna get bashed, I only have a superficial understanding of hockey and soccer, and Titus games are not that bad.

A special thanks to my editors bronzeshield and Splain for spotting my abuses of the English language and having the patience to slog through them with me.


Writing about every SNES game - Volume VII
SNES Set - 715/723 (Tecmo Super Bowl II)
Switch: SW-6880-6470-3131

Edited: 02/20/2019 at 01:37 AM by Brock Landers

May 9, 2018 at 3:06:02 AM
Brock Landers (55)
< Wiz's Mom >
Posts: 11343 - Joined: 05/04/2014
Federated States of Micronesia
600 - The Wizard of Oz

So the Angry Video Game Nerd walks into a bar and talks about some forgotten old game and everyone who is tuning in jointly agrees that it must be terrible (despite never playing it themselves), and collectively render the game's reputation as forever shitty, never to recover....

I'm wondering why I should even bother trying to cover any of the games he's already looked at.  Most of you have probably already seen his The Wizard of Oz video, so you know what makes the game dysfunctional, and since everything he said was more-or-less accurate enough I feel that anything written by me will just be regurgitating a dead horse (did I just mix up too figures of speech?).  So how does one keep things fresh and interesting?

Well you can't, so instead I'll talk about why I have this game ranked at 600 instead of 700 (or wherever you expected to see it fall).  And I think the answer is a form of Stockholm syndrome.  By that I mean if I see a Japanese publisher's name attached to the cover art, and I like the cover art itself (I'm a sucker for details and bright colors and shiny things and such) some part of me instantaneously enjoys the game more than crude-looking games such as, say... Ballz.  Granted the Japanese publisher and colorful artwork in this instance are both misdirection since the game was developed by a Western outfit, and the actual game itself looks like shit.  Hell, I should have immediately realized where TWoO originated from moments into my first play session because it features any number of the hallmarks of terrible Western game design.  So I guess I don't really know what I'm talking about; I like the game for tricking me into thinking I might like it a little bit, even though I didn't.

Anyways, the culprit in this instance is Seta, who I think overall have an underappreciated catalog of titles on the system.  Or at least they published a number of titles that I want to call cult classics.  Most of them are brimming with rough edges, or rip-off other, better games outright, but I still enjoy most of them nonetheless.  For instance Musya, a very troubled game in many, many ways, is something I have a good time with every time I sit down with it.  I just can't help it and I guess there's something about seeing past a game's warts if it offers nice sprite design, goofy dialogue, or memorable music.  A hipster movie column I followed many years ago would refer to this phenomenon as a "fiasco."  Seta games are usually fiascos of some sort.

Typical levels here have you guiding Dorothy from left to right, dodging lemons, mice, crows, mushrooms, and other silly things, while collecting tickets and yellow bricks.  Why?  I don't know.  I have a vague understanding that you need the bricks to finish constructing the yellow (brick) road at some point, and the tickets are probably reserved for the Wizard or admittance to Oz or something.  Does that happen in the source material?  I can't say for sure because I haven't read the books and I haven't watched the movie in at least twenty years.  There's also a mini-game with Toto where you'll need to do to spell out a phrase in order to spawn magic tickets (or whatever they are), so I assume they're important.

There are also occasional boss fights.  None of them are anything particularly special, but it's better than nothing, and they aren't very aggravating, unlike the rest of the game.  As I've already iterated in a number of these reviews, platformers with boss fights > platformers without them.  After all you need something to break up the action, and bosses do that very nicely.  So as far as I concerned any games like this that forgo bosses are just being lazy.

So is a game that is commonly referred to as one of the system's worst truly deserving of that reputation?  No.  Well, maybe.  It's not very good, or something I want to play, but then again neither are dozens of other platformers on the system, most of which suffer from the exact same problems.  And yeah, it took some effort to force myself to play it enough times to even just write this review, which is always the sign of a bad game.  But again, that has not been an unusual sentiment up to this point in the rankings.  And TWoO does do a few things right, which is more than many of the games I've already covered can say.  So in the end The Wizard of Oz is a fairly bad game, just like so many others, and it is the biggest exception to my Seta rule, as the edges are a bit too rough even for me, with legendarily bad platforming, cheap level design, and annoying bits all helping to drag the whole thing down.  It's really a shame too, because some good ideas do rear their heads occasionally (and briefly), but they're always buried by rest of the game's dreck.  With a little bit of tweaking I think I could have enjoyed it quite a bit.

Did I beat it?
No, I don't think I've even crossed the halfway mark in this game.

599 - The Simpsons: Bart's Nightmare

If you are reading this thread then you're most likely a child of the '90s like I am, and most likely adore what is often referred to as the "golden age" of The Simpsons television show.  And though the exact timeframe of this era is up for debate (seasons 3-8 is probably the closest to the consensus) most older fans will agree that the show was at its best before the turn of the century, and before jerk-ass Homer and Maude's death and so many other things slowly drove the series into the ground.

Well unfortunately for us same children, the video games never experienced such a decline; they were shit from the beginning.  Or at least the console games were, since everyone loved the Konami arcade beat-em-up.  Bart's Nightmare for Super Nintendo and Genesis was probably the most prominent of those games as it was an early title that sold in bunches and was a regular rental for us unsuspecting dupes.  Since I'm sure most or all of us fall into one of those two populations I probably don't even need to discuss the game's shortcomings.  But I'll do it anyways:

Windy World - A "hub" of sorts, this seemingly endless street in Springfield lets you travel to the other dreams (levels) by chasing down pieces of paper blowing in the wind.  You'll also need to avoid various mailboxes, schoolbuses, Jebediah Springfield statue heads, and other Simpsony things out to get you, lest you lose all of your health and wake up, which is an instant game over.  And everything about this stage is annoying and confusing, a portent of things to come.  Stepping into the street is just inviting death since the buses move too fast to react to, yet that is where your homework papers generally spawn.  Your only attacks to fend everyone off are mostly impotent, so you're better off just sticking to the sidewalk and hopping over everything you can.  Blue and red "Zs" will also randomly float by, presumably as a form of health recovery if you can catch them, but the hell if I ever managed to figure out how to do that.  Finally if you do capture one of the pages, you are brought to two random colored doorways.  The choice you make here determines the level you will travel to next.

Itchy & Scratchy - The yellow door, where Bart travels through the Simpsons home collecting various weapons in order to blow away the cat and mouse duo before they kill him.  This is probably one of the better levels in either game [note - Did I mention this is the prequel to Virtual Bart?] , but it's still pretty frustrating and cheap, and you're often dead before you have a chance to react.  It did seem to be the door I secretly wished would appear every time I jumped into a page, so at some subconscious level it must be the one I enjoyed the most.  And I truly did wish to see where it ended, even if I never quite made it there.  So, consider it the de-facto best of the bunch I suppose.

The Temple of Maggie - The orange door, where Indiana Bart Jones navigates an ancient temple, jumping across a series of moving platforms while avoiding birds and devils.  Eventually you'll get hit by something or step on the wrong pillar and drop to your death.  Terrible.  Is this completely luck-based?  Is there a pattern to what is happening?  I vaguely recall reading once that you're supposed to use the fires in the background to hint at your next move but fuck if I could ever make any sense of any of this.

Bartzilla - The green door, this is exactly what it sounds like.  And somehow it is even worse than the temple level.  As a Godzilla clone you need to move through downtown Springfield, fending off endless tanks and choppers that are relentlessly raining death down upon you, while destroying everything and anything in your path.  Despite playing this game a good number of times over the last 25 years I have never made it past the first section of this level and have no idea what you are supposed to do or what exactly the controls are.  Easily the worst mini-game in BN, or either game for that matter.

Bartman - The blue door, where Bart flies through the skies as his (short-lived) alter ego Bartman, dodging rockets, poisonous clouds, and various airborne citizens of Springfield.  Despite being an absolutely terrible shmup, it's probably one of the better parts of the game, which tells you something.  This is actually the only dream I can manage to beat, being fairly short (it's basically a boss rush) and generous with health points and extra lives.

Bart's Bloodstream - The purple door, Bart scuba dives through some pink (body?) fluid, fighting off germs or something.  It plays very similar to an old school arcade game in that Bart can move in any direction, trying to kill enemies that spawn from various directions before they can overwhelm him.  Like a reverse Joust, enemies must be attacked from their bottom or side, at which point they can be finished off by repeatedly tapping A.  It plays alright, I guess, but for whatever reason seems like the door you are  least likely to run across (at least initially).

Aside from the Bartman door, all of these sections feel like they go on for a million years, and none of them have checkpoints.  The cheap hits and deaths also feel like they are endless.  The fact you have to complete the entire game in one go with no passwords or continues means the only solution is to practice every level enough to know exactly what needs to be done, with flawless execution to boot.

So is it as bad and frustrating an experience as Virtual Bart was?  For the most part, yes.  The minigames all suffer from the same types of insufferable gameplay, with endless cheap hits, shoddy controls, or levels that go on for way too long.  It's just a shitty pair of games, plain and simple.  But I am giving Bart's Nightmare the slightest of edges (if that's what you want to call a difference of five spots in the rankings overall) over its sequel because the Itchy & Scratchy level is probably my pick for the best of the bunch, despite not really being any good at all.  And the fact I was able to actually complete one of the levels here has to count for something. 

Also, because you'd have to beat some of these levels multiple times, adding further insult to injury, my hat is off to whoever took the time to conquer this game.  You have a stronger will than I.

Did I beat it?
Nope, not even close.

598 - GP-1

This is the third(ish) motorcyle game I've covered recently, and the third one I've had a miserable time with, with two more coming up shortly.  I often wonder if I seem to group similar games together because my brain isn't capable of keeping the experiences separate in my head, especially as my time playing them gets further and further into the past.  Or perhaps all of these games really are subpar in very similar ways and thusly deserve very similar rankings.  Since no one else will ever be stupid enough to do what I'm doing here we'll probably never know.

Now, I've never ridden a motorcyle in my life.  I don't know how one would properly "tune" them in the settings.  I don't know what a typical race would entail.  And I have no idea how close any of these games are to recreating the experience of racing the real thing.  But my completely uneducated brain seems to think that GP-1 offers one of the most authentic experience on the system.  Why?  I have no idea.  Maybe because it seems really challenging, and motorcyle racing itself seems crazily dangerous.  All I know is it feels the most realistic at some gut level.

This game is also balls hard.  Like, mega-sized balls.  Possibly harder than Kawasaki Superbike Challenge, a game where I have gotten dead last in every single race I've ever attempted, and in general have no idea what is happening the entire time.  Whereas here I know exactly what is going on, and I still get dead last every time.  I don't know what it is about these games, but it takes a genre I'm already really bad at (racing), and magnifies my flaws exponentially.  I'd go so far as to say it is literally impossible for me to complete one lap of any race in this game without either spilling out into the grass after clipping an obstacle or tapping another racer and crashing spectacularly.

It also kind of makes me sad that this is an Atlus-published game.  They're such a powerhouse third party outfit nowadays, and yet they definitely got off to a very humble start with a very lackluster SNES portfolio.  If only they had released stuff like Shin Megami Tensei or Tactics Ogre instead of these stupid GP games, the system's library would have been just that much more impressive.  Though I guess translating a billion lines of text is probably harder than whatever it is they had to do to get this game released.  Probably nothing at all.

Did I beat it?
No, my immediate goal is to complete one lap in the first race with a respectable time.

597 - Hardball III

Baseball game number... four?  Five?  Does it matter? They all run together.  And I love baseball.  But it is not a sport that had great representation on the Super Nintendo.  In fact I'm gonna have to go play it for the fourth time right now just so I can remember how it works and have something to write about.

*three nights later*

Okay, I played it two days ago, but was so bored out of my mind that I didn't have it in me to write anything.  And then last night was pub trivia night so I was too tanked to use a keyboard with any accuracy.  But I'm here now, I'm sober, and I'm gonna write this bastard... right after I play Switch for three hours.

*one month later*

Ok, I can do this.  I can play this game, retain the memories, and then write about it.

*two months later*


Okay, for real now.  This is Hardball III.  In case my dumb little gimmick hasn't clued you in already, this is a boring, boring, boring game.  Which probably isn't shocking because most people think of baseball as a boring sport in the first place.  I personally love it (baseball), but I can still recognize that the pace and learning curve can be brutal things to overcome in video game form.

First off, everything about H3 screams "DOS game from 1988."  There's just something about that color palette and the design of the sprites.  Also, it's ugly, it sounds horrible, and everything about the controls and interface is cumbersome and feels aged.  Now I have no idea if this is a port of an older game, or if it re-uses an older engine and/or its assets, but for a SNES game released in 1994 I can only assume it must be one of those things.  How else to explain such a rough looking and sounding product as this?

But how does it play?  Graphics don't really matter if the action is finely-tuned and exciting, right?  Well unfortunately the gameplay feels as aged as the rest of the game.  Batting and pitching are both incredibly stiff and unfulfilling [Cue Michael Scott - editor] thanks to the ancient way they're implemented.  You see after choosing a pitch or swing type from a preset list of options, you relinquish control over to a canned animation, with minimal input on the player's end.  Now you can decide where a pitch is going, but it seems completely binary; either directly down the middle of the plate, or way outside [That's not true - editor].  By that I mean if you touch the D-pad during your release you will throw a ball.  If you don't you will throw a strike.  I never saw an exception to this rule [Actually, if you tap the d-pad slightly you will throw a strike on the edge of the strike zone - editor].  Batting is even more limited because I honestly don't know if the D-pad does anything at all.  You either swing or you don't, that's it.  Again, those are just my observations, but even if I am mistaken I think it speaks poorly on the game that you can't really tell for sure one way or another.

So how is this a better game than the likes of Cal Ripken Baseball or Roger Clemens Baseball?  I guess because as shitty and unpolished as it looks and feels, and as painfully limited the batting is, most other parts of the game actually work well enough.  Generating offense isn't too much of an issue once you get into a groove with the timing of your swings, and the fielding is competently handled and shouldn't lead to too many misjudged balls, errant throws, or errors in general.  And the game is loaded with real ballplayers, which is always a huge plus in my book.  It also seems like there is a decent amount of customization possible if you choose to dig into it.  So I didn't have any fun with this game, but that doesn't mean others won't, and I imagine kids who played this on their PC back in the day probably had a great time.

Also, everything I wrote in the beginning truly did happen.  I started this damn review in January.

Did I beat it?
No, though I haven't really tried to.

596 - Dream TV

Okay, how is this not an Amiga game?  It has to be.  Those screenshots are a dead giveaway, and I don't care what Wikipedia, or any of the other internets tell me, this was made for that system.  Maybe it was a port of a cancelled game, maybe it was converted to Super Nintendo in the middle of development.  Maybe I don't know what the hell I'm talking about.  But it for sure looks the part.

Judging by the cover art, and presumably a write-up in the manual, the plot has something to do with two kids being sucked into their television, where they must fight skeletons and giant maraschino cherries to escape again.  Or perhaps it's all a dream.  Actually, I'm just gonna say this is an adaptation of Stay Tuned with John Ritter, but that they lost the rights before it was released.  None of that is true, but it's more interesting than this game so I'm going with it.

It doesn't really matter either way because whatever they came up with is obviously just a flimsy setup to justify each of the various levels taking the form of a broadly-defined television genre (fantasy, science fiction, etc.).  And if there is any more to the story than that, I have to profess ignorance anyways.  It's possible the game had cutscenes or dialogue between the levels but I couldn't be bothered to pay that much attention, despite playing this at least a half a dozen times.

The gameplay is one of those mixes of puzzle and platforming that loads of developers seemed to be experimenting with at the time.  You'll traverse relatively open-ended areas, of which there are multiple per level, collecting puzzle pieces in order to unlock a final door that leads to an area boss.  To obtain those pieces you'll need to get pretty familiar with the levels because even in the first one you're looking at a pretty large number of areas to navigate, keys to grab, switches to hit, enemies to avoid, and secrets to find.  Nothing too out of the ordinary, but there definitely ain't no tutorial level to ease you into the action here.  It's sink or swim, and 95% of players will immediately choose to drown.

The one thing that does separates DTV from the pack is cooperative play.  As in, both players can simultaneously move through the levels trying to solve puzzles and pick up items.  On top of that, there are options for both single and split-screen perspectives.  That's pretty damn ambitious for a game from this era, I will give it that.  And it works relatively well too; the nature of the puzzle pieces mean you can either work together, or work on separate areas to cover more ground, giving both players a measure of freedom from one another if they so choose.  Color me impressed.

Now, if this game wasn't obviously ranked so low, which kind of spoils any of my reviews, you'd maybe think I was describing a hidden gem of sorts.  Cooperative play?  Open-ended levels?  Puzzles?  One could be forgiven for starting to believe this is a hidden gem of sorts.  But having all of the elements of a good game (or at least ideas of elements) doesn't mean that everything will come together and make for a fun experience.  Because this game is a drag to play, to put it bluntly.  The combat is horrid, the boss fights suck, trying to figure out what you need to do is often confusing, and the manner in which some of the pieces are found can be pretty obtuse.  The graphics and sound are pretty bad too, though to be fair I'm not the hugest fan of the Amiga "feel."  Not that this is (officially) an Amiga game, but you know what I mean.

The game is also a really big pain-in-the-ass to play solo.  For some really stupid reason you still have to control both characters, and unlike something like The Lost Vikings where each one of them plays very uniquely, the two dudes here are exactly the same.  So instead of using individual abilities to solve puzzles, I just need a second warm body to hold down a button or trigger a see-saw.  It's not fun and it feels like I'm babysitting someone the entire game.  And boss fights are impossible with this setup unless you figure out a very specific thing you need to do in order to survive.

In the end it's a game I've had a few fun moments with, mostly with another player.  And I think the whole concept has a ton of promise.  But the end product is a lackluster one, and really can't stand alongside any of the other similar titles on the system.  So there is absolutely no reason to ever consider playing this when you can have so much more cooperative fun with something like The Legend of the Mystical Ninja or either of Blizzard's Norse titles.

Did I beat it?
No, I could, but just can't bring myself to keep playing it.

595 - Adventures of Yogi Bear

Straightforward and boring.  That could easily be the three-word review of The Adventures of Yogi Bear, with no further explanation needed.  Hell, it's probably the most straight-forward platformer, or the most literal "hop-and-bop" game, that I've ever played. Which means there isn't really a single interesting or unique idea present in the entire game, and that is really annoying as far as coming up with material to write about.  But I'll press on anyways.

As the tiny Hanna-Barbera icon on the right side of the box lets you know (if you somehow aren't already familiar with the property), this is a licensed platformer based on an old TV show from the 1960s.  Our hero is Yogi Bear, clearly a reference to New York Yankee Hall of Famer Yogi Berra, with an overall personality and manner of speaking that are modeled after Jackie Gleason's best friend Ed from The Honeymooners.  HB really got a lot of mileage out of ripping that show off...

Anyways the show itself, to my memory, centered around Yogi and his diminutive buddy Boo-Boo performing various hijinks in the fictional Jellystone National Park, usually stealing pic(a-nic) baskets and annoying their local park ranger.  Well, the game has nothing to do with any of that.  Other than floating picnic baskets.  I don't even think Boo-Boo shows up, giving this game a real case for the laziest on the platform.

Throughout a series of twenty or so levels you'll guide Yogi through a gauntlet of rivers and chasms, grabbing floating items and jumping off picnic baskets, and avoiding various forms of wildlife.  Every few levels you move on to a new area, from forest to underground caves and lakes, before finally ending in a construction zone near the city.  The lake levels feature some brief swimming, the construction levels have slightly harder platforming, but overall barely anything changes throughout the course of the game, besides the new tileset for each area.

And that's the biggest problem with this game; there is never anything to break up the action, or introduce any excitement.  Just an endless series of superficially different levels.  There's no power-ups, just items that give points (which do nothing).  There's no bosses, or notable enemies even.  No real variety to the levels, no appearance of any other characters (as far as I know).  The one single, solitary thing that ever breaks up the action are occasional bonus area you can stumble across, but even those aren't really any different from the main levels.  And they're only fifteen seconds long and immediately take you back to the regular game if you screw up, so they're barely worth mentioning.  Even though I have almost nothing else to talk about.

I guess almost everything else about the game is functional enough, for whatever that's worth.  The controls do their job pretty well as you shouldn't have any problems making jumps or fending off enemies.  The graphics and animation are alright, and definitely do the show justice.  And the game doesn't have much of a difficulty curve, which means it avoids having any cheap moments that are roadblocks to your progress.  Though is the lack of a "con" really much of a "pro?"  I must be reaching here...

Really though, what else can I even say about this game?  It might be the most ho-hum experience on the platform.  No single part of the game is any good, or really that bad.  Every single aspect of it is basically middle-of-the-road.  Which in itself is a bad thing.  I like games that take chances, or at least make some effort towards being interesting.  So I'm giving Yogi this fairly poor ranking, far below many games that have severe issues of one type or another.  Unlike Yogi, at least they tried.

Did I beat it?
Yes, on what I think was the first or second attempt.

594 - We're Back

Yet another platformer based on a kid's movie, which in turn was based on a kid's book.  I only point that out because I owned that book as a kid and read it many, many times, whereas I'm not sure I ever bothered to watch the entire flick.  I'm not exactly sure why that is, maybe because it really looked and felt like a Don Bluth film, and I was never a huge fan of his work (The Secret of NIMH aside).  Something about his style, or the sense of humor in those films always felt so off to me, making them a chore to watch.  Or maybe it was just that this is a stupid film, that took a basic story (dinosaurs in New York City) and added a bunch of dumb and unnecessary plot and padding to it with evil villains, young romance, and terrible musical numbers. 

It was probably both things.

Anyways the video game adaptation of We're Back has you control just one of the menagerie of talking dinosaurs, the T-Rex.  I don't remember his name.  Probably Rex.  John Goodman voiced him.  The only inclusion of the rest of the cast seems to be as power-ups you can grab, the purpose of which I have yet to figure out.  It's no big loss either way because I despise them all. 

Now the size of this T-Rex sprite is, well, large.  He is a tyrannosaurus after all.  But it's also responsible for some of the game's biggest issues.  For instance, because he's so incredibly large and incredibly wide, it means controlling him and avoiding hits are both way harder than they need to be.  Just doing the simplest things become endlessly bothersome nuisances.  Like how Rex has an incredibly annoying tendency to move the slightest amount when you try to flip him around.  That is unforgivable.  And on top of that, his large-ass feet sprites don't actually represent where you can or cannot stand (the very middle of his feet basically), which makes the platforming part of this platforming video game an endlessly series of of botched jumps and landings.  So good luck turning around, because you'll probably fall.  And you can't use your sprite to accurately judge if that will happen.

The combat is pretty dumb too.  Rex can throw an endless supply of tiny rocks (pebbles?), but they move in a maddening arc that will fly over the head of half your enemies, and they have an extremely slow rate of fire.  And why is a T-Rex throwing rocks to attack in the first place?  Seems like the one thing he shouldn't do with his tiny little baby arms.  There's also a tail swipe attack that I unlocked at several points, though I don't know how or why.  A secondary pause screen implies you can power it up too, but it goes without saying that I don't know how that works.  I didn't even notice that screen until my fourth time playing the game for that matter.

The game does at least do one thing right, and that is an overachieving collection of boss fights.  They take the form of various mechanized contraptions that the evil doctor has whipped up, and they are at fairly impressive in scope, especially compared to the rest of this game.  Think of a poor man's Dr. Robotnik/Eggman.  But not as well designed or tightly balanced, with the later ones in fact being super annoying.  Still, they are by far the the best part of the game so I can't be too critical.

So overall it's probably a much worse game than something with a similar standing like Adventures of Yogi Bear, but it also at least has some ambition.  The boss fights are relatively advanced for a kid's game, and there is some actual challenge to the game, unlike most of Hi-Tech Expressions' other offerings.  If they had just fixed the controls and stupidly large character sprite it could have at leats been a mediocre game.  Instead of a bad game that has some poorly-done mediocre parts.  Or something like that.

Did I beat it?
No, in fact I seem to get worse the more attempts I put into it.

593 - Fun 'n Games


Like the box and title so bluntly put it, this is a collection of "fun" programs for painting, music-making, style (?), and two different "games."  In other words, it's a Mario Paint ripoff.  And it's a pretty lousy one at that.

First things first, this game supports the SNES mouse, but it is terrible.  Or I should say, it works terribly, or was terribly implemented somehow.  Granted the thing has aged pretty horribly in and of itself, as it is really hard to go back to an old school trackball-style device in the 21st century, but I found it to be at least somewhat usable with other titles on the system.  For whatever reason that's not the case here, as I could never reliably use it with any accuracy in any of the different modes, with the games in particular basically unplayable with it.  So ditch the mouse and use the controller.  Or better yet, just ditch FnG entirely.  But I digress...

The paint program is... a typical paint program.  Pretty blasé.  You have a canvas, and brushes and pens, and erasers, and all the usual things you'd expect out of any version of MS Paint from the last 25 years.  The only thing FnG even tries to add to the equation is a number of pre-made backgrounds and objects.  And I will admit there is a pretty decent number of them, in case you want to color in a football game, or add dozens of ice cream cones to your beach party.  But beyond that it is pretty barebones, and there doesn't even appear to be a way to save your work.  So why even bother crafting a masterpiece when it is lost to the ether as soon as you shut the system off?

The music creator gives you a standard music sheet, lets you place notes for a dozen instruments, and then plays back your arrangement with the touch of a button.  Again, nothing special or extraordinary here.  The number of instruments is on the higher end, but most of them sound outright terrible and nothing like the real things, and the compositions always end up sounding flat and lifeless.  And again, your work cannot be saved, so crafting long and nuanced orchestrations or sonatas or whatever seems like a complete waste of time.

The "style" section is probably the biggest joke of the lot though.  The entire thing consists of dressing up a single image of a woman by clicking through a number of hats or dresses, or alternatively, "frankensteining" hideous creaturese together with pre-drawn legs, torsos, and heads.  I don't know what the latter has to do with style, and I don't know why they bothered with this part of the game. 

Finally, we have two different games offered; Space Lazer and Mouse Maze.  SL is an extremely basic shooter that has you lining up enemy craft in your targeting reticule and then holding down the fire button until one of you dies.  It's very simple, very short, and not fun.  In fact I cleared it in roughly 4 minutes on my first try and never went back to it.  Why would you when there is no strategy or depth whatsover?  Mouse Maze on the other hand is slightly better, but still pretty bad.  It rips off Pac-Man wholesale, tasking you with guiding a mouse through a cat-infested maze, gathering all of the cheese, avoiding mouse traps, and grabbing bones in order to transform into a dog so you can eat the cats.  It's very generous with extra lives and clearing all 25 levels takes all of about 5 minutes.  And just like with SL, after clearing it once I can't imagine being left wanting more, or ever playing it again.

Overall this is easily the worst of the three "paint" games on the system, and by far the least original.  I guess just like with every other genre that Mario either created or inspired, imitators will always follow shortly afterwards, hoping to lap up some of that success.  And the relative scarcity of this title means it very deservedly saw none of it.

Did I beat it?
Yes.  I even made some pretty doodles.

592 - The Incredible Crash Test Dummies

Why is this a game?  Why is this a property?  Was this a cartoon?  A toy line?  I know it was a series of popular television commercials, but the leap to video games seems like an improbable one.  Not to mention a bizarre one.  Then again we're talking about an era where Max Headroom and teenaged mutant ninja turtles were things, so who am I to question it?

As you can see from the screenshots up above, The Incredible Crash Test Dummies is the billionth platformer I will have covered.  One where several crash test dummies are, umm, trying to escape from the test facility or something.  Yeah, we'll go with that.  And along the way you'll need to avoid various other robots trying to run you over or impale you with toy airplanes, dodge standard electrical hazards and moving spikes, and try to avoid losing your own body parts (they fall off with each hit you take).  That last thing is kind of clever, but doesn't really seem to impact gameplay in any really noticeable way, other than making your hitbox slightly smaller, I guess.  You also pick up wrenches, which act as a weapon, and screwdrivers to recover your health, and small spinny things which give you points or something.  Occasionally you'll find lightning bolts that make you run super fast, bouncing off walls and flying up inclines, or balloons that temporarily inflate your body, allowing you to float in whatever direction you choose.  And there's even spinning sign to run through at each level's end.  Does any of that sound familiar, or remind you of other games from the same time period?

Much worse than the derivative gameplay elements though, is the same issue that affects ICTD's spiritual brother Wayne's World; your view is way too zoomed-in, which makes avoiding enemies and attacks really damn hard and annoying.  Even the initial enemies in the first level will probably catch you with your pants down, again and again.  And, like usual, the only solution is to always move at a snail's pace, or memorize everything's position.  And even then it's still tricky because everything moves so damn fast that you need some pretty twitch reaction times to avoid taking hits.  The developers must of been aware of these issues, because they apparantly tried to compensate by littering the levels with heals.  So you're just constantly taking hits, recovering, taking hits, and recovering.  It make the entire balance of the game feel way off, and not particularly satisyfing.

You'll also occasionally play between-level bonus games.  Think of these as a predecessor to today's endless runners, which is pretty damn far ahead of its time.  But they too suffer from the lack of viewing distance, and end up being boring and frustrating rather than fun.  In fact I don't think I've ever been "beat" one.  Or even know what that would entail.

That all being said, it's not a terrible game, and is much, much better than Wayne's World.  The boss fights can be pretty fun, the game controls well enough with solid movement and a sense of inertia, and the game isn't particularly difficult if you take your time.  But it's still not very good.

Did I beat it?

591 - SimEarth

Who in the world thought this was a good idea for a game?  Can this even be called a game?  You may as well be clicking random buttons in a spreadsheet and hoping it produces interesting results.  No wait, it's more like the "learning" software that you were forced to play on the IBMs in your 6th grade computer lab.  You know the type - your class spent two afternoons trying to figure them out, and sure the resident computer nerd managed to do just that, but the teachers were baffled, and everyone else was bored.  Eventually you choose to boot up Number Munchers or The Oregon Trail for the millionth time instead, and no-one bothered to object.  Trying to play SimEarth circa-2018 will give anyone my age some serious flashbacks to those days.

Right off the bat, you know you're in trouble with the main menu.  The options here are:

- Load Data
- Next Scenario
- Random Planet
- Daisy World
- Dictionary
- Backup Initialize

What in the what?  This has to be the worst one I have ever seen in my life, and I have played thousands of games.  Like, all of the games.  If one exists, and it's not on a TI-82 or something, I've probably played it.  And what they have here is the worst of the worst of the worst.  The lowest of the low.  The win cellar in the... dungeon's... basement.  You get the picture.

How do I start a new game?  Do I need to load data before I do the next scenario?  Is Dictionary a help menu?  Shouldn't that be the "Encylopedia?"  Is there a tutorial of some kind?  What in the sweet merciful crap is Daisy World?  Well I can't tell you the answer to any of those questions because I don't know either.  Everything in this game is an indecipherable mess, and nothing is ever explained to you, and regardless of what you select, you're gonna be baffled.  What are these different modes?  What do the onscreen buttons and indicators do?  What are those wriggling things?  What am I looking at? What DO I DO?

Well I'm not playing this, screw this game, I'm out.

*three months later*

Mother f'er.  I forgot I solicited a short walkthrough of this game from Bea_Iank, asking for her guidance and expertise in helping out stupid dumb peoples such as myself.  And since she of course did just that, because she is a saint with endless patience for my type, I owe it to her (and you I suppose) to at least try a little bit here.  So I'm finding an uploaded PDF of the manual and giving this bastard a second try.  Pray for me.

So to start the manual explains the controls.  That's probably a pretty important part of playing the game, so let's dig in:

O... kay...  That just raises more questions than it answers.  You bring up icons and a command menu?  Is the map my location on the planet or the location on the edit screen?  Is that the same thing?  I guess this is something I'm just gonna have to figure out by doing.  Moving on.

So, an explanation of what to do in the main campaign's first scenario.  Okay, cool, that's helpful.  Granted I need to know how to play the game before I worry about specific strategies, but I can reference this later.  Though why does it keep pointing out I cannot make fire and thusly my civilization can never be modern?  Is that the cut-off between modern and ancient civilizations?  Fire?  Shouldn't it be something like... I dunno, the internet?  Vaccines?  Fighter jets?  Whatever, doesn't matter, I'm just nitpicking.  But now that I know the strategy, I just need to learn the tactics.

Randomly-generated maps and scenarios in this game?  Pass.  Hard pass.

Who?  What?  I guess if you're a science guy/gal you may dig whatever's going on here, but I'm gonna opt out of the "graph on daisy growing."

It's money, got it.  This is a strategy games, strategy games have to constrain your resources, say no more.

You're losing me again game.  The map mode is a more zoomed out view of your planet that serves no other purpose? The edit mode lets you allocate things?  There are way more icons and buttons than this is letting on, so why are you being so concise, game?

Wait, then what is the map mode?

Oh... no...

The wheels are officially off the bus.

The bus has crashed into the goddamn mountain.

(I'm aware Will Wright is the creator of this game)

Did I beat it?
Only if making it past the menu counts as beating this game.

590 - Pink Goes to Hollywood

I feel compelled to explain the properties attached to the games I'm reviewing because some part of me assumes that a percentage of my tens of readers aren't familiar with them.  That's probably pretty far from the truth, because anyone who is nostalgic enough to be on a forum dedicated to ancient video game tapes is old enough to have grown up watching these movies and shows.  Everyone knows what Ren & Stimpy is.  Everyone watched Beavis and Butthead when they were a kid.  I'm just telling you what you already know, and maybe dropping one tiny little factoid that's new to one or two people.

This entry though has to be an exception.  What the fuck is The Pink Panther?  Obviously it's a cartoon from the... let's say '60s, and you may or may not be humming the theme song right now.  A song and name that are taken from a series of movies starring Peter Sellers from around the same era.  These movies featured a bumbling inspector who is trying to find a stolen jewel named "The Pink Panther," among other plotlines.  What does that have to do with the cartoon?  You've got me.  So what the hell is the cartoon and where did it come from?  Does anyone out there have any idea without cheating and looking at Wikipedia?  Because I sure don't.

To the best of my memory, Pink (the feline) never talks, barely emotes, and mostly just struts around to smooth jazz while unfortunate things happen around him.  I think (it's been awhile).  What any of that has to do with Hollywood or leather jackets or video games is also beyond me, and if I think about this any more I'm gonna give up this review.  So let's just focus on the game and gameplay at hand...

It sucks.

This is another one of those platformers where you can take two hits before die, you're given a run button but no real reason to ever use it, an impotent attack (two of them actually), and shit is constantly pelting you from just offscreen.  I seriously hate that.  All of it.  If the run button is too dangerous to actually use, fix the game's balancing, or just remove it.  Just because Sonic the Hedgehog did it (poorly IMO) doesn't mean other games should too.  And if the character is going to be so incredibly frail that everything is a threat to kill him then they need to nerf the shit out of the enemies, otherwise every level turns into a tedious crawl of inching forward and memorizing their positions.  That is not fun, it was never fun, it will never be fun.  In any game, ever.

I'm wrapping this up early because this game annoys me.  By that I mean I just wrote that entire thing in one take and I don't feel like spending much, if any, more time on it.  Are there any bright spots here?  Well it is non-linear and branches right off the bat, giving you access to a number of levels from a central starting hub.   I like when games do that, because it staves off annoyance and tedium for at least the first twenty or thirty minutes.  And I'm a sucker for references to movies, which this game has plenty.  It's a personal weakness, one which has somewhat compromised a few of my rankings, and I own that.  But I give the game bonus points anyways.  Charm, even in tiny doses, can sway me.  But the game still sucks some pretty big ass overall.  I've played it for probably at least three hours over three separate occasions, and I've never managed to make any real progress.  That is a real problem for a licensed game clearly meant for kids, and more attention from me than this game deserved.

Did I beat it?
Not even goddamn close.

589 - American Gladiators

Man, when I look at that cover pic all I can think about is how rampant steroid abuse still was in the early '90s.  You can blame infamous abusers like Arnold for blurring the line between bodybuilder and celebrity, or the Soviets for ruining the Olympics and eventually professional sports, but all I know is people were fucking huge during this era.  Especially the Gladiators, sweet Jesus.  Was anyone asking questions?  Did anyone even care?  Maybe it was kind of like the era's sentiments towards professional wrestling; a combination of naivete and denial.  Don't ask, don't tell.

Anyways, the American Gladiators video game is another track and field type, offering seven different events where your lowly contestant competes against an opponent while a troupe of muscle-bound, feathered-hair sporting, Southern Cal hardbodies try to pound the both of you into dust.

Atlasphere - Roll your giant hamster ball onto the top of several different conical hills, while fending off the Gladiators and trying to knock your opponent off course.  This is probably the best minigame of the bunch with decent controls, balanced gameplay, and moderately strategic play.

Assault - Dodge a constant barrage of turret fire while scrambling from safe zone to safe zone, while trying to use the single-shot crossbow and rocket launchers to nail the bullseye above the turret gunner's head.  I guess picture something like Cabal or Wild Guns, but horrible in every way.  The controls are unintuitive, the hit detection sucks, and success often seems like random luck. 

Human Cannonball - Swing a rope Tarzan-style into one of the Gladiators, and hope you kick him in the face, sending him toppling to his doom.  This one is terrible, lasting about five seconds, and requiring a very specific set of inputs in order to succeed.  I hate when these games have a binary pass/fail result like that.  It usually means you initially struggle with the mechanics, failing every time.  And then when you do finally figure out the secret you can easily win every time, robbing the event of any depth or nuance.  Also, how the hell was this a real thing?  You'd to have to be insane to stand on that pillar.

Joust - The two contestants swing giant Q-Tips at one other until someone falls off their pillar.  This one plays like a really terrible fighting or boxing game, and relies pretty heavily on button-mashing or exploits.  Once you figure either one of those out you're guaranteed to win easily every time.

The Wall - Ugh.  Screw this dumb event.  Here you need to scurry up a climbing wall before the Gladiator on your tail can catch up and pull you off.  You'll need to use very specific combinations of input in order to direct each of your limbs and any mistake will probably cost you the event.  So expect to rage as your idiot contestant repeatedly ignores your commands and comes to a dead stop, again and again.

Powerball - Try to drop little balls into little containers, all while the Gladiators try to murder the shit out of you.  While not nearly as exciting or violent as the real thing, this event is quite playable, and lets you attack and shove your opponents to your heart's content.  The controls are super stiff, but sending the Gladiators flying is at least kind of satisfying.

The Eliminator - The final obstacle course, tasking you to sprint, jump, dodge, and zipline your way to the end.  While it plays exponentially better than the similar event in Nickelodean Guts, this one still kind of sucks.  Success is mostly dependent on how quickly you react to what comes up, which is randomized to a degree, and the performances of your AI opponents also seem to wildly vary, from woefully incompetent, to "cheating assholes."

I don't remember how the show worked, but the goal here is to outperform your opponent across the entire series of events, with the better combined score advancing in a bracket-style tournament.  I like when these types of games use that, as you can afford to be weak in certain events, and let others help carry you.  If I screw up one of the finnicky events, I can make up for it with a strong performance in another.  And that is something you'll need to rely on with this game.

Overall it's way better than the similar-ish Guts, and almost up to par with the upcoming California Games II, but still represents one of the weaker track and field games on the system.  And after conquering it I didn't really have any desire to play it again.

Did I beat it?
Yes.  It took a shit-ton of work, but I did it.

588 - Spectre

How does one best describe Spectre... is it the spiritual sequel to arcade classic Battlezone?  A boulder dodging simulator?  A nightmarish Tron-like fever dream?  Take your pick I suppose, because any of those will do.

Like the middle pic above spells out the goal here is to advance through a series of levels by collecting yellow flags.  Standing in your way are legions of what I presume are enemy tanks/vehicles, and later, those damned boulders.  Completing a level typically means quickly and efficiently eliminating your enemies while carefully managing your health with the help of healing items laid out around the arena, or just saying screw it and making a beeline for every flag while trying to jump over and evade the enemies at all cost.  Which reminds me, the game actually lets you configure your vehicle at the start of the game.  You can either go for a slow tank that's heavy on defense, or a zippy light craft that is quick, but fragile, or anything in-between.  I had much better luck with the speedier ones.

Trying to play this game today really makes you appreciate advancements in game design.  Specifically, the ability to strafe, for one.  That is something we almost take for granted nowadays as it's been a staple of shooters since at least Wolfenstein 3D back in 1992.  Well this game originally came out in the mid-80s, which means it obviously predates W3D, and they didn't bother "enhancing" the SNES port, which really makes the entire experience very frustrating.  Your craft is so large, or at least feels that way, that avoiding shots is difficult, regardless of how you configure it.  So when I first started playing the game combat quickly devolved into trying to take down enemies as fast as I could if they were directly in my path and praying they only hit me once at most.  The scattered heals in each level seem to indicate the intended strategy basically boils down to efficiently killing enemies and saving the heals for when you need them, but the game is not really designed well enough to accommodate this.  For instance, enemies can fire upon you before they are rendered or show up on the screen, as the draw distance is pretty shitty, and they have some pretty long range attack capabilities to boot.  And just to add further frustration, later enemies will track and follow you as well, so you can expect to take a number of blind hits from enemies on your six that are halfway across the map.  Which is as infuriating as it sounds.  So you can see why I recommend a light craft, and avoiding combat; your best bet for survival is getting through the levels as fast as you can.

I guess the only thing that even partially makes up for the lack of a strafe is the fact that there is a jump ability.  It can be used to rapidly get behind a target so you get the upper-hand on them, but it's pretty tricky to use.  I can only assume that if you want to play the game strategically, or at least play it the way it was meant to be played, you'd have to become an expert at hopping around the levels, rapidly shooting your targets in the back and beating a quick getaway before the other enemies can plug your ass.  And not blindly jumping into the boulders...

Yes, those f'ing boulders start showing up more and more late in the game, and by level 33 or so it becomes a nightmare.  They move so quickly, and have such large hitboxes, and kill you so damned quickly, that the only real way you can overcome them is to map the levels.  The levels that you can only view from a first-person perspective [Is that accurate? - editor], wrap-around at the edges, and have no discernible landmarks.  It was this epiphany that caused me to throw my hands up and give up on beating this game.  Not that you even can beat this game since it merely loops once you finish the final level.  I'd even go so far as to say this is one of the hardest games on the system to conquer, and that only the truly elite will ever accomplish that feat.

So if you enjoy Battlezone, which I doubt describes very many people in the 21st century, you might get some enjoyment out of Spectre.  It was a natural progression, and I'm sure the game was very impressive when originally released.  But by the time it came out on SNES the scene had already made quantum leaps forward and it would have been real hard to overlook its flaws in 1994, much less in 2018.  I guess try it out if you want a serious challenge.

Did I beat it?
No.  Fucking boulders.

587 - T2: The Arcade Game

Terminator game number three (out of four), and the only "light gun" entry in the bunch.  It barely fares any better than the two sidescrollers I already covered, and honestly, I feel like the ranking I'm assigning here is pretty generous.  This franchise is video game kryptonite.

The closest comparison I can make to another video game is Acclaim's other arcade port offering, Revolution X.  Both have the same tedious gameplay with endless enemies spilling onto the screen from all directions, constantly pelting you with cheapshots and other BS'ery.  Both games are also ugly as shit, with poorly-aged visuals that lack detail and look compressed to hell.  And both games seem to be obvious quarter munchers, much more interested in killing the player as quickly as possible than showing them anything resembling a good time.

Levels take place across the post-Judgement Day wasteland of America, and some generic industrial warehouses full of pillars and exploding barrels and such, and presumably ends at a certain Los Angeles steel mill.  Each and every level plays out pretty much exactly the same, with millions of enemies marching across the screen to take potshots at you, rebel soldiers popping up and down behind cover trying to get in the way of your bullets, and ammo boxes littering the bottom of the screen, awarding you powerups and special weapons.  It's all stuff you've seen in every game of this type, and it isn't done well here in any way.  I guess this thing was supposedly a big hit in the arcade but I can't even begin to imagine why.  It must have looked and played much better.  And I guess more nuanced stuff like Time Crisis was still a few years out so we didn't know any better.

So, why put this game nearly fifty spots higher than RX?  Well there's no Aerosmith for one thing, and that's a big one for me.  A shooter where you blast the shit out of Skynet is a no-brainer.  A shooter where you help an aging rock band conquer an evil government through the power of rock is stupid.  The crippling slowdown and terrible levels and boss designs didn't help either.

In some other ways though, this game might actually be worse.  The damned "driving level" here, a tradition in Terminator games (and one that was also present in RX) is just.... god I can't even find the words.  These levels are always the worst, and I had called out Terminator 2: Judgment Day specifically for having the absolutely most abominable of the bunch.  But I may have lied because the one here gives it a run for its money.  Hell it gives all bad levels in all bad games a run for their money.  I just can't even begin to fathom what they were thinking with this one.  It happens early on in the game (level three?) and tasks you with protecting John Connor's truck as he tries to escape from an endless number of strafing aircraft and a legion of speedwalking infantry.  I have probably tried this level at least fifty times, and I've beaten it all of once.  And that must of been luck because I have no idea what I did to accomplish that, or have any clue as to what you are supposed to do, or even know what is going on when I'm playing it.  I even cheated and played on my computer with an optical mouse to try and improve my results, and I still couldn't save that fucking rig from blowing up over and over again.  What in the hell is this level's problem?  Every time I play this game I end up dropping it in the rankings because of that POS stage.

The levels after the vehicle stage are more of the same crap.  I think.  It was a long time ago that I actually managed to get that far (that one time), so my memory of them is starting to fade.  But they certainly were not memorable enough to remember with any sort of vividness, so that's the shake they get, fair or not.  Perhaps the game, against all odds, gets much better later on.  Or perhaps it somehow gets intolerably worse somehow.  I'll certainly never find out.

I consider the light gun games on SNES to fall into two camps; those that are T2: The Arcade Game and Revolution X, and those that are not.  It really is that night and day.  And it's no exaggeration to say I would happily play every single other one on the system because they all do something well, or something imaginative, or are fun in some capacity.  That's not the case for the two Acclaim titles, which can be broadly categorized individually as "trash", and "utter trash."

Did I beat it?
No.  Fucking vehicle level.

586 - Home Alone

I'm sure when most people think of Home Alone games, they picture the original on NES based on the classic film.  I never played it, but understand it takes place entirely within one area representing your house and that you must evade the Wet Bandits for x number of minutes via hiding or slowing them down with traps and such.  It's also supposed to be a rather frustrating and difficult affair, and not very good or fun overall.  Well, the 16-bit release on SNES, courtesy of THQ, plays completely differently from its 8-bit brethren, and has almost nothing to do with the source material either.  That means what we have here is another platformer in an already crowded scene, with no identity of its own, squandering an IP that should have offered infinite gameplay potential by way of booby trap setting, sadistic burglar mangling, stairwell sledding, and drug store shoplifting.

Each level, of which there are only a few, tasks Kevin with gathering precious items and depositing them in various laundry chutes so that he can later work his way down into the basement and place those same goodies into the large bank-style money vault that the McCallisters apparently stole from Scrooge McDuck.  I don't remember that part of the film.  Kevin will need to do all of this while also fending off the occasional giant spider, ghost or rat boss standing infesting his basement.  I think you can see where I'm going with this.  In fact I would say the only ties to the film are the re-occuring bad guys that may or may not resemble Harry or Marv (see image above) and the use of a slingshot.  Which, now that I think about it, I'm not entirely sure was in the film either.

Now considering this is a licensed THQ game, my expectation were in the toilet even before I started.  Perhaps that doesn't give the game a completely fair shake, but it is what it is.  And I won't say that those low expectations were exceeded, but the game definitely could have been a lot worse than it is.  Like, the controls are okay-ish, for what the game asks of you.  They're not excessively slippery or laggy, and I didn't notice any large number of inputs being swallowed.  That's usually my main grievances with a platformer, and by far the easiest way to sink a game.  So I'll give Home Alone that.

One of the issues I do have however, besides the lack of any actual Home Alone-ness to it, is the manner in which you have to collect all of the valuables.  You see each story of the house in every level is a long corridor with a number of doors to various rooms.  In order to find all of the key items you'll need to explore every nook and cranny of each one of these rooms by jumping into every single background object.  That can cause an item to spawn because... I guess that represents you "checking" the hiding spot or something.  This gets real tedious and real annoying when you get to each level's end and find out you're an object or two short.  Not to say the levels are too long, or the objects too hidden to make this any sort of dealbreaker, but it's not optimal.  Especially since enemies respawn, ammo is limited, and backtracking is not a friendly or fun experience here.

After a few short levels the game ends and you get a rather low-effort ending consisting of a still shot of Catherine O'Hara embracing her son.  I'm calling that a good thing because games like this that were meant for children should probably be 30-60 minutes long, max.  And I'm usually just relieved when it's over so I can move on.

So, in the grand scheme of the SNES library, it's another bad platformer that pays no attention to its source material, or brings anything remotely good to the table in any way.  But it's not a terrible game or broken in any really extreme way.  And it didn't scare me off before I completed it, which I usually give games brownie points for.  And hell, it's probably in the top half of the THQ library, as sad as that is.  So it could have been a lot worse.

Did I beat it?
Yes, this game is extremely easy.

585 - F1 Pole Position

Although named after the classic arcade series, F1 Pole Position on Super Nintendo bears little-to-no resemblance to it's aged older brethren.  Instead this is is a Mode 7 racer, with a typical Formula 1 championship season layout, fairly robust vehicle tuning, licensed racers, simulation-like gameplay, and much more complex controls.  But one similarity they do share is horribly frustrating gameplay that crushes my spirit with endless losses.  That goes for most racing games, but I'm doing my best to judge fairly here, and I think I can objectively say this game is too hard to be fun.

I'll just cut to the chase, and be blunt with why I don't think this game works.  Like many other Mode 7 racers, the raceways love to crowd you with large car sprites that also just love to bunch up into impenetrable packs.  And getting by these packs is a damn nightmare because the slightest contact with an opponent is gonna send your vehicle spinning out into the grass, FUBARing your race.  I don't think I managed to prevent this from happening a single time. 

It's a shame too, because without that flaw I think I could have enjoyed this game.  In fact I always do enjoy it up until that first crash.  And the game does have a lot going for it otherwise; the game looks nice, the frame rate is probably above average when compared against the rest of the SNES racing field, and the controls are a bit odd, but you adjust quickly.  It's a hard thing to explain, like maybe they're very "deliberate?"  Does that make sense?  I just know they always initially feel sluggish, but that after a few laps I seem to fall into a groove.

But yeah, those damn collisions are just too much for me to overcome.  I can never completely prevent them from happening, which means I can never seem to crack the top of the standing in any individual race.  And repeated failure just isn't very fun for me, and pushes me away from wanting to play on.  Maybe that makes me a wuss, or a quitter when it comes to racing games.  But if I can complete the likes of Lord of the Rings Vol. 1, I'd like to think that indicates I have a fairly strong gaming constitution.  So is it me, or the game?  Maybe it's a little bit of column A and little bit of column B at work here.

So if you like racing games, this is miles better than other stuff I've covered like Redline, or GP-1, or the Kawasaki titles.  And there is a lot of content here for you to sink your teeth into.  But you'll need skill and patience if you expect to be able to stick with it.  And with me, like is usual with racing games, I just can't do it.

Did I beat it?
No.  Fucking grass.

584 - Super Solitaire

This is exactly what you think it is.  A collection of various solitaire card games, that you probably haven't played since you owned Windows 95 and were stuck waiting for your sister to get off the phone so you could play online Quake and this is all you had to do in the meantime.  As in, something to play when you had six minutes to kill and there were no other options.

Do I even need to explain how these games work?  I guess for those who are too young to know what Windows 95 was, they are card games where you have a full deck, laid out in various manners, tasking the player with arranging the cards based on suit, color, descending order, and so forth.  Played "solitaire," or solo.  It's the sort of thing people did to entertain themselves before video games were invented.  And to my eye it has always been a game that is heavily dependent on luck, for better or worse.  Not to say that there isn't skill and strategy involved, but luck seems to be always lurking, ready to crush your efforts.  So fans of RNG probably love this stuff.

I don't know how many variations of solitaire exist, probably infinite, but this game packs in nearly a dozen of what I assume are some of the more popular layouts.  Besides the traditional one we're all acquainted with (Klondike, apparently?), you have stuff like "Scorpion", "Cruel" and "Dozen't Matter."  Maybe those are real names for real modes, or maybe they're "cool" names made up by the developer "Krome," or the publisher "Extreme."  All I know is if I'd avoided mentioning playing cards in this review you'd have been forgiven for thinking I was covering a radical mascot platformer. 

The game also offers some rudimentary tips on how each of these games work, but I found these confusing and unhelpful for the most part.  Maybe I'm just stupid.  But if you ever wanted a setup where you have nine stacks to work with, some of which may or may not allow a card to be played for whatever reasons, and they may or may not have symbols put on them, and you are allowed just a single pass through your own deck, well this game has you covered. 

I should also clarify that just because the game has a number of modes doesn't mean it has any sort of variety.  If that makes sense.  I guess I can try to make up a horrible analogy to explain it:
You know how all Mexican (or maybe Tex-Mex) food can be summarized as the same ingredients, just combined or arranged or prepared in ever so slightly different ways?  It doesn't matter what you order, you're getting tortilla, beans, rice, meat, salsa, cheese and lettuce?  Well that is every mode of solitaire; stacking cards based on number and suite.  Barely differentiated variations of one roster of ingredients.

The presentation here is pretty rough too.  Most menu options are represented by shapes, which all appear rather obtuse to me, and would have been much better suited with something as simple as "Yes" or "Okay".  And the graphics are pixellated and blurry-looking, which is pretty pathetic considering the limited scope of a damn solitaire game.  Every time I have a stack going I have to squint my eyes at the cards trying to discern if I was working with a Nine of Hearts or an Eight of Diamonds.  Some modes even allow the "tableau" to pile up thirty (or more) cards on top of one another.  Good freaking luck trying to read anything in that mess, because it's impossible.

So I guess if you're a fan of this stuff you might get something out of this release.  I don't know why anyone back in the day would purchase and play this over the software bundled with copies of Windows, especially since a controller is definitely not the preferred instrument for card games.  But it's far from the worst game on the SNES, as I would much rather play than this anything I've already covered for this project.  I even admit to getting moderately invested in completing the games I started, though I never really felt any great pull to play again, or boot the cart up in the first place.  So overall a lackluster release, of a genre that's a questionable fit for the console, that you may or may get any enjoyment out of.

Did I beat it?
I won a game in several of the modes.

583 - California Games II

The 16-bit follow-up to the eponymous mini-game fest that appeared on every system under the sun, California Games II lets you shred the gnar in five more radical events.  This is also the final installment in the series (as far as I know), which may mean people were growing tired of the track and field style of game that was so prolific in the '80s.  I don't blame them.  So reminesce with me, as I look back at the swan song of the Southern Cal-Hardbodies-Playing-Psuedo-Sports series:

Hang gliding - The first event in the rotation, and easily one of the most confusing.  Your bronzed dude will launch out over the ocean, nailing tricks and pegging floating targets with water balloons (wtf?), while carefully taking advantage of updrafts to keep afloat.  The controls are extremely awkward here, making this the event that takes the most practice to master. Or I should say, takes the most practice to accomplish much anything whatsover instead of just diving into the ocean right away.  Overall it's probably my choice for the second weakest mini-game.

Skateboarding - In true 1980s style, you skate down a long Southern California-style aquaduct doing tricks off the lips and flying through concrete tunnels. I find it pretty hard to enjoy the sport in this primitive form after being spoiled with so many Tony Hawk games back in the day, but it's not terrible for what it is.  The whole event is overly-long as it can take a couple minutes to complete a single run, and the action is pretty repetitive overall, but it's easy enough to get a handle on the controls and mechanics,and the moderately varied moveset at least gives the illusion of some depth.  Still, I never found it interesting enough to not get bored before the end, or ever had any desire to return to it.

Boogie boarding - Probably the most confusing event, and the only one I wasn't able to master in my time with the game.  You're supposed to ride a wave for as long as possible performing tricks (if you could call them that), before the run ends with dodging a bunch of random beached obstacles as you come into the surf.  The controls are pretty wretched as it seems really hard to get any momentum going once you're on the wave, and I never could figure out how most of the tricks work.  Occasionally I pulled off some pretty weak one-eighties, but that's it.  So it gets my vote for worst mini-game of the lot.  Luckily runs only take about thirty seconds.

Jet skiing - Another confusing one, this time you're on an ocean track of sorts, scoring points for jumping over things (sometimes? I have no idea how this works) and... uh, just staying afloat I think.  The default speed of your craft is pretty slow so that's not very hard to do, but if you give it any throttle at all it becomes almost impossible to make the turns thanks to how slippery the controls are.  If this was a racing game it would be one of the worst ones I have ever played, but because it's so laid back in what it demands of you it's merely an annoyance.

Snowboarding - Another short one, this time you're on an insanely vertical run that takes up about 10% of the screen.  All you need to do is jump over a series of obstacles and chasms, staying upright as long as possible.  It plays alright, kind of like an endless runner.  I just wish the viewing angle wasn't so awkward and there was some more depth to it.  Why constrict the action to such a tiny portion of the screen?  Still, I never hated my time playing it, and again, each run is mercifully short.  Call this event middle-of-the-pack.

Overall, a pretty weak bunch.  When it comes to this type of game I'm going to primarily judge them based on how well they control, and how much depth each mini-game has, and CGII is a big fail for the former.  Snowboarding is probably the only event that controls decently, and that's because the game barely has you do anything, and boogie-boarding and hang-gliding are both a nightmare.  But I do think there is some depth here, for those who would want to master a game like this.  I know I wouldn't, but this series does seem to have its fans.  So again, overall one of the weakest track-and-field styled game on the system, but not a completely terrible experience.  With some better controls it could have even been a decent enough title.

Did I beat it?
Yes, I completed every event and got somewhere between 150,000-200,000 points on each of them.  Boogie boarding is the only one I feel I didn't master.

582 - Sterling Sharpe's End 2 End

Poor Sterling Sharpe.  Near the end of the 1994 NFL season he suffered a devastating neck injury that ended his career and fast track into the Professional Football Hall of Fame.  It's the sort of tragedy that reminds you just how dangerous the sport is, cutting down one its biggest talents during his prime.  And then the very next spring this "thing" gets released, his last hurrah for the sport as it were.  So not only does he lose his career, relegating him to be forever known as that "other" Sharpe brother, or as a pub trivia answer, but I imagine he had many opportunities to demo his own video game while recovering from his injuries.  What a horrible fate indeed.

As is typical, there are no licenses at work here.  You can always tell when this is the case because the game tries to slyly cover that up on the box cover.  Strerling is obviously wearing his Packers uniform in that pic, but you can't quite see their trademarked logo.  Subtle, Jaleco. Real subtle.

The graphics are... I dunno, alright I guess.  They're not completely wretched looking like Pro Quarterback, or as pathetic and effortless as Emmitt Smith at least.  I'd also say they're probably a slight notch below the likes of the Quarterback Club and latter Madden games, which isn't bad company to be in.  Sterling also looks like a bit of a doofus in the menus, but that has more to do with the era's stupid infatuation with crappy-looking digitized images than it does with his own goofy mannerisms.

The primary reason the game is ranked so low is its slow pacing and unrefined play balance.  In the passing game any route up the field is almost a guaranteed touchdown, as once a player is past the defense he cannot be caught.  As in, he does not need to slow down to catch the ball, and there is no "catch-up" mechanic for the defense like was the norm with football games of the day.  You'll immediately understand why every other football game ever did that once it happens to you because it is very frustrating to get burned like that.  Stopping the run is also pretty damn hard because defense move too slow to hit the runner before he gets to the line of scrimmage.  So making stops basically means praying for a turnover.

Now, it at least has some features like a real video game would, such as full season play, and an actual postseason.  And it plays at a normal pace and actually resembles a real game of football at times, which is more than any previous game can claim.  So those things alone helps prop it up above the second lowest echelon of football games like Troy Aikman and Football Fury.  But I still can't really think of a reason as to why anyone would ever want to play this.  Besides the disturbed souls who play every SNES game on the platform for 5,000 hours so they can write enormous threads that no one cares about.  And poor Sterling , stuck promoting his own game, incapacitated and unable to escape...

Did I beat it?
Yes, with the Packers.  I think.  I don't remember.

581 - Zool: Ninja of the Nth Dimension

Goddamn these reviews are really starting to move at a crawl.  When it's endless platformers, licensed games, and sports titles, that are all mired in one form of mediocrity or another, it really presents an issue with giving me enough to work with to come up with a review that stays fresh in any way.  But I will struggle onwards, and do my best to make the 500s as engaging as possible...

Zool is another one of those billion Amiga games that got ported over to the system, and definitely one of the lesser entries we received.  Or at least one of the most nondescript.  It's one of those games that I can't really imagine anyone would have the patience to stick with unless they grew up with the game and had all the time in the world to memorize the hazards, level by level, until the end.  And even then it was probably a pretty painful experience.  But what choice did you have when you owned like six games?

I don't know what the story or setup is here, or what the Nth dimension is, or if the game even tries to bring you up to speed on any of this, so let's just assume there's something throwaway in the manual and move on.  And for supposedly being a ninja, Zool certainly doesn't seem very ninja-like to me.  He can stick to walls if you jump into them, and he has a ranged attack that may or may not be a shuriken, and some sort of dashing attack, but Ninja Gaiden or Shinobi this ain't.  In fact forget I mentioned either of those two franchises because this isn't even in the same universe as them in any conceivable way, and there shouldn't even be a subconscious association between the two.

There are also two major issues that are responsible for crippling the game, and they both go hand-in-hand with one another.  First off, this is the umpteenth platformer with controls that are too loose, lending to an "out of control at all times" feeling.  Coupled with platforming which can be fairly demanding at times, and relatively early on to boot, and you have controls that are just not up to the task at hand.  That is never a good thing with a platformer, where the entire genre is built around such mechanics.  So the game's foundation is already eroded.

Issue number two, which finishes off that already shaken foundation with an explosive demolition, almost killing the game entirely, is a view that is too zoomed in.  This makes attaining any real progress a huge chore, and battle of patience.  I'm sure the Genesis version with its higher resolution is exponentially more playable thanks to this too.  Say what you want about the two systems, but that extra horizontal viewing distance on Sega's system really does make a difference for some games.  So the loose controls and lack of viewing distance both contribute to an overall "rhythm" of trying to survive long and labyrinth levels that are fully of samey-looking scenery, with  cheap deaths from enemies that are barely onscreen long enough to register in your mind before they kill you.  Major "Bubsy syndrome," yet again.

If Zool had a slightly more manageable viewing distance it could have been an average game.  Or it would be about par with some of the other middling Amiga titles.  And if the controls were improved as well it could have almost been a good game.  Instead, it's a mediocre game with a few fun bits ruined by two major flaws, which make it overly annoying to play, and overall really isn't something I can imagine anyone actually having a great time with.  The giant eyeball boss in the screenshot above kind of makes me want to press on and see what else the game offers, but not enough to actually follow through and do it.

Did I beat it?
God no.

580 - King of the Monsters

Oh...kay, I guess I lied about already covering all of the wrestling games I hate because this one always skips my mind.  And I guess I don't hate this one, I just find it intolerable to play.  But at least I can destroy Tokyo while I'm doing it.  And at least I can do it with a giant scarab I guess.

I remember a friend of mine renting this game when I was younger, and though I loathed fighting games even at the time, this one got my hopes up big time.  "You can move in any direction?  You can destroy buildings?  Fighter jets are flying by trying to attack me? Cool!!!!"  Yeah, we were pretty damn excited... at first.  Then the match timer ran out before either one of us could figure out how to win.  So we played it again.  And got the same result.  And then it happened again.  And again.  And again.  No one ended up winning a single match and after we returned the game to the video store we vowed to never speak of it again.

Nowadays, I'm older and (a little) wiser, and have figured out tricky things like options menus, so I was at least able to overcome that one major hurdle by bumping up each stage's time limit.  And I was actually was able to progress through the game with the added time cushion, though I'm not sure if the experience made me appreciate the game more, or less.

You see this is a wrestling game, a genre I detest for its endless ability to baffle me.  Like is usual with these things, you bash on your foe until his life/stamina bar is empty, and then you try to pin him.  There's an electric fence on the edge of the fighting arena that you can bounce off of to propel yourself at your opponent, just like in the traditional wrasslers.  It even has the exact same button-mashing grappling that I hate so so much.  And just like with all of those other titles I've already covered, I don't exactly know how any of that shit works.  I assume grappling is determined by whoever taps buttons the fastest, or the soonest, or at a specific time, but I never could figure it out.  It seemed random.  Ditto for pinning.  Sometimes I could pin my opponent after knocking him down a handful of times, and sometimes I had to do it a couple dozen times or more.  I have no idea what works and what doesn't work.  WHY DO THESE GAMES FEEL SO OBTUSE?

The game also only offers a two player versus mode for multiplayer, cutting out the arcade version's co-operative play.  Since this was an earlier title that's understandable, but it's still lame.  And the roster is also tiny, offering all of four characters to choose between.  That's pretty damn weak even for 1992.

So since I've done nothing but bash the game so far, I will say that I at least find the game more appealing, thematically, than the other wrestling games.  I can't get excited about some mulleted guy on steroids, but I can get behind giant beetles and lizards.  And there is a game mechanic where you can grab power ups and eventually earn levels to (I assume) increase your power.  Granted this barely makes any sort of difference, and merely does a palette swap on your character, and can only be done twice, but I like the idea.

Overall it's another stupid wrestling game, with mechanics that bewilder me, and controls that tire my hands out.  But at least I was able to stick with this one until I beat it , which is far more than I was willing to take with the previous six(!) titles.  And feel free to take these rankings with a huge heaping of salt.  I mean you can do that with any game as this is very much a personal project, but that's especially true with this genre.  So if you like wrestling, or like wrestling games, take any ranking I've assigned and bump it up 100-200 spots.  If you love wrestling, bump it up 300-400.

Did I beat it?
Yes, but just on easy.  Technically you have to clear it on very hard (Mania) to consider the game truly beaten and I sure as shit am not even entertaining the thought of trying that out.

579 - Bulls vs Blazers and the NBA Playoffs

Did I beat it?
No.  I'm sure I never did anything more than a single game before turning the system off.

578 - NBA Showdown

So like everyone else once upon a time, Electronic Arts regularly pumped out a series of basketball titles.  Maybe they still do, I dunno.  And it originally featured a traditional sideline camera, slow-paced gameplay, sticky defenders, and the era's typical lack of offense.  It also originally billed itself as the "Playoff" series, begun with Lakers vs Celtics, and wrapping up with Bulls vs Blazers, which we're covering here, which was also the first entry to get a SNES port.  In case you don't know your NBA history, those were the matchups in the championship each season, presumably in an attempt to cash in on the excitement the NBA finals once garnered.  In 1993 the series was rebranded as NBA Showdown, and given a fancy new artwork scheme to match the other re-launched EA sports lines.  Nothing changed with the actual gameplay, just the name and box art.  And every single one of those games sucked ass.

So it obviously goes without saying, especially since I keep repeating this with every basketball sim, but this is before the NBA Live series came round.  In fact this series is actually the direct pre-cursor to that franchise, obviously, since it was re-launched yet again the following year.  And it shouldn't be a coincidence that they kept shaking things up with this series, with new names, and then eventually an entirely new engine and gameplay style built from the ground up, because the original (what is the plural of series?) was garbage, just like all basketball games of the time.  That's why they kept changing things up; they knew what they had wasn't good enough.

If you have ever played any old school basketball game, whether that's Double Dribble, NCAA Basketball, or Pat Riley, you have a pretty good idea of what to expect here.  Long, lanky players slowly make their way down the court, defenders sticking to them like glue.  You can pass the ball around to try and get an open look, but this is basically futile.  Eventually you can grow bored, or run out of shot clock, and heave up a desperation attempt, which will more than likely land like a brick and bounce off the rim.  There does not appear to be any way to call plays, speed up your player, or even screen your defender, so generating offense is hopeless.  In some games this means resorting to finding an exploit in the defensive AI and abusing it over and over again.  But I never could find one in either of these two games.

I remember once Christmas when my next door neighbor got Bulls vs Blazers as a present.  This would have been after around 1995 or later, which means his parents must have found it in a clearance bin or something (he had 4 games total, poor guy).  And I distinctly remember every one of his friends refusing to play it with him because you just couldn't go back to this stuff once the genre finally evolved into something playable.  I'll give both games a little bit of leeway because they are fully licensed with teams and players, and they are pretty padded out with features and stats.  And who knows, maybe there is a trick to scoring, or getting open looks.  But I never could stick with them long enough to figure it out. 

So overall this series is not as grotesquely awful as the Barkley or Bill Laimbeer games, and they at least resemble a fully complete and finished product unlike Super Slam Dunk, but they're still not something anyone should play.  Luckily I think this is the last time I'll have to say that because the remaining b-ball games are at least moderately enjoyable in some fashion.  So, bid adieu to the final "bad" tier basketball games and we finally move on to stuff that is fun.

...oh fuck, I forgot about NCAA Basketball.  It never ends.

Did I beat it?
No, I honestly can't even be bothered to try.  These games put me to sleep.

577 - Rocko's Modern Life: Spunky's Dangerous Day


Another Nickelodeon property made into a platformer.  To my memory, the titular Rocko was an Australian wallaby who got into various predicaments with his beloved pet dog Spunky and idiot friend Heffer the cow.  There was also some asshole frog neighbor, and the B-52s did the title song.  That's all I can really remember.  Though something about that setup and the show's overall aesthetic definitely reminds me of the exponentially more popular Spongebob Squarepants, not that I've ever actually seen a full episode of that newer show, so I probably don't know what I'm talking about.

Anyways this is another video game adaptation of a television show that is entirely escort missions.  Just like Eek! the Cat and... something else...  what was the other one?  Was there another one?  I've played too many crappy games in the last year or two because everything is already starting to run together in my head.  In any case, has anyone in the history of video games ever enjoyed one of these games, pre-Ico at least?  I sure don't.  Escorting is not fun, especially when you have a stupid charge and/or bad controls, both of which apply to this game.  This time you need to escort Spunky through various beaches and caves (and probably other places later in the game), propelling him onto platforms and knocking out various birds and attack dogs that want to eat him.  Exactly the same as EtC.  You even have a mechanic to try and change his direction because just like the sleepwalkers in Ocean's game, he is continuously moving foward in a straight line like a moron.  A really aggravating one at that.

Now, I will say that this game is at least a significant improvement over Eek!.  For one thing, the controls are way, way better.  They're still pretty subpar relative to most games, but EtC had the bar so low that Rocko's only-slightly-out-of-control-ness is a breath of fresh air in comparison.  Not to keep on bashing that other game, but Eek! seriously has to be the slipperiest mother fucker on the planet, I swear to God.  So the fact that Rocko can actually jump onto platforms like you want him to makes the game fifty times better already.  Of course RML has some other issues such as attacks that are kind of tricky to use thanks to some wonky hitboxes, and having to wait for a few frames of animation before your attack strikes anything.  Since Rocko doesn't have a healthbar (just Spunky does, same setup as EtC), it tempers the frustration from enemies wailing on you over and over again.  The levels also seem to go on for much longer, with solutions that aren't always immediately clear.  And I would say they ask a lot more of the player, with more demanding sections, and way more enemies.  Of course the better controls and more durable charge mean the game is still probably easier overall.

Overall it's not a horrible game, just not one I like to play.  And just like with EtC I couldn't really be bothered to make a serious attempt at completing the game (yet).  I believe it has passwords after x number of levels, but I just couldn't bring myself to play the game for more than 45 minutes at a time.  The game definitely is manageable once you get the mechanics down and play the levels enough to know what to do and where to go, but I just find this formula too aggravating to stick with for long.  And unlike EtC I probably will return to this game in the future to finish the job, though I'll probably be annoyed with it the whole time.

Did I beat it?
No.  I didn't get anywhere.

576 - The Ren & Stimpy Show: Buckaroo$

Disclaimer: I had to emulate this game and play it on a keyboard.  While I tried not to let that factor into my final opinion of the game in any way, it did significantly hamper my ability to progress very far into it.  I've tried to acquire the cart for every game before it came time for review, but that just didn't happen here.

One of the two straightforward platformers in the Super Nintendo's Ren & Stimpy portfolio, Buckaroo$ is my vote for the lesser entry.  But it was a close race, with both titles annoying me in slightly different ways and trying my patience for the vast majority of the time I spent with them.  I guess this franchise was just not meant for video game adaptations.  Or at least games that are fit to play.

I never bothered to watch the introduction so I don't know what the storyline is.  I'm guessing you need to collect a lot of cash for some silly reason.  And just like with Time Warp I have no idea what all that cash does, if anything.  With games like these it's hard enough just to survive, much less worry about grabbing a billion superfluous collectables, so I didn't exactly go out of my way to seek them out.  If that affected my playthrough in any way I didn't notice.  Not that I noticed much of anything other than my own endless deaths, but that's the price you pay when you're playing with a keyboard.  C'est la vie.

The controls are decent, which for a R&S game is well above par.  Ren can run and jump with some accuracy and I never really felt like he was out of control trying to navigate the hazards or nail the trickier jumps.  That's a godsend. And you have access to a pretty large variety of weapons and attacks, many of which are even ranged.  Another freaking godsend.  Time Warp and Veediots might have been somewhat playable if they had provided this game's aresenal.

On the other hand, the level design here is very cheap and very repetitive.  They all go on for way too long, and there's too many enemies, too many blind leaps of faith, and too many situations that are reliant on having anything other than the base slap attack.  Which all means this game can get real hard, real fast.  If you run out ammo you're pretty much screwed, and that will happen frequently.

That difficulty, and some pretty vanilla game design, mean it just isn't very much fun to play.  Though the argument that you need physical carts in order to play games nowadays is pretty much a misnomer, what with flash carts, hack-able PSPs and SNES classics, and myriad PC emulation options, I do like to play my carts.  And part of the reason I have yet to acquire this one is because I don't want to play it.  It's just not very good, and it's not a very compelling experience that would keep players coming back.

At the end of the day this game just isn't very good, suffering from so many of the same problems that drag down the endless platformers I have to keep writing about, and yet it's still miles better than Time Warp.  I hate that game.  I simply dislike this one.  And really, isn't the nicest thing you can say at times?

Two not very interesting facts about this game:
- Howard Phillips worked on it
- The NES version is completely different

Did I beat it?
No.  Maybe if I had the real game, but playing hunched over a keyboard is not conducive to repeated tries.


Writing about every SNES game - Volume VII
SNES Set - 715/723 (Tecmo Super Bowl II)
Switch: SW-6880-6470-3131

Edited: 09/18/2018 at 12:34 AM by Brock Landers

May 9, 2018 at 3:06:07 AM
Brock Landers (55)
< Wiz's Mom >
Posts: 11343 - Joined: 05/04/2014
Federated States of Micronesia
575 - Aaahh!!! Real Monsters

Three Nick games in a row?  Another coincidence, and something I didn't even notice until I was doing final revisions at the end here.  I guess it speaks volumes about the quality of their library of games...

The first draft of my Aaahh!!! Real Monsters review was more-or-less one long comparison to Blizzard's classic video game The Lost Vikings.  It seemed logical enough to me; both games task you with herding three squatty rascals through a gauntlet of obstacles and hazards, evading or killing numerous enemies, and solving a number of puzzles in order to progress.  Both games also let you switch between the different characters with the press of a button in order to take advantage of each one's unique skillset.  But the more I played this game the more I felt like this wasn't painting a truly accurate picture of the two experiences.  They may appear very similar at a superficial level, but in reality they play almost nothing alike.  TLV places a much heavier emphasis on puzzle solving and precise execution across very carefully crafted levels, whereas ARM is a much looser experience overall with long levels, an emphasis mostly on combat, and extremely simplistic puzzle-solving.  And while Blizzard's classic offers charm up the wazoo, everything about the Nickelodeon game is kind of... gross and repulsive.  That's probably partially by design (I'm assuming the show was about monsters that live in the sewer), and partially because this engine, which appears to be the same one Viacom used for Beavis & Butthead, just appears crude and ugly to me.

The controls in ARM are decent enough for the most part, with reasonably tight handling on movement and jumping.  Later levels present some pretty tricky and demanding platforming, but I never felt like I was fighting them most of the time.  That's always a very good sign for this type of game since bad platforming will immediately sink a platformer.  Unfortunately it is elsewhere where things get rough, as this game absolutely loves to eat your inputs whenever you need to perform any rapid series of commands.  This specifically pertains to boss fights, which really makes some of the latter ones a gigantic headache.

For instance, the unique abilities I referenced above are usually required to reach great heights or leap across large chasms.  Pressing X is all you need to do to set all three characters in motion to make that happen, assuming it works, which is rare.  That's because instead of doing what you want the game will more than likely make a loud buzzer sound.  Probably because the characters aren't aligned correctly or don't have enough clearance to pull the move off or they just don't want to listen to you in general.  And if you're on a slippery surface or trying to launch through a narrow opening... well good luck.  Now fortunately, there is no in-game timer or respawning enemies or anything, so there isn't any pressure to quickly or gracefully pull these moves off, but it does start to get really aggravating.  Sometimes you'll press the button five or more times before they'll do anything.  Why?  Who knows.

What truly hurts the game though, is lost inputs during combat, specifically jumping and attacking.  The game has a number of boss fights that gradually escalate in difficulty, but the controls are not tight enough to handle this.  Every jump and every attack has to be very deliberately timed in order to execute, so be prepared to be mauled or jump-kicked over and over again as you botch your moves and are left standing helpless.  It's one of those games where you have to give your character x number of frames of animation before they can recover from a jump and accept another input, and that's just not acceptable if the game isn't carefully tuned around that fact.  Later bosses practically require exploits to defeat them because the controls just aren't rsponsive enough to handle the pace of the fights, and that is really poor design.

The other major drawback with this game is its length, in that it's way too long.  While the longplays on the net clock in at around two hours, realistically a playthrough would probably take most players four to five.  Now that's fine for games that offer saves or passwords, but this game has neither.  And you only get two continues, which means a game over tasks you with starting over from scratch.  That is absolutely ridiculous for a children's game, especially one as demanding as ARM.  A passcode at the end of every area would have gone a long way to rectify this problem and might have easily pushed this game up a hundred spots in my rankings.

I also have to give a special shout-out to the last level of this game for being an extra special kind of hell.  Between the long sections without checkpoints, some absolutely ridiculous platforming sections, and a final boss fight that is extremely sloppily put together, I nearly turned off the game in anger despite investing a number of hours into several runs.  If anyone beat this game as a kid, my hat is off to you.

So overall, it is a somewhat botched clone of a much better game, with a couple extremely severe drawbacks that pull the entire game down.  But I was willing to put a number of hours into it, and stuck with it to the end, which is not something I can say about many other titles I've covered.  Another case where there was a good game buried in here, it just never got a chance to be unearthed.

Did I beat it?
Yes.  I got a game over near the end of the game at one point, and it nearly broke me, but I stuck with it.

574 - Full Throttle All-American Racing

Similar to previous installment Kawasaki Caribbean Challenge, this racer from Cybersoft combines the classic "All-American" pastimes of motorcycles, water sports, and giving people the finger as you leave them in the dust.  Okay, technically he's telling them just to "shove it," but that's still pretty American too.

I also didn't really notice this as I was playing through the game, but... this game really loves America.  Like, four-American-flags-in my-gallery-loves-America, and that was not planned.  Is that a coincidence?  Was it a marketing ploy to reach middle America?  Is Cybersoft just super patriotic?  I dunno, but that's pretty far ahead of it's time too.  We Americans have always been pretty jingoistic, but stacking three flags wasn't really something you saw too often before the spead of Wal-Mart or the reign of George W. Bush.

(I'm not saying I don't love my country, but I prefer more subtle approaches to my patriotism.  Like silently praying every foreign skater eats shit during the Olympics)

Anyways, enough about that, let's talk about the racing.  You get your choice of motorbikes, jet skis, or both, and unlike KCC, the two modes actually play a bit differently from one another.  While the former resembles the world's worst version of Road Rash, the latter resembles... well, Road Rash.  But on water.  And slower.  I guess you'll just have to take my word for it feeling like a different experience, because while I could not stand the roadway levels, or their brutal difficulty, I found the water ones much more manageable.

The gist of each race is that you'll have to catch up to a series of opponents, and attack them until they're subdued, at which point you can gain enough of a lead on them as to effectively "beat" them, rendering them more-or-less a non-factor for the rest of the race.  I'm sure this mechanic was stolen from a number of older/better titles, but it is quite unique in the SNES library.  I personally found the attacks hard to use, and instead chose to give my opponents a wide berth while pouring on the boosts, until they were far in my rearview mirror.  Still, it's nice that the game can be played in multiple ways like that.

Beyond the manner that the races unfold, and the fact that you can attack your opponents, everything else is pretty by the book.  There's a lot of races to beat, but they all look and feel the same.  There's an upgrade system, but it's pretty barebones, and fairly confusing to use too.  Hell, if anything it's a detriment to the game because I couldn't tell if my purchases were even doing anything half the time.  And I swear the game constantly bugs out in regards to how many turbos you have stocked.  I'm also pretty sure that the game has to be beaten in one sitting (don't hold me to that, I played through it years ago), which is ridiculous considering it's a 3+ hour clear.  I can understand being cheap and opting out of packing a battery save into your cartridge, but there's no excuse not to have a password system.

For these rare racing games that I actually manage to complete, I have to assume they can't be all too bad if I was able to stick with them long enough to do just that.  Despite very clearly remembering my hoping that the game would just end already, and not having particularly cheery thoughts about daring to ever play it again, I can't say I hated my time with it.  And it does let you punch people in the face.  But I'm also sure this game is a pale imitation of many other, better titles.

Did I beat it?
Yes, but just doing the jet ski levels.

573 - Super Off-Road The Baja

A late spin-off to the classic arcade title (or was that series of titles?), Super Off Road The Baja is a game that should have held a lot of promise, but is doomed by a poor delivery and sloppy implementation.  In other words, this is a game that could have been on the cusp of being one of the better racers on the system, but a few crippling flaws successfully drag the entire experience down.

First off, I totally understand what they were going for here.  Take the rock-solid arcade nitro-boosted gameplay from the original, and meld it with a more modern take on the genre.  Boom, two good things together become a great thing.  Add on pretty good graphics and frame-rate and you should have the makings of a Super Nintendo classic.  And at times there is legitimate fun to be had here.  Boosting off of a tall dune and flying over one of your opponents which sends him crashing into the side of the course works exactly like it should and can be immensely satisfying.  In fact you will probably have a legitimately good time for the first minute or two.

But the issues in this game...  oh god the issues.  First and foremost is the worst camera in any racing game on the system.  Does that sound odd?  I mean, how does one botch the camera in a racing game where the only thing it needs to do is follow a vehicle from behind?  It's nonsensical, right?  Well the problem here is unlike every other Mode 7 racer, the camera does not turn in sync with your own movements; it's at a static angle that stays locked in position behind you, à la more traditional games such as Rad Racer and Top Gear.  But unlike those games it does not pan enough to keep up with your truck or show your destination clearly.  So anytime you start heading towards the edge of the screen, your vision becomes obstructed.  Add in the constant up-and-down nature of the tracks and things quickly head south.  I'd go so far as to say this single-handedly ruins the damn game.  It's one of those things that's kind of a hard explain or understand unless you've actually played the game, but rest assured you will understand real fast if you do play it.

Beyond the terrible camera that robs most of the fun this game might have provided, are some pretty irrating gameplay mechanics.  This game features a dreaded damage meter, and the flopping all over the track you'll be doing (because you can't see shit) is going to drain it real fast.  Oh and I should also mention that there's a billion civilian vehicles littering the race as well, just to make this things even more frustrating.  So some part of you will want to try and play it safe during the race just so you can simply survive until the end. But true to the spirit of the orginal game, if you want any chance of doing well in the races, you'll need to drive aggressively and make liberal use of your turbos.  So you can see how the two things are at direct odds with one another.

Usually the solution is to memorize and practice the tracks.  But that gives us another issue; the tracks go on forever, and every part of every one of them looks identical.  I guess that's by design since the entire game is supposed to represent a trip down the Mexican Baja peninsula, but it really doesn't help you learn the damn courses.

So, is this a bad game?  I certainly didn't have much fun with it.  But race fans will probably get some decent mileage out of it.  Some might even like it.  Probably depends on if you can stomach the camera angle long enough to learn how to get good at it.

Did I beat it?
Like with almost every other racing game, the answer is no.

572 - Rex Ronan: Experimental Surgeon

Rayasoft edutainment game number three, and possibly the most ridiculous of them all.  Which is saying something considering the other titles are about an asthmatic dinosaur, two diabetic elephants, and a doughnut-dog-murdering superhero.  Yes indeed, Rex Ronan Experimental Surgeon trumps them all by lifting a page from the likes of The Fantastic Voyage and Innerspace, while also cranking the weirdness factor up to 11.  You see, our titular Dr. Ronan performs "surgery" by shrinking down to microscopic size and entering his patients' bodies so he can blast away at their cholesterol, plaque, and... uh, the robot monsters placed in there by a nefarious tobacco corporation.  Its looks and plays as ridiculous as it sounds (which is to say, also very poorly), but at least keeps the frustration factor to a minimum.  And it isn't as lifeless or devoid of effort as Raya's Captain Novolin, or as hate-inducingly evil as Bronkie the Bronchiasaurus.  So maybe it's best described as a series of bizarre ideas, all poorly done, that results in a below-average game that's brought up a bit by at least being memorably weird.

After a series of cutscenes, the game begins in the mouth of one of Rex's patients, which seems like a logical enough insertion point.  From the above pic you can see what is in store for us; using a blaster rifle thingy to clean teeth while floating around in a purple spandex leotard.  It's about as riveting as it sounds, and not the most auspicious start to a video game.  But at least it gives you plenty of opportunity to learn and get used to the awkward controls after tediously blasting away at plaque for fifteen minutes (I'm not exactly sure how you tell when your goal is accomplished, the game just lets you progress at some point).   The next part tasks you with destroying a series of robots that try to gank you from every angle they can, and after taking a million cheap and unavoidable hits you should be able to push forward.  I should also mention the occasional "smart bombs" you'll come across floating in space.  These are the trivia portion of the game, another Rayasoft staple.  Basically you shoot them once to trigger some sort of pop-up factoid.  If the information presented is valid, you can touch or shoot the smart bomb to trigger a blast that destroys all onscreen enemies.  If its message is a load of BS, it will instead damage you and send you flying to the ground.  My advice?  Ignore them, ignore the enemies, and just try to advance forward as fast as you can.

The next level is some sort of vehicular stage where Dr. Ronan travels to the next afflicted body part or organ.  It's not a terrible idea; linking the levels that take place in various regions of the body with trips through the veins, bronchial tubes, etc.  But, to absolutely no-one's surprise I'm sure, they play like shit.  There's no use of Mode 7, so the perspective is awkward and very hard to read, and it makes it nearly impossible to align your ship against hazards or your weapons against enemies.  In fact I don't know that I've ever hit an enemy with the ship's guns.  Hell, I don't even know if you can hit them, or if they can hit you.  So without any challenge these levels get real boring, real fast.

By game's end you'll have cleared out your patient's body of a billion robots and infections, and navigated an endless number of mazes of bone and tissue, and flown through miles of tubes and veins and arteries.  The final showdown, as it were, tasks you with destroying a bunch of robots guarding the man's cancer, or tumor, or whatever the not-impressive-looking glowy area thing is that's supposed to be the source of all this man's issues (I guess?).  It's a pretty anti-climactic end, which is par for the RayaSoft course.  Or at least it would be normally, because my copy decided to leave me with an extra parting gift and soft-locked during the battle my first time through.  But the game is short and harmless enough that I wasn't too annoyed at having to start over and play again.  So I guess that's the best praise I can give this title; the thought of immediately playing through it again didn't make me want to throw the cart.  As opposed to, say, Bronkie, where such a thing would be akin to torture.  Fucking Bronkie...

(Suggestive phrasings not intended, but not edited out either)

Did I beat it?
Yes, and I had to play through the entire game twice to do it.

571 - Al Unser Jr's Road to the Top

The first of the many "sponsored" racers on the system, and my choice for the worst of the lot.  How many were there?  Well the SNES gave us offerings from the collective likes of Al Unser Jr., Kyle Petty, Nigel Mansell, Mario Andretti, and Newman-Haas... who or whatever that is.  But only Al's game gives you the option of racing with snowmobiles and go karts.  Was that a thing people were asking for?  Probably not, but being the world's first Super Mario Kart-ripoff has got to count for something.  Not with me mind you, but maybe with go karting enthusiasts.

So I guess the game's biggest claim to fame, or most notable feature, would be the fact that it does give you so many racing options (go karts, snowmobiles, I-Rocs, and Indy cars).  That may sound like a lot but the truth is the game is very barebones, offering just a few tracks per vehicle type, each of which can be completed in a few minutes.  There isn't any configuration either, but instead you have a choice of three different vehicles per race.  One that sports better handling and acceleration, one that has a high top speed and not much else, and one that is average in every department.  I used the fastest vehicles for all but one race and rarely had any issues taking first so I never even bothered trying out the other ones.

The game is pretty barebones with options too; you can either practice an individual race, or play through the main "Road to the Top" mode where you complete three races per vehicle type, each capped off with a solo race against the timer in some sort of off-roading dune buggy course.  There isn't much of a challenge to any of them, a few tight turns aside, and races can be reattempted as many times as you wish until you place.  In fact, I don't think it even matters if you get first, taking third will advance you as well.  Seeing as how there are only six racers total, it's not something you'll have to sweat about a whole lot.

Eventually, after completing the final race of the final tier (Indy cars),  you are challenged by Al himself to a showdown on his Vancouver speedway.  I guess he was known for doing really well there or something, or at least he's also kind of a trash-talking dick about your chances there.  In any case I easily beat his ass on the first try as his car didn't seem any different than any other opponent I had already raced against.  Cue credits.

So yeah, it's an alright game.  It handles well enough and frame rate is okay-ish, I guess.  The tracks are pretty forgettable for the most part, the depth is almost nonexistent, and nothing about the game is especially notable in any way.  The novelty of four different types of racing is just that, a novelty.  Only the snowmobiles really seem to handle any differently, and that's just because those tracks are noticeably more slippery.  Overall another very low effort game, but at least a harmless one.

Did I beat it?
Yes, I defeated the go kart, snowmobile, I-ROC, and Indy car racing circuits, and then took down Al and his stupid fat face.

570 - Beavis and Butthead

How many licensed platformers did I cover in this installment installment?  There has to have been at least forty because I swear there is no end to these godforsaken things.  What do I even write about this time?  Another brief synposis of the origin, history, or culturally impact of Beavis and Butthead?  Everyone already knows who they are, and if you don't, just google Mike Judge.  Or picture King of the Hill mixed with Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure mixed with Heavy Metal Parking Lot mixed with American Movie.  If you don't know what any of those things are then most of my references are probably lost on you and I give up.

First off, this is not the Sega Genesis game where you are trying to get tickets to a GWAR concert.  It's the SNES game where you are trying to get tickets to a GWAR concert.  Yep, they made two completely different games from the same property with the same plot, and only God knows why.  And while the former is reminiscent of a point-and-click adventure (probably yet another thing that no one under the age of 30 is familiar with), the Super Nintendo version is a standard run-of-the-mill by-the-book hop-and-bop platformer.  Yes I did write that sentence on purpose, just to reiterate again how fucking many of these things there are, and how formulaic they all are.  Especially this one.

The gameplay for the most part boils down to running, jumping over things, swatting at things, or throwing things at other things.  Occasionally you find some hidden things.  Or defeat some boss things.  Aside from the occasional run-in with Mr. Anderson and his leaf blower, or Todd out looking to kick your ass, it s a completely unimaginative and uninspired use of a license that completely squanders  its comic possibility.  Then again, Mike Judge and the creators of this game are probably worlds apart when it comes to the gift of comedy, so it's not really shocking that this game isn't fit to hold the show's jockstrap.  And truthfully that was the norm back then because these were cheap throwaway games meant to cash in on a hot property.  We're rather lucky nowadays to have games like the South Park rpgs where the show creators are directly involved with the game's creative process because that was definitely not the case twenty years ago.

As far as how the actual gameplay and mechanics work, everything is functional enough, I guess.  The controls are responsive for the most part, collision detection isn't much of an issue, and the levels are, granted, repetitive and pretty by-the-books, but are never really overly-annoying at any point.  And I guess they at least tried to fit in a number of references to the series with appearances by the likes of Stuart and Mr. Van Driessen.  But they aren't really done in any real creative or imaginative ways, and nothing in the game is ever funny.  Why adapt comedic material if you don't make it funny in the process?  Whatever, the bar is so low with this type of game right now that it doesn't matter.  Let's just move on.

The only real notable thing in the entire game that I can think of is the inclusion of shock metal band GWAR.  That inclusion barely factors into the actual gameplay, as they are limited to a brief appearance at the end of the final level, but it tells you what sort of straws I'm grasping at here.  I guess the developers could have lamely gone with a unlicensed GWAR-ish band in their place, but they went ahead and got the real deal... a band who's primary appeal lies in NC-17 types of disgusting depraved antics that could not in any way be reproduced in this game.  So the whole thing ends up being another complete waste.  But hey, at least they didn't take the easy way out... if that does anything for you.

So, what do I even say?  It's a mediocre-to-poor platformer, one of the billions of the era, that does a bunch of mediocre things in mediocre manners, completely wastes its license, and its special guest star, and was unrelentingly boring to try and play or write about.  I honestly was fighting the urge to doze off while writing this, and that was only partially because I ate a huge lunch.

Did I beat it?
Yes, I got to see GWAR.

569 - Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story

So, here's another odd choice of adaptation, Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story.  Once again, it's a game based on a movie I haven't seen in 20 years, but as far as I remember it was a fairly faithful Lee biography that detailed his life after moving to America.  And I guess because he roughs up some racist sailors and stars in some kung fu flicks, someone thought to fit a video game around that narrative. Which has once again convinced me that no one in the corporate video game offices of the era had any idea as to what the hell they were doing when picking out properties to adapt. 

In fact whenever I think about LJN or Acclaim, I mostly I just picture various scenes from The Wolf of Wall Street:

But as weird as it is, I like that the story and source material are so unorthodox.  It's different, which is good and not boring.  How many fighting games do we need where a bunch of random warriors from across the globe travel to a tournament so they can be the ultimate warrior, or to win some trinket?  The fact that this game has you fighting random dudes in a restaurant, which then spills out into the back alley, is a nice change of pace to me.  And the between-level cutscenes at least try to frame a storyline.  It doesn't work, but I appreciate what they were going for here.

Unfortunately the gameplay itself is pretty weak.  Lee has a pretty wide range of moves that are mostly based on his real repertoire, but I feel like actually using any of them to any real effect is super clumsy and overly difficult.  And the hit detection is just horrid.  I swear I spend most of the match just trying to get my attacks to land anywhere close to my opponent, at which point it's a coin flip as to whether or not they'll even connect.  Acclaim fighting game = ruined by hit detection problems. 

The game also seems way too hard for its own good, but take that observation with a grain of salt because I'm the world's worst player at fighting games.  I was able to finish off the story mode on easy, but that seems to end somewhere in the middle of the actual game, and before your final showdown with the shadowy armored figure you see in the above screenshots.  I haven't seen the movie in a long time but I imagine he represents some figure in Lee's past that haunted him, and he doubles as the game's end boss.  Whenever I was forced to fight him early on (for some reason) he completely destroyed my ass.  Anyways, my attempts at beating the game on normal always fell short, as taking on one opponent is usually more than what I'm capable of in these games.  This one likes to match you up with two or three at a time, which spells my doom.

There's also some sort of special bar that slowly fills up over the course of the game, which can be used to bust out some nunchucks.  I'm not sure where Lee grabs them from, or why he'd have them on-hand outside of his movie shoots, but it's the closest thing to a "special" move the game has.  All it really seems to do is give your punches some added range and a dramatic increase in attack power.  I'm not even entirely sure how you use them, just that once the bar(s) fill the word "NUNCHAKU" starts flashing on the screen and hammering every combination of buttons you can will bring them out.

There's also a 3-player mode included, which for a fighter was pretty unheard of at the time.  Since up to three characters can go at it in the main storyline mode, I assume the multiplayer works the same way; everyone piling into the stage at once for a battle royale.  I haven't tested that out myself, yet, but hope to some day.  I'll give the game bonus points for it though.

So yeah, DTBLS isn't the worst fighter on the system (not even close), and it's probably worth checking out for any genre enthusiasts, mostly because of how different it is.  And the inclusion of 3 player is pretty damn cool.  But the gameplay is too sloppily executed to really make this anything more than a curiosity piece.  So check it out, or waste an hour on it with your buddies, and then shelve it.

Did I beat it?
Yes, but just on very easy.  I'm terrible at fighting games...

568 - ACME Animation Factory

Mario Paint derivative number two, and easily the most shameless of the duo.  This time the culprits are Bugs Bunny and friends, bringing you more than enough Super Nintendo painting, animating and song-making to satisfy your heart's desire.  Though anyone who desires this needs serious professional help...

Oh, and there's even a silly mini-game in tow.  And by silly I mean incredibly stupid.  Originality is obviously not gonna be this game's strong suit.

Drawing - It's a paint program, that thing that's been bundled free with Windows for at least 25 years, and is all but unusable nowadays with the likes of a D-Pad or ball mouse.  I guess the one saving grace is the inclusion of some pre-drawn landscapes and characters with which you can can populate your scenes or animations if you so choose.  Is the suite of tools and editors especially robust or powerful?  I'll give you one guess.

Animating - Take your drawings and crudely animate them by layering them across the canvas, sliding them around, and altering them on the fly.  I will admit that if you were crazy enough to dedicate roughly one million hours to it, you could produce a totally complete and working animation with this thing.  Again, I don't know why anyone would do that in the 21st century, but I imagine more than a few artistic kids back in 1994 with all the time in the world on their hands were up to the challenge.

Music - Add silly instrument noises to some sheet music.  This is much worse than the Mario Paint iteration however, with a terrible interface, limited sounds and options, no scales, and ugly-sounding music.  It's also quite maddening trying to place a note in the spot you want, and simple actions like rewinding or skipping ahead are both way more cumbersome than they need to be.  Hard pass on this one.

Memory game - Pure hot flaming garbage.  It's a basic match-two memory tile game, except there are dead squares that will end your game if you hit them.  Which means the only way to complete a round is to just happen to not pick one of them, which is about 3% of the time.  What sense does that even make?  What could have been a fun little bonus is instead a demerit on the game's resume.

If you had this game as a kid you may have had fun with it.  You may of recreated the theme song to Thundercats, or made a crude animation of Daffy plowing Bugs.  You also probably threw the controller at the screen after playing the memory game.  Or maybe my friends and I were the only ones depraved and violent enough to do those things.  My point is you had to be 12 years old in the 1990s to get anything out of AAF, and either way, none of us are any of those things anymore.  So don't play this.

Did I beat it?
I completed the matching game, so yes.

567 - Clayfighter

Did I beat it?

566 - Clayfighter Tournament Edition

I've always despised fighting games.  Always, right from the beginning.  I even remember when Street Fighter II came out and every single one of my friends bought it and became obsessed with it.  Eventually every birthday, hangout, or sleepover turned into an endless series of street fighting matches.  And I wasn't into it.  At all. I wanted to rent Contra III, or play cooperative games, or take turns at Final Fight.  I didn't want to understand byzantine mechanics, or ridiculous combos, or memorize nonsensical d-pad movements.  I didn't care about finding secret codes or unlocked modes.  Nothing about these games appealed to my nature.  And all of these fighting game sessions endlessly frustrated me.  Twenty-five years later this sentiment hasn't changed, not even a little; I played a Smash Bros. game as recently as last weekend and virtually every complaint of the genre still rang true in my head.

...and yet, for whatever reason I was hyped for Clay Fighter.  To this day I don't know why, since I was very cognizant of my distaste for fighters.  But whatever the reason, something about the ad campaign and constant magazine coverage reached me.  Was it the goofy claymation graphics and characters?  The 'tude of the evil snow man?  The effective marketing to and swindling of a young impressionable mind?  I honestly have no idea, and I was usually pretty grounded even back then as far as recognizing quality games.  But they got me, and we rented this mother the day it came out.

Well, CF obviously was and is a huge heaping pile of disappointment, not only to me but for most other people too.  When you strip away the (admittedly decent) claymation graphics and animation, it's another subpar fighter with dumb mechanics and shoddy hit detection.  A mid or low-tier fighter hiding behind a gimmick in other words.

First off, the roster is pretty small, and extremely unappealing.  From the muscle-bound circus freak, to the stick of taffy(?) or the outright hideous Elvis impersonator, everyone on the roster can best be described as grotesque, lacking any sort of appeal to me whatsoever.  It's no wonder they brought in Earthworm Jim with a future sequel, because he has more personality and charm than the rest of the roster combined.  And it's not all the clay's fault either, because games like The Neverhood and Trog prove that the medium can pull off lovable characters.

There isn't really much I can say about the gameplay itself that hasn't already been iterated in the write-ups for any of the fighting games I've already covered previously.  You square off against an opponent, you jump and kick or throw each other around, and then eventually someone dies.  Sometimes you can perform a Hadouken® to launch a ranged attack, and sometimes you can do some sort of upper-cutty sort of thing.  All matches are best of three.  Etc.  There is absolutely nothing different or unique at play here that hasn't been done a billion times in other games.

The game is also brutally hard.  That's not unusual for the genre, and it's not a dealbreaker if you're looking for an easy completion because the game does offer unlimited continues.  But it's just yet another annoyance that makes me not want to play it.  I don't play enough fighting games to know what would make a good and balanced single player mode, as that isn't really the point of these games, but what they have here does not get the job done.

Oh shit, I almost forgot.  You see this stupid game was evidently popular enough to (inexplicably) get a follow-up tournament edition.  People were actually asking for this?  Or was it just a pre-meditated strategy after the success of SFII: Turbo?  In any case the TE here might actually be even worse.  I played through them several years apart so my memory may not be perfect here, but the only differences I could spot were an added tournament mode to the main menu, which seems pretty fucking lazy to me, and some more aggressive AI in the single player mode.  Like, relentlessly and annoyingly aggressive.  And the attack damage is heavily weighted towards favoring the AI, which is some bullshit, which makes an annoying game even more annoying.  So unless you see the appeal of holding a tournament with your friends, which you shouldn't, this might actually be the lesser version of the game.  And it's more expensive so, yeah, it definitely is.

Did I beat it?
Yes, after a million continues.  Like I said, they must have seriously jacked up the bullshit in this one.

565 - The Ren & Stimpy Show:  Veediots!

The earliest of the Ren & Stimpy games, and presumably the one people are most familiar with, I probably don't need to tell most of you why this game isn't very good.  Combining all of the usual pitfalls of Western platformers with a license that could do no good, it's another frustrating, cheap, sloppily-assembled licensed title like so many that have already come before.

I'm not gonna rehash what the R&S show was; see the Time Warp write-up or google it if you need to.  But like the other games based on the franchise, Veediots! sets up a ludicrous story as an excuse to march the cat and dog duo through a number of levels loosely based on classic episodes, packing in as many references as possible, from the likes of Log from Blammo and the Tooth Beaver, to Powdered Toast Man in all his sparkling glory.  In fact it may cover more ground than the other three games combined, so if you are a superfan of the show looking for fan service (and not much more) this is your game.

Now just like the rest of the R&S games, this game is pretty fucking hard.  Way too hard for the target audience for sure, which I'll just chalk up to THQ's complete and total incompetence in regards to making video games.  Even reviewing the list of their games that I've already covered doesn't reveal a single entry that isn't too hard or too easy.  Just really an endlessly shitty developer, I cannot stress that enough.  Anyways, unlike Time Warp this one at least features a password system, though it still barely blunts the challenges.  But it does make it possible to brute force your way through the game this time, if you're determined or insane enough.

The controls and mechanics are exactly what you'd expect, and aren't even worth fully explaining.  You jump, you attack, sometimes you grab things.  What else needs to be said?  It definitely looks and plays much closer to Buckaroo$ than the god-forsaken Time Warp, for whatever that is worth.  I guess that's kind of like saying something plays closer to Spectre than Faceball 2000; faint praise at best.  Overall they're definitely not terrible or as slippery and annoying as stuff like Zool, and most deaths will be a result of cheap enemy placement or uneven boss fights instead of lost inputs, so I guess consider any of that to be the closest to kudos as this review is gonna get.

Anyways, I never made it past the boss of the second world, so I can't comment on the second half of the game.  Not that it really matters because I probably would have only grown to resent this game more than I already do.  So again, if you're a huge fan of the show you may dig throwing teeth at the fairy tooth beaver or sending our boys to boot camp.  Or maybe you landed a cheap copy in an eBay lot and want to re-visit a game you rented as a kid for an hour or two.  But everyone else need not apply.

Did I beat it?
No.  I tried quite a bit too.

564 - Out to Lunch

This.  Game.

Out to Lunch was a present for my sister during Christmas of 1994.  I know this because I myself got FIFA International Soccer.  And I know that because I got Madden '96 the next Christmas, which would have been 1995.  And also because I was really upset that I got a stupid soccer game instead of something like Earthworm Jim or Donkey Kong Country 2 [note - yes I was a spoiled brat in hindsight].  But that frustration was somewhat relieved because in my mind my sister had gotten a "real" game, and not some dumb sports title.  Or at least it was a real game in my head.  You see a friend of mine had once rented Panic Restaurant for NES and I had mistakenly assumed that OtL and it were two different versions of the same game.  To this day I have still never played PR, but I will always rue my younger self for making this association, because while that game is often considered a sleeper hit, OtL is really frickin' annoying and stupid.  And I have never beaten it, or really even been close, despite dozens of attempts over 20+ years.  It vexes me to this day.

The story is... you know what, it doesn't matter.  You're playing as a stereotypical French chef, and he has to travel the world reclaiming escaped (and sentient) foodstuffs while an evil black doppelganger tries to sabotage his every effort.  I'm sure these characters have names and there may or may not be a backstory for all of the food being alive and possessed, but I don't care, so we're moving on.

The levels themselves center around discovering a dog-catching net and then using that to capture the various rampaging potatoes, mushrooms, and pineapples that roam the level, before depositing them all in a large zoo-like cage.  You can also pick up subweapons like hot sauce (fire breath) or bags of flour (projectiles) to stun the food for easier capture, as well as fend off the various other enemies trying to murder you.  Those include deadly wasps, gigantic bacteria (which will infect your food) and your mustachoid rival, who will try to open the cage and set your captured food free, undoing all of your hard work.  The levels usually stretch rather vertically, and use ample teleporters, trampolines, and one-way doors to create a maze-like structure, all of which must be completed within fairly strict time limits.  So in case the diabolical nature of the game isn't already evident, I will translate all of that into a typical level progression:

1 - Find the net
2 - Find a subweapon
3 - Start capturing food
4 - Kill the bacteria before it infects the food because they can be accidently destroyed at that point, thereby making the level unwinnable
5 - Find the cage and deposit the food
6 - Hunt down more food until you reach the requirement
7 - Race back to the cage because your asshole twin has spawned and opened it
8 - Retrieve all of the food, AGAIN
9 - Run out of time
10 - Repeat

By the time you reach the 2nd or 3rd area you pretty much have to resign yourself to the fact that you'll need to spend a couple attempts just learning the layout of the levels and where you'll need to go and how you can get there, because there isn't enough time to do that in addition to all of those tasks I have laid out above.  And this is a game with no continues or passwords of any sort, so you're gonna be going through all of the levels a number of times if you hope to see this through to the end.  And it takes forever.

The controls are, stop me if you've heard this one before, slippery as all fucking shit. It is especially pronounced here, which again, STOP me if you're heard that before, really fucking kills the game.  I can't really emphasize that enough sometimes.  It always seems to be a plague on Western titles too, so either the Japanese just really had that stuff figured out, or Western devs at the time were extremely incompetent.  Probably both.

Occasionally you can find bonus zones, which is kind of novel.  Not the zones themselves, that's been done to death, but the methods through which you access them.  For instance, arly on you can ring some alpine bells to make a simple melody to unlock the hidden area.  Later you can knock a golden olive from an olive tree.  There's many others too that I've forgotten over the last two decades, but suffice it to say trying to discover them was one of the few joys I ever got out of this title.

Despite all of the attempts I've put into the game, I've never made it past the West Indies.  I don't even know how many areas there are, but that's only the third of them.  The game has already become so punishing and frustrating by that point that I just can't seem to push on through.  And yet I always come crawling back, despite wanting to murder this game, because it irks me that this is the only title from my childhood that I am not only unable to beat, but I can't even get close to beating it.  And I owned the Earthworm Jims, and borrowed the likes of Bubsy and Super Ghouls 'n' Ghosts, and many others.  All conquered!  So either this game is way more infuriatingly hard than all of those titles combined, or I'm just especially horrible at playing it.  Either way, it is my nemesis.

Did I beat it?
Nope, and I've been trying for decades too.  It just ain't gonna happen.

563 - King Arthur & The Knights of Justice

What a deeply troubled game.  This may be the worst thing Enix has ever been involved with and it's easily one of the most annoying RPGS games that I've ever played.  Every single part of its design just has me shaking my head.  What were they thinking?  The house of Dragon Quest and ActRaiser made this?  You'd almost have to go out of your way to create an action RPG this aggravating and endlessly punishing to the player.  But what else would you expect from the development team that brought you The Wizard of Oz and Pink Goes to Hollywood?

So, as we get further along in this project you'll notice I'm a pretty big fan of action RPGs.  Most of the genre's games are gonna end up with relatively high rankings, including the ones that drive me nuts like Lagoon and Addams Family Values.  As far as I'm concerned even a bad one on a bad day is typically still better than many of the other games out there.  In other words, even when one is doing many things poorly, I'm still probably having some fun at least.  Like was the case with those two other titles.  But the same can't be said for KA&TKoJ, because this game is a "fun" black hole.

So where to even begin with this game's many glaring flaws?

Well there's the godless fetch quests this game loves to endlessly throw you.  They are not only never-ending, boring, and stupid... but they are so un-fucking-believably cryptic.  "Here's a thing, take it to a guy, let him do some stuff."  I'm sorry, what?  Can you repeat that?  Maybe point me in the right direction?  Or any direction?  No?  Well I guess I'll wander the wilderness for five hours until something happens.  With my utterly useless map not helping out in the slightest.

And speaking of the wilderness... navigating the world here is second only to Lord of the Rings for sheer horribleness.  Everything looks the same, everything is too big, the paths to other areas are never apparent, and figuring out where exactly that guy you ran into that one time is... well, it's the stuff of nightmares. 

Now what is the one thing that can help alleviate the pain of endlessly wandering a large world, hacking away at endless enemies, while hopelessly lost?  I'd say it's a progression system of some sort.  Experience points, level ups, upgradable skills, shopping for better equipment.  You know, ANYTHING.  This game opted not to do any of that, so I hope you are prepared to fight a million guys for zero reason, ever, with the one, and only one, attack you are ever provided.  As in, no skills, no gear, no upgrades, nothing.  I'm starting to wonder if I should even be calling this an action RPG.

And speaking of the combat... it's abysmal.  Worse than LotR.  Arthur has a Secret of Mana-ish charge meter for his main attack, and that's it.  That is the full extent of depth to the combat in this game.  You swing your sword, you wait (an eternity) for the meter to re-fill, and then you swing again.  It gets old after approximately five minutes, and only gets more unbearable as it becomes apparent that is all you're ever gonna get.

There's also bad hit detection, no flashing enemies to indicate hits, no real storyline, dumb character names, no save files, bad graphics, bad sound, bad music, and bad everything else.  You know, that whole deal.  OH.  I should probably also mention the design "quirk" where every dungeon requires you to bring a specific knight from your posse along, lest you want to fight the bosses solo and be unable to pick up the key items they leave behind when defeated.  If you fail to do this you can expect to walk back to Camelot, pick someone else, and then try your luck again.  Yeah... I had forgotten about that whole thing, or maybe just suppressed the memories.  Thinking about it again kind of makes me want to throw the cart, as payback for all the wasted hours it foisted on me.

So, should this game be lower in my ranks?  I've probably made it sound much worse than this placement of #563.  And maybe it is.  But once again, I'm compromised by my soft spots.  I love action RPGs, I love knights (especially when they're obscenely big and colorful), I love big overworlds and dungeons, and I love having big crazy final bosses at the end of those dungeons.  It also has a large roster of playable characters, and a huge, huge quest to swallow dozens of hours.  Yeah, all of it is implemented really poorly at best, but there could have been the makings of a SNES classic here if Enix had had the time, talent, or acumen to realize it.

And hey, at least it didn't corrupt my passwords and glitch out my MC's attack power.  That alone makes it ten times better than frickin' LotR.

Lastly I must confess that the bulk of my experience with this game came back in 2015 (or was it 2016?), so a few things may have slipped my mind or grown hazy with time.  I popped the game back in for a night and read every review I could find to make everything fresh again, but that is not an optimal way for me to do these write-ups.  Then again there was also no way in hell I was gonna sink a bunch of time into this game a second time, so it is what it is.

Did I beat it?
No, I got maybe fifteen hours in before throwing my hands up and walking away.  And trying to resume my playthrough just a week later had me hopelessly confused and lost.  So King Arthur has the dubious honor of being the only RPG on the system that I gave up on before the end.

562 - Vegas Stakes

The second and final gambling game on SNES, Vegas Stakes is a marked improvement over previous entry Super Caesar's Palace.  And though I still don't know why anyone would want to play a game like this, it's at least a less obnoxious experience and vastly superior option overall.

First off, and this is a big one for me, there is a battery save this time, so you don't have to input a massive password just to recover your character's balance.  I have no idea why that couldn't have required a simple 4 character password in SCP, and I could easily spend this entire review ranting against that game, but I'm already spent more than enough time decrying it at this point.  See volume two for more details.

VS also tries to implement a (barebones) story and characters to liven things up.  It doesn't really add much to the game, but it's better than nothing I suppose.  The basic setup is that your character comes to Vegas with a buddy and tries to hit up several different casinos until he reaches $100,000 in winnings.  At that point you are granted high roller status and access to the final casino.  If you reach $10,000,000 you get a single screen ending and then credits.  This is done rather easily by save scumming on roulette if you so desire, otherwise most of the games seemed rigged to be in your favor.  I guess the idea is to give the player an overall happy experience with lots of winning.

Along the way you will encounter a ton of random NPCs, each of whom will ask you for a favor.  Agreeing to help them is another form of gambling itself, and will either lead to a reward of anywhere from $200 to $20,000, or to them robbing you blind.  Like everything else in the game, it is random chance.  However, it too is heavily weighted towards rewarding the player, so you may as well help them out every time one of them approaches you.

Beyond the story and NPC fluff, it's a pretty standard gambling experience, and the games themselves are the usual fare: craps, roulette, blackjack, slots, and poker.  I'm not gonna go into specifics as I don't recall what exact types of poker are present or anything, but just assume it's what you always see in games like this.

So, it's a pointless game, done in a presentable, polished manner, and is probably as good as this type of game gets.  If you enjoy this kind of thing you'll probably have a good time.  If you don't, it's a harmless enough way to waste an hour or two when you're bored.

Did I beat it?
Yes, with the help of save scumming.

561 - Goal!

A port, or sequel to, the classic Jaleco NES game (I have no idea which), Goal! is miles better than every soccer game I've already covered.  Probably better than all of them combined.  But it's still a mediocre experience, and a far cry from the good ones on the system.

The options present are super barebones just like in so many other subpar sports games.  From the main menu you only have two choices: Exhibition and Super Cup, which is a series of games against set opponents followed by a bracket-style tournament.  This is a thing in the soccer world apparently, judging by how every one of these games has a setup like this.  Now there are a decent number of configurable options, from toggling certain penalties on/or off, setting automatic goalies, and a wide range of half lengths, but overall the lack of "stuff" points to a pretty pathetic effort by Jaleco, especially considering this thing came out a full year after the system's release.  Launch titles get a tiny bit of leeway for offering limited modes, but there's no excuse for anyone else.

The gameplay itself takes place from a horizontal perspective (unlike Super Goal! 2 incidentally).  AI aggresion and general game speed are both moderate as opposed to the likes of World League Soccer and Soccer Shootout, thank god.  I don't think I could handle another game where I'm being mobbed by the AI 24/7.  The controls on the other hand are baffling.  It's soccer, how hard can it be, right?  But between the Y, B, and A buttons, which all kick the ball in the direction your player is facing, I swear I still can't tell you what the diffence between them is.  And I played over a dozen games of this thing.  Eventually I just settled on using one button for pass and another for shoot because they seemed to give me slightly better than average results.  Or they may do the exact same thing, I have no idea.  I think part of the problem is that the viewpoint is so zoomed in that I can never tell where the ball is actually going.  If it travels to a teammate, it's hard to say if that happened because I turly did "pass" it to him, or if he just quickly ran to where I was aiming.  This problem also extends to trying to score because unless you are right next to the goal, you cannot tell if your shot is going to be anywhere close to being on target or not.

This actually brings to light yet another issue; you can only kick the ball in eight fixed directions.  So the only real success I had on offense was lining up directly across from the goal, and moving in a straight line towards it.  If I ventured off this line, or tried to attempt a shot from a 45 degree angle, or added any other wrinkles to the formula, my shots would up flying wide left or right of the goal.  Every time.  Which then directly ties into yet another issue; the damn goalkeepers.  There's no rhyme or reason to what they do or what gets past them.  If I kick twenty shots directly into a goalie's chest, most of them will be safely caught, some of them will get tipped up over the goal, and one or two them will go straight through him into the goal.  And I mean literally right through him because the game triggers a close-up animation of the shot and it clips directly through his sprites.  So if there is any strategy to scoring, it is beyond me.

So all of this means that for every single game I played, the one and only strategy I was able to use successfully and reliably was dribbling down the middle of the field, pressing any of the buttons to pass to the unseen teammates up ahead, and then hitting another one of those buttons to put a shot into the goalie's face and hoping it just happens to go in.  No exaggaration, that is how I played, and how I won most of my games.  That's not uncommon for bad sports games on the system, and I should be used to relying on exploits by now, but this seems even more limited than usual.

Now, if this game is so shitty, and I've probably made it sound that way so far, why do I have it ranked so much higher than previous soccer titles?  Or ahead of middling almost-okayish stuff like Beavis and Butthead?  Well that's because I think this is a game with a fair amount of depth hiding under the surface.  Want to intercept your opponent's pass with a perfectly executed flying bicycle kick that perfectly sets up a shot on goal for your teammate?  It sometimes happens.  Want to send a curving corner kick directly off your forward's forehead into the goal?  That can happen, if you know what you're doing. Which means it rarely happened for me.  But it still happened.  You see I realize it's my fault I had so much trouble understanding what was going on in this game because I never bothered to download a manual, or read an FAQ, and the nuances of soccer in general have always baffled me.  Could I have done those things, or learned the sport?  Yes.  Are there actually strategies I should be employing to see success?  Most definitely.  And I think this is a game where you can put the time in to make this an above-average experience.  I didn't do it because it's soccer, and I don't want to, but I hesitate to tank a game when I realize it's most likely better than what I got out of it.  So call this an average game, that some soccer fans might love, and I had a hard time with.

Did I beat it?
It's a work in progress.  But I probably won't because soccer.

560 - Test Drive II: The Duel

I very vaguely recall playing the original Test Drive on my dad's original PC.  This was before Windows, when I had to boot everything up through DOS through the couple dozen commands I memorized, and our game library consisted entirely of games sent to us on five inch floppy discs from my grandfather in St. Louis.  He'd send us a huge printout with thousands of programs, and my dad would highlight the ones we wanted with a Sharpie.  In hindsight it blows my mind that either one of them gave the slightest shit about any video game, much less went to this much effort to get them into our house.  Hell, every time I tried to explain to them why it was very important that I recover a talking monkey's giant banana stash or slay a giant invisible pig man they only shook their head, wondering why I didn't want to do something more important like build character.  But anyway, Test Drive was one of the programs that my dad picked out, and anyone who has ever played it will immediately know why.  It's the ultimate "dad game."  Pick the car of your dreams, take it out on the highway, evade cops, and... well that's pretty much it.  It's literally a simulation of an afternoon cruise.

The sequel, which we can see here was ported to Super Nintendo, tries to make that formula a little more interesting by adding a "duel" element.  Instead of just trying to make it to the goal line before you crash or get arrested, you now have to outrun your foe.

There are four different courses to select, each representing a different difficulty.  As far as I can tell that just determines the amount of rain you can expect, the number of civilian vehicles on the road, and the rate at which you run across the cops.  None of those really represent any massive obstacle, as long as the current section of the road you're on is four lanes wide.  The two-lane areas are where you start to run into trouble.

The controls are good enough for what the game asks of you.  Which is to say, they are extremely basic, but straight-forward.  If you select an automatic transmission the only things you'll need to worry about are the gas and the brakes.  There's also a button dedicated to your horn, but I never could tell if that actually did anything.

There's a couple other miscellanous things I should probably point out.  Like what appears to be the growing number of bug smears on your windshield during a race.  If there is a button to use your windshield wipers, I either never figured it out, or it was left behind with the PC original.  And in addition to duels, you can also just race "the clock."  I never bothered to check that mode out.  Some sections also let you get (very briefly) airborne if you're going fast enough.  It's probably the closest thing to a thrill in the entire game, but it's still pretty tame.  We're talking like two feet off the ground.  But it will snap you to attention and you try to regain control before slamming into the motorcyle in front of you.

If this review seems relatively harsh, know that I do not dislike this game.  It has its problems, but something about the experience is very relaxing, especially compared to other racers on the system.  Since the challenge is so low, and the pace so slowed down, I find it to be a very nice change of pace after some time with any other (frustrating) game in the genre.  Call it my letdown game.  Of course I'll have had my fill after 10-20 minutes and always end my play session there, but I never hate my time with the game. That has to count for something.  Lastly, I'm fairly sure later installments in the series basically ditched the entire formula and became more conventional racers.  Not that I blame the developers; in the age of Gran Turismo and Super Mario Kart I doubt very many people were looking for this type of game anymore.  Especially on consoles.  But it's really the only thing it had as far as claims to fame.  Oh well.

Did I beat it?
After five or so sections, or whenever I run out of cars, the game tells me I won and gives me the top high score.  So... yes?

559 - Battle Blaze

It's funny, but as I was reminiscing about my time with this game, and looking at those screenshots for inspiration, I realized just how much I loathe the appearance of the dual health bars at the top of the screen.  I know that probably sounds funny, but it's true.  And that's because of what they represent.  You see, I love most video games.  Platformers, puzzles games, arcade games, shooters, shmups, first person shooters, on-rails shooters, twin stick shooters, RPGs, JRPGs, WRPGs, QRPGs, space games, fantasy games, collectathon games, card games, battle toading games, games with deadly premonitions, games with robot shrimps, games that combine sheep with block towers, games that combine vacuuming with sushi rolls, games that combine Panzer Dragoon with schizophrenia, paraplegia and serial killing, and on and on and on.  Even the occasional soccer game, the devil's sport, can sometimes be admittedly charming.  And that's because for the most part I don't care what the genre is, or what the platform is, or what year it came out, or what it looks or sounds like, I can probably have a good time with a video game.  Any video game. 

And I'm especially susceptible to the charms of cheesy artwork that promises I can swing swords and maces at someone else's face. If I see that artwork above, it will get my attention, and probably my hopes up.  But when I turn the game case around to look at the screenshots, I pray I don't see those god-forsaken life bars.  Because fighting games are the bane of my existence.  It is the one type of game that consistently pushes me away.

This specific one, presumably about battling and blazing, is an early effort from Sammy, the studio behind previous thorn-in-my-side Football Fury.  I'm sure they probably released a good game at some point too, but it hasn't looked good for them so far.  And they certainly were not trying very hard this time around, because BB is a pathetically simple fighter that barely has a roster of characters, or gameplay, or anything really.  There's a couple different modes, which I've already forgotten the details about (never a good sign), each of which takes just 10-15 minutes to complete.  One of them is called Hero Mode, which resembles a campaign of sorts.  And by that I mean it's a single player mode where you eliminate the rest of the cast in a series of one-on-one fights before taking on the big bad at the end (just like in every other fighting game ever).  You also travel a world map (kind of) to make things feel more epic (it doesn't work).  So at the end of the day what you have is a standard single player fighter that tries to mix things up and fails miserably.  And I probably made it sound way cooler than it actually is.

Kind of like most of the other early fighters, there is no choice of hero for the single player mode; you are stuck with generic barbarian dude.  He's the lamest guy in the entire game too.  His moves include swinging a sword and swinging a sword in a couple other slightly different ways.  I assume.  Because honestly I spent all three (!!!) of my playthroughs doing the same single attack over and over again.  You see, when your foe gets close to your barbarian, instead of performing a throw attack like is standard, you run them through with a dash attack of sorts that will also send them flying to the ground.  As they get up you can repeat the process, again and again.  This is what I do for every fight, without exception.  It's boring but it makes things quick and easy so I can't help but abuse it.

At some point in one of my playthroughs I was actually killed somehow (usually I don't even take so much as a hit), but instead of dying my character appeared to pop a potion and instantly recover.  So... I have no idea what that was about, but apparently an extremely easy game is even easier than I thought when you can't die.

There's also some other mode.  I played through it.  I don't remember anything about it.  I don't want to refresh my memory.  Let's just assume it's a minor variation of hero mode.  Fighting games seem to love doing this to make it seem like there is more meat to the game than is reality.

I assume there is also multiplayer of some sort.  Maybe there isn't.  It doesn't matter.

So in conclusion, the game is a rancid affair, and probably amongst the worst on the system.  But it's also mercifully brief and easy, which is always a big plus in my book.  It means my time spent with the title was just that much shorter and frustration-free, and that is worth a lot to me.  So drop this a hundred spots if you enjoy fighting games. Or fuck, maybe bump it up a hundred spots, I dunno.  I would never presume to actually be able to identify a good one; I'm usually too busy cursing my life when playing them to notice.

Did I beat it?
Yes.  Way too many times.

558 - Riddick Bowe Boxing

Yep, another boxing game.  Can you tell yet that I'm not a fan of this sport, or genre?  But at least this is the last one.  I hope.  No... I pray it is.  Because I cannot spend another couple hours mindlessly trading blows with some other meatbags, watching dully as the stamina bars never seem to deplete, and the timer slowly counts down.  I may go insane in fact.

Actually, I'm being way too harsh here.  Riddick Bowe Boxing isn't that bad.  I mean it's not that great, and not the sort of game I like, but I didn't hate my time with it or anything.  And I would much, much rather play this than the likes of TKO, Boxing Legends, or the Foreman games.  Boxing fans may even like it.  But I've more than had my fill of this type of gameplay over the last eight months.

First let's cover the good things.  This game offers a career mode, which lets you work up through the rankings by picking and choosing your fights.  I like that.  And there is even some rudimentary stat-building between fights, which lets you control which sort of fighter you end up with.  I like that a lot.  The boxing action itself is actually playable for once too.  I really like that.  Instead of trying to find exploits, or just randomly bash buttons and hope things worked out, I did actually have to find some combos that were effective against the other fighters, and what worked for one guy didn't necessarily work against another.  Kudos to the game for that.

But of course this game wouldn't be ranked in the 500s if it wasn't chock-full of things I don't like.  Like how painfully long the fights seem to drag on.  I don't think I ever finished off an opponent in less than five rounds, and since I averaged roughly 200 thrown punches per round, that means a single gameplay session means thousands of punches.  That gets boring.  I don't know how many shots to the head and then quick one-two follow-ups to the gut I delivered, but I lost count somewhere around 10,000.  This is not a game you can play for more than thirty minutes at a time.  The roster of fighters is also completely devoid of charm.  They're all made-up (unless Bowe shows up at some point), but unlike the Super Punch-Out roster they all look alike, and have zero personality.  It's basically just a sequence of slightly varying skin tones and facial hair, with no one standing out at all.  To me that is a majorly lost opportunity, as an eclectic cast is one of the best things an arcade boxing title can provide.  For shame.

If you're into boxing games like Fight Night or Ready 2 Rumble or... whatever another might be, you may enjoy this.  And everyone should play this instead of any of the other SNES boxers if that choice is one you have to make (for some reason).  But it's only fun in very small doses, if it's even fun at all.  I'm still undecided.

Also, I have absolutely no idea who Riddick Bowe is.  Probably one of the billion heavyweight champions the boxing world seems to have floating around.  And got video games apparently.

Did I beat it?
No, but technically I do have an in-progress career if I ever choose to finish it.

557 - Carrier Aces

The first of the SNES's many aerial sims, Carrier Aces combines two things I love: World War II and dogfighting.  Is it weird to say you "love" a war?  Probably.  Maybe I should say "two things I'm fascinated by."  Fuck it, you know what I mean.  Anyways, this relatively lofty ranking is the result of a lot of mixed feelings at play here, because I think this is yet another title where different people are gonna get wildly differing levels of enjoyment out of it.  If you are fascinated by the subject matter like I am, you might be able to wrestle some fun out of it, anyone else is probably gonna have a bad time.

For those who couldn't guess (or don't consider themselves even casual followers of history), this game covers the war in the Pacific between Japan and the US (maybe the rest of the Allies make an appearance at some point, I dunno, I didn't play every mission after all).  Specifically, it mostly covers the various engagements between the two carrier fleets, hence the name.  The game is split into five different campaigns, each of which progresses through several different types of missions.  You begin the campaigns by building a squadron of a dozen planes from various types (fighters, bombers, etc.), and then are taken to a map of the region that shows you the two powers moving into position.  You don't really do anything from there like in a typical strategy game, it's just a way neat way to show the campaign's overall progression.

Dogfight - Exactly what it sounds like; Zeros against Mayfires.  Except instead of having a large-scale fight between entire squadrons up in the air above the fleets, the game instead plays out a series of one-on-one battles.  These go on until one side or the other is completely destroyed, and I hate it.  It's slow and extremely tedious, as each skirmish can last up to ten minutes, relying on a lot of cat-and-mouse games as you continously try to find and engage your foe.  Literally 95% of that time will be spent just trying to just catch up to the enemy, because there appears to be some sort of maneuver that will grant a sudden and dramatic boost in speed, but I could never figure it out how it works.  The AI will use it nonstop though.  Finally shooting down an elusive opponent is extremely satisfying, but it happens so infrequently and takes so damn long to accomplish that it's barely worth the effort.

Torpedo Strike - Again, exactly what it sounds like.  Pilot a single bomber and try to dodge flak while lining up a torpedo with a capital ship.  These segments are reasonably well executed, and fun, but seem pretty heavily luck-based.  There were at least several instances where I was shot down moments after the level started because I spawned in a turret's crosshairs.  Kamikaze crashes into your foe also seem effective.

Strafing Attack - Exactly the same as the torpedo run, but instead of lining up a single attack from a bomber, you're trying to rake the ship with your machine guns. 

Dive Bomb - Similar to the last two, except you're dropping straight down on a carrier, trying to blow apart every plane parked on the deck.  The turret fire is laughably easy to avoid this time for whatever reason, but the need to pull up before you splash into the ocean means these sections only last about five seconds.  It's fun, but a tease.

Carrier landing - Land your carrier at your home base's harbor.  No I'm kidding, it's putting a plane down on the deck of one.  These also last about ten seconds, and I've been successful with every single attempt.  That robs the game of any potential thrills or drama, and just makes for another boring mini-game.

So while I love the idea of the game, I just didn't find it very fun to play 97% of the time.  And the dogfighting, which is what you'll spend most of your time in this game doing, is extremely tedious.  So unless you figure out exactly how to play that mode, which I didn't, it is gonna outgrow its welcome real fast.  It's a shame too because I really wanted to enjoy Carrier Aces, but this game rebuked those efforts at every turn.  This may be the sole WWII game I've ever played, on any system, that I didn't finish.

Did I beat it?
I beat one of the campaigns.  I'm not sure if they all have to be done in one sitting or not, but that would be extremely tedious.

556 - NCAA Basketball

Another one of the shoddy Nintendo-made sports games that came out early in the system's life, NCAA Basketball is the twin brother to NHL Stanley Cup and uses the same engine and Mode 7 perspective.  It's probably marginally worse than that game, or at least I stuck with it longer which gave me more time to learn its many flaws.

First off, this game is fully licensed by the NCAA and the major conferences, and features a relatively large number of Division I programs.  In fact every team from every power conference (of the time) is present, though all of the independents (ie Florida State) are missing, strangely enough.  So I was able to rock my hapless Pitt Panthers and Georgia Tech Yellowjackets to my heart's content.  No mid-majors though, so Gonzaga and Marquette fans are SOL.

As far as the gameplay goes, you can pretty much copy-and-paste what I've already said about so many basketball games so far.  This is yet another title that came out before NBA Live '95, which means it has a slow and plodding pace, a severe lack of offensive options, and little in the way of fun.  And just like in every old basketball game from Double Dribble to Bulls vs Blazers, scoring usually means trying to wedge your way into the paint for a shot and hoping it goes in, or finding an exploit and abusing the hell out of it.  In fact I'm just gonna start calling this "sticky defender" syndrome.  And it drives me nuts.  It's also amazing to me that no one thought to shake this formula up until frickin' 1994.

Anyways, beyond being just another primitive basketball game, I can at least point out some of the quirks that are present.

- There's no backboard.  So feel free to use all of the paint when driving (or muscling) your way in for a dunk or layup because for all intents and purposes the rim is suspended in mid-air.  This was my bread-and-butter strategy earlier in the season, before the defenders starting ramping up and sealing off my lanes.
- Loooong three point shots.  I don't know what factors into field goal accuracy, but distance doesn't really seem to be a big part of it.  So if your player manages to get open he's probably gonna sink the three, whether he's right at the line or fifteen feet behind it.  For this reason the PC can be lethal if you let them wind the shot clock down, forcing them to make a desperation shot.  Or at least what would normally be a desperate shot, since they'll all go in.
- No configuration options.  I swear these basically don't exist.  So there's no way to skip to a postseason, or shorten up the long ass games, or do much of anything.  Super lame when you're trying to play a season or just play in the tournament.
- Bizarre scheduling and tournament setup.  As far as I could tell the regular season entails playing two games against each conference opponent, with no out-of-conference games.  I also had to play six tournament games to win the championship which would mean a traditional 64-team bracket.  But I'm not even sure if this game offers that many teams...
- You can call plays, but I swear they do nothing.  I tried it a number of times every game, never to any avail.  Maybe I was doing it wrong, or maybe it's not apparent they're executing.

Now I did actually manage to drag myself through an entire season (and postseason tournament), mostly by using the same exploits over and over again.  I can't say I ever had any fun playing it, but it was at least mindless enough that I wasn't entirely annoyed the whole time.  Pretty faint praise, but that's the best I can say about it.  So, it's a game that is fully featured, fully licensed, and technically playable, but not very fun, or hiding any real depth in any way.  If you bother to play any of the older basketball games on the system (for some reason) you could definitely do worse.

Did I beat it?
Yes, I went 20-0 with Kansas.

555 - The Ren & Stimpy Show: Fire Dogs

The fourth and final Ren & Stimpy game, thank Jesus, Fire Dogs probably comes the closest to being a quality title.  Or maybe I should say it's the one game in the series that has the closest thing to (fleeting) joy (I was gonna make a "happy happy joy joy" joke there, but it kept coming out really poorly).  Strangely enough it also seems to be the installment with the worst reputation.  Perhaps that's an effect of the AVGN video, or perhaps it's because it has the roughest and least intuitive start to any of the games.  I definitely do not fault anyone for hating this game because it surely makes you work for the good bits, and not everyone has as much patience as I when spending time with the legions of shoddy SNES titles.

So like I said, this is again a game that the AVGN already did a video on.  That review focused mostly Stimpy's efforts in getting through the (fire)house of horrors, and makes the game look very slow, cheap, and frustrating as fuck.  And it wasn't wrong, because these levels are really damn stupid, and take up an entire half of the game.  Solving them basically consist of trial-and-error, requiring you to memorize the exact layouts of every level, including the locations of all hazards and pickups, so that you can then efficiently fly through it in a very specific manner so that you can beat the tight time limits.  It's very not fun, and it gets very old, very quickly.  And each successive level gets more and more demanding on all fronts.  Not a good formula for success, any way you put it.

On the other hand, the other type of level is one I do enjoy.  These feature the the duo using a fire net (trampoline?) to catch the various valuables that are falling from burning buildings.  These sections are super unforgiving and just as reliant on memorization as the firehouse levels, with a difficulty curve that gradually escalates until culminating in a truly manic endgame of which I was unable to overcome despite hours of effort.  Sounds pleasant, right?

And yet I can't help but like them.  More than I should.  Despite getting game overs again and again I kept coming back because I really wanted to overcome their steep challenges and move on.  And though I could not beat the game, I put a lot of effort into trying.  That is far more than I can say about the rest of the R&S games combined.  In fact the thought of playing Time Warp again makes me want to weep, and the lack of checkpoints in BuckaRoo$ and Veediots! is making my blood boil.  Whereas Fire Dogs gives you a password after every level, a godsend and huge difference maker in regulating the frustration factor.

So, is this game any good?  Probably not, and even if mileage varies, I seriously doubt more than a few (at most) players come away from this thing with anything other than contempt.  But I honestly had more fun with Fire Dogs than with the 150+ games I've already covered, so here it sits.

Did I beat it?
Almost, but not quite.

554 - Suzuka 8 Hours

Fuuuuuck.  Another motorcyle racer?  How many did I choose for this installment?

I have to be honest, when it comes to these games my "well of inspiration" (if we can generously call it that) always seems to be running dry.  I just... don't really care about these games.  I don't care about racing, I don't care about motorcycles, and I find both of those things an absolute bore to think or write about.  So this review is gonna suck, just like the ones for Full Throttle and GP-1 did.  I just don't know what to say that I think will be interesting or insightful.  So I'm gonna keep it really, super brief, and go with this mini-review that I half-completed several months ago:

The final motorcyle racer in this installment, thank god, and the millionth one I've covered recently.  They're a pretty shitty bunch overall if seven of them managed to fall into the bottom 150.  Or maybe I'm just especially critical or unfair to games that I struggle with.  And I struggle mightily with these.

I don't know what it is about these games, but I can't stay on the damn track.  Ever.  Not here, not in GP-1, not in Kawasaki Superbike, not in Carribean Challenge.  None of them.  Is my brain incapable of registering the feedbacks necessary to get better at them?  Are they just pronouncedly difficult games?  I honestly don't know, but it is a massive struggle to make myself stick with any of them when I'm frustrated almost the entire time.

What else? There's an 8 hour race option, per the title, if you're a masochist.  I obviously never touched that.  Luckily you only need to play the medium-length setting to see the full game, but that still sticks you on each track for an eternity.  I don't recall exactly how long that was, but trust me, it's an eternity.

Yeah, I dunno what else to say.  For as much as I played this game I can't remember much more about it.  And my most recent attempt to play it ended with me falling asleep in my chair.  So... that's it, I quit.

Lazy, right?  But they can't all be winners and at some point I just have to cut the cord when I'm way overdue on getting this stuff posted.  So the only question left is, how many more of these damned games do I need to deal with?  I know I still have GP-1 II (what sort of fucking title is that?) left, and my alcohol-addled mind is telling me that might be the final one.  And all I can say is I truly, truly hope that is the case.  For my sake and yours.

Did I beat it?
Yes.  Wait, what?  I beat two motorcyle games?  I can only assume I was drinking heavily.

553 - Paperboy 2

Just for the record, I love most of the old-school arcade ports on the NES.  Everything from Q*Bert, Donkey Kong Jr. and Spy Hunter, to Pac-Man, Bubble Bobble and, hell, even Clu Clu Land.  Every time one of those games comes up in in the weekly contest I'm always surprised by how much of a blast I end up having, and I never get tired of playing the same short loops of gameplay over and over again trying to best my high scores.  Something about mastering a very specific set of challenges, with inputs that are tightly designed around obtaining scores, can be very, very satisfying to play.  Most of the time.  Because there is one very big exception to this rule and that is the Paperboy franchise.  These bastards are so aggravating and endlessly cheap that every effort to play them seems like a drag, seemingly designed more around RNG and sucking up quarters in the arcade as opposed to mastering skills or having fun.

Unfortunately for the SNES, not only did it end up receiving very few ports of early arcade titles, but the only one it got during the early years of its lifespan was Paperboy 2.  I even distinctly remember this being one of the very first games I ever rented for the system, and even as a young child who was desperate to play any and everything I could get my hands on, I knew something was very wrong here.

While the original game in the series tasked your paperboy (or girl) with surviving one week on the job, the sequel triples that, giving you "easy", "medium", and "hard" streets to conquer.  Those also seem like complete misnomers to me because I have never survived a week on easy street.  On any version of the game.  It makes the original Paperboy look like "preschool" street.  And that is partially because the BS factor has been significantly ramped up this time around.

Paperboy might have seemed random at first, but there was clearly a pattern to those who looked closely enough.  Each additional day would add more and more enemies and hazards, but 95% of the time they could be anticipated and avoided by taking the correct path with your bike.  In fact, I would say every pattern and enemy type could be avoided if you react quickly enough, so long as you remember what you faced in previous days.  I don't find that very rewarding or have much fun doing it, but the game is fair in some sense at least.  With the sequel however I never felt like that was the case.  It seems that any path you take (whether that's the lawns, sidewalks, gutters or middle of the street) is one death trap after another, waiting to kill you with with random attacks and unavoidable hazards that are impossible to anticipate.  Now maybe that's because there's a bigger variety of them, or maybe they're just more unpredictable now, but I was never able to get into any sort of groove like I did with the first.  And I feel like getting into that groove is an important aspect of this genre.  You need to feel like you're getting better and mastering the gameplay for it to work. 

P2 also adds another "bonus area" at the end of each route.  Once again it resembles an obstacle course, and has you hitting jumps and nailing targets for extra points.  I thought the hit detection in this part absolutely abysmal in the original game, and it's only slightly better this time around.  Luckily you are never penalized for failing, or I should say you don't lose lives.  So, unless you're playing for high score, that at least lessens the blow of having to play this segment over and over again.  I'll settle for boring and stupid as opposed to maddeningly frustrating.

Overall I hesitate to call this a terrible game because I think it accomplishes exactly what it sets out to do, and I feel like the series must be doing something right to garner the fans it does.  There's also nothing inherently wrong with this port either, as everything plays and controls exactly like it should.  I just don't like the formula, and I don't like what they added onto the original, and I find it super annoying that I never seem to be able to overcome the RNG and put together a good run.  So will mileage vary on this one?  For sure.  But I think most people will have had their fill after ten minutes.

Did I beat it?
No, I'm terrible at this series.

552 - Garry Kitchen's Super Battletank: War in the Gulf

Did I beat it?
No, but I will some day.

551 - Super Battletank 2

Kitchen sink title joke

One of the earliest releases on the system, Super Battletank is a follow-up to Battletank on NES, both being presumably PC ports.  And by simulation, I mean this thing is as much of a simulation of real tank warfare as Top Gun on NES simulates aeriel dogfights.  It's more Battlezone than CNN, preposterous cover quote aside.

When I was a kid the local video store had all of its SNES rentals organized by release date, with the oldest games occupying the top row.  Which means SB was always perched right next to the likes of Super Mario World and F-Zero in the upper left corner.  And in the nearly ten years of perusing those rentals I never once noticed it had been taken.  That always piqued my curiousity.  Was this strange tank game just too hardcore for us weenie video store patrons?  Was it too complex or nuanced for the typical Super Nintendo-playing grade-schooler?  These questions burned in the back of my mind...

Well, twenty years later I've played the game and can finally answer those questions: no and no.  It's just a generic, slow-paced arcade game that no one cares about and no kid would ever be interested in.  The gameplay is, again, Battlezone, but with a few added wrinkles.  Which means this is an arcade title, and nothing more.  A typical mission involves gunning your Abrams tank toward the nearest enemy tank on your overhead map, and then playing a high speed game of tag as you try to keep him in your sights, futilely trying to tag him with depleted uranium cannon fire.  You know, just like how the real tank battles in the gulf went down.  Later on this formula is mixed up with the presence of enemy choppers that you need to shoot down with your heavy machine gun, also just like real life.  And to mix things up, sometimes there are minefields to avoid.  Or SCUD launchers to blow up.  Occasionally a mission will end with the game's closest thing to a boss fight: ambushes from enemy fortifications.  I think.  I honestly couldn't really tell what was happening on these parts, other than you're suddenly under fire from multiple directions and you have to blow up the dark silhouettes off in the distance before you die.  It's really stupid, and poorly done, with little warning as to what is coming or explanation as to what to do.

Everything does controls well enough with a relatively straightforward scheme.  A shoots, B brings up the map, X and Y control your throttle, select changes weapons, L and R turn, and the D-Pad controls your targeting reticle.  Though strangely enough whenever you enter the map your speed increases at least tenfold.  That's very useful for zipping around the map, but very annoying when you accidentally do it during a skirmish and fly halfway across the map, leading to another tedious effort to re-engage your foe.  On top of that, this is a game where you have to manage your fuel, which is always super fun.  It's not usually an issue during most missions, but it's just one more thing to deal with and create anxiety.

And that's basically the entire game.  It's fun enough for what it is, but not really that fun either.  I like shooting down helicopters as much as the next guy, but there's never any real variety to the action.  And the tank battles are pretty absurd overall, again like drawn-out games of tag.  I'm not saying the game should play like a Jane's title, but something between "light arcade title" and "hardcore sim" would have been more than acceptable.  Plus if you're better off blowing up tanks and choppers with a heavy machine gun, as opposed to your main cannon, that probably speaks to some balancing issues with the game.

The sequel, Super Battletank 2, barely changes the formula up.  Seriously, the two games are virtually identical.  Missions still place you on a square map, and task you with taking out the enemy's tanks, Hinds, and SCUD launchers.  Did the Iraqi Republican Guard air force actually have Hinds?  Who knows.  And once again, you're better off using your turret HMG to take out most opponents, including enemy armor.  Though I will say that the main cannon is slightly more useful this time around thanks to a more accurate gun.  Or maybe the shells just fly in a more useful arc.  Whatever the reason, at least half of your shots will hit your target this time, as opposed to the one quarter in the first game.  And your ammo capacity has also been bumped up big time, which removes one of the original's annoyances.  Obviously they recognized this was something that needed tuning.

The one major change present here is the inclusion of new rail shooter segments that pop up at the end of some of the missions.  You can see one in the third screenshot above, and these task you with blowing away endless enemy choppers that are trying to strafe your Abrams.  There's also occasional fighter jets, trucks, and bouncing.... something or others, that travel across the screen, but I never successfully destroyed any of them.  Or interacted with them in any way.  They don't seem to attack you, so I have no idea what purpose they serve.  Overall these segments are pretty boring and repetitive, and go on for way too long.  Good idea, bad execution.

In the end I have to admit I had some fun with both SBT games, all faults aside, and I have put them on the short list of half-finished titles that I plan on eventually getting back to with some serious effort made towards completing them.  Since the missions are so short and the gameplay is simple enough to master and/or memorize, I anticipate being able to do that without getting too aggravated, which is always a nice bonus.  But they're not great games, held back by too many flaws and rough edges, and different people will probably have different opinions of how they play out.  If you like real simulations, these games aren't gonna give you much to work with.  But if you like Battlezone, you may enjoy them.

Did I beat it?
No, but I will some day.


Writing about every SNES game - Volume VII
SNES Set - 715/723 (Tecmo Super Bowl II)
Switch: SW-6880-6470-3131

Edited: 09/18/2018 at 12:39 AM by Brock Landers

May 9, 2018 at 10:39:23 AM
Andy_Bogomil (100)
(Pete ) < Bowser >
Posts: 5883 - Joined: 11/15/2012
Nice! Always fun to read these when they pop up. I appreciate the effort and sacrifice you go through to play this garbage and write about just how terrible they are. Still nothing worth even playing at this point. I use to play Bruce Lee when I was a kid because it was simple and the graphics were decent but that shit gets old fast. So many bad sports games and generic side scrollers. Still the only games I would vouch for that you've covered are the WWF games in the last list.

Sadly I bet Dream TV is definitely on a hidden gems list somewhere. Game is horrid.

Wii U Collection Status: 160/161. Just Dance 2018. 

Edited: 05/09/2018 at 10:40 AM by Andy_Bogomil

May 9, 2018 at 10:41:15 AM
snes_collector (84)
(Jordan ) < Eggplant Wizard >
Posts: 456 - Joined: 09/05/2011
Just read all of this- thanks for your work and patience in playing all of these games. As much as I love SNES, there sure is a lot of garbage on this system. As I kid I bought a used loose copy of Sim Earth (why I don't know) and was completely lost. Never could figure out anything. The review hit home with me.

Looking forward to the next round!


May 9, 2018 at 10:44:51 AM
Loxx O))) (19)
This user has been banned -- click for more information.
(Fat Man Kraid) < Bowser >
Posts: 7139 - Joined: 09/26/2016
Incredible Crash Dummies was a tv show and toy line. Loved it as a kid.

May 9, 2018 at 12:35:32 PM
Splain (26)
< El Ripper >
Posts: 1286 - Joined: 06/15/2016
You want bad? A lot of these games have Game Boy versions.

May 9, 2018 at 8:24:31 PM
scaryice (115)
(scary ice) < King Solomon >
Posts: 3118 - Joined: 05/23/2009
Nice job as always. Clayfighter had a pretty good marketing, they did parodies of Mortal Kombat for most of their ads. Considering how many mediocre fighting games there were in the mid-90s, that was enough to make it stand out.

WTB/WTTF - Famicom carts (69 needed):

May 9, 2018 at 9:21:10 PM
fox (15)
(Gunslinger Fox) < King Solomon >
Posts: 3184 - Joined: 07/12/2012
United States
I've heard some call Rocko's Modern Life a hidden gem puzzle platformer

May 10, 2018 at 1:31:00 AM
Brock Landers (55)
< Wiz's Mom >
Posts: 11343 - Joined: 05/04/2014
Federated States of Micronesia
Originally posted by: fox

I've heard some call Rocko's Modern Life a hidden gem puzzle platformer

I guess in the same way that Eek the Cat! is a hidden gem puzzle platformer

I tightened up the writing in Goal!, King Arthur, and NCAA Basketball


Writing about every SNES game - Volume VII
SNES Set - 715/723 (Tecmo Super Bowl II)
Switch: SW-6880-6470-3131

May 10, 2018 at 1:32:59 AM
Loxx O))) (19)
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(Fat Man Kraid) < Bowser >
Posts: 7139 - Joined: 09/26/2016
Originally posted by: fox

I've heard some call Rocko's Modern Life a hidden gem puzzle platformer
You should tell them to shut the fuck up.     It's an escort mission for a game.  So glad Bea beat that game so I wouldn't have to... in one year of the SNES thread.  Damn, I hope it was this year.

May 10, 2018 at 5:32:16 AM
fox (15)
(Gunslinger Fox) < King Solomon >
Posts: 3184 - Joined: 07/12/2012
United States
Originally posted by: Brock Landers

Originally posted by: fox

I've heard some call Rocko's Modern Life a hidden gem puzzle platformer

I guess in the same way that Eek the Cat! is a hidden gem puzzle platformer
Maybe it was Eek the Cat then.  All these cartoon games kind of blend together.

So many awful cartoon games.  Other than Turtles, Tiny Toons, and Goof Troop, most were pretty bleh.

May 10, 2018 at 5:51:47 AM
Bort License Plate (55)
(Barclay Barry Bert Bort) < Wiz's Mom >
Posts: 12383 - Joined: 09/02/2015
Originally posted by: fox

Originally posted by: Brock Landers

Originally posted by: fox

I've heard some call Rocko's Modern Life a hidden gem puzzle platformer

I guess in the same way that Eek the Cat! is a hidden gem puzzle platformer
Maybe it was Eek the Cat then.  All these cartoon games kind of blend together.

So many awful cartoon games.  Other than Turtles, Tiny Toons, and Goof Troop, most were pretty bleh.

Eek the Cat is trash, don't waste your time with that

Switch Friend Code: SW-3306-9533-2032

May 10, 2018 at 9:07:30 AM
winterion (16)
(Daniel Greenberg) < Meka Chicken >
Posts: 711 - Joined: 06/03/2016
As I've been reviewing some of these titles myself in the last six months, I've appreciated seeing another angle on some of them!

Daniel Greenberg, Founder of Winterion Game Studios Daniel Greenberg, George Mason University Game Design
Founder of Winterion Game Studios
Visit us online!
Watch us on YouTube

May 10, 2018 at 9:49:52 AM
Brock Landers (55)
< Wiz's Mom >
Posts: 11343 - Joined: 05/04/2014
Federated States of Micronesia
Originally posted by: fox

Originally posted by: Brock Landers

Originally posted by: fox

I've heard some call Rocko's Modern Life a hidden gem puzzle platformer

I guess in the same way that Eek the Cat! is a hidden gem puzzle platformer
Maybe it was Eek the Cat then.  All these cartoon games kind of blend together.

So many awful cartoon games.  Other than Turtles, Tiny Toons, and Goof Troop, most were pretty bleh.

I was joking. Eek is even worse


Writing about every SNES game - Volume VII
SNES Set - 715/723 (Tecmo Super Bowl II)
Switch: SW-6880-6470-3131

May 10, 2018 at 10:34:42 AM
the tall guy (130)
(Randy the Astonishing) < Bowser >
Posts: 5601 - Joined: 05/13/2008
I love reading these! Well done sir.


"Meeting internet dudes is what being a dude on the internet is all about!"  ~OSG 

May 10, 2018 at 5:32:57 PM
glazball (20)
< Crack Trooper >
Posts: 117 - Joined: 06/25/2012
Another great installment - thank you for these write-ups! I find it fascinating how many of these crappy games were made in the West. We always knew back then that the best games came from Japan and (so far) your reviews are proof of it.

Keep it up  

glazball's game collection and wantlist

May 10, 2018 at 6:50:54 PM
Ausden (11)
(Jonathan ) < Meka Chicken >
Posts: 650 - Joined: 02/12/2010
North Carolina
This was great!

May 11, 2018 at 12:07:01 AM
MrPeaPod (0)
< Meka Chicken >
Posts: 702 - Joined: 01/12/2017
British Columbia
That set of games were the ones I've liked the least. They aren't so bad that you can't play them. They just do so many things wrong they aren't fun.

I'm looking forward to the next installment. Keep it coming!

Check out my game collection here:

May 11, 2018 at 11:35:33 AM
KrakenSoup (48)
(Mike ) < Bowser >
Posts: 6240 - Joined: 01/27/2014
New York
I really enjoy reading these even if I have hardly played any of them so far. I guess that's a good thing, that I've barely played any you've listed. I'm waitng to see what the worst ranked game I own is by your standards and where my favorite games lie. Great read as always.

May 13, 2018 at 12:06:43 AM
Space Jockey (145)
( Xenomorph ) < King Solomon >
Posts: 4738 - Joined: 06/03/2012
I feel pretty glad that I don't think I own any of the games you have listed so far. Used to when I had a full set, but for games I kept for fun, none of these were on there.

For the Eek game, I think the TV show had the grandma getting lost and it was up to Eek to get her back home safely in a lot of missions (while he himself got hurt often). So the game is just like the show in that sense.


Switch Friend Code: SW-7855-4097-7884

Originally posted by: Space Jockey
Originally posted by: Guntz
On a more serious note, I've played EarthBound today for so long, I feel all tense and mentally worn out.
Then you called your mother and felt better?


May 14, 2018 at 2:32:40 AM
Steve (12)
(Steve RVG) < Lolo Lord >
Posts: 1796 - Joined: 02/25/2011
United States
Great work as always, Brock!

Crash Dummies -- I had Spin the plush dummy back in the day and loved it to death. I sort of adopted it as my stuffed animal pet. I remember renting the SNES game and thinking it was pretty bad, but I haven't played it in 25 years now. Been meaning to but it's like Game #262 on the queue, lol.

Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story -- recently played this and it is pretty bad. Recently reviewed it on my site and gave it a 4.0 rating. The GF and I visited Bruce and Brandon Lee's grave site over spring break in Seattle. Brandon's passing recently passed the 25 year mark, crazy.

Clay Fighter: definitely not a quality game but I personally don't think it belongs with the heap of trash as most of the games on this particular part of your list. But of course, opinions vary and that's the beauty of it all.

King of the Monsters: The first SNES game "I ever bought" (or had my mom buy for me anyway). LOVED the arcade... hated the butchered SNES port but in a weird way still loved it. Oxymoron I know but I did. It was like a "It's not really good but it's MY game" kind of mentality. They took out 2 monsters (Woo and Poison Ghost) but worst of all they got rid of the tag team bedlam mode, which was the game's main selling point.

Out to Lunch: This game was disappointing. I remember reading some good things about it over the years... recently played it last year and wow... it's really repetitive and unnecessarily hard to the point where it just causes frustration more times than not. I gave it a 6.0 rating but I might have been a bit generous with that score. It's one of those tricky games where... if you only play it for 15 minutes you could easily think "Hey this isn't too bad..." but explore it further and the flaws shine through. Other games that fall into that category IMO are Nosferatu and Prehistorik Man. First 15 minutes they feel like 8+/10 games... but deeper you go the more that score drops down to 6 or so. Perhaps worst of all, OTL lacks a password system AND a level select cheat code (that would render a no PW system moot). The worst of both worlds. And the two player mode is alternating. If they made it co-op and included a password system, it would have been much more palatable... see what I did there...  

RVGFANATIC | SNES reviews and remembrances


Jul 25, 2018 at 11:06:07 PM
Brock Landers (55)
< Wiz's Mom >
Posts: 11343 - Joined: 05/04/2014
Federated States of Micronesia
Read a good chunk of this for the first time in months, and then touched up a number of things that didn't sound right, and corrected more of my endless typos

Volume V is probably 33% done, though I did take a month off


Writing about every SNES game - Volume VII
SNES Set - 715/723 (Tecmo Super Bowl II)
Switch: SW-6880-6470-3131

Edited: 07/25/2018 at 11:06 PM by Brock Landers

Jul 26, 2018 at 5:52:06 AM
quest4nes (147)
(jeff -) < Bonk >
Posts: 18454 - Joined: 02/21/2010
This is why i can never make a list like this lol. Id take all those cartoon platformers over final fantasy or chrono trigger haha. I find alot of charm and nostalgia for mascot platformers.

Also i like home alone. In your review you referenced the bad guy in your photo. Harry and marv are in random rooms and parts of each level.  I rented this game as a kid. Ill always have an attachmrnt to it.

Mostly so far i hadnt had any low rankings hurt me yet. This list section was the first of the "ah man screw you brock landers   " entries.

i know a couple of my favorites are going to be in the near future. One being a sports title. Its going to hurt me deep brock. Dont you do it.


NES  639 (331 Manuals 319 Boxes)
Wii U 158/163(incl. Starfox Guard & Bayonetta 1)
SNES 308
N64  167
Original Gameboy 48


Edited: 07/26/2018 at 06:04 AM by quest4nes

Jul 26, 2018 at 12:48:10 PM
Brock Landers (55)
< Wiz's Mom >
Posts: 11343 - Joined: 05/04/2014
Federated States of Micronesia
NCAA Football? You're safe for a little bit


Writing about every SNES game - Volume VII
SNES Set - 715/723 (Tecmo Super Bowl II)
Switch: SW-6880-6470-3131