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The SNES Rankings VII: Planes, Cranes, and Bluesmobiles #450-401

May 12 at 11:33:47 PM
Brock Landers (56)
< Wiz's Mom >
Posts: 11482 - 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
Volume VII: #450-501

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 editor Splain for spotting my abuses of the English language and having the patience to slog through them with me while bronzeshield was tied up with real life.


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

Edited: 05/13/2019 at 03:13 PM by Brock Landers

May 12 at 11:33:55 PM
Brock Landers (56)
< Wiz's Mom >
Posts: 11482 - Joined: 05/04/2014
Federated States of Micronesia
Game Show game #1
450 - Jeopardy!

Game Show game #2
449 -
Jeopardy! Sports Edition

Game Show game #3
448 - Jeopardy! Deluxe Edition

Yeah, that's right, I grouped all of the "game show" games together.  Don't tell me you didn't see that coming.  Is it a lazy way to judge games that I deem too different from the rest of the libary to be separated from one another?  Maybe.  Just know that after this there will only be one last batch of games (much later on) that will get a similar treatment.

I will also admit that I am a huge trivia nerd.  I don't know why exactly that is, just that anytime someone mentions a name I don't know, a band I don't recognize, a world event that has slipped my memory, or a piece of lore that has escaped my notice, I usually head straight over to Wikipedia so I can begin correcting that.  Something about knowing all of the "things" must be in my blood because I compulsively do it all the time.  So it goes without saying that I love to do pub trivia so that I can show off my useless knowledge of Heisman Trophy winners or Spaghetti Western directors.  It's in my DNA or something.

Jeopardy! is basically the same idea as pub trivia, right?  And though I almost never watch the show (mostly because I never watch anything on broadcast television outside of sports in a bar), I love the formula: answer questions, get money, bet that money on getting other questions correct, and lose it all in a blaze of glory.  The show's also been around for a million years because there's an elegance in its simplicity.  Don't fix what ain't broken.

So how do the three Super Nintendo video game adaptations of the show stack up?  Well enough, I guess.  If nothing else they are faithful renditions, that capture much of that fun of providing the questions for Alex Trebek's answers.

On the other hand, are these games as fun as, say... actual pub trivia?  Absolutely not.  No one in the 21st century wants to sit around with their friends and pass a controller around while slowly entering letters into a system.  So while I completely understand why these games were made, and why people would have enjoyed them back in 1994, their time has passed.  There is absolutely no reason to ever play any of these as the whole experience is just completely obsolete nowadays.

...I mean, I guess unless you are underage, or want to play this with your kids or something, and you're expecting them to be able to answer 25-year-old questions. Because let's be real, you'd buy it for Switch or PS4 if you planned on doing any such thing.

Did I beat Jeopardy?
Yes, I certainly did.

Did I beat Jeopardy Sports Edition?
Yes, I certainly did.

Did I beat Jeopardy Deluxe Edition?
Yes, I certainly did.

Game Show game #4
447 -
Wheel of Fortune

Game Show game #5
446 - Wheel of Fortune Deluxe Edition

So while I think that Jeopardy! is the superior game show, I'll give the Wheel of Fortune titles the slight edge as far as video game adaptations go.  Why?  I'm not really sure - I guess choosing a single letter is more fitting for a video game than laboriously trying to key in an entire word, hoping that you spell it right.  Which might just tell me I'm one lazy son of a bitch.  Or maybe I like trying to figure out the puzzles.  In any case, it's another series of admittedly fun games from GameTek that are, nonetheless, virtually obsolete nowadays.

I'm sure I don't need to explain the setup of WoF either, but here it is anyways: spin a wheel, guess a consonant or "buy" a vowel, laugh at Pat's dumb jokes, and ogle Vanna White.  Eventually roll bankruptcy on the spinner and lose your shit in front of a live studio audience.  Something along those lines in any case.

I'm not even gonna bother going over things like graphics and sound for this cluster of games either.  No one is gonna be playing something like WoF and worrying about how good the spritework is, or how faithful the theme song sounds.  Just know that for all six titles everything is executed competently enough to not be a detriment to the experience.

So, yeah... I dunno.  What else is there to say?  If you want to play a party game with friends... get a Switch.  Or play Super Bomberman.  Or get out of the house.  You don't want to play this.  But if you're really into Wheel of Fortune, or you're a sick enough person to play the entire Super Nintendo library, then I guess you could certainly do worse than play any of these games. this the shortest review I've written yet?  It might be.  Everything in volumes one and two were pretty short in hindsight, but I think this may be the new champion.

Did I beat Wheel of Fortune?
Yes, I won some monies.

Did I beat Wheel of Fortune Deluxe Edition?
Yes, I won some more monies.

Game Show game #6
445 - Family Feud

Yep, the same things I said up above still apply here.  I like trivia, I like trivia games, yes I enjoyed my time with this title, no there isn't any real reason to play it in 2019, etc.

I did technically rank Family Feud the highest though, mostly because of the element of teamwork.  For anyone not familiar with the show (probably no one), you are supposed to compete with your "family" against another "family."  Members take turns guessing the results of various surveys with topics along the lines of "Name something that you find in the bathroom."  And then you guess "soap," and find out that 48 people out of 100 surveyed answered the same way.  Or you panic and say something you can't unsay.

I don't know why I'm explaining this, because again, everyone already knows.  But that's the gist of it.

Overall it makes for an entertaining television show, and a fun party experience.  Or at least I would assume it does because when my wife invites people over for party games, we do not bust out the Super Nintendo and play Family Feud.

[This is a shorter review than 446   - editor]

Did I beat it?
Yes, I won money until I got the ending.

444 - Newman/Haas IndyCar Racing featuring Nigel Mansell

Our good buddies Acclaim present Newman/Haas IndyCar Racing featuring Nigel Mansell, sequel (I think) to Nigel Mansell Championship Racing on NES/SNES.  No relation to Mario Andretti IndyCar Racing, Al Unser Jr. Road to the Top Racing, or Kyle Petty No FEAR Racing.  It's also a game that I'd call a bit better than KPNFR, a tad worse than MAICR, way better than AUJRttTR, but a pretty big drop down from NMCR. 

Got all that?

The first Nigel Mansell game, which I will be covering in a future installment, bundles great controls and a good sensation of speed, with a solid challenge, fair difficulty curve, and an experience I'd describe overall as "fun."  As far as racing sims on the Super Nintendo go, it's one of the better games the system offered.  And though not quite good enough to be called a hidden gem, it's still definitely a title that any racing enthusiasts should check out.

Newman/Haas on the other hand, does its best to ruin all of the goodwill the first game built up, and I don't know why exactly that is.  Both games were handled by the same development house, it was produced several years after NMCR, and by all accounts should have been an improvement, building upon an already good thing.  But it failed to do that.

Now upon first impression both N/H and NM appear to use the same racing engine (or at least they are very similar looking).  Everything takes place from a first-person perspective, with a very good sensation of speed, solid controls, and good graphics.  It's a good setup, and it worked out great the first time.  The problem is, everything is harder this time around.  Much harder.  And I think that's due to a couple of missteps on the game's part:

- You are given way less heads-up on incoming turns, which makes staying on the road a thousand times more difficult.
- Catching up to the pack is now nearly impossible most of the time.  Make a single mistake and you are most likely F'ed in the A.
- Even when staying on the road and maintaining a good line, you still need to perform near flawlessly if you are to have any hopes of placing.

And that's enough to nearly sink the game.  They took one of the better racers on the system and tried to run it into the ground with some terrible design choices.  I can only assume that someone over at Acclaim thought that NMCR was too easy, and overcompensated on the correction.  Which just further proves that Acclaim was great at ruining everything they could get their hands on.

Now, I think there is still a good game in here somewhere.  Buried very, very deep.  And people who are much better at racers than I am may have the patience to find it.  But I couldn't stomach doing it.  It pains me to rank this game as low as I am, especially after how much fun I had with NMCR.  But another part of me almost feels like I'm being generous with this spot, if anything.  They took such a solid game, and just did their best to ruin it with such an unrelentingly cruel difficulty.  I'm not saying racing games shouldn't be challenging, or demanding on the player, but it's too much here.  Not since Kawasaki Superbike Challenge have I been as demoralized by a racer as I was with Newman/Haas, and it really is a shame.

Did I beat it?
No.  This game is impossible.

443 - Star Trek: The Next Generation - Future's Past

...or as I like to call it, Star Trek: The Next Generation - The Game of Mass Confusion and Space Battles From Hell.

This is the first Star Trek game I've covered, and the one I had the highest hopes for initially.  I mean, how could it not be great?  Pilot the Enterprise across the galaxy, unravelling a massive conspiracy, blowing apart other ships in heated dogfights, dropping off away teams to solve puzzles and battle across sprawling 3D maps?  While getting to play as bald dreamboat Jean-Luc?  Yes, please.

It shoulda been a classic.  Shoulda woulda coulda, because it's not.  At all.  Hell, it's barely even a cohesive experience, and easily could have fallen much further in the rankings.  I guess I was feeling generous, because even though I've steadily dropped it a hundred and fifty spots in the rankings over the last couple years, it could have fared much worse.  And I know Star Trek games have generally held a reputation for being pretty piss-poor for the most part, and I probably should have known better up front, but it still hurt to have to repeatedly drop it like that.

The game begins on the bridge of the Enterprise.  Here you can hail other ships, consult with your crew, acquire passwords and information on various systems and bases, head into warp, and review various other types of intel.  The majority of the game, however, is played in two different other phases:

Away team missions - Overhead levels where you control a squad of 1-4 members of the Enterprise comprising everyone from Deanna Troi to Geordi.  Think something like Zombies Ate My Neighbors or Soldiers of Fortune, but not nearly as good... in any way.  These missions are generally puzzle-filled or mazelike in nature, requiring you to repair a ship, rescue miners, track down an NPC, and so forth.  The gameplay is simple and fun, but there is little in the way of in-game help.  Miss one of those miners?  Guess you'd better retrace all of your steps (good luck with that).  Can't figure out what items to use where?  Beat your head against the wall until it's solved.  Either way, I still enjoyed every single one of them.  Who doesn't want to bust caps into giant alien worm asses?

Ship-to-ship combat - These segments on the other hand, are godawfulFor comparison, in the future I will be covering another SNES title called Star Trek: Starfleet Academy.  It's a decent little game, with a decent combat engine.  Future's Past takes the basic idea that was present there, and drives it into the ground.  And then takes a shit on it.  Combat between the Enterprise and an enemy ship always, always devolves into an endless game of circle strafing, with both ships pelting one another with phaser and photon torpedo fire until someone blows up.  Usually the Enterprise.  The only way to survive is to figure out a pattern that forces most of the enemy's fire to miss, so that you can survive long enough to take them down.  Which will take awhile.  And involves nothing but frantic button mashing.  And even if you are victorious, a second ship will often enter the fray, and fuck you in the ass.  Good times.  I'd say it's second only to Carrier Aces as far as being the worst dogfighting I'ver ever experienced in a video game.  And it might actually be worse.

Oh, and the truly brilliant part?  After completing one of the away team missions (which can take hours), you'll more likely than not run into a dogfight as you're returning to base.  Guess what happens if you lose?  Yep, you get to redo all of it.  Because the game does not deem it necessary to give you your password until after you successfully warp back to that friendly starbase.

It was after the third occasion where I lost all of my mission progress thanks to another defeat in ship-to-ship combat that I had to throw in the towel with Future's Past.  I was enjoying the game despite its warts, and really wanted to see where the gameplay and storyline were going, but the pain of having to repeat the missions yet again was just too much for me to overcome.

Did I beat it?
Nope.  This is the one Star Trek title on Super Nintendo that defeated me.

442 - Turn and Burn: No-Fly Zone

Chalk this up to being my vote for the stupidest name of any game in the Super Nintendo library.  Turn And Burn: No-Fly Zone?  That should be a video game trivia question; what two franchises were named after Top Gun quotes, and which one only lasted a single game because its title was so dumb?

...wait, I forgot about Hey Punk! Are You Tuff E Nuff? Master the Moves to Master Me!  That's way worse...  I mean, Jesus H. Christ, what were they thinking with that one?

Anyways, stupid name aside this is probably the closest thing to an actual flight sim on the system.  TnB tries to implement things like carrier takeoffs and landings, realistic HUDs and views, and dogfighting a little more akin to reality.  That doesn't mean this isn't still an arcade game at its core, but the sim trappings actually work pretty well. 

This is also basically the aerial combat version of Super Battletank, which means I can only presume this came from the same developer.  Why do I say that?  Because the way you cruise around the map at high speeds, trying to chase down your next bogey, and the ensuing games of high speed tag that result from it, play out almost exactly the same in many ways.  Though I do much prefer this game over the two tank titles, mostly because of the much lower frustration factor, and a few other little fun bits that are sprinkled throughout. 

In fact TnB is rather easy overall, as most of the enemies don't put up too much of a fight and you can always retreat back to your carrier to repair and resupply if need be.  Does that potentially rob the game of much of its challenge?  Yes.  But sometimes I don't want a challenge, I just want to shoot shit and not worry about it.  This game more than had me covered in that regard.

You start off every mission with a takeoff from a carrier, which is basically automated, just like in Microprose's Super Strike Eagle.  Landing back on the carrier tasks you with at least lining up your aircraft, but still automates the actual landing.  Once you're in the air you check your map for bogeys, and then zip towards them at high speed.  Once they're in range you down them with a missile or your vulcan cannon, and move on to the next target.  Rinse and repeat until you win the mission. It's that simple.

Occasionally though, you'll have to take out a land target.  When that happens the game switches over to a new "area" where an island sprite will appear in front of you via Mode 7.  You'll need to dodge incoming enemy fire while gunning down whatever structures make up your target, until it's destroyed or you're shot down.  Also very simple.  But still fun in a simple mindless way.

And that's really all there is to the game.  Splashing bogeys and blowing up island fortifications.  Something about it works better than it should, because I enjoyed my entire playthrough.  Mostly because I think there isn't much that the game does wrong.  It boasts really nice (albeit limited) visuals, everything on the HUD looks great, the frame rate is smooth, controls are solid, sound is nice, destroying enemies is satisfying, and so forth.  Yes the challenge is extremely limited, especially when compared to the likes of Carrier Aces, Wings 2, or Lock On, but that isn't always necessarily a bad thing.  Sometimes it's nice to have a breather.

Did I beat it?
Yes, a couple different times.

441 - John Madden Football

Oh man, talk about humble beginnings.  Well, technically John Madden Football for Super Nintendo (and Genesis) isn't actually the first game in the series, but it is the first one that saw release on console.  And it's a far cry from the juggernaut franchise it would eventually become, arguably one of the biggest in the history of video games.  Hell, it's a far cry from the later iterations on the same system, a series that saw several incremental improvements across the board, from graphics, gameplay, and sound, to the acquisition of the NFL license, and the inclusion of a number of different bells and whistles.  But it all started here.

The graphics, framerate and animations are all decent, but were much improved later on in the series.  Well, the player models in the next two games were still pretty goofy looking, but everything else got better.  EA also didn't get the NFL license until the 1994 version of the game, and didn't start adding all of the extra shit until 1995 and 1996.  But the core gameplay is here, it's just a little "off" in various ways.

The running game and defending against the run are both pretty solid, and fun for the most part.  Madden staples such as the hurdle, stiff arm/power, spin, and dive are all present and accounted for, which gives some nice variety to your strategy.  Do you try to burn past the end?  Hurdle over the dives?  Run through the defender?  It's one of the things that I've always felt Madden got correct, right from the beginning.  It is harder to bust off "home run" plays than it would be later in the series, but I'm not sure if that's a bad thing or not.  More realistic?  Probably.  But more fun?  Probably not.

The passing game is completely busted though.  Some of the worst I have seen in any football game, and a night-and-day different from what we'd be seeing in later iterations in the series.  As far as I can tell, if you sit in the pocket with your quarterback for more than a second, your receivers will most likely finish their routes and then proceed to just do whatever.  I'm not saying that doesn't happen in real life at the end of the route, where busted plays quickly turn into bouts of improvisation.  But here it happens basically immediately.  As in, if you want a pass to go anywhere near where you intend it to, you have to throw the ball the instant it is hiked to you.  And that is ridiculous.

So, this is easily the worst Madden game on the Super Nintendo, and easily the worst one I've played on any system for that matter.  But the foundation of what was gonna make this such a good series was here.  EA, bless their hearts, actively worked to improve the product with each follow-up, and they made a substantial leap just the following year.  So while I don't think this installment of Madden is especially good, I can still enjoy it as a curiosity if nothing else.

Did I beat it?
Yes, I played through the postseason with somebody.  I forget who.

440 - Bugs Bunny Rabbit Rampage

Another Sunsoft Looney Toons game already?  Can we tell yet that I'm not a huge fan of their work?  Furthermore, Bugs Bunny Rabbit Rampage had to have been their highest profile release, with tons of ads and coverage in every magazine under the sun, and even a cover story with Nintendo Power.  This was supposed to be the big one!  Well suffice it to say, I was pretty disappointed when I finally got my hands on it, and would go so far as to say that BBRR has to be in the running for worst game that's ever been the feature story in a Nintendo magazine [note - I guess I forgot that they gave Wrestlemania and Road Runner Death Valley Rally covers as well... no comment there]

Now I will say that everything about the game's presentation is beautiful.  Bugs and all of the various enemies and bosses he encounters - all ripped straight out of classic episodes - look and animate wonderfully.  I'd even boldly claim it's one of the best looking platformers on the system.  And the music score sounds great, again mimicking many of the classic tunes features in his cartoons.

But looks only go so far, because the gameplay is once again pretty rough.  Granted it's not nearly as disastrous as that Road Runner game, but the poorly-thought-out mechanics and sloppy implementation and balancing certainly draw Duck Dodgers to mind.

The gist of most levels: move left to right until you reach the boss, and then bounce on his/its head until it dies.  But to the game's credit it does throw a few wrinkles at you.  Like defeating a series of wolves who are trying to knock down the three little piggies' houses, and yourself to boot.  Or the matador level, where you need to trick a bull into plowing into barriers so that your path is cleared.  Or making a series of blind jumps across flying Martian ships.  These ideas don't usually work, but they at least try to give the game some variety.

The combat is also not very good.  Bugs has been given plenty of options to get the job done, yet all of them are inferior to the best option: running away.  You know you have a problem when a game centers its design entirely around combat, and yet you're better off never engaging if at all possible.  Anyways, the attacks are as thus:

Primary attack - throwing pies in your enemies' faces.  It is not very well done, and I can't say it's because of a hit detection problem, but more of an enemy "invulerability" problem.

Secondary attack - a swift kick to the nuts.  Well, the groin area... basically Bugs is hitting the short area directly in front of him.  How is that different from what the pies do?  It isn't.

Tertiary attack - subweapons that you collect throughout the levels.  These includes bombs, sticks of dynamite, tomatoes, "holes," and other various wacky items from Bugs' cartoon history.  These also all kind of suck.  They'll trigger an animation, which does grant a very short period of invulnerability, but it also keeps you from getting out of harm's way in a speedy fashion.  And most (if not all) bosses are immune to subweapons anyways.

Uh, Quaternary attack? - a butt stomp of sorts.  This is gonna be your bread-and-butter move since the act of jumping up will at least keep you out of danger some of the time.

Despite that varied repertoire of moves, Bugs cannot attack while jumping, amazingly enough.  That seeems like the sort of no-brainer that has been figured out since the original Castlevania, but Sunsoft didn't deem such a thing to be important.

The game also has this wonderful feature where you can "create" save points during levels by using one of the itmes you come across.  Or at least it would be wonderful if it didn't have a fatal flaw.  You see, Bugs will respawn at this save point, but none of the powerups throughout the level respawn with him.  So you're stuck with the dilemma of either A) trying to use the save immediately before the boss so that you can take him on at full health each time, or B) play it safe and save earlier in the level, which leaves you with no guarantee that you'll be getting to the boss in one piece each time.  In fact you most likely will not be.  It's one of those "damned if you do, damned if you don't" type of things.

One thing I did like though, was the rating you'd earn at the end of each level, based on the "pizzazz" (as the manual puts it) and efficiency through which you got through the level.  A good rating will award lives or continues, not that I ever saw any of those.  But it was still one of the best ideas the game has.

So overall I think it's a letdown, which makes Sunsoft Looney Toons games 0/4 in regards to impressing me so far.  And just like usual I was not able (or willing) to see it through to the end.  But they're at least making progress here.  The game is fun at times, and there are good ideas present.  And it looks and sounds great.  It's just not as good as you'd hope it would be, and it's certainly not on par with Konami's run of games made with Warner Brother cartoon properties.  In fact, I haven't gotten to any of those yet, which means Sunsoft was nearly universally worse at this on the Super Nintendo.  I realize Konami was stiff competition but... god damn.

Did I beat it?
No.  I got to the Marvin the Martian level on my fourth or fifth attempt and couldn't bring myself to start over once again after inevitably dying.

439 - David Crane's Amazing Tennis

David Crane's Amazing Tennis - presumably named for the same developer who brought us A Boy and His Blob and not some obscure tennis pro - is an okay game.  It's perfectly playable, and moderately fun once you know what you're doing.  But it's not the game I had hoped it would be.

If you look at the screenshots up above, you'll notice that the game goes for a "behind the shoulder" perspective, as opposed to the more "bird's eye" view used by the rest of the tennis games on the system.  I will say it's ambitious, and definitely ahead of its time, as future tennis games such as the famed Virtua Tennis series opted for this same approach.  And though I don't think that it works very well here, I will at least appreciate what they were going for.  You see, as the rallies heat up the camera is going to track the ball by sliding left and right.  The problem with that is it never zooms in or out.  So if you hit the ball sharply to the right or left your player is gonna to move out of sight as the camera hurries to stay on the ball.  So when your opponent makes his return, you're scrambling to get into place without being able to see where you are.  It's very jarring, and to this day I still have a hard time adjusting to it.  I can also confidently say this is what costs me most of my points.

The game also seems a little too demanding with its hit detection.  I don't know how many times I've had the ball returned directly in front of me and then whiffed right through where I thought it was going.  I'm not saying that's the worst thing in the world, or that the game shouldn't demand skilled play from the user, but a crappy tennis player like me could have used a little more leniency.

My final gripe with the game is that it's pretty hard to play from the far end of the court.  You have almost no angle for seeing your half of the playing area which can make it really hard to get the ball over the net as you mistime your swings.  It can also be very hard to judge "drop" shots from your opponent, as you end up swinging over the ball because you're standing too far back.

Those grievances aside, it's a fun game.  The controls are perfect, the animation smooth, and I think it accurately captures the feeling of the sport.  When you get a rally going it can get pretty intense as you try to outmaneuver your foe.  Now granted I never made it especially far in any of the tournaments, and was lucky to beat a foe or two at best, but I can only imagine how tough the later opponents would be.

So overall, I think Crane's game is a huuuuuge improvement over the last two tennis games I covered awhile back, but still only the third best offering on the system.  I'll be covering another one in the near future, but I think both pale in comparison to that last remaining title.

Did I beat it?
No, I'm not much for knowing how to win at tennis (or tennis games).  I'm more of a table tennis player, where I can win through brute force and disguising my spin.

438 - Wolverine Adamantium Rage

Remember when I was keeping track of how many bad games each of the different publishers had released, tallying up the various ranks they had "earned" at the bottom of every post?  And how I quickly realized just how long and unsustainable those lists were starting to get?  Eventually I had to drop them for the time being while I figured out a better solution.  But if I had kept that up, Wolverine would have been the 30th entry from LJN/Acclaim.  Let that sink in for a moment.  I'm still almost a hundred titles away from the halfway point, and the boys from Long Island have been responsible for over 10% of the games I've written about.  That's amazing when you think about it.  They may not have been responsible for as many sheer trainwrecks as THQ or Mindscape, but they have done more than their fair share to drag down the overall quality of the SNES library.

Wolverine can represent something of a watershed moment for the company though.  This is probably the first game of theirs where I can say there's legitimate fun to be had.  I know I admitted that I enjoyed Warlock quite a bit (mostly because I'm a sucker for the source material), but Logan's starring vehicle is the first one that seems like a fully realized game to me.

The gameplay is best described as a mixture of brawler and action platformer.  As in, stages are on a 2D plane, where you generally move from left to right, hopping up onto platforms, and trying to find the level exit.  But combat is ripped straight from a beat 'em up.  In fact the whole game kind of reminds me of a mix between The Incredible Hulk and X-Men: Mutant Apocalypse.  But not nearly as good or as polished as either of those games.

For starters, the combat is deep, but awkward.  You have all of these moves at your disposal, but they all have such weirdly specific hitboxes that it becomes a pain more than anything.  Even after spending at least half a dozen hours with the game I was still relying on the same two moves just so I could minimize the number of whiffs I was doling out.

The graphics and animation are pretty good though, and without caveat.  In fact, I'd say they're much better than any of the other LJN superhero games, which are a fairly ugly lot for the most part.  One only has to look at Comix Zone on Genesis to know that comic art can transfer over to 16 bit sprites if the artists are talented enough to make it happen, but this wasn't usually the case on the Super Nintendo.  Wolverine is one of the few exceptions to that rule.

The game also makes a pretty bad first impression, with an opening mission that is super annoying. It's chock-full of awkwardly placed enemy generators that must be destroyed in order to open up a series of doors.  To make matters worse, the enemies they spawn are constantly hitting you, interrupting your attacks and knocking you around.  It's one of the worst starting levels that I can recall across this entire project.  That's how bad it is.

I should also quickly mention that Wolverine's power of regeneration is present and accounted for.  Logan starts at 100% health, and will regen back up to it if given enough time.  While that sounds cool in theory, in reality it means lots of waiting around to heal.  Slowly.

Plus, that is kept in check by another mechanic, which acts as a soft time limit of sorts.  You see, there is a killer doll bomb thing that will eventually appear and chase you down, killing you instantly if successful.  Though I never really could figure out what the specifics around its appearances were, I'm assuming it spawns if you take too long in any given section.  It never seemed to happen consistently, so I'm not entirely sure.

Most of the boss fights, while cool in design, also kind of suck in practice.  The first one is the kind of crap where your best play is running up to his face and swinging your claws as fast as you can so that he'll die before you do.  The sort of thing where you have to wonder if it was ever actually playtested.

The second level is much less ambitious than the first, but way more enjoyable.  You'll fight a number of Ninja Warriors rejects in a bamboo forest, rapidly moving through houses and underground caves.  It's reminiscent of a second rate Shinobi, which isn't a terrible thing.  The game's second boss fight (a trio of armored ninja types) is also a much better design than the first guy, with tons of patterns to learn and strategies that can be used.  It's also insanely hard.  I nearly got them down a number of times, but continously got my ass handed to me, and eventually had to resort to watching a longplay which showed how to win with the help of a minor exploit.  Which is going to be a trend with this game: using exploits, which usually means finding a gap in the enemy patterns so that you can regen your health.  It's pretty dumb, but the game is so hard that you're usually just happy for the relief.

Later levels are mostly more of the same.  Kill dudes as you move through a city/streets/whatever, until you get to a boss who can either be cheesed with brute force, or acts as a total roadblock until you find an exploit.  And while no boss fight is as painfully difficult as the trio I described up above, even they are nothing compared to the most frustrating level overall; a maze stage near the end of the game.  It is made up of many different sections, most of them lengthy, and some of them fiendishly tricky to solve.  Your reward for spending an hour or two getting through it all is another frustrating boss fight that probably relies on exploits to safely beat.  And if you lose that fight, like I did?  You get to do it all again.  Every section.  That's the point where I threw in the towel.  It's unusual for me to give up on games when I'm so close to beating them, and I had already assumed I had this one in the bag.  But facing the task of getting through that level again for the third time broke me, and I put up my white flag.

Anyways, it's still a decent game, and I tried not to let the sour taste of defeat spoil my mood on it too much.  But overall it's still too rough, too uneven, and too sadistic to really deserve a rank much higher than this.  I think Acclaim/LJN could have had something great with a sequel that smoothed out all of these course edges.

Did I beat it?
No, the challenge starts at brutal and works up to sadistic.

437 - SeaQuest DSV

So, one of the other things I "do" around here is run the annual thread where everyone tries to beat each and every one of the Super Nintendo games.  As you may or may not know, sometimes we fare rather well, sometimes we don't.  Of course the popular titles like Mega Man X and Donkey Kong Country are always knocked out rather quickly; everyone loves them, and everyone knows how to burn through them easily.  And then there are hundreds upon hundreds of games that almost never get beaten.  In fact, many of them had never been cleared before I went to the painstaking lengths of reviewing years' worth of data so that I could log each and every game, when it was completed, and who did it.  That whole endeavour sucked major balls, but I'm glad I did it.  Partially because that also gave me a master list of games unbeaten by Nintendo Age, which let us then shift focuses and target those specific titles.  And one by one those previously uncleared titles have fallen.  As of this writing there are only thirteen left, and exactly one of those remaining titles is not a sports game.  Any guesses as to what game that sole survivor may be?

I've sunk a number of hours into SeaQuest DSV over the years.  Partially because I wanted to clear it from that damn list, and partially because I thought there was a pretty good game buried in here somewhere.  Do I still think that?  I'm not sure.  It depends on how recently the game has pissed me off.

I'm not gonna regale us with the history of the television show (mostly because I never watched it), but I'm fairly sure it was an "underwater Star Trek" that had Steven Spielberg involved in some capacity, and starred Roy Scheider and Jonathan Brandis, before he hung himself.  Possibly because his career had tanked enough that he was stuck starring in shows like SeaQuest DSV[Too soon? - editor]

Anyways, the game tasks you with navigating your overly large submarine around big underwater areas from an isometric overhead view, similar to something like the Strike series.  Here you'll sink enemy vessels, discover various caves, wreckage, and other points of interest, and spend lots of time wandering around wondering what to do.  When you do "enter" any of the locations you come across you're brought to a 2D type of level similar to a game like Ecco the Dophin, where you'll need to blow up more enemy vessels, retrieve cargo, or save people.

Now all of these things do have promise.  It's fun cruising around the ocean floor, trying to come across hidden secrets, battling other subs, and just letting the atmosphere soak in (did I ever mention that I have a massive soft spot for "ocean" games?).  And the 2D levels start off well, with good controls, variety to the action, and a number of different vehicles you can choose from.  But things start to unravel at an alarming rate.  And that's for two primary reasons...

First, the game is way too confusing.  I can never tell what I'm supposed to do, where I'm supposed to go, or what my overall "objective" is.  I guess you're just supposed to wander around trying to trigger events until something happens.  Or you perfectly decipher the game's cryptic directions and head where you're supposed to go.  I'll let you guess on which one of those things happens most of the time.

Second, the game is too unforgiving.  The whole thig is divided into several large levels where you have to complete a number of smaller missions with a limited number of available craft, a limited number of attempts allowed, where trial and error often reigns supreme.  Worst of all though, you have to start each level over from scratch upon game over.  I don't know know how many times I had to redo the first half a dozen missions, but it was way more than any sane person would have put themselves through. 

Some of the mechanics are really iffy too.  Your sub on the main map is way too large and bulky, which doesn't make the combat especially fun.  And the controls and hit detection during the missions are very spotty.  Especially with any of the more "limber" vessels such as the dolphin (yes, seriously).  One mission in particular, where you need to blast through tons of rocks, while dodging other rocks, so that you can rescue some trapped people, is especially maddening.  I'm not sure how many tries it took me to finally clear it, but trust me when I say it was way too many.

Did I have fun with SeaQuest?  Yeah, despite all of my grievances I still have to admit that I did, for some reason.  And I genuinely do want to go back and clear it at some point, mostly to see what future missions and maps hold.  But I also know it's probably not gonna happen.  I'd just get to the same roadblock missions again, suffer defeat again, get frustrated again, and quit again.

Did I beat it?
Nope, I admitted defeat at some point and have yet to try it again.

436 - Dig & Spike Volleyball

One of two volleyball games on the system.  I would never profess to be any sort of expert in the game.  Hell, I've barely played it since high school gym.  Mostly just during drunken barbeques where you're mostly laughing at the hilariously bad (non)plays that happen.

I will happily admit that I have never played another volleyball game aside from this and Hyper V-Ball.  Hell, I'm not sure if I can even name another volleyball game other than Super Spike on NES.  And I'm not even 100% sure that was the title!  So in other words, I have zero baseline for how these games play, and can only compare them against one another, and how much fun I had with them in relation to the rest of the Super Nintendo library.

Upon starting you have the choice of either volleyball or "beach volleyball."  Aside from the obvious difference of one being played on a gym floor and the other in a sand pit (or the beach), beach volleyball is 2v2 while the regular game is 6v6.  Presumably the beach sport should also slower and the players wouldn't be leaping as high, but I didn't notice much if any difference.  And any other differences would be beyond me.  For the purposes of this review I tried out both game types, but my most recent session (thirty minutes ago) was beach volleyball, so that's what's freshest in my mind.

Before starting a match you will pick a team.  Some appear to be really good at everything, some things, or nothing.  So I guess you go with one of the shitty teams if you feel like challenging yourself.  All teams are measured in power, jump, and speed.  After that you select how many matches you want to play, the point system (not that I have any idea what those are), and the starting scores (a handicap of sorts I'm guessing).

Gameplay is pretty basic, much like the real sport (I'm sure any volleyball enthusiasts will gladly tell me off on this one).  One team serves, the other team bumps, sets, and spikes, the first team does the same, until someone hits it out, hits the net, or nails their opponent's floor.  And this all done mostly automatically.  All you really need to do is positition players (an 'X' will indicate where the other team's serve is gonna land), press a button to bump, automatically set, and direct your spike with the D-Pad.  When the other team is spikes you press B to jump and try to block it.  Easy peasy.

And it all works well enough.  Controls are smooth, the hit detection is not too demanding, and you'll off and running after 5-10 minutes getting used to the game.  But I found it a bit shallow.  Once you get into a pattern of trying to spike around your opponents and block their shots in turn, you're just doing the same things over and over again.  As far as I can tell it doesn't have the sort of nuances you'd see in the real game, like faking a spike and instead blooping it over your opponent's outstretched arms.  I don't know if that's a thing in professional volleyball, but it certainly is in casual backyard matches and adult rec leagues.

In the end I'd say I had a decent time with the game, but it's not exactly something I was dying to get back to.  Even though I had expected to enjoy it more than I did Hyper V-Ball, I ended up playing that other game quite a bit more.  Considering this is the much better-looking and sounding game, that should tell you just how much I preferred the gameplay in McO'River's title.

Did I beat it?
No, I sucks.

435 - Battle Grand Prix

Yep, it's another one of those overhead racers.  Did that genre ever have a name?  I just call them Micro Machines clones, but for all I know that wasn't even the first series to do this style.  Toy car racers?  Because that makes me think of a game like RC Pro AM.  Maybe no one ever bothered to come up with something.

Battle Grand Prix is actually fairly similar to Cyber Spin, a title I just covered in the last volume.  Both games have very similar handling and graphical styles, which is to say, I think they look and feel pretty good.  Steering is on point, there's lots of nice little details in the sprites, and both games have an absolutely wonderful sense of speed.  Which I guess could be considered both a good and a bad thing.  Good because no one wants to play a prodding racer.  Bad because the view is so claustrophobic that whenever you crank up to maximum speed it is only a matter of time before you are late reacting to a turn and crash spectacularly.  Which in this game is practically a death sentence since placing anywhere near the top is very, very hard.  Yes I know I am terrible at racing games, and yes I keep saying that about all of them, but I swear the bottom half of the SNES racing library is full of some tough as nails mothers.

Now I will say that the game does shine a bit in the two player mode.  Normally I don't even look at these games from that perspective, because no one in their right mind would play Redline F1 Racer with me, but here I knew I had to test it out.  I could tell that the ingredients at work here (insane speeds, unforgiving tracks, cramped view) would be hilarious in two player.  So I busted this out at one of my game nights.  And it was a bit of a success.  Not a big success, but a success.  In the same way Battletoads is a success, everyone gets a great laugh out of the heaping amounts of fail on display.

So overall, it's the same story as Newman/Haas Racing - a pretty good game that is partially ruined by the difficulty.  BGP is a racing game I wanted to love.  Hell, it's a game I anticipated I would love.  But it's just too hard.  You'll have to completely and absolutely memorize every single part of the track if you want to have a prayer at winning.

Did I beat it?
No.  Occasionally I get first place because the AI is dumb and has all of my opponents pit on the penultimate lap or something, but those victories are rare.

434 - Tuff E Nuff

Hey Punk! Are you Tuff E Nuff? Master the Moves to Master Me! aka Tuff E Nuff aka the dumbest video game title in all of gaming, is what happens when you ask yourself "Hey, what if Street Fighter II had been made in a parallel universe by Jaleco instead of Capcom?  One where the life bars are on the side of the screen, everything moves and animates slightly differently, there's password continues, the storyline is even dumber than SFII's was, and the main hero gets his fashion advice from Vanilla Ice."

Gameplay is pretty standard stuff; kick, punch, throw fireball, yadda yadda yadda.  The only thing I noticed that was remotely out of the ordinary was a mid-air throw move that I pulled off a few times by accident.  It's also possible I hallucinated that happening.  Either way, it was pretty cool.

The controls could be a little tighter, as swallowed up inputs weren't common, but did rear up from time to time.  There's also a strange little pause that happens after someone connects a hit.  I cannot tell if that's by design, or if the game is just struggling to catch up with the action.  It's not a huge deal as it doesn't seem like you're intended to be pulling off huge combos, but it did throw me off a bit during my first couple fights or so.

I also have to mention that the game can be pretty damn hard in single player.  I know I always complain about that in fighters (in addition to racing games), mostly because I am absolutely horrid at this genre, but this is yet another instance of a game where I seem to find myself staring at the final boss fight at 2:00 AM, just begging him to lay down and die already so that I can go to bed.  It's not SNK game bad, or Mortal Kombat bad, but it's still a pretty tall order to clear this game.

I do have to admit that I dig the soundtrack.  It sounds like a poor man's mix of Mega Man X and Street Fighter II... but in a good way.  You know what I mean?  It's also probably another instance where I spent more time listening to the OST on Youtube while I was at work than I did playing the actual game.

All in all I'll call it a decent fighter, that isn't bad for an early entry in the genre's history.  It doesn't have the graphics and animation of an SNK game, the nuance of Weaponlord, or the insanity of Ultimate Fighter, but it's an interesting little curiosity in its own right.

I also gotta quickly mention how the Super Famicom title and boxart are like a thousand times cooler than what we got in the West.  I mean, who doesn't love how the hero's pecs are spilling out of his purple bra?

...oh, and lastly, I gotta give a shout out to Beans.  The only fighting game character I've ever seen who not only resembles Beef from The Phantom of the Paradise, but whose designated weapon is his "American Sack."  Be very afraid.

Did I beat it?
Yes, on easy.  Possibly again on medium.  I dunno, it was quite awhile ago.

433 - Alien vs. Predator

So strictly going off my memory here (which is probably not the greatest idea since we're talking about a property that is over 25 years old), I'm going to say the origins of Alien vs Predator trace back to a crossover comic book series from Dark Horse Comics.  This was during an era where many classic science fiction properties were being dug up for brand new book and comic series.  We're talking Star Wars, Star Trek, and of course, Alien and Predator.  And as a young child who was both enthralled and alarmed by extreme graphic violence in media, they drew me in like a moth to flames.  I mostly remember the Alien adaptations.  Whenever my family went to the mall I would quickly hunt down the comics at the B. Daltons or Waldenbooks, and I even conned my grandparents into buying me several of the books.  Now I was a pretty adventurous kid back then, reading Stephen King while other kids were reading R.L. Stine (until the school caught wise and put a stop to that), but these Aliens books were almost too much for me.  People being graphically ripped to pieces by nightmares-made-flesh xenomorphs?  I still ate it up, but some part of me was scared shitless by the things.

Anyways at some point I noticed that the various properties had started to cross over.  There was Superman vs Alien, Batman vs Predator, Archie vs Ripley (probably), and of course, Alien vs Predator.  I still remember one of the original covers, clear as day...

Around the same time I also became aware of the existence of this video game.  Specifically, I noticed that my local Hastings had it as a rental, with the box art immediately grabbing my attention.  Now, by the time this happened I had already moved onto playing N64 (and PC games of the era) so there was no chance I was gonna waste my time on an "old" SNES game.  Yeah, I still collected them from time to time when the opportunity arose, but I had more or less stopped bothering to actually play them.  But I never forgot about the game.  I could tell from the screenshots on the back that it was some sort of action/brawler sort of thing, which I thought looked pretty cool.  So I filed it away in the memory banks and moved on.

Flash forward to the early 2010s or so, and SNES was back on the menu in a big way.  I had by that point come to the conclusion that I was gonna get a full set, beat all of the games, and write about them.  Alien vs Predator was one of the first ones I popped in for this purpose.  And man was I underwhelmed.  The action was repetitive, the difficulty curve wildly out of balance, and the Predator moved and attacked like a gimpy old bastard, not the universe's greatest hunter.  I was let down, but not surprised.  The game was practically unknown, with no media coverage that I could remember, and it was released by Activision of all studios.  The odds were always long that this was gonna be some sort of hidden gem.

Eventually I sat with it long enough to figure out what did and didn't work, and plowed through the game.  And I've plowed through it a number of times since.  And my final verdict is... that it's alright.  It has decent graphics, but bad animation.  Lots of moves, cool bosses and various xenomorph designs, but it's relatively short even for a brawler.  Whacking xenomorphs with laser discs and spears is fun, but also very repetitive.  Though I guess that kind of comes with the territory as far as brawlers go.  It's also woefully unbalanced, with lots of cheap enemy attacks, and lots of exploits to be found (hint: use the laser, use the laser, use the laser), and on and on.  In other words, very flawed.  But I have to admit that I still have a little fun every time I play through it.  And who doesn't appreciate aliens and predators, regardless of their flaws?

Did I beat it?
Yes, many times.

432 - Lethal Enforcers

[full disclosure - I did not revisit this with the Konami light gun.  I used the SNES controller, and emulated with an optical mouse]

I remember the first time I laid eyes on Lethal Enforcers.  It was in an Aladdin's Castle arcade back in my hometown, where the cab was nestled up right near the front, just to the side of the prize booth.  The impression made on me was immediate - the game seemed so action-packed, so thrilling, so... visceral.  I had to play it.

Of course I didn't actually play it, mostly because I had no money and my parents weren't about to waste theirs on watching me blow people away.  But I watched a few other people play it.  And I was enthralled.  Criminals being gunned down as they leap out from behind cover.  Innocent civilians begging for help.  Bosses that soaked up damage while launching rockets at you?  I had never seen anything like that.

Flash forward to a few years later when the SNES version came out, and I did finally get to play it... briefly.  A buddy of mine had rented it, and every single one of our circle of friends went over to his house to bathe in its gloriousness.  And so I joined them and patiently waited my turn to plug some terrorist bastards.  And plug them I did.  From about two inches away.  I still remember his older brother giving me shit for doing it.  I didn't care, it was an effective strategy.

Coming back to the game 25 years later, I can say the game is still pretty fun.  Yeah, like most games of this style it looks and sounds laughably bad nowadays, but in a way the core gameplay is almost... timeless?  What I guess I mean by that is, regardless of how much games advance or evolve through the years, or how many different trends come and go, there is always gonna be a simple pleasure to quick-shooting pop-up targets with a fake gun.

And make no mistake, the graphics and sounds in this game are bad.  Similar to Revolution X, everything is so blurry and compressed that it's usually hard to even tell what you're looking at.  Often the only way to tell if someone is good or bad is by the sound they make when they jump out.  And it doesn't help that occasionaly enemies will instantly shoot you with almost no warning, which makes you want to shoot first and ask questions later.  Except the sprites are so muddy and compressed that it's often hard to tell friend from foe.  So prepare to shoot a fair number of civilians by accident, heavy penalty in tow, until you train yourself to react to sound and not sight.

I also have to give a special shout-out to the Area Four boss.  It's a guy manning a turret in a helicopter, and is by far the game's biggest "F U" moment.  I don't know what the hell they were thinking with this part, but it pretty much ruined every run I've ever tried to make in this game.  Remember that difficulty chart I made for Bronkie the Bronchiasaurus?...

But yeah, like I said it's still a fun game, all these years later.  Of course it can't hope to compete with the fancy Time Crisis games and Silent Scopes and Point Blanks and all that, but it will always be fun.

Did I beat it?
Yes, but just on Easy.  I'd be real impressed if someone could beat this on Normal with the SNES controller.

431 - Pac-Attack

The first of the system's three (four?) "Pac" games, Pac-Attack is a puzzle game that takes the age old Tetris formula and adds a twist by injecting elements of classic Pac-Man gameplay into it.  By that I mean you now drop blocks and ghosts.  And Pac-Mans... Pac-Men?  Pac-Manses?  Who cares, let's just see if I can use the word "Pac" two hundred more times over the course of this review.

I think I've stated this sometime before, but, I'm a pretty big puzzle game fan.  Which isn't to say that I love them, but I do like most of them.  Even the crappier ones.  And PA leans just onto the correct side of being a (slightly) enjoyable puzzler.

The best way I can explain the gameplay is that it is indeed Tetris with a twist, but that it's also somehow simpler and yet more complicated at the same time.  Humor me and pretend that makes any sense to you whatsoever.  To clarify, you are working a vertical shaft [... - editor], dropping blocks and trying to clear lines just like you would in the landmark Russian game.  The difference here is that you're only working with six columns instead of ten, and you will only ever receive "L" shaped blocks that are made up of three objects.  Herein lies the rub though, because those "objects" will consist of regular blocks, ghosts, and the Pac-Mans.  The ghosts effectively act as an impediment, or barrier, blocking your progress in clearing lines.  And I'm sure you can guess what the purpose of the Pac-Mans is.  It's a simple premise, and it should work.

The problem is it's all too aggravating.  It's not enough to just rotate the blocks, because now you also need to flip them so that Pac-Man will head in the right direction once he's in play.  You see, he takes off in a straight line forward once he lands and you will need to do your best to corral him in the direction the ghosts are.  It adds an extra sense of urgency and demands for strategic play, which some enthusiasts may enjoy.  But I just find it stressful.  It's never apparent what's gonna happen just by glancing at the board, and you don't have enough time to study where his path is gonna go.  So the end result is I never feel like I'm in complete control of what's happening onscreen, and surviving a level is just that...  surviving.

There's also an included puzzle mode that is decently fun.  It's also nice enough to provide passwords to save your progress, which is always great.  But it's also super annoying that a screw up basically costs you a clear and yet the game keeps going like it expects you to pick up the pieces with your remaining moves.  It needs a "restart puzzle" option pretty badly.

So overall it's probably a mixed bag, that I still enjoyed.  In fact puzzle enthusiasts will probably find plenty to sink their teeth into here.  I just get extreme anxiety playing it.  That seems a bit melodramatic, but I never feel comfortable with it, and I never want to play it more than once at a time.

Did I beat it?
I "looped" the main mode by getting the bar filled which summoned a fairy.  So... sortof?

430 - Tecmo Secret of the Stars

Here it is, one of the most infamous JRPGS on the system.  Maybe one of the most infamous JRPGs in gaming history.  Notable for its hilariously awful translation, NES-quality graphics, insanely obtuse fetch quests, and hideous box art, Tecmo Secret of the Stars has a reputation for being one of the worst roleplaying games you could ever play.  And while I agree that this game is not especially great - and easily one of the weakest JRPGs I have ever played through - it is not the out-and-out trainwreck that some make it out to be.

I mean, that should already be obvious, right?  I've already covered a number of other role playing games in my writing.  Paladin's Quest's translation was worse, or at least more annoying, with everything being truncated into indecipherable garbage.  Super Ninja Boy was uglier; at least this game has decent spritework on some of the enemy designs.  King Arthur was much more maddeningly annoying to play.  And the fetch quests in Lord of the Rings were at least eleventy trillion times worse than what's present here.  So I shouldn't have to explain too much as to why I favor TSotS over the lot of them.

Let's start though by looking at the "Three tenets of JRPGs" that I pulled out of my ass in the last installment:

A Coherent Storyline and Characters with Depth
I can't do a great job of explaining the storyline because not only is it translated pretty badly horribly, but most of the details have slowly slipped my mind in the sixteen months that have passed since I played through it.  Something about you being the son of some magical warrior guy, who must travel around the world and recruit a number of other divine warriors so that you can work together to bring down some big bad forever.  Hardly riveting or groundbreaking stuff.

Now I will say there is at least an attempt at developing the characters here.  I mean, no one's ever gonna mistake this game for Final Fantasy III/VI in that regard, but at least they tried.  For instance, everyone you recruit (and there are a lot of them) either has a fun little quest you undertake in order to find them, or you free them, or persuade them to join you, or even defeat them in combat.  Every one of your core party members can also be upgraded, or promoted in a sense, by undertaking a trial of sorts.  That's the sort of high-concept stuff that I dig, and it was pulled off reasonably well here. 

A Fun Battle System That Stays Engaging
Overall, meh.  It's pretty typical old school Dragon Quest type of stuff: attack, defend, use item, use spell, flee, etc.  Which isn't to say that I don't like those types of battle systems, or that they can't get the job done.  The DQ series and Earthbound are proof enough of that.  But they weren't exactly trying to push any boundaries here.

Challenging Yet Fair Gameplay
*blows raspberry* Yeah they fucked this one up in many ways.  Or at least the "fair" part.  Remember how I mentioned the cryptic fetch quests?  Well, you're gonna need an FAQ on hand for this bad boy, even if you aren't the sort of person to normally lean on that sort of a crutch.  And I don't know how many times I got lost trying to figure out where to go, or what to do, or in what direction I was supposed to be heading in one of the many dungeons.

In addition, one of the dealbreakers for many people is the "two party" system in this game.  By that I mean you are supposed to manage two different rosters of characters throughout your quest.  Basically, think of the segments in Final Fantasy III/VI where you switch between different groups in a dungeon so that they can hit triggers and open doorways for one another.  Except this goes on for the entire game.  Annoying, right?  Having to grind levels, buy gear, and keep track of double the number of assholes?

Well it would be extremely annoying, except for one tiny little detail.  You see, you don't ever have to fight anything with that second group because this game lets you escape from every random encounter if you feel like it.  Every time.  Hell, if there weren't any bosses I'm fairly sure you could get through this entire game at level 1.  So while the two party idea is a pretty stupid and ill-advised one, it ends up being more of a minor nuisance rather than an overt disaster.

In the end I have to say that Secret of the Stars is a bit of a blasé affair.  Not bad enough to earn it's reputation, but not nearly good enough to recommend over most of the other role playing games on the Super Nintendo.  And it is a far cry from any of the elite titles on the system.  Then again, so are most games.

Did I beat it?
I did.  Of course I had a walkthrough on hand at all times, because I do that with all of the "lesser" RPGs, but I still plowed through to the end.  Something most people would not be willing to do.

429 - Spider-Man/X-Men: Arcade's Revenge

The second Spider-Man game I've covered, Spider-Man/X-Men Arcade's Revenge was actually the first one to be released on the system.  I'd also say this is the Spidey title - Maximum Carnage aside - that people are most familiar with.  It is also one of those games where I swear its only fans are the people who grew up with it...

As the title would imply, the game lets you play as both Spidey and several of the X-Men.  Specifically, Wolverine, Cyclops, Dolphin Girl Storm, and Gambit.  Each hero stars in an assortment of their own levels, with the freedom to pick which hero you want to progress with.  Well, "freedom" after you're forced to start off with the first Spider-Man level on each fresh attempt.  That gets old real fast too, let me tell you.

Spider-Man Level 1 - A hunt for bombs.  Whoever thought this was a good idea for a level should be shot.  Lots of backtracking, and it gets real repetitive after you've gone through it for the twentieth time.  Spider-Man controls decently, but I really wish you could avoid clinging to walls that you touch.  And why can't you launch your "swinging" web when jumping?

Spider-Man Level 2 - Navigate through a maze of twised, broken buildings, with laser-firing robots and sharp killer rebar at every turn.  This is one is a serious ramp up in difficulty from the first level, with a severe lack of health pickups, and tricky platforming at every turn.  You can collect gold and silver spiders throughout the level, but I have no idea what they do.  At several points throughout the level there are minibosses of some sort, but the graphics in this game are so simplistically drawn that I have no idea who or what they were supposed to be.  The final boss is a gargoyle of sorts.

Wolverine Level 1 - Slice through a legion of life-sized killer toys, while losing sight of your character behind the numerous objects in the foreground in this annoying stage.  Wolverine has three abilities: attack forwards, attack upwards, and extract/retract your claws.  Why would you attack without your claws?  I have no idea.  You'll also need to progress through walls by breaking them when you see a weak point.  But this only works some of the time.  Why?  I have no idea. [note - I guess you have to uppercut them.  Except for the times where you can punch them.  WTF?]

Gambit Level 1 - A race against a large rolling ball that is trying to crush you.  Gambit has a ranged card attack (but limited ammo), with which he can clear out the various animated chess pieces that are out for his blood.  This is the level with the infamous "infinite lives" trick, but I can never pull it off.  Mostly because trying to race to the trick's spot fast enough to actually have time to rack up some lives means I die on the way there through sloppy play.

Cyclops Level 1 - Explore a crystalline cave, riding mine carts and avoiding electrified tracks.  As you'd expect Cyclops attacks with his trademarked laser vision thingy, but also has a wimpy punch and kick for some reason.  I guess you can rely on them if you want to make an already difficult game impossible.  This one is reasonable with its challenge, but still pretty reliant on trial and error, learning where to go and what to do.

Storm Level 1 - You swim through water, shooting lightning from your face, killing vicious fish and squid, and blowing up containers full of water so that you have more water to swim in, all while trying not to drown.  I swear I'm not making this up.  Interestingly enough, this level has no health, just an oxygen supply.  It also becomes something of a double-edged sword.  On one hand you can always heal, so long as you backtrack towards some O2 bubbles.  On the other hand, it leaves little margin for error on sections in-between the bubbles, and it means more backtracking.  Because that is what this game needed, more backtracking.  Overall it's not a bad idea, but not the greatest execution.

Spider-Man Level 3 - Another platforming maze, this time with the addition of a "wind" mechanic (think Ninja Gaiden II).  Bosses are Carnage and Rhino.

Those are just the levels I was able to see, so god knows how many more of them there are.  And that's because this game is damn hard.  Many of the levels are pretty unforgiving, with instant death pits, or balls that crush you, or water that drowns you, or bosses that aggressively sap your health.  There's also no in-level checkpoints, which is just brutal.  You also have a limited number of lives that are shared across all heroes.  But extra ones are fairly sparse, and they don't reappear on later attempts.  And once all of those lives are gone you go right back to the main menu.  No passwords, no saves, nothing.  So you have to get used to playing the same levels over and over again.

The graphics are also very ugly and simplistically drawn.  Like many early SNES games I'd even say it barely looks better than an NES game.  The animations are also pretty horrible for the most part, making the whole thing a visual letdown.  The soundtrack on the other hand is what I can only describe as "hilariously silly."  I dig it, and can honestly say I've listened to it a couple of times while I was at work.

Overall, this reminds me of a decent NES game, that seriously needed unlimited continues in order to blunt its challenge.  The levels can be overcome with persistence, but having to do it all in one run is just too much.  Tack on having to replay that damned bomb level over and over again, and I had had enough after a couple dozen attempts.  I know people like this game, but I can only assume most of them grew up with the game.  It's a very rough product that needed some more time in testing, and this ranking is a bit generous if anything.

Did I beat it?
No.  I maybe could have if the game had checkpoints, but after the millionth run through the first level I was starting to go insane.

428 - The Jungle Book

Oh, Jesus.  These Disney games are gonna be the death of me.  Why is it that every single one is either insanely easy, or insanely hard?  Why was there such a wild pendulum swing with these things?  Were the various developers constantly overcorrecting from the last title?  Were these titles rushed onto market without proper tuning?  Was this all some sort of Mengelian experiment to test the mettle of children?  They all seem like reasonable hypotheses to me!

The gameplay is kind of like a mix of The Lion King and Pitfall: The Mayan Adventure.  As in, lots of jungle platforming and animal murdering, with liberal vine swinging.  And that is what you do across the first two levels; swing through the jungle, occasionaly bopping things to death, and grabbing power-ups that do God knows what.  Pretty standard fare.

But then at the level three mark things escalate difficulty-wise.  Dramatically.  This is where you meet the first boss, Kaa, and he is a doozy.  I just... I don't even have words for this fight.  It's a relatively simple thing in nature; Kaa pops out of various corners of the screen and shoots homing hypnotizing rays at you while you pepper him with ranged attacks.  But those homing attacks just keep coming back again and again and again... it's insane.  It may be the hardest boss fight I've ever experienced in a kids' game.  Hell, it's one of the hardest boss fights in a Super Nintendo game period.  And it happens ten minutes in.  Like, what the hell were Virgin thinking?  Did no warning flags come up during development?  Did anyone even test this thing?

I eventually had to resort to playing on the "Practice" difficulty in order to progress and beat that SOB.  Practice mode, in a kid's game... that is either a pathetic indictment of this game, or myself.  Probably both.  Though the joke was on me because you are kicked back to the main menu after beating him this way.

So eventually I pushed through and defeated him legimitately and continued on.  And got a game over on level four.  And then I tried again, and made it to level five, before losing all my lives.  So I started again.  And made it to level four again.  And that's when I threw the towel in.  Much like Toy Story, there reached a point where I couldn't continue on.  I'm sick of the beginning levels, and I don't want to play it anymore.  I know I could beat it given enough time, but I feel like it was given more than enough of it already.

Now to be fair the difficulty is partially offset by the game being fairly generous with lives.  And you can also earn continues by collecting red gems, though you begin with zero continues, which seems a bit harsh.  There's also green gems scattered about, but I don't know what they do.

So overall it's a decent Disney game, with good graphics, good animation, good controls, and satisfying gameplay.  It's just too hard for its own good.  With an extra couple continues right off the bat, or hell, unlimited continues, TJB would have cracked the top 400.  But that one shortcoming is enough to hold it back.

Did I beat it?
No, I struggle mightily with the tougher "half" of the Disney library.  So, spoiler-alert, I probably won't be beating The Lion King before I cover that one either.

427 - Super Batter Up

Twenty five random thoughts while playing Super Batter Up:

1.  Good god is this the ugliest cart in my collection.  It's so yellow it's not even yellow.  It's like spicy brown mustard colored.
2.  Horrific graphics and animation.  Hell, does this game even have animation?  It barely looks better than the old RBI Baseball games.
3.  The music (what little there is) and sound are pretty good.  It's very "early SNES" sounding, but in a good way, if that makes sense?
4.  The options are pretty limited; basically just single game or a season. But that's not unusual for the sport on this system.
5.  The first thing I noticed upon starting the game is how out of whack the size of the field is.  It looks like you're playing at a high school softball field.
6.  This is probably the easiest baseball game on the system as far as generating offense goes, which is a nice change of pace.  Making contact is never a problem, and once you get used to the mechanics and settle into a rhythm you can string together hits.
7.  ...which goes for your opponents as well.  Anticipate some super high-scoring games.
8.  Like usual, the AI is also way too stupid to defend against any baserunning shenanigans, which I'm always happy to abuse.
9.  ...and of course, like usual, the baserunning controls are super confusing.  I just mash away until good things happen.
10.  Did I mention that I like the music?  It's worth repeating.  Every little baseball melody is present and accounted for.
11.  The pitching kind of sucks.  You really only control the movement of the ball in-flight since you can't select pitches, or vary the speed, which makes things very limiting.
12.  This means that limiting how much damage your computer opponents do is very tricky, if not impossible.
13.  At several points I thought I had figured out gaps in the AI for easy strikeouts.  But either the tricks don't last for long, or you have to be incredibly precise to consistently pull them off.
14.  Baserunners also love to run on fly balls.  I really hate that SNES baseball games couldn't figure out how to make the AI not do that.
15.  Fielding is also pretty tricky since it is often hard to tell where fly balls are gonna land until you pick out their shadows, and your fielders move so slow that getting there without a jump on the ball is probably not gonna happen.  Worse, you cannot move when holding a ball, which means no running to the nearest base.  It's a very bizarre quirk, which will cost you a number of errors.
16.  Actually I take that back.  You can tell your guy to head to the designated base with the press of a button.  It's still awkward, and would be much easier if you could just run him there yourself.
17.  When left to its own devices the fielding can be extremely hit or miss.  My advice is to assume you're gonna need to make the play on your own.
18.  Overall the game is very fast paced, which I always welcome.  Especially with baseball where optimally you could get an entire game played in less than half an hour.
19.  The game nails the atmosphere of the game, with the sounds and music and little bits of pageantry thrown in here and there (such as the pregame ritual).
20.  I love how the ball kicks up dirt (or maybe it's smoke) when it hits the ground in the outfield.  They must be playing every game in the Coliseum.
21.  Namco really didn't have much of a presence on the Super Nintendo, did they?  This, Suzuka 8 Hours, the Pac-Man games... umm, I'm drawing a blank on anything else here.
22.  Why did I pick a baseball game to do the "25 thoughts" thing?  How many possible gameplay points are there to talk about in these games?
23.  I cannot tell what that insignia on the cover art is, but this game only has the player licenses, no franchises.
24.  Overall it's a decent effort, but a far cry from the better baseball games on the system...
25.  ...a number of which will be covered shortly here in Volume VIII of this thing.

Did I beat it?
No.  I didn't even bother trying to do anything other than exhibition games, which I never won anyways.

426 - Oscar

Oscar, another Titus title, and the millionth platformer I've covered, kind of comes across as a poor man's Bubsy.  Yes, you read that right, and yes, I have this rated higher than Bubsy.  Explanation?  I think that even though the game has a lack of fresh ideas or inspiration, and some sorely misplaced character and sound design, the game is kinda fun to play, despite itself.  Does that make sense?  Well it makes sense to me, for whatever that's worth.

The central gimmick here is that our pal Oscar needs to collect "Oscars" (as in the motion picture awards) inside various movie scenes, which will then unlock each level's exit.  No, this game is not endorsed or affiliated with the Academy of Motion Pictures in any way, but that didn't stop Titus from trying to tie it in in the loosest possible sense.

The controls are basic, but not bad for the most part.  Enemy movement is a little too quick for me though, and the relatively demanding hitboxes mean that combat does have a slight learning curve.  I should also mention that your main method of attack is jumping on their heads.  Unless you find a yo-yo, which basically turns any level into easy mode.

You can also get springs that let you jump higher, and wings that let you fly for a limited time.  That's about the extent of the powerups in this game.

The challenge is also low, for once, which is a nice change of pace for me.  I'm so sick of platformers that are obnoxiously hard.  Extra lives are plentiful, there are no time limits.  Enemies don't respawn (unless you die).  There's no one hit deaths.  Every little thing that is usually an annoyance in these kinds of games is missing here.

Overall, I had a better time with it than I thought I would.  And revisiting it didn't do much to change that opinion.

Did I beat it?
Yes, I burned through it the night I got it, and then I burned through this review.


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

Edited: 05/15/2019 at 04:59 PM by Brock Landers

May 12 at 11:34:00 PM
Brock Landers (56)
< Wiz's Mom >
Posts: 11482 - Joined: 05/04/2014
Federated States of Micronesia
425 - Frogger

Umm... yeah.  It's Frogger?  Like, Majesco literally took the old ass arcade game and threw it, no-frills, onto the Super Nintendo.  In 1998.  Nearly twenty years after its initial release.  How lazy is that?

I briefly considered lumping this together with Mr. Do!, Space Invaders, and Ms. Pac-Man (and possibly the Williams and Midway collections), and just throwing them all together at the beginning of one of these installments.  Much like I did with the fishing games, the games based on board games, and the games based on game shows.  After all, how do I measure a lazy release of an ancient game (albeit a classic game) against the likes of Chrono Trigger or Earthbound?  It's impossible in some sense.  And it shouldn't be held against this game, because it's not Frogger's fault it got shoved onto a 16-bit console without so much as extra levels thrown onto it.

But I didn't do that.  Even if I wanted to hold them to a different standard, it wouldn't have worked to group those games together because I think they have all aged to various degrees.  So while Space Invaders basically plays like shit nowadays, and Ms. Pac-Man is nearly as fun as it ever was, Frogger is... good.  Not great.  I don't think it was ever great, or as revolutionary as many of its peers.  But it's good. 

Anyways enough nonsensical rambling, let's talk about the gameplay.  And for the three people out there that may not know, Frogger is a game about guiding your frog(s) to a lily pad cave while avoiding being creamed by traffic, drowning in the river, or being eaten by alligators.  Or was it snakes?  I forget.  I haven't played this in at least three years, so my memory has faded a bit and I am just now getting around to revisiting it.  As in, right now, right after I finish writing this sentence...

*one hour later*

Okay, yeah, it was snakes and gators.  So the entire gist of the game is:

1 - Move your frog from the bottom of the screen to the top, moving on a square grid.
2 - The first five rows have heavy traffic trying to squish you.
3 - The last five rows have lines of turtles (that submerge) and logs (which may have enemies or female frogs on them).
4 - You must "fill up" five different caves at the top of the level, some of which may have dragonflies for extra points.
5 - There is a timer counting down, but it will fill back up with each successful crossing.
6 - Occasional snakes appear on the logs or shore and gators appear in the caves or river.

And that's it.  That's the entire game.  Get your frogs into the caves across eight increasingly difficult levels, and then do it all again.  That's really it and there isn't much else to say.

...I guess other than that I think the game plays fine even to this day.  Controls are solid, the challenge level starts moderate and gets trickier with a satisfying climb.  And the game's sound and graphics have certain charms to them.  I couldn't possibly rate the game any higher than I did for being such a shamelessly low effort cash grab, but I still have fun every time I play it.  I basically said all of that already didn't I?

Did I beat it?
I did actually.  It was awhile ago, and took me a number of tries, but I did it.

424 - Whizz

Titus game number four, and a bit of a strange one at that.  I mean, most Titus games are strange in some way (usually their core concept).  But Whizz is extra strange.  You see, you play as a rabbit.  Presumably a magician's rabbit, based on his dress.  Or maybe he's a rabbit magician?  And this rabbit is, uh... having a balloon race with some rat.  And then birds attack him and send him plummeting to the ground for some reason.  So the starting level is basically a race against the clock (and the rat) to find his balloon again.  And then you start the next level the same way... Maybe the birds keep shooting him down?  I dunno, the storyline basically makes no sense, but forget it.  The only thing that matters is how the game plays.  And the answer to that is "okayish."

The gameplay is a bit hard to describe though.  Mostly because I'm having a hard time thinking of any other title that plays the same way, and I don't mean on just the Super Nintendo, but across all gaming in general.  Maybe Sonic 3D blast?  Granted I've never played that game, so that's just some assumption I'm pulling out of my ass.  But it seems like it would be similar; isometric platformers where you try to go as fast as you possibly can while dodging spikes and enemies.  Anyways, the idea in Whizz is that each level is a race to your balloon, navigating a series of mazelike platforms, collecting blocks (which act as keys) and hourglasses (which act as time extensions), spin attacking various animals and sentient snowballs, managing an always depleting lifebar, while desperately trying to find the exit (the balloon) before you die.  It's not a bad concept, and it's pulled off reasonably well here.  The problem is that it's very, very limited in scope, which means things never really get any more elaborate than what you see in the first level.

In fact I would say most of the challenge in Whizz lies in knowing where to go.  You see the path often branches, which often lead to the block "keys" and time extensions that I mentioned up above.  In addition to that, however, are paths that lead to various items that give point bonuses (if you care about such things), and a series of small rockets that you can find and launch into the atmosphere, though I have absolutely no idea what doing that actually does.  There are also random keys that you occasionally run across, and I don't mean the "block" keys that I mentioned above, but actual "key" keys.  These will unlock everything from doors to shortcuts to treasures chests, but are rarely essential.  However, you'll quickly discover that having success in this game generally means finding the main path and sticking to it.  Diversions be damned.

And that's really all there is to the game; know where the exit is, and run towards it.  Once I knew what to do I raced through the entire thing in under 30 minutes.  Occasionally it tries to mix things up by adding segments where you travel via boat or sled, or play large games of pool, checkers, and chess, but these interjections are so brief (and often fully automated) that they barely even make an impact.  Good ideas, lacking executions.

Honestly, I can't even think of much else to say.  You run, you jump, you die, you make a mental note of where the keys are, and you do it again until you succeed.  It's a decent enough time for what it is, enjoyable in short bursts, and a pretty harmless playthrough overall.  I know I'm a Titus sucker, and that I always seem higher on these games than others, but I think most people can find something here, however minor.

Did I beat it?
Yep, a few notes jotted down were all I needed to jet through the dozen plus levels relatively pain free.

423 - Chuck Rock

One of the five thousand caveman games of the day, Chuck Rock is a serviceable platformer that's low on inspiration and excitement, hardly takes any chances, and has one of the ugliest main character sprites I have ever seen in my life.  But it gets all of the mechanics right for the most part.  And provides the sort of challenging gameplay that would have fit right in with the NES library, for better or for worse.

The central gimmick of the game, as its title would allude, is "chucking" rocks.  Specifically, hoisting large and medium boulders, so that you can squash enemies, use them as stepping stones to higher ground, or occasionally to act as a counterweight on dinosaurs that will launch you up and over stuff, which you can see up above in the middle screenshot.  That's also about as complex as the "puzzles" (if you want to call them that) get in this game.

Beyond that the rest of the gameplay is very simple.  Mostly just jumping and attacking things.  Though the attack is fairly humorous because all Chuck does is slightly extend his (prominent) belly in order to knock enemies back.  And while it's short range certainly brings memories of Ys or Lagoon to mind, it's not actually that bad.  Partially because it works better than you'd think it would, but mostly because the enemies are fairly impotent in this game.

The game also offers up a number of boss fights, most of which are ridiculously easy.  There is boss later on that is a bit trickier to figure out, thanks to a lack of feedback on him taking damage, but it's still not something that can't be overcome in a few attempts.  I also wouldn't say any of these fights are especially memorable, but I have to applaud the ridiculous looking final boss (a T-Rex in boxing shorts and boxing gloves).  I never actually made it to that fight, but I did watch it on YouTube, and it looked just as simplistic and easy as most of the other ones.  But I still got a laugh out of it.

If there is one major drawback to the game (other than its lack of out and out frills or thrills) is that there are no continues or passwords.  In fact I'm not even sure if you can earn extra lives, because I never saw one.  So while the game is pretty easy overall, and I bet any decently-skilled gamer could clear it in a few attempts, it can be a challenge to finish it on just four lives.  I haven't gotten around to it yet (I got close to beating it on my third go at it), but it might still happen, depending on how my schedule for playing other games works out.

Overall it's not a very ambitious or deep game, but it's fun in small sessions.  And it works better than the billions of platformers I've already covered.

Did I beat it?
No, but I got close.

422 - Mechwarrior


So, I'm gonna do another one of those storytime things here.  I hope that's alright.  Maybe someone out there really, really wanted me to get deep into what makes this game tick, but I'm not gonna do that.  I usually do it, but for games that I have a long history with I more than likely will not, and it will remain that way for the rest of this project.  Just a heads up on that.  Plus the only thing you'd really need to know is that this is just like Mechwarrior 2, but a billion trillion times more basic, with almost zero depth or real strategy at play in comparison. 

Anyways, the story...

My parents were divorced when I was young, but did end up staying in the same town, on relatively amicable terms.  Eventually they both owned houses a couple miles away from one another, and when I was old enough to do my own thing (basically, by the time I was 12) I'd often walk or bike between them.  Partially because there was always stuff I needed to do, or places I needed to be, and partially because this route took me directly through downtown, and all of the rental stores and pawn shops contained within.  And even at that age all of my energy went into one thing: finding video games.

Well during one of those trips I stopped by the nearby video store.  I don't know why, they never sold games.  But I stopped in anyways.  I was a kid, I had all the time in the world, right?

But on this particular trip, lo and behold, the place was clearing out all of its old game tapes.  Namely, the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis stuff.  The Genesis crap was all packed into a single box, with a price tag of $20.  The games were all cased, and contained Fatal Labyrinth and Rings of Power among others (I cannot for the life of me remember anything else).  I foolishly passed on that box, for reasons I will never know.  Probably a lack of money.  But the Super Nintendo games I dove headfirst into.  They were $4 apiece, and I am not joking when I say I ran back home and hunted down every last stray quarter in my house to pay for them.  There may have even been nickels and dimes involved.  All I know is there were stacks of coins thrown down onto that counter.  I didn't care, I just wanted the games.

And what did I end up hauling away?  Super Metroid, Earthworm Jim, Earthworm Jim 2, Ys III, NBA Jam Tournament Edition (with a regular NBA Jam box oddly enough), Street Fighter II Turbo, and... Mechwarrior.  I know that place also carried Super Turrican and Ultima: The Black Gate, but I was too late on both of them. 

Long story short, acquiring seven games was a pretty ridiculous feat for me at the time.  Most kids were lucky to have seven games total in their collection.  But at four dollars a pop it was a complete no-brainer.  And I have to say that beyond the obvious scores that were Super Metroid and the Earthworm Jims, the games that actually intrigued me the most were Ys III and Mechwarrior.  What were these games?  Ys was clearly some sort of sweet-ass RPG, even if I was a little skeptical about the whole 2D thing going on in the screenshots on the back.  But Mechwarrior?  Was this like Mechwarrior 3050?  I rented that all the time.  Or was it like Mechwarrior 2 on PC?  That thing was a beast, easily one of the most graphically impressive games of the day.  I didn't know, I just knew I was psyched to get it.

And let me tell you, man was Mechwarrior a letdown.  I played every damn game in my collection to absolute death.  Even Out to Lunch.  I had to because there was nothing else to play.  But Mechwarrior was the exception to the rule.  You'd click through some menus, talk to people, look at upgrades you couldn't afford, and then suddenly get flown out to a combat zone where you're immediately bombarded and destroyed.  This was well before the days of GameFaqs and longplays and all that, and I was never lucky enough to have a ton of gaming magazines (lack of money and all).  So I gave up on it.  I gave up on a game, something I never did, despite not experiencing any of it, something I always strongly desired.  All because it was just that unpleasant to try and figure out.

Anyways, flash forward a couple decades and I can safely say the game isn't as bad as I assessed as a kid.  Not that I can blame myself, it is something of a trainwreck, and a spectular drop off from its sequel.  But it's a decent game if you stick with it.

Did I beat it?
I've tried and tried, but have never quite gotten all the way through it.

421 - Operation Europe: Path to Victory 1939-45

Here it is, the first of the Koei titles.  Considering there's a metric fuck-ton of them - and the fact that I'm almost halfway through the Super Nintendo library - well, you can do the math and take a wild guess as to what my general sentiment on them is.  Spoiler: I think they're pretty fun.  But Operation Europe: Path to Victory 1939-45 is the exception to the rule.  Well, the partial exception.  It's still fun, but it makes you work for that fun.  And the fun is very limited, and very fleeting.  Which is a damn shame because this is the only World War II game covering the European theater that Koei released (at least in the West).

I think I mentioned back in my Carrier Aces review that I'm something of a World War II buff.  When it comes to the subject matter I've read a number of books, took several classes during my senior year at school when I had some electives to burn, and played every video game I can.  Plus I always relish the opportunity to step into the shoes of Rommel, Patton or Montgomery, and I played the hell out of the Panzer General, Close Combat, and Combat Mission games back in the day.  And this game provides all of the fan service you could ask for.  Multiple scenarios, covering everything from the Invasion of Normandy to the Battle of the Bulge, the inclusion of every notable kind of tank, half track, and mobile artillery that was used by Germany and the Allies, and dozens upon dozens of noteworthy military leaders - they're all here.  It's the Super Smash Brothers Ultimate of dusty old Koei games.  If you wanted it, it was probably present.  Sounds great, right?

But the problems with this game... my god the problems. They are just so numerous and patience testing.  And first and foremost is the one that nearly kills the game: the insane amount of time it takes to do anything.  I realize that sounds like a silly thing to complain about in regards to a wargame, because it is a genre that's hardly known for its brevity, but this game takes everything to absurd lengths.  Just to make it perfectly clear, here are the playtimes for the different scenarios I played:

Blitzkrieg of France - 3:56.  Yes, you read that right.  It took me four hours to get through one of the shortest and easiest scenarios, where I skipped all combat, avoided most enemies, and made a beeline to my objective.  And the majority of that time was spent waiting.  Waiting for my turns to commence, waiting for the AI to think through its moves, and mostly, just waiting for anything to happen.  Prepare to stare at onscreen text that reads "Enemy is now plotting strategy" for most of your sessions with this game.

Normandy Invasion -  5:45.  And I didn't even get through the entire scenario.  My German forces were easily crushed relatively quickly, overrun by the overwhelming Allied beachhead.  And yet it still took six hours to suffer that defeat.  Mostly because of the battles, which I fought this time.  One of them actually burned through its entire 99 turn limit, which took 40 minutes.  40 minutes, for one engagement, on one turn!  And in case you think I'm exaggerating, I actually logged every start and stop time once it became apparent just how much of a timesink this game is.  And that battle started at 10:34 PM and ended at 11:14 PM.

Normandy Invasion (take two) - I don't even know!  It was so late that I submitted my edit to this post without realizing that NA had gone down.  So that data was lost.  But it was a goddamn eternity!

I cannot stress enough the insane pacing of the battles in this game.  I played this over four nights and I am not joking when I say I spent significant portions of that time on the other side of my house, washing dishes, preparing dinners, cleaning up toys, etc.  None of that is an exaggeration of any sort.

And all of the other problems... Jesus.  I don't even have the heart right now to fully get into all of them.  But they include...

- Trying to attack enemies that constantly skirt around you, forcing you into fruitless chases.
- Shit pathfinding.  Prepare to micromanage the hell of of everyone.
- All of the airstrikes, special forces strikes, supply requests, etc., all seem totally worthless.
- Units standing around, refusing to follow orders.  Is it because they're not rested enough?  Too low on morale?  Preparing for their next move?  Who knows.
- The music will drive you insane with the same few looping notes for hours on end.

I love the genre, I love the subject matter, I love the ambition, and I had some fun playing the game.  But the execution just isn't there.

Did I beat it?
I beat one of the scenarios, so I'm gonna say yes.  Anyone who wants to tell me otherwise can die.

420 - Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?

419 - Where in Time is Carmen Sandiego?

Remember Carmen Sandiego?  The once popular franchise seemed ubiquitous across everything once upon a time.  Edutainment computer games, video games, board games, a hit television show, books, you name it.  She was everywhere.  Including these two Super Nintendo ports.  And though one of the games is ostensibly about travelling across the world, and the other about travelling through time, both of them are basically the same game.  One just has an emphasis on world geography circa 1990, whereas the other leans on geography throughout world history.

As far as I remember, every game in the series uses the same setup: you're a new "gumshoe" at the ACME Detective Agency.  Your superiors send you to hunt various criminals that have stolen valuable and famous national treasures, and you'll need to use geographical clues in order to deduce the cities they're hiding in.  Do that enough and you'll catch up to them, throwing them in jail and working on earning yourself a promotion.  After earning enough of those you'll earn the opportunity to catch Ms. Sandiego herself.

So how does that work?  Simple.  You'll start in a major city, already hot on the perp's trail.  Here you can question several nearby citizens, all of whom will drop "hints" as to where you need to go.  Stuff along the lines of "The perp really loved gladiators" or "He was gonna go get some gumbo."  And then you decide which city that sounds like from a list of choices.  If you choose wrong you lose time and have to backtrack until you get back on the trail.  Take too long doing this and your target escapes.

And that's pretty much all there is to the series.  It's very simple, and seems geared towards preteen kids if anything.  But even as an adult I have to admit that I enjoyed both titles.  Then again I've always been a sucker for geography (or trivia in general), so that was no surprise to me.

Of course they're not perfect either.  For instance, some of the clues seem a bit dated or esoteric.  I mean, a "country that is known for producing postage stamps?" Uh... seriously?  And the formula does start to wear a bit thin if you aim to beat either game, as they both go on for quite awhile. Plus Where In Time Is Carmen Sandiego? does seem like a bit of a lazy release.  They could have at least shaken up the formula, or added some more wrinkles to the gameplay.  Instead you just get clues that are slightly different in scope.

Still though, if you're like me and you like this sort of thing, or you grew up playing this in your school's computer lab or watching the television show, you'll enjoy this nice blast from the past.  Anyone else probably needn't bother.

Did I beat World?
Yes, I completed cases until I caught Carmen Sandiego.

Did I beat Time?
No.  I did a handful of cases, but once I realized I'd have to do 70+ to finish the game I gave up.

418 - Pinball Dreams

417 - Pinball Fantasies

Here we have the erotic pinball twins (I was super close to using that as the title of this thread), courtesy of Gametek.  Together they represent a pretty nice improvement over the older, clunkier, Super Pinball: Behind the Mask - featuring graphics that are much sharper and cleaner, a nice variety of tables that actually play differently from one another, and table/ball physics that seem a little more based on reality.  And both sets of tables are - simply put - more fun to play. 

But they also feature this other style of perspective that is common to pinball video games, almost like an overhead view, which brings its own set of challenges.  For while it makes it much more obvious what is going on with your ball during play, it also makes both games very challenging, and not always in the best of ways.  I don't know about you, but I have a super hard time with pinball games that don't show the entire table at any given moment.  So it's taking a genre I already struggle with, and further handicaps the player by limiting your view, putting you at a pretty severe disadvantage for quick reaction shots.  And just speaking for myself, but I don't have the necessary skills in me to pull off the sort of finesse that either one of these games will ask of you.

Luckily, the game overcomes this (partially) with some very solid design.  The tables are all flush with "stuff to do," which is always a must for me with these games.  I figure that if you're expected to be spending hours upon hours looking down at a single field of play, there needs to be some depth to what you're doing, and variety to the goals you're trying to accomplish.  And I think both games knock both of those things out of the park.

They also get the "feel" of the game down pretty dang good.  I'm sure a pinball enthusiast could put it much more eloquently tham myself, but what I'm trying to say is that everything feels like it has the correct weight and tuning.  The ball goes where you'd expect it to, the flippers flip like you'd think they would, the shoots shoot it where it needs to shoot, and the ladders ladder it to where it needs to... ladder.  I don't know pinball terminology, did I mention that?

I do have to point out that I did occasionally encounter some slowdown, albeit very rarely, but that it does count as a strike against the game.  Pinball games are generally pretty unforgiving, with a single mistake often costing you a run.  And when that mistake happens because the game momentarily chugged it's pretty infuriating.  So while it did only happen a few times, it did royally piss me off.

Anyways, both games feature four different tables, which I will try and rank in the order of how much I enjoyed each of them.  For Pinball Dreams those four are:

Ignition - A rocket-themed table with a smattering of bumpers, ramps, and tons of targets, but nothing overly ambitious.  The emphasis here is lighting up a bunch of words by hitting targets and gaps (I'm sure I'm absolutely butchering pinball lingo here).  This is easily the table I put the most time into - fruitlessly trying to get the top score - and is my pick for one of the best across either game.  It's simple, but it's fun. (3rd out of 8)

Steel Wheel - An old-timey train themed table.  This one is also pretty busy, but is probably my favorite table of the group. (2nd out of 8)

Beat Box - A horrifically ugly table that that is... you know what?  I have no idea what the theme is supposed to be.  I guess picture the soundtrack to ToeJam and Earl (not that I've played that game in fifteen years and would know what I was talking about), made into a pinball game.  For whatever reason this table is also the hardest, as points seem nearly impossible to come by most of the time. (7th out of 8)

Nightmare - A graveyard-themed table.  This one is pretty ramp heavy.  The color scheme and overlay of ramps kind of make it harder to "read" than the other tables, yet it still ends up being the easiest one to play on for some reason.  Overall one of the weaker selections. (6th out of 8)

Together it's a pretty solid batch, with two stronger tables and two weaker ones.  Although I guess it's all relative as I wouldn't say any of them are super terrible or super amazing.

For the follow up, Pinball Fantasies, the developers changed a few things up.  Biggest of all, this time the game plays a bit faster, and with a slightly more zoomed out view to accomodate that fact.  I also think the table designs are a little better, giving you more options, and leaving you "stuck" in the bottom less often.  But the tables are also horribly drawn for the most part, too colorful and full of different ramps and pathways and things.  It means actually tracking what is going on is much harder, and coupled with the higher speed of play means it is a much harder game overall.  So quality-wise, it's about a wash with the first game.

Also, I should mention that PF actually lets you "shoot again" when you immediately fuck up (or get fucked over), which is a welcome change.  PD had no mercy and would never give you freebies like that.

The high scores (if you care about those) are also immensely higher now, providing more challenge if you seek it.

Party Land - Carnival themed.  This is another very busy table where it can be hard to know what's going on.  I do like the layout, with tons of ramps to hit, and another "cycle" to flip through that will play a big part in earning huge points, just like on Ignition. (1st out of 8)

Speed Devils - A sports car theme.  [note - is that seriously the only thing I wrote down for this table in my outline?  Goddammit!] (4th out of 8)

Billion Dollar Gameshow - Uh, billion dollar gameshow themed.  This is another busy, and very ugly board.  It's probably my least favorite of the bunch just because it is so hard to get a read on anything. (8th out of 8)

Stones n Bones - Another ghoulish theme.  Another busy, overly tricky board, but less frustrating than BDGS. (5th out of 8)

So I'll close out the Super Nintendo pinball games with this: I love pinball.  Or at least I love the idea of pinball.  I just have difficulty actually having a fun time playing the damn game.  Partially because I'm no good at it, and partially because the luck factors endlessly confound me.  Pinball Dreams and Pinball Fantasies on SNES are no exception.  Pretty decent games, that you can have a fun time with, as long as you're not getting pissed at them.  Which for me, is quite often.

Did I beat Dreams?
No, I suck at pinball.  I got the high score on Nightmare but I can only assume it was a fluke.

Did I beat Fantasies?
No, I suck at pinball.

416 - Gods

Take a look at that cover art.  Take a look at the HUD.  Take a look at that character sprite.  Now give me one guess as to what sort of game you think this is and where it originated from.  Just one. 

Did everyone say the Amiga?  Of course they did.  They just have a look, don't they?  Plus that's where seemingly every single one of these Western-developed SNES games came to us from.

So anyways, about Gods, I don't really know what this game is, or what's going on in it.  If there's a storyline, it's constrained to the manual, which I never read.  If it was set up in an introductory cutscene, I didn't watch it.  In any case it doesn't matter, just know you play as some musclebound freak from... let's say ancient Greece, and you're tasked with killing monsters and... well that's pretty much it.  Kill monsters and unlock doors.  And solve brain-busting puzzles that involve lots and lots of switches.  Because God knows early '90s Western devs certainly loved their switches.

Controls for the most part are basic, but solid.  You jump, you move, you attack, you pick things up, and you hit switches.  So many switches...  But it all handles well, with good movement and good responsiveness.  In fact I'd say the way it handles kind of reminds me of some killer PC game I played as a kid, but I can't quite make the recollection as to what it was.

The levels also start simple, but get real complicated real fast.  Working through one typically involves jumping across lots of platforms, climbing ladders, entering doors (that either take you to a new area or whisk you around the map), avoiding traps, and trying to solve the damn switches.  Eventually the mostly linear paths will lead to an exit.

There's also quite a few items and upgrades that you can either run across, or buy if you are lucky enough to run across the shop, which I posted up above in the middle pic.  This place lets you stock up on lives, heals, or powerups, or even decide which weapon upgrade path you want to take, all very cool, and giving you the option of pursuing multiple strategies.

Of course there are some bad things.  The game wouldn't be in the 400s if that wasn't the case.  For one, I feel that the game is overly hard.  Enemies just love to constantly spawn in front of you, behind you, and even right on top of you.  This leads to hectically firing your weapon while inching along, trying to kill everything before it can gank your ass.  The view is also a bit cramped, and your gigantic sprite doesn't really help things.  Or make dodging very easy.  In fact, you can't dodge for the most part, so don't even try.  You do have the ability to duck, but even that is limited in its usefulness.  So you really just need to memorize where everything is and kill enemies before they can kill you.  Which all leads to a general sense of trial and error.  Which means the game, like usual in these cases, is pretty damn hard.  I realize that a lot of older games were pretty short and had to compensate for this by jacking up the difficulty, but this is yet another example of the game being harder than it needed to be.

And yeah, those switches...  let's just say that later levels often devolve into wandering around back and forth, trying to "trigger" the next event, or key spawn, or door opening.  At times I'm fairly sure I soft-locked the game and made the levels unwinnable.  Was I wrong and just solving them wrong by hitting switches at the wrong time or in the wrong order?  Who knows.  Just know I was unable to beat the game on my own.
Lastly, I have to mention how hilarious many of the sound effects are.  Killing enemies, and taking hits is hilarious, because the sounds are often so out of place.  I'll let you peruse a longplay if you are curious enough to see what I mean.

All in all, it is a pretty fun game, and I enjoyed all of my time with it.  It was never too frustrating, even when I got stuck.  And these Amiga games do have a certain charm when they're executed well enough.  No one would ever call it a great game, and many people wouldn't even call it a good game, but I'd recommend throwing it an attempt or five.

Did I beat it?
No, I always get stuck and don't know what to do.  Some day maybe.

415 - Scooby-Doo Mystery

One of the few games on the system that could be called a point-and-click adventure, Scooby-Doo Mystery is a decent enough game.  I'm not the biggest fan of the source material, and the license isn't doing much for me here, but I did enjoy the change of pace as far as game genres go.  Admittedly, no one would ever mistake this for a Tim Schafer or Ron Gilbert game, but it's done well enough to be simple fun.  Plus, there is always a certain charm to finding items and figuring out out to use them to make progress.

The game is split up into four different "mysteries," each mimicking the general formula found in an episode from the original series: travel to a spooky location, encounter ghosts and monsters, eventually figure out why someone would want to scare everyone off (spoiler, it's always money), and then expose the villain.  Rinse and repeat.  These four mysteries are:

Haunted ship - A tutorial mission of sorts, here you'll avoid rats and/or mice, jump across high floating platforms above the ship's deck, and foil a ghost pirate's plans by wrapping him up in a rug (the traps were always moronic).  It is by far the easiest portion of the game.

Haunted circus - Visit the ice cream truck and the big top, dodge werwolves and more rats, and take a trip down a huge slide, all while an evil clown tries to scare you to death.  Discover that he's secretly the recently fired janitor, and he wants payback against his former employer.  Then try to ignore the fact that he was a #$#$ing janitor who was pissed about not having to clean up vomit and carny shit anymore..

Haunted, uh, swamp? - Travel across (and under) the bayou, avoiding stinking bogs and killer jack-o-lanterns, while avoiding the mud monster that wants... I dunno, I guess whatever valuables a damn swamp could hold.

Haunted manor - The final and most puzzle-heavy episode.  Traverse the bookshelves of the library, dodge chandeliers in the dining room, and expose a Bela Lugosi-lookalike vampire as another poor goober trying to cash in by scaring people.

Each episode is only a couple hours long, with roughly 20-30 areas per location.  Puzzle solving is generally pretty simple as you'll never be carrying more than a few inventory items at any given moment.  Though it can be unclear as to where you're supposed to use those items.  Luckily your companions are usually never far away, ready to give up any hints or tips on how to progress.  And finding those items in the first place can be super cryptic at times.  I realize that's often the nature of this genre, but you'll basically need to have Scooby "sniff" everywhere if you want to find everything.  That gets old real fast.  Or you can use an online guide.  Midway through the second level I went that route, strictly because I don't always have a ton of time to spend on some of these titles.  Especially if it means combing over every pixel in a game.

Also, to further clarify, your various friends each serve a different role.  Velma explains the key items that you come across, letting you advance the mystery.  Daphne will occasionally give you Scooby Snacks which heal you (did Shaggy actually eat that shit too?  I can't remember).  And good ol' punchable lovable oaf Freddy will put together the Goldbergian devices at the end of every mission that you'll need in order to catch the villain.

There's also two bonus games that you'll occasionally have to play.  One is whack-a-mole, where Shaggy needs to hammer various ghosts, vampires, and suits of armor, while collecting powerups and avoiding his friends.  It's not very fun.  There's also a sort of plate balancing thing where you'll play as Scooby, trying to "catch" food Shaggy is tossing out of a fridge.  Each of your front paws has a plate, and you'll need to balance the weight of the food items on each of them.  If one becomes too much heavier than the other you will fail.  It's also not that fun, but at least more creative than hammering ghosts.

In the end, I did enjoy the game to a degree.  Partially because I haven't played too many games like this in the last twenty years.  But I was also disappointed with it.  The more I played SDM, the more I kept dropping it in my rankings.  Initially I was expecting it to land in the high 200s, then the 300s, then the high 300s, and then finally it landed here.

Did I beat it?
I did, over a couple of nights, after a couple aborted playthroughs over the years.

414 - Kid Klown in Crazy Chase

Remember that game Kid Klown in Something or Other on NES?  No?  Well, here's another game that no one remembers; Kid Klown in Crazy Chase.  A game about a kid clown racing down hills, chasing... things.  Crazily.  It's better than it sounds.

I'm not exactly sure how to explain the gameplay here, mostly because I cannot really recall any other games that play this same way.  I'm not saying they don't exist, or that this game wasn't directly inspired by something, but I may just not be familiar with any of them.  Anyways, the gist of it is, you need to race Kid Klown down to the end of various courses, dodging all types of obstacles and hazards, evading the asshole evil clown that is trying to foil your efforts, all while under a strict time limit.  If you fail, the explosives at the bottom of the level are detonated and you have start again from the top.  Think of it as one long downhill obstacle course that is trying its hardest to murder you.  But to further complicate things, you'll also need to grab a bunch of hidden collectables along the way.  These may be concealed inside objects, or found in secret areas.  Furthermore, you'll also need to grab all of those collectables in one try in order to see the game's true, "good" ending.  And trust me when I say doing all of these things successfully gets very hard, very fast.

Controls are solid for the most part.  I know some people have issues with the isometric "Q-Bert" style of control, but I have never been one of them, and things immediately felt intuitive to me here.  All you really need to do is use the D-Pad to move along the path, and a button to jump.  It's a very simple setup, and everything is very responsive, which it kinda needs to be in order for a game like this to succeed.  Thankfully it suceeds in full.

The graphics are also very nice and colorful, and well animated to boot.  It was a late release on the Super Nintendo, so I guess Kemco had finally started to figure out how to code for the thing, since most of their earlier titles kind of looked like ass.

KKiCC is a very short and simple game though.  What you see in the first minute of gameplay is what you're gonna see for the rest of the entire playthrough.  And a skilled player could theorectically blow through this whole thing in a matter of minutes.  Granted, he'd have to spend some time mastering the levels, and memorizing where everything is, but anyone dedicated enough could probably do both things over the course of a couple nights.

That initial high degree of difficulty can make things fairly frustrating though.  Prepare to play the same levels over and over again, until you beat them.  And prepare for lots of memorization if you want to have any hope at getting the true ending.  I wasn't quite prepared for that, and called it quits after struggling just to reach the end at all.

Still, frustration and simple gameplay aside, I had fun with it.  Most people should probably check it out, just to see if the novelty of it works for them.

Did I beat it?
I did, but did not get the best ending.

413 - Utopia: The Creation of a Nation


Story time!

As I had previously discussed back in... some review... was it Bubsy?  I'm not sure, but back in that review I mentioned how my household was pretty hard up for games to play when I was younger.  I'd get maybe one or two a year for Christmas and/or my birthday, and they were often sports titles.  Not that I was complaining too much - my parents weren't exactly loaded with cash, and when adjusting for inflation games cost an ass-ton and a half back then.  Nothing like today where games are cheap and plentiful, and why it always makes me shake my head when people complain about some remaster or re-release going for forty or sixty bucks upon launch.  I guess people either don't know how good they have it nowadays, or they're old enough to have forgotten.  So while I may have been initially disappointed that I got FIFA International Soccer instead of whatever game I actually wanted, I was sure to be very grateful to my dad for spending so much money to try and make his kids happy.

Anyways, the only way to alleviate the lack of diversity in my collection was by renting or borrowing games.  You see the secondary market was still a few years away from really being a thing, or at least that was the case in my neck of the woods.  So when I was lucky enough to rent a game - which was not often because I myself had no money - I had to be very careful and ensure that I made a wise decision.

I rented Utopia three times.

Looking back, that kind of bamboozles me.  I mean I know I've always had a soft spot for two different types of games: strategy games, and isometric overhead games.  I just don't really have an explanation as to why that is, only that both things have always been a draw to me, even to this day.  And since Utopia was one of the few strategy games that they had on hand at my nearest video store (the other being SimCity 2000), I went back to it again and again.  Was that because I loved it?  Because I had a great time playing it?  Or because I wanted to discover its secrets?

Well I have always prided myself on the strength of my memory (or at least I did before I had kids), but I honestly couldn't say what the answer was.  Hell, I didn't even know, or remember, that the game had enemy factions until I picked it back up six or seven years ago.  Which must mean I only played the practice mode all those times I rented it.  Which also means I was just laying down buildings and infrastructure, at my own pace, in a free play of sorts, that entire time.  So maybe that's the answer as to the question of why I kept going back to it - I just wanted a fun little stress-free sandbox to build my little space cities in.  No attacks, no game overs, no races against the clock, nothing.

Nowadays, I play the game's actual scenario mode, where mounting frustration with the difficulty along with the now apparent (and glaring) flaws with the design both mean I enjoy the game significantly less than I remember.  I'd even go so far as to say this was one of the biggest disappointments in this entire writing project.  Would I have been as into the game back in the day if it didn't have the free play mode?  Probably; I never expected to have any great success with games back then, I was just happy to play them.  But things are different now and just sitting around placing buildings without any threats or setbacks is not enough anymore.

Oh well, at least I'll always have the memories.

Did I beat it?
No, damnable aliens always gank my ass.

412 - Star Trek: Deep Space Nine - Crossroads of Time

The second of the system's three Star Trek games, and easily the one I went into with the least amount of expectations.  Now, I'm not exactly a Trekkie or anything, but I certainly enjoyed the new JJ Abrams stuff, and find some sporadic older material like First Contact to be pretty good.  But I've never seen an episode of Deep Space Nine, and my only knowledge of the series is that it was about some space station and the motley crew of inhabitants that resided within, including some funny-looking alien bartender dude and Colm Meaney.  Wikipedia tells me Worf and Herbert West were also involved, but that's all I know.  So I initially approached this Crossroads of Time with a sort of reserved optimism. 

Unlike in every other Star Trek game that I'm aware of, this one is a sidescroller.  But instead of being a traditional action platformer sorta thing, it's more of a narrative-driven Prince of Persia meets Flashback... sorta thing.  With... uh, action platforming.  It's better than it sounds.  Even though I put it so eloquently.

You start the game as the black guy (sorry I don't remember his name or title), where you'll need to walk around a couple areas, talk to various aliens, and then get sent off somewhere to investigate some sort of tomfoolery.  And most people are gonna give up on the game right around this point.  You see, this first "level" tasks you with hunting down a number of rigged explosives, and makes sure to showcase some terrible platforming, a severe lack of checkpoints, boring combat, and repetitive gameplay.  It's one of the worst first impressions the game could have possibly made.  It wouldn't be so bad if they hadn't used this opportunity to roll out the absolute worst jumping puzzles in the entire game, while also imposing strict time limits and a confusing end goal.  And worst of all, this stuff goes on for three different sections, with no checkpoint in-between the second and third areas.  So prepare to play through it over and over again until you succeed and move on.  Playmates really dropped the ball here.

Anyways, after eventually persevering over the first damn level - most likely over a dozen attempts or more - the game switches over to something of a shmup-style sequence.  Well, shmup-like.  The first part of this stage resembles that section in Gradius III where you're trucking through a narrow corridor trying not to eat the wall, and the next part has you trying to disable another craft by hitting it with phaser fire and knocking asteroid chunks into it.  The entire stage is pretty easy, and over before you know it, but I found it a welcome relief and change of pace from level one.  And then of course after this you never see any more gameplay like this again for the rest of the game.  Go figure.

Between each mission you also get to run around the main hub area of the station, talking to everyone until the storyline advances.  It's not very compelling, but luckily the area isn't overly huge or easy to get lost in.  So fans of the show can get off to cameo appearances from rando alien guest stars and such.

Most of the later levels adapt a more typical platformer setup, tasking you with navigating through alien landscapes, ancient temples, underground caverns, etc..  They also feature plenty of typical platformer silliness such as murderous birds and bats and fire breathing statues and all that jazz.  It's all pretty out of place in a Star Trek game.

Towards the end of the game there is a pretty significant difficulty spike.  Especially the mission where you are tasked with racing the clock on a ship overrun with the Borg.  Honestly, this entire stage is some bullshit, and most people are never gonna get through it without outside help.  Here you'll have to navigate through a ton of samey-looking tunnels and rooms, while constantly "retuning" your phaser, trying to find items and crewmembers, toggling the power on and off, and solving some pretty fiendish puzzles.  All while dealing with Borg that adapt to your attacks, one-way doors, numerous deadly hazards, and time limit that is ridiculously tight.  After half a dozen fruitless tries I resorted to using an FAQ to get through it, and even then I wasn't immediately successful.  Following that guide to a "T" had still left me way short on time, twice.  It was ridiculous, and the temptation to throw the cart after that second fail was overwhelming.

Another late mission has you taking the mantle of another of the show's characters, whose name I also forget.  He's the one who can turn into a rat, which lets you scoot into nearby vents and avoid a few obstacles at times.  And then after three minutes you're done with him.  Why even bother putting in a second character with new abilities when you play as him for such a short time?  Did they have to cut out a significant part of the game built just for him?  Regardless, after you discard rat man you then have to navigate another maze of areas with cryptic item locations, no health recovery, and frustration in spades.  If there wasn't a checkpoint near the very end I might have lost my shit (again).

And that's it.  A handful of missions, some easy, some hard, all over with after a couple of hours.  So while the game kind of starts out like shit, and unravels a little bit towards the end, I had a decent enough time with it.  Certainly more fun than I had with the "Next Generation" game, which started out great and then tanked off a cliff because of its damn space battles.  So call this one a minor pleasant surprise.  And that also leaves us with just one Star Trek game left.

Did I beat it?
I did.  I led Captain WhatsHisName to victory over the... evil... guys.  Honestly I never knew what was going on, but I killed a shit-ton of rats and Borgs and alienoids until I saved the galaxy or whatever.

411 - HAL's Hole in One Golf

If my short-term memory is correct (a foolhardy assumption), this will be the sixth golf game that I've covered, with four titles left to go.  Five if you count Kirby's Dream Course.  Which would place it just above the middle of the pack.  And I think that is exactly how Hal's Hole in One Golf - and really, almost every game in Volume VII - can be described: slightly better than average.  Granted I haven't actually gotten to the halfway point of this project yet, so I'm not sure how I can call the majority of the library above average, but I did it anyways.

First off, this game is fast.  Complete polar opposite of Mecarobot Golf fast.  There's no fucking around waiting for shots to render, or slowly clicking through different parts of the shot setup, or any of that crap.  You aim, you grip it, and you rip it.  Those are all good things too, because I have another billion hours of old-ass Nintendo tapes to continue getting through, so I don't have time to wait for an opponent's shot to slowly fly through the air, bounce a few times, roll, come to a stop, and load, before the game finally returns to my character. 

The gameplay is also very simple.  You get one no-BS course, with simple greens, and plenty of arcade gameplay.  That part's a bit more of a mixed bag, because it limits the amount of depth found here, but it still helps you jump right into the game, enjoying yourself within seconds.

Now for the bad things.  First off - and this is a big one - is that it's really hard to gauge the distance you're hitting the ball, or how far you need to hit it.  This is easily the thing that keeps HHiOG from stacking up against the top tier golf sims on the Super Nintendo because it's a serious detriment to playing at anything resembling a skilled level.  And it's a silly problem to have too, because all they had to do was add some sort of indicator as to where your ball is going.  It didn't even need to be precise, just an approximation of the general area that it's going to go.  Seems like a major miss by HAL.

The putting is also ridiculously easy... at least at first.  You see, the front nine greens are basically flat for the most part, and as long as you don't rocket the ball over the hole it's probably gonna drop in.  Later greens, however, start adding in some slopes, and the game just doesn't have the information in place to let you play them correctly.  So putting is either ridiculously easy, or frustratingly cryptic, with no in-between.

There's also the fact that the game only offers a single course.  Now that is about par for the course on the SNES [... - editor], so you can't reasonably hold that against a single game like this.  But the one course is so basic and featureless - where every hole feels the same as all the others - that it never has much of a sense of "identity" to it.  Mecarobot Golf kind of sucked, but at least its course was a little memorable.  HHiOG is just a series of plain overhead maps.

Still, in the end I had fun with HAL's golf game.  The faster pace of play makes it so much more enjoyable than the True Golf Classics trilogy I recently covered, and the mechanics are much more sound than those found in Jack Nicklaus Golf or Mecarobot Golf.  Its one major shortcoming holds it back from being anything special, and it really could have used some more variety, but it's pretty good for what it is.

Did I beat it?
Hell no.  Even finishing under par, which I was able to accomplish twice, didn't get me anywhere near to winning the tournament.  And that was on the easiest difficulty setting.

410 - Lester the Unlikely

Lester the Unlikely, released by DTMC (whoever that is), and infamous subject of an Angry Video Game Nerd episode, is not nearly as bad as some people make it out to be.  Which isn't to say it's anything great.  But it is a fun little take on the Prince of Persia formula, sticking you into the role of the titular (and cowardly) geek: a doofus who can barely be bothered to get near some frickin' crabs when the game begins.  But by the end he'll have overcome ghosts, pirates, giant spiders, and vicious jaguars to rescue the girl and save the day. 

The game begins with Lester walking along some docks, getting tired, and then taking a nap on a box that gets lifted onto a ship.  It's a pretty shitty excuse for a setup.  Eventually he wakes up, finds himself on a large tropical island, and makes off for... wherever.  A boat I guess.

The controls are, as I already hinted, of the Prince of Persia/Blackthorne/Out of this World style.  Only, instead of being some badass with a sword or shotgun, Lester is basically Lewis from Revenge of the Nerds.  Except not a rapist.  He also walks with a weird gait to his stride, he pisses his pants at the sight of a turtle or bat, and his only attack (throwing small rocks) brings the dweeb from The Sandlot to mind...

Now the idea is that Lester will slowly overcome his weakness, build up his confidence and abilities, and end the game as the dashing hero who gets the girl.  So for example, after first encountering any of the enemies, he will bravely challenge them on the next go-around.  And after overcoming one of the bosses he gets a kiss from the damsel in distress, which immediately transforms his slouch into a manly new posture, complete with large pecs and biceps that have suddenly developed in a split second.  And that's about the extent of Lester's "transformation."  Nothing actually changes.  He just stops being such a goddamn wimp.  Good idea, lacking execution.

The game is fun though, silliness aside.  The levels are reasonably varied, and short enough to never wear out their welcome.  They're all very linear, especially compared to other games in the genre, and the puzzle-solving is usually pretty simple, but it all works well enough.   

The graphics are also pretty nice looking, with much more detail to the animations than the similarly-themed Skulljager.  There are tons of recyled assets throughout the levels, and a relatively small number of characters and enemies, but I still think it's all done rather well overall.

I do think that the game is held back a bit by the limited number of lives and continues that it offers.  There is a reason games like Out of this World, Flashback and Blackthorne have passwords or infinite continues - there's too many instant death moments spread across them, which would deter you from wanting to have to restart the game from the beginning over and over again.  And you will have to restart LtI after the first time you reach the spike level a third of the way through the game.  Or after the quick escape from the jaguar where you need to "Pitfall" your way over a number of water hazards.  Total horseshit trial-and-error in both instances.  I will even admit that I eventually resorted to using a longplay to help "massage" me through such segments, but only after I had given the game moe than a fair shake.  I just got tired of the instant death sections that I couldn't see coming.  They're fine in Out of this World.  They're not as fine when you have limited lives to work with.

I do have a couple other minor grievances as well: while most levels aren't too bad, the river level is a bitch and no fun to play through, and the sporadic vine-swinging is fucked.  I don't know if it's as bad as the hippo tails in The Lion King, but it's pretty bad.

Overall though, I had to say I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed Lester.  It's still a pretty limited game, and one of the lesser "cinematic" action platformers on the system, but that's pretty good company to have.  I would never call this a hidden gem, or say it was too unfairly maligned by The Nerd, but it's a decent enough time.

Did I beat it?
Yes I did, after a couple nights' worth of attempts.

409 - Fatal Fury

SNK fighter number three - and another title that left me with mixed feelings - Fatal Fury represents their oldest release on the system.  Well, not counting King of the Monsters, because that's more of a wrestling game/pile of garbage. 

I'm not gonna bore us with "dates" or "research" or "facts," but I am going to guess that this came out just after Street Fighter II, shamelessly trying to lap up some of that landmark title's success.  And who could blame them?  Everyone and their sister was playing SFII, so of course companies were gonna try and produce their own Street Fighter killer.  Enter SNK and Fatal Fury.  A flashy title with killer graphics and sound, great animation, tons of secret special moves to pull off, and a big bad final boss with all sorts of crazy moves and hijinks to put M. Bison to shame.

And they nearly did it.  FF is a worthy SFII competitor in many ways.  But they fucked up one very important mechanic.  Possibly the most important mechanic of them all.  You see the controls are as unresponsive as all hell.  Is that because this is a shoddy port?  Was that a problem in the Genesis version?  Because I have no idea.  But I suspect it stems from the game itself, and that SNK hadn't quite figured out what the hell they were doing yet.  If you have ever played the original Street Fighter (as in the very first one), you'd see that it has the exact same problem, only ten times worse.  So my theory is that it took everyone at least one game to figure that shit out.

Like many older games in the genre, you also only have a few guys that you get to pick from in the single player campaign.  Three, to be exact, and they're presumably all Bogart boys.  I dunno, I forget.  I think one is named Joe.  After selecting one of them you get to do the standard fighting game thing and move across a map, defeating opponents one at a time, until you get to the big bad.  Nothing you haven't seen in every other fighter in existence.

What the game does offer that most others don't, is your typical SNK bullshit.  You know, computer opponents that pull off impossible combos that defy the laws of physics, AI that is all over the place, sometimes kicking your ass and sometimes laying down to die, and of course the godforsaken SNK bosses.  They couldn't go one game without some of those assholes trying to ruin everything, with jacked up damage and health to make your life miserable.

Still, game is pretty fun though, all complaining and SNK warts aside.  Every fighter in the roster plays pretty different from one another.  And like I said, the game does sound and look pretty great.  It's not something that can stand up against its far superior sequel (and quasi-sequel), but I did enjoy it more than World Heroes or Art of Fighting.  But it is a far cry from the remaining five SNK fighting games that I have yet to cover, all of which are pretty dang good.

Did I beat it?
Yes.  Mostly because most opponents didn't know how to handle Terry's fire fisting thing.  At least on the default difficulty.

408 - Brunswick World Tournament of Champions

The second (and last) bowling game I'll be covering, Brunswick World Tournament of Champions aims for a much more "authentic" experience than the cartoony Super Bowling did, to mostly positive results.  I will also freely admit up front that the only bowling video games I have ever played are these two SNES titles, and Wii freaking Sports.  Which means I'm definitely not an expert on the genre.  I also don't care much for the sport in real life, and hardly ever play if I can help it.  So I am super aware that I'm not gonna be the best judge of this stuff.

To start, the graphics are pretty fugly, and limited.  Hell, even the menus look like crap.  But does any of that matter?  Not really.  You're here to see a ball go down a lane and crash into some large pieces of wood, not worry about whether or not the bowlers have outstanding animation or if the menus are impressive looking.

There's also a decent number of play options.  Well, several: various tournaments you can enter, and leagues you can join.  Not that I ever tried league play, but it was there if you're interested.  And why didn't I try the leagues?  Because just winning tournaments was more than enough content for me.  Competing in any one of them will require tons of games played, even on the shortest settings.

But most important of all, how does it play?  And the answer is "quite good," I think.  Granted I don't have much of a bowling (or bowling game) baseline, but everything here seems on point.  The ball and pin physics seem accurate.  The different types of setups and spin you can apply to the ball all add a good amount of depth and strategy to your play, with plenty of different approaches possible.  And it is legitimately fun.  Once I got the hang of things and starting bowling like a pro, I had a blast.

Or at least I did for awhile.  Because bowling is bowling.  At the end of the day you're still just doing the same thing over and over again, with slight variations on how to proceed depending on the shot you have lined up.  After a couple hours I had had my fill.  I had a good time, but I didn't need to play any more (or ever again, most likely).

So if you are a bowler or like the thought of playing bowling games, you'll probably be completely satisfied with what this game provides.  It's no frills, but it gets the job done.

My career lifetime scores:
Qualifying tournaments - 66, 138, 138, 162, 211, 172, 159, 196, 232, 172, 204, 190, 214, 194, 191, 190, 192, 199, 220
Brunswick Tournament (harder difficulty) - 213, 225, 170, 191, 192, 188

Did I beat it?
See the scores above.

407 - NCAA Football

A football game from Mindscape?  Seemingly from the same team that brought us the abomination that was NCAA Final Four Basketball?  Fucking gross. There's no way this game isn't beyond horrible... bottom twenty material at least.

And yet somehow it isn't.  I don't know how they did it, but color me shocked; a Mindscape product that is not only ugly as sin and generic as fuck in its presentation, manages to actually be a pretty good time.  Hell, I'd go so far as to say it almost kind of reminds me of a poor man's Tecmo Super Bowl.  Granted, so did Football Fury, which was no good.  But NCAA Football kinda sorta actually pulls it off a little bit.

Right off the bat you can tell from the cover art that the game boasts the full NCAA license.  And yet Mindscape only saw fit to throw in a random assortment of real life programs.  And unlike Super Play Action Football you will not be getting any of those hilariously out-of-place Division II or I-AA teams.  Not that most people would care about something like that.  But you don't even get all of the power programs, it's just a random cross-section of schools.  What was the method to the madness?  One can only guess.

The next thing you'll notice is that the game kind of looks like shit.  That isn't unusual for these arcade-like football experiences, as Tecmo Super Bowl, Super High Impact, ABC Monday Night Football, and Football Fury aren't exactly lookers themselves.  But NCAA Football is even homelier than usual.  I'd put it just behind Super Play Action for grossest looking on the system.  Luckily I'm not a graphics whore (most of the time).

I also just realized that I had started grading all of the football games via a quick breakdown of the different components of a play (running, passing, and defending against both), but clearly forgot about that at some point and abandoned it.  Somewhere around Volume III I think.  But it's never too late to half-assedly fix your mistakes:

Running game -  This actually works rather well.  Ballcarriers are speedy and can get to the line before getting mobbed - which you can never take for granted in these games - and handle well in the open field.  It gets my seal of approval.
Passing game - A bit finicky, as you have to toggle through receivers, many of whom you won't be able to see (unless you can read that "map" in the corner of the screen - good luck with that), and your QB has to be perfectly still in order to attempt a pass.  Plus, once the pass is in the air you're almost guaranteed a reception.  Partial credit.
Playing defense - Defending against the pass is problematic (it usually is) because once the ball is in the air it's very hard to prevent the receiver from catching it.  Your best bet is jailbreak blitzes to try and get to the QB before he can drop back and get the throw off.  The run defense works great though.  They nailed running in this game, both on offense and defense.

Really though, none of that matters much.  The only thing you need to know is that the game is pretty fun to play.  It's also extremely fast paced.  Probably the fastest football game on the system.  And that's a good thing, because it keeps the arcade experience running at full tilt, with no interruptions, which keeps things fun.

So is this amongst the best football games on the system?  No, not quite.  It's a far cry from something like Tecmo Super Bowl.  But this is the first pigskin title that's legitimately fun, and I've covered most of them by this point.  So credit is due.

Did I beat it?
Yes, I won the championship with Nebraska.  I think that capped an undefeated season, but I cannot remember for sure.

406 - Populous

I'm gonna once again shoot from the seat of my pants [you certainly love your mixed metaphors - editor], and say that Populous was a hit PC game from Peter Molyneux (probably known to most gamers as the creator of Fable), and that it was the first major release from famed Bullfrog Studios, makers of Syndicate, Magic Carpet, Dungeon Keeper, and the Black and White series.  And if I'm wrong about any of that, well... blame alcohol for ravaging my mind and memory over the years.  But this game has pedigree, to put it simply.  Or it became pedigree?  What's the reverse of pedigree?  Whatever it is, this game has it.

Unfortunately that only means so much, because I'm ranking and reviewing all of these games based on how I think they play right now, at this very moment in time.  And I'm sure Populous was a great and influential game back in the day.  But maybe not so much anymore.  And definitely not on the Super Nintendo.  So while this is one of the first "god" games, if not the very first, it has aged in many ways that do make it kind of harder to play nowadays.

The gist of the game is pretty weird, and something I had to read a few times through when I was going over the manual trying to get a grip on the gameplay.  Basically, you have to "raise or lower land" in order to let your people thrive and grow.  Why?  I have no f'ing clue.  I guess you're terraforming for them.  As you lay the ground out for them, they will expand into new structures, upgrade their existing ones, and provide you more peoples through which to further expand your domain.

There's also various powers and strategies you can invoke, from creating powerful soldiers that can lay waste to enemy civilians, to large scale events such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and tsunamis.  All in the name of thrashing your foes so that you can become more powerful than them.  Once you do have the edge over them, you invoke the apocaplyse (or something along those lines), at which point every unit on the map converges for one last final battle.  Winner takes all.

And as far as I can tell, that's all there is to it.  Shape the land to grow more powerful, use warriors and acts of God to attack your enemy, call the final battle when you have the advantage.  Rinse and repeat for the next 999 levels after that.  And while I had some fun dinking around, killing dudes and growing my villages as large as I could, I wasn't having a good enough time to stick with it for more than a few hours.

Did I beat it?
No, I'm not sure how many of those 1,000 levels you realistically have to beat to play through the game, but it's probably way too many.

405 - Hit the Ice

Taito brings us the hockey equivalent of arcade classic Arch Rivals (and spiritual precursor to future hit franchise NHL Hitz), Hit the Ice.  The goofiest hockey game I've ever played.  The cover art should tell you everything you need to know about what to expect here: lots of fighting, grotesque-looking characters that look like they've been beaten to a pulp, and lots of seafood thrown onto the ice to slip over.  And the game plays exactly like you think it would.

The options are pretty basic here (it is an arcade port after all).  Choose from one of several different teams, select your player, and you're off and running.  Easy peasy.  Games are three on three affairs, with each team having one goalie and two position players present (is that what they're called in hockey?  I have no idea).  You will always have control over one of them, as the other will be more of an AI partner who will respond to simple commands such as pass or shoot.  That doesn't sound so hot in theory, but it works well enough in practice.

I do rather like the graphics too.  As you can in the screenshots, character sprites are big and cartoonish, and nicely detailed.  The animation is admittely pretty shitty, though you'll be too busy trying to bust open guys' heads to notice much. 

Gameplay is pretty basic.  Basic as in shoot, pass, or attack.  The one wrinkle in the formula comes in the form of power shots.  These are also just about the only way you can score a goal reliably.  And that's actually what I like about this game, and why I scored it higher than Super Slap Shot (a decent, but more traditional hockey title).  Instead of playing hockey like you would in another game, both teams are basically just trying to keep the puck away from their opponents' attacks long enough so that they can charge up this shot and overpower the opposing goalie with it.  Which is also hilarious - when those shots land they literally launch him into the goal alongside the puck.  It's immensely satisfying.  So you're not so much playing hockey as you are a glorified game of keep away.  But it works better than you'd think. 

There's also fighting.  Lots of fighting.  Like fighting-every-thirty-seconds fighting.  And it is decent enough, and better implemented than it was in any of the hockey games I've already covered.  It just happens entirely too much.  And when you're playing against the AI, all it does is slow the game down.  Not that a game like this is meant to be played against the AI, but even against human players they could have toned it down.  Especially since all you really get out of it is bragging rights, since knocked out players are barely out of the action for any real amount of time.

And like I mentioned there are a number of other fun details.  Like the octopuses thrown onto the ice, which will wrap up any player that gets too close to them.  Or the truly horrific-looking sprite for the referee.  He looks like something out of The Island of Dr. Moreau.  Or the various animations of players being decked, laid out, or knocked out.  Hilarious.

So overall I enjoyed my time with Hit the Ice.  Not enough to give it an especially lofty ranking, but it did end up being my highest rated hockey game outside of the classic EA franchise that will be coming up in the future.  Which, now that I say that, makes it seem like I've been especially harsh on the sport overall.  I don't think I was, but any Canadians/North Dakotans/Minnesotans would probably have this at least a hundred spots higher.  I'll let them have that.

Did I beat it?
Yes, I went through the tournament with "Green."

404 - Jim Power: The Lost Dimension in 3D

Who is Jim Power?  Powers?  Power?  Pretty sure it's Power.  In any case, I don't know, but I'm guessing it was the Amiga's answer to Apogee's Duke Nukem.  And he got this sequel (or maybe it's a remake) on the Super Nintendo.  A game that is known for being one of the system's absolutely ball-bustingly hardest games, unrelenting in its challenge and unforgiveness.

Now you may be asking yourself "But Brock, what does 'in 3D' even mean?"  Is it a graphical mode you turn on/off that's supposed to be used with those flimsy old school blue and red glasses ala Rad Racer?  Well not quite.  You see the 3D is a reference to the game's rather unique way of handling parallax scrolling.  What I mean by that is, when you move forward everything in the foreground moves backwards (like any other game), while the background moves forward, and while another background layer moves forward at an even faster rate.  It's kind of a trippy effect, and most people seem to hate it and find it nasueating.  I personally think it's kind of cool, and that it gives the game an extra graphical boost.  I don't know about calling it "3D" or anything, but it is pretty unique.

You start the game on a Ghosts n Goblins-style map.  It's not much - more of a minor detail than anything - but I always dig these sort of details, and I love seeing a progression towards the end of the map.  Plus, you know right up front what sort of games this is taking its inspiration from.

The bulk of the gameplay takes the form of a side-scrolling action platformer.  Think Contra, but as if it were made by Apogee.  If you don't know who Apogee are, google it, or read Masters of Doom.  Anyways, in most levels you'll guide Jim through some fairly long areas where enemies generally just run or fly back and forth, gathering up powerups, trying to race the clock before it expires.  This is also where you discover just how unforgiving the game is.  You see, Jim dies in one hit, you only have a few lives to spare, and there are few continues.  And the relatively large sprites and fast movement of many enemies mean you can burn through those lives fairly quickly.  Still, the set enemy patterns mean that it's not too hard to get into a groove after a few rounds.  At least at first.  The challenge starts low but will gradually escalate to sadistic levels.

Speaking of levels, there are two other types of gameplay found in later stages:

Shmup levels - These take two different forms, but neither one is very fun overall.  The first type has Jim flying with a jetpack, fighting against various bosses.  The problem is your sprite is way too big, too slow moving, and there is entirely too much emphasis placed on memorization of the boss's attack patterns, many of which similar to one another.  The second type of stage is even more problematic.  They are of a more traditional shmup design where you fly a ship through tight caverns, blasting away enemies and avoiding obstacles, and they are ridiculously hard.  All of the sprites are too big - a recurring problem with this game - with overly large hitboxes and not enough room to maneuver, all of which lends to a claustrophobic feeling overall.  On top of that, there are endless instant death moments that can only be conquered through memorization and repeated play.  Which turns these levels into endless slogs.

Overhead levels - You know the overhead areas from Contra III?  That's these levels to a tee, including the "spinny" parts.  Hell, the character sprite even looks identical.  Except, whereas the CIII levels are relatively forgiving, the ones here are brutal, just like the rest of this game.  Pro tip: study the map before you do anything, because using any of the keys in the wrong places at the wrong times will cause you to be stuck in an unwinnable position.  However, they did actually try to improve upon what CIII offered in some ways.  Like later on there seems to be a vehicle that is added into the equation.  I didn't get far enough to see it myself, but I noticed it when scanning through a longplay, and can only imagine it makes these levels even trickier.  It's a cool idea either way though.

Now, I really think that unlimited continues could have done this game a huge favor.  The game is very hard, and very unforgiving, but it can be overcome through persistence.  But when you have to replay the entire game from scratch every time, it really makes mastering each level a massive drain.  Still, I have to say that I found it to be a fun and ambitious game.  Yes, its reputation is very much deserved, and I seriously doubt most players could muster a serious attempt at clearing it on easy, much less medium or hard.  And I do think the difficulty is a drawback that takes away from the game.  If the challenge was a little more subdued, or the game a little more forgiving with continues, or providing passwords or something, this game would have jumped quite a bit higher in my rankings.

Did I beat it?
No.  I probably sank 6-7 hours into it, and got pretty far into it, but for now it's beyond me.

403 - Lock On

[this writeup is left partially unedited in order to capture my feelings as I logged my experiences with the game, as they happened.  I kept the bizarre formatting as it was the only way I could make it remotely readable]

Mission One
First attempt
Okay, so what sort of game is this?  Is it like AfterBurner?  Do Afterburner games play like this?  Probably not.
*shot down in quick fashion*

Second attempt
Okay, let's try the other plane here.
*shot down three straight times*

Third attempt
*shot down three straight times*
Jesus Christ and a half, alright already.  I guess I got what I needed.
*throws the game into the low 400s in my spreadsheet, throws the cartridge back in the pile*

A couple years go by...

Fourth attempt
Okay, what was this game again?  Was this better than Turn and Burn?  Was it similar?  I know I definitely like Super Strike Eagle more.  But about Wings 2?
*immediately shot down* 
Fucking christ! 
*collide with enemy plane* 
Well that was some horseshit. 
*collide with another enemy* 
OOOOOOHHHH, those kamikaze mother fuckers!  Ok, next attempt I got this...

Fifth attempt
Oh shit, this plane seems way more maneuverable.  I may have figured out the way to go. 
*shot down* 
Fuck me.  I never even saw that one coming, I just heard the alarm for awhile, and then I was in pieces. 
*runs out of fuel* 
WHAT THE FUCK?  Clearly the tradeoff for this thing is maneuverability over endurance.  I'm not sure how many enemies I'm supposed to kill but that seemed like a really tight timeline.
*furious dogfight against enemy ace, shot down* 
Jesus H.  That... that was frustrating.  Especially when you're racing against the clock with your fuel.  Maybe I should go back to the Tomcat.  And why the shit am I forced into picking old-ass Tomcats?  Where are the Strike Eagles?  Did the Super Hornet not exist yet?

Sixth attempt
Okay, Tomcat for the win.  Let's do this...
*blow away a dozen fighters*
So far so good...
*missile shoots me down even though I had a flare up* 
What in the assing shit?  I guess missiles can still hit you even if you're between them and your flare?  That's some garbage.
*ace shows up*
Okay, circling one another didn't work last time, so I need to hit the afterburners and get some distance on him, and then engage in a game of chicken where I unload my vulcans and missiles as fast as I can.
*several salvos later, missile shoots me down even though I have a flare up* 
Gaaawwd.  Fuck.  That.  Shit.  Son of a bitch must pay.
*I slow to a crawl, hoping he'll drift out in front me.  Vulcan fire starts taking me apart.  Eventually he shows up on screen just long enough for me to unleash everything on him, exploderizing him in satisfying faction*
Jesus god.  Well I'm probably not gonna fucking beat this game at this rate, but maybe I can at least put a dent in it.

Time: 5'03
Hit Rate: 19%
Damage Rate: 234%
Evaulation: Two stars

Mission Two
Okay, now I get to take the Warthog for a run.  Or the Tornado if I want, whatever the fuck that is.  Wait, the Warthog is equipped with napalm?  Was that still a thing in the mid 90s? 
*a large Mode 7 island appears in front of me*
Ooooooh, that's cool.  Hopefully this is more fun than that stupid f'ing first mission.
*ground textures start to spaz out as I fly in close to them*
What in the fuck is going on?  Is the game having a seizure?
*turn around for second pass, start to strafe the glowing orangish spots*
Well, nothing is happening.  What am I supposed to do?  Is there a map I can bring up?
*hit start and select buttons, no map shows up*
Well, ass.
*goes in for third run, ground is wobbling around like crazy*
Oh my god, are you serious with this game?  What is even happening down there?
*comes in for a high altitude dive straight down into the glowing thing, unload with everything*
Is anything happening?  What am I supposed to do?
*notices that one of the glowing spots on my mini-map is no longer there*
So I'm just supposed to shoot these things until they unceremoniously don't exist, with no feedback?  How exciting.
*go in for another run, unloading everything once again, before my plane spontaneously drops from the sky as I'm right over the target*
What the... did I stall out?  What the hell happened?

Seventh attempt
Luckily the game is pretty generous with continues so I am still on mission two.
*half a dozen strafes later*
Oh, I see.  The glowing areas "flash" another color when they're hit.  Assuming you can actually see that over your giant ass plane that is in the middle of the screen obscuring your view.  Which I didn't until my twentieth strafing run there.
*final target explodes, screen acts like a nuclear missile hit the island or something*
Umm, okay... what did I just take out?

Time: 1'58"
Hit Rate: 7%
Damage Rate: 0%
Evaluation: Three stars

Special Mission
Ok... wait, what did that briefing say?  What am I doing now? 
*flies around, nothing in sight*
Ummm, hmm.  Wait, there's something off in the distance...
*fly up on two ICBMs*
Fuck, they're moving in a straight line and I still can't hit them.  Damn this squirrely ass movement.  Just. Hit.  It. 
*time expires right as I have the second missile in my sights*
*briefing tells me all ICBMs were successfully destroyed*
-uuu... wait, what?  Okay, I guess that was a bonus mission or something?

Mission Three
*mission briefing informs me that the enemy (whoever they are) has attacked THE ENTIRE MIDDLE EAST AND GAINED AIR SUPERIORITY* 
The entire Middle East?  Holy shit.   I guess Israel and Saudia Arabia (and Egypt and Turkey and Jordan...) all went on vacation.  I understand beating Iran and Iraq's dumpy ass forces, but the US allies?  Horse.  Shit. 
*missions starts
Okay this is a return to the style of the first mission. 
*mow down enemies that keep spawning directly in front me*
Fuck yeah, that's the way to succeed in this game.
*missile blows me apart as I dodge directly into its path*
Shit.  Okay that definitely proves that even with flares you need to get out of the missile's path in order to be safe.  Good to know.
*continue shooting down bogeys until a missile blows me to pieces from 3 o'clock*
Well fuck me.  I shouldn't have even been anywhere near that one.  Am I using flares too early?  Now I have one life remaining and there is almost certainly a boss waiting at the end of this mission.
*another missile ignores my flares and disintegrates me*
WHAT IS HAPPENING?  Did this game just throw me a massive curveball, or are the demands on flare usage just much tighter this time out?  This is definitely putting a damper in my confidence in beating this title.

Eighth attempt
*enemies get chopped apart in rapid succession as I start to hit my stride with the game*
Okay, new rule of thumb.  When I hear the missile alarm I watch my minimap and then unload TWO flares once it gets close.  Sick of that shit ruining my runs. 
*I notice that I'm not actually dumping two flares with each engagement*
So wait, one flare is good enough, you just have to wait until the missile is on top of you before you use it?  I feel dumb, because that seems pretty obvious.
*enemy boss shows up, I have yet to take any damage to this point* 
Okay, bring it you asshole.
*he immediately peppers me with vulcan fire from my six*
Well that is some cheap ass bullshit.
*long drawn out dogfight takes place*
Wait, you have indicators for the health of each section of your plane?  Considering you usually die in one hit, what is even the point? 
*enemy ace crashes into me head on right before I run out of fuel.  He's fine, I'm dead*
Okay, two lives left.  Not time to panic... yet. 
*I accidently do a loop-de-loop somehow*
Whoah.  Okay, that's a thing.  Should I have been doing that this whole time?
*we fly around for anther couple minutes, unable to damage one another*
Wow this is getting annoying.  He's moving around so goddamn much, how am I supposed to get a bead on him?  If I run out of fuel I'm gonna be pissed. 
*he eventually lines him up directly in front of me and I melt him in a barrage of fire*
Oh thank Christ.  That was tense.

Time: 6:43
Hit Rate: 13%
Damage Rate: 100%
Evaluation: Two stars

Mission Four
*another ground assault where I need to destroy an airfield*
Okay, this time it's a night mission, which looks pretty cool.  In fact, these ground missions are super sweet looking.  If only Star Fox had had these sorts of missions.  I guess Star Fox 64 sort of did.  Fuck, what am I doing, pay attention man... 
*I move in for the kill, while the "ground" starts going apeshit just like last time* 
Jesus Christ, I swear to god these maps go from looking awesome to looking like they're trying to tear themselves apart within seconds.  Is this a bug?  Did they not know how to program the Mode 7? 
*after I finish up my second pass a percentage displayed in my HUD reads 70%*
Okay, so maybe I need to hit the runaway at a parallel angle so I can tear it up in one long pass? 
*on the third pass I tear into the target, dropping it to 40%*
Yep, that's the secret to this. 
*fuel drops to 50%*
God I fucking hate fuel management. 
*make my fourth run, anti-air fire blazing by me in every direction, lighting up the screen, while the target drops to 30%*
I still have to admit these levels look cool as fuck, even with all the texture tearing or whatever it is that's going on when I get close to the ground.  This could have been a great game.  I wonder if the sequel is very heralded...
*make my fifth run, but nothing is "taking" and the percentage isn't dropping, ending with a desperation crash into the end of the runaway after pulling up much too late*
Shit.  What am I supposed to do?  Are the AA guns part of my objective?  I'm down to one life, can I really afford to waste a run targeting them? 
*I choose to continue going after the airstrip, and unleash my now resupplied napalm and missiles, dropping it to 10%*
Okay, one more run, maybe two.  I got this. 
*on my next run the runaway is immediately finished off*
Perhaps missiles are the only thing that is effective against it?

Time: 3:23
Hit Rate: 8%
Damage Rate: 100%
Evaluation: Three stars

Special Mission
*kill more ICBMs*
Okay, I know what to do this time.
*I try to line them up in my sights, but only three of the four targets drop before the strict time limit is over* 
Man, fuck these missions.  Maybe if I had an opportunity to practice them.

Mission Five
*another air battle, this time set at night*
Oh, I can actually see the enemy targets against the dark backdrop now, very nice. 
*I maintain my strategy from mission three, focusing on whatever spawns in front of me*
Man these dogfights are already getting repetitive.  Could be worse though.  I could be stuck engaging each one for several minutes at three frames per second like in WarpSpeed
*after easily defeating the required 30 enemies the ace finally shows up*
Shit, these dogfights are easy now.  And I wasted all those lives and continues early on.  I guess I could give this another serious attempt later tonight if I hit a game over.  The game is fun enough.
*after a couple minutes the ace takes me down with a missile*
I did not touch him a single time.  Shit.  Did I just hit a brick wall here?  One continue left...

Ninth attempt
*mow through enemies, but at a slightly slower rate this time* 
Not good...
*fuel runs out 2/3 of the way through* 
What the shit?  Was I burning fuel faster?  Was my progress that much slower?
*reach the enemy ace again, but after a few minutes he shoots me down.  I have yet to touch him*
*I finally get on his six and unleash everything I have*
I still can't hit him!
*he shoots me down*
...*sigh*  Fun game, but fuck me.

Did I beat it?
Fuck me.

402 - The Blues Brothers

Okay, so I had this really terrible idea where I would come up with a poem for one of my reviews.  Mostly just to be different; I don't like poetry, you don't like poetry, I don't like to write it, and no one wants to read it.  But with 714 (give or take) reviews I need to find ways to keep things fresh.  But the poem didn't pan out because I kept putting it off because I didn't want to do it.  And then I got to this game, and thought "hey, why not do one of the songs from the movie, but change the lyrics to be all Super Nintendoey or something?"  That's kind of like the same idea, right?

So I did that.  And the end result was major fucking cringe.  Bad, bad stuff.  I had lines referncing Rawhide, Carrie Fisher's drug problems, nuns, and demolished malls.  It was completely nonsensical, but in a bad way.  And most importantly of all, it was not funny. So I made the tough decision to cut my losses once and for all and scrap it.

Of course after doing that I no longer have a review.  I'm trying to get this thing posted, and I have absolutely nothing for The Blues Brothers.  So you're gonna get the Cliff's Notes version of the game, as I come up with it over the next ten minutes:

- It's a platformer, where Jake and Elwood appear to be travelling through Candyland (or possibly the land of Honalee), trying to recover their missing vinyl records and jukeboxes.
- Occasionally you ride magic dragons for some reason.
- Other times you fight giant mushroom men and giant birds.
- Sometimes you take steroids so you can get all jacked up and invincible.
- Everything I just wrote up above leads me to believe that the game's subtext is that the whole thing takes place inside the mind of Jim Belushi, where you're battling his drug-induced demons and neuroses.

And uh... yeah, that's kinda it.  36 levels of getting the boys from one end to the other, jumping on enemies, dodging spiky things, shooting up, and doing things that have absolutey nothing to do with the property it's licensed from.  And you know what?  It's not bad at all.  It's an alright game in fact.  I play through it all the time, so it must be doing something for me.  I just don't know exactly what that is.  Did they waste the source material?  Probably; car chases and bazooka-wielding crazy women would have been more fun.  But I try not to hold that against the game too much.

Did I beat it?
Yes, many times over the years.

401 - Obitus

This game in a nutshell, from the GameFAQs walkthrough:

Oh, Obitus, how I have wrestled over what to do with you these last couple of years.  Are you a total trainwreck?  A hot goofy mess?  A fun little unorthodox action game?  A guilty pleasure?  All of the above?  I'm not sure I've figured out the answer to that yet.  I just know that no other game, including NHL Stanley Cup, confounded me as much as this one did when I was doing my rankings.  We're talking movements of hundreds of spots here.  Multiple times.  That's how mixed my feelings for it are.

A port of some old PC game (or maybe MAC, or Amiga, I dunno), Obitus can best be described as an action RPG dungeon crawler similar to something like Dungeon Master.  But without the RPG part...  and the dungeons are actually side-scrolling segments.  So it's an action RPG dungeon crawler without the RPG, or the dungeon crawling.  Really, it's not much for action either.  So I guess I don't have any idea what it is.  I'm not making any sense, am I?

Anyways, whatever it is, you start out in some tower with nothing to your name but some food on the ground and a nearby key.  In front of you are four doors, each facing a different direction.  The goal of the game is to find a gem behind each door and bring it back to the tower.  Once you do that you become the lord of the realm or something.  I dunno, I read online that the story involves you being an English professor that was transported from Wales to a fantasy realm, but the game doesn't really ever explain any of this.

So you go through the door and wind your way through some mazelike forest labyrinths.  You also quickly discover that you're gonna need to either A) find some online maps, or B) buy some graph paper and make your own.  That is not a suggestion; this game would be literally impossible otherwise.

As you wander this forest maze you will come across daggers and arrows, both of which represent your only real way of fighting enemies.  And combat happens in real time; enemies will appear in front of you, and you'll fire weapons into their face until they die.  Since your character takes roughly one trillion hits to die, the bigger threat is using up all of your ammo.  In fact that appears to be the most important resource in this game, because as far as I can tell there is a very finite amount of ammunition, and a very infinite amount of enemies.

As you continue to travel through the maze, killing cavemans (wildings?), and picking up apples and arrows, you'll eventually run into some NPCs.  These guys (and girls) serve a number of purposes, including relaying information, trading you goods, or dropping treasure once defeated.  But really all you want to do is kill them all.  Like, seriously, just kill everyone.  Hence the FAQ blurb up above.  Which means that the typical sequence of events involving NPCs is as follows: they offer to trade you something, you shoot them in the face with arrows, you rob their corpse of the goods, and piss on their grave (I'm making an assumption on that last part).  That's basically every encounter with another person in this game.

Eventually after murdering everyone and wandering around for awhile, you'll make your way to one of the game's four castles.  This is where the game shifts to its other style of gameplay: side-scrolling action platformer levels.  It's an interesting idea, with some cool stuff at play... and some horribly broken mechanics as well.   For one, you can actually move between two horizontal planes here.  One of those is the foreground, and the other is the deep background.  This adds almost nothing to the game, other than making the castles feel slightly more three dimensional.  You also, for some reason, use up stamina at like twenty times the normal rate here.  Why?  I have absolutely no idea.

Oh, right.  I should probably stop for a second here and explain a few things...

- You have to manage both health and stamina.  Health is restored by eating food or potions, while stamina constantly depletes and has to be restored by sleeping.  This is a bitch, and I'll explain why later on.
- There are no RPG elements.  No XP, no levels, no stats, no gear, no skills, nothing.  Just an inventory of items.  And your health and your stamina.
- There are also no parties or other playable characters.  It's just you as the professor, and the legions of fodder for your arrows.

Sorry.  Anyways, what was I saying?  Oh, right.  So while you're in these castles that stamina is constantly depleting at a hyper-accelerated rate.  And the only thing you can do to recover is sleep.  Except you cannot sleep in the castles for some reason.  Which means you have no choice but to beeline to your objectives, and race back out before your stamina is empty, because when that happens your health also starts to rapidly drain.

The problem with that though, is that most of the castles are too big to allow you to make a clean run through them.  You have no choice but to venture in far enough to get the key items hidden within, and you will drain a serious amount of health doing so.  So you have to use healing items to recover your health, after you sleep to recover your stamina.  Yet herein lies the rub.  You see, when you sleep random enemies will constantly spawn to attack you and interrupt your recovery.  So you have to use arrows and daggers to kill them.  Except daggers and arrows are in limited supply, and if you run out you are fucked with a capital F.  So you need to avoid fighting anything.  But if you avoid fighting you're gonna take damage.  And you're already trying to recover your stamina so that you can recover your health.  So you're fighting to recover the thing you need to recover the other thing, which is costing you both things. 

But that's not even the worst part.  You see, you also have a limited supply of heals.  If you run out of those you are, once again, screwed with that big ol' capital F. 

So long story short, don't fuck around, get the things you need to get, spam saves, and pray you get some sleeping in so that you can recover your stamina so that you can use your items to heal.  And reload if none of that works out.  Or rely on an exploit of sorts where you can trick the game into halting all enemy spawns by parking yourself in the face of an NPC while you rest.  Assuming you didn't murder all of them already, which you probably did thanks to my advice.

And that's basically the game in a nutshell.  My first time trying to play through it ended in disaster, as I ended up hopelessly lost, couldn't successfully recover my stamina, grew infuriated by the endlessly spawning enemies, and threw up my hands in defeat.  When I relented and came back with online help in hand, I had a much better time.  And it kind of made me appreciate what I think the game was going for.

You see, the game was obviously designed with things like drawing maps and taking notes in mind.  But not only that, I think it was designed to make the player fail the first time or two through.  You shouldn't know where to go, and you should run out of weapons, which will leave you in an unwinnable situation.  So that on your next attempt you can learn from your mistakes and get closer to your goal.  Since the entire game is only a few hours long, I imagine that is exactly what players did back in the day.

Of course that doesn't excuse the game for what many would call archaic designs, or even outright shortcomings.  And there are a bunch of other little annoyances that I'll make quick note of:

- Enemies can spawn behind you, trapping you if you are talking to an NPC in the middle of a path.  The only option is reloading (or quickly killing the NPC).
- Enemies constantly spawn, especially when resting.  But they can usually be lost if you move slightly away from them and then rest again.  Of course another one will probably spawn within seconds.  Baby steps I guess.
- The inventory management is pretty horrific.  You have to slowly cycle through dozens of items or use the super clunky sub menu on another screen.

Overall?  It's a fatally flawed game in some ways, that I rather enjoyed anyways, as nonsensical as that may sound.  I wrestled with where to rank it repeatedly, all the way up until the posting of this review, just because of what a dichotomy the game represents.  It's horribly limited, and small in scope compared to other similar games.  But it's goofy charms won me over in a way.  Maybe I'm just easy to please.  But where else do you walk around showering everything and everyone you meet with arrows to the face?

[I think you meant to rank this game at #601   - editor]

Did I beat it?
I did.  My first attempt flamed out, and my second attempt was the victim of a lost save file, but my third attempt was led to victory thanks to online maps and an FAQ.


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

Edited: 06/16/2019 at 10:12 PM by Brock Landers

May 12 at 11:34:08 PM
Brock Landers (56)
< Wiz's Mom >
Posts: 11482 - Joined: 05/04/2014
Federated States of Micronesia


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

Edited: 05/12/2019 at 11:38 PM by Brock Landers

May 13 at 5:37:16 AM
skinnygrinny (66)
(a.k.a. the grinder. kobra kai! 42 foot tapeworm. Dragon kid. Sqoon kid. Surfer brah!) < Bowser >
Posts: 7359 - Joined: 12/08/2013
Hey I read the game shows and nm/nh.

I played a shit ton of NM as a kid. Rented it a lot. Who was the other guy in that game? Schumacher?

 2016 - weekly contest "trash talker"

"...fated to pretend" - M.G.M.T.

May 13 at 10:35:53 AM
captmorgandrinker (569)
< Bonk >
Posts: 17760 - Joined: 08/17/2009
Archie vs Predator is indeed a thing:

I'll never look at Palamedes the same way again!

May 13 at 12:35:50 PM
KrakenSoup (48)
(Mike ) < Bowser >
Posts: 6276 - Joined: 01/27/2014
New York
Yet another great read. Keep em coming! Can't wait for the next one!

May 13 at 12:39:27 PM
Brock Landers (56)
< Wiz's Mom >
Posts: 11482 - Joined: 05/04/2014
Federated States of Micronesia
Originally posted by: captmorgandrinker

Archie vs Predator is indeed a thing:

Originally posted by: KrakenSoup

Yet another great read. Keep em coming! Can't wait for the next one!
Thank you.  I only have 2 games partially written up for VIII, so between that and the summer schedule I'm gonna a guess it will be 4+ months.



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

May 13 at 12:46:48 PM
KrakenSoup (48)
(Mike ) < Bowser >
Posts: 6276 - Joined: 01/27/2014
New York
Originally posted by: Brock Landers
Originally posted by: KrakenSoup

Yet another great read. Keep em coming! Can't wait for the next one!
Thank you.  I only have 2 games partially written up for VIII, so between that and the summer schedule I'm gonna a guess it will be 4+ months.
I figured as much, it's a long term project. No rush but I look forward to them when they come. Honestly these write-ups are something that keeps me coming back NA. I'm especially looking forward to the top 100 whenever you get there. I'd love to do one of these for N64 one day but I don't know how many crappy sports games I can really handle. Lol.

May 13 at 12:47:54 PM
MrPeaPod (0)
< Meka Chicken >
Posts: 703 - Joined: 01/12/2017
British Columbia
That lock on write up was great. I can imagine myself thinking the same things while playing games. Good stuff

Check out my game collection here:

May 14 at 4:07:41 PM
fox (15)
(Gunslinger Fox) < King Solomon >
Posts: 3197 - Joined: 07/12/2012
United States
Don't sleep on Ms Pac Man for SNES.  It is no simple port.  You can change the maze size, turn on turbo boosters, even play 2 players co-op (which is hilarious when you crash into each other likely sending each other into ghosts in the process.)

May 14 at 5:12:00 PM
quest4nes (147)
(jeff -) < Bonk >
Posts: 18630 - Joined: 02/21/2010
NCAA Football!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

family favorite with me and cousins. always play it for bragging rights for largest beatdown.

I returned a punt for a td once without a lucky fumble and recovery. legit punt return. If youve played the game youll understand how effin hard that is.


NES  646 (331 Manuals 319 Boxes)
Wii U 158
SNES 311
N64  189
Original Gameboy 48


May 15 at 10:48:41 AM
Andy_Bogomil (100)
(Pete ) < Bowser >
Posts: 5943 - Joined: 11/15/2012
I played Lethal Enforcers the other day... it's so slow and boring compared to later light-gun games. The graphics and sound are terrible. Still no real surprises on the list. Getting all the crappy sports and platforming games out of the way.

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

May 15 at 1:08:55 PM
TheFinder (47)
< King Solomon >
Posts: 3036 - Joined: 03/08/2015
Fantastic write ups, Brock! Always enjoy reading these!

I know it'll be a while, but I'm looking forward to the next installment, whenever it comes out!

To the Finder...
The Isle of Koholint is but an illusion...
Human, monster, sea, sky...
A scene on the lid of a sleeper's eye...
Awake the dreamer, and Koholint will vanish much like a bubble on a needle...
Cast-away, you should know the Truth!

My FS/WTB threads:

May 15 at 3:25:43 PM
ZBomber (6)
< El Ripper >
Posts: 1439 - Joined: 06/22/2015
These write ups definitely make slow days at work go faster, thanks!

Jungle Book (albeit the Genesis version) was a game I rented a lot as a kid and I don't think I ever made it past the snake either. Same with The Lion King, I never made it past level 2. I actually really want you to beat that one though so we can get the full (angry) write up. It's been a goal of mine for years to beat The Lion King, one day I will sit down and grind it out.

May 16 at 2:26:56 PM
Splain (27)
< El Ripper >
Posts: 1417 - Joined: 06/15/2016
Great installment. It's easy to rag on bad games and gush on great games, but it's actually really interesting to see the middle of the pack.

Game Boy got Wheel of Fortune and 4 Jeopardys, and they're easily the 5 worst games in the library. The timed text entry, bugs, laughable AI, and outdatedness leave no redeeming qualities.

GB also got Pinball Dreams and Fantasies, and it looks like they really tried to adapt the tables to GB for the most part, but a couple of them are just so boring. Nothing happens except the table tries to guide the ball down the unprotected channels on the sides and it's a bad experience. I should sit down and play the SNES ones. And I'm of the opinion that you shouldn't have to be a huge pinball fan to be able to enjoy a pinball video game.

May 16 at 3:04:43 PM
Andy_Bogomil (100)
(Pete ) < Bowser >
Posts: 5943 - Joined: 11/15/2012
Originally posted by: Splain

Great installment. It's easy to rag on bad games and gush on great games, but it's actually really interesting to see the middle of the pack.


As much as I like to read about these terrible games we're getting to the point where there will probably be some 'good' games thrown in here and there before we get to the top 100. It'll be interesting to see where we go from here on out although the next several will be similar... still a lot of bad games to get through.

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

May 17 at 3:08:18 AM
the tall guy (130)
(Randy the Astonishing) < Bowser >
Posts: 5651 - Joined: 05/13/2008


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

May 17 at 2:03:36 PM
glazball (20)
< Crack Trooper >
Posts: 117 - Joined: 06/25/2012
Originally posted by: ZBomber

Same with The Lion King, I never made it past level 2. I actually really want you to beat that one though so we can get the full (angry) write up. It's been a goal of mine for years to beat The Lion King, one day I will sit down and grind it out.

Really???  My little sister had The Lion King and beat it all the time.  I remember some irritating parts, but nothing on par with Ninja Gaiden or Ghosts & Goblins or whatever.

Thank you again Brock for another great installment!

glazball's game collection and wantlist

May 17 at 3:42:43 PM
ZBomber (6)
< El Ripper >
Posts: 1439 - Joined: 06/22/2015
Originally posted by: glazball
Originally posted by: ZBomber

Same with The Lion King, I never made it past level 2. I actually really want you to beat that one though so we can get the full (angry) write up. It's been a goal of mine for years to beat The Lion King, one day I will sit down and grind it out.

Really???  My little sister had The Lion King and beat it all the time.  I remember some irritating parts, but nothing on par with Ninja Gaiden or Ghosts & Goblins or whatever.

Thank you again Brock for another great installment!

The parts where you are on the ostrich and have to do double jumps is what always tripped me up specifically. I'm still not sure what I'm doing wrong in that section. Of course I usually play for about 10-15 minutes once every few years before getting frustrated at having to start back at level 1 so it's not something I've put a ton of effort into yet. I can't even say how difficult the rest of the game is because I haven't played the rest lol

It's definitely not on par with the difficulty of Ninja Gaiden or Ghosts & Goblins, and I've beaten games that are harder than The Lion King (on paper at least). I really can't explain it lol

(It's funny, but typing this out gave me a possible idea of what I might be doing wrong... I know what I'm gonna be playing when I get home from work tonight...)

EDIT: Yeah no nevermind, I have no idea how to beat this game lol

Edited: 05/17/2019 at 08:38 PM by ZBomber

May 17 at 8:26:48 PM
ALTQQ (78)
(I've lost my television remote do you know where i Should look?) < King Solomon >
Posts: 3308 - Joined: 01/24/2010
British Columbia
I personally would have ranked family feud way higher, but I love that game. It's one of my 115 remaining snes games that didn't get sold.


I lost my television remote, have you seen it?

May 18 at 7:02:26 PM
Daniel_Doyce (0)
< Meka Chicken >
Posts: 665 - Joined: 04/22/2016
Nice work, Brock. Whatever you think about Koei games, they're usually nice graphically, functionally crisp, and with decent AI given space limitations, so I can't believe the QA people didn't notice how freaking slow it is and how certain features don't seem to ever work at all. They tried to jam way too many mechanics and features into the game and it turned into a sloppy turd.

Koeinalia: A Compendium of Koei Knowledge - NES and SNES

May 18 at 8:32:08 PM
mbd39 (1)
(Michael ) < Bowser >
Posts: 6824 - Joined: 08/25/2015
Originally posted by: Daniel_Doyce

Nice work, Brock. Whatever you think about Koei games, they're usually nice graphically, functionally crisp, and with decent AI given space limitations, so I can't believe the QA people didn't notice how freaking slow it is and how certain features don't seem to ever work at all. They tried to jam way too many mechanics and features into the game and it turned into a sloppy turd.

Operation Europe looks astonishingly bad. Was it just a case of the SNES CPU being way underpowered for such a complex game? Or poor programming/design?


Reigning NA 2018 Beat Em Up Champion


May 18 at 10:37:07 PM
bronzeshield (44)
(P. ) < Lolo Lord >
Posts: 1902 - Joined: 04/12/2009
New York
Re: Operation Europe, I think the Genesis port is the same way (more or less).

I wonder if there's any chance that something got mangled in the localization process? The Japanese version has a campaign mode where you must play on the Axis side! I think it's got cutscenes, or a story, or something along those lines.

Maybe when they cut that material, something else got damaged -- some bit of code that was instrumental in making the broken functions work?

May 21 at 12:41:06 PM
Brock Landers (56)
< Wiz's Mom >
Posts: 11482 - Joined: 05/04/2014
Federated States of Micronesia
Made some fixes, and made some small Operation Europe updates.

I think the biggest problem is that the game just doesn't provide enough information. I'm sure there is a reason units refuse to move, something like (% fatigue + % morale + % commander fatigue + % terrain + % unit types) * multiplier. You just don't actually know.

And all of the other stuff could have worked, if it was properly balanced. Bombers doing 3 times as much damage, all grounds units doing x2 damage, requisitions being 300% more successfully, etc.  If someone went to the trouble to make a patch that "fixes" OE, kind of like what people have done with The 7th Saga, there would be a much better game here.


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

Edited: 05/21/2019 at 12:42 PM by Brock Landers