Game Opinion Summaries: Super Nintendo (SNES)

In the ’90s, I only had PC and Game Boy/GB Color for gaming, until I got an N64 in late ’99.  I later got a GC, but I’d missed a lot, and eventually I wanted to go back and get those systems.  The Super Nintendo was the first “classic” console that I bought — that is, the first system that I got that wasn’t currently on shelves when I got it.  I’d gotten into classic gaming first through emulation, but what the emulators really did was make me want the real thing… so, after a while, I did.  I got the system in summer 2005.  The system still works fine.  Overall, the SNES is of course a great, great console, and it’s one of my favorites; the N64 is my favorite console, and the SNES and Genesis are tied for second.

For accessories, I do have a Super Multitap, but I don’t have a Super Scope, so I can’t review the lightgun games.  I have a SNES Mouse with mousepad, though.

Top 10 (of games I own only)

1. Super Mario World
2. F-Zero
3. Super Turrican
4. Gradius III
5. Illusion of Gaia
6. Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie’s Double Trouble
7. Space Megaforce
8. Super Castlevania IV
9. Top Gear
10. The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past

Honorable Mentions (no order): Donkey Kong Country 2, Super Metroid, BlaZeon, Top Gear 3000, Jim Power: The Lost Dimension in 3D, Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island, Kirby’s Dream Course, GunForce, Street Racer, Tiny Toon Adventures: Wacky Sports Challenge, TMNT IV: Turtles in Time, Super Street Fighter II, TMNT: Tournament Fighters, Super Return of the Jedi, Mega Man X, Operation Logic Bomb, Uniracers, Super Nova

The two launch titles are my two favorite SNES games?  Heh… but it’s true.

List of Titles

The Addams Family Values
Aero the Acro-Bat
Arkanoid: Doh It Again
Battle Cars
Breath of Fire
Bugs Bunny: Rabbit Rampage
Cacoma Knight in BizyLand
California Games II
Cannondale Cup
Carrier Aces
Choplifter III
The Combatribes
Daffy Duck: The Marvin Missions
Darius Twin
Super Nova
Donkey Kong Country
Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy’s Kong Quest
Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong’s Double Trouble
Faceball 2000
Fatal Fury 2
FIFA Soccer ’97
Final Fight 2
Final Fight 3
First Samurai
Full Throttle: All-American Racing
Gemfire (covered in brief only)
Goof Troop
Gradius III
GunForce: Battle Fire Engulfed Terror Island
Hal’s Hole in One Golf
Hyper Zone
Illusion of Gaia
The Incredible Crash Dummies
Indiana Jones’ Greatest Adventures
Inspector Gadget
Jim Power: The Lost Dimension in 3D
Joe & Mac: Caveman Ninja
Jurassic Park
Jurassic Park 2: The Chaos Continues
Justice League Task Force
Kawasaki Carribean Challenge
Killer Instinct
King of the Monsters 2
Kirby Super Star
Kirby’s Dream Course
Kirby’s Dream Land 3 (covered in brief only)
Knights of the Round
Kyle Petty’s No Fear Racing
Lamborghini American Challenge
Legend of the Mystical Ninja
The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
The Lion King
Magic Sword
The Magical Quest starring Mickey Mouse
The Great Circus Mystery starring Mickey & Minnie
Mario Paint
MechWarrior 3050
Mega Man X
Mohawk and Headphone Jack
NBA Jam: Tournament Edition
Newmann Haas’ Indy Car featuring Nigel Mansell
NHL ’96 (covered in brief only)
The Ninja Warriors
Operation Logic Bomb
Out To Lunch
Pac-Man 2: The New Adventures
Paperboy 2
The Peace Keepers
Phantom 2040
Populous (covered in brief only)
Porky Pig’s Haunted Holiday
Power Piggs of the Dark Age
Power Rangers Zeo: Battle Racers
Prehistorik Man
Raiden Trad
Road Runner: Death Valley Rally
Rock ‘n Roll Racing
Roger Clemens’ MVP Baseball
Secret of Mana
Shadowrun (covered in brief only)
Skiing and Snowboarding: Tommy Moe’s Winter Extreme
Space Invaders
Space Megaforce
Spanky’s Quest
Speedy Gonzales: Los Gatos Banditos
Star Fox
Street Racer
Stunt Race FX
Sunset Riders
Super Adventure Island
Super Battletank 2
Super Bomberman
Super Bonk
Super Castlevania IV
Super Chase H.Q.
Super E.D.F. — Earth Defense Force
Super Ghouls ‘N Ghosts
Super Mario All-Stars
Super Mario Kart
Super Mario World
Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island
Super Metroid
Super Nova
Super R-Type
Super Star Wars
Super Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
Super Star Wars: Return of the Jedi
Super Street Fighter II: The New Challengers
Super Turrican
Super Valis IV
Suzuka 8 hours
T2: The Arcade Game
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Tournament Fighters
Tetris 2
Tetris Attack
Thunder Spirits
Tiny Toon Adventures: Buster Busts Loose
Tiny Toon Adventures: Wacky Sports Challenge
Top Gear
Top Gear II
Top Gear 3000
The Twisted Tales of Spike McFang
U.N. Squadron
Utopia: Creation of a Nation (covered in brief only)
Wario’s Woods
Wing Commander: The Secret Missions
Winter Olympic Games: Lillehammer ’94
World Heroes 2
Yoshi’s Cookie
Ys III: Wanderers from Ys

Games in the above list that I cover below, but really have not played enough to say too much about: Gemfire, Kirby’s Dream Land 3, NHL ’96, Populous, Shadowrun, Utopia

[Games not in the above list I do mention in brief because I have them in other formats (modern remakes or rom collections), but not in their original SNES releases:
Final Fantasy IV, V, and VI
Mega Man X2, X3, 7, and Mega Man & Bass
Super Turrican 2

I start each game’s listing with mentions of how many players the game supports, whether it supports saving (password or battery), and whether it supports any special controllers (mouse, Super Scope lightgun).  Games are SNES exclusive unless noted (at the end of the review).  I wrote something for every game, whether or not I’ve played it much.  The following games are games I’ve barely played, so the below summary should not be considered to be anything other than very early impressions: FIFA ’97, HAL’s Hole in One Golf, Populous, NHL ’96, Utopia: The Creation of a Nation.  I also decided to italicize game names for titles I’ve finished in some way — that is to say, gotten to the end and presumably seen the credits.  I know that this is unfair, because a fighting game can be “finished” in half an hour while RPGs can take dozens of hours, but I’m going to do it anyway.


ActRaiser – One player, battery save.  ActRaiser is a hybrid platform-action and building sim game where you play as a god’s avatar, sent down to the planet to save it from evil monsters and raise up the people’s civilization.  Yeah, the game has a good concept, and it’s executed well.  A popular classic, ActRaiser well deserves its good reputation, and is indeed a good game.  I’ll address each part separately.  Most of your time in ActRaiser will be spent in the platformer game.  Indeed, the harder second quest only includes the action parts, unfortunately (the same is true for ActRaiser 2).  The game is a good but not great platformer, with early-gen graphics and extremely stiff controls, but some solid level designs and game design.  The controls definitely take some getting used to and could be better for sure, but still, the game looks nice enough and does play well once you get used to it.  The difficulty level is balanced decently; the game is challenging, but not too hard.  In between action levels, you play a basic sim game.  Here, you have to build a town in each area.  You can build housing blocks, send people to fight monsters, and more, as you fill each area with civilization.  Unfortunately the sim part of the game is extremely easy and basic, so don’t expect much of any challenge here.  Still, it’s fun, and it gives you a nice break between the action parts.  It’s too bad that they didn’t put a tougher sim mode in the second quest.  Also on Wii Virtual Console.

The Addams Family Values – One player, password save.  The Addams Family Values is a top-down action-adventure game starring Fester of the Addams Family.  It’s based off of the movie of the same name.  I’ve never watched the Addams Family movies, and didn’t watch the TV show either really, but I know they were popular back in the early ’90s.  I got this game because I’d heard it was an action-adventure game, which sounded more interesting than the generic platformers that make up most of the movie-license library out there.  It feels a bit like a Zelda game, which is cool.  The game’s not as good as Zelda, of course, but it’s alright.  You talk to people, get items, explore dungeons, fight monsters, etc.  There are puzzles to deal with as well, of course.  The game is unoriginal, but plays reasonably well.  The cartoony art style is reminiscent of Link to the Past, crossed with The Addams Family of course.  You attack with lightning, but as your health goes down your range decreases.  Yeah, this game is hard, as you might expect from Ocean.  Other than that attack system, it’s also very easy to get lost with no idea what to do next; consider using a walkthrough with this game.  It does have pretty good music, as expected from Ocean.  This is one of Ocean’s better games, though, and it even has password save!  Amazing, why couldn’t they have put that in Jurassic Park and JP: The Chaos Continues… they badly needed it.  At least this game has it, though.  The feeling that this is an LttP knockoff never fades, as the graphics and gameplay make it clear that that is exactly what it is, but at least it’s a decently good knockoff.  Try it if you like the genre.

Aero the Acro-Bat – One player, password save.  Aero the Acro-Bat is a fairly generic mascot platformer from Sunsoft.  The first of a three game series, this one is the only one of the three that’s common, while the last one, Zero, is somewhat rare.  This game’s not too remarkable, though, and doesn’t stand out from the crowd.  Still, Sunsoft could make some pretty good games, and this one is okay at least.  You play as an anthropomorphic bat, so yes, this is one of the Sonic-inspired games that were so common in the 4th generation.  The game starts in a circus, as the name suggests.  I don’t find this game particularly interesting, but there are much worse games out there too.  Run, jump, float, make your way through the levels, etc.  Also on Genesis and Wii Virtual Console.

Aladdin – One player, password save.  This is the Capcom Aladdin platformer, not the Sega one.  Unlike that game, this one’s exclusive to just this platform (the Genesis game is also on GB, PC, and GBA).  I think that the Genesis game is quite a bit better than this one, but still, this is a decent, fun platformer.  The game has good graphics and sound, as usual from Capcom.  Aladdin doesn’t do anything original, but it does have solid, standard platformer gameplay.  You defeat enemies by jumping on them (no sword here, unlike Sega’s game) or throwing apples at them (oddly, both games have apples as the main ranged weapon).  I do like that this one has password save; Sega’s doesn’t save, and has limited continues too.  This allows them to make this game a bit longer than the Genesis game, though the difficulty level is probably a little lower.  However, the main problem I have with this game is that while it’s decent fun, it’s just not nearly as original, or great, as the Genesis game is, and while I love Aladdin the movie, and do like this game, it’s far behind in second as far as Aladdin games go.

Arkanoid: Doh It Again – One player, password save, has SNES Mouse support.  Arkanoid: Doh it Again is, as you’d expect, a sequel to the classic arcade blockbreaking game Arkanoid.  While early games in this genre like the original Breakout bore me, the original Arkanoid was a favorite arcade game of mine, and I’ve always loved the genre that it created as well.  Arkanoid was an outstanding game — it took Breakout’s concept, but added in so many badly needed features, like vastly improved ball and block-hitting physics, enemies, powerups, better graphics, and more.  This game is essentially more of the same, but with graphics a lot more like the arcade original’s visuals than the NES version of the first game was.  Unlike that game, however, there isn’t a paddle controller (on the NES in the US, it’s called the “Vaus Controller; it’s rare, but awesome).  However, the game does have mouse support, and it’s really good — I highly recommend playing this game with the mouse!  With the mouse, you get good, smooth control, and the game plays great.  This game is not particularly original; really, it’s more Arkanoid, but with SNES-level visuals; but still, it’s a great game.  Plus, it does have passwords, so you don’t need to play the whole thing at once.  This was a very late release in the US (1997), but it did get here, and I’m happy that it did.  Anyone who likes this genre should consider this game a must have for the SNES, along with a mouse of course.

Axelay – One player.  Axelay is a shmup, and it was the second and last SNES Konami shmup released in the US, along with Gradius III.  In Japan they released four other titles, including one Twinbee game and three Parodius games, and Europe got two of those four games, but the US got none at all, sadly.  Instead, we only got the two traditional space shooters, not any of the cute-styled ones.  Unfortunate.  Anyway though, Axelay is a pretty good shmup.  It isn’t one of my favorite SNES shmups, as I think the game has a bit more focus on its visuals than it does its gameplay, but still, it is a very good game overall.  Axelay has six levels.  Three are vertical-scrolling, and three horizontal.  The vertical levels are visually amazing, with a really impressive “3d” effect that makes it look like the screen is curving upwards.  Really impressive stuff.  The scaling is well done as well.  However, the side-view levels just aren’t quite as interesting, and while they look good, they aren’t amazingly impressive as the vertical ones are.  More vertical levels in this game would have been great.  As for weapons, in Axelay you have three weapons.  They behave differently in the two different level types, but essentially you are working with these three guns. My favorite is the one with two streams of fire that you can sort of adjust (they go up the screen as you hold down the button, and back down as you let go).  When you take a hit, instead of dying you lose your current weapon.  Once all three are down and you’re down to just the basic shot, the next hit will lose a life.  Of course, crashing into things will lose a life instantly.  The system works well.  But with only maybe half as many levels as Gradius III, and levels that are similar in length to that game’s levels or shorter, and with side-view levels that just aren’t as good as either the other half of this game, or anything in Gradius III, Axelay disappoints me a bit.  Even the vertical scrolling levels could have better level designs; they’re great, but there are better vertical shooters on the system.  Still, I like that there are obstacles in this game — far too many vertical shooters have nothing you can run into other than enemies.  This game has walls, rock faces, and more, which is great.  Still though, overall, Axelay is a very good game, and the vertical levels are a real visual showcase, but the gameplay doesn’t quite live up to the graphics.

Battle Cars – Two player simultaneous.  I made a review thread for Battle Cars after playing it, and for good reason: this is a good, and very little-known, futuristic Mode 7 racing game.  The game was made by a Namco of America internal team, and was a US-exclusive release.  And yes, it’s one of the SNES’s few games that clearly was inspired by F-Zero crossed with Rock n Roll Racing, though that game actually released after this one.  Though the visuals are good and highly reminscent of F-Zero, the game’s not the same as F-Zero in gameplay — this game is combat-focused.  You have weapons in Battle Cars, and shooting at the other cars is one of the major focuses of the action.  The game has no saving, so you need to play 20+ races in one sitting (or without turning the system off, because you do get infinite continues), which is a pain, but I found it more than fun enough to be worth it!  There’s even a co-op campaign, which is awesome.  You get a better ending for each difficulty level from Easy to Hard, too.  One player mode is fullscreen, two player splitscreen.  There are two races on each of the ten planets, the first a cross-country race where your goal is to get to the end within the time limit, and the second a boss race where you must beat the boss to the finish line.  You can also buy items and weapons for the three different weapon types in the shop accessible between races.  Oddly enough you buy car upgrades with money from kills, and weapon upgrades with credits from finishing with extra time on the clock — the two are not pooled.  Odd.  The game can be difficult, but the fun factor is high.  The game has some flaws, including the uneven difficulty level, odd double money system, and the sometimes high challenge, but is pretty fun overall, and I highly recommend it for anyone with any interest in the genre, or SNES racing games.  For more see my thread ; I recommend that you do, because this game is a forgotten classic of the futuristic racing genre.  It has some issues, but it’s a great game overall.  (One final note: This game had both Chris Senn, later of Sega’s STI, and Ken Lobb, later at Nintendo and then Microsoft, working on it.  Huh.)

BlaZeon – One player.  BlaZeon is a shmup from Atlus.  While the game is generally regarded as average at best, I love BlaZeon, and in fact it’s one of my favorite SNES shmups.  BlaZeon has an incredible soundtrack that is one of the system’s standouts, decent to good graphics, and little slowdown.  Sure, that last one is because it’s very slow paced, but still, it doesn’t have much slowdown.  The game also has some cool features like partially destructible ships — many enemies have a couple of break points, so if you hit one on the lower part you’ll knock out the lower gun first.  But the biggest criticsm that the game gets is that it is slow, and this is true; Blazeon is at times a glacially slow-paced game, and there are parts where a full 30 seconds can go by without a single enemy appearing on screen, but don’t mistake this for an easy game; while Blazeon isn’t one of the hardest SNES shmups, it’s a tough game that will present a good challenge.  The game is pattern-based, and enemies come at you in pretty much the same way each time, so there’s plenty to learn and think about.  The core mechanic in Blazeon is that while there are no traditional powerups, instead your secondary gun can disable certain types of enemy robots (“Bio-Cyborgs”, as the manual calls them) and if you then fly over that enemy, you will take over that ship.  Each of the seven types of hijackable robots have a different weapon type, each with its own strengths and weaknesses.  They also give you extra hits, as your main ship dies in one hit, but these can take several before they’ll blow up, and even then your ship will survive, until it gets hit afterwards of course.  Bio-Cyborgs start out at full attack power, but if you get hit once, it’ll go to half strength.  Some are better than others at this point, so be careful, and try to avoid damage!  The ship you have will carry over from level to level, so if you want to keep one of the rarer ones, don’t get hit, and you will.  On that note, yes, some, weaker, Bio-Cyborgs are more common, while some of the better ones are rare.  There’s one that appears only once in the game, for instance.  It’s well worth the effort to take though, those mines are really useful.  BlaZeon’s levels are long, and most levels have several bosses.  If you die, you will be sent back a long way.  Sometimes it’s a long, long way, with how long hte levels are and how slowly you travel through them.  Apart from the last level, which is VERY long and extremely tough to finish, I don’t mind this at all; the slow pace just gives me more time to listen to the great music.  The levels mostly use familiar themes, such as an attacking giant battleship, a dump, asteroids in space, and more, but it’s all well done and the game holds my interest, beginning to end.  This is a game I keep going back to, as much for the quite good, somewhat strategic gameplay, and partially for the music.  Recommended.  Arcade port.  Apart from those rare bits of slowdown, the only major change in the SNES version is that the arcade version’s nice ending was cut out and replaced with a … very basic … one.  Yeah, the arcade version is more satisfying to finish for sure.  Still, otherwise it’s a very accurate port of this great game.

Breath of Fire – One player, battery save.  Breath of Fire is the first of a series of five RPGs from Capcom in a series that lasted from the SNES to the PS2.  There’s also a GBA remake of this game out there, though I haven’t played it myself.  This game is one of only a couple traditional, menu-based JRPGs that I own for the SNES, and I wasn’t sure if I’d like it at all, given my frequent issues with the genre; I just do not like the constant, tedious grind that is your average JRPG.  I’d rather actually be challenged (and not just by “will my store of healing items survive the flood of random battles”), and I much prefer strategic combat as well.  Still, this game’s okay; I got a ways into it, and was actually enjoying myself.  It’s a simplistic game, with a very simple combat system and nothing particularly original about the basic design, but the graphics are decent, the story a slightly original version of the average, and the battles straightforward.  Things like the bird-people are cool too, you don’t always see that.  The gameplay is standard, as you wander around, explore the world and dungeons, and follow the story, but it works.  Unfortunately this is one of a bunch of SNES games which now has a dead battery in the cart, but I would like to play it again sometime.

Bugs Bunny: Rabbit Rampage – One player.  This game is a somewhat disappointing platformer from Sunsoft.  For some reason, Sunsoft’s Game Boy Looney Tunes games were almost all really good, but their SNES ones are much more mixed in quality.   This game is one of the negative examples that shows that fact.  The visuals are great in this game, but unfortunately, the gameplay is too flawed for me to have much fun here.  But I should start with the positives.  Bugs Bunny: Rabbit Rampage has pretty good graphics, nice animations, and a good amount of variety.  There’s plenty of classic Looney Tunes humor in this game too, which is great.  The game and level designs are mostly standard stuff, with enemies to kill, platforms to jump between, etc.  However, this game has large levels, and it can be a pain to explore them with the too-short draw distance; you just can’t see far enough ahead to be able to really deal with the enemies.  Your attacks have a short range too, and the hit detection has some issues.  The overall results are annoying and not fun.  The lack of saving is bad too, passwords would be great.  This game is okay, I think, but certainly nothing more than that.  I don’t think it’s really worth playing, even for a Looney Tunes fan like me.  There are plenty of good 4th gen Looney Tunes games out there; weaker ones like this aren’t worth the frustration.

Cacoma Knight in BizyLand – Two player alternating.  Cacoma Knight in BizyLand is a not-too-well-known Qix clone, essentially.  Like the classic ’80s arcade game Qix, in Cacoma Knight you move around the edges of a single-screen-per-level playfield, while enemies move around inside.  If you hold down the button, you can move across the field, cutting off a section and revealing the land underneath.  You can only move on the edge, and can’t be hurt when on the edge, but when moving through the field (while holding the button), if either you or the line you’re leaving behind that still is only touching the edge on one side comes in contact with an enemy, you’ll lose a life.  You beat the level when a high enough percentage Yeah, it’s Qix.  The game also has some powerups and items to find, though in this game, they are hidden — you’ll only find them if you happen to take the correct parts of the screen where the items are you’ll get them, otherwise tough luck.  I wish that the items weren’t so randomly placed.  The game has a silly little fantasy story; you play as either a girl or a boy travelling through a fantasy kingdom, trying to get their wish granted by rescuing the princess that has been kidnapped by the badguys, or something like that.  This game feels like it was made for kids in tone, title, and graphics, and isn’t one of the harder Qix games for sure, but Qix fans should play it anyway, because it’s something a little different, and is fun to play even if it isn’t that hard most of the time.  The game does get tougher farther in, and the last levels will take some practice to win, but overall Cacoma Knight is easy for a Qix-style game. Recommended, but you’ll beat it quickly.  Consider this Qix-lite.

California Games II – Two players.  This is a somewhat mediocre sequel to the popular-at-the-time extreme sports compilation title California Games. I heard a lot about California Games, but rarely actually played it myself as a kid, so I don’t have the advantage of much nostalgia here, and the games are a mixture of frustration and average or bad.  There are four games in this collection.  They tried to use the hardware here, so several of the games have “3d”-esque elements.  Unfortunately, the results are mixed.  The box shows four characters, each dressed for one of the activities, but you’re stuck in that character in that mode — there is no character choice, you just play as each character in their activity.  Kind of lame.  Some of the games are okay, but others aren’t so good.  There’s hang-gliding (boring and short), skateboard racing down fake-3d tracks (decent, but tough), jetski racing against the clock with Mode 7 tracks (it’s okay), and snowboard racing/half-pipe (not that great).  Even the better ones aren’t above average, and none are fun enough to make me want to play them enough to get good, or sometimes even to the end of the event.  The jetski part is probably the best thing here, but there are much better Mode 7 games on the SNES.  Play those instead of this disappointment.

Cannondale Cup – One player, battery save.  Cannondale Cup is an odd, original, unique, and flawed biycicle racing game.  The game uses Mode 7 with some interesting effects that make the game look like it has hills and slopes, instead of being all flat like Mode 7 usually looks.  Unfortunately, this comes at a cost: the game runs slowly.  Yeah, the framerate here is poor.  But yes, even though it sort of doesn’t look it, this game is indeed Mode 7.  The battery will save your stats, progress, times, etc. too, which is great.  This game is tough, though — I find it very, very hard to do any good at all beyond the first race or two, so the game gets really frustrating, really fast.  There’s obviously more strategy to this game than I’ve had the patience to figure out.  Course designs are challenging, too.  The game does have a decent number of tracks though, and the unique style is worth a look.  The high difficulty makes this game tough to get into, though; finishing last or next to last over and over doesn’t make me want to keep playing… still, somewhat interesting game.  It is ambitious, but it doesn’t quite live up to that ambition; the concept is cool, but the framerate and difficulty hold it back.

Carrier Aces – Two player simultaneous.  Carrier Aces is a forced-splitscreen 3d flight combat game.  In the game, either two humans, or a human and a computer, take control of planes and shoot at eachother.  There’s a training mode and seven battles to choose from, though you can play them in any order; there’s no saving or progression here.  The focus is on the flying and the dogfighting combat.  While this game isn’t overly remarkable, it is decently well made, and is somewhat fun to play.  Of course, it’s better in multiplayer than single player; multiplayer was the obvious focus of design.  Still, there is computer AI there to oppose you, if you have no one to play against, as I usually don’t.  The game has no map, but shows your speed, altitude, and fuel on screen, along with a compass heading and speed.  The graphics are decent but somewhat choppy, and the fake scaling is about on par for the system.  Since the game is 3d hitting the other planes can be challenging, so it’s satisfying when you hit.  This is an okay game, and somewhat unique for the system, but newer consoles can do this kind of game better.

Choplifter III – One player, password save.  Choplifter is a classic series of helicopter action/shooting games.  In the series, you control a helicopter, and have to rescue prisoners and bring them back to your base.  But be careful, if you get shot down with prisoners on board, those are lost and you’ll have to find others to rescue.  If too few remain to meet your quotia for the level, or if you run out of lives, you lose.  Choplifter III is the second-to-last game in the ChopLifter series; after this, the only one is the current-gen Choplifter HD (PC/PS3/360 download title).  The game plays like Choplifter, except with SNES-quality graphics, password save, some perhaps too-hard bosses, and nice variety.  The graphics are good, and I like the various environments and weapons you have to use.  As I said the game does get a bit too difficult, to the point of being quite frustrating at some points.  The password systems relieves some of the frustration, but still, it’s a tough game.  Still though, it’s fun and well designed.  THe level designs are classic Chopflifter, with reasonably large side-scrolling levels to explore, lots of planes, helicopters, tanks, gun turrets, and soldiers to shoot at, and prisoners to rescue.  Learning the levels will take time, as you try to learn how to avoid enemy fire and maneuver through teh sometimes tight spaces you have to fly through, but it’s worth it.  Overall, Choplifter III isn’t for everyone, but shmup, side-scrolling action, and Choplifter fans should definitely check it out.  It’s more flawed than Sega’s SMS Choplifter game, but it does have more content and saving, so it’s well worth playing.  (As a note, the GB/GG Choplifter III game actually is entirely different from this one; the only thing the two games really have in common is the name, and that they are decently good.)

The Combatribes – Two player simultaneous.  Main game has no saving, but you get passwords to use the other teams in versus mode as you progress.  The Combatribes is a beat ’em up from Technos.  As such, it plays somewhat like other Technos beat ’em ups like Renegade or River City Ransom.  The game is very short, with six three-screen levels making up the whole thing.  Yes, each level plays in a single three-screen arena, and there are only six beginning to end.  In each level you fight a large wave of enemies, then, once you beat them all, a boss.  The game tosses a lot of enemies at you at once at the beginning of each stage.  A few more are added once you beat some, but still, the game doesn’t use a standard fighting game setup, for sure.  The game has a nice variety of moves, with both punch and kick buttons and also some moves you can do like spins, throws, and more.  There are three characters to choose from, though all three are quite similar , and all are male; no female characters (only a female main villain, naturally).  The game is set in a futuristic, or alternate-world, New York City.  In this version of New York it’s still the ’90s, it seems, but cyborgs exist.  Your characters, and the main villains, are all apparently cyborgs.  The game doesn’t do too much with this outside of the storyline, though, so there’s no character deformation as you take damage, revealing the cyborg parts under the “skin”, as you see in, say, The Ninja Warriors.  The graphics are decent, with average art design and graphics.  At least it does have two player simultaneous, and a 1 or 2 player fighting versus mode too.  There are some short story scenes between levels as well.  The story’s basic and not very good, but it’s the amusing kind of not very good, and a game like this doesn’t really need anything more.  Overall The Combatribes is a fun, but short and simple, game.  I wish it was a bit more substantial, but still, for what it is, it’s okay.  (Oh, the game defaults to Mono sound.  Make sure to set it to Stereo in the options each time!)

Cybernator – One player.  Cybernator is a cult classic, and was moderately popular.  This game is the sequel, or side-quel, or something, to Target Earth on the Genesis.  In Japan, both games are part of the Assault Suits series.  This game was cut for its US release — a large percentage of the conversation text was stripped out — but the amount left still leaves this game with more talking than most action games on the SNES.  That’s fine, but I do find it disappointing that they cut it.  There is a fan patch that fixed the issue, but obviously you can’t use that with an official cart copy.  Anyway, as for the actual gameplay, it’s okay, but I like other games better.  Cybernator does have very good graphics, and visually is hugely improved over Target Earth, but for gameplay, I think I might like that game more… I don’t know, this is a good game, but I don’t think it’s a great game.  I know this is just opinion, but somehow the controls and game design just feel a bit off, for me, and I don’t enjoy myself enough to keep playing after a couple of missions.  I think Target Earth has better controls.  And though the graphics are a lot worse, I do like that you can see farther; Cybernator’s beautiful big sprites come at a cost of short viewing distance.  Still, this game is worth trying at least; it’s popular for a reason.  But I don’t like it quite as much as some people.

Daffy Duck: The Marvin Missions – One player, password save.  This game is another okay-but-not-great Looney Tunes game from Sunsoft.  As usual, while I love their Game Boy Daffy Duck: The Marvin Missions game, I’m much less enamored of this SNES game.  It’s just not nearly as fun, and it’s a whole lot more frustrating too.  The two games are quite different — that one’s a linear, somewhat short but tough platformer with a jetpack and some really hard jumps, while this is a longer, free-roaming platformer with a jetpack and a too-high frustration level — but while this game may be longer, it’s not as good.  In each level, you wander around looking for where to go; it’s not made clear.  The viewing distance and controls are average, as with several other of the Looney Tunes games Sunsoft published on the SNES.  I wanted to like this game, as I love the Looney Tunes and think the Duck Dodgeers/The Marvin Missions stuff is really great, but… this game is kind of frustrating to play, thanks to the controls and level designs.  Still, at least it does have passwords; that’s nice.  But overall, I recommend Sunsoft’s GB Looney Tunes games.

Darius Twin – Two player simultaneous.  Darius Twin is the first SNES Darius game, and like Darius Force/Super Nova below, it’s a SNES exclusive, not a port of the Darius arcade games.  Darius Twin is a somewhat bland game with average early-SNES graphics and sound, okay but unexciting level designs, and decent gameplay.  Darius games always have mechanical-sea-life bosses, and this game is no exception.  The bosses have nice designs, as usual from Darius.  The rest of the graphics are average, though, the music is quite bland, and the level designs are repetitive and dull.  The two player co-op mode is definitely the highlight here; otherwise, it’s not particularly exciting.  Also, unfortunately, the game has only one ending. Most Darius games have multiple endings, but this one is an unfortunate exception.  Even so, it is an okay shmup with a fair amount of challenge, branching paths along the way, and more.  The game is playable, controls decently well, and is a decent game, but gets repetitive, and I lose interest after a few levels.  The level designs, graphics, and music just are not engaging most of the time.  The sequel, below, is a much more fun game, even if it drops the two player mode.  Darius Twin does have some slowdown as well, though it’s not as bad as the most slowdown-affected SNES shmups, I think.  Overall, Darius Twin is about average, I think.  Play it for another two-player shmup option on the SNES, but otherwise, stick to the sequel.

Super Nova – One player.  Super Nova, known as Darius Force in Japan, is the second and final SNES Darius game.  It plays like Darius at its core, so the ship, weapon, powerup, and enemy systems and designs all are quite similar to other games in the series.  You get powerups by killing all the enemies in certain waves of enemies.  Make sure to get every one, they are badly needed.  Darius isn’t one of my favorite shmup series, but this is one of the better Darius games, along with Darius II (aka Sagaia) and Darius Gaiden.  The game has very good graphics and music, a high difficulty level, fast play, a decent story with multiple routes and endings (as expected in the series), and more; this is a great SNES shmup.  The game does unfortunately not have the two player co-op mode that the first SNES Darius game, Darius Twin, has, but otherwise is much improved over that title — it’s too bad about the multiplayer, but the graphics, sound, and level designs are much better and more interesting this time.  For some reason though, this game is a bit under-appreciated.  It’s much cheaper than some of the other better SNES shmups, and has some okay-to-good-but-not-great reviews, too.  Well, the game isn’t perfect, but I do think it’s pretty good.  Other than the multiplayer, I really have only one complaint, and that’s about how hard this game is.  Seriously, Super Nova is HARD!  The game is fast, there isn’t much slowdown, and there’s plenty of bullets to avoid, and you get only two continues and are sent back a long ways when you die, so the challenge here is quite high.  This is a tough game, and even on “Easy” I can’t get more than three stages into the game so far.  I’ll manage to do okay for a while, but one death and you’re doomed… starting over, with no powerups, will lead to rapid deaths.  This game can be frustrating.  Oddly though, the early bosses aren’t too hard; it’s the levels where I keep dying.  The game rewards memorization, and with time you learn the stages and obstacles and get better.  The good graphics, graphical effects like the warping backgrounds, how the screen rotates at some points in some levels, or bosses which fly in from the background, are pretty cool, and the good music helps as well.  Overall, Super Nova’s tough but great.  This is a very good game, and it’s much better than I was expecting!  Highly recommended.

D-Force – One player.  D-Force is a shmup, and it is widely hated by the shmup community.  Indeed, it’d be near the top of the list of worst SNES shmups on many shmup fans’ lists.  I do agree that it isn’t that good of a game, but I don’t completely hate it; while the game is subpar, there are worse games out there, and the game has a few interesting features.  First, the visuals.  D-Force has fairly bland graphics.  The most unique thing here is that it can zoom in and out, so the ground is somewhat pixelated because of whatever technique they used for the zooming.  However, in the main levels, you can’t change levels at will.  Instead, you’ll simply be higher in the sky initially, then you’ll go in low for the later part of the stage.  It’s disappointing, it’d have been cool if you could switch anytime.  Every couple of levels there is a bonus-ish stage which does allow you to change levels, and these levels are by far the best in the game.  There’s actually a main menu option which plays only these levels.  There aren’t enough of them and they’re definitely on the easy side, but still, this is the most fun part of this game.  As for the main game though, expect average shooting.  There are some powerups, generic-looking enemies to shoot at, the works.  There’s nothing too interesting here apart from the level-change mechanic which, again, they take away from you most of the time.  But that’s really how I see this: bland and generic, not actively awful.

Donkey Kong Country – Two player (alternating or simultaneous), battery save.  DKC is one of the SNES’s most important, and best-known, games.  I don’t know if I really need to say too much about this one — released by Rare in 1994, this game was a massive hit, an instant classic, and became one of the system’s best-selling games.  The game also helped create the fad for scanned-in computer-rendered graphics.  It is a bit more controversial today, as some people insist that this whole series is bad, but I do like it.  I don’t think that it’s the best DKC game (in that I actually differ from the consensus; DKC3 is my favorite, not 2), though, for several reasons.  Essentially, DKC1 is a simple game.  You play as Donkey and Diddy Kongs, who have to rescue Donkey’s stolen bananna hoard from the evil Kremlings.  Donkey is large, Diddy small, and this matters in the gameplay.  This game is a straightforward platformer most of the time.  The graphics are great, though not quite as good as its sequels, but the level designs are mostly straightforward.  There are a few levels which toss new ideas at you, like the mine-cart stages and the stoplight level, but most are much more straightforward than anything from either sequel.  There’s also much less to find in this game — while DKC2 and DKC3 have you collecting quite a few different things, in this game, apart from actually beating the levels ofcourse, there is only one thing that affects your completion percentage:  Whether you’ve found all of the hidden bonus areas in each level.  There are several to find per stage, and they are often well-hidden, so finding all of them without using a guide would be a quite impressive feat.  Also, the difficulty level is uneven, because the hardest parts of this game are often the beginning of each world: once you enter a world you’re stuck there, and can’t save right away but only after you reach a save point, so the challenge level of getting to the first save point or warp (so you can fly to a different level and save there) can be quite tough at times.  I was stuck for a while at the snow world because of this, but once I got to the save point, the rest was easy.  Still though, that’s all there is to it.  DKC1 is a great game, but I like the additional depth and variety the sequels added to its formula.  The first game feels somewhat barebones in comparison to its sequels.  Still though, this really is a must-play game, and it’s one of the better platformers around.  DKC has ports on the GBC and GBA, and the SNES version was on the Wii Virtual Console; the game was delisted in late 2012 for unknown reasons, but people who have it can still play it.

Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy’s Kong Quest – Two player (alternating or simultaneous), battery save.  DKC2 is the most popular game in the DKC trilogy.  It isn’t my favorite of them, as I like the third best, but it is a great, great game, and a definite classic. DKC2 has more content, more collectables, more secrets, better graphics, and more level variety than the first game has.  The graphics here really are outstanding, and show off how impressive Rare’s “ACM” technique could look.  This time you play as Diddy and Dixie, as Donkey was kidnapped.  The game abandons DKC1 and 3’s “large character and small character” mechanic in favor of two small characters, which is too bad, but at least each one has a different move, so they aren’t the same — Dixie can float with her ponytail, for instance.  I really like the added level variety in DKC2, particularly; you aren’t just running to the exit every time here as you generally were in the first game, there’s more different level types this time.  Great stuff like the underwater and mine cart stages return, but now there are interesting new stage variations to face, including some where you control new animal friends such as a bird which you play as in some (flying-based) segments.  Also expect even more barrel puzzles.  Good stuff.  Most levels are traditional platforming, but with level designs and controls this great, it’s all extremely fun to play through.  Unfortunately, the save system works exactly the same way as it does in the first game.  Kind of annoying.  DKC2 is certainly one of the best platformers of the generation.  DKC2 is also on the GBA, and the SNES version was on the Wii Virtual Console; the game was delisted in late 2012 for unknown reasons, but people who have it can still play it.  The GB game “Donkey Kong Land 2” tells the same story as this game, and has similar level themes, but the level layouts are not exactly the same, so it’s not the same game, not quite (the other two DKL games are completely original.)

Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong’s Double Trouble – Two player (alternating or simultaneous), battery save.  DKC3, released in late 1996, was the final SNES DKC game.  A somewhat under-appreciated title, DKC3 is usually considered to be in the shadow of its predecessor, but it’s my personal favorite DKC game.  DKC3 has Dixie as the small character, and Kiddy as the large one; Donkey and Diddy have both been kidnapped this time.  Sure, why not.  DKC3 has the most level variety in the series.  No more is this a simple platformer made up of go-to-the-right-while-fighting-enemies levels, as DKC1 was.  This time, you’ve got to do all kinds of things, from outrunning a sawblade in a giant tree, to dealing with a reversed-controls underwater level, to a quite tough level where you have to dodge lightning in a thunderstorm.  I love the variety in this game, there’s no other platformer quite like it.  The overworld is enhanced here too — instead of just being a simple level-select screen, this time you have an actual overworld to explore.  Very nice!  There is a lot more to collect this time, including bannana fairies in the overworld, a special enemy you must beat with a special barrel in each level, the usual hidden exits to find, and more; it’s fun.  I don’t think they went overboard with the collecting, and anyway, a lot of it is optional, and challenges like trying to figure out how to beat that special enemy in each level are a nice addition.  Also, this time you can leave a world at any time, which means no more annoying “can’t save through the first four levels” stuff — this time you can exit out to the overworld and save after every level, if you want.  That is a very welcome change.  So, overall, DKC3 is an absolutely exceptional game, and one of my favorite games on the SNES.  The graphics are even better than the previous two games, the levels more varied and even more fun, and the general game design improved.  DKC3 is platforming at its best.  Also on the GBA, and the SNES version was on the Wii Virtual Console; the game was delisted in late 2012 for unknown reasons, but people who have it can still play it.

Doom – One player (the game once had two player multiplayer via the X-Band service, but that has been offline since, oh, 1997 or so), SNES Mouse support (alternate controls if you wish).  SNES Doom is a Super FX 2 game that is a port of this all-time classic FPS.  The SNES version was done by Sculptured Software, who also did Dirt Trax FX (the one US-released Super FX game I don’t have), and while opinions on it are varied, I, at least, think it’s really good.  SNES Doom has some advantages versus other ’90s Doom ports, but also some disadvantages.  The biggest advantage is that SNES Doom isn’t based on John Carmack’s stripped-down Jaguar rendition of the game.  Instead, it’s based on the PC original.  This means that things missing from the Jaguar version and all versions based on it (3DO, 32X, PS1, Saturn, GBA) ARE in this game.  That means that SNES Doom has the map screen in between levels, the original three-episode division, the original ending text screens after each episode, the crushing ceilings, an impressive approximation of the original level designs (apart from transparent walls and grilles and such, virtually nothing is cut), the original changes in light level (ie, when a bright room turns dark, it turns dark in this version), and more.  All of those things were removed from the Jaguar version and all of its ports.  SNES Doom also has enemies display at the same brightness as their surroundings, unlike some other versions.  This means that on the SNES, an enemy in a dark room will be dim and hard to see.  On the 32X, for instance, however, enemy sprites in “dark” rooms are brightly lit, as if each enemy has a spotlight pointing at them at all times.  It completely ruins some of the suspense, compared to a more accurate version like this one.  The game also plays at an acceptable, if a bit low, framerate; this game is entirely playable and moves at a good clip for the system.  The framerate is fairly stable, at least, even if it’s not a bit slow.  SNES Doom has the worst graphics of any released version of the game, but the gameplay holds up extremely well.

SNES Doom has a total of 22 missions, which is five less than the PC game — yes, five levels were removed.  Interestingly, Sculptured Software chose to remove five levels which ARE in the Jaguar game, while including all five levels that the Jag version had cut.  Huh.  Well, why not… it’s too bad that some levels had to go, but it’s cool that by playing both this and the Jag version, you can play all of the levels from the original game.  It doesn’t have any new exclusive levels, unlike the two new levels in the Jag version, so it has two fewer total levels than that game, but at least it has five more levels than the pitifully short 32X version, and you can play through the whole game here (32X Doom cut all of Episode 3 out).  SNES Doom also has great music — these are some fantastic versions of the classic Doom songs.  Great stuff!  It’s worlds better than the pitiful audio of 32X Doom, or the no-music-at-all-ingame Jag Doom.  Of course in graphics and framerate those are better (though the game does play in a window the same size as 32X Doom’s), but in sound, this is.  SNES Doom does have one final limitation, though: which episodes you can start from depends on the difficulty level selected.  On the lower two settings, you can only start from Ep. 1.  From the mid setting (default), you can start from eps 1 or 2, but not 3.  Only on the upper two can you start from ep. 3.  This matters because this game has no saving or passwords, and no level select either.  However, there is one unique element: when you die and start a level again, instead of being reset to the pistol and 50 bullets and 100 health as you would in most Doom versions, you will start with the exact loadout you started the level with, as if you’d loaded a save file at the start of the level.  This is a unique feature in SNES Doom, andi t’s pretty cool.  It can make some levels hard, if you start with like 5 health and just a couple of bullets, but it’s much more good than bad!  32X Doom also doesn’t save, but at least has level select on the main menu for everything except for the two hidden levels, those you have to play to in one sitting to see.  All other versions of Doom save.  So yeah, this is a “leave the system on for quite a while” game if you want to beat it on Normal — you’ll have to play episodes 2 and 3 all in one go without turning off the SNES.  Fortunately, it’s more than fun enough to be worth the effort!  PC port also on many other systems.

Drakkhen – One player, battery save.  Drakkhen is a mediocre, and unpopular on the SNES at least, computer-port RPG.  The game is a somewhat open-world title, where you create a party of four warriors, with gender and class choices, and then explore around a large world with them.  The game has very bland, mediocre graphics and sound.  It plays in first person 3d, except when you run into enemies the characters come out onto the screen and fight the enemies on that screen as a static screen.  The game is an action-RPG, pretty much, as combat is real-time and you control one character during battle.  You can switch characters during the fight, but this game isn’t exactly strategic; it’s fairly simple stuff.  You can also go into castles, dungeons, etc, and have your characters explore around.  Indoor areas are side-view isometric 2d, so you can’t wander around as you can outside.  You can only save outdoors.  There is the usual stuff to find, equipment to collect, and stuff to set up, but this game is very plain and repetitious overall.  This game is only for fans of classic RPGs where you spend most all of your time levelling and exploring, without really knowing where exactly you’re supposed to be going a lot of the time (unless you use a walkthrough).  There is a story, but it’s basic stuff.  The game has a sequel, Dragon View.  I haven’t played it but it has better graphics at least.

Faceball 2000 – Two player simultaneous.  Faceball 2000 is a FPS, and one of the few that plays on the base SNES.  The game’s okay, but really isn’t all that great overall.  Honestly, I think I have to agree with the consensus I’ve seen that says that the Game Boy version is better than the SNES one… still, this game isn’t awful, just … meh.  Faceball 2000 is a simple FPS game where you play as a smily face who is going around mazes, shooting other smily faces who are also shooting back at you.  The graphics are fairly simple and the game plays windowed, but the framerate is iffy at best, and the game is slow.  There are a couple of modes here, including a basic play-through-the-levels mode and a versus mode.  The GB version has a more interesting mode than this one; this really is just a basic maze-based FPS, with no saving (that it badly needs!), plain graphics, and bland gameplay.  Overall, this game isn’t that recommended.  If you want a great shooter on the SNES with one and two player support, get Spectre, not Faceball.  However, it is great that the game does have a two player splitscreen mode, and that is the most interesting feature here by far.  This is one of the only 4th gen (TV) console FPSes with a multiplayer mode; it’s pretty much this, the Japan-only TG16 CD version of this game, and Spectre for the SNES if you count that Battlezone-esque game as a FPS, and that’s about it.  Also on Game Boy, and in Japan only on TurboGrafx-16 CD and Game Gear.  The GB version is best.  It even has 16 player support, with daisy-chained Game Boy multitaps!

Fatal Fury 2 – Two player simultaneous.  Fatal Fury 2 is another one of Takara’s ports of a SNK Neo-Geo fighting game.  I like some of these, including King of the Monsters 2 and World Heroes 2, but this one isn’t so great.  Part of the problem is simply that I don’t really enjoy any of the first seven Fatal Fury games.  Mark of the Wolves is great, but before that?  I don’t know, the series just isn’t for me.  Fatal Fury 2 is at least better than the original Fatal Fury, but still, this is a fairly primitive fighting game, and it’s nowhere near as good as either later SNK fighters, or Capcom games.  As with all of the first seven Fatal Fury games, the game has a unique two-line system, where you can switch between two planes during combat.  It makes the game more complex than some fighting games, but it doesn’t make it better; I think I prefer standard, flat-plane 2d/2.5d designs.  There are your usual selection of characters to choose from, including Mai Shiranui in her first appearance.  In terms of moves, this is a fairly simple game with limited numbers of special moves and specials.  The game is competent and a decent port of the arcade game, though the graphics certainly aren’t nearly as good as they are in the arcade, but both Takara and SNK can do better than this. Port of a Neo-Geo and Neo-Geo CD game.  Other ports of the game are on Genesis, Game Boy, X68000, and Turbo CD (the latter three in Japan only).

FIFA Soccer ’97 – Five player simultaneous (with multitap), battery save.  FIFA ’97, the 1996 soccer game, was EA’s last soccer game released in the US, though there was a FIFA ’98 in Europe.  I haven’t played it much at all, but it is at least certainly much, much better than US Gold’s World Cup Soccer ’94, a game that I got for the PC back in the mid ’90s and thought was quite poor.  The game does have small characters, but at least the gameplay is competent, unlike that thing.  FIFA ’97 has much better graphics too.  I like this game’s isometric perspective more than that one’s strict top-view angle, the isometric perspective makes the game easier, better looking, more accurate, and more fun.  This game also has lots of options and modes, as you expect from EA Sports games.  Oddly enough, FIFA ’97 was simply called that on the box, but the title screen calls it “FIFA ’97 Gold Edition”.  Apparently the SNES and Genesis versions both say that.  There’s no regular edition though, unless the PS1/Saturn versions are “regular” and the 16-bit versions “gold”… yeah, I doubt that.  But yeah, this is a fine soccer game.  I haven’t played it very much, but it has obvious quality for its genre.  Play is reasonably quick, and the game’s fun.  There’s also a new indoor soccer mode, if you want to play in a smaller, wood-floor arena with hard walls, so the ball will bounce off instead of stopping for a throw-in.  Fun stuff.  Also on Genesis; other versions of FIFA ’97 were available on GB, PS1, PC, and Saturn.

[I have Final Fantasy IV for PSP and Final Fantasy V and FF VI for GBA, so I have little interest in the original SNES cartridges.  I’m not a fan of the series, for the most part, and have never found either game interesting enough to get very far in; in FFVI I stopped playing after a few hours in the one time I seriously tried to play it because I just wasn’t very interested, and FFIV isn’t better, for sure.  I did get a good length into FFV for the GBA, but stopped playing at this one boss I couldn’t beat without grinding, something I of course hate (hard fire or something boss in that metal ship), but I got that far at least, and found it somewhat fun, so I guess I like that the most of the three.  I don’t really like Square-style RPG menus, or their focus on “two lines of characters jump out and hit eachother” battle systems, though.  Give me something more interesting like Lunar’s menus and combat any day.]

Final Fight 2 – Two player.  While the first Final Fight game on SNES gets all of the attention (note: get that game on Sega CD, not SNES), these sequels are far better games in many respects.  This series never was anywhere near as good as Sega’s Streets of Rage, but it is a decent beat ’em up franchise that’s moderately fun to play.  Though it’s no Streets of Rage this game is better in several ways than the first Final Fight at least, with more moves, more characters than the previous SNES Final Fight game(s) (there are three: Haggar, and new characters Maki, and Carlos), and multiplayer that actually exists, Final Fights 2 and 3 are your better buys for SNES Final Fight action.  Both games are SNES-exclusive titles, as well, not arcade ports; oddly enough, even though the original arcade game was a huge hit,its sequels were only on SNES, and aren’t quite as well known as the original.  In terms of gameplay, Final Fight 2 is similar to the original game, except, again, there are three characters this time.  One is female, too; it’s not all-male, like the first game.  Maki, the female character, would later reappear in Capcom vs SNK 2.  Final Fight 2 is a simple beat ’em up, like most of Capcom’s that generation: you walk to the right, and hit guys as they appear.  There are more moves here than the first game, but don’t expect much in the way of complex level designs here; it’s pretty much just new backdrops while you walk right, as with the original Final Fight.  I prefer beat ’em ups to have more interesting level designs, as you’ll find in, say, TMNT III on NES, or Golden Axe on Genesis.  Final Fight 2 is not as good as those games, but still, it is a simple, enjoyable game that’s well worth playing if you like the genre.

Final Fight 3 – Two player.  A later SNES release from late 1995/early 1996, Final Fight 3 isn’t always cheap.  I was lucky to find a very cheap, complete copy, but it’s worth a bit more than that anyway, though I highly doubt that I’d pay the ebay complete-copy price.  Still, this game is well worth having.  While for the most part Final Fight 3 is similar to the first two, it’s improved enough that this probably is the best of the series this generation. There are four playable characters this time, including returnees Haggar and Guy, and new characters Lucia and Dean, so there’s one more choice than before.  I think Lucia’s more interesting than Maki, probably, but she hasn’t reappeared anywhere I think.  But this game isn’t just new level designs and new characters — it’s also got new moves.  You see, this time the characters all have fighting game-syle move lists, all of which are listed in the manual (or online).  Pulling off fighitng game moves while playing a beat ’em up can be tricky, but it’s a cool option to have, and it’s nice to have more variety than the usual punch, kick, jumpkick, maybe throw, and that’s about it fighting game move list.  Final Fight 2 had some of this, but this third game adds even more, and even has super moves and a super meter too, quite uniquely for this genre.  Level designs are slightly more interesting here too, though Capcom still sticks to its usual “walk to the right on the lower part of the screen” style, without the more involved level designs you find in Streets of Rage or Golden Axe.  Too bad.  Even so, this is a good game.  This game is by far the best of the three Final Fight games, and it’s under-rated.  It might even be better than the first Streets of Rage, though the second one’s better than this of course.  The arcade original may get all of the attention, but its SNES sequels deserve more than they get, and with more moves and better level designs, this game exceeds the original for sure.  Just make sure to read up on the moves, and make use of them!  It really adds to the game when you do.

First Samurai – One player (No saving, but there are level-select cheatcodes).  First Samurai is a European platformer, and it was one of the earlier platformers that I got for the SNES.  The game has a sequel, though it was on the Genesis, has gameplay changes, and was only released in Europe.  This game, however, is a fairly conventional consolized Euro-platformer.  It’s not one of the most confusing and difficult Euro-platformers out there, and is definitely fun, but if you don’t enjoy exploring around large levels, finding your way, and  learning through exploration and memorization what you should be doing, this isn’t the kind of game for you.  The controls, graphics, and music are decently good.  Your samurai can climb walls, which is cool.  He also has some magical powers, some of which has to be used in certain places in order to progress.  Overall, while this game can be confusing, it’s not nearly as much so as some European platformers are.  The game’s reasonably approachable.  The game has only five stages, but the later ones get long, so finishing it without using the level-select code might be tricky.  Overall, it’s an okay to good game.  Also on Amiga (Europe only there?).

Full Throttle: All-American Racing – Two players, password save.  Full Throttle: All-American Racing is a very mediocre racing game from Cybersoft.  With average at best visuals, no sound and music at the same time (this is one of the only SNES racing games that does that common early ’90s Amiga/PC/Genesis thing of forcing you to choose music or sound, not both), Full Throttle leaves a lot to be desired.  The game does have a few interesting design elements, though.  As in the even worse Kawasaki Carribean Challenge, you can race in both motorcycles and jetskis, but this time it does work a bit better.  The two game types really are different, so it does have a few things going for it.  Unfortunately, it probably won’t be fun enough for most people to stick with it even past the first couple of races.  The land bikes are standard linescroll-style fake-3d racing.  The jetskis,  however, have some kind of mode 7 3d layout.  I’m not sure exactly how it works, but it’s clearly Mode 7 of some fashion.  The water races don’t have a stable framerate, as in, for instance, Cannondale Cup, but they’re interesting, anyway, more intersting than the land ones in some ways.  The mode 7 effects make it feel more “3d” than the usual smooth-turns-only stuff of the land bikes.  The races are long, so I don’t know if it’s really one huge Mode 7 object of if it’s in pieces or something, but the poor framerate and far too short draw distance in these races mostly negates the interesting design.  Really, stuff pops up right in front of you in water races.  Still, the graphics are interesting.  As for land races though, it’s just very generic stuff, not as good as any of the SNES’s better racing games of that style, and below average overall.  Overall, probably pass on this one, though for very cheap, maybe consider it, if you really like this kind of racing game and want to try them all.

F-Zero – One player, battery save.  F-Zero was a launch title for the Super Famicom in Japan, along with Super Mario World, and the two games stand out as still my favorite two games for the platform, and one of the best racing games ever, too.  One of the best racing games I’ve ever played, F-Zero for the SNES is my favorite racing game of its generation.  Yeah, most people might say Mario Kart, but I like F-Zero a lot more.  First though, the flaws.  The game is a bit too short, and a bit too easy once you get good at it, and it has no multiplayer, which is really too bad.  Apart from those things, though, this game is truly exceptional.  First, the graphics are amazing, and do a fantastic job of showing off what Mode 7 can do.  The art design and framerate are every bit as good, too.  The music is just as great; this game has a great soundtrack with some catchy songs in it.  But best of all is the gameplay.  With great controls, great handling, and great track designs, F-Zero really stands out.  Every track is extremely well designed, and the cars control perfectly.  The GBA F-Zero games have similar graphics to this game, but completely change the handling, and in my opinion, they totally broke it.  F-Zero Maximum Velocity and F-Zero Climax are two of the most disappointing games ever, really, simply because of how bad they are in comparison to the near-perfection of their SNES predecessor.  While SNES F-Zero has tight controls that are easy to learn but take time to master on the winding courses, the GBA games have slippery, tough, no-fun handling that’s a complete pain to deal with.  Forget what you learned with the SNES game with those ones — you need to relearn car control from the ground up with those games, and it never became natural or at all fun, for me.  So yeah, I recommend sticking with this game.  I couldn’t ask for more than this from a 4th gen racing game, I really couldn’t.  When I first played this game (somewhere a few years after I got my SNES) I was expecting it to be good, as I had loved F-Zero X and GX, but somehow I didn’t realize that it would be anywhere near as great as it is.  Well, it sure was a pleasant surprise!  This game is so great that I can’t choose between it, X, or GX for which is the best F-Zero game, so usually I simply call it a three-way tie; all three are too incredibly great to make such a choice possible!  I wish that they had released a second version with the BS F-Zero 2 content included, that would have been easy to do and so amazingly awesome… oh well.  As it is, it’s one of the system’s top must-play games for anyone who hasn’t played it.  Also on Wii and Wii U Virtual Console.

Gemfire – One player, battery save.  Gemfire is a strategy game from Koei also released on NES and Genesis.  The game is a fantasy strategy game, one of the few from this time, so I like the theme.  As for the gameplay though, strategy games from this era are often badly dated and very hard for me to enjoy today (PC or console), and this game’s no exception, so I’ve never spent as much time with it as I probably should.  It looks like a good game if I got into it, though.

Gods – One player.  Gods is a side-scrolling platform-action game.  The game’s European, and is a port of an Amiga game, so yeah, this is a Europlatformer.  Back in the 4th generation, European games had a quite distinct feel, versus American or Japanese games, and this game is a good example of that.  On the one hand, the game does have good graphics, huge levels to explore, lots of stuff to find, shops, a good variety of weapons, and more.  In the game you play as a supposedly powerful character, and because you actually can take multiple hits in this game he is better off than many Europlatformer characters, but still, you’ll die quick — the enemies are numerous and come at you quickly.  This is a memorization-heavy game; you really will need to memorize where enemies come from, where to go in the levels, and more, if you expect to get anywhere.  And of course, there is no saving and limited continues, too.  Yeah, Gods is perhaps a bit too hard.  While my games last, though, I do like this game.  The visuals are nice, the weapons powerful — you use projectiles, which is great — and exploring and trying to find my way through the levels is a good challenge, and can be fun once I’ve learned an area.  Even so though, this game is a bit too random at times; there are many traps and enemies which you have no chance of avoiding until you have memorized their locations, for instance.  This game is unfair and the only solution is memorization.  However, it is a cheap game, and it is fun at times, so overall I like it, with caveats.  The frustration factor can be annoyingly high, but there’s a good side to this game as well, and I do come back to it sometimes.  Worth a look.

Goof Troop – Two player simultaneous, password save.  Goof Troop is an interesting, and somewhat unique, puzzle/action game from Capcom.  The story is about Max and Goofy ending up on an island run by Pirate Pete, or something like that; it’s just an excuse for the action.  Unlike most of the rest of their Disney-licensed 3rd and 4th gen console games, Goof Troop isn’t a platformer.  Instead, it’s a top-view puzzle/action game.  The two players can play as Max and Goofy, and the game works well in either single or multi player modes.  This game has a static-screen design for the most part, so there are enemies to fight, or a puzzle to solve, on each screen, and you can progress once clearing it.  The controls are good, and the central mechanic here is item use.  In one player mode, you can pick up two items to use.  These can be weapons, but more often they are useful for solving puzzles.  Of course though, sometimes the combat and puzzle elements merge, as you defeat enemies by picking up and throwing things at them.  In two player mode, things get even more interesting: each player can have only one item, so cooperation will be required if you want to progress.  Goof Troop has only five levels, but each one is long, so this game has a solid length.  The difficulty scales up too, so by level five the game gets tough.  There are passwords between levels to help, which is especially great for a multiplayer-focused game like this.  Overall, Goof Troop has good graphics, good, original gameplay, and is a great game overall, single or multi player.  Play it.  It’s probably my favorite Capcom Disney game on the SNES.

Gradius III – Two player alternating.  Gradius III for the Super Nintendo is a shmup, and is one of my favorite shmups of all time as well.  This absolutely exceptional game may have a lot of slowdown, but it’s my favorite 4th gen shmup regardless.  The game has great graphics for an early SNES release, even better music, exceptional level and game design, and more.  The game is long as well; this game is well over the average length for 4th gen shmups.  I’m fine with that, myself.  Each level has a compeltely different theme, but I guess the bosses get a bit of criticism — almost every one has that same “shoot the core” concept as the central focus.  Later on in the series, they would mix things up more with boss designs, but you won’t really find that here.  The Interstellar Assault may be far less difficult than this game, but it feels newer and more tightly designed.  Still, for length, breadth, and great level design, Gradius III (SNES) is very hard to beat.  I’ve always liked the Gradius series, but the more I played this game after getting it, the more I liked it.  One thing to mention, though, is the original arcade version.  The SNES release is a LOT easier than the original arcade Gradius III game, which is a very good thing — the original arcade game is nearly impossibly hard.  And not only was it stratospherically difficult, but it didn’t even allow any continues at all!  Yes, get game over and you start from the beginning.  Getting anywhere in that game without savestates would require more skill and/or patience than I possess.  This SNES game, however, is approachable and fun.  It’s challenging, particularly if you increase the difficulty level, but you do get a few continues, the game is much more forgiving in design than the arcade original, and all that slowdown helps too, to give you the time to dodge all that fire coming at you.  Gradius V might be slightly better than this, and Gradius: The Interstellar Assault (GB) is also one of my favorites in the series, but this game’s up there with them.  I know some people prefer Gradius II to this, but I’m on the Gradius III side of that one.  Modified port of an arcade game; the arcade version shows up in some collections, such as the PSP Gradius collection, but this SNES version is only on SNES and Wii Virtual Console.

GunForce: Battle Fire Engulfed Terror Island – Two player (simultaneous).  GunForce, a run & gun shooter with one of the most ridiculously awesome subtitles ever (just read it!), is a port of an arcade game of the same name.  Other than substantially increased amounts of slowdown, the game is a pretty good port.  All five levels are here, and all of the content too.  While I didn’t have a SNES of course, I do remember playing GunForce in arcades back in the early ’90s, and I thought it was a pretty good game.  I did not have any similar experience that I remember with Contra, which might be part of why I’ve never liked that series as much.  As for this game, it’s not just a fun run & gun game, but it’s also the first run & gun game by the team that would go on to make Metal Slug.  This game’s arcade-only sequel GunForce 2 has been sometimes called “Metal Slug 0”, but really, this game is the real “Metal Slug Zero”.  While there are some significant changes between GunForce and Metal Slug, including art and game design elements, some core elements of Metal Slug are here, and that’s pretty cool — I absolutely love the Metal Slug series (and, yes, think it’s much better than Contra).  First though, the biggest differences: GunForce has 8-direction firing (which is completely awesome!  WHY did they cut this from Metal Slug…) and a MUCH lower difficulty level than any Metal Slug game.  Yes, GunForce is a somewhat easy game.  Even I can beat this game, despite the two continue limit, on Normal difficulty.  It’s got only five levels, the levels are of only moderate length, and this game’s nowhere near Metal Slug in enemy volume or challenge.  There also aren’t prisoners to rescue; instead, weapon powerups are just lying around.  However, as I said, a lot of Metal Slug is here.  You will find many familiar weapons in GunForce, including a flamethrower, a rocket launcher, a machine gun, and more.  The weapon system is just like Metal Slug, too — you have a default gun that has infinite ammo, and can pick up subweapons like the above that each have limited ammo.  You can have one subweapon at a time.  Yeah, the weapons, and weapon system, would return in Metal Slug for sure.  GunForce also has controllable vehicles, including a helicopter, a jeep, a railcar, and more.  These are limited, in that you can only use each one in a small part of the level it’s found in, but still, they are here.  Of course, vehicles would later become a major part of the Metal Slug series.  And while most of this game is about your two soldiers fighting humans in jungles and enemy installations, there is some other stuff at the end also reminiscent of the direction some Metal Slug games went in.  Overall, I really like Gunforce; it’s a great Metal Slug predecessor.  It may be short and easy, and it may have too much slowdown at times, but it’s hugely fun, and it’s one of my favorite SNES action games.   I know that I like this game much more than most people, but it’s high on my list.  The co-op is great fun as well. Arcade port.

Hal’s Hole in One Golf – four player alternating, password save.  This is a fairly generic golf game from Hal from very early in the SNES’s life.  Don’t expect anything unique and great like Kirby’s Dream Course here — this is plain, average stuff, and I don’t find it interesting at all.  The game has top-down graphics, so while it’s reasonably colorful (shades of green!), it looks dated compared to later SNES golf games with third-person perspectives.  The 3d-esque course maps are cool, but the ingame graphics are strictly top-down.  There’s also only one 18-hole course.  I find traditional golf games extremely boring most of the time, and this is not exactly the game that’s going to change that opinion.

Hyper Zone – One player.  Hyper Zone is a rail shooter from Hal.  Along with Star Fox, it’s one of the few rail shooters on the SNES.  The game isn’t one of the best in its genre, but it is a good game, and it does some interesting things that were original ideas.  The graphics look like they might be using Mode 7, in an interesting usage of it.  The visuals are good, with nice (very SNESey, but nice) backgrounds reasonably decent fake-scaling for the enemies, as usual on SNES.  Most notably, while this game is a rail shooter, you can’t just go anywhere on the screen — instead, if you travel off of the marked pathways, you will quickly lose health.  The pathways split and branch as you go, so you need to navigate through the level as well as deal with the enemies.  I like this element.  Enemy patterns are a mixed bag, though — some are fun to fight, but others are just rows of squares of various colors which aren’t nearly as interesting.  Also, your ship doesn’t really have weapon powerups, but instead you get better ships as you progress through the game.  Of course the enemies get tougher too, but you do as well.  This element doesn’t work quite as well, because it leaves me frustrateed when I get a game over and have to go back to the basic, weak ship you have at the start of the game; it’s not much fun to use, compared to the ones you are using midway through.  The game’s not short either — these levels are good length.  Overall, I like Hyper Zone, but there are better rail shooters out there.  The unique level designs are good, and the game is fun, but there’s better than this in this genre… though this might be the best rail shooter I’ve played on SNES, at least.

Illusion of Gaia – One player, battery save.  Illusion of Gaia a great, great game, and is the second of three somewhat Zelda or Mana-esque action-RPGs on the SNES from Quintet.  The first was Soul Blazer, a game I’d love to play but sadly haven’t, and the last is the Japan and Europe only classic (from what I have heard) Terranigma.  Nintendo published this game, but tragically, while Nintendo of Europe picked that one up, NoA didn’t.  That’s not right.  But as for this game, yeah, it’s really, really good.   In the game you play as a boy who’s out to see the world, and you get drawn into a deeper story.  Yeah, the story starts simply but becomes better and better as the game progresses.  In the game you can transform between several different forms, in order to solve puzzles or fight enemies with different abilities.  It’s fun stuff.  I actually finished this game, which says something — this game and LttP are the only SNES action-RPGs I’ve actually completed, of the ones I have (well, unless you count ActRaiser as one; I did beat that, but it’s somewhat different…).  And not only did I complete it, but I absolutely loved it too; the satisfaction I felt after finishing it was something special.  Illusion of Gaia has good graphics, that good, well-told story with some truly moving moments, a well-thought-through blend of serious and light moments, great gameplay, and more.  This game is my favorite action-RPG on the SNES, I would say.  Its top-five placement in my top 10 probably gave that fact away, though.  Well, it deserves it.  Illusion of Gaia is only moderately long, and the difficulty level is just average, but with good level designs, a good, simple combat system that works well, and that surprisingly compelling story, it’s a fantastic game.  This game has none of the flaws of the other SNES action-RPGs I have’s combat and levelling systems — there is no too-short attack range like Lagoon or Zelda LttP, no tedious and frustrating required mountains of grind like Spike McFang, Ys III, or Secret of Mana, and no bizarre delay on your attacks like Secret of Mana, either.  This one’s pretty much perfectly designed all around.  I’ve heard that Terranigma might be even better than this game, but that would be quite a feat; Gaia is exceptional.  About the only negative thing I can think about it is that maybe it could have been longer, but really, it’s about the right length; I’d only want it to keep going because of how much fun it was.  Really though, it’s great as it is.  This is a must-play for anyone with any interest in the genre!

The Incredible Crash Dummies – One player.  The SNES Crash Dummies game is a generic licensed sidescrolling platformer.  It’s plain, average, and largely uninteresting; the Game Boy/Game Gear Crash Dummies game may be absurdly short, but at least it’s fun and varied.  This one, though, just doesn’t have much going for it.  It’s just a bland, average sidescroller where you play as a Crash Test Dummy and run and jump your way through various worlds.  The graphics are okay, but the gameplay is extremely bland and somewhat subpar.  But what else would you expect from a game published by LJN?  The music’s not exactly good either.  Just walk to the right, shoot, jump, and keep going until you either win, die, or turn it off out of boredom.  Don’t bother with this game.

Indiana Jones’ Greatest Adventures – One player, password save.  This game is a Indiana Jones platformer from Factor 5 that runs in the Super Star Wars engine.  So yeah, based just on that, when I found a copy of this game I was expecting great things — Factor 5 was one of my favorite console developers while they still existed, and I loved some of their other earlier games like their Turrican titles, so I wanted to see their other SNES platformer.  And the Super Star Wars engine’s pretty good as well, and allows for some quite nice visuals.  Well, this game does not disappoint.  The visual style is original, and doesn’t feel like either Super Star Wars or Turrican; this is its own game, and has an Indiana Jones feel to it.  That’s great.  The game has very good graphics, good level designs, and as the title suggests, plays like a highlight reel of the original three movies, as through the game you move from one classic scene from one of the films to the next.  Of course they are expanded on here, as always in videogames, but this is certainly one of the best classic Indy games around.  The controls, for your whip, gun, and what have you, work well, and the levels, while mostly linear, have some exploration elements at times, and of course many traps and enemies to deal with.  The game has a few minor flaws, such as some traps or puzzles which can be tricky at first, and of course it gets challenging farther on, but the flaws are minor.  There’s really nothing more I could ask for from a 16-bit Indy game than this.  Most levels are left-to-right platforming, or occasionally more open platforming, but there are a couple of special levels, for the mine cart level, a flying level, and the rafting stage.  They aren’t Mode 7, I don’t think (the biplane level might be, but I’d guess it’s some other visual effect), but still, they look pretty cool; the “3d” scaling is well done for the system.  Factor 5 may not have made quite the visual masterpiece that they did in Super Turrican 2 here, but still, it’s a good looking game with variety and some nice effects.  I do sort of wish that it had some Mode 7 driving levels like the Super Star Wars games have, but still, it’s pretty good as it is, and at least that avoids something like that sketchy framerate of the last two levels of Super RotJ.  Plus, the game has password save, unlike their Turrican games, so you don’t need to play it in one sitting.  I presume JVC asked for this, as the latter two Super Star Wars games have that as well.  It’s great to see.  (Oh, if you want a real contrast, compare this to the pretty awful Genesis Indy game, Young Indiana Jones: Instruments of Chaos… yeah, let’s just say that that one doesn’t quite hold up to this one, in any way.)  Whether you like Indiana Jones, Factor 5, or just SNES platformers, play this game.  It isn’t the best platform-action game on the SNES, but it is a quite good one.

Inspector Gadget – One player.  Inspector Gadget for the SNES is a platformer from Hudson based on the great classic early ’80s cartoon series.  Hudson completely messes up the story and concept here, but at least they designed a good game, because this is a pretty good platformer, even if as an Inspector Gadget fan (I loved the original series as a kid, though nothing else in the franchise is worth watching at all I think) the story really annoys me.  So yeah, the plot here is that Penny got kidnapped (naturally, in the game you have to rescue the girl… ugh, sexist videogame writing…), and Gadget, suddenly now a competent hero, has to go rescue her.  Hudson got the graphics right — the visuals look just like the show, and it looks great — but who wrote that story?  Gadget, competent, and Penny, kidnapped and helpless (and as for Brain… he’s not really in this game, outside of some checkpoints or something.)?  Had the game designers ever actually watched the show?  Gadget is very powerful in abilities, but a complete fool intelligence-wise, while Penny (his niece, and a computer geek with a super-powerful laptop book thing) always actually solves the cases, with Brain (their dog)’s help as the agent on scene.  Naturally, Gadget always thinks that the MAD agent badguys are good, and Brain in “disguise” is a badguy.  Even so, with Penny and Brain’s help, and his gadgets of course, which he has a huge number of, the goodguys win in the end.  Well, apart from the gadgets, and that the badguys work for MAD, forget the rest of that here.  Of course since it’s a game and you’re playing as Gadget I would expect more competence than he generally shows in the show, but still, they could have done a lot here that they didn’t even try, such as having you play as all three characters, for starters.  You can do that in the GBC Inspector Gadget platformer, which is a decent game.  And even with the gadgets, while you have a bunch of fun stuff you can use in this game, all collected via different power-ups (some require “ammo”, which you collect in the form of Gadget hats, so make good use of them; a few are infinite use) they didn’t really go by the gadgets from the show; you do see a few, like the Gadget Copter, but a lot of them are just made up, pretty much, based on what they wanted for this game.  That’s unfortunate.  Still, once I ignore everything else, and just look at the game on its own, this IS a pretty good, distinctly Hudson-styled, platformer.  The game has nice graphics, great level designs, plenty of challenge (maybe too much for a SNES game without saving, but it’ll take a good while to get through, at least), a fun variety of abilities to use, Inspector Gadget graphics, and more.  Despite my complaints, this probably is, in terms of gameplay, one of the best Inspector Gadget games.  It could have been better if it more accurately reflected the show, and that it didn’t do that disappointed me even back when I first read about this game in the early ’90s, but even so, as is, this game’s well worth playing for the gameplay.  It’s a good Hudson platformer.

Jim Power: The Lost Dimension in 3D – One player.  One player.  Jim Power: The Lost Dimension in 3D is an enhanced, half-new version of a European Amiga game called Jim Power.  It was a sci-fi platform/shooting game with one hit deaths and a high challenge level.  That original version had three very long, super challenging platformer levels, and two tough, but not as hard or long as the platformer levels, shmup stages where you played as Jim Power in a jetpack.  The game also had a TurboGrafx-CD port that was only released in Japan.  The graphics aren’t as good, and the game is easier than any other version (as much good as bad!), but it does add password save and has CD audio, which is awesome — Jim Power’s soundtrack is a truly exceptional one from the same person as Turrican’s, Chris Huelsbeck.  This is one of his best works, and yes, the SNES version has amazing music as well.  This SNES version is half original, as I said; it’s not just a port.  First, they replaced the old Jim Power sprite with a new one; you look completely different now.  Second, while the three platformer levels return, and they’re as crazily difficult as ever, there are now four other levels, and they’re all new.  There are two shmup levels, again, but this time you fly through them in a spaceship, and they are both long, and incredibly difficult.  The other two levels are top-down Mode 7 action/puzzle levels.  You walk around a maze, shooting baddies and avoiding traps.  Your goal is to collect the keys, then use them in the correct order.  Make sure to look at the map and go to rooms in the right order — if you mess up, you’ll have to kill yourself and try again.  These levels aren’t as hard as the other two types, but it is easy to die if you make a mistake, of course.  They’re slower-paced stages, but they are fun.  The sometimes insane difficulty of the other two level types more than makes up for it, though.  Of course, this game has limited lives and only a couple of continues — yes, this game is HARD.  Insanely hard.  One of the hardest games I’ve played on the Super Nintendo hard.  But despite that, and despite that I’ve never gotten past the fourth level, I love this game, and keep playing it, more often than most of my SNES games.  Great game, and I absolutely recommend it!  Expect a hair-pulling challenge, but just keep playing, and memorize absolutely everything.  The gameplay is solid, the levels cruelly but well designed, the bosses big, cool looking, and moderately tough (though the levels are often harder, in the early levels at least, the bosses aren’t easy) too, and the game generally quite good.  If it had passwords it might be even better, but as it is, it’s great… as long as you’re up for a very hard game, where you die in one hit but any enemy takes a bunch of shots to kill, and where the enemies fly in at you with barely any warning all the time.  Oh, one final thing, the “3D” part in the title.  This SNES version of Jim Power adds several layers of parallax scrolling to all levels.  The Amiga version had some parallax, in the shmup stages at least, but this version has it everywhere, and it’s enhanced… sort of.  You see, the parallax scrolls VERY fast.  If you focus on the backgrounds, while you move it can almost be dizzying.  I recommend focusing on the foreground.  Apparently the game supposedly came with some special kind of (paper) 3d glasses that made it look 3d, or something, but I don’t have those, even though my copy did come with the box and manual.  I don’t think I’ve seen them on ebay, either.  If these do in fact exist, it’d be cool to see them someday, to see if it actually works or not.  SNES exclusive remake of an Amiga/TG16 CD game.  There’s also a Genesis Jim Power game, with its own unique stuff (two more shmup levels instead of the top-view levels, I believe?), but it was cancelled before release.

Joe & Mac: Caveman Ninja – Two player simultaneous.  Joe & Mac is a cavemen-and-dinosaurs-themed run & gun.  The game has very short levels, probably too short, but it does at least have two player co-op.  The two players play as Joe and Mac, naturally, two cavemen who have to, as usual in videogames, rescue their kidnapped girlfriends.  Of course.  The game has decent graphics and okay to good gameplay, but I don’t love this game.  First, the levels are just too short.  Each stage is just a couple of screens long, and you won’t spend too long on each one of them, either, so it’s not like a beat ’em up with small stages where you at least are hitting people for a decent while.  The game does have an added overworld map, where you can actually choose which order to play some of the level in, which is cool.  There are also several different weapons.  And the game does also have nice, cartoony graphics; everything has big eyes, including the dinosaurs.  Silly stuff.  There’s not much to Joe & Mac, though — you walk right a few screens, kill the enemies in your way, and then fight the frequent bossfights.  It’s an okay game, but there’s better.  I like more substantial levels than this; that’s also an issue I have with Mario 3 for the NES, as great as that game is.  Overall, this game was popular, but it’s only okay at best, in my opinion.  Also in arcades and on Genesis, NES, Wii (Data East collection), and more.

Jurassic Park – One player, SNES Mouse support (in the FPS segments only).  Ocean’s Jurassic Park game here is a top-down action-adventure game with some FPS segments based on the classic ’90s dinosaurs-reborn-on-a-modern-island movie.  The game’s somewhat bland looking visually, and is tough, and should have a save system, but for Ocean, it’s not too bad; they’ve made much worse than this, certainly.  in the game you wander around in each level, trying to figure out where to go and what to do, while defeating, or avoiding, dinosaurs.  There are also those FPS segments, which are okay.  You can use the mouse in those if you want, which is ineresting, but not too much better than a gamepad is; this is just basic Wolfenstein-level stuff, so you don’t need mouselook or anything like that.  Overall this game gets kind of boring after a while, I think, and isn’t easy either.  It is at least okay though.  Is it worth the significant effor that actually finishing it would take, though?  I’m not so sure about that one.  I, at least, haven’t done that.  Also on PC and Amiga.

Jurassic Park 2: The Chaos Continues – One player.  Jurassic Park 2 is really a sequel in name only — in terms of gameplay, this game is totally different from the first one above.  It is also from Ocean, but this time, the game is a side-scrolling run&gun-esque action shooting game.  It’s also rock hard, and of course, has no save system.  This game will be a SERIOUS challenge.  The game has beautiful graphics, first.  This is a very good looking game, and all of the areas and dinosaurs look fantastic.  You have six different weapons, each of which has its own ammo.  They are in two sets of three, and you can have two weapons, one from each set, equipped at a time.  Four of the six have limited ammo; ammo pickups will refill the ammo only for the weapon you currently have equipped, so choose the one that you need bullets for.  Levels in this game are large, long, and often mazelike, and the enemies are numerous.  Figuring out where to go will be the first challenge, and managing to get there without getting killed will be the second.  I’m not too good at this game, and haven’t gotten far.  Fortunately, it does have a level select for the first four levels, so I can see those four levels, at least, without needing to get better.  The second half of the game is linear and can only be reached by beating the first half, though, so a lot of skill, and some luck, will be needed.  This game is just screaming for a password system, it’d make it so much more fun… but even as it is, this game IS fun to play.  It’d probably be best played these days in an emulator where you can save your progress, but it is a good game.  I only wish I was better at it, so I could get farther.  The game even has some voice acting in the intro!  Pretty cool stuff.

Justice League Task Force – Two player simultaneous.  This game is a generic, average fighting game based on the Justice League DC superhero comic license.  You know, Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, etc.  The game was actually developed by Blizzard Entertainment, from their days when they still had console-focused C teams, but this has to be one of their least interesting games ever.  You’d never guess that later in the same year that this game released, 1995, another team working for the same studio would release Warcraft II for the PC, one of the best games ever made.  Justice League Task Force is a bland, generic, and utterly average fighting game.  You’ve got your selection of superheroes, each with their handful of special moves, and you move around, learn the moves (at least the manual does list them all), and fight.  Try not to get too bored… but that might be challenging.  I guess people who really like these characters might get more out of this game, as it’s not actually bad, but it’s not good either, certainly.  I don’t find it interesting enough to ever want to play.  There’s also a Genesis JLTF game, though it’s from a different developer.  That other developer, Condor Inc, actually got bought by Blizzard later, and became Blizzard North, of Diablo 1 and 2 fame, so I guess that this game is how they met.  That’s surely the most noteworthy thing about it by far.  (I don’t have the Genesis one, but it doesn’t sound any better than this one is.)

Ka-Blooey – Two player alternating, password save.  Ka-Blooey is a puzzle game from Kemco.  The game plays a lot like their later puzzle games The Bombing Islands (starring Kemco’s character Kid Klown) (PS1) and Charlie Blast’s Territory (N64); all three games share the same concept.  So yeah, just go read my reviews of those other two games, in my N64 and PS1 threads; this game’s pretty much the same thing, but with a silly little character, and 2d (top-view/isometric) SNES gameplay.  To explain, in these games, you have a level floating in the air.  You can only move on tiles, some of which are empty, and others of which have bombs on them.  Bombs come in three different sizes, and there are a bunch of modifier tiles — movable bombs, platforms that break after you walk on them once, etc.  Your challenge is to figure out where to move, and which bombs to light in which order, in order to destroy all of the bombs while NOT blowing up your character; that is, you must be out of the blast radius of all bombs when they blow.  This often leaves you with just one tile you must be on, so there’s often only one solution to a puzzle.  There are 130 puzzles in the game, so there’s plenty of content here.  The game has passwords to save your progress through the game (and does give you one on every puzzle, too!), and has nice graphics as well.  This game is fun and challenging, and it’s a pretty good puzzle game.  This game is SNES exclusive, but those other two games I mentioned earlier play nearly identically.

Kawasaki Carribean Challenge – One player.  Kawasaki Carribean Challenge is another subpar game published by Ocean.  This is a top-down racing game.  The graphics are badly dated, and this looks more like an early Turbografx game than a SNES game.  The sprites are small, detail is lacking, and speeds are slow, also.  That doesn’t mean that this is an easy game, however.  The game has two modes, motorcycle and jetski.  There are six tracks in the game, three for each race type.  However, two of the jetski tracks are pretty much identical, so really there are only five tracks.  The game is broken up into three islands, with one of each race on each island.  The controls are never great, and the collisions are very annoying.  Basically, avoid the other racers, bcause you’ll lose if you hit people.  In order to make up for the very short length of the game, they made it difficult to finish.  After the first island the tracks will require a great deal of memorization in order to have even a half-competent race, and there are no continues, so if you finish in too low a position to continue, that’s game over, start again from the beginning.  It really isn’t worth the effort.  The motorcycle mode is particularly annoying, because of how fast the bikes go versus how far you can see and how you really do have to memorize the turns in order to get around them without hitting the walls, something very much to be avoided.  The first track is square and isn’t too bad, but after that… yeah, forget it unless you’re dedicated.  The jetskis are slower, so those races are a bit easier, but memorization is still central, and the bad graphics, mediocre controls, opposition who knows the perfect route through the track almost every time, and more make this game really not worth the effort.  Pass on this.

Killer Instinct – Two player simultaneous.  Killer Instinct is, of course, a port of Rare’s popular digitized-CG-art, Mortal Kombat-inspired fighting game.  The game is a popular classic, but I’ve never liked it very much.  This game is very heavily focused on combos and combo breakers; just learning the regular special moves won’t get you very far.  My problem with that is, I’m completely hopeless at memorizing combos.  Learning those requires memorizing long strings of buttons that you must enter in a precise order.  I can learn special moves, usually, but combos?  Forget it, I don’t have a chance.  So naturally, as a result, I find this game very difficult and questionably fun.  It’s an okay amusement, and does have nice graphics, but I’ll never enjoy it thanks to its game design.  That doesn’t make it a bad game objectively, though; it’s a fine game, it’s just not for me at all.

King of the Monsters 2 – Two player simultaneous.  King of the Monsters 2 is a port from Takara of another classic early Neo-Geo game from SNK.  This is a very good version of the game, and it’s got almost all of the content from the arcade game, too.  Nothing significant’s missing.  KotM2 is essentially a hybrid fighting/wrestling/beat’em up cross, except with giant monsters.  The first KotM game, which was ported to SNES and Genesis, is just a 1v1 fighting/wrestling game with giant monsters.  The first game’s story was that giant monsters were fighting for domination over Earth.  This time, aliens are invading, so you need to save the Earth (well, those parts of it you don’t level along the way, of course); after all, if aliens take over, how can you rule over the place?  This game has similar controls to the first one, but now it’s not just 1 on 1 fights, but you also go through stages, fighting many enemies along the way.  KotM2 has only three playable characters (a giant superhero, a robot King Kong knockoff, and a giant dinosaur), while KotM1 had six, but considering the genre change, that makes sense.  Naturally, there are also lots of buildings and such to destroy as you progress through the levels, which is always fun.  This game’s quite good.  As with the first game the controls are a bit odd, as the button-mashey wrestling parts aren’t as fun as the fighting elements, but once you get used to it, the game plays well enough, and is beatable too; this game’s challenging, but not too hard, and I have finished it.  I do find it disappointing that the last couple of levels minimize the beat ’em up elements and are mostly just 1v1 fights, but still, it’s a great game, and this is a very good port of the game too.  The game’s length is just right for this kind of thing, and it’s fun most of the way through.  As usual in this kind of thing, the two player co-op mode’s great too.  I like KotM2 quite a bit; apart from the sometimes tedious grappling, it’s a very good game.  The SNES port is impressive as well; this is right up there with World Heroes 2 for my favorite Neo-Geo ports on the SNES.  Port of a Neo-Geo game that is also available elsewhere (though this SNES port is exclusive).  There is also a Genesis KotM2 game, but it’s entirely different — that one is a 1v1 game only, in arenas, so it’s completely different, and simpler, than the arcade/SNES game.  It does let you play as the villain monsters too, which is cool, but it’s not KotM2, it’s something else with the same name, sort of like the Genesis “Sunset Riders” game which actually is something completely different, and not as good.

Kirby Super Star – Two player simultaneous, battery save.  Kirby Super Star, released in ’96, was a late SNES release, but despite that it became very popular.  This game is one of the most popular games in the Kirby franchise, and is a classic Kirby game.  It is among the better Kirby games, too, though it isn’t one of my personal top favorites.  Kirby Super Star is, essentially, a game where each world of the game has different rules and a new story.  So, it’s sort of a collection of short games, though you play them in order, so it’s also sort of a linear-ish game where each world has an all-new plot and some game design changes.  The game has a good pace to it; it’s somewhat different from the pace of the three 8-bit Kirby platformers, and I prefer the style in those three games to this one, but it is, at least, better than the next two after this one would be.  Super Star’s first world zips you through a very short and easy version of the original Kirby’s Dream Land, but later worlds get more complex, fortunately; even for Kirby, this first world is really easy.  This game also introduced Metaknight, a mysterious, sometimes rival, character in one of the chapters.  There are also several minigames, which are fun, and a mini-mode where you race against Dedede while collecting food.  The central mechanic this time is, perhaps inspired by Kirby’s Adventure, having lots of different powers to choose from.  You can’t combine powers here; instead, you simply have lots of different powers available.  Some are one-time-use powers, too, like Kirby’s Adventure.  I prefer the power-combination systems of Kirby 2 or Kirby 64, myself, but this game’s way does work.  The graphics are great, and the game looks like the late SNES game that it is.  The co-op play is cool too.  It’s great that they did it, and while player 2 isn’t quite as capable as Kirby, as they play as this goo guy, it’s still a very cool option for them to have.  Kirby 64 didn’t have co-op, unfortunately, for some reason.  Fortunately, though, it finally came back in the Wii games.  So, overall, Kirby Super Star is a great, very fun game.  However, I do think that the short game modes is as much of a drawback as it is a strength, and I prefer having fewer powers that you can combine, instead of lots each of which is standalone.  Still, even though I like the 8-bit Kirby games more than this, this is a great platformer.  There is also a DS port/remake of this game; it’s very similar, but has redone graphics and some different minigames.  The SNES version is in the Kirby Dream Collection for Wii, and is also on Wii Virtual Console.

Kirby’s Dream Course – Two player alternating, battery save.  Kirby’s Dream COurse is an original, surprisingly brilliant, and very challenging, Kirby-golf game.  The game might be better described as minigolf, as each level is small, but there’s nothing “mini” about the difficulty level here, for sure; this is one of the hardest Kirby games in the franchise.  Usually Kirby games are somewhat easy, but not this time!  I was surprised by how tough this game is, but I was also impressed by how deep, complex, and brilliant it is as well.  Yes, Kirby’s Dream Course is an exceptional game, and it’s my favorite of the three Kirby SNES games that I have.  In the game, you have to hit Kirby around holes (levels) made up of flat or sloping ground and various terrain types (Water, grass, etc.) as you try to have him hit all of the enemies in the level in the fewest number of strokes possible.  The final enemy left will turn into a hole, which you must knock Kirby in to win the stage.  Your goal is a hole in one, of course, but that will take a lot of practice.  Below that, you need to hit a certain stroke limit on each set of holes in order to pass.  You will get better awards for lower scores.  This game is incredibly compelling, as each level kept me coming back, trying again and again as I tried to master what strategy would get me through the level in the fewest strokes.  Plus there’s also multiplayer, which is played in its own sets of levels and works great.  Kirby’s Dream Course’s graphics aren’t quite as good as the two SNES Kirby platformers, but it still looks very nice, and it did come out before either of them.  It’s a simple but good looking game.  The music’s classic cheery Kirby stuff, and some enemy types will give Kirby powers that you will have to use strategically, in order to get effects you want.  The game is somewhat complex, as you aim your shots carefully (you do shoot in three dimensions, too), set the power, and then use powers where needed, and it all comes together into a brilliant whole.  Kirby’s Dream Course is a very, very good game, and it’s got plenty of replay value as you come back to try to get better scores.  It’s Kirby’s best SNES game, and it’s a must-play.  Also on Wii Virtual Console.

Kirby’s Dream Land 3 – Two player simultaneous, battery save.  This game is another Kirby platformer.  The game has impressive visuals, but flawed pacing.  Kirby is as cute as ever, and the game is good, but it’s not as great as some other Kirby games are.  Released in late 1997, Kirby 3 was Nintendo’s final Western SNES release.  Several Nintendo divisions, including HAL and Intelligent Systems, were having problems with 3d, so they stuck with the older system longer instead.  I wish that they had released even basic N64 games, but these games are good too (though seriously, Kirby Star Stacker should have been on N64 too, even near-identical to its Japan-only SNES release… there was no excuse!  But anyway.).  Kirby 3 is an okay game, but it has some issues.  Most notably, the game has Kirby 64’s pace.  Go read my Kirby 64 review (in the N64 thread) to see what I think of THAT… yeah, it’s slow, way too slow, just like Kirby 64.  The three 8-bit Kirby platformers and Kirby Super Star have a bit faster pace than these two games do, and the slowdown was not a good change.  KDL3 does have good graphics, with a great art style and some impressive visuals, and I love that it’s got the Kirby 2 powerups-and-helpers combination system, but with even more powerups and combinations this time, but the glacial pace makes this game a lot less fun to play than the 8-bit games are.  Yeah, KDL3 disappointed me; it’s a good Kirby game, with great graphics, lots of powerups, those helpers like Rick, Kine, and Coo that I loved so much in Kirby 2 for the GB (that game is still my favorite Kirby platformer, I think!), and more, but why did they decide to slow down the pace and game flow so much?  It really was a bad idea, and doesn’t work too well.  And then they did it again with the next one, Kirby 64.  Disappointing.  At least this does have two player co-op, though, like Super Star, and unlike Kirby 64.  That’s great.  The game also has very nice handdrawn-style graphics.  I like the style.  One last problem, though — my copy of the cart was very cheap, but came with a dead battery, so I haven’t played most of the game; with how completion percent and stuff matters, I can’t quite get myself to leave the game on for a week or two to play it, only to lose everything once I turn it off.  Given the somewhat tedious gameplay, though, I also don’t want to buy the Kirby’s Dream Collection pretty much just for this game, since I don’t really need the others in that package… Also on Wii Virtual Console and in the Kirby’s Dream Collection for Wii.

Knights of the Round – Two player simultaneous.  Knights of the Round is a somewhat average medieval-themed beat ’em up from Capcom.  This game, and its level designs, look a lot like a medieval version of the Final Fight games, and it’s got the same plain, go-right-only level designs, too.  Knights of the Round is alright, but it’s an underwhelming game, and probably wasn’t worth the $10 or so I spent.  You can play as three different Arthurian knights, and there is a two player mode, but still… one part of my issue with this is just that I like Sega’s beat ’em ups more than I do Capcom’s (Streets of Rage over Final Fight, Golden Axe over this…), but even for Capcom, this is average at best.  The game doesn’t have Final Fight 3’s move variety, special moves, and the like, either.  Like the first Final Fight but with weapons, all you can do here is just walk to the right and whack away.  Level designs are, like in Final Fight 1, strictly walk-right affairs, with no variation.  That can be fun, and this game is for a little while, but it quickly gets old and has little to hold my attention over better games like any of the Golden Axe games, or Final Fight 3.  Knights of the Round is bland and repetitive.  Arcade port.

Kyle Petty’s No Fear Racing – two player simultaneous, password save.  Kyle Petty’s No-Fear Racing, from Williams, isn’t particularly well known, but I think that it’s actually an interesting arcade-style car racing game.  This game is a behind-the-car racing game, but it’s not your typical behind-the-car SNES racer — it’s neither a Top Gear-style linescroll game, nor is it Mode 7 (or polygonal 3d).  Instead, the game has some unique semi-3d engine.  First though, the game is fullscreen in single player, splitscreen in two player.  The tracks really do exist in 3d space, unlike fake-“3d” linescroll games, so you can see other parts of the track when they curve around, you see the track crossing itself when there are intersections, etc.  Alternating-colors-linescroll style “3d” couldn’t possibly do those things.  Also the tracks are not flat — instead, they’ve got curved banks, and often have stands above that too.  All this really helps with the visual look of the game — it looks like a racetrack, sort of.  The tracks feel like they’re made of a preset number of pieces, which are put together different ways, but it works.  Plus, that design allowed for them to put in a track editor, which is pretty cool.  That’s an uncommon feature for a 4th gen racer!  The main game mode is a championship with points, over 28 different tracks.  There are qualifying laps, but they’re short and quick, as fits the game.  The game is also very fast — you can really zoom along in this game.  There’s turbo too.  The cars look like NASCAR stock cars, and the game does have a license from a NASCAR driver, but this isn’t a licensed NASCAR game, and the gameplay’s certainly nothing like authentic stock-car racing.  The tracks are not ovals, first — they turn and curve in both directions, and are decent length.  Also the handling is simple and arcadey, and that turbo helps with the fun, arcadey feel too.  You will almost never have to touch the brakes; that’s fine with me!   You can buy upgrades between races with the money you win.  The car moves forward on the screen as you boost, which is kind of odd; I get that it makes it look faster, but it also reduces your reaction time.  I guess that’s part of the challenge, though challenge here is moderate at best.  You do have limited fuel and tire wear, so you will need to make occasional pitstops, and the arcade theme  is here too — you press buttons to make the various tasks happen faster.  This game has flaws for sure — the graphics may be original, but they’re repetitive as there isn’t much variety to the environments, and the gameplay is perhaps too simple, as you can get through the game fairly quickly.  So the game may be easy, and I can sort of see why it got mediocre reviews, but it has fast, fun gameplay and a quite unique visual style for the system.  Overall, I like Kyle Petty’s No-Fear Racing.  Good game.

Lagoon – One player, battery save.  This game is a fantasy action-RPG where your generic male hero guy has to save the troubled kingdom of Lakeland from evil monsters.  Spoiler alert: There’s a kidnapped princess to rescue too!  Yes, the story here is as generic as it comes.  As far as gameplay is concerned, Lagoon is similarly unoriginal.  Lagoon is, in short, a Ys 1 or 2 knockoff.  One look at this game’s interface, gameplay, and design, and it is quite obvious that the designers were thinking of making something like Ys when they made it.  Those health and experience bars on the bottom of the screen are a design style straight out of Ys.  But the first two Ys games are great, so why not copy from one of the best of the era?  And Ys 1 and 2 aren’t on the SNES.  However, Lagoon is somewhat disappointing.  First, the visuals are bland.  Sure, compared to Ys 1+2 on Turbo CD they look fine, but compared to other SNES action-RPGs, they look early and bland.  The is a quite early SNES release, though, so that’s understandable.  Also, your sword’s range is annoyingly short.  It’s even worse than LttP in that regard, and I think that game’s sword has too short a range too.  This game doesn’t have bump-to-attack like classic Ys games do, so you have to actually swing your sword to hit enemies, and the range is annoying.  Also, of course, expect to have to constantly grind.  There are also jumping puzzles in this game, and they can be frustrating when you miss jumps as the game punishes you for it too harshly.  The dungeons are appropriately mazelike though, and the game plays tolerably okay.  There’s a magic system too, which is great.  Overall, Lagoon is average.  It’s nothing beyond okay, but since I like Ys, I had some fun with this even if it’s not as good as the games it takes most of its ideas from.

Lamborghini American Challenge – Two player simultaneous, password save, Super Scope support (in minigame only).  Lamborghini American Challenge is a racing game from Titus.  The game is an enhanced version of an earlier computer racing game of theirs, Crazy Cars 3; the biggest changes with this version are the color of the car (it’s yellow now), and the added two player splitscreen mode.  The game is average at best, and I find it somewhat boring to play.  LAC is your standard alternating-colors linescroll faux 3d racing game, and it has has bland, average graphics and average gameplay too.  The game does let you choose from several racers, and then before races you can gamble with the other three racers in the race towards a pot that the winner will get, but the actual racing isn’t that great.  Turn left and right, avoid the traffic, try to catch the other cars, and that’s about it.  The average visuals and bland music don’t help the experience either.  Mediocrity is probably expected from Titus, but unfortunately, this game delivers on that.  The game does provide some challenge, as the races do get tough, and at least it does have both music and sound ingame, so it’s better off than some games in that respect, but still, the game isn’t much to speak of. I haven’t tried that Super Scope minigame, though.  Overall LAC is neither good nor bad, but it’s not interesting enough for me to stick with for very long either, so yeah, it’s not that great.  Also on PC, Amiga, and Amiga CD32; there’s also a downgraded Game Boy version.

Legend of the Mystical Ninja – Two player simultaneous, password save.  Legend of the Mystical Ninja is the first of the four SNES Goemon platform/action/adventure games.  They renamed it in the US, and called Goemon “Kid Ying”, but this is Goemon; only the names were changed, the crazy fantasy-Japan setting is intact.  It’s a fantastic series, and this is a great game.  Unfortunately, it’s also the only one with password save instead of battery, and it’s a real pain too — these passwords are very, VERY long: 31 characters.  Argh.  I have no problem with 4-8 character passwords, and 12-16 is okay too, but 32+ is just unacceptable, and is the kind of thing that makes me not play games, even if I want to play them.  Having to write down the password, correctly, and then re-enter it every time is a gigantic pain.  So yeah, play this in emulation or Wii Virtual Console, I think.  Anyway, as for the game itself, it’s a pretty good game as I said.  The game has two different styles, top-down and side-scrolling.  Most of the game is spent in the isometric topview map, where you travel around an area, fighting monsters, talking to people in houses, buying items, and the like.  Your goal here is to explore around, find the things you need, get a password (save), etc, and then find and go to the area where you’ll do that area’s side-scrolling stage.  These levels aren’t that long, but they are quite fun, and end with bossfights.  After that, it’s on to the next topview area.  The game design works great; the only real issue is that it can be frustrating when you don’t know where to go because of how large the levels are and keep having to fight the endless swarms of enemies, but still, that’s just part of the challenge.  Highly recommended, as long as you’re not playing the actual cart!  It’s a real tragedy that Konami didn’t localize any of the other SNES Goemon games and despite the mountains of translation patches for Japan-only SNES games that are out there, through some bizarre failing, not one of the other three SNES Goemon games have a translation.  Get on that rom patchers, now!  Also on Wii Virtual Console.

The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past – One player, battery save.  I think everyone who knows the SNES knows this game.  It is, of course, the SNES Zelda game, and it’s pretty good.  I first played this game on the GBA, and I thought it was alright, but nowhere near as good as Link’s Awakening, Ocarina of Time, or the Oracles games either for that matter.  I dropped the game somewhere in the sixth or seventh dungeon.  I quite disliked the art design versus LA — the character art particularly I find not nearly as good, and the graphics are overlarge — there’s no good reason that trees have to be four times larger than LA’s trees, for example.  I also dislike how short your weapon range is — you have a much better, wider attack in Link’s Awakening.  And LttP has some very annoying design elements, too, with NES-style hidden stuff the game requires you find.  More on that later, though.  To continue my criticisms, that you can have only one item at once (and can’t change your sword, etc.) is dated compared to LA’s controls.  The weak shield also is disappointing compared to any Zelda game since LA. The overworld map is awful, too.  Sure, it’s better than LttP’s, but LA’s shows how to do a good map.  This one is barely a fraction as good.  It’s just all there, so there’s no sense of exploration by revealing the map as you go around the overworld, and that’s a really important thing for me.  Maps in games matter, a LOT.  The notes on the map on some squares in LA was great, too.  And on that note, I also dislike LttP’s world design — the “it’s nine giant squares and a rectangle on top, each one with a different environment in it” layout is pretty silly.  Come on, couldn’t you TRY to make an interesting map design?  I guess not.  It’s also a bit too open; LA’s more complex world design is better.  Same for the Oracles games.  As far as overworld design goes, it’s not exactly one of the better ones in the francise.  The dark/light system is interesting, though, for the time at least; the series has, of course, done similar things many more times since.  And finally, the story is absolutely terrible; yet again it’s a stupid “rescue the captured princess” story.  The beginning makes you think that maybe it’ll be interesting this time… but no, she gets kidnapped and then you spend the rest of the game saving her.  Sigh.

Anyway, after getting a SNES, I eventually picked up a SNES copy of the game.  I mean, even if I have some issues with the game, Zelda is still my favorite videogame series.  Of course I had to get it.  And what I was surprised to find was that I liked the game a lot more o nSNES than I had on GBA.  I did have to use a guide of course, ebcause of the NES-style “hidden stuff as ‘puzzles'” design flaw that I expand on below, but even so, it was a great game, and I liked it.  It could have been better, and I kind of wish that they’d made a second SNES Zelda game (though not if it’d meant that Link’s Awakening wouldn’t have ended up on Game Boy!), but this is a very good game.  The graphics are great, particularly for an early-ish game like this is, there is a lot of content, including many dungeons to explore, the game’s quite tough and I died many times… yeah, very good game, most of the time.  The graphics, music, and dungeons are great.  I wish that you could continue from more places in the overworld — LA’s “continue from any door” design was a huge improvement — but still, when you actually have the items you need, LttP is a fantastic game.  The dungeons certainly were the best part of the game.  Sure, in art design they’re no match for LA or the N64 games, but in dungeon design they’re very good, clever, and tough.  Several of the later dungeons are unforgiving, with how if you die you go all the way back to the start of the dungeon… argh.  Still, the dungeons overall were a great fun challenge.  Everything other than that one puzzle at the bottom of that one dungeon near the end (where you need the Ice and Fire rods).  That’s got to be one of the least fair puzzles I’ve ever seen in a game.  Other than that though, the dungeons were fantastic.

So, back to my issues with hidden items.  This is one of the biggest flaws with the game, I thought.  I REALLY have a big problem with this element of the game — I had to use a guide to find the Light Arrows (I knew I needed them, but didn’t know where they were…), at least one of the Medallions (the one you need to use in the desert, I was completely stuck there for a long time before finally using a guide), the Book of Mudora, and worst of all, the stupid Ice Rod, an item which, if you miss, as I did, will force you to redo an entire dungeon that you are at the end of just because you’re missing a previously-optional item.  There was probably some more places I got badly stuck because of “we hid an item in the corner of the map somewhere with no real clues and called it a puzzle” game design that I really dislike.  Something in town was like that too, maybe about the flute?  That kind of dated, archaic design is part of why Link’s Awakening is such a great game — it ditches all of it.  Good riddance.  I would never have found that medallion in the mountains hidden off of the side near a dungeon that you go to once if not for GameFAQs, and the same goes for the Ice Rod, probably.  If the game had a better ingame map, like Link’s Awakening has, and an ingame help system as well like that game does, it might be okay, but it doesn’t.  Required items should not be hidden off in easily-missed corners of the map, that is not good game design.  Encuraging exploration, having rewards for people willing to explore, that stuff’s great.  I like having some exploration in games.  But if you’re going to have REQUIRED items hidden around, you’d better have some pretty good clues pointing to their location, and a good map system that encourages exploration, as well.  I know LttP’s defenders have excuses for every one of these about how really it’s all fine exactly as it is, but I just don’t agree, at all.  The best Zelda games, like Ocarina of Time, Link’s Awakening, Oracle of Ages, or Twilight Princess, don’t have problems like these.  Even so, A Link to the Past is a good game.  Probably a very good game.  And yes, I did like it quite a bit, and more than I expected to going in (to the SNES version).  But the people who call it the best Zelda game ever… yeah, they’re completely wrong, for quite a few reasons.  This was a great game for 1991, but later Zelda games have better art design, overworld design, key item locations, stories, and more.  Also on Game Boy Advance and Wii Virtual Console.

The Lion King – One player.  The Lion King was on many platforms in 1994.  The game, published by Virgin, focused more on graphics than on gameplay on most of them.  This version is no exception.  It may have better play controls than the Game Boy version that I had as a kid (see my GB thread for my review of that one), but it’s still far from ideal.  The Lion King is, of course, a platformer where you play as Simba from the great Disney animated classic.  The game has fantastic graphics, good music, a very high and frustrating difficulty level, and mediocre controls.  There’s also no saving, of course.  Unfortunate.  I got this game with some trepidation, considering my … mixed feelings … for the GB version, but it was a little better than I expected — the game’s still frustrating and flawed, but at least Simba controls better in this game than in that version.  Plus, you don’t have a key command mapped to Start on the SNES. :p  Still though, you need to be careful with your movements.  Learn how the controls work, because it’s never as smooth and fluid as it is in the best platformers.  Virgin’s team clearly was focused too much on the visuals, and not enough on the controls and level designs, here.  And on that note, the ostrich ride segement of level two is CRAZY hard in this version!  Seriously, it’s kind of ridiculous, how much memorization this thing requires.  It makes the GB ostrich ride look junior league.  I do like the added levels and puzzles, though; it makes it a more complete game.  The stampede stage, one of the few parts of the game that is not a standard side-scrolling level, is cool on SNES too.  The game has two different minigame types as well, which is nice.  This is one of the better versions of The Lion King.  Still, it’s a questionable buy on any platform, unless you’re up for some frustrating play controls and an uneven, but too often way too hard for a “kids” game, difficulty level.  This version is also on PC and Genesis; the other The Lion King releases, including the Game Boy version, Sega’s Game Gear version (it’s SUPER crazy unfun hard!), and the NES version, are each somewhat different from the main console versions.

Magic Sword – One player.  Magic Sword is a port of a Capcom arcade game.  The game’s a very good port of this side-scrolling action-platform game; the only major cut is htat this version is one player only, while the arcade version is two player.  Still, the game is pretty good.  In this game, you play as a barbarian warrior, going in to a tower to defeat the evil people there, and rescue the captured people in the tower too.  As you progress up the tower, fighting monsters along the way, you will get many keys.  Some can be used on the many jail doors, which lock up the prisoners, who are also your helpers.  There are eight different helpers available, so you have a lot of choices, but you can only have one with you at any one time.  There are also weapon powerups for your character; don’t get hit, or they’ll go flying away!  Part of the fun of the game is collecting all the powerups, getting stronger swords, and choosing which helper you want with you.  Each one has their own strengths and weaknesses.  Magic Sword does have a pretty substantial amount of slowdown, so you can tell that this is an earlier SNES game, but the graphics are reasonably good, and I don’t mind the slowdown; this game’s quite good regardless.  The game also has a good challenge level — this game is tough, and you do have limited continues, but you will improve with practice, and do better each time you challenge the tower.  There are a total of 51 floors to go up, and eight bosses to fight along the way, so the game will last a while.  Magic Sword isn’t one of Capcom’s better known SNES games, but it is a pretty good one, and it’s well worth a look.  Arcade port.  The arcade version is also available in Capcom Classics Collection Vol. 2 for PS2/Xbox and CCC Remixed for PSP, and also is packed in with Final Fight (the arcade version) in Final Fight: Double Impact for XBLA for X360 and PSN for PS3.  There was also an inferior cellphone version.  So, this is not the best version of the game, but still, it’s quite good.

The Magical Quest starring Mickey Mouse – One player.  The Magical Quest was the first of three Disney platformers on the SNES from Capcom.  It’s a good game, but is fairly easy and short; there are only about six levels here.  The game has a bit of challenge as you do have limited continues and no saving, but some practice will get you through the game.  The graphics are very nice though, so I can see why it was a hit.  I don’t like Capcom’s SNES Disney platformers as much as I do their NES ones, though, so I don’t think this matches up to games like DuckTales, Darkwing Duck, or Rescue Rangers, but it s a decently good game.  Mickey has different costumes he acquires, and each one gives you a difference power.  It’s moderately fun stuff.  I don’t know though, it’s a pretty good game, but much like SNES Aladdin, or the game below, it just feels a bit … bland.  Somehow Capcom’s Disney games just don’t have quite the same spark on SNES as they did on NES, Goof Troop aside (that one’s great, of course!).  This game didn’t keep me coming back, and honestly I haven’t finished it… not because I couldn’t, but because I just wasn’t interested enough to keep playing.  Still, The Magical Quest is a quite nice looking game with decent, if average, gameplay, okay level designs, and some fun to be had.  The graphics may be the biggest draw, but the gameplay’s not too bad either, even if it’s not Capcom’s best.  This game isn’t nearly as good as the two Illusion games on Genesis, but still, it’s alright.  Also on GBA; that version adds saving.

The Great Circus Mystery Starring Mickey & Minnie – One player, password save.  This is the second Magical Quest game.  There was one final one, but it was only released in Japan on the SNES, and didn’t get a US release until its GBA port.  This game, though, we did get, and on both SNES and Genesis.  I only have this version, but it’s good.  As with the first Magical Quest, this is a very nice-looking, but somewhat average-playing, Mickey platformer.   I like that they added two playable characters this time, as the name suggests, and a password save system, but otherwise the game is very similar to the original; you go to the right, use costumes where needed, and make your way through the game.  Because of the additions this probably is the better of these two games, but it’s a sequel very similar to the original, so it still doesn’t match the Genesis Illusion games.  Still, it probably is the most fun of the three SNES Capcom Disney games that I have.  Decently good game.  Also on Genesis and GBA.

Mario Paint – One player, SNES Mouse required.  Mario Paint is a painting program.  You can draw stuff and make some basic music.  Some people loved this game, but as I didn’t have a SNES back in the early ’90s, there’s nothing here to interest me; a painting program with limited controls where you can just save one painting at a time, and even that’s backed by a now-aging battery?  Yeah, no thanks.  Just use MS Paint… and as for the music creator, there are freeware PC knockoffs of it that are better, for people who care about that kind of thing (I do not).  However, there is one other thing here, in addition to the creation: the flyswatter game.  Essentially, this is a “shooter” where you control a flyswatter, and try to swat all the flies as they appear on screen.  Take too long, and they will hit you.  At first this seems like a simple, basic little thing, but as I kept playing it, I realized that this actually has some depth — the game has levels, bosses, and everything.  There are three levels, each harder than the last, and there’s no saving or continues, so beating it will take some practice.  I really liked the flyswatter game; it’s simple but fun single-screen-“shooter” swatting action.  That’s the only thing in Mario Paint of interest, but at least the cart has that!

MechWarrior 3050 – One player, password save.  MechWarrior 3050 is a port of the Genesis game Battletech.  Other than the name change, and the usual platform changes (more colors here, and such), nothing else significant changed.  That’s a good thing — this is a pretty good game.  Under either title, the game is a top-view isometric mech action game with some sim elements.  You play as a Mad Cat mech pilot, here to do missions and such; the story is less important than the action, though there is a plot.  Essentially, this game it feels like a MechWarrior take on Desert Strike, except I have a lot more fun with this game than that one.  For one thing, there’s no fuel limit, and ammo is easier to find.  Enemies are also easier to kill, and of course you can do fun stuff like crush human enemies.  Yeah, I don’t really like Desert Strike all that much, and never have… the series frustrates me, and I do not have much fun.  This game, though, is good.  It is on the short side, with only six missions to play, but it tries to make up for that with difficulty, and it succeeds; the second mission will take quite a while to get right, since it has a tight timer and it’ll take some time figure out what, exactly, you are suppose to be doing.  You really need to hurry to finish it before time runs out.  The game doesn’t get much easier after that, either.  I wish there were a few more missions, but as it is, it’s still quite fun.  With the password system you can always start from the mission you’re at, of course.  The game has great graphics, too.  Your mech is very large on the screen, and the other enemies and buildings look good as well.  You also have a nice variety of weapons.  Of course you’re here to blow them up, but they look nice enough until you do that, at least.  This is a pretty good game overall, and the “Desert Strike but with a mech and more fun to play” design succeeded.  Well worth playing.  Also on Genesis as “Battletech”.

Mega Man X – One player, password save.  Mega Man X is one of the Super Nintendo’s most popular classics.  Do I really need to review it?  It’s a great, great game.  I loved MMX back when I first played the game on the PC back in 1995, and this original SNES version is just as good.  The PC version’s a great port; it adds hard saves (to files), but drops the mech-suit parts.  They are in this version of course, but they’re such small parts of the game that it wasn’t much of a loss, really.  I got this game several years back for $10, new and sealed.  Honestly I’m not sure if it was worth it; on the one hand it’s a great game and a true classic, but on the other hand I already have a pretty good version of it.  Still, it was fun to play the game again.  As for the gameplay, it is of course a sidescrolling platform-action game, where you, as Mega Man X, have to beat 8 bosses (in any order), and then the final stretch of levels, and then finally the boss, Sigma.  This game has more of a story than the original Mega Man series had, and it’s tolerable; this is no great narrative to say the least, but this short, simple plot is better than some of the later MMX game stories, for sure.  Also of course the graphics and sound are great, as usual from Capcom.  Also on PC (in a slightly modified port), Wii Virtual Console, and on PS2 and GC in the Mega Man X Collection.

[Note – I have ports of the other SNES Mega Man platformers, but not the SNES versions.  I have MMX2 and X3 for the MMX Collection for Gamecube.  I haven’t played them enough to say anything.  I have MM7 in the MM Anniversary Collection for Gamecube.  It’s an okay game; I got to the Wily levels, so it’s okay, at least, though it is quite disappointing compared to the NES or most of the Game Boy games, it is at least better than Mega Man 8.  I also have Mega Man & Bass for GBA.  It’s way too hard, and I never managed to get past the initial set of three bosses.  I tried quite a few times… but never could beat those three levels.  I finished one, but not the other two.  Bah.  Maybe it’s easier on SNES?  I don’t know.]

Mohawk and Headphone Jack – Two player alternating, password save.  Mohawk and Headphone Jack is an utterly bizarre 100% Mode 7 sidescrolling platformer with a gravity system from THQ’s Black Pearl studio released late in the SNESes life.  Black Pearl mostly made mediocre to bad licensed games, but they also did this… thing.  If the people designing this game weren’t on something, they sure want anyone playing it to think they were!  Either way, Mohawk & Headphone Jack is an absolutely insane-crazy game.  You play as a pair of goo, or clay-like guys.  They have mohawks and headphones, and don’t wear anything else.  They can also change form, so they have a ball form, and special forms that come from powerups such as one with a wheel (for moving faster), etc.  There’s also a gooform for fitting through small pipes.  The game is a platformer, and your goal is to find, and reach, the end of the level.  That will be a lot more difficult than it sounds for two reasons.  First, the level designs are very confusing; even with the map screen (on the pause menu), finding your way around the levels can be quite difficult.  And second, there’s that aforementioned Mode 7 nature of the game, and the gravity system.  You see, your character always stays upright on the screen.  As you move around, the world rotates around you, since it’s all Mode 7.  Each level has a very similar graphical theme throughout, so the map is absolutely essential if you don’t want to constantly get lost.  And also, all platforms in this game have gravity.  Once you jump high enough to get within range of a platform above you, the world will spin around and you’ll land on that platform, as if it’s now the “ground”.  Maybe on later platforms they’d have the sprite spin around, but on the SNES that would be hard, while having the world spin around in Mode 7 is easy, so it works this way.  So yeah, think of this as sort of a predecessor to games like Mario Galaxy, except not as good.  The game is fast, and fun at times, but yes, it has some real issues.  First, the spinning and rotation can be confusing, and I’ll bet dizzying for some people as well (not me).  And the levels have little graphical variety too, and you can tell that the backgrounds are all Mode 7 — everything has that blocky Mode 7 look to it.  Also, the game lets you run fast, which means that it’s easy to accidentally run into enemies.  You’ll need to take things more slowly than you’d like when you first explore an area.  Even so though, I find something about this game compelling.  It’s a quite challenging game even with passwords after every level, and wandering around the levels, trying to find the bonus area warps, special powerups, collectables, enemies to defeat, secrets, and more can be quite fun.  It does get frustrating for sure due to the giant maze levels, but still, this is a very unique, and quite interesting, game that I would absolutely recommend trying.  This game is also ideal speedrun stuff, due to the speed, complex level designs full of secrets, and unique style.

NBA Jam: Tournament Edition – Four player simultaneous (with multitap), battery save.  NBA Jam T.E. is Midway’s second “extreme” arcade basketball game, and it’s probably my favorite game in the franchise.  This game is an absolute classic, and I love it.  NBA Jam is a two-on-two basketball series, with no penalties other than the often-annoying goaltending (I wish it didn’t have that either…), and with plenty of action as you can shove around the other players.  T.E. expands things compared to the original version: the game adds three players per team, which you can switch between between quarters, instead of two preset characters per team as the first game had.  Unfortunately a few of the most popular players, such as Michael Jordan and Shaq, aren’t in the game for licensing reasons (they would have cost a lot more), but a lot of players from 1994-1995 are here.  Another key change is the addition of injury ratings.  In the first game players could not get hurt, but this time getting knocked down again and again will take its toll, and players will take injury points.  Players all have a statistic showing how resilient they are, so the more durable players can take more injury damage before they lose effectiveness than the weaker players.  Sitting a player for a quarter (by swapping them to the bench in between quarters) will heal up their injury rating to full, so this is a significant strategic element of the game.  Unfortunately, I don’t think that any other game in the franchise allows you to swap out players between quarters.  Hangtime allows a halftime swap, but I don’t think any of them (unless one of the new Wii/PS3/360 ones does?) have swaps every quarter.  Some of the newer ones don’t even have injury ratings either.  Yeah, the featureset took a step backwards after this game.  They added custom player creation, but cut some more important stuff.  There are several other features availble in this game, but not most other titles in the franchise: first there’s a turbo speed mode, so you can play the entire game in 1x, 2x, or 4x speed.  4x speed games are crazy fast, but fun.  Second, there are “hot spots” that can be enabled.  This option has temporary circles randomly appear around the court, each with a number (between 3 and 8) on it.  Make a shot while standing on a circle, and you get the number of points on the circle.  Hot Spots certainly mixes things up.  I think that some later games in the franchise have a cheatcode for hotspots, but I don’t think any have it as a menu option like this one does.  And last, there’s a Rookie team, with 8-10 of the best new players from across the NBA that year.  Pretty cool option, and again not one you’ll find in the other games.  College Slam, which runs on the NBA Jam TE engine but has college teams instead, does have the turbo and hotspots options, but none of the other actual NBA Jam/Hangtime/Showtime games do.  Unfortunately, while the SNES version is for the most part fantastic, there is one downside here: there’s no ingame music.  The other versions of NBA Jam and TE all have ingame music, including the Genesis and 32X releases, but on the SNES, neither NBA Jam nor TE have ingame music.  It’s quite odd, but you get used to it.  Apart form that though, this is great.  The 32X version is slightly better, with better graphics, actual hardware scaling (that is, of course, not something the SNES can do), and ingame music, and I like the PS1/Saturn version a lot as well, but still, the SNES version is good, and certainly is worth playing.  Arcade port.  Other versions of the game, each with their own quirks, are on the Genesis, GB, GG, 32X, Jaguar, PC, PS1, and Saturn.

Newmann Haas’ Indy Car featuring Nigel Mansell – Two players, password save.  This game is a very generic, somewhat simmish F1/Indycar-style linescroll (Pole Position/Top Gear) racing game.  I find it very generic, plain, and uninteresting, though I’m sure open-wheel racing fans would like it more than I do; I don’t have much interest in F1 myself.  Still, even beyond that, I”m sure that there are better F1 games than this on the SNES… this one’s not the worst, but it’s just so bland.  On the good side there are a few car configuration options, plenty of tracks, and some okay gameplay.  However, with bland graphics, not much audio of any note, very average controls, standard course designs for this type of game.  Nothign stands out.  This is the second game in its franchise, so maybe it’s better than the first one (Newman/Haas Indy Car featuring Nigel Mansell), but that doesn’t leave me too interested in it… there are a few decent graphical touches here, but for the most part it’s generic all the way.  At least there is a map on screen, so you an see the upcoming turns, though of course as always in this style of game, the turns in the game bear little resemblance to the ones in the picture — linescroll games fake their 3d effect by alternating bands of color, so they can only do smooth turns, and cannot do things like overpasses or crossovers, so you just drive through the close point without seeing anything.  This game does have some fake-3d elements like grandstands, but still, it’s average at best, uninteresting stuff for the most part.  You can do worse than this though, and even if it’s mediocre, at least this game HAS ingame music; lots of open-wheel games don’t have any at all.  Overall though, uninteresting for me.

NHL ’96 – Two players, battery save.  The Genesis version has four player support, but it’s only two on SNES.  Yeah.  I can see why the Genesis sports games were more popular, it was stuff like that… still though, it’s pretty good, even if it’s not quite as good as the Genesis ones.  I’m not enough of a hockey game fan to actually play these games enough to identify the game system differences and such, though; I very rarely play these games, but I got this for very little, so it seemed worth it to have one.  It is reasonably fun at least.

The Ninja Warriors – One player.  The Ninja Warriors, aka The Ninja Warriors Again as it was called in Japan, is a side-scrolling beat ’em up.  The game is a SNES-exclusive sequel, or perhaps remake, of the original Ninja Warriors arcade and console game.  The first game’s console ports, on Turbografx and Sega CD, were both only released in Japan, but this game did get an American release.  The game has increased in price recently, and now even loose cart copies go for a good $35-50, but I’m sure I didn’t pay anywhere remotely near that much for it (I don’t know the amount, but it has to have been under $10).  The game is pretty good, and has much better graphics and gameplay than the original Ninja Warriors.  That was an okay game, but it’s extremely repetitive, with very basic walk-left-to-right-only level designs while hordes of enemies attack you from both sides.  It didn’t even have multiple levels, platforms, or anything, and you only have a couple of attacks.  This game is still strictly side-view, so it’s not isometric, but it has much better graphics with much more involved level designs, which is great.  There are also a lot more moves you can pull off, so the action is a lot more varied.  Those were badly needed changes which make this game much better than the first one.  There is one major downside, though: unlike the arcade and Sega CD versions of the original game, this one doesn’t have any multiplayer.  That’s really too bad, because the two player co-op is one of the better things about that otherwise extremely repetitive game.  The US version is also censored — the female enemies were removed and replaced with male ones.  The female (robot) player is still here, but not the female enemies.  But even if you have to play it alone and censored, at least you will probably be having more fun along the way than you would in the first game, because of all the improvements.  There are also three playable characters this time, up from two in the original game, though that is somewhat wasted with the game’s lack of multiplayer.  Still, as good as it is, it is held back by the side-view perspective; side-scrolling beat ’em ups just don’t quite have the depth that isometric ones do, and this game is no exception.  Still, for its genre, it is one of the better ones around.  This game is vastly superior to earlier side-scrolling beat ’em ups like Vigilante or Bad Dudes, that’s for sure.  I do have to complain about the final boss, though — I don’t want to spoil much, but you need to use this one, hard-to-pull-off move in order to hurt the final boss, and it’s a complete pain in the neck to deal with.  One time I got to the last boss, but after much irritation, I finally just gave up and turned the game off; it wasn’t worth the frustration that having to repeatedly pull off that move created.  Still, overall, The Ninja Warriors is a pretty good game.  It has some flaws, but the strengths are greater.

Operation Logic Bomb – One player.  Operation Logic Bomb, actually a sequel of sorts to the Game Boy game Fortified Zone, is an oddly under-recognized top-down 2d action shooting game from Jaleco.  This game really is a very good game, and it’s one of the best of this kind on the SNES for sure.  I guess the game is known well enough to sell for about $9, but it doesn’t get anywhere near the attention online that it should.  Well, hopefully sometime that will change.  The game has a sci-fi setting, and tells its story through dialog-free cutscenes.  The game has a great visual style, and it really looks like a ’90s sci-fi action movie place.  In Operation Logic Bomb, you play as this guy who is a soldier investigating an incident in a scientific research facility (yeah, no female character option here, unlike Fortified Zone, unfortunately).  The facility had made major breakthroughs that had allowed a rapid advance of technology, but something has gone horribly wrong, inter-dimensional monsters have invaded, and you’re here to clean up the mess and figure out what happened.  The cutscenes can be confusing, but overall the story is reasonably interesting, and keeps me coming back to try to get farther this time and see more of the plot, and levels too of course.  On that note, yes, you have limited continues here, and no saving.  You will need to learn the game to beat it.  As you progress you get more and more weapons and abilities, as well, so your arsenal, and options, increases with time.  The first weapon is pretty basic, but you eventually get some pretty cool armaments and special abilities.  There are some puzzle elements in this game, as well — some doors can only be opened by solving a puzzle that requires the correct use of a specific weapon or ability, and you often wander around the levels, trying to figure out what to do next.  There is a great, very helpful automap, but you will have to figure some things out on your own.  Most of your interactions are done through terminals.  There is no hint of what a terminal will do until you have accessed it, so only memorization will allow you to, say, save healing terminals for when you are actually low on health, but the terminals are important; some will open doors, other show you short cutscenes, others heal you, etc.  While the game is mostly linear, as I said, it is not on a railed path — you can wander around, and often can go back and forth between several areas as you try to figure out where to go next and what to do.  I’ve rarely been frustrated, though; once or twice, but that’s it.  Mostly this game is just plain fun.  The controls are great, with weapon switching and strafing that are easy to use (and yes, the strafing is essential, and a very welcome feature!), too.  It is a long and tough enough game that I wish it had passwords, though; too bad.  Overall, though, Operation Logic Bomb is very highly recommended.  This is a top-tier SNES action game, no question, and is one of its best exclusives in the genre.

Out To Lunch – Two player alternating.  Out to Lunch is a platform-action  game from Mindscape.  The game plays like an early ’90s PC game, and looks like one too.  The game has classic arcade-esque gameplay.  This game is one of those platform-action games in the Bubble Bobble vein.  Here the stages are a couple of screens tall, so it’s not a single-screen game like that one, but still, the concept is similar: capture (defeat) all of the enemies in each small level, and you move on to the next one.  To make up for the short length of the levels, the game has 48 levels to play through, and gets tough after a while.    As the name suggests, you play as a chef in this game, and have to capture recalcitrant food items in each stage.  You need to knock out the enemy food items by jumping on them, pick them up with the net, and drop them in the cage area before the timer on each stage runs out.  There are a variety of powerups to help you out along the way.  The game is simple and repetitive, but is a fun game, and I like it overall.  The graphics may be small, but they look nice, and there’s plenty of animation here as well.  The game is well designed too, with a good mix of fun and frustration to keep you coming back.  The main negative here is that the game does get pretty tough eventually, but still, it’s a good, little-known game.  If you see it cheap, get it.

Outlander – One player.  This game was designed as a Mad Max game, but they lost the license, so it’s an unlicensed title that looks and plays like it’s set in a Mad Max-style post-apocalyptic world… because it is.  Yeah, they didn’t change much here apart from the name.  This game was also on Genesis, but this SNES version is slightly enhanced versus that version.  Unfortunately, it’s still a pretty mediocre game.  Outlander has two parts: driving, and side-scrolling action.  You spend a lot of the game driving.  The game has a behind-the-car viewpoint, with the usual linescroll and fake-scaling.  Enemies attack you regularly, and you can shoot them with your forward gun, or use side guns to hit enemies on either side.  YOu do have limited fuel and ammo, though, so watch your supplies.  When you’re in a town an indicator sign will appear, and if you stop and pull over, you can get out of your car and attack the people in town, trying to find food and fuel there to use.  You need to know to pull over, though — the game doesn’t make it clear ingame that you can stop in towns, but it’s essential.  The side-scrolling action is standard below-average stuff — you simply walk right, duck or jump to avoid enemy fire, kill/beat up the enemies, and keep going until you get through the town.  And that’s pretty much it.  Rinse and repeat the two above modes until either you win, or, much more likely, get bored (or get game over) and turn the game off.  Outlander isn’t terrible, I guess, but there’s very little here to make me want to play it.

Pac-Man 2: The New Adventures – One player, password save.  Pac-Man 2 is a side-scrolling adventure “game” where you can’t control your character.  Instead of moving Pac-Man around, he just goes around the screen by himself, and all you can do is move a cursor around, and try to get him to look towards where you’re pointing, or by interacting with something you can cause something to happen that might affect what’s going on.  Some people seem to actually enjoy this game, but I think that it’s one of the very worst SNES games that I own.  Trying to get Pac-Man to go where you want on the screen, or do what you want, is tromendously frustrating, and there’s not much of a positive upside here either.  The game is no fun at all to play, it’s just annoying.  This “you can’t control the character” concept did not work at all.  If you could just control him this game might be okay — not great, but maybe okay — but as is?  It’s horribly bad.  Avoid!  Also on Genesis, where it’s just as unplayably worthless.

Paperboy 2 – Two player alternating, password save.  Paperboy 2 is the second game in this classic Midway arcade game series.  While Paperboy was a popular arcade game, I never liked it very much, and I still find this series more frustrating and aggravating than I do fun.  The Paperboy games are easy to hate due to their challenge level.  Paperboy 2 plays just like the original game, except with some new neighborhoods to drive through, and with a choice of gender for your paperboy, or girl.  So, it’s still overly difficult and unfun.  Paperboys 1 and 2 are isometric games.  You drive up the screen on your bike, avoiding obstacles that come out of house yards, or the street, as you try to throw newspapers onto peoples’ doorstops. The problem is, you must be VERY accurate — if the paper lands anywhere other than in the mailbox or on the front porch pad, that person will unsubscribe from the paper before the next day.  Doesn’t matter if it’s one pixel to the right of the porch, they’re gone.  It’s cruel stuff, and kind of stupid too.  And no, of course you can’t stop and just put them in the boxes; you can’t leave the bike.  You can control speed and turning, but that’s about it.  You also cannot go backwards, not even a pixel.  Running out of papers is easy as well.  And it’s not easy to get lost subscribers back, either, so games for Paperboy for me always end in just a few days, as my subscriber count quickly drops towards zero, and I quit, wondering why I actually played this thing again.  This game’s no different.  The game has a little more variety than the original game, and you CAN actually beat it if you’re far better at this thing than I am, but still, it’s only marginally better, which means that it’s still not very good.  The graphics aren’t too great either; there are a lot of events to see, but the visuals are small and bland.  The only good thing about the Paperboy games are the little bonus areas you play through after getting through each day… but those don’t nearly make up for everything else.  Arcade port also available on many other platforms.

The Peace Keepers – Two or four player (depending on mode) simultaneous (with multitap). This game is a beat ’em up. It’s really the third game of the “Rushing Beat” series, though each game was released under a different name in the West: the first one is Rival Turf, the second Brawl Brothers, and the last The Peace Keepers. I don’t have those other two, but I do have this one, and it’s good. This is a solid, fun beat ’em up with good design and fun gameplay. There are four default players to choose from, plus two more unlockable during the game, so there’s some good variety. The game also has a unique feature for its time, that four player mode. Unfortunately, the 4p mode is in versus mode only — you can’t go through the main game with more than two people, all you can do is fight in a single-screen area with four human players. Still, that’s two more than any other SNES beat ’em up or fighting game supports, so it’s a cool feature. The main game has one important drawback as well, regarding the audio: oddly, you cannot have both music, and background sounds, at the same time in this game. Instead, you have to choose between one or the other in the options screen. This is disappointing; I really wish that the game supported both at the same time, because the soundtrack and atmospheric-sounds track are both pretty nice. I’d like to have both at once. I know some 4th gen racing games have “music or sound effects” restrictions, but I haven’t seen anything quite like this before. Other than that though, this is a good beat ’em up with decently good graphics, about as much variety as you’ll find in a 4th gen beat ’em up, and decent level designs. The game has branching paths, and you go in all four directions here, so this isn’t a “walk right only” game. I like this style better. The graphics and art design may not be the best in the genre, but they are good enough, and the gameplay is better. This game even has some special moves (with button combinations) and multiple endings! Yeah, it’s a high-quality production. It’s one of the better SNES beat ’em ups. The main drawback is that it has a high difficulty level, but still, it’s fun.

Phalanx – One player.  Phalanx is a shmup probably best known for that infamous banjo-player cover that they released in the US.  There is a little spaceship in the background, but the foreground is taken up with an old guy playing a banjo.  Well, it may make no sense and have nothing to do with the actual game, but at least it’s different… as for the actual game, though, it’s an average shmup.  This is an okay game, but I don’t find it all that great either.  I’ve gotten a couple of levels into the game, but that’s about it.  Of course, the high difficulty level has a role in that as well.  Some of that is because of tough game design, as expected from a shmup, but part of that is also because many of the enemy bullets are very hard to see.  Bullets are tiny and they really blend in with the backrounds sometimes, and it is a definite problem.  Phalanx needed slightly bigger, more visible bullets.  The game is largely a conventional shmup with decently nice graphics and mostly good gameplay.  The game does have some nice art design ingame, at times, and the powerup system is somewhat interesting — you collect weapons which you can also use as bombs.  Problem is, of course, if you use a bomb, you don’t have that weapon anymore.  You can switch between the weapons you do have on the fly.  The system works reasonably well.  Still, overall, I just can’t get excited by this game.  It’s okay enough, but it’s nothing special, and the frustration factor due to unfair deaths from hard-to-see fire is a factor too.  Originally released for the Sharp X68000 (in Japan only).  There is also a GBA version of the game; it’s largely the same, and does a good job adapting to the smaller screen, but that version adds high score saving and a level select, which is cool.  This version doesn’t have that of course.  There is also a Japan-only Wii Virtual Console release.

Phantom 2040 – One player, password save.  Phantom 2040 is a platform-action game based on the movie of the same name, which itself is based on a TV cartoon that was a modern update of the original The Phantom, which was (or is?) one of the very first superhero comic strips in the newspaper. The Phantom, “The Ghost who Walks”, is a guy wearing purple who protected the jungle from evil villains.  My local paper carried the The Phantom series back up to the mid ’90s, when they dropped it.  I was kind of disappointed, because it was decent.  I haven’t really read it since then, though.  As for the Phantom 2040 show, I haven’t seen it.  I got this because of my memories of the comic strip, and because I’d heard that it was a pretty decent game.  Well, that is true — this IS a solid, maybe even good game.  Phantom 2040 is one of the better Western movie licensed games on the the SNES and Genesis, I think.  The game is, as the title suggests, set in the future.  The game is a somewhat open-world adventure with a decent story (which is original; this isn’t just going by the story of some TV episode), as you can explore around, collect items, and more.  The game is often described as being Metroid-inspired.  You’ll spend a lot of time exploring areas, as you follow the game’s story from one place to the next.  You can always return to previous areas if you wish, though; it’s not railed.  Items come in the form of various weapons and items for you to use.  There are also the usual locked doors to get past as well; they can only be opened by destroying a specific key pillar.  The game is somewhat nonlinear as well, as there are multiple paths, and you won’t find everything or fight every boss in each playthrough.  There are a lot of bad endings in this game too; most of the 20 endings are negative, only a few are good.  But how does the game play?   That is the most important question of course.  Well, it plays fairly well for its genre.  You’ve got punches, kicks, and your various weapons to deal with enemies.  Some of the weapons and items are fun stuff, and you have a grappling hook, which is always great.  However, as is common in open-world games, the game can be confusing at times, and because levels are quite large and open.  Many paths are dead ends, or lead only to a powerup.  The game does tell you the general area where your next objective is, but still, having to explore through the levels can be annoying at times, for me.  Some openness is great, but I’ve never loved the really open-ended games, I prefer to know where I’m supposed to be going.  This game does tell you, but some of it’s up to you.  Also the passwords only save from the beginning of each level.  With levels as long as this games’, that can be an issue.  Still, overall, Phantom 2040 is a fairly good, and relatively unknown, game.  Super Metroid fans should try it; it doesn’t have that game’s production values or quality, but still, it is good.  Also on Genesis.

Pilotwings – One player, password save.  Pilotwings was a very early Mode 7 flying game.  It wasn’t a launch title in Japan, but it was in the US.  With Mario World, F-Zero, and this all out at launch, the SNES certainly launched with titles showing off what it could do.  Pilotwings is a civilian flight game, so it’s not an action game, but it’s definitely no sim either.  The game is a unique flight title where you control several different types of flying vehicles, each with completely different controls.  Your goal is to do specific missions.  Complete them fast enough and you’ll get a higher ranking and move on to the next level.  The game is somewhat short, but it’s fun while it lasts, and it does get tougher for sure.  The graphics are nice.  The Mode 7 ground is flat and blocky of course, as always with Mode 7, but it looks good for the time.  The N64 Pilotwings game is definitely better than this one, but still, I do like the variety, and it is fun to play.  There’s a helicopter, a jetpack, etc… fun stuff.  You do missions such as flying on rings or, with one plane type, shooting at targets, and then have to land.  Landing is one of the hardest things to do well, so a poor landing will ruin a good run’s score.  You need to land slowly and try to hit the center of the landing target.  Pilotwings can be a slow game at times, but it’s pretty good.  It’s not as good as its N64 sequel, but this is a good game.  Also on Wii Virtual Console.

Pinocchio – One player.  Pinocchio is a platformer, unsurprisingly.  The game is a later SNES game and has nice graphics and decent gameplay.  The game does have some issues, including its short length and sometimes average gameplay, but still, it’s alright, and good at times.  In the game you mostly play as Pinnochio, but there’s also a bit with Jimminy Cricket.  Oddly, that level is just a single screen in size, and it’s very short.  I don’t know why they bothered, and then made it such a minimal part of the game.  There’s another mini-stage where you have a very annoying memory game to get through.  The other seven levels are normal, though each one has a slightly different style.  As for the rest, the game has good graphics, but the levels are just large enough to be confusing.  This game doesn’t have huge worlds, but it does have good-sized areas to explore in most levels, and the game doesn’t always make it clear where you should be going.  This led to some frustration, particularly in a couple of the levels.  And even when I did know where i was going, the level designs are made to annoy.  The part on the boats certainly was at least.  Still, most of the time Pinocchio is a good game.  The game plays fine, it has some variety, and it’s fun enough to complete once, at least.  That won’t take very long, though.  Play if you liked the Disney movie.  Also on Genesis.  (Oddly enough, the SNES box says “only on Nintendo” on it, even though a Genesis version released in the same year that this one did, 1996… huh.)

Populous – One player, password save.  This game is a port of the PC original of the same name.  It sort of works on consoles, but honestly, not all that great… and this is the kind of game that’s very badly dated today, too.  I’ve always wanted to like Populous, but just never have.  I really dislike how tiny your viewing area is — you really can’t see very far at all.  It feels claustrophobic versus other strategy games which let you actually see the whole screen.  In this, it’s just a small diamond-shaped window in the middle.  Also, without mouse support, the controls are really no good here.  Populous is a complex simulation game where you play as a god, using your powers to build up your people as you lead them to victory over the other tribes, so you’ll need to do a lot of actions with menus and buttons, with a SNES controller that was never meant to control this kind of game.  Yeah, between the very dated game, and the controls, this isn’t one I’ve ever spent too much time with, and probably wasn’t worth getting.  If you want to play a Populous game, play the second or third Populous games on the PC.  Also on many other platforms.

Porky Pig’s Haunted Holiday – One player.  Porky Pig’s Haunted Holiday is a platformer from Sunsoft and Acclaim, but developed by a British studio.  Now, while I love Sunsoft’s Game Boy Looney Tunes games, I don’t think so much of most of their SNES offerings.  A few are good, but more aren’t.  Fortunately, this is one of the best ones.  Porky Pig’s Haunted Holiday has good graphics, solid gameplay, and some interesting level designs.  Overall it isn’t incredible, but it is well above average.  The game is quite short with only six moderate-length levels to play through, and it’s easy too, but while it lasts it’s a lot of fun.  This is actually the only game ever to star Porky Pig exclusively.  Sure, he shows up in many Looney Tunes games starring larger casts, but for solo acts, this is his only one.  Considering how popular a character he was, that is surprising.  The game has some somewhat odd parts, and the last couple of levels get weird.  I don’t want to spoil it, just play the game and see for yourself!  Porky goes to some strange places in this game, and it’s pretty interesting to see.  The graphics really are nice at times too.  You can tell that this game is Western-designed, this has that early ’90s Western, maybe European platformer flavor at times.  However, it does not have that European platformer rock-hard difficulty level, for sure.  That’s probably more a good thing than bad, though I do wish that the game was longer.  At the end, I was still having fun and wished that it’d keep going.  Still, Porky Pig is a good, or at least above average, game.  It’s well worth the short time it’ll take to play.  With good graphics, gameplay, and level designs, this is one of Sunsoft’s most fun SNES Looney Tunes games.

Power Piggs of the Dark Age – One player, password save.  Power Piggs is another game I did a thread for.  See that.  This really, really odd platformer is a completely strange game with some odd game mechanics, but overall I think it works.  But to back up, Power Piggs is an American-developed, late-release (1996) SNES platformer that feels like it was released half finished.  The manual has an amusing comic in it, telling the backstory of why these donut-loving Piggs have to save their fantasy world from the evil Wolffs.  Three characters are introduced, and you see all three on the main menu too.  However, only one actually exists in the game: Bruno, your character.  The other two only exist where their heads appear as checkpoint markers some of the time.  No reason is given for their absence.  The game also has only eight levels, and apart from the last level, they’re not that long either.  The last level is hard, but still, this is a short game.  It also has some very strange design decisions, such as that the passwords that the game is probably supposed to give you after level 2 and after level 6 aren’t shown; instead, the only password you get through normal play is the one after level 4, at the halfway point.  If you want to use those other two passwords, or see the hidden secrets (there’s a shmup minigame only accessible via code, for example), you’ll need to look up those passwords online (they’re all on GameFAQs for instance).  I recommend it.  As for the gameplay, I explain it all in the thread, but the game is a fairly typical Western action-platform game, with a unique twist.  The game has large, somewhat mazelike levels, plenty of enemies to fight and lots of stuff to collect, a strong exploration element as you search around the levels looking for powerups, checkpoints, and more.  But the most unique things are all the air vents in the ground that blow you into the air.  These are all over the place in this game, and if you enjoy floating around in them, you might like the game as I did.  If you don’t… probably this isn’t the game for you.  It is worth a try, though; it’s short, anyone who likes cartoony Western platform-exploration games like Lady Sia on the GBA will probably like it, and most people surely have not only never played it, but never even heard about it.  I’d love to hear the story behind the creation of this game sometime, it might be interesting.  This is a game which fell through the cracks, but some people will like if they try it.

Power Rangers Zeo: Battle Racers – Two player, password save.  This game is a Super FX semi-futuristic kart-style racing game.  The game uses an addon chip that does use the extra pins on the SNES cart, but visually it doesn’t look better than Street Racer; that game really is very impressive technically.  The game is full screen in single player, splitscreen for multiplayer.  Still, Power Rangers Zeo: Battle Racers is a solid, decent futuristic/kart racing game.  There are definitely better Mode 7 racing games than this on the SNES, but don’t completely overlook this one because of the license; you don’t really need to care about the license to enjoy this game.  I’ve never had much interest in Power Rangers, but do think that this game is alright.  The main issue that the game has is that it has some frustrating parts, and some tracks are questionably designed at points.  Yeah, this game gets a bit too tough sometimes, when you lose over and over to a particularly difficult course.  The graphics are nice though, and the game has plenty of content if you have the patience to get better at it.  The track designs do reward skill.  It’s an okay to good game, though.  People who like the Power Rangers will surely like this game more than I do, though; for me, the theme is a moderate negative.  But as there really aren’t all that many decent Mode 7 racers, anyone with an interest in them definitely should check this game out.  I would recommend trying this one before you buy it, though.  The graphics are good, and the controls and track designs okay, but it’s not quite as good as Street Racer.

Prehistorik Man – One player.  Prehistorik Man is a platformer from Titus where you play as a caveman.  Yes, that Titus.  But wait, it’s not that bad… it’s average, really.  Could be better, could be worse.  Based on a franchise from computers I believe (Prehistorik), this game was released near the end of the SNES’s life, in Titus’s big 1996 SNES games release dump (they released like ten SNES games that year…), but as with many of them, the graphics are dated compared to the release.  Still, the game looks okay, even if it doesn’t look great, and it does play well enough.  You walk to the right, hit the enemies, and rescue the girl at the end.  Yeah, it’s basic, but this is a fun, simple little caveman platformer.  It’s not nearly as good as the Bonk games, certainly, but it can be some fun.  The graphics are decent, the level designs okay, and the game competent.  There’s not all that much to say about this one, but it isn’t a bad game, it’s just straightforward — it’s your average platformer with acceptable controls and decent level designs, but without something that makes it truly great.  Still, it’s fun enough.  I do wish it had saving, but oh well.  Also on Amiga, I believe.

Raiden Trad – Two player co-op.  Raiden Trad is the SNES version of Raiden, one of the most popular and influential shmups of its era and still a great game.  The game was on many platforms, and this is not the best version (The Raiden Project for PS1 is clearly superior), but it is a pretty good version, and it’s the only fourth gen version of Raiden with two player simultaneous play included, too — even though Raiden is also on the Genesis, Lynx, TG16, and TG-CD, those versions are all one player only.  This one’s better than that.  Apart from that this version does have some oddities, including repeating one boss later in the game instead of having the original boss that other versions have at that point (and it’s a quite hard boss that second time, too!), as well as some slowdown (and even more in two player mode, naturally), but still, it’s Raiden.  The game has good graphics, good ship designs, great gameplay, great design, and more; I can see why this game was so successful and influential, and it deserved the success.  Raiden is a vertical-scrolling spaceship shooter, and the game has two weapons: a straight laser, and a spreadshot.  There are also two subweapons, straight missiles or homing missiles.  Weapons power up as you collect more of the same type.  And that’s all you get; Raiden is a fairly simple game.  Simple works when it’s done this well, though.  The levels are consistently fun to blast through, the enemy patterns are well designed, the checkpoint system isn’t too cruel (I did beat this game), and there are some nice surprises later on in the game, too.  Raiden is a great game, and this is one of the better versions of the game; SNES Raiden is a lot more fun than Raiden III for PS2, for example.  This game is great fun to play as you blast the waves of enemies, the buildings on the ground, the bosses, and more.  It’s a very well balanced game, playable with some practice by most gamers.  Raiden Trad is great.

Road Runner: Death Valley Rally – One player.  Road Runner’s Death Valley Rally is another Looney Tunes platformer published by Sunsoft.  This one’s good, though it has issues, as you might expect; it’s quite difficult to do a Road Runner game well, as the character can run so fast that it’s hard to come up with a game fast enough to handle him.  This game doesn’t quite manage it, but it’s not as bad as the Game Gear/Master System Road Runner game, at least.  The Genesis game is probably the best of the three, and that one’s interesting in that it lets you play as Wile E. as well as the Road Runner, but Death Valley Rally does have a few things going for it.  First, the graphics and animations are great.  Any fan of the classic cartoons will love the graphics and animations in this game, for level endings particularly; seeing Wile E.’s ears droop as he waits for that roller to land on his head at the end of the first level is quite amusing.  Second, instant-death pits are rare.  While you may be barrelling off into the unknown all the time in this game, you won’t be dying constantly because of it.  Also, the game has some interesting level designs.  In the game, you play as Road Runner, and have to avoid Wile E. Coyote, who chases you with different vehicles throughout the game.  He can be hard to avoid at times.  However, the levels are absolutely full of secrets to find, as you get points by finding flags which are hidden around each level.  You can try to run through the levels, or you can search them out and try to find as many as possible.  The levels are huge, and there’s plenty to explore.  As most people would expect, there’s a somewhat Sonicesque momentum system at work here, so you’ll need to get a running start to run up walls or steep slopes.  The levels are designed fairly well, but the platforms are small, and landing on them with controls as slippery as this games’ are is difficult.  That’s really why I like the Genesis Road Runner game more; it’s not as fast as this game, but by slowing it down a bit and tightening the controls some, they made a game that’s not so horribly slippery, like Death Valley Rally and the Game Gear game both are.  There are health-ups all over, and signs to warn you of impending danger, but still, you WILL hit many enemies, and it’s very easy to die.  The only way to avoid it is to go very slowly and precisely, but in a game about speed and skidding around, that’s frustrating.  But in this game, often you will have no choice if you want to stay alive.  Overall, Road Runner: Death Valley Rally is an okay game.  The game has great graphics and good level designs, but the speed, momentum, and very skiddy controls make this game a hard one to get used to and play well, and the controls are not good.  Still, it’s an okay game, perhaps worth getting for cheap.

Robotrek – One player, battery save.  Robotrek, from Quintet, is one of the few traditional RPG Enix released on the SNES in the US.  Yeah, they passed on Dragon Quests V and VI (and the remakes of I&II and III), but brought over over Robotrek, Paladin’s Quest, and The 7th Saga.  Huh.  I know I’ve heard that DQVI wasn’t released here because it would have been a ’95 release and Enix America was shutting down that year (they released Ogre Battle, but nothing else), and that V was probably because of the very NESlike graphics that game has (though The 7th Saga doesn’t look that great either…), but still, it’s a little odd.  Anyway though, that does mean that we got this game, and that’s a good thing.  Robotrek is a decent RPG aimed at a younger market.  The game has good, colorful graphics and simple but fun gameplay.  Enemies are visible on the map in this game, which is awesome; I’ve never really liked random battles in games like this.  By the developers of the Soul Blazer/Illusion of Gaia/Terranigma trilogy, Robotrek was Quintet’s only attempt at a traditional RPG, and they did a decent job of it.  You play as a boy going on an adventure, as you’d expect, only this time, you do so with robots that you can make yourself.  You can make three robots for your party, and it’s cool that you can customize your robots by changing their stats and equipment.  The robots fight in battle for you.  Only one fights at a time, but you can switch between them during battle.  Battles are somewhat strategic in that you can actually move around the battle screen, and characters have movement ranges too; it’s not just fighting between lines of characters.  That’s also great, I much prefer being able to move around the field in battle to your standard static lines and menu-only combat.  The game does have a somewhat childish theme, and isn’t the hardest game around for sure, but it’s fun enough to be worth a look.  It’s a good, well-designed game.

Rock ‘n Roll Racing – Two player, password save.  Rock ‘n Roll Racing is a racing game from Blizzard.  It’s their second and last attempt at the genre, after their first ever game, RPM Racing.  I haven’t played that game, so I can’t compare them, but it looks somewhat similar but with less detailed graphics and gameplay.  Rock n Roll Racing itself is a reasonably good top-view isometric racing game along the lines of RC Pro-Am crossed with level designs maybe inspired by both that game and Super Off-Road, for the jumps, bumps, and such the tracks are full of.  The game has that classic Blizzard art style, so the car and character art looks great.  The game is a weapons-heavy racing game, and the bombs and missiles are almost as important as learning the courses.  The tracks definitely take memorization; you won’t get through it on the first try for sure.  I don’t love this game, but it is good, anyway.  The track designs are annoying sometimes, because before you memorize them, you’ll be bouncing off the walls a lot.  It’s very much like RC Pro-Am in that regard, and I prefer Micro Machines to RC Pro-Am, myself.  The passwords only save your progress from the beginning of each circuit, so there are several races between savepoints.  The music is SNES-ized versions of some popular rock songs; I don’t like rock, but I do like videogame music, and this is good videogame music.  The game can occasionally be frustrating, and it isn’t quite up to, say, Micro Machines’ level in controls and track design, but still, it’s a good game with nice graphics and decently good gameplay.  Plus it does have a two player mode.  Also on Genesis and Game Boy Advance.

Roger Clemens’ MVP Baseball – Two player simultaneous, password save.  Roger Clemens was one of my favorite players as a kid, before he became a traitor by leaving the Red Sox for the the Yankees (not to mention his sad descent into performance enhancing drug use that seems to have started during his short in-between-those-two-teams time in Toronto), but unfortunately, his game is a very average to subpar title from LJN.  It obviously was mostly meant to sell based on the name attached, because otherwise it has issues.  The game does not have an MLB or MLBPA license, so it’s all made up players.  I know that was common in the 3rd and 4th gens, but still, that’s always unfortunate.  Many players are copied with similarly-named clones, but still, they’re not the real players.  The games’ most unique element is its camera in fielding portions — instead of using a zoomed-out view of the field, like Hardball, or a zoomed-in view of most other baseball games of the era, Roger Clemens’ MVP Baseball uses a somewhat odd behind-the-player view.  This means that you see from behind the player nearest the ball.  If it passes them, the camera will switch to the next player.  It’s strange and takes a lot of getting used to.  I never managed to get used to it, and found that it makes fielding quite hard.  The gameplay’s bland too, apart from that, and passwords are never good for sports games, either they’re way too long, or they save almost no stats.  This game’s are 24 characters long, so they’re in between — long enough to be annoying, but not so much as to save much.  There are definitely worse baseball games out there than this one, but I think that the behind-the-character viewpoint was more of a failed experiment than anything.  It is nice to see something other than the usual close-in-topdown view, though; I’ve never liked that camera at all in baseball games, I want to actually be able to see more of the field.  At least here you can, even if it introduces as many problems as it solves.  Also on Genesis, NES, and Game Boy.

Secret of Mana – Three player simultaneous (with multitap), battery save.  Secret of Mana is an action-RPG from Square, and it’s one of the more popular SNES games.  It is also the sequel to one of my favorite games ever in the genre, Final Fantasy Adventure for the Game Boy.  So, I should love it, right?  Well… not really.  Honestly, this is my least favorite of the Mana action-RPGs.  Secret of Mana has some significant strengths, including good graphics and music, three player co-op gameplay, and a long quest to play through.  There are three playable characters in this game, including a generic hero guy, a girl, and a little cute dwarf/gnome-like guy.  Each one has their own strengths and weaknesses, and it’s great that you can switch between them at will, and give orders to the others as well, for which spells to cast and such.  However, the actual combat is just … off.  See, in Secret of Mana, there’s a delay on your attacks.  When you hit, it doesn’t hit immediately; instead, it waits a second before the hit registers.  I HATE this.  It’s horribly annoying, frustrating, and really is very bad game design.  Also, you have an attack power meter, so if you hit the button several times quickly, you’ll only do a full power hit the first time; the others will be weak.  You need to space out your hits for it to matter.  I’ve never really liked these meters, either here or in platformers like Legendary Axe or Astyanax.  Final Fantasy Adventure didn’t work this way, and it had much better, more fun (and more Zelda-like) combat than this game has.  I never could really adjust to the combat in this game; playing it makes me want to play a better game instead, like Seiken Densetsu 3 (it gets rid of the hit delay issues, among other things, so combat in that game is much better), or Final Fantasy Adventure, or Illusion of Gaia.  I do like the graphics, the world is large and it’s some fun to adventure in it, and the story, though simple, is good enough for the time, but the combat really hurts the game.  There is one other flaw that really kills it, though — this game is very grind-heavy.  I stopped playing this game somewhere in the middle, but I can’t even count how many times I’d get to a new area, play through it, get to the boss, and then die in seconds because I wasn’t nearly a high enough level.  This game requires grinding — reach a new area, grind in the area up to the boss for a while, go back to town periodically to heal and save, and occasionally go through it and try the boss.  As there are no save points out in the wild — gone are the better days of FFA and its save-anywhere system, this time you can only save at inns — this is dangerous, as going too soon means a wasted trip.  Even though areas are on the small side, it’s a real pain.  There are plenty of things to like about this game, but I was disappointed by it overall.  I start up this game every once in a while, hoping that the battery has died so I can be freed from the obligation of maybe actually finishing this thing, but unfortunately, so far it has survived.  Ah well.  But overall, I like the Mana franchise, and this is a decent game and I can see why people love it, but it’s got some issues.  Play Final Fantasy Adventure, Seiken Densetsu 3, or Legend of Mana instead of this.  They are better games.

Shadowrun – One player, battery save.  Shadowrun is an isometric action-RPG.  The game has nice graphics, but I haven’t played it enough to get very far; there’s a definite learning curve at the start.  What little I played seems good, though.  You wander around, shoot enemies, try to figure out where you should be going, etc.

Skuljagger – One player, password save.  Skuljagger is a mediocre pirate-themed side-scrolling action platformer.  The game has a somewhat odd theme — your special abilities come from bubblegum.  Yes, you play as a tough pirate guy with a sword, fighting badguys… with his sword and his bubblegum.  Yeah.  It’s kind of weird.  As for the gameplay, this is a fairly standard Western sidescroller.  You explore around the levels, killing baddies and collecting the different colors of bubblegum that give you different powers.  There are three stages and a boss in each world, and the game has password save, thankfully; this game probably isn’t fun enough to play in one sitting.  It’s a decent game though.  The graphics are a bit on the bland side, and the mixture of pirates fighting with swords and … bubble gum magical powers? is strange, but if you like traditional Western platformers, you might enjoy this one.  It’s better than many, certainly, even if it’s ultimately mid-tier.  The game can be tough at times, but the password system helps you out.

Skiing and Snowboarding: Tommy Moe’s Winter Extreme – Two player alternating.  Winter Extreme is a ski and snowboard racing game.  This game is hard.  Indeed, its difficulty is the primary thing I take away from the game.  Winter Extreme does have decent graphics, a very good sense of speed, and some good gameplay, but that’s only if you can deal with that speed.  As you ski or snowboard down the huge, inter-connected trails of the mountain in this game, you’ll have to dodge a lot of obstacles, and try to stay on the trail as well.  If you miss, or go off too far, you’ll crash.  The game has tight time limits, a somewhat short draw distance, and high speeds, so doing that is much easier said than done.  It is good for what it’s trying to do on the Super Nintendo, but really the game needs a farther draw distance, and maybe slower speeds too.  If you stick with the game and learn it, though, there’s defintitely something here to see, as the game has plenty of races to try to win, and a good number of trails on the mountain to race on.  It’s a decent game, if you can get used to it.

Smartball – One player.  Smartball is a quite interesting and original platformer from Sony Imagesoft.  The game has some fun gameplay, a unique concept, and nice cartoony graphics.  The game is a cut-down version of the Japanese game Jerry Boy; sadly, all of the towns, conversations with people in the towns, and RPG elements have been removed from the game.  What that leaves is a side-scrolling platformer with only the most basic of plots.  If you want to play the full game, play the fan-translated rom, but the US cartridge at least has the gameplay intact, and that’s the most important thing.  Smartball is an interesting game because of its unique character and controls.  The original story is that you play as Prince Jerry, a prince who has been transformed by a spell into a jellylike ball.  Yeah, jelly/Jerry, in Japanese they are pronounced the same.  Also, the villain is your brother Tom, who has allied with the evil wizard… yeah, I get the reference.  Naturally there’s also your princess, Wendy, to rescue.  Smartball doesn’t have much of that plot left, as there’s no real story or introduction in this game, you just start from level 1, but you do play as a jellylike ball, wandering around the kingdom trying to save the day.  You don’t just run and jump in this game, though; instead, you have more unique controls.  You see, as you are a ball of jelly, you can stick to any wall surface.  Want to travel up walls, through pipes, and across ceilings?  Sure, you can do that.  You can also stretch out into a longer shape or toss out your center in order to attack or interact with the world in different ways.  This makes the gameplay quite unique; Smartball doesn’t play quite like any other 2d platformer out there, it’s its own thing.  Once you get used to the controls, the game controls great, and plays very well too.  Smartball is a pretty good, fun game.  It’s moderately easy, but some parts eventually present some challenge, and regardless, it’s a lot of fun to play as you go around with your ball-guy, finding your way through the levels and playing around with your jellylike state.  Good game.

Space Invaders – Two player simultaneous.  Space Invaders for the SNES is a late (1997) but pretty good port of this early arcade classic. There are really only two modes, single player or splitscreen, but the single player game has several different graphical revisions of the game available.  There’s the original black and white version, a version with a color overlay so that specific sections of the screen are specific colors, and a full color version.  It’s cool looking at all these different graphical revisions of Space Invaders, even if the core game is always the same.  And Space Invaders may be a simple game — move left and right, shoot the invaders, hide behind the shield blocks, and repeat — but it’s still pretty good.  The game is repetitive, and that is its main flaw, but it’s fun for a while for sure, anyway.  Just be sure to write down your scores if you do well; as this game has no ending, there’s really no other point to playing.  The other main mode is the new one: split-screen multiplayer!  This mode is interesting.  Each player faces their own seperate wave of enemies, and by killing certain ones, you can affect the other player’s side, with things like attacks, extra enemies, etc.  It’s fun stuff, and is well worth a try sometime.  Overall, Space Invaders for SNES is well worth getting if you have any interest in Space Invaders and find it for cheap.

Space Megaforce – One player.  Space Megaforce is a shmup from Compile, and it’s a somewhat valuable game — I spent $40 for this (cart only), which is the most I’ve spent for a Super Nintendo game.  I know that SNES prices are increasing, and I could have ogtten it slightly cheaper on ebay if I’d gotten it there and only bid low, but still, this game isn’t cheap.  It’s really good, but pricey.  Of course, Compile’s Genesis shmup, MUSHA, costs even more now than this one does; if you want a cheap Compile shmup, you’ll need to get their Sega CD or Turbografx/TGCD titles.  As far as the gameplay goes, Space Megaforce, called Super Aleste in Japan, is effectively a followup to Blazing Lazers for the TG16.  These games are not “giant robots in ancient Japan” games like several other Aleste games, such as MUSHA, Robo Aleste, and Spriggan, but instead are classic space shooters.  Those three games have powerup systems where you can combine different colors of powerups to form different weapons.  Here, you just choose from one of the numbered weapons available, and use that.  At least the limited ammo for special weapons that the original Aleste (released in the US as Power Strike on the Master System) had is gone in these games, thankfully.  I like the standard space-shooter setting, the graphics are great, and the weapons are fun to use.

So yeah, Space Megaforce/Super Aleste game plays a lot like that Blazing Lazers/Gunhed, but with slightly less content — it has the same number of levels, but several are short bonus stages — on the one hand, and better graphics and more weapons to choose from on the other.  Blazing Lazers looked outstanding, but this game looks even better, and the one stage with Mode 7 graphics is pretty cool.  It’s too bad that there isn’t another one, though; the one there is is fairly early in the game, and it would have been nice to see more Mode 7 style levels than just one.  I do love the greater weapon variety, however.  Blazing Lazers needed a few more weapon types, and this game has it — there are at least twice as many weapons here as that game has, and many more are good.  In that game I just always use the laser, but here a bunch of weapons are great fun.  The game also impresses for the SNES in its lack of slowdown — this game almost never slows down, even when the screen is full of bullets and enemies.  Quite good work here, and it’s too bad that Compile never made any more shmups for the Super Nintendo.  Space Megaforce is also a bit easier than Blazing Lazers, as while I have not yet finished Blazing Lazers (that game starts out easy, but the boss-rush stage near the end is BRUTAL!), I have beaten this game, several times, on normal difficulty.  On that note, it’s nice that you have multiple difficulty levels to choose from this time; Blazing Lazers has no options at all.  Space Megafore also has infinite continues, which Blazing Lazers definitely didn’t have.  Combined with the shorter total playtime, needless to say, this is a much easier game to finish.  Overall, I actually like Blazing Lazers slightly more than Space Megaforce.  This is a very good game, and was worth the money I paid, but that game is even better.

I do want to address one last thing, though — the alterations they made to this game from the Japanese original.  You see, in this game you play as this guy in a futuristic space fighter.  On the (US) cover you see the plane, and also this woman in a cyber-headset’s face on the right.  She does not appear in the actual game at all, though, not in either the intro or the ending.  That is because she was cut out of the game in its US translation, but somehow was put on the box.  Yeah, it REALLY makes no sense at all.  At the beginning, the intro cuts out the instant before the scene where it shows that she’s in the back of your plane, controlling the computer systems, maybe also weapons, and such.  Yeah, the reason why the music just stops suddenly at that point is because they removed the last seconds of the intro.  The rest of the intro (up to that point) is there, but not that last bit.  Both characters also appear on the options menu in the Japanese version, in somewhat super-deformed forms, but the art was cut from the US version.  And then at the end of the game, the original Japanese ending, where the two main characters save the day from the enemy machine, is entirely removed from the game, and replaced with a basic “plane flies away while the enemy base blows up” shot.  Sorry for the spoiler, but it’s very basic stuff.  And yeah, I really have no idea why the female character was left on the box, but removed from the game.  Note that the European version of the game is called “Super Aleste”, but in terms of content, it is identical to the US release — if you want the original intro or ending, you need the Japanese version.  Of course the text in the ending (there is no text in the intro in either version) is in Japanese, but there is a translation of the text on in the Endings section (there don’t seem to be any Youtube videos of the Japanese ending, at least that I can find.).  Still though, despite teh disappointing cuts, this US version IS worth it — the ending here may be worse, but it’s different, and also the voice samples (for weapon names and such) were all redone by native English speakers, and are actually intelligible in this release.  The Japanese version voices are … often hard to understand.  So yeah, overall, some version of this is highly recommended!  I do like Blazing Lazers slightly more, but Space Megaforce very good game.

Spanky’s Quest – One player, password save.  Spanky’s Quest is a platformer from Natsume where you play as a monkey who has to stop an evil witch who is doing some dastardly need or other, and now is getting chased around by evil, animate food items.  Yes, Spanky the Monkey, and he fights with balls, too.  Those people naming this game for US release must have thought that they were hilarious, but man is that US title dumb, juvenile stuff… but surprisingly, because this is a Japanese game and the stupid name (which is not the original one from the Japanese release) has nothing to do with the contents, the actual game here is pretty solid.  This is one of the games from the Bubble Bobble school of game design, a platform-action game with small stages (a couple of screens wide each, here), narrow platforms, and many enemies to deal with.  The game has okay but average graphics and sound.  The music is reasonably catchy, but isn’t anything great, and the graphics are similar.  It looks nice enough for an early SNES release.  The goal here is to get the required number of keys and then reach the door, though, so this isn’t one of the “beat all the enemies to progress” games like Bubble Bobble itself.  That’s nice, it makes it feel different.  The Game Boy Spanky’s Quest game has more traditional “defeat all the enemies” gameplay, so they changed things for the console release.  Also, your attack here is quite unique — Spanky throws up a small ball, which will get progressively larger as you bounce it repeatedly on his head.  You can press a butto nat any time to have the ball pop and, if you’ve bounced it enough, drop some kind of attack down from the ball onto enemies below.  If enemies touch you you will die, so you need to avoid the baddies while hitting them with bouncy balls, or things dropped from the balls, such as the max-power attack, a spread of five basketballs.  At first aiming the bouncyballs well will be a challenge, but you get better as you play the game more, and it is worth playing.  The game has passwords for each world, so you’ll need to get through ten levels to get the next one.  That adds some challenge to an only moderate-length game — there are only five worlds.  Overall, Spanky’s Quest is an okay game.  It’s a slightly above average platform-action game with some original mechanics and decent gameplay.  It isn’t one of the best games on SNES, for sure, but it’s an okay game.

Speedy Gonzales: Los Gatos Bandidos – One player, password save.  Speedy Gonzales: Los Gatos Banditos is another of Sunsoft’s SNES Looney Tunes platformers.  This one is one of their better ones; only Porky Pig is maybe better than this one.  The game was obviously inspired by Sonic the Hedgehog, as you might guess from a game about a very fast character, and it works well.  This game isn’t too zoomed in, has good level designs, and is a lot of fun to play too.  The game has some good level designs, fun challenges, and I like that someone attempted a Sonic-esque game on the SNES.  The game shows that it can work.  The graphics and sound are good as well; it looks like Looney Tunes, with some Sonic-inspired level designs.  Of course, you collect cheese along the way.  I like that it has passwords as well.  It’s a good, high-quality game.

Star Fox – One player.  Star Fox is one of the Super Nintendo’s more popular and successful games.  At the time I thought it looked interesting, but didn’t actually play it; my first Star Fox game was Star Fox 64.  And compared to that game… honestly, this one’s not that great.  The worst thing about SNES Star Fox, though, is its framerate.  Like all of the Super FX 1 games, Star Fox has a terrible framerate, and it really does hurt the game.  Compounding that problem is that there’s no targeting cursor in the game most of the time; there is one in the few in-cockpit parts, but therest of the time, you have to shoot to see where you’re aiming.  It’s really annoying, and is badly designed.  That bad framerate makes hitting what you’re trying to shoot harder, too.  Star Fox is an impressive effort for a 1993 console game, but it aged badly within just a few years of its release, and now looks even worse.  Unless you’re playing an overclocked copy of the game, I don’t know if this one is actually worth playing.  The game also doesn’t have the depth of the N64 game, either; instead of choosing your path based on what you did in the levels, here you just choose one of the three routes, and then follow it to the end.  That’s much less interesting than Star Fox 64’s design.  It does give the game some replay value at least though, which is needed with a game as short as this one (each path is only 5-7 stages long), but still, the sequel is a much better game in every way.  I can sort of see why Star Fox was successful, and Star Fox 64 is one of my favorite rail shooters ever, but I don’t really want to play the SNES game in its original form.

Street Racer – Four players (with multitap).  Street Racer is a Mode 7 kart racing game.  It’s a great game, and has to be one of the SNES’s most under-rated racing games.  The game is a technical masterpiece as well — even though it uses no addon chips at all, the game manages four player splitscreen, something that other SNES Mode 7 kart racers which do use addon chips, like Super Mario Kart or Power Rangers Zeo Battle Racers, don’t have.  Also unlike Mario Kart, in single player the game is fullscreen. This game also has much better controls than SMK does, so there’s none of the frustration I feel in SMK as the karts slip around — Street Racer’s controls are great.  About the only things SMK has that Street Racer doesn’t are battery save, projectile weapons, and vertical elements in the tracks, but those aren’t deal-breakers.  On that latter point though, what I mean is that in this game, other than the racers themselves, everything else is completely flat.  In comparison, SMK has some things that stick up, like the pipes in the first track and such.  None of that here.  That means that learning which parts of the course are obstacles and which can be driven through takes a bit of practice.  Still, the graphics are great, and the game better.  There are practice, championship, custom championship (you choose the tracks and settings), and versus modes.  In the versus mode, there’s a soccer game, where the players try to bump a ball into a goal, and a battle game where you try to knock the other players off of a stage (because, as I said, there are no projectiles in this game).  Instead of projectiles, in this game you have close-range attcks that you can use to hit your enemies.  It’s fun stuff, and dodges the usual Mario Kart random “what pickup did you get” element.  Both versus modes are fun and well designed.  Overall, this is a great game, and is the best kart racing game I’ve played for the SNES.  The game does have Playstation and Saturn ports (Japan/Europe only release on Saturn, all regions on PS1); both use the same tracks as this game, but with enhanced graphics and saving, and 8 player multiplayer instead of 4.  The Saturn version is much improved over the PS1 version.  Between the SNES and PS1 versions, though, the PS1 version may have those additions, but I have more fun with the SNES original… (There are also Game Boy and Genesis/MD (Europe only release for the Genesis one, all regions for the GB) Street Racer games, but they play quite differently from this game.  The Genesis game is good too, but I like this one more.  The GB one’s not so great.)

Stunt Race FX – Two player simultaneous, battery save.  Stunt Race FX is another one of the polygonal 3d Super FX games from Argonaut, and as with all of them, it’s got a very low framerate.  This game is potentially interesting, with some silly, somewhat cute vehicle designs, and is one of the earlier console racing games with fully 3d tracks, but the horrendously bad framerate makes it very, VERY hard to enjoy; I may find N64 framerates fine, but Super FX framerates are just too low for me.  20-30 fps, as you often saw on the N64, I can deal with.  But 5-15, as you see on the Super FX?  Argh!  I know some people are okay with Super FX framerates, but I’m really not.  You do get more used to it with time, if you keep playing the game despite the extremely slow play, but still, playing someting on more powerful hardware is probably a better idea.  The controls aren’t great either.  The framerate is a major part of this, but also, the cars feel a bit floaty and slow.  You really need to get used to the controls if you want to get around the tracks without hitting the walls all the time.  Also, while this game’s name has “Stunt Race” in it, there’s really almost no stunt racing going on here — this is a fairly traditional, if cartoony and somewhat arcadey, racing game.  One mode has a slight stunt element, but it’s very minor.  They should have come up with a more accurate title… oh well.  Played with a mod that overclocks the cart to boost the framerate, or in an emulator which does the same, this game is okay, but as-is, I don’t like it very much.  It’s just so slow and choppy, and the racing is just average really.  Learn the tracks, memorize when to turn, then do so in the races.  That’s pretty much how it goes.  The art style is good, and the game is impressive looking for the time and platform, but compared to other racing games, on systems more capable of 3d, it really suffers; the 32X aside, 4th gen consoles were not very good at polygonal 3d.

Sunset Riders – Two player simultaneous.  Sunset Riders for SNES is a slightly modified port of Konami’s classic Wild West-themed run & gun arcade shooting game, and it’s almost as great here as it was in the arcades.  It’s two player only, versus four in arcades, but otherwise, this game is just as much fun as the arcade original, and the arcade game was very, very good.  In Sunset Riders you play as one (or two) of four characters who are off to defeat the badguys and collect the bounties on the villains’ heads.  The game has good graphics and the great music you expect from a classic Konami game, and has some voiced dialogue too, so the presentation is great.  Two characters have twin pistols, and two have shotguns; choose the type you prefer.  There are powerups to increase your firepower, but not to change weapon types.  All of the levels from the arcade game are here, and all of the bosses and voice acting is here too, which is awesome — the Genesis Sunset Riders game is entirely different, and nowhere near as good.  There is some censorship, however.  First, the female bomb-throwing enemies were replaced with male enemies.  Also, the women in houses and the dance hall have been covered up; no scantily-clad women here.  The scene of your character drinking is removed too; he just strikes a pose, instead.  Second, the Indian enemies in the level they’re in are all removed and replaced with normal baddies.  The Indian boss is still here, but no others.  The Genesis version has less censorship — it’s got the scantily-clad women, the alcohol, and the Indian regular enemies — but it also does cut out the female enemies, they’re male in that game too.  The Genesis game’s levels are all-different (and boring) too, and it has no voice acting either, and only two of the characters (yeah, it’s a cut-rate effort).  But returning to this version, while it is a port of the arcade game, there are some level design changes, particularly to the Indian village level and to the last level.  The turret-shooting part in the last level is gone, for example, unfortunately.  Both of those are quite different here from how they went in the arcades.  Still, Sunset Riders is a fantastic game despite the changes, and it’s one of the best run & gun games around, too.  The arcade game may be even better, but this is an outstanding game well worth having.  I love this game.

Super Adventure Island – One player.  Super Adventure Island is part of the once-popular Adventure Island series.  While many people liked these games, I’ve never liked them as much as some people.  There are a few Adventure Island games I do enjoy, but this one’s not one of the better ones in my opinion.  The game is a very simple platformer.  Too simple, I would say.  In the game, as usual in the series, you walk to the right, and have to collect fruit to keep up your timer.  One hit kills you, unless you have the skateboard powerup, in which case you get two hits, and you get sent back a good ways upon death.  There are two weapons, an axe or a boomerang, and along with the skateboard, that’s it for powerups in this game.  Adventure Islands II and III for NES added a bunch of rideable dinosaurs, which was cool, but there’s none of that in this game, or New Adventure Island for TG16 either; these are basic- stripped-down Adventure Island games.  Those latter two NES games are better than this one.  This game is tolerable, but I’d much rather play something else… the gameplay is too simplistic, and the game gets boring quickly.  The one-hit deaths get old fast as well, and you do have limited lives and continues.  The game’s not that long, but I doubt I’ll ever care enough to want to beat it.  The graphics are decent for an earlier SNES game though, but that’s the game’s best feature; the gameplay is not at that level, not even close.

Super Battletank 2 – One player, password save.  This game is a basic first-person tank combat action/sim game.  It’s not really a simulator, but it’s not Battlezone, either.  You drive around, looking for enemy tanks to shoot, and, well, shoot them.  It’s a fairly simple game, and it is below average across the board — this game obviously wasn’t exactly a top-quality effort.  Given the theme and target market that’s not too surprising (real vehicular sims back then would have been on PCs), but it is true.  This is a generic military action game set in a generic Gulf War-knockoff setting, with plain and average gameplay.  Still, it’s not awful at least, just very plain.  Not much else to say about this one.

Super Bomberman – Four players (with multitap), password save.  Super Bomberman is one of many entries in the classic Bomberman action/puzzle game franchise.  As usual, in this game you play as a Bomberman character on a rectangular field of blocks.  You can drop bombs, and bombs will destroy destructible blocks.  Indestructible blocks are arranged around the field, while the destructible blocks (some of which have powerups in them), and free spaces, surround them.  You can’t move over blocks unless you have a special powerup.  In order to win, you need to blow up all of your enemies.  The game has a full single player mode made up of stages, with passwords, and a four player versus mode, with lots of options and settings.  The first of what would become, in Japan at least, five traditional Bomberman games for the SNES, the first Super Bomberman has, as usual, classic Bomberman action, except on the SNES this time.  Super Bomberman released in Japan in Spring 1993, as Hudson began to downscale its TurboGrafx-16 support and was working on moving to the SNES.  There was one final TG16 Bomberman game after this one, the Japan-only Bomberman ’94 (which did come to the US on Genesis as Mega Bomberman), but that was it, while this SNES series continued, yearly, until 1997.  Sadly only the first two of these games released in the US.  The third one did release in Europe, as well as Japan, but the last two were Japan-only.  Now, all five games, as well as most other traditional Bomberman games, are very similar, but still, each one has at least some unique characteristics.  First, Hudson added a 5 player mode to the latter three games; the first two are 4 players only.  Also, while all five games run on 13×11 fields, with similar gameplay, Hudson changed the art design between the second and third titles — if you look at Super Bomberman 1 and then 2, 2 looks like 1 but better, while 3-5 have a quite different look to them, with more simplified and streamlined designs that probably were cheaper to program, but aren’t quite as impressive looking as the second game is.  As for this first game though, it looks okay, but I don’t love the very cute art style and graphics; Super Bomberman 1’s art design is just … off… somehow, and doesn’t look great.  Honestly, I think I like the look of Bomberman GB (US) for the Game Boy more.  It’s hard to explain, and it’s just a matter of taste, but in both graphics and sound, I do like that game’s style more than this one.  Plus it also does have four player support on the SNES via the Super Game Boy.  I played Super Bomberman and Bomberman GB with some people at college once; I didn’t expect anyone to agree with me that Bomberman GB was the more fun game of the two, since it has no difficulty levels in its multiplayer, unlike Super Bomberman, and it has fewer maps and powerups, too.  However, they actually did agree with me — Bomberman GB is the more fun of the two.  Take that for what you will, but yeah, this game is good… but I’d rather play Bomberman GB, atrocious enemy battle mode AI and all. 🙂

Super Bonk – One player.  Another one of Hudson’s platformers for the system, Super Bonk isn’t as popular among Bonk fans as the TG16 games are, but really, it’s a quite good game.  I did a thread for this game a few years back, after getting the game, and yes, it’s still good.  The first TG16 game is probably better, but still, this is a great game.  Super Bonk was made after the three TG16 games, and it’s not longer than them, and also is missing Bonk 3’s 2-player simultaneous mode, but it does mix things up somewhat versus the original trilogy.  Most notably, this game is pretty weird in terms of its visual themes and locations.  Bonk’s world has always been a silly one, with its random mixture of modern-world elements and cavemen-and-dinosaurs stuff, but this game is even weirder than most — it’s got time travel, space stations, and more!  Yes, the locations you visit in Super Bonk are varied and original, compared to the past games at least.  The game also has pretty long worlds.  There aren’t all that many of them, but each one will take a good while to get through.  Levels are also a bit more nonlinear than the TG16 game levels are, and there are multiple routes too — you can take different paths some of the time.  There are even more minigames to find than ever, too.  So, Super Bonk is a crazier, more varied game.  The question is, though, does all that make it better, or not?  Some people prefer the relative simplicity of the TG16 trilogy, and I can understand why.  Sure, those games have plenty of silly stuff in them too, they’re packed with it in fact, but it’s not as off-the-wall crazy as Super Bonk.  I like this game, though; the crazyness is part of the charm, I think.  Super Bonk is also a very solid platformer with mostly good level designs, great controls, and good graphics and music.  There are some potentially annoying levels later in, such as in the space station, but still, this is a great game.  Recommended for sure for platformer fans!  This game has a sequel, Super Bonk 2, but sadly that game was only released in Japan.  I’ll have to import it sometime.  That was the last platformer in the Bonk franchise, unfortunately.  I have heard that Bomberman Hero for the N64 actually started out as a Bonk game, but it turned into Bomberman along the way; I think the game might have been better with Bonk, because as a Bomberman game it’s kind of disappointing because of how radically different it is from Bomberman 64, and because of the lack of any multiplayer.  Ah well.  There was also a modern Bonk 2.5d platformer under development, Bonk: Brink of Extinction, but it was cancelled when Konami shut down Hudson in 2011.

Super Castlevania IV – One player, password save.  Super Castlevania IV is an absolutely amazing game that deserves every bit of praise it’s gotten, and more.  This game is my favorite game in the Castlevania franchise.  As far as the plot goes, Super Castlevania IV is a “remake” of the original Castlevania, so here you play as Simon Belmont again, off with your whip in hand to take down Dracula and various other movie-style monsters.  The game is very different this time, though — it’s much longer, with maybe twice as many levels; the controls are better, with diagonal whip attacks allowed now; and of course the graphics are much improved as well.  The game was an earlier SNES title, but unfortunately Konami didn’t follow it up with more games like it.  Dracula X on TGCD is a great game, but I like this game more… and then Bloodlines (Genesis) and Dracula XX (SNES) are disappointing.  At least this one is great, though.  The long quest means that it’ll take a good while to get through, but the great password system is there to help you out.  The game even has separate passwords after each boss in the boss rush section at the end of the game, for instance!  Great stuff.  There’s also a harder difficulty level that you unlock after beating the game on Normal.  That’s nice, and it adds some additional play value.  I also like the Mode 7 parts; there are a few rooms that use Mode 7 to rotate around.  It looks cool, and it’s too bad that Konami didn’t use that in games again that generation, as far as I know.  The game does have slowdown, but I got used to it.  The graphics are a bit early-looking for the system, but still look great.  The music is fantastic, as you’d expect; this is a truly outstanding soundtrack.

Probably the very best thing about the game, though, is that diagonal whip attack you can do.  This is the only Castlevania game where you have full diagonal whip attacks allowed while both standing and while jumping.  Basically, here they near-perfected the whip… and then in the next one they reverted it back down to what it’d been on the NES, and pretty much permantently stuck with that afterwards.  Bloodlines does let one of the two playable characters attack diagonally while on the ground (but not while in the air) and the other one can attack diagonally while in the air (but not while on the ground), but that’s just a ridiculously cruel taunt for anyone who loved SC IV’s controls… Konami, you had it right this time!  Why in the WORLD didn’t you keep these controls?  They’re natural and great.  So, overall, Super Castlevania IV is an absolute must-play, and is one of the best SNES games around.  Also on Wii Virtual Console.

Super Chase H.Q. – One player.  Super Chase H.Q. is one of the later entries in Taito’s then-popular Chase HQ series of police-chase action racing games.  In the games, you have to chase down fleeing criminal vehicles, then bash them into submission once you catch up to that stages’ target.  They’re tough games, and the two different phases of each level — first the chase while you avoid civilian traffic, and then the fight against the other car where you try to bash them to submission before dying yourself — gives it a little variety.  However, this isn’t a series I’ve ever liked all that much, and honestly I like this game even less than the other Chase HQ game I own, the Game Boy one.  In this game, you’re in a first-person viewpoint only, inside the car.  Yeah, no third person camera.  That’s one major strike against this game — I very rarely play racing games from inside-the-car viewpoints, it’s just too restricted.  And indeed, that is exactly how it is here too.  But beyond that, I just don’t find the basic gameplay all that much fun either.  The chases are fun, but the fights are annoying and frustrating.  All you can do is just ram or bump the other guy, you don’t really get weapons to make things more interesting.  The strict time limits can be hard to meet, too, considering your limited options to take down the other car.  Overall, I don’t like this game all that much, but for its series it’s okay.  The car graphics are big and look decently nice, at least.

Super E.D.F. — Earth Defense Force – One player.  Super EDF is a horizontal shmup from Jaleco, and it’s a port of an arcade game.  The SNES version is faithful to the original, except that it has, as you might expect, a lot more slowdown.  The game itself is a fairly standard hori shmup, though this one is from the bullet-heavy school, more so than the R-Type or Gradius style.  There are a lot of bullets coming at you that you’ll have to try to avoid, so that slowdown can be helpful.  This is not a bullet-hell game, those didn’t really exist yet in 1991 when this game released in Japan, but you will have to do a lot of dodging.  There are a eight different weapons for you to choose from, but instead of picking them up from powerups, you just have to choose one at the start, and that’s what you have.  In that way, it’s sort of like, for instance, Gleylancer on the Genesis.  The homing weapon is the best starter weapon, so I’d recommend using that weapon while learning the game; enemies come from all directions, so weapons that only fire forwards can be trouble.  Memorization is key here of course.  The game has decent but not great graphics and music.  The intro is cool though, with a giant “E.D.F.” logo scrolling by with a drumroll playing.  Super EDF is a tough game, and it’ll take memorization and skill to get far.  There are only six levels, but the difficulty level here is high.  There is a continue limit, so you’ll be starting over often until you learn the game, or alternately until you give up, as I eventually did.  This is definitely not one of my favorite SNES shmups — I prefer the Gradius style to this more bullet-heavy one — but it is a decent game, worth getting if you find it cheap.  Arcade port, also on Wii Virtual Console.

Super Ghouls ‘N Ghosts – One player.  Super Ghouls & Ghosts is the third, and hardest, game in the Ghosts n Goblins franchise.  Once again you play as Arthur the knight, and have to rescue the always-kidnapped, and extremely hard to save, Princess Prinprin.  It’s an action-platformer set in a dark fantasy world full of monsters.  SG&G has decently nice graphics for the SNES with good Capcom art design, and plenty of interesting challenges to face along the way, too.  But for me, it’s the “challenge” part of that that really defines this game — this game iS HARD, and I’m not any good at it.  Sure, I can, and have, beaten the previous game in the series, Ghouls & Ghosts on the Sega Genesis… but SG&G?  Forget it!  This game is pretty much impossible.  I’ve never even managed to get past the second level, I must admit.  The levels are long and have multiple parts each, and when you die you go back a long way.  There are limited continues too, and no saving, and of course you hae to beat it twice, with those limited continues never going away, if you want to see the real ending. Yeah, forget that, I’ll never manage it.  I haven’t even gotten past level 2 on the GBA port of this game, where you can save, so my chances in the original release are even lower.  I like the two levels I have seen, as both have interesting, good level designs which aren’t just “walk to the right” but keep things mixed up with raising sections of ground, background areas to travel through, ships on the sea in the second level, etc, but it’s just too hard, way too hard.  Maybe G&G was a bit easy (I did beat the Genesis version in like two days after getting it…), but this one compensated way, WAY too far in the other direction.  At least they could have given you infinite continues, but as the GBA version shows, even with that I find this game crazy hard and can’t get very far at all.  But if you can handle it, there are some interesting levels to see here.  The game was originally designed for the SNES, but now is available in many collections.  The only other solo release is the GBA version (it’s mostly the same, but with a save system added), but collections on the PS1 and Saturn (Japan only for these), PS2, Xbox, PSP, and PS3 include the SNES game, and it’s on Wii Virtual Console as well.

Super Mario All-Stars – Two player alternating (in SMB1, 2, and TLL), or simultanteous and alternating depending on mode (in SMB3; the Mario Bros. minigames are simultaneous, main game is alternating), battery save.  This is a collection of remakes of the four NES Super Mario Bros. games, including the three US-released titles plus the previously Japan-only Super Mario Bros. 2 (Japan), aka The Lost Levels or Super Mario Bros. For Super Players (as it was called in SMB Deluxe for the GBC).  The games have all-new graphical overhauls, so they’re not the same as the originals, and also saving has been added in.  Pretty cool.  As for the games, the orignal SMB is one of the best, and most important, games of its generation.  It’s one of the great games for a reason, and yes, I love it.  I must admit I’ve only finished the game on GBC, but I like it a lot.  The Lost Levels is great too, but it’s very hard.  I’ve only beaten the slightly easier GBC version, “SMB For Super Players”.  SMB2 (US) is controversial of course, but the game is great, and I’ve always liked it a lot.  Honestly, I like this game just as much as SMB3.  Maybe even more, though I’m not sure.  And Miyamoto did make the original Doki Doki Panic FDS game that this is based on, so it’s definitely deserving of the Mario label.  Finally Super Mario Bros. 3 is the popular favorite.  I personally like Super Mario World more, but SMB3 is a very good game.  I just don’t like how short the levels are… they made lots of very short levels in this game, and they’re just too short.  I like Mario games to have longer levels than this.  Still, yeah, it’s a great game.

Super Mario Allstars was one of the earlier games I got for the SNES, but honestly I never played it all that much.  First, the battery in the cart was already dying when I first got it, so it’s been in my bag of dead-battery SNES for years now.  But also, while at first I thought it was pretty cool — I didn’t have a NES yet when I got this cartridge — after playing the games a bit, I decided that really I’d rather play them on the original system.  I then got a NES in spring ’08, and started getting the original NES Mario games.  Somehow, even though this has all of the games on it, it just isn’t the same as the original things… I like the original 8-bit art in these games more than I do the 16-bit redos.  Also the controls feel different, I think.  It’s hard to say, but sometimes they feel not quite as good.  Still though, if you get the rerelease or have a copy with a good battery, this is a cool collection.  It is a good way to play The Lost Levels, at least, though now it’s on the Wii Virtual Console this release is not quite as special.  Overall, this is a nice collection, but it’s not a must-have anymore, I think.  Some versions of these games is essential, but I think I like the original versions more.  Also on Wii (disc release).

Super Mario Kart – Two player simultaneous, battery save.  This game started the Mario Kart arcade-style kart-racing game series, and thus became a legend of sorts.  The game is a forced-splitscreen Mode 7 racing game.  You choose one of 8 characters, and there are three speed classes and four cups (each with five races) to play through.  There are a nice variety of environments to race in.  It’s a tough game though, and won’t be easy to finish.  Unlike the later Mario Kart games, there is usually only one field of item pickups per track in this one, so you need to use your weapons carefully.  Some have multiple sets of coin blocks (which you get weapons from), but not most.  I like the later games style here much more, more pickups makes the games more fun.  There is also a two player only battle mode with a few battle arenas to play.  Two player was nice for the time, but four would have been even better — and it is possible on SNES, as Street Racer and Top Gear 3000 have four player splitscreen modes.  Super Mario Kart is one of the games I bought when I first got my SNES in ’07.  I had high hopes for the game because of how much I loved Mario Kart 64 and because of all the worshipful praise the SNES Mario Kart game has gotten over the years, but I was quickly disappointed; SMK is a good game, but it’s nowhere remotely near as good as Mario 64, or other more recent titles in the franchise like Mario Kart DS or Wii.  My biggest problem with the game is the controls — Super Mario Kart’s controls are very slippery, and in more challenging tracks, just staying on the course is not easy, or much fun.  I never managed to finish the fourth circuit because of how frustrating the controls are, and quit the game instead of continuing to try; it just wasn’t fun enough to keep going.  Disappointing game, overall… but at least I also got Top Gear day one with my system, and that game turned out to be surprisingly amazing!  As for Mode 7 racing games, F-Zero is my overall favorite SNES racing game, and my favorite kart-style racer is Street Racer.  That game’s technically impressive, and has better controls than Mario Kart too.  Play it.  As for this game… eh, pass, unless it’s very cheap, which it probably won’t be.  Also on Wii Virtual Console.

Super Mario World – Two player alternating, battery save.  Super Mario World is another one of the first SNES games I bought, but this one I ended up liking a whole lot more.  The game is the fourth main-series Mario platformer, and once again you have to rescue Princess Peach from Bowser.  Yeah, this story was old back in 1990, and Miyamoto is STILL rehashing it?  Come on, stop being outdated and sexist and write even a slightly more competent plot already… but anyway, as for the actual game here, Mario World is one of the best 2d platformers ever made, and might indeed be my overall favorite in the genre, at least for 2d platformers anyway — Mario 64 is probably still my overall favorite platformer.  Mario World is very, VERY good, though, and gives it a stiff run for its money.  The game has fantastic graphics for a launch game; with Mario World and F-Zero there on day one even in Japan, the SNES really exploded out of the gate in terms of both quality and graphical prowess.  SMW has some slowdown occasionally, but it is a very minor issue, and most of the time the game runs great.  Sonic may be faster, but Mario in this game can run at a good clip too.  This is probably the only console where the two launch games are my two overall favorite games for the platform, but that is only a statement of how amazing both of them are.  Super Mario World is a bit short once you’ve played it, and can be completed 100% in a couple of days of moderate effort, but there are some tricks and hidden things to find, so it will take longer the first time.  Still, compared to games like The Lost Levels, or even Super Mario Bros. 1 or 2 (US), this game is on the easy side.  The battery backup helps make it easier as well, of course; you don’t need to play it all in one sitting, and can continue after getting game over as many times as you want.  But even if it’s not as challenging this time, and it isn’t as I got many fewer game overs here than in most of the NES Mario games, it is just as fun, and the game is full of brilliantly designed levels.  Anyway, the game is still tough at times; don’t expect it to all be easy, it won’t be!  The levels are large and full of enemies, platforms, unique hazards, and in some levels such as the Ghost Houses tricks and puzzles, and every one is a joy to play through.  Each world is different looking, and they’re all fantastic.  I wish the game was a little longer, but it’s exceptional as it is, so that is a minor complaint.  I’ve beaten this game 100% several times.  The battery in the cart has since died, but if I ever get the battery replaced, I’ll probably play through this one again.  Super Mario World is one of the best games I’ve played.  Also on Wii Virtual Console and GBA (in Super Mario Advance 2: Super Mario World).  There’s also a Super Mario All-Stars + World release out there for the SNES, but I don’t have it.

Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island – One player, battery save.  Yoshi’s Island is another classic platformer.  In this game, you play as a Yoshi who is carrying Baby Mario on its back.  There are various playable Yoshis in different colors.  Yoshi can’t die, but if you get hit, Baby Mario goes flying off your Yoshi.  If it goes 10 seconds without you catching him again, then you lose.  Baby Mario’s crying sound (when he’s knocked off Yoshi) is very annoying, but otherwise the music and sound are good.  The graphics are absolutely beautiful here; it’s really impressive!  The game has a “drawn” look that looks fantastic.  The game uses the Super FX 2 chip, but here it’s not for making a 3d world, but instead is used to make a lusher and better-looking 2d platformer.  There are a few polygonal elements used, but they are few and far between.  This game is considered to be one of the Super Nintendo’s best, and I can see why: it’s a great, great game, and is deserving of high praise.  However, I don’t like it quite as much as the first Mario World for several reasons.  Most importantly, this game isn’t as challenging as Super Mario World, to beat normally.  Because it’s not easy to lose, getting through levels is not nearly as hard as it is in standard Mario games.  The game does have a good number of levels, and it’s not short, but it isn’t that hard to finish if you keep at it, either.  However, the other major flaw is that if you want to perfect your work in this game, then it gets INCREDIBLY hard — you need perfect scores in levels in order to unlock some bonus stuff, and getting a perfect score in a level is quite difficult and will take many retries — you’ll need to find every needed item in the stage, such as 20 red flowers, and also not get hit at all, because the amount of health you have is a factor in your score too.  So, the game is a little too easy to beat the first time, but frustratingly hard to master.  It’s never just right, unfortunately.  I dislike that the basic platforming and level designs aren’t as hard as Mario World’s are, and the difficulty of trying to get perfect scores quickly gets unfun.  I doubt I’ll ever get all the 100% scores.  Still though, Yoshi’s Island is a great game, and I very highly recommend it.  It’s a classic for a reason.  Also re-released on GBA.

Super Metroid – One player, battery save.  Super Metroid is another one of the Super Nintendo’s most legendary classics, and it’s a game that some call the best game ever made, too.  And it is a great game.  The game is an action-adventure platform game, and you, as Samus the bounty hunter, have to explore a somewhat nonlinear world, find all the powerups, and defeat the Metroids and Space Pirates.  The graphics are fantastic, and the gameplay’s pretty good.  However, I didn’t play this game until after playing through Metroid Fusion and Zero Mission.  And honestly, I like Zero Mission more than this game.  Super Metroid may be a classic, but I also found it frustrating at times.  Even so, the the game is a really good game despite my issues with it.  Samus has a good variety of weapons and abilities to use, and you get more over the course of the game.  The story, while simple, has some interesting moments near the end.  And as usual in the best Metroid games, the game does a great job of making you feel like you’re all alone in a strange place, and the exploration element of the game is often fun, when it isn’t making me hunt for some randomly hidden item.  Fortunately, that still leaves a lot of the game as being fun.  Metroid’s formula of shooting, exploration, jumping, and item collection works quite well, and this game is vastly improved all around over the NES original.  The game does pretty much require a FAQ unless you want to spend forever on it, but they’re easy to find, so that’s not too bad.  And it has an ingame map, which really is absolutely essential; without that I highly doubt that I’d have ever finished this game, like how I have not finished Metroids 1 or 2, but with it, it’s doable.  I do wish, though, that the map actually showed all screens on it, like the Fusion and Zero Mission maps do.  Instead, secret areas simply don’t exist, which makes finding them, or re-finding them, harder and less fun.  Some older games have this issue, when they require you to find hidden things that there are no hints as to the location of so you just have to guess and randomly attack walls and stuff until you find what you need, and Super Metroid has that issue in spades.  Sure, it’s not as bad as it was in the first Metroid, and you do have a (semi-helpful) map this time, but still, there’s too much of it here.  Games like Zelda LttP also have this problem, in comparison to newer Zelda games which do not.  Now, some exploration and nonlinearity is okay.  I don’t want the game to tell me everything without me having to do any work for it.  But I also don’t like having to just completely randomly guess, and explore around the whole game looking for whatever it is I missed because the game won’t tell me a thing; I’d never have finished this game without a walkthrough, I can say that for sure.  In 1994, though, this game was one of the better games of its time.  I don’t love this as much as its diehard fans do, but it is a pretty good game, certainly, and the sense of style and atmosphere are rarely matched on the platform.  Also on Wii and Wii U Virtual Console.

Super Nova – One player.  Super Nova, known as Darius Force in Japan, is the second and final SNES Darius game.  It plays like Darius at its core, so the ship, weapon, powerup, and enemy systems and designs all are quite similar to other games in the series.  You get powerups by killing all the enemies in certain waves of enemies.  Make sure to get every one, they are badly needed.  Darius isn’t one of my favorite shmup series, but this is one of the better Darius games, along with Darius II (aka Sagaia) and Darius Gaiden.  The game has very good graphics and music, a high difficulty level, fast play, a decent story with multiple routes and endings (as expected in the series), and more; this is a great SNES shmup.  The game does unfortunately not have the two player co-op mode that the first SNES Darius game, Darius Twin, has, but otherwise is much improved over that title — it’s too bad about the multiplayer, but the graphics, sound, and level designs are much better and more interesting this time.  For some reason though, this game is a bit under-appreciated.  It’s much cheaper than some of the other better SNES shmups, and has some okay-to-good-but-not-great reviews, too.  Well, the game isn’t perfect, but I do think it’s pretty good.  Other than the multiplayer, I really have only one complaint, and that’s about how hard this game is.  Seriously, Super Nova is HARD!  The game is fast, there isn’t much slowdown, and there’s plenty of bullets to avoid, and you get only two continues and are sent back a long ways when you die, so the challenge here is quite high.  This is a tough game, and even on “Easy” I can’t get more than three stages into the game so far.  I’ll manage to do okay for a while, but one death and you’re doomed… starting over, with no powerups, will lead to rapid deaths.  This game can be frustrating.  Oddly though, the early bosses aren’t too hard; it’s the levels where I keep dying.  The game rewards memorization, and with time you learn the stages and obstacles and get better.  The good graphics, graphical effects like the warping backgrounds, how the screen rotates at some points in some levels, or bosses which fly in from the background, are pretty cool, and the good music helps as well.  Overall, Super Nova’s tough but great.  This is a very good game, and it’s much better than I was expecting!  Highly recommended.

Super R-Type – One player.  Super R-Type, from Irem, is another one of the games I got the first day I got my SNES.  As the first shmup I owned for the system I put some serious time into this game, and did manage to finish it. Super R-Type is an altered version of the arcade/Game Boy game R-Type II.  The game has decently good, though clearly very early for the system, graphics, and slows down badly on a regular basis.  The music is good.  R-Type II for arcades had six levels.  The GB version, otherwise reasonably faithful (adjusted for the small screen, but faithful), cuts one level for a total of five.  Super R-Type cuts two levels, but adds two new ones, and makes significant alterations to all of the levels that are kept, too.  As a result, this is more of a remix than a port.  Fortunately, the changes aren’t bad, and the new levels are about as good as the ones that they replace.  I would recommend trying this game even if you have played arcade R-Type II somewhere else (GB, GBC, X360 in R-Type Dimensions, PS1).  The game also removes all checkpoints from levels, so if you die at any point in a level, even at the boss, you are sent all the way back to the beginning of the level.  Yeah, it’s a cruel game.  Still though, this is classic R-Type, and it’s great fun.  Extremely frustrating for sure, but it’s the kind of frustration that keeps you coming back again and again, as you slowly memorize more and more of each level so that finally you can get through it without dying.  Once you finally do get through a stage, it’s really satisfying.  The slowdown helps make this a little easier, too — this game would be much tougher if the whole thing ran at top speed.  The game is beatable with effort, as you get infinite continues, unlike the TG16, SMS, or GB ports of R-Type 1; the limited continues make those games extremely difficult.  Overall, this definitely isn’t one of the best R-Type games, but it is a good game regardless.  It’s cheap, too, unlike its much more sought-after sequel, R-Type III.

Super Star Wars – One player.  Super Star Wars was one of the earlier great Star Wars console games.  There had been some 3rd gen Star Wars platformers, but all had issues, either too-high difficulty, mediocre design, or both.  Super Star Wars, however, is a very good game.  Sure, it’s not perfect either, but it’s good, very good.  The game is a loose adaptation of the first Star Wars movie; each level is based on a setting from the film, though the areas full of enemies, and the bosses, are mostly invented.  Some stuff gets pretty silly, though at least the enemies are all seen in the films sometime, generally, even if they usually aren’t in the places or ways you’re fighting them.  You play as Luke most of the time.  The game’s tough, but you will improve with practice.  Still, some levels, like the Sandcrawler levels, are pretty tough.  I’ve rarely gotten past the Sandcrawler, honestly, and I think that is true for a lot of other people too.  The game was an instant hit, though, and deserved it.  Super Star Wars was released in ’92, and showed off some great SNES graphics.  Most of the game is a side-scrolling platform-action game, but there are some occasional Mode 7 vehicle levels.  The game was a big success and has two sequels.  In some ways the sequels are better — there are force powers, a bunch of characters to play as, the Mode 7 visuals improve, and both have password save —  but the first one’s a classic.  This is one of the few SNES games that I actually played back in the early ’90s, and I liked it then, and it still holds up.

Super The Empire Strikes Back – One player, password save.  Super Empire Strikes Back, the second Super Star Wars game, is a longer, tougher game compared to the original.  The basic gameplay is pretty much the same as the first one, but the levels are new of course, and it’s harder.  It adds a password save system, but you’ll need it with this challenge!  I think that they made a bit too hard; it’s not as brutally unfair as the NES/GB The Empire Strikes Back game, but still, it is hard.  The snowspeeder Mode 7 level, and the side-scrolling shooter snowspeeder level that follows it, are particularly difficult.  I never got past that part of the game, myself… Still, with more characters to play as (there are often two characters to choose from on sidescrolling levels), force powers (as Luke only, and you get them once you reach Dagobah), and passwords, Super Empire improves over the original game in multiple ways.  Still, overall it’s probably my least favorite of the three games.  It is far, far better than that absurdly difficult and not much of any fun NES and Game Boy Empire Strikes Back game, though.  And it is a good game, and well worth owning as a part of this classic SNES trilogy.

Super Return of the Jedi – One player, password save.  Super Return of the Jedi is, naturally, the last of the Super Star Wars games.  The game is longer and better looking than its predecessors, and they toned down the difficulty level compared to the second game, too.  There are two or three characters to choose from in every sidescrolling level, which is great; I like the options.  As with the previous games some of the 3d-style levels are frustrating, though; the last two levels are levels where you go into and then out of the second Death Star, and the framerate is somewhat low, and the game a pain to play at that point.  I honestly prefer the top-down Death Star II levels in the Game Boy Super Return of the Jedi game, myself (it’s also on GG, but I haven’t played that one.  Looks the same though, but with color.).  On that note, I had that version back in the ’90s, and quite liked it.  It’s shorter and easier than this one, and has no force powers, but still, it was a good game.  It was funny playing this version, because in many ways it’s so similar, but it’s got more stuff… force powers, more and longer levels, more characters, and more.  But is it a better game?  Eh, I guess so, but not by as much as the visual difference might suggest — they did a good job with the handheld one.  This SNES version, though, is easily at least the second best Super Star Wars game, and might be the best; it’s tough to decide between this game and the first Super Star Wars, both are pretty good games.  From Tatooine to Dagobah to Endor to the end, Return of the Jedi has always been my favorite of the Star Wars movies, and this is one of the best 4th gen Star Wars games.

Super Street Fighter II: The New Challengers – Two players simultaneous.  Super Street Fighter II was the fourth version of this all-time classic fighting game, and gamers were tired of so many new versions of it, and didn’t buy the game in numbers nearly as high as Capcom had expected.  As a result, there wasn’t another Capcom fighting game on SNES for two years after this one.  It’s too bad that people chose then to stop buying SFII versions, though, because Super SFII is probably my overall favorite version of the game.  Sure, it doesn’t have turbo speeds quite as fast as SFII Turbo(SNES)/SCE(GEN) do, but it’s got a few faster settings, and it has four new characters, lots more character colors, and more, too.  This is a fantastic game, and SNES SSFII is probably my favorite SFII version to actually play.  I like the Genesis controller more for the game (for this game, six face buttons is awesome, four not nearly as good), but SSFII on Genesis doesn’t have nearly as good graphics or sound as the SNES version… but either way, SNES or Genesis, SSFII is a fantastic game and is SFII at its best.  I really like the addition of four more characters, and one of them, Cammy, is one of my favorites in the series.  The other additions, like six or more color options per character, are pretty cool as well.  The game looks and plays great; you couldn’t ask for better from a 4th gen console.  Apart from the loss of the higher turbo speeds, there’s nothing at all to complain about here.  SSFII has a good-sized roster, great gameplay, plenty of moves, and is probably the best fighting game on a 4th generation console.

Super Turrican – One player.  Super Turrican is an absolutely outstanding action-platformer game from Factor 5.  The game is based on the Turrican series of action-platformers that were developed by Rainbow Arts.  Essentially a hybrid of Contra (it’s a run & gun), Metroid (you have a ball form with bombs), and a Euro-platformer (the large level designs and game mechanics of the original two titles), Turrican was an intresting game.  The first one was somewhat flawed, but the second Turrican is most serious series’ fans’ favorites.  Still, Super Turrican is exceptional, and might be my favorite one.  It’s hard to choose, but this is a great game.  Factor 5 made Amiga ports of the first two games, but this game, and Mega Turrican on the Genesis, were the first ones Factor 5 made itself.  The two games are very different in a lot of ways, but were developed around the same time.  It’s interesting to play both and see their similarities and their differences.  Both games have the same core weapons, and some of the settings are similar as well, but in this one you have a freeze beam, while on Genesis you have a grapple beam.  (Super Turrican 2 for SNES has versions of both, plus a flamethrower too.)  Super Turrican was the first one they started on, I believe.  The game is one of the best games in its genre on the SNES, and really is a must-play title.  Factor 5 simplified stuff a bit versus the first two, so the levels are a bit more straightforward, you have a more forgiving health system (you have momentary invincibility after taking a hit, finally!), and the weapons are more powerful as well.  The graphics are great — Factor 5 really shows off their skill with this game.  Chris Huelsbeck’s soundtrack is maybe even better than that; it’s exceptional stuff.

The game and level design are for the most part outstanding as well.  It is still Turrican, but it’s a new, more console-styled Turrican, and it’s a lot of fun.  I like Turrican 2 as well, but this game is incredibly good.  As I said above Factor 5’s Turrican games aren’t as big and open as the Rainbow Arts titles, but this one still has some of the larger levels present, so you can do some exploring in many stages.  Some are more linear, but most have something to find.  The game has four worlds, each broken up into four areas.  One of the games’ few flaws is that it’s not balanced as well as it could have been, though; the third world particularly is strangely short.  The first world takes a long time to get through, but world 3, the ice world, is over in a flash.  The third world has almost no exploration, either.  I’m not sure if they were running out of time or what, but it is disappointing compared to the first or last worlds, both of which have large levels to explore.  The game is also a bit short.  If all of the levels were as long as the first one it wouldn’t be, but the middle section doesn’t hold up to the beginning or end, so it’s not.  Ah well, at least it’s incredibly fun while it lasts.  It is a beatable game, and I’ve finished it a few times on Normal.  It’s lots of fun, and I can’t recommend this game highly enough — it’s consoley enough for people who don’t like Euro-platformers to still enjoy it, but it’s still got some of that signature Turrican feel to it, too.  It really is a hybrid of both styles.  The last Turrican game, Super Turrican 2, goes almost entirely on the console side of things and is almost entirely linear, but this one isn’t like that.  Super Turrican 2 is a pretty incredible game though, so do play it… but play this one first.  Both games are on Virtual Console, and that’s the best way to play the second one, considering the prices that game sells for.  This one’s affordable for SNES too, though, so anyone who hasn’t played it before should get it!  There is a good reason why this is so high in my SNES top 10 list.  It is that good.

[As for Super Turrican 2, I don’t have it for SNES because of its rarity and high price, but it was released on Wii Virtual Console.   The game is a fantastic run & gun action game, but abandons almost all of Turrican’s open-world elements in favor of action set-pieces.  This game has the freeze beam AND a grappling hook, so it’s the only Turrican game with both a beam and grapple.  The game has fantastic graphics with plenty of visual effects, good music, and constant excitement.  If you like run & gun games, you’ll love it.  If you loved Turrican for its exploration side, though, as many Amiga/C64 Turrican fans did, you’ll find it disappointing.  I think it’s a very good game and like it a lot, but it is too bad that it has almost no exploration.  I don’t like it quite as much as the first Super Turrican, I don’t think.  It’s also a harder game, and I haven’t managed to finish it yet, unlike Super and Mega Turricans.  It’s a great game though!  Absolutely pick it up, on Virtual Console anyway before you decide whether to pay the price for the cartridge.]

Super Valis IV – One player.  Super Valis IV is a SNES remake of Valis IV, which was a Turbo CD game only released in Japan.  The series is a series of action-platformer games where you play as female characters (almost exclusively) who have weapons and magical powers.  The series has a history of having some fanservice, but also decent gameplay.  The original games starred Yuko, a modern Japanese girl brought into a magical world, but as after the third game Yuko can’t go to Earth anymore, you now play as another girl.  The levels in this version are similar to the original version, but they made a few major changes.  First, while the original Valis IV had four playable characters (one of them male, the only one in the franchise), there’s only one in this version.  You can only play as the main character girl, not anyone else.  To replace the other characters, they instead put in a powerup system that lets you save five powerups, which you can then use at any time.  The powerup system adds depth to the game, and I like it… but not quite enough to make up for the loss of those other characters.  The other girls from the TGCD game are more fun to play as than this one is, honestly.  The other major change is that they removed most of the story.  While the Genesis versions of Valis 1, 2 (SD/Syd) and 3 all have condensed but mostly complete versions of the stories in them, Valis IV for SNES cuts out everything except for the intro and the ending.  The Japanese version is identical to the US one, too; there are no cutscenes between levels there either.  Valis is a series which always had a focus on its story and cutscenes, so this really is a major loss.  If you want to know why you’re going to the places you are in this game… well, buy the TGCD version, and learn Japanese (or try to follow it from the voices and pictures).

As for the gameplay, at its core this is a Valis game.  That means that it’s a platform-action game where the main focus is on fighting enemies, and trying to memorize where enemies come from so you can react fast enough to beat them before they hit you.  Enemies in Valis games zoom in from all directions and move fast, so you really need good reflexes, and memorization, to get through.  Pits and such to jump over do exist, sometimes, but it’s more about the frustrating enemy placements.  And honestly, I’ve never liked that all that much.  The Valis games are okay, but they’re kind of annoying because of the enemy design.  I like the characters, and the gameplay is okay, but this series never reached greatness, not with its high frustration factor.  I’ve actually gotten to the final boss of this game, but despite the infinite continues, I eventually gave up because of how ridiculously unfair some of the fights are in the last level.  I wish it had a password system… but that’d make it fairer, and they didn’t want it that way obviously.  Ah well.  Remake of Valis IV, a TurboGrafx-16 CD game (Japan only).

Suzuka 8 hours – Two player simultaneous, password save.  Suzuka 8 hours is a Mode 7 motorcycle racing game from Namco.  As with most (or all?) Mode 7 racing games the courses are a bit short, so this game isn’t exactly real-world Suzuka, but it is a decent game with good presentation and production values, and it’s interesting to see a slightly more “realistic” take on Mode 7 racing.  Most Mode 7 games I’ve played are things like Mario Kart or F-Zero, not this… but even though it sort of looks like one at first glance, Suzuka 8 hours isn’t really a sim.  It’s nothing great, but it is a quite playable game which can be some fun.  I wish that the game had more and longer tracks, but there are several courses here, each longer than the last.  It will take practice to get through well; this may not be a serious sim, but you will have to learn the braking to get around the turns.  L and R are also helpful — they lean your bike.  The game also has a fuel system, so you have to pit occasionally (pull over by the starting grid).  Unfortunately the screen is always about split; in single player, the top half is full of the various gauges and such.  Still, the game looks nice, and plays okay.  It’s interesting to see this take at a different kind of Mode 7 racing game, and it’s great to see a 4th gen racer that is set in slightly more “realistic” environments than the smooth-curves-only style of most behind-the-car racers that generation.  The compressed size of the Mode 7 courses, and of course that they have to be compeltely flat (it tries to do some “warping” effects at times to mess with that, but it’s flat), does hold it back, but still, this is an okay game.  Don’t go in with expectations that are all that high and you might have some fun.  The game is dated, though, for sure; this game hasn’t aged nearly as well as a F-Zero.  Still, it was probably worth the low price I paid.  This is one of the only “3d” motorcycle racing games that generation; it’s this and some of the characters in Power Rangers Zeo Battle Racers and nothing else I know of.  So sure, look it up.

T2: The Arcade Game – Two player simultaneous, Super Scope and Mouse support.  The arcade Terminator 2 game was one I remember well from the early ’90s.  It was a light-gun style game, though some cabinets just had a “machine gun” shaped giant joystick, instead of actual light guns.  Either way though, it was a lot of fun.  In the game, you, well, shoot Terminators, as you’d expect.  Level 1 is a futuristic battlefield.  This is mostly something invented for the game (not much of this in the film), but it’s fun regardless.  You try to defend the human soldiers while fighting waves of Terminators and their vehicles.  Level 2 goes to the present, and you fight disguised Terminators in a warehouse.  Level 3… I never got very far in this game — indeed, I don’t think I’ve ever finished the second level in this game — but I liked it anyway.  So yeah, I don’t know level 3.  The SNES port of the game is one of the better ones.  It has mouse and lightgun (Super Scope) support, and I’ve played it with the mouse.  It’s a lot easier with a mouse than it would be on gamepad, so I recommend it — this game is tough enough as it is!  As with many ’90s lightgun games the game is very short, but makes up for it with a steep difficulty level.  Getting through level 2 in this game without running out of continues — and yes, you have limited continues here — is quite a challenge.  I’m not very good at this genre, so I always end up getting game over anyway.  Even so though, I can’t help but like this game; it’s a competent port of an arcade classic I liked as a kid, so I like it.  Also on many other platforms, but the SNES and Genesis ports are the better ones.  The handheld ports like the GB, GG, etc. versions aren’t as good, as you’d expect.

Taz-Mania – One player.  Taz-Mania is a behind-the-character running platform game from Sunsoft.  As such, it’s fairly unique; there are only a few games like this.  I guess it’s a little bit like 3-D WorldRunner on NES, but without that games’ Space Harrier elements.   In this game, you run along a road.  Your goal in each level is to get Taz to the end, avoiding or defeating the many enemies and obstacles that face you along the way.  The game is simple, but moderately fun, and I like how it’s different from the usual game.  In each level, you need to get (eat) all of the yellow chicks before you can complete the stage.  Other things, like bees, naturally hurt you.  You also need to jump over obstacles like water, and avoid cars coming at you.  There isn’t much to this game, and it gets repetitve, but it’s decently fun.  I don’t like this as much as Sunsoft’s Game Boy Taz platformer, but it is better than Sega’s Taz platformers, in my opinion… that first Genesis Taz game particularly is blind jumps, all the time, and I hate that.  Anyway though, this game’s not like that, it’s a simple run-collect-and-avoid game.  Get it if it’s cheap.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time – Two player simultaneous.  Turtles in Time is one of the most popular beat ’em ups ever, and for good reason — this is a great game, and probably is my favorite SNES beat ’em up, too.  It does have some competition there, but it’s certainly one of the best.  I never liked the second TMNT arcade game, which this is a port of, as much as the first one, but it was a great game, and this is better than the NES port of the first one, for sure.  First, it’s a Turtles game, and a good one.  That’s a big plus in its favor.  It’s also expanded from the arcade original, so it’s slightly longer.  I do dislike one addition, but otherwise, it’s an outstanding game. The game is perhaps a little bit easy, but even so, it’s so much fun that it’s got plenty of replay value.  You can play as all four Turtles in this game, of course, and though it’s two player only, that’s expected on SNES.  The graphics are quite good, and it looks about as close to the arcade game as it could.  It looks like the Turtles universe, which is great; the Ninja Turtles were one of my favorite things as a kid, and they’re still great.  I’m not sure if I like this game quite as much as TMNT III for the NES, because the levels aren’t as varied or complex as that games’ levels are, but for 4th gen TMNT, this is as good as it gets, and it’s pretty great.  Unfortunately the game is expensive now; I paid a bit, but it wasn’t nearly what it costs today.  But it’s a great Ninja Turtles game, so I can understand why there is demand.  I like this games’ graphics, gameplay, music, and almost everything else.  For flaws, I guess there are a few.  First, the levels are mostly just going-to-the-right stuff; you don’t have quite as much originality as Turtles III does in the parts where enemies come out of statues, or where you have to jump over pits, or the sewer level with water and a platform on the side too, etc.  Still, Turtles in Time does have obstacles to avoid, and has much better levels than the Genesis TMNT game (The Hyperstone Heist), so it does have that at least.  And the level designs are still good, except for that one part that’s one other flaw in the game: there’s this one boss where you have to throw enemies at the screen to beat him.  It’s a complete pain, and isn’t any fun at all.  That move isn’t easy to pull off, so getting past that part can be a chore.  That throw-at-the-screen move doesn’t exist in the Geneiss game, so it’s sort of a positive for this one, but on the other hand at least that means they can’t force you to have to use it.  And lastly, the game could have been a bit longer.  The game is only ~40 minutes long when you know what you’re doing and don’t die, while Turtles III (NES) is over an hour long.  But these really are minor blemishes on a fantastic game, and I can’t recommend this game highly enough.  It’s an awesome Ninja Turtles beat ’em up, done right, and it is of course a must-have.  Arcade port.  An altered version of the arcade game, with similar gameplay but all-new ( and not nearly as good) music, is unlockable in TMNT 3: Mutant Nightmare for PS2/Xbox/GC.  An HD remake of the game was also available on PS3 and X360 download services, though it’s since been taken down, and is considered to be worse than the original.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Tournament Fighters – Two player simultaneous.  TMNT: Tournament Fighters is one of the three games with this name, but just ignore those other two (for NES and Genesis); they’re not very good.  This one, though, isn’t just good, it’s fantastic.  In fact, this might just be the 4th generation’s best TMNT game, and it’s my second favorite SNES fighting game, after only Super SF II, too.  It’s just amazing how gigantic the quality gulf is between the SNES and Genesis Tournament Fighters games is, but that’s how it is.  So, the game is a 1 on 1 fighting game, in the Street Fighter style.  You can play as the four Turtles, and also some other characters, including Aska (the only female character other than Karai; oddly April is only playable in the Genesis game), War, Wingnut, Armageddon, and Chrome Dome.  The bosses, Rat King, Shredder,  and Karai, are playable just in the versus mode.  A lot of the characters are only from the manga, and Aska is exclusive to this game.  The game has good graphics, a decent if a bit thin selection of moves for each character, and great, well-designed gameplay.  This is one of Konami’s better fighting games; usually their fighting games are okay, but not nearly as good as stuff from Capcom or SNK, but this one manages to reach that higher level.  The characters are all fun to play as, the moves are varied and effective, and the gameplay and graphics fit perfectly.  Get this game if you like fighting games.  It’s simple compared to newer fighting games, but simplicity is not bad, and this is a great, simple fighter.

Tetris 2 – Two player simultaneous, password save.  Tetris 2 was a somewhat controversial game at the time of its release, because it has the Tetris name on it, and is Tetris-like, but isn’t exactly Tetris.  This game is a falling-blocks game where your real goal is matching colors, not making horizontal lines.  You destroy blocks by getting three of the same color in a horizontal row.  Then other blocks around them will fall.  Also, in addition to the colors, there are more shapes in Tetris 2 than in the original Tetris.  Still, it is enough like Tetris that Tetris fans will quickly get good at this, and that’s probably why I’m only mediocre at Tetris 2; I never was great at Tetris.  Howeve,r it’s not exactly Tetris.  The focus on colors instead of lines makes it a quite different game, and the additional, larger shapes that can fall also mixes things up.  Tetris 2 isn’t quite as good as Tetris, overall, but it’s a fun variant, and I think it’s well worth getting for puzzle game fans.  There is puzzle, vs. CPU, and two player versus modes.  The game has passwords to save your progress in the solve-the-puzzle-style single player puzzle mode, too, so there’s a good amount of content here because these puzzles are not easy, that’s for sure.  There are also several different backgrounds, which is cool.  There’s also one more mechanic, where you can raise or lower the level of where blocks come from on the other side in vs. cpu or two player games, which is cool and adds some tension.  Overall, Tetris 2 is a good game.  It doesn’t replace Tetris, but it is a fun puzzle game well worth playing sometimes.

Tetris Attack – Two player simultaneous, password save.  Tetris Attack is the Westernized version of a game called Panel de Pon in Japan.  The game is great and is might be the 4th generation’s best puzzle game, and it started what is now known as the Puzzle League series, too.  This game was the first SNES puzzle game I bought, and my first Puzzle League game, but it holds up when compared to just about anything in the genre.  Tetris Attack is an outstanding puzzle game.  The game is a tile-flipping puzzle game.  You select two tiles, horizontal only, and can flip them by pressing the button.  When three of the same kind touch, they’re destroyed, as usual in the genre.  The game has a somewhat more strategic feel than some puzzle games, though, because of how you’re using a cursor to flip tiles, and can flip anything on screen instead of only dropping blocks into a static field.  The game is challenging, fun, nice looking, and generally playing at least one Puzzle League is a must for anyone with any interest in the genre.  The only question is, which one should you play?  Well, this one has very nice graphics and music, a fair number of options including a “story” mode (defeat a sequence of opponents; quite fun!), a puzzle mode (solve premade puzzles with a limited number of moves; I’m no good at these modes, and don’t like it very much), a two player versus mode, and a line-clear mode where you win by clearing enough lines of blocks.  However, there is a drawback, and it was listed at the top: password save only.  This games has lots of passwords, as there’s a new one for each stage or puzzle in each difficulty level, so you’ll have to write down a lot, and it also means no score saves, either.  The passwords are short, but still, it is a negative with this version.  I like the Yoshi-themed graphics, and from what I’ve seen the original “Panel de Pon” version looks great as well… but honestly, today, I’d probably rather play Pokemon Puzzle League on the N64 or Planet Puzzle League on the DS.  The DS one adds touch controls, which makes it a quite different game (easier, in some ways), and the N64 one has the most features and modes of any version, inculding a very cool rotating-column-of-tiles mode.  There’s also the Japan-only version in Nintendo Puzzle Collection, which is the unreleased Japanese version of the N64 game, Panel de Pon 64, which was released here in Pokemonized form.  I’d like to import that sometime, though the main reason would be for the NPC-exclusive remake of Yoshi’s Cookie; the other two in the pack, PdP 64 and Dr. Mario 64, did release here on the N64 after all (though not Japan, in either case, on the N64).  Anyway though, there are quite a few ways to play Puzzle League, or Tetris Attack.  The SNES original might not be the best way, but it’s a great game with some cute Yoshi graphics and outstanding gameplay, so get it for sure anyway.  Each Puzzle League game has some unique elements to it, after all, and they’re all worth getting.

Thunder Spirits – One player.  Thunder Spirits is a modified conversion of the Thunder Spirits arcade game, which is a modified port/remake of Thunder Force III on the Genesis.  Each version has a few new levels added, so this one is about half Thunder Force III, about half new stuff.  As with the arcade game, it’s also linear, and drops the choose-the-order option of the Genesis game.  It also has much more slowdown than the Genesis game, unfortunately.  It’s clear that Technosoft weren’t quite as good at SNES programming as they were at Genesis; games like Space Megaforce and Super Nova show that you can do SNES shmups with minimal slowdown.  Even so, this is a great game that’s well worth getting for anyone who likes shooters.  Even if the music doesn’t quite match the Genesis, and it has that added slowdown, it’s still a Thunder Force game, and it’s a good one.  And there is some exclusive content here, as I said, so yes, play it.  As for the game itself, as with all the Thunder Force games, the game is a great horizontal shmup.   You get several different weapons, and lose the one you’re using when you die; others stay at their current power, until you die with them too that is.  It’s a good system and works very well.  The Thunder Force games have great level designs, and the third game had great graphics and music as well.  The graphics are good here too, at least, as are the level designs.  Thunder Spirits is just plain fun to play, as you fly through the levels, blasting the enemies.  And it may seem easy at first, but stick with it; this game gets tough later on.  While not one of the hardest shmups around, it won’t be nearly as easy to beat as you might think at first.  So yeah, Thunder Spirits is a great game, and it doesn’t cost too much either.  Definitely pick it up.

Tinstar – One player, battery save, Super Scope and SNES Mouse support.  TinStar is a light-gun-style shooter developed by Software Creations, and published by Nintendo.  The game’s a Wild West themed game, except all of the characters are robots, instead of people.  So yeah, it’s a bit like Wild Guns, except with more robots, more humor, and light-gun shooting action.  I wasn’t sure what to expect from TinStar, but overall liked it a lot.  I would absolutely recommend playing the game with a mouse, though; it’s nowhere near as good with the gamepad.  I’m sure it plays well with the Super Scope too, though it’s sure to be harder than it is with mouse.  The game has good graphics, a great, entertaining sense of humor, and multiple different types of stages to keep things interesting.  Sometimes you’re defending the jail, other times shooting it out on a train, and more.  The game is broken up into seven days, and at the end of each day, your character TinStar faces off in a one-on-one showdown against a boss enemy.  These can be tricky, and get harder as you go along, but do your best!  Overall, TinStar does get a bit repetitive, as usual from lightgun games, but it’s fun.  The save system is nice, too, and since the game has a battery, there’s some strong incentive to try again, play better, and get better results.  The game is short, but it does have replay value, and rewards better play.  Not everyone’s going to love it because of the repetition, but TinStar is a fun game well worth playing.

Tiny Toon Adventures: Buster Busts Loose – One player.  Tiny Toon Adventures was a popular cartoon in the ’90s, but I never watched it very much.  I loved the Looney Tunes, but the spinoffs, like Tiny Toons and Animaniacs, I didn’t watch.  Still though, some of the Tiny Toon Adventures games are pretty good, so I have a good number of the older ones, including both SNES releases.  These games are from Konami, and they live up to third and fourth gen Konami’s usual high standards.  This game is a good, if conventional, platformer, with very nice, large graphics, very good controls, a moderate amount of game to play through (it could be longer, but for a game with no saving it’s not too bad), and plenty of fun.  The music’s great too, as you expect from Konami.  It is unfortunate that you can only play as Buster, and that the game has a generic plot, but the gameplay makes up for it.  This is a fairly standard platformer, and you’ve got to run, jump (though you attack with a sort of jump-kick attack, do not jump normally onto enemies…), and dash your way around, defeat the other characters, and save the day.  There are multiple difficulty levels and some definite challenge too, at times.  Even if the game is a bit short, getting through it the first time will take a decent amout of time, and regardless, it’ll definitely be fun while it lasts.  Well worth picking up.

Tiny Toon Adventures: Wacky Sports Challenge – Four player simultaneous/alternating (depending on minigame, most are simultaneous) (with multitap), password save.  Wacky Sports Challenge was the first Tiny Toon Adventures game that I bought, back around ’05 or ’06, and it was well worth the purchase.  This game is a great olympic-style sports game, and it might be the best game of its kind on the SNES.  But wait, there’s more!  It’s not only that, it’s also a pretty good minigame collection.  So yeah, this is something in between Track Meet and Mario Party, with great 4th gen Konami graphics and sound, and four player simultaneous play too.  Yeah, go get it now.  You can play as Buster, Hampton, Plucky, or Babs.  That’s great.  However, the game does have a few problems.  Most importantly, while most of the minigames here are pretty good, the “racing” ones are disappointing, oddly enough.  Instead of being your standard “press the two buttons back and forth as fast as you can” olympic sports racing games, they’re more collectathon races.  The four characters all are on the screen, and you try to pick up items as you run through a course.  The person with the most items at the end is the winner.  There is fun and mayhem to be had, but it’s too bad that there aren’t any traditional races in a game where you would definitely expect to see them.  Other than that, though, this is a great collection.  There are those collection-focused races, weightlifting, and lots more.  Plus, there are some special events which are done in Mode 7 or behind-the-vehicle flight “3d”, which is pretty awesome.  The Mode 7 bungie-jumping game is great.  I like the hang-gliding game as well.  Overall, Tiny Toon Adventures: Wacky Sports Challenge is a must-have game.  This is the closest thing to Mario Party you’ll find on the SNES, and if you have anyone to play games with, pick this one up.  It’s not quite as good in single player, but still, it’s fun enough to be worth playing.

Top Gear – Two player simultaneous, password save.  Top Gear is a racing game from Gremlin, a British studio, and was published by Japanese studio Kemco.  It started Kemco’s varied, long-running, and usually quite good, Top Gear series.  It plays a lot like earlier Amiga racing games of Gremlin’s,  or Lotus on the Genesis too, but better.  One major difference is that Lotus only has you racing against the clock, but in Top Gear, you’re racing against a field of other cars, trying to take first place.  Top Gear was one of the games I got the day I got my SNES in ’05.  I wasn’t sure whehter it would be good or not, but once I tried the game, I quickly realized that I absolutely loved the game.  Top Gear is an exceptionally good “linescroll-style” racing game.  That is, it has that conventional Pole Position style, except with additions like rolling terrain and two player.  The game is, much like Super Mario Kart, forced splitscreen — in one player mode, a computer is on the lower half of the screen.  The two player is co-op as you go through the campaign.  I didn’t really mind this; sure, it gives you a smaller play window, but it’s not too bad.  And plus, the computer opponent on the lower half of the screen is a fun one to race against, because it’s a computer which actually doesn’t cheat!  I think that the one on the lower half is the only AI racer who actually has to stop at the pitstops.  It’s great that it does.  The other AI racers cheat.  Top Gear has only four songs, but all four are very good and extremely catchy.  The game is broken up into eight country circuits of four races each.  You get a password (a reasonable 8 characters each) after completing all four races of each country, and there are three difficulty levels each with their own passwords to try to complete.  Each one of the four songs plays on each track of each circuit, so the first song is on the first race of each country, etc.  Your car has a fuel gauge, so you need to watch it on the longer races, and stop for pit stops to refuel occasionally.  In a cool touch, your car speeds up as you run out of fuel in this game.  I’m not sure if any of the sequels do this.  You also have a limited number of turbos you can use per race.  There are several cars to choose, each with different stats and fuel usage.  I like the slower car which lasts longer on each tank; it can finish some races without pitting that the fast red car can’t.  I got quite addicted to this game, and eventually finished it on all three difficulties.  Fantastic game, and a real must-have for any racing game fan!

Top Gear II – Two player simultaneous, password save.  Again from Gremlin and Kemco, Top Gear II is similar to the first Top Gear, except with better graphics, a full-screen single-player mode, and much longer passwords.  This time you win money by winning races and can buy parts with your winnings, you see, so it needs a long password to save what you have.  I like the improved graphics and full-screen play in this game, and it still has the two player splitscreen campaign as well, but somehow, overall, I don’t like the game quite as much as the first one.  The music is good, but it’s not quite as catchy as the songs from the first game.  The graphics are quite nice, but even if the first one is simpler, I like its look more.  And long passwords are annoying to write down.  Still, Top Gear II is a good racing game, and it’s well worth getting.  It’s not better than the first game, but it is still a pretty good game.  Also on Amiga and  Genesis, though the Genesis port is, by all accounts, not as good — as with Gremlins’ other Genesis racers, Lotus and Lotus II, and their Amiga Lotus games as well, it forces you to choose either music or sound effects but not both, while the SNES Top Gear games all have both music and sound.

Top Gear 3000 – Four player simultaneous (with multitap), password save.  Top Gear 3000 was Gremlins’ final Top Gear game, as after the Super Nintendo, the series would move on to other developers.  At least they went out on top, though — Top Gear 3000 is a fantastic, and under-appreciated, game!  This is one of only two SNES games with a four player splitscreen mode.  Unfortunately as in the other one, Street Racer, it’s all vertical splits (four narrow vertical windows), so that classic N64-style cross split hadn’t been thought of yet or something, but still, it’s a very cool feature to have.  Top Gear 3000 is a futuristic car racing game.  It’s got good music, good graphics, four player races, a two player co-op campaign (unfortunately, as usual in games the 3-4 player mode is single race only), and new additions such as jump pads, special items, and health and power (fuel) recharge through colored strips on the ground, somewhat F-Zero-style.  You also have a limited number of turbos per race, upgradeable from the shop.  You don’t need to stop in pit stops anymore, now you drive over recharge areas.  The game still has money and upgrade systems as in the second game.  It still can be tricky however, particularly when you need to stop on the refuel or shield-recharge areas in order to fill up enough to finish the race.  This is a tough game, and finishing it will not be easy.  The game is only 24 races long in Easy difficulty, but is twice as long in Hard, so it’s worth it to play the harder mode.  You travel to many planets over the course of the game, so the environments are varied.  There’s a neat “ship flying to the next planet” cutscene after each race.  As in the previous games the core gameplay is linescroll racing though, so it’s all smooth curves only.  Unfortunately the game does not have raised highways, transparent floating roads, or other cool stuff like Outrun 2019 on the Genesis has, but I do like the gameplay additions here, such as the jump pads, warp pads, items (there’s a turbo, a jump, and more), and such.  It’s a strange hybrid of traditional and futuristic racing, as you’re in normal cars and the cars aren’t armed, but it’s set in the future on alien worlds, but it works!  This game should be enjoyed by anyone who likes either regular car or futuristic racing.  As with the second game the passwords are not short (16+ characters), but it’s worth writing down for a game this good.

Twisted Tales of Spike McFang, The – One player, battery save. The Twisted Tales of Spike McFang is a decent-playing, and pretty good-looking action-RPG from the mid-life SNES.  You play as Spike McFang, a child vampire who eats tomatoes instead of blood.  He’s also got some friends who act as NPC allies in the missions.  This game is a sequel to the Japan-only TurboGrafx-16 platformer Makai Prince Dorabocchan, but this one changes genres, and was released in the US too of course.  Unfortunately, while there are some good things about the game, it’s also got some frustrating flaws.  The graphics are a standout; the visuals, art design, and style are all great.  There are a good variety of enemies to fight, but fighting really is what you do here — don’t expect puzzles like a Zelda game.  Fighting and exploration are it, apart from the story scenes.  Also, there’s a bit too much grinding required at some points in this game.  I got quite frustrated with how sometimes I’d simply have to stop and grind some levels before I could progress.  Eventually, in the last world, I just dropped the game there, instead of spending perhaps hours more grinding before I was strong enough to get anywhere in the area.  This grinding is absolutely necessary.  Still, I did get fairly far into the game, and had fun more often than not while playing.  Each of the different areas you visit is fun to see, even if the settings are unoriginal (snow level, jungle level, castle, etc.).  The game has only five areas, so it’s on the short side.  The plot is basic; it’s enough to keep you going, barely, but isn’t anything really of interest.  If this game was for kids, I don’t know if they’d have the patience to keep playing through all the repetition that playing the game entails… still, it’s decent to good, overall.  I just wish it had more variety and less grinding.

U.N. Squadron – One player.  UN Squadron is a great horizontal shmup from Capcom.  The game has some original elements, and despite lots of slowdown, is one of the better SNES shmups.  UN Squadron is actually a licensed game based off of the anime Area 88, but for its US release the license was removed.  Still, if you’re looking, it is obvious that it’s an Area 88 game.  That’s okay though, as this is one of the great licensed games.  First, the graphics and sound are good for an earlier SNES game; there’s better on the system for sure, but still, the game looks and sounds good enough.  The game isn’t that long, as is common for shmups, but it more than makes up for that with a high difficulty level and somewhat steep difficulty curve, too. UN Squadron gives you three hit points per life, so you don’t die in one hit, but you do have limited continues.  There are three ships to choose from at the start, each with somewhat different weapons; each is piloted by a different character from the anime, renamed of course here.  The weapons’ firing patterns in this game are somewhat unique; machine guns, for instance, fire in bursts, so if you press fire once with the machine guns, you’ll fire for about a second or so before stopping.  You get used to it eventually.  There’s also an ingame shop, where you can spend your winnings on new weapons and ships.  It’s a very nice feature.  The most important unique element in this game, though, is that you can choose which mission to take at any time.  In the game the goal is to take over the whole map, from your starting airbase over to the enemies’, and you’ll be given several mission options most of the time.  You can then do them in any order you want.  I really like this, as it gives you more choice than other games.  The enemies on the map actually move towards your base, so you’ll have to win battles eventually if you want to keep them from taking your base, and the game.  It’s different and fun.  The levels are well-designed too, and the bosses are varied, interesting, and often a challenge.  Overall, UN Squadron is a fantastic game, and a must-have for shooter fans.  The game has an arcade-only spiritual sequel (with similar shooting gameplay but no map selection screen), Carrier Air Wing, but sadly that game did not get any home console ports; otherwise, this is a one-off title.  Arcade port.

Uniracers – Two players, battery save.  Uniracers is a fast and extremely fun side-scrolling racing game.  In the game you play as a riderless unicycle, zooming through stylized side-view rails that you drive on.  The game has a big stunt component, as you can do tricks while in the air, and you need to land right in order to score points — an early example of this kind of stunt system!  It works great.  Stunts help you gain speed as well, so they are essential.  The game is tough, until you memorize each track that is, but with how much fun this is, it’s well worth the effort!  The graphics are somewhat simple, with only the rounded lines you drive on, the two racers, and a background on screen — and often only your unicycle will be on screen — but with the speed, and general good quality of what graphics it has, the game looks pretty good I think.  This game is one of the better racing games on the SNES — highly recommended!  (Plus, yes, it has a two player splitscreen mode.)

Utopia: Creation of a Nation – One player, battery save.  This is a strategy game, and a port of the PC game of the same name.  The game looks and plays a lot like Populous, except it’s set in the future instead of the past.  Also on PC.

Vortex – One player, password save.  Vortex is a Super FX-enhanced polygonal 3d action game where you control a transforming vehicle and have to destroy the badguys.  The game, like Star Fox and Stunt Race FX, was made by Argonaut.  Your ship has four forms, including a mech, a tank, a jet, and one more.  Some levels are on land, while in others you fly through space.  The game is not auto-scrolling like Star Fox though; here you have free movement.  Vortex is an extremely ambitious game, with lots of stuff going on, sizable levels to fight through, multiple ship modes and weapons, and more, but it all comes at a cost, a framerate cost, and complex controls too; this game uses all of the buttons on the SNES controller, and uses some button combinations on top of that.  But about the framerate, yes, like all Super FX 1 games, this game has a quite poor framerate.  I think that this game simply tries to do more than the hardware can actually handle well; it’s playable, but the SNES is definitely better at 2d games than 3d.  The game is difficult, and the low framerate sure doesn’t help there.  The game is somewhat slow-paced, but still, this game is tough.  The game does have a map, which helps, but not all of your objectives are well marked, so sometimes figuring out where to go next can be frustrating.  You’ll also need to use a lot of hit-and-run tactics — the enemies are numerous, and charging straight at them is often suicidal.  Overall, this is an okay game, but this kind of thing really pushes the SNES harder than it probably should be; big-scale polygonal 3d action games like this need more powerful hardware than this.  Still, it’s an interesting effort, and people who can tolerate Super FX framerates will find a big, challenging vehicular combat game here.

Wario’s Woods – Two players, battery save.  Wario’s Woods is a unique, interesting and challenging puzzle game.  while the format looks like a fairly standard block-dropping design, but the game does some things differently.  Most notably, instead of controlling the blocks as they fall, instead you play as a character (a Toad) standing in the field, on top of the blocks.  You move around with the pad, jump up on top of higher piles of blocks, etc.  In order to play, you must pick up blocks, move them around to match them up, and drop them in order to clear them out.  So yeah, it’s basically your standard block-dropping game… except with a completely different control scheme.  That you control a character in the field instead of the blocks makes this game MUCH more challenging than most games of this type, and it adds a real learning curve, too.  Fortunately, the game has an extenstive tuturial mode that will teach all of the needed skills.  Definitely play through it.  Even then though, the game is complex; this game is good, but I’m not sure if it’s great.  Puzzle games are great in part because of their mixture of simplicity and depth, but this game is much less simple than most in the genre because of the controls.  It’s not something everyone will like, but it is an interesting game.  On the other hand, it is awesome that this game has battery save — this is one of Nintendo’s only puzzle games for the SNES with battery save, so it’s pretty cool to see.  IT really adds something to the game that other SNES puzzle games, like no-saving games like Yoshi’s Cookie, Tetris 2, and Tetris & Dr. Mario, or password-save-only games like Tetris Attack, don’t have: this one actually keeps track of your best scores.  The game is also on the NES; this is similar to that version, but has better graphics (both do have battery save though).  The NES version is available in the Wii Virtual Console, but not the SNES one, oddly enough. Needless to say, this is the better version.

Warlock – One player, password save.  Warlock is an above-average licensed platformer based on a movie I’ve never seen.  Well, why get the game then?  This was a game I’d played a little of back during the SNES’s life, and it had interested me, so I wanted to try more of it.  When I found a torn-label copy for somewhere around $1, I picked it up… and didn’t regret it.  While this game certainly isn’t great, it isn’t a bad game either.  The game is your typical platform-action game, and has you wandering around a variety of levels as you go through the story of the film; you play as this warlock guy who has to defeat evil and such.  Levels are decently designed, and there is an exploration element so it’s not entirely linear.  The level designs and controls are solid, and the game plays well.  It’s a somewhat average, but fun, game.  Try it out.  Also on Genesis.

Whizz – One player.  Whizz is an isometric 3d platformer published by Titus.  The game has bright, colorful graphics, large, complex levels to explore, and an excessively high difficulty level.  With strict time limits in the levels, multiple paths so you will not know where to go until you memorize the layouts, no saving or passwords, and limited continues, this game is just insanely, insanely difficult.  If you could save between levels it’d be doable, and maybe even fun, but as it is… sorry, I just can’t enjoy this game.  As it is, you wander around as the rabbit Whizz.  You have to collect stuff in each level, and that timer ticking down won’t stop until you find the next place you need to get to.  There are enemies, jumps, and puzzles along the way.  The game does look nice, and apart from the usual isometric-platforming issues plays okay, but overall, I find this game too frustrating to enjoy.  Each level individually can be fun, if tense and high-pressure, but with the life limit and no saving, it’s just not very fun.  The game is a port of a PC and Amiga game, and was later also ported to the Saturn and Playstation, though only the SNES version released in the US (the PC/Amiga versions were Europe only, and the PS1/SAT versions are Europe and Japan only).  I’m not sure if any versions support saving, which would be awesome; if they do, I don’t know about it.

Wing Commander: The Secret Missions – One player, password save.  Wing Commander is, of course, a classic space sim/flight combat series.  I always very strongly perferred Totally Games’ X-Wing/TIE Fighter games over Wing Commander, but Wing Commander is at least a decent space flight shooter, even if it doesn’t have X-Wing’s depth or genius.  This game is a port of Wing Commander 1’s first expansion pack.  Yeah, I have the first addon, but not the SNES version of the original game.  I got this as one of my earlier SNES pickups, because I was interested to see how well this game translated to the SNES, and because I found this one first, but haven’t picked up the original, becuase this series only moderately interests me, and because if I really wanted to play Wing Commander, I’d rather play it on PC.  Still though, this is actually pretty decently done.  The graphics and fake scaling look decently good, most notably.  The interface does take up a lot of the screen, so the play window is only partscreen, but it’s large enough.  The biggest issue here, though, are the controls.  As you’d expect from a port of a PC game that required a joystick and keyboard, this game uses not just every button on the SNES controller, but uses many button combinations too.  Memorize or print out a control listing before trying to play this game, you’ll need it!  As for the game, it’s Wing Commander, but shorter — unlike the good-length original game, The Secret Missions has only 17 missions in in 8 campaigns, versus 40 in the original campaign.  You’ll only play 15 of those missions at most in each game, too — there are alternate final campaigns for the good and bad endings.  You get a password between campaigns.  Of course, though it’s shorter, Secret Missions 1 makes up for that with a higher difficulty level than the original campaign.  Addons are expected to be harder than the games they expand, and this is no exception.  Overall, this game’s okay.  It plays as well as Wing Commander could be expected to on a 4th gen console.  It’s no replacement for the PC original, but it could have been a lot worse, for sure.  Also, this is the only 4th gen console release of this addon (yes, the Sega CD Wing Commander game is just the base title).  However, there was a second, computer-exclusive addon, Secret Missions 2, so to play that one, you will need to play it on the PC, Mac, or 3DO — Super Wing Commander for the 3DO includes both addons, joystick (FlightStick Pro) support, and enhanced graphics.  Yeah, the computer and 3DO versions are best, if you like this game.  This is good for its system though.  Just start getting used to those button combinations…  Also on PC and Mac, and 3DO in Super Wing Commander.

Winter Olympic Games: Lillehammer ’94 – Multiple players, mostly alternating.  The Winter Olympic Games is by US Gold.  And no, this isn’t one of their better games; quite the opposite, this is one of their bad ones.  US Gold’s Winter Olympics is an awful game that you should avoid.  This game could indeed be worse — this is much better than the Game Gear version, which I also have, because you have a much better draw distance in the downhill skiing levels, for example — but it’s still a quite poor olympic sports title.  There is a small variety of olympic sports to play, generic 2d graphics, and not not much fun in any of them.  The downhill skiing may be more playable than the GG version, but it’s still not very good, and it might be the best thing here.  The other ones… yeah, just avoid this.  Ski jumping is terrible, for instance!  It’s not worth the frustration that learning how to be good at it is worth, not at all.  Bobsledding is okay, but looks bland as expected.  If you want a decently good winter olympic sports game on a 4th gen console, I recommend Accolades’ Winter Challenge, for the Genesis and PC.  It’s much better than this game.  US Gold’s Olympic Winter Games is also on Genesis, Game Boy, Game Gear, PC, Amiga, and Master System (Europe only for the latter two).

World Heroes 2 – Two players.  World Heroes 2 is a port of the SNK Neo-Geo arcade game of the same name.  As with all of the SNES Neo-Geo fighting game ports, this game was made by Takara.  The quality of the SNES/Genesis Neo-Geo ports varies, to say the least — World Heroes 1 for Genesis is not very good — but this is one of the good ones.  Yes, World Heroes 2 for SNES is a great game.  Sure, the graphics aren’t nearly as good as they are on the Neo-Geo, but the game looks good, and it’s got all of the characters and modes from the arcade game, too.  No cut content here!  The game plays well as well; this is one of my favorite SNES fighting games.  World Heroes 2 has that classic SNK/ADK feel.  It’s a simple but great fighting game with a unique cast of characters, each of whom is pulled from a different period of history.  So, you’ve got the modern Japanese martial artist woman, an American football player, Blackbeard the pirate, a Ghengis Khan analog, Erik the Red, and more.  The concept is amusing, and each character is well designed, if quite ’90s in style.  Each character has a couple of moves; this game isn’t overly deep, but there is enough to keep it interesting.  As always this generation, the moves are only listed in the manual, though at least they DO list all of the moves in the manual.  Some games, such as the Mortal Kombat series, didn’t even do that.  The game has two modes, regular or Death Match.  In regular mode, you play standard best-of-3-rounds matches, on standard stages.  In Death Match mode, however, there are traps on the stages, such as landmines on the Vietnam stage, spikes in the death-arena stage, and more, and instead of playing to three rounds, you have one powerbar each that you’re trying to push to your side.  You won’t win based on a preset amount of damage, but on overwhelming the enemy, pushing them into the traps, and such.  Death Match mode is unique and interesting, and it’s my favorite part of this game — it’s quite different from other fighting games.  Unforutnately, after this game the series dropped Death Match mode, so it’s not in World Heroes 2 Jet or World Heroes Perfect.  That’s too bad, they should have kept it.  Also on Neo-Geo, Neo-Geo CD, and TurboGrafx-CD Arcade CD (in Japan only for the TGCD); the Neo-Geo version’s also in the World Heroes Anthology on PS2 as well.

Yoshi’s Cookie – Two players.  Yoshi’s Cookie is a one-off puzzle game from Nintendo, and was Yoshi’s second puzzle game of three; the first was Yoshi, and the third is Tetris Attack.  Each one has completely different gameplay, though, so they are not a series.  Yoshi’s Cookie is another matching-style puzzle game, though it’s got its own twist on things — instead of having blocks fall a few at a time, the fields come a screenfull of tiles at a time, and your challenge is, with your cursor, to flip the tiles to match them so that they are destroyed before the screen overfills with cookies and you lose.  Keep matching, and clearing cookies, until you’ve cleared enough to complete the stage.  The game starts with small fields of cookies, but as you get better the size of the field increases.  It’s an okay to good puzzle game that’s easy to learn but challenging to get good at.  I’d put this game as a mid-tier SNES puzzle game — it’s good, but not one of the system’s best.  The game is simple, and gets old faster than better, deeper puzzle games like Tetris Attack.  However, it is at least better than Yoshi (NES/GB game).  There are several modes: the main single player stage game, a puzzle mode (where you have to clear a specific field in a preset number of moves), and multiplayer.  The game doesn’t save, but does have levels; you’re simply allowed to play the stages in any order.  Also on NES and Game Boy.  There’s also a Japan-only remake of this game on the Nintendo Puzzle Collection for the Gamecube.  As with Wario’s Woods below, bizarrely enough, only the inferior NES version of Yoshi’s Cookie is on the Virtual Console.

Ys III: Wanderers from Ys – One player, battery save.  Ys III is a port of this side-scrolling action-RPG.  The game is a sequel to Ys I and II, which are top-down action-RPGs, so this is the “Zelda II” to those games “Zelda I”.  That said though, the Ys games aren’t Zelda.  They are fun, but simplistic, hack-and-slash action-RPGs.  However, the perspective change was not all for the better — this game isn’t as fun as Ys I & II are.  I can see why they switched back to top-down after this.  The game starts out with some backround story for why you, Adol Christian, generic male warrior hero guy and the main character of almost all Ys games and the only playable character in all Ys games through the sixth one, are in yet another new place, saving everyone’s problems for them as usual.  Once you’re done with the plot, you go to a dungeon, where you explore, fight monsters, level up, and repeatedly retreat to the enterance.  You see, when you go to the enterance of a dungeon, you automatically heal up — no need to go to town and rest, just going to the door will heal you.  The game has save anywhere, a common feature in this franchise, and you get an impressive 12+ save slots.  So, the game is simple: go into the next dungeon, grind at the front entrance until you are strong enough to progress, and then go deeper in and fight the boss.  Yes, it gets old after a while.  The YS games have always been extremely grindey, and this game is not exception, but the side-view perspective limits things versus the topdown games, and doesn’t add too much.  As for the graphics, the game looks okay, but the sprites are very small; you can tell that this game wasn’t on SNES first, the later SNES-exclusive (and sadly Japan-only-released) Ys IV (SNES), V, and V Expert games have much better visuals (and are top-down).  Still, even though this is far from the best Ys game, and probably isn’t the best version of this game either, it is a solid version of the game, and if repetitive, it is at least fast and easy to play.  Also on Genesis and TurboGrafx-CD; all three versions released in the US.  There’s also a remake for the PC and PSP (released in the US on both platforms); it’s pretty much a completely different game with similar settings and story, as it drops the side-view perspective, but it is considered to be much better than this original game.  Still, this game is okay.

Zoop – One player.  Zoop is a puzzle game released in the mid ’90s for almost every platform that existed at the time.  In the game, colored shapes move along paths on the four sides of the screen towards a central square.  You control a cursor on one of the grid points in the square.  You can move around the square, and by pressing the button, you shoot out the current shape you have.  This will switch the one it hits and all similar-looking ones touching it to that shape, or will destroy them if they’re the same shape.  You can’t move the cursor outwards though.  So yeah, the goal is, as usual, matching — if shapes moving towards the center hit same-colored shapes, they’ll be destroyed.  The game gets challenging quickly, as the shapes keep coming at you faster and faster, and you frantically move around trying to keep all four sides clear.  It’s an okay game overall; there are better, but this is a decent one.  Note: If you want a version of this game that saves your scores, you’ll need the PC or Jaguar versions.  Oddly enough, the PS1/Saturn versions don’t do that, and nor do the 16-bit ones of course.  Needless to say, that’d be a nice feature to have.  Also on Game Boy, Genesis, PC, Jaguar, Playstation, and Saturn.

About Brian

Computer and video game lover
This entry was posted in Game Opinion Summaries, Reviews, SNES and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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