ASP3The release of the SNES came during the same year (1991) as the end of the Gulf War. It was inevitable that games released during this era would take creative license with these events. A.S.P. Air Strike Patrol wraps a whole isometric shooter around a thinly veiled Gulf War scenario…sort of. In the game, the Zarak(Iraq) troops are invading Sweit(Kuwait) and we must stop the incursion.  The whole theme game takes place in a desert, naturally, and primarily during the day. You are given a set time, from around 2 to 3 days worth, to complete each of the eight missions. Each mission runs about eight hours, game time of course, but only in the last mission do you actually fly at night. At least when Pilotwings did it, it didn’t fly in the face of a core mechanic. Fly in the face of, get it? Ok, moving on.

I have to admit I picked this up knowing it wasn’t something I’d usually like. I was immersed in platformers and RPGs for most of my life, so flight sims weren’t really on my radar. On my radar…no? Anyhow, at first glance all my worries seemed confirmed. The menu is horrific, I don’t know what I’m doing and just getting the first mission to start was a feat. I started late at night so I could get a feel for the controls and hit the ground running the next day. Thirty minutes was not enough and I went into day two dreading it. It’s extremely important to push past that first hump. The game is by no means a masterpiece, but once the controls and menus are figured out I actually enjoyed it. You can set it to easy and manually save between missions, so even if you progress slowly, eventually you’ll power through.

ASP2All missions require you to bomb something on the ground. Sometimes it’s buildings, sometimes it is a mix of both buildings and troops. You can see your progress between mission runs in the horrible menu system, and building targets can be accessed during the mission on your map. This is super helpful, but sadly leaves off the troop targets if they are needed. Checking status between mission runs will leave targets as red if they are untouched, yellow if they are partially destroyed and looking like a green fire if they’re totaled.

That being said, not all planes can actually hit targets on the ground. Some, like the A10 bomber, will drop a limited number of bombs and have an infinite fire for ground troops. I used this guy throughout the entire game. The problem is that it can’t hit the fighter planes trying to shoot you, so you spend the entire time dodging them. The other option is to take a plane that only shoots these other planes, clearing the area, and then coming back to bomb. The change of planes it costly on time and it’s unnecessary. I’m sure they were aiming to make them more unique, but it resulted in sticking with just one for the entirety of the game. I never unlocked the other ones, was never sure how, and it wasn’t needed.

ASP4As you race the clock to complete a mission you balance your destruction of the opponent, management of supplies and public opinion. Each of these metrics is presented to you when a run is over. Public opinion is the only one that caused me issue since one level I apparently bombed a few civilian places to pieces. If this occurs to a bad enough degree, your game will end and you’ll have the media berate you. They’ll probably do this anyhow, as the game will allude to the constant coverage of the Gulf War by CNN. In game it’s the “GNN”, but for some reason still called the Gulf War. Seriously game developers, I’m only five games in and 60% of them have some obvious lack of imagination in the naming department.

The flying in the game is a bit difficult at first because you have limited direction to smoothly guide the plane. It takes a bit to turn, which is more realistic, and once you get a feel for it the controls are manageable. Not great, but functional. The hit detection however is spot on. You can argue that the bomb didn’t drop where you thought it would given your position, but when it lands, you don’t have to worry about being a pixel or two off. This is true for enemy attacks as well. It adds to the feeling of accomplishment when you rotate the plane just right and hit a small truck, turn, and do it again.

ASP5The targets were usually a decent size, oil buildings and scud missiles, two major focuses of the Gulf War. This made the primary buildings fairly easy to destroy even if one wasn’t a sharpshooter. Only later in the game do they require any accuracy, but since you are fighting tanks, you can just fire your normal rounds that don’t damage nearby buildings.

I said this game was clearly based on the Gulf War and I’ve tried to point out some of the glaring relations. In addition to all this there are also billboards of someone who looks like Sadam, and if you look at the date, it’s early January towards the end of the game. (Just like at the end of the Gulf War) However, all along the game starts making weird statements. Weird metal is found, and soon you find out that there were aliens behind the whole thing. Yes, reread that, aliens. In the end it turns out the Zarak troops were either aliens, or guided by aliens, which I can only imagine was to mess with us or to keep people from getting PTSD.  It’s OK to have bombed all those buildings and people, it was just evil aliens. OK SETA, whatever helps you sleep at night.

ASP6Beating the game results in a few endings depending on your stats in those three metrics. I had a little tough time with the public after the accidental building damage, so I received the ending where terrorist attacks occur and they think I should stay away from politics. Next time I’ll just let the aliens at them.

The game overall is decent. It’s a shame that it has a bit of a ramp up time until you’re feeling comfortable. By the time you really know what you are doing, the game is almost over. Other than the menu system, there really aren’t any major glaring flaws. However, there also aren’t really any major selling points. It’s reasonably short and on the easy side (when set to easy), everything else feels pretty average. I wouldn’t say replay value is high on this, but it’s definitely there, even if it’s to catch the humorous moments you might have missed. I didn’t set the bar high, but this game definitely exceeded my expectations.

 Guides:

Video Playthrough by Patrick So

 

 

 

 

The Verdict

5.3Mediocre

The Good: Hit Detection | Map in Mission | Difficulty Setting| Game Length | Save States

The Bad: Confusing UI and Options | Aiming | Limited Planes

2020SB_2 2020 Super Baseball as it is called in my games list, is more than likely Super Baseball 2020. Even the main screen drives this point home. However, I subjected myself to it, so we’ll use the first naming convention and add it to the list of games starting with a number.

I am much more comfortable with baseball than I am with soccer, having played it up through my teenage years. This is probably a good thing since areas that were traditionally foul, are fair, and places that would have been home runs are now reduced to singles and doubles. This is actually a neat change that encourages use of more of the field. It almost feels like they are blending in a bit of cricket. You never realize how unjust it is to discount a great hit because it drifted a few inches to the left or right of the almighty line until now. Thankfully in six years we find a solution. The problem I have is that in at least three cases that I remember the ball would get stuck in these areas, one of which occurred during the world series match. Admittedly I benefited by getting an in the park home run, but it doesn’t speak well to the game in general.2020SB_3

The other major difference between your run of the mill baseball game and this is the ability to upgrade your players. In the game you have a monetary system for each match. As the innings go by, each play gives one of the teams a bonus. For example getting a hit will give you 300 dollars/credits/renminbi or whatever it is, but a pop out awards the fielding team 800. After accruing some currency you can put it towards increasing the hitting/throwing/etc. power of your players. These come at multiple levels ranging from A->C with C being the best and most expensive. This buff lasts all game. I usually wait until I can get someone to second base with less than two outs and use it to try to squeeze in runs. The earlier you can reasonably upgrade the better. You’ll be more likely to get a hit which will up your money and your later at bats will benefit from the power up. The only downfall to rushing is if you get people in scoring position and cant capitalize since you can’t upgrade the current batter.

2020Baseball_3There are only two modes in this game. Full league mode and two player skirmishes. This made deciding what was “beating” the game fairly easy. There are two leagues, the “Exciting League” and “Fighting League” and within the exciting league are the “American Dreams”. Sold. The players are made up of men, women and robots with comical and sometimes seemingly racist names. The Tokyo Samurais have players such as Tenpura, Susi, Sasimi, Katana and Tunami. We see what you did, and we’ve had just about enough after 7th Saga. (More about this later)

Each match is a full nine innings at least, and a full season is fifteen games. There is no options panel so there is no way to shorten the game or the season. There is also no way to scale down the difficulty on the opponent AI either. There is, however, a password given after almost every game to return to that point in the season. The only time this isn’t true is after the last game of the season before the world series. The last game and the world series are played in tandem, so if you’re like me and lose it in the world series, you’ll be forced to play the last two games over again if you want the win.2020SB_5

For the most part the mechanics of the game play are fine. I did find that diving didn’t always get you there faster. It has a neat animation with the jets shooting out your back, but it seemed you had to dive to the left and right to really benefit. After you dive there is a decent delay until you could move again, so it was fairly situational. Sometimes there is auto-fielding, usually for popups. However, I have assumed it would be automatic and been rudely corrected as it drops a few feet in front of my pitcher. You have to make sure your player’s hands are raised to catch it. It will never be someone already covering a base, since they apparently get cemented upon touching them, leaving the rest of your team to actual field the ball. One gripe I have about the fielding is that the mini map shows only runners and not the fielders. This makes both fielding and running the bases difficult. You can hit the ball into right field only to have it bounce back towards the second baseman. You’ll start to run thinking you are fine and then from outside the viewable area an infielder will snag it, and now you’re pants down in the base path.

2020SB_4Overall the game is fine, but repetitive. Other than the ratio of robot/human players per team and their jersey color, all the games play out the same. It looks good enough, especially the cut scenes for special catches, but then you take notice of the fact only five unique people make up the stands behind the catcher.
There simply is no replay value except for nostalgia, though I suppose this could be said for many sports games. The thing that sets the game apart, the big modification of changing the field to be unique, leads to a fundamental game flaw of getting a ball stuck. It just felt like it had potential but was overshadowed by being rough around the edges.

As a last point, I mentioned earlier I would address the names of the players. In my World Series match I played against a team with a, let’s say, unique list of names. This included Himmler, Goebbels, and Kamikaze. Now, it is very possible/likely that this was someone modifying the ROM, but I kept my passwords and intend to get a screen capture. I’ll post this separately when I get around to revisiting the game.

 

The Verdict

4.6Poor

The Good: Passwords | Aesthetics | Upgrades | Reasonable Leaderboard | Creative Idea

The Bad: Lack of Difficulty/Game Length Options | Ball Glitches | Fielder Location

90Min_2

It’s important to preface my review by explaining how little I know and care about soccer. I also don’t care what the back of the box says, and what it’s called elsewhere in the world. Here in the US it is soccer and it will remain as such so that I won’t have to write “American Football” in just a few games. Lucky for me the World Cup was recently in the news and so I had some justification for picking Germany rather than closing my eyes and picking randomly. I quickly did a web search to see if the teams contained real players and it didn’t appear so. This means even if you follow the sport and know a certain player, you’ll still be reduced to just picking your favorite country (other than America of course). Yay nationalism!

90Min_3The game has a few different modes. The first two options allow for a quick game, or skirmish between the computer or another person. Why you would subject another person to this is beyond me, but there it is. The “You’re a Hero” and “All Star” also from my understanding are skirmishes, but with a twist. Obviously the Cup Championship is just the last match. For truly beating the game I needed multiple games, so this meant either doing a tournament or a league championship. Since the league championship was longer and resembled a “season” the most, this is what I settled on. There are thirteen teams other than your own, and you play each twice, making for 26 matches. On the bright side, the options tab allows for you to shorten each half to just a minute and make the AI a bit easier.

The game play is fairly simple though there are still pieces I didn’t truly figure out. During your possession of the ball B will pass and A will shoot. It took a bit to get the directions right not to launch it into the stands as a souvenir. On defense, B will steal if you are near the opponent and Y will perform a sliding steal. I loved this sliding steal, it was more satisfying than it probably should have been. That is, of course, unless I fouled the opponent near my end leading to an almost guaranteed goal.

Speaking of guaranteed goals, the opposing AI was a master at lobbing the ball up and head butting it in. It got to the point that as soon as the ball went up in the air I just braced for the annoying screech indicating they had scored. My goalie in his infinite wisdom felt the best defense was a good offense and would come out of the goal to greet the opponent as he did this. At some points I was able to jump and get to the ball before the AI, but more often than not the goalie would end up staring up at the ball in wide eyed glee as it went screaming past. Once I was done spinning the controller over my head like Petey Pablo in Raise Up, I would reset and start again.

Wind6_190MinuteEuropeanSoccerThe game will automatically save after each win/loss. I wasn’t entirely sure when the game went through the save process and after tinkering with it and taking a loss in game two I thought it best to reset a few seconds before the end of the second half. No flawless season for me though. With the short game time, you at the very least feel that you’re making process.

After a few matches I realized that you can change your setup in the beginning. Having no idea what this meant I just used trial and error and landed on the “4-4-3″ formation. I don’t know what that means, but it seemed to place people in a position that didn’t leave me too undefended or unable to score. This is also roughly the time I found the perfect shooting position. This is probably the single most important and useful thing I was able to find during my play through. If you can shoot from the bottom corner of the goal area, the goalie makes some questionable movements and is unable to block it. There is some timing related to this because as you approach the goalie will come out to meet you and if he is able to do that it will be blocked. However, if it requires the goalie to dive, he’ll miss completely. My route when I got the ball was pretty standard. I dodged down, then up to avoid the first two opposing players and then headed for the sweet spot. Done correct you can go from getting the ball to a goal in seven seconds.

90Min_4Having this key spot and knowing how to abuse it made the games fly by. Matches were only two or four minutes depending if overtime was needed, and almost all the matches became wins. I simply continued to steal as best as I could from the opponent and didn’t fret their headbutt goals. They would score, but since I could get upwards of eight goals in a game it didn’t phase me. Goals became pretty easy to get and the game that started as torture became trivial. This doesn’t excuse however that the score board didn’t seem plausible.

As I mentioned, I lost my second game (to Belgium). As I began my win streak I realized that now Belgium was also going undefeated. This meant I was going to stay permanently in second place until I had another shot at playing them. It provides the constant feeling that any one single loss could cost you the whole thing, and that you need to be near perfect to win the league. I found it took away any excitement from watching the leader board. There was no hope that I would gain, or increase, a lead because of another match. In the end it just made the wins/losses look silly rather than making it look like a tough competition.

25_1Seasons90MinuteSoccerOverall the game is just poor. The graphics are rough and super pixelated, to the point that the characters in game have no discernible faces. Normally I wouldn’t bash the graphics because this is an older system, but this game was released in 1995 and was the last game Namco produced for the system. I would have hoped that human face definition would have been a bit better by then. The AI is decent competition even on the lowest setting making me discover a repetitive “auto-win” move to reliably have a chance. Once you do this, any potential fun is replaced by repetition. Replay value is practically zero since the teams are made of imaginary characters and the ending is just a sepia picture of a generic team. Generic is probably a good definition for the entire game, as there is nothing that stands out about the normal game play. Maybe the “You’re a Hero” mode gimmicks are worth it, but I doubt it. The handling is pretty good though, so mechanically there isn’t too much to complain about. If you absolutely love soccer it could be worse, but for the rest of us, we’ll pass.

The Verdict

4Poor

The Good: Save Points | Adjustable Time/Difficulty | Stealing

The Bad: AI Scoring | League Rankings | Visuals | GOAL Voice

7thSaga_2 The name 7th Saga alone doesn’t really tell us much about what to expect, but one look at that box art and you know this is going to be an epic adventure. Looking back, “7th Saga” still doesn’t really make sense. Sure there are seven characters, and we’re going to hunt for seven runes, but how does that make this the “7th Saga”. This implies there were six previous Sagas. Maybe that’s the case, because there is time travel at one point, but the game doesn’t touch upon it. To be fair, I don’t read most of the text when I have a walkthrough, but I think I would have caught wind of these previous adventures.

We begin with choosing our character. In classic fashion we see Humans, the Elf and the Dwarf. However, if that’s too mainstream, there’s also the choice of a Demon, Alien or Robot. Early on you’ll get an apprentice, and your team will remain a team of two for the rest of the game. You can switch out your apprentice, but with a team of two I felt like the choices were limited. This is even more true when you factor in later events in the game. Melee do well against melee, and likewise magic users will be stronger against magic. This means you should probably keep one of each.

Melee: Alien, Robot, Dwarf
Magic: Demon, Human(Caster), Elf
Both: Human (Knight)

Having only one class that was in the middle eliminated him from my picking since with only one apprentice, my strengths would be lopsided. This would leave me fighting either melee or magic with this gimped half-useful character. Later in the game you’ll fight one “traitor” from this bunch, but it will never be the Robot, the Elf, or your apprentice. I wanted to avoid fighting a magic user because to compensate them for their low defense, they’re usually extremely strong. Due to a leveling nuance in the game this could be very bad, trust me. Of the non-elf casters, the Human (Valsu) is stronger so I went with him as an apprentice. This meant I needed a melee and seeing as I had recently been watching Desolation of Smaug, this was a no brainer. The dwarf (Olvan) it was.

7thSaga_3Walking around the world is standard, but one nice feature is the way an encounter is handled. Using Mode 7 graphics, the map is rotated to create the battlefield as your perspective changes. This is just so much nicer than a fade out and into the battle. The number of mobs in this game is noticeably limited. In the beginning it’s understandable, but as you progress through the game you just keep seeing reskinned versions of previous enemies. The attacks are mainly reused, the stats are simply raised. A significant number of these mobs, including mini bosses, are part of their own Power Rangers team, and even the names are lazy. In the above image we’ve got (from Left to Right) Demon, S.Demon, B.Demon, and R.Demon. Though I should be grateful since when they tried being creative, the three undead became Undead, Unded, and Undeed. Just awful.The townsfolk are identical, but it doesn’t hit home as hard since you aren’t dealing with them constantly. You are however subject to grinding the repetitive mob rainbow brigade. As a former Runescape and WoW player, this grinding wasn’t really bad at all. 7thSaga_5

One unique aspect in this game is the fighting systems application of defense. Normally we view defense simply as a way to reduce damage when we know a large damage dealing ability is on its way. 7th Saga uses defense also as a way of counterattacking by increasing the power of an attack after a round on defense. This forces a bit more thought than merely button mashing “attack” with a melee.

Once you acquire the first of seven runes, the wind rune, you can use it to teleport to any town you’ve already been to. In town you can heal up for just a few gold. This early teleport doesn’t work in caves, but it brings a flow to the travel that is perfect. You can explore with relative safety, but completing a long trek is still challenging. Distances between towns and castles/caves are enough so that the open world is still a consideration. This is a mechanic that at first glimpse seems overpowered, but is handled just right.

The monsters you encounter at times have you feeling clearly outmatched. Outside you’re wiping the floor with them, step into a nearby cave and all of a sudden a Sage hits you and your apprentice for full damage at the same time. It’s volatile. You’ll even take down an opponent and realize that someone else on the team can resurrect, creating a pecking order. You get used to it after awhile and every new enemy has you immediately on your toes. It’s actually a bit exciting, but I’m sure it wasn’t intentional. Leveling and gearing up over time will solve this. That’s all it takes really, pressure, and time. But Red was wrong, because once you get to the 3rd and 4th rune (Star/Sky Rune) all bets are off.

For both of these runes you find yourself fighting one of the original seven adventurers. To ensure that your neighbors will be privy to your extensive vocabulary, Enix places your opponents level five higher than yours and makes you fight them without your apprentice. Even this may not have you pushing your vocals to the max, so let’s talk leveling rates. (As I understand them)


From what I gather, the leveling progress is different in the Japanese and American versions. Leveling is faster and the rate of increase also improves as you level up in the Japanese version. This would normally just make the pacing of the game slower in the American version, but the apprentice opponents stay at the same rate as in the Japanese version. So for each level where your attack goes up, theirs will go up further. Since they will always be five levels higher, and their stats grow faster, leveling actually makes it harder! As a demonstration of the absurdity, the above YouTube video includes multiple matches clipped together to show how difficult this part becomes. There is a trick/bug that you can exploit, but still won’t give you any guarantee. The idea is to have your first character die and enter the battle with your apprentice. Since your opponent can’t make it a solo match with you (since you’re dead), they’ll one on one with your apprentice. At this point your apprentice can resurrect you and it becomes a two on one. It’ll level the playing field a bit and eventually you’ll persevere. Still may not want to attempt these parts while children are around.

Each new rune, except the last, can be used as a buff. For example, the water rune doubles as a reusable potion, and the sky rune will regenerate MP. This is super useful in the constant grind, and will keep you from having to continuously return to town for supplies. It also lets you save a bit of gold. Again this gives the immediate impression that it will be completely overpowered, but the balance is maintained pretty well while also giving you another reason to collect the runes other than “because that guy told me to”. Later in the game (during that whole time travel bit I mentioned earlier) you won’t have access to your runes, making MP management more crucial and travel away from cities more painful.

7thSaga_4 Past the 3rd/4th runes, the game can simply be outgeared and outleveled. The story line will carry you along from location to location until you have acquired all seven runes. At this point you find out that the person you set out to gather the runes for is your worst enemy and you’re a moron for handing over these powerful things. You wake up without your runes 5000 years in the past, hows that for punishment? You now set out again, leveling and grinding until you rescue the person capable of returning your runes to you. This time the runes won’t double as reusable items but instead will allow you to damage the final boss. Start with the Wizard Rune (the 7th rune) and then apply all the others until Gorsia is susceptible and you can return to your normal battle methods. I was level 50 at this point. The dodge on the boss is a little goofy, it doesn’t show him moving, you just miss. At first I thought I didn’t use the runes properly and ended up resetting and having to run back from the town. I guess when you’re chained up, you can’t move much…but then how exactly are you dodging me?

One last point is about the currency. When you die you will lose half the gold in your possession. To avoid this, at the towns you can buy gems. Since they are items they aren’t affected by death. They sell for the same as you buy them for, with the most expensive being a diamond at 10k. All items are capped at nine for carrying, so maxing out on gems of all types lets you hold 173,700G without risk of losing it. This is a large amount, but items in the end game can run upwards of 50,000G. Needing a weapon and armor for each of your two characters as well as an extra item like a shield means you may need six items in the 30-50k range. (Nothing like dumping hard earned gems so your caster can wear his sparkly tiara) Assuming you had nothing to trade in (you will) the total to gear out my two people comes to 296,000G. Even with gear to trade in, this number is still massive. After trading in the gems painfully slow to get the gold you’ll still come up short. I had hardly any deaths, and almost none cost me a large sum of gold but I found myself poor by the end of the game due to upgrading each chance I could.

Overall the game isn’t bad. It’s a fairly straight forward RPG and there are some neat new concepts like the defending and early teleportation that make it worth trying out. I can’t however get past the fact that in the American version there is a severe road block with the leveling issue. This makes the game nearly unbeatable and punishes those who don’t know about it ahead due to research or walkthroughs. Many players like to level up to a very comfortable level to enjoy the game, but as I stated, leveling up too high could put you in a spot where the other adventurers are far too strong when you have to go and fight them. At this point it’s too late, as you can’t level down, and you have no choice but to use the apprentice two-on-one “bug” to win. If there was a Japanese port, I would suggest using that, because I’d rather learn the Kanji and enjoy the actual gameplay rather than deal with those two sections. Plus, I’m interested in the translation that made Undead, Unded, and Undeed.

 

Resources:

The Verdict

5.8Mediocre

The Good: Early Town Teleporting | Defense Battle Mechanic | Reusable Items | Battle Transition

The Bad: Skewed Leveling | Repetitive Mobs/Townsfolk | Currency System

3Ninjas_2

There is something about the late 80′s and early 90′s that just screams martial arts. On television, there was the widely popular Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987) and Power Rangers (1993). Our gaming systems were just starting the franchises for Street Fighter (1987) and Mortal Kombat (1992). At the movie’s we saw the emergence of Jean-Claude Van Damme and Steven Seagal, and of particular note for this game, Karate Kid (1984). Since I’ve never actually seen a 3 Ninjas movie the choice of character didn’t mean anything to me. Regardless of who I picked, I called him Daniel-san. The grandfather “Mori”, you guessed it, he’s Mr. Miyagi. For the record, I picked the Green Daniel-San.

The game has fairly strong handling. You will move where you want, and jumps are clean. Your character doesn’t run like it’s skating on ice. The combat is a simple button to attack with direction to modify it slightly. There are bombs as well, but I never got the hang of them. One bomb drops like an egg and the other is thrown. Ninjas are always trying to give me a bear hug, so I usually throw it past them. The egg ones can be useful, but are usually more work than they’re worth. The only thing worth actually learning outside of being a neanderthal button masher is that for Green Daniel-San (Not sure about others) you can use the Up+Attack ability to create a helicopter motion that can also deflect shurikens.

The game makes use of ropes and branches at a few points and sometimes the detection is hit or miss. 3Ninjas_3To compound this, there are usually traps under them which punish you for having the audacity to use the in game mechanic. Punishing me for poor detection continues later on, but thankfully in only a few places. Most games have conditions for trying to get into a hole in a wall. Usually you can jump higher and as you fall down the wall, you will slip into an entrance. If this isn’t the case, a simpler remedy is just to have a tiny ledge for you to land on. In 3 Ninjas, they decided the best idea would be for you to play “Thread the Needle” for a minute. Landing the jump exactly is not a trivial task, and usually the punishment for missing is a few seconds of returning to your launch point to try again. Ninjas_5 You find throughout the game that the obstacles are much more deadly than any of the ninjas walking around. The hardest regular opponent (a dragon) involves just learning to jump and duck repeatedly. No brilliance required.

The traps can be infuriating. Putting aside swinging on ropes, the game starts you in a scene reminiscent of Indiana Jones, running from a giant boulder. You quickly learn it’s indestructible and massively painful, so much so you will gladly rocket your character through falling spikes to avoid it. Not thirty seconds later you are faced with a smaller boulder which can be destroyed by whacking on it. So I’m thirty seconds in and all I’ve figured out has been proven false. The spikes are a recurring theme which will test your memory for the rest of the game. Ninjas_8 The designers made sure to blend them in to the background so well, you simply stop looking for them. You eventually take the hit and remember on your next run through where they were. This holds true as well for the fiery pillars that shoot out of the ground. Between the hidden spikes above and holes below I was hit so many times, by something I didn’t see, they should revoke my license. The game accidentally does a great job in keeping your eyes darting all over the screen. Not only are we facing threats from above and below, but the standard enemies and turrets that appear on screen from the sides fire as they enter the frame. This means you can’t be playing Where’s Waldo for those traps as you enter a new area, and you better have the reaction time of a goalie. All of these things could be avoided if you could take your time, but the levels don’t allow for a leisurely pace. This is a game where you can run out of time, and because of that the game needs to offer up an item to extend it every once and awhile. I actually don’t think the time component is bad. You see it implemented in many classic games but it rarely becomes a focus. Kudos to Malibu Interactive on making a time limit actually a limit on your time.

There are three “bosses” in this game, but all of them can be cheesed. The first two can be handled in exactly the same way. Both the big nurse and the sumo wrestler are a threat up close. Nurse Joy attempts to stab you with a needle and E. Honda tries his 1000 hand slap. Ninjas_6The nurse can also spray the needle, but the range is pretty much melee as well. You can stand on one side of the room, run towards them and kick them in the face before their melee attack finishes. As you land, they will be attacking in the original direction, but you’re already running to the other side. By the time you stop and turn, they will have as well and you repeat. Eventually they’ll close the gap, but I end up taking minimal damage over the length of the fight. Even the final boss can be hit before his attack finishes with time to spare to scamper off. The final boss is not enormous this time, but I honestly stopped caring who he was or what he wanted. I couldn’t piece together a coherent story from the game play and I most certainly was not going to read the interludes. The final levels leading up to him have you once again in a cave, this time with satanic gargoyle faces. So I’m just going to assume this guy is bad news. He has a melee attack much like the previous bosses and so we’ll stay back again. When you do this you realize that when you are far enough away, he will throw his bo. You can easily jump over this attack, hit him, and run through him to the other side just as before. He seems to have more health, but the cheese method still works as long as you force the weapon throw. Ninjas_7 Once he is defeated you do one last romp through the cave to escape and the game is over.

The game is overall surprisingly good given the material it had to go off of. The cut scenes show their age, but actual game aesthetics are nice. The handling is tight, and the game is very approachable. Though there are some glaring issues, the game has a password system to relieve the stress of dying due to uncontrollable factors. If you play on easy as I did, it shouldn’t take more than a few hours to get through the game which removes the necessity for any real commitment.

One down, seven hundred and eighty three to go.

The Verdict

6.0Fair

The Good: Solid Handling | Easy Learning Curve | Simple Mechanics | Decent Aesthetics | Quick Gameplay | Easy Bosses

The Bad: Difficult Trap Placement | Poor Grab Detection | Unavoidable Damage | Enemies Attack as they Appear

This site has been created for tracking the unenviable task of playing, and beating every Super Nintendo game to be officially released. According to Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_SNES_games) this includes 784 games. There are others who have previously, or are currently attempting this including a recent website SNESticular Cancer which inspired me to record my progress. Another gamer with more progression can be found at SNESChallenge, and a whole team attempted it at Every Game Ever. Since “beating” a game means different things to different people, some guidelines needed to be established. If there is still uncertainty, I will consult with fellow gamers on their opinions.

  • ROMs: Probably the most important distinction is that these games will be played on an emulator. Emulators allow for things such as save/load states and fast forwarding. This can alter the game in a way that wouldn’t be possible on the cartridge, providing an advantage, so they will not be used in the runs. I will however use save states where a pause would be viable to avoid keeping my computer running overnight or to ensure progress is saved.
  • Cheating: Using any cheat codes is obviously not OK, and I’ll avoid using glitch skips to hop sections of the game. However, this is not the same as exploiting certain mechanics (within reason). Resetting the game so it reverts back to an in-game save is reasonable, but something like duping items probably isn’t. So again we appeal to “If it can be done on the cartridge, it’s fair game”, but with additional common sense.
  • Difficulty: In any game with multiple level settings for the AI (particularly platformers, fighting games and brawlers) the easiest setting is valid. However, this may need discussion for a game like Mario Kart (Is beating 50cc really beating the game?) and others with no clear end. A sports game will involve the shortest season possible.
  • Guides: Guides and walkthroughs will be used. This is mostly for RPG’s, but also for learning boss mechanics. Imagine playing Earthbound without figuring out to stand still behind a waterfall, or knowing to pray at the end. There’s no need to spend more time than is necessary with 784 games to conquer!

This is meant just as a guideline, a way to keep me honest! But that is enough time wasted explaining, time to get down to business.