The Official SNES Gaming Thread

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Post by Lord Spencer on Sun Aug 17, 2014 8:53 am

#S

Game: Lufia and the Fortress of Doom.
Year: 1993.
Genre: RPG.
Publisher: Taito.
Developer: Neverland.

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First things first, I am changing my rating system to better rate different genres according to their own rules. It will still be from 50 quality points, but every title will start from 25 and earn/lose points according to criteria important to the titles and genres themselves.

Lufia is perhaps the least well known JRPG of the SNES era, probably due to being published by small publisher Taito. Nevertheless, it is fondly remembered by those who played it, and the second game was critically acclaimed as well.

In order to better review the second game, I decided to play the first. Expecting a basic RPG with probably archaic mechanics, I was caught off-guard by what is actually a pretty decent game, even though it is ancient in some ways.

"And so the final battle begins"

You start the game in control of the world's strongest fighters, a group of four warriors heading for their final battle with the evil Sinisterals. From the start, we learn that the Sinisterals are akin to a natural disaster that reign death and destruction over the world.

By starting with the strongest fighters, you are hugely over-level, and you can take your time learning the game's battle mechanics. If anything, the intro provides some depth to the narration, as well as a window to the future for the player.

With the Sinisterals defeated, a century of peace begins, and at its end is your main character. The end of peace part is where you come in, as a descendent of Maxim, the leader of that aforementioned group, you must take on the resurrected Sinisterals and save the world.

While this is basic RPG storytelling, the game does offer some surprising depth. Especially when it comes to the relationship of the MC with the mysterious Lufia. Which culminates in a truly great ending, despite the childish translation.

Very Good Start:+3
Surprising Story Depth: +3

"Let's see what's up ahead"

After you are introduced to the MC and Lufia, you begins your quest to save the world from the impeding threat of the Sinisterals. Unfortunately, most of the time, you will be questing in order to get through your quest to save the world. You need to go to City A, well, you must first go to cities B and C and do something in order to be able to go into A.

What the game basically boils down to is a huge series of fetch quests. Some of which offer an appreciated glimpse into the game world, most which are basically padding. Highlighting the nature of these fetch quests is the snaky design of the game world, which is linear and seems to offer a singular path towards your goal.

In order to fulfill these quests, you would basically need to go into dangerous caves and dungeons, fight off some monsters, get some item, and repeat. Sometimes, you will have to fight a boss, which actually manages to test you combat ability.

Speaking of combat, its basic turn-based battle, with each round consisting of characters acting in order of their speed. Thankfully, battles don't take a lot of time, with the occasional boss battle that challenges your strategy.

A Series of Fetch Quests: -3
Mostly Boring Side Stories -2
Decent and Fast Battle System:+3

"This country will survive"

Probably due to the abundance of fetch quests, the game needed to provide resting points (towns) at the path of each one. Resulting in one of the most populated RPG worlds in the SNES. With nearly 30 towns, the game boasts a respectable amount of NPCs. While most of them are your run-off-the-mill info dumps, some do sport their amusing eccentricities.

Despite the visual limitations, and the fact that most towns use the same architecture, the personality of the game manages to shine through. Cities are populated with both adults and children, and some cities manage to feel unique due to the complexion of the populace. For example, seeing a cleric man the item shop because "he found faith" is bound to register a smile.

This is actually an extension of the game's own personality, which manages to convey humor, romance, bravery, and other emotions in what is a very limited translation. Despite the limitations, the game manages to have some good dialogue, and more importantly, a consistent charm.

Personality:+4
Some Humor: +2

"Puny knight! I AM EVIL ITSELF"

The Sinisterals might be super evil beings, but besides a very nasty sleeper trap they laid, we are never familiar with their evilness beyond some quotes such as the above. Its just another byproduct of the eternal fetch quests format. What evil we are familiar with is however related to the game itself. Starting with an over zealous random encounter rate, and finishing with an obnoxious final dungeon.

Lufia is a very basic game, and hence lacks the improvements games such as Final Fantasy 6 and Chrono Trigger did to advance the genre. Take the lack of a dash button for example coupled with the high encounter rate, both working against the player's time. Perhaps the final dungeon wouldn't be as obnoxious if the aforementioned problems didn't exist, nah, probably would still be.

Admittedly, the game's default walking speed and the battles themselves keep the problems from being as pronounced as Breath of Fire 2 for example. However, the game's other limitations are more serious.

First, items don't specify what they do, which coupled with a shoddy translation forces the player to try the items to discern their use, or simply ignore them. Second, the lack of character portraits is a minus for the art, but the lack of the name of the character who is talking causes some confusion about the direction of the dialogue. Last, the lack of a world map would mean looking for end game targets is a pain.

Not one single issue is a game breaker, but when they combine together, they make the experience more difficult.

Caveman Design: -3
Background Antagonists: -2

"Will this dress make me pretty?"

If we want to make a visual comparison between Lufia, and any other RPG, it would be called Final Fantasy light. Employing the same style, but without as much detail, the game is colorful but is visually repetitive. For instance, most towns use the same architecture, and the game world consist of less than a doze textures. While not ugly, or even bland, the visuals are just very basic.

In contrast to the the world visuals are the battles, which employ a first person view similar to Dragon Quest. Which is both disappointing because we cannot see our characters in action, and great because the monsters are shown in much more detail. In fact, the monster designs are really good, especially the bosses.

Unfortunately, the monsters are only still image and do not animate at all beyond shaking when getting hit. In the other hand, spell animations are well done, even if not spectacular. Overall, the Lufia is visually unimpressive, however it is not ugly.

Aurally, the game includes several great tunes, such as the overworld and fortress of doom songs. Aside from those two, which are the best in my opinion, the other tunes serve their function well and are great to listen to. Unfortunately, the game's soundtrack is in the short side, with little more than 30 tracks at the max.

However, the main problem with the sound in Lufia is that it is not continuous. Meaning that you will rarely hear the cool overworld theme to its completion because every time you finish a battle, the music restarts. Luckily, the music continues to play while you are in the menu, so you can customize at your leisure while listening to the best tracks.

Basic Graphics: -1
Some Great Music: +4

In Conclusion:

While it is true that Lufia is more like an early SNES RPG than a middle SNES one, it still manages to be a really good game regardless. With faults that, while noticeable, do little to ruin the experience; they are not an excuse enough not to play the game.

For RPG fans, and for those curious about a game with many ardent admirers, the first Lufia is a welcoming game. In my opinion, any SNES top 100 list would be lacking if it did not include this game, but at such a list, it would be among the highest numbers, not the lowest.

Final: 33/50

"Tips"
1- Use Drain on bosses regularly.
2- Save your Miracles for the last Bosses.
3- Take care of which rings to use.
4- Heal on anticipation, not need.
5- Use the emulator save feature for the final dungeon.

"Next Game"

I think IGN messed up by not including the first Lufia in their list, especially since this a list that includes such a bad Superman game. Regardless, playing Lufia and the Fortress of Doom better positions me to review Lufia 2, which sits at #34.

From what I know, Lufia 2 is a prequel to the first game, and it follows the quest of Maxim, whom I play as in the intro to this game. I guess I will not be starting from level 70 this time though.

Stay Tuned

Lord Spencer
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Post by Lord Spencer on Fri Jan 16, 2015 11:47 pm

#34

Game: Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals.
Year: 1996.
Genre: RPG.
Publisher: Natsume.
Developer: Neverland.

The Official SNES Gaming Thread - Page 5 Cover

First things first, I am changing my rating system to better rate different genres according to their own rules. It will still be from 50 quality points, but every title will start from 25 and earn/lose points according to criteria important to the titles and genres themselves.

The SNES is not short of quality RPGs, from the magnificent efforts of Square and Enix, to the more basic games of Capcom. In such crowded market, Lufia 1 managed to make a very faint splash. It was not picked up by many, but it had a loyal small fan base. Lufia 2 did not manage to make a bigger splash, but it rewarded that fan base with one hell of an RPG.

It might not be the best role playing game in the SNES library, but Rise of the Sinistrals is by far the most underrated RPG in the 16 bit era.

"Have you thought about getting an ordinary job?"

Maxim (whom you might recognize from the first Lufia) is one of a long line of RPG heroes who start as (bounty hunter, monster hunter, mercenary, etc). Seemingly incapable of living peaceful lives, and destined to fight evil and save the world. The tale of Maxim does not veer much from that particular trope. Taking on the evil Sinistrals, you will travel a loosely defined geographically impossible world, and prepare for the final showdown with foes as dimensional in purpose as tsunamis and earthquakes.

While not an imaginative plot at all, the overarching story is only the backdrop of one of the deepest character plots in SNES RPGs. The host of characters you control grow and develop in ways unlike any other games in the ear, and relations blossom in unexpected ways. By the end, you realize that these characters manage to acquire real dimensionality to them that is simply unexpected for the time.

Unfortunately, the script doesn’t do the character interaction or the story any justice. Perhaps due to limited spacing, or simply mediocre translation, Lufia 2 manages to reduce all character’s speech into lines read from Google Translate. It is a testament to the strength of the central character plotline that this weak script fails to ruin an otherwise very good story.

Besides the written word, the game manages to convey its multiple layers through clever use of brief 16 bit cinematics and intelligent set pieces. With an awkward beginning, a middle full of micro-stories, and a fantastic end. The game manages to accentuate each arc with suitable mood. Overall, Lufia 2 takes everything good from the first game story-wise, and elaborates on it wonderfully.

Strong Presentation: +4
Character Depth: +4
Terrible Script: -3

"Don’t overestimate yourself, the time will come"

By end game, you realize that the constant threats and cheap jabs by the all-powerful sinistrals were ridiculous overestimation of their own power. Maxim and his jolly gang of misfits easily trounce everything they face off against.

Through many innovations on the classic combat system, Neverland crafted enough advantages for the player that the game is rarely if ever hard. Starting with I feel is a precursor to Final Fantasy 7’s limit break system, characters are able to do special rage moves that basically undermines whatever a boss come up with. Other innovations include healing and save points in dungeons, and the Capsule Monster system.

Reading that, you are correct to think of Pokemon immediately. While these monsters are found, not caught, they both evolve and help you in battle as an extra member of the party (not taking a character slot). However, you are not able to directly control them, but the still offer an offensive push to your team and also help as bullet sponges. It is a shame though that these monsters are not impressive in both design and application, and feel like an unfortunate afterthought.
Outside of battle, Lufia 2 takes the dungeon approaches of Zelda games in traversing its many monster dens. With several tools, you navigate Maxim and friends through some clever puzzles, and since you monsters are not randomly encountered (you can see them in the screen) it is never frustrating.

While not challenging at all, the fast paced combat and the interesting puzzles make for an overall enjoyable experience that is among the best in the SNES.

Lack of Challenge: -2
Innovation in Turn Based Combat: +3
Pioneering In Monster Collection: +2
Fun Out of Battle Gameplay: +3
The World’s Most Difficult Trick: +1

"I have nothing to lose or gain but I cannot let you live"

One problem I have with the story is not in the overabundance of clichés, which run the gamut from fated hero to escaping from prison. Not even the fact that the script is an amalgamation of robotic phrases. My problem is simply that the evil guys have nothing to say in what otherwise could have been an actually interesting plot.

More gods than simple evil things, the Sinistrals could have been more interesting than the natural disaster vibe they emit now. Some plot elements suggest a greater depth to their actions, but that is not actually followed.

While it is no big deal, it would have fit well with the attention other facets of the story received. Not every humorous action registers well, and due to the script, it mostly falls flat. However, it shows an attempt by the world to establish some personality.

Mundane Villains: -2
Some Humor: +1

"I really don’t like your face"

After playing Lufia 1, I was not expecting anything much from the prequel visually at all. As such I was pleasantly surprised by the graphics which leaped to the better end of the 16 bit spectrum. Other than the advancements to the battle screen, the entire world of Lufia 2 received a vusual overhaul. From the cities that feel more distinct, to the dungeons that show some variety and sometimes surprising creativity.

Unfortunately, the sprite design did not receive as much attention. With both characters and monsters feeling gimped. With only hair color separating main characters from the NPC population, players get the graphical short end of the stick. Monsters might look more detailed and some look interesting, but their neither animate nor are that interesting to look at. The worst offender being the final bosses which are recycled from the first game, with Erim the Death bringer looking particularly hideous.

As for music, I wasn’t impressed at the start, with a terrible dungeon music (caves) being played in the earlier dungeons. However, the excellent over world theme and battle themes kept mu aurally interested. When more dungeon themes started showing up, and I begin listening to the breadth of tunes the game has to offer, I must say the music was great. With emotional tracks giving way to epic battle music, the game had a theme for every possible moment. Truly, the music added another dimension for us to enjoy.

Unfortunately, the awesome melody did not push the limits of the system, and the quality was obviously less than similar games in 1996. Which is unfortunate since I would have loved to hear the Final Battle music with FF6’s sound quality.

Upgraded Visuals: +3
Boring Character and Sprite Design: -2
Great Sound: +5 (-2 for quality)

In Conclusion:

Lufia 2 was not played by many gamers in the SNES era, with neither Taito (of Lufia 1) nor Natsume being known for quality RPGs, it somewhat understandable. Unfortunately, this lead to many missing a gem of a game.

While not as immaculately crafted as Square RPGs, or as creatively conceived as Enix’s. Lufia 2 manages to take the usual RPG clichés and present them in a fresh way as to make them endearing again. Less like a big studio game, Lufia 2 feels like it was an indie of a bygone era.

Final: 40/50

"Tips"
1- Don’t waste items to feed you Capsule Monsters, sell those items to finance cheaper feeding alternatives.
2- If you get surprised, you can switch lines without wasting a turn, do it if you are in trouble.
3- If you are playing this game in an emulator, then Dual Blade shrine is glitched up, press 2 to clear things up a bit, and simply move forward and try to navigate yourself to the sword. It is only a short walk with no puzzles or anything so you should be fine to continue the game.
4- Always make sure you have fast healers.
5- Your rage moves depend on your equipment, some sub-par gear is worth keeping just for their moves.
6- Press X for help information (would have seriously helped in Lufia 1).

"Next Game"

After being pleasantly surprised by the Lufia franchise, I am ready to move on to another genre. Something that doesn’t take as much time as RPGs.
My next game a shooter featuring mechs by Lucas Arts. Not a star wars game, Metal Warriors sit at #33 in IGN’s list.

Stay Tuned
Lord Spencer
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Post by Lord Spencer on Sun Jan 25, 2015 9:56 pm

#30

Game: The Lost Vikings.
Year: 1992.
Genre: Puzzle/Platformer.
Publisher: Interplay.
Developer: Blizzard.

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First things first, I am changing my rating system to better rate different genres according to their own rules. It will still be from 50 quality points, but every title will start from 25 and earn/lose points according to criteria important to the titles and genres themselves.

Another Blizzard game that is neither WoW nor Starcraft. Back in those days when there were trying different things in search of a truly big hit. Interestingly enough, we see similarities in visual design between these Vikings and World of Warcraft.

However, The Lost Vikings is a completely different and unique game. It manages to carve out a different style of gameplay while maintain a constant and humorous style. By the end of this game, these Vikings endear themselves to us through both gameplay and their joyful banter.

"All evil space aliens need innocent earth prisoners.”

Eric the swift, Baleog the strong, and Olaf are the three Vikings unfortunately abducted by the evil alien Tomator. Not interested in being held as hairy displays in a galactic zoo, the trio escapes Tomator’s ship and go into an “epic” journey through time and space to go back home. Lucky for them, their Viking strength and ingenuity is enough for them to survive, just barely.

We are tasked with guiding the three back home. In the way, we go through the age of Dinosaurs, the pyramids of Egypt, and some whacky places. Ever the chatterboxes, the trio share their thoughts on their predicament, the places they see, themselves, and even videogame tropes. In fact, the Lost Vikings might be the earliest game I played with such sharp self-referential humor. An essentially comedic tale, the jokes are more hits than misses, and the comedy goes through both visually and in the script. Even ending with one of the funniest and most appropriate credits scenes.

Actually Funny: +4

"We have guts and courage, we are Viking heroes."

While I am not sure about their courage, Eric, Baleog, and Olaf sure do have lots of guts. However, they mostly have lot of patience. In The Lost Vikings, you don’t control only one hero, but all three. In the game, you must use each hero’s individual skills to beat each level. In game, you control one hero and can switch to the other two at any time, essentially switching to and fro as you try and figure out each level’s tricks.

Eric can jump and break things with his head, Baleog is the only one who brought anw weapons with him, and Olaf brought a shield that he can even hover with. You are rarely going to depend on just one of the guys to finish a level (Which actually requires you to move all three to the exit), but will need to synergize the three different skill sets to navigate the level.

Through a surprisingly lengthy adventure, the game manages to crafts seriously intricate levels that both challenges and confounds you. Though every tool is in your disposal, some tricks elude you just long enough to feel positively genius when you figure them out. Yet, these instances are actually more rare than I would have liked, with a lot of the levels feeling more like busy work. This actually means that playing this game in small patches is best.

Unique Gameplay: +3
Actually Smart Levels: +4
Those WOW Moments: +2
Some Underwhelming Levels: -2

"Will you guys shut up and follow me."

Actually, one thing I agree with Eric. While not overly annoying, a tethering system would have helped alleviate some of the busy work; where you need to get one Viking to one point, then switch to another Viking and go the same exact spot. Again, its not that serious but would have been welcome.

More serious issues are the death traps and reverse dead ends. Since you need all three Vikings alive and well to finish a level, your worst enemy is that random spike that kills you instantly. If that was in the end of a stage, you will need to give up and replay the stage from the beginning. This can actually be avoided by really thinking before you move.

However, reverse dead ends are sometimes surprising and unavoidable. Through no fault of your own, you might move through one Viking’s sequence earlier than you should have, ending up in an advanced stage where you can’t help the other Vikings. In that level, how would the player know they should have used Olaf before Eric, or Baleog before both?

Thankfully, the levels are not that large so that each frustrating restart is not the end of the world. For the player, it is going to mean a more elaborate and relaxed pace to avoid those restarts.

A lot of Restarts: -4
Forces you to think +1

"Cool waterfall that hovers in midair"

Vikings are easily a visual canvas. Through both hair and facial expression, we see how unique the three characters are. More interestingly, is how their animation conveys their personality. Eric is impatient and strong willed, Baleog is strong and constantly flexes his muscles, and Olaf is laid back and relaxed. Elsewhere, enemy sprites are not as detailed as the three Vikings, but they are well animated and distinctive enough.

While the sprites are the visual highlights of the game, the level backgrounds are not bad at all. With each “world” visually distinctive from the others, we get a glimpse of how lost thos Vikings are. Unfortunately, not all worlds were interesting for me, with the whacky world sorely lacking. I really wanted a Roman Empire level.

Musically, the tunes included are catchy and distinctive, each accurately complementing the visuals. However, it is a very limited selection. With what probably is only five distinctive tracks, The Lost Vikings is one of the SNES game’s least varied games in their soundtrack.

Distinctive Sprites: +3
Limited Music: -3
Good Background Art: +2

In Conclusion:

The Lost Vikings might not be one of the true gems of the SNES, but its unique gameplay and distinctive character both showcases a game with heart. Rarely do Vikings endear themselves to us as much, and we root for these guys all the way.

Blizzard today is mostly sunk into its major franchises. The Lost Vikings reminds us of the creativity lost when developers are forever tethered to their largest successes.
Final: 35/50

"Tips"
1- Move with Caution.
2- Make Olaf your front line scout, Eric might be faster but Olaf's shield is a life saver.
3- When you get bombs, you will probably need to use them to blow stuff up.
4- Olaf's shield can keep falling things from falling down.
5- Baleog's Arrow upgrade allows him to destroy things he couldn't before.
6- Each character has their use, figure out early what each one can do.

"Next Game"

I skipped a game I was going to play, and I enjoyed The Lost Vikings. This time, I am hopefully not skipping the next game, which sit at #24 and is known by all of you.

Contra 3 might not be the most famous contra, but it is apparently the best one in the SNES. I might not be able to beat this one normally, but through the magic of emulation, I might have a chance.

Stay Tuned[/b][/b]
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Post by Lord Spencer on Tue Jan 27, 2015 2:09 am

#24

Game: Contra III: Alien Wars.
Year: 1992.
Genre: Shooter.
Publisher: Konami.
Developer: Konami.

The Official SNES Gaming Thread - Page 5 Images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQhKsxTMJYx787feoUbfON7q5KuBKHyKxD5mtKTQbl9brDy7FQdoQ

First things first, I am changing my rating system to better rate different genres according to their own rules. It will still be from 50 quality points, but every title will start from 25 and earn/lose points according to criteria important to the titles and genres themselves.

For many, the Contra series is the quintessential Nintendo shooter. Ripe with that old Nintendo challenge, and a good deal of adrenaline pumping action and layered depth. The third entry in the series continues with that tradition, and its unapologetic adherence to the format is both the reason for Contra’s fame and its death as the generations went by.

This is the shooter game you would expect. One shot kills and plenty of action, with only a hair between that perfect jump and oblivion. Contra demands repetition from the player willing to master it. It demands mastery from the player willing to get the most out of it.

"Alien wars begin.”

Who are we kidding? It wouldn’t matter if it is aliens invading earth, or bloody Neanderthals from Jurassic time. Nazis, zombies, dinosaurs, and more have served as bullet fodder for these games. Interchangeably, any event can be taken as face value to get you to shoot stuff in Contra. The only semblance of character is the blatant inspiration from Rambo.

Is it a bad thing? Not necessarily, but when I compare to another shooter from the ages that has character in spades (Metal Slug), the very generic style of Contra leaves much to be desired. We are not here for the Man Booker prize winning script, but something that separates this game from the hoard would have been nice.

As it is, we are Rambo clone number one shooting generic fodder, some of which do look alien, for the probable goal of saving earth. Only three sentences are afforded for plot, and a paragraph telling the game has a hard mode that is going to crush your soul. I guess minimalism has its fans.

Yet, when you look beyond the cloned artwork, and the very basic story. When you look at what the game throws at you, you get a sense of audacity that I don’t think is eclipsed by another game. Although actually in rare moments, the game throws all logic to the wind as it gives the player some ridiculous set piece to deal with. Specifically, I am talking about a boss fight where the player hangs from a missile while attacking. The catch is that there are many missiles and the player needs to jump from one to another as they explode. Had the game included more of such scenes, the droll setting and lack of basic storytelling would have been less obvious.

Droll Setting: -5
That Missile Battle: +2

"Let’s attack aggressively.”

I confess that I used emulation to beat the game. Simply put, I don’t have the skill to beat it without outside help. Yet, I feel as if everything is there for me to learn, and I tremendously improved by the end, that my second play through used the emulator less and less. Which is the hallmark of good game design.

With only one shot to the grave, Contra demands perfection. It demands total attention to your surroundings, as well as perfect command of your movement and attacks. Shooting leaves you less mobile to avoid attacks, and mistiming your jumps leads right into the line of fire. In Contra, any death is your fault, as the mechanics are pitch perfect for the player to dodge and shoot everything in sight. Every attack is telegraphed, and it is the player’s responsibility to decipher the game.

In your arsenal, you can have access to a variety of weapons, each I found particularly useful in one place or another. Also, you get to use the screen clearing bombs. Both weapons and bombs are reset to default on death, so getting hit takes both a life and the ability to fight, making it hurt twice as much.

As is the case with Contra games, the game includes more than traditional 2D shooting, but also vehicle sequences and top-down levels. The former has always been a matter of loathing from me personally; when a game changes its entire control scheme and philosophy for one level that is unforgiving and tyrannical. Contra does nothing to convince me otherwise; vehicle sequences are almost always lacking in balance. As for the top-down levels, which have been hallmarks of the series, I found them less fun than the 2D levels and generally underwhelming (not to mention being easier).

Ultimately, Contra III brings everything that made the previous Contra games so well regarded mechanically. However, it also brings one major evolution to the franchise. As I said previously, getting killed loses your weapon upgrades. Yet, Contra III gives you the ability to switch between two weapons essentially holding the second weapon in case you die. This not only gives you more tactical flexibility by having two different weapons, but also gives you a fighting chance when you lose that valuable flamethrower.

Challenging and Fair Gameplay: +5
Vehicle and Top-Down Levels: -3 (for every level)
Two Weapons: +2

"Prepare yourself for the Ultimate Challenge.”

Bosses are no longer scary these days. From the poor generic bosses of FPS games to the 3-hit kill goons of Nintendo. They used to be something, they used to be a threat, and they used to be like Contra.

When you are fighting on top of the sky hanging from missiles, you know these bosses are not only tough, but also mostly unique. In fact, the entire game can be considered a tutorial that prepares you for these massive battles. Reaching these foes unhurt doesn’t mean you’re good, it just means you have a chance.

If you don’t study their patterns, then you are going to die. However, their never-ending onslaught makes that a herculean task indeed, as you focus in both surviving and learning at the same time. This alien invasion might just be a packaged excuse to shoot stuff, but these aliens don’t show any restraint at all.

Great Bosses: +4

"Kill them with fire."

Insects are scary. Their primal instincts and positively brutal lifecycle showcasing their ugly form. The aliens in Contra are clearly insect-inspired, which probably lead me to use the flamethrower as my favorite weapon. Aside from the ugly design of some of these aliens, as well as some good boss design, I did not feel the need to use my weapon of choice.

Mostly, the graphics are clean and nice, with the screen handling busy fire fights well. Everything is telegraphed for the player, so that anything that happens to them is their fault. Backgrounds were nice, but nothing major. While the character sprite has a curiously empty face. Like the story, the graphics is mostly generic, but it does the job, does it a little better as well.

However, the sound department goes beyond doing its job. It excels. From the music, that is both addictive and pleasant to hear. To the various sound effects that tells you exactly what is happening on screen. That enemy is firing at you, this boss is taking damage, hell is about to break loose.

When a game demands as much from the player as Contra, it is nice for the music to give them a boost. The tracks are motivating, and they make the endless repetitions of death bearable. All the while, sound gives the player another sense in which to use; the best players actually depend more in audio cues than visual ones. Overall, proving to be a very solid sound design.

Very Good Sound Design: +3
Very Good Tracks: +3
Generic Graphics: -2

In Conclusion:

Contra is a game of a bygone era. More an arcade experience than a console. It is also a game that is worth as much as players are willing to give it. For the casual observer, who is merely playing the game and preparing to jump to another, its flaws are magnified, and its brilliance is hidden.

However, for those willing to master it, Contra offers a depth that transcends its limitations. Perhaps it is the feeling we used to get when stuck with one or two cartridges in our childhood. Then, the game could have been as short as Contra, but perfecting a game became another goal after beating it.

Final: 34/50

"Tips"

1-Have two different weapons to vary your chances.
2-To pick up another weapon, be in your empty slot.
3-Bombs are not lifesavers, it would take a second or two before everything on screen is wiped out.
4-You can jump in the vehicle sequence.
5-Kill them with fire, the flamethrower might lack range, but it is probably the strongest weapon damage wise.

"Next Game"

Contra was fun, but I am ready for a more relaxing adventure. And moving through IGN’s list, I am seeing yet another Disney/Capcom game, showing us that those two companies could have been a more obvious Kingdom Hearts candidate (Mega Man and Donald Duck in a team anyone).
At #23, the Magical Quest starring Mickey Mouse is the highest Disney game on the list. Here is hoping it really is magical.

Stay Tuned[/b][/b]
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Post by Lord Spencer on Sun Feb 08, 2015 4:46 am

#23

Game: The Magical Quest Starring Mickey Mouse.
Year: 1992.
Genre: Platformer.
Publisher: Capcom.
Developer: Capcom.

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First things first, I am changing my rating system to better rate different genres according to their own rules. It will still be from 50 quality points, but every title will start from 25 and earn/lose points according to criteria important to the titles and genres themselves.

As the highest rated game that resulted from the 16 bit Disney/Capcom alliance, I expected much more from Mickey Mouse than I actually got. Not a bad game at all, Mickey Mouse however is upstaged by Uncle Scrooge in the NES, and Simba in the SNES.

Ultimately, The Magical Quest proves lacking in magic, and is only a good game. More Yen Sid would have worked wonders on this game.

"Where are ya' pal"

Starting Mickey into the perilous path towards Emperor Pete's castle is the unfortunate kidnap of Pluto. Of course, Minny, Goody, or Donald could have been kidnapped interchangeably and little would change. Regardless of his reason, the world's most famous mouse goes through six different stages while faced against the bull-looking cat.

With little thematic element actually taken from Disney classics, The Magical Quest is obviously lacking a central creative style. Take for instance the Wizard who helps Mickey earlier in his quest. Instead of the droopy-looking character we got, it could have been Yen Sid from "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" or even Merlin.

All levels show the lack of a central premise. With unimaginative settings, the levels end up repeating platformers cliche, with a forest level, a fire level, a snow level. Compare that to the Lion King game, where the levels gain a lot of the flavor provided by the film. Similarly, the game's enemies, its music, and even its gameplay has nothing to do with Mickey Mouse or Disney. Only the titular hero and Pete signal the Disney connection.

Essentially, this is a game with Mickey's face simply plastered over. It doesn't gain anything but brand recognition, and it loses by not using the huge creative output of past Disney shorts.

Mickey is only Wallpaper: -3
Unimaginative Design: -3

"Follow the Emperor's Statues"

In the pursuit of Pluto, Mickey is armed with three central mechanics. The time-proven technique of jumping on your enemies heads, picking-up objects and spinning them, and the three costumes he acquires throughout the quest.

Jumping is handled as usual, with Mickey having the signature floaty jump of the Capcom SNES platformers. The spinning mechanic is an interesting, albeit underused mechanic in the game. In its most basic form, Mickey can grab block and stunned enemies, and spin them like a top forward to attack other enemies. Additionally, he can grab environmental objects, and spin them for interesting results. For instance, a flying tomato starts floating upwards after being spun; taking you with it upwards if you grab it in mid-flight. Unfortunately, such creative applications are rarely used, and it ends up a lost opportunity.

Other than jumping and spinning tops, Mickey adorns three different costumes that lend different abilities to him. The Magical Turban gives Mickey a projectile attack, allows him to breath underwater, and even breathes life to a magic carpet. Wearing a firefighter suit allows Mickey to effectively fight fire, push blocks with his water hose, and even interact with ice in interesting ways. The final mountaineering costume is the best of all, proving that a grappling hook improves any game.

Each costume works well in their respective stages. However, there is limited interaction between the costumes in each level, underscored by the annoying animation whenever you switch costumes. Ultimately, the costumes work really well in one stage, and feel somewhat underused in other levels. This is perhaps due to a game that is short and underdeveloped.

Signalling the end of each section is a giant stone door shaped like Pete's face. And each level is made of several sections, a mid-boss, and an end boss. This equals roughly 6 hours of gameplay or less, with little for replays.

Costumes are Cool: +4
Short Game: -2

"Use it wisely and be careful"

Surprisingly, Mickey Mouse proves to be a challenging game. While the regular level is easy enough, the bosses prove to be the game' highlights, as well as its most demanding obstacles. Both in design and gameplay, each boss offers enough menace and a unique twist to challenge the player.

Take the first boss for example, what first starts like an easy pattern boss, soon proves to have more tricks up his sleeves. Basically some snake creature with Pete's face (isn't that some nightmare fuel?), the boss alternates his jumps, and offers some projectile action as well.

Other bosses offer their own unique challenges as well, most incorporating one of the costumes in the fight. Even the mid-level bosses offer some interesting challenge. With each boss fight an actual obstacle, it will demand pattern memorization as well as serious twitch work from the player. Culminating into a satisfying end to each battle.

Great Boss Battles: +5

"Gawrsh Mickey, I still can't find Pluto"

Just like the basic, and even poor characterization of Mickey, the game shows a lack of polish in its whole design. While the world graphics are colorful, and the backgrounds are pleasant, we get some phoned in music tracks.

All in all, this a game that aesthetically bounded by it Disney connection, yet makes no effort to benefit from it. Since I already criticizes this earlier, I am just going to comment on the design aspects of the game.

Graphically, the game probably is among the best visually in 1992. With clean sprites, and well animated characters, the game comes to life best in motion. Each level offers its own unique taste as well, with both foreground and background combining to make-up lovely levels, even if they have nothing to do with the Disney universe.

However, the game's soundtrack is simply weak. With no single track being memorable, I don't know whether it suffers from repetition or if the tracks are simply indistinguishable from each other. In an age where the melody made the game, there was no magic in Mickey's soundtrack.

Good Graphics: +3
Terrible Music: -4

In Conclusion:

I confess that I don't understand why this game is as highly rated as it is. I am even surprised to see calls for it being remastered like Ducktales was (a much superior game). While I had my fun with Mickey, I actually enjoyed most other Disney/Capcom games better.

Even more baffling is the decision of IGN to put this game at #23 in their list of top 100 SNES games. Topping it against much more superior platfromers like Donkey Kong Country 1 and 3 (2 is higher in the list), Kirby 3, and even Capcom's own Aladdin and The Lion King. Simply baffeling.

Final: 25/50

"Tips"
1- You can spin tomatoes and then hover with them.
2- Look around for extra heart containers, you will need them.
3- You can grapple the egg of the bird boss, and then hit him with it.
4- You don't need to defeat all the mid-bosses in the final level, they are just trap doors.
5- Use Turban Magic to shoot the carpets in order to use them.

"Next Game"

Now we are at the gates of the top 20 games, which means I have already played most of these games (so I won't be reviewing them here). However, I missed some gems, and one of them is the much beloved Castelvania IV @ #21.

Here is hoping its deserves all its love

Stay Tuned
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Post by Lord Spencer on Fri Feb 13, 2015 4:23 am

#21

Game: Super Castlevania IV.
Year: 1991.
Genre: Action Platformer.
Publisher: Konami.
Developer: Konami.

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First things first, I am changing my rating system to better rate different genres according to their own rules. It will still be from 50 quality points, but every title will start from 25 and earn/lose points according to criteria important to the titles and genres themselves.

In 1997, the history of Castlevania changed drastically. The release of Symphony of the Night ushered in the age of the "Metroidvania". It had so much effect on the franchise that basically most games after it followed the same format. For many younger gamers, they had little knowledge of Castelvania's past as a straightforward Action Platformer.

The dual identity of the franchise can clearly be seen in the post and pre SotN games. While the "Metroidvania" focuses on exploration, and has some light RPG elements strewn in, the older games focused on providing solid Action and an atmospheric adventure.

Super Castlevania IV is the best of that bunch.

"On a dark and eerie night, Dracula rose from his grave...l"

Starting the game, you get the feeling that the village sent its biggest dweeb as a sacrifice to Dracula. Simon Belmont seems very inadequate as a hero: he walks slowly, jumps with no conviction, gets bullied around easily, and you don't think a whip is going to cut it. Also, he wears what I think are pantaloons.

Facing this unfortunate hero, we get every manner of evil imaginable in the game. Skeleton soldiers throw bones at you, the stages are riddled with traps, bosses are not a joke, and those Medusa heads. Oh god, those damned Medusa heads. To top it off, you can't cancel your jumps, and any heat launches you backward. So, if you had one shot at that boss and you were at full health, kiss you chance goodbye if he hits you within a ledge.

Death after death, you slowly begin to doubt the success of your mission. Then, you get it. Simon no longer feels like a dweeb. You start to understand precession he needs to fight. Flailing your whip like an idiot will not do anything. Waiting, and striking at the optimal time is key. A Medusa head flies towards you in it oscillating fashion, looking at you with hat, snakes riling in its head. Wait for it just before it reaches your whip range, and then...STRIKE.

Armed with your trusty whip, along with an array of secondary weapons, each with their own use and trajectory. The game becomes about distance. The whip is versatile enough for most of the game; you can strike in eight directions and even flail it around to block projectiles (which is extremely useful in some bosses). Along with the whip, you can use a secondary weapon that consumes hearts (which are not health points like you would assume but rather "Magic points"). Each secondary weapon has its ow niche, and the player can experiment to see which ones they favor, but ultimately the Whip can be all you need.

You see, after the task seems initially daunting, and Simon's movement feel restrictive, you begin to understand the importance of distance. Each step takes you closer to your target, but they closer to you as well. Jumping is always a dependable arc, which you memorize with usage. Once you realize how to use distance to your advantage, your whip starts to decimate enemies, your jumps evade every obstacle, and the theme of Simon deservedly blow into your ear.

Dracula should have stayed in that grave.

Excellent Precession Based Gameplay: +4
Varied Strategies and Weapons: +2

"The Power of Dracula Starts to Revive Itself"

Now that you are finally looking like a Belmont, Dracula is your ultimate goal. His incessant revival once again throwing the world into darkness. Its unfortunate that Castlevania didn't do much with Dracula or its setting before Symphony of the Night. We all know how Dracula is one of the most interesting characters in literature, and yet he doesn't get a single line in the game. Neither does Simon.

In fact, the game gets on with all its narrative in the well-done opening sequence, and then the game begins. Dracula provides the justification of the setting, and Simon can be replaced by a slimmer and taller Mario (basically Luigi).

Such a game could have done well without any further effort into narration. However, Super Castelvania then proceeds to surprise us with its stage design, which tells us the story through atmosphere and style. Similiar to Metroid's Zebes, the stages of Super Castlevania tells us the story of Dracula perhaps better than those days stoke action narrative could.

When you proceed from the grounds to the Castle, you do so in an organic manner, traversing in the way caverns and such. When inside the castle, ghostly figures dance in the abandoned ballrooms. The treasure rooms shows signs of Dracula's greed. And as you finally go near the Lord of Darkness himself; you are reminded of his relation to death through non other than itself.

You could say that I am interpreting narrative where non exists, but my interpretation is aided by the game's direction. Through both music and visual design (which I will speak about later), the game highlights what is going on. When I am walking in the forest, and sneaking in the caverns, I don't see Dracula's eyes on me. However, when I enter his castle and hear the epic sound of "Bloody Tears" raining on me, I have no doubt that I am close to the end. Similarly, in the last stage, we cannot mistake the fact.

Mute Dracula: -2
The Game Does the Talking: +4

"Vampire Killer"

Since he is protecting himself with death traps and all sorts of ghouls and ghosts, we must assume that Dracula's choice of bosses must be up to standard. Unfortunately for Simon, our assumption is correct.

I am not going to say that Super Castelvania has absolutely great bosses, but I am going to say that they are mostly very good. Owing to the combat style of Castelvania, I feel it is more difficult to program boss battles that are as memorable as those in faster games like Mega Man for instance. In super Castelvania, the big bad guys are difficult, daunting, and mostly look and feel that way.

While each foe can easily end you, figuring out their patterns make the fight more manageable. Then, in a sudden twist, the boss changes their patterns and you find yourself in jeopardy. Without this change in patterns, most bosses would be just good, but they gain both personality and depth through that shift. Making boss battles the highlight of most stages.

Enforcing that idea is the end of the game, where you face many monsters as you climb up to Dracula. While I think this run has one extra boss that I didn't like (no one likes you blue Gargoyle), it showcases the game's affinity for storytelling through gameplay, as well as its solid combat. The final battle against Dracula is both a brawl and a spectacle, one that is worth the end.

Very Good Boss Battles: +4
That Final Boss Marathon: +1

"Bloody Tears"

I don't know how I would feel about Super Castlevania IV if I play it on mute, but I know that my impression of it would be less impressive. Through their music, Masanori Adachi and Taro Kudo elevated every aspect of the game.

From the start, you realize your in for an adventure, and the tracks never let on. With mysterious and atmospheric tracks like "Forest of Monsters" and "The Submerged City", moody tunes like "The Waterfalls", and epic fan favorites "Bloody Tears" and "Vampire Killer". And who could forget the ever present "Theme of Simon".

The game has a suitable track for every stage in the game, and it even changes tracks as the stage progresses from one phase to another. Without a single dud, and many great tunes, Super Castlevania surely has one of the best SNES soundtracks. If I would complain, only complain about the short loop time of "Bloody Tears" which is noticable, but its such a great song that who cares (I want to hear an updated version of it so much).

Moving on to the game's graphics, we see further evidence of design to fit the narrative. With obvious gothic influence, the game's stages and monster are all wonderfully made to feel like a suitable medieval stomping ground for Dracula. Not satisfied with only simple graphics, the small Konami team used their directing wizardry to great effect.

For instance, the dripping water in the caves is a direct reverence to the waterfalls above, and as we the see the mountains in the background, the foliage in the foreground reminds use where we are. Most impressively, this is a game that was released at the SNES's launch, and yet it sits heads and shoulders above latter releases. It even made use of the famous Mode 7 chip, but in my opinion, that stage was actually the least interesting stage in the game in all aspects.

With both music and graphics, the game immerses the player well in the game's world. Especially the music, which takes hold of the player and adds a much appreciated 3rd dimension to the game.

Music: +6
Graphical Design: +3

In Conclusion:

Super Castelvania IV is one of the best games in the SNES. It holds really well for its age, and through both gameplay and presentation, it delivers the old Castelvania experience in spades. Some might complain about its short length compared to today's standards, but with a game like this one, which is not that short in SNES standards, replaybility is key.

This is a game that takes hold of you, and you want to beat it again. In my mind, the best Simon Belmont is one who goes through the stages without missing a beat. Both the gameplay and music deserve the effort to excel like that, and through their hypnotic touch, many players would end up doing just that.

Final: 48/50

"Tips"
1- Spikes are one hit kills.
2- If it looks like a trap, it probably is.
3- After striking with whip, hold it limp and wiggle the it around with the D-Pad to guard against projectiles.
4- Do not flail the whip like an idiot (unless your are guarding against projectiles).
5- Stopwatch does not work on bosses.
6- Spend some time in learning the distance of your whip.

"Next Game"

I can't believe such a great game missed the top 20. However, it gives us extra hope that all these games are gems. In fact, I know many of them are such gems. Which is why I am actually not going to review them since I already played them.

However, I can confirm that "Super Mario All-Stars","F-Zero", "DKC 2", "FFIV", "Mega Man X", "Super Mario Kart", "Super Mario World", "FFVI", "Super Metroid", and "Chrono Trigger" are all deserving of their top 20 spots. In fact, I played most of them several times which is why I am not going to play them again for review purposes.

The Next game I am going to review is the cult classic "ActRaiser" which sits @ #19 in IGN's list. We are in the top 20 now, so I expect this to be great.

Stay Tuned
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Post by Lord Spencer on Thu Feb 19, 2015 5:20 am

#19

Game: ActRaiser.
Year: 1991.
Genre: Action Platformer/God Game.
Publisher: Enix.
Developer: Quintet.

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First things first, I am changing my rating system to better rate different genres according to their own rules. It will still be from 50 quality points, but every title will start from 25 and earn/lose points according to criteria important to the titles and genres themselves.

ActRaiser is one of the more unique games in the SNES library. Half a traditional Action Platformer, and half a god genre simulator, its a game that surprised many in the early life of the console. Also, it acts as the spiritual inspiration to Enix and Quintet's creation trilogy which features the excellent Terranigma.

There is no doubt about ActRaise being an important game. However, outside its unique gameplay and influence, we find it a a difficult game to assess. Taken on its own merits, I understand player's love for the game, and yet I find many ways in which it is lacking.

By no means a bad game, and actually one I would recommend playing. Yet, ActRaiser does not reach enough to be one of the SNES's timeless classics. Instead, it reaches just enough for us to wish for a sequel that never truly was.

"Master, your people are waiting for your salvation"

Before succumbing to US censorship, The Master who is your playable character was more clearly referred to as God, or kamisama in Japanese. Other than that name change for your main character, and the head demon who is no longer Satan, it is obvious that you are a god in the game.

As god to the people of this land, you are required to defeat the monsters that plague them and help them develop their cities. This constitutes running around as a statue (possessed by you) defeating enemies and bosses, thus clearing the land for human habitation. Afterwards, you control your trusty angel and help this newly found human settlement to expand against all odds. Finally, their expansion will trigger some event which will demand you go in again as a statue and face the town's boss.

Every "level" in the game will follow this formula.

However, you are not locked into rails once you visit a city, and you can easily switch between cities and finish them in a somewhat non-linear order. I say somewhat because the advantages offered by one city might be pivotal to seriously advance in another. Also, as more people grow and the cities develop, you gain levels and also some magic points.

Other than the obvious novelty of playing as a god, the plot rarely delves deeper than the monsters you are killing over and over. Yet, we see glimpses of intelligent remarks about human nature and religion. While the story of most towns is an uninspired tale, one settlement actually stops worshiping you and start worshiping the demons. It wasn't required for me, and actually set me up quite a bit, but I launched and earthquake against them before I proceeded to cut the fool they bowed down to instead of me.

Unique Gameplay: +3
Unique Premise: +4

"Let us work towards peace"

With two modes of play, ActRaiser is a game that feels fresh by variation, not by the depth of its gameplay. Indeed, both the action and simulation segments lack a certain polish but are satisfactorily addictive. The process of preparing a settlement, helping it grow, then liberating it from a boss might be formulaic, but is oddly satisfying.

The action segments are straightforward Action Platforming, with solid jumps and the ability to duck. Neither the enemies or the levels themselves demand much attention from the player, and the ability to summon some magic spells should be saved for bosses. Nothing fancy, but nothing special either.

As for the unique attraction of the game, the god simulation aspect, it doesn't quite deliver a really unique experience. You control your angel sidekick, who shoots arrows at the monsters who are attacking the town. Also, you can direct the building direction of the town as well as help them around with miracles. In theory, it should be more interesting that it really is, but the game is somewhat limited with it. For instance, shooting the enemies with arrows is mostly busy work, and the miracles are rarely used. For instance, on city wants you to use rain to get rid of the desert around them, another asks you to melt the snow with the sun. Few cities ask for combinations of these miracles, and the whole process seems like an extended loading screen.

Both modes are fun, but neither are particularly well-made. In fact, it is the combination of the two modes that saves them from being too harshly judged on their own. Essentially, the game holds on for a first play-through but the lack of any complexity and the linear style of gameplay works against replayability.

Modes are Lacking: -3
Variety Helps: +2
Replayability: -2

"Create Order From Chaos"

In the last few games I played, I was treated to some really good boss battles, and the trend continues with ActRaiser. Even though the action part is not that deep or engaging, the bosses themselves demand your best use of it. Equally slug-fests and pattern based battles, each boss plays differently and is engaging. Their fantastic design only adding more to the battles. Unfortunately, the boss battles are only found in action segments, as the simulation game offers no big bad boys to take care off.

One thing I found weird however is how magic completely obliterates some bosses, to the level that using it feels somewhat cheap. Similar to the way a Robot Master's health plummet after being hit by a weakness in some Mega Man games, and Ice Dragon's cry of anguish as a third of his health bleeds out after a magic attack is not at all awe inspiring.

Unfortunately, this aspect probably balanced for the final stage only, where we get a disappointing boss-battle Marathon. Only in such a marathon would you need to conserve magic instead of blasting the boss with it from the onset. It is disappointing that the final level is only a boss marathon, and is only made worse by lackluster final stage design (consisting of only one cool background image).

Good Boss Battles: +4
Disappointing Final Level: -2

"In the haunted land of Dearth"

One thing I noticed in Quintet games is their clean graphics and simple yet effective animation, which is followed through in ActRaiser. Obviously, the game demands two graphical styles, and the larger sprite work of the action sequences is much better than the overhead look of the God simulation parts. Each level has its own unique look, as well as its set of enemies. And other than the disappointing final level, the graphical design of each stage is unique and personable.

One aspect that is never disappointing is the boss designs, which are varied and suitably menacing. Being a God game, I was delighted to see the design of bosses taking a lot from religious myths and superstitions.

Not taking any inspiration from the spectacular graphical design of the game, the soundtrack is one of very few tracks. Consequently, what tracks there is grow to be tiresome because they feel juxtaposed into unrelated scenes, and you see a huge lost opportunity in track variation.

For instance, all the simulation parts have the same theme, which might as well be non-existent. Having a different theme or just a basic remix for each city is another way to give those cities some personality. Music is a storyteller's tool, and its not used at all in ActRaiser.

Music: -3
Graphical Design: +5

In Conclusion:

There is a class of games that introduce characters, concepts, and all around provide a solid infrastructure for future great games without being great themselves. Take the first Crash Bandicoot game and compare it to the second one. ActRaise introduces us to this great concept, and it just can't pull it off. It does however show that a sequel that irons its creases can be truly wonderful.

Unfortunately, ActRaiser 2 went into an all together different direction, and as a result we are forced to deal with the first game as the single culmination of a great idea. We realize that this game is a unique gym that should be cherished, but we really wish they went to the same mine again.

Final: 38/50

"Tips"
1- Use the shooting star magic.
2- Earthquakes destroy the entire city, so use them before building anything.
3- Lives restart each stage.
4- Magic Points don't refill when you lose a life.
5- Search around the levels for health and more Magic Points.
6- For maximizing your level, keep a monster lair active in the city and farm the monsters as they spawn.

"Next Game"

As a game on its own merit, I wouldn't put ActRaiser in the top 20. However, as a game that is the inspiration of the really solid creation trilogy, I see the rational in doing so.

My next game is a story of underdog vs. the world, none other than Super Punch-Out!! which sits at number 17.

Stay Tuned
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Post by Lord Spencer on Wed Feb 25, 2015 5:52 am

#17

Game: Super Punch-Out.
Year: 1994.
Genre: Boxing Simulator.
Publisher: Nintendo.
Developer: Nintendo.

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First things first, I am changing my rating system to better rate different genres according to their own rules. It will still be from 50 quality points, but every title will start from 25 and earn/lose points according to criteria important to the titles and genres themselves.

The original Punch-Out had the novelty of having boxing's most famous ear-eater in its title cover, which contributed as both a selling point and excuse for making the game. If a sequel was never released, few would be surprised. The original game summed up the "noble" sport of boxing into a deceptively simple dual system, and did not have much in terms of either variety or action to back it up.

Yet, the game's limited mechanics proved to be amazingly deep, and the competition that fought your Little Mac besides Tyson himself were all colorful and unique. As such, Punch-Out developed a cult following and was loved by many who tried it. Little Mac fought the odd and became more than the tech demo he started out as.

Then, in the SNES comes the Super Punch-Out. It drops Mike Tyson from the title, but it brings everything back from the original and changes little from it. In that sense, Super Punch-Out is a game that you will either love or not care for at all. If the limited nature of the game bothers you, you won't be able to enjoy its deep combat system. However, for those among you who are thrilled by the idea of applying your wits in the mat, and fighting against all the odds. Then, this game is for you.

"Now let's get this show on the road"

The title follows little Mac's attempt at winning the world championship. At least, I think its little Mac. Both his face and coloring morphed into something very different, and Doc is nowhere to be seen. Despite these minor discontinuities, the rest of the cast features the trademark loonies impersonating as professional boxers.

When the first boxer you fight against looks like a senile old man who just escaped a nursing home, your should realize that you are not fighting your regular boxing game fare. Featuring such characters as a Mad Clown, a Bruce Lee impersonator, and two semi-clone brothers, Punch-Out does bring back its trademark ridiculousness.

These boxers have a tendency to break all rules. Expect a flying dragon kick from Bruce Lee, and being hit with a staff from Miyagi-san. Each character also comes with their unique special moves, which range from the aforementioned kicks to spits and bear hugs.

However, judging from the past, the characters in Super Punch-Out are less iconic than those of the Mike Tyson's Punch-Out. While most of the boxers you fight are fun, both their quotes and overall design feels less cutting than the first game.

Punch-Out Craziness: +4
Less Iconic than Predecessor: -2

"Do you have the rhythm?"

In boxing, and in fighting games in general, there is always a mindgame going on between the two. Every move invites a counter move, and it becomes a matter of both analyzing and guessing what your opponent does. Purely reacting is slow and disadvantageous, and stupidly lashing out will only invite a quicker defeat.

The gameplay in Punch-Out takes the mindgames in boxing and makes a whole game of it. You can guard high and low for face and body punches respectively. Also, you can dodge left and right as well as duck. Your opponents can also defend themselves in the same way.

As for offensive play, you can punch right or left, high or low. However, these punches won't do much damage to your enemies. Connecting with an attack fills up your super meter, which allows you to use various special attacks that do most of the work. With the important caveat that if you are hit, the super gauge depletes, adding insult to injury.

Thus, the match evolves into a chess match between you and your opponent. Not only do you need to hit him enough to cause some damage as well as fill up your super meter, but you also need to protect yourself from their assaults in order to be in any shape to fight.

Here is where the hidden brilliance of Super Pinch-Out shines through. Each animation is a tell for you. Your opponent shows you exactly what they are doing, whether its guarding high or low, or initiating an attack. Thus, you should study your opponent and see when and how to defend.

He is punching you in the right, punch first in the left. Or dodge and give him some quick jabs on the jaw. Or just go with a body face body face combo. There are many ways to victory, and the more you understand of the system the better your results would be. Bait your opponent to react, or simply defend long enough to get a power boost that will help you completely decimate them.

In addition to their regular montage of punches and uppercuts, your opponents also have their special abilities as well. Almost always triggered by a telling jig or through orders from their coach, these special abilities are usually devastating if not dodged.

This only combines to create a system that rewards tactics and strategy above simple button mashing, which won't even get you through the first circuit. Little Mac is a smaller opponent, and he needs smarts more than brawn to defeat the competition.

This competition is divided in four circuits featuring four boxers each. But these circuits are also accompanied by an excellent Time Attack mode that invites perfecting each fight. I have not reached this level yet, but almost all fights can end in less than 10 seconds, and some can be ended with a one hit KO.

Excellent Fighting System: +5
Deceptive Depth: +5
Time Attack Mode: +2

"I have lost so many times I forgot how winning feels"

We only talked about the combat system with the assumption that you managed to understand it. However, I couldn't unlock all its secrets even after putting 20 hours into it. Patience might not be inherent in your gameplay style, and if so, a sudden rash decision could leave you down for the count.

Even in the first circuit, these guys won't have any mercy. Any mistake is easily punished, and every punch is a commitment that can be a mistake.

For many players, it might be too difficult getting pummeled to get anything from the fight. Not even figuring out precious visual and style ques. This can be alleviated by approaching the game as if a spectator, and just try and get as much information of the fighter as you can get. Simply play defensively and only occasionally land a jab.

In Punch-Out, you need to carefully study your opponents to beat them, and once you master one boxer, fighting them is simply an exercise in shortening your time. You might finish the game the first time with epic stories of comebacks, or long fights, but by the end of your time with the game, you should find the fights becoming easier and easier.

Unforgiving if you don't know how to approach it: -2

"Had your goodnight kiss?"

By now, you should have realized that much of the game's charm, as well as its gameplay system, heavily depends on how the game looks. A tell is only a tell if it can be easily viewed and distinguished after all. And here is where Super-Punch Out delivers in spades.

Perhaps one of the most visually advanced sprites in the SNES, each of the game's 16 fighters convey both in animation and art style their entire technique and personality. When Bruce Lee's impersonator prepares for a dragon kick, he leaps from side to side and lungs at you with his feet. If you were hit by that, you simply were not paying attention. Less elaborate moves are just as simply telegraphed, with each arm exactly showing how the punch is going to be delivered, and each body movement showing where to best attack.

Besides its functional requirements, the graphics show us the personality and ridiculousness of the cast in ways not feasible otherwise. Though some characters are palette swaps of each other, each character showcases their personality through both their dress style and animation. From the eccentric movements of Heike Kagero to the chill moves of Bob Charlie.

Unfortunately, the music doesn't do as well as the graphics at all. With a limited selection of music, and no track standing out at all, this is terrible for Nintendo SNES standards. I even find the music of the original Punch-Out to be better overall.

If the audio ques weren't that important, this would be one of the few games I wouldn't mind listing to my iPod while playing. Listening to eye of the tiger while fighting Aran Ryan would have been a perfect fight.

Music: -4
Graphical Design: +4
Animation: +5

In Conclusion:

Super Punch-Out is a game you will either love, or one that you will simply not care off. With a simple premise, it shouldn't be easy to know how you feel about it. For those who do fall in love with the game, they might want to just finish it and move on, or sink countless hours perfecting their craft and reducing each opponent into a shell of their former selves.

With boundless depth, and the charm to stand out, Super Punch-Out is an SNES Classic. If only it had better music.

Final: 42/50

"Tips"
1- Know thyself and know thy enemy.
2- Don't button mash, and don't panic.
3- A missed opportunity is better than getting counter attacked.
4- Being in power mode is not an automatic invisibility period.
5- Left jabs are your fastest attack.
6- Super punches come in various forms.
7- Attempt higher level tactics in Time Attack Mode.
8- Also try to knock your opponent down with a special punch, it will give you more time to recover some stamina.

"Next Game"

Everyone reading this will either get why Super Punch-Out is #17 in the list, or be amazed that it is. With very different games, we often get such divided reception. For me, it deserves a top 20 spot but only marginally.

For the next game, I am jumping all the way to #13, where I am going to play the famous cult hit Earthbound. With such hype, I am both excited and guarded going in. Here is hoping it lives up to what I have been reading about it.

Stay Tuned
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Post by Lord Spencer on Sun Mar 29, 2015 4:37 am

#13

Game: Earthbound.
Year: 1995.
Genre: RPG.
Publisher: Nintendo.
Developer: Ape Creatures/HAL Laboratory.

The Official SNES Gaming Thread - Page 5 Images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQKBDIo6aNEIUGLzrBwCOI5HiGzgtEgv6oulfoP5VeFFJk7ktcl

First things first, I am changing my rating system to better rate different genres according to their own rules. It will still be from 50 quality points, but every title will start from 25 and earn/lose points according to criteria important to the titles and genres themselves.

For many, including myself, their first encounter with Earthbound or Mother 2 as it is known in Japan is through Ness in Super Smash Bros. It was only after seeing Ness in the famous Nintendo cross-over brawler that I began hearing about the game he featured in. The reputation of Earthbound becomes a part of gamer's lore. We have seen the petitions asking for Nintendo to release the game in the Wii's virtual console well before it finally released it on the Wii U.

Hence, it is difficult to play Earthbound without being influenced by the passion of its fans, and the unique statues it managed to cultivate with the passing years. At once, we are promised a unique experience and another SNES RPG classic.

It is difficult to analyze why Earthbound was a commercial failure in the US. It did well in Japan, and Nintnedo heavily advertised it overseas. Yet, those who bought the game are behind the massive push for it online.

For the reviewer, we need to discern the reality from the myth. Yet, it increasingly difficult to separate the two in case of Earthbound. And it is this power, and its unapologetic pursuit of novelty that pushes Eartbound well beyond its flaws to what I consider a true SNES classic.

"Giygas, the universal destroyer, sent all to the horrors of eternal darkness"

Taking the game at its two end points, Earthbound is little more than a chosen hero tale defeating an ancient undiscerning evil. Yet, when we unfold this story and play as Ness through the journey to the final end point, we see both the character of the world, and the novelty of its stories.

At once, we are greeted not with the typical fantasy realms of SNES role-playing games, but with modern world suburb. This setting lands the game its unique charm, and also highlights its parody qualities. But the game does not rely on parody and making fun of RPG tropes, it carries itself as a game first and foremost.

I will begin by saying there is little interesting in the core story outside of it setting of a reason for all the side stories to exist. Giygas's only reason to exist is for all the crazy plots to begin. He spreads evil through a crazy golden statue, and causes weird things to happen. It is not Giygas who players will remember after playing the game, but the crazy cults they fought, the corrupt business mafiosi they went against, and all crazy things that happens in the way.

Unlike other games, the world of Earthbound is its own character. Interacting with the NPCs flesh out the story, and little exposition dialogue is offered. This does make for a dull group of playable characters, who are only interesting in a gameplay perspective. Yet, it makes talking to the NPCs more than a way to gather what to do next.

To carry through with this living modern world, the game pays a lot of attention to small details that flesh the world out, and huge design choices that impact the whole game. Little details such as the main character Ness being homesick unless he calls his mom every now and then, and the main currency being funds from his dad that he withdraws from an ATM. There is no world map in Earthbound, locations are interconnected by land roads, bus routes, ferry travel, and even a lake monster ride.

Outside of his iconic appearance in Smash, Ness might not be otherwise remembered. Yet, the world of Earthbound is one that most players would find hard to forget. The stories it tells, and the journey you take. In a way, it is the player that travels through the game, the playable characters only forgettable companion to an unforgettable journey.

Unique Fleshed out World: +5
Interesting Side Stories: +5
Boring Main Characters: -1

"Pokey used Ness as a shield!!"

RPGs have a really hard time crafting a good combat system. Make it too complicated, and its too slow. Make it too easy, and it becomes repetitive. A balance between deep and engaging is hard to craft, and it requires both experience and design pedigree. For the people at Ape Creatures and HAL, who have little to no experience in the Genre, who are headed by a director who insists on upending the whole RPG scheme; the expectation is to fail.

Yet, by throwing around RPG tropes and simply relaying on crazy out of the box idea, the team managed to make a combat system that is surprisingly good. While not of the quality of Square titles, Earthbound's battles are as interesting as the text inside the battle.

Central to its combat system is the diversity of its cast. Ness is both your physical tank, and your main healer. In fact, Ness is simply overpowered compared to the rest of the team. Paula is your typical Mage, who is both your defense against magical attacks (called PSI attacks in the game) and your main user of them. The other two characters are weirder styles yet. You have Jeff, who you could invest on by buying missiles that he can only use (decisions time), but he could be the one healing with items while your team dishes it out with magical attacks that he does not have. Poo is the last member in the team, who acts as a healing support for Ness, but also a magical assault companion to Paula.

Balancing the strengths and weaknesses of your cast is central in most battles, which are challenging due to the fact that I was rarely over leveled. With boss battles being a highlight, simply attacking is not going to cut it, and making wrong attack decisions can bite you.

Fortunately, the game does include a built in trump card for the player. Since the health of each character is shown in a roulette looking screen, you can always heal your characters before they die as the rollers count down. Unfortunately, this scramble for a last minute save exposes one flaw in the battles. The text is simply too slow, and nothing is more infuriating than having Paula die on you because the enemy's text took to long to disappear.

Additionally, we notice a few difficulty spikes through the game, with some combination of enemies being tougher to handle than the bosses themselves. For instance, one enemy can completely obliterate your team with his attacks unless you put up an expensive magical shield before he makes it. This makes the first time you face him painfully hilarious, and you are well out of luck if Paula is not fast enough. Yet, the worst offender is undoubtedly the self-exploding enemies, who dish out huge damage as you kill them. In these cases, you furiously tap the B button as you scramble for the battle to end before your health rolls down too much.

A grind is always possible to alleviate the difficulty spikes, but it never feels forced, especially since you could see enemies in the map. Additionally, Earthbound implemented the pioneering feature of obliterating under-leveled enemies. This means that if an enemy is no match for you, they simple disintegrate and give you the experience you would usually get without having to fight them. Hence, you could always go for a fast grind.

Elsewhere the game doesn't waste your time with obtuse objectives, as the game give you enough clues to get you to the next objective. Surely to be handy to some is a hints system, which simply tells you where to go next if your are truly stumped.

Engaging Battle System: +3
Unique Map Feature: +3
Frustrating Difficulty Spikes: -1

"Get your butt home, pronto!"

In many ways, we respect Earthbound's dedication to both is style and to streamlining the RPG genre The enemy obliteration feature and the fact that you can play the entire game only using your left hand is great. Yet, in many ways, we see a clash between the two goals, and in other ways we simply see the inexperience of the team making this RPG.

One of the greatest time wasters in the game is its storage system. While having limited pocket space is nothing new in RPGs, and it is a balance decision. We are used to having a storage system for the items clogging our inventory. Earthbound wants to have a storage system that is thematically appropriate. Hence, it uses a storage service with a guy coming over to pick up or deliver things.

This system causes a number of problems. First, you can only store up to an amount. Second, you cannot get rid of key items even after using them for their purpose, hence they clog you storage space. Third, you can only store things or take things at a trip, hence you can't swap items. Fourth, you can only store or take 3 items at a time, unless you physically go to your sister back in your hometown (not your real hometown and sister). Fifth, navigating the menu is just too slow.

Trying to heal Poo, I need to go into the menu, hit down once, go to another menu, hit select to choose Ness, hit down once to go to recovery, hit right once to go the the second recovery spell, hit right three times to choose Poo. If I wanted to heal Paula after Poo, I am booted right to the start of this sequence.

Simply put, navigating the menus is a chore, and with healing being so damn important, it is going to add up time wasted as the game goes on. I can't help but think this issue would have ironed out if the game wasn't such a troubled development project (it took 5 years). Also, it is infuriating to know how much time was wasted on the storage service which hurts more than helps the game.

Storage Service Blues: -2
Slow Menu Navigation: -3

"We are Mr. Saturn. ZOOM BOING."

With all its dedication to a unique RPG experience, we of course expect an art direction aimed at establishing this unique world. Mostly, both the art and music of Earthbound lends greatly to its living world. Yet, the same dedication to a zany experience manages some poor decisions.

Off the bat, I am going to say the art style of the world is great. The chibi people style lends to a more modern looking RPG, with the little animations people do adding to their credibility. Each location is beautifully crafted and has its own character, with both towns and dungeons showing great variety in this interconnected world.

Going off this art direction, we see the enemy models with some as memorable as the locales. It is difficult to forget the angry hippies that attack you or the piece of contempreary art that insults you for failing to understand it. The game expertly pokes fun at both popular and high culture in the same breath.

Yet, the game goes too far in its pursuit with the battle background. Composed of surrealistic moving colors and lights, they can both be dizzying and bleh at the same time. With the exception of a few battles, more traditional backgrounds would have been much more appreciated.

Similar to its art direction, the musical selection adds a unique feeling to each place. With town tunes being a highlight, just walking around is fun. When you go to another town in a bus route, you not only see the scenes of the town passing by, but also listen to jazzy tune.

Yet, similiar to the art direction, the music takes a nosedive inside battles. Perhapes wanting to complement its LCD nature, the music wants to add to the theme by being mysterious and just plain weird. I don't think it works. It doesn't work as a tune, and doesn't work as a battle music. While some Battle songs are cool and memorable, the more common ones are a bore. Sometimes, even the better one feel misjudged. To clarify, one of the better battle music is a jazz inspired tune with some good bass. Yet, by the time the song really starts to hot it, most battles have already finished.

Earthbound's dedication to its style is both the cause of its better and worse decisions. But as a whole, it pulls through. Nothing reflects that more than when the music and art of the game complement each other in the cooler scenes, cut-scenes before the age of CGI. The highlight here being the Runaway five show, which showcases both the funny artstyle and unique music of the game.

Music: +5
Graphical Design: +5
Battle Music and Backgrounds: -6

In Conclusion:

As I see it, Earthbound earned its reputation through both being a solid game, and because of the story around it. Assuming it was commercially sucessful, with sequels improving on the formula and such, the game would be looked upon with respect as the game that stared the series but without the same reverence.

As it is, Earthbound is classic because it is both a unique and solid game. It did not ignite a series, but is its own game with the iconic image of Ness in Smash. Similarly, we see similiar reverence to its sequel Mother 3.

Does Earthbound deserve it?

I think it does.

Simply Unique: +5

[i]Final: 43/50


"Tips"
1- Be very careful in the early game, it gets easier from there.
2- You can farm magic butterflies in some rooms for MP points.
3- Don't be afraid of using magic, but always leave some for Bosses.
4- Jeff needs higher IQ to fix some items.
5- Trash items that are not useful, no need to store useless buns that heal 8 points.
6- Trash periodically, you don't want to navigate the storage often.
7- Talk to the NPCs, sometimes they are really funny.

"Next Game"

Eearthbound is the perfect cases in which a sequel would have become a true masterpiece. Yet gamers shunned it only to ask for it later. Perhaps Nintendo shot themselves in the foot with their stinky advertising.

After finishing a lengthy RPG, I am going to sink into another one by the masters of the genre. I am talking about Secret of Mana which sits at #11. I know its going to be good, but is it a classic?

Stay Tuned
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Post by Lord Spencer on Mon Apr 27, 2015 2:25 am

#11

Game: Secret of Mana.
Year: 1993.
Genre: Action-RPG.
Publisher: Squaresoft.
Developer: Squaresoft.

The Official SNES Gaming Thread - Page 5 Images?q=tbn:ANd9GcS5TD2992VMcwgPWbWXAIrh-flvw3qVCR1E8rz8ZvcNLLvBssvD

First things first, I am changing my rating system to better rate different genres according to their own rules. It will still be from 50 quality points, but every title will start from 25 and earn/lose points according to criteria important to the titles and genres themselves.

In the early days of console gaming, RPGs were synonymous with the sudden ripping off the game scree, and the transportation to a more action packed realm for the battle. The screen would tear, break, or simply transform. The music changes, and the rules of the game change as well.

Secret of Mana was an active attempt to change the rules of the genre. Instead of turn-based battles and a different map, Secret of Mana puts all the action in the same map, and ends up being one of the major innovators in the Action-RPG sub-genre.

However, being an innovator is not a mark of excellence in of itself. For Squaresoft, they wanted to innovate while giving us their usual known quality in the SNES.

"Darkness sweeps the troubled land as Mana fades..."

While Secret of Mana aims early to go against RPG gameplay cliches, it embraces storyline cliches openly. The tale is simply of a dying world, a chosen hero, and an irredeemable villain. With such simple formula, one would hope greater effort would then be put into the characterization of the world. Unfortunately, neither playable characters or NPCs offer anything of interest to the player.

Despite the amount of time I spent in SoMs world, I couldn't bring myself to care much about what happens to it. Yet, while the overarching narrative is non-interesting, the world itself is fun to walk around in. With distinctive locales, and some humor along the way, going from dungeon to dungeon is driven by the desire to see more of it. More so because of the unique way the world's locations are interconnected with each other.

Rather than having an overworld map, the entire game is connected as if one huge dungeon. This might lead some to feel that might limit travel. However, fast travel through Cannon blast points (you literally get blasted from a cannon) and a later game traveling companion addresses the fact.

Ultimately, SoM is not a game you would play for its story, nor even for its admittedly vibrant world. True, the plot gives you enough incentive to plow forward, but the real incentive will depend in your appreciation of its stronger qualities.

Poor Generic Story -4
Interesting world +2
Boring Main Characters: -1

"You must become a hero worthy of the sword"

The first thing you will notice when you start the game is the weird camera angle; its not centered on your character, but tethered somewhere at the edge of the screen. This means that you need to push near the edge of the screen to move it, which starts as really annoying once the gameplay incentive to do so becomes apparent.

In SoM, all the action happens in the regular map space, which is shown in top-down Zelda-like space. But besides the main character, you also have two allies, a girl and a sprite. All these characters need to be in the screen at the same time, which explains the camera angle. So while it starts as an annoying eccentricity, the camera angle shows itself as majorly useful once you have a full party.

With all three characters in view, battles will often be against a couple of monsters or a single boss. In battle, you control one character while the AI controls the other two. While in control, you can walk around freely and press the action button to attack, or issue commands to the magic users. There is a catch though; attacks are nearly useless if the Stamina gauge is depleted, and it depletes withe every attack and takes about 10 seconds to recharge. Hence, you have to attack, wait a little bit, and then attack again.

This might feel simple enough, but boss battles will take the system to its most complicated (and most rewarding) conclusion. Besides attacking, you must also move around to dodge enemy attack. The AI can be issued a simple strategy, and switching characters is easily done on the fly. Additionally, you can keep pressing the attack button to charge up additionally powerful attacks, all the while try to use magic effectively.

For the usual attack (non-magic), you have a choice of one of eight different weapons, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. For instance, the trusty sword lacks range, but it hits in a wide arc sometimes sweeping foes left and right. In the other extreme, the whip doesn't lack range but only attacks in a straight line. Additionally, there are ranged weapons with their own different styles like the Bow and the Boomerang. And the more you use a weapon it levels up.

With its fast pace, and the constant rewards of battle (leveling up both yourself and your weapons), SoM starts feeling like an addictive dungeon crawler, which is not off the mark with the excellent design of the game's dungeons.

Admittedly, the battle system sometimes feels like it lacks some polish. Early on, charged attacks are nearly useless because they do not justify the opportunity cost of charging for them, especially when we consider the possibility of missing. Indeed, attacks that whiff frequently are the worst offenders of the battle system. With little feedback on when a miss happens, you are left scratching your head debating whether the attack was dodged or simply did not clip the hit-frame of the enemy. It happens frequently enough to slow down the pace with some enemies, but critical hits happen even more as often to offset this minor annoyance. And critical hits wackes the enemy with a satisfying sound that pushes you right back in the cycle of murder and grinding.

Finally, for those looking for a cooperative experience, SoM offers what is probably one of the rarest cooperative RPG experiences. Instead of the AI controlling the other two characters, up to two other players can do the honor (which makes the game easier overall).

Engaging Battle System: +5
Variety of Weapons: +3
When attacks miss: -2
COOP: +3

"When Mana fades, kids lose their hopes and dreams"

Outside of its battle system, SoM plays nearly the same. By virtue of not operating the two in combat, traversing the world as well as solving its puzzles is through the same commands. Some weapons are necessary to move forward, with the axe breaking boulders while the whip acts like a gabbling hook of some sorts. Non of the game puzzles are particularly interesting as they boil down to use magic A instead of magic B, but world traversal is fun in of itself.

Particularly admiring is how little time the game wastes in its introduction. By the third hour you will have most of the weapons and all three characters ready to fight. Generally, the game isn't interested in complexity, as Items are very few and leveling up is straightforward.

Unfortunately, leveling up magic is not as fast or fun as regular leveling up. Similar to weapons, magic upgrades with usage. However unlike weapons which are used every time you attack, you will find less opportunity or need to use magic/ Especially since MP is not as easy to recover as HP. This causes a minor annoyance where you need to grind magic in order to level it up to a respectable degree.

Fast, Fluid, and Fun: +4
Magic Leveling Up: -2

"Pure evil seeks the seeds now"

Even with minimal grinding, the game's regular enemies rarely pose any threat outside of "gear switching times" (when you need to buy better equipment). It is no surprise then that you will be on auto-pilot for an extended period of time, which unfortunately under-utilizes the battle system. Here is where bosses come in. Simply put, bosses are the only time when you will need to carefully think about what you are doing.

While not the norm, a highlight boss fight will force you to either switch between ranged and melee weapons, or switching between two character who each has one of them. Normally though, the boss battles will involve using everything you have from magic to charge attacks. When all else fails, you will need to use some items. Thankfully, using items is not at all cheap, because you are only able to carry very little that you will need to think carefully before abusing them.

Yet, its in boss battles that the game's lack of feedback on misses that is most infuriating. Sometimes, the boss's huge frame deceptively signals where you can hit them. In such cases, the beginning of any fight involves experimenting with the best way to attack them to register a hit. Also in these fights is where magic is either used to its fullest potential, or found to be lacking because of lack of grinding.

Boss Battles: +4
Miss and Magic -2

"It's like a dream... can we really be here"

We have seen how the many elements of SoM show both greatness and mediocrity. Yet, the game's artistic and audio design is simply brilliant. Not only does it add tons of personality to the game, but it also acts as its own incentive to move forward. When a game's soundtrack is so good that just stopping and listening to it is its own reward, you know that its a damn good soundtrack.

Starting with the graphical design, its neither very unique nor is it groundbreaking. It is however constantly good, with varied locales and beautiful vistas, it brilliantly showcases the world of SoM. With a colorful visual styles, the graphics convey the natural power of Mana, as opposed to the less vibrant metallic style of the technology that uses nature.

Highlighting the visual style are the sprites themselves, which are expressive, unique, and well animated. From the main characters whose movements land weight to the combat, to the random storeguy NPC whose dancing signals his willingness to sell. As usual, the stars of the show are the bosses whose massive frame showcases the highest level of detail.

As for the soundtrack, little can be said about this squaresoft masterpiece other than that; its a masterpiece. I often say that a go0d soundtrack adds another dimension to videogames, which is even more important in the earlier games of the SNES. Hiroki Kikuta does just that in one of the best SNES soundtracks.

Besides being consistently brilliant, SoMs soundtrack also has a considerable number of great tracks. To focus on a few, "Into the thick of it" highlights the game's nature theme as well as serve as great adventure them. "The Mana Fortress" is epic, serious, and showcases the danger much more than any graphical pre-CGI scene could ever do.

That such a track is rarely talked about in the conversation of best SNES soundtracks is frankly baffling, because Mr/ Kikuta not only composed greater musical pieces, but also a unique musical style. With folklore music, as well as 80 techno as influences, this fusion stands proud among SNES soundtracks.

Graphical Style: +3
Music: +6

In Conclusion:

I am not going to pretend that Secret of Mana is a constantly brilliant game. Despite enjoying it most of the time, too much of it was on autopilot because of the non-intresting story. And while the music always demanded some attention, the game didn't need much of it when not fighting a boss.

In many ways, the game is similar to its battle system. The frequent misses are noticeable, as well as frustrating. Yet, the critical hits are frequent as well, and it sure feels great when you get one.

Final: 44/50

"Tips"
1- More expensive gear is always better.
2- Try and grind your magic every now and then.
3- If you are getting easily decimated, you probably need to buy better gear.
4- After level 5 for any weapon, start specializing each character with a number of weapon instead of upgrading all the weapons.
5- Use Stat boosting magic.
6- Don't neglect charge attacks, especially late in the game.
7- If you miss too much, try changing weapons.

"Next Game"

Secret of Mana is one of the great Squaresoft RPGs of the SNES, and its opens up the list here. However, there is a lesser know Square title that is a spiritual sequel in a way. Secret of Evermore might not be in the IGN list, but I heard too much about it to ignore, and I have my own personal reason to play it.

Here is hoping for a good time.

Stay Tuned
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Post by Lord Spencer on Wed May 27, 2015 10:32 am

#SC3

Game: Secret of Evermore.
Year: 1995.
Genre: Action-RPG.
Publisher: Square Soft.
Developer: Square Soft.

The Official SNES Gaming Thread - Page 5 Soecover

First things first, I am changing my rating system to better rate different genres according to their own rules. It will still be from 50 quality points, but every title will start from 25 and earn/lose points according to criteria important to the titles and genres themselves.

This game has one of the most striking cover images in the SNES. Back in 1995, before I started learning English, I remember going to a videogame store with my father who promised to buy me a new game. I went there looking for a new Mario or Donkey Kong game, but I didn't find any. Fearing that by leaving the store without buying anything would free my father from his promise, I bought the first game that caught my eye.

I couldn't even read the title, but the red monster compelled me to buy the game.

As soon as I started the game, I realized this was something different from what I am used to. Grand music started to play as scenes shifted, obviously telling a story with the alien English letters that I am yet to understand. Persistently, I tried going as far as I could in the game, only to not know how to save.

It didn't take long for me to realize I needed to grow up an learn English in order to beat the game, and I shelved it. Yet, as I grew up, new game systems came, and the old SNES's charger went up and died (never the SNES itslef). However, the cover image and the haunting opening scenes were lodged in my brain.

Once I started my current SNES reviews series, the red monster image flashed again. I realized I need to finish and review this game. However, I didn't even know its name. Armed with cover image, I typed in google "SNES rpg game with red monster in cover", and lo and behold, Secret of Evermore.

To my surprise, this is a game made by none other than the SNES RPG masters. This is a review 20 years in the making, and in some way, it delivers.

"My friends, prepare to be part of history"

By the end of the SNES era, Square became known for making particularly great intros to their game, and SoE is no different. Starting with a black and white "flashback" scene, we are treated to great moody music and an excellent setting of pace. Some experiment has gone terribly wrong. By the time we gain control of out character, we believe the game's invitation to be part of history.

Yet, this is not a game truly made by Square, but one made by an American team that Square formed for the express purpose of making an RPG with western influences. Smartly, this team took Secret of Mana as a template, and made a spiritual spin-off that borrows many elements while introducing new things. This is mechanically a SoM game. However, it is something entirely different.

The game starts in Podunk, USA, a generic US small town. You are simply a boy with an unhealthy love for B-Movies, who walks his dog without much care. This becomes the catalyst of the plot as your dog ends up chasing a cat into the abandoned mansion seen at the intro of the game, starting a brief sequence of mistakes that leads you with your pet into the world of Evermore.

At first, I thought this was going to be a time travel tale. In the beginning, you start in a spaceship, and in less than 10 minutes you are thrown into the Jurassic Age. However, this is an interconnected world where different time periods exist in geographical proximity. Specifically, this game spans 4 different time styles, with two being very similar to each other.

Ironically, the game's setting doesn't have much to do with the plot other than the overarching desire to go back to normal USA. Yet, to go back, you must travel Evermore and solve the problems plaguing it since it might help your cause. Other than yourself, the victims of the experiment that started it all are trapped in this world as well.

You should not expect a grand story to unravel in SoE. However, this is a fun game. Like the B-Movies that inspired this wacky adventure, this a game that is enjoyable if you approach it with the right mindset. Helping it is possibly the best script and writing found in an SNES RPG. Cartridges are known to have memory issues, and with Japanese text being relatively compressed in comparison to English; translations have always been weak. Hence, when we have a game designed from the ground up with English as the main language; we get a script that is both funny and well-done.

Ultimately, this is a story about a boy and his dog trying to go back to their real world. In their way, this boy manages to help the citizens of Evermore in some meaningful ways. Sometimes, this involves a number of interesting stories, even if non of them is ground braking. Yet, this is also a fiercely unique player among its RPG brethren. True, it might use some usual RPG tropes, but, it will always have a funny B-Movie scenario to back that trope up.

Unique World:+3
Funny Story:+2
Excellent Writing:+4
Dog:+2

"Like Emperor Zorn in 'Acropolis Apocalypse'."

With the SoM system in place, SoE already has a huge advantage gameplay-wise.This means you can walk around and directly attack your enemies as you wait for your attack bar to fill. Also, you could pause the action to unleash some spells, heal, or just change your weapon of choice. Even more, it actually improves on it in many ways. For one thing, the camera is centered on you unless a co-op player is controlling the dog. Also, there is more information when attacking. Fro example, when you miss an attack, an actual "miss" number will appear on screen to notify you that you hit the right place but simply missed the attack.

In the first stages of the game, you immediately learn the importance of keeping your distance as you joust with your enemies. Then you gain your first "Alchemy" spell, and fight your first real boss. Thraxx is the enemy you see in the cover of the game, and he is no slouch. With your bone club in hand, and your Alchemy spell in the bag, you must always be on your toe to succeed, and what a feeling when you do.

Then it all goes to hell.

Let us start with the Alchemy system. Unlike spells in other games, Alchemy requires mixing ingredients to launch a spell. Ingredients can be bought or found through your dog who sniffs ingredients out of the environment. In many ways, this gives extra value to money, because it can be used to stock on ingredients. Here, we can imagine a game economy where using Alchemy to kill enemies would give us money to buy Alchemy ingredients. This is how it should work in theory.

However, theory is much different in practice, as the invisible hand royally messes up. First, Alchemy needs leveling up through usage. Yet, unless leveled up, using Alchemy is useless. Hence, you either spam fireball a hundred time to upgrade it to a semi useful level, or simply stick to your melee weapon. Worse yet, in order to level one spell up, you need to use it an obscene amount of times. Hence, the only way to realistically level up any one spell is to set up a grind. Go murder a few monsters with the spell, get the money to buy ingredients for that spell, rinse and repeat.

This sets up the entire Alchemy system to fail. And that didn't need to happen. Take the "heal" spell for example. Through normal usage without grinding, I managed to upgrade the spell organically so that it always stayed useful for me without being overpowered. Yer, the game found it fit to give me a healing spell that completely heals my wounds. Hence, the only reason I continued using my old "heal" spell is to stubbornly stick to something I worked to upgrade.

Unfortunately, this is not the only time the game steps on its toes regarding Alchemy. With more than 20 spells (which should have been nice), some spells get stronger versions of themselves. However, this means you will need to level those up in order to get any use. Which is highlighted by the game's own lack of balance regarding damage. Taking one spell and grinding it up, in one level jump, it became ridiculously powerful for the time. So powerful in fact, I could simply ruin any boss by spamming it, and I actually manage to make a profit while doing so. Hence, I had an infinite use of a cheap grenade launcher.

Yet, through one jump of the game, the spell suddenly became useless. At the endgame, I didn't bother going back and grinding (although I could). In fact, I believe if I upgraded it to its maximum level that I wouldn't have any hard time with the final boss whatsoever.

This is highlighted by another major balance problem in the game. Unlike SoM, you have four types of weapons to choose from, with one coming late in the game. In SoM, each weapon gets stronger once you upgrade it with an item, which adds a charged attack that is significantly stronger. In SoE, you upgrade weapons through usage. This sounds okay in paper, but it is fundamentally flawed. You see, of each type, you get an "upgraded" stronger version as you go through the game. However, this stronger version starts at level one. This means that if you want to use the stronger spear, you must lose the charge attack you earned through leveling the weaker spear. Simply put, each weapon class should have leveled up regardless of the "weapon" you use. The bone club should have upgraded to the Gladius and so on. Anything else is ridiculous.

Ironically, this makes your Dog as the only dependable damage source in the endgame. Because he used the same weapon (his mouth) the entire game, it sets him up for murder in the end. The developers obviously realized something is wrong in the end, which is why they equip you with the Bazooka weapon, which makes both under leveled Alchemy and Melee weapons useless.

In many ways, SoE had grand ideas that fell far too short. Perhaps over confident with their SoM engine, or too relaxed with it. However, I think this speaks to the lack of experience this team had in the day, which ultimately created a very unbalanced game.

Terrible Balance: -12
Some Good Ideas: +3

"How do we get back to Podunk?"

This is a game in which its art tells perhaps more than it intended to. Look at the lush, distinctive, and widely different locations of the prehistoric part of the game. Not only is the art direction superb in making you feel entangled in prehistoric jungles, its variety also makes for a very believable world. From the raptors that attack you to the wild planet life, the game's design in both background and enemies shows great care and attention to detail.

Then, look at barren, similar, and boring "Omnitopia" part at the end. It can be argued that such boring design is symbolic of the ultra modern era, but I think its both budget problems and time constraints. Even though, while not the entire game is as detailed and splendid as prehistorica, the game's graphical and artistic design is consistently good, even if it drops in style at the end.

With the game's smart use of foreground, the game's locales are more three dimensional than they may otherwise seem. Jungles obstruct your view just as they should, while deserts have sand particles flying about in the wind. In all of this, wonderfuly designed and animated cretins walk the earth. These monsters belong to their world as much to fight you as to simply live. Different than the usual monsters found in many RPGs, these baddies are plausibly existing as part of the world design.

Of course, bosses are the best designed baddies of them all. Now, these guys don't belong; they dominate. From the monstrous Thrax who towers over your poor mortal self to the lord of the rats, the bosses are formidable looking and mostly unique. Despite the occasional color swap, most bosses are fearsome looking and fun to fight against due to their variety and style.

Unfortunately, such variety doesn't extend to the color palette, which is unfortunately dull and repetitive. While such coloring worked very well for the prehistoric era, I cannot but feel the other eras should have lighted up as you went by. Probably, this is a major reason we feel future locations feeling more familiar as we go by.

Along with consistency of the color palette, we get a consistently good soundtrack. in a rather bold direction, SoE aims for a mysterious and ambient style of music. Hence, this is a soundtrack that mixes some zany sounds with ambiance mixed with nature.

Oddly enough, this works very well when walking around in the outer-world, with the natural chirping of birds and the sounds of the jungle your only companion. As such, the mysterious soundtracks of the dungeons are further accentuated due to the sounds of the great outside. So, while there aren't many great tracks, the originality of the soundtrack as whole is a part of the game's unique charm.

Graphical Style: +4
Sprite Design: +3
Music: +3

In Conclusion:

There are games that I believe fulfill their entire potential, and are as a consequence very good games. Not truly great, but very good games. And there are games that had the potential to be great games, yet fall short.

I think that SoE is a good game that could have been one of the SNES's greatest games. Clearly, the potential for a great RPG was there. Yet, through the inexperience of the development team, much of that potential was wasted in balancing problems. In many ways, this was a game which begged for the sequel that would get it perfectly right.

Unfortunately, SoE never got that sequel.

Yet, we are left with a good game, that could with effort from the player be especially fun. True, it sags through the end. True, its balance is off in many areas. However, this is one game that wasn't afraid of doing it differently, and it shines as a result. Perhaps it didn't manage to achieve greatness, but it tried. And 20 years after first playing it, I am very glad I did.

Final: 37/50

"Tips"
1- More expensive gear is always better.
2- If you are going to level up one Alchemy Spell, Crush is your friend.
3- Don't bother with upgrading your melee weapons, the Bazooka will replace them anyways.
4- You really wouldn't need anything more than the first healing spell.
5- If you are getting too much damage, you probably need better armor.
6- Try talking to Sellers as the dog.
7- Some puzzles require you to control the dog.
8- Keep Puzzle Alchemy Spells equipped at all times (to save some backtracking time).

"Next Game"

While Secret of Evermore couldn't have possibly stood up to 20 years of hype building inside of me, the experience wasn't bad. It could have been much more, but what we got isn't terrible. For one thing, this game surely belongs to an SNES top 100 games, and as such should have been in IGN's list.

Next game I am going to play is the Square Soft and Nintendo collaboration, none other than Super Mario RPG at #10. As the father of the Paper Mario and Mario and Luigi series, I am excited about this one.

Stay Tuned
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Post by Lord Spencer on Wed Nov 18, 2015 12:41 am

#10

Game: Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars.
Year: 1996.
Genre: RPG.
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Square Soft.

The Official SNES Gaming Thread - Page 5 SuperMarioRPGSNESCoverArtUS

First things first, I am changing my rating system to better rate different genres according to their own rules. It will still be from 50 quality points, but every title will start from 25 and earn/lose points according to criteria important to the titles and genres themselves.

Arguably, Nintendo and Square were the two greatest developers in the SNES. The first managed to make great games that span many genres in its own consoles, while the second dominated the RPG market. Notably for Nintendo, they didn't make any RPG game yet, so an alliance between the two developers seemed natural.

However, in a twist, the result was an RPG featuring Mario, a character that went against the genre's core ideas. Fittingly, the resulting game was revloutinary, not only because of its visual style and gameplay, but because it showcased the RPG genre to many who might not have tried it before.

While Nintendo and Square broke up harshly after the SNES, and there was never a true sequel to SMRPG, it remains as proof of their past partnership. Through its legacy, the game inspired two Mario RPG series that are clearly a continuation of what Nintendo and Square started.

"You're telling us that Bowser has abducted the princess AGAIN?"

Alas, the turtle king strikes again, and kidnaps princess Toadstool (yet to be redefined as Peach) and hauls her into his keep. For some reason, Mario doesn't need to journey through 8 worlds to save her, but to simply stroll into the castle immediately and begin the rescue operation.

With Bowser quickly defeated, and the princess freed, those familiar with Mario games will feel rightly puzzled at the quick resolution of the eternal story. They will feel puzzled no more when a gigantic sword impales Bowser's castle, and sends Mario and the Princess into different directions.

Thus begins a search of the princess, as well as an investigation of the Sword's role in the chaos that is engulfing the Mushroom kingdom. Of course, as is the case with Mario games, this is merely an excuse to traverse the world and collect something to then fight other things.

Knowing the basic nature of their story, and the importance of the plot to the RPG genre, the folks at Nintendo and Square instead relied on fun, funny, and comedic delivery.

Enter the inhabitants of the Mushroom kingdom. From Cloud characters that think they are frogs, to rebellious monsters that decided to create their own town. We are introduced to a variety of characters that offer no depth whatsoever, but are so over the top and funny they become instantaneously memorable.

For instance, it is difficult to forget Boomer (a Wario-like character) and his band of sniffits, who simply does not know what is cake and is prone to attempt and marry any girl he sees (naturally making Toadstool an object of his affections). Or, can we forget the Axem rangers, a group of 5 obvious Power Rangers rip-offs that are actually evil, and steal the show despite being featured only once.

Starring in this ridiculous narrative is Mario himself, whose silence did not stop him from being a great story teller. Frequently, Mario is asked to explain what happened to other NPC, and yet we know Nintendo wouldn't allow for him to speak. Instead, he explains events in Silent Movie skits fit for the great Carlie Chaplin himself. These skits are often funny, and always charming.

True, the main plot plays it safe, and with the removal of Bowser, it doesn't even include an enemy we care about. However, the side plots, and side characters, are almost all unique and charming in the way. In fact, we can credit the excellent characterization of Bowser today to his performance in SMRPG, which finally gave the Turtle King a soul.

Funny Story:+3
Excellent Writing:+3
Silent Movie Skits: +2

"I miss the good old days... Toadstool screaming in terror..."

Naturally, a Mario RPG wouldn't follow the usual style of other RPGS, even if it employs turn-based battle. As such, the battles in SMRPG demand some action from the player. True to the usual RPG fare, you can command a number of characters (3) and attack in turn. Yet, in this game, in both attack and defense, you are able to land a critical hit or defense through your actions.

Most often, when clicking the right button at the right time, you score a stronger attack or reduce a lot of damage. When using special attacks, you are usually asked to do something extra, like pushing the Y button repeatedly, or rotating the directional pad like an analog stick.

This adds another dimension to the tried and true turn-based formula that actually becomes essential to doing well. Since you can actually see enemies and decide whether to fight or not, the game can be challenging sometimes assuming you don't mercilessly slaughter everything that moves like you would do in an actual Mario game.

Unfortunately, the visual ques for landing a perfect hit are not always clear, especially regarding magical attacks. After finishing the game, I am yet to land a critical hit of some of Geno's magic, and only rarely managed to guard against Physical spells (magical ones cannot be guarded).

Outside of battle, classical Mario platforming morphs into something different. In retrospect, this is actually the first time Mario jumps in 3D space. With the ability to jump and move in 8 directions in a isometric view, the game frequently includes some minor platforming sequences.

Thankfully, these are very forgiving, and are basically a rest from the regular gameplay, since it can be very inaccurate. Because of the isometric view, it is often difficult to accurately judged a jump, and players will often miscalculate. Fortunately, for most of the game, its not a big issue and is rarely super vexing, although it becomes annoying in at least two separate stages.

With relatively action packed gameplay, SMRPG is an easy RPG to recommend, and one that is rarely boring both inside and outside of battle.

Combat: +4
Some Challenge (if you are not over-leveled): +1
Platforming Issues: -1

"Fangah! Foiled again"

Besides battle and platforming, it appears that Nintendo and Square wanted to cram in as much extra content as they could in the game. Both in the story and outside, there are a number of mini-games that you can play. It is actually very surprising how many varied mini games there are.

Some are really fun, like trying to avoid a bird who tries to clean out statues. Or hiding from Booster's sniffets. While most are only a moderate time waster. Still, thankfully only a few are truly terrible (the Yoshi Race).

What the mini-games actually offer is a variation of the gameplay. You can expect something cool and new in every location, and goes a long way in keeping the game fresh until the end, and the game is filled with such surprises that add greatly to the story.

For example, one time I found a hidden box that had a star in it. Immediately, the familiar starman theme started playing and I realized I needed to catch as many enemies as possible for a large EXP gain without much effort.

Variety and Surprises: +5

"And the legs... Well defined... STRONG. The legs of the masses!"

Immediately, the graphical style of the game stands out from its SNES contemporaries. Like Donkey Kong Country before it, SMRPG opts for 3D style renderings but in an isometric plane instead of a 2D side-scroller.

For the day, it was a revolutionary step that grabbed reviewers attentions. In fact, the 3D graphics in the game outclassed many early PS1 games, including FF7 in my opinion. Some reviewers even called it the "best looking SNES game".

Despite the importance of the graphics for its time, I actually think it didn't gracefully age unlike its 2D companions. In fact, if not for the vibrant and colorful style of the Mushroom Kingdom, it could have been much worse. Look at how the first Mario and Luigi game developed in a much weaker system, and how it aged much better.

Perhaps because of its focus on 3D design, the enemies left much to be desired. Especially the bosses which looked weird and uninteresting. One boss lady who apparently was supposed to be super attractive looked hideous when blown up for the fight (as is usual in Final Fantasy games). The jiggling of her breasts when hit still gives me nightmares.

Credit where its due for the risk and innovation, which actually aged surprisingly well. Yet, I cannot say the game still looks graphically amazing, and is outclassed by other RPGs such as Chrono Cross and FF6.

However, the musical score is simply excellent. Often quoted as Yoko Shimomura's career turning point, the soundtrack is extremely varied and vibrant. With many memorable themes such as Booster's Tower and The Factory, it immediately adds to the game.

You see, a battle theme for Super Mario is actually difficult to make right. It needs to be fun and get you pumping, but not something epic like in Final Fantasy. Additionally, this a series known for its catchy tunes and unforgettable melodies. However, they are suited for platforming action, and not RPG exploration.

Thankfully, Shimomura hits it out of the park with her musical score.

Graphical Age: -3
Excellent Music: +5

In Conclusion:

It wasn't a sure bet that SMRPG would turn out great. At that point of time, Mario did turn most of what he touched to gold, but we still had the movie and the PC games. Still, it couldn't have been anything but great, with the two best SNES developers working on it.

SMRPG is a game that managed to give characterization to the Mushroom Kingdom that still influences games from Nintendo today. It also influences our own fan parodies, and thought on the crazy place.

While it doesn't have true sequel, the two Mario RPG franchises that are inspired by it are going strong today, as a testament of the legacy of this game.

Final: 44/50

"Tips"
1- Practice your timing when you hit, you will need it.
2- Don't attack everything that moves, so that you won't over level.
3- Spend your coins, you can only have 999 coins at a time.
4- Look around and hit boxes to get items and MP points.
5- Flower jars not only add MP points, but also completely refill it as well.
6- Talk to everyone, some have hilarious lines.

"Next Game"

It's only fair that one of the best games made in the SNES is made by the two best developers. This showcases the versatility of the two companies, and their ability to experiment with intelligence.

I was going to play Starfox next, but after seeing how the graphics aged (terribly), I decided against it. Instead, I am going to play Yoshi's Island, a game that a lot of people swear by. I actually never played it before, but found all of its sequels to be a little boring. Hopefully the original stands the test of time.

Stay Tuned[/b]
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Post by Guest on Tue Nov 24, 2015 6:41 am

I remember, as a kid, being very disappointed in Super Mario RPG.

They gave you characters like Mallow and Geno, while not allowing you to use characters you knew and loved like Luigi or even Toad. Over dramatic one dimensional story which would come to represent the Square(Enix lol) of today. Even more disappointing was playing that, and then that fall playing Mario 64 and everything being retconned like it never happened. Bowser, despite all that had just happened, was magically evil again and they were enemies like none of the story ever happened. As a kid I never understood that, and it left a sour taste in my mouth(also the fact that the N64 was a steaming pile of garbage didnt help either).


I am sure you are enjoying Yoshi's Island though. That was by far the best Mario game on the Super Nintendo, and the true successor to the Super Mario world game that set the standard for the system.

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Post by Lord Spencer on Wed Dec 02, 2015 3:26 am

Betty La Fea wrote:I remember, as a kid, being very disappointed in Super Mario RPG.

They gave you characters like Mallow and Geno, while not allowing you to use characters you knew and loved like Luigi or even Toad. Over dramatic one dimensional story which would come to represent the Square(Enix lol) of today. Even more disappointing was playing that, and then that fall playing Mario 64 and everything being retconned like it never happened. Bowser, despite all that had just happened, was magically evil again and they were enemies like none of the story ever happened. As a kid I never understood that, and it left a sour taste in my mouth(also the fact that the N64 was a steaming pile of garbage didnt help either).


I am sure you are enjoying Yoshi's Island though. That was by far the best Mario game on the Super Nintendo, and the true successor to the Super Mario world game that set the standard for the system.


I really enjoyed Yoshi's Island.

BTW, I can see how someone would be dissapointed at SMBRPG, but I though it was widely acclaimed?

Also, I strongly disagree about the N64 being a "steaming pile of shit". But I guess I won't be proving otherwise until I start my N64 review series.
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Post by Lord Spencer on Fri Dec 04, 2015 3:27 am

#7

Game: Secret of Evermore.
Year: 1996.
Genre: Platformer.
Publisher: Nintendo.
Developer: Nintendo.

The Official SNES Gaming Thread - Page 5 300px-SMW2

First things first, I am changing my rating system to better rate different genres according to their own rules. It will still be from 50 quality points, but every title will start from 25 and earn/lose points according to criteria important to the titles and genres themselves.

I can't say I was a big fan of Yoshi Platformers before. Yoshi Story was OK, but I didn't like the DS Yoshi Island, and Yoshi's New Island is one of the worst games Nintendo ever made. Which is why I was skeptical about Yoshi's Island despite its glowing reputation.

It turns out that I was very wrong. Yoshi's Island is a great game, one which legacy is not at all reinforced by the later games in the series. Yet, even if those games were good, they would be competing against a great game.

"This is a story about baby Mario and Luigi"

Once upon a time, a stork was delivering the baby Mario brothers to their parents. Foretelling that at least one of the two would throw a spinner into the future plans of Bowser, Kamek, his trusty mage took it upon himself to kidnap the two.

Since, we are playing this game, you can assume that at least one of the kids wasn't kidnapped. Indeed, Mario fell into an Island inhabited by Yoshi's, those adorable dinosaur creatures, and through his baby talk, managed to convince them to help him save his brother.

The catch this time is that Mario is a baby, and can't do much by himself, which is why the Yoshi's will need to pull their resources and do most of the hardwork. Meanwhile, Kamek's goons are searching the island for baby Mario, and you will need to protect him.

By controlling the Yoshi's, you are basically getting a much different experience than your usual Mario game. The platforming rules are different, and as such the experience itself. For instance, every time you get damaged, baby Mario get's knocked out and floats in a bubble. Then a timer sets, and you need to grab him again before it runs out, or you lose a life.

Otherwise, the game is centered on having large varied levels, and a lot of things to collect. The levels are larger than Super Mario World, and some are significantly labyrinthine. To encourage traversing through these levels, Nintendo smartly included two collectible items for all level. Each level has five flowers to collect, which are usually hidden in each level, as well as 20 red coins. Unfortunately, the coins are not actually red until you get them. Otherwise, they are only slightly different than regular coins.

Also, for the perfectionists, there is the small stars to consider. Stars are what keeps the timer from getting to 0, and you always have a minimum of 10. However, you can collect up to 30, and if you never lose baby Mario, you get the honor of finishing the level with 30 stars.

These collectibles encourage replay value, as some would want to finish a level with a perfect score. Or course, you can ignore them if you want, but they are needed to unlock the bonus stages.

Collect-a-thon: +3
Mario Crying Sound: -2
Replay Value: +2

"Timing is all, and aim true, measure the angle, and win do"

The two central mechanics of Yoshi's Island is the Yoshi flutter, and the egg throwing. Immediately, the flutter changes the way you move around the game. By holding the jump button, Yoshi is able to slow down his decent, as well as gain some air. If you have the room, you can flutter infinitely, but you will always keep going descending despite Yoshi's best efforts.

As for the egg throwing, it is Yoshi's method of attack. By swallowing enemies, Yoshi can turn them to eggs that he (she!) can launch at will. These eggs ricochet of surface, which means that you can angle a shot and use eggs like you would a billiard ball.

The game manages to use these two mechanics extremely well. By hiding collectibles, and by world design, the player must use the flutter jump well, and throw eggs in an inventive way.

What makes it fresh for the entire game is not only the solid mechanical design, but also the varied levels. For instance, one level introduces chomp rocks, which are round objects that you can push around to stomp enemies. Then another level tasks you with moving one chomp rock through most of the level, which suddenly introduces a puzzle element to the game, since there are many obstacle in your path.

Without much exaggeration, I can say that each level felt unique. Whether you are suddenly skating down a snowy slope, or running around a mini-metroidvania level, there is always something new and interesting going on.

In addition to the regular platforming, there are some powerups that allow Yoshi or Mario to do different things. For instance, there are a number of transformations for Yoshi, which shake up gameplay a bit. However, the star of the show (wait for the pun) is reserved for Mario in the form of a super star (now you got it). This star transforms baby Mario into super baby Mario, and it adds a little adrenaline rush to the game. Its overpowered, which is what makes it cool.

Varied Levels: +7
Solid Unique Mechanics: +3
Cool Powerups: +2

"What kind of Gween donkey is dat?"

For its entire history, Nintendo has always loved experimenting with their visual design. Super Mario World was very different from Super Mario Bros. 3, and they have not revisited that style since. Also on the SNES, we got the modern looking Donkey Kong Country, the polygonal nightmare that was Starfox, and 3D isometric hybrid in Super Mario RPG.

Perhaps to evoke  the childhood o baby Mario, Nintendo used a crayon look for Yoshi's Island. Besides everything looking like it was colored in crayon, the color actually moved as if it was being colored a the spot.

It creates a timeless, unique look for the game, which coupled with the great character and enemy design, as well as great animation, makes one of the best looking game on the system. By being visually inventive, and with great variety, the game always looks pretty and interesting.

Take the bosses for example. Not only are they large and menacing, they also move with a deliberate comic motion. All over, you get shy guys doing a little dance with their spears, or the annoying monkey enemies, well, monkeying around.

However, the music is not as varied as the graphics. Unlike the annoying soundtrack of Yoshi's New Island or Yoshi Story, this soundtrack is great. In fact, the underground music is one of Koji Kondo's best tracks in my opinion. All over, the music selection is great, but is limited.

I think there are less than 18 tracks in the game, which means the music repeats a lot. Thankfully is is very good music unlike the future Yoshi games.

Graphical Style: +4
Animation: +3
Music: +4
Limited Tracks: -3

In Conclusion:

Yoshi's Island is by far one of the best platformers of all time, and I am saying that with the accumulated knowledge about platformers since it war first released, until now. This is a game that consistently manages to bring something new to the table every level. So much, that I will need to double my word count to even come close of explaining everything the game does.

Whether you want to relax and collect things at your own pace, or you want to rush and beat the game with speed. This is a mechanically sound game, that will continue to surprise and delight every time you play it.

Oh, and I didn't mention that Yoshi also takes psychedelic drugs during this adventure. Who would give parenting rights to this "Gween donkey".

Final: 48/50

"Tips"
1- Always keep some eggs ready for use.
2- To unlock the secret level, you need to get a 100 score in every level.
3- If you are having trouble having full stars at the end, consider saving the +stars items until the end.
4- Be curious and search everywhere for that last collectible.
5- Don't underestimate the flutter jump, you jump past vast distances with clever use.

"Next Game"

This is it, I am going to play the final game next. Yoshi's Island was a great preparation for the grand finale, but now, after nearly 4 years, I am finally going to close this series for good. And what better way to end it than by playing the highest rated SNES game by most outlets.

Of course, I am talking about The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, which is #1 in the IGN list. Even though I am a Zelda fan, I did not actually play this game before, and here I am, more than 20 years after its release, I am going to play and review it.

It has been a great ride, and I am looking forward to finally ending it before the year is out. Hopefully.

Stay Tuned
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Post by Guest on Mon Dec 14, 2015 1:51 am

@Lord Spencer wrote:
Betty La Fea wrote:I remember, as a kid, being very disappointed in Super Mario RPG.

They gave you characters like Mallow and Geno, while not allowing you to use characters you knew and loved like Luigi or even Toad. Over dramatic one dimensional story which would come to represent the Square(Enix lol) of today. Even more disappointing was playing that, and then that fall playing Mario 64 and everything being retconned like it never happened. Bowser, despite all that had just happened, was magically evil again and they were enemies like none of the story ever happened. As a kid I never understood that, and it left a sour taste in my mouth(also the fact that the N64 was a steaming pile of garbage didnt help either).


I am sure you are enjoying Yoshi's Island though. That was by far the best Mario game on the Super Nintendo, and the true successor to the Super Mario world game that set the standard for the system.


I really enjoyed Yoshi's Island.

BTW, I can see how someone would be dissapointed at SMBRPG, but I though it was widely acclaimed?

Also, I strongly disagree about the N64 being a "steaming pile of shit". But I guess I won't be proving otherwise until I start my N64 review series.


I am glad you enjoyed Yoshis Island. I think it remains my favorite Super Nintendo game.

Super Mario RPG was loved from what I remember too, but a lot has to do with the time. I think EVERY Super Mario game was rated highly back then. It really becomes a case of its reputation preceding it at this point.

As a kid I had to make a choice between the Nintendo 64, and the playstation. Due to loving the super nintendo so much I chose the N64, and my uncle and aunt picked the playstation. Was literally one of the worst mistakes I made as a kid. The n64 was absolutely horrific compared to the games they got.

I was playing paper boy and superman 64 while they were getting castlevania and metal gear solid. I remember at one point they got this game called rival schools and I literally went home and tried to throw my N64 away Laughing

Will be interested in seeing what you make of legend of Zelda. Thats the one big snes game I never played.

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Post by Lord Spencer on Sat Dec 19, 2015 9:59 pm

Betty La Fea wrote:
@Lord Spencer wrote:
Betty La Fea wrote:I remember, as a kid, being very disappointed in Super Mario RPG.

They gave you characters like Mallow and Geno, while not allowing you to use characters you knew and loved like Luigi or even Toad. Over dramatic one dimensional story which would come to represent the Square(Enix lol) of today. Even more disappointing was playing that, and then that fall playing Mario 64 and everything being retconned like it never happened. Bowser, despite all that had just happened, was magically evil again and they were enemies like none of the story ever happened. As a kid I never understood that, and it left a sour taste in my mouth(also the fact that the N64 was a steaming pile of garbage didnt help either).


I am sure you are enjoying Yoshi's Island though. That was by far the best Mario game on the Super Nintendo, and the true successor to the Super Mario world game that set the standard for the system.


I really enjoyed Yoshi's Island.

BTW, I can see how someone would be dissapointed at SMBRPG, but I though it was widely acclaimed?

Also, I strongly disagree about the N64 being a "steaming pile of shit". But I guess I won't be proving otherwise until I start my N64 review series.


I am glad you enjoyed Yoshis Island. I think it remains my favorite Super Nintendo game.

Super Mario RPG was loved from what I remember too, but a lot has to do with the time. I think EVERY Super Mario game was rated highly back then. It really becomes a case of its reputation preceding it at this point.

As a kid I had to make a choice between the Nintendo 64, and the playstation. Due to loving the super nintendo so much I chose the N64, and my uncle and aunt picked the playstation. Was literally one of the worst mistakes I made as a kid. The n64 was absolutely horrific compared to the games they got.

I was playing paper boy and superman 64 while they were getting castlevania and metal gear solid. I remember at one point they got this game called rival schools and I literally went home and tried to throw my N64 away Laughing

Will be interested in seeing what you make of legend of Zelda. Thats the one big snes game I never played.


I think SMRPG is still loved today, years after its release. IMO, that speaks to its quality. For me, I really have no horse in the race, and I liked it very much.

As for N64, it had fewer games than the PS, but its greatest games could rival the PS's greatest games. In the ME, the PS won by a large margin simply because all of its games were pirated (which IMO lay the foundation for Sony to dominate in the 3rd world).
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Post by Lord Spencer on Sun Dec 20, 2015 6:26 am

#1

Game: The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past.
Year: 1992.
Genre: Action Adventure.
Publisher: Nintendo.
Developer: Nintendo.

The Official SNES Gaming Thread - Page 5 Legend-of-zelda-a-link-to-the-past-snes-cover-front-73914

First things first, I am changing my rating system to better rate different genres according to their own rules. It will still be from 50 quality points, but every title will start from 25 and earn/lose points according to criteria important to the titles and genres themselves.

I am actually very late fan of The Legend of Zelda series. My first game in the franchise was Twilight Princess, and I only played it in 2009. Since then, I became a fan of the series, and started playing some of the games I missed. Key among those games is A Link to the Past, a game heralded as a masterpiece not only by fans of the series, but fans of the SNES in general.

Needless to say, that set up very high expectations for the game, expectations that could never be met.

Still, a great game manages to showcase its greatness no matter how closely you inspect it, and in that regard, ALttP certainly manages to do so.

"The seal should have remained for all time..."

Except, it didn't, which is why we have a game here. Immediately, from the start of the game, you are given control over Link in a rainy and stormy night. As Link, you hear a voice bidding you to go save Zelda in the nearby castle. Perhaps a bit unique, you save the princess in the opening hour of the game.

Afterwards, you learn that the Wizard, Agahnim kidnapped 6 maidens, who have a role in keeping an ancient seal from breaking. However, Link isn't able to do anything until he gets the Master sword, which means he needs to get 3 pendants to be able to hold. Then, he must save the 6 maidens, as well as Zelda who gets kidnapped again (sorry for the "spoiler").

Basically, the story is only a matter of linking getting stuff, to be able to get more stuff. In that regard, it is simply an excuse to go conquer some dungeons. Little, if any, characters have anything interesting to say, and the entire plot is simple.

Interestingly, you see strong evidence of the weird characterization Nintendo is going to heavily use in the future LoZ titles. While non of the NPCs are as unique and interesting as later titles, the future direction of the series is hinted at as far as the ending credits.

Basic Story: -2
Uninteresting Characters: -3

"Only the Hero who has won the three pendants can wield the Master Sword"

I wonder why we need a story excuse to play the game, when we can simply play it for its own merits as a game. Merits that are completely deserved for ALttP. Simply, this game is a natural expedited evolution of the first Legend of Zelda, with everything great in the game magnified in degrees.

Given control of Link, you are simply invited to traverse the world of Hyrule, spelunking into dungeons as you see fit, and going from place to place in any order you want. While there are certain obstacle to your progress, most are natural obstacles (enemies being stronger than you) rather than invisible walls or progression checkpoints.

Every-time you progress, you feel like you gained a tool that helps you in traversing the world. Whether it is the hookshot that allow you to zip through gaps, or the Zora flippers that allow you to swim.

True, not all dungeon can be accessed at the same time, but you can often finish dungeons in different order. More importantly, it is the sense of freedom cultivated through the world's design that keeps you always moving.

Yet, you also continue to move because there is always something to reward with. When you go out of your way to explore the town, or discover hidden caves, you are often rewarded with Heart Peaces. In dungeons, you are always given new item to play around with. These items expand the game world, and increase your options.

Once you gain the ability to jump between the Dark and Light world, suddenly the game feel like it doubled in size, and yet, moving from place to place still is fast and fulfilling.

Great Exploration: +5
Vast Overworld: +3
A Lot of Secrets: +2

"May the way of the Hero lead to the Triforce"

Outside of the overworld, or I should say inside of it, are the many dungeons that you will need to finish to beat the game. Initially, I was left disappointed by the first three dungeons. They were short and easy, and the bosses were lacking in both gameplay and design.

However, that turned out to be only the opening sequence of the game, a practice to the much more involved dungeons in the dark world. In those dungeons, all the gameplay elements of the game click.

Each dungeon has its own unique feeling to it, each demanding smart use of your tools to solve puzzles and advance, or to combat your enemies. Using its top-down perspective, the game sometimes throws enemies at you from every direction, demanding some close action control and a thrilling dance of dodging and attacking. When it works, and that is often, you feel just at the edge of success as you narrowly avoid laser beams and fire-blasts.

Highlighting the blend of puzzle and action are the bosses, which the later ones demand a mixture of both. To its credit, the game manages to convey most of the information needed with minimal tutorials. This leaves the player to experiment against the dungeon, but also forces him to experiment against the bosses in what is a more tense situation.

Excellent Dungeons: +5
A Lot of Tools: +2
Great Bosses: +3

"Do you have something to say to me, silly rabbit?!"

Even though it is in the early SNES phase, ALttP still manages to be one of the console's best looking titles, and a lot of it is due to the excellent art direction and animations. Since Link interacts with most of the world, it didn't only need to look good, but also had to animate with him as well.

Simply, shrubs can be cut by his sword, trees shake when he bumps into them, and many element of the game interact with the player's many tools. This was enhanced by the game's bright and colorful artsyle that clearly diffrentiated between each element, as well as made clear the divisons of the world itself. For instance, the Light and Dark world are both excellently designs, with one using warmer colors against the cooler colors of the other.

Similarly, the many sprites involved are all designed to give them unique looks, while animated for the action oriented gameplay. Compared to other games that use the same perspective, ALttP is nearly in a league of its own.

However, there is an unfortunate lack of variety in core areas. Mainly in the dungeon textures, which can be ignored, but mostly in the game's music.

Of course, the soundtrack is great, and almost all the tracks are memorable. Yet, there are very few of them, which leads to a serious repetition of the same exact, excellent tracks. The LoZ theme might be one of the gaming history's best tunes, but it shouldn't play for 30% of the game's time.

It speaks to the quality of the soundtrack though, that I don't feel as bad about its small number of tracks as I usually would. In quality, it is one of the SNES's best, but it seriously loses in quantity.

Graphical Style: +4
Animation: +3
Great Music: +3
Limited Tracks: -3

In Conclusion:

After finishing the game, I don't think ALttP is the best game in the series, nor do I think it is the best game on the SNES. Yet, it certainly is in contention in both categories.

Despite the limitations of the time, this is a game about exploration that manages to grab your attention from start to finish through the sheer quality of its gameplay, and through a consistent feed of new gadgets and rewards.

It is through mastering pacing, that ALttP manages to be a game that would invite players to play it time and time again, and every time they do, they are going to have a brief link to their happier past.

Final: 47/50

"Tips"
1- Its dangerous to go alone, keep your bottles stocked with Fairies.
2- Hey Link, if you are lost try asking a fortune teller.
3- There is a 99% chance that you are going to hit Y to check the map.
4- Use ranged attacks often.

"Next Game"

Done.

After 4 years, I finally finished this review series, which I had no idea would take this long. As I often did, I disagree about LoZ placing first in IGN's list (although it is a clear top 10), but I had fun with it.

Coming next is going to be a review of the SNES itself, and a my Top 10 games for the system. Later, I am going to review the top 100 Sega Genesis games (currently going to review 41 games actually).

Stay Tuned
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Post by RealGunner on Sun Dec 20, 2015 6:36 am

Are you going to review 3DS games?
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Post by Lord Spencer on Sun Dec 20, 2015 6:49 am

@RealGunner wrote:Are you going to review 3DS games?


3DS games already have tons of reviews, and is not a legacy console. Note that I am currently reviewing DS games though.

Also, I am going to play 3DS games regardless.

These review marathons are an excuse to go back to older console and play games I would have otherwise never played. The review portion is to keep practicing my English writing.

If you want my opinion on the 3DS games I played, I am happy to oblige Smile
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Post by RealGunner on Sun Dec 20, 2015 11:11 am

Just wanted opinion on some of the games I am thinking of getting for 3DS. I'll just post my list and see what you think of them

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Post by Great Leader Sprucenuce on Sun Dec 20, 2015 11:15 am

Link to the Past is an amazing game, reading that review has made me get hyped for the new Zelda. Whenever they decide to release it Laughing

Even the worst ones in the series are always great games imo.
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Post by RealGunner on Sun Dec 20, 2015 11:20 am

probably japan 2016, rest of the world in 2020

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Post by Great Leader Sprucenuce on Sun Dec 20, 2015 11:22 am

Nintendo are not Square Enix brah.
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Post by Guest on Thu Dec 24, 2015 4:29 am

@Lord Spencer wrote:
Betty La Fea wrote:
@Lord Spencer wrote:

I really enjoyed Yoshi's Island.

BTW, I can see how someone would be dissapointed at SMBRPG, but I though it was widely acclaimed?

Also, I strongly disagree about the N64 being a "steaming pile of shit". But I guess I won't be proving otherwise until I start my N64 review series.


I am glad you enjoyed Yoshis Island. I think it remains my favorite Super Nintendo game.

Super Mario RPG was loved from what I remember too, but a lot has to do with the time. I think EVERY Super Mario game was rated highly back then. It really becomes a case of its reputation preceding it at this point.

As a kid I had to make a choice between the Nintendo 64, and the playstation. Due to loving the super nintendo so much I chose the N64, and my uncle and aunt picked the playstation. Was literally one of the worst mistakes I made as a kid. The n64 was absolutely horrific compared to the games they got.

I was playing paper boy and superman 64 while they were getting castlevania and metal gear solid. I remember at one point they got this game called rival schools and I literally went home and tried to throw my N64 away Laughing

Will be interested in seeing what you make of legend of Zelda. Thats the one big snes game I never played.


I think SMRPG is still loved today, years after its release. IMO, that speaks to its quality. For me, I really have no horse in the race, and I liked it very much.

As for N64, it had fewer games than the PS, but its greatest games could rival the PS's greatest games. In the ME, the PS won by a large margin simply because all of its games were pirated (which IMO lay the foundation for Sony to dominate in the 3rd world).


I am very curious to see an N64 thread now. I definitely didnt felt like I got the short end of the stick as a kid, but I did have a few games on it I enjoyed(Mostly goldeneye and Mario 64). Some were scary bad though. I had Catlevania, and it was probably one of the worst things I ever finished. Laughing

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Post by Lord Spencer on Thu Dec 24, 2015 5:39 am

Among many gamers in this site, as well as gamers in general, the SNES represents gaming’s golden age. Its games regularly feature in the greatest of all time discussions, and the console itself some claim to be to the greatest as well. For me, the SNES would always be the special console of my childhood, and that Nostalgia effect will always be strong with me.

However, I wanted to form an unbiased opinion on the console, I wanted to review it based on its own merits far removed from nostalgia. As with any console, this meant I needed to review its games, and be honest about them, even applying them to modern sensibilities as well.

Which is why I started my SNES Reviews blogs, a series in which I reviewed the top 100 SNES games as chosen by IGN. After completing the list, I feel that I am equipped to fully review the SNES.

In this review, I am going to focus on the both the console’s biggest strengths and weaknesses. Then, I will pick the top three game genres, as well as the top three publishers as well.

Console’s Biggest Strengths:

Variety:

If you just take a cursory glance through that IGN list, you will notice a huge variety in games. Not only in genres, but also regarding publishers and styles as well. Clearly, Nintendo has the highest count in that list, but they only account for a fifth of the games, with many other publishers contributing as well.

For players of all tastes, the SNES’s library will manage to somehow satisfy them.

2D Graphics:

Unlike the early 3D polygonal games of the PS1/N64 era, the 16 bit 2D graphics of the SNES era aged very gracefully. In fact, the style now is finding newfound resurgence in the Indie scene, and that is because it still is capable of high beauty.

Carrying on with the theme of variety, we also get a variety of 2D styles, with each publisher having their unique visual flair. For example, not one Nintendo platformer used the same style once. With great difference between the early 3D rendering of Donkey Kong Country, and the crayon styling of Yoshi’s Island.

Music:

Graduating for the limited chip-tunes of the 8-bit era, the 16 bit SNES was capable of much more than the NES in terms of sound capabilities. However, music was still constrained in terms of range and the quality of the sound itself. Hence, composers had to focus on the melody itself, which paid dividends in terms of creating iconic music.

This is the generation where legends such as Nobue Uematsu, Koji Kondo, and Yoko Shimumura created a lot of their best work. In fact, I think music from the SNES has been remixed the most, and celebrated more than anything else.

Of course, music in the SNES era had a lot of responsibility. In RPGs, it needed to provide the emotional backdrop to the story. In action games, the music needed to be interesting to pump you back into action every time. It was the 3rd dimension in the 2D era.

Console’s Biggest Weaknesses:

Memory:


The console’s biggest weakness is without a doubt the limited memory, which is a constraint every generation deals with. However, later generations managed to circumvent it, whether it is the multiple CDs of the PS1, or the installations in the PS360 era.

In the SNES, memory constraints were responsible for limitations in graphics, resolution, size, and a lot of other different elements. Take Final Fantasy 6 for example: reportedly, Squaresoft stuffed all they can in the cartridge, but were forced to leave stuff that they planned.

Narrative and Translation:


I cannot judge the narration of games based on its original Japanese text (which most games in the SNES are), but based on the translation, which is significantly hampered by memory constraints. Since the game’s text is built for Japanes characters which can say more in a given text box than can be said in Latin alphabet, the original narrative might be something better.

However, the translated narrative of many games is simply sub-par. With the exception of the fun narrative of the Squaresoft games, I found the stories in most SNES games to be lacking in depth, character complexities, and everything else we associate with good storytelling.

Short Games:

Not all games in the SNES abandoned the coin dominated Arcade mentality. In fact, a significant portion of gems feel like they depend on artificial difficulty, lack of checkpoints, and lack of saving to pad out really short games.

Some games like Mega Man X and Castlevania are so good, they are replayable by design. However, a lot of games are short in content, and do not offer the stellar experience to make you want to go through them again.

Top Three Genres:

As I said above, there were a lot of genres represented in the SNES. From 2D shooters, to top-down shmups. Games of every genre were made, yet these three genres stood out by far.

Platformers:

When you remember the days of the SNES, you remember the golden age of Platformers. From basic Platformers such as Super Mario World, to Action-Platformers such as Mega Man X. The Platforming genre made the best out of the SNES’s strengths, with stellar graphics, and excellent sound.

In their essence, Platformers are the most basic game type. They all follow similar side-scrolling rule (with a few flipping the scrolling side for an additional twist), and they all use the 2D plane.

However, this constraint was challenged by different publishers, which is why we got a huge variety of 2D Platformers that included many of the best games of the Genre even today.

RPGs:

Since Platfromers are the most basic type of games, and they lack a narrative punch, RPGs aimed to fill in the more complex void. Companies such as Squaresoft wanted to expand the gaming population by expanding what was the most hardcore genre then,

While previous generations had their RPGs, the SNES RPGs were in an entirely different level. Even though they lacked the narrative we come to expect from games today, they were far beyond anything else in the scene, and the music was frankly enough to provide all the needed emotional cues.

Fighting:

While the Arcade influence hurt some game’s design, the Arcade was without a doubt the scene for fighting games. However, the SNES managed to imitate that scene quite well in the console space.

Obviously, the Arcade was still the “it” scene for fighters, but there were many great fighting games on the SNES as well. From the excellent Street Fighter 2, to the blood-less Mortal Kombat. The success of Fighting games on the SNES was a predictor for the death of Arcades in the US, as their most dominate genre managed to find acceptance in the console space.

Top Three Publishers:

In the IGN list, there were at least 30 Unique publishers, but these three were the ones that were clearly dominating. Two developers that narrowly missed, but deserve an honorable mention are Enix, and Konami.

Nintendo:


Spoiler alert; in every Nintendo released platform, Nintendo will undoubtedly be the top publisher in that system. With both quantity titles, and quality titles, Nintendo manages to make great games.
Yet, Nintendo, despite common opinion, do not simply rest on their successes. In fact, they change genres, styles, and gaming ideas more than any other company on the SNES.

From Nintendo alone, you can fill a decent top 20 list that would do justice to the SNES by itself.

Squaresoft:

This was the beginning of the Squaresoft golden age, and every game they touched was pure critical gold. While they don’t have as many titles as other major publishers, Squaresoft focused on getting quality RPGs on the hands of players.

In fact, the RPG genre is synced with Squaresoft’s name, so much that Nintendo asked for their help in making a Super Mario RPG.

Capcom:

Capcom’s excellence can be attributed to their understanding of the console’s strengths. With a major title in each top genre, Capcom provided something good for every kind of player.

However, Capcom’s greatest success story in the SNES must be Street Fighter II. Even though the console space was not the best for fighters, it can be said that Capcom is the most responsible for digging a huge niche for it to flourish in the coming generations.

In Conclusion:

The SNES will always have a special place in my heart, memories of my first gaming days are intertwined with memories of the gray console itself. To this day, I remember the precautions I and my cousins ha in place to protect the fat Power cube from falling down and breaking up.

Today, its greatest games still hold up really well, and are fun to play. It had a lot of variety, and its games aged really well because they relied on solid mechanics and graphics.

While it had its flaws, the SNES truly is a great console with a lot of great games.
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