Author: kerr9000

150 SNES games reviewed #28: Ryan Giggs Champions World Class Soccer

Ryan Giggs Champions World Class Soccer was the game I played a little last night as well as early this morning. It is obviously a football (soccer) game and it was released on the SNES as well as the Mega Drive. It was developed by Park Place Productions and published by Acclaim.

You might not have heard of Park Place Productions largely because they were a bit of a bright light that burnt out very quickly. They were founded in 1989 and in 1993 they had become the largest independent developer of computer games. They had  130 developers making 45 games for 14 different publishers. At the end of December 1993 the company collapsed spectacularly. Basically they didn’t hit some targets they had been set by publishers and as a result of this they were denied payments, pulled out of contracts and literally left Park Place Productions up the creek without a paddle.

The first thing to note is that the whole Ryan Giggs thing is a bit of a con. The UK release featured a picture of the player on the game box and the cartridge label but any real connection to the guy or inclusion of his name ends there. The German version featured a player famous to them Sepp Maier, and the French featured a team likely to interest them, Paris Saint-Germain. None of the three have anything to do with the game beyond the box art and cartridge label though so from now on sod Giggs I will be referring to this as Champions World Class Soccer (or CWC Soccer if I get lazy).

Modes of play included in the game are the standard type, exhibition match and tournament mode. There are the obvious options to turn certain things off and mess with how long the matches last etc but nothing out of the ordinary.

The game’s presentation is pretty decent. There is a TV announcer talking about the match before it starts – talking as in text along the bottom of the screen, but the text is pretty cool. It mentions which team you are and what is good or bad about you. For example I got something on the lines of the following for my first match: “England have always been good at defence but there shooting record is a little unpredictable”. The in game graphics are pretty much the bog standard average football game graphics from this point in time so I don’t have a lot to say about them, they don’t make or break the game.

I like the fact that there is a big blue star around the character you are in control of. It is very easy to know who you are and then there is a button which seems to exist just to help you do little tricks either dribbling the ball around your feet, turning backwards for a second or shooting forward quickly – well, quickly for this game. Unfortunately this is the point at which my review has to get a little bit sour I am afraid that personally I feel that the gameplay is bad. The game is slow, both passing and shooting are hard and frustrating to the point you’ll soon find yourself turning the air blue. Sometimes it takes a few seconds for your character to become properly attached to the ball like you do in most football games. You will have ran on to the ball and it just wont end up under your control so you’ll be running backwards and forwards hoping it attaches to you and then a computer controlled player will just run straight up and claim it with no problem or pause in proceedings.

In my opinion this game is the worst SNES football game I have played so far. I like the TV start, I like the fact it makes it obvious who you are but I don’t really like the controls or the gameplay. It also didn’t give me my any of my demands such as great goal scoring animations or a voice shouting “Goal!”. I would give this game four out of 10 . It’s not unplayable but there are much better games out there for your cash. If you decide that you simply need this game to live the good point is it will cost you only £4 or £5 to buy it online and get it posted to you.

150 SNES games reviewed #27: Top Gear

 

Top Gear (or as our friends in Japan would know it, Top Racer) is a racing game for the SNES. It was developed by Gremlin Graphics and published by Kemco.

It was one of the first racing games to be released on the SNES, so when it came out it was immediately popular. Everyone I knew back then seemed to have either this or Exhaust Heat with the lucky and truly dedicated having both. Top Gear and its two sequels – Top Gear 2 and Top Gear 3000 – were created by the same developers as the famous Lotus series of games which had been released earlier on the Amiga and the Mega Drive. It is important to note before anyone gets too excited this game has no connection to the TV show with the same name.

The good points are that the game feels very fast. I hadn’t played it for a fair few years and when I started playing it this morning I was very surprised at how fast it felt. It is also very bumpy in a way which is kind of hard to explain, but it is worth noting because I remember back in the day a few people I knew couldn’t play it because when it was in motion it made them feel sick. I love it as it actually helps to make you feel like your in there racing. But it’s important to note before anyone goes out and pays for this game, it might be worth looking for some footage on YouTube so you can see if it affects you.

I lost my first few races which meant instead of progressing I kept seeing the starting screen again. But I soon realised I wasn’t paying proper attention to my gears. You don’t get to choose a car or buy add-ons for it, or to even mess with its handling and tires. If this is something that is important to you then your probably better off with Exhaust Heat. Once I started paying attention though I soon found I was up there fighting for pole position again and again. This is when the game began to get really fun, but just when I thought I had seen it all, when I thought I had it in the bag, that’s when things changed a little bit.

I’d noticed there were pit stops but I had never seen the need to use them, sure I had got a little bit tight on fuel at times but there was always just enough to see me fly past the flag in first. You see short races don’t  really require a pit stop and refueling, but the lengthier ones will see you come to an abrupt halt half-way around the track in one of your later laps if you’re not careful.

This adds a whole new level of strategy to proceedings as you begin to have to think about when to have a pit stop, how long to stay in the pit, sure you can see your position getting worse while you’re being filled up but you know that in the longer races if you don’t fill up then you’re going to come to a stop and lose. Whole races can be won or lost based on your judgement of when you should pull in for a pit stop or how long you can put it off.

The graphics are good for the time. The screen is always split even when you’re playing on your own. In this case there is a computer rival in charge of a car on the bottom half of the screen. I like the music in this game, it might not be technically brilliant but it is fun. It fits its purpose of pumping you up for the races brilliantly and makes a change to all those games back then which suffered from having no sounds in game apart from that farting rumbling engine sound which used to be popular.

I would give this game a good solid seven out of 10. It is a fun game but I miss having a choice in terms of what car to drive and the options to tune it up and buy upgrades. Basically this game just seems like a very big slice of arcade fun not that that’s a bad thing, but you need to keep that in mind if you’re thinking about getting this.

A lot of times when I have seen this game online its been about £8 for an import cart or about £15 for an PAL one, with a boxed copy being as high as £30. I only paid £3 for my cart. The sequel does seem to be a little cheaper and easier to get your hands on though (I will get around to reviewing that sooner or later).

150 SNES games reviewed #26: Prince of Persia

Today’s game is Prince of Persia. Prince of Persia is a fantasy platform game, originally developed by a guy called Jordan Mechner and released in 1989 for the Apple II system.

At the time the game was held in high regard. People claimed it represented a great technological leap forward in terms of the quality of animation used in video games. As with most games which do extremely well it was soon ported to just about anything that could cope with it. The SNES version was done by Arsys Software, a company set up by former Technosoft staff members. It was published by Masaya in Japan and Konami in both the US and Europe.

I was thrilled when I originally played a home computer version of this game but the thrill had faded a little bit by the time I played the SNES version. Have you ever played a game and decided that it had the basics down right but that it just lacked something? That there were the bare bones of a classic in place but that the project needed fleshing out? The graphics are plain but the movement is still impressive. For those who have played the original its important to note that the SNES version is in fact longer, consider it sort of a director’s/extended cut. Instead of the original 13 levels, this version has 20. In the original you had one hour to complete the game but this has been increased here to two hours due to the added length. It is great to see so much added to this conversion in terms of gameplay, and it helps make this game worth considering if you have already seen what it has to offer on an earlier release on a different platform.

The game offers a good, if basic, story and a good degree of challenge. You won’t be finishing this game quickly. In fact you will probably make slow, steady progress punctuated with bouts of swearing. I  praise the game for its atmosphere and challenge but there is also a lot I have to say about the things that bug me. My main gripe with the game is that at times the controls feel kind of skiddy. Now we’re not getting into awful control territory here like Ultraman but they’re just not as crisp as I would like them. Often you will need to stop running before you run off a ledge and fall to your doom. You just feel that little bit too skiddy for my liking meaning often you’ll end up turning the air blue as you plummet to your death. The game is also more or less silent and although the movements in the game look impressive there could be a lot more flavour added in to the graphics. When it comes to presentation it just seems like a very bare bones production which is a shame. I guess after having seen the Konami name on the European box I had sort of expected a Konami level of presentation. That’s the thing when you put someone else’s logo on your product by having them publish it for you. It can act as good publicity as people can be pulled in by a well known name, but it can also come as a curse as those names and logos come with a reputation you then find your product having to try to live up to.

There are other games though that came out after this title which I feel used this game as a stepping stone and in doing so managed to offer a much fuller, richer experience, and you might be better off spending your hard earned money on one of these. (I won’t name them as I plan on eventually reviewing one or two of them.) I think influences from this game can still be seen in some games today, I think there is a definite case to make that this game was an incredibly important piece of software which helped shape so many titles which followed in its wake, much in the same way as Super Mario Kart helped to birth seemingly a million character-filled go kart racing games. Prince of Perisa’s DNA can be felt in more places than I can name, tunnelling its way through action platformer after action platformer. Of course as most people are aware the Prince of Persia name has lived on well into the more recent gaming environment with an awesome trilogy of games carrying the name and some of the original DNA appearing on the PS2 , Xbox and GameCube.

I would give this game seven out of 10. It can be frustrating but it is also incredibly rewarding. Every time you play you will get a little bit further, you will solve another puzzle or you will work out where you are supposed to be going just before you die. It has a very strong just one more go quality. I do think you need to think long and hard about the kinds of games you like before purchasing this though. If you don’t mind slowly making progress and learning from your mistakes then you will benefit more from the game, if you like instantaneous rewards and a game you can very easily make quick progress in then this probably is not the game for you.

My copy of Prince of Persia is a loose Japanese cart which I managed to get for a couple of quid a few years ago. If you really wanted to give this game a go you would be looking at paying between £15 to £25 for a PAL copy, depending on how lucky you are and if this game has a box and manual or not. I have seen a few boxed US copies going for as little as £13 if you have a converter or modified or import system.

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