Category: Reviews

150 SNES games reviewed: #7 Krusty’s Super Fun House

No TV series makes it past 20 series without someone realising it has the potential to sell a lot of other stuff by association.

The Simpsons was a largely adult-humoured comedy which children seemed to become obsessed with. So it was no surprise when the Bart vs. this and that games started to pour on to the NES. It didn’t even take the programme being around long for it to begin to happen. Bart was the main Simpsons character who was focused on when it came to games, so when a Krusty the Clown game was announced it almost took me by surprise. I can’t remember who had it first, but it seemed to be one of those games that almost all of the SNES owning guys at school got hold of.

What neither I nor the rest of the guys knew back then was that Krusty’s Super Fun House originally was not a Simpsons title at all, it was a game called Rat Trap. So whatever you think of the game you cant really call it a rushed cash-in on The Simpsons’ name, as the game was completed in its original form long before The Simpsons was attached to it. Acclaim, bought the finished game and decided to make a large return on it they would make alterations and turn it into a Simpsons vehicle. This made it the first Simpsons game not to feature Bart as the central character (although he does appear in it).

Rat Trap was developed as an Amiga game, and non-Simpsons versions of the ROM/disk image can be found for those interested in that kind of thing. Whether the game ever saw any kind of limited release in its original Rat Trap form, I have no idea, maybe it was and that’s how its ROMs ended up online, or maybe it was leaked by someone close to it. What was originally intended to be an Amiga game ended up having the Simpson’s license added and then ended up being released for the Amiga, DOS, Game Boy, Game Gear, Master System. SNES and Sega Mega Drive. From a business stand point I cant say I blame them, the more machines it is on the higher sales potential it has, which is something a lot of companies seem to have forgotten nowadays while they try to court exclusivity deals and pay cheques from various system owners.

The main goal of the game is to slaughter the rats by leading them to what I can best describe as semi-automated killing machines. Back then no one saw anything wrong with the murder of cartoon rats. I can only imagine what would be said if something like this came out now – PETA would have a field day. After all they already think that in order to become raccoon Mario, Mario takes his super knife and slices his way into a live racoon pulling its guts out with his teeth, which until they put the idea in to my head I merely thought it was magic, or that he slipped on a raccoon onesie and gained new powers due to mental illness (wouldn’t you be ill if you saw bullets with talking faces and dinosaurs who could eat things twice their size?).

To get the rats into the killing machine, Krusty needs to do a bit of puzzling, lifting up blocks and putting them in the right place for example. The graphics and the way this works has a bit of a Lemmings feel to it, which is no bad thing in my opinion (I just wish it was a little more like Lemmings).

Krusty is also armed with a small supply of weapons in the form of custard pies or balls. These have no real use when it comes to the rats but there are other characters around such as snakes which will attack Krusty and he can use these to defeat them. Strangely, there are massive parts of levels the rats never even go near, and in fact they couldn’t even reach if you messed up, but you can explore these areas and kill the enemies there, for points I guess. To finish a level you need to kill all of the rats and then return to the starting door to hear a little jingle and then move on to the next one. Sometimes the level will be made so you can’t just go back and you need to go forward and then around to get back, beating the enemies in your way to get there.

The graphics are bright and functional, if not amazing. The Krusty sprite looks good but the fact he is constantly smiling seems a little strange given the Krusty we now know and love. I guess this game came out quite early in The Simpsons’ run so Krusty was a little more child-friendly back then, and he hadn’t been fully characterised as the alcoholic, only in it for the money scumbag we all know and love.

The game is functional and at times fun, but I really believe no one would even bother to play or look for it now if it was not for the attached Simpsons license. I score this game five out of 10. It is just plain average. So average that at times it hurts. I am sure I enjoyed this more when I was younger. I rate this game much higher as an example of good business decisions than as a game.

I paid £3 for my NTSC cart of this game not long ago, but looking online £8 seems to be about the going rate for it in either PAL or NTSC. So for once I am actually showing you a game you can get without needing either a import machine or a wad of cash.

150 SNES games reviewed: #6 The Rocketeer

So I tried to play The Rocketeer and prior to the game starting there were a few screens with drawings and words, but with my Japanese copy they were of very little help.

The game starts and what I am met with is nothing like I imagined. In my head this game was a 2D R-Type style shoot ’em up, where I flew from left to right as the rocketeer saving the day and instead here I am flying a yellow what looks like a crop dusting plane against a red and a blue plane round and round these pillars in a race.

The controls are clunky at best and things seem to favor the AI controlled planes. If I hit them it send me towards the ground. If they hit me the same thing happens, I head towards the ground. I failed to finish the race time and time again. I just can’t seem to manage the 10 laps but I push on with the hope this is just the start and if I can somehow get through this there will be the glorious treat of seeing my character strap on the rocketeer’s rocket pack and I will be flying shooting and doing something much better.

Eventually I finish the race but in second place, I am shown the same failure screen I have been met with so many times before, but I try again and again spurred on by the hope of something better – eventually. I finish first I scream to the heavens in triumph – rocket pack here I come – but no I am robbed. I am back in the plane racing again but this time I need to complete 15 laps not 10. Another hour passes, I get better at managing 10 laps, but can’t manage 15 so I am stuck. I press reset and leave the machine in the hope it will play a gameplay demo which will at least show me some future stages. I need to see something worth playing to renew my hope.

So I watch with bated breath and the first thing it shows me is what I have just been doing. I wait a little longer and there he is The Rocketeer…. and he is flying around and around racing with the same bloody planes on the same course. This is when I simply gave in, I decided the game might change, you might finish one more race and get the rocket pack and then one more and fight crime but it doesn’t matter because I will never bloody see it.

I got this game in a lot of four Japanese games for £10 and that kinda seems too expensive. I won’t claim I am the first person to say this – that honour goes to Dara Ó Briain of Mock the Week fame – but:

“Video games are the only form of media which withholds content from its users unless they are good enough at it. A book or film has never quizzed anyone or made them pass a test to be allowed to continue reading or watching.”

When I first heard him say this it didn’t quiet make sense, after all it’s the challenge that makes video games what they are, is it not? Now I have flown around this course 300 times it makes a little more sense. When I reviewed fellow movie license Hook I said how good it was that Tinkerbell just flew in sprinkled you with fairy dust and got rid of the need for levels which would have featured a boring powerless Peter Pan and by playing fast and loose like that with the source material had led to a better game. Well, this kind of treatment would have been very welcome with The Rocketeer, just skip the dull plane flying and races and slap him in the suit from stage one.

The graphics are about as basic as you can get on the SNES and I can say pretty much the same about the sound. I haven’t mentioned them until now as even if this was the best 16-bit game I had ever seen or heard it would not make up for the awful gameplay. Another thing that annoyed me is the two player mode. I foolishly thought maybe you’d race against each other but no it’s one of those you watch me play a life then I will watch you. A further annoyance is that despite the two player being of a take turns variety it still expects you to have two joy-pads. If it’s only one at a time then a pass the pad system would have been a nice little choice. Overall I have to give the game two out of 10, its that blah.

I already mentioned what I paid so how much would you have to pay if you fancy being a video game masochist? There does not appear to be a PAL version as far as I can tell but if you hit eBay you can get a Japanese cart for £5, but again you will need a foreign console, modified machine or converter and a lack of self-preservation.

I recommend you don’t bother. In fact I am going to go so far as to recommend a modern game which you can get much cheaper. A game which I think represents the idea of being a rocketeer much better than this piece of excrement, despite being its own IP.  The game I recommend is Dark Void. Sure it didn’t get brilliant reviews, but I really enjoyed it and its now super cheap I saw it in Game the other day for £2, and although its never going to be considered a classic I consider it something of a flawed gem.

150 SNES games reviewed: #5 Super Bowling

Super Bowling was made by a developer called KID and was published in Japan by Athena and in North America by Technos.

Sometimes it is unofficially called Super Turkey Bowling as the game and its cover is full of cartoon, humanised turkeys.

I have quite a history with this game basically it came into my life when I saw it in my local games shop called Games World. It was a Japanese copy and it was sat there for the low, low price of £5 for the cartridge. The main thing that drew me to it was that it was a cheap game I could grab with my pocket money. It turned out I didn’t actually have to pay for it as my brother stumped up the money and got it for me. He knew I had played a lot on a Neo Geo and arcade game called League Bowling and he was basically hoping that this would be something a little bit like that.

There are three play modes. The first is called Turkey Bowl, and is basically the main game and its straightforward bowling. Then there is golf mode which gives you a set situation with certain pins to knock down in a set number of throws (par). It’s actually a neat little attempt at something different. The last mode is practice which basically allows you to set up whichever pins you would like so you can try and train yourself for the best way to knock down the pins if certain situations arise.

The bad part is that there is no story mode, league mode, or AI characters to play against to give this any real longevity as a single player game. All you can really do is play rounds of bowling again and again to try and get better at it and to try to get a higher score. Where the game shines is in its funny cartoon presentation and in the fun you can have with it as a party game. Get four of you around this game laughing and competing and it can become just as good a stable of a multiplayer SNES party as Super BombermanNBA Jam or Street Fighter II.

The game plays not unlike a pad controlled version of Wii Sports bowling. You pick your bowler, which hand they will use, what weight of ball and then when it comes time to throw you get to control where you throw it – the power you put into it and if you want to try to put any kind of spin on it. When you score spares or strikes there are short cartoon animations of little dragons flying over your head or angels shooting devils with a bow and arrow and it really adds to the cartoonish glee of the game.

To cut to the chase, what would I score this game? Well I would give it a respectable seven out of 10. It would score higher if they had added more to the single player game but as it stands its a great piece to play with friends but maybe not that necessary now that Wii Sports and Wii Sports U are out and so easy to get hold of. But I do wish someone had used the power and abilities of the Wii to make a modern version of this game. Sure I love Wii Sports bowling but I do think there was room for something with cartoon turkeys twirling in the air, crazy tunes and fun anime style characters. I think the fact that to my knowledge no one made a crazy but good bowling game for the Wii like this is a real shame.

When I did a quick bit of research on Super Bowling, it seems you can grab the US version for about £10. If you look around hard enough and I even saw boxed copies for £15 (my version is Japanese cart only and was a gift). If you want to look for this game you need to realise that there is no PAL version so you need to buy an imported copy and then make sure that you have the means to play it. Also ideally I would say make sure you have the friends to play it with.

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