Tag: 150 SNES Games Review

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.

150 SNES games reviewed: #4 The Duel: Test Drive II


New day, new game, I figured I would do something I haven’t done so far; I would review a driving game. I picked the game via a simple method; it was the first driving game I pulled out of my box of SNES carts.

The Duel: Test Drive II is a racing game developed by Distinctive Software and published by Accolade, a name I am sure most of you have heard of. It came out between 1989 and 1992 on the Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Apple IIGS, Apple Macintosh, Atari ST, Commodore 64, MS-DOS, MSX, SNES, Sega Mega Drive and ZX Spectrum. So just about everything you can think of at the time but I will be focusing on my experiences of the SNES version (which came out in 1992).

The presentation on the game strikes me as a little bare bones. There is very little to choose from and very little you can alter. It gives you the impression this is very shallow for a game people were paying £40 for back in the day. You start the game and you are given a choice of three cars. They are basically extremely popular sports cars from back in the day – a Lamborghini, a Porsche and a Ferrari (I can’t remember the exact models). Your choice of difficulty determines whether the car will use automatic or manual transmission. You get to choose one of four courses to race on, each labeled with an indicator of its level of challenge. You then either pick one of the games three cars to race against or you pick a stopwatch to merely treat it like a time trial.

You control the car from an internal view, so you can see all of the dashboard and it is different depending on the car you pick. Once you start the game you race along a highway stopping for petrol when a big stop indicator tells you to. If you don’t stop for petrol you will run out of gas and lose a life, and if you hit another car you will also lose a life. Each level also has one or more police cars along the course who I assume try to either crash in to you or arrest you causing you to lose a life. I am not sure because in all honesty I was never caught by them, I  didn’t even seem to see them. If you’re going above the speed limit at a set point on the road then you will hear a siren, but every time this happened I just kept my finger on the gas until the noise disappeared.

I am going to cut straight to the chase with this game If I had been reviewing it back in 1992 then it might have scored better, but as it stands I think I need to give the game a three out of 10. Some people hold the SNES up as a golden era when everything was great, and in some genre’s this might be the case, but I don’t think semi-realistic racing simulations was one of them.

Don’t get me wrong, it is not awful to play – it looks decent enough and it controls well enough – but it commits a huge cardinal sin of gaming with the simple fact that it is just boring. There is no music, the graphics are functional and the choices of cars and tracks are just too limited for me to recommend it.

The game feels a bit more like some kind of tech demo. It feels like there are things there which you would want to see in a full game but the ideas just haven’t been pushed far enough. If I had paid full price for this on release I think I would have soon found myself very bored of it, especially if it was the case that I had the money to grab this game and then had to wait and save again for my next game. I guess that this was probably better if you were an Amiga, Atari ST, or other home computer user as it was a whole lot less cash on release on those formats. I am starting to think that the SNES is at its best when getting games designed specifically for it instead of various ports.

As for the price you might pay for this now, copies seem to be quiet thin on the ground. There is currently a boxed UK copy on Amazon at the time writing for £15, and I can’t see any others elsewhere to compare it with. I can’t remember what I paid for mine, it’s an NTSC cartridge only and I have had it since my childhood. I can’t really recommend anyone spend more than £5 on this game I am afraid. There are many better games out there both retro and modern especially in the racing category.

150 SNES games reviewed: #3 The Combatribes

The Combatribes started off as an arcade game which came out in 1990. It was a beat ’em Up of the walk along variety released by Technos Japan.

A lot of you might not have heard of The Combatribes, but most of you are far more likely to have heard of Renegade and Double Dragon. Technos made a game called Nekketsu Kōha Kunio-kun which Taito converted into the game we know as Renegade (basically by removing the Japanese related stuff and changing the theme of the game to one they thought would do better over here) Technos also made Double Dragon but again Taito distributed it over here.

The Combatribes has a lot in common with these games, but you get the feeling that Technos had looked at some of its competitors and picked up a trick or two from them. When I first came across the arcade machine in a local pizza parlor I had no idea that it was in any way connected to the above games, what struck me was that it was in a nice big cab and it had three joysticks each one was for a different character. This is where it started to remind me of the likes of Final Fight a little bit.

You had the blue player Berserker, a blond-haired man in a blue outfit, he is very much your Mr Average, he has an even split between speed and strength, so in Final Fight terms I guess he is the Cody of the piece. Then there was Bullova, a black man in a yellow outfit who is all about strength but is also very slow. The third and final member of the team is Blitz, a long-haired man in a red outfit, who is weak but very fast. He is one of those characters who you’re supposed to get the first hit with and just keep peppering away at your enemy so quickly they don’t have the time to strike back.

I suppose this leaves me with two questions to address, one being now I have given you a little history how does the SNES game compare to the arcade machine, with the other being which is better, Final Fight or The Combatribes?

The SNES version of The Combatribes made a few changes to the game.  Some of them can be seen as attempts to add to the game, some can be seen as ways of getting around some of the machine’s limitations and then there are the usual Nintendo reasons.

The SNES version features story sequences before and after boss battles, as well as an opening intro explaining the plot. It also has a different ending. I think all of this is just basically an added layer of polish it’s nice but it’s not the important bit.

The gameplay itself remains more or less the same, In the arcade version the characters’ health was represented by a bunch of numbers. Here it is represented by the standard life bar method. In the SNES version, the stages are also simpler, there are also enemies missing and the final boss is different.  None of this is really going to matter though unless you’re a big fan of the arcade machine and played it enough to know every little piece of it.

A one-on-one versus mode has been added to the game in it you can perform standard one-on-one beat ’em up moves (Street Fighter II type-stuff fireballs and and the like with some characters). The game’s enemies and bosses can also be used in this mode. You gain passwords by playing the regular mode which you input here to unlock them. It’s no Street Fighter, the moves are a lot clunkier, and on its own I wouldn’t really rate it, but as a bonus mode a bit of knock around fun you’d have to be a bit of a Scrooge to complain about it.

The game was ‘cleaned up’ in lots of ways from its arcade counterpart. Blood splattering effects were removed. Blood was removed from cut screens and both characters and gangs were renamed to less violent names. I am also sure one of the bosses in the arcade had some sort of racist or taboo name but what it was exactly escapes my mind.

As for comparisons to Final Fight well the graphics are very different. The characters in The Combatribes are a lot smaller, the backgrounds are colourful and there’s a lot going on. The buildings look tiny but then you get to see a lot of them and a lot of neat flashing signs. The first thing people will pick up on is that The Combatribes can be played by two players, it also has all three of its arcade characters in its SNES port unlike Final Fight which only managed two of them. Both games have their selling points and I won’t take it further than that or I will give away so much of my opinion on Final Fight that my upcoming review of that will be pointless.

The control scheme of The Combatribes is simple, which means you can pick it up and play it in seconds, as far as beat ’em ups go though there is not a massive selection of moves. It also has a few issues with the fact some of the bosses can be a little bit unfairly difficult. It often seems like they can move faster than you and to put it simply at times they are incredibly cheap. So this game can be fun if you like this sort of game but it can also occasionally make you want to scream a little bit now and again.

Visually The Combatribes is a little bit mixed. I think the characters themselves look pretty darn good and are animated pretty well. The backgrounds are also quiet bright but a bit repetitive. The presentation is not too bad with nice little cut scenes.

So what about the game’s sound? Well the music in the game is pretty darn catchy and I think you could definitely claim it has its own original sound. The sound effects are also very well done.

Whether you like The Combatribes or not will depend on what kind of games you like. If you don’t like walk along beat ’em ups, well The Combatribes is not going to change your mind. If you love them then you will most likely eat this up. If you can forgive a game a few flaws and want to smash heads with a buddy then this game gets a reasonably hearty recommendation. There are far better walk along beat em ups on the system but there are also a heck of a lot worse games. I wouldn’t recommend this as the first and most important beat ’em up to grab but if you’re looking for one you haven’t tried before and you can find this then I would give it a bash.

I would score it six out of 10. If my memory is correct reviewers back in the day were a lot harsher some scored it as low as 30%. I think the highest I remember seeing it get was 65%. Maybe my opinion of it is a little more positive than others because playing it takes me back to a time in my life when I would go to the local one screen cinema, watch a film and then head to the takeaway pizza joint after to enjoy virtually kicking thugs in the head while a man made me and my buddies a takeaway pepperoni pizza – but that is one of the best things about retro games is it not? They all come from a time in the past and have all sorts of stories and histories connected to them.

From a little bit of research it looks like you would be lucky to get a cart of it for about £15. It never came out in Europe to my knowledge so you’d have to either get an US or Japanese copy, again meaning that you would need an import or modified machine or to have an import converter.

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