Tag: Beat ’em up

150 SNES games reviewed #33: Battletoads in Battlemaniacs

If I was to say Rare in relation to games to most people then they would probably think about the Nintendo 64 and about Banjo-Kazooie, Conker’s Bad Fur Day, Perfect Dark and Goldeneye 007.

To me though Rare are so much more than that. I can remember their NES games and I also remember even further back when it was named Ultimate Play the Game and was bringing corker after corker out on the ZX Spectrum. Atic Atac and Saber Wulf were much talked about in the playgrounds of my youth. This is  where I need to briefly stop the review and say go buy Rare Replay and play the living heck out of all of the games and then when you’re done, grab everything you can that’s missing from it.

Now it’s time to get back to business. The game I am going to talk about today is Battletoads in Battlemaniacs. It is a platforming beat ’em up game from 1993 developed by Rare and published by Tradewest. Tradewest no longer exists and Rare – well, I could write a whole article about its fate. The short of it is it is still around but now it is owned by Microsoft and has spent a lot of time making Kinect-based games and hats for Xbox Avatars. Thankfully it has recently made a real game again so here is hoping it has a brighter future ahead of it.

Battletoads in Battlemaniacs was not the start of the story though. This series began with the original beat ’em up Battletoads which was released for the NES in 1991 (this title was ported to the Mega Drive, Game Gear, Game Boy and Amiga). The Battletoads were largely created with the purpose of trying to be rivals to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and their video games. In fact at the height of Battletoads’ popularity they even managed to get a television cartoon pilot although this – unfortunately or fortunately depending on if you have seen it and what you thought of it – never got spun off into a full series. If you enjoy 80’s television cartoons I recommend you track the pilot down.

The original Battletoads was a very popular game. It was fun but brutally hard. It was a good beat ’em up with a two-player mode, but it also had sections where you rode on hover bikes and these were mercilessly hard. Worse still, if you were playing them in two-player mode and one of you crashed you both had to start that section again, which led to screaming arguments and shattered friendships.

Battletoads in Battlemaniacs follows the story of two of the Battletoads, Rash and Pimple, on a quest to stop Silas Volkmire and the evil Dark Queen from ruling over the world while rescuing a princess and their fellow toads. Many of its levels are enhanced or remixed versions of levels from the original Battletoads, so its a sort of semi-sequel, semi-remake.

The first thing you will notice is that the sprites in this game are large and the game in general is very colourful. The soundtrack is kind of basic but the music suits the game well.

This game is not just a beat ’em up, it’s a massive mix of things. Yes, you will fight but then there is also hoverboard racing platforming, and much like the original NES version, the game is enjoyable but sections of it might have you tearing your hair out. If you like hard games with a sence of humour then it might be just for you if however if you hate games with challenging pieces that you’re going to be having to try and try again then you’re going to hate Battletoads in Battlemaniacs. This makes it a very hard game to rate because its overall quality depends on the kind of person who is playing it. Therefore a score I give it might in fact be meaningless to you. I have never completed Battletoads in Battlemaniacs, but I have spent a very long time trying in the past. I see it as a challenge which keeps on bringing me back.

Personally I would give the game seven out of 10. it’s fun, there is a fair degree of variety and its a good game to play with friends – as long as they enjoy a challenge. I have to warn again that if you hate games that will see you die again and again on certain segments then this is not for you.

This game was before Rare’s partnership with Nintendo. In fact it was as far as I know the last game it released for the SNES before beginning to work on projects for Nintendo. It had invested its significant profits from games during the NES period to purchase a bunch of very expensive Silicon Graphics workstations. This move made Rare the most technologically advanced developer in the UK, and I think most of us know what this led to.

If you want to purchase Battletoads in Battlemaniacs then you’re looking at anywhere between £13 to £18 for the cart, and if you want a copy in a box in good condition then you will probably need to look at around double that range. I looked at buying it in a shop cartridge only for £18 but instead ended up buying a cart from online for £14 including postage. This is the most money I have spent on a game specifically for this series but I also feel that copies of this will become rarer in the coming years.

150 SNES games reviewed #25: Ultraman

Ultraman is a fighting game based on the TV series Ultraman: Towards the Future.

It was originally released in arcades by Banpresto and Bandai but was then ported to the SNES (it was also ported to the Mega Drive two years later, but this version only came out in Japan).

I knew before I started this game was considered to be legendarily bad. That it was one of the games to own titles such as ‘worst game ever’, ‘worst game on the SNES’ and various others, which basically amount to say this game is an utter turd.

However, one thing which is annoying about a lot of gamers and even the games media is people talk about games like this without ever having played them. In much the same way that when you ask most people what’s the worst game ever they will throw out answers like E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial on the Atari 2600 or Superman 64 without ever having seen the cartridge in real life.

So with the above said you will probably get the point that even if a game has been called bad by almost everyone and every media outlet out there I still like to put it in my own cartridge slot or CD draw before I am willing to comment on it. I have played E.T., I have played Superman 64 and now I have played Ultraman. I would like to be able to tell you that some of its awfulness is just the product of ever expanding urban legends, that people tried to one up each other with tales of its awfulness and in doing so exaggerated some of its issues. But unfortunately everything that has ever been said about this is true – it is awful.

So to run you through how my time with the game went I will give you a quick explanation. I put the game in and it loaded up the music was OK the presentation wasn’t too bad at all but then I got to the gameplay. For those of you who don’t know who Ultraman is I will give you a basic idea. Imagine a one man power ranger team, where instead of getting in a giant robot if enemies turn big, the dude just turns big himself and that’s pretty much all you really need to know. So you see a scene of him growing and then it’s time to fight. At first you see Ultraman facing off against a monster and you see the power bars with names on under both sides of the screen, your’s on one side the monster’s on the other, and that makes you think we are in the land of Street Fighter II clones again. If only it was a good or even average Street Fighter clone.

Ultraman controls like he has some kind of serious impairment. The way he moves backwards and forwards is clunky. You can never seem to back off quick enough, even though you can do a sort of backwards cartwheel. You can run forward quite fast. The game makes you realise things which are brilliant in the likes of Street Fighter II which you took for granted could have been far, far worse. The jumping in Ultraman is controlled with one of the pad’s face buttons, but it’s so floaty that jump attacks are hardly worth bothering with. In fact the only point to jumping would be to jump over the enemy to gain yourself a bit of breathing room. Of the other three face buttons, one is a punch, one is a kick and the third is your special move button. This is when things get a bit complicated.

On my first go I managed to punch and kick the monster until its energy bar was depleted. This was a chore as there was basically only two kinds of punch – a straight punch and an uppercut style punch – and two kicks – a straight kick and a little jumping fancy kick. Yes, there are no crouching attacks, and different kicks or punches don’t seem to happen if you hold back or press the button for longer or anything, so basically there are four standard attacking moves – six if you count the fact you can chop or kick while in the air (I say if you can count as these will hardly ever hit anything). So ‘finish him’ shows up in the enemy’s depleted energy bar, so I hit him a lot more, and he hits me back lowering my energy. I press the special button and a sort of fireball attack is launched which hits him but doesn’t do anything much. Five minutes latter he has beaten my bar down to zero. Do I carry on like he has and wait for him to ‘finish me’? No, I collapse on the floor and die. So I continue and the same happens again, and again, and again…

At this point it’s safe to say I was very frustrated. I knew I was going to have to do one of two things. I was either going to have to open the manual or I was going to have to dive online. Now something is wrong when you feel the need to run for help during what to all intents and purposes is the first stage of a video game. It turned out the answer was halfway through the manual. There’s a meter in between yours and his which shows how much special energy you have and also displays some choices. As you gain more energy you can choose other special moves. You actually have four of them and when it says finish him only one thing will kill the enemy and that’s to hit them with the fourth special move.

So with this knowledge in hand I again did battle with the first monster. I wore down his energy bar and then hit him with the move and bam, he blew up, job done. I soon learned the problem is you need to beat the enemy up quiet a bit to fill your bar so there’s basically no point using the special moves apart from to use the fourth one to blow up the enemy. Because if you do use the other ones all it will mean is that you’re dancing backwards and forwards kicking an enemy while it says finish him waiting to gain the needed energy, giving it a chance to kill you.

That’s the main problem – the enemies have better reach than you do. They also seem to move more quickly than you do and they can kill you by simply depleting your energy bar without having to do any fancy rubbish to see you off. Add to this the fact their attacks seem to be very quick and damaging, and you can see your plight. When you win it often isn’t because of how good you have been its because the random gods of chance shone in your favour. In one match against an enemy he can breath fire at you again and again, as well as hitting you before you can even reach him. Then in your next match he can seem to just stand there while you approach and punch him in the face again and again. It just feels less like the enemies have any real AI and instead some dice are being thrown in the background the results of which tell them to attack, to shoot fire or to just sit there like a lemon.

Apparently there are about eight monsters in the game but I couldn’t get past the fifth. Its reach was just too good. It kept shooting fire and I didn’t have the patience to wait for it to keep rolling lemons. Add to this the fact you get a limited amount of continues. You get about two but I did notice myself gaining an extra one due to points/score at one stage.

The graphics in game are rubbish – basic backgrounds, awful sprites – but this could be overlooked if the game wasn’t such a sluggish random mess. As it stands I have to give this game two out of 10. It’s basically broken but kind of has some degree of playability hence the fact I haven’t given it a one. It is by far the worse SNES game I have played during this little experiment of mine, and I can’t remember playing anything else this bad back in the day. I do own another game which was frequently referred to as the worst game on the SNES so we will have to wait and see how that measures up.

If you love bad games or your some kind of sadomasochist who is rubbing their nipples at the thought of playing this then I better give you the lowdown on how much it costs. My copy was £5 from a charity shop boxed with manual and that still feels expensive. The cheapest PAL copy I could find online was £5.99 but it looked like a bear had attacked the front label. There was a boxed copy or two for £15 but seriously buy some good games with that money instead. Or if you’re really that into pain at least save up a bit more and pay a good looking woman to whip you or something. At least, unlike with Ultraman, the view will be nice while you suffer.

150 SNES games reviewed #23: Final Fight

I try to keep games like this that everyone will know to a bear minimum or at least thin them out as much as I can, but I kind of felt that I needed to get Final Fight out of the way – and not in a bad way.

The game was important for a lot of reasons. The fact that it was on the SNES but not the Mega Drive was one of them, as this was part of the reasoning behind Sega coming up with the Streets of Rage franchise. The game touched and affected the whole of the market. I am going to try to talk about it but do my best not to retread the exact same ground everyone does (this will be hard with how much the game has been talked about).

Final Fight is a side-scrolling beat-’em-up produced by Capcom. Originally it was released as an arcade game in 1989. Final Fight was the seventh title Capcom made to work with its CPS-1 arcade system board. The CPS-1 worked a bit like the Neo Geo, you had a system board and other smaller boards could be mounted on top of this, and the large board was the guts of the arcade unit and the small board held the actual game. I actually own a CPS-1 board but the only game board I own for it is Pang! 3.

The game is set within the fictional Metro City. In the arcade game you get to pick one of three characters: Former pro wrestler-turned-mayor Mike Haggar, his daughter’s boyfriend Cody, and Cody’s friend Guy. The whole idea of the game is to take down the Mad Gear gang and rescue Haggar’s daughter Jessica.

The game originally began development as a sequel to the first Street Fighter arcade game but the genre was switched from a one-on-one fighting game to a scrolling beat ’em up and the title was changed following the success of Double Dragon. This is probably one of the main reasons that Final Fight characters have popped up in Street Fighter games.

When the SNES version was released it was in some ways limited. There was only Haggar and Cody – Guy had been dropped (although there was a version released in some territories called Final Fight Guy which removed Cody from the game and replaced him with Guy). There was also a level stripped out of the game and then there were some minor changes in connection to policies Nintendo had for games released on their machines. Female members of Mad Gear were altered to appear male as Nintendo had objections in regards to the ability to violently beat up women, even if they were busy trying to knife you to death. None of this broke the game or made a huge difference to how it played. I do think that with some effort they could have squeezed Guy in. I have seen games cheat to free up room by using the same legs or arms for characters before sometimes just colour swapped and I am sure there would have been a way to do something like this to free up a little room. The main thing that people tend to talk about is the fact that the game has no two-player mode, which I have to admit is a shame as this was one of the things that made the arcade machine so popular, the fact that you could go through the whole game with a buddy. It is not a game breaking deal though as long as you know about it in advance. The graphics are big, bright and impactful, the music is just as good. The only negatives there are can’t really be termed negatives with the game and more deficits from the arcade machine.

The game is a great scrolling beat em up to play on your own and even bearing this in mind I would have to give it eight out of 10. However I fully recognise that if you want to play with a buddy or have a friend around you would be better looking at one of its competitors or even one of its sequels (they are usually expensive though).

I have had my copy since I was a kid. I bought it before I even owned a SNES. It was September and I knew I was getting my SNES for Christmas, I already had a cheap converter and Final Fight came up for sale NTSC in my local games shop a place called Games World for £10. I used to get £5 a week pocket money and £2 a day lunch money. So I did what I think most game crazy school kids would do. I took an apple and a bottle of water to school everyday without my parents knowing and ate these for dinner while pocketing the money waiting for Saturday to come so I could buy Final Fight. Following this kind of logic I had a nice little collection by the time Christmas rolled around.

If you want to buy Final Fight PAL versions exist but whenever I see them they are crazy money. US NTSC versions crop up for around £15 for a cart. To be honest if you have a Wii U you can download Final Fight for £5.50 (the SNES version). Or if you have a PS3 or Xbox 360 you can get a perfect emulation of the arcade machine for about £6.50. It can be found under the title Final Fight: Double Impact, and for your cash you get both Final Fight and another Capcom game called Magic Sword (which was also ported to the SNES).

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