Tag: Nintendo

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.

150 SNES games reviewed #10: Super Metroid

So many games had the word super stuck on the front, I suppose it is only natural, part of it was a marketing gimmick obviously a way to let people know that this machine was so far beyond the last one that it required that label.

Unfortunately a lot of games didn’t live up to their super title. Largely I feel it was because some companies felt they could give you the same experience as they had on the NES with just upgraded graphics thrown on top.

Super Metroid has the added super and the added super graphics but it is so much more than that. Every facet of the game, graphics, sound presentation and gameplay have been worked on and polished to a gleam. I think the game stands as a prime example of what needs to be done to take a successful game from one generation to the next without it becoming a lazy effort to ride on the shoulders of past glory.

The beauty of the game is that you start of with very little power. Sure you can shoot and move around but there is always something getting in your way an area you can’t reach, a door you can’t open, a puzzle you don’t quite have the pieces to solve yet. So you carry on, you do what you can do and you wait until you have something you didn’t have before, till you can do things you couldn’t do before.

There are also so many secrets, so many little extra missile tanks you can get if you just look hard enough. Picking this game up again to have a go to write this was a pure pleasure – the most pleasure I have had so far in this exercise. I resisted doing a big game like this though because a lot of you will have played it, and even those of you who have not played it will have watched some video or read some article about the greatness of this game. Many other people have said it before probably most of them have done a better job than me. This game to me is a 10 out of 10. I could talk all day but by the end that would still be the point I would end up making.

The price of this game even for cartridge only gets so ridiculously expensive, I only own it because I brought a PAL UK cart from a market back when the GameCube was first coming out, before the price of second hand SNES games went through the roof. I actually only spent like £2 on it if memory serves. For once I am not even going to focus on how much this will cost you to track down instead I am just going to say think long and hard about if you need the original cartridge, you can download this game on the Wii U for example for under £7.

Imagine this, people are paying £40 for a cartridge of it. Yes, I think the game is worth £40 but still. If you don’t already own a SNES you’re paying we will say £40 again so this game is costing some people £80 to play.

The game is available on the Virtual Consoles of both the Wii and Wii U but for this example I will show you how far £40 can go on the Wii U. I can’t remember exact prices and I am not going to look them up I am just going to wing it. Super Metroid is about £7, you can download that. Next I would download Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition. This will cost you £12, it is a brilliant game that owes a lot to Super Metroid. It is a Mexican wrestler paranormal-themed Metroid with a brilliant sense of humour. Trust me when you have finished Super Metroid you are going to want more of the same and this game delivers it with a smile. Then hit the virtual store again for Fire Emblem as it is another brilliant game which if you try to track down real will cost you an arm and a leg. Here it will just cost you £4.40 at the moment. Also grab Kirby’s Dream Land 3 (another SNES game) from the virtual console its like £4 at the moment. Take the £10 you have left and look online. Look for sales and pick a random game which looks like a bizarre cult classic in the making, order it and put it away in a draw without ever taking of the shrink wrap because you can bet your butt one day you’ll see it on eBay and go oh my gosh this game is going for crazy money.