Tag: retro games

SNES Game Review 49: Super Ghouls N Ghosts

Sometimes there is a game series that just seems to pop up in your life again and again. I did a lot of my gaming on the spectrum to start with and I played a heck of a lot on a certain 9 or 10 games, one of these games was ghouls and goblins. Now the game worked on the spectrum it was perfectly playable but like a lot of spectrum games the game was playable but the graphics and the colours used were a mess. At the time we dealt with them because well hey that’s all we had. Compare this to now days when if a game on the current generation of Xbox one’s and PS4 doesn’t hit 1080p at a constant of at least 30 frames per second then it is considered to some degree to be a failure. I could go on to a whole rant about how gamers now days can be so judgemental or how kids have grown up as graphical whores who seem to deny a game any merit unless it meets a certain set of numerical standards, or how we could use our imagination back then but I wont. Instead I will simply say that when there was a jump in quality from one machine to the next it amazed us and we appreciated it.

Next Ghosts and Goblins game into my life, my brother’s friend was the first to have it on his megadrive which he would bring round to our house. One day he turned up with that and Rambo 3 and we all pretty much spent the better part of about 6 hours trying to get as far as we could in the two of them. I got the megadrive version myself some years latter. When I first saw the SNES game Super Ghouls and Ghosts my reaction was oh they ported it to the Snes and felt they needed to add a Super in to the name big deal been there done that. I was wrong though. I don’t know if you could fully describe it as a sequel as there seems to be a lot taken from both Ghosts and Goblins and Ghouls and ghosts in this game so it’s either just a sequel sticking very close to the original format or it’s a sort of Ghosts 2.5 semi sequel of sorts. What I do know though is that it is more than worth owning both the Megadrive and Snes games if you can pick them up, and if you like a challenge.

If you don’t like games that will repeatedly hammer you into the ground, that will repeatedly see you die and have to try again and again then do not go near this game. If you enjoy a challenge though and you get a great sense of pride from doing what moments before seemed almost impossible then this game is going to be digital crack to you. A friend of mine well his parents used to have a sort of agreement with him, he didn’t get much pocket money because they thought he would spend it all on sugared sweets and run around fruit loops so they used to give him a small amount but then they’d buy him games every now and then throughout the year. One of the rules though was that his Dad picked the games so he didn’t get rubbish ones (he got a say in his Christmas and birthday presents but not these random games) and that he had to be completing games in order to get new ones…. and yep you’ve guessed it the poor git got brought Super Ghosts and Goblins. I had gotten it myself so we used to compare how far we had got at least until the day he begged his folks for permission to trade it in for something that didn’t make him scream.

The graphics were kind of basic but had a lot of color in them and fitted the theme well. The music though man I loved the music from the very first time I heard it. One funny thing to note is that there used to be a sofa place not sure if it still exists if it does it certainly isn’t on TV anymore but it used to be called ‘’The Leather Warehouse’’ and for some reason I couldn’t Listen to the song in the first stage without singing  ‘’The leather Warehouse at a moment where it seemed to fit in’’  (the song goes kind of  Daaaa dadd daaaaa daa daaaa daaaa daaaa   followed with a silent pause and in the silent pause id always shout it) I was at a gaming convention in there retro room one year (Game City) which is held in Nottingham and I was playing this on the big TV and even did it, have to admit lots of people looked at me very strangely especially the younger ones who probably didn’t know what I was on about or thought it was some kind of bondage club… Still I digress the music gets in to your head so deep.

I love the game but it’s a hard one to rate as it all depends on if you like a challenge if you do then its an 8 out of 10, if you don’t then well its more a 5 or a 6 as your not going to be saying its bad but you will soon be referring to it with swear words and feeling like you wasted your money. Plenty of copies of this game cart only sell for around the 15 quid mark or more even imports. I would suggest it might be wise to look at investing in one of Capcoms classic collections as you wont pay much more and you will get a bunch of other games with it.. there have been classics like this for the ps1, ps2, psp etc. Capcom its stuff like this that makes me remember my love for you.

Snes Game Review 41: Killer Instinct

I wasn’t really sure what I was going to review as my 41st SNES review…several games nearly made there way into the SNES to instead be pulled away at the last instant. I have tried to keep things as messed up as possible for reasons of variety and surprise, so I have jumped from games launched early in the machines life then to late games and backwards and forwards pinballing all over the place. Sometimes though there has been a degree of method behind my madness and this is the case here. Today I am going to talk about Killer instinct the reason being that I have laid a small subtle amount of groundwork for this, first I made sure that I had already talked about Street Fighter 2 the world warrior because its the ground stick every other fighting game ended up  judged against back in the day and I also made sure to talk about Super Battletoads.

You might remember that I said that in the early days of the SNES Rare released very little, so really they jumped straight from Battletoads in Battlemaniacs to this game and Donkey Kong country. These games were made using the expensive workstations they had funneled all of there NES game profits in to.
So Killer Instinct is a fighting game developed by Rare.  Published by Midway and Nintendo, it was originally released as an arcade game during the summer of 1994. I remember seeing this in the arcades it caused a massive fuss, people flocked to it. When it was announced that it would be coming to a home system the first thing everyone I knew presumed was that it would be coming to some kind of ”next gen” system or that it would be a massively cut down shadow of its former self. So the  following year when it was ported to the SNES every ones jaws collectively hit the floor, there was cheering shouting and the usual unfortunate fan boy prodding of Megadrive/Genesis owners, some of which tried to counter the argument for format superiority with the fact that Eternal Champions: Challenge from the Dark Side was exclusive to the mega CD.
Some people would look at or play Killer Instinct and look at it from the point of view of it being a street fighter or mortal kombat clone and sure it has a little in common with both of these titles, if anything I would say it is kind of the middle point between the two in terms of style and playability. Killer Instinct was far from just a clone though, it had graphics the likes of which had never been seen in a home console game but there was more to it than that though it actually has a few game-play elements that were unique to fighting games at the time of its release some of which have been adapted by other games. (Similar ideas might have been tried in other games but KI is the one that made them well known).
Instead of fighting enemies in best-of-three rounds bouts, each player has two life bars. The player that depletes both of the other player’s life bars first wins. The game also introduced “auto-seconds”, which allows players to press a certain sequence of buttons to make characters automatically perform combos on opponents. Also featured in the game are “combo breakers”; special moves that can interrupt combos, for anyone who has been playing a fighting game and found themselves stuck in a life bar smashing sequence of hits that they just cant get away from combo breakers are and were a god send.
The graphics at the time were amazing, they haven’t aged brilliantly though, street fighter 2 has definitely aged better in this regard, but the sound in this game is out of this world, and not just out of this world in terms of games music it is actually brilliant music in its own right which probably explains one of the reasons that the game originally came with a CD called Killer Cuts featuring its music. To this day I still have a track from this disc on my phone so that I can listen to it when I travel.
I think that the game still more than has the quality of gameplay needed to drag you in, sure people will say there is only 10 characters and that once you have finished it with all of them there is not a lot to do, and yes this is kind of true but if you have two pads and a friend or two this game can last forever. You can get along playing it in a button mashing manner but if you want to see all that the game has to offer then it takes a lot of time and skill to see everything all of the combos, all of the finishers. Yes there is only 10 characters but there is no palette swapping they are all fully independent characters with there own move sets and fighting styles and each one of them has a story behind them.
Even given all of the years that have gone past I find myself needing to give this game a high score… I think I need to give this game an 8, its just that good. I have two copies of this, one is American and the other is English, they are both carts only unfortunately.. I wish I had a complete copy just so I still had the Killer Cuts CD.. last time I had my hands on a copy of the CD was at my brothers, he let me rip the disc and listen to it, but then he put it back in his car so he could listen to it while driving, unfortunately he was living in a rough area and someone set his car alight and well the car the CD and everything else in it turned in to a burned and melted wreckage.
If you want a copy of this game will only cost you around the £6 to £10 mark for a cart only, you can get a boxed copy for around £25 to £35 unfortunately very few of them seem to still have the Killer cuts disc in them.
Killer Instinct of course was followed by a sequel, the 1996 arcade game Killer Instinct 2, there are rumors that a SNES port of this was finished but never released, this may be true as other games were dropped towards the end of the machines life for fear they wouldn’t sell with different versions going on to become N64 games as well. For examplethe original Starfox 2 was left pretty much finished but unreleased at with some of the ideas from it becoming taken to help make+ Lylat Wars, and Killer instinct 2 was released on the N64 with the title Killer Instinct Gold). The Killer Instinct brand has been revivived by Microsoft who now own rare but they had used an other studio Double Helix to make the game, with apparently a tiny bit of advice and ideas from Rare. It kills me to think that KI is continuing to exist but Rare are busy making Kinect games and hats for Avatars.

150 SNES games reviewed #39: James Pond’s Crazy Sports (aka The Super Aquatic Games)

You have your Sonics and your Marios, then there are all the lesser-known platforming heroes – some of which are in games which could rival the likes of the above and others who are in games that are poor, pale imitations.

If you owned an Amiga there were certain characters you were bound to know and love, and one of these was James Pond. He was a well-loved star of several games but they weren’t Amiga exclusive. In fact I think all of them ended up on the Mega Drive, and the SNES got everything apart from his first game. (James Pond 2: Codename Robocod was released on the SNES under the name Super James Pond, almost ignoring that there was a previous game.)

Now you might think that I am going to be talking about Super James Pond or its sequel James Pond 3: Operation Starfish but actually the game I am going to be talking about today is James Pond’s Crazy Sports (known as The Super Aquatic Games in the US, and just The Aquatic Games on Mega Drive). Basically this game took the character of James Pond and used him to front  an aquatic-themed parody of the sports mini games joystick wigglers like Konami’s Track & Field.

This game is the only James Pond title not to be a platformer. You can’t help but think the developers had the idea they could spin the character off in to other genres and in doing so might help him to grow in fame and begin to approach Mario levels.

The first thing I noticed when booting this game up was that I knew the opening music. I more than knew it, it was something I have found myself humming before and then it hit me it was a particularly cheery eight-bit version of Ode to Joy (from Beethoven’s ninth symphony). I have to say this was a good start as I put a smile on my face before I had even pressed a button.

Now in talking about James Pond’s Crazy Sports, I have to admit some of these issues are not really raised in relation to the game but to the whole genre at that time. There’s only so much you can do when it’s bang buttons like mad till you win or lose. It tires your fingers, you get blooming scared you will break the pad. The game does nothing to teach you how to play it so you end up spending so much time just messing around working out what you are supposed to be doing. Sure back in the day you would have had the manual and that would have helped but it wouldn’t have been that hard to put some in game instructions – some text on the screen – before an event? All of the games are really basic and despite my best efforts I couldn’t come anywhere, I admit I didn’t hammer the pad as hard as a kid would have done back when this came out but who really wants to risk breaking a joypad from an old system when the number out there is finite?

I loved the three James Pond platformers as a kid. I found them funny charming and enjoyable. I even enjoyed picking up the Nintendo DS re-release of the second one so the problem here is I was and am invested in the character. I think James Pond rules and if you can’t manage to sell a spin-off to someone who clearly loves the original franchise then you are clearly barking up the wrong tree.

It’s just a shame. The game’s bright, has good music, but just doesn’t deliver. It feels souless and shallow and well I feel I need to give it 2.5 out of 10 – a sad, sad day for James Pond.

At first I thought it didn’t even hit these shores as all the copies I saw were American and between £10 to £15. Add to the fact that a modfied machine wont even play it without a heavy-duty Datel Universal Adapter and it’s expensive. But then I realised that in the UK it had a different name and it’s about £8 to £10 for a PAL game, but it’s still not worth it.