Tag: Super Nintendo

150 SNES games reviewed #11: Championship Pool

Championship Pool came out in 1993 and, as you can obviously tell from the title, it is a pool simulation. It was released for the NES, SNES, Game Boy and the Mega Drive. It was developed by Bitmasters and released by Mindscape.

The game is straightforward, it is a virtual version of pool, in which you can play either a one-off game, tournaments, multiplayer or even just practice. I like the presentation on this game, it offers you what looks like a wealth of choice and options but it also has a layer of style. Your opponents are represented by little pictures, you get to see the coin toss for who goes first, etc but once you actually start playing looks wise there is nothing to separate this from any budget pool game you could pick up on the live markets of various device stores.

In the past I don’t remember there being a whole lot of games based on either pool or snooker, at least not on consoles. The truth is I hadn’t even played this one when I was a kid. I brought this game for £3.50 with free postage from eBay purely for this series. I did own a pool game when I was a Mega Drive/SNES owner but it was Side Pocket on the Mega Drive and I never looked for another one as that always filled my pocketing needs. When I try to compare this in my mind to Side Pocket then that wins, but I cant really be sure if it’s a fair competition having not played Side Pocket in 10 years, and maybe I am remembering it through the eyes of a child.

The main thing that annoys me about Championship Pool is it seems to be very unforgiving even on your first opponents – you break, pocket a ball. take a shot pocket another ball. and then you miss. You would think that you would watch your opponent take their shots and then when they screw up you would be put back in control, but that’s not quite how it works. Someone decided that watching the computer play would be boring or something, so instead they’ve made it so you when you screw up, it says it’s the computers go, you get a screen saying that the computer has had its go and now it’s your turn again. You have a look and the computer has pocketed four balls – four balls which you have no idea how many shots it took it to pocket, four balls you don’t feel you could have got given six shots due to where they laid on the table the last time you saw them. So the computer’s fortune seems to almost border on an unholy pact with the Devil and you have no way of seeing how they achieved this Herculean pool feat and you just have to shrug and go OK. Problem is you then pot another ball and then miss then you get a message saying the computer took its shots and won the game, you don’t even get to see the winning shot.  This just makes me feel very disconnected from it all. I know that in a lot of games everything is decided by random dice throws or some form of statistical probability matrix but when you can see it happening you kind of forget this and get drawn in to the magic of it all.

I would rate this game four out of 10. It might have got better out of me back in the day but nowadays there are so many pool or snooker-based games you could try. Looking online it seems like the going rate for the cart only PAL is about £8. It can go for more and sometimes you see it for less, I even managed to get my cart for £3.50 with free postage. So if you have a SNES and don’t have many games it wont break the bank. I am not saying my four out of 10 is a concrete score, read the good and the bad sides and see what you think about them, it might not annoy you like it does me.

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.