Welcome readers to the almost final installment of Blockbuster Video and SNES. It's been quite the ride thus far, and I'm surprising even myself at how much of this I remember so well. Once again, I don't have a fancy intro so into the fray we go.
When looking back at the Simpsons games of the 90's, I still champion that you can't do better Konami's Simpons Arcade Game. It remains to this day one of my favorite beat-em-ups. However since it never got ported to consoles, we had to make do with slightly more mediocre fare. It began, I think, with Bart vs The Space Mutants. This was released on both the NES and Genesis. There were plenty others, such as Bart vs the World, Virtual Bart, Escape from Camp Deadly for the Gameboy...the list goes on and on. While these games still have a certain charm to them, I always thought Bart's Nightmare was a cut above the rest. I rented this a few times over the course of owning my SNES and even though it's very far from perfect, it's still my favorite console Simpsons game from that time.
The premise was that Bart fell asleep doing his homework and must navigate through different dreams to collect all his papers to win the game. How did they end up in dreamland? I don't know, but it was a great gimmick for the variety of gameplay this game had. There was a hub world where Bart walked along an endless street looking for papers. There were plenty of obstacles here and Bart could collect Z's to extend his life meter by catching them with bubble gum. Once a paper was found, you jumped onto it and Bart was presented with a choice of doors. Each one represented a different stage. Once completed, Bart got the paper and was one step closer to final completion. This is where the variety was. Once stage had bart floating down a bloodstream blowing up viruses with a pump. Another had him as Bartzilla trying to get to a giant building to battle with Homer Kong. Another had Bartman flying through the air with a slingshot with R-Type style gameplay. There also Itchy and Scratchy stages. While fun, the game could bbe very clunky at times, especially in the Bartzilla stage. And I was never able to come close to finishing the temple of Maggie levels. But even with parts of the game being overly difficult and having poor control, I still look favorably on this cartridge and can easily say it's worth your time.
Oh my, what is there to say about Super Metroid that hasn't been said? Seriously, this is almost universally acknowledged as one of the greatest video games ever made and I'm not one to argue. In fact, I would say it's about as close to perfection as a video game can be and would put in my top 5 video games I've ever played. It also had an awesome commercial.
Oddly enough, for a game beloved by untold millions, Super Metroid didn't sell very well. Released the same year as Donkey Kong Country, Super Metroid went almost unnoticed when it was released. I must admit, despite loving the commercial, I wasn't in a hurry to play the game either back then. I rented the first Metroid on the NES some years before and I didn't take to it. Since I was still very new to video games, I didn't understand that I was supposed to explore and discover things and kept wondering when the heck I was going to get to the next level. As cool as Super Metroid looked, I remembered playing the original and didn't think I'd like it.
Then fate intervened. One day I was at Best Buy and Super Metroid was available to play there. With all the other game stations taken, I decided to give it a shot. I started a new file, sat through the intro, and began to play. As I worked my through the beginning, I realized this wasn't so confusing and I was really enjoying myself. Not too long after that, I asked my mom to rent it for me while I was at school and when she did, I was so excited to play it that school slowed down to a crawl. Eventually I got home and the rest is as they say, history. Since then, I feel the game hasn't aged at all. In fact, if you were to ask me if Super Metroid is as good as you remember it, I would easily say to you "No. It's better." :)
I look at this box art and I can't help but wonder why the artists chose to portray a jungle commando on the box for a game about killing Nazi's in a castle. Not that it matters. This game really takes me back. I can still remember going to places like Radio Shack and Circuit City as a kid and seeing demos of this game running on the computers. My mom couldn't believe that somebody would make a game where you walked around shooting people. I on the other hand was divided between the same reaction and "You know what, that looks really fun." And for a long time, those demos were the closest I ever came to playing Wolfenstein. A few years later, I knew that the game got ported to the SNES but I never saw anywhere and pretty much forgot about it. By that time, Doom was already out and Wolfenstein was old news anyway.
Then one night I found it at Blockbuster and as I looked at the back of the box, I remembered those demos I use to see and how I always wanted to play this game so decided to grab it. I don't remember being disappointed either. There's no specific memories of playing this game other that it was my first time really playing Wolfenstein. In wouldn't be until high school when I got to play the complete pc version and Spear of Destiny for the first time. Having never played the pc version, I wasn't aware that the SNES version was censored. The swastikas were removed from the flags on the walls, Hitlers signature mustache was removed from his character model and his pictures, the blood was removed, and the dogs were replaced by giant rats. These changes were only cosmetic though, and even though purists would call them out, I don't think they affected the gameplay at all. I think this is a solid port and while wolfenstein doesn't hold up as well as Doom in the gameplay department, this is still a good game that's worthy of your SNES collection.
Just like Animaniacs, I hadn't seen this show before when I rented the game. I just thought it looked kinda fun wanted to give it a try. Since then I've watched plenty of Rocko's Modern Life and it's one of my favorite Nickelodeon cartoons. When I first played, I attempted it just like a normal platformer. I ran and jumped and made my way through the first stage but I couldn't figure why I wasn't able to finish it. I kept getting blocked at a certain point. I even restarted the game to see if it had glitched. Then I had a friend come over and I showed him how I was stuck. But then I noticed something at the beginning of the level. Rocko's dog Spunky was walking back and forth and I finally put together what I was supposed to do.
The goal was to get Spunky through the levels and Rocko was the tool to clear his obstacles. It's like the developers made a whole game around the Peter Puppy stage from the first Earthworm Jim. Except that Spunky doesn't turn into a monster and maul you if he gets hurt by something. It's a fun game, but I don't remember a need to go back to it once I had finished it. Overall, a solid rental but for me that was it.
I watched the Jungle Book a lot as kid, but time has dwindled my interest in it. I just like other Disney movies better. Back then though, if there was brand new Disney game then I wanted to play it. Now that I think about it, I'm not even sure I knew about this game when I found it. I honestly think I just saw it at Blockbuster one day, said "Hey look, a jungle book game!" and brought it home. When I did, I had to wait for my sister to finish watching a tv show before I could play it.
It played just like it sounds. You guide Mowgli through different Jungle environments, encounter characters from the film and try to get him back to the man-village. Gameplay wise decent, but nothing to get excited about. Your main attack was throwing bananas. What I remember most about this game was the bosses. Not because they were fun to fight, but because they took forever to beat. I remember getting to Kaa fairly easily but he took so much punishment that he wore me down before I could defeat him. Seriously, it was like 20 minutes of chucking what seemed like hundreds of bananas at his head before he croaked. I got as far as King Louie. You had to fight him at the end of two stages and I never the got past the second one. You had to make your way through a crumbling temple area that scrolled on it's own and when I managed to get to the end of it, there he was again. 20 minutes of chucking bananas at him and he defeated me. Like Rocko, I never had the urge to play this game again after I rented it. I've heard the Genesis version of this game is different and better but I never had the opportunity to play it.
Here's one that nobody remembers. To this day I'm the only one I know of that has even heard of this game, let alone played it. I don't remember any advertising for it in magazines, and I never saw a commercial for it. I just saw it one day in the store thought it looked fun and wanted to rent it. I liked it. My next door neighbor came over and he seemed to enjoy it too. It played similar to NBA Jam only with Bugs Bunny and co. playing street ball.
Naturally there is some chaos involved. Each character had a special move such as Taz spinning into people and Marvin shooting his ray gun. Bugs could disguise himself as a lady to distract the other team and cause them to drop the ball. Gems appeared on the court and could be collected to supply things like cream pies for players to fling at each other. I haven't played it since renting it as kid, but I remember this being a fun arcade basketball title that made pretty good use of it's license. I highly recommend giving it a shot if you're able to.
Winning Run marks the first time that I rented a "real" sports game. During all my years of renting games, I would only repeat this two more times. Along with this this title, I rented a Fifa game for the N64, and NFL Gameday 98 for the ps1. I've never been a sports person, didn't know squat about Ken Griffey Jr., and the only reason I have any interest in the Mariners now is because my family and I would like to eventually live in the Seattle area. That being the case, the sports games that usually drew any kind of attention from me were arcadey types, such as Blades of Steel, NBA Jam, NFL Blitz...etc. So why did I rent this? Some time before this game came out, I was at some type of function at church and kids were able to bring their game consoles. Somebody brought Ken Griffey Jr presents Major League Baseball and it drew a crowd. Seemingly I was the only kid there who had zero interest in sports so I had no idea what anybody was talking about as they played. I did watch though and it looked like it was fun.
Winning Run was a child of the Play It Loud era and it looked really good for it's time. And I enjoyed it for the most part. I never bothered to start a real season, but I played plenty of exhibitions. The only real complaint I had was that I just wasn't any good at it. Batting was a severe case of hit and miss, and once it was my turn to field all hope of victory disappeared entirely. I couldn't get anybody out no matter how hard I tried. I think my dad and I played it together though and that was a little more fair. Since I'm zero authority on sports and therefore zero authority on sports games, I can't tell you if Winning Run was a good baseball game for its time or not. All I can say is that except for the fact that I sucked at it, I had fun with it.
Now this is something that's more up my alley. I'm a big Mega Man fan and when I saw this for the first time I had no choice but to take it home. The Blue Bomber could do no wrong to me at that point and I never bothered to think that putting him in a soccer game was ever a bad idea. Yes, it's weird, and I still wonder how Capcom came up with this concept. But even if it was nothing more than a novelty, there was a fun little arcade soccer game here. If memory serves, I ended up renting this twice.
It played just like it sounds. Mega Man and an assortment of bosses from his previous games play soccer. There was of course exhibition and vs modes where you handpicked your team and played. The story mode though started you off with a team that consisted entirely of Mega Man. You faced against a team consisting entirely of one enemy. If you one the game, that character was added to your roster and you moved on. It even used the same dot and grid password system as classic Mega Man games, although the grid was a lot bigger. Dr. Wily was also playable, and had a cool little mech suit he wore. Each character had trick shot they could do that went along with their special power. I was probably doing it wrong, but I remember having to press half the buttons on the controller at the same time to pull those trick shots off. I liked it, but game magazines called the whole thing stupid back then. I'm not going to argue that the gaming world needed a Mega Man Soccer game at the time, but weird experiments like this are one of the reasons I love this era of gaming so much. If I still had a SNES, I would be proud to own this.
I mentioned renting this game with my cousin back in Playin' Games with Brent, Part 2. I enjoyed it but didn't give it any thought after that weekend for a long time. What brought it back to my attention was visiting a friend who had the game for his NES. I asked to play it and while I thought it was fun, I told him how much I enjoyed the SNES version more. Not too long after that, I rented it again and unlike playing it at my cousins house, I was able to beat it.
Joe and Mac isn't what I would call an amazing game but when I watched this game again while researching this article, it reminded more than any other game I've talked about how different games were back then. Pleasant graphics, a simple music score, and a caveman fighting dinosaurs and other hairier cavemen with his club...it was so innocent. Even though this is the era that ushered in Mortal Kombat, the innocence of this period was reflected in games like this. Yes, there were exceptions, but it seemed to me that overall the goal was not to be hardcore, not to push envelopes, but to have fun. And that's exactly what Joe and Mac was. Pure, unadulterated, fun.
Adventure Island is a serious that doesn't get talked about a whole lot when people discuss classic games. It's shame too because it was solid series. Before this, I had rented the three Adventure Island games for the NES so I was familiar with the territory. I remember my mom renting the very first one when she bought my dad the NES's joystick controller. (Was it called The Advantage?) I liked the series and this was a no-brainer for me.
It played just like an updated version of the ones that came before it. Master Higgin's girl gets kidnapped and he goes out to save her. He could ride a skateboard with the right power up and one hit was all it took to kill you. He also had a life-meter of sorts that served as a timer. It would drop down on it's own and when it ran out, you died. It could be replenished by collecting fruit scattered throughout the levels. What amazed me was how good I was at it. This series is famously difficult. In one of Nintendo Power's final issues, they covered this game in their retro section and called it one of the most difficult Super NES games ever made. Therefore it makes me proud to say that after some practice I was able to reach the final boss pretty easily. What bugs me is that I could never beat him. He's that big pig looking thing in the screenshots. Just like the final Bowser battle in Mario 3, the goal was to get him to break through the floor. What ticks me off is that this wasn't what I would call a difficult battle, but for some reason I could never finish. I came close many, many times but it was never enough. This game recieved a sequel that featurd more rpg-like elements but I've never played it. As for this one, it's a very solid game and a worthy investment for collectors.
There you have it folks. I hope you've enjoyed this batch of games from my past and I look forward to bringing you final installment. For the end, we find a plethora of licensed titles, including one that made me realize that they will make a video game based on just about anything. But until then, stay retro folks. Thanks for reading.