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Hello all, I am Lord Spencer, your friendly neighborhood royalty. Yes, the ancient bloodlines are letting absolutely anyone in these days.

Being the lurker that I am, I have been following Destructoid for more than four years. Well, its 3 AM where I live now, and I just plunged in getting HUGE in the way.

Here is hoping for a fun time.

Oh yes, here is a little more info about me that is probably not as interesting as I think it is:

-I am an Iraqi-Saudi living in Saudi Arabia.
-I owned and played about 1000+ games.
-I owned and read about 2000+ books (I counted comic books I read as a kid so this is not as impressive as it sounds).
-I absolutely love Legos.

Out of all the games I played, I only regret playing a few. I am a big fan of gaming, and thus I really like most of what I play.

Seeing as my top 10 games of all time would change depending on the day you ask me, I am just going to put in Random games I don't think are in anyone's top 10 list:

-Blood Will Tell
-Mega Man Legends 2
-Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon
-Donkey Kong Country 2
-Suikoden 2
-Some weird game in the PS1 that caused my grandfather to kick me out of the house because it had me giving a girl an orgasm by massaging her feet.

Six is as good a number as any, so here is that:

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Following (4)  


For those reading one of my SNES review blogs for the first time, here is the basic concept:

"While the SNES was a constant presence in my childhood, I never had a large collection of games for it. In fact, many of the games I played I still don't know the names of. It wasn't until I say the uproar over Breath of Fire 6 that I knew I played Breath of Fire 1 in the SNES.

After reading the excellent top 100 SNES games list by IGN:

http://www.ign.com/top/snes-games

I decided to go back and play those 100 games and review them. Well, as I looked closer at the list, I realized that there are many genres that did not age well from the SNES (racing, sports) and many other genres that I am simply not good at (shmups, arcade shooters) and others that I need other players to play against for an accurate representation (fighters). Also, I played many of the more well known games such as Final Fantasy and Super Metroid."

We finished with the legacy reviews, so we are beginning with the reviews after my hiatus. Please feel free to give me advise on my reviews, as I always look for improvement.


Also, here are a number of extra rules for Destructoid:
-If you have any suggestion of a game that is not in the IGN list that I should review, please suggest it.
-Make a bet on each game to check whether Chris Charter played it or not.

Without further ado, here is:

42- E.V.O. Search for Eden:

Year: 1993.
Genre: Action Platformer.
Publisher: Enix.
Developer: Almanic.



First things first, I am changing my rating system to better rate different genres according to their own rules. It will still be from 50 quality points, but every title will start from 25 and earn/lose points according to criteria important to the titles and genres themselves.
Search for Eden at once promised a different gaming experience to all of its contemporary games. You take control of a single life-form as it evolves through time, all the while taking control of its own evolution.

While this promises widely different changes to your character, it does not manage to fulfill that promise. Even-though, it still manages to be a decent start for the Evolution genre.

"The Survival of the Fittest"

While it is weird that a game about Evolution starts with a creationist theme, you nonetheless start as an agent of Gaia trying to prove you deserve entering Eden through your subsequent evolution. Surprising no one, the overall plot of a game that simply wants you to evolve your character and play around with it is a thin one. It serves the purpose of giving you a reason to evolve and play through five different eras utill you reach Eden.

However, it was surprising seeing the story of the world told, even if very simply, as you evolve in each Era. In fact, some instances even managed to be melancholy and a perfect testament to the underlying cruelty of the Darwinian principle.

Better still, through exploration and perhaps random luck, you might catch glimpse of a different narrative arc. One that perhaps undermines the entire plot of the game. This narrative is smartly not being showcased in the core game, but is mysteriously in the background, available to those who seek it.

Going back to the original narrative arc, your journey to Eden is not as smooth as you would hope it to be. Some events throw the balance of nature, and you are tasked with correcting it again. Perhaps the insect kingdom is growing too large threatening the plants necessary for survival. Maybe the ocean is being dominated by one species that plan to kill all others.

Regardless of the objective, you are expected to beat the offending party to a pulp. Yet, you might opt to join them for a number of different endings. Some of which are a little funny. When all is beaten, and your path to Eden is cleared, you might at last appreciate the heart of the tale. While not at all a specially engrossing story, it still manages to give adequate reason for the player to care about the world beyond deciding which horn suits his beast best.

Surprisingly Good Story +3
Mysterious Alternative Story: +2



"Only the strong would survive"

According to actual Darwinian theory, survival depends more on adaptability and fertility than actual physical strength. In EVO, it is really all about that physical strength. With the game basically being an action platformer, you walk, swim, fly in a 2D plane while fighting whatever is in your path. You only need attack power, some mobility, and strong defense to survive.

Basically, the hundreds of different evolutionary combinations simply converge to the strongest in each category. There is no reason to mix and match when simply "buying" the more expensive evolutions gets you the best stats. With the exception of the similarly priced evolutions (where you get a different bonus for each), the more evo points (currency) you spend the stronger you get.

Hence, the actual evolution in the game takes the appearance of an RPG shop, where the different body parts you evolve are armor, and those similar priced parts are accessories. For the greatest success, mot players would end the game looking exactly the same, while evolving in exactly the same paths.

Whereas I imagined the evolution to take place organically and intuitively, it ended up being a glorified RPG armor shop. Yet, it is not a bad armor-shop by any stretch of the imagination. Only lacking in the concept of the game. However, the game does deliver in its evolutionary premise in a non-player driven way.

With each era demanding different traits, you evolve through the game from a fish to a humanoid as you go past the eras. Even more, you get the chance to become a bird in one era (which is necessary to uncover the mystery) granting you the ability to fly. While each of these evolutionary "paths" can only be upgraded within with stats only, they play different to each other.

Regular Evolution is Like an Equipment Shop: -2
Evolution Paths Differentiate Gameplay +5

"Lead into the new world"

Each era's objective is going through to the next era. Predictably, you start in the ocean, and go through Earth's slow transformation  through Jurassic and the Ice Age into early-man time. The game plays like the most regular 2D Action platformers, with the added twists of swimming and flight depending on the evolution in hand.

Obstacles to your search for Eden are the many enemies of the game, who are little more than fodder for your evolution needs. Yet, there are those beings who are ruining the balance of nature, and are such more ferocious and deadly. The game's bosses are miscalculations of Evolution, mostly bent up on destroying the world via their own refusal to coexist with it.

While your only fighting tools is a bite or a jump, they are adequate when facing regular enemies. However, bosses require more strategy and more mobility. One basic strategy most EVO players would use over and over again is evolutionary healing. Since you can evolve by simply entering a menu and clicking the required evolution, you can do so at any time. Against bosses, it is optimal to heal yourself and evolve stronger at the same time.

Yet, even with that health tricks, some bosses prove to be more than a match. Unfortunately, it is mostly to due with the excessive stun-locking in the game. At one point, a pink Yeti monster held me for 20 minutes in one stun-lock chain. I tried escaping while chugging away at unwanted evolutions to heal up  with no avail.

Aside from these tense and interesting boss battles, the rest of the game grows repetitive after a while. With little challenge and increasingly boring landscape, EVO becomes a chore, especially because of the grinding required to get the best gear (I mean body parts). However, the anticipation of beginning a new evolutionary path in a new era always brought me back eager and ready.

Boring Regular Play: -3
Interesting Boss Battles: +2
Infinite Stun-Locks: -2



"Protect Earth's beauty"

With such a noble goal in mind, it is a shame EVO does not enforce the sentiment by actually providing a beautiful world to protect. Instead, it offers barren and mostly repetitive levels with the laziest of SNES backgrounds I ever encountered. In fact, the entire background visual design is one of the worst I seen.

It is a testament to the sprite-work then that the game's graphics does not end as a complete disaster. With imaginative sprite design, and different personalities conveyed through the sprites animation and visual ticks. Each of the creatures you encounter, and those you evolve into yourself have a unique visual flair. Through their menacing predatory grins, or through their lazy eating animation, you know exactly what you are dealing with.

In the game's best graphical set-pieces, the game's sprites manages to cover up the sloppy background through intelligent artistic vision. With meteor dropping by signalling the extension of the mighty dinosaurs, the enter-wining necks of two of those long necked dinosaurs somehow hides the appalling boredom of the background in the scene.

However, the music department gets no such saving grace. Carrying the obvious distinction of being a low-budget title, the music of the game manages to grate instead of entertain, and is at once alien from the atmosphere of the game. Worse still, it repeats the terrible tunes infinitely while keeping the half decent ones exclusive.

My view of game music is that it adds another dimension to the game. With 2D games the most needing of that extra dimension, we find the tunes with best melodies in the SNES era. Yet, EVO manages to use its musical score not to add to the game, but to actually subtract from it.

Visual Design: +2
Terrible Music: -5

"A different world"

In many ways, EVO is undercooked and perhaps owing to its low budget, underdeveloped. From its very basic backgrounds, to the very rigid menu, the game has many faults. However, its also the first of its type, and it was bold enough to break through new ground.

In equally many ways, EVO is adventurous and unique. Despite the volutinary mechanic not being what it could have been, EVO manages to let you play in land, air, and sea. And if anything, the illusion of controlling your own evolution is enough to sustain the premise of the game.

Interesting Premise +3

In Conclusion:

The SNES was home to many interesting ideas. Many games matured as series's, while others introduced new mechanics and genres. Not all of those game succeeded however, and for many of them, it robbed us of a more polished take on a great idea.

Perhaps a sequel for EVO would have fixed its problems while expanding on its theme. At it is, search for Eden have yet to reach its own Eden. However, it is still a worthwhile search to make.

Final: 32/50

*****************************************************************

"Tips"
1- Save for the most expensive evolutions.
2- Heal evolve against bosses.
3- Save evo points to heal-evolve.
4- Be wary of stun-locking.
5- Register a flying evolution to explore vertical levels through green crystals.
6- Horns break, and therefore are useless as an attack.

"Next Game"

Talking about games introducing new ideas and genres, the next game in the list introduced a well-respected unique series. Numbering 41, Ogre Battle: March of the Black Queen is a unique tactical strategy game that I am looking forward to try.

Stay Tuned

For Previous SNES game Reviews:

The List

For More Screenshots:

http://www.mobygames.com/game/snes/e-v-o-search-for-eden/screenshots
Photo Photo Photo








For those reading one of my SNES review blogs for the first time, here is the basic concept:

"While the SNES was a constant presence in my childhood, I never had a large collection of games for it. In fact, many of the games I played I still don't know the names of. It wasn't until I say the uproar over Breath of Fire 6 that I knew I played Breath of Fire 1 in the SNES.

After reading the excellent top 100 SNES games list by IGN:

http://www.ign.com/top/snes-games

I decided to go back and play those 100 games and review them. Well, as I looked closer at the list, I realized that there are many genres that did not age well from the SNES (racing, sports) and many other genres that I am simply not good at (shmups, arcade shooters) and others that I need other players to play against for an accurate representation (fighters). Also, I played many of the more well known games such as Final Fantasy and Super Metroid."

We finished with the legacy reviews, so we are beginning with the reviews after my hiatus. Please feel free to give me advise on my reviews, as I always look for improvement.


Also, here are a number of extra rules for Destructoid:
-If you have any suggestion of a game that is not in the IGN list that I should review, please suggest it.
-Make a bet on each game to check whether Chris Charter played it or not.

Without further ado, here is:

44- Demon's Crest:

Year: 1994.
Genre: Action Platformer.
Publisher: Capcom.
Developer: Capcom.



First things first, I am changing my rating system to better rate different genres according to their own rules. It will still be from 50 quality points, but every title will start from 25 and earn/lose points according to criteria important to the titles and genres themselves.

Off all the critical successes of Capcom in the SNES era, Demon's Crest (DC) earns the solitary dishonor of being the biggest financial flop. In fact, the game registered negative sales at one point, with more people returning the game than those buying it.

Born from the single most annoying enemy in the Ghouls and Ghosts series, DC nonetheless was a huge departure from its parent series. Perhaps that departure alienated series fans, and perhaps having a demon as protagonist hurt sales (as research would suggest it would). Regardless of the reasons for its poor sales, I struggle to find a legitimate one, because DC is one very good game. Even if it falls short from greatness.

"What are you!!"

You are Fireband, the powerful demon just fresh from gaining all the Demon crests. However, the traitorous Phalanx managed to back-stab you and take the crests for himself. With some ambition, DCs story could have been a great one. It has all the elements in place, as well as a good sense of presentation to boot. However, it does not go the extra length needed to flesh out what could have been a great story.

For instance, Fireband is not your regular hero. In fact, Phalanx arguably helps demonkind by stunting his tyrannical ambitions. Playing as an Evil character has its charms, but when little of those are explored you might as well be an angel as well as a demon.

Which is a shame, because the story sets up nicely, with Fireband waking up to be executed by the Zombie of the Dragon he killed in the last game to get the crests. It was not a tough opening , but it provided a glimpse of the stylish boss fights the game provides throughout, as well as a sense of style that is unfortunately not complemented by the story.

Also, the game feels like a legitimate quest for vengeance, with Phalanx's castle open to assault at any time (causing a different ending if you kill him without getting the crests first). You travel around the realm trying to get your strength back together (by finding health expansions and crests) in order to beat Phalanx in his castle. It is a non-linear quest, with most of the levels including the final castle being open from the start.

Style: +3
Non-Linear quest: +3

"Bring me a velum for a spell"

If you played Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts, you would know that the red gargoyle has wings. These wings come into place greatly in DC. While Fireband can only jump once, he can hover in the air at a set height indefinitely. This hovering mechanic works great in order stay airborne to hit enemies while also dodging their attack. Better still, you can change your hover height by rapid disengagement of your wings and re-engagement.

However, this is only the original form of Fireband. As each crest gives you a different transformation, each useful in one part of the game. With the appropriate crests, Fireband can swim, fly (instead of hover), and more.

Attack-wise, all the red gargoyle does is shoot fireballs. However, these fireballs are altered by the form he wears, and the items he uses. These items are found by exploring the game-world, while the froms are gained by progressing the story and gaining crests. While these fireballs are his only mode of attack, they are actually not rapid enough or travel enough to feel as a shooting mechanic, and with the consistent need to fly closer to the enemy, they feel more like long ranged melee attacks.

Along with his crests and firebreathing abilities, Fireband carries around talismans that increase his power, and potion bottles to recover. Also, while he should be also supported with a number of cool-sounding spells, those were entirely useless.

Also, don't forget to look around for health-expansions. With as many items as Fireband boosts, and with a the non-linear quest. DC feels like an Action Platformer Zelda game. Not quite the metroidvania, but close enough.

Different Forms: +4
Many Items: +3
Useless Spells:-2



"You shall go no further"

While the game feels really open due to its non-linear structure. You soon realize that it basically consists of stages within stages, with a boss in the end of each sub-stage. This not necessarily a bad thing, because the game maintains the illusion of freedom well throughout.

More importantly, because the formula also works. While the stages are mostly run-of-the-mill action platfomer fare, the bosses are not. It is slightly unfortunate that the stages do no extensively use the cool flight mechanics unique to the game, and instead manage to be weaker than the brilliant stages of its parent series. However, the bosses redeem those stages greatly with intense fights all over the game.

In fact, the early bosses in the game would keep the more hard-core gamers on their toes. Better yet, those boss fights are never cheap, with DC being ahead of its time by giving infinite retries and generous checkpoints. These does not cheapen the bosses, who are still intense as ever, but levels the playing field between the players and the bosses allowing for skill to evolve with practice without unnecessary frustration.

Also, perfection is not DCs goal as a game, in contrast to its parent series.

However, it must be said that due to the abundance of items in the final stages of the games, the bosses at the end feel really weak. Especially the final boss, who is underwhelming in all regards. Even though, before that point, the proto-man like fights with your rival Arma would be the highlight of the game.

Savor them well.

Great Boss Fights: +5
Arma Boss Foghts: +3
Lack of Balancing in Late Boss Fights: -3



"Dance the dance of the dead"

With Capcom on the wheels, you should always expect a great soundtrack. Unfortunately, DC only half delivers. While the soundtrack is suitable to the game, and it does have its highs, it nevertheless fails to excite.

Decent is not a good enough adjective. Perhaps, I wouldn't feel such about the soundtrack if it delivered a good final boss theme. However, as I stated, the final battle fell flat in many ways, one of which is the pedestrian theme.

With the sound department not giving much of an atmosphere to the game, it was up to the art department to do so. Continuing with the game's excellence with the bosses, the game's prime artistic achievements are in the boss design, as well as the designs for Fireband and his different forms.

The stages and the environment in the other hand are well done, if not spectacular. Obviously getting inspiration from gothic motifs, the game's cemeteries and castles look decent enough, with good backgrounds throughout. However, we do not get any of the visual flair Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts was famous for.

Decent Music: -1
Boss Design: +2

"Now feel the Wrath of Heaven"

Having excellent action gameplay mechanics, a non-linear quest, varied forms and collectibles, as well as a unique premise and cool bosses. You would imagine DC would be a critical success cited among the greatest games of all time.

However, this is not the case, because as in many other games, DC manages to have all the pieces in the board but it doesn't go far enough with them. Perhaps, DC2 would have fulfilled the promise if DC did not flop so badly.

As it is now, the game would have really needed another stage. Perhaps better music and a better final fight. However, the most it needs is actually just a tightening of the game's core mechanics and objectives. For example, pressing the shoulder buttons to change forms would have been much better than having to enter the menu every time. Also, as I stated before, the game becomes ridiculously easy at the end. Yet, getting the best ending and the real final fight is nigh impossible.

To explain, you need to find all items before facing the final boss. Which is mostly easy by exploring the game-world. However, one health expansion can only be earned by completing an obtusely hard mini-game. In my opinion, mastering that game enough to get the health expansion would be more difficult than finishing the entire game without getting hit once. Worse still, its not a bloody fun game.

Bloody Stupid Mini-Game: -10000 (-2 if you don't care about getting the "best ending")

In Conclusion:

If there is one game I would like to see a sequel for, not just because I liked it but also because I want to see it fulfill its promise, that game would be DC. While I will never reach the game's true ending, I was pleasantly surprised by how good the game is.

With very few games having flying protagonists, it was cool reigning terror on my enemies as Fireband. Too bad not many people experienced that feeling in the game's initial run.

Final: 40/50

*****************************************************************

"Tips"
1- First time fighting a boss, don't use potions.
2- Press start in the World Map to know where the levels are.
3- Don't bother with any potions other than Ginsing.
4- Don't waste money on spells..
5- If you must use spells, the only one that does anything is Death.
6- Don't try to beat that stupid mini-game, your time is worth much more.

"Next Game"

If you ever felt like you wanted to be part of the great evolutionary chain of some animal, then this game is for you. At #42, EVO: Search for Eden, is game that gives you the freedom of evolving a fish into something other than a fish, sparking hundreds of combinations that you can try.

Hopefully the game is as fun as the concept.

Stay Tuned

For Previous SNES game Reviews:

The List
Photo Photo Photo








For those reading one of my SNES review blogs for the first time, here is the basic concept:

"While the SNES was a constant presence in my childhood, I never had a large collection of games for it. In fact, many of the games I played I still don't know the names of. It wasn't until I say the uproar over Breath of Fire 6 that I knew I played Breath of Fire 1 in the SNES.

After reading the excellent top 100 SNES games list by IGN:

http://www.ign.com/top/snes-games

I decided to go back and play those 100 games and review them. Well, as I looked closer at the list, I realized that there are many genres that did not age well from the SNES (racing, sports) and many other genres that I am simply not good at (shmups, arcade shooters) and others that I need other players to play against for an accurate representation (fighters). Also, I played many of the more well known games such as Final Fantasy and Super Metroid."

We finished with the legacy reviews, so we are beginning with the reviews after my hiatus. Please feel free to give me advise on my reviews, as I always look for improvement.


Also, here are a number of extra rules for Destructoid:
-If you have any suggestion of a game that is not in the IGN list that I should review, please suggest it.
-Make a bet on each game to check whether Chris Charter played it or not.

Without further ado, here is:

48-Zombies Ate my Neighbors:

Year: 1993.
Genre: Run and Gun.
Publisher: Konami.
Developer: Lucas Arts.



First things first, I am changing my rating system to better rate different genres according to their own rules. It will still be from 50 quality points, but every title will start from 25 and earn/lose points according to criteria important to the titles and genres themselves.

It is no wonder that with such a box art, this game did not sell well. Not many game box arts represented the games themselves. That this terrible art actually manages to express the game thoroughly well is perhaps the secret behind both its commercial failure and its enduring cult statues.

Zombies Ate My Neighbors (ZAMN) manages to be a representative of all the experimental and downright weird games of the SNES era, and era where major powerhouses like Konami were OK taking risks. In some sense, ZAMN is a hilarious reflection of Horror B-Movie culture. In another, it is a prophetic satire of the current fixation of popular culture with zombies.

Unfortunately, while the game is revolutionary in its concept, it is not revolutionary in its execution.

"Save the Neighbors"

In each and every level in the game, the objective is to simply run around saving (collecting) the neighbors from the nightmarish creatures prancing around. Of course, these B-Mobie rejects will try hard to foil your well meaning effort. However, few if any of the game's normal enemies are threatening enough, not until middle of the game that the game becomes any challenge. From the top down preview ala Zelda, it becomes easy to navigate and look around for your objective, especially with a handy radar you could switch on.

Since every-level has the same basic objective, each of the supposed 55 levels are completed the same way. With the last neighbor you save, a handy exit pops up. Unfortunately, with the same basic objective in every level, and with little variety in the levels themselves, I found the game to get boring midway.

While each level is a different labyrinth, both the level design and neighbor placements (which are always the same) are quite underwhelming. Some levels inspired by ancient temples are examples of solid level design, but most other levels feel like a random take on a previous level put in to inflate the game's length.

It would of course be forgivable to repeat similar looking levels if there were gameplay nuances to each one. Yet, here is another area where ZAMN fall flat. Despite having a large number of items and weapons, as well as a decent variety of enemies, the gameplay in ZAMN basically asks you to run around and look for your neighbors as fast as you can.

Some challenge can be found in trying to win the game using the first 3 lives in what is basically a survival run. It asks the player to manage their resources well in order to conserve them for the harder stages. However, it is boredom that is most likely to be survived than the game itself.

Repetitive Levels: -4
Underwhelming Gameplay: -4
Potential for Survival Runs: +2

"Nightmare in Terror Street"

Puns like the latter on popular horror B-Movies is just a semblance of ZAMN's style. On closer analysis, it is one reason why the game gained such a cult following. Playing against enemies resembling Jason and Freddie all the while saving Cheerleaders and Toddlers have its own psychedelic charm.

Speaking of toddlers, one of the "boss" enemies in the game is a gigantic baby that squirts milk at you from his baby bottle. I cannot say I have had such conflicting feelings while playing against a boss as I did against big diaper boy here.

The graphical style of the game, which looks to be inspired by early 90's cartoons, homes in the satirical style of the game. With well detailed sprites and inspired design of American suburbia, the game does feel like a B-Movie parody. Yet, knowing how bad B-Movies are, it might be a straight adaptation of one as well.

B-Movie Homage Style:+3
Giant Baby Boss: +2



"Forty Feet of Terror In"

Assisting you with you thankless job against the B-Movie rejects is the multitude of supplies you could use against them. These are divided into weapons and items. While most Items are the usual fair of health items and decoy bombs usually found in Horde games, some items are unique and sometimes surprising. For instance, a rare potion transforms you into a Hulk-like beast for some time, however another potion (with a ? sign) might do anything from transforming you to said monster, to leaving you with one health bar. These items are scattered around in decent amounts, but a survival run would require care in their use.

Weapons are even more numerous than items. Ranging from your water machine gun, to Bazookas and Soda grenades. While the number of different weapons might suggest variety, the fact is that only four of them are of any use.

First, a large number of weapons actually behave similarly, and their damage output is pathetic considering the lag they induce when used. For instance, I could not find any difference between the Snow Cone, Football, and Cherry Bomb weapons. I rarely ever used them though, since they were outclassed by the simple Water Gun.

Second, the blast radius of the Soda Grenade makes it useless. Coupled with the difficulty in landing diagonal attacks, using it is more a hindrance than a help.

Third, since the game uses a scrolling inventory system, the useless weapons clog your selcetion making it difficult for you to quickly pick out your desired weapon.

In fact, I suggest anyone playing should only pick up Fire Hydrant, Bazookas, Lawn Blades, and the ever useful water gun.

Item Variety: +2
Weapon Variety is a Sham: -2

"Zombie Homecoming Dance in the Graveyard"

One area where the game consistently delivers is in its soundtrack. With tones inspired by shows such as the Adams Family and Scooby Doo, ZAMN manages to be aurally pleasant and atmospheric. Of course, the atmosphere is one of cartoonish horror and mysterious undertones.

While the soundtrack is not as large as it could have been, it manages to have no weak tracks, even if it doesn't have outstanding ones as well. Better still, the sound effects complement the music. Hearing the creepy moans of the Zombie hoard adds another layer to the creepy music of the neighborhood stages. The start up of Chainsaws add a frantic element to a calmer tune. All together, both sound departments did their job thoroughly well.

Music and Sound Design: +5

In Conclusion:

There are hardly more unique games than ZAMN, which explains its statues as a cult classic. However, most of this reputation is based on the special aesthetics of the game rather than its gameplay. While not mechanically deficient or broken, it does not inspire more than mild amusement. A fact that I wanted the game to end by the 25th level.

If the player is looking for a unique SNES experience, then it will be found here. However, it is not going to be a deep one except if Survival Runs, and I would hazard to guess that it won't be a fulfilling one for most. Even though, the prospect of facing off against a giant baby might be too tempting for some to pass by.

Final: 29/50

*****************************************************************

"Tips"
1- Use only the Weapons I suggested.
2- Conserve your Health packs till you get one hit left.
3- Conserve your keys.
4- Sometimes, you need to defeat "boss" enemies to get special keys.
5- Bazookas can be used to shred hedges and break some walls.
6- Lawn Blades are the only weapons capable of killing ground fungus.

"Next Game"

Many players who braved the famed Ghosts 'n Ghouls (Goblins) series probably recognize the Red Gargoyle enemy as the most obnoxious of them all. Apparently Capcom thought he was too obnoxious not to have a series of his own. The Red Ace manages to best his enemy in IGN's list by placing #44 in his game "Demon Crest".

Here is hoping it holds up to its parent series.

Stay Tuned

For Previous SNES game Reviews:

The List
Photo Photo








For those reading one of my SNES review blogs for the first time, here is the basic concept:

"While the SNES was a constant presence in my childhood, I never had a large collection of games for it. In fact, many of the games I played I still don't know the names of. It wasn't until I say the uproar over Breath of Fire 6 that I knew I played Breath of Fire 1 in the SNES.

After reading the excellent top 100 SNES games list by IGN:

http://www.ign.com/top/snes-games

I decided to go back and play those 100 games and review them. Well, as I looked closer at the list, I realized that there are many genres that did not age well from the SNES (racing, sports) and many other genres that I am simply not good at (shmups, arcade shooters) and others that I need other players to play against for an accurate representation (fighters). Also, I played many of the more well known games such as Final Fantasy and Super Metroid."

We finished with the legacy reviews, so we are beginning with the reviews after my hiatus. Please feel free to give me advise on my reviews, as I always look for improvement.


Also, here are a number of extra rules for Destructoid:
-If you have any suggestion of a game that is not in the IGN list that I should review, please suggest it.
-Make a bet on each game to check whether Chris Charter played it or not.

Without further ado, here is:

51-Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts:
Year: 1991.
Genre: Action Platformer.
Publisher: Capcom.
Developer: Capcom.



First things first, I am changing my rating system to better rate different genres according to their own rules. It will still be from 50 quality points, but every title will start from 25 and earn/lose points according to criteria important to the titles and genres themselves.

Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts (SGG) currently sits as the most difficult game in the SNES in Gamefaq's. It has a similar reputation around the internet, being well known as a difficult game. When looking back at games of the past known for their difficulty, an important aspect to consider is whether that difficulty was entirely due to dated checkpoint and saving system.

I pleasantly found SGG to offer plenty of lives and credits, while happily taking them away with a brutal but fair gameplay. While it is difficult to positively claim that SGG is the most difficult SNES game, it can easily be said that it is leading in the conversation. Equally, it can also be said that it is leading as one of the best Action-Platformers as well.

"Ready to go"

With a princess to save, demons to kill, ghouls to go over, and ghosts to avoid, SGG is a straightforward point A to point B game. With 7 levels to traverse and a final boss to kill, you only need to worry about is getting Arthur there.

Easier said than done.

SGG prides itself in being difficult, but it also prides itself in being fair. With simple two button mechanics to the game, everything you need to learn can easily be figured out in the first level. Most unique to SGG is the jump mechanic. In many games, changing the trajectory of the jump and its direction is commonplace. In SGG, like Castlevania, each jump is a commitment. The only alteration to the jump is the double jump which in itself is another commitment.

The trajectories are easy to read, and simple to figure out. It is then the player's fault entirely when they misjudge a leap and go out for a double jump when a long single one would have been better. Equally so, jumping into enemy projectiles without the reflexes to double jump away is another common mistake.

The first action many would do in the first level is double jump over a rock. This highlights how with minimum instructions, retro games managed to teach the players how to play. From the first level, the entire style of the game is obvious. Enemies will swarm you unintelligent. The level itself would try and kill you. After all, it would only take two hits to die, and your only solace is the hidden chests you may find.

Tight Mechanics: +5

"Underwear Knights of the Round Table Unite"

Arthur wears a particularly shoddy medieval armor, as it breaks from a single hit, resulting on the brave knight prancing around in his underwear. While the hilarity of killing demons and ghosts in your underwear is appreciated, a search for armor is a must.

Here is where the game's chest system comes into play. With these red chests hidden around the stages, only revealed by jumps or climbing ladders (sometimes something else) comes a lifeline. These chests offer weapons (more in that later), armor which upgrades each time you find one (still only gets one hit), and traps.

While the chests are absolutely vital for survival, I found their placement and the need to unearth them cumbersome and unnecessary. Beyond that minor complaint, they ultimately upgrade Arthur for further carnage in the battlefield.

Your regular silver armor first upgrades to green, which upgrades your weapon, and finally to Gold which gives you the ability to use useful magic. Still, getting hit would break the armor, further underlining the game's foremost objective, not getting hit.

While wearing your underwear, you are using the weakest version of your weapons while simultaneously being vulnerable to one hit kills and the lottery of the chest system. Therein lies the catch, in SGG not getting hit is the best way to ensure rapid success.

In order not to get hit, both careful study of the game and steady and smart reflexes are suggested. Here is where a number of pros would relish the challenge, as you see underwear runs, speed runs, and damage-less runs all around. Giving the game a longer life that it has.

Chest System: -2
Challenge: +5

"Lances for Love, Maces for Marriage"

With as many as 8 weapons to play with, there naturally would be tops and bottoms. You can use only one weapon at a time, and it changes by picking up other weapons from chest and/or enemy drops. Each weapon gets an upgraded form with the green armor, and a specific magic with the gold armor.

Surprisingly, I had fun playing with all of the weapons and found each useful in its own right, even the much maligned torch weapon. However, the upgraded form clearly shake things up, with the bow having the best upgraded form, and the axe being near useless. The gold armor introduces the ability to summon unlimited magic attack by charging up the attack button.

While most of the magic attacks are useful, the magic of the Axe does not excuse its terrible form, and the magic of the scythe is heads and shoulders above everything else. Also, summoning the magic gains Arthur a couple of invisibility frames which doubles up as a dodge mechanic.

Ultimately, what these weapons provide is variety in gameplay as well as the potential for specific weapon runs. However, due to an end game mechanic, you are stuck fighting the final boss with one of the more mundane weapons.

Weapon Variety: +4

"Take a key for coming in"

Each level ends with a boss fight who gives you a key the next level. A key suggests close proximity between the levels in terms of distance and hence in design. However, each level is pleasantly unique and fantastic.

From the first level onwards, the game's music and level design manages to cultivate a unique style for the game. And while the music is rarely top notch, the game's visual are among the best in the SNES. Despite the almost permanent black backdrop, the game manages to give each level not only its unique style but also a varying style within the level itself.

Take the second level for instance, where a quick romp through a haunted ship graveyard crescendos into a raging raft ride in the stormy sea. In this level, the waves first start in the background eventually reaching the foreground as the level ebbs and flows with the waves.

With a varying selection of stages, each unique and great in its own, the fifth level stand as one of the technical marvels of the SNES. Snow stages are almost a cliche in platformers, but it is a welcome cliche if the result is a level like the one in SGG where beautiful is as apt a description as any.

Visual Design: +5
Level 5: +2
Music: +3



"Not even you can defeat the fiend without the magic bracelet"

In what was by then a tradition of the series, the game does not end the first time around. Arthur reaches the fiend's HQ only to get a telepathic SMS from the princess stating that he could not hope to defeat the final boss without the special weapon she hid in the beginning.

Ergo, another trek across the game's 7 levels is necessary to beat the game. This is not bad in itself because SGG deserves to be played several times over. However, the lack of change in the game's second run through is disappointing. True, the difficulty is raised a little, however a simple change of enemy placement and/or mirroring the levels would have been much better.

Also, the game now forces you to beat the 7th level boss with the not so good bracelet weapon, which proves to be a pain in the neck. Finally, when faced with the final boss, he proves to be a formidable but ultimately boring boss with a disappointing theme.

At least the credits were hilarious and completely worth it. You even get the princess measurements in the credit (Arthur does not have an excuse when shopping for her now).

Second time same as the first: -3
Boring Final Boss: -2
Funny Credits:+1

In Conclusion:

If you can learn to master the game, and hence be able to mange its difficulty, SGG can be one of the most rewarding experiences for any gamer. It is a game with a unique style, that introduces the princess with her measurement sizes in the credits screen. That flaunts Arthur's underwear like a champ, and that unabashedly asks you to end the game twice in order to get the credits.

While the original SNES version asked you to do so in one go, any emulator can be used as a save function and allows players to beat the game at their leisure. Now, there is no excuse not to try this game out, as it is a must play title for any gaming fan.

Final: 43/50

*****************************************************************

"Tips"
1- Learn how to use the double jump extensively.
2- Using magic gives you a couple of invincibility frames.
3- Try out the weapons to see which you like most.
4- Jump a lot to look for chests.
5- Second time over, don't forget you need to beat the level 7 boss with the bracelet.

"Next Game"

With Zombies being a constant presence in both popular culture and videogames, it is surprising to find them relegated to RPG exp fodder in the SNES generation. However, one game was a pioneer of its time and a precursor to the current fascination for zombies. In #48, the hilariously named Zombies Ate My Neighbor is a father to the current trend.

Stay Tuned

For Previous SNES game Reviews:

The List
Photo Photo








For those reading one of my SNES review blogs for the first time, here is the basic concept:

"While the SNES was a constant presence in my childhood, I never had a large collection of games for it. In fact, many of the games I played I still don't know the names of. It wasn't until I say the uproar over Breath of Fire 6 that I knew I played Breath of Fire 1 in the SNES.

After reading the excellent top 100 SNES games list by IGN:

http://www.ign.com/top/snes-games

I decided to go back and play those 100 games and review them. Well, as I looked closer at the list, I realized that there are many genres that did not age well from the SNES (racing, sports) and many other genres that I am simply not good at (shmups, arcade shooters) and others that I need other players to play against for an accurate representation (fighters). Also, I played many of the more well known games such as Final Fantasy and Super Metroid."

We finished with the legacy reviews, so we are beginning with the reviews after my hiatus. Please feel free to give me advise on my reviews, as I always look for improvement.


Also, here are a number of extra rules for Destructoid:
-If you have any suggestion of a game that is not in the IGN list that I should review, please suggest it.
-Make a bet on each game to check whether Chris Charter played it or not.

Without further ado, here is:

[b]73- Joe & Mac 2: Lost in the Tropics
[/b]
Year: 1994.
Genre: Action Adventure.
Publisher: Data East.
Developer: Data East.



First things first, I am changing my rating system to better rate different genres according to their own rules. It will still be from 50 quality points, but every title will start from 25 and earn/lose points according to criteria important to the titles and genres themselves.

Of all genres on the SNES, RPGs and platformers (in all their sub types) are abundant in quality titles. With that taken into consideration, any game in the genre requires something special to stand out among the crowd.

From the first look, Joe & Mac 2 (J&M) appears to stand out. It has some of the best animation of its time, and the beautiful backgrounds and suitable Stone Age music are a considerable plus. However, the first look proves to be deceiving as the game shows its several shortcomings.

"Caveman steel crown, other caveman smashes skull"

The king of Evil cavemen, who all look suitably evil with their unkempt facial hair, steal some powerful crown from Joe and Mac's home village. Naturally, the two (one if your playing alone) goes to a journey in order to retrieve the crown.

Being set in the Stone Age, everyone's favorite over-sized reptiles make an appearance as both enemies and allies. Also, the two titular cavemen wield the classic caveman club as they traverse the suitably Jurassic levels in the game.

Immediately, it is obvious the design and animation guys did well in the game. The sprite design, while nothing special, is splendidly animated. For instance, your character yawns while idle when in a jungle stage, but shivers with cold in the ice stage. As for the levels themselves, they are varied in design from the already mentioned jungle level to swamps and the compulsory volcanic stage. In fact, the level backgrounds are some of the most detailed and best backgrounds I have seen in the SNES.

Visual Design: +5



"Pre-Historic Gameplay"

With both the action and the platforming being sub-par, J&M exposes itself its loose ends quickly by the time you reach the third stage. After repeatedly mashing the attack button to dispatch nonthreatening foes, and jumping over obstacles that are equivalent to mere puddles in the road, you realize that the game is not measuring up to its design.

True, the game tries to introduce some elements unique to the levels such as Ice and perma-death lava. However, these elements hardly change anything as neither would require much thinking from the player. Indeed, all of the game besides the final level (which is a completely different problem) can be completed on auto-pilot.

A perfect illustration of the fact is the dinosaurs you can ride in some levels. They are as if an afterthought of development. Unlike the animal companions in a game like Donkey Kong or Kirby 3, they disappear after the first hit. However, their most terrible offense is being ultimately terrible to play, as they offer nothing more than a free hit and a poor projectile attack which is both unneeded and less reliable than the upgraded club you find in some levels. In fact, the whole game seems to resent these moments as the worst (and only bad) music of the game plays when you ride one of those dinosaurs.

[i]Sub-par Gameplay: -5[/i]
[i]Terrible Dino Companions:-2[i/]

"Yaba daba done!!"

While some games can stake the claim of being done before the player gets bored from the game, J&M2 finishes before the player even realizes he is bored. So short is the game that it seems ridiculous not to find some secret after-world.

In a previous review, I said that the short length of terrible games is a blessing in disguise, but J&M2 is not such a terrible game, and its length is not at all forgivable. While some other games might have a challenging aspect to them that encourages experimentation and the search fro perfection, there is no such thrill to be found here.

Since the game offers mediocre gameplay, the best reason to play the game is seeing what outlandish Jurassic levels the design teams are going to do next. That it all boils down to 8 levels is fit for an Arcade coin sink, and not an SNES title at all.

What adds insult to injury is the final level in the game, which takes the Mega Man final level trope and butchers it. Despite starting with a brilliantly designed stage in the midst of a thunderstorm, the developers apparently run out of time and just threw all the bosses at you. Not only do you fight those uninteresting gigantic lizards again, but you do so without regaining health between fights. It is a complete contrast of the easygoing game, and actually forces you to readjust your whole gameplan to finish the game. Alas, when you think you are done with all the bosses, it turns out there is a final boss you need to fight as well. Guess what? You don't get any health before that as well.

Short: -5
Schizophrenic Final Level:-3

"Primeval beats extravaganza"

Taking a page from the design team, the game's composer goes to great length to give us a soundtrack that is at once fun and pre-historic. The synthesizer does a great job in producing several songs each exciting and fitting the stage.

In the ice level, the music contains hints of jingle sounds amidst primeval drums and horns, while the volcano level has more fast paced beats with a focus on the horns. One thing that is common between all the tracks is the energy they inspire, which is a direct contrast to the lethargic mechanics of the game itself.

A high note is the boss music, which makes the somewhat timid affairs the climax they are supposed to be. Yet, should be said that there are not many tracks in the game owing to its short length, which is a shame judging from what we hear in the game.

Music: +5

In Conclusion:

With the platformer genre and sub-genres being as strong as they are in the SNES, there is little reason to play games like J&M2. Which is a shame given the stellar design of the game. Yet, even its colorful well crafted facade cannot disguise the lackluster core of the game.

True, J&M2 is not an awful game, but when there are much better games and very little time, we realize that "not awful" is not a good indicator of what we choose to spend out time on.

Final: 20/50

*****************************************************************

"Tips"
1- Don't bother with the dino companions.
2- Look for the club upgrades, which are difficult to miss.
3- Don't get hit at all in the final level, not once, save it for the last fight.
4- Buying flowers at the shop lets you marry a girl if she likes the flowers.
5- Whether she does is completely random.

"Next Game"

Back in the SNES era, there were games that were brutallu difficult even in those standards. Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts at #51 is the game I am reviewing next, and it is supposed to be one of those games.

As such, my next review might never come, at which case know that Ghouls 'n Ghosts is still torturing me as I shall try to finish it, comes what may come.

Stay Tuned

For Previous SNES game Reviews:

The List
[/i]
Photo Photo








For those reading one of my SNES review blogs for the first time, here is the basic concept:

"While the SNES was a constant presence in my childhood, I never had a large collection of games for it. In fact, many of the games I played I still don't know the names of. It wasn't until I say the uproar over Breath of Fire 6 that I knew I played Breath of Fire 1 in the SNES.

After reading the excellent top 100 SNES games list by IGN:

http://www.ign.com/top/snes-games

I decided to go back and play those 100 games and review them. Well, as I looked closer at the list, I realized that there are many genres that did not age well from the SNES (racing, sports) and many other genres that I am simply not good at (shmups, arcade shooters) and others that I need other players to play against for an accurate representation (fighters). Also, I played many of the more well known games such as Final Fantasy and Super Metroid."

We finished with the legacy reviews, so we are beginning with the reviews after my hiatus. Please feel free to give me advise on my reviews, as I always look for improvement.


Also, here are a number of extra rules for Destructoid:
-If you have any suggestion of a game that is not in the IGN list that I should review, please suggest it.
-Make a bet on each game to check whether Chris Charter played it or not.

Without further ado, here is:

[b]71- Jungle Strike:
[/b]
Year: 1993.
Genre: Helicopter Tactical Shooter.
Publisher: EA.
Developer: Gremlin Interactive.



First things first, I am changing my rating system to better rate different genres according to their own rules. It will still be from 50 quality points, but every title will start from 25 and earn/lose points according to criteria important to the titles and genres themselves.

The Helicopter tactical shooters can be viewed as the adoptive parents of the military shooters of today. With the technical capabilities of the early generations being unable to imitate the tactical nuances of war in any degree of realism, there were several games that put you in modern warfare in the role of a vehicle commander.

It is then fitting that one of the front names of the military shooter today was also the publisher of this game. EA is responsible for the publication of the "Strike" franchise, starting from Desert Strike to its sequel Jungle Strike and beyond.

"Ladies and gentlemen, the White House is under attack"

Not hiding behind any subtle intrigue or shadowy conspiracies, the game's villain attack the White House from the beginning of the game with the subtlety and good grace of a jack hammer. Of course, there needs to be no explanation of how these terrorists managed to transport such a huge army into the U.S capital. Indeed, the game's narrative requires a suspension of belief akin to that of watching B movies.

I would say that the "B movie" tag is what the writers of the game were aiming for. From the hilarious name of your enemy, Ibn Kilbaba, to the even more hilarious cameo of Bill Clinton apologizing for cutting the defense budget (I guess that explains the enemy's presence in DC). Of course, you are the captain of the the helicopter that would save America and the world from certain doom.

With only little help from others, the player commanding a single helicopter armed with various weapons will save America from an enemy equipped with more nuclear weapons than Soviet Union. This fact is hilariously mirrored by the dialogue between Ibn Kilbaba and his minions, utter disbelief that a single helicopter can cause them so much damage. While not a focus in the game itself, the writing and the story behind the game is funny and well written.

[i]
Story and Dialogue: +3[/i]

"Three, two, one,......fire"

Commanding a helicopter, you would naturally expect different moving patterns than what you are used to in other games. Indeed, the helicopter moves with momentum, making turns more elaborate and targeting less precise. Also, you have the ability to strife, giving extra accuracy to your movements while limiting your line of fire.

Once you get the hang of controlling your chopper, you will find it natural and rewarding. Being able to master more complex tricks in the air such as 360 turns to avoid missiles, and strife duals against other helicopter is very rewarding.

Armed with three weapons (guns, missiles, and rockets) you have several avenues of attack provided for. You can either go with a combination or opt to conserve one ammunition at the expense of others. The limitation of ammunition and gas as well adds another layer of strategy to the gameplay and movments. While ammo and fuel is abundant in the levels (you can pick them up by a winch), they are still waiting to be found.

Hence the tactical element in the game. With ammunition, health, and fuel to worry about, you are forced to conserve your moves and look for optimal results. Some levels have more supplies, and other levels require more conservation. Regardless, this constant need for supplies adds a different level of challenge to the game, one that does make it more fun.

Movement: +4
Gameplay: +4

"Level 7"

With such a solid base for the experience, you would rarely feel the game to be cheap or insurmountable, even in the difficult yet fair final stage. However, in the 7th level, the game fro some reason abandons all of its solid base to offer what perhaps might be the worst gaming experience I have ever encountered.

While the helicopter is your main vehicle in Jungle Strike, the game offers you three other vehicles to ride in the course of the game. Two of those control similarly to the chopper and offer some variety. However, the third one which you use in level 7 is an abomination.

You would be forgiven to think that piloting a stealth bomber would be a fun ride. However, Jungle Strike's interpretation of the act is an inaccurate hunk of metal that cannot but move forward with constant speed. It would not be a problem if the objectives in the level did not resolve around shooting such small targets that you would need to attempt it several hundred times.

In the game itself, your co-pilot locks on enemy targets, such as tanks and enemy towers. However, objects such as ammo crates and buildings cannot be locked on. This issue is of little importance when commanding the helicopter because it allows to hover while shooting in the objects immediate area hoping of contact. Yet, in the stealth bomber, which cannot hover, it is inexcusable that many of the level's objectives ask you to shoot at small targets you cannot lock-on to. Perfectly inexcusable.

Level 7: -5

"I want the jungle vermin to feed on his charred remains"

True to the game's name, most of the levels are in jungle terrain, and hence most opportunities for your enemy to kill you would be in the jungles of South America. It is the appropriate that the titular jungles are the best rendered of all levels in the game. Well, that is actually not true, the jungle levels are not the "best" rendered levels of the game, they are the only levels with decent rendering at all.

While each level has varied objectives, they each blend together boringly in terms of design with the mentioned exception of the Jungle levels. However, all of them sound the same. The sound of a complete lack of music.

I cannot fathom a game that only has about 3-4 soundtracks. All of your playtime would be in complete silence as the there is no music in the game. It cannot be said that the omission is entirely bad, because a terrible soundtrack would have been worse that the silence, and judging from the 3 tracks in the game, any soundtrack would have been terrible.

While the lack of music is excusable, and the mundane graphics are tolerable, the lack of tactical feedback in the game is downright annoying. With no way to track your position in the map or even your ammo/fuel/health count without pressing select, you are forced to pause the game constantly to look at the map. Hence, a slow paced game is made even slower by a constant need to reaffirm your location in a mundane looking stage.

Design: -6



"The Intangibles"

With the many flaws of the game so apparent, and the abominable level 7 nearly causing me to leave the game, I was surprised by how much fun I was having playing the game. Many games somehow different than the sum of their parts, and Jungle Strike is one that is greater than the sum of its parts.

There is a certain joy in the ability to completely obliterate your enemies efficiently and with optimal results. With enough skill, there is a feeling of invulnerability in your movements as you are able to complete objective after objective with maximum health.

I should be upset at the things the game does wrong, but I find myself too happy about the things it does right to care. Simply put, the game is worth it only for those who fall in love with its gameplay, but those who fall in love with its gameplay will appreciate it a lot.

Intangible Game Design: +5

In Conclusion:

Jungle Strike is game difficult to recommend. And I find that a suitable conclusion is in the previous section.

Final: 30/5

*****************************************************************

"Tips"
1- Look at the map a lot.
2- Use rockets with conservation.
3- Just skip Level 7, here is the password for level 8: CRW1FF23C0S#

"Next Game"

The game I will be reviewing next is the Flinstone's inspired Joe & Mac 2 at #61. We already reviewed another similarly named game in Pocky & Rocky 2. Also, I did not know cavemen had such boring regular names as Joe and Mac.

Stay Tuned

For Previous SNES game Reviews:

The List
Photo Photo