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About
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:

Badges
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:

17- Super Punch-Out!!:
Year: 1994.
Genre: Boxing Simulator.
Publisher: Nintendo.
Developer: Nintendo.
 

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 original Punch-Out had the novelty of having boxing's most famous ear-eater in its title cover, which contributed as both a selling point and excuse for making the game. If a sequel was never released, few would be surprised. The original game summed up the "noble" sport of boxing into a deceptively simple dual system, and did not have much in terms of either variety or action to back it up.

Yet, the game's limited mechanics proved to be amazingly deep, and the competition that fought your Little Mac besides Tyson himself were all colorful and unique. As such, Punch-Out developed a cult following and was loved by many who tried it. Little Mac fought the odd and became more than the tech demo he started out as.

Then, in the SNES comes the Super Punch-Out. It drops Mike Tyson from the title, but it brings everything back from the original and changes little from it. In that sense, Super Punch-Out is a game that you will either love or not care for at all. If the limited nature of the game bothers you, you won't be able to enjoy its deep combat system. However, for those among you who are thrilled by the idea of applying your wits in the mat, and fighting against all the odds. Then, this game is for you.

"Now let's get this show on the road"

The title follows little Mac's attempt at winning the world championship. At least, I think its little Mac. Both his face and coloring morphed into something very different, and Doc is nowhere to be seen. Despite these minor discontinuities, the rest of the cast features the trademark loonies impersonating as professional boxers.

When the first boxer you fight against looks like a senile old man who just escaped a nursing home, your should realize that you are not fighting your regular boxing game fare. Featuring such characters as a Mad Clown, a Bruce Lee impersonator, and two semi-clone brothers, Punch-Out does bring back its trademark ridiculousness.

These boxers have a tendency to break all rules. Expect a flying dragon kick from Bruce Lee, and being hit with a staff from Miyagi-san. Each character also comes with their unique special moves, which range from the aforementioned kicks to spits and bear hugs.

However, judging from the past, the characters in Super Punch-Out are less iconic than those of the Mike Tyson's Punch-Out. While most of the boxers you fight are fun, both their quotes and overall design feels less cutting than the first game.

Punch-Out Craziness: +4
Less Iconic than Predecessor: -2

"Do you have the rhythm?"

In boxing, and in fighting games in general, there is always a mindgame going on between the two. Every move invites a counter move, and it becomes a matter of both analyzing and guessing what your opponent does. Purely reacting is slow and disadvantageous, and stupidly lashing out will only invite a quicker defeat.

The gameplay in Punch-Out takes the mindgames in boxing and makes a whole game of it. You can guard high and low for face and body punches respectively. Also, you can dodge left and right as well as duck. Your opponents can also defend themselves in the same way.

As for offensive play, you can punch right or left, high or low. However, these punches won't do much damage to your enemies. Connecting with an attack fills up your super meter, which allows you to use various special attacks that do most of the work. With the important caveat that if you are hit, the super gauge depletes, adding insult to injury.

Thus, the match evolves into a chess match between you and your opponent. Not only do you need to hit him enough to cause some damage as well as fill up your super meter, but you also need to protect yourself from their assaults in order to be in any shape to fight.

Here is where the hidden brilliance of Super Pinch-Out shines through. Each animation is a tell for you. Your opponent shows you exactly what they are doing, whether its guarding high or low, or initiating an attack. Thus, you should study your opponent and see when and how to defend.

He is punching you in the right, punch first in the left. Or dodge and give him some quick jabs on the jaw. Or just go with a body face body face combo. There are many ways to victory, and the more you understand of the system the better your results would be. Bait your opponent to react, or simply defend long enough to get a power boost that will help you completely decimate them.

In addition to their regular montage of punches and uppercuts, your opponents also have their special abilities as well. Almost always triggered by a telling jig or through orders from their coach, these special abilities are usually devastating if not dodged.

This only combines to create a system that rewards tactics and strategy above simple button mashing, which won't even get you through the first circuit. Little Mac is a smaller opponent, and he needs smarts more than brawn to defeat the competition.

This competition is divided in four circuits featuring four boxers each. But these circuits are also accompanied by an excellent Time Attack mode that invites perfecting each fight. I have not reached this level yet, but almost all fights can end in less than 10 seconds, and some can be ended with a one hit KO.

Excellent Fighting System: +5
Deceptive Depth: +5
Time Attack Mode: +2

"I have lost so many times I forgot how winning feels"

We only talked about the combat system with the assumption that you managed to understand it. However, I couldn't unlock all its secrets even after putting 20 hours into it. Patience might not be inherent in your gameplay style, and if so, a sudden rash decision could leave you down for the count.

Even in the first circuit, these guys won't have any mercy. Any mistake is easily punished, and every punch is a commitment that can be a mistake.

For many players, it might be too difficult getting pummeled to get anything from the fight. Not even figuring out precious visual and style ques. This can be alleviated by approaching the game as if a spectator, and just try and get as much information of the fighter as you can get. Simply play defensively and only occasionally land a jab.

In Punch-Out, you need to carefully study your opponents to beat them, and once you master one boxer, fighting them is simply an exercise in shortening your time. You might finish the game the first time with epic stories of comebacks, or long fights, but by the end of your time with the game, you should find the fights becoming easier and easier.

Unforgiving if you don't know how to approach it: -2


"Had your goodnight kiss?"

By now, you should have realized that much of the game's charm, as well as its gameplay system, heavily depends on how the game looks. A tell is only a tell if it can be easily viewed and distinguished after all. And here is where Super-Punch Out delivers in spades.

Perhaps one of the most visually advanced sprites in the SNES, each of the game's 16 fighters convey both in animation and art style their entire technique and personality. When Bruce Lee's impersonator prepares for a dragon kick, he leaps from side to side and lungs at you with his feet. If you were hit by that, you simply were not paying attention. Less elaborate moves are just as simply telegraphed, with each arm exactly showing how the punch is going to be delivered, and each body movement showing where to best attack.

Besides its functional requirements, the graphics show us the personality and ridiculousness of the cast in ways not feasible otherwise. Though some characters are palette swaps of each other, each character showcases their personality through both their dress style and animation. From the eccentric movements of Heike Kagero to the chill moves of Bob Charlie.

Unfortunately, the music doesn't do as well as the graphics at all. With a limited selection of music, and no track standing out at all, this is terrible for Nintendo SNES standards. I even find the music of the original Punch-Out to be better overall.

If the audio ques weren't that important, this would be one of the few games I wouldn't mind listing to my iPod while playing. Listening to eye of the tiger while fighting Aran Ryan would have been a perfect fight.

Music: -4
Graphical Design: +4
Animation: +5


In Conclusion:

Super Punch-Out is a game you will either love, or one that you will simply not care off. With a simple premise, it shouldn't be easy to know how you feel about it. For those who do fall in love with the game, they might want to just finish it and move on, or sink countless hours perfecting their craft and reducing each opponent into a shell of their former selves.

With boundless depth, and the charm to stand out, Super Punch-Out is an SNES Classic. If only it had better music.

Final: 42/50

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


"Tips"

1- Know thyself and know thy enemy.
2- Don't button mash, and don't panic.
3- A missed opportunity is better than getting counter attacked.
4- Being in power mode is not an automatic invisibility period.
5- Left jabs are your fastest attack.
6- Super punches come in various forms.
7- Attempt higher level tactics in Time Attack Mode.
8- Also try to knock your opponent down with a special punch, it will give you more time to recover some stamina.

"Next Game"

Everyone reading this will either get why Super Punch-Out is #17 in the list, or be amazed that it is. With very different games, we often get such divided reception. For me, it deserves a top 20 spot but only marginally.

For the next game, I am jumping all the way to #13, where I am going to play the famous cult hit Earthbound. With such hype, I am both excited and guarded going in. Here is hoping it lives up to what I have been reading about it.

Stay Tuned


For Previous SNES game Reviews:

The List

For More Screenshots:

http://www.mobygames.com/game/super-punch-out/screenshots

Photo Photo Photo







Lord Spencer
12:49 PM on 02.18.2015

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:

19- ActRaiser:
Year: 1991.
Genre: Action Platformer/ God Game.
Publisher: Enix.
Developer: Quintet
 

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.

ActRaiser is one of the more unique games in the SNES library. Half a traditional Action Platformer, and half a god genre simulator, its a game that surprised many in the early life of the console. Also, it acts as the spiritual inspiration to Enix and Quintet's creation trilogy which features the excellent Terranigma.

There is no doubt about ActRaise being an important game. However, outside its unique gameplay and influence, we find it a a difficult game to assess. Taken on its own merits, I understand player's love for the game, and yet I find many ways in which it is lacking.

By no means a bad game, and actually one I would recommend playing. Yet, ActRaiser does not reach enough to be one of the SNES's timeless classics. Instead, it reaches just enough for us to wish for a sequel that never truly was.

"Master, your people are waiting for your salvation"

Before succumbing to US censorship, The Master who is your playable character was more clearly referred to as God, or kamisama in Japanese. Other than that name change for your main character, and the head demon who is no longer Satan, it is obvious that you are a god in the game.

As god to the people of this land, you are required to defeat the monsters that plague them and help them develop their cities. This constitutes running around as a statue (possessed by you) defeating enemies and bosses, thus clearing the land for human habitation. Afterwards, you control your trusty angel and help this newly found human settlement to expand against all odds. Finally, their expansion will trigger some event which will demand you go in again as a statue and face the town's boss.

Every "level" in the game will follow this formula.

However, you are not locked into rails once you visit a city, and you can easily switch between cities and finish them in a somewhat non-linear order. I say somewhat because the advantages offered by one city might be pivotal to seriously advance in another. Also, as more people grow and the cities develop, you gain levels and also some magic points.

Other than the obvious novelty of playing as a god, the plot rarely delves deeper than the monsters you are killing over and over. Yet, we see glimpses of intelligent remarks about human nature and religion. While the story of most towns is an uninspired tale, one settlement actually stops worshiping you and start worshiping the demons. It wasn't required for me, and actually set me up quite a bit, but I launched and earthquake against them before I proceeded to cut the fool they bowed down to instead of me.

Unique Gameplay: +3
Unique Premise: +4


"Let us work towards peace"

With two modes of play, ActRaiser is a game that feels fresh by variation, not by the depth of its gameplay. Indeed, both the action and simulation segments lack a certain polish but are satisfactorily addictive. The process of preparing a settlement, helping it grow, then liberating it from a boss might be formulaic, but is oddly satisfying.

The action segments are straightforward Action Platforming, with solid jumps and the ability to duck. Neither the enemies or the levels themselves demand much attention from the player, and the ability to summon some magic spells should be saved for bosses. Nothing fancy, but nothing special either.

As for the unique attraction of the game, the god simulation aspect, it doesn't quite deliver a really unique experience. You control your angel sidekick, who shoots arrows at the monsters who are attacking the town. Also, you can direct the building direction of the town as well as help them around with miracles. In theory, it should be more interesting that it really is, but the game is somewhat limited with it. For instance, shooting the enemies with arrows is mostly busy work, and the miracles are rarely used. For instance, on city wants you to use rain to get rid of the desert around them, another asks you to melt the snow with the sun. Few cities ask for combinations of these miracles, and the whole process seems like an extended loading screen.

Both modes are fun, but neither are particularly well-made. In fact, it is the combination of the two modes that saves them from being too harshly judged on their own. Essentially, the game holds on for a first play-through but the lack of any complexity and the linear style of gameplay works against replayability.

Modes are Lacking: -3
Variety Helps: +2
Replayability: -2


"Create Order From Chaos"

In the last few games I played, I was treated to some really good boss battles, and the trend continues with ActRaiser. Even though the action part is not that deep or engaging, the bosses themselves demand your best use of it. Equally slug-fests and pattern based battles, each boss plays differently and is engaging. Their fantastic design only adding more to the battles. Unfortunately, the boss battles are only found in action segments, as the simulation game offers no big bad boys to take care off.

One thing I found weird however is how magic completely obliterates some bosses, to the level that using it feels somewhat cheap. Similar to the way a Robot Master's health plummet after being hit by a weakness in some Mega Man games, and Ice Dragon's cry of anguish as a third of his health bleeds out after a magic attack is not at all awe inspiring.

Unfortunately, this aspect probably balanced for the final stage only, where we get a disappointing boss-battle Marathon. Only in such a marathon would you need to conserve magic instead of blasting the boss with it from the onset. It is disappointing that the final level is only a boss marathon, and is only made worse by lackluster final stage design (consisting of only one cool background image).

Good Boss Battles: +4
Disappointing Final Level: -2


"In the haunted land of Dearth"

One thing I noticed in Quintet games is their clean graphics and simple yet effective animation, which is followed through in ActRaiser. Obviously, the game demands two graphical styles, and the larger sprite work of the action sequences is much better than the overhead look of the God simulation parts. Each level has its own unique look, as well as its set of enemies. And other than the disappointing final level, the graphical design of each stage is unique and personable.

One aspect that is never disappointing is the boss designs, which are varied and suitably menacing. Being a God game, I was delighted to see the design of bosses taking a lot from religious myths and superstitions.

Not taking any inspiration from the spectacular graphical design of the game, the soundtrack is one of very few tracks. Consequently, what tracks there is grow to be tiresome because they feel juxtaposed into unrelated scenes, and you see a huge lost opportunity in track variation.

For instance, all the simulation parts have the same theme, which might as well be non-existent. Having a different theme or just a basic remix for each city is another way to give those cities some personality. Music is a storyteller's tool, and its not used at all in ActRaiser.

Music: -3
Graphical Design: +5


In Conclusion:

There is a class of games that introduce characters, concepts, and all around provide a solid infrastructure for future great games without being great themselves. Take the first Crash Bandicoot game and compare it to the second one. ActRaise introduces us to this great concept, and it just can't pull it off. It does however show that a sequel that irons its creases can be truly wonderful.

Unfortunately, ActRaiser 2 went into an all together different direction, and as a result we are forced to deal with the first game as the single culmination of a great idea. We realize that this game is a unique gym that should be cherished, but we really wish they went to the same mine again.

Final: 38/50

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


"Tips"

1- Use the shooting star magic.
2- Earthquakes destroy the entire city, so use them before building anything.
3- Lives restart each stage.
4- Magic Points don't refill when you lose a life.
5- Search around the levels for health and more Magic Points.
6- For maximizing your level, keep a monster lair active in the city and farm the monsters as they spawn.

"Next Game"

As a game on its own merit, I wouldn't put ActRaiser in the top 20. However, as a game that is the inspiration of the really solid creation trilogy, I see the rational in doing so.

My next game is a story of underdog vs. the world, none other than Super Punch-Out!! which sits at number 17.

Stay Tuned


For Previous SNES game Reviews:

The List

For More Screenshots:

http://www.mobygames.com/game/snes/actraiser/screenshots

Photo Photo Photo








So, they say The Order (random numbers in the 18hundreds) is 5.5 hours long. Since that is nearly as much as a defective Viagra pill would cause your junk to stand up, I see how it brings forth bad memories from gamers.

The game is too short.

But its short of what exactly? Length. Chris Carter argued that there could be value in a short game, just as there could be vlaue in a longer game. Value however is a loaded word that means very little. Is value in a game 60 bucks worth? Hell, that is a movie and two lap dances, or it could be paying for your college degree that you are never going to use. For a bloody prince, value is in the time he could have spent playing another game (or more lickely getting some lap dances).

Taking one part of a game, its length, and not looking at its other merits is just ignoring the myriad of factors we know of game design.

Think of games like you are purchasing a didlo for your sex-starved mate (or yourself). It is not only about length (no one likes a long limp penis). Perhapes no dildo can have the three pillars of length, girth, and stamina. But you the consumer should realize what is your prefrence, and shop accordingly.

Here is a guide to how.

Length:

As somone who had been reviewing SNES games for a while now, this is one aspect where I found historical records to show great disparity. The ancient gamers of the 1990 were not familiar with how long a game can get. RPGs and Nintendo games probably the only games that repeatedly clocked over 12 hours.

Howver, most didn't know their games were so short. They had no skills unbottening bras, and zippers were mad of rusty iron. By the time they managed to get down to buisness, they already relaxed and couldn't judge how long their now flacid penis is.

The games got longer with age, but better zipper material and the invention of the clasp Bra gave us better impressions of length.

Here is where things get a little hairy (or actually less hairy). The rise of the Ubisoft school of derivative design makes game longer. Ass creed can be finished in less than 10 hours easily, but all the optional derivateve stuff that is crammed into it makes it longer. According to medicine, those penis extensions they try and sell you when you are at your other tabs do not make it more pleasurable.

Sorry for anyone who bought it.

Girth:

In my humble opinion, here is where a game makes it or breaks it. A good game simply demands its money. It can be the sweet release in a midsummer night, or the marathon orgies of Gommorah, you know you want it.

For some, they might feel a lengthier game better suited for their empty wallets, but a game with real girth demands replays. In the arguments in the Chris Carter piece, Metal Gera Revengance is often cited as a short game with a lot of replaybility. Bayonetta 2 and the Winderful 101 are shortish games with calls for mastery.

You see, these monsters want to be fondled, want to be mastered. It is not enough to have a qick stroke and finish, you need to explore its nether regions, even have a tickle here or there.

From what we know, the Order might still be such a game. So don't jump the ship just because of some sneak peak. As George Costanza would always say, you must account for shrinkage.

Know where your game was

Stamina:

Here is what the rowdy boys care about, all the orgying with friends, and that multiplayer bullshit. When you have a worthy dildo, its all about how long you can use it without getting bored. For me, I personally like to sleep around and rarely stay on one brothel long enough. But there are games that have the girth and the stamina to keep even me intrested (Super Smash Forever).

Stamina is more like a supporting trait, but is now slowely being introduced as the sole component (Titanfall, Destiny) in games. Not as important as girth IMO, but to each their fetishs.

Uhmmmmmm

Conclusion:

I clearly present the strngest argument for Girth, but then, I don't have problems paying retail for most of what I want. Which is why this trio is solely dependent on your own satchel. Which is why I reitiate Mr. Carter's argument for customer choice.

Knowing all you do about a game, you should be able to decide on your purchase. No one is jumping to your bedroom at knoght and shoving that London Wereworl 1886 model on you. Which is why feelings of outrage against what is basically a product is somewhat wierd.

I hope you enjoyed this out-of-character blog, and please share your favorite, uhm, toys with us.

Here is last year's games with greatest Girth:

-Bayonetta 2: The lady that can shove us all, this is on game that I see myself replaying agains and again.

-DKC Tropical Freeze: I am yet to get everything this game challanges me to, but I will keep on tying.

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:

21- Super Castlevania IV:
Year: 1991.
Genre: Action Platformer.
Publisher: Konami.
Developer: Konami.
 

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.

In 1997, the history of Castlevania changed drastically. The release of Symphony of the Night ushered in the age of the "Metroidvania". It had so much effect on the franchise that basically most games after it followed the same format. For many younger gamers, they had little knowledge of Castelvania's past as a straightforward Action Platformer.

The dual identity of the franchise can clearly be seen in the post and pre SotN games. While the "Metroidvania" focuses on exploration, and has some light RPG elements strewn in, the older games focused on providing solid Action and an atmospheric adventure.

Super Castlevania IV is the best of that bunch.

"On a dark and eerie night, Dracula rose from his grave..."

Starting the game, you get the feeling that the village sent its biggest dweeb as a sacrifice to Dracula. Simon Belmont seems very inadequate as a hero: he walks slowly, jumps with no conviction, gets bullied around easily, and you don't think a whip is going to cut it. Also, he wears what I think are pantaloons.

Facing this unfortunate hero, we get every manner of evil imaginable in the game. Skeleton soldiers throw bones at you, the stages are riddled with traps, bosses are not a joke, and those Medusa heads. Oh god, those damned Medusa heads. To top it off, you can't cancel your jumps, and any heat launches you backward. So, if you had one shot at that boss and you were at full health, kiss you chance goodbye if he hits you within a ledge.

Death after death, you slowly begin to doubt the success of your mission. Then, you get it. Simon no longer feels like a dweeb. You start to understand precession he needs to fight. Flailing your whip like an idiot will not do anything. Waiting, and striking at the optimal time is key. A Medusa head flies towards you in it oscillating fashion, looking at you with hat, snakes riling in its head. Wait for it just before it reaches your whip range, and then...STRIKE.

Armed with your trusty whip, along with an array of secondary weapons, each with their own use and trajectory. The game becomes about distance. The whip is versatile enough for most of the game; you can strike in eight directions and even flail it around to block projectiles (which is extremely useful in some bosses). Along with the whip, you can use a secondary weapon that consumes hearts (which are not health points like you would assume but rather "Magic points"). Each secondary weapon has its ow niche, and the player can experiment to see which ones they favor, but ultimately the Whip can be all you need.

You see, after the task seems initially daunting, and Simon's movement feel restrictive, you begin to understand the importance of distance. Each step takes you closer to your target, but they closer to you as well. Jumping is always a dependable arc, which you memorize with usage. Once you realize how to use distance to your advantage, your whip starts to decimate enemies, your jumps evade every obstacle, and the theme of Simon deservedly blow into your ear.

Dracula should have stayed in that grave.

Excellent Precession Based Gameplay: +4
Varied Strategies and Weapons: +2


"The Power of Dracula Starts to Revive Itself"

Now that you are finally looking like a Belmont, Dracula is your ultimate goal. His incessant revival once again throwing the world into darkness. Its unfortunate that Castlevania didn't do much with Dracula or its setting before Symphony of the Night. We all know how Dracula is one of the most interesting characters in literature, and yet he doesn't get a single line in the game. Neither does Simon.

In fact, the game gets on with all its narrative in the well-done opening sequence, and then the game begins. Dracula provides the justification of the setting, and Simon can be replaced by a slimmer and taller Mario (basically Luigi).

Such a game could have done well without any further effort into narration. However, Super Castelvania then proceeds to surprise us with its stage design, which tells us the story through atmosphere and style. Similiar to Metroid's Zebes, the stages of Super Castlevania tells us the story of Dracula perhaps better than those days stoke action narrative could.

When you proceed from the grounds to the Castle, you do so in an organic manner, traversing in the way caverns and such. When inside the castle, ghostly figures dance in the abandoned ballrooms. The treasure rooms shows signs of Dracula's greed. And as you finally go near the Lord of Darkness himself; you are reminded of his relation to death through non other than itself.

You could say that I am interpreting narrative where non exists, but my interpretation is aided by the game's direction. Through both music and visual design (which I will speak about later), the game highlights what is going on. When I am walking in the forest, and sneaking in the caverns, I don't see Dracula's eyes on me. However, when I enter his castle and hear the epic sound of "Bloody Tears" raining on me, I have no doubt that I am close to the end. Similarly, in the last stage, we cannot mistake the fact.

Mute Dracula: -2
The Game Does the Talking: +4


"Vampire Killer"

Since he is protecting himself with death traps and all sorts of ghouls and ghosts, we must assume that Dracula's choice of bosses must be up to standard. Unfortunately for Simon, our assumption is correct.

I am not going to say that Super Castelvania has absolutely great bosses, but I am going to say that they are mostly very good. Owing to the combat style of Castelvania, I feel it is more difficult to program boss battles that are as memorable as those in faster games like Mega Man for instance. In super Castelvania, the big bad guys are difficult, daunting, and mostly look and feel that way.

While each foe can easily end you, figuring out their patterns make the fight more manageable. Then, in a sudden twist, the boss changes their patterns and you find yourself in jeopardy. Without this change in patterns, most bosses would be just good, but they gain both personality and depth through that shift. Making boss battles the highlight of most stages.

Enforcing that idea is the end of the game, where you face many monsters as you climb up to Dracula. While I think this run has one extra boss that I didn't like (no one likes you blue Gargoyle), it showcases the game's affinity for storytelling through gameplay, as well as its solid combat. The final battle against Dracula is both a brawl and a spectacle, one that is worth the end.

Very Good Boss Battles: +4
That Final Boss Marathon: +1


"Bloody Tears"

I don't know how I would feel about Super Castlevania IV if I play it on mute, but I know that my impression of it would be less impressive. Through their music, Masanori Adachi and Taro Kudo elevated every aspect of the game.

From the start, you realize your in for an adventure, and the tracks never let on. With mysterious and atmospheric tracks like "Forest of Monsters" and "The Submerged City", moody tunes like "The Waterfalls", and epic fan favorites "Bloody Tears" and "Vampire Killer". And who could forget the ever present "Theme of Simon".

The game has a suitable track for every stage in the game, and it even changes tracks as the stage progresses from one phase to another. Without a single dud, and many great tunes, Super Castlevania surely has one of the best SNES soundtracks. If I would complain, only complain about the short loop time of "Bloody Tears" which is noticable, but its such a great song that who cares (I want to hear an updated version of it so much).

Moving on to the game's graphics, we see further evidence of design to fit the narrative. With obvious gothic influence, the game's stages and monster are all wonderfully made to feel like a suitable medieval stomping ground for Dracula. Not satisfied with only simple graphics, the small Konami team used their directing wizardry to great effect.

For instance, the dripping water in the caves is a direct reverence to the waterfalls above, and as we the see the mountains in the background, the foliage in the foreground reminds use where we are. Most impressively, this is a game that was released at the SNES's launch, and yet it sits heads and shoulders above latter releases. It even made use of the famous Mode 7 chip, but in my opinion, that stage was actually the least interesting stage in the game in all aspects.

With both music and graphics, the game immerses the player well in the game's world. Especially the music, which takes hold of the player and adds a much appreciated 3rd dimension to the game.

Music: +6
Graphical Design: +3


In Conclusion:

Super Castelvania IV is one of the best games in the SNES. It holds really well for its age, and through both gameplay and presentation, it delivers the old Castelvania experience in spades. Some might complain about its short length compared to today's standards, but with a game like this one, which is not that short in SNES standards, replaybility is key.

This is a game that takes hold of you, and you want to beat it again. In my mind, the best Simon Belmont is one who goes through the stages without missing a beat. Both the gameplay and music deserve the effort to excel like that, and through their hypnotic touch, many players would end up doing just that.

Final: 48/50

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


"Tips"

1- Spikes are one hit kills.
2- If it looks like a trap, it probably is.
3- After striking with whip, hold it limp and wiggle the it around with the D-Pad to guard against projectiles.
4- Do not flail the whip like an idiot (unless your are guarding against projectiles).
5- Stopwatch does not work on bosses.
6- Spend some time in learning the distance of your whip

"Next Game"

I can't believe such a great game missed the top 20. However, it gives us extra hope that all these games are gems. In fact, I know many of them are such gems. Which is why I am actually not going to review them since I already played them.

However, I can confirm that "Super Mario All-Stars","F-Zero", "DKC 2", "FFIV", "Mega Man X", "Super Mario Kart", "Super Mario World", "FFVI", "Super Metroid", and "Chrono Trigger" are all deserving of their top 20 spots. In fact, I played most of them several times which is why I am not going to play them again for review purposes.

The Next game I am going to review is the cult classic "ActRaiser" which sits @ #19 in IGN's list. We are in the top 20 now, so I expect this to be great.

Stay Tuned


For Previous SNES game Reviews:

The List

For More Screenshots:

http://www.mobygames.com/game/super-castlevania-iv/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:

23- The Magical Quest Starring Mickey Mouse:
Year: 1992.
Genre: 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.

As the highest rated game that resulted from the 16 bit Disney/Capcom alliance, I expected much more from Mickey Mouse than I actually got. Not a bad game at all, Mickey Mouse however is upstaged by Uncle Scrooge in the NES, and Simba in the SNES.

Ultimately, The Magical Quest proves lacking in magic, and is only a good game. More Yen Sid would have worked wonders on this game.

"Where are ya' pal"

Starting Mickey into the perilous path towards Emperor Pete's castle is the unfortunate kidnap of Pluto. Of course, Minny, Goody, or Donald could have been kidnapped interchangeably and little would change. Regardless of his reason, the world's most famous mouse goes through six different stages while faced against the bull-looking cat.

With little thematic element actually taken from Disney classics, The Magical Quest is obviously lacking a central creative style. Take for instance the Wizard who helps Mickey earlier in his quest. Instead of the droopy-looking character we got, it could have been Yen Sid from "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" or even Merlin.

All levels show the lack of a central premise. With unimaginative settings, the levels end up repeating platformers cliche, with a forest level, a fire level, a snow level. Compare that to the Lion King game, where the levels gain a lot of the flavor provided by the film. Similarly, the game's enemies, its music, and even its gameplay has nothing to do with Mickey Mouse or Disney. Only the titular hero and Pete signal the Disney connection.

Essentially, this is a game with Mickey's face simply plastered over. It doesn't gain anything but brand recognition, and it loses by not using the huge creative output of past Disney shorts.

Mickey is only Wallpaper: -3
Unimaginative Design: -3

"Follow the Emperor's Statues"

In the pursuit of Pluto, Mickey is armed with three central mechanics. The time-proven technique of jumping on your enemies heads, picking-up objects and spinning them, and the three costumes he acquires throughout the quest.

Jumping is handled as usual, with Mickey having the signature floaty jump of the Capcom SNES platformers. The spinning mechanic is an interesting, albeit underused mechanic in the game. In its most basic form, Mickey can grab block and stunned enemies, and spin them like a top forward to attack other enemies. Additionally, he can grab environmental objects, and spin them for interesting results. For instance, a flying tomato starts floating upwards after being spun; taking you with it upwards if you grab it in mid-flight. Unfortunately, such creative applications are rarely used, and it ends up a lost opportunity.

Other than jumping and spinning tops, Mickey adorns three different costumes that lend different abilities to him. The Magical Turban gives Mickey a projectile attack, allows him to breath underwater, and even breathes life to a magic carpet. Wearing a firefighter suit allows Mickey to effectively fight fire, push blocks with his water hose, and even interact with ice in interesting ways. The final mountaineering costume is the best of all, proving that a grappling hook improves any game.

Each costume works well in their respective stages. However, there is limited interaction between the costumes in each level, underscored by the annoying animation whenever you switch costumes. Ultimately, the costumes work really well in one stage, and feel somewhat underused in other levels. This is perhaps due to a game that is short and underdeveloped.

Signalling the end of each section is a giant stone door shaped like Pete's face. And each level is made of several sections, a mid-boss, and an end boss. This equals roughly 6 hours of gameplay or less, with little for replays.

Costumes are Cool: +4
Short Game: -2


"Use it wisely and be careful"

Surprisingly, Mickey Mouse proves to be a challenging game. While the regular level is easy enough, the bosses prove to be the game' highlights, as well as its most demanding obstacles. Both in design and gameplay, each boss offers enough menace and a unique twist to challenge the player.

Take the first boss for example, what first starts like an easy pattern boss, soon proves to have more tricks up his sleeves. Basically some snake creature with Pete's face (isn't that some nightmare fuel?), the boss alternates his jumps, and offers some projectile action as well.

Other bosses offer their own unique challenges as well, most incorporating one of the costumes in the fight. Even the mid-level bosses offer some interesting challenge. With each boss fight an actual obstacle, it will demand pattern memorization as well as serious twitch work from the player. Culminating into a satisfying end to each battle.

Great Boss Battles: +5


"Gawrsh Mickey, I still can't find Pluto"

Just like the basic, and even poor characterization of Mickey, the game shows a lack of polish in its whole design. While the world graphics are colorful, and the backgrounds are pleasant, we get some phoned in music tracks.

All in all, this a game that aesthetically bounded by it Disney connection, yet makes no effort to benefit from it. Since I already criticizes this earlier, I am just going to comment on the design aspects of the game.

Graphically, the game probably is among the best visually in 1992. With clean sprites, and well animated characters, the game comes to life best in motion. Each level offers its own unique taste as well, with both foreground and background combining to make-up lovely levels, even if they have nothing to do with the Disney universe.

However, the game's soundtrack is simply weak. With no single track being memorable, I don't know whether it suffers from repetition or if the tracks are simply indistinguishable from each other. In an age where the melody made the game, there was no magic in Mickey's soundtrack.

Good Graphics: +3
Terrible Music: -4


In Conclusion:

I confess that I don't understand why this game is as highly rated as it is. I am even surprised to see calls for it being remastered like Ducktales was (a much superior game). While I had my fun with Mickey, I actually enjoyed most other Disney/Capcom games better.

Even more baffling is the decision of IGN to put this game at #23 in their list of top 100 SNES games. Topping it against much more superior platfromers like Donkey Kong Country 1 and 3 (2 is higher in the list), Kirby 3, and even Capcom's own Aladdin and The Lion King. Simply baffeling.

Final: 25/50
*****************************************************************

"Tips"

1- You can spin tomatoes and then hover with them.
2- Look around for extra heart containers, you will need them.
3- You can grapple the egg of the bird boss, and then hit him with it.
4- You don't need to defeat all the mid-bosses in the final level, they are just trap doors.
5- Use Turban Magic to shoot the carpets in order to use them.

"Next Game"

Now we are at the gates of the top 20 games, which means I have already played most of these games (so I won't be reviewing them here). However, I missed some gems, and one of them is the much beloved Castelvania IV @ #21.

Here is hoping its deserves all its love

Stay Tuned


For Previous SNES game Reviews:

The List

For More Screenshots:

http://www.mobygames.com/game/snes/magical-quest-starring-mickey-mouse/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:

24- Contra III: Alien Wars:
Year: 1992.
Genre: Shooter.
Publisher: Konami.
Developer: Konami.
 

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.

For many, the Contra series is the quintessential Nintendo shooter. Ripe with that old Nintendo challenge, and a good deal of adrenaline pumping action and layered depth. The third entry in the series continues with that tradition, and its unapologetic adherence to the format is both the reason for Contra’s fame and its death as the generations went by.

This is the shooter game you would expect. One shot kills and plenty of action, with only a hair between that perfect jump and oblivion. Contra demands repetition from the player willing to master it. It demands mastery from the player willing to get the most out of it.

"Alien wars begin.”

Who are we kidding? It wouldn’t matter if it is aliens invading earth, or bloody Neanderthals from Jurassic time. Nazis, zombies, dinosaurs, and more have served as bullet fodder for these games. Interchangeably, any event can be taken as face value to get you to shoot stuff in Contra. The only semblance of character is the blatant inspiration from Rambo.

Is it a bad thing? Not necessarily, but when I compare to another shooter from the ages that has character in spades (Metal Slug), the very generic style of Contra leaves much to be desired. We are not here for the Man Booker prize winning script, but something that separates this game from the hoard would have been nice.

As it is, we are Rambo clone number one shooting generic fodder, some of which do look alien, for the probable goal of saving earth. Only three sentences are afforded for plot, and a paragraph telling the game has a hard mode that is going to crush your soul. I guess minimalism has its fans.

Yet, when you look beyond the cloned artwork, and the very basic story. When you look at what the game throws at you, you get a sense of audacity that I don’t think is eclipsed by another game. Although actually in rare moments, the game throws all logic to the wind as it gives the player some ridiculous set piece to deal with. Specifically, I am talking about a boss fight where the player hangs from a missile while attacking. The catch is that there are many missiles and the player needs to jump from one to another as they explode. Had the game included more of such scenes, the droll setting and lack of basic storytelling would have been less obvious.

Droll Setting: -5
That Missile Battle: +2

"Let’s attack aggressively.”

I confess that I used emulation to beat the game. Simply put, I don’t have the skill to beat it without outside help. Yet, I feel as if everything is there for me to learn, and I tremendously improved by the end, that my second play through used the emulator less and less. Which is the hallmark of good game design.

With only one shot to the grave, Contra demands perfection. It demands total attention to your surroundings, as well as perfect command of your movement and attacks. Shooting leaves you less mobile to avoid attacks, and mistiming your jumps leads right into the line of fire. In Contra, any death is your fault, as the mechanics are pitch perfect for the player to dodge and shoot everything in sight. Every attack is telegraphed, and it is the player’s responsibility to decipher the game.

In your arsenal, you can have access to a variety of weapons, each I found particularly useful in one place or another. Also, you get to use the screen clearing bombs. Both weapons and bombs are reset to default on death, so getting hit takes both a life and the ability to fight, making it hurt twice as much.

As is the case with Contra games, the game includes more than traditional 2D shooting, but also vehicle sequences and top-down levels. The former has always been a matter of loathing from me personally; when a game changes its entire control scheme and philosophy for one level that is unforgiving and tyrannical. Contra does nothing to convince me otherwise; vehicle sequences are almost always lacking in balance. As for the top-down levels, which have been hallmarks of the series, I found them less fun than the 2D levels and generally underwhelming (not to mention being easier).

Ultimately, Contra III brings everything that made the previous Contra games so well regarded mechanically. However, it also brings one major evolution to the franchise. As I said previously, getting killed loses your weapon upgrades. Yet, Contra III gives you the ability to switch between two weapons essentially holding the second weapon in case you die. This not only gives you more tactical flexibility by having two different weapons, but also gives you a fighting chance when you lose that valuable flamethrower.

Challenging and Fair Gameplay: +5
Vehicle and Top-Down Levels: -3 (for every level)
Two Weapons: +2


"Prepare yourself for the Ultimate Challenge.”

Bosses are no longer scary these days. From the poor generic bosses of FPS games to the 3-hit kill goons of Nintendo. They used to be something, they used to be a threat, and they used to be like Contra.

When you are fighting on top of the sky hanging from missiles, you know these bosses are not only tough, but also mostly unique. In fact, the entire game can be considered a tutorial that prepares you for these massive battles. Reaching these foes unhurt doesn’t mean you’re good, it just means you have a chance.

If you don’t study their patterns, then you are going to die. However, their never-ending onslaught makes that a herculean task indeed, as you focus in both surviving and learning at the same time. This alien invasion might just be a packaged excuse to shoot stuff, but these aliens don’t show any restraint at all.

Great Bosses: +4


"Kill them with fire."

Insects are scary. Their primal instincts and positively brutal lifecycle showcasing their ugly form. The aliens in Contra are clearly insect-inspired, which probably lead me to use the flamethrower as my favorite weapon. Aside from the ugly design of some of these aliens, as well as some good boss design, I did not feel the need to use my weapon of choice.

Mostly, the graphics are clean and nice, with the screen handling busy fire fights well. Everything is telegraphed for the player, so that anything that happens to them is their fault. Backgrounds were nice, but nothing major. While the character sprite has a curiously empty face. Like the story, the graphics is mostly generic, but it does the job, does it a little better as well.

However, the sound department goes beyond doing its job. It excels. From the music, that is both addictive and pleasant to hear. To the various sound effects that tells you exactly what is happening on screen. That enemy is firing at you, this boss is taking damage, hell is about to break loose.

When a game demands as much from the player as Contra, it is nice for the music to give them a boost. The tracks are motivating, and they make the endless repetitions of death bearable. All the while, sound gives the player another sense in which to use; the best players actually depend more in audio cues than visual ones. Overall, proving to be a very solid sound design.

Very Good Sound Design: +3
Very Good Tracks: +3
Generic Graphics: -2


In Conclusion:

Contra is a game of a bygone era. More an arcade experience than a console. It is also a game that is worth as much as players are willing to give it. For the casual observer, who is merely playing the game and preparing to jump to another, its flaws are magnified, and its brilliance is hidden.

However, for those willing to master it, Contra offers a depth that transcends its limitations. Perhaps it is the feeling we used to get when stuck with one or two cartridges in our childhood. Then, the game could have been as short as Contra, but perfecting a game became another goal after beating it.

Final: 34/50


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

"Tips"

1-Have two different weapons to vary your chances.
2-To pick up another weapon, be in your empty slot.
3-Bombs are not lifesavers, it would take a second or two before everything on screen is wiped out.
4-You can jump in the vehicle sequence.
5-Kill them with fire, the flamethrower might lack range, but it is probably the strongest weapon damage wise.

"Next Game"

Contra was fun, but I am ready for a more relaxing adventure. And moving through IGN’s list, I am seeing yet another Disney/Capcom game, showing us that those two companies could have been a more obvious Kingdom Hearts candidate (Mega Man and Donald Duck in a team anyone).


At #23, the Magical Quest starring Mickey Mouse is the highest Disney game on the list. Here is hoping it really is magical


Stay Tuned

For Previous SNES game Reviews:

The List

For More Screenshots:

http://www.mobygames.com/game/snes/contra-iii-the-alien-wars/screenshots

Photo Photo Photo