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SNES REVIEWS: Sparkster - Destructoid

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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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Lord Spencer
12:00 PM on 04.25.2014

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:

88- Sunset Riders:
Year: 1995.
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.

One of the genre's almost perfected in the SNES-Genesis wars is the platformer genre. From the spectacular Super Mario Land, to the speedy Sonic games. Sparkster, is apparently Konami's input into the platformer genre, but with an action twist strapped on in the shape of a rocket.

"The baddest opossum ever to strap on a rocket pack. "

The above quote is from the game's box. Despite this game's opossum probably being the only on of its species to wear a rocket launcher, I am not sure the adjective used to describe him is apt in this case. This game is an obvious answer to Sonic from Konami. Evidenced by its start in the Genesis, Sparkster follows the 90's craze of animals with attitude.

That specific phase have been done to death in the 90's, and it was an uninspiring and lazy one to be honest. As such, Sparkster feels devoid of any personality in its world. Indeed, while the Sonic world were vibrant, and his speed was fresh, Sparkster's worlds are mostly boring bar two levels.

Lacking Personality: -2

"ROCKET LAUNCHER"

Of course, any game worth its salt must strive to either excel very much at what it does, or else differentiate itself from other games. In this game, the rocket launcher strapped to your back serves as a chargeable boost, and it allows for both enormous speed boost and offensive tackles.

It sounds good in theory, but Sparkster's speed based gameplay falters in three ways:

First, the level scroll, which is how the "movement" is obtained in 2D games is unreliable, and the zoomed in perspective makes it difficult to judge boosts.

Second, the charge move can just as easily kill an enemy as end just before touching him to get some unavoidable damage.

While this doesn't nullify the use of the rocket pack, it makes using it and powerful but clumsy tool. You can spam boost to oblivion and lose a couple of hearts, but a healing item would most likely be available. Most levels are a boost and heal affair, where boosting through is the best way of getting over the tedium of the level, while healing is used to offset the damage caused by the boosting.

Prime Mechanic Weakness: -3

"Boosting through time and space"

While Sparkster's world is mostly boring, it does not lack in variety, both in design and gameplay. For instance, a dessert temple level employs a number of light puzzles into the game, and feels aptly labyrinth-like. However, the star of level design in the game is what perhaps is the single inspiring element of the game. Games like Rayman and Donkey Kong Country Returns both employ stages where musical instruments act as platforms and sound off on contact. I believe that such a level was first introduced by this game here, and it is no surprise that is the best level in the game.

In the gameplay front, Sparkster is not afraid of shaking things up. Along with the puzzles of the sand temple, and the percussion jumps of the music stage, Sparkster also includes a shooter inspired level and a robot ostrich stampede.What this game lacks in concepts and mechanics, it somehow compensates with some serious variety.

Music Stage: +3
Variety in G&D: +2

"Mechanical Music"

Not ever bothering to be amazing, the music of Sparkster is content with being adequate. It is similar sounding in most stages as the sand temple and music stage stand out yet again. Additionally, the boss themes are catchy and exciting.

Music: +1

"Rocket boost to the face"

It is admirable that the smae tactics you use in your regular gameplay can be used for the bosses. Many games give the player a powerful tool to use in the stages, yet they remove them against the bosses. Boosting to full speed to both dodge and attack the bosses is oddly satisfying, and most battles are close yet fair.

Several battles skip to mind, with the bosses carrying the same variety of the stages themselves. Again, it comes as no surprise that my favorite boss was the music stage villain. In the best cases, you need both skill and strategy to beat the boss.

Yet, there is one instance nearing the end of the game where a boss is simply unfair. Playing him everytime might give a different scenario. At one time, he might just look at you and allow you to pummel him until he goes berserk and leaves you no room to do anything. Some other time, he would just go berserk from the beginning. Looking at commentaries on this boss, I found that the general experience around him is that luck would be needed more than skill.

Good Bosses +3
Unfair Final Boss: -2

In Conclusion:

Sparkester might not be in the same league as Sonic and Mario, and comparing them might not be exactly fair. Yet, I cannot but help that given some tweaks, and an actual spirit of competition from the game, Konami might have had a mascot to begin with.

However, given that Sparkster was obviously not made to join the battle with Nintendo and Sega, we should be thankful for a decent if for our age an underwhelming game.

Final: 27/50


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

"Tips"
1- Collect gems for lives.
2- Use shoulder buttons to move left or right after a vertical boost.
3- Search the levels for more gems, health items, and 1ups.
4- Use turbo function against unfair boss.


"Next Game"

I am going to confess that I skipped a game that I shouldn't have. However, I decided that the brawler (beat-em-up) genre is very poor one that offers no entertainment value to myself. However, game #85 Spider-Man & Venom: Maximum Carnage allows for the mindless genre to evolve with superpower strategy. Also, I was a big fan of Venom as a kid.

Stay Tuned

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