SNES D-G

Alien Brigade – By Atari

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 Doom – By Ocean Software

We all know Doom, the classic ID Software PC shooter. After many rumours it finally made its debut on the Super Nintendo in 1995 and used the Super FX chip to power the advanced 3D graphics. The project was clearly too ambitious for the machine but at the same time it is hugely impressive that they managed to get it running as well as they did. The first thing to go was the textures on the floor and ceilings. To be fair this makes little real different and keeps the frame rate up. The window size was also reduced to maintain speed. Enemies could also only be viewed from the front which meant they could no longer battle each other. They could still damage each other when wondering into stray projectiles though. The game actually plays pretty well with a reasonably smooth frame rate and good control. You cannot strafe and turn though, which is a huge oversight, and I fail to see why you cannot do this. The levels are fairly faithful to the PC originals and most of them are in there, split over three chapters. The biggest issue with the game though, is a total lack of password or battery backup option. Not having at least passwords was a disaster of a choice. You have to play through each chapter to completion to see each level with the last chapter only available on higher difficulties. Overall, SNES Doom is good for the machine. It feels dated now but still manages to impress more than the dire 3DO version.

Review by Nakamura

7/10

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 Donkey Kong Country – By Rare/Nintendo

After an extensive ad campaign showcasing Rare’s 3D pre-rendered graphics, the expectations for Donkey Kong Country were incredibly high. With 3D games on the horizon, fans craved hi-res graphics and Rare delivered the goods with what is one of the nicest looking platformers of the 16-bit era. The storyline features Donkey Kong—not the same one from the arcades—and his little pal Diddy Kong, who are on a quest to recover their stolen bananas from the Kremling leader King K. Rool. Rare takes some liberties with the Donkey Kong license, but the additions really help the Donkey Kong Country universe to come together. This isn’t the same game from 1981. You aren’t climbing steel girders or ducking under bouncing springs. DKC has its own storybook world teeming with lush jungles and beautiful forests for DK and Diddy to explore. Exploration is the key: though you can complete each level without climbing trees or stomping on every baddie, you won’t get the most out of DKC unless you invest some time into the magnificent world Rare has created for you. You’ll collect gold letters, visit bonus stages to earn extra lives, and ride on an assortment of friendly animals like Rambi the rhino. Gameplay is exceptionally smooth and the Kongs are easy to control. One hit will take your character out of commission, allowing the second one to jump in and take over. In two-player mode, this means that you and a friend have to work together to survive, but you can tag in your partner any time you feel the need. The level design always stays fresh, as does the terrific soundtrack. 1994 was a turning point in the 16-bit wars due to DKC’s “killer app” status. Play it and you’ll see what all the excitement was about.

Review by wyldephang

9/10

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  Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy’s Kong Quest – By Rare/Nintendo

With a successful new game in the record books and a fresh new image, things are looking good for Donkey Kong heading into 1995, but the revelries will have to wait as the Kremling boss King K. Rool has captured DK and is holding him hostage on Crocodile Isle! It was a bold move by Rare to nudge the lead protagonist out of the way for the sequel to Donkey Kong Country, but it turned out to be a great move. By putting Diddy Kong in the limelight and introducing a new character, his girlfriend Dixie, Rare managed to expand the Donkey Kong brand and develop the storyline. In Donkey Kong Country 2, the duo infiltrates Crocodile Isle in search of DK. Their mission is to bring his captors to justice and take out the infamous King (now Kaptain) K. Rool. Immediately you’ll notice that Crocodile Isle isn’t as warm and inviting as the Kongo Jungle. It’s a darker, more dangerous world filled with murky swamps and volcanoes where you’ll be pursued by a rowdy band of Kremlings who make the previous game’s enemies look like Care Bears. You’ll need to be on your toes and utilize new double-team moves and Dixie’s glide ability if you want to make it through in one piece and explore the secrets of the Lost World, DKC2’s optional “expert” levels. Some additional animal helpers, like Squitter the spider, will come to your aid and you’ll get more use out of the animals than ever before since many of the levels are designed with them in mind. As always, the music and visuals are spectacular; David Wise has composed some of his best tracks for DKC2. It’s just a bigger, more complete game than its predecessor, and one of the absolute essentials for the console.

Review by wyldephang

9/10

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  Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong’s Double Trouble! – By Rare/Nintendo

Obviously believing that you can never have too much of a good thing, Rare cranked out another Donkey Kong game in 1996, Donkey Kong Country 3. Featuring an expanded, interactive world map and a colorful new art style, Rare attempted to take the franchise in a different direction for DKC3. In previous games, you moved along a linear path from one level to the next, and once you conquered an area, you couldn’t backtrack without booking a trip with Funky’s Flights. In DKC3, the entire map is at your disposal, and retracing your steps is as simple as swimming across a river or boarding a hovercraft and driving there yourself. Not every area is unlocked at the beginning; you’ll need to collect parts to upgrade your hovercraft and visit new places on the map. So, the game still progresses in a linear fashion, but you never feel as if you’re on rails. The lead role has been scooped up by Dixie Kong, and she brings her infant cousin Kiddy into the fray to investigate a conspiracy: Diddy and DK have gone AWOL and the Kongs suspect that King K. Rool is behind everything—again! Together, the Kongs can perform some interesting double-team moves. Dixie retains her ability to glide, but Kiddy just feels like a shameless clone of DK with the added ability to skim across water, a talent so pointless I didn’t even discover its existence on my first playthrough. I’m not sold on Rare’s character selection, but DKC3 makes up for it with a surprisingly engaging side-quest involving these creatures called Banana Birds, which are found in secret caves. From exploring the Northern Kremisphere to interacting with NPCs in trading quests, there is a lot to do and see in DKC3, and it’s certainly worth your time.

Review by wyldephang

8/10

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  F-Zero – By Nintendo

F-Zero is a 1990 title that launched with the Japanese Super Famicom. Despite being only 1 of 2 launch games for the machine in Japan, they were both astonishing titles which made for a strong line-up. F-Zero is a mode 7 racer. It uses a flat viewpoint that fully rotates 360 degrees to give the feeling of real freedom not seen in console racers to this standard. There are four main craft to choose from, each with pros and cons. The yellow craft gives supreme acceleration and response but with a low weight and top speed. Blue is the most balanced craft and is generally good at all. Green is faster still with good turning and weight but lower acceleration and pink is the fastest and most sturdy but has the lowest acceleration. The stronger the craft the less damage they take from collisions and the increased weight also allows longer boosting. Craft physics are also surprisingly sophisticated and clever use of the throttle on turning and bumping goes a long way. There are 15 racing circuits split into 3 classes. Each race is 5 laps and you are given a speed booster at the end of each lap. At first races feel like nothing more than drone time trials but as you progress to expert and then master level, you are treated to some of the most exhilarating races in any racing game ever made. Rivals really battle for position and you can end up well down the field with poor driving. Music is suitably brilliant as is engine noises of the craft. F-Zero is a stunning achievement and, with Super Mario World, one of the best ever launch titles. No wonder it took a 64 bit console to give us a worthy sequel.

Review by Nakamura

10/10

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 F1 Exhaust Heat – By Seta

F1 Exhaust Heat is a 1992 racer for the Super Nintendo and one of the most interesting games of its type on the 16-bit machines. Using the increasingly common Mode 7 viewpoint it is certainly fast and smooth and manages to avoid being too flat due the angle of play, quite a high one. You play through each season across the real F1 racing circuits to try to become the eventual champion. The best part of the game is certainly the upgrade system. Your car starts of stock and rather slow but a variety of upgrades are needed to win the races. You can upgrade tyres, engines, gearboxes, diffusers, suspension and more, it really is well designed. The problem lies within the racing though, it is just a bit sparse to be long term fun. Once you have qualified you are sat on the grid with other cars and it all looks great. Once the light goes green though, most races feel more like time trials as it becomes rather spaced out. It is also very easy to complete the game. Handling is generally very good though and the car can be pushed over the edge into a spin if not careful. There is certainly fun to be had here but don’t expect it to last forever.

Review by Nakamura

6/10

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  Final Fantasy IV – By Square

To those of us who missed out on Final Fantasy II and III on the Famicom, Final Fantasy IV would’ve seemed like a drastic leap forward—especially because its international title, Final Fantasy II, led us to believe this was the direct successor to the 8-bit original. North American fans wouldn’t have an opportunity to experience the two intervening games for another decade, but what we initially knew as Final Fantasy II on the Super Nintendo was more than enough to keep us happy until Square set everything straight. FFIV is the first game in the series to utilize the Active Time Battle system, where combat is still turn-based, but all battle commands run on a timer, so your enemy can interrupt you if you spend too much time mulling over your tactics. In comparison to the 8-bit games, FFIV has a deeper and more engaging plot full of twists and surprises. Square did a great job of nailing the characterization and developing the relationships between characters. The jobs of FF and FFIII are now predetermined for your party, allowing the characters to grow within their respective classes. What this means is that you’ll spend less effort tinkering with stats and more time enjoying the development of the narrative. The music and graphics are excellent and put the SNES hardware to great use. Environments are colorful and well detailed, and you’ll visit caves, deserts, and lunar constructs and battle larger-than-life bosses like the Four Fiends en route to a climactic encounter with the dark sorcerer Golbez. Along the way, you’ll forge friendships built on trust and love and see to it that the powers of light prevail over darkness. It’s an excellent way to begin Square’s SNES saga and an adventure you can’t afford to miss.

Review by wyldephang

9/10

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 Final Fantasy VI – By Square

Final Fantasy VI offers something deeper than rich gameplay and flashy visuals: look beneath the surface and you’ll find FFVI is not a work of fantasy, but of theater. This little detail is instrumental in understanding that subtle charm which permeates every inch of FFVI. This is a game that recognizes its own fictiveness: characters wink and shake their fingers at the screen, the narrator speaks directly to the player, and there’s even a segment in which you control a character in an opera, evoking Hamlet’s play-within-a-play conceit. FFVI is nothing short of a masterwork of drama, and like every good play, it makes you care about the characters. You’ll meet scoundrels, knights, kings, sorceresses, and an over-the-top villain whose antics will have you gasping in disbelief and rolling with laughter at the same time. Almost every character has some loose ends to tie up before the end of the game, and you’ll travel across the continent by land, sea, and air fulfilling their stories and trying to stop the evil Emperor Gestahl and his right-hand man Kefka from reviving the use of magic and taking over the world. The gameplay is classic Final Fantasy in top form. FFVI makes use of the Active Time Battle system, where the turn sequence is determined by a timer. You’ll have access to a diverse repertoire of attacks and spells, but enemies can interrupt your turn if you dawdle. It helps make the turn-based system feel more spontaneous and alive as you’ve always got to plan ahead. If your characters take too much of a beating, they can now unleash powerful new desperation attacks to turn the tide. From the brilliantly orchestrated soundtrack and intricate world design to the detailed character models, FFVI is extremely well polished. This is role-playing at its best.

Review by wyldephang

10/10

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