SNES H-K

Alien Brigade – By Atari

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 Hebereke’s Popoitto – By SunSoft

This is a puzzle game and a sequel to Hebereke’s Popoon, which also appeared on the SNES. The original game was a variation on the puzzle game Puyo Puyo, but this sequel is a variation on the Nintendo puzzle game Dr Mario. In essence this is a pit based puzzle game where coloured blobs (popoitto’s) drop into the pit and you have to use them to clear the pit of the assorted coloured enemies within. You do this by lining up 4 or more combinations of blobs and enemies. There is a very odd little story mode than accompanies the single player campaign and there is also a two player battle mode in which players race to clear their pit first. The graphics and music are both excellent and the gameplay pretty addictive as is usually the case with this sort of thing. The main gameplay difference between this and Dr Mario is that the enemies will randomly move around in the pit until you stick a blob to them, so your plans can be scuppered by enemy movement. There is a new tactic required in order to lock them into position before undertaking too much planning. The game itself is very good but it could do with some more modes to add to the value, but overall a solid game.

Review by Davy K

6/10

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 Joe and Mac: Caveman Ninja – By Data East

When this came to the SNES I was expecting a brilliant arcade port. Instead we got a re-jigged game that was somewhat disappointing but still very playable once you got over that fact. First off the frame rate is not as smooth as it should be given the cutbacks. The game does feel slightly unresponsive as a result, which is disappointing. Once you power past this you find a very playable action platformer that is certainly worth a play through. Joe and Mac features lovely colourful graphics with some really nice animation. Audio is suitably impressive with fantastic music and cool samples from the arcade. Enemies are often amusing and bosses are very large. You have a variety of weapons such as a bone, boomerang, fireball and the very powerful stone wheel. These can be fired up sideways in a bid to take your enemies down. The stone wheel takes some enemies out in one hit and rolls until it leaves the screen, handy. Boss fights are pretty imaginative with differing attack patterns and weak spots. Level design is generally pretty standard fare but they are fun to traverse. Harder to reach areas can be reached via the large spin jump or by jumping on the heads of enemies. If you land on the top of enemies you don’t take damage which is a nice change from the usual. This game also features a two-player co-op mode that helps add to the fun. Overall a solid and fun platformer, just don’t expect the arcade version.

Review by Nakamura

7/10

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 Killer Instinct – By Rare / Nintendo

Riding on the back of a huge hype wave and being hailed by Nintendo magazines as the best fighter ever, Killer Instinct was ported to the SNES and it allowed us to really strip the game down. The games huge selling point was the massive combo potential, up to around 43 hits with some characters. This combo system was pretty well designed in truth, using triggers and link moves to keep the combo going. You could also finish with special moves and when the opponent’s energy bar was in the red you could activate the fabled Ultra Combos. Combo attacks can be interrupted with clever/lucky use of the correct combo breaker. The downside is though, the game becomes too combo heavy and can become a bit of a slog. The standard moves seem to have little impact on the opponent. There are few impact moves and most attacks seem to just push the sprites back a little. The game does play well overall though. Moves are activated in a similar way to Street Fighter and often feel far more intuitive than something like Mortal Kombat. Characters are fast and responsive and suitably weighty. The game also has fatalities and a few levels where you can knock the opponent over the edge. Visually Rare did a good job of porting a high-end arcade game to the machine with good animations and rich backgrounds. The music is also well ported but does really pale in comparison to the arcade. Overall K.I is a good fighter. It has a clever trick in the combo system but that trick does get old and the game lacks real depth. It is worth spending time with though.

Review by Nakamura

7/10

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 Kirby’s Dream Course – By Nintendo

This is a pretty unusual and original game that is based around crazy golf / miniature golf - but is a game that also makes use of the Kirby series features in pretty smart ways to enhance gameplay. Enemies are arranged on 3D isometrically viewed courses and you control Kirby as a golf ball to hit every enemy – the last enemy turning into a hole into which Kirby must be shot to complete the level. It is quite a tactical game because you can pick which enemy to leave to the end – thus dictating the layout of each hole. And also because as you hit and destroy enemies you can use their characteristics to imbue the Kirby ball with special powers than can affect how the ball behaves mid-shot. Every hole can be completed in 1 shot but it will be a long time before that is mastered (if ever). It is a pretty clever game overall and quite unique. Failure to complete a hole in a target number of shots results in a life loss and you have a limited number of lives to complete a course. There are plenty of courses to tackle, a smart two player versus mode and a really rich control scheme to master. Progress is saved onto the cartridge, and the excellent distinctive graphics round off a really top notch package that was sadly missed by many people because the Kirby branding probably put them off, but also because it was a late release. This is highly recommended.

Review by Davy K

9/10

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 Kirby’s Ghost Trap – By HAL Laboratory

This is a port of the very successful puzzle game Puyo Puyo for the SNES in Western regions. Mega Drive owners in the West got Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine and SNES owners got this. It is exactly the same game the publishers didn’t have the cahoonies to launch in the West with COMPILE’s original totally but loveably nutty characters, visuals and tunes. Instead of those wacky sights and sounds we get background, characters and music from the Kirby series. Kirby is actually a good replacement for the original character who jumps around in the space between the two pits as he looks quite like him, albeit in pink. You have 3 modes; the one player story mode (called competition here) that has you facing off against a series of CPU opponents, a 2-player versus mode (with selectable handicaps) and a practice mode for one or two players. There are plenty of options including the ability to toggle the display of sweat on the characters for some reason. This is a basic, solid version of the game, which is nothing to really get excited about – but to be fair it is Puyo Puyo, which is up there with the best in the genre. In comparison to the Megadrive version, I prefer the look of this one but prefer the music of the Megadrive version, which seems more fitting. But I did find the oddness of the Kirby characters are closer to the spirit of the original, but really there isn’t much to choose between them so if you have one then it probably isn’t really worth getting the other.

Review by Davy K

8/10

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  Kirby Super Star – By HAL Laboratory/Nintendo

Advertised as eight games in one, Kirby Super Star retailed at $69.99 in 1996, meaning that you were paying roughly $8.75 per game. Not a bad value at first glance, but do the games hold up? I think so. While Super Star is perhaps not the Kirby game fans were expecting, it is nonetheless one they should be thankful to have gotten. It is indeed a collection of mini-games, but you’re getting considerably more than that: HAL tries to weave them all into a kind of narrative, which makes the games feel like a contiguous experience. The side-scrolling entries feature recurring enemies and bosses, and Kirby’s nemesis Meta Knight makes numerous appearances throughout the game as well. I would refer to the side-scrolling games as the “meat and potatoes” of Super Star, for these are the types of levels we’re expecting to play when we pick up a Kirby game. As with previous games in the series, Kirby can swallow enemies to learn their special abilities, then use those powers to battle tougher opposition. Super Star recycles most of the power-ups from previous titles, but there are several new abilities to keep you busy. When you beat one game, you unlock another, and they get progressively tougher as time goes on. You’ll need to master the use of Kirby’s block ability and take advantage of the innovative new co-operative mechanic, where you sacrifice one of Kirby’s power-ups to summon a helper. This helper can be controlled by a second player, too, essentially making Super Star a two-player co-op game. Other mini-games include races, treasure hunts, and duels that test your reaction time. Altogether, Super Star (known as Kirby’s Fun Pak in Europe) may be eight games in one, but it’s held together by solid gameplay and fun co-op.

Review by wyldephang

8/10

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 Knights of the Round – By Capcom

Inviting images of daring swordplay and tests of strength and courage, Arthurian lore has piqued the interest of almost every adolescent boy at one time or another. For whatever reason, though, there haven’t been many video game adaptations of King Arthur’s tales, and it would seem like a missed opportunity. Capcom’s Knights of the Round is one of the few games that come to mind when I think of how well the legend translates to video games. It’s a scrolling beat-‘em-up game in the styling of Final Fight where you attack with weapons rather than fists. You control one of three different characters from Arthurian legend—Arthur, Lancelot, and Percival—in a crusade to recover the Holy Grail and overthrow King Garibaldi. It is Arthur’s destiny to become the King of Britain, but Garibaldi’s army stands in your way and you must hack and slash through seven stages to challenge the evil king face-to-face. No beat-‘em-up game is complete without solid gameplay mechanics, and Knights of the Round delivers in that area with a simple yet effective combat system. You have the basic attack button and jump button, but you can also press the X button to raise your character’s guard and deflect incoming attacks. Ultimately, your play style will depend on which character you are using. Lancelot is the quickest character, Percival is the strongest, and Arthur balances agility with power. As you defeat enemies, you gain levels and change appearance, bulking up for the trials ahead. Though Knights of the Round is a well-polished port of the arcade game, the repetitive gameplay may start to wear on you, but I find even the best beat-‘em-ups are guilty of this. Overall, this is an underrated gem on the Super Nintendo and especially fun in two-player co-op mode.

Review by wyldephang

8/10

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