Super Bomberman

It’s rare to come across a video game concept that can stand up as well over the years as that which backs the Bomberman series. I’m not saying that the entire series has been a paradigm of quality—just look at Bomberman: Act Zero for the Xbox 360 and try not to cry in your cereal. The ones that do stand out, though, can be just as fun (and frustrating) for today’s audiences as they were for those who first played them ten, twenty, or even almost thirty years ago.

Now, you might have a tendency to think that I’m just some aging gamer who loves to relive the nostalgia of games from the 80’s and 90’s. If this is the case, then you obviously haven’t been paying much attention to this site. I hated most older games, and looking back, I probably hate them even more. Unlike some people, I can’t reminisce fondly about a game that I had found so frustrating as to actually cause me to throw my controller in anger. I mean, if I threw my controller, arguably I was fairly pissed. Chances are, I was also no older than 10 at the time, so I was probably liable to throw a tantrum at just the thought of having to eat green beans for dinner when my mom clearly said I could have pizza.

That being said, I’ve had some time to grow, and have become somewhat more patient and understanding over the years. Playing some of the older “classics” again without needing to go into a blind rage and potentially damage personal property, I’ve been able to better appreciate what had originally drawn audiences to them. I still probably won’t ever pull myself to finish the original Super Mario Bros. though, but at the same time, I had a blast playing through Super Mario Bros. 3 in its entirety for the first time, 15 years after its initial release.

Bomberman is one of those games that I absolutely hated to play, but have grown to love over the years. The basic premise of nearly every game in the series is fairly simple: move your little Bomberman around a 2D grid, planting bombs in order to clear various obstacles around the way and take out the various enemies running around the screen. Each bomb will detonate after a few seconds, sending out an explosion of flames across a given number of spaces horizontally and vertically, but not diagonally (pretty sneaky, sis…). Some obstacles will reveal a power-up when destroyed that you can pick up, with effects such as increasing the number of spaces spanned by an explosion or allowing you to plant additional bombs at once.

What really gets you at first is just how easy it is to die. And you will die. A lot.

Touch an enemy? Dead.

Barely touch the tail end of a bomb explosion? Still dead.

Getting trapped in a corner by a bomb!? Ha ha, DEAD!

Trapping your own dumb self in a corner…with one of your own bombs!? YOU BET YOUR SORRY ASS YOU’RE DEAD!!

That’s what got me for a while when I first played the game. It’s one thing if you simply die in a game, but when you’re locked in a corner and helpless, those three seconds you’re waiting for the final detonation, while your so-called “friend” who planted the damn thing laughs maniacally to your side, can tear away the final shred of self restraint you have left in your body before you explode in a fit of rage and swear that you two will never be friends again…EVER.

Realistically, it doesn’t take too long to get used to playing, as the game itself is fairly simple. The “normal” game mode will get a bit repetitive, but multiplayer battles with a handful of friends is where the series really shines. Having those moments where you manage to get the best of your opponents, even if it’s a short-lived victory, can make things altogether more entertaining.

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Super Bases Loaded 2

Honestly, as if having to review an inordinate number racing titles was enough, it seems baseball has been getting a bit jealous recently and is trying its damnedest to top the former category in the list of genres of SNES games that I’m absolutely sick of seeing. For some stupid reason, I tried to estimate the total percentage of titles that are baseball related the other day at a party, but trying to engage in rational thought after six tequila shots and several beers, I apparently divided by zero, mathed all over myself, and passed out in the front yard with only one shoe on and a slide ruler in my pants.

Super Bases Loaded 2 continues the franchise with more teams than its predecessor, although the number of bases and balls unfortunately remains the same. For my first game, I picked the Los Angeles Cyclops for my team, while the CPU controlled an Atlanta team under the banner of what appeared to be Sloth from The Goonies, although to my disappointment, everyone on the field looked more like normal people in baseball uniforms. The controls are somewhat easy to figure out, but three home runs for the computer team in a single inning managed to solidify my loss, with a final score well into the double digits against my team’s solid zero, something that I should have probably expected considering I picked a team whose mascot has no depth perception.

One thing of note is that on top of the standard options of playing against the computer or another person, you can also choose to “watch” a game played by two computer players. I mean, if there’s one thing I’m looking for in a video game, it’s the option to not actually play the thing. Especially when we’re talking about something as fun to watch as a baseball game. Brilliant stuff.

In conclusion, Super Bases Loaded 2 is a baseball game for the Super Nintendo, and drinking and math can lead to disaster, embarrassment, and potential physical harm to yourself and others. Stay in school, and don’t do drugs.

Stargate

Stargate wasn’t a “great” movie by any means. It did manage to spawn a cable TV series that succeeded in exploiting the franchise far more than what was ever accomplished by the movie, even years beyond the point at which it ran the whole damn thing into the ground. From there, we’ve seen two more spin-off series, a couple failed video game attempts, one not-so-failed (but not-so-successful) video game attempt, and a handful of made-for-TV movies.

Movies…

…made for TV…

…based off a TV show…

…which was based off a movie.

Just…just…okay now…

Like many other movies, the release of Stargate was also not without its lovely cross-media advertising. Like many other video games based on movies, Stargate for the Super Nintendo also sucks. In this wacky adventure, you control Colonel Kurt Russell as he hunts down varying numbers of miscellaneous items, fulfilling random scavenger hunts for others and generally risking his life amidst the dangers of the alien desert while everyone else simply loafs about.

You do get some laughably poor dialog which sometimes has a fleeting connection to the movie’s plot. When compared to the actual game itself, this is somewhat of a plus.

Space Invaders: The Original Game

Space Invaders: The Original Game is exactly what the title says—an almost exact recreation of the original Space Invaders arcade game. No fancy gimmicks. No crazy AI. No absurdly written, tacked-on story line about a cold-as-ice space marine sent as the Earth’s last stand against the alien threat. Just the classic, 1978 action of fending off waves upon waves of space bugs as they slowly descend upon the planet surface in a zig-zag fashion, with only a laser cannon and your cat-like reflexes to assist you.

Dick move.

Now, don’t get me wrong here. Space Invaders was indeed an amazing and revolutionary game when it originally came out, and still remains to this day as one of the greatest video games of all time. Over the years, the game has managed to embed itself almost universally in our popular culture, a feat that not many video games can claim. It would be difficult to find someone of just about any age today that doesn’t recognize the iconic alien creatures or the rhythmic, low-frequency pulses emitted as the invaders descend upon your lone ship. Space Invaders and its simple yet addictive stylings helped pave the way for the entire video game industry to reach the state where it is today.

You might think that now is where I would start to delve into the counter-point, where I begin to talk about how Space Invaders would quickly get left in the dust by the bigger and better games to come out over the later years as the capabilities of computers, arcade machines, and home consoles improved, but that really isn’t the case. While it’s true that many games have surpassed the bar set by Space Invaders, we’ve also had to deal with a bevy of horribly punishing and cheap platformers, half-assed merchandising tie-ins, clones of clones of clones of some random game from the 1980’s that no one knows about any more, and E.T. for the Atari 2600. You can even find a plethora of examples of completely awful games for the Super Nintendo on this site alone!

Further still, we have seen the target audience of video games make a shift over the years, from games with simple mechanics that one could pick up on somewhat easily using only two buttons and a directional pad, to more in-depth titles using significantly more complicated controls, dominated by angry 12-year-old boys screaming into Xbox 360 headsets with some of the most racist, sexist, and obscene language one could imagine. Much of this has started to come full-circle though, with companies like PopCap a handful of mobile phone developers making a decent profit on much more simple and accessible games that have arguably reached a larger fanbase than even some of the most popular, big-budget titles today.

But still, it’s kind of annoying that all we get is a fairly simple copy of some old arcade game Taito had lying around in its back catalog.

Capcom’s Soccer Shootout

Do…do you feel it? In the air? It’s nearly here…

IT’S WORLD CUP FEVER, BABY!

And what better way to celebrate the upcoming tournament with a retrospective look at Capcom’s Soccer Shootout for the Super Nintendo?

Wait…no, don’t answer that.

Soccer Shootout (or, as it is known in Europe, umm…also Soccer Shootout) lets you and up to four other players compete as one of 12 international teams in an effort to kick a ball into the other team’s goal more times than they manage to kick the ball into your own goal. It may sound easy, but keep in mind that you’re also not allowed to use your hands. This frustrated the hell out of me at first, but it turns out that this rule doesn’t apply when you’re playing a video-game version and not the real thing.

MOVING ON…

I don’t really have much soccer video game experience with which to compare this to, so I’ll leave you with these thoughts: while Capcom’s Soccer Shootout is by and far a better soccer game than this chicken burrito I had for lunch, the chicken burrito was much more delicious and filling. Despite having completed the burrito in less than ten minutes, I can almost guarantee I will purchase another in the near future as I have done so in the past, perhaps many more times over the upcoming years. In all, the chicken burrito has far more accessible controls, a much more widespread appeal, and tastes multitudes better than Capcom’s Soccer Shootout.

The Simpsons: The Itchy & Scratchy Game

They fight! They fight!
They fight, they fight, they fight!
Fight fight fight! Fight fight fight!
FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT! FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT!?


FIGHT FIGHT FIGHTFIGHTFIGHTFIGHTFIGHTFIGHTIFITHIFHIGHGHGHGGHLARBLGHLUG
OH NO THEY KILL MILLIONS ON CONTACT!!

GRAB THE KIDS, MARGE, THE CAT AND MOUSE ARE ON A KILLING SPREE I HAVE THE CAR RUNNING.

NO THERE IS NO TIME FOR COMMAS OR PROPER PUNCTUATION^

NO STALLING, JUST LEAVE THE BOY HE IS OF NO USE TO SOCIETY.

OH NO THEY ARE ALREADY HERE!! SHIT RUN, WOMAN, RUN!! I HAVE MAGGIE!!

WHAT? NO WE MUST KEEP MOVING! THE HOUSE IS LOST!!

AND THROW THAT DAMN BLUE WIG OUT NOW! THEY CAN SEE IT FOR MILES. THEY HAVE THE EYES OF HAWKS.

YES, I SAW THE LITTLE MONSTERS REMOVE THEM FROM THE HAWKS MYSELF.

OH HELL, NOW THEY ARE OPENING FIRE!!

SHIT!! WE JUST LOST A TIRE. I CANNOT MAIN-TAAIINNN CONTROL OF THE AUTOMOBILE!‽

(Tree)

OH GOD, ARE YOU ALRIGHT? WHAT…WHAT DO YOU MEAN I AM BLEEDING?IT IS OF NO CONSEQUENCE SURVIVAL IS KEY.

GINGER SNAPS THE DOOR IS JAMMED! IF I CAN JUST…GET…IT…OPEN…

SHIT, THEY ARE ALREADY HERE!! I CANNOT BREAK FREE!! YOU MUST FLEE WITH THE GIRLS YOURSELF!!

STOP STALLING AND JUST LEAVE ME HERE!! I AM ALREADY LOST!!

Just remember, honey…I’ll always love you…

(…doh…)

The Itchy & Scratchy shooowww!!

Shien’s Revenge

Shien’s Revenge puts you in control of a disembodied ninja hand on a quest through time to rescue its kidnapped girlfriend. Unfortunately, the past, present, and future are full of an odd array of characters fixated on trying to keep a severed hand from reuniting with its loved one, so you end up having to fight them off through various eras, equipped with a just a small blade, throwing stars, and a handful of magical pink spheres.

I believe this game has a fair bit to teach us about tolerance. Before playing it, I had never really considered a romantic engagement between a dismembered human appendage and a young, fully intact woman. Admittedly, I was a bit put off at first. I mean, horror-show elements aside, the logistics of such a relationship are somewhat confusing to say the least.

Okay, maybe not that confusing really, but we don’t have to go there.

In the end though, we must learn to look past the superficial and focus on the singular truth:

That love, in all its forms, is still love…umm…man.