By Ben_H 2 Comments
Hello and welcome to my new, and first, blog in which I discuss a SNES game and a Genesis game that I have played recently. The format of this blog will be a little bit different than what you are used to (Or not. I don't actually know). For SNES, all of the games I will be writing about I have not played before and will be going into cold. For the Genesis stuff, however, it will all be based on how a game holds up compared to memories from a good 15+ years ago since I just recently dug my Genesis out of the closet and hooked it up to play some Sonic 2. I’ve been planning this blog for about a month now but the old GB site didn’t allow me to fit my Biggie reference in for the title so I had to wait for the new site, which does allow more characters to be in titles.
Let’s start off with a bit of background information. I have played games since age 2. I started out with the NES, which was actually my brother's. One of my first gaming–related memories is playing Super Mario Bros. 3 multiplayer with my big brother though I also playing a metric tonne of Duck Hunt. I’ve always been what you would call a Nintendo person. The first console game I actually owned myself was Super Smash Bros. for the N64, my first console I personally bought was the Gamecube, and my first hand-held was the Gameboy Pocket, though it was shared with my older brother, like most of our early game stuff. At the same time I have always been a PC game person. At age 4 I had a computer with a monochrome monitor in my room, which I used mostly to play this bombass golf game on. It was so much fun. I’ve been playing games mostly on PC ever since except for the odd year or so when I switch to console before switching back. I jumped onto the console train at the start of this current generation but about 2 years ago started to get bored, so I decided to start buying old games and playing those instead since I seem to have way more fun with them than most modern games.
And this is where this blog comes in. Ashamedly, I have almost no experience with the SNES. My brother was the one who had a say in what console we got, and he decided that the Genesis did something that Nintendon’t so that is what we ended up with. That is not to say that is a bad thing. There are some really great Genesis games, some great SNES games, and some ports that are abhorrent on either platform (I will be covering those as well. They are immediately cheap so it makes it rather easy. Writing about questionable games can be fun.) I’ve played probably a hundred Genesis games overall, because we used to have 2-for-1 $1.99 rentals so every week my dad would take my brother and I to go get a game each. Man that was awesome.
My only experience with the SNES as a child was with my cousin’s hand-me-down SNES he got from one of my other cousins (I have a big extended family). I was always super duper pumped to go to their house because they had a SNES and that meant Super Mario World, Donkey Kong Country, and Mario Kart.
Anyhow, let’s get this going.
Also, as a disclaimer, I am NOT playing emulated versions of any of the games written about on here. I own physical copies of everything played and all games are played on an actual SNES or Genesis on a CRT television.
SNES Game #1: Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars
I’m not done Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars yet but I have had a blast so far. The music in it is amazing. I’d heard about the mythical Forest Maze music and it definitely did not disappoint when I first heard it. Almost all of the music in the game so far I would qualify as at least very good, if not superb because of how it adds to the various environments.
The most hilarious thing so far is that this game forced me to dig out an old CRT television to play it. I had been playing it on my newer Samsung LCD and kept missing all the bonus damage timings, which is really strange because I never had issues with that with any of the other half dozen Mario RPG games I had played. I kinda did figure the timing out on my LCD but it was to inconsistent and basically involved hitting A when the character was half way to his attack position. Switching to CRT solved this issue and has allowed me to actually start playing.
The first thing I noticed is how shockingly similar Paper Mario felt to this game. The combat is so similar but I can understand why they kept using it in later Mario RPG games. It is a lot of fun and the timing-based attacks do a great job at keeping battles from turning into JRPG grindathons even though technically they still are in this game. Battle animations look surprisingly sharp and make it clear to see what is going on. Basically all the battle systems seen in later Mario RPGs are here. In terms of difficulty, the game doesn’t seem too difficult. I just finished the huge tower and have yet to die, with most fights seeming fairly one-sided outside of lucky hits. I don't know if I am overleveled or something, but yeah. I don't mind though because I am not here for the combat, but for the writing, music, and environments.
The writing in SMRPG is absolutely brilliant. It is one of the few games I’ve played recently that has actually made me smile and laugh while playing. There is no pop culture garbage like in Borderlands 2, there is no extreme vulgarity or crude humour, just honest, witty dialogue and cute yet endearing character names (I adore whoever thought of the name Frogfucius). The Paper Mario games also were amazing in the writing department but I did not expect this one to be as good as them from a writing standpoint simply because of age and the different developers (in this case, Squaresoft).
Overall Super Mario RPG is a ton of fun to actually play and experience, something I can’t say about many modern big blockbuster consoles game. There are no “visceral” moments in the game that make you judge off instinct, there is not a single life-or-death decision to be made. You take Mario, Mallow, and Geno and go on an adventure. There is something about the simplicity of this game that I really miss in modern games. I guess that is why I am doing this whole “play lots of old games and write about them” thing in the first place.
Genesis Game #1: Barkley:Shut Up and Jam!
Remember what I said about discussing games that were ported to both the SNES and Genesis and potentially were not all that great? Well, welcome to Barkley: Shut Up and Jam, which was a multiplatform game that came out on the SNES and the Genesis. I played it on the Genesis. This was a game I played for hours as a kid against my older brother (who somehow got suckered into buying this. But he also bought Awesome Possum so I already questioned his taste). It is not a particularly deep game (Or good in any way for that matter). You play 2-on-2 basketball as a team with an assortment of made-up basketball players, and Charles Barkley, who is called Sir Charles in this game. My team was always Barkley and T-Bone, the dude with the kinda Coolio/ODB haircut, unless my brother snagged Barkley because he had the highest stats and my brother would do anything and everything to beat me at games. The copy I played for this has been in my possession for more than half my life. Why? I don't even know.
Ok let’s go over the mechanics of Shut Up and Jam. You can slam, you can jam(!), and you can shoot ranged shots (Slam and Jam are the same thing. I just am using these terms because welcome to the Space Jam). You have a little energy bar with replenishing energy pellets that from what I can tell lets you run faster and slam/jam fancier. Defense is not particularly deep. You press one button to steal the ball if they are on the ground and it usually works. If they are going to slam/jam you jump then press previously said button and you steals the ball out of the air. There is no shot timer or anything, the only rule I have seen enforced is goaltending. There are no modes other than series, which is best-of-X, where you can change X in the options to be an odd number, or Tournament, where you have to choose a location that has preset players then work your way through the other teams. FUN.
Let’s move onto graphics, and this is where memory versus reality really starts to kick in. I remembered this game looking not too bad for a Genesis game. Each player was distinct enough that you knew who they were and the backgrounds were serviceable. This is not the reality. This game looks AWFUL. Everything is crazy fuzzy and nothing is sharp. The graphics do not hold up now and probably never did in the past either.
For sound, outside of fuzzy recordings of Barkley telling you to do various things, there isn’t much to talk about. The music is generic Genesis-sounding funky music(Not saying the Genesis produced bad music. There is some amazing music in Genesis games), and fuzzy sounding basketball sounds. I remembered it being way better sounding than this, but then again most of the time I had the volume muted, picked Miami as my home court and then blasted Will Smith’s “Miami” while I played this game when I was 6. No I am not kidding.
Barkley: Shut Up and Jam is a game I should have left in the past but only decided to play because I thought would be fun to review it in wake of all the Shut Up and Jam Gaiden stuff. That was a bad decision, but I am sure many more bad decisions to come as I write about various Genesis games and my experiences with them, including the wonders of playing Street Fighter 2 with a 3 button controller, and how even as a 6 year old I knew Awesome Possum was a complete steaming pile of doggy doodoo.
Anyhow, thanks for reading if you made it to the end. I’m sure most of the comments (if there are any)will be about the title but that is ok. I will possibly be back next week since it is break for university and I will probably be bored.