Super Mario Kart
There are a few genres in gaming that I don’t talk about a lot. I haven’t played many sports games since I was a kid. I’m not really into the ‘4X’ strategy games that some of my friends gush over. One type of game that I’ve regularly played, though, and haven’t brought up is the ‘racing’ genre.
Nearly all of the major franchises from the 1990s ended up with some kind of racing title. Sonic Drift, Crash Team Racing, and even Final Fantasy had Chocobo Racing. One of the forerunners of this trend, of course, was the Mario franchise. When Super Mario Kart came out on the Super Nintendo, its colorful and chaotic cover art promised some new adventures involving a variety of characters from the universe we had all come to know and love. Given the number of spinoff games the franchise would receive, one could argue that Super Mario Kart opened the gates for the dearth of games we would see later on like Mario Party and Mario (insert name of sport here).
Even as a kid getting this game, though, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Playing as Mario without jumping on enemies and trying to navigate perilous worlds to save something? It was such a strange concept to me back then. Now, it seems as natural as any other idea given how many games bear the Mario Kart moniker. With the amount of time and refinement the games have gotten over multiple consoles and years, heading back to the beginning worried me. It could easily have been an undertaking of frustration that could decimate my nostalgia for the game.
Needless to say, I popped it in recently and gave it a whirl. What’s the worst that could happen? Continue reading
Seta U.S.A. / Affect
Genre: Action Platformer
Plain and simple confession right up front before this article commences: I absolutely adore “magical girl” anime. I think there’s something to be said for a genre that emphasizes friendship, inner strength, and over-the-top transformations and special powers. I grew up watching Sailor Moon among other cartoons in the morning and when I started dabbling back into anime, I managed to find a few series that fit the tropes that still hooked me today.
When I was a kid, I visited one of the three rental places in town and came across a copy of Valis IV for the Sega Genesis. I popped it in and played it non-stop until I had to bring it back. While I don’t remember renting it again, I do recall that it felt like the closest thing to a Sailor Moon game that I had seen, given the young girl protagonist transforming into a sword-swinging warrior fighting off grotesque enemies as she tried to save her world. Given my fantasy-slanted role models growing up, it was no surprise that I would gravitate toward games and heroines like that.
This story is not about Valis, however. This story is about Kendo Rage, a game that looked a lot like Valis on its cover- and turned into something a bit different once the game powered on. I’ve turned the game on a few times since the first time I played it, but I finally completed it recently, once again finishing up a memory from my gaming past that was incomplete. Given the twenty-five or so years of build-up it had gotten, I have more than a few thoughts to share on this little-known title from the Super Nintendo’s golden years.
3 Ninjas Kick Back
Malibu Interactive/Sony Imagesoft
Genre: Action Platformer
Movies aimed at kids can do a multitude of things. When you’re young, they can inspire you to try out new hobbies or interests you might not have before. I can still remember when Rookie of the Year came out and I immediately wanted to join a T-ball league. That’s a positive, right?
When you’re older, you tend to look back on them with fondness- even if it’s a cringe-inducing fondness that makes you realize that maybe you shouldn’t have quoted everything those kids said at recess, and now you understand why you were kept inside that one time you quoted Mouth from The Goonies.
They can also spawn a wide range of merchandise, the most important of which in the 1990s was the video game. Films have been the basis for video games for as long as most can remember. If there’s an opportunity to turn a few extra bucks by using interactive electronic media- well, why not? I still vividly remember the feeling that the 3 Ninjas movies left me with. I wanted to get out there and try karate. I wanted to fight off thugs and save the day with some friends; I’m an only child so I didn’t have two brothers to team up with. Honestly, though, I can’t say I remember too much about the actual movies.
While I never played 3 Ninjas Kick Back growing up, I figured I could give it a swing now. Of course with it being a licensed game, my reservations were high. In the back of my mind, I just kept thinking that there had to be some design ideas in there that could be interesting. At no point did I try to convince myself that it would be a good game, though.
Allow me to share my experience with you, o fellow game fan.
Genre: Action Platformer
During the days of the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis, a number of games thrived on the idea of normal people- usually kids to identify with the target audience- being transported into fantasy worlds and situations. In a meta-sense, this doubles down on the purpose of the game itself and proved to be effective in games like Comix Zone, Monster Party, and a variety of other works. DinoCity was a lesser known work that hasn’t garnered the same cult status as the previous two titles, but it is a game I remember vividly from my personal collection.
Heading up the dinosaur craze set forth in the 1990s, DinoCity is based on the made-for-television movie, Adventures in Dinosaur City, another lesser known film that you may have run across on a cereal fueled Saturday morning. As a rarely referenced video game based off of an obscure kids’ film, DinoCity doesn’t seem to have left the same impression as a number of other film adaptations, but that could be for the best given the reputation of games based on movies. How does the game stand up in the general spectrum of the Super Nintendo’s library of adaptations and platforming innovators?
Ogre Battle: The March of the Black Queen
Genre: Real Time Strategy RPG
Let’s face facts: if you were an RPG fan, the Super Nintendo was the place to be in the early nineties. Nearly every role-playing game that I can think of that I have fond memories of came from 1993 and the years surrounding it. While Squaresoft was pumping out games like Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy VI at the time, there were other companies staking land in other corners of the RPG marketplace, including their soon to be partners, Enix.
Ogre Battle: The March of the Black Queen is a game that falls into the ‘classic’ stable of games from the Super Nintendo era, as well. While the gameplay itself might make some people shake their heads, most gamers who grew up with the system know of Ogre Battle, even if by extension of some of the later entries in the series. I’ve found, though, that when asking people about this game, if they have played it, the opinions vary consistently.
With that said, here’s my take on the first entry to the series.