Category Archives: Super NES

#93: Super Star Wars

Format: Super NES Genre: Run and Gun Released: 1993 Developer: Sculptured Software/Lucasarts

Super Star Wars blew my tiny little adolescent mind when I first played it. Graphically it was superb, with crisp and colourful visuals that really captured the look of the film, and even today it still looks pretty damn good. In particular, I remember the Mode 7-generated battle above the Death Star was spectacular at the time, as was the climactic fight against Darth Vader’s TIE fighter at the end – although sadly I only saw this on a couple of occasions because the game was so f*****g hard. But more on that in a minute…

As well as looking fantastic, Super Star Wars sounded amazing. In fact, I’d go so far as to say it has possibly the best sound effects and music on the SNES – the 16-bit versions of the famous Star Wars tunes are absolutely spot on, and the sound effects are probably the meatiest on the console (apart, perhaps, from the OTT gun noises in Super Smash TV). Particular praise should go to the noise that the womp rats make when you shoot them – it sounds more like a train being shunted off a bridge than the demise of a fleshy sci-fi creature (listen to the video below to hear for yourself). But then again, the extravagant sound effects are in keeping with a run and gun game that has all the knobs turned up to 11 – I mean, practically everything explodes in a ball of flame when you shoot it, even the Jawas (who also fly comically off the screen with a satisfying ‘ooOOOtiiini’ noise lifted straight from the film).

Apparently Luke used to bullseye womp rats in his T-16 back home, although here it appears he couldn't hit a barn door with a banjo.

But for all its preening good looks and aural bombast, Super Star Wars was always a little rough around the edges when it came to the gameplay department. Sadly, the massive sprites and evocative music don’t quite cover up the shoddy collision detection, inept bosses and utterly infuriating level design…

…but at the time I could forgive it – the all-consuming desire to see the next gorgeously realised level had me hooked, and the showy visuals – not to mention the fact that it’s Star Wars goddammit – were enough to keep me plugging away until I finally, FINALLY, managed to finish it. Although looking back now with the benefit of hindsight, I’m amazed I had the patience…

The landspeeder had considerably more 'oomph' in the game than it did in the film.

Here at 101 Video Games, we generally write our reviews based on our personal memories of the games, rather than what they’re actually like to play now. The idea is to generate a record of the games that enriched our lives, rather than a list of ‘top’ games – hence the inclusion of games that taught us a valuable life lesson (Rise of the Robots) or that simply made us smile (Dog Walking). However, I got so nostalgic about Super Star Wars after watching videos of it while researching this post, I ended up downloading it from the Wii Virtual Console so I could play it again.

A fatal mistake.

What do you mean, "you don't remember this from the movie"?

It all started off pleasantly enough as I happily romped across the dunes of Tatooine, blasting the local fauna into oblivion with carefree abandon and generally having a whale of a time. But then I started noticing the cracks…

[Lewis sits playing through the first level of Super Star Wars. Gradually his brow begins to furrow and a slight frown plays across his mouth as he nears the end of the stage. We listen in to his internal monologue…] “Hold on, no matter what I do, I don’t seem to be able to avoid getting hit by these creatures – maybe my reflexes aren’t as good as they used to be? …Or is it because you actually CAN’T avoid them and the developers just decided to throw loads of health boosts at you to make up for it? Wait a minute, here’s the sarlacc pit boss… oh, you can’t avoid his attacks either. And now I’m dead and the restart point seems to be practically at the beginning of the level. That’s …erm… frustrating.”

Worst. Boss. Ever.

Yes, 17 years is a long time in the world of video games, and little things we now take for granted – like reasonably spaced restart points – were thin on the ground back in 1993. But there are some aspects of Super Star Wars that are frankly just the result of poor design, like the inability to avoid getting hit, or the all-too-common ‘leaps of faith’ where you can’t see the platform you’re meant to be jumping onto (which usually results in you landing in that all-too-common ‘insta-kill’ lava instead).

[We rejoin Lewis’s inner monologue as he starts level 3 outside the Jawa sandcrawler.] “Ah, I remember this bit! I love that noise the Jawas make when you shoot them! Right, just need to make my way to the top of the sandcrawler by navigating these moving, wafer-thin platforms… Oh. I’ve fallen right back to the beginning. Right let’s try again… Hmm, seems a little tricky to persuade Luke to do that spinny ‘super jump’ thing, I seem to end up doing a ‘normal’  jump half of the time… Oh. I’ve fallen again.]

"Stay on target. Stay on target. Stay on... oh, I'm dead."

[Fifteen minutes later…]

“Right, finally got to the top! Now I just need to jump insid… hold on, gun emplacements? WTF? Oh. Dead again.”

[Another fifteen minutes later…]

“OK, I think I’m getting near the bottom of the sandcrawler now, although those myriad boucing lasers and security flamethrowers were a tad annoying. Still, I’ve been playing for ages, so I can’t be too far away… Hold on, I’ve come to a dead end and I can’t see what’s at the bottom of this drop. Must be another platform I guess, I’ll just jump down… Oh. It’s ‘insta-kill’ lava. That’s a bit… erm… irritating. Oh, and I’ve been taken back to almost the very beginning of the level… Right, I think I need to stop playing and find somewhere I can hurl this controller in rage without damaging any expensive electronics equipment.”

In a nutshell, Super Star Wars is just a tiny bit infuriating. But my younger self just couldn’t get enough of it – perhaps in the pre-internet, pre-‘instant access’ era I had a little more patience. And let’s face it, games were just harder back then, not like these namby-pamby modern games.

So bearing that in mind, I’ve decided to embrace Super Star Wars for what it is and dismiss its faults as the foibles of a bygone age – welcome to our video game canon old friend. Although if it’s all right with you, I’d prefer to remember you as the esteemed game of my youth rather than the frustrating throwback I bought in a fit of nostalgia.

(Skip to the 2.30 mark to go straight to the gameplay.)

Lewis

(Cover art from www.mobygames.com, screenshots from www.gamefaqs.com)

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Filed under 1993, Lucasarts, Run and Gun, Sculptured Software, Super NES

#76: Super Smash T.V.

Format: Super NES Genre: Run and Gun Released: 1992 Developer: Williams/Acclaim

The Super NES version of Smash T.V. was spot on. In fact, the SNES controller might as well have been specifically designed to work with the game, such was the perfect fit of the four facia buttons with the multidirectional shooting required in the game. Plus the SNES conversion was practically arcade perfect in terms of graphics and sound – a rare feat in the early 90s.

And of course, come the inevitable playground argument about the relative merits of the Super NES versus the Megadrive, Super Smash T.V.‘s control system provided yet more ammunition to remorsely fire into the soft underbellies of SEGAphiles. I remember SEGA did eventually get round to releasing a six-button pad for the Megadrive, but I think it was a looooong time after Smash T.V. came out, so I’m not sure how the designers got around the problem of letting players shoot and run in different directions when they only had three buttons to play with. I know that on the NES the player had to use the D-pad on two controllers to simulate the dual joysticks of the arcade version, but of course that meant you needed four joypads to play with two players.

The two player mode was definitely the way to play Super Smash T.V. The game was fun in one player, but it was a helluva lot more fun with two people and, thankfully, a little bit easier. In fact, the game’s difficulty was legendary – although it only had three levels (each comprised of several rooms), I only ever got to the end on a couple of occasions, and I don’t think I ever completed it. I loved the bosses though – Mutoid Man, the level 1 boss, is up there with the best end-of-level baddies of all time, along with Kraid from Super Metroid and Bowser in Super Mario 64.

The game was clearly based on The Running Man, and the film’s sense of black humour was carried over wholesale into the game. I loved the way that at the end of every level your score was judged on the amount of toasters and VCRs you grabbed, and the game had a very nasty habit of carefully positioning wads of tempting cash directly over mines. Despite the danger though, there was always the compulsion to collect every single prize on offer, just so you could glory in having a slightly larger pile of toasters than your friend at the end of the level. It’s the little victories that count in life.

For me though, it was the sound effects that really made Smash T.V. stand out from the crowd. The host’s endlessly repeated soundbites are still echoing around my head to this very day:

“BINGO!”

“Good luck! You’ll need it!”

“Biiiiig money!!! Biiiiig prizes!!! IIIII LOVE IT!!!!”

“I’d buy that for a dollar!”

That last one was lifted directly from Robocop – the designers certainly didn’t hold back on their referencing of movies set in a satirical dystopian future.

It wasn’t just the sampled speech that made the game stand out though – Super Smash T.V. featured some of the meatiest gun noises and explosions I’ve ever heard in a SNES game. Even the puny handgun you start with sounds like some sort of artillery cannon, and after you acquire a heftier weapon and the screen has fills with enemies, it sounds like World War Three has broken out. Listen below to see what I mean… and look out for the fight with Mutoid Man at the end – the only game character I can think of that carries a spare head inside his ribcage.

Lewis

(Screenshots from http://www.gamefaqs.com, http://www.vgmuseum.com and http://www.giantbomb.com)

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Filed under 1992, Acclaim, Run and Gun, Super NES, Williams

#70: Starwing (Star Fox)

Format: Super NES Genre: 3D Shooter/Rail shooter Released: 1993 Developer: Nintendo/Argonaut Software

I remember seeing the first screenshots of Star Fox* in a games magazine and being totally confused by what appeared to be a random jumble of triangles. But when I finally saw the game in motion (probably on the mediocre ITV games show Bad Influence) it completely blew my tiny little adolescent mind. 3D? On the Super NES? What black magic is this?!

That’ll be the Super FX chip then, which not only made all them fancy polygons possible, it also made the game pretty damn expensive (about £55 I seem to remember, although correct me if I’m wrong). Still, it was worth every penny, if only to score bragging rights in the playground. And do you know what? The game felt expensive.

For a start the cartridge was noticeably heavier than other SNES carts – and everyone knows heavy equals expensive – but beyond that it was obvious that a lot of time, effort and money had been put into polishing and tweaking every little bit of the game. The music was fantastic, a sweeping orchestral score that perfectly fitted the grandiose space opera storyline, and the sound effects were also spot on (except for the noise of your Arwing being hit by laser fire, which sounded oddly like someone punching through a sheet of A4 paper).

Graphically, Star Fox was leagues ahead of anything else around at the time on home consoles – there just wasn’t anything like it. It seems odd to think now, but in 1993 3D was a rare novelty that was almost entirely confined to cutting edge arcade games (I remember when my local Quasar centre got a Virtua Fighter arcade cabinet – swarms of us gathered round it in awe like it was the Holy Grail). But the key thing about Star Fox was that it had the gameplay to back up the good looks, with varied and interesting levels and some ingenious bosses. I particularly liked the final confrontation, when old monkey-faced villain Andross conjured up an enormous floating head that promptly tried to swallow you whole.

It’s a shame there weren’t a few more Super FX games – apart from Star Fox, the only ones I remember are the brilliant Stunt Race FX and the not-so-brilliant Vortex… although a quick look on Wikipedia reveals that the chip found its way into Doom and Super Mario World 2 as well. It seems a shame that Argonaut went to so much time and trouble on building their little magic chip only for it to be used so little… although I suppose it was pretty expensive to manufacture, which must have put off most developers.

Star Fox wasn’t a particularly long game, but the branching routes and secret levels made it eminently replayable. I must have played through the whole thing at least a dozen times, which is partly a reflection of the game’s brilliance and partly a reflection of my limited games collection (I think I had about six games in all).

It’s hardly surprising I didn’t have many games – this was in the days when the secondhand games market didn’t really exist and most games kept their value for much longer (as opposed to today’s games market, where new titles drop to half price a couple of months after release). Games took months to save up for, and I could only afford to buy two or three a year – but Star Fox was worth every penny of my pocket money.

Lewis

*Well, technically it was called Starwing in the UK for interminably dull legal reasons (and presumably for the same reasons, the sequel was called Lylat Wars instead of Star Fox 64). But everyone I knew called it Star Fox anyway.

(Screenshots from http://www.vgmuseum.com/)

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Filed under 1993, 3D Shooter, Argonaut Software, Nintendo, Rail Shooter, Super NES

#49: Mortal Kombat II

Format: Super NES Genre: Fighting Released: 1993 Developer: Midway

[A swoosh of static gives way to an ‘insert disk’ icon, accompanied by two electronic bleeps. Rudimentary wireframe graphics flit over the screen as choral singing emanates from the television speakers, accompanied by a clanging industrial beat.  The wireframe shapes resolve into a kind of gothic throne, and as the music reaches a crescendo we zoom onto the face of the throne’s occupant – Patrick Moore. Suddenly there’s a crash of thunder, the screen whites out, and in the place of Patrick Moore’s sage visage is the word ‘GamesMaster’, with the ‘M’ picked out in florid gothic script.]

[Cut to the inside of what appears to be some kind of cathedral. Wild cheering erupts from the assembled audience as the camera swoops towards a figure dressed in a red sports jacket and crisply ironed white trousers. The look is topped off with floppy hair and Lennon glasses.]

Dominik Diamond: Hello, and welcome to GamesMaster.

[The excited cheering dies down and Dominik turns to camera 2, hands clasped earnestly.]

DD: And without further ado, let’s go over to GamesMaster to find out tonight’s challenge!

[The be-monocled face of the renowned astronomer and (supposed) games expert Patrick Moore fizzes into life on the screen, topped by some kind of metal cowl that looks like it was knocked up on an Amiga in someone’s lunch break.]

GamesMaster: Greetings! Tonight’s challenge is on the gore-fest Mortal Kombat II. The pugilists will have 1 minute to inflict as much damage as possible on their opponent. Extra points will be awarded for brutality!

DD: Thank you GamesMaster! So let’s meet tonight’s opponents – Jet from Gladiators and The Bloke From 2 Unlimited!

[Wild applause accompanied by industrial music. Jet and The Bloke From 2 Unlimited walk down the aisle of the church, escorted by two monks. Jet is wearing her Gladiators costume and looks slightly uncomfortable at being surrounded by an audience of leering 14-year-old nerds. I’d describe The Bloke From 2 Unlimited but no-one can actually remember what he  looks like. Let’s face it, he wasn’t the one you were looking at in the videos. The challengers take their seats. Dominik moves into what appears to be an altar and stands next to a man wearing a garish bandana and a hoodie.]

DD: And with me as always in the commentary box is Rad Toon from Mean Machines magazine. So Rad, can you give the contestants some advice?

Rad Toon: Well, what they’ve really got to focus on is moving their characters next to each other and pressing the punch or kick buttons. The real experts, like me, can use secret combinations of button presses to unleash what we in the industry call ‘special moves’, but perhaps we shouldn’t get ahead of ourselves.

DD: And what about fatalities? Do you think we’ll see any of those today?

RT: [Looks confused] …what?

DD: OK, thanks Rad, let’s go over to the contestants. Jet, The Bloke From 2 Unlimited, you have 1 minute to pound your opponent into submission, starting… NOW!

[Wild cheering as the fight begins. The Bloke From 2 Unlimited is using Kung Lao and immediately unleashes a special move, flinging his razor-edged hat across the screen and causing Jet’s character, Scorpion, to spout fountains of blood. Jet looks down at her controller in confusion and starts pressing the A button repeatedly. The she laughs a bit – a rather self-aware laugh, as if she’s feeling suddenly awkward. She has clearly never played a computer game in her life.]

RT: Jet is using some classic Mortal Kombat tactics here, repeatedly pressing one button to create a flurry of fists that’s all but impossible to penetrate. But wait! She’s switched tactics! Now she’s making a stealthy retreat by running in the opposite direction from her opponent and just crouching in a corner… Ah, but The Bloke From 2 Unlimited has seen through the ruse and is just kicking her repeatedly… Jet’s trying a new tactic – she’s put down the controller and has starting doing her hair in an effort to confuse her opponent. But it hasn’t worked! The Bloke From 2 Unlimited is doing something with the controller… the screen’s gone dark… wait, what’s Kung Lao doing? Oh my God he’s sliced Scorpion in half! I didn’t know you could do… I mean, of course, the classic Kung Lao fatality, it’s what I always do when I play against my games expert friends. Who I always beat, by the way.

DD: Thanks Rad, now let’s go over to the contestants. Jet, what happened?

Jet: Did I lose? I thought I was the other one!

DD: And on that bombshell it’s time to go over to GamesMaster for the Consoltation Zone.

[Cut to a dodgy-looking CGI room. A short, rotund child with glasses materialises in front of the GamesMaster.]

Rotund Child: [Speaking with lisp] GamessssMaster, how do I get infinite lives on Joe & Mac: Caveman Ninja on the Sssssuper NESSS?

[Before you can hear GamesMaster’s wisdom on the subject, a shout of “TEA’S READY!!!” echoes from the kitchen. You press the television off switch and GamesMaster’s Amiga-generated face shrinks to a white dot in the middle of the screen.]

Scorpion vs. President Baraka with classic ‘toasty’ fatality.

Dexter Fletcher-era Gamesmaster, featuring the actors from Mortal Kombat.

Lewis

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Filed under 1993, Fighting, Midway, Super NES

#48: Super Probotector: Alien Rebels

Format: Super NES Genre: Run and Gun Released: 1992 Developer: Konami

Curiously, this game was released as Contra III in the US and Contra Spirits in Japan but was renamed Super Probotector for the European market, and the main characters – two Rambo-esque commandos – were replaced with robots. I have absolutely no idea why the change was made – did Konami think robots would have a stronger appeal for the European market? Or would we be averse to the charms of two All-American heroes?

STOP PRESS: I’ve just done a bit of research about the change to robot characters, and it seems it was done because of a German law that forbade the portrayal of humans killing other humans drafted by the Federal Department for Media Harmful to Young Persons. (Sounds like something out of Big Brother doesn’t it? The book that is, not the TV show.) I presume the law no longer stands, as since Contra: Legacy of War on the Playstation the PAL versions have remained unchanged from the US versions. And come to think of it, if the law was still in place, Germans would face a serious games shortage – no Modern Warfare, no Tomb Raider, no Far Cry, no pretty much anything except Little Big Planet and Mario. But then again, perhaps there’s something to be said for not shooting your fellow human beings in the face… I mean, why can’t we all just get along?

This screenshot is from Super Probotector, but the others are from Contra III (the US version). Note the commando has been replaced with a robot.

Anyway, I digress. Super Probotector was one of my all time favourite games for the SNES. It was rock hard, but the frenetic gameplay and fantastic graphics were more than enough reason to persevere through the endless stream of imaginatively designed enemies. The bosses deserve a special mention – the giant, fire-spewing tortoise at the end of level 1 was a particular delight, and one of the game’s stand-out moments was the reveal of a giant metal skeleton boss (see image further down the page). After seeing off two annoyingly persistent little jumping metal skeleton dudes, their big brother forces his way through the giant metal doors behind you and tries to light you up with his flame breath. Surely a potent warning against picking on the little guys.

Gasp in wonder as the plane swoops towards the screen - all hail Mode 7.

Another stand-out moment was the Mode 7 plane on level 1 (see above), which swooped in and napalmed the ground beneath you. There was a time when all anyone who owned a SNES could talk about was Mode 7 (which was some clever graphical trickery that allowed 2D objects to be stretched and pulled to make them look (sort of) 3D). It was the classic trump card whenever the whole Megadrive v SNES debate reared its ugly head in the playground – the MD owner would sneak in an early attack by mentioning the Sega console’s higher clock speed, which the SNES owner would parry by pointing to the visual wizardry of the Super NES’s Mode 7 genie. The MD owner would then throw down the tried and tested “but the Megadrive has more games”, to which the Nintendo-phile would retort “but the SNES has got Mario”, and so on, and so on, until fisticuffs ensued or a teacher intervened.

One of the occasional top-down sections.

I recently downloaded an XBLA trial game of an early version of Contra (not Contra III – I think it was Contra II, which originally came out on the NES). I’d forgotten just how difficult and unforgiving the Contra games are – being hit by even one bullet means instant death, and some absolutely pixel-perfect jumping is required to avoid the various hazards thrown at you. Back in ’92 I would happily keep retrying again and again to get through Super Probotector, but now the prospect of instant deaths, limited lives and no save game fills me with dread. After less than half an hour I gave up playing the demo, and couldn’t bring myself to purchase the full game.

All of the game's bosses were kind enough to reveal their weak spot with a great big red dot. Aim for the mouth my friend, aim for the mouth...

I guess it goes to show that the way I play games has changed – for me it’s not so much about the challenge nowadays as just wanting to see what comes next. I think games designers have realised this too – at some point they cottoned onto the fact that a lot of gamers just gave up if a game was too hard, which meant that most people would never get to see all of the lovingly created levels that the designers came up with. It’s safe to say that modern games are easier as a result – but there’s always the option to play on hard for the real masochists out there.

But all of this thoughtful chin-stroking still doesn’t change the fact that Super Probotector is one of my all time favourite games – I might have moved away from playing unforgiving hardcore shoot ’em ups, but this game is a shining example of the genre. Any game that features a level in which you hang from the underside of a missile while shooting down an enormous alien spaceship must be doing something right.

Lewis

Screenshots from www.vgmuseum.com.

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Filed under 1992, Konami, Run and Gun, Super NES

#40: NBA Jam

Format: Super NES Genre: Sports Released: 1993 Developer: Midway

You’ve probably noticed that there are precious few sports games on this list – the reason being that I hardly ever play them. I’ve never quite been able to get to grips with football games (people I’m playing against often wonder why I cheer when they score – it’s usually because I thought I was controlling their team), and the only sports game that has successfully piqued my interest in recent memory is Golf on Wii Sports. Back in 1993 though, you’d have had to pry the joypad out of my hands with a crowbar to stop me playing NBA Jam.

It’s not like I even like basketball – in fact I find it incredibly boring – but somehow this game managed to make basketball not only bearable to watch but actually exciting. Its first stroke of genius was to get rid of all those surplus players on the court – with only two players per team there’s none of the usual confusion you get with sports games over which player you’re controlling and where they’re going to pass the ball next and hold-on-I-didn’t-mean-to-pass-it-over-there-damn-you-computer-for-cheating-oh-now-you’ve-gone-and-scored DAMN THIS MACHINE. No, none of that.

The second wave of the genius wand ensured that all of the gameplay knobs were turned up to eleven – you don’t just slam dunk the ball in this game, you leap 30 feet into the air, spin 360 degrees, do the splits and dunk the ball so hard the backboard shatters, as multiple flashbulbs erupt in the audience and the announcer builds himself into a frenzy.

Realistic? No, but who cares, this is a video game, right?

"BOOMSHAKALAKA!"

Speaking of the announcer, the sampled speech was a real highlight – speech was rarity in games before the CD-based consoles arrived. As I remember, the announcers didn’t have that many soundbites, but for some reason they never got repetitive (maybe I was still tickled by the novelty of people speaking IN A GAME). The best bit was when a player scored three points in a row, which caused him to (literally) become ‘on fire’, accompanied by the commentator booming “HE’S ON FIRE!”. The phrase has penetrated my brain to such an extent that I still find myself thinking “HE’S ON FIRE!” every time I do something noteworthy in a game.

‘Achievement: Brumak Rodeo 10G’

[Thinks] “HE’S ON FIRE!”

"HE'S ON FIRE!"

But the true brilliance of NBA Jam emerged in multiplayer – the game was good when played alone, but it was utterly fantastic with four players. Along with Super Bomberman, it was one of the first games to be compatible with the Super NES multitap – imagine kids, you had to fork out £20 just to play with more than person! – and the two games barely left my SNES for the whole of 93 and 94. You can keep your Modern Warfare 2, just give me NBA Jam, four controllers, a bottle of Virgin Cola, Maid Marian and her Merry Men on the telly and several flavours of Push Pops, and I’ll be happy.

Lewis

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Filed under 1993, Midway, Sports, Super NES

#32: Killer Instinct

Format: Super NES/Coin-Op Genre: Fighting Released: 1994 Developer: Rare

Killer Instinct was fantastically naff really. The character designs were generally uninspired and the graphics had an odd sheen to them that made it look like everything had been sprayed with cooking oil. On top of this, most of the levels were incredibly murky (possibly in an attempt to make the game seem ‘darker’ and more adult), so the effect was a bit like watching bits of foil leaping about down a well. However, it was enormous fun to play, so that made everything all right.

killer_instinct_SNES

When the game came out, most gaming magazines trumpeted the fact that it was based on hardware from the long-awaited ‘Ultra 64’ (later rebranded with the decidedly more prosaic name ‘Nintendo 64’ when it was released two years later). As it turned out, this was all complete rubbish, and Killer Instinct actually turned up on the Super NES the next year, which somewhat tarnished its ‘next-generation’ image in my eyes (although it was hugely impressive that they managed to squeeze the whole game onto a SNES cartridge – obviously Rare is staffed by tiny gaming wizards with magic compression wands).

(Incidentally, Killer Instinct emerged at about the same time as Cruis’n USA, another game that was thought to be based on Ultra 64 architecture – unlike Killer Instinct however, Cruis’n USA was entirely bobbins and not really the best of adverts for Nintendo’s new console. Even if it wasn’t actually developed on one. Does that make sense?)

Killer Instinct ready screen

Killer Instinct fought its way into my life when I was going through the teenage phase of hanging around McDonald’s for want of anything better to do. Calendars, the American-style diner next door to MaccyD’s, decided to install a single Killer Instinct arcade machine right in their entrance hall, presumably to keep customers entertained while they were waiting for a table. Not that we ever let the actual customers have a go on it, although thanks to this particular coin-op my friends and I made a substantial contribution to Calendars’ revenue during the summer of ’95.

Killer Instinct Cinder

The game’s biggest gimmick was its combo system, which went above and beyond the call of duty – if I remember rightly, some characters could even deliver 56 hit combos (which I imagine would have been intensely irritating for the recipient).* My friends and I spent most of that long, hot summer poring over combo lists in the backs of game magazines, desperately trying to make longer and longer combos. I think the best I ever managed was 24.

Killer Instinct 80 hit Combo

Looking back, there were probably better things I could have been doing that summer than hanging around in the entrance to a restaurant and memorising complicated lists of button presses. But for the moment they escape me, as all I can think about is laying the smack down on shiny robot knights and Harryhausen-esque skeletons…

Hey, I wonder how much  Killer Instinct goes for on eBay…?

Lewis

*Although from the screenshot above, it looks like an 80 hit combo was possible. Cor, and indeed, blimey.

However, it was enormous fun to play, so that made everything all right.

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Filed under 1994, Coin-Op, Fighting, Rare, Super NES