Super graphics, super sound, Super Nintendo!  This successor to the wildly popular NES was flashier than either of its rivals.

BIKER MICE FROM MARS

KONAMI

ACTION/RACING

 

SUPER NES

 

 

 As humiliating as it is to say so, I have to admit that I like this game.  Back in the early 1990's, Konami had a habit of buying the rights to the most ridiculous cartoons and turning them into surprisingly good games.  I'm not sure if they do it for the challenge, or because their marketing division is as clueless as their programmers are talented.  Whatever's the case, I'll have to live with the shame of openly enjoying a game based on one of the most shameless Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles rip-offs ever made.  Thanks, guys.

Anyway, Biker Mice From Mars is a racing game, very similar to Super Mario Kart but with an isometric perspective that's more reminescent of Interplay's Rock 'n Roll Racing.  Its blandly colored, repetitive scenery isn't as impressive as the more realistic visuals of Super Mario Kart, but Biker Mice does offer the advantage of a wider range of vision, allowing you to better anticipate road hazards as well as the racers behind you.  There's no way you're going to get clipped by an unseen turtle shell in this game... if someone's about to attack you, you'll be able to see them line up the shot before firing.  This gives you the chance to, as they might say in biker circles, get out of the way if you want to lead and not follow.

Generally speaking, Biker Mice is very logically designed, with great ideas that haven't even been implemented in the most recent Super Mario Kart games.  Each character has their own special attack which replenishes every time they finish a lap... you're given just enough of them to keep the game from being frustrating but not so many that you're given an unfair advantage or are tempted to waste shots.  Players also get a random prize as a reward for completing a lap... if you're ahead, you'll generally get a sack of money for your efforts, but if you desperately need to catch up with the other racers, the computer will usually give you a nitro boost or even a star that makes you deadly to the touch.  Simply put, Biker Mice rewards you for top performance but gives lagging players a chance to get back into the game, keeping each race very close and very intense.

After every race, you'll get the chance to spend your prize money on accessories for your bike... or floating orb, or insect mech, or whatever you happen to have.  Each item noticably improves your ride, unlike a lot of these games where upgrades are negligable at best.  For instance, buying armor gives your vehicle another hit point (extremely important in the battle mode) and picking up missiles increases your stock of special attacks.  You can also improve your engine and tires, and as usual, it's a good idea to keep your traction and top speed well balanced... this isn't Drag Racing Mice From Mars, after all.

The graphics aren't exceptional, but they're faithful to the cartoon, and as usual, Konami put in a lot of little details that help add variety to the repetitive tracks.  Fireworks will go off at the last lap of any track sponsored by the game's shop Last Chance, and little crabs will fall out of any trees you bump into while racing in the tropics.  The special attacks are well animated, too... Grease Pit's mines reduce you to a melted pile of sludge on contact, and Karbunkle's mutant ray is pretty amusing... it's fun to watch one of the racers transform into a three eyed dwarf and desperately try to catch up with everyone else, with a pair of tentacles trailing behind him as he runs.  The best looking scene in the game is when a set of five races has concluded and the mice are literally seperated from the men.  All six racers are set on a long, straight track and all kinds of nasty things happen to the losers.  The best players manage to survive every catastrophe, and even outrace the track itself as it crumbles, reaching the winner's circle a split second before tumbling into the wreckage.

The artwork's only occasionally impressive, but the soundtrack is, like most Konami games of the time, exceptional.  It's got the same infusion of intense rock and familiar cartoon riffs that the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles games had, and although I could have done without the Biker Mice theme, everything else sounds great.  If you liked the cartoon, then everything will sound great to you, even cornball catchphrases like "Let's Rock... and Ride."

Yes, I'm willing to admit that I like this game.  I'm even willing to recommend it to everyone else.  But please, PLEASE, Konami, watch your licensing department a little more closely from now on.  I don't want to have to put my seal of approval on a Mega Babies game...

KRUSTY'S SUPER FUN HOUSE

ACCLAIM

FOX WILLIAMS

PUZZLE

 

SUPER NES

 

The Simpsons have been one of the hottest licenses back in the day and still possess amazing staying power after all this time.  However, their games have definitely been hit or miss.  Fortunately, Krusty's Super Fun House is one of the better titles based on the exploits of America's favorite animated family.

In an odd yet refreshing twist, you are cast as one of the supporting characters, Krusty the Klown, who must rid his latest attraction of the mice (possibly ratsÖ I donít have the instruction booklet!) that have infested every room. For reasons that donít really matter, Krusty eschews calling the pest exterminators and takes it upon himself to get the job done. Not only are there rats to contend with, but certain items must be collected before each area can be cleared, including but were not limited to flyers announcing the Fun Houseís opening. All of this is basically an excuse to use elements from Tetris, Lemmings, Gussun Oyoyo, and other classic puzzlers in a Simpsons game, and the result is more or less positive.

Krusty traverses each room and must use blocks or other moveable objects to manipulate the rats into traps operated by other Simpsons characters. There are enemies including aliens and snakes which must be dispatched using pies or bouncing balls. Only one object may be carried at a time, and each block must be precisely placed at the right time to achieve your objective. The mice climb one square at a time, and will turn and walk away if more than one block is on top of each other and directly in their path. Fortunately, blocks may be turned into makeshift staircases, and there are a variety of other helpful items... tubes and elbow joint pipes may be interconnected, creating a pathway which leads the rats to their doom, and wind blowers force the rodents into otherwise impossible to reach places.

The game's level design is well done and creative. KSFH start out simplistic and straightforward, but once the beginning levels get the player accustomed to its play mechanics, a daunting challenge awaits. Sometimes crossing the fine line between challenging and frustrating, this game is very rewarding once you finally do figure out just how the hell to get those damn mice to their sadistic, well-deserved demise. Like Lode Runner, this is one game that needs a suicide button, as sometimes you will inevitably make mistakes that leave you with no means of escape or victory. If this werenít aggravating enough, sometimes you will successfully rid a long, pain-in-the-ass level of all the mice only to be required to go back again because you didnít pick up the prizes or flyer or whatever the hell needs to be done before the door will be secured with a padlock. Your reward for all this hard work is a trip to an even more difficult funhouse.

In this type of puzzler, audiovisuals are not as important as gameplay. Here, the graphics and sounds are adequate but not outstanding. One nice touch is that the circusy music can be turned on or off during gameplay. The soundtrack is actually cute and appropriate, but I do find myself electing to play without a background score as this game requires a large investment of time and carnival tunes played ad nauseum will sooner or later drive me as mad as the title character. Posters and inside jokes are visible in just about every room, and instead of a health bar, Krustyís energy level is depicted by a charicature which grows more tired whenever the clown is injured.

Krustyís Super Fun House is one of those neat little games that slips through the cracks. Maybe Acclaim should stick to puzzle/strategy games, as this is one of the few winners in their lineup. Recommended.

MEGA MAN 7

CAPCOM

ACTION/SHOOTER

 

SUPER NES

 

 

Here we go again... Capcom knows damned well that there's no need for another one of these games, and yet slapped together Mega Man 7 in a rather obvious attempt to pander to the few but obnoxiously loud fans of the all too familiar series. I'm not saying that I didn't enjoy the first few games: in fact, I still consider the first Mega Man to be a revolution in NES game design, but that was nearly ten years ago. It's 1996 now (er, well, it was...), and Mega Man 7 shows no improvement over the NES games which spawned it. The graphics for instance are incredibly ugly, with gaudy purple backgrounds and milky foreground pastels which don't even scratch the surface of the SNES' extensive color palatte. Music? It's a cross between the jaunty NES tunes and the new, anime' inspired themes in Mega Man X (and Mega Man X2, and Mega Man X3, and... uh, you get the point...), so there's nothing new here either. And finally, we have the control. It's pretty good, but that means nothing when the game itself so unforgivably retread... some rounds are nearly identical to those in the second NES game, and surprise, surprise, you're forced to deal with the infamous chamber 'o bosses in Dr. Wiley's castle as well. It's like paying for a second copy of a game you already own! If you own any, and I mean ANY, other Mega Man game, you've already seen all there is to see in this one, so pass it by.



SUPER NES

tech specs

CPU

65C816

MHz

3.58MHz

RAM

128K

Media

cart, max 72Mb

Sound

Sony SPC700

Gfx

64K

Res

512x478

Color

256 of 32768

Sprite

128

Polys

N/A

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