games / Columns

Top 8 SNES Hidden Gems

August 6, 2019 | Posted by Marc Morrison
X-Men Mutant Apocalypse

Welcome all to another edition of The 8 Ball. I originally planned to have this column up last week but trying to get through more games than I initially anticipated delayed it. I recently picked up one of those Analogue Super NT’s and have been diving back deep into my SNES collection. For this topic, I didn’t want to pick the “big” games out there. Everyone has played Super Mario, or Super Metroid, or Legend of Zelda: LttP. This list is focusing on more “B” tier games that are well worth a look at, if you like the SNES. Enjoy:

#8: Uniracers

Uniracers is a pretty rad little racing game that I am just awful at. Hence, why it is fairly low on this list. Still, the game has some interesting hooks to it and can be fun, at least until the AI starts destroying you. You control a unicycle as you whip around tracks, usually against another racer or a few of them. The tracks all have a lot of jumps and things to provide air, and when you are in the air you can perform stunts to give yourself a speed boost. I just personally never got a great handle, pardon the pun, on the trick system. I could do basic tricks but anytime I tried to do something flashy, I would always end up crashing.

#7: Home Improvement: Power Tool Pursuit

If it didn’t, bizarrely have the Home Improvement license to contend with, more people might actually like this game. It’s a pretty bog-standard platformer for its time, you run, jump, and deal with enemies using an array of power tools. This game didn’t do anything new to break the mold, but the idea of Tim Taylor fighting robotic raptors with a nail gun is still an intriguing, if incredibly stupid, concept.

#6: The Adventures of Batman and Robin

Batman and Robin on the SNES would probably be considered the first “good” Batman game. And there wasn’t another good one for 15 years until they made Arkham Asylum. In this version, you only play as Batman, taking down the various villains from the show. Probably one of the more standout sequences is when you fight the Joker on a set of speeding rollercoaster trains, as the camera swings somewhat around for a 2D game. The game was fairly challenging to me as a kid, there’s some deductive work in there that isn’t explained well, but it’s still a great looking and playing Batman game.

#5: Super Bonk

Super Bonk has the distinction of being the last Bonk game released in America, which is a real shame. While I’m not the greatest Bonk historian ever, I did like the little guy on the TubroGrafx-16 and the SNES version was mostly complete. The actual control felt a tad stiffer on the SNES but that’s about the only real complaint. In this one, Bonk has his usual powers, headbutting, meat eating/transforming, wall climbing, etc., but he also can eat candy to transform. The two transformations are Giant Bonk and Tiny Bonk, and each has their own uses in getting around the levels. This game is fairly hard, not so much in enemy design but the levels all have some winding paths or non-linear design, so you can get lost somewhat easily.

#4: Aaahh!!! Real Monsters

If you actually manage to play this game, it could best be described as an almost Trine predecessor. In the game, you can control one of the three main monsters, Ickis, Krumm or Oblina at any given time. You can switch between the monsters at the push of a button, but each monster has a unique ability. Ickis can glide/fly, Oblina can straighten up to reach high platforms, and Krumm can go golfing with one of his eyes to use it as a spy camera for the level. The actual platforming is kind of a mess, again, just like Trine, but the idea of controlling a trio of characters with each having a specific power was pretty neat for its time.

#3: X-Men: Mutant Apocalypse

What do you get when you combine a character action game with a Capcom game? X-Men comes pretty close. There are five X-Men to pick, Wolverine, Gambit, Beast, Cyclops and (everyone’s favorite) Psylocke as they go through various levels, beating up robots and evil mutants. This is pretty par for the course. However, to use your actual powers, you had to input directional commands like a Street Fighter game. So, Cyclops standing Optic Blast was down, forward punch. His crouching Optic Blast was forward, down punch. Gambit could throw a regular energy card with, forward, forward punch. Or throw three cards with down, forward punch. Or lastly throw a card directly up with up, up, attack. Each character had these directed attacks and you had to learn them to get actually good at the game.
#2: Star Trek: The Next Generation – Future’s Past

Star Trek games never translated super well to a console. Generally, the “good” Star Trek games are on computer, be it ship simulator, FPS, or strategy game. The lone exception was the TNG game for the SNES. This game had two parts: one involved you commanding Away Teams of 4 members on planets as you found the right person/area and had to deal with Romulans soldiers. The other part was a top-down shooter where you commanded the Enterprise-D as you took on Romulan and other alien ships in a very fun mini-game. The Away Team stuff is kind of…well, “not good” is being generous but the ship stuff is a reason to play it. Also, the game has a decent amount of Star Trek history in its database which is interesting to read.

#1: Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers

A lot of people will doubt me, but the first Power Rangers game on the SNES is superb. It was made during the early parts of the show, so no Tommy or later things from the show. It just had the original 5 Rangers going up against some of Rita’s earlier monsters like the “Eye Guy” or Bones. Each Ranger had different attacks/super moves, like Kimberly could fire her bow, or Zach had a unique move-set. The best character in the game was actually Billy, because in both his human and Ranger forms, he had multi-hit attacks that could really decimate enemies. The game also had a few Megazord boss fights for the end, including a secret 2-player mode, where I still have some fond memories of playing it with my dad. This isn’t the deepest or longest game in the world, but it’s one I still enjoy to this day.

For comments, list your favorite hidden gems of the SNES system and why.

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The 8 Ball (Games), Marc Morrison