Saturday, November 8, 2014

My Personal SFC Recommendation Bar - 2014

Written: November 4th-8th, 2014
 
November 4th, 2014 NOTE
Hello everyone, StarBoy91 here; passionate about video games, big retrophile, and fan of all things 16-bit.  And that is precisely one of the reasons I'm making my latest entry.  =)
 
Ever since the Summer of 2012 I started importing Super Famicom games from Japan.  And it was such a delight too to open a new world of possibilities and experience games that were Japan-exclusives.  And I have my Retro Duo to thank for that; I would not have been able to play these games if not for that great system.  =) ... =(  And that's exactly another reason I decided to make this list.
 
You see, due to recent events something has transpired on the SFC/SNES slot of the Retro Duo.  There have been moments when sometimes a game would not work and the next time it would (after another try or two).  A part of me fears it may have been my fault (that, and the fact that there's no eject button so I have to carefully take the SFC cartridges out).  At least, that was a month ago (in October) when it started acting up like that.
 
Last week I found that the situation grew worse, which made me worry quite a bit.  I was lucky that a few more games were still playing on it (and I got some footage as well while it lasted), and here's what I mean by lucky: in the slot there are these little pins right at the center (where the thin board under the SFC cart slides in), and some of them became uneven.  After I pulled out the last game that I successfully managed to play, that's when the SFC/SNES slot of the Retro Duo stopped working (the NES slot is still operational).  I tried and I tried again and again to make it work but nothing's changed.  =(
 
So now I'm experiencing Super Famicom withdrawal.  Two and a half years of collecting SFC games and a couple PAL SNES carts, and it won't start again.  Like, bummer.  =(  And I just got my latest SFC cart too (Darius Twin) no less.  But I'm not going to panic, because I will have it resolved somehow.  So my only options at this point are either to find someone who can fix the pins of the SFC/SNES slot, or if that doesn't work I'll have to go and buy a new Retro Duo; and I'm not sure I'm ready for that.  And if that doesn't happen,... I'm afraid I'm only left with one other risky alternative that I never thought I would ever consider.  *gulp*  So until my SFC collecting isn't on hold anymore, here's my Personal Super Famicom Recommendation Bar
This is exactly as it sounds like.  I am going to go through the thirty-four Super Famicom games that I played (and two PAL SNES cartridges) in alphabetical order and make a brief personal summary whether or not they are worth a go, plus I'll add my own recommendation score.  For plenty of them I've got visual aid, but in the instances that I don't I'll just share the art on the cartridge.  If a game was released outside of Japan I'll leave a small mention (and announce whether or not it got a title change).  *clap*  All right, that should just about cover everything!  Let's begin!!!  =)
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Actraiser
Also Released in: North America and Europe (both as ActRaiser), 1991 and 1992
Year: 1990 | Developed by: Quintet | Published by: Enix | [|O|]
As the first of six Quintet games made for Nintendo's 16-bit console it suffers mildly from overexposure, but on its own merits it is a solid game while it lasts.  Mixing in platforming and town micromanagement elements in different acts it was quite ingenious.  While the platforming sections aren't its strongest suit, it's more than made up by the fairly involving town simulations; it's rather nice to oversee what transpires down at Earth and trying to help make it evolve.  It's also aesthetically impressive for a 1990 platformer with incredibly detailed worlds and a pleasant-sounding soundtrack from Yuzo Koshiro.  The platforming sections of the original Actraiser were harder than the localized edition ActRaiser and there were many enemies which got polished and/or redesigned for subsequent releases (and that alone is worth the price of admission); surprisingly though, the simulation acts were easier.  Now with that, does it make the Japanese original superior to the Western version?  Yes, yes it does.  Is it perfect?  Oh, hell no!  But it's worth playing all the same... just remember to try the other Quintet-developed games as well (hint, hint current Quintet license-holders).
My Recommendation Score: 8.0
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Alcahest
Year: 1993 | Developed by: HAL Laboratory | Published by: SquareSoft | [|O|]
After the failure of HAL Laboratory's first RPG endeavor Arcana, they decided to move on to one that required less deliberately-paced turn-based dungeon crawling and more action-based and fast-paced adventuring.  With Alcahest there's a lot of good going for it: largely responsive and versatile gameplay, an immersive soundtrack, awesome boss battles, great locations to explore, as well as differing partners and powerful guardians to aid you.  Throw in the option to play one of four difficulty settings, and you've got one of the greatest non-Kirby titles that HAL has ever created plus tons of replay value.  Aside from the long in the tooth final boss battle against the titular villain and the fact that it's very short it's an incredibly fun RPG all throughout.  Also, what other (linear) game in the genre lets you continue your progress via password (if you can't beat it in one go)?  A shame that it was never really given a chance in the West.
My Recommendation Score: 8.5
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Ardy Lightfoot
Also Released in: North America and Europe, 1994 (by Titus Software)
Year: 1993 | Developed and Published by: ASCII | [|O|]
Out of the many platformers that were made for the Super Famicom and Super Nintendo in 1993, this one is rather underrated.  There's a really solid anime charm to its characters and worlds, and the exploration aspect is really enjoyable when it comes to maze-like areas (like the pyramids or the caves).  Ardy can use his tail to bounce on enemies and jump to high areas, and his penguin-like friend Pec can easily devour enemies, and occasionally break through solid walls and float Ardy in the sky for a temporary moment.  There are some clever moments of challenge such as puzzles later on, and some of the boss fights Ardy Lightfoot has got aren't bad.  It is a bit on the easy side, but the bits of challenge, colorful imagery, atmospheric soundtrack, and intuitive gameplay more than make up for that shortcoming.  If you can, I recommend you give this fun platformer a go.
My Recommendation Score: 8.0
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Astérix
Year: 1993 | Developed and Published by: Infogrames | [|O|]
In Europe there were plenty of platformers by Infogrames based on European comic characters, usually exclusively released there as far as games on the SNES were concerned.  Astérix was one of them, the first of eight (with other franchises comprising of Tintin, The Smurfs, Lucky Luke, and Spirou), and the first of two games starring Astérix that was released for the console.  With rather solid controls and decent aesthetics, this is a fun game to play, even if it can be difficult at times (and I'm not just talking the hardest difficulty mode).  The charm of the comic series and animated counterparts have remained intact, and there's even some hidden nooks and cranny that add a little replay value.  It's an hour's worth of fun and it's interesting to see how European games implement their own kinds of challenge.
My Recommendation Score: 8.0
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Chō Genjin 2
Year: 1995 | Developed by: Red Company | Published by: Hudson Soft | [|O|]
I feel rather sheepish when I say that sometimes I forget I even have this game, which is a real shame because it's one of the best Japan-exclusive SFC games I've imported.  Bonk's second and last Nintendo 16-bit outing is a real treat, and while its controls aren't quite like its PC-Engine predecessors, Chō Genjin 2 controls really well.  Its visual style is interesting, there's a lot of humor thrown in to the mix, and the area designs can be involving.  Add in an optional training stage, a password system, and some very fun boss battles, and you've got some of the best work Hudson Soft was involved in one way or another outside of DoReMi Fantasy: Milon no DokiDoki Daibōken and Star Parodier.  If you liked any of the previous four Bonk games then there is no reason you shouldn't enjoy this one.  Highly recommended.
My Recommendation Score: 9.0
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Dragon Quest V
Year: 1992 | Developed by: Chun Soft | Published by: Enix | [|O|]
Dragon Quest's foray into the 16-bit world was once supposed to be released overseas, but unfortunately it hadn't come out here at the time.  This was also Chun Soft's last main Dragon Quest developing work until they moved on to other works and relinquished the future Dragon Quest duties to some other companies.  Dragon Quest V is a very good RPG with vibrant visuals (thanks to the charm and design style by famed manga artist Akira Toriyama), a sweeping score by Koichi Sugiyama, made with a well-told plot and just enough difficulty to satisfy.  I don't think it's quite in the same league as some of the 16-bit Final Fantasy games, but it comes close.  Well worth a look.
My Recommendation Score: 8.5
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Elnard
Also Released in: North America (as The 7th Saga), 1993
Year: 1992 | Developed by: Produce | Published by: Enix | [|O|]
If you thought that The 7th Saga was too unreasonable when it came to the apprentice boss battles and that it didn't seem that you were getting more powerful as you leveled up, you should try the original Japanese version Elnard.  Not only is it less painful to play (at least by comparison) but the character stats actually do increase as opposed to it only happening to the other apprentices.  And if you thought that the Western version looked too good, then you'd be absolutely floored to find how plain and uninteresting Elnard's areas look in comparison to The 7th Saga's.  Soundwise some of the sound effects are different (like the menu and door opening ones), but aside from those changes there isn't much different.  Still, not a bad game; and while I'm not the biggest fan of Produce's turn-based effort, I suggest you stick with the Japanese version.  ...................  Brain Lord is still better!
My Recommendation Score: 7.0
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Final Fantasy V
Year: 1992 | Developed and Published by: SquareSoft | [|O|]
Long before Final Fantasy VI would be released for the first time in America under a slightly different moniker, Final Fantasy V was at one point going to be the game that would be "Final Fantasy III" to the US.  Sadly things didn't go quite go that way, and coupled with the fact that its promised release schedule went on and off and on and off it gravely upset RPG fans, who formed up to make one of the first (if not the first) fan translations ever.  So it's a good thing it wasn't released in America in 1992?  Joking aside, Final Fantasy V is a really damn good turn-based RPG.  The characters and story are engaging, the game looks colorful, Nobuo Uematsu's music is captivating, and best of all, the ATB Battle system from Final Fantasy IV is still solid as ever.  This was also the first game in the series to implement the Jobs system which split gamers but I personally found involved and vital for certain situations.  To me, personally, this is the best 16-bit Final Fantasy game, and it shouldn't be missed.
My Recommendation Score: 9.0
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Final Fight 2
Also Released in: North America and Europe, 1993
Year: 1993 | Developed and Published by: Capcom | [|O|]
When Capcom tried porting their 1989 arcade hit Final Fight to the Super Famicom in 1990, to say that the results were mixed would be a heavy understatement.  Several elements from the arcade game were gone and it was reduced to just one player, which disappointed many.  After Sega released Ancient's Streets of Rage 2 for the MegaDrive/Genesis console in 1992, Nintendo then pressured Capcom to make another Final Fight game so as to compete with it.  And if you've ever been curious about playing a game which the company showed zero interest in making, look no further than Final Fight 2Despite the fact that you globetrot as opposed to fighting thugs in just one city and the fact that the two player option has now been implemented, it's really more of the same, without the freshness that was found in its predecessor.  Mike Haggar returns but is now accompanied by discount Cody (Carlos) and discount Guy (Maki), only now it's a lot less fun to play.  I'm convinced that Capcom clearly did not want to make this game, and the typically good Capcom visuals, clever cameos, and the fully extended ending in the hardest difficulty mode really do not make up for its stale repetitiveness.  Only reason to play the Japanese original is for the first big boss holding the meat cleaver and the female enemies, that's it.  Do yourself a favor and play other better beat'em ups like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time, Rushing Beat Ran — Fukusei Toshi, or hell, play Final Fight 3 instead!
My Recommendation Score: 5.5
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Gaia Gensōki
Also Released in: North America (as Illusion of Gaia) and Europe (as Illusion of Time), 1994 (by Nintendo)
Year: 1993 | Developed by: Quintet | Published by: Enix | [|O|]
The spiritual follow-up to SoulBlader (SoulBlazer elsewhere), the second and middle chapter Gaia Gensōki has been regarded as the black sheep of the Gaia trilogy by plenty of gamers--at least, the Western versions.  With some of the elements lifted from the aforementioned game, the controls are more free this time around at eight directions and throughout the game there are new moves to learn which not only make fighting enemies easier but also are required in order to get to certain spots in areas; not only that, but from time to time you get to choose between playing as a young boy or a powerful warrior, which is fun to switch from time to time.  It's a wonderful game to look at as well, with colorful and well-detailed locations, plus it sounds wonderful and tackles some heavy issues that few RPG developers dared address.  That is just incredible!  Difficulty-wise it's easier than SoulBlader, but a whole lot easier than the localized versions of Illusion of Gaia and Time.  Not only that, but there are just as many (if not more) elements that got altered or cut in the West as Actraiser preceding it three years prior.  Some bosses look different (like Viper and the vampires), timed moments had longer times counting down, one of the later dungeons has a shortcut that was removed for the West, and the text does not instantaneously pop up all at once all the time; I could also recognize which dialog text was fumbled up when it was translated (Will's sudden outburst towards Neil, anyone?).  In short: the Japanese original Gaia Gensōki wins by a large margin.  Throw in a secret and optional dungeon to partake in, and you've got a really fantastic action-RPG.
My Recommendation Score: 9.5
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Gokujō Parodius! ~Kako no Eikō o Motomete~
Originally on Arcade, 1994
Year: 1994 | Developed and Published by: Konami | [|O|]
The Parodius series of games are very bizarre, so bizarre that they've often relied on acquired taste in order to appreciate the over-the-top zaniness of them all.  To be quite honest, I love these kinds of games.  They're wacky, they're outlandish, they're outrageously silly and nonsensical, but it's because of its nonsensicality that I find them very funny!  I think that they do a good job of parodying the likes of Gradius and Nemesis, and Gokujō Parodius! ~Kako no Eikō o Motomete~ is no exception.  Who wouldn't want to play as TwinBee, Upa Upa, Kid Dracula, Pentarou, or Takosuke in this type of game (and yet no Sparkster; c'mon, Konami, he was in a shoot'em up stage in his games--twice!)?  It's absolutely pleasing and delightful in its humor.  With a neat parodied structure of Gradius and lots of characters and difficulty settings to choose within manageable challenge, coupled with enjoyable gameplay, what more could you ask for?  One of Konami's very best!
My Recommendation Score: 10
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Gūfii to Makkusu - Kaizoku Shima no Daibōken
Originally Released in: North America and Europe (both as Goof Troop), 1993
Year: 1994 | Developed and Published by: Capcom | [|O|]
If you can overlook Gūfii to Makkusu - Kaizoku Shima no Daibōken's short length and its largely obnoxious music, then Capcom's answer to Nintendo's The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past is a real delight to play while it lasts.  As the only game based on the Disney TV series Goof Troop, it sports really good and intuitive gameplay, looks really pretty to boot, plentiful puzzle rooms, and its open-ended and nonlinear area designs really makes the experience feel fresh.  Plus if you don't feel like playing alone, you could always play with another gamer as either Goofy or Max, which makes it all the more better.  Exclusive to the Japanese version is the option to play one of three difficulty settings whilst the original Western versions only had one; but hey, it's like people say, "the more the merrier".  I recommend it especially if you're an adventure or Disney fan.
My Recommendation Score: 8.0
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Jerry Boy
Also Released in: North America (as Smart Ball), 1991 (by Sony Imagesoft)
Year: 1991 | Developed by: GameFreak and System Sacom | Published by: Epic/Sony Records | [|O|]
In the early '90s there was this small craze revolving around slimes made into main characters, and System Sacom's Jerry Boy was one of the first games to fill that spot.  That, and it also came out as a Generation One Super Famicom (and Super Nintendo) game; the story for this game revolves around a boy named Jerry who's been duped by his brother and turned into a malleable and squishy slime so that said brother would have Jerry's girl all to himself thanks to the help of an evil sorcerer.  The visuals are very colorful and pleasant for the eyes, the soundtrack is good, and GameFreak's character and enemy designs evoke a lot of charm and personality.  Sadly, part of the charm got nixed in the American version once the story and towns were removed altogether (though one could argue that  initially those made what was already an easy game easier).  For the most part Jerry Boy is an easily manageable game, but if there's anything that drags it down just slightly it's the controls themselves.  True to its themes, Jerry is a slimy and slippery blob who can attack by spewing out balls or by extending himself; however when it comes to wall-climbing they can be touchy.  Aside from that, though, it's a fun little game on its own merits; too bad the GameFreak-developed sequel Jerry Boy 2 never came to be released.
My Recommendation Score: 6.5
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Libble Rabble
Originally on Arcade, 1983
Year: 1994 | Developed and Published by: Namco | [|O|]
One of several arcade games that Namco made in 1983, Libble Rabble was one of the first coin-operated games that were made in 16-bit; so it's rather fitting that eleven years later it would receive a 16-bit port for the Super Famicom eleven years later.  Not only that, but its original arcade aesthetics were retained in the transition.  While the gameplay might remind you of Qix at first, it's actually a lot more complex than that as two sets of movement controls are required to move both arrows (the left by the Control Pad and the right by the ABXY buttons); but after awhile the controls become second nature.  Rounding up critters can be really fun, and the further you get the more challenging it gets.  And if you manage to collect the sufficient amount of letters required you'll access a bonus stage.  For a really good '80s arcade time on the SFC, Libble Rabble is pretty good to play in short bursts.
My Recommendation Score: 8.0
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Mickey & Donald: Magical Adventure 3
Year: 1995 | Developed and Published by: Capcom | [|O|]
If you've ever wanted to experience the 16-bit Nintendo equivalent to Sega's World of Illusion starring Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck, I'm afraid it wouldn't be until 1995 as a Japan-exclusive to get the chance.  If you enjoyed the atmosphere and challenge of The Magical Quest starring Mickey Mouse but was severely letdown by its unceremonious ending and if you liked The Great Circus Mystery starring Mickey & Minnie even if it felt like the first game again at times and that it lacked magic, then you're in luck; third time's the charm as Capcom combined the best elements of both games in order to create the third and final Magical Adventure platformer, Mickey & Donald: Magical Adventure 3.  As either Mickey, Donald, or both if you had another friend with you, you explore seven stages of mystery and wonderment; each with different outfits that enable them to overcome some obstacles.  Most of the boss fights are fun, the controls are versatile and intuitive, the storybook-like elements and characters are charming, plus it has got wonderful aesthetics going for it.  In my book, the best Disney game available on the Nintendo 16-bit machine.
My Recommendation Score: 9.0
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Mickey no Tokyo Disneyland Daibōken
Year: 1994 | Developed by: GRC | Published by: Tomy | [|O|]
Mickey's Tokyo Disneyland adventure may be in a far different league from Capcom's trilogy of Mickey Mouse platformers, but for what it is GRC did a respectable job being faithful to the Disney name.  Taking place in the realm of Tokyo Disneyland, the areas are well-chosen and at times feel quite surreal.  The structure of the balloon controls do take a bit of time to accustom to (and they partially attribute to this game's difficulty), but they can be fun and intuitive after a lot of time spent exploring them.  The game is manageable, but it can be fairly difficult at times; partly due to its controls and partly due to area design that require careful timing of balloon usage (whether air- or water-filled), but it's more than made up for its largely fun gameplay and the best final boss representation of Pete ever!  Mickey no Tokyo Disneyland Daibōken may not touch Capcom's games as far as quality is concerned, but by making the game take place in Disneyland GRC got something over Capcom.  Sometimes frustrating, but more importantly it's fun in the long run.
My Recommendation Score: 7.5
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Pop'n TwinBee
Also Released in: Europe, 1993
Year: 1993 | Developed and Published by: Konami | [|O|]
Despite the fact that Pop'n TwinBee, Konami's initial Nintendo 16-bit foray of the vertical cute'em up series, was a Super Famicom/Super Nintendo exclusive it's got the feel of an arcade game.  And if that's what you're looking for then this is a brilliant game with very good controls, neat pastel-toned locations, highly catchy music, fun boss battles, and an adorably lighthearted charm to boot.  There's a fair amount of challenge in the game linered throughout, as well as lots of replay value thanks to its seven difficulty settings and cooperative multi-player.  If you have an affinity for the TwinBee games or for cute'em ups in general then Pop'n TwinBee is a really exceptional way of spending a half hour or more.  Highly recommended!
My Recommendation Score: 10
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Popful Mail
Originally on NEC PC-8801, 1991
Year: 1994 | Developed and Published by: Nihon Falcom | [|O|]
The vast majority of Nihon Falcom's video game library made from the '80s to the '90s were almost exclusively made for PC variants, with a few exceptions.  Popful Mail, ported from Falcom's own 1991 PC-8801 game, was the first of two games that they made directly for a non-PC system--the Super Famicom.  An adventure game in the vain of similar titles such as Dragon's Curse and Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, this is what Ys III: Wanderers from Ys should've been!  With the ability to play as one of three characters at any required moment makes things fresh, also the nonlinear area designs really work.  It's also humorous too, with great-looking worlds and a rockin' score playing in the background.  The varied gameplay between characters is also Popful Mail's strong point, even if it is a bit of a short venture and ends on an unresolved cliffhanger.  Still, while it lasts it's pretty involving and entertaining.  I highly recommend it!
My Recommendation Score: 9.0
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Puzzle'n Desu!
Year: 1995 | Developed and Published by: Nihon Bussan | [|O|]
Part Bomberman, part Sōkoban, and even part Pengo during the ice segments, Puzzle'n Desu! comprises of a clever series of block-pushing puzzles that take a lot of strategizing, focusing, and proper planning in order to solve it.  It is a very likable game with charming settings and characters, its lighthearted theme, and very solid gameplay.  There is even a choice to make your own custom-made puzzle area, and with a battery save you can continue your progress.  It's very challenging but fun; while it's not an expensive title it is one of the rarest Super Famicom cartridges you will find.  Highly recommended!  Puzzle'n Desu! was the seventeenth game that Nihon Bussan made for the Super Famicom, but you know what other game once held that spot?  Nightmare Busters (before it got cancelled and eventually remade as a repro cart).  Let that thought sink in for a second...
My Recommendation Score: 9.5
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Rushing Beat Ran — Fukusei Toshi
Also Released in: North America and Europe (both as Brawl Brothers), 1993
Year: 1992 | Developed and Published by: Jaleco | [|O|]
Despite the fact that the first Rushing Beat (Rival Turf!) was not all that well-received in 1992, it apparently did good enough to get its own sequel nine months later that same year.  And to that I say, "Good!"  Because the second game of the trilogy, Rushing Beat Ran — Fukusei Toshi is an extremely underrated beat'em up.  Often unfairly compared to Final Fight and Streets of Rage its looked upon unfavorably by some, however upon further speculation you'll find that there's more to Jaleco's game.  Sure it can be long in the tooth sometimes, but the gameplay feels fresh and flexible, not to mention the fact that you can run makes things even more great (so what if it feels a bit loose, I'll take it over slow and plodding Final Fight 2 any day).  While visually it leaves a bit to be desired, there are plenty of neat details going for it, like the comic book starbursts any time enemies hits are being made or even the reflection of the windows in the gym.  Soundwise it's catchy, and there's lots of replay value depending on who you play as (different boss battles) and what difficulty you're playing it under; plus the Ikari mode works for a short period of time before it expires (until then you're invincible).  No, it's not perfect, but I think it deserves a fair shot and be treated as its own game.  What's that: you can't afford Super Famicom games?  No problem!  You can always access the Japanese original in Brawl Brothers via code; that way you'll experience the intended version of the game.
My Recommendation Score: 8.0
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Rushing Beat Shura
Also Released in: North America (as The Peace Keepers), 1994
Year: 1993 | Developed and Published by: Jaleco | [|O|]
No one expected the Rushing Beat series to continue (and end) on a perfect note, regardless of how anyone felt about the series.  The third and final member of Jaleco's trilogy, Rushing Beat Shura may be a notch below Rushing Beat Ran — Fukusei Toshi, but it's still a solid beat'em up in its own right.  What sets it apart from its predecessors is that most areas have got separate paths, which lead to different endings and increase replay value (sort of like other third installments of beat'em up series such as Golden Axe III, Streets of Rage 3, and even Final Fight 3).  That, and the fact that from time to time there are in-game dialogue sequences--which last a long time.  Gameplay-wise it's not as slick as the last game is but it's still decent.  The look of the game is very good, and the soundtrack (which wasn't entirely transitioned in the American version, and that's not the only change that was made) is a neat listen.  It's largely manageable and easy and has got sufficient length, though perhaps Jaleco may have been too generous by offering thirty continues.  Just skip past the long, drawn-out dialogue and you'll be just fine.
My Recommendation Score: 7.5
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SD The Great Battle II: Last Fighter Twin
Year: 1992 | Developed and Published by: Banpresto | [|O|]
One of numerous games revolving around these Super Deformed characters (and not just the SD The Great Battle saga), this is a quirky beat'em up that's lighthearted and brimming with humor.  Each of the four characters have got different ranges as far as attacks, combos, and sliding are concerned; and each of them are fun to play as.  It's also one of the rare beat'em ups on the Super Famicom to allow more than three or four enemies on the same screen, making for some difficult and strategic moments.  The visuals are cartoony yet charming, and the background music is upbeat and energetic.  I recommend you give it a go if you're curious, for even though it's a beat'em up it also has passwords every couple stages.  Solid yet fun game.
My Recommendation Score: 7.5
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Seiken Densetsu 3
Year: 1995 | Developed and Published by: SquareSoft | [|O|]
 
At the height of Seiken Densetsu 2's success (Secret of Mana in the West) on the SFC/SNES many gamers just couldn't get enough of it, so SquareSoft decided to do the next best thing and create a direct follow-up for the same console two years later; unfortunately it was a Japan-only deal.  Seiken Densetsu 3 is everything a great RPG sequel should be; one with improved and more polished set of controls, gorgeous non-rendered visuals, a larger world to explore, a more immersive storyline, breathtaking flying sequences with Flammie, easy to follow directions despite the kanji, and branching paths depending which character you choose for the leader (adding tons of replay value).  Its laidback soundtrack is lacking though (and coming from Hiroki Kikuta, no less) and doesn't compare to Secret of Mana's fantastic score, and it's even got boss battles that last for roughly a half hour if not longer (that is no exaggeration).  But those are just minor issues considering how magnificently SquareSoft did a great job making Seiken Densetsu 3; and the farther you progress the more difficult it becomes.  This is SquareSoft in top form; well done, and definitely worth playing too!  Do not miss it!
My Recommendation Score: 9.5
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Shōnen Ashibe
Year: 1992 | Developed and Published by: Takara | [|O|]
Based on a Japan-only manga/anime series, Shōnen Ashibe is a delightful game to play once in awhile.  You control an adorably white seal who must find all the items or animal friends while avoiding contact from playful enemies and small children.  It's actually a very easy game for you don't lose any damage, but you are timed and will lose a life if you fail to reach the (alternate) goal with all the collectables before time runs out.  Yet despite the easy nature it's a rather feel-good game with lighthearted settings and non-demanding fun, brimming with nice pastel-toned areas and cheery music.  If you're just looking for a fun game to play in short bursts, Shōnen Ashibe is good while it lasts.
My Recommendation Score: 6.0
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SoulBlader
Also Released in: North America and Europe (both as SoulBlazer), 1992 and 1994
Year: 1992 | Developed by: Quintet | Published by: Enix | [|O|]
The first entry in the acclaimed Gaia trilogy, SoulBlader (and even the Western version SoulBlazer) is what I personally like to call a starter kit for those new to the A-RPG genre.  But even if that were not the case, it is still an incredibly charming and enjoyable game while it lasts.  With basic movement and surreal settings, you can travel around the world defeating monsters, sealing their lairs, and occasionally enter inside creatures' dreams.  Even though it's a very easy game, the difficulty does gradually ramp up a bit as you go along, and the boss battles are fun to bout.  There are nowhere near as many elements that were altered or removed in transition to the West like Actraiser before and Gaia Gensōki after did, however SoulBlader is worth checking out all the same.  Highly recommended!
My Recommendation Score: 10
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Super Bomberman 3
Also Released in: Europe, 1995
Year: 1995 | Developed and Published by: Hudson Soft | [|O|]
While the first two Super Bomberman games were given a fair chance in North America, Super Bomberman 3 was only given the European treatment when released outside of Japan.  The literal middle chapter of Hudson Soft's Super Bomberman quintet series for the Super Famicom, this game has got the look of a PC-Engine installment and plays like the original games; which isn't really a bad thing.  The maze perusing and enemy bombing tactics are back, and this time around you'll come across variants of creatures called who Rooeys can be ridden on and are capable of different abilities (one can jump, the other can kick a bomb).  The different set of areas look nice, and the game itself is colorful; the bosses can take a bit to take down because of constant movement but they're not impossible.  Plus the more abilities you have the bigger your chances of survival are; it also includes a multi-player mode for either adventuring or competing.  Maybe not the best Bomberman game, but it's worth giving a go all the same.
My Recommendation Score: 7.5
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Super Morph
Originally on Amiga, 1993 (as Morph)
Year: 1993 | Developed by: Millenium Entertainment | Published by: Sony Imagesoft | [|O|]
If you liked Jerry Boy but felt for some reason that it lacked a sufficient (and unofficial) adversary, you might find PAL-exclusive Super Morph worth your while.  Unlike the aforementioned action-sidescroller however, this game has got more of a puzzle-theme going for it.  With thirty-six ingeniously-designed areas tinged with various obstacles, you play a boy who's become a morphing blob who can transform into a cloud, sentient water, a bouncing ball, and a solid boulder thanks to a potentially crazy scientist that experimented on him (there is nothing sane about that story); he must gather all the gears in order to change back.  The catch is that you must wisely judge the proper time and use for each transformation, for if you overdo it then you lose and must start the stage over.  The gameplay takes some time to come to grips with (which is decent), and it looks really good, though its literally quiet settings make it feel atmospheric and large.  Maybe not a great game, but I think it's worth playing to see how Europeans implemented their own challenge in the media.
My Recommendation Score: 7.0
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Super Wagyan Land
Year: 1991 | Developed and Published by: Namco | [|O|]
More of a collection of boss puzzles and areas from the first two Wagyan Land games from the Famicom than a new entry, Namco's 16-bit foray of the series Super Wagyan Land has still got enough charm and length to make it its own game; it's also the first game in the series which implemented a password system, so that's a plus.  The visuals and music are nice to behold, and gameplay-wise it's easy as far as the platforming segments are concerned.  But the main reason to play this (or any) iteration of the series is for the boss puzzles themselves; which range from number progression, memory tests, focusing on the shape of pixelated images correctly, and the Japan-exclusive shiritori (which require notes in hand for those who can't read kanji).  Despite the fact that its dialogues are solely Japanese, it's a rather involving and addicting experience for its worlds are creative and fun to look at; its lightheartedness is also a big strength factor, even though it's got to have the most somber-sounding victory theme ever.  If you think you can take on the challenge of the puzzles, go right ahead; but it doesn't end there as there are two more games that followed.
My Recommendation Score: 8.5
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Super Wagyan Land 2
Year: 1993 | Developed and Published by: Namco | [|O|]
The second Super Famicom installment of the Wagyan Land series, Super Wagyan Land 2 is actually a direct continuation of Wagyan Land 3 for the original Famicom.  Continuity can be a bit confusing for those outside the series; it's not quite as great as the first Super Wagyan Land, but once you get past the point where you won't have to fight three boss puzzles in the same stage anymore (there are some early on and in the middle) it gets a whole lot better.  The visuals are a bit more polished and the sound samples are improved this time around, although some of the songs are of lesser quality due to the pipe organs involved (why were those needed?).  Platforming segments are easy (albeit with extra features thanks to the help of a former villain), this time viewed from close-up or from far away; but the puzzles (same as the previous 16-bit game's) are the reason to play the game.  That, and the fact that there are two different endings depending on what you collect, regardless of difficulty.  Maybe the black sheep of the 16-bit Wagyan Land trilogy of games, but it's a solid game on its own right.  Play it at your discretion (if you can handle the challenge of the puzzles involving kanji).
My Recommendation Score: 7.0
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Tenchi Sōzō
Also Released in: Europe (as Terranigma), 1996 (by Nintendo)
Year: 1995 | Developed by: Quintet | Published by: Enix | [|O|]
Combining the best elements of SoulBlader (SoulBlazer) and Gaia Gensōki (Illusion of Gaia/Illusion of Time), Quintet singlehandedly managed to create not only the best game they ever developed but also the best action-oriented RPG and best Super Famicom game ever!  Taking place in the planet Earth (largely in its surface), Ark ventures around to resurrect it by exploring and experiencing the unknown.  The gameplay is versatile and fluid, the soundtrack is perfect, and the many areas that you explore feel new and fresh each visit.  It is also an emotionally resonant adventure, with one of the most gripping stories culminating in a very poignant finale.  If you're a Gaia trilogy or action-RPG fan then you owe it to yourself to play Tenchi Sōzō (Terranigma).  It is magnificently flawless in every sense of the word, and one of the most unforgettable video games ever; you won't regret it.  Highly recommended!
My Recommendation Score: 10
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Torneko no Daibōken: Fushigi no Dungeon
Year: 1993 | Developed and Published by: Chun Soft | [|O|]
As the first spin-off pertaining to the Dragon Quest games, merchant Torneko from Dragon Quest IV gets a chance to star in the first Mystery Dungeon game ever created, unfortunately made a Japan-exclusive.  This game is a well-made action-oriented dungeon crawler that's fairly difficult but enjoyable, even thanks to the replay value through the constantly random dungeon designs (and treasure and enemy placements) every time you start (again).  What keeps you going is that the more gold you gain the more Torneko constructs more of his home and increases its size, and it's always exciting to see what lies in the deepest depths of each dungeon.  It takes a bit of time to learn the proper tools to survive longer, but once you do this game is blast to play.  Highly recommended!
My Recommendation Score: 9.0
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TwinBee: Rainbow Bell Adventure
Also Released in: Europe (as Pop'n TwinBee: Rainbow Bell Adventures), 1994
Year: 1994 | Developed and Published by: Konami | [|O|]
The second game from the TwinBee franchise to be available on Nintendo's 16-bit console, Konami decided to opt for a different genre that strayed from the cute'em up formula.  And considering the TwinBee, WinBee, and GwinBee jets all have arms and legs, why should they not star in a platformer?  The first and most successful of the three spin-offs, TwinBee: Rainbow Bell Adventure has the jets go around the world and collect the bells and fairies that have been hidden by Dr. Warumon's legion of EvilBees.  That, and it's a very fun platformer which is manageable to play yet is difficult to 100%, but when that's been accomplished it can be very rewarding (especially Warumon's 100% battle, yikes!).  The charm and lighthearted theme is present, plus there's lots of replay value thanks to the non-linear map, different endings, and battery auto-save; too bad the European version had a linear map, one ending, and exclusively had you continue through passwords making for a much lesser version of the game.  Konami did a brilliant job crafting this fun platformer by mixing elements with Rocket Knight Adventures and Sonic the Hedgehog, and it should be checked out...... the Japanese version; even if you're not a fan of the TwinBee series this is still solid platforming entertainment.
My Recommendation Score: 9.0
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Wagyan Paradise
Year: 1994 | Developed and Published by: Namco | [|O|]
If Namco's Xandra no Daibōken: Valkyrie to no Deai was too bleak and depressing, then their Wagyan Paradise is the total opposite for it's engaging, enjoyably amiable, charmingly lighthearted, and most importantly: fun!  The third and final Wagyan game on the Super Famicom, this iteration is the best of the bunch.  The platforming gameplay is simple yet fun, the pastel-toned visuals are some of the most atmospheric you'll find for the system, and the music is catchier than ever.  But the best aspect of the gameplay is the boss puzzles themselves, which are plentiful and significantly easier than its two 16-bit predecessors but no less engaging.  Throw in a very good final boss encounter, the ability to play one of two characters, and completely optional bonus games, and you've got one of the best Super Famicom games of all time.  Highly recommended, even if you're not fully familiar with the kanji it's an hour and a half full of joy.
My Recommendation Score: 10
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Xandra no Daibōken: Valkyrie to no Deai
Also Released in: Europe (as Whirlo), 1992
Year: 1992 | Developed and Published by: Namco | [|O|]
Namco's Valkyrie series of games did well enough that eventually they decided to make a prequel with Krino Xandra as the main character, and instead of it being top-down like the other two games it was reduced to a platformer.  Despite the fact that it's thematically lighthearted Xandra no Daibōken: Valkyrie to no Deai has got a very depressing tone lingered throughout.  Even the story reeks of depression for Xandra must go out there to save not only his people from a deathly plague but his infant son as well, for if he fails he meets a very gruesome fate which is not only disturbing but distressing to look at as well.  That wouldn't be so much a problem if the game was not so devastatingly difficult, with demanding stage design, one-hit deaths, and four different jumping controls (three of which cannot be controlled).  Depression and high difficulty should not be a valid combination.  The pastel-toned visuals are decent and while the soundtrack admittedly sounds impressive even it has got depressing undertones which will make you feel even more sadder.  And to make things even sadder, it was the last game of the Valkyrie series to be made outside of PC or mobile phones.  How this got a European release is beyond me; not that it fared better there.  It is not worth the depression (and frustration) it'll end up giving you, for it could've used a lot more polish and plenty of leniency in order to be good or even the slightest bit fun.  Avoid!
My Recommendation Score: 5.0
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Ys IV: Mask of the Sun
Year: 1993 | Developed and Published by: Tonkin House | Licensed by: Nihon Falcom | [|O|]
After the polarized reaction of the sidescrolling Ys III: Wanderers from Ys, Nihon Falcom figured it was time to get back to basics with the fourth entry.  The Super Famicom game Ys IV: Mask of the Sun, developed by Tonkin House, is a fantastic action-RPG, and was just what everyone needed for those who missed the simple yet fun controls of the first two games.  The story this time around is really good and dark, there's more to explore, the bosses are huge, and the rock-based soundtrack is awesome.  Each area has got their own level of detail, which is nice, plus it offers plenty of challenge worthy of its seven-to-eight hour long adventure.  This, to me, is one of the best (if not the best) Ys games ever!  Highly recommended!
My Recommendation Score: 9.0
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Ys V Expert
Expert Version of: Ys V: Ushinawareta Suna no Miyako Kefin, 1995 (by Nihon Falcom)
Year: 1996 | Developed by: Nihon Falcom | Published by: Koei | [|O|]
If Ys III: Wanderers from Ys garnered a heavily mixed reaction from fans, then Ys V (the second and last game made directly for the Super Famicom by Nihon Falcom) successfully managed to outdo it in almost every category.  While still viewed from the bird's eye view Adol doesn't shove enemies but instead uses his sword to attack them.  The gameplay structure is also different for he can jump, raise his shield, charge magic, and move around in all eight directions (like Produce's Brain Lord, only slightly better polished); not to mention the fact that even its menu system is different, the soundtrack is now instrumental instead of rock, and you earn money by trading gems that enemies leave behind.  But if you can overlook all those drastic departures from the series the fifth Ys iteration is still a very good game by itself.  A bit on the easy side for the most part, but there's just enough length to make up for that.  Play it at your discretion.
My Recommendation Score: 8.0
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Well, there we have it.  Thank you for taking the time and reading my Personal Super Famicom Recommendation Bar; I hope I managed to convince you to try and play these games (or not depending on the relatively few I did not recommend), and if you have any Super Famicom games you would like to recommend to me then I would be more than happy to take those into consideration.  =)
 
Well, now to see if I can get this thing resolved, what I will do.  I do have two or three Super Famicom video game reviews in the works, but if no development has occurred then aside from those you might not hear anything more SFC-related for awhile.
 
...... In hindsight, I have no idea why I added the "2014" disclaimer in the title since I don't know if I'll make this an annual thing or not.  But in the off-chance that I do then Lord help me because it was hard trying to recommend each individual game in just one paragraph.  There's only so many things you could say about something that it's hard to say it all in just such a  short amount of words.  =(
 
<(^o^)^TO EACH THEIR OWN^(^o^)>
Thank you for reading my Personal Super Famicom Recommendation Bar, please leave me a comment and I hope you have a very great day!  Take care!!!  =D