The Magical Quest starring Mickey Mouse [NA/EU] / Mickey's Magical Adventure [JP]
Year: 1992 | Developer/Publisher: Capcom | Played on: SNES
Another game I just experienced a few weeks ago, The Magical Quest starring Mickey Mouse is a fun platformer. Basically Capcom's answer to Sega's Castle of Illusion starring Mickey Mouse on the MegaDrive (a game I still wish to play) in a nutshell, Mickey Mouse's world this time around is beautiful, wonderfully designed, and I like how Mickey has the ability to change outfits throughout the game to meet certain conditions (if there's a fire, then you'll have to douse it with the firefighter power up). Mari Yamaguchi's soundtrack is great, and the boss fights are nice. I even like how there are moments that try to challenge you; for example, during the second stage there is a moment where you have to traverse by hopping on gradually falling leaves. Considering it's the first SNES game starring Mickey Mouse, it's great fun.
Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble [NA/EU] / Super Donkey Kong 3 [JP]
Year: 1996 | Developer: Rareware | Publisher: Nintendo | Played on: SNES and Game Boy Advance [Donkey Kong Country 3]
This third entry is often classified as the weakest out of the Donkey Kong Country trilogy, and while that's sort of true, it's not a bad game by any means. This is one of those games I have a strong fondness for, for it has great ACM-rendered graphics (of course, what do you expect from Rare?), memorable background music, and fun stages. This time around you take control of either Dixie Kong or the not so little toddler Kiddy Kong, and from time to time there are secrets to be found, which adds to the replay value. The animal helpers are decent, and a few boss fights are even challenging, not to mention that the interaction between the NPC characters in the cabins or shacks are quite good. Also, seeing Wrinkly Kong play Super Mario 64 sometimes is pretty cool. It might have some issues, but I still enjoy it.
Maui Mallard in Cold Shadow [NA] / Donald in Maui Mallard [EU/JP]
Originally on: MegaDrive, 1995 Disney Interactive | Year: 1996 | Developer: Eurocom | Publishers: Disney Interactive/Nintendo | Played on: SNES and PC
Maui Mallard is a game that will be etched in my memory forever. The tropical island boosts some of the most atmospheric, dark settings I've seen in a '90s Disney-licensed game. But that alone could not justify why it made the list; the animations displayed are some of the most fluidly over-the-top that I've seen, and alternating between detective and ninja from time to time is really exciting. The music is enthralling, and the areas range from impressive (the mansion) to haunting (the Flying Duckman), plus the (optional) bonus stages rock. The penultimate area is Disney's fascinating take on a hellish environment, right down to the giant eyeball in the backdrop. The amount of challenge is one I find commendable, and the cutscenes add a mysterious feel to it all. I only wish that its sequel that was promised in the ending was a reality.
Robotrek [NA] / Slapstick [JP]
Year: 1994 | Developers: Quintet/Ancient | Publisher: Enix | Played on: SNES
I shouldn't really include this in my countdown since I haven't beaten it yet (and I don't know how far I am in it), but I will anyway. Robotrek is a cool strategy RPG with quirky humor and fun characters. What makes this game different than others in the genre is how one of the three customisable robots fights for the hero, which is like a predecessor to Pokémon games (long before they came out). The plot is cool, the areas are nice, some of the music is tolerable, and the boss fights are challenging. The game's translation is hit and miss, but there's enough fun to be had here.
Year: 1993, 1994 | Developer/Publisher: Ocean | Played on SNES
In my opinion, this European-developed platformer is a great classic, and a very underrated one at that. Granted, the plot is nonsensical at times and is really a weak point of the game, but the full-blown atmosphere more than makes up for it. The first SNES game I bought in cartridge format (I guess techincally you could say this was my first SNES game), Mr. Nutz has lovely visuals, smooth animation, very detailed locations, and a rather underappreciated soundtrack from little-known Raphael Gesqua. The amount of challenge is good, and there are elements that I feel prevent the game from growing stale; in each location there are cleverly concealed secret rooms where you get a chance to get extra points. Each area is imaginative, like the lush forest landscape and the soaring clouds in the sky, and the areas are nicely-designed. Even though the jumping controls are loose, they work to the game's advantage because otherwise certain platforms could not be reached without them. This game falls under scrutiny from some gamers because of its cute graphics and enemies, and because of that some will label it as mediocre or plain generic. It's a shame, really, as I feel there's really more to this game than it often gets credit for. Despite the lighthearted tone, the bosses themselves are really dark, one of them being Ograum Papas with his one infamous attack (I'm still wondering how that got across). The problem I have with this game is that if all lives were lost on a certain part of the stage, then you have to start from the beginning of said stage over again, which can be really frustrating, particularly in the final stage. But as far as challenge goes, there's enough to be had, and while Mr. Nutz is not the most challenging experience on the SNES (my vote goes to The Addams Family: Pugsley's Scavenger Hunt), it's definitely fun in its own right. Well, to each their own (boy, I went on about this game longer then I expected to); next game!
ActRaiser [NA/EU] / Actraiser [JP]
Year: 1990, 1991 | Developer: Quintet | Publisher: Enix | Played on: Nintendo Wii Virtual Console
Apart from being one the first ever games released for the console, ActRaiser implemented well-done town micromanagement elements alongside decent action-platforming elements. Sure enough, it's left quite an impact on gamers these past two decades, and some even regard as one of the best videogames ever made. Well, I wouldn't go that far, but I do concede that it is a great classic. The music is impressive considering the time this game came out, and I strongly feel Yuzo Koshiro did a really great job in this department. The areas themselves are pretty to look at, like the pyramid of Kasandora and Northwall's snowy landscape. The platforming segments are fine, but what I really enjoy whenever I play ActRaiser are the involving town simulation acts. Surveying the premises and growing the populations is really fun, especially trying to fend off monsters and lead the town to seal their lairs. As fun as this game is, the only two things that bring it down are the short length and the mostly easy difficulty in the story mode; the latter wouldn't be a problem so much if the challenge level gradually grew the more areas you traverse instead of just being so easy that it doesn't pose much of a challenge. I remember having looked up that the Japanese version was more difficult, and supposedly that's what the all-action Professional Mode! is like, which actually makes up for the two flaws this game has. One thing I like to do when I play that game mode is try to see how fast I can beat it (my fastest time is fifty-two minutes). It's definitely one of a kind, but regardless of its issue, I still have fun with it every once in awhile.
Super Ghouls'n Ghosts
Year: 1991 | Developer/Publisher: Capcom | Played on: PlayStation Portable [Capcom Classics Collection Reloaded]
What can I say about this game that countless other gamers haven't already? It is a fun classic, and this installment in the Ghosts'n Goblins series is my overall favorite. So, this time around Princess Prin Prin has been kidnapped once again and it is up to the knight Arthur to save her from the bowels of Hades yet once more, only this time he will face Sardius, her new captor. A much improved sequel to the original Ghouls'n Ghosts, the action is intense, the visuals are lovely, the level designs are sweet, and it has an amazing soundtrack. This time around they'll try to throw every hazard they can towards Arthur, from tidal waves to sinking ships, to raft rides to climbing towers, to riding giant bowels to avalanches, and all the while there are enemies that are trying to do you in. This game has got great ways of keeping you busy. Super Ghouls'n Ghosts is a fun game, and even though many say it is difficult or near impossible, I presonally find the difficulty overrated. I didn't use to think that, for at one point the game did seem impossible to me when I was younger. But then, one day, I finally got past the second stage and managed to get past the subsequent stages, too, and when that happened, everything changed. This is a game I enjoy playing through not once, but twice! The weapon roster is okay, but I mostly settle with the arrows (best), knives, and spears, and I think it's cool how depending on what armor Arthur is donning the weapons will become more powerful. That's fantastic! I find it weird that if you open a chest with a court jester and get caught in its spell, one of the forms you'll temporarily take is that of a little girl (seriously, what the heck, Capcom?). With all that going for it, what could possibly be wrong with this epic? The bosses pose no challenge at all! I find that disappointing considering the fact that the stages keep you busy, but the rewarding ending sequence makes for that. But I digress; this is a timeless classic, and one of my all-time favorite 16-bit experiences.
Year: 1990, 1991 | Developer/Publisher: Nintendo | Played on: Nintendo Wii Virtual Console
It's more of a showcase of the always impressive Mode 7 rotation and scaling effects, really, but this first racing title on the SNES is quite nice to play once in awhile. Taking place in a futuristic world, this racer is fun to play, and I like how futuristic some of the settings look. Each courses have their own set of races, and the four playable racing vehicles each have their distinct stats, though I mostly find myself playing as Captain Falcon. The music's timeless, and some areas have an interesting way of challenging you; Death Wind, for one, will have you blown slightly to either the left or the right thanks to the wind, and there are even moments where you'll have to jump on futuristic jump-ramps. Sweet! The one thing that makes this different from the other F-Zero games is that it is one-player only, and I could understand how some gamers might not be okay with that fact, though I don't mind that so much. As it stands, not only is this game great, but it's a fun time.
Year: 1990, 1991 | Developer/Publisher: Nintendo | Played on: SNES
Another Mode 7 showcase like F-Zero, this first generation SNES title is a childhood favorite of mine. This flight/airborne simulation is memorable, and when I was little I remember enjoying some of the lessons. The parachuting event is fun, the hanggliding event is amazing, the hovercraft event is impressive (the fact that you can shift point of views from third person to bird's eye is neat), and the airplane event is decent, although it's not my cup of tea. There are even a few secret events that can be accessed should you manage to land in a certain target, such as the penguin diving event. The playfield is highly detailed, and the visuals are awesome. One of the things I remember enjoying the most are the cutscenes where the various instructors talk to you, and depending on how you performed they would make priceless reactions (say you did real good on Level 2's courses, then Shirley's eyes will be widely open). There were also other moments that I thought were funny, and the island setting is nice. After Level 4 is completed, the game shifts from lighthearted to action-packed from straight out of the nowhere as you guide a fighter-copter in order to rescue your first three instructors, which may easily catch some gamers offguard; I mean, where did that come from? But, apart from that aspect, I like it; it's great fun.
Super Turrican 2
Year: 1995 | Developer: Factor 5 | Publisher: Ocean | Played on: Nintendo Wii Virtual Console
I could never get past the third stage of the last game in the Turrican series, so I'll talk about the stuff I've experienced in this game up to that point. As a big improvement over the first Super Turrican on the SNES, Super Turrican 2 displays atmospheric worlds, impressively well-done cutscenes, and epic background music (and thank goodness the sound effects don't obstruct the soundtrack here like the previous game did). The turrican assualt suited hero has the same arsenal of moves from the last game, only this time you also have the ability to use the grappling hook a la Bionic Commando. The boss fights are interesting, and I like how intricate the area designs are. There were even moments where you shifted gameplay: one moment you would be in a run'n gun area, and the next you'd be in a third person Mode 7 cyber race. The only downer for me is that this game only has a few continues, but even on Easy mode, this game can be very difficult for me, and I'm the type of gamer who perseveres when it comes to challenge (usually). One day I hope to get a little farther in this game and beat it, so I'll form a proper opinion on it. But what I played of is very decent, plus I find it a little enjoyable.