Super Famicom Shooter Spectacular - Part 4 by Rhete
Marchen Adventure Cotton 100%
Japan Only Released: April 22nd 1994 Developer: Success Difficulty: Very Low
Cotton is one of those game series that Japan decided to keep all to themselves, despite having around 6 games on a whole mess of platforms ranging from TurboGrafx to Dreamcast, Cotton is pretty much unheard of in America since only one of the games ever came out here. And it was on Turbo CD, whichs means no one bought it.
Anyways, Cotton 100% is the second game in the series, not to be confused with Cotton 2, which was fourth. In it you play as a cute little witch named Cotton, who apparently, is a genocidal maniac who only cares about a certain type of candy and will destroy everything in her path to get some. Or so I read. There actually is some kind of story in this game, with cutscenes between every level, but as it's all in japanese, I'll just stick with the candy story.
The game system in Cotton is fairly standard, enemies drop crystals which power up your main attack, every once in a while you can obtain a fairy to travel with you, the fairies you collect act as options, adding to your firepower. You also have 3 different spells equipped, changing the one selected will alter your fairies layout, and you can also use the spells to unleash huge attacks on your enemies. One of the spells though, is actually a protective barrier that can take a few hits, which is insanely overpowered in a game where you die in 1 hit, so I just stuck to keeping barriers up as much as I could.
I didn't really need to though, as this game is very easy, possibly the easiest I've ever played. The lack of difficulty probably stems from the fact that there are no real enemy bullets, only a few enemies are capable of projectile attacks at all, stuff like throwing axes at you, but most of the time you'll mow down every enemy before they have time to walk into position, ready themselves, and complete the axe throwing animation. Once you get going, pretty much everything dies before it has a chance to fight back. Like Darius Twin, the only danger of dying all game is at the very end, at which point you can easily muscle through the final boss with enough continues.
Another note about the game, the graphics seem kind of weird to me. They have a very "Genesis" look to them, the colors are there but for what is trying to be a very cute game, the overall color palette seems strange, it's a bit subdued compared to more colorful games like Twinbee or Flying Hero. The graphics also tend to make everything blur together, visibility is a pretty big problem in the game, not helped by a good amount of foreground objects getting in your way.
So while Cotton doesn't do anything noticably wrong, it doesn't do anything new or exciting, or particularly well either. It's strictly mediocre.
Dezaemon / Daioh Gale
Japan Only Released: September 20th 1994 Developer: Athena Difficulty: Medium
Dezaemon is an extremely unique game, where you can actually create your own shoot em up, which is a pretty impressive feat for an SNES game. You can edit the graphics, music, enemies, bosses, almost everything to be what you want. This is an example of what you can make, apparently it was created by Pixel (of Cave Story fame) before he was known as Pixel.
But I'm not here to talk about the creation aspect, since I'm playing every shooter, I headed right for the default game that comes in Dezaemon, which is called Daioh Gale. First off, the game is extremely generic. Stage 1 is a forest, stage 2 an ocean, stage 3 a desert, and stage 4 moves you higher into the sky, and then, yep you guessed it, stage 5 goes into outer space. For those keeping track, this is almost the exact same level progression as Strike Gunner, and I'm sure several more games that I'm forgetting.
You have three weapons, a spread shot, powerful missiles, and a homing shot. Bombs are a plenty as well, and each stage will usually have 1 shield item in it. The bosses are pretty standard fare, they focus mostly on spamming bullets at you in tight clusters. The game is clearly inspired by similar shooters like Raiden. So while overall the game plays really well, it doesn't do anything to stand out from the crowd. Only in its final stage does it really begin to open up and show some more interesting enemies and attacks, and by that point the game is almost over. As a display of the game engine, it shows amazing promise, but making something great is up to the user.
Japan Only Released: November 25th 1994 Developer: Konami Difficulty: Variable
Gokujou Parodius is the second Parodius game on SNES, and pretty much delivers exactly what you'd expect from a sequel - more of the same. In fact, Gokukou seems to suffer a bit too much from this, it plays too much like an extension of the original, and doesn't really feel like its own game.
Along with the original cast there are a ton of new characters, including a bunny girl on a rocket, a stick figure riding paper airplane, a flying pig, Goemon, Dracula, and a baby. It's a very strange cast indeed. Each character has their own powerup set creating a lot of variety, but just for consistency I decided to play as Twinbee again, who is pretty much exactly the same as he was in the last game.
As for the stages themselves though, there was a strong feeling of "been there, done that" for me. The first few stages in particular, bring back a lot of enemies from the first game, the cat headed Pirate Ship, the moai battleship, Uncle Sam birds. The exotic dancer returns again as well, but this time is two screens tall. The new areas and enemies just don't seem as creative, though there are some good bosses, like a gigantic powerup who shoots hundreds of actual powerups at you, mixed in with a few instant kill bombs. The game doesn't seem as long as the original either, though there is a hellishly difficult extra stage after the final boss which makes the game a bit longer.
Parodius has a pretty straight difficulty curve, it starts easy, has a few tricky spots in the middle, then the final and extra stages are brutal. Luckily, the game features one option that was a very welcome addition - you can choose to respawn at checkpoints, or just revive where you died and continue on. The latter makes things a lot easier, eliminating the infamous Gradius syndrome. Parodius is also VERY generous with powerup icons, it doesn't take long to regain your weaponry on death.
So while Gokujou is a great game, it feels a bit too much like Parodius 1.5, so if you can only play one, I'd stick with the original for now. It should be interesting to see what the third game in the series coming up brings to the table.
Japan Only Released: 1994 Developer: Okiraku/Gokuraku? Difficulty: High
Information on this game is a bit fuzzy. None of the websites I gather info on has anything on this game. Theres just nothing at all about this game anywhere, except for the fact that a rom image of it exists. The game was probably never commercially released, and once you play it, it becomes really obvious why.
Problem one: There is no sound.
Problem two: The game is under four minutes long, including the ending credits. It has a stage, then a boss with a few forms. If you're good, you can beat the entire thing in one life. Which I'm not good enough to do sadly. I would normally fault the game for being insanely hard, but when you only have one stage I guess that's to be expected.
Interesting tech demo, but theres not enough here to call it a game. I still gets a sock for being sort of fun though.
Caravan Shooting Collection
Japan Only Released: July 7th 1995 Developer: Hudson
I'm not going to do a full review of this one, as while it is a shoot em up, its not really a snes game. Caravan Shooting Collection is an interesting game though, it's a compilation package of three retro shooters - Star Force, Star Soldier, and Hector 87. I'm not sure if these are direct arcade ports, or NES ports, but either way, you only have to play a few seconds to realize that they haven't been touched at all. If you're looking to play these games, this collection is worth checking out.
Just think, when this collection game out, the games in it were between 8 and 10 years old, and now the collection itself is 14 years old. My how time flies.
Jikkyou Oshaberi Parodius
Japan Only Released: December 15th 1995 Developer: KCEO Difficulty: Variable
After not much time at all, it's time for the third Parodius game! I'm just going to refer to this one as Parodius 3 as the real name is quite a mouthful. Parodius 3 takes some of the ideas second game introduced, and refines them to perfection. The cast is even bigger this time, though not everyone from the second game returned. What is new though is that every characters player two counterpart is no longer exactly the same, and can be selected by either player. Don't like the weapons Vic Viper has? Try out Lord British and his awesome ripple gun! The characters new this time are a pair of cats and two fairies, but fear not, stickman riding a paper airplane returns as well.
Also returning again is the revival option, which lets you appear right away again after dying, instead of going back to a checkpoint. This game felt a bit harder than the previous, so I'd advise turning this option on. One really neat upgrade here is how revival is handled in two player mode. When player one dies, player two appears to resume the stage at the same place. It's pretty much the closest to co-op play the series will ever get. The downside to revival though, is that the default movement speed is horrible, and if you respawn without any powerups stored or nearby, odds are you're going to die again quite soon.
Where Parodius 3 really shines though, is the level design. The first level is a fairly strange penguin dance club of some sort that would fit right into the previous games in the series. It's good, but nothing amazing. But after that is when the game really finds its groove and stands apart from the previous two entries. Stage 2 is a trip though the most unlikely of all places for a shooter, a Japanese High School. It's completely bizarre, but somehow works. The stage is very long too with a ton of scenery, as you fly through the front courtyard, classrooms, bathrooms, a gym, and finally out the back of the school where you face off against a gigantic schoolgirl. It's a really amazing and varied stage.
Stage 3 is a Twinbee themed stage with a lot of great scenery and references to the series, as well as some bosses from it. The end boss here though is a gigantic Twinbee with huge boobs who shoots lipstick at you. I guess they had to keep that "completely off the wall bizarre" quota up. Stage 4 another Konami reference stage, this time focusing on Goemon, which most of you will know as the Legend of the Mystical Ninja. This is another very long stage with a lot of great scenery to fly through. These first few stage are quite honestly some of the best and most varied stages I've seen in any shooter ever.
After that, the stages get a bit more simple which is kind of disappointing. Stage 5 takes you through what at first I thought was an underwater stage, but upon closer look, everything is actually made of candy. Oh and all the enemies appear to be pre-rendered CG sprites. It's out of nowhere and looks very strange, which I'm sure was the entire point. The reason I hated this stage though, was the slowdown, while tolerable most of the game, reached a insanely high level here, to where it really started to get annoying. I really wish this game didn't suffer so much from slowdown, as it's really the only downside to this game.
Rounding out the rest of the game are a short Lethal Enforcers level, a boss marathon with more Konami characters from other games, and a final base level similar to all the others, complete with a giant octopus final boss who doesn't fight back. It's hard to say which game I liked more, this or the original, as they're both pretty great. This is one to look out for.
Oh, did I mention that a Japanese man yells at you the entire game?
Japan Only Released: July 26th 1996 Developer: Khaos Difficulty: High
And for the final game on the list, was have Spriggan Powered, a little shooter that is odd in a few ways. It's odd in that... it doesn't feel like a SNES game at all, it feels a lot like a Genesis shooter. I mean I should know, I've played every shooter on both systems now! Spriggan is a bit rough around the edges, and some of the weird hiccups it has makes it feel like it was rushed, which is kind of odd for a game so late in the systems life.
Anyways, most of the game is pretty standard stuff, you have your choice between four weapons, but three of them pretty much do the exact same thing, shoot straight ahead, just in machinegun, fireball, and laser varieties. The fourth weapon is a homing shot which is really nice for when enemies are everywhere. Each weapon can also be charged up to unlease a huge attack, though most of these are kind of weak and not worth the energy. The exception of course is the homing shots special, which unleases four orbs that just sit on the screen, killing everything they touch. They're insanely strong and if you drop one on a boss, it dies almost immediately.
The most unique feature of the game is that you have a shield button that will for a very brief moment, destroy any bullets near you. Doing this drains your energy so you can't spam it all the time, but in areas you need it, it's extremely helpful, and sadly the most interesting thing about the game.
Besides the shield, there isn't really anything else notable about the game. The graphics are kind of ugly, and there isn't a lot of background variety in most of the stages. There are only six stages, and you're given 3 lives and 2 continues to get through it all, so the game can be really annoyingly hard. There is potential here, but it feels like it needed more time to be polished. As is, the game is just kind of mediocre with a few good moments.