So after everything, where does the SNES stand against the Genesis as far as shooters go? Well, not as bad as I thought it would be, given that public opinion seems to be that Genesis was godly for shooters and the SNES sucked. As far as overall quality went, the SNES seemed to be much more consistent, I didn't run into any completely unplayable games like I did on Genesis. The worst game would either be Dimension Force or Blazeon, but neither approached the level of pure shit that a few games did on Genesis, like X-Dazedly-Ray or Bio Ship Paladin.
But no one cares about the worst games, most people are interested in playing the good ones. And unfortunately, this is where the SNES comes up a bit short. Here are all the games I gave 3.5 or 4 socks to.
Genesis (10) Whip Rush, Thunder Force III, Darius II, Musha Alesta, Sol-Feace, Thunder Force IV, Bio-Hazard Battle, Dennin Aleste, Lords of Thunder, Silpheed
Megadrive only (3) Gley Lancer, Eliminate Down, Battle Mania Daiginjou
Genesis comes out strong, with a total of 13 games, most of them available in the US.
SNES (4) UN Squadron, Space Megaforce, Axelay, Biometal
Super Famicom only (6) Parodius Da!, Flying Hero, Pop'n Twinbee, Macross: Scrambled Valkyrie, Gokujou Parodius, Jikkyou Oshaberi Parodius
SNES scores a total of 10 games. The problem is that if you exclude imports, the SNES loses almost all its best games, and Biometal loses its music in place of that 2unlimited crap. So I guess it's true, the Genesis completely creamed the SNES as far as shooters went. But the battle between Megadrive and Super Famicom was a lot closer, 13 to 10, and considering that Megadrive had nearly twice as many shooters, Famicom did quite well for itself. It's really too bad so many of the best games stayed in Japan this time.
SNES did excel over the Genesis in a few areas though, besides just overall graphics and music. These are the areas where...
SNES did it better!
Konami Konami was pretty much the single company that saved the day here, or at least they did in Japan. Konami released 6 shooters for the system, Gradius III, Pop'n Twinbee, Axelay, and three Parodius games. And all of them were good, the company has a great track record. It just sucks that only two of them actually came to the US. Konami shooters tend to have a distinct feel to them due to their sound effects and usually bright and colorful graphics. If you like Gradius III, you need to check out the Parodius series. Pop'n Twinee is a great cute game designed for two players, and Axelay is just overall fantastic. Hats off to you Konami, this would've sucked without you.
Two Player Games Very few shooters on the Genesis were two player. There were a few, like Aero Blasters, but besides that, I'm struggling to think of any names. This wasn't the case on SNES, where a decent number of shooters supported two player mode. So here's a little video montage of the two player enabled games, with me playing both characters. That's right, I'm playing with myself, do ho ho ho!
Games shown: Darius Twin, Aero Fighters, Strike Gunner, Firepower 2000, Pop'n Twinbee, Jikkyou Oshaberi Parodius.
A few games have non simultaneous two player modes which is pretty lame, Jikkyou Oshaberi Parodius is different in that when player 1 dies, player 2 resumes from the same place in the game, and vica versa. Pop'n Twinbee is also an interesting two player game, having modes where enemies only shoot at player 1, and the ability to throw your partner around the screen which is actually very useful, if a bit mean.
Better Multi-Plats Ok so I'm really digging here now, but for the games that appeared on both systems, the SNES ones tended to be the better games. Raiden Trad and Firepower 2000 hands down were better on the SNES. The only close matchup would be Thunder Force 3 vs Thunder Spirits, which I would have to give the nod to Thunder Force 3, but the only matchup where SNES loses is also the closest one. Overall if I was trapped on a desert island and had to choose between the Genesis versions, or SNES versions, I'd pick SNES! Not that that would ever actually happen or anything...
Ok then, now that we've gone over why the SNES isn't quite as bad as everybody says it is, it's time for the awards ceremony! What? There's only two awards this year? God damn I'm lazy. Well let's just get this over with.
Worst Final Boss
Nothing brings the fun to a halt faster than a good game with a joke of a final boss. I mean you struggle through an entire game to get to them, they shouldn't just roll over and die! Here are the worst of the worst on SNES.
#5 - Thunder Spirits Well he's not completely horrible, but when that green brain thing fell out, I was expecting it to turn into the real final boss. Then it hits the ground and sinks in, I'm still expecting the REAL final boss to pop out. Then the stage ends and I realize that was the final boss. Lame.
#4 - Raiden Trad Well this guy can be dangerous, until you hit him with a few bombs, and find out that his main core can't hit you if you position correctly. Talk about pathetic.
#3 - Gradius III After all the hell this game puts you through, you finally arrive at the final boss, the big brain, the awesome music begins to play and... what the hell? He spits 3 slow easy to dodge orbs... then dies. Horrible.
#2 - Parodius (all of them!) Clearly mocking the Gradius series, every Parodius game has a giant octopus for a final boss, the first two of which don't fight back at all, and the third is only a slightly higher health versin of the Gradius III boss.
#1 - Strike Gunner So would could possibly be worse than final bosses who just sit there and let you kill them? I'll tell you what - no final boss at all. Strike Gunner ends with you arriving at the core of the enemy mothership, for it to explode without you even having to shoot it. What the hell is that? Why was I even there? Is it just lazy coding? Worst of all, after the explosion, the game immediately cuts to the end credits with no resolution at all.
This is always really hard to do, but after replaying all the 4 sock games, I came up with a list of whats good and bad about them, and a final ranking.
Pros: - Three games in the series to choose from! - Very unique enemy and boss design - Varied soundtrack with lots of Classical and Konami remixes - Tons of playable characters in the second and third games - Fantastic level design in the third game
Cons: - Slowdown. It gets worse every game somehow - Standard Gradius "die and lose everything" syndrome - Bosses in general are lackluster - Did that giant lady who sidesteps across the stage need to appear in all three game?
Verdict: It bugs me that Gradius III gets all the attention, when there are three other games that play exactly the same and are all better. If you like Gradius, go play Parodius dammit!
Space Megaforce / Super Aleste
Since I skipped writing a real review for this one earlier...
Space Megaforce was made by the legendary and sadly no longer around developer, Compile, who made other classics such as Xanac, The Guardian Legend, Blazing Lazers, and of course, the entire Aleste series. It was a bit weird to play it for the first time in 2009, and getting a weird sense of nostalgia since it is so similar to those older games, even though when you look at it, this game itself is also really old now. It plays so well though it doesn't feel dated at all, but feels more like a modern game inspired by the classics. The execution of this game is so nearly perfect, and feels fresh even 17 years later, it's pretty much timeless.
Pros: - Tons of stages full of non stop action - Eight unique weapons all readily available - Everything blows up
Cons: - Stages are long. It gets a bit excessive when they're pushing 6-7 minutes - Music isn't that good
Verdict: Don't let the stupid english name deter you from playing one of th e best shooters ever.
Pros: - Best Graphics - Best Music - Awesome bosses - Unique Weapons - Being able to take a hit
Cons: - Fairly short, only six stages - Awkward perspective at times in overhead stages - Most weapons locked away until later stages - You can take damage from enemy shots, but touching anything is an instant kill
Verdict: I like it a lot!
Macross - Scrambled Valkyrie
- Three playable characters, each with 3 unique weapons - Very high energy game with good music - You can take over enemies to fight with you - It's a side scroller! I like those more! - Challenging but fair, health powerups keep you going, and hidden full health and continues can be found
Cons: - When you get in trouble, you can die very quickly - Touching the ground may as well be an instant death
Verdict: Probably the closest thing to an Axelay sequel we'll ever get. Screw you Japan for keeping this one to yourself.