This is more than a racing game with unicycles. This is like diving into a stock graphic that you would see in an elementary school textbook. Semi-psychedelic graphics and thick colorful rails you ride on.
This game is rare because there was only a print run of 300,000 copies. DMA Design, working under Nintendo of America, were sued by Pixar after the game’s release. Pixar alleged that Uniracers (also called Unirally in Europe) was a ripoff of their 1987 animated short, Red’s Dream. Red’s dream was about a sentient motorcycle, and that’s where the similarities end.
Unfortunately, Pixar won the lawsuit, and DMA couldn’t sell any more cartridges. It’s a shame, because the game is rather fun. It’s like playing through an early Windows screensaver. Uniracers has a unique aesthetic and some tricky gameplay that make it worth exploring.
Ogre Battle: The March of the Black Queen
If you tried to explain Final Fantasy’s gameplay to someone, it would be pretty easy. It might take a few sentences at most. Take your party, walk around, turn based random battles, progress the story, take a selfie with the credits screen.
Ogre Battle is much more than that. Manage your troops, their stats, their classes, equippable items, consumable items, their alignment, your reputation…and a bunch more. It’s a complicated squad-based RPG with very deep gameplay. It has a high-fantasy story with tarot cards and fortune telling as a main theme to back up your main character’s rebellion against the evil empire.
As far as strategy SNES RPGs go, this one is the cream of the crop. Unfortunately, it had another short print run in the US and Europe, so not many people got their hands on it. It got a re-release on the PS1 (and in Japan on the Saturn) but those had short print runs too. There’s a bunch of ways to get your hands on the game now, and it’s definitely worth your time.
Puzzle games are supposed to be relaxing. Tetris is relaxing. Tetris Attack is not.
Tetris Attack is a puzzle game with anime-style fantasy characters. Nintendo decided to release the game in non-Japan regions using Yoshi as the main character. The rest of the cast is replaced with enemies and allies from Super Mario World 2, also known as Yoshi’s Island.
It’s a one-on-one puzzle game where you have to move blocks in pairs to create match chains. Creating successful chains drops big walls on the opponent’s board, and they have to make matches to break the walls into blocks and try to empty their board. If your board gets completely filled up, you lose.
That’s a bit quirky, but not weird. The truly weird part is that this game has a niche competitive scene, and tournaments are routinely held at PAX. There’s even a mini-meta for the game and unique matching strategies. Check out those videos on YouTube even if you don’t plan on going to Tetris Attack tournaments anytime soon.
Saturday Night Slam Masters
You can play a fighting game, you can play a wrestling game, or you can play both. Saturday Night Slam Masters is the “both.”
Capcom, the king of 2D fighting games, set out to make something a little different. They took the grappling fun of the WWF games on the console and mixed it with some tried and true gameplay concepts from Street Fighter and the like. Throw in Mike Haggar from the Final Fight series as a playable character, and you’ve got a bonafide Capcom classic.
This one is four-player too, so you can do wrestling grudge matches or team up with a buddy against the computer. Use high-flying moves, Irish whips, grappling maneuvers and specials to dominate your opponents. It’s a lot flashier and more cartoony than a regular WWE game.
Oh, and the game’s name in Japan is “Muscle Bomber: The Body Explosion.” That’s worth mentioning.
Mega Man Soccer
A lot of Mega Man fans passed this title over. You have to wonder why.
In all seriousness, this is a mediocre sports game with cutesy characters. The Robot Masters from the Mega Man series step on the field as playable characters. The real fun lies in trying out all their different special shots.
There’s not a lot to say about this one, but it’s another weird sports title before game companies had decades of info about how to properly make and market them. Mega Man Soccer is one of those games that just couldn’t be made today. That’s why it’s worth a play.
Cover-based shooting? In my 16-bit console? It’s more likely than you think.
This is what Blizzard was up to in the SNES era, along with Rock ‘N Roll Racing. The property hasn’t been revived since (not even for Heroes of the Storm). There’s seventeen levels of arcade action and tactical shooting. You have to utilize the background cover to evade enemy gunfire and pop into the foreground to shotgun fantasy creatures. It’s also available for free on the Battle.net PC client. If you can’t find it anywhere else, give it a shot if you’re already a Blizzard fan. It’s really a blast, and the only one of its kind on the Super Nintendo.
Wild guns is a “shooting gallery” game. It’s not quite an on-rails shooter, and it’s not a third-person shooter either. Levels are singular screens with enemies that spawn throughout; try to shoot them while moving your character in the foreground to avoid projectiles.
This game has been re-released on Switch and PC with extra characters and such, but the original is still worth revisiting. It has co-op gameplay and crushing difficulty. It’s also got a crazy art style with cowboy mecha-enemies with elaborate chain guns and flamethrowers. Seriously, this game is awesome the first go-around, and only marginally less awesome every time after.
EVO: The Search for Eden
If you played this game, you remembered it. It’s a psychedelic adventure about evolving a creature from an aquatic life form all the way to a humanoid.
E.V.O. is a solid side-scrolling platformer, but platformers rarely have such a surreal story. It’s a story about evolution, but references extraterrestrial lifeforms as well as a pantheon of gods on Earth. It’s more like Pokemon evolution than real-world evolution, and it’s really interesting to see a story like that in this genre.
Very few games have toyed with evolution in such a capacity until Maxim’s Spore. It’s a fun experience that has held up conceptually.
Zombies Ate My Neighbors!
Campy horror tropes are abound in this top-down shooter. Blast zombies, Jasons, giant babies, and chainsaw maniacs alone or with a buddy over 48 different levels.
This game is challenging, but very rewarding once you learn all the different items and weapons. Saving your neighbors and finishing a level is extremely satisfying, especially after running from hordes of ghouls.
The game got a sequel called Ghoul Patrol, but unfortunately, the series never escaped the 16-bit era. Give this game a few playthroughs, as it still feels very modern today. It has aged well than many other of its peers from the 16-bit era.
If you’re a fighting game fan, this game will impress you for a multitude of reasons. It’s a slow fighting game with gritty graphics and no sequels. So why should you play this over Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat?
Well, like Mortal Kombat, it has gory finishing moves. Unlike Mortal Kombat, it has a weapon-based fighting system complete with disarm moves that preceded unarmed combat. It also had parries, counterattacks, classic juggles, and the ability to cut off the opponent’s hair or clothes.
It’s a solid game with enough depth to keep you interested in exploring its many unique systems. Weaponlord was ahead of its time — a little too ahead, if you look at its lasting legacy. It doesn’t have eleven installments like Mortal Kombat, but it’s great fun even today.