By Michael Mygind
This time around, I’ll be focusing on four games that I picked up while on vacation in Japan.
Pop ‘n TwinBee (1993, Konami, Super Famicom)
This shoot ‘em up (or shmup) is the sixth game in the TwinBee series, which are often referred to as “cute ‘em ups” for their cartoony style and cheery music. The TwinBee series plays similarly to other vertical shmups such as Xevious or Alpha Mission where you have a button to fire on aerial enemies and another button to bomb ground enemies. It is a very colorful game that makes for a nice change of pace for shmup fans that want to play something different than their usual spaceship or jet fighter shmups. Pop ‘n Twinbee can currently be found for about $15 on eBay and it’s just an all around enjoyable game.
Battle Dodgeball (1992, Banpresto, Game Boy)
Battle Dodgeball is a dodgeball game in the Compati Heroes series, which features characters from Ultraman, Kamen/Masked Rider and Gundam Wing. The first time that I played this game was around 1997 when I bought it from a fellow Boy Scout whose family was housing a foreign exchange student from Japan who had left some games for him. Since I was a big fan of Ultraman, I was all over this. It’s dodgeball on the Game Boy with licensed Japanese characters. Much like other dodgeball games, you play on a 6 man team with three on the court and three on the opposing side’s perimeter. The funny thing about this game is that once you have defeated a team, they are shown on the stage select screen as “Dead.” No, really. Look at the screenshot below. While funny, this might just be a poor translation. Overall, it’s a fun and affordable game. It can currently be found for about $10 or less on eBay.
Neo Geo Heroes: Ultimate Shooting (2010, SNK Playmore, PSP)
A sequel to the quirky XBLA and PSN release, King of Fighters: Sky Stage, Neo Geo Heroes: Ultimate Shooting once again takes characters from SNK games such as Fatal Fury, King of Fighters, Metal Slug and Last Blade and throws them into a bullet-hell shmup. While playing as a flying Terry Bogard is a little weird, it’s a very fun game. It even includes the aforementioned first release, Sky Stage, as a bonus. While Pop ‘n TwinBee is an approachable shooter, Neo Geo Heroes falls under the category of bullet-hell shmups, which are referred to as such due to the almost unavoidable hail of gunfire that enemies will throw at you. As a bit of fan-service, some of the characters’ special moves from their respective games can be used at the touch of a button as well as a more powerful super move. The graphics and music are nice, but the pacing of each stage from start until the boss battle is great. Neo Geo Heroes: Ultimate Shooting can currently be found for about $30 on eBay.
Super V.G. (1995, TGL, Super Famicom)
Street Fighter II clones in the 90’s were a dime a dozen. Super Variable Geo (Or Super V.G.) certainly falls into this category, but this does not make it a throwaway title. The plot is centered around a fighting tournament featuring waitresses who are representing their respective restaurants in battle. The pace of each fight, the fighters’ movements and the button combinations for their special moves are all very reminiscent of Street Fighter II. However, the story and variety of fighters makes this game stand out from other clones. I will also note that the intro animation is some of the best that I have ever seen on the Super Nintendo/Famicom. While the series has seen numerous releases on the PC, Turbo CD, PlayStation and Sega Saturn, this particular release can be bought for about $20 on eBay.
Playing Import Games on your American (NTSC) SNES, PSP & Game Boy consoles.
Super Famicom: Please see my first Import Recommendations piece for various methods.
PSP: The PSP was not region encoded! So, pop the game in and you’re good to go!
Game Boy: Just like the PSP, the Game Boy was not subject to region encoding. So, you’re good to go! The same goes for the Super Game Boy if you would like to play a game on the bigger screen.