Is Best of the Best Really the Best?

Best of the Best Championship Karate has a bit of an interesting history. Reportedly starting life as André Panza Kick Boxing for the PC Engine, as well as various computing consoles in Europe, it was later rebranded Best of the Best Championship Karate, or Super Kick Boxing: Best of the Best and was further plastered all over the gaming world. How effective was the rebranding scheme to extend the life of this game? Well, if you call your game Best of the Best you better be able to back it up, so it really should have been called Pretty Abysmal Karate Tournament.

Without the manual, I have to admit, I was completely confused from the start. The game tries to present itself as if it was Caesar’s Palace and you’re the next kickboxing champ. There is so much information thrown at you as soon as you start the game it might take a bit to sort through it all. You can customize your character’s face by choosing from a few pre-rendered faces. You can change your opponent and see what their stats are. The real meat and potatoes of this game, I thought, was going to be the ability to train and be stronger, but even so it still never seemed to do any good.

My view toward this game is largely apathetic because of the controls. Instead of using all the buttons available on the SNES controller they chose the use a button and D-pad combo to get things done motto. Spoiler alert: it doesn’t. Supposedly the Sega Genesis version offers support for the Sega Activator, which I would imagine is far better than the controls on the SNES. I have played a lot of games with bad control layouts and Best of the Best isn’t the worse offender, but it is pretty bad. Maybe it’s me being a grumpy old man, or maybe this game just really is a horrible waste of silicon, but either way it just never sparked any interest in me whatsoever to give it more time than I already had.

For anyone who wanted to read this.

I hate giving up on games, but sometimes that’s what happens. When a game doesn’t reward you for the challenge and keep you engaged but instead requires more from you for the privilege of being challenged it’s just not worth your time. No, it’s never going to be thought of as a hidden gem, but what it did was kind of unique. This is one of those games that felt overly ambitious but could have actually been a decent game. Had it just been better thought out and executed this probably could have been a memorable game, but it just didn’t work out that way.

Best of the Best is a game I picked up many years ago solely as an oddity because it was cheap and it came in a rental case with nearly all of its original rental paraphernalia. It’s not worth much, even CIB, but it does conjure up nostalgia of being in a small, hometown rental store and taking this pile of trash home on a Friday night but only playing it once and promptly regretting it for the rest of the weekend. If nothing else that’s where its value is, a trinket that stirs nostalgia of a bygone are, because I sure as heck don’t plan to play it ever again.

Posted August 30th, 2021

Classic Edition 68 x 1 Super Nintendo Multicart

I’ve been a fan of multicarts and clone consoles for quite a while now, but my knowledge of them was solely based in the NES/Famiclone realm. With the vintage video game hobby still growing and technology to produce and reproduce cartridges for these consoles becoming cheaper it was only a matter of time before multicarts would be come more ubiquitous than they already were. After the Super Nintendo multicarts were brought to my attention I started looking at the games lists and noticed the higher the number, the lower the quality of games. I’m not saying a 150 in 1 wouldn’t have anything worth playing, but the number of games worth playing went down substantially as the number of games went up.

I set out on a journey of sorts, researching which games were on which multicart, as well as reading many product reviews. I narrowed the copious amount of multicarts down to one, the Classic Edition 68 x 1. This one seemed to pack the most bang for your buck into one SNES cartridge. This multicart offers many classics including Contra 3, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Final Fantasy 2 and 3, Secret of Mana, all three Donkey Kong Country games, Mega Man X, Chrono Trigger, the list goes on and on.

The cartridge itself is a honey color with golden flakes and feels identical to a genuine SNES cartridge. I was concerned the cartridge would be made from cheap plastic and just disintegrate while pushing it into the console, so it was a pleasant surprise that wasn’t the case. The label, which is just a mishmash of characters thrown together, isn’t bad but it’s very bland in terms of design. The clearly fake Nintendo seal of quality just adds the right touch of this is totally wrong to the overall presentation. There is also a well made reproduction of the warning label on the back of the cartridge, but they did leave the Nintendo logo space blank.

Given all the games on this cartridge the PCB looks surprisingly like one for a very basic SNES game. I imagine that’s another advantage of today’s technology allowing them to pack more functions into smaller spaces on a newly manufactured board. This leads me to have mixed feelings about the battery backup though. I assumed by now games like this should be able to save to memory on the cartridge, but at least it’s included, functional and has an easy to change battery holder.

In my past experience a cartridge that claims to have 68 games will actually only have ten or twenty and just repeat games or direct to certain levels, etc. This cartridge actually has 68 unique games and offers a few surprises as well. I’ve compiled a list of what the cartridge claims to have and what the games actually are below.

Cartridge Title                                            Actual Game

ActRaiser 2                                                      ActRaiser 2
ActRaiser                                                         ActRaiser
Aladdin                                                             Aladdin
AlienPredator                                             Alien vs Predator
Arkanoid                                                Arkanoid Doh it Again
BatmanReturns                                           Batman Returns
Bomberman 2                                         Super Bomberman 2
Bomberman                                             Super Bomberman
BreathFire 1                                                 Breath of Fire
BreathFire 2                                                Breath of Fire 2
Castlevania DX                                       Castlevania Dracula X
Castlevania IV                                         Super Castlevania IV
Chrono                                                       Chrono Trigger
Columns                                                          Columns
Contra III                                              Contra III The Alien Wars
Donkey Kong 1                                      Donkey Kong Country
Donkey Kong 2                                      Donkey Kong Country 2
Donkey Kong 3                                      Donkey Kong Country 3
Earthbound                                                  Earthbound
Earthworm Jim 2                                        Earthworm Jim 2
Fatal Fury 2                                                    Fatal Fury 2
Final Fight 3                                                  Final Fight 3
Final Fight                                                      Final Fight
Final Fantasy III                       Final Fantasy III (NA) / Final Fantasy VI (Japan)
Final Fantasy II                        Final Fantasy II (NA) / Final Fantasy IV (Japan)
Final Fantasy IV                           Final Fantasy IV Easy Type (FF II in NA)
Goof Troop                                                    Goof Troop
Gradius III                                                      Gradius III
Harvest Moon                                            Harvest Moon
Home Alone                                                Home Alone
Hunt Red                                                Hunt for Red October
Illusion                                                      Illusion of Gaia
Indiana Jones                              Indiana Jones’ Greatest Adventures
JamesBond Jr                                             James Bond Jr.
Killer                                                            Killer Instinct
Lion King                                                    The Lion King
Lufia II                                                Lufia II Rise of the Sinistrals
Magical Quest                            Magical Quest: Starring Mickey Mouse
Mario All Star                            Super Mario All-Stars + Super Mario World
Mario World                             Super Mario World: Return to Dinosaur Land
Mega Man VII                                              Mega Man 7
Mega Man X                                                Mega Man X
Metroid                                                      Super Metroid
MortalKombat 3                                        Mortal Kombat 3
MortalKombat 2                                        Mortal Kombat II
MortalKombat 1                                         Mortal Kombat
Ninja Mystical                                 Legend of the Mystical Ninja
Ogre Battle                             Ogre Battle: The March of the Black Queen
Pac Attack                                                    Pac-Attack
Pac Man                                                          Pacman
Prince Persia                                             Prince of Persia
R-Type                                                        Super R-Type
Secret Mana                                              Secret of Mana
SFighter II Turbo                                   Street Fight II: Turbo
Sim City                                                          SimCity
Street Combat                                            Street Combat
Sunset Riders                                             Sunset Riders
Super Mario                                            Super Mario World
Tales Phantasia                                        Tales of Phantasia
Terranigma                                                   Terranigma
Tom & Jerry                                               Tom and Jerry
Top Gear 2                                                   Top Gear 2
Top Gear 1                                                    Top Gear
Turrican 2                                                 Super Turrican 2
Turrican 1                                                 Super Turrican
Turtles                                              TMNT Tournament Fighters
Turtles IV                                             TMNT IV Turtles in Time
Zelda Link                                  The Legend of Zelda A Link to the Past

During preliminary testing all the games loaded just fine and generally load up within a few seconds, although loading times do vary from game to game. I did run across a few reviews that mentioned some games not loading at all, but it seems these problems are usually found on SNES clone consoles and not the genuine Super Nintendo consoles. I have to add the caveat that obviously I could not test all the games thoroughly, as many of them are either long, epic adventures or RPGs. More problems might creep up in the future as I’m playing the games more in depth, but the few games I have given substantial play time to seem just fine so far.

If you thought this review was going to be all sunshine and cuddly puppies and kittens you’d be wrong. Some games, such as Earthworm Jim 2 and Harvest Moon are missing some of their sound effects. Missing sound effects is a bit annoying, but otherwise these games seem perfectly playable. Mega Man 7 seems to be the only real fatality on the cartridge. The game seems to think my controller is a turbo controller and stutters when I attempt to jump or shoot the mega buster. Every so often I could do a full jump and shoot about four shots in a row, but what fun is Mega Man 7 with unpredictable jumps and shooting? I did check Mega Man X just to see if it was plagued with the same issue and it seems perfectly playable without any issues whatsoever. The aforementioned bugs might not be the only ones, as I am unfamiliar with a lot of these games and can’t guarantee elements from other games aren’t missing as well.

So is the Classic Edition 68 x 1 worth the price? Well after purchasing mine from Amazon I found it for under half the price on Aliexpress, should you prefer to buy it there. Putting the price aside I’m actually fairly pleased with what this cartridge offers. No, not all 68 games are classics, but most of them are. The only game breaking bug being in Mega Man 7, which really is a disappointment but otherwise everything else seems to work just fine. For the price of this cartridge you save a lot of money in what it offers. Even if you already own some of the heavy hitters on this cartridge you’re saving wear and tear on them, while still getting to play the game on SNES hardware. That fact alone, I think, makes it well worth the investment.

Posted August 23rd, 2021

Peripheral Vision: Interact Superpad for the SNES

It feels like I’ve made this Peripheral Vision article before, but I can’t find it on the site. I swear I did because for the longest time this controller was my go-to SNES controller. I have some weird idea in my brain that if I use cheap third-party controllers and put the wear and tear on them, that saves my real controllers. I guess this explains a lot of why I prefer cheap third-party controllers. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Super Famicom controller, but I don’t want to break it, even though I’m pretty sure it probably would still hold up much longer than the controllers I do use.

Wow that inlay around the buttons needs retrobrite.

The Interact Superpad for the SNES really was my favorite SNES controller for quite a long time. It’s such a good controller, plus it gave me the joy of owning a Super Nintendo controller with colored buttons that weren’t just bland lavender and purple. Somewhere along the way my Superpad had a run in with a child with a flat screwdriver, which seems to be a theme for things I pick up from thrift stores. After bringing it home, washing all the dead skin and soda out from all the cracks and cleaning the carbon pads this controller was ready for all that I could throw at it, and it responded really well.

I say really well because with almost every third-party SNES controller I’ve used there is something weird with the D-pad. Pressing down or up is almost always up and left or right, etc. and this controller was no exception. I made sure it wasn’t the carbon pads, it’s just the way the plastic D-pad was molded that gives it a chance of moving in a diagonal rather than strictly up or down. Even so, with a little bit of practice I was able to learn the right pressure to give and for the most part I could avoid the controller having issues. The Superpad, though, was the least offensive when it came to this issue, I’ve had other controllers that are far worse.

One of my favorite features of this controller is the convexed back that helps with grip. The weird design choice to not texture the plastic, but rather give it a big booty kind of baffles me, but it does feel great in the hands. Take that the way you will, I said what I said.

Look at the backside!

As previously stated this controller really was my go-to controller when I wanted to play SNES. I didn’t replace it because it became any less important to me, no. In fact I decided to go with some super cheap FC Twin controllers because the Superpad had become so important to me. I figured I would rather the wear and tear break down these cheap FC Twin controllers than a controller I really enjoy using. From time to time I’ll break out the old Interact Superpad and play a round of Tetris Attack or something simple, just to remember the good old days. It’s still a solid controller and I still enjoy using it. It’s just a simple, no frills, big booty SNES controller that does what it’s asked to do and does it very well.

Posted August 16th, 2021

Super Mario World: Still Super After All These Years?

The date is August 23, 1991 and North America is about to experience something completely new. Following the success of the Super Mario Bros. trilogy on the NES, Nintendo have created a new incarnation of the series for their brand new Super Nintendo console. Packed in with the console is a copy of Super Mario World, now a well established, and still much loved classic for the console. So much so that Nintendo re-released the game in a special All Stars + Super Mario World for the SNES, and subsequently almost every handheld console Nintendo has created since. How does Super Mario World hold up almost thirty years later? Tremendously well, to be honest.

Unlike my lack of chances to play Super Mario Kart I did play Super Mario World at Super Nintendo kiosks in stores. It was when the N64 kiosks were getting all the attention, but I did play Super Mario World, and I have played it quite often since. I own the game in a few variations, but I’ve been using my All Stars + Super Mario World cartridge most recently to fulfill my Super Mario World needs. Due to a mishap while trying to use my Super 8 all my progress was erased. Luckily it wasn’t the battery, so I chose to start all over and see how well this game still holds up.

Thanks to the power of the Super Nintendo this game has great graphics that still look great today. That, combined with more vibrant colors, helps Super Mario World shine from the second you press the start button. The game starts out very simple and allows you to learn the controls at a very nice pace while packing in a lot of fun along the journey. From starting off, all the way to learning why some level markers are red, there are plenty of fun surprised to find. Let’s not forget all the power ups, especially the new cape feature that helps you fly through some of the easier levels.

Speaking of levels, Super Mario World is packed with levels. Not only are there the basic levels you need to finish to get from start to Bowser’s castle, but you’ll also find some levels offer secret exits. Secret exits can open a shortcut on the world map, or open up an entirely new set of challenges. Star Road and Special World are hidden bonus levels within the world that within themselves hold additional levels to play. While most levels are short, some can be very easy and others can be a bit challenging. Nintendo seems to have added just the right balance between challenge and reward, as even the most challenging levels, I’ve found, kept me wanting to come back and try a little harder each time, rather than rage quit.

Super Mario World was the introduction of Yoshi as well. A variety of Yoshis can be found in different colored throughout the world, each being able to perform a different skill. In many cases you will find Yoshi to be either helpful or a hindrance. Yoshi gives you the ability to consume most enemies, but also provides an additional buffer between life and death, which comes in handy sometimes.

There is no question why Super Mario World is a much loved classic for the console. Even though some levels can be challenging it never took me very long to sit down, work out the best way to succeed and make it happen. The game still looks good today, and the controls are spot on. Nintendo really did a great job with this game. Super Mario Bros. 3 will always be my favorite of the Super Mario series, but Super Mario World is a very close second. Whatever console you choose to play Super Mario World on the fact is still the same, Nintendo absolutely got it right with this one. Now how does the sequel Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island hold up? Well that’s another story!

Posted August 9th, 2021

Peripheral Vision: Super Famicom vs North American Super Nintendo Controller

After many years of wanting one, I recently purchased a Super Famicom controller. I always preferred the different colored buttons over the bland lavender and purple of the North American Super Nintendo controller. It’s sad that I feel the need to note that it’s the North American version as the European Super Nintendo has the same name, but the controller and console are identical to their Japanese counterparts. So what exactly are the differences between the North American Super Nintendo controller and the Super Famicom controller?

Most notably are the aforementioned action buttons being much more colorful in the Super Famicom controller. The buttons are also all convex, instead of two convex and two concave. After using the Super Famicom controller for a while I really don’t see why Nintendo of America thought they needed to change the buttons in this way, but they did. With the action button layout I don’t see how anyone could confuse any of the buttons for one another, but maybe that’s just me.

There is a bit of a drawback though as the cable on the Super Famicom controllers are significantly shorter than the North American controllers. I don’t personally have a problem with this, as I’m usually never sitting far enough away from my Super Nintendo for this to be a problem. Since the boards for the controllers are practically identical it wouldn’t be an issue swapping them out with a North American SNES controller board to have that longer cable, with the outer shell of the Super Famicom controller. This actually makes me want to acquire a European Super Nintendo controller, but I’ve read they won’t work directly with NA or Japanese consoles without a slight modification.

Other than the shorter cable, which is actually quite easy to remedy should that really be a problem, the Super Famicom controller is essentially the exact same as the NA Super Nintendo controller, just with a more colorful personality. There really is some kind of interesting draw to the Super Famicom controller. Maybe because it’s not what we grew up with, or maybe it all boils down to the colorful buttons. The more I think about it the more frustrated I become wondering what was going through their heads at Nintendo of America when they thought a bland purple color scheme was what we needed, or wanted in North America and everywhere else this console sold. Third-party controller makers tried to bring a facsimile to the market with their cheap controller alternatives, but nothing ever truly matched up to the quality of the original Nintendo controller. Nothing that is until you purchase yourself a genuine Super Famicom controller.

Posted August 2nd, 2021