Hello all and welcome back to This Month in Retro! After a short vacation, we are back to see what July 1995 has to offer. And I’m going to be honest with you straight from the start… not much really. I usually have a random wheel decide what year to talk about, but surprisingly July is a month that in my first few results always ended up coming short. This month was cursed from the start as Nintendo decided to release an unholy artifact by the name of the Virtual Boy in Japan. Not that I will be talking about it though, as all of the five release games did make it’s way west a month later. Maybe once we talk about August in 1995, then I will give it slightly more attention.
Fear not though, I still have a selection of games to talk about for you! The western side was just extremely limited in choices, so the eastern side takes priority today–and the SNES specifically. I had like seven systems to choose from, but the SNES just towered over everything in terms of releases. As usual, I will be talking about the legacy the games have left behind, the reception from both critics and players, as well as an achievement set if applicable. So without further ado, let’s check out some games!
As mentioned in the intro, there is a smaller selection of games to talk about. Granted, that could mean we have a quality over quantity case right? If the first game is anything to go by, absolutely!
|Wild Guns (SNES)|
|Release dates||JP: August 12, 1994
NA: July ??, 1995
PAL: October 30, 1996
|Average score||79% (GameRankings, 4 reviews)
81% (MobyGames, 21 reviews)
Wild Guns is a shooting gallery game set in the wild west, with a bit of sci-fi and steampunk thrown in there because why not. Avenging the death of her family, Annie and her bounty hunter Clint travel along a diverse set of levels based after each of the themes used for this game, like a desert town or a mechanical factory. Think of the game like a light gun one, where all the enemies and obstacles are in the background while you are moving around the crosshair to end their lives. Furthermore, the player needs to move around their own character at the same time to prevent them from getting the devastating blow. While this may sound complex to do with just one D-pad, the clever solution ended up being that holding down the fire button would move the gun reticle. Add to that the ability to shoot down the bullets of enemies, and you got an exciting shooter on your hands. This is exactly what the critics- and players thought of the game as well, with the game being more fondly remembered now than ever. I should mention it can be a difficult game however, even on the lower difficulties, but the satisfying high-speed action should keep you engaged and become better over time. Due to its cult classic reception, the original version has been digitally re-released on all main Nintendo systems from the Wii onwards, as well as receiving an enhanced remaster called Wild Guns: Reloaded in 2016 for PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and PC. This version also comes with two new characters, a few new stages and modes to check out, and of course updated visuals and audio. And one of the new playable characters is literally a dog called Bullet so yeah, check it out if you liked the original.
Ignoring that remaster for a bit, we have a great RetroAchievements set on our hands. Developer Salsa has made sure that every level has an interesting achievement to come along with it, like finding all the valuables with only the default gun, or clearing a level without even shooting in the first place. Test your skill against the CPU by having more kills than them, as well as your evading techniques by not taking damage in levels and against bosses. Certainly a packed- and challenging set!
Though I did say we would mostly stick to the SNES today since, well, everything interesting released over there, I do have an Atari Jaguar title for you today! And it may actually just be one of the best the system has! Not a high bar to reach I know but hey.
|Super Burnout (Atari Jaguar)|
|Release dates||JP: July ??, 1995
NA: July 5, 1995
PAL: July 7, 1995
|Average score||65% (MobyGames, 17 reviews)|
Released exclusively for the Atari Jaguar, Super Burnout is a motorcycle racing game heavily inspired by arcade classics such as Hang-On. Choose from a total of seven motorcycles and tackles one of the classic four games modes that include a training mode, versus mode, a championship with eight races all across the world, and finally a time trial mode. All of this sounds pretty standard, but what made this game stand out at the time is its impressively smooth 3D graphics with no loss in framerate. Not at the cost of gameplay either, as it features high action on packed track design that also moves vertically pretty regularly. It truly is one of the more impressive racing games from its time… though it didn’t get as much praise at the time from critics. The controls and high sense of speed were all praised, but the lack of originality is what held the game back for them. But as mentioned before, Super Burnout has retrospectively seen a lot of praise, now commonly seen as one of the best games on the platform. Players, albeit few given that it is still an Atari Jaguar game after all, are generally in agreement. Unfortunately for the developers however, even it was not good enough to save the Atari Jaguar, meaning that another product they were working on for the system got cancelled. Afterwards they had the horrible fate of working on two football games for the PlayStation, after which the doors of the studio were closed. Super Burnout, perhaps unsurprisingly, was never seen again either, making this a true exclusive for this ill-fated system. It does not have an achievement set yet however, so if this game does sound interesting to you, you know what to do!
Back to the SNES we go after that short diversion. This month would see only one turn-based RPG release, and perhaps one of the more unknown ones for the system too. That does have a very obvious reason though, but is it still a valid one?
|Tecmo Secret of the Stars (SNES)|
|Release dates||JP: November 5, 1993
NA: July ??, 1995
|Average score||45% (GameRankings, 5 reviews)
53% (MobyGames, 9 reviews)
Secret of the Stars, more commonly referred to as Tecmo Secret of the Stars because they loved putting their name in big letters before all of their games released during this era, is a turn-based JRPG released exclusively for the SNES. The game follow a young boy named Ray, in a classic “save the world from an ancient evil force” scenario. Ray is the leader of the Aqutallion warriors, a clan consisting of four other friends who travel the world and undergo trials to prove they have what it takes to prevent world destruction. Along the way, they also meet a dozen other characters to assist them in battle, which is also the most important aspect of the game as the bond between companions results in new special techniques that can be utilized in battle. While aspects such as having two separate parties to control and switch between sounds cool, critics were not very kind to Secret of the Stars. It was very grindy and just not very impressive from a graphical- and gameplay standpoint when many classics already came out before this one. Players on the other hand tend to go to either extremes, calling it one of the worst RPGs they’ve ever played, or a solid enough underrated gem. Most of the comments on RetroAchievements are fairly positive however, citing it as a neat simple RPG. Do beware that the translation is also a bit on the simpler side however. Perhaps unsurprisingly do its negative reception, Secret of the Stars was never seen again beyond the initial run, and never re-released either.
The game comes with a pretty cozy set of achievements, mostly focusing on progression as well as obtaining every item. Not much more to say about it as you know exactly what needs to be done, but that is certainly good enough for a game like this. Do beware that there are missable achievements, so preparation is advised!
Time for the final Western release. You know, maybe it wasn’t quality over quantity after all. July 1995 just wasn’t a kind month to the world of video games, as proven by the next game we’re going to talk about.
|King Arthur and the Knights of Justice (SNES)|
|Release dates||NA: July ??, 1995|
|Average score||55% (GameRankings, 2 reviews)
56% (MobyGames, 1 review)
I love the tales of King Arthur to death, but then I learned this game is actually about an American football team being transported to Medieval England to take on the roles of King Arthur and his knights, so now I hate it. Based on the cartoon by the same name, King Arthur and the Knights of Justice is a top-down action-adventure game that is cited to have been inspired in-part by The Legend of Zelda. The mission of this football team is to save the true King Arthur and defeat Morgan le Fay, by going through the lands of Britain as Arthur and two out of twelve knights to accompany him, each coming with their own stats and effectiveness against bosses. This does all sound not too bad… except that the game is extremely cryptic in that regard. It is impossible to know what character is effective before going deep into a dungeon and facing a boss, which is made even worse by slow gameplay that also requires every enemy on screen to be beaten before being able to proceed. While the score may not reflect it, the game had a very poor reception, with some mediocre reviews at best. Player opinions are hard to find, but the ones that I did find were also on the negative end. Just like the cartoon it is based on, King Arthur and the Knights of Justice ended up being forgotten, and probably for the better. But hey, I’m not going to stop you from requesting an achievement set!
While the Western side was lacking, the Japanese side had a lot more games to choose from–too many even. RPG fans especially were eating well this month, but there were also a few Platforming and Racing games released. I also found this really cool dungeon crawler called Dun Quest: Majin Fuuin no Densetsu, but it has no translation so I didn’t include it in today’s coverage. All the games I will be talking about today either have an English translation patch, or are playable perfectly without knowledge of moonrunes. Several of these also have achievement sets, including:
|Emerald Dragon (SNES)|
|Release dates||JP: July 28, 1995|
For the first time in ages, we have an RPG that does not have either SquareSoft or Enix attached to it somewhere. In comes Emerald Dragon, a role-playing video game initially developed for Japanese home computers by fairly unknown developer Glodia, and later developed for the PC Engine and Super Famicom by Alfa System. What’s especially interesting about this game is how distinct it feels on the Super Famicom when compared to other games in the genre, specifically in the story- and gameplay department. The first part especially, as it has some influences from Zoroastrian mythology in its characters and locations, which is something very rarely explored in the world of video games. The game follows the story of Atrushan, a young warrior possessing the power a dragon to venture out in the world and uncover the truth of the ancient conflict between humans and dragons who used to live together in peace. Given its PC roots, the combat system is also fairly original, having a top-down perspective where the player can move around and attack as long as their action bar allows it. The player does only have control over the main character however which does make it a bit automated, but the unique approach does make up for it. There are not a lot of player opinions I could find, but they generally come down to really enjoying the game barring the slight flaw in battle I mentioned earlier. The English fan-translation has been completed since 2014, and is also used for the achievement set.
Given that I have plans to play the game myself in the future, I didn’t look at the achievement set in too much detail. Regardless, it has what you would expect: progression, getting all items, and a bunch op extra sidequests. Developer suspect15 made sure to also cover all of the missable content with achievements, so you will be exploring all this game has to offer. Do beware that you need to download a patch from the forum before playing to prevent the debug cheat from removing all challenge!
A fairly well-known mascot from the 90s also got a sequel this month, though surprisingly it never saw an English release while the game before did. Good thing this is still perfectly playable, with- or without patch!
|Super Bonk 2 | Super Genjin 2 (SNES)|
|Release dates||JP: July 28, 1995|
Super Bonk 2 released one year after Super Bonk, and is the fifth and final mainline game in the Bonk series. Readers of This Month in Retro might remember we talked about the bald caveman before, but in short, this character was designed to be the mascot for the TurboGrafx-16 but ended up seeing more adventures beyond that console, including the SNES. Super Bonk was the first game released on the SNES and remained pretty faithful to what came before, having Bonk use his head to “bonk” into enemies, and transform into a variety of creatures. The sequel emphasizes the transformations even more, making this a worthy sequel to the bizarre world of this caveman. Due to releasing a bit later in the system’s lifetime, they went all out with vibrant and detailed graphics, making this game a treat for the eyes–especially in some of the themed stages, like a haunted level where Bonk dies and turns into a zombie while his spirit self keeps him alive throughout. Opinions range from good to great, some even calling it the best game in the series! Unfortunately the translation patch is not fully complete, though it does cover most of the important dialogues that you need to understand how to play the game, including the tutorial. The game does not have an achievement set yet, making it one of the few mainline Bonk games without achievements. Maybe this write-up makes that subject to change?
For the Racing game fans, we also have an interesting release this month that focuses on… small Japanese passenger cars? Okay then.
|Kat’s Run - Zennihon K Car Senshuken (SNES)|
|Release dates||JP: July 14, 1995|
Kat’s Run - Zennihon K Car Senshuken is a blend between an Arcade Racing game, as well as a Kart Racer, featuring small Japanese passenger cars that have been very popular in the country due to them having cheaper tax and insurance costs. So much so that one-third of domestic new-car sales turned out to be Kei cars. Not that that’s too important for the game we’re looking at today, but I figured it would be a cute detail to share as all the cars are directly based on car brands such as Honda and Suzuki. It plays very similarly to other Kart Racers like Super Mario Kart when it comes to steering and drifting, with the items also functioning similarly to noticeable ones such as the Green Shell. But in terms of structure, it also takes some aspects from OutRun surprisingly, having a seamless location transfer often determined by choosing either the left- or right path when in first place. This makes the races engaging as you don’t know what new track is coming up when it happens, with the game having a nice variety of them. The only downside is that aside from the campaign mode, there isn’t really much to do. It’s good for what it is, just not very long. It also has never seen a translation patch, though that doesn’t really matter for this game. If you are a fan of discovering unknown racing games, then this is certainly a game worth putting your set request to!
Because the Western side was so poor today, I’m treating you all to two more RPGs released this month! I couldn’t choose which to talk about, so I figured I would do both instead!
|Mystic Ark (SNES)|
|Release dates||JP: July 14, 1995|
Often seen as the unofficial sequel to The 7th Saga due to sharing the same developer and similar graphical style, Mystic Ark is an RPG developed exclusively for the Super Famicom. It was even going to be localized under the name 7th Saga II, but that never came to fruition. The game takes place across various worlds, with the group of heroes finding themselves aboard a mysterious ship called the Mystic Ark. With this vessel, they can travel through space and time to find different arks and uncover the true purpose behind this mysterious vessel. Each of these worlds has their own storyline, characters, and more to make them stand out from each other. Players of The 7th Saga will be very familiar with the combat system as well, with a behind-the-party camera and three characters on screen that can select from a variety of abilities and spells. It may be a bit too similar to The 7th Saga at times which is a fair complaint players have, especially when this is meant to be a stand-alone game that also should improve on some of the shortcomings that game has. That’s also why in the end the opinions of players is positive, but not outstandingly so; it’s a solid RPG, and that’s about it.
Yet again a set I am planning to play eventually so to avoid spoiling myself, I’m going to say that the usual progression- and collecting achievements are here, but there also are a bunch of boss-specific challenges you may want to watch out for. The game has 3 save slots available, so it is recommended to use them all when proceeding through the game, especially when doing a blind playthrough. Developer Alena also posted some other advice in the forum post, so be sure to check them out!
|Laplace no Ma | Demon of Laplace (SNES)|
|Release dates||JP: July 14, 1995|
Laplace’s demon is a study about causal determinism, that when someone knows the precise location and momentum of every atom in the universe, their past and future values for any given time are entailed. I directly copied that from the Wikipedia as that is far too much to handle for my little hamster brain, and I have no shame in admitting that. I also have no idea what it has to do with this game, so uh… why did I write that again? Anyhow, what we have on our hands here is a Lovecraftian Survival Horror RPG, not unlike the precursor to Resident Evil, Sweet Home. It takes place in a town called Newcam, modeled after the fictional city Arkham created by our favourite eldritch abomination writer H.P. Lovecraft. The player can explore this town, but the main attraction is the abandoned mansion at the outskirts, where the last owner would practice black magic and populated the mansion with all kinds of undead. Big red flag obviously, but some kids still decided to check it out and, unsurprisingly, ended up dead–aside from one, which means the protagonists now have a reason to venture into the mansion. This is done through RPG gameplay with the main character and three others being able to specialize in one of five classes like Detective and Journalist, as well as puzzles to unravel all the mysteries of this mansion. Its premise and atmosphere is definitely where Laplace no Ma shines the most as indicated by players, certainly making it a game worth checking out. It does not have a set yet, but that can certainly change with your set request!
I didn’t make it a secret that I really wasn’t a fan of what the Western side had to offer. And trust me, I checked every system that was active during this time, but there was nothing else worth talking about. Wild Arms being the winner of this month therefore shouldn’t really come as a surprise, and King Arthur and the Knights of Legend being the loser also is not too surprising. I was pleasantly surprised by the Japanese side though, even if it was another month dominated by the RPG genre. That’s just how it is with the early 90s; the Japanese gamers absolutely loved the genre. Not that I’m complaining though!
The dart did land on a year beyond the 2000s this time, though I will give no teaser this time as I need to research each system a bit more. Imagine making it convenient for ol’ Nep over here and just listing all release dates instead of only the first release date for like every system after 2000 am I right? Blegh. Anyway, see you next time!
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