When I go to the numerous stores in CarlMarksGuyopolis which sell Super Nintendo games, I usually have a pretty good idea of what each game is. Space Shooters and Platformers get a big ol' pass, because that's not what I'm about these days. On the other hand, I'd buy any Beat-em-Up
out there that I don't have, so I keep a sharp eye out for either of them.
However there's some games that I'm only vaguely familiar with -- I've read their names on the internet and remember enough about them to know they weren't exactly a space shooter, platformer, or traditional sports game...and if they're in the $5 price range, I'll often roll the dice and pick 'em up.
That's how I came to be in possession of...
Super Buster Bros.
What is it about, you say?
Well, if the North American cover art was to be believed...
...it'd be a M.C. Kids-style buddy movie, where a pair of cool cats run around having wacky adventures in a corporate-sponsor-friendly environment. Ok, so McDonalds isn't bankrolling THIS game, but I'm pretty sure the pudgy white kid is wearing pump-up sneakers, so you know Nike could be in on a piece of the action!
However there's nothing to worry about -- this is just a case of the North American regionalization team altering the Japanese cover art
Let's discuss what each version of the cover art portrays:
- The Japanese version shows us goofy kids with bright primary color baseball caps firing bizarre grappling hook guns at cartoonish spheres, while disturbing Anime-style animals flit by.
- While the American cover art features a pair of Radical dudes with Bodaciously-backwards baseball caps, Fashion-Accessorized outfits in Designer Colors, wearing Pump-Up Sneakers whilst firing Bad-Ass Looking Laser Weapons at some unseen menace just off-screen.
I wonder which is more accurate to the game's content? Well, keep a sharp eye out as we go on, and you may be able to figure out the answer!
So, what is this game about?
In Super Buster Bros, you play as a dorky kid (with no sun glasses, pump-up sneakers or bad-ass laser weapons) who fires bizarre grappling hook guns at cartoonish spheres, and are occasionally pestered by disturbing Anime-style animals that flit by. Let's take a look at some representative pictures:
As you can see from the pictures above, there are bouncing things; they drop from some height and have bounce around according to the game's pretty straight-forwards gravity, ricocheting off walls and floors. The only odd thing about the gravity is that they tend to keep most (all?) of their momentum with each bounce; but that's probably for the best: otherwise after a while they'd be rolling along the ground and you wouldn't be able to shoot them.
Speaking of shooting, you can fire your hook-and-rope contraption straight up in the air. If a tiny ball hits the hook, OR the rope it trails behind it, the tiny ball will be destroyed.
When you hit bigger spheres, they split into two smaller spheres, and so on and so forth until they've split into tiny spheres, which of course are destroyed when you shoot them.
Though there are two different game modes you can select from...
Tour Mode is pretty much "the normal game levels", while Panic Mode is more of a "have more and more spheres dumped on you on a featureless screen until you lose". As such, we'll pretty much stick to talking about Tour mode from here on out.
In Tour Mode, you play the role of "Boy in a Blue Backwards Baseball Cap, who runs around with a device which shoots an infinite number of grappling hooks skywards." Your goal in life is to travel to every country in the world* and destroy all of their beachballs or balloons or whatever.
*: or at least the 15 countries acknowledged by the Super Buster Bros. World Tour Committee. Actually, since one of the countries is called "The Silk Road", it's quite possible that these are just random regions rather than actual countries.
Dude, the Holy Roman Empire was a really long time ago, I think you can say 'Germany' without quotes by now.
Your character's motivation and back-story is rather under-developed, but I like to imagine that he is the son of the brilliant but mislead scientist who created the evil balloon-like "Rover" device from the television program, The Prisoner, and he's trying to free his family from his father's legacy of shame by destroying every remaining sentient bouncing sphere he can find.
"Bustin' Makes Me Feel Good" -- Ray Parker Jr.
So, Super Buster Bros
is basically an "action-y game with vague puzzle overtones," not unlike Lode Runner
. Though the basic mechanics are simpler to explain than Lode Runner
's, this game has a lot more bells and whistles (which is probably a good thing, seeing as how it came out about a decade later).
Let's explore further!
You get power-ups!
There are two common grappling-hook-gun power-ups, one rare gun power-up, and then a handful of minor power-ups and items.
The most basic, most common, and probably most useful power-up is Double Shot.
Double Shot lets your character summon "Bennie the Cab", so you can travel more quickly around Acme Studios and Toon Town, and you don't need to worry about being killed by traffic when you cross the street.
No, wait a minute, scratch that -- I was thinking of the Whistle from the NES clapboard-em-up, Who Framed Rodger Rabbit? I'll start again:
Double Shot lets you fire a second grappling hook before your first grappling hook has finished winding its way up the screen. This is very useful, for reasons that should be fairly obvious if you've ever played a video game before (and if you haven't, you should probably try one, they're kind of amusing*).
*: I'm of course excluding any game made after 1999 in this statement, as I can't personally vouch for whether or not they're amusing. I'm inclined to believe not, because it seems like hundreds of thousands of man-hours were devoted to graphic upgrades, leaving little time for any other innovation.
Real Grappling-Hook-to-the-top-of-the-screen T-shaped Thingie
Now we get into nomenclatural trouble: because THIS power-up gives you a REAL grappling-hook-style weapon: when you shoot it, it flies up and affixes itself to the first ceiling it reaches, refusing to budge until an evil balloon collides with it or its rope, or it overheats(?) and explodes(!?!) a few seconds later.
Of course that's all incredibly confusing, so I've just given up and used the terms "harpoon" or "grappling hook" interchangeably throughout this whole article (thus blowing my chance for a Pulitzer).
Even more unfortunately than that, this power-up is kind of the game's "sucker" weapon*. Sure, there may be some times when it comes in handy (for levels with low ceilings and where you're only being attacked from one side?), but most of the time if your shot misses, you'd rather not have to wait a few seconds to attack again.