Super Nintendo, NES & GameBoy tomfoolery;

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The Super Nintendo: on several fronts, it had a library of games similar to the NES: platformers, home to a bunch of RPGs, larded with sports games (normal and not-so-normal). But it also had game types that would have been impossible on the NES: it was chock-full of mode-7 racing games (and lots of pointless mode-7 showing off, too).
But one thing it wasn't so good at was First-Person Shooters. There's a few straight-up FPS games/ports, and even some vehicle-type games that tried to span the gap between FPS and racing.
After playing a number of 3D SNES titles, I'd say the most successful first-person-like games are what I'd call proto-FPS:
They don't have the acceleration/deceleration issues of a real racing game, but you also don't have a lot of the depth of a FPS (multiple weapons, very different enemies, etc). Most notably, these games also don't implement the "strafe" feature -- that is to say, you can't run sideways while still facing (and thus shooting at) your enemy. That means your only "dodge" option involves turning in a slow "changing-facing-while-walking" arc. Given that the two games in question feature slow-moving (thus dodge-able) projectiles, the lack of strafing means the gunplay certainly doesn't work like true FPS.
So let's look at two proto-FPS: don't expect a full FPS and they're not for everyone, but I think there's fun to be found (but as always, take my opinions with a pinch of salt).
The Games
Faceball 2000 and Spectre
Both of them mention they take place in "virtual reality", to make up for the almost abstract blockiness of their graphics:
Faceball 2000 features smiley-faces shooting eachother in a maze,
whilst Spectre is hot virtual-tank-on-virtual-tank action.
Replace "Strafe" with...?
These games each have a somewhat unique (albeit inferior) mechanic which tries to make up for their lack of strafing:
Lots of walls
The maze-like levels of Faceball 2000 are rather claustrophic. Most passageways are barely wide enough for two smilies to pass eachother by. This means that you can avoid enemy fire by ducking around corners: either running headlong away from an unseen enemy, or pivoting backwards and to the right or left, to put a razor-thin wall between you and your opponent's slow-moving projectiles
"Jump" and "Hyperspace"
While Spectre features the occasional block or sphere,
But they're few and far between, and an unreliable way of avoiding enemy fire. Bullets can only reach the horizon, so when an enemy is out of sight, he's also out of range...this means that you can effectively dodge distant enemies by backpeddling wildly.
However neither of these are your primary way of outfighting the opposing tanks. For that, you turn to your tank's "Hyper Engine" (the "H:" bar which constantly fills up during gameplay):
At the cost of about 1/4th of the Hyper Energy, your tank jumps in your current direction of travel. While in mid-jump, you can't shoot, you can't be shot, and you can't change your trajectory. However, you CAN look wherever you want -- so you can scope out the scenery or line up a shot for when you land.
Alternately you can spend 1/2 of your Hyper Energy to do a "Hyperspace" warp, which randomly(?) locates you somewhere else on the map -- and since the map is a not-overly-huge plane which loops around, you don't have to worry about getting too far off track.
Not quite as First-Person Shooter-y as Faceball 2000's use of cover, but not too dissimilar from Asteroids and it's defensive warp feature: they share the same idea: "I'll die if I stay here, so ANYWHERE else on the map is better."
1 Player Game Objectives
Kill Enemies OR Find Exit
Faceball 2000 has two game choices: "Cyberzone" and "Arena". In one of them, you have to kill a set number of enemies in a small enclosed maze before the level's exit opens. In the other, you explore a maze, killing enemies, triggering walls to open, and generally looking for the way out.
Both games progress from level to level, with new maps and more/harder enemies as you proceed.
Capture (all the) Flags
Every 1-Player level in Spectre involves grabbing all 4 flags, then you're warped to the next level.
There's a much smaller amount of "level design" in Spectre's levels: the number and kinds of enemies, the random blocks that provide minimal cover, and the positioning of the flags/ammo-replenishers/traps.
1 Player Replayability/Variety?
Gameplay Modes, Different Maps, Power-Ups
As mentioned above, there's two different 1-player games, and as you progress, you fight different enemies on different maps. But you can also find power-ups, which are usually temporary (invisibility, extra protection, replenish hitpoints) but sometimes grant perminant boosts (speed-up, health-up, firing-rate up).
Overall, if you can get around the fact that you only have one weapon (and the back of your bullets hide most of your field of vision for a second after you shoot them), there's a fair amount of depth.
Pick (or customize) your Tank
You can min/max your stats to a ridiculous degree, but the extremes are basically "soak up a lot of damage (at the cost of speed)" or "go extremely fast (at the cost of shields)."
A heavily-shielded tank can stand and fight, often going through most of the level before it has to gather some of the green "repair shields/reload ammo" recharges.
An overly-speedy tank can try to ignore the enemies, dashing around them to grab flags and doing long gliding jumps to escape afterwards.
The third factor -- Ammo -- can only go up to a maximum of 5 (rather than 9 for Shields and Speed), and generally even 3 is plenty: you get 10 standard green bullets per Ammo point. You can also fire "Grenades", which fly the same as green bullets, but are red, deplete your ammo as much as 10 green bullets, and do x3 the damage. Once you start seeing Yellow and Green tanks (which take 2 and 3 hits), you'll want to start burning your ammo with grenades, because it's very hard to exchange fire without taking a few hits yourself.
2 Player Options
Oddly enough, both games have more Multiplayer options than single player, as if foreshadowing the future of FPS:
Two Modes, Co-Op or Competative, Many Maps
You and a friend can fight eachother in the Arena, or cooperate to blast a set number of enemies -- you can choose from a number of multiplayer maps, and you can even choose WHICH enemies you want to stock the map with.
Four Games!
While Spectre only has one game for 1-Player, there's 4 separate modes that TWO players can engage in -- fighting eachother, capturing eachother's flags, mixed doubles (you and a computer tank fight Player 2 and a computer tank), or two-of-you vs two-computer tanks.
Given how much of the screen is dedicated to the 3D view, it's actually kind of impressive that it supports split-screen battling.
In conclusion...
Faceball 2000 might have more complexity and lasting appeal, but Spectre's minimalism means you can have 2-3 distinct gameplay experiences (speed, strength, a blend). As mentioned above, unlike most first-person SNES games, it dedicates basically the entire screen to your 3D view -- I guess that's what you get when there's little terrain, not many enemies at once, and a checkered floor pattern.
Who would have thought that Nintendo Innovation would involve 3D and Checkered Ground?
— carlmarksguy, 2014-05-30
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