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Old 02-11-2003, 12:17 PM   #71
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Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 12,550
Here's two from Hal Laboratory, before Nintendo acquired them

HyperZone - Super Nintendo - Rating 6
Hal is of course known for Kirby titles, but they were also among the first pioneers on the SNES platform, as exemplified by HyperZone - the first SNES title to use dual-layered Mode 7, meaning both on top and on the bottom of the screen at once. Most of you probably don't even know what this game is. In fact, if not for my brother buying it, I myself may never have known it.
First things first, this game is rather easy and there's a reason for that - this game isn't as much a game as it is a showcasing of the SNES capabilities. However, once you get past that fact the game is definitely fun. You fly around in 3D, shooting at whatever may come and avoiding getting hit or going out of bounds. You are given a power meter which you can replenish by flying through the proper energy fields (just like F-Zero). The game's graphics look very nice, with the last stage in particular being very impressive because of the cool effect that is demonstrated. The enemies are basic and most do not present a challenge, though a few of the enemies later on can be a little difficult. The bosses are rather easy as well and, unfortunately, they don't stand out like the bosses in Space Harrier do. Your ship changes form as you progress through stages and decreases the amount of time it takes to charge up a big shot, as well as speedier maneuverability.
Did you know that in Japan Hal had schools where they taught game programming and design (I don't know if they still do), and that over 50% of their cirriculum was dedicated to sound and music? Quite interesting fact, at least to me. As you can imagine, the sound and music is highly impressive (though not terribly well-composed like Arcana which I review below). Even though this is a 1st generation title for SNES, HyperZone exhibits some of the best sound engineering of any title for SNES, with every sound and insturment crystal clear as it should be (in fact, although some may feel some of the latter day titles for SNES like Seiken Densetsu 3 are the best engineered, I think HyperZone is actually better, at least technically). To access the sound test, just hold L and R buttons simultaneously at the title screen and press start.
This game is 8 stages and isn't very long or challenging, but what's here is fun (and quite interesting in design). It should be cheap enough on eBay or wherever, although it may be hard to come by. So if you pay $10 for it, it's definitely worth it.

Here, take a look at the game ~ and decide for yourself what you think. Read this guy's review for a more comprehensive description of the game.

Arcana - Super Nintendo - Rating 7
Now presenting THE single most overlooked RPG for SNES, or perhaps any system. Arcana is a GREAT RPG that never got the attention it deserved. Similar to Shining in the Darkness for Genesis, the game's layout is in a first-person perspective, and every character and enemy is displayed in cards except for shop keepers and such. It's a unique style for a game, to be sure, but one which Hal uses to the fullest and in the best ways. Your party consists of the main character Rooks, an elemental (you start with Sylph - the Wind Spirit, and gather up 3 more as the game progresses: fire, water and earth), and the other 2 spaces will contain different characters who join Rooks during the game. The game is seperated into 5 chapters, and is almost entirely linear. You start in a town, go to a dungeon, beat the dungeon and proceed through woods (perhaps), then it's on to the next town and dungeon, etc. and you never go back to previous towns/dungeons. The story is good but the game isn't long enough for you to really understand too much about the characters. However, the presentation is very impressive (better than the Final Fantasy titles on SNES and, arguably, Chono Trigger). It's not a long RPG (about 15-20 hours long) and I wish it was longer/open ended because the game is so fun and engrossing while it lasts.
There is a good amount of enemies and bosses in the game, all of which are sprites within (you guessed it) cards, and they animate as well, although it's nothing too impressive (the entire game is 8-MEGS; the same amount as Final Fantasy II). Sometimes there is around 10 enemies you're fighting with at once! Parts of the game are challenging while others are quite easy. Every area and all 5 dungeons has a map which fills itself in as you progress through, and some dungeons, especially later, are multi-part - rather long, with a lot of different enemy types to keep you engaged.
Arcana's music is extremely awesome and is among the very best composed in any RPG. It is among the highest quality sound wise for SNES -- superior technically to even Final Fantasy 3 (not lying). Whether or not you agree, I think overall Arcana has superior songs in battle and otherwise to most Final Fantasy music. Listen to it yourself ~ here's the sound test - Hold L and R simultaneously and press B at the title screen.
I recommend this game to everybody that loves RPGs. It's fun, interesting, engaging, challenging and amongst the highest quality available for SNES. It's hard to come by and usually goes for $15-25 on eBay. Pick a copy up if you can.
There's even a chapter select code! Here it is - At the title screen press down, select, select, X, Y, select, select, L, R, select, select, left, right, up, and then press A for Chapter 2, B for chapter 3, X for Chapter 4, or Y for Chapter 5.

Here's another review with photos and more info from the same site as the above one for HyperZone and even includes MIDI samples of some of the songs ~

And of course, I shall return....

Last edited by Icarus4578; 10-09-2004 at 01:14 AM.
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