In a recent conversation with the other members of the Pack, I wondered why no other company has ever tried to produce as successful a mash-up of characters and properties as the Super Smash Brothers series.Â (Astute readers are sure to identify the Japan-only PS2 game Dream Mix Fighters TV Megamix, which featured the likes of Optimus Prime, Master Higgins from Adventure Island and Solid Snake, all packed into a technicolor nightmare…to which I respond: it’s only a game if someone actually plays it.)
Sure you can point your finger at the many fighting games that follow this formula and declare me wrong – Capcom vs. SNK, Marvel vs. Capcom, even Namco X Capcom, etc.Â But these are games where the characters clearly have something that unites them in the terms of game logic: Ryu vs. Wolverine seems a much likelier fight than Pac-Man vs. Dig-Dug, especially since the former pairing already has character sprites and moves for the purpose.Â The adaptation of characters who have nothing to do with fighting games to the genre is one of the most exciting and creative aspects of Smash Bros
Mostly for the benefit of poking fun at the shitty companies and terrible games I fondly remember from my youth, I’ve compiled this thought experiment of a game.Â Gentlemen, I present Sunsoft vs. Data East.
Mmm, what a gorgeous title screen!Â Let’s see which characters from each beloved company made the cut.
In the red corner, we have Data East. Chances are good that if you grew up playing Nintendo and Super Nintendo games, you played at least one Data East title. Unfortunately, most of them were pretty turdy compared to classics companies like Nintendo, Capcom and Konami were pumping out. Here are the characters who will be fighting for team D.E. – sorry if your ‘favorite’ didn’t make the cut!
The Eponymous Bad Dude from the title screen of Bad Dudes.
Yeah, I know he wasn’t actually one of the playable characters, but I guarantee more people remember this Duke Nukem-lookin’ bad ass than any of the other cookie-cutter characters in the game.Â His main attacks consist mostly of taunting and eyebrow furrowing, the bottom half of his body never appearing on the screen.
The Chef (Peter Pepper) from BurgerTime.
Okay, I take back some earlier slander about Data East – BurgerTime was a pretty good game. The fast-paced gameplay of assembling burgers and avoiding sentient murderous weiners, lemons and fried eggs prepared an entire generation of youth for jobs in the food service industry. Peter Pepper comes equipped with his pepper power-up, but it can only be used a limited number of times per round.
Hev E. Baryl from Heavy Barrel.
Not much to say about Heavy Barrel other than that it was the poor man’s Ikari Warriors. I couldn’t find the name of this guy, so I used my superior intellect to come up with the name listed above. Hev comes complete with two button functions – “shoot” and “don’t shoot.”
Joe & Mac from Joe & Mac: Caveman Ninjas.
I don’t care what anyone says – Joe & Mac was a sweet SNES game. Not only do you fight dinosaurs with all manner of “caveman ninja” weapons like a club, fire, bones, boomerangs and the wheel itself; you also do battle with the Dark Lord Satan as the final boss inside the ribcage of a living T-Rex to rescue your brigade of fine-ass Caveman Honeys. I’m serious! Clearly an attempt to tie together and explain Christian mythos with the fossil record on Earth. This might also be the game that started the trend of the two player characters fighting at the end of each level they complete, with the winner receiving a kiss from a Cavewoman that restores health.
Karnov from Karnov.
This guy is the real deal. Everyone knows that this was pretty much the ultimate NES game. It’s obvious that Super Mario Bros. was just a palette-swap of Karnov. Apparently Karnov could breath fire, but mostly I just remember the game revolving around climbing ladders and wearing child motorcycle helmet outside the water thanks to an obscure and poorly explained item equip method. It’s no question that Karnov would beat the piss out of any other character listed here – the only match for him being of course, Zangief – but if you need further proof, here’s a solid fact unearthed from the history books: “He was originally based on a middle-ages legend, Karnov the Firespitter. According to the myth, Scottish villagers would call forth Karnov to chase gypsies from the area. The legend stated that Karnov would use his fire breath to burn gypsy wagons and eat their babies as food.”Â AWESOME.
Hook Pinball Machine from Real Life.
Â Data East also manufactured a lot of great pinball machines back in the day, including Jurassic Park, Back to the Future, The Last Action Hero and The Simpsons. In an unprecedented first, the entire Hook pinball machine appears as a playable character in Data East vs. Sunsoft. Hook Pinball is only selectable if a Wii Remote is active while the game is being played, with the only available attack being “Tilt.”
A fearsome lineup to be sure!Â Let’s see what awaits in the Sunsoft corner of the ring.Â I think you’ll be surprised at some of the titles Sunsoft had the rights to at some points in time…
Aero the Acro-Bat from Aero the Acro-Bat.
Following hot on the heels of the ‘mascot with an attitude’ trend of the 16-bit consoles, Aero the Acro-Bat’s corpse now rots in a garbage dump with the likes of Bubsy the Bobcat, Awesome Possum, Zero the Kamikaze Squirrel, Izzy of Izzy’s Quest for the Olympic Gold,Â Gex, Crash Bandicoot, Punky Skunk, Wally Bear and the No! Gang, Rocky Rodent, *take a breath at this point, we’re not done yet*, Blinx the Time Sweeper, Ty the Tasmanian Tiger and Socket (a Genesis game featuring a duck with an electric plug coming out of his ass). Luckily, Aero has been revived to compete in the grand spectacle that is Data East vs. Sunsoft!
SOPHIA THE 3rd from Blaster Master.
I’m just as surprised as you are that this chubby, pink little tank actually has a name. I thought it was the titular “Blaster Master”Anyway, if you recall, the pilot is named Jason, and he is searching for his pet frog.Â Combining side-scrolling shooting, overhead room maze exploration, huge bosses and a catchy soundtrack, Blaster Master is a game I legitimately think was somewhat ahead of it’s time.Â I would love to see an HD update of the original. Sunsoft made a terrible Playstation title with the Blaster Master name, but hit none of the aspects that made the first so satisfying.
Uncle Fester from Fester’s Quest.
You know your parents didn’t love you if you owned a copy of this game as a kid. Featuring the world’s ugliest box art, chunkiest sprites, slowest character movement, impossible mazes and infinitely respawning enemies that took upwards of 40 hits to kill, Fester’s Quest would have made even Sartre reconsider his idea of what Hell truly is.Â If you meet someone who claims to have beaten this game, run! This person is either a pathological liar or a murderous robot from the future. Fester appears in Data East vs. Sunsoft with his trademark green splotch-shooting blunderbuss. You know, just like in the TV series.
Fun fact: Fester’s Quest runs on the same overhead-shooting engine as Blaster Master!
Male Human from Final Fantasy Legend III.
Despite having absolutely nothing to do with the other Final Fantasy games, the Legend series was solid for Game Boy owners looking for a portable RPG fix.Â Legend III in particular had some kooky ideas that have since not been repeated in any game to date, among them the option to consume meat or robot parts scavenged from fallen enemies in order to transform your characters into completely random monsters or cyborgs with the same abilities as whatever enemies they become.Â The meat from Legend III appears as an item in Data East vs. Sunsoft during battles, transforming Male Human into other characters at random.
That little falling dude from the cover of Myst. He’s right above the title! You can’t miss him!
Yeah, OK, I’m really scraping the bottom of the barrel here. Apparently Sunsoft was responsible for the Sega Saturn version of Myst. I don’t know. Would you rather play as some kind of knob or geometric shape? Perhaps some Brian-Eno-inspired ambient noise? I didn’t think so. We’ll call this guy “Mystbert” and move on with our lives.
That Car from Spy Hunter.
I’m running out of ideas. Sunsoft really didn’t release that many memorable games. I guess you could get excited that Spy Hunter featured the same music as “The Blues Brothers,” but other than that, there’s not much here to write home about. Holy shit, did you know that John Woo was making a Spy Hunter movie for awhile?
Mudman from World Heroes.
World Heroes was officially made by ADK, but Sunsoft was responsible for the Super Nintendo port, which is how I’m justifying putting Mudman in the roster. You have to hand it to a game that sets out to not only clone Street Fighter II, but make the characters even more racist. ‘Ol Muddy hails from Papua New Guinea and has a variety of blue spirit summoning attacks. World Heroes also featured mad monk Rasputin, a pirate, a viking and an American football player who throws “ghost” footballs…actually, that’s really sweet. I hope we get a Street Fighter IV-esque remake of this sometime soon.