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The Twisted Tales of Spike McFang (SNES) artwork

The Twisted Tales of Spike McFang (SNES) review

"Where's the cream filling?"

I have heard about Spike McFang long ago, and being that it was not a game which was prominently advertised like the likes of Mario and Sonic, it was one of those games which just appeared and went by away into limbo like many others I never got the chance to experience during the 16-bit era of gaming. Having it played it recently I can state that while it is a fun, amusing title, it has a lot of reason why it may not be remembered as other SNES titles overall.

The game starts with the titular character visiting the training grounds to become a warrior of his people when calamity strikes. Camellia, one of Spike's companions alerts him that her kingdom is under attack and requests his help. Spike declines explaining that he must train to become more adept at battle, something that Camellia does not take well and departs. After Spike passes the training segment of the game he is informed that his own castle is under attack by forces being led by Von Hesler who also happened to had invaded Camellia’s kingdom. He also finds out his parents were captured within his own castle therefore he sets on to help free them and stop Von Hesler's invasion as well.

The game features cute, chibified sprites of characters representing monsters and demons, all who at first glance, do not seem threatening enough until your health meter depletes away by their vicious attacks. Spike's means of offense includes tossing his magical hat at enemies, which can be upgraded at shops, and his patented cape spinning attack, which if not careful, can make him dizzy and vulnerable to attacks. Spike also sports a short, but efficient jump which the player must master for there are various instances where jumping is a skill needed for survival. Other means of attack include magical cards which can be obtained at shops for health replenishment as well. Some cards can be used to avoid enemies while others enhance game play, such as commanding your companion to directly attack enemies and bosses for short periods of time.

For unsuspecting gamers and first timers, Spike McFang would seem like a clone of The Legend of Zelda, where you explore in various parts of the game and find secrets throughout. However this is pretty much not the case. There is a definite strategy to win over this title, and it includes proper preparation to be ready for the final battle. Spike McFang is pretty short in comparison to other games of its genre, and chances are that if you are impatient enough to breeze through it, you might not be able to beat the last boss overall. The best bet would be that you start all over from the very beginning and level up properly to be prepared for the final battle, as well as keeping a substantial stock of health and attack cards on your deck for a greater chance of beating the game.

The game does not offer much in item finding for there is practically none. You simply go through each segment of the game defeating enemies and leveling up to confront a difficult boss at the end. Chances are that your first boss battle will be more than enough to toss your controller at the screen or at least, turning off the game. Bosses here are *very* tough and would often replenish their entire health just as you are about to defeat them, something that comes at a surprise and disdain when you are on your last fraction of health and no chance on succeeding.

Shops only offer hat upgrades and it is highly recommended that you purchase the strongest hat available as soon as you can. Cards can be purchased quite cheap, but they come out at random. If you get powerful magical cards then it is advised that you keep them in stock well into the last legs of the game, where no shops are available and you must confront the last boss battles with what you have. Companions are switched automatically during the game's events and act on their own unless you use a special card that commands them to focus on an enemy adding damage to defeat them. Again, this would be more effective if you save said cards for boss battles.

One aspect of the game is that enemies re-spawn whenever you return to their screen of appearance. This can help in acquiring more coins to save and purchase cards back at shops, and upgrading your hat. It also helps on gaining more experience points to advance to the next level and make it easier in completing chapters in the game to move forward.

The game is paired with colorful graphics and a catchy soundtrack, but it suffers from being too simple in its execution and very short. The entire adventure can be played in less than two hours should you decide to complete it without breaks and can leave you with a sense of unfulfillment. Simply put, Spike McFang is short but sweet in all sense of the word. The saving grace is its incredible spike of difficulty that shows between battles, and the strategic value that comes in preparing yourself for the final battle, something that seems force all the same time.

The game can be fun for one play through then most likely would return to the shelf unless you would like to relive the adventure. Being that the path is pretty basic, this would not be the case most of the time. I really wish that the game offered more in the way of item finding and secrets, along with puzzles and prolonged game play. If the game makes you feel nostalgic enough to collect it, then my guess is this would be the only reason to do so.
Otherwise a quick play through is about the only thing that it truly offers.


CptRetroBlue's avatar
Community review by CptRetroBlue (December 27, 2018)

Cpt. Retro likes old school gaming the most and grew up playing Arcade games in Mexico. He also loves talking about retrogaming.

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