The retro gaming world came to a halt on Sunday when Chrono Moogle and Dieter von Laser released this game to the unsuspecting Super Nintendo-loving crowd. Understandably only one person in the world will be able to play Super Boss Gaiden on the SNES Playstation prototype, but for the rest of us the regular Super Nintendo ROM version will suffice. A stellar feat for sure, but is it a good game?
It is yet another lovely day of industry domination at Sony's HQ when top executives march into the titular Boss room to deliver some dire news: The very last SNES Playstation prototype has fallen in the hands of the public and homebrew enthusiasts have already managed to fully emulate the system. This represents a great shame for the Boss who had decades ago ordered the destruction of every single prototype. We have a feeling the Boss has not been paying attention to his yoga and meditation classes, because he promptly switches to rampage mode and proceeds to punch, kick and throw everything in Sony's headquarters, including employees and Sony mascots.
Dieter Lazer's game engine takes care of all the regular tropes one would expect from a SNES platform game, with solid hit detection and tight controls keeping the action as frantic as possible. In fact, the game almost feels more like a Commodore Amiga title while the lovely chiptune music takes us back to Commodore 64-style SID shenanigans; it's comforting to know that the spirit of the European platformer is being kept alive and well in 2016. The sprite work is a nice homage/remix of classic Kunio NES outings with some enemies taking familiar shapes that would make our colleagues at Push Square throw a tantrum, watching us Punch! Kick! PaRappa or sacking a Sack Boy. The backgrounds too are very clean and offer the variety one would expect from a corporate building.
Despite is apparent advanced age, the Boss is truly a force of nature. He can dash, slide, jump, double jump, punch, uppercut, grab and throw anything that is not nailed to the floor, including bystanding employees. The controls are surprisingly tight with a classic three button scheme taking care of everything: B jumps, A strikes and Y grabs. Progression through Sony's HQ is made by careful platforming, slight puzzle solving, finding the correct way to take care of particular enemies, the odd (literal) boss fight and usually just causing as much chaos as possible to keep the Boss heart rate as high as possible (which also works as a energy bar). There are some clever ideas and level design worth noting, but we will leave these for you to discover. Speaking of discoveries, the team added a few unlockable secrets to rewards the most dedicated of players and the game even uses game saves to keep your unlock progress. Constant humorous dialogues between the executives (whom you will eventually meet as enemy boss fights) presented in comic book-style balloons add to the charm of the package.
The only real negative aspect is how short the whole experience is, making it possible to finish the whole game from fifteen to twenty minutes. With the insane amount of combo potential, it would have been nice that the game would acknowledge our efforts with an onscreen combo counter. These issues is something we hope the team takes care of in a sequel.
Super Boss Gaiden is short, sweet, humorous and the most insanely meta fifteen minutes you can possibly spend on your SNES - plus you can't argue with that lovely price point of zero coins. Casual players will scratch their heads for a bit until they figure out how to tackle certain enemies while hardcore ones will replay this over and over in order to get that mythical "S" rank and unlock all the games secrets. Even more surprising and definitely a point worth observing: there is more gameplay in this homebrew effort from a two-man team than some current entries showing up on the Wii U and 3DS eShops.