(SNES / Super Nintendo)

Pop'n TwinBee (SNES / Super Nintendo)

Game Review

Pop'n TwinBee Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by Marcel van Duyn


It's not particularly well known outside Japan, but for a while TwinBee was one of Konami's main shoot 'em up series. A lot more cutesy than Gradius and the like, its colourful graphics and characters were its biggest appeal. A while back the original TwinBee was remade as a 3D Classic, but now here we have Pop'n Twinbee, one of the few titles to originally get a release outside Japan, and the last shoot 'em up in the series before it went down the spin-off route and eventually, sadly, dying completely.

If you've played the original title, then you should know what to expect here. Pop'n TwinBee is a vertical shoot 'em up with very colourful, cute graphics and fittingly whimsical music. While the ship you control, TwinBee (Or WinBee, if playing with two players) possesses the standard endless stream of shots like most shoot 'em ups, it's also possible to fire bombs to attack enemies on the ground, much like in Xevious.

The most unique feature, however, is the ability to punch enemies — your ship, which just so happens to be alive, possesses two arms, which it can use to punch nearby foes in the face, even hitting other enemies in the vicinity. While this move needs to be charged a tiny bit and doesn't come out until you release the button, rather than pressing it, it's possible to do so while firing normal shots, allowing you to keep a punch ready for whenever you need it most. Rounding out your arsenal is a nuke-like attack, which naturally comes in limited supply and hits all enemies on the screen.

While Gradius has its fairly well-known red, stationary capsules as powerups, pickups in TwinBee come in the form of bells in a variety of colours — always hidden in clouds, they can be shot several times to change their colour, which also changes what they'll give you when you finally decide to pick up, which can be anything from helper ships to a shield or a different weapon. It's slightly annoying that you might need to shoot a bell a lot to get the colour you want, but luckily they usually come in bunches you can pepper with fire, to hopefully get at least one of the desired varieties.

Although the original TwinBee game could get quite brutal, Pop'n TwinBee is, at least on its default difficulty, rather simple — your ship can take several hits before exploding, you can restore health by finding certain pickups, your shots cover a huge section of the screen, and your punch can even destroy enemy bullets caught in its radius. Thankfully for those seeking a challenge, the game's option menu has a difficulty slider with a whole load of settings, allowing you to make it as hard as you want it to be.

There are only 7 stages, but don't be fooled, each is quite long and can easily take close to 10 minutes. In an inversion of most games like this, the bosses tend to be pushovers, with each of them having easily avoidable attacks and a fairly small health pool, making them more of a breather than the level's challenging conclusion.

One fun thing about this one is that the two player mode is a bit more fully featured than those in other similar games — when you're playing with a friend there are a few co-op moves available, such as one that allows one player to throw the other around, as well as an option that makes enemies only target player 1, which is perfect if one player is less experienced than the other.

While the previous games in the series were already a joy to look at, naturally, the power of the SNES meant that the developers were able to have even more detailed graphics, making this entry even more beautiful. The music is also pretty good, fitting the action perfectly.


It's not a particularly hard game by default, but Pop'n TwinBee is a highly enjoyable, decently sized shoot 'em up that oozes charm and has a fair amount of replayability, mostly due to the many different difficulty settings and a fun two player mode. It's an often overlooked series, but give the TwinBee games a chance — chances are high you'll be hooked.

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User Comments (29)



AyeHaley said:

I was waiting on this review, downloading it now
It looks pretty colorful and the music is so happy!



unrandomsam said:

It is still the 50hz version. (At least playing on the Gamepad I cannot see how people couldn't notice it. Even Mario Kart playing the single player or mulitplayer I can notice it is not right).



SuperMikey said:

I really liked the difficulty of the first one because it had me and my cousin on our serious gamer modes when playing it but I'm wondering if the difficulty slider allows you to slide it up to original levels or higher...



R_Champ said:

Please come to the US T_T. I awakened a love for shoot-em-ups last gen, but now I don't have very many games to fulfill that love...



retro_player_22 said:

Awesome shooter, never knew why this game never made it to NA despite I had play this many times over in the past, this and Rainbow Bell Adventures.



Bass_X0 said:

I don't like the 80s games. They're too dated for me.

oh and 50hz? smh...
There doesn't exist a 60hz version in english.



StephenYap3 said:

I have the original TwinBee here (as a 3D Classics) and although it is quite fun, Pop'n TwinBee will never be topped.



MeWario said:

Definitely a great example of its era. I had never played it and yet was immediately fond of it because of its looks. Highly recommended!



GreatPlayer said:

It is a good game. There is not much improvement over the shooting game genre and thus, it is still one of the best shooting games.



Steviis_Father said:

Insane! This has finally arrived on the Wii U Virtual Console! Seeing it in glorious HD (and being able to play it using Off-TV play) is awesome! This game is pretty rare to find in cart form (both SFC & SNES), so you guys definitely should pick it up if you fancy cute-shmup fun with a friend!

OT # 1: Meanwhile, Konami has been waking up a little with bringing their back catalog to the Wii U... they currently own ALL Hudson Soft properties (Bomberman, Load Runner, Star Soldier, Adventure Island, etc.), so I do hope we get a Bomberman release real soon!! Getting the chance to play the old SNES 4-player games will be incredible on the Wii U!

OT # 2: And if the "powers that be" are listening... maybe Konami can share those classic Hudson characters as DLC for the Smash Bros games coming this year!! O_o



Starwolf_UK said:

The fact it is 50Hz completely puts me off the game (the fixed scrolling must look terrible on the gamepad as it judders to a halt 10 times a second). I think it is a critical point that deserves to be in the review (dpends on what the review should be, is it a review of the game itself or the package it is in, I personally think it should be the latter).



vicviper said:

They should have released the SFC version. I'm playing it now and everything about it, even the option screens, are fine because the game gives you visual representations of what the (few) Japanese words mean. I wouldn't waste my time with this as it's a slow shooter already... A real shame as it's a pretty good game and highlights Konami at their peak time in gaming history.

This is a shooter: it wouldn't have mattered if the Jap version was realised... Would it have been that hard to tac the PAL instructions onto it?

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