Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Ultraman: Redemption of a Forgotten Cart

I’m honestly not sure why Bandai’s first generation Super NES game, Ultraman: Towards the Future is so universally despised. The graphics are serviceable if not majestic like some of the early SNES offerings like ActRaiser, Super Castlevania IV and F-Zero. The music fared much better. It was based directly on the series that spawned the game, and some tracks still rock my socks nearly 20 years later.

The gameplay was hardly what I’d have called groundbreaking, but that doesn’t stop people from salivating over the newest Madden game every year. It’s up to the player to take control of Japanese juggernaut Ultraman and slug it out with nine of the toughest baddies Earth, or any other planet, has ever seen. One on one a la Street Fighter II, Ultraman tangles with the galactic giants until either he or they fall. After using a final shot of his Burning Plasma super move to finish off his adversary, Ultraman leaps into the sky towards his next challenge with a battle cry that sounds kind of like he’s sick to his stomach. Then again, maybe I would be sick too if I just blew up a 58,000 ton brain-creature named Gudis and had to clean his guts off my boots.

Nice graphics, awesome sound and passable gameplay all adds up to a decent game, right? So why does Ultraman: Towards the Future land sliver-face first onto every half-assed YouTube list of the worst games of all time? I think after playing masterpieces like Super Mario World, a lot of people were expecting more out of Nintendo’s classy gray box than what could have been an NES game with enhanced audiovisuals. Also, the Ultraman license has always been lukewarm in the United States, so a lot of gamers unfamiliar with the content probably dismissed Bandai’s SNES offering without a second thought.

It’s no Chrono Trigger, but Ultraman: Towards the Future deserves a hell of a lot more credit that it’s received in the last two decades. If you’re looking for a respectable way to kill 45 minutes or so, take Ultraman out for a spin.

PRO TIP: When the monster’s lifebar says “Finish,” shoot him with a level 4 special move to kill him off. That little bit of information, if it had been properly distributed, might have saved more than a few Ultraman carts from the trash heap.

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