The Twisted Tales of Spike McFang (Super Nintendo)

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The vampire kingdom, the zombie kingdom, and the… human(?) kingdom have lived in peace for a long damn time. The Zombie lord Von Hessler has broken this peace, declaring war on both of the other kingdoms. No one can figure out why he’s invading nor can they figure how he’s winning! The vampire lord and lady send their son, Spike McFang, to adventurer camp — you know, where you send the kids for the summer– to get ready for the impending invasion.  When Spike returns his family’s castle has been conquered and he won’t take that lying down. Join spike as he liberates the conquered kingdoms, walks at an awkward pace, spins, and uses magical cards to thwart his enemies.

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This fairy riding on a tooth is the instructor of Adventurer Camp. No, it doesn’t make sense in context.

History

The Twisted Tales of Spike McFang was developed by Bullet Proof Software. A company most known for porting Tetris a dozen goddam times — and making the slow, awkward, barf-fest known as Faceball 2000 (but that’s for another day). This game had small differences between the US and Japanese releases. For example Spike no longer fully heals upon leveling up and monsters have more hit points, making the game longer by forcing the player to backtrack and use more items. The shopkeeper’s visual design was also changed.

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From a cute girl to a mummy squid thing.

The Twisted Tales of Spike McFang was released in June of 1994. It’s competition was Super Metroid (SNES), Sonic the Hedgehog (Sega Genesis), and Final Fantasy VI (SNES).

Experiences

This game was the one that got away for me. I rented it once when I was a young and impressionable child and loved it — but you know… kids are stupid. I got stuck before I finished the first chapter but that just made me want to beat it more. There was only one word that I remembered from the title, ‘Twist’. Before the internet’s day it was hard to find but as the compilation of useless information grew in size I was able to find the game at last, play it, and finish it. It all went downhill from there.

Gameplay

The Twisted Tales of Spike McFang consists of a Vampire in a blue onesie and a top hat on an isometric plane jumping around and beating up sentient onions and other weird monsters. He can attack by throwing his hat and spinning his cape — but if he spins too man times he’ll lose his balance. Spike also explores dungeons avoiding traps and searching for keys — Legend of Zelda style. Spike can also buy and find cards that can do all sorts of stuff like healing him or helping him deal more damage.

The Gush

The music is pretty good. It’s memorable enough that I still have a few of the tunes rattling around in my noggin — I still remember the Batland theme. The boss theme always got me pumped and ready to dish out some damage — whether that was strictly possible or not.

I don’t know why the world is populated by golems with Easter island heads but I like it. It certainly doesn’t hurt that they’re almost always around to help.

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I will admit that I’m a little weirded out by their stony stares.

The Kvetch

I just figured out that there’s a two player mode. It’s only available if Spike has a companion with him, which is only during certain parts of the game. But it’s only unlocked BY PUTTING IN A SECRET FUCKING CODE! It’s not in the manual, no one knew it when I was growing up, no one had even heard of this game. You’ve basically got to buy a cheat book to play with a friend in this game.

Spike’s main attack is his cape spin. It’s incredibly cool but totally impractical. It immobilizes Spike so it’s more than likely that the bosses –as they jump nimbly-bimbly– will knock his fangs out. Spike’s hat throw also immobilizes him but has the benefit of attacking from a range.

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That white flash there is the total range of the cape.

The plot, that which it exists, is weak as hell. I’m not really rooting for anyone and the only reason I’m willing to play Spike is because he’s a vampire wearing a top hat and a blue onesie.

When you get to the end of the game you’d best have everything you need because there is no shop and no going back. To boot, the final boss is a tough sonovabitch which almost requires cards to defeat so if you used them all reaching him then you’re in for a tough fight. A fight so tough that I restarted the game and stockpiled cards instead of facing him.

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The final area is also a jungle maze. If you go the wrong way you get sent back to the beginning.

Spike’s walking speed and jumping speed are so abysmally slow that you’re probably not going to be able to get out of the way enemy attacks.

There’s a sort of invisible experience point system, when Spike vanquishes an enemy he gets XP and can level up. But all leveling does is increase Spike’s health and damage. With no other features it just leads to a lot of grinding because you gotta stay ahead of the curve.

The Verdict

This game is lame overall. The gameplay is weak, the design promotes unfair difficulty, and the story is nonexistant. I was totally nostalgia blind when I went back to it and I was taken aback at how simple and hollow the experience was. This game is at the same time too short and too long. There’s not enough exporation of the world and at the same time I’m so glad when it’s over. Avoid The Twisted Tales of Spike McFang.

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