I intended for this review to drop Halloween night 2020. Unfortunately I got sick around that time and couldn’t finish my playthrough to do the review. After many moons of BSing later, I finally mustered up the will to finish playing Twisted Tales of Spike McFang and to give my honest opinion on it. So here we go.
The hero of this story is a junior magician and young vampire in training named Spike. He is also the prince of Dracuman island. The story begins as Spike travels with his mentor Professor Steam to Fighter Island. The purpose here is to improve his fighting techniques. Before he can begin his training though, his friend, Camelia, frantically comes to him to deliver devastating news. General Von Hesler, one of the 3 island leaders of Vladamasco (Spike’s Father Dracuman and Vampra being the other 2), has taken over all 3 territories and has kidnapped the other island leaders. After Spike gets finished with his training, it’s up to him, Camelia (daughter of Vampra) and Rudy (son of Von Hesler) to restore peace and balance back to Vladmasco!
If I had to describe Spike McFang in one word, it would be grindy. There’s no difficulty setting, but how hard the game is depends on your current level. Before I played, I heard from other sources that this was an easy game. Once I started playing however, I was thinking what were those people smoking?? Initially I thought Spike McFang was incredibly difficult and frustrating. I tipped the boiling point at the first real boss of the game, Felina. I died about 15 times trying to beat her and I gave up on the game for awhile.
As it turns out leveling up is absolutely crucial in this game. Another important aspect of success is stocking up on as many tomato juice cards as the game will allow you to carry. Spike can buy various cards from the magical card shop that do different things. For example the transport card will make Spike magically teleport to Professor Steam who is usually in town by a save point. There’s a companion card that powers up Spike’s side-kick temporarily. There are other cards you can purchase as well, but I didn’t use them very often. The exception to this are the tomato juice and big tomato cards found in the general store. The tomato juice card will restore a decent amount of your energy and the big tomato card will restore a lot of energy. Repeat, stock up on these!
Spike’s main weapons though are his hat and cape. Tapping the Y button makes your protagonist spin around and use his cape to damage enemies in his vicinity. Unfortunately if you spin for too long, Spike will get dizzy and is unable to be controlled for a few seconds. This leaves him open for attack. Holding the Y button will make Spike’s hat float above his head and once you let go of Y, he will shoot the hat in the direction he is facing. Better hats can be purchased at the general store. And you will need to upgrade them to better your chances of beating the game!
There are six areas with 3 dungeons to fight and explore in. Between the action there are 3 villages throughout the game to buy new hats and cards. Sometimes Spike will have one of his friends accompany him on his missions. They will help him attack enemies, but are mostly useless. Camelia and Rudy are computer-controlled only, a 2nd player can’t hop in.
The game has a battery back-up. You just need to save at a Stone Head located in town or in the dungeons and your progress will be preserved.
The Twisted Tales of Spike McFang makes good use of the Super NES controller. There’s dedicated buttons for attacking, jumping, using cards and shuffling through your current selection of cards.
Graphics are simple, cartoony and functional. They do the job, but aren’t breathtaking or stellar. They do remind me somewhat of The Legend of Zelda A Link to the Past’s graphics, but I think A Link to the Past did a better job overall in this department. I would be re-miss in not mentioning the Ninja Gaiden-like cutscenes throughout the game. They can’t touch the scale of epicness that is the Ninja Gaiden NES series, but I appreciated their presence. They are more like a nicely drawn manga.
The music isn’t memorable. In fact it might get kind of grating when you’re grinding in the same locale for a couple of hours! The sound effects don’t stand out either, but what’s there serves its intended purpose.
At the end of the day, The Twisted Tales of Spike McFang is about grinding. I had to bunker down and commit almost 2 hours to just leveling up and getting loot to purchase hats and tomato cards. The game is just too difficult otherwise. I reached level 16 and decimated the boss in Von Hesler’s Jungle and the final boss was a breeze too. I ended up finishing the game in a little under 6 hours. 2 of those hours was straight-up non-stop grinding. I couldn’t believe that I spent so little time on this action-rpg. It felt like an eternity.
The Twisted Tales of Spike McFang doesn’t belong in the great pantheon of Super Nintendo action-rpgs, but is a serviceable experience that’s at least worth one playthrough for the corny humor and unique cape and hat attack mechanics.
Three Stars out of Five.
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