Review | Screenshots

Run Saber on the SNES

YEAR: 1993
SYSTEM: Super Nintendo
PUBLISHER: Nintendo of America

I'll admit it. I was a Super Nintendo mark. It was the Mode 7 scaling that did it... watching Bowser swoop in at you from off-screen at the end of Super Mario World was just the absolute most stunning thing ever.

But I was a Strider mark more. So it pissed me off that Sega wouldn't share the rights to Strider with Nintendo. Of course, given the way Nintendo treated it's third-party distributors, that's to be expected. But in 1991, I didn't care about that. I was ten years old, and mad as hell that I couldn't play Strider on my brand-new $200 SNES.

Yes, the SNES *did* cost $200, back in the day.

Anyway, I never found out about Atlus' Run Saber while I actually had my SNES console. I discovered it about the same time I discovered emulators and ROMs, back in 1997. At first, I was skeptical. Why wouldn't I be? I'd played Journey From Darkness already.

Then I played the sucker. Man, what a trip! It had slide attacks, and wall-clinging, and spin-jumping, and the sword-swipes resembled Falchion's... PLUS the characters had a couple moves Hiryu didn't have, like a buzzsaw move you can pull off by pressing up + forward in the middle of a jump, or the jump-kick you could do by pressing down after you're in the air. AND THE SLIDING ATTACK ACTUALLY INFLICTED DAMAGE!!!

I was amazed. I downloaded the manual, and I read basically the following plot:

The year is 1994. From outer space comes a runaway planet, hurtling between the earth and the moon!

Wait, wrong review. Sorry.

In the year 2998, the Earth is on the verge of a complete ecological breakdown. Mankind's only hope for recovery is a last-resort technology developed by Dr. Gordon Bruford known as "The Earth Renaissance Project", this revolutionary program will clean up the Earth's surface and harness the universal energy source: Fusion.

To convert to fusion energy, the Earth's stratosphere would need to be subjected to lethal amounts of radioactive energy. To survive this period, mankind would have to leave the planet and put life on Earth in a one year cold sleep.

But something went terribly wrong. In an effort to gain total control of the Earth, Dr. Bruford secretly stayed behind and subjected himself to massive amounts of radiation. His genetic makeup was completely changed, he mutated himself into a powerful and evil being, completely erasing all signs of humanity. The new "Dr. Bruford" began cloning mutants to build an army to aid in fulfilling his evil plans.

The world's greatest scientists studied with horror the scanner pictures which were placed to monitor the Earth's progress. Conventional weaponry was deemed useless against Bruford and his army of mutant clones. Project Run Saber was soon commenced, the purpose: to create cyborg warriors with spectacular weaponry and abilities that would infiltrate Brufords's installations and take back the Earth.

Three prototypes were developed and sent to Earth. Unfortunately, Kurtz (Flair Saber), had a defective parasite defense apparatus and was captured by Bruford to be used against the rest of the Run Saber Force. Only two remain: Allen (Thunder Saber) and Sheena (Ice Saber). The future of mankind lays in their hands! Good luck Run Saber warriors.

So it's a bit on the Engrishy side. Who cares? This game is the closest thing the SNES had to a Strider game. Yeah, it's a clone. No, it's not as good as Cannon-Dancer. It's cool, and that's all that counts. And as I found out, it's way better than Journey From Darkness.

It's the little touches that make this game cool. Energy spurts from your limbs with every attack. Allen and Sheena's attack styles are vastly different. The special weapon animation rocks. And most importantly, it captures that all-too-elusive feeling of uncertainty. You never know what you're going to encounter next.

In that sense, it captured the spirit of the original Strider far better than Journey of Darkness could ever have hoped to.

This game kicks ass. But you don't have to take my word for it.

Review | Screenshots