This week, I’m reviewing the Super Scope game, Battle Clash. The games I’ve reviewed so far for this peripheral have mostly been disappointing, but can this game buck the trend?
Name: Battle Clash
Developer: Intelligent Systems Co. Ltd.
Released on: SNES
Original Release Date: October 1992
If you’ve been following my review of every single game that supports the Super Scope peripheral, you’ll know by now of the overuse of the side-scrolling arcade shooter template. But finally, we’re free from the shackles of single-direction scrolling with a game that can only be described as a mix of Nintendo’s Punch-Out!!!, The Running Man and a scrapyard full of combat mechs. The result is a much more interesting type of lightgun game than what we’ve experienced so far, for the Super Scope.
So, where does my comparison with Punch-Out!!! come from? Nintendo’s arcade boxing classic employs the visage of a boxing game, but in reality, it’s a series of one-on-one boss fights, based around identifying attack patterns and weak points, before exploiting them to win. This description suits Battle Clash perfectly – The only difference is that the setting is more fantastical, and the control mechanics are completely distinct, due to the use of the Super Scope bazooka.
Set in a futuristic world where gigantic mechs named Standing Tanks (or STs for short), battle one another in the unimaginatively named Battle Games. And when craft this gargantuan tussle, you know they aren’t too worried about Marquis of Queensbury rules – As the big guns really do come out. Out of every orifice, it seems. The setup is simple, you take each opponent on in a one-on-one format, blowing the everloving crapola out of them before they endeavour to do the same to you.
But this isn’t about fire and forget tactics, oh not at all. Your basic attacks involve a rapid-fire machine gun weapon that is your bread and butter move, but when you aren’t firing, a gauge fills to allow for a single, more effective shot. When you’re up against moving targets and a flurry of incoming enemy bullets, there’s an excellent balance between having to use the machine gun to nullify enemy attacks, and using charged shots to cause some real damage.
Then, there’s the issue of where to actually land your attacks. Sure, your foes have weak points that are susceptible to focused shots, but they’re not exactly going to tell you where they are, and a lot of the fun with Battle Clash is finding the chinks in each enemy’s armour while stopping their attacks from connecting.
Each opponent is a different pilot and each one has something to say before and after bouts – It’s not exactly a compelling narrative, but it moves the game along. Each ST is unique in their design, and in some cases, their form deteriorates as they take more damage. They all have different attacks, and as the game goes on, new types of attacks come into play, and once again there’s a learning curve to defending yourself from them. There are also single-use power-ups that are occasionally earnt as you defeat enemy STs, such as Bomb attacks and Homing weapons. Once again, there’s a bit of strategy involved as you try and figure out the best way to use these items.
Something that’s worth mentioning is that it’s a testament to the Super Scope’s accuracy that despite some weak points being very small, you never feel like your attacks aren’t connecting. In addition, the Scope’s bazooka-like form fits perfectly with the idea of being in a large mech and taking down other mechs – Resulting in that absolute rarity of a Super Scope game being fun to play.
It’s a relatively short game – Provided you know what you’re doing, the whole thing can be over in about 30 minutes, although that could be seen as a good or bad thing. Possibly bad in terms of value, even if there’s a Time Trial mode for beating your best clear times, and additional difficulty settings available by pressing L and Select together on the title screen – A code you are told about once you finish the game. But, considering how the Super Scope can be uncomfortable to use during extended play sessions, maybe the whole thing being over in half an hour is best, to avoid the symptoms of Super Scope Shoulder, a medical term I have just made up, but it should absolutely exist. A happy medium would have been a longer game with a password or battery backup system to save progress – Thankfully, this game’s sequel, Metal Combat: Falcon’s Revenge just happens to have battery backup, but that’s another story for another review video coming soon.
But, in this day and age, there’s nothing really wrong with an old game taking a little less time to finish, especially when that shorter experience can be a thrilling and compelling one. And that unlockable Hard mode really sorts out the men from the boys – Even the first stage of the game becomes a frantic battle of wits where you really will die quickly if you aren’t at the top of your game. It’s certainly not a mode for everyone.
Battle Clash could have easily been a very basic lightgun game, but mercifully it’s much more than that. By stripping back the number of enemies and turning it into a tactical one-on-one shooter, this title becomes a much more interesting, memorable and ultimately, fun experience.