Super NES Works on the trials and tribulations of Tokusatsu

Hey, American kids, how about that Ultraman? Eh? EH?

This week represents something of a milestone for me: I finally played Ultraman for Super NES. All throughout the Super NES's lifetime, I saw this box in the games case at practically every store I shopped at, still marked up at full price as late as 1995 or so, and I found myself wondering what on God's green earth this "Ultraman" thing was supposed to be. The screens on the back of the box looked like a terrible fighting game, though, so I never even considered picking up a copy. And that was wise, because… it's a terrible fighting game. Q.E.D.

It turns out Ultraman for Super NES was intended to tie in with a short-lived television series that aired right at the time of the Super NES's launch. The series only survived 13 episodes in the U.S., which is only half of a standard TV season and a mere one-quarter of a syndicated season. No wonder I never heard of it. However, the game lingered on as the sole legacy of this classic Japanese tokusatsu series' failed attempt to make its way into the American market.

Interestingly, this release is often listed as a separate game from the Japanese Super Famicom Ultraman. It's not, really, though. The American release got a pretty massive facelift; the Japanese Ultraman reflected the monsters, settings, and music of the vintage ’60s TV series, while the U.S. release played out as a battle against the monsters of Ultraman G (the series localized briefly as Towards the Future) in the appropriate settings. But the mechanics and even enemy logic are, so far as I can tell, exactly the same between versions. It's kind of like what long-time Video Chronicles viewers saw in The Bugs Bunny: Crazy Castle, which was the same game that starred either Bugs Bunny, Mickey Mouse, or Roger Rabbit depending on region and platform.

Anyway, this game is pretty bad, but I went ahead and explained why its mechanics don't work. I respect the developers for trying to be true to Ultraman, but the franchise's "rules" reaaaally suck for an actual video game.