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Retro Fire

Written: 9.12.06
Acquired: 8.7.06
Status: CIB
Price: $11.51

Publisher: ImagineerReleased: 12.9.94
Developer: Imagineer?Scarcity: 3

In the early-mid '90s few games matched the fun that Super Bomberman and Super Mario Kart provided

Ever wonder what if someone combined the two?

Imagineer of Japan did... sorta

is a 6-player fixed screen racer and does a good job of cramming bits of Bomberman and Mario Kart in a blender. The airbike is easy to control. Once you get in the zone, you'll be screaming past tight corners, blowing up the competition, and scorching toward the finish line with dazzling flamboyance unseen since the glory days
of Babylon

There are weapons and powerups randomly strewn across the course at any given time. Nothing beats dropping a land mine under a hidden overpass... *evil grin*

Bomberman meets Mario Kart?!


  •  Laser (press R to shoot)

Unlimited. You could be on one side of the track and hit someone on the other. It's weak however; stunning the victim for a split second (but enough to tick the tar outta 'em, which
is half the fun really)

  • Speed Up (automatic)

Increases your speed for that entire race. Collect a couple and you'll blaze right through the competition

  • Matchless (automatic)

Zipping at break-neck speed, anyone caught in your path will flip out. It's just like the Star from Super Mario Kart

  • Land Mine (Y)

My favorite. The more land mine icons you collect the more you can lay at a time. If you collect three or four as I once did, you'll OWN that race!

  • Nitro (X)

Speed burst. If you're on a track with steep hills, activate it at the bottom and watch your guy FLY!

  • Missile (R)

A 1-shot deal that, when released, darts around the track til it finds someone or burns out

  • Weight (R)

Like the missile, a 1-time deal that sends a blue skeleton disc around the track until it finds someone or passes out. This causes the infected driver to go considerably slower

  • Turn Over (R)

Evil in its purest form. Bolts a yellow skeleton disc around the track -- if it finds a target, that driver will temporarily have his control REVERSED. On basic tracks the transition is usually no biggie. But on those with lots of turns, it's a TRUE you-know-what. Luckily, when infected, a fairy (!) appears carrying a first-aid kit. Love it. Odd, but very cool!

The reason for different buttons? So you can drop a land mine WHILE shooting your lasers. As NBA Hall-of-Famer turned commentator BILL WALTON would say: "Now HOW cool is THAT?"

Three game modes: Battle, Grand Prix and Practice

In Battle you pick from 1-30 laps to win a course. 15 is the default; I like playing on 10 just to keep things moving. Pick from 1-5 match wins. You can even select a new track after round!  In Bomberman, you're restricted to the SAME field until one player can win the designated amount. HERE, say it's 3 wins to the trophy, well you can play on tracks 1, 2 and 8 if you wish. Brilliant!

Up to 5 human players can play, with a total of 6 maximum bikers. Any combo is possible: 1-on-1 race, or 4 bikers instead of 6. Go 7 laps, or 27. Adjust the AI from 1-5. It's very user-friendly

The Grand Prix follows a storyline, but like Bomberman the meat of Battle Cross is playing the Battle mode

Nine initial courses are available, with one being unlockable

Course #1

Just your basic introductory
track to help ease the player
in. The course is devoid of
any gimmicks. A volcano
rests peacefully in the
middle and a fisherman
enjoys the action at sea.
Oh and UM... a Godzilla
like creature plays in the
sand pit. It's the wacky
Japanese at it yet again...
are you not shocked?

                                                                                                  Course #2

                             A couple puddles atop and
                             a grumpy pirate who doesn't
                             like trespassers highlight
                             this track. He launches a
                             cannonball across the
                             screen every five seconds
                             or so. If you find yourself
                             in the line of fire, do what
                             the 80's Anthem preached.
                             JUMP! (by pressing L)

Course #3

The orange arrows operate
as a speed burst. This is
the first track to implement
high and low drops. I really
like the curve before the
finish line -- it's the perfect
opportunity to smoothly turn
the corner and accelerate on
through. And for some reason,
I really dig the way the grass
looks. It's so lush. I've said it
before -- it's the little things!

                                                                                                 Course #4

                    This course rocks. Leap over the
                    wooden spikes and watch out for
                    the rocket that comes screaming
                    out of the hole. A little gate near
                    the totem pole swings open
                    periodically, allowing the precious
                    possibility of a short cut. But if the
                    gate closes as you go for it, the
                    AGONY! The shrubbery at the
                    bottom left obstructs the playing
                    view. It's ripe for mine-dropping.
                    Overall this course has a good
                    deal of strategy, making it one
                    of my faves

Course #5

See that wolf peering
over the cliff there?
It's the little things that
make video games cool
I always say. Here the
slopes get very steep
and if you got Nitro,
use it at that bottom
hill. Your momentum
can propel you straight
through the finish line!

                                                                                                 Course #6


                           Twice the hidden overpasses
                           equals twice the potential
                           danger of land mines. I love
                           the corner where my red
                           guy is at -- making a smooth
                           turn and having that long
                           raceway to steam forward
                           is pretty cool stuff

Course #7

Love this devious track. It's wide open... til you get to the two red pillars. To make matters worse, they move randomly!  It's a short stage but very fun because of the chaos the red pillars usually cause. Blue and yellow there did OK -- green and purple is a different story! As for me, red, oh you know.. you know... uh... overlapping them. *cough*  Nothing beats cutting through those pillars unscathed! Not only will you probably be in the lead but you'll look real cool too oh yeah

                                                                                                Course #8

                     Those are some big animals! O_o
                     Course gets a bit bumpy in the
                     middle there
                     Dunno why, but this is one of my
                     least favorite tracks

Course #9

Pinball-mania. Nothing
but sheer tomfoolery
found here. The three
yellow things move and
are hard to avoid. Hit
the bumpers as I did
here, and you'll be
bouncing back and
forth for a while. He
here who minimizes
mistakes, will win

[Hey, I got that in my
fortune cookie today -Ed.]

Misc. Notes

-Graphics are nothing to write home about but they're serviceable and for this type of game works

-Sound is OK. But the music is pretty dope. I enjoyed some of the catchy course tunes

-Like Bomberman, it's still fun to play alone, but the real treat is getting 4 others to join... a perfect game to play after a night out with your buds

-Even your little brother or sister can play, thanks to the option in BATTLE mode for "human-CPU" mode. Think of it like.... auto-defense in baseball video games. In other words, steering is taken care of

-Can't read a lick of Japanese?  No problem!  Though the storyline in Grand Prix will fly over your head. No biggie [Biggie Biggie can't you see, sometimes your words just hypnotize me!  Ahem, carry on -Ed.]

-Never a hint of slowdown

-The back cover of the manual has the best Engrish I've seen in some time:


Battle Cross is a fun party game. It possesses a unique charm and the little things like the wolf and revolving gate, for example. The more I played BC the more I liked it. It's well worth owning, especially if you have like-minded gaming friends. (I bet if my old gaming group knew about this back in '94... it would be right there with NBA Jam and Bomberman... that's no small feat!)

Graphics: 7
Sound: 8
Gameplay: 8
Longevity: 8

Overall: 8.0

Silver Award