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Retro Fire

Written: 10.29.06
Acquired: 8.7.06
Status: CIB
Price: $6

Publisher: TakaraReleased: 4.28.94
Developer: TakaraScarcity: 3

Interesting that this came out nine months after Sanrio World Smash Ball!

[What are you hinting at, hmmm? -Ed.]

Based on the canine Bow (who resembles Spuds MacKenzie), star of a popular manga and anime series, Pop'n Smash is.... well, a Sanrio Smash! clone. Spuds was famous for her
Super Bowl '87 commercial, by the way

It controls and plays very
much like Sanrio Smash,
right down to the charging
bar-power shot (which can
also hit the ball twice in
succession under the right
circumstances). Talk about

So, what's different? This has more options. In Sanrio 2P mode you have a choice of four characters and 20 stages. Here you have six characters and 30 stages. There are even 9 different tools to choose, ranging from mallets to baseball bats to brooms to even, a branch! I haven't, however, been able to discern if these various tools have pluses and minuses... or if they just serve as cosmetics, but nonetheless variety is the spice of life

The 1-Player version is limited to a choice of 4. Here, Bow opts for the twig over the tennis racket... wise choice my friend... wise choice

Even the powerups are similar.
One eliminates all blocks protecting the opposition's goal line, another
instantly gives you full power. But
there's at least one different icon:
The Bomb.  You're frozen in place
for a good 4, 5 seconds if it touches
you. Pretty cool

Bomb just released at the top there

                           You can also dive to make
                           amazing last second saves
                           and stops. Slide north, south,
                           west or east by pressing Y
                           and the appropriate direction.
                           Good stuff I say

Go through each character in 1P mode, with the VS. screen showing the password on bottom much like Sanrio. Hmmmm

Another big difference: more freedom to roam. Many stages are void of restrictive X marks, unlike Sanrio. There are some stages with restriction points, but most allow you to go anywhere. I only wish you could beat up the opponent as well, what great fun that would be, sort of a Pong-slash-beat-em-up but alas, I'm digressing

Oh c'mon you wish you could press-slam her too...
Or at least smack her upside the head with the mallet

                         There's also a "catch-as-many-
mini-game in the 1P

Sayaka displays the powershot.
Unfortunately for her, it is most
ill-timed. The ball will ricochet off
the barrier and into her own goal line

                           Certain objects are breakable,
                           like these pots

Bow dives to perserve his blocks

                         Sayaka's helpless expression
                         as the ball sails past her reach
                         is too cute


So, Pop'n Smash vs. Sanrio Smash. Which is better?  WHAT'S THE VERDICT?

I really enjoyed the little touches in Pop'n Smash. The additional options it has over Sanrio -- one might assume give it perhaps a stronger lifespan, and THUS the overall edge... but Sanrio  plays better. I can't put my finger on it, but it just feels a little bit more polished than this game

Both are really good though, and both are worth buying