Review by TKDBoy1889
A great game lost in the obscurity of the Super Scope
I think the Super Scope for the SNES gets a little bit of an unfair reputation. It's true that it's a beast of a gun that drains battery life like no tomorrow, but setting it up and using it was never an issue for me when I was a kid. It's also sad because there were some great games that utilized the Super Scope. One of my favorites growing was Battle Clash. It's a high-paced and intense rail shooter that's incredibly satisfying to play.
Battle Clash takes place in a future dystopian Earth, where the fate of all countries is determined by a battle game of massive robots, referred to as Standing Tanks (Or ST's for short), battling each other until only one is ultimately left standing and becomes the ruler. A merciless fighter called Anubis has won the battle game, brutally killing several others during his rise to the top and now ruthlessly oppressing the planet as a dictator. You are the partner of Mike, a man who has spent his life training to learn everything about the battle game in an attempt to defeat Thanatos, both restoring harmony and avenging his father who died battling Thanatos. Mike pilots a ST called Falcon, while you control the weapon systems as the gunner. It's your job to defeat Thanato's chiefs and generals before taking down the madman yourself.
The game itself is essentially one big boss gauntlet, almost like a fighting game but played as a rail shooter. Every level is a 1-on-1 duel where you have to deplete the enemy ST's health while stopping their attacks from taking you down first. First off, the games controls pretty well. As long as you set up the Super Scope accurately, which isn't hard, the controls are responsive and shots go where you point them. For your main weapon you can either charge up an energy bolt to damage the opponent, or rapidly discharge machine gun fire to intercept incoming enemy shots. Every single opponent in the game has a unique design, not only in how they look but also in how they move and attack. The first opponent is pretty much cannon fodder to get used to the controls, but after that opponents will start mixing up it. Some have specific weak spots that have to be targeted in order to take any damage, some are slim in design and require more accuracy to hit, and some have massive attack patterns you have to be on the lookout for. As you progress through the game, the opponents get tougher and tougher. The game is incredibly challenging as you progress, but in the right way. Every enemy has their own patterns that you can learn to predict and counter, while aiming for their weak spot. Most of the enemies will telegraph their most powerful attacks for a split second, giving you time to react and counter. Despite the simplistic nature of the shooting mechanics, the games stays interesting because of how each opponent requires a different approach.
Sprucing up the combat slightly are items that you occasionally pick up. In every fight you have one bomb that can stop all incoming attacks and deal moderate damage to any exposed weak points. It's a useful item item in a pinch, but requires good timing so as not to waste it against armored opponents. Sometimes you can also acquire other items after a victory such a shield for temporary invincibility, or various other bombs that deal massive damage if properly charged up. These are one-time use items, making you think carefully about when and if you'll use them. The defensive aspect is also interesting yet simple. Missiles and weak attacks are dispersed by rapid fire, but flashing attacks can only be stopped with a charged up shot. Sometimes you also have to watch enemy movement as they will occasionally swerve from one direction to the other, and then back again.
Even though they only appear for a few seconds, the characters themselves are surprisingly colorful with their design. They each have something of a personality that is displayed within just a few sentences, adding charm to the game. You have one chief that is stoic and collected, one that's a maniacal scientist, one that is utterly convinced in his own beauty, etc. It's very brief in the grand scheme of things, but it does add personality and charm to the game as your opponents aren't just masked faceless enemies. The game itself also looks splendid, with the background of each stage looking colorful and detailed. The ST's are just as unique in their design as they are in their attack pattern. Amazingly, this game moves at a pretty pace but there is virtually no slowdown. The Super Nintendo's main issue as far as hardware is it's relatively weak CPU causing slowdown in fast-paced action games or graphically intense ones, but here the game never has a hiccup. The backgrounds scroll at a rapid pace to give the sense of how fast the ST's are moving, and there can be a lot of incoming fire at any given time, but the system manages to handle it all without issue.
This game also has a fantastic soundtrack, one of the most underrated on the SNES. Every piece of music is unique, and most of them are fantastic. They aren't done in the same style, either; Some are intense and epic, some are groovy and almost calming in a way, and some the later music just sounds straight up ominous. The very final boss has one of those songs that is surprisingly non-intrusive and not very intense sounding, yet has underlying sense of urgency and finality that fits the moment perfectly. At worst, the music is decent. At best, it's astounding. The sound itself is also pretty good. When you score a good hit on an enemy, you hear this mechanized whining sound almost as if the machine is flinching in pain. It's kind of funny, and oddly works. There's a sound that plays when opponents are charging super shots, and it helps you to react quickly when you identify the sound of danger. When opponent's are destroyed, their machine go up in a glorious explosion that both looks and sounds satisfying. When you lose a duel, you can briefly hear the opponent laughing as it cuts to the continue screen. Rather than frustrate, it's done in a way that motivates you come back and take them down.
Battle Clash is an awesome game, an underrated title in the SNES library that is criminally overlooked due to the stigma of requiring the Super Scope to play. As much as I love the game, I can't suggest going out of your way to get all the required equipment if you don't already have it. In particularly, looking for an old-school CRT TV isn't worth it, but if one already has a proper TV and Super Scope this definitely deserves to be in your library. It's only main flaw is that it's incredibly short and has little variety after beating it the first time. It can be beaten in about half an hour if you don't lose any battles. Also, the chance of acquiring items to help you in battle is quite low. I've played entire sessions without acquiring any items, which is definitely a bummer. Aside from that, however, this is an incredibly good rail shooter that displays the potential that the Super Scope really had.
Replay Value: 6/10
Final Score: 8/10
Rating: 4.0 - Great
Product Release: Battle Clash (US, 10/31/92)
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