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The Twisted Tales of Spike McFang

From time to time in the 80s and 90s, game publishers would suddenly plop down a sequel to a game released in Japan with no mention whatsoever that it was indeed a sequel. The game would get a new name and a translation that left no hint that it was a sequel, with players only finding out the truth years later through some weird twist of fate.

Such is the case with The Twisted Tales of Spike McFang, an action adventure game for the SNES. At the time, many simply enjoyed it as a game where players controlled a young vampire who preferred eating tomatoes rather than sucking blood. Little did they know that it was actually the follow-up to an obscure PC Engine platformer starring the same plucky vampire.

The PC Engine game was a very typical platformer that never really stood out. Spike McFang on the other hand went for something completely different. The game is an overhead action adventure similar in style similar to A Link to the Past with some interesting battle mechanics tossed in for good measure.

In the game, a zombie by the name of Von Hessler has raised an army and is trying to take over Spike’s castle as well as the castle of his best friend Camellia. So, it’s up to players to help Spike stop this. Unlike some other action adventure games of the time, Spike McFang is a much more linear title. The game moves from one area to the next and doesn’t allow leeway for exploration.

Despite this, the various regions are well put together, so it all works out. They have large areas to explore and tons of monsters to fight. Combat itself gives players a number of ways by which to fight enemies. First and foremost, Spike can twirl around and slash people with his cape, inflicting damage on anyone who is close by. It’s a very useful attack, however, players must be careful not to spam it carelessly. Spike will become dizzy and briefly incapacitated from spinning around too much if someone does this.

His other main attack is to take off his top hat and throw it at enemies. This takes a moment to charge up before throwing, and when Spike actually throws the hat, he launches himself backward a tiny bit. As a result, players need to be careful when doing this. Carelessness leaves them exposed to enemy attacks or accidentally launching themselves into the next area.

On top of this, Spike is able to cast various spells. They’re held on playing cards that he can buy at shops in town. These cover a number of common magical abilities. So, expect to cast healing, attack, and utility-based spells with them. Cards are consumed when a spell is cast. As a result, players will need to buy more in order to replenish their spell pool. This can get a little bit grindy at times trying to gather coins from fallen enemies. It really depends on luck as to how much money they drop, though. Spike can also use this money to buy new hats, each more powerful than the last, and each with their own little quirks as to how their attacks work.

Later in the game, Spike will even be accompanied by companions that help him in his battles. The computer controls them but they aren’t exactly aggressive. However, players can usually maneuver in such a way that the companion is in the thick of things. In this situation it has no choice but to fight some monsters. Meanwhile, Spike hangs back and tosses his hat at the baddies. (All this being said, there is a companion card that, when cast, makes companions super aggressive for a time.)

One thing that players will notice while fighting all these monsters is that the game is actually quite challenging. Getting swarmed is common. This means players must pay attention and trying to avoid such situations. Moreover, some of these enemies hit hard, so players need to use some strategy to take care of these guys. Bosses are particularly tough. It will take a few tries to defeat many of them. The difficulty is fair, though. It’s all about identifying enemies’ patterns and being extremely on point when executing attacks. Moreover, Spike does gain experience and levels as he defeats monsters. So, if a baddie is proving to be particularly tough, trying to level up might be the way to go. This won’t make a tough boss suddenly become a cakewalk, but it might just take the edge off a bit.

It’s also worth noting that the various areas players will explore are big. They just go on and on sometimes. The places will trick players with dead ends and there are traps strewn about that must be avoided.

On the whole, Spike McFang’s graphics go for a more simplistic, cartoony look like something out of an early 90s manga. This is punctuated by some funny animations when certain things happen like when Spike falls into his castle moat and gets hauled out by his pet sea serpent. The sad, put out look on Spike’s face is priceless then. There are several moments like this throughout the game. Often it’s something unfortunate happening to Spike. Sometimes it’s a conversation that becomes heated. In any case, these various animations bring a lot of personality to the game.

Folks looking for a unique action adventure on the SNES should consider The Twisted Tales of Spike McFang. The game has personality, and the combat well done. Those curious about a vampire with a penchant for tomatoes may do well to give this game a go.

- IroIro
August 8, 2019
Developer: Bullet Proof Software / Red Company
Publisher: Naxat Soft
Genre: Action Adventure
Platform: SNES
Released: 1993

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Twisted Tale of Spike McFang Image 2

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