LAURENT KERMEL - Video Game Den : Super Famicom : WRECKING CREW '98 )
WRECKING CREW '98
game Cover
game cartridge
レッキングクルー'98
©1985, 1989, 1977, 1998 Nintendo
Release: 1995-05-23 (¥3800)
Cartridge SHVC-BWCJ
Puzzle & Platform Game


Wrecking Crew '98 is a puzzle game by Nintendo and is the sequel to Wrecking Crew originally released for the Famicom in 1985. Interestingly Wrecking Crew'98 was first released as a Nintendo Power digital download (see the info section). This title actually contains two separate games - the first one is a straight port of the original Wrecking Crew and the second is a new puzzle game entitled Wrecking Crew '98. The original Wrecking Crew requires the player to control Mario and to smash concrete structures to pieces with a large hammer without bumping into an enemy or getting hopelessly stuck. Wrecking Crew '98 is a different game altogether and reminds the likes of Tetris and Puzzle Bobble. Two opponents are given a 6x9 playfield and blocks fall from the top of the screen and must be arranged by color. These blocks can usually be smashed with the hammer that Mario carries around. However, small cranks located in front of the first seven rows allow him to move a whole line of blocks at once. The goal of the game is obviously to overflow the opponent's side with blocks, but Wrecking Crew '98 brings its own twist to the recipe. Matching three blocks of the same color clears them from the screen, however matching four or more triggers different effects - red drops an enemy in the opponent's playfield, green causes some of his columns to rise for a short amount of time, blue hides two of his bottom rows under bricks and shuffles them and finally orange sends steel blocks over to his side. Bombs are also available later in the game and clear whole groups of blocks at once.
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Wrecking Crew '98 was originally released for the Nintendo Power as a digital download on January 1st, 1998. The Nintendo Power was a Japan-only device which allowed players to download new games onto specially designed and rewritable RAM cartridges for a small fee. Nintendo Power machines were installed in stores and the service was available in japan from 1997 to 2007. The RAM cartrige was called the SF Memory Cassette and several games could be copied on it (one Memory Cassette was even available for the Game Boy system). Several Super Famicom games were only available for the Nintendo Power and some, such as Wrecking Crew '98, were eventually released on cartridge later on. Other games worth mentioning are Sutte Hakkun, Fire Emblem: Thracia 776, Super Famicom Wars, Super Punch-Out! and several Famicom remakes such as Hajimari no Mori Famicom Bunko, Famicom Tantei Club Part 2 or Metal Slader Glory: Director's Cut.


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I have mixed feelings about Wrecking Crew '98. I am personally a huge fan of the original Wrecking Crew and I am glad it was included here as a bonus. But the new Wrecking Crew '98 feels like a cheap attempt to cash in on the fame of the original game. It just doesn't have quite the same fresh spirit the original had and just borrows from other popular games, such as Tetris or Puzzle Bobble. The original game design ends up buried beneath layers of uninspired puzzle elements. There are a couple of neat ideas though - such as the way how the player is given a few seconds to bring down his blocks when they reach the top of the screen, or the color combinations triggering special attacks. All in all I was very disappointed - Wrecking Crew '98 failed to convince me that it's just another Tetris-battle-like puzzle game. An upgraded version of the original Wrecking Crew would have been a much better choice I believe.




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