Vampires have taken on many forms over the years. There’s your traditional Castlevania types, your sparkly Twilight types, and even your Sesame Street Count types. In June 1994, Bullet Proof Software thought Super NES owners could use a new type of vampire: the adorable, tomato juice drinking, magic trick enthusiast type. In a market already flooded with mascot characters with names like Bubsy the Bobcat, Awesome Possum, and Aero the Acrobat, Bullet Proof Software took a chance on a little vampire prince named Spike McFang, and the SNES library is just a little more charming because of it.
On the surface, the Twisted Tales of Spike McFang looks like a fairly forgettable title. Just look at that character on the box. He’s wearing colorful sneakers, jeans with his traditional vampire cape, and has the ridiculous “attitude” filled smirk that was all too prevalent in the 90’s. If you give the game a shot though, you’ll find that the box art is quite misleading, especially in relation to the main character.
Spike isn’t a dude with a ‘tude. He’s an adorable prince of a vampire kingdom where instead of drinking blood, vampires love tomatoes. He’s also a big fan of magic, and as such wears a top hat and cape, which double as his primary weapons. Where the box art depicts Spike as something of a troublemaker, in reality (and I use that term loosely) he’s a wide-eyed youth who just wants to make his father proud, and become a master magician. That might seem like a pretty common archetype, but after having the video game market flooded with attitude-filled mascot characters, Spike’s adorable good guy-ness turned out to be a nice breath of fresh air.
Then there’s the world in which the game takes place. There’s cards, spells, and garlic monsters everywhere, and after a few minutes in this charming little world, it’s nigh impossible not to fall in love. The music is great, the graphics are vibrant and colorful, the controls feel tight, it’s the picture of what a Super NES game should be, and I think that might just have been one of the game’s biggest problems. There was no shortage of quality titles on the SNES around this point, and sadly, some games simply fell through the cracks. It’s unfortunate, but hidden gems like this help give console libraries their charm. There’s worst problems to have.
There is one other major flaw with this game, and that’s its length. As fun as it can be, there just isn’t enough of it. If you decide to grind, you’ll hit the level cap very early. Just when the story gets going, it all comes to an end before the world really cracks open. Short and sweet usually isn’t really a problem, but in this game, you really want more. But don’t let that deter you! Even though it’s a little stunted, what’s there is some high quality SNES.
The Twisted Tales of Spike McFang is just about the perfect picture of a game that’s lost in time. A sequel to a Japan-only platformer, a now defunct developer, nebulous rights issues, and little to no fans clamoring for a sequel. It’s a perfect storm. However, if you’re looking for something charming, fun, and slightly off the beaten path, give this twisted tale a try. Especially if you like beating up garlic.