Console: NES Company: Capcom Release Date: November 1991 Genre: Action/Puzzle Number of Players: 1 or 2 (simultaneous) Save Feature? None
Although there are plenty of worthy candidates for the title of "most underrated NES game of all-time," Snow Brothers just might be the victor. The gameplay is deceptively simple yet incredibly addictive and the action really heats up with a second player! The replay value is astonishing for a game from this era as well.
Overview: Could Capcom do any wrong back in the NES era? From 1987 through 1992 or so, it seemed like each new Capcom release instantly became gold! Once you fired up the newest Capcom offerings, you just couldn't put them down for anything! Exceptional play control, impressive graphics, catchy music, a magical atmosphere/feel; these characteristics just seemed to permeate every Capcom game.
Of course, since so many NES games were being released during this time, it's only natural to assume that there were a few Capcom games that slipped by the cracks. After all, since NES games cost $40-50 a pop back in 1991, it's not like many of us could purchase every Capcom game in existence. And at the time of Snow Brothers' release, the highly-anticipated Mega Man 4 was scheduled to be released in less than two months.
Interestingly enough, another real NES sleeper, Little Nemo: The Dream Master, also fell victim to a Mega Man game. As you might recall, it was released in late 1990 right before the megahit and current NES Crown Jewel Mega Man 3 hit the stores. The lesson of this story? Stay as far away from Mega Man as you can when it comes to release dates!!
Whatever the case, Snow Brothers never really got the chance to shine like it could have. Be it poor distribution or a bad release date, this game slipped by many a gamer back in late 1991. However, it's a real dandy! When it comes to two-player action, Snow Brothers is right up there with legends such as Bubble Bobble, Life Force, and even Tecmo Super Bowl. This game was meant to be played with a second player.
As far as gameplay and feel are concerned, Snow Brothers plays a lot like another personal favorite of mine: Bubble Bobble. The only real difference is that instead of encasing enemies in bubbles and jumping onto them to blow them up, you can actually blow/shoot snow onto your enemies and roll them over once they become fully-fledged snowballs. And like Bubble Bobble, simply "shooting" enemies isn't the way to score big. By rolling snowballed enemies over unfrozen ones, you'll be able to rack up the points and collect all sorts of cool prizes! There are traditional items such as candies and cakes that give you bonus points but the real treats are discovered in the four sauces found in the game. Simply put, these sauces magnify the game's funfactor because they allow you to become a regular snow monster! Yellow sauce allows you to shoot much farther, blue sauce increases your shot size (very valuable), and the incredibly rare green sauce allows you to fly across the screen knocking over everything in your path! How rare is the green sauce you ask? So rare that I literally played through the game multiple times without even knowing of its existence! Imagine my surprise when, years later, I discovered a strange green goo. Seriously, I thought that the game was glitching up or something!
If you've been paying attention, you'll note that I just touched on only three of the sauces. The reason for this is that the fourth sauce is so special and so valuable that it will certainly be the one to cause much bickering and fussing between even the best of friends. Seriously, Capcom should have put some kind of a warning label on the game that mentioned the dangers of red sauce. Simply put, the red sauce is the most valuable item found in the game. This incredible treat radically increases your speed which may not sound like much but try playing the game and you'll see what I mean. It's amazing how one simple item can boost a game's Play Control and Funfactor rating so much but that's indeed the case! In the blink of an eye, you'll go from being the "Big Freeze" (see my comments in the Play Control section) to being Da Bomb!!
Graphics: As you would expect from a Capcom game, Snow Brothers features very colorful, crisp graphics. They aren't quite up to Mega Man standards in terms of overall quality but are solid nonetheless. Think of Bubble Bobble with colorful backgrounds and you'll have a general idea of what to expect. Personally, I thought that the color scheme, wacky as it was at times (some of the "rainbow" shading on certain levels was a bit...different), was nicely done. I liked how the overall color scheme would change after a few levels. You really feel a sense of accomplishment as you progress through the game.
The animation is pretty good as well. Granted, it looks a bit choppy at times but it doesn't distract from the game. Some of the enemies in this game are just so funny-looking! Even to this day, I don't know what some of them are! There's just a whimsical feel to Snow Brothers. You're on a serious mission and yet...not. Wacky.
Music: Although nothing really stands out as being truly "great," I found the various tunes in Snow Brothers to be quite catchy. The track that plays during Rounds 11-29 is just perfect for this type of game! It's upbeat and friendly if you will. It's the closest thing to NES dance music that you will ever find. I don't know; it's just hard to sit completely still when you hear this track! The other tunes that play are pretty average but still, they are at least appropriate. The track for the final set of levels along with the final boss theme are both pretty good. Sound effects are your typical NES fanfare. Nothing really stands out but nothing seems all that bad either.
Play Control: As I mentioned in the "Overview" section, this category is unique in that it almost depends on whether or not you have obtained the invaluable red sauce! If you have this wonderful item in your possession, the play control is nothing short of brilliant! You'll be moving and jumping like your feet are on fire! Otherwise, things feel a bit slow and floaty in terms of jumping and just flat out moving around! It's not horrible but not exactly great either. Overall, however, I think that the controls are actually quite fun once you get the hang of things. Some functions are even somewhat intuitive! It's so cool (no pun intended) that you can actually push snowballs behind you in addition to pushing them forward (you have to quickly press Left and B to do this...while you are standing next to a snowball no less). Trust me; this trick will aid you in many sticky situations. Having the ability to stand on snowballed foes is also very key in some of the areas where you have to stand on a snowball in order to reach the higher ledges (notably the ones with the big sumo-wrestler).
Challenge: Although there are a few bosses (e.g. those dreaded birds in Round 30 and the statues surrounding you in Round 50) and tricky level-designs (Round 39 can be a major headache if you're not careful.) that may give you heck, the overall challenge level is probably somewhere between "Easy" and "Moderate." With a second player, the challenge level should drop even more (unless the other player sucks due to you taking all the red sauces...lol). Even so, all it takes is one major slip-up at the wrong time to wreck a promising game. Not to pound this to no end but a lot rides on the sauces you have obtained. If you have all three, you just might blaze through the game without losing at all (something that I have almost done on several occasions). By the other token, you might have to continue a few times if you keep getting crappy items like candy (100 points...whoopee!!) The variety that each new game brings definitely adds to the lasting appeal.
However, there is one more thing to consider. Believe it or not, Snow Brothers actually has an alternate ending if you are able to beat the game without continuing! I probably beat the game 20 times or so before I managed to accomplish this so you can imagine my shock at seeing something new during the ending. It's pretty cool too! (once again, no pun intended) I thought that it was so neat to have this bonus ending...it really rewards a great effort over a good one. Do note that in the two-player mode, both players must finish without using any of the allotted nine continues to unlock this secret ending. My younger brother and sister have both shared in this accomplishment with me which is pretty cool! It's not easy though...I can't tell you how many times those stupid birds in Round 30 spoiled it! :)
Storyline: If there is anything wrong with this great game, it would have to be the background story. Then again, were there any puzzle games for the NES that actually had a decent story? It seems like all of them were the same ridiculous "save the princess" plots.
And this one is so similar to Bubble Bobble that it's ridiculous! Basically, instead of being turned into dinosaurs like the heroes of Bubble Bobble, you've been transformed into snowmen by the sinister King Scorch. Oh well...Capcom had to come up with some reason for two snowmen to be fighting hordes of strange enemies right? All I can say is at least no Neptunians (see my Sqoon review) were involved.
Funfactor: If you have never had the chance to play Snow Brothers, please do yourself a favor and get a copy pronto! Even though the asking price these days is still in the $30-40 range due to the game being somewhat rare, it really is worth every penny. The one-player mode is already pretty fun but getting a second player into the action is absolutely essential to get the full "Snow Brothers experience." In my opinion, Snow Brothers just might crack the Top 5 in terms of two-player games for the NES. It really is that much fun and, like Bubble Bobble (also in my Top 5), there is enough variety to keep you coming back time and time again. The replay value is off the charts due to all of the secret items, bonuses, and warps found throughout the game's 50 rounds. And there is always the challenge of obtaining a higher score than your friend and perhaps unlocking the secret ending if you're really gung-ho.
I don't know how else to say it. It's just one of those rare games that features gameplay that is so rich that you find yourself wanting to play it over and over and over again. The same thing can be said for legends such as Pac Man and Space Invaders which shows you just how solid Snow Brothers is! I just wish that Capcom's dark horse would have been more popular back in the NES era because it deserved a heck of a lot more praise than it received. Although the term is probably overused, this game is a diamond in the rough in every sense of the word.
Negatives: This game is way too short! Granted, there's enough meat to keep you coming back to play it time and time again but 50 rounds just wasn't enough. 70-100 rounds would have been just perfect in my mind. After all, Snow Brothers' big brother, Bubble Bobble, had not 100 but over 200 rounds!! When you have a game this good, more is always better!
As was the case for virtually all puzzle games for the NES, the story in Snow Brothers is pretty weak. It's almost as if Capcom simply took the Bubble Bobble story and replaced the cute dinosaurs with cute snowmen.
And while the graphics were very nice as a whole, some of the animation seemed a bit choppy for a Capcom game. Not terribly choppy but certainly more choppy than their Mega Man and Disney megahits.
Ratings: Graphics: 3.7 Music: 3.8 Play Control: 4.3 (3.5 without red sauce) Challenge: 4.5 Storyline: 3.2 Funfactor: 4.8 Overall Score: 24.3 out of 30.0 Overall Rating: Bronze Bravo
Back to NES NostalgiaLast Updated: May 21, 2006