Change The Channel – Biker Mice From Mars

In our Change The Channel series, we explore the history of video games that are based on TV shows, one game at a time. This week, Shaun Eddleston takes a look at 1994’s Biker Mice From Mars for the Super Nintendo…

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The late 80s and early 90s were an interesting time for cartoons, as the runaway success of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles saw every television network attempt to cash in on the trend of rad animal/human hybrids with attitude. As is the case with any trend, this sudden saturation of the market yielded some mixed results; if there was an animal, you’d better believe that someone was trying to develop a cool anthropomorphic cartoon about it.

One of the most memorable cartoons from this melting pot was Biker Mice From Mars. First aired in 1993, the show follows the adventures of Throttle, Modo and Vinnie, three alien biker mice who escape their war-torn home on Mars to Earth, aiming to make it back to their planet to defeat the Plutarkian race that destroyed their kind.

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The show was a more family friendly show due to the lack of blood and limited firearm use, and ran for 3 seasons, spawning several lines of toys, books and games along the way. That’s where we pick up with this week’s instalment of the “Change The Channel” series; 1994’s Biker Mice From Mars for the Super Nintendo.

Developed and published by Konami, the Biker Mice From Mars game is an overhead racer in which players can choose from a lineup of six characters to race against each other across a series of maps, upgrading their setup with money earned from gaining victories along the way.

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Players who are familiar with the previous year’s hit Rock ‘n’ Roll Racing will feel right at home with the visual style and resulting gameplay, as Biker Mice From Mars borrows liberally from its isometric style in many areas. The series of maps is never too complex, but there’s plenty of simple F-Zero style obstacles dotted around the tracks that could put the brakes on a player’s run.

Split into three game modes, Main Race, Battle Race and VS Race, with a variable difficulty setting built-in, the game is far from empty. While the modes are similar, the main race is split into different sections (and includes passwords for players that wish to return to certain points), battle mode utilises a “last man standing” concept, and VS mode allows players to face off against each other locally.

 

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Graphically, things here are pretty decent. The game does a good job of recreating the characters from the show, even with the relatively small in-game sprites. The maps are nicely detailed too, but things start to feel repeated after a few races, which makes things difficult for players to maintain any real interest in them.

Where the isometric view worked really well for Rock ‘n’ Roll Racing, it’s not quite as smooth an experience in Biker Mice From Mars. The acceleration for each character lacks a considerable amount of “oomph” behind it, so having to sacrifice any built-up speed due to some really annoying corners is one of the most irritating aspects of the game.

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Then there’s the “subtle” product placement. For some reason, the PAL version of the game features an extensive amount of advertising for Snickers bars. From the character selection screen, to the billboards and signs dotted around each racecourse, to the character victory screens, the whole thing is a huge commercial for the nutty chocolate bar. Hell, even the one of the items that you save up after winning races for is a remarkably expensive Snickers bar ($2500?!).

This is one of the most blunt examples of a company shoving in as much advertising for a product that I’ve seen since the most recent Micro Machines title, and it brings a whole new meaning to “Biker Mice From MARS“.

 

Overall, Biker Mice From Mars is a game that looks like it had potential. The graphics are decent, the races get pretty challenging and the soundtrack is nothing to be scoffed at either. The flaws in the game outweigh the positives though; The obnoxious amount of product placement for Snickers in this game is ridiculously off-putting, the annoying isometric view ruins the flow of races and the lack of voice clips from the show other than a distorted soundbite every now and again doesn’t do much to immerse players in the Biker Mice From Mars universe.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m hungry…

Have you ever played Biker Mice From Mars for the SNES? What was your favourite cartoon from this era? Let us know in the comments below, or send a tweet our way!

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