Review by FormationZ

"Best badminton game... ever? I wouldn't be surprised."

Although not as popular as other racquet sports such as tennis or squash, it goes without saying that badminton is an unique sport indeed. You can't deny that its worldwide acceptance is currently on the rise. More people, in more countries, are playing badminton, which can only be a good thing.

However, it seems that video game industry hasn't noticed this yet. That is just… sad. I mean, does it have anything to do with the complexity of the sport itself? Perhaps its intense and stimulating pace just cannot be translated to video games. Not properly, at least.

Nevertheless, there was a time when video games couldn't rely on fancy graphics or orchestrated soundtracks, when game play was what counted. Therefore, in this context, nobody would have expected to see a badminton video game that was actually playable.

Released in 1988 by Vap, and developed by Pax Softonica, Super Dyna'mix Badminton attempts to emulate the thrill and excitement of this sport, and turn them into 8-bit goodness. Mission accomplished?

Graphics

If you've played any of the games from Nintendo's Sports Series (Tennis, Golf, Soccer, etc.), then Super Dyna'mix Badminton's graphics should look pretty familiar. Yet, there are a few things I'd like to point out.

Players' sprites are considerably large, and each one has been given its own distinctive look (including T-shirts, shorts and even hair color!). Pretty remarkable, indeed.

Being able to choose among four different playable courts was also something I found very notable. It helps a lot in giving the game some fresh air, since all of the courts look significantly different from one another, and although they won't affect the game play in any way, I don't see why you shouldn't pick a different one each time you play.

The shuttlecock looks very clear, and fortunately for us, its shadow is easily noticeable on the court, so you won't have any problems with that.

You just have to love that crowd. It's so fervent and lively! Seriously, that's got to be one of the best crowds of I've seen in a NES sports game. And yes, they just may be a bunch of floating heads frenetically jiggling, but their charm and spirit are undeniable.

From the title screen to the courts, this game is quite colorful and pleasing to the eye, as you may have already noticed. Graphically speaking, Super Dyna'mix Badminton achieves a level of beauty and vividness that not many sports games on the NES have managed to. Hats off to those folks from Pax Softonica for making this possible.

Audio

While sound effects may be few, they were properly executed. Hitting the shuttlecock sounds pretty accurate. And that‘s good to know, since you'll be hearing it most of the time.

For some odd reason, your player makes a noise every time he jumps, although it's not annoying at all. I find it quite amusing, actually.

When you're playing indoors, you'll also hear some random whistling and cheering, which makes you feel like the crowd is actually there, rooting for you, and enjoying each and every one of your shots. Incredibly gratifying.

The only sound effect I found somewhat irritating, was the running sound. Yes, your player also makes a noise while he's moving. Really annoying. Unnecessarily annoying.

And the music? Each section of the game has its own, unique track. Title screen, selections screen, matches; you get the point. Pretty remarkable, isn't it? However, we all know that quantity doesn't always equal quality. Luckily, this isn't the case with Super Dyna'mix Badminton.

Most of the songs are quite enjoyable, some more than others. The match music is very catchy and cheerful; although I'm not sure it fits a badminton game. Seriously, listening to that one song constantly looping while playing an endless shot rally could get to your nerves.

Nonetheless, this game's audio department gets a high mark, and it damn right deserves it. Accurate sound effects and delightful music make a winning combination, and Super Dyna'mix Badminton sure has it.

Controls

First of all, let's start with the basics. Obviously, you move your player with the D-Pad. Your player's speed is ideal, frankly. Not too fast, nor too slow, so you won't have any problems with that.

Assuming that your timing and positioning are the right ones, pressing the A-Button will allow you hit the shuttle. Just like in real badminton, the height of the shuttle also plays an important role. If the shuttle is at your knees, you'll perform a lift. If it's above your head, you'll perform an overhead smash. You may also adjust the depth and directions of your shot by using the D-Pad, while holding the A-Button down.

Done with the basics? Good, because if you truly want to this sport, you're going to have to master a more complex technique.

B-Button allows you to jump. Just a plain and simple jump. Pretty useless, you think? It seems that both A and B-Button will have to join forces, in order to deal with some of the most experienced opponents (looking at you, random Chinese player).

At first, jumping smashes will be very tricky and difficult to achieve, but learning how to successfully pull them off, is going to be essential, in case you want to have any chance against the world's finest competitors.

Those folks at Pax Softonic really outdid themselves in this category. Controls may be a pain in the ass at first, but with practice, you'll be smashing the shuttlecock back and forth, just like a real pro!

Game play

After you've picked the court you'll be playing on, you‘ll get to the Selections screen. Here, you're presented with three options: a singles match against the CPU; a singles match against a human player; and a doubles match, in which you and a friend can battle against two CPU-controlled players.

Next, you'll choose if you want to play a Boys or a Girls match. Note that, on the court, there are no graphical differences between the players. However, that's where similarities come to an end. A Boys match is the best of three games, 15 points each; whereas a Girls match is only 11 points each game. Also, in Boys matches, the shuttlecock travels a lost faster than in Girls matches. There is no difficulty setting per se in Super Dyna'mix Badminton; however, you could say that a Girls match works as a practice mode, in which you'll be able to familiarize with the controls before you decide to take on the boys.

If you‘ve chosen to play against a human player, you'll finally have to select the country to want to play as, and done, you're ready to go. However, if you're up against the computer (first or third option), before you pick a country, there will be two other options: Start and Continue. Or as I prefer calling them: Exhibition and World League. Those terms seem more accurate.

While the first one seems rather self-explanatory, the Continue option allows you save your progress, so to speak, by inputting a 4-letter password. More precisely, you can check which countries you've already played against, and whether you beat them or not. Pretty useless, you're thinking? Sure, unless you want to see the game's ending screen. Yep, unlike most sports games, Super Dyna'mix Badminton does have an ending. Or something like that…

But hey, none of this would count if the game itself was a chore to play, right? Fortunately, that's not the case. Its accessibility is one of the key points to consider. Perhaps you've never even watched a badminton game in your life, but that doesn't mean you won't be able to enjoy Super Dyna'mix Badminton. Heck, you may even end up becoming a badminton fan, just like it happened to me!

The pace is just perfect, the controls are top-notch, and the number of shots you can perform is simply outstanding. Strategy can come into play, as well. You may adopt a more aggressive approach, you may play defensively, and wait for the right moment to perform that decisive smash. Anything can happen in Super Dyna'mix Badminton, and it's all up to you.

Once again, Super Dyna'mix Badminton does not disappoint in this category, and if I were you, I'd be playing it right now. But since that's not the point, resume reading this review would be a much wiser choice.

Replay Value

Beating all five players in Continue mode could take you a while, in case you don't have the appropriate training. Otherwise, you should be able to win those five matches in less than an hour. After that, there's no much to do in this game. Unless you have a friend, of course, because Super Dyna'mix Badminton can provide some addictive two player action. This is a sports game, after all. Replay value should be infinite.

Challenge

Like I mentioned earlier, there is no clear difficulty setting in Super Dyna'mix Badminton. Instead, each opponent presents its own level of challenge, ranging from easy (Canada, USA) and medium (UK), to hard (South Korea, China). Whether you play a Boys or Girls match will also affect the difficulty, for reasons I've already talked about in the Game play section.

So let's say you've decided to play against Canada. This guy (or lady), will never perform any jumping smashes, and I mean NEVER. Same with the American representatives. These players also miss the shuttle, a lot. Therefore, these matches should be a walk in the park, assuming you've already got the basics of the game.

What about the British players? Well, these folks do know how to pull off a jumping smash, and they're not afraid to use it. Not very often, though. Still, these matches should be pretty tough at first, but not impossible.

And finally, we have South Korea and China. Again, these matches are not impossible, they're just so damn frustrating. These countries' representatives perform jumping smashes very often, hardly ever miss the shuttle, and return practically each and every one of you shots. I‘m not kidding here. It requires a whole lot of skill, patience, and determination to beat them, which I somehow managed to gather one day. Don't know how, though.

Since the difficulty in Super Dyna'mix Badminton is determined by the choices of the player, there shouldn't be any complaints in this department.

***Match Statistics***

Winners
-Colorful and vibrant graphics make of Super Dyna'mix Badminton a visual enjoyment.
-Sound effects were accurately performed.
-Catchy and cheerful melodies set the mood properly.
-Responsive controls.
-Solid game play mechanics.
-Addictive two player mode.
-Adjustable difficulty.

Unforced Errors
-Some tracks' constant looping can become a bit exasperating.
-It could take some time to get used to the controls.
-Most difficult players are merciless.

Final Words

The pros clearly outnumber the cons, and it shouldn't be a surprise. Whether you're a badminton fan or not, you just have to do yourself a favor and play this little gem. You won't regret it.


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 01/24/11

Game Release: Super Dyna'mix Badminton (JP, 08/26/88)


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