Review by KasketDarkfyre
"Internet gaming? On the SNES? Almost..."
Even though this isn't a regular game review, I'm sure that most people don't remember what X-Band really was. A first attempt of sorts to bring gamers together through several different Super Nintendo games across a modem type interface was truly one of the first ideas that never really got off the ground. Featuring a small cart that plugged into your SNES along with a small modem port to connect a phone line to, X-Band was more or less an effort to give home system gamers the opportunity to challenge other gamers across the country to fighting games and a couple of racing games in order to create a more competitive environment!
X-Band worked on the same premise that current ISP's work on, in which you had to input a credit card number, create an account and a password, and then find a game that was compatible with the system that they had set up. When it was still alive and kicking, X-Band was a good way to show off your skills and make a name for yourself with games like Street Fighter II and Mortal Kombat while keeping with the spirit of good sportsmanship! Those who did sign up and use the X-Band with the SNES had several different limited message options that allowed you to send challenges to friends, or just find new friends to fight against. Opening up the different parts of the country was something that wasn’t even heard of in the gamers circles, simply because distance separates people and the challenges that they may face off against each other! At different times, I played several people across the country that handed my ass back to me on several different occasions, but the point of the matter is, that I enjoyed doing it with some one who was six states and a time zone away from me.
As with most early attempts to create a gaming environment like this, you had a general set of problems such as static on the phone line and disconnection’s that could occur at any given time. There was no real pinging system in place, so if your phone line was clear enough, and you were on at a certain part of the night, you could play a fighting game and keep the action smooth and fast! If you were using the system at peak hours, you could have problems just getting connected, and in some cases you would have a complete game freeze that wouldn't let up until you reset the system itself. One of the top rewards that did impress me specifically, was the fact that your overall records were kept up on the service, and anytime that you chose a game, your user name as well as your current record for the specific game was saved so that you could continue on without losing any previous accomplishments!
Some of the more memorable games that you could find among the huge list that was available were the awesome two-player fighting game, Killer Instinct. The overall feeling of going through a fighting game of this type and beating the crap out of someone who was hundreds of miles away was more than tempting enough to have most gamers buy it! With the ability to do such things, there were slight limitations with the servers and only a handful of games were allowed to be played through the X-Band. It was more or less a matter of taking the most popular games and translating them onto a system that allowed you to have a ton of competition with strangers instead of fighting against the same person over and over. This lead to a greater demand for more games, but with the limitations that the X-Band servers had, there was only so much that could be done to sate all of the requests that were being made!
Other various games that could have come about, and were finally realized with the Dreamcast, were with different SNES RPG games that were all over the market at the time. Without the proper funding, research and even ability at that particular time, there was no hope that anything like that would ever be brought to pass. Considering that this was the attempt to take a 16-bit system and create something that was well worth shelling out the money for just to get gamers online and into the fray for facing off against other people, it performed fairly well! Points of interest on this little adapter was that you could use the mouse in order to select different options though the different menu screens, and was just another way to capitalize on the SNES capabilities. If such devices like the X-Band were ever brought to fruition, then there is a good possibility that we would still be playing the older and classic games that we loved on the SNES instead of spending all of our time on the Play Station 2 and the other various Internet capable game systems.
Overall though, the X-Band allowed gamers to have a little more challenge at any given time with several different games being compatible with the dial up service. Without sacrificing visuals or audio, as well as giving the gamer a different form of challenge, you could find plenty of reasons to sign up for the service and at ten bucks a month; it was well worth it! Again, you have to look at what the markers of such a little device tried to accomplish with such an aging system. If you consider what it took to think up, create and actually get something like this to work, and not only get gamers interested but also get gaming magazines to endorse and participate with the X-Band, the potential was quite limitless. However, with the video game world constantly changing, and the addition of modem ready systems out there on the market, X-Band quietly faded into the background and finally out of sight leaving X-Band a little known and now defunct but fondly remembered addition to their Super Nintendo Entertainment System.
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 12/04/01, Updated 12/04/01
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