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Super 56 – Review

One of my favourite minigame collections of all time is Bishi Bashi Special. Its a wonderfully bizarre Japanese comedic collection of quickfire minigames that Super 56 is clearly inspired by. Onion Soup Interactive made the equally zany Nippon Marathon, one of my all time favourite games and now they are trying their hand at minigames.

This Hungry Hungry Hippo spinoff is delightful and showcases the appeal of Super 56.

There are 56 games and most of them are indeed super. They are played with just a single button and whilst that concept can also be used to much annoyance in the main menus, the one button approach works really well in the game itself. You’ll be button mashing, timing presses, holding and tapping away depending on the game and whilst some games lack an initial explanation of what you need to do, you’ll quickly work them out. This seems baked into the game design too as collectable instruction manual pages detailing tips and a secret challenge can be unlocked in the extras menu for completionists.

Lots of the minigames are 10-60 second takes on video game classics. There’s a kart game where you press to turn left. Pong has a circular variant. Sonic’s special stages see you running in mazes but collecting apples here. An old marble maze is present too. Minigolf and archery uses old moving arcs and meters. Spot the dolphin variant of Flappy Birds. Fancy hole in the wall? Check. There are button mashers, typewriter games, rhythm action games, casino games and even a Hungry Hungry Hippo board game spin off using giant heads. I could trace most of the games back to a genre trope or something from gaming pop culture and its a delight to uncover. Spot the Doom, Pokémon and Elder Scrolls RPG styled spin offs too.

Several minigames are about timing and this one asks you to refuel a car as close to a certain sale price as possible. Simple but oddly competitive.

Initially you’ll be playing them in a set order to earn XP through story mode. Yes, the story mode is utter nonsense but it doesn’t get in the way much as it triggers when you level up. Levelling up often means getting more cosmetics to customise your online leaderboard banner or voice collection when winning or losing in game. It also unlocks Mod Stones that you can equip to your character because the goal here is to complete all 56 minigames in one single run. Mod Stones can randomise the minigame order, increase your lives, allow you to skip a stage and also stop the game from speeding up. This is the final twist in Super 56’s gameplay loop. The longer you survive, the game starts to speed up. This makes timing moves harder or just completing tasks trickier. You can’t poop on everyone’s head as a seagull nearly as well if the game is running at 2x speed! This change makes some games way harder if you unfortunately encounter them late game but the satisfaction of keeping a run going is immense when it all goes to plan.

Outside of online leaderboards and daily challenges, Super 56 offers some nice customisation and the ability to turn off the CRT filter (thank you) to make things easier to see. The concept is that this is all taking place as a tournament on a found console cartridge so the CRT visuals make sense but I preferred the game without them. My sole complaint is that there is no multiplayer element here. I’d have happily had pass and play due to the nature of how the games are designed to run most of the screen but instead I’ll just take to practice mode and pass the controller around that way. It seems an obvious oversight but I’d have loved to have seen a proper multiplayer function included.

One button Doom followed by one button turn based RPG battles? Super 56 has you covered…

Zany, humorous but above all intensely playable and addictive, Super 56 is a great entry into the minigame collection genre. The variety of games here that are enjoyable and a challenge sets a high bar for others to follow and its off the wall graphics, sound, controls and mood keep you guessing what is going to be unveiled next. Super 56 deserves to be a cult classic and I’ll be coming back to it in a few decades time I’m sure.

Super 56
Final Thoughts
Full of character, charm, zany ideas and nifty mini games. Whilst even a pass the controller multiplayer option is sorely missed, what's here is a great throwback to Bishi Bashi Special.
A huge variety of minigames to enjoy, with many gems.
Each minigame has a secret achievement challenge to discover and attempt.
Zany aesthetic is the right side of Takeshi's Castle / Its a Knock Out weirdness.
Online leaderboards and daily challenges keep you coming back.
No multiplayer options (even pass the controller would work here) feels at odds with the gameplay.
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