Monday, December 29, 2014

Super Nintendo Essential Imports: Super Family Gelände

Console: Super Famicom
Genre(s): Sports
Players: 1
Developer: Namco
Released: 1998

Following suit with our winter game theme, I would like to shine some light on a little known downhill skiing game for the Super Nintendo and Super Famicom consoles, Super Family Gelande. This title is in many ways the 2D ancestor of Namco’s later 2008 title: We Ski. Super Family Gelande was finished in 1995 but for one reason or another, its scheduled cartridge release never happened. It wasn’t until February 1st, of 1998 that it was actually released. Unfortunately, it was available exclusively on the Nintendo Power Japan-download service. Due to this extremely limited initial market, many gamers worldwide never knew of its existence, and therefore never got to experience this addictive little gem. Luckily for us, official Super Famicom download carts containing this game can still be found on places like eBay and Amazon, so picking a physical copy up is not impossible, but will set you back a bit.

Translated Main Menu


Several gameplay modes are available from the main menu including; Slope Battle, Time Attack, Story Mode, and Ski School. Slope Battle allows you to choose a downhill course and take on the local record holder. To prove that you are worthy of such a challenge you must first beat a qualifying time down that hill. Of course while making your qualifying run, all hell seems to be breaking loose on the slopes.

So while racing for the finish do your best to dodge the all the injured skiers being carried off the mountain on stretchers, employees driving large mountain vehicles right down the middle of the slope, fledgling skiers, and many more hazards. Once you have defeated that qualifying time, its time for your one on one race with the boss.

During this race all the locals using the course will be evacuated, leaving only the two of you skiing gladiators on the hill. Each boss has a special ability that you need to be aware of. These can be anything from bursts of super speed, to robot propelled snowballs. Be prepared, your opponent is not afraid to play dirty. Boss battles in this game can be extremely tough, and unforgiving. Many times one mistake down the hill makes it impossible to catch up to them. Once you defeat them you will be given a gold star for that course.

Time Attack mode allows the player to try to beat the best recorded times for any of the 8 downhills. During this time, the slopes will be open to public so once again be prepared to dodge your way down the hill.

 Story mode tells the all too familiar story of Fox meets God. Fox requests that God turn him into a Human. God agrees, but only if Fox can complete random tasks as a Human...on skis. This mode will have you completing tasks, locating items, and talking to characters around the mountain in order to one day become a real boy. Without a real understanding of the Japanese language this mode may prove to be a bit difficult to understand. This is not a big deal because story mode is only a small part of the game. Exploring in this mode is actually pretty impressive though, you are able to go into many of the buildings, and ride all the ski lifts. Ski School is your basic training mode for learning the controls of this game.

For a little customization you can hit up the local Ski Shop on the main menu. They offer your character some new clothes, boots, and skis. Everything in the Ski Shop is free, so change your character whenever you wish.


The graphics in this game are simple but effective. Animation is clean and there are no signs of any choppiness, Characters animations are great, and facial expressions are hilarious. Weather animations are a very nice touch and snow particles add a great feel to carving down the mountain.


Other than the few tunes from the story mode scenes, the music is not something you will most likely even notice during this game. Sound effects are good but hardly noticeable. The sounds doesn't add much to the game but it also doesn't take anything away from it.


The controls in this game are also one of its finest qualities.  Though a bit obscure, it ends up feeling very natural. When your skier is at the gates at the top of the mountain Press Down on the Dpad, or the B button to get him skiing down the hill. You will then use Down, and B to control his carving left to right.

Up on Dpad:                    Step up the mountain
Left/Right on Dpad:          Step horizontally
Down on Dpad:                Turn skier to his left
B Button:                         Turn skier to his right.

Tip: Good carving will gain you speed, so don't try to win the race by going straight.

Final Impressions:

Super Family Gelände is a fun and addictive game that provides a significant level of challenge. The 8 different courses offer a wide variety of level design and strategy. The lack of multiplayer is a real shame and would have made this game an instant classic, but we are probably lucky the game was released at all. Worth the purchase if you can pick up for the right price.

Bonus Pictures:

Translated Options Menu

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