Image: Minus World
Wrecking Crew ’98 was a puzzle game for the SNES that was never released outside of Japan. And despite featuring Mario, Luigi and a whole host of classic characters, it’s taken almost 20 years for the puzzler to get an English translation.
Wrecking Crew was one of those fabled games that Nintendo released through Nintendo Power in Japan. Nintendo Power, apart from being a rad magazine that eventually stopped being published in 2012, was a service where people could get rewriteable flash cartridges at Lawson supermarkets in Japan.
Users could then take those cartridges to a Famicom Disk Writer station, where they could get the latest games, some exclusives and re-releases of older Famicom/NES games.
Not all exclusives made the jump from the Nintendo Power service to stores, like Hajimariono Mori. Wrecking Crew ’98 did eventually get reprinted onto retail cartridges, but only in Japan, which is a shame since Mario makes a pretty good demolition man.
It’s not hard to see why Wrecking Crew ’98 wasn’t popular. A Mario game without Mario in the title, the original Wrecking Crew was also released around the same time as Super Mario Bros. It was drowned out by a bigger, better game, simply.
Plot-wise, it’s cheeky enough to warrant playing in 2017. Bowser has apparently decided the best way to take revenge on the world is to get into high-rise property, plastering the Mushroom Kingdom with skyscrapers to starve the kingdom’s flora and fauna of sunlight.
Mario’s response is to take a massive hammer to it all, with gameplay focusing on constructing chains of three or more panels. It’s a little like Puyo Puyo in reverse. Chains of 4 make obstacles for your opponent, who plays on the same screen in a separate panel.
If your interest has been piqued, ShadowOne333 and a group of editors and translators have released an English ROM of the game, although they note that the credits sequence still uses “Japanese names for the characters in the English alphabet”. The ROM contains the original Wrecking Crew and the 1998 sequel, too.