SNES A Day 200: The Blues Brothers

Approximate Release Month: June 1993
Genre: Platformer
Developer: Titus Software
Publisher: Titus Software

The Blues Brothers is extremely rough, but I had an enjoyable time playing through it.

I’m as surprised as anyone about that. The Blues Brothers is yet another misguided licensed product that probably shouldn’t exist. It’s not as dumb of an idea as Wayne’s World or the execrable The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle and Friends, though. There are at least car chases and gunfights in The Blues Brothers movie, which could lend themselves to a game.

There are no car chases or gunfights in The Blues Brothers, though. This is a very standard action-platformer. You play as one (or both, in the two-player cooperative mode) of the Blues Brothers with the goal of reaching the jukebox at the end of the stage. The game has 34 levels in all, with motifs ranging from sewers to warehouses to … uh, a fantasy land with giant mushrooms. There’s a recurring sorta-boss that’s a dragon-snake-thing you must jump on and ride to the end of the level.

And that’s the main problem with the game and probably why The Blues Brothers has such a negative reputation online. It is brazenly unconnected to the source material. It’s so discordant from expectations that it feels like something funny is being pulled. It’s as if the developers had hurriedly reskinned a long-lost The Great Giana Sisters sequel. It would explain a lot, actually. On a platform and an industry filled with bad ideas, The Blues Brothers is so poorly conceived that it feels dirty. Like a scam.

So, I feel some mix of concern and embarrassment that I quite like the game. It does itself no favors by opening with some very basic levels that don’t give a good first impression. It’s not until The Blues Brothers ups the difficulty a bit before you can really tell that the controls are fantastic. Precision jumping is not a problem and movement is responsive. I’d go so far to say that this is one of the best-controlling action games thus far on the Super Nintendo. I’m aware that this is a ridiculous statement to make.

Most levels have a gimmick, which can be annoying, but the levels are almost all short and not too challenging. Nothing egregious overstays its welcome, and the generous mid-level checkpoints mean that dying isn’t as awful as it could be. Too many stages are cycle-based, though, meaning that if you are just a bit too slow you’ll need to wait around for a platform or something to line up so you can continue on. On the flip side, a handful of later stages have some gentle puzzle elements that are neat diversions. One has you destroy blocks as you descend through the level so a trampoline will be waiting at the end to let you complete the level. These kinds of flourishes are simple, but it gives some of the levels in The Blues Brothers some texture that would otherwise be missing.

I do wish that the game wouldn’t repeat the same low-quality voice clip every time you pick up an item, though.

I don’t finish many games during coverage of SNES A Day. But it says something that I finished The Blues Brothers despite its obvious and myriad flaws. So obvious and myriad that I’m worried that I’m totally off-base with recommending this game. I had a lot of fun playing it, though!

Next time: The title Cacoma Knight in Bizyland tells you absolutely nothing about the game, and that’s rad.

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