Retro Game Of The Week: Sanrio World Smash Ball! (Super Famicom)

By all rights, I should loathe a deliberately cutesy Hello Kitty themed game. Instead, I adore it. Here’s why Sanrio World Smash Ball is a must-add to your Super Nintendo collection.

In Retro Game Of The Week I pull a game from my collection and write about why it’s important or interesting. Or in some cases, badly dated and rubbish.

I’m not a big fan of the deliberately cutesy market. Fair play to you if that’s what gets you all warm and tingly inside.

All those slightly dead-eyed baby dolls, or puppy dogs with oversized goofy expressions, or anything that’s absolutely drenched in pink simply to appear more “cute” tends to really annoy me.

Maybe I'm just a grumpy old man or something. It's always possible.
Maybe I’m just a grumpy old man or something. It’s always possible.

As such, I’m not the prime market for anything in the Sanrio/Hello Kitty universe.

Except this game. Because it’s quietly brilliant.

Only released in Japan, Sanrio World Smash Ball! doesn’t look like all that much.

It’s more or less an air hockey game that uses the Sanrio characters – though notably (and thankfully) not Hello Kitty beyond the packaging, or for that matter Gudetama if you’re a fan of depressed eggs — as your playable character choices.

Each has, in that classic Mario Kart style their own strengths and weaknesses, so you get balanced characters, fast ones, defensive ones and so on.

FINISH HIM! No, wait, wrong game. This one gets far more heated.
FINISH HIM! No, wait, wrong game. This one gets far more heated.

The differences aren’t that profound, honestly, so you can have fun with whichever character model you really prefer.

In single player mode, Sanrio World Smash Ball! is decent, if a little on the bland side. Levels vary up the arrangement of the court, so that sometimes you’re defending an open field, while others create narrow corridors for you to whack the puck down with high speed reverberation.

There’s honestly not a lot of depth here, even with a mix of simple button press shots and more intense charged shots to mix up your strategies.

If Sanrio World Smash Ball! were single player only, I’d probably ignore it on my games shelf much of the time.

Where it absolutely shines, however, is in two player mode.

It’s absolutely one of those games that anyone can pick up quickly, because the button inputs are limited, and most of us get the basic idea behind what is (more or less) table tennis.

Or if you want to go old-school Mac on this, Shufflepuck Cafe.

Drop Sanrio World Smash Ball into your SNES, drop a SNES/SFC controller into the hands of another human player and it is, to put it simply, ON.

It's on like... this fella.

Exactly so, my hairy chum.

There absolutely is something to be said for simple games that can appeal to a wide audience. Just… try to keep the betting on matches to a minimum, OK folks?

How To Play Sanrio World Smash Ball! Now

It's a bit of a hidden secret this one -- but it's also one of the best two player games in the entire SNES/SFC library.
It’s a bit of a hidden secret this one — but it’s also one of the best two player games in the entire SNES/SFC library.

My copy is cart-only, and if I recall correctly it came from the Super Potato branch in Ikebukuro.

Can’t say for sure that they’d have another copy, but if you’re in the district, you could always go check there.

Ahem. That’s probably not that helpful for you, now is it?

Copies like mine as cart-only tend to go for around $20-40 on eBay, while a boxed copy will run you about $100-$150.

Like so many licensed games, there’s a lot in the way of this one getting a rerelease, and as far as I can tell, that’s never actually happened, not even in Japan.

Which is a pity, because it’d be a pretty easy update, and it is a great two player experience.

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