Super Full Metal Planet (SNES)

Three builds of this unreleased French game for the SNES were recently put out over at Hidden Planet. There was another version leaked many years ago, but that only had Italian and Swedish language options (with English text contained within the binary). The newer builds all have English as an option, but it seems unclear at first as to how they differ from each other and the original release.

Using file comparison software, it’s clear that there are certainly variations in all four prototypes. Prototype C seems to contain the most amount of data, so this may be the one to focus on. However, other builds may have better optimisation that might cut down on this additional content. Prototype A (SNES Central version) lacks the Infogrames screen, so this appears to be an earlier version to the other three. It also has Super Full Metal on the title screen, as opposed to Super Full Metal Planet. Prototype B has the full title, but the developer screen is before the Language Select option. In Prototype D, the Infogrames splash comes after the language options. Prototype C also has the Infogrames screen after the Language Select menu, so this seems to be the most advanced build:

- Prototype A (SNES Central release)
- Prototype B
- Prototype D
- Prototype C

Actual information on this Nintendo game is sparse, but SNES Central has a good article about Prototype A. As they point out, there’s no manual with the game so figuring out what to do can be a bit of a chore. There’re also the long periods when the CPU is considering what actions it wants to take.

Thankfully, there are other sources of information. One is the original board game on which the SNES game is based. This came out in France, but you can find images and translations of the manual online. Another reference point is the home computer version of the game. This did get an English release on a range of machines in 1989/90. The manual gives a good idea of what the game is about, although the controls for the SNES prototype are obviously squashed down as usual.

The aim is to land your freighter on one of twelve regions of the planet (a feature seemingly lacking in the single-map PC builds). There, you need to extract as much ore as possible before the tides rise and completely flood the area. Not only are you up against the terrain and tides, but rival mining companies are also there to grab the precious minerals.

You can pick one of eight factions (which differ from the PC versions of the game) and fight up to three CPU or human enemies. Four of these organisations are CPU-controlled, and they fight it out among themselves. As mentioned earlier, the computer takes a long time to make any moves, which means the game’s not going to end that soon.

As well as selecting different regions/terrains, you also have control over a number of vehicles:

Spaceship – your freighter and main base. This is where you place any ore for the flight off-planet.
Weather Hen – this can retrieve and transport ore from the surface and return it to the spaceship. It can also use ore to manufacture Crabs, tanks and other vehicles. It functions as a tide-monitor too.
Crab – this is used to retrieve and transport ore. It may be able to carry other vehicles.
Tank – one of four kinds of Destroyer vehicles. It can attack, destroy or capture enemy vehicles.
Heap – a larger version of the tank, this is another Destroyer.
Barge – a water vehicle for transporting ore or vehicles.
Attack Boat – a water-based Destroyer.
Pontoon – used to enable land vehicles to cross the water. It blocks the way of boats and barges.
Laser Turret – the last type of Destroyer, attached to each of the three pods of the spaceship.

Pressing Select during the main game brings up an options menu:

Exit - return to the game.
Terrain Map – a hex-based illustration of the level, showing vehicles, bases and current tides.
Alliance – create a peaceful alliance with another mining organisation.
Repair Turrets – fix any base turrets that have been damaged by enemy fire.
Lift Off – leave the planet surface from Turn 21 onwards.
Load – load a saved game.
Save – save your game.
Setup - set the number of joysticks in use, and choose the music. You can turn off animations as well.

Pressing A at various points in the main game will enable a menu at the bottom of the screen, with eight icons:

Move Vehicle – click on the vehicle and use the first icon to move it around the surface.

Action – use this second icon when highlighting the spaceship to deploy new vehicles. It is also used for other functions by vehicles such as the tanks.

Open Fire – this third icon is used to attack enemy vehicles when you are in range.

Capture Enemy – move two Destroyers next to an enemy, then highlight the hostile vehicle and click on the fourth icon to capture it. The colour on the back of the vehicle will change to that of your forces.

Manufacture Vehicle – click on the Weather Hen after you have picked up some ore. The fifth icon enables you to produce various vehicles from the ore.

Score – the sixth icon shows the current score for all sides in the game.

Tide Prediction – if you have deployed the Weather Hen, this seventh icon is used to predict the tide in the next turn.
End Turn – click on this end icon when you’re carried out any actions during your turn.

The tides in the SNES game change regularly and the terrain graphics alter accordingly, but it’s unclear how much this affects you if you’re on dry land.

You can attack your rivals with tanks, and the game has short animations of these battles. You can also use two of your own Destroyers to capture enemy vehicles and use them in your own army.

Firing on enemy craft is unclear to say the least. Some hexs may be under fire already, preventing you from moving into range of other vehicles. I’ve found that it’s best to move your tank near to the intended target, then clicking on the enemy and pressing A. This should bring up the menu and enable you to use the targeting button.

You should get the battle animation, although it may be your spaceship that takes the shot.

Once you have loaded up some ore, head back to the base ship and park the crab or hen on an adjacent hex. Move the arrow over the base and press A to bring up the menu. Select the Action icon (second one from left), but move the arrow off the Manufacture menu and down to either the Crab or the Hen. Press A to enable the relevant vehicle to enter the ship to drop off its ore.

All in all, this seems a fairly complete prototype that can be finished. Not all of the options or arcane rules have been found yet, but if you can get past the long CPU waiting times, it's an enjoyable game.


SNES Central Article
Level Maps
Game Story
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