I do not know anyone who has lived in the nineties and who does not know the classic Snow Bros. by Toaplan, the most recognizable work in the world by this Japanese studio sadly disappeared in 1994. Those snowmen as protagonists were common in all arcades or any bar …

In essence, it was an evolution of the 1986 Taito Bubble Bobble, but with a major difference when it comes to catching enemies, using snowballs. The appeal of its phases, its cooperative mode and the challenge it entailed (despite its innocent appearance) did the rest until it became a whole reference from 1990 where there were no shortage of imitators, like Tumblepop or Joe & Mac Returns.

A timeless classic from the Toaplan studio

Having recently done a retrospective on the best classics of 1990, we want to remember this gem of Toaplan more thoroughly, but through its little-known conversion to Mega Drive, developed by the studio itself in 1993 and exclusive to Japan. The funny thing is that the Asian edition of SEGA Mega Drive Mini included Snow Bros., being a whole collector’s item.

Regarding the recreational, in the conversion to the 16-bit SEGA console there were no appreciable changes in its graphics, being an adaptation that had nothing to envy to the arcade. What’s more, he surpassed it for a weighty detail: had more phases. And older, an introductory scene was added to put us in the position about what had happened with Nick and Tom and their respective princesses.

The game style remained the same, having to defeat the enemies covering them with snowballs, until creating a large ball that covered them completely to launch them rolling. The funny thing is that we could move said ball slowly, without throwing it, to draw up a strategy, or simply partially cover them to stun them and wait for the right moment when there were more enemies in the area, to eliminate as much as possible with a single “bowling” shot. .

That risk (with patience) used to be rewarded, by increasing the chances of getting a bonus that caused a kind of tiny “cookie monsters” to pop out and drop a letter. If we put the four together, forming SNOW, we were granted an extra life.

Snow Bros. and the art of playing with snowballs

There were other essential elements in each phase, which also came out randomly: the potions. The reason is that they made the task of progressing through each plant much easier, seeing how the red potion increased our speed, along with the blue one that enhanced our shot, without neglecting the yellow one, which extended the distance of the shot itself. The one that was least seen was the green one, which inflated the protagonists to fly and kill everything in its path for a few seconds.

Every ten phases, there was a boss. And replaying it now, a greater variety is needed for the design of the scenarios, as well as for the standard enemies, which were repeated in excess, with minor exceptions. At least in Mega Drive, more variety was provided in the final section, with 20 extra phases, which completely turned the tables: now we controlled the princesses Puripuri and Puchipuchi to rescue Nick and Tom. A rather interesting twist on the SEGA console.

It should be said that the melodies were also improved and a password system was introduced when each boss was beaten, so as not to have to redo the 70 phases of the pull of this version. The pity is that Toaplan did not implement improvements in the control, since it is still missing being able to jump down on the platforms, which forces us to take many detours in the phases with more convoluted design.

Despite the success and recognition of Snow Bros.It only had a sequel. It was in 1994. To top it all, it was Toaplan’s last game, coinciding with the year of his disappearance due to bankruptcy. Hence Snow Bros. 2: With New Elves it has only been in arcade. A shame, because we continue to remember it fondly.

Has it stood the test of time well?

YesFor a reason, it remains one of the references of its genre. Snow Bros. is the kind of game that you hardly forget and of which it does not matter that it can be improved today with more functions for control. For quick games, always feel like it. And if it’s with someone else’s company, so much the better.

Snow Bros.

Platforms Arcade, Amiga, Game Boy, NES and Mega Drive (analyzed version)
Multiplayer Yes, local (two players)
Developer Toaplan
Company Tengen
Launch 1993 (Mega Drive)
Price Not available

The best

  • A benchmark of a 100% arcade genre
  • Those caroms with the snowballs
  • The 20 extra phases of Mega Drive


  • Not being able to jump down from platforms
  • Standard enemies were repeated a lot
  • And above all, the closure of Toaplan

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