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The Satellaview online service for the Super Famicom didn't rely on tweaked versions of classic titles all of the time. In 1998 Nintendo released an update to the classic NES game Wrecking Crew and threw in a new puzzle mode to boot in the form of Wrecking Crew '98 (also sometimes incorrectly known as Mario Wrecking Crew '98). While the original Wrecking Crew mode is a faithful adapation of the classic game, it's the new puzzle mode that makes this game shine.

The puzzle mode screen is divided into two vertical pieces like other 2-player falling-block puzzlers of the day. Mario (that's you, the gamer) works on the left section, while the opponent works on the right side. Like in Kirby's Avalanche/Tetris Attack/etc. the opponent varies from level to level. As Mario progresses through the game he is challenged by Goombas, Koopa Troopas, and other baddies from the Koopa Troop. Each play section is divided into multiple levels (as in sections of floor). Mario carries his trusty hammer and must smash the different colored pieces in order to cause three-of-a-kind of pieces to line up, causing them to disappear. New blocks continually appear on the stacks, and when the stack reaches the top of the screen, Mario loses. The object is to cause enough blocks to vanish in sequence to cause a chain reaction, thereby filling the other play section with enough blocks to put the Koopa Troop member over the top. Confused yet? Well, there's more to it. On each level (again, floor section) there is a small crank that Mario (and Koopa Troopa) can turn to cause the nearby row of blocks to shift to the right one space for each crank. Thus the two ways of making blocks line up is to either smash the ones you don't want into dust or line up the ones you do want with the crank. And what's a puzzle game without obstacles? If Mario (or the enemy) can set off enough chain reactions in a single move, different things will happen to the enemy's play field. Unbreakable steel blocks could litter the play field or a bulldozer could stun the opposing player for a moment.

All in all BS Wrecking Crew '98 is a fun romp, particularly in puzzle mode. The game was never released as a stand-alone game pak outside of Japan and was available mainly as a part of the Satellaview system. The ROM lives on the Internet these days, however. Personally I feel that Nintendo is overlooking an excellent puzzler and hope that it someday appears on the Game Boy Advance.

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