Every time I see a list of the ‘Top X underrated NES games’, Shatterhand invariably makes the list (and Nightshade doesn’t). I just can’t fathom why, unless these people are playing a different version of the game than I did, or if they’ve been hoodwinked somehow to believe that mediocrity is greatness. Because Shatterhand isn’t that good of a game.

Like a lot of NES games, the story in Shatterhand is largely immaterial. All you need to know is that you have a guy who has cybernetically-enhanced arms, making his superpower the ability to punch things real hard.


So you have to take your punchy little guy up against wave after wave of enemies that have projectile weaponry and/or a longer punching reach than you for some reason or another. Oh, and you can choose what order you want to tackle the stages in, Mega Man style!

One of the other things that the zealots will point to is the weird little mech that follows you around. See, throughout the stages you collect little icons with either an α or a β on them. Collect three of them and you get a little robot thing that hovers around you giving you a little bit of support, and a little complimentary projectile attack to your nearly impotent punches.

But, honestly, I stopped caring pretty much right away.

The game is hard, but that’s not usually a problem for me. Unless the difficulty comes from difficult controls or a particularly bizarre game play mechanic. This game suffers from the latter. Your little guy isn’t very maneuverable and he has to get right up in the face of the enemies and try to hit them with your understandably small punching radius. If you’re skilled enough you can have your little floating robot buddies live long enough to meet the bosses, but usually it ends up being you running impotently around the room while the boss leaps around like a maniac and lands just out of range of your Fists of Fury ™, whittling down your health and eventually making you swear off this game.

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