1993 was a banner year in pop culture as we moved from early 90’s into mid 90’s …

We had Jurassic Park. We had pogs. We had Jurassic Park pogs.

One Savage brother show ended while a new one began

Collecting Monster In My Pocket had given way to Z-Bots

There were a few new landmark Halloween films

We had crystal-themed beverages, and thanks to a sort of hippie resurgence, even wore crystals and used them as deodorant…

One thing that was at the end of its hype though, was troll dolls. Though they’d come and gone for decades, their turn of the decade (1990) resurgence was fading fast. For several years they were all over the place and being marketed to death, but now that they were on the outs what better thing to do than jump the shark, revamp the concept, and make a TV show about a whole team of troll dolls…. that are also an extreme rock band… and also a bunch of beefy warrior archetypes… and also fight evil alien beings… and also wear large magically powered jewels on their chests. Thus, Stone Protectors, actually green lit with that concept, premiered in 1993, but only lasted a season. It was a shoddy cartoon and just plain hurt to watch but of course, action figures and other merchandise followed.

These nude freaks were all the rage.

Naturally, why not squeeze the last drop of marketability out of the troll doll craze and show by making a game of the rebranding of the dying trend – a whole year later! Thus, the SNES got a Stone Protectors game in mid 1994. Kemco lent its proud name to this game’s release which begins with a pretty neat intro that gives the players the full Stone Protectors back story. The evil Zok invades the palace of Mythrandir, home of Princess Opal.

The Palace of Mythrandir

 Zok, with his henchman Zink and various thugs make their way in, but Opal orders her collection of magic stones to flee the premise before they’re nabbed by our villain.

Opal. Princess and fashion victim.

All the jewels just fly away and escape – save for one that Zok ultimately captures.

Palette-swapped villains, Zok and Zink

The remaining five stones fly down to earth, enter a night club, and sort of “possess” a down-on-their-luck rock band, turning each of it’s members, Chester, Maxwell, Clifford, Angus, and Cornelius into The Stone Protectors. They get their own titles as well: respectively, wrestler, skater, rock climber, soldier, and samurai. Their lives must be going awfully to this point, as not unlike Toxic Avengers or Mutant League, they really don’t seem to care they’ve been horribly disfigured when chosen by fate and forced to abandon their normal lives and fight evil with terrible one-liners and a one-dimensional gimmick. It would suck if the stones targeted people who had their hearts set on a different destiny.

I’m sure you can tell that it’s borrowing from TMNT, wanting to cash in some on its success, just as Biker Mice From Mars or Street Sharks (not to be confused with Tiger Sharks, which were in turn, a rip off of Silver Hawks, …which were a rip off of Thundercats…. Can’t anyone plagiarize with a little subtlety!)

Granted, “weird” works when it comes to kid shows and it’s proven time and again as a great way to sells toys and to get at least one season of a show on the air. The name “The Stone Protectors” always seemed a bit ironic as they keep the gems right there on their chests – right there, in plain site! Sure, there’s wacky adventure to be had, but just put em in a security deposit box at the bank and go on with your lives.

As for the game play itself, it’s not bad at all, just very “vanilla.” The graphics are decent as is the music and the characters are all distinct and fun enough with their own themed abilities and special moves, but it can tend to feel repetitive and slow, and coming out when it did made it “a day late and a buck short.” TMNT: Turtles in Time set an incredibly high standard in action, side-scrolling earlier on in the SNES life cycle, and unless there was something that moved fast and fun like that game, or say Maximum Carnage, there’s a good chance that it’ll fall by the wayside.

The shameless milking of the troll doll thing reminds me of Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li (2009), a movie that was about 15 years late and not even released during any type of Street Fighter nostalgia kick. If it’s past it’s prime sometimes, it’s best to just let it go and rest in peace with a little dignity. Now if this game weren’t associated with the troll doll phenomena and started with an original premise, then you may have something with a little integrity as it is a fun, obscure little gem (pun intended). So, that being said, turn down that college alt-grunge radio, put away the Gak and give Stone Protectors a chance.

Michael A. Jones     nerdsintheburbs@gmail.com     www.nerdsintheburbs.com

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