Gain Ground

Genre: Action Developer: SIMS Publisher: Renovation Players: 1-2 Released: 1991

So…you like Herzog Zwei or Warsong? You haven’t seen anything until you’ve played Gain Ground, a must-have for the Genesis. At first, Gain Ground looks like some sort of fan made title with slow movement and few characters. I didn’t plan on buying it until I could test it further and unveiled its stunning and undeniable brilliance and addicting play. This is the stuff dreams are made of.

Gain Ground was developed for the Genesis/Mega Drive in 1992 thanks to Renovation. Never reaching half its deserved praise and lacking proper marketing, this title has remained virtually unseen for years. Only recently have some uncovered its greatness and I’m here to let more experience its magical splendor. The plot of Gain Ground is a little foreign to me: you travel through over 50 (yes, 50!) stages either killing all enemies or getting all your characters through the exit. Each stage is increasingly more fun as the game progresses through history, first starting with ancient times with crossbows and horses leading up to cars, missiles and other major weaponry. Add in the fantastic 2-player mode and you can forget every SWAT and Diablo PC game you’ve ever played.

Gain Ground ’s weak point is its looks, as is with most early strategy games. The background (or grounds) are fairly well illustrated as are the character pictures themselves. Unfortunately there are no awesome effects to impress here but splitting missiles and tons of grenades will do the trick just fine. There’s never any slowdown and that’s always a plus. Just don’t expect any fancy artistry here.

Contrary to the graphics, the game boasts some of the best music on the Genesis. These themes are incredibly long and don’t loop for several minutes. There are fantastic scores for every ten stages, setting feel for each time period. Nothing makes a strategy game more enjoyable than wondrous music while you’re thinking about a flank attack. The excellent themes that fill Gain Ground are a credit to the genre.

The levels are short and brilliantly designed with a wonderful learning curve. There are 50 of these short stages divided into groups of 10, each representing their own time period. At the end of each stage awaits a massive boss to take down. Eliminate him and you move on to the next area, where a wide array of illustrious enemies with varying skills and attacks force you to come to a dead stop and think things out. I’ve only just begun. You start with three primitive characters fighting enemies with crossbows and arrows. Once approximately every two stages you find a hostage, a new character to add to your line-up. The further along you are, the more powerful the new character is. Eventually you can work your way up to lasers, bazookas, and fire bombs. Each character has two attacks: a normal fire and a “special” which can range from shooting in two directions to creating tornadoes to obliterate your nemesis. However, there’s a twist to all of this. You can finish the stage by eliminating all your enemies (watch out for the time limit) or by getting all your characters to the well-guarded exit. This creates constant obstacles and creative challenges to overcome and explore. The enemies range from wizards that disappear to charging swordsman. Fire up the 2-player mode and you have an action-packed strategy game you can’t stop playing. Truly a time killer in the gameplay department.

It will take months to finish this incredibly challenging title and even then, you’ll return with a friend to take down those darn archers from the roof tops. The strategy involved will work your mind to its full potential in setting traps and sneak attacks either by yourself or by plotting with a friend. The fun is endless. The great music serves as a fantastic bonus and the massive amount of potential team mates and long levels offer a lot to do. With over 20 unique characters, over 50 unique enemies, 9 bosses, and 50 levels; Gain Ground never fails to impress.

I’m not a big strategy fan but if GG can sway me, it can convince you that it’s a must-own title for the Genesis. Pick this gem up off ebay and bribe your buddy to take some hours out of his weekend. You won’t regret it.

SCORE: 10 out of 10

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  1. goldenband says:

    Absolutely terrific game that represents one of the real high points in the Genesis library. It’s challenging, has loads of replay value, and is fun as hell (especially in co-op mode), with a great mix of strategic and action-oriented gameplay. Since I’m not bothered by the lo-fi graphics or the middling (but inoffensive) music, it gets 10/10 from me.

  2. Greg J says:

    For a game where the graphics look this bad, this thing is surprisingly fun. The gameplay is pretty addictive and you’ll have a hard time putting it down once you get a feel for the game. The music is almost as bad as the graphics though, so eventually you’ll get the urge to turn the volume down, or mute it completely. Despite the graphics and lame music this game is somehow still decent. Definitely not a 10, but still inexplicably addictive fun. 7/10 from me.

    Protip: Play on Hard mode and you’ll get all 20 characters to start.

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