Genre: Shmup Developer: Wonder Amusement Studio Publisher: Toyo Recording Players: 1 Released: 1992
Okay all you hardcore MD collectors out there…it’s time to get your paws on another underrated masterpiece. Basically, a Cotton game with MERCS gameplay (but far better), Twinkle Tale is one of the most magical and all-around-fun games to date.
Released in 1992 by WAS (Wonder Amusement Studio, I’ve never heard of them either) Twinkle Tale was pulled off store shelves shortly after its release. Few copies exist today and most sell for over $100 US. Now why would someone pay that much for a game a decade old? Well, for one, it’s likely one of the top 10 shooters of all time AND it’s compatible with the Sega Nomad. So relinquish your Game Cube (or current platform of choice) and grab a copy of one of the most enchanting 2D games ever.
Graphically, Twinkle Tale is far above the typical Genesis fair and is full of little things that will instantly leave a lasting impression. The fantasy theme is expressed well and each level has a fantastic amount of diversity. The explosions are some of the best to date and various details often please (i.e. the 3rd level in which you are high above sea level trampling across a rocky walk way). Some mistake this for a very late MD game but in fact, it’s a massive early achievement that shows not only the excellent skills of developer Wonder Amusement Studio but also just how capable a console the Genesis really was.
The music is a treat too. All you Cotton fans out there will love this! Whimsical inspiring themes set the mood of each stage in an art form with help of its splendid graphics. All are of fine quality and are never disappointing. The sound effects please as well, matching explosions and devoid of erroneous annoyances. Definitely above average.
As I mentioned earlier, it parallels MERCS with its horizontally-scrolling parts (you move forward and such) with some extremely fun/challenging gameplay. Most of the levels feature branching paths, allowing you to choose which way you’d like to go (all lead to the same place, though). But what really strikes you is the game’s learning curve- It’s near perfect. This really pumps up the replay value through the roof as options and challenge are possibly the best of any Genesis/MD game.
There are 3 weapons: a middle range fire that spreads widely across the screen, a condensed powerful fire that has limited width, and a homing fire that is weak. Each of these can be upgraded by collecting potions and they’re balanced fluidly and flawlessly. To make things fair, you lose a level of weapon power every time you take a hit. There are plenty of power up chests around, so this never really becomes a problem. The game is also pretty fair in how much life you’re given. It starts you off with a 3 slot life bar and extends one more after each level (oh, but the challenge raises to the task!) The bosses are INGENIOUS, featuring some extremely fine designs that fit theme and challenge. Really, really creative. The normal enemies are perfected as well, the entire game just flows with a precision that lets you know WAS took its dear time.
As I stated earlier, the game’s perfect learning curve increases Twinkle Tale‘s replay to higher than that of most other shooters on the system. Of course the slew of characters, gorgeous graphics, and spiteful tunes will have you coming back for more. If you’re looking for a great shooter that’ll last long than, you’ve got well more than your money’s worth here.
This is up there with Alien Soldier as one of the best 2D shmups of all time. This isn’t only a great shooter, but a mandatory one for your collection. So grab your pointed hat and crusted old broom for a magical journey you’ll never forget!