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Reader Roundtable Vol. 19

We kick off our third year the only way we know how: playing Genesis games! This month, staff and readers share a multitude of games from all types of genres, though some fared better than others in their choices. Regardless of which games are being played, there’s always something new to share!

 

RoboCop vs. Terminator By Ken Horowitz

Some games are hard, and some are brutal enough to make your fingers bleed. Using that criteria, Robocop vs. Terminator should make both your hands explode by the second stage. I know that Robo is a big, metal guy out for justice, but it seems that this time every single baddie on Earth is gunning for him, and they’ve using the Official Antagonist Tracking System (OATS) to follow his every move. No matter where you go, no matter how many you kill, there is no respite for Murphy in this game. Thugs, terminators, and even ol’ ED209 himself are relentless, and dying is a very common occurrence here. This game is hard my friends, really hard.

That’s fine with me though. Being the scrub that I am (yeah, I admit it, so what?), I quickly made use of the code that blesses you with fifty lives. It took just about all of them, but I was actually able to beat the last boss. He alone took twenty-two of my robo reserves, and the sense of closure I felt after beating this game after more than a decade of dueling was great indeed. Looking back now, I’m glad I gave Robocop vs. Terminator one last chance. This is an awesome game, gritty and violent (very much in context with the subject matter), and it makes use of all the elements that made both series so great. Now all I need is a copy of the Dark Horse Comics trade paperback and I’ll be set!

Crayon Shin-Chan By Vince Thornburg

Today’s game may just be the most unusual game throw-in in this months Roundtable. After becoming a fan of Crayon Shin-Chan from Adult Swim, I soon remembered that a Mega Drive game existed (hell, a Wii game exists too, but I currently have no modded Wii) After searching around a bit, JapanGameStock.com had a loose copy that after shipping I was able to pick up for $21! After short delivery time, I quickly broke out my Game Genie and hoped I wouldn’t need a region unlock code.

I didn’t. The game started up with the only problem being the Sega logo being slightly glitchy. Other than that, the game plays fine! I now just need to figure out what the hell i’m doing! At the moment, it seems I need to jump on my friends around town to collect cards, which then are used to…..hurt my friends around town. I’m sure if I spoke Japanese I’d know what’s going on around the other houses when I enter them, then I’d figure out at least what kind of story we’ve got here. The game also features a collection of mini games from different characters from the show. Unfortunately, knowing exactly what to do would involve, yep, knowing Kanji. While I’m trying to figure these things out, I can still enjoy the graphics and the music, which work out real well with my system. I’m glad I picked this up, and for the price; it’s fun and worth the learning process.

Tecmo Super Baseball By Tom Briggs

For me, summer is all about enjoying America’s favorite past-time, baseball. I’ve been a fan of the game for as long as I can remember, and I’ve been especially fond of video game adaptations of the sport. My favorite game of them all happens to be stuck in my Genesis: Tecmo Super Baseball. Thanks to this game and its use of the MLBPA license, I was able to memorize the rosters of every single team (’94 rosters, of course). The game helped foster my growing obsession with baseball, something I am very thankful for today.

Tecmo sure used to know how to make some addictive sports titles. Like Tecmo Super Bowl, hours can fly by without notice while playing this game. Super Baseball focuses on the pitcher-hitter dynamic, allowing the batter to choose a style of hitting (ex: power or contact) and the pitcher to choose what type of pitch will be thrown. What makes this more interesting, though, is the different pitches available to different pitchers. Super Baseball does a great job of replicating how each player actually plays. Tony Gwynn (my hometown hero) won’t be hitting 20 home runs, but he sure will have a sky-high average. Tecmo Super Baseball is an absolute must-have for fans of the sport. Besides Sega’s own World Series Baseball, no other game comes close to replicating the greatness of the game.

Top Gear 2 By Nick Gibson

It’s pretty easy to get caught up in the spirit of a system and look at its library through rose colored glasses. After all, look at all those awesome games on your shelf! The problem is that even a console like the Genesis has its bad games. For every Phantasy Star IV there is a Fatal Labyrinth, for every Streets of Rage 2 there is a Double Dragon… or four, and for every Outrunners there is a…please, no…a Top Gear 2. As a younger gamer who never saw the Genesis’ original run, I sometimes find it hard to believe that ANYONE could pay a few bucks (much less 49.99) for certain games. This is one of those games that gives me nightmares about myself in Toys R Us back in ’91, laying down a General Grant in naive expectation of next-gen power. Truth be told, this game sucks with the sort of velocity one would expect from a shop vacuum. Crappy music, crappy graphics, boring boring boring BORING! Why Vic Tokai ever saw need to release something like this is beyond my comprehension. (I can see it now, at the conference: “We need a sequel. Let’s see… Trouble Shooter was popular, but I dunno…does anyone really want to play Battle Mania 2? Wait, what about that racing game?!!”) Do not touch this cart, or even its ROM. You might get a very infectious disease.

King Colossus: Tougi Ou By Carl-Johan Brax

Sometimes Japanese game developers decide not to release their game in the west, even though its console has sold many times more there. They probably already had enough money and wanted the game to become ultr@ r@re instead. This is the case of King Colossus, an action/RPG co-created by the genius Yoshibon, who’s been involved in such classics as Phantasy Star II, III: Generations of Doom and IV.

I like different games for different reasons. Shining in the Darkness makes me draw maps on my own, which is very fun to use. Beggar Prince forces me to use my brain a bloody lot in its puzzles, which I find entertaining; and King Colossus is laid-back, simple and easy to play, so I can just relax and play it without too much thought. The dungeons consist of pretty much only foes, chests and empty rooms. You pick up keys and bombs to find your way. You level up by defeating enemies, which I prefer before picking up stuff that makes you stronger. The hero is very versatile when it comes to weapons, unlike those dudes in Final Fantasy VII, who can only wield one weapon each. My favourites are the yo-yo type weapons, which make good protection from the somewhat sloppy controls and faster enemies. The game might be easy, not long and a little unpretty, but the most important thing is having fun when you play, and that is what King Colossus is so good to deliver. Characters and story are far better than most of the other action-RPGs on the system.

I bought Monster World IV (another action/RPG left in Japan) at the same time as I bought this game. King Colossus is a lot cheaper, and still better than Monster World IV in all points except for graphics and controls. So this is a good example of this rule: just because a game is obscure and cheap doesn’t mean it is worse than famous and expensive ones!

King Colossus was translated by MIJET, a translation group far better than those lazy asses at Sega of America. Just check out this comparison. In the English version of King Colossus, you can have eight letters in your character’s name and some bugs from the Japanese version are eliminated. In the English Phantasy Star II, you can only have four letters in your character’s name and the sound is also screwed up. I used the Tototek MD-Pro Flash Card to play this game on my Sega Mega Drive. It is so much better than doing it on emulators. Only the best is good enough for me!

Warsong By Zack Young

Warsong is one of the best and most addicting strategy titles for the Genesis. It’s one of the first in a long series of Langrisser games that, while extremely popular in Japan, never really picked up steam in the west. Warsong tells the tale of Prince Garret of the Baltia Kingdom, which comes under attack by the overly ambitious Dalsian Empire. The plot is one of the weakest points of the game, not because it’s terrible, but because the scripting is mostly hilarious rather than successful. The gameplay is the selling point here. You play through twenty war scenarios with a number of Generals that you acquire throughout the game. Generals are extremely powerful units on the field of battle. Each General can command a certain number of troops; their type is determined by what type the General is. These troops are relatively inexpensive and dispensable, but they will be the cornerstone of any successful battle. Furthermore, as a gesture in the way of customization, Generals can be promoted after reaching level ten to new classes, from which you get to choose. To add consistency to excellence, a good portion of the game is reasonably difficult, and the missions that are easier come at natural intervals. The first few battles, for example, are quite easy to get the player comfortable with the system. Even better, there’s an ungodly soundtrack to the game that is quite intense and immerses one completely.

Now, all of this isn’t to say that Warsong doesn’t have its faults. To start with, there’s very little in the way of eye-candy. The graphics are slightly poor-looking all around, but as one plays the graphical style becomes natural and intense, all part of the flow of the game. Worse are the spells that can be cast; rather than acting as anything remotely impressive, you’ll soon come to regard them in a utilitarian light as being quite necessary. The other two problems are the longevity of the scenarios and the difficulty of the game. All the scenarios take quite a bit of time to complete. Besides having to carefully plan your strategy, when units initiate battle against each other the screen switches to a special battle screen in which you see the two platoons fighting away. Awesome as this is, it makes battles take much longer. The difficulty can get overwhelming at times, especially considering that once a General is dead, he stays dead. There are one or two generals you can dispense of and not be any worse off for, but this can be quite frustrating. The last problem is that the troops face each other in a rough rock/paper/scissors fashion. Certain types of troops are suited to taking out other types of troops, most of the time. There is no hard and fast rule to this however, and a group of foot-soldiers can slaughter cavalry while archers sometimes smash foot-soldiers. Despite these flaws, Warsong is awesome and gripping, and it should not be missed.

Star Control By Denis O’Donoghue

Star Control, a complete classic which for some reason never seems to get banded about. What can I say, I got this game a few months back in a second hand-store and popped it into the Mega Drive as soon as I got home. What did I see? A little object about the size of a pea with a mini-pea shooter of a weapon, I was devastated (as you would be if Zero Tolerance was the other game you got with it) what was this load of crap?! However, what transpired over the following weeks was legendary; the game became embedded as a classic in my college house.

It didn’t take long to find out that melee was incredible fun, two sets of seven spaceships each with their own unique characteristics battling it out for control of the galaxy! A very similar system to team battle mode in Tekken this became our meat and drink for 3 college weeks. Just as in any fine game, it was an evolutionary process with each of us perfecting the art of flight, a different one of us evolving new skills to become the best for a short space of time before another would surpass him, chanting and roaring ensued until four o’clock most mornings.

Star Control has charm beyond belief with those cheap animations of the space drivers on the right of the screen, quirky music for each ship and of course the evil ruler of the galaxy the outrageous dreadnought; Ur-Quan of the Hierarchy!

Kid Chameleon By Daniel Smith

Kid Chameleon is awesome. It has been mentioned a number of times in previous reader round tables and now I figured I’d give my opinion. As a child I had many long attempts at completing this game only to fail miserably and never progressing beyond the Ice God’s Vengeance. Kid Chameleon is in the same vein as Super Mario Bros., except Kid has more attitude, more awesome and is just far more manly than the fat Brooklyn plumber could ever be. A couple of years ago I managed to complete it for the first time. After five hours of grappling with the game I overcame the final boss and was able to enjoy the thirty second ending sequence. The other night I settled down and managed to romp through the entire game in three and a half hours. God it was awesome. The final few levels in the fourth world are treacherous, arduous struggles where everything must be performed perfectly else you will be hearing the word “Die!” and boy do you get to hear that a lot. This game with have you writhing with annoyance and frustration, especially when it forces you to surrender the awesome Cyclone character in order to drill through a few annoyingly placed blocks as the Iron Knight. It is hardcore platforming brilliance at its finest. It only saddens me that they never made a sequel.

Andre Agassi Tennis By Tom Lenting

A while ago I reviewed the excellent Pete Sampras Tennis for this site. In that review I also noted my thoughts about Andre Agassi Tennis, which weren’t too positive. This month, I decided to give Agassi’s merchandise another chance. My opinions about the game were confirmed once more. In contrary to Agassi’s colorful personality, his game looks and sounds very grainy; however, the biggest problems are not the abysmal graphics and sound, but the controls. They’re so inaccurate, imprecise and sloppy that returning a ball over the net is an almost impossible chore, which isn’t a great recommendation for a tennis game. Nope, there’s not fun in this one, it’s just one of those games you try for half a minute and then switch off. You didn’t see Agassi in the game? Well, he was there: he still had all his hair back then, so maybe you didn’t recognize him!

Streets of Rage By Trey Mannan

A game that I am happy to discuss in the Reader Roundtable this month is Streets of Rage. I know I covered the third game a couple of months back, but now I’ve decided to go back and try my hand at the first game. I’ve been playing a lot of SOR lately, and to be very honest I am very upset at Sega for disrespecting this legendary franchise by letting it fade away. Sega, shame on you! The first game in the series is freaking awesome, and you have Axel, Blaze, and Adam (who in my opinion rocks). You also have the very best music the Genesis has to offer, and as well as the amazing bosses. If you have a Genesis, be sure that this is the first game you buy, because it truly is a wonderful addition to any collection.

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