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Reader Roundtable Vol. 21

Summer is over, and for many it is time to head back to school. With one last big weekend before the start of the fall semester, it’s time to squeeze in as many hours of quality gaming as possible before control pads give way to textbooks and assignments. Our staff and readers have been making the most of it, and they’re not ashamed to let the world know!

 

Sonic The Hedgehog By Ken Horowitz

I won’t deny it – my Genesis playing hasn’t been all that much the last few weeks. With the birth of my second daughter and the first one starting school, I haven’t had all that much free time for the ol’ Genesis. Add to that the release of Bioshock and Blue Dragon for the Xbox 360, and my free time is pretty much gone. No, wait. That’s not entirely true. Xbox Live Arcade has allowed me to get in some Genesis time without having to fire up the console itself. I spent a lot of time playing Sonic The Hedgehog, which is a bit harder than I remember it being (I chalk it up to the inclusion of achievements). Ecco the Dolphin arrived a bit later, and Streets of Rage hit this past Wednesday (can you say “online co-op?), but I want to give the Blue Blur his due before moving on to those two. I’ve pretty much regained my Sonic skills, but that darn “Fast Marble” speed run achievement somehow continues to elude me…

Doom By Vince Thornburg

I know, I know… who hasn’t played Doom in some way or another over the years? Whether it’s on PC or one of the assorted consoles. We can pretty much play by with closed eyes and still find the 200HP orb, or the hidden chainsaws. Despite everyone knowing every enemy, including hit point counts and where each and everyone starts off, there’s a reason this devotion exists, even if it seems like it’s too old to really care much for anymore.

This game is STILL fun as hell! I recently acquired it and popped it in while trying them all out. I was taken back to years ago to when I originally played Doom on a friends PC years before. Go straight forward, no wait! There’s health vials to the left! Run through, shoot ’em all! I found the exit! Wait, there’s that ledge with the dead imp! Go back! Secret passageway! I still love this game!

It’s pretty much been the most played game I own recently, whenever I’m not working. Sure, I’ll get bored eventually, and put it back with the others, but for now I still need to play completely through this game and forget this version has the worst music of any original Doom port.

Night Trap By Glenn Uhlendorf

Any game that is described by multiple U.S. Senators (Joseph Lieberman and Herbert Kohl) as being “shameful,” “ultra-violent,””sick,””disgusting,” and “promoting child abuse” definitely deserves a spot in my Sega CD library. Throw full motion video, a slumber party full of young teenagers that is being overrun by augers/vampires, and a Sega task force that is their only hope which is commanded by yours truly, and there is most certainly a good time to be had. Sure the acting won’t be winning any awards anytime soon and the gameplay can get to be somewhat repetitive, but that does not change the fact that within five minutes into Night Trap you will be having a good time, whether that be through the actual gameplay itself, or laughing at it is up to you. If you’re looking for a crazy plot, some FMV entertainment, and a few guaranteed laughs, check out this MA-17 classic. I’m on the hunt for a complete copy as we speak (seriously, I like this game; look for a review soon!).

Trouble Shooter By Nick Gibson

Maybe I’m just overly sentimental, but Trouble Shooter exudes that forgotten 16-bit style. Maybe you know what I mean – those throbbing, indescribable technopunk machinations in the background, technically unimpressive (but oh-so-memorable) tunes, and an ending that makes me feel like a lonesome hunter, too. I think that’s what makes me come back to Trouble Shooter again and again even when flashier shmups are sitting nearby. It, like Heavy Nova, just has that awesome feel to it. And, unlike Heavy Nova, it actually doesn’t suck! Indeed, in terms of gameplay this is a dapper little offering with good mechanics, lots of firepower, and finely tuned difficulty levels. It’s not the most common game ever, but it’s cheap. BINs on eBay go for about $15 shipped, and I got mine CIB in the wild for $5. It’s certainly worth it, although those with the means might want to snag the import version, as the Stateside cover art is…uh…a little lacking.

Star Wars Arcade By Carl-Johan Brax

It’s been a bloody long time since I played some nice two-player co-op on my Mega Drive with my brother. When Star Wars Arcade entered the building, as well as my brother after his summer camp, were things about to change? I had actually played the game for about a week by myself, and it is very hard then. You are a X-Wing pilot with the mission to destroy the Empire, set in first or third person perspective. Usually there are fifteen or more TIE-Fighters that must be shot down within two hundred seconds. The time limit is usually not the problem – the graphics are. The distance visibility is very poor, which means you very often can’t see cannons or TIE-Fighters before they have started shooting at you. The scrolling is also very choppy and slow, which makes hard to make evading moves.

With that said, I can only add that Star Wars Arcade has the colours of a Master System game and (except for the main theme) the music of an American-programmed Genesis game. If you read the interview with Steven Lashower, you will see why. It is still pretty fun to play this game. It brings me back memories of Descent and Rogue Squadron, which I had lots of fun with many years ago. It’s a blast hearing the exploding sounds of your enemies. Because the game is so hard when playing alone, I recommend getting a friend to play with you. The frustration decreases, because one player can focus on shooting down enemies while the other evades the danger and also shoots. You also get an extra shield. Me and my brother were able to beat the Super Star Destroyer level together after only a few tries, something I never could do alone. We still have loads to do before we are finished with the game though. Hopefully we will have at least half the fun of what we had with Contra, a game where we saw all six endings.

I bought this game sealed for $5. You will probably have more fun with it than with bacon for the same amount. But when eating Star Wars Arcade, you get the feeling it could have been a damn fine Yule Ham if Sega just gave it a little more effort and time.

Ys III: Wanderers from Ys By Joe Redifer  

Despite being the black sheep of the Ys family, I enjoy Ys III’s side scrolling-ness. Sure, the controls aren’t exactly the best, but they’re workable. I thought about doing a side-by-side article comparing the Turbo, Genesis and SNES versions, but I don’t have the SNES version of the game and I can’t seem to conjure up decent emulators for the Turbo CD. The save-state method in Magic Engine no longer seems to work, and that’s annoying to have to do every five minutes anyway… and I’m not paying for an emulator that won’t even run my games correctly! I have no idea how I did my previous side-by-side articles.

However, I’ll make a brief attempt here. All three versions can be beaten in one sitting of only a few hours. I played the Turbo version before I played the Genesis version, so as a result the Genesis version felt silky-smooth and far superior technically despite the loss of colors. The music in the Genesis stands up very well to the Turbo CD tunes, considering the format differences, though the CD tunes obviously win by a large margin. I don’t remember a lot about the SNES version. But Ys 3 is a good game. I still need to beat Ys 4 which has been translated, but the voices are all still in moon language. And that makes me sad. I’d like them to be subtitled at least.

Atomic Runner By Damien Jennison

When things kick off by you finding your wounded father where your laboratory used to be and it starts with that word, you expect him to rasp a single utterance before passing on to the other side. Sadly, I am always ones to find examples to the contrary of anything. In Atomic Runner, your father’s last breath not only explains what happened, but also that some ancient aliens are invading, that you were building a super suit, what it does and that your sister’s been kidnapped. Either he had some powerful lungs or he spoke VERY fast. And after being told the plot in a nutshell, you’re kidnapped by the aliens and tortured. Nice.

So when the game finally STARTS with you trying to break out, you’d think it’s going to be an action-fest of blasting aliens in your super suit and saving the day, right? Wrong. Data East impress once again by presenting you the one man whose super suit is made of wet tissue paper, as all an alien needs to do is TOUCH you for you to have a heart attack and die. A super suit so powerful you have to press the C button AND the opposite direction you are facing to turn. A super suit so amazing that you can’t shoot up but most importantly of all, this suit must have no reserve, because you can’t run backwards. At all. If a power up is behind you, tough luck. That to me is hampering, adding to the fact that turning around is a chore that’ll get you killed more often then not. Did I mention that the default difficulty is three lives and no continues? All of this added to a game do frustrating I could only play it for ten minute sat a time.

So why am I still playing it? The first level music. It’s so darn catchy that I’ll play through torture just to listen to it. It’s a nice enough looking game and the sounds are fitting and sound good, but when you wish that the aliens had managed to finish breaking the heroes will and converting him to one of their lackeys instead of him breaking free, you know that a game doesn’t have what it takes.

Sonic The Hedgehog 2 By Daniel Smith

This month I have probably spent the most time with Sonic The Hedgehog 2. Personally, this game represents everything good and wholesome about the Mega Drive. I remember the day I bought my new Mega Drive (after saving up my pocket money for the best part of a year). The beautiful day arrived when I was able to unhook the ZX Spectrum from the TV and insert my awesome new Mega Drive. Sonic The Hedgehog 2 was a real treat and even now I still enjoy bouncing through the levels, sometimes collecting rings, sometimes sprinting, sometimes just casually taking the game as it comes. Back then, however, I only got as far as the Mystic Cave Zone before my parents pulled me off the console to go to a friend’s party (and that git did not remain my friend for much longer after depriving me of some quality time with my beloved Mega Drive). If one thing stops Sonic The Hedgehog 2 from reaching perfection it would be the omission of interracial lesbians, but aside from that minor gripe, I truly believe this to be the absolute pinnacle of console gaming.

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