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Reader Roundtable Vol. 57

Summer’s on its way out, and soon schools will be back in session. The best way to get away from the though of going back to school/college? Stay inside and play some Genesis! Can you think of a better alternative? You can? Then you’re thinking too hard! Back inside you go!

 

Double Dragon By Ken Horowitz

Accolade’s port of Double Dragon for the Genesis really pisses me off. This could have, no… should have been a perfect conversion, but somehow the developers messed it up. The visuals and sound are there, but the game just plays entirely too fast. It’s almost as though everyone onscreen is skating all over the place, and it just throws you off completely. I still play it now and then, even though I know I can get the real deal through MAME or an even better version on the GBA. See, but then it wouldn’t be Double Dragon on my Genesis, and given this series’ horrible track record on the console, I would at least like to have a decent memory of play one installment on my black box. Sadly, it doesn’t look like you can simply wish such a thing to happen…

World of Illusion By Sebastian Sponsel

So, imagine sitting down with someone close to you… a girl you like, your significant other, an old childhood friend, or your little niece or nephew. For some reason, they haven’t gotten into video games yet, but they see it’s a hobby of yours. Out of curiosity, they ask if you could pop in a game and play it with them, but it can’t be a wild run-‘n-gun, explosion-heavy action bonanza. Nor are they interested in sports games. In-your-face attitude characters are SOOO nineties, so that’s out as well. And it should be for two players, so you can show how to play this game, but not competitively, since they’re inexperienced and won’t stand a chance. Oh yeah, and it should be fun, too!

Believe it or not, but there’s a perfect game for situations like that, and it’s available for the Sega Genesis (and ONLY the Genesis! – well, and the Mega Drive, but they’re technically the same): World of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck. Now, don’t hand in your man card just yet. Just because you’re sitting down playing a game with classic Disney characters doesn’t make you a wimp. And once you’ve tried it, you have to admit that the two-player mode is just a great experience. I’ve rarely seen gameplay that is truly that cooperative (you actually have to work together and help each other, you don’t just run around individually doing the same stuff you’d do when playing alone). The animations are top notch and fun to look at. The visuals are just beautiful. True, it moves at a relatively slow pace, but that makes it more attractive to rather inexperienced players, while the challenge still remains at appropriate levels for advanced gamers.

Trust me, this is the perfect game. And you’re more likely to get into a situation like the above than you might believe! It worked with my little niece, it worked with my girlfriend (and one ex as well), and even without cooperative play. This is a great game, with different levels depending on whether you play Donald or Mickey. So take your significant other by the hand and lead her through the game. It won’t make you less of a man! And if you’re a female gamer… umm… look, just play the game, alright? It’s worth it!

Gunstar Heroes By Doug Jackson

It seems to get harder and harder for me to write for the Roundtable each month. I’ve been really distracted with other games and real life lately, and here I am down to the wire (August 29) and I’m finally sitting down to write my submission. Aside from the games that I’ve been reviewing I really haven’t played much else on the Genesis this month. Earlier today I decided that I needed to find something to write about. A friend of mine found me a few games at a thrift shop for really cheap, and I grabbed Greendog and tried to play that game again just to see if I’d like it anymore that before. I played it for a few stages and was beyond bored, but then I remembered that I got a copy of Gunstar Heroes about a month ago.

I popped it in, and get this! It’s the first time I’ve ever played it! I know what you’re all saying so don’t ask. Man, was this cure for that terrible Greendog game! It was my first time playing, and I beat it on normal mode in one sitting. It ended up not being that hard of a game to me, and I was worried about the difficulty since so many of you readers complained about how hard it is to finish. This game isn’t a Contra: Hard Corps killer or my new favorite game by any means, but it remains one of the best games for the console that I never got around to playing any sooner. How I own four hundred Genesis games and not own or play this is beyond me.

I love the speed and the franticness of this game. The weapon customization and stage selection is also great, I’ll have to sit down with a few of my friends who are fans of these kind of games and try out the multi player on a harder difficulty. That’s if that annoying dice maze doesn’t have its way with me first!

Outrunners By Alex Burr

This is one of those games where I say to everyone “To hell with what you think of this game, I love it!”. OutRunners was my first OutRun game I ever played, and who doesn’t like the guy’s voice?! SMOOOOOTH OPPPERAYTA!! That’s the best sound bit from the entire Genesis library. The game might be lacking in the graphics department, but it’s a fun game and the experience is there. Dare I say it’s my favorite racer on the Genesis? Nah, Micro Machines is better. But for a busy month with no time for Genesis, I always love to know that I can play a good amount of OutRunners in a short time. I never understood why Sonic and Tails made an appearance in that game either. 200 bonus points if you can name why (in the forum thread). I also really like Data East as a Genesis game company, even though they really never had that BIG hit they really needed to stay afloat.

Midnight Resistance By Jackie Bogard

Well, I didn’t do a ton of Genesis gaming this month, just a couple games really. but I did enjoy Midnight Resistance. and that’s what you’re going to get. First off, its somewhat like Contra, gameplay-wise at least, and just as fun, in my opinion. The controls are solid, the graphics and animation are nice, but I have to say the music is my favorite part, right when you start you’re hit with some awesome tunes.

The game itself, has some neat little ideas, like collecting keys to unlock power-ups/weapons. Make sure you choose correctly though. On one stage you need homing missiles, or you are basically screwed. The gameplay is fast, running and gunning, well you know the drill. It can be frustrating at times. Heck, I have yet to beat it.

Now I do love this game, but why in the heck did they not add multi-player? Two-players would have been hours of fun. but all in all, if you like Contra-type games and have not played Midnight Resistance, give it a shot. You might just like it.

Haunting Starring Polterguy By Greg Jurkiewicz

So I always had this thing about games with really stupid names or really terrible box art that would just put me off from playing them. (I basically passed up Gunstar Heroes throughout the entirety of the ’90s and only learned to appreciate it recently). I know you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover and all, but it really couldn’t be helped, especially since I always liked having my games prominently displayed on a highly visible shelf somewhere in the house. So, that unfortunately was already two strikes against the poor dead ol’ boy, Polterguy. The fact that the game was made by EA pretty much sealed the deal that I’d always glance over that game and never give it a second thought.

Then one day I read Jeremy Peeples’ review of the game here on Sega-16 and I was intrigued. “You mean the entire premise of the game is to torment a family and scare them out of their house?” I thought to myself gleefully. Within an hour I was playing it on emulator, six very satisfying hours later I picked up a CIB copy off eBay. Needless to say I love this game now. The original premise, the creative object morphing and the campy ’90s horror atmosphere make this a great game. I’m sure glad I read that review!

Joe Montana Football By A.A. Dawson

Whenever a discussion about two or more games comes up, one question is always asked: “Which one is better”? When it comes to sports titles, responses to the question usually don’t favor the older games, but there are always some exceptions. Case in point: when I played Joe Montana Football this month, I enjoyed it more than I ever enjoyed Joe Montana II: Sports Talk Football, despite owning and being content with the second game in the Joe Montana series for about a decade. Is JMF perfect? No, but it has some very good qualities that JM II doesn’t do quite right.

So, what’s the difference between JMF and JM II? For starters, JMF (by Park Place Productions) uses a nice, offensive friendly vertical field perspective, while JM II (by BlueSky Software) features a bland & neutral horizontal field perspective. JM II’s engine has certain design flaws which result in some strange sprite flicker and the feeling that you are actually playing on an icy surface instead of well-textured turf. Do you want to ACTUALLY break tackles? JMF has a nice “duck & charge” tackle breaking system, while JM II uses a poor “briefly nod your head and hope that the defense doesn’t tap you” maneuver. These differences coupled with the fact that you can dominate the computer every time in JM II, just by using the fake field goal passing play while you’re on offense make JMF the better built game.

here are a few areas where JM II exceeds it’s predecessor. It has play-by-play commentary, more teams, a bigger playbook, camera zoom, and a kicking meter. Though JMF does not have these additional features, I still find it to be more enjoyable on account of it’s better designed gameplay, since that’s where it all counts. If you ever want to play a game from the Joe Montana series, you’d have to be crazy to ignore the first one: It puts JM II’s gameplay to shame!

Shadow Squadron By Chris Leathco

When talking about the good games the 32X had, one game that usually comes up is Star Wars Arcade. It wowed gamers with its great graphics, tight controls, and a fully 3D arena to battle in. Fewer people talk about its sequel, Shadow Squadron. And yes, I know its not technically a sequel, but it runs the same engine, offers the same gameplay, and its even the name of one of the Rebel squadrons in the Star Wars book universe. Heck, lets even look at the text from the back of the box, shall we?

“Scramble Fighters! Chaos has broken out on the edge of the Galaxy. A diabolical power has begun construction of a powerful sun laser. You are the Shadow Squadron’s newest fighter jock and the fate and hope of the federation rest in your hands. Destroy the Sun Laser or face the FIRE!!!”

Is a Sun Laser anything like a Death Star?

Anyway, on to actual gameplay. All ships have lasers in the game, but depending on the ship you choose you get a different type of torpedo. You also get an energy shield you can turn on to protect against taking damage, but also drains your power. Run out, and no shields. There’s mainly just two enemies: your standard fighters which are speedy but don’t take many hits, and the carriers, slow moving but they can rain on the damage to your craft. Those are the primary differences between this game and Star Wars Arcade. As you can see, its more of an enhancement to the first game, but still the changes make this game feel a lot deeper and even more fun than its predecessor.

I don’t even remember how I got this game, likely in an eBay lot. After reading about it every so often, I finally got around to popping it in and discovering its a fun, albeit hard, romp of a sci-fi shooter. And the best part is that its still fairly cheap! You can get a copy of this a lot cheaper than you can of other 32X titles like Chaotix or Kolibri. As of this writing, on eBay you can buy it now for 2.99! That’s a steal for any 32X owner that’s looking for an excuse to fire it back up for some good old-fashioned arcade style 3D shooting.

Back to the Future Part III By Nick Mclean

I’ll admit it, I’m a bit of a masochist. I love it when chicks hit me, and often find myself saying and doing things on purpose to provoke a slap from the more aggressive chicks I know. They know I like it, and they enjoy the feeling of power (I assume). But it never really goes past that. There are no whips in the bedroom and no handcuffs to be found. I do however own a copy of Back to the Future Part III for the Genesis. Evidently my experiments in S&M have begun to get more serious, as this month I sat down and not only played Back to the Future Part III, I played it until I beat it while wearing a Kooza mask. That’s pretty freakin’ weird, even for me.

It all began as I was showing a colleague horrible games and of course, BttF Part III was my shining example. It only ever hit my Genny once to make sure it worked as I got it in a garage sale lot. Next thing you know I was sucked in. Determined to beat that first level, I would not stop for anything. All of a sudden, I’m getting shot in the back, cactus are flying out of nowhere and killing me and boulders that are impossible to dodge are taking me out. And the game is making fun of me.

We’ve got to get her this time Marty! No kidding. They wrote in cheeky lines to make fun of how horrible you are doing at this game. After about fifty times Clara Clayton starts to yell things like “I wish I was Mary Poppins” as she flies into the ravine.

Eventually I figured out how to duck and take out the guys on horses shooting you from the hip from behind. Then I figured out how to time my shots to kill the birds properly, and by then I basically memorized the level. Except that damn boulder that is literally impossible to dodge. Having given up, I turned the console off and murmured something about NBA Jam and went to sleep.

The next day I was back at it, only this time… what’s this? The boulder no longer hits me. That’s right, the game is coded so badly there are variables that can be unavoidable. You have to turn your console off and back on if it is in a pissy mood and giving you an impossible game.

I beat the first level, and the rest of the game (three more whole levels!) followed. The final stage with the train was a total piss-off, especially the steam on the engine. But it’s possible, and I got it done. Now that it is finished, Back to the Future Part III will never touch my Genesis ever again. I’m going to go play Secret of Monkey Island, have a drink and call over a lady friend to beat the hell out of me like a sane person.

Alisia Dragoon By The Coop

It all started when I got a ride via Dial-A-Ride, which was a kind of cab service where I lived. I was dropped off at the same shop where I’d found Master of Monsters, and began perusing the Genesis section to see what new and used goodies had come in since I was there last. As I looked over the Genesis section, I spotted a game called Alisia Dragoon. I’d never heard of it, but looking at the back of the box got me curious about what the game was like.

Now, it had been a while since my previous trip to that shop. During that time period, they’d set up a few systems where for $1, you could play a given game for ten minutes and see if you liked it. I had to wait my turn, as the kid using the Genesis was playing Quad Challenge and having a disturbing amount of fun doing so. But, my chance eventually came and they popped an already opened copy of Alisia Dragoon into the system. I sat down in the chair before the TV labeled “Genesis,” picked up the controller that was there thanks to a controller cord extender (the systems were behind the counter to prevent theft since the front doors were right by the TVs), and got myself ready as the oh so familiar “SEGA” logo came up. I was greeted by a rather pleasant sounding intro song, setting a slightly ominous mood as an engraved wall scrolled by, telling of what befell an ancient people. Then came level one with its very nice graphics, good music and the interesting lightning weapon that took more than just button mashing to use properly. I played around with the various animal helpers, seeing what they did before watching a small cinema that told of the final battles yet to come, and eventually encountering the first boss a short time afterward.

When my ten minutes were up, I’d been given a little taste of what the game had to offer, and found myself hooked enough to purchase a new copy from the shop before I left… or rather, tried to leave. Some three hours and quite a few calls to Dial-A-Ride later (the driver somehow continually missed the store), I finally got a ride home. Once there, I retired to my room and began to dig deeper into my new game. The graphics, the music, the gameplay, the challenge level… it all just sucked me in and kept me repeatedly coming back until I at last beat the final boss a few weeks later.

It’s funny how such a wonderful little title like Alisia Dragoon got overlooked by so many at the time. It just kind of came and went, with a cursory comparison to Valis III in one magazine preview, and no real attention press-wise outside of GamePro (though GameFan finally reviewed it in their August ’93 issue… a year and a half later). It’s a shame really, since it was certainly worthy of a sequel. Hell, perhaps if it had been given the attention it deserved, maybe we could have gotten one. But, I guess we’ll never know. To anyone who’s never played it, don’t be like so many others back in 1992. Find it, buy it, and see what Game Arts’ finest cart offering for our 16-bitter is all about. You won’t regret it.

Columns By Frank Ramirez

Out of the series, the original Columns is the only one I’ve played to this very day. A friend of mine had it back in the day on his Genesis, and we would go between playing that and Dr. Mario on the NES. Fast forward a few years, to when I was fourteen and a high school freshman. I had a typing class, and on Fridays, the teacher would just let us play whatever games he had on his old floppy discs. Gotta love those old Apple IIe computers.

Anyway, Columns just happened to be one of those games, and I’d find myself entranced once again, spending the entire class period trying to beat my old high score. I just missed having someone to play against. Then I got the Sega Genesis Collection for the PS2.

Me and one of my friends literally spent twenty-five minutes against each other in Columns! Neither one of us had lost once; it was one, continuous game. We would whoop with joy when we would set off a nice, big chain, saving us from the brink of defeat. We would chastise ourselves for dropping the gems in the wrong place, or in the wrong sequence. We had FUN.

I also plan on downloading Columns III from the Wii’s Virtual Console service. Columns is definitely one of my favorite puzzle game series.

Todd’s Adventures in Slime World By Aaron Wilcott

This month I had a friend over who was in the mood for playing some games. After going back and forth, he looks at the Genesis games on the shelf. Then, something catches his eye. A little game called Todd’s Adventures in Slime World, sticks out among the other boxed Genesis games on the wall. He asks about it’s quality, but I reassure him that it’s well worth playing, because Melf from Sega-16 said so.

After loading the game into my blast processor-powered Sega Mega Genesis Drive with enhanced CD-ROM and 32-Bit 3D attachments, we set out on our journey into the unknown. A seemingly daunting menu of quest choices was set before us. Feeling brave but not too saucy, we decided upon exploration. We preferred to work as a team in most situations, not many of the other selections seemed as enticing.

This strange, disgusting world has already become familiar to be thanks to my previous expeditions, but my friend unfortunately, had only played it maybe once or twice before, so he wasn’t quite as prepared as I was. Ironically, I may have treaded the environment before, but the controls of my equipment had become lost on me since my last trip. It was a long time into the expedition until I finally figured out how to activate items. My comrade was none to impressed by my daft leadership.

There were many bizarre creatures in the underground tunnels, all of them dangerous. Sometimes a dozen or more filled an entire room. Without the knowledge of how our equipment worked for most of our trip, we were often dissolved by the hazardous slime and goo. The green slime whittled away our life-forces, but the red slime killed us instantly. I have no idea how I am able to write this mission log after being disintegrated so many times. At this point, I prefer to not think about it, for I may lose my mind.

There were so many pieces of company equipment down here, I could have sworn slime spelunkers before me and my friend were sent down here on purpose. However, after closer inspection, most of it was from a competing organization. This settled my nerves completely and brought back my usual level of alert. After I discovered how to activate much of these supplies, the mission became much easier. Bombs could be used to empty entire rooms, often at the expense of me and my comrade because we were too slow to escape fast enough, slime shields saved our hides many times and the deactivation of my map system improved my line of sight.

It took us a long time, but we eventually found our way out of the deadly catacombs. My first order of business is to report back to my company and sue them out of existence for endangering me and my friend in this absurdly hazardous mission. It was fun mind you. The planet was surprisingly serene despite the deathly monstrosities underground. Thankfully my radio was working so at least I didn’t have to listen to my friend scream all the time. Lastly, I really appreciated that my equipment wasn’t too heavy, so my movement wasn’t too limited. Regardless, I am in need of money and my company has lots of it, I will initiate the lawsuit on Monday. Mission log out.

Wolverine: Adamantium Rage By Frank Villone

Wolverine has always been my favorite comic book hero: short-tempered, violent, and nearly indestructible. Always happy to stab and slash his enemies to death! I thought Adamantium Rage sounded promising, like it might deliver the fast-paced action that he deserves in a video game. Prior to Adamantium Rage, I had only played as Wolverine in one Genesis game, X-Men, which I rented soon after its release (in ’93). I was disappointed by its strange dithered graphics, some odd music, and some tame level objectives. Wolverine was pretty vulnerable, with only a few moves, and he couldn’t even leave his claws out! X-Men does not deliver the blistering action that he deserves in a game. I hoped Adamantium Rage would offer better action, and thankfully it does!

First some cut-scenes show him escaping the Weapon X labs, as well as announcing “I MUST FIND OUT WHAT WENT ON.” The game starts and you must begin frantically killing everyone in sight: scientists in white lab coats who are throwing things at you, plus soldiers firing machine guns in your face. Everything starts off promising and fast-paced, and it is all so much better than the experience of playing as Wolverine in X-Men. The graphics here are sharper and more detailed. The music is somewhat edgy and exciting, with a few very good songs. Wolvie looks much cooler here, plus he has a combat set of moves that feel like they’re from a fighter or beat-’em-up. As you get used to his moves, he becomes very fun to control, and each confrontation is a treat. (And his claws are always out!)

The first stage is also brutally difficult, even with the game set to easy. You’ll have to get used to Wolvie’s move set, explore a lot, and also die a lot before you’ll ever beat the first stage. You get a password for each stage after that. As I worked on the second stage for a few days, I was lucky if I could make it to the end before losing all my lives. Then the last boss would take all my remaining lives in a flash. I realized I’d never even get familiar with the boss at that rate, so the Game Genie came out just to see beyond that point. With infinite lives I sliced through the game and found the cut-scenes to make less and less sense. Does he ever “find out what went on?” I wish I knew!

While the first couple stages have a lot of frantic action, the combat can lag in later stages, forcing you more heavily into level exploration, switch-hitting, making difficult jumps, etc. The game keeps getting more impossible due to constant, unavoidable damage (like gunshots, or drips of toxic waste), plus the timer takes a life every few minutes, even when rushing quickly. A Game Genie is needed or most of this game is just unplayable. Still, if you’re a big Wolverine fan, you should plug Adamantium Rage into your Game Genie and enjoy the clawed killing spree!

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