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Reader Roundtable Vol. 124

As we do every month, our staff and readers share the games they’ve been enjoying during the month of July. There’s a varied selection that’s sure to have something for everyone, so take some time from the beach and sun and see what we’ve been playing. You’re bound to find something you haven’t seen before or a classic you’ve been meaning to revisit, so sit back, grab a nice, cold drink, and fire up that Genesis!

 

Starflight By Ken Horowitz

Starflight 7Every so often, I take a look at my Genesis library and think of all the great games that are deserving of a remake. Then, my mind moves to those titles that have been remade, and the horrible, Frankenstein-like abominations that have arisen from developers tinkering with stuff that needn’t be tinkered with. I can understand giving a 2D game a 2.5D perspective, given the POWER of today’s consoles, but there are elements that should be left alone.

This is my fear about a potential remake of Starflight. I would love to see the same game but with modern visuals. Yeah, they can upgrade the interface, but don’t change anything about the way the game plays. I love exploring all those cool planets and looking for resources, upgrading my ship, and flying around the cosmos. Starflight gave Genesis owners an incredible sense of freedom when it debuted (and a great deal of pause once they saw the manual!), and I wouldn’t want a modern developer to think they had to go all “next gen” on it and change things. Perhaps games like No Man’s Sky could offer a sample of what an updated Starflight could entail, but truth be told, I’m perfectly happy to keep playing it on my Genesis.

Streets of Rage 3 By Sebastian Sponsel

Ah, Streets of Rage… once one of Sega’s most prominent home console franchises, it strangely enough never saw any new installments outside of the 16-bit-era. Last week I sat down with a friend to engage in some nice two-player brawlin’ action. Even though SoR 3 is considered to be inferior to its predecessor, I still think it’s one of the best beat-’em-ups of its day – jacked-up difficulty and other localization changes for the Western market notwithstanding.

Streets of Rage 3 7There’s just one thing I could’ve done without: The damn duel mode. It was already in SoR 2, and it was a vestigial gameplay mode there. Having the four main characters duke it out against one another may sound like a neat idea on paper, but in practice it feels more like a chore than anything. Honestly, I tried to see that mode as anything other than being totally broken. I tried to see it as a rock/papers/scissors type of affair, where one character is strong against another but weak against someone else, but in practice it just doesn’t work out. Skate has a special that allows him to run around yelling “wee” while flailing his arms about like a kindergartner at a sandbox brawl. But even worse than the annoying sound effect accompanying that is the fact that it’s the best attack to have in that mode by far, because characters are invincible for the duration of their special attack. And since all the other characters have to remain stationary during their specials but cannot hurt Skate while he’s pulling off an impression of Phillip J. Fry being a Battle Droid, there’s no reason not to constantly pull that attack off over and over again. So you either try to play keep-away or try to time your own special just right in order to catch your opponent when Skate’s special runs out. It’s a mess. If the mode wasn’t entirely optional, I’d say it’d be a blemish on an otherwise pretty good game. As it is though, I’d say it’s a needless addition that they shouldn’t have bothered to include (and those who believe the localization already mangled the game may imagine I’m talking about Bare Knuckle 3 instead, since the same issue remains there).

Oh, and by the way, doesn’t anyone else it’s hilarious that Axl, a character wearing gloves, loudly exclaims “Bare Knuckle” for his special attack? Cracks me up every time!

Disney’s Aladdin By Joseph C.

Aladdin was one of the first VHS tapes I can remember our mum buying. We had the original Star Wars Trilogy that our dad had recorded off TV and some Bugs Bunny cartoons that were always cheap in the supermarket; but that was pretty much it. This became one of the most popular movies to watch in our household even after The Lion King came out a year later. Naturally the game appealed to me based on this alone and as it was one of the first licensed games I played. This was one of those games that I never owned at the time but borrowed often. I had memorised every level, found every secret and played every difficulty.

Disney's Aladdin 7I decided to play through it again this month after what must be at least ten years. As a child I had no knowledge of and would have had no interest in its development. The excellent animation from actual Disney artists and the assiduous attention to detail is something I appreciate much more now than I did then. Though I do remember enjoying making the Agrabah guard’s pants drop and the way they hopped in pain across burning coals. There are so many more amusing little touches like this from the random stop sign in the desert, Dave Perry’s face in the debug mode and the Mega Drive consoles and CRT televisions in the background inside the Genie’s Lamp. Even at the time, this wasn’t something you’d expect from a licensed game and certainly isn’t now.

What matters more is the gameplay ultimately and I found it was still enjoyable as ever. I still remembered almost every aspect of each level so that I rarely stumbled. I think it’s fair to complain about the relatively short length, the confusing hit detection and the frequent instant death sections in the latter levels. This was just something you learned by trial and error as a kid and there were plenty of games that were far more frustrating. The responsive controls, variety of actions, multitude of secrets and bonuses all more than make up for this anyway. My favourite level remains “The Escape” which was where my adventure used to end when I first got the game. I only stumbled a few times replaying it all this time later and that was only in pursuit of bonus items.

My adventure ended abruptly in the Sultan’s Palace, one level before the end when my console reset. I tried one more time using the cheat menu and it happened again. I discovered I’d been using the wrong AC adaptor and a third-party one at that. I may go back and finish it off before the month’s end but I’ve already done it so many times and I’m not too bothered. I’d seen the best of the game by that point anyway and I always found the ending the one disappointing part of the game.

One final thought that occurred to me while playing the game was that the apples Aladdin throws were more effective than his sword. I’d never thought about it as a child but it’s a great example of video game logic.

Wolverine: Adamantium Rage by David Dyne

One of the best advantages about PC gaming is the ability to modify some games to reflect your own personal wishes provided the developers have released the tools to do so. That’s what kept me playing Oblivion for five years after it was released, and now Skyrim as well. On home consoles, and in retro consoles in particular, our options are somewhat limited in what we can alter. Thankfully, we have the Game Genie which allows me to take a universally panned game on the Genesis like Wolverine: Adamantium Rage and transform it ever so slightly to improve what is an aggravating gaming experience into something actually playable, and dare I say, enjoyable.

Wolverine Adamantium Rage 5Anybody who has played this game quickly noticed that Wolverine been neutered for all intents and purposes. His razor sharp claws inflict pitiful damage, his mutant ability to heal quickly from sustained wounds is useless due to the measly one percent of health you’re given every few seconds, and his movements are sluggish due to the controls. And don’t forget about the game’s timer mechanism which also contributes to the aforementioned health regeneration issue as you can’t stop for any prolonged period of time to rebuild your health before it runs out.

To solve the problem, I rubbed Galoob’s little golden lamp and summoned the Game Genie to spark some life into this game by removing the timer, increasing the health regeneration percentage, and increasing the damage his claws can inflict. Now we have something to work with. Here’s my setup for both medium and hard difficulties, where the only difference I saw was the number of lives you start with.

Medium

No Timer – ATHT-AA6C

2 x Damage Increase – FATT-AAG6

4% Health Regeneration – JAHT-BT04

Hard

No Timer – ATHT-AA6C

5 x Damage Increase – NTTT-AAG6

8% Health Regeneration – JAHT-BA04

It’s not perfect, but these codes will allow you to fight with more aggression and give you the option to stop and heal up when necessary rather than being forced to follow the timid, cautious approach the original game design forces on you. It’s unfortunate the developers couldn’t have given Adamantium Rage some more TLC as it might have fared better with some slight tweaking here and there.

I’d like to extend a big thanks to those folks in the Game Genie community for coming up with these codes to make one bad game more playable. What are some other bad games on the Genesis that you think could be improved through the magic of the Game Genie?”

Wonder Boy in Monster World By Paige

This month, I’ve played through a variety of games on my Genesis’ backlog. Almost all of the games were ones that I’ve played countless times before, but for whatever reason I never got around to beating, such as Castle of Illusion and the original Streets of Rage (yes, this was the last one out of the trilogy I beat; and no, I don’t own Streets of Rage 3, I went for Bare Knuckle III instead). However, for this entry I’ll talk about the only game I hadn’t touched prior to this month: Wonder Boy in Monster World!

Wonder Boy in Monster World 7What prompted me to play this game? Well, I’ve been wanting to play another RPG lately but I don’t always have a lot of spare time to sink into games in series like Phantasy Star or Shining Force—it did, after all, take me about five months to get through Landstalker. So, I opted for an action game with RPG elements, and Wonder Boy in Monster World seemed like it would fit the bill well enough.

I really enjoyed this game! I say that every month, but it’s true. I’ve yet to really crank through a game I find mediocre or terrible, and I think it mostly has to do with the aforementioned lack of free time. Anyway, I liked the graphics style of this game, as the backgrounds look like they were done in colored pencils. Everything was bright and colorful, and I thought the parallax scrolling was pretty good given the year the game came out.

As someone who has never played anything from either the Wonder Boy or Monster World series, I thought the story was fine, through somewhat nonsensical. I understand that you play as Scion, who has to rid the land of the monsters that have invaded all the villages. During the middle portion of the game, however, I felt as though all the characters were just giving me the runaround: I’m told I have to find Poseidon, who in turn tells me I have to talk to the Sphinx, who sends me to the dragon village and the Elder Dragon immediately tells me to go to this icy village… I felt like I was in college again, being sent back and forth between my university’s undergraduate advisement center and my degree program’s adviser when all I did was ask what course I was missing to complete my minor. Why they didn’t just email each other or make a phone call I’ll never know.

Nevertheless, I still had fun beating up monsters as I made the long (and at times seemingly unnecessary) journey from start to finish. The game did get tricky for me, especially the final boss battle, but getting stuck at those parts was due to my negligence when it came to exploring all the areas thoroughly for treasure chests. I definitely regret taking so long to play through this game, and I hope to play more games in both the Wonder Boy and Monster World series!

The Punisher by James Villone

Recently I blasted all the way through The Punisher for the first time, though I’ve loved this brawler for years now. Finishing it gives me a better idea of why it’s often considered lackluster, though I still think it’s a great game!

Punisher 4The final boss fight against the Kingpin is a major let-down. He’s just like a huge punching bag! The last couple stages of the game seem more challenging, and more fun, than the last boss! The ending is also very minimal. Additionally, some of the enemies’ artwork seems lacking, though it took a while for that impression to set in for me, since Frank Castle himself looks pretty great, along with most of the scenery!

Still, this is definitely one of the better brawlers in the Genesis library! The soundtrack is rocking, and the weapons are extensive. Frank can pick up not only guns but also flame-throwers, swords, axes, and grenades! (And houseplants.) The most unique gimmick is that sometimes, the gameplay stops being a brawler, and switches to a gun-fest, with everyone madly shooting at each other! (And this fits for our hero, whose character is based on guns.) These segments are very fun and don’t even require aiming. We just have to tap buttons for him to shoot everyone on-screen, in whatever direction he’s facing!

Offering two-player co-op, The Punisher is just a blast! Grab a friend, and go take down that criminal organization!!

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