Quantcast

Reader Roundtable Vol. 128

Hopefully, everyone got all they wanted for Christmas, and with luck, that included lots of Sega games. There are plenty of games worth asking Santa for, so it’s most likely that he brought something you wanted! Our staff and readers share their games for the month, so let’s see what they’ve been playing!

 

Air Rescue By Ken Horowitz

I’m a big fan of Choplifter, and I played it in the arcades and (a ton) on the Master System. I was really happy to learn that a spiritual sequel called Air Rescue was released in Europe, and I managed to find a complete copy for an excellent price. It’s a really good game! Think of it as a natural expansion of Choplifter’s premise, only this time the helicopter can fly in multiple directions. The levels are much more expansive, and the game still retains the difficulty of the original. I know that multiple attempts have been made to bring the Choplifter series back, but I really wish someone would tackle a sequel to Air Rescue. It’s a shame this one never came over to the U.S., but thankfully, there’s no region lockout on the Master System, so I can enjoy it now.

Lunar: The Silver Star By Vince Thornburg

My local Goodwill provided me with one hell of a Christmas gift a few weeks ago. An incomplete copy of Lunar: Silver Star. I honestly took a triple take. First was “Oh Sega CD, it’s probably just NHL ’94, or Power Rangers or something” Second was like “Wait Lunar?! No…it’ll be a different game that’s always how that happens…” Third I finally grabbed it, saw the $2.00 sticker, then “NOPE. JESUS CHRIST, IT’S ACTUALLY LUNAR IT’S IN MY HAND!” so I gobbled that crap up and quickly paid and left. It’s missing the manual, but the case itself is perfect. The disc is played, but looks great. I can actually play Lunar the way it was meant to be.

And… it’s great. Already easily going to be on the best RPGs I’ve sat down with in a long time. That amazing early ’90s anime song was perfectly cheesy, and it really took me back to an era where I only saw these games in magazines or in a store, and they were unobtainable. The game itself plays out well, and I’m already more into this than I ever was with Phantasy Star. That’s right, I said it.

The battle system took a little bit of time, mostly with wonder why Ramos was just sitting in the back and not even helping in battle, but after bothering to actually look at stats I liked the movement and attack time numbers and quickly got around it. It’s actually nicely balanced out, and while I haven’t played too far as of yet, because holidays and all, I like how it’s subverted my expectations on multiple occasions already.

Oh, I have to leave my home village and go find a cave and find a dragon? Wow, I can’t wait to see how this place gets totaled and how hard this first dragon boss fight will be. But nope, the village remains intact (for now, I’m assuming) and the Dragon gave me money and experience for just stopping by and replenished my health. Well, dang.

I want to dive more into this, and I will when things slow down, but there’s one issue I’m having with the linearity of the story so far. I find a shack with empty crates. A guy tells me he lost his ax. I go back to said shack, and now the ax appears and I can grab it. I’m seasoned on exploring every nook, cranny, and alcove before I go the next part of the main quest in an RPG, yet here it seems to be that so far I haven’t been rewarded for that but just given the extra runaround. Sure, the random battles are boosting me up, but it’s a personal annoyance that I should be able to look past easily.

Lunar so far is looking like something that I’ll be really enjoying. So if anyone has an extra manual laying around…

Phantasy Star II By Paige

After really getting into the first entry in the series last month, I’ve decided to play through all four of the (proper) Phantasy Star games in order. In Phantasy Star II, gone are the first-person dungeons—my favorite part of the first game—and to be honest, I didn’t feel like drawing maps this time around so I used the hint book to plan out and navigate the numerous complicated dungeons (I don’t regret it). So, although this game lacks that first-person perspective found in the original Phantasy Star, this sequel has plenty more to offer: more playable characters, a more involved storyline, and a more complex battle system.

However, in the spirit of making comparisons to its predecessor, there are a couple of things that Phantasy Star II does differently that I didn’t care for too much. The battle encounter frequency in this game seems to have been upped almost to the point of annoyance, as sometimes I couldn’t take as much as two steps between fights. I also didn’t like that I felt like it was necessary to grind a lot, especially for the meseta needed to purchase the better items in the game. But on the other hand, perhaps the battle frequency was upped because the best items are so expensive, and maybe I constantly felt under-powered because I chose to just study the maps beforehand to find the most efficient path rather than explore each dungeon and get my fill of experience and cash that way. I suppose that unless I give this game an honest, hint-book-less playthrough I’ll never know for sure.

But I do know that it’s not necessary to grind to the point that everyone is at level 30 or so by the end of the game. Going into the final boss, Rolf and his teammates (Rudo, Amy, and Shir), having levels only in the mid-20s, had come too far to turn back. The showdown began, with Rudo and Rolf attacking the boss with everything they had, Shir spending her turns using the Snow Crown to cast Deben (minimizing damage taken), and Amy using the Color Scarf to cast the Saner spell repeatedly in an effort to give her and her teammates a much-needed advantage.

This sounds like a good plan to start, but inevitably Rolf and his comrades began to meet their demise. Amy was—shockingly—the last one standing, repeatedly using the Truth Sleeves on herself to heal 60 HP each round. It turns out Shir was able to cast enough Deben spells to prevent Amy from taking more than 45 damage per turn; this ensured Amy, at about 120 HP total, could safely take two hits before needing to heal. So, the general strategy was this: she would use the Truth Sleeves until she was at full health, then exchange blows with the enemy until Amy’s HP fell below 50% (using the Fire Staff to cast Foi for about 15 damage a pop), then repeat. The downside is that there is no window telling you how much damage is done with each hit, and to make matters worse you can’t see how much HP the boss has remaining (online sources say the final boss’ max HP is at about 2400); these two things, combined with the fact that I’m fighting with the absolute least battle-oriented character in the game, meant that if I were going to keep this up I was in it for the long haul.

And I mean LONG! After 45 minutes, Amy dealt the final blow and the good guys were victorious! Storyline-wise, I thought that having Amy be the one to rid the Algol System of evil was a pretty bizarre way to end the game… until I sat through that ending cut scene. What exactly did I just watch?

Dynamite Duke By David Dyne

And now for something completely different.

Smashing enemies with a bionic arm throw
In a one-man army melee.
Through the levels Dynamite Duke goes,
Firing all the way.

Bullets from weapons zing,
Making health pickups a welcome sight.
What fun it is to slide and fling
RPG rockets at the enemy tonight.

Jingle bells, jingle bells,
Jingle all the way.
Oh what fun it is to blow Colonel Ashes’ mutant army away.

Jingle bells, jingle bells,
Jingle all the way.
Oh what fun it is to Dynamite Punch the bosses away.

Smashing enemies with a bionic arm throw,
In a one-man army melee.
Through the levels Dynamite Duke goes,
Firing all the way.

Bullets from weapons zing,
Making health pickups a welcome sight.
What fun it is to slide and fling
RPG rockets at the enemy tonight.

Jingle bells, jingle bells,
Jingle all the way.
Oh what fun it is to grab the Full Auto power up and blast away.

Jingle bells, jingle bells,
Jingle all the way.
Oh what fun it is to dodge and keep those bullets away.

Smashing enemies with a bionic punch throw,
In a one-man army melee.
Through the levels Dynamite Duke goes,
Firing all the way.

Bullets from weapons zing,
Making health pickups a welcome sight.
What fun it is to slide and fling
RPG rockets at the enemy tonight.

Jingle bells, jingle bells,
Jingle all the way.
Oh what fun it is listening to music track seven play away.

Jingle bells, jingle bells,
Jingle all the way.
Oh what fun it is to spray WD40 on your bionic arm to keep the rust away!

Merry Christmas everyone!

Virtua Racing Deluxe By Thief

Because I was holding out for Saturn, I never had a 32X-Mas of 1994. So I put things right by celebrating X-Mas with some “Virtuo Wacing.”

I know when I rented this game as a kid for the Genesis, I couldn’t quite figure out how to properly play it and never came anywhere near nabbing first place. But I did enjoy the pretty graphics, as memories reveal playing time attack just to explore the 3D environments. Fast forward to today, and no wonder, this game is one of the hardest racers I’ve ever played. At least with the formula one. Eventually settled on playing with stock car to ease on the pummeling received and nabbing first place on all courses in reasonable time to my relief. Highland course was my highlight with this vehicle.

Back to formula one and some newly acquired experience this time around, I could finally nab first place on the so called beginner course with the rest following, except one: Highland. I put in so much time into this course, getting better and better but always choked. The challenge in this course is consistently pulling off the many intricate turns. I even wanted to give up on one point, but fate made that choice for me when my left button on D-Pad wore out. Better that then my controller through my TV, which is weird, because shouldn’t the right button have worn out first?

In conclusion, glad I finally played and truly experienced the premiere Sega 3D racer as a Sega racing fan myself. I finally traced the routes of this great legacy, like the final few turns after the big hairpin turn on Acropolis reminding me of the turns through the city section of Mountain course in Sega Rally.

Daze Before Christmas By James Villone

I might get coal in my stocking for saying this, but I finally tried Daze Before Christmas, and all I can say is, “Bah, humbug!”  I went through about two-thirds of the game, before turning it off grouchily.  

The colorful graphics are decent enough, and are sometimes surprisingly nice, especially those title screens before each stage!  And during gameplay, Santa looks like a well-animated cartoon character.  I also liked some of the stage details, like those goofy faces whose eyes follow Santa.  However, some of the stages just seem… generic.  The winter-themed stages might be the best-looking and best-fitting.  Unfortunately, Santa also spends his time trudging through factories, wooden houses, and caves – stage themes that we’ve already seen in practically every other platformer!  Some enemies are clever (like the little toy cars and planes that came to life), but then there are hordes of cartoon rats walking around, which don’t really make any sense.   

Aside from the cool special stages (flying the sleigh and dropping presents into chimneys), gameplay is absolutely standard:  Santa must reach the end of each stage, jumping on enemies or shooting them with magic, while collecting presents.  Turning into evil Santa sounds great, but in practice, he just turns invincible briefly, with a bag-swinging attack.  The music also failed to move me, with X-mas songs and some other forgettable tracks.  Basically, all holiday themes could be removed and we’d just have a run-of-the-mill platformer.

Have I just gotten too old and grouchy?  Am I lacking in the holiday spirit?  Not really, because I actually love Christmas NiGHTS into Dreams!  My dislike for Daze Before Christmas has to be blamed on how uninspired it seems, underneath its theme.  Of course, if someone just wants a basic platformer with a Christmas theme, then go ahead and ask Santa for this game

Discuss this article in our forum.

0 Comments

You can be the first one to leave a comment.

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.