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Reader Roundtable Vol. 129

2017 is here, and what better way to ring in the new year than with some great games? This month, our staff and readers have been playing a few classics. These are games that are timeless, but there are still some who might not have played them in years or even not at all. Check ’em out and see if there’s something you missed!

 

Gaiares By Ken Horowitz

While Thunder Force III may be my favorite Genesis shooter of all time, Gaiares is definitely in my top five. This game was so amazing to me back when I first saw it. Its graphics, phenomenal soundtrack, and innovative weapons system made it a real standout among the scores of Genesis shooters that were being released at the time. It was something else, however, that truly made Gaiares special for me. It was the first Genesis shooter I’d played that had a real story. Those cut scenes were amazing (and long!), and they made the game seem much more cohesive to me overall. All of these elements came together to make me love Gairares, and I played it for hours and hours until I was finally able to beat it.  I may not have rocked a mullet like Jamie Bunker did in those ads, but I certainly rocked Gaiares!

Disney’s Aladdin By Thief

The only Genesis game I played this month was Aladdin. Somebody brought it up and I felt like giving it spin. Also, it was hard to say no to a game with good tunes.

This time around I figured out something I can’t believe I’ve never in the past. During the Cave of Wonder chase, when you have to jump over those platforms that sink in lava and with lava spewing in between the platforms. Well, in the past I always just winged it somehow via brute force and with a few extra lives to spare. This time around, since I was analysing the game play more, I wanted to figure out if that lava touching you really did rob you of you jumping momentum or not. It turns out it consistently does and that you have to not jump right away to avoid getting hit by lava, or it could lead to instant fall death.

Another thing I realised is that there is nothing wrong with the collision detection in those jail platforms. It’s getting the timing wrong that gives the illusion that you landed on them, but their hit box haven’t materialised at all yet. This was a famous hit box shenanigans memory with many players, myself included.

All in all, still always a pleasure still playing through this game.

Phantasy Star III By Paige

So, I’ve completed another entry in the Phantasy Star series. And this time all my party members lived to see the end!

I first played this game a couple of years ago, before any of the other Phantasy Star games, and I absolutely HATED it. The events that unfolded were completely nonsensical! I only made it partway through Rhys’ quest before I turned the game off, unable to deal with this madness any longer.

After deciding to play through the series back in November, though, I knew there would come I time when I’d have to revisit this title. And you know what? The game really isn’t nearly as bad as I originally made it out to be.

As I was playing through Phantasy Star III, I couldn’t help but be reminded of my experience with Sonic 3D Blast. With that game, I felt that having Sonic’s name attached to it did more harm than good; however, I found that if you ignore the fact that this is a Sonic game and took it for what it was: an isometric platformer that required collecting items in order to progress to the next area and fighting the occasional boss—it was a much more enjoyable experience overall.

So, what does that have to do with my playthrough of Phantasy Star III? Well, in this case my experience was the complete opposite. Taking the game for what it was, I thought it was totally ridiculous. But after getting acclimated to the Phantasy Star universe, I found this entry to be worthy of at least one full playthrough. In fact, it wasn’t until the end that I started to appreciate this game, since that’s when the pieces started to come together for me. For the time being, I have gotten through two of the four possible storylines (thanks to having two save slots to work with), though I’m not exactly rushing to play through the remaining two. Also, the music in this game is fantastic!

So have I had a complete change of heart? Not really. But I am glad I played through this game nevertheless.

Star Wars Arcade by James Villone

It’s been a month of Star Wars, starting with a spontaneous viewing of the current film cranked out by Disney, Rogue One. I didn’t grow up with Star Wars, and when the first modern film came out, full of CGI (including Jar Jar Binks), I got the impression that I wasn’t missing out! However, these modern films have prompted me to go back and appreciate the original three films, which I consider the only “real” Star Wars films. I’m likewise drawn to the games that came out when the only source material was the three old films, and that includes the Genesis’ lifetime. So, after watching the original trilogy, I decided to jump into the cockpit myself, and play out the scenes I had just watched, in 32-bit!

Everyone knows Star Wars Arcade as a headliner for the 32x, but it usually gets criticized for one reason or another. Sure, it’s not as good as Shadow Squadron, but Star Wars Arcade was a launch title, so it makes sense. Plus, Star Wars Arcade was really just meant to be an accurate port of an arcade game, and it’s successful for that purpose! Many aspects that get criticized (like the slightly-limited movement) are not really faults of the 32x port, because they’re from the arcade original.

Star Wars Arcade does exactly what it was meant to, and it deserves better appreciation. It’s also the only cartridge title (on 32x or Genesis) with a Star Wars license.  Despite its difficulty, and redundancy of the first few missions, it looks great when Rebel ships approach the Death Star, slowly filling the screen, before we lower to its surface, and battle among its gun towers! Finally, the famous trench run is nearly unplayable, but for those who get used to it, the game is soon finished. It’s altogether short and sweet, while “32x mode” is supposed to have slightly more content.  

Here are my only complaints: First, R2-D2 is supposed to be riding in the ship, offering input, and screaming when the ship takes damage – yet we never see him at all! The arcade intro shows R2-D2 briefly, so it’s lame that we never see him on 32x.    

My second complaint is that I always disagree with arcade ports having limited lives, since the original can be played as long as someone keeps pumping in quarters. So such a home version is equivalent to visiting the arcade with insufficient funds, and it creates an artificial difficulty. There should at least be a code for unlimited lives!  

Nevertheless, reliving ’70s movie scenes rendered in 32-bit polygons is just awesome.  

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