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Reader Roundtable Vol. 133

May has come and gone, and the summer is about to start. Before you run outside to enjoy all that sunshine, take a gander at some of the games we’ve been playing, and see if there’s something you’ve missed. The size of the libraries for the Genesis, Master System, and Game Gear are large enough to guarantee that there’s going to be some games you should be checking out!

 

Rastan By Ken Horowitz

One of my favorite console ports, Rastan is exactly what you’d want from a console version of an arcade game. The character sprites are a bit smaller than they are in the coin-op, but they’re very faithful to the original. Everything is bright and well-colored, and the gameplay works very well with the Master System pad. I do find the bosses to be too easy, but the game is challenging enough overall that it’s still a whole lot of fun to play. I like to break this one out every few months or so and see how far I can get on a single credit. Even after 30 years, I still can’t beat it without continuing. That last level always gets me!

It wasn’t until years later that I realized how lucky we were that Taito itself did the Master System version of Rastan, given how strict Nintendo’s licensing policies were at the time, and even today, I’m amazed at how good it turned out. Looking back now. I only wish the Genesis sequel (also done by Taito itself, incredibly) was anywhere near as good.

Miniplanets By James Villone

Sometimes the stress of real life can make us gravitate toward games which are calming and relaxing, like Miniplanets, A nice homebrew puzzle-platformer for Genesis, released by Sik in November 2016 and based on exploring tiny three-dimensional planets. The goal is to find items and reach the exit on each planet while avoiding water, jumping on rafts, and detonating bombs to open new paths.

The timer is generous enough that we usually don’t have to worry about time. The little red guy just walks around, gathering what he needs to, and enjoying the cool graphics of each planet turning and scaling its surface, according to his movements. Surface images seem built of giant, chunky pixels, and the images get very distorted as they wrap around each planet. So, the 3D effects are messy, but in a good way, especially since this is the only example of the Genesis doing anything like this! This must be the best that the hardware can pull it off, and it’s always interesting to see the console doing new things.  

Beyond the 3D gimmick, the artwork is colorful and pleasant, with white flowers in the grass, waves in the water, and background stars scrolling according to our movement on the miniplanets! I know it’s a simple background-scrolling effect, but the stars are still very pretty when they’re passing by, especially when we’re riding a raft which can keep the stars scrolling (and the planet turning) endlessly until we jump off. Raft-rides are a nice way to just enjoy the cheerful music, and watch the graphics animating for a moment.

Miniplanets is available as a free ROM download, with donations accepted: Click here! I enjoy it more than most puzzle games, which don’t often have interesting graphics, and the platforming element adds the satisfaction of walking and jumping around with tight controls. Also, I love that it resembles Super Mario Galaxy, here on Sega Genesis!

Download it today for some 3D puzzle-platforming that’s out-of-this-world, and it’s totally spaced-out, man!  

Golden Axe (Master System) By David Dyne

May has been the month of barbarians and to signify all the sword slashing, I’ve been playing Golden Axe and Golden Axe 2 on the Genesis, and for this article, Golden Axe on the Master System. I can probably count the number of times I played Golden Axe in the arcade on one hand, but it left a big impression on me, and when I read in Sega Visions (issue #1, page 16 for those keeping score at home) that the game was being ported to the Master System, I was very excited. The magazine article stated that the Golden Axe feature was a review, so of course I believed the game had been released and was available for purchase.

Speeding to the touch tone telephone, I called up Kay Bee Toys in our local mall and asked if it was in stock. The sales clerk went off to check and then came back a few moments later and said it wasn’t. Saddened but still determined, I thanked him and hung up. Over the next month I called Kay Bee at least once a day to pester them to see if the game had come in and each time was let down. One day, I called up again and the clerk went to check and then told me it was there. Excitedly, I asked if it was for the Master System. There was a brief pause, then he replied it was for the Sega Genesis. Foiled again!

At some point I gave up and never did manage to buy the game for the Master System until over twenty-five years later. Was it worth the wait? I’d like to think so. It’s a good port, despite the reduced character roster, and the choice of magic does serve as a difficulty setting of sorts. The soundtrack is especially impressive, with “Battlefield” and “Turtle Village 1” being the best tracks in the game. Give them a listen if you haven’t already. For some reason, there are no credits at the game’s conclusion and there seems to be no information on the Internet regarding who the composer is, which is a shame as the renditions are quite good for the Master System. Does anyone know who composed the music for this version?

Bimini Run By Colton Ray

Bimini Run is a quick but fun little title reminiscent of Super Thunder Blade, except instead of piloting a helicopter, you’re driving a speedboat through the ocean a la Miami Vice. The early levels have you chasing down the evil Orca, who has kidnapped your girlfriend, though the later levels get more out there, involving mermaids and sea monsters. Likewise, the early game is a breeze, while later levels are filled with enemies ready for a cheap shot. For an early title from a small developer, the game looks decent enough, and the levels are sufficiently large, but the missions don’t last long, and pretty soon, you’ll be seeing the credits. Bimini Run really could have done with some nice little cut scenes or maybe even a mini-game where you can just explore the open ocean, but few options are available. It’s clear that this was a budget title, but it’s still a fun, weird little ride if you can withstand some cheap shots.

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