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Reader Roundtable Vol. 142

Heat got you down? Stay inside where it’s nice and cool and play some Sega games! There will be time enough for sunshine when the ozone layer is depleted, and global warming turns your home into beachfront property (or Atlantis). Read what we were playing this month and see what gems you might have missed!

 

Forgotten Worlds by Ken Horowitz

I love the launch era Genesis games. They have a distinct look and sound to them, and it always takes me back to that wonderful era when 16-bit was shiny and new. Capcom had some great hits for Sega’s new console at the time, thanks to a licensing deal, and along with Ghouls ‘n Ghosts, we got the wonderful Forgotten Worlds. I’ve owned the Turbo-Grafx Super CD version, and while that game had much better presentation and all the stages, I really prefer the simple control of the Genesis port (no extra controller needed!), and the two-player option. The game is long enough, and it’s still very stylish to look it. Back in the day, Forgotten Worlds stood out to me because it seemed so different from most shooters of the era. Capcom was really firing on all cylinders, on both consoles and in the arcade, and this game came at the height of that success. It’s been almost three decades, and I still cannot be stopped with paramecium alone!

Hissatsu by David Dyne

Here’s a Japanese exclusive based on a television show that ran for twenty years about a group of assassins who used various techniques to go after some of the worst villains in society. The game itself is a 2D side-scroller in which you can select two characters (from a pool of four) that you can switch between on the fly, each with his own weapons and special attacks. There’s Mondo Nakamura the katana wielding samurai, Tetsu the Nenbutsu who prefers hand to hand, Hide the dart thrower, and Yuji who uses a long wire to ensnare and strangle his enemies. Each level has a simple objective of moving from left to right as you search for your target to assassinate with all manner of henchmen and goons standing in your way. I’m sure this is explained in detail via the cut scenes between each level. There’s some light platforming thrown in to mix up the level design but nothing particularly taxing, at least until the fourth stage, which is as far as I can make it.

In the first two stages your character selection doesn’t matter much. It’s the third stage where the difficulty really ramps up and you need to take Hide and Tetsu. Hide’s ability to throw his darts to take out distant enemies is a life saver, and Tetsu’s fireball ability can destroy certain rock formations that will uncover extra health and open up new areas to explore. Trying to complete this stage with Mondo or Yuji will drive you bonkers. It’s also on this stage and the fourth one that you start to find platforms and health pick-ups positioned in places where you can’t access them by any means, and certain unused elements of the stage were also left there, which makes me wonder if this was a rushed release. If anybody can shed some light on this game’s development history, I’d love to know.

Hissatsu is a competent action platformer that can be quite challenging as you advance farther into it. The game may not be up to Shinobi Legions or Shinobi X standards, but you might find some fun with it if you don’t mind the $80 – $100 price tag it’s currently running for.

Phantasy Star II by Thief

Finally can say I’ve played through Phantasy Star II, and only Phantasy Star III is left for me. My main motivation was to have a better sense of the overall series after seeing how playing the first PS greatly improved my experience with the fourth and final game, and to finally witness the controversy behind PSIII up next. Being that it’s a Sega game gave it a lot of merit too. 

My prediction was that I couldn’t imagine PSIII being worse than PSII. Yes, it wasn’t a glowing experience. There’s barely any story and a lot of dungeon filler. The game is overwhelmingly filled to the brim with filler gameplay, a pinch of backtracking (looking at you, ice cavern) and back-to-back-to-back dungeons. I’m talking long and boring to explore dungeons, and I’m no stranger to exploring these things, having loved exploring PS1 & Shining in the Darkness without the aid of online maps or grid paper. For PSII, I did buckle near the end and started pulling online maps about halfway through the areas where you find those special Nei weapons. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have had the motivation to finish the game.

The turn-based combat and UI were sadly letdowns too, which only amplified the drudge through the dungeons. This came as a big surprise, since PSIV has some of the most enjoyable turn-based combat ever and is still a pleasure to replay because of this.

Transbot by Mike Perez

I didn’t have too many shooters for my Master System way back in the ’80s. I don’t think there were that many available in the U.S.! I remember seeing Transbot and its cool boss that looked like the AT-ST from Star Wars and thinking that this was definitely a game to get! It was fun, but the stages weren’t all that intense, and the game overall was far too short. I must have looped the thing three or four times before I just lost interest. Sadly, that same feeling holds true today. Transbot is fun for a little while, but it loses its appeal too quickly. One thing that’s still amazing to me is that they actually had games on those little cards!

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