Today, many console gamers enjoy the tower defense genre of games. All types of releases have cropped up on the Sony PSP, the Nintendo DS, and both the Xbox 360 and PS3. The genre wasn’t so well known back in 1990, when Atari games released Rampart in the arcades. Featuring play for up to three people simultaneously, it was ported to every console known to man, including the Genesis. Handled by Tengen, the 16-bit version is actually pretty darn good.
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In the arcades, Atari’s T-MEK was a monstrous and intimidating machine. The massive cab fit two players and could be linked to another, making for some awesome four-player matches. The 32X version, however, lost that great multi-player capability in the conversion (along with most of the game’s charm), and if you listened hard enough, you could hear the poor little mushroom panting as it strained under the T-MEK’s engine. I guess it’s true that sometimes, a game is better left in the arcade.
Taito released plenty of games for the Genesis, but its Sega CD library wasn’t quite as robust. Some of the games that made it onto the add-on seem to have a “B grade” quality to them, and after playing The Ninja Warriors for the Japanese Mega CD, that assessment might actually be too generous. Granted, the source material isn’t that deep to begin with, but one questions why the CD technology seemed to only be used for redbook audio. What a waste.
Taito’s Space Invaders has grown beyond being a classic game. Over the past three decades, it has become an icon that is recognized by millions of people of all ages the world over. It’s funny then, that it would take Taito so long to finally realize that it can’t keep releasing the same game over and over. It seems that only a handful of the seemingly endless stream of sequels and variations that have surfaced since 1978 actually try anything new, and the release of Space Invaders ’91 (Space Invaders ’90 in Japan) was a lukewarm effort at injecting some new life into the classic gameplay. It didn’t add much, but what’s there is actually fun for a while.
Taito had a a string of releases for the Genesis, and it often seemed like every arcade game the company put out eventually found its way onto Sega’s console. Unfortunately, some ports were better than others, and a few, like Thunder Fox, took a major hit during the transition. Truth be told, there’s actually very little thunder in this version. In fact, compared to the coin-op original, the Genesis port sounds more like a rumbly tummy than anything else. Sigh… such were the things gamers had to live with at the time.