Features Reader Roundtable

Reader Roundtable Vol. 04

Once again the time has arrived for our loyal readers to share their latest Genesis joys with everyone. Every month, we gather like pilgrims at the end of a sacred journey…or just a bunch of guys who want to talk about games. Yeah, that last one is probably more accurate. Anyhow, there’s always something new to find and experience, and it’s great to see that there’s still so much love for Sega’s most popular console.

Battletoads By Ken Horowitz

I am a masochist, I confess. Not content to be brutalized by modern games due to my total lack of skill, I have to go one better. Yes, the latest games aren’t enough to sate my thirst for punishment, so I have gone back deep into my game library and pulled out the mother of all hard-as-hell games… the Ninja Gaiden of its time… the one and only Battletoads. No codes, no tricks, and no mercy. Now, there’s nothing wrong with kicking it old school, but about the only thing getting kicked when this baby’s in my Genesis is my tender derriere. Some might be quick to say that I lack the testicular fortitude for such a mission, but you have to give me some credit. I mean, there’s a lot of sweat and tears in each and every play. Were it straight-up action like Gunstar Heroes or Contra: Hard Corps, then I’d know what to expect. It isn’t like that at all, however, and that’s what’s so darn cool about the whole thing. The genius of Battletoads is that it doesn’t come right out and squash you. No, it lulls you into a false sense of security with the first few levels, and you actually think that you have things under control. Then, it happens. You jump on the jet cycle and suddenly your reserve lives drop quicker than the careers of most boy bands. The upside? Genesis controllers are really cheap on eBay!


Shining Force II By Zack Young

After years and years of worshipping the bliss that is all things Shining I find I cannot set aside the ultimate series of all time, Shining Force. The games just hold up so well, and chances are that 60% of the time you’ll find me replaying one of my old Shining Force games. Now what is it exactly that brought me back to this point of whipping out Shining Force 2 and settling down for some comfortable gaming? What makes it hold up so well? To be completely honest, it’s partially because it’s the Shining Force game I haven’t played for the longest amount of time, but you can see when looking at it the lush, beautiful graphics, overflowing with color and brilliance. The battle scenes have a gorgeous amount of smooth flow. The characters are diverse and each one is useful. It makes for an infinite number of replays to try a different team each time.

The story, although fairly simplistic and cliche captures my heart much more than many current gen games ever will. Shining Force 2 polished some of those cliches to a new shine, and didn’t try to be tastelessly complex in what it offered. The gameplay, although now just standard for strategy/RPG’s, was what set that standard and it’s so simple. It’s a strategy game that doesn’t feel like a strategy game with nothing complicated about the gameplay. That sort of charm can’t be duplicated by any amount of interesting complexities. Best of all the game was only as hard as you made it; with the easy level up system you choose whether you wanted the game to be a breeze or a challenge. And the music, mostly cheerful, though some of it is eerily peaceful, will have you pumped up for days. Camelot and Sega didn’t hold back on the expenses when they made this game, and it followed in the fine tradition of the first game that has led it to where it is today: In my Genesis never growing old.


Zero Tolerance By Aaron Savadge

At the height of the Doom clone craze no platform was sacred, including the Genesis. I don’t know exactly what Accolade thought they’d accomplish but their attempt to leach off of the good name of Doom ended in the title known as Zero Tolerance. The oddly shaped cartridge housed a game with an incredibly small playing area while the rest of the screen was muddled with useless junk except for the helpful real-time map. Sadly, even with a tiny display the frame-rate stuttered unforgivably. Your mission forced you to kill every single enemy in the stage before moving on which was more of a chore than any real fun. You could only splatter your pixelated enemy’s blood on the wall with a shotgun so many times before it got old, and searching for that one guy you missed the first time through is enough to make you want to turn the shotgun on yourself. If you’re a fan of Doom clones and missed this one you shouldn’t worry about it.


Rambo III By Joe Redifer

I always loved Rambo on the Master System. It had great music and was a fun two-player romp, if a bit difficult. Rambo III came out and it was a slightly-above-average light phaser game. But Rambo III on the Genesis is more like the first Rambo on the Master System in that you run around shooting things. But this time you can run in any direction, plant bombs and shoot electric arrows. You can even stab people! The game can be pretty tough at first because it is easy to die. There are lots and lots of enemy bullets to dodge, all of which look like BB’s. Then there are the boss stages in which you are given a first person view in order to try to shoot down a helicopter or a tank. These are OK but nothing too special, aside from the layered scrolling. The graphics in Rambo III are decent for a first generation game, and the sound and music aren’t anything to get excited about. Still, the game is pretty fun to play and is worth having if you can find it cheap.


Knuckles Chaotix By Nick Gibson

When I found my 32X at a Salvation Army for $5 in January, I knew that Knuckles Chaotix was one game I had to buy. It was one of the last 16-bit Sonic games that I didn’t own (I’m still after a Sega CD and Sonic CD), and that alone was enough to make me plunk down $10 for a copy. Once I started playing it, I realized that there are a whole lot of other reasons that people should buy it. For those who take the leap, there are vibrant colors, snazzy scaling tricks, polygonal bonus rounds, and infectious music awaiting you. Also the unfairly-maligned bungee ring’ dynamic, in which you and a computer-controlled character get slung around some nicely-designed levels. People gripe about it to no end, but I’m pretty sure that’s because they never took the hour or two required to get used to it. With some brains and quick reflexes you can get Knuckles and Co. whizzing through levels at velocities rivaling that of the Chemical Plant in Sonic 2. And about those levels… there are about 30 of them, and each one can be played in different times of day. (Something that really makes replays more enjoyable.) No, there’s no Sonic or Tails in this game, and it’s not exactly like any other Sonic game ever made. But there’s a whole lot to love about it anyway. Go. Now. Buy this game. Get a 32X if you don’t have one. If you don’t, then you’re missing out.


Rocket Knight Adventures By Damien Jennison

I don’t know what it is about this game that makes me smile every time I play it. Maybe it’s how brilliantly implemented the controls are for your character and how much thought was put into your opponents. Perhaps it’s that when you play it, there’s actually a rather good and well thought out plot unlike most other platformers. Maybe it’s just because I like killing an army of incompetent pigs with an armoured jet pack-using possum. Maybe it’s that I can listen to the music in the sound test for hours on end happily. I am sure all of them contribute to why I think Rocket Knight Adventures is such an amazing game that everyone should have. It has a certain charm I believe, one that mixes all that I have stated in a unique and wondrous way and is played out to its fullest. The sequels never really lived up to the original game and only the first in my eyes has all the little details that keep you coming back again and again, be it Sparkster getting the life scared out of him by the pig in the large present and ESPECIALLY when you watch the poor hapless pig clinging to the missile that flies past you in the kingdom of Devotindos! Poor guy never saw that coming…


Street Fighter II Special Championship Edition By Saad Azim

The cart residing in my 32X cartridge slot is Street Fighter II Special Champion Edition. Part of it is nostalgia, part of it is convenience.

I like to think of Street Fighter II as the Coca-Cola of video games.Where ever you go, you will find it in some form or another; trying to maintain consistency in every variation. Whatever console you have hooked up, chances are there’s a Street Fighter II variation for it. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. After all, why fix something that does not need to be fixed. (Something the Coca-Cola Company learned the hard way.)

The Genesis incarnation looks as good as is possible on the hardware; though the music could have been done better. And the voices sound like the actors were gargling with Coca-Cola while shouting their “lines.”

But the main attraction of the Street Fighter series was, and still is, a solid multi-player experience; and that is where SCE holds it’s own. A test of strategy, skill, and reflex; wrapped up in graphics and audio that do not astound , but they do not hamper the experience either. Defeating an opponent on the brink of victory is as much fun in 2006 as it was in 1991.

Factor in nostalgia, the “remember when…” moments. The first successful execution of a spinning pile driver, or that first seemingly impossible five hit combo, or an accidental victory from the brink of defeat, or that bizarre tournament where Ken’s dragon punch & Ryu’s fireball were disabled. The multi-player gaming experience is also an interactive trip down memory lane.


Cool Spot By David Steyer

It has been years since I have last played Cool Spot, and it is so awesome playing it again for the first time in almost seven to eight years since I gave it away. The game has not dated much at all. The graphics are still colorful and ambitious like they where in 1993, the sound is still impressive, and the gameplay is so simplistic, it’s hard not to have fun. Still, the game can get frustrating only if you want it to. The memories are still there in a tight, fun little package.

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