Welcome to this month’s installment of the Reader Roundtable! It looks like Sega-16 gamer have been playing up a storm in the last thirty days, and they’re eager to share their experiences. So sit back and see what we’ve been up to this month!
Popful Mail By Ken Horowitz
Man, do I like Popful Mail. You’d think I’d have gushed enough about it enough in my review, yet here I am, still in love with it. There’s just so much that it does right, from the gameplay to the presentation, that one has to wonder why the franchise died with this single, solitary release. I find it hard to believe that Falcom would bring such a gem to the Super Famicom, Sega CD, and PC-Engine CD; and not give it a sequel. Think of all the adventures Mail and the gang could have!
Unfortunately, it looks like we’ll have to settle for her one and only outing, which isn’t a bad thing at all. The cool cut scenes, hilarious voice acting (as in “hilariously scripted” or “hilariously bad acting,” you decide), along with the engaging gameplay make this game alone reason enough to own a Sega CD. THIS was the type of game needed to make the CD-ROM system a success. THIS was the type of adventure gamers were clamoring for. There may still be hope, as Falcom appears to have reaped success with the last two installments of their Ys franchise. If they get a decent enough response, perhaps Popful Mail will get another chance at life.
Super Hang-On By Uri Cohen
Super Hang-On was an early title for the Genesis. Your mission is simple, in arcade mode you must get to the checkpoint before times runs out. In mission mode you must buy parts and race rivals for money. It plays like a regular racer except the game is just very fun. It’s fun when you’re low on time when you’re trying to get to the checkpoint, it’s great when you see the background change from the desert to the forest. What makes this game so appealing is how simple the gameplay. I was playing Super Hang-On in school thru a emulator and in minutes there was a line of people who wanted to play the game. It became so crazy that a friend of mine had his video phone and he was recording a person playing the game on the computer! To me what makes this game so special is the music. Before you race, you must pick one of four musical tracks so you can hear it when you’re racing. The music just simply fit the tone of the game well and sometimes I feel like I’m riding on the bike going at high speed with my turbos on. Super Hang-On makes me feel like I’m home when playing it. A true classic for the famous 16-bit system.
Family Feud By Vince Thornburg
Survey says: Your an idiot!
We all do it. Watching Family Feud on TV has us screaming out the answers that most contestants never say. We all think “Damn, I can do better than that 86-year-old lady who’s so ugly even Richard Dawson would just shake her hand” Then you find Family Feud for Genesis, and realize that now your dreams can come true. The game starts and sounds just like the show. You start off the game, and are asked to name off all the racks in your house. You can think of 3-4 off the bat, but wait! There’s EIGHT different choices you need to find! You try to think of all the racks in the world, including Iraq, then you get 3 “X”s and it’s time for the computer to guess (cheat) .The computers answer? OVEN RACK! They win, steal all your points, and you just sit and think that it was an unlucky round. But the next two games go in similar fashion. Something you do to lose weight? Well, apparently “Eating Right” and “dieting” aren’t the same thing, so you lose again. Even if you manage to make it to the fast money round, be careful that you make answers for 1993, or you’ll be hitting ’00’ down the board. Play this for nostalgia, but be prepared to be annoyed by the computer having answers you’d never think of. Just don’t get so angry that you’ll pull another Ray Combs.
Shining Force CD By Zack Young
Sitting in my Sega CD right now is the absolute awesomeness that made the Sega CD such a great console despite the worthless FMV games. And I am not speaking of Lunar, but of Shining Force CD. Now before you turn up your noses at this offer that is more than anybody deserves just listen to the merits of the game. To start with, graphics are very good. Arguably the best graphics between the other two games this one creates a nice blend between them. The colors are darker and somewhat gritty like SF1‘s, but they retain the detail put into SF2 without being too bright and “kiddy.” Secondly, the soundtrack is absolutely godly. This game was always unique for having a slightly different type of plot compared to the other two games and the same goes for its music. The result is hours of happy bliss for all who love their good gaming music. The gameplay that has always been the core of all games, and indeed what made the Shining series so loved, is just great. Like the other better known Genesis titles, it follows the exact same formula requiring strategy and being rather hard sometimes with the famous turn-based system that is now the norm for such games.
The storyline is all about the struggles of the Kingdoms of Cypress and Guardiana against a group of fanatics worshipping a demon known as Iom, with a small bonus story at the end as an addition. The main thing that made people turn this wonder up was the response that gamers who had started on SF2 gave. It went something like this, “OMG SFCD sux with no kewl free-roaming.” And this is true, but not such a bad thing. It can get a little overwhelming at times, but at least you don’t have to listen to stupid villagers who have nothing of import to say. And the script and characters in general were much better than SF2, whose free-roaming made both things somewhat poor. Shining Force CD is a must have for all gamers.
Strider By Nick Gibson
That’s some tacky box art, but it would be forgivable if the game was of high caliber. Too bad it’s worse than the cover. Okay, I know – who am I kidding? Strider is one of the legends of the arcade that wowed everybody back in the nineties. And hey, maybe back when high-top sneakers were cool, Strider was, too. But it hasn’t aged well, to say the least. Spartan animations, doofy enemy art, and crappy “grate-grate-blip-bloop-crash” sound effects are just the externals, but it just gets worse when you move on to actual game mechanics. I’ve heard many a reviewer gush on and on about the controls, to which I say nothing. I just laugh. Maybe the controls themselves aren’t entirely horrible (just almost), but if they aren’t then I’ll blame shoddy programming and numbskull level design. Other people have declared the music to be “visionary,” and at this point I have to question the objectivity of their reviews. Are these 9/10s and 95% ratings born out of nostalgia instead of actual merit? Maybe. Maybe not. Either way, there’s nothing here for us, anymore. Strider‘s golden hour is over, and I say good riddance.
Contra: Hard Corps By Jacob Ayre
Much like Ghouls ‘n Ghosts or Castlevania: Bloodlines, Contra: Hard Corps often finds itself compared, unfavourably, to its SNES counterpart. While SNES fans heap praise on the laughable turtle bosses and painful overhead stages of Contra 3, Genesis fans can find solace in the simple fact that Hard Corps does something Contra 3 doesn’t: it pushes the series forward. You get four characters to choose from here, and each one comes with their own unique arsenal. Want to blaze through the game? Pick the tiny robot with his devastating Electric Yo-Yo! However, if you want to feel like a true hero, stick to one of the human soldiers and struggle through this adventure with a machine gun!
Hard Corps gives you so damn much, though. The machine gun is just one of the four weapons this character can possess; find the others and you can switch between them on the fly. You’re even able to execute a terrific slide maneuver that proves vital when trying to outwit the monstrous bosses in Hard Corps. At one point you actually — and I’m not kidding here — you actually have to fight a hacker who turns into the signs of the Zodiac! Beat the bow and arrow of Sagittarius and evade the energy balls of Gemini before this foe transforms again. This time you have to fight a wall of blocks that somehow forms a tank, and then a helicopter that drops bombs. Hard Corps is simply the finest Contra game. It’s the one that displays the most variation with character selection and weapon choice; the one that features the most horrific and imposing bosses; and the only one that features multiple routes. And, of course, there are the BOOMING explosions!
Arrow Flash By Damien Jennison
Okay is a word I tend not to like using. It screams mediocrity, average, middle-of-the-road. You never hear movie critics using it and so I try my very best not to use it myself. However, after playing Arrow Flash as much as I have, I find it very had to come up with any other words to describe it. Everything about it seems tailor-made for the word. The plot is too similar to many other “pilot the lone fighter to save the world from terrorists/pirates/aliens” scenario to be special in my eyes. The power up system is also very familiar, too familiar to make me stare in awe at it. The graphics may be good for an early Genesis game, but that is only in certain places as well, also making it seem bitty and mish-mashed. The whole game just reeks with mediocrity and I fight it as best I can, but in the end I fail and resign myself to my fate.
Arrow Flash is okay. It isn’t excellent, isn’t terrible, just okay. What the game gets in the uniqueness of the ship you pilot transforming, it ruins by not focusing on it enough and by making one version far more powerful then the other – you’ll rarely use the ship mode, trust me. You will have only just gotten into the game and it will already be over, it is that easy. A good game that could have been much better, it makes me sad to see what could have been and yet was not.
Sonic CD By Aaron Savadge
I’m a huge fan of Sega’s mascot. If it weren’t for Sonic, I would have never owned a Genesis since the Blue Speedster was the soul reason I chose the Genny over the SNES as a child. Imagine my embarrassment when similar fans would bring up this “holy grail” known as Sonic CD, a game I never had the fortune of playing. Recently I got into the game and much to my surprise I absolutely hate it. The game is riddled with poor level design that prohibits speed and is sometimes just plain confusing. The stages are also uninspired and except for a few graphical tricks, aren’t very impressive to look at. I have hard time telling stages apart thanks to a mediocre use of color. Poorly implemented gimmicks like time travel add some life to the game but not enough. The special stages are boring and Sonic’s control doesn’t seem as tight as other titles. I’m not going to place any blame on the infamous soundtrack swap because that doesn’t bother me, a different set of songs isn’t going to make this Sonic game on par with the others.
Cutie Suzuki No Ringside Angel By Saad Azim
The reason I’m currently playing Cutie Suzuki No Ringside Angel is because it feels refreshing. Graphically, this game did not break any new barriers, it probably repaired some of the old ones. Featuring a total of ONE level, and palette swapped bodies with different face/hair combination the visuals were bare bones. Although, the artists too the time to include TWO types of shoes. The audio is not-bad mostly because it’s non existent.
Still the game has it’s moments. Like, throwing someone out of the ring, beating them senseless until the count of eight, and climbing back in to the ring to win because your opponent was disqualified. Or if you’re playing music in the background, the announcer’s lip movements might accidentally synch with Heart of Madness…or Baby Bot Back. And after years of Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, King of Fighters and the likes; Ringside Angel was a refreshing break from the standard assortment of Vs. Fighting, while retaining the one-on-one competition.
Castle of Illusion By Joe Redifer
I’ve never been a fan of Mickey Mouse. All my life up to this day I’ve thought he was kind of a wimpy, unfunny character and I never understood his appeal. But who cares? I can’t stop playing Castle of Illusion on my 16-bit Sega Genesis! I first saw the legendary Johnny Power talk about Castle of Illusion on the runaway hit show Video Power. At least that’s where I think I saw it first in action. This was maybe a month or two before its release. The music sounded 8-bit but the game looked really fun. I debated whether I should buy a Genesis game with bad music (as in sounding like the Master System). The game came out and I bought it anyway.
The music had been much improved since Johnny Power’s immensely detailed 9-second preview. The game is super addicting and is, by far, the best video game that has to do with Disney EVER. Yes, better than Quackshot. Better than World of Illusion. Better than Mickey Mania. Better than any of those Kingdom Hearts games. I just can’t stop playing. Never have been able to. The colors are amazing, as is the graphic design and animation considering this game only has 4 mega power. They even stole the waterfall from Revenge of Shinobi, made it transparent, and put it into this game. Kamiya Studios did an amazing job with the music. You’d swear Sega stole Koji Kondo from Nintendo for this game. Legendary Sega sound man “Bo” gave his nod of approval and was sent back to his cubicle. His nod was his only contribution, poor guy. The gameplay is super smooth and very refined. Sure, I can beat the game without losing a life and I play though the same way each time, but it always remains fun. A must have.
Revenge of Shinobi By David Steyer
My hunt for the Batman version of Revenge of Shinobi has allowed, err, force me to actually sit down and play the game to see if my version has Batman. No luck yet, but in addition, it sure is a great game after all of these years. Revenge of Shinobi was one of the first Genesis games and proved two things: The genesis rocked, and a great arcade game can be adapted into a great (albeit different) console game. Some say Shinobi 3 was a better game, but I digress, even though Shinobi 3 was a great game and I have fond memories. I thought there was more replay value in Revenge of Shinobi as enemy placement can spell death and the tricky bosses are dangerous! Moreover, a higher skill level. Oh yeah, the movie references made it even more memorable… and desirable to some.
Lunar Eternal Blue By Nick McKay
I haven’t played the first Lunar or either of the PlayStation remakes, but Lunar Eternal Blue did a good job of explaining what you needed to know. The graphics were very colorful, and the impressive animated cut scenes actually ran at a tolerable frame rate. I was also impressed by the size of the bosses. As for sound, the music was top-notch. But I have mixed emotions about the voice acting, while most of it was good, I couldn’t stand Lucia’s voice; it was too pathetic. The only other flaw with the game was that when your character hit a wall, you kept moving. This could become frustrating when trying to talk to a particular NPC or when you were trying to enter a door. With that aside, this was the most fun I’ve had with my Sega CD.