Features Reader Roundtable

Reader Roundtable Vol. 14

Another month, another ton of quality games to wade through. As devoted Genesis gamers, we’re beyond having Piles of Shame. Most of us are already approaching Heaps o’ Humiliation, what with there always being that complete copy to buy cheap on eBay or to borrow from a friend. It’s a good thing we have the Reader Roundtable! At least this way our readers get to share in their great finds!


Street Fighter II: CE By Ken Horowitz

Let me be quite frank. I suck at Street Fighter II: CE unlike anyone you have perhaps encountered in your life. My current Xbox Live Arcade ranked tally? 1-10 (my one win comes from a dropper). Thoroughly humbled, I returned to my beloved Champion Edition cart, figuring that the luscious Genny six-button pad would work to my advantage but alas, my meager skills are beyond help. To this day, even after more than a decade of trying, I can’t consistently pull off a dragon punch from the left side of the screen. Combos are few and far between, and I still fear dread whenever I face Guile or Blanka (who are always saved for last, no less).

So why play? Why not? I don’t care what my rank is, and I’ve never played any fighter for bragging rights. I’m in it for the fun of it, and when you know you suck, you’re free to play without any sense of apprehension. It’s the same thing for me with Mortal Kombat or Eternal Champions. Challenge me and expect a win, just be prepared to have a blast getting it.

Ghostbusters By Vince Thornburg

No matter what, Ghostbusters doesn’t get old, even when you can find both movies bundled together for less than $10 at a local grocer. Whether it’s choosing a favorite character, finding new situations in real life where you can quote the movie, or wondering what a third movie could’ve been like, the franchise is always a favorite. The game though, is one of the Genesis’ early highlights, with its well-done cartoony graphics and challenging (but not too challenging) platforming. It even had the first three Ghostbusters, with various stats. It can be beaten in around an hour, and you can just keep leaving and returning to a level to stockpile money, but even with Zed being mysteriously omitted (And Rick Moranis, I wish he’d had some sort of cameo), it’s still fun to pop this back in and start with the bubble gun.

Alisia Dragoon By Tom Briggs

Recently I’ve been trying to add to my Genesis collection. I’ve always gone for the biggest hits, but now I’m a little more interested in hidden gems. In order to satisfy my Genesis addiction, I go on weekly game hunts to pawn shops, swap meets, retro video game stores, and online sites. What finally caught my eye was a Sega-16 forum member’s sale. He was offering Alisia Dragoon, a game which I’ve never owned but have always been interested in. I decided that any game developed by Game Arts deserves my attention, and I jumped on the offer. And I’m very glad I did.

Alisia Dragoon is a good old action-arcade side-scroller. The game doesn’t add much to the tried and true formula of these games, but what it does do, it does VERY well. Due to the tight controls, I had a blast progressing through the game’s vibrant world. The visuals have begun to show their age, but in a dignified way (yes, I just labeled a video game’s graphics as “dignified…” got a problem with that?). Parallax is used in many of Alisia Dragoon‘s stages, and it still looks great today. Add to this a wonderful soundtrack, and you have a fantastic game atmosphere. Everyone should give this game a shot!

Kid Chameleon By Patrick Wainwright

Oh Kid Chameleon, you and your Fonz look (I love that opening animation where he punched the block like Fonz would a jukebox), and insanely long and hard platformer. What is it that keeps me coming back to you? It could be the interesting, diverse levels, or possibly the sheer challenge of the game, or maybe it’s just the amount of fun present in this cartridge. It starts out simple enough with run left to right formula, and the jump up and bash blocks with your head. Then you grab that first power-up and bam! some crazy costume change with new powers. Playing through the game still not sure how many of this power-ups there are, though I don’t care as most of them are enjoyable particularly the Jason mask wearing, axe throwing guy. I remember playing this game as a kid and loving it and even now I still return to it for blast of nostalgia, challenge, and just sheer enjoyment.

James Pond II: RoboCod By Damien Jennison

Ever since I was younger, I always had a soft spot for James Pond. We had his first two games on the Amiga and, while I was too young to understand the puzzle elements of the first game, I was always a fan of James Pond II: RoboCod. It was a fun little platform romp that was colorful and gentle; it lacked all the harshness of other games and wasn’t brutal in the slightest. Of course, it blatantly advertised Penguin Bars, but I was also always a fan of Penguin Bar, or maybe the game influenced me. Either way, it didn’t detract from my enjoyment of a good game.

The levels have lots of variety and the plot, while overly Christmassy, it good for its intended audience, children. It’s not overly hard, meaning it’s quite easy to simply plow through the game in one sitting if you put away enough time. For some reason, however, I am drawn to JP II: again and again, to play it through even though the game doesn’t change. For me, it’s a classic, one that makes me remember my childhood in a happy light and everyone likes to remember their childhood’s happy memories.

Oh, and it makes me hungry for Penguin Bars!

Beyond Oasis By Joe Redifer

I do not own Beyond Oasis, but a friend of mine does, and we decided to play through it over the next several weeks. I had really never gotten into this game when I rented it back when it was new, but I’ve come to find out that it is surprisingly good! We are both having a good time playing through it, though we’ve only spent two short evenings on it so far. The only thing that pisses me off about the game is that the B button is used to confirm and A and C are used to cancel. This is the exact opposite of just about every Genesis and Saturn game with a menu system and it drives me nuts. I’ll press a button to open a menu and use an item. Instead of using the item the menu just closes. Aaarrgg!!! It’s like playing Battletoads with its reversed-for-no-reason-whatsoever jump and attack buttons… but nowhere near as annoying. I do like the six-button pad support for quick access in opening the menus. The graphics are pretty nice and well animated and all that shiz. I don’t know if this game came out before ActRaiser 2, but both mark the beginning of Yuzo Koshiro’s “talentless and drunk” period in which he produced nothing of quality for many years. The best thing about the sound in Beyond Oasis is the footsteps of some characters as they run across the screen and also across your stereo system. This is one of the few Genesis games (if not the ONLY one) with positional stereo effects.

Sonic The Hedgehog 2 By David Steyer

I haven’t contributed to the Reader Roundtable in a very long time, due to school and a new job. But now that college is winding down, and my new job is going great, I am able to devote more time to my beloved Genesis. The last game I played was the classic Sonic The Hedgehog 2. A few days back, I turned on my Genesis just for a few minutes, and I just couldn’t shut the game off. I remember getting this game when I mailed away for it when I got my Genesis system back in 1992, and thinking it was very hard. Plus it took forever to get to the final levels. Well, history kind of repeated itself: When I played the game, I didn’t finish. I got to Oil Ocean stage two, and I lost a life while facing the boss. Seeing that my perfect progress (sans emeralds, who bothers with them?) was ruined, I let out a few expletives and shut the game off. I had wasted a good half hour, instead of two hours on a Saturday afternoon. And when I turned Sonic 2 off, all that remained were memories and ghosts of Saturday afternoons past when I would sit down and play a game until I beat it, or played until I lost all of my continues.

I sure do miss those days.

Sonic 3D Blast By Mr. Smith

The game currently resting in my Mega Drive is Sonic 3D Blast. Aside from Sonic Spinball this is easily the most contemptible of all the 16-bit Sonic games. The idea is basically Sonic (collect rings and chaos emeralds, save world and crush Robotnik), however, this time our blue hero has been given the task of rescuing all the Flickies on the creatively named Flickies Island. According to the game Flickies are birds with “mysterious powers;” however, the only power these useless winged creatures seem to posses, is the ability to frustrate and annoy. There are approximately five types of budgie in the entire game and the colour gives you an insight as to the personality of the bird. For example, the blue ones are annoying, the purple ones are more annoying and the red ones are hatefully annoying – if only H5N1 could infect the island. If this were a standard Sonic game just in the 3D landscape it would be pretty awesome (with the exception of Spring Stadium which would be crap in any guise), however, the quest to save these bloody Flickies will have you searching every part of the zone, which is just plain annoying. The boss levels are pretty awesome and are a glorious respite from the humdrum of playing bird escort. The special stages are also tosh, unoriginal and uninspiring. I’m going to go and buy a cat.

Gleylancer By Uri Cohen

Before you even read this, I’m sure you are thinking that I’m going to say good things about GleyLancer because everyone loves it. Well, you’re so wrong to think that way. GleyLancer to me is one of the easiest shmups ever on the Genesis and also one of the biggest wastes of money. In truth, I found the game to be average all around. People say that the graphics are great, but in reality, the graphics are good in just stages one and two. In every other stage, the graphics seems just so average, with no animation and very simple backgrounds. Also, the same enemies keep appearing in later stages, which so lame. The sound is very mediocre indeed, and the music is just boring. The worst part of GleyLancer is how easy it is. The first time I played, I got to the last boss (stage eleven, I think). When playing the game, I just kept saying to myself “when is this terror going to end?” GleyLancer is so easy and boring that I almost passed out when trying to beat that ultra easy boss in stage ten. You see, the bosses that people love so much are not even a challenge at all. I was able to kill them quick in about 10-20 seconds sharp. While the weapons system is pretty cool, it wasn’t enough to keep me happy when playing GleyLancer. It’s true that I played this game on a emulator, but when you get to stage eleven on your first try, there’s a problem. Do I really want to spend $100 so I can beat the game in one night? No. Let me spend my $100 on Slap Fight instead, at least it has two games in it!

Beyond Oasis By David Howland

Despite owning a Genesis as a younger kid, I never once used it to play an RPG. I was a big fan of the action/adventure-style powerhouse that was Zelda, and when I got back into the Genesis, Zelda was a name that was often dropped while talking about Beyond Oasis. Well, really the two games are nothing alike, except in superficial appearance. Very quickly I realized that Beyond Oasis was something special. The battle system is more like a beat-’em-up than anything else. With a wide variety of moves at your command and a swarm of enemies to defeat, the action is elevated to an intensity I never expected. I was also impressed with the graphics. In the end, though, I found the game to be too linear. I didn’t feel like it was very open-ended. There weren’t really any side quests and the story didn’t develop much at all. There were “dungeons” but no real puzzles to speak of. I found the music to be another low point. Definitely not as memorable as other games. Still, Beyond Oasis was an enjoyable title that was easily finished in a month’s worth of free time. I’m glad I picked it up.

Knuckles Chaotix By Carl-Johan Brax

Welcome to the worst Sonic game I’ve ever tried. Knuckles Chaotix is actually not a Sonic game, I know, and the reason for that is probably because it is so different (read: sucks so hard) from the real ones. They didn’t dare to put his name on this one. The major difference comes from the new “hold”-system. You have one character locked onto another one through rings. There is a limited distance you can have between the rings, and if you try to surpass it, your characters will bounce back and forward to each other. You can also throw your companion to get to new places, but other than that, the hold system is completely worthless and will only irritate you and cause extremely messy controls. I still don’t understand why they decided to keep this crap and didn’t leave it on the working table, or better, in the trash can. The other character will steal your important shields, be in the way, slow you down, make you hit enemies or spikes… it’s just like you have a Homer Simpson on crack attached to you! Aside from Knuckles, there are five different characters, all of whom suck, except for the bee, who can fly, which makes the game significantly easier. The other characters have stupid abilities like walking on walls, air dashes and more, but they are all worthless.

At first, I liked the special stages in Chaotix. It’s like the ball-collecting of Sonic 3 & Sonic &Knuckles, but in a giant hamster wheel with blocks to jump on. But after a while, it became so frustratingly hard that I started to hate these stages as well. I’m still at the second last of them, but I won’t play it again until I feel I have a day that is so bad, where my temper is at maximum anger and things can’t get worse, so this game has no chance to bring my life further down at the moment.

If you have played all six Sonic games for the Mega Drive and have also the classic Sonic CD and want more, get it for the BETTER cartridge add on: The Power Base Converter. There you will find Sonic 2 and Sonic Chaos. Those games are 8-bit and less cyber yes, but you will still enjoy graphics, music, levels and challenge more than with the complete catastrophe that Knuckles Chaotix is. Because they use the hardware in a good way and have that feeling of gaming fun that the latter and many, many 128-bit games lack.

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