Features MEGA Bites

MEGA Bites Vol. 04

There’s been some interesting news coming over the Genesis horizon, and as always we’re here to bring it to you in tasty, digestible bits. This month has some interesting information, including the release of a odd Genesis portable that looks almost legit/almost bootleg, the return of a game we thought almost cancelled, the Sega CD working overtime for charity, and more info on the new Golden Axe game that is hacking and slashing its way out of development hell.

Another Genesis Handheld?

Even more than a decade after its first attempt, the Genesis is still trying to find the perfect way to go portable. Starting with Sega’s own failed attempt with the Nomad, we’ve seen plenty of bootleg versions with built-in games come and go. The latest incarnation of our favorite console comes from Russia, and it looks to be the most promising yet. Unlike all the other Hong Kong goodies we’re used to (and even a new one released recently by Tec Toy), this one – get this – actually has a cartridge slot! Called the Mega Drive Portable, it uses game cartridges reminiscent of those used by the Game Boy Advance, and they even have cases and box art!

Of course, we’re still more than a bit skeptical, as the lack of documentation (manuals, registration cards, etc.) for each game and the dearth of sales info available on this device has us thinking that it’s most likely just a really, really good bootleg. The ever-inquisitive members of our own forum have reported that the games themselves are not actually hacks and use flash memory, but none of this has been confirmed as of press time. You can expect us to revisit this intriguing topic as more details surface in the future.

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Sega Still Has An Axe to Grind

Way back in the first installment of MEGA Bites, we reported on the lack of news regarding the new Golden Axe for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 which had been announced by Sega at the last (true) E3 in 2006. After months of silence, the publisher has finally spoken up about the game, and it appears to have undergone a name change. Sega’s now calling it Golden Axe: Beast Rider, and there’s been some interesting developments since we last heard about it.

MEGA Bites Vol 4- 4First off, the game is now reported by Play! magazine to be an Xbox 360 exclusive, but neither developer Secret Level or Sega’s own websites confirm it (Sega’s site doesn’t even mention the game). Also reported is that Beast Rider is centered around Tyris Flare and features the classic creature riding the series is known for. It’s said to be an action/RPG that’s supposedly more mature and violent in content, as opposed to previous installments in the long-running franchise, and there should be plenty of blood and nudity to go around. This seems like a pretty big departure from the norm for the series, but considering that we’ve seen at least three different genres bear the Golden Axe moniker already, the change itself shouldn’t be cause for alarm. I just hope they return to the true spirit of the franchise. Sega has been capable of making an awesome Golden Axe game after the Genesis, as we saw with the incredible Revenge of Death Adder coin-op.

Here’s Sega’s description of the game: “Golden Axe delivers action/RPG thrills as a small band of Riders embark on an epic adventure to recruit allies, expose the enemy and prevent the annihilation of their breed. Delivering an intense and unique combat experience, players charge into battle on the backs of ferocious beasts or take their chances with the enemy while on foot. Fighting skill, wits and even magic are all called into action as players immerse themselves in the struggle to defeat an evil intent on enslaving the remains of civilization.”

So Tyris is now a “Rider?” Or is she one of the new recruits? We need more information! Hopefully Secret Level will be more forthcoming with the details in the near future. In the meantime, expect Golden Axe: Beast Rider sometime in 2008.

You Can’t Keep A Good Worm Down

Just when we thought that Shiny’s favorite earthworm had disappeared forever, a ray of light has shined on Jim’s little patch of dirt and may just be bringing him back to the surface for one more run. Earlier this month, the once defunct publisher Interplay announced that it would be making a return to gaming by restarting its in-house development and revisiting some of its properties like Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance, Descent, and yep, you guessed it, Earthworm Jim. It seems that since the company sold off its Fallout series to Morrowind creators Bethesda, it’s seen a much-needed infusion of funds that may just allow it to return to the industry.

Interplay has had a bad string of luck over the last decade. It was sued by Bioware, threatened with eviction, and eventually shut down for stiffing its employees. It’s finally making a comeback, and since it owns the entire Earthworm Jim property, chances are better than ever that we’ll all be getting “groovy” sooner rather than later.

The Mega Drive Finally Comes to American Wiis

After a year of speculation, Nintendo has finally confirmed that its supposed denial to release import games on the Virtual Console is nothing but that – speculation. As of this writing, there are currently two import games available for purchase: Treasure’s frantic Alien Soldier and the polarizing Golden Axe III. Both are games high in controversy, and while they might not be the most ideal for kicking things off, you have to start somewhere, right? Whether or not you like these two titles isn’t relevant to the big picture. What is important is that we’re finally seeing import games brought stateside by a publisher voluntarily. It’s kind of ironic that Nintendo’s hardware is doing what Sega’s never did and is letting us play foreign games on domestic hardware, but that just goes to show how much things have changed since the Genesis ruled the roost. Alien Soldier has been available on GameTap for some times now, and it’s about time it joins the Genesis library on the Virtual Console.

Personally, I’m hoping that we’ll get more import titles for download, and gems like Pulseman, Panorama Cotton, and maybe even Gleylancer will show up. Sega could even use the already available fan translations and offer some more text-heavy games like Monster World IV for American audiences. It’s a stretch, but who would have ever thought we’d be playing Golden Axe III on a Nintendo system?

Best Bus Ride Ever

Normally, no one would touch the Bus Ride part of the unreleased Sega CD game Penn & Tellers Smoke & Mirrors, as having one’s eyes gouged out by a rabid mountain lion is much more fun. The four members of the Canadian comedy group LoadingReadyRun, however, are going to ride the bus for a great cause. With hopes of raising more than $5 thousand for the children’s charity Child’s Play, the foursome will brave the dreary digital expanse of Bus Ride for the eight hours required to reach the end – and get this – they will do so repeatedly, so long as donations keep coming. In short, the more you donate, the longer they suffer. Their marathon of monotony is being broadcast live at the official Desert Bus Ride for Hope site.

I must say that this effort is admirable on two fronts. First, the obvious nod must go to the fact that it’s all being done for a great cause – helping kids. Everyone should chip in, if possible, and help these fellas out in bringing games, books, and toys to sick kids at hospitals across North America and England. But what’s especially impressive is that anyone can tolerate Bus Ride for eight hours. I’m thinking that the guys at LoadingReadyRun are going to need another charity drive to help pay for their therapy after it’s all over.


Our thanks to Daniel Horvaith and playgen from the forums for their help with this article.

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