Features Reader Roundtable

Reader Roundtable Vol. 24

This month’s installment marks the second anniversary of our most popular feature! Each month we endeavor to bring our gaming experiences to you, so that hopefully you’ll see something new or be willing to go back anf give a game a second chance. This month is no different, and there’s some good diversity here, as well as some love for the classics!


California Games By Ken Horowitz

I remember the first time I played the Genesis version of California Games. My friend Miguel was drunk off his arse, and three of us went along with him when he suddenly decided he wanted to get a new Genesis game. We all maliciously coaxed him into buying it, and the man was downright livid when he sobered up and found out what he had purchased. It’s ironic really, because California Games on the Genesis should have been the definitive version. The sad reality is that it’s been cruelly butchered, and no Sega, cool visuals do not make up for the fewer events and a complete lack of sponsors. The gameplay is just as solid as ever, but I can’t help but feel disappointed in just how much potential was wasted here. Sega could have made this game shine on the hardware, and instead we get a gimped version.

Gain Ground By Vince Thornburg

Seeing as I’ve spent the month trying to get my new Sega CD to play, and have realized that it would never turn on, I was pretty saddened by my luck with CD based systems lately. First my second Sega Saturn has a busted motor, and now I’m in the middle of repacking a huge Sega CD bundle I bought off eBay because it doesn’t work! I pretty much didn’t even want to touch my Genesis!

But my brother found my 6-1 plug and play game and plugged it in the living room a few days ago. I’m happy again! While I got to play Alex Kidd for the first time in awhile, and Sonic 2 is always good for some closed-eyes game playing, the game I was really into playing this time around was Gain Ground! Gain Ground is one game I REALLY wish would get a 3D remake treatment! You start off with three simple warriors, as you fight up a continuous battlefield, rescuing your other fight friends along the way, who also become soldiers! Sure, the graphics may not be the best around, but that music can save even the worse level in Awesome Possum!

Soon, I was soundly defeated on the fifth level, since I’m really not even that good at the game, but this game is still awesome, and now I’m okay with having to send back the Sega CD. I STILL WANT ONE THOUGH…..*cries*

Shining Force: Legacy of Great Intention By Tom Briggs

This month I’ve been dedicating most of my time to Shining Force: The Legacy of Great Intention. Some people are Fire Emblem fans; I’m a Shining Force man. The series has always been a favorite of mine. I even bought import copies of parts two and three of Shining Force III, knowing damn well I wouldn’t understand a thing. The Legacy of Great Intention showed me that there was so much more that could be done with the RPG genre. I sold my original copy long ago though, so it came as a pleasant surprise when Sega released the game on the Genesis Virtual Console. Revisiting the game has been quite eye-opening. Things are a little slower than I remember, and controlling my characters can feel a bit clunky, but for a 1991 release, the game was incredibly ahead of its time. So many of the strategy RPG elements that we see today in games like Advance Wars are all present in Shining Force. This, along with a fantastic soundtrack and charming characters make what was and is my second favorite strategy RPG of all-time. Now if Sega would just release Shining Force II already…

Alien Soldier By Zebbe

Alien Soldier is perhaps the most original and intense run-‘n-gun video game that exists. You are a man-bird-robot, quite similar to South Park’s man-bear-pig, out to destroy an evil terrolist (sic!) who is a man-tiger-robot. You have six different weapons to use, of which three are useless. You can also stay in the air or make a firing eagle-attack across the screen which damages the enemies if you have full health. It is called the zero-teleport and is essential to master when playing the game. There is nothing more breath-taking than shielding the boss’ fire to health shots, take them so you get full health and do the zero-teleport through their weak spot so they die! Another adrenaline-driving thing is that you always have one health point left even if your last hit really would have killed you. Destroying a boss after a while with only one hit point is so relieving. The non-stop action is so varied you will have to find a different tactic on each of the thirty bosses, unlike in the Mario series where all bosses are exactly the same.

Alien Soldier was For Mega Drivers Custom. It couldn’t be done on the Turbo CPU-8 without a whole deck of upgrade cards or on the Super Nintendo’h without a bag full of Super-Duper-FX chips that made the game cost as much as a Neo-Geo game. The “24-bit” (LOL!) Neo-Geo couldn’t handle Alien Soldier either, simply because it has zero background layers while Alien Soldier demanded two, which the Mega Drive of course has. Treasure attempted to port the game to the Plaything 2, but it failed and the version was plagued by extensive loading times due to the poor DVD format. The version Wiimen are playing suffer from the same problem. No, if you want to put the 68000 heart on fire, you must do it in its true form. On the Sega Mega Drive, the console that defined Blast Processing and put gaming action several levels higher than before.

Sonic The Hedgehog By Tom Lenting

Nowadays most Sonic games take a tour in the land of utterly mediocre. What ever happened to the time when the blue hedgehog still ruled the gaming industry alongside the mustached plumber? I played Sonic The Hedgehog a lot when I was a little kid, and I accuse the game for turning into me an impatient gamer, especially concerning all the platform games that came after it. If those games hadn’t a certain degree of speed in them I would usually give up very rapidly. Of course, there were expectations, but very few. I did manage to gain a little patience over the years, but when I still find myself yelling at the screen and throwing the controller around, I can’t help but blame Sonic.

Shining Force CD By Joe Redifer 

I am currently playing through Shining Force CD together with celebrated Sega-16 forum member Dave White. He owns the game, and I own the highly sought after Sega CD Back-Up RAM cartridge. So we started over at his place and played through chapter 1. This game is a direct sequel to the original which is cool. I guess it is based on some Game Gear game, but the world hates the Game Gear and I will happily join the world in that regard. The Game Gear never had any right to exist. Anyway, the Game Gear was far too weak to have towns included in the game (no hardware support for towns), so there are no towns in the CD version, either. Instead you get a side view between battles where Lowe from the first game tends to your needs. It’s kind of weird, but it works. This makes the game 100% strategy battles and 0% RPG. The game is fun. Real fun. A few days later we started playing chapter two on my highly illegal pirate CD-R of the game at my place. It was intense playing the game knowing that at any moment the FBI, RIAA, MPAA and legendary actor Will Smith could bust through the door, shoot us in the face and urinate on our corpses. It’s pure adrenaline rush, I tell ya! Anyway we’ll eventually beat this game. Yay us!

Shui Feng Yun Zhuan By Damien Jennison

So many people won’t know about this game that they won’t even know what to think when I say that I spent a lot of the month playing this game. It’s very hard to get in its original version and would cost a lot of money even from it’s place of origin, Taiwan. The fact that it was made in 1999, well after the Mega Drive’s death in all three of the main markets for computer games, doesn’t help either. What am I talking about I hear you ask? I’m talking about Shui Feng Yun Zhuan (Beneath the Clouds).

They say that this game might be a hack of Golden Axe. If it is, I want to know who was responsible for making it. The graphics are amazing and on a level that I didn’t think the Mega Drive would honestly be able to pull off. The action is fast paced and there is a far wider variety of enemies then many other beat-’em-ups. The magic effects are outstanding and really give you the feeling that you’re laying down hurt. The bosses are unique and have their own fighting strategies, as do every type of enemy, each one fighting in distinct manners. That is why I now have a hatred of people looking around with shifty looks when they wear scarves over their heads. The music is catchy and also very good, especially the third level music. It apparently is rather short (only five stages) but so was Golden Axe and people don’t gripe about that. I wouldn’t know exactly though, I’ve never gotten that far, since I put the difficulty on hard and thus is constantly challenged by large waves of high health enemies, some of them I must admit being very cheesy in their moves. Add ranged weapons into the mix for the mobs and you have a challenge even with a small group of the goon fodder (wait until you see the new enemies on stage four. you’ll want to pull your hair our!) Each character has their own defined strengths and weaknesses.

Sure, it’s all in Japanese, and so I have no idea what the story is, but why do I care? I get to turn on my Mega Drive and feed bandits the cold edge of my blade. A birthday present it was and what a good one it turned out to be. I think I might like it more then Golden Axe III, but don’t hold me to that statement…

Lunar: Eternal Blue By Zack Young

There is no doubt that Lunar: Eternal Blue is one of the best, if not the best, 16-bit RPGs ever to be created. It has a beautiful soundtrack, the great battle-system that we were introduced to in Silver Star, and an even greater, flawless fusion of game and anime. So now that I’ve mentioned a fair chunk of the awesomeness, I’m going to complain about EB’s flaws as they keep it from being as amazing as it could be. The most horrendous flaw of the entire game is, in fact, the character Jean. Why is she so terrible? Well at certain points in the narrative, she essentially takes control and has her own side-story about her past. Ignoring the fact that when you learn it, it comes out of no where, the supposed ‘mystery’ that occurs is so obvious that a four year-old wouldn’t be deceived and the fact that her whole side story feels half-finished there’s really nothing wrong with the game. There are some minor flaws, but just about everything is stepped up. The graphics are more detailed, but not quite as sizable or smoothly cartoonish. The voice-acting is surprisingly good; most voices take a very brief period of time (at most) to be comfortable with. And the game is quite difficult. It’s important to always have updated equipment and to fight with skill and economy as most normal enemies can, and will, wipe you out if you let them try. Really, the only problem with this amazing game is that Jean cheapens it from being a 10 to being a 9 or an 8. Oh well. At least she’s useful in battle.

Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker By Daniel Smith

In a place called Neverland there lived a boy who never grew up. And his name was… Michael Jackson. Mr Big (and with a name like that you know he’s evil) has been kidnapping children, so you must guide Michael Jackson through the levels in order to rescue them from the clutches of this psycho mastermind. Of course playing this game raises the age old ethical debate of whether or not children are safer with an evil criminal super villain or the protagonist, a man who was found not guilty, in a court of law, of committing any wrong doings against minors. Through Moonwalker, Mega Drive music has never been quite so awesome, with some of Jackson’s best works reduced to Mega Drive quality, and makes trudging through this average game that little bit more enjoyable. To be honest, I only got into the second level and then got stuck and quickly bored. I seem to recall the third level containing zombies, which is pretty awesome and, other than the Legend of Toki, this is the only Mega Drive game I can think of (at the moment) that has a monkey in it – Bubbles appearing when Michael “rescues” all the children – so that’s got to count for something. Overall this is a very average game.

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