The end of the month means that it’s time for our readers to share their gaming experiences! Frustration and a high tolerance for bad games seem to go hand-in-hand this month, but thankfully there are some real gems to even things out. Read on and see if there’s something you haven’t played yet!
Fatal Labyrinth By Ken Horowitz
I have tried to like Fatal Labyrinth, really I have. I don’t mind the random dungeons, and I love the “find it and use it” dynamic. The exploration is nice, and the monsters aren’t too generic. What I simply cannot accept is the lack of a password system. No save is understandable, as this game is probably half a meg in size or something, but no password? C’mon Sega, toss me a bone here! Getting to the red dragon and dying is bad enough, but to be sent back half a dozen levels? That’s enough to make me fly off the futon and hit the power button.
You know, thinking about it now, I really should just Game Genie my way through this bad boy. I got to the dragon legitimately, so I can give myself a pass for cheating. I want to see that ending!
Bubsy: Claws Encounters of the Furred Kind By Vince Thornburg
When you’re staring at a pile of cheap games sitting at a local CD/Game exchange type of place, sometimes you let better judgment be ignored, and buy a couple titles that you’d never touch normally just because they’re only $1. I recently did this, and wasn’t sure just how bad this lapse of judgment would hurt.
Bubsy isn’t the worst game in the world, much less for the system, but it’s done enough in the past to have me ignore it when it was for sale before. Today though I figured “why not” and let the collector in me grab about $15 worth of games. I played everything else pretty much, but Bubsy just sat around my bookcase, since I had no desire to run down a slope, jump off, then land on a ledge which killed me because I fell too hard even though there was no where else to go.
I’m bored and unemployed, so I pop the game in. The title music almost makes me flip it right off. Instead I start, and barely go five minutes before I’ve lost all my lives because I tripped on an invisible rock into a small lake. I turn off the Genesis and take out the cart and kindly fling it out the door. My brother comments on me overreacting until he sees the game, then understands. I then pop in Doom 32X to play something I know I can actually play a bit longer. Well, I WAS going to play, but nothing happens. The Genesis lights up and the screen blinks, but the screen is black. I try again and again. I blow into the cart (Which is bad because there’s moisture in your breath which can make things worse).
I take out the 32X and clean it. I clean the Genesis itself. Doom still doesn’t play. I get worried. I take the old standby, my copy of Sonic 2 which first christened the Genesis 14 1/2 years ago. It doesn’t want to play! Nothing works! I sit for a minute and think “it’s all over! It’s finally dead!” I then spot Bubsy on the ground. “YOU! YOU DID THIS!” I take the Bubsy cart and ask my brother if he minds if I destroy it. He doesn’t care, so I take a hammer and destroy the evil. “Eye for and Eye!” I whisper as I place the game in the trash. It didn’t help though. The Sega Genesis model 2 is dead and gone.
Sure, I have a spare Genesis 3 stuffed in a closet, but when I first showed it the 32X is simply laughed “I cannot hold such mastery! I will simply tip over and make funny noises!” I’ll be forced to pull it out soon though, or this just may be my last Reader Roundtable ever!
World Series Baseball By Alex Burr
Okay, I’ll admit it. I’m a Sports Talk Baseball guy. I never really dabbled with any of the World Series Baseballs until I could find the seemingly obligatory ’98 Genesis sports titles were on the cheepie racks at the big stores. Even then I bought that one last, after sadly shelling out the twenty bucks (?) for Prime Time Football and NFL ’98 (which were awful. I’m very picky about my football games). Even still, I never really got too far into a season until last week when I began digging through my cabinet of Sega titles at home. It’s a very fun title! I enjoyed playing this a lot, but there are a few things that bother me about it.
First of all, it takes a lifetime to play a game. When it comes to every aspect of gameplay, it’s mostly accurate, but it takes at least forty-five minutes most of the time. Sometimes it’s impossible to get the timing down at the plate and also with some pitcher’s sliders, and its hard to get it in the strike zone because it has a lot of movement. It also seems like the strike zone moves a bit for each batter, but I don’t know if that’s the case.
This game is totally worth the three to five dollars that your local retro gaming store is going to charge for it. Don’t buy every year’s WSB (there are four, original, ’95, ’96 and ’98) unless your a collector and need them for your set, but if you want what’s probably the general population’s best baseball game for the Genesis, go with this title. I still like Sports Talk Baseball though. You can’t go wrong with “throws to first, OFF THE WALL!” or “Infield in, infield out, infield normal” over and over again.
Vay By Carl-Johan Brax
Return to the magical world of the Sega CD and Working Designs to experience the glory of Vay, perhaps the most standard RPG in the history of mankind – EVER! You are a prince and your mysterious bride becomes kidnapped by some unknown force. The key to defeat the enemy is, as usual, to collect some magical things. In this case, there are orbs that unlock the armour of Vay. I haven’t finished the game yet, but this far it appears the enemy aren’t the least interested in grabbing at least one of these orbs and thereby eliminating my chance of winning against them. It also seems like the prince and all his allies are poorer than ghetto people, because you have to buy weapons in each town – and vay not give them to me for free, because if I don’t win you will die anyway?
I hate the item system in this game. You can only see three at a time in the menu, but there is no explanation to what they do. So when you steal something from a chest, you have to guess where of all six places on your body it will fit, on each of the four characters. If you are unlucky, it is something that can only be used in battle. If you try it in a normal battle, it will kill all enemies immediately in a spectacular attack. If you try it in a boss battle, it will fail in putting a status effect on them or something, be a wasted turn and lead to your defeat.
Instead of explaining what all magic spells do in a vertical list in the manual, with a horizontal list of the characters to show who can use what, Working Designs came up with the splendid idea of showing SOME randomly chosen spells of all characters one by one. This means you can read an explanation of what the Balm spell does five times, and an explanation of what the Spellbane spell does zero times. By the blood I donate to Danderyd’s Hospital – I swear Pier Solar won’t be like how I have told you above about Vay.
So vay not talk about the good stuff about this game? The story is actually quite nice, unfolding slowly and in an interesting vay. The character design is excellent, it is just too bad the animated cut scenes are so few. The voice acting is also superb and the corny humour of Working Designs have made me smile several times. Overall, it is definitely worth buying after getting all the great stuff such as Shining Force and Phantasy Star before it. I don’t have much more to say since I have some serious grinding to catch up on. Bye bye!
Dynamite Headdy By Kyle Timmerman
As one who received my first Genesis barely two weeks ago, I found myself in the local old games shop looking at cartridges soon after I got it. This one caught my eye, and some comment made long ago about it being decent popped into my head. I figured I might as well buy it alongside all the other games I’d picked up, since it was only $5. When I got home, I played the other stuff I’d bought for several hours and almost forgot about Dynamite Headdy. However, I remembered, and stuck it into the system, not knowing I’d saved the best for last.
After about fifteen minutes, I was convinced that it was the best $5 I’d spent in a long time.
Tossing your head around, the main method of attack, is just FUN. The ability to don other heads along the way makes it even better. I’m almost distantly reminded of Ristar or Rayman.
The graphics are absolutely beautiful. The puppet theme is very different from other games, giving it a distinguished appearance and charm that I can’t get enough of. The soundtrack to this game is one of my favorites on the system, and the sound effects are extremely well done. (I hadn’t expected the speech clips, though– very cool!)
Treasure did such a fantastic job on their Genesis titles! The difficulty is ridiculous, though, so this’ll probably be sitting in my Genesis for a few more weeks to come.
Sub-Terrania By Edward Figueiredo
I love Sub-Terrania.
Very few games give you a sense of accomplishment as this one does, in each of its nine increasingly difficult stages – or missions, as dictated by the briefings in the beginning of each new challenge. Ship mechanics and movement are dictated by the physics of gravity, and they are not so easy to handle at first. To make matters more interesting, you must also face underwater pressure and acid corrosion in later stages, and harder difficulty levels have an augmented gravity force!
As I mentioned though, with a little endurance you’ll be a serious candidate for a rewarding gaming experience. And did I mention the cool graphics and outstanding music? Believe me, and give a chance to Sub-Terrania, one of the most underrated games in the whole Mega Drive library.
Ecco: The Tides of Time By Daniel Smith
Ecco the Dolphin was an awesome game that allowed our animal friend to roam the waters looking for his missing pod. As the music starts in Ecco 2 you know that things in the sea have been screwed up again and there’s only one loveable bottlenose that is capable of putting things right… Those bloody Vortex have returned and their bloody Queen has shattered the bloody Asterite across the bloody seas (bloody seas would have been an awesome name for a level). This time Ecco’s must romp his way into the future, as opposed to completing his destiny by altering the past, for he is the stone that split time in two.
Atmosphere, as a concept, never really emerged until games were beefed up into 3D, however, Ecco is full of it and it’s as scary and lonely as Mega Drive games get. The music is awesome, but harrowing, the levels are beautiful, but deadly. This game will see you play as a dolphin, jellyfish, bird, shark, vortex and shoal of fish before you’re through. The only downsides to this game is re-building the Asterite, which is mind-numbing, tedious, coma-inducing tosh and encountering the occasional random dolphin requesting a fish: I’m trying to save the world, why do I have time to get you a fish? Darwin said something about survival of the fittest, so why don’t you get out of my way and get your own fish you lazy bugger? Or alternatively go and get caught up in a fishing net, thanks.
Playing the rest of Ecco 2, however, is like injecting awesome straight into your veins. The graphics in both Ecco games are awesome and it is through this that the game derives a sense of reality not present in titles like Sonic The Hedgehog, Comix Zone, Streets of Rage 2 & 3, and you can almost imagine stuff like this occurring in the world’s oceans daily. People who hate this game have no soul. This game also has baby Orcas in it.