Features Reader Roundtable

Reader Roundtable Vol. 43

Want to find a way to beat the heat? Stay indoors and play Genesis! What better way to spend a lazy summer than in front of a cool fan or air conditioner, surrounded by your favorite games? That’s what our staff and readers have been doing this month, and I don’t hear anyone complaining!


Super Hang-On By Ken Horowitz

After seeing it languish on my shelf for what seems like an eternity, I finally decided to give Super Hang-On another chance. Since it was released, I’ve periodically come back to it, vainly hoping that my memories of a sluggish racer that controls poorly were wrong, and that the game is actually smooth and fun. Upon my latest effort, I find my feelings… mixed.

Super Hang-On still controls poorly; there’s no denying that. It takes FAR too long for your bike to go through the turn animations, and this makes recovering on a tight turn much more difficult than it should be. However, I did find myself more at peace with the choppy scaling. It must be from having gone back and played Space Harrier II and Super Thunderblade recently. I suppose I’ve built up something of an immunity to it.

Moreover, the original mode is still awesome, and the soundtrack rocks more than ever. I’d have to say that despite its questionable controls, Super Hang-On can be enjoyable if you give it a chance and ease into it. I doubt I’ll ever completely finish arcade mode though!

Jennifer Capriati Tennis By Alex Burr

Sssshhh. Don’t tell anyone. I haven’t played much Genesis this month (I got Call of Duty 4 for my birthday), but what I did play is what I think is a very, very underrated game from 1992, Jennifer Capriati Tennis. I think this game is a solid tennis game that allows for that arcadey feel but does have some level of strategy to it. The one problem is that it’s one of those titles I talked about in my Ten Commandment articles; it’s a regular old game sponsored by a famous athlete at the time. That doesn’t do it any good, but you have to believe me. The tournament mode is the best one, in my opinion, and I always play as the top seed. Surprisingly, I have never actually had the patience to finish that particular mode, but it is quite fun. No, JCT is not the greatest tennis game ever made, but I’m fairly certain that it’s the best one for the Genesis (though, I do have to say it’s one of like, three I’ve ever played. Sssshh!).

Lunar: The Silver Star By Sebastian Sponsel

Every once in a while, I enjoy playing a good RPG. There are times for fast actions and blowing things up, but every once in a while I simply like to kick back and relax, to take some time and watch a story unfold, with just little bit of interactive participation on my part, giving me a certain feeling of accomplishment.

I had never played Lunar: The Silver Star before, but after hearing a lot of praise about this game, I decided to give this CD a spin. Granted, the game is pretty easy, almost too easy for my tastes. But then again I didn’t seek action, but an enthralling and entertaining story, and on that level this game truly delivers. What starts out as a childish adventure becomes a quest about saving the world – that in itself isn’t really all that original. But the story development is excellent, and the slow transition from childish innocence to epic responsibilities is superbly pulled off. So yeah, the battles are easy and the entire game isn’t all that difficult. But right now I want to escape all manner of stress and bustle and just lean back, enjoy some nice music, and be captivated by the story – and on that level, Lunar delivers, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Super Street Fighter II By Christian Matozzo

I’m a big Street Fighter fan. So when I went down to my Mom’s friend’s house this weekend and they had a bunch of Genesis games, one being Super Street Fighter II (which I didn’t own), I definitely had to try it out. Now, they only had three-button controllers, but surprisingly they weren’t all that bad to play with. I even managed to beat the game while using one. Now, I do prefer the later installments of the Street Fighter series, since they’re not plagued by slowdown, slowdown, and more slowdown, but this was a pretty good play. I really do hate those screens of the fighter’s face beaten up though, they look plain disgusting. Why is Ken’s face covered in blood? Where is it coming from? He’s not getting that beat up is he? It just looks disgusting to me. But in the end, I went home with the game and a couple of other Genesis games I didn’t have, so it’s all good. I’ll probably be popping this one in for a while since I’ve got a six-button to use.

Sonic The Hedgehog 2 By Tom Briggs

This month has been a hectic one for me. Amidst the traveling from southern California to northern California (and back again), I’ve spent a lot of time at work, and trying to figure more important things out. Big life changes happening this year! Still, I always dedicate at least a small portion of my time to the lovely Sega Genesis and it’s fantastic catalog of games. This month, I’ve been oddly playing a lot of Sonic 2. An oldie but goodie, Sonic 2 was the deciding factor in my console of choice for a long while. It just did everything right. It felt bigger than Sonic 1, it was faster, prettier, and had a second playable character!

Nowadays, sequels are an industry mandatory. Just look at each year’s E3. Many of these games disappoint because they fail to deliver anything more than new maps. Gone are revolutionary gameplay changes that we saw in the 16-bit days. While Sonic 2 was recognizable to any Sonic The Hedgehog fan, it played vastly superior to its original. And what’s crazy, is that it was developed by the Sega Technical Institute! Besides handing over the Metroid franchise to Retro Studios, I can’t recall a more bold move in industry history. And even then, Metroid had been a stagnant series for a full console generation, whereas Sonic The Hedgehog was just starting to realize its true popularity potential.

Simply put, there are few other games which I would rank above Sonic The Hedgehog 2. Just playing the game now, in the summer, brings great memories to mind. I owned a Sega Genesis at my dad’s, and a SNES at my mom’s. I’d spend my summers in northern California with my dad, and my siblings and I would play Sonic 2 all day long. If the deciding factor in the value of a video game is longevity and memories, then Sonic 2 is an absolute masterpiece.

Final Zone By Joe Redifer

I rented the Japanese version of Final Zone way back when I was a dippy little teenager of only sixteen years-old. Since that time I had never gotten my Sega Final Zone freak on… until recently I purchased it complete for only $200 on eBay (the seller promised me it was super r@re and I certainly had no reason not to believe him). So now I can play Final Zone again. And… what the hell is going on here? I have no idea what to do, the game is very choppy and the graphics suck. I haven’t even made it past stage one. I suppose I could read the instructions, but the cool kids never do that. Final Zone 2 for the TurboGrafx-16 CD-ROM was much better and even had an animated anime cinema intermission sequence where some dude slapped some bitch! The Genesis version does not feature any awesomeness like that as far as I know. In the Genesis version, men and women are treated as equals. This is intolerable. I can’t believe the same exact people made the legendary runaway smash hit that was Earnest Evans. Now that is a fine, fine game!

Red Zone By The Coop

What game will beat you like a red-headed step child, but be cool enough to keep you coming back like a battered housewife in denial? Here’s a hint: the first part of its name is the color your butt will be from getting kicked so much by said game. Give up? It’s Red Zone! No, not the Old Spice pit stick, the Genesis game by Zyrinx.

In its early development stages, I’m pretty sure this game used to be called “GODDAMMIT!” with a picture of a controller shattering against a wall as its cover art. This little gem has absolutely no love for the player. You will never be so happy to earn a password as you will be with this game (though The Immortal is a close second).

Graphically, it’s quite the technical marvel. The Genesis does tricks in this game that I don’t think even Sega thought was possible. It also has a nice soundtrack, controls that are good (though a bit sluggish during the on-foot missions), levels that are fun to fly through, and even a hidden game of Asteroids that uses the ship from Sub-Terrania (another Genesis game by the same company). It’s something that you want to like. But with a difficulty curve that resembles more of a cliff face than any curve, the game doesn’t make it easy. But you know what? I’m twisted enough to love that type of challenge.

I sat down with this game a long time ago when I rented it from a video store. I spent the first day blowing up and cussing, the second day making small bits of progress, and the third day figuring out ways around the ever increasing amount of enemy artillery. Eventually, I did beat it without any cheats before I had to return it, making me feel like something of a stud at that moment. It’s definitely one of the tougher games I’ve played over the years, and despite the bad rep it’s been given over the years, I like it.

Bio-Hazard Battle By Heath Stevens

Bio-Hazard Battle has always been one of my favorite shmups on the Genesis. This was one of the few two-player simultaneous games that my brother and I would play together when we were kids, but I was never able to beat it by myself until recently. Somewhere along the way, I lost or traded my original copy, but later picked up a copy of the Japanese version (Crying) complete in the box while working at a game store. I love the style of the artwork on Crying’s box and manual, but unfortunately the game itself lacks the auto-fire feature that comes in very handy in the U.S. version.

The weapons and power-ups are interesting, but not elaborate: you begin with a standard shot that can be fired rapidly or charged, la R-Type. Similarly, you have a satellite that follows your ship: it absorbs enemy shots and fires your secondary weapon. There are four secondary-weapon power-up colors to grab, but the four playable ships use them in various ways; the four ships also vary in speed and the fire-pattern of their charge-shot, so try them all to find your favorite.

This is one of the better shmups for the Genesis, and generally underrated. The mood and music of the game are unmatched, and many of the enemies are huge, multi-segmented, and very life-like. While gameplay can get very frustrating at times, occasionally bordering on cheap, it’s still a solid shmup, interestingly developed by Sega themselves, and I wish it had been found worthy of a sequel.

Sonic CD By Tom Lenting

This month I acquired the Sonic Gems Collection for the GameCube. It was the first time I got the chance to play Sonic CD. In all honesty, I was a little disappointed. But lets start with the positive sides. The audio is some of the best I ever heard in a Sonic game. And it’s pretty cool Sonic does not only have a ‘spin dash’ attack, but also a ‘spin run’ move. However, on the negative side I must say I found some of the stages to be a little confusing – and the added past/present changes don’t really help. Furthermore, Sonic CD has to be the shortest 16-bit Sonic of them all. And why does Sonic save flowers instead of fuzzy cute animals like in all other games? Despite all its shortcomings, it felt good to play an old new 16-bit Sonic game again. Just don’t except the same quality level Sega reached with Sonic 3 & Knuckles.

Mega Turrican By Tiido Priimägi

The most amount of fun I have experienced this month came from the mighty Mega Turrican, an awesome run-‘n-gun made in Germany by Factor 5. Awesome intro, acompanied by an awesome piece of music will immediately tell you that you’ve got a shining piece of gold sticking out in your MD that will be keeping you nailed down in front of the TV set for some hours of blasting enemies and searching for collectible items.

The game seemed a bit difficult and required some learning on how to use the plasma rope for example, but once these things get mastered, you’ll be flying though the game to the awesome pieces of music by Chris Hülsbeck who also did the tunes of other Turrican games. When you’ve been reaching some further stages in the game, you’ll notice how the makers of the game liked certain movies, such as the Alien movies, and The Terminator… The boss that is inspired by certain creations of Cyberdyne is certainly making anyone laugh a little, at least I did get a good chuckle and its the only boss I get killed at few times.

And here’s a fun tip: collect all the diamonds before the elevator in first stage and be sure to have a score with two consecutive zeroes in it (like 68005 or 12300) before going on the elevator.

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