July is gone, but the games remain. Sega-16 readers are out in force this month, showing off what they’ve spent their time playing, and the results are truly eclectic (as usual!).
Twin Cobra By Ken Horowitz
I’ve been on something of a Toaplan kick lately, giving ample play time to Truxton, Fire Shark, and lastly, Twin Cobra. I remember not being initially impressed with that last game, thinking that Sega had done a lackluster job reprogramming it for the Genesis. It’s been one of those carts that sits on the shelf for years, silently awaiting an opportunity for redemption. This month, Twin Cobra finally got its chance.
I have to say, the game isn’t nearly as bad as I remembered. The graphics are decent, and the gameplay is old school Toaplan. Truth be told, it didn’t set my Genesis on fire either, but I strangely found myself more forgiving this time around. There’s just something about these old shooters that beats out the “bullet hell” spazz fests of today in every conceivable manner. I actually played through almost the entire game before 2:00 a.m. finally took its effect on me. I’ve since made a resolution to finish it this weekend. Long live Toaplan!
STNG: Echoes from the Past By Alex Burr
I bet you had no idea that I am a huge Star Trek fan. Yes, before the days of ice cold Miller Lite and my fandom to all things Detroit sports, I was a diehard Star Trek fan (I still kind of am, really). I came upon Echoes from the Past when I got my Sega Genesis back in 2000, and to my surprise, it plays exactly like an episode does. And not even like one of those good ones like “Best of Both Worlds” or “Chain of Command.” I’m talking like mid-season four “Alien of the Week” episodes, except where in the TV shows the show figures the plot out for you, this one leaves you high and dry about to figure out how to save the alien race and humanity. The game itself is fairly straight forward: a hail, a mission, travel, do the mission, go back to the ship; but what I have a hard time with is how and what they have you do. You have to rebuild a computer, put a ship back together and you have some more missions… yadda yadda yadda – you have to save the universe as we know it. If you mentally envision this game as an episode of The Next Generation, it won’t be that interesting, but it is pretty fun to go around picking fights with the Romulans and to see how far you can make it before you explode, because the pictures of the bridge crew don’t look too excited.
Disney’s The Lion King By Sebastian Sponsel
Well, I’m not afraid to admit it – I love The Lion King! And not only the video game. Throughout my teen years, that Disney flick was one of my favorite movies. It was the first film I went more than once to see in the cinema. Those magnificent manipulative bastards at the House of Mouse sure knew how to toy with ones feelings with that one, what with all the death, betrayal, guilt and love. It was a movie everyone could enjoy, definitely a film for the entire family. That makes me wonder… so some parent groups got upset because in one scene some swirly things in the night sky supposedly spelled out the word S-E-X, making this an outrage because children would see that dirty, dirty word? Even if so, so what? Just a few scenes earlier Simba and his love interest Nala were frolicking around in the meadow, rolling around, “Can you feel the love tonight” playing over the scene. And there is this one moment, with Nala lying on her back, Simba on top of her, leaning back, having this strange, longing expression on her face.
Dear parents, you only see what you want to see, and after seeing THAT facial expression in that scene we all know you really wanted … but I digress. Interesting, though, that Nala is pretty much the only major character from the movie that did not find its way into the game on way or another. Well, her and that stuck-up toucan.
Anyway, seeing as I was such a major fan of the film from day one, it was a given that I simply HAD to own the video game practically upon release. It was the best present that I found under the Christmas tree in the year of ’94. Selfish brat that I was, I immediately unwrapped it and retreated to play it on my Mega Drive. A few hours later, and I had already reached the final level. I probably would have beaten the game on that very night, too, but as I was getting tired I couldn’t work out how to beat Scar in the final confrontation. I had to wait until the next day to do so.
I hadn’t played the game in years, but this month I decided to give it another whirl. Even though I beat this one almost on the same day I got it, I still drew a lot of enjoyment and happy memories out of playing it. I even still remembered the pattern of that darn second-to-last maze level (and god do I hate those!). However, after almost fifteen years, some things have changed: This time, I beat Scar right upon the first playthrough, no continues needed. I did lose a few lives, though.
Knuckles Chaotix By Christian Matozzo
OK, I’ve been playing Knuckles’ Chaotix lately on Kega Fusion while waiting for my 32X to come in the mail (any day now!), and I must say I am wowed by this game. The graphics are great; the color palette really shows here, and the worlds in this game look candy-colored and really nice. The sound is FANTASTIC, with music that I think is the best out of all the Sonic games, and the gameplay is that same Sonic charm that made the original such a great game, with more speed than the first four Sonic games combined! The new bungee cord element makes gameplay even faster than before! The I will admit I’m a tiny bit disappointed that I can’t play as Sonic or Tails, but Mighty the Armadillo and Knuckles make up for that, and along with the co-op mode that is fun for the second player, it makes this game an A+ title for me. And there’s replay value as well! What’s better than that in a platformer? If you don’t own this game (or a 32X for that matter), go out and buy it right now. It is a hidden gem that hasn’t been re-released yet, and people need to know about it.
TMNT: Hyperstone Heist By Carl-Johan Brax
I traded a box and manual of the Game Boy version of Mega Man III for a complete and mint copy of Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles: The Hyperstone Heist. Yes, the PAL version is called “Hero” and not “Ninja” because people who think they know what’s best for others were given powers to decide such things. I know some books that have caused people to commit countless wars and killings, but they aren’t censored for some reason. Anyway, I played this game with Tiido, also known as TmEE on the forums, when he came to visit me for a week. I was disappointed with the game. The space behind the energy bar is totally black, you can’t throw foot soldiers at the screen (no, Hardcore Gaming 101, this has nothing to do with the lack of mode seven), level four is a lazy rehash, the voice samples are too few and scratchy, it uses the (S)NES resolution etc. etc. etc. Still, we had a lot of fun when we beat this game in our first sitting. The music is fantastic, there is plenty of funny, comical touches and lots of moves and frenetic action. And best of all is the two-player co-op feature, which was one of many good times me and my friend had. We also had some nice meals, the reconstructing of my Tower of Doom (as well as pretty much everything else I own) and many versus battles not only on Mega Drive but Saturn and Dreamcast as well. Thank you for a week of total jawusumness, Tiido.
Paperboy By Joe Redifer
I rented Paperboy a loooong time ago when it came out and I was impressed with it, but not enough to warrant spending full price at the time since there were so many other games to buy and I was just a punk in high school. I simply couldn’t steal enough lunch money to get everything I’d like to have. But jump forward seventeen years or so, and I find it in fantastic condition at a thrift store for less than $6. Since I now have a job which pays a bit better than other kids’ lunch money, I picked it up. I really enjoy this stupid game. I like how you must cause damage to non-subscriber’s houses. That’ll teach ’em! When you run into a fence or whatnot, your character might say “What a jerk I am” out loud. Yes, this game can speak and has voices that sound even better than Joe Montana Sports Talk 98 Football or whatever it is called. The voices are of fairly decent quality, too. Now I’d like to find and acquire Paperboy 2. I don’t think I’ve even played that one, but my friend told me it existed so I must get it.
The sad thing is that most game players these days will not understand the point of the game which is to deliver newspapers. They will ask “WTF is a newspaper?”
Midnight Resistance By The Coop
Back in 1991, when NES players were still enjoying Super C, and SNES players were waiting on Contra III: The Alien Wars, we Genesis owners were handed Midnight Resistance. I remember seeing this game tucked away at an EB, and looking at the back of the box thinking, Is this Contra on the Genesis? I plunked down the cash, and home I went.
I had fun with this game. The graphics were good, the gameplay was solid, it gave a decent challenge, and the fact that you rescued all of your family one at a time, and had who you rescued reflected in the ending, was fun. But for all the times I’ve played the game, you know what sticks out most in my mind? The stage one theme called “Flood of Power.” Personally, I’d rank this song up there with music from the greats like Thunder Force IV and Streets of Rage. It sounds very nice in headphones, it has a good composition, and it’s pretty damn catchy. I’ve heard the original song in the arcade version of MR, and the Genesis version just runs it down without ever looking back to see if it’s alright. The rest of the game’s music is also well done, but that first song is the stand out for me.
In the end, that’s part of the reason why MR has stuck with me all this time. Sure, the game is fun. Of that there’s no doubt. But the fact that the Genesis music actually surpassed the arcade game when it was usually the other way around, was one of the things that helped keep this game in my memory.
Sonic The Hedgehog 3 By Sega Fan
About a week ago, I got an Xbox Live Gold membership card as a gift from a great friend of mine. After we left the local convenient store, where I was gifted this membership card, He said that I could come and stay the night. Around four hours later; I came over with my gold membership card, my 360’s hard drive, and a small list of stuff that Xbox Magazine said was on Xbox Live’s Marketplace. After the hour-long registration process, I was finally an official member of Xbox Live. When I finished toying around with my updated console settings and new avatar, the first thing I went to see was the “Game Marketplace.” The first time I looked around in the Game Marketplace, I felt like a kid in a candy store. So many demos, so many expansion packs, so many classic games, so many themes, so many bonus features; in short, I was overwhelmed.
After I got over the shock of how sprawling Xbox Live was, I took a look down at Xbox Live Arcade. Looking at the newest releases, I saw a huge abundance of Sega software. Stuff like Comix Zone, Phantasy Star 2, Altered Beast, Gunstar Heroes, and Shinobi were all new and ready for download, but the one game that has held my attention for hours on end this week is Sonic The Hedgehog 3. I never had the opportunity to play Sonic 3 until now, and I can say without hesitation that it lives up to the quality standard that was set by Sonic 2.
Sonic The Hedgehog 3 feels like a necessary step forward in the series. The level backgrounds have insane amounts of detail and animation, thus making the zones feel more alive and less static. Interesting Visual effects, like the heat distortion filter used when the Angel Island Zone – Act 1 is burned down, are very eye-catching and makes the game feel more organic. The soundtrack is very catchy and ambitious, as I type this, I’m thinking about how memorable the Ice Cap Zone’s theme is and I’m also reminiscing about how impressive the boss theme is by a technical standpoint.
In conclusion, I love Sonic The Hedgehog 3. I don’t think it’s superior to Sonic The Hedgehog 2 in any form or fashion, but I do think it is solid enough to be worthy of the Sonic name.
Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine By Tom Lenting
This month I bought the Sega Mega Drive Ultimate Collection, the European edition of Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection, for the Xbox 360. Despite some obvious and strange omissions (ToeJam & Earl, Gunstar Heroes, Eternal Champions, Revenge of Shinobi, OutRun), I think it’s a pretty decent collection of Sega games. The European port is a bit lazy tough. The title screen is changed to the European Mega Drive variation, and also the titles of the games in the main menu have their European titles (e.g. Beyond Oasis becomes Story of Thor). However, they didn’t bother to add images of the European artwork and boxes: they just kept the images of the North American versions instead. Also, despite the game titles in the main menu have been changed it doesn’t mean there are actually European editions of the games on the disc. Starting Story of Thor still leads to the American Beyond Oasis edition… I know, these are just minor flaws and the games are exactly the same, but it just seems like Sega didn’t care so much for Europe.
For the collection itself: I enjoyed playing games I didn’t know yet, like ESWAT and Golden Axe III. But I spent most time playing Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine, one of the best versions of Puyo Puyo around. It’s really addictive and never gets old. Finishing the game gives you a Xbox 360 achievement (or trophy on Playstation 3), making it even a little bit more worth your time.
TMNT: Hyperstone Heist By Tiido Priimägi
Last week I had a wonderful trip to Sweden to the Palace of Power where there are chemical plants and Food of Gods (aka where Zebbe lives), and I have to say it has been the best week in my life. Most of the time was passed playing various MD games, and the best one we played was Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles (since Ninja got replaced by Hero in Europe…) which Streets of Rage 2 and Adventures of Batman and Robin closely followed.
TMHT is really great for two-player co-op action particularly with nice sound setup and a great person handling the other player, and if the other person is Zebbe, you cannot ask for more. People say the SNES game is better, but since I have no experience with it other than hearing its mostly inferior music, I cannot really comment on that. Perhaps when my SNES is going to get more love I’ll try that one out. But until then, its all MD for me. 😀
Wrestlemania The Arcade Game By Danny Ramirez
As a long-time fan of both professional wrestling and the Mortal Kombat and NBA Jam series, the creative game wizards at the soon-to-be-defunct Midway made the dreams of many (including myself) come true when they stepped into the virtual squared circle and came out with WWF Wrestlemania: The Arcade Game. Originally an arcade game (as if you couldn’t gather from the game’s title), Wrestlemania was very much unlike every other wrestling game that came before it, and even many that have come out long after it. Gone was the realistic depiction of the not-so-real “sport” of professional wrestling (LOL, I made a funny about wrestling being fake! I r so clever and witty! *sarcasm*) which, apart from the long-running Fire Pro Wrestling series, rarely if ever translated well to a 2D environment, yet benefited greatly from the jump to 3D. Any and all pro wrestling conventions and safeguards were tossed out the window in Wrestlemania, The game’s roster of eight wrestlers (all of which, with the exception of two, are either retired, semi-retired or dead) were capable of pummeling each other with objects such as baseball bats, maces, tombstones and mallets, or launch each other several feet into the air or across the ring in a comically violent manner similar to the old Looney Tunes cartoon shorts.
Despite its unapologetic, over-the-top nature, Wrestlemania is a breeze to control, and its many moves and combos are easy to learn and master after just a couple of matches, which will surely pass by quickly due to its addictive gameplay. Its this hectic, yet easily accessible gaming formula which made NBA Jam such a hit both in the arcades and at home, which makes sense seeing as Wrestlemania was developed by most of the same people who worked on Midway’s “extreme sports” games such as the Jam, Blitz and Cruis‘n.
Wrestlemania: TAG was ported to several home consoles, and it holds the distinction of being one of the very few games to be released on THREE Sega home consoles (Genesis, 32X, Saturn) in the same time period. While the CD-based ports (PC-DOS, Saturn, Playstation) reign as the best home ports, the Genesis & 32X ports – while not exactly looking and sounding the part compared to the coin-op – play just as well, and in my opinion they represent the best wrestling game on both consoles. Its just too bad that Wrestlemania is more of a glorified fighting game than a wrestling game, but I’d still choose it over Acclaim/Sculptured Software’s crappy trilogy of WWF wrestling games (Super Wrestlemania, Royal Rumble, RAW) which don’t hold up well today, unlike this game. Whether you’re a wrestling fan, fighting game fan or not, Wrestlemania: The Arcade Game is a fun romp which can be enjoyed by all, be it on Genesis or 32X (spring for the latter if you have the console and cash to spare).