Forget candy and parties! Spend your Halloween reading what our staff and readers have been playing!
Gaiares By Ken Horowitz
When Gaiares first came out, I remember several game magazines hyping it greatly. Some even went so far as to declare it the best shooter of all time. I don’t know about that, but I do know that it ranks in my top five of all time. Gaiares has it all: awesome graphics, massive bosses, a great weapons system, and an incredible soundtrack (seriously, the music rocks). It’s hard as nails, but I wouldn’t want it to be otherwise, and mastering the TOZ system means destroying everything in your path. My main challenge is keeping hold of my powerful armament until the boss arrives. Nothing’s worse than facing a baddie that takes up the entire screen and only having a pea shooter with which to fight.
Tecmo Super Bowl III By Alex Burr
A fall tradition…oh heck, a year-long tradition of mine is to play Tecmo Super Bowl (in this case III) until my fingers and eyes are bleeding. This fall season, there is no difference. The game’s graphics don’t really impress anyone, but this gameplay is what earns its spot into the Genesis Hall of Fame in my book. Of course, I am the Lie Downs (lions), and only in this fantasy world can I rack up 341 yards a game with Barry Sanders and beat the then-world champion 49ers. It’s just so much fun to go 16-0 and win by a average score of thirty points! I don’t know what it is, but it keeps dragging me in year after year, and I just love it. Fall is here my friends. Go to the local video game and dig this one out of the fossils in the bin and pop it in for six. I just love it. Yeah, there are some things that get on my nerves, like the clock stopping so much, making games take so long, but none the less, this is a game that no one ever talks about and can possibly be in the top ten football games for the Genesis. Go Lions!
Uncharted Waters: New Horizons By Sebastian Sponsel
Let’s talk about pirates for a while, pirates in various forms: Swashbucklers, plunderers, Captain Jack Sparrow… and bootlegged media. When venturing into the seas of pirate cartridges, you head out into an unknown field: You almost never really know what to expect! Just because the label declares a certain title, you can’t really be sure what the game is all about. It rarely is an original title, more often than not, it’s a screen or sprite hack. But to which degree have the changes been made? And what game was it that had been altered.
So, on one of my hunts, I stumble across this pirate cart, labeled Pirates of the Caribbean. The label itself was a copy-and-pasted image of the movie poster. Immediately, I started counting off the possibilities. If this one is a hack of an existing game, what might it be? Surely it’s Pirates! Gold, right? I bought it and booted it up. Sure enough, the hacked main screen shows the same scanned (and ugly as hell) motive from the movie. Curiously, I press start, and…
What’s this? I can choose one out of six characters? Sure, one of them is female, but… they look nothing like the characters from the movie! Surely this is no original effort! But was the main screen all that was changed by the hackers? No, there’s something unusual… all the screen texts are in Russian! I can’t understand a thing. What in the lord’s name is this game? It doesn’t seem to have anything to do with pirates… what scatterbrained bootleg hacker did this and thought someone might think it was a real Pirates of the Caribbean game?
I was curious. What did I get there. It took me quite a while to find the truth. The game is called Uncharted Waters: New Horizons, and yes… there ARE pirates in there. You even can sail to the Caribbean (though you start in Europe and can sail everywhere in the world, be it the Americas, Africa or Japan…).
It’s a good game, though. I finally unearthed a regular copy in English, one I can actually understand. It takes a while getting used to, but it’s actually a good and intriguing game. Some sort of nice RPG/strategy mix.
I’ll never understand how someone might get the idea to sell it under the name of Pirates of the Caribbean though. But that’s pirates for ya: Always sailing under false colors.
Space Harrier By Christian Matozzo
When I got my 32X, I got some games along with it, one of them being Space Harrier. I had never played this game before, but had heard that it was a Sega arcade classic. When I started it up and started playing, I immediately started liking Space Harrier. The gameplay is simple, yet addicting. The graphics are arcade-perfect (from what I can tell from comparing them to YouTube videos), and the main music is fantastic. I can’t get enough of Space Harrier. Pick this one up, you won’t be disappointed.
Mutant League Football By Tom Briggs
October should be a month all about playing lots of spooky games. It is time for Halloween after all. Maybe some survival horror? Or at least something with ghosts and monsters. A little Castlevania or Splatterhouse? Even though I know this is the perfect time for that type of gaming, it never quite works out that way for me. I always end up playing something bright and cheerful, like Gunstar Heroes or Aladdin. I always come back to Aladdin…
But not this month! In an effort to actually contribute to Sega-16 (I know, it’s been a while), I’ve been spending most of my Genesis time playing Mutant League Football. I’ve been a fan of Mutant League Hockey ever since a buddy of mine bought it in grade school, yet I had entirely missed out on its predecessor. The game is basically Madden with skeletons, aliens, and robots… And mutated fields with multiple deadly hazards… And weapons… And referees open to bribery… Ok, maybe it’s not all that much like Madden. Most importantly, it’s an insane multi-player title with competent football. The game isn’t big on depth, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a more thrilling game for you and a friend on the Genesis. Aside from the classics like Castlevania Bloodlines, Decap Attack, and Ghouls ‘N Ghosts, I can’t think of a better game to spend my Halloween playing.
After Burner III By The Coop
On paper, you’d think this game would have been a defining moment for the Sega CD’s capabilities early in its life. The add-on had hardware scaling, the CD medium allowed for high quality music and had lots of storage space, and the words “After” and “Burner” together generally added up to a Sega fan’s enjoyment. Couple all that with the Sega CD’s faster processor, and it would seem everything was in place for a great console sequel to a classic arcade game.
So what the hell happened?
I remember when I fired this up for the first time. My initial thought was, Um, where’s all the improved scaling? If this had been crammed into a 4Mb cart, maybe… MAYBE… you could have explained it away. But when you look at what was accomplished in After Burner II on the Genesis with only 4Mb of memory, how did AB III come out as barren looking as it did? Who at CRI sat there with a straight face and said, “Use the scaling hardware? Why? This looks good as it is.”? The ISO of the actual game data for After Burner III is 4.48MB. That’s just over a 32Mb cart’s worth of data. Even if you take away the fact that the Sega CD had hardware scaling, this game’s scaling should have been a lot better and much more detailed. If they could get a 4Mb game to have rather smooth 3D, then a 4MB-plus game that was almost the same game in many respects, should have had silky smooth 3D.
Suffice it to say, I wasn’t enamored with After Burner III . It felt like a step down visually from the Genesis games After Burner II and G-LOC , instead of the superior game it should have been. Factor in unlimited missiles, rather long load times in spots despite how small the game is, and music that really didn’t do it for me (blaring trumpets?), and it was just a big disappointment. Sega should have renamed it Maochurnai’s Super Happy Sparkle Jet Flight before its release. Then it could have claimed it was a shoddy game hack from some unknown Chinese company and buried it.
Ghouls ‘N Ghosts By Danny Ramirez
October has come upon us once again, which in turn brings about the yearly fixation on pumpkins (mmm, pumpkin pie…..), the morbid, the scary, the dead (or undead) that surrounds Halloween. I, of course, will be following the token cliche of picking a scary/gothic/Halloween-y game to talk about for this month’s Roundtable, but what better game to talk about (at any time) than the first-gen Genesis classic Ghouls ‘N Ghosts? (Answer:………It’s a rhetorical question.)
Aaaaaaah……good ol’ Ghouls ‘N Ghosts. A lot can be said about this 5 MEGA POWER -ed port of Capcom’s CPS1 coin-op classic (unintentional alliteration, honest!). For starters, it was, along with Phantasy Star II, the earliest efforts of “Muuu Yuji” on the Genesis, before he went on to co-create that smug blue hedgehog (who’s name escapes me at the moment) a while later. It was also one of the first games to receive near-unanimous praise from the soon-to-be resurrected “Electronic Gaming Monthly” (As a matter of fact, it was the first recipient of their “Game of the Year” award back in late 1989, as shown HERE), and is widely considered to be the Genesis’ first “killer app.” More importantly, it was a GREAT port of an already GREAT coin-op, which it reproduced admirably in graphics, sound and (most importantly) gameplay, and proved that the Genesis could indeed “Bring The Arcade Experience Home” (sans the dim lighting, cigar smoke and unsavory characters of your stereotypical ’80s-’90s arcade, that is).
I myself have had a colorful history with Ghouls ‘N Ghosts. In the five or so times I’ve owned this Genesis cart during the last thirteen or so years, I’ve loved it, hated it, accidentally thrown it out my bedroom window, fawned over it and stuffed it in a garbage bin, disavowing my loyalty to any and all things Genesis. (Thanks to the latter, I actually ended up selling off my Genesis and its games in favor of an SNES, which also became one my favorite consoles of all time. Blessing in disguise.) To think, this all started when I introduced to the game through a small sidebar in EGM’s eighth Anniversary issue (#82, May 1996 ), which piqued my interest in the game (back then, EGM’s word was as good as gold to me).
Along with being a great playing-and-looking game, G’NG is infamous for being very difficult, and even cheap at times. This is the hallmark of Capcom’s Ghosts series, and it really says something, considering the Genesis port of Ghouls is the EASIEST game of the series. Before writing this piece, I sat down and fired the game up for yet another yearly playthrough, attempting to beat it with just one continue (keep in mind, you have to beat the game TWICE to get to the real final boss and ending, yet another common trait of the Ghosts series). Despite my jawsome skillz and acrobatics, I burned through a couple of continues before reaching the end of it all an hour later. Looks like this game still has my number. One of these days, one continue! *shakes fist*
Even though the original, superior CPS1 version is widely available over the intarwebs and on the Capcom Classics Collection compilations, I still find myself coming back to the Genesis port, and not because its easier mind you. As the case with many people, it was the first version of the game that I played, and the one I’m most fond of, despite its less-than-arcade-perfect nature. (Plus, the arcade port on Capcom Classics Collection Vol.1 is unusually dark, enough to be distracting). For those of you who have yet to experience the jawsumness of Ghouls ‘N Ghosts, or are looking for a bone-crushingly difficult challenge, definitely start with the Genesis port and then look up the rest of the Ghosts series (except for the original, lest you want to be compelled to commit a serious crime). I really envy those who got to experience this game at home for the first time twenty years ago.
Snatcher By Sean Barnham
Christmas Day, 1998. I was a very lucky six-and-a-half year old to find a Mega Drive II/CD/32X combo with a multitude of games sitting under the tree that morning. It seemed that Santa had a friend whose son wasn’t into Sega any more and was practically giving all this stuff away. His loss was my gain, what a great first console!
With so many games, my dad and I didn’t get around to Snatcher for a good few months. It all seemed pretty amazing to me. Here was a game with lots of words, relatively realistic graphics, scary music and… parts where you sit and the characters talk? I didn’t know that you could have things like that in games, it was like television! Whoa, look at that guy’s head on the ground… Maybe I was a little too young for this game.
I didn’t have the patience to play it properly and the shooting bits looked difficult so I watched my dad play it instead. The complaints about Hideo Kojima’s tendency to include overlong cut scenes at the expense of gameplay don’t matter when you’re watching the whole thing like a big movie, after all.
Speaking of overlong, I guess I should get to the point. It took me almost eleven years to pluck up the courage to put that blue disc in my Mega CD, but I was bored and I had the day off so why not? I enjoyed the catchy techno-jazz of the intro, got freaked out by the oppressive atmosphere of the abandoned factory and I was hooked.
I am one of those people who just has to explore everything in a game and Snatcher is like a gift from above. The level of detail is incredible, even by today’s standards, as is the voice acting – it’s crazy to think that they only had seven people in the cast.
The main criticism I have of the game is that it seemed to be over too quickly and too easily. After all these years I know the whole thing like the back of my hand and I even got through the most challenging gunfight (act three insectors, those who have played will know) on my third try. Still, it was a great experience and I’m sure it won’t be long before the Snatcher menace threatens the city of Neo Kobe once again… I’ll be there.
Addams Family Values By Doug Jackson
Well, I recently have been getting into the import scene pretty heavily for the Genesis lately. I own a copy of Addams Family Values for the SNES, but since the Genesis one was not released in the USA I just had to have it. I got a complete copy from one of the users on this site (thanks acdc) and made it a point to actually sit through and finish several more games instead of just playing them and this is one of the ones I’m playing now. I really like this game even if it’s a blatant Zelda clone. It’s a pretty large game, it’s pretty hard, and it’s also pretty confusing, but it’s got the perfect atmosphere and music and is a perfect game to play for Halloween. I’m happy here, I love the Addams Family to say the least, and this game delivers and is one of Ocean’s best games released to date despite them being pretty weak as a company overall. I have to give them credit, since it’s a game based on a movie that actually isn’t on par with the mediocre original film, but at least it far outshines and outclasses the pitiful movie it’s based off of. Thankfully it doesn’t even follow the movie very closely either. Kudos to Ocean for giving us a great game to play overall. It’s just a shame that it uses a password save system.