Features Reader Roundtable

Reader Roundtable Vol. 51

Our northern friends must really be glad to have their game consoles to keep them warm, what with all this snow. After all, a model 1 Genesis that’s been on for a while makes perhaps the sexiest heater around! Since many of you need the darn thing powered up to keep you from freezing anyway, why not get some use out of it? Read what we’ve been playing this month and then pop one of these games in and play!


Technocop By Ken Horowitz

Razorsoft’s Technocop is something of an odd game. As a bounty hunter out to capture criminals, players get to drive to hide outs and blow apart – literally – anyone that stands in their way. This was the first Genesis game to get a warning label (and a game conveniently left out of Congress’ laughable hearings on video game violence in 1993), and the violence seems to be there just for kicks. The graphics and sound are simplistic, but the premise is pretty interesting, and I can see the fun in hunting down bad guys like some futuristic Dirty Harry. Watching them splatter all over the place like flies on a windshield didn’t really add anything to the game for me, though I can perhaps see the novelty of it back in ’89. I was more concerned with the damn time limit in each stage, which always seemed to make me rush into the wrong elevator.

Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine By Sebastian Sponsel

Why beans? Do these blobs of color that interject horizontally and vertically (but not diagonally) resemble beans in any way? Well, I suppose Dr. Robotnik’s Snot Glob Machine doesn’t have quite the right ring to it, but it would have been a more appropriate title. Why they imprinted the silly Dr. Robotnik from the Sonic The Hedgehog cartoon show on this game anyway, I have no idea. In the Japanese original Puyo-Puyo Panic, a 16-year old spellcaster is taking on Satan instead! How badass is that? Of course, what this has to do with linking strange blobs together is beyond me just as well…

Strangeness aside, I’ve started playing Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine, and for the most part I’m intrigued. It’s a nice little puzzle game once you get a hang of the notion that you can link your… well, beans together not just in one direction but both horizontally and vertically. Dropping a chain reaction on your unsuspecting opponent whose playing field gets showered in rocks as a result is highly satisfactory.

I’ve got a gripe with the single player story mode, though: The second opponent, Frankly, is just brutal! It took me six consecutive tries to overcome him – just in comparison, directly after that I defeated every following opponent (right up to no. eight, Grounder) all in one go! So the balancing is a bit off here. But nonetheless, a fun way to spend an afternoon! Should have taken on that game a tad earlier.

Wayne Gretzky & the NHLPA All-Stars By Alex Burr

Gosh, for an original effort, Wayne Gretzky & the NHLPA All-Stars sure is a lot like Mario Lemieux Hockey! Minus the stupid face-offs, stupid fighting and the utter wreck of a shoot out. However, I wish it had included the nice line change thing that that game did. No hockey game since really hasn’t nailed the manual line change like MLH. Anyway, I digress. This game is decent. The darn rink is too small, your players move too fast and it’s simple to beat the goalie when you study where his weak points are (usually he’ll allow a few direct rebound goals off a slapshots, and if you shoot it while you’re skating past the goal line on either side of him, usually the wide side). There’s no dirty goal though, which is good. I really loved this game when I was little, but as with most of the games I play now that I played ten to fifteen years ago. I would place it around the top ten hockey games for the Genesis. But, how long will it take for most of you to play ten hockey games for the Sega?

The Duel: Test Drive II By Doug Jackson

It’s been incredibly hard for me to find time to play games this month. That’s not to say that I didn’t play anything, but I couldn’t commit to anything that took more than a few minutes of play time. Since I bought the new house most of my time’s been going to repairs, and with work being so slow and being home too much, it’s left me a tad bit mentally drained for gaming as well. Well, here it is down to the last minute, and I finally got a few projects out of the way. Since I recently got The Duel: Test Drive II, I wanted to at least try to play it after the SNES port left such a bad taste in my mouth. I tried it several quick times in the last few weeks but never got anywhere with it and hated it all the more.

Finally with a clear mind, and at a time when I knew I had some more patience, I decided to give it one last try before writing it off. I was finally able to complete a race. That doesn’t mean I enjoyed though, it because it was so far from enjoyment that it hurt. I haven’t played the original, but I can tell you that what’s here sucks. All of the voices are missing this time around, and the gameplay is stripped and watered down too. And don’t get me started on collision detection. I don’t think it would work if you held a gun to this game and demanded it to work; it’s that bad! The graphics are also way bad too, the races just take too long, and the controls are questionable, causing too many game overs.

In the end, I was thankful that I gave this game some more time even though I didn’t like it any more for it. Test Drive was a popular series back in the day, but it’s aged about as well as stagnant water so I won’t be revisiting this any time again after I do a full review of this one.

Gunstar Heroes By Christian Matozzo

I bought Gunstar Heroes back in the summer, and only played it once, almost up to the end. I turned it off though right at the M. Bison boss because I wasn’t feeling well. So recently I decided to give it another go, and I really wasn’t impressed. For some reason I just can’t get into this game. The graphics are nothing truly impressive or eye-catching (well, except for the amount of chaos on the screen), the music is highly forgettable, the gameplay is simply hold A and run at most parts, and the end bosses are ridiculously hard. This game just does nothing for me. And you’re looking at a guy who likes Contra, and will play Metal Slug. But I just can’t get into Gunstar Heroes. Ah well, at least I only bought the game for $5 at a flea market, so no big loss there. Does anyone else agree with me on this though?

Growl By Jackie Bogard

This month I’ve played a few games, but I’m going to talk about Growl from Taito. I randomly ran into this game when searching videos on YouTube, and it looked a little like Double Dragon to me. I ran to eBay found it cheap and purchased it immediately. This is an arcade port (which I have yet to play). the game is super short and only single-player, which makes no sense to me considering the arcade was four-player. the graphics are just average at most, but I did have a ton of fun playing through it. has a very double dragon feel without the difficulty. I beat the game my first try through it, and enjoyed every minute of it, the only real complaint is that there is no multi-player feature at all. so if you see the game cheap, I recommend it.

PGA Golf II By Vince Thornburg

Ok, so I’ll admit I haven’t played my Genesis in a while. I haven’t written anything on it, and I have a hard time sitting down to even try to put something out, just for my own sake. But I still have Rick.

Rick has been mentioned before as a friend from out of town. In the time that I started writing less and less, I became better friends with him. The main reason we starting really talking was that I walked into his room and noticed a Genesis on his TV. We played Mean Bean Machine a lot and Kirby’s Avalanche, just because he never knew they were the same game. I helped him become a more organized collector, and we both help scout out games when we’re not near each other. He’s become my gaming buddy about four years too late.

Recently, it’s been less about games and more about him and his woman. She plays games too, and she’s not bad to look at, so Rick has been less and less available, not that I’m complaining, I set the two up in the first place.

Recently, he’s showing me a slew of games he bought for a few $$ a piece at the local Play ‘n Trade and was putting them on his shelf. He then realized he bought a copy of PGA Golf II, which he already owned. He grabbed both boxes and started staring.

“Wait a minute, this box is bigger….”

I’m barely listening and laying on his bed, while his girl is on the couch sleeping. He starts reading both games intently.

“Wait, this copy says seven course’s, this one has… six?!”

I ask him to hand me the games. I read them, and he’s right! One cover says seven courses, and the other says six. Everything else is identical, although the one with six has some patent numbers on the back of the case.

Me: For the love of God…

Rick: What?

Me: You get more ass than me in a week than I’ll get in a year, and you still catch shit like this!

Rick just laughed, then quickly stopped realizing his girl was still in the room. She didn’t wake up, and we both laughed. I put in the game since I haven’t touched it since I bought it years ago.

I turned it off five minutes later. It’s f’ing GOLF, and it’s boring!

The Immortal By The Coop

Blood, guts and gore. That’s what sells these days (along with T&A of course). God knows the Mortal Kombat franchise didn’t get as popular as it did because of its gameplay depth in the beginning. It was all about kicking the other guy’s ass, then ripping it off and showing it to him. But before Congress got its knickers in a twist over the home ports of Midway’s first entry in its fighting franchise, a little game came and went that offered up death and dismemberment without the over-the-top cartoonyness. That was of course, the 1990 port of Will Harvey’s The Immortal.

You walk through eight levels as a wizard trying to unravel a mystery. Along the way, you meet various creatures and people, most of whom you’ll engage in a one-on-one fight to death. Of course, by “fight” I mean stand in place and swing your weapons at each other until one of you dies. Not the deepest battle system, but at least you can dodge, and the fights do rely on your character’s stamina as the health bars increase. But here’s the interesting part about the Genesis version of this game… it’s quite gory.

Unlike the DOS, NES and Amiga versions, this game’s loaded with detailed death sequences for the enemies. Heads explode, bodies are split in two (both ways), heads are lopped off, brains are exposed via a well-placed slice… and that’s not even all of them. You’d think this game would have been the one to make Congress go ballistic, but instead, they waited two more years and then pounced all over MK. Guess The Immortal just wasn’t popular enough, despite the ads that ran pimping the ways in which you’ll die. I’m not complaining mind you, but if Congress flipped out over Scorpion’s “toasty” finisher, they would have had an aneurysm when they saw a character get split from head to crotch (years before Kung Lao ever did it).

Of course, blood and guts isn’t the game’s only selling point. It’s harder than Chinese algebra, just as unforgiving, and you will do a lot of trial and error before you get everything done in the proper sequence (oh that final battle…). It also looks rather nice, animates well, and despite a little bit of mushiness to the controls, handles decently. A very challenging game with a healthy side of gore before MK made it a lot more popular. If you can find it, give it a try.

Sonic Spinball By Aaron Wilcott

I’ve been playing Sonic Spinball on and off for a long time now, even from when I got it with my first Genesis. I like pinball and this game is no exception, but why does everyone hate it so much? I don’t find much of anything wrong with it. There’s a few things I’d like a bit faster or at least smoother, but what more do you want from a pinball game?

I do quite like the Chaos Emerald gimmick and the bonus round, not to mention a few sections in some of the levels. It can be either fast paced or slow as a snail (much like Sonic 1. Oh the irony!). Overall the game just needs patience and a calm pair of hands. There isn’t a whole lot of difficulty to speak of or sections where speed is a must – outside the boss battles – until the final level, but it isn’t mind numbingly easy either. Personally it’s a nice mix of Sonic action with a pinball twist to take advantage of his trademark spin dash move.

As far as flaws go, I do admit the engine could have been refined more. Yes it does work, but I use the word “work” a bit loosely. Sometimes it can be a massive pain getting Sonic to go into that one specific teleporter or onto a tucked away platform. Though I think the utterly useless spin dash and Sonic’s awful jumping are the worst offenders. Then again, this IS a pinball game, not Sonic 3. Really the spin dash and jumping should have been kept to a minimum, since it’s pretty obvious these days more development was put into the pinball mechanics rather than the platforming thankfully. Wouldn’t that have been awful? Have horrendous pinball physics but the platforming is perfected to the height of Sonic 2

I wouldn’t say Sonic Spinball is perfect, but I like playing it. As for others that have a strong dislike towards this game, that’s fine with me. Pinball isn’t for everyone, especially not this game.

Wonder Boy in Monster World By Frank Ramirez

Ever since reading a number of Stories from the Book of Genesis features regarding this particular series, I thought I’d give one of its games a try: Wonder Boy in Monster World. What can I say that hasn’t been said already? The graphics are large, colorful and very appealing, and it they drew me in instantly. The music is quite excellent too. The forest theme is completely stuck in my head now – VERY catchy and well composed. The controls are very responsive. Never once did I die due to bad controls. Those deaths were my own fault (lol).

My first real exposure to this game was through the Wii’s Virtual Console service, possibly the greatest invention in the past few years. And I have to say, this game in 480p is pure heaven. Everything is just so much brighter and colorful than what screen shots can show. In due time (and with more Nintendo points saved up) I definitely do plan on getting the other games in the series if they’re anywhere near as amazing as this installment.

I can’t really say anything negative. I LOVE this game! Any fans of Metroid-style map structures will find a gem in this Genesis game. Highly recommended.

Ristar By Tiido Priimägi

I’ve not played much this month at all, but I did play, and Ristar is the game of the month for me this time. Gorgeous visuals, amazing music, lovable characters interesting gameplay… I can only point out good about this game, and all of that makes you want to come back to it and play more. I love this game, it makes me feel happy and forget all the bad things that have happened.

Ristar rules !!!

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