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Reader Roundtable Vol. 53

With the end of April and all its rain, there comes a ray of sunshine for those with nothing better to do than go outside. The rest of us have too many games to play! This month’s crop is filled with all kinds of goodies, and our readers and staff have really gone the distance with their submissions. Read on and see what they’ve been up to!

 

Midnight Resistance By Ken Horowitz

I remember back when all my NES-owning friends used to talk about Contra and poignantly point out that there was no Genesis equivalent. When Sega reprogrammed and released Data East’s Midnight Resistance, I finally had something with which to wipe the snarky smiles off their faces. Large sprites? Check. Massive bosses? Check. AWESOME soundtrack? Check! Ah, the console wars…

Of course, you couldn’t play it with a friend like you could with Contra, but at least we didn’t have only Turrican to point to as the run-‘n-gun standard bearer for Sega fans. No disrespect to Turrican intended, but it’s not exactly the flashiest game for impressing friends. Midnight Resistance filled that niche nicely, and it’s still a blast to play. I still hate those darn spinning blades as much as ever, too.

Contra: Hard Corps By Sebastian Sponsel

Let’s Rock!

Oh yeah! That’s what I’m talking about! Plowing down the level in rapid-fire mode, accompanied by a bitchin’ soundtrack, while enemies keep swarming you from all sides and explosions shatter the screen. Pitch in multiple possible endings, an extremely challenging level of difficulty, and the one-hit kills, and there’s no doubt about it. Contra: Hard Corps IS hardcore!

Recently I acquired the Japanese version of this game. In this version, you actually get three hits per life, which get replenished once the level is over. It’s incredible how much easier the game suddenly gets upon this. Already trained in western adaptations of the game, I was breezing through this one in no time. Granted, one continue was needed – in the second stage I handed the controller to a friend of mine, who had never played the game before and wanted to give it a try. After he had lost all lives before even reached the level boss, the controls were handed back to me. Even though it was pretty much a humiliating experience for him – even he admitted the game looked, sounded and played awesome.

This one is the ultimate stress reliever. What are you still doing here? Get up and plug in Contra! NOW!

Sports Talk Baseball By Alex Burr

Sports Talk Baseball is such a spring tradition for me. I didn’t come across this game until well after the Tigers started their mid ’90’s downslide, but this 1991 gem is quite an epic game. This year was the first year that I didn’t keep stats and it was like karma was against me! I lost five out of my first six games, but no matter, I won 25 in a row so I’m 26-5 at this point in the season. I was a little worried there, as I really don’t recall losing any games for years! I’ve also started to actually try to pitch to some of these players, even though I think it’s theoretically impossible to strike anyone out.

It’s also cool thanks to some guys in the forum that I found out that the stadiums in the game are based on actual stadiums in Japan! I seriously think I have learned everything there is to learn about how to play this game, I just have to play as teams other than the Detroit Tigers, then I will become the proverbial M. Bison of Sports Talk Baseball. It’s a seriously fun baseball game that will cost you pennies on the dollar. I recommend you pick it up ASAP.

Sonic The Hedgehog By Christian Matozzo

OK, I’ll admit, I haven’t been playing my Genesis this month because it’s been unhooked. I know I know, shame on me for not having it hooked up. But I do plan on hooking it up sometime, I’ll just have to pick up a game or two to spark my interest back in my mediocre Genesis library. So I’ll take the time to talk about one of my favorite and possibly the most classic Genesis game of them all, Sonic The Hedgehog.

There’s something about the first Sonic The Hedgehog that I like, something that it’s sequels just don’t seem to have. Maybe it’s because there’s no spin dash, or because it’s just Sonic, or because the level layout isn’t based on speed, I’m not entirely sure to be honest with you. But whatever it is, it keeps me coming back to the original every once in a while to try and get all six Chaos Emeralds and defeat Dr. Robotnik’s mechanization plot as I did all of ONCE when I was a kid. But to me, just starting up Sonic The Hedgehog brings me back to my first days of video games. That SEGA choir, inputting the level select code (Up Down Left Right, Hold A + Start!), and running through the starry skies of Starlight Zone is just pure bliss.

Sometimes I wish I were there, just running along and staring at the beautiful night sky above me, something that we don’t really have here in the big city. Sonic’s gameplay really was revolutionary for the time, and the music and graphics only enhance that. It may be overly simple, hold right and press A every so often to jump or destroy a badnik or two, but there’s just something about this game that’s simply addicting. Even today’s games don’t seem to go as fast as Sonic did back then, not even Sonic’s own sequels come close to that adrenaline rush that Sonic The Hedgehog gives you. There’s no doubt in my mind how this game came to put the Genesis and SEGA on the video game radar forever, because it’s just great.

I think I’ll go back and try beating it again, obtaining all six Chaos Emeralds. Only this time, I won’t use the level select cheat to get to the special stage once before I start the game. 😉

Jack Nicklaus’ Power Challenge Golf By Doug Jackson

Chi Chi’s Pro Golf Challenge has to be one of if not the most obscure golf games on the Genesis. I like golf games so I picked this up when I found it at one of my local stores. I didn’t know much about it but saw it was from Virgin whom made other decent sports games. I got this home and started playing this.

Why isn’t this any better? Well I guess I kind of like the top down style of the courses? Wait, I thought this was going to be at least playable. How did the green get so completely broken? Why do I have so many questions that don’t have plausible answers concerning this game’s quality?

Needless to say, I turned this game off after only a few minutes. It’s a bad game, far worse than Jack Nicklaus’ Power Challenge Golf, and I didn’t think it was possible to get much worse than that game as far as golf games go.
I don’t think I can sit through this horrible game to even attempt to review this game (anyone who knows me knows that I’m a masochist for bad game reviews) but this is just too much. It’s now time to find a good game to play, heck maybe I’ll just play Tiger Woods PGA Tour ’04 again for the GameCube.

Lunar: The Silver Star By Tom Briggs

I haven’t exactly had a lot of time for my Genesis recently, but I have had time for one of my all time favorite series: Lunar. The recently released port/remake of The Silver Star (dubbed Silver Star Harmony) for the PSP has renewed my love for the series born on the Sega CD. It’s also raised a few curious questions regarding how my tastes in gaming have evolved.

Simply put, if Lunar were released today, and not way back in the heyday of 16-bit, I’m not sure I’d enjoy the series. Back then, RPGs were still a bit of a mystery – a fresh experience. Lunar on the Sega CD was my first satisfying RPG experience, and it opened me up to the entire genre. I ate up nearly anything I could get my hands on after that, and the experience Lunar offered was rarely matched, and never outdone.

It’s impossible to look back on that game though, and not see how traditional and linear it was. In 1992 though, would “traditional” be fair? The game helped usher in a new tide in gaming, can we fault it for housing so many genre clichĂ©s? I’ve found myself ignoring pretty much all traditional Japanese RPGs recently. The whole genre has become a bit stale. That said, I’ve enjoyed every second playing through Lunar again. And not because of the new visuals or sound, but because when those things are taken away, the underlying game is the same that its always been: Alex on his quest to become a Dragon Master, meeting crazy allies along the way. It’s traditional, linear, and clichĂ©d, but it’s also that one title that can get away with it.

Street Fighter SCE By Jackie Bogard

With Super Street Fighter 4 hitting store shelves, I thought a good way to bring it in was to play a classic: Street Fighter: Special Champion Edition. Why not SSF2? because to me its not as good.

About a week ago, my friend Andy was visiting, and we decided to throw down in SF2: SCE Group Battle mode, and man it was a blast. I loved using a team of guys vs. his team elimination style,and we played the game for a good many hours in just that mode. I got most the victories, considering he doesn’t play the game too often.

Otherwise, this is one game I can throw in and play through and enjoy every time. There are a lot of complaints about the audio, but I actually prefer it over the SSF2 audio. Overall, I enjoy the game quite a bit. The only annoying thing is that the boss characters are missing animations, and moves seem awkward… not unplayable awkward, but it’s weird. Considering that it’s a Genesis port of a game that came out in 1992 (maybe ’91) I think Capcom did an excellent job.

This game and Fatal Fury 2 get more play on my Genesis than any of the other games I own. I prefer FF2 slightly more because I think the characters have more personality, but this game is just fun. Heck, I played through the game three times today alone with Ken, Guile, and Sagat.. and I’m itching to play some more.

Shadow Dancer By Steven Campbell

I know what you are all thinking: “oh god here goes another Shinobi fanboy rant. Just give it up already.” Well my good friends, don’t you scroll down just yet! There seems to be a critical level of disrespect when it comes to Sega’s action platforming ninja trilogy on the Genesis. But why? Why did this game get paired up with the atrocious Virtua Fighter 2 and yanked from Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection in order to make room for Golden Axe Warrior and Fatal Labrynth? Why have I read reviews from credible video game websites stating that it was for the best? Why are people turned off by games that own their asses?

It’s not the Shadow Dancer’s fault that you suck, so give credit where credit is due and for God’s sake get a damn Game Genie! I personally grew up in the arcades of the late ’80s early ’90s and quickly learned at a very young age how to stretch those quarters out so the one-hit death isn’t such a big deal to an experienced cabinet master such as myself. You absolutely have to love the “arcadeness” of Shadow Dancer, especially if you are as obsessed with the original arcade Shinobi as I am. It’s as if they took that game and literally injected steroids into it, and I have officially fallen head over heels for it, especially with an arcade stick!

Toxic Crusaders By Greg Jurkiewicz

I actually never played this one until I read the review on the site. The review really rips into this game so badly that I just had to go and try out for myself. I’m glad I did. I like Toxic Crusaders. Hell, I like it a lot. In fact, I’d say it makes my top 25 Genesis favourites. Now I’ll agree, it’s not a mind-blowingly polished game. It does have a some flaws, as the review points out. The game does come off as a bit unfinished but not in any way so as to be unplayable. The shortcomings are entirely cosmetic. The power-ups could be differentiated more and the character sprites could use some work. But overall Toxic Crusaders is still a lot of fun. The level designs are quite nice and detailed and the game really does capture that early ’90s comic feel. The hit detection is a lot better than a lot of beat-’em-ups, and I found the overall gameplay to be a lot better than the Golden Axe games. The combat is quite fun, and the only gameplay downside I saw is that the stolen helicopters are mostly useless. Whatever… you can just blow them up anyway. I guess it’s something of a cult hit for me, like a cheesy B movie, but I’m definitely glad I decided to pick this up.

Secret of Monkey Island By Aaron Wilcott

Man, this month has been very enjoyable thanks to Secret of Monkey Island and the Mega Mouse. SOMI is an old favorite of mine, and its Sega CD port is no exception to me, despite its flaws. These include a lowered color palette (VGA 256 to SCD 64), general slowness, and slightly long load times. In fact, Sega CD Secret of Monkey Island is the sole reason I purchased a Mega Mouse to begin with.

Where to start… Perhaps I should give my impression on this wonderful accessory first. It has a very nice shape and feel to it, and it features three buttons, as well as a start button located on the main body of the mouse. It also has a ball mechanism which to me, offers way more precision over a laser mouse (I realize laser mice didn’t exist back in the early ’90s, I just wanted to make a comparison). The sensitivity of the Mega Mouse is perfect for me, not too fast and not too slow. It’s MUCH better than using the standard game pad.

If any of you reading this has played Secret of Monkey Island before, you’ll appreciate the replayability of this game. I’ve beaten SOMI many, many times on the PC, and it has never gotten old, even though I know how to solve every puzzle in the game. Maybe one or two on Monkey Island I’ve partially forgotten over the years, but overall I know this game well enough.

SOMI’s save feature is something I should make note of. To be honest, I have been very reluctant to use this feature; mainly because I fear it won’t save certain things like insult sword fight retorts or particular items. I’ve read that the save feature does record items required to finish the game, but it’s the things I already mentioned that bother me. Due to this, I’ve actually left my Genesis 32X CD on for many hours, even overnight. I’ve no idea if making the Sega CD read from the disc after sitting idle for upwards of twelve hours is detrimental to the function of the add-on. Maybe someone could verify this in the comments?

One more amusing thing I want to share is the infamous and, I assume, well-known stump joke. If you don’t know what this is, I’ll explain. In the Melee Island Forest near the Circus on the main map, there exists a stump which, in the original release of SOMI, would conceal a hole leading to a huge maze of caverns according to Guybrush. If our hero tries to enter the stump, the game would prompt you to insert floppy disks #23, #47 and #114. Obviously the original game was not shipped with this many floppy disks, so Guybrush wouldn’t be able to enter the stump. This joke was removed from subsequent versions, including the Sega CD port. I am merely expressing that I remember this joke very well from playing the game on PC, and that I feel a bit sad to not see this once again, even if the joke wouldn’t fit with this release given it was shipped on a compact disc.

Well, this is essentially all I had to say about Secret of Monkey Island. This month has been a good month, there’s nothing like playing old favorites. To all the Mega Mouse owners on the Sega-16 forums, I hope you all will (or have) give(n) Secret of Monkey Island a play. Given the limitations of the Sega CD, it is a fine port.

Streets of Rage 3 By Frank Ramirez

I only played this once on the original Genesis back in the ’90s, and, having only one controller at the time, I took the game solo and couldn’t beat it. I thought it was because of either my lack of skill, or because I was outnumbered without any sort of help. Now in the present time, I would come across reviews of the game, saying how HARD it was. “Oh please,” I would say to myself, “how hard can it possibly be?”

I didn’t know how soon I’d be eating those words. With a friend, we fired up Streets of Rage 3 from Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection on the Xbox 360 and… we got slapped around like defiant children. And the setting was on EASY. I think I can safely say that yeah, this game is RIDICULOUSLY hard, great graphics and fantastic music aside. And am I the only one who thinks the soundtrack for this game totally blows Streets of Rage 2’s music out of the water?

Terminator CD By Chris Leathco

This one is an overlooked classic. I had never even heard of Terminator until online game reviewer James Rolfe featured it on the AVGN show. It looked interesting, so I hunted it down to give it a try. The FMV seems worse than the standard Sega CD stuff. Most of it is from the future scenes of the movie, but there’s not much that’s even recognizable. Fortunately, that’s the weakest part of the game. Once you get into the gameplay, the first thing you notice is that the music rocks. I think this is the best music I’ve heard on the console thus far. All of the tracks are fitting for the corresponding stage and get your adrenaline pumping.

The game itself, I like to think of as a thinking man’s Contra. The controls are tight, but you can’t run and gun your way through levels. All enemies require extended gunfire to take down, and anything above you average drone takes at least a couple grenades. Most of the time it’s easy to target an enemy above or below you, but on staircases your gun is locked it one direction, which seems to be a minor flaw. It’s got many cool moments, like in the second stage when a hunter/ killer jet swoops down on your position. You have to react fast, or else it’ll torch you. The Skynet infiltration is cool too, with unique jets and dog-like terminators. I still haven’t beaten the sixth or seventh level, but the game has been a blast so far.

So for anyone out there hunting for a quality Sega CD game that’s not your standard fare (the Lunar games brought me to the expansion) give the Terminator a try. It’s an overlooked standout for the system.

Shaq Fu By A. A. Dawson

Reading an overly negative review for any game is a sad thing. Such editorials are usually written up by some close-minded individual who probably spent about five minutes playing and thirty or more minutes thinking up as many negative things to say about the game as possible. In a worst case scenario, they will bash a game that is actually great and popular, hanging on the hope that their bad attitude and total lack of respect for anything more than a few years old will propel themselves into high notoriety amongst the crowd of video and/or text critics. Usually though, most “game bashing” reviewers bite upon the developers’ licensing deal rather than examine the good qualities of their finished product. This brings me to my case in point…

Shaq-Fu was a cartridge venture put together by the good people over at Delphine Software International and Electronic Arts. Back in the day, the game was used as a method of sticking then rising star, Shaquille O’Neal’s name inside your house as a reminder that he was somewhere “out there” playing basketball and making money. Today, people take that same game and bash it… literally with blunt objects! Why? Is the game THAT bad? Not really. From a graphical and gameplay standpoint, it’s just fine. Where does all the hate for this game come from? The license, the plot, and perhaps the character design. Had Delphine only made a generic versus fighter in place of Shaq-Fu, all those nasty reviews and videos of people smashing their cartridges wouldn’t even exist. This just goes to show you what celebrity licensing and a bad story line can do to a game, even if the gameplay, animation, and music are just fine.

If you want a fighter worse than Shaq-Fu, look no further than Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers. Just play the two and see how there’s a slight difference in substance. For a worse alternative on the SNES, try Street Combat. There are many less inspired titles out on the market.

Final Fight CD By Nick Mclean

Way back in 2008 I was just getting into the Sega CD. After catching my first model 1 on fire. I looked to replace it, and after a few weeks a nice model 2 popped up on Sonic’s Bazaar. I bought it and Final Fight CD off a member named ThunderForce. When it finally arrived, I was stoked and hooked it up, putting in Final Fight CD, knowing full well it would probably be the game I always associated with the console. The disc spooled, the famous music played and I started one of the hidden gems of the SCD…

I hated it. Just couldn’t get into it. I thought it was a half-ass version of Streets of Rage. I popped in Silpheed, immediately forgot about Final Fight CD and hadn’t played it since. A couple days ago I was in Movieland Arcade in downtown Vancouver. Walking past all the machines I couldn’t find anything I wanted to play, until I saw this weird cabinet called the Ultracade… it was a very shifty looking multi-game cab like an MVS on crack. I was lured in by none other than… Gun.Smoke by Capcom.

Gun.Smoke turned out to be about 8,000 times more difficult than the NES version, and I lasted about thirty seconds. Wanting to play something I could last a minute or more at, I cycled through to one of the only other games I knew. Final Fight.

I did well and had a good time. It made me revisit the game on the Sega CD at home, and I finally realized what everyone was talking about. It is exactly like the arcade version! Unlike Gun.Smoke, which disappointed the hell out of me for being so different on the home console, Final Fight CD was truly bringing the arcade experience home. And in this day and age when arcades are few and far between, and the latest port of Final Fight requires PSN online to even PLAY, it is nice to remember what it used to be like. Sega brought the arcade home.

X-perts By The Coop

What can we really say about this game? Well, it looks… meh. Some of the music is decent. That’s about the best I can come up with. There’s so much wrong with this game, it’s sad. I mean, just on a visual front, look at some of what was done with CG graphics one the Genesis. Sonic 3. Sonic & Knuckles. VectorMan 1 & 2. Great games on pretty much all fronts, on top of the visuals. So what the hell happened with X-perts?

Absurdly stiff and sluggish controls, combat gameplay that makes Streets of Rage look complicated, very uninspired graphical designs and color choices, boring stages and enemies… it’s as if the people responsible for making and sending it out for manufacturing, did so after an all-night JĂ€germeister binge. That’s the only explanation I can come up regarding how anyone could look at this “game” and consider it good to go. Hell, the characters don’t even have shadows, so they look like they’re just floating in space. The thing that 99% of artists learn about in Art 101, which help objects feel grounded and look like they’re actually in the scene instead of superimposed, yet this game lacks even that simple visual attribute. And for a game like this where the viewpoint is at a vertical angle, that’s a big screw up. The first Streets of Rage had them back in 1991, so what the hell?

This is a game that should have rocked on all levels when it came out in 1996. By then, Sega and its various programming groups should have known all the ins and outs of the system. Instead, X-perts feels more like an experiment from years earlier that Sega just decided to throw out there at the end of the system’s life so the programming time didn’t go to waste. The only thing this game is great at, is being a warning on how not to do things on the Genesis.

You know, it only cost me $1.99 at EB back in the day… and I still feel gypped.

Double Dragon 3: The Arcade Game By: Danny Ramirez

If there’s one thing that can be said about Sega-16’s resident leather jacket wearing badass (who has an affinity for getting lost inside mazes), is that the quality of the games he covers for ye olde Roundtable is correlated to his mood. Back in the latter part of last year I was quite a jovial fellow, highlighting great games such as Wrestlemania Arcade, Ghouls ‘N Ghosts and Revenge of Shinobi, which should be in most people’s Genny collections. After weathering a cold, snowy winter, Aarzak emerged with a new-found melancholy, covering the mediocre Genesis port of the decent-at-best Art of Fighting. If that’s the case, then the following selection will probably have people worrying for my health. In my many years of Genesis gaming, very few games have made me physically sick just by playing them (Super Thunder Blade being one of them). One of these few just happens to be Double Dragon 3: The Arcade Game.

When Double Dragon 3 was released in arcades in late 1990, Capcom’s Final Fight had been out for a while and had stolen the Dragon’s thunder in their absence. How does Technos respond? Well, first they farmed out development of the sequel to some what’s-its-name company (East Technology), implemented a SUPER CHEAP “coin” system which required players to actually purchase additional moves and weapons, and, thanks to the aforementioned developer, strip away anything and everything that was great about the first two DD games. The result is Double Dragon 3, a boring, lifeless, coin-sucking turd that like, totally bombed in the arcades dude!!! After a drastically altered (for the better, believe it or not) NES port soon after the coin-op’s release, the DD series went briefly dormant until 1992. Perhaps due to the impending franchising of the DD series (with an animated series and *groan*, live-action movie in the future), and the success of Final Fight (SNES) and Streets of Rage (Genesis), Acclaim wanted their slice of the pie and felt compelled to release a port of the nearly two-year old DD3 on the Genesis. And that they did, after they farmed out development to Software Associates (who also handled the unlicensed Genesis port of DD1, also released in 1992… yes, despite their infamy, development of all Acclaim games prior to the late ’90s was farmed out to several companies, they simply published the crap!!!)

STRAIGHT FROM THE ARCADE!!! REAL MARTIAL-ARTS ACTION! AWESOME SPECIAL MOVES AND LETHAL WEAPONS!!! were just some of the (false) advertisements on the back of this game’s box, in typical Acclaim hyperbole. As if the coin-op weren’t bad enough already, the Genesis port of DD3 is actually WORSE. Despite doing away with the “coin” system (by offering twenty-five “virtual” coins in-game), the already crappy gameplay was further mangled courtesy of some RIDICULOUS hit detection, which allowed enemies to beat the tar out of you while you futilely fought back. The Lee brothers’ (and all those other jabronies who were retconned out of existence in later DD games) move set is anemic in variety and pathetic in execution, actually taking a step BACK from arcade DD2 and the NES trilogy. And the moves and weapons which physically cost you money in the arcade? Equally useless. The already drab graphics were downgraded even further, lacking in color and detail. On top of it all, the enemies and locales were STILL boring and uninspired, leaving only the curious to try and finish este mojon.

Don’t make the same mistake I did (and I’ve made many, but this is one of my worst ones) and buy this 8 MEGA POWER -ed (wouldn’t be an Aarzak review without it) piece of crap. If you’re still curious or masochistic.. then pull up Kega Fusion or MAME and play it, you sucka-ass lame. Personally I feel for those who bought this at it’s original $47.99 (according to Electonics Boutique) when it was released back in December 1992. Hmm, December of ’92, what other beat-’em-up was released that month? Oh yeah, some little-known game called Streets of Rage 2. 16 MEGA POWER , amazing graphics & sound, even more amazing gameplay and action, widely considered one of the Top 5 best beat-’em-ups of all the times. Pay a little bit more ($64.99) for this, or a little bit less for a much, MUCH lesser game?

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