Features Reader Roundtable

Reader Roundtable Vol. 71

By now, everyone has unwrapped their gifts and drank their fill of cocoa and eggnog. Now, it’s time to play! If Santa had any taste, he brought lots of Genesis games to our staff and readers, so read on and see what ol’ Saint Nick gave out this year!


Sonic CD By Ken Horowitz

Perhaps it’s cheating, but I’ve been playing this like mad on my Android phone. Santa was a miserable bastard this year and didn’t bring me a Playstation Network card, so I have only been able to fool around with the demo on my Playstation 3. After playing the Sega CD original for comparison, I must say that I’m really impressed with the work done on this port, and I really hope that Sega takes the example to heart for its future conversions. Whether or not you agree with the whole time travel thing, it can’t be denied that there’s some solid platforming here, and the game just looks stunning overall in HD. Sonic CD is still a blast to play, and it’s nice to see this great game finally get some more respect. No matter which platform you decide to play this on, no self-respecting Sega gamer should go without trying it at least once.


Paperboy 2 By Alex Burr

One of the things I HATED THE MOST about winter when I was younger was delivering papers during a white-out blizzard. For those not in the know, I live literally less than two minutes’ drive and ten minutes’ walk from Lake Michigan. While it might not get as cold as some places further inland, we get at least two feet more snow than what seems like everyone. What used to take less than 45 minutes in July can take an entire afternoon in December! Luckily, playing Paperboy 2 is nothing like actually delivering papers… well, except for the dogs. Dogs don’t like paperboys or mailmen either for that fact. But this game goes out on a major whim and changes a lot of things from the first game, such as delivering to both sides of the road, a deeper obstacle course at the end, and cool things to find in the game. I believe that the review of this game is correct in its opinion,but is too harsh in its final score. This is a game that I have had in my collection for years for both SNES and Genesis, and it’s nice to see Tengen attempt to make an original game. Now, is it any good? Meh, it’s okay. It’s certainly not as good as the original, that is for sure. I really like the changes and I think it’s always fun to dethrone the robber if you guess the right side of the road. But, there isn’t that HUGE fun factor, and the quick playthrough time and certainly not the nostalgia that the original had. I still like it though. A lot better than taking three hours to deliver 65 papers. Merry Christmas folks, head down to that basement with your sweats on and pop on the Genesis.


Sonic CD By Sebastian Sponsel

Truth be told, I never really played Sonic CD up until recently. I do have a Sega CD, but even though I had only heard good things about the game, the fact that I had to shell out 30-40 Euro if I wanted to own a copy (and at least 15 for the awkward PC port) somehow always kept me from getting it. Still, I kept thinking about getting the game eventually.

When I heard that it was re-released for the current generation smartphones and consoles as a downloadable title, and dirt cheap to boot, I didn’t have to think twice. So I got up and actually got both the PSN and the iOS versions, just because. In my eyes, those were six Euros well spent.

My impression? Well, I still don’t like the virtual D-Pad in all of SEGA’s iOS ports, the lack of any feedback, and the fact that my thumbs constantly have to cover parts of the playing field severely detracts from the entertainment in my eyes. On my PS3, however, the port is spot-on from what I can tell! The game doesn’t suffer from those slight delay issues that plagued other Sonic games that were released on that platform (most annoyingly Sonic 4). I’d say that control-wise it’s the best Sonic game to be had there!

Now, many people say that this is probably the best Sonic game ever, at least the best Sonic game of the 16bit-era. I’m not really sure about that. It definitely is the hardest of the bunch, though! The time travel feature can be a bit confusing at times, the level design seems chaotic, and in order to get the best ending, you have to get a handle on these past and future posts and search every nook and cranny of the levels. The fact that you only get a limited number of shots to reach the past makes it even harder. The boss battles are pretty hard by 16-bit Sonic standards too, but I have to admit they’re awesome! And the best part of the PSN version is that you get both the Japanese and the US versions of the soundtrack. For $3,99, there’s no reason not to get the game!

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to kick back and listen to Quartz Quadrant one more time.


Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master By Steven Campbell

This is by far, and wide my personal favorite video game ever made for any system at any time in human history. As much as I love it, I just absolutely can not play Shinobi III on anything but an original Sega Genesis, with an official Sega Genesis controller. Emulation, Virtual Console, PS2, PSP, PS3 – no thanks, it is just not the same to me. I know the game a little too well to be satisfied by anything short of the real deal. Something about its style, the way it controls, the music, and the way it feels in your hands makes me feel like no other video game has ever been able to. I don’t play Shinobi III, I make love to it. That is what kind of relationship I have developed with this game over the past 10 years, or so. The game has become a part of who I am.

Soon, it will be discovered what I have always felt to be true, that I am the single greatest player to ever play Shinobi III on the face of this planet. Last month I recorded a playthrough of the game to be submitted to www.TwinGalaxies.com. In that playthrough, I broke the current world record for points by over 100,000, and had an absolute blast in the process.

One of the many things that make Shinobi III an excellent game is the way the controller feels in your hands when the action gets hectic in the game. Some of the placements of the enemys in the levels combined with the speed of the game creates this sense of urgency that can make the controller feel like a stick of dynamite in your hands, about to go off at any moment.

The ending of Shinobi III is nothing special, but it does give you a slight feeling of accomplishment. The scene of Jo Musashi standing atop that cliff, watching that sky fortress slowly fall to the ground in flames as that end song plays was even more satisfying than ever after my epic, record breaking playthrough.

There can be only one.


Daze before Christmas By The Coop

Santa doesn’t get many games, let alone good ones. A guy sneaking into homes, trying to do his work and leave without waking anyone up, seems like the perfect scenario to make a game out of… especially if you’re of a darker mindset. Then a rather twisted, sinister game full of things to do to families that find you putting presents under the tree could be born. But, with Santa being the bearer of gifts, and not nightmarish scenarios, we get happy and cheerful games about saving Christmas and such. The Genesis got just such a game, but it never saw a U.S. release. I wonder if there’s a reason? I thought to myself as I initially played the game long enough to make a banner for this site.

Well, if there’s an actual reason, it’s probably two fold. One, it’s locked to a particular time of the year and its holiday (thus making it a tougher sell for much of the year), and two, he game’s pretty dull. The levels are easy as hell to get through, the bosses are simple, and it definitely comes off as a rather uninspired platformer. Sure, there’s some nice graphical work, and the animation’s not bad either, but the game is just a cakewalk borefest from start to finish. There’s virtually no challenge, short of a few jumps featuring retracting platforms here and there. Even the music isn’t all that memorable, to the point of I can’t even remember one tune or melody from it after having played through it all.

Daze Before Christmas is one of those games that’s easy to forget about… not just because it didn’t get a big release, but because it’s so very by the numbers and nondescript. It’s one notable selling point, playing as Santa, doesn’t mean much when there’s a dull and very easy game behind that potential tag line. And in the end, this game ends up being little more than a curiosity because of its rather high eBay prices, and its more limited release. Yeah, it’s not truly and utterly broken or anything, but it’s just so unremarkable, that the developers likely got themselves some coal the first Christmas after its release.


Virtua Racing Deluxe By Frank Villone

The game of the month was unexpected: Virtua Racing Deluxe! But I suddenly found myself flooring it through 32-bit landscapes, and I found that my love for VRD increased the more I kept sharpening my extreme driving skills.

Virtua Racing blasted into arcades everywhere in the ’90s, when I only had a couple odd chances to try it – mainly at the local amusement park, when I was taking a break from the roller coasters. The 3D was nice, but even at the time, I generally disliked that early 3D style, with everything built of simple polygons. VR was also expensive, costing two or three quarters, for one race full of fish-tailing, crashes, and spin-outs! The controls have a definite learning curve, which kept me from enjoying the arcade game back then, unfortunately.

Years later, I picked up Virtua Racing for the Genesis, and it was clear how stripped-down the 16-bit version was – the polygons were even more painfully jagged! After owning it for years, I finally put some time into it a while ago, and was surprised to find that the gameplay is solid, after getting used to its physics and controls.

Finally, with the recent purchase of a 32x, Virtua Racing Deluxe has been a breath of fresh air! Simply put, everything is better in VRD. The graphics are very close to those of the arcade game, rendered faster and more smoothly than in the Genesis version, and now splashed with bright color. Five tracks (instead of three) and three cars (instead of one) make a world of difference over the Genesis version, and the result is replay value that is virtually endless. Each stage looks great with varied 3D scenery and unique track lay-outs.

The prototype car is fastest, and accelerates almost indefinitely, while the stock resembles a real car the most. Just like any racing game, it is all about handling turns properly, and knowing when to brake and when to gun it, plus avoiding spin-outs. The different viewpoints also add to the replay value, although they can give the disorienting feeling of being detached from one’s body, and floating above as a spirit, watching as one’s physical body drives the car below. Each button is a different height of astral projection! Grab the polygonal wheel and “Go!”


VectorMan By Greg Jurkiewicz

VectorMan was one of those games that I always wanted really bad as a kid. I remember seeing pictures of it in game mags back in the day and thinking it was the coolest thing around. I’d sit in class in elementary school and day dream about how much fun that game must be. The damn thing was just too expensive to buy though, and trying to find a used copy of it was near impossible. Hell, that game was so popular even the Blockbuster near my house never had it in. I asked the guy that worked there why it was always out, he said they only had two copies: one got stolen and the other one was perpetually rented out to the staff… Eventually with the passage of time I gave up on ever playing it, I acquired a Sega Saturn and promptly lost all interest in video games. Years went by until I started gaming again, returning to the old hobby in the later years of the PS2. With my triumphant return to video games I quickly got back into playing the Genesis just like back in the day. It was glorious, finally being able to play all those games I craved as a kid.

So one day I took a trip to a local flea market and there it was: VectorMan, in it’s all its glory, cart only $5. I snatched it up like it was made of gold and practically ran home with it. When I played it for the first time then it was like taking back a part of my life that I had somehow missed, or messed up. It was like having access to a time machine and being able to go back and fix something I’d always wanted to. The game itself was fantastic. I was a little worried that I might have built it up too much in my head, and that actually playing it would be disappointing, but fortunately that was not the case. I found it a little challenging at first, but I couldn’t put it down. It became a thing to do each day after work. When I finally made it to the last boss, my mind was simply blown. A giant robot with a nuke for a head, inside a tornado!!! The ’90s didn’t come much cooler than that. I beat him that day, and I must have been grinning about it for a whole week after.

That was years ago now, but since that time VectorMan has always been a game that I just pick up and play whenever I have an urge to game and don’t feel like thinking about what to play. It’s always there, like an old friend, very few games do that for me. It stands the ranks with Sonic 2 and X-Men 2: Clone Wars – one of my favourite games ever.

Sonic & Knuckles By Guntz

I admit, most of this month was spent on non-Sega consoles, but I did in fact set aside some time for an old favorite of mine, Sonic & Knuckles. Why not play Sonic 3 & Knuckles you might ask? Well, to me there’s a few advantages to S&K alone. For one thing, I find the zone selection to be much better and more memorable than Sonic 3, the game overall is more challenging, the music as whole is better composed and its pick up and play value is quite a bit better as well. I don’t mind if it lacks a save function, as the game is just long enough to be interesting but short enough to not take more than an afternoon to complete at the most.

I suppose “favorite zones” would be a fun subject to touch on while I’m at it. Personally I find them all fun in some way, but the top tier would be Mushroom Hill (mostly because it has like, six giant rings), Flying Battery and Lava Reef (its length is rather kick ass). On on opposite note, I wish Hidden Palace was given more attention, since it always felt a bit too short to me.

Other than that, I don’t have much else to say… I suppose a short and to the point entry is better than one that is needlessly drawn out. In this roundtable’s comments thread, I’d love to hear if anyone else happens to like playing Sonic & Knuckles alone, with nothing sticking out the top. Thanks and Merry Christmas everyone!


Quackshot Starring Donald Duck By Eduardo Villanueva

This year is nearly over and having lots of free time, I’ve decided to play one of the oldest games in my collection: Quackshot. This game has been in my possession since I was three years-old, back in 1998 when my uncles sold me their old Genesis. This game was included in the stack that came along with the console. Although being a pretty old game, it still looks pretty good. The storyline of Donald finding an ancient treasure map, and going all over the world in order to find King Garuzia´s treasure is very interesting and appealing. The graphics are very colourful and detailed on every stage. Also the music fits what’s happening on screen, with a great usage of the stereo capabilities the Genesis had.
The controls are smooth and very responsive,which allows you to beat the game easily. If you are skilled enough you can beat this game in half an hour, but requires a lot of time to memorise all the mazes this game contains.

Overall, this is one of the best platformers in the entire Genesis library. You can get it easily, and I promise that it won’t deceive you!.

One Comment

  1. Great flashbacks! I bought the Sonic CD for iPhone and it’s pretty close control and graphics wise. The music seems a bit “off”. Still my favorite Sonic game. Oh, and the 16-Bit V.R. is really a pretty spectacular feat. I’ve even played it on the Nomad…may just be the first 3D portable!

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