Features Reader Roundtable

Reader Roundtable Vol. 80

The fall is here, and we’re still playing! It’s funny how one can always find something new to play on a console that’s more than two decades old. Lots of different titles in this edition, including some stinkers and imports, and our readers are sure to find something that interests them. Check out what we’ve been up to instead of playing in leaves and enjoying the cooler weather.


Rambo III By Ken Horowitz

I’ve beaten this one about a million times, but I always find myself coming back to it. As the first run-‘n-gun on the Genesis, Rambo III has a special place in my heart. That early release feel, the great-looking (albeit simple) boss battles, and the great action always find a way to make me smile. It even has Kurtwood Smith in the cut scenes! I half expect him to appear onscreen and say “game over, dumbass” every time I have to restart.

I know most people tend to think negatively about Rambo III, and I respect that. True, many better games have shot their way onto the Genesis since Rambo III, but none of them have managed to capture that same level of charm for me. I know I’ll keep returning to its simplistic style and gameplay for years to come.

Greatest Heavyweights By Sebastian Sponsel

I admit, I usually don’t care much about boxing. I know a few big names, mostly heavyweights, but beyond the Rocky movies I don’t have much knowledge about the sport itself. However, I had this cartridge lying around for a while now, untouched and unplayed. So when a friend came over to play a few rounds, we decided to give it a go. And in regards to the never-ending question “Who’d be the greatest boxer of all time”, we decided to pitch Rocky Marciano and Muhammad Ali against one another and duke it out once and for all!

And right of the bat, I admit the atmosphere is great, with clear voice samples and the announcer being no one else than “Let’s get ready to RUUMMMBLEEEEEE”-Michael Buffer. And of course, there’s trash talk before the fight starts.

“In this corner…. ROCKY MARCIANO!!!” – “I’m gonna embarrass you!”
Yeah, that’s right! What’cha gonna say, Ali, huh? I expect a great comeback here! Float like a butterfly, Sting like a bee….
“And in this corner… MUHAMMAD ALI!!!” – “Oh, I’m so pretty!”
Uh… okay. Well that’s… uh… nice, I guess?

Anyway, so we start the game, and I have to admit, we were pleasantly surprised. Unlike other boxing games, this is not simply a bashfest or pattern recognition test – there’s strategy involved, yet the controls are easy to learn and quite tight at the same time. After a while, even though none of us are boxing fans, we even gained a little understanding why people may find this sport fascinating. So we ended up playing a few more rounds (by the way, Rocky Marciano knocked pretty boy out in the ninth round…).

Fiddling around with the game a while, I must admit I also like the feature that allows you to create a custom fighter. There’s nothing to stop me from creating a bald-headed, freakishly blue-skinned character and calling him “Dr Manhattan”! Though the game DOES force him to wear a pair of shorts, unfortunately… Oh well, on to green-skinned Hulk with purple pants, then…

Wayne’s World By Greg Jurkiewicz

There’s been some talk of this game on the forum lately and I though it was high (no pun intended) time I finally picked up a copy since despite what everyone says about it I actually enjoyed playing this on the emulator. As luck would have it I managed to find a sealed copy on eBay for $10, so I threw money at the seller without a second thought. The review here gave this game a damning 1/10. I’ll admit this game is pretty bad, mostly due to the controls sucking something epic, but it’s not 1/10 bad, I’d say it’s more of a 4/10. The graphics are alright, the level design is average to decent and the super deformed characters are pretty funny, it’s really only the controls that kill this game. Slow, jerky and unresponsive they make you feel like you might break the controller from pressing the buttons so hard just to do make some basic jumps, this would be a little more forgivable if this game didn’t require so much precision jumping, but unfortunately it demands tight plaforming, which doesn’t work out so well with these sorts of controls. That can be annoying as hell, but I can’t help but view this game through nostalgia-tinted glasses and smile every time I boot it up. Hell, I even made it to level five! Five!!! WAYNE’S WORLD WAYNE’S WORLD, PARTY TIME, EXCELLENT!!!

Slap Fight MD By The Coop

Every now and then, you come across a game that people talk about with some regularity. They say how it’s rare, or how they enjoy it. They praise aspects of it, liken it to other games, and make it sound like it could be a lot of fun to play. So you seek out this game out, thinking that you’re going to have fun and play a game that’ll win you over and maybe even make you want to buy it. However, the oddly named Slap Fight MD wasn’t such a game for me.

I’d heard about the game, and knew that it had two modes of play, was a bit rare, and that various people liked the Mega Drive port of this older Toaplan game. I love a good shmup, so when the time came to make a banner of it for SEGA-16, I played through it twice to see what each mode was like. And while I know some enjoy it, I just wasn’t very enamored with it. It played like an updated version of Xevious (one of my favorite older shmups), but it lacked something that I just couldn’t put my finger on at first, until it hit me while I was making the banner for it; the game’s just not very memorable. In the regular mode, all the enemies are on the ground, follow certain paths, and move rather slowly. As such, the game wasn’t overly hard, but the big thing for me was that it didn’t do much to stand out or make you go “COOL!” at any point. It wasn’t bad perse, as the hit detection was fine, the Gradius-like powering up system worked, the music was OK, and the graphics had that oldschool charm. But the game simply didn’t make an impression on me.

When I beat that mode, I tried out the special remake of the game on the same cart. Sadly, I came to the same conclusion, only this time, it had some better music that made me think about how well Gradius or Gradius II could have have their music ported to the system. The graphics were nicer, but the enemies were still the same ground-based ones that were easy to dispatch, and not doing much of anything interesting. Some of the music however, really put me in the mood to play one of the Gradius games, as those tunes felt right at home in the Gradius franchise regarding sound and composition. But still, when that mode was beaten, I just didn’t have that “I CAN’T WAIT TO PLAY THIS AGAIN!” feeling that shmups like Thunder Force 4, M.U.S.H.A., Steel Empire, and others instilled in me. Again, it wasn’t a bad game, just… unremarkable.

So yeah, I’m sure a few will grab their pitchforks and come after me for feeling this way, but I just don’t see myself clamoring for a copy of Slap Fight MD anytime soon. Perhaps it’s a game that takes time to grow on you, and I take nothing from those who enjoy what the game has to offer. But after playing through and finishing both modes, there’s no urge to keep seeing if it will grow on me. I love shmups, and Toaplan made quite a few good ones. But I think I’ll be passing on Slap Fight MD as far as adding it to my Mega Drive library goes.

Pier Pyromar (mini-game of Pier Solar) by Frank Villone

September kicked off with the epic last battles of Pier Solar! I had reached them at the end of August, but after forging through the whole game without any deliberate level grinding, my crew seemed pathetically underpowered for the last fight! Once I realized how to level grind at that furthest point of the game, I did so, using the earned money to buy a huge stash of the best items. I was surprised that the characters kept learning completely new spells and attacks, as I hiked up their EXP! Many failed attempts later, and with their levels nearly doubled after much grinding, it was finally time to destroy the last opponents in a blaze of destruction.

They were subdued with any spells and attacks that I chose, which was rewarding, after so much previous struggle and failure against them! Finishing Pier Solar was a soul-stirring experience! I flipped out when I saw my own personal message in the Posterity section of the credits, listed on-screen with a beautiful track playing.

Pier Pyromar was a natural (mini-)game to focus on next, especially after blasting everyone with Zellini’s fire spell of the same name. I have wanted Bomberman for years, without finding a copy, so I love this Bomberman clone! Gameplay is simple but addicting, and going against the computer, it is not too hard to win a level (by winning the most rounds for that level). However, challenging oneself to win every single round is nearly impossible! I have mostly played versus the CPU, but also against a couple friends, which is best. I just need to buy a Genesis multi-tap for four-player mode, and then I will throw the coolest parties on the block!

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