Features Reader Roundtable

Reader Roundtable Vol. 83

With Christmas over, it’s time to enjoy what’s left of vacation and get as much gaming in before the year ends. Hopefully, everyone got a nice new stack of Genesis games, a traditionally great way to spend the holiday season – when family isn’t around, of course!


Roadblasters By Ken Horowitz

I was always a big fan of this one in the arcades, and I was able to play the NES version a few times (very enjoyable!). However, I never really had the chance to play the Genesis port for more than a few minutes at a time. When I found a complete and mint copy for just $12 shipped on eBay, I simply had to have it, and after playing it extensively, I can say that this version is indeed awesome. It looks spectacular in s-video, the music rocks (that bass!), and it plays just as well as the coin-op original. I’m a sucker for ’80s arcade games (especially anything Atari), this brought back a ton of memories for me. The expanded options in this port make it much easier to handle than I had initially thought, which makes it even more enjoyable to play. Finding a Genesis conversion this good is a nice little surprise. I will definitely be coming back to it off and on for many years to come!

Ghouls ‘N Ghosts By Alex Burr

I’ll be the first one amongst my friends to say that I am an ENORMOUS AVGN fan. I love all of his videos, laced with curse words and hilarity, mainly because I remember back in the day how bad, hard or insane the games he blathers about are. I bought the app, I should buy the DVD (but I’m too cheap) and I will order the movie the minute Mr. Rolfe makes it available.

GhoulsNGhostsHis latest video was Ghosts ‘N Goblins, the NES port of the original arcade game that eventually became Ghouls’N Ghosts. Or it was a sequel or something. I don’t know; someone let me know in the forums. Anyway, this is a game that I heavily rented from Video2You back in the day (such a ’90s name! I used to buy LaffyTaffy from them by the square, as well. So many memories), and eventually bought when it came down in price. I have never beaten it, and it has constantly eluded me from when I was a kid up until the present day. I am still under the impression that you can’t beat this game easily with just a regular controller.

Before I take off for the Hobbit midnight show, I’m going to sit down with plenty of Diet Cokes, some snacks (Snyder’s Ranch Pretzel Pieces are my gaming snack of choice) and conquer this sucker with my brand new (to me) six-button arcade stick (went with that instead of the ASCIIWARE one. Hopefully, I made the right choice) and beat this game. Because it’s just one of those titles that taunts you until you get angry enough to throw flying F-bombs or astrob******s at the cart until you rescue the princess they never even named in the game.

Merry Christmas, happy holidays, enjoy the end of your year with the drink of your choice, and don’t forget to play some Bill Walsh College Football ’95 when you’re hosting your video game parties this season.

International Superstar Soccer Deluxe By Sebastian Sponsel

My Sega-16 Secret Santa has been very kind to my. Amongst other things, he packed in a game that I had wanted in my collection for quite some time. Somehow, I had never gotten around to pick it up myself, but finally the last of the great soccer games on the Genesis is in my possession: ISS Deluxe. It’s really odd. Back when the console was in its heyday, I was devout follower of the FIFA series, getting both first and the ’96 edition for my trusted Genesis, swearing they were the best. Over the years though, my point of view has changed. The FIFA games have aged rather badly, the gameplay feels slow and sluggish, the controls imprecise. ISS Deluxe, on the other hand, seems to have improved over time. I really enjoy the fast gameplay, and though some of the animations come off as a bit stiff, after a while I feel like I got a way better control over the players in this one. Its arcade style gameplay at its finest, which makes it a great tournament game as well. It won’t dethrone Sensible Soccer Interrnational Edition as my personal favorite though, but that’s an entirely different story. So thanks, N.Saibot, for a great Christmas present! Thanks to this I was really having a ball towards the end of the year.

Mortal Kombat II By The Coop

Way back when I was a moronic little diehard Genesis fanboy who had yet to see the light in terms of owning systems outside of SEGA’s, I remember chuckling at the port of the SNES version of Mortal Kombat. No blood, toned down fatalities, “sweat” flying off of everyone… it made me feel good to know that I got to play the game as the graphic brawler it was meant to be. Granted, the visuals and animation took a hit, the music was redone to be more techno-like (though it wasn’t bad), and most of the voices went away, but we Genesis owners had blood and full fatalities (via a code), and more responsive controls. Fast forward a year, and there I was, waiting for the Genesis port of the infamous sequel. I couldn’t wait to see what Probe did with the port. I’d played MK II in the arcades more than I had with the first game, and I enjoyed it quite a bit. So imagine my expression when I saw not what Probe did with it, but rather, what they left out of it.

I remember getting home and popping Mortal Kombat II into my Genesis. Up came the title screen, I hit start, and the disappointment began. Where the first game was missing some voices, the second was missing most of them. The graphics looked a bit worse in ways, the cool and foreboding music was once again turned into pop-ish techno (but not as well IMHO), and somehow, the ending images got dumped (even the first game had the text and images). Yeah, the controls were still good, the fatalities, babalities, and friendships were all still there, and even “The Pit II” was relatively intact. But there was so much cut to make the game fit into 24Mb, that it was hard to not feel like the programmers at Probe didn’t even try to conserve memory so that they could get as much as possible into that cart. This feeling was doubled when I eventually saw Probe’s port of the same game to the 32X.

It was ridiculous to find out that somehow, the SNES port had more of the arcade game at 24Mb than the 32X port did at 32Mb. Hell, Probe couldn’t even get the Saturn port right (it was embarrassingly bad, given the system). I mean, how can so much have been left out over and over again? But I digress, I was a bit disappointed with the Genesis port. I still played it quite a bit, and I got some enjoyment out of it. I mean, it wasn’t a horrid port after all. I even still pop it into my old Genesis once in a great while. But at the time, I felt like Mortal Kombat II could have gotten a better port (and I still do).

As if to prove the point, a year later, I got the glitched Genesis port of Mortal Kombat 3 by Sculptured Software (the people who did the SNES ports of MK 1 and MK II). Imagine my surprise at how much they got onto that 32Mb Genesis cart in terms of voices, music that felt a bit closer to the arcade game’s, better animation (with more grainy visuals), and so forth. It was a noticeably better port of MK 3 than what Probe did with MK II, and it made me wish Sculptured Software had done the Genesis port of MK II. Maybe then I wouldn’t have felt so let down, and secretly jealous of my SNES-owning friends.

Lunar II: Eternal Blue By Metallica Man X

December in the Midwest. A time of Snow. A time of Cold. A time best suited to stay indoors. A time best spent doing some serious Genesis RPG action! Lunar II: Eternal Blue had been sitting in my collection for quite a while, but I’ve never actually played it. I figured it was about time to fire that game up and see how it is…

Man, was I missing out!

This game is one of the few that truly showcases what the Sega CD could do with the right programming & people. The cut scenes are so smooth that much of the time it feels as though you’re watching an anime movie, rather than a bunch of super sprites. The voices and music are top notch to boot, and for a system that’s supposed to be limited in the colors department, everything is very colorful and beautifully designed. Plus, you’ve got to love the localization Working Designs did with the game…I especially enjoyed the Guns ‘n Roses reference I recently discovered. XD

I’ve never been that much of a JRPG fan in the past, but I’m loving every minute of this and really wish I didn’t have to go to work so I could play it more!

Sonic 3D Blast by Daniel Ramirez

16 YEARS. Not only is that the number of years it took me to beat this game, but also the amount of time it took me to gain some one-sided redemption.

Before I get into that story, let me just say WHEW! 2012 almost went by without a Roundtable submission from everyone’s favorite street-smart (not the mediocre SNK game) Sega 16’er. And what better time of year for this soon-to-be college grad to get back into the fold then the holiday season, eh? Christmas and video games used to come hand-in-hand during my childhood years. Even though the sobering reality of adulthood has gradually robbed me of my passion for video games, I still think back to my Christmases of yore with wistful nostalgia. The X-Mas in which I received Sonic’s last 16-Bit outing was among these, so with that in mind, let’s travel back in time to 1996…

-cue Sonic CD time travel cut-scene-

As the gaming public kept their eyes and ears glued to the three-way battle between Sony’s PlayStation, Sega’s Saturn and Nintendo’s N64 throughout 1996, I faithfully gamed away on my Sega Genesis, which was on its last legs during its seventh year on the market. One of the few, worthwhile releases for the console that year was Sonic 3D Blast, the Sega of Japan/Travellers’ Tales collaboration which has a polarizing reception amongst gamers and Sonic fans alike. I’d been following the game ever since first reading about it in a summer ‘96 issue of Game Players, when the game was still known as Sonic Blast. My anticipation for 3D Blast grew throughout the following Fall, with Electronic Gaming Monthly, GamePro and GameFan all giving it decent coverage and reviews. Even the lame-in-retrospect commercial for it, which ran ad nauseum on Cartoon Network, got me excited for the game.

Naturally, I told my dad that I wanted Sonic 3D Blast for Christmas, and when he came home from work that Christmas Eve, I sensed he had returned with the game in tow. I repeatedly begged him to at least give me a peek of the box. My constant badgering caused him to cave in and hand me the game shortly before midnight. I feel somewhat guilty about it now, but my nine-year-old self was STOKED to say the least. Finally, the flimsy cardboard box holding Sonic’s last Genesis adventure was in my hands, all for a pricey $65 (according to dad)!

After drooling over the FMV intro and demo mode for a couple of minutes, I went about playing the game for a couple of hours. The pre-rendered graphics definitely impressed me (pre-rendering was chic in the mid ’90s after all), and the soundtrack more than met the standard of previous Sonic tunes, but the gameplay gradually… bored me. Even though the side-scrolling Sonic formula had been driven to the ground by 1996, I almost preferred another installment of that rather than this plodding, Flicky fetch quest. The prevalence of checkered floors in every stage also added to this monotony. Previous Sonic games only used checkered patterns in certain levels and objects, not the whole friggin’ game, man.

My dad additionally bought me used copies of Golden Axe II and Fatal Fury days after Christmas, which led me to virtually push 3D Blast aside in favor of these older, dustier carts. While he’d bring it up in a joking manner during that post-Christmas week, I could sense my dad’s disappointment over my neglect of his $65 purchase. In the decade and change since that Christmas of ‘96, I’d grown remorseful over my ungrateful act. Level select notwithstanding, I’d never sat down to play Sonic 3D Blast in its entirety. My handful of attempts had always ended in the same manner they did back in 1996… boredom. With the 16th anniversary of my getting the game (as well as the Roundtable deadline) growing near, I decided to knock out two birds with one stone.

On December 15th, 2012, I sat down with a couple of Coors Light beers, hell-bent on beating Sonic 3D Blast and redeeming my father’s $65 purchase once and for all. The pre-rendered graphics which initially stunned me looked somewhat sterile and color-starved to my adult eyes, as they lacked the vibrancy of the side-scrolling Sonic games. The soundtrack however, with pieces such as Rusty Ruin Act 1, Volcano Valley Act 2 and Gene Gadget Act 1, was more fantastic than I had remembered. 1+ minute loops, great compositions. Dare I say the best soundtrack of the 16-Bit Sonic games? Apart from a headache courtesy of those aforementioned beers, I found myself blasting through the game, easy-peasy special stages and all, with renewed zest. I was more than willing to overlook the Flicky fetch quest and flaws inherent to most isometric games.

After 2+ hours, I breathed a sigh of relief as I watched the credits roll. Not only had I gained a new appreciation for Sonic 3D Blast, but I also belatedly got my father’s $65 worth from it. The only negative about this redeeming experience was my sudden recollection of other games which I had left unfinished in my childhood. Contra Hard Corps, Light Crusader, Super Smash TV, probably a couple more. While some of these might serve as fodder for future Roundtable entries, I’m glad that I’ve finally wiped away one of my biggest gaming follies. This one’s for you, pops.

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