Features Reader Roundtable

Reader Roundtable Vol. 84

Let’s kick of the new year in classic style! There’s no stopping a good thing, and since we ended 2012 with some Genesis playtime, why not start 2013 the same way? Read on to find out what our staff and readers have been playing over the course of January, and see why there’s never a need to hang up the controller!


Mortal Kombat CD By Ken Horowitz

Mortal Kombat CD 3Test your might. I can’t get that out of my head. After going a few rounds with the CD edition of Midway’s gorefest, I found myself spending more time listening to the soundtrack in the CD menu than actually playing the game. There are a few cool remixes on this disc, and once I’d heard a few, I wanted to stand in the middle of the street and yell MORTAL KOMBAT! Of course, with my luck no one would hear me, and I would end up being struck by a garbage truck or something. Better then, to stay inside where its safe and work on my fatalities. So far, my deadliest move is Johnny Cage’s split-punch-to-the-nuts, which certainly qualifies as a fatality to most men.

Oh, and I have a mean upper-cut!

Sensible Soccer International Edition By Sebastian Sponsel

Well, after a Saw-like encounter with a surgeon (well no, not quite that bad, but I had to watch him cut about 1/4 inch of skin and flesh out of my left shin – by the way, happy new year everybody) I decided to spend a lazy weekend at home. The doc said that I was forbidden to do any sports for about a week for the stitches to heal, so naturally I was overcome by a strong urge to play some soccer. I phoned up some pals of mine, who both were for some reason or another unable to leave their home right now, though they had nothing better to do. So we decided to fire up some emulators and did some testing of the Netplay functions. Basically we chose three games we wanted to play – Eternal Champions, Micro Machines 2, and Sensible Soccer International Edition – but for some reason or another, it was the latter that became our go-to game for this testing purpose. I guess it could have been simple, but then again, me and my pals ain’t simple guys: We didn’t just want to play against one another, we wanted the third person to be able to watch the game unfold.

So I did some experimenting and achieved some satisfactory results streaming a session of Sensible Soccer in KEGA on a Ustream-Account. When we tried engaging in a Netplay session in the same emulator, however, we hit upon some snags. Online Multiplayer in KEGA is supposed to work like this: one player opens the session and hands his IP to his mates. Those can join the game by entering the IP into their emulator, and after adjusting the latency everything should be fine.

Except it wasn’t; no matter what we did, we couldn’t get the Netplay session to work, the host IP couldn’t be found. There were some issues with our routers and port forwarding – I don’t want to go into any details here, but in the end, only one of us managed to get the necessary settings to work. Even then, the results were… interesting. First, trying to both play KEGA online and stream said game online did hell to my upstream – I do have a decent laptop, but the framerate on both the emulator and the livestream was chugging in an ungodly manner. So we ditched the streaming idea; if we wanted the third person to look on, he had to join in on the match as well.

After a quick match of Micro Machines 2 (one race on one track) worked just fine (after we realized that we needed the J-Cart option to be enabled in the control-menu) we wanted to see whether we could create a three-player-session in a two-player match that would allow a third person to simple look on. So again we chose Sensible Soccer and started another match. And it seemed to work just fine… for about 30 seconds. After a while, the computers were out of sync, with some interesting results: In my game, I was safely leading 2-0 after a short while, when suddenly I heard a cheer from my buddy on teamspeak: HE had just scored a 1-0! Our onlooker, meanwhile, was watching another entirely different game unfold, were the score was still 0-0 and individual players were at random intervals just standing around doing nothing. It was interesting to hear one gamer comment that there had just been a foul when on your computer you were complaining that the other player should kick off the ball! Basically we had three different games between two players going on at the same time!

So we experimented with different options, removed the third player from the equation, adjusted the latency settings, but we didn’t get any satisfactory results from KEGA, only more curiosities: A quick battle in Eternal Champions that was fought with the same characters, but on different stages for both players resulted in random moves and both players winning the fight – at the same time. The game was smooth, the framerate steady, but apparently the commands for the controls reached each computer with a delay. At any rate, a proper two-player match was impossible that way. In the end, we turned to GenS Netplay using a Kaillera client. We had tried it at first (while our third player still had some trouble coming online), but had quickly discarded that option: First we couldn’t find a server with a decent ping, then suddenly no servers could be found at all, then when we managed to log onto one server the framerate was unbearable. Then we tried entering the IP of a server directly – and suddenly, everything worked just fine! After almost three hours of fiddling around with settings and experimenting with different Emulators we finally got our mini online tournament going. Which culminated in a satisfyingly close final match resulting in a 4-3 scored in the final seconds of the game.

All’s well that ends well, I guess.

Caesar’s Palace By Steven Campbell

Caesar’s Palace is one of those Genesis games that is just easy to get into and relaxing to play; there’s just not a whole lot to the game. A small handful of mini-games that are available just about everywhere online, some elevator music, and some really unimpressive graphics make for a somewhat underwhelming experience. I don’t really know what exactly it is about the game, but it’s very easy for me to get lost in it and burn up several hours at a time. I’ll build up a bunch of money on blackjack first before hitting the roulette tables, horse racing, video poker, slots, and then moving up into the high rollers tables.

When finally getting bored with it, things come to me that could have made it much better. Small things, like the ability to spend all of that money on something, like a new wardrobe, cars, prostitutes, hell, anything. That’s my main gripe with the game. I can get over lackluster music and graphics, but it doesn’t give you anything to play for other than money. Well, Bob Marley always said, “Money can’t buy life,” and it definitely can’t help Caesar’s Palace be anything more than mediocre.

Still though, there’s something about blackjack that is insanely addictive to me. That’s what always brings me back to this big steaming pile of mediocrity that is Caesar’s Palace. It just has a quick, solid blackjack engine. I can throw in a cartridge, hit the power button, and I’m playing blackjack in a matter of seconds. You can’t beat that. Oh, and another little thing that would make this game better would be if you could walk around in this casino as a different character. Sonic, Axe Battler, Jo Musashi, VectorMan, anyone. Hell, give me Beavis so I can go up and down the escalator farting. I don’t know about you, but that would add immense replay value to Caesar’s Palace for me. Somebody hack it. Ready? GO!

Oh Mummy! By Zebbe

I started 2013 by playing Zoom! and Phantasy Star IV for the “Can Sega-16 beat all Genesis games in one year?” project, but I’ve also been playing Oh Mummy Genesis, the latest member of the indie post-millennium game family for the Mega Drive.

Reader Roundtable Vol 84-1There were delays, problems about replying to emails from customers, reports of bad soldering and even games working improperly, but nothing worse than the first two have happened to me and I’m thankful for that. Sure, the plastic materials 1985alternativo used aren’t the best (they use a cartridge shell that looks a bit like a 32X game and the same boxes as Super Fighter Team), but the insert art and manual look very professional and colourful. The design follows the classic black grid style, so the game looks really nice among your others like it on the shelf.

The game itself is quite good to be made by just a couple of guys. It’s a bit like the aforementioned Zoom!, as you walk around tombs here just like you skate around squares in Zoom!, but the difference here is that you only need to walk around enough tombs until you have found a key and a treasure, then you can leave to the next stage. That doesn’t mean OMG is as easy as Zoom! though, on the contrary. Most rooms have different ways to make it harder, like being completely dark, having a whirlwind erasing your steps around the tombs (like that blue sweeper, in, you know…) and there are even boss battles. The game is quite repetitive and simple, but a great thing is that you can play two players simultaneously. The bonus stages are particularly nice and pay many homages to other classic games. Maybe that is the biggest flaw with this game, as that is most probably not legal to do. But didn’t someone say: “good artists borrow, great artists steal!”?

American Gladiators By The Coop

Back in the ’90s, there was a TV show that was all the rage for a while. Muscle-bound men and women with goofy single-word names, taking on the “average Joe” in various arena events to see who was better. Some wall-climbing, a little jousting, running around in a ball like a hamster… the show had a number of things to put its contestants through. It was popular enough that, in time, some video games were made of the show. Now, one could argue about the merits of the program itself, but one thing’s certain; the Genesis version of American Gladiators is a bad, bad game. The sole reason I even played this thing was to try and do my part for the “beat all Genesis games” challenge going on in the forums. After reading about how horrid it was, I figured I’d give it a try. After all, how bad could it really be, right?

After being greeted with music that couldn’t seem to stay on tempo, I was thrust into a cluster hump of poorly thought-out controls, bad hit detection, sluggish controls, and physics that would leave even the likes of Einstein confused. Hell, I almost gave up just trying to figure out how you’re supposed to put your name in (I had no instruction manual). Even on Bizarro World, the way this seemingly simple task was set up would make no sense at all. The mode button moves the cursor to the right, the X button moves it to the left, A, B  and C select the letter you’re on, ” moves the cursor down a row, and Z moves it up a row. Yeah, that was my reaction too. But, once I got that accomplished, I finally got to sit down and play the game.

I watched in frustration as my character got stuck in both nothing, and in objects, randomly in “Powerball.” I marveled at how anyone with a working brain could come up with the clumsy control scheme for “The Wall.” I tilted my head in confusion at how someone gave the thumbs up to way you have to shoot balls in “Assault.” I cussed at how touching ANYTHING brought your hamster ball to a dead stop in “Atlasphere.” And finally, I laughed at “Eliminator,” which just required you to hit A and C the entire time to easily win (no need to jump over those pesky hurdles at the end). The only event that kind of worked somewhat well was the “Joust” competition. But of course, the CPU player always does considerably more damage than you, so I guess that helped make up for its functioning better.

I was never a fan of the show, but this game could have at least been a fun bit of competition. But nope, it’s busted. Nonsensical with how it controls, frustrating and repetitive to play through, and above all else, just not fun. Even the most dyslexia-stricken game designer couldn’t have come up with this game’s name entry control scheme, so I’m guessing it was just some kind of twisted trolling effort by the game designers. But hey, I did beat the damn thing. I played through all the events multiple times and came out of it the winner. I think I also came out of it with a mild case of Tourette’s Syndrome, but hey… that’s all part of the fun, right?

… right?

Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master By Joseph C

I want to start off by talking about The Super Shinobi 2 which was a game I always wanted to play. You see, I occasionally got a magazine called Mega Zone in Australia which was a dedicated and locally produced Sega magazine in operation in the very late ’80s to the mid ’90s or so I understand. One of the few issues I owned claimed to have reviews of every Mega Drive game ever. This probably wasn’t even close to true, but there were a lot games listed, each with a short comment and a rating from one to five stars. As a big fan of the Shinobi series, I had been interested to see that they had given Shadow Dancer, The Revenge of Shinobi and Shinobi III respectable four star ratings. But what really caught my eye was the five star rating for Super Shinobi 2. I thought the game must be amazing, especially considering how great the three lower rated Shinobi games were. I kept a look out for it even years after I lost (or threw out) the magazine.

As most readers probably know, The Super Shinobi II is just the Japanese version of Shinobi III but one of the titles that makes ordering the series chronologically so confusing. While I was disappointed to find out that there was no amazing Shinobi game I hadn’t played, it was still nice to have closure. And anyway, Shinobi III is certainly the most accomplished title in the series, if not my personal favourite. The Revenge of Shinobi will always be the one I remember most fondly but this is more because it was the first game in the series that I owned. Shinobi III improves on most aspects of Revenge with a much tighter control scheme and some great new moves. The music, level design and boss battles are also great.

I still go back to this once in a while, even if only to play the first few levels. And if you by chance have not played this game, I can only recommend that you check it out. It is available on almost every modern game system for a very reasonable price and isn’t hard to find in its original format either.

Castle of Illusion starring Mickey Mouse By Frank Ramirez

When I first saw screenshots of this game, it was in a gaming magazine, probably Gamepro, or even the old Video Games magazine from way back. What I saw fascinated me, and maybe even terrified me just a little. Mostly there were shots of the dark forest, the castle, and the clock tower, and wow, talk about atmospheric! These glimpses evoked a sense of a dark foreboding, and hell, even the game’s title does, and it makes sense. A lot of Disney animated films were much more than musical numbers and fluff. They definitely evoked that dark, foreboding sense in spades. Just chalk it all up as a part of that classic Disney magic.

I finally had the chance to play this game (now that my Xbox is modded), and I can say, what a wonderful game it was! I was happy to see there was enough whimsy to counteract that foreboding sense I’d always gotten, like the toy stage, or the giant library stage with silly enemies like bookworms and runaway letter A’s! The music was a treat, and it went along very well with the colorful graphics. I can definitely see how this game was a popular platformer long before Sonic came along.

I can’t imagine doing a playthrough of a game like this in sitting anymore, sadly. I think I might be at that age where I NEED to tackle a game in chunks, rather than doing it all at once. Or my attention span is bad now. Either way, this was one of the more enjoyable games I’ve had the pleasure of playing in recent months. I still love my modern games, but games like THIS really do take me back to another time. When games were simpler, and held a sort of innocence.

If only it were maybe just one level longer.

I also like to think that the Evil Queen’s name from Snow White is Mizrabel.

Rambo III By David Dyne

I first saw Rambo 3 way back in the late ’80s during one of those vintage Genesis television commercials we all know and love. Rambo was facing off against a Hind helicopter with only his bow and explosive arrows and it looked amazing compared to the 8-bit systems of the time. Fast forward to 2011, and I picked up a loose copy of the game to go with my first model two Genesis in order to revisit my favorite console after throwing away my original Genesis model one and all my games over a decade earlier. Yes, I was a mooncalf for doing so and will forever regret the decision.

I played the game a bit back then and found it to be interesting, although I soon moved onto other titles and didn’t return to it until now. Blasting through the Russian army to rescue Colonel Trautman was a great throwback to the run and gun era and being one the early Genesis titles, it has a certain type of magic that later titles can’t match. It’s one of the few Rambo titles that fully immerses you into the character and gives you his full arsenal to dish out the damage.The excellent soundtrack keeps the action flowing and the higher difficulty levels will challenge even the most jaded Commando veterans as dozens of soldiers close in for the kill from all sides in the later stages.

If you’re an action fan and haven’t picked this game up, go do it now! Also, does anybody know the story behind the “A” music option in the sound test? I couldn’t find the track in the game after finishing it on all difficulties and was curious to know why it was included.

Streets of Rage 2 by Frank Villone

The last couple months have been such a whirlwind! Women came and went like violent winds, but those are just the normal day-to-day storms. The housing situation (with friends) suddenly blew away, leading to some frantic weeks of searching and moving! When I finally began to settle in the new place, soaking in the free heat and hot water, I was still waiting for someone to hook up with me (for electricity). So the Game Gear brought light to the darkness, and Streets of Rage 2 rocked my world! Gameplay and graphics are surprisingly similar to the Genesis original, despite being 8-bit and displayed on such a small screen, with such low resolution. Yuzo Koshiro’s soundtrack is easily the best I have heard rocking my Game Gear!

Once I got electricity, I had to revisit Streets of Rage 2 on the very best kind of Genesis: The Model 1 with Hi-Definition Graphics, no TMSS, and the fullest bass-heavy sound to blast through my Sony stereo (using output from the Genesis’ headphone jack). Koshiro’s soundtrack is amazing through tall speakers, especially with a giant sub-woofer for the bass! The intro shows the huge role of music in this title; A hypnotic dance rhythm drops unexpectedly, then grows increasingly layered and complex. After dancing for a minute and reading the back-story, the mind is blown before starting the first stage!

Everyone loves some good visual over-stimulation, and here it is from the first moment: Axel hits the green-tiled streets, surrounded by flashing neon, and starts beating the hell out of everyone in sight! On the heels of the recent Game Gear play-through , the 16-bit original blew me away! I always use the code to unlock Mania: The absolute highest difficulty setting with the maximum number of enemies. Of course, there is far more action at once, than the Super Nintendo could ever handle!

Streets of Rage 2 is clearly the best brawler on Genesis, and probably the best brawler ever! Grab the nearest pipe, knife, ninja-blade, or sword, and let them have it!


  1. Pingback: Sega-16 Articles | The Essential Malady

  2. WOW! Two of the games (shinobi, and castle of illusion) i’m also playing too…talk about sega-16 hive mind XD
    Anyway, add Gallahad and Sonic 2, along with finishing Ecco the Dolphin and you pretty much have my January list!

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