Features Reader Roundtable

Reader Roundtable Vol. 89

As American Independence Day draws near, thoughts turn to hot dogs and potato salad. That’s all fine and good, but everyone knows that the real American pastime is video games, and what better way to honor the founders of our nation than by playing a console called “Genesis?” Just as Washington, Adams and Jefferson battled to forge a new country, Sega fought to establish a new console.  OK, maybe that comparison is a wee bit too much, but no one can deny that our country’s founders did everything they could to give us a long weekend for gaming. See? Who said we didn’t pay attention in history class?


Phelios By Ken Horowitz

Seeing an actual third party Genesis game was something of an odd experience back in the day. As a child raised on the Master System and the launch Genesis, it was kind of weird to see games made by other companies. I was quite enthused by those early efforts though, and playing games like Thunder Force III and Target Earth really made me excited about the console’s potential. Namco had a trio of games in the second wave of third party releases, and I enjoyed Phelios the most. The colorful graphics and terrific soundtrack complimented its solid gameplay, and the Genesis had another great vertical shooter. While not overly difficult, Phelios was still challenging, and my friends and I were eager to hear the voices in each cut scene, scratchy as they are. The fact that it’s still so inexpensive today is a good thing for those looking for an underrated Genesis gem to add to their collection. After all these years, it’s still so much fun to save Artemis!

Boxing Legends of the Ring By Sebastian Sponsel

Reader Roundtable 89-1This month I felt like playing a boxing game, something relatively uncomplicated yet still challenging. Usually, boxing games fall into one out of two categories: the wholesome simulations that urge the player to fight strategically (like, for example, Greatest Heavyweights), or the reaction tests where in order to proceed, you need to stud Y and exploit certain attack patterns (like in Punch Out!). Boxing Legends of the Ring is somewhere in the middle of that. Technically, it has a focus on simulation, where you have to invest points for the strengths of your new fighter. But the game itself is easily exploited: Just dump all your points into strength, left jab, right hook and right cross, and as soon as the bell rings, go to town on your opponents face. Almost every fight can be won that way. This may sound boring, and it is kind of repetitive. I still had fun with the game, though. The graphics and sounds aren’t top-notch, but they’re good enough to transmit the visceral feel of a boxing match. Plus, it has something satisfying, something cathartic, something oddly liberating to simply start wailing on an opponent, letting his face feel the full force of your fist over, and over, and over again until he finally submits to the brute force. It may not be the best boxing game out there, but if you just need to let off some steam, this will do nicely.

Zero Wing By Metallica Man X

I picked up a Sega Nomad not long ago at a yard sale…a sweet find to say the least. Being the hacker that I am, I had to mod it up. First, I added a modern LCD. Then, I added an internal Lithium-ion pack (7.4v, 1500 mAh = about 3 hours power) and shaved the walls of the cart slot to fit non-US games. Lastly, I recently picked up a pouch to carry it in too (it’s an off-brand pouch, but it does the job). All these items added together equals only one thing…SEGA AT WORK!

So what have I been playing at work you ask? None other than the notorious Engrish title : ZERO WING (All your base are belong to us!). Granted, I only have the Japanese original, so no funny Engrish, but it’s still a pretty enjoyable game. It certainly makes for a good romp during my short breaks throughout the night. Just set the game to hard and go for the high score! The best I’ve managed so far is only around 200,000..and that’s only near the mid point of stage two, but I’m getting better!

My only real beef with the game is how much it punishes you when you die…you lose ALL of your power-ups. So, I just set my number of ships to one and see how far I can go with it, lol.

I wonder what Sega awesomeness I’ll play at work next?

Streets of Rage 2 Joseph C.

Streets of Rage 2 was the first one I played, my favourite in the series and almost certainly my all-time favourite beat-em-up. I like all three games but this is the one I am always coming back to even today. It is still best played with a friend but I’ve always enjoyed it just fine on my own too. It does almost everything right and I’m only disappointed it didn’t include a couple of smaller features of the original.

Probably all that is going to be, has been said about the game but I’d like to add one thing that I think made it special for me and that is the variety in the playable characters. Unlike most beat-em-ups where I have and stick to my favourite, I actually genuinely enjoy playing as all four characters. I started off liking Skate, moved on to Max and then Blaze and over the past few years I’ve generally chosen Axel. All four force you to change up your play style, so even after playing it to the point where I could play the whole thing in my head, I can make it interesting by playing as a different character.

Regardless of which one you like best, all three Streets of Rage games have something to recommend them. This is partly because all three have one or more features or mechanics that the others don’t and mostly because they are all great games. I like imagine a Streets of Rage 4 that combines aspects of the three. For example, it would have music on par for the first two, the power attack meter of SoR3, the multiple endings and team attacks of one & three. This would all be wrapped up in a story mode of comparable length and variety to Streets of Rage 2. It might happen one day.

OutRun 2019 By KitsuneNight

So, what do we got here then? OutRun 2019 is a bit of a difficult one. It’s the Outrun that never was, or rather the Outrun that isn’t. After the Megadrive ports of OutRun, Turbo OutRun, OutRunners ( which the poor old MD, could barley handle anyway, and is by all accounts pretty bad.), we get the fourth entry in the series, which by all accounts, it should not be.  Outrun 2019 orignally started as a Mega CD racing title, titled Cyber Road. Developer Sims Co. shifted the development to the Mega Drive and renamed it Junkers High.  For various vaugearities that will never be known, Sega decided to grant the game with the OutRun monicker, resulting in a futuristic entry in the series.

But is it OutRun? Yes and no. It’s original spirit and atmosphere are gone and replaced by something altogether more Bladerunner. (and right now we are six years away from 2019. So where are the hover cars and cars with rocket-mounted afterburners anyway ?) But despite being altogether more moody, what we got is still OutRun.

The game still moves along different stages, splitting up in branching paths as you go along. Just like the previous entries in the Outrun series (and this may have been the reason Sega, granted it the OutRun name to begin with, since it is so similar.) We race along overpasses, through tunnels and across cityscapes, which look rather futuristic. Part of the screen is taken up by a fancy high tech dashboard, that looks suitable impressive but other then a speed gauge it does nothing. It’s probably there to ensure the game will chug along at a more then passable speed. The game is above all fast.
The scenery flits by at an impressive frame rate with almost no slowdown and you can even build up a turbocharge and let it rip. Unfortunately, that’s also where the problems begin. You have absolutely no control over the turbo, when its build up it will launch your car whether you want to or not And it can happen at the most inopportune moments. And its also extremely easy to fall of the overpasses. But I suppose that keeps you sharp.

The graphics are fairly bland and uninspired. Lots of drab greys, for that dystopian future feeling, even though there are some nice graphical effects, such as the translucent overpasses, for one. The game is not very long, there are only four tracks. But thanks to the branching paths, to take in true OutRun tradition there is a lot more to see and do then you may think at first. One of the better aspects, in my opinion however is the total lack of weapons, which was a bit too common in futuristic racers of the day.

In the end though, is it a good game? Yes. It’s not an absolute classic. Nor is it an essential purchase, but if you like OutRun. If you already have the original games and even OutRunners, then you will like this. If not, well if you see it cheap there is no need to pass this up, but don’t expect miracles.

One Comment

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

Leave a Comment