Features Reader Roundtable

Reader Roundtable Vol. 99

May is done, and now is the time for summer fun and relaxation. What better way to bring in summer weather than to ignore it completely by staying indoors and playing video games! To that end, we have a great list of titles that our staff and readers played last month, so read on and see if there’s something that catches your eye.


Chiki Chiki Boys By Ken Horowitz

I don’t know why, but I find myself coming back to this game quite often. Maybe it’s because I so desperately want a new Monster World title, but there’s more than enough here for Capcom’s game to stand on its own. The Genesis version is very good, with the lack of a two-player option being the only thing that bugs me. The visuals are beautiful and colorful, and the control is very precise, which is vital for an action platformer. There’s great variety to the stages, and that helps to keep things interesting, since the game is actually quite short.

What else can I say that hasn’t already been expressed in our review? If you like arcade action platformers and/or the Monster World games, then you should definitely pick this one up. It would have been perfect if had retained the two-player mode from the arcade, but everything else is great. This is definitely one I will continue to enjoy for some time.

AfterBurner Complete By The Coop

Quite a few years ago, I had a bit of a bad health spell. It was a year that I kept getting sick a lot, and on one instance, I wound up getting rather sick for an extended period of time. I was home a lot for a couple of weeks, and just felt like what puked up burritos look like; shit. It was on one of these oh so lovely days that I had to go to the local Walmart and help with some shopping. I was miserable, but I didn’t want to leave my mother having to lug some of what she needed around, when it was just too heavy for her to handle. So, I dragged my sleep-deprived, coughing, and achy self to that Walmart with her, looking as joyous as ever to be sure.

Afterburner Complete 5As I escorted my mother through the store and picked up the heavier items that she couldn’t lift (including a big bag of cat food that had a hidden rip in it, which resulted in a clean up on that aisle), we came to the electronics department. She told me that I’d gotten the big things she needed, so why not go in and look around for a bit. I did so, not because I intended to buy anything, but simply because it meant no more walking with my aching legs thanks to the bench they had in there for whatever reason. I briefly browsed the Genesis and 32X section, and saw that they didn’t have much of a selection. But, what they did have was After Burner Complete and Mortal Kombat II, both for the 32X, priced at ten bucks a piece. Cool! I thought as I sat on the bench. Now if only I wasn’t broke from not being able to do any chores last week!

Well, to make a long story short (too late), a bit of sympathy was thrown my way from my mother, and I left the store with the two 32X games mentioned in the paragraph above. I got home, and popped in the game that I really wanted to play the most… and I was not disappointed. After Burner Complete was like entering a different world when compared to the Genesis version of AB II. As competent as that 4Mb 16-bit port was, the 32X port basically WAS the arcade game. The music, the graphics, the scaling… it was stupidly close to being spot on. Hell, I just listened to the music after my first couple of play throughs, enjoying its synth guitar and Top Gun ’80s rock feel. It all made me wish for more of those eye-catching super scaler arcade games to come home, despite how the 32X was basically already dead by that time. I knew there’d never be any more of them, outside of a certain harrier of space that wasn’t present at that Wal-Mart, but hey… a guy can dream, right?

So yeah, the game kicked copious amounts of righteous ass. It really was the arcade game in a little black cartridge, and I loved it. There was a smile on my weary face as I zipped through the sky and proceeded to fi-fi-f-fire missiles at any plane that wasn’t mine. Of course, once I’d had my temporary fill of After Burner Complete, that smile didn’t wane as I eventually played the other game I’d come home with. But that’s a story for another Roundtable.

Doom 32X By David Dyne

Recently, I had my 32X modded for s-video so I’ve spent the first half of this month playing through Cosmic Carnage with Cylic and the last half with Doom, and I still managed to finish both games with the bad endings. Doh! If there’s one thing I miss about gaming from the late ’80s to the early 2000s it’s the ports that were released across multiple systems. Unlike today, where a cross platform release is practically the same game across all current generation consoles, ports back in the day often featured a version unique to the system it was released on.

Doom for the 32X is missing the third episode and lacks the BFG as a legitimate pickup. Doom for the Playstation is great, while the Saturn version is not. On the 3DO, it has a stellar remixed soundtrack but plays in a ridiculously small window while the Jaguar is full screen, runs fast, and yet lacks the in-game soundtrack, except on the end level screens.

Like most people, my first experience with Doom was the shareware version on PC which I played to death before buying the full version on 3 ¼ floppy disks directly from ID Software in the mail. Playing through the 32X version was the first time I’d ever played a version of Doom apart from the PC, so it’s been an interesting trip on the other side of the fence to see what it was like for people whose first experience with Doom was on the various consoles and not the PC original. Despite the 32X version being rushed out for release, it still plays and feels just like the PC version. I’ve become so acclimated to the 32X control scheme using face buttons for strafing, that I’m using the same control setup for the Saturn version even though the shoulder buttons on the controller are already mapped for strafing.

So, if you haven’t already, fire up Doom on the 32X and blast those hellspawn back to hell!

Snatcher By Joseph C.

I’ve never been a huge fan of adventure games so I’d never given Snatcher much thought despite its legendary status as a game and collectible. After playing through the whole thing, I can say that this truly is one of Kojima’s and the Mega CD’s best games. And despite its age, it holds up very well to this day. I love the animation, the voice work mostly isn’t bad, and even the derivative backstory remains compelling until the surprisingly lengthy finale.

Snatcher 7I’m not sure what made this game so enjoyable, but certainly the rewarding-but-never-ridiculous puzzles helped. The entertaining dialogue and a story that never took itself too seriously despite the morbid themes throughout were also factors. I’ve also come to love Kojima’s over-the-top story telling, and Snatcher is a great way to see how early his style developed.

I won’t say this is a must own because the price of entry really is too steep but it is certainly a must play for fans of Sega’s first CD console and definitely fans of the Metal Gear series who have yet to try it out. I’m glad I gave it a chance despite my general lack of interest in the genre.

Here is hoping that Konami finally gets around to re-releasing this one day.

Lion King 2 By Sebastian Sponsel

Recently, and old friend from my college years came for a visit and stayed a couple of days. Back then, we both had been avid gamers, spending many a night playing PC or console games on various platforms. After a few years though, he decided to go to a different university and moved to another part of the country. We stayed in touch but never really got together for gaming as a result.

He arrived, we had a good time, sharing a few anecdotes and laughs. Eventually, his eyes fell on the wall unit where I kept my video games. Of course he recognized the old Sega and Nintendo titles, and he carefully eyed my Playstation shelf. Then, his eyes fell on an old cassete box.

“What’s that?” he asked. “Do you still keep actual cassette tapes in there?”

“No,” I answered with a grin. “The C64 tapes are in the bottom drawer. This box is where I keep my Mega Drive bootlegs!”

Hacks & Homebrews- Lion King 2&3 2I had started keeping my pirate cartridges in there since they were all loose carts that, as luck would have it, fit perfectly in the spaces intended for cassette tapes. The look on his face when he flipped open the cassette box was priceless. I had started gathering up the odd bootleg only after I graduated, so he had never actually seen that part of my collection before. After showing off some of my pieces and getting the odd head shake out of him, we finally decided to flip on the Mega Drive so he could see the games in action.

I think the biggest laughs I heard from him came when we threw on the fighting games Top Fighter 2000MK VII and Lord of the Rings. He threw up his hands in mock frustration after seeing the title screen to Pirates of the Caribbean only to see that it was a Russian hack of Uncharted Waters. He blew raspberries at the neigh unplayable mess that is A Bug’s Life.

Eventually though, we ended up playing Lion King 2 in its entirety. After a couple of beers, we had tons of fun with that crazy but surprisingly playable unlicensed knock-off. We had to take a short break when the flying platforms with the swastikas appeared. But eventually we could watch the fireworks together with both iterations of Simba.

It was a crazy, fun-filled, video-game-powered night. Just like old times.

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