Features Reader Roundtable

Reader Roundtable Vol. 108

Spring is here, and that usually means a warming of temperature. There’s always a warming of Genesis consoles, however, as we play no matter what the season! See what our staff and readers have been enjoying this month, and remember:  who needs sunshine and fresh air when there are so many great games to play?

Wakusei Woodstock: Funky Horror Band By Ken Horowitz

Reader Roundtable Vol 108-1Few examples of media have ever used the word “funky” so accurately. There’s nothing horrific about Funky Horror Band, but man, is this game funky! Think about it: an RPG about a group of alien musicians who crash land on Earth (why must aliens always crash land? Don’t they know how to fly their own ships?). They befriend a human boy who helps them find the pieces to their ship, as well as their instruments. Tell me that doesn’t sound funky!

The weird thing is that the gameplay is quite simple. There’s no leveling up or grinding of any kind, and all you can really customize is your equipment. The battles are standard turn-based affairs, and while the language barrier can be a problem at times, the game is so darn quirky that you want to press on with it. I’m not surprised in the slightest that Funky Horror Band was never brought to the west, but it would have been neat to play this one in English. Fan translation, anyone?

Surgical Strike By Sebastian Sponsel

This month I decided to dust off my Sega CD and dedicate some time to Surgical Strike, or as I like to call it: Explosions, the Video Game: Hooray for Explosions! Seriously, this game is pretty much a non-stop detonation extravaganza. Pretty much every time you fire your gun or your missiles a building blows up, catapulting a green-screened actor across your POV. You rumble down the road, buildings collapsing left and right, while a tank blows up in front of you. A siren goes off, you turn around, two soldiers are just… standing there… and you shoot then with a Vulcan chain gun, causing another vicious blast rocking the screen. Your main task in the first stage is to take out missile launchers. Succeed, and they detonate in a violent, slow-motion take. Fail, and you get a whole country blowing up. Say what you want about FMV games, but if you’re an aficionado of shit blowing up, this game certainly delivers – in good old, grainy Sega CD resolution.

Surgical Strike 3And of course, there’s a huge heaping of cheese. The plot is mid-’90s B-movie action at its hammiest. Riding straight down a road during the first war-torn stage, you get treated to an impromptu belly-dance a propos of nothing – take too long, and a soldier appears to, what else, blow you the fuck up. Buildings, tanks, helicopters, pretty much everything goes down in a fiery detonation. And after battling through a Middle Eastern city (first stage) and a heavily fortified canyon (second stage), you suddenly get greeted by three bikini-clad beauties on a sunny beach. Before you can comprehend what caused the scenery to shift that suddenly, they all get blown up by the villain riding an armored hovercraft. Of course.

What else can be said about this game? It’s an FMV rail shooter, but as the genre goes, it’s fairly entertaining. Plus, where else do you get to blow up the vicious Arabian Colonel from J.A.G., alongside Colonel Sheppard from Stargate: Atlantis trying to rescue the daughter from ALF?

Vigilante By The Coop

You know, sometimes a game looks promising in screen shots but ends up falling flat on its face once it’s in motion and being played. We can all name a few games like that. Sword Of Sodan on the Genesis comes to mind, with its detailed screenshots and such that hid just how horrid the game played, animation and sounded. Another game that comes to mind is the Master System “classic,” Vigilante.

If you looked at the back of the box, you found some rather detailed graphics in the screenshots. The characters were decent looking, the backgrounds featured some nice details and vivid colors, and the game looked like it could have almost passed for an early Genesis title in ways. There was some promise in those images. But when the game was seen in action, things didn’t hold up all that well.

Reader Roundtable Vol 108-2Sure, the animation was pretty good, and the music was decent, but dear God was this game a stupidly easy cakewalk. I’d passed on it many times over the years, figuring it was just a Double Dragon knockoff. But one day I found it cheap and complete, and decided to take a chance. I took it home, and two plays later, the game was beaten. It took me less than 45 minutes to beat a game I’d never played before. There’s just no challenge to it, as the enemies are easily dispatched and rarely gang up on you. Plus, if you know some of the tricks, the game gets to be “teddy bear” easy (anyone remember that setting back in the day?). Why? Because it’s a beat-’em-up where you can actually only beat up a few characters per stage if you time your jumps. And even if you fight everyone, it’s still boring to play or watch as you don’t need most of the few attacks the game gives you to us. Even the bosses are dull and bested quickly with simple punches.

So yeah, not a shining example of what the Master System has to offer. It lacks so much that any points it might earn with its visuals get drown in a sea of sub-mediocrity. As I said, it’s a game that shows promise when you glance at it, but that promise vanishes when the spotlight is actually on it and you’ve got a controller in your hand playing it. But hey, it only cost me a few bucks, and I spent considerably more than that on the likes of Sword Of Sodan. So, I guess the sting of owning Vigilante isn’t horrifically bad.

Sacred Line Genesis: Demo By Frank James Villone

Late February 2015 saw the first-ever cartridge release of Sacred Line Genesis! Although it was first released digitally in late 2013, for use with Genesis emulators and flash carts, I remained unaware of this title until just a couple months ago! Its thread caught my eye in the Sega-16 forums, and soon I managed to find and download the demo.

Reader Roundtable Vol 108-3As a visual novel or graphic adventure, this genre is completely new to me! This is like reading a good book on-screen, with dark atmospheric music, and full-screen pictures accompanying the text. The realistic-style artwork looks great, showing three-dimensional environments and using 3D models for a lot of the content in the pictures. One explores nightmarish landscapes and buildings alone and makes decisions along the way, by choosing different text options. For example: the choice of taking a flashlight, or leaving it. Or the choice of jumping into a tunnel full of blood, or passing by the opportunity!

The demo of Sacred Line Genesis has limited content, so it ends after fighting with the first skeleton. I need to decide whether to buy the full digital version, or the new cartridge release. I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys reading novels, and anyone who likes seeing the Genesis take off in new directions! I suggest you get your hands on Sacred Line Genesis before the skeletons get their hands on you! (Click here for the official website!)

Sacred Line Genesis By Joseph C.

This finally arrived at my door late in March along with the reprint of Pier Solar. I missed the first print of Pier Solar and waited over a year to receive this one so I couldn’t resist grabbing Sacred Line while it was available.

Reader Roundtable Vol 108-4The homebrew scene is largely populated by the more popular genres so Sacred Line is unique, if only for being a text adventure. I knew what to expect going in and was prepared to read a lot. I found the narrative engaging and thought the images suited the mood while allowing my imagination fill in the blanks. There isn’t much gameplay, as is normal for the adventure genre though using dice to make decisions is unique. I did use dice to play and had a streak of very lucky rolls which brought me through to the end.

The only real problem I had with the game was what I felt was an abrupt end. I felt Sasha Darko had only just begun a story that reminded me very much of another wonderful game – Eternal Darkness. Seeing Sega-16’s lord and master Ken Horowitz in the credits was a heartening surprise.

This game won’t be for everybody but I recommend anyone that wants more from their Mega Drive/Genesis check it out.

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