Every month, our staff and readers share what they’ve been playing. A lot of hidden gems and some well-known classics are discussed, and we hope they’ve helped people find some great new games to play. This month’s selection is filled with some Genesis legends, and we hope you give them a chance if you haven’t already played them or take them out for another spin if you have.
Ristar By Ken Horowitz
Every so often, I come back to Ristar. Maybe it’s because of the spectacular presentation and rock-solid gameplay, or maybe it’s because I still have memories of it wallowing in bargain bins back when people were caught in the embrace of everything 32-bit; I don’t know. There’s just something about the game that makes me very happy to play it.
That’s probably why I decided that this time I would actually try to finish it. I accomplished my goal, after some time, I realized that I wasn’t completely done with the game. I know that in a few months, it’ll be back in my Genesis, and I’ll be humming along to all those great songs and smiling as I stop to watch the parallax scrolling and all of Ristar’s neat little animations and expressions. That’s what makes a game a classic, and Ristar fits that description to a tee. It’s a game everyone should play and one that certainly deserves more respect than it’s received over the years.
Sonic 3 By Sebastian Sponsel
This month, I met with an old friend of mine, a fellow veteran of our Mega Drive Tournaments, for a few friendly competitive matches on our favorite 16-bit console. And for the first time in I don’t know how many years, I sat down and played the games’ competition mode for an extended period of time. Strangely, I realized that while I’ve spent hours with the competitive two-player-mode of Sonic 2, I hardly ever concluded a quick race in its sequel, especially not in the past few years. It was high time I rectified that.
While the races are pretty fun, and – though short – offer plenty of opportunity for the different characters to address their strengths and weaknesses, after some time I just couldn’t ignore something anymore. The competitive mode of Sonic 3 is pretty buggy! The glitches range from odd visual bugs (like the moon vanishing from the background after completing a lap in “Chrome Gadget”) to annoying (like hitting an invisible wall between two platforms in “Azure Lake”) to outright game breaking (like “Flying” out of bounds in “Balloon Park” and thus warping across the entire race). I had always felt that this two player mode was only tacked on as some kind of afterthought, since Sonic 2 had one as well (and the latter wasn’t without its share of bugs either). However, I never realized how shoddy the programming in Sonic 3’s competition mode appears to be at times. It’s still fun… it’s just rather disappointing, considering how great the game is overall.
Dungeons & Dragons: Warriors of the Eternal Sun By Zebbe
Though I’ve had the game for years, I didn’t actually start playing Warriors of the Eternal Sun until my computer broke this summer. It’s the first western style RPG I’ve played more than a few minutes, and since games of this kind are so different compared to their Japanese counterparts (of which I’ve completed many of), this became a challenging adventure for me. Luckily, my friend who is a big fan of the game, was there to help me with it.
First off, you can make things even harder for yourself if you pick the wrong party. Apparently any party with a hobbit and/or without a cleric is doomed. Also, you need to roll the dice until you have good stats, of which some are extremely important while others don’t matter. High charisma and low strength won’t bring the ring to Mordor in this case, that’s for sure.
The story is quite original. Your dukedom was magically teleported to a valley of historical creatures, which is turning your people crazy (who wouldn’t?). And it’s your job to fix this somehow. The graphics look like crap and the music is so-so, but it’s fun to crawl in the dungeons and the battles are somewhat interesting. Outside of the dungeons, they are turn-based, and within the dungeons they are in real time. Interesting twist!
There is something I cannot forgive though, and that is enemies who take away your levels. No joke. If they hit you, hours of grinding are suddenly gone on that character. This is among the dumbest game designs I have ever experienced. And it’s not like these enemies hold on to the mighty Thor’s hammer or a gazillion of EXP or something, no, they just give peanuts and pennies. So there is no point in fighting them, risking your valuable levels, just run away like Arthur, King of the Britons.
While Dungeons & Dragons on the Mega Drive was fun, it had its ups and downs. I still much prefer Japanese RPGs, but I’m definitely open for more western style stuff. Hopefully Eye of the Beholder on the Mega-CD is great, as it’s probably the next one I’m going to buy
Pulseman By Paige
The game I have been toiling away on this month has been none other than Pulseman. This game is absolutely amazing, and I wish I had picked this gem up sooner! The graphics are unbelievable… I mean, just look at that Casino stage! The vibrant, flashy colors are reminiscent of the background effect in the sixth special stage of Sonic CD. The music is also fantastic and really sets the mood, though it can be a bit creepy at times (I’m looking at you, India and Thailand).
The game doesn’t hit you too hard too fast, and for that I am thankful. The first three stages fly by with relative ease; the next three are more intricate and require better platforming skills, but if you learn how to use Pulseman’s “volteccer” move effectively they shouldn’t be a problem. Stage seven is by far the trickiest one, and I keep dying at the very beginning. I don’t know what it is about this level: no matter how many lives I rack up, I still blow through them all as well as all my continues without making it past the first area of the stage. Ah, well. Despite my inability to beat this game, I just keep coming back to it!