Ah, the ’90s. The era of attitude. Or, more specifically, the era of everyone spontaneously and inexplicably wishing they were Californian.
Video games certainly weren’t exempt from this trend at all, though various different titles from the era took their attitude towards, uh, “‘tude” more seriously than others.
One noteworthy game from the early ’90s that simultaneously acknowledged the popularity of California-style attitude as well as poking fun at the inherent absurdity of it all — particularly the disconnect between your stereotypical video game nerd and what one would think of as a “cool dude” — was Johnson Voorsanger Productions’ ToeJam & Earl, published by Sega for the Mega Drive in 1991.
Continue reading Mega Drive Essentials: ToeJam and Earl
What happened to ninjas? I feel like they were unironically cool in the ’90s, and that they were everywhere.
Perhaps they simply learned that being highly visible is not an especially desirable characteristic for a ninja, and thus deliberately relegated themselves to the world of overly tryhard “wacky!” memes alongside pirates, dinosaurs and zombies. Put them all together and you get LOL SO RANDOM, yo. And these days, everyone wants to ignore that nonsense. The perfect cover.
Anyway, here’s Shadow Dancer for the Mega Drive, a 1990 release from Sega and one of the first games I ever played on the system.
Continue reading Mega Drive Essentials: Shadow Dancer
You know a console generation has truly reached maturity when it gets a compilation of Mega Drive games.
Sega’s library of 16-bit classics must surely, by now, be some of the most frequently officially and legally emulated games of all time — and yet we keep getting these packages. And people keep buying them. People like, yes, me.
So is this latest bundle of games worth picking up? Well, read on and find out — and over the course of the coming weeks, we’ll be looking at the individual games in the compilation in more detail, too, through the Mega Drive Essentials column.
Continue reading Sega Mega Drive Classics: Yes, It’s That Time Again
Roguelikes have been around for many years now, but in recent years we’ve seen an explosion in popularity of more accessible games that present a friendlier face to this notoriously obtuse genre.
Well-received Western indie titles such as Spelunky, Rogue Legacy, Dungeons of Dredmor, FTL and numerous others helped popularise (and, some may argue, dilute) the roguelike genre. At the same time, games such as One Way Heroics and the Mystery Dungeon series helped develop the genre in a distinctively Japanese direction.
But this development isn’t quite as recent as you might think. In fact, we’ve had accessible console-style roguelikes since the 16-bit era, though many may not have been aware of “roguelike” as a genre at the time. And a great — if particularly punishing — example can be found in the form of Sega’s Fatal Labyrinth (aka Shi no Meikyuu: Labyrinth of Death, no relation to Compile Heart’s MeiQ: Labyrinth of Death) for Mega Drive.
Continue reading Mega Drive Essentials: Fatal Labyrinth
One of the best things about the Mega Drive — and one of the aspects that makes it a system so enjoyable to revisit — is the prevalence of unabashedly arcade-style games — and indeed arcade ports — in its catalogue.
Namco’s Burning Force is a particularly fun example that offers something a little different from the norm; while received with fairly mediocre reviews on its original release thanks to a superficial resemblance to Sega classic Space Harrier, looking back on it from a modern perspective reveals a pleasingly distinctive shoot ’em up that both looks and plays great even today.
Also it features a pretty girl in a neon pink leotard riding a transforming hoverbike. What’s not to like about that?
Continue reading Mega Drive Essentials: Burning Force
Sega’s Mega Drive console — or the Genesis to those of you in the States — was a wonderful machine.
In many ways, it started the process of making gaming “cool”, and laid the groundwork for Sony’s solid efforts to make our whole form of entertainment a lot more mainstream with the first PlayStation. But more importantly, it played host to a wide variety of absolutely fantastic games.
One such title was Game Arts’ Alisia Dragoon, an unusual action game that combines elements of disparate genres to produce an extremely memorable, enjoyable and addictive game that still holds up well today.
Continue reading Mega Drive Essentials: Alisia Dragoon
We’re going retro this time around, with a classic from the early days of Sega’s 16-bit console, the Mega Drive.
The heyday of Techno Soft’s Thunder Force series was arguably around its visually spectacular third and fourth installments, both of which were often used by many proud Mega Drive owners as showcases of their system’s audio-visual capabilities, but the second installment — a launch title for the Genesis in the States — is an interesting game in its own right, mostly because it’s quite different from its better-known successors.
We may not have seen a new Thunder Force game since 2008’s PlayStation 2 release of Thunder Force VI, but the series as a whole remains extremely solid to this day, and one well worth checking out if you’re a dedicated shmup fan.
Continue reading Shmup Essentials: Thunder Force II