Tag Archives: Genesis

Sega Ages: Tant-R and Bonanza Bros

It’s a double feature today, as the two games in question were bundled together as Sega Ages 2500 Vol. 6 on PlayStation 2 in Japan, and indeed remain as a single “unit” in the Sega Classics Collection we got here in the West.

Bonanza Bros is a staple inclusion in most people’s Mega Drive libraries — indeed, it’s tended to find its way into most of the Mega Drive compilations for subsequent consoles over the years, too — but Tant-R may well be new to you, since prior to the Sega Classics Collection release it was Japan-exclusive.

The Sega Ages versions of both games don’t radically reinvent anything to the same degree as Tamsoft’s take on Monaco GPbut they remain solid games in their own right. So let’s take a closer look.

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Sonic the Hedgehog: Spinning Off

So we’ve already talked about Sonic’s main 16-bit games on the Mega Drive, as well as his 8-bit adventures on the Game Gear and Master System.

But we have a few more games to explore from this early era before we start exploring the blue blur’s oft-maligned jump into 3D space, and those are the numerous spin-offs that appeared to complement the “mainline” platformer experiences.

Turns out there’s quite a few of them. And they’re pretty much all really cool! Let’s take a closer look.

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Mega Drive Essentials: ToeJam and Earl

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.

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Mega Drive Essentials: Shadow Dancer

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.

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Sega Mega Drive Classics: Yes, It’s That Time Again

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.

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Mega Drive Essentials: Fatal Labyrinth

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.

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Mega Drive Essentials: Burning Force

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?

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