Developed by an American satellite studio of Sega and published for the Megadrive/Genesis in 1995, Comix Zone is a unique and interesting single-player beat ’em up in which battles are fought inside the pages of a comic.
The Megadrive/Genesis conversion of Ghouls ‘N Ghosts is one of the very best conversions out there. In my opinion, second only to Super Ghouls ‘N Ghosts on the SNES (and of course the original arcade game).
Developed by Sega and released for the Megadrive/Genesis in 1990, Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse is a masterpiece platform game that has stood the test of time extremely well.
Rolling Thunder 3 is a Sega Megadrive/Genesis exclusive. It was developed by Now Production and published by Namco in 1993. It did not appear in arcades, like its predecessors did.
This time you’re playing a different member of the Rolling Thunder team, a guy called Jay who wears blue trousers, as well as the usual gun holster on his chest. Jay is on the hunt for the Geldra gang second-in-command, while Codename Albatross and Leila go after the big boss – this is supposed to be happening at the same time as the events in Rolling Thunder 2, you see…
Unlike Rolling Thunder 2, Rolling Thunder 3 only has a single-player mode, which is a bit of an oversight. The Megadrive has two joypad ports by default, so I don’t know what they were thinking there… This would have been a great chance to combine what made the first and second games good – the ‘feel’, tempo, and graphical style of the first game, and the simultaneous two-player mode of the second… Oh well.
Jay operates similarly to Albatross – he can run, jump; leap up to an overhead platform; enter a door, and fire a variety of weapons. Gameplay is similar to the arcade original as you’d expect – some enemies get back up after being shot, so must be shot more than once; enemies come out of doors randomly so you have to be careful when you enter them; and each type of enemy has characteristic behaviour. Learning how to deal with individuals is a must in order to make it through a level – unless you know the game very well you’re not going to rush through it. Like the original: it’s challenging.
Features new to this game include: special weapons – selectable from a total of nine at the start, including three types of hand grenades; crosshairs lining up to fire on you if you take too long to complete a level; two fire buttons – one for special weapons; new enemies; checkpoint restarts; boss battles; and motorbikes!
In spite of there being no two-player mode, Rolling Thunder 3 is still an exceptional run-and-gunner. The graphics and gameplay are a nice re-imagining of the original and in this third instalment you can finally shoot diagonally! Back o’ the net!
Tip: Enter GREED as a password to play as the hidden character Ellen.
General Chaos is a memorable multiplayer strategy/action game, developed by Game Refuge Inc. and published for the Sega Megadrive by Electronic Arts in 1993.
The game is basically a real-time, single-screen tactical action game, with two teams of soldiers fighting it out for overall domination. You can either take on the computer AI, or another person, and must capture your opponent’s base to win the game.
General Chaos is a cartoony depiction of war, so is satirical rather than bloody. Graphically, the soldiers are well-animated and have character, and gameplay-wise the game has a lot going for it. Up to four players can play simultaneously against the computer – if you have the correct adaptor – which is brilliant fun. I actually got the opportunity to play this with three other people on a real Megadrive, back in 1993, although I had no idea what I was doing… Playing it now brings back a lot of good memories, although General Chaos is definitely more than just good nostalgia – it’s a great game that has stood the test of time well!
Also known in some territories as The Story of Thor: A Successor of The Light, Beyond Oasis is an action adventure game that was developed by Ancient and published by Sega in 1994.
You could describe Beyond Oasis as a Zelda-style adventure – the world is viewed from above and you control a sword-wielding adventurer who engages in a real-time combat – but in reality this game is not a patch on Zelda; it really doesn’t have the detail and finesse of a Zelda game.
Graphically, Beyond Oasis is nice. The graphics are beautifully-drawn and evoke a suitably Arabian fantasy style atmosphere. Unfortunately the overly-simplistic gameplay results in a kind of detachment from any kind of real engagement. What I mean by that is that it’s a bit boring to play but looks nice. Which is a pity. A bit more character and depth could’ve resulted in something special. As it is, we got something merely okay.
An official sequel/prequel to this, called The Legend of Oasis, was released for the Sega Saturn in 1996.
Released in 1989 for the Sega Megadrive/Genesis, Phantasy Star II is a pioneering RPG for its time. It’s a sequel, obviously; to the classic Sega Master System release of 1987, Phantasy Star.
Phantasy Star II was the first RPG released for the Sega Megadrive, and pre-dates the release of Final Fantasy on the NES – in the USA, that is. Both Phantasy Star II and the long-awaited English translation of Final Fantasy helped popularise RPGs in the USA and Europe in the ’90s.
Set some one thousand years after the events of the first game, Phantasy Star II is another sci-fi-based level-grinder with a party system and turn-based combat.
The first-person sections seen in the first game have been dropped, and Phantasy Star II is played almost entirely with separate ‘overworld’ and dungeon sections, shown from an overhead perspective.
There are also fewer abbreviated names in the game, compared to the original, which is good although the names of items and magic and stuff in this are still pretty weird. We can at least thank Sega for trying to do something different with the genre with this weirdness.
As far as gameplay goes: Phantasy Star II is fast and slick, and the timing of all the different processes is pretty much perfect. It’s very easy to get sucked-in to the hypnotic gameplay of this classic level-grinder, but the experience is worth it.
Ask anyone what their favourite beat ’em up is on the Sega Megadrive/Genesis and they will probably reply: Streets of Rage 3.
Released by Sega in 1994, Streets of Rage 3 is the jewel in the crown of a brilliant trilogy of scrolling fighting games. It has four playable characters (Axel, Blaze, Skate and Zan), each with their own strengths and weaknesses, and can be played either single or multi-player.
As you scrap away you can pick up barrels and throw them at enemies (knocking over small groups in one hit) and also pick up a variety of weapons (knives, swords, baseball bats) to help give you an edge in the battle against the bad guys.
Streets of Rage 3 plays faster than its predecessors; the enemy AI has been expanded to allow more enemies to pick up weapons; players can team up to perform powerful ‘team attacks’; in general the game is much harder, and there are also multiple endings.
Graphically, Streets of Rage 3 is a work of pixel artistry. Everything is crisp, colourful, and beautifully-drawn, with superb 2D animation and backgrounds.
Other than it being a little repetitive, there is very little to fault about Streets of Rage 3 and it still pops-up on various retro game compilations and services from time to time, and probably always will.
Note: The Japanese original contains quite a few differences to the North American release. The story is different, and the English version is censored in some places. These grabs are from the North American version.
The Sega Megadrive/Genesis version of Prince of Persia was developed and published by Tengen and Domark in 1993. It is another great conversion – unique to all the rest.
Graphically: it is one of the best, with really nice texturing, lighting and animation. Gameplay-wise: I did have a problem with grabbing ledges.
In Prince of Persia it is a fundamental part of the gameplay, to be able to grab ledges when jumping. And usually you can run off the edge of a platform, with the fire button held down, and simply grab a ledge. Not here. Or at least: not consistently. Which is incredibly frustrating because it means you can’t play the game as it’s meant to be played – you have to work around the problem.
Apparently the Megadrive version of Prince of Persia contains four levels exclusive to this release although I couldn’t really tell you which ones they are. All 12 levels can easily be accessed with codes. See if you can tell. 🙂
Ledge-grabbing issues aside: Megadrive Prince of Persia is a fine game that stands-out, at least visually, among the many other versions out there.