After a somewhat disappointing start, we’re back with 5 more games from Steam’s Sega Genesis collections. At the time of this writing, I have purchased the Sonic Hits collection as well as the other Genesis games not in bundles, so this is going to turn into an 11 or 12 part series.
Phantasy Star II (1989, Collection 5)
Phantasy Star II is a sci-fi RPG. It is punishing, difficult, needlessly complicated at times, and a lot of level grinding is necessary. You’re going to spend a fair amount of time hovering around the first town, fighting mosquitoes and ants, and having to go get healed every 2 battles or so. It’s at this point that I realized that old RPGs don’t hold the same charm for me that they did in the 80s and 90s. I’d love to play a remake of this game, and can recommend it to RPG fans. The futuristic setting is different enough to keep things interesting, even though the game doesn’t stray very far from old school RPG traditions.
The Revenge of Shinobi (1989, Collection 5)
The Revenge of Shinobi is an action platformer, and if you couldn’t tell by the title, is a sequel to 1987’s Shinobi. This is a decent game, with lots of power-ups to collect, different types of ninja magic, and large, expansive levels to fight your way through. However, cheap enemy placement really brings this game down, to the point where having knowledge of upcoming enemies doesn’t really help much. For example, there’s a short underground section in the first stage where several ninjas attack you by appearing via rotating walls. I tried several times, but couldn’t get through that section without taking a hit or two. While this isn’t a great game, it is a fun one, although somewhat frustrating.
Crack Down (1990, Collection 1)
Crack Down is a top down run-and-gun game, where your objective is to plant time bombs in marked locations and then make your escape to another marked location. There are robotic soldiers trying to stop you, and they increase in both number and difficulty as you progress through the levels. The unique feature to this game is that you can dodge enemy fire by clinging to the walls, although this won’t work on the enemies carrying flamethrowers. If you like Gauntlet/Alien Syndrome style action with a bit of stealth thrown in, Crack Down is the game for you.
Shadow Dancer: The Secret of Shinobi (1990, Collection 1)
Shadow Dancer is an action platformer, and like The Revenge of Shinobi, is also a sequel to 1987’s Shinobi. Both of these games were developed at roughly the same time, with Shadow Dancer being released as the arcade sequel, while Revenge of Shinobi was a console exclusive. So which one is the “real” sequel? If you’re going according to fun factor, it’s this one. It also has brighter colors, the enemy placement doesn’t feel nearly as cheap (leading to much more enjoyable gameplay), and you even have a companion dog that you can sic on your enemies!
Columns (1990, Collection 2)
Columns (or “Diagonals”, as I’ve come to call it) was Sega’s answer to Tetris after they lost the console rights. They had developed a version of Tetris for the Genesis, and a few copies were made available, but the infamous Tetris scandal left Nintendo with one of gaming’s first killer IPs and left Sega empty handed. Desperate to find something they could compete with, Sega developed Columns. This game is okay, but there’s really no comparison to Tetris – it’s like steak vs. cat food. If you’ve never played Tetris, you might get some enjoyment out of this one, but it’s a really simple puzzle game that offers virtually none of the strategy that Tetris provides.
So, where do all these games rank on the scale of awesome to awful? Things were definitely better this time around than the first, and this trend will hopefully continue. Once again, I’m going to put them all into 5 categories. Please note that these are based solely on my opinion, and may change to a different category as more games are introduced. New games to the list are in bold text.
Awesome (I will play these again. Definitely recommended)
Shadow Dancer: The Secret of Shinobi
Good (I will play these again. Recommended)
Average (I might play these again. Somewhat recommended)
Phantasy Star II
The Revenge of Shinobi
Boring (I will never play these again. Only recommended if you’re a big fan of the genre)
Awful (I will never play these again. Cannot recommend to anyone)
Space Harrier II
Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle
Super Thunder Blade
Next time I’ll finish up 1990 and begin 1991 with ESWAT: City Under Siege, Sword of Vermilion, Wonder Boy III: Monster Lair, Gain Ground, and Bonanza Bros.
Click here for part 3!