We’re now fully immersed into 1991, the same year the Super Nintendo was released. Do any of these games come close to the greatness that is Super Mario World? Short answer: no.
Fatal Labyrinth (1991, Collection 2)
Fatal Labyrinth is an RPG, specifically a top down dungeon crawler. This is a similar style to Diablo, which would be released 5 years later and is a much better game. You run around in a maze, battling monsters and collecting weapons and armor. This game is fairly tough, and if you don’t know what you’re doing you may end up dying very quickly. No, scratch that. Even if you know what you’re doing, it’s still incredibly easy to die. The biggest problem is how often your attacks miss your enemies. A room with 3 or 4 enemies can easily give you a game over, even when you know you’re powered up enough to defeat them. You regain health by walking, but everything is turn-based. If you take a step, so does your enemy. If you’re lucky you can run away and heal yourself, but I can almost guarantee that you’ll have an encounter with a few snails, start screaming “hit him!” because 6 attacks in a row missed, and end up having to start all over again.
Galaxy Force II (1991, Collection 2)
Galaxy Force II is a third person space shooter. When this game started, I thought “Hey, this looks kind of neat, like what Star Fox might be like in 1991”. Then I began playing, and thought “Wait a second, this is just Super Thunder Blade in space”. And it’s just as bad. Possibly worse. You constantly fire a machine gun that doesn’t hit anything, but at least you still have the heat seeking missiles like Super Thunder Blade. Two years later, and this type of game still feels like a tech demo. Just stay away from this one, it’s not worth your time.
Alien Storm (1991, Collection 3)
Now here’s an interesting take on the beat-em-up genre. Alien Storm throws away traditional techniques like punching, kicking, and jumping (really, like you’re going to take out a hideous monster with a jump kick?) and gives you a Ghostbusters-style proton blasters. Instead of having a ghost trap, you light them on fire with a bazooka, and if they’re strong enough you’ll pull a pistol out and shoot them in the head a few times before igniting their bodies. Each level is broken up into two segments: the beat-em-up part, and a second portion which is normally a first person shooter style. In level 3, the second part turns into a horizontal shooter. If you’re looking for a beat-em-up with some grotesque enemies and unique twists, check out Alien Storm.
Decap Attack (1991, Collection 3)
Decap Attack is a platformer that, along with Titus the Fox, is (in)famous for being a pseudo-sequel to Kid Kool on the NES. The big difference between Kid Kool and this game is that Decap Attack is actually playable. The main character Chuck D. Head has an interesting jump, where you can keep tapping the button to make him float to the ground. However, the real draw for this game is collecting a head for Chuck, which he can then use as a weapon to throw at enemies. This is a decent game with bright colors and decent music, but after I defeated the first level boss I was told that I hadn’t found “the most important item” and that I should search every nook and cranny in the level. Not actually knowing what the item I was supposed to find was, I went back through the level, ultimately leading to my death. This might be a fun game if you know what you’re doing, but I can’t say I enjoyed it enough to want to play it again, searching through the first level with a fine-toothed comb to find an undescribed item.
Flicky (1991, Collection 3)
Flicky makes 1991 feel a lot like 1983. Flicky is a very simple platformer in the Mappy style, where you run along a series of platforms trying to avoid enemies. In this case, Flicky is a blue bird who is trying to rescue smaller birds from cats. The goal is to get them all to the exit, and you get a bigger score bonus if you rescue more of the smaller birds at once. You can knock the cats out temporarily by throwing the objects that are scattered throughout the level. Cats will kill you if they touch you, but they’ll simply break the chain if they touch one of the smaller birds you’ve collected, forcing you to retrieve the birds you’ve just lost. This isn’t a bad game, but it’s very simple by 1991 standards.
Well, it looks like we’ve regressed a bit. This has been the worst group of games I’ve gone through since the first group, although thankfully these games didn’t sink to those depths. As always, I’m going to put these on the awesome-to-awful scale to see how everything stacks up. New games to the lists are in bold text. And since things are getting a little confusing to keep track of, here’s a handy key to the collections.
Sonic Hits Collection
Awesome (I will play these again. Definitely recommended)
Shadow Dancer: The Secret of Shinobi
Good (I will play these again. Recommended)
ESWAT: City Under Siege
Wonder Boy III: Monster Lair
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)
Sword of Vermilion
Awful (I will never play these again. Cannot recommend to anyone)
Space Harrier II
Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle
Galaxy Force II
Super Thunder Blade
Okay, things aren’t looking so great after the first 20 games, but next time tip the scales slightly more in favor of awesome with my favorite Genesis game, as well as a few other really good ones. I’ll continue further into 1991 with Golden Axe II, Shining in the Darkness, Streets of Rage, Phantasy Star III, and Wonder Boy in Monster World.
Click here for part 5!