I’m back with some more Genesis games. This time we’re going to finish 1990 and begin 1991, a year that these Genesis collections really seem to glorify with 14 games representing Sega’s output in 1991.
ESWAT: City Under Siege (1990, Collection 3)
ESWAT is an action platformer where you play the part of a cop in the future. This game is pretty cool, with large, expansive levels to traverse your way through. The graphics look good, the level design is well done, the music is fantastic, and you can fire your gun upward to fight enemies (as opposed to the Shinobi games where you can only fire left and right). The bosses are well designed, and feel less cheap than in most of the previous Sega games. ESWAT is definitely a game to check out if you like the Rolling Thunder/Shinobi style.
Sword of Vermilion (1990, Collection 3)
Sword of Vermilion is an RPG that doesn’t quite seem to know what it wants to be. The town sections are traditional top down style. Walking on the map is done in first person view. Battles are in real time, fought on an isometric plane. Boss battles are in a side view. With the exception of the town section, none of these are done well, and the archaic/unfinished mechanics of the town sections keep even them from being all that interesting. No stats are shown when buying weapons or armor, so buying new weapons either involves guesswork or a trip to GameFAQs. Check this game out if you like old RPGs, but at the same time, don’t really expect much. Or play Phantasy Star II, that’s probably a better option.
Wonder Boy III: Monster Lair (1990, Collection 4)
Sega seems to take a strange approach with some of their games. They’ll make a game, then they’ll develop two sequels for it: one in the arcade and one for home consoles, then they’ll port the arcade game to the console as well so it seems like the third game, but could actually be the second depending on your point of view (see Shinobi). In Wonder Boy’s case, however, it’s the debate over the third and fourth games. Wonder Boy III: The Dragon’s Trap is a completely different game for the Sega Master System, and in my opinion is a much better game.
Monster Lair is a platform based, forced scrolling shooter that incorporates the game style of the original Wonder Boy with the shooter style of games like Gradius or R-Type, complete with powerups that change your shot. Each level is broken down into two sections: a platform section, and a true shooter section where you ride the back of a big pink monster. This is a pretty fun game that, once again, attempts to take the Wonder Boy series in a wild, new direction from its previous iteration.
Gain Ground (1991, Collection 1)
Gain Ground is a top down run-and-gun game that gets better the more you play it. The goal is to defeat all the enemies on screen, or reach the area marked “exit”. You start out controlling a character that throws spears, and sets the game off in a somewhat wrong direction. When that character dies you are put in control of a different character, this one having a gun. Gain Ground immediately gets more fun at this point. As you play through the levels, you’ll see icons representing more characters that you can control. Each character has different attacks, like grenades or fireballs. One downside is that the game seems to move a little too slowly, and you’ll blame some of the times when you die on this. If you take the time to get used to this, it’s really a pretty fun game.
Bonanza Bros. (1991, Collection 2)
Bonanza Bros. is an action platformer, and is Sega’s spiritual sequel to Activision’s “Keystone Kapers” on the Atari 2600. While in that game you took on the role of a police officer trying to stop a bank thief from making his escape on the rooftop of a building, you play the role of the thieves in Bonanza Bros., attempting to collect tresures scattered throughout the building while dodging and shooting police officers. This game is a lot of fun, especially in 2 player as you both team up to ransack the various buildings. Sure, you can try to compete for points, but if you’re going to make it through some of the later stages you’ll have to help each other out.
Once again, the games this time around were better than last time, and are pretty consistent in quality. As always, I’m going to put all of the games into the 5 categories of the awesome-awful scale. Please note that these are based solely on my opinion, and may change to a different category as more games are introduced.
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
Super Thunder Blade
Next time I’ll continue with more of 1991 with Fatal Labyrinth, Galaxy Force II, Alien Storm, Decap Attack, and Flicky.
Click here for part 4!