Beavis and Butt-Head
I know what you want to ask: is this game cool? Or does it suck?
And that’s the premise of Beavis and Butt-Head, some weird mix of platforming and a scavenger hunt which differed between several consoles which saw the MTV characters appear under the same title.
This version, for the Sega Genesis, could be summed up as fun and brutal.
For starters, the game was rated appropriately to take advantage of the license. However, as we know from decades of licensed stinkers, the source material is somewhat lacking to make a compelling game.
Just how do you get Beavis or Butthead into a game? What is the plot? What exactly do they do?
In the day and age before tutorials and effectively giving us the breadcrumbs needed to beat games, you had to guess what to do. The game starts with some really cool cutscenes that outline the story, complete with sound bytes from the show.
Beavis and Butt-Head see a TV commercial for a GWAR concert. They buy tickets, but they end up eaten by their neighbor’s dog, and nearly retrieved before that neighbor, Anderson, chews them with his lawnmower.
You then start in the duo’s living room, and that’s where the confusion begins.
WHAT DO YOU DO?!
You eventually discover that you can run (hold A), jump (press B) or commit various actions (press C) such as picking up items or burping/farting as your primary attacks.
A pause menu allows you to cycle through various items or an occasional weapon, plus toggle between the two main characters.
You can move about in almost every direction, which can also make it difficult to know where to go. Once you discover that you can pickup the TV remote, you can leave the two-room house and start venturing out into places such as the mall, high school, or Burger World.
Without any further direction, I feel this game would take forever to figure out without the aid of guides and/or cheats. A password system allows you to continue from where you previously added another ticket, but beyond that, dying in any level returns you to the couch – with no items and none of your saved ticket pieces!
It’s about as open-ended as a game in 1994 can be too, as you can choose any level to go to, but there’s certain areas or items that can only be acquired after performing actions much like the Legend of Zelda’s famed trading sequences.
Because the main items aren’t highlighted in any important way, and you don’t have much discussion with the NPCs, this is where the game can be a clusterf*ck… not to mention losing your health as the “enemies” (such as cops or “cool girls”) can send you back to your couch empty-handed, over and over again!
Kicking the health meter to the side – ahem, via cheats – I was able to follow through the sequences for the most part, but you still have to know what to get and where to go.
Oh, and your can only hold so much in your “pockets”. That plays hell with backtracking through certain levels if you don’t have what you need to trigger certain actions. (The concept is to collect items and then drop them in your room for later retrieval.)
Near the end of the game there’s a fishing minigame of sorts that is one of the worst, buggy aspects of any game ever made. If you have fast fingers you might be able to fish the last piece of the GWAR ticket out of the window.
Beware, because if you use the wrong bait after the trigger fingers? Yeah, you’ll catch an unbeatable Earl, who kills you in one hit. (Seriously, you can’t get past him, so write down the convoluted password before you fish!)
If you’re lucky enough to make it, there’s two endings to the game at the GWAR venue, each ending with the band rocking out.
Overall, this title has charm and fits the bill for B&B fans. On the other, it’s about as frustrating as Konami’s original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and can be impassable in certain areas either due to the design of the game or simply not knowing what to do next.
For those reasons I put my thumb in the middle, because there’s no way a 90’s kid doesn’t play, what is a 30-minute start-to-finish game, for at least 100+ hours.
All because you don’t know what to do or the game has cheap enemies and kill shots.
I will preface this review by saying, if I’m in the present day and age when this game was released, and a proud owner of a Sega Genesis, I’m likely a happy camper.
However, that’s not the case judging this game many years later.
Sega jumped aboard the fighting game craze in 1993 with their own original title, releasing Eternal Champions directly to the Genesis with no arcade presence prior.
This gives the game some exclusivity but also walls it off from many of its more mainstream competitors like Mortal Kombat or Street Fighter II. The latter of those games played well in arcades and translated well to consoles, but I feel as if Eternal Champions is missing that “it” factor which truly makes games standout.
EC has some really good things going for it. It borrows the six-button layout from Street Fighter II, with weak, medium, and strong kicks and punches: however, this is also its demise, as a six-button controller is required to play it, and pulling off some of the moves (like pressing A+C or X+Y+Z simultaneously) are difficult in the heat of battle.
The way this is balanced is by using a special moves meter, which depletes depending on the severity of each move. New players will come into EC not knowing these moves, so their competition is can’t cheaply beat them by being that more experienced.
Blocks, jumps, everything else works similarly to other fighting games, so it’s a welcome portion of the game, but you’re still not likely to win many matches without mastering the characters.
And in the 2020’s I have no patience to do so for such a redundant title.
Don’t get me wrong, the available characters are diverse. They each have styles that may fit specific players, with the females moving/jumping faster than some of the larger male counterparts who plod along with heavier hitting strikes. The back stories on each of them is unique, and the plot overall is missing a “big bad” altogether, opting for different branching endings.
The stories are so front and center they can be accessed directly from the game’s main menu too.
Each character has their own stage, own moves, and yes, even a knockoff on MK’s fatalities otherwise called overkills.
Overall, the visuals are impressive for the lesser powered Genesis too. Characters are large and in charge, but unlike knowing that a game like Mortal Kombat had better visuals in the arcade, that were then pared down for consoles, what you see in EC here is what you get. Nothing more.
I feel like this game would be far better played with an arcade stick too – and yes, Sega’s little-used Activator add-on was also supported – but in the end, if you have to play with a gamepad, especially the 3-button (which used “start” to toggle the kicks/punches) then you are pretty much sunk.
For retro gamers who grew up with EC, the trip down memory lane may be better than approaching this for the first time. I feel this game is good enough for its era, but not something you’re going to want to sink a lot of time into playing when better fighters, even others developed by Sega, exist.
Okay, I’m not sure where to begin with Gunstar Heroes. It’s widely considered one of the best games of the 16-bit era and one of the best on the Sega Genesis. It’s also one of the most critically acclaimed games of all-time period.
To get to the nuts and bolts of this game, let me just say it’s Contra on crack. However, it was the first title developed by Treasure, which was a group of devs who splintered off from Konami after the latter wanted to shutter the project.
I took pieces of the Gunstar Heroes Wikipedia entry to explain best how the game plays:
Gunstar Heroes is a run and gun game played from a side-scrolling perspective similar to Contra. The game can be played in single-player, or cooperatively with a partner. The players take on the role of Gunstar Red and Gunstar Blue as they battle with an evil empire for control over a set of powerful gems.
The game features seven stages, of which the first four can be tackled in any order. The stage formats vary; while some feature a typical left-to-right format, others have the player riding in a mine cart along walls, fighting enemies on a helicopter, or playing a board game. Completing a level grants the player an extension to their maximum health.
When starting a game, the player can choose either a free or fixed firing stance; the fixed stance immobilizes the character when shooting, while the free stance has the player move in the direction they are firing.
The player also has a choice of starting weapon. There are four shot types in the game: a homing shot, lightning blaster, flamethrower, and machine gun. Each weapon has its strengths and weaknesses, and can be swapped with others from item drops in each stage. The weapons can be combined with each other to produce unique shot types. For example, the homing shot can be combined with the machine gun to add a homing effect to the latter, or two lightning shots can be combined to create a more powerful lightning gun.
In addition to firing their weapon, the player characters can pull off a series of acrobatic maneuvers including jumping, sliding, and grabbing and throwing enemies.
If that seems like a mouthful, it is!
If you were ever a Contra fan, and I have high praise for Hard Corps on the Genesis (which appeared one year after, maybe as an answer?) then you will love this game.
However, the difficulty is, well, it’s a tough game! Your character and enemies have “vitality points” which makes it easy to see how much damage is being taken or inflicted, but at the end of the day, the boss battles can drone on, lasting forever as you chip away at cheapshot artists and bait-and-switch tactics where you believe you’ve won, only to be taken for another battle!
Gunstar Heroes feels a lot like Mega Man in ways too, with a stage selection screen for the first four levels – which can be played in any order. The final three are played in sequence.
When you get beyond the onslaught of enemies and explosions, you can appreciate the attention to detail in then cutting edge graphics, with many elements moving three-dimensionally despite the game being set on a 2D plane. It never once suffers from slowdown or stutter, and the pace is a breakneck speed in line with Sega’s “blast processor” marketing.
The only thing I didn’t much care for in this title was the departure from the side-scrolling platform shooting, as seen later in the game with a spaceship shooting segment that’s more on par with Defender than it is the Contra-inspired game play.
If you’re looking for an authentic arcade-style shooter challenge, Gunstar Heroes doesn’t disappoint. Even after all of these years it’s easy to see how Treasure’s first game was a huge hit.
Out Run is a 3D driving video game in which the player controls a Ferrari Testarossa Spider from a third-person rear perspective. (From Wikipeida.)
That’s all you really need to know. The rest is icing on the cake.
Controlling the car onscreen, with a male driver and female passenger, you race in excess of 200mph speeds (with high and low gear shifts) while avoiding other cars and various obstacles in order to beat a timer and get to the goal.
The world map is split into “stages” and each has the timed checkpoint. After clearing a checkpoint, and near the end of each stage, the road forks left or right, giving you a new stage and style of scenery.
For as simple as this game is, the premise offers tons of replay as each stage is placed in a cliché locale (such as a desert) and it takes practice to master drifting through curves and accelerating just enough to beat the timer.
Each fork means a different path to one of five goals – also with their own style and ending. The variety makes you want to replay the game to the point of breaking controllers, but in a totally good way.
Of course, this version of Out Run is based on the arcade version, and while the Sega Master System and Sega Game Gear both had ports for the 1986 release, they were 8-bit consoles and no match for the Sega Genesis’ power.
The graphics and legendary soundtrack are timeless. And the controls are mostly tight – with the difficulty settings forgiving too. The 3-button layout on the Genesis is also perfect for braking, accelerating and/or changing gears using A, B, and C. (You can still crash, burn, and wreck, which is pretty damn awesome to see in the game – though the drivers are left unscathed from the wreckage!)
Starting the game shows you the wealth of variety in the game, as the title screen will swap to show some of the different locations you could drive through. An options menu is next and then onto the (then) revolutionary radio station swap, which allows you to choose which soundtrack will play during your… commute.
In the arcades, Out Run became Sega’s best-selling cabinet until the Virtua Fighter series released in the mid-90’s. The Genesis version is largely considered the best home version and thus, the one I went with. For anyone with a bit of racing nostalgia in their bones, this game aged very well.
You’ll still have some instances where you can’t make out what’s on the road ahead, forgivable due to the era, but the sense of speed, no stutter and responsive controls to master make this a classic that should be on any retro gamer’s list.
RoboCop Versus The Terminator
Dual console releases became more common as the 90’s war between Sega and Nintendo forged on. Publishers were caught between exclusivity licenses with Nintendo or breaking the mold to work with Sega – or eventually both, when Nintendo’s practices came into legal question.
As such, you’d often find titles, such as the yearly editions of EA Sports’ John Madden Football or Midway’s Mortal Kombat on each platform. Other times you’d find a similar or identically named game sharing no resemblance to its counterpart on the competitor’s console.
Thus is the story of RoboCop Versus The Terminator. Each of the games released was completely independent of one another. In fact, the Sega Genesis version (reviewed here) released a full six months later than its cousin on the Super Nintendo. (Which I plan to review later.)
The plot of the Genesis title, per Wikipedia, is as follows:
Set a few years after RoboCop’s invention, the story involves SAC-NORAD contracting Cyberdyne Systems on building Skynet. Cyberdyne used RoboCop’s technology in creating Skynet. When activated, Skynet becomes self-aware and launches a war against mankind. In the future, Skynet sends several Terminators back to the past to cripple the Resistance. After destroying one of the Terminators, RoboCop proceeds to Delta City, where he confronts RoboCain.
After RoboCain was destroyed, RoboCop battles his way to the OCP building, where he defeats all the Terminators. After defeating an ED-209 unit reprogrammed by the Terminators, RoboCop plugs himself into a console. Unbeknownst to him, RoboCop gave Skynet information it can use. This ends up with RoboCop falling into a trap. In the future, RoboCop assembles himself, where he battled in the Terminator-infested future and destroyed Skynet.
Armed with this knowledge you may start to roll your eyes at the crossover of movie characters and think “this is going to suck”. However, this is one of the best Genesis titles – ever.
The game takes a lot of inspiration – and stated as such from their developers – from Contra.
RVT is at its heart a shoot’em up style platformer, with RoboCop as the protagonist who slowly plods around each level. RoboCop can shoot straight ahead, above, beneath and at 45-degree angles (think Metroid) which makes the pace of the game fun when you add in the Contra-style ability to upgrade weapons – carrying two at a time.
The weapons are mostly of the same flavors too, including the standard RoboCop semi-auto pistol, which he’ll twirl like the movie if you stand still at times. Oddly, there’s a few other nods in this game that eerily remind me of Sonic The Hedgehog also, including the industrial style levels and using poles to climb on… but back to the guns.
Other firearms include a grenade launcher, homing missiles, a spread gun, and even a futuristic laser weapon. One more goodie is in the game, but I don’t want to spoil it for those who may play it – let’s just say it’s a gamebreaker in terms of ingenuity!
The game adds some variety to just walking and jumping. As mentioned, you can scale horizontal poles and also climb ladders. There are different paths throughout, but the “wimpy” mode I played on (one of three difficulty settings) was on point with showing me the proper path.
While RoboCop can barely jump, the developers didn’t cheap out and make this a Double Dragon style cheap death tactic, and seldom do you find a difficult jump as the cause of your death.
The game also packs in the almost obligatory Sega “violence mode”, accessed with a homescreen button press sequence. Honestly, this is the ONLY way to play, as the movie-to-game translation benefits from bursting bodies and blood splatters, much like the unrated RoboCop.
There are plenty of nods to both franchises when it comes to fan service, and most of the bosses, plus the pacing of what little story is between the homescreen and end credits, makes the game feel at home with fans of either movie.
The music thumps, and can be repetitive, but a few choice soundbytes (and some one-liners) are icing on the cake for a game well done – that still feels fresh even to this day.
Streets of Rage 2
As far as side-scrolling beat’em up games go, Streets of Rage 2 might be one of the best.
I’ve always held a high regard for the genre, specifically Konami’s line which took a formula based on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and replicated it successfully to other brands such as the Simpsons and Marvel.
Sega’s flagship series features no such branding, but closely mirrors the edgier marketing of the Genesis at the time – as well as the pop culture trends too. In the early 90’s, action movies were all the rage, as Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone cranked out box office blockbusters such as Terminator 2, Demolition Man, True Lies and many more.
With action, explosions, and the occasional ninjas all the rage, it’s hard not to see the inspiration for the sequel to the successful Streets of Rage. This title adds on more playable characters to start, and retains much of what made the first game so good.
Namely, the soundtrack to this game thumps.
The Genesis lacked the same audio processing as the Super Nintendo, but you’d never know it playing this game. Sega’s console also lacked a more diverse color pallet as its competitor, but that aside, Streets of Rage 2’s audiovisuals are quite possible the best of any Genesis game. Ever.
The stages take notes from other games in the genre, with a nod or two to TMNT perhaps, albeit coincidental.
The isometric elevator level? Sure. The pirate ship level? Maybe… Streets came out only a few months after Turtles in Time. Other stages draw inspiration from fighting in back alleys, a baseball stadium, and an arcade (which features the Japanese port’s namesake of Bare Knuckle on the machines as an Easter Egg.) There’s even a stage which is very Contra-like that feels as if it was ripped from the movie Alien as well.
None of this stuff takes anything away from the game, as it only enhances the culture surrounding it. SOR2 also puts some SNES-style movement throughout each level, visually surprising the heck out of me with background and foreground movement, and a solid number of enemies on each screen. Some of those opponents include enemies on motorcycles or others who throw bombs from the background.
The action never stutters, at least not in my single player implementation.
The HUD is a nice touch as well, showing the names of recurring bosses with a health bar indicator too. Gone are the days of figuring out just how many times you need to punch/kick a boss to beat it!
But punching and kicking aren’t the exclusive moves to SOR2. No sir, we have your usual jumping karate kicks but in addition, grappling knee strikes, suplexes, and special moves (which replaced calling in backup police with a rocket launcher) give the game some diversity and makes it seem as though you’re truly kicking ass!
Knives, pipes, and a samurai sword are among the weapons you can pick-up. You can also find money, apples and a fully cooked turkey on a plate by breaking barrels or other in-stage items: yes, young ones, that was a given in this era of games too and didn’t feel out of place as it might some nearly 30 years later!
Regardless, the controls for this game are incredibly tight whereas other brawlers may see you miss punches and take unnecessary strikes, SOR2 seems to “hit” on all cylinders.
While the level of difficulty ratchets up depending on the level you’re on, or the options screen where you can set it, the game is a blast to mash buttons through and still feels fresh for replayability. If you’re a fan of any sort of games such as those mentioned, or Capcom’s Final Fight, I would highly recommend Streets of Rage 2 finds a way into your retro gaming backlog… and please do move it to the top of the list!
NFL Sports Talk Football ’93
Once upon a time sports games were mundane. When the 16-bit era arrived, that all changed.
Sega led the charge against their rivals at Nintendo by investing heavily in sports games and famous celebrities and licenses. From Buster Douglas Boxing counteracting Mike Tyson’s Punchout to co-developing video games for Disney, Sega was all-in on making sure their Genesis console competed with the Super Nintendo.
One of the celebrities Sega had signed was then four-time Super Bowl champion quarterback Joe Montana. In what could be construed as an odd twist in a storyline, the original Joe Montana Football game was developed by Electronic Arts: who also developed their John Madden Football series for the Genesis after reverse engineering the console and holding Sega ransom over cartridge licensing fees.
Both companies saw their sports lines as a seasonal opportunity to sell an upgraded game. The more realistic Madden went its separate ways from the arcade-style Montana following the first rendition of those titles.
Joe Montana II would be labeled “Joe Montana II: Sports Talk Football”, but much like Madden and other sports games of the time, it still lacked an NFL license for the real teams or players. It wasn’t until the third entry in the series, NFL Sports Talk Football ’93, that the perfect storm would brew for Sega.
Montana would still be the headliner for this game as his career started to wind down. This game would also feature all 28 NFL teams as well as the players. You can also choose the type of field (natural, artificial or dome) and weather (including rain and snow).
The variety helped Sports Talk keep pace with Madden, but it was the revolutionary “sports talk” feature that would return for the 1993 edition of the game and take center stage once again. Featuring (from what I found) over 500 phrases, hearing commentary in a video game was still a wildly new concept back in 1992. While they are fairly generic (only Montana’s name is spoken among the players) hearing that the “Rams are in the 3-4 defense” or the “49ers are in the pro set” was trailblazing for its time.
Some of the other phrases focused on down, score, time and the weather. If you attempt to go for it on fourth and long? The announcer would belt out “I can’t believe it!”.
The play calling is a bit tedious, but has most of the formation options found in its competitors of the time.
The game play somewhat resembles Tecmo Bowl in this aspect, down to the horizontal view of the field – which can be changed to Madden’s vertical style (with the camera positioned behind the offense or defense) or a ridiculous “blimp view” which even makes my review of Madden ’95 for Game Boy look advanced by comparison!
The game itself seems fairly deep if not a bit more complicated to play than Madden. Rather than passing windows, hiking the ball with the QB asks players to cycle through receivers with B before passing to them with A – which could get you sacked or force an interception if you’re too clumsy.
Running the football? A chore!
The pacing of the game seems a bit off, as you wait… and wait… for the teams to line up. Once the play is run to the focused player, be it a running back carrying the ball or a receiver catching, the screen zooms in for a fairly detailed camera view.
I’m sure with more time the game can really get addicting and become yet another football title to master. The sports talk feature firmly supplanted Sega and its Sega Sports line as a force to be reckoned with in the 16-bit console wars. This is definitely a title that anyone with a retro football itch should check out especially when comparing it to other games of its era.
John Madden Football ’93
I wish I could cover every single version of John Madden Football that exists, but that would fill this website with a lot of repeat information. Instead, I decided to jump around to different versions of Madden, mainly those that are anomalies or the ones I was accustomed to playing growing up.
My first taste of video game football came at my neighbors when I tried John Madden Football ’93. Released in 1992, my favorite team (the Pittsburgh Steelers) were hardly that great (yet). My neighbor loved playing with the Chicago Bears – however, this edition of Madden would be the last to NOT feature the NFL license.
At that time, you’d have to use your own imagination and/or knowledge to know who was who in the game. One of the coolest aspects of that, was pitting a worthy ’78 Steelers squad against my neighbor’s ’85 Bears: both dominant teams of their era pitted in a fantasy matchup.
Thus, was the appeal of Madden early on. While you didn’t have the “Steelers” and “Bears” you still knew who quarterback number 12 was on “Pittsburgh” and running back number 34 was on “Chicago”. Each team still wore its faithful colors and players were statistically based on their real-life counterparts as well – and its not as if licensing were all that common outside of a big-name endorsee, such as John Madden or Sega’s own Joe Montana Football, at the time.
In other words, it was still revolutionary – kids these days just won’t understand what it was like to get a “real football simulation” with 11 vs. 11 players!
The game itself was praised and panned depending on who you read reviews from: it was largely unchanged from the 1992 iteration, with some stating Madden would be a doomed franchise with its yearly roster updates. (Clearly that wasn’t the case!)
Yet, Madden ’93 still worked well.
It carried over conventions from the computer and early console versions – such as showing a view behind the quarterback (other games showed a TV-style sideline view). While Madden ’90 and ’92 preceded ’93 on the Genesis, this version runs better without the framerate stutter and has sped-up gameplay.
The famous ambulance coming on the field was first introduced in ’92, while field conditions and audibles were brought into the series’ first console versions in ’90. Instant replay, two-player co-op, QB injuries and other game modes were all brought in a year earlier as well.
So, what makes ’93 stand out other than it being my first Madden memory?
Well, many forget that Madden originated on computers and not console gaming systems. EA had wanted to present a game that was 6v6 or 7v7, but Madden balked and would not lend his name to the title.
Eventually all was for naught, but Madden was developed by a bunch of different development teams, with some being fired in the early years. Park Place Productions had worked on the previous Madden ’92 but Blue Sky Productions took over and created ’93 from scratch. Like ’92, all of the NFL’s 28 teams were included (and unlike ’90, which only featured 16 of the 28). ’92 had one All-Madden team, but ’93 added historical teams as well as an All-Madden Greats roster.
Madden’s digitized quips, such as “he’ll remember that number” were also a first in ’93.
Quite honestly, just about everything that’s in ’93 is now taken for granted. The refreshed visuals showed referees on the field, spotting the ball and calling penalties: and sidelines also had zebras holding the down markers!
Heck, even getting drive statistics after scoring a touchdown (complete with celebrations and spiked footballs no less) was a new experience in sports games way back when.
But there’s still a long way to go from here. There are no real NFL teams or players, no fans in the stands, stats on the pause screen, manual substitutions (other than QBs), unique stadiums or even a regular season mode. (Playoff stats could be tracked to a battery-backup on the Genesis cartridge, however.)
Yet, ’93 will have some fond memories for me with the co-op play next door: but make no mistake, as I go down my Madden memories list, there are some really great games with awesome editions going forward. However, ’93 was definitely the launching point for the series, in my opinion, from which all other Madden titles are built upon.
Sonic the Hedgehog 2
When Sega introduced Sonic The Hedgehog it knew they finally had their “Mario Killer” for the Genesis console.
But how do you follow up a great game with an equally great sequel? It doesn’t always happen, but Team Sonic was able to capture lightning in a bottle and improve the Sonic formula further.
This platformer continues the speed run inspiration of the first game, actually ratcheting up the animation to be even faster. It’s most famously known for introducing Sonic’s companion, Tails, to the genre – who can be controlled by a second player, and also offers help/hints when Sonic gets stuck.
The graphics of this game are better than its predecessor, as anticipated, along with another catchy soundtrack.
The “spin dash” is also introduced in this game, where holding down on the D-pad along with another button, curls our favorite blue character into a spinning ball which helps accelerate him into objects or jumpstarts his running about the stage.
As a noted Mario fanatic, coming over to Sonic was a bit of a culture shock in ways. Stages aren’t always linear, as Sonic can often complete a level by going up or down through it, and sometimes requiring a backtrack in from right to left, much unlike the very structured left-to-right, mostly single paths of his Nintendo competition.
Once you have this figured out, it’s memorizing threats in a stage which comes next, such as jumping into spikes or lava, or getting trapped in water where you once again perish if you don’t come up for air after so long (which happens to be my biggest pet peeve in the entire series, because this Hedgehog just doesn’t jump or swim very well!)
Other elements, such as capturing rings, remains. So long as Sonic has 1 ring on him, and takes damage, he doesn’t technically die (unless you fall into an instant death situation of being pinched between objects, such as a ceiling, fall into the abyss or, of course, drown).
Regardless, these shortcomings were nothing such back in the 90’s when video games still presented some impossible challenges. Sonic had a heavy replay value and mastering it took some quick reflexes. It’s no wonder the sequel is one of the best-selling Genesis games of all time.
If you haven’t played it, or haven’t in a while, Sonic 2 is perhaps one of the best ways to enjoy retro gaming.
Streets of Rage
From the moment the menu screen starts, you realize Streets of Rage isn’t your typical beat-em-up.
Modeled after games such as Double Dragon, Final Fight, and Komami’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (and its many arcade clones) Streets of Rage is Sega’s take on the genre which has a unique albeit cliche feel from the early 90’s.
The story centers around some type of criminal enterprise overtaking a city, and a group of souped-up cops fighting to take it back.
Honestly, aside from the video game inspirations noted above, scenes and levels throughout the game will remind you of movies such as Big Trouble In Little China and Scarface. Yet, the game feels fresh and not like a complete rip-off.
That’s due to tight controls – as with the others in the genre noted, you can move in all directions, clearing each level of many palette-swap enemies which fill the screen from both sides (and often of of it).
Weapons are dropped, and can be picked up, by your protagonist. Your attacks vary between Sega’s three buttons: a strike, jump, and special attack. The strike can be a kick, punch, knee or any combination of such with a jump. The occasional judo throw or wrestling suplex also enters the fray.
It’s also refreshing to see your character able to attack on both sides without needing to face their target necessarily.
While limited in number, a special attack will cut to a cop car pulling up with a bazooka – the rocket of which pretty much disposes of everything on the screen.
Bosses are a mixed lot. There’s a larger skinny punk with a mohawk and claws, a fat guy who breathes fire, and a pair of what I assume are ninja ladies who are a major PITA to hit (as they constantly move by jumping forward/backward).
Levels are referred to as “rounds”, eight in all, with a boss at the end of all but Round 7; and with good reason. When you reach the big bad at the end of Round 8 he sees “potential” in you and gives you a choice of joining his “syndicate” or fighting. If you choose to join, a trap door opens and sends you back to Round 7 to start all over!
If you do battle, you’re basically up against Tony Montana with a few extra henchmen lurking.
The controls are overall crisp, the graphics (even by Sega standards) are arcade quality, and the soundtrack absolutely thumps with riffs ripe from the era it was developed.
As far as beat-em-ups go, this game is a great one to pick up, and easy to get started with at that. But the usual difficulty additions are there, including harder enemies to defeat as the game goes on and an annoying timer you have to beat too.
Yeah, this might be the worst timer added to a game since Ninja Gaiden!
Regardless, if you’ve never played Streets of Rage and are a fan of games in this genre, you’re doing yourself a disservice. Pick it up and check it out NOW!