"A Few Words About..." A Series by JPublic

jpublic

Threadslayer
Joined
Sep 30, 2008
Likes
131
Location
Toontown, Canuckia
#1
Welcome to a little project I'm going to try to keep running as long as possible. In this, I look at a game from my collection and detail my feelings and thoughts about the game, as well as some personal history about it.

I'm arbitrarily leaving my PC games for later, because really, this is my bit, so my rules. We're going to start in 1989 with the oldest game in my current console collection.

First, let me detail a bit of the history that got me to that point. My first console I remember was a 2nd- or 3rd-gen Pong machine - I dimly recall it has some of the alternate game modes. We had Commodore PET in the house I messed around with, and eventually we got a Vic-20. We had a bunch of games for that (A.E. ruled). Sometime after we retired that thing, the early-80s game crash happened, and Atari 2600 games were super cheap so I collected them, and I still have fond memories of Solaris. Yes, I did have E.T.

After that, I got into PC gaming, and then got out - a combination of our computer dying and some youthful trouble I got into. I started to save up money for a new computer (as my Dad had decided he was a Mac guy and those sucked for games until much later), planning to get an Amiga. During a trip to visit family in the US, my family convinced me to get a Genesis instead, which had just released. This was 1989. I had a few launch titles - Altered Beast, Forgotten Worlds, Last Battle, Mystic Defender, and Ghouls 'n Ghosts. I never really bought any other games as this was the heyday of renting. A little later on, I ended up trading it for another kid's Turbographx 16 (I was a stupid, stupid, kid in my early teens). After that, I got a launch SNES, and stuck with that and my rebuilt interest in PC games until about 1995, when I picked up a Game Gear (which I gave to someone on EA or CoG some years ago) and a Genesis (for Phantasy Star IV).

I've picked up a few Genesis games since 1995, but not a lot. But one I searched for was the subject of my first post, Ghouls 'n Ghosts.
 
Last edited:

jpublic

Threadslayer
Joined
Sep 30, 2008
Likes
131
Location
Toontown, Canuckia
#2
Ghouls 'n Ghosts (Genesis)

This was a home system port of the arcade sequel to Ghosts 'n Goblins. A bit limited (they cut out a level) and with some odd translation changes (Satan became Loki and St. Michael became Valkyr). It featured the first incarnation of Arthur having Gold Armor (and the associated magic spells) and like all games in the series was hard as hell. It was also so conflated in my mind with the SNES Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts I had to load it up and play it for a while to remind me of everything.

You know, I don't think I ever finished the game honestly, even though it was one of my most played of the games I actively owned in my first Genesis run. Remember, it required you to finish the game twice - and the second time you had to get to the end with your Gold Armor on as well as having the special magic weapon, which even if you were good at the game required particular luck to pull off. I always ran out of continues the second time.

Looking back at it now, it's lost a lot of its magic for me. It's a great and fun game, but it's very much a launch title, which means it has a bunch of technical flaws owing to the newness of the platform. But as a showpiece of 16-bit gaming, it was awesome, with bright, rich colors, and graphics I had only seen the likes of on the Amiga or Atari ST.
 
Last edited:

TheKeck

FORTY POSTS PER PAGE!
Joined
Oct 1, 2008
Likes
296
Location
Bluffdale, Utah
#3
Never played it, so don't have much to add really, but interesting to hear your thoughts.

So, when you say you had to go through the game twice, is that like, to get the "true ending" or something? Seems like getting through it once should constitute "finishing" the game.
 

jpublic

Threadslayer
Joined
Sep 30, 2008
Likes
131
Location
Toontown, Canuckia
#4
It was a little ridiculous - basically, when you got through the game once, they give you the Bad Ending, and tell you that you can only fight Lucifer/Loki if you have the Gold Armor *and* the special magic weapon from the goddess (called the Psycho Cannon in this game). If you fulfill the conditions, you get the Good ending. Since the only way to unlock the Psycho Cannon is to be on your second play through, you have to play the game twice.

According to some FAQs. the restriction on the second time thought actually didn't work right in the Genesis version, so you only needed to have the Gold Armor on your second game. Never made it myself, so couldn't test.
 

Young Al Capone

Part of the problem
Joined
Oct 1, 2008
Likes
237
#5
I have never finished a game from this series but have always enjoyed them. I have always meant to go back to them. The jumping can be infuriating though...
 

jpublic

Threadslayer
Joined
Sep 30, 2008
Likes
131
Location
Toontown, Canuckia
#6
Yeah, one of the most notable (and annoying) aspects of the platforming in the series is the "fire and forget" jumping. You have no control over Arthur mid-jump, which means you'll often see the hit coming, but be able to do nothing about it.
 
Joined
Oct 1, 2008
Likes
48
Location
Phoenix, AZ
#7
Never played the Genesis version of this, only played these in arcades and the SNES version. Enjoyed them, but never came close to the end. It was kind of like the Mega Man series for me, I never actually owned them, so I only played them at a friends' house, in the arcade, or when I rented them. When I go back to play games in this vein now that I'm older, I find that I don't enjoy them as much. I get more joy from the experience than the challenge and this was one of those games for people who enjoy the challenge.
 

jpublic

Threadslayer
Joined
Sep 30, 2008
Likes
131
Location
Toontown, Canuckia
#8
This next one is of particular import to me. You see, it was this game that introduced me to JRPGs. Remember I was never a Nintendo kid until the SNES, and even when I rented a NES, it was mostly to play games like Blaster Master and Super Mario Brothers. To say that this game shaped my gaming habits for the next (almost) 30 years of my life would be apt.

Phantasy Star II (Genesis)

You can't really talk about Phantasy Star II without talking about Phantasy Star for the Sega Master System. That game was a pioneer in the console RPG world. It had overworld maps, interactive towns, large dungeons, animated sprites for enemies/characters/attacks, and most importantly, probably the first female protagonist in video games *and* one of the first instances of cut scenes.

Phantasy Star II, following in its footsteps, was known for several firsts and pioneering steps in its own right. It was the first game to use a 16 Mbit cartridge, making it the largest console game of its day. It's arguably the first JRPG to have a party where you would swap in and out a limited selection of named characters only. As opposed to most other sci-fi RPGs in the computer space, it (at first glance) appeared to be a utopia, not a distopia. It provided a template for science fiction (and science fantasy) that influenced Final Fantasy, Star Ocean, and many other games since. Its use of an epic storyline featuring strong characters dealing with serious issues was a bellwether of things to come.

Heck, YEARS before Square ever did it in Final Fantasy VII, Phantasy Star II had a main player character die.

The game is beautiful, even considering it's age (nearly 30 years!). The plot, at first being nothing more than a 'solve the weird mystery' hook, eventually turning into a fight for the survival of an entire solar system, is fantastic. You have interesting characters - look at this team: government agent, a genetically engineered 'numan', a mercenary, a doctor, a biologist), a guardian (hunter of bad mercs), a tinker/junker, and a thief. The combat, basically a regular 'set up your actions and watch them play out' turn-based system, is interesting to watch.

That's not to say it doesn't have flaws. First off, it has huge unending mazes (the dams! *shakes fist*), which were so bad the game actually shipped with a guide full of a maps. The game is exceedingly difficult, often requiring extensive grinding periods to power up your team to overcome challenges. Some plot points seem to go on forever.

But even taking those into account, there's a reason the game is on many 'best of all time' lists. It's a game every fan of RPGs should play.

It's a game I've bought and played many times over, and it's one of my great loves in gaming.
 
Last edited:

Young Al Capone

Part of the problem
Joined
Oct 1, 2008
Likes
237
#9
I have started PSII and PSIV countless times but have never actually finished them. I was absolutely amazed when I first played PSII as I was like 22 and it stunned me how many ideas and mechanics were present in that game. It is like going back and playing KOTOR after playing Mass Effect x 100, it is like all they have improved since then is quality of live stuff, as the mechanics were rock solid way back then.
 

Troggles

Nice shot!
Joined
Sep 30, 2008
Likes
0
Location
Bettendorf, IA
#10
I played just a bit of PSII and PSIV. I can usually play old games just fine, but the thought of huge dungeons and endless grinding kind of scared me away. I really loved PSO, though, and would love to see a single player JRPG in that world again.
 
Joined
May 26, 2009
Likes
8
Location
Wheeling, WV
#12
The Phantasy Star series is one I have a lot of respect for, but could never actually enjoy. The mechanics were not only solid in these games, but they really pushed for innovation in console RPGs. There is much to admire and I understand why they have such a strong following. But I just couldn't get into them. The first two are insufferably difficult, grind-heavy, and filled with maddening level design; these flaws have only worsened with age, and trying to get into these titles now is, for me at least, an exercise in frustration. I never played PSIII, and I've only played a little of PSIV. The latter seems to have learned from the previous titles' mistakes, but I remember thinking as I played it that it just seemed little compared to the likes of Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy VI. Perhaps I was being snobbish and should give it another chance. I never got into the Phantasy Star Online titles either, but that is through no fault of the series; I have a strong dislike of MMOs. However, I respected them because it was such a ridiculously ambitious undertaking at the time for a console MMO to try to compete with their PC counterparts, but PSO damned near did it, way back on the Dreamcast no less!

As for the Ghouls 'n Ghost series, my experience with it was renting it for my beloved SNES as a kid, and just utterly loathing it. Nearly destroyed my goddamned controller playing it. As an adult, however, I find I enjoy it because I am better capable of understanding just how these games are supposed to be played. Platformers were--and still are--my favorite gaming genre, but at the time my experience was limited to more traditional platformers that demanded you just madly dash your way through a level. SGnG is more like an action/puzzle platformer hybrid; you have to play the game at its pace, which is very deliberate and methodical. I still think the game enjoys a level of prestige largely underserved, likely due to nostalgia and the excellent graphics and sound design. But it is a game that I learned to really respect and enjoy on its own merits. I really wish I would have played the Maximo games on the PS2, which are spiritual successors of sorts.
 
Last edited:

jpublic

Threadslayer
Joined
Sep 30, 2008
Likes
131
Location
Toontown, Canuckia
#13
This is a little bit of a weird one. It was the only game I purchased for my Genesis before I made my stupid trade for a Turbographx.

Super Hydlide (Genesis)

Oh wow, this game. It's an action-RPG that features a lot of fairly interesting systems. First, it's basically turn-based, in that almost everything happens by the clock, so if you speed it up or slow it down, your movement, enemy actions, etc change accordingly. It has a morality system: evil monsters attack you, but good monsters don't; if you kill a good monster, your "Moral Fibre" drops; if your MF gets low/high enough, there's consequences in world, like traps or random treasures appearing. It has a day/night cycle. You have to worry about food, and sleep, and encumbrance for everything including money. There are 4 different classes at start, with a vastly different overall game for each.

The story is fairly simple at start - monsters start appearing, and a young man has been chosen to do something about it. Of course, it really goes off the rails, and ends up involving ancient civilizations, robots, and even space travel.

I enjoyed Super Hydlide, but I would be remiss if I didn't point out the game's flaws. The graphics are...poor. The gameplay is cumbersome. The sounds are not great (although the music is awesome). The translation has multiple flaws.

But it's fun. I've finished it multiple times (once for the Genesis anniversary just a couple years ago).

Do I recommend anyone search for it? Nah, but hey, there's ROMs.

I'm going to start including links for information:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Super_Hydlide
 

jpublic

Threadslayer
Joined
Sep 30, 2008
Likes
131
Location
Toontown, Canuckia
#17
This will not be a few words, sorry.

Before I talk about the next game, let's have a little history. In the days of yore (aka late 80s to early 90s), before your 3rd, 4th, or 5th editions of D&D, the game actually had two forks - AD&D (and it's 2nd Edition), and D&D. I played a LOT of D&D.

The D&D fork was split into 5 parts: Basic (Red), designed to introduce you to the system and let you adventure with characters from levels 1-4; Expert (Blue), for levels 5-8, to add a couple more mechanics now that you had experienced adventurers; Companion (Teal) gave you mechanics up to the late 20s, introduced a few prestige classes, some strategic play, elements for dealing with dominions, and more for dealing with advanced heroes; Master (Black) which gave you play for epic heroes up to level 36, and introduced the quest for Immortality, some advanced combat modifications, and more; and finally Immortal (Gold) which introduced an entire new gameplay mechanic for playing as a (sort of) god.

(To 'win' D&D with a character, you had to get to level 36, achieve Immortality, become a Level 36 Immortal, reincarnate as a mortal, go through the process to hit level 36 and achieve immortality AGAIN, become a level 36 Immortal AGAIN, and which point your character ascends to become an Old One, which are basically the actual gods of the universe.)

As part of D&D, the game had a built in game world, which became known as Mystara. It's a fairly rich and interesting setting, mostly centered around an area which featured all sorts of nations that were pretty strongly based off of real world cultures. I really liked it. I think I still have a couple of my books for it.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mystara

Some of you may recall the Capcom arcade games Dungeons & Dragons: Tower of Doom and Shadows over Mystara. They were in this game world, and used some elements of the system.

Of particular import here is the Hollow World concept. Basically, the planet of Mystara is hollow, the interior lit by a small sun, and with holes at each pole guarded by a huge ring of mountains and an anti-magic field (anti-magic is a big concept in this system). The interior of the planet is used by the Immortals as a zoo/museum for dead cultures, placed there just before their destruction. They're protected from each other by another system of mountains intended to block access, which in true RPG fashion does little to actually prevent contact.

This is the setting for the next game:

Dungeons and Dragons: Warriors of the Eternal Sun (Genesis)

For a bit of fun trivia, this game was made by Westwood. The story goes that your people are at war with a goblin army, and are losing. Just before the final attack, the ground rumbles, and the castle along with both armies are sucked into the void. Your people awaken in a valley in a new world with a strange never-setting red sun in the sky, the goblins nowhere to be seen. Surrounding this valley are strange seemingly impassible cliffs.

The player party is commanded by your leader, Duke Barrik, to figure out what the heck is going on. You build your party from the four basic D&D classes, Fighter, magic-user, thief and cleric as well as the three demi human classes, elf, dwarf, and halfling (in D&D, non-humans were a class on their own, which made for some damned odd high-level play, because they had a max level and then had combat ranks).

The non-dungeon gameplay was top-down isometric, strongly similar to Ultima VI. Outside of combat, you'd move real-time, but once combat begins it turns into a turn-based combat reminiscent of the old Gold Box games from SSI. In dungeons, however, it was a first-person view (similar to Dungeon Master), in which combat was real-time, you had to worry about somewhat different spell effects (lightning bolt is risky in dungeons), and traps/secrets abounded.

I was actually impressed with the story. As you'd play, the castle-folk would get more and more hostile to you, and you'd discover that all this was caused by the ultimate bad guy, and you'd have to summon the Immortal who brought the castle to the Hollow World to save you.

The graphics and sounds were decent for the day, although I find the music to be painful.

Ultimately, while it's a decent game, Warriors of the Eternal Sun was vastly overshadowed by other RPGs of the time. Worth playing, IMO, but not the greatest.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dungeons_&_Dragons:_Warriors_of_the_Eternal_Sun

As a final note, I should point out this is one of the only games I'm lucky enough to have a full boxed copy of. Okay condition, too.
 
Last edited:

Young Al Capone

Part of the problem
Joined
Oct 1, 2008
Likes
237
#18
Complete in box on old games like that is the best, so nostalgic. Never played this one, but DnD makes for great game settings.
 

jpublic

Threadslayer
Joined
Sep 30, 2008
Likes
131
Location
Toontown, Canuckia
#19
Another special one that may be a bit long.

Starflight (many systems)

Starflight is an incredibly important game if you're interested in gaming history at all. It, along with Elite, was considered one of the main predecessors for most modern sci-fi space games. Games like Star Control (especially Star Control II), Mass Effect, Dwarf Fortress, No Man's Sky, The Elder Scrolls series, and many other games have direct inspirations or influences from Starflight.

The basic story is that the year is around 4600, and the planet Arth has rediscovered ancient artifacts from an Old Empire that ruled the stars 1000+ years ago. Using those artifacts, they achieved space travel, now controlled by the corporation Interstel. You are in charge of an Interstel ship sent out to explore the stars, explore new worlds, etc. You're also asked to find planets for colonization, oh, and by the way, all the stars in the region have been experiencing massive flares, and in about 1 years' time Arth's will do the same, killing everyone on the planet. You may want to look into that.

In the truest sense of the word, Starflight could be considered an exploration, adventure, and mystery game, and is one of the truest representations of a 'classic' Star Trek experience you'll ever play. You explore planets, mine minerals to gain money and repair your ship, capture life forms to gain money, follow clues to solve mysteries, talk with aliens to gain information, and sometimes, have to fight them off.

In the original DOS version, the graphics were, well, primitive, what you might expect from a game released in 1986 when EGA was new fangled. A lot of systems and gameplay (especially combat) was cumbersome and difficult. The game was ported to many OSes - C64, Macintosh (System 6), Amiga, Atari ST, and Genesis. The Mac/Amiga/Atari ST versions have improved graphics and some quality of life improvements, but are still pretty faithful to the original game.

The Genesis version is quite a bit different.

Starflight (Genesis)

Released in 1991, the Genesis version of Starflight has MANY changes.

Graphics are improved greatly, in pretty much every respect and in every location. Being console-ized, combat has been made much more arcade-like, which (IMO) makes it a hell of a lot more fun, is also a lot easier because they added a lot of ludicrously overpowered weapons you can buy. Planet landing, which was an automated process in the base game, becomes a bit of skill-testing endeavor where you have to consider gravity, wind, etc. Planet exploration has been enriched with a lot of animated effects and graphics, and mining has been completely overhauled. Sound has been also revised from the bleeps and bloops of the original game, and music has been added.

From a simple cosmetic view, it's vastly improved.

However, the Genesis version has some bugs. Nothing critical, but often highly annoying - for example, in the computer versions there's a side-quest (of sorts) you can do that will eliminate an annoying hazard that's been haunting you the whole game, which doesn't work in the Genesis version.

It's still super fun, and I love it to death, but if you've never played the game I recommend you go to GoG and play the DOS version of it first. If you can find the Amiga/Atari editions, however, they're the best computer version to play.

Mobygames link showing various screenshots

Starflight Wikipedia entry

GoG Store Page.
 
Last edited:

jpublic

Threadslayer
Joined
Sep 30, 2008
Likes
131
Location
Toontown, Canuckia
#20
Phantasy Star III: Generations of Doom (Genesis)

Poor Phantasy Star III. A game defined by being the story the makers wanted to tell, and not the story the fans wanted to play. Defined by not being Phantasy Star IV. None of which is really fair, in my opinion. PS3 had a lot going for it, and I enjoyed it a lot.

PS3's plot centers (at the start) around Rhys, a prince of the Orakian people. The backstory tells us that about a 1000 years ago, Oraiko and Laya fought a huge war, the former using robots and the latter monsters, and in the final battle everyone died. The two factions have more or less ignored each other, in a state of cold war. Some time before the game starts, a girl washes up on the shore near Rhys' home, and they fall in love. On the day they're to marry, Maya is kidnapped by a Layan biomonster, which says a bunch of crap before disappearing. Rhys intends to rekindle the war, the King throws him in jail to prevent that, and the story begins.

There is a connection to PS2, but well:

In PS2 there's a cataclysm on one of the planets of the Algol system. Some of the residents foresaw it, and set up evacuation/colonization ships for the population. These ships were huge, containing multiple biospheres, and the inhabitants ended up regressing in many ways and forgetting their origin. You do find this out in PS3, if you look for it.

The key part of PS3's story centers around the 'generations' angle. During the course of Rhys's story, you get a choice of whom to marry. Said marriage results in a son who is the protagonist of the second Act, with his own choice at the end, and thus resulting in a third Act with 4 possible protagonists. More than that, there's two different plotlines for Act 2, and 4 possible for Act 3! Sometimes the allies or even party members of one story are the antagonists of the other! I don't know about you, but for me, this is deeply cool.

The game's flaws? Well, the graphical style changed, becoming more flat/cell-shaded than the anime-esque style of PS1 and 2. The combat screens were fully drawn and animated (as opposed to the 'gridroom' of PS2) but were a massive step back in terms of animation quality: the monsters' animations were basic, silly, or both; the player character's attacks had only one animation per weapon type (as opposed to a unique one for almost every weapon) and were much less detailed; the magic animations were lackluster. The game itself felt more 'clunky' while playing it. Also much of the 4 different plotlines for Act 3 were very similar, which in fairness was to be expected since they all ended with our buddy Dark Force.

I very much enjoyed PS3, though in fairness it took me forever to finish it. I never managed to complete one of the possible Act 2s since I got stuck. I should go back and address that.

Oh, before I give some links, I should mention a cute trick. At the beginning of the game, if you sell Rhys' boots, you can buy a dungeon-exit item called an Escapipe. When you're tossed in jail, you can use the Escapipe to get out of the dungeon, but you end up in the starter town with everything as it was before the wedding events, unable to leave. If you go talk to the king, he congratulates you on your problem solving, but tells you that the game is now unplayable and you must restart. Neat, that.

Wikipedia Link

Page on Phantasy-Star.net
 

Young Al Capone

Part of the problem
Joined
Oct 1, 2008
Likes
237
#21
I remembered the generations mechanic but couldn't remember what game it belonged to. Great idea. I love that these are more space opera style than most other rpgs too, really makes them stand out.
 

jpublic

Threadslayer
Joined
Sep 30, 2008
Likes
131
Location
Toontown, Canuckia
#23
I debated which game to talk about here, but since I'm playing the new series, I thought this would be apropos:

Shadowrun (Genesis)

When most people talked about Shadowrun video games before Harebrained Schemes got their hands on it, most conversation usually centered around the SNES version of the game. Don't worry, I'll get to that one eventually. The Genesis entry into the fold, coming only a year after the SNES game, was very different and in my opinion was a far more faithful translation.

Shadowrun for the Genesis offers fairly open gameplay, restricting you to a small area as you start and opening up as the game progresses. Like in the paper game, you gain Karma as your experience, and can boost your attributes and skills with it. You gain Karma by completing shadowruns (missions), combats, or plot points. Shadowruns are given to you by 'Mr. Johnsons' (for some reason they didn't like 'fixer') and are a (limited) variety of randomly generated side-missions - monster/enemy hunts, stealing an item, kidnapping, courier runs, or Matrix runs.

At game start, you choose one of three character archetypes: gator shaman, street samurai, or decker (aka easy mode). These only dictate your starting attributes (but if you want magic you have to be the shaman) and unlike the SNES version, getting cyberware does affect your magical abilities. You can also hire other runners for a job, or even permanently if you particularly like them. Since you can only control one character directly, the others are controlled by the AI, with mixed results. Most of the non-matrix combat is firearms-based - while melee and magic options do exist, overuse of magic will kill a 'runner, and melee attacks are much less useful than they become in later revisions of the system.

Graphics and sounds are actually fair, considering it's a mid-life Genesis game, if a little dull and murky. The more run-down areas look appropriately grungy and deteriorated as compared to the pristine cleanliness of the corporate areas. I'm not a huge fan of the perspective (top-down oblique or 3/4, depending on which terminology you want to use), but it does it job. The controls (ourside the Martix) are a bit cumbersome, but it's tolerable.

Where the game shines for me is the Matrix, which uses an entirely different interface. The decker navigates a node-based map of the system he's hacking. As they move from one node to another, the view switches to a third person view looking from behind the decker's avatar, a silvery figure. Upon reaching a node, the decker engages in combat with the IC (intrusion countermeasures, or 'ice'), through a sort of real-time combat. True to the paper game, different IC have different weaknesses. Some particularly insidious versions can trace the decker and dump him from the net, cause him damage (or kill him), or even temporarily/permanently delete programs. Your prize for these runs is data that you can turn around and try to sell - usually useless garbage, but often very valuable. Decking is fairly low-risk if you know what you're doing, and is a safe way to build huge amounts of cash at any point in the game.

The plot of this Shadowrun hits many points familiar with those experienced in the genre and Shadowrun in particular. Joshua (your character) gets notice that his brother Michael has been killed, and spends his last money to come to Seattle to look into his brother's death. He ends up discovering that Michael's death was a trivial element of a larger conspiracy involving ancient spirits, the Renraku corporation, and the Salish-Shidhe Amerinian/Elven land ruling council. There are a few major mysteries/plot points you have to cover - in any order - to reach the end game, but your path to getting there is pretty much up to you. There's often several ways to solve every problem.

Honestly, Shadowrun for the Genesis is my favorite video game rendition of the series. It's fun, has a decent amount of gameplay with a lot of variation, and in the end is a valuable party of my library.

Wikipedia Entry

Hardcore Gaming Entry
 

Mot Wakorb

47 Friendly Fires
Joined
Sep 30, 2008
Likes
73
Location
77 Sq. Mi surrounded by reality
#24
HEATHEN. How dare you besmirch the good name of the bastardized Shadowrun world that was Shadowrun SNES!

Sarcasm aside - I never really played this one due to the fact I was firmly in the Nintendo Camp (thanks Zenith for creating a TV that didn't have Vertical Hold, thanks Sega for requiring a TV that had Vertical Hold!) I loved the SNES Shadowrun game, so I'm relatively sure I'd like the world around this one.
 

jpublic

Threadslayer
Joined
Sep 30, 2008
Likes
131
Location
Toontown, Canuckia
#25
Who besmirched anything? Look, I love the SNES game, but a faithful rendition of the source material it was not, if for no other reason than a Shaman being as cybered up as Jake can get would make him incapable of significant magic.
 

Young Al Capone

Part of the problem
Joined
Oct 1, 2008
Likes
237
#26
Never did get a chance to check these out, but the lore, themes and setting has always been super appealing. I did try out Shadowrun Returns and found that I did not have the strategy chops to make much progress.
 

jpublic

Threadslayer
Joined
Sep 30, 2008
Likes
131
Location
Toontown, Canuckia
#27
The base Shadowrun Returns story (Dead Man's Switch) isn't bad, but it's not fantastic. Dragonfall, which comes with it but also has a separate edition was better. Hong Kong is supposed to be the best. I'm working through the series now.
 
Last edited:

jpublic

Threadslayer
Joined
Sep 30, 2008
Likes
131
Location
Toontown, Canuckia
#28
Shining Force II (Genesis)
Quick note: Never found a copy of Shining Force 1, so all I have is the ones in various Sega Collections.

I have a love-hate relationship with SRPGs, and the Shining Force series in particular. I absolutely love the aesthetics - the clearly anime world, the awesome anime cutscenes. I like the idea of characters that grow and eventually promote to a higher class. Even the idea of a small 'special force' that engages in key battles to save the world.

Honestly, I'm generally fond of turn-based strategy games in general, be they 4X (Civilization), XCOM, or anything else, as long as they have enough of a fantasy/sci-fi hook to interest me.

Unfortunately, I'm incredibly bad at them. Some of it is the same issue I have with games like Chess - I don't have the right mindset or visualization skills to see many moves in advance. There's also the fact that I'm incredibly impatient - since I'm honestly more interested in outcomes and progression, I tend to rush and get myself into trouble.

So, you'd think this would be me admitting I've never gotten far in Shining Force II because I suck at it. However, that's not really true. I got fairly far in the game, almost completed it, but as the game progressed I noticed something about the AI that's turned me off the game for years: it has an infinitely patient passive AI. The game will happily wait forever until one of your units enters an area where they can attack you, which often means to actually start fighting a group of enemies, you have to accept a hit. Drives me nuts. Honestly, it's the reason I quit Fire Emblem Heroes.

As for Shining Force II itself, I actually like the story and gameplay better than the first game. I think the team at Sega actually improved things by trying to turn up the RPG aspects.

Sorry about the lack of detail about the game/story/etc, but I haven't played it in a while. If you've ever played SF1, it's pretty much the same.

I really should try this one again.
 
Last edited:

evilgoodwin

Abomination Unto Nuggan
Joined
Oct 2, 2008
Likes
49
Location
Austin, Texas
#29
I'm so happy you mentioned Shining Force 2. I loved the Shining Series, though underrated and unknown to many.

The second game was a very ambitious follow-up to the first, even expanding to an almost open world (I say almost, because the game does give repeat battles to grind on in certain areas, but is still pretty linear). The first game would sometimes give you the illusion of wandering between towns, they'd limit them to a few maps per chapter. No real way to go back to past towns and characters. The Sega CD games took it back a step with even more linearity. The towns became a glorified menu, with no maps, mayors, layouts, etc. But the battles and music, and even a furthering of a plot from the very first game? At the time, I never knew an rpg that was a direct sequel to a previous iteration. Unfortunately, I never got a chance to try the Saturn's Shining Force 3, so that's where the games stopped for me.

And then some genius decided to make every game in the series into an Action RPG, and the Shining Force games faded away, like a legend no longer told...



Ahem. The biggest gameplay differences were that certain units could get different promotions based having certain items either on them, or just in someone's inventory. Centaur Knights could either become Paladin Knights (stronger versions of themselves) or Pegasus Knights (they can fly!), drastically changing units moves and growth. Priests could become Monks, and archers could become Cannonneers. Most of these items were hidden, making finding them and choosing to use them a choice that affected your final party. The amount of characters expanded dramatically from the first game, and there was even a boss rush added after beating the game and waiting past the credits for a time. Shining Force 2 is a solid SRPG, and in the US, at least, one of the few available on a console.

You SHOULD try this one again :)
 

jpublic

Threadslayer
Joined
Sep 30, 2008
Likes
131
Location
Toontown, Canuckia
#30
I got this game from Dav.

Star Trek: The Next Generation: Echoes of the Past (Genesis)

I don't usually expect much from tie-in games, especially ones from the 8- and 16-bit era. They're usually not very good games at best, at worst they're a coat of paint on a standard platformer engine.

I was *really* impressed with ST:TNG. The game starts with the player being in the bridge of the Enterprise, and you can pan around from station to station, to perform tasks like you would expect from the show. There's extensive use of digitized actor pictures, a competent effort to recreate the 'look and feel and hear' of the bridge, even the LCARS interface is done well. Heck, probably the most impressive thing for me (and I'm a Star Trek nerd) was the amount of lore they dumped in the in-game encyclopedia.

When you get to an away mission, you choose your crew, and then it becomes a mixed adventure combat mission. They actually require some thought, which is always nice to see in these kind of things. Even on away missions, the graphics are not bad, considering this is a 1994 Sega Genesis game trying to deal with small figures that are supposed to represent real people.

Probably my least favorite part of the game is the combat, both in space and on the ground. I found it difficult to control and far too fast-paced, so often I tended to employ run-away-and-drop-torpedoes in space, and sacrificial-lamb-takes-all-the-risk on the ground.

There is a SNES versions of the game (which I never saw) and there is some debate over which one is better. The SNES version has the benefit of having a hidden bonus mission unlocked from the start, but it places it at the start of the game, which screws up the plot and gives new players a massive difficulty spike at the start. OTOH, the Genesis version controls worse.

While I wouldn't recommend this game for anyone but hardcore fans of the show, it's a fairly notable effort.


Only two more Genesis games, and then we're on to SNES!
 
Last edited:

jpublic

Threadslayer
Joined
Sep 30, 2008
Likes
131
Location
Toontown, Canuckia
#32
Another ported game.

Buck Rogers: Countdown to Doomsday

If you've been playing computer (and console) RPGs as long as I have, you may recognize the term 'SSI Gold Box'. You see, during the late 80s and early 90s, SSI owned the rights to make and publish computer games based on the AD&D license. This lead to several game series that are considered classics of the genre: Pools of Radiance, a 4-game series based in the Forgotten Realms universe; Savage Frontier, another 2-game Forgotten Realms series that was the predecessor to Neverwinter Nights (sort of ); Dragonlance, a 3-game series based in the setting of the same name; and a Spelljammer game that only lived on AOL (much to my chagrin).

The two Buck Rogers games, Countdown to Doomsday and Matrix Cubed, are also considered Gold Box games, because they share the mechanics of the other games: a first-person grid-based exploration mode; and a strategic isometic tile-based combat screen.

They're actually really fun games, but honestly, I like the Buck Rogers ones more than the AD&D ones since they streamlined a lot of the Gold Box systems for fun rather than accuracy to a P&P system.

Only the first Buck Rogers game was ported to Genesis, and that's our subject for today.

Buck Rogers: Countdown to Doomsday (Genesis)

To begin with, I should point out that they stripped out the game a bit for the Genesis version. In the MS-DOS edition, there's an option of six races and five classes, while in the Genesis version there's only three races and four classes. More notably, they apparently pulled the 1st person exploration mode completely, and made you play entirely in the isometric view. It works, but is a bit odd, especially when you enter a room and the encounter screen switches to a 1st person still.

The story is actually kind of fun, and fits in with the sometimes humorous tone of the TV series. As in the show, you're part of the New Earth Organization (NEO) fighting against the militant Mars-based Russo-American Mercantile (RAM) as part of a resistance movement. The game starts with you as recruits, fighting off a surprise RAM attack on the base. After that, you're roped into a series of missions as you progressively figure out RAM's ultimate goal and stop it, visiting barious locations around the inner solar system along the way. And yes, you do run into Buck.

As a Gold Box game, the graphics and sounds are nothing special, mostly an accent for the strategic and adventure gameplay. The still shots used in encounters with NPCs or the environment are nice, but they're nothing spectacular.

Amusingly, this version of the game was one of the first Gold Box games I ever finished. Something about the setting, the tone, and the changes to the rules worked really well, and it captured my attention all the way to the end.

Personally, I recommend you play the DOS versions. You can't find them on GoG as there's a whole bunch of lawsuits over the ownership of the Buck Rogers IP, but it's fairly easy to find on various abandonware sites (which I won't link).

Wikipedia

Mobygames
 

jpublic

Threadslayer
Joined
Sep 30, 2008
Likes
131
Location
Toontown, Canuckia
#33
And now, time for the final game of my Genesis collection, a game which was a finale in many ways. Not only was it the last entry into a storyline, it was one of the final pure Genesis games released.

This one took a bit to get to, because it had been 20+ years since I played it, and I wanted to re-familiarize myself.

Phantasy Star IV: The End of the Millenium

To call this game a love letter to the games that came before...is surprisingly apt. The creators of PSIV made their mission to not only weave the previous three games (especially the first two) into a coherent story, not only to provide a thrilling conclusion to a multi-millenia epic for the fans, but they also wanted to do so in a way that showed they had learned from all the criticisms of the games that came before it. Phantasy Star IV is designed to make everyone who had waited since PSII to find out what was going on in the Algol System since the events of that game, who had been disappointed in the 'side-story' nature of PSIII, feel it was worth the wait.

And in my opinion, they succeeded.

While limited by the graphic capability of the Genesis, PSIV is still a beautiful game, with a style that hearkens back to the pure anime stylings of PSII while also not completely dropping the few mechanical elements of PSIII that were a step forward. The combat screens look remarkably similar in animation and style to PSII, with even better animations and graphics. The sounds are pretty much the same, and the music is okay (honestly, I think PSIII had the best music).

The story is told through the copious use of manga/anime panels, giving each character a clear narrative voice and personality. While the writing isn't particularly good (it's pretty clumsy and routine, and often a bit derogatory to women), the story is compelling enough to keep you interested to find the ultimate conclusion.

The mechanics of the games previous were expanded - human (or near-human) characters can use Techniques (aka Magic) like in the previous games (using the magic point-like TP) as well as Skills, which are limited-use special abilities. Android characters are limited to only Skills (and have other limitations). They added the ability to create combo attacks, which is a new (and while entertaining, pretty useless) element.

Most importantly, they tuned the damn systems perfectly - the grinding that PSII and PSIII were famous for is practically nonexistent, the interminable mazes from PSII are nowhere to be seen, and the plot moves in a steady, clear pace.

The influences and references within the game to those previous run rampant, with heavy callbacks and references that I could spend pages filling up. There's even stuff from PSIV that foreshadow elements in Phantasy Star Online - in one sidequest you run into Rappys, the bird creatures found in early levels of PSO. We also see the creation of the Android and Numan races that feature in that game.

To put it simply, Phantasy Star IV is one of the greatest games of the Genesis, arguably the best RPG on the system, and a classic ending to a classic series. If you've never played it, I highly recommend it.


Phantasy Star Wiki

Wikipedia



Before I move on to the SNES, I'm going to do a short post on some games I'd *like* to get, but I doubt it'll ever happen.
 
Last edited:

jpublic

Threadslayer
Joined
Sep 30, 2008
Likes
131
Location
Toontown, Canuckia
#35
And now,

Other Genesis Games of Note, Some of Which I'd Like to Get:

Shining in the Darkness - the first game in the whole Shining series, this is a classic D&D-style dungeon crawl with a heavy anime coat of paint. I really liked it and would love to get a copy, but I've not been able to find a copy in my budget.

Master of Monsters - this is a hexed-based pure strategy game, featuring fantasy units. It's pretty fun and has good battle animations. The AI is garbage, but hell, it's on Genesis, what do you expect? There's also a PS1 port, but even that's more than I'm prepared to spend.

Altered Beast - RISE FROM YOUR GRAVE. 'Nuff said.

Ecco (and sequel) - I loved the concept of these games, but never managed to get anywhere in them.

Last Battle - A repaint of a Fist of the North Star game, it's really, really, obtuse and hard. Watched a LP of it the other day and was flabbergasted by the amount I missed.

Star Control - A port of the original entry to the Toys for Bob series. Not really a great game, IMO, but the supermelee is fun.

Sword of Vermillion - One of the big titles in the Sega Does What Nintendon't campaign, I never got into it until much later, and was shocked by how awesome this game was. I've actually got a copy on order from Ebay, since it was only about $20 shipping included.

Herzog Zwei - A classic in the strategy game genre, oft compared with Millitary Madness. Neat game, but I'm lousy at it.
 
Top Bottom