Favorite Sega Genesis Games

It was 30 years ago today, Sega released their 16-bit follow up to the Sega Master System – the Sega Genesis(or Mega Drive outside North America). For this occasion, I have made a list of my 11 favorite Genesis games. Sega’s foray into the video game home console market began with the SG-1000 which was released in 1983 in Japan oddly enough, the very same day Nintendo released the Family Computer, or Famicom. The follow up – Sega Master System was the first Sega console to be released in North America in 1986(Japan in 1985). By the late 80’s the home console market has prospered greatly and Sega was in the midst of the of a console arms race. The Sega Genesis was released on August 14, 1989 in limited areas, with the rest of North America by the end of the year. The Genesis was by far Sega’s most successful console with over 30 million units sold.

I remember our family getting a Sega Genesis for Christmas of 1993. It was the Gen. 2 model that came with Sonic the Hedgehog 2 packed in, “Santa Claus” had brought us a copy of the Aladdin game too. I remember sitting in my sister’s room playing Sonic 2 and Aladdin the rest of Christmas break from school and spending countless hours over the next several years buying and renting games. I wrote down a list of my 10 favorite Genesis games, only to discover I can’t count….so…these are my 11 favorite games.

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 – Sega’s mascot debuted on the Master System, but Sonic 2 launched the blue hedgehog to a level of popularity that only Mario had seemed capable of reaching. Sonic’s spin dash was added as well as new sidekick Tails, which added some co-op elements to the game. With memorable levels and an iconic soundtrack, Sonic 2 is the quintessential Sega Genesis game.

Aladdin – There were many great Disney games during the 80’s and 90’s, and Aladdin is certainly one of them. An argument has always been which version of the game was better, Genesis or SNES? I prefer the former as my favorite version. The graphics, while nothing spectacular now, were quite impressive for its time. The level that always gave me the most problems as a kid was escaping the Cave of Wonders on the magic carpet, that and sitting on the edge of the screen throwing apples at Snake Jafar so I could finally beat the game.

Gunstar Heroes – I wrote about Treasure’s Gunstar Heroes a while back, saying that I always felt the game was a bit under appreciated compared to the likes of Contra or Metal Slug games. I got the game as a birthday present not knowing anything about it, but quickly became enamored what a great run and gun co-op experience it provided. Gunstar Heroes has aged remarkably well, and being included in the upcoming Mini Sega Genesis being released this September.

Street Fighter 2: Special Champion Edition – While SCE may not be considered the best version of Street Fighter 2 that Capcom released(there were MANY), it is the one that got me hooked on playing Street Fighter games. In general, fighting games on the Genesis are viewed as inferior, mostly due to the standard controller only have 3 main buttons versus the 4 face and 2 shoulder buttons of the SNES controller. I had one of the Genesis 6-button controllers so that criticism wasn’t applicable to me. I remember picking out Street Fighter 2: SCE at a Kay-Bee Toys; having previously rented the game from a local convenience store after thinking the turquoise/black cover with Guile and M. Bison fighting looked awesome.

NBA Jam – An arcade staple that most of us growing up in the 90’s will remember, Acclaim’s NBA Jam popularized arcade sports in the 90’s with its fast-paced gameplay and over-the-top dunks and announcer commentary – “BOOM-shakalaka!” “Is it the shoes?!?”. You could even play as team mascots and then-President of the USA , Bill Clinton. This was the kind of game that would gather friends around the family living room to play for hours.

The Lion King – Another Disney/Virgin Interactive game, The Lion King boasted impressive graphics and sound for 16-bit consoles, but has since become better known for being quite difficult, with a huge difficulty spike and erratic(at best) hit-detection. I played the game recently, and don’t remember for the life of me how I was able to beat this game. I remember being able to finish the game in about 30 minutes as a kid, what happened? Regardless of the game’s shortcomings, it still holds a place on my favorites list from playing this as a kid.

Vectorman – One of the first games that spring to mind when I think of my favorite Genesis games; Vectorman is an excellent action-platformer released near the end of the Genesis’ life cycle. The year is 2043 and Earth is has been rendered uninhabitable, humanity has migrated to colonies in Space(as if written by Jeff Bezos…) and left behind robots to clean up the mess. The story may bit a bit generic, but the tight gameplay and interesting levels more than made up for that. There was even a contest where you had to play through to the end of the game to find out if you won $25,000…which I didn’t <sigh>, but Vectorman is still one of my favorites.

Quackshot – I don’t exactly remember how I was first introduced to this game, but I’m glad I got to play the game. Quackshot is a Disney adventure game with Donald Duck embarking across the globe with Huey, Dewey, and Louie to find the Great Duck Treasure before Pete and his goons can get to it. An interesting element of the game was your weapons – a gun that shoots, popcorn, bubblegum, and plungers; being a Disney game after all… Quackshot in hindsight may seem pretty much “Indiana Jones meets Donald Duck”, but it remains as a really fun adventure title on the Genesis that not many people seem to remember.

Streets of Rage 2 – The Streets of Rage games are some of the most beloved games on the Sega Genesis, with Streets of Rage 2 usually being the favorite. Fighting your way through the streets and alleys as Axel or Blaze provided some of the best memories on the console, even if I still hate the elevator levels that seemed to be in every beat ’em up game back then. SNES may have had the Final Fight series, but I always preferred Streets of Rage.

Contra: Hard Corps – The Contra series is most closely associated with Nintendo consoles, along with the Konami Code – Up, UP, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A, Start. Contra 3: Alien Wars may be the more popular game, but my favorite has always been Hard Corps on the Genesis. I don’t believe I was ever able to beat this game as a kid, only reaching the final bosses a couple times. Contra: Hard Corps has the weird characters, huge bosses, and tons of blowin’ shit up…everything you’d expect from a Contra game 🙂

Earthworm Jim – While not an exclusive, Earthworm Jim still may be my favorite Sega Genesis game as a kid. You play as Jim, an earthworm being hunted down by a psychotic crow named…Psycrow, as he is trying to save Princess What’s-her-name from the Evil Queen Slug-for-a-Butt. I loved the goofy tone and humor of this as a kid, which probably influenced my own sense of humor…for better or worse 😉 One of my favorite moments of the game is the second level – What the Heck?! in which you make your way through the fiery realm of Heck before fighting Evil the Cat. The level soundtrack begins with a snippet of composer Modest Mussorgsky’s – Night on Bald Mountain, which establishes an ominous mood, before cutting away to elevator music(muzak?) complete with pained screams in the background; the elevator music still playing as you’re being attacked by lawyers who shoot papers from their briefcase. If the game sounds weird, that’s because it is…and that’s what I love about it!

The Sega Genesis was also home to some great RPGs such the Phantasy Star games, or Shining Force; the genres of games listed stick mostly to action/adventure games as I was still learning to expand my “gaming palette”. Have you played any of the games mentioned above? What are some of your favorite Genesis games? Let me know in the comments. Until next time…

Weekend Gaming Review – Small Retro Game Haul

Due to being out of town for most of the weekend, today’s post will be a summary of whatever games I was able to play over the weekend and any general video games related thoughts I had the urge to discuss. I also have included a few photos of some older games I happened to pick up over the weekend as a pat on the back for actually leaving my apartment 🙂

The past week…or few weeks, rather, I have spent the largest majority of my time spent playing games was my continuous march towards completing Breath of The Wild a second time WHILE finishing every shrine and collecting every Korok seed. I first decided rather impulsively to begin BOTW a second time and thought to myself, “what the hell…I’ll see if I can get EVERY Korok seed and shrine along the way”. To my surprise, I have been able to keep grinding away and am currently sitting at 64 of 120 shrines completed and 431 out of 900 Korok Seeds, and it’s only taken me about…um, let’s see here…50+ hours so far…I have been keeping some notes and screenshots while playing as I intend to go through and write up some of my thoughts and observations from playing through the game. I can already say that I have an even deeper appreciation for the game than after my first time through…just have 3 Divine Beasts, 56 shrines, and 469 Korok seeds left…not bad 😉

I did actually play a couple other games over the past week other than Breath of the Wild; I spent a few hours over Thursday and Friday night participating in the final Splatfest as part of Team Order against the Team Chaos’ agents of mayhem (You’ve doomed Inkopolis, you monsters!). Splatoon 2 is a great game and it’s a bit of a shame the online play can be a bit obtuse at times…like most other Nintendo online multiplayer games, sadly.

I also played a little bit more of The Witcher 3, which sounds like insanity, or I just have too much time on my hands that I would even think of juggling both Breath of the Wild and The Witcher 3 at the same time, but had the urge to go back in and play some more after I had spent the afternoon on Twitter reading about the upcoming Netflix series as well as seeing more pics of Henry Cavill as Geralt. Oddly enough, I had just mentioned in the comments below Hannie at The Hannie Corner’s post – Fifteen Games I’d Like To Beat Before 2019 Is Over that I am doubtful that I could finish both The Witcher 3 AND Persona 5 before 2019 is over. Funny how all it takes is to read about a related tv show or merely mention a game that creates the urge to play it (NOT easily swayed by outside influence at all, huh?).

My video game haul from over the weekend

This past Saturday I made a trip to my local used game store in town and picked up a few games I had been wanting to play. I bought a very nice copy of The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages, a game I have been wanting to play for quite some time, even more so since I finished up Link’s Awakening on my Game Boy Color a few months ago. I haven’t seen a copy of Oracle of Seasons in a while, but I would like to get a copy of that so I can play through both of them. While there I grabbed a copy of The Force Awakens that was in pretty nice condition; I never completed the entire game after it was first released and intend to correct that in the near future. The store was also having a “buy two used games, get one free” sale over the weekend, so as my freebie I took a disc-only copy of X-Men Legends for my Gamecube. Legends being another game that I played a fair amount of on my Gamecube with my younger brother after its release, but never finished. My wife and I tried it out for a while earlier today and it plays just fine, those old hack & slash type games are still fun to play after all these years, even with the fuzzy 480p GC graphics. It occurred to me after buying the games that I had taken the “poor man’s approach” to newer games, with X-Men Legends being a predecessor to the newly released Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order and a good deal of the gameplay elements from The Force Unleashed will be used(from what I’ve seen so far, at least) in Respawn’s upcoming Jedi: Fallen Order that comes out in November.

A nice copy of Oracle of Ages

During my trip out of town, I happened to stop at a couple garage sales and someone was trying to sell a DS Lite that their kids had played on but no longer use. It seemed to be in decent enough shape, and the owner offered $15 for the DS Lite, case, and a couple games included – Mario + Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games and a cartridge-only Donkey Kong game of some sort (the label on the card was scratched off and simply had “Donkey Kong” written on it). I had been wanting to buy a DS Lite, mostly as a cheaper, backlit means of playing Game Boy Advance games since I no longer have my old original “fat” DS. I gave the man $15 for the DS and everything with it and only upon inspecting and testing out the handheld I found out that the “Donkey Kong” game was actually the DS port of Diddy Kong Racing from the N64, pretty sweet :D. The DS itself is in pretty good shape as a result of the Cars protective case covering most of it; there is a bit of a scratch on the upper screen, but I believe I can buff that out when I go through and thoroughly clean it. I have seen people making and selling “replacement labels” for game cartridges online, so I can see about getting one of those so it’s not simply a piece of tape of the card. I don’t do a ton of retro game collecting anymore as I plain don’t have room for boxes and boxes full of old games…<sigh>…but it’s still fun to go and see what kind of treasure you can find. A few years ago, I stopped by someone selling a few assorted N64 games at a garage sale and notice there was Conker’s Bad Fur Day in great shape so I asked the guy standing there how much and he tells me “the games are $5 a piece”, obviously either not knowing or caring this particular game re-sells for $75+ online and at used game stores, probably my greatest find at a garage sale.

I was pleasantly surprised to find “Donkey Kong” was actually Diddy Kong Racing for the DS. You can see the scratch on the upper screen, but I think I can clean that up a bit.

That’s about it for this week, do you collect many physical copies of games, retro or not? What’s your best “haul” at a garage sale or used game store? Let me know in the comments. I’m off to try and collect a few more Korok seeds and make my way through the Gerudo and Wasteland regions of Breath of the Wild.

Keep on playing…

Coffee Crisis – A balanced roast of retro gaming

I thought it would be interesting this weekend to pick up a random indie game on my Switch without knowing really anything about it and write my thoughts about it. In looking through the Switch Online Store, which I believe could use a bit more organization as it seems daunting to look through page after page of titles without there being much for filter options…but I digress. I found the game Coffee Crisis which was developed by Mega Cat Studios and published by Qubic Games. The game appeared to be a bit of a retro throwback to all the 16-bit side scrolling beat-em-up games that I played as a kid on the Sega Genesis or Super Nintendo. It also happens to involve metal music, retro games, and as the title would suggest….coffee.

I have fond memories of playing beat-em-ups like the Streets of Rage, Final Fight, and Golden Axe games; everything about this game fits right in with these games. I enjoyed the aspect of playing a game so reminiscent of the previously mentioned early-90’s titles. Mega Cat Studios I discovered, even produced an authentic Homebrew version of the game on cartridge with case and manual to play on Sega Mega Drive/Genesis that you can purchase on their website.

The story is set on Smurglians – a race of aliens who’s entire planet runs on the energy generated from coffee, metal music and WiFi( that’s right!) and have set their sights on planet Earth’s most precious resources. You play as either Nick or Ashley, two metalhead baristas at the Black Forge Coffee House who are not going to sit idly by and let this travesty occur as you fight your way through the streets of downtown Pittsburgh.

Walloping the elderly to save the metal…

The gameplay is pretty standard as far as beat-em-ups go; you progress through multiple levels with the occasional mini-boss appearing every several levels until finally making your way to the boss at the end of the game, which I was mildly disappointed in the abrupt not-quite-an-ending of the game, it more or less just….stops. The length of the game overall I was satisfied with, being roughly the same length as others of the genre. My criticisms of the game are pretty mild, as I any drawbacks to the game are the same that you would hear of games like Streets of Rage. For better or worse, Coffee Crisis is authentic to a fault with negative attributes that are commonplace in games like it. You screen position is difficult to keep track of when multiple enemies attack and you get “Caught In A Mosh”( couldn’t resist!). There is also the annoying abundance of enemies who can shoot projectiles at you or simply have “weapons” such as a lasso or a cane…yes, among the enemies you fight off are humans that have been taken control of by the Smurglians. These can be range from random looking “dude bros”, to western looking…uh…cowgirls, to I guess….the elderly? You fight your way through the streets of Pittsburgh drinking coffee, listening to metal, and pummeling old men and women that attack you with canes and walkers. There is also an array of Smurglians to fight from purple aliens sporting mohawks to tuxedo-clad aliens in wheelchairs who can shoot “mental projectiles” at you ( Professor X as a Smurglian). The game in premise alone is not any danger of taking itself seriously, I ALMOST felt like I shouldn’t have been enjoyed this developing chaos as much as I did. My other critique is also all too common in games such as this where, you have a powerful special move at your disposal HOWERVER, using it costs you a small portion of your health. The game is not an easy game, as it was clearly intended to be played in “couch co-op” with another player alongside you.

I still feel these negatives don’t overly hinder any enjoyment to be had playing Coffee Crisis, I had a blast playing this game. The soundtrack to the game is excellent as well, with tracks being provided by Pittsburgh area metal band Greywolf. There is also a couple small cameos from retro-gaming YouTubers Metal Jesus Rocks and Alpha Omega Sin. Mega Cat Studios clearly shows a lot of love for the 16-bit beat-em-ups of yesteryear and I very heartily recommend to anyone looking for an entertaining indie game to play, it’s got coffee, retro games, and metal, hell yeah!

I thought these dudes looked familiar….

Side Note: Coffee Crisis is currently available for LESS than the price of a coffee house brew at $1.99, a GREAT DEAL until May 27th. https://www.nintendo.com/games/detail/coffee-crisis-switch/

For anyone else who would like to purchase a physical cartridge version to play on Sega… https://megacatstudios.com/collections/16-bit/products/coffee-crisis-sega-genesis

Keep on playing…