Ah! Finally I am writing a follow up to one of the first articles I put up on the blog. Once again, I am going to give you four solid titles for SEGA’s 16-bit wonder that prove it can hold it’s weight against both the NES and Super NES. The best part? I found all of the titles listed below for under $15 each at various pawn shops and used game outlets. If you are one of the many that balk at the idea of playing or *GASP* collecting Genesis stuff, than I urge you to grab at least one of these games. If you are a video game fan, than you will see the Genesis has a lot of retro greatness to offer.
One of the earliest tactical / stradegy RPGs to be released on this side of the ocean, Shining Force was the first game in the Shining series, and one of the best challenges on the Genesis. The game play is very close to latter and and more recognized tactical RPG games such as the Final Fantasy Tactics series and the Ogre series. Combat takes place on a grid, and you take turns moving members of your party around the grid, similar to a board game. On each party member’s turn you may move and take one other action (such as attack an enemy unit, cast protective or offensive magic, use an item, etc.) There are also parts in Shining Force that mirror more conventional RPGs, where you play as the main character and can move around different environments and interact with NPCs, something that is uncommon in the genre. Shining Force and it’s sequel Shining Force II (also for Genesis) are perfect examples that the Genesis has many under appreciated RPGs just waiting to be discovered.
In my opinion, Gunstar Heroes in without a doubt the best run-and-gun game released for any console. Think all the two player action and cool weapon upgrades of Contra for the NES and then add in beautiful 16-bit graphics, loose laws of gravity, mega-epic boss battles and about 10 times the speed. In the game you play as either Gunstar Blue or Gunstar Red, members of the Gunstar family who’s sworn duty is the protect the planet Gunstar-9. Main baddy Smash Daisaku, with the help of your brainwashed third brother Gunstar Green, steals the four Mythic Gems which power the planet and uses them to turn all of it’s robotic inhabitants into killing machines. It’s your job to battle through various areas around the planet to retrieve the stolen Gems. This game has developed a huge cult following and is often regarded as one the best games made for the Genesis.
Decap Attack is the definitive “quirky” video game for the Genesis. The game is an altered version of a Japanese Mega Drive game called Magical Hat Flying Turbo Adventure, which was based on the Japanese anime Magical Hat. The license to use the anime characters outside of Japan could not secured, so Vic Tokai altered the enemy and character sprites and re-titled the game. Both the Japanese and North American versions of the game can be considered spiritual successors, or even remakes of both the NES game Kid Kool and the Master System game Psycho Fox. In the game you play as decapitated mummy named Chuck D. Head. You make your way across a skeleton shaped island in order to kill the evil forces of madman Max D. Cap. The game is standard platforming in it’s game play, but the morbid nature of the game makes this must play for any Genesis enthusiast.
The only Castlevania game released for the Genesis, and that’s a shame, because this is truly an amazing game. The graphics are hands down better than any of Konami’s SNES Castlevania games with advanced effects such as water reflections and animated background movement. The game also has some of the best bosses in the series. Another area in which Bloodlines shines is the music. The score is universally regarded as the best of all of the titles up to Castlevania Symphony of the Night (PlayStaion), with many of the tracks and themes making their way into future Castlevania installments. The setting is some what of a departure from previous games in the series, as only the very beginning of the game takes place in Dracula’s castle. From there the game takes you to across the globe to such locations as England, Italy, Germany and Greece. The game play is the typical side scrolling platformer that the Castlevania series is famous for and many the game play elements from previous titles were kept intact. It’s really too bad that Konami never followed Bloodlines up with anotehr Genesis installment, because Bloodlines is one of the best the championed franchise has to offer.