Welcome all to the middle installment of Playin' Games with Brent. For this article, I'll be reflecting on the games Brent and I played on the Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo, along with the often overlooked Turbo Grafx 16. For those of you who've read my previous article about playing Nintendo at my cousin Brent's house, I'm happy to inform you that this era finds us on much more equal ground. As fun as it was, the NES was a learning experience for me when it came to video games. With all the introductions out of the way, the 16 bit consoles were nothing but pure entertainment. Brent and his brother Matt were still better at most games then I was, but I at least knew the fundamentals this time. So without further ado, let us begin.
Brent had the Genesis, while I had the Super NES. Brent got his Genesis first though, and one of my first memories of this period is being dropped off at my aunt and uncle's house when Brent was still at school. I was sitting on his bed reading this issue of Nintendo Power.
I was really excited about the Super Nintendo and I was eating up any news I could find about Super Mario World. When Brent got home, we would play Sonic the Hedgehog. He would show me the debug cheat code and how beat the game with all the chaos emeralds. It was a lot of fun.
Then one magical Christmas I unwrapped the Super NES in all it's glory. It came with Super Mario World and Mario All-Stars. I brought it to Brent' house and we ooohed and aaahed over the graphic updates to the classic Mario games. But the first time we really played my SNES together was my birthday four months later when I got Captain America and The Avengers.Man, I forgot just how cool this box art was.
I've never followed comics or superheroes, except for the occasional Batman graphic novel, so my appeal for this game didn't stem from Avengers fandom. Rather, the arcade was at our local Wal-mart and I would ask my mom for a quarter to play it whenever we were checking out. You could play as Captain America, Iron Man, Vision, or Hawkeye. I thought it was hard, but I liked it. It was also my first non-Mario game for the SNES. Even though this is technically a beat-em-up, it's almost impossible to play it that way. I would always switch the buttons so punch was "A" and the special move was "Y." Instead a punching, we made progress by throwing shields, firing arrows, and shooting bolts. I don't think it's humanly possible to even get past the second stage going at it with just punches. When we played it for the first time, I was immediately disappointed by something though. In the arcade, Vision's special move was a really cool laser that he shot out of his eyes. On the SNES, he threw an uppercut and fired an orange bolt of out his armpit. I'm told the Genesis port is superior to the SNES version, but I've never played it. Anyway, Brent and I got into it and I think we got the 3rd level before we finally got a game over. The game was so tough that in time Brent refused to play it anymore because he was tired of not making progress.
We never beat the game, but I came very close by myself once. Using Vision and his armpit bolt, I got all the way the final form of Red Skull, but I had one hit left and he killed me almost instantly. I've played the game recently, and though I wouldn't call it a classic, I have fond memories of it.
Along with Sonic the Hedgehog, an early Sega game Brent had that we played was Hard Drivin'.
This was another arcade port and it was tagged as being a true driving simulator. (I can assure you that Gran Turismo, this is not.) However, it was quite the graphical experience for it's time. I think it was first game to use 3D polygons for it's graphics but I'm not sure. It was played entirely in the first person.
The game was played on a timer, and every time you hit a checkpoint you got extra time. It was divided into two courses; a speed course and a stunt course. It's hard to make out, but you can see the track layout in this screenshot:
The speed course was typical arcade fare, trying to see how fast you could finish, but the stunt course was a lot more fun. It had a jump, a bridge, a giant berm, and a loop. It was fun to try and navigate on it's own, but somewhere along the way we discovered something even more fun. Whenever you crashed, the game would show an overhead perspective replay of how you did it. One time, we noticed that the replay was funny to watch, so we started crashing on purpose. We got really creative with it too. We crashed into other cars, fell and flew of the loop, missed the other half of the jump, drove into a barn, launched off the berm, we even found out that you would automatically crash if you drove too far off the road. It was hilarious.I can still hear the background music in my head
Much like Captain America, I wouldn't call this game a classic, but I have very fond memories of it nonetheless. I have a Genesis now, and I'd like to track down the cartridge sometime. I'd also like to give a brief shout-out to a game called Art Alive. This was basically the Genesis answer to Mario Paint, though it wasn't as polished or fun. I only played this game a few times with Brent before he and his brother sold it.You can't get more 90's than this box art.
I only remember two things about this game. The first is that that character sprites were animated so we would make them walk up stairs and such in some of the backgrounds.
The second thing is one time Brent's brother Matt decided to draw a large wedge of Swiss cheese and for whatever reason, Brent and I found this to be really funny. Maybe he drew some stink lines coming off it, I don't remember. Again, I only played the game a few times and I don't remember much about it so I don't know if I can recommend it or not.
A couple years later, I got yet another arcade port for my SNES in the form of Sunset Riders. I used to play this arcade at local minigolf place called Scandia, and when I found out it was available for home consoles, I requested it as a Christmas gift. Oh Konami, where you ever good to the SNES...
Though my parents never flat-out told me, I knew I was getting it and couldn't stop myself from counting down the days until I could finally play it. If you missed it back then, it was a Konami game that played like a western version of Contra. It didn't the have the weapons and crazy bosses that Contra did, but you still basically pushed to the right side of the screen and if it wasn't you or your buddy, you shot it. There were 4 characters, Billy, Bob, Cormano...and I forgoet the other guy's name. Two characters had pistols, two had shotguns. The pistols fired faster but were only single shot. The shotguns fired in a spread. There were two power-ups; one was a silver star that gave you a second gun for even more firepower, and the other was a gold star that turned your bullets pink and gave you rapid fire. It was pretty cool, you got to run on top of stampedes, ride horses, throw dynamite, stuff like that. Bosses were wanted bad guys, and the variety was pretty impressive. One guy you fought on a train and he had a shield and a whip. Another guy rode a horse. One stage was a saloon where you fought two brothers at once who threw explosives at you. The stage before the last featured a boss that I find especially worth mentioning. His name was Paco Loco.
As Brent and I were up late one night at his house playing the game, I started referring to Paco Loco as Big Lips Flannigan. Seriously, his lips were HUGE! The whole time we fought him, Brent and I couldn't stop laughing, he looked so ridiculous.
After he's vanquished, ol' Big Lips falls of his wall and says "Asta La Bye Bye," which made us laugh even more. He then fires off a few rounds and bites it for good. The boss before him was an Indian chief and he was insanely tough. He stood on top of these stone pillars and threw knives at you that were very hard to dodge. For a long time, Brent and I could never get past him. When you finally do, his daughter runs up to your character(s) and asks that you spare his life. One guy then responds "All right mam, we won't shoot him." Never mind the fact that we've spent the last 5-10 minutes pouring bullets into the guy. Oh well. Sunset Riders is classic SNES game in my opinion and I heartily recommend it. I know there's a Genesis version of it, but it's not as good. Two of the characters are missing and the levels are different.
Brent was a huge fighting game nut and half of what he owned consisted of Street Fighters, Mortal Kombats, and Fatal Furies. I wasn't allowed to really play fighting games then, so a good amount of his collection was off limits to me. That never stop me from having a good time though, as they were still other great games to be played. It was pretty big deal when he and Matt got Aladdin. I stayed the night there shortly after they did, and I played the crap out of it. Brent knew the cheat to skip stages so I got see every level fairly quickly. He also had games like Beavis and Butthead, Cool Spot, and Flashback: The Quest for Identity.
I never played much Flashback because Brent didn't like it and never wanted to play it. I got to try it of course, but my playtimes never lasted very long. It was really hard.
One time when I spent the night, we all went out to rent a movie. My aunt and uncle said we could rent a game as well. Brent was cool and said I could rent a Super NES game if I wanted too. I was appreciative of this, so I specifically looked for something coop, and Brent and Matt looked too. We ended up renting Joe and Mac.
Brent, along with myself, was a big Mega Man fan, and he enjoyed playing Mega Man X when I got it. I was able to get to Sigma's levels on my own, but I could never get past the first boss. It was a giant spider robot that would come down at you from these long poles faster and faster the more damage was done to it. It was early morning at Brent's house when I finally discovered that Chill Penguin's Ice weapon was it's weakness. With Brent watching, I finally beat it. I think we may have reached Sigma himself that morning, but if we did, I know we didn't beat him. Mega Man X is an outstanding game, but man to this day do I hate that fricken spider...All I'm gonna say is that it deserves what's coming to it. I HATE fighting this thing!
Speaking of Mega Man X, one year after receiving some birthday money, I asked my dad to take me and Brent(He stayed the night) to Toys R Us. I had a two objectives in mind. The first was that I was going to buy Starfox. I grabbed the card to take to the register and the proceeded to my next objective. It was located on a magazine rack in the video games section:
I loved Mega Man X and I couldn't wait to read up on the upcoming X2. But then something happened. As we were in line to pay, I started to flip threw the magazine and made the horrifying discovery that the entire Mega Man X2 section was torn out. I couldn't believe it! Thankfully I was able to find a perfectly intact copy and Brent and I read excitedly on the way home in my Dad's truck. Good times.
Along with his Genesis, Brent also had a Turbo Grafx 16. I always though it was neat how the game cartridges looked like credit cards. He didn't have a very many games for it, but I'm thankful I got to play them just the same. I recall playing one game that involved some muscly guy with an axe going through a forest fighting giant spiders. I can't remember what it was. But here are the more commonly known things Brent had.
I've been going on for awhile now so I'll end with this. A couple of times Brent and I did a console swap where I let him borrow my SNES and he lent me his Sega. Along with what I've mentioned so far, I had games like Donkey Kong Country 1 and 2, Super Mario Kart, and Zombies Ate My Neighbors. I don't recall him mentioning what he liked to play though. I was glad to have the Genesis because along with what he owned, I got to rent games I couldn't have played otherwise. I rented some cool stuff like Vectorman and Comix Zone, but like most of you I had a crappy rental thrown in as well. In this case it took the form of a Beauty and the Beast game.
Since I can hear the sound of you eyebrows raising, let me explain myself. Remember that scene in the movie when Belle goes to the West Wing and looks at the rose then Beast gets all pissed off and she runs away? She gets cornered by a pack of wolves and just as the situation seems hopeless, Beast shows and proceeds to tear them all a new one. I thought that was insanely cool and I wanted to do that in video game form. I mean, that's what he was doing on the cover! I remember seeing ads in magazines for this game that said "Harness the full power of the Beast!" and that's what exactly I wanted to do. And then I actually played it. Oh man, was it garbage. The beast had a claw attack that barely reached any distance at all. I don't even know if he could roar. It was terrible, terrible and hard. You start off in the snow and then go to the castle, and that's a far as I got.You suck, Beast!
I had it for maybe an hour before I asked my mom if we could exchange it. Blockbuster was cool and let me do it for free. I swapped it for Sonic and Knuckles and all was well once more.
One night I took it upon myself to draw the Cool Spot box art.I don't know what possessed me to do such a thing, as I can't draw to save my life, but it turned out really well. I drew in non-erasable blue pen and I was thoroughly impressed with myself. I wish I knew what happened to it, because I 'd love to post that picture here. Oh well. Here's my inspiration, at least.I didn't do the background, but Spot and the surfboard turned out really good.
But the one thing I will remember most fondly form borrowing Brent's Genesis is this: Sonic the Hedgehog 3. I don't know what it is about Sonic 3 that took hold of me so, but I could not stop playing it. I had a routine that I would go through where I would beat it as Sonic, then beat it as Tails, then beat it as both. Sometimes I would fill up all the save slots that way. I could find every emerald and the bonus stages were a lot of fun to play through. I played and beat it over, and over, and over, and over, and over again. I could not bored or get enough of it. Not even Sonic and Knuckles held me the way this game did. (And yes, I know they're both technically two halves of the same game.)One of my favorite games ever made, and in my opinion the crown jewel of Brent's collection.
On top of being an awesome game, Sonic 3 introduced the world to my favorite Sonic character: Knuckles. I'm not sure what it is about knuckles, but I took an instant to shine to him. I loved being able to play as him in Sonic and Knuckles. I like that he can glide and climb. I think his spiked knuckles look cool. I like the way his spines hang down off his head. I even like his quad and bike vehicles in the Sonic/Sega All-Star Racing games. Seriously, this is one of my favorite video game characters ever created.
And that's it. I'd like to add very quickly that even though I've mentioned cheat codes quite a bit, we played without them far more often than with them. They just came in handy, especially if you've completed the game and wanted to skip a stage you didn't like. Thanks all for reading and until next time, stay retro folks.