Ah, lucky number thirteen. A baker's dozen. I almost can't believe I've gotten this far. I've been a member since 2006 when I wrote my very first article Monster Mash. My, how things seem to have changed since then. Anyway, continuing from my last article our next tour will take us into the early 1990's and the next step up for video gaming. The NES had dominated the home gaming market for some time, but in 1991 they would get some serious competition. Enter the Sega Genesis with it's mighty sixteen bit engine which pumped out twice the graphics and sound power of the NES. Nintendo would answer this call soon enough with their own sixteen bit system, the SNES (Super Nintendo), but Genesis still holds a loyal following to this day. It took alot of crying, whining and carrying on but eventually mom caved and got me a Genesis system (the model seen above) which came with Sonic Spinball a cool game in it's own right.
Our tour begins with a journey to the planet Mobius to visit with the blue blur who also just celebrated his twentieth anniversary (see Nightwatcher's Patrol #8).
The evil Dr. Ivo Robotnik is attempting to conquer the planet by turning it's cuddly little citizens into blood thirsty robots, and only one hedgehog can stop him. Help Sonic rescue his friends, collect the Chaos Emeralds and put an end to Robotnik's diabolical scheme. Sonic The Hedgehog gained attention with it's bright, colorful graphics, hopping soundtrack and of course immense speed which the powerful sixteen bits of the Genesis made possible. In fact I've heard it said that one could complete this game in a matter of hours if one were to go fast enough. I usually try to take my time and do it right while also taking advantage of Sonic's natural gift (don't ask, it's complicated).
For our next stop we will go back in time to ancient Greece where a great battle of supernatural proportions is being fought.
Rise from your grave!
When Athena is kidnapped by Neff the dark lord of the underworld Zeus resurrects a mighty centurion (two if there are two players) from the grave to rescue her. In order to battle Neff, Zeus grants the warriors the ability to transform into several different creatures upon collecting power orbs from blue demon dogs: werewolf, thunder dragon (my favorite), bear man, tiger man and finally the mighty gold werewolf. This game is a little on the short side but it is still fondly remembered as being the very first game to be packaged with the Genesis. It was also ported from the arcade original which is available as a download from the Wii Shop Channel. I highly recommend it do to it's higher resolution graphics and better soundtrack. As a side note Neff will make an cameo appearance as a video game bad guy in Wreck It Ralph. Wel-come to-your-doom!
Time for a rest stop as we hang out with my main aliens.
Yo, wussup? Meet Toejam and Earl, two funky fresh aliens from the planet Funkatron. They've just crash landed on the craziest planet in the universe. It's called Earth and they're stuck on it. In order to leave they have to round up the pieces of their Funkatronic space ship and reassemble it. Along the way they run into these things called Earthlings, the weirdest creatures they've ever seen. Your job is to help TJ and E find the space ship pieces while avoiding dangerous Earthlings and collecting some totally cool presents that can help them along the way. And I always liked how they travelled between levels in a magic elevator. I also enjoy bouncin' to the funky soundtrack. No matter what, this game always makes me laugh and is one of the finest sixteen bit games ever made. There's a lesson to be learned here though: never let Earl drive, ya dig?
Next up is a stop in a city corrupt with crime to take a look at the darker side of the Genesis. I hope everyone packed bullet proof vests and brass knuckles...
Streets Of Rage (aka Bare Knuckle) is a side scrolling beat-em-up whose roots are, chillingly enough, based in reality. After all, what major American city isn't laced with crime. In the game one such city has been taken over by a ruthless organization called the Crime Syndicate and is being ruled by the mysterious Mr. X. Crime has gotten so bad that the the police force is at a loss for what to do, until three young people, just ejected from the force, step forward and attempt to fight back. Adam Hunter, Axel Stone and Blaze Feilding are the only hope left for their fare city, but will they be enough? Taking control of one of these young ex cops, you must fight your way through waves of enemy punks and ninja assassins and take down Mr. X to free the city from his evil grasp. I was only eleven or twelve when I played this for the first time. I may have been a little to young for a game where you beat the snot out of people and even kill them with knives and broken beer bottles, but I still loved it. In fact, I think this is where my interest in all dark and gritty media began. I understand that the city that this takes place in may have been based on either Los Angeles or Manhattan but neither of these has ever been confirmed. Also, this is among the first games to feature multiple endings. Just before the final boss fight Mr. X commends the young heroes on their fighting skills and asks if any of them are interested in joining him. If at least one of them says yes then that member of the group will have to be killed. The endings differ depending on the answer to Mr. X's question and the outcome of the final fight. Pretty sweet for a game of it's age. This is also one of my top candidates for a video game based movie. I know they haven't really worked out to well so far but I think this one would be pretty sick since it's so realistic. Alot of fans have voiced their approval and have asked to get Robert De Niro ("Are you talkin' ta me? Are you talkin' ta ME?!") to play Mr. X. Sounds good to me. Remember back in Patrol #8 when I said that some of the titles for this system were somewhat mature? I wasn't kidding was I?
What do you guys think? De Niro may be getting older now but I think he's probably still bad ass enough to be Mr. X
Next up, we will stop off in a world of myth, magic and huge, muscular barbarians who kick evil's ugly ass with fire breathing dragons. Sounds like my kind of place.
In a far away land filled with magic and fantasy a ruthless being known as Death Adder has over thrown the kingdom through a hostile take over and only three powerful warriors can stop him. Take control of a mighty barbarian, a beautiful valkyrie or a nimble dwarf to take down Death Adder and save the kingdom. When I first started playing this game I was taken by it's Lord Of The Rings style settings and really cool villain. It was also interesting taking control of a character who could engage in both hand to hand combat and magic casting, creating some sweet fighting combos. I also found it interesting that no matter which character you choose to play as, their back stories are all the same, they are taking revenge for their brother who had already been killed in combat. Like Altered Beast this was also ported from it's arcade original.
Our next stop could be just about anywhere in the USA as we revisit an old racing favorite...one in which cheating by beating the living daylights out of your opponents is perfectly legal. Possibly frowned upon, but legal.
Road Rash is a racing game like no other. You play as an unnamed rider (you choose your own name) and race through several different landscapes across the U.S., each time earning money to upgrade your motorcycle. You can win the races by knocking your opponents off of their bikes but it is also possible to finish the game without hurting anyone although it becomes increasingly more difficult in the later levels. This game spawned two sequels, also on the Genesis, which eventually took the races around the world. This is also another one of my top candidates for a video game movie.
For our next stop we will drop in on the wonderful world of Disney for an old Mickey Mouse magical epic adventure.
Being an age old Disney lover I was pleasantly impressed with this title when I got my first hands on with it. Minnie has been mouse-napped by the vile witch Mizrabel and it's up to Mickey to rescue her, with your help of course. Featuring bright and colorful graphics, awesome worlds to explore, crazy bosses and a new main villainess who dares to rip off the look of the Wicked Queen from Snow White, Castle of Illusion is one of Mickey's greatest outings in video games. In fact, he hadn't had this awesome a game until Disney Epic Mickey on Wii which is, quite possibly, the greatest Mickey game ever made. I also have the Game Gear version of Castle of Illusion but the Genesis version is better by far. One of the things I liked the most about this game was the totally bad ass boss music that accompanied those epic battles. Try as I might though, I couldn't get a YouTube recording of it. Sorry. Also, look for this title to resurface this holiday season as Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion available only on 3DS. Mickey must once again battle Mizrabel (this time under the guise of Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty) and rescue Minnie from the Castle of Illusion, which has somehow shown up in Wasteland. Old games dye hard.
For the final stop on our tour we will cap it off with one last stop on planet Mobius. This time the adventure got bigger and Sonic had a new buddy.
Released merely a year after the original, Sonic The Hedgehog 2 saw our spiney little hero battling Robotnik's ultimate creation the Death Egg, luckily he had just recently made friends with a gifted, and apparently special, young fox named Miles Prower. What made Miles special was his unusual second tail. When he spins his twin tails together they form a powerful propeller which Miles could use to fly. Because of this Sonic decided to nick name his new friend "Tails". Tails helps Sonic by flying him around the levels but be careful because he will become exhausted after a short time. Help Sonic and Tails bring down the Death Egg and stop Robotnik's evil scheme. This game was well received do to it's all new story line, bright new levels with new graphics, new soundtrack and of course the introductions of Tails and Super Sonic (achieved after acquiring all seven Chaos Emeralds). I was pretty excited to get my mitts on this one and it remains one of Sonic's greatest hits.
This concludes our tour of the Sega Genesis, I hope everyone enjoyed it. Stay tuned though because it may not be over yet. I may try to do a third part based on the Sony PlayStation. Until then, Nightwatcher out.