Genesis Does...Effing Rule!Pt2
#090 - #081 of the console's most memorable titles
Ten? Just TEN? BWA-HA-HA-HA-HA! What a bunch of amateurs!
I have taken it upon myself to construct a listing of 100 of the best Sega Genesis titles to ever be molded into a cartridge-like shaping. Yes, yes, such an endeavor may make mortal men shiver, but I am up for the task AND THEN SOME. Hey, it was well worth the swollen thumbs and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, if you ask me
My ongoing quest to calculate, quantify and categorize the most sublime of the outstanding on the Genesis has become something of a quixotic quest for my sakes, a sort of pet project I have been pondering for quite a few years now.
This article is part two of an ENORMOUS, ENORMOUS I say countdown of the most splendiferous titles to appear on the Americanized Mega Drive unit. Of course, the usual caveats do apply, so before we continue with the countdown, lets mull over some criteria, shall we?
1. Note that I call this a list of 100 of the Greatest Sega Genesis games of all time and not the list of THE 100 Greatest Sega Genesis games of all time. This is not a list that reflects an unbiased standing of the technically important or mechanically significant. It is simply a listing of the 100 Genesis games from my youth that provided me with the most entertainment. I REPEAT, THIS IS NOT A LISTING OF THE 100 BEST GENESIS GAMES OF ALL TIME. If that were the case, the totality of the order would be way off and assuredly, half of my ballot would be excised. In fact, in hindsight, a lot of games on this list, incontrovertibly, suck and a lot of really kick-ass games did not make the list. I am, simply, measuring the games by their sentimental, nostalgic worth to MY being. Your list is sure to differ.
2. As something of an addendum to the above, I only listed Genesis games that I played PRIOR to my middle school sojourns, which was circa 1997. By then, the machine was basically dead in the water anyway, so that means that I am NOT counting games that I discovered post the release of the movie Titanic. So anyway, before you start sending me hate mail about X-Men 2 and Lightening Force not making the list, that is why.
3. Hey, 8 Year Old Me had some fickle tastes. If you think there are too many sports games on the list or not enough role playing games, I say build a time machine in your garage and take it up with my 1994 being when you get there. I am not revising history, no way, no how.
4. This list is only counting North American SEGA GENESIS titles and NOT the MEGA DRIVE releases in PAL regions. There is ONE exception on this list, so if you played a really kick ass game and you live in Stratford-Upon-Avon and you are wondering as to why it did not make the list, that is why.
5. No, there are not any Nude codes for Mortal Kombat II, so stop asking, you pervs.
With those clarified and expounded upon, how about we hop back into the countdown, what do you say?
#090 The Toxic Crusaders
I have heard a lot of mixed opinions on this one, with some detractors calling it one of the worst side scrollers of the 16-bit era. Now, of course, I am a huge fan of TROMA, and by proxy, The Toxic Crusaders cartoon, so that was most definitely a decisive factor in my enjoyment of the title. If the game had any other license, like oh-say the Street Sharks (god, what a horrible show THAT was) then yeah, I would probably be dropping trou to join in on the massive dumping upon the title. That being said, it is a VIDEO GAME STARRING THE TOXIC MOTHER LOVING AVENGER, and for me to dislike this title is to dislike the veritable blood within my veins.
Yeah, there are some oddities at foot here; when you start the game, you have a mop to use as a weapon, but if you get hit once, just once, you lose it indefinitely, leaving you with just a crappy punch that has virtually no range at all. I guess the hook in that is to challenge the player to not get hit whatsoever, and by golly, that is exactly what we tried to accomplish. Eventually, I was able to make it all the way to the third stage sans a single ounce of punishment, but after that though, yeah, you are pretty much effed.
All of the characters from the show you cannot remember are included in the game, in some aspect. There is a boss fight against Psycho (whom, on the show, was voiced by that guy from Sleepaway Camp III) that is quasi-memorable, and it is practically impossible to do battle with a giant rat made out of a gooey, white substance and not chuckle (get your minds out of the gutter people, it is just glue!)
Verily, it is a by-the-numbers action romp MADE by an obscure license, and while no one is going to be comparing this one to Super Metroid anytime soon, it is still a relatively enjoyable little diversion. This is the kind of game made for those boring, rainy Saturday afternoons when you are waiting an hour or so until something good comes on TV. Like a huge, greasy hamburger, it is not the best you can do (nor is it particularly good FOR you), but man, is it ever filling.
#089 Boogerman: A Pick and Flick Adventure
Hey, we were eight, all right!
As an elementary school kid, there is just something about the human anatomy and its gross (albeit completely normal) functions that is funnier than anything in the world. Do you want to make a grade school kid shoot milk out of his nostrils? No need for analytical, observational humor or clever word play: Just fart really, REALLY loud and he will be chuckling like a hyena. Hell, we 90s children practically made Jim Carey a multi-millionaire based on that facet alone.
So, of course, when the Ren and Stimpy generation found out about this game, which was COMPLETELY centric to anatomical ickyness, we went BALLISTIC.
I played this game one afternoon over at my friends house, and we were practically rolling in the floor guffawing at the things the player could do in the title. I think this was the first game in which I perceived an audible fart, which sounds REALLY weird coming through the MIDI processer of the Genesis. All of the attacks were bodily function based: you burped poisonous green clouds on opponents, spit chili pepper breath on adversaries, and in perhaps the games most stomach churning element, hopped on gigantic pimples, effectively popping them so that one could slake upon the precious milk power-up that lie within (by the way, the milk in the game gave one the ability to FLY via farting. Yes, levitation by flatulence. . . this my friends, was the zenith of the Clinton Administration.)
This was a platform game that, yeah, was nothing more than a gimmick, but it did what it did fairly well; for all of the gaseous sight gags (construe that last word any way you wish), it was also a well-done, highly polished offering from the same guys that brought us the Earthworm Jim series, and the same abstract humor that illuminated those games is also to be found in this one. . . albeit in a far STINKIER package, ostensibly.
#088 Todd s Adventures In Slime World
How often do you get to talk about the Atari Lynx, let alone PORTS from the handheld that time forgot?
While I still say the portable version is superior (it was doing 8 person death matching YEARS before Quake was a gleam in ID Software s respective irises), the Genesis version is still a damned nifty little action-adventure title that proved to be one of the great unsung titles of the early 90s. For one, there is about EIGHT different methods of play. Seriously, to Hades with the whole easy, medium and hard dynamic, this game gave you some options that TOTALLY altered the mechanics of game play. Per, one could select to turn off weapon use, which made the game, fundamentally, a stealth puzzler, or instate a clock mechanic that could only be satiated by collecting fungi. Also, the TRULY hardcore could opt for the arcade version (which is, no continues, no checkpoints, one hit, and it is GAME OVER.) This, most definitely, was not a game that messed around.
In fact, I am going to say that the guys that made Super Metroid RIPPED off this title, as apparent by the art design, the games map system, and the inclusion of puzzle elements that made this a game that was more focalized on adventuring then mindless blasting. And oh boy, did this game pack a challenge; perhaps the games most legendary aspect is that of the Red Snapper, a gigantic one-hit-kill enemy that, to the unobserving sclera, is practically undetectable. Of course, if you take cues from the background and the positioning of power ups, one would know when and where the hell beasts were to attack, but that was only after MONTHS of memorization. This is a unique, artistically impressive, satisfying little romp that throws in WAY more than what most action-titles of the epoch were offering. Every bit as cerebral as it is pulse pounding, this is a hidden gem that is WELL worth trekking down.
#087 Clay Fighter
Fighting games where EVERYWHERE in the early 90s; hot off the heels of Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter II, pretty much every gaming company in existence was, at one point, trying to recreate the success that those two monster franchises obtained. Sometimes, the end result was impressive (basically PICK a SNK title from the time frame), but more often than not, such titles were formulaic, uninteresting clones that merely aped better games in the genre (cough PIT FIGHTER, PRIMAL RAGE cough).
And then came the gimmick games, in which the characters in the title were based around certain themes (like chronology in Time Killers and horror characters in Dark Stalkers). After awhile, such repetitiveness was turning the form into a parody. And what did the guys at Inter Play do?
The made a parody OF a parody with Clay Fighter.
Using a sort of stop motion technology, the figures in Clay Fighter looked almost 3D in appearance, and my, what a woolly collection of combatants, from a chunky female Viking to Elvis Presley himself! Sure, some of the fighters were just abstruse blobs (including TWO Gummy facsimiles on the roster), but there was never any doubt as to who the most popular character in the game was: Bad Mr. Frosty, an ass kicking snow man that looked like something that stepped out of Tim Burtons nightmares. There were A LOT of Frosty versus Frosty battles going on at the Swift compound. I mean, A LOT.
This was a very simplistic fighting game, a sweet title with fluid animation and smooth controls that, while far from being a cerebral accomplishment, provided instant pick up and play fun for just about anybody capable of twiddling his or her thumbs. And seriously, how can anyone hate a game in which the final opponent is an evil, sapient pearl necklace? I rest my case.
#086 Earthworm Jim 2
There is a lot of debate is to which title was better, the original Earthworm Jim or its sequel. While the Sega CD version of the original blows both out of the water, I think it is a safe bet to proclaim the second installment to be a more well-executed, satisfying experience, with far more variety in its game play.
The controls, to me at least, were much improved, and while some may have disliked the non action elements of the title (like having to catch Pete s puppies or especially the finale, which is fundamentally a race against Psycrow), I found them to be engaging, enthralling, and pleasantly surprising additions to a genre that was, at the time, beginning to fall into the clutches of mediocrity.
Anyway, what can I really say about the game play in this franchise? It is as if Salvador Dali went on a week long drug binge and painted a portrait of a refrigerator mating with a cactus, only instead of using paint, he utilized CRAZY. Among other things included in this game: evil masked lawyers, a parachute named Snot, an entire level which is based around protecting a herd of bovines (from, of all things, rocket packed penguins), killer salt shakers, and a segment in which you most avoid raining old ladies with the help of pig-assisted sneakers. Yeah, you might have to read that last one over again.
I guess my favorite stage is level 3, which features one of my all time beloved, third-wall breaking moments in video game history; in a stage littered with exploding sheep (which is the intestinal tract of a gigantic slug which resembles a pinball unit) that is scored by, I kid you not, Moonlight Sonata, the game play is suddenly interrupted by a trivia game, featuring some of the most hilarious, nonsensical one-liners in the 16 bit era, or for that matter, any other.
So is Earthworm Jim 2 a subtle mocking of the video game industry, a sort of Camus-like indictment of the inherent absurdity of the entire market? Could be, but who has time to metaphysically ponder when the game play is so zanily invigorating and absorbing? Now pardon me, I have a running table to catch. . .
#085 Sonic 3D Blast
One of the coolest things about the 2D Sonic games where the 3D bonus stages. Now, of course, the stages were not really 3D, but it was close enough. Now, how awesome would a Sonic game be if it was nothing BUT those 3D levels?
Well, do not get too exasperated, because Sonic 3D Blast is far from being the video game nirvana it sounds like. While there are some neat looking (for the time) pre-rendered 3D stages within the cartridge, a majority of the game is a 2D, overhead isometric title in which Sonic runs around a map collecting Flickies (hmm . . . those sound familiar, for some enigmatic reason). Purportedly, the game was to be something of a home port of a truly kick ass, track ball based Arcade game called Sega Super Sonic, which, unfortunately, never made its way stateside (or at least, in my neck of the woods, anyway).
Sadly there, is no track ball mechanism for the Genesis, and a lot of people were put off by the repetitive, and blasphemously slow game play. Seriously, a slow Sonic game? HERESY!
All that being said, I am a lot more forgiving than most types, and after playing through the title a few times, I noted that it has a certain charm of its own. Yeah, it is not quite worthy of the Sonic namesake, but you at least have to give Sega credit for attempting something DIFFERENT with its cash cow. It is most certainly not for everyone, but for the more adventurous of the species, this is a title well worth wedging into your consoles cartridge slot, if only a time or two.
#084 The Lost Vikings
So yeah, I REALLY like the Inter Play games. I know, it is kind of hard to tell from this list, is it not?
So, when was the last time you played a game about displaced barbarians duking it out with alien dictators with tomatoes for heads? Yeah, it has been a while since we have seen that old chest nut. This was another game marked by outlandish humor and satisfying, semi-intellectualized game play, this time based around a trifecta of Norwegian marauders and puzzle-based sojourning.
Each character had his own special attack, which came in handy at certain junctures in game play. For example, one of the characters could use his shield to protect his brethren from aerial attacks, and it was wise to place him in front of the tribe during lengthy battles. When battling at long distances, it was pertinent to place the bow and arrow wielding tribesman at the lead pivot. Of course, my favorite character was Erik the Swift (no relation, by the way), whom had the ability to ram his way through walls.
Each level was a multi-tiered labyrinth based around certain junctures in time and space. In one level, you are trying to make your way through the confusing vestibules of an alien air ship, and the next, you are flinging arrows through a pastel-hued wonder land filled with cuddly adversaries.
Sigh, how I long for the simple days of video gaming, when merely hunting for keys inside a gigantic crouton while jumping on your brothers head was good enough for the masses. . .
#083 Columns III
There really were not that many memorable puzzle titles on the Genesis, so this game is a major treat for a number of reasons. Unlike the original title (that we have ALL played in some incarnation or another), this one is actually competition based, which means no single-player mode whatsoever. That is right, my friends, this game turned puzzling into WAR.
There actually were a lot of different modes of play in this one, and I cannot say that I squandered many an hour kicking my cousins ass in the time trial mode. The cooperative mode was also pretty sweet, and how many titles out there, on ANY system, allowed you and four of your buddies to drop puzzle blocks on one another in the name of Tetris-influenced vehemence? Precisely.
Though somewhat embarrassing, I openly admit to playing this game more than I did some of the systems better, more renowned titles. I guess that is the power of an addictive little puzzler, no?
That being said, there are two things about the title that, to this day, kind of perplex me. Number one, look at the box art: Really, who is that guy with a mountain of diamond turds falling out his backside, and why are his legs so disproportioned to the rest of his body? And really, are bald headed forty somethings REALLY the target audience for Genesis games? Must be some sort of weird niche I was never informed of, apparently.
And lastly, what the hell happened to Columns II?
#082 Cool Spot
Yeah, yeah, I know, I know. This game is nothing more than a bunch of corporate hooey, of multi-billion dollar synergetic cash tossing, blah-blah-blah. Was this video game more advertisement than artistic achievement? Yes to the infinity power. Was it also a lot better than most games of the ilk? You darn skippy it was, now let us never think of that one Chester Cheetah game EVER AGAIN.
What really sold this game were the graphics. This was computerized, digitized, not quite 32 bit game play in a 2D arena several years BEFORE Donkey Kong Country hit store shelves, and while this game did not have an impact on the gaming community as immense, it was still an above average platform title on a system practically defined by games in the genre that positively excelled in every aspect possible. Now that, folks, is a ringing endorsement if I ever heard one.
Now, unlike the one 7 Up game on the NES (that, lets face it, was just Othello with red dots), this was a totally form the ground-up platformer, and while it is somewhat peculiar to watch a corporate mascot karate chop a polygonal lobster, I simply cannot deny it: Cool Spot is one fun assed slice of 90s nostalgia.
SUBLIMINAL MESSAGE (DRINK 7-UP) EGASSEM LANIMILBUS
Wait, what the hell was that?
#081 Arch Rivals
I remember trying out for the junior recreation basketball squad, and in my first game, I was tripped up by one of the other kids and since no foul was called, I simply utilized what this game taught me about basketball to exact my revenge: I punched him in the esophagus and yanked his pants down for the entire auditorium to witness.
Sure, that may have been my LAST time at the REC center, but that just allowed me more time to play this AWESOME arcade port on the Genesis. I always thought it was cool that in the arcade version, you could change the names of the teams to reflect the local high school squad monikers. Of course, at the local pizzeria, the names of the teams were changed to the Asses and the Peckers, but that is what happens when you combine teenagers and exorbitantly long lines at the Pizza Hut.
The Genesis version of the game was WAY better than the NES version, not just because of improved graphics, but because of the addendum of that pivotal third button, which made defense, you know, existent in the game play. Sure, the generic characters and overtly simplistic game mechanics may bore the Xbox generation, but for pure, unadulterated 90s pick up and play fun, it is hard to beat this no-hold-barred basket brawler. (And yes, it is a HOOT to play while inebriated, in case you are so pondering. . .)
. . . And that is all that I can muster for this installment. As always, I will be resuming this countdown in about a month or so, so in the interim, how about plugging up the old black beauty and running through a game or two of the above mentioned titles? It is all the joys of 90s living without the homegrown terror and race riots! See you in a few with #080 - #071!
James Swift is a guy that writes stuff. Hey, why dont you watch some of his videos at youtube.com/user/JSwiftMassMedia? Everytime you subscribe, the life of one puppy is saved. . .