Sega Genesis Game Opinion Summaries, Part 4: Letters F and G

18 games covered in this update

Faery Tale Adventure, The
Fatal Rewind
Fire Shark
Forgotten Worlds
Fun ‘N’ Games
Gadget Twins
Garfield: Caught in the Act
Gauntlet IV
General Chaos
Genesis 6-Pak
Ghouls ‘N Ghosts
G-LOC: Air Battle
Golden Axe
Golden Axe II
[Golden Axe III – have in collections only]
Greendog: The Beached Surfer Dude
Gunstar Heroes

Best games in this update: Golden Axe, Golden Axe II, Gauntlet IV

Faery Tale Adventure, The – 1 player, password save (36 character password to save). The Faery Tale Adventure is a top-down Western RPG by New World Computing and published by EA. You play as a prince or three, having to save the world from evil or something. I can’t really say too much about this game because it’s not a kind of game I have ever liked, but I can tell a few things about it. First, the game is not great on consoles; the game was designed for computers, and was compromised in the porting process. This is a big game with a large world to explore and action combat. This is a somewhat non-linear game, and the game tells you essentially nothing about what you should be doing when you start; this is a big issue for me, as while I know a lot of people love them, I do not enjoy these open-world games where you’re just supposed to randomly wander around until you figure out what to do, where you can go, and where you will die. The visual look is probably inspired by Ultimas V-VII, though I haven’t played either those games or the PC Faery Tale Adventure games so I don’t know how well this game compares. The overlong passwords do not make me want to try too hard to figure out this game. The controls are not very good either. The game was originally designed for a mouse, and playing it with a gamepad just doesn’t quite work. You move around with the pad as usual, but there is a menu of options in the status bar that you access with B. You will be using this clumsy menu CONSTANTLY as you have to switch between talk, pick up, buy/sell, inventory, pause, equipment, and more. Yes, all of those options require hitting B to pause the game, selecting the one you want in the box in the corner of the screen, hitting C to select that option, and often then hitting C again to use that option. Then hit B five seconds later to switch to another option. Then somebody kills you, try again. With a mouse this control system would be tolerable, but with a gamepad it’s horribly annoying. The game does have okay music and somewhat nice graphics with decent art design and better visuals than some early Genesis RPGs, but I don’t like this game at all. With save files and a mouse I’d probably play the game a bit more, but the basic gameplay of wandering around lost and not knowing where to go while dying constantly whenever I try to go anywhere is not fun at all. Even on PC I never wanted to play games like this, and playing this downgraded port does not change my mind on that. Play the original computer versions if you want to try The Faery Tale Adventure. The game also has a computer-only sequel. Or better yet, stick to New World Computing’s best series, Heroes of Might & Magic for PC; those games are fantastic! Port of a PC and Amiga game.

Fatal Rewind – 1-2 player simultaneous. Fatal Rewind is a pretty cool but very frustrating puzzle-platform-action game published by EA. This is a port of a European computer game. EA ported a lot of PC games to the Genesis in their first few years of support for the system, and this is probably one of the better ones, if you can tolerate maze-heavy games. In this game you are a person in a robot suit, and are a participant in one of those futuristic death games popular in fiction. This is a one or two player game; it’s pretty cool that this game has two player co-op support. You can jump with Up (common in European computer games) or C, fire with B, and use items… by hitting jump, or a button combo, or something. You can walk on horizontal walls if you jump at them; that’s pretty cool. Hit down to grab items, of which there are many. There are a variety of weapons to collect, health powerups, and shapes that act as keys. This is a fast-paced game, and your robot zips along nicely. You will need that, though, as death is following you only a moment away! Your goal in each stage is to get to the top before the rising liquid below reaches you; fall in the water and you’re dead. The levels are made up of thin platforms, mostly horizontal but occasionally vertical; there are no diagonal-angle platforms in this game, and all platforms are thin. There are some nice parallax backgrounds in the stages, though. The graphics are good for an early-ish Genesis game, and the music is great. Fatal Rewind has some very good electronic music that helps encourage you to keep trying, important in a game this reliant on replaying again and again.

And you will be replaying the game again and again, as this is, at its core, a maze game. The path to the top is not obvious and levels loop around horizontally so you will never reach a left or right edge. Levels are designed to make use of this fact; stages aren’t too big, but can take a while to finish because of how often you’ll be going back and forth. You wander around, explore, and figure out which keys go in which doors, because keys and doors are a big part of this game. If you take the wrong route you will die for certain as the water will catch you, or you will jump or fall into it, try again. And of course, you have limited lives and continues to figure all this out in, so success at this game will only come with a whole lot of memorization. You’ll need to keep straight which route to take in each level, which key to pick up first, and where each one goes, and then will need to execute on that while avoiding the enemies. Enemies are another unique element of this game, on that note; there are no enemy robots on the paths you explore. Instead, enemies are all flying objects that zip around the screen in formation irregardless of where the platforms are. They can really get in your way, but if you kill all enemies in a wave a small health powerup will float up out of the last one, which is nice if you can jump and get it. Playing Fatal Rewind is, overall, fun but frustrating. I like the graphics and really like the soundtrack, and the game controls well and can be fun to play, but the grind of having to memorize everything in every single stage in order to have a chance of finishing the game is daunting, and while I definitely like this game, I never have gotten anywhere near the end. With passwords every few stages or something this would be a much more fun game; it is impossible to beat this game on the first try, what you need to do in each stage takes a while and that wall of water following you up the screen moves quickly so you can’t make many wrong moves and survive. This game is not fair, but it’s still fun most of the time despite that. Despite its faults, Fatal Rewind is a good game worth playing. Amiga port also on Atari ST, but this kind of game probably plays better with the Genesis’s multi-button controller than it would on the Amiga. In Europe this game is known as “The Killing Game Show”.

Fire Shark – 1 player. Fire Shark is a great vertical shmup from Toaplan, one of the top shmup developers of the day. Fire Shark doesn’t get quite the attention of some other Toaplan shmups of the time such as Truxton or Twin Cobra, but while those games may be better, this game is very good as well. From Tiger-Heli to Truxton II, most of Toaplan’s vertical shmups are very similar in a lot of ways, and Fire Shark is no exception. This game is very much Toaplan, and anyone familiar with their shooters will immediately be at home with Fire Shark. When I got this game I wasn’t expecting too much, because when I got this in 2011 the only Toaplan games I had were the mediocre Tiger Heli for NES and the subpar Genesis port of Twin Cobra, but this one is great. The basic concept is similar to those games, but it’s a bit faster and easier here, and it isn’t broken like the Genesis version of Twin Cobra. Toaplan was a great shmup developer, and this game is a fine example of why. The game has good controls, first. Toaplan shmups always control well, though often ship movement is a bit slow. It is like that here, but the speed is manageable, this isn’t Tiger-Heli slow. You’ve got a couple of weapons to choose from, including a forward gun, a flame laser shot, and a straight laser. The weapons here are clearly fantastic, more so than the machine-guns-only weapons of Daisenpuu, for example, though the general gameplay of the two titles is very similar. The game has your typical Toaplan graphics and sound, with okay but not great graphics and sound. The game has a large status bar on the left side, a feature all Toaplan vertical shooters on the Genesis share. Their Turbografx shmups don’t have that, presumably for screen-resolution reasons — the Genesis usually runs at a higher resolution than the SNES or TG16. The music is classic crunchy Genesis electronic music. It’s good, well composed stuff. The game looks decent and sounds nice, but never will really impress in either respect.

This game is different from Truxton or Twin Cobra in difficulty, though — while those two games are extremely difficult, Fire Shark is a conquerable challenge. This is the sequel to Sky Shark, an arcade game that got a mediocre NES port. You play as a time-travelling World War II pilot defeating an evil superpower which has taken over the world in the future, not that the game itself ever tells you this. The plot is a bit weird, but you’ll see next to none of it in the game, which is just fine; the game’s about shooting stuff, not story. And the shooting is great. Unoriginal or no, the game has great gameplay with very well designed enemy patterns, a good weapon selection, decently nice graphics and sound, and very good controls. Toaplan’s greatest skill is at level design and game flow. Enemy patterns are all well thought through and varied, and the game is great fun to play. There is a boss at the end of each of the ten stages, and they are all fun challenges. And while beating loop one on easy isn’t too hard, and in fact I have beaten a loop of this game, something I have not yet accomplished in any of Toaplan’s other vertical shmups (I have also beaten Zero Wing for Turbo CD, but that’s horizontal), but I don’t mind that there is a Toaplan shmup I can finish. I’ve come close to finishing in Daisenpuu Custom for Turbo CD, another one of Toaplan’s easier shmups, but haven’t quite beaten the game… but I did better at this one. I didn’t beat Hard mode, though, and the game does loop over into each higher difficulty setting after you finish one, so if you keep going it’ll get plenty hard. There is also a slight addition to the ending if you finish it on Hard, sort of like the Genesis version of Truxton. Overall, Fire Shark is a very fun shooter. All you need to do is fly up while shooting the enemy tanks, planes, and ships before they can shoot you, but that will be a challenge… a fun challenge. With three powerful weapons at your disposal you stand a chance, so long as you can stay alive. Eventually you will be able to, at least on Easy. It’s a rewarding game you will get better at, and a great starting point for those interested in getting into Toaplan shooters. Highly recommended! Arcade port.

Forgotten Worlds – 1-2 player simultaneous. Note that with 6-button controllers you must hold Mode and cannot use a 6-button controller at all if you’re using a controller extension cable, it will not work. I use both an extension cable and 6-button controller, so I’ve got to get out my 3-button controller for this game, annoyingly. The 3-button controller just isn’t quite as responsive or comfortable as Sega’s 6-button pad is… ah well. The game is worth it, though, because it’s good. Forgotten Worlds is a horizontal shmup, originally by Capcom in the arcades but this Genesis port is by Sega. You play as a pair of flying muscled guys; they don’t have jetpacks, they just fly because it’s cooler like that. This is a very early Genesis game and you can tell, but the game plays well despite some issues. I don’t like this game quite as much as its great spiritual predecessor Hyperdyne Sidearms, which was released on arcades and on the Turbografx, but it is a good, well-made game. Both games, and Sector Z before them, allow you to fire multiple directions in order to hit enemies coming at you from both directions. In Sidearms you had separate fire buttons for left and right, a simple setup that works well, but this time the game uses two buttons to rotate your character, while the third fires. This allows you to fire in any direction, but it makes for more complex controls than Sidearms, as you will be frequently rotating to the direction you need, instead of just tapping the other button to instantly fire the other way. While it is nice to shoot any way, the clumsier controls are a drawback for me, versus its predecessors. There is an autofire option where you shoot all the time and only need to worry about rotating, but the game does autofire if you hold B, so it’s not essential even if it can be nice sometimes. Another thing I prefer about TG16 Sidearms over Genesis Forgotten Worlds is that this game has absolutely no continues; when you die without a health refill item, it’s game over, start again from the beginning. That’s no fun, having a couple of continues really would have made the game better.

During play, you move your burly flying muscleman around, shooting at the enemies who attack from all sides. The game has good level designs with some variety, obstacles to shoot or avoid in some stages, plenty of enemy types, and more. There are also some decent parallax-scrolling backgrounds. There is slowdown far too often, though, one of the signs of the games’ early release date, and while this game looks decently good, later Genesis games look a lot better. The music is also average at best. This is a tough game too, particularly thanks to the absence of continues. Bosses can be tricky, as well, unless you learn their patterns well. To help you out, early in each stage there is a shop you can, and should, enter. Here you can buy powerups, an extra life, helper orbs that add to your firepower Gradius-style, and more. Buy everything you can, it’s essential, and shops only appear once a stage so you won’t get another chance soon! You can also buy a cryptic hint for how to fight the next boss here, but using a guide might be more helpful if you’re stuck. Overall Forgotten Worlds is a good game, but it’s not great. The slowdown, sometimes average graphics and sound, clumsy controls, and lack of continues all hold the game back, as does its unfortunate incompatibility with 6-button controllers on controller extension cables. Still, if you find it affordably, pick it up; the game can be good stuff, particularly with a friend. Arcade port, also on TurboGrafx CD. The arcade version is in various Capcom arcade collections for newer systems. The Turbo CD version has no parallax and is one player only (unless you use a code that just lets a second player control your ‘bit’ helper orb), but has much better music and more detailed graphics than the Genesis one, so each has advantages over the other.

Fun ‘N’ Games – 1 player. Fun ‘N’ Games is bad Mario Paint-inspired minigame collection. The game has three main modes, creation, games, and some little toy things. None are very good. For creation, there is painting and music composition. The painting mode is decent, with a nice variety of colors and patterns you can draw on the screen with. There are also a bunch of black and white outlines of pictures to fill in if you wish. There’s only one brush width, though, and no mouse or saving support, so drawing is a bit clumsy compard to any game on a computer or with mouse support such as that in Mario Paint, the game this one obviously tries to copy. Worse, you cannot save anything in this game as there isn’t a save chip in the cart, so you’d better take a photo of the screen if you don’t want to lose your creation. Or better, use virtually any drawing program for any computer ever, they are all better than this. The music program is even more pointless; it’s a fairly simple thing and doesn’t match Mario Paint’s. And again, no saving your creation.

The ‘games’ side has three bad minigames to try. First is Mouse Maze; this is the best thing on this cart, and it’s not great. Mouse Maze is a Pac-Man knockoff, only with small mazes and maybe ten dots per stage. Enemy AI is pretty terrible, and this game is not exactly the next Pac-Man to say the least, but it’s not utterly horrible, which makes it better than the other two games. Second is a terrible light-gun-style space shooting game. You use the controller and not a gun, of course, and move a target cursor around the screen, pointing at enemy robot things as they fly around and trying to hit all of them. With bad graphics, no variety, no way to avoid taking damage, and more, this is a terrible, horribly unfun game. And last is a subpar whack-a-mole minigame. It might be amusing for five seconds… probably not, though. And last, the game has two little software toys which let you mix and match people and scenes. Ha ha, I can make a person with a head, body, and legs that don’t match! I’m sure little kids might be amused by these for a few minutes, but I doubt it’ll last much longer than that and there is nothing here for people over age five or six. In conclusion, Fun ‘N’ Games is a terrible waste of time and space. While when it released I could see getting this for a young child who did not have a computer or a Super Nintendo (PCs were expensive back in the early ’90s!), today there is absolutely no reason to even consider wasting your time or money with this debacle. Fun n Games is awful and one of the worst Genesis games I own. Also on SNES and 3DO; I’ve never played the other versions, but they’re probably just as bad. If the 3DO version lets you save your creations it’d be better than the others, but I don’t know if it does. I don’t think any of the three have mouse support, even though mice do exist for all three platforms.

Gadget Twins – 1 player. Gadget Twins is a weird … shmup, I guess… from Europe that was published by GameTek. This is a horizontal game. As in most shooters, you control a plane and fly to the right, but you can’t shoot. Instead, you punch with a short-range boxing glove attack. The game has a money system and shops where you can buy powerups as well, money is in chests as well as enemies, and you’ll need to break through walls and such to progress, so this is a quite nonstandard ‘shooter’, or puncher I guess. So, this game is unique, but is it good? Well, it’s okay, but not great. T his is a difficult game which shares some common flaws of European games of its day, including no invincibility on hit and no saving. The absence of hit invincibility means that if an enemy touches you you will lose health until you get away, so while you have a health bar, it’ll drain fast if you mess up. And since you have to get very close to enemies to hit them, you WILL mess up unless you are very good at this game. You attack with one button, and switch attack directions with a second. The third button enters shops. There is only one rotation button, so to you’ll need to hit that button three times to attack an enemy behind you if you are currently aiming down, for example. This is a real problem and makes an already difficult game harder. The game does look nice, though. The game has a good cartoony art style with an underwater theme, and nice parallax backgrounds as well. The European-cartoon look works great and makes the game fun to look at. I like the various silly enemies, including various fishes, crabs, robots, and more. The two player co-op play support is pretty nice as well. The music is decent, but forgettable, stuff, though, but overall the presentation is pretty good. The gameplay doesn’t quite match up, though.

The biggest problem with this game is the difficulty, with the bosses, controls, and that health system as major culprits. Having to get up very close to enemies in order to attack them can make for some tricky situations, and the boss fights in this game are a bit too hard. Those controls, with the clumsy single-button rotation system, make this worse. Bosses take a lot of hits to kill and can damage you quickly with cheap attacks you can’t avoid because of how close you have to get; the first boss is way harder than a first boss should be, and it only gets harder after that. You only get three lives per continue and three continues until it’s Game Over, start again from the beginning, if you even beat a level; levels are long, so this may or may not happen. I like the various weapons you can buy, though. You start out with only small fists to attack with, but as you progress the periodic shops will give you access to better weapons, and it’s a good idea to buy them if you can afford it. When you die and it’s not a game over you respawn where you died, and here you do have a moment of invincibility. You drop a weapon when you die, so make sure to pick it up if you can or else you’ll lose it. Despite the games issues playing Gadget Twins can be fun, particularly in co-op. The nice graphics and game variety add to the game, even if it’ll be a struggle to see much of it. Overall, though, Gadget Twins is an average game. It might be worth trying if you see it cheap and you have some tolerance for European games of this era. It’s also Genesis-exclusive, I don’t think it’s a port of some computer game.

Gaiares – 1 player. Gaiares is a very difficult, but popular, shmup from Telenet, published here by their US division Renovation. I’ve heard a lot about how good this game is, but it’s not one I had played much of until a few years ago. Once I did, though, I quickly found that its reputation for difficulty is very well earned. Gaiares reminds me a bit of Valis games or their extremely unpopular Turbo CD shmup Legion, in that enemies come at you very quickly and from all directions, making the game as much of a trial of frustrating memorization as it is anything else. I’ve never liked this style of Telenet game, and I don’t care for Gaiares either. Hard games can be fun, but this one isn’t, it’s just frustrating. The game does have some good points, though. The graphics are decent, with better visuals than many early Genesis releases. Still, compared to later Genesis games, Gaiares looks only okay. It does have parallax scrolling and some decent ship designs, but it’s nothing special either. The art design is decent, but not great, as usual from Telenet. The music is decent to good. It has some good compositions, but isn’t anything I find memorable. The game does have a surprisingly long intro cutscene, though the story is extremely generic and not that good. The evil female pirate ZZ Badnusty is threatening Earth, and you, male hero, and your prototype fighter are the only hope for the survival of the human species! With a game this hard humanity is probably doomed, sadly, though the whole ‘guy saves the day from the evil woman’ plot is definitely questionable. Gaiares has eight levels, all fairly long and difficult. At almost an hour for a longplay video, Gaiares is probably a bit above average for the time in length, among shmups. I’ve never gotten past level two or three, though; you have limited lives and continues here, of course.

In game design, this is mostly a conventional shooter, though you feel a bit under-powered, particularly if you aren’t powered up — and losing power is very easy. The game does have one unique feature here, though — Gaiares doesn’t have your usual weapon powerups. Instead, you have a special gun which takes the power of the enemy you shoot it into. As you shoot more enemies, or one enemy multiple times, the weapon will level up and increase your weapons’ power. You can get a shield and some helpers, but otherwise your powerups come from the enemies. It’s a good concept, thouhg you get de-leveled a bit too easily when you hit anything, and even with the stronger weapons your ship feels a bit weak. That’s fitting with the game in general, though. Gaiares is a punishing game. You get sent back to the last checkpoint when you die, and checkpoints are a bit far apart at times and it’s easy to lose weapon power as enemies zoom in at you fast and are hard to dodge at times. Still, the game can be fun to play; this is an okay game. Even so, I was hoping that I’d really like Gaiares, but I don’t. Maybe in 1990 this game was impressive, but later on the Genesis got many shmups far better than this one, that are actually fun to play, have better graphics and art design and even better music, and are just much better balanced all around. There is enough decent shooting action here that Gaiares is an average game overall that some people overrate. Fans of masochistically-hard shooters absolutely should check out Gaiares if they haven’t already, though others will probably want to stay away. Arcade port.

Garfield: Caught in the Act – 1 player, password save. Garfield: Caught in the Act is a platformer by Novotrade that was published by Sega in 1995. As a late release for the system you might expect well-polished visuals, and the game delivers. The gameplay isn’t nearly as good as the graphics are, but this game does look very, very good. This game may not be one of Sega’s better-known licensed Genesis releases, but it is a very nice-looking game with some beautiful visuals that captures the style of the comic strip well. I have always liked the comic strip Garfield even if it repeats the same few jokes endlessly, and this came captures the look of the series well. In this game Garfield broke his TV, and in his failed attempt to repair it created a monster machine which has warped him into his television! So, you’ve got to work your way out by collecting the TV remote at the end of each stage. The setup reminds me a bit of Gex, though this game isn’t as expansive as that one is. The game has fantastic use of color, and makes use of the Genesis’s rarely-used hardware shadow capabilities that allow the system to display more colors on screen than you usually see. I have no idea why more games didn’t use this function, but this game does at points and it looks great. Garfield is also very well animated, and looks different in each of the games’ six levels, fitting the theme of the stage, so he wears a pirate hat and uses a wooden sword in the pirate level, a vampire cape and shirt in the horror level, and such. It’s a nice touch.

However, things start going downhill as soon as you stop looking at the screen and start playing the game. Garfield’s controls are not precise; this game is slippery and frustrating to control. Garfield will constantly slip off of the edges of platforms you think you’re on, get hit by things that probably should have missed you, and such. This makes platforming kind of annoying. It also can sometimes be hard to tell what you can jump on and what you can’t, making jumping something of a guessing game at times. Fortunately the game doesn’t have much in the way of instant-death pits, but still, it is an issue. Your main attack is very short-ranged, as well, so it’s easy to get hit while trying to hit enemies. You can take ten hits before you lose a life, but running out isn’t hard with controls this hard to get used to. On top of that, the difficulty is unbalanced. The first level of this game is a somewhat frustrating one with some mazelike qualities to it, and the first boss isn’t easy either, and there is a puzzle element to the bossfight that is not obvious. Oddly, the second level and boss are quite a bit easier and more straightforward than the first, so if you can manage to keep playing past the bad first impression the game makes it does get easier, though it doesn’t get much more fun. In between levels are some amusing little bonus stages, and also a hub-world stage inside the television where you go from level to level.

It is great that the game has passwords, though; having any kind of save system is a somewhat uncommon thing in Genesis platformers. It’d have been nice if the game gave you passwords after each stage instead of only after you get game over, but having them at all is fantastic. Even so though, Garfield: Caught in the Act isn’t a very good game. With only six not-too-long levels, this is a very short game, first. If you don’t quit in irritation, this game won’t take long to finish. The game is also unbalanced and has some control problems. However, the game is beautiful to look at, and for Garfield fans it may be worth sticking with just to see what’s going to come next. The Vampire-Odie and Dino-Odie bosses are particularly clever. And though it is sometimes frustrating, it is nice that there is more to this game than just walking to the right and hitting things. Still, overall this game is disappointing. Only graphics and Garfield fans should check it out. Maybe watch a video of the game, it does look good.

Gargoyles – 1 player. Gargoyles for the Genesis was Disney’s first attempt at making a game itself, and not just farming out its licenses to external studios. They chose to make a Genesis-exclusive platform-action game, based on the pretty good TV series of the same name. Gargoyles was an interesting show with a darker tone than most Disney work, and I did like it at the time, though I didn’t play much of this game back then. You play as Goliath, the lead Gargoyle. The game is okay, but flawed. Somewhat similarly to other Disney games of the day such as Virgin’s The Lion King, the game has beautiful, impressive graphics, but iffy gameplay with poor combat and sometimes frustrating controls. And that’s really the contrast here, between the very good visuals and the often not-great gameplay. Copying Sonic much like a lot of platformers of the day, there are three levels in each setting, followed by a boss fight. Levels are usually fairly large, also, and take some time to traverse. This means that while the game looks great, you will be seeing a lot of each setting. Even if the environments repeat, though, the work done on environment and sprite design in this game is very impressive for the time. Characters also animate very well.

For the most part, graphics aside Gargoyles is a conventional Western platformer. The game has big levels, exploration, stuff to collect, platforms to jump between, and enemies to fight along the way. As you are a gargoyle, you have some great mobility in this game. Goliath can attach to and crawl along any non-spiky wall or ceiling surface, do a nice gliding double jump that adds a lot of distance, do a charge attack (run and then hit B), do a ground-strike (hit A while in the air), and more. While the controls are a bit frustratingly loose at times, I like the platform jumping, and the verticality in levels that your wall-climbing allows is great. However, combat here is pretty bad. While fighting B is your regular attack, and A plus a direction close to an enemy will grab and throw them. Regular enemies aren’t too hard to beat, though they can be annoying at times, but bosses are much harder, unless you find repeatable patterns you can get them in or exploit glitches. I beat the second boss by ducking right in front of him and then hitting B until he died, for instance… yeah. It took a while, but that’s much easier than the ‘real’ fight; that kind of bug should have been fixed. Fighting is this games’ biggest weakness, and there is a lot of it in the game. Still, I like some of the platforming challenges here. While levels are linear, you will often need to figure out some simple puzzles along the way, to find walls you need to break through with a charge, pull-chains that act as switches to turn on or off things you will need to progress, and such. I like some of the levels here, and figuring out each stage is fun, when the controls aren’t getting in your way. Overall, Gargoyles is an average game with great graphics but poor controls. There is enough to like here that it may be worth playing, both to see the various environments and for the platforming part of the game. Note that Gargoyles won’t work on a Genesis 3 system, and often doesn’t work on clone Genesis consoles, because it was programmed to use some hardware glitches that those systems fix.

Gauntlet IV – 1-4 player simultaneous (with multitap), password save (30-digit password for saving each character plus 10 digits for progress in the current dungeon). Gauntlet IV is a top-down multiplayer action-RPG in the great Gauntlet franchise. This Genesis version was made in Japan by M2 for Tengen, Atari Games’ console division. I’ve loved the Gauntlet games ever since I played the first game in an arcade, and it’s still a favorite series of mine. This Genesis Gauntlet release is an interesting, and sometimes overlooked, one. The game has four modes, Arcade, Quest, Battle, and Record. The game is one part upgraded port of the original arcade game, and one part all-new Gauntlet game with more RPG elements than any Gauntlet game before it. In Japan this game actually was just called Gauntlet, but they added the “IV” to the title for the US because the last Gauntlet release before this one here was “Gauntlet III” for the Lynx. This is a great game with good graphics and a fantastic soundtrack, and it’s a real under-rated classic of the Genesis library! It’s also interesting for being the only Japanese-made Gauntlet game, all others are American. The long passwords are kind of a pain, but they are one of the few problems with this great game. This is a Gauntlet game, so there are, as usual, four classes to choose from: Warrior, Wizard, Valkyrie, or Elf. They look and sound similar to the first game, but with better visuals than the NES versions, of course. Gauntlet IV looks good but not great. Arcus Odyssey and Dungeon Explorer for Sega CD both probably look better, but this is a decently nice looking game, and it plays fast, without slowdown. Each of the five areas does look different, which is nice. There are also voice clips for each character, just like the arcade original; this is something that the NES games didn’t have. The soundtrack is better, and really is a standout feature in the game.

The gameplay is standard Gauntlet action-RPG fun. You walk around exploring mazelike levels while killing the numerous enemies that spawn from monster generators as you look for exits. Shooting the generators levels them down, weakening the enemies which spawn from it, until finally they are destroyed. You start with a lot of health, but your health steadily drains, so you need to keep moving in order to not die. Gauntlet Legends’ home ports would finally get rid of this, and that was for the best, but this game does use it, unfortunately; it’s a feature put in to keep people pouring quarters into the machine that a home game didn’t need. At least you can buy health from the store; this isn’t something all Gauntlet Legends home ports let you do. Levels also have keys and magic potions. Using a potion kills the enemies on screen, and each key can open one door. There are multiple routes through each dungeon, so sometimes your choices for which doors to open do matter. That’s Gauntlet, and it’s a fantastic formula which is as great now as it ever has been. The main additions here are experience points and a money system, with a larger inventory beyond just magic potions. The NES version of Gauntlet also added in some RPG elements, but this game goes much farther with it. Fortunately it was well thought through here; the leveling system in this game is well-designed, unlike, say, Dungeon Explorer for Sega CD and its somewhat busted system. I like the addition of more items to buy too. Levels, and items you can buy from a store in the hub area, are ideas that Gauntlet Legends would pick up and expand on, but within the Gauntlet series they were here first.

While the version of arcade Gauntlet is pretty good and has a bunch of nice options including difficulty, continues, and more, I have barely touched the arcade side of this game; the main feature here is the original quest mode, and it’s great. In Quest mode, as in the main game each player chooses a character, or enters their 20-character password. The game has a hub area you start in, with four dungeons to play through and two shops to buy items from. Each dungeon has 20 levels and then a boss at the end. After you beat all four, then the fifth and final one unlocks, to go to the final boss, for a total of 100 stages. It’s a good-length game, but each stage doesn’t take too long, so this game probably isn’t too different in length from the later Gauntlet Legends games even though it has far more stages. If you can’t finish an entire dungeon in one sitting, you can get your password for the current dungeon; these are the 10-digit passwords. I guess you could have one for each dungeon if you’re working on all of them at the same time, but it’s a better idea to focus on one at a time. Your main character password will save if you’ve beaten a boss, but not progress in a dungeon. It’s better this way, 20 digits is long enough. As for the other two modes, the battle mode is a versus arena where players can fight eachother. It’s kind of pointless. Record mode is a bit more interesting, though. It’s basically the arcade game, but with passwords added, and you can’t die — instead you lose points when you lose health, which matters in this score-based mode. Remember that arcade Gauntlet is endless and just loops around to the start when you finish it, so score is the main reason to play it anyway. I like games to have endings, so this is one reason I prefer Quest mode, or NES Gauntlet 1, which also has bosses, passwords, and an ending.

In conclusion, Gauntlet IV is fantastic. I’ll get the flaws out of the way first: the passwords are long, graphics aren’t improved over the by-1993-dated original arcade game, and they kept the health-drain system. None are major problems. With either one player or four, Gauntlet IV is great fun. Of course, as with all Gauntlet games the game gets better with more players to work together with, but it is fun even by yourself. This game is a good reason to get a Genesis multitap, though. Exploring levels looking for hidden breakaway walls, fighting the enemies, collecting gold, magic, and keys, and upgrading in the shop all are great fun features. The soundtrack deserves the high praise it gets, also. The original Gauntlet was a brilliant game, and this collection here includes both a great port of the original game, a new spin on it in Record mode, and a fantastic RPG-ish Quest mode, all in one! This really is a must-have game and is one of the best action-RPGs of the 4th generation. The Gauntlet arcade game portion of this game is available on innumerable platforms in various forms, but this version, with all of the new added modes, is not available on any other platform so get it for the Genesis for sure.

General Chaos – 1-4 player simultaneous (with multitap). General Chaos is a combat-only action-real time strategy game published by EA. This is a unique and original game for the time, and seems to have been fairly popular. The game has a definite learning curve, but once you get used to it it’s pretty amusing. This is a short little game designed for replay and multiplayer more than anything, and it works as such. This game would be more fun with a mouse, but it is alright with a d-pad. The game has a handful of different maps, and in the main campaign mode you will see most of them as you try to conquer the other sides’ base. This game has no explanation for its war; Generals Chaos and Havok want to wipe eachother out. This is a cartoony game filled with silly graphics and animations. The game certainly doesn’t take itself seriously, which is a good thing. Each level is a single screen, which is great because you can see the whole area at once. Sprites are moderate-size, so General Chaos maps are pretty small. Still, each has a good amount of detail with various buildings, rivers, trees, and more to provide obstacles, and cover.

Most of the time this is a 5-vs-5 game. There are several different types of guys, each with different weapons. You control a cursor with which you control your team. A tells the team to start shooting at the nearest enemy, B tells the currently selected person to move to the point selected, and C switches team member. You can also call in medics to heal injured team members. If someone takes too much damage they will die, but unfortunately there are not visible damage meters displayed. You also can fist-fight enemies if you get close. The fist-fights can be difficult to win against the AI. The different weapons really are different, so you need to get used to how the machine gun, rocket launcher, grenades, and such each control. Fortunately there is a training mode in the main menu to help players learn how to play the game; make use of it, it’s very helpful. I should note, there is also one mode which gives you direct control of your characters, if you play as the Commandos team, but this team has only two guys, so winning will be tough. Still, it is a nice option.

A game of General Chaos can seem, well, chaotic, as the ten guys on screen run around and shoot eachother, but there is method to the madness. Once you get the hang of it, General Chaos is a fun little strategy game. There are a lot of much better real-time strategy games out there on the PC, particularly, but for a Genesis game this simple, combat-focused design works well. This game really gets good in multiplayer, though; in single player it’ll probably get old after a few games. But if you can play this game with others, it’s worth taking the time for everyone to learn the controls, it’ll be fun stuff. The two player mode allows for full strategy battles, or in 3 or 4 player mode (or 2 player co-op) all human players play as Commando teams. This restriction is perhaps unfortunate, but it is understandable; these maps are barely large enough for 10 players, they could not fit the 20 players 4 full teams would require. So yeah, pick up General Chaos if you see it cheap, or want to play a unique RTS-action hybrid title. You can’t play it anywhere other than on the Genesis, either; EA has never ported or re-released the game.

Genesis 6-Pak – 1 player or 1-2 player depending on game. One game has saving. The Genesis 6-pak is a 6-in-1 cartridge Sega released in the US. The cart includes Golden Axe, Streets of Rage, Columns, Sonic the Hedgehog, Revenge of Shinobi, and Super Hang-On. I review each of the six games separately, at their places in the alphabet; I decided to count them as separate games in my collection, even though I only have most of them in this collection; I do have a Sonic 1 cart, but not the others. This is an absolutely fantastic collection of early first-party Genesis games that all Genesis owners should definitely own! It’s an easy, and cheap, way to get a whole bunch of mostly very good games. Of the six games here, only one, Super Hang-On, isn’t that good; the other five are great at minimum. Definitely pick up this fantastic collection of some of the best early Genesis games. Sonic the Hedgehog and Golden Axe are my favorites here, and both are among the better games on the Genesis, too. The first Sonic the Hedgehog is a bit of an under-rated game, today; it’s still really good, I don’t agree with the critics at all! This specific collection isn’t available elsewhere, but all of the included games have been included in various collections and digital re-releases of Genesis games.

Ghouls ‘N Ghosts – 1-2 player alternating. Ghouls n Ghosts, originally released in arcades by Capcom and ported to the Genesis by Sega, is the sequel to Ghosts n Goblins for the arcade and NES. This game is the second game in this somewhat long-running series, and it is fairly well remembered. Ghouls n Ghosts is a cartoony-horror-themed platform-action game. This was an early release for the Genesis, releasing in 1989, and it is one of the few 1989 Genesis releases that legitimately is a great game. The Genesis has a great library, but its first year had only a few hits, including this, Truxton, and Golden Axe. As always in the main series you play as Arthur, a knight in armor who must rescue his kidnapped girlfriend Princess Prinprin from the demon armies who keep taking her. As always Arthur can’t control his movement while jumping, so jumps are harder here than in most platformers. You do have a double jump, but be careful because it’s easy to accidentally double jump into an enemy or pit. Enemies will often rise up out of the ground in front of you, so be careful as you move around.

This series is infamous for its extreme challenge, but this Genesis version of Ghouls n Ghosts is as easy as a game in this series gets; indeed, I beat this game on the easier difficulty in a couple of days without too much trouble, even though I’ve never even finished level two of the third game in this series, Super Ghouls n Ghosts on the SNES, despie many attempts! It really is that much easier, and more fun, than that game. There are several reasons why. First, you have infinite continues in this game, and always continue from the last checkpoint even after getting a game over, so you will never have to replay levels from the start. This is fantastic and makes the game more fun than the first or third games, which aren’t so kind. This game also has fewer levels than Super G&G, so though as with all games in the series you need to play through the game twice to win, it won’t take as long. I don’t mind the shorter length. The levels also aren’t quite as crazy-hard as some stages in SG&G. And last, in this game you can attack up and down as well as left or right. That sure would have been nice to have in Ghosts n Goblins and SG&G! There is plenty of challenge to be wfound here though, particularly in the harder difficulty setting, but for me this game is an approachable challenge, while SG&G is just near-impossibly frustrating.

Visually, Ghouls & Ghosts looks good, but not great. This is an early release, and while the game is a reasonably good approximation of the arcade original, it is a bit downgraded visually versus the arcade. There are a nice variety of enemies, and lots of obstacles to face. The music is good as well, and fits the series well. On the whole, Ghouls & Ghosts is a pretty good game. This game surprised me, after playing its SNES sequel I was not expecting to like this game at all, but I do. Of the main-series G&G titles, the Genesis version of Ghouls n Ghosts is my favorite. The game looks okay and plays quite well, and has some design choices that make it a more approachable and fun game than the others. The difficulty is balanced perfectly, with an easier default setting and much tougher hard mode available. Ghouls & Ghosts is short but fun. I’d definitely recommend this game to anyone who likes platformers, Ghosts n Goblins-series fan or not. Arcade port. There is also a PC Engine SuperGrafx version of this game from Hudson under its Japanese title, Daimakaimura. The SuperGrafx version was only released in Japan, since that system only released there, but it has better, more detailed graphics than the Genesis game. The core game is the same, though. The arcade version is also available in some collections of Capcom arcade games.

G-LOC: Air Battle – 1 player. G-LOC is a port of the Sega arcade rail shooter game of the same name. This is a jet-fighter game and effectively is a spiritual sequel to Sega’s earlier classic jet-fighter rail shooter After Burner. I remember playing the arcade game back in the early ’90s. I did not have many experiences in arcades playing After Burner, or at least I don’t remember it if I did, but I definitely played G-LOC. I thought arcade G-LOC was a pretty good game, but hadn’t played much of this Genesis port until not all that long ago. When I finally bought a copy of the cart earlier this year I was not expecting good things, but the game very pleasantly surprised me. G-LOC is not perfect, but it is about as good as a Sega super scaler arcade game to Genesis port could be. Yes, I think this game, on the Genesis, is pretty good! G-LOC is now easily my favorite first-party rail shooter on the Genesis, though it isn’t an A-grade game, none of the Sega rail shooters that gen are because of the compromises versus the arcade originals. G-LOC is a simple game. You are a fighter pilot, and have to take down huge numbers of incoming enemy fighters. You fly along automatically, dodge a bit, and shoot at the enemy planes, but it’s good, exciting fun. The software scaling here is jerky, but looks a lot better than the awful, eye-pain-inducing hideousness of Sega’s early “scaler” Genesis games such as Super Thunder Blade, Space Harrier II, or Outrun. This is a midlife title for the Genesis, and it benefits from its later release. The game has some low-flying ‘bombing’ missions mixed in with the regular air combat. They have some choppy-looking walls on the sides, but still nothing is as bad as the framerate in those aforementioned games. The sprites and backgrounds all look pretty nice and a lot like the arcade game. The pilots and ground scenes are drawn in a realistic style, so though this is a port of a Japanese arcade game it doesn’t look it. The style looks good here, though like After Burner it probably was inspired by Top Gun.

This game distinguishes itself from After Burner in its perspective. While that game is mostly behind-the-plane, G-LOC largely takes place inside the cockpit. In in-cockpit sections you cannot freely fly around the screen, but instead can only sort of dodge a bit in any direction with the d-pad, as you move the cursor. Dodging is critical, though, as you need to stay out of the way of incoming enemy missiles! Either shoot them or dodge them, one or the other. Enemies come in waves, and this game breaks things up into short timed segments. That is probably G-LOC’s most distinguishing element, and I like it because it keeps the pace up. You’re always facing new waves and new challenges in this game. In each wave, you need to shoot down a set number of enemy planes or ground targets, and have a very limited amount of time to do it in. You have two weapons, a machine gun with unlimited ammo, and a limited quantity of missiles. Missiles will lock on automatically to enemies in the targeting box in the center of the screen. It’s best to use the gun when you can to conserve missile ammo, but hitting enemies with it can be tricky, so you’ll need to use both weapons to succeed. If you succeed at hitting the required amount, time is added to the clock and it’s on to the next wave. If you don’t, you will have to try again, and if time runs out it’s Game Over. You do get a couple of continues, but they are limited, so even though this is a short game it will take practice to beat. The game has several main missions, and between missions you go to a briefing room where you can buy missiles, ammo, and armor for your plane. It’s best to take as much ammo and armor as you can, generally. You ‘spend’ your score as currency, here; it’s a simple system that works. And then it’s on to the next mission and some more high-tempo blasting. G-LOC is a good game, and I was relieved to see that the Genesis port is good. I’d been kind of afraid to try the Genesis version of this for years because of my good memories of the arcade game compared to how poor Sega’s earlier scaler rail shooters are on this system, but it’s a good B-grade game that looks and plays great. G-LOC absolutely is a must-play game for rail shooter fans. Arcade port. There is also a Game Gear version of G-LOC, which is far better than you might think a GG version of G-LOC possibly could be. Some people even like that version more than this one, though I do prefer the Genesis game. Both are well worth playing, though.

Golden Axe – 1-2 player simultaneous. I have this in the Genesis 6-Pak collection. Sega’s Golden Axe is one of the greatest classic arcade beat ’em ups of the 1980s. This is a side-view isometric beat ’em up, and it’s a very good one. I have loved this game ever since I first played it, and still think it’s a great game and one of the best beat ’em ups ever. Golden Axe is a somewhat dark fantasy game set in a world of magic and monsters. The games’ world is interesting and unique. You will ride small dinosaur-like creatures, travel in giant animals across the sea, and fight innumerable hordes of orc, lizardman, and skeleton enemies, among others. The game has fantastic art design, with that classic late ’80s Sega look. The art design here is similar to Altered Beast, except here the game is actually good. You can play as three characters in Golden Axe: Ax Battler, Tyris Flare, or Gillius Thunderhead. Despite his name, Ax Battler uses a sword, oddly enough. Ax and Tyris are barbarian-styled characters like something out of Conan, while Gillius is a fairly stereotypical dwarf. Each character plays a bit differently, and has different magic as well. Magic is collected as a pickup, and fills a meter. When you use magic, you will get the spell of the level the meter is full up to, but it will drain empty. The sequels add the ability to use only some magic, but in this first game you have to use it all. You do more damage the more magic you use. Each character plays about as expected from their character types — Gillius is slow and has weak magic, but has strong attacks, Ax is in the middle, and Tyris is fast and has stronger magic but weaker attacks. Visually Genesis Golden Axe can’t match the arcade game, of course, but it does about as well as a 1989 Genesis game could have. The low game-size does show, but still, it’s a great version of the game, and looks far better than the Turbo CD version of Golden Axe. The music is great as well, and is a very good recreation of the classic arcade soundtrack.

The gameplay is simple, but works well. You can attack and jump, as usual in this genre. The running charge attacks are key to survival, as enemies will often come at you from both sides. One thing that makes combat a bit more interesting in this game than some beat ’em ups are the level designs. Golden Axe isn’t like one of those Capcom beat ’em ups where you just follow a straight path to the right; no, it’s got interesting, twisting levels, among the better in the genre. There are many pits to avoid and jump over, multi-level areas to navigate, and more. You can often exploit the levels to lure enemies into pits and such, which is always great fun when you can manage it. The AI will usually come straight at you, so use this to your advantage. Unfortunately boss rooms never have pits… ah well. I strongly prefer the more varied, multi-level, twisting levels found in games like this series or TMNT III for the NES over those bland just-walk-to-the-right levels of too many other games in this genre. The levels tie in to the story in interesting ways, too. “Turtle Village” is more than just a name, in a pretty cool way. Everything from the arcade game is here, and a new final level has been added to the end, too, to add a bit more to the game. There is also a somewhat pointless two player versus mode added, though as usual with such things in beat ’em ups it’s not very fun; these games aren’t designed for that kind of fight. Golden Axe is not a long game, but it is quite difficult, and I have only ever managed to beat the shortened Easy mode; I have gotten to the real final boss on Normal, the first difficulty that allows you to play that new final level, but he’s crazy-hard and always kills me. It’s a fun challenge though, and I will keep trying for sure. You get a couple of continues, but not infinite.

Overall Golden Axe is a game I’ve loved ever since the late ’80s, and it still holds up very well today. This is a simple game, as you walk around hitting baddies and trying to lure them into pits without falling in yourself, but with great art design, good gameplay, some of the better level designs in the genre, and good music, Golden Axe is still fantastic with either one or two players. I know most people don’t like this game quite as much as I do, but this is absolutely an A-grade classic in my book. Absolute must-have stuff. Arcade port. This game is available in collections and digital re-releases of Sega’s Genesis games, and it is usually the Genesis version Sega ports and not the arcade original. Golden Axe was also ported to many other platforms by various developers — the game is on Turbo CD (done incredibly badly by Telenet, do not buy this), Sega Master System (okay for the SMS, but far worse than on Genesis, and you can only play as Ax), and a bunch of computers — Amiga, Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC, PC (DOS), Atari ST, and ZX Spectrum. Some of the computer versions are Europe-only. Neither the Turbo CD nor SMS versions have multiplayer, so get this Genesis version for sure.

Golden Axe II – 1-2 player simultaneous. Note that you need to hold down the 6-button controllers’ Mode on power on if you want to use 6-button controllers with this game. Golden Axe II is, basically, more Golden Axe. This game plays a lot like the first game I love, but with new levels, new enemies, some new features, and new graphics and music. Again Ax, Tyris, and Gillius are off to defeat an evil demon lord and his legion of skeleton and monster followers. Golden Axe II is a Genesis original, not an arcade port, and doesn’t change much versus the arcade version, but I am okay with that; the base formula was fantastic, so why change it? The few changes that are made here are improvements, though. First, the graphics are a bit better than the Genesis version of the first game. Golden Axe II has a larger cart size, and it does show. The first game still looks great, but there is a bit more detail this time. The music is just as good as before, and I like the new tracks. In gameplay, for the most part everything is the same. The biggest change is the improved magic system. Now you can choose to use only some magic in your meter, instead of having to use it all any time you press the button; just hold the button down to select what spell power to unleash. It’s a nice improvement which does make a difference sometimes. The new levels are in new settings, but the general design styles are the same as the first game, with stages full of variety, including pits, paths in various directions, and more. Enemy AI is about the same as before, so it’s still not hard to lure enemies into pits. Yes, I like this even if some don’t. It is a bit disappointing that no levels have stage concepts as cool as the turtle or eagle levels from the first game, but otherwise this game has great level designs, as expected from a Golden Axe game. Just as before thre are three difficulties, and the easy one doesn’t let you play the final stage. I wish they let you play the whole game in any setting, but oh well, it works as it is. Overall game difficulty is very similar to the first game, so it’s well balanced between fun and challenge. This game is just as much fun to play as the first game is, and I like playing it a lot. But that’s pretty much it; Golden Axe II is, overall, a sequel very similar to its predecessor. If you like Golden Axe as I do, it’s an absolute, definite must-own classic, but if you don’t, this won’t change your mind. This game is available in collections and digital re-releases of Sega’s Genesis games.

[Golden Axe III – 1-2 player simultaneous. I do not have this game for Genesis, but do have it in several Genesis classic collections, for Xbox 360 and PSP, so I guess I should mention it. I won’t mention other games I only have in those collections, so far at least, but have to say a bit about this one. Golden Axe III is a somewhat controversial game. This game has a poor reputation, but it’s a bit undeserved. This game wasn’t released in the US on cartridge, sadly; it was one of Sega’s Sega Channel download service-exclusive games, along with some other great games such as Pulseman, Alien Soldier, and others. The game has a new cast to play as, a new look that sets it apart from the first two game, and some gameplay changes, but it is still recognizable as a Golden Axe game. I like the level designs, which if anything are even bigger and more varied than before. The new player characters are similar to the originals, but fit in well. This is a pretty good, misunderstood beat ’em up that is a lot better than some people give it credit for. The original Golden Axe probably always will be my favorite, but both of its sequels on the Genesis are great games as well. Japan-exclusive on Genesis as a physical cart, only released in the West in the Sega Channel digital-download service for Genesis (and thus inaccessible since you could not save things there, only play them while power is on) and in digital re-release collections of Genesis games on newer platforms.]

Greendog: The Beached Surfer Dude – 1 player. Greendog is a decent little platformer published by Sega and made by an American team. In this Carribean-themed game you play as Greendog, a surfer in a red knee-length bathing suit who has lost his ability to surf because he picked up a cursed talisman. Oh, and when near people, they freak out because of the talismans’ powers, but he cares more about the no-surfing part. Greendog can skateboard and rollerblade just fine, though; only surfing was affected, for whatever reason. You’re off on a quest through six Caribbean islands, visiting various local sites and ancient Aztec ruins, to collect the six parts needed to remove the talisman’s curse. Conveniently someone (his girlfriend?) knows exactly what he needs to do to get rid of this awful curse… that sure was convenient. As a kid, I disliked this games’ cover art; I thought the art style looked ugly. I didn’t play too much of the game as a result. When I finally got the game several years ago, though, I found that the game is better than I gave it credit for back then. That cover art is kind of bad, and I still don’t love Greendog’s look, but the game itself is a fun, competent platformer. Greendog is a slow-paced game, and isn’t anything great, but it is at least average, and I like seeing the various environments as you progress through the game. Each of the six islands is broken up into three parts. First is a level or two on the island. Each island has a different theme here, whether it is on the beach, in a city, underwater, or more. Second, you go through an Aztec temple stage, to find the islands’ piece of the talisman. Some of the temples have boss fights against stone totem-like foes. And last, there is a silly pedal-copter flight to the next island, as Greendog flies himself from island to island by foot power. Heh. The game repeats this formula to the end, but there is enough variety between stages that the game stays fun, even if every island has some similar backgrounds. You have two continues before you have to start the game over.

The game has a cartoony art style, and I don’t particularly like the look of the characters, but the visuals are okay overall. The background graphics are somewhat realistic, in contrast to the cartoony sprites. The backgrounds are reasonably well drawn, though there is a lot of dithering. The music tries to sound like steel-drum music, and such; it’s nice and fits the setting well. The game does use that unpopular GEMS music-creation system, but while the Genesis can do far more complex audio than this, I like the results here. In terms of gameplay, Greendog has okay but slow controls. Perhaps the slow pace is designed to fit the stereotype of Caribbean island life, or perhaps it’s just to fit the gameplay, but either way, Greendog walks slowly and there is no run button. When jumping you can control your movement in the air, but as adjustments are slow, you need to plan falls in advance. The same goes for attacking. You attack with a frisbee, or something like that, and it tosses out at a bit of a delay. You’ll get used to the timing fairly quickly. Some levels are faster-paced stages where you use a skateboard or rollerblades; these will take practice to get right and can be frustrating. Hit those jump pads perfectly! In the levels, for the most part this is a straightforward platformer where you follow an obvious route, but there are some optional side areas with items that give you points or, sometimes, powerups to find if you want. Many levels have these annoying bounce pads or other such obstacles which knock you back some in the level, but those aren’t so bad compared to the instant-death pits that start appearing more often in the second half of the game. Greendog starts out easy, but the second half is much tougher, so this game will take practice to get deep into. At least when you just get knocked back, you can try again. Overall, Greendog is a fun little game. It’s slow-paced and simple, and the game has no depth, but I like the somewhat realistic backgrounds, the steel-drum soundtrack, and the gameplay. Greendog isn’t great, but it is a fun little above average game, and it’s worth a try. There is also a Game Gear version of Greendog, though it’s a somewhat different game.

Gunstar Heroes – 1-2 player simultaneous. Gunstar Heroes is a very popular run & gun game from Treasure and published by Sega. Gunstar Heroes is indeed great, though I don’t love it as much as some. This is a crazy, fast-paced shooter with good graphics and art design. The game constantly is tossing new challenges at you, either in short platform/shooting segments, or mine cart rides where you jump between the top and bottom of the screen to avoid enemies, or in one level a giant board game. But always there are bosses, a lot of bosses. Treasure loved their boss fights, and you see that here. Gunstar Heroes does have stages too, and they are occasionally challenging, but it’s the bosses where most of the challenge, and game, lies. You play as Red or Blue, two soldier guys, and have to save the world from an evil guy and his henchmen, all named for colors as well. The game has a light, silly tone to it as usual in Treasure’s games of the time and the art design is great. The game is visually impressive as well, with some scaling and rotation effects, large amounts of sprites on screen with a minimum of slowdown or flicker, and more. With variety, technical prowess, good art design, and more, Gunstar Heroes looks great. The music is good, up-tempo work, and fits the action well.

Ingame, the game controls well and your characters are responsive. You have two firing modes, locked (you can aim any direction but can’t move while shooting) or free (you can shoot while moving, but it’ll be harder to shoot in a specific direction). Frustratingly, you can’t switch between these during play as you should be able to; instead, you are stuck with only one or the other, chosen at the menu at the beginning of the game. This really is a mistake they should have fixed, each is useful at different times. Also, as with Dynamite Headdy, sometimes the screen is perhaps TOO busy and filled with stuff. You take damage easily, and don’t have invincibility after being hit. You do have a starting 120 health per life, so it will take a while to die, but if you’re not paying attention it can go quickly. It can feel unfair sometimes when you get cornered by a foe. There are health powerups, but they are few and far between. Making things worse, if you die you go back to the last checkpoint. You do have infinite continues in this game, which is nice. Despite that, I’ve never gotten anywhere near the end; I always give up somewhere in the middle at a tough boss. And more often than not that boss is Seven Force, a very tough seven-stage boss that takes up a large chunk of one of the levels. That board game can be a sticking point as well, in that level. The game does let you play the first four levels, against the four underlings, in any order, and that’s great, but the game won’t save your progress and can be difficult, so you do need to leave the system on for some time or keep trying in order to finish this. And while the game definitely is good, I haven’t liked it quite enough to do that, so far at least.

The game does have a good weapon system, though. You can have two weapons at once, and can switch between them with the A button, or use both for a combined weapon. There is a different power for each combination of base weapons, giving a decent-sized arsenal. Different weapons are useful at different times, but I do like the homing weapons a lot. Overall Gunstar Heroes is a very good run & gun action game. It really showed off what Treasure can do, and helped make their name. The co-op play is great fun as well. While I like the game a lot, I’m not one of the games’ diehard fans; this isn’t my favorite run & gun on the system as I do like Contra Hard Corps and Adventures of Batman & Robin a bit more. Still, all three are among the best run & guns ever, and you can’t go wrong with Gunstar Heroes. It’s absolutely a must-play title. This game has been re-released in various collections and digital re-releases of Genesis games. The game has a Game Gear version that was, stupidly, only released in Japan. The game is based on the Genesis game, but with downgrades to fit the lesser power of the GG. For the GG it’s a great, very impressive game, and I quite like it; it’s one of the best action games on the system. The game also has a sequel, Gunstar Super Heroes for the Game Boy Advance. That is a very good game that I like more than this Genesis game; it’s similar to the original, but is improved in enough ways that I like it more overall even though it’s single player only.

About Brian

Computer and video game lover
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