It’s been kind of a shit week. Away from home again for work (though I won’t have to do this bullshit again for some time, and money is money). My body is hurting again. People are being generally terrible in my direction and it makes my brain feel bad. I will spare you all a moody, “I’m mad at stuff” post that I was originally going to write. Instead, I will simply refuse to let the bad times get me down, and write about things that are cool.
Realizing over these last few months that I pretty much only give a fuck about retro games, fast cars, or retro games about fast cars. I’ve talked about the PC Engine being God’s favorite console. Brought up my love of the original Playstation and the Game Boy. But my actual, all-time, no bullshit favorite system is the Sega Genesis. Or the much better sounding Mega Drive everywhere else in the world. I want to talk about that system today.
I guess to be more specific, I want to talk about the early days of that system. Some of the games that came out at the dawn of the systems life, as it tried to find an identity in a time where Nintendo and NEC were the big boys. There’s this aesthetic that’s hard to explain in this era; this transitional period from the 80s to the 90s that I really like. It’s weird, and it’s probably only in my head, like people who long for the “old days” of non-existent bullshit like the Andy Griffith Show, except my nostalgia is a little less racist.
Anyways. Here’s some stuff I’ve been playing to pass the time until I’m finally back home where all my stuff and a comfortable bed is.
Kujaku Oh 2/Mystic Defender
Let’s start this out with a real banger. Mystic Defender (not to be confused with Mystic Fighter, which is among the worst games on the system) fucking fucks. This is one of those Mega Drive games with that look: this dark, murky, “late night” graphic design that would just as easily be home in a campy exploitation film you watch with your friends on a Saturday night. You run around, shooting psychic Hadoukens at monks and giant bugs. It’s cool as hell.
I’m playing the Japanese version of the game. 1) I think the character sprite looks cooler in this one. 2) It removes the evil SJW censorship, in that humans no longer have a blue skin tone, despite exploding and melting the exact same way. The late 80s had a strange concept of morality.
In any case, this now means that I can be the Ultimate Edgelord and set babies on fire.
Check out what happens when you shoot them.
Such a wonderful game for an immature idiot like me. It’s short, but fun, a term that will be used to describe many games in this post.
Rambo III- Dedicated to the brave Mujahadeen fighters of Afghanistan
I suppose it’s appropriate to talk about this one, given today’s news of John Rambo being the latest character in Mortal Kombat 11, a game that I actually really enjoy despite everything. It might also mark the first time there’s ever been a good Rambo game, if only by proxy.
Really, that’s kind of the fucked up thing here. Like, how do you manage to fuck up making a good game about Rambo? It is literally based on a movie about a guy running around and shooting things. It was the 80s! Reactionary power fantasies were all the rage! The thing about games, especially during this time, was their ability to take creative license with the properties they were based on. And yet Sega couldn’t make this boring piece of shit interesting. Hell, Rambo itself is the result of creative license. Sylvester Stallone saw this tale of a tortured, murderous Vietnam veteran and said “Wow! Cool robot!” decades before the guy who created that meme was even born. Seriously, read the book and be mind-boggled over how Hollywood took that dark tale and managed to wring out several sequels, games, a cartoon, toys, and all types of shit that shows just how little studio execs have changed in regards to being stupid as fuck and not being immune to military propaganda. Also the game is bad. Mostly because it is so boring! You shoot some generic probably Russians, and then navigate a bunch of big, boring ass mazes until you turn the game off, all the while feeling like you just opened up a Vietnamese child’s Shoeshine box. Johnny, I want to go home. I want to go home, Johnny.
There would be better shooters on the system. Better games blindly influenced by media made by dudes who just finished jerking off to a picture of Reagan. Play those instead.
Oh, and the iconic “Rambo Knife” is completely fucking useless in-game. Way to go, Sega.
Revenge of Shinobi
Shit, I didn’t mean to be so negative and long-winded on that last one. Revenge of Shinobi is a bit uh, complicated. There’s a lot to like about the game, and it is a certified classic. But fuck me, dude, there’s a lot of shit to hate in here, too. For one thing, this game is way too fucking hard. And not in the good way. Enemies attack you from off-screen. There’s a lot of blind jumps to make, often times with an enemy off-screen ready to attack you as soon as you make that landing. When (not if) you get hit, you go flying backwards. Pray there’s no bottomless pit behind you. Level 2 is particularly egregious here, especially as it’s hard as shit to see anything, given the enemies match the background.
But then everything else is great! Audio/Visual wise? It still looks great now. And of course, like everyone else who has ever written about Revenge of Shinobi, I’m legally obligated to bring up Yuzo Koshiro’s incredible soundtrack. Yes, it is as great as any piece of music you will hear, in games or otherwise. “China Town” is a particular favorite of mine.
The other thing I’m required by law to bring up is the game’s flagrant disregard for copyright law, something that warms my cold leftist heart.
The game rules, but I do wish it wasn’t such a pain in the ass to play sometimes. If you’re going to play it, play REVISION 00, as that one doesn’t have the SJW Censorship that is “slightly altering sprites so as to not look like copyrighted things.”
Super Fucking Hang-On
Ah yeah baby, I saved the best for last. Fuck what you’ve heard, Super Hang-On owns. For one thing, the racing is actually fun. Given that this came out in a time where ports of or attempts at replicating Super Scaler arcade games were a goddamn joke, this is nothing short of a miracle. Sure, it’s not nearly as fast as its arcade counterpart, but that don’t matter. What the console port has is “Original Mode.”
Original Mode is where the real meat of the game is. You don’t just race; you race, and then buy better bike parts when you win. You have rivals to beat, sponsors to impress, mechanics to fire when your muffler fucking falls off again for no discernable reason what the fuck. It’s surprisingly compelling, even now in this post-GT, post-Forza world, where this sort of thing is de rigueur. Obviously, an arcade port from 1989 is not going to feature the most detailed realism, but again, this doesn’t matter.
It’s funny, I had mentioned that I thought Satoru Nakajima F-1 Super License was among the best racing games on the system. It still is, mind you, but I had completely forgotten about this game when I had written that. What makes that funny is that I’ve liked Super Hang-On since I was a kid, long before I had any interest in motor sport. I wasn’t super into it the way I would have been with Sonic or Streets of Rage, but it was a fun little game to throw in every so often. I spent pretty much an entire night this week playing the Original Mode, making it to the final track, trying to save my money for the best possible parts, instead of having to repair broken ones I already had.
I think this balancing act of upgrade vs forced repairs is what does it for me. Obviously, this is not on the level of R: Racing Evolution’s sports manga take on the sport, but there was clearly an attempt to add some sort of drama to the game. Managing finances and building up a support team, all while dealing with some shit-talking asshole who thinks they’re better than you. I think once again, Nakajima comes in second here, and Super Hang-On is the best racer on the Genesis.