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Mega Drive. Yeah!


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I got so sidetracked with the Lord Monarch English translation that it was pretty much the only videogame I played for a good month. In fact I'm still playing it (despite being hitting new brick walls in all three branches of the game), finding improving results from better tactics on past conquests really satisfying.

 

It's absolutely my game of 2020, the one I've lost sleep and all sense of time playing..but my longer term of plan of eventually finishing all the decent MD shooters got a look in today too, and I unexpectedly ended up completing Advanced Busterhawk Gleylancer.

 

I last played it maybe 9 or 10 months back, and could comfortably get to a section in level 4 before I fell apart, but today somehow I pulled through, managed to play well and loved learning every new stage as they really do offer new challenges and unique puzzles, none of which drag on or get cheap. That's eleven stages of ideas that don't get recycled and are delivered with a nice structure: each one has several nicely placed checkpoints and plenty of choices for power ups - you're never screwed over if you die - and infinite continues which start you at the beginning of the stage. 

 

One surprise though was how the bosses were more fun than taxing - not exactly a walkover but definitely less challenging than the stages. Even the final boss with its five forms - it's was a great time.

 

Anyway, I used 8 continues to do it and think I could easily whittle it down to a handful now I know the game, and my best credit got me just over 800,000 points - enough for 4 bonus lives. It also has cut scenes that look straight out of a PC Engine CD game, really excellent quality.

 

Look I rescued my dad

 

 

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On 21/12/2020 at 01:07, RastanSaga said:

Zero Wing is magic!

 

I always preferred Hellfire personally, finding some of the level designs a bit empty and the using-an-enemy-as-a-shield mechanic completely redundant..but a couple of the arrangements of the tunes are amazing, *much* improved from the originals.

 

I tried to complete it a few months back or so and had to give up on the penultimate boss after maybe 20 credits worth of tries. One day in the future I'll get to that stage, hold on to my power ups and do that sucka in before he does me, with some luck.

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I have been playing Monster World 3, AKA Wonder Boy in Monster World. This is part of an informal series playthrough I seem to be doing.

 

It’s an odd bird. Combines the open-world elements of Dragon’s Trap with the more traditional human-based combat of Monster Land. But the world doesn’t have the rigour of Dragon’s Trap, with barriers seeming artificial and the whole thing feeling less organic. It also somewhat shoots itself in the foot right from the get go by making your character so bloody slow - it’s only after about three boot upgrades that I’m moving at an acceptable speed. Similarly, the range on your first few weapons is awful, and the two combine to take away the wonderful slippery attack-while-slowing-down inertia that the other games had. The rechargeable magic system is pretty cool, although I keep forgetting to use it. Oh, and the racist jungle people caricature enemies are not cool (worse than the ones in the Seiken Densetsu series).

 

But despite all that, I’m enjoying it. Combat is varied with pretty tough enemies right from the early game. The spear-spin move is very cool. The frequent references to the previous games keep me smiling, and there’s some great FM music in there.

 

MW4 next, then Monster Boy!

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Wonder Boy in Monster World was the first game I put time into when I got my Mega Drive up a running again but a kinda lost interest a few hours in, forgetting where exactly I was meant to be going. Last memories of it involve going round in circles exploring under the sea and not knowing if I'd missed an important item. 

 

I found racist representation of indigenous folk jarring too - they were introduced with literally boiling a kidnapped townsmember in the jungle if I recall - but the original game had a blond kid casually & unnecessarily massacring tribesmen too.

 

Monster World IV was a game I bludgeoned my way through during a time when the best option I had for Mega Drive games was emulation on a 3DS. The dungeons were really long and involved, the graphics and sound top tier..but the game was pretty much completely linear. It also had a particulaly cool throwback to Monster Land of which I won't spoil here.

 

I don't consider myself to have finished this one either as I was using save states pretty liberally near the end. 

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Gleylancer is done; I scraped through with a one credit clear (on my very last life). There are still many sections I haven't mastered, and on this winning run I lost several lives on bits I've never died on before - so unlike a few other MD shooters I can 1CC I'm not super confident I could do it again. Definitely not ready to tackle Hard Mode.

 

But it is done. The tension and thrill from this kind of challenge is why when all is said and done I love the action game library of the Mega Drive so much. The adrenaline is still rushing. 

 

 

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I finished Golden Axe II the other day, it's about twice as long as the first game but half as memorable. It's very playable and has some great tunes but the stages are so boring compared to the original game. Great final boss location and theme though:

 

 

 

 

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The issue of Golden Axe vs its Mega Drive sequels is an interesting one for me.

 

Personally, I've never bothered to get too far into GAII or GAIII because - for me - they lack character and to put it bluntly feel like low budget slapped together bootlegs in comparison, lacking visual flair in particular.

 

The music compositions in GAII are good but they aren't enough to carry it.

 

The original game was super short but the storytelling through the locales and atmosphere was peerless and enemies distinctive. It also had great pacing and a score worthy of an actual fantasy epic (as illustrated by multiple excellent orchestrated versions recorded over the years).

 

However - I've noticed that younger players coming at the MD trilogy with fresh eyes fail to see what the fuss is about with the first one and see each sequel as a clear improvement over the last, citing deeper play mechanics, more challenge, content and variety.

 

They're seen as straight up 'better' games...which suggests that the preference for the OG Golden Axe is more rooted in nostalgia than objectivity, an idea I'm generally on board with in other cases.

 

I guess this means giving either GA home sequel a proper open-minded bash (i.e. an attempt at full completion)..

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^^^ That Sonic 1 proto is why several entire communities surrounding beta / unreleased game preservation exist. It's the holiest grail. Very cool news for Sonic nuts for sure.

 

As far as Paprium - AKA the most controversial drama filled Mega Drive homebrew of all time - goes, the dust hasn't settled but man it's got some tunes on it. One cut - the opener on one of the main modes called Bone Crusher - is something I really want the vgm of (if it's possible to run straight off a normal machine).

 

It's here in this partial recording of the soundtest (should autoplay at 16:05). It bangs pretty hard, appropriately:

 

 

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10 minutes ago, phillv85 said:

I got my copies of Paprium yesterday and had a few games on it today. It’s ok, certainly not SOR2, but it’s a decent game.

 

Yeah this is the general consensus from what I've seen. Ok playing game, incredibly presented, loaded with insane amounts of content to unlock and with crazy stuff such as being able to use the CPU from a Mega CD to control a 2nd player. And totally and utterly not playable on anything other than random model 1 and model 2 revisions (seems you lucked out).

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The Sonic 1 proto is really cool but the true holy grail is the 1990 TGS build , with the goblin type enemy and the welcome to green hills sign. A few new much higher quality screens were discovered in a Japanese magazine a few years ago..

 

sonic_hires_scan_01-1734x1000.jpg

 

Really hope they find it . Yuki Naka said it had 7 layers of parallax scrolling!

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15 hours ago, spanky debrest said:

 

Yeah this is the general consensus from what I've seen. Ok playing game, incredibly presented, loaded with insane amounts of content to unlock and with crazy stuff such as being able to use the CPU from a Mega CD to control a 2nd player. And totally and utterly not playable on anything other than random model 1 and model 2 revisions (seems you lucked out).


Yeah it says 1601 models are no good, but I popped the cart in without even thinking yesterday and it worked fine.

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Slowly progressing through Monster World III (AKA Wonder Boy in Monster World). It feels pleasantly procedural, if not particularly innovative, although I did enjoy the momentum-based jumping and random giant enemies in the Ice Palace. The way the game seems to encourage grinding for equipment money each time you reach a new town is a bit dull, though - although it does teach you to properly learn the enemies patterns instead of blundering through them knowing there's an inn at the end.

 

Once nice touch has been a late injection of some fan-service references to previous games. The Legendary Sword is crafted from an item called the Ancient Axe, which when you briefly see it is clearly the stone axe from the original, (pre-Monster World) Wonder Boy. Then the Pygmy gear has you turn into something remarkably like Mouse Man in a transformation chamber straight out of Dragon's Trap (and looking very 8-bit too).

 

I think there are just a couple of dungeons to go, then I'll be done.

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It's taken a lifetime to me to realise this but I think I hate Thunderforce III.

 

If you memorised this game as a kid and enjoy it today, I doth my cap. I'm not trying to troll you. I'm aware it's a well loved, highly regarded game.

 

But I truly cannot think of a more hatefully designed shooter, a game where the entire ethos is basically "Ha Ha GOTCHA motherfucker!! over and over again.

 

Whole levels amount to collections of vicious set pieces and traps springing up ad nauseum. Power up carrying enemies scuttling quickly into holes. Invisible power ups. sections which have multiple identical power ups in close proximity - presumably in anticipation of the first one being quickly lost.

 

Falling rocks from most gaps up top. Jumping rocks from gaps down below. And plain jumping rocks just for the hell of it. Four adjustable speed levels but no situation where any of them are comfortable (#2 super slow, #3 way too fast).

 

No flow, no tension & release, just nice graphics and awesome tunes slapped on an obnoxious conveyor belt of sadism

 

I used all eight credits it gives you to get a fair way in but the only impact the last half of those deaths had were eye rolls and the sense that I will never play this game again. 

 

Feels good to finally realise this, that it's more than just a game I've somehow never got on with in a genre I adore.

 

To think I've owned multiple versions and copies of this for years as well, as a game I'll get around to giving a fair shake. Well, I've done it now. Never again. From now on TF3 and its arcade edition are just soundtracks to me. 

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11 minutes ago, spanky debrest said:

It's taken a lifetime to me to realise this but I think I hate Thunderforce III.

First one I played was Thunderforce IV when it came out and I love that game, I played Thunderforce III around 2000 and I just could not get any enjoyment out of it.

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Hahah, Monster World 3 has its own version of the ducking awful lifts from MW1, and if you fall off, you have to fight a fairly tough boss again each time. Which would be fine, but I think my M30 is running out of battery and it keeps briefly losing sync this evening.

 

The Nightmare Castle as a whole is simultaneously a love letter to the series, and a poison-pen letter to the player. 

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I really like Thunderforce 3.

It does rely on memorisation but it's surprisingly easy to memorise levels once you put your mind to it. The levels aren't too long and the cues are all fairly distinctive so they stick in your mind. 

Once you can blast through a few levels, accumulating power ups without getting hit it's really satisfying. 

You only lose the current power up when killed and there are no checkpoints so deaths don't need to be the end of the world either. 

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8 hours ago, Mr Monday said:

I’m in the pro Thunderforce II camp.  It’s pretty lonely here.

 

 

You're not alone!

 

I enjoy the overhead stages more than the horizontal ones but Thunderforce II is great. Arguably the best, most polished launch game too. It's high on my list to complete.

 

9 hours ago, JamesC said:

I really like Thunderforce 3.

It does rely on memorisation but it's surprisingly easy to memorise levels once you put your mind to it. The levels aren't too long and the cues are all fairly distinctive so they stick in your mind. 

Once you can blast through a few levels, accumulating power ups without getting hit it's really satisfying. 

You only lose the current power up when killed and there are no checkpoints so deaths don't need to be the end of the world either. 

 

I don't doubt it's eminently learnable - I made a lot of progress myself just within one session - it just pissed me off in a way I don't remember any other shooter ever doing before. 

 

Another MD shooter I've been playing on and off is Eliminate Down. I was getting chewed up by Stage 3 for weeks before working out a reliable strategy to get through..but it never once annoyed me. A couple of its sections later on are really brutal... but not because of loads of cheap traps that are impossible to avoid on first play. 

 

Apologies for the whine. I might just need to switch up my current gaming habits a bit, pull one or two machines out that I've been neglecting for a while.

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That's just how it goes sometimes. I tried to play a Warioland game recently and had a similar hate-filled reaction! 

As far as MD shooters go, my favourite is probably a toss up between Hellfire and Gaiares. 

I also have a real soft spot for Fire Shark and Twin Hawk. Neither are anything amazing really, I just find them really solid, fun games. 

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