RetroReview : Mega Drive March Madness Part 4
Dateline 29 March 2012
The great joy with Mega Drive collecting is the fact that there are masses of games to pick up and play. Unlike cassette based games, where tapes may have stretched or warped with time, or disk based games where the disc may be damaged or simply perished due to the age, the only real problem you can find with cartridges is a few dirty connectors. Give them a spruce up and more or less 8 or 9 out of 10 will work without any problems. They are easy to store if out of the original box, and if you aren’t fussy about all the original packaging they can be picked up as cheaply as £1.00, or even less if you get lucky.
Anyway here are some more games that may or may not appeal for the Mega Drive as March Madness continues……
MARBLE MADNESS – If you could name two games that used a trackball mounted onto an arcade cabinet, chances are this is one of the games you would name (the others might be Crystal Castles, Missile Command or Tecmo World Cup, or some other game I can’t recall right now). Marble Madness was a fiendishly tricky and at times frustrating puzzle game where you had to negotiate your marble through a maze to the exit. Along the way you’d have to watch out for obstacles, random meanies an of course the edge of the maze. Falling off would simply mean starting from that point, but it was all against the clock. The Mega Drive version is a pretty faithful conversion, but you can’t replace the trackball controller with a joypad. All said, it’s a worthy and noble effort and another one of those games guaranteed a slot in retro history.
MARVEL LAND – I first played this via import from a friend’s copy. Using the Japanese converter, which involved plugging an adaptor into the cartridge slot and then plugging a European game into that before plugging this game into it to get the damn thing to work (the Mega Drive is well remembered for it’s ludicrously complicated add ons). Once it did work, the game itself is bog standard platform fare with big sprites, colourful garish graphics and an annoyingly catchy tune. It is though superior stuff and being a connoisseur of platform games it is one I remember well and enjoyed playing at the time and again here. It of course has all the usual trimmings of it’s ilk – collect items, jump onto and over stuff, jump timing and that feeling of frustration and elation at the same time, but this is bloody good fun and well worth a look.
MEGA BOMBERMAN – There can’t be too many people who have not played an incarnation of this popular and hugely addictive bomb and run series. This was the first Mega Drive outing and was incredibly impressive, keeping the tried and tested gameplay whilst at same time sporting some impressive graphics and bouncy tunes. There is plenty of depth too, as you bomb your way out of mazes to clear the screen of monsters and reach the centre as quickly as possible. Of course where Bomberman games always excel is with a few mates playing and you cannot deny how much fun that is. If you only play one Bomberman game then let this be it, you will not be disappointed.
PAC ATTACK – A mash up of two great video game icons of the 1980’s ; Pac-Man and Tetris. The blocks are substituted for ghosts here with the idea being to link as many ghosts as possible so that when a Pac-Man block comes down he gobbles them up to clear the level. It’s all rather pretty and a doddle to play, but you get the feeling something is missing. Yes it’s fun to combine these two together in what could have been a total disaster of a title, but whilst not that, it’s nothing special either. One for fans of puzzle games only.
PITFALL THE MAYAN ADVENTURE – Yet another iconic 80’s title gets the 90’s makeover and it’s interesting to say the least. It’s also one of the few 32X titles that got a release alongside the regular cartridge version. It is though a world apart from the original series of games, as everything looks absolutely wonderful and sounds great. It is only the game play that lets it down. Yes, Pitfall was all about precision jumping and timing, but this version really does take some mastering and it’s inevitable frustration and annoyance will kick in before progress and delight. If you could find it, you can access the original Atari 2600 hidden in the game, but you might get too wound up before you got that far. If only it wasn’t all so linear and samey then this could have been something really great, as such Pitfall suffers from pitfalls of it’s own making.
QUACKSHOT – We all know Donald Duck is way cooler than Mickey Mouse. After all he doesn’t have a whiny voice, a dog that won’t stop barking and isn’t a complete drip. No Donald knows where he’s best and as such his video game outings have on the whole been better than Mickey’s. Quackshot, with it’s stunning graphics, tight controls and excellent gameplay, it’s one of the Mega Drive’s standout titles. It does have a few flaws – it is not overly long or hard and some of the mapping leaves a lot to be desired as you can end up walking around not knowing where to go. Therefore this is not a perfect game, but it is a pretty damn good one. It goes without saying that you’d be qwackers not to give it a go.
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