Dateline : 8th March 2012


If it’s March, it must be Mega Drive month. Along with the usual batch of game reviews, I am going to look at a few of the other Mega Drive bits and pieces like the Mega CD and 32X. So without further ado here’s what’s been loaded up and played in the last few days……



The Ultimate Mega Drive Set-Up


THE ADVENTURES OF BATMAN & ROBIN – Rather than being based on the (at the time) increasingly lame series of live action films, this is based on the Saturday morning cartoons. You couldn’t get two things further away from each other if you tried. This is a brash, bold, colourful and very well presented side on beat em up that actually looks like a cartoon. Chuck in some fab music and frantic action and it’s all very impressive. However someone cranked the difficulty level up to 11 because this is an incredibly tough game to make any progress into. You cannot fault the presentation, but you can fault the rock hard gameplay.


AFTERBURNER – Well it wouldn’t be much of a Mega Drive month if we didn’t look at one of the all time classics for the system. Whilst Afterburner is, under the hood, an incredibly average game only worsened by not having the benefit of the giant hydraulic chair that made the arcade machine so memorable, it is still good for a blast. It moves incredibly quickly and while things can get a little confusing on screen, this is still a title of high quality. Just don’t expect much more than a high octane thrill that will leave you a little breathless but perhaps wondering what all the fuss was about 20+ years ago.


BEAVIS & BUTTHEAD – Perhaps you are wondering what sort of a glutton for punishment I am. I mean I always seem to be reviewing really crappy licensed tie-in rubbish like this and always end up at the same conclusion. I have but one piece of evidence for the court. At the start of the game before you have even got started there is a sequence in which Butthead asks Beavis to pull his finger. If you can guess the outcome and have fallen off your chair laughing then congratulations my friend this is the game for you. If like me you like a little more depth to your games then steer well clear as this is one stinking turd of a game which gets no better. Not recommended in any way shape or form.


BONKERS – From one licence to another with this one being based on the amazingly popular (OK I am really exaggerating here) Disney animated cartoon series about a cat who is a policeman. Yes that doesn’t make much sense to me either. I don’t even remember the cartoon from the early 1990’s. Playing the game, it starts off quite promisingly, solving various cases in the form of sub games with a view to capturing the villains. The first level has you defending some of the Disney crown jewels (Aladdin’s lamp, Mickey Mouse’s wizards hat from Fantasia etc) from Harry the Handbag and his gang of crooks. By throwing doughnuts, remembering here that you are a policeman, simply hit the crooks and knock them out to complete the level. And then you do it again. And again. And again. It’s like the bloody thing never ends. I think there is more of a game in there but seriously I got bored VERY quickly. Being a Disney game it looks and sounds great but it bored me to tears.


BOOGIE WOOGIE BOWLING – With a real life high score of 203 and a keen bowler back in the day, it was prudent of me to locate this Japanese bowling title. It’s pretty basic stuff that most other bowling games have followed in the past – choose your angle, spin and power and the computer does the best. Chuck in a few Japanese-Anime characters and for some bizarre reason some boogie woogie style music and that’s yer lot. Even more strangely, you can bowl in different conditions like wet, dry and random. Quite why you would bowl in the wet is beyond me. Anyway, I managed 183 on my only go, which leaves me to say not a lot more about this game than can be said about bowling titles in general – if it’s your bag then go for it.


CASTLEVANIA : BLOODLINES – I can’t lay claim to having played too many of the Castlevania titles over the years, I am not sure of the reason why. This is a rip roaringly good game, with fabulous graphics and a soundtrack to die for. It is the only Castlevania game that came to the Mega Drive and it makes use of every last bit of the hardware. It’s a grower in terms of playability too, whilst retaining the usual high level of hardness that all the games in the series seem to have. It will take you a while to get through it, but you will get that bit further each time. The end of level bosses look magnificent and it all adds up to an amazing package which is worth every bit of your attention.


CHUCK ROCK – One of the most fun platformers of the 1990’s and about 100 times funnier than Captain Caveman ever was. Even the start of the game is polished and very impressive, with Chuck and a few of his prehistoric friends jamming along to the theme tune. When you start the game, the whole thing looks amazing, the music and sound effects are spot on and the game plays very well indeed. If it does have a downside it’s a little on the easy side, but when gaming is as good as this you can be a little forgiving. It was good enough to spawn a sequel and both games are fondly remembered by retro gamers today. Definitely worth a look.


DOUBLE DRAGON – Something went wrong with all the home ports of this arcade game legend and the Mega Drive version is no exception. Maybe it is because the other versions I have played have been on the easy side but now it seems like you need to hit the bad guys around 20 times each for them to die. That could just be me but it does sound a little on the unfair side. The whole thing looks OK and the original arcade music is there, but one can’t help but think that something again went wrong in development and we should be sticking to the arcade original instead.


ESCAPE FROM MARS STARRING TAZ – I have said previously that I am sucker for Looney Tunes based games and perhaps one day I will find one that appeals to me. Sadly Escape From Mars is another one of those bog standard platform games that looks great but plays like a box of spanners. Taz at times is uncontrollable and in a game when you are escaping from Mars, why is it you actually end up back there at the end of the game ? The sound effects are poor and the music is rubbish and on top of all that there is nothing here to grabs you, nor does it make you believe that this game is going to get any better. Chalk up another Looney Tune Lame Licence.


FANTASTIC DIZZY – As with Castlevania I can claim to have only played Treasure Island Dizzy, on the Amiga, from this series of games starring the adventurous egg. On the Mega Drive Fantastic Dizzy is a colourful affair with cartoonish graphics and a boppy little soundtrack. It is still infuriating that you can only carry 3 objects at a time and therefore have to keep going back and forth between locations. You also have to collect stars, rather than coins, but my heart did sink a little when told at the start there are 250 to collect. It means a big game but also a LOT of exploring. So all in all not a bad effort if you like games like this but you’ll probably need to make a map of the game in order to find everything you need.


FLASHBACK – I briefly touched on this last month and now finally I have had the chance to play the game again for a longer period of time. It is still an amazing experience when you consider the quality of the gameplay and the visuals, along with the sound effects. Beginning your journey in the jungle you must piece together the remnants of your character’s past and find out why you are where you are, and what you need to do to get home. It does have a frustration level that will have you throwing your pad across the room and you only get one life too, so this is not one for those scared of a long haul. However any gamer worth their salt should play this and make their own minds up. I for one am standing firmly in the genius game camp, even if it is French.


GOLDEN AXE II – When I first had a Mega Drive back in the early 1990’s one of the games I had was Golden Axe II. Until tonight I had mistakenly believed it was the original game I had and not this sequel. Either way this series of hacking valkyries, thumping dwarves and big scary end of level guardians is one of my most favourite. Coming back and playing this for the first time in nearly 20 years I was amazed at how much I had remembered and forgotten with equal measure. I certainly didn’t need 3 credits back in the day ! It is a worthy sequel to the original game and both of them show exactly what set the Mega Drive apart from the competition – the ability to showcase large, arcade style graphics and sound by keeping the playability that made the arcade games great and bringing them into the home for all to see and play. On the downside it will take little to no time at all to get through this and therefore makes it inferior to the original.


To be continued…………..