Solaris Japan

Friday, 19 August 2016

Mega Drive Review - James Pond Underwater Agent (Game 113)

In the days of one man game development, Chris Sorrel created 'James Pond : Underwater Agent'. A platform game where you don't stand on platforms, how would this Amiga game fare on the Mega Drive ?


Developed by Vectordean
Published by Millennium interactive / EA 
Released in 1990

Water and video games do not mix. This is why the manual included with every console you've ever bought will remind you not to submerge your new machine. But, even if you somehow resist the urge to drop your latest gaming equipment into a bath, digital water (within the video games you play on it) can still ruin your experience. The water temple in 'The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time' is often people's go to example when it comes to good games being ruined by bad water. In this game, to give the illusion of being submerged, your playable character's every action is slowed to a crawl. Navigation around the level is hampered by ill-conceived controls and even with the N64's controller's plethora of buttons You can't swim up or down. Instead equipping special boots allows you to sink and trudge along the bottom of the temple and taking them off is the only way to get back to the surface. Should you get even one switch wrong water currents can carry you all the way back to the start, meaning anyone attempting this temple without following a step-by-step guide should be congratulated. It's a terrible part of an otherwise near perfect game, but it's not the only time when a water stage has ruined a game. 

As a child I hated the water maze stage of 'Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles ' on the NES. For animals that should have natural swimming abilities, Leonardo and his brothers sure swim slowly. This isn't particularly helpful when you're trying to diffuse submerged bombs within a tight time limit. It also seemed strange that these reptiles are so easily damaged by the stinging algae that line every possible route through the aquatic labyrinth. 

Water also brings super fast Sonic to a screeching halt, which is rather devastating when his entire franchise is built around speed. Someone at Sonic Team was really having a bad day when they thought plunging the hedgehog into dreary water filled levels devoid of any sense of acceleration would make for a fun experience. To make matters worse, the air bubbles that Sonic must find to avoid drowning are sparsely distributed. Often you'll die simply because you weren't given enough time to learn a level layout. 

Clearly to keep a game's standards up its best to stick to dry land, so why did I have such a fondness for 'James Pond: Underwater Agent' as a child ?

Friday, 12 August 2016

Podcast : Maximum Power Up RPG Special



Getting stuck on a train is a frustrating experience. Sat stationary for two hours while the batteries on your electrical devices slowly ebb away. Looking out of the window has limited appeal; when you're on a stationary train it never changes.  Of course I could perform the social faux pas of talking to the fellow travelers trapped around me, but sharing my oxygen for two claustrophobic hours had left them in less than chatty moods. Ironically though, talking is what I wanted to do most at that particular time, just not with the people around me. In a cruel twist of fate, the day my daily commute was severely delayed was also the very day I was due to record a guest appearance on the 'Maximum PowerUp Podcast'. 

I have known one of the hosts Paul for a long time, though only through Twitter - we hadn't actually met or spoken. In fact I became aware of him due to a long running joke on the (now dead) 'RetroGrade' podcast, a show I had twice been on. Paul and I share a passion for Super Nintendo and  Super Play, indeed he is trying to buy every game in the magazine's "100 Greatest Snes games of all time" feature. I think I may have made this mission slightly harder (and a lot more expensive) by encouraging him to buy them all boxed and complete. For sometime we have talked about recording an episode of the 'Maximum Power Up' podcast together and initially I thought it was going to be about memories of the Super Nintendo; a companion piece for his other episodes on the Mega Drive. While we are still due to do this episode at some point, I was surprised and delighted when he said we would first be recording an episode about one of my favourite genres; RPGs . To make this delicious metaphorical podcast cake even more appealing, joining us would be Kincl, the editor of the 'Hyper Play RPG' fanzine, a publication I've written for a few times. Finishing the party was Chris Smith one of the shows regular co-hosts, known for his hilarity, strong opinions and lists. 

I was ridiculously excited about the recording, which made my imprisonment on a static train all the more frustrating. 

Thankfully, although I missed the first section of the recording I was able to jump in for the majority, and I've heard that my late arrival gave the episode a second wind, so hurrah for happy accidents.  While I had been on several podcasts before (including the somewhat intimidating 'Most Popular Girls on the Internet') I typically just chat about myself. Never have I been asked to talk about a specific topic for fans who will know the subject better than I . To avoid making embarrassing mistakes, I stuck to my narrow area of expertise; the 16bit genre, admitting when I didn't know a game rather than trying to pretend I had a broader knowledge base. I think, despite being very nervous, I only made one mistake - while I meant  'Final Fantasy : Crisis Core' I actually said 'Final Fantasy  : Lightening Returns', oh the humanity! 

I really enjoyed the recording and I've been told that came across. I didn't realise that others don't share my insatiable love for 'Ni No Kuni' and I was beyond shocked that everyone doesn't  think 'Final Fantasy VI' is the best one ! 

There's already been talk of doing a follow up episode so please do give feedback if you have some.



You can listen to the two hour show here, and I hope you enjoy what you hear. Maybe you can listen to it while your train is delayed ! 

Friday, 5 August 2016

Snes Review - Olympic Summer Games (Game 112)

As the Olympic Games start you're perhaps keen to play games that capture the spirit and excitement. 'Olympic Summer Games' would be a terrible choice.
Developed by Tiertex Design Studios
Published by THQ / Black Pearl
Released in 1996


It was way past my bedtime but sat up, illuminated by the light of the TV, I furiously waggled my joystick. Imagine my shame when my mum walked in, confused as to why she could hear such a commotion so late at night. She looked at me with disappointment. "Go to bed!" she sighed, shaking her head. As she turned and walked out of the room she looked back at me. "If you keep playing like that you're going to break it aren't you!" She was right of course, it would break, but that's how Ocean Software designed 'Daley Thompson's Olympic Challenge' to be played on the Amiga.

It was a game released in the wake of Thompson's popularity following his gold medals in the decathlon at the 1980 and 1984 Olympic Games. Magazine reviewers quickly labelled the game a "joystick killer" though, since the gameplay involved furiously moving the stick left and right as fast as possible. The faster you waggled, the quicker your avatar would run. Success in the game was the result of maximum physical effort and minimum amount of skill. Though most sports games typically are sedentary experiences, there are some,like this, that encourage the player to get physically tired as a result of playing. The most obvious would have to be 'Wii Sports' with its Wiimote waving shenanigans, or if you want to feel exhausted playing a 16bit game 'Olympic Summer Games' is for you.

Released on a plethora of console, this was the official video game of the Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games. Following on from similar games 'Olympic Gold' and 'Winter Olympics', gameplay consists of pressing one or many buttons as quickly as possible and occasionally timing a specific button press. Playing like a mini game compilation 'Olympic Summer Games' consists of 10 events with all but two based on track and field events. 

Friday, 22 July 2016

Mega Drive Review - Global Gladiators (Game 111)

When it comes to licensed games having McDonalds on a box hardly seems like a seal of quality. However unless you ignore pre-conceived ideas you'll miss out on an industry legend's break out title. 

Developed by Virgin Interactive
Published by Sega
Released in 1992


If you notice something subconsciously familiar and comforting about the names Mick and Mack perhaps you, like me, are partial to a meal in the world's most popular fast food restaurant. Both these names are plays on McDonalds simply because 'Global Gladiators' is a McDonalds game. 

Companies using video games to promote their brands is hardly unique to 'Global Gladiators'. After all 'Cool Spot' started life out as a 7Up logo, 'Zool' had a penchant for ChupaChup lollies and 'RoboCod' originally had a story based around saving penguins who had been turned into biscuits. Many people, now particularly, dismiss 'Global Gladiators' due to its association with a fast food outlet. Today, McDonalds seems to be the food we love to hate and hate to love. While many of us readily admit to being partial to a Big Mac, there's just as many who vow to never touch one. Some dislike a corporation so large it can bankroll a small nation. Others believe the horror stories about what's actually in the food and many are quite sensibly put off by a menu that's (in the main) terrifyingly unhealthy. Yet with 35,000 outlets worldwide collectively making nearly $30,000,000 some of us clearly must be dining there. It's the food we grab in a rush rather than something we savour. A McDonalds meal is cheap, risk-free and fast to make. However, none of these adjectives can favourably be applied to a platform video game and this is probably why so few today feel the need to even try 'Global Gladiators'. It's a shame as while the McDonalds branding may be repugnant to some, being unable to see past it means missing out on an enjoyable game.

Friday, 15 July 2016

The End of the Car Boot Golden Age

When ever any collector of Retro Games is asked how to they build up their collection, they tend to always say "Car Boot Fairs". For those who don't know, theses are gatherings that are typically held on Sunday mornings. Originally, people with goods to sell would go to a field, open their boots and people would buy what they wanted from it. It has evolved over time, into a far more civilized gathering, with most sellers putting their goods on tables in front of their cars. As the summer progresses, the number of people at these events greatly increases, which means more sellers, more buyers and annoyingly more traders. These stalls are not there to shift their "old junk", they are instead trying to sell goods bought specifically for the car boot with profit in mind. 

However while these Car Boot Sales used to be regarded as the best place to get bargain games, now everyone seems to be a Retro Game valuer. eBay is used to determine price, often giving the false impression that anything old is worth a small fortune. To get anything, below the going rate on eBay, you need to get to the fair before the doors have even opened to the public and then you are racing the dreaded "re-seller". 

If you would like to know why re-selers divide the Retro Collecting community, I've recently written an article for Retro Collect. But alas, it seems that the gold mine has run dry; Car Boot sales are no longer the go to place for Retro Game deals.




Friday, 8 July 2016

Mega Drive Review - Mega Man The Wily Wars (Game 110)

With 6 adventures on the NES, 4 on the Game Boy and 6 games on the Snes you would be forgiven for thinking that Mega Man was a Nintendo exclusive character.  It’s a popular opinion that was cemented by the Blue Bomber having a dedicated Amiibo owing to his appearance in the recent 'Smash Bros' games. 

However in his later years Mega Man could be found on PlayStation and perhaps more surprisingly during the 16 bit era he even had a one night stand with Sega. But how did Capcom's forgotten mascot fare on the Mega Drive?




Developed by Capcom

Published by Sega 

Released in 1994




When IGN once listed their favourite ever NES games, the first non Nintendo created game was 'Mega Man 2'; a Capcom game.
Indeed in this list of the 100 greatest games on the Nintendo Entertainment System, Capcom is the third most prolific developer, behind Konami and Nintendo themselves. Clearly, the marriage of Capcom games and Nintendo machines was commercially and critically very successful. So much so in fact, that Capcom Japan famously laughed at Joe Morici (head of marketing for Capcom America) when he suggest the developer should consider creating content for Sega Platforms.  At the time, in 1989, the Mega Drive was hardly selling at all in Japan. Capcom simply didn't see why it was worth risking a fruitful business relationship with Nintendo.  As a compromise Capcom Japan agreed that Sega could license a number of games including 'Ghouls and Ghosts' 'Forgotten Worlds' and 'Mega Twins' but no new or exclusive titles would be developed specifically for a Sega Machine. By 1993 though the popularity of the Sega Genesis in North America and the Mega Drive in Europe could not be ignored. Morici's pleas were finally heard and Capcom decided to dance with Sega. 

Friday, 1 July 2016

The Nintendo Golden Ticket

Growing up I would avidly read Total! magazine and of course Super Play. I remember a competition they ran once, when a reader was offered the opportunity to head to Japan and meet Nintendo employees. It the time I was very envious of the winner, a fellow called Gareth. 

Twenty years later, I managed to track him down to ask him about his experience. I have written about our conversation for Retro Collect. So if you're interested in knowing more head on over there to read all about his trip. 

Twenty years later, I'm still envious!

Thanks Gareth for answering a tweet from a total stranger who had essentially been stalking you for 6 months!



Friday, 24 June 2016

Mega Drive Review - Speedball 2 (Game 109)

'Speedball 2' is often cited as one of the best games on the Amiga. Is this future sports title any good on the Mega Drive, or should you seek out one of the many modern remakes?

Developed by Bitmap Brothers
Published by Virgin Games
Released in 1990

When an old game is reworked for a new platform there seems to be two schools of thought: You can leave it exactly as it wasand let it shine by its own light. Failing that you embrace the modern. Youchange it so it takes advantage of newer technology; you rework the gameplay throwing out anything archaic. In extreme cases (like 'Syndicate') this has even meant starting from scratch, so only the name of the classic original remains. 

'Speedball 2' has been a game that has seen more than a handful of re-inventions and every one of them were disastrous. The PlayStation 1 version was ponderous and slow with ugly 3D graphics. The GBA port had such a limited zoomed in view of the action that it was impossible to play. 2007 saw 'Speedball 2 Tournament' on the PC which had such laggy controls that it was nearly impossible to beat the computer. Finally an iOS version fell apart simply because using the touch screen didn't give precise character control. It's telling that the best received of all the modern 'Speedball 2' games are the ones that retro gaming fans will most easily recognise. The PS Mini version of 'Speedball 2: Evolution' and 'Speedball 2: HD’ both retain the 2D game play although in both the graphics have been redrawn.  As Eurogamer notes, "3D revisits have never really hit the mark, and the most recent revival's faithfulness to the original is a pretty good sign of how good 'Speedball 2' was in the first place."


Friday, 17 June 2016

Video - Building a Games Room in a Garage



Its always been the dream to have a Games Room. I would watch YouTubers with envy as they gave tours of a designated space. With my games in boxes in the loft or under the bed, showing them off was never really an option. 

Things all changed when we got a new house though. I needed an Edit Suite at home for work and a garage conversion seemed the most sensible thing to do. As this could double as a place to play and display games suddenly my Games Room seemed like a very real possibility. It took some time to build, but I'm thrilled with how it turned out and feel so very lucky to have this space. 

If the demand is there I'll do a "Games Room Tour" in a later video, but this video shows how a dark dingy space become my personal heaven. 

Now I just need more time to spend in there!

Friday, 10 June 2016

Mega Drive Review - Castle of Illusion (Game 108)

'Castle of Illusion' is a Mega Drive game still loved by many. But, without nostalgia, is it really as good as everyone remembers?

Developed by Sega (AM7) / Disney 
Published by Sega
Released in 1990


There's no point denying it, nostalgia is the reason that most retro collectors start buying old games. We get to a point in our life where we have a bit of excess cash. With it we want to buy the things we had or missed out on in our youths. We want to recapture the moment of joy we had playing these games or we want to finally get to lay our hands on the titles that eluded us. Some games were so important to us as children that it’s impossible to play them now without basking in happy memories. The music and the visuals whisk us back to a moment of childish glee and we fail to see the game's failings and readily forgive its frustrations. 


We get into dangerous waters when nostalgia is replaced with expectation though. When you opt to play a game that others adored twenty years ago, even though it's one you've never played before. You're inspired to pick it up because so many people then and now loved it. The problem is that without nostalgia-goggles you see what's really there rather than what you remember being there. The faults and cracks aren't disguised by happy memory poly-filler. 

In the past, I've wrongly thought the Mega Drive's only standout exclusive platforming titles involved a blue hedgehog. 'Ristar' certainly proved that theory wrong. Yet even before 'Sonic', there were titles that showed that Nintendo didn't have a monopoly on games that involve running to the right of the screen and leaping.

"'Mickey Mouse [Castle of Illusion]' ranks as the greatest platform game available for the Sega" critic Richard Leadbetter once said. "The playability is a close rival for the Nintendo 'Mario' series" he added. Released in 1990, a year before 'Sonic the Hedgehog', 'Castle of Illusion Staring Mickey Mouse' gave potent proof that the Mega Drive was quite a powerful machine. "When we made the game, we had a clear vision of what we wanted to make" game director and designer Emiko Yamamoto recalls. "The Genesis game is the best we were able to do technologically to bring that vision to life" she adds. 


'Castle Of Illusion' formed part of the second wave of released software in America and was a launch game in Europe, a showpiece that was often paraded by Sega to convince loyal Nintendo fans to defect to their system. It certainly wowed critics. "Unbelievable! 'Mickey Mouse' ranks as one of the most stunning carts available" noted Computer and Video Games magazine. "This Mega Drive cartridge combines the playability of 'Super Mario' with all the cartoon charm of Disney's favourite rodent superstar - buy this - it'll blow you your mind out of this world!" Reviewer Julian Rignal seemed to agree with C&VG saying "it is the superb game play that makes this such a winner. If you've got any sense, get hold of a copy of 'Mickey Mouse' now! " 

It is not just journalists at the time who adored 'Castle of Illusion'. In its 37th issue Retro Gamer magazine listed 25 platform games that every reader must play. Mickey's first Mega Drive adventure was included. Despite being as old as the system itself many fans believe there to be few games on Sega's 16 bit machine that top it. With such unanimous praise, it would be foolish for me to have ignored 'Castle of Illusion', but I must confess I was slightly disappointed when I started to play. 


Friday, 3 June 2016

Video - Super Famicom The Box Art Collection


Given the name of this blog, it cant come as a surprise to you that I love a good box. Stuart Brett does too and has collated 270 of his favourites into a glorious book. 

Its well worth a purchase, as you can see in the video. Sadly the pre-order exclusive version is no longer available. But that shouldn't put you off, as the book is superb. 

To get your copy head on over to www.bitmapbooks.co.uk

Friday, 27 May 2016

Mega Drive Review - Phantasy Star IV (Game 107)

Developed by Sega
Published by Sega
Released in 1995

There's a mistaken belief that to play a RPG in the nineties you had to own a Snes. 'Phantasy Star IV' proves there were incredible experiences to be had on a Sega console too. 


Many call the 16 bit era the golden age for Japanese role playing games. In Japan the 'Dragon Quest' series had become a national obsession, a fire fueled by Square's 'Final Fantasy' games. Their success inspired no shortage of copycats developers and at the genre's peak, Japan saw a couple of games a month - though most were of questionable quality. In America RPGs still had a niche audience but a smaller fan base didn't prevent the US getting the best the East had to offer; many of which continue to be considered  the greatest games of the era, if not of all time. 

The situation in Europe was a little different. Before 'Final Fantasy VII' the JRPG genre was practically non-existent. The other six 'Final Fantasy' games, ' Chrono Trigger', 'Earthbound', 'Dragon Quest' even accessible titles like 'Super Mario RPG' didn't get a European release. 'Secret of Mana / Evermore' and 'The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past' are the famous exceptions but these focus on action so many (quite rightly) don't acknowledge them as true JRPS. 

As a European gamer, I was under the impression that if I wanted to play a Japanese RPG I would have to pay a fortune to import it from the US. Consequently, it wasn't until later that I fell in love with the genre. However, there was an easier way to get a JRPG hit that I was totally ignorant of, mainly because Super Play never presented it as an option. While the Super Nintendo is now the goto console for pixelated JRPGs, the reality is, in Europe you could actually play just as many of these types of games on the Mega Drive. The 'Shining Force' games, 'Warriors of the Eternal Sun' and most famously the 'Phantasy Star' series all were exclusive to Sega's machine.

Friday, 20 May 2016

Video - Unboxing a Box of Boxes


They say a picture tells a thousand words. Based on this logic, a video consisting of 25 frames a second equates to 1.5 million words a minute. 

As much as I love the written word, sometimes its just easier to see things live so for this reason (and because I now have an edit suite at home) I've decided to do a few videos. These certainly wont be replacing the bi-weekly blog posts, but hopefully I'll make them frequently enough that I can post these on the weeks where there aren't words for you to read.

Although I've been a professional TV editor for 13 years, I've not done many YouTube videos (and hardly ever been in front of camera) so feedback and encouragement would be appreciated.

Thanks to Gemma at Juicygamereviews.com and of course to Shark for the box protectors. 

We all know how much I like looking after my boxes!

Friday, 13 May 2016

Mega Drive Review - Out Run 2019 (Game 106)

Think all 'OutRun' games involve fast red cars, tropical locales and amazing music? Think again. 


Developed by SIMS Co
Published by Sega
Released in 1993


Before 'Mario Kart' and 'Stunt Race FX' changed my opinion, I thought all racing games were the same. In everything I played you looked at the back of a car and moved it from left to right on the screen avoiding cars and scenery.


The illusion of speed was created by sprites increasing in size and hills and corners in the road varied the game play. I sound derogatory when I describe these early racing games but I did enjoy them. They all rather blended into one though and the reason why one stood out over another was largely down to factors outside of game play. I loved the 'Lotus'/'TopGear' games because of the music for example. But of all the similar games I loved 'Outrun' the most. It's "the consummate exhibit in an oversubscribed genre" Noao Diniz states in '1001 Video Games You Must Play before You Die’. "One of the most joyous experiences in video gaming".

Friday, 29 April 2016

Mega Drive Review - Golden Axe (Game 105)

Sega sold their 16bit dream machine as "the arcade at home", but should this famous fantasy hack-and-slash have stayed there? 

Developed by Sega AM1
Published by Sega
Released in 1989

We talk of the 16bit console wars as if they were an equal fight. However, the reality is that Sega really started so far behind Nintendo that they were always going to be the underdog. Of course the Mega Drive came to market years ahead of the Super Nintendo but it launched in a market that was very much dominated by their rivals. Sega's previous console The Master system, had failed to make any impact in the home console market. According to Game historian Keith Stuart "the Nintendo entertainment system was the biggest console on the market. Thirty million American households owned one and the word "Nintendo" was synonymous with the medium." Vice present of Sega Shinobu Toyoda was all too aware of this. "We officially claimed that Sega had 10% of the market, the truth was, Nintendo has 94% market share with their NES system. Sega only had six." The 8 bit console battle between the two industry competitors had been a massacre on a par with something George R Martin writes about. For their 16bit successor console to stand any chance of success Sega would have to tap into the one area they were excelling at; The Arcades. 


In the late 80s there is no denying that Sega were "King of the Arcades". It was a reputation based on the success of games like 'Fantasy Zone', 'Space Harrier' and 'After Burner'. Then there was also little game known as 'Altered Beast', designed by Makoto Uchida. His next game was intended to be a 'Zelda' style game bound for the struggling Master System and It would be based on the 'Conan the Barbarian' film. "I watched the film 'Conan', researched Boris Vallejo's illustrations and read the 'Lord of the Rings' to the point that it inflated my dreams" Uchida admits. It would focus on exploration and adventure but Sega did not approve. They wanted a game similar to his previous one, ideally another scrolling beat em up like 'Altered Beast'. They wanted a game that would lure in arcade goers but also one that could be ported to their upcoming 16bit home console. 

The Mega Drive was initially sold as providing "the arcade experience at home" and 'Golden Axe' was used as the poster girl for the campaign. "Check it out” said the bombastic advert announcer. "Arcade screen left, Genesis screen right, if they look the same you've answered correctly"

Friday, 15 April 2016

Mega Drive Review - Battletoads (Game 104)

What happens when you get a lazy port of a frustratingly hard NES game?

Developed by Rare / Arc SystemWorks
Published by Trade West / Sega
Release in 1993



It's weird what you can recall and what gets lost in the mist of memory. I can recall how to solve every puzzle in 'The Secret of Monkey Island'. I'm even able to reel off the witty retorts to the insult sword fighting without even playing the game. Yet I can't for the life of me remember why I ever wanted 'Battletoads' on the NES. It was given as a present either for birthday or Christmas and perhaps I only wanted the game after reading the glowing review in Total! magazine. "It's an Amazing-looking arcader that sets standards, break molds and does a lot of other groovy things too" their reviewer noted. " It's the best blast I've seen in a long time."

Alternatively maybe my parents bought it thinking it was a 'TeenageMutant Ninja Turtles' game. You can understand why they may think this. The original NES version of 'Battletoads' came out in 1991, a time when the U.K. was gripped by "Turtle Mania". Every schoolboy watched the TV series and a NES game based on it was actually considered a system seller. Companies wanted to capitalise on the public's desire for anything amphibian, mutated, adolescent or pizza eating (especially if they fought using an Asian fighting style). We had 'Samurai Pizza Cats' we had 'Street Sharks' we had 'Biker Mice from Mars' and we had 'Battletoads'. 

Friday, 1 April 2016

Mega Drive Review - Alisia Dragoon (Game 103)

When you only know the most famous games, its very easy to miss the great but ignored. Alisia Dragoon may be part shooter, part platfomer, part RPG but that doesn't stop it being all great.

Developed by Game Arts
Published by Sega
Released in 1992


Behaving like a blinkered fanboy is clearly a very silly approach to gaming, but there is at least one huge benefit. When you come out of the other side and realise there is more than one console for you, you're suddenly embraced by a huge selection of games. Growing up, I was so devoted to Nintendo that I didn't even like multi-format games magazines. It wasn't because I wasn't interested in what Sega owners were enjoying, I was appalled by even catching a glimpse of a screen shot for platform exclusive games. Of course, as I wasn't living under a rock I knew of the big titles; the 'Sonics', 'MoonWalkers' and 'Streets of Rages' but the smaller more quirky titles totally passed me by.

Anyone interested in video games can probably list the big titles for most systems but often the lesser known, more obscure games offer just as much, if not more. To make things even sweeter, because less people know about these forgotten greats, less people search on eBay for them. Less searches means less competition and less competition means a lower final price. So, when someone embarks on a new games collection adventure I would always suggest they search for "hidden gems" on YouTube. This is why I have YouTuber "MetalJesusRocks" and his pal Reggie to thank. They introduced me to 'Alisia Dragoon', a game that came very highly recommended on their video. It'll come as know surprise that this MegaDrive exclusive game hadn't registered at all on my Nintendo loving radar.

Friday, 18 March 2016

Mega Drive Review - Moon Walker (Game 102)

Developed by Sega AM7
Published by Sega
Released in 1990

Were you to sit in front of the 'Moon Walker' arcade machine its likely you'd raise an eyebrow at the title screen's claim. "Game concept and design by Michael Jackson" it declares. 

What does the "King of Pop" know about video games? Well quite a lot as it turns out. 

Friday, 4 March 2016

Mega Drive Review - Ristar (Game 101)

If, like me, you thought Mega Drive platformers were all focused on frantic speed, think again. The very best on the system may be closer to 'Mario' than you think.


Developed by Sonic Team
Published by Sega
Release in 1995
When it came to the dark bloody console wars of the 90’s I was more that a foot solider, I was a standard bearer. If you cut me I bled Nintendo red. I laughed at the Game Gear for needing 54 batteries to play, I scoffed at the 32X & the MegaCD with their grand total of 3 games. But despite my fanboy showmanship I was jealous and I have to admit there was certain things Sega did that Ninten-didn’t. I thought Michael Jackson was pretty great – but I never got to dance in 'MoonWalker'. I used to play 'Outrun' in the sports centre cafe but would never drive that red Ferrari at home. Then of course there was that blue hedgehog.
To me 'Sonic' always seemed to be deliberately everything the 'Mario' games weren’t. While Nintendo’s plumber’s games focused on exploration, caution and precise tight controls, Sega’s mascot enjoyed adventures that depended on twitch responses. The focus on speed meant that fast reactions yielded success and there was absolutely no point in exploring. Of course there were the rings to find, but considering you didn’t need to find them all to open the bonus stage, why would you bother to look when the minimum had been found? As a gamer who grew up on 'Mario', I may have wanted to play the 'Sonic' games but I probably wouldn’t have got on with them too well. The two series are so different and in many ways reflect the consoles themselves; the SNES was white, the Mega Drive black. Nintendo was something your Mum would approve of, Sega was edgy, dangerous and stuffed with attitude. 'Mario' was Blue Peter, 'Sonic' was Grange Hill.