• Activity

    • Ghost Recon expands into open-world with Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands

      2 years ago

      Ferret75

      A new entry in the Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon tactical shooter series has been revealed, and it looks to offer open-world gameplay with creative freedom in completing missions. Titled Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands, the trailer presented brutal drug-related violence in large mountainous regions that had a Wild Western feel.

      The pre-alpha gameplay footage focused on multiple approaches to handling enemies. A stealth option involved silent takedowns, grabbing enemies from behind, and setting explosives. But then for the same mission, an ambush option showed a more offensive approach, showing a piloted drone followed by a lethal shootout.

      Cover and vaulting were also present, and the player’s movements looked fast yet flexible. Allies are also central to combat encounters: they can grab enemies, engage in shootouts, and serve attack roles while driving.

      The shooter gameplay is split between first and third-person, having sights be aimed down in the former, and having movement and driving be done in the latter. A large variety of vehicles were showcased, including speedboats, motorcycles, jeeps, and even armored helicopters.

      Adding to this variety is the franchise’s open-world gameplay, a first for the series. In addition to combat-heavy locations, some areas involved large and natural landscapes filled with animals, while others showed civilian-inhabited towns; different times of days were also present. The showcased mission took place in South America, but the trailer hints at several other worldwide locales as well.

      This upcoming title seems to take the series into a sandbox-like direction, and it certainly encourages a lot of options for how the player decides to approach missions. But what do you think about the new game? Feel free to comment below!

    • Tribal hunting and post-apocalyptic machinery combine to form Horizon: Zero Dawn

      2 years ago

      Ferret75

      Guerrilla Games revealed a new franchise, one which seems to combine tribal and mechanical themes together. Titled Horizon: Zero Dawn, the reveal initially suggested a nature-focused hunting title in past times, showing cave drawings, thriving human tribes, and lots of gorgeous natural scenery with wooden structures. But surprisingly, the game takes place in a post-apocalyptic setting, where electrical cities died and worlds were overgrown with massive vegetation. Strangely enough though, your enemies behave as animals, but operate as vicious machines.

      The gameplay footage showed a hunt for resources, allowing free movement, stealth mechanics, and reticule aiming which focuses as the view is maintained. The playable heroine can run, fall, slide into grass, dodge-roll between bushes, and this hiding is encouraged when larger and much more menacing robotic animals appear (like freaking dinosaurs).

      There are multiple weapons which seem to be selected via a wheel that runs in real time, requiring fast thinking and careful precision. Seeking weak-points is a key part of the combat: little creatures were ran up to before having their energy sources brutally ripped out, while massive enemies were fired at in separate components. Largest encounters, which require quick dodging and counter-attacking, seem to eventually end with slow-mode aiming-based executions.

      Horizon: Zero Dawn certainly looks beautiful too, showcasing lots of natural sunlight, variety between environmental landscapes, and smaller human remnants. The action was smooth, and everything shown was revealed to have been captured directly off of a PlayStation 4 system.

      What do you think about this new franchise? Which aspects of it seem most promising to you, or do you instead have differing thoughts? Either way, I look forward to reading your thoughts below!

    • Killing Floor 2 receiving more guts, more player content, and a free content pack

      2 years ago

      Ferret75

      John Gibson, president of Tripwire Interactive, opened up the PC Gaming Show by talking about the continuing evolution of Killing Floor 2. The popular first-person shooter is currently on Early Access, but the company intends to keep providing regular updates and adding new features over time. Gibson described community feedback as helping with a big learning experience, stating that players “need to see the progress.” He also expressed his initial worries with mixing the core gameplay of the original Killing Floor without ruining any fundamental successes.

      “New advanced gore tech” was displayed, showing ridiculously exaggerated amounts of spilling blood and pouring guts flying all over the place. And according to show host Sean Plott: “Murder is hilarious.”

      Additionally, a number of user-made maps were shown, with the president expressing his huge approval of community content that he was hoping would expand over time. Some shown maps had survival horror themes, others involved action-centric alien hives, and another example included a roomy mansion interior.

      New free content is also coming to Killing Floor 2 via the Incinerate ‘n Detonate Free Content Pack. With Gibson describing support for Killing Floor 2 as providing 50% more content than the game launched with, he also mentioned this particular pack adding two new maps, two new perks, and a bunch of new weapons.

      Finally, Gibson assured the audience that no more stat resets would happen due to large amounts of testing. Does this or any of the above announcements please you? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below!

    • Strafe mixes old and new-school elements into an upcoming action-packed shooter

      2 years ago

      Ferret75

      Pixel Titans showed some more footage for their upcoming game Strafe, a retro-styled shooter that recently met its Kickstarter goal. They also talked about some varied generation elements.

      The game's graphics have retro qualities amidst a bright and colorful presentation. Bullets are intentionally chunky and rectangular, there are techno themes to lots of the flooring, and the makers generally described it as a homage to older first-person shooters. You can also paint rooms red with acid and blood, just for the sake of zaniness.

      Variety seems to be a key theme in the game, with the guests talking about procedurally generated environments that would offer a different experience with every play. There are billions of possible combinations regarding map layouts, and monsters also behave differently than one another: some hide behind obstacles and wait to ambush you, while others are constantly on the offensive.

      You can also hurl your gun at an enemy once it you run out of bullets, which I thought was a pretty humorous detail that you don’t see in many shooters!

      But what do you think about the game so far? Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments down below!

    • Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn to receive additional Primals, classes, and gay marriage options

      3 years ago

      Ferret75

      For those of you who are actively playing Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, you might be interested to know that Square Enix has a number of updates planned for the game pretty soon. The game, if you're not familiar with it, is a massively multiplayer online role-playing entry in the Final Fantasy series, with features including the presence of Primal deities, the exploration of instance dungeons, reward-bearing quests for players to undertake, and a virtual player-driven in-game economy amongst other features. Anyway, the first of these announcements involves a trailer recently shared by Square Enix via a press statement; this trailer (titled "A Realm in Peril") can be seen below and focuses on the threat of Primal beings toward a number of classical settings. The additional Primals, which will also include their respective battles, will be introduced in Patch 2.3, which is to be released soon.

      Classic Final Fantasy Primals shown include Geruda, Leviathan, Remuh, Titan, and a sneak peek at Shiva.

      That's not all, however. A recent live stream hosted by producer Naoki Yoshida showed some future class additions from a later Patch 2.4 for Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, which includes a rogue class and ninja job. Rogues will be treated as a stealth class; they use dual weapons and also have their own movement and poison mechanics. The ninja job is built on the rogue class, and these ninjas have their own unique abilities which are primarily themed around ninjitsu.

      And in addition to that, Patch 2.4 will also add gay marriage options to the game, so the existing marriage feature will be extended to allow characters to marry other characters of the same sex. The current marriage system is a player-to-player feature, so this update will increase in-game relationship options between two different players in real life.

      Which of the upcoming patch features for Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn interest you? Are you already an active player or interested in picking up the game in the nearby future? Please feel free to leave your own thoughts about the additions in the comments down below!

    • The Last Guardian remains in development, Team Ico explains

      3 years ago

      Ferret75

      Being made by the same developers who created the well-received Ico and Shadow of the Colossus games, The Last Guardian has technically been in development since 2007, although not without meeting its own series of ups and downs. The game was first shown at a E3 2009 PlayStation conference event and planned for a PlayStation 3 release, with a later Tokyo Game Show event showing an expected release date of sometime in 2011, but that never happened. Ever since then, the game has occasionally come up in interviews, there have been different rumors of appearances in conferences over the years, representatives have sometimes tried to reassure the public of the game's continuing development, and there was even a recent yet false controversial announcement that The Last Guardian was apparently canceled. But despite the game's lack of an appearance at E3 2014, Sony's worldwide studios president Shuhei Yoshia confirms that The Last Guardian is still very much in active development.

      "Lots of people tweeted me they were heartbroken by that news [prior to the show]. People are going through this roller coaster of emotions, and it's our fault for not releasing the game, yet."

      Yoshia explained his understanding of the appearances of cancelation rumors, attributing it to the game's company not having released the game yet. But at the same time, he also explained that the game's not far enough in development to show it at the conference to the world yet. Across interviews on multiple websites, Yoshia appreciated the continued support of eager fans and confirmed that if The Last Guardian was ever to be actually canceled, that they would definitely say so.

      "We owe a lot to those people, but we really don't want to release piecemeal information until we can say this is The Last Guardian - so we ask you to wait."

      Are you a large fan of Team Ico's past and/or upcoming video game projects, and does the wait time for their next title concern you at all? Or are you confident in the studio and that this news comes as a relief? Please feel free to leave your comments down below!

    • Tingle appears as an assist trophy in the upcoming Smash game

      3 years ago

      Ferret75

      Has anyone here been missing Tingle? The wacky jester made his first appearance in The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask as a fairy-obsessed map seller, and since then, he's made showings as an arrested thief in Wind Waker and even a balloon combat veteran in Tingle's Balloon Fight (yeah, that was a real thing). Well, if you're looking forward to the next playable entry in the Super Smash Bros. fighting game series, then have I got some news for you! In an on-grounds demo session, someone was recording a player match for the Wii U version of the game when suddenly the green dude made his appearance. It seems that Tingle will be an assist trophy, and from what was seen, he appeared to inflate a giant balloon and then humorously float away from the battle.

      Thanks to GameXplain for the video where this image was taken from. You can watch the full video here.

      First there was the appearance of the legendary Skull Kid as an assist trophy, and now we also have Tingle! One can only hope that the next character to make an appearance in the series is the legendary Dodoh the clown from Skyward Sword. All joking aside, it's always fun to see more characters like this make cameo appearances, but what are your thoughts on the return of Tingle? Are you appreciative of the addition, or are you instead perplexed? Feel free to leave your own answers to those two questions in the comments down below!

    • Ferret's Top 5 Sega Genesis Games

      3 years ago

      Ferret75

      Hey everyone, and welcome to what will be the first of a few lists themed around Sega consoles and franchises! In my spare time when I'm not living away from home, one of my hobbies is to collect retro games, and the system that I like to collect exclusives for the most is the Sega Genesis. When I was younger, I initially started out with the sixth generation of video games, although later on I started to gain lots of interest in retro games through cartridge collecting and clone systems along with temporary system owning. Regarding Sega systems, I later had a Sega Saturn and also explored some Sega Genesis games through compilations, but I didn't own my own Sega Genesis until about a year and a half ago. As of today, the Sega Genesis has my largest collection of games and I feel like there are a lot of under-looked titles released on it as well. This especially holds true for many games on the Sega CD and Sega 32X console add-ons, whose exclusives I'll look at in later lists.

      From speedy hedgehogs to rocketing opossums to even galactic star heroes, there were lots of memorable mascots first introduced on the Sega Genesis. And like the Super Nintendo, the system also had its fair share of memorable exclusives. The Sega Genesis was the main competitor to the Super Nintendo, and while it was technically inferior in terms of audio, color amounts, and overall resolution, it did have one advantage in the form of having notably faster processing speeds; this along with Sega's campaign attempts to present the Sega Genesis as a cool and rebellious console led to wacky marketing terms such as blast processing amongst others.

      As I list my five favorite games on the system, keep in mind a couple things:

      1. I'm enforcing the classic ScrewAttack rule of only having one game listed per franchise, so if a Sonic the Hedgehog video game makes an appearance on this list, then that will be the only series entry listed.
      2. I'm only listing games that I played, so some popular Sega Genesis classics such as M.U.S.H.A. and Shining in the Darkness might not be listed here because of that. I don't want to rank games that I haven't tried.

      Now with those two rules out of the way, let's get started with entry number 5!

      5. Wonder Boy III: Monster Lair

      I love multi-genre games, video games that switch between multiple types of gameplay in order to keep the presentation and entertainment factors fresh and non-repetitive. Wonder Boy III: Monster Lair is one of these games, whose stages are evenly split into side-scrolling platformer and arcade shooter segments. The former sections involve running and jumping toward an exit while shooting enemies and maintaining a health meter that doubles as a stamina bar; the player needs to regularly collect fruit and also face off against imaginative enemies ranging from silly pelicans to tree-hanging serpents. There's flexibility in the gameplay too: some fruit can be charged with rapid shots to explode into higher amounts, the screen can be advanced faster at the cost of running through the enemy forces more quickly, and some very exciting power-ups include revolving fireballs, pinwheel shields, and amongst other weapons, lasers that fire through multiple enemies.

      Mischievous monkeys standing in the way of your fruit? Just shoot them with laser beams.

      And then the shooter segments appear, which involve maneuvering a cute dragon through exotic settings as waves of enemies are excitedly dealt with during gameplay reminiscent of horizontal shooters like R-Type and Gradius. Bosses also have unique behaviors, ranging from a giant fish that fires biologically regenerating smaller fish at you, a multi-component snake whose scales have to be shot to match a color, and even a slot machine whose attacks are based on its face values. On a whole, Wonder Boy III: Monster Lair is easy to pick up and very fun to play, and other positive factors include a beautiful citrus visual style, generally cheerful instrumental music, and fluid animation. The game has the right combination of innocent cheerfulness and delightful weirdness to it, and I'm put into a good mood whenever I play it. There's even simultaneous two-player gameplay, so you can enjoy the fruit-gathering and snake-slaughtering escapades with a friend if you want!

      4. Bio-Hazard Battle

      Here's a horizontal shooter that I imagine most people don't know much about, and when it's released in a time where arcade shooters are almost as populated as first-person shooter games are today, it can be easy to overlook this atmospheric game. The first thing that's noticeable about Bio-Hazard Battle is its outstanding instrumental soundtrack, which easily has some of the best musical layering that I've heard on the Sega Genesis. As the ships descend from the upper atmosphere, a track starts with percussion, adds a thumping beat in the background, includes some dynamic keys, and eventually transitions from mysteriousness bass-like effects to enthusiastic horn sounds. And this is just the first level; later tracks add aquatic noises for ocean levels, warped alarm ambience for boss levels, and there's even some bass tossed in some areas. This layering also complements the level design, which actually has a somewhat creepy atmosphere that really gives the impression of working through a dark world taken over by biological horrors. There are claustrophobic caves with pore-like creatures, forests filled with about-to-burst cocoons, and amongst other things, there's a volcano-invested ocean where you ultimately fight a mutated and unsettling shark. Rare for a retro shooter, Bio-Hazard Battle actually manages to provoke mood with its audio and visual themes, and I respect that.

      Just flying through the ocean in search of colony grounds when suddenly these weird... things appear.

      And this isn't even mentioning the gameplay, which is very fast-paced and generally exciting. You have a selection of four biomechanical ships to choose from, which on top of having slick designs also have differences in speed as well as weapon types. Besides charge and rapid fire attacks, there are also different colored power-ups that you can collect (and also stack) for your secondary ship, and some of the effects are really fun to mess around with here: some green attacks fire multiple weaker yet simultaneous shots around the ship, blue weapons typically have homing features, yellow attacks can destroy enemy bullets, and amongst there being other examples depending on the selected ship type, some orange weapons can excitedly ricochet off walls. The previously mentioned secondary ship is a Power Star which follows your primary ship around based on your movements; positioning the Power Star adds strategy to the game in a fun way, and it can increase your ship's defenses as well as offensive target areas. I also like the enemy design, which includes cocoons that are advantageous to avoid shooting, machines that make your ship a homing target, and other biological horrors that are part of the landscapes. Another respected feature is that touching walls doesn't kill you in this game unless you're crushed, which is something that I would personally like to see present in more shooter games.

      3. Sonic the Hedgehog 3

      Wait, arguably the most popular mascot from the Sega Genesis era doesn't have a number one entry in this list? That's correct, but I still think that this is an excellent game that's easy to get into, offers a large amount of replayability with its branching paths, and above all else is just incredibly freaking fun to play. Sonic the Hedgehog 3 carries the franchise's tradition of combining fast-paced animation speeds with well-crafted and splitting level design, letting the player zoom through colorfully appealing environments that range from tropical forests to subterranean ancient ruins to cavern-infested snow worlds. Each of these levels has multiple branches that eventually lead to a unified goal, giving the player a large degree of freedom with regards to exploration. Want to seek out giant rings and complete strategically intense three-dimensional orb stages? Go for it! Prefer to stay away from the water in a launch site? Good luck and have fun doing so! Each zone has its own memorable gadgets as well, including speedy zip-lines in Angel Island Zone, spinning blue wheels that zoom across slopes in Marble Garden Zone, and even thrilling snowboards in Ice Cap Zone. The graphics are polished and make strong use of parallax scrolling, and the music includes many memorable and upbeat tracks.

      Think you gon' fly away and get away quick? Uh uh! Give up the emerald or die, I don't love you!

      Regarding player movement, the action is fast-paced yet also has tight controls, which includes solid momentum physics that allows for controllable jump heights, simple offense, chargeable speed dashes, and the use of various environmental power-ups that add exciting features like double jumps, fire dashes, and bounce attacks. Each of these power-ups also adds environmental defenses as well, and used correctly, they can allow for some impressive speed runs. Further improving the control diversity is the presence of multiple characters with unique play styles; Tails has the ability to fly at the cost of certain power-up bonuses, and cooperative mechanics allow for the fox to carry the titular hedgehog to otherwise unreachable areas. There's a particularly impressive cooperative segment during the third zone's Robotnik boss fight, which has the two main characters coordinate their movements to make attacks while flying way up high in the sky. I can't even fit the rest of the reasons that I like this game, so here are some more rapid reasons: the levels are directly connected to play out like a single uninterrupted narrative, hidden alcoves are scattered everywhere to further improve exploration, Super Sonic is extremely fun to mess around with, and I generally like the game's visual presentation.

      2. Ecco: The Tides of Time

      While this may not be a consistently popular game, I personally have a lot of fun playing the Ecco the Dolphin games, particularly with this sequel that I feel improves a lot on the original. You take control of the world's most badass dolphin as you fight to stop aliens from taking over the world, only this time also dealing with split timelines, animal transformations, anti-gravity environments, land-based athletics, and other nonsensical things. The visual presentation is also coupled with a surprisingly serious atmosphere, some strong audio, and fast-paced animation. But what gives Ecco: The Tides of Time a major edge over its predecessor, and one of the reasons that I like it so much, is that it has very strong variety in level design as well as gameplay mechanics. After completing some challenging yet satisfying puzzles and pressing through some surprisingly dark environments, the titular dolphin is sent incredibly far into a good future where water canals traverse the skies, evolved dolphins serve as flight (you heard that right) companions, and sentient DNA-structured beings warn you about corrupted time travel branches. And then when the dolphin is later taken into a bad and mechanized future, you have to get used to jumping around on land environments, fight evil global machines with fleshy arms, and even fly around in the skies as gravity itself goes haywire. And the present isn't so bad itself, with there being numerous shape-shifting sections, pseudo-3D ring-gathering sections that involve swimming and jumping sections, exciting boss fights, and even a section where an army of dolphins attack an alien stronghold.

      What you don't know is that Ecco's actually the shark on the left. He's about to murder his own kind.

      There's notably better pacing in Ecco: The Tides of Time compared to Ecco the Dolphin, and thankfully the gameplay is fun as well. Swimming feels dynamic and can be fast-paced if you utilize dashing well, the combat offers some flexibility ranging from aimed head-butts to death sonars, and there are many puzzles that provoke thought. Puzzles in the game can sometimes be difficult, as is the necessity to simultaneously manage life and water meters, but the controls never feel unfair to the point where it seems like fake difficulty; the game also provides some helpful tools like echolocation to see detailed maps, and many of the other aquatic animals can be spoken to in order to get advice or advance the story. Animal transformation sections also appear throughout the present, where Ecco temporarily turns into a jellyfish, seagull, shark, a school of fish (don't ask me how that's possible), and even a Vortex alien. These transformations change up the controls and also create some interesting gameplay moments, such as when your own dolphin friends try to attack you while you assume a different form. One last thing that's interesting about this game is that the game continues after the credits roll; if you can believe it, there are several epilogue levels that introduce some narrative twists.

      1. Rocket Knight Adventures

      Everything about Rocket Knight Adventures is outstanding, and not only is it easily my favorite game on the Sega Genesis, but it's also one of my favorite games of all time. Where do I begin with this action side-scrolling game? Well, for starters, the art style is absolutely gorgeous, and the visuals are brimming with detail. Colors are bright and add life to the various environments involved, characters have fluid animation right down to facial expressions, and technical additions ranging all the way from lava reflections to burning architecture to multiple levels of parallax scrolling are nothing short of really trying to push the system to its limits. The game has incredible flexibility with its technical engine; the first level alone transitions from defeating vehicular troops on the ground to speedily sliding around tall trees to fighting a mechanical mini-boss amongst waterfalls to playing an exciting shooter section in the skies to eventually traversing a burning castle! It is incredible how much attention is given to the gameplay diversity, from there being multi-genre sections to differing environments strongly affecting the level design. Another level switches from swimming through smooth waterways (and during some parts, switching between foreground and background layers) to riding a mine cart with fun movement mechanics, another section involves volcanic settings where you have to pay attention to reflections in the lava, and there's even a boss fight where the combat turns into a giant robot fight! All of the action in the game has smooth controls, dynamic action, fast processing, and also plenty of rocket jumping.

      Sparkster sure seems to be excited with the tree-hanging, that or he's passed out from the engine oil.

      Did I say rocket jumping? Yes, because part of the fun of playing as the legendary rocket knight Sparkster is that you get to play around with a freaking jet pack. Besides jumping around and slashing enemies with sword attacks or projectile weapons, you can also charge the jet pack to do either an in-place spinning attack or ricochet off enemies and various landscape walls. This leads to a lot of exciting moments throughout the gameplay, and they also make the boss fights very intense. There are some very suspenseful sequences in this game, including the aforementioned shooter sections where enemy patterns change to accompany the skyward attacks and quick dodging done by the player. I could mention more aspects of the game that I really like, such as its cute comedic style for things like Sparkster being scared by surprise enemies as well as his flat disappointment during the continue screen, but I also need to mention the excellent soundtrack. Moods differ from enthusiasm to seriousness thanks to the songs supplementing the action on the screen, and the detail in instrumentals is also really impressive. A single song might have multiple layers of instruments playing in the background, including percussion beats, subtle electric guitar sounds, keyboard-like effects, and alarm ambience during boss encounters amongst other examples. This is a soundtrack that I like listening to outside of the game, and you can really tell that the developers put their hearts into it. On the whole, Rocket Knight Adventures is an excellent game, and if you have a Sega Genesis, then you absolutely should own a copy of it!

      Thanks for reading my list! Feel free to list your own favorite Sega Genesis games!

      Thank you for reading through my blog post! I know it's the first that I've made in a pretty long time, but I'm going to try to be more involved with writing now than I have been in the past. Also, regarding this specific list, by inevitably having ranked my own favorite games on the Sega Genesis system, there will understandably be some surprised at me not including certain game choices like Pulseman or Ristar, but these were the selections that I made after a lot of careful thought. But by all means, feel free to provide your own personal favorite games on the system! In the comments down below, I invite you to discuss these entries or make your own list of favorite Sega Genesis games. I look forward to reading any responses, and thanks again for any support!

    • Ferret's Top 5 Sega CD Games

      3 years ago

      Ferret75

      Hello everyone, and welcome to the second of my fun-filled lists involving older Sega systems! If you haven't seen my first list which explores my favorite Sega Genesis games, then you can click here to read it, but keep in mind that just because certain entries aren't listed there doesn't mean that I necessarily think that those absent games are bad; everyone is entitled to their own favorite selections and those just happened to be mine. Anyway, today's list explores some memorable exclusives on the Sega CD, which was an ambitious add-on device made for the Sega Genesis system. Despite being an expansion though, the add-on managed to sell about 2.7 million units, and over 200 games were released with additional homebrew titles (such as Mighty Mighty Missile and Star Strike) slowly continuing to raise that number. Some technical features added to the base system from the Sega CD included internal memory saves, almost doubled processing speeds, and disc sizes that could store over 320 times as much data as a traditional Sega Genesis cartridge. The larger game formats also allowed for things like pre-rendered cutscenes, CD-quality music, and bigger resource libraries.

      A common stereotype is that the large majority of Sega CD games were outdated full motion video games, such as the cheesy Night Trap and the bizarre shooter Midnight Raiders, but this isn't true; those games were actually a minority of titles released for the device. The add-on also had many unique shooters such as Robo Aleste, arcade game adaptations such as Starblade, memorable adventure games like Snatcher and The Space Adventure, and amongst various other genres, strong role-playing support including Shining Force CD and Vay. Some deluxe versions of prior games were also made, with additional content being included in Eternal Champions: Challenge from the Dark Side, Earthworm Jim: Special Edition, and Final Fight CD amongst other memorable examples.

      Before I get started with the list, I just want to lay down some notable rules:

      1. A lot of the Sega CD's most popular games are incredibly expensive online due to a combination of limited release stock and positive reception. While I tried to play a decent number of games for this list, some games that are too expensive for me might not make appearances since I haven't played them, even though they might be great games. You can see a partial list of those excluded titles up above.
      2. This list was originally going to include Ecco: The Tides of Time since I love the gameplay from the Sega Genesis game and also appreciate the new enhancements in the Sega CD version. The differences in the re-release include a CD-quality soundtrack which adds a stronger atmosphere to the game, and also some fantastically-presented full motion video cutscenes which re-enact the events of the first Ecco the Dolphin while still preserving the game's themes of isolated loneliness, wacky mystery, and unsettling exploration. I'm not including the game on this list in order to avoid repetition, and I wanted to talk about some other games instead. Consider Ecco: The Tides of Time as being my true number two spot if you're really curious.

      Now with those two rules out of the way, let's begin with entry number 5!

      5. Sol-Feace

      From a distance, Sol-Feace might not look particularly innovative when you consider the overabundance of arcade shooters made during the 16-bit era, but at the end of the day, it's just a very fun game. What first makes Sol-Feace stand out is the appreciated way that the game utilizes the Sega CD hardware to enhance its presentation over many other Sega Genesis titles: colorful animated scenes provide charm between segments of gameplay, the processing is faster and provides smoother control, and the CD-quality soundtrack is filled with instrumental techno tracks that overlay a seriously enthusiastic and blissful mood onto the gameplay. It's the minor details that show effort in Sol-Feace's developmental presentation, such as map objects sometimes appearing in front of the player, subtle changes in ship appearance with the slightest re-aiming of projectile launchers, and some really flexible movements with some of the jointed enemies. Settings are also decently diverse, tending to incorporate lots of machinery as well as planet-based locations such as fire-based environments. Space as a video game setting may have been done to death already, and the game's story doesn't particularly stick to me as being that memorable, but there's a charming enough presentation here.

      It's subtle, but minor background details like distant stars and planets really add to a game's presentation.

      It's the gameplay of Sol-Feace that stands out to me, particularly with its enemy design and fluid controls. In addition to some speed options, you also have specific control over the directions of your ship's three cannons; these are aimed based on specific player movements and are also reflected in the visuals. For instance, you can shoot at enemies diagonally above you while also firing lasers directly in front of you, and items can also upgrade your ship to include things like missiles. The weapon types aren't quite as varied as games like Bio-Hazard Battle, but the way you control targeting interests me and adds more importance to ship movement besides just dodging bullets. Speaking of which, Sol-Feace is a pretty difficult game, but much of the fun comes from anticipating enemies' body shapes, and reacting to the ways that they can navigate their sometimes multi-jointed structures around, to dodge them. Bosses are pretty fun too, and the Sega CD hardware allows for some more intense on-screen attacks without notable slowdown. And fun fact: the game was actually popular enough to lead to a downgraded version being later released for the Sega Genesis known as Sol-Deace.

      4. Silpheed

      Sol-Feace is a really fun arcade shooter, albeit one that might not have been too innovative, but Silpheed manages to have a more impressive visual style in my opinion which enhances the gameplay. For starters, the game has the player moving the ship into the screen instead of constantly having the same sprite size, which creates an impressive illusion of three-dimensional space to work with. There's an extra perceived depth of gameplay due to this, as enemy patterns can come from different angles and the action feels more involved. Additionally, the space environment itself supplements the gameplay by sometimes having obstacles like asteroid fields take up large amounts of the screen; this is coupled with a welcome use of voice acting that helps the player with their mission, something which you didn't really see on the Sega Genesis that often. Introduction sequences also are very well-drawn, using elaborate polygonal animations that actually are created with the native hardware as opposed to full-motion video, although subtle full-motion video (which can also show distant objects like planets) is used for in-stage backgrounds. The music is additionally cheerful, not to mention pretty memorable, and it switches mood during more intense moments like boss fights.

      Silpheed mixes pre-rendered backgrounds and native sprites in a way that actually optimizes the gameplay.

      Besides the impressive visual presentation, there's also a lot of attention to customization and control variety in Silpheed. Weapons can be unlocked and selected between missions, and you can also utilize different attacks for different sides of the ship; an example would be having a wave-like pattern come from the left side of the ship while ordinarily firing forward with the right side. Secondary weapons can also be earned which have to be carefully managed with a refillable levels gauge. And instead of having zero defenses and lives, Silpheed uses a shield system which acts as a health bar, and collected items can refill this along with providing other bonuses like points and temporary invincibility. One last cool thing to mention is how the gameplay changes as your health decreases; before dying by one final enemy collision, your ship will lose shields, suffer a decrease in weapon range, and ultimately suffer movement slowdown one by one. These minor changes add more consequences to taking damage and vary up the player's combat approaches; I really like this variety.

      3. Rise of the Dragon

      Remember Sierra Entertainment, the old game developing company that made lots of wacky adventure games such as King's Quest, Space Quest, and Police Quest? They were also involved with this noir-styled game named Rise of the Dragon, a future-based cyber-punk thriller which follows the world's most badass detective known as Blade Hunter as he seeks to stop drug shenanigans, the Chinese Mafia, and eventually an insane doomsday prophecy involving the Bahumat demon. The premise sounds silly, but the narrative itself is actually quite dark, kicking off with a mayor's daughter suffering a deadly genetic mutation before the action soon transitions to some extremely dangerous undercover activities. Blade Hunter is a private ex-cop detective who isn't afraid to get his hands dirty, and the plot is actually pretty interesting to follow, something which is assisted by some surprisingly well-done voice acting. There are many options in dialog trees which have immediate consequences, clues can be picked up and used with other characters to access new locations, and there are even some basic action sequences tossed in that involve gunplay. The crime drama and sci-fi elements also mix nicely, additionally switching between sarcastic humor and biological horror in a well-balanced way.

      How you interact with people, and even what you carry around, can have immediate consequences.

      Rise of the Dragon makes use of a time system, but it offers a lot of wiggle room and gives you enough time to explore a futuristic Los Angeles. Certain buildings are open during the day, some conversations are better-suited during specific moments, and some actions like having the police department examine evidence require you to plan out your schedule for things like scientific experimentation. The time system never feels arbitrary or unfair, and since traveling to different locations also factors into the clock, I actually find it fun to try and find the fastest way to beat the game and handle multiple leads at once. Every item in the game can not only be used, but also examined, and the character conversations add tension since your answers in them can have immediate consequences to the gameplay. The conversations feel engaging, the characters are fun and memorable, and there are also various game over situations that can occur in addition to alternate endings; this adds more overall depth to the gameplay exploration. The only major issue that I have with Rise of the Dragon is something that bothers me with almost every Sierra adventure game: it's possible to accidentally create unwinnable situations. But Rise of the Dragon does offer multiple save files and usually hints you in advance about those situations, so it's not a game breaker. Ultimately though, Rise of the Dragon is a great game to play for fans of classic point and click titles, for people looking for a fun crime drama, or even just people who enjoy solving intense puzzles. Also, here's a fun fact: Blade Hunter and Liquid Snake share the same voice actor.

      2. Sonic CD

      I know that this might be a predictable choice to have on this list, what with this being one of the few Sega CD games that most people cite as helping the device's sales, but having played Sonic CD tens of times and still enjoying it, I can't really justify putting this any lower on the list. The Sonic the Hedgehog franchise has primarily been popular for several key things: fast yet manageable speed control, memorable visual and audio charm, and well-crafted level design that not only complements the controls but also provides lots of path-branching which strongly enhances the overall replayability. Sonic CD keeps up the tradition of having unique stage designs, but it accentuates the exploration potential by adding a whole fourth dimension to the gameplay via its time travel mechanic. Rewarded through a careful speed build-up, moving through time allows the player to essentially explore up to four different versions of each zone, each version which has unique visual styles, genre-matching audio, and slightly different layout differences from one another. Past levels have more natural landscapes that rely less on machinery, and players are encouraged to seek out Robotnik's contraptions in order to alter the future time periods; the good and bad futures on the other hand are typically shorter but have differing atmospheres and reliances on mechanical devices for their level structure. There are small differences in positioning, enemies are absent in the good future, and interactive objects often have separate effects in different time periods. Sonic CD takes the path exploration from previous Sonic the Hedgehog games and extends it by adding the added dimension of time to it, and that's impressive to me. And if you don't want to seek out Robotnik's machines in the past, then you can still plan out some exciting speed-running strategies.

      If you're strong, you can try, you can reach the other side of the rainbow!

      The overall worlds are also pretty fun, although a few later levels can feel a little less varied at times. Despite that, there's plenty of speed to find in many of these zones, and the added processing speeds couple nicely with some wacky level design; Palmtree Panic uses some pseudo-3D effects and has open skies, Collision Chaos has fun pinball-like navigation which rewards careful precision, and Stardust Speedway feels like running and flipping through a rapidly-branching racetrack. Boss fights are very creative as well, including a fight to reach the top of a pinball table, an underwater battle where Robotnik's shields are also Sonic's only sources of air, and an exciting race against Sonic's metal equivalent amongst others. The bonus levels are also intense and provide an impressive sense of 3D movement despite being iffy with the depth perception at times. Lastly, I have to give a shout-out to the game's very catchy soundtrack. I really like how the music (of which I personally prefer the European/Japanese versions) complements the time periods; past versions of stages use natural instrumentals that also have a calmer and more prehistoric feel, bad futures of stages have distorted or robotic songs with metal aspects, and good futures are generally cheerful and enthusiastic. Overall, although it's not my favorite in the franchise, I really like this game; it's incredibly fun and adds a lot of exploration to the series.

      1. Lunar: The Silver Star

      Lunar: The Silver Star is a role-playing game created by Working Designs, and it's definitely one of my favorite games from that genre. Almost everything about this game is excellently designed, including its entertaining narrative. The story starts out as a simple adventure for some kids to make money off of a dragon's jewel, and it gradually evolves into something much larger that includes dragon prophecy and magic guild corruption, all while having many characters that cycle in and out of the player's party at different points in the adventure. While there are some serious moments in the narrative for sure, the game's writing also adds a lot of humor as well, which includes some cultural references, occasional sexual innuendo, funny sarcasm, childhood ignorance, relationship mess-ups, and other fun jokes at times. Starting characters include the magician-wannabe Alex, the hilariously witty flying cat Nall, the positive-spirited music singer Luna, and the greedy yet sometimes scared Ramus, and many other characters are gradually introduced throughout the story with detailed personalities that range from reserved to self-arrogant to notably light-hearted. Working Designs also paces the plot well, and the characters avoid coming off as generic. Another impressive thing is how virtually every town character has multiple things to say, and these conversations evolve over the course of the game.

      I absolutely love this game's art style, and that's not even including the beautiful animated scenes.

      Besides that, the visuals are also gorgeous and have coloring that compares well with older Final Fantasy games; over-world landscapes are carefully drawn, the enemies and characters have lots of variety, the combat is dynamic, and pretty animated sequences draw out characters and add voicing to serious moments. Many of the areas are kind of mesmerizing at times, and the game has a comfortable mood to all of the adventuring. With places including flying academies, inhabited lighthouses, traditional towns, hellish fire caves, and icy caverns amongst various others, the world is a generally fun place to explore; some areas also encourage re-visiting and branch off into smaller areas holding treasures. And besides the visuals, the game's soundtrack is also excellent, with the tracks having various instrumentals and bringing life to the environments which they play in. Intense horned pieces intensify boss battles, dungeon music usually provides creepy ambiance and overlays a level of mystery, and the opening theme song to the game is very enthusiastic and filled with smooth lyrics.

      Incorporating field movement into the turn-based combat adds a lot of depth to the very fun system.

      Lunar: The Silver Star also has a pretty unique battle system, which I could sort of describe as involving a hybridization of turn-based attacks and movement management. Attacks and spells are selected in turns like you would expect, and you can select primary targets for physical attacks, but the character's stats also give them a number of spaces which they can move around; enemies and party characters can travel in eight different directions in the battles, and with this also comes evade, flee, and auto-attack options as well. You want to avoid having a character be surrounded by six deadly plants for instance, and you might also want to distance your mages further away from the enemies to more effectively cast spells. It's an engaging system, and my only major complaint with it is that spells in this game aren't first explained until you experiment with them on your own. Besides the mystery with some items, it's well-crafted, and even the over-world has a lot of depth to it; dungeons as I mentioned earlier break off into multiple directions, some story events can be tackled in a non-linear order, and Working Designs added a welcome feature that moves your characters closer to a nearby opening if you start walking into a wall. There's a lot that I like about Lunar: The Silver Star, and there's a pretty good reason that this game was the Sega CD's best-selling title in Japan for sure: it's an excellent game overall.

      Thanks for reading my list! Feel free to list your own favorite Sega CD games!

      Thanks a lot for making it through the end of this list! If one of your favorite Sega CD games didn't make the cut, then there's still a chance that I like the game; it just might not have been one of my personal favorites. I also know there are lots of expensive gems for the add-on that go above the hundred-dollar mark, but I don't really have the finances to purchase every single one of those titles, and I didn't want to list any games that I haven't personally played. But nonetheless, I think that the Sega CD was pretty overlooked, and while it might have had some gimmicky titles like the full motion video entries, you can actually find plenty of memorable exclusives that cover various genres as well. And the games I listed here aren't the only good games on the Sega CD; if you have any that you want to talk about, then please feel free to leave your own list in the comments down below! I hope that you enjoyed reading my selections, and I look forward to seeing any of yours!

    • Retro Review - Midnight Raiders

      3 years ago

      Ferret75

      Like them or hate them, full motion video games have had a place in gaming history ever since the first arcade appearances of Astron Belt and Dragon's Lair. The genre name refers to games that use prerecorded video files for their graphics, allowing visuals to surpass what may have been possible on its current hardware; this was usually accompanied by CD-quality audio as well. Gameplay typically consisted of controlling character reactions through quick time events, although this was not always the case; differing examples include trap management in Night Trap, shooter controls in Ground Zero: Texas, and adventure gameplay in Phantasmagoria.

      Released only on the Sega CD, one of the live-action variants was Midnight Raiders. The game puts you into the role of Joker, a rookie pilot who works with several comrades in order to rescue a scientist who has deadly information on nerve gases. Participating through a combination of helicopter shooter gameplay and an intense ground section, you have to defeat numerous enemies, react to sudden obstacles, and uncover the cheesy twists of a truly ridiculous plot. The gameplay doesn't rely on quick time events but rather is built around target-based shooting. But being a game that relies heavily on full motion video, the question remains: Does Midnight Raiders end up being a fun experience, or does the core gameplay end up being underdeveloped?

      Story

      One of the stronger aspects of Midnight Raiders is its central narrative, which falls into the so bad, it's good category. You assume the role of Joker, a rookie gunner who is participating in a CIA mission to rescue a nerve gas scientist from deadly terrorists that apparently want to destroy the world. Supporting characters include Joker's veteran pilot Stryker, a snarky female backup pilot Sparks, and two mission commanders Adams and Colonel Grimsby. Joker is a super hip guy who cheerfully rebels against safety standards like wearing a helmet, Stryker offers encouragement or criticism based on player shooting times, Sparks likes to be witty despite not offering much physical support, and the commanders have opposing black and white feelings toward the crew versus the mission; random side characters like a generic big bad also make appearances. The first half of the game involves shooting down enemy helicopters while the second half features on-the-ground Rambo-style gunplay. Characters are underdeveloped and stereotypical, but in a fun way that's sure to provide some laughs.

      If Michael Bay created a video game, then the result would likely have been Midnight Raiders.

      Much of the action is intentionally over the top, with characters covering cheesy action stereotypes, action segments being crazy to the point of being entertaining, and with there being dramatic but hilariously predictable plot twists. Unlike some full motion video games which try to take themselves way too seriously or deliver an incredibly dull premise, Midnight Raiders has moments of self-awareness like with an unrealistic helicopter crash, lengthy silly shoot-outs, and commander responses to the player based on their shooting times. It doesn't aim to be realistic, but rather ends up being cheesy and funny. Clichés are also relied on; one commander is concerned for his team while the other cares solely about the mission, the main character has ridiculous odds against an insane number of soldiers in the ground section, and there are many Michael Bay explosions. The linear action narrative as a whole is so over-the-top that it's honestly pretty entertaining.

      Graphics

      Like other full motion video games, Midnight Raiders relies primarily on using prerecorded footage for much of its visuals. Unlike launch titles for the Sega CD, the video actually makes use of the full screen, so the action is less compressed. Objects are pretty distinguishable such as target boxes, actor expression, and general progression of the main plot. It still suffers from the color limitation of an older retro console, and the frame rate isn't the fastest, but the action flows more continuously and has a sense of story continuity. The branching aspect of the gameplay is also handled alright, with death scenes directly playing off previous story scenes without there being significant discontinuity. However, due to loading times, scenes will sometimes hang up, repeating video for a few seconds while the next scene starts up. Some stock footage is also used at times.

      The compression is clearly noticeable, but the action is readable enough thanks to the full screening.

      There are little graphical effects beyond the pre-rendered action scenes, with visual effects being limited to target boxes for enemies, a slow-paced cursor to illustrate the player's weapon, and smaller things like an ammo count in the game's second half. Sadly, there is a notable lack of depth in the gameplay programming, something which is immediately apparent when the menu screen consists of only basic text effects. The cursor movement speed is slowed while scenes play, ammo count has to be pulled up by dragging the cursor to a corner of the screen, and the video sometimes pauses while it seeks to the next scene. And while the target boxes will usually follow the enemy targets quickly enough, they occasionally glitch off the targets for a second.

      Audio

      The full motion video scenes all have accompanying audio, ranging from helicopter noises to gunshots to voicing. This also includes music, which consists of a few action themes that while not being that memorable can help make the plot more dramatic at times. Regarding the voice elements, the acting is actually decent and filled with variety that accompanies the different characters. Joker is filled with enthusiasm but also concern during the mission's more stressful moments, Stryker says different things based on player performance, Sparks is cheerful while also providing moments of cheesy sarcasm, and the commander roles sound formal enough. The plot is still stupid silly, but there aren't major breaks in character like an actor slipping a line.

      There are of course sound effects from the gameplay to confirm things like attacking, although they are pretty minimal and generic. Tank and helicopter weapons in the game's first half have separate sounds, loud blasts accompany fired gunshots in the game's second half to confirm individual shots, and there's a distinguishable sound for reloading in the ground section... and there isn't really a whole lot else. Apart from the gunshots sometimes being a bit loud, the only other major thing to note is that skipping cutscenes often causes second long bursts of sharp audio to play, which is likely the result of poor load programming. Those can be painful.

      Gameplay

      The first half of the game involves firing down helicopters or tanks, usually one at a time.

      Midnight Raiders is divided into two sections of gameplay, both being heavily injected with interactive story. The first half involves helicopter combat, although you don't have actual control over the piloting. Instead, enemy helicopters and tanks will appear one at a time (except for a few rare moments when you can choose between two to shoot) and you'll be given anywhere from about five to ten seconds to shoot them down. The very basic gameplay consists of aiming a target cursor into the field of an enemy's target box and firing; apart from additionally having the basic intelligence to select the right weapon button, that's it. But does it work?

      Helicopters are attacked using the B button, and tanks are attacked using the C button. While it can be mildly fun at times, one main problem with the shooting is that because the Sega Genesis controller doesn't have analog stick support, your control over the cursor feels somewhat imprecise. The game's manual also mentions there being high ammo limits (to your weapons) which are not displayed on the screen, although I never found myself running out. But it isn't just moving the actual cursor that's a problem; there's a large disconnect between video design and gameplay combat, because it feels like the full motion video was filmed without thinking about the controls beforehand. The target boxes follow the enemies, but oftentimes the camera is incredibly spastic and moves around in an unpredictable pattern. And this is a big problem, because the enemies also tend to have small hit boxes, so the typical strategy involves firing repeatedly and hoping that one of your shots makes contact; don't be surprised if you end up taking six shots trying to shoot down some enemies. Thankfully, the camera moves slower for tanks, making those more reasonable to shoot; those can be slightly fun if you look past the simple gameplay. But on a whole, the camera badly interferes with the controls.

      Midnight Raiders seems to operate on a one step forward, two steps back mentality. If you fail to shoot down an enemy, then an alternate story scene plays which ultimately leads to boarding another helicopter and then continuing the adventure; it is worth noting however that a support unit will occasionally be hit (which has very little impact on the plot) instead of you, but this is incredibly rare. Since it's not until the third failure that a game over happens, this would ideally act as a health system which provides much needed second chances. Except continuing doesn't resume where you left off; it places you on an alternate landscape path which has different enemy encounters but otherwise resets most progress made. The later paths are slightly easier than earlier paths, but they're effectively the same amount of time each, so the "health system" is almost pointless.

      The second half of the game involves shooting ground targets while navigating through a base.

      The second half of Midnight Raiders notably changes the presentation, as while you're still aiming at enemies, the game now becomes a fast-paced ground shooter. Joker is now without a vehicle and instead has to navigate through a humongous factory using nothing but his akimbo pistols, and here's where the gameplay really gets... interesting. You aim a cursor at enemies in the same way as before, only this time using the A button and having to keep track of a strict ammo count. You have something like ten to fifteen magazines in total, with each one allowing fifteen gunshots. The magazine amounts are non-intuitively seen not by pushing a reload button, but by manually dragging the cursor to the bottom right of the screen. Once pulled up, you reload by pushing A, not C which the manual (the controls are never explained in-game) is actually incorrect about. You can't see your remaining ammo amount for a magazine, so that has to be counted out loud. It unintentionally adds more pressure to the gameplay, in a way that makes the combat more intense but not particularly fair.

      While the screen doesn't shake as often during the ground section, this is balanced by the notably shorter reaction times for hitting enemies. Actually, that's not entirely correct, as the reaction times for shooting enemies is very random; some enemies will be large and give you long amounts of time to shoot them, while others might be small with their boxes and provide reaction times of less than two seconds. And this is a problem for this half of the game because missing certain enemies, whether due to imprecise controls or awkward ammo mechanics, cause death scenes to play, of which there are a surprising amount of. Also, this game doesn't have any sort of level select, so if you die here, you have to restart at the helicopter section.

      The gameplay in the ground section feels underdeveloped, and this shows in areas besides the controls and user interface. Rather than have a health system that allows you to miss a certain number of enemies before losing, some enemies will cause an instant game over, while missing some others just cause an alternate scene to play before letting you continue. There's a lot of inconsistency with which enemies cause a game over or not, and that along with the small reaction times means that getting through the second half of the game will involve trial and error memorization. And even then, aiming is still limited by eight directions. I will however note that the ground section can be extremely suspenseful due to the action presentation; because there's so much at stake combined with the constant promising of new fun plot, it can end up being thrilling at times.

      Replayability

      Midnight Raiders will take about half an hour to complete, although due to the bad controls and problems with the combat, it might take a lot of playthroughs before even getting that far into the second half. It took me over fifteen attempts to beat the game, and even then I ended up having to use a pause trick exploit to get through the last gun section. Once you do beat the game, I can't see too much of a reason to beat it again unless you want to see the wacky plot and so-bad-it's-good presentation again. The main menu does reveal difficulty options that further limit the ammo amounts, as well as an option to remove the target boxes for enemies, but there isn't really much of a point to using either option unless you want to worsen the gameplay.

      But the thing is, while there are notable design and control problems with Midnight Raiders, I've gradually grown fond of the game's presentation. The plot's enjoyable and filled with many fun moments; there are action clichés, silly plot twists, lots of Michael Bay explosions, and the characters despite being stereotyped can be somewhat likable. Midnight Raiders also has better visuals than some older full motion video games along with decent audio, although there are still limitations due to the older Sega CD hardware. However, the gameplay is flawed, in that it can be slightly fun at times but is ultimately underdeveloped and suffers from poor control and combat design; the aiming controls don't always complement the visuals, the misses system is badly designed, and some memorization is needed for the game's second half. If you can look past that though, there's an entertaining presentation to Midnight Raiders that kept me wanting to see it through to the eventual end. I wouldn't personally call this a good game, but unless you refuse to play any game with bad controls, it might be worth finding a cheap copy just for the presentation. This is the definition of a so-bad-it's-good game.

      3.5 / 10 - Buy It
      Bad
       

      3s are problematic. Any potential they have is lost from poor execution or design. Any entertainment found within in sporadic.

  • About Me

    I'm a strange person with active interests in writing and game design, hoping to go into game development someday. I used to write news articles a lot, but my blog posts now focus on retro reviews, game analysis posts, rapid thoughts, and lists. I don't write posts too often, but I really hope that you like reading them!

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