Debuting on the Master System in late 1986, just after the console launched in North America, The Ninja is a fantastic port of Ninja Princess, a little-known arcade game Sega released the year prior. Gameplay is of the run and gun shoot ‘em up variety, akin to subgenre classics like Commandoand Ikari Warriors, although Ninja Princess predates both; as does its setting, the main differentiating factor between this and many early entries within the subgenre. Despite a run time of about ten minutes, it took me hours and days to complete, resulting in a very rewarding finish! More importantly, I thought it was well designed, enjoyable, and worth my time. It’s the first game I’ve played on the Master System whose quality surprised me, a true hidden gem. Continue reading The Ninja [Sega Master System] – Review and Let’s Play→
Black Belt, originally released in Japan as a tie-in to the Hokuto no Ken manga and anime, saw many changes when it debuted outside of Japan. Nearly all traces of the source material, known as Fist of the North Star elsewhere, were removed or altered, save for the protagonist’s gruesome ability to punch foes into exploding bits. With or without the branding, it’s little more than a simplistic beat ‘em up; Sega did nothing to advance the genre, content instead to pump out a clone of Irem’s Kung Fu Master. Boss fights offered a brief glimpse of challenge and fulfillment but the difficulty of some was off-putting without the use of cheats. Continue reading Black Belt [Sega Master System] – Review and Let’s Play→
Ghostbusters really caught me by surprise. My formative video game years occurred during a generation when almost every movie tie-in was garbage. It wasn’t always that way but I was nonetheless blown away by the ambition and, mostly, enjoyable execution of the multiple gameplay genres and mechanics in this game. Further research shed a light on why I felt this way: David Crane designed it! He was one of the early luminaries of the video game industry with a spate of terrific and influential titles to his name. Now truly, this game didn’t begin life as a Ghostbusters tie-in, but the concepts originating in the film were applied and executed in such a way that that fact is not obvious. Continue reading Ghostbusters [Sega Master System] – Review and Let’s Play→
Just as the Sega Master System’s version of After Burner was disappointing, so too was its port of Thunder Blade, Sega’s 1987 arcade shoot ‘em up. Having not played any version of Thunder Blade beforehand, I lack a reference point for the game although I feel confident in asserting this was an underwhelming port. Its portrayal of two separate styles of gameplay was competent but bland. After encountering early difficulties, I decided against devoting too much time towards the game’s completion.
Besides Kangaroo, Sssnake was the other Atari 2600 game I used to take a break from the Sega Master System. It was developed and published by Data Age in 1982 and it wasn’t much fun.
I played as a big game hunter who had an unfortunate role reversal. Holed up in an Amazonian fortress, I navigated said hunter (represented by a lemon, fittingly) around the inside perimeter of his enclave while all manner of beasts attacked the outside walls. My range of movement was limited to a fixed track the hunter’s cluster gun resided on. Thankfully, the beasts posed no threat and served only as score fodder. Snakes on the other hand would slither along a predetermined path, occasionally entering the hunter’s fortress.
Although the rate of play gradually increased, the difficulty level was never much of a concern. Avoiding the snakes, the sole threat, was easily done since they never varied from their routes. The lack of difficulty meant obtaining a high score wasn’t anything to squawk about, let alone strive for. Speaking of limited variation, the entire game took place on the same unchanging stage, which fit with the backstory, but didn’t do much to keep me interested. Finally, movement was awkward due to direction limitations based around my position on either horizontal or vertical walls. It seemed like the game would’ve functioned better with paddle controllers, but that’s Sssnake in a nutshell. Had a few decisions gone differently, it may have turned out differently.
After completing Ys: The Vanished Omens, I decided to pause my Sega Master System playthroughs and turn my attention to a couple of recently acquired Atari 2600 games. Kangaroo was the first on my list. Published by Atari in 1983, it’s a port of the Sun Electronics (Sunsoft) arcade game released the year before, itself a derivative of Nintendo’s Donkey Kong. Playing as a mother kangaroo, I had to scale three distinct stages to rescue her captive joey. Along the way, I dealt with an endless barrel of apple throwing monkeys by boxing them into submission or avoiding them altogether. Continue reading Kangaroo [Atari 2600] – Review and Let’s Play→