Tag Archives: 1993

Rise of the Dragon [Sega CD] – Review

Rise of the Dragon

Follow video games or movies closely enough and eventually you’ll see something likened to Blade Runner. I always knew of Blade Runner, but lacked the context that comes from having seen it. Finally, that moment came for me earlier this year and I’ve been able to continue the worn-out trend of likening other entertainment to it ever since. That trend continues with this write-up of Rise of the Dragon. Originally released on home computers in 1990, it was later released on the Sega CD in 1993 (1992 for those in Japan). It’s a graphic adventure so its focus is more on solving the mystery rather than gunning down criminals, although it has that too. I encountered a few lows and many dead ends playing it, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.

Oh yeah, this game was inspired by Blade Runner.
Oh yeah, this game was inspired by Blade Runner.

Just like Blade Runner, Rise of the Dragon is set in a cyberpunk version of Los Angeles, in this instance, in 2053. The protagonist – William “Blade” Hunter – is a former cop now operating as a private detective. The game follows his work on researching the death of the mayor’s daughter. While it’s known she succumbed to her drug addiction, the mayor wants Blade to bring the culprits to justice, not necessarily for the benefit of the public so much as his personal catharsis. However, what Blade becomes embroiled in winds up being much larger than lowlife druggies. Indeed, his investigations put him in the spotlight of an ancient Chinese prophecy forecasting the end of the world.

Very early on, even immediately, the supernatural elements are present. But, the majority of the game is quite grounded, for a game set in a dingy version of LA circa 2053, that is. Exploring a handful of locations throughout LA, Blade interacts with his environment and those in it. As a graphic adventure, this entailed me moving a cursor around the environment attempting to pick up or use objects, move about, and have conversations with others. Most conversations were lengthy and branching and highlighted the game’s full voiceover – unlike the PC releases. The cursor changed to indicate when an object could be interacted with, which was very helpful.

The voice work was plentiful, and not grating! Which is a compliment considering the time frame of its original release.
The voice work was plentiful, and not grating! Which is a compliment considering the time frame of its original release.

Late in the game, “arcade” sections were also present. These shifted the gameplay from the cerebral investigative fare that composed the majority of the game to shoddy action-platforming levels that played like a bad NES movie tie-in. The diversity was appreciated, especially in a genre that I view as very narrow in terms of the way players interact with it (which admittedly, a genre I’m not the most familiar with) but these sections were downright awful. Everything about them: the character movement, platforming, and gunplay, was imprecise and just not fun. A noble attempt by the developers, but this style of game was obviously not their specialty. Thankfully, they were a minor portion and not too difficult to conquer.

Worse than the “arcade” sections was the fact that I had to restart this game twice. The first time was the game’s fault entirely. When I moved an ID card from Blade’s inventory to the environment he was in, it changed into a bomb, exploded, and disappeared. I didn’t realize this at the time and it was only when I was at one of the myriad of dead ends I encountered that I turned to GameFAQs to realize I was lacking this crucial item. Not happy, but I restarted anyways. Then, I screwed myself over losing access to not one, but both of the guns Blade acquires throughout the four days the game covers. Again, I restarted. These instances were a blessing though, as I was able to blow through all I had previously accomplished and became very familiar with the first ¾ of the game. These were disheartening events in the moment, but not so much that they lingered with me and colored my overall experience negatively.

Rise of the Dragon - Spare Me
The arcade sections were Rough (with a capital R).

As far as Sega CD games go, Rise of the Dragon ranks high on the list of quality experiences. It’s an enjoyable graphic adventure full of mystery and intrigue. The full voiceover honestly astounded me too, not just because it was present, but in part because it wasn’t totally garbage. Despite encountering many dead ends and having to turn to GameFAQs often, the majority of the game was fun to experience. Of course, the “arcade” sections weren’t and neither was having to restart twice, but these negative aspects didn’t turn me away. Rise of the Dragon is a worthwhile game in any Sega CD collection.

Also, I did a comprehensive playthrough of this game and published the series on YouTube. The playlist below includes the ten episodes I recorded which translates to roughly five hours with the game and chronicles everything from the game’s conclusion to the multiple times I had to start from scratch.

Cliffhanger [Sega CD] – First Impressions

Stallone’s outfit seems a little bare for the Rockies.

When the failed heist of a treasury plane leaves John Lithgow and his group of robbers abandoned in the Rocky Mountains, they force rescuer/mountain climber Sylvester Stallone to locate the lost suitcases of money and get them out alive. This introduction is what one gleams after watching the ten or so minutes of low-quality, grainy footage that sets the stage for the first level of the Sega CD video game based off of the 1993 film, Cliffhanger. Developed by Malibu Interactive and published by Sony Imagesoft, Cliffhanger features awful beat ‘em gameplay interspersed with fast-paced 3D snowboarding and dire video clips.

Fighting the dozens of enemies was unpleasant thanks to Stallone’s slow movement, limited selection of attacks, and poor hit detection, among other deterrents.

After locating one of the lost suitcases, Stallone is on his own as he proceeds to traverse and scale peaks that contain way more enemies than one was lead to believe was with Lithgow. The beat ‘em up gameplay that ensues is awful. The stages are full of banal action that manages to be infuriatingly cheap. Stallone moves like a child with a dozer load in his diaper and after every hit he takes, he collapses onto his batch of brownies. This Stallone is not the Rocky who can take the hits, and deal them out with more determination and intensity than his foes. Thankfully, the enemies also can’t take a beating and are out cold after two or three hits. But when it comes to scaling cliffs, don’t even bother. Resting on perches are snipers who can’t be touched, so don’t worry, Stallone’s just going to have to man up and take a few bullets. The lives will be lost and continues will be used – thankfully the game doles out a combined twenty-one chances to outwit Lithgow, but you’re gonna blow through them on the snowboarding sections.

When he’s not killing thugs with his bare hands (or wussing out by using a knife or gun), he’s hitting the slopes and getting his daredevil thrills by outrunning avalanches. How Stallone can go from falling on his ass to outrunning avalanches is a weird disparity in pacing. These stages of the game are quasi-3D with Stallone shredding into the screen while dodging boulders and bushes. Speaking of infuriatingly cheap, it was one of these stages that I rage quit and decided I could spend my time better. Still, the fast-paced gameplay of the snowboarding sections was the complete opposite of the worthless beat ‘em sections and for that, I almost enjoyed it.

This game was released for other systems back in the day (Genesis, SNES, Game Boy, and Game Gear) but this was the only version to feature snowboarding sections.

Cliffhanger’s beat ‘em up gameplay pales in comparison to the titans of the genre and its snowboarding sections are a thrill, but too long for their own good. The soundtrack was ridiculously clear, but I don’t care. The best part of Cliffhanger was the twenty minutes of malodorous video, and that’s saying something.

Lethal Enforcers – First Impressions

On consoles, Lethal Enforcers was released in a massive cardboard box that could contain the Konami Justifier.

Back when arcades ruled the video game roost, light gun games were widespread. The genre wasn’t as ubiquitous on home consoles, but it seems like each console from back in the day had a light gun. One game with a big presence back then was Lethal Enforcers. It was originally released as an arcade game in 1992, but was ported to the Genesis, Super Nintendo, and Sega CD from 1993-1994. Developed and published by Konami, each version came bundled with the Konami Justifier, a blue light gun modeled after the Cult Python, the iconic .357 Magnum revolver. Enabling cooperative play is the harder to find pink light gun, although it works across all three platforms.

The Genesis and Sega CD versions were very grainy.

Lethal Enforcers contains little narrative, but little is needed. Crime is being committed and as a cop, it’s your (and your partner’s) duty to uphold the law. You’ll shoot through scenes in which bad guys pop their heads up from cover looking to blow yours off. Without quick timing and precise accuracy, game over comes quickly. Once those qualities are on lock-down though, you might just be able to make your city a little cleaner. While that sounded like an ad, that’s pretty much the best way I can sum up the game.

My friend and I played the Genesis and Sega CD versions of Lethal Enforcers and I only noticed one difference between the two versions – the soundtrack of the Sega CD version was of a higher quality. Both games looked identical, although the Sega CD version should look much better than its Genesis counterpart. I imagine the Super Nintendo version is identical to the Genesis version, although without playing it myself, I can’t say with certainty.

My friend and I had a rough go at the game. It was easy to complete the first level, a bank robbery, and even do so without losing lives, but to unlock the next level, we had to have 70% accuracy. We eventually managed this, but the second level, a trip to Chinatown, upped the difficulty, while also asking us to have even better accuracy. The game has five stages and I’m sure this continues to be the case throughout the game.

This scene played like an episode of The Flintstones – my friend and I saw, like, thirty National Rubber Stamp Companies.

I really enjoy light gun games, and Lethal Enforcers seems to be one of the genre’s better examples. It’s tough, but it doesn’t force players to memorize enemy locations. With quick reflexes and good accuracy, anyone can have fun. Playing cooperatively is a treat because at that point, you’re into the experience for at least thirty bucks, but it’s definitely much more fun with a partner. Lethal Enforcers is a fun game, although for the best experience, it will be slightly costly/difficult to track down. It’s worth noting that Lethal Enforcers won’t work on HDTVs so if you’re interested, make sure you have a CRT TV or something you can play it on.

X-Men – First Impressions

My favorite part about finding a complete copy of X-Men? The sweet poster that it came with!

Maybe my friend and I didn’t like X-Men on the Sega Genesis because we were hoping for something different. We, or at least I, thought it would be a beat ‘em up, more specifically a port of the well regarded 1992 arcade game. But X-Men is more of a platformer than a beat ‘em up and not a very fun one.

X-Men was developed by Western Technologies and published by Sega for the Genesis in 1993. My friend and I were able to assume the role of one of the four selectable characters. We got to pick from Gambit, Nightcrawler, Wolverine, and Cyclops, but there were many more appearances from familiar faces in the form of backup attacks.

After picking our characters we messed around for about a minute in the Danger Room before the game threw us into the first stage. It was evocative of a prehistoric time when cavemen roamed, but instead our enemies were leopardmen and pterodactyls. Combat was pretty basic, a jump button, attack button, and a special button, but it was somewhat clunky and it didn’t feel great.

From the heads-up display, to the graphics, to the combat, I found pretty much every aspect of X-Men to be lackluster.

The stage required us to move upwards besides just to the right, but the camera was kind of wonky with two players on screen. We fell off screen plenty of times, but Jean Grey would save us, as long as we had health. This was hard to get used to, especially with enemies and other threats throughout the stage. Scaling the stages was different but it was difficult to do in tandem. I also didn’t like the animation and the design of the first stage honestly.

My friend and I couldn’t get through the first stage of X-Men. We had a hard time figuring out the camera and it caused us much strife. I played it by myself to get a perspective of the single player and I was able to get farther, but I wasn’t interested in putting much more time into it. The soundtrack was a divisive topic between us. It was very abrasive, making obnoxious sounds, but I liked that it was different, my friend felt differently.

I thought X-Men was a poor game overall. In every department it feels like the game comes up short and I can’t imagine playing through it anytime soon.

Family Feud – Review

It seems that GameTek had the market cornered when it came to game show video games in the nineties.

Having not played anything multiplayer on my Super Nintendo Entertainment System in a long time, my friend and I decided to hook it up. The first game we decided to play was Family Feud. It was developed by Imagineering and published by GameTek in 1993. The game recreated the TV show well and my friend and I had a good time playing it, but there are probably newer, better video game versions of the TV show.

After giving our families obscenity-ridden names we played the bull’s-eye round. The host asked us questions (five total, one for each family member) and we had to buzz in and guess the number one answer and whoever got it right won money. This round acted to boost our winnings, which only mattered if we wrote down the code at the end of the game to keep playing with the winning family, a neat feature.

I don't think I could name all the places that people fight over taxis.

After the bull’s-eye round, we played the main rounds of Family Feud. The host asked us a question and we had to guess what the top answers were, just like the TV show. The game continued this way until one of us had surpassed three hundred points, thereby defeating the other team and continuing into the final round, the fast money round.

In this round, two of the winning family’s members had to answer specific questions, aiming to reach a total of two hundred points, and winning the fast money round. If they didn’t crack two hundred points, they would be awarded five dollars for each point.

Family Feud on the SNES recreated the show well, but being nearly twenty years old now, it probably isn’t the ideal version to play. There wasn’t a lot going on graphically; the interface looked fine and was understandable, but the animation for the contestants was terrible. Answering required my friend and I to spell out our answer using an alphabet box, and this worked fine. We only played one game so we didn’t play through many questions, but some of the answers were not that obvious. We had a fun time playing Family Feud, chastising each other’s answers and just horsing around, and are up for playing it again.