Hello again, welcome to my A to Z games review of over 260 of the best (most popular) Megadrive titles. I will give a brief description of each game and rate it from 1 to 100%, accordingly games will be judged against other consoles from their era. As a bonus I will say if a game is region protected or not (i.e if a game is region protected, it will only play on a machine from the same country, or will need a converter) I will also say if the game is known by another name, or if it is availible for other consoles. konami*man.
DARIUS II A.K.A SAGAIA (1 PLAYER) 80% (region free)
Darius II is an arcade conversion of the popular dual screen side scrolling shooter, and a pretty good one at that. At the start you get a choice of two craft, and I suggest you pick Tiat, because he starts with more guns, and after the easy peasy first level things get silly hard, but this is true of every version of the game I've ever played. There are two shot buttons, one for guns the other for bombs, which you will keep pressed all the time. Power ups are released when you successfully destroy a chain of enemy. Bizzarly, the theme is space and fish, all the enemies, including the huge bosses have a decidedly piscean look to them, but it's not naff, it's funky, and bosses are anounced with warnings and sirens. On completion of the first level, you are offered multiple paths to choose your route through the rest of the game, it wont matter which you choose though, all are harder than Manny Paquiao. The graphics mimic the original pretty well with nice parallax scrolling and sprite rotation effects, but the music has had the MD treatment, although it isn't awful. There are a few different versions of Darius II on other consoles, but not all are faithful conversions, the only true conversion is on the Saturn, but my favorite is on the PC Engine CD, which has slightly different level lay out and the best music. This game is screaming out for infinate continues, or better still an action replay cheat cartridge, because no matter what console you play Darius II on, this isn't for casual shooter fans, only the hardcore need apply, which is why it doesn't score higher. (also on Master System, Saturn and PC Engine CD).
DASHIN' DESPERADOES (2 PLAYER) 70% (region free)
Dashin' Desperadoes is a split screen, against the clock (and your opponent) platform racer of sorts, the premise is to beat your opponent to the finish, whilst avoiding obsticals, and trying to foul up your competitors progress, by throwing bombs or triggering hazzards, the controls are simple, sprint, jump and bomb. The graphics are well drawn and colorful, with some nice backdrops to race along, the music is pretty good too, with themed jingles for every location, but the voice samples suffer from what I am now calling MD Dalek syndrome, like talking through a fan I suppose... not a fault of the game per se, but it is present in 90% of MD speech samples. But Dashin' Desperadoes is it's own worst enemy, the screen is simply too busy, which upsets what could have been a nice flowing race, with bombs and traps, instead of filling the levels with frustration. (only on Megadrive).
DEMOLITION MAN (1 PLAYER) 80% (region free)
Demolition man is split between two game styles, the first is a side scrolling platform shooter, whilst the second is, a top down shooter, a little like 'Smash TV' (which is the weaker of the two). The game is loosely based on the film, the first level starts on the roof tops, where you capture the wesley snipes character, then after that is set in the utopian future. The opening level is pretty dramatic, you bungie from a helicopter, firing on thugs, who are atop a flaming building, you can fire in any direction, climb, jump, pick up extra guns and health, and throw grenades. The graphics are pretty good, if a little dark and grainy, and the animation of the main sprite is very good. The music and sound effects are good also. The difficulty level is hard to start and the second style of level, doesn't look or play as well as the first. The snes version features more graphical effects, but slower gameplay, but I would plump for this as the action is manic anyway. There is a 3DO game but it is very different. (also on Mega CD and SNES).
DEVILISH THE NEXT POSSESION A.K.A. BAD OMEN (2 PLAYER) 88% (region free)
Devilish is a brilliant pong type game, with a evil monster style theme. Instantly playable form the get go, you have two paddles to control. one stays horizontal at the bottom of the screen while the other can moved around and switched to left or right, this is because the play area often takes you on routes apart from straight up the screen, chests reveal power up's such as smart bombs, and flaming dragons. The graphics, while simple do the job and are atmospheric, the opening graveyard level has grave stones to smash through, skeletons to kill and a big demon beast boss to kill at the end. There is a time limit, but that doesn't come into play untill level three, where you have to battle a teleporting tree demon boss that's harder to hit. The difficulty level is perfect, each time you play, you get a little further. The audio is so so, with great tunes that the MD's sound chip can't really make the most of. I really liked this game, and if you like pong and monsters, you will too. (only on Megadrive).
DICK TRACY (1 PLAYER) 67% (region free)
Dick Tracy is a fairly original game, it's a side scrolling platform shooter, the A button fires your pistol left and right at enimies in the foreground, whilst the C button fires your tommy gun at enimies in the background, if they get too close tracy will punch them out, the B button is jump. The platform levels require tracy to go at it with only his fists, but this doesn't work so well because tracy's platforming abilities are lame, and the way that projectile throwing enemies are to be dealt with mean that you end up taking unavoidable hits, thus losing most of your continues on these stages. There is also a bonus stage that requires you to shoot cardboard bad guy's in a shooting gallery. The graphics are well drawn, with decent animation, but have a sparce empty look, and the sound is pretty dire with minimal sound effects and forgettable blippy bloppy music, but that isn't the problem with this game. The difficulty level is simply too high for all the cheap shots you will take, bonuses are apparently earned by not shooting out any scenery, impossible because there is no cross hair, bullets just hit the background and you steer them with the D pad. If lives and health could be picked up along the way this would help a little, but Dick Tracey feels rushed and unfinished. (also on Master System).
DINOSAURS FOR HIRE, TOM MASON'S (2 PLAYERS) 80% (region protected)
Dinosaur's for hire is desperately trying to be Probotector (Contra). Do you see that giant turtle creature in the screen shot? it's almost exactly the same as the one from the 3D level in the SNES Probotector, which begs the question why we didn't get a port of the awesome SNES version, instead of the pretty, but unplayable game that MD owners got. In many ways this is much better than the MD Probotector, at the beginning of the game you choose between 3 gun toting dino's, you can even have simultaneous two player if you wish, then on to the platform shooter stages, that take place in the cities streets and sewers. The game is broken up into platform and boss stages, the first boss is a giant Minataur, fought atop the empire state building. Dino's For Hire controls and plays very well indeed, your character can fire in all directions, jump or drop platforms, and can perform a melee swipe when baddies are too close to shoot. Dino's For Hire does have some little niggles though, and they are little against the excellent playability. First up the graphics, moments of greatness, such as the HUGE sprite scaling bosses and fantastic, and sometimes comedy animation on the main sprites, and some bland level designs with an un-imaginative use of the MD's color pallete. Next the audio, the tunes are are pacey, but forgettable and average, with hardly any sound effects for your dino's and their guns. Lastly, there is no difference in the three dino's abilities, only outward appearances, your gun only powers up twice (same sound effect) and sometimes you have to suffer cheap shots from the enemy. But all in all this is a cracking little game, that I can't believe I have overlooked all these years. (only on Megadrive).
DONALD STARRING IN MAUI MALLARD (1 PLAYER) 80% (region free)
Maui mallard is another Indiana Jones style platformer with Donald Duck in it. Donald must find treasure and traverse the treaturous platforms and traps. Donald is armed with a gun that can fire several types of bug that he collects, from level two he has the ability to transform into a ninja with a bo staff. Donald's enemies are mostly bugs, ninjas and ghostly butlers of all things, the bosses are inventive, as you would expect from a disney game, in the first level you fight a giant mechanical spider, the game has an aztec theme to it. Donald must jump, shoot, climb and work out simple traps. There is an issue of collision detection with the game, but it's not so bad that it spoils things, also Donald takes quite alot to kill thankfully. The level designs are very good, with Donald often disappearing to and from the background, and getting blown around in the wind, and the graphics and sound I thought were quite good, untill I saw the SNES version that is. I would have scored the game slightly higher if it weren't for the vastly superior SNES version, although the MD version does feature the core of the game, with slightly different level lay out, and different bonus rounds, plus the MD version is slightly easier, but frankly the SNES version blows this out of the water. (also on SNES).
DOUBLE DRAGON (2 PLAYERS) 50% (region free)
If you are a fan of the arcade machine prepare to be disappointed. The MD version of this famous and much loved side scrolling beat 'em up improves in some ways, but fails in most. The visuals and animation are improved, with none of the sprite flicker that the arcade version was plagued with, there are more colors, and more detail in the backgrounds. But alas the control response and colision detection are truly awful, it is nigh on impossible to land a pre planned flying kick, and the weapons are hardly worth picking up at all, due to either the dodgy colision detection, range and more inexplicably, a refusal to work at all, despite how fast you mash the button, all the moves from the arcade are here, they're just useless. Even if you're not being beaten senseless because your player wont do as he's told, those great ledges in the original that you used to use for cheap kills are more of a danger to yourself rather than the enemies. Oh, and the music is truly dreadful too. Unfortunately this is as good as it gets for Double Dragon games on the MD, tied with Double Dragon 3, which has larger better sprites, much better music, worse backgrounds, and the same clunky gameplay. The less said about Double Dragon 2 and Double Dragon 5, the better. The best console version in my opinion is on the Master System, sure it suffers sprite flicker and slowdown, but at least your character does what he's told. (also on NES and Master System).
DYNAMITE DUKE (1 PLAYER) 70% (region free)
One of the early MD games, Dynamite Duke is a third person shooter, and the action scrolls from right to left, much like 'Operation Wolf''. Your hero is armed with a gun, that can be upgraded by shooting power up icons, as well as punches and kicks. Duke's party piece is to charge his punch, by holding the button till the bar fills, and then unleashing a mini nuclear blast, providing you have some in reserve (you get five per continue). Holding the fire button glues Duke to the spot, so you have to do it in bursts to avoid enemy fire. As I mentioned, the on screen action is just like 'Operation Wolf', with soldiers tanks, and super soldiers, who have better weapons, and are that little bit harder kill. Every now and then a mini boss turns up, and I have to say that the boss encouters could be done better. The skill is taken from boss encounters completely, they briefly fire at you before getting in your face, at which point you can not avoid hits, and the only option is to mash the punch button, or charge up your blast attack, it really is a case of how much energy you have left, verses how many continues. The graphics are old school, not terrible, I mean they look old, the same goes for the sound. But Dynamite Duke is a pick up and play, then throw away arcade game, and it does that quite well at least, just don't expect any substance or skill. (also on Master System).
DYNAMITE HEADDY (1 PLAYER) 90% (region free)
Hahaha! This game is mental, and I love it, you take the role of Headdy the puppet on a large roller coaster type theatre stage, you are able to change heads by picking up various wacky power up's, each with various attributes, you must use your head to, smash, spike, vacuum, swing, climb and collect bonus' and power up's. The graphics are really quite special, and I think Treasure must have used every single color, in every single level available to the megadrive, the sound is eququaly madcap, with a kind of fun fair style to it. The speech samples also deserve a mention too, never before has Megadrive speech sounded so clear and crisp. However technically amazing Dynamite Headdy is, it's the gameplay that matters, and it's just non stop right from the start, you are bombarded with things to do, mini games and mini bosses appear often and frequently (a feature I really like). Headdy is not a game to play with a hangover thats for sure!
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