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.
SHADOW DANCER THE SECRET OF SHINOBI (1PLAYER) 89% (region free)
Shadow Dancer is not a copy of it's arcade name sake (the master system version is :) it's a different game of it's own. Released after Shinobi in the arcade, it is actually set before Revenge Of Shinobi (so does that make it Shinobi 2 then?). The game sticks to the arcade fundementals though, so as well as platforming, throwing ninja stars, saving people to pass to the next round and confronting end of level boss, Shinobi also keeps his ninja magic and faithful dog, which he can charge up and set on enemies, to buy him time to get over there and make the kill, be quick though, or pooch will get hurt, rendering him unable to attack. The graphics are very good, with some nice fire effects on the first level, the backgrounds are imaginative, and you even fight on the statue of liberty in one level. The sound and music are very good and add to the tension. If I have to pick fault with the game, it's that you loose your ninja stars power up at the start of every level and sub round, and a small life bar would have been nicer. The difficulty level is high, but it needs to be, as the game is quite short. Although it lacks the polish of 'Revenge Of Shinobi' Shadow Dancer is a very enjoyable game indeed. (only on Megadrive).
SNOW BROS. NICK & TOM (2 PLAYERS) 87% (region free)
Snow Bros is an old scool platformer in the style of Bubble Bobble, only better. The core game play remains the same, you must attack your enimies with snowballs until they become covered, then you have the choice of rolling them down the platforms, or jumping on for the ride, anything you and/or your giant snowball hits will be destroyed, leaving power up's and points behind for you to collect, once the screen is cleared of baddies, you will float up a level to the next stage a la Bubble Bobble. There are lots of reasons to like Snow Bros over Bubble Bobble, fire power that can be increased, better looking baddies and bosses, better music, more detailed and colorful backgrounds and no long pauses between levels. There is also a handy password system. (only on Megadrive).
SPIDER MAN THE ANIMATED SERIES (1 PLAYER) 60% (region free)
Why oh why can't we have a decent Spidey game for the Megadrive! This game is an action platformer based on the great T.V. cartoon of the 90's. The main problem with this game is the control, more specifically that spidey hardly ever does what you want him to do, that and the fact that it's nearly impossible not to take unavoidable cheap hits from enemies, making this a tough game. The graphics of the main Spidey sprite are O.K. but the rest is grainy and bland. The music is average, and sound effects are poor. The SNES version is a little better on the controls and enemies, but it's still not a great game. Beware if you are thinking of paying top dollar for this on ebay, you may be dissapointed. (also on SNES).
SPIDERMAN AND VENOM MAXIMUM CARNAGE (1 PLAYER) 66% (region free)
Maximum Carnage is a beat 'em up of the most repetitive nature. Spidey has some cool moves at his disposal, he can of course do the standard punches and kicks, but he can also climb walls if the action gets too hot, or lasso an enemy towards him and do a web swing kick as well as a life bar draining special move a la Final Fight. But I'm not going to compare this mindlessly boring slug fest with that great game. The graphics and animations are good, as is the audio, but Spidey must bash the same button to kill the same drone, over and over again, and even the wall crawling levels don't do enough to break the monotony, even the boss fights are repetitive and uninspiring. The SNES version is almost identical with better presentation and a slightly easier difficulty level. (also on SNES).
SPIDER MAN AND VENOM SEPARATION ANXIETY (2 PLAYER) 60% (region free)
More of the same as Maximum Carnage. C'mon Acclaim! this almost exactly the same game! Separation Anxiety gets a two player mode, a choice between Spidey and Venom, smaller sprites with worse animation, worse control response and worse music. The models used for the enemy sprites are exactly the same, and the game play just as repetitive, plus this game is even more difficult due to enemies being a bit more savvy and with extra attacks. The SNES version is the same with better graphics and music. (also on SNES)
SPIDER MAN AND X MEN ARCADES REVENGE (1 PLAYER) 75% (region free)
One of only two Spidey games worth getting on the Megadrive. Arcades Revenge is an action platformer. Each level requires you to take control of a different character each time. Spidey's first level has you collecting flashing icons in a the specific order that your Spidey sense tells you, a little difficult to control at first, and I don't like the fact that you can't shoot a web line whilst falling. The second level is where things start to get tough and you are controling wolverine, with cheap hits a plenty. The graphics are small, but this suits the nature of the levels, and the audio is average. The SNES version has more colors and better sound, but is essentially the same game. (also on SNES).
SPIDER MAN VS THE KINGPIN (1 PLAYER) 75% (region free)
In my opinion the best Spidey game on the MD. Much better controls with this action platformer, Spidey actaually responds properly, so the only difficulty you are fighting is the enemy and the level design, as it should be. Spidey has twenty four hours to find the King Pin, and along the way he will take photo's to earn money, beat up generic thugs and defenceless animals, and fight all the popular bad guys such as the Sandman and the Lizard. The meat of the game is very challenging, but not that entertaining, but the boss battles are good. The graphics are average, as is the sound. But there is a better version of this game on Mega CD, the levels are now selectable and the audio has been bettered, plus better presentation. (also on Mega CD).
STREETS OF RAGE A.K.A. BARE KNUCKLE (2 PLAYERS) 89% (region free)
Streets Of Rage is a side scrolling beat 'em up, you have a choice of three different characters, each with their own fighting styles, you can pick up weapons, such as broken bottles and knives, plus you can call the cops for assistance, this works like a smart bomb and hits everything on screen. The gameplay is a little more fleshed out than most games of this era/genre such as Final fight, because you have more moves, the level designs play more of a part, and fighting tactics are more important for success, especially in two player cooperative mode, and against bosses. The graphics are good for a MD game, detailed and colorful, small sprites, but that suits the more open nature of the play field. Both Streets Of Rage and Bare Knuckle are contained on the same cartridge. For me the best thing about the game is the thumping 90's techno sound track. If you havn't played this game in NTSC 60hz (Jap and US) then you are missing out, as the game and music runs 17% faster, and especially makes a huge difference to the music. (also on Master System, Game Gear and Mega CD).
STREETS OF RAGE 2 A.K.A. BARE KNUCKLE 2 (2 PLAYERS) 90% (region free)
Imagine exactly the same game as Streets Of Rage, but with much larger sprites, a slightly different move set, and a super move instead of the smart bomb. Some things I thinks are better, some things are not. The animation on some of the sprites look disjointed and weird (blaze's kick) and the music scores slightly lower, but is still excellent. The super moves can be activated two different ways...which is nice. Blaze's reverse kick isn't as cool. There is an extra character to choose, but I think they were struggling a bit with the ten year old black kid on skates, imaginatively named Skate. This game is technically superior to the first game in every way, but lacks the polish and charm of the first game, but only very slightly. (also on Game Gear and Xbox 360).
STREETS OF RAGE 3 A.K.A. BARE KNUCKLE 3 (2 PLAYERS) 88% (region free)
Ahh SOR 3, the one that seems to cost loads on ebay, becase it's rare? .... RARE! this game aint rare, it was one of Sega's best selling franchises, next to Sonic! So please stop paying over the odds for this cart, there are tons of them about. I have heard other reviewers mark this one down, basically because it's not SOR 2, not deserved i'm sure. SOR 3 has improved on graphics, animation and control, but not improved on music and sound effects. This is no bad thing though, just different. The Super move has followed over from SOR 2, and players can now roll up and down the screen with a double tap of the D pad. Axel is back and Dr.Zan joins the party too, in Max's place. SOR 3 does lack the soul of SOR 1 and 2, but it's still a mighty fun beat 'em up (not worth £30 though). I prefer the Japanese version if I have to choose, because it's slightly easier, Blaze is in her original colors and the bitches are more scantily clad. (only on Megadrive).
STRIDER A.K.A. STRIDER HIRYU (1 PLAYER) 89% (region free)
Strider is an arcade conversion of an action platformer, and a bloody good one too. Strider can swing a huge light saber, and perform amazing acrobatic jumps, he can also cling to walls. Set in future Russia, strider must battle all manner of cyborg creatures, to make it to the final show down with the master. The Graphics in strider are excellent, with some HUGE bosses that range from giant robot gorillas to flying around inside a Zero G nuclear reactor. There is some slow down, but that is to be expected from trying to make an exact copy of the arcade machine on inferior hardware, but it never gets in the way. The European and American releases of strider are for some reason more silent than the Japanese version, most notably the swords 'shwiiing' noise? Strider is a classy game that deserves a place in your Megadrive collection. (also on master system).
SONIC COMPILATION A.K.A. SONIC CLASSICS (1 OR 2 PLAYERS) 100% (region free)
Ha! I am cheating by reviewing this great three in one cart. But only because of the amount of sonic games, and limited space I have here, plus Sonic 1 and 2 both scored the same. Dr. Robotnics Mean Bean Machine is the weakest of the three titles on this fab cartridge so we'll start with that one then. Mean Bean Machine is a shameless copy of Puyo Puyo, but with Sonic characters. If you don't know what Puyo is, it's a puzzle game where you battle against a friend or the computer, matching colored blobs in bunches of four or more to clear the screen, every time you do this, your opponents screen will fill up with unwanted clear blobs. While not a bad thing, the original Puyo game has a little more charm. But if you already own a Puyo style game don't bother getting this one. 70%. Sonic is a fast colorful platformer, Sonic must collect rings, collecting a hundred gives sonic an extra life, finishing the round with fifty takes sonic to a rotating maze bonus stage, where you have the opportunity to collect a chaos emerald. As long as Sonic has at least one ring, he can not be killed by an enemy hit. Every level ends with a show down with Doctor Robotnic, each time astride a different hedgehog killing machine. You will have to work out his attack patterns to win. Sonic isn't particularly challenging, and you can get through it in a sitting or two, but thanks to great graphics, toe tapping music and fiendish level design, you will still come back for more. Sonic 2, is more of the same, but this time Sonic has a much needed turbo spin that you can charge on the spot and release for an instant burst of speed, instead of taking run up's to make steep inclines or loop de loops. The game also introduces a two player element, with the introduction of Tails, although the split screen works best, because in single screen mode Tails has a habit of going off screen all the time, frustrating the hell out of both players. The bonus round has changed to a psuedo 3D, collect the balls round which is a hoot. Graphicaly Sega has put a lot more detail into the worlds, but I actually prefer the cleaner, less cluttered look of Sonic 1. (also on Master System, Game Cube, PS2, Xbox, Xbox360 and probably tons more).
SONIC THE HEDGEHOG 3 (2 PLAYERS) 87% (region protected)
I'm not quite sure where Sega started to go with Sonic 3, the core game play has changed slightly, and Sonic can do a few new things, such as swing. There are new power up's and a new bonus round. The two player mode has been improved, the back drops and special effects have been juiced up, but to me all this extra detail makes the game look a bit too busy. Sonic 3 is still one of the top games on the Megadrive, but not the best sonic game in my opinion, I much prefer the purity of the first two games. (Also on Xbox360 plus tons more).
SONIC AND KNUCKLES (1 PLAYER) 85% (region free)
Probably the weakest of the Sonic platformers. More of the same, but with a few new ideas, such as vines that grab you will get on your nerves, but the core game play and look is the same as Sonic 3, only with worse back ground music and tougher bosses. This cartridge allows you to plug the Sonic 2 and Sonic 3 cartridges into the top of it. When this is done, you can take knuckles around the levels of the previous two games. A unique idea, but a novelty none the less. I think of Sonic and Knuckles as a slightly less entertaining Sonic 3. (Also on Xbox360 plus tons more).
SUPER STREET FIGHTER II THE NEW CHALLENGERS (2 PLAYERS) 87% (region protected)
SF2 really needs no intrduction, Capcoms one on one fighter comes upgraded with a few new modes and four new charcters, a six button controller is the only way to play on the MD. If you have played SF2 Championship Edition, this is more of the same with the same awful audio. While the Megadrive cannot compete in the colors and sound department against the SNES version, there are other differences too, the snes version has less boob bounce for Cammy and Chun Li, and the intro is not animated, but this is not important and I would plump for the SNES everytime. The best versions are on the Street Fighter Collection discs for Saturn and Playstation (also on SNES, Playstation, Saturn and virtual consoles).
As I mentioned earlier, this is a work in progress so if there is a MD game you would like me to review sooner, please feel free to e-mail me through e-bay ... I will be happy to push a review forward.