Sega Roms Information

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Toe Jam & Earl

Toe Jam & Earl refers to a series of video games published by Sega, concerning the adventures of the eponymous characters, both aliens from the planet Funkotron: Toe Jam, a three-legged, stalk-eyed creature, and Big Earl, a giant sluglike being. All the games employ music and style derived from early-1970s funk music and culture, similar in some respects to the blaxploitation films of that period. The games were created by Toe Jam & Earl Productions Inc., of San Rafael, California.

Contents 1 Toe Jam & Earl
2 Toe Jam & Earl 2: Panic on Funkotron
3 Toe Jam & Earl III: Mission To Earth
4 Other Appearances


Toe Jam & Earl
The original Toe Jam & Earl, a two-dimensional action game, was released for the Sega Genesis game console in 1991. The game's premise starts with Toe Jam & Earl cruising the stars in their spaceship, when Toe Jam decides to let Earl drive. As a result, the pair crash-land on Earth, their spaceship broken into ten pieces. They must search for the pieces and reassemble their spaceship in order to return home to the planet Funkotron. As they do so, they face a variety of Earthlings that stand in their way, such as the Insane Dentist, Shopping Cart Mom, Nerd Herd, Cupid, and the Phantom Ice Cream Truck, each of which causes the player to lose health and eventually lives.

To defend against the Earthlings, a variety of power-ups are provided in the form of presents. Each present appears as a differently-wrapped package, which must be identified either by opening it or by other means. Some presents offer increased mobility for a limited time, such as the Super Hightops (increased speed), Spring Shoes (ability to jump), and Icarus Wings (flight). Other presents provide bonuses, such as extra bucks (which may be used to mail-order presents at mailboxes or to have presents identified by the Wise Man in the Carrot Suit without opening them) or extra lives. Still others are harmful, such as Schoolbook (puts the player to sleep for a time, making them vulnerable to attack) or Randomizer (scrambles all identified presents, requiring them to be identified all over again). Health bonuses in the form of food items are also found; some food items, however, cause the player to lose health rather than gain it.

The game has twenty levels, which are logically arranged vertically, one above the other. Players progress upward through the levels by means of an elevator, which appears on each map. Levels also have cliff edges, which the unwary player can fall from, landing on the next-lower level. The terrain also presents hazards such as deserts and lakes.

The game's two-player cooperative play is one of its most unique features. When two players play, the game keeps them on the same screen whenever feasible, but switches to split-screen rendering if they get far enough apart. Players can assist one another by performing a high five, which equalizes health between the two. A special present, Togetherness, allows a player to teleport to the other player's location.

Toe Jam & Earl was a hit on the Genesis platform; it has been suggested by some that, were it not for Sonic the Hedgehog, Toe Jam and Earl could have become the platform's unofficial mascots. The game appeared on top lists of rentals for years after its release, and is one of the best-remembered Genesis titles.


Toe Jam & Earl 2: Panic on Funkotron
A sequel to the original in the form of a side-scrolling game, Toe Jam & Earl 2: Panic on Funkotron was released for the Genesis in 1993. In this game, a number of Earthlings have stowed away on Toe Jam and Earl's spaceship, and are now infesting Funkotron. Toe Jam and Earl must capture the Earthlings in jars, and ship them back to Earth in rocket ships at the end of each level.

The player has a variety of "funk powers" to assist in evading and capturing the earthlings, such as Funk Move (allowing the player to pass through walls and other objects) and Funk Scan (revealing hidden items). Other bonuses are also found throughout the game, including minigames such as Jam Out (a rhythm-matching game requiring the player to press the controller buttons to match patterns shown on screen) and Hyperfunk Zones (a time-limited race to pick up bonuses). Presents and food items also show up, in a manner similar to that of the original game. Progress can be saved by means of passwords that are presented at specific points.

Panic on Funkotron has its fans, but many gamers thought the original Toe Jam & Earl was the better game of the two.


Toe Jam & Earl III: Mission To Earth
The third game in the series was originally intended for the Sega Dreamcast console, but, after Sega discontinued the Dreamcast, the game was retargeted at the Microsoft Xbox. A three-dimensional platform game, it was released in October 2002. The gameplay is primarily based on that of the original Toe Jam & Earl, though elements from Panic on Funkotron were also included.

For the more-capable platform, Toe Jam and Earl were given graphical makeovers; Toe Jam was dressed in a tank top, shorts, and a baseball cap to accompany his gold medallion, while Big Earl's polka-dot Bermuda shorts were replaced by blue denim, and he was given a knit cap. The two characters are joined by Latisha, a blue female insect-like character in blue jeans, a bra top, and gold bangle jewelry. Players may play as any of the three, and may switch between characters in mid-game using the Character Switch Platforms. (Additional playable characters may be downloaded via Xbox Live, as well as additional levels.)

The three are called upon by Lamont, the Funkopotamus (ruler of Funkotron and source of all Funk), to retrieve the twelve Sacred Albums of Funk, which have been stolen and hidden on Earth. As with the original Toe Jam & Earl, a variety of Earthlings stand in the way, many of which have carried over from the first two games. To fight against them, the player can use "funk powers" (as in Panic on Funkotron) such as Funk-Fu, a short-range energy blast, and Funkify Notes, which can be launched at enemies from a distance, to "funkify" the Earthlings and render them harmless. Presents and food items, many of which carry over from Toe Jam & Earl as well, are available to assist or hinder the player. The rhythm-matching from Panic on Funkotron also makes an appearance, in the form of Funk Rhythm, which funkifies nearby Earthlings or gives the player bonus points for matching rhythms by pressing the controller's buttons.

The levels, instead of being arranged in a linear fashion, are grouped into five zones, and accessed by collecting keys scattered throughout the levels. Each zone contains its own set of levels, as well as minigames in which the player must compete against the clock to win bonuses. The gates between zones are opened through special minigames, which must be accessed by collecting karaoke microphones, each of which requires the completion of a mission in one of the levels to acquire. Gradually, however, a more critical purpose is revealed, through cut scenes in which Lamont, in lines reminiscent of Star Wars (such as "I feel a great disturbance in the Funk"), tells the player of the existence of the "Anti-Funk," the game's final boss. Progress through the game is saved to the Xbox console's hard disk drive.

Toe Jam & Earl III received mixed reviews in the gaming community. Some reviewers felt it was one of the best platform games available on any console. Others dismissed it as suitable for fans of the original but otherwise relatively pedestrian.


Other Appearances
Toe Jam and Earl also appeared in Ready-Aim-Tomatoes!, a game packaged with the light gun for the Genesis, which involved Toe Jam fighting off Earthlings by throwing tomatoes.

12:39 PM | 100 comments

Football World Cup video games

FIFA has licensed Football World Cup video games since 1986, of which only a few were received positively by the critics, but given the popularity of the competition, they all did positively on the market, and the license is one of the most sought-after. Originally in the hands of U.S. Gold, Electronic Arts acquired it in 1997.


World Cup Carnival

C64 versionWorld Cup Carnival, released by U.S. Gold was arguably the worst start a franchise could have. While the license was acquired in time and was carefully planned, internal problems dragged development until it couldn't be completed nowhere near a commercially usable date. As Mexico '86 was coming closer, U.S. Gold decided to acquire the rights of an older game, World Cup Football by Artic, and re-fitting it with the licensing items, marketing it as a revolutionary title. However, this late effort was received with cynicism from everyone in the video game industry: gamers, retailers and reviewers, and started a trend of "less than what was expected" games based on football licenses. It was published on the C64, the ZX Spectrum and the Amstrad CPC.


Italia '90
There are three games named after the 1990 World Cup, all of which seemingly had the rights to display both official logos and Ciao, the mascot. One version was developed by U.S. Gold, and is a significant improvement over World Cup Carnival. With some similarities with Tehkan World Cup, the game had all teams present in the competition, and played through a birds' eye view similar to Sensible Soccer. It was released for the Atari ST, ZX Spectrum, C64 and personal computers.

The second title was developed by Sega, and has some similarities with the US Gold title, more noticiably the corner and goal kick screens. Teams are mostly based on the Mexico'86 lineups with some changes, and features player selection, with each player having individual ratings. It has a top-down view like Kick Off. Later, it was renamed to World Championship Soccer, and continued to be sold long after the World Cup ended. There is a Master System version with the official teams and calendar of the competition, but with only eight non-selectable players each side and just vertical scroll, but still some of the elements of the 16-bit version made their way into the game.

The final, and less known title was developed by Novotrade and published by Virgin Interactive. Unlike the other two titles, World Trophy Soccer was more an arcade game than a serious attempt on simulating the sport: it only had seven players aside, the game only lasted for one half and it followed a fixed playoff tree where the player had to beat all opponents. Because of that, only four teams (Belgium, Italy, Spain and England) could be picked by the player.


USA '94

Mega CD coverThe last game in the series by U.S. Gold was also the first to leave some of the mediocracy of previous titles and achieve average reviews. Keeping the same birds' eye view, but with more responsive gameplay, resembling Sensible Soccer, it was ported to most active platforms of the day: DOS, Amiga, Sega Mega Drive/Genesis, Mega CD, Master System, SNES and handhelds Game Boy and Game Gear. The Mega CD version included a CD soundtrack including two songs by the Scorpions and FMV views of 3D renders of the stadiums used in the competition.


France '98

PC coverFor the first time in a soccer game, accurate national team kits were introduced complete with kit manufacturer logos and official merchandise. The game engine is basically a remake of the FIFA 98 engine although it features some minor gameplay improvements such as ingame strategy change and more tactically accurate player positioning. And as the FIFA Series, France '98 features a song in the menu. It´s "Tubthumping", by Chumbawamba. The game also features voice-overs by Gary Lineker in the team schedules. The World Cup classic mode is also an interesting feature, with classic black and white sepia-toned graphics and commentary by Kenneth Wolstenholme creating the feeling of watching an old World Cup game. The playable teams also included several nations that did not qualify for the finals, but were considered too important to exclude. It was released for Windows, PSX, Nintendo 64 and Game Boy Color.


Korea/Japan '02
An amalgamation between the game engines of FIFA 2002 and FIFA 2003, the game still incorporates the power bar for shots and crosses but with a steeper learning curve and higher chances of being penalised by the match referee. The national team kits are accurate along with player likenessess and the stadia of the 2002 World Cup. It was released for Windows, PSX, PlayStation 2, GameCube, Xbox, and Game Boy Advance.

12:36 PM | 18 comments

Zero Wing

Zero Wing is a 1989 Japanese shoot 'em up arcade game developed by Toaplan. Like other shoot 'em ups of the time, it featured no real plot, except to distinguish that the player is a lone hero who will save the universe from bad guys. However, it enjoyed a degree of success in the arcade, and was thus ported to the PC Engine and Sega Mega Drive (Genesis) in 1991.


All your base are belong to us
The reason for Zero Wing's popularity beyond its release as an arcade game and video game is due to the additions made to the European Mega Drive version. To expand on the game's plot, an introductory cutscene was added to the game. This introductory scene was poorly translated to English for the European release, with one clip reading: "All your base are belong to us. You have no chance to survive make your time!" The intro does not appear in the arcade version.

In 1999, Zero Wing's Engrish intro was re-discovered by members of OverClocked Remix, culminating in the wildly successful "All your base are belong to us" memetic phenomenon. This also popularized the introductory and level 1 background music by Tatsuya Uemura.

The console version of Zero Wing was released in North America for the Sega Genesis (Mega Drive) and the arcade version was distributed by Williams Electronics.


Gameplay
As per other shooters, the aim of the game is to shoot all other enemies that appear on screen and avoid crashing into bullets, enemies, or foreground scenery. There are mid-level and end-of-level boss enemies that stay with the player until they are defeated.

The player, a "Zig" fighter ship, has several ways to attack:

Using The main cannon: scatter-shot (red weapon), lasers (blue weapon) or homing missiles (green weapon).
Ramming smaller enemies with the little extra ships that appear above and below the ZIG.
Grabbing a smaller enemy and throwing it at another enemy, similar to the Kirby games.
Releasing the spherical front shield once it is collected, like in R-Type.
Soon after starting, the player encounters power-up ships. If shot, they leave behind power-ups. These run in the sequence of the red weapon, blue weapon, green weapon, and speed-up. There is also an occasional shield power-up, which attaches to the front of the ship. Once the first weapon power-up is collected, two small ships appear above and below the ZIG, and follow its exacting movements. These extra ships are impervious and can be used as shields. As they occasionally move nearer the ZIG when blocked by large enemies or foreground scenery, they can serve as a warning to the player that they should move carefully to avoid a collision.

Each of the three main weapons has three power levels. Each time the same weapon is collected, the power level increases. If a different weapon is collected, it starts back on level 1 power, unless level 3 power was already attained previously. There are also two special powerups, one in level 1-1 and one in level 4-3, which increase all weapons to a special, otherwise unattainable level 4. In the intro scenes, the ZIG's windows are green. In the game, the windows change color depending on what weapon the player has

12:32 PM | 9 comments

Zombies Ate My Neighbors

Zombies Ate My Neighbors is a shooter-style video game for the Super Nintendo and Genesis gaming systems. The game was produced by LucasArts as a comical tribute to both classic and schlocky horror films of the 1950s and 1960s. In some English-speaking countries the name was considered unsuitable, and so it was renamed, simply, "Zombies". The crazed guys with chainsaws and hockey masks were replaced with lumberjacks with axes, and levels such as "Chainsaw Hedgemaze Mayhem" were renamed to suit.

Gameplay

Zombies Ate My Neighbors title screenThe player chooses between two teenage characters, Zeke and his sister Julie, both of whom can be controlled in multiplayer mode. They navigate suburban neighborhoods, shopping malls, pyramids, and other areas, destroying all variety of horror-movie monsters, including vampires, werewolves, huge demonic babies, and the game's flagship, zombies. In each of the 45 stages the goal is to rescue all surviving neighbors, at which point a magical door takes the player to the next stage. If all of the neighbors survived the player also gains an extra life.

The weapons are wild and wonderful. The most normal weapon is a bazooka, which can break through cracked walls and shoddy hedges but the firing recoil throws the user several paces backwards, but most weapons are footballs, cutlery, plates, Martian bubble guns, popsicles (originally bananas in the "Monsters" beta version), tomatoes, soda cans, and so forth.

The player also has a variety of secondary items available; these include inflatable clowns, Pandora's Boxes, health kits. Most interesting are the monster potions; there are a variety of transformations available depending on the potion's colour. The player can become intangible (able to walk on water and straight through enemies to save the neighbors), or turn into a big purple Hulk-like monster (indestructible and immensely strong, but cannot swim or use trampolines). The potion with a question mark is the most dangerous. It can give the effects of the other potions, or heal them, or hurt them, or even make them turn into a zombie, no longer controlled by the player but instead wandering aimlessly. If they come near a neighbor in this state they rush over and kill them!

The game makes several references to horror movies, including An American Werewolf in London, Child's Play, Dracula, Night of the Living Dead, Creature from the Black Lagoon and Tremors.

There was a sequel, Ghoul Patrol, but it lacked the heart of the original and opted for more realistic graphics and monsters, and is considered by many to have killed the series off.

12:31 PM | 0 comments

Worms


Worms World PartyWorms is a series of turn-based computer games with the common theme of players each controlling a small platoon of worms across a two-dimensional (and, in more recent games, three-dimensional), deformable landscape. The series is decidedly tongue-in-cheek, typified by cartoon-style graphics and an eclectic and bizarre set of weapons. Worms is part of a wider genre of turn-based games in which each player controls characters who duel with projectile weapons; predecessors include Scorched Earth and Gorilla. The game, whose concept was devised by Andy Davidson, is thought to have been inspired by Lemmings, with which it shares many similarities.

Contents
1 Games in the series
2 The game
3 Weapons and tools
4 Online play
4.1 Battle Race
4.2 Bazookas and Grenades
4.3 Capture the Flag
4.4 Elite
4.5 Fort
4.6 Rope Race
4.7 Roper
4.8 Shopper
5 External links




Games in the series
The Worms series consists of, in order of production, the original Worms game, Worms Reinforcements, Worms & Reinforcements United, Worms: Director's Cut, Worms 2, Worms Armageddon, Worms World Party, Worms 3D, Worms Forts: Under Siege, and Worms 4 : Mayhem, as well as a number of smaller spin-offs including Worms Pinball and Worms Blast. The game was originally a fan project, created with a cut-down version of Blitz BASIC given away with an issue of Amiga Format magazine. It later evolved into a full commercial game, developed by Team 17 originally for the Commodore Amiga computer. These games have been released regularly since the mid-1990s, and are available for Windows and Mac based computers, Amiga systems, Sega Dreamcast, Nintendo 64, Nintendo Game Boy and Game Boy Advance, Nintendo GameCube, Nokia N-Gage, SNES, Sony PlayStation , Sega Saturn, and PlayStation 2, Microsoft Xbox and possibly others.

During the development of Worms 2, Andy Davidson wrote Worms - The Director's Cut, an exclusive special edition produced exclusively for the Amiga. This was, to his eyes, the pinnacle of the series. Featuring weapons not seen in any Worms game before or since, it looks like an enhanced version of the original game. Although many die-hard fans feel it is the best Worms game ever made, only 5000 copies were ever sold.

In 2003, Worms 3D was released. This was the first game in the series to bring the annelid characters into a three-dimensional environment. It features an innovative poxel engine, described as a hybrid of polygons and voxels (the 3-D analogues of pixels). This allows for pseudo-realistic terrain deformation similar in style to the 2-D games, in which the terrain was represented by a bitmap.

The latest complete game in the series is Worms Forts: Under Siege, for PlayStation 2, Xbox and PC. It was released in November 2004 and features the biggest variation on the gameplay that the series has yet to see. Rather than fighting only worms on a fully destructible land, your worms are able to build forts. The object of the game has changed from only killing the worms, as you can now win a game by destroying the opponent's fort.

Worms 4: Mayhem will be released in mid-late 2005, aiming to be a revamp of the original Worms 3D engine, featuring smoother terrain deformation and making extensive use of cel-shading techniques. The gameplay will be much the same as it was in Worms 3D, but new gameplay modes will be introduced.

Two new 2D Worms games, one for Nintendo DS, the other for Sony PSP, have been announced to be in production. Both will be specifically designed for the handheld systems. No release date is currently set.




The game
Each player controls a team of several worms. During the course of the game, players take it in turns to select one of their worms and use whatever tools and weapons are available to kill the opponents' worms and win the game. Worms may move around the terrain in a variety of ways, some requiring particular tools such as the "Bungee" and "Ninja Rope". Each turn is time-limited to ensure that players do not hold up the game with excessive thinking or moving.

Over fifty weapons and tools may be available, but games are usually played with a reduced and thus less complicated arsenal, the settings for which are often saved into a "scheme" for easy selection in future games. Over time players have developed and refined a large number of very different and unusual schemes that do not always stick to the traditional worms gameplay.

Other scheme settings allow reinforcement crates to be deployed, from which additional weapons can be obtained; "Sudden Death" whereby the game is rushed to a conclusion after a time limit expires; and the inclusion of terrain objects such as land mines and explosive barrels.

Most weapons, when used, cause explosions that deform the terrain, removing chunks. The landscape is an island floating on a large body of water, or a restricted cave with water at the bottom. A worm dies when it enters the water (either by falling off the island, or through a hole in the bottom of it), or when its health is reduced to zero by, most commonly, contact with explosions.


Weapons and tools
Main article: Worms weapons and tools

A feature that makes Worms known among many gamers is its wide variety of weapons. As new versions are released, new weapons are added to the collection, and very few are removed, if any. As a result, newer games offer about 50 weapons.

Since Worms Armageddon, weapons that were intended to aid as utilities rather than damage-dealers (though some of them can also be used to deal damage when used in certain ways) were classified as tools. This classification mainly differs in the fact that they don't fall in ordinary weapon crates, and instead appear on toolboxes.


Online play
In Worms Armageddon and Worms World Party, and all future games of the Worms series, there is a feature called WormNET that allows players to compete over the Internet, using a Metaserver. There are a variety of unusual schemes that have been developed and refined by the WormNET community that are often played instead of the official schemes created by the original developer of the game. Some schemes have "rules" that are not enforced by the game itself, but are expected to be followed by players for the purposes of playability.

For reference purposes aimed at new players already familiar with the game in general, these schemes are described here (victory requires destruction of all opponents unless otherwise stated):


Battle Race
In Battle Race (BR) The terrain resembles a maze and is indestructible (unaffected in any way by use of weaponry). The object of the game is not to kill the opponents' worms but to be the first player to move your worm from the "Start" to the "Finish", which often takes many turns. The Start and Finish denote small regions of the terrain, normally marked by S and F respectively, formed out of the terrain itself. At the beginning of the game all players must place their worm, and do so by clicking in the Start region. The game ends when a player reaches the Finish, and all other players are obliged to surrender.


Bazookas and Grenades
With the Bazookas and Grenades (BnG) scheme you are allowed only to use bazookas and grenades, and some close combat weapons, to attack the enemy. "Anchoring" is a common setting in this scheme, whereby the worms are denied movement unless through the use of a tool such as "Blowtorch" or "Teleport", which the player is limited to a small allocation of each. A common rule in BnG is "no baking"/"no sitting" (among other names). This means a player cannot use the 5 second fuse on the grenade; more specifically, the player cannot drop a grenade next to the opponent and allow the fuse to burn down - the grenade must explode before it comes to a rest.


Capture the Flag
Capture the Flag (CTF) is a variation of the Fort scheme (see below). In this variation, victory can also be achieved by destroying the opponent's "flag", usually a small icon drawn into the terrain.


Elite
Elites are standard games similar to the default intermediate scheme which are usually played 1v1. The difference is that there is a higher degree of skill and strategy required due to only 20 seconds per turn. There are no rules, but other noticeable differences in the set scheme include the placing of worms at the start of the game, instant mines and the rapid water increase in sudden death.


Fort
Players are divided up into two teams. Each team places their worms on a pre-decided side of the terrain, which is normally fashioned to resemble two castles with a body of water between them. Invading the opponent's fort by sending a worm to the other side is normally forbidden, as is "fishing" whereby crates on a team's fort are stolen by the enemy.


Rope Race
Rope Race (RR) is essentially a Battle Race, but with all weapons disabled and only "Ninja Rope" at your disposal. You place your worm or worms at the location marked Start. Attacking (knocking) other worms is a cow. Try to keep your parachute active, so you do not lose your turn if you fall. To win, get your worm to the location marked Finish, or in some games, there and back. If you have two worms, you can win either by getting both to Finish, or one there and back.


Roper
Ropers (aka "Propers" or "ProRopers") are popular games in which a cavern terrain is used to stage a display of considerable skill with use of the "Ninja Rope", where players attempt to kill each other by launching Land Mines, Bazookas and Grenades from the Ninja Rope after first collecting a crate (this collection is compulsory and abbreviated as the "CBA" rule (Collect Before Attack/Crate Before Attack)) Attacking a player in last position (i.e. lowest total health) is forbidden by the "ABL" rule (All But Last) unless other players' worms are also injured in the same attack (the "Piles" rule).


Shopper
Shopper (aka "Shoppa") games utilize the CBA, ABL, and AFR (Attack From Rope) rules. Players attack from a rope if the weapon is compatible, and it's required that players attack each other with whatever weapons they can collect from crates. Variations of this are W2W (Wall to Wall), in which players are required to have their worm touch both walls of the map or other designated walls before attacking. Newer variations of W2W include W3W, W4W, W5W, W6W and sometimes more. Another variation is "Fly Shoppa", in which the map contains a large obstacle in the center over which players must "fly" by launching their worms from ropes, soaring to the other side before being allowed to attack. The Shopper game has unique maps, usually of a cityscape. One of the first maps to start this trend was "City Shopping 2001", by a player called Dogma. The "City Shopping 2002" map, also by Dogma, became one of the most well-known maps in the game, for its excellent design, hiding holes, and pitfalls.

12:30 PM | 23 comments

Thunder Force


Thunder Force (also spelled Thunderforce) is a series of scrolling shooter type video games developed by the Japanese software company Technosoft (a.k.a. Tecno Soft). The games are known by fans of the genre for their hardcore appeal, pleasing graphics (for their time), and generally well composed Synth-rock based soundtracks.

The Thunder Force games have appeared on the Sega Megadrive/Genesis, Sega Saturn, Super Famicom/SNES, Sony Playstation, and Arcade gaming platforms. They have also appeared on the Sharp X1, Sharp X68000, Sharp MZ-1500, NEC PC-8801 mkII, NEC PC-9801, NEC PC-6001 mkII, and Fujitsu FM-7 computer systems.

The series currently consists of five games:


Note: Since Thunder Force II through V have multiple difficulty and gameplay settings, the following sections are written under the assumption that the games are operating on their DEFAULT settings.




Contents [hide]
1 Thunder Force
2 Thunder Force II
3 Thunder Force III
4 Thunder Force IV
5 Thunder Force V
6 Other notes
6.1 Gold Packs
6.2 Thunder Force VI?
6.3 Trivia
7 External Related Links
8 References




Thunder Force

Thunder Force
Thunder Force (in game)Thunder Force was released in late 1983 exclusively in Japan. Known versions of it exist on the following Japanese based computers: Sharp X1, Sharp MZ-1500, NEC PC-6001 mkII, NEC PC-8801 mkII, and Fujitsu FM-7. In 1984, an add-on was released named Thunder Force Construction for the Fujitsu FM-7, and NEC PC-9801 computers. The add-on allowed players to create custom made areas.

For the most part, the setting of the Thunder Force games (excluding the fifth) are centered around the war between the "Milky Way Galaxy Federation" (good guys), and the "ORN Empire" (bad guys). In the first Thunder Force, the ORN Empire has built a large fortress named the Dyradeizer to oppose the Galaxy Federation. In addition to its high firepower capabilities, Dyradeizer is supported by shield generators hidden in various locations by ORN, which render the fortress invisible. In retaliation, the Galaxy Federation sends their specially designed fighter, the Fire Leo, to destroy the shield generators and reveal and destroy Dyradeizer.

The structure of the game consists of overhead, free-directional scrolling areas and the player's ship is armed with main shot to shoot airborne targets and a bomb shot to shoot ground enemies. Gameplay consists of flying the Fire Leo over ORN occupied areas while destroying enemy base installations and turrets. Each area has a certain number of shield generators hidden under the ground based enemy targets; in order for an area to be completed, the shield generators must be found and destroyed. After doing so, the Dyradeizer will temporally appear, giving the player a chance to cause damage to it. Once a few minutes have passed, the Dyradeizer will disappear and the player will be taken to the next area to repeat the process.

Graphic and sound wise, Thunder Force is very crude and modest compared to its successors, and is the most obscure game of the series (at least from a non-Japanese perspective).


Thunder Force II

Thunder Force II
Thunder Force II (in game)Thunder Force II was first released in Japan during 1988 for the Sharp X68000 computer. A year later, it was ported to the Sega Megadrive/Genesis game console and released in Japan (under the name Thunder Force II MD), Europe, and the United States.

Soon after Thunder Force, the ORN Empire creates a powerful new battleship, the Plealos (a.k.a Preareos). Using this battleship, ORN once again attacks the Galaxy Federation. The outcome of the attacks result in the destruction of the Galaxy Federation affiliated planet of Reda, and heavy destruction on the planet Nepura (a.k.a. Nebula), which ORN eventually captures from the Galaxy Federation. Eventually, the Galaxy Federation learns that ORN houses Plealos deep below Nebula's surface when not in use and takes the opportunity to plan an operation to take it down. They send the next iteration of their "Fire Leo" series fighter craft, Fire Leo 2 "Exceliza", to destroy ORN bases on Nepura and eventually find and destroy Plealos.

Stages in the game were split into two formats: The free-directional scrolling, overhead stage format from the previous game (referred to in game as "top-view stages"), and horizontal, forward-scrolling, R-Type-esque stages (referred to as "side-view" stages). Each stage begins in the top-view perspective, where the player has to locate the cores of a certain number of major enemy bases and destroy them. After this is accomplished, the stage continues from the side-view perspective, which plays like a traditional horizontal scrolling shooter. After the boss of the side-view sub stage is defeated, the player moves on the next stage.

Building upon its predecessor, Thunder Force II introduced a weapon system that would become the staple for the rest of the series. The player's ship now has default arsenal of weapons which include a twin, forward firing shot(the "Twin" shot), a single forward, and single backward firing shot(the "Back" shot), and a bomb shot in the top-view stages. By collecting certain items, the default weapons can be upgraded to more a powerful level. Also, the player could obtain a certain number of new weapons with various unique abilities by collecting the weapon's corresponding item (the "Hunter", a signature weapon of Thunder Force, debuts in this game). Once obtained, the weapons can be switched between at the player's desire, but once the ship is destroyed, all weapons would be unequipped except for the defaults. Because of this, it is advantageous for the player to prolong survival. The top-view and the side-view stages have different sets of weapons; losing weapons in the top-view stages do not affect the weapons equipped in the side-view stages and vise versa.

Thunder Force II also introduced the CRAW add-ons. (Also commonly referred to as CLAW, causing some confusion as to what is the proper term.) The function of the CRAWs is to circle the ship and block (weak) incoming bullets and also to provide extra firepower by firing single, normal shots. The player could collect up to two CRAW's at a time, but will lose the CRAWs upon ship destruction. Exclusive to this game is an item which temporally increases their orbit speed, making them more likely to block bullets.

The X68000 version of the game has slightly better visuals than its Megadrive/Genesis counterpart. For example, some of the top-view oriented stage backgrounds have parallax scrolling/transparency effects which the Megadrive/Genesis version lacks. This can be most readily be seen from the water in the first top-view stage. The X68000 version has clearer voice samples, including extra voice effects such as the "Shit!" exclamation heard after player's last life is lost. The X68000 version also has an introduction sequence, and a top-view stage and side-view stage that is not found in the Megadrive/Genesis version. Finally, both versions have a few weapons unique from each other (for instance, "Sidewinder" in the X68000 version corresponds to "Nova" in the Genesis version).


Thunder Force III

Thunder Force III
Thunder Force III (in game)Thunder Force III was released in 1990 in Japan, Europe, and the United States for the Sega Megadrive/Genesis game console. During the same year, it was retooled into an Arcade game and released in Japan, Europe, and the United States as Thunder Force AC. In 1991, Thunder Force AC was ported to the Super Famicom/SNES, renamed Thunder Spirits. This port was released in Japan and the United States.

The setting of Thunder Force III takes place about 100 years after Thunder Force. Apparently, despite their successes, the Galaxy Federation has not been faring well in their battle against the ORN Empire. ORN has installed cloaking devices on five major planets in their space territory that conceal their main base, making it difficult for the Galaxy Federation to locate and attack their headquarters. In addition, ORN has built a remote defense system to protect itself named "Cerberus", which is especially efficient at neutralizing large ships and fleets. Knowing this, the Galaxy Federation creates the Fire Leo 3 "Styx"; a craft small enough to not be detected by Cerberus, yet equipped with the firepower of a large starfighter. The Galaxy Federation send Styx on a mission to destroy the five cloaking devices, infiltrate ORN's headquarters, and destroy ORN's emperor, the bio computer "Cha Os".

For Thunder Force III, the free-directional, overhead stage format featured in the previous two games is removed and replaced entirely by the horizontally aligned stage format. The horizontal format becomes the new standard for the following games. Gameplay wise, among the five major planets the player will travel to (Hydra, Gorgon, Seiren, Haides, and Ellis), the game let's the player choose which planet to start on. After the first five stages are completed, the game continues for a few more stages.

The weapon system from Thunder Force II returns in this game with some modifications. Some weapons from Thunder Force II are reused or modified slightly (the enhanceable Twin shot and Back shot remain the defaults), while others are completely new and exclusive to the game. This time, when the player's ship is destroyed, only the weapon that was currently in use is lost (unless it is a default weapon of course). CRAWs also make their return and have the same behavior and functions, except now when the player collects the CRAW item, the ship automatically receives its maximum two CRAWs (again, CRAWs are lost upon ship destruction). Also, when using most weapons, the CRAWs will mimic the ship and fire the same weapon (similar to the Options in Gradius). The final new addition is that the player's ship now has a speed setting, which can be increased or decreased across four levels at the press of a button.

The main difference between Thunder Force III and Thunder Force AC is that the "Haides" and "Ellis" stages in Thunder Force III are removed and replaced with entirely different stages in Thunder Force AC. Thunder Force AC also removed the option to choose a starting stage, as the game always begins on the planet Hydra. Besides these changes, both versions play about the same.


Thunder Force IV

Thunder Force IV
Thunder Force IV (in game)Thunder Force IV was released in 1992 for the Sega Megadrive/Sega Genesis in Japan, Europe, and the United States (published by Sega under the name Lightening Force: Quest for the Darkstar).

Taking place directly after Thunder Force III, the ORN Empire is thought to be defeated by the Galaxy Federation, but still suffers from increasingly frequent attacks from hostile forces. The forces are discovered to be the "Vios", an army made up of allies and residual forces of ORN. The Galaxy Federation discovers the location of their headquarters on the planet Aceria and attacks, but since the power of Vios has grown greater than the previous ORN Empire, the Galaxy Federation forces are initially defeated. Once again, they develop a new small yet powerful fighter spacecraft, the Fire Leo 4 "Rynex" to eliminate Vios.

The game format is mostly unchanged from the previous game (horizontally oriented and forward scrolling). However, many of the stages now stretch beyond the height of a TV screen, which allow the player more space to maneuver and dodge incoming fire. Also, the player now has the option choosing the play order of the first four stages, instead of just the starting stage like in Thunder Force III.

The weapon system is also similar to Thunder Force III. Featuring the same upgradeable defaults, and unique extra weapons that are either exclusive, or were in previous games (modified or not). Again, upon ship destruction, the weapon currently being used is lost sans the defaults. Naturally, the CRAWs return, and basically have the exact same function as their 'Thunder Force III counterparts. Like before, the maximum two CRAWs are received upon picking up the CRAW item and lost upon ship destruction. The speed setting also returns, although it is represented by a percent gauge from zero (lowest speed) to one-hundred (highest speed). Tapping the speed button will increase speed by 25 percent and holding it down will increase speed gradually by one percent.

The most significant addition to the ship arsenal is the "Thunder Sword", a very powerful lightning based frontal attack. At the game's halfway point, the ship receives an add-on part which enables the use of the Thunder Sword. From here, the one requirement of using the Thunder Sword is that the ship be equipped with CRAWs. When the ship is not firing any weapons, a charging noise is heard (followed by a chime when fully charged) and the CRAWs will appear to be surrounded with electricity. The next press of the fire button will discharge the Thunder Sword. The blast is stronger if charged longer and is at its strongest when fully charged.





Thunder Force V

Thunder Force V
Thunder Force V (in game)Thunder Force V was initially released in 1997 exclusively in Japan for the Sega Saturn with two retail versions, the normal pack which was just a standard release, and a special pack which contained a remix music CD of various Thunder Force series music (entitled Best of Thunderforce). In 1998, Thunder Force V was ported to the Sony Playstation in Japan and released as Thunder Force V: Perfect System. Shortly afterward, the PlayStation port was released in the United States via Working Designs.

Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.
The setting of Thunder Force V takes us away from the conflict between the Galaxy Federation and the ORN Empire and brings us to Earth in the future. At the very end of Thunder Force IV, the pilots of Fire Leo 4 "Rynex" were forced to eject from their ship due to a massive explosion caused by the destruction of their final target. The explosion damaged Rynex severely, but the remains of Rynex floated throughout space for some time until it was discovered by Earthlings. Upon analyzing Rynex, the Earthlings discover the technology Rynex (at this point, Rynex is renamed "Vasteel" by Earthlings and its creators are called "Vastians") is composed of is far more advanced than anything they had ever seen. Therefore, Earth scientists use the Vastian technology to build an island called Babel controlled by super computer named the "Guardian". Babel's purpose is to build ships, weapons, and devices that could utilize, or even enhance the capabilities of Vastian technology. However, a malfunction in the Guardian caused it to turn against Earthlings and use the devices it created to attack them, causing devastating causalities. In order to save themselves, the Earthlings built high-powered attack crafts that can replicate and/or enhance the abilities of the original Vasteel (called "RVR's" or "Refined Vasteel Replicas") and organize a strike force to take down the Guardian. The player takes control of a RVR-01 "Gauntlet", and later, a RVR-02B "Brigandine" and RVR-02 "Vambrace" to help accomplish this goal.

The stage format has the same horizontally aligned orientation of previous games and only stretch to the size of a TV screen as in Thunder Force III. The biggest change in the look of the game is the use of three dimensional polygons to model the game sprites and some of the scenery (instead of the two dimensional sprites in previous games). This change gives the appearance of 3-D objects scrolling against a 2-D backgrounds, which is commonly referred to as a "2.5-D" effect. Like in Thunder Force IV, the player can choose the play order of the starting stages, but now only the first three stages can be manipulated in this manner. The same speed gauge from Thunder Force IV is used, and is operated the same way.

The only difference between the weapon system of this game from Thunder Force III and IV is that there are not longer any items to enhance your default weapons (Twin shot and Back shot). Instead, they are automatically enhanced at a later point in the game and the enhanced versions become your new defaults. All the weapons have appeared in previous Thunder Force games, but a few have been changed radically (such as the "Free Range" weapon that was originally in Thunder Force IV.

The CRAWs have a few changes from previous games. They still rotate around the player's ship, absorb enemy fire, and act extra turrets for you weapons, but now a maximum of three CRAW's can be collected at a time. In addition, they remain on screen for a finite period of time upon ship destruction, giving the player a chance to recollect them.

A new feature in Thunder Force V involving the CRAWs is the use of the "Over Weapon". By pressing the appropriate button, the player's CRAWs will combine with the currently selected weapon to create a more powerful version of that weapon. Over Weapons can only be sustained for a limited period of time by using CRAW energy. As an Over Weapon is used, the CRAW will shrink in size and gradually change color from blue to red, indicating its energy is being depleted. Once all CRAW energy is depleted, an Over Weapon can no longer be used. CRAWs will recharge their energy automatically over time when not being used for firing the Over Weapon. Also, collecting new CRAWs will replace the player's existing CRAWs if they are depleted. If a CRAW is red, it will be destroyed by the next bullet it absorbs.

Graphically, the Saturn version of Thunder Force V is superior, as it features special effects not present in its PlayStation counterpart. A good comparison of the differences can be found in Stage 3 "Human Road", in which some extra graphical touches found in the Saturn game were removed when ported to the Playstation. However, the Playstation version features extra artwork, CG rendered movie sequences, game modes, and other easter eggs that the Saturn version lacks. As far as gameplay, the games have minor, if any, differences.


Other notes

Gold Packs
In 1996, Technosoft released the "Thunder Force Gold Packs" for the Sega Saturn exclusively in Japan, which contained re-releases of previous Thunder Force games. Two packs were released: Thunder Force Gold Pack 1 which included Thunder Force II and Thunder Force III, and Thunder Force Gold Pack 2 which included Thunder Force IV and Thunder Force AC. Each Gold Pack disc has exclusive CG animated introduction sequences and a few extra easter eggs, but the actual games remained mostly unchanged (although the slowdown present in the Megadrive/Genesis version of Thunder Force IV is removed in its Gold Pack version).


Thunder Force VI?
A video was made in 2000 which circulated on the Internet showing the intro sequence for Thunder Force VI. This video serves as evidence that Thunder Force VI was at one time being developed for the Sega Dreamcast console.
In 2001, a video game music album was released from the band "Noise" entitled Broken Thunder: Noise Image Soundtrack Volume 3 featuring music intended to be used in Thunder Force VI. The soundtrack is composed by Tsukumo Haykutarou, Noise band member and music composer for many of Technosoft's games (including Thunder Force V).
Internet rumors have been floating around that Technosoft, who has not been heard from since the early 2000s, are currently rehiring staff and planning to release Thunder Force VI in the fiscal year of 2006 for an unnamed game system.

Trivia
The name "Thunder Force" comes from the project name the Galaxy Federation uses for the development of their Fire Leo series of small yet powerful spacecraft, which are then used for concentrated offensive operations against the ORN Empire. In Thunder Force V, the name is used (as "Thunder Force 222") to describe the Earthling strike team that fights against the Guardian computer.
The "Leo" portion of Fire Leo apparently stands for Little, Eternal, Operation as seen in the Thunder Force VI intro video (unsure what the meaning behind this acronym is).

12:27 PM | 19 comments

Syndicate

Syndicate computer games

The Syndicate series was a series of violent isometric science fiction computer games created by Bullfrog Productions. There were two main titles in the series: Syndicate (1993/1994) and Syndicate Wars (1996), with an expansion pack for the former, Syndicate: American Revolt.

Syndicate was released for the following platforms:

Amiga
PC
Mac,
SNES
Mega Drive
3DO
Atari Jaguar
The expansion pack was available for the Amiga and PC, while the sequel, Syndicate Wars, was a PC and PlayStation only title, due to the significantly more demanding graphics engine, a heavily modified version of which was used in Dungeon Keeper.

The series was critically acclaimed, but reached the peak of its popularity before mass adoption of the internet, hence a relatively small online community compared to later less influential games.

Both games put you in charge of a player-named corporation - also issued was a wide choice of symbolic, simplistic logo. Syndicate Wars also provides a second playable entity, the Church of the New Epoch. Gameplay involves ordering a 4-man (or woman) team of cyborg agents around gritty cyberpunk-themed cities, in pursuit of mission goals such as assassinating executives of a rival syndicate, rescuing captured allies, "persuading" civilians and scientists to join your company, demolishing buildings, or simply killing all enemy agents. You were also required to collect the funds to finance the R&D of new weaponry and cyborg upgrades, by means of taxing conquered territories in the original game, or robbing banks in Syndicate Wars. Unlike some games, which either punish the player for civilian deaths or reward him for violent actions committed, Syndicate remains ambivalent.

The Syndicate series, particularly Syndicate Wars, was noted for its attention to detail and the intricacy of its narrative. Notable features of both games were the use of context-sensitive background music which changed to suit the mood of the on-screen action, and a high degree of interactivity, in that many objects in the first game and nearly every object in the second game could be destroyed. The visual aesthetic of both games borrows heavily from films such as Akira and Blade Runner.

12:23 PM | 2 comments

Sonic 3D Blast

This article is about the Sega Genesis/Sega Saturn/PC game. For the Game Gear game, see Sonic Blast.
Sonic 3D Blast (alternatively Sonic 3D: Flickies' Island, or according to the minimized PC version, Sonic 3D Blast: Flickies' Island) is a platform game in the Sonic the Hedgehog series that appeared in several different platforms. The game was developed by Traveller's Tales instead of the traditional developer Sonic Team.

The game was released in Europe for the Sega Mega Drive in November 1996. The Sega Genesis version was released in North America later that month. The game was released on the Sega Saturn in North America in the very same month to make up for the cancellation of Sonic X-treme (which had been intended as the Saturn's killer app for the 1996 holiday season); the game was literally ported in a month with FMVs, highly spruced up graphics (including an all 3D special stage, considered by many fans to be the best special stage in the series) and an entirely new, Red Book audio soundtrack by Richard Jacques (who would later also produce the soundtrack for Sonic R). It was then released in Europe for the Saturn in February 1997. The Saturn version of the game was released for the PC in North America in September 1997, with the videos and soundtrack intact, as well as the notable addition of a save feature, but lacking some of the Saturn's effects (like the fog in Rusty Ruins) and a dumbed-down special stage, using sprites from the Genesis version but with the basic concept of the Saturn version. The PC version came to Europe on September 25, 1997. Finally, the game came out for the Saturn in Japan on October 14, 1999 (the same date that Sonic Adventure International was released in Japan).

The game places Sonic in an isometric projection view in a de facto 2D environment. He must collect Flickies and bring them to the big warp ring in order to advance in a zone. Each zone consists of 3 acts. There are 10 or 15 Flickies to rescue in Acts 1 and 2 (barring Panic Puppet). In Act 3 of each zone, you face Dr. Eggman in one of his machines.

The ROM used on both sides of the pond is exactly the same. The title differs depending on which country the game is in. In North America, the title is Sonic 3D Blast. In Europe, the title is Sonic 3D: Flickies' Island. The European title was used in Japan. The PC version, if minimized (for instance, if a user Alt+Tabs), uses a combination of both names, though the combined name is rarely used, with people generally favoring one region's name over the other.


Zones
Green Grove Zone
Rusty Ruin Zone
Spring Stadium Zone
Diamond Dust Zone
Volcano Valley Zone
Gene Gadget Zone
Panic Puppet Zone
The Final Fight

Criticisms
Upon its release, Sonic 3D Blast was largely a commercial failure and is considered by Sonic fans and Sega fans in general to have been partly responsible for the poor performance of the Saturn in Western markets compared to the PlayStation and Nintendo 64. For many fans today, it continues to serve as a grim reminder of Sonic's darkest era.
This game is often criticized for not being true to the core Sonic games, due to its lack of speed and rather clumsy controls (problems mostly caused by its isometric format). One high note is that the music (mostly the Saturn version) is considered to be some of the best Sonic music, and several tracks from the Genesis version were remixed in Sonic Adventure.

12:19 PM | 7 comments

Sonic the Hedgehog 3

Sonic the Hedgehog 3, or simply Sonic 3, is a platform game in the Sonic the Hedgehog series. It was released as a sequel to Sonic the Hedgehog 2.

The game was released for the Sega Genesis in the United States on February 2, 1994. The European Sega Mega Drive release came later that month. The game was released in Japan for the Mega Drive on May 27, 1994. It was re-released for the Sega Saturn in 1998 as part of Sonic Jam, the Nintendo GameCube in 2002 as part of the Sonic Mega Collection and Sony PlayStation 2 and Microsoft Xbox in 2004 as part of Sonic Mega Collection Plus.



Plot
At the end of Sonic the Hedgehog 2, the evil Dr. Ivo "Eggman" Robotnik had his Death Egg downed from orbit by the heroes, Sonic the Hedgehog and his companion Miles "Tails" Prower. Having not been completely destroyed, after all, the Death Egg has crash-landed on Angel Island. This island has special properties - not least the ability to float - which it gets from the magical jewel called the Master Emerald. When Dr. Robotnik learns of the Master Emerald, an all powerful jewel upon which the Chaos Emeralds base their powers, he tries to steal it to repair his Death Egg.

Of course, Sonic and Tails have to put a stop to this, collecting Chaos Emeralds as they go before Dr. Robotnik does. Unfortunately, Dr. Robotnik has tricked the guardian of the Master Emerald, an echidna named Knuckles, into thinking that Sonic and Tails are the thieves, so he tries his best to stop them.


Overview of play
As the player, you control either Sonic or Tails. Your aim is to guide them through six zones, collecting all the Chaos and Super Emeralds on the way via special 3D stages. The six zones are divided into two acts, and unlike previous Sonic games, each zone has a mini-boss at the end of the first act, and each Act 1 connects directly to Act 2, preserving shields the players may have. After a boss is defeated, a short cutscene is shown to segue into the next zone.


Zones
Angel Island Zone: A tranquil jungle island that is set ablaze by Dr. Robotnik after Sonic and Tails arrive. The mini-boss is one of the hovering flame drones that burned the jungle. Sonic and/or Tails faces off against Dr. Robotnik's own flame-wielding vehicle at a waterfall.
Hydrocity Zone: The inner workings of a complex hydroelectric dam. After tangling with a mini-boss that can spin Sonic and Tails in a whirlpool, Dr. Robotnik tries to stop them with his own whirlpool inducer as well as depth charges.
Marble Garden Zone: The marble ruins of an ancient civilization. The mini-boss uses a pair of drills to attack Sonic and Tails, both directly and by drilling into the rock above and raining debris on their heads (reminiscent of Dr. Robotnik's own vehicle in the Mystic Cave Zone of Sonic 2). Dr. Robotnik attempts to crush the pair under the collapsing ruins, and when Tails airlifts Sonic out of danger, charges at them directly with his drill. This is the only zone without any water to drown Sonic or Tails.
Carnival Night Zone: Tails drops Sonic into a playful carnival filled with ballons, pinball bumpers, and cannons to launch from, although unlike Casino Night Zone in Sonic 2 there are no slot machines. After Sonic and Tails survive the mini-boss on a slowly eroding platform, they face Dr. Robotnik, who this time drops a large sphere and uses it to create an electric storm that draws the pair towards its discharge.
Ice Cap Zone: Sonic and Tails chase after Dr. Robotnik, travelling through ice, snow, and sometimes bottomless pits. The level begins with Sonic going down a slope on a snowboard. The mini-boss attacks with an orbiting belt of ice chunks. Dr. Robonik uses a "freeze-thrower" (a flamethrower that freezes rather than burns the victim) to fight Sonic and Tails. This is the only zone that does not have an easily-comparible equivalent in Sonic 2 in terms of environment.
Launch Base Zone: Dr. Robotnik's site that houses the stricken Death Egg, with spinning elevators for facilitation of travel and alarms to keep out intruders. The mini-boss uses two flailing arms. Dr. Robotnik uses three different weapons to stop Sonic and Tails: first, a static projectile launcher at the foot of the Death Egg. When that fails, Robotnik flees to the Death Egg and Sonic chases after, leaving Tails behind. After boarding, Dr. Robotnik employs a rocket armed with lasers to fight Sonic, and then finally resorts to a large pair of arms to grab Sonic in a ball and slam him into the floor (as well as the rather impressive ability to damage even Super Sonic, though taking Super Sonic to the final battle is rare).

Multiplayer
Sonic 3 retained head-to-head racing introduced in Sonic 2, although instead of using levels from the single player game, five entirely new tracks were created for competitions. Knuckles was added as a selectable character. Players could select to play a Grand Prix of all five tracks, a single track to race on, or race the clock in time trial mode.

The five tracks are:

Azure Lake
Balloon Park
Chrome Gadget
Desert Palace
Endless Mine
The first letters of the track's names make up the sequence A, B, C, D, E.


Technical specifications
Sonic 3 had the option, unseen at that point in the Sonic series, to record the game level where a player had been and resume it at a later date - which increased the replay value tremendously as several levels sport secret passages and, although not vital to the ending of the game, allowed the collection of 7 Chaos Emeralds at a later date.

A closer inspection of the ROM by fans provides some details on the marketing scheme pulled by Sega with the release of Sonic & Knuckles. While Sega originally stated that the new "revolutionary" lock-on technology literally transformed the secondary game (i.e. Sonic 3 or Sonic 2), the analysis of the rom reveals that Sonic 3 was produced with full knowledge and possibly even having most of Sonic & Knuckles already completed to as far as Lava Reef Zone, as it provides a whole second version of the game, not an "add-on".

3:35 AM | 2 comments

Sonic The Hedgehog 2

Sonic the Hedgehog 2, or simply Sonic 2, the sequel to Sonic the Hedgehog, is a platform game made by Sega for the Mega Drive/Genesis. It features Sonic the Hedgehog and was the first game in which Super Sonic appeared, as well as being Miles "Tails" Prower's 16-bit debut.


Release details
The game was released in Japan for the Sega Mega Drive on November 21, 1992. The Sega Genesis release in the United States came three days later, on November 24. The European Mega Drive release came later in November. It was re-released in the Sonic Jam collection on the Sega Saturn in 1997, for the Nintendo GameCube in 2002 as part of Sonic Mega Collection, and on the PlayStation 2 and Xbox in 2004 as part of Sonic Mega Collection Plus.


Storyline
The story, as told in the instruction booklet, is that Dr. Robotnik (Dr. Eggman in the Japanese version), has again captured all of the animals of the world and it is up to Sonic to free them. He is also planning to use the Chaos Emeralds as a power source for his Death Egg spacecraft.


Gameplay
The gameplay is similar to that of Sonic's first adventure. The player collects rings throughout the level. Getting hit when one has rings causes all of the rings to fly out of the character. Getting hit when one has no rings results in death. There are two basic moves: the jump and the spin-dash. In the spin-dash, the character curls up into a ball, prepares to dash, and speeds forward, remaining curled up. Breaking a monitor performs the action shown on it. There are various types of monitors, with contents such as 10 rings, invincibility, a shield, a speed boost, and speed-up shoes.

Sonic can collect "Chaos Emeralds" by entering into special stages in which he must collect a set amount of the golden rings before the reaching the end of a lap. Once the player has collected seven Chaos Emeralds, Sonic can transform into "Super Sonic" by collecting 50 rings in the real world and jumping. Super Sonic is a temporary invulnerability mode introduced in Sonic 2 in which Sonic appears golden, runs faster, and jumps higher. As time passes, the number of rings Sonic has decreases by one ring per second unless new rings are collected. When the ring count reaches zero or Super Sonic dies, Sonic will revert to regular Sonic.

The game can be played as Sonic, Tails, or both. When playing as Sonic and Tails, the screen focuses on Sonic. If Tails remains outside of the screen for an extended period of time, he flies back to meet Sonic. Tails can be played by a human player or can be computer-controlled.

Sonic 2 features a two-player split-screen competition mode. In a two-player game, the players compete on a game level for better performance in five categories: total rings collected, rings at the end of the level, time for level completion, score, and boxes opened. The person who wins more categories wins a level. After one player finishes a level, the remaining player has 60 seconds to finish the level.


Production
Sonic 2 differed from the original Sonic the Hedgehog in that it was produced at the Sega Technical Institute in the United States, and experienced Japanese Sega members such as Yuji Naka and Hirokazu Yasuhara (the first game's lead programmer and game planner respectively) were brought in to work alongside the American developers. Two artists in particular stand out: Brenda Ross and Craig Stitt. Peter Morawiec and Tim Skelly also worked on some art for the Special Stages.


List of zones
Below is a list of zones in Sonic the Hedgehog 2, in order of appearance in the game. Each describes the boss section of the zone, in which Robotnik attempts to defeat Sonic.


Emerald Hill Zone
A green island with big fields and beaches and other tropical islands in the distance. The boss in this zone has Dr. Robotnik in a drill-equipped dune buggy. After seven hits, Robotinik shoots the drill bit at Sonic; one more hit destroys his machine.


Chemical Plant Zone
Dr. Robotnik's chemical plant, full of tubes and floating platforms. He uses a new substance called "Mega-mack" to try to kill Sonic by vacuuming up this substance and dropping it on Sonic. As long as Sonic is ducking he cannot be hurt by this. This level is also notable for a brief rising-water section, which provides a rather steep learning curve for new players.


Aquatic Ruin Zone
An ancient ruin located in a forest valley partially submerged in water. Dr. Robotnik tries to use the ruin's technology against Sonic between pillars that spit out arrows.


Casino Night Zone
A city that never sleeps, full of pinball rooms, flashing lights, and slot machines. Dr. Robotnik tries to kill Sonic with his neon spike-ball machine.

The slot machines give out different prizes depending on when the reels land:

3 Rings: 10 rings
3 Bars: 20 rings
3 Tails: 25 rings
3 Sonics: 30 rings
3 Jackpots: 150 rings
3 Dr. Robotniks: lose 100 rings (be careful!)
In addition, a Jackpot or two can also act as a wild card or wild cards, rewarding rings even though the other reel(s) are not Jackpots. Sometimes they merely fill in for the missing icon, other times they act as doublers:

2 Tails, 1 Jackpot: 50 rings
2 Sonics, 1 Jackpot: 60 rings
2 Jackpots, 1 Tails: 100 rings
2 Jackpots, 1 Sonic: 120 rings
Jackpots and Dr. Robotniks: lose all rings (be very careful!)
A Bar will also give out rings depending on how many there are:

1 Bar: 2 rings
2 Bars: 4 rings
3 Bars: 20 rings (see above)
Note: In this case, Jackpots only act as doublers in the case of only Jackpots and Bars, i.e., two Bars with one Jackpot is worth 40 rings, and one Bar with two Jackpots is worth 80 rings, but one Bar and one Jackpot is only worth 2 rings.


Hill Top Zone
A zone on a mountain high above the clouds. The mountain is also an active volcano. Dr. Robotnik uses the volcano's lava to shoot fireballs and set the grass alight in his Lava Submarine. Depending on one's route through the level, Sonic may face an earth- or lava-quake in the Second Act.


Mystic Cave Zone
An old, dark abandoned mine inhabited by Badniks that attempt to shock or collide into Sonic. Dr. Robotnik tries to stab Sonic with sharp debris as he uses his machines to drill into the ceiling of the mine.


Oil Ocean Zone
A zone polluted by Dr. Robotnik's oil-drilling projects. The viscosity of the oil allows Sonic to run across it, although he can still die in the oil if he is totally submerged in it. The Badnik "Aquis" is found in this zone. It is a fast moving and dangerous mechanical seahorse, and is able to float around in the air, never touching the ground. Dr. Robotnik tries to kill Sonic in his submarine again but uses spikes and lasers this time.


Metropolis Zone
An extra-long level, in which Dr. Robotnik resides. There are lots of machines, including the Pipe Teleporter and screw elevators, as well as Badnik stars which explode to puncture Sonic. Dr. Robotnik protects himself against Sonic with spiraling eggs each containing a fake Robotnik.

Metropolis Zone had 3 acts, like Sonic 1. However, all the other zones in Sonic 2 had two or one. This was because Tom Payne (the artist in charge of this level) had also been assigned another level that was finally scrapped due to lack of time, leaving him to work on this third act.


Sky Chase Zone
In order to chase Dr. Robotnik, Tails uses his Tornado plane to fly into the sky to battle Concorde birds and turtle battleships. This is a very short level with one act and no bosses.


Wing Fortress Zone
After Tails's plane is shot down, Sonic jumps onto Dr. Robotnik's sky ship, where he has to avoid falling to his doom and reach the bridge to Dr. Robotnik. Sonic is ambushed and has to dodge a massive laser while the walls narrow. The laser ends up blowing the circuits and Dr. Robotnik tries to escape in his spaceship. Tails comes back with the plane and flies Sonic close to the ship using a rocket booster installed at the bottom of the plane. Sonic grabs on to Dr. Robotnik's ship and gets to the Death Egg.


Death Egg Zone
Sonic must battle against a silver Sonic robot with no rings to help him. After defeating the robot, Sonic chases Robotnik into a giant armoured battle suit, the last boss that Sonic has to destroy. After defeating him, he runs out of the exploding Death Egg and skydives back down, and is caught by Tails's plane (unless one has managed to collect all the Chaos Emeralds; in that case Super Sonic flies alongside the plane).


Secrets
Knuckles the Echidna in Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is a game activated by locking Sonic the Hedgehog 2 to the passthru cartridge of Sonic & Knuckles that was released later by Sega. The resulting game is almost identical to Sonic the Hedgehog 2, except that one plays as Knuckles the Echidna. Although some fans believe that Sonic 2 was created with foreknowledge that such an add-on device would be made later, this is incorrect. The majority of the changes to Sonic 2 are actually contained in the Sonic & Knuckles cartridge and loaded at boot if a Sonic 2 cartridge is found in the pass-through slot; the actual Sonic 2 data is accessed very rarely.

Time restrictions necessitated dropping some features and levels from the final game. Remnants of these like incomplete levels and unused sounds and graphics have been revealed through study of the internals of the game using emulators along with a debug mode.

The game's level select code, activated by playing music within the game, is 19, 65, 09, 17; Sonic programmer Yuji Naka's birthday is September 17, 1965. Its debug code is 1, 9, 9, 2, 1, 1, 2, 4; Sonic 2's U.S. release date was November 24, 1992.


Beta version
On the Internet, a widely distributed prototype of the game, better known as Sonic the Hedgehog 2 beta, has been discovered by Simon Wai, which features several incomplete zones. Only four levels can be played in "normal" gameplay; the rest have to be accessed through the level select code. Many are not playable, so the debug code is used to explore the acts. Some of the acts are empty, causing Sonic and Tails to fall to their doom immediately after beginning the level. The beta is frequently examined by hackers to determine how Sonic the Hedgehog 2 was developed.

In Asia and Brazil, the beta version was put on cartridges and passed off as the final version by pirates who are believed to have altered it slightly to stop the Sega logo from showing when the game boots up, as was common practice.

A mock-up picture exists which suggests that at one stage in development, a desert-like zone was planned in a Sonic 2 prototype, which until recently was believed to be named Dust Hill Zone. However, there is nothing to suggest that the level has ever existed in a playable format. The only official name that is known for this zone is "Sabaku", or "Desert", zone.

In addition to the renamed zones, such as Green Hill Zone which became the Emerald Hill Zone, Dust Hill Zone which became the Mystic Cave Zone, Neo Green Hill Zone which became Aquatic Ruin Zone, and Sky Fortress Zone which became Wing Fortress Zone, the following levels exist in the beta version of the game.


Wood Zone
A dense forest zone with only the very beginning of Act 1 programmed, and that itself is very glitchy. The music is the same as that in the Metropolis Zone. There are no enemies present in the Wood Zone. Without the debug mode activated, this level is cut very short due to the fact that it is impossible get past the first ramp, the characters hit the floor above instead. However, using debug, it can be further explored. The stage suddenly ends halfway through an animated (though not active) conveyor belt. Act 2 has no data.


Genocide City Zone
This level's data has either been removed, or not yet coded, and the player falls and dies immediately upon entering the level. The music used is that of Chemical Plant Zone.


Hidden Palace Zone
The Hidden Palace Zone appears to be an underwater cavern with large crystals in it. The music used is that of the 2-player mode of Mystic Cave Zone. It contains badniks never seen in the released version, such as a red dinosaur badnik. The large emerald found in this stage has at times been suggested to be the Master Emerald, however those who worked on the zone have said it was just another block to break through. At one point in the zone is a long shaft which appears as if it was intended to loop from the top to the bottom of the map, but even if one navigates to the other end, there is not much left to the stage besides an animated (but as in the Wood Zone conveyor belts, not working) water slide. Act 2 is identical to Act 1, except the player is stuck inside a wall at the start, and all objects and enemies are gone.

Some suggest that music 10 in the final Sound Test, which was unused, was intended for this level. In addition, while the art was removed from the final game, the collision data remains, and the level itself can be accessed by entering the Game Genie code ACLA-ATD4 and using the Level Select to go to Death Egg Zone. This has led some researchers to believe that Hidden Palace Zone was intended to be in the final game as a "hidden" level that could be accessed only through a cheat code.


Death Egg Zone
According to the level select, this zone originally had 2 acts (unlike in the final version). But like Genocide City, neither act has any data and the player merely falls and dies immediately. No music is played in this zone.

3:34 AM | 34 comments

Shining Force

Shining Force: The Legacy of Great Intention, more commonly referred to as Shining Force, is a 1992 turn-based strategy role playing video game for the Sega Genesis console. While primarily a traditional fantasy-themed game, it contains some steampunk elements.

(If you are looking for information on the Shining series in general, please see Shining Force Series)

Game Info
While the game is the first in the Shining Force series, it is technically the second game released in the greater Shining series, which began with Shining in the Darkness. The transition from Shining in the Darkness to Shining Force was a major change, with few elements between the two games being shared, save for the names of certain items and spells. The villain of the first game, Darksol, reappeared throughout many of the following games in the series. Another significant change was in gameplay. Shining in the Darkness was a dungeon crawler in first-person perspective, while Shining Force was a third-person strategy/RPG game.

The game was first released in 1992 in Japan, and 1993 in North America and Europe. It's been re-released in 1999 for "Sega Archives form USA" (Japanese), in 2000 for Sega Smash Pack 2 and Sega's Greatest Hits 2, both for PC, in 2001 for "Sega Smash Pack for Dreamcast", and again in 2002 for "Sega Smash Pack Twin Pack" for the PC.

The game was remade in 2004 for the Game Boy Advance under the title Shining Force: Resurrection of the Dark Dragon. The changes included three new characters and the addition of "cards" allowing a certain character to use these special bonuses and abilities in battle.


Plot
As the game opens, the following is shown on screen:

In ages long forgotten... Light fought Darkness for control of the world.
Dark Dragon led the evil hordes of darkness.
The Ancients fought back with the Powers of Light.
Dark Dragon was defeated and cast into another dimension.
The Lord of Darkness vowed to return in 1,000 years.
Time passed, and Dark Dragon was forgotten by all.
Ten centuries of peace ruled the land of Rune.
Until the kingdom of Runefaust brought war to Rune.
Hordes of evil creatures ravaged the land.
Here and there, strongholds of Good still held out...
awaiting a Hero who could wield the Powers of Light!


Chapter 1
The game opens in the Kingdom of Guardiana, in the land of Rune. You play as a Swordsman whose name you choose (default is Max, that is what will be used through the rest of this article.) Max is a disciple of the famed knight Varios, who is called upon when a force from Runefaust is seen at the Gate of the Ancients. Varios chooses to send Max to investigate, so as not to scare the townsfolk with a large force. At this point you are joined by 5 other characters, and given 100 gold.

After 2 battles, you've returned to Guardiana to discover that while you were busy, Runefaust has attacked Guardiana. You arrive just in time to see Kane, one of the generals (and a boss you fight later) kill Lord Varios. The King of Guardiana tells you to stop Runefaust, and find his daughter Anri, who is away at a school for magi, and then immediately dies.

You travel to Alterone, and soon find out that Kane is pulling the King of Alterone's strings. After breaking out of the prison, you defeat the invading force, and the king apologises to you and tells you of a secret passage. You go through the passage and Chapter 1 ends.


Chapter 2
You've made your way to the town of Rindo, and you need a boat to follow Kane any further, but the mayor of town only has one boat left which he refuses to part with. You go to Manarina, and find Princess Anri, who joins the force, and meet Otrant (who is an adviser now and then again in Chapter 7) who sends you to retrieve the Orb of Truth, which allows you to meet the Spirit of the Holy Spring.

You learn from the spirit that Runefaust is trying to free Dark Dragon (mentioned in the opening credits) and are sent to go stop them by retrieving the manual of the seal (a book which has the incantation to free Dark Dragon.)

You then return to Rindo, to discover that while you were gone, the mayor's grandson has gone missing. The mayor promises that if you find him, he will give you his last boat. You meet Mishaela, another one of the game's bosses, who turns you over to one of her subordinates. This battle can be argued to be the first boss fight. When you win, the mayor's grandson comes out from behind some crates, and heads home. The mayor does as he promised and turns over his boat, however as soon as you board it, Mishaela appears and sets fire to it.

Since there are no more boats in Rindo, you head north to Shade Abbey, where another of the game's bosse, Darksol, is reanimating the dead, and has turned a birdman to stone. After defeating the zombies, the birdman and his wife offer to guide you to the town of Uranbatol to find another boat, and Chapter 2 ends.


Chapter 3
You begin Chapter 3 in the town of Bustoke, where Runefaust has forced all the men to work in the quarry looking for a weapon called "the laser eye". You also find out about the insane Zylo, who you are given a side quest to cure. After rescuing the men and curing Zylo, you continue on to Pao bridge and fight a battle against the laser eye (and others). Winning this battle ends the chapter.


Chapter 4
You're now in the travelling town of Pao, where you talk to a general of the Runefaust army, Elliot, who doesn't like the current state of affairs, but is loyal to his king. In the next battle, when you defeat him, he begs you to free Runefaust from Darksol's clutches.

The town of Pao has traveled and come back to where you are, so you re-enter it and rest and re-arm before heading to Uranbatol.

You will fight two battles in Uranbatol, the second a boss fight against Balbazak, who turns the ship over to you just before Darksol appears and kills him for his cowardice. Darksol laughs and says you wont live through the trip, but you still head out undeterred, and the chapter ends.


Chapter 5
As expected, you are attacked while en route, and the ship is damaged. You meet a mermaid from the land of Waral, and follow her back to get the ship repaired. While wandering around town, (in part on a small boat) you get knocked out after an acident, and wake up on one of the smaller islands.

You pass through a strange passage, to wind up foiling the plans of a Runefaust force trying to use the Shining Path (a mystical shortcut between lands). However, when you defeat them, the leader of that force seals the Path so you can't use it either, and are forced to take the long way of physically travelling.

You return to the main island, and the King says that the repairs are free, as a token of gratitude. You leave the island and are attacked and damaged again. The boat drifts off course as the chaper ends.


Chapter 6
You wake up in Rindo, where children run the town, and find out more about the manual of the seal, and then make your way to Dragonia, where the manual is guarded by the last of the sacred dragons. After the dragon joins you, you finally fight Kane, to discover that he was a hero who was being controlled by Darksol by means of a magic mask.

When the mask breaks, Kane is wracked with guilt, and tries to help you. The two of you find the manual, but arrive just in time to see Darksol take it. Kane pushes you out of the room, and fights Darksol alone. They both diappear for the time being.

You return to Rindo, and they suggest you should go to skull castle. You fight your way to the castle, and then fight Mishaela inside. You take the Sword of Light from her, and the chapter ends.


Chapter 7
You've arrived in the town of Prompt, where you are almost immediately imprisoned by a paranoid king. For some reason he decides you're trustworthy once you break out of prison, and he tells you that his forces that he sent to fight Darksol are failing. Kane is recovering from his battle with Darksol in the castle, and he regains consciousness just long enough to convince the King to let you go fight.

You fight your way into the tower of the ancients, and are again just in time to discover Darksol, this time retrieving the key to the seal. Kane appears, and Darksol kills him easily, but lets you live as he's on a tight schedrule.

You return to Prompt, and Otrant re-appears to tell you about the Chaos Breaker, a sword which might be able to re-seal Dark Dragon, which is made from the Sword of Light which you have, and the Sword of Darkness which Kane left in the care of the King of Prompt. You use the Shining Path and travel to Metapha, where you fight against the robot boss Chaos.

The spirit of the spring puts in another appearance and teaches you how to make the Chaos Breaker and tells you that she has used all her power to help you, and can't do any more. You return to Prompt and then travel to the gates of Runefaust.


Chapter 8
Having defeated the army guarding Runefaust, you make your way to King Ramladu's castle, where you fight two battles, the second a boss-fight against the King himself. As he dies, he tells you that Darksol was controlling his mind, and tells you to hurry, as Darksol is about to perform the rites to release Dark Dragon.

You raise the castle of the ancients from the ocean, and travel to it through Runefaust's gate of the ancients (which is the pair to the one where you fought your first battle) and are immediately are challenged by Colossus, a three headed creature. After beating him, you enter the final battle against Darksol.

As soon as you defeat Darksol, he completes the rites and Dark Dragon is freed. Darksol gives the last shreds of his power to Dark Dragon and dies. You immediately have to fight the three headed Dark Dragon (without being given a chance to revive dead players, but you do get a full heal.)


Epilogue
When you defeat Dark Dragon, he doesn't die, until you stab him in the heart, which reseals him in another dimension. You cast your Egress spell, which normally transports everyone to safety, but this time saves everyone but you. The other characters watch as the castle of the ancients sinks back into the water, and Max is officially Missing In Action, presumed dead. After the credits, theres a small scene where Max is shown talking to a farmer in a far away land, who invites him to come live in their village. Max agrees, and the game ends.

3:33 AM | 3 comments

Sensible Soccer

Sensible Soccer, often referred by fans as Sensi is a football video game series that was highly popular in the early 90's and still has a cult following, despite the last title being released in 1999. Developed by Sensible Software and first released for Amiga and Atari ST computers in 1992, it featured a bird's-eye view (most games until then such as Kick Off and Matchday used top down or side view), editable teams and (some claim) gameplay still unsurpassed today.


Games in the series
Sensible Soccer
Released in 1992
Platforms: Amiga, DOS, SNES, Game Boy, Sega Mega Drive, Sega Mega CD, Sega Game Gear, Atari ST and Atari Jaguar
The "standard name" for games in the series. Console versions are based on SS 92/93, but simply named "Sensible Soccer".

Mega Drive screenshotSensible Soccer 92/93
Released in 1992
Platforms: Amiga, Atari ST
Slightly improved version of Sensible Soccer
Sensible World Of Soccer
Released in 1994
Platforms: Amiga, DOS
Includes several leagues and career mode. An updated version (SWOS: European Champion Edition) was released weeks before
Features a title song "Goal Scoring Superstar Hero" composed by Richard Joseph and Jon Hare.
Sensible World Of Soccer 96-97
Released in 1996
Platforms: Amiga, DOS
Improved version of SWOS.
Sensible Soccer 98
Released in 1997
Platforms: DOS, Windows
3D version that dropped the pin-sized players.
Sensible Soccer 2000
Released in 1999
Platforms: Sony PlayStation, Windows
Final new release in the series
Sensible Soccer Mobile
Released in 2005
Platforms: Java
Developed by Kuju Wireless 1
[edit]
Trivia
Sensible Soccer spawned several clones, amongst them Croteam's Football Glory, for which they were sued by Sensible Software.
There are still many shareware/freeware projects which are inspired by Sensible, such as Yoda Soccer or Andreas Osswald's Championship Soccer.
The graphic style of the game was used in other Sensible Software games, such as Cannon Fodder and Sensible Golf.
SWOS 1996 received a score of 96% from Amiga Power, the highest mark given for any game in their 65-issue run.
A group of fans in Serbia named "SWOS Witnesses" ("SWOSovi Svedoci" in Serbian) organized four World Swos Tournaments from 2001 to 2004. WSTs were held in Backa Palanka (2001 and 2004), Belgrade (2002) and Nova Pazova (2003). Most players were from Serbia, but there also were contestants from Czech Republic, Austria, Poland, Bulgaria and Lebanon.
Regular tournaments are also still held in Czech Republic, Germany and Brazil.

3:30 AM | 10 comments

Mighty Max

Mighty Max was an animated action/sci-fi/horror series which aired from 1993 to 1994 to promote the British Mighty Max toys, an offshoot of the Polly Pocket line. It ran for two seasons; with a total of 40 episodes airing during the show's run. It starred the voice talents of Rob Paulsen as Max, Richard Moll as Norman, Tony Jay as Virgil, and Tim Curry as Skullmaster.

The storyline follows Max, a young boy who receives a red baseball cap with a yellow M embroidered on the face. He is told by Virgil, a Lemurian who's been turned into a talking, humanoid chicken (okay, fowl, actually!), that the cap grants Max the power to travel instantly through space. Max, Virgil, and Norman, a sword-wielding Viking, travel together around the world, defending the Earth against the minions of the evil Skullmaster (responsible for the downfall of both the Lemurians and the people of Atlantis), as well as fighting a variety of supernatural monsters on the side. The show's violence and descriptions of violent acts were considered graphic by some viewers, especially when its target audience was children.

The finale episode featured Max, Norman, and Virgil in a battle against Skullmaster and their previously defeated foes with both Norman and Virgil getting killed leaving Max as the only one to defeat Skullmaster who is about to gain ultimate power. Some fans have criticized the final episode's conclusion for "looping" the end of the series into the beginning. Regardless, fans of the show to this day are vocal in their requests for the entire series to be released on DVD.

A patent was taken by Film Roman for a Mighty Max animated film in 1995, but such a film was never created. The reasons for this are unclear, but the television show had retained low popularity and the toys were also losing ground. However the show generated other merchandise such as a comic book, board game, and several video games.

The merchandising was far more popular than the show itself. Mighty Max toys were sold as playsets of varying sizes with very small (usually non-articulated) figurines inside. Each playset contained a Mighty Max figure as well as one or more villains and sometimes Virgil, Norman or both. Any Mighty Max collector would quickly accumulate hundreds of different copies of Max in various poses.

There were a small series of larger more expensive playsets with various mechanical and electronic features such as opening jaws (on an island playset shaped as a dragon's head) and lights. In 1995, due to the popularity of the playsets at the time, the McDonald's Happy Meal offered a toy playset featuring Mighty Max. Also, Mighty Max was turned into a video game for the SNES and Sega Genesis and a handheld game for Tiger Electronics and Systema.

3:28 AM | 4 comments

Road Rash

Road Rash is the name of a motorcycle-racing/combat video game series by Electronic Arts, originally for the Sega MegaDrive/Genesis, in which the player participates in illegal street races, and later ported for several other systems. Six games/versions were released, the first in 1991 and the last in 1999, although a 2004 licensed port for the Game Boy Advance exists.

Presented in a third-person view similar to Hang-On (although bike and rider are proportionately smaller), the player competes in road races, and must finish in the top 3 places on every race to proceed to the next level, where the opponents ride faster and harder and the tracks are longer and more dangerous. Placing in each race gives a certain amount of money which increases considerably in each level which allows the player to buy faster bikes which is needed to stay competitive. The game is over if the player is arrested (a policeman knocks the player off their bike or the player is caught stopped or on foot near a police bike) and the player can't pay the fine, or if the bike suffers more damage than it can take and is wrecked.

Aside from the high speed, big-air and spectacular crashes, what separated Road Rash from other racing games was its combat element. The player could fight other bikers with a variety of handweapons. The player would initially start off with just a punch and kick, but if the gamer timed a punch right, they could grab a weapon from another rider. The weapons themselves ranged from clubs, crowbars, nunchakus, cattle prods and even police batons. Fights between riders to knock each other off the bike would often go on at high speeds through traffic, pedestrians and roadside obstacles, with the victor gaining place and the loser gaining bike damage and losing time.

The motorcycle police officers were never friendly and they have dual antagonistic roles. They fight the player as another, usually tougher, opponent and they also serve as gameplay enforcers by policing the back of the pack and culling players who fall too far behind or choose to explore the world rather than race in it. The stakes are higher for losing a fight with a police officer: the player would be busted and fined and the race would end. If there were insufficient funds to pay, the game would be over.

Even though knocking other racers and police officers from their bikes is a permissible means towards achieving victory in the game, and it initiated the genre of motorcycle-racing/combat games, Road Rash got little to no attention in the video game controversy of the '90s. Some of this may be attributed to the designers skewed, yet balanced rules of political correctness: Violence and rewards are divided up equally between ethnicity and sex and stereotypes are balanced by representing a cross-section of characters all behaving badly. The game consistently garnered a Teen rating from the ESRB with a modifier of animated violence.

The 32-bit versions of the game featured cutscenes professionally filmed in San Francisco and Los Altos Hills that were notable for a wry sense of humor. For example, if the player was arrested, then the game would show a brief movie clip of a motorcyclist being handcuffed to a police officer's motorcycle (which would then start moving), or a clip of the arrestee being placed in the trunk of a police cruiser. The actors were were both professional stuntmen and the games designers and featured the company bike- a red Ducati which is still on display at EA headquarters. The 16-bit versions featured animations as cut scenes. The possible game triggers for cut scenes in all the versions are: race win, level progression, game win, wreck and busted.

The game's title is based on the slang term for the severe friction burns that can occur in a motorcycling fall where skin comes into contact with the ground at high speed.


Sound
The original Genesis version featured a Rob Hubbard soundtrack, however later versions released on CD formats featured music tracks from bands such as Soundgarden, Swervedriver, and Therapy?. Months before Road Rash was even released for the 3DO it received 3DO's 1994 "Soundtrack of the Year" award. The last version featured garage and unsigned bands who got a chance to be in the game by sending in their tapes.


Releases
When Road Rash debuted on the 32-bit home game consoles they were initially ported from the 3DO version of the game. All of these games were called Road Rash despite being 4th in the series. Derivative works were reengineered up for Microsoft Windows and Nintendo 64 platforms or reengineered down to Sega Mega-CD and the handheld consoles. In 2000 due to a restructuring at EA the key design, technical and artistic forces behind the Road Rash series left EA. At the time of its demise, Road Rash was EAs 2nd most profitable series in which it didn't have to pay royalty or licensing fees. EA attempted to resurrect the series with a PlayStation 2 version but was unable to complete it.

Version History

V.1 - Road Rash 16-bit
All Races took place in California locales on progressively longer 2 lane roads.
V.2 - Road Rash II 16-bit
All Races took place in North America, 2 lane roads.
V.3 - Road Rash III 16-bit
All Races took place in 5 of 7 countries (Brazil, Germany, Kenya, UK, Italy, Japan and Australia) on 2 lane roads. 15 bikes, bike upgrades, night racing (in Japan), 7 Weapons including mace, taser.
V.4 - Road Rash 32-bit
All Races took place in California locales(The City, The peninsula, Pacific Coast Highway, Sierra Nevada, and Napa Valley) on multilane roads with brief divided road sections.
V.5 - Road Rash 3D 32-bit
All Races took place on routes laid out through a single interconnected road system- hence the title 3D.
V.6 - Road Rash: Jail Break 32-bit
An interconnected road system and 2 player cooperative play- with a sidecar.
Titles and release dates

Road Rash
V.1
Sega Genesis,1991 original
Atari ST, 1992 {Peakstar Software)
Amiga, 1992 {Peakstar Software)
Sega Master System, 1994 (ported by Probe, published by US Gold)
V.2
Game Boy, 1994
Game Gear, 1994
Internet- AOL Games Channel, 2001
V.4
3DO, original 1994
Sega Mega-CD, 1994
PlayStation, 1996
Sega Saturn, 1996
Microsoft Windows PC, 1996 (Papyrus Design Group)
Game Boy Color, 2000 (3d6 Games)
Road Rash II
V.2
Sega Genesis, 1992 original
Nintendo, never released
Road Rash 3: Tour De Force
V.3
Sega Genesis, 1995 original
Road Rash 3D
V.5
PlayStation, 1998 original
Road Rash 64
V.5
Nintendo 64, 1999 (THQ)
Road Rash: Jailbreak
V.6
PlayStation, 1999 original
Game Boy Advance, 2004 (Destination Software, Inc)

3:26 AM | 7 comments