Category Archives: Retronauts

Judge Dredd and the absence of generic licensed fluff on consoles

As it often is, Friday is another video day on the Kim Justice channel — and today’s is about Judge Dredd, published by Acclaim and Probe in 1995 for the Mega Drive and SNES. The game is, of course, based primarily on the terrible 1995 movie adaptation of Dredd — y’know, the one with all the “I AM THE LAW” memes — and it isn’t what anyone would call good. It’s a generic piece of licensed rubbish, a side-scrolling affair with generic backgrounds from the movie, average controls, and nothing much interesting for the most part…you don’t see too many games like this anymore, which oddly enough is something that I rather miss about gaming these days.

Licensed games that tie-in with some popular star or movie or TV show etc. are one of my favourite subjects in gaming — even if the quality is often average, some games have their moments (plenty more are legitimately very good) and I love seeing how a studio translates something like a big action flick into a traditional video game. Unfortunately, these sort of games aren’t as common as they used to be — tie-in games do exist still, but they often fit into a couple of categories: There’s the well established tie-in series such as the LEGO games, which are very good and working off a strict formula. For less famous IP’s, licensed games do exist still but they seem to be making their home more and more on smartphones these days, as opposed to consoles — which is a bit of a shame. Who wouldn’t want to see a proper game of the upcoming Baywatch movie on their PS4? Don’t kid yourself — you’d be curious at the very least. The amount of licensed games potentially starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson that we’ve missed out on is an outrage.

Digression aside, Judge Dredd is one of the more unfortunate IP’s out there when it comes to licensed games — it’s had some pretty miserable efforts in the past. This 1995 game is far from the worst – there’s a 1991 game by Virgin for home computers that makes this generic maze level-based platformer look like Super Metroid by comparison. Really, Dredd never got anything close to a decent game until the release of Dredd vs Death in 2003 by Rebellion Developments (who actually own the 2000 AD comic outright these days, including the Judge) – an FPS that certainly did the best job so far of capturing the Dredd universe. It’s funny, really — one of the odd things about licensed games seems to be that the simpler an IP should be to adapt to a game, the easier it is to screw up. Judge Dredd is a powerful lawman who goes around shooting and arresting creeps in a post-apocalyptic universe — is that really difficult to adapt? It turns out that yes, it is.

The crime is being a generic walking around goon in a lousy licensed game. The sentence, unreasonably, is death.

There are some more intriguing things about this 1995 effort, mind you. With very little in the way of action to work with in the 1995 movie (seriously, it’s really bad) the game decides to divert totally from the movie halfway through in terms of plot. The first half takes in all the events from the movie, ending with the corrupt Judge Rico’s demise atop the Statue of Liberty, but then the second half has Dredd fight the Dark Judges (Fire, Fear, Mortis and Judge Death), who are more traditional antagonists. This half is not based on the film, nor is it based on anything that happened in the “Lawman of the Future” comic series that spun off from it — and so naturally is a little more interesting in terms of levels and design as Probe work directly off the comic book…the play’s still not very interesting, mind you. Judge Dredd isn’t exactly a game that’s worth the time to check out on the whole, but it is a good example of a game that, sadly, you simply don’t get anymore. It’s almost a shame that console games are, on average, too good these days for something like Dredd to exist.

 

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What old SEGA games should be brought back from the dead?

There certainly seems to be a lot of intrigue about what SEGA are up to lately — there’s talk of them bringing back some of their old IP’s, for a start, which has certainly got some tongues wagging. Not to mention all the talk about something called SEGA Forever that could be (although we obviously don’t know) a subscription-based sort of Games on Demand service for mobiles, which if true could perhaps cover the “bringing old games back” deal, depending on just how old SEGA are talking — you can find some of the workings of the rumour mill on videos such as this one by Youtuber RGT 85 right here.  As far as anything concrete goes though, nothing is confirmed whatsoever, and chances are nothing will be until E3 at the earliest — and as a highly distinguished retrogaming website it is quite frankly not cricket, or even baseball, for us to write an article all about this speculation that may well end up being untrue. I, for one, would never allow such things to appear on your computer screen.

With that said, the thought of SEGA digging up some of their old games from the dead is certainly worth having fun with, if only for the purposes of humour and light entertainment. So the question of today is; what old IP’s could SEGA bring back? And what, exactly, could they do with them? It’s all very well bringing a series back and doing the exact same thing that it originally became famous for — that would be the sensible thing to do, perhaps — but some IP’s might need a bit of a twist. Let’s review a selection from the archives and see how we can, for lack of a better expression, sex them up a bit.

Alex Kidd

SEGA’s pre-Sonic mascot has always had a bit of a raw deal — we’ve actually got a fair bit of time for him in Europe due to the Master System’s popularity here compared to the rest of the world, but even we just about managed to forget his existence once a certain spiky blue hedgehog came rolling in. It perhaps doesn’t help his cause that Alex was pinged around genres a lot in his time — there’s a couple of Mario-esque platform games, a trial biking game, a crossover with Shinobi, a terrible adventure-action hybrid…he struggled to find a consistent identity, which was a bit of a bummer for him really — however, that’s something we can use to our advantage nowadays. SEGA have explored the depressive side of Alex Kidd before, using him as a lowly clerk in their self-referential Dreamcast game Segagaga, and perhaps this can be delved into further with a depressive, noir-esque action sandbox title where an older Alex with a drinking problem finds himself having to combat villains on the crime-infested streets of the Miracle World. Think Max Payne, only with more Janken — it’s a guaranteed hit. There could even be a role for Sonic too as Alex’s unwilling, straighter-laced partner.

The Ooze

There’s a fair few games that folks remember from the days of the SEGA Technical Institute — those were the people who brought us the likes of Comix Zone, Kid Chameleon and Die Hard Arcade, games that people certainly remember well, and might even want to see make a return…however, everybody forgets about The Ooze.  There are a few reasons for that — the first being that the game was, put bluntly, not very good. Secondly, it did come out pretty close to the end of the Mega Drive’s life and so there weren’t a whole lot of eyes on it. The premise was certainly weird enough — you played as a scientist who had been turned into a giant blob of green goo, and was then tasked with getting revenge on the scum who’d put him in this situation…perhaps more could be done with this title? The roles could be reversed — you play as one of the human scientists in a survival horror game. It’s Alien: Isolation, only instead of a xenomorph you’re hiding from a giant cartoony puddle of luminous snot…it might sound somewhat incongruous for a horror title, but people said that about IT back in the day too, and look what happened to them! It’s worth looking at.

Streets of Rage

This should be the biggest lay-up of them all really — as soon as speculation started about Sega reviving old IP’s, Streets of Rage was undoubtedly one of the first names on people’s lips. SOR used to be one of Sega’s biggest franchises, but then it rather inexplicably disappeared, never coming out of the 16-bit era despite numerous failed attempts at a sequel and a bunch of dismissed plans. So just go ahead and make another beat-’em-up, right? Well…let’s think outside the box a little. Streets of Rage is a very open title that can be interpreted in a variety of ways — sure, it can describe a group of friends punching the teeth out of thugs in a battle against a crime syndicate, but what if a string of reality was brought in? Perhaps those streets could represent a city in crisis, possibly because it was invaded by a military force that needs to be repelled by another stronger military force that people like more. With that in mind, the best direction for Streets of Rage is surely an Army-based first-person shooter based in a foreign city, with questionable political content. Besides, everybody knows that beat-’em-ups don’t sell anymore.

ESWAT

As far as old IP’s go, any decision to revive ESWAT would come from right out of leftfield. The series only had 2 games, both of which had the same title, and it was never the most popular of SEGA’s ’80s arcade side-scrollers — it was quite a lot like a game version of Robocop, but that itself already had a successful arcade game thanks to Data East…however, there could be something in that Robocop influence. It’s something of a shame that there’s no such thing as a proper Robocop simulator — a big open-world city where you preserve the public trust, uphold the law and all that, solving crimes, chasing bad guys…it seems unlikely that we’ll get anything like that out of Robocop itself, or a similar franchise like Judge Dredd, but you know what? Maybe ESWAT could be the way to do it. “Robocop simulator” is basically my dream game, so this is a suggestion that I’m actually half-serious about.

Phantasy Star

There’s no need to be half-serious about this one, or even to make an attempt at being funny. For heaven’s sake, folks — give us another Phantasy Star. As in, a single-player RPG Phantasy Star. Even if it has to be crowdfunded. Please.

This could obviously continue on by looking at all of SEGA’s old and discontinued IP’s and thinking about ways in which they can be twisted and distorted to meet the demands of the modern gaming world, but it’s probably wise to draw the line at five. While nothing here should be taken seriously as such, it is certainly an exciting time to be a SEGA fan — there’s definitely something brewing, and the possibility of games being revived has certainly excited people to a degree that may well end up being too much, but in the meantime is still a positive for a brand that, not too long ago, was often thought to be a bit of a zombie. Whatever happens, whether it’s something beyond our wildest expectations or just another way to play those old games that lots of people love, it’s good to see people being interested again.

 

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Kim recommends…Trashman (ZX Spectrum, 1984)

With the ZX Spectrum Next Kickstarter campaign coming to an end after making £723,390 and hitting all stretch goals, it’s a good time to look at some of the Speccy’s more memorable titles. Over 24,000 games came out for the system, so there’s certainly a fair bit of memorable material — but more than that, there’s some games with premises and gameplay concepts you just don’t seem to get anywhere else. When you consider that a lot of Speccy games in the early ’80s were usually made in their entirety by just one (usually quite young) guy in their bedroom, the amount of weirdness there is on the Spectrum isn’t that surprising…what’s great though is when that weirdness is combined with an actual good game — something like Trashman from 1984, made by Malcolm Evans for New Generation Software.

Trashman is an extended look into the world of garbage disposal  — something that, as it turns out, is very freaking dangerous indeed. You play as the titular trashman of the title, and you have to collect bins from each house and empty them into the dustcart as it slowly moves down the road — naturally you’ve got to put the bins back too, don’t go thinking that part would be left out. You’ve also got to do this pretty fast — waste no movement, and for heaven’s sake keep off of the grass! If you’re on the grass, that means that you’re stepping all over Betty Swollocks’ geraniums (you clumsy oaf) and you’ll lose your time and your bonus. Just because you’re going fast however, doesn’t mean that you should avoid any requests that people make of you as that would be rude — if a kid wants to show you his new computer game then indulge them, as that will increase your time and bonus. Do this for every house on the street and you can consider the job to be a thoroughly good ‘un.

A typical street in the world of Trashman. Every one of these cars spells death for our hero. But then, every cleansed bin spells rejuvenation.

Sounds basic enough, but Trashman is on a dangerous mission. He’s going to have to cross the road quite a few times in order to complete this task, and this is a busy street packed full of cars that like to drive really fast. Most trashmen don’t even last one day on the job — they’re assigned to Montague Road on their first day, they unsuspectingly walk in front of an automobile driven by a raving maniac, and the next thing you know they’re the ones being put in the trash compactor — for in this dangerous vision of the world, too many trashmen die for them to be given a proper burial. Cars aren’t the only menace out there — sometimes a dog will speed out of a house with its eyes, mouth and teeth trained on the trashman’s scrotal sack. Even the pavement isn’t safe, with clueless bikers speeding down it and taking out unsuspecting targets — and while dogs and bikes will only leave you with a limp, that’ll make you an easy target for those damn cars because no matter what injuries you might have, the work’s still got to be done…seriously, I think it might be in these guys’ best interest to form a union.

Trashman is a strange little game that, as a lot of classics do, spins gold out of menial labour — And yet it’s too slow and even a little grounded in reality (somewhat anyway) to be considered an arcade game. It’s more like a dad explaining to their wide-eyed kid what they did today on the road, complete with exaggerated details and good old fashioned British humour – of which Trashman has quite a bit when you’re asked to go into people’s houses and the like, or if you go and visit the caff and pub for a much needed Full English/booze break. It’s often requested on my streams – partly because it’s weird and people like it a lot, but I think that in the main it’s requested because it’s quaint and charming. 24,000+ Spectrum games can be a big number for folks to get their head around, but this is undoubtedly 1 that you ought to play if you wish to understand the evergreen appeal of the machine.

 

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Retronauts hits Episode 100 again, but this time it’s not the end

Well, we finally did it. We survived long enough to reach episode 100.

Well, OK; the original run of Retronauts hit episode 100, too. But I always think of that series as having only made it to 99, because 99 was where I decided to call it quits. The show never recovered from the 1UPocalypse at the beginning of 2009, the day that Hearst Publishing and UGO decided to acquire 1UP and the Ziff-Davis games magazine group and promptly lay off 2/3s of the people who made those properties worth reading and listening to. Since Retronauts was built on a foundation of having free access to several dozen veteran games journalists whom I could easily pull into the studio for an hour to jaw about their favorite classic games, the layoffs meant 2/3s of our resources were taken from us on that bitter January day. Several other people tried their hand at hosting in the wake of those cuts, but they also found the show too difficult to pull together for long as well.

And so, the original Retronauts episode 100 existed only as a final footnote to the show — less a proper episode and more of a chance for the regulars to get together and reminisce for a bit. And it didn’t even go the way it was supposed to, because several of the intended participants weren’t able to make the session! All in all, a fitting and honestly somewhat bleak end to the original run, after which it was relaunched into a call-in show (bad idea) and eventually resuscitated by Bob (good idea).

This episode 100, on the other hand, is not an ending, and it doesn’t represent a final statement before a cataclysmic format change borne of desperation. No, this episode only ties a bow on one thing, and that is an outstanding obligation from our Kickstarter campaign. We finally managed to get together with our final “cohost an episode” level backer to record the episode he paid for. (And the remainder of our lingering Kickstarter incentive obligations will be wrapped up just as soon as I’m done with my current BitSummit/recording weekend trip. Expect an update next week!) Getting together with Daniel seemed a fitting capper for the first 100 episodes of the crowd-funded and independent era of Retronauts, but in this case the “capper” is simply a number, nothing literal. Bob’s already uploaded episode 101 to Patreon, and by the end of this weekend’s recording session we’ll have more than a dozen episodes in the can for future release. Ain’t no gettin’ offa this train we’re on, friends.

MP3, 27.9 MB | 51:23
Direct download
Retronauts on iTunes
Retronauts at PodcastOne

Oh, and there is one other thing: The cover art this week is a taste of our new site design and branding artwork, which will be making its full debut very soon.

So no, episode 100 is not the end this time around. It’s almost, I dunno, a new beginning. So thank you for your support these past 100 episodes, and we hope you’ll stick with us for the next 100. (And beyond that, really, but we don’t want to come off as greedy.)

Episode description: For our 100th full episode since our crowdfunded relaunch, we complete a long-overdue Kickstarter obligation by inviting backer Daniel Hawks to join us in a discussion of the early days and notable landmarks of CD-ROM gaming.

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Listener mail call: Breath of the Wild

Another day, another call for mailbag material for next weekend’s recording session.

We’re going to try something a little different from usual next time by focusing an entire episode on a new release. During the run-up to launch, Nintendo made a lot of noise about how The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild marked a return to the franchise’s roots. Well, did it? That’s the question we intend to tackle with an upcoming episode.

We’d like for you to weigh in as well by submitting an email to me with your thoughts on the subject within the next few days. Send a line to jparish -at- retronauts -dot- com with the subject line “Breath of the Wild mailbag” with your thoughts. Please keep it to around 200 words max, and please avoid spoiling the endgame — there are a lot of people (including myself) who have yet to finish this absolutely enormous adventure. Thank you!

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The ZX Spectrum Next meddles with the primal forces of nature and cooks an egg

No.

 

This isn’t right.

 

Not at all.

 

You have meddled with the primal forces of nature, Mr. Olifiers. And you will atone.

What we have here is the ZX Spectrum Next (which has been talked about previously at Retronauts towers) showing off the benefits of its new, larger FPGA — which it reached thanks to achieving its first stretch goal. Because of this, they’ve been able to add some more functionality to the system…part of that being the ability to play with (or emulate accurately) a SID music chip. The SID is, of course, the chip that was used in the Commodore 64 to make some of the best game music of the decade — created by Robert Yannes, it was a technical marvel that still baffles people somewhat today, considering that most other computers at the time (including the Spectrum 48k) possessed little more than a single-channel beeper in terms of sound. The Spectrum 128k upgraded its sound to an AY chip — the same sort of thing you get in a Game Boy — but still, the SID was the undisputed champion in the world of ’80s computer sound.

Even though I myself belong more to the Spectrum crowd than the C64 crowd, hearing a ZX Spectrum playing SID tunes so effectively is almost wrong, as if the streams have just been crossed. Of course, it is just a cool little bit of functionality and emulation — the Spectrum Next folk are not busy cannibalising old C64’s and cutting out their SID chips in order to stick them into the Spectrum Next (something that actually can happen to C64’s that you buy on Ebay due to the chip’s value as a synthesizer), but the feeling this brings is strange, as if someone managed to get a Mega Drive cartridge to run on a Super Nintendo. We truly are in an odd dimension.

In other Speccy Next-related news, the system has already managed to secure itself a big name character — one that may be familiar to anyone who grew up in the era. Dizzy is an egg with hands and feet, and the ability to roll around all over the place collecting objects, solving puzzles and saving his kinfolk from evil wizards — he was one of the most popular characters around back in the UK computer days with several big games under his belt, although there’s a chance that Americans may know him from Fantastic Dizzy, which did come out for both the NES and the Mega Drive/Genesis. It has been announced by the creators of the series, Philip and Andrew Oliver (better known as The Oliver Twins), that a brand new Dizzy game directed by themselves and made by a team that remade Crystal Kingdom Dizzy — one of the more maligned entries in the Dizzy canon — will be released onto the ZX Spectrum Next, not for two pounds nor for three pounds, but for free as a way of commemorating the success of the project. After several false starts and failed Kickstarters, said new game will be the first official Dizzy title in 25 years, ending a pretty long wait.  Speaking of the project, there are four days left to run on the Next’s Kickstarter, and it stands at over half a million pounds — if you fancy sticking your two’pennorth in, then don’t hesitate to do so.

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Kim recommends…Skitchin’ (Mega Drive, 1994)

(This post will be even better if you load up this here YouTube video and listen to the contents within while reading. Seriously, do it. In the words of Dr. Evil, throw me a frickin’ bone here.)

With news about old machines being rather slow today — as is often the case — it’s perhaps time for another recommendation post.  Skitchin’ is one of those games on the Mega Drive that can be somewhat unfairly maligned, perhaps due to it being the absolute single most ’90s game in existence – the entire decade runs through it. You’ve got the crunchy guitar soundtrack, the digitised pictures of folks with asymmetrical flattops and other ridiculous hairstyles, the graffiti aesthetics and the very art of skitching itself – hitching a ride by hanging on to the back of a car while also on skates or rollerblades. Skitching’s a real act and can be pretty damn dangerous, meaning that like any true ’90s video game, Skitchin’ also generated tons of controversy as people worried about their kids copying what they saw on the screen. Nothing even comes close to being as ’90s as Skitchin’.

Dunno about you, but I’ll buy anything sold by a greasy guy out the back of a van. Those shades are back in, by the way.

What’s often forgotten about the game amidst the entire summation of the whole Generation X period though, is how great Skitchin’ actually is. It’s an offshoot of the much more popular Road Rash series, with the same focus on beating your rivals — literally and figuratively — to first place, but the gameplay has a lot more features than just on the road violence. The art of skitching itself is so fun to do in game, as you quickly try to switch from the back of one car to the next, launching yourself from the side each time…it’s nuts and normally goes badly when you don’t quite make it to the car in front, but it’s so fast — it helps that Skitchin’ runs really smoothly, a lot better than Road Rash I and II does.

Skitchin’ is also a very active racer — again, more so than Road Rash where it often seems like you just move from one biker to the next. Every other skitcher is trying to do the same thing you are, and it’s quite a difficult act — meaning that it’s not uncommon to watch as your rivals get sent flying everywhere on a busy road as a car slams into the back of them.  Hazards on the road are plentiful – cars aside there’s oil slicks, the odd barricade, and plenty of ramps, which can kinda surprise you. Ramps offer a chance to show off by doing a trick too, as long as you stick the landing…you can even do this off of any skater who happens to be lying in the road. Imagine flying off of a rival, doing a star jump and sticking the landing as the crowd admire you — that’s pretty freaking gnarly. Of course, unexpected jumps like that often result in you landing in a crumpled bone heap and then getting knocked for six by an incoming vehicle. Skitchin’ demands serious engagement, all the time.

The art of Skitchin’ itself. In the words of Dr. Dre, “Never let me slip ’cause if I slip, then I’m slippin'”.

It was often hard for people to take Skitchin’ seriously at the time and it obviously still is in many ways — it couldn’t hammer home the time it’s from any more than it does. But then virtually everything about the game actually works — the risk/reward gameplay that it revels in, the technical craft, even that music — which is one of the few times that anyone, especially in a Western game, has made electric guitar on a Mega Drive game sound really good. Only a few years after Skitchin’, extreme sports games would be absolutely everywhere as the craze for skateboarding gathered momentum, and in that context Skitchin’ is far from out of place. It’s taken me quite some time to take the game seriously — you’ll probably be the same — but I’ve come to think that it’s better than any of the classic and better known Road Rash titles. But whatever, enough beeswax from me — if you’ve got the cheddar, then peace on out to the local Atari store, and gank yourself a copy. It’s the bomb-diggity, no diggity. We outta here.

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Retronauts Episode 99: More game music. More! More!

This week brings another episode of Retronauts Radio. You should know the drill by now. Lots of music, lots of musing about that music. With this latest episode, I’ve highlighted four different works.

  • Snatcher (LP, Ship to Shore): Definitely the highlight of this episode — it comprises about half the total running time.
  • BRA*BRA | Final Fantasy Brass de Bravo 3 (CD or MP3, iTunes): A collection of Final Fantasy soundtrack covers, loosely affiliated by the inclusion of brass instruments across a huge variety of styles. Not that the world needs yet another Final Fantasy cover set, but some of these are pretty fresh.
  • HuCard Disc in Taito Vol. 1 (CD, CDJapan): A collection of classic Taito music… but not the original Zuntata arcade performances. Instead, these are taken from the PC Engine/TurboGrafx-16 ports of the games. Some of it is quite good, some… less good.
  • Switched On: A Link to the Past (MP3, Bandcamp): Another entry in the expanding field of retro analog synthesizer covers of beloved classic game music.

MP3, 53.7 MB | 1:51:24
Direct download
Retronauts on iTunes
Retronauts at PodcastOne

In other words, some great stuff this month, and some acquired tastes. Next month, I’ll look at some actual Zuntata arcade jams, another Konami adventure, and… who knows what else?

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TecToy’s newest authentic looking Mega Drive clone is out…with some potential extras

The new adventures of TecToy’s brand spanking, old looking Mega Drive.

News has generally been pretty good for Sega recently — not only did they announce that their earnings are on the rise, but they’ve also announced that cult classic VANQUISH is heading to PC’s later this month following the success of Bayonetta’s arrival on Steam. That’s all well and good, but there’s something else on the retro side of things — their partnership with Brazilian electronics company TecToy has been going for 30 years, and that anniversary has been marked with the official release of TecToy’s new Limited Edition Mega Drive for the Brazilian market — yours directly from the company for the price of R$449 (or roughly $140).

This particular Mega Drive generated something of a stir when it was announced due to its highly authentic look — all of the packaging is based around the classic Mega Drive that TecToy would make back in the 90’s, and the exterior of the console itself is basically a Mega Drive 1, using the same molds that TecToy used in the past for the console and its joysticks. This is in direct contrast to previous, less authentic clones that TecToy have made such as, for example, Mega Drive 4 Guitar Idol — where Mega Drive games were packed in with more modern mobile titles and a Brazilian-focused take on Guitar Hero. The new Mega Drive also features a cartridge slot for any old games you might have, and is compatible with most games — the SVP-laden Virtua Racing naturally won’t play, and neither will the Sonic 3 & Knuckles combo, Eternal Champions, Super Street Fighter II or — weirdly — Truxton. I’m not sure why Truxton, of all the older games, is incompatible, and can only deduce that it’s because they’re not fans of Classic Game Room. Sorry, Mark.

This typical TecToy clone comes with a Guitar Hero clone that’s not as good as Rock Revolution, but it has a death pact with Guitar Praise.

Mind you, anyone looking to import the machine should be aware that it is still pretty much a console on a chip, like most MD clones, with 22 built-in games that come on a mini-SD card. This selection includes classics such as Shinobi III and Comix Zone, along with…um, Crystal’s Pony Tale and Last Battle – although apparently updates to the game list will be available, and it’s not clear whether you could just bung that SD Card full of ROMs and stick it in there. This Mega Drive is also composite video only using Brazil’s PAL-M video format, and naturally it’s designed with Brazil’s rather exotic power system in mind — so you’re going to have a whale of a time getting the machine to power up without frying it, let alone getting it to display a picture. In the end, if you do manage to not blow it up and get a picture out of it then you’ll be greeted with a quite low-quality clone system, with the usual poor sound and graphics you’d expect from such a thing — this is still an ATGames machine on the inside distributed by TecToy, therefore it’s not a recommended purchase by any means. For anyone outside of Brazil, it’s a commemoration of the country’s status as a market where Sega has continued to sell for 30 years now…of course, there are a myriad of different reasons for that — the incredible taxation that Brazil puts on imported goods, political corruption and general poverty being just a few — although that’s all a subject for another day.

What is potentially of interest, however, is that the company have announced that they will be reprinting several of their own classic Mega Drive games in cartridge form to go along with the release of the console. The first of these is Turma da Mônica na Terra dos Monstros (Monica in the Land of Monsters), which is a 1994 reskin of Wonder Boy in Monster World based on the popular Brazilian comic strip and cartoon “Monica’s Gang”. There are two other Monica games by TecToy, both of which are based on Wonder Boy titles — perhaps they’ll get released too, along with the likes of Férias Frustradas do Pica-Pau (Woody Woodpecker’s Frustrated Vacations) or Show do Milhão (The Million Show – basically Who Wants to Be A Millionaire?). TecToy president Stefano Arnhold also mentioned that they wanted to reprint Ayrton Senna’s Super Monaco GP II, the classic Mega Drive racing title that TecToy actually had a large hand in through introducing the late great F1 driver to Sega in Japan, but licensing issues thwarted it.

Monica in action. Instead of a sword, she beats the shit out of people with a bunny rabbit doll. She’s pretty cool.

The general hype and interest worldwide has certainly shown one thing — there is surely an interest out there for Sega to produce an authentic clone in the same vein as the NES Classic Edition. If some people are willing to import a TecToy system from Brazil just because it looks like a Mega Drive, then surely they’d buy something more globally produced. Of course, Sega have licensed their old systems out for cheap and cheerful clones for some time now — ATGames make them, and companies like TecToy, Hyperkin in the US and Blaze in the UK distribute them. But if Sega were to commission something more authentic looking and with, one would hope, better production values than the typical ATGames clone – including things like HDMI Output, or a neat little menu, or even some cool little fake scanlines? They could be onto a very nice little earner.

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Kim recommends…D/Generation (Amiga, 1991)

D/Generation always seems to be a game that slips through the cracks somewhat, despite being a thoroughly cyberpunk game that combines a lot of different elements together pretty well — there’s isometric shooting, a decent amount of puzzling, and a lot of good plot and mood setting. It’s also one of the legitimately really good games that came out for the CD32, not to mention one of the few CD32 re-releases that actually took advantage of the new platform — although it’s still probably best on the A500 simply for controlling reasons.

Anyway…D/Generation. What is it? You play as a thoroughly oblivious courier who has to deliver a package to the offices of a company called Genoq. Specifically, you must deliver it to a researcher named Jean-Paul Derrida, perhaps the most awesome compound name made up of two famous people in the history of games. In the beginning, you don’t really know anything at all — you’re just a lowly courier, until the office doors lock behind you and you’re suddenly greeted with lots of dead folk, security systems that have gone haywire, and a ton of biomonsters lurking on the ten floors between you and your delivery point…hey-ho, may as well deliver the package! We don’t want our wages docked or anything now, do we?

An iconic computer game quote. That’ll teach you not to peer down into weird alien egg-shaped things.

In D/Generation, just about every room offers something of a different challenge, or some neat little way to use the laser gun which you fortunately find along the way — more than just blasting enemies, it can bounce off of walls or travel through teleportation devices. You’ll need to use these for the puzzle-based rooms, although there’s plenty of other rooms where progress is merely a case of turning a bunch of abominations into anti-matter and saving one of the survivors of the attack from a somewhat grisly end. You do also have a quite limited supply of bombs, which can be useful — simply because you can use them to blast through a door if you need to, thus getting yourself out of a puzzle you can’t solve. They don’t grow on trees, mind you.

The game was very well received at the time — it earnt little but 90’s and high 80’s from most of the big magazines around, and Amiga Power actually rated it as the 40th best game in the whole history of the computer, which is no mean feat. And yet,D/Generation is largely forgotten these days…sometimes the isometrics can cause a few annoyances and it’s quite the touch cookie, but it never managed to get too far past the Amiga’s boundaries — there is a PC version, but that’s it. It’s a surprise that no attempt was ever made to port it to a console, either by Mindscape or someone else — it’d probably be better than some of the other Amiga ports we did see on the 16-bits, like Onslaught or Sword of Sodan. There is an HD remake of the game available on Steam, although reviews for this version are somewhat middling and thin on the ground. And so, D/Generation remains obscure, which is unfortunate — as just like the courier in the game itself, most folks have no idea what’s actually lurking within. Highly recommended.

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Filed under Game Analysis, Retronauts, UK/European Retro