Thursday, September 27, 2012

My Top 50 Favourite Sega Mega Drive Games: #50 - #41

Hey there and welcome to my newest video game listing. I’ve done a few large listings on this site, but not one on video games in general. Today I start my homage to the Sega Mega Drive and its brilliance.

The Sega Mega Drive while not the first console I ever played, was the first console I properly ever owned. I was a late comer to games as well, only getting the Sega Mega Drive back in 1998 unbelievably. I wasn’t that big on games until then, and even though the Mega Drive was mine from 1998, I quickly appreciated its excellence. I may have played it later than everyone else, but I approached each game like it was released when it was released, because I never really dealt with games as good as those before. It was a year later before I discovered late again, the Playstation, and moved onto that console. But despite discovering the PS, I still played my Mega Drive, discovered other games and appreciated them despite moving onto 3D games with much bigger experiences. Overall the Playstation is definitely my favourite console of all time, but the Mega Drive isn’t far behind. It truly was a phenomenal console and deserves any praise it gets.

This is going to be a 50 day listing. Now I’ve been reluctant to do another 50 day listing again after doing one 50 and one 100 day listing in the past with mixed results, but I’ve decided I will make another attempt at one. There are two reasons why I’m making this a 50 day listing; firstly because I believe a list like this is worthy of 50 days coverage. It’s rare that I do a 50 listing as I said; I’m reluctant to do them anymore, so I’m going to pick and choose them wisely. This deserves it. Secondly, it’s because of my personal situation; I’m going through a lot at the moment, just started a new job, moved house, separated from my wife and we also have a newborn and our near-four year old to take care of separately. I just don’t have the time to write much at the moment, so the idea is to stretch this project forward and hopefully make time in the 50 days to write more quality work.

Enough about that, here’s my Top 50 Favourite Mega Drive games! Enjoy!

#50 – Columns III

Released: 1993 (2008 in the UK)
Genre: Puzzle
Rating: ***1/2
Best Moment: Nothing particularly, it’s very colourful though. Playing against up to 4 people can be fun.
Columns III probably missed most of you, if you lived in the UK. It was released in America and Japan, and only saw release 15 years later in the UK when released on the Virtual Console on the Wii. But... I confess. I played this on Emulator. And it’s really good. Is it an improvement on Columns? Yes, overall I’d say so actually. But it lacks the nostalgia and classic touch that the original has. I’ve never played Columns II so I can’t comment on that, but the third game was fun, as it added a more competitive element, whilst it looked pretty damn gorgeous for 1993 graphics as the colours stand out really well.



#49 - World Cup Italia '90
Released: 1990
Genre: Sports
Rating: ***1/2
Best Moment: When you score, and you get the still of a man celebrating. It’s the same man each time, just with different skin colours and jerseys. It’s truly awful but I love it.
That’s my opinion on this game in general actually. It’s truly awful but I love it. This game has the privilege of being the first Mega Drive game I ever played. As I said, I got my console in 1998 and it was part of the Mega 6 collection that had much better games on it too. All six games make this list, and this is the lowest rated of the six. This game is pretty poor overall, but then again, in 1990 there weren’t that many good quality football games. That would be the case for a few years yet, before FIFA really got off the map. But it’s still playable if not a little too easy once you know how to play properly. It still has a good place in my heart and is fun to stick on once in a while, for giggles more than anything else.

#48 – Virtua Fighter 2
Released: 1996
Genre: Fighting
Rating: ***1/2
Best Moment: Knocking your opponent out of the ring. It can be difficult in the later difficulties and you feel pretty good when you pull it off.
This game was released on the new Sega Saturn console that was the hottest thing around at the time, but because the Mega Drive was still really popular they released a version of it on there. It was definitely inferior, but still packed a decent punch. The Virtua Fighter series had a lot of fans, and still does, maybe I’m rating the game too low for some of you on this list but it’s because I’m just not that big a fan of the series. One thing though for certain, it’s possible this game had the best graphics of any Mega Drive game due to its very late release in the life of the console and its actual spot on the Sega Saturn.
 


#47 – Jurassic Park


Released: 1993
Genre: Action
Rating: ***3/4
Best Moment: Beating the first level! Seriously, this game was so tough, playing it for the first time good luck beating the first level, never mind progressing far on your first go!
This game was really good, really really good. But it was tough as nails. It’s one of the hardest games I remember ever playing. It was fun though, and they did the Jurassic Park film justice in honesty. The dinosaurs are tough in different ways and the game looks fantastic. The game is definitely worth a go if you haven’t played it before. But as I’ve said a few times, it’s a really hard game!

#46 – Road Rash 3: Tour de Force
Released: 1995
Genre: Racing
Rating: ***3/4
Best Moment: Just knocking someone off their bike. It’s a great feeling; it’s what made Road Rash stand out from other motorbike games.
The Road Rash games were all pretty decent, although the differences between the three released on the Mega Drive was minimal. I remember preferring the third one the most, as they had a good selection of weapons, looked slickest and I liked the fact that there were 7 tracks to race on but that you only go through 5 of them, depending on how you play the game. It gave the never changing formula a bit of diversity, as the games barely changed from one to another.


#45 - FIFA International Soccer
Released: 1993 
Genre: Sports 
Rating: ***3/4 
Best Moment: Scoring. Scoring was awesome as you ran towards the crowd and look at the titantron which had some cool little images put across it. You could also make random noises on screen by pressing the buttons on your controller.
Ah, the FIFA series. So long and illustrious. But things didn’t start off to great for the game series. Football quite simply, wasn’t a very good video game in the 2D eras of video game history. But FIFA was very successful despite this, mainly because of its brand name as the governing body of world football. FIFA International Soccer can be called FIFA 94, not that it matters, but the subsequent FIFA games barely changed anything in the blueprint this game had. The graphics were almost identical, the teams were only slightly updated. I know some of you may think, “yes but the same applies to FIFA now on a yearly basis”, but trust me, enough tweaks are made per year nowadays in comparison to the early days. That’s why the original, FIFA International Soccer, is the only game in this list, as it’s the original and probably the best.
 


#44 – Mega Bomberman
 
Released: 1994
Genre: Action
Rating: ***3/4
Best Moment: Timing is impeccable in this game, and when you time to release that bomb on that enemy and they walk into it in the most perfect of timing, you feel so good inside.
There were games in the Bomberman series released before this and after this but for me, this is the best one. The plot was simple enough, the graphics were colourful and bright, and the action and powerups were good. The enemies and bosses were fun and diverse too. But the Bomberman series has always had its flaws, and I’ve always thought while the concept is good, it’s nothing really mind blowing. Also you can’t help hate yourself when you screw up and trap yourself in a corner with a bomb. Man, very few games make you feel like worse of a fool I can tell you! But Mega Bomberman was pretty damn good, and I’d recommend this game in the series over any other. Mistake!


#43 – Golden Axe III 
Released: 1993 (2009 in the UK)
Genre: Beat ‘em Up
Rating: ***3/4
Best Moment: Even by the third game in the series, using the magic is still awesome and is the highlights of the game.
The third Golden Axe game also wasn’t released in the UK, until it was put on the Sega Mega Ultimate Collection a few years ago. Yes... I also played this on emulator... am I a bad person? Anyway... similar to other game series in this list, Golden Axe also suffers from a lack of change in its sequels. Once again like other game series, Golden Axe’s trilogy is great, none of the three games are bad, but very little separates them. Golden Axe II isn’t in this list marginally, but the third was better and the first was the best. The best thing that GA3 did was add pathways that you could select and continue the game down. It made the game experience that bit more personal as you could have had a different set of levels to progress through one play through from the next. But the core game play never changed really, and that’s why it’s this low in the listing.


#42 – Micro Machines
Released: 1993
Genre: Racing
Rating: ***3/4
Best Moment: Nothing beats the awesome air time you get on certain jumps in a race. It just feels awesome. Also, using the tanks and blowing up the other tanks by shooting them down was fun as hell.
Micro Machines was a great series of games. The toy company really did have a great formula and a great concept in the early part of the nineties. Unfortunately technology and 3D gaming occurred and their style of game play died because it never fit in a modern video game environment.  But the top-down view made the games a very interesting experience. The first in the series wasn’t the best, but the formula was there and they just improved on that later on. The first Micro Machines game is definitely worth playing though, it’s a damn good game.


#41 – Columns
Released: 1990
Genre: Puzzle
Rating: ***3/4
Best Moment: When playing Arcade mode and you get the big triple diamond jewels, they could be a real life saver and if placed on a ground tile, you get a huge points boost!
Columns is a classic game. Sure, Tetris may be the king of puzzle games, but if you had a Sega Mega Drive I’d be almost certain you had played Columns at least once. It’s simple concept, very iconic music inspired by Greek mythology and two player competitive play that made the game so popular. Sure, it’s not the most original puzzle game ever, but it was the most approachable and popular. And it ticks all the boxes that a puzzle game should.

Continue reading the listing!

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