Who knew we’d make it as far as the third letter of the alphabet? Certainly not me. The third letter being C, of course.
C is quite a popular initial in the world of Mega Drive games. Sadly, a lot of them are C for College, as in College Football, and if there’s anything worse than American Football it’s American College Football because of oh god it’s crap. There’s a C for Coach game too, which is Coach K College Basketball, and even though basketball is a trillion times better than American Football, it’s still College and still boring. Just so you know: sports games ain’t gonna feature positively for most of the Alphabest series.
Some games that avoided the shortlist, but you may have expected them to have made it, include Cannon Fodder (which is a great game, but not without a mouse), Castle of Illusion (which was pretty good, but nowhere near as good as the 8bit version which I played later rendering the Mega Drive version obsolete), Columns (two player mode is non-interactive so utterly pointless – get the Master System version instead) and Comix Zone (technically very polished and clever, but too hard to be any fun at all). That leaves us with these three:
Crüe Ball is a Mötley Crüe themed pinball game, featuring some of their music and visually is a mix of metal and bizarre organic creatures (flying brains and stuff), and features bosses and all sorts. As well as (or despite, if you don’t like “Dr. Feelgood”) the Crüe overtones, it’s a great game of pinball too, with some arcadey sub-games (like a side on Breakout type section). Probably the best pinball game on the Mega Drive, in fact, although there aren’t that many to compete with it.
Columns III is slightly confusing because Columns II is virtually unknown. It finally becomes what the original Columns should have been (and was, on the Master System) by way of having Puyo Puyo style competitive two player. Building a massive combo to massively hinder your opponent never gets old, and in Columns III five players can play at once. If you have that many friends. There’s a decent single player “story” mode too.
Castlevania: The New Generation, known as Bloodlines elsewhere, is not only better than Super Castlevania IV, it does things the Mega Drive simply isn’t supposed to do. Sprite rotations and warpy effects and scaling and all the sorts of things the SNES’ extra hardware was employed to do and provide the Nintendo Gloat Factor but apparently the Sega console can’t cope with. Well, it can. Oh boy can it.
And the Alphabest?
Both Columns III and Crüe Ball are excellent games, and a few also-rans are also well worth a play (Chakan: The Forever Man and Contra: Hard Corps, for example), but far and away the best C is Castlevania: The New Generation.
It’s an almost perfect platformer. It looks incredible. It has two different selectable characters who change the combat completely. And it’s Castlevania – one of my favourite game serieseses ever. It’s incredible.
Next time! D! If I can be bothered.