Alphabest: Mega Drive – J

Alphabest: Mega Drive – J

There’s a lot of sports games beginning with J. And you know what sports games mean! That’s right – <fx:Family Fortunes Klaxon>.


Not all sports games are bad games of course, just look at the winner of Alphabest I last time, but many, many are. They’re also a genre which hasn’t really aged well over the years.

Representing Sports Games in J, are the likes of Jennifer Capriati Tennis, James “Buster” Douglas Knock Out Boxing, a few J. League football games, and a number of variations on the worst of all sports – John Madden and Joe Montana fronted American Football titles. Madden is supposedly excellent if you’re a fan of armoured rugby, but I’m not. J. League was a well respected series of football games, but it wasn’t Sensible Soccer. Boxing and tennis, nah thanks.

Basketball is represented by Jordan vs Bird, but basketball that isn’t NBA Jam is completely funless, and Jerry Glanville’s Pigskin Footbrawl is a prehistoric take on more American Football, and is rubbish. Sports games, eh?

Thankfully, there are J games that aren’t sport related. Joe & Mac is a caveman platformer, which is fondly remembered by many (but not me – Chuck Rock is better), and James Bond 007: The Duel is a pretty looking platform shooter with some nice animation (especially running down stairs) but is ultimately unremarkable. Jeopardy! is what we now term shovelware, and the two Jurassic Park games (the latter essentially being a re-release of the first, only improved) are nothing special.

Which leaves…

Jimmy WhiteJimmy White’s Whirlwind Snooker is, yes, a sports game. If you class snooker as a sport, that is. It remains my favourite snooker game, and not just because the balls pull funny faces if you leave them alone: It was the first to offer complete 3D freedom of view, and unprecedented control over your shots. The only thing was… the Amiga version was better than the Mega Drive one, which chugged a bit.

Jungle StrikeJungle Strike is the sequel to Desert Strike, swapping the Gulf for, er, the jungle. It’s more of the same, albeit in a different location, and plays just like the original. The graphics are better and more varied (it’s not just jungles), and a few tweaks help it rise above the original a little. I found it a little too difficult, though.

James Pond IIJames Pond II: Codename Robocod is a platformer followup to the original James Pond game. The bad guy has taken over the North Pole and threatens to ruin Christmas, so it’s up to you – a fish spy in a in infinitely stretchy robosuit – to collect penguins and navigate silly levels based on sports, bathrooms, a circus and more, beating bosses and stuff. It’s utter nonsense and a lot of fun.

And the Alphabest?

Jimmy White really is an excellent game, but it’s also not as good as the Amiga version (which is where I played it most) partly because it’s less jerky and partly because you control it with a mouse. On the reverse, James Pond II is actually better on the Mega Drive than the Amiga, with far better controls and much better backdrops, not to mention no loading times. I played it again just last week and although it isn’t quite as good as it once was, it’s still the best game here. James Pond II: Codename Robocod is therefore the Alphabest.

For what it’s worth, although the first and third James Pond games are also pretty good, Robocod is the best of the three.

Next time… K!


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