Ruh roh! P is another one of those letter with a big pile of sports sports sports games. Perhaps I can deftly hit the fairway without ending up in a P bunker?
PGA Tour Golf. I don’t like golf, I don’t watch golf, I don’t really understand why people like golf. At least, not in real life. But I am partial to the odd game of golf when it’s a veedayoh game. There are five or so PGA Tour games on the Mega Drive, and really, there’s very little difference between them. Some have more courses and modes, and the later ones look a bit better, but the core ball-smacking mechanic remains much the same throughout. My favourite was PGA European Tour, mainly because it was the first one I played (albeit originally on the Amiga). If you like a bit of golf in your games, you can’t go wrong with a PGA title. That said, they’re still golf, so they ain’t winning anything here.
More sports sports sports games include Pete Sampras Tennis and Pelé! (with a !). The former is not bad for a tennis game but suffers from the fact that, yes, it’s a tennis game. Pelé! (with a !) and it’s sequel Pelé II (without a !) don’t hold up to pretty any other Mega Drive football.
A trio of unrelated “Pro” games next: Pro Moves Soccer, Pro Striker Final Stage, and Pro Quarterback. All three are poor replicas of the sports they represent and there are far better examples for the console.
Moving away from sports sports sports, The Punisher is a decent Streets of Rage style side scrolling beat-em-up. Faster paced than that game, but not as impressive overall. I think the original arcade version may have been put together by the same team as Final Fight, so although you know it isn’t going to be a duffer, it’s not the best game beginning with P.
Pit-Fighter was a forerunner to Mortal Kombat, with big digitised sprites that looked fantastic until they moved and you realised there were virtually no frames of animation. On a similar topic, Primal Rage is a one-on-one fighting game with dinosaurs and monsters instead of shotokan experts and ninjas. It’s crap. Almost Rise of the Robots level crap too.
That leaves us with Pocahontas (16bit Disney platformer, so no), Powermonger (doesn’t work well on a console, so no), Pirates! Gold (not great on console either, so no), Pitfall: The Mayan Adventure (overhyped platformer, no), Prince of Persia (looks lovely, fantastic animation, frustratingly hard, stupid game time limit) and a couple of Premier Manager titles (Football Spreadsheet Simulators – I’ve dabbled, they’re not bad, but not really my thing).
The contenders, then:
Psycho Pinball is a bright, colourful pinball game with arcade minigames. Very much like Crüe Ball, only with a different skin. That sort of thing, anyway. There’s a plot about you being an armadillo or something, but that’s irrelevant: it’s the fun ball pinging around the four different tables that’s important. Pinball games are generally great anyway, but this is one of the better Mega Drive pinball titles.
Puggsy is a very underrated and mostly ignored puzzle platformer from Psygnosis. You use items to trigger switches, shoot targets, find secrets and so on. There’s clever use of throwing and stacking items, loads of bonus levels and alternative routes, and it’s all quite original and unusual. And HUGE – there are so many levels! It’s slightly overshadowed by the MegaCD version though, which is even bigger and has CD music and FMV.
Phantasy Star III is the very first JRPG I ever played. Probably one of the first RPGs of any sort, actually. It was a surprise present one Christmas, and although I was totally confused for ages with how it worked, when it clicked I was hooked. The three generations of characters and four possible endings gave it a huge amount of replayability too. I’ve since played the other Phantasy Star games (lets ignore the PS Online titles – they’re not canon) and they’re all excellent, with PSIV possibly even the better game, but PSIII beats them on length, variety and fond memories.
And the Alphabest?
As soon as I realised P was up, I knew the winner without even needing to remind myself of the other games starting with the same letter. It’s a game that brought me into a brand new, to me, genre and opened the door to so many other games I’d probably never have touched otherwise. That’s right – the winner is Phantasy Star III.
As I write this, I’m working through a current JRPG – Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE, and I know full well that it would totally have passed me by if I’d not been introduced to JRPGs all those years ago.
Join me again same (different) Bat time, same Bat channel, for Q. Oh my is that going to be a difficult one.