Super Fantasy Zone (Switch): COMPLETED!

This was hard. I’ve played it before but I don’t remember it being this difficult. In fact, last time I said this:

So yes, it’s probably the easiest of all the Fantasy Zone games 

Which is proof I’m an actual liar because no, no it is not. It’s bloody hard and even with saving each level I barely made it through. That said, the bosses were pretty easy – it’s the levels themselves which are virtually impossible to move five pixels without dying. Again. And again.

It was still fun though, despite all that. You can’t hate the blue skies and twinkly happy musics even if you are struggling to progress.

Castlevania: Bloodlines (Switch): COMPLETED!

Just in case I was misremembering that this was one of the good linear Castlevania games, and my thoughts on Vampire’s Kiss were based on warped memories, I decided to give this a go. It’s on the Switch Online Mega Drive collection too so it wasn’t difficult figuring out a way of running it.

And, I was completely right. It is so much better than Vampire’s Kiss it makes that game look like a dodgy c-tier “Dracula’s Castle” knock-off and not a legitimate title in the series at all. Bloodlines (or “The New Generation”, if you prefer) is faster, slicker, more varied, longer, less frustrating, and much more fun. The bosses are excellent, there are all sorts of nifty graphical effects that the Mega Drive can’t do except it can – tilting towers, sprite scaling, splitting the screen up and shunting bits of it around, and so on.

I played through as Eric Lecarde – the one with the trident – as I think I played as Mr Whippy last time, and the reach of his tool (careful now) makes certain sections much more doable – he can stab baddies on platforms above him, for a start.

I’d probably go as far to say that this is the best linear (rather than SOTN style) Castlevania game. Yes, even better than Super Castlevania IV.

Puyo Puyo (Switch): COMPLETED!

Yes, it’s essentially the same game as Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine, which I completed a couple of days ago. But this one has cute Japanese character voices and cuter graphics and no stupid fake Sonic enemies.

Other than that, though, it was no different to play. I didn’t find the end boss as difficult, but that’s probably luck and/or practice rather than it being easier than the Sonic reskin.

M.U.S.H.A. (Switch): COMPLETED!

Until this appeared on the Switch Online Mega Drive collection thing, I’d never realised that “MUSHA”, “Aleste”, and “Musha Aleste” are the same game. I’d never played any of them before, either.

It’s a vertically scrolling shooter with big robots and great music and impressive graphics. And it’s hard. And I completed it, eventually.

The bosses were, mostly, much easier than some bits of the actually levels, it turned out. Aside from the “final”[ref]Spoiler: it’s not final.[/ref] one with the almost unavoidable things that stick out of the wall, with the walls already having become really narrow!

Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine (Switch): COMPLETED!

Just in case I didn’t have enough games to play already, and I have a copy of this already on my Switch in the Sega Mega Drive Collection thing, I decided to play the one in the new Sega Nintendo Online collection. No, I don’t know either.

I’ve played it before. And completed it before. But not for a while.

Mean Bean Machine is just a reskin of Puyo Puyo, and I have to say, I prefer Puyo Puyo. This Sonic themed version is full of the stupid badniks from (presumably) Sonic the Comic and/or one of the cartoon series and I don’t like them. That makes no difference to to the gameplay of course, but still.

The game was really easy until the final three opponents, where the speed is just too fast. Robotnik himself, especially, seemed to fill my well (careful now) before I had a chance to even drop a few beans, so it was only by blind luck I managed to nail him in the end, I’m sure.

Cosmic Spacehead (Evercade): COMPLETED!

Although I own this on the Mega Drive, I don’t think I’ve ever played it. But with it being on the Evercade, as with many other titles, I’m rectifying that. And. completed it, of course.

The game is split between a Lucasarts-style point and click adventure game (there’s even a reference to Lucasarts in the form of a cave painting) and a platformer, with simple platforming sections wedged between each location.

With simple puzzles and no difficult platforming, it didn’t take me long to reach the end. As you’d expect, using a joypad to point-and-click isn’t ideal, but you can cycle through actions with the buttons to save manually selecting them with the pointer which helps. I like the art style, and although the backtracking was a bit of a pain I enjoyed it overall.

Mega-lo-Mania (Evercade): COMPLETED!

Yes. I played Mega-lo-Mania again, and yes, I completed it again. This time, however, it was the recently released Evercade version! Which is just the Mega Drive version again only on an Evercade cart of course.

I chose to play as Scarlet this time through, and for the second time ever, one of the other players managed to stick some people in suspended animation for the Mother of All Battles. Of course, they only had about 10 of them whereas I had a couple of hundred or something, so they didn’t last long. Still, it’s the thought that counts, right?

Tanglewood (Evercade): COMPLETED!


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There was a lot of hype surrounding this game before and soon after it’s original release on the Mega Drive. Not least because it was a home made but professional quality Mega Drive game coming out some 20-odd years after making a Mega Drive game had been a financially viable prospect. It looks amazing, and has some fantastic animation (especially on the fox you control), and I saved a load of money getting it for the Evercade instead of other platforms.

And it’s perfectly good. It has a few puzzles, a fair amount of platforming, some big beasties to outsmart or outrun, and an unusual power-up system where you push fluffy seed things to lights where you can activate them and get temporary powers.

But, there’s something missing. It’s serviceable and there’s a few clever bits, and it does incredible things with the console’s limited colour palette, but I just didn’t find it all that much fun. Perhaps it was the number of leaps of faith in the platforming. Maybe it was the slightly frustrating way the power-ups just ran out at the time you’d figured out how you needed to use them. Or possibly the slightly dodgy collision detection. Or none of those things. They put so much into making it An Art that they forgot to make it An Enjoyable Game?

That’s a little harsh, perhaps. It’s not bad at all. It just isn’t as fun as it should be, and as a result just went on a bit too long.

Mega-lo-Mania (MD): COMPLETED!

I realised today that I hadn’t completed Mega-lo-Mania this year and the year was almost up, so thought I’d better do it! I picked up my RetroFlag GPi again (it’s the best way to play, although apparently it’s coming to the Evercade in a few months!) and once more, beat The Best Game, this time as Caesar.

Only! This! Time!

Not only was I not the only person with people for the final battle, I had TWO opponents! Both of whom I thrashed within seconds. Ah well.

Look! Look! Both Scarlet and Madcap made it to the final level! Unprecedented.

Dynamite Headdy (Switch): COMPLETED!

Even though I own three copies of this, or perhaps even more, and it had great reviews at the time, AND I like Treasure’s games, it surprises me that I’ve never played it past the first level or two. It wasn’t because it was hard (it wasn’t, but… see later), or I didn’t enjoy it, so who knows.

Only this time, while flicking through the Mega Drive Collection on my Switch for something to play, it caught my eye and before you know it (about three hours) I’d completed it. But oh my was I wrong about it being easy. That was only for the first half of the game – after that, it really ramped up the difficulty.

Shoot the baby! (Don’t shoot the baby). No really, shoot the baby.

Particular Highlights of Hell include the side scrolling shooter sections, especially the one where you have to weave up and down a fast moving corridor, the boss that chases you and definitely a cat not a bear Trouble Bruin, and the Gatekeeper. The Gatekeeper in particular, as there’s a split second when he’s vulnerable and if you’re a pixel too close or far away and don’t attack exactly correctly and run away in that tiny window of opportunity, you get hit.

So yes, I used save states. Which was justified when I found out later that the Western version (which I played) is at least twice as hard as the Japanese one.

Hardest boss ever.

But, I did really enjoy it. It looks and plays great, and has a wide variety of levels and bosses and loads of clever hardware-pushing effects that even the SNES’s Mode 7 would be impressed by.

Decap Attack (Switch): COMPLETED!

One of my favourite platformers and a game I’ve probably mentioned on here before. We all know how this is the western version of Magical Flying Hat Turbo Adventure, but both games are excellent if different.

Didn’t have any problems on my play through. I didn’t remember all the level layouts, but did remember the route to skip one of the bosses!

Rolling Thunder 2 (MD): COMPLETED!

I’m not sure I’ve ever played this before, but I was always a big fan of the original game in the arcades. I was a little worried it wouldn’t be any good, because of both being a sequel and the passage of time, but I needn’t have worried – it was excellent.

It is, of course, more of the two-layer, door-entering, duck-and-shooting that the original was, and it played well despite being pretty difficult. You see, as well as having to contend with all the baddies, and the holes in the floor, you’ve only got a limited amount of ammo for your gun and there’s a pretty tight time limit on each level.

Then there’s the final boss, which was especially tricky as it’s a one-hit death for you, and a million-hit death for him, and you’re pretty much forced to use all your ammo on the frantic lift ride on the way to reach him. No bullets means your gun can only fire one shot at a time, making him especially difficult to take down. But, eventually, I did.

Mega-lo-Mania (MD): COMPLETED!

Time passed, and so I decided to play Mega-lo-Mania again. This time, I completed it on my new RetroFlag GPi – the thing that looks like a Game Boy but houses a Raspberry Pi.

I played as Madcap, and once again (see previous posts) I reached the final level with nobody else having put anyone in suspended animation to get there with me, so I instantly won.

It’s the best game, despite that.

Golden Axe III (Switch): COMPLETED!

Is Golden Axe III going to be a good game, given the previous two were not? Go on, have a guess.

At least it tried. Instead of being almost exactly the same as the other games, the graphics are all new, the animation is new, and most of the baddies are new. Reminiscent of those before, but new. There’s a different art style too, but actually, it’s worse. And there are two new characters but they’ve relegated the best one – Gillius Thunderhead – to a little less than a narrator role. You can’t play as him. I chose Tyris Flare instead, who now has ridiculous beefcake muscles.

They’ve improved the “AI” so the enemies no longer blindly walk off ledges, and for the most part the old running attack left and right “trick” isn’t possible any more. But sadly, this doesn’t really improve things. Golden Axe III is actually worse, somehow, than its predecessors.

Golden Axe II (Switch): COMPLETED!

I was pretty sure that Golden Axe II was a better game than Golden Axe I. And I’d remembered correctly – as it is. But it’s still almost exactly the same game only with more pink and purple, a better (for Gilius at least – I only ever play as him) special attack.

Both “tricks” from the previous game still happen here, and for this one Sega Mega Drive Classics actually has an achievement for doing it enough times:

A hole new world

The other trick is the “running headbutt” one, and that’s still alive and well here too. Some of the baddies have evolved to make it a little harder – the giant dog things with maces, for example, now try to Tiger Knee you mid-dash. I also found a new trick which I don’t think worked before:

Mmm, pink

The bosses were also quite a bit easier than the original game, especially the final boss who rarely actually hits you. The big headless knights can’t be beaten like their headed counterparts (headbutt or jump-slash), but if you walk diagonally into them you can axe them before they attack so they’re actually easier to dispatch.

Graphically, the game seems better looking but the giant turtle and eagle based levels are replaced with just normal paths and caves, and the previously mentioned pink and purple enemies are a bit garish. The music, as ever, is great though.