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Tag: virtual console

Do I Actually Like Zelda II?

The first two Zelda games on NES were natural Virtual Console purchases for me. I play through the first game, usually over the course of one or two days, every couple years (on the NES itself, the Gamecube “Collector’s Edition” disc, and sometimes emulated, but now mostly on Virtual Console). The second game was one I never actually beat as a kid (I managed to get to Thunderbird and always died), but it was a game that I would “re-start” again and again since my youth and its original release. I typically never make it beyond the second palace before either getting bored, frustrated, or just moving along to something else as I tend to do with my Gaming A.D.D.™.

I’ve had a save file on my Virtual Console version set right after a completion of the first palace probably since first downloading the game when it came out back in June 2007. Maybe a month or so ago I was showing Andrew the NES setup down in our basement (along with Sesame Street ABC/123, one of the creepiest games of all time, which I will write about at some point when I come out from under the covers), and played through the first palace in Zelda II, yet again, this time on the ol’ cartridge. I was shocked to see that the save file of my childhood friend (“MIKE C.”), was still there on the game, complete with the little Triforce next to the icon to show he had beaten the game. That excitement reminded me of the Virtual Console version upstairs, so I decided to pick the game up again one day and see how far I would get before the same trend of boredom and/or frustration and/or Gaming A.D.D.™ took place.

cart_save_files

Right now I am in the middle of the third palace (got the raft but have not gone to the boss), and have also ventured over to the eastern continent to save the child, learn two new magic spells, and learn the upward-thrust sword technique. As expected, the most difficult part so far was getting the hammer; if you make it past that point in the game, you are typically going to keep playing for at least a little while longer. With the hammer in tow (and not yet bored), I decided that I would keep playing the game until it frustrated me to the point that it was no longer fun. I especially wanted to get myself over to that eastern continent, something I probably hadn’t seen since I was a kid playing through the game for the first time.

Now that I am there, I find myself asking strange questions… like, do I actually… ya’ know… like this game…?

zelda2_title_screen

While I had played the first Legend of Zelda rather extensively through trades with friends and rentals, I actually owned my own personal copy of the second game before I owned the first. I was only six years old when it first came out in 1988, and while I do not remember exactly when I got the game, it couldn’t have been all that long after that (maybe within a year?). At that point in a child’s life, they can’t exactly “save up” allowance money to purchase new games or convince their parents to get the latest game, so it was an instance where you (“you” being “I”) got a game and played the ever living Hell out of it, since it was all I had (beyond what I received with the system, which was a collection of Super Mario Bros. / Duck Hunt, Super Mario Bros. 2, and Sesame Street ABC/123, which was more for my sister than me… but, hey…).

But here I am, nearly twenty years after first playing the game. I have barely touched it since then, and yet still remember where everything is located (like jumping down the chimney in Darunia to learn the upward-thrust technique from the swordsman). If I can barely manage to play more than a single palace each time I try to play, do I actually like the game?

Let’s break it down almost review-style —

GAMEPLAY:

One of the criticisms people like to toss at Zelda II is that it plays so differently from the other games. I have seen the following response before, but I think it makes a whole lot of sense — there had only been one game so far, so how on Earth do you compare it to “all” the “other” games? Of course, this is a perspective being taken years later looking back on the game, but for the time, it seemed like a natural extension of the gameplay seen in the first game. You are still Link with a sword and shield; you are still wandering around a massive world free to go anywhere you want with the items available to you so far; you unlock new areas to explore with new items; you can venture in and out of levels/palaces without finishing them if you really want to; etc. Of course, the concepts of experience points, magic, and especially “lives” were incredibly different from the first game, but again… for the time, it seemed like a logical expansion on the original. Another point I have seen many times before is that the side-scrolling sections in Link’s Awakening appear to be nods to Zelda II, even with their Mario-enemy cameos; they feel like single-screen Zelda II palaces with elevators, jumps, and especially the “Skull” enemy (itself reminiscent of the “Bubble” foes from the first game’s dungeons).

zelda2_elevator la_sidescrolling
(Link’s Awakening shot from gamespite.net)

This is still all hindsight, though. How about the controls, as in how Link actually moves and responds to you…? Back then and today I still feel that Link moves realistically and reacts appropriately for who he is. Quite frankly, once you obtain the downward-thrust sword technique, pro players can make Link look almost graceful in the way he hops and bounces off of foes, acting like a skipping-stone through caves and palace corridors.

link_graceful_movement

Link’s jumping ability in Ocarina of Time seems to be an exact copy of his Zelda II technique, albeit no longer manually-controlled. Unlike Mario, Link does not and cannot jump three or four times his own height. There is a certain “weight” to him that grounds him in reality, no matter how unrealistic and fantastic the scenario is. It still feels a little “stiff” like many of the early NES games, but was a clear mid-way point between the first generation of games and the masterpieces of technological wonder that were the system’s swan songs.

GRAPHICS:

While the first game by no means features an overly-saturated, lush landscape… the second game does feel like it has a more subdued, muted color palette. With the exception of the green forests and grass on the overworld, this section of Hyrule seems to be a rather dull place.

zelda2_overworld_1

Palaces are entirely single-color, caves are either dark or lit up in orange… heck, the most colorful things in the game are probably the enemies! This may have been a conscious decision to set them apart from their backgrounds, now that I step back to look at it more closely. Even Link’s outfit is a somewhat-desaturated version of what we (now) traditionally think of as his green tunic when placed upon the various backgrounds. Sure, it was partially a limitation of the console and the number of colors it can display, but it all comes together to form “Link” in a very special way.

link_sprite_cutout

The game absolutely has its own aesthetic, one that was later used as “inspiration” for plenty of other games. The overworld was sparse and its enemy icons looked ridiculous, and as mentioned the colors were somewhat dull… but at the time, nothing else looked like it. Even today, it retains its own individual look, and one that seems to have been referenced and expanded upon in style by games like Ocarina of Time.

MUSIC:

Despite the score being composed by Akito Nakatsuka (rather than veteran Koji Kondo), few people will claim that Zelda II has “bad” music. While the first game’s main melody is only briefly hinted at with the beginning of the overworld theme, this approach would return with Ocarina of Time… and it seemed to work out pretty OK there, too. The true testament to Zelda II‘s score is the inclusion of the palace music in Super Smash Bros. Melee, and a medley of the normal and final palace songs in Brawl. This one haunting piece seems to have survived the test of time more so than any other element from the game, and for good reason. Folks tend to overlook the rest of the game’s score, however; the town music laid the groundwork for later songs like the Kakariko Village theme in its simplicity and tone, while the cave music got you on the edge of your seat in anticipation of whether or not another Daria was going to come swinging with some flying axes.

Needless to say, the score is phenomenal, and near-universally enjoyed. It contributes quite a bit to the overall enjoyment of the game.

DIFFICULTY:

This is not an easy game. Even as an NES-generation child, I could not defeat Thunderbird in the final palace. Perhaps the first clue you get about the game’s difficulty is when you wander into the northern desert cave before getting the candle; if you somehow manage to jump past the bats and fire pits, that Goriya is nailing you with his boomerang.

northern_cave

As I mentioned earlier, the true test of might is simply obtaining the hammer sometime after beating the first palace. If you can make your way past that one, final, red Daria… chances are you have the chops to continue. Even after that, though, the game does not hold back. The Ironknuckles are particularly difficult to deal with if you do not play defensively (something you rarely had to do in the first game), and choosing the wrong path in the third palace without first confronting that blue Ironknuckle trapped inside the blocks means you’re going to be battling a red one in front of you while the blue one throws knives at you from behind. Hitting a little, floating bubble while jumping across a pit invariably means you are falling to your death. Not grinding up a little magic-meter extension means you probably will not have enough magic points to cast that “Life” or even “Shield” spell when confronting the palace boss.

thunderbird

The game is unforgiving, but mostly fair. Some of the enemies move rather unpredictably, and the Mace Thrower can be difficult to get some inside-range on, but perseverance means you will ultimately learn the general gameplay patterns and move forward.

LEVEL DESIGN:

I have recently been playing through Retro Game Challenge on the DS. The final game, Robot Ninja Haggle Man 3, is a game in the vein of something like Metroid mashed up with some later Castlevania and a little old-school Ninja Gaiden or Shinobi; you are free to explore the world in the standard side-scrolling, action-game view with your sword, shuriken, jumps, etc. You can upgrade your abilities by purchasing “gears”, which grant you higher jumps, floating, powered-up shuriken blasts, and more. I have only barely played a couple minutes into the first Metroid game, and I have only played Castlevania games pre-Symphony of the Night. I have relatively little experience in the open-world “Metroidvania” style of games, and yet I find myself absolutely in love. There is no doubt in my mind that my PS3 & PSP will soon have a copy of Symphony of the Night on them, and I am even more excited to play Super Metroid.

How does this all relate to Zelda II, though?

You could make a somewhat-solid argument that Zelda II falls in line with this style of game. In fact, Jeremy Parish has done so. The palaces in Zelda II have some degree of “open-world” to them, albeit on a much smaller scale. The “standard” (again, only the second game here…) Zelda tropes of keys to open locked doors remain in your path, but upgraded magic spells like “Jump” and the glove which allows you to break blocks are what lead you to new areas in these palaces. Again, you are free to wander in and out of palaces as you choose; if all you want to do is grab that palace’s special item and move on without defeating the boss, feel free (similar to how you can play the first game). You will eventually have to come back to defeat him to place the crystal at the end of the level if you want to open up the final palace, but it is all left up to you to decide how and in what kind of order.

palace_2_map
(palace map from nesmaps.com)

In this respect, Zelda II almost seems like a “Metroidvania LITE” gameplay experience. Perhaps it acting as the basis for any familiarity I have with that type of gameplay and level design is what now has me interested in going back and checking out some of these major hits that I somehow missed over the years.

HILARITY:

Who can forget “I AM ERROR.“…? Even when accurate to the original Japanese script (as Error was), the half-translated nature of the game combined with the lack of character space to get across the necessary information certainly led to an unparalleled experience. Between Link actually “speaking” aloud for what may be the only time in the franchise’s history (“I FOUND A MIRROR UNDER THE TABLE.“), the in-retrospect pondering about what exactly goes on inside that lady’s house when Link’s health is restored, and the oft-seen “GAME OVER RETURN OF GANON” (brought about by sprinkling your blood on the big boss’ remains, mind you)… few games come close to the written-text experience of Zelda II.

i_am_error game_over

SO DO I LIKE THE DARN THING?!

That’s a tough call. It is incredibly difficult to look back on your own personal history and familiarity with something and try to understand if you genuinely like it, or only think you like it due to that familiarity. Then again, if I am able to look back on things like He-Man and wonder how on Earth I ever liked it, I suppose I could do the same with video games and take a slightly-more objective look.

With that in mind, I think I do like Zelda II. I like it more than just a historical snapshot in a series that contains two of my favorite games of all-time (the original and Link’s Awakening), but I also appreciate it on that level of timely-significance. I like it more than just a piece of my childhood gaming adventures. I appreciate many of the artistic choices made in its development. The level design continues to intrigue me. The enemies become more and more frightening as the game progresses, certainly keeping me on the edge of my seat. The game is difficult, but not impossible (Hello, there, other game from my youth called Battletoads), which provides an incredible sense of accomplishment.

It is constantly called the “black sheep” of the franchise (typically with Majora’s Mask not far behind), but this should not be taken pejoratively. Many of its elements have stood the test of time to resurface in other games (the temple music, Dark Link), proving their historical significance and underlying genius. The fact that the game itself has been re-released an appropriate, but not overwhelming, number of times (GBA, Gamecube “Collector’s Edition” disc, Virtual Console) also speaks volumes.

Zelda II is a good game… it might even be great. I think I like it.

HDTV Gaming and Lag: First Impressions

One of the things I was most excited about and terrified of in the move to the new house was finally having a current-generation TV and audio setup to go along with the now-current-generation video game consoles. Up until last month, I had been gaming on a (decently sized) SDTV with its built-in speakers. I was at least playing the 360 and PS3 through component cables, but it was 480i with crappy audio none-the-less.

But let’s take a step back, first.

While I have not kept up with anything in a formal sense, I consider myself as having a bit of a musical background. In addition to my deep love of music (as seen by lo-fidelity), I played saxophone back in elementary and middle school and even took private lessons for a couple years after that. I dropped it mid-high-school for a variety of reasons (I think I wanted to play ska music but didn’t know what it was I was looking for), but the background was enough to carry with me and give me a wonderful frame of context for years to come. I think I have a finely-tuned ear for music, an incredible sense of rhythm, and pretty decent hand/eye coordination… all offset by a horrific singing voice, but you can’t win ’em all.

So what was horrifying about the move to HDTV gaming with a new sound system? It was the A/V lag inherent in the new technology that frightened me away like a dog with its ears down and its tail between its legs. For someone who can tell if anything is off-beat by even the most minor of measurements in milliseconds, “looking forward” to lag does not seem to make much logical sense. I ended up going with the following items for our setup:

– Pioneer PDP-5020FD Kuro 50″ Plasma TV
– Sony STRDG920 7.1 A/V Receiver
– Polk Audio RM6750 Speaker Set (Center / 2 Front / 2 Surround / Subwoofer)

Between all the HDMI and component cables, speaker wire, and miscellaneous items I made sure to pick up ahead of time, we were able to put together a complete setup (with an additional two speakers coming at some point in the near future, and actually putting the surround speakers somewhere other than in front of the TV):

hdtv_lag_setup

I knew things would potentially be OK with games like Rock Band where there was a thorough lag calibration system in the game’s options, but that wasn’t what I was most worried about. I wanted to start with the very basics, and move up from there. The first thing I popped in was the Wii, and set its display to 16:9 and 480p. It was wonderful to finally see the system taking advantage of what it could do in a larger display format, and I salivated at the thought of finally being able to see things in games like Super Smash Bros. Brawl. However, like I said… let’s start with the basics. It’s Virtual Console and Super Mario Bros. time.

hdtv_lag_smb

I was very much let down by the fact that the Wii did not automatically adjust to display games in their 4:3 format, and instead stretched it out to fill the 16:9 display. While there are a variety of ways I could adjust this, I found that the most convenient was to switch the receiver to output in 480p (rather than the upscaled 1080p), which for whatever reason scaled it back to 4:3 progressive rather than 16:9 progressive (which the TV then recognized and added the gray pillar bars on the sides)… but that was OK. Display issues were the least of my worries, though, since I knew I could adjust those on the fly. I was most concerned about lag, and especially with games I knew as intimately well as the original Super Mario Bros. Everyone has games that they have grown up with and feel are almost an extension of their hands and fingertips. Muscle memory takes over, and you feel like you could play an entire world blindfolded if you absolutely had to.

This is where it starts to break down. While it may be imperceptible to those not as familiar with it, Super Mario Bros. actually felt sluggish and unresponsive. Mario still jumped when I pressed “A”, but there was just enough of that insignificantly minor delay that I was accidentally jumping into Goombas and missing a couple pixels on the edge of a staircase after a jump. It was as if someone stole half of a cookie from me; the love and enjoyment was still there, but I knew I was missing something that held it back from being a complete whole. This made me wonder if I wanted to bother playing any old games at all on the newer setup if they were not going to feel the same to me. Sure, you could go tinker around with things like the receiver’s A/V lag calibration, but that only helps with things like movies where it can delay them both to match each other without worrying about real-time controller inputs to actively display in real-time right back at the viewer (geeze, that’s a mouth-full).

I decided to play another “old-school” game, but this time one that I was not as intimately familiar with. Would I even be able to tell if there was lag? If I had zero frame of reference, would I know any better? With all the hub-bub over the new release, and remembering the minor fanboy fiasco with HDTV lag issues when it first came out on Virtual Console, I decided to go back and play some more of the original Punch-Out on NES. I had only briefly played the game as a child, and even though it had been sitting on my Wii for months upon months, I had still only briefly played it and therefore had no memories to compare it to. How would it fare?

hdtv_lag_punchout

Well, I did the best I have ever done in the game. I made it up to King Hippo and could not honestly tell if there were lag issues. I am sure beyond all reasonable doubt that there were delays in the movements due to input lag… but coming into it completely fresh, I could not tell the difference. It felt like an entirely normal gaming experience to me, and one that I enjoyed to its fullest. Was my brain compensating for the lag, but making the entire process transparent to me since there was that lack of a frame of reference?

I have since played plenty of other games, both of an old and newer generation. I put an entire day into Pure on PS3, and while it may be due to the customizations and general control style of those types of games, my ATV felt as it should. Playing as Jigglypuff in Brawl felt normal… but then again, it’s a slow character, and the Wii was playing in its standard 16:9 / 480p. Street Fighter IV and Soul Calibur IV felt completely normal, as well… and those are faster games that we expect to have and demand pixel-perfect responses from. I still have a problem even with games like Rock Band, though; while the calibration options are supremely impressive, it does not change the fact that you are not actually playing the songs in real-time. When the drum solo bits come up, what plays through the speakers is not at the same moment as when you hit the drum pads (it is delayed by just a few milliseconds)… which in addition to making you look and sound like a complete spaz of a drummer, it can throw off your rhythm by leaps and bounds.

I still have a lot to learn about these types of setups and the best customizations to make. The Wii’s settings in conjunction with the type of upscaling the receiver is doing seem to have an effect on the input lag. I continue to learn more about the TV’s options and its different modes, so I may be able to customize things a little more to reduce lag (it looks like the “Game” display mode does nothing more than adjust colors and brightness, but when used in conjunction with another switch it may turn off things like noise reduction that affect display lag).

Instances like this make my yearn for the days of old when we hooked up a RF switcher to the TV (uphill both ways in snow)… and we liked it. Technological advancements like this are common place in all hobbies and everyday life processes, and it pains me to think that I am getting grumpy over them. While the ends may justify the means (having an impressive, enthralling, and engaging gaming experience), it reminds me of other hobbies like AMVs where the necessary preparation effort and time-sink are enough to deter me from even getting started, despite loving the end product.

Maybe having a retro setup is the way to go…?

hdtv_lag_oldsetup

That doesn’t change the fact that I will be picking up more older games via download services like Virtual Console and XBLA than I will old NES cartridges (though, incidentally, I do have the NES hooked up to an even smaller TV in our finished basement). Will the lag be non-existent to me in games I have never played? Will I be able to optimize things better as I go along and learn more about the setup I’ve purchased? Can we just go back to the 1980s, please?

General Thoughts and Updates

So apparently the Master System version of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is available on Virtual Console today.  As you may know, the Genesis/MegaDrive version is one of my favorite games of all time. If I understand correctly, the Master System “port” is a similar game, and has different level designs (but is still overall Sonic 2 just like its older cousin). Convince me on this. I purchased the Mega Drive version of the first Sonic game, and while it was interesting to check out (and a relative bargain at $5), it suffered from a lot of problems that make me not want to revisit it all that much. How about the Master System version of Sonic 2? If I get it, it probably won’t be until the new year (hoping I’ll get some point cards to spend!). I know some foreign folks out there have a very different perspective on the Master System, so I am curious as to what they have to say.

Also, we seem to have solidified our topic for episode six of the podcast. Actually, I’m not sure if Jeff has heard, but everyone else knows! Someone else (new to this show) will be joining us for this particular episode, though it should be a familiar voice for listeners following along from other shows. I am really looking forward to this one! Hopefully we can record it around two weeks from now and get it out by the end of the month.

Looks like I forgot to do a page for the Top 10 list from our last podcast episode (guest appearances). I will get right on that!

Check everyone later~

“Secret of Mana” on Virtual Console

Just because a new podcast episode came out yesterday, it doesn’t mean that I can’t keep writing blog entries! I’m still here for another couple days!

We heard about it hitting the Japanese Virtual Console last month, so we knew it was on its way. That doesn’t change the fact that a SquaresoftEnix game coming out at a budget price via digital distribution rather than a $40 Nintendo DS remake is a strange thing in today’s world.

Seiken Densetsu 2, or Secret of Mana, hit the North American Virtual Console yesterday. I know Jeff will be all over it once he clears out some blocks on his Wii (I’ve got five, he’s got zero!), and Andrew I’m not sure about (probably? but he’s got his SNES hooked up and owns the cartridge…).

If you’ll remember back to our first podcast episode, Andrew and Jeff totally loved the game (as well as Secret of Evermore), but I had actually never played it. I surprised them on the show by having played a good few hours into the game before talking about our mutual top ten games. Some of my complaints were the at-times clumsy hit detection on enemies, your companions getting stuck behind things, and… well, I don’t remember much about what I said. I did recognize the wonderful music and the ingenuity of the “ring system” for the menus.

So what about me? Should I be picking it up on Virtual Console? If I do, I’ll probably wait a few months while I work through my backlog of RPGs on the system (Super Mario RPG, Ys Book I & II, Shining Force II). Does it really deserve another chance, though? What do you all think?

“Shining Force II” Hits Virtual Console

It hit the European Virtual Console last Friday or so, and today we got it for ourselves!

Shining Force II

Shining Force II is a game that I probably shouldn’t have a whole lot of familiarity with. As you probably heard in our first episode (and then on my personal Top 10 list), it was Final Fantasy VII that got me most interested in playing additional RPGs. A few years earlier, though, I dipped my toes into the pool with this game.

I actually didn’t own the game myself, but instead played it on the Sega Channel. I loved the game so much that I refused to save any other games from month-to-month, just in case Shining Force II disappeared for a little while.

(As an explanation, the Sega Channel was basically an on-demand gaming service offered by a couple cable TV providers in the mid 1990s. You rented a device from them, plugged it into the top of your Genesis, and plugged a cable cord into it. They refreshed games every month. There would be about 50 or so, and they would rotate in and out. A game may be there one month, gone the next, and then right back again the following month. However, you could only save one game at a time. If I wanted to play Shining Force II and keep my save indefinitely, I couldn’t save any other game.)

I won’t lie. What I really liked about the game was the cheat code that allowed you to control even the enemies. I couldn’t die. I could just breeze through the story and not worry about ever messing up. At the same time, though, there was a lot to love about the game. Whoever Motoaki Takenouchi is, their score was absolutely top-notch, and remains a favorite to this day (if you pay attention during podcast episodes, you may even see this love at work). From the blaring title screen music to the jazzy town music, it was all over the place in tone but had such a consistent feel to it.

The amount of characters was another thing I simply had never seen before in a game. What really flabbergasted me was using the aforementioned cheat code to also rename every single last character in the game… and then never actually getting around to meeting half of those characters. Holy crap!

The grid-based fighting system was also new to me, and something I still haven’t gotten myself back into ever again (never played any additional strategy/tactical RPGs).

Long story short, you are silly if you do not spend the measely 800 Wii Points to grab the game on Virtual Console. Even though the going price on eBay has come down over the last couple years, $8 is a steal. I can’t wait to re-live my junior high years with this game.

Once I get around to finishing Super Mario RPG, that is. Which I don’t have any time for right now. You know, getting married in two weeks and all.

Regardless of that fact, we have a podcast episode coming for you! That’s right… episode four should be making its way online sometime later this week. Half of it is going to be new material, and half of it is actually going to be recycled material… but only if you happen to have listened to a certain podcast episode on Daizenshuu EX a couple years ago. It’ll all make sense once it comes out!

Cleaning out the fridge, I’m a geek and an otaku, blah blah blah…

So today, Ys I & II came out on the Virtual Console. I’ve always wanted to check out this series, and never bothered to do so (either through emulation, or actually picking up a damn TG-16 / PC Engine). I said to myself, “Self, when you get home from work, download that shiz!

If only it were that easy.

When I downloaded Sonic the Hedgehog and Star Parodier recently, I ran my “blocks” down to the wire. I couldn’t even download most NES games. How in the bloody Hell was I going to download a TG-16 CD game?!

Time to clean out the fridge.

It was a very painful process. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m of the mindset that I absolutely should be able to have access to each and every single damn Virtual Console and WiiWare game that I’ve downloaded at any given time and immediately when I want it. Am I spoiled? Sure. I have no problem admitting that. Is it too much to ask? I don’t think so. Not these days, anyway.

Yes, this is basically just me acting like a broken record. You’ve already read this elsewhere. You’ve already heard this elsewhere. I don’t care. This is my blog, dammit! I get a chance to complain, too!

I’ve actually had plenty of instances where I was about to spend money on Virtual Console games… but I didn’t. Why didn’t I spend the money? Why didn’t I give free money to Nintendo for games that I actually already own in cartridge form sitting right over there? Sitting in the damn original system right above the Wii on the next shelf up (I’m looking at you, Waverace 64)?

I didn’t have the blocks available.

If I’m going to spend money on digital versions of games that I already own working versions of, my stipulation is that I have access to it right away. None of this re-downloading nonsense. None of this transferring to-and-from an SD card nonsense.

I’m not sure why I actually buckled down, caved in, and said “I’ll be a good boy, Reggie!” this evening. Maybe it was the prospect of playing a game that I didn’t already own and had been interested in for years. Maybe it was because I didn’t really mind moving over games like Bonk’s Adventure and Toe Jam and Earl (sorry folks, they’re just not that good). I also had to move over some games that I really didn’t want to move over, though, like Super Castlevania IV.

So now I’m back to having ~20 blocks left. No chance in Hell of being able to get Samurai Showdown II any time soon. And yes, I’m aware that Samurai Showdown Anthology will be coming out state-side at some point this year. It doesn’t change the fact that I have total gaming ADD and would love to be able to just point on over to the best one in the series and play a few quick rounds without getting my lazy ass off the couch.

Sonic the Hedgehog (Sega Master System)

So I have a bunch of Wii points sitting around while I wait for Shining Force II to eventually come to Virtual Console, and I figured I would blow 500 of them on a little game staring a blue hedgehog.

… which is funny, considering I already own nearly all of them either via their original cartridges, or the various compilations that have come out over the years (though Andrew’s got me beat with his Japanese Sonic Jam).

That’s right. I picked up Sonic the Hedgehog for the Sega Master System.

Sonic the Hedgehog (Sega Master System)

Why did I do this? I don’t really know. I guess I just wanted to play it. Sure, I could have easily just loaded it up via an emulator, but since I legally own the whole rest of the bunch, it made more sense to go this route.

While it’s rather terrible, it’s still mostly enjoyable. Part of that enjoyment is seeing and hearing 8-bit representations of Green Hill Zone that I didn’t even know existed. The music is sparse, the enemies are even more sparse, and the slowdown is horrific… but it’s still Sonic running fast from left to right, and gosh darnit, it’s gotta be better than some of the recent games we’ve seen come out for the franchise.

I only made it as far as the second bridge level (that’s all three areas of Green Hill Zone, bridge 1, bonus level, onto bridge 2). I wasted all my lives on Robotnik/Eggman because I was totally not even paying attention to what I was doing.

It’s a cute little game, but it already shows how ready Sega was to sell out the character by creating half-assed ports and conversions that just wouldn’t cut it. Unless you’ve got absolutely nothing else to play, have extra Wii Points, have a measly 20 blocks to spare, and really enjoy the blue guy (basically, that describes me)… it’s probably good to pass, though you might be entertained, none-the-less.

Also picked up Star Parodier… Haven’t played yet…

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