Sega games

[Review] Streets of Rage 2 (Xbox 360)

Recently I reviewed a very cool beat ’em up game, Streets of Rage, played on the Sega Genesis. For two weekends straight following that review, the hubs and I tackled its sequel, Streets of Rage 2; this time, we played the game found on Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection on the Xbox 360.

Axel and Blaze reprise their fighting spirit in the sequel that sees Mr. X, the big cheese in the syndicate, resurface – hell-bent on wrecking more havoc on the city. Along with fellow friends, Max and Skate, they battle against thugs with pipes, jet packs and Lee press-on nails to get to Mr. X in the ultimate showdown.

The game starts in with a funky late 80s-type techno beat à la Inner City’s Big Fun and Snap!’s The Power.  So, while we toe-tap to the cool urban beats, the characters fight off bad guys in backdrops that vary from a back alley, rundown arcade, and somewhere that resembles a Walt Disney World knock-off.

I decided to play Blaze again; the only female character you can play in Streets of Rage 2. Not only has the sequel caused Blaze to lose her MJ Thriller jacket and some of her clothes with it, she has developed a tic where she flings her long hair for no apparent reason (Um, why? Seriously, this is not a rhetorical question…). Thankfully, the one thing about her that I liked in the first game remains here: she still walks and beats up with purpose. The food – apples and whole chickens this time – appear again for characters to fill up their health. Gold bars and bags of money appear behind trash cans and give you extra points.

What is new to the sequel is the ability to make your character do certain moves aside from simply punching and kicking, similar to the button maneuvring of Mortal Kombat. Tripping and rushing the baddies are on the menu. This really steps up the fun factor of the game for me. However, inadvertently beating up your teammate resulting in the depletion of their health also remains in the sequel. There must be moves that you and your teammate can do together as one in the game, but we never took time to figure it out. Instead, it just looked like Blaze and Axel were clinging to each other like they were recreating that scene from last week’s the Young and the Restless. Great if you’re trying to get two characters from Streets of Rage 2 to act like Devon and Hillary…not great when you’re trying to fight off Buffet’s bad breath at the ballpark…

Overall, the fun from the first game continues in Streets of Rage 2 – enough that the hubs and I replayed this game four times to make it to the end! Why four times? The game is tough, even on the easy setting. Yep, it’s a kickass game for sure…It literally kicked our ass four times! I didn’t finish, having lost all my lives, then exhausting my two continues each time we played. The hubs skillfully managed to defeat Mr. X on his own so I was able to see how the story ended. Fun times overall, and I totally recommend it!

8/10

Streets of Rage 2
Sega

[Review] Streets Of Rage (Sega Genesis)

An unnamed city’s heart has turned to black: bad guys and gals with switchblades, whips and fire-breath roam the streets at night to take out their hatred on anyone passing by. City Hall is overrun by a corrupt organization. Garbage and blight make up what was left of this strong and prosperous city.

Three ex-cops, all in their early 20s, are hell-bent on cleaning up the Streets of Rage. They walk the beat with only their jeans, wife-beaters, MJ Thriller jackets and the occasional beer bottle to protect them.  Apples and steak can be found to eat under barrels and crates, increasing health depleted from fighting against the violence. They beat up the baddies, and call in the cops for an occasional backup. And when they choose to fight the leader of the syndicate in the final boss battle instead of joining his posse, they fight alone.

Streets of Rage is a simple 16-bit side scroller beat ’em up game, similar to Golden Axe, a game I played and reviewed in September 2013. Using the three buttons on the Sega Genesis game pad – one button to fight, one to jump, one to call the cops (who arrive in their cruiser to fire a bazooka at the baddies) – it was easy to advance and fight the bad guys. Of course, I am sure the game is much harder if played past easy mode…

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I played as Blaze, the only female character in Streets of Rage. I loved her gait – what might be construed as stiffness, or “a pickle up the pooper” I turned it around as a woman leading with her chest, confident and determined to rid the town of filth. And she did! She kicked some mean butt! The hubs, my partner in playing this game, was Axel, one of the two male characters.

Although the game is a side-scroller, the baddies come from both sides of the screen and are varied. For example, one looks like a joker juggling knives. Another looked like they are mean Ninja Turtles (purple and green outfits). Dominatrices with leather and whips also contribute to the fight club. Then there are the fire-breathing fatsos, which made us both ask, “Do they have bad breath, or…just bad indigestion?” At that, the character you play has varied moves, from punching, to drop-kicking, to kicking in the nuts.

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The scenes of the different levels are unique, ranging from a dark alley, to a ferry, to a lift, and leading down the corridor of a fancy hotel, and for a 16-bit game, they looked great. The music had an upbeat rocky dance music tempo which made me tap my feet and bob my head as I was taking names (thank you very much!).

My only complaint of the game is that if you are playing two player, you can punch out your partner (heehee Oops!).

Streets of Rage has been ported to several game systems, including the Wii, Nintendo DS, Windows and iOS devices. I recommend this game for its fun gameplay!

Streets of Rage
Developer: Sega Genesis
Released: 1991

[Review] House of the Dead: Overkill (PS3)

It seems that ever since the Walking Dead started airing, zombie fanaticism has increased ten-fold, even though zombies have been the subject of countless movies, tv and other media for decades. Like the vampire phenomenon from a couple of years ago, the popularity of zombies has surged, and now we see them everywhere on a daily basis. In fact, I was at Value Village just the other day, and was amazed at all the zombie outfits people were buying for Halloween.

Zombies, the undead, the infected, whatever you wish to call them…have been the subject of video games for a while now, and here’s hoping zombies will continue to be long after the Walking Dead ends (oh, please never end…).

No doubt, there is some real appeal to having zombies in our virtual cross-hairs, and one gaming franchise exemplifies this in a fun and entertaining way – the House of the Dead franchise. My first exposure to it was through a friend of mine who lent me her copy, House of the Dead 2 and 3 for the Wii. I honestly didn’t take a huge liking to it. It was a very unforgiving game to play, especially in co-op. My husband had bought House of the Dead: Overkill for the PS3, and even though I didn’t like its predecessor very much, I accepted his invitation to play the game in co-op, and was pleasantly surprised!

The story tells of this millitary experiment where a serum was made to make superhumans, but the experiment failed. As the story goes, the formula fell into the wrong hands, and now the territory is full of mutants infected by this serum. Meanwhile, a set of detectives, along with a pair of strippers (yep, you read that right) are hell-bent to find those responsible, and kill any mutants that stand in their way before they themselves become infected.

The game itself is considered a rails shooter, where the game basically leads the player along on a pre-determined path, sort of like you were on a ride at Canada’s Wonderland. Each scene is different, and it only allows you to play pre-determined characters in the scene; they switch up depending on the plot, so sooner or later you could eventually play every character if you wanted to. You are given a weapon to use, so as the game leads you into the path of mutants, you can use your controller to shoot ’em up. Of course, the end of each scene has a boss fight where you are fighting some disgusting creature. So much fun!

My husband and I played using the PlayStation Move controllers which I highly recommend. Two-player co-op is a dream – no split screen, and you can shoot up any area of the playing field you want. The game looks great, and sounds even better, with a funky Curtis Mayfield/ Isaac Hayes-sounding soundtrack. The script read by the characters in the game is quite vulgar – a lot of eff bombs – so if you are sensitive to that, you may not like that aspect. Then again, if you are offended by eff bombs, having two scantily-clad exotic dancers packing heat may shock you ahead of the eff bombs (just sayin’…).

House of the Dead: Overkill is so much fun, and I highly recommend it – just in time for Halloween!

House of the Dead: Overkill (PS3)
Publisher: Sega
Released: 2011

[Review] Blades of Vengeance (Sega) – the Shattered Hope of a Broken Game

You begin to play a game you’ve never heard of before. While playing you die trying to get past a certain point, and you figure it’s because you’re not familiar with it. You try again – maybe this time you’ll get through it. You die again. You do this 20 more times. You cannot get past that point. You chalk it up to being a n00b gamer.

Then, someone with more gaming experience comes in and gets stuck at the exact same place. They say, “the game is broken.” They then stoically throw down their controller and walk away, forever ending their time with the game. This was my experience with Blades of Vengeance, a Sega game I played on my Wii emulator.

I had never heard of a game being called “broken” where in playing it, you are not able to advance no matter how hard you tried. But, that is a great name for it. And really, Blades of Vengeance encompasses it.

The game is a platformer where you are tasked with saving the world from a war-lord. In the game, you have the choice of playing three characters: a warrior woman with a sword, a Conan Barbarian-type with an axe, or a sorcerer with a staff. Your goal is to kill everything in your path without getting yourself killed jumping off ledges into fire pits, getting hit with sharp objects or getting attacked by zombie-looking characters.

The game itself held promise for me at the start. The first level had some fun gameplay…that is until I reached a part where a ledge moved over a fiery river of lava. While travelling over, obstacles would appear that you would have to jump over while on this teeny tiny moving platform – but you’d better move fast, or you fall into the lava lake with no chance of escaping death. No action nor weapon will save your hide. You are toast. And the lamest: if you jump off the moving platform onto a solid ledge, better have a death wish ’cause the platform keeps moving away from you never to return. You are stuck! Nowhere to go but jump into the river Stix (or is that ‘Stux’?). Lame!

You think that tiny ledge can fit two people? Think again!

The game accommodates two-player capability as well. But, don’t expect that to help you through this messy game. Instead of trying to fit your sorry self on this tiny platform, you have to fit two people, which does not work. One ends up taking a bath in the hot lava…and dying, while you, on the platform, also eventually fall and die because of the existing problems I outlined above. The game is BROKEN, people!

When I asked my gamer husband if he had ever heard of Blades of Vengeance, he said no. Then when he played it and pronounced the game broken, he then walked away, saying, “I can see why I’ve never heard of this…” Bad games have a way of resurrecting from the dead as good examples of what to avoid. Broken games, however, seem to either fade into the sunset, or in the case of Blades of Vengeance, jump into the fiery drink to evaporate forever. Sometimes that ain’t a bad thing.

Blades of Vengeance
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Released:  1993

[Review] Alisia Dragoon (Sega) is No Dainty Lady and That’s Fine With Me

Alisia Dragoon.

Heard of it? Me neither. It was a total fluke that I loaded this game as I was actually wanting to play After Burner on the Sega Genesis emulator, but it loaded this one instead. That was the best mistake I made this morning – what a fun game.

To start, I think some pop culture feminists ought to point their “lack of female protagonists” fingers at this game already. Alisia Dragoon is a woman, and, along with her dragon companions with various powers, is the one and only character you play. Alisia is out to save the world from doom. With the help of lightening bolts that shoot from her finger tips, you lead her through Mayan-inspired temple mazes, killing bats, flying objects and evil muscle-bound guys with bad orthodontics in her path so she can get to the end bosses and save her world.

She has four dragons she gets to use to her advantage one at a time. They are interchangeable, and each has its own powers. One spits fire, another throws daggers, and so on. You are able to switch them out depending on the situation.

Alisia is no dainty lady. She walks more like a gladiator in a bikini top than a lady going to the beach- appropriate, since I doubt she’s a woman with any interest in doing hair and nails…She has business to take care of.

Speaking of appearances, the cover design of the game has Alisia looking very different than in the actual game. I don’t know why…but this version must make for fun and popular cosplay:

Overall, the game looks great and has peppy music to match. No doubt about it, this game can be a difficult one to play at first (it took me many tries to get past the first level). But, Alisia Dragoon has staying power. It really is a lot of fun and worth checking out.

Alisia Dragoon
Developer: Game Arts / Publisher: Sega
Released: 1992

[Review] Have Golden Axe (Sega Arcade) and String Bikini – Will Fight

I love run n’ gun and hack ‘n slash games – Contra, Streets of Rage…side-scrollers where you and a buddy tag-team, button mash and beat up baddies. Simple, unforgiving, crude, and does not require too much mental capacity – only enough skill to prevent you from dying!  After a long day of work, there is nothing like coming home and playing a good action arcade game.

The other night, the game of choice for my hubs and me was Golden Axe, originally a Sega arcade game, played on the PS3. One word – fun! At least fun enough to blow through the entire game in 25 minutes. Sounds impressive to those who don’t game. But really, there wasn’t much to it – save villagers from wrath of evil dudes, fight said evil dudes by using swords and magic spells; the end. And it is an arcade game; how long are those supposed to last, anyway?

By all appearances, self-proclaimed pop-culture critic Anita Sarkeesian would have a field day with Golden Axe with its choice of characters (if she hasn’t targeted this game already…). It is a stereotypical 1980s arcade game that has only three characters to play; some he-man on steroids, an ugly bearded troll, and the hot, greased up, bikini-clad Amazonian goddess (my character of choice). To that end, I AM a feminist (NOT a feminazi), and thought it was great that this gorgeous, scantily-clad, fake-n-baked babe played among the ugly dudes…and kicked ass like a BAWSE!

Take that! Annnd that!

The game is in 16-bit, so you’re not getting anything pretty. Characters do look a bit blocky, and moving your character around in a boss fight is more like a square dance hoe-down than a fight scene. But Golden Axe is fun, and will jet you back to those crude gaming days when you and your sibling fought over the arcade table at the local pizzeria…

Golden Axe
Developer: Sega
Released: 1989