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Archive for ‘Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection’


Shining Force I & II: The Legacy Of Tactical Awesomeness

Favorite games are like favorite books or movies or anything else—it’s fun to make lists, but the things we enjoy that much aren’t really about hierarchy, and picking a “favorite”—especially when it’s a game that’s more than a few years old—is mostly about the nostalgia of remembering fond, fond hours spent playing through a game from a now-extinct genre. Well, nuts to all that: Shining Force and Shining Force II are two of my favorite games of all time, up high on my mental top-10 list. Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection comes out tomorrow (February 10th!), and contains dozens of classic gems, but it would be worth the price of admission for the two Shining Force games alone.

There have been a total of twenty-one (!) games in the “Shining” series, from 1991’s Shining in the Darkness up through 2007’s Shining Wind and this year’s Shining Force Feather, set for release in Japan. Shining Force 3 was released on three separate discs for the Saturn and there have been a number of remakes & re-releases. The first two Shining Force games, however, perfectly blend RPG and tactical strategy gaming: Shining Force I & II are something like spiritual ancestors to Valkyria Chronicles, only Shining Force unfurls more like the early Final Fantasy games in the way you move around the game world and add members to your team while the story unfolds.

The story for the two games is not what one would call staggeringly original (ultimate evil returned after 1,000 years of exile, powerful enemy leader who is actually a good guy at heart, young swordsman protagonist who must seek out an ancient weapon rumored to be the only thing capable of stopping the evil, etc). But as with any good RPG it’s less the uniqueness of the story than the execution, and I recall these two games having significant pathos in how the stories were told.

The meat of the games, though, was the tactical, turn-based squad combat, and the team-building. I loved the “headquarters” in the two games, where you could freely wander and talk to everyone on your force, and put your group together. The characters are wonderfully designed, too: check out this terrific fan page for a list of all the characters from the first game. Here’s one for Shining Force II, from the same site. Actually, let’s put a link to the main page of this site here because it’s an excellent guide to the game & characters with lots of great fan stuff. There’s other pages like it around too, and a lot of great guides to the game, including information on when to promote your characters: in-game, “promoting” your characters at the right point gives them a special class and access to better spells, and with 30 unique playable characters in each game and a variety of different character classes and abilities, there’s a load of depth to the gameplay & strategy.

There are battles from Shining Force that I still remember playing the first time through: a robotic laser-eye cannon sits on the opposite side of a bridge in one battle and obliterates anyone who gets in the way, so you have to be careful about sending your troops across the bridge and past enemies to disable it. There’s a “chessboard” battle in Shining Force II that’s both incredibly difficult and incredibly fun. Oh–and jeez, I almost forgot–in the first Shining Force there’s a town you visit where everything seems a little . . . off. The townsmen start following you around, saying the same cryptic things over and over again, until eventually you wander into a church . . . and they all follow you in and block the entrance. Then they turn into evil zombies. For a game with such a cartoony look & feel, it’s an unnervingly creepy moment.

I loved the original Shining Force, and Shining Force II was essentially the same formula, only bigger in almost every respect, with a larger game world, far more battles, and a more expansive story with some nice twists and turns along the way. The original carts for this game are actually fairly rare, especially Shining Force II. I paid something like 60 or 70 dollars for it back in the day, one of the rare cases I’ve dropped that much cash for a game and not regretted it at all.

I said in another post that the original Phantasy Star stands up well even today, and someone challenged me on that in a response to the blog–well, they’re partially right, I think: the RPG genre has advanced and changed so much that it’s hard to compare the games from 20 years ago, and even beautiful & elegant RPGs from that era require loads more patience once you’ve played through some of today’s games.

An RPG from 1986 or 1990 is a totally different beast than one from 2005 or 2009, so maybe you can’t even really compare them . . . but, in my opinion, the Shining Force games really do stand up well today, and the battles are still a ton of fun to play through, and the animation and characters still look beautifully designed–and the music, by the way, is still awesome.

To close, I’ll post some of my favorite characters from SF1&2–stay tuned for tomorrow’s post, on a game staring some sort of sneaker-wearing hedgehog or something, which sounds crazy, but who knows, maybe it will work out.

This is Zylo from Shining Force I. Zylo is part-man, part-wolf, and all awesome. You get him fairly early on and he tears through enemies. I have fond memories of the aforementioned laser-gun battle because I plotted very carefully to send Zylo here over the bridge and shred that stupid laser gun into a million pieces. Zylo is your go-to front-line guy for Shining Force 1.

I <3 Gong. A somewhat sketchy feature of Shining Force 1 & 2 is that your healers gain experience whenever they heal–regardless of whether or not the character they’re healing has any damage on them. That means that Gong, who you get very early in Shining Force 1, can gain a great deal of experience just from repeating a battle a few times and healing over and over again. When Gong is promoted to Master Monk, he becomes a kind of Bruce Lee with healing spells.

This is Jogurt, a secret character from Shining Force 1. Jogurt is, um, completely useless. If you’re foolhardy enough to bring him into battle, you will find that he has 1 HP and does 1 damage. However, if you use him to fight, you do get the “Jogurt Ring”, which changes the appearance for anyone who uses it into . . . Jogurt. The only proper word for an army of Jogurts is chilling.

My avatar on the Sega forums! Musashi is named after legendary real-life swordsman Miyamoto Musashi, a warrior from 16th Century Feudal Japan. He joins fairly late in Shining Force 1 but he is the strongest character in the game. A quote attributed to the real life Muashi, according to his wikipedia page: “When I apply the principle of strategy to the ways of different arts and crafts, I no longer have need for a teacher in any domain.” In Shining Force though, his main role is vivisecting bad guys.

This is Peter, a phoenix. He follows you around for a while in Shining Force 2, and eventually becomes a full member of your party. Peter’s only real downfall is that he is ugly as sin. In his pre-premotion form (seen above), he looks like a fat, ugly turkey. After you promote him he looks like a skinny, ugly peacock. However: Peter is easily the most powerful character in the game, and he automatically resurrects if he’s killed in combat.

Okay, while not technically a character, the Running Pimento makes good characters into awesome characters. This item boosts your characters movement rate. Just make sure to wait till after a character is promoted to use it–all character upgrades are reset after promotion! The item is worth hanging onto: it turns a character like Peter who already has good range, into a freakish death-dealing machine, and it can make characters like Zync or Claude, who have abysmal movement rates, into competent death-dealing machines.



New York Comic Con Links & Tweets

Reviews, interviews, and tweets from New York Comic Con are rolling in. Here’s what we’ve found so far:

G4 loves Madworld, calling it “tight” and “a piece of black-and-white art”. 

Nintendo World Report tweets that the SEGA booth is the booth of the show. 

Gaming Bits posts their interview with Madworld’s Producer and Director. 

Article Dan calls Madworld an “ultra-violent graphic horror-fest like none other”.

Twitter user Sickr hears that our presence at NY Comic Con is “unprecedented”. 

1UP catches some photos of the SEGA booth (photos 5-7).  

And one non-NYCC related link — PS3 Attitude is auctioning off a SEGA Mega Drive Ultimate Collection vinyl album, but not just any album. It’s #0001 in the series, with all proceeds going to benefit the Cancer Council of Australia. Hurry! Only one day left to bid.   

Found an article, review, tweet, etc about SEGA or SEGA’s games? Send us the link and we might put it on the blog or our Twitter feed! Leave it in the comments or send it to us via reply or DM on Twitter


Dear Streets of Rage – I Love You

There are a couple games that I will buy and re-buy no matter where it decides to pop up, past present, or future. Streets of Rage 2 is easily one of these games and is now available on Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection. So naturally I secured a copy and have been playing it to death all over again. And while I already own the game on Xbox Live Arcade, but this version comes with the added bonus of Streets of Rage 1 and 3.

If you haven’t played Streets of Rage, you owe it to yourself to pick this collection up for version 2 alone. This is a true SEGA classic franchise is well overdue for another sequel (I got your back Streets fans; I’ll see what I can do). All versions are based on a simple concept – booting some head in a side scrolling environment. The real fun comes in the finesse of the moves and each character’s individual play style.

Each character is pretty distinct, even across all three games. I’ve always gravitated to Skate, who appears in version 2 and 3. He’s fast and hits quickly with a wide variety of grapples and attacks. He doesn’t do the most damage, but he will surprise you with a barrage of attacks from the back of the head if you aren’t careful. Other characters feature a balance of key stats, including speed, power, and technique. All characters offer a nice pace when slugging through the excellent soundtrack.

Wait, did he just say soundtrack? Well, tastes may vary, but I strongly feel that Streets of Rage 2 is one of the best techno albums of the 90s – It’s just that good. And playing the game all over again had me toe-tapping my way to each face punch, groin kick, and punishing special attack. As a nice bonus, the Ultimate Genesis Collection release features an option to listen to all level tracks through the options menu, should you choose to.

Streets of Rage is by far my favorite game to appear in this collection, I can’t wait for others to enjoy it this Tuesday.


Retro Champion: Unlockable Content for Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection

In yesterday’s post about the Achievements and Trophies available in Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection, I waxed somewhat philosophical on the nature of “achievements” for classic games. It should be mentioned, however, that in Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection, pursuing these achievements has a very practical purpose—doing so will unlock a slew of cool content.

Bonus content includes some terrific interviews with members of Sonic Team, which if you’re a gaming history buff (or just a Sega buff) are a delight to watch. There’s an interview with Phantasy Star Universe producer Takao Miyoshi that you get to watch just for starting up Phantasy Star IV. Grabbing a Chaos Emerald in Sonic the Hedgehog gives you the achievement/trophy “Complete Chaos”, and also unlocks the interview with game developer Shun Nakamura, who has some interesting insights into Sonic the Hedgehog design philosophy.

The real meat of the unlockables, though, are the bonus games. Already revealed on a number of sites, these games include:

Golden Axe Warrior (SEGA Master System)
Phantasy Star (SEGA Master System)
Alien Syndrome (Arcade)
Altered Beast (Arcade)
Congo Bongo (Arcade)
Fantasy Zone (Arcade)
Shinobi (Arcade)
Space Harrier (Arcade)
Zaxxon (Arcade)

What’s nice is that the list of unlockable games is accessible from the start menu, and includes the method to open each, so if you’re dead set on playing Alien Syndrome (the arcade version!), you can get right to work on getting to stage 3 of Alien Storm without losing a life.

I really like this list—the original Phantasy Star could go toe-to-toe with any classic RPG, and stands up well even today. The openness of the world, the character design, and the setting all resonate quite nicely. You earn the original Phantasy Star in a clever way—by beating Robotnik in Green Hill Zone in Sonic 2—but with two players. That means a second controller has to be plugged in, and someone needs to have Tails bouncing around doing his Tails thing during the boss-fight (in Sonic 2, Tails’ thing is collecting stray rings for Sonic, and not messing up on the bonus stages). It’s a nice connection between two incredible legacy Sonic Team products.

Shinobi on the Master System was one of my favorite games growing up, and seeing the Arcade version, which even today has some gorgeous graphics, is a blast. Also, be warned: The arcade version of Shinobi is much harder than the Master System version—mostly, because you don’t have a health bar to play around with—you will need to master the art of Ninjitsu and avoid getting hit at all.

The unlockable content is just a wealth of Arcade history—Space Harrier and Fantasy Zone are some of the most psychedelic games ever made, and Altered Beast is a truly savage beat-em-up. It also lets you transform from a nearly naked Greek soldier resurrected from the grave into a muscle-bound lycanthrope, so, you know, it has that going for it.

Stay tuned, over the next few days I’m going to take a look at some of the original Genesis versions of the games offered in this collection—including Shining Force! Also, Clumsyorchid won our thumb-wrestling tournament and so he gets to blog about Streets of Rage. I should have challenged him to a SoR2 tournament, is what I should have done.



Retro Champion: Achievements and Trophies for Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection

Stubborn and rooted in my Old Ways as I am, I recall being moderately offended when XBox first unveiled their Achievements system a few years ago. The strange, obsessive things I always tried to do in games (like make it as far as I could through Streets of Rage 2 without taking damage—which, by the way, requires absolute mastery of Axel’s uppercut technique) seemed like a mark of pride: there are certain things gamers did because they love their games, not because they wanted to be rewarded.

Like a tantalizing piece of moist, delicious cake left on the counter, however, Gamers will not refuse a reward—particularly if it’s something that proves their dominance over other Gamers. I can’t say I’m any different, and if you present me with a list of difficult things to do in a game I enjoy, I will exhaust myself doing it.

Achievements and Trophies are a built-in part of any console game today, so why even raise the topic? Well, as classic games are re-archived and brought out for the new systems, there’s an interesting opportunity—to turn obsessive pleasures (and frustrations) from our youth into shiny Trophies and Achievements. Who am I to resist?

To wit: The Achievements/Trophies have been released for Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection, which is due to hit stores on February 10th. The complete list is at the end of the post here.

Many of the achievements are reminders of what’s fun about these games in the first place: Talking to another dolphin in Ecco the Dolphin, for example, earns you “Communication is Key”. Ecco was one of those games that seemed otherworldly the first time I played it; gorgeous and eerie in a way that games are seldom allowed to be. Using sonar to get cryptic floating messages from your podmates was a part of this, and it does bring a smile to see that small act rewarded. Less connected to the eerie beauty of Ecco: an achievement/trophy that’s earned for eating 200 fish (“Tastes Like Tuna”). Now we’re talking!

Kill it with fire! For fun and profit. And trophies and achievements.Is there anybody out there...?

Lastly: There is also a Golden Axe achievement for collecting 20 blue potions. In the Golden Axe games, one does not simply find potions lying around on the ground—one must take them from the gnomes who carry them. As I covered in a previous post, beating up gnomes and stealing their treasure is awesome.

I applaud the sensible game design that creates an official structure to acknowledge this noble pastime.


P.S. : Check back tomorrow for a look at the unlockable games and features available in Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection!

'Hold still, yah daft wee gnomey, so I can thump yah with mah mighty axe!'

Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection: Achievements & Trophies

Get Rich:Alex Kidd: Collect 1,000 in currency
Don’t Die: Alien Storm: Reach Mission 3 without losing a life
Enter the Beast: Altered Beast: Collect 100,000 pts or higher by the end of the first level
Holy Water: Beyond Oasis: Unlock the Water Spirit
Stealing Points: Bonanza Brothers: Reach 40,000 points on the first level
Easy as Pie: Columns: Get 20,000 points only on Easy Mode
Hardly a Hero: Comix Zone: Complete first episode
Get Ahead: Decap Attack: Collect 5 Bonus Coins
Communication is Key: Ecco: Talk to another dolphin
Taste Like Tuna: Ecco: The Tides of Time: Eat 200 fish
Suit up: E-SWAT: Obtain the Combat Suit (Complete Mission 2)
Don’t Get Lost: Fatal Labyrinth: Progress to the fifth level of the labyrinth
Getting Chicks: Flicky: Collect 80,000 points
Garden Gnomes: Golden Axe: Collect 20 magic power-ups
Tower Up: Golden Axe II: Complete Tower Level
Saved by Magic: Golden Axe III: Use magic 10 times
TGIF: Kid Chameleon: Collect Maniaxe
Twinkle Twinkle: Ristar: Collect 5 Yellow Stars
Yatta!: Dr. Robotnik’s M.B.M.: Complete the game
True Ninja Skills: Shinobi III: Complete first level without using continues
Complete Chaos: Sonic The Hedgehog: Obtain a Chaos Emerald
A Different Tail: Sonic 3: Collect 100 rings with Tails anywhere on Angel Island Zone
Flicky to the Rescue: Sonic 3D Blast: Rescue 20 Flickies.
Lots of Zeros: Sonic Spinball: Get 10,000,000 points in the first level
Get to the Chopper: Super Thunder Blade: Score over 1,500,000 points in the first level
Three Times a Charm: Streets of Rage: Complete 1st Level using all 3 characters
Good Day Mate: Streets of Rage 3: Unlock Roo the Kangaroo as a playable character
Super Charged: VectorMan: Collect 500 photons
Can You Dig It?: VectorMan 2: Reach Scene 11
Blast Processing: Play all Genesis Titles
Master the System: Unlock Everything
No Life: Watch Every Video
Critique: View all Artwork
Only in the ’80s: Play all Arcade Titles


Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection: 9 Unlockable Games and New Screenshots

Today we announced 9 unlockable games for the upcoming Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection, will will be available February 10th, 2009. The unlockable games are:

Golden Axe Warrior (SEGA Master System)

Phantasy Star (SEGA Master System)

Alien Syndrome (Arcade)

Altered Beast (Arcade)

Congo Bongo (Arcade)

Fantasy Zone (Arcade)

Shinobi (Arcade)

Space Harrier (Arcade)

Zaxxon (Arcade)

We also released over 40 new screenshots. Check out our Flickr Slideshow to see them all!


New Sonic Unleashed Video — Night/Day

We’ve released another Sonic Unleashed video today, called Night/Day.

YouTube Preview Image

New Screenshots & Cover Art for Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection

We’ve just released 5 screenshots from Altered Beast (one of the many games in Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection) as well as the US cover art for the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions of the game.

[Read More]


Every Old-school SEGA game you ever wanted.

Ask any SEGA fan what they consider to be the best of SEGA, and many will answer with the golden memories from their childhood – days spent getting all six chaos emeralds in the original Sonic the Hedgehog, beating the final boss with their best friend in Golden Axe, or exploring the overworld of Phantasy Star – the list could go on forever, but for many of us, they represent the glory days of the SEGA Genesis.

So, all you old-school fans will probably be just as excited as I was after hearing: SEGA has just announced Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection, a new 360 and PS3 collection that offers more SEGA games on a single disc than any other title in SEGA history. The collection will include:

40+ Classic Sega Games

– Improved Graphics and HD Support

– Multiplayer

And the full list of games: (Brace yourselves)

Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle
Alien Storm
Altered Beast
Beyond Oasis
Bonanza Bros.
Comix Zone
Decap Attack starring Chuck D. Head
Dr. Robotnik’s MBM
Dynamite Headdy
Ecco the Dolphin
Ecco II: The Tides of Time
Fatal Labyrinth
Gain Ground
Golden Axe I
Golden Axe II
Golden Axe III
Kid Chameleon
Phantasy Star II
Phantasy Star III: Generations of Doom
Phantasy Star IV: The End of the Millennium
Shining in the Darkness
Shining Force
Shining Force 2
Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master
Sonic the Hedgehog
Sonic the Hedgehog 2
Sonic the Hedgehog 3
Sonic and Knuckles
Sonic 3D Blast
Sonic Spinball
Streets of Rage
Streets of Rage 2
Streets of Rage 3
Super Thunder Blade
Vectorman 2

Once you have composed yourself enough to stop drooling, the SEGA community team wants to know – Which of the games on this list are your favorites?

Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection hits stores this Spring – Until then, it’s time to bust out the old Genesis and practice up…