Thursday May 03, 2012
Out now for Virtual Console, the revolutionary arcade racer Super Hang-On — and coming out this May 10th, two entries from the classic Wonder Boy franchise: Wonder Boy in Monster Land, and, for the first time ever outside of Japan, Monster World IV!
All three games are available for 900 Nintendo Points.
Based on the hit arcade racer originally released in 1987, Super Hang-On will put your street bike skills to the test. Tour through 48 challenging tracks set across four continents and explore the rush of true arcade gameplay as you blaze through checkpoints in a race to beat the clock and your competitors.
Wonder Boy in Monster Land
The once beautiful kingdom has been thrown into chaos by a ferocious, fire-breathing dragon and his monstrous henchmen whose aim is to create their own Monster Land. Unable to defend themselves from the onslaught, the people cry out for a hero to save them! As Wonder Boy, set out on an incredible journey across different environments and dungeons, collect powerful weapons and spells, and rid the land of evil!
Monster World IV
For the first time outside of Japan, experience the final chapter in the classic Monster World series! As Asha, a young adventurer, set forth into Monster World and defeat evil alongside your amorphous pet Pepe and magical Genie in order to save the troubled Elemental Spirits!
Gaming history buffs, take note — along with the original Phantasy Star, this is one of the first games to feature a female protagonist.
Tuesday Sep 27, 2011
If you own a Nintendo Wii and you’re at all a fan of fast-paced, old-school arcade action, take note! This is your last chance to pick up R-Type: the game is being removed from the Virtual Console store this September 30th.
A faithful port of the SEGA Master System version, R-Type was a revelation: this game was a paragon of old-school arcade difficulty, it helped define a generation of side-scrolling ship-based shooters, and I am happy to say that it is still dazzling how good these graphics looked on those eight little bits of the Master System.
The scale of the bosses still stands out, as you fight monsters that take up the entire screen (and more). One of the most compelling features of the game is the deep on-the-fly upgrade system for your ship — your ship can acquire a number of offensive and defensive abilities, and knowing how and win these will help you is just as important as your skill at piloting your ship. The sheer skill required for this game keeps it relevant, while the bright, colorful graphics keep it looking good.
I’m happy to talk up this game — it is an entrenched part of my childhood, and this is now your last chance to grab it on the Virtual Console. To put it another (slightly cheesy, but very relevant) way, you’re on your last life for this game — if you haven’t already, grab this great arcade-style hit before it runs out of continues!
Thursday May 12, 2011
SEGA is proud to announce that the next edition of our Vintage Collection series is headed here in late 2011 and early 2012, to PlayStation Network and Nintendo Wii Virtual Console! This collection features favorites from the Wonder Boy series as well as some other gems from that era, including the heritage of titles produced by legendary designer Yu Suzuki.
The biggest news of this bundle is that we are releasing a fully localized version of Wonder Boy in Monster World IV, which has never had a previous release in the West – it has previously appeared only in Japan.
Here’s everything that’s on the way:
Monster World IV (Genesis/Mega Drive)
We did our best to pick the highest quality version of each of these, which is why you’re seeing different platforms represented. The Master System version of Alex Kidd – one of the original mascots of SEGA and something of a proto-Sonic – is one of the best games to come out on that platform, and had a terrific combination of speed, wit, and surprisingly challenging platforming.
And again, it’s Monster World IV that’s the biggest news, since that’s actually a new entry to the West. It is the last entry in the series, and is notable in that it was one of the few games from the era to feature a female protagonist.
I’m also thrilled to see Super Hang-On in this collection: One of the first SEGA games I ever played was the version of Hang-On that was on the Master System, and this is a Yu Suzuki title. The original Hang-On was one of the first games developed by Yu Suzuki, and this was the natural progression of that breakthrough title.
These games are the reason I became a fan of SEGA and of video games in the first place. They’re wrapped up in what makes SEGA unique and built into this company’s history in the arcades and with home consoles – I’m proud and excited to be able to talk about them here. Stay tuned for more news and information!
Monday Apr 12, 2010
From the far back reaches of arcade history — 1982, to be exact — Zaxxon has come to the Nintendo Wii Virtual Console!
Now, it should be said: games have changed. That much is pretty easy to agree with. A lot of the classic stuff I get to write about, I remember from growing up with it; as a kid I learned their sometimes maddeningly difficult rhythms for the sake of the experience or even just the challenge. I also stuck with games that had obtuse and protracted systems of leveling up just because the games themselves were so immersive, unique, and awesome that the fun outweighed the insane number of hours it took to master — come to think of it, the fun always was the insane time you had to spend to master a game.
But even 1987 (the year both the first Phantasy Star and R-Type were released) was a far different time than 1982, in terms of gaming technology & design. Witness Zaxxon, one of the quarter-hungry beasts originally brought to life as an arcade game before being brought to (among others) various Atari consoles, Commodore-64, and ColecoVision (the first console with enough power to replicate the isometric graphics of the arcade version). It also made its way to the SG-1000, and is one of the few games that appeared on that system which SEGA has re-released (the others are Wonder Boy and, as an unlockable for Ultimate Genesis Collection, the incomparably weird Flicky).
The game even has the distinction of having been ported to the SEGA Master System — as a 3-D game, in 1987. It is worth noting that the 3-D glasses for the Master System were one of the most awesome fashion statements a happening 80s kid could make:
So I’ve been trying my hand at the original Zaxxon, and after dying many, many times while playing, I can offer at least one essential piece of advice. One of the most difficult things about the game is figuring out what height your ship is flying at; the best way to gauge this is to make sure you are constantly shooting your laser weapon. Use the impact of the laser as a guide for what height you’re at — this is crucial for guiding yourself through the tiny gaps between walls and lasers in certain parts.
Now, it’s hard to say in good conscience that Zaxxon has gameplay that “stands the test of time” — it is insanely difficult and idiosyncratic. Either that, or I am very, very bad at it. At the same time, however, there is something undeniably compelling about this game — as there is with Frogger or similar games with a single repeating level and escalating difficulty: playing this game in my cubical here at work, both our Associate Web Producer and our Associate Digital Brand Manager (who regaled us with stories of his prowess at Xenon II) came by to try their hand at the game. It attracted all kinds of attention from random passersby, and Ruby Eclipse stopped by my cubical between meetings to offer some advice, yelling “Don’t crash!” repeatedly while I crashed repeatedly.
It has that kind of old-old-school fun to it. Deeper than this, though, is the pure challenge of honing a very difficult set of skills. It used to be that your ability with a game was measured by exactly two things: how far you could get without dying, and what your highest score was (your score, above all else, is what mattered). We expect modern games to have discreet endings but they don’t require “skill” in the same way; you are expected to beat them. Not that this is bad, but Zaxxon is a reminder that video games used to be a test of something else: the idea that you were refining and honing a difficult set of skills, and that with just one quarter you could play forever.
Tuesday Jan 19, 2010
Continuing the esteemed ninja legacy of Shinobi, the side-scrolling Genesis classic Shadow Dancer is now available on the Nintendo Wii Virtual Console! First released in the arcade as a sequel to the original Shinobi in 1989, Shadow Dancer made its way as a high-quality port to the Genesis in 1991.
The game takes the same style as the previous Shinobi and adds a new wrinkle, an attack dog who follows the player and can be commanded to attack and distract enemies. This ends up being a fairly clever mechanic, and adds a layer of strategy, along with the mainstay Shinobi weapons of throwing stars, Ninjato sword, and magic spells. The other hallmark of the Shinobi series is here as well — the easy-to-jump-in-and-play feel of being a deadly ninja, combined with a ferociously difficult gameplay that demands careful attention to enemy attack patterns, and steely ninja wits.
It’s a pleasure to see some of these Genesis gems, and in particular to find out that 16 bits could crank out some very excellent backgrounds and scenery, combined with the unique, dark, look & feel of the Shinobi series. Also, the Genesis version may actually have a leg up on the Arcade version, at least for playing at home — while the arcade version was designed to eat your quarters with its insane difficulty, the difficulty of the Genesis version, while still extremely high, is more balanced around actually playing a game at home, where you want to have the time to learn & master its nuances.
Shinobi is one of the longest running SEGA characters, and Shadow Dancer is one of the most unique entries in the series; check out this game on the Wii Virtual Console!
Tuesday Jan 12, 2010
Here’s something different — a classic puzzle game from the SEGA Genesis, “Shanghai II: Dragons Eye,” the addictive & challenging “tile” game based on the incredibly popular Mahjong Solitaire software title. This isn’t a “retro” title in the way a lot of Virtual Console releases are — this is a straight-up puzzle game, with all the obsessiveness that entails.
I remember playing this game years ago–at its core, it is a simple matching game, where you pick matching tiles and eliminate them from the arrangement in order to uncover the tiles beneath. The strategy is in picking which tiles to eliminate when, since picking the “easy” or “obvious” tiles from only the top will often not reveal enough of those beneath, ending the game prematurely. The goal is, simply, to uncover all the tiles, and there are various options this Genesis game lets you switch on, including using different tile sets and time/challenge modes.
The decorative tiles the game uses come from the popular–and ancient–East Asian game of Mahjong, apocryphally said to have been invented by Confucius in 500 BC (!). Mahjong Solitaire–and the “Shanghai” and “Shanghai II” games–has a considerably less ancient lineage, although by computing standards it is still ancient–Mahjong Solitaire was first developed for the computer in 1981. The game’s developer claims the game came from a centuries old childrens’ game based on the Mahjong tiles–regardless of the game’s origins, though, it’s a fun & surprisingly engrossing game. Definitely worth a look on the Nintendo Wii!
Thursday Dec 24, 2009
Happy Holidays, from SEGA!
The SEGA Mega Sale is now on! Check our our promotional page with a full listing of discounted games.
The price drop clocks in at 40% — from 800 Wii Points down to 500 Wii Points, and lasts from December 24th until January 6th.
This is as exciting a group of Virtual Console games as I could imagine. Take a look at this quick community retrospective on the titles being offered:
Sonic The Hedgehog: Perhaps you may have heard of Sonic the Hedgehog? If you haven’t played the original in some time, it’s always awesome to revisit the game that started it all and more or less made the Genesis — and the bright graphics and exquisite level design of the original game still hold up today. Now you can snag it on the Wii for a bargain-basement price!
Sonic The Hedgehog 2: Faster, bigger and the game that introduced Super Sonic! The first time I ever collected all the Chaos Emeralds — this was before the internet told everyone what was coming in every game — I had no idea what to expect. The transformation of Sonic into Supersonic, flying around the screen in an invincible glowing-golden blur as the music sped up and the badniks withered before your awesomeness, represents, to this day, probably the best reward-to-work payoff of any video game I’ve ever played. Like seeing the Grand Canyon or the Great Wall of China, collecting all the Chaos Emeralds in Sonic 2 should be on everyone’s lifetime checklist. Also, check here for Clumsyorchid’s nostalgic retrospective on playing Sonic 2!
Sonic The Hedgehog 3: The first part of the sprawling Sonic & Knuckles adventure, Sonic 3 expanded wonderfully on the first two games, and introduced different kinds of shield spheres for increased strategy, and the graphically impressive “Blue Sphere” bonus stage which took place on a revolving 3D planetscape. In my opinion, this was also the most difficult of the original Sonic games (along with its companion game, Sonic & Knuckles), with highly imaginative and well-executed levels — a perfect challenge for old school Sonic fans!
Gunstar Heroes: Quite possibly one of the best looking games on the Genesis system, Gunstar Heroes is an exemplar of the best that 16 bits was capable of. Killer, incredibly fluid animation with creative weapons and an ultra-fast combat style make this one of the premier side-scrolling shoot-em-ups of the 1990s. Check out the piece in our own blog for more on this game!
Toe Jam & Earl: Yes! The original TJ&E is one of the most eclectic and unique titles to grace the Genesis. Featuring a well-implemented 3/4 scale view and a combination of wacky action and adventure/puzzle gameplay, ToeJam & Earl has a unique SEGA feel to it. It’s not an easy game to categorize — something like an action/adventure dungeon crawl in a funky space setting, with loads of tongue-in-cheek humor. Also worth noting — this is one of the rare games that’s worth picking up for the music alone. Most of all, we need the funk!
Puyo Puyo 2: An infectious, addictive puzzle game classic. Everything about this game, from the Columns/Tetris inspired gameplay to the animation of the little globular puzzle pieces, to the sound effects and music, is compelling and addictive. Did I say addictive? Addictive. Now at a reduced price!
Shining Force: Even with all the Sonic games on this last, this is my favorite of the bunch. It’s also one of my favorite games, period. In a fit of nostalgic love I titled my blog article on the Shining Force games “the legacy of tactical aweomeness”, after the subtitle of one of the original SF games. The strategy and squad-building in this game is dead-on perfect, and it is absolutely a spiritual ancestor to Valkyria Chronicles. I can’t say enough good things about this game: it’s one of the few games that, if you still have your Genesis, is worth the exorbitant fees people charge for the original cart. Thankfully you can pick it up now for this insanely low price, for your Nintendo Wii!
Golden Axe: The Genesis version — a truly spectacular port of one of the ultimate “must play” arcade games from my youth. The dark fantasy setting, dragon riding, and of course, gnome punting are all exquisitely done. These were some of the best graphics to show up on the Genesis — a terrific discount pickup for the Virtual Console! Check out my previous blog on the game, where I get to wax nostalgic about its many axe & gnome-related features.
Altered Beast: This side-scroller should hold a special place in the hearts of all Genesis fans for being the original game that was boxed with the system, and the game who’s dazzling 16-bit graphics and big sprites helped sell the 16-bit revolution. Read more in my original blog post on the game!
Streets Of Rage 2: Ahh. Did I say that Shining Force was my favorite game on this list? Well, I suppose it is, but it doesn’t get much better than Streets of Rage 2. There were a lot of excellent side-scrolling beat-em-up games from the 80s and 90s: Final Fight and, of course, Double Dragon come to mind, but I think I can safely say that Streets of Rage 2 was the best of the bunch. Just about everything in this game was perfect — a variety of difficulty levels made the game easy and fun or else incredibly challenging. The different fighters felt incredibly unique, and the music was some of the most awesome techno/electronic music to show up in games in the 1990s. But don’t take my word for it: Check here for Clumsyorchid’s blog, which confirms how awesome the game was. Oh, also, although it’s rarely listed as a feature for the game, it should be: In Streets of Rage 2, you can knock bad guys off of motorcycles with a jump kick. This alone is worth the price, and at a 40% discount, how can you say no?
Tuesday Dec 22, 2009
Listen up Sega Mega Fans, we have an incredible holiday deal for those of you among us with a Wii. For a limited time only grab our best selling Virtual Console titles for 40% off! That means instead of paying the usual 800 Wii Points, you’ll be able to take home some of our most cherished Sega Genesis games for the low low price of 500 Wii Points. Start saving on December 24th, but don’t wait too long – this awesome deal ends January 6th 2010. Scroll down to see the games offered at this discount!
Take your pick from Sega’s holiday sample platter – double dipping is highly encouraged:
• Sonic The Hedgehog
Friday Nov 13, 2009
One of the best games from a flagship series for the SEGA Master System, Wonder Boy III: The Dragon’s Trap is now available for Nintendo Wii’s Virtual Console.
Few games epitomize what the Master System did well as much as the Wonder Boy series: a combination of colorful graphics, terrific animation, action-packed platforming, and clever game mechanics, Wonder Boy games combined both action and RPG elements in unique ways.
Wonder Boy III was the last of the series to come out on the Master System, and was released in 1989 (the first Wonder Boy came out way back in 1986, and was even released on the Master System’s predecessor, the SG-1000 ). The story for Wonder Boy III continues directly where the previous game left off — having defeated the final dragon boss and still equipped with full armor & weapon upgrades. Cursed by the final boss, however, Wonder Boy loses his gear and is turned into a dragon himself. Defeating other bosses turns Wonder Boy into a variety of other forms, including a Lizard Man that shoots flame, a Piranha Man for underwater stages, a Hawk Man for aerial assaults, and even a Mouse Man that enables the player to get into otherwise inaccessible areas.
Aside from combining the many unique styles of game play for each different form, Wonder Boy III lets you roam freely around the game world, puzzling out where you need to go next based on the strengths and weaknesses of your current “cursed” form. Additionally, the elements of the previous Wonder Boy games are here — you collect coins and buy upgraded equipment and items from shops scattered around the game world.
The music, like so much from the SEGA Master System, is charming and infectious, and the game has particularly fine graphics, with the sorts of bright colors and fluid animation the 8-Bit workhorse of a system excelled at. Like the Alex Kidd series, there is something about Wonder Boy that makes it undeniably a SEGA game, and there’s something quirky and compelling about the way the different game mechanics all come together. If you’re at all curious about SEGA’s early console history & unique classic games, Wonder Boy III is a terrific game to check out.
Monday Nov 02, 2009
Available now for Nintendo Wii’s Virtual Console: the Sega Master System version of the arcade classic space shooter, R-Type!
R-Type was a revelation in arcades when it came out in 1987, a brutally difficult side-scrolling shooter with fantastic graphics and incredibly creative monster & level designs. If you’re any kind of console history buff, the fact that this game was ported to the Sega Master System is worth noting: like the Master System version of Golden Axe, R-Type pushed the limits of what 8 bits could do, and showed off the surprising color & sound of SEGA’s first flagship console.
As a side-scrolling shooter, R-Type does pretty much everything right. You can power up your ship repeatedly with a wide variety of weapons, making for lots of exciting on-the-fly strategizing amidst storms of alien firepower. More than almost anything else, though, it’s the boss fights that stand out — eye-popping full-screen monsters that look like something out of an H.R. Giger painting:
The other thing to note about R-Type is it’s relentless difficulty. Ranking at number 7 in an IGN list of toughest games to beat, R-Type was from the old school of Difficulty in Videogames: you learned by dying, over and over. Are games today too easy on gamers? That’s debatable, but certainly games like R-Type are evidence that gamers used to be made of sterner stuff: In my day, we died 20 times on the first boss battle just to learn his weak point. And we LIKED it.
There are a few things that make this relentless difficulty so endearingly fun. First, it’s accompanied by extremely smooth gameplay & the aforementioned eye-candy graphics. Second, eking your way through a shooter this difficult offers a genuine sense of accomplishment for finishing every stage — not to mention the entire game. The game does give you ample lives & continues to hone your techniques, so it really does feel like it’s up to you & your retro gaming skills to get through it all.
Also worth noting: this Sega Master System version actually contains an extra, secret level that isn’t available on any other version of the game. It is, frankly, astonishing that the arcade game was ported so well to the Master System, not to mention that a whole extra level was crammed in with it. Games like this are a big part of the reason I have such a strong lingering affection for the Master System, and it’s been terrific to see these classics showing up & getting some much-deserved love (even if it’s at the cost of hundreds of quarters worth of lives).
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