Review: SEGA AGES Space Harrier (Switch)

space harrier switch

Welcome to the Fantasy Zone. GET READY!

Hell, even if I were to think I was born ready for it, back in 1985 seeing and playing Sega’s Space Harrier for the first time in an arcade was a total and unexpected blast. Granted, it wasn’t my first psuedo-3D sprite-based shooter (Willams’ still phenomenal BLASTER was an instant fave for me two years earlier), but Yu Suzuki’s even more instant classic made for a more lasting impression thanks to its more superbly detailed visuals, rock-solid 60fps gameplay and yes, a somewhat crushing difficulty level for beginners. Watching someone play any of the three cabinet version was thrilling enough. But as a player, if you lucked out and got one of the sit-down versions with that big flight stick and body-shaking tilt feature, it was pure gaming bliss that left you maybe a bit wobbly after a few too many replays. Ah, memories!

Still, Suzuki’s game was perhaps too well made, just like his other supremely reliable arcade hits some take for granted these days. This is a game that is flawless in execution, but might be seen by the more jaded gamers out there as “repetitive” because they don’t see the beauty past the lightning fast speed and brilliant use of color. Ever busy developer M2 has done another outstanding job in porting the game to Switch for the ongoing SEGA AGES project ($7.99 per title) in both its original form with a new stage select, optional visual filter and control additions and a new version of the game called KOMAINU Barrier Attack that adds infinite continues and two small stone lion statues to aid Harrier in his quest.

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Screenshots really don’t do this game any justice. Some heads will roll for that.

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Phantom Gear Funded: Mega Cat’s Got The Magic Touch, Again

Phantom Gear logo

Mega Cat, on a roll with mustard.

Phantom Gear is officially a physical and digital reality on the “it’s funded!” front and that’s a great thing. Excellent, in fact and yes, I dropped some coins into this particular fountain not long after finding out the game was going the crowdfund route. It’s always great to see, read about and eventually get the chance to play new retro games, especially from a company so devoted to producing some mighty fine ones. The game has indeed made its Kickstarter target, but you can still contribute to its success here.

Now, if only I had a few spare thousand bucks to drop on everything Mega Cat makes so I can add it all to the library, I’d be an even happier camper.

-GW

Skybound Games Has Me Talking to Myself (Again)

“And it goes like this.”

Me: Uh, hey, man.
Me: What?
Me: I need $200. Plus shipping, I think.
Me: For what?
Me: This (look down):

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Me: HOLY $#!+!
Me: Well, SOLD, huh?
Me: Um, hold on a sec.
Me: Awwwww, come onnnn…
Me: Look, we made a deal, remember? We’ve no more room for those big collector’s editions. That, and we DO have a big backlog of other games…
Me: (pouts, gives me the sad puppy dog eyes)..
Me: Oh, that’s SO not going to work, pal. We’re also on a budget, remember?
Me: Well. you COULD sell off some of those older games you aren’t playing like you did that one time…
Me: Yeah, right. That was kind of an emergency and this, well… it’s really damn cool and all, but it’s not super-urgent.
Me: Booooooo!
Me: Okay, knock it off. I need to get a post up and get back to those other reviews in progress.
Me: Bill
Me: Oh, don’t get cranky with me, buddy…

Me: Grrrrrrrr! (thinks: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MQnToZYGAoY)

Me: Um, I know what you’re thinking, you know.
Me: Hmph. Well IF you did, then you’d also know that big ol’ box ends up costing not too much more than the regular editions IF you think about it…
Me: Be that as it may, the chances of me buying that set are like the chances Skybound will send me one to review.
Me: Well. it COULD happen!
Me: Yeah, sure. Well, I’ll let you go handle that and see what the results are. Good luck, pal.
Me: Well, first, let me go make some wall space for that bo setx…
Me: What?
Me: (pulls out big ACME rubber sledgehammer):Hey, you DID say we needed more wall space once, so I’m gonna go make some…
Me: Wait a minute!
Me: Too late! (swings hammer at wall, whereupon is bounces off and knocks me out cold.
Me: Well, that’ll learn ya. Again. Good thing that store only sells rubber hammers.

And so it goes…

-GW

 

That Sega Genesis Mini? It Just Got A Lot Cooler

genny mini

Well, now. The final set of games coming to the Sega Genesis Mini have been revealed and guess what? It’s 42 titles and not the 40 initially noted. That final dozen include a few excellent surprises such as Tetris, the Sega-developed Japan-only rarity, and Darius, which never got a retail release.

Here’s the list of included titles:

Sonic The Hedgehog
Ecco the Dolphin
Castlevania: Bloodlines
Space Harrier 2
Shining Force
Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine
ToeJam & Earl
Comix Zone
Altered Beast
Gunstar Heroes
Earthworm Jim
Sonic The Hedgehog 2
Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse
World of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck
Contra: Hard Corps
Thunder Force III
Super Fantasy Zone
Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master
Streets of Rage 2
Landstalker
Mega Man®: The Wily Wars
Street Fighter II®: Special Champion Edition
Ghouls ‘n Ghosts®
Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle
Beyond Oasis
Golden Axe
Phantasy Star IV: The End of the Millennium
Sonic The Hedgehog Spinball
Vectorman
Wonder Boy in Monster World
Tetris®
Darius
Road Rash II
Strider®
Virtua Fighter 2
Alisia Dragoon
Kid Chameleon
Monster World IV
Eternal Champions
Columns
Dynamite Headdy
Light Crusader

I’ll admit to being generally pleased with this lineup (let’s say about 85%) but there are a few odd omissions that leave me thinking that there will be some sort of second Genesis Mini or perhaps an update of some sort in the future. We shall see, I guess.

-GW

Sega Genesis Mini: Finally, It’s Worth Going Back to the Past

genny mini

Welcome back, buddy. Well, soon…

Hey, Sega.

qualitymarkWe have some history together, so I’ll be totally honest here and admit that some of the stuff you’ve done over the years in the post-16 bit era has royally worked a nerve or three. Too many years of seeing and occasionally playing those AT Games systems of often questionable quality that had me hanging on to a couple of your older, better made handheld and home console systems because they simply worked better even after almost two decades of use? Yeah, those are a reminder of the days when stuff was reliable and worked every time it was switched on.

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Derp. Someone forgot to switch his camera out of portrait mode. Eh, consider this a filter like some people use to make their faces all smooth like a plastic doll, OK?

These days, my old Sega Genesis and Japanese Mega Drive still work fine, but of late, they’ve been pouting in a corner because I’ve been all excited about Sega getting fully on board the retro mini console scene with their upcoming Sega Genesis Mini. Set to launch on September 19, 2019 for $79.99, the Mini will pack in a whopping 40 titles that will thankfully, not all be the same games found on those PC and console versions many Sega fans own (and a few of us own those collections on multiple consoles).

Sega of America has wisely put together a neat FAQ that should help you and your wallet see that money will be well spent, so peek below the jump and get ready to watch that credit or debit card pop right out of wherever you keep it.

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Capcom Home Arcade: Someone’s Dream Collection, With Caveats


(thanks, Official Capcom UK!)

Hmmm. I kind of have no idea how to feel about this other than agree that yes indeed, those gorgeous Sanwa sticks and buttons and what is looking like rather sturdy construction will insure that the Capcom Home Arcade will indeed find a niche in the homes of collectors and Capcom and/or arcade enthusiasts who’ve always wanted such a product. On the other hand, that price point more or less assures that this one will be out of reach for those gamers who may want this set of classics sans the fancy design as a far less expensive physical console disc or game card or as a basic digital download.

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Oh, it’s an exercise in ego, but it’s kinda cool to look at, that’s for damn sure.

Granted, perfect arcade ports (or hopefully flawless ports) do exist for folks running emulators on all sorts of devices, so the lure of an arcade setup going for less than an arcade machine is going to be a big draw. But I can’t see Capcom committing to this as the sole way to play these games as while it’s probably going to sell out as a collectible (and yep, make a load of cash for eBay sellers who snap up as many as they can charge up on a few credit cards so they can resell them at a massive markup), it’s just not a very good idea to make these titles exclusive to this device. Yeah, some folks say *any* publicity is good publicity, but I disagree when much of that noise is of the negative variety that may eventually hurt any traction this item needs to be a success outside the collectible marketplace.

As usual, we shall see what happens as that October release date approaches, but if some of the brutally salty responses to that UK trailer are any indication, I’m betting that we get some sort of compromise where anyone who wants to play this collection gets to on their console of choice. Well, hopefully that’s one outcome that should please the gaming masses to some extent. Yeah, I’d want one if I could afford it and yep, we also got some of those licensed Marvel titles to make an appearance in the near future (he said, remembering how hilariously fun The Punisher was back in the day).

-GW

Hell to Pay 2: Diablo Makes a Comeback

Excellent. After years of requests for a legitimate re-release, Blizzard and gog.com have teamed up to get the classic PC game Diablo out exclusively on the popular DRM-free digital platform for a measly $10. That tenner it costs gets you the original 1996 version as well as a separate build updated to run on Windows 7, 8, and 10 that includes “a host of bug fixes and high-resolution support via aspect ratio-correct upscaling”. While Mac and Linux versions are currently not available, I’d imagine someone clever will figure out a way to get those up and running for those fans who may want them. At this point, you won’t get that much-requested Hellfire expansion in this deal and I’d gather that will never be a thing to buy as that content wasn’t created by Blizzard

Blizzard and gog.com will also be getting both Warcraft: Orcs & Humans and Warcraft 2 out as digital-only re-releases at some point in the near future. As for the still superb Diablo II? Well, there’s no news on an updated version at this time, but both can currently be purchased through Blizzard’s Battlenet online store. Personally, I’m hoping for this one to get the same treatment along with the Lord of Destruction expansion, as it’s pure hell trying to get them to run from the original discs without some mucking around with a bunch of config options. The last few times I played DII, I used the amazing Sven’s Glide Wrapper to make the game look better (as well as add a clock to the game screen so I could keep track of time, as DII is a total time-sink).

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There’s going to be a hot time in the old town tonight…

I still recall way back in 1996 when I walked into an Electronics Boutique to hunt down a few Sega Saturn games and saw a playable demo of Diablo with no one at the kiosk, stepping up to try the game and being floored by the dark tone and gloomy soundtrack. The game felt like a meaner, more complex version of Gauntlet that required a more methodical style of play and yep, I was hooked in. Even the less stellar PlayStation port was a thrill to play multiple times (and yes, I still have that here in the library). While Diablo II never got a console port, it sure would be very nice to see one appear for consoles in the not too distant future just so a bunch of us who want to check that off our wish lists can be giddy for a spell (even if there won’t be mods to mess with).

-GW

Beamdog and Skybound To Bring D&D Classics to Consoles This Year

This somewhat astounding news popped up a few days back, but I’ve been a bit busy and just got around to picking my jaw up from the floor after it bounced under the bed. I really need to vacuum more under there, yuck. Say, did you know that Baldur’s Gate was in the works for the original PlayStation? Well, go peek at this for proof and get ready for a nicer thrill coming your way soon.

A little press release action is below the jump, but here’s a peek at the PC version trailer to one of those upcoming D&D classics for your perusal:

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Vixen 357: Super Fighter Team Surprises Yet Again

vx-productWell, this came out of left field, folks. Super Fighter Team is localizing and publishing developer Masaya’s 1992 turn-based strategy/RPG Vixen 357 for the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive.I actually have the import Japanese version here, but other than about an hour of messing around with it many years ago, I haven’t really dove into the game because my Japanese is quite terrible and usually involves a lot of looking stuff up and figuring things out as I go. Well, it looks as if sometime later this year I’ll be able to fully enjoy this somewhat unknown tactical gem thanks to SFT’s Brandon Cobb, who I should probably interview again at some point on they hows and whys of this latest production.

Pre-orders for the game will run you $63 in the US and $70 everywhere else and yes, that cost includes shipping. Oh, and the game cartridge, manual and a sturdy cardstock box. Yes, I did place a pre-order and if you’re interested, so should you, as this one’s guaranteed to sell fast. I can think of a few folks who’ll also be on this newest SFT release in a heartbeat, so I’m hoping we’re all happy campers in front of out respective TV’s when this sly Vixen finally ships out sometime this year.

-GW

Intellivision Amico: Tommy’s Gunning For Supreme Nostalgia

Intellivision Ent logo

 

(Thanks, Intellivision!)

 

So, the Intellivision is making a comeback with a new console called Amico that will not only be relatively inexpensive (between $149 – $179 US), its games will run between $3 and $8, and will be exclusive to the platform along with what looks like a slew of new and remastered titles planned. Key to this project is the direct involvement of the multi-talented Tommy Tallarico along with a host of other industry heavy hitters.

Amico

While it’s a prelim, if the final design sticks close to this, I think it’ll look awesome near any TV set. I’d add in another USB port or two, but that’s because I just like ports everywhere.

I have to truthfully say this is the first time I’m actually excited about a pre-1980 games console making a comeback because the people behind it believe in it and it shows. That and, with a two-year stretch between now and the launch date, it’s bound to draw plenty of attention from classic game fans and modern gamers alike as more news drops over time on the launch lineup and future titles. Hey,maybe we’ll even see the return of TV PIXX as an online experience?  Er, okaaaaaay…. perhaps not, then.

Yep, a little game history goes a long way when the right folks are behind and in front of the scenes.

Go, Tommy, Go!

-GW