Pretty But Not Much Upstairs – Sega Genesis – Greendog: The Beached Surfer Dude! – 1992

Sega Genesis
Sega of America
Genre: Action Platformer

The Sega Genesis came around at a time where there was a need to be ‘cool’, and a lot of the games from the system show the ‘radical’ tone of the time.  A lot of them used sports like skateboarding, racing, and, of course, surfing. Parsing through some of these brightly colored and sometimes garish games of the part, Greendog: The Beached Surfer Dude was unveiled. I remembered playing this briefly when I was younger, lured in by how cool this Greendog seemed.  Really, though, who is this Greendog and why is he beached?

We can find out and remember together.

Greendog is a surfer dude, and not just any surfer dude. He’s one of the best. He’s hit all of the best waves, but one day, a gnarly monster of a curl knocks him off of his

Underwater Frisbee is, like, way cool, right?

board and he wakes up in another world- though not that far from ours. Not only that, but he has a golden chain on that he can’t remove. Along comes Bambi, the obligatory blonde babe in a bikini, who lets our mop headed hero know that not only does this chain provoke creatures, animal and human, to cause him harm, but also it prevents him from surfing. Being accosted by all those you run into, that’s something our hero can deal with, but no surfing?! Uncool. There’s a solution, though, and so Greendog heads off to a bunch of different islands to find the six pieces of the lost Surfboard of the Ancients, which will lift the curse.

Maybe it’s not the stuff that dreams are made of, but for the time, it was an interesting premise. Greendog was brought out around the time of Alex Kidd to try and find a good mascot for the Genesis. Incidentally, Sonic the Hedgehog won out, and with good reason. It’s hard to imagine ‘Mario and Greendog at the Olympics’ or ‘Greendog Adventure DX’ while playing this, but it is also hard to fathom why there wasn’t at least a sequel. The premise was just as interesting as ‘plumber goes to save a princess’ or ‘hedgehog saves a bunch of animals from technology’. Too niche, perhaps, or maybe upon finding Sonic, Sega gave up on the would-be franchise? In any case, the game does promise a sequel at the end, and Sega fails to deliver. Greendog was ported to the Game Gear a year later, though, so that’s something.

The game plays like any other platformer. You run, you jump, you avoid obstacles and dispatch enemies. In this game, you hurl a Frisbee at your enemies to get rid of them, along with utilizing power ups like a sentient Frisbee, a time stopping watch, and a parasol that slows your descent during jumps. Some deviations do occur from level to level, though, as using Greendog’s skateboard, inline skates, or ‘gyrocycle’- which is just a unicycle that flies- brings about other types of level traveling. In fact, you may find yourself groaning in frustration at seeing any skateboards again after playing this game. The game doesn’t really have a set structure. Some levels are longer, some are shorter, but they always end in a temple, and that’s wh
ere you face one of two bosses. Some temples include a boss Tiki tower at the end that must be defeated while each head performs a special attack against you and some temples are an intense skateboard/inline skate course that you must navigate from one end to another. Suprisingly, the final ‘boss’ is a skateboard level rather than an actual boss, which is a blessing and a curse. In fact, speaking of blessings and curses-

This game has plenty of flaws. For

So.  Many.  Skateboards.

instance, there is no way to tell how much being hit by something is going to add to your damage bar. Sometimes, hitting a spike will take of a sliver of life while other times, it will halve your life bar. Also, one of my platformer pet peeves: auto-kill zones. These wouldn’t bother me as much if they weren’t only featured in the skateboard and inline skate levels. These are really the only ‘way too hard’ parts of the game, though the rest of the game offers enough of a challenge already.

Sadly, the game also just kind of comes to an end. It’s not satisfying, and it feels like there should be more when suddenly, you’re at the end. All in all, the game does kind of fall flat, as it is an anticlimax by nature. The other issue is that the controls don’t feel nearly as responsive as other games of the system and time. Greendog tends to find himself slipping off of ledges and into spikes and controls a little like a car on a wet road.

It’s obvious that Greendog is not a shining example of platform gaming by that laundry list, but it gives a good go at it. The first few levels are fun, and there are plenty of secrets to be found. The game is fun, but it’s hard to tell why. The level designs are interesting, the game itself is unique, but to what end is it a game of any merit?

I think I might know.

The sound is the best part of the game. Even more so when you consider the time, as the soundtrack is all surf and Calypso themed. While this can be irritating once you’ve heard the Temple theme over and over again, the individual levels have awesome music. That goes especially for Mustique, the second level. The theme of the game is pretty neat, too. The only sound that felt out of place was good old Greendog’s yelp of pain, which sounds

Cruising the ancient ruins of… the mall?

more like an eight year old than a surfer dude. The sound of a perfectly sane creature nearby being set off by your pendant, though, is both jarring and hilarious.
Rounding out the presentation, the graphics are also pretty stellar, especially standing up to Sonic and Alex Kidd. The backgrounds and scenery are detailed and vivid, enemies are well rendered in their pixelated glory, and everything graphically is as tight as could be expected and then some. My favorite thing is the comical little guy that stars in the game. Greendog himself, despite just being a mop of blonde hair and a pair of swim trunks, is a blast to watch and play as, which is just as important as anything else in the game.

This may be the first time this has been the case, but the graphics and presentation really are what hold this game together. The game itself has pretty little substance, despite some fun gimmicks, but the game itself is very pretty and put together. While this game doesn’t hold up as well with passed time, it does implement a tactic that many games do nowadays: if you make the game pretty, it doesn’t matter how the game plays. Ahead of it’s time? Certainly not. This game was ranked around a ‘B-‘ on most review scores I read, and I have to say that this particular student is a ‘C’, dead in the middle. Check it out at your own discretion and you may enjoy it, but there are better platformers than Greendog: The Beached Surfer Dude to enjoy on this system.

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