Genre: Action Adventure
During its launch in the US, Sega’s new Dreamcast console released with 18 games in tow. While that’s not a paltry number for the time, there were only a handful of recognizable titles in the mix like Sonic Adventure and Mortal Kombat Gold. Titles like Soulcalibur and House of the Dead 2 weren’t exactly household titles yet but were familiar to the arcade going crowd. Then, there was a host of games to file under the “unknown” label; intellectual properties that were getting the chance to grow and become new franchises on a sparkly new system.
Blue Stinger is the system’s sole attempt at a straight-up action adventure game from their launch. With the newly formed Climax Graphics at the helm and heavyweight publisher Activision helping the game, it looked to be a formidable attempt at starting a new series in the vein of Dino Crisis and other success stories from the time. I still remember seeing a hefty amount of advertising pushing the game in magazines, and my best friend at the time had grabbed a copy almost immediately because it looked so good.
Unfortunately, I didn’t remember much about playing it aside from the opening scenes when I dove into it recently. As a huge fan of the Dreamcast and its unique library, Blue Stinger is a game I’ve been meaning to take a trip through given its strange existence in the gaming community today- plenty of folks seem not to remember the game exists and those who do have polarizing views on it.
Having dug my heels in to finish it recently, I have my own thoughts on it to share on both how it holds up and regarding its place in gaming at the time. Continue reading
Sonic the Hedgehog: Triple Trouble
Genre: Action Platformer
Growing up on the Sonic games and as an only child, I’m shocked that I didn’t push harder to try to get a Game Gear into my greedy little hands. I do have memories of playing the Game Gear rendition of Sonic the Hedgehog on a friend’s handheld, though- until the battery died. I never saw that Game Gear or game again until years later once I started collecting.
Sonic the Hedgehog: Triple Trouble falls into a strange era of the Sonic franchise. Dropping right into the same timeframe as Sonic 3 and Sonic & Knuckles, the game released in the midst of a time when the flourishing series was expanding its roster and digging its heels into the same league as Mario popularity-wise.
Given that the Game Gear seems to have a fairly limited library and objectively paled in comparison to the Nintendo Game Boy in units sold, it’s sometimes easy to forget how much Sega invested in its potential. Not only is Triple Trouble the third “mainline” Sonic game to be released on the system- it does act as the sequel to equally known Sonic Chaos– but it’s one of nine Sonic related games to be released on it (including games that only released in Japan).
While Super Mario Land and its sequel commonly receive mixed reviews from folks in the current day, I couldn’t help but want to take a step back in time to see if Triple Trouble could stir up those old feelings I got from my original adventures with the spiky blue hedgehog. Given that I haven’t dug into the annals of the Game Gear library yet here on the blog and that this title interested me more than many, this seemed like a suitable place to break ground. Continue reading
Phantasy Star III: Generations of Doom
Genre: Sci-Fi Role-Playing
There are elements that a series needs to hold its own after a number of iterations. Looking at franchises like Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, Breath of Fire– and yes, Phantasy Star- there is always a need for new mechanics, more engaging stories, and overall higher quality content to justify to the fans that they should return to your series. The first entry is an introduction; a work that needs to be pushed through its outward presentation before gamers will give it a whirl. The second entry is a proving ground, where a series shows that it can deliver lightning in the same place again with a few upgrades here and there.
The third entry is the experiment. With Final Fantasy, we got interchangeable classes. With Dragon Quest, the ability to create your own party with their own quirks. With Phantasy Star III: Generations of Doom, there was a solid jumping off point with the improvements that the second game offered over the first, but there were still some mechanics that could use a little work for one reason or another. Given the success of the series thus far and being the first RPG series on the Sega system, it was imperative for the third Phantasy Star to dig in its heels and stake its claim to continue on successfully.
While we know that Phantasy Star IV released, leading one to believe that part three can’t have done too poorly, how exactly does Phantasy Star III stand up to the rest of the series? Given how fondly people usually speak about the second and fourth pieces of the mainline series, it’s interesting to see the evolution into the third and where it hits and misses the targets set up by prior entries.
If you’d like, feel free to check out my prior analysis of Phantasy Star and Phantasy Star II before reading up on this entry!
Phantasy Star II
Genre: Sci-Fi Role Playing
Having recently played through the original Phantasy Star recently, I can say that it took a lot of steps to revolutionize role-playing games and was quite ambitious for the time. You can see my impressions on that game here. At the time, the market wasn’t as saturated as it is now, and while the premier role-playing games of the time can be difficult to go back to for a number of reasons, they tend to conjure up feelings of nostalgia and warm feelings of falling in love with a genre that was really beginning to flourish in the West.
Phantasy Star II has a few things going for it over the original from the beginning- Dragon Warrior and Final Fantasy came out around the time so the market was starting to come into its own. Not to mention the fact that its predecessor had been well reviewed by critics and the public alike.
Having had a couple of years to perfect and enhance the experience for their fans, how does the second entry to the series fare not only against the test of time but against the previous entry?
As a note, I’m going to try to delineate certain discussion points for future reviews to keep them segmented and outline where spoilers might be. It may be expected, but given that this is a sequel related to the original, there may be spoilers throughout.
Sega Master System
Genre: Role-Playing Game
When people talk about fantastic role-playing games from the 16-bit era, the same answers tend to crop up- Final Fantasy VI, Chrono Trigger, Secret of Mana- but rarely do you hear a game from the Sega corner of the universe first out of a gamer’s mouth. That’s not to say, however, that it never happens.
Sega Genesis has some pretty solid entries into the RPG arena, but most of them are one-offs or largely forgettable. One series that has still had some kind of traction after all of these years, though, is the Phantasy Star series. Predating Final Fantasy and Dragon Warrior on US shores, Phantasy Star made a splash when it came out but appears to have fallen to the wayside over time for one reason or another, subject to romantic reminiscences from diehard fans with charmed memories.
With a myriad of titles in the series across a number of systems, let’s take a look into the original Phantasy Star and the number of ways it should- or should not be- fondly remembered. As with most story-heavy games reviewed here, be forewarned that there will be spoilers, though hopefully in short supply.