Tagged "Sega"

MajescoGameGearT
Jul 18
By Matt Gander In Retro No Comments

Best known nowadays for publishing the Cooking Mama and Zumba fitness games in the US, budget specialists Majesco have been around for far longer than most gamers realise. Back in the mid-‘90s, when the 16-bit market was entering its twilight years, the company purchased Acclaim’s Mexico-based cartridge manufacturing facility and begin to re-release Genesis and SNES titles in the US at bargain prices.

These re-releases are usually frowned upon by collectors as they came in flimsy cardboard boxes rather than hard plastic cases. Manuals were printed in black and white, while the cartridges themselves were mostly formed out of Acclaim’s unsold stock. It wasn’t uncommon to find the Acclaim logo on reverse of a Majesco re-release, even if the game itself had nothing to do with the now defunct publisher. Cart labels meanwhile had a cheap matte finish to them.

1024px-Sega-Genesis-Mod3-Bare

The list of games Majesco re-released is a long one – everything from Disney tie-ins to first-party SEGA titles. There were a few EA games re-issued too – including Road Rash 2 – which did away with those infamous EA carts that featured a pointless yellow tab.

It’s fair to say that Majesco had a good idea of what games were worth re-releasing – the hard-to-find Castlevania: Bloodlines and Contra: Hard Corps both gained a re-issue, which probably prompted a degree of rejoicing back in the day.

Slowly but surely, gamers left their Genesis and SNES consoles behind to jump onto the 32-bit bandwagon – or 64-bit, as was the case for Nintendo fans. Majesco attempted to give the Genesis a new lease of life by releasing the Genesis 3 in 1998, but the fact that these units are little-known would suggest their attempt failed. Far smaller than the Genesis 2 – which was also re-issued by Majesco – they aimed to sell 1.5 million units of the drastically re-designed 16-bit system. An optimistic figure, considering the three-way console war between the PSone, Saturn and N64 was currently well underway.

Then in 2001 Majesco made a rather unexpected announcement – they planned not only to re-manufacture the SEGA Game Gear, but also publish new games for it:

“February 21, 2001
EDISON, NJ, February 21, 2001 – Further strengthening its position in the handheld arena, Majesco, Inc., today announced it has acquired rights from Sega Toys to re-manufacture the classic Sega Game Gear portable gaming console. The system will be available at Toys R Us stores and online a twww.toysrus.com and will be value priced at $29.99. Majesco additionally announced plans to support the system by publishing original Game Gear games, also value priced at $14.97.

Originally introduced in 1990, Game Gear features portable gameplay on a full color, hi-resolution 3.2 inch backlit LCD screen. Games display 32 blazing colors for arcade-quality graphics and vivid animation with 4-layer audio and 24k RAM.

Majesco will manufacture and publish 10 games for the Game Gear system. These titles include: Disney’s The Lion King, Aladdin, The Jungle Book, Deep Duck Trouble, Caesars Palace, Super BattleTank, Sonic Chaos, Sonic Spinball, Pac Man, and Ms. Pac Man.”

Presumably Majesco intended it to be a low-cost alternative to the Game Boy Advance. The mere $29.99 price tag must have also made it an appealing proposition to those who past the handheld by when it was first released.

MajescoScreen

In terms of build quality, the Majesco Game Gear was a mixed bag. The screen was brighter and clearer but as you can see from our images, the plastic
“lens” was prone to scratching. The notably darker plastic casing meanwhile had a cheap feel to it, while the Game Gear’s tri-colour logo was now in monochrome. This does at least make Majesco’s system easy to distinguish from the original model.

GGSideBySide

Majesco’s model wasn’t compatible with the TV tuner accessory either, while reportedly one of the Master System converters refused to work.

Thankfully Majesco didn’t make the same mistake that SEGA did and use cheap capacitors – whereas our original Game Gear now suffers from sound and screen issues due to the capacitors inside dying, our Majesco unit is still going strong some thirteen years later. For this reason alone, we would recommend the Majesco Game Gear over SEGA’s own. They can be tricky beasts to track down however – to the average gamer it is no more than your everyday Game Gear, and so they’re usually listed as such on auction sites. Like we said: look out for a monochrome logo.

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Dragon Coins
May 23
By Jake In Mobile Games 1 Comment

Coin pushers: gateway gambling machine, disappointing old-fashioned seaside arcade amusement, or terribly modern entertainment sensation? It’s looking bizarrely like the last of those.

There’s daytime ITV1 quiz show Tipping Point, in which Ben Shephard has an only slightly easier job than Noel Edmonds on Deal Or No Deal in convincing the viewer that there’s appreciable skill involved. There are a baffling number of them available for smartphones and online. And Sega has lumped RPG and collectable elements on top of one for this free to play effort.

Dragon Coins

The collectable elements are monsters, from which you put together a team to take into battle. These monsters are of various elements, they evolve, and come in balls – in short definitely nothing like Pokemon. It’s all perfectly nicely done though, and getting rid of unwanted monsters by fusing them with others is enjoyable in an upcycling sort of way.

The coin pusher-based battles are initially chaotic affairs, with as much skill involved as you might imagine. Your monsters line up along the bottom of the screen, and as coins fall into their slots, they attack. They also earn special moves, such as speeding up the pusher or showering coins on the stage. You drop coins onto the pusher, limited only by the fact that each enemy has a countdown, and after you’ve dropped that many coins, they attack. This doesn’t tend to happen much at the start though, as combos and defeated enemies make coins spew all over the stage, keeping itself going like a madly coloured perpetual motion machine.

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Sega, Akihabara
Apr 26
By Jake In Street Viewtiful 2 Comments

Let’s go to Japan! Not literally of course, the last minute flights would be cripplingly expensive.

But it has been a while since Street Viewtiful – our regular jaunt around the world of games via the medium of Google Street View – went to Japan. For many it’s the spiritual home of the video game, not to mention the spiritual home of crazy – so there must be plenty of sights to choose from, right?

Not so much when it comes to games companies, because Japan is also the spiritual home of conservative corporate culture. Step forward Capcom, with their staggeringly anonymous Osaka HQ. Namco Bandai‘s big trapezoidal Tokyo building is a little more fun.

But let’s focus on Sega, and their Japanese HQ, also in Tokyo.


View Larger Map

Not the most exciting of buildings in and of itself, but observe how the Sega logo on a building over the road is reflected in the shiny exterior. It’s that sort of detail that makes you glad to be alive.

Thanks, Sega.

Rollcage tyre
Mar 22
By Jake In Retro No Comments

Everyone loves something for nothing, so when some freeness is offered as a bonus for pre-ordering, or dished out at a games show, you’re not going to turn it down, are you? But you’re also not going to use it, are you? Let’s see what tat’s been languishing in a box in the attic for the last decade or two.

Yoshi’s Island soundtrack CD

Yoshi's Island OST

Ah, the soundtrack CD, a classic freebie – and still a common sight, even in these digital days. Sounds like a nice idea, but there aren’t many games that have music you’d want to listen to alone – mainly because that’s not what it’s for.

Yoshi’s Island is a case in point. It’s an incredibly (others might say insufferably) cute game, and the music is no different. The title, Love, Peace & Happiness, doesn’t exactly try to hide it.

The joy is almost deafening, and you’d struggle not to raise a smile when it first hits you. It’s another matter after that same tune has been recycled repeatedly in slightly varying musical styles. It must be tiring to be that happy all the time – it certainly is listening to it.

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Alien3T
Feb 13
By Matt Gander In Our Pixilated Past 4 Comments

Just in case you’ve been in cryogenic sleep since 1992, Alien 3 is the one where there was only one Xenomorph and not a great deal happened. The movie had a very difficult production and at one point was even being filmed without a finished script. This ultimately led it to it receiving very mixed reviews from ‘90s film critics and no doubt much anger from fans in AOL chat rooms.

Even the dedicated Alien diehards find this movie hard to bond with as aside from Ripley and the prison’s doctor there were very few characters worthy of concern. The majority of those being mauled to death were prisoners and I think it’s safe to assume that they weren’t banged up for petty crimes like inappropriate use of a Power Loader.

It is at least a very different movie from 1986′s Aliens. Due to the prison setting the only weapons on hand were fire axes and so Ripley and her cohorts spent most of the film trying to lure the Alien into various traps.

Unsurprisingly, massive liberties were taken with the various Alien 3 videogames. Let’s take a look, shall we?

Alien 3 (1992)Mega Drive, Master System, Game Gear, Amiga, C64

As Probe’s Alien 3 game was released on no less than five formats, it’s likely to be the one that most people are familiar with.

alien_3

Reviews were very positive for a movie tie-in, and rightly so – it was a genuinely good game. The brilliant fast paced music helped to induce a sense of panic, as Ripley tried to rescue prisoners from the maze-like levels before the time-limit ran out. Right from the start three different weapons were available, instantly giving something to experiment with. The grenade launcher would destroy aliens with one hit, but as ammo was limited it was wiser to save it for the harder sections and make do with the pulse rife and flame-thrower to get through the easier bits.

Alien3SMS

Controls were responsive, although it was quite easy to fall off ledges and moving platforms, plunging Ripley to her doom. Fail to rescue the prisoners and chest busters would put an end to them. You did however get to see where the prisoners were when this happened, thus giving a better chance of finding them second time round. Boss battles also helped to add a bit of variety, appearing every four levels or so.

Probe did a very decent job with the 8-bit Sega versions. Although the sprites were a lot smaller it retained the look and feel of the 16-bit iterations. We can’t quite say the same about the NES version though…

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iGame-Move
Jan 22
By Matt Gander In Features No Comments

There’s a Hong Kong-based online retailer where, hidden away from the official console bundles and realms of third party peripherals, there’s a peculiar section titled “Other videogame consoles”. Here you’ll find a variety of dubious looking handhelds of all shapes and sizes, pre-loaded with hacks of NES games and more.

We don’t condone piracy here at Games Asylum – hence the lack of a link to the website in question – but the consoles found here are so brilliantly bizarre that we couldn’t resist taking a thorough look. Most of these devices don’t even have proper names, let alone adequate descriptions, so we’ve taken the liberty with some of them.

If curiosity gets the better of you, it shouldn’t be hard to spot the website’s name from the watermarks.

Angry Birds ZH-398

AngryBirdsHandheld

Costing less than £10, we very much doubt that the “Angry Birds ZH-398” has a particularly high build quality. Well known games such as Zumba, Plants vs Zombies, Pac-Man and “Anger Birds” are shown on the main menu. It’s existence is sure to anger Rovio, that’s for sure.

It’s impossible to tell if the 32 games it contains are genuine or bootleg clones, but we assume the latter.

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dcuk-wegotissuestop
Jan 09
By Jake In We've Got Issues 2 Comments

It’s time for another of our regular look backs at a video game magazine of old. This time our incessant rummaging around the attic has unearthed Future Publishing’s unofficial Dreamcast magazine, DC-UK.

DC-UK Issue 03

Word – by which I mean Wikipedia – has it that Sony Computer Entertainment Europe stopped Future Publishing from pitching for the official Dreamcast magazine license. Which was presumably the only time that Sony were concerned by what Sega were up to with the Dreamcast.

So Future’s DC-UK ended up as an unofficial magazine, but like the Official Dreamcast Magazine, its first issue came with a video. Yes, an actual, real-life VHS cassette. 1999, eh?

There were some notable absences from DC-UK’s video, chief among them first-party games – for obvious reasons. It was third-party all the way then, but with the likes of TrickStyle and Power Stone it wasn’t all bad by any means. It did have a curious fetish for menu screen footage though.
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Aug 07
By Matt Gander In Retro No Comments

You won’t find Wonderboy or Alex Kidd on this list of Sega’s long lost heroes – we’re going even deeper into the depths of obscurity. Presenting eight former heroes that Sega have seemingly forgotten about:

Tempo

Despite starring in three different games on three different formats – Game Gear, 32X and Saturn to be exact – Sega’s music-loving grasshopper was rather under-loved. This could be pinned down to a couple of reasons – Europe only received the Game Gear version, while the Saturn version remained in Japan.

All three games were pretty good, though, being very similar to the original Rayman in terms of look, feel and difficultly level. The 32X version was one of the system’s most underrated games, and one of the few to make good use of the add-on’s enhanced sound chips.

Mr. Bones

Cast your mind back to 1996. The PlayStation was reportedly outselling the Saturn by 10 to 1. Although underpowered, it wasn’t so much a case of the hardware failing to impress but rather the range of software. While Sony were heavily promoting the likes of Crash Bandicoot, Rage Racer, Destruction Derby 2 and WipEout 2097, Sega were releasing obscure Japanese titles and 2D platformers that, when compared to the aforementioned, looked a bit passé.

Case in point: Mr. Bones, a cut-scene heavy 2D platformer which came on two disks and starred a nondescript skeleton.

The Three Dirty Dwarfs

And here’s another example of a game which was far removed what from Sony were treating PlayStation owners to at the time. Three Dirty Dwarfs was from the developers of Ecco the Dolphin, but rather than promote the game around this fact, well, it wasn’t promoted at all.

Taconic, Corthag and Greg were the names of the dwarfs, who had to fight through a post-apocalyptic rendition of The Bronx using mostly sporting equipment. Like Mr. Bones, it’s a game that’s hard to find and can fetch a handsome sum.

Psycho Fox

“Remember, you’re not an average fox, you’re Psycho Fox!” read the back of the box for this well-received Master System platformer. Psycho Fox wasn’t the only character in the game, however – players could change into different animals with their own abilities.

For quite an obscure release there’s a bit of history behind it – it’s the predecessor (of sorts) to Decap Attack on the Mega Drive, which was the westernised version of the brilliantly named Magical Flying Turbo Hat Adventure. It has been said that Psycho Fox was the inspiration behind Tails, although the truth of that is hard to ascertain.

Teddy Boy

Teddy Boy was one of the better games in Sega’s £9.99 Master System budget range, but even then that’s not saying much – none of their purse pleasing games were particularly excellent.

The Japanese version was known as Teddy Boy Blues and featured Teddy Boy holding a gun on the cover. The cover for the European release however featured just the top of Teddy Boy’s head, with a bug knocking his blue baseball hat off. Oddly, his hat was green in the game. And going by the Japanese version it was meant to be a beret rather than a baseball cap.

Teddy Boy may have been a pretty bland character but regardless it was quite a popular Master System game due to the low price tag.

Sir Tongara de Pepperouchau III

Sega took such a long time to release the Saturn in Europe that by the time it arrived launch title Clockwork Knight had already received a sequel in Japan. As such, the releases of Clockwork Knight and Clockwork Knight II in Europe were only months apart – the original was released in July and the sequel in October. Both games saw Sir Tongara de Pepperouchau III – or Pepper, for short – out to rescue the Clockwork Fairy Princess, Chelsea.

It’s quite easy to draw comparisons with the movie Toy Story – both were released around the same time. In fact, Clockwork Knight probably did very well off the back of it. 3DS remakes would be most welcome – we recently played the sequel and it still holds up well.

Bug

Bug was the star of another early Saturn platformer with 2D characters on 3D backgrounds. The similarities with Clockwork Knight don’t just end there – Bug! also received a sequel, entitled Bug Too!

With no Sonic game available at the Saturn’s launch, Bug! sold quite well. A 32X version was rumoured in one of the UK Sega magazines and probably would have turned out to be a faithful conversion – it wasn’t particularly a polygon heavy affair and even Bug himself was a 2D sprite.

We wouldn’t turn down a 3DS version of this, either.

Ristar

Ristar is perhaps the least obscure character on this list – it’s a game that has appeared on Sega’s retro collections and is also usually included on those licensed Sega handhelds. Sega fans hold the game in high regard too, as it’s a genuinely excellent platformer.

Ristar’s development history is an intresting one. Not just because it was originally going to be called Dexstar but because for a short period of time Ristar was going to be a rabbit who could throw enemies using his giant ears.

Proving that Sega do listen to their fans occasionally, Ristar made a very brief cameo appearance in Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing in one of the DLC tracks. If only they’d listen to what fans wanted a little more they wouldn’t have to put up with petitions and the like asking for Shenmue III.

Next week: The forgotten heroes of PlayStation

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