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Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Eclectic Delights bundle and its 9 Games

Long time no see Master System lovers, but... The third and richest Bundle In A Box by Kyttaro Games, the deeply indie, wildly varied and rather fabulous Eclectic Delights bundle is now live! Simply hop over to Bundle In A Box, pay what you want and grab 5 brilliant games:

  • Lovecraftian yet cute platformer Eversion (Windows/Mac/Steam) 
  • RTS/visual-novel War of the Human Tanks (Windows/Desura) 
  • gloriously pixelated adventure/strategy Delve Deeper (Windows/Steam) 
  • Russian horror offering Fibrillation (Windows /Desura) 
  • point-and-click mystery Shadows of the Vatican, Act: I (Windows/Desura) 

Pay above the average to also grab:

  • award winning platformer Adventures of Shuggy (Windows/Steam/Desura) 
  • surreal horror game The 4th Wall (Windows) 
  • FMV rhythm-action-fighter Stay Dead (Windows/Mac/Desura) 
  • retro-tastique, hilarious maze-‘em-up Flibble (Windows) 

Oh, and do keep in mind that the more bundles we sell, the more money will go to the Indie Dev Grant and a most important charity. Also, more extras will be unlocked, meaning that everyone who grabbed a bundle (in a box) will also be getting such goodies as soundtracks and digital comic-books.

PS. Did you know that bundlers will also be getting access to exclusive Droidscape: Basilica content for iOS and Android? Well, now you do.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Unreleased SMS NBA Jam Port Discovered

Though the Sega Game Gear did get its deserved NBA Jam port back in 1993, as we all know, the Sega Master System never did, which does sound kind of silly, doesn't it? I mean the two consoles are virtually identical and the SMS was rather popular around Europe and Brazil, and, well, why? We'll never really know I suppose, but we might just get to finally play NBA Jam on our favourite 8-bit console. And love it.

As GameSetWatch recently let us know, SMS Power founder Bock has posted images of a just discovered copy of the prototype of NBA Jam for the Master System. It apparently is a fully working game, complete with the multiplayer options the GG version lacked. You can see more screenshots of NBA Jam SMS over at SMS Power. Oh, and apparently the thing will soon be released to the public. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Bubble Bobble Custom Master System

What you see above is one of the most beautiful custom SEGA Master System 2s ever created. You can see more of it here and enjoy the excellent Bubble Bobble inspired artwork.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Sonic the Hedgehog - Review and Retrospective

Sonic the Hedgehog
A game so massively overshadowed by its 16-bit counterpart that it receives very little recognition on its own merits. I actually prefer it considerably to the better known Megadrive / Genesis title, though I don’t expect to convince too many …

Initial impressions are poor, as the game opens on a level that can only be described as a pale, low-res imitation of the 16-bit version’s opening stage. Matters improve considerably, however, as the game diverges from the Megadrive layout and establishes a style of its own. The second “Bridge” stage features particularly beautiful (though non-parallax) backdrops, and animated waterfalls. The graphics continue to be clean, vibrant, and detailed (for an 8-bit game) throughout.

One glaring issue – if you are playing on a real SMS rather than some over-clocked emulator – is the lack of speed: without the power up shoes, Sonic moves about as fast as any other Master System player character, in spite of the frantic twirling of his legs. There are occasional stunt ramps and slides to introduce high-pace moments, but the emphasis of this game is definitely not on speeds runs. However, the optional bonus stages are impressively frantic, and reminiscent of the “Spring Yard Zone” in the Megadrive game.
Presentation is excellent, with two map screens to illustrate your progress, adding a narrative structure sorely lacking in the random-seeming levels of the original game. The true end sequence is also more elaborate and satisfying than the 16-bit version.
Not the best graphics on the SMS – “Cool Spot”, “Master of Darkness”, and the third SMS Sonic title (“Sonic Chaos”) overshadow this one visually – but still very appealing and effective, and with a few nice tricks thrown in. The pitching, swaying, vertigo-inducing ride on Dr. Robotnik’s airship is probably the highlight (and a nice parody of “Strider”, which, incidentally, piddles all over the official SMS conversion of that sadly-abused coin-op …).

With pleasant (if slightly short) compositions for each stage, boss music, bonus stage music, incidental tunes for power ups, intro, death, and end stage music, as well as a decent selection of sound effects, there isn’t much to complain about. Except possibly for the grating “Scrap Brain” theme that starts to predominate towards the end …

The lack of emphasis on speed is, at least to begin with, a disappointment, but that can also be said of the Megadrive game: in spite of the demo modes, anyone trying to storm through 16-bit Sonic would almost certainly miss the true end sequence and blunder into any number of traps. Some stages – especially the Marble Zone and Labyrinth Zone – were even constructed to slow the player down. This irritating trend would be corrected in later Megadrive Sonic titles, and even the Master System ones would do their utmost to speed up the gameplay. However, since extreme high-octane gameplay is not something one tends to expect from an 8-bit graphics chip (pre “Mayhem in Monsterland” days …), the slower pace of the first Sonic game is more acceptable in the 8-bit version.
Thankfully, the levels are well designed with a lot of variety that makes the more sedate and exploration-focused gameplay always enjoyable. Each level has its unique obstacles – trampolines, rolling logs, collapsing bridges, flame jets, teleporters, “Strider” style electronic force fields, to name a few – and some levels depart entirely from the normal style with such variations as a forced sideways scrolling level, a climb up a huge waterfall (in which backtracking is fatal), a maze of one-way doors, and a deadly ride on the outside of a zeppelin, with the screen pitching in a disorienting way. Bonus levels and boss fights also vary the action, although the latter do tend to be almost insultingly easy. Even assuming this game had a mostly young demographic of players, back in the day, the first boss is particularly laughable (Unarmed, and apparently with a death wish ...).
One major improvement over the Megadrive version, along with the narrative structure, is the distribution of the Chaos Emeralds (which you need to collect to see the true end sequence) within the levels rather than within the bonus stages, although the 8-bit pinball bonus stages are a lot more fun than the 16-bit’s annoying Escher maze thing. Putting the emeralds in the levels offers an extra challenge to the explorer, and some of their hiding places are quite devious (though one or two are painfully obvious), and give a nice sense of achievement when you finally ferret them out.

Not my favourite SMS platformer, in spite of the iconic brand status, but still one of my favourite Sonic games. In a series that later became characterised by a vast profusion of gimmicky characters and deranged locations, in a fantasy world where anything from giant pinball machines, to Halloween-themed mountains, to random lakes of molten metal seems to be acceptable logic, this early game actually offers a nicely structured quest, an appealing environmental theme, and a straightforward clash between good / nature and evil / destructive technology. Starts a little limply, but improves hugely as soon as it stops trying to imitate the 16-bit game, and strikes out on its own. The sequel would take that trend even further, to its credit, but that’s another story …