Pac-Mania (Sega Master System)

When first seeing Pac-Man in pseudo-3D, there is a certain level of excitement at the promise of a new Pac experience. However, this soon fades, as the somewhat pedestrian pace of the game and frustrating controls prevent this game from achieving its potential. It isn’t that Pac-Mania is a bad game, but it certainly does not provide the level of enjoyment that can be had with many of its 2-D predecessors.

Coming up with new ideas for extending the Pac-Man franchise had to be challenging. I mean, what does one do after changing the titular character into a woman, a child, a baby, and a professor? The character had even been made super. What is left?

Apparently, that character goes manic 🙂

Following the tired practice of quoting from Webster’s, “mania” is defined as “1: excitement manifested by by mental and physical hyperactivity, disorganization of behavior, and elevation of mood” or as “2: excessive or unreasonable enthusiasm.” So, our question becomes, which of these applies to Pac-Mania for the Sega Master System?

Let’s start with a cursory examination of the game. Unlike the sequels I recently reviewed, Pac-Mania once again places the user in control of Pac-Man. To distinguish this game from Pac-Man’s previous incarnations, this game is presented in an isometric view. This not only allows to provide dimension to the characters, but it also permits movement in a third plane, which Pac-Man accomplishes by jumping (the “elevation” referred to in the Webster’s definition? Nah, I think not). Pac-Man now appears spherical as opposed to flat and circular. Pac-Man and the ghosts all look fine; however, the game is certainly not as attractive as the arcade original.

The game moves along at an okay, but none-too-fast pace (so . . . no hyperactivity). The game is not as plodding as the Atari 2600 Pac-Man, but you won’t experience the more frantic action of, say, Jr. Pac-Man. I don’t know how this compares with the arcade original, as I never had an opportunity to play it, so I am curious as to whether this is a design choice or if the Sega Master System was just unable to handle this game running at a faster speed.

As mentioned previously, Pac-Man now has the ability to jump, we he can use to vault over ghosts or even power pellets in order to save them. Later, though, the ghosts get this ability as well (at least I was warned that they do prior to Sand Box Land, though I never saw one actually jump) to help even the score. Also, more ghosts wander the maze of Pac-Mania than in the previous games I reviewed; however, the mazes are so large and the ghosts rarely seem to work together (disorganization of behavior?), so their bolstered ranks do little to place Pac in peril.

One issue I had with this game was the control. As with all Pac-Man games, a good controller is paramount, as it is too easy to do an about-face into a ghost when attempting to quickly take a side path to evade him (or her). I think an arcade-style joystick is ideal, but unfortunately, I did not have one for my Master System, so I was stuck using a three-button Genesis pad (because the Master System pads I have are atrocious). The problem with a control pad is that it is too easy to hit a diagonal unintentionally and to not be able to more accurately. This is compounded when the game does not seem to read inputs as it should. If you watch the gameplay video, you can see that I occasionally move back and forth in front of a side passage. This is not due to indecision on my part—I could not get Pac to move that way, even though I was pressing the control pad in the right direction. Hmm, that disorganization of behavior seems to be more and more applicable . . .

Or, perhaps, the most suitable justification for the “mania” in the title lies with the definition “excessive or unreasonable enthusiasm.” When first seeing Pac-Man in pseudo-3D, there is a certain level of excitement at the promise of a new Pac experience. However, this soon fades, as the somewhat pedestrian pace of the game and frustrating controls prevent this game from achieving its potential. It isn’t that Pac-Mania is a bad game, but it certainly does not provide the level of enjoyment that can be had with many of its 2-D predecessors.

Not recommended

Brave Battle Saga: Legend of the Magic Warrior

I honestly wanted to enjoy this game, but its inconsistent graphics, often tedious battles, and uninspired story prevented me from doing so. I commend Djinn and SteveMartin for their work making this game available to the English-speaking community. I just hope that their next project is a little more deserving than Brave Battle Saga.

In all likelihood, you have never heard of Brave Battle Saga: Legend of the Magic Warrior. Originally released as Barver Battle Saga: The Space Fighter, this is an unlicensed Chinese title that reportedly borrowed heavily (i.e., directly lifted sprites, etc.) from other games such as Breath of Fire and Final Fantasy. Thanks to the hacking and translating skills of Djinn and SteveMartin (links take you to their respective pages on Romhacking.net), those of us who speak English have the opportunity to experience this game.

Using my Everdrive cart, I was able to experience this title on my Sega Genesis. I approached this game with a certain level of excitement for a few reasons. First, Brave Battle Saga is a role-playing game—one of my favorite game genres—and there weren’t a lot of RPG titles released on the Genesis. Second, I had the thrill of playing something rare and forbidden. Third, this was a new Genesis experience, and it had been a very long time since I had one of those.

The game starts out with you controlling one character (unimaginatively named Tim). Tim lives in a village that chooses a town hero each year, the hero being the first to complete a task given by the town elder. Due to his participation in this challenge, Tim finds himself exiled from his town and placed on a quest that will take him to several different towns, kingdoms, shrines, and eventually to a space station that threatens to destroy the planet. The adventure is a little cumbersome at first with only one character, as you will usually face 2-4 enemies in each encounter, and they usually get to attack before your character. Waiting through several enemy attacks, finally getting to retaliate (which may or may not be enough to kill an enemy and decrease the attacks against you), and repeating this pattern until the enemies are destroyed can be tedious and sometimes infuriating. Luckily, other characters eventually join Tim, which makes the battles a little more enjoyable, though your enemies will still likely attack prior to most (if not all) of your characters.

The action during battles reminds me of the Final Fantasy games, and the action occurs without pausing while you make decisions on what you want each character to do. Each character has a bar that slowly fills up, and once filled, you are allowed to give that character a command. After the character acts, the bar is depleted and must fill up again. Much of the time, this system works fine; however, whenever scrolling through menus for a particular spell or item later in the game, you may get annoyed with the extra turns the enemy will receive while you search. Personally, I prefer RPGs that use a battle system like in the Phantasy Star series, where you are allowed to pause the action after each turn, but I can see how some may feel that pausing like that pulls you a little out of the action.

The graphics in the game are nice, but the pirated nature of the game prevents the graphics from feeling cohesive. For one, whenever Tim and his companions are traveling, they will encounter monster sprites. Whenever Tim touches a monster sprite, the game switches to a battle screen. The problem is that, more often than not, the monster in the battle screen has absolutely no resemblance to the monster Tim ran into. For example, Tim may run into a monster that looks like Audrey from Little Shop of Horrors, but when the game switches to the battle screen, he is up against a couple of giant eagles and a swordsman. The same problem exists in the character sprites for Tim and crew as well. When not in battle, these characters have a super-deformed look. Once a battle begins, the characters are more realistically proportioned and don’t closely resemble their non-battle selves.

Surprisingly, the game is lengthy, and I spent around twenty hours playing through it. Unfortunately, the story is not compelling and the battles quickly become monotonous. I remember wondering over the last quarter of the game when it would finally end. Finishing was more a matter of perseverance than pleasure.

I honestly wanted to enjoy this game, but its inconsistent graphics, often tedious battles, and uninspired story prevented me from doing so. I commend Djinn and SteveMartin for their work making this game available to the English-speaking community. I just hope that their next project is a little more deserving than Brave Battle Saga.

Not recommended

Note that, if you choose to try out this game, you will need to acquire the ROM of the Chinese game and patch it with the file that can be downloaded from

Rastan

Among the limited Master System library, Rastan stands out as one of the best action titles available. It brings together good graphics, fun gameplay, and for the Conan fans among us, an ending that is very appropriate for a Conan-inspired character.

When I think of the 1980s, I am immediately reminded of G.I. Joe cartoons, hair bands, Mr. T cereal, Saturday Supercade, Mary Lou Retton, and John Rambo—all of which make that decade distinct in my mind. Perhaps the most significant reminder of the 1980s for me, though, is the rise of the sword and sorcery genre, brought forth primarily due to the popularity (and controversy) of Dungeons & Dragons, but given continued attention through a slew of movies released during the time. These movies ranged from Boorman’s often eerie retelling of Arthurian legend in Excalibur to the only non-musical Disney animated feature at the time in The Black Cauldron to the guilty pleasure of Hawk the Slayer to the dreadfully awful Deathstalker movies. Arguably the most influential of these movies was Conan the Barbarian, starring then rising star Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The fascination with Conan and the barbarian hero archetype he made famous can be witnessed in several video games during the ’80s—Ax-Battler from Golden Axe, Gogan from The Legendary Axe, Thor from Gauntlet, and even Conan himself appeared in a forgettable game or two of his own during this era. In my opinion, though, the best rendering of the Conan character was accomplished in Rastan, a game produced by Taito for the arcade and later ported to the Sega Master System.

Rastan is a hack-and-slash platformer in which you traverse seven levels of the land of Semia in order to rescue a princess. No, Rastan is not innovative in its storytelling, but that really doesn’t matter. Rastan is about cutting down skeletons, harpies, wizards, chimeras, and medusae as you make your way to the boss at the end of each level. As you slay your enemies, you will occasionally be rewarded with potions, shields, and armor, but your enemies will also leave behind vials of poison which will deplete your health. In addition to these items, you’ll find weapons that will increase your reach and damage, including the fire sword which launches fireballs with every swing.

Though Rastan does not have a time limit for each level, it does employ a penalty if you move at a leisurely pace. After a certain amount of time passes, night begins to set in, and you suddenly find yourself besieged by bats that will plague you for the remainder of the level. While the bats don’t appear during the boss levels, the game once again finds a way to ensure you dispatch your foes quickly. The manual implies that the air in the boss chambers is poisonous to Rastan, and your health will deplete slowly for the duration of the battle.

Speaking of the bosses, Rastan has some of the best looking I can recall on the Sega Master System. Though most of the enemies you encounter during a level will not be very detailed (though the graphics are still good for the Master System), the bosses are often large and relatively well defined, especially the three dragons you will confront before the game’s end.

The music in the game is also very good for a Master System game, and you may find the tunes running through your head long after finishing the game.

The only real complaints I have about this game are the ease with which some of the bosses can be defeated and the overall length. The first boss, Kentorous the centaur, can be defeated with only a few downward thrusts of your sword, and the third boss, the wizard Shukumas, will stand in one spot for several seconds before teleporting, allowing you to do heavy damage by merely standing in front of him and repeatedly swiping him with your sword. As for the game length, you can expect to play Rastan from beginning to end in 20-25 minutes, though they will be 20-25 minutes of some of the best hack-and-slash gaming to be found on the Master System.

Among the limited Master System library, Rastan stands out as one of the best action titles available. It brings together good graphics, fun gameplay, and for the Conan fans among us, an ending that is very appropriate for a Conan-inspired character. I consider Rastan one of my favorite titles in my Master System library, and after comparing it with the arcade original, I think the Master System port comes out on top. Certainly, the graphics cannot compare with the coin-op, but where the original was created to be a quarter-muncher, the Master System version feels like a more balanced game.

A quick tip for those of you who find that the three continues are not adequate to get you through the game—before turning on your Master System, hold down the both buttons and the D-pad to the lower left. Continue to hold until the Rastan title screen appears. If the title is blue instead of gold, you have unlocked unlimited continues. Now you may play as recklessly as you like.

Highly recommended

Shining Force

Shining Force is a joy to play and is among the best titles for the Genesis . . . . Though I won’t claim this game has universal appeal, I think even gamers who do not traditionally play FRPGs will find themselves drawn to Shining Force.

It all started with Phantasy Star. That was my initiation into the world of FRPGs (fantasy role-playing games), and from that point on, I was in love with the genre. I followed up with the remainder of the series (the second game being my personal favorite), and hungered for more. Unfortunately, outside of the Phantasy Star series, many of the Genesis FRPGs were rather lackluster. There were acceptable titles such as Sword of Vermillion, but they really failed to capture the epic feel of the Phantasy Star series. Finally, though, Sega gave us Shining Force, and a new and exciting franchise was established.

OK, before you correct me, I should note that there was a previous game released in this franchise titled Shining in the Darkness, but the gameplay is much different in this previous title. Shining in the Darkness used a first-person view similar to the dungeon levels of the original Phantasy Star. For some reason, though, I could never get into Shining in the Darkness. I appreciated aspects of the game, such as the artwork and creature design, but I think I was turned off by the need to create maps as I played, so I gave up. Shining Force used much different play mechanics, though. This game retained the type of design from Shining in the Darkness, but it seemed to be much more of a blend of the strategy and FRPG genres. There were no first-person dungeons in Shining Force. Instead, there were overhead-view villages and cities in which you interacted with non-player characters (NPCs) like in Phantasy Star mixed with battles in which you deployed the members of your party, all of whom had different movement ranges, reminiscent of strategy games. The mixture of elements worked, and Shining Force was a fun and refreshingly new addition to my Genesis library.

One of the things I love about Shining Force is the switch from the overhead battleground view to the close up of characters whenever one of them acts. You get to see your centaur knights charge forward with lances, your elves fire arrows, your dwarves strike with their axes, your mages call forth fire to scorch your enemies, and your birdmen hover then slice with their swords. The character graphics are all well rendered and will change as characters equip new weapons or are promoted (I’ll explain promotions in a bit). The background graphics will also change based on the terrain and include a good amount of detail. For a game of its time, this title provides excellent visuals.

As you progress through the game, you will add numerous different allies to your roster. Though you can only have twelve members in your party at any one time, you will find a headquarters in each town where you can change party members. Part of the fun of this game is finding party members and mixing and matching them to discover which combination works best for your style. Many members are secret, requiring you to search in a particular place at the right time or to use a particular item in order to unlock them. It is unlikely you will find everyone in your first playthrough without resorting to online hints or guides.

As you defeat enemies and use magic and items, your characters will gain experience. Unlike some FRPGs in which experience is shared among party members, your characters in Shining Force will only accumulate experience on their own actions. This can be problematic at times, as your mages and healers get a lot less experience for using their magic than your warriors will for attacking enemies. You’ll often find that you have to wear down your enemies with your strongest characters and then allow your magic users to finish off the enemy in order to help them advance through levels. In addition to this level advancement, though, your characters can also be promoted. When your character is promoted, he or she is given a new title (for example, a MAGE becomes a WIZD). The benefits of promotion are that the character may be able to use weapons which were previously unequippable or may learn new magic. You can promote a character at 10th level, but it is generally a good idea to raise your character higher than this, as the character’s stats will drop after the promotion, though as the promoted character advances, he or she will quickly compensate for this drop.

Though leveling up characters and opening new abilities is fun, you will often find yourself fighting the same battles repeatedly in order to do so, which can become monotonous. There aren’t any random battles in this game, so you are required to leave a battle prior to the last monster (or in some cases, the boss monster or character) is defeated. You may then return to the battle with respawned monsters, allowing you to build more experience.

Another gripe that I have with this game is that NPCs will often get in your way when you are in villages and cities. Since you cannot move through an NPC, they become very cumbersome in small houses and passageways. Often, you will sit and wait for one to move away from a door or staircase so that you may enter or exit. Though this isn’t a huge issue, it is still one that the programmers should have fixed prior to the game’s release.

Aside from those gripes, both of which are relatively minor, Shining Force is a joy to play and is among the best titles for the Genesis. The game balances battles with character interaction well, and people who generally feel that FRPGs are slow and plodding may find the pace of this game much more to their liking. Though I won’t claim this game has universal appeal, I think even gamers who do not traditionally play FRPGs will find themselves drawn to Shining Force.

Highly recommended

Spoiler Alert—the video below shows the game’s ending.

Eternal Champions: Challenge from the Dark Side

Eternal Champions: Challenge from the Dark Side is not a spectacular game, but it is a game that I continue to play to this day for its varied cast of characters, its humor, and its presentation. This is one of the better titles ever released for the Sega CD, and considering that this game can still be found for a relatively cheap price, it’s one that any Sega CD owner should consider for his collection.

Enticed by the success of Street Fighter II and Mortal Kombat in the early 1990s, many other developers began working on their own one-on-one fighting games, hoping to claim a share in this highly popular genre. Many of the games turned out to be either shameless clones (anyone remember the lawsuit brought against Data East by Capcom for Fighter’s History?) or just so poorly constructed as to be virtually unplayable, but some—such as many of the SNK fighters—found acceptance and continue to be popular to this day. Sega was not exempt from taking a shot at the 2-D one-on-one fighting genre, and in 1993, the company released Eternal Champions for the Sega Genesis console. I had been eagerly anticipating this game, hoping that this Genesis exclusive (take that, SNES!) would match the greatness of Street Fighter II. When the game was finally released, I rented it, ready to immerse myself in a little Sega-only fighting bliss.

Alas, Street Fighter II this was not . . .

It wasn’t that Eternal Champions was a horrible game. It got some things right. It had cool character designs. It had overkills (fatalities triggered by defeating your enemy in a certain spot on each level). It even had a decent story. The problem was, I didn’t enjoy playing it, and to this day, I’m not entirely sure why. I even tried it on GameTap in preparation of doing this review, and I’m still not certain what the problem is. I think it may be that there is a steep learning curve to the game. It seems that to do well in the game, you need to know all of your character’s moves and the appropriate time to use them against each enemy. Unlike Street Fighter II, in which I could develop a certain fighting style and modify it slightly as needed for each new opponent, it just seemed like each different character in Eternal Champions required an entirely different approach. Perhaps I didn’t have the patience. Maybe it just wasn’t fun.

Considering that I was less than enthusiastic about the Genesis cart, I’m not sure what attracted me to the Sega CD version. Perhaps I had read reviews stating that it fixed some of the flaws of the Genesis version. Maybe I discovered that it had new characters, hidden characters, FMV sequences, and now boasted four different kinds of fatalities. Whatever the reason, Eternal Champions: Challenge from the Dark Side became my first purchased title for the Sega CD (I already had the craptacular pack-in Sewer Shark). To this day, I have not regretted that purchase.

I can’t play the Genesis cart long enough to detail the differences, but to me, the Sega CD version just seems much more playable. One of the improvements I noted with CftDS, though, is that moves appear to be easier to execute. From the short time I played Eternal Champions on GameTap, I noticed how much more difficulty I was having pulling off the moves, and when I didn’t perform the moves, I left myself wide open for attack. Also, even though you still need to know which moves to use against which character, it doesn’t seem to be as bothersome as in the original, where it seemed like sometimes I couldn’t find success, no matter what I tried.

Another welcome change with CftDS is the option to choose between three levels of difficulty: Novice, Warrior, or Champion. Even on Novice level, though, the game can be challenging, as the computer opponent doesn’t just roll over and let you beat him senseless. In fact, I was a little surprised at times at just how difficult the computer opponent can be on this level, as even on Novice, you will find your character a victim of multi-hit combo attacks and you’ll have many—if not most—of your projectile attacks being reflected back at you.

The Genesis version had an interesting cast of characters, and they all made the transition to the Sega CD, along with a few new combatants and several unlockable characters. What I like so much about the Eternal Champions characters is that they are visually interesting, and even though they rely on many stock characters, the developers put their own spin on them. For example, Xavier is presented as a warlock, but he is actually a man of science, and Midknight is a vampire as a result of a genetically engineered virus. The hidden characters add an accupuncturist who practices the drunken monkey style of fighting, a soldier, another warlock, a senator, and five animal characters. I have seen some complain about the not-so-serious characters, but the animals can actually have an advantage due to their small size, and the Senator . . . well, the Senator is just awesome. There is something really satisfying about throwing a ban at your opponent so he cannot attack or wrapping him up in red tape. And then, there is the classic “I am not a crook” that accompanies your teleport . . .

A final feature I will comment on are the FMVs that help to flesh out the story. While fighting games typically have rather skimpy stories that really add nothing to the game, the FMVs really added a lot to this game. For one, they used CGI sequences, which was not common at the time. Even though the video quality is very poor by today’s standards, I remember being wowed by the lengthy intro in which we get to see all the combatants (save for the locked ones) get saved from their deaths by the Eternal Champion as he explains the contest. We are also introduced to the Dark Champion, a second boss character created for CftDS (as if fighting just the Eternal wasn’t difficult enough). All of this makes it seem more as if there is a purpose for being in the contest, which enhances the experience.

Even with the improvements over the Genesis cart, Eternal Champions: Challenge from the Dark Side is not a spectacular game, but it is a game that I continue to play to this day for its varied cast of characters, its humor, and its presentation. This is one of the better titles ever released for the Sega CD, and considering that this game can still be found for a relatively cheap price, it’s one that any Sega CD owner should consider for his collection.

Recommended

Phantasy Star

In my opinion, this is the best game that was released for the Sega Master System, and a necessary addition to any Sega Master System roleplayer’s library.

It wasn’t easy being a Sega fanboy back in the days of the Master System. Though it had a better color palette than the NES and the hardware was technically superior, the Master System suffered because of a lack of games. It wasn’t until the Genesis that Sega was finally able to get much third party support (the result of the often-discussed policy Nintendo had in place preventing third-party developers from supporting other systems), and the Master System’s limited library just didn’t have a lot of really good games. Certainly, there were enjoyable titles, but the gameplay of the Nintendo games generally seemed more advanced. So, the loyal Sega supporters like myself waited patiently for more good games to arrive for our underappreciated system.

Fortunately, there were some great games that were finally released for the Master System—games that could not be bought for the NES or any other console. One of these games was the now-classic Phantasy Star, which introduced me to the world of RPGs and had perhaps the best graphics on the Master System (maybe on any 8 bit system).

One of the biggest complaints I had during the 8 bit era was that I finished games too quickly. Most were action titles that could be mastered within a couple of days, and I often didn’t feel like revisiting them after one or two playthroughs. It seemed like I really wasn’t getting my money’s worth. Phantasy Star changed all that for me. Here was a game that I couldn’t play through in one sitting. It required a time investment, and I had time in abundance. Finally reaching the end and defeating Lassic, as well as vanquishing the unexpected foe Darkfalz, was extremely satisfying. Unlike most titles, Phantasy Star felt epic, with its progression from a lone girl trying to avenge her brother to a party of trained warriors overthrowing an evil tyrant.

Recently, I played through Phantasy Star again to see if it still holds up after all these years. I can say, with a few reservations, that it does.

The graphics in Phantasy Star still look nice, with large, well-designed enemies. Some of these are mythological, such as centaurs and dragons, while some seem to have been borrowed from more contemporary sources (for example, an obvious Star Wars influence can be discerned in some of the designs). What is great is that each creature is animated, which is an improvement over a game such as Miracle Warriors, in which the enemies are more static and less interesting. Unfortunately, the overhead graphics while traveling are not very impressive, but players will spend so much time in dungeons and fighting random battles that they can be easily forgotten.

For anyone familiar with roleplaying games, Phantasy Star plays very much as you would expect it to. Battles are run through menus in which you can choose to attack, use items, use spells, talk, or run. The only real problem I had with the interface is that I was not allowed to choose which character would attack which enemy, so I was often annoyed when my characters would attack a healthy enemy instead of finishing off one who was low on hit points and removing that enemy from battle. Phantasy Star is an early RPG, though, so I am able to accept that the game lacks this feature, no matter how frustrating my character’s choice of targets could be.

Phantasy Star is not as long as a contemporary RPG gamer might expect. If you know the game’s secrets, an avid gamer can actually finish it in a day or two. Still, it is a lengthy quest for the time, and after finishing it again, I felt that the length was adequate.

Aside from the few small issues I’ve mentioned, there is a lot to like about Phantasy Star. Heck, I even like the music in the game. In my opinion, this is the best game that was released for the Sega Master System, and a necessary addition to any Sega Master System roleplayer’s library.

Recommended (highly recommended for Sega Master System or RPG fans)

Street Fighter II: Special Champion Edition

Unless you are a Street Fighter completist, or are like me and appreciate the memories associated with Street Fighter II: SCE, there probably is no reason for you to buy this version when there are better, cheap alternatives to be had.

It’s strange how competition breeds fierce fanboyism. It seems to always occur when there are two obvious front-runners that are vying for your business, whether it be Coke versus Pepsi, McDonald’s versus Burger King, Ford versus Chevy (before the American automobile market went to hell), and in the early 1990s, when 16 bit consoles were in the process of replacing their 8 bit predecessors, there was the Sega Genesis versus the Super Nintendo. This is arguably the best video game rivalry in history. Sega had been tested early by NEC’s TurboGrafx 16, but due to poor marketing on NEC’s part as well as Sega’s recognizable arcade titles (Altered Beast even came with the system!), the Genesis became the early 16 bit victor. And then came the Super Nintendo . . .

Nintendo had given Sega an early lead in the 16 bit market, which allowed Sega to find the following the Master System never achieved. The fact that gamers could now play games at home that looked close to the arcade originals was a big draw, along with the fact that Sega was releasing quality non-arcade titles as well, such as Revenge of Shinobi (an all-time favorite). The Super Nintendo was scary for those of us who loved our Genesis systems, though. It would have better graphics and sound, but beyond that, Nintendo brought with it numerous third-party publishers who weren’t making games for the Sega Genesis. This came to a head when it was announced that Capcom would be making Street Fighter II . . . only for the Super Nintendo. At the time, there was no title we wanted to see ported to home consoles more, and it was being made only for the competition. In order to play Street Fighter II at home, my roommate and I had to spend probably around $20 to rent a Super Nintendo and Street Fighter II, along with a hefty deposit to cover the price of the system in case we would decide not to bring it back. It sucked, but we did it, and on more than one occasion.

Then it happened. The news that I wanted to hear finally broke. Capcom was releasing Street Fighter II for the Genesis. It wasn’t just Street Fighter II, though—they were going to give us the Champion Edition! Nintendo didn’t have the Champion Edition, but we would! Sega fanboys across the globe rejoiced . . .

Of course, it all didn’t quite play out like that. We did finally get a Genesis of Street Fighter II, and it not only contained the Champion Edition, but the Turbo version (here called Hyper) as well. Nintendo got Street Fighter II Turbo as well. At that point, I didn’t care. I could finally play Street Fighter II at home on my Genesis. Sure, it may not have been as pretty and didn’t sound as good as the Super Nintendo version, but none of that mattered. What did matter was that this was a good port that controlled well. All was well in Sega land . . .

So, the question is, does the game still hold up fifteen years later?

Yes, yes it does. Obviously, the Street Fighter series has evolved and there are better versions to be had, but the Genesis version is still highly enjoyable, especially after recently battling the controls of Fighting Street. I was surprised at how quickly I picked up the controls again, executing fireballs, dragon punches, and hurricane kicks. The sound is as bad as always, but again, after playing Fighting Street recently, I didn’t mind the sound at all.

Unless you are a Street Fighter completist, or are like me and appreciate the memories associated with Street Fighter II: SCE, there probably is no reason for you to buy this version when there are better, cheap alternatives to be had. If you have this collecting dust in your Genesis collection, though, you might want to give it another try as there’s still a lot of fun to be had here.

Recommended