CHIKI CHIKI BOYS
We're familiar with Chiki Chiki Boys now thanks to the Capcom Classics Collection games, but way back in 1993, the Genesis port of this obscure arcade title came as a big surprise. "Chiki what now? When did this come out? Who made this game, anyway? Capcom?! Why didn't I hear about this before?"
|It's as tough as it is cute. And it's very cute.|
Past that, it's the same game, a silly side-scrolling jaunt that borrows as much from the original Dragonball cartoon as it does past Capcom arcade titles. As a chubby warrior, you'll swat hairballs, lobsters, and animated peapods with your sword, scooping up the coins they leave behind and casting screen-clearing magic spells in times of distress. The action is kept simple and bosses lean toward the ridiculous, with a Dracula in boxer shorts being a highlight. The music is full of jubilant horns, adding to the game's optimism and peppy energy. Chiki Chiki Boys isn't long or complex, but it's fun the whole way through; the kind of game you might have rented on a whim in the 1990s and thought about keeping for a couple more days. B
This was the last officially licensed game released for the Genesis. "Too little, too late," you say? Hardly! This came at exactly the right time, the same year as the famous Seinfeld episode that paid tribute to the arcade game, and shortly before copyright issues took a hatchet to its soundtrack. Every home port of Frogger released since has had its music altered to keep the lawyers happy, and the game just isn't as fun without the original set of tunes.
|It just feels right that Frogger was the last game|
on Sega's most popular game system. I mean,
sure, we know it was a Konami game now...
A personal anecdote, if you will. I learned to play chess at an early age, but I never learned to play it well. To truly master the game, you've got to plan your strategies well in advance. Moves that seem safe or even advantageous at the moment could lead to disaster five, ten, or even twenty moves later. Some people can see that far ahead, but alas, I don't have that gift.
|It's just you against the world.|
Beating a stage requires you to either kill all onscreen enemies (and a few hidden off-screen, which surprise you at the worst possible moments) or lead all your soldiers to the top of the playfield, preferably after finding prisoners of war which add to your ranks. It's a refreshingly smart take on the top down military shooter, making it easy to overlook the dingy graphics and gameplay so unapologetically slow that it makes Ecco the Dolphin look like Sonic the Hedgehog. Stick with it... trust me, they're going somewhere with this. B-
Simple as it may look on the surface, it's hard to make a game in the style of Bubble Bobble work. The success of this genre is entirely dependent on the strength of the title character's weapon... if it's versatile and fun to use, you're already three quarters of the way to a work of art. If it's boring and ineffective, congratulations, you've just made Super Methane Bros.
|These Oscar the Grouch guys with the flames|
are the worst.
Knocking out foes earns you plates of sushi and strength boosting potions, but the satisfaction you get from taking out a crowd of goons with a well-planned kick is the biggest reward of all. Snow Bros. might not be up to the standards of Bubble Bobble, but with its candy-colored artwork and the two player gameplay that most arcade ports on the Genesis lack, it's a damn fine alternative and the best game of its kind you'll find on this system. A-
THE STEEL EMPIRE
I'm the last person in the world who'd want to give Acclaim any, uh... acclaim. They made a lot of crap for the NES under their own label and their LJN subsidiary, and when they migrated to the Sega Genesis, they took all that crap with them. No, really, we don't want a Genesis version of Bart vs. the Space Mutants. We bought a Genesis to get away from your mountains of cartoon-licensed shovelware!
|The first stage starts with a tune that sounds|
way too much like Airwolf to be a coincidence.
The Steel Empire has some clever ideas, but it's also burdened with a lot of issues that makes it feel like it was built from the same rusty gears and springs as its improbable aircraft. The graphics are dim and grungy, with a layer of transparency in the second stage that must have looked nifty on a CRT twenty five years ago but is utterly horrendous on today's displays. The power up system prompts more confusion than excitement, with swirling badges that don't seem to do anything when you collect them. Then there's the slowdown... granted, there's a lot of action and some big, big ships in the later stages, but more work should have been done to keep this game running smoothly, especially on a 16-bit system. The game's supposed to take place in 1916, not 1986.
Having said all that, The Steel Empire is still very good. Not as good as the best shooters on the Genesis, but the bi-directional shooting which lets you defend your flank and a novel setting go a long way toward justifying its presence on the system. Plus it was released by Acclaim in the United States, which considering the rest of its library isn't so much novel as it is miraculous. B-
TODD'S ADVENTURES IN SLIME WORLD
|Sometimes these jaws will just pop out of|
nowhere and eat you. Hey, who needs a warning?
It's not good, is the take home here. Yet the obvious potential of a game like Slime World is what makes it all the more addicting. The concept of a space explorer fighting his way out of the bowels of a gooey planet with a Super Soaker is way ahead of its time, beating Splatoon to the punch by decades. Power-ups are well suited to the terrain, with filters that turn pools of slime into crystal clear water and mega bombs that clear an especially dangerous room of everything... including yourself, if you're dumb enough to stick around for the explosion. Finally, missions are incredibly long, with even the easiest one taking nearly ten minutes to beat. There's nothing else like Slime World on the Genesis... although honestly, maybe that's for the best. D+
What happens when you cross the girl-powered anime goodness of Sailor Moon with the tough platforming and on-the-fly character switching of Castlevania III? Regrettably, not as much as you might have hoped. Valis III hits the right notes visually, with cut scenes that border on gorgeous. The game was ported over from the Turbografx-CD, and while the voice acting is gone, most of the large, colorful still shots and even the animation has remained intact, to the credit of the design team. The quality artwork carries over into the game itself, with distinct run cycles for each character and parallax scrolling adding depth to the detailed backgrounds.
|What do you mean you don't know how to get|
past this part? It says "sliding" right there on
the water tower! Can't you read Japanese?
Valis III may have been a necessary evil in 1991, but better side-scrolling action games would come to the system in the years since, and several of those come standard on the Genesis Mini. Just play Alisia Dragoon instead... it's right there. C-