Tagged: Sega

Let’s ignore Sonic’s checkered past for one day – he’s 25 today!

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It’s Sonic’s 25th Anniversary today and Amazon is the winner so far for unexpected tributes. The homepage features the video above wherein Sonic runs past his numerous, sometimes questionable milestones without flashing a hint of embarrassment at pretty much everything past 1999. They even picked Palmtree Panic from Sonic CD for the music instead of the typical Green Hill Zone tune! Good on ya Amazon, now go buy some Sonic stuff and help me make a few pennies.

In related celebratory Sonic news, the indie game music label Materia Collective is releasing a huge remix album at some point today. It sounds classy as hell from this preview track, I’m looking forward to hearing the rest. And poking around Bandcamp yesterday I came upon this totally outstanding rearranged album from 2012, Mindwipe Goes Sonic. Damn it’s good!

If you haven’t seen it elsewhere there’s also a Sonic Humble Bundle going on but they’ve broken it up so every tier has at least one of the games you’d really want in a Sonic collection. That t-shirt in the $35 tier is preeeeetty tempting though.

Happy B-Day Sonic! Here’s to a comeback title I can finally get into.

Sega Networks acquires and invests in more Mobile studios

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If any hopes were still smoldering that Sega’s new focus on the Western market with PC and mobile games was an elaborate smokescreen to hide a stunning return to form of wild Japanese creation, I’ve got a bucket of water for you.

Sega Networks, the mobile division of the ramshackle organization that is Sega proper, has announced some major acquisitions and investments today. Demiurge Studios, the team that most recently created Marvel Puzzle Quest is now wholly owned by Sega. The division has also established a majority share in San Francisco’s indie startup, Ignited Artists, and made a “strategic investment” in the UK studio, Space Ape Games.

Naturally, all three groups are mobile focused and while that isn’t my favorite platform to play games on, I’m willing to give this new effort from Sega a chance. There’s plenty of talent in the three studios and maybe (just maybe) they can take some old Sega IP and breathe new life into it. Failing that, maybe their Free-to-Play, microtransaction-filled castle defense games will bankroll a Sega product I’d be interested in. Say, a reboot of Doctor Robotnik where you’re capturing cute animals and turning them into Badniks.

Now Playing: Dragon Coins (Android, iOS)

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There are two types of mobile games that usually catch my eye. There’s the physics games like Stair Dismount… and there are coin dozers. Why are coin dozer games so captivating? Maybe it’s because I never, ever wasted my arcade tokens on them when I was younger. That’s not to say I didn’t want to watch my hard earned token set off a shower of coins that would enable my crippling wax bottle candy addiction. It just always seemed like a better value to keep playing shooters and brawlers. While arcades with physical coin dozer games have mostly fizzled out, the coin dropping fire from my youth never has.

First it was Game Circus’ Coin Dozer on iPad and their many variations. Then Coins vs Zombies which added all kinds of weird wrinkles. Now Sega has gone and combined coin dozers, collectible card games and role-playing games in the questionably dubious Dragon Coins. Why so uncertain about its dubiousness? Being a mobile game, Dragon Coins is naturally bogged down by stamina timers, friends lists, consumable items, and no less than four different currencies. That said, I have yet to be bombarded with ads or requests to spend real money. They’re both in there but the game doesn’t assault you with them which is good because there’s a lot going on in this game.

Forget about that mobile stuff and let’s focus on the gameplay. You’re some kind of hero in charge of a team of five monsters represented as collectible cards. Each has an elemental affinity, unique health and attack ratings and special skills. You choose four monsters, designate a Leader (which unlocks a unique skill of its own) and pick another players’ monster to fill in the fifth slot before heading into battle. Coin Battle!

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The game is broken up into an array of chapters and areas and battles but there’s no story to tie any of it together. Basically, poke the Mission button and then the Start button. You’ll see the familiar coin dozer interface with your five monsters at the bottom of the screen and waves of enemies at the top. Your goal is to strategically drop coins in the upper area and hope they push coins off the bottom edge to charge up your monsters’ attacks. Some monsters take multiple coins to charge up so there always seems to be something kicking off as the momentum builds and the coins slide around.

As you attack with multiple monsters you’ll build up a combo causing enemies to spill gold and health coins and skill cubes across the board. This is where Dragon Coins feels the most satisfying. You can only drop a prescribed number of coins before the enemies attack but with combos you can keep filling the board with coins and tearing them apart. Collect the skill cubes and you can unleash all kinds of powerful, temporary boosts like making the pusher move faster, bringing up walls on the sides of the board and doing double damage. There’s a great tension to battles as you build up a glut of coins until they’re teetering on the edge and then try to manage your boosts as everything explodes with a single drop.

It’s a coin dozer game you guys! It’s not especially hard and you’re encouraged to grind past missions to build your team but that’s where the mobile stuff kicks in. Leveling up monsters requires you to Fuse and Evolve them with other random monsters you find while battling. This costs Gold Coins but you’ll never get that many coins without grinding old missions. Playing missions costs Stamina which slowly recharges over time or can be refilled with a consumable item. These items also cost coins but these are Rainbow coins, the really rare currency you can buy with cash. I’m several dozen missions into it now and have yet to be cut off. I usually do a few rounds at a time and quit just as I’d run out of Stamina for the hour. But I know it’s coming, the moment when the enemies get so hard or the Stamina drains so fast that the game offers that simple solution: hey man, you’ve got all those Rainbow coins, get a fix, I’m here for ya.

It’s icky. I hate those mobile game “features” but Dragon Coins is a strategic and fun evolution of the coin dozer. It’s got permanence and progression — quite a bit with 758 monsters — and for that I’m willing to deal with energy and currencies. Will I ever catch ‘em all? Doubtful, but for the time being it sure is fun (and free) to try.

Long lost love for the Atari Jaguar and Sega Saturn

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Another week, another batch of old games to check out, but first: the games that never were. While Psygnosis blasted the PlayStation with dozens of games, several projects fell through for various reasons. Entropy, Elric and Parasite were three of these from the mid-90’s although Parasite was later found to have made it to the PC as Ar’Kritz the Intruder.

Three ghosted games that would surely have been the 32X’s saving grace were Jet Ski Rage, Virtua Hamster, and Heavy Machinery. All three hold the distinction of disappearing from multiple platforms; Jet Ski Rage and Virtua Hamster were both Saturn projects that never happened while Heavy Machinery made its jump from the Genesis before petering out of existence.

Onto actual games, it was a Jaguar-heavy week as I finally gave up hope of playing these titles and settled for just watching. Power Drive Rally is a fantastic looking 2D, top-down rally game with some impressive sprites. I found this honestly positive review of the ill-fated 3D fighter, Fight for Life. Blue Lightning for the Jaguar CD moves a lot smoother and faster than I had expected. And lastly is Phear whose earliest screenshots looked eerily like Tetrisphere on the Nintendo 64. Turns out, Nintendo saw the up-and-coming Jaguar game and swooped in to lock it down as an N64 exclusive.

hydlide 1It was also a Saturn-heavy week as I finally got around to watching Scavenger’s unique Scorcher and AMOK. I always liked their impressive visuals but neither appealed to me enough to buy; watching them now I feel pretty much the same way. Then I dug up Classic Game Room’s review of Gran Chaser (Cyber Speedway) which I can only praise for its sweet Syd Mead designed hover vehicles. I also started watching The Fanciest Bard’s playthrough of the much-maligned Virtual Hydlide and a funny thing happened… I bought the game. So look forward to my own series once it arrives!

Crazy Taxi: City Rush might maybe be cool?

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HEY MAN! WHY DON’T YOU JUST COME ON DOWN AND MAKE SOME CRAAAAZY MONEY… for Sega. Right? I mean, this “free to download” Crazy Taxi: City Rush just has to be full of in-app purchases, right? Coming soon to Android and iOS, it’s not the “wide variety of adrenaline-fueled missions, wild challenges and unique areas” that worries me, it’s the “customize your cab to increase its power and visual appeal”. It kinda reeks of “pay us money if you want a high score”.

Still, it’s hard to argue with the words of Crazy Taxi creator, Kenji Kanno, who’s back on board for City Rush. “We are delivering a truly fun game that captures everything our fans love about the original and infusing it with several new features to create an even more fantastic and memorable experience.”

I dunno, one of my favorite things about the original was hearing people demand I take them to Kentucky Fried Chicken, not ‘U.S. Attire’. Also, The Offspring. If nothing else, this new announcement has spurned Sega into giving away the iOS and Android port of the original Crazy Taxi so go grab that before they jack the price back up.