There is a genre of video games that is called “shoot-em-ups” or “shmups” for short. These shooter types of games have been in my mind since I was a child. I am not sure where I picked up these memories. It was probably from some arcade, restaurant, bar or some other place that I spotted a game or few that were about space, shooting and monsters. The game I have in my mind, or the memory of it, takes place in some space related environment. There are blinking dragons and a flying star fleet ship that is shooting that thing.
Of course this isn’t any real game. It was some unknown game that I had seen somewhere. It is however true that there were games like this, space shoot-em-ups, in the end of the 80s in arcades (for example). When the hottest gaming device was Sega Mega Drive they marketed the gaming console with a promise that it would bring arcades to living rooms of our homes. Maybe the graphics weren’t as impressive but they were something at that time. They were a bit more detailed than those NES games we had seen some years earlier. And the sound that was generated was better in pure quality also.
The screenshot that is related to this blog post is taken from a game that is called Gynoug. I’m not sure if it is qualified as a space shoot-em-up but it for sure is a shoot-em-up. This game represents the genre. Playing this game can give some view about the it. It is often said that Mega Drive games are hard to play and that they repeat themselves a lot. I am mentioning also the fact that there was no way for the player to save the game and this caused the game usually to be very repetitive. I can understand this better when I think about what kind of a deal it was to design and program a game in 1990s. So the game development methods weren’t as advanced as nowadays. Maybe someone should desing more new games for Mega Drive today?
The influence these games gave to the whole industry of game development is undeniable. The key to success inside space shoot-em-ups is to move to correct direction at correct time and shooting all of time and accurately. I can already see how programmers coded the behavior of the monster you are shooting. Often you can recognize the pattern. Then you move according to where you see you have the position that enables you to not get hit by a missile or any other particle that is headed at you. This can be fun. Nowadays you do see the limitations of the games designed in the past. Althought there is a lot to learn from these games. I definitely recommend you to play some shooter game like this. This game can be Zero Wing, M.U.S.H.A. or Gynoug but there are also other good ones.
Golden Axe II has been one of my favorite games that I used to play back in the 90s with my Sega Mega Drive. I didn’t own a copy. I borrowed this game several times from a friend. I played it. I played it a lot. Today I have a Retro Trio that can be used to play NES, SNES and Mega Drive cartridges. So, some time ago I figured that I definitely should get a copy of this great game. Finally I made the purchase and it wasn’t even a pricey game. I bought it for 30 euros.
Golden Axe II was released 1992 as a PAL version in Europe. You just have to admire how well this game was made. It is an old game. I think there’s just the right mixture of fantasy and realness. There are dragons, axes and swords, magic and different kinds of monsters. Graphics were good when the game was originally released and they still feel pleasant considering it is a retro game. Playability seems nice. It is a beat-em-up game but you still find a rich environment that includes lots of fantasy elements. This game could have even some role playing game features but I think it wasn’t a time for that kind of a game to be released back in 1992. I think this combination of action, adventure and roleplaying was reached later when games like Diablo became very popular.
I have always been a bit doubtful on fantasy and roleplaying. I haven’t got in to this kind of material so much. I like FPS and racing games more. I just like to concentrate fully on the game and get rid of my everyday worries and stress. So, games involving deep fantasy elements aren’t so appealing to me. I also find fantasy books not so interesting. Maybe some day I pick up one of those Tolkiens books and start reading it. You may like roleplaying, stories and fantasy elements. It just isn’t for me.
One thing I haven’t really written about here in this post is that the first Golden Axe was a kind of a pioneer in artificial intelligence of enemies. It was among first games that used this kind of programmable variety of different kinds of actions. You can clearly see these elements when you are playing also the sequel. In the beginning of the game you have to make your choice about which player you wish to begin your journey with. You have a hero with a powerful axe but not so effective magical attacks and a hero with a sword and very powerful magical attacks. And I think the third hero is something in between of these abilities.
I finished the game in the roughest difficulty setting with the hero that had a sword and more powerful spells. I finished the game in maybe two hours but you have to take into consideration that I have played this game a lot. It is still one of my favorites when there is a conversation about Mega Drive’s best games. It’s a bit sad that there hasn’t been a modernized version of this game. I think it has a lot of potential. I can clearly see it to be improved a bit. It would be so cool if someone would include some elements of character development when for example experience points would be gathered. The levels could be larger. And if graphics and sound effects and music could be updated that would be almost surreal. I have to mention one more time that the world that Golden Axe brings is very interesting and pleasant in all of its details. In every way it would be amazing if a proper remake of this classic would some day be made.
Who remembers this classic beat-em-up called Streets Of Rage? It had a strong impact and was very popular so I think most of us, at least ones that played games back then, remember it well. It was originally released on Sega Mega Drive at beginning of nineties. In Japan the game was called Bare Knuckle. Action takes place in city that is covered with aggressive criminals that are being led by evil mastermind named Mr. X. Your mission is to fight your way to this boss and end the misery. First game of the series was released in 1991 and third one in 1994. I played most the second game that I still have in my collection of Mega Drive games.
The idea of this post was basically to reminisce about these retro pieces but also to consider if it would be worth it to get your hands on the upcoming release of Streets Of Rage 4. Judged by the trailer it has completely new graphics. They aren’t so pixelated and they seem like they were drawn by hand. Music of this game has been re-made also but you have an option to change background music to original. Game is released on PS4, PC, Xbox One and Switch.
I have memories, mostly happy ones, about playing part two of this beat-em-up game series. It was actually my brothers game. He had an eye for beating guys up virtually and I got to play this game also with him. We ended arguing and fighting since we hit each other in this game as we played in co-operative mode. It happened also a few times as I played with a friend. The game was aggressive and I think I took the game too seriously as a kid. Today I wouldn’t start such an argument or at least I think so.
Graphics were nice, gameplay was very good and soundtrack had plenty of electronic rhythm and melody in it. You have to consider that these games were released as Sega Mega Drive games. If I could change something it would be the controller. But I think that issue is solved today since I bought 8BitDo’s wireless Mega Drive controller a while back. I have to remember to write a post about that also when I have time.
I liked these games and they gave me a lot as I was a young gamer starting slowly to grow up. We will see if the remake comes close as a fighting game and if it does honor to the name of this game series. And if it doesn’t we’ll always have our retro Mega Drives, Classic Mini and not-so-legit emulator versions of this classic and classic is a perfect word to describe Streets Of Rage.