Running Battle

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Not much can be found on the internet about this game, except that it was developed by Opera House in 1991, famous for porting to home consoles from Arcades like Midnight Resistance, Rastan Saga 2, and Captain America and the Avengers. Those games were somewhat decent at least. ~David Kudrev

Running Battle

The SEGA Master System 2 was the first home console I’ve had. It was a new experience in gaming for me as I was used to the arcades and Game & Watch games prior. I still don’t remember why we went for the Master System over the NES at the time. Might be the cost factor, as I did enjoy the games on the NES at the department stores when trying out which home console to go for. Although one thing about the Master System, was even though it had a large library of games, a lot of them were quite bad. This is one of the worst. Enter Running Battle.

Running Battle for the Sega Master System - Gameplay Screenshot

Not much can be found on the internet about this game, except that it was developed by Opera House in 1991, famous for porting to home consoles from Arcades like Midnight Resistance, Rastan Saga 2, and Captain America and the Avengers. Those games were somewhat decent at least..

Running Battle for the Sega Master System - Gameplay Screenshot

So the storyline in short: The Dark Zone, which is the name of your town, has been taken over by gangs and crooks, you play as Detective Gray, a cop who’s partner was gunned down by said crooks, and you’re avenging the death of him by plummeting yourself into 5 levels of fighting through monotony and cardboard cut-out characters to defeat “M”, the big boss of said town.

Running Battle for the Sega Master System - Gameplay Screenshot

Okay, first off, the graphics are what you’d expect from a game on the Master System. Simple, yet effective for the given hardware there (granted I’ve seen decent graphics pulled off nicely on a Master System, I mean look at Sonic Chaos for example, or Fantasy Zone even! They’re very colorful games, Running Battle tends to go for blander colors.

Running Battle for the Sega Master System - Gameplay Screenshot

The music in this game is the only thing that shines, when I first hired the game in 1991 and sat there playing it. The music was what stood out. Oh sure forget that this game has horrible animation in the characters, kind of like waddling a piece of cardboard across the screen, except cardboard doesn’t flicker/disappear when moving..

Running Battle for the Sega Master System - Gameplay Screenshot

Forget that the collision detection in this game is beyond arse.. as in you can’t even get close enough to the thugs with your fists or kicks. Thankfully you do get some power-ups, like a pistol, rifle, super strength (one hit and the thugs are dead.. if you get close enough to hit them), and then there’s 5-second invincibility.

Running Battle for the Sega Master System - Gameplay Screenshot

And forget the storyline and character development, you just fight 5 bosses, defeat the end boss and then greeted to a one-screen, one sentence, one picture end sequence.

I honestly don’t know what happened when this game was developed, whether it was meant to be a tax write-off? There were some great titles in that time on the Master System (Sonic 1, Asterix, Strider, Castle of Illusion) as well as it’s other competitive consoles (Battletoads and Star Wars on the NES).

Running Battle for the Sega Master System - Gameplay Screenshot

If you see this game in the stores, grab it for the music. But don’t expect anything to pull you in and keep you playing for hours on end..

1.5 out of 5

Pros:
– Music
– A great party game to piss friends off with

Cons:
– Graphics and animations are bland (and at the time other games did better)
– Controls are way too hit-and-miss
– Not much in the way of story

Interstate ’76

Interstate_76

Interstate ’76

Oh yes, A lot of people that know me, tend to forget that I was once deeply involved in what I consider to be the dark ages of my gaming journey. The PC-gaming era.. It wasn’t all bad, it started great with the DOS/Windows 3.1 era where I didn’t have to worry about performance of games or anything, as I was still getting used to the simple factor of console gaming (I sold my SNES to put towards a 486 DX4 100Mhz with 8MB RAM, a 1MB video card and 540MB storage 1995), all I had to worry about was fuffing around with autoexec.bat and config.sys.

Interstate_76

As soon as Windows 95 came out and changed the way we played games on the PC, especially when developers started to make games to run in Windows, it was saying goodbye to command line interfaces, and hello to icon-doubleclicking. Interstate ‘76 was one of many titles which will always remind me of the better times of PC gaming. Even though I was trying to run a game which required a Pentium 90 with 16MB RAM.

Interstate_76

i76, released originally in 1997 was based on the same game engine used in Mechwarrior 2, which was yet another classic DOS series.

Interstate_76

The game is set in the mid 1970’s where there was an oil crisis in the United States. You play as Groove Champion, the main antagonist (who is set out to find out who killed your sister), alongside with your partner Taurus and the mechanic Skeeter. The story unravels more to find that the villains have a plot to destroy the main oil supplies across the US and Groove alongside with Taurus have to stop them.

Interstate_76

As I said, i76 is based on the Mechwarrior 2 engine, meaning you drive around in 70’s muscle cars armed to the teeth with guns/missiles/etc, with full customisation on what weapons are used as well as the working condition of them (as you get to salvage car parts from missions after destroying enemy vehicles).

Interstate_76

If there was one thing I was fearing before getting this game as of late, as well as back in 1997, was how on earth was I going to control a car with a keyboard? Well I was actually quite impressed with the controls considering that a keyboard is digital and well steering wheels generally are analogue. No, the controls are great in this game, I’m really impressed. Graphics were typical of what to expect from the late 90’s as shown below in the screenshots:

Interstate_76

The cutscenes are minimalistic yet adding a style which works for such a game.

Interstate_76

And the soundtrack is amazing, composed by Arion Salazar, who of course is the founding member of Third Eye Blind. Very funky and a strong 70’s feel to the music. Here’s an example of the Title song:

Interstate_76

The Nitro pack, which is the mission pack that comes with the i76 pack you get from GOG, puts you back further in time where you play as Taurus and Skeeter alongside Groove’s sister Jade before she was murdered, and in this mission pack it focuses more on the many auto-gangs in the desert.

Interstate_76

Considering the amount of levels you get, the customisability of your vehicle (for single player AND multiplayer), to get the Interstate ‘76 Arsenal pack for US$6.00 is, well.. there’s no excuses to not add this to the collection once again. This is a fantastic re-port of a classic Windows 95 title, which now works on XP, Vista and Windows 7 also. For this review, I ran i76 on VMware Fusion for OSX in a Windows XP Virtual Machine. End result was perfect and performance was not an issue on a 2GHz+ iMac.

R-Type Dimensions

r-type-dimensions

If there was one thing I would not expect to do on a next-gen console, is to play games from the older generation. Boy was I wrong! Even though I do own a SNES and a Master System 2, I still happily play old and new titles on my Xbox Classic, the 360 and the Wii. The 360 and the Wii offer access to their exclusive online stores, and amongst the titles on there are a lot of old games from the older consoles. With that said, a lot of companies lately are remaking classics (and doing quite a faithful job of it as well!) Enter R-Type Dimensions.

r-type-dimensions

My past experiences with the R-Type games weren’t overly immense. A brief stint at a Timezone in Sydney back in the 80’s , the rental-to-almost-purchase on the Master System 2 in the early 90’s, and a sequel on the SNES (R-type 3). A frustratingly hard game? Some could say that, but I’ll go with exuberantly challenging. For those who don’t know what R-Type is, it is a side-scrolling shooter, think 1942 but with a side-on perspective. The storyline is that there’s the evil Bydo empire invading the universe, you are a pilot of a small ship sent to stop this evil.

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Okay, not much to it really, but this is the kind of game, where the storyline doesn’t mean a thing, and gameplay is where it matters. R-Type Dimensions is a faithful remake to the original game on the arcade. The graphics have been enhanced to a more modern (3D) feel, and I’ll be honest, they (IREM who were the original creators of R-Type, Tozai, and SouthEnd) did an amazing job of keeping the remake faithful to the classic, also by including an option to swap between HD and Classic graphic mode flawlessly, as the High-def visuals were rolled over onto the originals (Plural, yes, it includes R-Type I & II).

r-type-dimensions

The game was, and still is very challenging, getting to the point that many levels can not be passed easily unless you have 1-3 seconds of invincibility after you die, and a new ship appears. You have multiple power-ups, one of them infamously is your satellite, which is mounted to the front or rear of the ship, and can be jettisoned at will and returned back to the front or the rear of the ship. With the usual speed-ups and missile power-ups, you will find interesting methods on attacking the hordes of enemies, and figuring out how to defeat each end-level boss without losing 50 or so lives.

r-type-dimensions

Speaking about the lives, there is also an infinite mode, meaning you have unlimited lives to plow through the game with. The challenge there I suppose is to see who can finish the game with the least lives. There is also a co-op mode which would be beneficial for plowing through such a hard game.

On the XBLA for 1200 Microsoft Points, some would argue that the price for title like this is questionable. R-Type Dimensions is definitely a title for those who appreciated the original on just about any platform since it’s release.

4.5 out of 5

Pros:
– extremely loyal remake to the original
– ability to swap between new and old graphics
– challenging

Cons:
– Price may be questionable
– Plenty of moments where you could lob your controller across the lounge room from frustration