Author Topic: Sega Genesis launch review posted to Usenet August 29, 1989  (Read 3940 times)

Offline parallaxscroll

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Sega Genesis launch review posted to Usenet August 29, 1989
« on: October 09, 2017, 02:01:01 am »


   Well, it's finally here! About 10 days ago Sega released their
16-bit Genesis system in the U.S. Rather than go into detail about how
incredible it is, I'll just say that I ripped my Sega Master System
(from here on abbreviated SMS) apart. I think I might hang the circuit
board on the wall, mounted on a piece of wood with the words R.I.P.

   I don't know the technical details (all my sources give
different information), but I can say that the Genesis is capable of
games which are comparable to most arcade games, and far better than
anything dreamed of on previous game systems or even powerful
computers like the Amiga. The graphics are very close to the Amiga's
best (lo-res, of course), and the sound easily matches the graphics.
The digitized speech on the Genesis games makes the SMS's speech sound
like static on a TV, but it is still not quite as crisp as arcade or
Amiga speech. The scrolling is far faster and also smoother than the
best of the Amiga games. Just take a good look at Thunder Force II.
The Genesis is capable of many things which are normally only seen on
arcade games and a few Amiga games. One of the most obvious is
independently scrolling backgrounds. Altered Beast, for instance, uses

   The system itself is slightly smaller and more compact than
the SMS, and the cartridges are also smaller (although they hold more
memory). The controller (the system only comes with one, but a second
can be purchased for $18) is about twice the size of the SMS
controllers and very comfortable. There are 3 fire buttons and a start
button (also used for pause) in addition to the 8-way directional
button. There is a large expansion port on the side of the unit, and a
small extension port on back.  In front there is a stereo headphone
jack (which can stereo amplifier) and volume control. The Genesis
costs $190, and comes with one controller, the Altered Beast
cartridge, a 9V power supply, a few cables and connectors, and an
instruction manual which you don't need to read.

   The Genesis cartridges come in boxes which are the same
structure as SMS cartridge boxes, but they are much more colorful. The
back of the boxes show 3 screen shots. The cartridges themselves have
a full color picture on front (usually the same as the one on the
front of the box). The manuals are generally the same number of pages
as SMS game manuals, but are taller (6.5"). Although most of the
manual is in black and white, the cover is full color.

   The Genesis controllers use the same wiring configuration as
the SMS, Atari, and Commodore controllers. So you can use other
joysticks or pads on the Genesis, the only problem being that you
won't be able to use the third button and you won't be able to pause
(there is no pause button on the console).

   So far there are 5 games available besides Altered Beast:
Space Harrier II, Super Thunder Blade, Tommy Lasorda Baseball, Last
Battle, and Thunder Force II. I bought all of them except Tommy
Lasorda Baseball. I've been playing them for 6 days, and here's what I
think so far:

Space Harrier II

   This game can best be described as identical to the arcade
version, except that the 3-D scrolling is far more choppy, there is a
little screen flicker, the graphics and sounds aren't quite as good,
the levels and enemies are all different, there are 12 rounds instead
of 18 (you can select whatever round you want), and it doesn't cost a
quarter to play. Instead it costs $50 to buy, and I don't think it's
worth it when you consider that games like Thunder Force II are only
$5 more. However, when you consider that the Master System's Space
Harrier is around $30 to $40, the price of Space Harrier II seems a
little more comfortable. RATING: OK

Super Thunder Blade

   Like Space Harrier II, the 3-D scrolling in Super Thunder
Blade is a little choppy (but not as choppy as the Master System's
Thunder Blade). The levels are very similar, but the first scene in
each level is missing. The game is a little hard to control, and this
becomes very frustrating in the cave scene. The game does have its
good points though (flying through the city scene and blasting tanks
is kind of fun) and is probably a good choice if you don't mind choppy
scrolling. The game costs $50. RATING: GOOD

Altered Beast

   While the Genesis version of Altered Beast is a very good
game, it is certainly not "identical" to the arcade version like Sega
(and many game magazines) have continuously insisted. The graphics and
sound aren't as good, but most of the arcade features have been
preserved. The Genesis version can be played by two people
simultaneously, but that requires a second controller. As I mentioned
earlier, the Genesis version has four independently scrolling
backgrounds (in round 1), while the arcade version has only a single
background. Also, the images are not as large in the Genesis version
(but are even smaller in the SMS version). There is a little screen
flicker while the bosses are appearing, and the game has a few minor
bugs (for instance when the 3-headed wolves walk on the walls,
sometimes they appear to be floating slightly above it). But other
than that, it's a very good game. RATING: VERY GOOD

Last Battle

   A little repetative, but I still think Last Battle is an
excellent game. The control is similar to Altered Beast:
Punch/Kick/Jump. The graphics are very good, the sound is good
(although the effects are sometimes not too fitting: when you do a
flying kick, it sounds sort of like you're whipping a towel). The
game's best feature, however, is the "solid feel" of the game, the
"quality" which is missing from the previous 3 games. I've noticed
absolutely NO bugs or screen flicker (except that a few pixels were
misplaced in level 1). Another nice thing about it is that when you
complete a round, you can select to move to any adjacent round on the
map. There are four maps, one for each level, and each map contains 6
to 10 rounds. One round in each level is a so-called labyrinth (a very
simple maze). Above all, it's an enjoyable game if you like this sort,
and it's well worth the $50 it costs. RATING: EXCELLENT

Thunder Force II

   I've saved the best for last. Unfortunately, I don't think I
can describe how unbelievable this game is with mere words. As the
name suggests, the game is a space shoot-'em-up, but in this cartridge
the traditional concept has been taken to its extreme limits, and in
some cases, beyond. There are 9 rounds, alternating between top-view
and side-view perspective (the odd rounds are top-view, while the even
rounds are side-view). In the top-view rounds, there are many air
targets and land-based gun installations. You move your ship in 8
directions, and the screen scrolls in the direction you are flying.
The top-view levels are quite large, and "wrap" around in both
dimensions when you come to the edge (like the planet surfaces in the
SMS Phantasy Star). So if you fly in one direction, you will
eventually end up where you started. There are no ground barriers, but
there are floating barriers in the air. These scroll at double(?) the
speed of the ground (they scroll faster because they are "closer") so
you need fast reflexes to avoid crashing (just try level 5!).  These
barriers also wrap around in both dimensions, and this makes some of
the later top-view levels very confusing (level 7, for example). You
can hold many air-to-air weapons at the same time (you start with
"twin shot" and "back fire"). Weapons can be collected after
destroying the strange blue things in the top-view rounds and the
weird yellowish things in the side-view rounds. You can select any
weapon you have by pressing the "A" or "C" button. During the top-view
rounds, firing (the "B" button) will cause you to fire your air-to-air
weapon, and also shoot a shot toward the ground (which detonates a few
inches (screen inches) in front of your ship). In the side-view
rounds, you don't launch a ground shot. When you pick up a weapon, a
digitized voice (which you can sometimes actually understand)
announces the name of your weapon:

The side-view levels are even more outstanding. There are 2
independently scrolling backgrounds, but beyond that the backgrounds
scroll up and down when you move your ship in that direction! This
eliminates that irritating feeling that you are moving a fancy cursor
instead of flying a space fighter (I get that feeling when I play
R-Type). The graphics throughout the game are fantastic, and the sound
is simply incredible.

   I know I should try to point out the bad points, but the truth
is I can't really find much to say. I've seen a little screen flicker
during the bosses, and once or twice the program slowed down slightly
when the screen became more than 50% covered with enemies, but those
are just very minor complaints. I've seen arcade games slow down with
only a few enemies. There is also sometimes a VERY small amount of
flicker during the top-view stages, but it is almost invisible.

   Oh, yes. There are some defensive power-ups I forgot to
mention. There is the "Claw" (a small ship that rotates around your
own, absorbing any enemy shots it touches). Up to two of these can be
obtained.  There is a "Roll" which causes your Claw(s) to spin faster
for a limited time (which gives them a higher chance of touching an
enemy shot near you), and a "Breaker" (force shield) that makes you
invincible temporarily.  Besides the "Roll" and "Breaker", all the
power-ups are permanent until you get hit (at which time you blow up
and loose all your weapons, except "Twin Shot" and "Back Fire").

   There are so many things to say about this incredible game, I
forgot to mention how to pass a round. In the top-view rounds, you
have to locate the four major gun installations and trash them. In the
side-view rounds you need to waste the boss at the end. Sound simple?
It's not.

   Ignoring the boss flicker, Thunder Force II is BETTER than
most arcade shoot-'em-ups of this type, and it is even better than
Blood Money and Denaris (two of the Amiga's best games) although the
graphics are a little worse. But then again, I have a $700 monitor
hooked up to my Amiga, and I'm running my Genesis on a cheap TV, so
that assumption may be off.

   By the way, the game costs $55.

   I can get well into round 8, but I still have trouble passing
round 7 sometimes. Does anyone have any hints for easily locating the
four major gun installations in round 7? If anyone needs help with
rounds 1-6, or with any of the other Genesis games, just leave a


Great stuff from 27 years ago!

Offline Centrale

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Re: Sega Genesis launch review posted to Usenet August 29, 1989
« Reply #1 on: October 09, 2017, 11:12:38 am »
Great find! It wasn't until recently that I realized that the Genesis version of Altered Beast had parallax backgrounds and the arcade did not.

Offline pirovash88

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Re: Sega Genesis launch review posted to Usenet August 29, 1989
« Reply #2 on: October 10, 2017, 11:23:10 am »
This is a really cool find. $190 for a Genesis and controllers were only $18? Holy crap. Wish we were back at those days, not to mention it included a copy of Altered Beast.

I miss the days when bundles saved you money. Yeah i'm looking at you Mario Odyssey Switch Bundle..
Gamertag: Pirovash88 Twitch.TV/Pirovash88

Offline Berto

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Re: Sega Genesis launch review posted to Usenet August 29, 1989
« Reply #3 on: October 11, 2017, 02:14:45 am »
I didn't like shmup back then so when Megadrive' launching titles announced which most of them were shmups and platformers, it didn't interest me.
I'd rather play games on arcade centre.
For home playing, I was already satisfied with PC XT's DOS games.
And no, there was no "Genesis Does" catchy advert here in Asia.

I decided that Genesis is a must-have console only after they came up with the tagline "We Bring The Arcade Experience Home!" with games like Golden Axe, Moonwalker, Columns, Super Shinobi, and Alien Syndrome.
It's like that "We Bring The Arcade Experience Home!" tagline is intended toward arcade players like me and it worked.
Of course at first I didn't know that Megadrive's Moonwalker is a different game than arcade version but thankfully it's still maintain the same game atmosphere.

Offline parallaxscroll

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Re: Sega Genesis launch review posted to Usenet August 29, 1989
« Reply #4 on: October 18, 2017, 03:05:56 pm »
"We Bring The Arcade Experience Home" ad campaign happened first, in 1989.

The "Genesis Does" campaign started later, a few months into 1990.

At least here in the U.S. anyway.