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    After the cult success of their 8-bit Master System, Sega decided to give gamers a taste of their arcade capabilities with a 16-bit console. Known worldwide as the Mega Drive but called Genesis in the US, it provided graphics and sound a couple of steps below their popular System 16 arcade cabinets. The Mega Drive/Genesis turned out to be Sega's most successful console.

    Mega Archive: Part XXXVII: From Ultimate Soccer to Super Baseball 2020

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    Mento

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    Edited By Mento  Moderator

    Welcome to the very last Mega Archive of 2023! It's not the last one for 1993, however, as we have only just reached the end of September and will be poised to start its fourth quarter whenever we next resume. A sobering thought: If I carry this feature into 2024 and maintain the current rate of ten Sega Mega Drive/Sega CD games per monthly update (give or take with the CD games) I'll only be done with 1993 once November rolls around again. The holiday season is no joke, especially not for a console near the peak of its popularity (though, oddly, November and December are relatively quiet for 2023...). 1994 will prove to be an even busier year, but after that the Mega Drive will began its slow decline as Sega switches focus to the Sega Saturn and most of the third-party support departs for the PlayStation. We're not at the summit yet but it's getting closer. Painstakingly.

    Anyhoo, this is a pretty promising batch-o'-ten even being bookended as it is by two of the most boring-sounding sports game titles ever conceived. We have a couple of Amiga platformers from my neck of the woods, a weird sumo manga tie-in, a very important debut for the fighter game community, a "IV" from a franchise I didn't even know had a "III", and two(!) games from the Mega Drive's not-so-secret weapon: Treasure. If that's not seeing the year off in style, I don't know what is. Well, sure, there's winning the lottery, or curing cancer, or achieving world peace, or finally beating my depression, or— none of these are related to old Sega tapes is my point, and thus not worthy of note.

    What is worthy of note is the Mega Archive Master Spreadsheet, found yonder. Here it is again. Had enough links? Of course you haven't.

    Part XXXVII: 471-480 (September '93)

    471: Ultimate Soccer

    No Caption Provided
    • Developer: Rage Software
    • Publisher: Sega
    • JP Release: N/A
    • NA Release: N/A
    • EU Release: September 1993
    • Franchise: Striker
    • Genre: Soccer
    • Theme: Soccer
    • Premise: Soccer
    • Availability: Big nope.
    • Preservation: At first, I was prepared to read about yet another dull Amiga-derived European soccer game—this Mega Drive port was exclusive to that region—but there's actually some deeply confusing naming history going on with this franchise, which is something that always piques my interest as an amateur video game archivist. This series is best known in Europe as Striker (it's a mystery why they dropped the famous brand for a region-exclusive port) and Ultimate Soccer is specifically based on the original game, first released on Amiga, Atari ST and PC in 1992. The series then saw two more sequels and/or remasters which skipped Sega systems and hit the SNES, as World Soccer 94: Road to Glory (#2) and Elite Soccer (#3) respectively, before returning to the Mega Drive in 1995 as simply Striker (which is actually #4 in the series and not #1, since that's this game). Truly bizarre, if not quite to Wonder Boy levels. Anyway, the PC soccer franchises at the time were in an arms race to have the most content in them, so there's a somewhat impressive sixty-four international sides available here albeit with the player names changed due to the usual licensing limitations. One big feature of the series is being able to change camera angles when viewing the pitch, something much easier to do on SNES with its Mode 7 capabilities which may explain why the series jumped over there after this entry. Sega seemed kinda taken with this game though: they allowed Rage Software (making their Mega Drive debut here) to cameo Sonic throughout the game's UI.
    • Wiki Notes: There's probably enough tweaks to necessitate a separate page from the original Striker so I've worked on the one we have already rather than merging it. Usual influx of screenshots and text.

    472: Wiz 'n' Liz

    No Caption Provided
    • Developer: Raising Hell
    • Publisher: Psygnosis
    • JP Release: N/A
    • NA Release: 1994-01-06
    • EU Release: September 1993
    • Franchise: N/A
    • Genre: Platformer
    • Theme: Amiga Platformer, So The Theme is Mostly Gradient Fills for Backgrounds and Confusing Level Design
    • Premise: Two magic-users, Wiz and Liz (short for Wizard and Lizar- wait, that can't be right), must rescue a legion of rabbits in this cutesy platformer.
    • Availability: You'd have to ask Psygnosis, which is part of Sony now. Wiz 'n' Liz for PS5 when?
    • Preservation: Wiz 'n' Liz feels like another one of those Mega Drive platformers that must've perplexed many of its players, especially those in the US unaware of how chaotic and inexplicable Amiga platformers can be, but one could argue that its gameplay core isn't too distinct from Sonic the Hedgehog. For one, you're rated on your alacrity, whizzing (or lizzing (ew)) around levels hunting for letters to cast the spell to make rabbits (sorry, wabbits) appear and then sweeping said bunnies up before a time limit expires. You very rarely attack anything: the game is about quickly rescuing the rabbits in distress rather than stopping to throw fireballs around. The exception are the boss fights that end each "block" of levels. The game has a semi-non-linear approach where you can skip ahead to the tougher levels, like in Lemmings (which make a cameo here, along with other Psygnosis properties), so you can always jump around the level order a bit to see different parts of the game in a new playthrough. This would be our second game from Raising Hell after Fatal Rewind [Mega Archive XIII]: afterwards they were asked to change their name by Sega, probably feeling the heat from some concerned moms, but Raising Hell never did release any more Mega Drive games after this. They then became Bizarre Creations, best known for Project Gotham Racing and the related abstract shoot 'em ups Geometry Wars.
    • Wiki Notes: Didn't need to edit much. Turns out I worked on this page years back for a GDQ-related project.

    473: Aa Harimanada

    No Caption Provided
    • Developer: Megasoft
    • Publisher: Sega
    • JP Release: 1993-09-03
    • NA Release: N/A
    • EU Release: N/A
    • Franchise: Aa Harimanada
    • Genre: Sumo
    • Theme: Honorable Man-Grappling
    • Premise: Newcomer Harimanada rocks the sumo world with his flagrant disrespect for the profession, arrogantly claiming that he'll either break the current winning streak record or immediately retire on the spot. Can the seasoned pros put him in his place? Be a pretty short arc if they did.
    • Availability: Nope, licensed game.
    • Preservation: Aa Harimanada, sometimes styled as Aah! Harimanada, was a long-running '90s sports manga that became an anime for a two cours season in 1992. Some video games based on the anime soon followed, with the Mega Drive game actually based on a slightly earlier Game Gear adaptation. I couldn't tell you the first thing about sumo but the game's graphics are pretty decent, capturing the cartoonishly exaggerated swagger of the anime's take on Japan's Thiccest Athletes™. I'm fairly sure this is the system's only sumo game, unless you count E.Honda in Street Fighter. This would also signal the end of Megasoft: the company was founded after Sega absorbed Santos and its employees were soon reorganized into other internal divisions, this game actually releasing after that dissolution occurred. I'm picturing an empty office with tumbleweeds rolling through that has "Congratulations on the release!" decorations set up everywhere. Man, now I just made myself sad.
    • Wiki Notes: Just some text and extra info. The Game Boy game sounds like a separate affair so that might need to be separated into its own page someday. Whenever I get around to doing the Game Boy library, I guess (so, never).

    474: Gunstar Heroes

    No Caption Provided
    • Developer: Treasure
    • Publisher: Sega
    • JP Release: 1993-09-10
    • NA Release: 1993-09-09
    • EU Release: 1993-09-10
    • Franchise: Gunstar Heroes
    • Genre: Runstar-and-Gunstar
    • Theme: Color-coded Superheroes Packing Heat
    • Premise: The evil machine god Golden Silver was once defeated by the Gunstar family but has been reborn thanks to the machinations of Colonel Red and his army. It's time for the Gunstars to shoot a whole bunch of people again. (Meanwhile the Knifestars sit at home waiting for the phone to ring.)
    • Availability: It's on Steam. It's also part of the Genesis Classics compilation and on the first Genesis Mini.
    • Preservation: Man, what a privilege it is to talk about a game like Gunstar Heroes on here given the usual dreck I have to deal with. Treasure didn't just burst out of the gates with this debut but exploded them, creating a Contra style shooter with imaginative boss fights, a combination weapon system that encourages experimentation, and anime personality to spare. Even with heavy competition from Contra: Hard Corps and the Metal Slugs, Gunstar Heroes remains my favorite 16-bit game of its type and one that never stops throwing new ideas at you: without Gunstar Heroes I doubt something like Cuphead, itself overflowing with novel boss fight encounters, could exist. After this, Treasure—which was established by former Konami staffers—would drop a series of critical (if not always commercial) successes on the Mega Drive, the Saturn, the Dreamcast, and other non-Sega systems besides. I'm looking forward to covering all six of their Mega Drive offerings on here eventually, the second of which is just a little further down this entry.
    • Wiki Notes: As might be expected, the page was perfectly fine as-is.

    475: Mortal Kombat

    No Caption Provided
    • Developer: Probe Software
    • Publisher: Arena Entertainment
    • JP Release: 1994-05-27
    • NA Release: 1993-09-13
    • EU Release: 1993-09-13
    • Franchise: Mortal Kombat
    • Genre: Fighter
    • Theme: More Visible Ribcages Than Paris Fashion Week
    • Premise: The Outworld wishes to conquer Earth with its monstrous armies, but first it has to beat (in a fair fight) a movie star, a ninja that throws snowballs, and an Australian guy with no depth perception.
    • Availability: The Mortal Kombat Arcade Kollection from 2011 might be the last time the first MK was commercially available. If you can't buy the first Mortal Kombat any more, just buy Mortal Kombat 1 instead. Don't look at me, I didn't number them.
    • Preservation: Ed Boon's and John Tobias's paean to hastily-sketched comic book characters in the margins of middle-school textbooks the world over took on a massive life of its own after impressing arcade-goers with its extreme violence and digitized actor sprites, quickly replacing Street Fighter in the hearts of many an edgelord teen looking to escape the house for a few hours while their drunken abusive stepdads were spoiling for some mortal combat of their own (I'm sorry, I don't know why this got so dark so quick, I'm trying to fix it). The console versions made by various Acclaim labels were warmly received but most underwent some heavy content moderation to protect the innocent, even if it still amounted to a massive government witch hunt despite best efforts to sanitize everything. The Genesis, fulfilling its game industry role as the cool uncle that would slip you a beer as long as your mother never found out, shared the Nintendo and the SNES's draconian censorship but allowed players to sidestep it with the infamous "Blood Code" of ABACABB, after the Genesis album of the same name (what better way to appeal to the youths than with Phil Collins?). Kinda like when you buy a cheap DVD player and input the all-regions unlock code that was unsurprisingly easy to find. Personally, I never cared for Mortal Kombat even being at that age where murdering a defeated and now-helpless human being was the coolest thing imaginable, but I will admit that it's done some intriguing things with its causality-bending lore over the years. Having the setting be an extradimensional fighting tournament filled with demons and centaurs and god knows what meant later games could get real crazy with their character designs, even if they tended to fall back on "ninja but this time we found another color in the palette wheel" more often than not.
    • Wiki Notes: Hey look at that, another famous game where I don't need to do anything for its wiki page. I'm just going to "get over here" to my couch and take a snooze instead.

    476: Nobunaga's Ambition / Nobunaga no Yabou: Zenkokuban

    No Caption Provided
    • Developer: Koei
    • Publisher: Koei
    • JP Release: 1993-09-15 (as Nobunaga no Yabou: Zenkokuban)
    • NA Release: January 1994 (as Nobunaga's Ambition)
    • EU Release: N/A
    • Franchise: Nobunaga's Ambition
    • Genre: Strategy Sim
    • Theme: Sengoku To The Polls
    • Premise: Nobunaga's ambition was of course to unite 16th century Japan under his martial rule. However, his secret ambition was to become the best underground dancer in the Downtown district. Will his raw and experimental moves win over the streetwise breakin' community, or is he not real enough?
    • Availability: Nobunaga's Ambition: Awakening came out just last year. If you don't mind that it's not in English, you can also buy the PC Nobunaga's Ambition: Zenkokuban from Steam directly.
    • Preservation: Koei's deep strategy sim and unconventional cure for insomnia Nobunaga's Ambition had sort of a weird journey on the Mega Drive. The first game in the series to hit the system was actually its fourth entry, known in the west by the somewhat ominous name of Nobunaga's Ambition: Lord of Darkness [Mega Archive XV], due to it being a relatively recent debut at the time. A couple years later, we now see the second game—Zenkokuban, which means "country-wide edition" owing to its inclusion of all fifty Japanese provinces—see a Genesis release as well. Most English versions simply call it Nobunaga's Ambition with no subtitle since it was the first to be localized. The Mega Drive will see one more of these in 1994, but only in Japan: Nobunaga no Yabou: Haouden, the fifth game in the series. I wish I had something more interesting to impart, but then true Odabros already know where it's at with this series. They're just nodding their heads going "Hell yeah, Zenkokuban! I'm horny for Owari, gettin' ecchi for Echizen". This is why I don't talk to those people.
    • Wiki Notes: Real minor data entry stuff. This was a SNES double-dip on top of being an already famous enough page.

    477: Gauntlet IV

    No Caption Provided
    • Developer: M2
    • Publisher: Tengen
    • JP Release: 1993-09-17
    • NA Release: October 1993
    • EU Release: November 1993
    • Franchise: Gauntlet
    • Genre: Action / Antagonizing Other Players
    • Theme: Top-Down Malnutrition Sim
    • Premise: Red Wizard is about to die. Green Elf shot the food. Yellow Valkyrie is just chillin'. Blue Warrior is contemplating the increase in house insurance premiums for the next fiscal year, and what that might mean for his new loft extension.
    • Availability: I think the most recent release of the original Gauntlet, if you don't include those Atari joystick toy things that connect directly to a TV, was part of the Midway Arcade Origins compilation from 2012.
    • Preservation: Gauntlet IV is a bit of a misnomer because it's really just an enhanced port of the original Gauntlet. Theories abound that it was named IV due to some vaguely non-canon Gauntlet IIIs floating around, or maybe the IV in the title simply refers to the fact that it supports four players (uncommon for Genesis games and so maybe worth highlighting), but it's just some Gauntlet-ass Gauntlet at the end of the day. First released in arcades in 1985 by Tengen's owners Atari Games, Gauntlet was an inveterate quarter-muncher that lacks that "one more play" charm in its home ports, so instead just comes off as vindictively punitive as hordes of monsters descend upon you to drain your HP with every activated trap or tight corridor encounter. Still, even if you're all having to share the consumables I bet it's probably more doable with four players than going the gauntlet alone. I believe this is also our first M2 game: these guys were a new studio at the time that got their start porting arcade games like Gauntlet, and some three decades later they're now one of the most well-regarded companies for emulating older games on newer platforms. Sega themselves have maintained a close relationship with them: they were behind most of the Sega games on Nintendo's various Virtual Console platforms as well as that 3D-enabled range of Sega arcade classics on 3DS. The Sega Genesis Mini was them too, or at least the software half.
    • Wiki Notes: It is just an enhanced port of Gauntlet but the numeral makes taxonomy tricky. Plus it has a bunch of new modes and new music, so it's not like a direct copy. Better to leave it as a separate page. I added the other releases but that's mostly all.

    478: Fantastic Dizzy

    No Caption Provided
    • Developer: Codemasters
    • Publisher: Codemasters
    • JP Release: N/A
    • NA Release: December 1993
    • EU Release: 1993-09-21
    • Franchise: Dizzy
    • Genre: Adventure/Platformer
    • Theme: The Peak of Amiga Platformers
    • Premise: Dizzy's an egg that goes on adventures. In this case, he's making his debut on the Sega Genesis too. Now audiences the world over can be mystified by these weird, tough hybrid games.
    • Availability: Sadly, Codemasters is too busy making boring racing games to revive the Prince of the Yolkfolk. Maybe someday we'll get a remastered compilation. "Dizzy: Resurreggted".
    • Preservation: I've been pretty down on the Amiga platformers that made it to the Genesis—I think Jeff Gerstmann's distaste for the things rubbed off on me—but Dizzy's the one I refuse to budge on. I love this series and no amount of harsh retrospection and acknowledging its lesser placing in the wider world of quality retro platformers is going to change my tune. The quirk of this franchise is that it combines platforming that has some unfortunate rolling momentum (because he's an egg) after every jump with an inventory-based adventure game where you have to solve puzzles using the right objects, which can often mean carry stacks of items back and forth across its large open world. As a fan of both those genres, I would always eagerly anticipate a new Dizzy game back in the day even if I always ended up cheating to get around the draconian extra life limits. Fantastic Dizzy, the seventh game, is built to be a second introduction to the franchise owing to its status as the first to be released on consoles; to that effect, it copies story and puzzle elements from previous games and in particular Fantasy World Dizzy (after which it's partly named) and Magicland Dizzy. This is our second Codemasters game—the first being Micro Machines [Mega Archive XXXIV]—and they're two-for-two as far as I'm concerned.
    • Wiki Notes: Expanded the text and releases.

    479: McDonald's Treasure Land Adventure

    No Caption Provided
    • Developer: Treasure
    • Publisher: Sega
    • JP Release: 1993-09-23
    • NA Release: December 1993
    • EU Release: March 1994
    • Franchise: McDonald's
    • Genre: Platformer
    • Theme: Dietary Irresponsibility
    • Premise: Ronald McDonald finds a piece of a treasure map and, deciding he's not rich enough already, goes off to beat up the owners of the other pieces. The cutthroat world of fast food franchising in a nutshell.
    • Availability: Licensed game, but I bet McDonald's could commission Digital Eclipse to put together a pretty decent compilation of this and the Mick and Mack games if anyone cared enough.
    • Preservation: Our second Treasure game already. This and Gunstar Heroes releasing the same month definitely brings to mind a "one for them, one for us" sort of affair, where I imagine the sponsorship money from Burger Clown Inc. alone was enough to keep the development cycle of both this and Gunstar afloat like so many fatbergs drifting down the Thames. That said, it's not just an odious advergame: Treasure did some excellent work in the already surprisingly competent market of McDonald's licensed games with this platformer that has you, as Ronald McDonald himself, explore the lucrative Treasure Land to raise all the cash the company needs for the next big legal case that'll happen when some other idiot pours scalding hot coffee over themselves. Boiling bean juice isn't one of Ronald's weapons in this game though; instead, some malign sort has taught this dark jester some wicked sorceries with which to vanquish his foes. If you ever wondered what happened to Wimpy, well... legally McDonald's won't let me finish my original sentence but let's just say he didn't have to wait until Tuesday to pay for his sins today.
    • Wiki Notes: This page violated our Silver the Hedgehog Rule of Wiki Etiquette, i.e. "it's no 'You's". Second-hand person is and forever will be verboten. Still, that style rule wasn't around when many of these pages were first written so there's no point getting all antsy about it. Fixed that and added the other releases.

    480: Super Baseball 2020 / 2020 Nen Super Baseball

    No Caption Provided
    • Developer: NuFX
    • Publisher: Electronic Arts
    • JP Release: 1994-03-04 (as 2020 Nen Super Baseball)
    • NA Release: October 1993 (as Super Baseball 2020)
    • EU Release: 1993-09-24 (as Super Baseball 2020)
    • Franchise: N/A
    • Genre: Baseball
    • Theme: Future Sports in the Far Off Year of 2020
    • Premise: If people are up in arms about trans athletes now, wait until they start introducing robots and cyborgs to Major League Baseball. Sadly, there'll still be way too many people obsessed with their genitals too.
    • Availability: Hamster's Arcade Archives has you covered, with ports of the original arcade game for PS4, Xbox One, and Switch.
    • Preservation: Anyone wondering if this is the Genesis robot baseball game then, yes, you are correct. Were you living under a rock when MLB instituted the Robo Leagues three years back? Super Baseball 2020 is an SNK arcade game that took the flashy sensibilities of their fighter and shooter franchises and used them to gussy up that which was long thought to be intrinsically un-gussy-uppable: professional baseball. Little did they know that we'd all be dying of a respiratory epidemic in 2020 instead of celebrating our electronic star athletes, but this game makes us long for an alternative future where we were lining up for seats in the Cyber Egg Stadium to watch literal homerun-hitting machines make a mockery of our frail human physical limitations. Electronic Arts stepped in to work on this port commissioning one of their future EA Sports subsidiaries, NuFX, to help squeeze it onto a Genesis cart. Baseball was one of the few gaps in their line-up of annual sports games with unimaginative titles, so they must've been pleased to have this fall in their lap.
    • Wiki Notes: SNES double-dip, ending this month's update in languorous style. Besides some screenshots I barely lifted a finger.
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    Manburger

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    November and December are relatively quiet for 2023...

    This year has indeed been running in overdrive psycho mode but it does feel like it (comparatively) slowed down a bit at the end here, even if the faucet is still running. (the Game Mill is still churning? uhm hopefully not)

    Hey, Honorable Man-Grappler was my nickname in college!

    Also, where's my Gunstar Runner/Homestar Heroes mash-up?

    And hey, I don't know if the depression bit is mostly facetious or not, but I do sincerely hope you're doing well.

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    Mento

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    #2 Mento  Moderator

    @manburger: S'all good. Just me throwing dark again.

    The Homestar guys are back to making games (or at least commissioning same) so there's a chance we'll get a Homestar Heroes someday. Not a great chance, but I can dream at least.

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    Manburger

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    #3  Edited By Manburger

    @mento: Ah, great! Sorry, didn't mean to pry.

    And: heck yes, Dangeresque! All up ons!! I did play & enjoy that.
    I will also be holding out for a Hero. es.

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    eccentrix

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    Wiz 'n' Liz!!!

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