Mega Archive: Part XXII: From Batman Returns to Chase H.Q. II

Welcome back to the Mega Archive, which once again resumes after we took a little break for some Halloween festivities. I'm going to have to work on the next Mega Archive CD before too long and get that caught up, but until then we've still got (almost) the rest of the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive games released in October 1992 to process this entry.

The good news is that there weren't any new sports games released on the Genesis this month (which is odd, as Octobers are usually infested with them), but the bad news - or at least the "slightly less interesting to talk about" news - is that we're starting to see the first of the compilation packs. The rest include the usual mix of Amiga migrants (Amigrants?), shoot 'em ups, licensed games, and arcade conversions. Oh, and we also get into the peripheral biz a little bit and indulge our inner Austin Walkers with some mech anime. No big headliners this time, but there's some variety at least.

If you need to catch up with the Mega Archive, here's where we've been so far:

Part I: 001-020 (Oct '88 - Dec '89)Part IX: 131-145 (May '91 - Jun '91)Part XVII: 256-270 (Mar '92 - Apr '92)
Part II: 021-035 (Dec '89 - Mar '90)Part X: 146-160 (Jun '91 - Jul '91)Part XVIII: 271-285 (Apr '92 - Jun '92)
Part III: 036-050 (Apr '90 - Jul '90)Part XI: 161-175 (Jul '91 - Aug '91)Part XIX: 286-300 (Jul '92 - Aug '92)
Part IV: 051-065 (Aug '90 - Oct '90)Part XII: 176-190 (Aug '91 - Sep '91)Part XX: 301-310 (Aug '92 - Sep '92)
Part V: 066-080 (Oct '90 - Dec '90)Part XIII: 191-205 (Oct '91 - Nov '91)Part XXI: 311-320 (Sep '92 - Oct '92)
Part VI: 081-098 (Dec '90)Part XIV: 206-220 (Nov '91)Part XXII: 321-330 (Oct '92)
Part VII: 099-115 (Jan '91 - Mar '91)Part XV: 221-240 (Dec '91)Part XXIII
Part VIII: 116-130 (Mar '91 - Apr '91)Part XVI: 241-255 (Jan '92 - Feb '92)Part XXIV

Part XXII: 321-330 (October '92)

321: Batman Returns

No Caption Provided
  • Developer: Malibu Interactive
  • Publisher: Sega
  • JP Release: 1993-02-19
  • NA Release: October 1992
  • EU Release: November 1992
  • Franchise: Batman
  • Genre: Platformer
  • Theme: Dead Parents
  • Premise: Burton's second Batman movie saw a whole bunch of video game adaptations, most of which came from Konami and were fun. The Genesis game was an exception.
  • Availability: How expensive could re-licensing a Sega game based on a Warner Bros. film based on a DC Comics franchise really be, anyway? Probably cheaper now that Warner owns DC, but even so. Just get Rocksteady to make a new one.
  • Preservation: I've honestly gained a lot more sympathy for the makers of these quickie licensed tie-ins after all the detailed reports of rampant crunch in the industry and the deleterious effects it has on the quality of the games and the quality of the lives of the people working on them alike. Though it's been spotlighted more often of late, it's been ubiquitous in the industry for decades and usually never more so than with games that have a multimedia synergy deadline to hit (Batman Returns came out July '92 and was still in theaters by late October which, like pumpkins, is pretty much the best time to invest in Tim Burton). So with that in mind, while I will say the five minutes I spent with this game was all I needed, having Sunsoft create an appealing baseline of "side-scrolling platformer/brawler where Batman can use his gadgets to avoid having to deal with anyone" for the 1989 Batman game was probably a balm to a lot of these licensed game developers. Also, I think this game is the beefiest the Caped Crusader has ever looked outside of a Rob Liefeld sketch.

322: Death Duel

No Caption Provided
  • Developer: Punk Development
  • Publisher: RazorSoft
  • JP Release: N/A
  • NA Release: October 1992
  • EU Release: N/A
  • Franchise: N/A
  • Genre: FPS
  • Theme: Gory Robot Jox
  • Premise: In the future, interplanetary trade disputes are settled with giant rock 'em sock 'em robot fights. I suppose it'd be more fun to watch than Space Congress going through several months of Space Diplomatic Administration (though maybe not according to George Lucas).
  • Availability: A rerelease is not happening. I don't even know who owns RazorSoft's IPs these days. I'd like to think David Jaffe picked them up after recognizing a kindred spirit in middle-school edgelordery.
  • Preservation: Punk Development had long shut its doors and been reborn as Iguana Entertainment by the time RazorSoft put out this, the last of their collaborative works together. This wasn't quite the end of RazorSoft (as we'll discover shortly) but most of their output from here on out will be cheap arcade conversions rather than original IPs, developed with temporary contractors. Death Duel is... well, it's kinda like a crappier Battle Clash without the light-gun and with more gore. The developers made the bold choice to strictly limit your ammunition and force you to restock after every battle with what little earnings you made, which was what I thought was always missing from Battle Clash: having to stop mid-boss fight and start over because you ran out of lasers. RazorSoft's penchant for over-the-top violence is present and correct, as you literally tear your fleshy alien opponents apart limb from limb. The last hurrah from Sega of America's most grody associate.

323: LHX Attack Chopper

No Caption Provided
  • Developer: Electronic Arts
  • Publisher: Electronic Arts
  • JP Release: 1993-06-04
  • NA Release: November 1992
  • EU Release: October 1992
  • Franchise: N/A
  • Genre: Flight Sim
  • Theme: Boxy Whirlybirds
  • Premise: Take control of one of the US military's light attack helicopters, or an extremely blocky facsimile, in this port of a PC 3D combat simulator from EA.
  • Availability: The ironic thing about EA's Origin service is that it doesn't feature much of their earlier games. Then again, I'm not sure how many folks now would buy a helicopter sim that makes SNES Star Fox look sleek.
  • Preservation: Much respect as always for any Genesis port of a 3D computer game that tries its best with its limited hardware. In 1990, a high-end IBM PC was just about capable of running LHX with a moderate framerate; a Sega Genesis has no chance, and slowdown is your persistent wingman throughout this game. Still, we're also talking about a period of time - pretty much the entire decade of the '90s, now I think about it - where the novelty of 3D graphics was so appealing that people were willing to overlook a lot. Just look at Final Fantasy VII. Or Stunt Race FX. Or... what else can I burn here... eh, regardless, I think this is serviceable enough even if it dips into molasses territory so often it has a toll pass, and it gives you your choice of light attack helicopter including two models I'm not sure were featured in other games.

324: Menacer 6-Game Cartridge

No Caption Provided
  • Developer: Western Technologies
  • Publisher: Sega
  • JP Release: N/A
  • NA Release: October 1992
  • EU Release: November 1992
  • Franchise: N/A
  • Genre: Light-Gun Shooter
  • Theme: That Hot "Proof of Concept Tech Demo" Energy
  • Premise: Totally unlike any other 16-bit light-guns which may or may not have had a six mini-game pack-in compilation, the Sega Menacer is here with six games that only work with the Sega Menacer (or maybe a mouse, depending on what you're playing it on).
  • Availability: I'd hazard a guess that there are more working Menacer 6-Game Cartridges out there than there are working Menacers, so there's probably more supply than demand.
  • Preservation: Look, Sega was in an arms race in the early '90s and if your enemy came out with a stupid looking bazooka light-gun you better believe you had to manufacture one too. Far as I can tell, Western Technologies worked on both this game and the Menacer light-gun peripheral itself: we last saw them with Art Alive (MA XIV), but they were renowned tech wizards who at one point brought the Vectrex console into the world with the funding of General Consumer Electric. I can't say the mini-games are all that awe-inspiring, but there's a little more thematic variety here than there was in Super Scope 6, even if the presentation is nowhere near as slick. As was the case with Art Alive, Western Technologies managed to convince the ToeJam & Earl people to let them borrow their characters: Earl (the orange one) is the protagonist of the pack's third mini-game, "Ready, Aim, Tomatoes!".

325: Xenon 2: Megablast

No Caption Provided
  • Developer: The Bitmap Brothers
  • Publisher: Virgin Interactive
  • JP Release: N/A
  • NA Release: N/A
  • EU Release: October 1992
  • Franchise: Xenon
  • Genre: Shoot 'em Up (Vertical)
  • Theme: Like a techno remix of the theme to Assault on Precinct 13
  • Premise: Megablast your way through the innards of weird alien planets in this attractive but tough Amiga/Atari ST shoot 'em up.
  • Availability: This is wild, but apparently a homebrew version was published for the Atari Jaguar in 2016. Its creator was given the consent to release it by one of the original developers. That's as recent a release as you're likely to get.
  • Preservation: I'd go through the usual Bitmap Brothers spiel here - top-notch presentations belied middling gameplay, yet they still rated highly in every Atari ST/Amiga magazine of the day - but I already exhausted that vein back when we covered Speedball 2: Brutal Deluxe (MA XV). Xenon 2 is closer to what I had in mind when I say these games can be too flashy for their own good, as it's a vertical scrolling shooter with huge detailed sprites set in levels that have enemies swooping in from every direction that you can easily collide into, and the combination of all three of those things on a system with a 320x224 resolution does not make for a good time. The Genesis port also mangles the title screen music, which was the only highlight on the computer versions, and the framerate's especially lousy. I covered the Atari ST Xenon II in more detail over here somewhere, but it's not a sequel I ever had a whole lot of affection for and this lackluster port really isn't helping its case.

326: Triple Score: 3 Games in 1 / Mega Games I

No Caption Provided
  • Developer: Sega
  • Publisher: Sega
  • JP Release: N/A
  • NA Release: 1993-08-16 (as Triple Score: 3 Games in 1)
  • EU Release: 1992-10-01 (as Mega Games I)
  • Franchise: Mega Games
  • Genre: Compilation
  • Theme: Getting Those Pesky Europeans On Board
  • Premise: It's three games in one! What a savings!
  • Availability: Individually, Columns is available on Steam, Super Hang-On had an enhanced 3DS remaster (and the arcade version is playable in Yakuza 0 and Yakuza 6), and World Cup Italia '90 is an ancient sports game no-one needs to play in 2020.
  • Preservation: The first of the Mega Games compilations, I recently learned that this series was only a thing in Europe excepting this inaugural set that eventually made its way to the States as "Triple Score." Europeans got several more of these Mega Games compilations over the following year, but this first one was intended as a console pack-in for late adopters since I guess Sega had underestimated the European market and it proved more lucrative than they anticipated. This set features Columns (MA III), the Super Hang-On port (MA I), and World Cup Italia '90 (it's supposed to be World Championship Soccer for the US release according to the box art, but they got World Cup Italia '90 too) (MA I) as a sample of what the Mega Drive could do.

327: Chiki Chiki Boys

No Caption Provided
  • Developer: Sega
  • Publisher: Sega
  • JP Release: 1992-10-16
  • NA Release: 1993
  • EU Release: 1993
  • Franchise: N/A
  • Genre: Platformer
  • Theme: Gettin' Chiki Wit It
  • Premise: Monsters have invaded the kingdom of Alurea and only a pair of heroic twins can save the day... Oh, one of them couldn't make it? Darn.
  • Availability: Showed up in a few Capcom compilations for PS2, Xbox, and PSP, but nothing past that.
  • Preservation: Also known as Mega Twins, depending on where you played it, Sega couldn't really retain that name for the Genesis port because it's only single-player; a conversion fumble that had cost Nintendo dearly with the SNES Final Fight port a few years back that Sega was quick to seize upon with their emphatically two-player Streets of Rage. Kind of odd to see the same error come back full circle to Sega, as while Chiki Chiki Boys is as much a platformer as it is a brawler the cooperative multiplayer aspect was a major aspect of its appeal. The original arcade game was by Capcom, but I guess Sega felt it was close enough to Westone's Wonder Boy series - which Sega had published - that they felt they had to port it over themselves. Gotta corner the market on those melon-headed boy heroes (except for Hudson's Bonk).

328: Vixen 357

No Caption Provided
  • Developer: Masaya
  • Publisher: Masaya
  • JP Release: 1992-10-23
  • NA Release: N/A
  • EU Release: N/A
  • Franchise: N/A
  • Genre: Strategy
  • Theme: Robot Go Pew Pew
  • Premise: Vixen 357, which is not the username of a Tinder catfisher, has you unexpectedly field-testing the new VECTOR mech units after a sudden ambush by unknown foes.
  • Availability: Original cart only.
  • Preservation: Missed the Japanese-only Mega Drive games? Well, here's a deeply tactical strategy game with mecha for you by our good friends at Masaya. From its Wikipedia article, it sounds like some Front Mission plotting with Fire Emblem permadeath; the latter aspect, rather than allowing you to continue the game with those characters missing from cutscenes, simply hits you with a game over instead so you might have to play a little more defensively to keep the important named characters alive. Masaya also created the Langrisser/Warsong series so this is sort of game is entirely in their wheelhouse. It does have a fan translation for those interested in mecha strategy RPGs with anime cutscenes, and it sounded like we were close to also getting a localized physical version last year until those plans fell through.

329: Kidou Keisatsu Patlabor: 98-Shiki Kidou Seyo!

No Caption Provided
  • Developer: Ma-Ba
  • Publisher: Ma-Ba
  • JP Release: 1992-10-23
  • NA Release: N/A
  • EU Release: N/A
  • Franchise: Patlabor
  • Genre: RPG
  • Theme: Cops in Mech Suits, What Could Go Wrong?
  • Premise: Popular manga/anime Mobile Police Patlabor comes to the Mega Drive in this RPG from a Bandai subsidiary.
  • Availability: Original cart only. Outside of the '90s, the only place you're going to see Patlabor are in the Super Robot Wars crossovers.
  • Preservation: The mech games keep coming with this Patlabor tie-in RPG, apparently developed and published by the toyline's producers Ma-Ba (the result of a brief fusion dance by major US and Japanese toymakers Mattel and Bandai, originally established to sell Barbie dolls in Japan). Patlabor the manga/anime was about a near-future police division that used mech suits called labors to combat labor-related crimes, which were typically only used for industrial and construction work (hence "labor") and military purposes. I remember it was always a big deal in the show when a bad guy showed up in a sleek military labor that the heroes had little chance taking on face to face. Ma-Ba's an interesting anomaly we'll see with a handful more anime licensed games; it's weird, but I don't remember encountering Ma-Ba once while working on NES, SNES, or PC Engine pages despite a heavy Bandai presence on all three.

330: Chase H.Q. II

No Caption Provided
  • Developer: ITL
  • Publisher: Taito
  • JP Release: 1992-10-23
  • NA Release: February 1993
  • EU Release: N/A
  • Franchise: Chase H.Q.
  • Genre: Driving / Vehicular Combat
  • Theme: *KZZT* This is Nancy at Chase H.Q.. We've Got an Emergency Here!
  • Premise: What is the third game in the series, but is actually still just the first, Chase H.Q. II has a familiar batch of criminal scum to T-bone on a busy highway.
  • Availability: This "sequel" is Genesis cart only. If you want to drive into other cars at high speeds though, may I recommend the Burnout franchise?
  • Preservation: So yeah, this is once again the marketing geniuses working at early '90s Sega adding a "2" to every arcade conversion as if to say, "hey, this is more than just a home port with a few extra bells and whistles, it's a whole new game!" Why they couldn't just put "Mega" in front of everything like Nintendo was doing with its "Super" SNES ports I'll never know. This is really just original-flavor Chase H.Q. with the new feature of being able to choose between a number of vehicles, each with different settings of top speed and damage per hit. What's confusing, at least for wiki purposes, is that there are two other "Chase H.Q. II"s: the actual second game Chase H.Q. II: Special Criminal Investigation (maybe best known for having your partner shoot at dudes from the sunroof) and the arcade sequel Chase H.Q. II which appeared way later in 2007. I still gave it a new page on our wiki, but Taito's not making it easy for us data nerds.
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