Mega Archive: Part XXVII: From Puyo Puyo to T2: The Arcade Game

Another warm welcome to the Mega Archive, a chronological journey through the release library of the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive. Well, we finally got here. This is all that's left of 1992, and the end of the Mega Archive in its current form. That said, we will have one more Mega Archive CD coming sometime later this month before I put a cap on this whole endeavor for a long hiatus while I consider what, if anything, Mega Archive '93 will look like.

Some big "coffee cup dregs" energy as we finish off the handful of remaining games with firm December release dates and then tackle a whole bunch of titles where I couldn't find anything more specific than "it came out at some point in 1992, probably." This also includes the very last of Game Toshokan - downloadable games provided freely to subscribers of the Sega Meganet service, the Japan-exclusive precursor to the Sega Channel - and a few miscellaneous curios like one of the earliest online-only multiplayer games and a special rental-only version of Madden Football. We'll also see the system's first ever pachinko game in this entry, so that's... that's fun. That's the one with the balls.

All right, so there's not a whole lot of heat surrounding this particular set of mostly forgotten Sega detritus, but at least it's not wall-to-wall licensed platformers. I'll take it. And you can take these links to previous entries of the Mega Archive, if it pleases you:

Part I: 001-020 (Oct '88 - Dec '89)Part XI: 161-175 (Jul '91 - Aug '91)Part XXI: 311-320 (Sep '92 - Oct '92)
Part II: 021-035 (Dec '89 - Mar '90)Part XII: 176-190 (Aug '91 - Sep '91)Part XXII: 321-330 (Oct '92)
Part III: 036-050 (Apr '90 - Jul '90)Part XIII: 191-205 (Oct '91 - Nov '91)Part XXIII: 331-340 (Oct '92 - Nov '92)
Part IV: 051-065 (Aug '90 - Oct '90)Part XIV: 206-220 (Nov '91)Part XXIV: 341-350 (Nov '92 - Dec '92)
Part V: 066-080 (Oct '90 - Dec '90)Part XV: 221-240 (Dec '91)Part XXV: 351-360 (Dec '92)
Part VI: 081-098 (Dec '90)Part XVI: 241-255 (Jan '92 - Feb '92)Part XXVI: 361-370 (Dec '92)
Part VII: 099-115 (Jan '91 - Mar '91)Part XVII: 256-270 (Mar '92 - Apr '92)Part XXVII: 371-381 (Dec '92)
Part VIII: 116-130 (Mar '91 - Apr '91)Part XVIII: 271-285 (Apr '92 - Jun '92)
Part IX: 131-145 (May '91 - Jun '91)Part XIX: 286-300 (Jul '92 - Aug '92)
Part X: 146-160 (Jun '91 - Jul '91)Part XX: 301-310 (Aug '92 - Sep '92)

Part XXVI: 371-381 (December '92)

371: Puyo Puyo

No Caption Provided
  • Developer: Compile
  • Publisher: Sega
  • JP Release: 1992-12-18
  • NA Release: N/A
  • EU Release: N/A
  • Franchise: Puyo Puyo
  • Genre: Puzzle
  • Theme: Thinking 37 Moves Ahead
  • Premise: Beans, beans, the magical fruit. The more you stack, the more points you'll loot.
  • Availability: You can buy a version of it these days that also has Tetris in it. Seems like a good deal. If you want to stick to original flavor Puyo, the arcade version of this game was released on Switch.
  • Preservation: Oh hey, it's Puyo Puyo. A franchise that's been a staple of the competitive puzzle block-dropping genre for so long it's easy to forget that it must have started somewhere. That somewhere was the MSX2 and Famicom, but this expanded Mega Drive port turned up shortly thereafter and made Sega a huge amount of bank in Japan. Puyo Puyo was of course the basis of Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine in the west, but that game saw a number of tweaks in addition to its Sonic cartoon branding so it counts more as a sequel or remake (both of which get separate pages on the wiki) than a remaster. In case you've been sleeping under a pile of colored beans this whole time, Puyo Puyo began as a spin-off of Compile's cutesy Madou Monogatari RPG series and quickly eclipsed it. Puyo Puyo ingeniously took on the underdeveloped meta game for multiplayer Tetris and figured out a more competitive system, creating a game loop that is less about keeping your side of the field clear as the speed picks up but instead all about setting up - dominoes style - combos that can be triggered with a single drop; the more you demolish in one go, the bigger the chain and the more junk is thrown over to your opponent. (As for Madou Monogatari, there will be a Mega Drive port of that too. In 1996. Maybe don't hold your breath.)

372: Jerry Glanville's Pigskin Footbrawl

No Caption Provided
  • Developer: Developer Resources
  • Publisher: RazorSoft
  • JP Release: N/A
  • NA Release: 1992-12-18
  • EU Release: N/A
  • Franchise: N/A
  • Genre: Footbrawler
  • Theme: Football's Fine and All, but What if it Had Even More Concussions?
  • Premise: What if you staged a football game between knights, Vikings, and cavemen? Would they actually understand the rules, or just try to kill each other? This game inventively imagines the latter.
  • Availability: For some reason (I can think of several) this was never added to any of the Midway Arcade Treasures compilations.
  • Preservation: GDRI has an enlightening interview with programmer Kevin Seghetti that goes into his relationship with Punk Development and RazorSoft, and mentions Pigskin Footbrawl as the last conversion he did with that particular group of entities before cutting ties and moving on. The "Developer Resources" credit is actually all him and a few sub-contractors: it was a company he'd founded to create 16-bit developer tools rather than as a game developer label, but he used it for the few of the projects he worked on like this conversion of a C-tier (and presumably cheap to license) Midway arcade sports game. This behind the curtain stuff interests me far more than having to analyze or talk about anything football-related, even when the game in question doesn't really have a whole lot of football in it - it's mostly a violent free-for-all to get the ball to the endzone by any means possible, kinda laying down the groundwork for the likes of Mutant League Football. At any rate, I believe this is the last we'll hear of early Genesis provocateurs RazorSoft and Punk Development (though worth mentioning again that Punk's management had already left to form Iguana Entertainment by this point, and we'll be hearing from them many more times yet).

373: Pachinko Kuunyan

No Caption Provided
  • Developer: I.S.C.
  • Publisher: Soft Vision
  • JP Release: 1992-12-18
  • NA Release: N/A
  • EU Release: N/A
  • Franchise: N/A
  • Genre: Pachinko
  • Theme: Playing With Balls
  • Premise: Ren goes looking for her wayward father in Yokohama's Chinatown district, where he was last seen. Pachinko is involved.
  • Availability: Unlikely to see a long overdue localization unless they tie it into The Price is Right somehow.
  • Preservation: I have been unable to figure out what "Kuunyan" means. It could either mean peach oolong tea, a mother-in-law, or a rough Anglicism for "canyon." The mystery behind the name is probably more curious than the game itself, which has a typical structure found in many of the pachinko games available on rival systems the SFC and PC Engine: a sort of adventure/RPG framework that has you walking around pachinko parlors in a top-down view, setting up a story that can only progress once you've earned enough money putting balls through holes. I'm not sure why, but there's a very in-depth forum post about the game elsewhere on the internet that connected a lot of dots for me regarding the story and the progression. The game has a huge variety of parlors to visit and machines to play, dozens of hours' worth, with only its central mystery narrative motivating you to keep going. It even lets you zoom in on the machines to study the pin arrangements: bent pins and the like can make certain target zones easier or harder to hit. For as much as I was looking forward to some more JP Mega Drive exclusive weirdness, I'm glad this is the only pachinko game the Mega Archive will ever have to contend with.

374: Championship Pro-Am

No Caption Provided
  • Developer: Rare
  • Publisher: Tradewest
  • JP Release: N/A
  • NA Release: 1992
  • EU Release: N/A
  • Franchise: R.C. Pro-Am
  • Genre: Racing
  • Theme: I'm a Night Owl, so I'm More Pro-PM
  • Premise: You know what would liven up this remote control car race? If we gave them cruise missiles. Kids love cruise missiles.
  • Availability: The Genesis version hasn't been rereleased, but the original two R.C. Pro-Am games are featured on Rare Replay for Xbox One.
  • Preservation: We have our first ever Rare game on the Mega Archive! While they were a company very closely associated with Nintendo in the NES, SNES, and N64 eras they did briefly port a few of their NES games over to the Genesis as well as this single "original" game: a sequel to the isometric NES racer R.C. Pro-Am. It's also the Genesis debut of Tradewest, a one-time importer of Japanese arcade games that eventually got bought and absorbed into Midway's expansion into console gaming in the late '90s. We'll see Tradewest one more time this entry, and both several times more in 1993. I say this is an original game, but it's just R.C. Pro-Am with a facelift: they even left the vehicles as RC cars (as evinced by their antennae) and kept most of the same features including picking up junk on the courses that either improved your vehicle or gave you single-use weapons. The only major change is that the letters you collect to unlock new vehicles now say CHAMPION instead of NINTENDO. Still, sticking "Championship" on any new edition does make it seem cooler, so props to whomever was running Tradewest's marketing division back then.

375: Go Net

No Caption Provided
  • Developer: Aisystem Tokyo
  • Publisher: Sega
  • JP Release: 1992
  • NA Release: N/A
  • EU Release: N/A
  • Franchise: N/A
  • Genre: Go
  • Theme: Surprisingly Not a Soccer Game
  • Premise: So let me get this straight - if you have no-one nearby to play board games with, you can use a modem to play with someone hundreds of miles away instead? That'll never catch on.
  • Availability: If you want to pay through the nose for a defunct online game, "go" right ahead.
  • Preservation: The Mega Drive isn't new to online gaming - the "Tel Tel" series introduced the idea of playing simple games over a modem, and the Game Toshokan library of digital distributables had been around a while by now - but this is the first release dedicated solely to online gaming. As far as I can tell, there's no way to play Go on this unless you have a subscription and a modem to connect to others; it's more a key than a standalone product, like one of those free AOL CDs that clog the ocean floor to this day. Aisystem also released an equivalent product via PC systems, in case you didn't want to jump through the hoops of getting a separate modem peripheral for your Sega console, but I'm not sure if the two versions ever had cross-play. Now that'd be innovative.

376: Ikasuze! Koi no Doki Doki Penguin Land MD

No Caption Provided
  • Developer: Sega CS
  • Publisher: Sega
  • JP Release: 1992
  • NA Release: N/A
  • EU Release: N/A
  • Franchise: Penguin Land
  • Genre: Puzzle
  • Theme: Overly Eggsact and Eggscruciating
  • Premise: Drop a penguin egg - carefully! - down a shaft to the lady penguin waiting at the bottom.
  • Availability: As with most Game Toshokan games it didn't see a separate retail release, but the Master System Penguin Land has more features and perhaps presents the better option.
  • Preservation: Just two Game Toshokan games left to go and this is the first of them. It's another adaptation of one of Sega's older games, in this case the 1985 SG-1000 puzzle-platformer Doki Doki Penguin Land. It's one of those puzzle games like Sokoban where the premise is easy to pick up but the solutions to later stages are often so elaborate and precise you need to plan everything out before you even make the first move. The egg can only fall so far and by necessity must enter the next part of the level before you can, so it's not just making sure it's safe to land but will remain safe long enough for you to get down there and get it moving further down. A lot of lining up enemy patrols and floating platform patterns just right and then executing without a single error. And all this mental exertion for a game starring an adorable penguin who kicks his little feet in frustration when he messes up.

377: John Madden Football: Championship Edition

No Caption Provided
  • Developer: Blue Sky Productions
  • Publisher: Electronic Arts
  • JP Release: N/A
  • NA Release: 1992
  • EU Release: N/A
  • Franchise: Madden NFL
  • Genre: Football
  • Theme: Sometimes Madden isn't for Sale, Sometimes You Can Only Rent Him
  • Premise: John Madden's back with the greatest challenge of all - championship teams! Squads from past and present compete across time to become the ultimate... football... guys.
  • Availability: Unless you find yourself crashing through the roof of an early '90s Blockbusters like Captain Marvel, I don't think this limited availability game will be all that easy to track down.
  • Preservation: Remember what I said earlier about slapping "Championship" onto a game to make it cooler? Those Sega suits had it all figured out, man. I don't think the idea of a rental-only game was a novel concept even in 1992 - I want to say there were certain NES games in a similar boat that have since ballooned in value - but it does feel like a quick cash-in grab. Take John Madden Football '93, which was already doing gangbusters, and present a proverbial Malibu Stacy with a new hat (in this case, a version filled with historical NFL teams that could've easily been included in the original as a value add) that's only available in this rare, exclusive context. This sort of marketing cynicism could well be the origin point of EA's eventual status as industry supervillains.

378: Kiss Shot

No Caption Provided
  • Developer: Sega CS
  • Publisher: Sega
  • JP Release: 1992
  • NA Release: N/A
  • EU Release: N/A
  • Franchise: N/A
  • Genre: Billiards
  • Theme: How Dare You Ask Me to Kiss Sh- Oh, "Kiss Shot"
  • Premise: If you lost all your money to a guy named "Fats" and need some billiards practice on the cheap, Kiss Shot is here to underwhelm.
  • Availability: It's Game Toshokan, so unless you have a time-travelling Sega Modem it's probably gonna be hard to find.
  • Preservation: The final Game Toshokan game. I can't say I'll miss this little library of nondescript timewasters, but it is remarkable to think that we had a "downloadable" industry as far back as the early '90s with the same degree of size/budget disparity between them and the full price retail games available. Of course, that's been a thing forever with home computers and its shareware/freeware market, but at the time it was unheard of for a console to embrace that model of distribution and now every console does. Of course, none of the Game Toshokan games have proven to be worth writing about today (much less play) and Kiss Shot is no exception. As barebones as you can make a billiards game and hobbled with strangely long "CPU decision" load times between moves, Kiss Shot looks like a Side Pocket but sure as hell doesn't feel like one.

379: Pro Quarterback

No Caption Provided
  • Developer: Leland Interactive Media
  • Publisher: Tradewest
  • JP Release: N/A
  • NA Release: 1992
  • EU Release: N/A
  • Franchise: N/A
  • Genre: Football
  • Theme: Football
  • Premise: Football
  • Availability: Let's see... Leland Interactive was bought by WMS, which then sold that branch to Midway Games, which then sold that branch to THQ after going defunct, which then went defunct itself, so... THQ Nordic? Or the "Embracer Group" as it now styles itself. They'd be the ones to ask for a rerelease, if you can safely get in and out of their compound without being converted to the One True Path.
  • Preservation: Can't say Pro Quarterback really stacks up against what Madden was doing around the same time, especially given how much uglier it looks. A more dedicated football fan would have more points of comparison to make - how many teams, how many plays, and how since neither had the NFL license that maybe levels the playing field a little - but I suspect Pro Quarterback came and went without fanfare. Might explain why we don't have anything more specific on its release window (the SNES version came out in December of 1992 though, if that means anything). It's also telling that Tradewest couldn't find anyone in the NFL to lend their name to this thing, even though coach Jerry Glanville signed off on a tangential football game where Vikings and knights beat the shit out of each other.

380: Steel Talons

No Caption Provided
  • Developer: Polygames
  • Publisher: Tengen
  • JP Release: 1993-06-25
  • NA Release: 1992
  • EU Release: 1992
  • Franchise: N/A
  • Genre: Action / Simulation
  • Theme: Frames or Polygons? Can't Have Both
  • Premise: Steel Talons puts would-be aces through their paces as they train to join this secretive and elite squadron of helicopter pilots.
  • Availability: There's a lot of Atari arcade history left forgotten by its current custodians Infogrames, including many of their trailblazing 3D games like this one. This port probably doesn't need to be preserved though.
  • Preservation: Having run out of the easy Atari arcade games to convert, publishing label Tengen and frequent developer partners Polygames (who before now had been Sterling Silver Software - see Pit-Fighter (MA XIV) for the previous Sterling/Tengen collab) kept trying to get these 3D polygonal games to work on Genesis hardware with mixed results. Steel Talons, perhaps apropos for a game about helicopters, is extremely choppy. This is doubly deleterious when you consider that each of its scenarios score your efforts based on the amount of time taken. It's thankfully not super heavy into the flight simulation aspect - it was originally an arcade game after all - but it's evident the 16-bit console generation wasn't quite ready for polygonal dogfighting just yet. Well, at least not until February 1993 with the debut of Star Fox.

381: T2: The Arcade Game

No Caption Provided
  • Developer: Probe Entertainment
  • Publisher: Arena Entertainment (NA/EU) / Acclaim (JP)
  • JP Release: 1994-02-25
  • NA Release: 1992
  • EU Release: December 1992
  • Franchise: Terminator
  • Genre: On-Rails Shooter
  • Theme: A Shooter Based on the Only Terminator Movie Where No-One Dies from Getting Shot*
  • Premise: Skynet has sent another Terminator back through time to eliminate John Connor, and Connor has sent his own reprogrammed T-800 unit to protect his younger self and learn already outdated '90s slang.
  • Availability: Nothin' doin'. You'd think they'd put out a downloadable remaster for modern consoles to coincide with one of the many recent terrible Terminator movies, but maybe the film distributors didn't want people to remember a time when Terminator movies were good.
  • Preservation: Perhaps the best Terminator 2 video game, though that's setting the bar low, the arcade game was an on-rails shooter that spent most of its time in the future with adult John Connor (not the Edward Furlong one) blowing up hunter-killers and endoskeletons en route to Skynet's time-travel facility. The second half of the game follows the movie, though it does do something inventive with the Cyberdyne level: how well you do in destroying absolutely anything that looks like it could house an inchoate Skynet determines whether or not Judgment Day still happens. I suck at these light gun games so I didn't get too far, but even if the Genesis version couldn't scale sprites like the arcade and SNES versions could it's still not too bad a port. You can even use the Menacer light gun if you have one: T2's one of the few games to support it. The biggest hurdle for this game's wiki page - sorting out which of the T2 tie-ins was which - had already been sorted back when I encountered the SNES version, so thanks past me. Maybe I won't send a robot back to kill you.

(*except for, like, one rando tourist early on.)

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