The From A to Z series lets our editors go back and take a look at games from past generations that are classics, overlooked gems, or just titles they remember fondly. The idea behind this is to pick five games from each letter of the alphabet, once a week to showcase. This delivers 26 weeks and 130 games to talk about. Hopefully it sparks some conversation, and of course plenty of memories.
The third in our series focuses on Sega’s Mega Drive (Genesis in the US).
Let’s continue with the letters “T and V”.
Thunder Force IV
I’ve always loved a good side-scrolling shmup, and Thunder Force IV was one of the Mega Drive’s best. While it didn’t do much to necessarily differentiate itself from its predecessors (or other shmups), Thunder Force IV didn’t really need to – the ‘if it’s not broken, don’t fix it’ mantra applies just fine to this game. It had good visuals, fun weapons, great action and a thumping soundtrack – pretty much all of the ingredients required for a decent shmup.
ToeJam and Earl in Panic on Funkotron
Toejam & Earl are two of the most memorable characters from the Mega Drive era. Panic on Funkotron, the second title in the Sega-exclusive franchise, was quite the departure from the first Toejam & Earl game: the first adopted a 3/4 perspective, while this sequel was a side-scrolling platformer. A lot has been said about this switch retrospectively, but I personally loved the new approach. It didn’t stop the franchise from being cool and fun.
This side-scrolling platformer, based on one of the most iconic movies of the 1990s, is not the worst video game adaption out there. It sticks pretty close to the plot of the film, and the Mega Drive version has an extra stage compared to that of the SNES. The 3D- rendered visuals are easily the most noteworthy thing about this game.
For me Vectorman was quite a memorable Mega Drive protagonist. An ‘orbot’ responsible for cleaning up toxic waste on Earth (us humans have all left to colonise other planets), Vectorman finds himself in a scrap against another orbot (and his minions) who fancies himself as a bit of a dictator. The game utilises pre-rendered 3D models and as a result, the Vectorman character (composed, as he is, of multiple orbs) looks great, and there is an impressive level of detail throughout the (pretty large) game.
Virtua Racing was a bold attempt at developing a fully-3D game on the Sega Mega Drive. Looking at it now, it really appears quite bad. However, back when this game was released (which was towards the end of the Mega Drive’s lifespan), Virtua Racing was considered to be something of a benchmark as to what could be accomplished with the system. It gets an A for effort, really.
Tune in next week for the next collection of titles.