My previous Mega Drive experience as blogged about wasn't succesful but I have many more games that I can try out. I have to give the Mega Drive the respect it probably deserves, it was popular after all. In Japan it never got more than a few percent market share (far behind Super Famicom and Pc Engine), but in the US it almost had 50% market share. Not sure about Europe.
Last week I made a second, serious attempt. I first plugged in my RGB cable, to get a decent picture, both for the playing experience and for the video quality. I started up Curse, a shooter that seemed decent and not too difficult.
The first problem soon appeared. My controller didn't work properly. I googled around and cleaning Mega Drive controllers seems to be one of the things every Mega Drive player needs to learn. Alright, I cleaned every single part of the controller and tried again. Now all the buttons worked well, but it still seemed like it had a will of its own. I tried a couple more controllers and cleaned them, with the same result. I have to conclude that Mega Drive controllers are more sensitive than other controllers I play with (Super Famicom, Famicom, Game Boy, and Saturn). Strangely, I seem to be the only one who has this problem. Could be that my hands have gotten so used to the other controllers.
The problem is that when I press up, the controllers often moves left-up. When I press down, it often moves left-down or right-down. Annoying, but hopefully I can get used to it and adjust.
As long as I don't have to move around much I could play Curse decently. If you get upgrades in Curse, the game seems easy. However, when you die and lose the upgrades, the game becomes impossible. I have read this being referred to as the Gradius-style.
However, in Gradius the level design is very well thought out. Every enemy and upgrade is there on purpose. It is like a harmonious symphony.
In Curse enemies and projectiles are simply thrown at you. Others may like it but to me the game feels uninspired. Below is a video I recorded with some gameplay from the first few stages. They are simple enough. My objective was to try and beat the game, but if you die on stage four like I did, you might as well reset.I tried a couple of times and made it a bit further each time before I died and practically had to restart. I restarted at around 12:30, played all the way there again, and continued the recording.
It reminds me a little of Dragon Spirit, which i have played on the Pc Engine. I also played it on Famicom ( you can see my comparison video here ). I actually prefer Phelios to Dragon Spirit. In Dragon Spirit, you move slower and the stages are very long. In Phelios, the stages are short and not too hard.
But this is another game with limited continues. If you have followed my blog, you may know that I don't like games with limited continues. Games with limited continues often rely on cheap tricks to kill you the first times you play an area, and they become a test of your patience more than of your skill.
This is a video of my second attempt. I had learnt the early stages by now, but had particular problem when all the horses attacked from behind (around 15 minutes into the video).
I don't think it's a particularly sophisticated game. The enemies are often just there to be shot down like a firing range, and you almost always start with the Option and two Speed Upgrades. They could have just given you that without upgrades. The game itself isn't too bad however. I wouldn't mind playing this more if I had to.
If you are a Mega Drive fan and you are thinking "what is wrong with this guy?", don't worry. I guess it will just take some time for me to get used to this console. I will try out more games soon. Have put aside Rambo III, Crack Down and Strider Hirou.