Galaxy Force



Shooting in space, go!



The same, with our beloved black/white box pattern.



PUBLISHER: Activision (US), Sega (EU)


GENRE: Shooter



With four megs of power charging its engines, Galaxy Force was the best looking Super Scaler port at the time of its release, and certainly the speediest. Unfortunately, a decent framerate and relatively fast-paced action can’t hide the fact that Galaxy Force is a derivative space shooter, a lesser take on Sega’s earlier Super Scaler games.


Galaxy Force (U) [!]001

Like “Star Wars,” sans puppets.


You control a spacecraft of no great significance and guide it around four dangerous alien planets. The planets – a Green Planet which is less a planet than the depths of space, a lava planet, a jungle planet, and a desert planet – can be played and conquered in any order, which is great because the planets vary significantly in difficulty (screw that lava planet and its continuous fire showers). Your craft has two weapons, a red shot and a homing missile. The homing missile is stronger, harder, and better in every way, and with unlimited ammo for both weapons, there’s never a need to use the red shot. You also have a shield that displays how much damage you’ve taken. You can supposedly take sixteen hits, but I seemed to die with less than that. Basically, the more your shield is blinking, the worse you’re doing.


Galaxy Force (U) [!]003

The pure force of the galaxy… it’s too much!


The outer terrain of the planet is full of enemies that get up in your grill and occasionally fire homing missiles at you. As long as you button mash the fire button and move constantly around the planet’s surface, you’ll be fine. While Galaxy Force is an on-rails shooter, in the outer terrain portions, you’re given freedom to fly in a curve instead of simply straight ahead. But once you venture into the interior portions of the level, your mobility is limited. Walls surround you on either side and if you crash into them too many times, so long insignificant spacecraft. Occasionally, you’re given instructions to turn left or right. The instructions are given with plenty of time, but when the turn does come, the pseudo 3D wall design makes it difficult to tell if you’re turning at the appropriate angle.


Galaxy Force (U) [!]002

Kraftwerk was right: we’re living in a computer world and we’re all just computer girls.


Galaxy Force began its life as yet another one of Sega’s ostentatious arcade cabinets. Just look at this sucker:



Super Deluxe Cabinet picture courtesy of


Clearly Sega wanted Galaxy Force to be as popular as After Burner, but due to the jaw-dropping price tag on both the Deluxe and Super Deluxe cabinets ($26,000 and $40,000 in 1988 US dollars, respectively, according to HG101), arcades opted for the upright cabinet if at all; I frequented arcades plenty as a child and I’d never seen/heard of Galaxy Force until this review. Interestingly, the Master System port is based on the first iteration of Galaxy Force, not the second. Galaxy Force debuted in April 1988, but had only been released for about two months before Sega replaced it with Galaxy Force II. Galaxy Force II was an upgrade rather than a sequel: two more levels were added, while bugs and balancing issues were addressed. Because of the quick release turnaround, the original Galaxy Force is incredibly rare. If you’ve ever played Galaxy Force in the arcades, you likely played Galaxy Force II.


Galaxy Force (U) [!]004

Your stomach during the holidays.


As with Sega’s other Super Scaler titles, no way could the Master System replicate the trickery made possible by the arcade Galaxy Force‘s impressive System Y board. Thus, Sega reconfigured certain aspects of the game to make it work better with the Master System. The changes make the game easier in some aspects with unlimited continues and additional health, while the interior portions are more constrictive and difficult to navigate.


Galaxy Force (U) [!]005

Prince’s brain


If you’ve ever wanted a cross between Space Harrier and After Burner, Galaxy Force will save your life. As in both of the aforementioned games, Galaxy Force is about shooting as much as you can, as quickly as you can, with little regard for strategy or depth. But unlike either Space Harrier with its jet-packed, cannon-equipped protagonist or After Burner with its rich arcade legacy, Galaxy Force lacks any personality. The spacecraft is bland, the alien planets are colorful but uninspired, and the gameplay is the same type of Sega shooting we’ve been “enjoying” on the Master System for the last three years. Galaxy Force might be visually impressive, but the experience it provides is completely unnecessary.



New “Side Quest” SegaDoes episode/iTunes issues


Hello friends! Many of you have been asking where the Sega Does podcast is on iTunes. It has been resubmitted and should be up in a few days. But if you’re wanting to listen to any of the older podcasts now, please go to this new link:

For those who have subscribed with the RSS feed, make sure you change it from “” to””

In addition, there’s a new ‘Side Quest’ episode where Sam goes into more detail about this issue, along with some other topics of interest. You can check it out here.

Thanks for your patience. Have a great Thanksgiving!



Dynamite Dux



Bin the Duck spared no expense on his penny loafers.





GENRE: Beat-em-up



Dynamite Dux is like no beat-em-up you’ve ever played. Not because the game is spectacular, transcendent, or life-altering; by no means. No, Dynamite Dux is one of the few beat-em-ups where you don’t need to attack any enemies to progress. With the exception of the mid-boss and the boss, you could jump through the level and avoid every enemy; many of the character types, like the pig samurais, won’t even attack you when they see you. Unless you enjoy collecting extra points, the only reason you would need to kill enemies is for the health power-ups some of them occasionally drop. And if you’re avoiding their attacks, chances are, you won’t need the additional health since you won’t be getting hit.


Dynamite Dux (E) [!]001

“I’m sick of you yuppies and your precious gold-plated skates!”


You play as Bin, a human-turned-duck who’s traveling across the world to rescue his girlfriend (not a duck) Lucy from the evil sorcerer, Achacha. Bin rolls through five different levels – Down Town, Japan, Chicago, Texas, and Achacha’s Castle – armed only with a jump, a flying kick (useless since there are no flying enemies), a wind-up punch, and the random weapons he finds strewn across the level. The weapons include rocks, bombs, a bazooka, and a sniper rifle, and are your best bet if you actually want to do some damage. The weapons work so well, in fact, that they have a limited amount of uses; if all you had to do was shoot the creatures, what little challenge the game has would be pecked into the ground. Your punch initially has a weak range, but the range can extend by winding up. In order to wind, you have to hold Button 1 and release the punch at the right time. My advice: use the weapons or jump through the stage. The punch is awkward and should be saved for boss battles.


Dynamite Dux (E) [!]002

“What is my liiiiiiiiiife….”


The boss battles are simple. You’ll fight flames, rock creatures, storm clouds, and a hovering star, before eventually coming to Achacha himself. With the exception of the flame, every one of the bosses can be beaten by spamming the punch. Yes, you’ll take damage by being so close, but none of them move quickly, so they’ll just stand there and take your beatings. Pathetic.


Dynamite Dux (E) [!]006

Achacha’s magic involves standing very still and taking punches.


At least the surreal character designs are entertaining. Bin has a classic cartoon charm, with his large eyes, cowlick, and adorable bow tie. Within the first few seconds of the first level, you’ll notice Colonel Sanders in the background, taking in the beatings. Hordes of flying dog heads, wolves on roller skates, cross-eyed wolves with grenade launchers, and the charging rhino football players recklessly run towards you with little regard for their own well-being. These characters are the best part of the game, and the reason to persevere beyond the first couple stages.


Dynamite Dux (E) [!]003

An Off-Broadway play entitled “Ham Hath No Fury.”


Dynamite Dux was originally an arcade title developed by Sega AM2, and like the Master System port, was only released in Japan and Europe (Hardcore Gaming 101 says the game saw small distribution in America, but this information is refuted on both GameFAQs and SegaRetro). Among the biggest change to the Master System version is the story, which includes another duck, Pin. Neither Bin nor Pin are Lucy’s boyfriends, but her pet ducks. Since she has two ducks, the arcade also includes two-player co-op, a feature lacking in the Master System version (perhaps Sega should have called the port Dynamite Duk instead?). Also missing is the Jungle level from the arcade game, due to lack of space. While I can’t imagine co-op and an additional level giving the Master System port any additional depth, their presence would have been welcome.


Dynamite Dux (E) [!]004

The rest was history.


Don’t let the charming screenshots fool you: Dynamite Dux is one of the most shallow beat-em-ups on the Master System. Having one hard-to-control punch and one worthless kick forces you to rely on the assortment of long-range weapons. At which point, one could argue that the game shifts from a beat-em-up to standard action. And that’s, of course, if you decide to attack at all. You can hop and skip through most of the levels, no problem, thanks to the ambivalent enemies. With a lack of challenge, a short playtime (the game can be beaten in less than 30 minutes), and no replay value, Dynamite Dux is a colorful waste of time.



SegaDoes Episode 28: The Mega Drive / Genesis




Well, that was a scary four months. Yes, the SegaDoes Podcast returns triumphant with an all new episode detailing the greatness of the Mega Drive. And the Mega Drive is super cool and everything, but guys… the podcast is back.

Sam recently bought some new, presumably expensive recording equipment that more or less allows us to record the podcast in one shot. This quick way of recording saves him hours of time previously spent editing, hence why the podcast is feasible once again. And just in time for the holidays!

In answer to your next question, yes, we will be going back through and taking a gander at some of the games we missed in the months we were away. For completion’s sake, but also because I’m still knee deep in NES books and not churning out reviews as quickly as I used to.

But enough of my written blathering. Here’s the audio blathering that you came here for: Episode 28

I’ll also be putting a link up to the earlier podcasts now that they’re all back on Enjoy the episode! Leave comments below! WE’RE BACK!!!




Dead Angle



“Geometry was never my strong suit, boys!!!”




DEVELOPER: Seibu Kaihatsu (port by Sega)

GENRE: Shooter


                                      1990 (EU)


Dead Angle gives gangster shooting a bad name. For starters, the game feels like it should have Light Phaser support, but it doesn’t. And without Light Phaser support, that means you control the crosshair and shoot with the Master System controller. Typically, this decision would be ok, but you don’t just control the crosshair with the D-pad. You also control a giant silhouette of the main character along with the crosshair. In other words, you can’t move the silhouette without moving the crosshair, and vice-versa. Neat, sure. Technologically amazing for 1989, maybe. Cumbersome, you bet. The needless decision to tie the crosshair and the silhouette together, along with the silhouette’s all-encompassing presence, weighs down what should be a straightforward gangster bloodbath.


Dead Angle (UE) [!]001

Like that infamous scene from “The Godfather” over and over…


You play as George Phoenix, a private detective whose girlfriend has been stolen by the mob boss, Robert King. Naturally, Phoenix wants to get her back, but King’s legions of zoot-suited yahoos have other plans. Each level takes place in a different locale – streets of Napoli, New York hotel, etc – and gives you a specific amount of thugs to kill. Dwindle down their numbers with your standard gun or find a tommy gun upgrade and give ’em the true definition of “what for.” The color of the gangster’s suit dictates both their movement and how strong they are. For example, in level 2, when the red-suited gangsters’ bullets hit you, it counts as two hits instead of one; thankfully, each gangster only needs one bullet from you to call it a life. Once you’ve gotten their numbers down to bupkis, the mob boss of that region will emerge, full guns blazing. A few hits (they’re swarthier than the others), and they’re black coffee with toast.


Dead Angle (UE) [!]003

“He’s a ghost! Kill him!”


As previously mentioned, you control both a silhouette of Mr. Phoenix and the crosshair at the same time. Your silhouette is large and takes up a good portion of the middle of the screen; viewed from a different (dead) angle, Mr. Phoenix looks like a monster ghost that’s terrorizing the poor gangsters. If Phoenix gets shot three times anywhere in his silhouette, he’ll say “Ouch!” in a particularly unmasculine voice and die. To counteract the gangster’s sheer numbers and advanced mobility, you are able to float above the ground and terrorize your victims from above. But because the crosshair and the silhouette are both connected to the same control input, and because the gangsters are constantly moving and shooting, you will always have to move around the screen and shoot at random to not get hit.


Dead Angle (UE) [!]000

Gee, thanks.


Dead Angle‘s style might be distinct, but it also causes some of the worst slowdown I’ve ever seen on the Master System. The combination of Phoenix’s large silhouette with the gangsters that leap and frolic across the screen brings stuttering in ways not seen since Space Harrier 3D. With an awful framerate comes general confusion. You’ll never know when or how you were shot, especially if your silhouette doesn’t appear to be in the gangsters’ line of fire.


Dead Angle (UE) [!]002

“What if I just… floated away from here?”


Thanks to the slowdown and the lack of lives/continues, Dead Angle‘s five levels are as intimidating as a gangster’s steely-eyed gaze. The only way to stay alive is to never stop moving your silhouette and fire constantly. But if you keep moving and firing constantly while the gangsters are doing likewise, you have a choppy mess of a shooter that’s ambition is its downfall. If you really have an urge to shoot gangsters, check out Sega’s Gangster Town. The latter shows that class, style, and top-notch level design beat ambition any day.



Cloud Master



Wow, the Cloud Master’s a real sociopath.


PLAYERS: 1-2 alternating


DEVELOPER: Hot-B (port by Opera House)

GENRE: Shoot-em-up



Consider: Mike Chen seeks to become the Cloud Master, and yet, he has already tamed a cloud to carry him where he wills. Truly this ability to ride a cloud is evidence of some sort of Cloud Master-dom? But no, Mike Chen isn’t satisfied with such a small cumulus. It’s up to you to carry him through the Five Lands of Mystery, destroy those who oppose him, and gain him power, prestige, and eventually, the One Cloud to Rule Them All.


Cloud Master (UE) [!]001

“You don’t have to tell me twice, Pops.”


You start off on Mt. Gogyo with Mike situated atop his cloud. Your weapon is Ki, which comes in the form of two balls that spew rapidly from the cloud. And rapid spew you will, if you hope to take down the birds with human heads, curry bowls, turtles, pig heads, cat heads, monkeys, snipers, and other curious creatures of the Five Lands. There are land-based enemies and ground-based enemies, both of which spew tiny flickering red projectiles that are difficult to see. Mike isn’t the smallest puff on the cloud, either, so navigating him around both the projectiles and the enemies is key to survival, as is acquiring stronger weapons. Certain enemies drop power-ups after being destroyed. These power-ups either enhance your current weapon’s rate of fire, upgrade your weapon completely, or give you automatic fire. As with all shoot-em-ups, should you die, these upgrades disappear, like so many cloud wisps. For Mike’s sake and for his title, stay alive.


Cloud Master (UE) [!]008

A brief moment of respite.


After a lengthy battle with the level’s foes, you’ll run into a mid-boss riding a giant cloud. They spew lightning at you in several directions and take many hits to kill. Once they’re felled, a door appears that leads to a shop, of sorts (you don’t actually buy anything, but it has a shop setup). The shop has four secondary weapons, many of which vary depending on what level you enter the shop. Secondary weapons include Four Way Magic, which unleashes four fireballs that surround you for a limited time; Snake Fire, which launches a snake that attacks your foes; and Bomb Fire, which spits out small bombs downwards onto the ground. The secondary attacks are assigned to Button 2, and while their presence is welcome, only the stronger forms of magic in later levels are worth using. As with your main weapon upgrades, should you die, these disappear.


Cloud Master (UE) [!]003

“Sorry, Your Highness. The cloud tolls for thee…”


While Cloud Master wasn’t developed by Sega, the boss fights are very similar to Sega’s Fantasy Zone. You’re taken to a separate screen where a boss slowly emerges from the right hand side. While the boss designs are all different – Giant Frog, Buddha with sunglasses, and Angry Samurai among them – they all have a similar attack pattern: fly around slowly (on a much larger cloud than Mike’s, no less) and spew projectiles that you can barely avoid. Their weak points are always highlighted and regardless of your weapon’s strength, it’ll take a good few minutes of continuous shooting to make them go down. The boss designs evoke a laugh, but the battles themselves are unmemorable and difficult. Fantasy Zone did it better.


Cloud Master (UE) [!]006

This beatnik Buddha is my personal favorite.


And so Cloud Master goes. Take Mike through an ancient mythical landscape, destroy freaky creatures, get stronger weapons, destroy more freaky creatures, fight boss, stay alive. Were Cloud Master a more traditional shmup where you control a ship in space, I wouldn’t give it a second look. The gameplay is solid, but there’s very little depth or replayability. Mike’s large character sprite make the game harder than it needs to be, particularly when you have dozens of enemies and hard-to-see projectiles filling up the screen all at once. Yes, Cloud Master will make you feel pain, but if you’re compelled to make Mike the True Cloud Master, it’ll be because of the game’s unconventional setting, ridiculous main character, and goofy, light-hearted vibe. Cloud Master isn’t perfect, but it is unusual. Sometimes that’s enough.



UPDATE: A Proposition




UPDATE: Well, it looks like folks are almost unanimously in favor of longer reviews. Longer reviews it is! Thanks to all who contributed their opinions. I appreciate the feedback, both on the site and on Twitter/Google+.


Hello Sega friends,

Since the end of the Sega Does podcast and my working on the ever-forthcoming NES book, the site has felt a bit wanting in terms of content. I’ve noticed it, you’ve noticed it. It sucks, plain and simple.

That being said, I have an idea to pump out new content on a more regular basis: shorter reviews for games that aren’t worth the extra time/words. When I say “short,” I mean a return to the 1-2 paragraph days of And when I say “games that aren’t worth the extra time,” I mean stuff like my last review, Casino Games. Not a bad title, but did it need 700 words devoted to it? The goal isn’t to rush through the Sega library, but to devote more time to games that deserve it.

I leave this in your hands. This sounds like a nice idea both for me and for the readers, but ultimately, you all are the ones consuming said content. If you prefer the slightly longer reviews and are fine with the current 1-2 reviews/week system set in place, I’m ok with that. If you wish the site had more content and are open to shorter reviews, let me know.

The comments are yours! Thanks for the feedback.



Cheers to artist EdoBean for this cracking image of a confused Sonic.

Casino Games



There’s some mega gambling happening here.





GENRE: Gambling



You have but one purpose in Casino Games: to become the highest roller Everytown Casino has ever seen or lose your money trying. Pretty girls wink and guide you to your gambling destinations. Poker, Blackjack, Baccarat, Slot Machines, and Pinball demand satisfaction in the form of chips and tokens. The opponents are ruthless, the dealers cold and calculating, the booze watered-down and plentiful. Yes, everyday is a Vegas holiday when you’re draped in Casino Games‘s seedy splendor.


Casino Games (UE) [!]004

Janet and I make a great no-pair.


Casino Games‘s highlights are Poker and Blackjack. The games are standard, but if you enjoy them in the gambling fields of the real world, their virtual counterparts will hold your attention longer than you’ll care to admit. Poker in particular gives you four opponents to play against, each with their own personality and temperament. While I didn’t notice any difference in Janet’s play style as opposed to Charley’s or Nancy’s, it’s nice to have the option. Blackjack is my personal favorite of the three, so I spent a lot of time there, hoping for that coveted 21. I happened upon the fabled number twice, but after a time (a long time, admittedly), the dealer’s continuous winning wore down my spirit. One can only take so many double downs.


Casino Games (UE) [!]001



Baccarat is a game you observe rather than play. You and your opponent are dealt two cards, in hopes that they’ll add up to 8 or 9. Jacks, Queens, Kings, and Aces are zero, so if you have a Jack and a 6, you only have a 6. If both you and your opponent get an 8 or 9, you get your money back. That’s the abbreviated explanation, but just know that, outside of setting down an amount of money, there’s little to do here. The sessions are often over so quickly that, whether you win or lose, there’s little enjoyment in the process.


Casino Games (UE) [!]005

Alright, dealer, I’ve had enough of your “natural” skill.


The slot machines are devourers of money. They require no skill and little to no thought compared to the card games. Stick your token in, pull the slot, and hope the purdy pictures line up so you can make your money back. While you do have the option to play a $1 slot machine up to a $50 slot machine, the amount of money you lose will always be greater than the amount you win. Not worth the risk, unless you’re completely bored with cards and have ample amounts of money to toss to the wind.


Casino Games (UE) [!]003

Almost as thrilling as virtual pachinko.


The pinball machine is intended to be a welcome reprieve from the stress of winning/losing money. You play for points, not earnings, so nothing is gained or lost. The machine has three angles to choose from: Gentle, Middle, and Steep, with Steep sending the ball towards the bottom faster. Unfortunately, the machine’s two-tiered, Casino Games-branded design lacks imagination. There’s little in the way of flair or bonuses that typically entice one to play for more than a round. Still, a nice idea, even if the execution is wanting.


Casino Games (UE) [!]002

Ladies and gentleman, the Most Boring Pinball Machine in the World.


When first welcomed into the casino, you’re asked if you have an account. Should you wish to quit, the game will provide you a password so that you can return to your winnings at a later period. This is a great feature, particularly if you’re on a winning streak and you’re up several thousand dollars. Better to walk away on a high note and be thought a fool, then to lose your money gambling and remove all doubt.


Casino Games (UE) [!]000

You know I do, baby.


After spending inordinate amounts of time and a lot of fake money in Casino Games, it’s clear that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Poker and Blackjack completely carry Baccarat, the Slot Machines, and Pinball; none of the latter three are poorly made, just lacking in depth. Taken as a complete package, however, Casino Games does an admirable job of recreating the atmosphere found within a gambling hovel. And, if I’m honest, I’d much rather stay at home and pretend to lose money than drink myself stupid and wind up broke next to a bunch of uncaring strangers.



California Games



“Ok, miss? Could you just move a bit closer to the camera? And guys, step about five feet back. Perfect!”


PLAYERS: 1-8 alternating


DEVELOPER: Epyx (port by Sega)

GENRE: Minigame



California Games is one of the many terrible pseudo-sporting event minigame collections released by Epyx in the late 80s and early 90s (never forget World Games and Winter Games). Not only do the games lack the depth and replayability of traditional sports, but the controls are so unintuitive and complex, the mechanics so hit-or-miss, that a task as simple as rollerblading down a sidewalk is a challenge worthy of the Hollywood gods.

There are six games that California calls their own. I will rate them in order of unplayable to semi-competent


California Games (UE) [!]000

You’ll never skate to the Hollywood sign with that attitude.


Half Pipe – A jaunty trip down a half-pipe on a skateboard. Up and Down on the D-pad give you momentum, while Right and Left spin you right round, baby. Doing tricks is the name of the game here, but you’ll be lucky to keep yourself in the air. Why is it impossible to pull off a trick and not crash? Why can’t you turn in mid-air, like a normal skater? No amount of knee pads and head gear will prevent your dreams of skateboard stardom from shattering on the Half Pipe.


California Games (UE) [!]001

Bro, quit hoggin’ the ‘sack.


Foot Bag Foot Bag sounds like a particularly painful bloating. This is why, in America, we call Foot Bag, “hackysack.” Here, you’re supposed to keep the hackysack in the air for as long as possible. Button 2 either kicks, head butts or knees the sack, depending on where it is in the air. The problem is, the game determines whether the hackysack is in the right position to be hit. So even if the sack falls towards your knee, you could hit Button 2 and nothing would happen unless the game decided you could hit it. The convoluted, finicky mechanics ruin the perfectly good game of Foot Bag. Our hippie ancestors would be ashamed.


California Games (UE) [!]004

The not-so-good Samaritan.


Skating – As in a girl rollerskating down a sidewalk that hasn’t been maintained since 1952. There are cracks, banana peels, whole chunks of the sidewalk missing. Maintain a good speed, jump over everything in your way, and pull off tricks to get points. That’s a lot for one person, and indeed, too much for this poor girl. There’s a slight lag every time you hit Button 1 to jump, and until you adjust for it, you’ll run into grates and grass and every other piece of crap that’s on the ground. Forget doing tricks. Just skate on a better sidewalk.


California Games (UE) [!]003

Just when you thought it was safe to boogie board across 50 foot tidal waves…


Surfing – In Surfing, your goal is to ride out the wave and perform tricks for a group of mirthless judges. Getting your board atop the wave doesn’t take much, but tricks? Oy. Hit Left on the D-pad to go off the wave, then quickly hit Right to land back on the wave. If you do this right, it barely looks like you did anything at all. But hey, the judges will like you and popularity is all that really matters


California Games (UE) [!]005

These hills are no match for determination.


BMX – Much like skating, BMX is all about not crashing your bike into random crap while performing tricks. Surprisingly, the controls are responsive and intuitive. Button 1 jumps the bike while mashing Button 2 pedals faster. Twist the D-pad to do tricks as you drive or keep the bike on the course, safe and sound. Either way, BMX is the most straightforward event in California Games. This makes it both a relief and a little boring. At least the chances of you completing it are far greater than the other events.


California Games (UE) [!]006

You’re looking at Cucumber Girl, as in cool-as-a.


Flying Disk – Frisbee throwing made significantly more challenging. Calculate the speed and angle you’ll throw the frisbee via the bar at the bottom of the screen, then let ‘er fly. If you hit the speed and angle in the green section of the bar, the frisbee will soar to the receiving person. Once the frisbee has launched, you control the other person and guide them to it. If you catch it, great! If not, wash off the sickening stench of failure and try again. California plays for keeps.


California Games (UE) [!]002

California Games is very self-aware.


If California Games has any appeal whatsoever, it’s in the 8-player mode. Playing with a gaggle of bros greatly increases one’s enjoyment of the events within, if only because you can all make fun of each others’ skills (or lack thereof). It’s when you’re alone that the game’s numerous faults choke your very being, like the smog-filled Los Angeles skies. California dream this game the hell away from my life.



Battle OutRun


Battle OutRun

Burning rubber, one turn at a time.





GENRE: Driving


                                      02/1991 – (BR)


Ever wonder what the driver in OutRun does for a living? Battle OutRun provides the answer. Using his own cherry Testarossa, the driver races through the country destroying mobster vehicles. He travels to all the big cities – Las Vegas, New York, Los Angeles, the rest – to take down the head honchos of every crime syndicate across the nation. But he can’t just race to the mobster’s hideout and expect to find them there. They’re on the run, just like him. Race past the hired muscle, rear-end the mobster’s cars into oblivion, and put them away in prison. Just like Don Johnson used to do before he got swallowed up in Miami’s vice.


Battle Out Run (E) [!]000

None more golden.


Less a sequel, more a side mission, Battle OutRun strips the fun-in-the-sun from the original game, while adding a couple objectives beyond “get your car to the finish line.” You drive as fast as possible (mind the time limit), avoid yellow taxis (the main mobster’s hired goons all drive taxis, apparently), upgrade your ride when allowed, and take down the mobster when you reach them. Once you’ve found the mobster, their life bar appears. Hit them from the back or the side a bunch of times to make their car come to a halt. Your car remains perfectly intact and damage-free because who wants to look at a mangled sports car? That’s just depressing.


Battle Out Run (E) [!]001

“Little” Ronnie Howard just isn’t as good as he used to be.


The Testarossa is indeed impervious to all damage. Running into taxis, oil slicks, speed signs, and other clutter will slow you down, though; don’t just drive into everything like a hotshot. The one exception are the ramps, which allow you to jump over taxis. And you’ll want to jump over them. The closer you get to them, the more they’ll try to prevent you from passing. If you hit their bumper, your car comes to a complete halt. Unlike their boss, the taxis can’t be destroyed, so there’s never any feeling of satisfaction when you hit/pass them. They’re aggressive buttholes and some of the most rage-inducing “characters” I’ve faced in a game in quite some time.


Battle Out Run (E) [!]002

Cloudy with a chance of justice.


Midway through the level, a shop truck appears in front of you. Drive into it and you’ll be able to purchase upgrades. “Body” strengthens your car and reduces the time lost from bumping into taxis. “Engine” makes your car go faster. “Tires” improve the car’s ability to take curves, and “Chassis” help you get more air on jumps. Nitros are also available to purchase and store for use on the road. There’s three upgrades per category, with each upgrade costing more money. You start off stage 1 with a small amount of cash, but additional cash is earned by bringing perps to justice. With the exception of the “Chassis,” you’ll need to upgrade as much as you can in order to deal with the higher level gangsters.’


Battle Out Run (E) [!]005

Wonder what it’s like to drive a car on top of banana pudding…


Your Testarossa’s top is up, your girlfriend is strangely absent, there’s no attempt at super scaling as there was in the original OutRun, and the graphics don’t take advantage of the Master System’s hardware. Clearly, Battle OutRun doesn’t bear any resemblance to the original. Need more proof? The level designs are nondescript, the music is lackluster, the lighthearted atmosphere is missing, and the Testarossa sprite is smaller. The game also plays like a carbon copy of Chase H.Q. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it’s cheap of Sega to copy another game’s concept and apply it to their franchise. Besides, ramming into cars isn’t what made the original OutRun such a memorable title. Battle OutRun isn’t a particularly bad game, but it does feel like a quickly developed cash grab released to capitalize on the OutRun franchise’s then-popularity. For fans of the series, Battle OutRun stands as a curious footnote. For the rest of us, there’s Chase H.Q..