Monday, 4 January 2016

Sega SG-1000 Round-Up #6

It's been far too long since I last visited Sega's splendid début console, thanks in the most part to my oafishness, but finally I have returned after checking out another selection of titles. The games were selected largely at random but fortunately they represent a decent range of styles including a few versions of games I have played before. Here is how I got on with my latest five choices:

Castle, The (1986)

Released on most of the Japanese systems of the time (except the NES), The Castle is a flick-screen platform/puzzle game of surprising size and complexity. It takes place within the titular structure which consists of a slightly bewildering 100 rooms. Located within one of them is a princess who, in your role as prince, it is your duty and honour to rescue. This is easier said than done though, naturally, as the prince's few abilities do not extend beyond walking, jumping, and pushing, and the castle is chock-full of various enemies and hazards which must be avoided or outsmarted as well as many items to help your progress including colour-coded keys to access areas of the castle. Graphically the game is quite nice. The detail isn't great but there is a lot of variety considering the setting, and the music is amusing and catchy (though repetitive) too. It takes a while to get used to the very slow pace of the gameplay (that is until you discover the 'speed up' button) but once you do you should find The Castle to be an addictive and highly enjoyable platformy puzzler. It could do with a suicide button for when you get stuck, but that's my only gripe with this superbly playable game... 8/10

Ninja Princess (1986)

As the many Sega experts among you may already be aware, Ninja Princess is actually the game most Westerners know as Sega Ninja, or simply The Ninja, as found on the Master System. The SG received it's own version though, and pretty splendid it is too. You take on the role of Princess Kurumi whose job it is to defeat an evil tyrant named Gyokuro. This is done through a series of mostly-vertically-scrolling stages populated by many enemy ninjas and other types of scary Far Eastern warriors. A single strike from an enemy weapon costs you a life so it's not easy, but the mostly-open stages and good controls make it a reasonably fair and highly playable quest. The graphics aren't bad - the backgrounds are quite varied but occasionally the sprites seem to blend in a little - and the music is pretty good too. The only problem I encountered really was the push-scrolling which can be a bit annoying and problematic as it often leaves you very close to newly-appeared enemies, but apart from that it's nearly as enjoyable as the superb version hosted by its big brother and another great entry in the SG's library... 8/10

Zoom 909 (1985)

This one may look a bit familiar to the eagle-eyed among you, and that's because it's a conversion of the arcade game that was known as Buck Rogers: Planet of Zoom to us Western oafs. There are just four stages to each 'loop' this time of which three should be familiar. The first is a dangerous trench run, the second takes place over a planetary surface, and the fourth is a boss battle amidst an asteroid storm. The third is completely new though, and takes the form of an over-head, multi-directional shooter. It's also probably the most difficult stage but it shouldn't take long to get through them all before it starts all over again, only with slightly different colours. The new stage is a bit of a mystery and seems a little out of place, but this isn't a bad stab at what was a pretty advanced arcade title in its day. The graphics aren't bad, with surprisingly smooth faux-3D into-the-screen scrolling on the first two stages, and there is in-game music too, although it's a little harsh on the ears. You'll probably see everything there is to see here within ten minutes but it's a decent enough game with some replay value too... 7/10

N-Sub (1988)

I guess it's pretty ironic that this, the 'newest' game on the list, is also the most basic. It's still more advanced than the arcade original though, which first appeared back in 1980 and featured black and white graphics, but both feature identical gameplay. This consists of a series of single-screen stages, each of which is home to many submarines and ships. It's your job to take out as many of these as possible using your own sub which can fire torpedoes straight ahead, which is from where the enemy subs approach, or directly upwards which, with the slightly weird perspective the game uses, is where the ships can be found. You need to be a good shot too, as your sub doesn't fire very rapidly. Destroy a sufficient number of enemy vessels and you'll move to the next stage where enemies move a little faster and fire more missiles at you. Repeat ad infinitum. It's a simple game but that doesn't make it bad. It's actually pretty good - the controls are passable and the collisions-detection is fine, helping to make it an addictive and satisfying game. Maybe you'll get bored after a while but it's decent while it lasts... 7/10

Shinnyushain Tooru Kun (1985)

Better known to most as Mikie, the arcade game released by Konami the year before, this was one I'd heard of long ago but never got around to playing. Trying it now, it took a little while to work out how to play it, and even then it quickly proved rather annoying. You play as the schoolboy of the title who's seeking a love-letter from his girl-friend. This is comprised of various hearts that you must collect from different classrooms in your school but grabbing them isn't easy as various teachers will chase after you and even throw stuff at you. I suppose that's fair enough, but apparently they can still take you out when you're in a supposedly 'safe' position too (i.e. sitting at your desk), and every time you lose a life you have to start the room from scratch. This irritated me a great deal, and when combined with sluggish controls and little glitches, such as how easy it is to get stuck on stuff like furniture in the rooms, irritation soon gives way to anger. The graphics are decent enough and the music is okay (though repetitive) but I really didn't enjoy this one a bit I'm afraid. I wonder if the arcade original is any better? 3/10

Red Parsley will be back with some more SG-1000 mini-reviews soon! :)
 

7 comments:

  1. I've never played any Sega SG-1000 games, but looking at these ones, the console looks really interesting.
    Reading about the hardware, seems that was like some kind of connection ring between pc and home consoles, and the graphics remind me to a lot of DOS games.
    Nice article :]

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  2. (sigh) The NES got it too, except there, it was called CastleQuest. And it was every bit as frustrating as it was on other consoles.

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  3. Oh wait, scratch that! CastleQuest was a SEQUEL to The Castle! I did not know that...

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  4. Hi Mr. Pix3l, nice to see you again :) The more I play on the SG-1000 the more fond I become of it actually. It kind of reminds me of the several machines but games-wise it is probably most similar to the MSX, I'd say :)

    And Hi Mr. ArugulaZ, or should I say (sigh), I'm glad to see you corrected yourself before I could answer ;) I intend to take a look at Castle Quest at some point as I really enjoyed The Castle. Have you played it?

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  5. A little. It seems very much in that Manic Miner/Jet Set Willy vein, albeit with a stronger emphasis on puzzle solving. Not really my cup of tea, and it seems most other Americans disliked it as well, if GameFAQs is to be believed.

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  6. The Castle has a suicide option: You hold both buttons for 5 seconds.

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  7. That's very handy to know, thanks Glen :)

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