Tuesday, 21 May 2019

Sega SG-1000 A-Z

Sega's first console was only released in Japan and soon faced strong competition in the form of the NES as well as several home micros. It received a reasonable number of releases though, and I will be featuring all of them in this listing. This is the first of four parts and features all games beginning with letters A through C:

Bank Panic by Sanritsu / Sega (1984) - My Card release

I remember this one better as a Master System release but the arcade original was also apparently converted to the SG too, and it works pretty well. The Wild West theme is well used, placing you in the shoes of a sheriff attempting to thwart bank robbers. Not a bad game but a little repetitive. (mini review here)

Black Onyx, The by BPS / Sega (1987) - My Card release

I played this into-the-screen, dungeon-based RPG for a mini-review many moons ago and I really didn't like it then, I'm sorry to say. Apparently it was pretty popular in its day though, and this seems like a competent enough version, all things considered, so give it a try if you're after a very early example of the genre. (mini review here)

Bomberman Special by Hudson Soft (1986) - Cartridge release

Contrary to popular belief, Bomberman actually appeared on a Sega machine before the MD's Mega Bomberman in the form of this, an unofficial port of the MSX game of the same name, released only in Taiwan. It's obviously very basic compared to later Bomberman games but it's certainly not the worst example.

Bomb Jack by Tehkan (1985) - My Card release

Everyone knows Bomb Jack is awesome, and most of its home conversions were spiffing too, but this is not one of the best, sadly. This is mainly due to the colour scheme which is not only a bit ugly but also makes it really hard to see what's going on some of the time. A rare version of this game to avoid. (mini review here)

Borderline by Compile / Sega (1983) - Cartridge release

This arcade conversion is an overhead-viewed shooter that places you in control of a jeep which you must use to destroy enemy jeeps, tanks, and the refineries that they hang around. There are four stages, each with a slightly different style, which makes this game pretty varied as well as good fun. (mini review here)

Castle, The by Sega (1986) - Cartridge release

This ASCII flick-screen puzzle/platformer was mainly released on some obscure (to Westerners) Japanese home micros. It also got an SG release though, and that's good as it's a superb game, featuring ace controls, colourful graphics, and 100 rooms of challenging action to get through. One of the SG's best games... (mini review here)

Chack'n Pop by Taito (1985) - My Card release

One reason the SG is special - it got a conversion of Taito's lovely Chack'n Pop! It's a unique single-screen platformer that some consider a precursor to the mighty Bubble Bobble, and its controls definitely take a bit of getting used to, but it's a good conversion and a great title to have for the SG either way.

Champion Baseball by ADK / Sega (1983) - Cartridge release

I believe this was the first of the 'Champion' sports games for the SG. I've never liked baseball at the best of times though, and haven't enjoyed any game based on it. That hasn't changed here, although I can't imagine it has aged too well, but I guess some baseball fans probably enjoyed it in its day.

Champion Billiards by Compile / Sega (1986) - My Card release

It's interesting that this entry in the series is a billiards game rather than a simpler pool game, and as a result there are different table layouts which can cause some unpredictable ball movement. It's pretty good fun once you get used to it though, and can be played by two players (alternately) too.

Champion Boxing by Sega (1984) - My Card & Cartridge release

This one is most notable today for being the first game coded by a certain Yu Suzuki, but in its day without the scrutiny of that accolade, it must still have been a pretty eye-catching game. This mainly due to the graphics which are pretty great, but it's a bit of a button-masher to play. It's a piece of history all the same.

Champion Golf by Logitec / Sega (1983) - My Card & Cartridge release

It was quickly apparent when playing this that it wasn't quite like any other golf game I've played. It actually took a while to figure out how to play it (it involves positioning a little guy around the edge of the screen to aim!). I'm not sure how much time it would earn but it's a unique and interesting take on the sport.

Champion Ice Hockey by Sega (1985) - My Card release

Like the boxing game, this has pretty big sprites and a similar animated crowd, but it's certainly more complex to play. The skaters are suitably slidy and the controls are tricky accordingly, but shooting takes skill as well as luck and it can be quite competitive. This must've proved a lot of fun for fans of the sport.

Champion Kendou by Sega (1986) - My Card release

This one-on-one fighting game looked like it might be great fun for the first few seconds it was running but I soon realised I had no idea how to play it. Your fighter moves by himself and the controls don't seem to do anything consistently which is most vexing. There are lots of options though!

Champion Pro Wrestling by Sega (1985) - Cartridge release

I know a lot more about wrestling than I do kendo so I hoped I'd have more luck here, but alas - pretty much the same problems are found. The controls are confusing/unintuitive and making your guy do stuff seems very hit and miss (no pun intended). Graphics aren't bad again though!

Champion Soccer by Sega (1984) - Cartridge release

I've never really liked any 'soccer' (i.e. football) games so I didn't expect to enjoy this, but after having spent time with it, I can't imagine many gamers ever enjoyed it. The controls are again very iffy but the flickery graphics are a bigger problem - you can't even see where the ball is half the time. Be off with you!

Champion Tennis by Sega (1983) - Cartridge release

Eeek! Despite having by far the most unrealistic (and rather garish) graphics of any of the Champion games, this tennis game is actually the most enjoyable of them all too! Smooth player movement and responsive controls make this a great (if eye-watering) entry in the SG's sports series. Finally!

Championship Lode Runner by Compile / Sega (1985) - My Card release

It's nice to see this classic platformer on the SG, although I guess it appeared on practically every other system anyway! I haven't played them all but this is definitely my least favourite version so far, I'm sorry to say - it's very frustrating to play. You may have more luck than me though, so give it a try by all means!

Choplifter by Brøderbund / Sega (1985) - My Card release

This will probably be most familiar as the excellent 1985 arcade game and subsequent Master System conversion but the SG game is actually based on the original 1982 Apple II game. Veterans of the MS game might therefore struggle to adapt but it's not too bad for the odd session here and there. (mini review here)

Circus Charlie by Konami / Aaronix (1985) - Cartridge release

This is an unofficial port of the MSX version of Konami's original arcade game and, like those versions, it's pretty good fun. It's split into five scrolling stages, each with its own objective such as jumping through fiery hoops or balancing on balls. The apparently-infinite continues mean it won't last long though.

Congo Bongo by Sega (1983) - Cartridge release

The original arcade version of Congo Bongo was a pretty flashy isometric game so this SG version was understandably simplified somewhat. It features two types of stage, one a Donkey Kong rip off, the other influenced by Frogger, but both are pretty good fun if you aren't looking for accuracy. (mini review here)

C So! by Compile / Sega (1985) - My Card release

Another unofficial MSX conversion. This one is a surprisingly complex single-screen platformer where you have to collect all the items (fruits or something) and kill all the enemies using see-saw traps. I actually had a lot of fun with this one. I suppose I should've expected that from a Compile game...

Left out on purpose: Challenge Derby, a horse racing betting game that can't be played by non-Japanese speakers, and probably isn't much fun even if you do speak the language