Thursday, 22 March 2012

Sega SG-1000 Round-Up #1

Considering I'm supposed to be a Sega fan, it took me an alarmingly long time to try out their first console - almost thirty years in fact! In my defence, it was not a very successful system and was never released outside Japan but even so, it was still a situation that needed remedying, and now that I've finally gained access to its games, it will be. The first step was the recent 'Exploring...' feature which gave a decent overview of the system, and now this post which represents the first part of a series which will look at all of the SG's rather meagre back catalogue of games. Here's the first random selection:

Bomb Jack (1985)

I'm a big fan of Bomb Jack so I was eager to see if this version continued the fine tradition of quality conversions. Sadly it does not. The stage layouts are the same but unfortunately it has awful graphics which ruin it. The backgrounds are actually quite good but the monochrome sprites are all drawn using some of the same colours so it can be really hard to spot them, or indeed Mr. Jack himself, at times. Can you spot him in the screenshot? I'm not sure why the bombs are in black boxes either. If it was just the confusing graphics that were proving troublesome I might let it off but one of my very favourite things about Bomb Jack is its pixel-perfect precision controls and they are also compromised here. Perhaps we've been spoiled by some of the fantastic conversions of this classic but this isn't among the best... 6/10

Monaco GP (1983)

Perhaps a slightly odd choice of game to release on the SG, this one. It remains the only conversion of Sega's 1979 up-the-screen racer which used discrete logic circuits rather than processors, but even with the benefit of this fangled new technology, Sega's home port can't match the visuals of the four year old coin-op. It remains a very basic (and not very accurate) depiction of the famous race of the title which tasks you with avoiding the endless slower cars ahead of you. There is the odd slippery stretch of road and annoying tunnel sections which sees your car's headlights activate (must've been a feature of 70's F1 cars) but apart from that it's the same thing ad infinitim. Reasonable fun for a couple of minutes but nothing more... 4/10

H.E.R.O. (1985)

While probably most famous as one of the most celebrated games for the VCS, this Activision classic was actually later ported to quite a few other platforms including the SG and naturally it looks quite a bit nicer for it! It's a side-viewed flick-screen adventure which sees you heroically take on the mission of rescuing miners trapped in a volcano, armed with just a laser, a few sticks of dynamite, and a backpack-mounted helicopter unit. There's plenty of scary creatures lurking in the tunnels but the biggest problem comes from the easily-extinguishable laterns which can leave the screen in darkness! The controls in this version can be a bit iffy, and there's quite a bit of trial-and-error involved, as with all versions, but H.E.R.O remains a very addictive and entertaining game which has seldom looked better! ... 7/10

Sega Galaga (1983)

Galaga has always been my favourite one of these single-screen, 'shooting gallery' type shmups so I was hoping that this would be a good version. Actually, the name change made me initially think that it was a rip-off, as so many games were in the early days, but it is an official version. I'm also pleased to say it's a good one too. The bugs are now monochrome, the sound effects aren't as pleasing, and the 'challenging stages' are missing altogether, but that's all that I can find to complain about in this otherwise splendid conversion! Galaga '88 on the PC Engine is probably still the best Galaga ever but this remains a highly enjoyable high-score game and the difficulty is spot-on too. Bring on the bugs! ... 8/10

Pop Flamer (1983)

This is the only game here I haven't previously even heard of but it's apparently a conversion of a Jaleco coin-op from the previous year of which I've also had a quick try for comparison. The results of my endeavours are that this is an average-at-best conversion of an average-at-best game! It's a mazey collect 'em up which stars you a fire-breathing mouse of all things. His job is to collect (or burst) what look like balloons from each slightly-larger-than-one-screen stage whilst avoiding or frying the various evil beasties that also roam them. While basic and repetitive, these games can be good fun. This conversion is understandably less colourful than the arcade game (it looks rather like a Speccy game actually) but it's also extremely hard due to its poor and unresponsive controls. Bah! ... 4/10

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


  1. All of these *look* pretty interesting to my eyes. Well, all except Bomb Jack. What's up with that one? Like you said, they look very Speccy, or even MSX-ish, which is a good enough thing in my opinion. (I've always had a soft spot for the graphics produced by the MSX especially.) I'm guessing you played these via emulation? If so, did one in particular work well for you?

  2. Hi Bryan :) Indeed I did play them via emulation - they all worked well enough but I particularly enjoyed Sega Galaga as you can probably tell. I have very little experience with the MSX - it was almost unheard of here - but so far its graphics don't really appeal to me much, from the games I've played at least. I've got a review underway now and it looks awful :(

  3. I've never seen a top5 SG1000. Maybe it doesn't have 5 gud games? :/ I goad u AGES fanboi...!

  4. I wouldn't know buddy, it's not a system I've played until recently. I'll do a Top Five once I've played them all (which won't take long!) :)

  5. Interesting selection. My SG 1000 collection is, along with my Epoch Cassette Vision, the console that I have the hardest time finding games for. I have a grand total of one for it, Pacar, which is actually not bad. That isn`t because I have been put off by the high prices of games, mind you, but because in 2 years of searching it is the only SG 1000 game I have ever found in a store. If I ever make it to Akihabara with a small fortune I will be sure to pick some of these ones up too, especially Galaga. Actually even the ones you gave bad reviews to like Pop Flamer look pretty cool in the screen shots.

  6. Hi Sean :) It was just a random pick, I'll gradually go through all of them I expect, including Pacar! I hope you have more success finding some of the games, there are some good ones - Galaga being my favourite so far. I presume they also cost quite a bit more than your Famicom purchases too? Oh well :( As for Pop Flamer - it would be pretty good fun if the controls weren't so horrifying :(

  7. Yes, unfortunately the Sega SG-1000 games (also the Mark III, only not quite so much so) are quite a bit more expensive than the Famicom ones. Funnily enough I only paid 500 yen for my SG-1000 console but the cheapest games start at about double that!

    Anyway, look forward to reading your further posts on it!

  8. Finally picked up another SG 1000 game, I got H.E.R.O. the other day. Good game, I agree with your review of it!

  9. Nice find! :) Hope you got it for a good price, even better that it worked! I haven't played all versions but I imagine this must be one of the best :)

  10. There is another port of Monaco GP! It was ported to the PS2 with new graphics and some extra modes, but definitely still the same game! :D

  11. Hi there Jonny :) Yes, I imagine most retro games that exist have made it onto one compilation or another but I'd be interested to see what this tarted-up version looks like :)