Tag Archives: Sega Genesis

Sony PVM 8042-Q: Is it Truly Worth it?

For the past few years, it seems that several in the retro gaming community have begun looking for the best ways to maximize their gaming experience. In an age where modern TVs no longer are retro friendly. Instead, several individuals have begun to look into the past, discovering that maybe those giant CRT TVs have some use after all these years.

For numerous people, it would only seem that the RCA or S-video was the best way to play your classic games since those were the ones plenty grew up with. However, the past few years have proven its time to move onto a format that will require several to rethink about how retro games should be intended to appear, RGB. In general, RGB stands for Red, Green, and Blue and considered by several to be the best format to display your retro systems on. Yet, the issue arises from how to enable this display into your TVs.  There are several manners to achieve RGB but the most common path is to have it displayed from a SCART cable which was only exclusive to Europe. Unfortunately for several Americans, there is no way to plug a scart cable in our TV sets without the use of a converter. For several people, getting all this equipment to optimized for RGB is not something that a multitude of people can afford. In addition, there are some systems that need to be optimized for RGB using soldering skills or having someone do it for you. But for those who can, it’s something that will blow your mind away!

Next, since you’re reading this, I’m assuming you understand that you’re either interesting in knowing more displaying RGB on a TV or curious to observe what it can offer. There are several options for displaying RGB Scart to your TV. An affordable way to display it is by buying an RGB to HDMI or Component/YPBPR converter which may introduce some lag depending on if you plug it into an HD TV or CRT TV that accepts component inputs. Previously, I owned an RGB to Component converter for 2 years and I enjoyed it and it introduced me to RGB’s offerings. Another option is to invest in an XRGB Framemeister or OSSC to display RGB onto your modern television that accept HDMI/Component/VGA signals but these are pricey and recommended with those who have more spending money than others. Finally, the (subjectively speaking) superior way to display is to convert the SCART into BNC towards a professional CRT monitor like a Sony PVM.

After several years of research with additional mass hours of tedious work, I finally decided to sell my SCART to component converter and invest in a Sony PVM 8042Q, part of a line of professional video monitors which several retro gamers consider to be the holy grail of CRT TVs. With its 250 resolution lines, several outputs, including BNC, S-Video, and Composite, and 16:9 option, the 8042Q is a great way to enter the world of the RGB Monitors. At the time, I bought mine for about 80 dollars and one of the best purchases I’ve made.

Following suit, after testing the PVM with my Famicom, Genesis/Mega Drive, Saturn, SNES, PlayStation 1, N64, and Dreamcast I could not complain about the quality of the picture being displayed. There are some issues like it not being able fit the entire image for those 5th generation and Dreamcast due to the screen size limitation and its inability to display 480p which may be in part of when it release time instead of not being able to implement it due to the fact that I would love to play the rest of the 6th Generation in a miniature monitor. Another issue is the fact that it has only mono sound which means that you would need to convert the stereo sound into a mono via an adapter which is not that expensive but still it may annoy some audiophiles.

Overall, my conclusion is that for the price and size, it’s a great entry-level RGB monitor for those interested in entering the world of CRTs. Though prices for RGB monitors have begun to rise over the past few years, there are still chances for fantastic deals online and in person depending on your search for and there are several guides online to help with this journey which I’ll post below.

http://pastebin.com/H9H9L2LQ
http://pastebin.com/pQX4N6gZ

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Prelude to Shenmue: How Yu Suzuki’s history help shape Shenmue

For hardcore Shenmue fans, the day is rapidly approaching when the events of Shenmue occurred. Personally, for me to discuss about Shenmue, it’s important to discuss about Yu Suzuki’s history in game development prior to Shenmue. Because if it weren’t for certain games, Shenmue might not have existed. After all, Shenmue is a melting pot of all his prior experiences put into one enormous game.  Taking bits and pieces of those games and combing it into one conglomerate.

Yu Suzuki, the man highly regarded as Sega’s Shigeru Miyamoto is responsible for many Sega classics, including Outrun, Virtua Fighter, and Shenmue. During his first year in 1983, he programmed Champion Boxing released in Arcades and SG-1000 the same year.

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Champion Boxing, Yu Suzuki’s first game at Sega in 1983

The Super Scaler Days

But it wasn’t until 1985 when his career began to kick off. His interest in Motorcycles would pay off in the development of his first arcade hit, Hang-On. Suzuki, a man who combines both a business and creative perspective to games by making them appeal to both the casual and hardcore audiences, by developing a cabinet that would emulate the experience of riding a motorcycle. The game would be the beginning of AM-2’s success. The game also debuted the Super Scaler series, which displayed pseudo-3D graphics which were 2D sprites being scaled.

Furthermore, Yu Suzuki clarifies his intentions on how the Super Scaler games worked, “My designs were always 3D from the beginning. All the calculations in the system were 3D, even from Hang-On. I calculated the position, scale, and zoom rate in 3D and converted it backwards to 2D. So I was always thinking in 3D.” This would foreshadow the trends that were to come.

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Following suit, Yu Suzuki returns to the drawing board shifting of reality and taking a sci-fi approach for his next game, Space Harrier. However, the game’s original direction was to use Jump jets, a concept used in a future game. The game takes inspiration from The Neverending Story, Space Cobra, and the artwork of Roger Dean. In addition to be a Super Scaler game, this also introduced the first time that an analog flight stick used for movement which became big in PC gaming.

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Next, Outrun, the first driving game debuted almost a year and a half after Space Harrier. Outrun was the accumulation of Cannonball Run using Europe as the main inspiration and a Ferrari Testarossa. The object of the game was simple, driving around 6 gorgeous tracks before time runs out. The game was unique for not only being a super scaler title, but additionally offering a radio station prior to starting the game which was unheard of at the time and its cabinet based off a Testarossa. The game’s legacy is still being seen today as it’s influenced many racing gaming including Gran Turismo, Forza, and Daytona USA.

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Then in 1987, After Burner II debuted worldwide. Why talk about the second game rather than the first? Because the first saw release only in japan and the latter worldwide. One way to summarize the game is Top Gun the video game. This game debuts the Sega Board X succeeding in many ways that Hang-On and Outrun Boards could not. A technical milestone debuting with After Burner was the sprite rotation. The game’s premise was to survive 18 stages of enemy fighters and landscape obstacles using your wits, machine guns, or lock-on missiles on your F-14. After Burner II‘s mechanics would inspire future titles including Star Fox, Panzer Dragoon, and Rez.

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Afterwards, taking a break from flight simulators he returned to racing games with Power Drift in 1988. This kart racer that predates Mario Kart has players driving on tracks with many hills and bridges, the camera rotates with the player as they turn corners. This is one of Yu Suzuki’s underrated titles as this don’t not see as many ports in the US but immensely popular in Japan and Europe.

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Trending New Nerritories

However, before developing his next arcade hit, he decided to make a short turn into the console gaming scene for a multi genre RPG, Swords of Vermillion on the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive. In this case, Yu Suzuki was the producer of the game and took a different approach than use the traditional RPG formula, foreshadowing one of his future games. There are several different modes in the game, Town mode where the player roams around in your typical RPG fashion, dungeon mode akin to Phantasy Star, Battle View where the player engages in free combat against enemies, and boss mode where the player fights the boss in a side scrolling perspective. The game being a big player in the early days of the Genesis used in the Genesis does what Nintendon’t campaign.

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Once Sword of Vermillion finished, Suzuki returned to the arcade scene with G-LOC in the start of the 1990s. In general G-LOC, refers to G-force induced Loss of Consciousness, can be seenas the spiritual sequel to After Burner, using the premise of destroying enemy fighters with a Harrier, the game is famous for using pre-rendered 3D graphics and heavy sprite rotation similar to its spiritual predecessor. The game also featured a cabinet that rotated 360 degrees known as the G-LOC 360.

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The Beginning of 3D

In light of Suzuki’s experience in game development, he was also a great hardware engineer. Wanting to enter the realms of 3D, Sega began researching the capabilities of 3D gaming with Namco and Atari already setting foot. Yu Suzuki and AM2 began developing for their own 3D capable arcade of their own. Under those circumstances, teaming up with Fujitsu using their TGP MB86233 DSP developed the Sega Model 1.

Furthermore, with the development of the Model 1 needed some games to coincide with it. In 1992, Virtua Racing debuted to arcades on the Model 1 setting a milestone in 3D gaming for its constant 60 fps, amazing 3D graphics, offer multi-cabinet support to play against others, and multiple camera angles. As Suzuki describes it, it’s a classic F1 racing game which also serves as a predecessor to future racing games to come.

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Suddenly, a year has passed and Yu Suzuki has generated another technical marvel, Virtua Fighter. In retrospect, Suzuki wanted to create a fighting game that would beat Street Fighter II. Rather than using traditional 2D sprites, AM2 decided to go for a 3D approach using several techniques they learned with the Model 1 already, “3D graphics in games were very primitive. You could only make models from triangles, which didn’t even have textures. … There wasn’t the opportunity to make graphics that were really beautiful, and because of that I decided to spend all my efforts to make character movements correct and realistic.” For the most part, Virtua Fighter is the grandfather of 3D fighters due to its almost lifelike movements and building the mold for future 3D fighters including Tekken and Dead or Alive. The game also the inspiration for Sony to move forward with 3D graphics on the PlayStation.

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Virtua Fighter is considered to be the pioneer of 3D Fighters and what helped inspire Shenmue

 The Model 2 days

Regardless of the success that Sega was having with the Model 1, time was limited before someone could produce a Virtua Fighter/Racing killer. Already having some of the ingredients for their next arcade board, Suzuki teamed up with Lockheed Martin, a company that’s known for making military equipment for space and aerial technology deciding to buy chip using their latest technology to see how they would come into play in video games.

Originally set for the Model 1, adding in the technology from Lockheed cut short but eventually added on to what now be the Sega Model 2. One of Sega’s most popular arcade boards introduced texture mapping, filtering, and anti-aliasing. This was undeniably a powerful graphics card on the market outdoing  PC graphics cards until 1998.

Correspondingly, there needed to be games to display the capabilities of the Model 2. Though Daytona USA paved the way for what the Model 2 was capable of, Suzuki’s debut game would not be until 1994 with Virtua Cop. In fact, it was one of the first 3D light gun games released at the time, which advertised as the “world’s first texture mapped, polygon action game.” The game revolutionized the genre with headshots and positioned body targets influencing not only Light games, but First person shooters, particularly Rare’s Goldeneye.

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Virtua Cop is what influenced Goldeneye during development as many figures in Rare have stated.

Shortly after Virtua Cop, Suzuki and his team concurrently developed the sequel to their arcade hit, Virtua Fighter for their new arcade board. Virtua Fighter 2 not only improved the mechanics of the game, but as well as the technical aspects of the game, including 60 fps and motion capturing which prior to its release, used primarily in the health care industry.  The game was a massive success with ports released on the Saturn, Genesis, and PC that could not even match the graphical capabilities of the arcade version.

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Virtua Fighter 2 still looks great today.

Striving Ahead of the Game

Immediately, Sega returned to the drawing boards and preparing for its next arcade. Once more, teaming up with Lockheed and Mitsubishi to create the best 3D graphics on any gaming platform, the Sega Model 3. Despite many delays during development, this was the most powerful gaming system out there! The board was a huge success and releasing more Sega influential arcade hit.

As an Illustration, Virtua Fighter 3 was one of the games that debuted with the Model 3 back in 1996. The game introduces multi-level areas (like DOA 2) and a dodge button, but graphically is where the game shines! The game’s praise focused on graphics that compared to the CGI graphics used at the time.

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Virtua Fighter 3 was a massive leap in terms of graphics and better than any other video game at the time

Where does AM2 go from here?

All things considered, it’s because of the games and hardware that Yu Suzuki worked with is where he could combine all those efforts into one giant masterpiece.  Not only that, but because of how capable Suzuki and his team were it was only right to keep pushing the limits of what was possible in the realm of video games. Though AM2 would finally see the true challenge in making video games right after Virtua Fighter 3 where they return to the console gaming market to make one of the most ambitious and influential video games yet

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Sources:

http://segaretro.org/Sega_Model_1
http://segaretro.org/Sega_Model_2
http://segaretro.org/Virtua_Fighter_3
http://segaretro.org/Hang_On
http://segaretro.org/Virtua_Fighter_2
http://segaretro.org/Virtua_Fighter
http://segaretro.org/Space_Harrier
http://segaretro.org/Outrun
http://segaretro.org/After_Burner
http://segaretro.org/Model_3
http://segaretro.org/Sword_of_Vermillion
http://segaretro.org/Virtua_Racing
http://segaretro.org/Virtua_Cop
http://www.system16.com/hardware.php?id=712
http://www.system16.com/hardware.php?id=713
http://www.system16.com/hardware.php?id=698
http://www.system16.com/hardware.php?id=717

How Virtua Fighter Saved PlayStation’s Bacon

What is G-LOC?

Magical Sound Shower: Outrun Retrospective

Cars, one of man’s greatest creation. Some prefer something affordable, accommodate families, or show off stating, “Hey, I received a  load of money or just borrowed an unconsidered amount to buy this and now acquired massive debt.” Come on, don’t tell me you’ve never dreamed of owning a luxurious sports car? But have to push that dream aside simply because being an adult means you have a great amount of responsibility in your shoulders.

Can you imagine it, The dream car, your best friend in the passenger seat, and not a single worry in the world? Driving around the world from the comfort of your car. The American pastime seemingly long forgotten.

Luckily, there’s a game that helps remedy this certain itch! 30 years ago, Sega made this dream into a reality. A game that not only inspired people to take a glimpse into the sweet life while raising the standards of driving games. Whether consumers wanted to pass some breezes, splash some waves, or enjoy the magical sound of rain showers. There’s only one way to remove this bothersome itch, Outrun.16032101

Released in 1986 by Sega by the extraordinary talent that is Yu Suzuki and Sega AM2. Previously responsible for Hang-On and Space Harrier a year before. The 3rd game in Super Scaler series, Outrun revolutionized the racing genre since it’s début back in 1986.

History

Inspired by the film The Cannonball Run, where individuals compete in a cross-country race across the US. Planning to unofficially adapt the film into a game,Suzuki met some unfortunate setbacks as someone ruined  the fun and mentioned that the scenery in the USA was dull, which is a clearly deceptive on their part. As a result, focusing his attention to the scenery of Europe. Driving across Europe and recording the scenery during his drive. Thus, serving as inspiration for the world of Outrun. “I started out from Frankfurt, where I hired a rent a car, and I installed a video camera on the car. Driving around Monaco and Monte Carlo, along the mountain roads of Switzerland, stopping in hotels in Milan, Venice, and Rome, collecting data for a fortnight.” Suzuki, a sports car fan, caught glimpse of something over at Monaco, a Ferrari Testarossa. The latest model of the luxury Italian automobiles from Ferrari.

Astonished by this discovery, Yu Suzuki returned to Japan to test the vehicle out himself. According to certain sources, members of AM2 squeezed to a privately owned Testarossa to record and take notes programming every bit of data into the game.

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Ferrari Testarossa

One of Outrun’s attractions was the game’s fantastic soundtrack. Composed by the legend Hiroshi Kawaguchi, the game offered players with 3 different radio stations which was unheard at the time. “Passing Breeze”, the fusion influenced song that’s the overall mood inspires a laid back ride across the world. “Splash Wave”, the popular rock influenced song for those who enjoy extreme speed and a sense of adventure! Finally, “Magical Sound Shower”, the Latin based song for those who want something a little refreshing while driving around.

 

 

 

In addition, Yu Suzuki emphasizes that Outrun is not a racing game, rather a driving game where players simulate experiencing driving a sports car across luscious tracks. Likewise, it’s understandable to refer to it as such. The objective is to drive across 5 different stages before the clock runs out. Yet, the challenge derives from the player’s driving abilities. At the end of each level, the player can turn left or right at the fork. The left side being easier to complete and the latter poses a grander challenge. There are 5 endings to the game depending on where the player travels too. Punishing players that drive recklessly with a quick game over.

Coinciding with other arcade titles, Outrun’s captivation relies on simplistic gameplay. Yet, mastering will take time and money (well back then).  Hence, requiring a sheer amount of memorization in order to finish the stages as quickly as possible. Making sure players avoid other drivers along the road and efficiently turning to avoid hitting obstacles.

Alongside other Super Scaler titles, Outrun offered multiple cabinets to differentiate the player’s experience. From the deluxe cabinet based off a Testarossa, moving alongside the player turns. But good luck finding a working one these days! Next, the standard cabinet offers a Ferrari without wheels, and the upright cabinet features a mere steering wheel and shift stick which is possibly what’s left of the working cabinets. I won’t lie, I simply love the time and effort Sega put into designing their cabinets. Further indicating  that Sega genuinely cared about the player’s experience making sure they’d return for more.

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Deluxe Cabinet

Home Versions

After all, the game’s success caused Sega to release many home versions. Depending on what the consumer owned, they were either blessed or received some poor excuse of a port. Starting off with some honorable mentions before moving into the highly regarded translations.

First off is the Master System port, a suitable place to start for those looking for an excellent racing game on the Master System. The roads in the game are choppy due to the weaker hardware in comparison to the System 16. Additionally, offering players with an FM-based soundtrack requiring modifications to the Master System.

Next, the PC Engine port is an impressive port considering being on a non-Sega system. Also quite possibly the best 8-bit port out there (16-bit/8-bit who cares it’s personal preference on what the PC engine was) having the full features of the arcade faithfully ported over. One minor issue I have is a humming noise from the engine while driving undoubtedly irritating, but thankfully turning it off remedies this complaint.

Following is the Genesis/Mega Drive version, which for the time was a regarded port. This version offers a new music track exclusive to this version “Step on the Beat”. There are some major issues in this port, including the decision to use a dark color palette, making it seem like the developers did not understand the Genesis/Mega Drive’s architecture or were instead careless enough not to improve this. Besides this also based off the Japanese version, ironically though, the PC engine port features the Overseas layout. How exactly did that happen? Thankfully the color issue improved thanks to Pyron, releasing a patch making the colors brighter hence, bringing this closer to the arcade original. Releasing this to a plethora of platforms, including the Sega Smash Pack for PC, Wii Virtual Console, and Steam.

Moreover,moving into the 128-bit generation, there is a satisfying version included in Shenmue 2, Yu Suzuki Game Works, and Outrun 2. At first glance, setting itself off as an excellent translation of the game.Unfortunately, this is not the case as the audio is off due to issues with the emulation. Even more, the Ferrari logo changed into a generic logo due to legal reasons. Other than that, I think this version of the game plays fine. However, if you happen to come across this version go ahead and give this a try if the sound and the minor graphical changes does not bother you.

Finally, the ports released on the Saturn and 3DS among the best, if not, the definitive options to experience Outrun at home or on the go. Beginning with the Saturn version developed by Rutubo Games under the SEGA Ages collection is the definitive home version. Not only is this arcade perfect, the developers went out of their way to make this a fulfilling experience featuring the option to choose between the Japanese and Overseas layout, a wonderfully arranged soundtrack, and smooth 60 fps mode. Yes, 60 frames per second! Enabling this is pure eye candy. However, the U.S version does not include the arranged soundtrack  being packed along with Space Harrier and After Burner II into a single disc.

All things considered, the Saturn port is stunning, at the same time the 3DS version is on par if not, surpassing the Saturn version. Developed by M2 under the 3D Sega Ages collection. Obviously, M2 were not intending to release a cheap port as member regarded this as “the climax of the series”. M2 included a great amount of time and quality into reintroducing Sega’s classics for a new and returning fans alike. Giving players a multitude of options to experience the game in different formats including: 16:9 widescreen, original 4:3, or emulating the deluxe cabinet, rotating screen, noise, and etc. Additionally, the game has a garage mode where players can customize their vehicle to their liking and choosing from the Japanese or Overseas layout like the Saturn port. Returning from the Saturn version is the ability to choose between the original 30 fps or 60 fps. Finally, a highly regarded addition to this version are two NEW songs. “Cruising Line” composed by  Manabu Namiki (Battle Garegga, Castlevania Rebirth, and DoDonpachi Daioujou) is my favorite of the new tracks feeling like a follow-up to Passing Breeze and feeling like a scrapped idea from the original release. “Camino a Mi Amor” the other track having Latin influenced setting  also sounding reminiscent of other mid-80’s Sega arcade titles including Turbo Outrun, Shinobi, and Thunder Blade. Unfortunately for purists, the Ferrari Testarossa is no longer there since Sega no longer has the license to use Ferrari vehicles at this time.

Equally as important is an unofficial version for the PC, Cannonball, a modest homage to the movie inspiring the game’s conception is essentially an emulator that fixes the bugs from the arcade ROM. Enabling certain features like faster frame rate, scanlines, and Japanese/overseas layout. Though the sound emulation is a little off, a fine choice for those craving to experience Outrun on the PC. By the way, did I mention this is free?

Aftermath

All in All, 30 years later, Outrun is one of the utmost influential racing games of all time. There’s something about its simple yet diverse mechanics. Profound than nearly a majority of the competition at the time. Letting the mind wander off and play pretend. Becoming one of Sega’s more well-known IPs, receiving many spin-offs and sequels throughout the past 30 years, some in particular including Outrunners, Turbo Outrun¸ and Outrun 2. Yet there hasn’t been a new entry in the series in well over a decade. Indeed, a punishable crime for neglecting fans of such an incredible IP! To Yu Suzuki and the wonderful folks over at SEGA AM2, thank you for creating such a wonderful game that has inspired countless memories over the past 30 years.

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Outrun 2, the official sequel released nearly 20 years after the original.

Sources:
http://blogs.sega.com/2015/03/05/sega-3d-classics-3d-out-run-part-1/
http://blogs.sega.com/2015/03/06/sega-3d-classics-3d-out-run-part-2/
http://blogs.sega.com/2015/03/09/sega-3d-classics-3d-out-run-part-3/
http://blogs.sega.com/2015/03/10/sega-3d-classics-3d-out-run-part-4/

http://www.nowgamer.com/the-making-of-outrun/
http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2015-03-22-out-ran-meeting-yu-suzuki
http://segaretro.org/OutRun
http://www.retrocollect.com/News/cannonball-an-enhanced-engine-for-the-classic-arcade-racer-outrun.html

The Revenge of Shinobi

“In the Year 19XX, The Evil Crime Syndicate, Zeed was reduced to rubble by the powers of stealth possessed by the Shinobi Master. It seemed as if the world had returned to peace… But Three Years Later… The world was once again swallowed in darkness. Zeed had returned. With an incredible increase in power. Much greater than before. Neo Zeed became the strongest crime organization ever to exist. After establishing their mighty crime empire, Neo Zeed turned their efforts towards destroying the threat posed by these who possessed the powers of stealth. All of the followers of the power of stealth were attacked and their chief was killed. The Chief, with his dying breath, told Musashi that Naoko, his bride-to-be had been taken hostage but the Neo Zeed. So to get revenge for his comrades and bring  back Noako, Musashi set out for the Heart of Neo Zeed.”

Plot

Revenge of Shinobi also known as Super Shinobi in Japan, released on December 2, 1989 and developed by Sega Consumer Development Division #3, a stunning title for the Sega Genesis. A system released a year before in Japan and in its 4th month in the United States. The first in the Shinobi Genesis/Mega Drive trilogy and frankly the best one. After saving hostages from Zeed, Joe Musashi returns for vengeance for the kidnapping of Noako and the death of his master. Using the legendary skills of the Shinobi master, Musashi puts his skills to the test against his new adversaries.

Gameplay

The game is a major departure from its prequel incorporating a darker setting observed in games like Double Dragon 2 and Belmont’s Revenge. Furthermore, a major addition  Noriyoshi Ohba, director of the game points out being the inclusion of Health Points (HP). “In the original Shinobi, you died when you are hit once, but in the sequel Joe has HP. We designed it this way because while Shinobi was designed to be played for about three minutes with one coin, The Revenge of Shinobi was a console game and cost considerably more. It was also a much bigger game, so introducing a damage system was much more suitable,” Ohba states. Additionally, the objective of saving hostages was all but gone except for Musashi’s Fiancé. The game is challenging,so memorization is essential if one is to survive the challenges ahead.

There are a few exceptional examples of foreground and background switching which shows how far developers were pushing the Genesis’s hardware back in 1989.“If you look at its backgrounds, for example, in usual Mega Drive games there are only two layers of scrolling. However, in The Super Shinobi there are three to four in multiple stages, and this added a great deal of depth that just wasn’t seen in Mega Drive games at the time,” Ohba states.

Equipping Musashi with only his sword, a limited amount of kunai (unless you preform the infinite Shuriken cheat), and his Ninjutsu magic: Ikazuchi, a lightning shield protecting Musashi from attacks for several hits, Kariu, a fire dragon engulfing the screen with pillars of fire clearing out enemies, Fushin, having the ability to jump greater distances, and finally Mijin, where Musashi blows himself up only to regenerate consequently costing the player a life.

The game has a total of 8 stages modeling them similarly to the prequel: two levels and a boss fight.

Music

Composing the music is done by none other than Yuzo Koshiro who masters the Sega Genesis’s audio capabilities early in its lifetime, foreshadowing his magnum opus, the Streets of Rage series. The game’s composition is one of the greatest gifts to the Sega Genesis’s music scene. Thankfully, the developers added a sound test so you can enjoy the music! Composing the music on a PC-88 which used a similar FM Synth to the Mega Drive/Genesis. Accordingly, he would continue this trend during the rest of his Genesis/Mega Drive composition career. Furthermore, the PC-88 version of the tracks features higher quality drum samples. Yuzo Koshiro’s goal was to combine traditional Japanese music with the growing popular electronic dance music. According to Koshiro, a source of inspiration for the track “Ninja Step” was Prince’s soundtrack to the 1989 Tim Burton film, Batman. Without a doubt, ranking  among the best soundtracks on the Genesis. Unfortunately, he would not return to compose the Shinobi sequels.

Besides, heaps of the in-game fonts and sounds return in

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“Yuzo Koshiro who masters the Sega Genesis’s audio capabilities early in it’s lifetime…”

the Streets of Rage Series.

 

Perhaps, any complaints I have with the game are regarding the bland pastel colors in the game which is common with early Genesis/Mega Drive games and the double jumps can be frustrating to perform at times. But, with a little practice and forgiveness on the developers since it was early in the Genesis lifespan these complaints can be forgiven.

Unlicensed Cameos

The Revenge of Shinobi has several bizarre homages of copyrighted material from “Batman”, “Spiderman”, “Godzilla”, “Terminator”, “Hulk”, “Rambo”, and Jackie Chan. Apparently, the original copyright holders were not too fond of their unlicensed appearance so Sega removed “Batman”, changed “Rambo’s” appearance in later revisions, and “Spiderman” was officially put in since Sega had the license for a few revisions. Ironically though, they had the license for “Rambo”, but never used it in this game. “Godzilla” turns into a fossil in the later revisions as well, but the “Terminator/Hulk” remained in all versions.Accordingly, Obha stated that he made a bit of rough sketches from his mind and photos due to his lack of drawing abilities and unfortunately, the sprite designer reproduced them too well developing the sprites in game. In addition to that, by modeling the face of actor Sonny Chiba he was set as the face of Musashi (Kill Bill and Shadow Warriors) which eventually changed in later versions possibly due to legal reasons.

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Few of the infamous unlicensed cameo appearances of copyrighted characters like Spiderman

 

Overall Thoughts

For those who want a trip down memory lane or wanting to start a Sega Genesis collection, the game itself is affordable with it being released onto different platforms like the Sega Smash Pack for the Dreamcast and PC (compatibility will vary) which instead includes a prototype which has many differences from the final product. Not to mention, also downloadable on the  Wii Virtual Console, PSN, and XBLA. For those wanting a physical copy, I recommend the Sega 6-pack which has a great selection of Genesis/Mega Drive titles, including Golden Axe, Sonic, Super Hang On, and Streets of Rage. The game’s soundtrack is available on the The Super Shinobi & Works basing off the PC-88 compositions and Shinobi Music Collection – Legend of Joe Musashi which is based off the Genesis/Mega Drive version. Not only does Revenge of Shinobi look great, it plays well, having one of the best video game soundtrack, and the best Sega Genesis games. I highly recommend people try this game at least once since it shows how impressive Sega’s 16-bit system was in comparison to the NES and PC-Engine. In the end, the game’s legacy remains a respected one for Sega pushing the system’s capabilities early in its lifespan to state, “This is what the Genesis can do that Nintendo can’t!” paving way for Sega domination before the mighty Super Nintendo and a little blue hedgehog arrived.

Sources:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CQULJ98tHLA (Generation 16 Episode 4 by Greg Stewart)
http://www.giantbomb.com/the-revenge-of-shinobi/3030-236/
500 Facts About Video Games Vol. 2 by James Egan pg. 53
http://www.retrogamer.net/retro_games90/the-making-of-the-revenge-of-shinobi/
http://opcfg.kontek.net/archive/yuzointerview.html