I had a nice stroke of luck at the very beginning of my quest to rebuild my video game collection. In the attic of my childhood home there lay a bag containing no less than five Mega Drive games. As is the case with practically everything I own the condition of these items was near perfect, apart from a healthy coating of dust. So what gems you ask were in included in this little haul? Well I had Road Rash, Desert Strike, PGA Tour Golf III, Flashback and Ballz. My delight at finding these five was somewhat tempered by the fact that the real stars of my collection like Streets of Rage 2 or NBA Jam were not among them. Just were did they go I wonder.
So what do I make of this collection of Mega Drive games that shall form the beginnings of this new collection?
Of the five it is Road Rash that had the most play time back in the day. Who can forget flying along the road hitting your opponents with a chain or a nice forearm smash before ploughing headlong into an oncoming car. You'd get that sinking feeling that the race was lost as you ran back to your bike and saw the other contestants fly past racing towards the finish. I'm positive that I wasn't the only one that wished you could actually enter the houses along the road that you'd encounter while looking for your bike. Little did we know we'd have to wait the best part of a decade for GTA III to arrive to fulfil that little wish. As I write this I'm beginning to wonder if I owned Road Rash 2 (RR2).
[Returns back from Wikipedia] It appears that I might also have owned the sequel. The box art doesn't look that familiar but the chain weapon is actually in RR2 not the first game as I originally thought. It is possible that I just had a loan of RR2 which means I'll have to put it on the list of
Desert Strike is a game that I got with the Mega Drive. It didn't come bundled with the console, I think my mother bought it at the same time but I could be wrong. It was an enjoyable game even though I didn't manage to experience that much of it. You see, I found the game impossibly hard. If it wasn't the eagle-eyed enemies swatting me from the air it was the gas guzzling helicopter that would fall from the sky, out of gas yet again. I also think that I never quite got the hang of the controls, I was just never precise enough for the more delicate manoeuvres. If memory serves I never did get past the first level. Was there even a next level? Even now I'm unsure. I remember going back to the game time and again determined to crack that level once and for all. Perhaps when I get a Mega Drive up and running again I will attempt it one final time.
PGA Tour Golf III
I guess everyone has a golf game in their collection somewhere even if they aren't a fan of the sport. They always seem like a good idea at the time as they tend to be highly addictive and fun at the beginning but that, for me at least, only lasts a short time. Perhaps it is the repetitive nature of the control scheme - press A, followed by A and press A again. PGA Tour Golf III as no different. Then again not being a golf aficionado it is possible that I am missing out on the little nuances that would have made the game more fun in the long run. Thinking about it now I thought the graphics at the time were very impressive, the player models trying to achieve a very realistic look. Quite impressive at the time but one suspects if I were to play it now the graphics wouldn't hold up at all. Another memory associated with this title is the fact that it remains the only game that I have played with my dad. Having said all that I did fall into the golf game trap only last year with Tiger Woods 10 on the Wii. Yes, it was fun at the start, especially with Wii Motion Plus but I haven't even completed one tournament yet. I really must go back and try again.
Flashback was an interesting game. At the time I remember having saved enough for a new game and thought that the screen shots of the game in C&VG magazine were awesome. Perhaps I didn't know what type of game it was or was just sucked by the amazing visuals but I picked up the game regardless in Artane Castle. There must have been a toy store there back then, I don't recall exactly. What followed was one of the more embarrassing episodes of my gaming life. The game opens with the main character, Conrad lying on the ground. Control is passed to me and I walk him to the side of the screen to continue. Nothing happens. The screen doesn't scroll. Nor does a new screen load. It appears I'm stuck on the opening screen. I try everything I can think of to make some progress but fail spectacularly. I'm not sure how much time goes by but I eventually try to return the game. They guy in the shop puts the game on and of course doesn't see anything wrong. The game turns on and looks fine from his point of view. I have no idea what I tried to argue. Did I suggest the rest of the game was missing? Anyway, I returned home defeated with the same copy of Flashback in my hand.
I'm not sure how long after that episode I figured out what I was doing wrong. Perhaps I just read the manual. But a simple press of 'up' on the d-pad would have solved all my problems as Conrad reaches up and pulls himself to a new part of the screen. Progress. Finally. I never did get that much further. The game was extremely difficult, at least I found it so. I loaned it to a friend once and found out that he had gotten much further than I had. How annoying is that? Despite never having that much fun with the game I still remember it fondly and actually ended up owning the sequel Fade to Black on the PSOne. One more thing about Flashback was the awesome box art. Looking at it now it has a definite iconic quality. I'm sure most gamers my age would recognise it.
The last of the games contained in the bag was Ballz. Or Ballz 3D: The Battle of the Balls to give it it's full title. I'm pretty sure that I picked this up towards the end of the Mega Drive era. I think I got it cheap enough in the old Electronic Boutique store on Dawson Street. I miss that shop actually. There isn't much of this title that sticks in the memory, in fact I had to resort to Wikipedia just there for a refresher. I guess the game was a bit of a laugh but with Mortal Kombat II in the collection and Super Street Fighter II on my friends SNES to play I really don't see why I bothered with such an inferior fighter. On the plus side I don't have to try to track down a copy of it now.