I would like to start off by once again thanking all the contributors over at segaretro.org for making these posts incredibly easy for me to put together. I know fanwiki’s get a lot of flack, but it’s really just the ol’ 90/10 rule in action. (Also, considering how much of a sustained dumpster fire capital W wiki has been over the years, the bar is low.) Lastly, I’ve been slowly getting my cohost established, and have ended up following a lot of video game bloggers, one of which has a good number of SEGA AGES reviews that will surely be helpful for anyone curious about playing some of the games featured.
The Shining Force games are (mostly) tactical RPGs, which are games I enjoy playing…provided there is some sort of turn rewind function. I was even able to suffer through the original Fire Emblem with its magic. Not so much actual magic though, as it wasn’t until I nearly finished the game that I realized tomes have 1-2 range.
Back to Shining Force. Various characters make an appearance, but it was Sheela’s sprite that reminded me of another S-named character – Seto Kaiba. But the similarities end there – Sheela is apparently a ‘Master Monk’ seeking revenge on the ‘Red Baron’ for killing her fiancé.
Only one of these people might send you to the shadow realm
Speaking of the Red Baron, according to Sega Retro, “after defeating him in battle, he is freed from his possession and tries to kill himself out of remorse, but he is unable to do so as he has become an immortal vampire and joins the party instead.” Right, of course. There’s also no shortage of unique promoted classes, such as Robot, Monster, and Bird Battler. Sounds like a time!
There’s a few entries from Arrow Flash, but it’s the protagonist Zana Keene that caught my eye.
I was immediately struck by what a cool sprite this was. (Later, this would kick off my discovery of the lack of ‘space greens’ in the DMC embroidery floss inventory.) But besides that, I don’t really have anything else to say about this Sega shoot-’em-up.
Space Harrier vs. Fantasy Zone
Space Harrier is one of those games I’ve heard a lot about over the years, and have absorbed pretty much none of it. Looking at playthroughs, I understand why. Really one of those games you have to see in action to get a handle on.
Weirdly, the one thing I did remember is that lore-wise it’s connected to Fantasy Zone.
And the one thing I knew about Fantasy Zone is “the game with Opa Opa in it”. I have no plans to play either, but these are definitely two heavyweights of the era.
I was very pleased to find out this is exactly what it sounds like – a beat-’em-up that takes place in a ‘comics zone’. Basically, the protagonist gets isekai’d into his own comic, which unfortunately for him is not a schooldays romcom, but a post-apocalyptic alien invasion sci-fi dystopia. Let this be a lesson to all aspiring artists.
Also, his pet rat, Roadkill, is there too.
Columns III: Revenge of Chicken
In this clip, I express my confusion at their being a chicken in Columns III. I am passively familiar with the Columns franchise, if only through Jonathan Kim’s megathread on the subject. But despite the Chicken being plastered absolutely everywhere on Columns III promotional material, I quickly realized why I had no strong memories of it, unlike the Eldritch God Baby from Stack Columns.
That’s right, the NA box art for Columns III features the infamous “Columns guy”. No chickens here.
Anyways, this still doesn’t explain the sudden appearance of a poultry-based mascot. I read through a bit of the Japanese manual looking for Chicken Lore™, and only found various illustrations, one of which made me suspect the chicken is perhaps a bit of an angry drunk. Not that there isn’t plenty to be found in the manual – it seems to provide a very comprehensive overview of how to play the various game modes.
A platformer starring a…star. With sneakers. If you’re wondering “is there a Sonic connection”, the answer is yes. However, the key mechanic is not going fast, but using your stretchy arms to grab stuff. This is normally where I would make fun of the game’s concept, but after Dynamite Headdy, it’s hard to really throw me anymore.
I guessed the last game featured in Clip Picross (Streets of Rage) fairly early on, thanks to a) the first three puzzles conveniently being people’s faces, and b) my familiarity with Yuzo Koshiro tracks. But I forget how much work he’s done over the years, and The Revenge of Shinobi is one of his more famous entries.
Both this and Shadow Dancer are follow-ups to the original Shinobi game, but it seems like if you’re gonna play a Shinobi game, Revenge is the one to get.
That does it for my SEGA x Picross adventures! I’ve mentioned before that it seems like a good advertisement for the games in question, and indeed, I did end up purchasing the SEGA AGES version of Phantasy Star to play at a later date. Also, for anyone who has the ultra mega Nintendo Switch Online subscription, there’s a good handful of entries available to play there as well.