System: Sega Megadrive / Genesis
Developer: Game Refuge, Inc
Publisher: Electronic Arts
War is Hell, a hell of a lot of fun that is, in Electronic Arts’ 1993 title General Chaos. The game immerses the player in a frantic small scale war raging across a wide variety of pseudo three-dimensional single screen backdrops; The battlefield is rendered in a bright, colourful cartoon style reminiscent of SNK’s supreme Metal Slug.
Prior to commencement of battle the players assemble a five-man squad of gung-ho heroes, mixing and matching at will from amongst machine gunners, flame-thrower bearers, grenadiers, and rocket launchers. The different soldier classes muster different capabilities, including varied weapon ranges and instant-kill attacks. One of the five available soldiers appears for all the world to be U2 front-man Bono’s evil alter-ego; sporting wrap-around shades and wielding a flamethrower, world peace seems the last thing on this guy’s agenda.
The player’s squad is controlled via a simple and effective point-and-click interface; a large cursor is guided to a suitable location, to which the currently selected squad member can be commanded either to run, or directed to unleash their arsenal.
System: Sega Megadrive/Genesis
Developer: Sega, Ancient
* Please note, this review was written in 2008 – certain dates and prices are accordingly now incorrect!
Very nearly 16 years ago Sega unleashed Streets of Rage II, the title promising an entire 100 per cent more angst than the original. Why so much Rage? Perhaps because back in 1993 when this bone-crunching side-scroller fought its way onto the Megadrive games regularly hit the £45 mark; according to a very, very dull House of Commons Library report, that would set you back roughly £80 today. That’s enough to wind anyone up.
Feeling like an evolution of the ZX Spectrum’s iconic Renegade, Rage II is set on the mean streets of a violent metropolis, seemingly a ghastly premonition of contemporary urban Britain; stabbings, hooliganism, and discarded KFC abound – but this is surely fantasy not prophecy, as the enemy reprobates are unable to hide behind their ‘human rights’, and beatings, not ASBOs, are meted out by the player’s character of choice (all, thankfully, more vigilante than Community Support Officer).
Most of us who grew up in the ‘70’s remember the institution that was the ‘roller disco’. Part of me likes to think that one of the game’s two new characters, eight-wheeled Eddie ‘Skate’ Hunter, was inspired by memories of pugilistic mayhem witnessed at just such an abomination (hopefully set to the sound-track of Saturday Night Fever).
Even more so than the fine original, the sequel’s game-play is immediate, relentless, and deeply satisfying. The four playable characters deliver convincing blows both with limbs and a variety of weapons, ploughing through the interactive stages and enemies alike – can any guy not wince at the knee-in-the-groin manoeuvre?
The action is complemented by an aural and visual feast in which fantastically atmospheric early 90’s dance music provides the backdrop to a cacophony of visceral, oddly satisfying thuds, cracks and screams. The graphics are at once vibrant and gritty; a walk amongst these streets is like a brawl in Tech Noir, without the Terminator as bouncer.
If you don’t have your Megadrive to hand then fire up your favourite emulator and transport yourself back to an era when rage-fuelled punishment beatings kept the streets clean for the good people of the land.