Also available on PlayStation Vita and Switch
This is literally my new all-time favorite game. Over the course of three weeks, I sank over 430 hours into this game and added it to the VERY short list of games for which I've gotten every trophy/achievement. This game is (almost) literally everything I could possibly want in a video game - turn based strategy, giant space robots, huge explosions, gargantuan lasers...the only thing keeping it from being a LITERALLY perfect game for me is scantily clad anime girls.
SD Gundam G Generation Genesis is basically what would happen if you had a Fire Emblem/Gundam crossover. The mobile suits themselves are done in an SD (super deformed) style, but it's not so severely SD that it stops looking like actual Gundam mobile suits; they just looks a little shorter and fatter than normal. If you include the DLC - all of which can be acquired for around $15 although you'll need a Singaporean PSN account - there are over 500 mobile suits in the game, and it spans the first 100 years of the Universal Century, all the way from Mobile Suit Gundam to Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn plus Hathaway's Flash DLC. There are dozens of warships to choose from, over a dozen SFS sleds, and hundreds of pilots you can scout to serve on your teams (plus the ability to make your own custom pilots) along with dozens of modifications that you can produce and add to your warships and mobile suits to improve their performance.
For people like me who are still getting into Gundam lore and have only really seen the One Year War (although I did finish watching Zeta Gundam the day after I finished this game), the game's retelling of the stories is a great way to get interested in the series and games I haven't experienced yet. You do get some major plot point spoilers this way, but it only hits the major plot points, so there's still a TON of material that you won't see here. The fact that you get to experience (or, if you've seen a lot of Gundam, re-experience) so many parts of the Universal Century gives the game some fantastic depth and appeal.
The visuals are great, but the real star of the show is the music. It's music from the various games and series, naturally, but it's so freaking great. Gundam has some incredible (and, in certain series, thoroughly and excessively 1980s) music, and that music is preserved gloriously in this game. The voice acting - all the original Japanese - is also top notch. This really is the Gundam fan's Gundam game, and it thankfully got an English version in Southeast Asia for PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita (if only Bandai loved us Americans) although the latter is pricey - the average price at the time of writing seems to be about $85. It's also been ported to Switch, although that version has yet to receive a Chinese or English release.
SD Gundam G Generation Genesis is perfection. Pure, unadulterated perfection. Okay, so it's not LITERALLY perfect; there are are some translation issues here and there, but that's really the only issue I noticed. It's NEARLY perfect. 99.99999% perfect. Just like Zeon Zum Deikun and Bright Noa. Literally the two most perfect human beings who have ever existed (albeit in a fictional world). The English version can be a little pricey to import - the average price seems to be around $60 right now although it fluctuates a lot - but it's SOOOO worth it. If you like strategy games OR Gundam, you need this game. Either or. It's a perfect game for fans of either. IT'S PERFECT.
My Rating - S
Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers for Sega CD is one of the cheapest and most shameless cash-grabs I've ever seen out of a video game. Fortunately, this game was never ported to other systems as far as I know (other games titled "Might Morphin' Power Rangers" are totally different games). This is the epitome of how NOT to do an FMV game.
The game consists of pressing the right button at the right time during live action fight scenes pulled straight from the show. That's it. That's the entire game. It's nothing but a constant quick time event. Your performance makes no difference with regards to what happens on screen. If you miss a button, nothing changes except that your "life" meter depletes a little. When that meter is fully depleted, Rita Repulsa appears on the screen to taunt you for getting a game over. This is honestly little more than a low quality VCD. There's zero replay value here, and there's not really any play value in the first place.
Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers on Sega CD is nothing more than one massive quick time event, and it's not even a good one. I like QTEs in games, but I decided that I hated this after about three minutes. It's literally just random episodes' fight scenes with some QTE prompts thrown in to call it a game. Even at the time, you could have gotten a VHS of the show that was higher quality and lower cost. This game is terrible, the people who made it are terrible, and if you actually enjoy it, then your taste in games is terrible.
My Rating - F
Also available on PlayStation, Windows, and in arcade
Area 51 was always an arcade favorite of mine, and its Saturn conversion remains a Saturn favorite. Light gun arcade games were pretty big in the mid to late 90s; at least in my area, light gun cabinets and driving cabinets were usually the only machines that you could still find in commercial operation after 2000. It's a shame that Area 51 never got a cleaned up port to Wii or even PlayStation Move, but as long as you held on to your PlayStation or Saturn and a good CRT TV, the glory days of the 90s can still be relived.
Receiving ports on both Saturn and PlayStation, one cannot help but compare the two. I haven't played the PlayStation version, but I've seen enough footage to make some basic comparisons. While I normally consider the Saturn to be the 5th gen's light gun powerhouse, the Saturn port of Area 51 is, honestly, just slightly inferior to the PlayStation port. The Saturn version has a slight cropping on the game area, and while it is a pretty small frame crop, it is worth noting. Other than that, though, the two versions are virtually identical as far as I'm aware. The FMV and digitized actors look the same, they seem to have similar loading times from what I've seen, and the performance of the two are equally stable.
The game's story is that you're part of a special forces team sent in to sanitize the secret US base at Area 51 after an alien contagion spreads through the base and turns the base personnel into alien zombies. In the later stages of this infection, the victim eventually morphs completely into an alien. As you move through the base on the game's rails, you have to shoot any infected personnel to clear the base. Getting shot, obviously, takes away a point of life, and shooting one of your allies takes away a point of life as well. You can use grenades (if you have any) to clear the screen of enemies, and you can find powerups in the environment that can upgrade your weapon to either a shotgun or a machine gun. All in all, it's a pretty standard rail shooter, but it's absolutely expertly crafted.
Area 51 is an absolute cheese-fest, but it's the sci-fi B-movie kind of cheese which I absolutely love. Even if that kind of cinema cheese isn't your cup of tea, the gameplay is so on point here that it more than makes up for the cheese acting. Truthfully, the PlayStation port is the superior of the two, but I'm a Saturn guy, so this is my version of choice, especially considering that the only real difference that I saw was that there's a very slight frame crop on the Saturn version. Either version you play, however, is going to give you an AWESOME rail gun experience.
My Rating - A
Also available on Sega CD, Sega CD 32X, 3DO, Mac OS, and Windows
Having played through Corpse Killer on Sega CD 32X, I figured I might as well replay it on Saturn to compare the two versions I own. As oone would expect, the two games are almost identical. They are, after all, the same game just on different generations of hardware. There are some major differences between CD 32X and Saturn that are worth noting, however, both good and bad.
The most noticeable difference going from CD 32X to Saturn is the boost to performance. Whereas the Sega CD and Sega CD 32X has noticeable and regular frame stutters (especially the latter), the Saturn version has smooth scrolling that, from what I could tell, rarely if ever breaks from a solid 30 fps. It sounds minute, and you don't realize how much nicer and smoother it is until you compare the two directly, but it really is a big improvement. Much less drastic but still noteworthy are the improvements to video quality. Being a beefier system, the quality of the video clips is improved quite a bit although the boost isn't as immediately noticeable or as significant as the improvement to performance.
There are a handful of other changes that are much more minor. A difficulty setting has been added in case you want to play that's both really bad AND impossible to beat. There are now zombies that pop up right in your face and cover the whole screen in a lame attempt at a jump scare. They also added in English subtitles since the Rastafarian driver's dialogue definitely doesn't count as English in my book. Unfortunately the biggest change made in the jump to Saturn was negative - the control options. Unlike on Sega CD, Sega CD 32X, and 3DO, you can't use a light gun on the Saturn version. Forget the fact that the Saturn has a FANTASTIC light gun and in fact was the best system until the Wii for light gun games. They don't let you use one at all. You're stuck with your frankly useless controller D-pad to aim. Had they allowed you to use a light gun for the game, this would definitely be the definitive console version of the (admittedly crappy even on a good day) game, but they just ruined it with that one change.
Corpse Killer on the Saturn isn't any less terrible than it was on the Sega CD 32X. There are some definite improvements - the visuals are much clearer, the performance is much improved, and the addition of subtitles and difficulty settings are nice bonuses - but the removal of light gun support detracts FAR more than the aforementioned improvements added. Even despite the inferior visuals and lower performance stability, I'd take the Sega CD 32X version over the Saturn version of this game any day. Of course, I'd rather just avoid the game entirely because it's a steaming pile of crap.
My Rating - F
Also available on Sega CD, Saturn, 3DO, Mac OS, and Windows
When most people think of 90s full motion video games, they usually think god awful bottom-of-the-barrel tier games, and for those who've played it, Corpse Killer is probably the specific game that first comes to mind. There are four different console version of this game as well as two computer versions, and I only have two of those versions, but from what I can tell, the Sega CD 32X version is decent as far as console releases go.
Corpse Killer is an FMV light gun game that has you play as an unnamed United States Marine who's air dropped (and promptly caught dangling in a tree) onto an also unnamed tropical island to stop the evil Dr. Hellman from using a blend of science and voodoo to create an undead zombie army. Helping you on your quest is a blonde reporter who is definitely one of the most obnoxious companions in gaming history and a Rastafarian driver whose fake Jamaican accent is so thick that he's only technically still speaking English (seriously, I work with like half a dozen Jamaican immigrants, and I can understand all of them just find, but this dude is incoherent).
In between video cut scenes with excruciatingly terrible acting and writing (despite the fact that two of the actors - Rastafarian chauffeur and mad scientist guy - are actually decent actors otherwise), there are gameplay sequences. Unfortunately, unlike most light gun shooters of the era, these sequences aren't on rails going through an area, per se; it's more akin to being in a jeep that's slowly meandering along on a sight-seeing trip as the screen just sort of slowly scrolls from left to right at a constant pace while zombies rush towards you. The backgrounds are all actual digitized images, and the zombies are all digitized real life people in costume which is actually fairly impressive. What's not so impressive is that there's no background embellishment whatsoever - no burning barrels or anything - and the zombies all look more like a drunk old man stumbling towards the bathroom than undead monsters trying to eat your flesh.
Being a Sega CD 32X release, this version is obviously inferior to the versions released on the Saturn and 3DO, but there are some noticeable improvements over the base Sega CD release. First and foremost, the picture quality is a bit better with slightly less fuzzy blurring and a noticeable increase in contrast and saturation. There's a bit of an awkward hiccup every couple frames that's a bit more pronounced on CD 32X than on the regular Sega CD release, but I didn't find that to be too troublesome. To this version's credit, it allows the use of an actual light gun. The Sega CD version also allows this, and I've read that the 3DO version does as well despite making no mention of it anywhere on the packaging although I can't confirm that for myself, but the Saturn version oddly omits this feature leaving you with AWFUL D-pad aiming. I tried the D-pad aiming on the CD 32X version just to try it out, and it's....bad. However bad you imagine it would be, it's worse.
Corpse Killer is not a good game. It's a visual improvement over the Sega CD version, and it has definitely superior controls over the Sega Saturn version, but it falls short of the 3DO version, and even a good version of a bad game is still bad. It's a good example of what, in the early 90s, the FMV and "interactive movie" craze was all about, but it also exemplifies that it's a fad that's worth staying buried in the past. It's a neat piece of gaming history, and it has some definite B-movie cheese charm if that's your cup of tea. Even that, though, wears thin quickly once you realize that the game really just isn't that good. I can't recommend Corpse Killer to anyone unless you just LOVE bad FMV games. It's definitely one of the better versions of the game, but there's just not a lot to love here.
My Rating - F
Also available for Sega CD, Sega CD 32X, 3DO, Xbox One, Mac OS, MS-DOS, and Windows
Night Trap is both one of the most recognizable as well as one of the most infamous FMV games of the early 1990s. It was actually originally filmed in 1987 and planned for the Control-Vision, an unreleased game system that used VHS tapes rather than cartridges, but the footage was shelved until 1992 when it was revived for Sega CD. It was ported to 3DO a year later and to MS-DOS, Mac OS, and Sega 32x (still requiring Sega CD) a year after that. In 2017, a 25th Anniversary Edition that no one asked for (or really wanted) was released on Windows and PlayStation 4 with an Xbox One port coming at some point in the future.
The basic premise of Night Trap is that teenagers have started going missing around one particular house, and the SCAT (Sega/Special Control Attack Team) is planning an operation to investigate and bring those responsible to justice. To do this, they take control of the house's suspiciously elaborate camera and trap system and plant one of their own (bizarrely young) agents in with a group of teenagers staying in the house overnight. The player controls the six cameras as well as the traps and must activate the traps at the right time to catch the "Augers" (vampires) and keep the teenagers safe. Missing too many Augers will result in a game over (I think you get a game over at like 20 missed or something like that).
The reason for the game's relative notoriety is not that it's actually all that risque by today's standards but rather that it - along with Mortal Kombat - was the catalyst and major focal point of the Congressional hearings on video game violence spearheaded by Senator Joe Lieberman (CT-D) and Senator Herb Kohl (WI-D). The claim was that the game portrayed extreme violence and promoted sexual aggression against women. If you actually play the game, you'll see that the only "violence" is pretty mild, and the claims that it promotes sexual aggression against women is completely ridiculous (unless, of course, we're implying that pajamas are somehow inherently sexual). Folks today tend to remember the claims that the game was horribly offensive more than anything actually questionable or controversial in the game.
Given that the game uses film from the late 1980s, the video quality is obviously not great, but in my opinion, that's part of what makes it great. It's the most gloriously cheesy 80s thing I've ever played. The hair and outfits are both just dripping with the 80s, and the entire style and premise is the type of experimental "this is probably a bad idea but let's do it anyway" gameplay that games these days just don't attempt anymore. Despite all this, though, the game is actually really fun and addicting. In terms of overall quality, I only have two real complaints. There are times when you have to change the color code to control the traps, and you get the code you need by listening to dialogue between the homeowners' family in the right room at the right time. Unfortunately (as this really breaks my immersion), these code change dialogue clips are significantly lower audio quality than the rest of the recordings. The other issue is that there are major audio bugs usually resulting from pausing the game. Pausing the game several times to pee, get another Coke, answer a text, etc. led to my game's audio and video being a full five or six seconds out of sync by the end of the game. On my attempts where I didn't pause, though, I'd either have less than a second or only a second or two of sync issues by the end. It's not usually a big issue for the actual gameplay, but it's extremely irksome and kills your immersion.
The actual gameplay involves switching between six cameras in six different rooms of the house. There are often different clips with characters in multiple rooms at a single time, so if you really want to see and experience all of the glorious 80s cheese, you'll have to do multiple playthroughs. There are also six endings, so there is a bit of replay value here. You have to switch between the various rooms (this mechanic influenced the vastly inferior Five Nights at Freddy's, I think) and keep an eye out of Augers entering the house. When the Augers walk by a trap, you have to activate it at the right moment to catch them and keep the teenagers safe. There's a color coded bar to help you with your timing; it's green when no one's near the trap, yellow when someone is approaching the trap, and red when you need to activate the trap. There are a few instances when you can catch good guys in the traps accidentally, so you need to be careful with your timing (and, honestly, be willing to put up with a bit of trial and error).
Unfortunately, once you have seen all of the endings and such, there isn't a whole lot of reason to come back to the game. The timing and locations where the Augers appear are all set; the only thing at all random about the game is what color allows control of the traps. There is, however, a wave mode that I haven't personally tried out but seems to give some extra content for those who just can't get enough Night Trap. In addition to that and the main mode, there are some unlockables that you can access by beating the game under various conditions including Scene of the Crime, a prototype that was originally used to pitch the game's concept.
By today's standards, Night Trap is a pretty simple game. At the time, though, it was fairly revolutionary. It's not an amazing game, but it's definitely fun, and I thoroughly enjoyed my time with it and plan to revisit it later one (probably while drunk at a party). The various scenes that play throughout the game and trying to keep an eye out of Augers and time their capture right is a lot more fun than it sounds, and I was actually extremely surprised by how much I enjoyed the game. That said, while it's definitely a good game, I can't say that it's a "great" game. It does tend to get rather told relatively quickly, and there's isn't a whole lot of variety with it. While physical copies are a bit pricey - around $50 for PS4, $60 for Sega CD and CD 32X, and $80 for 3DO - you can get it digitally on PS4 or PC for $15, and I'd definitely say it's worth the $15 asking price.
My Rating - C
Also available on PlayStation Vita
Bandai Namco has a bad habit of neglecting us Westerners when it comes to Gundam games. We've gotten several, but it seems like for every Gundam game that we get, there's three that we miss. Fortunately, a lot of games that don't make it out of Asia still end up having English subtitles in Chinese or general Asian releases. One such game is Gundam Breaker 3, and if you can get the Breaker Edition, you get all of the DLC on-disc since the PlayStation Store is locked based on your account's region.
The Gundam Breaker sub-series has a unique premise. Instead of flying giant robots in space fighting some war, you play as some random dude who likes to build Gunpla, the plastic Gundam models. These Gunpla models then interface with some VR-type machine and lets you battle other players' Gunplas. It provides, therefore, a much more light-hearted story than most Gundam games, but what it also allows for is much greater customization. Want the head of a Zaku II, the body of a GM, the arms of a Guntank, the legs of a Rick Dias, and the beam saber and beam rifle of a Zeta Gundam? Go for it. Want to attach seven Mega Particle Cannons to your chest and annihilate everything in your path a golden beam of justice? It's all you, man. Want all of that in a hot pink paintjob with black and electric blue accents? You got it. The customization options are nigh infinite, and you can merge plastic or even other components with your equipment to level it up, strengthening it and keeping it on par with increasingly difficult enemies.
The game's main story follows the Gunpla team of a small Japanese shopping arcade that's being pushed into obscurity by the encroaching monopolization of a massive American retail conglomerate. Your team takes part in Gunpla tournament to try to get the shopping arcade's name out there and bring in more customers to revitalize it. You play through the City Cup, the regional tournament, the Japan national tournament, and eventually even the world tournament. Then some plot stuff that I won't spoil happens. It's a fairly light-hearted story, and it's not exactly an exemplar of compelling storytelling, but it serves the purpose well enough. The game is broken into five chapters with roughly 13 missions in each chapter, but there are also online modes, arena battles, and, if you have the Breaker Edition, a good number of DLC missions to play.
Visually, the game looks absolutely fantastic. I'd love to have the Vita version to play and compare, but it looks glorious on PS4. Set your Gunpla's paint to metallic and high gloss, and it's like you're piloting a solid gold robot. If you're as tacky and gaudy as me, anyway. I guess you could give it normal colors, but what's the fun in that? The absolute highlight of the game in my opinion is the customization options. No two players will likely ever have exactly the same mobile suits, and with the merge feature, any mobile suit setup can be good if you put in the effort to craft it into the role you want. It gives the player total agency over his or her Gunpla, and that's EXACTLY what I've always wanted in a Gundam game - the ability to build whatever crazy ass Gundam I want.
Gundam Breaker 3 is an absolute gem of a Gundam game, but it's not perfect. The gameplay does get somewhat repetitive, and it's probably best played either with a friend or in short bursts, but it is still absolutely fantastic. It's not exactly cheap - roughly $60 for the Break Edition with English subtitles - but it's well worth it if your'e a fan of Gundam. I can't recommend this highly enough.
My Rating - B
I'm a teacher.
And I like to play video games. I like to collect video games. I like to talk about video games, and I like to write about video games. During the day, I teach high school history; during the night, I spend my spare time gaming. Then I write about it.