Friday, December 17, 2010

Another Sonic Title Joins the iOS Family

Sadly, it ain't Sonic CD, Sonic 3 or Sonic and Knuckles. Rather, SEGA has released Sonic Spinball for iOS devices. If I sound unenthusiastic about it, I apologize. It's just that I would much rather see the aforementioned Sonic games be released first and that I recently got into the handheld emulation scene via the Caanoo and see no point in spending $2.99 on a game when I can play a superior version for free.
Despite this, I should point out two cool aspects to Sonic Spinball for the iPhone: The app icon is pretty sweet, featuring artwork from the Japanese Mega Drive box, and that the game offers up two soundtracks: the US version and the slightly different Japanese version. Pretty cool! Also, SEGA has released Altered Beast for $2.99. If you have fond memories of Toxic Caves and and rising from graves, check these out.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Waahoo! The Caanoo!

Back in 2009, South Korean company Game Park Holdings released the awesome GP2X Wiz handheld video game console. The Wiz was awesome for a number of reasons, but the cheif reason was that it was an open-source device, meaning anybody could develop just about anything for it. While the system does have a number of original developed games, such as the great Wind & Water Puzzle Battles (also available on the SEGA Dreamcast), there is also a massive scene of console emulators that make the device a home entertainemnet system on-the-go. Imagine having everything from the earliest home computers through to the SEGA CD and 32X on one handheld, and then imagine just about every handheld through to the GBA as well. Awesome.

In August of this year, Game Park Holdings returned with an upgrade to the Wiz, the Caanoo. The Caanoo offered a larger, better touch screen, an improved control pad, increased RAM and Wi-fi support. Even better, the Caanoo was priced the same as the Wiz. So after months of waiting, Christmas has finally arrived (almost) and I caved and bought myself a Caanoo! While I don't have it yet, I look forward to adding it to the Nomad Junkyard family of handhelds (which also includes the Game Gear, iPod Touch, GBA and obviously the Nomad). Maybe I'll even review it?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

SEGA drops prices on all iOS games permanently

From the SEGA of America blogs comes a cool piece of news: SEGA has decided to have the prices of their iOS games drop permanently! This is great for those who missed out on the past few sales and were waiting for the next one to come around. Now it's like there's a sale all the time! Check out all the deals:
  • ChuChu Rocket: Now: $2.99 (was: $4.99)
  • ChuChu Rocket HD: Now: $4.99 (was: $6.99)
  • Ecco the Dolphin: Now: $0.99 (was: $2.99)
  • Football Manager 2010: Now: $4.99 (was: $7.99)
  • Golden Axe: Now: $0.99 (was: $2.99)
  • Gunstar Heroes: Now: $2.99 (was: $4.99)
  • Phantasy Star II: Now: $2.99 (was: $4.99)
  • Shining Force: Now: $0.99 (was: $2.99)
  • Super Monkey Ball 2: Now: $2.99 (was: $5.99)
  • Super Monkey Ball 2 Sakura Edition: Now: $4.99 (was: $7.99)
  • Sonic The Hedgehog 1: Now: $4.99 (was: $5.99)
  • Sonic The Hedgehog 2: Now: $4.99 (was: $5.99)
  • Sonic The Hedgehog 4 Episode 1: Now: $6.99 (was: $9.99)
  • Streets of Rage: Now: $0.99 (was: $2.99)
I personally have to recommend ChuChu Rocket, Shining Force and Sonic 4. Three great games for $11!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Chu Chu Rocket gets 100 more puzzles!

Not even a month has passed since Chu Chu Rocket released for iOS devices, and already SEGA has updated the game! Besides the usual bug fixes that come with an App update, Chu Chu Rocket will also be receiving 100 more puzzles created by Europe, Japan, and USA fans for the original Dreamcast release. Most interesting is how SEGA refers to this as "the first update" and stated "we definitely have more planned for the game", meaning more updates are to come and perhaps we can expect more puzzles in the future as well as the inclusion of a puzzle edit mode. Check out the full blog post at the link below, and buy the game if you haven't yet!

[Source: SEGA of America blog]

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Recent Happenings in the Nomad World

What a wild past couple of weeks it has been! Of course there has been some major game and hardware releases, but more importantly I proposed to my girlfriend and we are now engaged! (Insert Nokia N-Gage'd joke here)

In the gaming world, I've been up to my neck in Kinect games. A few months back I preordered the Johnny 5-like device, and just three days ago it arrived at our door. So far I've played six of the launch titles, some were demos, and overall I've been quite impressed. Check out my impressions here! I'm looking forward to trying a few more titles, including the cute overload that is Kinectimals.

In the portable world, I've been playing a lot of Chu Chu Rocket and Sonic 4 on my iPod Touch and recently discovered the digital crack that is Virtua Tennis for the GBA. I never would have thought I'd be making giant sandwiches in a tennis game. Once I get some free time, I hope to give more of the Game Boy Advance titles some attention here at the 'Yard. Sonic's Handheld Adventures Part 1 needs a Part 2!

Oh, and my SEGA Nomad is still doing well. Thanks for asking!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Chu Chu Rocket for the iPhone and iPad RELEASED!

If you own an iOS device, buy this awesome game NOW! The iPhone/iPod Touch version sells for $4.99 and the iPad version sells for $6.99, adding HD visuals and local multiplayer. Still not convinced? Check out my first impressions.

I downloaded the game this morning for my iPod Touch and played it for a good thirty minutes on the ride into work. Upon booting it up, I was greeted by the classic “Sonikku Chimu” intro. Awesome. Graphics and music are much more in line with the Dreamcast version than the Game Boy Advance version, which really makes the game feel like the real thing rather than a portable approximation.

Controls are surprisingly better than the Dremacast original and the GBA version. Rather than moving the cursor to a spot and pressing the arrow buttons, one can simply tough and swipe a square in the direction they want an arrow to go. Fast, simple, easy and I’m amazed that a ten year old game has actually found a control method that beats the original. I’d assume things are even slicker on the iPad, as the squares themselves would be larger. Even so, I never found myself tapping a square that I didn’t mean to tap.

The game features online multiplayer via wi-fi, 100 puzzles, 26 challenges (think real-time puzzles) and a few cool unlockables (pians and chao return). The one omission is a puzzle edit mode, which may turn away some fans. However this is not to say that SEGA couldn’t release this mode in a free update, as they did in releasing additional mini-games to Super Monkey Ball 2. I’m sure that if the game proves popular, SEGA will introduce puzzle creation and trading to increase the lifespan of the game.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Sonic 4 Unboxing and Chu Chu iPhone Dated!

Sonic nut and NJY reader Scott put together this deceptive unboxing video for Sonic the Hedgehog 4 Episode 1. Pay close attention to his actions. Did he "forget" to turn the TV on, or was he up to something else? Was the Sonic hat meant to draw your eyes away from other happenings on the screen? Also, stay tuned for the finale in which he makes a boat appear out of thin air. Truly magical. Great job, Scott! Anyone can make the box! All they need is this stuff.

In other news, Chu Chu Rocket for the iDevices has been given a release date of October 28th! The game will be released in two versions. One for the iPod Touch and iPhone and another for the iPad which will feature 4-player local play. No price has been given yet, but I assume it'll be between $7.99 and $9.99. Killer space cats eating space mice, just in time for Halloween!

[source: SEGAbits]

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Review: Sonic the Hedgehog 4 - Episode 1 (iPhone)

After a staggering two years of waiting, 2D Sonic gameplay has finally returned to the handheld world! What? Oh, you're probably used to the usual Sonic 4 article intro recounting the 16 year wait fans had to endure before seeing the return of a 2D Sonic to home consoles. Well, such is not the case with Sonic in the portable world. Ever since 2D Sonic left Angel Island, he had found a new home on handheld gaming devices. Between 1994 and 2010, Sonic fans have been treated to more than ten 2D adventures. It is probably due to this fact that the iPhone version of Sonic 4 hasn't been receiving the same level of enthusiasm and attention as its big brother console versions have.

Another reason for the lack of attention could be the fact that to some, the iPhone is not a gaming device. While that is a debate for another article, in my opinion the iPhone is just as much a gaming device as the DS or PSP. In fact, don't tell Marcus but as of September this year, App Store sales have surpassed combined PSP and DS software sales. SEGA seems to have noticed this, as over the past few years more and more attention has been given to the iDevices: Super Monkey Ball, Football Manager, Genesis rereleases, the upcoming Chu Chu Rocket and Sonic the Hedgehog 4.

Before Sonic 4's iPhone release, Sonic appeared on the iPhone by way of emulated Genesis games. The games themselves were good, but occasionally choppy framerates, buggy sound effects and inprecise controls made for less than steller Sonic gameplay. It didn't help that the Genesis games were developed with tangible controls in mind, and a touch screen d-pad could not do the games justice. With the release of Sonic 4 for the iPhone, SEGA has the opportunity to resolve a number of these problems simply because Sonic 4 was developed from the start with the iPhone in mind. So how did they do, does the iPhone's Sonic 4 surpass the emulated classics? Does it surpass every other platformer on the platform? It's reviewin' time!

Graphics, sound effects and music
I figure I'll get one of the more controversial ones out of the way first: I like the art style of Sonic 4. I can't quite say it's what I expected, but then again up until last year I wasn't even expecting the game to exist. I think the pre-rendered backgrounds make sense, considering a good deal of Sonic 3 was attempting to have a CGI look. Pre-rendered also helps the game keep a solid framerate, as the device isn't using processing power on rendering true 3D environments. Character models are definitely a step down from those seen in the console versions, however for the size of the screen they do their job. When the game is in action you really don't pay too much attention to how many polygons make up Sonic, you're too focused on getting to the next stage. Overall, environments are a step up from the classics (in crispness and clarity) but characters are a step sideways from the classics and a step down from the console versions of Sonic 4. Still, Sonic does whip out a little iPhone when idle.

"Yo Tails! Where you at?"
Sound effects are true to the Genesis classics, with new sounds falling in line with the classic ring and spring sounds. Some fans have pointed out that Sonic's spin dash sound does not retain the same peel out as before, but in the grand scheme of the game that's a minor detail. Sound effects are what I expected them to be which is really all I could ask for.

Now for the music. While I know this has been a great debate among fans, and whatever I write will do little to sway either side, I have to say that the music suits the game. Tunes are catchy throughout, however certain zones seem to have stronger music than other zones. It's almost as though the music raises in quality as the game goes on, as if Jun Senoue was slowly easing back into classic Sonic composing. If he had gone back at the end and tweaked Splash Hill and the first half of Casino Street, I think he would have nailed it. I do wish that the samples were more in line with the Genesis games, but at the same time I would like it to have more refined CD-quality sound. The music seems to fall in the middle of these two styles, sounding like a refined Genesis composition that works for a majority of the game but stumbles during certain acts. All in all, it is a soundtrack that shows Senoue still has it and could easily top himself in episode 2.


One of the most refreshing aspects to Sonic 4 is that the rules of the game are largely unchanged from the classics. While I did enjoy the Sonic Advance series, I found it quite jarring to boot up a game and find that I had no idea how to access acts or reach special stages (I'm looking at you Sonic Advance 3!). Thankfully, Sonic 4 takes it back to recognizable territory. In fact, Sonic 4 takes it so far back that it borrows from a few aspects of the very first Sonic game. The three act structure makes a welcome return, allowing for each zone to last a bit longer. I also liked the fact that bosses are now their own act (a quasi fourth act, if you will), allowing for the third act to stand on it's own rather than acting as a lead-in to a boss. The special stage access rule of Sonic 1 also returns, with a giant ring appearing at the end of an act if Sonic has fifty or more rings. No more putting an act run on pause while you jump through a sparkling sign post. But more on special stages in the controls section.

The one major gameplay addition that has had fans up in arms is the homing attack, and I want to take a look at both sides of the new attack. The biggest negative of the attack, according to those against it, is that is simply is not classic Sonic. It did not appear in Sonic 1 through 3, thus it has no place in the game. Another negative is that some believe it makes the game far too easy. Rather than aiming a jump at an enemy or item, one can simply jump and hit jump again to blast into it. The closest the classics came to having a homing attack were the untargeted blast, bounce and double jump of the elemental shields but those had to be earned and held on to, lest you suffer damage and lose them. So in summation: those in the nay category believe it makes thing too easy and is not of the classics.

Now for the positives: I have to wonder, if a Sonic 4 did arrive in 1996 on the Saturn would there be a new attack that allows for chaining enemies? Consider what Sonic Team was producing in 1995 and 1996: Sonic & Knuckles had concluded, Knuckles Chaotix was greatly experimenting with the Sonic gameplay formula and Yuji Naka and Takashi Iizuka were developing NiGHTS into Dreams. If a Sonic 4 was created after NiGHTS with Naka and Iizuka at the helm, who knows what the game could have been like. Obviously I'm speculating, but the idea of a chain attack being implemented in 1996 doesn't seem so far off based on the mindset of the senior staff at the time. The Sonic series has always been making additions to Sonic's abilities. Sonic 2 introduced the spin dash which made ground attacks and ground movements much easier, Sonic 3 introduced the insta-shield which gave Sonic a moment of invincibility and the elemental shields. Sonic 4 adds the homing attack which is in the same league as the spin dash and insta-shield. It makes things easier just as those other abilities, but at the same time it adds a new element to the gameplay. I think back to the final words of the Sonic 10th Anniversary booklet released in 2001: Sonic still goes on evolving.

Because we all know that this game was ruined by aerial combos
So how does the game actually play with the attack? I'll be honest, it's fun! Some moments I don't use it as it's just as easy to jump onto an enemy or item, other moments I've used it to keep the momentum going so as not to stop and line up an attack. At any moment that I'm standing or running I have the option to use the attack, and half the time I'll use it. I wouldn't say it's completely optional, I'll touch on that in a moment, but it definitely does not monopolize the gameplay and it can be avoided for the most part if one feels so inclined to limit theirself. There are moments when certain areas cannot be accessed, which requires the attack to be used. But then again, in Sonic 2 and 3 there are certain areas that can only be accessed with a spin dash. The homing attack is needed when coming off a slope in either a run or a spin as this causes Sonic to uncurl leaving him vulnerable to floating enemies. This is the one moment that haters will hate. I found it to not be an issue, as a simple tap of the button brought Sonic back into a protective ball and dispensed with the enemy. Point is, the homing is not game breaking. Even when vulnerable moments arise, there is a way out of it. Either by simply not directing an uncurled Sonic at an enemy, or using a swift homing attack and removing the obstacle.

The full game is spread across four zones plus a boss run zone. Kudos to Sonic Team and Dimps for offering a nice variety of environments when there are only four zones to play. Each of the most popular zone cliches are represented: tropical coast, underground caves, casino and an evil factory. Each zone features a variety of fun zone (and sometimes act) specific gimmicks. If there was one thing from Sonic 3 that Sonic 4 is heavily inspired by, it is that things never get dull or samey moving from zone to zone thanks to varied gimmicks and environments.


Sonic 4 offers up two types of control schemes, the first being tilt based. The tilt controls involve tilting the iPhone left and right for Sonic's left and right movement, tap anywhere on the screen to jump and touch and hold to rev up a spin dash, release to peel out. While tilt control frees the screen up of thumbs, it makes basic platforming too difficult. I could see tilt controls working better on an iPad, but when used on a smaller iPhone and iPod Touch screen it makes the game less like a Sonic game and more like a wacky tilt and tap adventure. In attempting the first zone, I found that less time was spent enjoying the game and more time is spent trying to master the controls. My advice: use the second control scheme, that being touch controls.

Touch controls are much improved over previous SEGA titles. Buttons are responsive and acts can be played through with little to no problems. iPhone novices may take some getting used to playing with an artificial controller, but those accustomed to touch controls shouldn't have many (if any) issues. Of course, all touch controls suffer from having no dimension, so in the heat of things thumbs can be prone to tapping too far from the button leading to missed jumps and movements. I found that the best practice with any touch control is to simply hover your thumbs over the button even when not using them.

While touch controls are the preferred method, that doesn't mean that tilt controls don't come into play at certain moments of the game. Players will be using tilt controls the most in the special stages, which are a lot like the Sonic 1 special stage. The key difference is that rather than moving Sonic through the area, now the area itself is rotated via tilting left and right and Sonic moves through it as a ball. It's ironic that the version of Sonic 4 lowest on the totem pole probably has the most accurate version of the special stage. I've found that there is a second method of touch control which allows the special stages and mine cart to be played with swipe gestures rather than tilting. It works well enough, but I preferred tilting in those stages as it felt more intuitive and freed up the screen.

Tilt controls also come into play in the second act of Lost Labyrinth. This act is, of course, the much derided mine cart stage. While I thank the almighty Segata Sanshiro that SEGA wisely revamped the console version of the stage, I actually found the iPhone version to be fun. Quite clearly this act was made with motion controls in mind, something that the Wii and iPhone would have benefited from but the 360 and PS3 would have ruined (as evidenced by that popular leaked video). The mine cart is a speedy run through mine tunnels involving tilting and jumping. It isn't a true act, which is a shame, but then again it isn't broken. It was nice to see that SEGA didn't ignore the abilities of the iDevices and the differing acts do provide incentive to try the console versions of the game. To put it in internet lingo: Mine cart is not fail.

Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1 is a highly enjoyable iPhone game. While the game isn't quite the perfect mobile version that fans were hoping for, it takes advantage of the device well and shows that things could only get better in Episode 2.

+ Classic gameplay rules apply
+ Touch controls beat out any of the rereleased Genesis games
+ One of the fastest and most professional looking iPhone platformers
+ Game runs smoothly even on the oldest iPod Touch and iPhone device
+ As many acts as Sonic 3 without lock-on

- Character models aren't as good as the console versions
- Tweaks and improvements done to console versions were not carried over to this version  
- Not as many acts as Sonic 1 and Sonic 2



Monday, October 4, 2010

Sonic 4 iPhone Trailer

Pretty cool, huh? Funny how the version that is getting the least attention has the best trailer. I plan on downloading this as soon as it hits the App Store and hope to have a review up as early as next Monday. Until then!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Sonic 4 and Chu Chu Rocket coming to the App Store in October

For the two people who don't know, Sonic 4's release dates have been announced earlier this week and the big surprise is that the mobile version will be the first to release. Sonic 4 will be hitting the App Store on October 7th! No price has been announced yet, but SEGA rep Ken Balough stated "We haven't revealed the iPhone price but it will be price appropriately for the device". My guesstimate would be $7.99 to $9.99.

In other App Store news, iDevice owners can expect Chu Chu Rocket to release in late October. This news comes via SEGA's e-newsletter SEGA Pass. Two potentially great games to bookend my favorite month of the year! What could be better?

Oh yes, a certain mobile device has a certain birthday this month...

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Arts & Crafts: Make your own Sonic 4 Genesis box!

Fool your friends, scare your local video game shop... It's the Sonic the Hedgehog 4 Genesis box paper craft thing! Okay, don't fool your friends and local game shop, you'd just come off as some sort of goofball. However, you can make it for your own amusement. Here's what you'll need:
  • The files, available here
  • A plastic Genesis or Mega Drive case and game cartridge, I used a like-new copy of Death Duel 
  • Two 8.5"x11" sheets of printer paper
  • One 8.5"x14" sheet of printer paper, or whatever can fit a 7"x11" image
  • Tape, plain or double sided
Print the cartridge sticker and instruction manual on the 8.5"x11" pieces of paper, cut on the edge. Fold the manual in half and place a piece of tape inside to keep it shut. Use double sided tape or loops of regular tape to stick the sticker to the cartridge. Print the cover on the larger piece of paper, trim and place in the Genesis box, place the cartridge and manual inside the box. Do the hokey-pokey and turn yourself about. That's what it's all about!

Next week: Make your own Sonic the Hedgehog 4 Game Gear box!


Okay, maybe not.

Friday, September 10, 2010

iPod Gets Chu Chu Rocket and More!

At the rate that the iPod is getting SEGA classics, I should just rename this blog The iPod Junkyard! No no, I couldn't do that to the Nomad. I still love it dearly. However, just look at the lineup of games that SEGA revealed yesterday on 9/9: Altered Beast, Gunstar Heroes and Chu Chu Rocket! What more, SEGA also teased that should fans want Shining Force 2 on the iPod, it's best they request it on their official Facebook page.

While Altered Beast and Gunstar Heroes will probably be nothing more than emulated Genesis games, Chu Chu Rocket definitly will be an original creation for the iPod. Later that same day, SEGA revealed via twitter that Chu Chu Rocket will have all of the Dreamcast levels, multiplayer for up to 4 devices via Bluetooth/WiFi, and the iPad version will have 4 player multiplayer on same device. No word on other features, but I assume anything that was possibile on the Game Boy Advance version will also be on the iPod version.

So the mice are back! Hooray!

Friday, September 3, 2010

My Eleven Hour Dreamcast Party

Last year I held a Dreamcast birthday party which streamed live online. As the Dreamcast was turning ten, I held the party for ten hours. This year, I’m doing one better: one hour better! I’m excited to share “Dreamroom 2010: The Eleven Hour Dreamcast Party”! The official date and times are as follows:

September 9th, 2010
12am-11pm EST (US), 6pm-5am GMT (UK)

Last year was a blast, and I’m sure this year will be just as fun. For those who missed last year’s Dreamroom, essentially it will be ten hours of Dreamcast gaming streamed live online with live chat. The first half will be me going solo playing Dreamcast games. During the second half the IRL party kicks off with whoever I invited showing up for multiplayer games and the occasional visit to Seaman.

Games will be played from my library, and requests are welcomed! Expect to see some of the best, worst and delightfully oddest Dreamcast games. Of course a Dreamcast birthday party isn’t a birthday party without the guests, so I hope to see everyone (virtually) there!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Phantasy Star II hits the iPhone!

One month ago SEGA brought iPhone and iPod Touch owners Shining Force. This Thursday the SEGA RPG love continues with the release of Phantasy Star II! For just $2.99 the classic game will be fully playable, running on the same emulator as previous games. However, unlike games that require precise controls and fail on SEGA's Genesis emulator (I'm looking at you, Sonic 2), Phantasy Star II is promised to be a smooth experience as the game itself does not require fast timing or a fast frame rate.

Here's hoping that we get more SEGA RPGs in the coming months!

[Source: TouchArcade]

Thursday, August 12, 2010

SEGA CD's Road Avenger coming to the iPhone

It's always great to see post-Genesis games get the portable treatment. Data East's SEGA CD game Road Avenger, known in Japan by its original name Road Blaster, is slated for a September release on the iPhone and iPad thanks to a remastering by the developers at Revolutionary Concepts. The game was one of many FMV games to hit the SEGA CD, and was also an arcade game and laserdisc game within Japan.

Like past FMV iPhone releases, Road Blaster looks to be better than the SEGA CD version by leaps and bounds. Revolutionary Concepts promises crystal clear visuals at 60FPS and implementation of tilt controls as well as many more tweaks. Check out the comparison below, thanks to the TouchArcade:

Original arcade release:

iPad release:

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Is that a SEGA Arcade in your pocket?

A little over a month ago I went to my family cabin in northern Minnesota. It had been nearly seven years since I had last been there, and yet when I went back to the same bargain warehouse that I had been to back in 2003 I found the exact same SEGA Tiger LCD handhelds that I had seen hanging on the pegs all those years ago. Guess nobody wanted them.

The Tiger SEGA Pocket Arcade line hit stores during the Saturn years at a time when the clunky old Tiger handhelds were on their way out. Tiger, it seemed, was struggling in a world of Game Boy Colors and was attempting to use the names of big name SEGA Saturn console titles to sell cheap little flip open handhelds. I'm going to assume Tiger failed as a good number of these were found at an overstock warehouse, marked down from $15 to $8 to a final $4.79.

The first of these Saturn titles isn't a Saturn title at all, just don't tell the packaging that. It's Sonic 3!

I guess technically Sonic 3 is on the Saturn thanks to Sonic Jam, but I still think the packaging error is due to a sloppy cut and paste job. As seen above, the button layout is constant among all of the Pocket Arcade releases regardless of the genre, with the only variations being the color of the plastic. I also own Sonic 3D Blast, which essentially Sonic 3 played at an odd 3D-like angle.

For those who don't know what LCD games look like, think "calculator" and you've got a pretty good idea. The background remains the same, and every image on the screen remains hidden until it appears in black. As boring as I find playing LCD games, I always love the creativity that goes into assembling the puzzle that is every image. As nothing can overlap, you get this clusterfuck of character bodies,  legs, arms, enemies and environments. To view every image at once, all you have to do is hit the "reset" button with a pencil.

  As LCD games are so limited, one can imagine that the more complicated the game, the worse the gameplay. Stuff like Pong, Breakout and Tetris can be a lot of fun, but when you take a game like NiGHTS you have near unplayable junk. While I haven't opened the packaging, I do remember playing a friends NiGHTS handheld. If you played the Saturn version, then you sort of got how to play it, however the idea that you could be playing the real version sort of ruins the experience.

Virtua Fighter is definitely an odd choice when it comes to a Tiger game. How in the world can they fit 8 playable fighters on the screen at once? Well, they sneakily made it so that four fighters appear on each side of the screen, with a basic body and then defining characteristics showing up based on the fighter chosen. It isn't perfect, and it's not like they have their signature moves, but it's a creative way of including the full roster. Still, give me the Saturn or 32X version any day.

That's Dural to the right, and I'd assume Kage-Maru on the left.

The final Pocket Arcade title that I own is Super Monaco GP. The gameplay is similar to the old Atari 2600 racing games that required simple dodging and created the illusion of a track via alternating lines.

SEGA and Tiger produced quite a lot of these handhelds. I had thought that the five I own would be the complete set, however a little Google snooping brought me across more including SEGA Raceway and Ecco. Check out my finds below:

I can't even imagine how they'd make a game like Ecco on a Tiger handheld
Probably plays very similar to Super Monaco
Finally, Bug! on the go!
While the Pocket Arcade line isn't too fun a handheld, they make for a pretty cool collectible. The large number of odd titles and low prices make for interesting conversation pieces. Article ending in 3, 2, 1.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Shining Force shines on the iPod!

Didn't SEGA say they were reassessing their iPod presence? Because it seems to me that they're doing the same thing they were doing before: the occasional great 3D title and a number of emulated Genesis budget titles. Despite that, I'm glad SEGA has finally released a Genesis game worth buying an iPhone version of: Shining Force!

Offered up on the same emulation software as past Genny titles, Shining Force actually plays very well. As the game doesn't require precise controls for split-second jumps (a la Sonic), players will barely notice the hiccups that may occur on older i devices. I might even buy the thing for my first generation iPod Touch.

The game is now available in the App store for $2.99

[source: TouchArcade]

Thursday, July 22, 2010

"Ecco" and "Space Harrier II" hit the iPhone

Remember ages ago when that Genesis emulator was announced for the iPhone and then SEGA canceled it? SEGA seems to have salvaged what they could from the canned project and have released Ecco the Dolphin ($2.99) and Space Harrier II (99¢) as single releases for the iPhone. The games are reported to run much more smoothly on the latest iPhone 4 than past Genesis releases, but any users on earlier platforms may encounter slowdown and crashes.

What else is there for me to say? Two more Genesis rereleases for the iPhone, the performance is a mixed bag... uh, let's show another screen shot:

Source: Touch Arcade

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

I'm Still Blogging!

 Hi NJY readers! (I know I have some as Google Analyitics does not lie)

I hate to see a blog go a week, let along a month, without a post. So, I'm dropping a short post to let you all know that the Nomad Junkyard isn't forgotten, it's just that busy time of year. Aside from personal and professional things, I've been quite busy with Sega Memories, the Saturn and Dreamcast Junkyards as well as following E3 and the E3 aftermath. In an effort to pad out a post, here are a posts I've made at the other yards:

My Big Fat Sonic Comic Book Collection
More of my Sonic collection!
Happy 4th! Let's look at a pin!
SEGA might re-release Saturn games
Dreamcast E3 News Roundup

Coming up next: We take a look at SEGA's Tiger Pocket Arcade

Thursday, June 17, 2010

iPhone's Super Monkey Ball 2 Finally Updated

3D graphics, Wi-Fi multiplayer, 115 levels, three mini games and monkeys.

While iPad users have had a complete version of Super Monkey Ball 2 since the launch of the device, owners of the iPhone and iPod Touch version have sadly been without the Monkey Target and Monkey Golf mini-games, only having Monkey Bowling available. Well today, SEGA's update has hit the App Store and is ready for those who already have the app, or those who have yet to purchase it. If you had held off spending $5.99, now is the time to download SEGA's best iPhone offering.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

First Footage of iPhone Sonic 4

The player above is using the tilt controls for left and right movement, however there is also an option for a virtual d-pad. Looking great so far!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

REVIEW: The Firecore Genesis

Before the insanity that is E3 begins, I thought I'd give a hardware review of the Firecore Classic Console. Manufactured by Innex under license by SEGA, the Firecore is essentially a mini SEGA Genesis. Fittingly, it was around this time last year that the Firecore as well as its mobile brother the Retrogen were previewed at E3. You can check out the preview here, but I warn you: a cringe inducing interview awaits.

As I said, the Firecore is essentially a mini SEGA Genesis but is better compared to Majesco's Genesis Model 3, released in 1998. Like the model 3, the Firecore is not compatible with the 32X and Sega CD add-ons. Also, both the Model 3 as well as the Firecore have less than ideal audio (more on that in a bit). Unlike the Model 3, however, the Firecore has a few extra features. The first is a handy little switcher located on the back for use in playing imports. Have a PAL Mega Drive cart? Simply pop in the game, switch from "NTSC" to "PAL" and power it up. Much easier than modding.

Also, you'll notice that the front of the console has an infrared receiver, for use with wireless controllers. Unfortunately, Innex has yet to produce wireless controllers and the existing official SEGA ones will not work making this about as useful as a Dreamcast karaoke machine. Here's hoping they revel wireless controllers at this years E3.

More portable than a Nomad!

The biggest and best feature of the Firecore is the ability to play 20 built-in licensed SEGA games! The games are accessible via a simple menu that appears when the system is powered up without a cartridge. Games are listed in two pages with a small screencap of the selected game. While games include some that have been overplayed in past compilations, there are quite a few classics to be found: 
Sonic and Knuckles, Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle, Gain Ground, Arrow Flash, Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja, Ecco, Jr., Ecco, Golden Axe, Crack Down, Altered Beast, Flicky, Decap Attack, Cyber Police Eswat: City Under Siege, Alien Storm, Shadow Dancer, Columns III, Sonic Spinball, Jewel Master, Kid Chameleon, Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine.

The console also comes with two wired controllers, which are very similar to the official 6-button pads. While a bit lighter than the official pads, they're responsive and buttons have a solid push to them. No mushy pads here. Still, I prefer the official pads and thankfully the Firecore is compatible with the ones I've tested. I did note that when plugging in the official pads, the connector wasn't as tight as the Firecore pads. As long as you aren't yanking on the cord, it stays put and won't throw you off mid-game.

While the above sounds all well and good, there are two big negatives about the Firecore. The first is that the console only outputs composite video and mono audio. No S-video and no stereo. The second negative is that, like the Retrogen, audio is in no way true to the original Genesis sounds. If you are used to the lovely sounds of a Model 1, Model 2 or Nomad, then your ears will be in for a surprise when you hear what almost sound like low-fi remixes. I'm no technical expert, so I can't explain why this is, but I can share a video I made comparing the Firecore and my Saturn, both playing 'Sonic the Hedgehog'.

Sounds pretty bad, doesn't it? Despite this glaring negative, I can't fully write off the Firecore. It has a number of cool features, especially once the wireless controllers are released. Also, the size makes it perfect for taking on a trip or for a crowded entertainment cabinet.

The Good
  • very small
  • region switcher
  • 20 built-in games
  • eventual wireless support
  • 2 controllers included
  • travel worthy
The Bad
  • composite video
  • mono audio
  • audiophiles will hate it
  • eventual(?) wireless support
The Verdict
The Firecore should not be your first Genesis. Buy a Model 1 or 2. However, if you already have an original Genesis, a Firecore makes for a nice second console for use in another room of the house or for use on the go.

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