No Budget Gaming – Old School Sega

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Low on funds? Is Steam’s five dollar section making a bonfire out of your wallet? No worries, No Budget Gaming is here to help you sort the old school hits from the dinosaur bones. Today I’ll be looking at three classic Sega Genesis titles – run and gun platformer Gunstar Heroes, tactical RPG Shining Force, and  quirky puzzle game Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine to answer one simple question: are these “golden oldies” worth your five dollars?  

Photo Credit: SEGA/Treasure

If you’ve never gotten to experience Treasure’s Gunstar Heroes, then you are missing out on one of best platformers ever made. Gunstar Heroes has you playing as good guys Red and Blue on a quest to reclaim four magic gems while blasting, dive kicking and throwing your way through legions of enemies. The gameplay of Gunstar Heroes is excellent- both easy to pick up with a surprising amount of depth within the options of playstyle and weapons given to you. Levels are short, yet incredibly memorable and the kind you want to replay again and again.

The game also hits a happy medium of classic game difficulty. Bosses are hard but fair, and it is incredibly satisfying when you finally figure out their patterns. Alongside this, the game has a lovable charm and personality. The games vivid colors, constant explosions, weirdo bosses, and tongue in cheek humor were welcome sights amidst the chaotic gameplay. Simply put, Gunstar Heroes has held up as a gaming paragon for a reason, and if you’ve got three dollars to spare, you deserve to experience it.

Photo Credit: SEGA/Climax Entertainment

Shining Force is a tactical RPG in the vein of Fire EmblemFinal Fantasy Tactics, or The Banner Saga. The evil Darksol plans to do bad things, and you must lead a band of heroes to stop him. Battles play out like chess as you use each unit’s special skills to overcome enemies. It may not have the narrative twists of its contemporaries, but I found the gameplay intuitive, air tight, and fun. The game also lacks Fire Emblem’s love it or hate it “A Unit That Dies Is Gone Forever” mechanic, though battles still prove challenging without it.

Sadly, Shining Force’s age shows. The battle animations are stylish, but the overworld graphics are definitely not. The game also lacks many of the unique  features and customization options of its counterparts: your Mage can be nothing but a Mage, you can’t marry Tharja, etc. While I found that this added an engaging “make the most of what you have” feel to game-play, it also left the experience a bit dry. The battles were the only thing that kept me coming back. If you want a minimalist, tactical RPG with great battles and little else, give Shining Force ago. Otherwise, save your three dollars for something flashier.

Photo Credits: SEGA/Compile

Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine is a Puyo Puyo clone deep fried in Sonic The Hedgehog batter.  Puyo Puyo games are very much like Tetris with a twist – blobs called Puyos fall from the top of the screen. You try to stack them up in color matching sets of four, clearing your field as Puyos drop faster and useless “garbage” Puyos impede your progress. At it’s best, Puyo Puyo is fast, fun, and a great game to play with against friends.  Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine is a Puyo Puyo game at its worst.

Most recent Puyo Puyo games have excellent tutorials, a wide array of quirky playable characters, and a plethora of game modes for first timers and veterans alike. Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine has an infuriating, beginner unfriendly single player Story Mode, a bland multiplayer Vs. Mode, and a skeletal Exercise Mode you can’t exit out of. A veteran fan might wet their appetite, but newcomers will find very little to do, and the game doesn’t do a good job of showing you how. As much as I long to satiate my Puyo Puyo puzzle sweet tooth, Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine is a poor imitation, and not worth the cash.

That’s all for this week. Do you have a request for what genre or category of $5 games I should look at next week? Leave it in the comments below. Until next time.

Featured Image Credit: SEGA/Climax Entertainment

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