Mega-Super-Awesome Drive Classics

Before the dawn of time, over a decade ago, there were but two companies. Two bitter rivals clashing over what was to become the biggest entertainment industry in the world – video games. Those companies were of course Nintendo and Sega.

These days I’m a pretty huge fan of the big N but back then it was Sega all the way. The first console Dim and I ever owned was a Sega Mega Drive 2 (known as the Genesis to those of you States-side) and so it was this console that first shaped our young minds into the gamers you see today. I’m certain that the games we played back then have made a big impact on the kind of games we make now, so I’ve decided to share some of my favourite and most influential games with you.

Dynamite Headdy Dynamite Headdy

You might have actually heard of this one, since its available on the Wii’s Virtual Console. I strongly recommend you go get it if you can. This game just drips with creativity, charm and superb gameplay.

What starts out promising to be a standard platforming affair soon reveals itself to be a work of genius, through it’s simple gameplay mechanic – the ability to throw your head in any of the eight directions a D-pad affords you, it’s huge variety of unique and clever power-ups (manifested as different heads with different abilities) and its constant visual assualt of beautifully crafted levels full of detail and colour.

This game was the first to show me just how creative games can get and how much human touch can be poured into what for most games of the time was just a group of pixels shifting about.

James Pond 3: Operation StarfishJames Pond 3: Operation Starfish

This. Game. Is. Huge.

No, really, it is. So big, they had to put it on an extra-large cartridge, double the memory of other games – you can see it says 16 Meg right on the box. This game was so epic in fact, that we never did get all the way to the end without cheating.

Those familiar with other James Pond titles (most probably JP2: Robocod, which I swear is the most ported game of all time) will know all about the kind of platforming adventure to expect. What this game adds is a whole cast of playable characters, a ton of weapon, huge levels and a world map so big it’ll make you cry. Include on top of that a bunch of different side quests and some of my favourite 2D bosses in all time and its easy to see why this game made its mark.

This game showed me that people out there were trying to push the limits of gameplay and size. Incedentally, this was the first time I’d really heard of EA (don’t you love their old logo?)

The Ooze The Ooze

I played this game recently, it can be found in some of the recent Sega/Sonic compilations available on various systems. I’m sad to say, it doesn’t hold up as a great game.

It does however still make my list, just for the unique gameplay. If you don’t know of it, the game sees you playing as an amorphous blob of the eponymous ooze. What with games like Gish around these days, you’d be forgiven for thinking that this might not be such a big deal, but this was back before vector graphics. I know know that the ooze was most likely constructed from a series of tiles that shift and change as you move around. When I first played it, I couldn’t begin to imagine how they’d done it and I was captivated.

This game was the first to really impress upon me the idea of making games that don’t yet have a genre, games that stand on their own laughing at the flood of generic platformers and shoot-em-ups on the market.