Tag Archives: Sega Genesis

Big’s Big Fishing Adventure 3 is more dialogue than fishing

gd final thoughts sega april fools big the cat fishing

I’ve never been a mega Sonic the Hedgehog fan, and that may be because I just didn’t interact with a Sega Genesis much when growing up. I was an SNES kid and still am, if you consider the fact that I have my original console safely in a box somewhere in the apartment. Last time I checked, which was maybe three to four years ago, the thing still worked, even if you have to press pretty hard on one of the controller’s start buttons to get it going. My childhood best friend had a Genesis, and so a lot of ToeJam & Earl, Streets of Rage, and Jurassic Park was played, but infrequently. I’ve dabbled in a few of the earlier Sonic the Hedgehog games, mostly just those opening stages, but nothing past the Genesis era, which is why I had no idea who Big the Cat was and had to look him up. Evidently, he’s a big, bluish-purple cat.

Yesterday, at the very least, Big the Cat was also the star of a “new” game from Sega called Big’s Big Fishing Adventure 3: The Trial. It’s a silly thing. Probably all the sillier too for those that are more into Sonic the Hedgehog than I am, but enjoyable regardless. I’m a big fan of tiny, goofy playable games on April Fools Day. Last year, you could play Pac-Man in Google Maps. They help sell the jokes even more, because you realize as you’re interacting that someone took time to create art assets, program code, and so on for this throwaway idea that, at its greatest moment, probably elicits a chuckle from its consumer.

In Big’s Big Fishing Adventure 3: The Trial, Big the Cat is, once again, trying to find his friend Froggy. For reasons I no longer remember despite playing it only a day ago. I think it has something to do with the idea that Big believes a game about himself is coming out soon. Like imminently soon. This idea is countered when Dr. Eggman shows up to claim that the game is naturally starring himself and not some anthropomorphic cat that nobody seems to like. Sonic also shows up too to toss barbed words at his nemesis and do all the battling.

Other than story dialogue to click through and a few moments of making a choice, which I have to imagine has no impact on the story, there are two minigames to play. The first is a time-based maze to maneuver through; it’s easy enough to solve so long as you trace your paths early to not head too far down ones that are dead ends. It then all culminates with Big the Cat fishing for his friend Froggy. Surprisingly, it’s not the worst fishing minigame I’ve encountered. Don’t take that for me saying it is the best though. You simply toss out your line and reel in a fish that bites without breaking your pole. You have to clear out a bunch of fish at the top of the pond to both strengthen your rod and clear the way for the hook to drop lower into the water where Froggy is hiding. Once you get him, it’s end music song with lyrics and the hint that it was all a dream.

Anyways, it’s a goofy parody thing, and one worth checking out if you’ve lamented the last few mainline Sonic the Hedgehog releases in terms of quality and creativity. You can play it right inside your browser, and though Sega recommends you plug in a retro controller, your keyboard will do just fine. Besides, we all know you’ll get better fish headshots when using mouse and keyboard. Duh.

Fatal Labyrinth is still difficult, but finally makes sense

fatal labyrinth gd medium

When I first played Fatal Labyrinth, back in early 2011 as part of Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection on the Xbox 360, I didn’t understand it. I only continued poking at it to get a single Achievement, which tasked the player with making it to the fifth floor of the randomly generated labyrinth. In fact, this was the last Achievement I popped, after getting that super tricky for Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine. I remember having great difficulty with this, eventually just avoiding all monsters and searching desperately every nook and cranny for the next set of stairs to take me upwards and away. You’ll have to forgive me, but I wasn’t familiar with roguelikes back then, confused by things like question marks on items and dark rooms full of uncertainty.

Since then, I’ve played a lot more roguelikes, some of which are very close in style and mechanics as Fatal Labyrinth. Here, let me name a few that come to mind: The Binding of Isaac, Coin Crypt, Dragon Crystal, and Hack, Slash, Loot. The games have taught me much over the past few years, like not to be scared of potions that don’t immediately reveal what they do. Yep. If you want to know what the brown potion does in Fatal Labyrinth, you have to drink it blindly; once you know its power, there’ll be no further confusion about it during your run. That said, last time I drank the brown potion, it simply said “you’re feeling much better”…so I have no clue what that actually means.

According to a gaming wiki I frequently hang out around, Fatal Labyrinth is about leading Trykaar into the castle of Dragonia in order to retrieve the Holy Goblet, which was stolen from the village. I’ll take that plot at face value because I didn’t read anything about that when I started out, but maybe if you linger long enough on the title screen you get some exposition. The castle consists of thirty levels, most of which are procedurally generated. Seeing as I’ve only ever gotten to the fifth level, I have no idea what that means. Perhaps there are boss battles that are the same each time you hit them. I don’t know.

Upon returning to Fatal Labyrinth, which, by all means was not something I planned, but rather something that simply unfolded before me when I popped in Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection to see if my save progress from Phantasy Star II was still there, I found myself surviving. Slicing up enemies and throwing duplicate weapons away like a skilled ninja. Killing monsters and leveling up, as well as grabbing food and navigating menus. All of that is in stark contrast from my first go with it, and again, I have the years of noodling around with other roguelikes to thank. Except for Dungeons of Dredmor, which I’ll never be good at.

As with just about every other RPG out there, the main concern in Fatal Labyrinth is crafting your initially weak and worried hero into a walking tank, brimming with weapons, spells, potions, and other powerful trinkets. You start with just a small knife and plenty of pocket space; I found the hand axe to be killer against most foes save for those ice crystal things and got a few pieces of armor on my way to the fifth level before losing too much HP after getting surrounded. Dealing with groups of enemies one on one is also important, much like dealing with zombies in Dead Island–focus on a single threat, eliminate it, then move on to the next one.

Here’s something that is not weird, but then weird. In order to continue exploring the titular labyrinth, you need to be well-nourished. However, you only have enough food at the start of your journey for around ten minutes of exploration. You can see your food depleting in the UI, marked as a F. Thankfully, like chickens in the walls of Castlevania, there’s spare meat lying around on different dungeon floors. Here’s where things take a turn–if you eat too much, you die. So it’s a constant balance of having enough, but not too much, not too little. Toss in enemies and new gear and mysterious potions, and there’s a lot to juggle all at once, which is where most of the difficulty comes from.

Lastly, I found myself stuck in a seemingly empty room after I cleared it out of enemies and items. There were no doors or staircases, not even one to go back down a level. I thought that maybe I had glitched in Fatal Labyrinth, but after a little Googling, discovered that I was supposed to read the manual, which told me that sometimes there are hidden passageways in walls, and the only way to find them is spam the button while facing every wall unit. See how pivotal manuals are, though I guess one could argue that, at this point, the Internet is basically one big manual.

I do believe that I can conquer all thirty levels of Fatal Labyrinth, and I mean to keep trying until that belief changes stance. Here’s hoping you see a haiku for this game sooner than later.

Castle of Illusion starring the semblance of magical platforming

castle of illusion screenshots_launch_01

A couple weeks back, I had a serious hankering for some Trophy poppin’, and so I scanned my list of already played games to see if any looked easy enough–note that I didn’t say fun enough–to unlock still. My scroll came to a stop on Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse, which I beat some time over the summer and then never really said a word about, save for a mention in the April 2014 edition of the Half-hour Hitbox. Truthfully, there’s not a terrible amount to say about this remake, but I’ll find some words nonetheless.

First, do you know what this game was originally called in Japan? I Love Mickey Mouse: Great Mysterious Castle Adventure. That makes me smile. Second, this was a freebie for PlayStation Plus subscribers back in April, and you also got a digital copy of the original Genesis version to boot, though I’ve only gone through the remake so far. If the remake is any indication of the challenge level for the original, I’ll pass on a second romp through Mickey Mouse’s magical castle.

Let me break down what we’re doing here. Castle of Illusion is a side-scrolling platformer, with Mickey Mouse on the hunt for an evil witch called Mizrabel, who has kidnapped Minnie Mouse in an attempt to steal her youth. Um, I guess she doesn’t realize that Minnie first appeared in 1928’s “Steamboat Willie” short, making her somewhere around 86 years old. Regardless of that hard fact, to stop Mizrabel, Mickey needs to collect seven rainbow gems to build a bridge to the castle tower where Minnie is being held.

So, the platforming is pretty basic, which is understandable when you remember this was all born in a 1990 Sega Genesis cartridge. You move left, you move right, you jump up to platforms, and, from them, to others spaced apart. Mickey’s main attack for dealing with enemies is bouncing on them, but he can also collect projectiles, such as apples and marbles, to throw. You can collect items to restore Mickey’s health or grant him an extra life–much like with recent Mario titles, extra lives are pointless–and then there’s a handful of collectibles in each world, such as diamonds and chili peppers for Donald Duck. No, I don’t understand it either. Every third level in a themed world ends in a boss battle against one of Mizrabel’s henchmen, and only the final spout against Mizrabel herself proved challenging, though maybe frustrating is the better descriptor.

For Trophies, I still needed to do a few things, but figured since the platforming was so simple and the levels were extremely short, it wouldn’t be a big hassle. Turns out, it wasn’t a big hassle. I used a spoiler-free guide to point me in the right direction for getting all the magic playing cards, chili peppers, and castle statue pieces. I even managed to jump on seven enemies in a row without hitting the ground, though it took a few attempts. By the end, I got all the Trophies save for one, which asks you to collect all 800 diamonds. I stopped at, ironically, though not to you, 713 of them and don’t have the energy left to find the remainder, which are now scattered across multiple levels. For instance, one early level has only three left to find, but I’ve gone through it multiple times now to no avail. There are better things to collect in other games, like feathers in Assassin’s Creed II or exotic foods in Tomodachi Life.

If you’re a Disney fan and are looking for a light, breezy platformer, by all means, play Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse. Certainly play it ten times before ever even thinking of touching Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion. But I wanted more, especially in a remake. More challenge, more variety to the given variety. I know there might not have been much to work with from the original title, but remakes have wiggle room. There’s an illusion here, for sure, but it’s only that you’re actually playing the same game from 1990, now with Trophies tied to tasks.

All Achievements Achieved – Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection

This game was a weird mix of Achievements. Some were blatant freebies, and others were so frustrating that I had to constantly take breathing breaks and power down the Xbox 360 for extended periods of time. The hardest and most excruciating had to be this doozy from Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine:

Yatta! (50G): Dr. Robotnik’s M.B.M.: Complete the game

If I ever meet anyone else in person that has this Achievement unlocked, I will shake their hand, pamper their feet, and maybe then feed them some grapes directly from Tuscany. Because my respect, they will have truly earned.

First of all, before Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection came along, I had no idea this game even existed. Loading it up, I expected it to be a traditional Sonic the Hedgehog game; you know, taking the Blue Wonder and having him run around, collect rings, and possibly, at the end, destroy some mean machine built by the nefarious Dr. Robotnik. I was surprised to find that it was…a puzzle game. Like an odd blend of Tetris, Dr. Mario, and sadomasochism. Eep. It’s not an easy puzzle game, and one can really screw themselves over quickly if they aren’t paying attention. Basically, you want to match four color blobs together, and if you match several in a row, you’ll create a cascading effect that will send blocking boulders onto your opponent’s side. Keep it up, and they’ll run out of space to place blobs, giving you one mean victory. 

That’s the gameplay, and it is simple at first, but with each consequent level, the blobs fall faster and your opponents get tougher. Or cheaper. Magically amazing at placing blobs and cascading your side to be more specific. Thankfully, there’s a password system available, and if you enter Yellow, Has Bean (that’s the one in the Achievement’s picture), Blue, Blue you’ll advance to the last level. All you have to do then is defeat Dr. Robotnik to complete the game. However, it’s virtually impossible, and you’ll be banking on luck and reloading saves more than skill or intellect.

Took me about thirty minutes or so of trying, dying, and trying again. I came close a few times only to have myself cascaded on, never to recover. Eventually, Dr. Robotnik’s AI screwed himself, and before long I heard that familiar Achievement ping! Wow. Did I really just beat him? Even double-checking didn’t help solidify that, yes, I unlocked Yatta! Sure, I used a cheat. Sure, I beat him unknowingly. Sure, I wish I could take more credit on earning this skillfully.

But yeah. That’s Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection, said and done. I was going to talk about some of its other Achievements, but Yatta! has, once again, stolen all my energy.

Games Completed in 2011, #3 – Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection

This collection of just under 50 Sega Genesis games could’ve used a better title. As is, Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection is misleading. I mean…is this a gathering of only Sonic games? Or are these games handpicked by the speedy, blue hedgehog himself? And if that, where is Toe Jam and Earl or Mortal Kombat or Boogerman: A Pick and Flick Adventure? Okay, maybe I don’t really give two cares about that last one…

Regardless, this is a good deal. You get a lot of games for an excellent price ($18 used, I think?) rather than buying a lot of them individually on XBLA for 400 MP a pop. Eek. However, for a lot of these games, no one should waste their money. Going in, I’d heard of a good number, played a few in my childhood over at friends’ houses, and experienced the rest as brand new things in 2010/2011. A lot are just meh. Can’t say it any straighter. Bonanza Bros. is ridiculous and a mess strategically. Sonic 3D Blast should come packaged with Advil. Controlling the helicopter in Super Thunder Blade is broken. I jumped to my death quickly in Space Harrier and never went back to it.

I only had a good time revisiting more familiar titles, such as Streets of Rage, Golden Axe, Sonic II, Beyond Oasis, and Ecco the Dolphin. Tara and I played some of these together, but as is usual with older games, frustration reigns supreme. We’d get more mad than glad during split-screen Sonic the Hedgehog 2 versus adventures. I was most surprised to find myself really enjoying generic platformers like Dynamite Headdy and Kid Chameleon.

Honest disclaimer: I have not beaten every single game in this collection. Not even close on most of them, nor do I really want to. So, the reason I’m considering this one completed for 2011 is based off its Achievements. I’ve unlocked them all. Woo-hoo? Woo. They’re split down the middle between super easy and soul-crushingly difficult. I’ll discuss them greater in another post, devoting way too many words to the Achievement for Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine. How I will forever hate that one.

If you’re looking to do some retro gaming and have everything you wanted from the SNES generation on your Wii or Nintendo DS, then this one’s worth a spin.