Monday, August 8, 2011

Retro Review: Granada (Sega Genesis)

After writing an indie game review, I thought it would also be a nice idea to start reviewing older titles from older systems. I love trying games that are new or classic to me, regardless of what platform. I think the best way to go about these is to pick titles many may have either missed out on or simply never heard of. If anyone reading has any suggestions of overlooked games they'd like me to review (whether old or new), feel free to let me know, and I'll see what I can do.

In the meantime, I'd like to talk about a title that I feel many have likely missed out on. Granada for the Sega Genesis (or the Sharp X68000 in the form of 3 floppy disks... I have no life...) is a shoot em' up title, made in 1990. You control a small tank in a bird's eye view, as you make your way through different maps in each level, to seek and destroy enemy tanks and weapon stations before fighting a giant robot boss battle at the end of each. Is this a tired formula? Perhaps, but that's not what makes this game so interesting and innovative to me (at least, for the time it was created).

We'll start with the controls, as this is one of the most unique things about this game right off the bat. You use the D-Pad to move your tank around and it fires shots in the direction that you move with a rapid-fire cannon, using the A button. The B button actually holds your tank in the direction you are facing, while still allowing you to move wherever you want. This button single-handedly adds a huge deal of depth to the game, as it allows you to continue to dodge enemy fire, while firing in whatever direction you have the tank pointing in. It will feel a little off-putting at first, especially since you'll be holding down the A button at the same time more often than not, but just like say, the original Doom, you'll learn the ropes quite quickly. The C button is used for your power shot. Admittedly, it looks kind of dinky for a "power shot," but I found it very effective, especially against the boss robots. Learning to master these controls actually allow for quite a bit of mobility once you get the hang of things. It's no Geometry Wars, but it's hard to fault a game from 1990 for having a system that works almost as well.

Two more gameplay mechanics really helped caught my eye. The first is the fact that unlike most shooters where you simply ride along from point A to point B, you have complete control over the direction you will take. Each stage requires you to move along a decently-sized map of the area, find all the enemy tanks and turrets, and destroy them all, causing the boss robot to come out. Free-reign in a game such as this is truly something memorable, as this was not exactly a popular concept at the time. The second mechanic that got my attention was the radar screen, displayed almost like a mini-map on the bottom right corner of your screen. While it won't tell you exactly where you need to go, it will tell you where the remaining enemy tanks and guns are that you need to destroy, in order to bring out the boss robot.

I'm also happy to say that this game produced quite an epic scale for its boss encounters. The first boss robot you encounter begins jumping all around the stage in its attempt to crush you. The second involves a floating robot that won't reveal its weak spot until the moment you stop shooting at it, something that took me quite a while to figure out. The fights that follow are just as, if not more creative.

While the graphical and sound departments weren't quite as memorable (very average really; nothing you haven't seen or heard once before), it was made up for by just the sheer range of stages you play in. One stage includes a gigantic flying airplane, and another, an elevated city. Just like the boss robots, one can easily see just how much work was really put into the overall experience.

Being impressed by an older Sega Genesis title (especially a shooter) is simply not something that happens to me, and yet I can't help but be drawn by all the unique features and enemies you face as you progress from stage to state. Truly a hidden gem in the desert.

9 pulverizing tanks out of 10

As always thank you for reading this review, and once again, if you have any "hidden gems" of your own you'd like me to review, please send the details out to me and I'll take all suggestions seriously. Goodnight everybody!

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