Time Travelling Games for the Master System

Its no secret that I am something of a fan of the Sega Master System. Its the console I have the fondest memories of from growing up and its the console that I like to prioritise when it comes to getting games for my retro gaming collection. However if there is one thing about the Master System I am not overly keen on it was their early case designs. Often they were comical when the game was meant to be serious but above all they were quite bland. Fortunately they only went this route for a short time and to encourage sales they started making their cases far more interesting.

However just for fun I thought I would take three iconic games of the more recent era and make an early style Sega Master System case for them (I had a spare hour). This is what I came up with.

GAME REVIEW: Assault City

sega-master-system-assault-city

Assault City holds a unique place in my gaming history in that it was the first cartridge I ever had for my Master System. Up until getting this for Christmas ’91 I was stuck playing Hang-On and Safari Hunt; the two built in games for the Master System Plus. After having pretty much burned out my console playing those games I was eager to try something new. Putting in that cartridge felt like I was loading a 30-round magazine in to an M-16 assault rifle and I was about to go on the rampage destroying the robot monsters that were poised to wipe out humanity (bare in mind I was 7 at the time). So playing it again over two decades later how does this game hold up?

AC2

First thing you should know is that this game is very story oriented with cut screens between levels full of story. Is that a good thing? If you like reading and you like a recycled Terminator plot then yes. In the latter half of the 21st century, robots have been our servants doing all the tasks we humans don’t like doing and then one day the control system used to function these robots rise up to annihilate their human oppressors. You play as Joe, one of the last of the humans remaining and he is hell-bent on destroying, Skynet…uh…I mean the control system which forces the robots to kill.

AC1

As a game this is a side scrolling shooter. You have no control over the speed at which the screen scrolls and this can be frustrating as it forces you to battle everything that comes at you. There are two versions of this game; the controller version and the Light Phaser version. Now I have never played the Light Phaser version as I am told the game is quite rare here in the UK. What I will say though is that the Light Phaser (if it was feeling accurate) would probably be the better version as I am sure you could shoot the hordes of robots a lot faster. Again though this was depending on whether it had the right conditions since playing Safari Hunt with the gun was often problematic. The controller version has the problem of the targeting reticle feeling slower than a bus at times. It can be an extremely frustrating aspect of playing this game as you seem to spend time sending it across the screen to attack a target that will have already fired at you by the time you get there and then another enemy will appear on the other side of the screen and the same happens again. All is not lost however because once you master how to best use the targeting reticle such as accepting a hit off the one guy on the left in order to destroy the four on the right you have pretty much mastered the game.

AC3

What this game really has going for it however is the look and the sound. Firstly; it has one of the best looking covers of any Master System game in my humble opinion and I remember when I first saw it how excited I was by the picture of those two tripod robots. The look of the game itself for the most part is very good with some interesting robot designs. My only criticism of the robots is that some of the animation of their movements could be a bit smoother as there seems to be little in the way of transitions e.g. one of the bosses is this floating head thing that fires energy bolts from its mouth. The movement of this mouth is open then closed; there’s no opening of the mouth. Also the backdrops rarely change as you progress through the levels making the game feel reptitive at times. Some levels are more interesting to look at than others such as the junkyard but then you have scenes like the one in the picture below where its just blue bricks/lockers/whatever they are supposed to be. The music that accompanies the game is great and really makes you feel like you are in an action movie from the late 1980s.

AC4

I still enjoy this game although I can’t figure out how much of that is nostalgia. I understand when people say that some parts of it is quite repetitive because in places, it is. It’s also a tough game with some segments feeling like the entire robot army is pouring on to the screen then at other times you might just get one little droid to destroy before a few seconds of nothing before the hordes attack again. I do like that they included a hefty amount of story which makes it feel more than mindless shooting. If you are a fan of shooter games I would say this would appeal to you.

Counting Down To Halloween With The Simpsons #4

The Simpsons Halloween Specials have become as much a part of Halloween as trick-or-treating. Ever since that first Treehouse of Horror episode way back in 1990 we have been thrilled by the one episode every season where all the rules are thrown out of the window and anything goes as The Simpsons pay homage to classic horror movies and TV series such as The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits and Alfred Hitchcock Presents…

To celebrate this tradition we are going to be posting quotes, reviews, trivia and pictures as we await the arrival of All Hallow’s Eve. Dust off the fake fangs, unscrew the bottle of fake blood because here at the Order of Trinity we’re counting down to Halloween with The Simpsons.


#4 Scary Cast & Crew Names

Scary Nmaes

One of the ongoing jokes surrounding the Treehouse of Horror episodes is the replacement of cast and crew names with scary or horror themed alternatives. This trend began with Treehouse of Horror II and has been continued ever since. Early themes were simple changes such as “Bat Groening” in place of series creator “Matt Groening’s” name. As time went on new variations became longer and longer to the point where often the screen literally became filled despite the episode starting. Matt Groening did try making a rule for the “scary names” stating that they could not be longer than a person’s real name, but this was rarely followed by anyone else.

One interesting case and a name that has not changed is “Sam Simon’s” who left the show during the fourth season but still received “developed by” and “executive producer” credits as a result of his contract. Since Treehouse of Horror II his name has repeatedly appeared as “Sam ‘Sayonara’ Simon” reflecting the fact he had left.

Just like Marge’s Warnings the “scary names” became so difficult to keep fresh that they were dropped for Treehouse of Horror XII and Treehouse of Horror XIII. The fans however were devastated by this and so from Treehouse of Horror XIV the scary credits returned.

Counting Down To Halloween With The Simpsons #3

The Simpsons Halloween Specials have become as much a part of Halloween as trick-or-treating. Ever since that first Treehouse of Horror episode way back in 1990 we have been thrilled by the one episode every season where all the rules are thrown out of the window and anything goes as The Simpsons pay homage to classic horror movies and TV series such as The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits and Alfred Hitchcock Presents…

To celebrate this tradition we are going to be posting quotes, reviews, trivia and pictures as we await the arrival of All Hallow’s Eve. Dust off the fake fangs, unscrew the bottle of fake blood because here at the Order of Trinity we’re counting down to Halloween with The Simpsons.


#3 The Amusing Tombstones

Tonbstones

In the first five Treehouse of Horrors the episodes began with the camera view passing through a cemetery. In the cemetery there are numerous tombstones with funny epitaphs written on them. The source of these epitaphs varied and included the names of cancelled shows from the previous TV season and deceased celebrities including “Walt Disney” and “Jim Morrison” (complete with hippy sat in front of it mourning his dead icon). One tombstone had an inscription that read “TV violence” that was riddled with bullets as the camera passed by it.

They were last used in Treehouse of Horror V after which they were discontinued. While the writers found them easy to do at first it soon became difficult to keep them fresh and funny. As a final salute to the ongoing gag a solitary tombstone with the words “Amusing Tombstones” was put in the opening of Treehouse of Horror V to signal that now too these gags were dead.

The “Order of Trinity” will soon be no more

Hi friends

Thank you to everyone who has read and followed the site. It began life as a collaborative effort of me and two friends of mine. Unfortunately managing that has proven quite difficult. As I have produced the vast majority of articles it will be that from Friday I shall assume total control of the site and as such the site will be adopting a new name and a new theme. Content will remain the same however.

Thank you again

– Tony Wilkins

Counting Down To Halloween With The Simpsons #2

The Simpsons Halloween Specials have become as much a part of Halloween as trick-or-treating. Ever since that first Treehouse of Horror episode way back in 1990 we have been thrilled by the one episode every season where all the rules are thrown out of the window and anything goes as The Simpsons pay homage to classic horror movies and TV series such as The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits and Alfred Hitchcock Presents…

To celebrate this tradition we are going to be posting quotes, reviews, trivia and pictures as we await the arrival of All Hallow’s Eve. Dust off the fake fangs, unscrew the bottle of fake blood because here at the Order of Trinity we’re counting down to Halloween with The Simpsons.


#2 Marge’s Warning

treehouseofhorrorii6

On October 25th 1990 The Simpsons aired the first Treehouse of Horror. Before the episode even began however Marge appears from behind a red curtain like the ones seen at movie theatres and says;

Hello, everyone. You know, Halloween is a very strange holiday. Personally, I don’t understand it. Kids worshipping ghosts, pretending to be devils. Things on TV that are completely inappropriate for young viewers. Things like the following half-hour! Nothing seems to bother my kids, but tonight’s show—which I totally wash my hands of—is really scary. So if you have sensitive children, maybe you should tuck them in early tonight instead of writing us angry letters tomorrow. Thanks for your attention.

This became one of the trademark moments of the Halloween specials that people remember the most even though it was only done in three of the twenty four Halloween episodes.

What few people realize however is that in the very first Treehouse of Horror this warning was not a gag or gimmick as it became later but was meant to be taken seriously. In 2014 The Simpsons have pretty much become part of the furniture in western society so its easy to forget that when it first aired in 1989 it was a highly controversial show. It was one of the only family shows that actually displayed conflict amongst the family members as opposed to the family facing outside antagonists and many conservative elements felt that this along with the dis-respective nature of Bart to his elders was diluting the view of the traditional nuclear family. The part about “letter writing” in Marge’s warning was a reference to the protests the show received.

With this backdrop its easy to understand why the producers of The Simpsons were nervous about the Halloween episode fearing it could be a step too far and so felt they needed to warn viewers before the episode began. Unfortunately it had the opposite effect and people assumed it was just a gag.