I’ve surprised myself at how pleased I am with these three new additions. Because of the language barrier I wouldn’t be able to play two of them and the third is unofficially ranked as the worst Sega Mega Drive/Genesis game ever… So why am I excited about these additions?
First, they’re were cheap and they are all in Excellent condition. Yay! Second, they all have pretty good artwork. And finally (and oddly) I found a positive review about Sword of Sodan on Sega-16.com that does a great job painting an entirely different impression of what is commonly thought of as a horrible game (more on that below the screen shots).
Rent a Hero looks like it could be a very cool game. I’ve read that it is a RPG that uses the Phantasy Star 2 engine but the combat is real time and similar to 2D fighting games. Sounds very interesting! I believe there is translated ROM lurking around the Internet. I might have to check it out.
Super Hydlide is a RPG that I almost bought back in the day. I loved the cover art so much I found it very hard to resist. A good friend was able to talk me down and save me from some disappointment. To this day I don’t know if Super Hydlide is bad or if it would have just been too complex for me as a kid… But now when cover art is enough I finally have this one for the Mega Drive side of my collection.
Rent a Hero – $8.00
Super Hydelide – $5.00
Sword of Sodan – $10.00
Plus $14.00 for shipping (approx $12 per game)
Now, back to Sword of Sodan. I had never played this game and from all I read and what I saw of it on youtube I was ready to agree with the common consensus that it sucked really very hard. Then when browsing Sega-16.com I found a fans lengthy comments about his experience with Sword of Sodan and I was impressed. Not with the game but this gamers point of view and ability to explain the mechanics of the game and all the details that everyone else seemed to have missed.
If you’ve got some time check out the scathing review (3/10) posted as the official Sword of Sodan review by Sega-16.com.
Brothers and sisters, I am now among the few, the proud, the “WTF-is-wrong-with-you?”: for scarcely an hour ago, I beat Sword of Sodan on its highest difficulty setting. That is, Normal difficulty, three starting lives, and using the guy character — whose name is, I kid you not, “Brodan”.
Jokes aside, I think the game is far better than its reputation. Don’t get me wrong, it’s got loads of problems, and I totally understand why people are frustrated and annoyed by it. It also didn’t help that the game defaults to the hardest difficulty setting — it makes the first level almost unplayable, at least without a lot of experience and patience.
But it seems like Sword of Sodan is yet another entry in the long line of offbeat games with strange controls, and apparently high difficulty, that get trashed relentlessly as “worst game ever” (paging Bokosuka Wars)…but which, if you actually take the time to learn their idiosyncracies, are totally playable and even fun. I’ve gotten to the point where, on any setting except Normal/Brodan, I can beat the game at least 50% of the time.
I think I even…am I allowed to say this here?…like Sword of Sodan. A lot of people complain about the stiff animation, but it doesn’t bother me at all — it’s as if I’m playing a medieval painting come to life. And I like the fact that there’s no music during the levels, it’s a welcome change from all the in-your-face Poochie power-chord bullshit that plagues so many games from the early 1990s.
For the record, I want to dispel a few myths and misunderstandings about Sword of Sodan:
- “You have to crotch-stab everyone” – Totally not true, and a really bad strategy to boot. The overhead (Up+C) and thrust (Forward+C) attacks are the key to this game, and 99% of the time, they’re the only attacks you’ll use.
- “The pits in Level 5 are invisible” – Again, not true, they’re just concealed. If you look at the backgrounds closely, there’s a little divot in the stone floor that shows you exactly where they are. Almost everyone gets this wrong, including the guy who wrote the GameFAQs walkthrough, but kudos to the Sega-16 reviewer who gets it right.
- “The hit detection sucks” – OK, it kinda does, but at least it’s consistent. Once you learn where the hit boxes are on your enemies, they’re pretty reliable.
- “It’s unbelievably gay” – I can’t really argue with that, because it’s easily one of the most homoerotic games I’ve ever played, on a par with NES Ring King even. (Cue Jerry Seinfeld saying “Not that there’s anything wrong with that!”) I’d normally assume it was all unintentional, but when even the programmer bio in the manual says that “he may be on Uranus”, you really start to wonder. Actually, I think it’d be totally awesome if the whole game was deliberate camp; maybe John Waters could direct a sequel? “Sword of Sodan 2: The Battle of Baltimore!”
Having said that, there are two things that 100% suck in this game, at least if you’re playing on Normal difficulty. One is the first level, which is relatively easy with Shardan (the girl), but a nightmare with the guy, who doesn’t have enough reach to match the pikemen; a flaming sword (ahem) is the only answer here. The other one is the giant soldiers at the start of Level 5 where, unless you have an orange potion or a shield, it’s basically impossible to kill them if they double up on you.
There are some other things missing from the GameFAQs walkthrough, and I’ve thought about either emailing the author, or writing a second walkthrough of my own. For example, you can get through Level 4 (the zombie level) without taking a hit, simply by immediately jumping to the far right side of the screen and attacking repeatedly. Done correctly, it works every time: the zombies never have a chance, because you push them offscreen faster than the scrolling can catch up.
There’s a warp in Level 5, triggered by falling into the third pit (IIRC), that sends you straight to Level 6 and bypasses the rest of the giant soldiers. And in the final boss battle, you can actually drive him backwards just by kneeling right next to him! I also think he has some sort of regeneration timer — sometimes I’ve had to kill him three or four times before he changes into the wizard form, but if I do a lot of damage quickly, it only takes one cycle. (The occasional audio chime might have something to do with this? Not sure.)
So…anyone else out there who’ll stand up for this much-maligned but lovable freak of a game?
If you grew up in the ’90s in North America, you most likely have memories of the FBI logo screen and slogan “Winners Don’t Use Drugs” in most arcade games. Indeed, it has become a cultural icon of the time, although now merely relegated to a retro and sarcastic saying (Major League Baseball proved this false). At the time, it was on the forefront of the very serious War on Drugs… which in retrospect is sort of ridiculous.
However, to really get that arcade feeling, the kind people at Electronics Arts added a unique Easter egg for players looking for a quick fix. During the game, if you drink one of each kind of potion at the same time, your character’s chest bursts open and you fall to the ground, dying. Text appears that reads “Winners don’t do drugs.”