"All things considered, the 68000 is a very good CPU allowing room for experimentation while the SNES hardware limits you to their design standards. Scaling & rotation can be implemented in the Sega software, forget it on the SNES."
- Masato Maegawa (President of Treasure), GameFan October 1993

The Shining series takes a surprising new turn...
Shining Force
12 megabits

The second game in what became known as Sega's Shining series, Shining Force takes the world and visual presentation of Shining in the Darkness in an entirely new direction. Instead of trying to replicate the success of SitD's first person dungeon adventure, Shining Force is more of a strategy/RPG hybrid. Rather than controlling a small band of adventurers, players now control an ever-growing army and gather new recruits throughout the game.

In a way, Shining Force ultimately became a distinct franchise of its own, separate from the other Shining games. Indeed, there have been numerous sequels and side-stories released over the years on consoles including the Genesis, Game Gear, Sega CD, Saturn and PlayStation 2.

"Is Shining Force an "historic" hybrid that will eventually inspire a lot of poor editorial? Not quite, but it's still the best nonarcade to come out for the Genesis in a long time. And, after all, aren't legends declared only in hindsight?"
- David S. Moskowitz, VG&CE July 1993

The senators certainly weren't prepared...
Mortal Kombat
16 megabits

The one-on-one fighting game craze of the early nineties, started by Capcom's Street Fighter II, included a huge array of brawlers from companies like SNK and even Sega themselves. None of these titles ever seemed to capture the hearts and minds of gamers like Capcom's magnum opus, but Midway's Mortal Kombat series came a close second.

For better or worse, it is the huge controversy which erupted around Mortal Kombat's explicit content that most gamers remember today. Parents and senators alike were outraged by the level of graphic violence depicted in the arcade version of the game, so for the SNES version Nintendo directed Acclaim to change the blood in the game to "sweat" and to replace the arcade's gruesome "fatalities" with less violent finishing moves.

Sega took a somewhat different approach by allowing all of the arcade game's gore into the Genesis version provided it could only be accessed through a special code. Sega also instituted a new video game ratings system for all Genesis and Sega CD titles, which ranged in severity from the family friendly GA rating to the adults-only rating of MA-17. Despite the ratings system, or perhaps because of it, the Genesis version of Mortal Kombat with all of its gore intact was well received by the gaming press, while Nintendo was criticised for censoring the SNES version of the game. It was a mistake Nintendo would not repeat the following year...

"Yes, the Genesis version of Mortal Kombat does have the blood and full-on death moves (code accessible). With the exception of the lost voice samples, the Genesis version is a better game than SNES MK."
- The Enquirer, GameFan September 1993

"While the graphics and sounds aren't quite up to par with the Super NES version, this cart manages to shine in the game play. This one has a better feel and seems closer to the arcade's timing and style. Also, the blood is back with an option to turn off the gore."
- Sushi-X, EGM September 1993

May the coolest cowdude win.
Dashin' Desperadoes
Data East
8 megabits

Described as a split-screen "speed contest" with an old west theme, Dashin' Desperadoes came to the Genesis system in 1993 and quickly raced into the mists of obscurity. GameFan seemed to like it, though...

"The graphics, music and control are all excellent and the two characters have great personality. I've never played another game like it, it's totally original, and that counts for a lot these days."
- Skid, GameFan October 1993

That's eight gauntlets per game...
Gauntlet IV
8 megabits

The fourth game in Atari's popular Gauntlet series bears the distinction of being one of the few Genesis games to utilise Sega's four-player adaptor. The device in question is of course not to be confused with Electronic Arts' own incompatible Genesis four-player adaptor, used to great effect in games like General Chaos...

"To me, this is about as fun as a bone marrow transplant."
- K. Lee, GameFan September 1993

"Fantabulous! This version of Gauntlet IV is absolutely awesome! Terrific additions have been made like a lengthy Quest Mode and a blood-thirsty Battle Mode for a bunch of your friends. This game may get my vote as having the best music heard on the Genesis! It's orchestrated perfectly."
- Danyon Carpenter, EGM November 1993

This game is just aMazin! (Er, sorry!)
Mazin Saga
Vic Tokai
8 megabits

Vic Tokai's entry into the realm of Genesis scrolling fighters is apparently based on a Japanese anime series called Manzinger Z by Go Nagai. I haven't tried it personally but the game is said to have some spectacular boss battles...

"The Bosses in this game have to be seen to be believed - they are fantastic! As a side-scrolling hack-and-slash, Mazin Saga is a winner with very solid game play and killer music!"
- Mike Weigand, EGM December 1993

Screw "Ultra-Compression"... Now we have "Screaming Megs"!
Jungle Strike
Electronic Arts
16 megabits

The sequel to EA's Desert Strike, Jungle Strike features new missions, new vehicles and improved graphics. Oddly, Jon Madden does not appear to have been involved in the game's development...

"16 megs means great graphics, control, sound FX and one long and gnarly mission. There's even a dorkey Harley and a hover craft. The country is finally safe!"
- Skid, GameFan July 1993

"I really liked Desert Strike, so this game surprised me! Fans of Desert will absolutely love this game! Backed with 16-Megs, Jungle Strike has huge levels, and plenty of missions to keep the gamer entertained for hours!"
- Steve Harris, EGM July 1993

More mechanised balls than you can shake a bat at.
Super Baseball 2020
Electronic Arts
16 megabits

In a somewhat unusual turn of events, Electronic Arts released the Genesis version of SNK's Super Baseball 2020, which started life on the Neo Geo system. Although the game was also released for the SNES, contemporary reviews indicate that the Genesis version was the superior port.

"Graphically, this is the best 16 bit version of 2020. Most of the color, resolution and animation made it through the translation process and the game really gives you the feeling of having that $600 Neo Geo sitting on your living room floor instead of the $89.99 Genesis (available at a retailer near you!)."
- Talko, GameFan September 1993

"Graphically it's excellent with very fluid movements and excellent voice digitization. However, the game is very difficult, and it isn't very easy to execute the plays!"
- Steve Harris, EGM September 1993

EA's "cool ghoul": Polterguy.
Haunting Starring Polterguy
Electronic Arts
16 megabits

In a move that would no doubt turn Pac Man green with envy, Haunting Starring Polterguy allows the player to actually take control of a scary ghost for a change.

Could Polterguy's role-reversing play have influenced the developers of future games like Stubbs the Zombie? Probably not, but stranger things have been known to happen...

"Polterguy successfully delivers on graphics but lacks the diversity and play mechanics that make a great action game."
- K. Lee, GameFan October 1993

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