“ Manufacturer: Sega / Genre: Arcade „
On the Mega Drive Collection theirs this rather bizarre game that I'd never even heard of until I bought the collection released in the early part of the 1990's. Though a long way from being one of the better games on the collection it was a nice look into one of the early Mega Drive/Genesis games. It started life in the late 1980's on the arcade before it was ported to the Mega Drive and in turn the Master System and now finds it's self on a host of collection disks and the Wii's virtual Console.
The game utilises a top down view (similar to some RTS games) and sees the player controlling a member of a team with special abilities as they try to reach a designated exit point and kill enemies. In the event of the character dying the player then uses a separate character to try and achieve the same goal with the player having a set amount of lives. If the level is completed with out the loss of any lives a player is given another character (theirs about 20 in total) though if the player has lost lives they can collect their fallen foe (up to one in any level) to add them to their usable characters. The level is complete if at least 1 character makes it to the final point.
With 50 levels to play on the Mega Drive (apparently) the game is hugely long though as I've never managed to get past the fourth level it could perhaps tell you that the game is incredibly difficult and rather long winded for a game from a time before saving was possible. The characters each have 2 weapons one is a weak weapon that can be fired in any direction whilst the other is a stronger one, often limited in firing direction. They also differ in walking speeds with some much slower than others, and handedness, which can be used for tactical purposes (apparently).
The gameplay seems simple as a concept but yet seems slow and cumbersome with a rather annoying attribute that I can't put my finger on but yet it is just frustrating. It feels really limited and despite the fact I'm not good at it, I feel impossible to find any enjoyment in it even if I was good I doubt it'd be fun. Sadly for the era of gaming it's from, it seems to have been ahead of it's time in the fact it's overly willing to take it's self seriously is a problem with me. I play games for fun, not to be tearing my hair out with anger and frustration.
Overall a poor effort from Sega that sadly fails to match the quality of many of the games of the era, sadly I would say it's aged terribly but I fail to see how it was even entertaining back in the day. When many would rather remember the Mega Drive for Sonic, Streets of Rage and Golden Axe it's a shame that this is also here, a tedious gaming affair that's genuinely difficult to enjoy. Though some people will no doubt have fond memory's of this from when gaming was in it's relative infancy, when compared to the games of today or even the better games of the early 1990's such as Streets of Rage, Sonic, Streets Fighter and the Mortal Kombat series. This pales in looks, playability, and general idea, as a result it's not worth going back and trying to play as it's genuinely unenjoyable and long winded. Perhaps as an arcade game it was fun, it was short lived, but as a home console game it just wasn't upto much to suggest that it was ever to be worth the release it got.
Gain Ground is a funny old game to say the least. Before playing it, I had never played anything similar and I cannot think of anything I have played like it since. It is based on Sega's original arcade game, but has a couple of interesting tweaks over that version.
In the future, a supercomputer has taken over control of the world. You have to take your elite force of troops through its carefully constructed worlds and destroy it! Or something like that anyways. It doesn't really matter in the scheme of things if I am honest.
The game starts with you looking down on an arena in a birds eye view. These arenas vary in theme, becoming increasingly futuristic as the game progresses. The battlefield may be split over different heights, meaning some enemies can fire down at you, or over gaps in the playing field that you cannot walk over.
You start with a team of three warriors, each with different skills. Your standard attack is a projectile weapon which varies between characters. These can be fired in a 360 degree direction from your warrior. Each character's weapon has a different property. Some may fire rapid arrows, others slow but damaging missiles. Additionally, each character has a unique attack. For example, some can throw spears which will hit enemies on high ground, others may fire out twin sideshots.
You clear an arena by either getting all your soldiers to the exit points in the screen or by killing all the enemies on a level. You have a counter telling you how many enemies remain so you can be prepared for hidden attackers. A time limit is also in effect, and if this runs down all you will lose all of your troops who have not made it to the exit.
As mentioned earlier, you start with three soldiers. On certain levels, you will see a small avatar, which if you collect it and take it to the exit will reward you with a new character for the next level. As a result, you can build up quite a collection.
If however, you are killed on the battlefield, you can collect your dead characters avatar and bring them back to life by taking them to the exit. However, you can only have one avatar at a time in the arena, so if you are killed before collecting a new character, you will not be able to get them!
Putting the game on the hard difficulty setting will ramp up the challenge considerabley. The main difference is that you will start the game with every soldier available, meaning the best way to win is to kill all your enemies which can be extremely troublesome if you do not plan your attack properly.
Each level is a set piece, allowing you to replay until you perfect them. Every so often, you will face a boss. These can be extremely challenging and do not always allow you to collect fallen soldiers, meaning that if you are not careful, they can decimate your ranks.
Gain Ground is extremely addictive and has excellent replay value. You can spend a great deal of time playing through, or just have a quick five minute bash, both are rewarding experiences. The difficulty level is a good challenge. Trying to rush through the first few levels may result in losing a fair few troops due to carelessness!
The graphics are nothing to rave about, but they do the job and are functional. It is clear to see what you have to do on each level and you are rewarded for smart play.
My only complaint is the final boss of the game. To this day I have still not bested it and cannot even figure out how to start damaging it. His missiles seek you out, and it seems impoosible to get anywhere close. Apart from this frustration, this game is a real gem, so try it out!