Today I'll be playing through an hour or so of Genocide 2: Master of the Dark Communion, released in 1991 for the Sharp X68000 home computer, amongst other things. I've heard that this is one of the games on the system worth having a look at, so I figured I'd have a look at it.
The game was ported to a few other systems as well, but when converting a game between dramatically different machines some compromises will inevitably have to be made...
I can't read kanji though and I have no idea what's actually happening, but it sure looks intense. There's nothing like this in the other versions of the intro, so who even knows what this is leading to.
The two mechs look at each other for a bit, a spaceship flies onto the screen, and TO BE CONTINUED flashes up. I'm always a fan of surprise stop motion, but uh... I have no idea what any of that was about.
Personally I think this could have been really improved if they'd gotten some actors in robot suits to act it out properly. I mean it worked great for the developer logo video at the start:
The poor FM Towns really does seem to struggle with video though. That harsh dithering was there way before I got my hands on it (though I admit I did halve the frame rate).
MEANWHILE, ON THE PC VERSION...
One thing that's worth mentioning though, is that this DOS version was exclusively released in Korea. In fact Genocide 2 never did get a Western release in any of its incarnations, though the SNES version came really close.
Alright so as far as I can gather, bad things are happening somewhere in the world, again, and only Ken Ryugasaki is a bad enough dude to save the human race. Mostly because he drives a 12.87 meter tall ninja robot with a lightsaber.
I guess the 'LEFT' meter on the top left might be my lives, the 'SHIELD' bar across the bottom is pretty self explanatory, and the 'BETTY' meter... well I'm just hoping it's not the life bar for a captured sweetheart.
I'm pretty limited with what I can do with this blade, the developers haven't even let me have an upwards swipe, but as long as the enemies stay on ground level then I've got the the bastards. They can block all they want, it's not going to save them.
Hey, it turns out of I hold the attack button I can block all I want too! Though there's not much point as I still take damage.
And I've just finished the first stage. 1 minute 15 seconds it took, and that includes the minute or so I spent playing around with the controls and trying to get my robot to swing his blade above waist level. I still haven't figured out what 'Betty' means though.
Unless I can just double tap right and run under the thing. Oh, I guess I can.
Hang on, the exit door is just above me, but it won't open. How can I be playing a 13 ton mech and not be able to get through a locked door? Just hit the thing!
Well either I need to find a key or I need to kill more bad folks, but there's no more enemies on this bit of the level! I mean the stage is not exactly a sprawling maze: there's this bit over here, and there's the bit over there with the turret... oh they want me to kill the turret don't they? It's all plainly depressingly obvious now.
The game hasn't been all that interested in platforming so far, which is good because it utterly sucks at it. First rule of platform games: let the player see where they can jump to next! My only option here is a leap of faith. Even trying to go back the way I came would need a blind jump, as that ledge on the left is going to disappear way off the bottom of the screen once I'm airborne.
The brighter truth of Genocide 2 though is that it has at least provided me with infinite continues, so I never have to repeat more than a few minutes of gameplay whenever I screw up. And by 'screw up' I mean 'get harassed by drones that juggle me around helplessly with homing missiles so that I barely have a moment to fight back'. When I get back from saving the world, me and the boffins in R&D are going to have to have a bit of a chat about possibly adding some extra anti-air capabilities into this mech. Such as a gun, or perhaps even an arm upgrade that lets me swing my sword upwards.
I feel like I must be missing something here though, as this fight is taking way longer than it should do. I realise that I'm really bad at the game, but even I've managed to get a few hits in.
Aww crap, it wants me to kill the drones doesn't it? It wants me to climb up that slope across a torrent of homing missiles, and then it wants me to jump around, swiping at the air, hoping that the blade will connect with something.
So I eventually managed to kill all of the drones and then hiked back over the lift. It still didn't move. The lift is displeased with my offerings and demands a greater sacrifice, which is a bit of a problem for me as I really have wiped the stage clean of enemies now.
Actually I can't be 100% sure about that, as there's some platforms I haven't managed to reach yet. So I'll go make a few leaps of faith and see where I end up.
After they'd given me some room to move and swing my sword around I figured out that the walls are actually made out of a stack of barrels, so I can smash them up one at a time to escape.
Wait, don't tell me that this fucking wall crusher trap was the enemy I had to kill? I had to deliberately get myself caught inside a trap to unlock the exit? How does that make any sense? I've got no quarrel with these barrels, they were just minding their own business until I trespassed in their pit, so why do I have to murder them all?
Whatever, I don't even care any more. I'm going off to take a well-earned ride on the exit lift.
The thing seems pretty much invulnerable until he exposes the weak point on the back of his head, but I don't know what makes him do that so I'm just doing flips over him and trying to stay clear of his weapons until he gets bored or overheats or whatever.
I gave the fight four more tries (replaying the whole bloody stage each time), but I just couldn't beat the guy. I'd put the difficulty down a notch, but it had defaulted to the easiest difficulty anyway! So bollocks to it, I'm turning the game off.
LATER, ON THE MS-DOS VERSION.
It may not encourage this asshole to reveal his weak point any more often, but I can just keep firing at him from off screen now, catching him at the moments when he's vulnerable without putting myself in danger.
This is the FM Towns version by the way, which is pretty much indistinguishable from the PC and X68000 versions. Looks the same, plays the same, sounds pretty similar. Though there's one major improvement that these two ports have added over the X68000 original, and that's the ability to slash upwards with the sword!
By the way, that number in the bottom right of the screen is my kill count for the game so far, and it gets reset to zero every time I get blown up and use a continue. That means I've killed 109 enemy robots without dying this time, which shows you how much of a difference the Betty and my new sword move makes.
This is probably the most visually appealing area in the game so far, and apparently the people in charge of the Super Nintendo port thought the same way, as they dropped all that warehouse crap at the start and made this Stage 1-1 instead.
Well okay some graphics have been redrawn, all the Coca Cola signs are absent and I don't remember this bloke throwing cars are me in any of the other versions, but aside from all that (plus the missing levels), the SNES version is really similar.
Honestly I was expecting the console version to be a bit of a mess compared to the computers, but it has stepped up admirably. It actually has more colours for its sprites at times, or at least the appearance of more colours.
|FM Towns | SNES|
I don't really want to wreck it though, the thing's awesome! Where's the button to climb up there and take it as my own? Not enough platformers let you play as a giant screen-filling assault ship.
The SNES version doesn't get this fight by the way. Instead it goes directly to... the sewer level! The developers apparently couldn't bear to let players to miss out on all that wading through shit. At least they had the sense not to start the game with it.
By the way, the Betty is only one of my many possible power ups. I can collect a set of these things if I go looking for their pick ups, things like temporarily higher powered attacks, or a shield. But then again, if I'm using one of those power ups I'm not using the Betty, which would clearly be a mistake.
It was better before the fighter jets started flying into my shins, but this is still pretty cool. Well the concept is cool anyway, though I'm still mostly just walking to the right and hitting the attack button until the bad robots explode.
How come they get to access the third dimension when I'm still stuck here on the 2D plane! It's all very unfair. It's not even helping them all that much as they're not hitting me either and it's not like I have a time limit. I can keep this up all night if I have to... yay.
LATER, ON STAGE... I DON'T EVEN KNOW ANY MORE.
SOON, INSIDE THE RUINS.
The biggest problem with it is that there's nothing to it. There's blocks scattered around a room, I jump on a few of them to get across, how exciting. Actually wait, the biggest problem is that I had to go jumping around an empty room for a few minutes looking for a way out, because the designer thought it'd be hilarious to make that slightly darker patch of brick wall over on my left into the exit.
Well I think I've seen enough of this now to get a good idea of how it's going to play out, so I should turn it off and write up some kind of conclusion shaped thing.
Genocide 2: Master of the Dark Communion has an awesome name, but the gameplay isn't nearly as impressive to me. It's definitely a functioning polished piece of entertainment and it has some great pixel art and music, but for the most part in involves a whole lot of walking right and either hitting things with the sword or hitting things with the Betty, and the sword combat just isn't all that interesting. Slash slash slash slash, boom... move onto the next robot (or go back and search the level for the robot you missed). Maybe I've just been spoiled by the swordplay in games like Dust: An Elysian Tail, I dunno.
The game also includes a bit of platforming, but that isn't all that great either due the fact that most of the time you can't see where you're jumping to! Fortunately the penalty for missing a jump was negligible on the stages I played.
In fact the game has been very fair to me so far, with infinite continues, no timer, a generous health bar, and a reasonable number of shield energy tanks around. The Betty is also very powerful if you get the hang of it, as it's able to cut up enemies and block bullets without even being fired off. Having to replay the entire stage every time you fuck up a boss fight isn't much fun, but they're not all that long. Oh, plus there's plenty of boss fights, so there's another positive if you're into that kind of thing.
I won't be awarding it a star though, simply because I have zero interest in continuing with it. Especially considering that the lack of passwords or a save feature means I'd be back to square one each time I turn it on. But it's worth a look for sure if you're into the giant mech with a sword 2D platformer/beat 'em up genre.