Friday, 23 May 2014

Genocide 2: Master of the Dark Communion (X68000)

Holy shit I think this must set the record for the longest subtitle in video game history. Or at least the most bullshit written onto a title screen. Bonus points for misspelling 'which', 'aware' and 'crisis'.

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.

I have a feeling I'll be getting a few screenshots out of this one. The city is animated in game, with cars twinkling on the road, billboards showing adverts, and birds flying past as the camera pans down. It's all very nice.

I love animations like this. It helps that the art is fantastic even before it starts twirling and gleaming. A bit of a bastard to capture though I found, I had to fix it a bit, but it's 99% of the way there.

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...
Super Nintendo
This is what the Tracer mech looks like on the intro to the SNES version for instance. You can kind of tell it's meant to be the same thing, but the artist has taken it in a more... dithery direction.

FM Towns
Meanwhile on the FM Towns computer port, they dropped pixel art entirely and went with scanned pencils instead by the look of it. When its drawn like that the Tracer reminds me so much of the mech suit I saw a while back in Uridium 2. They're probably both inspired by some insanely popular anime series I've never heard of.

FM Towns
For the FM Towns the game was packaged together with the first Genocide and released as a compilation called Genocide²: Genocide Square, but this is definitely Genocide 2 specific content we're looking at here. 

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.

FM Towns
It was leading to a grainy black and white pre-rendered cutscene? No wait this isn't CGI, this is stop motion! It's hard to tell with this 1993 vintage video quality, but these are real plastic models we're looking at here, I'm sure of it.

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:

FM Towns
The game's by ZOOM inc you see and the cartoon cat's their mascot, so it all makes sense I assure you.

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).


Oh, well it turns out that the DOS intro is more or less identical to what you get in the original X68000 game, except with a few less colours perhaps. So nothing amazing there.

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.

I guess they figured that the Western world just wasn't ready for giant sword-fighting mechs in their games.

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.

STAGE 1-1.

Alright so here I am standing on the docks where he landed, armed with the tiniest of giant laser-swords.

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.

Okay cool, I've discovered I'm very good at getting helplessly knocked across the screen when I'm hit by things. Those hoverbike riding lunatics are going to be wishing they wore a helmet when I get the use of my arm back though.

Aww, look at those little dudes on the floor, they think that they're helping!

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.

My Tracer mech isn't all that nimble, but he can leap short buildings in a single bound (plus he swaps his sword from hand to hand so fast you can't even see him do it). Holding 'up' at the same time adds this ridiculous flip to my leap, which isn't quite a double-jump, but I'll take what I can get.

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.

STAGE 1-2.

Eight seconds into the second stage and I'm already in real trouble. This ceiling turret is taking me apart whenever I get close to it, so I can't get close enough to smack it with the sword. I can't get past it either though, so I'm not sure what I'm meant to do here.

Unless I can just double tap right and run under the thing. Oh, I guess I can.

I carried on running right into a mech hiding under a sheet. Fortunately he turned out to be total crap in a fight so it's not an issue. I'm more concerned that one of his little buddies up there will jump onto my mech and plant a bomb on it. They're shifty looking lil' bastards.

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.

STAGE 1-3.

Turns out that blowing up the turret wasn't all that difficult after all! I just had to take out the scanner on its left first, which made the thing utterly helpless. Granted I started the game with 96 units of shield energy and fighting the turret has left me with 3, but that's still massively preferably to 0.

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.

Well I managed to get across the platformers to some purple hovering hunter-killer drones, but they cut through my three miserable hitpoints with homing missiles and that was that. It was then that I learned the dark truth of Genocide 2: the game hadn't given me any lives at all.

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.

Look at this bastard mid-boss. He knows my weaknesses, and any moment now he's dart upwards to where I'd struggle to hit him. He wants me to run around this trash pile chasing him, because he's immune to the streams of scrap metal falling from the ceiling and I'm very much not.

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.


Oh c'mon, I finally killed that trash boss, so why isn't this exit lift working? It's not like I left any robots alive, I'm very painfully aware now that I have to kill them all before I'm allowed out.

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.

Man, this is going to take forever. Fucking purple flying robot bastards... stunning me with their homing rockets... knocking me back down the slope over and over... gah.

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.

Jumping off the platformers dropped me down into one of those Star Wars-style trash compactor pits where the walls come together and crush the unfortunate occupant to death. Except I somehow fell into the crack behind the moving wall, so now I have to hope the walls come together soon or else I'll be crushed to death here.

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.

It turns out that killing the barrels actually did get the lift working, and I found a cool looking peppermint-flavoured quadruped boss robot hanging out below.

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.

Oh, he's pulled the old 'three way plasma cannons firing from the shoulders' trick! How did I not see that one coming?

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.


Alright, you remember I mentioned earlier that I felt like I was missing something really obvious? Well meet Betty, my friendly attack sphere. This thing can be activated at any time and I can use it as much as I like, firing it off at enemies by holding the button and pulling in a direction. You can imagine, perhaps, how a weapon like this might be useful against drones that hover around and shoot me from above?

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.

STAGE 2-1.

FM Towns
They just couldn't resist throwing in a sewer level could they? Well I can't resist throwing the Betty into these things to blow them up, so whatever.

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.

STAGE 2-2.

FM Towns
My mech ain't never going smell right again after that little excursion, but I'm finally out of the sewers! It's nice to not have to fight against a current any more as I walk. Doesn't look like I'll be doing much platforming in this place, but maybe I'll at least get to jump on a car or two. I don't even care really, I'm just enjoying the pixel art.

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.

The SNES port is missing the updates from the other two ports, so there's no upwards sword slash, plus the Betty has a timer on it and needs a while to recharge afterwards, but otherwise it plays just the same.

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.

Oh the thrown car even has a little dude still in it! The poor guy, caught in the split second before he hit tarmac. Well at least he didn't hit me.

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           
Personally I prefer the original flatter looking art without the highlights all over it, but that's subjective. The artists also had to do a bit of downsizing to get it all working right, so the SNES version of the Tracer is 15% less gigantic compared to the backgrounds. That means I likely have even less range on this sword!

Whoa, this thing just flew down and now I've got a turret firing at me, not to mention homing missiles; my two favourite things at once! It doesn't want to fly down low enough to be hit though so I can either bounce up and down trying to chip away at it or let the Betty do all the work, hmm...

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.

STAGE 2-3.

FM Towns
Yeah, land on my Betty, see how that works out for you (dumbass).

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.

Here's the SNES version of the same fight just as a comparison. This actually feels a lot like an arcade port to me in the way that they've had to compromise with the visuals. The backgrounds is less impressive, the sprites feel smaller (even when they aren't), and the boss has been redrawn to be more symmetrical, presumably so that they could reuse tiles.

STAGE 3-1.

Now I'm cutting up robots on a flight deck of an aircraft carrier!

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.

Meanwhile on the SNES version I've got to fight these two assholes, though I'm struggling to figure out how. They keep circling around me, avoiding all my shots, and it's getting a little annoying as they need to die before I can move forward. Even the Betty is flying past them uselessly.

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.


And now I'm in the rainforest fighting a fire-breathing cyborg stone statue. I can't say that this is where I imagined my mech adventure would be headed, but as boss fights go this really isn't so bad. I trigger the fire by running out from under the statue, dodge out of the way of the flame jet, then run back and hit the core while its exposed. That's a routine even I can figure out!


Wow, now I've seen how Genocide 2 handles a proper platforming stage I'm glad it doesn't try it often. Jumping between disappearing blocks is a bit Mega Man, but my mech is a trickier to steer around in the air. Then again it's a good excuse to use the ridiculous flip move a lot so I'm not that bothered. It's not like there's spikes underneath me here if I miss the jump, or even much of a fall.

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.

First though, I couldn't resist stitching together a few screenshots of this room under the temple. I mean what's the point of writing about games if you're not going to show off the art?


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.

<insert witty message about how it would be cool if people left me a comment here>


  1. The subtitle loses handily to World of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck. Alas.

  2. This game does look great. Although it's not that similar at all the giant robot protagonist and teeny tiny pixel men enemies make me think of Walker on the Amiga, although this one looks better.

    Both the Genocide 2 and Uridium 2 mechs look a bit like the one from the Appleseed manga and anime although I think it's probably a case of similar visuals rather than direct inspiration.

  3. Then what about The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth II: The Rise of the Witch-king?

    Corvus is coming to punish sins of D'sparil.
    (Nice idea to hint next upcoming game by small pic, Ray.)

    1. Yeah, you got it! The next game is... the one you think it is.

      I figured that a next game box was at least worth a trial run, as it gives people an idea of what to expect while keeping it vague for people who haven't played the game themselves. It's part of my ongoing commitment to keep meddling with the site.

  4. Game looks very interesting.
    But it does seem to waste the potential that comes by playing as a GIANT ANTHROPOMORPHIC MECH. I mean, a robot so huge that a grown human doesn't even reach its shin, and all he does is a single sword attack and a sphere summoning? You don't need giant mechs for that!

    He should have lots of different weapons and perhaps even a temporary flight mode. Perhaps all of them to be gained as upgrades.

  5. Slave Zero is a fun game to play if you want to be a gigantic robot in a city of tiny humans with their tiny cars which you can pick up and throw about.
    It's a sort of run-of-the-mill FPS, in the end, but I remember it quite fondly.


Semi-Random Game Box