It's been a while since my previous Sega Ages round-up so here are 4 new titles. This time, each game offers top-notch retro fun!
Columns II Review Switch ★★★★☆
Everyone and their grandmother has played Columns at some point but the little-known arcade sequel Columns II is finally here.
Western gamers may have played Columns and Columns III: Revenge of Columns on Sega Genesis but the ever-elusive Japanese arcade game Columns II: The Voyage Through Time has remained in obscurity since its 1990 debut. On one hand, it plays almost identically to its predecessor but on the other, you travel through time which makes the jewels change to various sets of themed tiles which is cool. The 2 modes consist of Flash Columns which tasks you with ridding the playfield of shining tiles and Vs. Columns where you can raise your opponent's playfield after getting a high combo. This Sega Ages version includes awesome extras like Stage Select, a new Infinite Jewels variation of Flash Columns, an endless mode from Columns I, online multiplayer, and the ability to toggle skull tiles. Overall, this is a must-have comprehensive classic Columns package that's sure to delight any old-school puzzle game fan.
Sega Ages: Columns II contains much more than its title would suggest. If you enjoy retro puzzlers, you'll sink hours into this release as it contains plenty of fantastic content that showcases the addictive core gameplay beautifully.Sega Ages: Columns II gameplay video → Sega Ages: Columns II manual →
Ichidant-R Review Switch ★★★★☆
For those with thin attention spans, the mini-game fueled Ichidant-R is here to provide some enjoyable chaotic gameplay.
Ichidant-R is a sequel to the arcade game Tant-R which I was introduced to via the highly underrated Sega Classics Collection compilation for PlayStation 2. Tant-R was also a spin-off of the wonderfully quirky bank robbing game Bonanza Bros. Before I go off more on a tangent, Ichidant-R sits in the middle of a trilogy of arcade games collectively known as Puzzle & Action and they all play like the popular WarioWare series although this came first. This Sega Ages release contains both the arcade and Genesis versions which is cool and no matter which version you play, you're in for one crazy and enjoyable game. However, the RPG mode in the Genesis version is in Japanese so it's pretty tricky to play. Anyway, the mini-games generally have you play increasingly challenging iterations of the same game and with 20 unique games to master, there's a great deal of variety and fun to be had, especially while playing with a friend.
When it comes to chaotic mini-game fun, Ichidant-R provides such great times that I hope to see the other Puzzle & Action arcade games (Tant-R and Sand-R) get Sega Ages releases sometime soon.Sega Ages: Ichidant-R gameplay video → Sega Ages: Ichidant-R manual →
Fantasy Zone Review Switch ★★★★☆
Sega's delightful Fantasy Zone has seen many iterations but there's nothing quite like the original so let's get ready to cute 'em up!
Fantasy Zone may have made its arcade debut way back in 1986 but it holds up so well that it still feels like a modern interpretation of classic shooters; if that makes any sense. For the unfamiliar, you control a ship known as Opa-Opa within stages that scroll left and right while avoiding enemies and shooting streams of projectiles as well as deploying bombs. The goal of each stage is to destroy all of the bases and once they're gone, you fight a boss and move on to the next stage. You also earn money that you can redeem at a shop for temporary upgrades and such which adds a layer of satisfaction to the gameplay. This Sega Ages release includes a level select, Upa-Upa Mode where weapons are powered by money, and Time Attack Mode which features a speedrunning timer as you play. There are also a few additional options that unlock after gathering certain thresholds of total coins which offer additional boosts and content.
It may be cute and simple but Fantasy Zone remains one of the most enjoyable shoot 'em ups with its distinctly rewarding gameplay.Sega Ages: Fantasy Zone gameplay video → Sega Ages: Fantasy Zone manual →
Shinobi Review Switch ★★★★☆
Sega's iconic ninja is best known for his 16-bit console adventures but does his arcade debut hold up? Sharpen your katana and let's see.
This original arcade version of Shinobi may be a blatant rip-off of Namco's classic Rolling Thunder but it's a heck of a lot of fun. You play as Joe Musashi who's on a mission to rescue his clan's students as well as confront a terrorist group. The gameplay primarily involves throwing projectiles, slashing nearby foes, and jumping to and from higher planes. You can also deploy ninjutsu moves which act as bombs. Navigating through the stages requires both careful planning and quick reactions which makes for a constantly engaging formula and the boss fights can be impressively challenging. That being said, this Sega Ages version allows you to rewind time so whenever you mess up, you can give it another go. Being able to toggle this allows both casual and hardcore gamers to enjoy the challenge that Shinobi offers, especially with the easier Sega Ages difficulty option. By the way, rewinding during the bonus stages makes them super-easy.
The arcade version of Shinobi is very impressive considering it debuted in 1987 and this release is the ultimate way to enjoy it.Sega Ages: Shinobi gameplay video → Sega Ages: Shinobi manual →