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Old 12-04-2011, 10:00 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Retronauts: Bio-Ship Paladin

As a teenager, I was an ardent supporter of the Sega Genesis. Actually, that's an understatement... it took every ounce of will to keep myself from declaring jihad on neighbors with competing game systems. However, as time went by, my deep-rooted love for the Genesis was uprooted completely, replaced with a fascination for the next generation of game systems and even a grudging admiration for my mortal enemy, the Super NES. I lost sight of why I loved Sega's most popular game system, but twenty years after I first purchased my Genesis, I'm determined to get my fanatical groove back.

That's why every once in a while, when you're least expecting it, I'll dig through the Genesis library in search of the system's defining moments, for good or ill. Not every game on the system was a classic- oh, far from it!- but each title comes together to form a picture of the overall experience. You know, like those cool wall posters made from Star Wars scenes that combine to create a pixelated Luke Skywalker. Yeah, you're getting the idea now!

Speaking of entertainment with a tenuous connection to science-fiction, the Sega Genesis had a reputation as the place to go for side-scrolling space shooters. From the sleek and approachable Aero Blasters to the strategy-rich, murderously hard Gaiares, the Genesis had just about everything a fan of shooters could want... except R-Type and Gradius, the crown jewels of the genre which were the exclusive domain of Nintendo's 16-bit system. (Now you know why I called it my "mortal enemy.")

Unfortunately, Sega's third party licensees leaned on the genre a little too hard in the system's early days. After just a couple of years, the Genesis had more shooters than fans to play them, and developers had to scale back, leaving the more bizarre titles in Japan. It's always a shame when quality software is left stranded in its native country, but when you see games like Heavy Unit and Curse in action, it's not hard to understand the decision to keep them as far from the United States as possible. How well do you think a game like Darwin 4081, starring a phallic spaceship grabbing Ultraman heads in the ugliest reaches of space, would have sold in America? Hint: not well.

This leads us, in a roundabout way, to the subject of this review. Of the many, many shooters released for the Sega Genesis both here and abroad, none are as brutally ugly and aggressively wrongheaded as UPL's Bio-Ship Paladin. When I say ugly, I mean this game looks almost as presentable as a finely aged pile of rhinocerous rumps. You fly an orthopedic shoe through a series of garishly colored backdrops, blasting swarms of the world's least aerodynamic ships. When shot, your foes burst into a blossom of spastic silver sticks, perhaps the worst explosion yet witnessed in a video game. When Bio-Ship Paladin was born, the doctor slapped himself, then burned down the maternity ward. We're talking ugly, people.

UPL games tend to have an art style that makes you want to run out of the room screaming, which is why very little of their output reaches the United States, and very little of that gets noticed by players. However, you can usually find a solid gaming experience in a UPL release if you can look past the heavily armed 1950s kitchen appliances. Usually. Not so much here, though. What separates Bio-Ship Paladin from other shooters is a crosshair which lets you pepper the screen with explosions. The only problem is that you can't control the reticule and your ship-boot at the same time, and there are very rarely occasions when you can put it in park while you rain death on your enemies. This weapon could be less of an invitation to death if you've got a second player along to watch your back, but you'd have a better shot at convincing your friend to take a prostate exam in the Antarctic.

Fortunately, with so many shooters on the Genesis, there's really no reason to slum with this one. Have you tried the similarly named, but much more exciting Bio-Hazard Battle yet? How about Hellfire, or Truxton, or Fire Shark? If you've got the money to spend on an import, why not invest it in Slapfight-MD, the sequel to the unjustly ignored arcade title Alcon? Heck, go ahead and treat yourself to Super Fantasy Zone, arguably the best game in a series many Sega fans didn't realize existed. There you go, you've already spent $200 without ever having to touch Bio-Ship Paladin. Reward yourself with an ice cream cone.



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Old 12-04-2011, 11:10 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Retronauts: Bio-Ship Paladin

Bio-ship Paladin Genesis
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Bio-Hazard Battle Genesis
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Fire Shark Genesis
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Hellfire Genesis
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Truxton / Tatsujin Coin Op
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Slap Fight Genesis

Super Fantasy Zone Genesis
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