Retrogaming has picked up a great degree of interest over the years, as with each passing year -- the older consoles are unceremoniously abandoned and fall under the wide, encompassing label of classic systems. Retrogaming undboutedly offers a plethora of mysteries and intriuging oddities that so many gamers find intriguing. Here at GotNext, we too, are fascinated by the wonderful and wacky gaming artifacts to be discovered. Which brings us to our retro-dig feature, which hopefully will end up getting a semi-regular presence. So please feel free to offer your impressions and suggestions of what you'd like to see covered in the future.
Genesis collecting has yet to really take off. While many of the rarer NES carts can fetch hundreds (and Atari in the near-thousands), Genesis stuff rarely scores above the $50 range, even complete. It's not that there aren't rare Genesis games - in fact, there are a whole bunch. It's more likely that the gears of the great Sega nostalgia engine haven't been fully oiled just yet.
So what are the rarest Genesis games, you ask? Late RPGs like Shining Force 2 and Phantasy Star IV? The first-gen Langrisser localization, Warsong? Aero 2 and Zero the Kamikaze Squirrel? Maybe some Japanese games...Panorama Cotton, whose copies are numbered in the thousands? The Phantasy Star re-release? Maybe even the low-numbered Japanese runs of US games, like The Ooze, I, and (the holy grail of Japanese MD collectors - totally not kidding) Maximum Carnage?
You'd be on the right track here. But you'd be overlooking something. In fact, what if I told you there were some Genesis games so rare, so obscure that you - and the majority of the Sega-loving public - didn't even know they existed?
No, they're not betas - they were actually manufactured and "distributed" (albeit very poorly, which is undoubtedly why their existance is not widely known). Unlicensed, in crappy faux-official clamshell packaging, these three titles (and a controller!) were all made by a mysterious company known only as...Realtec. And boy, are they terrible.
If I remember correctly, only one magazine (Video Games) ever reviewed these titles, and they all got absolutely abysmal scores. The copyright dates on them range from 1993 to 1995, but the only time I ever got a glimpse of them on sale was in the clearnce bins of Kay-Bee Toys in late 1997. I actually first became acquainted through the company here - I was looking for a game to purchase for a friend with a masochistic gaming streak, came across Whac-a-Critter, and knew just by looking at the cover that it was going to be painful. (He loved it, by the way.)
A few years passed, and while pondering over the relative rarity of certain Genesis games, a memory of this title entered my mind - a memory that I had only ever seen the game once, and never again had come by anything else from the enigmatic Realtec.
Upon further research, though, I had found that not one, but a total of three games were produced and manufactured by this firm. You have more than likely never heard of any of them.
And for good reason.
A definite rival to (similarly unlicensed) Divine Sealing for worst Genesis shooter ever made. (You'll probably be inclined to give the point to Divine Sealing simply because it does attempt to redeem itself with showing nekkid anime girls at the end of each level.) When your box copy reads like this:
Only you can come to the Earth's Defense!!! 5 colossal, awesome, fantastic levels of shooting, bombing and total destruction! 2 player simultaneous interplanetary combatcor fly solo! All types of secret weapons, enemies and huge bosses that eagerly attempt to destroy you! It is now the time to bravely climb into the cockpit of the top-secret Phoenix Spitfire and defend the Earth!!!
...you know you've got a winner. I mean, "colossal awesome fantastic levels". It's almost Johnny Turbo-esque. Throw in a mention of "The ARCADE FEEL!" and it'd be a Duo blockbuster, I swear.
Earth Defense (Or The Earth Defend, if you're looking at the title screen) seems to be the most common of the Realtec games, and the only one for which there is an actual review online. Pretty much everyone else who has experienced this title has a similar consensus (it really, really sucks). Still, if you're like us (well, like me and Sardius, anyway), you'll need this both for completion and to say you own one of the rarest of the most incompetently made shooters ever.
Courtesy of EVG 2000
Whac-a-Critter (Mallet Legend)
It's a mole game. Y'know, the thing at Chuck-E-Cheese where you bop the moles as they pop out of their holes? That's pretty much it. Oh, and a really ugly "princess" pops through the holes every now and then. Don't bop her on the head. That's bad. And don't clobber the dog, either. But it's perfectly OK and encouraged to pound on the cats. (I call bias.)
It's not quite as thoroughly awful as Earth Defense, mind you, but still painful.
What makes Whac-a-Critter really special, though, is that there was actually a controller that went along with it: a 3x3 grid with big, circular buttons on each square you could press to accurately recreate that ticket-earning experience. As hard to come across as the game might be, the controller is something you may not ever see within your lifetime. (I know *I've* never found one.) See the back of the cover image above for a pic, and for the hilarious box copy. Note how the controller makes the game totally intense. At this point I am wholly convinced the JT writers were employed to make this. It's also compatible with other 'Smash' games. Which are...um, yeah. *ahem*
Also, it confirms that if you somehow manage to beat this colossal awesome fantastically difficult game, you are a god.
Courtesy of Lofi Gaming Museum