23/02/2022

๐Ÿฒ Metal Dragon | Mega Drive | Review | "There will be bullets" ๐Ÿฒ #IndieGames #GameDev #Homebrew #SEGAGenesis

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Known mostly for their MSX releases, Spanish developers Kai Magazine are now branching out into the Mega Drive world with this, their first release on the platform - a run ‘n gun shooter that is presented with tongue firmly in cheek.

“Kill everyone, destroy everything, save the girl… just because you can” – great tagline.

Set in a parodic version of the ‘80s, Metal Dragon comes boxed with a reversible cover – representative of the grid / blue box art versions of Mega Drive games that changed over time.

I kept with the earlier ‘grid’ style as Metal Dragon feels like a game from the early ‘90s. The cover of each features our hero standing heroically atop a tank as a massive explosion looms behind – as does other, general carnage– as he holds his machine gun aloft, with the President’s daughter at his arm, scantily clad – natch.

Inside the box are several art cards and a booklet written in the style of humour present in-game that contains all the usual instructions, guides, and information.

Upon booting up the game for the first time, the initial comparison that popped to mind was Mercs (which, I found out whilst researching this article, was the sequel to Commando) due to the viewpoint and sprite size etc.

On your quest to rescue the President’s daughter, you’ll be making your way through the stages both horizontally and vertically – the direction of travel alters periodically – as you gun down reams of enemy soldiers, tanks, and trucks in a bid to complete your mission.

In terms of the gameplay, much is quite standard here, you can fire grenades from your gun as well as standard ammo, and destroying trucks reveals a selection of weapons to make your quest easier. There are machine guns, shotguns, and powerful anti-armour sniper rifles up for grabs, each with its own pros and cons against certain enemies.

Every few stages, you’ll come up against a boss, which can mean some seriously twitchy action, as you avoid their fire whilst hammering grenades at them in a button-melting frenzy – the enemy bullets may be slow-moving, but when there’s a few dozen of them heading your way, things can get saucy.

Whilst the fundamental mechanics are quite straightforward in terms of ‘move forwards, shoot everything’, there are two main things that really add colour to the proceedings. The first is the humour that runs through the game. Every Metal Gear Solid-esque scene of radio dialogue between your character and his superiors - or various others that crop up as the game progresses - is peppered with action movie references, and I was especially tickled by the sections in the booklet and also in-game where your commanding officer is talking as if you are some sort of infiltrative expert, making your way through the enemy bases undetected, without any casualties -even though you are openly killing hundreds of men and causing mayhem. Good.

The second is the general openness and accessibility that the game offers for all skill levels, as well as giving options to provide a serious challenge for veterans of the genre and high score chasers. For example, there are four difficulty levels – easy, normal, hard, and nuts – and each stage gives you a four-digit code to continue at another time if you so wish. That said – your score resets when your health hits zero, meaning that you need to complete the game with one life (the health bar is quite generous and allows a fair few hits) to not only rack up a tasty score but also to get the full ending. If you finish the game by using any continues…the ending changes accordingly.

On a technical level, the game runs very smoothly, with the only visual glitches appearing on larger enemies such as tanks etc. as, when there’s a lot of explosions on-screen, hit detection boxes flash in these cases worth noting, but I certainly personally prefer this to slow down. The music – courtesy of Robert Vroemisse and John Hassink – also keeps the energy ramped up as you mow your way through the enemy hordes.

https://kai-magazine-software

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