Review: Sega Arcade Gallery (Game Boy Advance)

Game: Sega Arcade Gallery
System: Game Boy Advance
Genre: Compilation (Action Racing/Shooting)
Developer: Sega
Publisher: THQ
Released: 5/21/03

I’m sure that in some gaming circles, it’s quite fun to bash Sega games and Sega as a company. “Haha, the Dreamcast is dead. Haha, they’re losing money. Haha, their mascot games are lame now,” is what I hear a lot when I go around certain message boards. My answer to the Sega bashing is “Why?” Sega may have made some mistakes over their company history, but that hasn’t kept them from pumping out quality games that are new, original, and are actually addictive.

Today’s review is going to focus on four such games that were recently released on a compilation cartridge entitled “Sega Arcade Gallery”. These four titles, After Burner, Space Harrier, Out Run, and Super Hang On, may be nearly 20 years old, but they still retain the replay value and fun factor that made them so much fun to begin with. And NOW, you can take these four titles with you wherever you go! But the question of the day is: Do these titles translate well onto your GBA? Read on to find out!

(NOTE: For the purposes of this review, each game will be looked at separately, rather than breaking the entire thing into Gameplay, Graphics, etc. Each game will garner a separate mini-review, and at the end, I’ll give a score to the overall package. This is to ensure each game gets the attention it deserves.)

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AFTER BURNER

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Strapped into the cockpit of your F-14XX, it’s your job to shoot down the enemy fighter jets. Not much of a story, but you really can’t expect much of one from a 1985 arcade game, now can you?

Use the control pad to move your plane Up, Down, Left, and Right. Controls are inverted (Up is Down, Down is Up), but that can be changed in the options menu. Use the A Button to fire your machine guns when you line up your crosshairs with the enemy to shoot them down. Or, when you see a white square appear around an enemy, press B to shoot homing missiles. Be careful though, for your missile supply is limited. (They will be refilled if you progress far enough.) Pressing L will center your craft on screen, while R will speed you up. Pressing both L+R will let you perform a barrel roll. Gameplay-wise, it’s a bit difficult to maneuver your plane when you try and dodge planes and enemy fire. Even when you move left and right, you never move that far from the center of the screen. This fact is complicated further due to the small screen on the GBA. Not only is it difficult to maneuver through enemy fire, you can’t even SEE half of it coming at you. It will look like sometimes your plane will randomly catch fire and crash or self-destruct when you think you’re clear of the missiles. (NOTE: This fact might be null on the GBA player, but I do not have one to test that theory out on.) Luckily to make up for this, you’re given 5 continues right off the bat.

Graphically, the game is practically arcade perfect. Every sprite is converted faithfully to the GBA. Unfortunately, many of these sprites are VERY small, and difficult to see. You’ll be squinting your eyes looking for enemy craft to blow up, only to realize that your plane has, once again, self-destructed.

All the music and sound have been kept from the arcade as well. The light-rock tracks serve the action very well. The game also supports voices, as a “Warning” voice warns you of incoming fire. It helps a LITTLE, but not much.

This game, like the others, doesn’t support too many extras. While you do have a Sound Test and Music Test option, you can’t change the difficulty, or the number of lives/continues you start with, which I find displeasing. Overall, while the game can provide you with a few fun-filled hours, it seems that the translation is more than the GBA can hold.

Gameplay: 6

Graphics: 9

Sound: 8

Fun Factor: 7

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SPACE HARRIER

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Step into a mystical world full of dragons and other monsters. Using your trusty gun and jet pack, you must fly through 18 stages of mayhem as you shoot down the evil that threatens your home.

Again, use the control pad to move Up, Down, Left, and Right. Like After Burner, the controls are inverted, but can be changed. Both A & B fire your gun, while R speeds you up.

Each stage is filled to the brim with not only evil creatures, but also nasty obstructions that you have to avoid. (Trees, pillars, clouds, etc.) Enemies will come at you in a pattern each stage. Things become much easier when you recognize the patterns. At the end of each stage, you’ll face a boss character, whether it is a two-headed dragon, or a huge mass of Easter Island heads. You must kill them in order to advance. Also, Stages 5 and 12 are Bonus stages where you ride on the back of a dragon (who looks like a big cat for some reason). Fun stuff.

Maneuvering is MUCH more forgiving here. You can move your character anywhere on screen to avoid pillars and the like. Some enemies might appear a tad small, but enemy fire is HUGE in comparison. You’ll know when giant blue bullets and massive fireballs come at you. You WILL be able to tell what you are doing on the small screen, which is a huge plus. For some reason, at the start of the game, you have infinite lives until the timer at the top of the screen runs out. After that, you have 5 lives, and five continues to use.

Again, the game is translated flawlessly. Graphically, all the sprites made it in tact, and are more easily recognizable on the GBA of the two shooters. Musically, the game only has one or two tracks that play during the action levels, but there are a few varied boss tracks at the end of each level.

Again, Sound & Music tests are your only real options here. Even so, this is the game out of the collection that you’ll probably be spending the most time on, given the colorful visuals and interesting concepts.

Gameplay: 9

Graphics: 9

Sound: 8

Fun Factor: 10

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OUT RUN

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Here’s the first racer out of the bunch. The goal isn’t to come in first place, or pass the other cars. You’re simply on a high-speed joy ride that lasts until time runs out.

Controls are fairly simple here. Press A for acceleration, B for the brakes, and R to switch from Low to High gear. Left and Right will steer the car, and Down will center you out. There are two more control schemes you can select in the Options menu.

This highly addictive racing title’s goal is simply to get from Point A to Point B. To do this, you’ll need to avoid the other cars and trucks on the road, avoid the many billboards and other objects when you accidentally get off the road, and negotiate many hazardous turns. You’re given 80 seconds to start off with. After you start, you’ll need to get to your destination as fast as possible without running out of time. Luckily, there are Check Points breaking apart each section that will give you extra time. An interesting thing about this game is that there are multiple paths to get to the end. Every so often, the road will split into two, and you’ll have the option of going either left or right. Each path will give birth to different scenery, as well as making nearly every drive a unique one.

The controls themselves are pretty responsive. While there’s no driving wheel to speak of (On a handheld? Please…), moving left and right doesn’t take a lot of effort. You might have some trouble on the hard left and right turns, but once you learn to adjust with the Brake button, you’ll be set.

Again, the graphics have been ported 99% exactly. The other cars and roadside obstacles are big enough so you can see what you’re doing. There’s no random crashing here, although the crashes that do happen are extremely hilarious. (You car flips over 5 times, dumps you out, lands about a mile away, and yet you get up and continue driving. If only those were real-life physics…)

The sound and music have also been ported faithfully. A nice feature is that before each race, you’re given the option of choosing between three tracks to listen to while driving. This makes the game’s life a bit longer considering the music doesn’t get overly monotonous immediately. Options = Music & Sound Test. Not much else other than the different control schemes. Other than that, the game is a wonderful alternative to the other racing titles out there. And it’s over 15 years old!

Gameplay: 8

Graphics: 9

Sound: 9

Fun Factor: 9

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SUPER HANG ON

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The last game of the bunch, and it’s another racer. This time, you’re on a motorcycle, and once again, you need to reach the end before time runs out. Think you got the right stuff?

Controls for this game are also easy to learn. Press A to accelerate, and B to Brake. Left and Right steer, and Down centers your steering. L will slow down the steering response, and R will give you a speed boost when you reach the top speed of 280 MPH. Like Out Run, the controls are responsive on the GBA.

To be honest, this game is remarkably like Out Run, only with motorcycles. You begin by choosing one of four courses (each one with a different amount of stages), and then get down racing. Your goal is to get to the end of the race before time runs out. You’re given 50 seconds to start off with, and you HAVE to make each second count. You’ll have to avoid the other bikers, and the various objects you’ll find off road. The speed boost is a unique feature, allowing you to go even faster on straight roads. Just don’t be stupid and use it on a hard turn. It can lead to trouble, believe me.

Again, the graphics have been ported faithfully to the handheld, and you are able to see what you are doing clearly. Also, music and sound have been ported faithfully as well. Like Out Run, you’re given a choice of music at the beginning of the game. You get to choose between four songs this time.

The main options, aside from two extra control schemes, are the same as the other titles. (Looks like Sega & THQ didn’t spring much for extras, huh?) In any case, this is another fun title out of the collection. If you like motorcycles and mock racing, I highly recommend it. Boy this review is getting redundant rather quick, isn’t it? Let’s wrap this up so we can all go home. (Unless, well, you ARE home and…well…never mind.)

Ratings

Gameplay: 8
Graphics: 9
Sound: 8
Fun Factor: 9