Sunday, 24 July 2016

Devastator (Mega CD)

It might just be my imagination, but it seems like there's a disproportionally large amount of action games about giant robots on the Mega CD. Devastator is one of them, and it's also part of another sizable category of Mega CD games: anime licenses. It's based on a two episode OAV entitled D-1 Devastator, of which only one episode has ever been subbed into english, by the group ARR, who had an infuriating habit of subbing the first episodes of rare and interesting series, and then never going back to them. Of course, since this is a game on an early CD console, grainy clips from the anime play between stages, though the quality is far from being the worst on the system.

But anyway, Devastator is a combination platform game/horizontally-scrolling shooter, with each stage playing out as either one or the other. There's no half-measures, either, as the platform stages are intricate, and full of traps, while the shooting stages are fast, hectic and full of enemies and their bullets. I admit I wasn't expecting much from a Mega CD game licensed from a long-forgotten OAV and developed by Wolfteam, but Devastator was a really pleasant surprise.

I have no idea what the anime is about, but the developers haven't let it hamper them thematically in any way, as there's stages in cities, deserts, jungles, some kind of incredibly enormous space/hell mansion and so on. The monsters mostly seem to be the same for all the platform stages, though each has unique traps and other elements, while the enemies in the shooting stages seem to be different every time. The bosses in both types of stages are great, too, being massive, detailed sprites, with attack patterns that are fun to learn.

Not only does it play really well, with the difficulty level balanced just right, hard enough to be satisfying and easy enough to avoid frustration, but it also looks and sounds great. It's not just a case of a Mega Drive game being dumped onto CD so they could shoehorn in some FMVs, the Mega CD's strengths are really put on display here, with lots of colours, amazing CD quality music, and even the occasional bit of sprite scaling! (Sprite scaling is always very welcome on this blog.)

The Mega CD is a system with more hidden gems than most people think, and Devastator is definitely one of them. I definitely recommend giving it a try.

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