Friday, 24 March 2017

Sion II (X68000)

It seems like the last couple of posts have been a bit negative, but luckily, this one has come along to buck that trend! Sion II is a game for the X68000 which was given away for free with a magazine in 1992, which is pretty amazing to be honest, for a couple of reasons, which I'll get around to shortly. Before I do, I'm going to make a point of mentioning that along with all its other fine traits, it's got an incredibly good soundtrack, right up there with Cho Ren Sha 68k as one of the best on the system.

Now, the reasons it's amazing that this is a coverdisk game I mentioned. Firstly, there's the fact that it's a fully-featured game, that could easily stand alongside any commercial games of the time, on pretty much any contemporaeous system. I mean, it's a fairly simple arcadey shooting game, but you know, it came out in 1992, and it has a proper attract mode and other little bits of presentation polish. It plays well too, but you know, there's been plenty of good games given away free on various formats over the years, but ones with these kind of production values are pretty rare.

The other reason you can figure out by simply looking at the screenshots alongside this review: it's a polygonal 3D action game on a 16-bit system in 1992. That's a year before Starfox hit the SNES, and two years before Virtua Racing on the Mega Drive. It's also two years before the better-known 3D X68000 shooter, the Jumping Flash antecendent Geograph Seal. The framerate might drop a little when things get busy, but honestly, even with that taken into account, it still feels like a technical marvel.

Anyway, yeah, as I mentioned, it plays pretty well. It's obviously heavily influenced by the Star Wars vector-based arcade games from the 80s, as you fly forwards, shooting enemies and avoiding their shots, with a first-person cockpit view. There's even a stage taking place in a trench! The trench is as far as I've been able to get, actually, as it features sections of girder-dodging, between shooting sections, and eventually the girders start moving. I've tried a few times, but I have not yet been able to proceed any further than that. But yeah, it's a simple 3D on-rails shooter, so it's very linear, but only an idiot would complain about that (like the guy who wrote the Panzer Dragoon review in Sega Power a million years ago). I definitely recommend playing it, or at the very least looking up the music on youtube.

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