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A TO Z OF ENGLISH TOURNAMENT LEAGUE GAMES

24th June 2009

With the 2009 European Mega Drive Championship now looming and England once again on the brink of another whipping at the hands of overseas Mega Drive players, the benevolent Administration have made a vague attempt to diversify the league game pools. In the first changes in three-years, four new games will be added to the league competition, two in each division. Mega Bomberman will grace Division One after its success in both the Tournament Knockout and European Mega Drive Championships, Micro Machines: Military will also replace Micro Machines '96 in the higher league. Division Two sees two new additions in the forms of Marble Madness and Sonic 3. Naturally it is not expected that the addition of four new games will suddenly make England world beaters on the European stage and another last place finish will more than likely be on the cards for the three men who qualify following the Twentieth Mega Drive Championship on 19th July.

Unlike other European domestic competitions, the games used in the English league are much more rigid. Based upon skill level each division has its own game pool from which, every tournament, the fixtures are radomly drawn. With eleven games used in Division One and tweleve in Division Two, we take a look at those titles that are deemed worthy enough to take part in the English competitions, those games that must be mastered by members if they are to become Mega Drive Champion.

Captain Maltby is the second longest serving member currently involved in the Mega Drive Championships. As a man who generally dislikes the Mega Drive we deemed him the perfect choice to offer his pearls of wisdom in regards to the games currently employed in the tournaments. For those who cannot be bothered to read his comments they have been summarized in the form of a handy rating system:

Good

Ok

Poor

Tosh

Contemptible

"Captain Maltby is the authority of fuck all" - Chris Dilks: Tournament Administrator

Aa

ALIEN STORM

Tournament Introduced:

Fifteenth Championship

Total Games Played:

Fifteen

Competitions Used:

Division Two & Tournament Knockout

Game Skill Rank:

Game Enjoyability:

Game Quirk Factor:

Alien Storm has received some quite vocal criticism since its addition at the Fifteenth Mega Drive Championship. The 1-player/2-player co-op game is a fantastic duel against an onslaught of alien hordes intent upon invading Earth. Varied game play and enemies keeps the challenge fresh and enjoyable. The 2-player duel mode possesses none of these qualities. Two of the three playable characters go head-to-head in front of the hotel from Mission Four in a feverish button mashing battle to the death. Never the less, Alien Storm is reasonably skilful game and seen as the lower league counterpart to Golden Axe 2.

"I've not played it* although, having been made to sit and watch it, realise I don't want to."

Rating:

*Captain Maltby has actually played this game, as recently as the 19th Tournament, and he won too!

Bb

BALL JACKS

Tournament Introduced:

Eleventh Championship

Total Games Played:

Twenty-One

Competitions Used:

Division One, Two & Tournament Knockout

Game Skill Rank:

Game Enjoyability:

Game Quirk Factor:

Innuendos not included: Ball Jacks is a strange game in which players control a crab like creature (bot) behind which runs a conveyer belt. Upon the belt are two balls, with the idea to steal all the balls from your opponent before they steal them from you. A countdown timer runs down from six-seconds, when a player is ball-less, and upon reaching zero that player loses the round. Ball Jacks was originally introduced as a knockout only game at the Eleventh Mega Drive Championship, it was expanded to be used in both Division One and Division Two at the Fourteenth Tournament. Opinions on Ball Jacks range from moderate to contempt, although it remains one of the quirkiest games in the competitions.

"Ball Jacks is reasonable, although I appear to be getting worse. It's one of those games no
matter how much you practice you're probably still going to lose*, because it's so random,
skill doesn't even come into it."

Rating:

*Actually, one person wins each game, Captain Maltby is just tosh at Ball Jacks.

Cc

COLUMNS

Tournament Introduced:

Fifteenth Championship

Total Games Played:

Twenty

Competitions Used:

Division One, Two & Tournament Knockout

Game Skill Rank:

Game Enjoyability:

Game Quirk Factor:

Columns was added to the Mega Drive Championships at the Fifteenth Tournament in an attempt to provide a bit more mental stimulation to the contests and in that regard it has probably failed. While it's a nice little puzzle game, we have yet to notice a greater intellectual sphere at work in the Mega Drive Championships and high-culture discussions about politics, economics and philosophy are still absent. Many members still struggle with the notion of grouping three or more gems of the same colours together and usually games end up becoming a panic to avoid being the first player to fill their screen. A couple of players have managed to adapt to the concept of trying to remove the flashing gem, however, Columns has yet to produce anything remotely close to an epic game.

"I like, because I usually win. Contrary to popular belief (the statistics*) I am the best player on it."

Rating:

* Statistics rank Captain Maltby at fourth out of sixteen players.

Ee

ETERNAL CHAMPIONS

Tournament Introduced:

Ninth Championship

Total Games Played:

Forty-Nine

Competitions Used:

Division Two & Tournament Knockout

Game Skill Rank:

Game Enjoyability:

Game Quirk Factor:

Added at the Ninth Mega Drive Championship, to the Second Division, Eternal Champions has always been seen by the administration as "poor man's Street Fighter". Both luck and judgement are required in order to be successful on Eternal Champions with time consuming and ineffective special moves, often hammering away on the buttons can be an equally formidable tactic. A character limitation of one character to be used per tournament was introduced at the Fifteenth Championship in order to encourage overall skill and makes members choose somebody other than Xavier, the character of choice prior to the limitation. Death moves are also included, however, unlike Mortal Kombat effectively pulling them off is dependant upon positioning as opposed to button combinations.

"Oh dear. Erm, I only seem to be any good when I play as the magicy man, what's he
called, the one that throws snakes at people*? But otherwise boring.

Rating:

*Xavier.

Gg

GOLDEN AXE 2

Tournament Introduced:

Second Championship

Total Games Played:

Sixty-Nine

Competitions Used:

Division One & Tournament Knockout

Game Skill Rank:

Game Enjoyability:

Game Quirk Factor:

Golden Axe 2 was introduced at the Second Tournament as a replacement to Golden Axe, which was used in the original Mega Drive Championship. Key to its success is the unique countdown method of scoring, which can occasionally lead to some thrilling battles. Three characters, questionable detection and a very limited number of attacks, Golden Axe 2 holds its place in the tournaments more to its classic arcade awesomeness and history within the competitions than being anything above an average game. There were plans to remove Golden Axe 2 following the Third Mega Drive Championship and replace it with Super Street Fighter 2, however, this plan never really moved out of the idea stage. Arguably the greatest game in the Mega Drive Championship occurred on Golden Axe 2 when Lord Dilks beat Doc Shakib 1-0 at the Fourth Tournament.

"Well seeing as I only learned to play it before the last one - I won didn't I? I can't
remember! If I didn't win it was close* - it has gone up in my estimations. Before I
thought it was boring, but now I think it's quite skilful, which I never could have
imagined. There's hope yet"

Rating:

*Captain Maltby is likely rambling about his 2-0 victory over Commander Graham at the 18th Tournament.

Mm

MARBLE MADNESS

Tournament Introduced:

Twentieth Championship

Total Games Played:

None

Competitions Used:

Division Two & Tournament Knockout

Game Skill Rank:

Game Enjoyability:

Game Quirk Factor:

With the exception of World Cup Italia '90, Marble Madness wins the Mega Drive Championship award for most aesthetically unpleasing tournament game. Controlling those slippery little balls around treacherous courses is quite a challenge and it is hoped that this will add some quirky excitement in the lower league - we have been wrong before though and await to see how Marble Madness fares in Division Two. The sounds are bloody awful too!

"Why the hell are you putting this game in? Suppose it could be quite fun, but it probably won't be."

Rating:

MEGA BOMBERMAN

Tournament Introduced:

Nineteenth Championship

Total Games Played:

One

Competitions Used:

Division One & Tournament Knockout

Game Skill Rank:

Game Enjoyability:

Game Quirk Factor:

After being inspired by the European Mega Drive Championships, Mega Bomberman has been promoted to a full league game, after being added as a Knockout only title at the Nineteenth Tournament. Members wander around a grid, dropping bombs to destroy blocks, collect power-ups and reach and kill their opponent. An oddity of a game that would likely be classed as some form of strategy-fighter hybrid. Team Germany gave some fantastic anecdotes about drunken Mega Bomberman, but it has yet to establish its place firmly in English Mega Drive Tournament folklore.

"I'll probably turn out to be quite bad at this, but no surprise there. That's all I can say
about this since I haven't played it, well I have, but not on the Mega Drive."

Rating:

MICRO MACHINES MILITARY

Tournament Introduced:

Twentieth Championship

Total Games Played:

None

Competitions Used:

Division One & Tournament Knockout

Game Skill Rank:

Game Enjoyability:

Game Quirk Factor:

Micro Machines: Military will be added to the Division One game pool at the Twentieth Championship. The previously worthless C-button, that was employed strategically as a horn in earlier games, now fires a projectile that causes a momentary loss of control if it hits. Micro Machines '96 had been used in Division One since the Eleventh Mega Drive Championship and it is anticipated that replacing it will add a greater level of skill to the higher league.

"Sounds quite thrilling, but will probably end up as monotonous and tedious as the
others, but I do like them in a monotonous, tedious way. Guns... wow!"

Rating:

MICRO MACHINES '96

Tournament Introduced:

Tenth Championship

Total Games Played:

Forty-Four

Competitions Used:

Division Two & Tournament Knockout

Game Skill Rank:

Game Enjoyability:

Game Quirk Factor:

Micro Machines '96 is a top-down racer where players whiz miniature cars around various tracks, which range from pool tables, baths and desks to gardens, ponds and the beach. One of the most, if not the most, popular game of the competitions. It replaced Micro Machines 2, in Division Two, at the Tenth Tournament and proved so successful that it was one of two games that continued in the league following the amalgamation of the two divisions. Micro Machines '96 will be surpassed by Micro Machines: Military in Division One from the Twentieth Championship. Fast paced and frantic, Micro Machines '96 pushes reflexes to their limit and while honking the horn may not do anything in regards to gameplay, effective piping will earn respect from ones peers.

"Yeah, it's good. No guns though - shame."

Rating:

Nn

NHL '97

Tournament Introduced:

Sixteenth Championship

Total Games Played:

Nine

Competitions Used:

Division Two & Tournament Knockout

Game Skill Rank:

Game Enjoyability:

Game Quirk Factor:

NHL '97 was the fourth ice hockey game to be used in the Mega Drive Championship, preceded by NHLPA Hockey '93 and NHL '96 in the league and alongside Wayne Gretzky Hockey in the Knockout. Frequently the source of contempt from a number of members with difficult controls (well it is played on ice), stupid rules (well it is hockey) and the seeming randomosity of scoring this is one of the least popular tournament games at present. The length of each game is also a major gripe about this game, however, there are no intentions to replace NHL '97 with any other game at present.

"Ugh! I don't like this, it's slow, it's painful, nobody ever seems to score, let alone win,
it's only ever draws. You put the controllers down and you think 'what was the point?'
I can't imagine anyone would buy this game for fun."

Rating:

Pp

PETE SAMPRAS TENNIS

Tournament Introduced:

Second Championship

Total Games Played:

Eighty-Seven

Competitions Used:

Division One & Tournament Knockout

Game Skill Rank:

Game Enjoyability:

Game Quirk Factor:

Ah! Prime up talk for backhand slices and forehand lobs and you're ready for the gibberish that usually accompanies games of Pete Sampras Tennis. Once the most loved game of the competition, overkill, the length of game and the introduction of some good Mega Drive titles now overshadow this simple to play, responsive, decisive, difficult to master tennis sim. Prior to the Second Mega Drive Championships there were numerous discussions as to what games should be introduced to make the tournament "longer and more erotic" than the original. In the end, aside from Golden Axe 2, the only properly new game to be added to the game roster was Pete Sampras Tennis. Pete Sampras Tennis is renowned for the longest recorded tournament game of nineteen minutes and eleven seconds. If we played the crazy mode the game would rank higher in the quirk factor category, but this is just bog standard, awesome tennis!

"Used to be quite enjoyable, but now I've played it too much it's boring. I was never
really any good despite the odd ace. I haven't playing it in a while, which is good."

Rating:

Rr

ROAD RASH 3

Tournament Introduced:

Fifteenth Championship

Total Games Played:

Twelve

Competitions Used:

Division Two & Tournament Knockout

Game Skill Rank:

Game Enjoyability:

Game Quirk Factor:

Road Rash 3 debuted at the Fifteenth Mega Drive Championship when its predecessor game, Road Rash 2 - which had previously been used in Division One, fell out of favour with the Administration. Hop on your motorbike and zoom off towards the horizon in an endeavour to reach the finish line before your opponent. Seen as a concentration game, which is at some points impossible to concentrate owing to stupid hills obscuring the view, a ridiculously choppy frame rate, poor response times and having to play the 2-player split-screen mode with a quarter of the screen space as the 1-player game. Other than those huge annoyances, Road Rash 3 is a distinctly average game where members tussle with their controllers in an attempt to say on their bikes. In spite of all its flaws, the usual suspects don't tend to moan about this one, some members even deem it to be the best game in the Mega Drive Championships - fools!

Last time I played this I got viciously hit in the head, two seconds before the end,
which caused me to lose* so I'm not happy. I will avenge my misfortune."

Rating:

*Captain Maltby is talking tosh here for a number of reasons:
1) The game he is referring to occurred at the 16th Championship
2) Captain Maltby has played Road Rash 3 twice since then.
3) Captain Maltby won both the aforementioned games.
4) The game he is referring to was against Lord Dilks, who has now left, so he cannot possibly avenge anything.

Ss

SENSIBLE SOCCER

Tournament Introduced:

Fifteenth Championship

Total Games Played:

Fourteen

Competitions Used:

Division Two & Tournament Knockout

Game Skill Rank:

Game Enjoyability:

Game Quirk Factor:

Mega-Lo-Mania men playing football! Sensible Soccer was the product of attempting to find a decent football game for the lower league from the dark, dank mire of tosh Mega Drive football games. European Club Soccer was the original Division Two football game for the Ninth and Tenth tournaments, but when the lower league was re-formed at the Fourteenth Championship, it was replaced with FIFA Road to World Cup '98. Often a fast and chaotic button mashing event, the more skilful players who can cope with this rapid pace game, often go on to annihilate their opposition. Sensible Soccer receives a good deal of vocal criticism from its critics, but remains one of the most popular games in the tournament and is still one of the best Mega Drive football games out there.

If I have played it I can't remember, which is a good thing*.

Rating:

*It is indeed a good thing, as Captain Maltby was held to a 1-1 draw on Sensible Soccer by Old Spice Lock.

SONIC THE HEDGEHOG 2

Tournament Introduced:

First Championship

Total Games Played:

One-hundred and one

Competitions Used:

Division One, Two & Tournament Knockout

Game Skill Rank:

Game Enjoyability:

Game Quirk Factor:

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is the sequel of the console defining Sonic the Hedgehog. Fantastically brilliant is Sonic's second endeavour to defeat the wicked Doctor Robotnik and restore normality to planet Mobius by destroying Robotnik's super weapon - the Death Egg. Added at the First Mega Drive Championship, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 has been a constant throughout tournament history and, used in both divisions, is the most played game in the competitions. Perhaps the closest thing in the tournaments to a strategy game, with many routes to the finish and numerous rings and points to collect, passing the finishing line first is no guarantee of success, with the opponent getting an extra minute to scavenge the zone for extra goodies. Both the Special Stage and Mystic Cave Zones are no longer used in the competitions, nor is item box or total rings counted in the scoring.

Yeah, I've only actually got better in the last year. Not better enough to win, but
draw*. It's a little bit tedious but non-the-less enjoyable, if you like that sort of thing.

Rating:

* Captain Maltby holds the longest drawing streak of any member - 6 successive Sonic 2 draws!

SONIC 3

Tournament Introduced:

Fourteenth Championship

Total Games Played:

Three

Competitions Used:

Division Two & Tournament Knockout

Game Skill Rank:

Game Enjoyability:

Game Quirk Factor:

Sonic 3, as a stand alone 1-player game, is the inferior half of the awesome epic that is Sonic 3 & Knuckles. The competition mode is vastly inferior to Sonic 2, as the strategy element included in the prequel game is removed in favour of a flat out race. Originally added as a Knockout only game at the Fourteenth Mega Drive Championship, it was decided to expand the use of this game to the Second Division for the Twentieth Tournament. Speeding around five laps in five courses offers a novel racing/platform style challenge for members, but how Sonic 3 fares up to being used in the league remains to be seen.

"I've never played it, but what could be more boring than racing the same track over
and over again? I hope I never have the misfortune of playing this ever."

Rating:

STREETS OF RAGE 2

Tournament Introduced:

Ambiguous

Total Games Played:

Twenty-Four

Competitions Used:

Division Two & Tournament Knockout

Game Skill Rank:

Game Enjoyability:

Game Quirk Factor:

The Streets of Rage series is one of the finest set of games ever released for the Mega Drive. Often regarded as the best of the series, the battle mode falls short of the quality present in the full game. Streets of Rage 2's inclusion into the Mega Drive Championships is unclear. At some point during the early days of 2001 it was decided that if ever two members were tied on points, goal difference and goals scored (the latter now being defunct) then there would be a tiebreaker on Streets of Rage 2. It was never actually used to settle league position and instead made its tournament debut at the Ninth Mega Drive Championship as a Division Two game. Until the Nineteenth Tournament winning was just a matter of performing repeated special moves (unlike Streets of Rage 3 there is no handicap for a normal A attack) so it was decided that special moves should be turned off.

"Erm, bring on the Skate. Forward, forward, B kicking assingness*. It's the way forward."

Rating:

*Quote from Earl Holbrook describing how he would win a game of Streets of Rage 2.

STREETS OF RAGE 3

Tournament Introduced:

Fourteenth Championship

Total Games Played:

Seven

Competitions Used:

Division One

Game Skill Rank:

Game Enjoyability:

Game Quirk Factor:

Often whored out on ebay as "ultr@ r@re", Streets of Rage 3 was added to the Division One game pool at the Fourteenth Mega Drive Championship. The final of the fantastic Mega Drive trilogy, which has since been neglected by Sega (although the Streets of Rage Remake continues to delight fans of the forgotten series), a brilliant 1-player game that has translated well into the battle mode. Responsive gameplay, changeable environments and a number of moves are now overshadowed by the fact most games descend into an A-button skirmish - although the more observant members have started to become aware that using a special move drains the effectiveness of conventional moves. Streets of Rage 3 is the only game exempt from the Tournament Knockout and solely used in Division One.

"See Streets of Rage 2."

Rating:

SUPER STREET FIGHTER 2

Tournament Introduced:

Seventh Championship

Total Games Played:

Forty-Six

Competitions Used:

Division One & Tournament Knockout

Game Skill Rank:

Game Enjoyability:

Game Quirk Factor:

Super Street Fighter 2 was seemingly designed for Mega Drive competition. Fast, furious and frantic, both players go head-to-head armed with an array of punches, kicks and special moves, as they attempt to K.O. their opponent. Yet, in spite of its simplistic brilliance, Super Street Fighter 2 did not become part of the championships until the Seventh Tournament, although moves were made to include it as early as the Fourth Championship. Inspiring both the Tournament Knockout and Challenge competitions, Capcom's classic is a favourite among players and spectators alike. Selected over Street Fighter 2: Championship Edition owing to four more characters (sixteen overall), more special moves, more responsive and fluid game play, Super Street Fighter 2 does have inferior sound. There is no intention to include the sister game into the tournaments.

"I'm rubbish at Street Fighter, much to my dismay. I hope to wake up one day and be good at it.
I could probably beat a five-year-old. In the words of Baron Von Hooton: 'It wouldn't be so bad
if it weren't for someone else using the other controller'. "

Rating:

Vv

VIRTUA RACING

Tournament Introduced:

Seventh Championship

Total Games Played:

Twenty-Two

Competitions Used:

Division One & Tournament Knockout

Game Skill Rank:

Game Enjoyability:

Game Quirk Factor:

Vrrrrrrrrrroooooom! A 3D Mega Drive game? Virtua Racing was included as one of three games at the Seventh Mega Drive Championship. Until that point there had never been a racing game used in the competitions. The addition of the SVP chip allows the Mega Drive to display real, actual polygons and nearly doubled the selling price of this game to 60! Nowadays Virtua Racing can be picked up much cheaper on ebay. While the terrible condensed polygon graphics take some adjusting to, with some of the nicer touches removed from the 2-player mode, Virtua Racing is a high concentration and memory game that features some very treacherous turns, especially on the Acropolis level. Sadly, Virtua Racing is also limited by only having three tracks (although the mirror mode, which isn't used in the competitions, does give a bit more life into the 1-player game). Members are allowed to select a manual transmission change, as opposed to the default automatic, although nobody thus far has opted to do so.

"Hit and miss. I think I'm quite good, unless I play against Doc Shakib. Graphics put the PS3 to shame"

Rating:

Ww

WORLD CUP ITALIA '90

Tournament Introduced:

First Championship

Total Games Played:

Sixty-One

Competitions Used:

Division One & Tournament Knockout

Game Skill Rank:

Game Enjoyability:

Game Quirk Factor:

World Cup Italia '90 was the first game ever used in the Mega Drive Championships. In the debuting game, in 2001, Lord Dilks hammered Doc Shakib 16 Vs 1. World Cup Italia '90 is clearly a rushed game intended to capitalize on the hype and marketing of the 1990 Football World Cup. As a game it lacks good graphics, good sound, good responsiveness and generally everything required for a game to be constituted as good. Yet, in spite of it's major flaws and a 1-player game that makes life threatening surgery seem like a joyful experience, the 2-player mode is a highly skilful affair in which the underdog will seldom triumph. Most new players will enter the game with the mantra of "just hit A", however, with skill and experiences comes effective incorporation of the B & C buttons. World Cup Italia '90 lacks fundamental options such as substitutions, a useful radar, formation changes, fouls, offsides, but does have four animated corner flags, which blow in the wind.

"World Cup Italia '90 is so contemptible my words cannot express, therefore I will show my contempt
by saying nothing, although I did win a game once and was quite pleased*."

Rating:

* Download video of Captain Maltby winning his first game of Italia '90 (1.6MB)

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