Games of the 2017 Mega Drive Championship

6 July 2017

The countdown to the 2017 Mega Drive Championship continues... In 1-month the crowds shall gather to enjoy some awesome classic Mega Drive action. Eight of the finest retrogames have been selected and will serve as the gauntlet; 1-player challenges, 2-player head-to-heads, multiplayer deathmatches and even a team game! The 16-bit era has never been quite this amazing.

All of this will be set alongside the backdrop and banter of the friendly competition that runs alongside a group of people passionate about playing some pure, but ancient, videogames. No save states, help menus, on-line modes, strategy guides or pausing... Pride, passion, purity and Pete Sampras Tennis. The 2017 Mega Drive Championship will have it all.

The Mega Drive Championships have been trundling on for far too long for each competition not to mark some form of anniversary. 2017 will pay homage to the Anglo-Irish Tournament of 2007, when five legendary Irishmen of folklore and maybe myth, travelled to face English heroes on the ancient and noble sport of Mega Drive. Over twenty of the purest 16-bit fixtures this battle raged and, 10-years on, we have whittled these down to just 8-games for the 2017 competitors to face.

This year, we ask long-serving tournament member and one-time Mega Drive Champion, Don Derek, to offer his opinions on the titles...

"The latest Mega Drive UK Championship will soon be upon us, and with a lacklustre attendance at last yearís anniversary tournament, hereís hoping this year will be more popular. Some of the games been revealed, let us have a little chat about each one..."

Of course, the below list is by no means definitive and should serve as a guide only. The Tournament Administrators reserve the right to amend the games used at any time, as those in 2016 found to their horror when Ball Jacks had been added to the line-up. Much also depends on whether the copy of Greatest Heavyweights can be found... so expect an 11th hour replacement with Virtua Racing/Speedball 2/some other such tosh.

Following its success at the 2016 Mega Drive Championship, Mega Bomberman returns. Explosive action (literally) from start to end, it has been a tournament feature since 2009 as players frantically scuttle around trying to blow up blocks to release power-ups and, more importantly, their opponents. Early rounds will be held in the first stage, allowing Bomberman amateurs to get accustomed to the basic playing style of the game. Later rounds will see more complex and treacherous stages to help separate the wheat from the chaff. Did we mention this will be a mulitplayer game? We expect and encourage a complete lack of sportsmanship, as players form unofficial alliances to try and advance in to the later rounds. Also, moral victories will be awarded for anybody who gets to ride a pink llama thing.#trecheryiseverything.

"A great four player action. Youíre a Bomberman, you bomb the other Bombermen. You canít get a premise simpler than this. Another staple of the Mega Drive Championship circuit and with the amount of enjoyment one has when playing this, itís easy to see why. Even when you place a bomb and realise youíve locked yourself in its blast radius, committing explosive seppuku, you canít help but have a smile on your face."

Anglo-Irish Retrospective: V for Valentine was beaten by Mega Bomberman novice Mr Smith in the first ever game of International Mega Drive Championshippery. Mega Bomberman returned later in the contest as a four-player game and Team Ireland restored some pride with the combination of The SNESinator and V for Valentine too much for Mr Smith and Lieutenant Gareth.

Axel and Blaze will be returning to their roots in 2017, when they join up with Adam in the game that set them out on the mean streets. After spending many tournaments watching our members talentlessly whacking the special move button on Streets of Rage 3, we have decided to return to the game that pre-dates this option and a whack of the A-button merely serves to call your friend in the police force to take down the AI enemies. The shrewd will observe that Streets of Rage does not possess a duel mode, however, this is not necessary as the fighters will be brawling within the level itself complete with AI enemies and the various traps. The level select and hard mode will be employed for this round... Now this should be a fight like never before!

"Normally itís the third instalment in the Rage on the Streets series which gets picked for its one-on-one battles. So another alternative has been given from the norm to shake things up a little. To be honest I can baely remember anything about the first Streets of Rage. I'm not sure I've even played it."

Anglo-Irish Retrospective: While the original Streets of Rage will be debuting, at the Anglo-Irish Tournament, sequel game Streets of Rage 3 was chosen by Captain Maltby where he defeated Rod Rash in the disco round. This victory marked the last time in the competition where Team England were competitive and it all went downhill following this tie. Team Ireland, meanwhile, ascended like the proverbial phoenix to win the first International Mega Drive event.

Pete Sampras Tennis is one of the "original four" games which were used relentlessly from the 2nd - 6th tournaments. It was used in every competition from 2nd - 25th Championships and was the only one of the original four games not to be used in 2016. Pete Sampras Tennis marks a watershed moment for the tournaments as, for the first time in a main domestic contest, a team game will be used. With the exception of qualifying round, semi-final and grand final, every round will see a team of two take on another team of two in an elimination. In the semi-finals, former friends become foes, as we split the two furthest advancing teams apart and force ex-teammates to duel for a place in the final. Any team/player that gets ahead of their opponent by two (tennis) games will progress into the following round and, hopefully, we have a recipe for epic chaos. At least we didn't use the "playpete" cheat and force teams into the crazy mode!

"Although a game which either makes an appearance or at the very least threatened to make an appearance to instil terror in the masses at each tournament, with heavy emphasis on the latter, it is something that I am yet to play myself. As such, I shall differ to the wisdom of tournament organiser Dilks or Smith:"

Anglo-Irish Retrospective: Pete Sampras Tennis was used twice at the Anglo-Irish Tournament. Firstly a game of doubles where Team Ireland were able to defeat Team England, 6-4. In the eloquent words of Lord Dilks: "Well Doc Shakib's lob and volley game was lacking and my forehand slice and backhand lob was a bit to cock, but other than that... it was shit basically, we were both pretty crap and we've let down an entire nation." Lord Dilks later restored some pride when he defeated Pornmonger comfortably at the tail end of the event, by which point, Ireland's victory had been confirmed.

WWF Royal Rumble is the sequel game to WWF Super Wrestlemania and will be making its debut. The latter, however, is an old hand in the tournaments, although has hardly been one of the most compelling games that has travelled through Mega Drive Championship history. Debuting at the 14th Tournament and promptly dropped at the 15th; the passion enjoyed by players and spectators cannot override that WWF Super Wrestlemania is an awful game. With terrible controls, sounds and graphics, it feels very much like a beta version of WWF Royal Rumble... which is hoped will have more tournament replay value than its predecessor. The buttons are quite simple; punch, kick and grapple. Through a series of calamitous 2-player duels, participants will determine which one of them is worthy of claiming the points... practicing on this game is heavily discouraged, as a free-for-all button mashing chaotic experience is desired.

Anglo-Irish Retrospective: Lieutenant Gareth chose WWF Super Wrestlemania, having showed his calibre on the game at the 14th Mega Drive Championship. In what can only be described as a competent performance on this title, V for Valentine's Hulk Hogan was successfully dispatched by Lieutenant Gareth's Papa Shango and the points were claimed for Team England.


(probably)

Micro Machines '96 makes a welcome return to the Mega Drive Championships, having been overlooked by Micro Machines Military in recent years. With the absence of weapons, the pure racing will be complemented by the more hands on aggression of this title, as players will attempt to bump their opponents from the track and into obstacles/off a cliff. General bad sportsmanship and treachery is encouraged in this multiplayer example of Darwinism. As usual, the tracks are unlikely to be selected before the day, and probably not until the first players gather around the console and ask "what track are we using?" The C-button performs the essential feature of the horn and moral victories will be awarded for appropriate/most frequent use of this skill.

"A great four player romp around a track comprised of teeny cars and giant Ė by comparison Ė pencils, erasers, and other household stuff that you would manufacture into a course on your dinner table when you were younger. Drive to the edge of the screen when in the lead and get a point. Fall behind and youíll lose points. Of course you could drive all the require laps and win the old fashioned way, but games rarely get that far because of the sheer speed and handling abilities of these miniature motors."

Anglo-Irish Retrospective:Micro Machines '96 appeared towards the tail end of the contest in a 2 Vs 2 team game that saw Rod Rash and SNESinator defeat Captain Maltby and Mr Smith. Winning this fixture took Team Ireland to the brink of glory, however, this was not confirmed until Megabomberman beat Mr Smith in the next fixture of Brian Lara Cricket '96. The names on the J-Cart probably remain unchanged to this day, so look out for "Mick", "Soviet", "Jim" and more than a couple of tactlessly named "Hitler"s.

Doctor Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine will return for the 2017 Mega Drive Championship, after an eleventh hour decision to remove the lengthy Greatest Heavyweights. The affectionately nicknamed "slogfest" would have taken far too long, even if a knockout could be produced in the first 2-rounds. This homage to the Anglo-Irish Tournament was swiftly replaced by Dr Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine, which seemed well received when it debuted at the 2016 Mega Drive Championship.

"For some reason they decided to change Robotnikís appearance from the standard design to something inherently messed up from the animated series, with eyes that only Majin Buu can pull off, and then slapped him and his robot friends into a Tetris remix, which many will of course know was the Western release of the Japanese game Puyo Puyo. Slam those beans which fall with increasing speed to make a same colour combination and have them disappear from the machine. Which it is unclear as to whether thatís the point of the Mean Bean Machine to begin with, because if youíre going to throw in beans which then explode when a certain amount of matching colours join, thatís got to hurt your bottom line at the end of the financial year."

Anglo-Irish Retrospective: Greatest Heavyweights had been the original choice for the 2017 Mega Drive Championship, however, "Slogfest", as the title was affectionately dubbed by the Irish at the 2007 event will play no part in 2017, as it is too long and too tosh. In 2007 England's Doc Shakib was swiftly battered by the SNESinator, in under two rounds. Lord Dilks, in 2007, offered this insight: "This is awful... this is an absolutely awful game". Doctor Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine played no part in the Anglo-Irish Tournament, so this game will be the cuckoo in the nest.

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 has been an active game in every Mega Drive Championship to date, however, although the Blue One will be present at the 2017 Championship, this will mark the first Tournament where the reasonably popular Sonic 2 will be absent. Instead Sonic will shine in his debut outing from 1991; Sonic the Hedgehog. The simple speed-run from 2016 was deemed not taxing enough for our members, so in 2017, Sonic will find himself in the Green Hill Zone Act 3 and the challenge will be finishing with the most amount of rings. Sounds easy? All players must complete the level in under 2-minutes or be disqualified... did we mention there was a boss to defeat? Most rings win, fasted time as a tiebreaker and a 2-minute deadline. Ouch!

"What would a Sega Championship be without at least one appearance from the spiky blue mascot? Sonic games are all about the speed runs on Green Hill Zone (with Mystic Cave Zone being used in Sonic 2). Simply put, fastest time wins. In the event of a draw the higher amount of Rings is crowned victorious. If there is a tie on thatÖ I have no idea, probably pistols at dawn. More likely itíll be fastest time on the next Act."

Anglo-Irish Retrospective: Sonic 1 has been used both in the English Challenge competition and the 2010 European Mega Drive Championship. In 2007, sequel games Sonics 2 and 3 were chosen by Mr Smith. On both games, Mr Smith comfortably beat V for Valentine whom Team Ireland selected on those titles because nobody else fancied their chances. The game on Sonic 3 came towards the end of the competition and permitted the English a miniscule amount of respectability, Team Ireland having already put the competition beyond doubt.

Super Street Fighter 2 was, by far, the most popular game at the 2016 Championship and exactly the same rules will apply this year; the elimination mode and not the versus mode will be used, with no player allowed repetition of characters in a single round. The last person standing advances (or wins if it is the final). Select your fighter and whack the buttons in the hope of a victory. Better players will know the C-button is superior to all others and even better players will know how to launch an array of special moves... we expect many button mashing brawls. Our disdain will be offered to anybody who selects T.Hawk whom, in the hands of the AI, is a fearsome and graceful fighter, but in the hands of any human player is a cumbersome lump with terrible moves, who is slow to respond and difficult to control.

"Another staple of any retro tournament, Super Street Fighter 2 needs no introduction. Pick some characters and beat the crap out of each other. A game which I have fond memories growing up with, my tactic is mainly to use Blanka and spam the electric attack as soon as they get up. Rinse and repeat. However after my second fight of doing so everyone became aware of my strategy and as such it has become a little redundant. I still keep trying it anyway, just in case my opponent thinks that because everyone knows I do it, that I will refrain from doing so. Then boom, surprise. This also rarely works."

Anglo-Irish Retrospective: Super Street Fighter 2 blasted into action after a dull game on Columns and a fairly one-sided game of Sonic 2. Here, Lord Dilks played the SNESinator who in an all Chun-Li battle in Sagat's stage, with the first round convincingly going for Team Ireland and the second round being a much tighter fighter that ultimately went for Ireland as well. Street Fighter 2: Championship Edition was the final fixture of the tournament and, this time, Doc Shakib faced the SNESinator in the elimination mode. The result was identical with Doc Shakib managing to beat just 2 of the SNESinator's characters to his 6. The final blow of the 2007 Anglo-Irish Tournament came from a crafty little low kick from Blanka, wrapping up the victory for Team Ireland.

The Tournament:
For most, the enjoyment of classic retro gaming is reason enough to pick up the controller and enjoy the nostalgia of a purer time of videogaming that did not require an Internet connection. Some, however, they are drawn by the challenge of the competition and the thrill of victory. Participants will enter 8-rounds of awesome Mega Drive action with the winner of each round awarded 4-points. Finishing as runner-up will score 2-points, with the third and fourth placed, or semi-finalists in a knockout round, earning 1-point each. The points shall be tallied and the person who has obtained the most points will be declared Mega Drive Champion, with overall rounds won to rank those with equal points.

Competitors are permitted to use their own controllers, provided they do not have an auto-fire button or there are not any other forms of bizarre modifications.

Other rules include: The forfeiting of a game will result in a 1-point deduction. Pausing the game is not permitted without permission. Throwing the controllers is forbidden. Penalties and disqualification at the Administration's discretion.

The Exhibition:
For members of the public who do not wish to take part in the more structured nostalgia of the Mega Drive Championship event, but still fancy a quick spin on some classic Mega Drive games, we will be showcasing six great titles for vistors at the NVA to try their hand at...

Mortal Kombat II:
This fighting game series that was so controversial they tried to ban it! The original also required a "blood code" in order to access the full gore, which now looks so unbelievably lame by the standards of modern videogaming, it is worth smiling at our innocence. Enjoyably, there are only three Sub Zero pallet switch clones available in the main game (although a further two are unlockable). There is a good array of characters in this game with a nice range of special moves. Bonus points go to anybody who remembers how to perform a death move.

Gunstar Heroes:
Select your weapon and get ready to blast the living heck out of everything that moves. Everything is an enemy and if you do not move or react quickly enough, you will find your vitality slowly being sapped away by the relentless and remorseless array of foes. Weapons are best selected according to how you intend to play the game and, naturally, we recommend going hardcore aggressive with free-shot and fire!

Michael Jackson's Moonwalker:
You play as Michael Jackson, King of Pop, your goal is rescue young children who yell your name "Michael" in appreciation. The music is pretty damn awesome in what is otherwise a fairly mediocre platformer, however, Moonwalker truly captivates the nineties in a way few games at the time could... to enter club 30 and the beats of Smooth Criminal guiding you through the level is pretty awesome. At the end of each level, once all the children are... safe? ... Bubbles appears and guides you to the boss. While it is probably possible to complete this game, anybody who gets to the Woods stage and has not lost interest deserves a round of applause.

Streets of Rage 2:
Mr X is back and the streets have never been meaner (until Streets of Rage 3 at least). Hero from the original game, Adam, has been kidnapped and so his kid brother Skate goes delinquent with Axel, Blaze and some steroid abusing bear wrestler... of something like that. Visually, this is worlds ahead of its predecessor game, and the music is sensational. Don't forget to pick up the secret extra life at the very bottom of the screen in Stage One! There are eight awesome rounds before you face Mr X and will see you fighting through a bar, arcade, baseball ground, ship, jungle and factory taking on wave upon wave of foes.

Mickey & Donald World of Illusion:
Nostalgia will have you remember this classic as being far better than it actually is. Of course, there is something awesome about the first level and whacking enemies with your cape to have them turn into butterflies, and riding a magic carpet and the clouds of the second level... ok, it's a pretty good game, if not occasionally frustrating and unforgiving. The levels vary depending on whether you chose Mickey, Donald or both. The co-operative game is actually when this title gets really cool (except for level 5, which is tosh, or when one of the characters fall from the screen and you have to send a rope down to collect them) the co-operative interaction with the levels makes this game truly memorable.

Sonic 3 & Knuckles:
Long ago, when Sonic games were awesome, Sega produced this epic romp across the Floating (later Angel) Island. Bigger and more adventure based than the previous two Sonic games, the immersive nature of Sonic 3 and Knuckles and the incredible replay value was immense. From Knuckles' first leaping from the ground to rob Super Sonic of the chaos emeralds, to the manic chase of Doctor Robotnik through the Doomsday Zone, with the prize being the master emerald itself, this game gives you 16-bit platforming at its most incredible.

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