Game: "Mazin Saga - Mutant Fighter"
System: Sega Genesis
Published by: Acclaim
Reviewer: Dr. Boogie
Review: Cross-genre games walk a very thin line. One misstep and the game suffers the doom of crappiness, with the division of gameplay resulting in a division of quality. Mazin Saga is one game that just barely manages to avoid that fate.
From what I can tell, the game is based off of the old Tranzor-Z TV show: a villainous character named “Godkaiser Hell” has created a legion of Godzilla-esque bio beasts, along with army of smaller mutants, to lay siege to the earth. The humans retreat underground, and in the meantime, the earth is despoiled. Luckily, a “Dr. Kabuto” emerges and creates Mazinger-Z, some kind of robot, or mutant, or guy in a suit, or something. Details aside, it’s up to you to battle both the giant bio beasts and the smaller mutants because otherwise, the title wouldn’t make much sense.
Each stage consists of three beat-‘em-up levels followed by boss fight. You get the usual contingent of moves (button mash combo, jump kicks, a super move, etc), and you’ll face off against waves of bizarre mutants. After the third stage, you’ll grow to epic proportions and face off against the bio beast terrorizing the area. It’s never really explained why you have to do this. Normally, something like that wouldn’t be too much of a bother, but in almost every stage, you are harassed by the significantly larger bio beasts, most often in the form of a giant foot trying to grind you into the pavement.
Once you reach the end of the beat-‘em-up levels, you’ll do some growing up and go toe to toe with the bio beasts. When this happens, the game switches to something resembling a fighting game with only one round. This is where things start heading south. As a man-sized mutant fighting, you’ll be handing out quick combos and running roughshod over the opposition. As a giant, however, things become much more difficult. To start with, your movements are much slower, I guess to play up the idea that you’re a hulking giant. Worse yet, you have no special moves, apart from a slash and an uppercut that the manual insists are special attacks. Even the first bio beast you face, a skeleton with rabbit ears and a long tail, can shoot a fireball out of the mouth in its stomach.
And things only get worse in further boss battles. Starting with the second boss, each bio beast will have a much longer reach than Mazinger Z, along with enhanced attack power and speed. With no special attacks at your disposal, these fights quickly devolve into long, drawn out battles where you’ll be constantly flipping toward your opponents (because there’s no other way to approach them without being hit immediately) and pecking away at them, hoping that they never hit you because it will take them far fewer hits to win the fight.
Even more troubling is the surprisingly rough difficulty during the beat-‘em-up sections. When they brought this game to the US, the developers decided to tweak the speed and attack power of all the enemies. The result is that instead of the gradual scaling up of enemy aggression normally seen in these types of games, enemies are just as merciless in the first level as they are in the last. There’s just less of them in the beginning. As if that wasn’t enough, the developers also decided to remove all of the health items that normally appeared in these levels, with the exception of one or two that only heal ten percent of your health. And the icing on the cake: your super move, the one that you’d normally use in a tight spot because it takes some health to perform, will cost you a quarter of your total health.
On the plus side, you’ll have plenty to look at during all this frustrating gameplay. The animations for the various models are all surprisingly detailed for a Genesis game. In particular, the giant boss battles have some very nice-looking animations, which you can enjoy thanks to the less than blistering pace of those fights. The music is also surprisingly catchy, despite the song loops not being particularly long.
If you can work out the timing for the many enemies you’ll be facing, Mazin Saga does manage to be a pretty entertaining game. The boss fights are still a drag, though, and I’ve never known anyone who was able to get past the fifth boss without cheating. It’s just as well, though. The ending is kind of disappointing.
(Scored on a 0.5 - 5 pickles rating: 0.5 being the worst and 5 being the best)
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