Review by Eddy_Hokkaido

Reviewed: 08/28/03

One of the best games no one has heard of

INTRO Many years ago I was a member of a very exclusive club. The few, the proud, the rpg fans that did not own a super nintendo. I got the genesis shortly after it came out and as some of you may remember rpg's on the system were very few and far between. Truth be told rpgs on sega 16-bit never really took off until the advent of the sega cd. However, before all that we did have this game(Buck Rogers in case you've already forgotten), which was a port of a slightly older PC game of the same name, and it was good. In fact, at the time(and arguably now) there was really nothing like it on any other console system.

GRAPHICS - 7 The visuals in this game range from functional to mildly stunning. What I mean is this, most of the game, ie the walking around, battle scene parts is pretty standard early 16-bit rpg kind of stuff. Essentially it looks good enough to serve its purpose. However, any time an ''event'' occurs you are usually greeted by a nice looking still shot(either full screen or view screen) and these are very nicely drawn. So basically, your jaw isn't going to be on the floor, but the graphics get the job done.

SOUND - 6 The sound in this game is completely functional. The in game sounds are pretty cut and dry with all kinds of subtle pops and screeches representing the various lasers and rocket pistols and such. There is small amount of digitized speech(mostly robot speech) in the game and back in the day that was a plus. The music ranges from slightly catchy to slightly annoying, but I'm sure opinions would differ on this particular point.

CONTROL - 7 As in most rpgs control is pretty much a moot point. However, the layout of this game makes it awkward at first. Basically, the C button lets you move forward through menus and confirms actions, the START button lets you back up, and the A button takes you to your inventory/status menus. This is pretty weird, as in most games the START button is pretty much default for status/inventory. It just takes some getting used to really. Moving around and such is pretty much hassle free, as in most rpgs.

STORYLINE/CHARACTERS - 8 Buck Rogers. A term that makes most people think about bad haircuts, tacky costumes, Gary Coleman guest spots, a bird looking guy, and robots that talk funny(''Beedee Beedee Beedee, roger Buck!''). Well if you were hoping for a game based on the old TV show, your probably going to be disapointed. What you do get is game straight from the SSR role-playing(you know 20-sided dice and what not) series which itself was taken from the old pulp magazines from the 30's and 40's(yeah Buck Rogers is pretty old kids). Basically its the 25th century, Earth is giant toxic waste dump, Mars and Venus are habitable thanks to the science of terraforming, terrorism is still in the news, rockets are now much more affordable and economical, and the baddest mofo in the solar system just so happens to be a guy from the 20th century who recently woke up from a 400 year cryogenic coma. Your team of up to 6 characters(who you have to make mind you) works for a group called NEO who are trying to stop a group called RAM from creating and using the aptly named doomsday device, in an adventure that takes you all over the lesser part of the solar system. Like I said earlier, this is a port of an old PC RPG, even more specifically an old SSR PC rpg. If you've played one old SSR PC rpg(be it a Buck game or D&D) you pretty much played them all. What this means is that this game can be very non-linear at times, in fact once you finish the first 2 missions and get your rocketship, its basically do whatever the hell you want when you want, and believe me there are all kinds places to go and enemy ships to board and take over outside the main plot. Like I said earlier you have to make up to 6 characters from scratch. Characters fall into 4 categories Warriors(fight fight fight), Rocket Jocks(fly the ship, fix the ship), Medics(heal heal heal), and Rogues(Talky Talky, break into stuff), all of which are useful in their own ways. Still, since you have to create your team don't expect a lot of(or any really) emotionally charged character interaction. Its just not in there. But the storyline is intriguing and some people will enjoy the non-linear creation element.

PORT - 9 The genesis game beats the PC version in just about every category. Graphics and sound wise it just destroys the PC game. However, when it comes to gameplay and storyline the console game is much simplified. Now normally this would be a big problem for someone like me, but the game itself is just so much better this way. For those interested the stuff taken out of the PC version are rifles(laser, rocket, and heat) human sub races(Mercurian, Venution, etc), and your rocket running out of fuel(don't miss it one bit) just to name a few. Bottom line, if you absolutely love this game give the original PC game a try. Otherwise just stick with this. Trust me, its just better.

OVERALL - 8 On a system not known for RPG's this game is a nice little gem. If you like non-linear rpgs this is definitely worth your time, because there is plenty of screwing around to be done in this game. However, if the first RPG you ever played was Final Fantasy 7, and you don't like old school create you characters from scratch kind of games, steer clear, cause this game just isn't for you. If you can find a copy of this game consider yourself very lucky, because this thing was a rare find like a month after it first came out. But if you do find one, you just got yourself cult classic.

Rating:   4.0 - Great

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