Review by 16-BITTER
Reviewed: 09/26/16 | Updated: 01/02/18
Interesting concept, at the very least
Borderline (ボーダーライン) is an arcade action game by Sega, ported to their SG-1000 console. Tasking players with guiding their attack jeep deep inside an enemy fortress, its multi-stage approach and mix of concepts makes for an interesting game. Although it's ultimately a shallow experience, comparable to other basic arcade-style action games like Yar's Revenge or River Raid, it's not a bad game by any means and would probably have more fans if anyone had ever actually heard of it.
So Borderline is played in two phases: the driving phase and the attack phase. The first part of the game plays out kind of like River Raid or a Bump 'n' Jump style driving game, where you guide your jeep down a winding path. The path is lined with what appears to be white cones, some of which will be thrown into your way and must be shot down. Your bullets alternate from the left and right sides of your hood, so you must take this into account when aiming. But while your jeep has unlimited ammo, it does have a fuel gauge, so you must shoot red tanks along the sides of the road in order to keep yourself fully loaded.
Completing this segment, you'll enter the fortress phase, where you now control your jeep directly like the character in Night Stalker or a similar top-down action game. You must fend off the re-spawning jeeps and tanks and destroy the enemy's energy source across three slightly different screens. Some parts of the level have solid walls, while other parts have ones you can dig through (think Dig Dug) to provide cover against enemy fire. Take out the final core and you'll advance to the next, harder round.
Neat idea for level progression, especially the fun fortress segments, but Borderline is held back from greatness due to its general easiness and plain graphics. While faithful to the arcade game, the plain sprites and sparse environments aren't particularly attractive, even for this era. The music is above average, especially the game over jingle, though ultimately nothing particularly notable. It's also really easy to simply mash your way through the stages until you get bored, which for me was just a few rounds in; if the game eventually gets harder, I didn't stick around long enough to notice.
If the driving segments were more dynamic and the fortress sections a little tougher, I'd give this one two thumbs up. As for now, it's a decent action title for the era, but there are many better for sure.
Rating: 3.0 - Fair
Product Release: Borderline (JP, 12/31/83)
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