Forgotten Worlds

Even after all these decades the 80s action craze still finds ways to entertain.  If you are a child of the 90s or later sadly you missed out.  This was a time where shirtless action heroes were a dime a dozen and so video games followed suit.  Forgotten Worlds is almost the epitome of that period of time.  I loved it in the arcade and the Genesis port that would follow years later is a competent rendition and one of the system’s earliest bright spots.

In the distant future the evil god Bios has come to Earth, ravaging the land and decimating the population.  The world is so devastated it is eventually called the Dust World.  Rather than give up the people create two super soldiers to fight back against Bios and his forces.  Like Strider and Ghouls N Ghosts Sega created the home port of Forgotten Worlds.  While there are some notable changes and cut content they have done a pretty damn good job bringing the game home. 

As much as I looked forward to this home port the controls were always going to a sticking point.  In the arcade Forgotten Worlds used both a joystick for movement and a rotary button to control your satellite.  In many ways it is almost the precursor to the dual stick controls we enjoy today.  The Genesis can’t replicate but offers options that mimic that functionality.  Both A and B rotate your character and you can independently position the satellite using button combinations.  It’s not ideal but it at least works.  Turning on auto fire makes it better but the main problem is still player speed.  You can buy items to boost satellite speed but not for your character which is unfortunate.  Despite my gripes the game is still more than playable.

Although this is a shooter there are some light rpg elements at play.  Defeated enemies drop zenny in varying amounts as well as shooting the environment.  This cash can be spent in the shop that appears at least once per level.  There is a decent selection of weapons that changes per level, from a flamethrower, the overpowered napalm, laser, to the expensive homing lasers.  Surrounding these are various upgrades.  You can extend your life bar, buy temporary armor, and permanently increase firepower.  Zenny is not in abundance which encourages shooting everything to find hidden cash.  You also get a potential bonus if you complete the levels fast enough.  You’ll certainly need every advantage you can afford.

At the time of its release Forgotten Worlds was an interesting take on the shooter.  The ability to fire and face any direction added a new dimension to gameplay.  Managing the satellite and its positioning is similar to R-Type except you have more control.  The Earth’s destruction has given rise to all manner of creature, from reptiles to Egyptian pharaohs.  The strangeness is complemented by the game’s absurd localization, which is full of plenty of inane dialogue. 

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There are some pretty stark differences between this version and the arcade.  Both player characters were distinguished weapon wise; the blue soldier had a long range rifle while red had a short range wide shot.  For the genesis both have rifles.  It works out better this way given the control situation.  A few of the arcade’s levels have been chopped which is unfortunate.  Forgotten Worlds is not a long game and the Sega version is even shorter.  No matter how much I like the game its brevity can’t be ignored.  It’s also pretty ugly.  There has been a significant loss of detail compared to the arcade not to mention the bad soundtrack.  The decision to go with a four megabit cartridge really impacted the game negatively, as shown by the superior eight meg Strider.

Forgotten Worlds is pretty difficult for a few reasons.  As an arcade game it was designed to drain your quarters and that still remains.  The loss of precision when it comes to aiming leads to many cheap hits you can’t afford.  The biggest offender comes in having a single life with no continues.  You can buy a resurrection item but can only carry one at a time.  It’s a bad decision and one that hurts the game unless you cheese its setup.  In coop as long as one player is still alive both can rejoin infinitely.  If you press start on the second controller before death, presto!  You can go on.  You shouldn’t have to resort to that though.

In Closing

At this point there are better conversions of Forgotten Worlds for various platforms.  Sega produced a pretty decent port for its time but it was surpassed shortly by the Turbo CD game.  This was one of my first Genesis games and as much as I have fond memories of it I can’t recommend it today.

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