I’ve never been much of a fan of tank based games. My dislike probably stems from being forced to play Jackal in coop with a scrub and if you’ve ever been in that situation you know it isn’t pleasant. What makes it even worse is that usually I was the scrub in multiplayer games! With that in mind I overlooked great games like Iron Tank and Granada for years. Don’t make the same mistake I did. Granada is a great game that is criminally overlooked and a bright spot in the Genesis library.
I’ll let the instruction manual detail the overly dramatic plot: “Leon Todo — one of the last great sharpshooters, fights for private enterprises. His strong will drives him to the battlefield. In September, 2016, he came to Japan while the summer still lingered. A female agent of PEID (Private Enterprises’ Intelligence Department) contacted him and game him a floppy disk with a job request. The agent was later found dead, by unknown hands. Leon accepted the assignment, and he traveled to Tobora. In Tobora, he found a Super Mobile Weapon,” the Hypertek-Cannon Tank, Granada.
Renovation is no stranger to early Genesis owners as they provided many of its quality games early on. But even with that in mind Granada is still pretty obscure. Was it the goofy plot that sort of mirrors Blaster Master? Who knows? Despite its low profile and high difficulty Granada is a great overhead shooter of which there are very few.
While I may have mentioned Blaster Master you’ll find no out of vehicle shenanigans here. The Granada tank is armed with two main weapons. Your normal shots are very fast but lack power. The blaster is what you’ll use to take out stronger enemies although it has a few drawbacks. It lacks rapid fire and also has a kick back that can push you off ledges or into hazards. The controls are extremely tight and you can use a separate button to lock your fire in a given direction while still remaining mobile.
In the area of special weapons I’m pretty disappointed. There are only five available and most of them aren’t very good and only appear once. The reflector varies from being nearly indispensable to full on worthless and unfortunately is the most common. The Paulvanian (I know, weird name) is an orbiting shield that can destroy bullets and enemies and probably my favorite although it only appears in one stage. Epalet are long range missiles, chromleck are heat seeking bullets and the final weapon is hidden. Not as in hard to find, just hidden, which causes a wide range explosion when touched.
The object of each stage is to destroy a certain number of targets to unlock the path to the boss. The onscreen radar helps track the targets and you have free reign to destroy them in any order. Even though you are in a tank the sprites are pretty small lending a sense of scale to each map. In spite of their size the levels are pretty densely populated with very little dead air. There’s a great variety in environments with each level featuring its own unique set of enemies and other weapons of destruction. While the levels are massive it’s actually easy to get around as your vehicle is actually pretty quick which is necessary as time is your greatest enemy.
Memorization of each map is absolutely crucial since the amount of time given and targets changes from one level to the next. The different difficulty settings affect how much time you’ll receive but even then you’ll still need to plot a course. In general there is enough time to explore a little bit but the targets are still a priority. That is because you still need to reach the boss with enough time to defeat them which is easier said than done. Very quickly the density of enemies will slow you down and you’ll find that 350 seconds to destroy nine targets is just barely enough. It’s rough but manageable and in my opinion part of the fun.
With its aggressive timer and highly populated levels Granada can be brutal for those that are unprepared. The maps are full of dead ends that waste time however the actual boss target is a blinking light on the map. This allows you to plan your route accordingly. As much as I wish special weapons were more prevalent the game is still fairly balanced without them. There are also other factors working in your favor. Your life bar is generously long meaning it takes a very long time to actually die. Even though you are limited to three continues all progress you have made persists and enemies do not respawn. The bosses, next to the clock are the most difficult element. Many have to be destroyed in stages and are fought in tight arenas. They are challenging but the best encounters in the game.
It’s a damn shame Granada has such a low profile as it deserves better. Or maybe that is a blessing in disguise since you can find it relatively cheap. Although it probably got caught up in the early shooter rush for the system Granada is better than the majority of those titles and still incredibly fun today.