THURSDAY THROWDOWN - Mazin Saga: Mutant Fighter for Sega Genesis
Last Summer, Dean wrote a Throwback Thursday article about a beloved Sega cart from his youth, Mazin Saga: Mutant Fighter, a game that flew under the radar at the time and now fetches a pretty penny.
Knowing my love of the side-scrolling, hack n’ slash genre (so long as I am not killing fellow humans), Dean allowed me to borrow his vintage copy of the game, and I made the time recently enter the world of this anime/manga adaptation. This isn’t a review so much as the impressions of a fringe gamer trying something a gamer loves—just something to keep in mind as we move forward.
For those unaware, Mazin Saga: Mutant Fighter (which I am going to refer to as MS:MF) follows an anime-robo-warrior across the world, as he battles through mutants and monsters across the ruins of the civilization they’ve essentially destroyed. The levels are broken into sub-levels against humanoid-sized villains, which lead to a final big boss, literally. In order to battle these oversized antagonists, the hero grows to an enormous size himself. As I said, the game is a 2D side-scroller, but the boss levels are setup more like a fighting game. I believe there are 6 levels (each with 3 sub levels, I think), but I was undone by the 4th continent——the 3rd world’s boss, DINO BEAST, wreaked havoc on me like a plague and took at least 4 of my lives and a a continue to boot.
MS: MF is fun game. The controls are solid, the backgrounds pretty cool, and the multi-formatting for levels/bosses adds variety. In many ways, the game feels to me like a Voltron-esque whole-is-greater-than-its-parts fusion. Allow me to explain: MS: MF constantly reminded me of other games, but it used solid elements from them (and their respective genres) in order to make itself something of a new thing altogether. Here’s the rundown that came to mind: the sub-level format of 1-1,1-2, and 1-3, etc is reminiscent of Ninja Gaiden or Mario Brothers. The sword-based hack n’ slash gameplay on these sub levels is much like Golden Axe II. The background and character design reminded me of Contra III: The Alien Wars, and the boss levels felt much like a slower version of Street Fighter II. Combining elements from all these other games elevates MS:MF; it’s familiar but different. While playing it reminded me of a number of other games from my own youth, it offers a unique experiecne in that is unlike any of these former titles. I pretty much love all of the aforementioned carts, but none of them feature a sub-level outrunning a mutant T-Rex in Europe——at least not that I recall.
So there’s something to be said for this game in and of itself, regardless of my personal affinity for it (or lack thereof).
Had I not had my childhood prejudices, I may have loved MS:MF as a kid. It would have driven me nuts given the difficulty, but I’d have persevered, I think. The boss levels —that is, the levels that feel like a fighter game—are a blast, especially when you learn some of the main character’s tricks (to block, press ‘A’). As an adult, I have limited game-time, so I tend to give games an initial run and see where I stand—some titles like Golden Axe II and X-men brought me back for multiple sessions; Ecco and MS:MF didn’t. And that’s okay. If that’s your jaun, play on. Just don’t ask me to.
It's an interesting thing being the out-of-touch, old-school guy on the site. Most of my articles are written for nostalgic purposes and the video games I play obviously have the sheen of rose colored memory. New gaming experiences have to deliver something special in order to win my favor. With MS:MF, the level playing didn't do it for me, but the bosses did, so it became a bit of a wash. Of course, even though it wasn’t for me, I can respect what its fusing elements of so many other popular, known genres of the time into a new sort of hybrid gaming experience. I don’t know if I’ll play this game again, but I sadly discovered it 20 years too late. As a kid I may have had a very different experience. I mean let's face it: I still think the SNES Power Rangers game is pretty fun and it's a lesser title by all accounts. I just fell in love with it when I was 12.
For those who have carried a torch for Mazin Saga: Mutant Fighter, more power to you. It’s a good game, at least worth giving a try—I mean, when else do you get to run away from a Mutant Rex in Europe (so long as you make it to level 3)!?!
Till next time,