A trifecta of releases this week, including a game that was originally announced as free and is now $10.
Wouldn’t you know it? Without that stupid camera attached to it, Joy Ride is actually quite a bit of fun. The freeing sensation of in-car flight, the stunts that resemble the vastly underrated Rumble Racing on PlayStation 2, wacky music that give it a personality, and Avatar support are all that much more enjoyable when your arms are not extended out in front of your face. Shocking. There’s still the issue that years ago, Microsoft promoted Joy Ride as free-to-play, but turned around and sold it at retail, and now for $10. Nope, the internet doesn’t forget, but if this is the company’s try at aping the Mario Karts of the world, they’re in a position to do so.
The winner here isn’t Alex Kidd, so the title designation is a bit odd. Kidd never caught on as Sega probably wanted him too, a mundane platformer without the sense of adventure of a Mario or other counterpart. In this threesome, it’s Revenge of Shinobi, and while not the best of the series (that’s Shinobi III), Revenge has every ounce of technical challenge and mastery going for it. Bosses are huge, the visuals look superb upscaled, and the music still holds a precise, tinny joy. The third game? The arcade edition of Super Hang-On, presented in the menu with its ride-on form. With a sense of speed and visual density worth noting, there’s life in the idea, but let’s face it: Outrun is multitudes better in hindsight.
Sega is all about touting Monster World IV as a mystic, alluring inclusion in this set. Why shouldn’t they? It’s the best game in the series, but never reached US shores. Why then does the demo now allow its play? The collection demo is locked to the first Monster Land, letting Wonder Boy in Monster World and the fourth sit there unplayed. Go figure. Emulation is strong, including support for generic scanlines and hideous visual filters. Each game has its own charm, and they’re all worth the entry fee of $10, but it’s a marketing fail on the grandest scale. Oh, and Monster World III at least would have completed the set.