Monday, 10 April 2017

Gain Ground why I think it should have been the start of a series of games.

Ok so I wanted to continue with another post in a series I just began on what games Sega should have tried to turn into franchises. The following game is one that I have never really written or even talked that much about and yet it is one of my favourate games and in particular it is one of my favourate stand alone games made by sega, it is called Gain Ground.

Gain Ground originally came into my life back in my childhood megadrive owning days, I used to visit an indy games store which not only had an awesome selection it also did a pretty roaring trade in import software. Now one of the best things about this shop is that once a game had been released in the UK any Japanese copies it had laying around would generally get marked down to £5 which just so happend to be just exactly the amount of pocket money I got per week, so as you can imagine at one time my collection was very heavily filled with Japanese games, and on one fateful week the game I happend to buy was none other than Gain Ground. I have to say that from the second I got home I adored the game and over the years the more I have played it the more I have appreciated what it has to offer. I find it important to admit here that although I consider Gain Ground a MegaDrive title it was an arcade machine first and even hit the Master System before finding itself on the MegaDrive/Genesis.

Ok so I am going to start with giving you an idea of what Gain Ground's story is. Basically there was a society which had endured peace so long that they basically lost both the brains and the guts for war. This concerned the government and so they decided to develop a computer simulation however suddenly and without warning, there Supercomputer went haywire, to combat this 3 warriors were dispacthed in to the Gain Ground system to rescue those who are trapped in it and to try to shut the system down.

I think its an intrest fact to slip in at this point that the makers of Gain Ground said that they were inspired by the classic Gauntlet, but does that mean that it plays like Gauntlet? Well you play as small little characters and you move in a simmilar way but then thats about the point any real similarity ends. Unlike Gauntlet you dont play in big screened mazes full of scrolling you play in little compact stages, yes you have to depend on both your instincts and reflexes but arguably a lot more as its one hit and your dead territory here so every decision and movement really counts. The thing that makes Gain Ground great is that its one of those games which is incredably easy to pick up but hard to master, add on top of that the fact that it always makes you feel like you have the abilities needed to complete a level and that if you dont its your own fault not any bad programming or glitches.

So what do you do in Gain Ground well quiet simply you start with 3 characters and you either have to kill every enemy in a level or get at least one of the characters through the levels exit to progress. If a character dies well at first they remain on the round as a little icon guy who you can save if you have a character left to pick them up on there way to the exit, in much the same way you will come across new characters, they will start off as little guys in the level who if you collect will then join you. Each of the characters comes from a diffrent time period and has diffrent skills, you will find knights who shoot fireballs, guys who use rifles, women with grenades, people with spears and even people with ray guns and all of them will have there own advantages, disadvantages and uses and its up to you to work out who to use when and how.

You can play Gain Ground for a long time or you can pick it up now and then and have a quick little blast on it, it also has a two player mode in which you try to get through the levels togther which is brilliant for when you want a good buddy game, lets face it so many games over the years have only offerd versus modes when it comes to multiplayer.

So in looking at why I think Gain Ground should have or should be turned in to a series I need to look at the history of the title, to look at what platforms it has been released on and when. Gain Ground started off as an arcade game running on the Sega System 24 arcade architecture which was released in Japan and the United States in 1988, it was then ported to the Sega Master System in 1990 and the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis in 1991. In 1992, a PC Engine Super CD-ROM version (Gain Ground SX) was released, the game was then remade for the PlayStation 2 as part of Sega's Japan-only Sega Ages 2500 series its made its way on to the Wii Virtual Console found itself included in Sega Genesis Collection on the PlayStation 2 and the PSP in 2006 and then in the Sega/Sonic Ultimate Genesis Collection for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 in 2009, it also made its way on to the PC through steam (along with a lot of other megadrive titles).

Love for the game hasnt ended here though with Chapters 15 and 17 of the crossover game Project X Zone being stages directly pulled from Gain Ground and yet the game has never in all of these years seen a sequel which is suprising as it must still be generating both income and good will for sega for it to keep being re-released in this fashion.I argue that this builds a very strong case that there is a demand for more Gain Ground and that it should have become a series, and hey you know what as far as I am concerned its not too late.

So what would I want from a Gain Ground Sequel? Well unlike with Alien Storm I am not thinking about a MegaDrive sequel, I would like a sequel now, I would like it on a portable system, now as far as I am concerned that portable system can not be a phone based platform as I dont think this kind of game can be reproduced with touch based controls they just dont feel adequate for this kind of reflex based games so for this reason I would argue that the game needs to be on either the 3DS or the PS Vita or both. Now I see two main ways to go with this either you dont update the graphics much at all, you make a game thats got a simmilar amount of content to the original and you market it in the £8 to £15 range or you upgrade the graphics and make the game longer possibly with a branching storyline and/or reasons to make the game highly replayable such as different endings or bonuses for how quickly or competently you can finish it. The main thing I would want to see though is lots more characters not only with a wide range of abilities but also awesome designs full of personality.

Again  I am not going to say that a sequel would be fail proof, and as I said before there is always the danger that a poor sequel can ruin a games legacy, but I really think that it would be great to see a new handheld Gain Ground, I could see myself playing a handful of levels on the bus on the way to work in much the same way I will pull something like Fire Emblem Awakening out and do a stage while on the bus, I think it would be an awesome game to play in short doses like this, heck or failing that stick it on the Xbox One and PS4 as a download and give me a darn good dash of co-op buddy fun either way I would kill to see more Gain Ground.

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