Retro Game of the Day! Mystic Defender
Mystic Defender, a 1990 Sega Genesis release. This was hot on the heels of the system launch, the following year after we 1st saw the console bow over here. Releases back then sure weren't like they are now - especially following a system launch, things would come out in a little burst and then slowly trickle out. It would often take at least a year for anything to get up to speed - so different from now, when a console will launch with 20+ titles and immediately afterward, they just keep coming.
Anyway, the point of all of that was to mention this was definitely first-wave Genesis material, and so followed a lot of general rhythms of the games of that early period (aesthetically and gameplay-wise). This was one of the big early "action platformer games" to appear on the system - big in power and scope anyway, but tiny in brand ("Mystic Defender," who ever heard of that? A dude in purple who kills zombies, monks and alien things?) Okay so the band wasn't much to go from - this was a sequel to an earlier 8-Bit pseudo-RPG called "Spellcaster," I have never played it and so can't comment. I'll say this much, that game wasn't so well-received back in the day.
So in Mystic, you're this sorcerer guy who is tasked with saving the world and all of that. You run around and shoot energy bolts from your hands (charge up like R-Type for a big, powerful burst attack), as you progress you can get your paws on other weapons as well. In some ways it feels like if they took the DNA of a shooter, in that way, and merged it with a platformer. Cool stuff..
It was pretty standard fare for any Sega gamer - underwhelming platforming, not bad just not "whoa...!" In those days it was just impressive to feast on these sound effects and graphics as the NES was still king of the hill, otherwise. Thematically, it was also a nice deviation from the usual fare - some fancy demo-world stuff which wasn't usually seen too much in the states, with a bit of tech thrown in.
Not too much more to say about ol' Mystic Defender, he came and went and Shinobi pretty much occupied this general space on the Genesis. Kind of a shame, as the world was rather unique and given a little leeway, they could have brought it out into something special with some further iteration. As it is, MD reminds gamers of an early time when 16-Bit was still a novelty not many knew, or cared about yet..