Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Retro Game of the Day! Last Battle

Retro Game of the Day! Last Battle

Last Battle by Sega for the Genesis, released 1989. I seem to be on a bit of a kick with "launch titles" lately, so why not continue the trend-

Last Battle was a bit of a mystery. On the one hand, it's obvious why they chose to launch it with the system over here - the game was a pretty nice showpiece for its time, with large, detailed characters walking around the screen beating the tar out of one another. This was a nice contrast to what was going on the 8-bit screens at the time (and a fair comparison with similarly-detailed TurboGrafx-16 titles as well). Yet for it's graphical prowess, the game was lacking.. quite a bit, really.

Last Battle was actually the localization of a Japanese anime/manga series known as Fist of the North Star, a series which had already seen some localization on these shores previously in 8-Bit incarnations (on both Nintendo and Sega's machines). At the time it was not really in vogue to bring over the entire story, or characters, et cetera, so instead they'd just rewrite a bunch of the plot/characterizations. Likewise, the source material was extremely violent (if cartoony in its way) and rather than seeing your defeated rivals actually exploding into eruptions of blood and guts, you'd see them usually just rocket off the screen (or, at worst, puff up with pimples).

The gameplay itself is not very engaging. Your character has a limited set of moves and he feels rather clumsy - though this was impressive to witness at launch, it's not really so fun to go back and play now. The game is hard and strange (especially since they ripped so much of the context out) and so not very compelling.

In spite of Last Battle's quirks - or maybe because of them - the game still had some charm to it. It was extremely slow paced, but fighting games (especially back in 1989) of this nature were quite unusual and it did give the player a degree of satsifaction to just walk all over the world, kickin' ass. It felt cool to power up your EXP points and get super-powered, even if all the crazy kung-fu moves looked.. well, crazy!

In hindsight, not a great game, not a terrible one, Last Battle is largely forgettable and yet somehow, still fertile ground for mining interesting gameplay out of. I know they released plenty of other (proper) games using this license, I wonder if any of them were enjoyable?


  1. This could have been an awesome game, but the controls were too stiff.

  2. Wow, someone commented besides me :) I very vaguely remember this game, but I didn't know that it had anything to do with Fist Of The North Star. There was a pretty decent (from what I recall) FotNS game for the Gameboy at one point. I don't know nearly enough about the history of that property to know if any of the U.S. games were really any good, though.