Last week, we saw how our friends at Funstock had joined forces with “retro restoration” specialists Piko Interactive to bring us three brand new Atari Jaguar releases, which are available for preorder until August 2, 2021.
Today, Funstock has confirmed that their happy relationship with Piko has even more to offer retro gaming collectors interested in picking up unusual and interesting games for classic consoles. And this time it’s for a somewhat more mainstream console than the dear old underappreciated Atari Jaguar — we’ve got four great Mega Drive titles to look forward to.
This time around, rather than being ports of European 16-bit home computer games, the new releases are Asian titles that haven’t previously been seen in the west on their original host platform. Three of the four releases form part of the expansive (and excellent) Piko Interactive Collection 1 cartridge for the Evercade retro gaming platform, but the fourth is making its proud debut in the west with this selection of releases.
Preorders close for these on August 9, 2021 and they are planned for release in early October. Let’s take a closer look at what’s on offer, then!
Brave Battle Saga: The Legend of the Magic Warrior
Brave Battle Saga was originally released in 1996 as an unlicensed title for the Sega Mega Drive. It was developed by Taiwanese developer Chuanpu, and is one of several games released by the company that use the same RPG engine; the other two, Ya-se Chuan Shuo and Tun Shi Tian Di III, have not (yet?) been translated to English.
In Brave Battle Saga, you take on the role of the brave and noble Tim as he attempts to prevent the evil Zak Empire from restoring an ancient space station that could potentially destroy all of civilisation.
The game is noteworthy for how it foregoes the “world map” structure traditionally seen in 16-bit RPGs; instead it makes use of a contiguous playfield similar to titles like Secret of Mana. This provides a much stronger feeling of exploration and every location having a distinct sense of “context” — though your overall progression through the world is still quite linear.
Brave Battle Saga is available as part of the Piko Interactive Collection 1 cartridge for the Evercade, or you can preorder the packaged Mega Drive version here.
Canon: Legend of the New Gods
Strategy RPGs weren’t invented in the 16-bit era, but they definitely started to shine during this period of gaming, with titles such as Shining Force showing how the strong story and vibrant character designs of typical console RPGs could be combined with deep, tactical gameplay.
Canon: Legend of the New Gods (known as “Fenshen Yingjiezhuan” or “The Heroic Legend of God-Sealing” in the original Chinese) is another unlicensed Mega Drive release from Chuanpu; it was the company’s last release, as it happens. Originally released in 1996, it’s the company’s attempt to follow the success and popularity of titles such as the aforementioned Shining Force.
Rather than being pure fantasy, however, the game incorporates myths and legends from the time of the Shang dynasty (1766-1050 BC) — particularly the story of the emperor Zhou, his pursuit of a mortal woman whose beauty matched that of the goddess Nüwa, and his subsequent corruption by an evil fox spirit.
Canon: Legend of the New Gods is available now as part of the Piko Interactive Collection 1 cartridge for Evercade, or you can preorder the packaged Mega Drive version here.
Water Margin: A Tale of Clouds & Winds
Water Margin (known in the original Chinese as Shui Hu Feng Yun Zhuan) is a classic-style beat ’em up developed by the Taiwanese company Never Ending Soft Team, who often contributed to Chuanpu’s games. The game was originally released in 1996 and got a rerelease in 1999, and there’s also an arcade version from 1999 floating around.
The game is textbook “bootleg” — it makes use of modified sprites “borrowed” from other games such as Knights of the Round, Golden Axe and Streets of Rage, and has likewise pinched a few sound effects from here and there, too. Don’t let this put you off, though; Water Margin is a solid beat ’em up that is a lot of fun, and with three playable characters plus a finale that varies according to the difficulty level, there’s lots to enjoy here.
Water Margin is available now as part of the Piko Interactive Collection 1 cartridge for Evercade, or you can preorder the packaged Mega Drive version here.
Clan of Heroes: Generals of the Yang Family
Generals of the Yang Family is another beat ’em up, though the origins of this one are a little more unclear. It’s another game that was originally released as a bootleg title in Chinese — although given the number of bugs and gameplay issues, it’s possible that it may have been an unfinished prototype.
The game is once again based on Chinese myths, legends and folklore, and this time around offers four playable characters, each with their own distinctive fighting style to enjoy. As a member of the Yang family, it’s your job to push back the Lao dynasty and Wester Xia, both of whom are rather keen on taking over your lands. Fortunately, you have pointy things and fists with which to discourage them.
Piko Interactive picked up the rights to localise and publish the game here in the west, and have made a point of noting that as part of their localisation process, they went through and fixed the bugs and issues the original release of the game had — this means that the English version of the game should be the definitive way to experience this one.