28 May 1993


By mid-1993, the Mega Drive's massive worldwide popularity was causing the format to be swamped with poor productions. In Japan, the machine may have been entering its dying throes, in the West botch-job hollywood tie-ins and generic celebrity-endorsed sport simulators were dominating the billboards and sales charts, effortlessly capturing the minds and wallets of the popular videogaming world.
Fortunately today most of these are long forgotten - but they remain an important factor in game history, for they caused dozens of fantastic titles to slip by virtually un-noticed. Ex-Ranza was one of those titles.
Released as 'Ranger-X' in the West, what we have here is an extraordinarily smooth arcade / action game developed by Gau Entertainment, featuring a gangly solar-powered robot who must negotiate its way through a selection of superbly presented arcade-style stages. This robot can briefly fly by holding the jump button, and use numerous sub-weapons that can be recharged by finding sunlight.
These fascinating features even further enhanced by the presence of an accompanying scooter (or airship) with which it can dock: this vehicle not only serves as storage for the various sub-weapons, but also as an offensive alternative, since it has an energy reserve of its own.
It's a fascinating game system for sure. The sheer amount of features, maneuvers and strategies is confusing at first, yet perfectly balanced: the gameplay rapidly becomes easily manageable, and perfectly varied. Every stage caters to the gameplay: certain foes can only be eliminated with a certain sub-weapon, some stages have very little sunlight etc.
Ex-Ranza does the 'mech' genre complete justice. The greatest advantage of placing a robot as a player interface is that it can present numerous advantages in terms of gameplay, not to mention the fact that games are far more mechanic than organic in the first place. As a result of this controlling of a stiff, robotic character can feel a lot more 'natural' in this kind of environment. All it takes is a few minutes to get your head around the meticulous 6-button controls, then the game becomes a real joy to play: the controls, environments, background music, and overall atmosphere marry in perfect harmony.
One of the best Mega Drive titles by far, and a true highlight of the period.



Format Mega Drive
Released 28 May 1993
Publisher Sega
Product ID G-4097
Size (cm) 17.8 x 12.8 x 2.5
Weight (kg) 0.18
A superb arcade action title, both technically and creatively.
Compatible (and best enjoyed) with the Mega Drive 6B Pad [SJ-6000].

Standard MD case, 8Mbit cartridge, 18-page colour booklet.


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