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Old 03-19-2021, 02:10 PM   #52
Hateandhatred
"The Quebec Steparatist."
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Age: 30
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Default Re: March 2021: 31 days game review challenge



March 19th

Today's challenge is: “Not the best, but having fun.”

I thought I should play with the meaning of this theme a little. I'm pretty sure it should be “average game I enjoy”, but I decided to take it a little bit more literally. Therefore, today, I'm gonna talk about Psychic World (or Psycho World, if you're playing it on the MSX2), a great game that is mostly defined by not being “the best”, according to yours truly. I will cover all three versions of this rather obscure title in order to explain why I'm saying that.



First of all, all three versions of the game are the same at the core, but they're also all significantly different. It's essentially a Megaman clone (and even though I enjoy playing this more than playing Megaman, it is definitely not as good), where you play as a girl with latent psychokinesic powers unlocked with some cutting edge headband. As you play, you can unlock various powers and switch between them as you need to. You mainly have elemental powers (like fire, ice, sonic, etc) and some support powers (like levitation, teleportation and invincibility).

The girl in question is called Lucia, and she was the assistant of a certain Dr. Knavik along with her twin sister, Cecile. Cecile is kidnapped by some monsters, and Lucia sets out to rescue her. It turns out that this was all part of Dr. Knavik's plan, who mind controls Cecile to turn her against Lucia. After peacefully incapacitating her twin sister, Lucia is shocked to find out that Dr. Knavik actually is in alien (sounds familiar?) and unleashes all of her abilities in a furious rage, which is where the story concludes.



Now that this has been said, let's talk about all three versions, starting with the Game Gear as it was the first one I've played. This version probably has the best combo of storyline, sound and controls, however almost half of the levels are missing, and the game doesn't look super great. I don't know the reason behind this as the Game Gear is pretty much identical to the Master System in terms of hardware, except slightly better since it makes use of a better color palette. The psychic powers are lined up horizontally, which makes it easy to stop and pick which one you want. Plus, the game pauses while you switch powers, which seems obvious, but sadly the Master System version doesn't do that. The music and sound design are identical to the console version, and it's absolutely fantastic, which is rare by 8-bits SEGA standards. The whole storyboard cutscene set is there (but it's ugly). However, due to there being fewer levels, some of the game engine cutscenes are missing, which is a shame since those were more on the lighthearted side, which gave the game a lot of personality. The cover art also sucks dick, unless you get the Japanese version, which looks pretty cool. Another plus exclusive to this version is that it's dirt cheap.



The Master System version is probably the one with the best presentation and graphics overall, as all the cutscenes, be storyboard or game engine, are present. All the levels are there, with some being slightly different from the Game Gear version, mostly due to how that one would sometimes blend two levels together. This would be the best version of the game if it wasn't for the fact that the game doesn't pause while selecting your powers, which make some sections very frustrating design wise, such as when you're forced to switch back and forth on top of a conveyor belt that drops you to your death. Also, you really have to be a fan of the Tonka artwork, because that's what you'll get on the cover, but honestly it's one of the less kitsch ones they've done. You can get this one for several times the price of the Game Gear version, but still usually under 60 USD.



Lastly, you have the original version on the MSX2. I haven't played this one, and I sure as hell am never going to own it because like most of the games on the console, you have to expect paying over a grand to own it. The cover art is one of my favorite of all time, however, which is why I've used it on the grid above. In this version, the artwork and sound engineering are drastically different, and all the levels are designed differently, though I'd say the Game Gear and Master System versions were improvements on that end. There are no cutscenes made with the game's engine, but a few more with detailed pixel art. I still count this as a flaw, however. This version also has the best music of the bunch, and the final fight with the alien doctor is a lot better than it is in the other two versions. And thank god, you can pause while switching which powers you are using. I don't know how well the controls feel in this one as I've never even seen a MSX2 in real life, but I'd like to assume they at least function like the other versions, since they look to me like they would.

So, which one is the best? Honestly, you could go either way, there's no clear cut winner. They each have their own strenghts and issues, which is why I said this game was “defined” by never being the best. It's not the best when you compare it against Megaman, and it's not the best when you compare it to either other versions. If you want the best controls, you pick the Game Gear version. If you want the full experience, you go with the Master System version. And if you want the most advanced version, you go with the MSX2 version. If I'm picking myself, I'll give a tiny, TINY edge to the Master System version, because I'm able to ignore the power switching issues and because I'm a diehard fan of that console.



On a last note, the first I heard of this game was after skimming through my friend Phil's personal list of “Master System games to look out for” after he had looked through the console's library. I was pretty shocked when I checked it out, and I then made acquiring both the SEGA versions a top priority. As it stands, I rank it as the 2nd best Master System game, so it is really fucking good, and definitely not average. What is my #1 game on the console, you ask? I think you'll find out sooner than later...

As mentionned multiple times in today's post, the game is out on the MSX2, the SEGA Master System, and the SEGA Game Gear.

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