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Last Battle (Genesis) artwork

Last Battle (Genesis) review


"Aarzak is the confident sort of lone wolf hero, but not from bullheaded arrogance. Rather, he knows that he will win. How could he possibly know this? Because, before the game begins, Sega scrolls the entire plot — beginning, middle, and end! — across the screen. Because of Sega's omniscient benevolence, our mighty hero will never be caught unawares in his battle against the Tyrannical Triumvirate of G!"



It's a quiet night in the city. After the late show of Titanic, you and your young lover stroll down the darkened alleyway, blissfully ignorant of the city's recent rash of body-bursting murders. As you turn the corner, a burly man wearing a fearsome gimp mask steps forth, battle-axe brandished in his left hand.

"Give me all your money!" The Warlord-wannabe waves his axe slightly, clearly a wee bit nervous, but still very, very dangerous.

What do you do?

Would you hand over your money? Would you plead with him to spare your loved one from harm? Or would you try to grab the vagabond's axe and get yourself chopped square in the gut as a reward?

Those are certainly ways to "handle" such a harrowing situation. But those ways are for WEENIES, hardly the form of a manly hero! Mr. Robber walks up and pulls a battle-axe on you? Don't take the sissies' way out, handle it the brawny man's way! Grab your shirt with both hands and tear it apart, Hulk Hogan style, baring your mighty chest! Release a mighty "RRrraAAAAAaAAHHHHHhhh" -- the villain won't know how to cope!

As Aarzak, the megadeus marauder in Last Battle, would say -- and in fact does say --

"NOW YOU HAVE THE LOOK OF A HERO"


Sure Aarzak starts his adventure unheroically clothed, just punching and kicking the punks and goons in this Altered Beast style sidescroller, but beat down enough badnick butt (and believe you me, these Nicks are very Evil indeed) and Aarzak's clothing bursts apart from the sheer, enormous size of his protruding pecs!

The uber-muscularity doesn't really do much except impress the other overmuscled men (like Duke, who professes his undying respect for you as he dies). Aarzak punches faster and kicks faster once he strips, but that's enough to instill the necessary confidence for him to valiantly proclaim...

"I AM THE ONLY ONE WHO CAN SAVE THIS WORLD!"

Aarzak is the confident sort of lone wolf hero, but not from bullheaded arrogance. Rather, he knows that he will win. How could he possibly know this? Because, before the game begins, Sega scrolls the entire plot -- beginning, middle, and end! -- across the screen. You see, Aarzak has a girlfriend who will at some point be kidnapped by Garokk, Gromm, and Gross. But in the end, he rescues her. Also, one of the Three Great Villains is Aarzak's amnesiac brother. These could have made for interesting or unsettling plot developments, but because of Sega's omniscient benevolence, our mighty hero will never be caught unawares in his battle against the Tyrannical Triumvirate of G!

There's a problem with knowing the future before it happens. It makes life BORING. Trust me, I know. But if you think knowing the entire, lame plot upfront is dull, try playing the game.

Walk left to right, with not a single platform upon which to leap. Punch, kick, jumpkick -- there are only three attacks in the game! "Oh but what about when you get all powered-up and hunky?" you, or any other sane fellow, might ask. When that happens, you don't gain any new martial arts moves, but you get new, more muscular animations for your punch, kick, and jumpkick. Huzzah!

Fight through enough linear levels and you get to enter a special Labyrinth stage, with boxes to leap on and over, traps to be overcome, and secrets to be found! Yet, something (aside from David Bowie) is missing from this Labyrinth. ENEMIES. Yes, Last Battle finally adds some pseudo-platforming adventure to the action, but removes all sentient opponents from your path! So, these levels -- BY FAR the lengthiest in the game -- consist of jumping over boxes, punching arrows, punching boomerang axes, and avoiding falling pebbles. Most UNmighty!

And in further weirdness, a special high jump (hold down and jump) is enabled during the Labyrinth levels. But not during the rest of the game, when you might actually want to use it... say, to vault over rampaging Mad Max style motorbikers. No, you instead get to do to the insane cycle posse the exact same thing you do to everyone else: punch, kick, or jumpkick them.

But boy, when Aarzak punches or kicks someone, he does it in style! The punch itself is nothing too spectacular. The stylish part is how the enemy literally flies through the air and off the screen, carried into the stratosphere by the force of the rampaging vigilante's heroic blow! Aarzak 1, Mel Gibson 0.

But Mel Gibson got to use cool weapons like shotguns and he didn't ask silly questions like "WHAT SORT OF PLACE IS HELL?" Aarzak 1, Mel Gibson 2.

Last Battle unfortunately also can't match Mad Max's cinematic flair. The landscapes are certainly desolate, but not imaginatively so. There is much brown... grey... putrid green... washed-out blue-ish color... with cardboard cut-out enemies popping up (literally popping up -- as in, rising from the sandy ground or inexplicably raining down from the pale blue skies) every so often. These enemies will become quite familiar, for they've been cloned 700 times over! Fortunately, the numerous bosses and mid-bosses are more visually appealing. You will fight against a bright green version of Hulk Hogan named "Hulk" (!), a rotund grenadier nicknamed "The Butcher", and even a being who can create a mirror image of himself -- battles set in a style similar to Street Fighter 2. Except you can only punch, kick, and jumpkick. And you can't block their attacks. So, a lot of these special battles come down to a game of "stand reeeeeeeal close to the bad guy and jam on that punch button!"

Fortunately, the music is acceptable. It's nothing spectacular, but Sega opted for a traditional game melody style -- no faux saxophone like you'd find in Moonwalker, no raging Genesis guitar, and no twirling pedophiles. The result is a nice collection of songs that, while fairly typical, doesn't grate on your fragile ears.

Also of note is that Sega chose not to use the gwave-wising voices from Altered Beast, instead letting text bubbles do the speaking for the characters. The result is an often-hilarious assortment of nonsensical ramblings:

"WITHOUT BREAKING THE SEAL, I'M INVINCIBLE."
(soon followed by "THIS IS THE PLACE WHERE I DIE!"... spoken by the same character)

There's an invincibility code widespread on the 'net for Last Battle. Unfortunately, the code is a fake. If you want to cheat, you've got to unlock the legendary Seal of Codes with a GameShark or Game Genie. Otherwise, you're stuck doing things the hard... and slow... way. With all the mandatory labyrinth-trudging and punch/kick/punch/kick two-move battles, only the easily-amused folks shall find entertainment within!

//Zig

Rating: 4/10

zigfried's avatar
Staff review by Zigfried (March 17, 2005)

Zigfried likes writing about whales and angry seamen, and often does so at the local pub.

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