Thursday, November 6, 2014

Grindhouse Double Feature: GG Aleste (Sega Game Gear, 1991 and 1993)

It's Day Two of Shooter Week. Time for Compile's next major followup to Zanac. The original Aleste was a Sega Master System game, called Power Strike in the U.S.

It was ported to the MSX, Mega Drive, and Game Gear, and the ports later got a sequel. Out of all of these potential options, I chose to play the Game Gear versions simply because they were the easiest to emulate get ahold of.

These are, of course, the predecessors to Super Aleste, known in the West as the rad Space Megaforce the first Game Gear title that I've ever played all the way through. When I was a kid, I wanted a Game Gear for a while. Or an Atari Lynx (remember those?). The Game Boy was just and white. Course, I ended up going with Nintendo's handheld because it had THE GAMES. And it was enriched by Nintendo Power.

 The androgynous hero. Look at him/her go!

The game begins! ...with some very 80's Sega "futuristic" backgrounds. It sorta looks like the original Phantasy Star.

There are a number of special weapons in this game, including a semi-equivalent of Circle. Awesome. I gimped my way through Zanac with that weapon, hopefully I can do the same here.

Much like Zanac, the regular blaster and special weapons are separate from each other. However, in this game they're mapped to the same button. Makes a lot more sense. Space Megaforce would do away with the blaster altogether and just embiggen the special weapons to a more "primary weapon" stature.

This game isn't much to look at, but it's a very nice little portable shooter. One thing that I REALLY like about it is that the backgrounds and the shots usually completely clash with one another color-wise. As a result, you can always see enemy shots coming, and it's much easier to stay alive. They don't creep up on you like the microscopic pellet-shots of so many other shooters, and the backgrounds don't mess with your vision like Zanac. Just improvements across the board.

 There are a bunch of special weapons in this game. While I stuck with the Circle, there are also homing missiles... and a few lesser weapons. Space Megaforce continues the trend of having the Circle and homing missiles be the best weapons, but it also makes a number of other weapons more useful. You can really see the progression between games when you look at the weapon arsenals.

Most of the bosses in this game are giant computer-eyes surrounded by gun pods. It's similar to Zanac, just more visually impressive.

 The endgame has a series of fights against this bio-mechanical horror.

This game was really easy to beat, except for this fight. The reason for that? Those little horizontal lasers. Unlike all of the other projectiles in the game, they don't clash with the background. Also, they come at you from the sides without warning, while every other projectile came from the top down. This caught me off guard and caused a number of deaths during the finale.

 The final boss is this creepy CPU-head that, again, looks like something out of Phantasy Star. At least she seems pleasant...


 The game concludes, and our hero gets some well-deserved rest back on Earth. Let's check out the sequel.

 GG Aleste II was renamed Power Strike II in the west. Much like Nemesis 2, which I'll cover shortly, it's much more difficult than its predecessor.

The game begins with... I think that's a spaceship getting attacked by giant organisms that fuse with it, or something.

This is more of the same, with a blaster that you can power up as well as special weapons. This time, shots are blue instead of red.

There's some impressive sprite-work for a portable in 1993.

Every so often, you cut away to these weird bonus stages where you fire at vaguely three-dimensional targets for points. It's hard to tell what's going on, and Starfox it ain't.

This game is much more difficult than the previous for one specific reason: The boss fights. These bosses take MASSIVE amounts of damage to bring down, to the point of obnoxiousness. Not since Contra: Hard Corps have I found myself going "WHEN WILL THIS FIGHT END" so often. Some of these bosses take over a thousand hits.

This game's version of the Circle turns the energy orbs into gun pods. They still take out foes and block shots, but they also fire lasers. Very cool.

Whoa, massive mech. This is impressive sprite-work for a portable in 1993. This boss, again, takes ages to defeat.

After a while, I obtain what I think is the most powerful level of blaster. These big blue lasers are fun to look at, and I like this more than the weird-looking red "lasers" in the previous game.

While I find this game slightly better than the previous overall, it loses some luster from the fact that bosses have so damn much health. This bizarre boss took so long to defeat that I legitimately began to think the game was glitched.

Defeat it, and you go right to the final boss, a significantly creepier head than the previous final boss. This one also, you guessed it, takes forever to defeat even with the maxed-out blaster. Seriously irritating, especially considering you yourself can only take a couple of hits.

The game ends, and... wait, what the hell? The pilot was a woman the entire time! That's really awesome and progressive, Aleste II. It almost makes up for the box art of the original game's soundtrack:

"My Hero!!"

Other Posts That I Mentioned Here:

Contra: Hard Corps

Space Megaforce

Shooter Week


  1. How consistent is the art skill/style? Like you said, some of the sprite work looks really impressive, but in the bonus stage if it weren't for your ship it looks like borderline NES/Atari.

    1. It definitely looks primitive overall. The boss sprites are head and shoulders above everything else. Primitive or not, I give these games a pass for their usage of clashing colors. It makes a world of difference in a shooter if you can see enemy shots clearly.

  2. That guy on the soundtrack cover didn't do dick!

  3. It's fun to emulate this and have a Game Geary frame. Reminds me of Super Game Boy. These games have good colors, and the best part is they don't eat up batteries too quickly on the compy. I reaally like how progressive they are with their main characters and manliness, a far cry from the Whiskery Tough Guys that are everywhere today.

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