The next few posts are going to take a look at some of the games released in Sega Card format. When the Master System was first released back in October 1986, Sega had the idea of using two types of media, the standard cartridges and credit card-sized plastic cards that didn’t contain as much code as the carts but would be sold for less. The fact that only around 10 titles were released as Sega Cards should give you an idea on how successful that idea was, espeically considering those titles were later rereleased as standard cartridges. Not to mention their box art was even lamer than the cartridges as it consisted of some guy’s hand holding the card itself, which itself used a clipart image as a label.
In any case the pic in the header of a mohawked thug getting punched might suggest a beat-em-up and that’s exactly what we get here, a port of a slightly off-kilter arcade brawler from Coreland that had some unusual features to it, none of which you find here. One day you’re walking in a park with your best girl when a punk (known by his nickname Mohikan) runs up, punches you down and grabs your woman then takes off with her. After getting over the embarassment of letting that happen, you (and a second player taking turns) embark on a mission to get her back. In each of the levels you battle wave after wave of lowlifes and you have a few moves to send them flying including several types of punches and kicks (which are chosen in tandem with the D-pad and Button 2) as well as a jump kick. Some of the thugs weld weapons you have to dodge such as bottles, knives and bombs, though if you’re quick you can kick the bottles back at your foes to take them out. There are also obstacles to be avoided including spiked balls, bombs, flames, and others, not to mention killer animals such as bulldogs, hogs and even bullet-shooting frogs. If you can reach the end of the stage you must do battle with Mohikan himself in a one-on-one showdown on the beach, where you try to be the first to inflict the most hits while your foe tries to do the same. If you’re successful in hitting him enough times you rescue your girl … just before she’s snatched away again. And therefore you’ll have to rescue her all over again on the next stage, and the one after that.
Unfortuantley this game turns out to be as unheroic as can be. The game gets very monotonus as all you’re doing for the most part is jump kicking the same wave of thugs over and over, and the stiff controls aren’t much either, especially in the sections that require some platforming prowess. Graphics-wise the sprites are decent enough with some okay detail but the backgrounds are pretty ugly with a lot of green used, even for the sky. While the arcade version at least had three levels to cycle through, this port only includes the first level and you essentially play through it over and over, with the same sprites and platforms trying to act out the other two arcade scenes (each of which had surreal settings that added to the original’s weirdness) that were cut out to fit it on the card format. The sound consists of so-so effects and one main background tune that quickly gets on your nerves.
The biggest sticking point is the sky-high difficulty level. One hit will kill you instantly, even if the thugs just barely touch you, plus the enemies can easily overwhelm you and always seem to get in the first shot. The obstacles are also a pain as they’re very annoying to navigate and leave you little to no room for error, and once you perish you start a few steps back, forcing you to repeat the obstacles you struggled to clear in the first place. Finally if you lose all your lives it’s back to the beginning with no continues, but at the same time this game has no ending; the three stages just cycle over and over, meaning you never get the final satisfaction of saving your girl for good, which is pretty demoralizing when you think about it.
So anyway you slice it My Hero is a complete dud of a brawler, and a good example of why the Sega Card format was doomed to fail. Repetitive and frustrating gameplay, ugly graphics, stiff controls, there is just nothing redeeming about this title, especially since better beat-em-ups are out there for the SMS, reducing this hero to a forgotten zero.