I've been playing a few Megadrive games lately and was really struck by how some of the later titles squeezed all kinds of effects and graphical tricks out of the system.
This got me wondering to see what other console games managed to pull off these little tricks, whether it be graphics, sound or other innovations. Perhaps other people could suggest some games like this that we could dig out to see as examples of what can be done with a system?
Megadrive - Mickey Mania
Castle and World of Illusion were already renowned for their great graphics and atmoshperic gameplay but this late MD title managed to improve on this even further - each level was based on one famous Mickey cartoon, but also contained many graphical touches such as a black and white film effect on the first level, mock rotation/scaling and many huge and detailed sprites that only appear once or twice in the game.
Megadrive - Dynamite Headdy
(check out this bonkers boss)
I imagine this is the daddy of games that show how far the megadrive can be pushed.. for me, the main beauty of this game is the sheer number of sprites designed for one use - almost every enemy only turns up once in the game, and for me this shows an incredible amount of effort and attention to detail. The speech samples are crisp, the backgrounds are complex and multi-layered and the bosses are constantly surprising.. there's even some very impressive mock rotation later on in the game, which simulates the whole playfield being rotated, and headdy flung into the background of the scene.
Megadrive - Gunstar Heroes
(full gameplay video!)
Again this is another well-renowned game - i remember seeing a couple of big platforms tilting and wobbling when it first came out, thinking 'the megadrive can't do *that*!' - but it could, thanks to the genius progammers at Treasure
..incidentally, I don't think it's a coincidence that two of the above games are by Treasure - I gather that many of their games were particularly impressive in this way?
C64 - Creatures 2
Again, a late-period C64 game, but this doesn't look like a C64 title at a glance.. Apex managed to fit in a cinematic introduction, massive variety of gameplay, tons of one-use-only sprites, relatively pain-free multiload and richly layered, catchy music. The programmers also used a graphical trick to make the C64 appear to display more colours than it actually could - and if that isn't attention to detail, I don't know what is! Did anyone do more with a C64?
PS2 - Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
Where do I start? The sheer scope of this game is incredible. Even after playing GTA4, I found myself wanting to go back to San Andreas, because it was a much bigger and more ambitious game. From the three large cities, through the hick country towns via the air force base, jump jets, airpacks and the mountainous terrain, I cannot imagine how you could pack more into a PS2 game. All we need is a PS3 remake and I reckon I'd have my ideal GTA fix.
So, can anyone else nominate their favourite games that managed to do that bit more with the system they appeared on? I'll look forward to tracking them down to see just how far a console can be pushed.