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Gain Ground SX

version: jp - year: 1992 - developer: bits laboratory - publisher: nec - format: pc engine, cdrom - condition: mint - rarity: hard to find


It is always better to face bosses with nimble characters to be able to slalom through enemy fire.


The viking uses a crossbow and can hit high targets. He has the perfect balance between strength, speed and versatility.


Beware of popping sand worms!


The ninja is armed with an exceedingly powerful 6-way rocket launcher but he is very slow


A tribes-man in the distant future? Gain Ground SX appeal is also given by these kitsch combinations :)


Take out the wall-mounted guns with grenades. Just make sure the character you pick can throw them side-ways!


The last boss is hard. If he wipes out your entire army, it's game over! Instead, use fast warriors to avoid homing missiles (you can't destroy them). Hint: If time runs out and you still have someone left in your party, you'll be able to continue with the standard trio. Adopt a conservative playing style, don't take too many risks and you'll be fine...


...and you'll be able to see the ending!

Review - Ever felt like being in control of an army and take on various distant and exotic lands while travelling through Time?

If the answer is yes, then you should keep on reading and you'll be surprised! The goal of the game is to clear 4 worlds split into 10 stages each to get to the final confrontation (yes, that makes 40 levels!!).

To clear a stage, you'll either be required to shoot all enemies on screen or to get to the exit sign, you and all of your party. You initially start out with three characters:

• a tribe man armed with a spear which can hit enemies behind barriers or over roofs

• a pretty fast soldier armed with a gun

• a slow female soldier armed with a gun and grenades which can hit enemies positioned over walls or roofs

Luckily, every so often, you'll come across stranded characters. To add them to your army, take them to safety through the exit. All characters brought through the exit cannot be used a second time to clear up a level. Sometimes, it will happen that you won't have the right character in your party to kill certain enemies so the only thing left will be to hurry up and try to get each and every character in your possession to the exit. Failing to do so will result in a time up screen and you'll be taken to the next stage only with the characters you managed to bring to the exit! This certainly adds a lot of drama to the action, as my army got nearly wiped out a couple of times because I miscalculated the type of threat I had to deal with.

Before a stage starts, you'll be able to briefly see it scroll down so that you can rapidly assess what kind of soldier you'll need to successfully go through it. Each character has its own abilities, strengths and weaknesses and it is fundamental to learn your characters quickly if you want to make steady progress.

Unfortunately, it often happens that you won't even have the time to realize the specific skills of newly acquired characters just because maybe you'll run out of time and you won't be able to even try them!

As you probably understood by now, Gain Ground SX can't be played mindlessly like a regular shooter because you'll get incinerated in an eye-blink. Instead, try to think fast and take quick decisions based on the knowledge you acquire on your armies' skill-set, on the nature of the terrain and on the enemy threat.

The best way the describe this game would be to call it an action-strategy game with a heavy over-head shooter element. It isn't a fast-paced shooter because you are actually in control of the scrolling (it is not “forced” like in Undead Line for instance), but it still can be pretty hectic in places.

Gain Ground was originally released in the arcades in 1988 by SEGA and then it was ported to Sega Master System, Mega Drive , PC Engine and it even spawned a PS2 3D remake in the Sega Ages 2500 series. Apparently, the PCE Engine port is one of the best but I don't know how different it is from the original arcade game.

Anyways, Gain Ground SX is graphically convincing. Sprites are well drawn, backgrounds are colourful and varied, the scrolling is smooth so I would say the game looks overall pleasant.

Add to the convincing visuals a memorable classic-symphonic score, appropriate sound effects and responsive controls and what you get is one of the most original and better executed games on the PCE.

It really is a little classic in it own right. Remember when games used to be more fun? Gain Ground SX belongs to that time and if you have an even remote interest in old-school video-games, this is an adventure which is well worth revisiting.

Bottom line: If you are tired of traditional shooters, you should consider playing Gain Ground SX as it hits the perfect balance between strategy and action, like no other game.....8/10











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