Sega Master System / Mark III / Game Gear
How many coin-ops are left for Sega to convert onto console? Now the arcade machine S.D.I has undertaken the conversion and changed its name in the process. Global Defense is based on Ronald Reagan's concept of space-based defensive weapons destroying incoming enemy nuclear missiles. A subject not without controversy, but nevertheless a fitting subject for an arcade game.
The time is the future, the Earth is protected by orbiting stations, and someone has pushed the button. Nuclear missiles have been launched and it is now do-or-die time, Global Defense is split into two stages, the offensive and defensive half, Starting on the offence, the screen scrolls from right to left as your battle satellite roams through space. Enemy nuclear missiles enter stage right on the first screen and, unless destroyed, carry on to re-enter the atmosphere and fry your country's cities. A indicator along the bottom of the screen shows the damage caused by warheads getting through; if the indicator fills up completely, it's goodbye Amenca.
Apart from the missiles themselves, the opposition takes the form of kamikaze killer satellites, space fighters zooming around in various formations and enemy battle bases hovering in space firing laser bolts at your lone craft. The missiles pass through the player without causing damage, but contact with anything else is fatal. Help is provided in the form of allied satellites which, when collected, offer up extras such as a faster-moving gunsight, faster rate of fire and a futuristic first-aid kit which neutralises any damage caused by the nukes.
Make it through the offensive half and a shuttle comes into view to retrieve your satellite, whereupon points are allocated based on the percentage of missiles, aliens, bases and fighters destroyed (with bonus points awarded for achieving 100% destruction). After this, it's on to the defensive stage where the Motherland lies thousands of miles below and the enemy missiles are coming over the horizon. The warheads start as dots and grow larger with their heat shields glowing as they re-enter the atmosphere. Destroy them before they hit their targets and, as their flight time is only a matter of seconds, each shot must count. Not the easiest of tasks when they fly over en masse, and on later levels it is even worse as they split up into smaller, just as lethal, re-entry vehicles.
Survive this, and once again points are awarded based on the total percentage of hits (including a defence rating based on the number of warheads which got through) before the next offensive half begins. As the player progresses through the later levels. the missiles change their flight patterns (changing between horizontal and vertical flight), the enemy fighters become more aggressive, more missiles appear in the defensive half and the backdrops get even more impressive graphically.
Like the coin-op. the console game uses two fire buttons to control the satellite. One button to fire deflection shots at targets and move the gunsight (as in Missile Command) and the other to move the satellite around the screen. What makes it tricky is that both actions can't be performed at the same time. Unlike the coin-op, only one player is allowed on the screen at any one time, an omission that plagued Alien Syndrome (see Issue Four of THE GAMES MACHINE). As a result, without the dual player facility the console version is slightly tougher than the coin-op, but the appeal and payability of the original is still there
Mega Cartridge: £19.95
On a single One Mega Cartridge, Global Defense manages to put big name coin-op conversions like Afterburner on Two Mega cartridges to shame. A very close version indeed with some wonderful backdrops (getting even better on the later levels) which really show what the Sega is capable of when the programmers put their minds to it. Much of the coin-op's payability has been captured and each level is faithfully recreated both graphically and in general gameplay. Where the game loses out is in the sound (which is nothing special) and the lack of twin-player action. It's mystifying that Sega should have problems with converting dual player games. This aside, Global Defense is a great game, one of the closest coin-op conversions yet, and hopefully the forerunner of even better console games.