Online services like PSN, XBL and the Virtual Console have given many of us the opportunity to play classic titles from a variety of systems. These games may be titles that let us reminisce and bask in the nostalgia of games from decades past, or have new experiences with older games we have missed out on the first time around. Personally, the Virtual Console has allowed me to delve into the Sega Genesis library and experience Genesis titles beyond Sonic.
My favourite of these Genesis titles is M.U.S.H.A. The game is a pretty straight forward Bullet Hell Shoot ‘em Up. The story takes place in the year 2290 AD. The control system for a newly built space colony malfunctions and sends an army of robots to assault Earth. In response, a group of mech pilots attempt to stop the invasion and all are killed, save one. Players take control of the survivor, Terri, as she continues on her mission to stop the invasion.
M.U.S.H.A. was originally released in 1990, and was re-released in January 2009 on the Wii. The game that is wildly popular amongst Genesis collector and original cartridge can fetch around $100 online. Yet, I have hardly met anyone that has even heard of the game, much less professes any sort of love for it. I find that extremely surprising as it is one of the most enjoyable videogames I have ever played. Perhaps, the title is more well known an appreciated in Japan or was a bigger deal when it came out. Being three years old at the time of its release, I cannot known for certain, as I was far more enthralled with Super Mario.
Regardless of why the title has faded into obscurity over the past twenty years, the game is absolutely brilliant. M.U.S.H.A.’s production values are top notch. Despite the game coming out early in the Genesis’ life cycle, the visuals are some of the best I have seen on for system. The fast paced techno-rock fusion is easily one of the most enjoyable parts of M.U.S.H.A and is incredibly well suited to the action heavy, hectic battle atmosphere. Furthermore, the game is fun in a way that is hard to match with other games. I find it incredibly easy to pick this game up a few times a week and spend an hour on the couch having a run at beating the game. Because of this incredible accessibility I have probably spent more hours with this game than most people do with lengthy JRPGs.
If I were to have to say something negative about the game it would have to be the difficultly. Perhaps, this was just my inexperience with Bullet Hell titles, but when I started out, even set to easy, the game was challenging and took me quite a while to become comfortable with dodging oncoming fire and enemies, whilst gunning down everything that is thrown your way.
Collecting power ups for your weapons and putting your shield drones into certain formations depending on the situation becomes incredibly important as the games goes on. Precision can only go so far. Strategy is what will lead you to victory.Even though you have multiple lives at your disposal, when your mech is destroyed you start again from where you left off without a break in the action, and lose any upgraded weapons you might have previously ha. Going back to zero midway through the game starts an uphill struggle that is almost futile, but not impossible.
Truth be told, I am having to think quite a lot to explain this game, because the moment you truly become comfortable with M.U.S.H.A. is when you become so entirely relaxed, so transfixed and in tune with the rhythms that you do not even realize you are playing any longer. When I finish a game in either success or failure, it is like waking up from a haze where my conscious mind has been turned off or away in an entirely different place and only my reflexes and physical body have been responding to stimuli.
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