The Sega Genesis Challenge – Ranger X

Delving back into shooter territory I was really excited to try this game out. I mean, come on, you get to fly a mech. How much sweeter can a game get? And look, it says right on the cover that you really need to use the 6 button arcade pad. I mean really. No seriously. You will suck and probably fail without it. Good thing I was prepared. Or so I thought.

Ok, so the premise is you are Ranger X, a mysterious lone warrior who has risen from the ashes of a failed society to restore peace, justice, and the American way. Well, peace and justice at least. There are 8 levels with a large, screen filling mechanical boss at the end of each level. The post-apocalyptic atmosphere is very evident with the art style for the backdrops and environments. Music was pretty standard shooter fare and didn’t really stick out to me all that much.

Before I go any further, I have to talk about the controls. Man I wish I had the manual for this game. Ok, A, B, C control the main unit, the mech and allow you to fire a standard, blue bullet shot, a flame thrower special weapon, and to switch the direction you are facing. The X, Y, Z buttons control the movement left or right as well as the direction of the little motorcycle on the ground. You can land on top of the motorcycle and press down to merge with it forming some strange hybrid that does more ground damage. The motorcycle travels along with you and will shoot as long as you are shooting. Like I said, you can also control it independently with the X, Y, Z buttons and since it is indestructible this may be a great way to get past some pesky ground targets.

The D-pad controls your movement which is very touchy. Your jet pack only fires in short bursts so it is nearly impossible to hover or maintain an altitude. You are constantly going to be going up and down which can make aiming a bit of a challenge. Your motorcycle of course is limited to ground travel and only fires in a horizontal path.

Each level has a number of targets that you have to destroy before moving to the level boss. The number and location of the targets is shown in the crude HUD in the top center of the screen. Destroying the mobile enemies makes it easier to destroy your “mission targets” but is not necessary.

All told the game is really fun, once you get the controls down. Controlling both the mech and the motorcycle is going to be essential to beat the game I imagine so having to get used to that dual control scheme is a necessary skill. The learning curve on this game is a bit steeper than normal, but I think it will really be worth it once you get into the swing of things. The dual vehicle control is really innovative and adds a deeper level of strategy to the game that you don’t usually see. If you are a fan of shmups then I highly recommend this game. If not, you may want to try it anyways but it may not be as enjoyable.