Platform: Sega Genesis
No. of Players: 1 player
Released: 1989 (Japan)
By: Rob (Dire51)
I remember seeing pictures of Curse in EGM around 1990. According to them, it was slated for release in the U.S. from the INTV Corporation that year. They had even reviewed the game in anticipation of its release. Sega themselves even ran an ad for it - it was sandwiched in an ad they had that year showing off their new licensees and the games they were developing for the Genesis. I was looking forward to playing the game after reading about it.
A funny thing happened, though. Curse seemingly vanished from the face of the planet. It never showed up on store shelves, nothing else was ever mentioned about it in any game magazines that I can recall... in short, it was like it had never existed at all.
Of course, that really wasn't the case. Curse was released in Japan for the Mega Drive. However, the U.S. release obviously fell through... and I never did find out what happened to the INTV Corporation, the company that was supposed to release it here. Nothing was ever released by them, it seems. Curse was supposed to be their first game, but when they vanished, so did the game.
I finally located a copy of Curse for sale, after all these years. The price was right, so I snapped it up. Finally, twelve years after I first saw the game, I was able to play it. I have to admit, it's a little different than I thought it was going to be...
Curse is a side scrolling shooter. It bears a resemblance to a lot of other shooters - R-Type, Whip Rush and Psychosis in particular. It's not hard to see elements from all three of those shooters in Curse. The execution, though, turns what could have been a great (if short) shooter into an average one.
For starters, the animation is substandard. Compared to some of the other side scrolling shooters released the same year - most notably Thunder Force III - Curse falls very short. The backgrounds, while detailed, have choppy scrolling. This isn't noticeable in some of the levels, but really stands out in others. The cave level comes to mind in particular. The animation of the ship's standard bullets is almost nonexistent. You're firing more rounds than you realize (not a bad thing), but the animation just makes it look completely unrealistic. I've seen this kind of animation referred to as "jerk-and-flitter syndrome" before, which is a pretty good description of it.
Secondly, the ship just moves too slowly at first. It's not sluggish to the point of being a flying cinder block, but it could have used a variable-speed option. Instead, like R-Type, you have to pick up speed capsules (that's one of the only things I didn't like about R-Type, either). It's not a major problem, but it's one I've never liked.
Third, the game gets really cheap on you in the last level. In the first four levels, when your ship is destroyed, you start back at the exact spot you left off. In the last level, when the ship is destroyed, you get sent back to the beginning. Scattered throughout the level there are weapons that can rip through your fully powered shield and destroy your ship, which doesn't make it any easier.
Those points aside, Curse is oddly addicting. The action is fast most of the time. The weapon selection, although not large, is quite good (my favorite weapon would have to be the "crystal cluster" explosive - you shoot out a crystal that explodes, sending fragments flying everywhere. It's kind of like the weapon that the Chenjesu Broodhome has in the game Star Control). Your ship can also take three hits before it's destroyed, thanks to the shield that surrounds it - and power ups to replenish your shield can be easily found. Curse is pretty generous with giving out extra lives, too - which is a plus. The graphics are fairly detailed (and VERY reminiscent of Psychosis, especially in the first stage), although not up to the standards of some of the other games of that time.
Audio-wise, I love the game. The music is really good and the sound effects are very reminiscent of the sfx from the Thunder Force games. I'm glad the game has a sound test (accessible only by holding button A and pressing start at the title screen)... It's nice to be able to hear the music without all the sound effects going on at the same time.
The question, of course - is Curse worth hunting down? To most of you, I'd say no. There are many, many better shooters out there for the Mega Drive. However, if you've played most of the shooters that you can find and want to try a new one, and the price is right - then why not?
Originally posted at OPCFG.com.