Monday 2 January 2017

Golgo 13 (Sega SG-1000 review)

Developer: Sega
Publisher: Sega
Released: 1984

Golgo 13 is a shoot-em-up that's exclusive to the SG-1000 console.

You play as Duke Togo and your mission in each round is to free passengers by shooting all the windows of a moving train. To make things trickier, vehicles and cargo trailers block your path and accidentally shooting one ricochets the bullet back in your direction; if it hits you, your car blows up and you lose one of your three lives. The action is challenging but it's good arcade fun and the constant battle between aggressively firing and knowing when to refrain is a great hook. Trying to beat your previous high score is addictive, especially as it feels very much like a carnival type game where you shoot targets to win prizes! The controls are super tight and despite the fast-paced action there's never a time when they let you down. Your accuracy isn't always rewarded though and shots that clearly hit the target sometimes fail to register. The train can also move partially out of view and it's frustrating when the clock is ticking down with only one window left and no way to shoot it. While the opening stage is easy, the difficulty quickly ramps up; for example, in Round 2 another lane of traffic appears closer to the screen and vehicles appear thick and fast. Round 3 adds more depth and multitasking features by introducing helicopters that launch bombs at your car; the choppers can be shot but so too can the bombs if you're brave enough to head into the line of fire! Unfortunately the game falters after the first three rounds as no other gameplay mechanics are introduced; there aren't even any bonus rounds or diversions to break up the repetitive action and to give you an opportunity to earn extra lives.
Golgo 13 is an entertaining shoot-em-up but the overall package is so 'content anaemic' that there's little reason to stick around after you've seen the first three rounds. While it's definitely worth playing for a short period of time it's not something you'll find yourself returning to very often.
Random trivia: The next game in the franchise was called Golgo 13: Top Secret Episode (1988, NES).

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