3 Difficulty levels
Ship speed by icons
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Developed by Capcom
Reprogrammed and published by Sega in 1991
The apocalyptic setting of Forgotten Worlds, as devised in the arcade game, was certainly too much for the Master System to handle. As Sega took it and reworked graphics and music to fit its 8-bit platform, concessions were made and the original nine stages were condensed in five. It wasn’t just a matter of downscaling the material though, since one of these five stages is a brand-new underwater-themed area, complete with a new crab boss. Nothing extraordinarily fancy, but if you’re the kind of player who likes to compare versions and try them all because they have exclusive material, feel free to put this one in your checklist of ports to be experienced.
As expected, this adaptation got away with the ability to play in co-op. Now it’s just one lone nameless flying warrior fighting against the threat of emperor Bios, a winged man who slaves a world that time forgot. In your quest to rid the planet from evil you’ll be travelling through a junkyard, a barren wasteland, an Egyptian temple, an underwater passage and the ultimate tower of doom from where Bios exerts his dirty deeds. It’s a short game, but it’s got no continues and it still demands a bit of strategy to be properly learned and played. Downgrades notwithstanding, Forgotten Worlds for the Master System can actually be considered a relatively faithful port.
First stage of Forgotten Worlds on Easy
(courtesy of YouTube user sylesis)
(courtesy of YouTube user sylesis)
Since the Master System controller has only two buttons, both of them are used to rotate the character (each one in a different direction). In an awkward little twist for a shooting game, the very act of shooting occurs automatically so you don’t need to worry about it at all. The constant firing doesn’t get in the way of the gameplay, with the exception of the gas pipe area at the end of the 1st stage and the splitting pathways of the 3rd stage, where it would certainly be good to refrain from shooting. You can either get a gas blow in your face by hitting the pipes or choose the wrong path inside the pyramid. The satellite - that thing that surrounds the character as you rotate the aim - provides protection against incoming bullets and also fires a powerful special weapon. Last but not least, a “mega crush” can be triggered by pressing both buttons at once, quickly oblitering all enemies and bullets on screen at the cost of a little health.
In Forgotten Worlds there’s only a single power bar as life meter, therefore preserving power/health is extremely important to not bite the dust and have to start all over again. By entering the shop in every level you are allowed to purchase several types of upgrades, depending on how much money you have collected up to that point. “Zenny” is the official currency and consists of those blue spheres left behind by some types of enemies, and the good news is that this port is rather generous in money: you never feel that you need to be stingy when going into the shop, unlike in the arcade original where Zenny was as precious as fuel for Max Rockatansky. Besides, there's no time limit for when you're shopping. Note that the last stage has two shops, one in the ground and another in the vertically scrolling section of the tower.
Of all items available inside the shop, the most important ones are the flying stone (to change the sluggish starting speed of the character / buy only once), the power packs (increase the power gauge), the two types of boosters (they upgrade firing strength), the life potion (resurrects the player upon death) and the aqua stone (available only in the underwater level / improves your maneuverability and makes it actually possible to do something). Only one type of satellite is allowed at any time, so you need to choose carefully when trading your current sattellite in for another from the shop. The satellite gallery isn't as rich as in the arcade version, but there are a few exclusive satellites to try here. One of my favorites in this version is the 4-way laser, which is great to deal with the turrets from the last stage.
Purchasing items like the protector armor becomes unnecessary when you get more comfortable with the game. By shooting at certain locations you uncover hidden items for immediate taking, such as these armors and others like a star (extra points), a yasichi (full health) and a Pow sign that refills most of the power gauge. Because the armor item is so small and may go unnoticed, you need to pay attention or you'll miss it.
My choices of satellite purchases in the shop were guided missiles in the first level, fire bomb (a.k.a. napalm) in the second level, burner (flamethrower) for the third and fourth levels and 4-way laser in the final stage. The enemy gallery preserves the most iconic creatures like the lizardmen, the snakes, the turrets, the Egyptians, the flying heads, etc. Some of the larger foes, such as the ice boss, were downranked to just a few ice minions that precede the entry to the tower leading to the final boss. The action is relatively slow, but if you choose to play with the super high speed flying stone the flow of the game gets a lot better. I did get stuck in parts of the scenery and lost health unfairly a couple of times, so it's good practice to avoid going into the gaps in walls an such. Normally you don't lose any energy by leaning against the scenery.
Forgotten Worlds for the Master System was only released is Europe and Brazil. Knowing its arcade origins is probably what attracts most people to the game, but it's not a bad title at all by Master System standards. Flicker is minimal, as well as slowdown. It's reasonably fun but a little on the easy side once you get used to the controls. It even includes the famous cut scenes showing the nameless warrior before each stage starts. Would the game be better if these were left out in favor of more actual gameplay, I wonder? We'll never know!
Below is my final 1CC score on Normal. Tip: save a little money for the last stage and buy the item named “dress” if you want to get an even higher score upon completing the game.