The GoodLast Battle has been criticized throughout the gaming world since its release way back in 1989, but due to impressive graphics for its time (it was one of the Genesis' earliest titles) and because it looked more than playable, I picked it up a while ago for a few dollars and thought that I could get some enjoyment out of it. Looking back on that decision, it was probably a mistake.
However, there are a few things to like about this infamous title. It really does look impressive, being one of the first games available on the Genesis. Character sprites are unbelievably large for the time, and the environments probably couldn't be much more detailed for such an early title. The one drawback is the stiff and unrealistic movement of Aarzak (the game's main character) and his enemies, but this doesn't hold the game back too much.The game is decent aurally as well. Sound effects are acceptable for an early Genesis game, and there is also some catchy music to be heard.
The BadBut, as we all know, playability is what matters most in a game, and Last Battle is broken in that context. Everything seems okay at first. In the main stages of the game, Aarzak (the game's main character) moves across the screen doing little more than horizontally moving across the screen while punching and kicking the daylights out of his enemies. Repetitive, but it works. There is also the occasional labyrinth stage, which also contains some platforming elements, and boss stage, with one boss to fight using your superior martial arts skills. There are also multiple paths towards finishing the game, which adds depth.
However, you only have one life to work with in this game. Sure, you can regain health and increase your power level (which controls the strength of your attacks) but if you lose all of your health at any time, you'll need to restart the game from the first level. This poses a problem, since LB is fairly long and difficult. It contains four chapters that each hold many levels, the core gameplay can get very repetitive before long, especially when some levels are exceedingly challenging and you'll have to beat the game in one sitting. I don't know about anyone else, but if I died fighting the final boss while needing only one more punch to finish him off, I would seriously get a hammer and demolish the game cartridge into a million pieces rather than try beating it again.
Speaking of bosses, LB's boss fights are a chore to play through. The game's bosses are basically just regular enemies that take more than one hit to defeat and have stronger attacks. Many of the bosses' attacks can drain a lot of health and are hard to avoid, since Aarzak cannot jump very high (making it difficult to jump over bosses) and crouching does not usually help.
Also, the game's story is ridiculous. I really don't care about storylines in a game such as this, but a master of the bogus martial art known as "Jet-Kwon-Do", Aarzak (the main character of the game, as mentioned earlier) decides to, according to the back of the game's case, "free his people from a life of oppression". This is explained in unnecessary detail during the game's intro. But it doesn't end there. An acquaintance of Aarzak's lies at the end of every stage, setting the stage for Aarzak and the acquaintance to engage in plain dumb conversation. Case in point: After completing the game's first stage, Aarzak meets his good friend Max. Max explains that he "wants Aarzak to meet (another friend) Alyssa". Aarzak's nonsensical reply: "Now you have the look of a hero!"
The Bottom LineLast Battle deserves the heaps of criticism it has obtained over the years. Excellent graphics, passable sound and a potentially good gameplay concept were ruined by the gameplay's many weak spots, and the game was doomed even further due to its terrible storyline. In one word, the game is broken.