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When I started Rerez I really wanted to bring back a bunch of classic games from my youth and reintroduce people to them. Because I think there's a lot of really good titles out there that people have missed over the years. And to be honest there's been a couple of titles that I've been hesitant about going back to because I didn't remember them as well. One of those games is Death Duel for the Sega Genesis.
The game has you piloting a big robot that fights against monsters and machines in a plotline that revolves around you winning some dueling combat war thing to gain control of intergalactic traffic lanes throughout the universe. Sounds interesting right? But basically it's an unneeded story to get you into one-on-one fights and the story is never really touched on in the game and only present in a scrolling wall of text just after the title screen pops up. And when you die. And you'll be seeing that dying screen a hell of a lot.
This game has very sparse controls that are very easy to learn. Your directional pad moves you're targeting site on the screen and shifts you from left to right on the level allowing you to move behind objects or get away from enemy fire. The three face buttons on the Genesis gamepad fire one of the three weapons. It's pretty easy and this ease of control is a welcome feature because this game is otherwise freaking hard. There are other games like Death Duel that have you moving from enemy to enemy trying to best them in the field of combat one-on-one. Games like Punch-Out do this very well but Death Duel adds a whole layer of unneeded complexity that muddies the gameplay. Sure on the face of it the game looks like Punch-Out with rockets and despite that sounding like it would be awesome it's not the experience you think you might get. To begin with you're running off of a limited supply of ammo. There is no melee attack so if you run out of bullets, which is much easier than actually being killed by your opponent in battle, you automatically lose. And you only get three attempts to try again and when you use up all three you get a game over that sends you right back to the title screen. These tries do not regenerate with every new opponent so if you failed three times on one enemy every opponent after has to be defeated on the first try or it's game over. But if that wasn't enough the game runs off a money system that gives you cash to purchase ammo for different kinds of weapons between every match. While you don't actually buy the weapons you do buy very expensive ammo and that ammo doesn't carry over match to match even if you don't use it all up. You collect money from defeating your opponents and you also gain some extra cash from little qualifying shooting gallery events but if you fail those qualifying events you will once again be greeted by the game over screen.
With all that on top of an already hard game they further increase the difficulty by creating a persistent damage system that carries damage from a prior fight on to the next match which is crazy. If they could do that with damage why didn't they do that with ammo? While you can repair the random bits of damage, you have to spend that money on ammo for your next match. It's maddening but all of that would have been nothing, and I mean nothing, if the enemies weren’t infuriating. Even if an enemy has no arms, wings, legs or even a head that enemy could still be possibly alive. And despite the fact you may have more health than they do if you shot that last bit of ammo you lose because your opponent's never run out of ammo. No matter what this is one of the most frustrating parts of the game, leaving you with no obvious sign of progression. I had no idea how to win against this dragon thing so I just randomly shot around until I eventually won by accident.
This is a game I could possibly beat if I had enough time but I simply don't want to. It can be beaten but not by me. While I loved this game when I was a kid I just can't go back and play it anymore just because of its complexity. It certainly hasn't stood the test of time. But of all the games I've played that have offered mech warrior combat in the robot type perspective this one probably has the best controls of all of them.