I can’t even remember if I’ve ever played this version of this one before. I know I played the arcade version many times, and I think I had the Master System version when I had that Master System adapter for Genesis for a brief time, but I don’t think I ever got around to this one. I just had the weird urge to play some silly Michael Jackson related shit.
It’s a strange, kind of uneven game. It starts off being insultingly easy, to the point where I almost gave up because it was all so effortless, but then it suddenly gets a lot more difficult when you get to the zombie levels. Enemies start taking 2 hits to kill and doing big jumping attacks between hits, and you suddenly realize how awkward Michael’s attack moves are when you’re trying to survive guys now coming at you from all directions. His little spins and low kicks may look flashy, but they’re not the most effective fighting moves.
The levels get more and more complicated too, with more complex layouts, more enemies, and much better hidden kids, having you actually go inside little caves that may or may not contain a kid you need to find. If you can manage to make it to the last set of levels, the difficulty reaches its highest point, which I can only describe as “hardcore”. On top of all the other difficulties you now have indestructible laser guns shooting at you from the ceiling and they do a pretty heavy amount of damage. It’s pretty nasty and must have been the source of much frustration for everyone who had to do it without save states back in the day.
What stands out the most here though is the level of detail in the character animations. Even looking back at it today, they were really advanced for a game this old. Everything has its own dance routine to go with Michael’s super dance finisher too. EVERYTHING. Even the fucking dogs and spiders! You can’t help but smile and laugh at these sudden goofy dance numbers.
Midnight Resistance would seem to be Sega and Data East’s answer to Contra. Other than a few minor differences, it’s actually quite a big ripoff, but it’s a well-made one that still manages to stand apart and on its own despite the many, many similarities.
The only differences are that red guys drop keys that you use to buy special weapons instead of just dropping special weapons and the weird control scheme.
In Midnight Resistance, instead of pressing or holding the attack button, the attack button acts as a binary on/off switch for firing your gun. You can also fire in 8 directions and hold another button to lock your firing direction, a mechanic that would later be used in Contra 3. The whole on/off firing thing is pretty strange and takes a lot of getting used to. Your special super attacks are also bafflingly activated by pressing up, so any time you need to shoot upwards you have no choice but to waste one more more of your supers. If this game wasn’t so fun in every other area, this bizarre design choice might really hurt the game. Overall, it’s still a pretty above average Contra clone though.
Another one I used to have as a kid, DJ Boy is a weird, cartoonish roller-skating beat-em-up. I’m not sure why I ended up picking this one up back in the day and I seem to remember not liking it much at first, but since I found myself stuck with it, I kept at it and learned to work with the weird gameplay mechanics and even learned to enjoy it.
Movement is kind of weird and floaty due to you being on skates and the hit boxes of enemies seem a little off sometimes, but once you get used to it you can start beating some rolling ass. It’s all perfectly do-able, except for maybe the ridiculously tough final boss who I’m not sure how I used to be able to beat back in the day. There must have been some trick to it that I wasn’t doing right this time.
Anyway, still a pretty solid beat-em-up, though a bit short. Pretty good looking for its time and it has some memorably bizarre bosses.