This week: a quick look at the fairly recently unearthed Stone Protectors Sega Genesis prototype (unreleased).
I’ve talked a few times on Game and Toy about how the early and mid 90’s were full of franchises trying to duplicate the success of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and the Stone Protectors were one of those right at the forefront of that craze. The troll-inspired Stone Protectors, powered by their sparking chest stone gimmick, had their own line of action figures and a cartoon series at the peak of their success in 1993, eventually clearing the way for a self-titled Super Nintendo game towards the end of 1994.
The SNES version of the game was considered to be a “frustrating journey” by GamePro at the time, and the Stone Protectors went out with a whimper not long after. Fast-forward 16 years to 2010, and a fully functioning cancelled port of the Stone Protectors game is discovered and later dumped online for the Sega Genesis, which had been developed by Vic Tokai (Trouble Shooter, Decap Attack). I thought I would play that version and see exactly what people ended up missing out on.
I was pleasantly surprised. Stone Protectors on the Genesis is a competent port of the original game, a side-scrolling beat ‘em up with great character design, detailed backgrounds and scrolling, level variety and some really nice cut scenes. No, it’s not on the level of a game like Turtles in Time, but for what it is, it’s pretty good. All of the Stone Protectors are available to play as, each with a special move of their own. The gameplay itself seems to borrow in equal parts from games like Streets of Rage and Battletoads, which were certainly good inspirations to draw from when creating Stone Protectors.
While I was playing I came across a decent variety of unique enemies, large bosses, and overall some of the best graphics I’ve seen on the Genesis. The cutscenes are animated well and help to give the game a bit of a story, even if most of the emphasis is on pounding enemy after enemy, rinse and repeat. That’s my biggest gripe with Stone Protectors, it’s a little bit repetitive. But again, this is a game based on Stone Protectors, and that is good enough for me.
So why wasn’t the Genesis version released, when it was essentially finished and the SNES received its version? Was it the late release, mediocre reviews of the SNES version or something else? No one really seems to know, and fans like me will just have to be satisfied with being able to play the game after all this time. So if you don’t mind using an emulator or Everdrive to play a game you would not otherwise have the chance to, I highly recommend checking this one out.
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