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30 years on, the story behind one of the Mega Drive’s best RPGs

Mega Drive owners didn’t often glance enviously at their Super Nintendo friends. After all, we had amazing platform games. We had fantastic shoot ’em ups. We had great arcade conversions. But there was one thing we didn’t have: the sprawling RPGs of the Nintendo console, such as The Secret Of Mana, Final Fantasy and The Legend Of Zelda: A Link To The Past. True, there were Mega Drive RPGs, but none with quite the epic feel and expanse of their Nintendo peers. Then, for a brief period in the early 90s, it didn’t matter. Because we had Buck Rogers: Countdown To Doomsday, a sci-fi RPG the likes of which never again appeared on the Sega console.

Countdown To Doomsday began life in 1990 as a PC, Commodore 64 and Amiga game. Released as part of its Gold Box series by Strategic Simulations Inc. (better known as SSI), the game was based on TSR’s Buck Rogers XXVC table-top role-playing game, itself a blending together of the famous sci-fi character with the Dungeons & Dragons second edition ruleset. As was common at the time, Countdown presents a first-person exploration view combined with an isometric display for combat. Yet while the original has its fans, it’s the Mega Drive conversion, released a year later, that is the most loved.

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