As I talked in my first article about Altered Beast, I always loved the idea of fighting monsters was to become one. It’s no different than in games where you can become a giant or giantess. Whether you turn into a monster or a human, it’s one of the coolest things that bring me back to my childhood of watching shows like Ultraman or more modern titles like Steven Universe. It’s incredibly accurate for this 1993 Sega Genesis game despite not being a game about giantesses based off Go Nagai’s often overlooked manga known as MazinSaga (or Mazin Wars/MazinSaga: Mutant Fighter.) Created by Givro Corporation, a gaming developer known for future works on games like Cosmic Carnage and EVO: The Search for Eden, this unknown title on the Sega Genesis is one such gem that has some very high standings with its source material, gameplay and of course, the titanic fights. Though the game doesn’t have have a giantess in the game (odd why I’m choosing a game that doesn’t fit the term Giantess Games), that can be overlooked as we dive into the game.
Gameplay and Story
A summary of the story at the intro screen explains that in the year 1999, a villain named God Kaiser Hell unleashes his attack on humanity through his Bio-Beast army that forced all of humanity underground. However, hope arrives from a man named Dr. Kabuto, who created Mazinger Z, a form of power armor that his son Koji Kabuto wears. It’s up to Koji and his armor to defeat Hell and his Bio-Beast army. The game starts as a side-scrolling beat-em-up akin to Streets of Rage minus the enemy health bars as Koji moves around. He attacks with his sword, which he can use in a default attack or a special attack that drains his health when he uses it, but both do a lot of damage. Standing in his way is God Kaiser Hell’s army of bio-beasts that take on various forms such as infantry that can wield swords or flamethrowers, red ninjas, large mutant dog/lizard humanoids, slime monsters, and even large moths. Koji has no allies in this game and must rely on his fighting prowess to brave each stage and the four area’s dangers while collecting items. Some items reward points such as gold nuggets and gems while others can grant him temporary immunity, an extra life, or even health recover. Once he reaches the stage, he’ll fight against one of the larger Bio-Beasts (and not just by status but stature.) These colossal bosses will try to attack Koji by either grabbing him or outright stomping him like a bug, which requires you to hit them a few times at their heel. Once thwarted, the Mazinger Z armor will turn Koji into a giant and the game changes from beat-em-up sidescroller to a one-on-one fighting game, serving as the game’s boss fight between Koji and the Bio-Beast. Once the beast is defeated is the level over, and Koji goes to the next level to defeat another Bio-Beast. You are awarded points on how much life you had after defeating the boss. Starting from Japan, Koji travels all over the world from places like India, Europe, New York City, Egypt and finally into the lair of God Kaiser Hell himself and his dreaded bio-beast HellMazinger as well as the defeated monsters who want a second go at Koji.
Big Hits: Where the game shines big in
MazinSaga shines significantly in its presentation through music and animation. The character’s sword attacks don’t look clunky or slow when he swings, and the enemies themselves move fast. The combat animation is impressive for a game made in the early 90s, as some games still had some bits of clunkiness or slowness to them. Mazinsaga’s animation is an impressive feat for a game on the Sega Genesis to have great animation. Another great feature is the boss fights themselves, as both Koji and the Bio-Beast have a very articulate movement that doesn’t look hand-drawn during the boss fights. The way they move during the fighting stage reminds me of Cosmic Carnage just by the art style. The bosses do have their unique quirks and methods to defeat Koji, meaning every boss isn’t only a carbon copy of the prior one such as Garuda K7 resembling a giant monstrous skeleton beast is different than to others like Buster Claw, a plant/worm-like cyclops monster. Many of the levels do stick to a specific theme and do not feel generic in any way. One such example is the starting level of the game which takes place in the ruined streets of a Japanese city invaded by Bio-Beasts, to a ravaged India that’s now in an ice age and through the mold-infested city streets of New York City, each stage feels as though they are something different. The music isn’t bad either, with some exciting renditions and some fit well for the current situation. Such music could include the ominous miniboss scene where the human-sized Koji has to fight against the giant Bio-Beast. To something as fast-paced as the theme of the first stage that has you fighting Hell’s Bio-beast army for the first time to even the intro theme at the main menu of the game.
Colossal Failure: Where the game falls flat
Though the game does have significant benefits, there are oversights which can be a pain while enjoying the game. One big thing that MazinSaga has is the difficulty, and it doesn’t joke around in that department. The enemies can be fast and challenging on the first four stages, and some of the levels can be such a problem. One such difficulty is in Stage 3, where you are running from Dino Beast while jumping on small platforms. One wrong move and not only do you lose a life, but you also have to do the whole gauntlet all over again. The same thing happens in stage 4, but you’re not only avoiding Buster Claw’s attack but also having to dodge flamethrower infantry that will hit you as you have to fight the boss immediately after that gauntlet. Some of these challenges can be extremely tedious and annoying. Another difficulty also comes into the boss fights at the end of each stage. Some bosses like Slug Head, Dino Beast, and Buster Claw naturally have a more extended reach than Mazinger’s sword, meaning it can be challenging to get in close. That’s another issue with the game: Koji has no access to any ranged attacks during the boss battles and only access to his sword. You are required to think on your toes (while having to get used to dying a lot of times. I had to use a cheat to be able to defeat some of those bosses).
One big issue is that there’s no giant transformation between the miniboss and boss fight, which can catch some people off and wonder about this about scene change. If one read the manga, it explains that the armor has the power of “Size Manipulation” meaning that the armor grows and turns Koji into a giant (something not shown in the game.) The lack of an explanation leaves people in the dark, and a shame to see the armor grow before a fight (even games like Ultraman show the transformation even for a few seconds). The last part that might be a problem is the game’s bittersweet ending (spoiler alert!) After defeating HellMazinger, God Kaiser Hell’s forces are defeated, but humanity cannot live on the earth anymore, and by 2016, all of humanity has fled to Mars in order to survive, knowing that Hell will attack again. However, the game states that Koji will protect the Mars colonies should Hell commence his attack. It feels a bit that despite your attempts of defeating Hell’s Bio-Beasts, the villain still wins in the end. Though the ending gives some hint of a possible sequel to the series, just like the manga, it ends on an unresolved cliffhanger.
The last issue is something some might not notice and that there isn’t a single giantess in the game (hence the giant elephant in the room). So for some, the lack of giantesses might not be up for their alley should they play MazinSaga. However, you do fight some female enemies in the Egypt stage (and sadly only on that stage). It’s a shame that you can’t fight an enemy giantess version of those enemies in the game (even if said giantess is a monster). However, MazinSaga does fit well in the game, despite not being a giantess games candidate as you are still playing a giant.
Big Secrets: An interesting tidbit
An interesting find, submitted by a user on GameFAQs named Loud Minority explains an interesting method of basically just going into a Boss Rush mode within the game. If you go to the game’s menu and highlight the Sound test and select Sound 18, then go to the Music Test and select Music 72. When you exit the menu and start the game, you should be able to fight the bosses without the need of going through the stage. It’s a pretty nifty trick if you want to fight bosses without replaying the game all over again. It’s also interesting to know that older games like this have a hidden boss rush mode before boss rushes were a mainstream thing.
Even though the game can be overwhelming for people, whether it be by the game’s high difficulty or the source material itself, MazinSaga is one such interesting gaming gem that does some good faith for one of Go Nagai’s overlooked manga, as well as providing an great way of a one on one giant combat for the series. Though some games are known for giant combat and that some do actually have at least a giantess in their games (whether they be monster or human), the silent giant that MazinSaga brings is something no one should overlook, giantess games or not.