A blog dedicated to reviewing video games both new and retro. All titles are played and reviewed by the same person and each game bought with my own money. Systems being reviewed include the Sega Master system, Sega Genesis / Mega Drive, Sega Saturn, Sega Dreamcast, Xbox, Xbox 360, Playstation 1, Playstation 2, Playstation 3, Playstation 4, PC and Ms-Dos.
When reviewing the packaging for a console game there's generally not a lot to show or discuss. This is especially true for PAL-region Mega Drive games with its ugly VCR-style manuals, minimalistic manual information and lack of extras. In most cases you're lucky if a game comes bundled with a poster or catalog. Thankfully, Watermelon bucks the trend and Pier Solar is presented with so much content that this is likely to be my longest packaging review yet.
To the untrained eye, this could pass for an early generation Mega Drive/Genesis packaging, featuring all the telltale signs of a Sega title from this period. Astute collectors will notice the typical black-on-grey color scheme as well as its infamous grid layout. Watermelon wastes no time in touting its 64-Meg high-density cartridge (that's Megabits, not Megabytes), making it the largest game ever launched on this classic system.
My copy makes itself known that it is a reprint edition, likely in an attempt to sway off potential Ebay frauds passing off late versions as the first print. It should also be noted that initial run of Pier Solar uses three different layouts, further differentiating it from my particular copy.
The cover image features a striking design, anyone at a mere glance can tell this is an RPG or an otherwise story-centric title. Sadly, the art style seems disconnected from the main game's anime roots. As a result, one could take this design and apply it to most Japanese RPGs of the early-to-mid 90s and it would produce the same effect. In fact, it could almost pass for an alternate cover for the Mana series or even Final Fantasy VII.
Pier Solar's clamshell box fits in nicely with other Mega Drive games, sporting the exact same dimensions and style as the titles it tries to emulate. It even features a top flap similar to what these old boxes used when hanged on a store shelf. Naturally this holds no practical use, but it's a testament to Watermelon's attention to detail.
Oddly enough, opening the box is something of a hassle, requiring more brute strength than what most would expect from this type of product. This is a minor complaint though, as the plastic feels strong enough to withstand any fall it may face in the future.
Once again, the spine fits in nicely with other early Mega Drive/ Genesis games, the grid design matches Sega's past releases with Pier Solar's logo fitting in with any random assortment of games. The game will not stand out on any shelf, but I feel this was a design decision, rather than trying to outshine past games, it clearly pays homage to them.
The only complaint I have in this regard is the lack of the classic "Mega Drive" logo, I am assuming this wasn't included due to possible copyright issues.
Pier Solar's packaging manages to pay homage to its predecessors in even the smallest ways. The box is sealed with a sticker bearing the Watermelon logo, much like how past games were sealed with a Sega sticker.
At first I was afraid of tearing the sticker or leaving glue residue in its wake. Luckily, Watermelon thought ahead, removing it was both simple and clean.
Before we move on to its contents, I would like to point out the effort Watermelon went to when creating this packaging, going so far as to mark the inside of its boxes with their logo.
If you plan to order a copy off Ebay accept no substitutes, always check for these four triangles.
As we reach the reprint's contents we are likely to thread further away from past editions. As far as I have gathered, the set of extras tends to vary depending on which versions of Pier Solar you own. In the end, I can only review what came with my copy.
Inside the clamshell box, my edition came with a one-sided poster, set of stickers, a Pal VCR-style manual and the cartridge itself. I greatly enjoy owning posters, though I was a bit disappointed when learning it was one-sided only. I'd have liked to have seen a group shot of the main characters.
The manual may have come in an ugly VCR style booklet for nostalgia purposes, though thankfully this is leap and bounds better than anything we would have gotten back in the day.
Not only does it feel like high quality paper, it provides detailed information on basic gameplay features with accompanied color screenshots and even a bit of humor thrown in now and again.
The text comes in an assortment of languages in including Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese, German and even Japanese. However, I should point out that these additional languages cut some of the information from the English section, boiling it down to its bare essentials.
Finally we reach the cartridge itself. Setting it side-by-side with another Mega Drive game, the similarities are striking. Save for a tiny latch on the left side they are identical.
The cartridge seems to feature different art from the box, though this one in particular is rather unremarkable. Once again we see a small tagline assuring us that is indeed a reprint.
Checking the back of Pier Solar's catridge we once again witness Watermelon's attention to detail. It looks nearly identical to that of an original Mega Drive catridge, the major differences being the Sega logo giving way to Watermelon's and alternate text in the 'caution' section.
These final two images are not necessarily part of the packaging, but they are a nice touch nonetheless. The first, is the plastic casing in which my game arrived, which also comes branded with the Watermelon logo.
It's a nice touch that further creates the idea of a premium product and something I'd like to see more often.
Finally there's the invoice which which carried a pleasant watermark and even offers me a discount on future purchases through the use of Gems (lower left corner).
It's difficult to place any faults on Pier Solar's packaging, it's as much of a love letter to the by-gone era of 16-bit gaming as the game itself, if not moreso.
Everything was meticulously done to recreate the look and feel of its retro-brethren, while offering all the goodies and extras one would expect from a collector's edition. What flaws I came across are minute in what is without a doubt an amazing package. Pier Solar deserves a spot on the shelf of any retro collector, reprint edition or otherwise.