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You may remember Gain Ground as an early Genesis title, but as with many Sega titles of old, the game has its origins in the arcades. Released for Sega's System 24 arcade board in 1988, Gain Ground made use of the board's high resolution and color for a realtime strategy experience (or, according to the back of the Sega Ages version box, an "Algorithm Action" experience) a step above what could be delivered in the home.

In Gain Ground, you direct a set of troops through a set of forty enemy-filled levels. Each level takes place on a single screen and consists of start and finish points. You move your troops one at a time from the start to finish point via direct input from the joystick. To advance to the next stage, you can either get each troop to the finish point, or you can defeat all the enemies in the level.

Your troops vary in their skills. Some have spear attacks while others use projectile weapons. Some are slow while others can zip past enemies. You choose the order in which you make your troops move, and must decide which character to use in order to best deal with the enemies that appear in a given stage.

You start off the game with three troops in your group, but this number can increase or decrease as you play. In addition to enemies, the stages have victims who need to be escorted to the finish point. Each troop can escort one victim at a time. Once a victim has been saved, she becomes usable in future levels. On the flip side, if one of your troops is struck by an enemy, she becomes a victim who needs to be saved later.

The arcade version of Gain Ground featured three player support and a vertically-oriented screen, which made it stand out in arcades. The Sega Ages version of the game supports only two players. The tall screen, which was replicated on the Genesis by including menus on the left and right of the action, is replicated here with the use of a 3/4 overhead view. Of course, this means polygons in place of sprites, and the game actually looks like it runs in lower resolution now as a result.

The original game was a classic, though, so the Sega Ages remake fares well as a result. It's not the most playable or best looking game by today's standards (we'd love to see a full remake that looks like artwork used to promote the game back in 1988), but there's definitely some fun to be had with Gain Ground in 2004.

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