Gain Ground

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Gain Ground
Gain Ground (leaflet).png
Developer(s) Sega
Publisher(s) Sega
Composer(s) You Takada
Katsuhiro Hayashi
Platform(s) Sega System 24, Sega Master System, Mega Drive/Genesis, TurboGrafx-16 CD, Virtual Console, Cloud (OnLive)
Release date(s) Arcade
Master System
PAL 1991
Mega Drive/Genesis
JP 19910103January 3, 1991
NA 19910102January 2, 1991
PAL 1991
Wii Virtual Console
JP 20070130January 30, 2007
NA 20070205February 5, 2007
PAL 20070202February 2, 2007
Genre(s) Action game
Strategy video game
Real-time tactical shooter
Mode(s) Up to 3 players
Arcade system Sega System 24
Sound YM2151

Gain Ground is a 1988 action-strategy arcade game later ported to the Sega Master System, Mega Drive/Genesis,[1][2] and PC Engine (TurboGrafx-16). In 2004, it was re-released in Radica Games' TVPlay Legends Vol. II TV Games compilation. It was remade in the PlayStation 2 title Sega Ages 2500 Series Vol. 9: Gain Ground, which was released only in Japan. The Mega Drive/Genesis version was made available on the European and Australian Virtual Console on February 2, 2007, and was made available in North America on February 5, 2007. The game has also appeared on Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. The game has also appeared on the Sega Genesis Collection on the PlayStation 2 and the PSP. On June 1, 2010 the game became available on Steam as part of the 'Sega Mega Drive Classics Pack'.


In Gain Ground, players control one of a set of characters at a time. There are twenty characters, each with different weapons. To beat a level, players must reach the exit point with at least one character or destroy all enemies on the level before time runs out.

In Normal mode, you start with three players. There are captive characters littered across all levels, which can be rescued by walking over, then escorting the controlled character to the exit point. If a player controlled character is killed, that character turns into a captive, except that they will disappear if the next active player controlled character dies, exits the level without them, or the player has no characters left in their party.

In Hard mode, you start the game with all twenty characters.

The game is over when all controlled characters in the party are killed without any reaching the exit. However, there are three continues which allow a player to restart the level with their original three characters.

There are 40 levels in the arcade version of the game. The Master System and the Genesis/Mega Drive have 50 levels in the game.


There are twenty playable characters in Gain Ground, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. Each character has a minor, weak weapon which can be fired in any direction, and a special weapon which has different capabilities from the normal attack and which vary between characters.

The characters in Gain Ground also vary in which hand they hold their weapons. This was originally done purely for cosmetic purposes[citation needed], but it was very soon discovered that this feature made it easier for some characters to shoot around certain walls and obstacles than others. When selecting a character for a situation, one must consider the character's speed, weapon type and range, and with which hands they hold their weapons.

Name Hand, walking speed Normal weapon Special weapon

(アスラ Asura)

Right-handed, quick Spear, short range Arcing spear, short range

All directions


(ベティ Beti)

Ambidextrous, average Pistol, short range (left hand) Grenade, short range

North only (right hand)


(サイバー Saibaa)

Ambidextrous, slow Pistol, medium range (right hand) Spread missiles, long range

North only (left hand)

Fire Knight

(ファイアーナイト Faiaanaito)

Center, average Magic missile, medium range Fireball, short range

North only


(ガスコン Gasucon)

Right-handed, quick Spear, short range Arcing spear, short range

North only


(ジェネラル Jeneraru)

Ambidextrous, slow Pistol, medium range

(right hand)

Flamethrower, short range

All directions (left hand)

Glow Knight

(グロウナイト Guronaito)

Center, average Magic missile, medium range Orbiting balls of light

(ハニー Hanii)

Ambidextrous, average Pistol, medium range

(left hand)

Grenades, short range

All directions (right hand)


(ジョニー Jonii)

Right-handed, quick Rifle, medium range Rifle, medium range

North only


(キッド Kiddo)

Left-handed, average SMG, medium range SMG, medium range

East/West simultaneously


(コウ Kou)

Left-handed, average SMG, medium range SMG, medium range

North only


(マム Mamu)

Ambidextrous, quick Pistol, medium range

(left hand)

Boomerang, medium range

North only (right hand)


(マース Maasu)

Right-handed, quick Arrow, medium range Arcing arrow, medium range

North only

Mud Puppy

(マッドパピー Maddopapii)

Ambidextrous, slow Pistol, medium range

(right hand)

Laser cannon, long range

North only (left hand)


(教授 Kyoju)

Left-handed, quick Rifle, long range Rifle, long range

East/West simultaneously


(ロビー Robii)

Ambidextrous, slow Pistol, medium range

(right hand)

SAM, long range

All directions (left hand)


(バルキリー Barukirii)

Ambidextrous, quick Pistol, medium range

(left hand)

Boomerang, medium range

All directions (right hand)


(バーバル Baabaru)

Right-handed, quick Arrow, medium range Arcing arrow, medium range

All directions

Water Knight

(ウォーターナイト Wootaanaito)

Center, average Magic missile, medium range Water spout, short range

All directions (stuns enemies)


(ザエモン Zaemon)

Center, average Magic missile, medium range Tornado, short range

(Spirals outward, bounces off enemies & walls)

  • "Cyber" seems to be directly inspired by the title character of the RoboCop film series, only colored red instead of silver.
  • Mars' appearance and use of a bow and arrow have drawn comparisons with the title character of the Rambo film series.
  • "Robby the Robot" is a subtle reference to the character from the vintage TV show, Lost in Space.
  • The "General" has been noted by players to bear more than a passing resemblance to Street Fighter series villain, M. Bison, although the character didn't appear until 1992 after this game's release. Respectfully both characters resemble the Japanese naval uniform of villain / anti-hero character Yasunori Katō


Review scores
Publication Score
MegaTech 43%[3]

Gain Ground started off as an arcade game. Released in Japan and the United States in 1988, Gain Ground ran on the Sega System 24 architecture. It supported up to three players at once. Each player had an 8-direction controller and two buttons.

The developers have stated that their original inspiration was Gauntlet.[4]

Gain Ground was ported to the Sega Master System in 1990 and the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis in 1991. Renovation Products released the Genesis version in the United States. Both conversions were handled by SIMS. In 1992, a PC Engine Super CD-ROM² version (Gain Ground SX) was released by NEC Avenue. In 2004, the game was remade for a modern audience on the PlayStation 2 as part of Sega's Sega Ages 2500 series. It's now been ported onto the Wii's Virtual Console for download. In 2006, the game was re-released as part of the Sega Genesis Collection.

As a kind of tribute to the game, Chapter 15 and 17 of the crossover RPG Project X Zone are stages directly pulled from Gain Ground. Chapter 15's title is "Gain Ground System" and both stages even have the party rescuing three of their companions (two in the first and one in the second) in true fashion to the original game. Incidentally, no characters from Gain Ground actually appear in the crossover.


From a Gain Ground flyer:

A long period of peace has deprived the earthlings of their instinct to wage war. The Federated Government, greatly concerned regarding this ever increasing dangerous situation, developed a Gain Ground simulation system in the year 2348 in an effort to instigate their ever waning fighting spirit. However, suddenly without warning, the Supercomputer went berserk and took many of the citizens as hostages. In order to rescue the POWs, three of the bravest warriors were urgently dispatched to go forth into the deadly Gain Ground.


The game consists out of 4 rounds, each having 10 stages, where stage 10 is a boss level. There are also ten completely new levels added to the Genesis/Mega Drive version, this Modern Epoch takes place in the streets of the city.

  • Round 1: Dark Ages
  • Round 2: Middle Ages
  • Round 3: China before revolution
  • Round 4: Present Day (Genesis version)
  • Round 5: Future


Katsuhiro Hayashi (SZK), has composed the music for the Genesis/Mega Drive version of this game in 1991. The music track lists the following:

  1. Genesis ~Causing~ (Brave Men's Themes)
  2. Europe in the middle ages ~Receiving~
  3. China before revolution ~Turning point~
  4. Mega Drive original stage ~Present Age~
  5. Robot in the future ~The end~
  6. Le Repos du Guerrier
  7. Door of the Space-Time


  1. ^ Top 10 Renovation Games, IGN, June 17, 2008
  2. ^ Sega Ages: Gain Ground, IGN, July 20, 2004
  3. ^ MegaTech rating, EMAP, issue 6, page 78, June 1992
  4. ^ Hardcore Gaming 101

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