Sega, having just launched their Sega Genesis as their second North American console, were looking to bring over titles that showed why this console was better than the competing Nintendo NES and NEC Turbo Grafx-16. Rather than shelling out the money for the Hokuto no Ken (aka Fist of the North Star) license, Sega simply dropped it and edited some of the in game graphics to make a more generic action game they called Last Battle. This formula should work, right? After all, they pulled this with another Hokuto no Ken title that hit North American shores as Black Belt for the Master System. Sadly, Last Battle was just TOO generic in every sense of the word.
Last Battle is another brawler type game, similar to Altered Beast which was the first pack in title for the Sega Genesis. You are limited to one plain of gameplay but you now can move around some buildings by dropping through holes in the floor to reach new areas or avoid enemies/obstacles. The story makes no sense whatsoever since Sega changed quite a bit to avoid problems with the license.
Self censoring also hit Last Battle in the on screen stuff. Some enemies were recolored to appear more like mutants and “death” animations were nearly completely removed. This is ironic considering Sega was marketing the Genesis as the console that is “not Nintendo” yet they imployed very Nintendo-esque censoring. Sega did leave in text that Nintendo would have probably dropped such as characters using the word “die” quite a bit in conversation, not in a “fun” way either but rather referencing their own mortality.
Areas that Sega did run wild with Last Battle include on screen obstacles and enemies. There are a few areas in the game that have tons of flying objects- knives, battle axes, arrows, swords, etc. coming at you from both sides of the screen while spikes and/or flames appear from the ceiling and floor respectively. Also, the size of the characters is quite a bit bigger than what the Nintendo NES could ever handle and there are plenty of them on screen in many places too.
Levels are quite linear but you have some control over which ones to conquer and when thanks to an overworld map that gives the illusion of choice (much like in Super Mario 3 and World). You still have to get to the boss and you need to fight to power up but the order you complete the levels is somewhat up to you.
Last Battle just had too much going against it to make it a worthy addition, even in the early days of the system. It did not help that Sega censored the hell out of it and didn’t see the need to keep the license either.
From what we know, Last Battle never got a re-release or return of the license (maybe some hackers could remedy that?). If you want a copy of Last Battle to add to your collection hit the links below: