Gain Ground

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Gain Ground
Gain Ground (leaflet).png
Developer(s) Sega
Publisher(s) Sega
Designer(s) Mac Austin
Yang Watt
Programmer(s) Yoshiki Ōoka
Artist(s) Max Nelson
Composer(s) You Takada
Katsuhiro Hayashi
Platform(s) Sega System 24, Sega Master System, Mega Drive/Genesis, TurboGrafx-16 CD
  • WW: 1988
Master System
Mega Drive/Genesis
  • JP: January 3, 1991
  • NA: January 2, 1991
  • PAL: 1991
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 home systems.



Arcade version screenshot. ARC Gain Ground.png
Arcade version screenshot.

In Gain Ground, players control one of a set of characters at a time, 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. 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.

Normal mode starts 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, but all the captive characters are removed from the levels.

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.

The game consists out of four 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.

There are 20 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, making 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.


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.


Gain Ground started off as an arcade game. Released in Japan, the United States and Canada in 1988, Gain Ground ran on the Sega System 24 architecture. The developers have stated that their original inspiration was Gauntlet . [1] 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 North America. Both conversions were handled by SIMS. In 1992, a PC Engine Super CD-ROM² version (Gain Ground SX) was released by NEC Avenue.

In October 1993, [2] Atari Corporation filed a lawsuit against Sega for an alleged infringement of a patent originally created by Atari Corp. in the 1980s, [3] with the former seeking a preliminary injunction to stop manufacturing, usage and sales of hardware and software for both Sega Genesis and Game Gear. [4] On September 28, 1994, [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] both parties reached a settlement in which it involved a cross-licensing agreement to publish up to five titles each year across their systems until 2001. [12] [13] [14] [15] [16] [17] Gain Ground was in consideration to be converted for the Atari Jaguar as part of the deal if Sega could not provide a copy of the source code of Zaxxon 3-D , but it was scrapped in favor of the latter. [4]

It was re-released in Radica Games' TVPlay Legends Vol. II TV Games compilation. In 2004, the game was remade for the PlayStation 2 as part of Sega's Japan-only Sega Ages 2500 series as Sega Ages 2500 Series Vol. 9: Gain Ground. [18] The Mega Drive/Genesis version was released on the European and Australian Wii Virtual Console on February 2, 2007, and was made available in North America on February 5, 2007. Gain Ground was included in Sega Genesis Collection on the PlayStation 2 and the PSP in 2006 and in Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 in 2009. On June 1, 2010 the game became available on Steam as part of Sega Mega Drive Classics Pack (Sega Genesis Classics in the United States). On May 29, 2018, it was included in the console version of the Mega Drive/Genesis Classics Pack.

As a tribute to the game, Chapter 15 and 17 of the crossover game 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.


Review scores
Master System Sega Genesis
IGN 7.5/10 [19]
MegaTech 43% [20]
Raze 71% [21] 92% [22]
Sega-1610/10 [23]
Sega Pro 81% [24] 89% [24]

In Japan, Game Machine listed Gain Ground on their February 1, 1989 issue as being the third most-successful table arcade unit of the year. [25]

IGN's Levi Buchanan ranked Gain Ground as the fifth top Renovation game. [26]

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