Archive for the ‘3DO’ Category
In the mid 1990s PC gaming was a bit of a wild world. Consoles were clearly embracing the 3D as an up and coming technology - Star Fox, Virtua Racing, and Donkey Kong Country were just a taste of things to come – and PC developers all had various approaches to making the next big thing. During this time a series of point-and-click adventures, often with embedded action sequences, made their way to your Windows 95/DOS platform that featured voice acting from stars, adult themes, and horrible early 3D renders.
Some of these games caught on and have quite the cult following. Sometimes it’s quality, like Tim Schaefer and LucasArts’ Grim Fandango, and other times it’s the creator’s reputation, like Roberta William’s Phantasmagoria. Still others are a complete anomaly, like D. One of the more buried projects that released was Hell: A Cyberpunk Thriller, and before you think of it as a victim of circumstance it really is a terrible game. Your guard should always be up when words like “cyberpunk” and “thriller” are in the title instead of the description and the big sticker that proudly announced voice work from Dennis Hopper was a red flag even back then. I spent a lot of time and chunk of change getting my hands on a copy of this game for the 3DO – I tend to grab old PC games on this console because it’s easier to just drop the game into my 3DO than try to get it to work on a Windows 7 device. Needless to say after one hour it was a dust collector in my game closet. Fortunately for all of us, Richard Cobbett over at PC Gamer covered the entire campaign and gameplay in a more-words-than-it-deserves addition to his Saturday Crapshoot series. If you don’t know this game, this well written piece is a much better way to experience Hell and I chose to cover it because there’s no way I’m ever going to review it. Check it out!
Developer: Digital Pictures
Publisher: Sony Imagesoft
Instruction Manual: Helpful – Link
Played it as a child? Yes
Value: $0.87 (used), $20.00 (new) (pricecharting.com)
Price: $3-$10 (used) – Since this game was a pack-in, almost never seen sealed outside console bundles
Other Releases: 3DO
Digital Release? No
Sewer Shark is another converted game from the canceled Hasbro NEMO console and was intended to be played using a VHS (just like Night Trap) although how they were going to do it is completely beyond me. Most of the games I covered last week were good concepts that resulted in okay launch games that were flawed either by long load times or just not fully fleshed out. I would argue that among the launch window titles, Sewer Shark is the exception. It is a complete video game that utilizes the video functionality of the console and combines it with simple gameplay mechanics to make a solid experience.
Set in a post-apocalyptic world, the surface of Earth is unlivable and creatures are forced underground to dwell in drab conditions. Not only that but the creatures of the sewers have mutated, causing larger sizes (scorpions and bats) and hybrids (ratigators - a hybrid of rats and alligators) that make sewers a dangerous world to trek on foot. As a result, little ships that can navigate the sewers, known as Sewer Sharks, navigate the tunnels to get people around, hunt for food, and offer a promise of the one haven left on the planet: Solar City. In Sewer Shark you play a new pilot recruit (nicknamed “sewer jockey”) that has the overall goal of retiring in Solar City. Unfortunately almost every jockey that attempts the trek dies in a sewer crash or by the hands of some mysterious danger in Sector 19, the final stretch before Solar City. As best put by your co-pilot Ghost in the beginning, you receive, “a name, a boss, a friend, and a reason to live…a million pounds of tubesteak, that’s all you gotta deliver today hotshot!” in order to make it to the end. This is important because the game has a very simple task – navigate the sewers, kill enemies to collect points (pounds of tubesteak), and once you hit a million you get the final encounter. It’s a pretty decent setup and definitely a concept not overused in games at that point, unfortunately to collect all this information you have to read the manual and play close attention to the introduction that can be skipped by simply pressing start.
In terms of how to actually play the game, you’re basically given coordinates by various people that come in sets of 3 and give your required sewer turns in clock directions. Here’s an example: six, twelve, niner - this means you need to take a down turn (six o’clock is straight down), an up turn (12 o’clock is up), and then a left turn (left is at nine o’clock) in that specific order. This is the randomly generated safe path for the sewers, miss a turn or take the wrong turn and you will most likely crash and burn (in the first two sets you may live if you make a single wrong turn). Turning isn’t as complicated as it seems, the indicator at the top of the screen will flash when a turn is coming up and when you see the turn you want, hold B and press that direction to turn. While you’re juggling turns you also need to shoot enemies on the screen using the target reticule and in the later parts of the game launch CO2 flares when your levels get too high (you’ll be verbally warned, like seen in the video, and you just tap the C button once). Later in the game there will be enemies that will kill you if you don’t take them out, enemies that drain your energy (which will also kill you if you run out), and there’s a twist that requires you to take visual cues from the screen for your turns. To prevent your energy from running out, you need to jump into recharge stations (again, you’ll get a verbal cue) that are either at 3 or 9 o’clock and are indicated with a green light on the ceiling, you have to quickly punch in the direction (there will be no turn indicator) to take the side route and get more energy. Like all other concepts in this game, you should be fine if you miss the first one, but after that you’re tasked with perfection.
This game does a great job at following the basics of game design: introduce all of the mechanics and gradually make the game harder to test the player. Unfortunately many people would find this upward battle to be incredibly boring (on a good day you’ll be doing this for at least an hour of consistent gameplay, but I’ve logged at least 10 cumulative hours to beat it), so you get an interesting plot with some mystery to it. I will warn you that every explanation and plot point is dumb and you can actually guess the biggest mystery from the back of the box of certain versions, but until that is revealed it holds your interest well enough. It’s really a game that tests your reflexes, memory, and ability to keep an eye on multiple parts of the screen at the same time. By the end of the game I found myself getting a decent rush to see if I would make it to the end. Apparently Sega also felt this game had good potential because it became the official pack-in game for the Sega CD Model 2 and is easily the least rare game on the console – you’ll be able to pick it up for a few bucks and is usually in stock at any used game store that stocks Sega CD games. I just like that it was the first game that looked and played like a cartridge console game and finally gave hope that one day CD games would be indistinguishable between cartridge games. Of course I don’t think we ever got there but CD games did become the norm only a few short years later.
Sewer Shark is among the many full motion video (FMV) games to be criticized and blamed for the negative connections to the Sega CD, but that is definitely misplaced with this game. It may not be perfect, but it is interesting and well worth checking out if you ever pick up a Sega CD, especially since you’ll see hundreds for sale in your search for other games. For those just curious, I’ve provided gameplay video below of the entire campaign from start to finish (roughly 40 minutes). I should note that near the end I do die and I stopped recording because I never knew that simply pressing start during the credits would allow you to continue at the beginning of your current call sign section (there are four). As soon as a cutscene allowed me to, I started recording again and I’m glad I did because for the first time ever, I beat the game.
Console: Sega-CD/Mega-CD, 32X CD, 3DO, PC
Developer: Digital Pictures
Publisher: Sega (Sega/Mega-CD, 32X CD), Virgin (3DO), Digital Pictures (PC)
Instruction Manual: Not necessary – Link
Played it as a child? Yes
Value: $25.00-$50.00 (used) $50.00 (new) (pricecharting.com) – Prices for various platforms
Price: $25-$50 (used) N/A (new) on eBay
Digital Release? No
Oh Night Trap, your reputation precedes you. In actuality this game has received far too much press than it’s probably worth and constitutes an odd sense of rarity about the title. It’s too bad because had this title fallen into the $5-$10 category that its brethren Sewer Shark, Corpse Killer, and Double Switch dwell, more people would probably appreciate the title. Unfortunately due to some senate hearings and the fact that this game was alongside Mortal Kombat and Lethal Enforcers for why the ESRB ratings needed to exist in the first place, people think they are going to see some explicit content. That, friends, is simply not true. Putting all that publicity aside, there is a meaty cult-style game here that perhaps suffers less than other full motion video (FMV) games. It’s not great, but it sure is fun to watch at least once.
The story of how Night Trap came to be is just as entertaining as its fame after release. It started life as a part of a title known as Scene of the Crime, which was slated for release in 1987 and was never released. Given the time period, it was probably one of those board games that was accompanied by a VHS tape but I’m hard pressed to see how in the world this would integrate into anything but a cd-based video game. Either way, the cancellation saw the footage shelved until it was utilized in a new form for the planned Hasbro (another indication of a board game) console known as the NEMO that was going to use VHS tapes instead of cd-roms. This explains why Dana Plato, the only actor even resembling notability, looks different and younger in the footage than she did upon the game’s release and why everything just looks a lot more mid-80s than early-90s. As development proceeded with the NEMO, the footage was reprioritized to be called Night Trap and the building blocks of the game that released were put into place. Can you imagine how brutal this game would have been on both gamers and hardware/VHS tapes had it required you to jump to random moments on the tape with each decision made? Horrid.
Through various considerations, most likely logic and practicality, the NEMO was scrapped and Sega convinced Hasbro to migrate the game to cd-rom and it became a launch title for the Sega CD in 1992. I had a friend who got a launch Sega CD and at that time there were only like 3 games available, which meant anyone dropping $400 on a Genesis add-on had no issues shelling another $120 to have every launch title. Night Trap was unlike anything we had seen before and our 11-year-old minds were blown by the manipulation of full video and the campy “vampires in the woods” plotline. In short, I loved this game from the date of release. As time passed and the Sega CD quickly dropped to clearance status and Night Trap along with it, the game would have probably fizzled into even greater obscurity had a particular scene not been called into question (see link above for that story). While I must admit that I can’t even accidentally mistake what happens for rape, it brought new attention to the game and probably explains why it was later ported to various other platforms and can be found with little effort.
The original Sega CD game was slightly different from the other versions, especially with the opening scene where your commander, Simms, makes the events of the game sound like a covert SWAT (or shall I say SCAT) mission that’s going full force. The footage of the house, little icons and animations, and even the video quality are dull and grainy. It was the first time a project like this had ever existed, so I can definitely excuse the game especially when the only competition was Compton’s Interactive Encyclopedia, which shrank a scene from Star Wars so small and pixellated that you can barely tell what’s happening. Everything is Sega specific as well, from SCAT standing for Sega Control Attack Team to the Genesis controller in the tutorial. After the publicity, the game was re-released with a Mature rating from the ESRB and came out on the Sega/Mega-CD (again), a port for the 32X CD, the PC, and finally the 3DO. Despite the new rating and rumors that the “Director’s Cut” marketing on the new box was actually a ruse for the controversial scenes being cut, the game is identical to the original release save for a few enhancements. In the re-release SCAT now stands for Special Control Attack Team, the Genesis controller is replaced by a “Night Trap” remote, Simms sounds like he took a sedative and is speaking to people with learning disabilities, and all icons/fonts and footage are updated and improved (except for the Sega CD version). The footage below is from the 3DO version as it has the biggest footage resolution, sharpest resolution, and fastest response time when swapping rooms (thanks to the x2 speed cd-rom).
Night Trap is fun if only because it has a voyeuristic nature where all you seem to do is help people in peril. Normally the basic plot would be boring and repetitive, but because you’re only capturing bits and pieces at a time (you won’t get very far if you hang around to see what’s going on with the main characters). The strength of that is also the greatest fault, though, because you leave all the interesting moments (especially at the end) to go capture another enemy in a replayed scene you’ve already watched a dozen times. In addition there are small moments where you have to pay attention to what the characters are saying in order to change the “code color”, but additional variables involving when the colors go into effect and exactly when they are mentioned is something you can only learn from playing the game a lot. There’s also this total dick move where you can get a game over by trying to initiate a trap as the main character Kelly screams at you to do so – it’s the only time in the game that this happens and with no indication. In short, all of these steps are there to trick you into a game over so you can write down the time (all events happen exactly the same in all scenarios, although colors do change each playthrough) and make sure not to make the same mistake twice. Yep, replays of movies, screwing you over, and pen & paper, just another day at the office with the early cd-rom FMV titles. Fortunately for everyone reading this I have captured a playthrough from start to finish for your viewing pleasure. I have done my best to capture all of the interesting plot points and little nods to the player, but because the game requires you to leave those moments for arbitrary work it’s tough to get everything. Also excuse the frantic nature of the gameplay, it’s what you have to do to get a perfect run solely from memory. Either way, have fun and enjoy, and be sure to look for my favorite part: two enemies high-five each other after sneaking past Kelly while she speaks to you in the camera, classic.
Night Trap is still one of my favorite games of all time and I waste an hour every six months or so going through it again and again. What about you guys? Anyone else a fan or is this game really just a horrible mess that doesn’t even have cult value? Let us know in the comments below and enjoy the gameplay video!