Readysoft has built it’s reputation translating Don Bluth’s classic “Dragon’s Lair” and “Space Ace” to every system known to humanity. It comes as no surprise that it’s first original title rehashes those games’ feel. What is a surprise is the fact that Braindead 13 adds little in terms of gameplay. The interface has remained basically unchanged. This is unacceptable given the advances of the past 15 years.
The formula will be familiar
If you have played “Space Ace” or “Dragon’s Lair.”
Players take the role of a computer technician named Lance. Dr.Brain and
his accomplice Fritz have duped Lance into their mansion.
The stated reason for his visit was to fix a malfunctioning computer.
Once Lance realizes the trouble he’s in, it’s already too late. The evil
doctor has deployed Fritz and his other minions after Lance. You have to guide Lance through the dark hallways and creepy
rooms of the mansion. Braindead 13 is basically a FMV title. This means limited
interaction with the player. Braindead 13 is non-linear. Players move through
the game on different paths. The rooms are available via the different branches.
For example, at the first hallway players can move either left or right.
Unfortunately, that’s basically the extent of the interaction in Braindead 13.
The game has primitive
interface. Gamers merely wait for the right moment and move their joystick. You
must execute the proper command at just the right moment. Fail and it’s right back where you started. There are no
visual cues to give a hint to players. Going through the same scene a dozen or
more times is not uncommon. Luck determines the player's success in the game.
This title is merely an exercise in
rote memorization. It’s because
of this that the game is an incredibly frustrating title. You’ll play through
it over and over and not make much progress. Only the bleeps of the computer as
you move give any indication that what you are doing has any effect on the
action. Had the designers taken out the interaction entirely, this would have
been much better. This would have been a far more enjoyable title if you were
just sitting watching a movie. As it stands, players will be more frustrated
than entertained by the game.
This would be acceptable if
the game offered any reason to keep playing. It doesn’t. The enemies in the
game aren’t as effective as they could be. While the main enemy Fritz is a
funny invention, he doesn’t have nearly enough screen time to justify the
prominent position given to him on
the box. The other characters are
also amusing as they attempt to kill or maim the hero.
There’s an especially memorable sequence in a beauty parlor. Vivi looks
like the Bride of Frankenstein but her manicures are a little bit on the rough
side! The game also includes scenes with a crazed alligator chef and a
psychotic marionette. Both of these are funny and imaginative. It’s a
shame that all of this creativity goes for naught. There are some amusing scenes
in the game. These include a sequence in a psychotic beauty parlor and the many
encounters with Fritz himself. After sitting through the same scenes for the 35th
time, the entertainment value plunges.
The graphics in the game
aren’t that good, either. The animation itself shows excellent production
values, unfortunately it looks grainy on the Saturn. The game suffers immensely
due to a poor conversion of the animation to the Saturn’s Full Motion Video
format. Instead of the crystal sharp graphics many of us have come to expect,
the colors look washed out. The game also suffers from unacceptable levels of
pixellation. It causes the game play to become
jerky. Thus it lacks the natural grace common in good animation.
The sound is pretty good as can be expected with a CD title. The voice
actors who portray the characters do a good job in bringing the wacky cast of
loonies to life. Their valiant efforts get little effect in the end. The
unimaginative execution of this title undermines their efforts. When the
interaction is so limiting, it
takes the fun out of the title. Since
BrainDead 13 owes more than a lot
to “Dragon’s Lair” and “Space Ace,” comparisons between them are
games showed people the promise of CD-ROM gaming a decade before it arrived on a
mass-market basis. The sheer novelty of the cinematic cartoons as a video game
backdrop made the games hugely successful.
This was a time when most games were extremely simple graphically. What
BrainDead 13 is trying to accomplish other than serving as a clunky tribute to
those nostalgia shrouded titles
isn’t apparent. This points to a big caveat to anyone who wants to recapture
the spirit of those titles. One of the main flaws of “Dragon’s Lair” was the fact that many players could
beat it simply by memorizing the codes and their correct order. There are many
possible ways to counteract this lack of intelligent gameplay. The developers
should have tried to improve the way the games played for today’s more
sophisticated and demanding audiences. Unfortunately,
the game fails to come up with any creative solutions to this problem. As
happened before, many players will get so frustrated with the game’s lack of
challenge and interaction that they’ll simply bring it back to the store.
Unfortunately, this is more fun to watch than to play yourself. This is what caused the quick death of this genre 15 years ago. It’s hard to imagine anyone getting much entertainment value for their dollar out of this title today. Very few living gamers haven't seen an FMV title. One wonders what the developers saw in this title. There’s been nothing added to the old Bluth formula by Braindead 13 The complete lack of innovation and poor presentation makes the game staler than two month old bread.
Pit - THQ
action game starts out with a very
strange idea - How did this get through the focus groups? It’s a simple yet
ingenious premise: have you ever wanted to play a game in which you duel with
cute little fighting robots you create? Robo Pit gives you the chance to live
out this fantasy. Before each round, you have a menu of different options for
your robots, ranging from facial expression to body types and more.
There are literally dozens of options from which to choose, which can be
slightly confusing to the average player at first, most of these are useless.
Some of the options are much better than others, though you’ll have to find
this out by trial and error. After this has been selected, you can save your
robot. Then you get to fight it
out, robot to robot in the deadly Robo Pit. The fight scenes are more
reminiscent of a combination of Cyber Sled and Jumping Flash than Tekken. There
isn't much technique to the fighting, basically hit the punch and kick buttons
one of the robots explodes. This makes the game very simple, though you can do
special moves when your power meter is powered up. This isn't a bad thing
however, since the emphasis is on creating and controlling cool robots, not
fighting. The graphics are very
cute, yet feature many detailed polygons, giving Robo-Pit a strange, yet oddly
fun feel all its' own. I loved the way the robots looked jumping around. The
controls are also very easy to get used to,. None of that complex stuff here,
which makes this a very good title to play when you’re in the mood for
something a little out of the ordinary. There’s lots of strategy and daring
here too. You can select up to 20 or so robots ahead, which means that you take
a larger risk each time you fight. Each time you win a fight, you get the
opponent's arms and weapons which you can use to enhance your robot - and you
also get more skill points for the weapon you used during the fight. You also
gain ranking as you beat other fighters, which means you can move up the list
and fight the enemy faster. Unfortunately if you lose, you lose the weapons
you’ve built up in the fights and fall in the rankings. Fighting a robot close
to yours in rank is a much better risk, unless you have loads of confidence.
There are 100 different robots to fight in order to beat this game, so it
has a lot of replay value. The graphics are very good for the Saturn system, the
levels are highly detailed and the animations are quite good. There are lots of
them but the levels are a little
unimaginative. A more bizarre concept with equally bizarre soundtrack has rarely
been seen in electronic gaming. Robopit does get a little tedious after awhile,
and it is simply a game of endurance with very little skill. Aside from this, ROBO-PIT is a good game, though adventurous
types will enjoy it more than those looking for a standard type game.
in The Dark: One Eyed Jack's Revenge -THQ
conversion of the inexplicably popular PC game is similar in feel to Flashback
and Out of this world, but has none of the challenge or gaming value offered by
those other titles. This gothic horror adventure title hits the Saturn not with
a bang but with a thud. During one of the many rendered cut scenes in the title,
You control a private eye on a mission inside a mysterious haunted house in
order to unlock it's mysteries. The graphics are quite good, featuring
outstanding character polygon animation and detailed scenery. The plot involving
zombies and ghosts wandering around a haunted house is very promising, but is
killed by the title's terrible execution. It is hard to get into a title that is
constantly pushing the player away with its’ lack of foresight. The sounds are
definitely below average and lead to the overall impression of a quickie port.
While the game is engaging with a lot of plot, it is one of those
point-and-click type PC games that don't require much thought on the part of the
player. Those familiar with this type of game know that it requires a great deal
of patience. You will definitely have yours taxed during the long load times and
frequent viewing of the same cut scenes in the title. You can view your death
scene a dozen times before you get anywhere with this title, the puzzles and
challenges are not clear at all, making the player do the same motions over and
over until they accidentally stumble on the right one, If you thought FMV was
dead, you were wrong. The same
techniques used in those hated games return here, with the live video replaced
by rendered 3D polygons. The designers obviously are proud of their graphics,
since the perspective changes far too frequently. A
simpler more straightforward view of the action would have been much
better. As it is, the multiple camera techniques popular on workstations are
overused beyond the point of overkill causing
even the most patient players to become confused easily. The weapons control is
particularly frustrating, how many video games make you go to a menu and select
a weapon before you can use it? This definitely kills the immersiveness of Alone
in the Dark. The graphics scream “Dull computer adventure game”
so Alone in the Dark does not start out as the most engaging Saturn
title, but I was willing to give it a chance since I thought the plot was cool.
Then, hours of frustrating gaming followed. Vainly, I tried to control the character - he looks great but after he
dies again and again thanks to the awful controls, you begin to wonder if anyone
even bothered to playtest this trash
game.. This has a really terrible user interface that instead of adding
complexity as intended, just makes the game incredibly frustrating. You have to
navigate through a confusing menu
system while selecting which device
to use, while the action is still taking place, out of your view. The buttons
seem out of place on the controller and worst of all the reaction time and
control is terribly frustrating. You cannot help but to think that Alone in the
Dark seems to take place in a slow motion
tedious world. This game is a tedious exercise at best and a tired example of an
outdated view on gaming - you could have played games like this five years ago
on your 16 bit Amiga. An obvious example of why gaming interface design has
advanced so much - Isn’t the point of playing a game to play the game, not
spend hours frustrated by the frustratingly outdated menu based interface? Alone in the Dark’s developers
obviously haven’t seen any of the recent trends that clearly indicate that the
interface should be transparent to the player. There is a much better title
called "Resident Evil" which does everything Alone in the Dark does
and does it much better. Steer
clear of this frustrating headache.
This is a real shame because Alone in The Dark could have been a great title.