Saturday, December 10, 2016

Day 4: The 30-Day Video Game Challenge

Note: This is a series of posts based on some image floating around on Twitter. I felt I could talk more about my answers instead of just tweeting them.

Day 4: Your guilty pleasure game

Ground Zero Texas (and other full motion video games) for Sega CD

Imagine that instead of a bunch of pixels and cartoon drawings on your TV screen, your video games were "real." Real actors, real sets, actual spoken dialogue, and a fully fleshed out plot. Instead of beeps and bops, you were directing a real Hollywood film, right from your own home!

That's the pitch that we were given in the early 90s, and the foundation on which Sega built their Sega CD system. If you were a Sega Visions subscriber like myself, that's was touted as the big selling point for the system. In fact, the pack-in game included with the Sega CD was Sewer Shark, a FMV game in which you murdered mutant rats in a sewer (apologies to the Ninja Turtles).

With an FMV game, everything was filmed like a movie, and your interaction would alter the scenes. While it sounds great, this method severely limits your amount of interactivity, usually limited to point and click type games.

And you know, for all the flack this genre gets (I don't think there is a genre more despised than FMV), I love it in a so bad it's good kind of way. Ground Zero Texas was a game I read about in magazines constantly back in 1993, but with it only being available on a system we couldn't afford, it would be relegated to my imagination and print.

Until I became a grownup! After college, I found a Sega CD unit for $40 at a game shop in Pittsburgh, and picked up a few titles for it. Sonic CD, Sewer Shark, and that not-forgotten childhood gem, Ground Zero Texas. In this game, aliens have infiltrated a small Texas town and disguised themselves as humans. Like Zygons in Doctor Who, but sadly don't get The Doctor in this title. You've been brought in to monitor security cameras for any sign of the aliens.

The trailer for the game

What this means is that you get to see different interactions with townsfolk play out, with some of the scenes turning into a shooting round.

Is it a bad game? It's not The Legend of Zelda by any means. Do I enjoy it? Absolutely. Yes, the FMV genre has severe gameplay restrictions (I don't get to do anything but switch camera views, move a cursor and shoot), but just because your interactions are limited doesn't mean it's terrible. The graphics are severely crippled by the Sega CD (it could only show 64 colors at a time, not a good look for video), but it's still a fun look back into a decade when next-gen expectations were radically different than what they are now.

You get to shoot aliens. That's the foundation of all great video games (Galaga, the greatest arcade game of all time, is built on this premise)! And if you really want to drown yourself in retro goodness, this genre screams early 90s like nothing else.

Previous entries
Day 3

1 comment:

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