This week I’m reviewing a game that I was very anxious and excited to play and review. Once I played it though all that excitement went bye-bye. I’m talking about Demolition Man for the Panasonic 3DO. This game had me all worked up in a tizzy since it’s a video game adaptation of a big blockbuster movie. I figured since it’s a 3DO game it would have lots of full motion video from the movie with lots of action packed game play. Well, it’s got both of those things plus A LOT MORE, so much more, and that’s not necessarily a good thing.
The movie “Demolition Man” was released in 1993 and had video game adaptations released in 1994 and 1995. There’s two versions of the Demolition Man video game. One version was released for the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis. The other version was released for the Sega CD and Panasonic 3DO. The Nintendo and Sega versions of the game were developed and published by Acclaim Entertainment and released in 1994 and 1995. As for the 3DO version, it was developed and published by Virgin Interactive and Alexandria, Inc. The 3DO and Sega CD versions are similar in game play while the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis versions are completely different.
When I saw Alexandria, Inc. I thought “Who?” I had never seen this name before on a game so I looked them up. I found a total of two games in their catalog, Izzy’s Quest for the Olympic rings, the official game of the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games, and Sylvester and Tweety in Cagey Capers, the official game of Sylvester the Cat and Tweety Bird. They were also involved in the development of a game called Dyno Blaze, a game about hockey playing dinosaurs in New York City, but it was cancelled after the lead design artist passed away due to an undisclosed illness. From the looks of it, the company didn’t make it through the turbulent times of the ’90s.
The game play of the 3DO version of Demolition Man is all over the place. It tries to do a little bit of everything all in one game all while trying to show off the fancy CD based graphics. The game starts out by showing the beginning of the actual movie. The full motion video is the classic grainy FMV quality that’s found on all of the CD consoles of the early to mid 90′s. The nice thing is that the video is displayed full screen and not in a tiny box in the center of the screen.
After the video intro, the game starts out as a Lethal Enforcers type shooter. You stand in a fixed position with nothing but your gun and a crosshair displayed on the screen. You then have to shoot various thugs that pop out from various places on the screen. The thugs are the classic arcade shooter thugs meaning that they’re all local actors or office workers from the development studio that have had their images digitized in the game. They’re all done up in generic thug-wear while they run from one side of the screen to the other shooting at you the entire time.
Demolition Man Game Play First Level
Unfortunately, the first arcade shooter sections of the game is where the whole thing breaks down. First, the difficulty is through the goddamn roof. Seriously, each individual shot you get hit by takes away a sliver of life. That might not sound all that bad but when there’s multiple enemies shooting at you at the same time it adds up quickly. You have to take them out one at a time which means some enemies will be left to fire away at you and these fuckers are accurate, they land every single shot. Things get real fun when there’s an enemy throwing grenades at you also. You can get hit by no more than 3 grenades as they take away huge chunks of your life. So, add the grenade damage to the non-stop damage you take from gun toting thugs and you have yourself a frustratingly difficult arcade shooter.
Second, the controls suck. I know, I know, it sounds like the classic “Blame the controls because you suck at the game” excuse but this time it’s true, the controls really do suck. The cross-hair is sluggish to control for small movements which is O.K., but then if you have to move from one side of the screen to the other quickly, it goes from O.J. Simpson Bronco chase slow to Space-Ball One ludicrous speed in less than a second. It moves so fast that you can actually loose sight of the cross-hair against the mostly dark backgrounds and there’s no option to adjust the cursor sensitivity so you have to adjust your game play to the bad controls.
My third and final gripe about the arcade shooter sequences is about the reloading, it takes forever. Ok, maybe not forever but when you’re being shot at from multiple places while taking damage it feels like an eternity. In reality, it takes about 2-3 seconds for the reloading animation from start to finish but again, that may as well be 2-3 hours when you’re getting shot up in the game.
After the shooting sequences, the game starts to mix things up by throwing in some 2-D fighting segments similar to Way of the Warrior or Street Fighter The Movie The Game. You fight against the main villain of the game, Simon Phoenix, multiple times through out the game in these fighting sections. You can only perform a small selection of basic punches and kicks during the fights. These fights are unimpressive at best since there’s no special moves you can perform. Also, the fighting controls are sluggish and clumsy. It’s classic digitized 2-D fighting to the core.
So now that we got the arcade shooting and fighting sections out of the way, we can move on to the final two parts of the game. The driving sequences and first person shooter sequences. I told you this game does a little bit of everything. The driving sequences reminded me a lot of Megarace for the 3DO, minus all the shooting. You control a car that’s in pursuit of another vehicle being driven by Simon Phoenix. Again, the controls pretty much kill this part of the game as well since the car is very sluggish to control.
The driving sequence is very brief as it moves quickly into another 2-D fighter sequence where you fight Simon Phoenix, again, while on top of the two moving vehicles involved in the car chase from the previous part of the game. When I saw that I had to fight Simon Phoenix, again, I was ready to quit playing. Seriously, you fight the main villain in this game multiple times throughout the entire game. Imagine if Mario fought Bowser at the end of every level in Mario Brothers, that’s what this game is like!
Lets keep moving as there’s one last stop on the tour through the various parts of this game, the first person shooter section. Alright, this game has enough stuff squeezed into it that adding in FPS sections was just going too far. That being said though, it’s the FPS section that ends up being the best part of the game. You run around through corridors chasing down Simon Phoenix who then starts chasing after you. Basically, you have to play it like Wolfenstein 3D when you fight the giant Robo-Hitler. You run around trying to collect health and ammunition while the guy chases after you, and don’t worry, he will follow you.
Demolition Man Game Play Levels 4 and 5
After playing through all the parts of this game I can easily look at it as a whole and say that the whole game should have been a first person shooter. It’s the best looking part of the game and if you absolutely have to have more than the FPS stuff you could then maybe through in the 2-D fighting. As for the arcade shooting and driving sections, those are useless. I know the developers were trying to come up with ways to have a gamer play through the game as the movie played out on the big screen but you don’t have to do that with video games.
The graphics vary through out the game as it really depends on which part you’re playing. If you’re playing the arcade shooter sections, the graphics are a step up from Lethal Enforcers. The movements of the thugs on the screen are poorly animated. This poor animation kills the digitized images of the human actors playing the thugs since it ends up looking like animatronic people moving around on the screen.
The poor character animations have the same affect on the 2-D fighting sequences. The digitized images of Sylvester Stallone and Wesley Snipes look good but it all breaks down when they start moving. Again, it just looks like animatronic people fighting.
Things get a little better in the driving section of the game as the cars and backgrounds have a crude 3-D rendered look to them. It’s certainly passable for a CD console game but again, the car movements are sluggish and choppy and the graphics aren’t good enough to make up for it.
The game looks its best in the final first person shooter sections. The character animations as you walk through the final stage are much smoother than any other movements in the game. The levels look good, not great, but good. It certainly looks a lot better than Alien vs. Predator for the Atari Jaguar and that’s saying a lot for an early home console first person shooter.
As for the all of the non-playable cut-scenes during each section of the game, those look great and they should. All of the 3-D rendered objects and smooth movements during these cut-scenes are a cake walk for the 3DO to pull off. After all, these are the kind of graphics the 3DO does best.
The entire Demolition Man movie played out using only the cut-scenes from the game
Move along, move along. All of the effort put in to developing this game went to the graphics and cut scenes. After all that stuff was put together, the game sounds like they used generic shooting and explosion sounds for everything. Some game sounds even sound down right distorted and raspy. Background music is passable at best but certainly nothing that would redeem the sound as a whole in this game
Collectibility – Highly Collectible
This version of the Demolition Man video game is one of the more collectible games for the 3DO. It’s certainly not the most rare game for the system but it’s not common. It’s worth more than the Nintendo and Sega versions and far more rare. You have to remember that most kids in the early 90′s had a Super Nintendo or a Sega system. Not many kids had a fancy 3DO which meant less copies of Demolition Man were sold. Also, the game play of the 3DO version is unique to the 3DO and Sega CD versions only. Every other version of the game plays differently. If you’re a fan of the 3DO and you see this game at your local retro game store it’s worth picking up.
Average Value – $13 loose, $58 New in Box
Rarity – Highly Collectible with a 62% rating on Rarityguide.com
Happy Gaming and Happy Collecting!
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