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Genre Spotlight: Full-Motion Video Madness

FMV games can either be considered a dark part of video game history or a misunderstood genre. While some treasures do remain hidden in this large lot, they require a vast amount of searching to unearth. The Sega CD hosted its fare share of them, and if it does not have the most FMV titles, then it is definitely a close second. I believe only the 3DO can challenge it for that distinction, though it’s not exactly something many would consider worth fighting over. The unpopularity of these games and the high production values associated with them helped contribute to the downfall of the Sega CD, as well as the eventual death of the FMV genre completely.

 

AX-101

Welcome to full motion video space shooting. I just wish that last sentence was a good thing. Unfortunately, AX-101 is the exact opposite, complete with poor quality video and little action. The whole thing consists of boring video with shooting sequences inserted on it that don’t ever make you feel like you’re actually playing a shmup. When you think about how many true shmups there are for the Genesis, you begin to wonder why you’re wasting valuable life energy on a game as bad as this. In fact, those seeking a FMV-filled shooter would do much better by checking out the Sega CD’s own Silpheed, a title that at least had the good sense to include some actual gameplay. Are you ready to free Earth from the Gurzons’ villainous grip? I know I’m not ready, nor will I ever be.

Bug Blasters

The people at Good Deal Games were kind enough to fix up this game and release Bug Blasters to us years after the demise of the Sega CD. You play as a member of the elite squad known as Bug Blasters, fighting through Los Angeles against the evil General Grub and El Roacho. Interesting enough, this game supports full screen video with no borders, though at the price of grainy video. The gameplay is your basic point-and-shoot, and while it’s not an impressive game overall, Bug Blasters deserves notice for being released so many years after its initial cancellation. It’s also pretty cool that there are six different release covers, each one covering a different type of bug! You can purchase a copy over at GDG’s website. Tell them Sega-16 sent ya!

Cadillacs and Dinosaurs

Most licenses see development as weak platformers. Cadillacs and Dinosaurs goes a different route. The arcade scene got an awesome beat-’em-up bearing the name, while Sega CD owners had to make due with this FMV title. C&D plays out as a third person shooter, and probably the best description of it is as a hybrid on-rails shooter with FMV. You ride along in your red Cadillac while the video scrolls in front of you, and you take out lots and lots of dinosaurs. As far as the genre goes, it’s a solid pick if only because on the fun represented by on-rail games. I’d have preferred that Capcom would have licensed its arcade title to someone instead, but beggars can’t be choosers, I suppose. Still, it’s not a bad game per se, and much more worthy of your time than many others in this feature.

Cobra Command

In Cobra Command, you have been given the command of the L3-XFX, some high tech helicopter or something. Based on the laser disc coin-op of the same name, you fly through exciting city and canyon landscapes, pressing right or left at critical moments, while lining up your triggers for the kill. The gameplay is nothing exciting and while the video isn’t horrible, it does have the frame that troubles so many titles for this system. The intriguing part of Cobra Command is the lack of a story, which is odd for a genre that usually has little else going for it. This is of course, forgiven due to the copious amounts of explosions and bullets that compose just about every second of play. Try if you must, but be ready to leave this one in the bargain bin and go find a copy of Road Avenger or Time Gal instead.

Corpse Killer

If nothing else, Corpse Killer is worth playing through to witness its horribly awesome story and acting. (Worth it alone for the Jamaican, Rastafarian driver) What more could one ask for that hunting zombies on an evil island and chasing after a mad genius? Sometime during the introduction, you’re bitten by a zombie and are trying to find a cure for your slowly occurring zombification while stopping the cause of all this evil. This game represents what I consider one of the best types of FMV titles, horrible gameplay but the amazingly awful acting and story. It’s like playing a B-Horror movie. There’s a 32X version of Corpse Killer too, but the only difference is the quality of the video, so it’s not really tracking down unless you truly need every single 32X release. I guess Digital Pictures didn’t want to mess with such quality cheese!

Crime Patrol

Crime Patrol is a game where one (unsurprisingly) patrols for crime, but where it truly bears special significance is for actually supporting the Menacer gun for play. There are dreadfully few games that do so, and this might give you some incentive to at least try this one out. The gameplay is that of an on-rails shooter with full motion video. You go through four levels of play those being rookie, undercover, SWAT, and Delta Force. I always wanted to be a member of Delta Force, and now I can finally live out this dream in complete video awesomeness. Like many of the Digital Pictures releases, Crime Patrol is another one of those games with horrible acting that leads to comical goodness.

Double Switch

Double Switch bears a close resemblance to Night Trap. You’re put in charge of a camera area watching seven different rooms. If that’s not enough, you have to protect the residents of said rooms while trapping the bad guys by hitting switches. The acting in these types of games is always highly enjoyable, although the difficulty level seems too high. Unfortunately, success depends largely on trial and error in early plays, with memorization being key later on.

It’s funny to think that many of those playing Double Switch now will not recognize former child star Corey Haim. It’s even sadder that some will. Oh the ’90s, you gotta love ’em!

Dracula Unleashed

Different from the most of the other titles listed here, Dracula Unleashed is a mystery FMV game. One explores London searching for clues to stop Dracula, king of the vampires. You select a location, go there, and watch a video clip filled with clues of what to do next. As to be expected the picture quality is grainy, though the story and acting is halfway decent. The only downside to the game is the lateness in which Dracula puts in an appearance. It’s been argued that the mystery angle is perhaps one of the best ways to tackle FMV games, as so well demonstrated by the Sherlock Holmes series. Sadly, Dracula Unleashed tries to produce, but ultimately comes up short.

Dragon’s Lair

The Grandfather of all FMV and laser disc titles, Dragon’s Lair pioneered the genre back in arcades in the early ‘80s. Personally, I always found this game and its many iterations to be to challenging and unforgivable. In case you somehow missed the premise, you watch the video roll and at the correct moment hit the specified direction or the action button. Failure to press in the correct span of time results in an entertaining death sequence. Truly, Dirk has some of the best death sequences in any game. The Sega CD version of Dragon’s Lair plays just as its source did back in the day, except for slight loss of color due to the limited palette. There are plenty of other ports out there, some even cheaper, but if you’re looking for a decent FMV game for your little CD, then you can’t really do much better than this.

Fahrenheit

Fahrenheit is one of the few FMV titles to include both the regular Sega CD and 32X CD versions in a single package, for whatever that’s worth. It’s playable on the Sega CD alone but receives a boost through the 32X, and this supposedly gives it full screen high resolution. You’re thrust into a video putting you in the shoes of a fire fighter. At certain points in the burning buildings you press the correct button to narrowly escape harm and rescue the trapped individuals. The gameplay is the same as so many other FMV ones: watch videos and press buttons at the correct time. The only gimmick this has is its 32X compatibility and its interesting premise involving fire fighters.

Ground Zero Texas

Ground Zero Texas is a game that combines Night Trap and Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Aliens have invaded Texas and disguised themselves as humans. You rotate between cameras of areas and then with the cursor shoot the aliens. As interesting as this whole premise sounds, the game tends to lend itself toward the very mediocre side of the spectrum. There’s not a lot of action going on, and those who argue against the limited interactivity full motion video titles offer have a prime example of it with this release. The dialog and acting is as to be expected, and considering the immense budget spent (more than $3 million), you end up wondering where all the money went.

Iron Helix

In Iron Helix, A robot droid has been dispatched under your guidance to stop a run away space ship carrying a deadly virus, or bomb, or some combination of the two. The robot you control lacks the ability to attack and must instead sneak his way around the ship and dodge and run from enemy attacks. Unfortunately, the “action” parts of the game are presented on a small area, taking up less than half of the total TV screen. The rest is given to status menus and the like. Iron Helix‘s dreary atmosphere and tense gameplay actually set it apart from many other FMV games. It may be light on the action, but it’s different enough to warrant looking into.

Jurassic Park CD

The Sega CD Jurassic Park is a completely different game from its Genesis sibling. It combines the almost dead form of point-and-click adventure types with FMV video sequences requiring the correct input to pass. Your objective is to search the island for dinosaur eggs, and you have a strict twelve hour time limit. The three weapons assigned to you are stun gun, tranquilizers, and grenades. Each one is more effective in certain situations with certain dinosaurs and thus gives the game little more thinking depth. Those looking for all-out action should look elsewhere, but gamers interested in a cool adventure game need to check this one out.

Kids on Site

Take heed! Another younger audience-aimed edutainment title “graces” the Sega CD. It’s strange that Sega would stock up on these types of games during a period when it was trying to be “cool.” As with all the others, it’s not worth your time. Do yourself a favor and flee to the hills as these always turn out atrociously, with little gaming and sub-par learning. Seriously, upon starting this up you land in a construction site and are given your pick of construction type vehicles. Whee! Kids on Site tries to be amusing and comical, but it just comes off as pathetic and a weak attempt. This is not the reason you got a Sega CD, even today, and this has no place in your collection. Avoid at all costs unless masochistic.

Lawnmower Man

Oh boy, another licensed title, and it’s a FMV one at that. I’ll spare you a summary of the movie plot and we’ll just focus on the game instead (mostly because I haven’t seen the movie). The Lawnmower Man just plays out as an interactive film, as so many of these types of games do. Obviously it bares little gameplay reference to its cartridge brothers, and that’s not necessarily for the better. Frustrating difficulty and patchwork design create an awful, awful game. An interesting fact about this release is that it’s considered to be one of the rarest PAL Mega CD games around. Apparently, it was released there with the wrong (U.S.) region code and then recalled, and a new version was never made. Those few copies still around command quite a pretty penny.

Loadstar

Loadstar presents us with nice full screen grainy video and a first person on-rails game. I say on-rails literally as you drive or ride in spacecraft which must remain on and navigate on-rails. The control is severely limited and the there’s not much of an enjoyable story to back it up. Sewer Shark does the whole style of play much better. Graphically and visually it’s a solid game, but gameplay-wise it’s weak. Complicated track controls and a seemingly repeating background and track ruin it. Loadstar is just another example of graphics over gameplay, and it’s living proof of the type of game you should avoid falling into. It may have looked nice when it originally shipped, but there’s nothing here today worth noticing.

Mad Dog McCree series

Mad Dog McCree and its sequel get credit for light gun support in their video goodness. While the video quality isn’t as good as the 3DO version, the Sega CD ports are definitely more accessible, and the any game that lets you use your dusty old Menacer deserves some mention at least. The game is very Old West in its execution, presenting all sorts of scenery and enemies you would find from every western movie ever. The second one plays quite similar to the first and still has you hunting down that evil Mad Dog and his gang. Expect two games of stereotypical western action, with stereotypical Menacer play, and stereotypical FMV type looks. Like Lethal Enforcers but want a game without the choppy animation? Then maybe this series might just be up your alley.

Make My Video series

Possibly the three worst games of all time for the Sega CD (INXS, Kris Kross, Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch), I lump them all together to try and contain the awfulness they represent. I shudder to think what type of person would think this was a good enough idea to commission four of these (the Red Hot Chili Peppers and REM ones never got off the ground). You’re given three songs for each artist and various video clips and then you get to …….make the video for the song. Its just awful. It barely qualifies as a game, and I can’t see how someone at Sony thought it would be a good idea to release these. The music choices are horrible, as is the quality, as is the whole package. The only redeeming quality is you can take the disc and throw it far, far away, so you will never see it again.

Mansion of Hidden Souls

Out of all the games on this list, Mansion of Hidden Souls presents perhaps one of the most intriguing stories or situations for its type. Your character’s sister finds a butterfly, wishes she was one, and then is taken to a mysterious mansion where her wish is granted. Now, you have to enter and find her, before her transformation is complete, and along the way, you discover that she wasn’t the first unwitting visitor to stumble onto this dark secret. This game is a mystery to solve with several rooms in the mansion to explore and easy puzzles to complete en route. Mansion of Hidden Souls may not be perfect, but its premise and idea seems original enough, and originality counts for a lot with FMV titles. Moreover, the Sega CD original is a much better game than its Saturn sequel, which can be played through in less than two hours on the first try.

Masked Rider

Oh crazy dubbed-over Ultraman rejected clips. Masked Rider, or Kamen Rider Zo as its known in some circles, is the story based on some Japanese movie or TV shows. Your main goal is to protect or rescue some kid name Hiroshi from the evil Doras. Your character is also some human/grasshopper hybrid with powers of both. Who but the Japanese comes up with such odd ideas for characters? As with most FMV titles, you press the D-Pad or punch button at certain points or take hits to your health. Survive, and you get to see more of this weird video. If you like the Sega CD Power Rangers game, then this will definitely hold some attraction for you. If only the gameplay were as kooky and fun as the characters and premise, then we’d really have a game! Taken for what it is though, Masked Rider is a campy romp that even FMV haters can’t help but smile at (for all the wrong reasons).

Microcosm

According to the dictionary a microcosm is “a small, representative system having analogies to a larger system in constitution, configuration, or development.” A fitting name then, when you take into account what this game is about. The story in the game is that of two massive evil corporations battling it out on a futuristic overcrowded planet. One of the heads of a company had the other leader infected with a virus and natural medicines dictate that only by shrinking down and entering his body can he be saved. I see either our modern medicine still has a long way to go, or future medical practices are very overrated. Microcosm was ported to just about every CD-based platform of its time, and was one of those promising titles that was supposed to usher in the era of multi-media. The truth? If you want to experience the best interpretation of this plot, go watch Fantastic Journey on DVD

Midnight Raiders

Midnight Raiders has us attacking a familiar enemy target, an oil refinery. I won’t even talk of the political commentary or economic terrorism to be made about this. The first half is the helicopter trip to the refinery, and the second half has you on foot. To no one’s surprise, the game uses one of the two standard FMV play mechanics giving you a cursor to shoot at appropriate times, blah blah, rinse and repeat, nothing special. Sega poured a ton of cash into its TrueVideo line, money that could have been better used to make games that people actually wanted, but what can you do? I don’t really see the need to waste time with Midnight Raiders, as there’s the phenomenal AH3 Thunderstrike for all your helicopter needs.

Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers

How were the Power Rangers able to convince so many of us as kids that they were actually a good TV show? How were they powerful enough to get their own Genesis platformer and fighter games in addition to a CD FMV title? This choice game comes with amazing clips rendered in low color, grainy video ripped straight from the TV show. As the video clips roll you are required to press a button combination at the bottom of the screen. Miss, and the video doesn’t change at all. Instead a health bar drops. If it drops to zero, then the game is over. This barely qualifies as a game even by FMV standards. There is, however, an interesting story behind the making of Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers, and you can read it in our interview with producer Tony Van.

NFL’s Greatest: San Francisco vs. Dallas

In most football games, one controls the quarterback and one of the receivers on offense, as well as the defender of their choice on defense. In NFL’s Greatest: San Francisco vs. Dallas you instead control the coaching staff. You get to pick your team, game settings, and plays to run… and that’s about the extent of it. Videos roll and if you’re lucky, points are added to your score. Should you be unlucky, then the other team gets points. Either way, you’re going to watch the whole thing via recorded video clips that you can expect to see a dozen times over. This disc is just proof that sports and FMV don’t mix. In sports, half the fun is actually controlling a team. If I wanted to watch sports I would simply watch it on TV and not on my Sega CD.

Night Trap

The undisputed king of FMV games, Night Trap pioneered the genre way back at the launch of Sega CD and provides some of the grainiest video and the most awesomely bad acting of any FMV games. You’re given the control of several cameras during a girl’s slumber party and have to trap and stop the invaders. The best part is going from room to room and witnessing the amazing writing and acting abilities just waiting to burst forth! All Sega CD owners should play this at least once, not because it’s a good game but because it’s an cheesy and entertaining one. Also significant to note is the controversy surrounding Night Trap. During the mid ’90s, it was the poster boy for violent games, along with Mortal Kombat. So great was the backlash against these two that it prompted the gaming industry to create a ratings system. Night Trap was also re-released as a 32x CD game.

Novastorm

Supposedly, Novastorm and Wipeout are by the same company (Psygnosis), so you should obviously expect a face paced, fluid, intense racing game, right? Well, you instead have a racing and shooting FMV title. You get to ride some sort of space tracks and fight space enemies while moving at high intense speeds. Again, I point to Silpheed to quench your thirst for hybrid games of this type, and since that game doesn’t use FMV (but glorious flat-shaded polygons!), it looks a heck of a lot better. Furthermore, there are much better versions of Novastorm on more powerful consoles, so there’s absolutely no reason to even waste your time here. As do many games on this list, Novastorm suffers from lack of constant interaction and doesn’t provide entertaining video in its place.

Power Factory Starring C&C Music Factory

Run, it’s another one of those weak games designed with around a music group! This time its C & C Music Factory forcing us to suffer through their horrible gaming experience. Technically, Power Factory falls under the same category as the Make My Video releases mentioned earlier, but for some reason it has a different name, which explains why it’s been placed down here. You’re given the option of designing a music video for C&C and picking out special effects and all the other worthless options. AVOID at all costs. This is another title I can barely call a game. It’s reasons like this that the Sega CD suffered and didn’t get the respect it deserved from the average gamer.

Prize Fighter

Sports-based FMV games can never succeed anywhere as well as regular sports games, so why would someone think a boxing one would be any different? Though if you ever wanted to play boxing through the eyes of someone doing it, I suppose Prize Fighter gives you that option at the very least. As with all boxing game, the goal is to punch your enemies into submission. And what foes they are, facing off against the likes of Honeyboy Fernandez, Mega Joe Falcon, Rex Hawkins, and finally Nuke the Duke Johnson. Props to whoever came up with the name Nuke. Not enough enemies in video games are named after weapons of mass destruction.

Star Wars Rebel Assault

I would be interested in knowing when Star Wars games will stop sucking and will once again be good. It seems for every good title we get based on the source material, we get five that are utter rubbish. I’ll give Rebel Assault credit for being the first (though definitely not the last) Star Wars title to feature actual move clips, even if they took licenses with the story. You get a little control over flight, but the large portion of the game is spent shooting down enemy targets such as TIE fighters. For its day, Rebel Assault was impressive, back before the Star Wars license began to wear out its welcome. Oh, and for the record Greedo shot first.

Revenge of the Ninja

Look it’s an anime FMV title! Revenge of the Ninja follows the Dragon’s Lair formula, which involves watching movies and pressing the correct button or direction when the indicator arrow flashes. The game tends to gravitate towards the easy side of things, and it gives you a fairly generous leniency for button presses, though there are harder difficulty settings that rectify this. That aside, the animation is nice and while slightly grainy, is relatively smooth. Revenge is essentially the same as Time Gal and Dragon’s Lair, but with ninjas and a Japanese setting. Sadly, it lacks the charm and humor of those two titles. In fact, Revenge of the Ninja can be downright dull in places. Ultimately, it’s worth getting if you simply must have all the Wolf Team FMV games in your collection, and its low price and availability makes it one of those “eh, why not?” eBay purchases.

Road Avenger

Wait what is this? Do my eyes deceive me, or is Road Avenger quite possibly an amazing FMV game? How did that happen? Your girlfriend has been killed by the evil SCUM and you must take your über car and stop them. This laser disc port features the standard FMV controls of pressing a button at the right time, but it’s all done so well that you can’t fault it. As far as these games go, the video is of decent quality, despite being a bit grainy, but hey how many aren’t? Those seeking a reason why FMV games had potential or just a good game in general look no further. If anything, you need to play Road Avenger for its awesome intro theme! Seriously, it doesn’t get any better than this on the Sega CD!

Sand Diego Zoo Presents: The Animals

The Animals is nothing more than information on animals presented on the Sega CD through the magic of full motion video. According to the game, one can see and hear over two hundred exotic creatures complete with sixty minutes of video. The problem with this title is that it’s not a game; it’s just an interactive teaching device and a way for Sega to cash in on learning. I suppose you could classify it along with the “why the heck did they do that?” Compton’s Interactive Encyclopedia that was such an early multi-media darling. Fortunately, the Internet makes this type of release totally unnecessary and nothing more than a collector’s item. Not much else to be said about this disc (I refuse to call it a game), so just watch videos and learn about animals.

Sewer Shark

Go, go gadget crappy pack-in-game. Sega really knew how to promote its systems with packed-in killer apps. I mean, which would you rather play: Sewer Shark or Altered Beast? Hmm, on second thought, don’t answer that; it will hurt too much. Sewer Shark is about shooting rats and following the correct pipe maze path. Like the rest of those titles listed here, It has bad acting and writing but not in a “so-bad-it’s-good” way. No, what’s here is bad in the dreaded “you spent your money on this?” manner. Sega could have really done better, and with titles like this it’s no wonder that the Sega CD failed to live up to its potential. If nothing else, Sewer Shark proves why FMV was destined to fail.

Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective series

Surely, the greatest detective of all time, in the greatest mysteries of all time, can save one of the best systems of all time, with not one but two of the best games of all time? Ok, I’ll drop the sarcasm. In truth, the Sherlock Holmes games are just too slowly paced. Both are agonizingly slow mystery quests revolving around questioning people through watching the videos and putting together the gathered clues to solve the case. At least they don’t stray too far from the character of Holmes and his world. The animation is halfway decent, and the mysteries themselves are complex and intriguing, so resolving them will take plenty of wit and heavy thinking. It’s just the pacing and tedious gameplay that do them in. I guess if you’re not scared off by dragging gameplay, you might actually have some fun with these. Thankfully, there’s always the Internet for if (when) you get stuck.

Slam City Starring Scotty Pippen

I said it once before and I’ll say it again. FMV and sports don’t mix. It’s just the cold hard truth. Even so, Scotty Pippen decided to license this brick of a shot and put it up on the Sega CD (as well as a cleaner 32x CD version). Truth be told, Slam City does have one redeeming quality – Scotty Pippen himself performed the theme song. This of course changes everything and makes it worth your purchase. The catch here is that it’s not basketball but street ball. Work your way up the street ranks through five of the toughest B-ballers around, and eventually you’ll take on Pippen himself. There’s really not much more to say here. This is definitely one of those games where the description speaks for itself.

Space Ace

Let’s be frank. Space Ace is Dragon’s Lair in space, nothing more. There, I said it. What’s good about this is that Space Ace is almost as much fun. It might not reach the level of attention its sibling gets, but that has more to do with the inherent flaws of the genre than with the game itself. As expected, Space Ace plays exactly like the original Don Bluth magnum opus, complete with humorous death animations, only now space allows for movements in all sorts of crazy directions and equally crazy encounters. Personally, I prefer Dragon’s Lair because it’s the original and a classic, but if you need to satisfy your fix, this is almost the same game with a new skin. Its an acceptable and adequate way to spend an FMV day.

Star Strike

Star Strike is yet another title brought to us by the fine folks at Good Deal Games. Like the company’s other games, it was left unfinished and unreleased for years, but now it finally has a chance to shine. Unfortunately, GDG’s previous offerings have been slightly sub-par, so just maybe Star Strike will rise above that. Like the other releases, it was able to expand the video and give it to us in full-screen goodness, something that far to many titles on this list were unable to provide. Even so, Star Strike just feels like cheap Star Wars sequences that reek of utter mediocrity. Though as far as mediocrity goes, its on the upside, if that makes any sense whatsoever. That being said, Star Strike basically plays same as Bug Blasters, so if you’re familiar with that title, then you should feel right at home here.

Supreme Warrior

Everyone wasn’t kung fu fighting. Rather, they were playing martial arts FMV games like Supreme Warrior. Actually, no one was, since the public largely rejected the genre. Apparently, its completely real video with actual martial arts maneuvers being performed. That sounds a lot better than it actually is, since the gameplay isn’t anywhere near as good as the choreographed moves in each clip. If you can somehow read your opponents and figure out when to correctly utilize each fighting technique, you might be able to play this game. What that would get you is debatable, as you would also be in the minority or people who have actually played this game.

Surgical Strike

Don’t let the name fool you. This is no medical-based attack game. in Surgical Strike, you must attack key surgical targets and excise them while riding in your fancy and well-equipped hover craft. If you destroy enough targets, you move on to the next level, but miss a target and you take damage. During the course of your mission, you’ll traverse levels will include a nicely-done battlefield, a mountain armed with troops, and an island populated by women. How all this could be coherently tied together is beyond me. It makes no difference though, as the final product is hardly something playable. Don’t even bother here. Surgical Strike doesn’t do anything that other games here already do better.

Time Gal

Thank you Renovation. Thank you for most of the games you have brought to the Genesis and beyond. Your wares have brought me untold hours of enjoyment and still hold a special place in my heart. I do not, however, thank you for Time Gal. Surely, you could have conceived of a better title than this and an FMV one at that. Yeah, the heroine here is cute and ready for action, but why couldn’t you have gone with a Valis-based FMV game? Considering how you’ve since brought the series down to hentai, this wouldn’t have been much of a stretch for the time. Think how amazing that could have been and the way it would have branched out and told how great the Valis mythos are. Ok, to be fair Time Gal isn’t all that bad. Its just a very mediocre FMV play with good visuals, which is still more than can be said for a lot of its competition.

Tomcat Alley

Contrary to my initial belief, this game does not incorporate big, male alley cats hanging out in rough sections of town and doing whatever it is wild cats do. No, this is instead a high flying combat game featuring the Tomcat series of fighter aircraft. Tomcat Alley was Sega’s last game in the TruVideo line and apparently features Active Matrix. Supposedly, this allows for countless different encounters on each of the same missions. As far as quality goes, this was one of the final FMV titles for the system and it shows. The video is clean and quite well done. Other than that, if you like planes and FMV games then you’ll like Tomcat Alley. It’s perhaps one of the best games in the genre and a heck of a lot of fun if you give it a chance.

Virtual VCR

Another idea that never really got off the ground, the Virtual VCR wasn’t all that exciting to begin with. Several other installments of the series was planned, including one starring Prince (who’s infamous contract dispute with Warner Bros. Records caused him to change his name), but none ever came to fruition. This was a serious blow to any chance the Virtual VCR had, and the advent of 3D all but sealed its fate. It’s not a big loss really, since all you could really do was watch one of several “videos,” with almost no interaction at all. Want to see what you were missing? Stare at your visualizer as you play something in Windows Media Player. Same difference.

Who Shot Johnny Rock?

This is one of the questions that has plagued me my whole life. Who did shoot Johnny Rock? Will this vile character be brought to justice? And should I even care that Johnny Rock has been shot? American Laser Games thinks so, and its FMV pulp thriller takes us back to a simpler time in the 1930s, when mobs rule the streets and a nice singer like Johnny Rock could be gunned down in his prime. The game combines detective story with the ability to shoot the baddies, all in your attempt to give justice to Johnny Rock and what was done to him. Unlike other ALG offerings, you have a tommy gun here, and you actually need to buy bullets! Moreover, each “death” costs you cash, and the game ends when you’re out of money.

Wirehead

According to my online dictionary tracking skills, a wirehead is a hacker specializing in hacking into communication lines. The story is one of the more bizarre ones I’ve heard, involving an ordinary man named Ned Hubbard, who has a remote control chip implanted in his brain. Now, a mad scientist is after his unique gift. Somehow, the control of the remote falls to you via the Genesis controller, and you must guide poor Ned through some of the most elaborate scenes filmed for a FMV games. Everything from car chases to and barroom brawls await you! At each juncture in the game, you’re given the options of which buttons to press. As in almost all FMV titles of this nature, memorization is the key to success.

 

After looking back at full motion video titles, its not hard to imagine why the genre failed and died out. There are a lot of bad titles in this long list, but search hard enough and you’ll find a gem or two, even in a list of supposed trash like this. The effects of full motion video can still be seen in the industry today in games like Shenmue and God of War during the action sequences, and as it seems to have evolved into the modern QTEs (Quick Time Events), I doubt the genre will ever make a full blown comeback.

Our thanks to the Sega CD Universe, GameTronik, and the PAL Mega CD Library for some of the screenshots.

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