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Bug Blasters: The Exterminators

Genre: FMV Developer: Sony Imagesoft Publisher: Good Deal Games Players: 1 Released: 2000

Now, this is something of a curiosity: A game from the Sega CD that wasn’t published until the year 2000, several years after the console’s demise! Originally to be released in 1995 by Sony Entertainment, The Exterminators was shelved upon completion when the Sega CD was being discontinued. Years later, independent publishing house Good Deal Games got its hands on the rights to the title and decided to release it with a slight change in name. That way, with a delay of five years, Bug Blasters finally found its way into players hands. Resurrected from an assured death, the question remains: Is it worth it?

The intro of the game throws us right into the story, in Los Angeles, where a Chemical spill mutated insects into intelligent monstrosities. In a GhostBusters-like fashion, the Bug Blasters – exterminators with a highly specialized weaponry – are formed to combat the new menace. As you might grasp from the premise, the game is presented in a campy B-movie type fashion. As the intro sequence rolls, the members of the extermination squad are introduced with their names, including the fourth and newest member of the group: “Hugh D. Player.”

Wait… what’s that noise? Did I just chuckle? Yeah, that gag actually was kind of nice! Could it be that I’ve stumbled upon a FMV-game that was actually fun?

So the first mission starts and we’re presented with a huge pile of crap. Literally! The first type of enemy bugs we’re confronted with are stinkbugs, and they throw balls of shit at you.

So much for getting my hopes up, folks!

The game itself is basically a run-of-the-mill rail shooter. A video sequence is playing, over which enemies are superimposed. All you do is aim your crosshair over the enemies and blow them away. You also get a “gas canister” weapon that you can use once for an emergency escape. That’s it.

However, the presentation is godawful! Videos on the Sega CD are grainy in general, but I’ve rarely seen videos as ugly looking as these. The clips are incredibly murky and pixilated though at least they are running smoothly. Fighting the enemies, however, is a joke! The first kind of enemies are simply black blobs that were drawn over the videos and don’t even mix well with the original material.

Even worse, you don’t even see your own shots. All you can do is aim your crosshair over the enemies, push the “A” button and hope for the best. You hear a sound when a shot is fired, but you never see any visual confirmation. Whenever you hit an enemy, a sequence of three clips is played: The gun fires a shot – the enemy explodes – the squad either jubilates or the rookie (aka “you, the player”) looks around frantically. This happens EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. Whoever thought that crudely interrupting the flow of the game every time you hit something was a good idea? And since you always see the same video sequences, this whole stick gets annoyingly repetitive.

As for the story… generally I’d say I was a fan of trashy movies, but this one is just bad. Cinematics show the “mutated monsters” that are nothing more than plastic puppets, including a centipede in a generals uniform and an ant with a gun. For chrissakes, what’s the point of that? I know it’s all played for laughs, but it all comes off as immensely stupid. For example: In one mission, the exterminators are confronted with a couple of giant bees. Suddenly, there’s a mutated insect candy vendor (huh?) offering honey bars (what?). Immediately, the black, obese, “professional” bug exterminator rushes ahead and has to be saved from attacking bees. How is this supposed to be funny? Adding clownish a “boing-boing” or fart sounds doesn’t automatically create hilarity, you know. Oh, and the decision to make the black guy the butt of virtually all your jokes? Class act, really! The horrible quality of the visuals and the low production values don’t help in any way. At least the female member of the squad looks kinda hot.

Honest to God, playing the game is just painful. It’s not just that it’s a stock rail shooter; it’s also combining bad gameplay, a horrible story and some of the worst visuals I’ve ever seen in a horrible combo package that adds up to what I’ve encountered in the very first gameplay mission: a huge pile of crap. I really appreciate the effort of unearthing and releasing a previously unseen game for any console, but there had apparently been a good reason that game had never seen release the first time. And as far as I’m concerned, it should forever remain untouched.

SCORE: 2 out of 10

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