Genre: FMV Developer: Micronet Publisher: Absolute Ent. Players: 1 Released: 1994
A game with a name like A/X-101 will leave you wondering just what kind of game it is. I know it had me wondering since I got it recently – disc only – and had heard the name before but didn’t know a thing about it. I checked online to see what it was and found it to be another dreaded FMV game. It’s a rail shooter similar to Starblade or Sewer Shark just without the branching paths.
I popped this game in and prepared myself for an intro I knew would suck, and it did, pretty badly. It jumps right into the plot of the story, the year 2500, when Earth is about to be brutally attacked by an alien race called the Gurzons. They get word from another race that has developed a super weapon called the A/X-101 but cannot themselves use it. You and a band of three other pilots mount a last ditch effort to stop the Gurzons. Honestly the plot isn’t even good enough to fall into the “get it done” category as it’s just plain awful. Most of the intro has spoken dialogue, but I had a hard time following it since the music is too loud and drowns out the dialogue, another lame fault for the programmers.
The next thing A/X-101 just plain fails at is with the music, which is so random and out of place that it had me laughing at the awkwardness. It was used in all the wrong places, and it never works. For example, there are a few times when the game tries to go with some melodramatic or somber parts, and the music had me in stitches at a time when I was supposed to be sad! The sound effects are also about as poor as it gets. There’s no music during gameplay just the sound of your weapon fire, the enemies, and the painfully bad sound of your spaceship’s engines.
The gameplay is pretty basic, as with most FMV games. A and C shoot your lasers, and B shoots a bomb that destroys everything on the screen. If you don’t fire for a while your lasers will charge up, and you can shoot a powerful shot that will kill some of the weaker enemies in one shot. You have shields that slowly take damage as you’re hit but also regenerate slowly, and that’s about all there is to the game.
A/X-101 isn’t terribly long, and I finished it in about thirty minutes or so on normal mode, burning through all of my continues. I finished it on normal mode, and it got pretty tough towards the end since most of the enemy fire was hard to see and would drain my shields in only a few hits. The other thing that makes this game so hard is the washed-out graphics. I know the Sega CD wasn’t capable of really good video, but what’s here is bad even for the its standards. Everything is very blurry and hard to make out, so it really kills this game.
I guess the main thing that kills the experience for me is not the gameplay in and of itself but just the overall presentation of the game. An FMV title is just what it is, a game that’s mostly movie and very little gameplay, so games like this need decent story development and characters that you can understand and sympathize. This game, however, has none of that. It rushes the intro, develops the characters very prematurely, and does it all with bad music and video that makes it very hard to tell what’s going on. This makes for one bad formula for a game. It also doesn’t help that it seems to borrow a little too much from Star Wars. I had the joy of flying through numerous trenches and got to destroy not one but two reactor cores. Come on Micronet! We need more imagination here!
A/X-101 is an obscure game and a bad one at that, and it has a name that left a pretty vague perception in most gamers’ minds when it was released. That’s probably for the better, I think. If you haven’t heard of it before then don’t bother looking for it, as you’d just be disappointed. Now, if you’d excuse me, I’m out of aspirin, and I need to go and let my head hurt in peace.