Genre: Light Gun Developer: Probe Software Publisher: Sega Europe Players: 1-2 Released: 1994
My poor Menacer sits in its box, thirsting for something to shoot at, and the sparse selection of games available have all been played to death. Then suddenly, as I scour the internet for information on Genesis-related goodies, I come across Body Count. Hmm, an action-packed blast fest filled to the brim with things to kill and blow up…and it never came to the U.S. It seems that Sega, in its infinite wisdom, decided to leave this one across the pond and let yet another peripheral die of starvation. Time to head over to eBay and find a copy!
I tell you, it’s infuriating. Among the few games compatible with the Menacer, Body Count is probably the best of the bunch. It plays smoother and more naturally than T2: Judgment Day, and it’s a hell of a lot more fun than Corpse Killer (big surprise there). It’s arcadey and never lets up for a minute, so why the hell was it never brought stateside?
It’s not like the plot was too troublesome to localize or anything. You’re the lone soldier left to defend Earth against an alien invasion. Along the way, take out the enemy onslaught as you make your way towards the ultimate Doomsday Bomb and save the hostages. Big, nasty bugs are out to eradicate humanity, but they’re nothing against your massive arsenal of destruction! Funny how there’s always the right firepower to save mankind’s hide, but never more than one guy that can use it.
Naturally, you’re not going to give a rat’s ass about who’s saving what, and you’re only concern is going to be how fast you can kill everything onscreen. That means you’ll want the best configuration for your Menacer, which is without all the scopes and attachments, except for the stock. Jam this baby against your shoulder and let ‘er rip! There’s a slew of power ups and bombs available, and though some foes take a bit too long to go down, your weapons are quite effective for the most part. Extra health and bullets drop down the screen like so much rain, so there are always enough supplies to keep you going.
The thing I like best about Body Count is its adaptability. If you don’t have a Menacer, you can use the stock Genesis controller, which works very well, considering that most light gun games are practically unplayable without the actual weapon. Even better is that the game is compatible with the Mega Mouse, so those used to fragging people on their PCs can get right into the action. Of course, the best way to tackle any alien invasion is with your trusty light gun, and Body Count is reason enough to invest in a Menacer.
The easy gameplay is complimented by some slick presentation. Bright, colorful graphics and tons of sprites bring the action to life in splendid fashion. I really like level of the detail Sega added, and it’s always fun to blast everything in view apart. The level of destruction is quite large, and walls become riddled with bullet holes and windows shatter. (Be careful where you shoot though, as sometimes taking out a door reveals a machine gun-toting baddie lying in wait.) You can destroy vending machines, doors — you name it. Enemies look great and bosses are large enough to sometimes take up several screens.
There’s a ton of varied stages to plow though, and while some may be quick to judge the plentiful continues allotted, I’m actually glad to have them. You’re consistently rewarded with energy, but the sheer amount of enemies onscreen at any given time can drain your life bar pretty quickly. Being able to continue right where you left off is very helpful, and I don’t think anyone plays through light gun games for score and skill, so there’s no real reason to scoff at continuing. Two-player games are especially fun, and there’s no end to the mayhem that can be unleashed.
I guess my only complaint, other than the fact that it was never localized, is that Body Count features some of the most bullet-resistant aliens ever seen. I swear I saw some Kevlar under those tentacles! Your standard weapon is much too weak to be truly effective against anything other than the scenery, and you’ll find yourself in a pinch very quickly should you run out of grenades during a boss battle. It’s no fun to get the hell whomped out of you as you scour the screen for power ups.
The bottom line is that you’ve probably already made up your mind if you own a Menacer. You no doubt need something new to play, and while it’s a bit uncommon, a copy of Body Count shouldn’t cost you too much. It’s a shame that it was never released in America, but that doesn’t mean you should miss out on this great little shooter.
SCORE: 7 out of 10