Tuesday 29 December 2015

Waterworld (Virtual Boy review)

Developer: Ocean of America
Publisher: Ocean Software
Released: 1995

Waterworld is a shooter that was released exclusively in North America and it's based on the 1995 film of the same name.

You play as a Mariner and your objective is to stop a gang of Smokers from enslaving the Atoller people. The game takes place at sea and before each round a number of Atollers lie in the water waiting to be rescued; waves of Smokers invade and you must use your ship's cannon to destroy these enemies before they return back to shore with an Atoller. The most important person to protect is a little girl called Enola as she allows you to gain big points at the end of each round if unharmed. The game ends when you've either lost all your lives by colliding with Smokers or when every Atoller has been captured. For a 1995 release the gameplay is basic and combines Defender (1981, Arcades) with Rip Off (1982, Vectrex). The developers clearly tried to emulate early 1980s Arcade shooters but the execution is poor. For starters, the action isn't fast-paced enough, the controls are unresponsive and your ship takes forever to turn. The frame-rate is also downright awful at times which makes it hard to accurately line up your shots. The most puzzling aspect is that it feels as if you're in an expansive world (especially when the camera zooms out at the end of each round) yet the developers only let you battle in a tiny area that's filled with nothingness. The difficulty is forgiving but after one or two play-throughs it feels like there's nothing else to see as there's only one mode and one difficulty setting on offer. Bizarrely, when you run out of lives the end credits show up on screen no matter what your score was! The graphics are a pixilated mess with barely any scenery and the lack of colours on the VB hurt the presentation as the sea is represented with black while everything else is red! As a result the 3D is barely noticeable with nothing really popping out of the screen.
Waterworld has outdated gameplay mechanics, many technical issues, barely any features and it doesn't cater to the system whatsoever. It has the stench of an early tech demo that was rushed to release and after a few minutes you'll be ready to move onto something with more substance.
Random trivia: Different versions of the game were released on Microsoft Windows, MS-DOS and the Super Nintendo.

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