Saturday 23 January 2016

Zaxxon's Motherbase 2000 (32X review)

Developer: CSK Research Institute Corp.
Publisher: Sega
Released: 1995

Zaxxon's Motherbase 2000 is a shoot-em-up that was also released as Motherbase (Europe) and Parasquad (Japan).

You play as a rebel force out to combat the Gingili invasion and destroy the central computer that's set on destruction of the Hive Confederation. It adopts an isometric viewpoint like the original Zaxxon but many of the similarities end there; for starters, you can't change altitude and there's no onus on shooting fuel pods to keep your vehicle moving. Instead the objective is to work through nine stages destroying everything in sight while jumping into enemy vehicles to use against them. It's a very cool idea as each vehicle has different weapons and stats that affect how the action plays. However, it's unfortunate that the game has some serious flaws that make this mechanic redundant. For starters, the action is zoomed in too far meaning you can't really see what lies ahead; as a result enemy ships quickly swarm on your direction giving you little time to react. Your ship also moves very slowly and your regular ship is so underpowered that you frequently have to resort to avoiding combat in favour of staying alive. If you do try to engage you can only fire a small number of bullets on screen at a time which leaves you wide open to attacks. It all makes for some unsatisfying gameplay and to top it off the difficulty is sky high with instant death traps that bring an air of cheapness to proceedings. The frame-rate isn't particularly smooth either and there's many areas that induce slowdown. The level design is lacklustre and there's nothing interesting about the environments or their construction. The polygon graphics are okay but the music is repetitive and the SFX (especially the explosions) are distorted.
It's debatable whether Zaxxon's Motherbase 2000 should even be considered part of the series as it strays too far away from the original's core mechanics. Everything about it feels clumsy and it's littered with so many gameplay issues that it's impossible to recommend to anyone except the most ardent Zaxxon fan.
Random trivia: The next game in the series wasn't released until 2012 when Zaxxon Escape was launched on iOS and Android devices.

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