Monday 29 February 2016

Cadillacs and Dinosaurs: The Second Cataclysm (Mega CD / Sega CD review)

Developer: Rocket Science Games
Publisher: Sega, BMG Interactive
Released: 1994

Cadillacs and Dinosaurs: The Second Cataclysm is a rail-shooter that bears no resemblance to Capcom's Arcade beat-em-up from 1992.

Your mission is to restore the balance of life and prevent the Second Cataclysm under a strict time limit of one hour. There's nine chapters with the first six taking place in a jungle; here you need to manoeuvre a car through auto-scrolling levels, shoot debris that litters the track and reach the exit. Taking too much damage will wreck your vehicle but crystals can be collected to repair it. The action moves at a frenetic pace but the first chapter takes forever to beat and the otherwise awesome driving sections start to wear out their welcome. Checkpoints are too spaced out and the FMV footage is so grainy that it's difficult to see what's up ahead; the draw distance is poor so lots of trial and error is required to advance. Speaking of which, there's usually only one correct route but the game does a terrible job of signposting, leading to lots of aimless wandering. It's mind-numbing and a more structured and linear gameplay method would have been beneficial. For the last three chapters you mercifully ditch the car and head inside a tomb for what resembles a rollercoaster ride; it takes place in a first-person perspective and here you only control the crosshair. This reticule moves too slow, yet you're expected to hit an onslaught of enemies at the side of the screen, as well as rocks on the track. The terrible draw distance also reeks havoc on trying to plan ahead which stacks the odds against you. Weirdly, the art style here is realistic which doesn't fit with the cartoony look of earlier chapters. The game's presentation is of a very high quality though with lengthy cut-scenes and fantastic voice acting.
Cadillacs and Dinosaurs: The Second Cataclysm is ill-conceived as the driving sections aren't enough to carry almost a full game. Perhaps if some beat-em-up levels were developed to break up the action and harken back to the original Arcade game this could have been great but what's here is too repetitive and poorly executed.
Random trivia: The game was later ported to the PC.

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