Thursday 3 March 2016

Tomcat Alley (Mega CD / Sega CD review)

Developer: The Code Monkeys
Publisher: Sega
Released: 1994

Tomcat Alley is a Full Motion Video (FMV) flight combat game that was also released on Windows in 1995.

You pilot an F-14X Tomcat and your mission is to eliminate a madman named Col. Alexi Povich. Your plane is equipped with a number of weapons including Missiles and Bombs, as well as a Camera for recon, and Countermeasures to avoid projectiles. The gameplay involves tons of FMV footage and you only control the action by moving a crosshair and selecting the correct icon from the HUD or locking onto enemy planes to shoot them down. The mission variety is good though as some task you with blowing up bridges, or taking recon pictures of enemy bases. There's even a hidden objective if you fail Mission 4, as you then take control of another squad and attempt a rescue mission. The action is repetitive but the large range of enemy explosions is satisfying and keeps you engaged. Once you're used to the controls and learn which button to press in your HUD it's invigorating and you feel like you're in total command. The biggest downfall is that certain moments require you to switch to a particular weapon or item; however, the cut-scenes and HUD indicators don't always guide you meaning trial and error is the only option. Also, some missions have areas where you only have one chance to blow up a target, otherwise you fail; a few of these moments occur at the very end of a mission and it's annoying to lock-on and fire, only for the auto-aim to disengage and your shot to miss the target. At least your progress is saved though so you can pick up from the last mission you attempted. The FMV is decent quality (and full screen too) and I enjoyed the cut-scenes which even include a cheesy romance story!
Tomcat Alley is a decent FMV title that offers intense combat action and some of the best video footage I've seen on the system. You do have limited control over the gameplay and there's a fair bit of trial and error but it's extremely well produced and has an addictive quality that rewards patient gamers. 
Random trivia: A 32X version was in development but was ultimately cancelled.

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