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Review - FMV Action Roundup (PC)

Started by Nightcrawler, September 04, 2013, 07:22:02 PM

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Having recently gotten a new job that has reduced my free time to inadequate blocks to do anything worthwhile in ROM hacking, I needed something to do in small time blocks with a little less brain use for awhile. It turned out to be the perfect time to dust off some old FMV games that I never beat.

To appreciate the era of FMV games, you'd had to have grown up through that time period. They don't age gracefully, have limited gameplay, and people today would probably be better off watching a movie compilation of most of them (if anything). At the time though, it was a new concept and we were all 'wowed' that our computers and arcade games could play video. So, I have a special small corner in my nostalgia heart and some appreciation for these old games.

These reflex games were good for me. I was very pleased to be able to beat these games. Having a medical history with debilitating elbow problems, I previously lost much dexterity in my hands. I have worked very hard the past few years with continued rehabbing to regain as much strength, mobility, and reflex that I can. I've come a long way and my reflexes are getting back to what I remember from some years ago. :)

Dragon's Lair

This is probably one of the most famous FMV games there is. This is a game of reflex and memory. It's probably scientifically good exercise for your brain! You react by choosing direction or sword action while the FMV action is going on in real-time. Thankfully the home version gives prompts and unlimited continues. You will die many times.

The original version didn't give any prompts. I can't imagine it being possible for me to beat this game without prompts unless I spent weeks memorizing and trial and error all of the rooms. The animation is not clear on what direction it wants you to push to match on screen locations. The original is a frustrating mess. The prompts turn it into a more enjoyable test of reflexes. Even with the prompts, sometimes the animation distracts you from seeing them.

That 80's style Disney animation sure is nice. I had a fun time with it thanks to the prompts. It was still hard, but not overly so. Fell into the sweet-spot for challenge for me. However, the game is very short. You won't get more than an hour from this one unless you play without prompts and live in a frustration hell for hours! This game is an icon for early laser disc FMV games. Everybody should spend a few minutes at least with it to call yourself a gamer!

Dragon's Lair II: Time Warp

This one plays exactly as the first one with the addition of having to get treasures to complete the game, which is a poor addition. This time around, you have to get much farther at a time to complete a level/checkpoint. I played with prompts again, but this game is more difficult than the first. Even with prompts it really pushed me to the edge of being beyond my ability to beat. I almost quit. For example, one level I counted 48 button presses needed to advance without restarting. You need to succeed on all 48 or you start back at the beginning of the level over and over. It's very hard. Were there no prompts (like the original versions if I recall), I'd have tossed this game out the window.

However, I was able to advance slowly after enough memorization and reflex like an evil unforgiving NES game! I did claim victory and the animated sequences were expanded over the original game. Although really, the game was one heck of a crazy mish-mash of levels. The whole 'Time Warp' concept was just an excuse to throw together vastly different, insane sequences. The Dragon's Lair? Land Before Time? Alice in Wonderland? Beethoven's Piano? Eden? Yeah, they all go together. It may have worked for Kingdom Hearts, but it didn't really work here. Oh well, you can't fault Disney animation though!

Space Ace

As one might expect, this plays exactly like Dragon's Lair being made by the same people. The main character Derk/Ace speaks in this one and the crazy concept of being able to change from boy to man at random makes for an interesting and silly romp. This game is easier (again assuming you use prompts) than the Dragon's Lair games. I played this last and was able to pretty much breeze through it. I think you end up using the laser much more often so the button sequences are easier and you seemed to have more time to press them.

Fantastic animation again, but I think I finished this in 30 minutes. These games are short and sweet which is their redeeming quality. You don't have to invest much to play. Even if you don't like it, watch the animation sequences on youtube! That's worth it alone!

Mad Dog McCree

For those that have never heard of this, it's a wild west shooter. However, it's a wild west shooter where you shoot at real people and the entire game is FMV scenes. Check out a video on youtube if you don't understand what that means. I used to think this game was pretty fun and had more to offer when I used to play it in the arcades. In retrospect, that was mostly because I never made it very far. It was designed to be a quarter muncher after all.

The opening scenes and first few levels seem to suggest you're going on a fun adventure romp after Mad Dog meeting numerous characters along the way. However, the reality is the game is very short and ends up having little in the story or character department. You never even meet the Mayor's daughter whom is prominently featured in the attract mode until the end, and she has only a few lines of dialogue. The sheriff lasts all of 30 seconds before he's killed off, and nobody else but the prospector has a role worth mentioning. Mad Dog whom shows up in the beginning doesn't show up again until the end, and unless you look and listen closely, you might not even notice you found or beat him.

This game doesn't age well. It was a novel concept at the time, but at least many other FMV games have a little story wrapped up in a B-movie. This game didn't even really have that. However, it's a short game, so if you play it as a short reflect shooter, it's a fun hour of fun. For myself, I was pleased to be able to beat this game

Mad Dog 2: The Lost Gold

While this game is generally more of the same, I think it was improved in several areas. Most notably was the branching paths due to being able to pick one of three guides. This gave the game a little depth. It added some replay value with different areas depending on the guide you chose. It also added characters that stick around to interact with you for more than 30 seconds. In addition, the lost gold storyline combined with mad dog being back gave the game a little more story to go with. It also seemed like a longer game to me although I didn't watch the clock.

I enjoyed this one more than the first, but ultimately it doesn't have a lot to offer today other than some novelty shooting fun for an hour or so. - The central hub of the ROM hacking community.