Thursday, 15 October 2009

JD's Videogame Hall of Shame Part 3: Ground Zero Texas

A Sega Megadrive add-on (or rather an add-under!), the Mega-cd was a frequently maligned machine. Riding on the wave of wondrous CD enhanced promises, Sega continued in the early 90's it's misjudged policy of trying to extend the Megadrive's life - rather than developing a totally new console - so resulting in this machine and the similarly ill-fated 32x.

But to say there were no good games for the Mega-cd would be a gross misjudgement. Admittedly, there were many clangers with some even worse than Ground Zero Texas, yet there were also many excellent releases including the futuristic adventure Snatcher, the superior versions of Megadrive carts The Terminator and Flashback and Cryo's excellent Dune.

The shadow of the dreaded Full Motion Video (FMV) was never far away though and the games based around this fledgling technology were generally poor and criminally overrated at the time. One example is the notorious Night Trap (which seems stunningly mundane and almost comical in these times of Grand Theft Auto and Manhunt) and another is this sci-fi alien invasion adventure from Digital Pictures which boasted a ridiculous 110 minutes of FMV!

Set in a small town (why is it always small American towns that get all this weird stuff happen to them?), but likely shot on the cheap in Mexico or somewhere similar, I recall Ground Zero Texas getting some amazing reviews at the time considering the terminally limited nature of the gameplay. I also remember it coming in a very nice double sized box but costing me forty-five pounds from Electronics Boutique - there was no waiting for it to appear on the pre-owned shelf in those days!

It's perhaps easy to see how the reviewers were impressed early on: the game has a nice intro, some great music and the thrill of gunning down aliens can be engaging for a short time; but the FMV itself is horribly grainy and once you realise there really isn't any more to the game then flicking between scenes and waiting for an alien to pop up, GZT quickly loses it's thrill. Even worse is the occasional "action" scene where you take pot shots at aliens in a barn (or some other trite location) which is nothing more than a glorified shooting gallery only, without a light gun.

Perhaps Sega assumed gamers would be too wowed by the new technology to notice the lack of an actual game beneath titles such as Ground Zero Texas, but it quickly became clear to me at the time that it was nothing more than a cheap B-movie with a simple shooting game bolted on and a shocking waste of money.

Forty-five quid....(shudders)

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