>> Monday, July 30, 2007
The Earth is under attack. "The evil Guardian's Forces are in control. Only a few continue to resist and only a you can help. Your mission is to survive the dangers of CyberCity. Fight you war to the train and destroy the Guardian's planet. Beware: Things are not what they seem... Escape From CyberCity is the first CD-interactive action adventure to utilize full-cel animation, giving the player the feel of starring in a fast action motion picture. This beautifully animated production features a dynamic, high impact soundtrack and complete interactive play." - According to Fathom Pictures, at least. But what do we think about Escape from Cybercity?
A very old title for the CD-i, Escape from CyberCity still impresses with its japanese cel-animation and fast action... even if you have to play it five times before you score a single point. It's the home version of a little seen arcade game -- I played it a few times at a Malibu Fun Center in Redwood City, California, and never got past the ''manholes'' sequence -- with just a one-time-only ''slow down'' button removed in the CD-i conversion.
CyberCity is a shooting game cobbled together from scenes from two japanese animated films, ''Galaxy Express 999'' and ''Aiedu Galaxy Express''. They've been made into a game by putting cross-hairs on the screen, allowing the player to shoot back at onscreen enemies. The game gets into a system of showing the player a street corner, waiting for a joystick move right or left to pick a path, and then shows robots, soldiers, tanks, etc., all of which the player has to quickly aim at and shoot to survive.
Where the animation doesn't have enough bad guys, the CD-i animates some characters on top of the cel-animation. Because of the choppiness of both kinds of animation, the effect works quite well -- you can tell the cars on the highway are computer-animated, but maybe not the jump-troopers.
This game is TOUGH. If you move right at the first corner, you look up to a building. One of two windows lights up and a sniper opens fire on you. If it's the left window, you've got a chance of aiming and shooting in time. If it's the right, you're in trouble.
Later on, there's an alley with a group of manholes that bad guys pop out of and throw bombs at you. It can take hours of play before you get through this sequence, even though the first one is always at the front- right or rear-left.
Once you start to get a quick trigger finger, you'll progress quickly through the game. After the manholes, the most difficult sequences in the game are a shootout in the passenger car of a train flying through space (don't ask) and the final escape sequence, which requires a lot of experimentation or help from a friend to figure out.
If you make a certain sequence of moves early on, you can actually get through the entire game in less than ten minutes. If you don't, you could end up in a loop and never get out of CyberCity. While I appreciate the fact that there are multiple paths through the game, the straight-forward path (tank, manholes, tank, highway) is too brief -- you should have to go through at least one more sequence to get out of the city. It's just too tempting to avoid near-impossible sequences like ''Skateboard City''.
The final sequence is also frustrating, and you'll probably need a hint to finish the game: the sequence of colors seen on the reactor you shoot out is the sequence of colored tunnels you need to drive the train through to escape.
Shooting with a joystick-style controller is adequate, if somewhat inaccurate and uncompelling. The game is actually better played with a trackball or even the kiddies' roller-controller. I don't know if it works with a light gun (such as the one supplied with Mad Dog McCree).
In all, "Escape from CyberCity" is an amusing laser-disc shooter, if you can hang with it long enough to get past the "manholes" sequence. It's more fluid and interesting than the static "Mad Dog McCree" series, and the variability of the game makes it less predictable than Space Ace and "Dragon's Lair". Frustrating... but somewhat fun.
Credits: Chris Adamson and Push-Start