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Mutant Rampage CD-i: a feeble Double Dragon wannabe

>> Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Typical "Super Gen-D-0" owner says to typical CD-i owner, "I got Mortal Kombat II for my system! I got Mortal Kombat II! Can you get Mortal Kombat II for your machine?" Typical CD-i owner says "no." Both of them are thus convinced they've got the superior system. In a nutshell, that's the problem faced by Mutant Rampage: BodySlam. CD-i owners are used to games with far more depth and sophistication, and yet the poky action of this lame beat-em-up will do nothing to draw fans of the old ultra-violence away from the latest ass-kicking flavor-of-the-day on other systems. In short, you have to wonder if there's a target audience for this disc.

An animated introduction explains that "Body Slam" is a blood-sport of the future, and the most popular program on the "cyber-net". The world of the future is heavily populated by mutants, genetic combinations of humans and various animals. In the game, you take a team of "naturals", i.e. humans, against ten teams of street fighting mutants.

Oops, I said "street fighting". Don't think that this game is related to "Street Fighter", "Mortal Kombat", or the other one-on-one tournament-style fighting games that now dominate the video-game industry. Instead, it's part of the "Double Dragon" tradition -- games in which you scroll down the street and take on small groups of thugs in hand-to-hand or with weapons. It's not a trivial difference: this kind of game has its roots in platform games, and has largely disappeared from arcades and other systems. Fans of the fighting genres apparently prefer the arena-style game, which generally feature larger characters, faster and bloodier action, and a greater emphasis on moves or "combinations".

So "Mutant Rampage" already starts off with one point against it for being part of an obsolete genre. When you start the game, you can select one of three fighers, and pick a team of mutants to go up against. To defeat the team, you'll need to fight through six levels of mayhem in the ruins of one of Earth's once-great cities. Naturally, the difficulty level keeps going up, and you face a boss monster at the end of the sixth level. Basic moves include simple punching and kicking, along with more powerful super-moves and "devastation moves" activated by button two, two and one together, or other combinations of controls. Since using the special moves reduces your health meter as well as that of your enemy, it's best to use those moves to knock an opponent to the ground, then follow up with simple punching.

Scattered throughout the playfields are the usual items of this kind of game -- swords, daggers, and pipes that can be picked up and used as weapons, food to restore your health, "1-ups" to provide extra lives, etc. A "tag pad" allows you to swap in another member of your team, but their abilities are so similar, it's more frequently used to dump a fighter on the verge of losing a life. Tactics are never very complex in scrolling fighters, and this one only seldom taxes your gray matter. The biggest key to survival is to keep opponents on one side of you. Getting between two fighters is suicide. Since you and the bad guys can only connect when you're horizontally adjacent, i.e. side-by-side, positioning is a matter of facing someone only when you're ready to fight them. The mutants don't seem too clear on this, since most repeat the same basic moves: appear on the screen, pass above or below you, turn, come in for a frontal attack. As long as you're ready for it, you can usually dispense with them easily.

The only exception to this is enemies who can attack you from a distance (with laser-eyes, bionic arms, etc.), or some flying winged-mutants first introduced in Rome. You need to aggressively attack them first, even if you have to squander half your health on a devastating move. There are 60 rounds in all, along with six that are replayed with different enemies (including "clones" of the naturals!) if you elect to enter a "bonus round" after defeating team ten, the New York City Cybermutes. The variety of locales is good, although you fight many of the same bad guys from round to round, which gets repetitive after a while. Fortunately, a save-game feature allows you to come back to your game later.

The game is also extremely customizeable, allowing you to select difficulty, number of lives, sound effects and music levels, etc. Since you have three team members, going up to the maximum seven lives actually gives your team 21 lives to work with -- you will be able to finish the game the first time through if you choose that option. Combine that with a difficulty level of "wimpy" and you'll come out of the game with a net gain of lives.

The graphics here are somewhat better than in Animation Magic's Zelda and "Link" games, but the bar for CD-i animation has been raised higher by Vision Factory's Dimo's Quest and The Apprentice, meaning Mutant Rampage comes off as clunky by comparison. Fighting animation consists of two poses: standing, and fist / leg / weapon extended. In the heat of battle you may not notice, but in a genre where the vivid animation of "Mortal Kombat" is being eclipsed by 3-D polygonal games, this is hopelessly behind the times.

As for the animated interludes between rounds, one has to ask "what's the point?". BodySlam host "L. Wolf Jam" appears in digital video animation, interviewing captains of your opposing teams, or mourning their defeats. The animation's decent, if flat, and is obviously re-used from scene to scene. The lip-sync isn't there and the shots often jump cut when they run out of animation. But even if this were Disney animation, it wouldn't add anything to the game -- players are interested in the fighting, not the atmosphere, and the animation doesn't add anything to the game. These scenes don't hurt the game in any obvious way, until you consider two points: first, you're paying for this, and cel-animation doesn't come cheap. Second, unless the fighting scenes are using the extra memory of the digital-video card, dropping L. Wolf could have opened this title up to the base-case audience.

Mutant Rampage: Body Slam isn't without its obnoxious charms -- in some levels, you can knock a mutant's head off and use it to pound his team-mates. But the ass-kicking market is too competitive for a plodding game like this to impress most players. CD-i Arena fighters can only play this or "Rise of the Robots", and those who might give "Mutant Rampage" a chance will find it doesn't offer anything more than did "Double Dragon" or the other fighting games of five years ago. The only difference is: This is on CD-i!

Credits: Chris Adamson

3 reacties:

Anonymous,  October 26, 2009 at 10:07 PM  

Nice to see the CD-i Collective's images still in circulation. Did you happen to leave them credit?

Bas October 27, 2009 at 6:53 AM  

the tribute to CD-i Colective started about two years ago, with our aim to preserve the material here as CD-i Collective is not active/available anymore (except for the net archive, ofcourse). So, yes, and with pleasure. Even more Gir Draxa is offered new webspace at our host, but he seems too busy to get it up and running :)

Gage March 24, 2010 at 9:02 PM  

This game would have been awsome if it was two players.... but it's not, and that's what I think made it rather lame. Still, for a CDI game it's decent (expect that a lot).

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Games 0-F

3rd Degree - PF Magic
7th Guest, The - Philips Freeland Studios
Accelerator - SPC/Vision
Adventure of the Space Ship Beagle, The - Denshi Media Services
Affaire Morlov, L' - Titus
Alfapet - Adatek
Alice in Wonderland - Spinnaker
Alien Gate - SPC Vision
Alien Odyssee - Argonaut
Aliens Interactive CD-i - Dark Vision Interactive
Ange et le Demon, L' - Smart Move
Apprentice, The - SPC Vision
Apprentice 2, The - Marvin's Revenge - SPC Vision
Arcade Classics - Philips ADS / Namco
Asterix - Caesar’s Challenge - Infogrames
Atlantis - The Last Resort - PRL Redhill (Philips ADS)
Axis and Allies - CapDisc
Backgammon - CapDisc
Battle Chess - Accent Media (for Interplay)
Battleship - CapDisc
Big Bang Show - Infogrames
BMP Puzzle - Circle (for ZYX)
Brain Dead 13 - Readysoft
Burn:Cycle - Trip Media
Caesar's World of Boxing - Philips POV
Caesar's World of Gambling - CD-I Systems
Cartoon Academy - Bits Corporation
CD-i mit der Maus - SPC Vision
CD Shoot - Eaglevision Interactive Productions
Change Angels Kick-off - HMO
Chaos Control - Infogrames
Christmas Country - Creative Media
Christmas Country - The Lost Levels - Creative Media
Christmas Crisis - DIMA
Clue - 3T Productions
Clue 2 - The mysteries continue - 3T Productions
Connect Four - CapDisc
Creature Shock - Argonaut (for Virgin)
Crime Patrol - CapDisc
Crow, The - Philips POV
Cyber Soldier Sharaku - Japan Interactive media
Dame was Loaded, The - Beam Software
Dark Castle - Philips POV
Dead End - Cryo
Defender of the Crown - Philips POV
Deja Vu - Icom Simulations
Deja Vu 2: Lost in Las Vegas - Icom Simulations
Demolition Man - Virgin Interactive Entertainment
Demon Driver - Haiku Studios
Discworld - Teeny Weeny Games
Dimo's Quest - SPC Vision
Domino - Wigant Interactive Media
Down in the Dumps - Haiku Studios
Dragon's Lair - Superclub / INTL CDI
Dragon's Lair 2- Time Warp - Superclub / INTL CDI
Drug wars - Crime Patrol II - CapDisc
Dungeons & Dragons - PF Magic
Earth Command - Visionary Media
Effacer - CapDisc
Escape from Cybercity - Fathom Pictures
Evidence - Microids
Falco & Donjon & The Sword of Inoxybur - BMi / Zephyr Studio
Family Games I - DIMA
Family Games II - Junk Food Jive - DIMA
Felix the Cat - Philips Sidewalk Studio
Flashback - Delphine/Tiertex (for US Gold)
Flinstones Wacky Inventions - Philips Funhouse
Fort Boyard: The Challenge - Microids
Frog Feast - Rastersoft

CD-i Games Index G-M

Go - CapDisc
Golden Oldies - SPC Vision
Golden Oldies II - SPC Vision
Golgo 13 - Japan Interactive Media
Great day at the races, A - CD-I Racing, Dove Films, Total Vision
Guignols de l'Info, Les - Canal+ Multimedia / INTL CDI
Heart of Darkness - Amazing Studio (for Virgin)
Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, The - Philips Kaleidoscope
Holland Casino CD-i - HMO
Hotel Mario - Philips Fantasy Factory
Inca - Coktel Vision
Inca 2 - Coktel Vision
International Tennis Open - Infogrames
Jack Sprite vs. The Crimson Ghost - PF Magic
Jeopardy - Accent Media
Jigsaw - Novalogic
Joe Guard - DIMA
John Dark: Psychic Eye - CapDisc
Joker's Wild!, The - Accent Media
Joker's Wild Jr., The - Accent Media
Kether - Infogrames
Kingdom - The far reaches - CapDisc
Kingdom 2 - Shadoan - CapDisc
Labyrinth of Crete - Philips Funhouse
Laser Lords - Spinnaker
Last Bounty Hunter, The - CapDisc
Legend of the Fort - Microids
Lemmings - DMA Design / Psygnosis
Lettergreep - Wigant Interactive Media
Lingo - SPC Vision
Link - The faces of evil - Animation Magic
Lion King, The - Virgin Interactive Entertainment
Litil Divil - Gremlin Graphics
Litil Divil 2: Limbo Years - Gremlin Graphics
Lords of the rising sun - Philips POV
Lost Eden - Cryo (for Virgin)
Lost Ride, The - Formula (Lost Boys)
Lucky Luke - The video game - SPC Vision
Mad Dog McCree - CapDisc
Mad Dog McCree II: The lost gold - CapDisc
Magic Eraser - Circle (for ZYX)
Mah-Jong - Japan Interactive Media
Making the Grade - 3T Productions
Man Before Man - Cryo
Marco Polo - Infogrames
Mario Takes America - CIGAM
Master Labyrinth - AVM AG/HQ
Mega Maze - CapDisc
Memory Works, The - Compact Disc Incorporated
Merlin's Apprentice - Philips Funhouse
Microcosm - Philips Freeland Studios
Micro Machines - Codemasters
Monty Python's Invasion from the Planet Skyron - Daedalus CD-i Productions
Mutant Rampage - Body Slam - Animation Magic
Myst - Sunsoft (for Cyan)
Mystic Midway - Rest in pieces - Philips POV
Mystic Midway 2 - Phantom Express - Philips POV

Compact Disc Interactive

Compact Disc Interactive

Games N-Z

Name that tune - Philips Fantasy Factory
New Day - Bits Corporation
NFL Hall of Fame Football - Philips POV
Othello - HMO
Pac Panic - Philips ADS / Namco
Palm Springs Open - ABC Sports / Fathom Pictures
Pool - SPC Vision
Pinball - CapDisc
Plunderball - ISG Productions
Power Hitter - ABC Sports / Fathom Pictures
Power Match - Two's Company
Pursue - BEPL
Pyramid Adventures - Compact Disc Incorporated
RAMRaid - PRL Redhill
Return To Cybercity - Fathom Pictures
Riddle of the Maze, The - Fathom Pictures
Riqa - Bits Corporation
Rise of the Robots - Mirage Technologies
Sargon Chess - Spinnaker
Scotland Yard Interactive - AVM AG/HQ
Secret Mission - Microids
Secret Name of Ra, The
Shaolin's Road - Infogrames
Skate Dude - Viridis
Smurfen, De - De Telesmurf - Infogrames
Solar Crusade - Infogrames
Solitaire - BEPL
Space Ace - Superclub / INTL CDI
Space Ranger - Studio Interactive
Special Operations Squadron - SPC Vision
Sport Freaks - SPC Vision
Star Trek - Philips POV
Star Wars: Rebel Assault - LucasArts
Steel Machine - SPC Vision
Striker Pro - Rage
Strip Poker Live - Greenpig Production
Strip Poker Pro - Interactive Pictures
Super Fighter - The Super Fighter Team / C&E
Super Mario's Wacky Worlds - NovaLogic
Surf City - Philips Sidewalk Studios
Tangram - Eaglevision Interactive Productions
Taco's Toyroom Troopers - Creative Media
Tankdoodle - Creative Media
Tetris - Philips POV
Tetsuo Gaiden - Creative Media
Text Tiles
Thieves' World - Electronic Arts
Tic-tac-toe - BEPL
Tox Runner - ISG Productions
Treasures of Oz - Philips Kaleidoscope
Ultra CD-i Soccer - Krisalis
Uncover featuring Tatjana - SPC Vision
Uninvited - Icom Simulations
Video Speedway - ISG Productions
Vinnie the Pinguin - Pandemonium Labs
Voyeur - Philips POV
Voyeur 2 - Philips POV
Whack-a-Bubble - Creative Media
What's it worth - Marshall Cavendish Multimedia / Spice
Who shot Johnny Rock? - CapDisc
Wordplay - BEPL
World Cup Golf - US Gold
Zaak Sam, De - Toneelschool NL
Zelda - The wand of Gamelon - Animation Magic
Zelda's Adventure - Viridis
Zenith - Radarsoft
Zombie Dinos From The Planet Zeltoid - Philips POV

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