Sunday, July 20, 2008

Baseline: Low. Machine Head (Saturn)

Machine Head is a game that came out for the Sega Saturn on May 26, 1997. I am going to low end baseline my review scale with this game.

"See through the eyes of Dr Kimberly Stride as you ride the Vorpal Blade through an insane combination of shoot-em-up action, strategic objectives and B-movie melodrama."

If you look Machine Head up on the web that's pretty much all your find (I think there are about 3 copies available on ebay as well). While it is impossible to know exactly how large the web is (85 trillion megabytes, says Wired), Google searches 1 petabyte of info every 72 minutes. 1 petabyte is 1024 terabytes... which itself is 1024 gigs. Come to find out... there isn't a good scan of the cover art out there. The largest scan of the US version is about a 3k file, the UK version: BLAM! Machinehead was more popular. There are a handful of things on that version. One reason for this could be that Core Designs, Ltd. is a UK based company. Toby Gard and Paul Douglas of Core created Tomb Raider but it's clear that on Machine Head they misfired or didn't fully complete the game just like many others for the Saturn.

There might even be a message from the Core Design team addressing the rushed feel of the game in the Mission Structure description of the game. And I quote: AREA FOUR. The calm before the storm. Not dissimilar to being shown your favorite present ever and then being punched in the face before you can get to it. Repeatedly. Little or no information available.

I feel like I'm picking on the game now... but to it's credit it does have a couple things going for it... (see quote above).

Story: 1
The Story in the Manual is classic Science Fiction stuff... From the Manual; "After much consideration and stealing of food, Callam realized he had accidentally become a God. With a chin full of cake instead of the time honored white beard." Unfortunately it doesn't get translated very well in-game. There are a few moments where I asked myself, "wait... what did I just hear from a Kids to Adults rated title?"

Objectives: 0
The action is fierce, but difficult to know to what gain.

In-Game Design: 0
It wasn't.

In-Game Artwork: 0
Nothing to be found here but an attempt at 3-D on the Saturn and like a few other saturn games, it turns out looking soupy. All the textures are the same. Is that a giant bug? A wall? A key? Wait, that's the door and I need the key? A hill? The main character?!

Audio: 2
It has audio.

Gameplay: 0

Emotional Impact: 2
I'm a sucker for what the story set me up for. Plus, I own it.

Longevity: 0

Historical Significance: 0
None, unless me writing about it gives it one... None.

X Factor: 1
It just seems incomplete. Gameplay is extremely repetitive. Things are hurting me. Targeting is extremely loose.

Package Design: 1
It's hard to look past the gigantic saturn case. The "Machine Head" title looks like it was accidentally moved to far down, the title is in magenta on the side of the box. It is unreadable. I think the press forgot to make the other three passes.

Package Artwork: 3
Gets points for being hand painted and looking almost good enough for me to use it in my blog title... almost.

Summarizing this game comes down to just me just popping this title into the Saturn a couple times and then commenting more on the manual and artwork then the game. I didn't complete it and I don't intend to. Maybe I should apologize for that but my game playing time precious and I intended to keep this blog a de-pressurizing from work creative release and not a job in it's own right. So I am not going to punish myself by playing a game that just isn't that fun and exists in my collection as a game that was bundled with a lot of games I purchased with Nights into Dreams.

Why write about it then? There's always a certain amount of discovery involved. About the game, about the Saturn, about the creative group behind it. I spend a fair amount of time reading about my hobby and it is frustrating to read reviews that are just mailed in. If you didn't play the game, then you didn't play the game. Talk about that... Sorry Gameshark... here's a link to an atrocious review about The History Channel Civil War. (more about this later).

Machine Head is far from being the worst game of all time. It's just the worst game I own... How's that.

I'll redeem myself by posting up a good scan of the cover. Core Design deserves at least that from me.
FINAL SCORE: 0.75 out of 5.0

That is an average.

1 comment:

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