Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Escape From Monster Manor: Cheesy Immortals

Ah, the 3DO...or is it 3D0? I never know. Released in 1993 as a sort of "mature" video game console; It was plagued with the sorts of problems all early CD-based consoles had, 700 MB of space and nary a clue of what to do with it. Keep in mind, your typical non-CD title reached 4 MB at this time. Its no surprise that FMV shovelware littered these consoles. Makes that price of 699$ in '93 money a hard sell.
Now, of course there were actually good games released on the 3DO, because you don't last 3 years on shovelware alone, its just that if you're not rich, little justifies the pricetag. I have a favorite on the console and I wouldn't pay that price...probably because it was ported to Windows later. But today's not that favorite, today's Escape From Monster Mansion. I'm in a mansion and I need to find talisman pieces to stop an ancient evil. That sounds suspiciously like a certain shareware PC game I just finished that wouldn't cost me the same as a decent stereo setup.

An intro cutscene, making real use of that CD. There's a cheesy narrator talking up the horrors of the mansion. He's some immortal who tells us we shouldn't be scared, we should be terrified. He goes on to explain the backstory, the talisman was created by a cult for some reason, which protected them against evil. But they were consumed by greed and lust for power, so they torn the talisman apart. This rendered it useless, and caused evil to rise. I'm not entirely clear on what happens next, but the person who brought all the fragments together put them in this mansion, his descendants fled when evil returned, a dark god approaches, and this place is too dangerous even for an immortal. That's either a lie or the truth, but we'll see soon enough. Before I get into it, I should mention the game let's you practice each individual level. Interesting.

It starts off good, no monsters in sight. I get used to the controls. A typical setup I believe. Movement, shooting. But curiously there are three menus. One that just pauses, one that returns to the main menu, one that brings up supplies, from there you can bring up the map.

I walk around a little, there's a spirit phasing in and out of visibility, but he's just scenery. The real monsters are these hilarious claymation puppets. I think they're claymation anyway. They die in one hit, and whenever you get hit you give off the Doom wall-humping sound effect, among others. They approach on Catacomb rules, you see them, they attack, you don't everything's fine.

Its a fairly standard Wolf clone set in a mansion so far. Spooky scenery, like this hanged dude, or chairs rocking by themselves. Its a play for points deal, so there is a lot of treasure. The hand reminds me of the one in Nitemare 3D...but it couldn't be the same...could it? I guess the guy behind that has cribbed a few things, but that's fairly major. Anyway, the game itself feels very weighty. The player has momentum in movement and the gun pushes the player back a bit, even though its a lightning gun and there's no reason for it.

There's very little complexity to this game, just walk along a hallway, kill enemies, find items. There are health and ammo items. I like how a sound plays if you have full health/ammo and run one over. Even the boss is simplicity itself, zap him a dozen times, then exit the level.

At the end of the level the narrator talks about the guy who entered before me, and how he's dead. Okay. That's something I needed to know, game. It appears saving only happens between levels. I think the 3DO has a lot of save space for its time, but I could be wrong, its not like I'm playing it on original hardware.
The next level throws out screams and monsters eating people into the background track. That's effective for a level, but I see this going badly if it returns. This level proves more tricky, although its still not very complex. Nothing's ever in the middle of a series of rooms. It opens with three doors, and the one on the right fully opens. It gets tricky in that here the doors are some considerable ways apart. I say tricky, because I thought I missed a door somewhere, but it turns out I didn't. Come to think of it, that might be a subtle sign this isn't that bad.

Once again, the same boss. He got some backup. I didn't mention them before, but there are these skulls that are ranged enemies. They start off human-looking before turning into the skulls. They hit hard, but that wasn't what was tricky here. No, the tricky part is that I run out of ammo. There's no melee weapon, not that you'd want to use it. I have to go back, grab ammo, then come back.

Eventually the lack of supplies hits me hard and the skulls actually kill me. That hand gets pretty beat up, making the whole HUD very subtle, although you can use the supply menu to see the values. However, the skull on the game over screen looks very familiar. Hmm...it must be a stock effect of some kind. Maybe in another EA game...hmm...The second time around I don't have much trouble, probably because I better ration ammo.

This Session: 50 minutes

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