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Demolition Man (デモリションマン) - 3DO (1994)

Japanese 3DO Cover

In the intro to Demolition Man, John Spartan (Stallone), "the 20th century's most dangerous cop", bungie jumps out of a helicopter into a burning building to take down Simon Phoenix (Wesley Snipes), "the 20th century's most ruthless criminal". Their battle eventually leads to a massive explosion that supposedly causes the deaths of hundreds of hostages that Phoenix had been holding, unbeknownst to Spartan. For this, Spartan is accused of mass manslaughter and is sentenced to 70 years of imprisonment in cryostasis (while we're on the subject, why would you imprison someone in cryostasis as punishment? Isn't the purpose of incarceration to allow the criminal to reflect on their crimes and understand price of disobeying the law? Freezing someone in cryostasis makes it seem like your sentence lasted an instant. Seriously, WTF?) About 35 years later, Simon Phoenix is mysteriously released from prison with a horde of implanted skills and intelligence, making him the perfect killer.

In the 35 years that have passed, crime and all other harmful activities and habits have been abolished (right down to eating salt or having sex). In this ideal utopia, people have become soft and kind, and humanity is no longer capable of dealing with a threat like this. Thus, the only solution is to thaw out Spartan and send him after Phoenix.

The first iteration of Demolition Man in game form was developed by Virgin Interactive and appeared on Panasonic's ill-fated 3DO about a year after the movie's release, and like most 3DO games, it was pretty terrible and way too reliant on the novelty of FMV featuring digitized actors. Surprisingly, Stallone and Wesley Snipes actually did some mo-cap for the game, the lion's share being Stallone's, looking hilarious as he rolls, runs in place, grins ridiculously at the camera, and all around pretends to interact with an environment that's obviously not there and does horribly at it.

The biggest problem with the game is that it tries to be about 5 different games at once and fails miserably at all of them. It starts out as your generic light-gun shooter in the vein of Time Crisis, with very badly dressed, digitized studio monkeys with guns jumping out from behind obstacles to shoot or throw grenades at you. These light gun stages don't scroll, either. They remain static and once you've cleared a screen you just move on to the next, with a little cutscene of digi-Sly doing random stuff interspersed with actual movie footage to segway into the next gameplay area.

At the end of the first light gun stage (and the end of every stage hereafter), though, the game throws a curve ball at you. All of the sudden, it looks like you're playing Mortal Kombat and you and digital Wesley Snipes start punching and kicking each other. These 1-on-1 fights are really horrible, boiling down to what's essentially a glorified rock/paper/scissors match. Your three action buttons make Spartan punch high, low and kick. Phoenix has the same set of commands. Trying to simply beat on Phoenix will get you killed really fast. You pretty much have to sit there and wait for Phoenix to attack. You have two routes to take when reacting to Phoenix's actions. You can beat Phoenix's attack by using the appropriate counter (kick beats high punch, high punch beats low punch, low punch beats kick), or you can use the same attack as Phoenix to deflect his attack and stun him for a second. You can also duck and perform sweeps and Mortal Kombat-style uppercuts. The uppercut doesn't work too well, but the sweep is actually really useful and Phoenix will just stand there and take it 90% of the time. You can also jump, but the only purpose this serves is to dodge the sweep. Any way you slice it, both you and Phoenix have a lot of health and each successful attack does a minuscule amount of damage, so these fighting scenes are going to last a LONG ASS TIME.

The second stage drops the light gun motif and opts for FPS gameplay. This involves you going down a bunch of identical looking corridors searching for Phoenix and shooting random thugs in between. This wouldn't be too terrible if it weren't for the fact that during these sequences, Spartan is holding a radar that takes up about 1/3rd of the fucking screen. All this radar shows are the enemies (red dots) and Phoenix (yellow dot), not the terrain, so it's essentially useless on top of obscuring the bad guys from sight. You also only have one gun (a pistol) and some grenades that tend to hurt you more than your enemies.

Finally, there's a car chase sequence that functions as the most boring racing game of all time. You're driving down the straightest highway ever built (in Southern California, no less), dodging random cars and trying to catch up to Phoenix. As long as you don't hit too many other cars, you'll catch up to Phoenix, after which another 1-on-1 fighting sequence begins with you and Phoenix fighting on top of your cars.

On the bright side, thanks to the 3DO's advanced (at the time) media compression techniques, Demolition Man has lots of perfect-quality voice samples and music ripped from the movie, and the clips from the movie are far less compressed and artifacted than the usual CD fare. Still, this game really sucks. The only positive thing I can say about it is that it's ambitious. It tries hard to capture the intensity of the movie and make itself feel epic by going through several styles of gameplay, but it ultimately fails.


Demolition Man (3DO)

Demolition Man (3DO)

Demolition Man (3DO)


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Additional Scresnshots


Demolition Man - SNES, Genesis, Sega CD (1994)

American SNES Cover

Fortunately, the version of Demolition Man that appeared on the more mainstream consoles wasn't a port in any way of the 3DO version. Instead, this version was developed by a small house within Acclaim and takes a much more traditional approach by making the game a straightforward yet intense run 'n gun shooter with the occasional overhead romp a la Contra III. You'll run across the stages, shooting thugs and navigating the harsh terrain. The stages are really big and dynamic and have lots of nooks and crannies to explore. One particularly cool thing about the sidescrolling stages is how vertical they tend to be, with lots of climbing and ledge hopping to get to higher levels.

I really can't stress enough how dynamic the stages are in Demolition Man. You'll barely take more than a few steps on flat ground. There's always obstacles and terrain of varying height jutting up in front of you, from electrical towers connected by ziplines to bungie-jumps off collapsing buildings. In one stage, you'll track Phoenix through a complex network of pipes, and you'll only be able to see yourself or Phoenix through small holes. In another stage, you'll spend almost the entire time jumping from zipline to zipline through a huge cavern. The graphics during these sidescrolling segments are fairly pleasant. The mediocre spritework is made up for by some really incredible detail and expert use of shading and color. The music, while nothing to write home about, is catchy and keeps with the pace of the action. The Sega CD version actually has some really nice, ambient pieces (particularly Phoenix's boss theme) that use voice samples from the movie.

Unfortunately, not all is well with this version. Foremost, the controls are a bit rough. Spartan has a pretty sad little jump straight up that really isn't good for anything aside from reaching a ledge just overhead. Pressing forward and jump makes Spartan do an elongated Prince of Persia-style jump that has a fixed length and attempting to do anything with it once your feet leave the ground tends to lead to Spartan having a mid-air seizure before falling to his death (you die if you fall about a screen's length, FYI). Also, once Spartan gets going, he goes way too fast and stopping before encountering pitfalls and other environmental hazards can be difficult. Another problem is the gunning. You can't see your bullets, and since the sprites are fairly small and your enemies typically far away, getting the trajectory right can be a little frustrating.

And then there's the overhead stages, which just suck. Your objective is to rescue civilians, but these sequences are more like an old game of Gauntlet than anything else, with a constant stream of samey bad guys coming toward you. Also, there tend to be bombs all over the place that are barely visible amidst the backgrounds, and if you get to close too them you lose a massive amount of health. On top of that, they look really bland compared to the rest of the game. Fortunately, these stages tend to be very brief and the civilians are usually easy to find.

Ultimately, what hurts Demolition Man the most is its unreasonable difficulty. You lose health just for touching badguys, and your health is fairly limited. You can buffer your health meter by picking up kevlar vests, but these are pretty rare. As I mentioned earlier, falling even a little is harmful or fatal depending on the height. The boss fights with Phoenix can be a little ridiculous (it took me about 20 minutes to figure out how to beat the second boss fight on the easiest difficulty setting thanks to there being a lack of any FAQs for the game). And most annoying of all, the enemies respawn CONSTANTLY. They never give you a moment of peace to navigate a complex platforming segment. This is extremely frustrating because trying to shoot while platforming tends to get you killed more often than not, so you'll pretty much have to ignore the badguys while negotiating precarious terrain and take a few bullets in the process.

In spite of all of this, however, Demolition Man is still a really solid game. It certainly isn't taking home any awards, but when stacked up against most movie tie-ins, the game is well above average. More importantly, its eclectic structure keeps the game from getting stale or repetitive, constantly throwing some really cool and fun set pieces at you.

The first version of Acclaim's Demolition Man was released on the Sega CD in October of 1995. It boasts highly compressed clips from the movie, crisp voice samples and redbook audio music. The Genesis version is basically identical, but with chip-produced music and no movie clips. Much life Cliffhanger, the SNES version seems to be a port of the Genesis version, as the graphics and music are only a very slight improvement and don't at all take advantage of the SNES's superior sound and graphics capabilities. The best version all around is the Sega CD version. The loading is pretty fast and the redbook music makes a bit of a difference. Plus, the movie clips are pretty cool in spite of being really grainy. Other than that, stick with the Genesis version and avoid the SNES version completely.

One thing worth noting about Acclaim's Demolition Man is that it was one of the first action games that Paul O'Conner worked on as a lead designer. For those of you who don't know, Paul O'Conner is the creator of the much loved Oddworld series, which he would go on to produce just a few years after his work in Demolition Man.

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Demolition Man (Genesis)

Demolition Man (SNES)

Demolition Man (SNES)

Demolition Man (SNES)

Demolition Man (Sega CD)


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Sega Genesis Screenshots


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<<< Prior Page

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Page 1:
Cliffhanger

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Demolition Man

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Judge Dredd

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