It’s Independence Day here in the U.S.A. and I thought it would be apropos to play the Sega Saturn version of Independence Day (having already covered the Windows version on this blog). However, my Saturn console disagreed. But since the unit was already hooked up, and since I have more than enough Saturn games yet to play, I’ll try a recent acquisition– Defcon 5.
Regrettably, this post will be done entirely without the help of visual aids. I don’t have the capacity to capture from my Sega Saturn on my new PC. I did take the time today to finally crack my new DV capture bridge, purchased some months ago along with the new PC. However, it does not capture from the Saturn. I’m still working on solving that problem (GameCube/Dreamcast/PS2/VCR, no problem). The disc also has FILM files for FMV. Regrettably, none are anywhere near interesting enough to commit to YouTube.
Moving on to the actual game, the affair starts off with an overwrought intro FMV characteristic of the early days of CD-ROM games. I fear that this is a prelude to interactive movie-style gameplay. The story has something like — let’s see if I can synopsize this correctly — a mega-corporation that does interplanetary mining has a bunch of space stations to protect their mining operations from alien threats. Thing is, no aliens have ever been encountered in the history of human endeavor, so these stations are really just a paranoid measure whose continued operational costs are increasingly difficult to justify to the beancounters. Budget cuts demand that these stations will go unstaffed in 60 days and will need to have their software upgraded so that they can operate autonomously. The lead engineer — excuse me, cyberneer — on the project got killed upgrading the second to last station. Your job is to upgrade that last station’s software.
Great, so this game simulates the menial, trained-monkey action items performed by futuristic IT peons. However, wouldn’t you know, just as you are trying to carry out your upgrade mission, unidentified spaceships start closing in on this last space station. Could they be the fabled aliens whose appearance might have justified the space stations’ operating budget?
Personally, I tend to think the so-called alien threat really consists of disgruntled, laid-off space station employees in disguise, Scooby-Doo-style.
Anyway, the gameplay consists of Wolfenstein 3D-type gameplay as you wander around this station while a digitized voice implores you to find the control center to upgrade the software. The graphics are primitive by 1995 3D standards but I’m relieved that it’s not a pre-rendered FMV maze. That relief trend sharply reverses as I begin to navigate the corridors. Either my character is a stereotypically, grotesquely obese IT knowledge worker, or there is horrible hit detection in this game– it’s almost impossible to walk between 2 support posts that are more than a meter apart from each other. Plus, you bounce backwards slightly but sharply when you contact an object which makes walking a tedious exercise.
I had a weapon and I know I was supposed to encounter aliens in short order because that’s what the nice lady computer voice kept foreshadowing. But I just didn’t stick around long enough. I later examined the instruction manual that saw fit to publish a 12-step walkthrough for how to complete the first tedious task in the game.
This is what happens when IT employees carry their professional experience over to game development.