Friday, February 4, 2011

Cosmic Carnage (1995, Sega, 32X)

I believe most people know of the add-ons that Sega introduced for the Genesis. They were infamous for being of low-quality and for basically rehashing old Genesis games, while adding minor enhancements or graphical effects. The 32x was the one that took the most flak, mostly due to the general wretchedness of the titles available for it. Most games for the 32x were just rereleases of other games, much like the Sega CD. But there were a few original games for the mushroom, and this game, Cosmic Carnage, happened to be one of them. Back during the game's release, most critics ripped Cosmic Carnage to shreds, and was one of the lowest rated games of '95. Is really as bad as most people say? I say let's find out.

Surprisingly, Cosmic Carnage has an interesting plot. Not a good plot, mind you, but interesting. The game takes place somewhere in space. A prison ship was overrun by its inmates, and the inmates hatch a plan to escape. They put a distress call for help, luring a nearby military cruiser. The inmates gun the engines and smash into the ship, destroying all but one of the escape pods. And basically, the remaining soldiers and the inmates fight over said pod. That's really it. Like I said. Not a good plot.

The gameplay is like a very slow version of Mortal Kombat. There are four military characters and four inmate characters. A pretty cool aspect of Cosmic Carnage is the ability to augment your character's abilities with different kinds of armor, although only certain characters can do this. This armor enhances your speed and strength, but if it takes enough abuse, it'll break. If your armor breaks, you can't perform special moves.
On that note, good luck trying to pull special moves off! The control in Cosmic Carnage is sloppy. The movement seems a bit delayed and the positioning for the attack buttons is abysmal. Oh, and if you do not have a 6-button controller, you're already basically f**ked. If you really want to invest into this game, and it's questionable if you do, get a six button. Even then the moves are a nightmare to pull off. There is a bit of a payoff though, because if you K.O an opponent on the 2nd round with a special attack, you get awesome GRAPHIC DISMEMBERMENT!!!, Either the opponent's head, arms, or legs go flying off in a fountain of blood, and they even twitch after they slump over! Mortal Kombat ain't got nothin' on this s**t!

Visually speaking, Cosmic Carnage is pretty bad. While I suppose the characters themselves look good artistically and animate well (for the most part), Sega decided to use the 32x's scaling capability. If you know anything about that, you'll know that when they zoom in on the characters, they look incredibly pixilated. Another thing, when any character performs an attack that goes "out" towards the screen does this very odd zooming effect. It's technically impressive sure, but seeing it in action proves to be cringe-worthy. Most of the characters just look bizarre (and awesome), such as Cyclic with his beetle-head, or Naja, who is basically a big snake. The background graphics look pretty nice, however, but that's not always the case.

Cosmic Carnage also has another problem Mortal Kombat has; The A.I plays too precisely. Almost all of the characters on the normal difficulty (3) will block almost everything you can dish out, and they'll turn around and slaughter you in two seconds. The only way I managed to beat Cosmic Carnage was by throwing my opponents over and over again, and it takes forever to wear their health down this way. On the audio side, Cosmic Carnage does have a nice soundtrack, nothing I would listen to a MP3 of though. The sound effects are standard "biff" sounds that get the job done, I suppose.

The ending is excruciatingly bad. See, when you defeat all the other fighters in the game, you are shown running into the escape pod. This scene takes a surprising amount of time. I then saw a small blue timer in the corner. The timer ran out and the screen went white while the escape sequence was still happening. The game then tells me "Congratulations! You've survived the Carnage! Unfortunately, the ship exploded before you escaped." "If only you could have defeated them faster…" This situation induced an anger-induced heart attack that I quickly recovered from (somehow).

Cosmic Carnage is the perfect example of the "OK game". The major problems such as the bad controls and pixelated graphics, are "balanced out" so to speak by the unique mutant-like appearance of the fighters and the good music. There are much better fighting games out there, even for the 32x, but as it stands it's not unplayable. It's pretty cheap, so if you have the curiosity (or the patience), you should check it out sometime.


PROS: Decent background graphics, somewhat catchy music, cool artistic design for the fighters, neat armor mechanic, GRAPHIC DISMEMBERMENT!!!!!

CONS: Bad controls, Really sloppy sprite scaling, Stupid "Zoom" effect for some attacks, silly plot, stupidest ending in any fighting game, bulls**t A.I.


(Note: If the spacing between the paragraphs looks a bit wide, I typed this in Word, and it makes it look like this. I'll be sure not to do that anymore.)

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