Sunday, November 8, 2009

Retro Game of the Day! Sewer Shark

Retro Game of the Day! Sewer Shark

Sigh. Sega-CD. This is one topic I've been careful not to touch thus far on Retro Game of the Day. Alas, there is only so much time which can pass, and eventually this too much come. And so, I give you Sewer Shark, by Hasbro/Digital Pictures/Sony Imagesoft/John Dykstra et al. Released 1992 at the Sega-CD system's US launch, and later ported to the 3DO. And available now on YouTube.

When the Sega-CD system was announced, it was definitely a pretty exciting time in video gaming. Cartridge-based gaming suddenly seemed so out-of-fashion, and a single CD-Rom was touted as "being large enough to hold every video game released for a system on just one disc." Not that this ever actually happened, but you know. The NEC TurboCD system was available for some time at this point, but.. no one actually owned that thing! And so the Sega-CD released after much hubbub, and it cost an arm and a leg, and there were three big strikes against it:

1. The Super Nintendo was already a year old on the market, and Sega-CD didn't look anywhere near as good as what we already had been playing over here.
2. There wasn't a strong Japanese show of support for the system.
3. As noted - it cost an arm and a leg. And maybe even a lung and a kidney.

And so, devoted Sega Fanboy that I was (and, I was!), rather than leaping all over the system at release, I wisely made the unusual choice to rent the whole setup along with a couple of games. Sewer Shark was one of these games. And how did it measure up?

Simply put - Sewer Shark was aptly named. This thing looked like someone dredged it up freshly from the depths. It was murky and gross, hardly what you'd call an "attractive-looking package" - yet for the ambience, I suppose it was not terribly detracting. Plugging this thing into my Sega Genesis and seeing Full-Motion Video for the first time was, indeed, fairly mindblowing, I will give them that - though with a harshly reduced color palette, tiny viewing window, and hopped-up framerate - but, even so. The real blow came with the game itself - a rail shooter that almost wasn't even that much, honestly there were pitiful 8-Bit turds that performed and presented better than this.

And still, in spite of my whining, Sewer Shark was remarkable to witness at the time. It wasn't necessarily a pleasant or compelling game experience, but it was an intriguing window into the shape of things to come for us console gamers. In hindsight I am very happy this was just a rental (I would have been kicking myself for shelling out the hundreds of dollars for the Sega-CD setup!) though I would love to get my hands on a frontloader today..

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