Missle Command 3D

Atari Jaguar

by Silverblade the Grey Wanderer

This article submitted by Silverblade the Grey Wanderer (tanatoes@netcom.com) on 12/8/95.

Heyah All!

Well, I'm a little startled that there's been no reviews of Missile Command 3D here already, so I'll endeavor to review the game as thoroughly as I can.

Quick summary: This game is a must buy for anybody with a nostalgia for the old days when games had playability and a great "buz" to them. It also has eye candy enough to satisfy the modern next-generation gamer.

In keeping with the 2000 series precedent set down by the Yak (all praise his name) Missile Command 3D has 3 modes of play. Classic mode, 3D mode (which is an update of classic mode) and Virtual mode, which is overflowing with cool graphics and has a nintendoesque feel, complete with different levels and bosses to keep the modern gamer happy.

Classic mode: Here we have something which pretty closely resembles Missile Command in the old arcade format (down to a nifty phosphor burn in effect which makes the game look nice and primitive.) It has the 3 different missile launching towers and 6 cities at the bottom, and all hell falling down out of the sky at you. Of course the graphics are primitive, but the gameplay is definitely there, and it's as good as it ever was. As an added bonus the playscreen is not simply drawn, but is texture mapped onto the "virtual screen" of a device of  your choice. (That is to say, on your TV screen you see a g-shaded object with Missile Command playing on its screen, and you can rotate and scale the object to your own tastes. You can choose a Lynx, a Missile Command arcade cabinet, a TV or nothing. My brother got a huge kick out of scaling the game on the arcade cabinet so it looked as if he was playing lying on the floor under it, although at that distance and angle of course he couldn't see the screen, and he didn't make it through the second wave.)

3D mode: Here we begin to get the eye candy galore. It's still the same game (except that you have several types of missiles, megabombs and firewalls now, and your cities upgrade between waves.) The screen is taken up by a radar at the bottom which shows you something resembling the old MC classic, and the 3D view in front of you. As you look around the screen everything is rendered in g-shaded and t-mapped glory, with bit-mapped explosions, smoke trails and the gloriously done glare of the sun in your eyes. The gameplay however is still Missile Command. Really, I think this is the gem of the cart.

Note that both Classic mode and 3D mode are extremely well tuned gameplay wise. As my little brother said in astonishment "You can't win! It just keeps getting harder and harder." Welcome to the realm of true video gaming, kid. I got a great "buz" playing these games, what with the hectic pace and the careful logic (how much should I be leading by? Should I save my megabomb or use it now to save my a$$? Oh, look, a powerup, I hope I can reach it and still save my cities.)

Virtual mode: Here's the game for the Nintendo reared crowd. 3 levels with 3 waves each (although perhaps the game cycles back and you start again with more difficulty when you win, I dunno, I can't get past the second level.) Big t-mapped bosses with special attacks and vulnerable spots. Lasers which hit automatically, removing the need for careful leading and pre-planning. And all in full 3-D, with things sometimes coming at you from behind. This mode is, above all, beautiful and confusing. It begs for a VR helmet, which is unsurprising, since that's what it was designed for. But I really couldn't get into it. The bosses broke the pace of the game I think. And the 3D nature of the game was too confusing for me. But the graphics are astonishing (from the warping effect of the underwater level to the t-mapped Panser Dragon second level bosses.)

Over all, I think the game falls just short of being a system seller. (With a VR helmet it would sell systems, I can tell you that!) But it has the pace, feel and adrenal rush I associate with the truly great classic games of our time, and it keeps me wanting to go back for more. It may not convert the masses, but it sure as hell is keeping me entertained.

(No scores provided...)

-Silverblade the Grey Wanderer

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