Sunday, May 16, 2010


Zoom / Brain Grey
Super CD-ROM

I remember reading a little blurb about this game in one of Electronic Gaming Monthly's features on Japanese titles that were slated for (or had a shot at) stateside release. Usually, the bits they printed were broad, generic overviews with a positive slant, but in the Genocide one, they actually bothered to rip on the game. I still wanted it, though, as it looked pretty cool in screenshots. Obviously, it never made it over here, and I'd read nothing but negative reviews for it over the years, but I was still excited when I finally acquired it. I had hopes that it would join the ranks of Legion, Energy, and other such titles that possess virtues in my eyes despite the fact that the masses deplore them.

The point of all that backstory is that if anyone in the world were gonna defend Genocide, it'd probably be me. I had that special mix of horrible taste and actual anticipation for the CD. And there were times while I was playing the game that I thought I would indeed take a stand for it. The basic premise is quite promising: a giant robot with laser sword in hand sets out to slash up lots of enormous creatures and machines. Among the interesting foes you'll face are a multi-screen-spanning ship; a hulking, haymaker-throwing mecha; and an acrobatic little martial arts dude.

The animation isn't superlative, but the sprites look good, and I have no major complaints to make about the backgrounds or music. The gameplay is simplistic, reminiscent of Kaze Kiri's in that you make your way through linear areas while attempting to cause enough damage to the enemy forces to gain entry through the gate barring the way to the next strip.

The coolest aspect of the action is the "charge orb" that you're granted: you can use it for defensive purposes or charge it up and hurl it at your foes (it's kind of like the energy spheres in Schbibin Man 3, but it's larger and faster and grants you less control over its path of flight). This orb-utilization element allows you to implement a little strategy at times. For instance, one boss battle pits you against a beast taking refuge behind a destructible (and regenerative) gate while crap falls on you from above. You can use the orb to protect yourself from the plummeting debris while wailing on the gate, opening the way to the boss. Then, you should have to do two things: time your assault so that the creature's weak point is exposed when you take your hacks, and make sure to dash back out and reposition your orb before the gate regenerates.

In concept, it's a pretty cool fight. Unfortunately, the designers blundered: there's a spot where you can hack right through the gate and hit the boss while suffering no damage from the falling junk if your orb is at rest above you.

And that mistake pretty much sums up Genocide on the whole: nice ideas, very shitty execution. The game plays incredibly quickly; your enemies in certain spots are so fast that they can gang up on your clunky mecha and annihilate it within seconds. You have to devise "plans" in order to survive these cheap stretches, and even when you know what you have to do, you'll likely suffer many deaths or take massive amounts of damage before you finally make it through.

I don't know what the hell was wrong with Brain Grey, but they displayed a tendency to release games that featured interesting concepts but were totally botched during the design process. Last Armageddon was another tragedy. But at least with LA, I felt supreme senses of relief, joy, and accomplishment upon beating it, knowing the experience would make for nice Duomazov write-ups and stories to tell the grandkids. With Genocide, after expending an untold number of continues and "enjoying" a totally unsatisfying conclusion, I was left with sore hands and a desire just to move on to something else as quickly as possible.

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