WELCO METOT HENEX TLEVEL – Microcosm

Microcosm_MCD_US_Box_FrontPublisher: Psygnosis
Developer: Psygnosis Advanced Technology Group
Released: 1993

Microcosm is yet another entry in what seems like a neverending list of full-motion video shooters that seemed to infect the market back in the early 90s. Much like Sewer Shark, this is simply a sprite-based, into the screen shoot em up that runs over an FMV background.

It’s not a very good one, either.

The plot is straight out of the dystopian future science fiction handbook, where mega corporations are all-powerful and murder appears to be standard operating procedure in the name of corporate espionage. It is the year 2051 and two companies – CyberTech Industries and Axiom – are battling it out for global dominance. Axiom blames CyberTech for its president’s recent death. It plans to take revenge on CyberTech by injecting its president with a virus that will take over his body. You’re the lucky soul who gets to go all Fantastic Journey in an attempt to neutralize the virus and save the president. Actually, InnerSpace might be a better example.

This is all conveyed through a lengthy opening cut scene featuring laughable voice acting and terrible lip syncing. Apparently the reason behind this is two-fold: no one in the video is a professional actor and all of the original dialogue was recorded in Japanese. More on that later.

When the game proper finally does begin you find yourself flying through what appear to be veins or…well, somebody’s insides. One of the major problems with this premise is that each level, no matter how well the video has been rendered, kind just looks like you’re flying through slimy crimson corridors.

The gameplay is generally poor, with the disconnect between the FMV backgrounds and the sprite-based enemies and projectiles making it rather difficult to discern exactly how close each threat is to your ship. Not only does this make things kind of difficult to avoid, but it also has an adverse affect on your ability to properly aim your weapons.
MICROCOSM001
The exception to this rule is most of the boss battles. Outside of a few sections where you chase an enemy through yet another slimy corridor, the bosses are all represented by full-motion video as well. This makes them some of the more impressive looking bits of the game, though the fact that they are limited to the video being streamed off the disk, their movements and patterns are extremely predictable and can’t change even a little bit to react to whatever it is the player is doing. Not only that, but any projectiles they fire don’t look like they belong at all thanks to them being, you guessed it, sprite based.

Despite its general mediocrity, Microcosm is an interesting game for a few different reasons. Psygnosis had been around for quite a while by the point they started development on this game, but Microcosm marked their first foray into CD-ROM technology, as well as one of the first instances of a developer streaming video in the background of an otherwise traditional game. In fact, Psygnosis was so ahead of the curve that the lead platform for development was the rather obscure Fujitsu FM Towns computer, based mostly on the fact that it was one of the only computers at the time which featured an onboard CD-ROM drive.

Fujitsu eventually bought the game engine directly from Pysgnosis as it was preparing to unleash its FM Towns Marty console and desperately needed games for the platform. Unfortunately that meant that Psygnosis’ flagship CD-ROM game went largely unnoticed in the western world, as the FM Towns Marty never made it out of Japan. Microcosm does have the honor of being featured on the first of Edge Magazine Issue #1, however.
MICROCOSM002
It wasn’t until a while later that Microcosm made its way west, appearing on the Sega CD, 3DO and DOS operating system. None of those versions were created by the original team, however, and I believe the console versions were cut back in one way or another. Either way, by the time the game came to these shores it really didn’t seem like anything special.

More importantly, though, the game got Psygnosis some much-needed recognition. In particular it attracted the attention of Sony, which was gearing up to launch its own CD-based game console in 1994. Sony bought Psygnosis, which went on to produce some of the system’s earliest AAA titles, such as Destruction Derby, F1 and Wipeout. Psygnosis apparently had a major hand in early development tools for the PS1 as well.

Psygnosis was eventually reorganized into Studio Liverpool.

Posted in Sega, Sega CD, WELCO METOT HENEX TLEVEL | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

429: The Barfogenic Zone

Play

This week! Microsoft’s Windows 10/Xbox/HoloLens announcements, Nintendo axes Club Nintendo, and we talk about VR headsets, the Activator, favorite game names, and more. Join us, won’t you? Support the show via our Patreon!

Check out Greg’s web series Generation 16 (Episode 14 now available) – click here. And take a trip over to Phil’s YouTube Channel to see some awesome retro game vids.

Own an iPhone/iPod touch? We’ve got an app for that–the Player One Podcast player app is available now. Play shows new and old, read show notes, access the show Twitter, website, email, and more! Click here to download.

Got an Android device? You can now download our app on the Amazon Android Appstore. Find out all about it here.

Follow us on twitter at twitter.com/p1podcast.

Thanks for listening! Don’t forget to visit our new web site at www.playeronepodcast.com. Don’t forget to join our forums if you haven’t already!

Running time: 1:08:16

Check out this episode!

Posted in Episodes, No Mike, Video Games | Leave a comment

428: I Wish This Place Smelled Like Nerd

Play

This week! Nintendo’s many announcements from last week’s Direct, new Rock Band DLC, Xbox One back to $350, Joystiq gets rid of review scores, Pure Pool, Sunset Overdrive, Ultimate NES Remix, Kirby Triple Deluxe, Forza Horizon 2, Mega Man II GB, LEGO Batman 3, Ys Book I and so much more! Support the show via our Patreon!

Check out Greg’s web series Generation 16 (Episode 14 now available) – click here. And take a trip over to Phil’s YouTube Channel to see some awesome retro game vids.

Own an iPhone/iPod touch? We’ve got an app for that–the Player One Podcast player app is available now. Play shows new and old, read show notes, access the show Twitter, website, email, and more! Click here to download.

Got an Android device? You can now download our app on the Amazon Android Appstore. Find out all about it here.

Follow us on twitter at twitter.com/p1podcast.

Thanks for listening! Don’t forget to visit our new web site at www.playeronepodcast.com. Don’t forget to join our forums if you haven’t already!

Running time: 1:15:52

Check out this episode!

Posted in Episodes, Video Games | 1 Response

427: Karaoke Means Plan

Play

This week! Enemy of the show (and author!) Chris Baker joins CJ and Phil to talk video games. We discuss the recent PS Now subscription service and pricing, Nintendo’s “Ambassador” release of the New 3DS in Europe, the Stadium Events auction, a PSP release in 2015, and much more! Support the show via our Patreon!

Check out Chris Baker’s book, WRONG! Retro Games, You Messed Up Our Comic Book Heroes!, here. You can also follow him on Twitter @cbake76 or check out his website at christopher-baker.com.

Check out Greg’s web series Generation 16 (Episode 14 now available) – click here. And take a trip over to Phil’s YouTube Channel to see some awesome retro game vids.

Own an iPhone/iPod touch? We’ve got an app for that–the Player One Podcast player app is available now. Play shows new and old, read show notes, access the show Twitter, website, email, and more! Click here to download.

Got an Android device? You can now download our app on the Amazon Android Appstore. Find out all about it here.

Follow us on twitter at twitter.com/p1podcast.

Thanks for listening! Don’t forget to visit our new web site at www.playeronepodcast.com. Don’t forget to join our forums if you haven’t already!

Running time: 1:22:23

Check out this episode!

KaraokeRevolution feature

Posted in Episodes, Video Games | Leave a comment

426: Five Nights at Finn-y’s

Play

This week! Tetris pulled from the eShop, Microsoft raises the price of the Xbox One, Awesome Games Done Quick starts up this week, some gaming resolutions. Plus: Sunset Overdrive, Dragon Age Inquisition, Trivia Crack, Forza Horizon 2, Pokemon Pinball Ruby & Sapphire, Nidhogg, Fotonica, Adventure Time: The Secret of the Nameless Kingdom, adventure games, Christmas gifts that made an impression, top 3 Zelda games and much, much more. Support the show via our Patreon!

Check out Greg’s web series Generation 16 (Episode 14 now available) – click here. And take a trip over to Phil’s YouTube Channel to see some awesome retro game vids.

Own an iPhone/iPod touch? We’ve got an app for that–the Player One Podcast player app is available now. Play shows new and old, read show notes, access the show Twitter, website, email, and more! Click here to download.

Got an Android device? You can now download our app on the Amazon Android Appstore. Find out all about it here.

Follow us on twitter at twitter.com/p1podcast.

Thanks for listening! Don’t forget to visit our new web site at www.playeronepodcast.com. Don’t forget to join our forums if you haven’t already!

Running time: 1:14:45

Check out this episode!

Posted in Episodes, Video Games | Leave a comment

425: #UpUntilNow #2014 #WAYPNYE

Play

This week! We take a look back at our favorite games of 2014 across various platforms and delivery methods. We won’t spoil any of the tasty nuggets inside – just listen! And happy new year. Support the show via our Patreon!

Check out Greg’s web series Generation 16 (Episode 14 now available) – click here. And take a trip over to Phil’s YouTube Channel to see some awesome retro game vids.

Own an iPhone/iPod touch? We’ve got an app for that–the Player One Podcast player app is available now. Play shows new and old, read show notes, access the show Twitter, website, email, and more! Click here to download.

Got an Android device? You can now download our app on the Amazon Android Appstore. Find out all about it here.

Follow us on twitter at twitter.com/p1podcast.

Thanks for listening! Don’t forget to visit our new web site at www.playeronepodcast.com. Don’t forget to join our forums if you haven’t already!

Running time: 1:50:48

Check out this episode!

Posted in Episodes, Video Games, Year-End Wrap-Up | Leave a comment

424: It’s A Double-Plug Time Cat Christmas

Play

This week! A super-charged, XL-sized episode, just in time for the holidays with special guests Kevin Larrabee and Rich Grisham. Minecraft: Story Mode, Halo MCC gets free ODST, Amiib-Woes, DmC Remastered, Bayonetta 2, Kirby Triple Deluxe, Far Cry 4, Forza Horizon 2, Driveclub, Rocksmith 2014 and more. Happy Holidays! Support the show via our Patreon!

Be sure to check out the other shows Rich is on – the Press Row Podcast and the Doddcast.

Check out Back In My Play at backinmyplay.com, The Fitcast at thefitcast.com, and follow Kevin Larrabee on Twitter @kevinlarrabee.

Check out Greg’s web series Generation 16 (Episode 14 now available) – click here. And take a trip over to Phil’s YouTube Channel to see some awesome retro game vids.

Own an iPhone/iPod touch? We’ve got an app for that–the Player One Podcast player app is available now. Play shows new and old, read show notes, access the show Twitter, website, email, and more! Click here to download.

Got an Android device? You can now download our app on the Amazon Android Appstore. Find out all about it here.

Follow us on twitter at twitter.com/p1podcast.

Thanks for listening! Don’t forget to visit our new web site at www.playeronepodcast.com. Don’t forget to join our forums if you haven’t already!

Running time: 2:02:15

Check out this episode!

Posted in Episodes, Video Games | Leave a comment

WELCO METOT HENEX TLEVEL – Mickey Mania: The Timeless Adventures of Mickey Mouse

MickeyMania_MCD_US_Box_FrontPublisher: Sony Imagesoft
Developer: Traveller’s Tales
Released: 1994

During the late 80s, Capcom built a reputation for fantastic games based on Disney licenses, the mighty DuckTales for NES being the crown jewel. In the early 90s, Sega began building a similar reputation with titles like Castle of Illusion and Aladdin. Virgin took the baton from there and carried on producing solid games using the Aladdin engine – The Lion King, Pocahontas, The Jungle Book and Pinocchio.

Then there was Sony Imagesoft.

By 1994, Sony Imagesoft had forged a similarly strong reputation for producing absolutely terrible games, many of which resided on the Sega CD. Some of them were sort of groundbreaking, like using FMV backgrounds in a platformer with Bram Stoker’s Dracula. But pretty much everything the company produced was sub-standard.

Mickey Mania bucked that trend in a dramatic fashion. Originally intended as a celebration of Mickey’s 65th birthday in 1993, someone somewhere at Sony realized that they had a brilliant concept on their hands and pushed the game to a 1994 release. And boy was it the right call.

Mickey Mania is a mostly standard platform game, the type that we’d seen Mickey appear in before courtesy of Capcom and Sega. But it’s the brilliant premise that sets this game apart. As you might gather from the subhead, Mickey Mania is a trek through the mouse’s storied past, starting in the full-on black and white world of Steamboat Willie (Mickey’s first appearance in 1928) to his then most recent appearance in The Prince and the Pauper (1990). In between players got to navigate through worlds based on The Mad Doctor (1933), The Band Concert (1935), The Moose Hunters (1937), The Lonesome Ghosts (1937) and Mickey and the Beanstalk (1947).

Yeah, there’s a bit of a 30 year gap between the final two levels. Mickey’s transition to television in the 50s mostly featured re-releases of his theatrical shorts. He didn’t reappear in theatres until 1983’s Mickey’s Christmas Carol, and not again until 1990 with The Prince and the Pauper.

But enough about Mickey’s history. Mickey Mania is wonderfully experimental. The first level, for instance, starts out completely in black and white, gradually shifting to full color by the end. The Moose Hunters culminates with an into-the-screen style chase the likes of which Naughty Dog would use over and over again in games like Crash Bandicoot and Uncharted. In The Mad Doctor Mickey descends the outside of a tower using the same sort pseudo-3D effect seen in Castellan.
MICKEY MANIA001
Really, the presentation in this game shines. Along with the distinctive backdrops for each level, the animation itself is just fantastic. Sega’s Aladdin had set a new bar for what could be done with game animation a year earlier by taking work directly from Disney animators and transferring it into a video game. The exact same thing was done with Mickey Mania, and the final results are stunning. Mickey’s movements are incredible, especially when you saw them for the first time in 1994.

And on the Sega CD version players were treated to loads of voice samples from Wayne Allwine himself (the official voice of Mickey Mouse from 1977 until his death in 2009) and a beautiful soundtrack augmented by work from Michael Giacchino. Giacchino’s credits include compositions for game series like Medal of Honor and Call of Duty, television shows such as Lost and Alias, and films like The Incredibles, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and Up, for which he won an academy award. Oh, and he’s composed some of the music heard in Disney theme parks all over the world.

Fun and adorable side note: in 1991 the voice of Mickey, Wayne Allwine, married the voice of Minnie, Russi Taylor.
MICKEY MANIA002
It has to be said, though, that Mickey Mania is a bit rough around the edges. The general gameplay and design is sound, but it suffers from somewhat sloppy collision detection and controls that can feel a bit mushy at times. It might be due to his fantastic animation, but sometimes Mickey just does not seem to respond to button commands fast enough. Due to these issues, later levels of Mickey Mania can be a bit tedious as you inch your way forward trying to avoid one cheap hit after another.

It seems like the shadow of Sony Imagesoft’s past weren’t shaken off completely with this game. But, to be fair, nothing here really ruins the experience outright.

Mickey Mania was released across the Sega CD, Genesis and SNES platforms, though the Sega CD is basically the best version of the game. The SNES version featured some load times, a missing level and some missing characters, while the Genesis cartridge obviously did not feature the fantastic redbook audio soundtrack.

Mickey Mania was re-released in UK and EU markets on the PlayStation in 1996. This version featured beautiful, redrawn backgrounds and sprites as well as the Sega CD soundtrack, but was still missing The Band Concert level that was also excised from the SNES version. It did, however, add some 3D elements and an appearance by Willie the Giant (who was not present in any of the 16-bit versions).
MICKEY MANIA003
This marks the final time a game would be published under the name Sony Imagesoft, as it was folded into Sony Computer Entertainment of America as the company readied for the US launch of the PlayStation. Mickey Mania represents a fantastic example of Sony mostly shedding its reputation for producing terrible video games. It shows just the sort of quality the company was capable of and the resources it could bring to bear on game development.

Oh, and Mickey Mania also happens to be the design debut of a young developer by the name of David Jaffe.

Posted in Sega, Sega CD, WELCO METOT HENEX TLEVEL | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

423: Pretentious Minute

Play

This week! Some follow-up on the PlayStation Experience, censorship, PSN sales, Valiant Hearts, Driveclub, Entwined, Pure Pool, Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, Ultimate NES Remix (kinda – sorry, Phil lagged out), Far Cry 4, Tetris DX, broken games, Oculus Rift, recommended books, playing games with/without sound, and games of the last 10 years that have revolutionized gaming. Thank you for listening, and have a great week. Support the show via our Patreon!

Check out Greg’s web series Generation 16 (Episode 14 now available) – click here. And take a trip over to Phil’s YouTube Channel to see some awesome retro game vids.

Own an iPhone/iPod touch? We’ve got an app for that–the Player One Podcast player app is available now. Play shows new and old, read show notes, access the show Twitter, website, email, and more! Click here to download.

Got an Android device? You can now download our app on the Amazon Android Appstore. Find out all about it here.

Follow us on twitter at twitter.com/p1podcast.

Thanks for listening! Don’t forget to visit our new web site at www.playeronepodcast.com. Don’t forget to join our forums if you haven’t already!

Running time: 1:18:19

Check out this episode!

Posted in Episodes, Video Games | Leave a comment

422: Sounds of Experience

Play

This week! The Game Awards, PlayStation Experience, the announcements and trailers from both those shows like Nintendo showing off Zelda Wii U. Plus: Forza Horizon 2, Captain Toad Treasure Tracker, Injustice: Gods Among Us, Dragon Age, Little Big Planet 3 and more. Plus: We announce our Patreon, new schedule, and the sound quality takes a dip because of course it does right when we open a Patreon (backers will not be charged for this episode).

Check out Greg’s web series Generation 16 (Episode 13 now available) – click here. And take a trip over to Phil’s YouTube Channel to see some awesome retro game vids.

Own an iPhone/iPod touch? We’ve got an app for that–the Player One Podcast player app is available now. Play shows new and old, read show notes, access the show Twitter, website, email, and more! Click here to download.

Got an Android device? You can now download our app on the Amazon Android Appstore. Find out all about it here.

Follow us on twitter at twitter.com/p1podcast.

Thanks for listening! Don’t forget to visit our new web site at www.playeronepodcast.com. Don’t forget to join our forums if you haven’t already!

Running time: 1:26:02

Check out this episode!

Posted in Episodes, No Phil, Video Games | Leave a comment