Review: Demolition Man (SNES)

By Drew Wilson

In this review, we check out an action game that was based on a movie: Demolition Man as released on the SNES. We find out if this was a good translation from movie to video game or not.

This particular game was released in 1995 and was based off of the movie by the same name.

In this game, you play the Demolition Man. Like the movie, you are assigned to apprehend Simon Phoenix. The game starts off in Los Angeles in 1996. You drop out of a helicopter onto the start area and set off to face a gauntlet of C-4 containers, numerous baddies, pits, and obstacles through an apocalyptic urban jungle. Ultimately, you catch up to Phoenix who races off the screen, leaving behind a series of exploding C-4 containers behind. After this level, you are transported to the utopian future where you have just been thawed out because Simon has escaped. It is your job to catch him again.

The second level is a top down shooter stage where you are to face a barrage of enemies and a series of force fields inside a museum (like the movie). To make it to the next portion of the maze, you have to have rescued all of the captured civilians in the previous area. At the end of this level, you face off against Phoenix over top of the glass floor (also featured in the movie). Phoenix, at this point, is armed with the energy weapon. If you win that battle, you go back to a side scrolling portion of the game again below (I couldn’t make it past the boss at the end of this level).

Along the way, you can collect upgraded weapons that are much more powerful than your standard pistol. Unfortunately, there’s a limited amount of ammo. Once you run out of that weapons ammo, you revert back to your standard pistol weapon. You can also collect much needed med kits. Small ones restore a good portion of your health while larger ones tend to replenish more. These pickups are very valuable as I found that I was constantly taking damage in this mess of bullets on the screen.

I found this game difficult to play at first because there is a bit of a learning curve. The learning curve revolves mostly around navigating your way through the levels. It’s really bad if you find yourself getting lost because if you have to backtrack in some places, the enemies will take add a few lumps on your head in the process. Of course, the pits make matters worse as you lose a life every time you accidentally fall into one.

The game is artificially more difficult due to the top running speed. You are left with little reaction time if your approach, say, a pit. It’s not the worst example of this I’ve seen, but it is an issue for this game. Also making life difficult is the clunky controls. In side scrolling portions, enemies sometimes crouch down. Pushing down makes you aim straight down and you are, at best, left with a 45 degree angle to fire from. While you are trying to find a good angle to take these enemies out, they are merely firing away, draining your precious life in the process. So, clunky controls are an issue in this game.

This game also features three different difficulty settings. These settings seem to affect how many baddies are found on screen. After playing around a little, I didn’t feel too ashamed of cowering to the easier setting at the beginning given the overall difficulty of this game.

I think what might have improved on this game is if there was more of a cutscene involved. I think it would have been great if there was a comic book style cutscene between each level. Instead, you seem to be left with, at most, a map and a still (if that).

Graphically, in the top down shooter portion that I played, this game left a fair bit to be desired. It is only a mild improvement over the graphic capabilities of a NES (namely the numerous enemies on screen). On the side scrolling portions, I would say the graphics are just barely decent. The single images that you get between levels are quite average. Probably the only highlight of this game in the graphics department was the image in the intro screen.

The real highlight in this game, I found, was in the voice samples. It was great hearing some of the lines like “send a maniac to catch them”, “be well”, and Phoenix’s evil laugh. That, really, is the only thing this game gets a major thumbs up from me. The music, on the other hand, wasn’t that great at all. Besides the occasional effect thrown in, the music is largely forgettable. The other sound effects that were in there were good, though it seemed as though there was a very limited library. As a result, pretty much every bad guy you kill has the same “Oof!” sound.

Overall, this game does have the benefit of being based off of a famous movie back then, but the game just doesn’t do the movie justice. Though the speech samples gave a fair bit of life to the game, the steep learning curve, the average graphics, and the clunky controls really set this game back. This game really is just another one of those games that you play through a few times for the novelty of it, but offers nothing that makes me want to later pick up and play again.


Furthest point in game: Died fighting the third level boss.

General gameplay: 13/25
Replay value: 3/10
Graphics: 5/10
Audio: 3/5

Overall rating: 48%

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85

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