Escape From Monster Manor
Platform:  3DO
Players:  1

    Ahh, the classic first person shooter for the 3DO.  This game and Way of the Warrior were the two games that I looked forward to owning for the 3DO when the system was in its prime.  However, that was around the same time I was 17 and the system was more than a month's pay.  When I finally bought a 3DO, I was determined to find an auction with these games.  Well, I don't know if it's because we have much better graphics and systems now, but this game initially disappointed me.  Before I get into that, though, let's get a brief background of the game.

Description:  The game is set in Monster Manor.  Here is kept a pendant which is meant to reflect light that keeps ghosts and demons at bay.  However, this pendant has been broken into six pieces and scattered throughout Monster Manor, thereby letting the baddies roam free (of course).  You play a random dude - no name, no face - armed with a Peter Venkman-style ghost vaporizer.  Each shot squeezed off depletes five units of ammo, of which you can hold a maximum of 100.  Health is also maxed at 100 and, in addition to these and ammo units, you can also pick up various treasure pieces, keys and the pendant pieces required to exit each level.  You navigate through a maze, trying to find a pendant piece and exit.  Along the way, you deal with skeletons, floating heads, ghosts and spiders.  These enemies all fall with one hit from your zapper.  Usually, when you reach the end of a level, you encounter a much beefier version of the standard enemy, which will require multiple hits with your zapper to defeat.  These are easily identifiable because they are of a different color than the usual enemies.

Graphics:  Well, as I initially stated, I wasn't at all impressed with the graphics until I remembered I was playing a game and on a system from the mid 90s.  While the game is certainly not of Doom caliber, it is quite a step up from Wolfenstein 3D and other knock-offs in that texture quality is of a higher resolution.  However, the level layouts are all flat much like Wolf 3D.  You occasionally encounter a floating painting, rocking chair, victrola or hanging body.  Along with the enemies and item pick-ups, that's about as graphically diverse as this game gets.  The monsters are rather comical, with the award going to the floating heads.  These things seem to continuously implode while moving towards you.  In addition, they fling some green glob at you to injure you.  While the game does try to keep a light-hearted feel going, this is still something that looks like it was animated incorrectly.  Although you do not have a stats display on the main screen, you do have a pseudo on-screen health indicator.  The protagonist's hand changes as you take damage, letting you know you're in need of some health replenishments.  This, however, is difficult to read accurately unless you're in the habit of dying.

Sound:  The sound effects are pretty standard.  You have the occasional sound effects for picking up different objects, sounds when enemies are in sight of you, when they die, and the strange sound that occurs when you fire your weapon.  As far as the music goes, I found the title screen music to be catchy, but when they later "remixed" this same song with the announcer saying "tread carefully now" repeatedly, I was reminded of terrible 90s music.  The rest of the music contains your standard pipe organ and random noises, with some screams mixed in to attempt to scare you.

Play Control:  The controls proved to be frustrating in one department: turning.  However, this is not so much the control response but rather the speed at which your character turns around.  I found that if you are being ambushed by an enemy, you're better off running away while turning around instead of trying to turn quickly to fire as you normally would in an FPS.  The other controls are decent; strafing is mapped to the shoulder buttons, movement to the d-pad, and fire, open doors, and the stats window to buttons A, B and C, respectively.  When you are entering a new room, you can strafe in and back out again in order to trigger the enemies.  This will keep you from getting ambushed.  Once you get the hang of that, you're ok with the controls.  Another issue I encountered involved shooting enemies when they are partially obscured by a wall.  If the enemy is not within full view, your attack will not register.  This is very annoying when you have a large number of enemies bearing down on you, especially because you run out of ammo faster, wasting shots on partially-hidden enemies.  You also have to push a button to see your stats since they are not showing while you play - so inconvenient and time-consuming.  Additionally, to see the map you have to hit not one button, but two, first displaying the stats and then showing the map.  I find this rather strange.  You still have the play and stop buttons in the center of the controller that are not being used so, it's not like they had to set it up that way.

Replay:  Umm...this is going to depend on what type of games you're normally drawn to.  I personally keep this around for a laugh when I'm bored.  However, I've only played through it once and, generally, I only play for about half an hour before it loses its appeal.  The typical gamer is probably not even going to finish this game so, replay is out of the question with most people.

Final Verdict:  This is a mildly entertaining game depending on your sense of humor, but overall it stinks as an FPS.  Even when the 3DO had its day, you could play Doom instead.  If you're able to pick up this game for a few bucks, though, it has been known to spark an interesting conversation or two.  I would advise against paying more than $5.00 for a loose copy, unless you're a masochist.  If you are, then you'll probably love this game, so it will be money well spent.  For now, I'm shelving this one.

Written on 04-06-06 by Shane,

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