Sega CD

Review by Matt Paprocki

Sony Imagesoft


Graphics: 4

Sound: 6

Gameplay: 2

Overall: 3

"Cliffhanger" the video game opens with the standard Sega CD quality video footage of the actual film. Players can even watch a brief 5-minute video primer (in widescreen!) to get up to speed on the movies storyline. You can even watch more grainy, colorless video before each stage. It's the best part of this disc.

Ported over the cartridge version like so many other games on this system, "Cliffhanger" was already a pitiful attempt at recreating a great movie in interactive form. The shiny little round disc makes no difference. Even though you know $100 million is at stake, the effort still isn't worth it.

A cheap beat-em-up is the center of the game with terrible collision detection and ridiculous leaps of faith across mountainside chasms (in which you can't even see across to the other side). Only two weapons are available, a knife and an Uzi, but the knife is incredibly hard to use. The animation routine must play all the way through before another attack can be launched.

Intermittent with these stages are climbing levels so incredibly hard, not even the worlds best all-around gamer could get past them in one shot. Controls are slow and unresponsive while enemies can continually put bullets into your flesh even during the brief period in which you are invincible elsewhere. Gabe also seems to lose his grip randomly.

To make this version of the game stand out, Sony went all out (not really) and added in two Sega CD exclusive snowboarding levels. While they look good in screenshots, the difficulty here is worse than climbing as players try to out-snowboard an avalanche. These are long segments and dying sends you all the way back to the beginning. Hitting rocks and other objects in your path whittles down your life. Memorization is key, but when you know that another pitiful beat-em-up stage is to follow, why bother?

Graphics are crude with completely still backdrops and putrid animation. The range of bad guys is meager (in the single digits) and Gabe barely looks like Stallone. Snowboarding scenes offer up some mild moe-7 effects, but it can be difficult to see what's ahead. The only highlight here is the soundtrack, which is lifted directly from the film, but all of the sound effects are taken from the cart.

This might have made a decent (if overly generic) entry into the beat-em-up genre, but in the process of trying to add some "value" and mix things up, they blew it. Just about everything falls apart when you realize you have no chance of seeing the finale. This is almost notable for showing off some mode-7 effects, but you can see it done far better in games like "Soul Star." This is one of the few games that has no redeeming value.


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Last updated: Sunday, October 31, 2004 08:51 AM