Anyone who's been in an arcade knows those unique games, the ones that are designed for the most in realism-- the ones that really draw you in. T-MEK is one of the best I've seen of these, and a fantastic shooter for its time.
T-MEK uses large 3D-Rendered sprites. Their sizes change based on the distance the player is from them. Some objects look the same from all directions, while MEKs have 8 different sprites for each angle they are viewed from. Though this sort of design is laughable nowadays, it provides a surprisingly engaging style of play, and was able to run on the hardware of the day without difficulty (graphics of this complexity would have been to stressful to render in real-time 3D.) Far away, the MEKs are easily distinguishable, up close they look blocky, of course. When a short distance away from them, however, they look fantastic. Each is highly detailed and pops out at you, as though it were true 3D rendering. Weaponry and explosions look different from all different angles. Flames shoot up from the remains of destroyed MEKs, and continue to burn long after the battle has ended, and later explode, hurling chunks of detailed shrapnel into the air along with an impressive fireball.
-- Score: (8/10) --
Unfortunately, there is only music in the title and menu sequences; there is none in the actual battles. There is a repeated humming noise, but it doesn't get annoying. The sound effects are appropriate, well-sampled, and match the action very well. They are nothing
spectacular, but certainly adequate. Some sort of soundtrack would have been nice, though.
-- Score: (4/10) --
Fast and furious. The players pilot their MEKs (hovercraft) around the playfield, using their laser turrets, plasma cannons, and special weapons specific to their MEK to attempt to destroy the other players' MEKs. Once destroyed, the player reappears in a new MEK at a random location in the arena. In the wreckage of the old MEK, a power core remains. Any player can pick this up to gain a shield boost. In addition to their shields, which function as life points, each MEK has its own specific Defense function, with a limited period of time it can operate before needing to be recharged. There is also a time limit in each round (and in the arcade version, only the winner can continue for free), so there is a mad rush to annihilate the most high-ranking MEKs in the arena and rise to the top of the roster.
The combat is intense- lasers and plasma fly in all directions. Missiles streak toward their targets, guided as they are piloted by the player who fired them. Acid-filled bombs launch through the arena and bounce off of walls, looking for a vulnerable target. Players deflect shots with their shields, and vanish into thin air at the activation of their cloaking devices. Volcanoes erupt and spikes shoot from the ground to block players' paths as they try to rack up Revenge Points Points and First Kill Bonuses. MEKs race to the blue beams fired down from floating craft that will refuel their special weaponry.
Combat is balanced. Each MEK has the same Laser turrets and Plasma cannon, but has a different Special Weapon and Defense Mode. For example, the Stealth MEK uses bouncing bombs filled with molecular acid called 'Acid Drones', and has a cloak that can hide the
MEK from vision, radar, and block all damage for an extremely limited period of time. The Assault MEK has missiles that can be launched and then flown from the player's perspective, though the MEK cannot move while the missile is being targeted. This MEK uses a temporary reflector shield to send back attacks in random directions, sometimes back at whoever fired them. The Hyper MEK and Speed MEK use a 'HopShot' that lets them jump over any weapon that is about to strike them. The Speed Mek fires a blast that scrambles the controls on enemy MEKs. The Stealth/Lurker MEKs, though able to attack with significant force and hide from enemy fire, are slow and hard to maneuver. The Speed/Hyper MEKs, though very fast, have weak shields and are unable to sustain much damage before being destroyed. The Assault/Suicide MEKs have extremely powerful weaponry, it is difficult to use, and leaves the MEK open to attack while it is being aimed. Piloting these MEKs is also difficult, and the Suicide MEK cannot take much damage.
The more kills a MEK has, the higher its point value. If this MEK is destroyed, the player who did so will
receive more points than if it were a low-ranking MEK. So, the points gained reflect skill, not just the quantity of kills the player has obtained. There are also different play modes, including 4-MEK Combat, 4-MEK 'Boss' Battles (1 boss, 1 challenger, 2 guards for the Boss), and 2P Duels (2 human players only.) In Boss Battles, control of the power cores from the guards killed is critical to the success of the winning player, as they restore approximately 75% of the obtainer's shields, unlike the approximate 25% in a normal fight. Also, in these matches, once a MEK explodes, it does not respawn, so this game type follows a 'last man standing' design.
Unfortunately, the game lags significantly in the 32x Version when intense combat is occurring. This does not seem to occur in the Arcade Version.
-- Score: (8/10) --
This game has TONS of replay value. You can face off against your friends anytime you like, hone your skills, and fight in the numerous different arenas. There are hidden arenas to unlock, and secrets to find in the levels (i.e. easter eggs Atari threw in.) You can also have a blast (no pun intended) in 1P mode. You can crank up the difficulty if it's not challenging enough, try to find all the arenas, etc. I've been playing this game since I was about 9, in the arcades and on my 32x, and it just never gets old.
- While the Guided Missiles are extremely fun to use, they may not be a good choice for new players, as they are difficult to control and aim accurately. You also leave yourself open to attack when piloting them.
- Acid Drones and Blinder Bombs are your friends. They bounce off walls, deal a nice amount of damage, and the Blinders, well, blind your enemies for a few seconds, making them easy prey for a moment.
The Speed MEK is not a bad choice for beginners, as it has plenty of maneuverability, and a stun weapon.
- The Hyper MEK is probably not the best for beginners, as the energy cannon is slow to fire and difficult to aim. It deals tons of damage, though, once you get the hang of it.
- Don't get caught in crossfire. As seen in the screenshots, a player can turn a cluster of MEKs into a scrap heap, and you don't want to be anywhere near when that happens.
- Go after MEKs that are preoccupied with attacking other players. But remember, when sneaking up on someone-- you DO show up on radar unless you are cloaked. Or playing as PHANTOM (see Cheats section.)
- 'Lead' your shots against Speed and Hyper MEKs, as they are very fast. Hit them, and they will go down easily. One perfectly-placed Acid Drone can take them out.
- You can save power on your Cloak by turning it on and off every second while fleeing from the enemy, while keeping them unsure as to your whereabouts.
- Use time when you are cloaked to grab some more Special Weapons. Hurry, you're not the only one who wants them!
- Fire off a couple of lasers or a plasma shot at a MEK and see if it has its Defense up. If they hit, quickly fire off a Special Weapon and get in a hit, safe in the knowledge that it's not going to be wasted or sent back at you.
- Kill higher-ranking MEKs. You'll take the lead the quickest.
- Look for players with darker names- this indicates their MEKs are damaged and are easier prey.
- Get direct hits. Hitting the edge of a MEK or clipping it doesn't do as much damage. Your lock-on reticle is a lifesaver here.
- "Seek Revenge!" If you're killed, remember who is to blame and go after them. You'll get a nice bonus if you get to them before anyone else does.
- Don't be afraid to blow your Special Weapons at the start of a match. Getting the First Kill bonus can give you a quick lead and help you secure it the rest of the game.
- Kill the Bosses' guards before going after the tough guy himself. They'll pick off your shields from all sides if you don't, at the worst possible time.
- Once you kill the guards (or the boss does, he's not exactly a team player), be sure to grab the Energy Cores. They will restore your shields tremendously-- you will need this, as bosses have tremendous defensive and offensive capabilities!
- If you see a Drone or Bomb bouncing toward you-- DON'T PANIC. Hit your defense quickly and you can hop over it or bounce it back where it came from. Don't turn on your Defense too soon or you'll waste a lot of power.
- Drift and Quick-Turn. These 2 maneuvers will get you out of many a tight situation, so never forget to use them.
Game Modes (32x Version):
- 4P Deathmatch - Up to 2 Human players, 2 CPU players. This can be played as a Team Battle (Humans vs. CPU) or as a Free-for-All.
- 1P Boss - 1 Human, 1 Boss, and his 2 guards. Energy Cores give 3x as much shield power here, so do NOT miss them!
- 2P Duel - 2 Humans. 1 survivor.
Secrets / Cheats:
Enter the bosses' names as your player name at the start of a game, i.e. NAZRAC, BAKED, SHOCKA, VENUSIVA .. etc. You will gain the powers that boss had. For example, playing as Nazrac gives you extremely powerful plasma weaponry. Bye, 'Dweezil'.
Systems: Arcade, Sega Genesis 32x, PC (DOS) - Publishers: Atari, Bits Corporation, Sega, Time Warner Interactive - Date of Release: 1994 Arcade, 1995 Home Version
Arcade: The original version used a large 2-player cabinet, including seats with built-in vibrating speakers, 2 large CRT screens, and 2 joysticks per player for movement, weapon, and defense control.
32x: This version was released in 1995 for the Sega Genesis 32-bit add-on, the 32x. It kept graphics close to the arcade version's, along with fast action, however, there is some terrible lag in more intense battles, especially when very close to enemy MEKs.
DOS: This version was released for x86 PCs running the DOS operating system. The graphics are poorer than the 32x or Arcade version's, and the interface is changed
noticeably. This port diverges the most from the original.