Review by Matt Paprocki



Graphics: Varies

Sound: Varies

Gameplay: Varies

Overall: Varies

Viewpoint is one of the more notorious games ever released to the general public. Given life from the gifted programming hands over at Sammy, Viewpoint burst onto the scene in 1992. Premiering both at home on the Neo Geo AES and the arcade equivalent MVS, the game blasted players with a difficulty level that most people said was impossible. The die-hard shooter fans, used to being blown into thousands of pieces in games like R-Type, embraced the game and it's unique, uh, well, viewpoint.

Eventually, the game made it's way home in two entirely different forms: Once on the Genesis in 1994 and then a year later on the Playstation. A Neo Geo CD version also is available, but for all intents and purposes is the same as the cart, save for the loading times which are a bit over the top. Here I am to compare the three versions in gameplay, graphics, sound, control, and anything else I feel is deemed necessary along the way. Keep in mind that the ports are always compared to the original (in this case the Neo Geo) which, in theory, is the way the game was intended.


Neo Geo versionOf course, all 3 versions feature the same isometric view of the original. It's a necessity since the game simply wouldn't be same without it. The three are all only 1-player, though the Geo and Genesis versions allow players to alternate. All versions have the same power-ups, though some are more generous than others. Shields are a rare find in the Geo version, the Genny coughs them up about once a stage, while the Playstation rendition starts the player off with them. Each systems respective port has all 6 stages. The Playstation offers a password save, the others have you out on your own.

Each of the renditions suffer from slowdown, though all in wildly varying degrees. The "definitive" version on the Neo has some minor hiccups, mostly when the screen is crowded with enemy ships. The small bullets have no effect on the powerful hardware which means misery for players. The Genesis version slows down to a crawl constantly. Just charging your power shot causes the games nice pace to be cut right in half. This makes this version the easiest of the three, but that hardly means you won't throw your controller a few times through the 6 stages.

Surprisingly, the Playstation port suffers the worst. Not because of how much slowdown there is, but because it's not really slowdown in a sense. The frame rate actually gets chopped right in half and with the precision this game requires, it adds yet another level of frustration. It doesn't take much more is it consistent. Just a few enemies sends this one spiraling downhill and then the next screen it won't have a problem handling the same amount. Someone obviously was fresh out of coding school when making this one.


For the most part, all three control the same. One button shoots and charges a more powerful shot while the other sends a blast across the screen that should clear the screen. You'll be using 2 buttons in every version, though only the PS One port allows customization. Shame this one suffers from some odd button-to-screen delays at times. This is most likely due to the frame rate issue mentioned above. Your ship moves at about the same speed in each rendition, which is to say the least, pretty slow. Again, the Playstation takes the front of the beating with a slightly slower ship than the other versions. It's a minute difference, but one noticeable enough to be mentioned.


Genesis versionThis is really where the initial release really shined, showcasing a faux-polygonal look that just astounded gamers back in 1992. The animation here is top-notch, not matched by many other Neo Geo shooters (not that there are many). Sure it looks a bit dated today, but nowhere near the Genesis conversion. The muted colors, lack of detail, and countless missing frames of animation (particularly the bosses) really hurt the games big selling point. The screen also scrolls a bit left to right due to the lower resolution, but this is a very minor issue.

Of course, with the added firepower of a 32-bit console, the PS One version astounds with asinine detail that gamers could only dream of a few years back in 1992. The entire game looks metal with a sheen of gloss textured over everything. The explosions are bright and their animation is superb. It could actually be seen as overkill since the cost of the frame rate is far too high. Also included are CG rendered cinemas, but they do little or nothing to enhance the experience. It's not there is some gripping story under all the action.


PlayStation versionViewpoint's soundtrack still stands as one of the greatest in the history of videogames. A very unique mix of rap, techno, and elevator music, these tracks still astound gamers today. It's simply not possible to describe the quality of the music and the way it can keep you playing simply to hear more. Sound effects are standard fare with fir explosions and non-annoying laser sound.

Sadly, the designers over at EA and Visual Concepts didn't care at all about this games place in history. The music here is butchered. Sure it's all clear and CD-quality, but to put it blatantly, it sucks. Stage 2 has surfer music (seriously) mixed in with the junk techno that replaces the classic tunes of old. They even excised the boss theme and replaced it with, well, nothing. The stage music simply continues on. Explosions are amazing here, deep in bass to get the effect across.

The Genesis tries it's best at replicating the tunes, but the sound chip just isn't up to it. Almost every voice sample has been removed and tracks are MIDI-like in their quality. Considering the hardware, it's not terrible and the sound effects come through with no problem, it's just hard to make the adjustment. That is of course, if you can at all.


PlayStation versionOf course you'll be served best with the first game. The 2 ports don't hold a candle to the Geo rendition and that's the way the game should be experienced. The countless flaws in the ports drag this one down, but if you've never played the Geo original, the Genesis port is probably the more solid of the two. The frame rate issues just add too much to the difficulty and the slowdown may actually make the experience a bit easier (not to mention possible) on the Genesis. Any way you try and look at it, the only way to ever enjoy this one is on it's home console.

Oddball note: The relatively poor shooter Zaxxon Motherbase 2000 on the 32X actually owes a lot to this game. With the exception of the odd jumping function, it plays a whole lot more like Viewpoint than Sega's classic Zaxxon.


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Last updated: Saturday, May 22, 2004 08:05 AM