Ahh, the excellent action side scroller. This is the kind of game the NES specialized in, and Vice: Project Doom delivers in every respect. The plot involves a cop named Quinn Heart who has a mysterious past with an evil corporation/criminal organization thats run by aliens who crash landed on Earth centuries ago. Clones, alien bounty hunters, bio weapons, and kung-fu gangsters even out the cast of characters. This game has it all.
The main portion of the game takes place in the side scrolling levels which kick major portions of ass. They're fast, well designed, and look awesome with detailed multi-scrolling backgrounds. They're also low on the generic 8-bit overused floating platforms. Game play is similar to Ninja Gaiden except you don't climb on walls. Heart has three weapons that you can switch at any time, a laser whip, .44 magnum, and hand grenades, although it's just as effective to use the whip most of the time. And just like Ninja Gaiden the levels are introduced by animated cut scenes that fly in from the edges of the screen. In fact the first level is played even before the title screen comes up, kind of like a movie.
The graphics are awesome, although a bit small. Regular enemies look a little flat but have some personality, most of them being mutants, pumpkin-heading leaping things, etc. Boss characters really shine. The first level guy is this Kung-fu gangster with a stick that leaps back and forth shooting and charging you while impressive flames wave in the background. Later bosses are huge robots or evil mutant things, including clones of yourself.
Similar to The Adventures of Bayou Billy there are driving and shooting scenes, but this game does them a lot better. Driving scenes play like an overhead shooter and feature signs and road cones you can run over (which fly up at the "camera" when hit) while the shooting scenes are fast moving with lots of enemies. Both scenes are underutilized though, and take a back seat to the side scrolling areas.
This game borrows a lot of elements from other games but does them all better. Not big on originality as far as design goes, but makes up for it with totally awesome graphics and game play.
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