Day 128 – Metal Morph

This is a game I’d never even heard of until I started compiling a list for this blog. It was actually published by FCI but developed entirely by Origin. It was only released on SNES which isn’t a console I ever owned although I did buy a copy of the game itself for this blog. I’ve never in fact owned any console system – I’ve played a few games on emulators but on the whole I always found console games to be far too formulaic, unintelligent and expensive. Its obviously a more level playing field these days although its the PC market that has become more similar to console if anything.

I’m not all that optimistic about this game because of my console predjudice but I’m going into it knowing absolutely nothing whatsoever. I’m not even sure about the genre although since its on the SNES, I’m expecting some sort of platform/shooting format.

The lengthy intro (with pinched fmv from the Privateer jump) tells how you are some somehow made of liquid metal (Terminator 2 style) and can morph into other forms. You’ve also been provided with a ship made from the same stuff. Some sort of hyperspace tunnel has been discovered and only you can survive the jump because you are made of this liquid metal. Your mission is to meet with some aliens on the other side and at all costs prevent them from gaining your metal morph technology.

Suffice to say, the moment you arrive you are knocked out and the technology is stolen leading to you having to travel all over the place to get it back again.

Its not the most promising of plots it has to be said but I’ll give it a chance.

The first level is a straightforward platform affair and its basically all my worst stereotypes of console games rolled into one. There are some slightly strategic aspects to it as aliens are always in the same place but at heart its a simple and uninspired platform game. My goal is to reach a morph pod the aliens have stolen from my ship then return back to my ship. Picking up the morph pod opens up a door back to my ship. There are a few switches that turn force fields off + my metal morph allows me to go through pipes. This is similar to Sonic in the industrial levels except in super slow motion.

The music isn’t great and its hard to believe that Martin Galway was involved. The gameplay is no better but I make it back to my ship and hope for better to come.

The next level involves flying my ship through space shooting things until I arrive at a planet. The graphics are ok I guess but aiming is near enough impossible as the ship moves way too quickly and tends to keep going. Its more a case of keeping out of the way of being hit by swapping between extremities.

When I arrive on the planet I get another shooting sequence. This is exactly the same except with a scrolling planets surface.

This gets me to a second platform level which is graphically a bit different but otherwise the same sort of thing as Level 1.

I complete this and get to fly around shooting again for a bit. Each time I get a new morph pod in the platform level I get a new morph for my ship. You can swap between these but on the whole the latest is always the most powerful so there is no reason to change.

I get to another planet and the colour scheme is truly sickening. Its even on a palette rotation to rub it in. Combined with the dirge thats playing in the background, I would say prolonged exposure to this level could make you ill.

At the end is another platform level – I know what to expect by now.

The next planet (if it is a planet) is something new as I have to shoot the four openings in the middle before I can land. As previously mentioned aiming is not really easy. The best I can do is to get myself lined up by trial and error on one axis then try to survive just using the other and hope to land a few hits in the meanwhile.

I land on this station and work my way through the platform level again. There seem to be more switches on each than the last. If there are tactics to using these I don’t appear to need them – I just throw every switch and keep going.

Too many levels later and I’ve got all 8 pods and I can head back for the hypergate.

I get back to earth – some unnamed person was a traitor and the aliens learned enough about my technology to come through the gate themselves at the end of the game.

I’m instructed to play again after the end credits but I can safely say I will never ever play this game again as long as I live. It is without doubt the worst game Origin ever made with no redeeming features whatsoever. Its a nightmarish combination of terrible music, nauseating graphics, desperately uninspired gameplay and an incoherent throwaway plot . I’d be hard pushed to pick between this and Escape from Mt Drash.

Thankfully with a modern emulator this only took a few hours to complete with liberal use of save states. I’d never have had the patience otherwise. At every point of the game you die with a single hit and it would be seriously difficult, not to mention maddening to cope with playing it on the original system.

Its hard to believe a game this poor was turned out by Origin. Caverns of Callisto was a more sophisticated game. I didn’t go into this with high hopes but I still expected something  much better. At least I now know why I’d never heard of this game.

Next: Wing Commander Armada