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Zaxxon's Motherbase 2000 (Sega 32X)

Zaxxon's Motherbase 2000 (Sega 32X) review


"To this day, I have no idea why I'm a 32x fan. I mean, I know the entire concept of the 32x was stupid and that the majority of the 32x game library (if you can call it a library. I think bookshelf would be a more appropriate description) was mediocre. Yet, I still have some hideous attachment to the add-on, despite not owning it in my youth or even pining for one during its initial release. "



To this day, I have no idea why I'm a 32x fan. I mean, I know the entire concept of the 32x was stupid and that the majority of the 32x game library (if you can call it a library. I think bookshelf would be a more appropriate description) was mediocre. Yet, I still have some hideous attachment to the add-on, despite not owning it in my youth or even pining for one during its initial release.

Zaxxon's Motherbase 2000 was one of the few titles that attempted to embrace “the next level in 32x world” by using 3-D graphics. Taking the template of the archaic arcade original, which ironically is more impressive to look at than these proto-32 bit blunders, it replaced the smooth retro colour of the original with smashed shards of polygon and jagged crystals plastered together like a model you made in primary school to show your parents what a lovely imagination you have. While you can admire these distorted visuals for what they were at their conception, it's incredibly hard to appreciate them today, especially when they group en masse and cause some incredibly painful slowdown. A most tragic piece of irony and another deeply embarrassing moment for SEGA as the entire concept of a “next generation” console is smeared by a problem that could've been avoided so simply. Saying that, there are some positives. The majority of Zaxxon's aesthetics are quite soothing to the eye in contrast to the jagged edges of the sprites, showcasing the 32x's ability to create layered and detailed compositions of space, sea and sand. However, after you've squinted past the undesirables, they are incredibly difficult to appreciate.

I wish that horribly outdated graphics were the biggest problem with Zaxxon but it's simply one of the few faults that drag this shooter from the clutches of the average further down into the unforgivable pit of mediocrity. The game has eight long levels which overstay their welcome so much that by the time you get to the boss, you'll feel like you've not only just finished an uphill sprint, but an uphill sprint up Everest wearing a bomber jacket.

To give the game credit, it attempts to make this process more enjoyable by allowing your ship to be able to hack into and take over enemy ships. (Mommy, what are those two consoles doing to each other???). As is the norm for the genre, your ship has two forms While the isometric view of the game doesn't make Zaxxon's gameplay fundamentally different from your average shooter, it does allow you to jump onto or over obstacles. Jumping on top of certain ships will suddenly give you not only a boost in firepower but give you an increase in armour. Since the majority of the tougher enemies are open to hijacking, you can leap over their oncoming bullets and pounce on your unsuspecting victims just like the McCanns did to Madeline. However, if you take a pounding, your extra parts may start to malfunction. Thankfully, you can detach yourself quite easily and even throw the failing parts at upcoming ships.

However, experimenting with various weaponry is only fun for a short time. Hopping from ship to ship quickly turns into a horrendous necessity. As soon as the machine you're hijacking has expired, it makes you realise just how weak your skeletal craft really is. This is awkwardly followed by hopping around like an idiot until another suitable candidate appears. Instead relying on skill and tactical thinking, all of Zaxxon bottles down to is the reliance upon panic-enforced decisions, luck and the unceremonious hammering of all three buttons. Even boss confrontations rely on these unfortunate patterns. Each boss has a predictable loop of moves which you can work out quite quickly and use your three important strategies to clean house.

Zaxxon's Motherbase 2000 isn't as horrendous as it should be. It, like the majority of 32x games, doesn't do anything particularly offensive but doesn't do enough to be outstanding (or even enjoyable) to tip the scales. Most of the levels are incredibly drawn out, making any enjoyment gained from the game fizzle out quickly. This, coupled with the annoyingly over-top-graphics which are intending to impress but fail miserably really prevent Zaxxon from becoming anything more than ten minute diversion, even at the best of times.

Rating: 5/10

goldenvortex's avatar
Community review by goldenvortex (July 28, 2008)

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