Blue Lightning (Jaguar CD) review
"Only Strikes Once"
The first nail in the coffin whilst coming out of the womb, Blue Lightning was another part of the pack-in multimedia content for the de-clawed de-fanged 64 bit Jaguar CD. With a Myst demo, a soundtrack of the amazing Tempest 2000 which showcased the impressive but pointless Virtual Light Machine and the already reviewed Vid Grid, Blue Lightning was really the first “game” on the system.
Attempting to emulate the fast paced arcade style of After Burner but without the same flair and charm, Blue Lightning immediately attempts to woo the player by impressively opening with a beautiful 3-D cutscene of a jet crusing through the sky with some CD quality generic hard rock to set the mood. An effective cheap tactic but in hindsight, one that invokes a queer curiosity for what could have been. The images demonstrate a huge missed potential of an awkwardly made, awkwardly released and redundant-at-birth machine that had next generation potential but was trapped in its own dreary world of disinterest and expense. The shiny mouth-watering bright red apple has a brown rotten core.
Blue Lighting is a port of a Lynx game with its graphics glossed and polished. It's high flying basic action of shooting the hell out of everything in sight works well as a hand-held arcade style title as the attention span required to play these games only lasts a few minutes before getting distracted by more appealing choices, and in that from, this game works ok. The levels are furiously sped up blast-a-thons where you fly a fighter jet over an area and blast trees, tanks, helicopters and F-14s into oblivion. It works in a way, with its slightly over-responsive controls and breakneck speed being its only real obstacles in preventing it from becoming something tangible.
However, those criticisms only apply to the actual games' mechanics, its most appalling flaws come from the layout of the game itself. When you boot the game up, you have to go through numerous options screens to set your game up. The mission starts with a short animated introduction, a mission select screen, a pilot select screen, a weapon select screen, a mission select screen, a mission acceptance screen, another animation of your plane taking off and FINALLY you are ready to play. Within a few seconds of blasting the enemies with machine guns, napalm, heat seeking missiles and cluster bombs, you plane is eradicated fairly quickly and it's over. When the message This is your last plane, be careful out there flashed on the screen before you started, they were not kidding. After losing your one and only life, you are forced to start again from the beginning of the game and watch that entire cycle of option screens and videos until you finally get back to the game to die in a few seconds.
This awfully planned sequence of events kill any replay value dead in its tracks. It's as if Atari wanted you have the video and sounds to be the centre of attention as way of showing what the system can do with its hardware without creatively applying any new ideas of how to use it effectively. If the content was reinforced by multiple lives or even a few arcade-style re-spawns, the game could easily be a lot more enjoyable or at least slightly more enduring but you'd need a lot of patience to actually persevere. Thankfully, you can actually choose all of the missions at the start-up screen so anyone willing to squeeze this game dry can pick from where ever they wish to start.
Despite the obvious whoring out of its visual effects, I can give the game credit for not doing a Tomcat Alley which was an all FMV game on the Sega CD that was similar although it does a similar dirty trick that the SCD was guilty of too. Repackaging an old outdated title with nicer graphics, sounds, FMV and other extras in order to make the content seem more “new” is cheap and rarely works in the favour of the game. Its pick up and play appeal is lost within the mazes of menus and having only one plane really just makes it more of an effort to play than what it should be.
Community review by Vorty (June 23, 2016)
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