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Blast Chamber Explodes Without Impact

Smoother control and bigger graphics would have helped the 3-D environment of the game.


When a game bills itself as "The 3-D Rotatable Deathmatch," expectations naturally run high. Yet reality fails to measure up to expectations in Blast Chamber for Sega Saturn.

The idea was cool enough: It's the future (of course) and the sport of choice is to strap on a bomb and run around a rotating chamber trying to force opponents to blow up first. Ah, video games.

As simple as that sounds, Blast Chamber makes it tougher than it ought to be. And a lot less fun than it ought to be. The biggest problems: control and graphics.

Blast Chamber's control is about as clumsy as they come. Making players move where they are supposed to takes more practice than the game is worth. Smoother control--especially important in a 3-D environment like Blast Chamber's--would have made a big difference.

And it's doubly frustrating trying to tell players apart. On a 32-bit rig like Saturn, one would have thought that designers could have made characters a little bigger. But these pipsqueaks dash about at the bottom of the screen with a decidedly 16-bit feel.

Oh, what might have been.


Robotron X: For a quick lesson on how a fast-paced, no-brainer game ought to play, look no further than Robotron X on Sony PlayStation. Sure, the idea is 14 years old--the original Robotron debuted at arcades in 1982--but this kind of play never gets stale.

Completely reworked for 32-bit machines, Robotron X is simple: Kill everything. Each level unleashes unending waves of grunts, hulks, enforcers and brains--all various types of Robotrons, the robot species naturally bent on destroying mankind.

This new version features a three-quarters perspective that gives players a more limited view of the battlefields. It's a nice graphic touch, but makes the play even more difficult because clusters of baddies are able to hide just out of frame.

For fans of the original, this one is better--although the original is still available on Williams' Arcade's Greatest Hits. For newcomers, Robotron X is the kind of game the critics decry as mindless. But it sure is fun.


Amok: In the name of quality gaming and world peace, I call upon video game designers everywhere to declare a moratorium on first-person mech shooters. The market is flooded with mech games that just plain stink.

Although Amok for Saturn is not that bad, it's not all that good either. The environments are nice enough and the control is smooth. Enemies are persistent and smart. But the game feels, looks and plays like almost every other mech shooter out there. Nothing new here.

At their best, first-person shooters show off the prowess of 32-bit machines. At their worst, they show off just how gullible designers think players are. Who wants to drop $50 on a mediocre game?

Demand better.

Staff writer Aaron Curtiss reviews video games every other Thursday. To comment on a column or to suggest games for review, send letters to The Times, 20000 Prairie St., Chatsworth, CA 91311. Or send e-mail to:

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