Waterworld
  • Genre:
    • Shoot 'Em Up
  • Platform:
    • Virtual Boy
  • Developer:
    • Ocean
  • Publisher:
    • Ocean
  • Released:
    • US 12/21/1995
Score: 30%

This review was published on 07/06/2016.

Waterworld is a video game published and developed by, ironically, Ocean Software for the Virtual Boy. It was exclusively released in North America on December 21, 1995. The game is based on the American movie of the same name, which first aired in theaters in 1995. The movie had a mixed critical reception at the time of its initial airing and is now considered to be one of the worst movies ever made. Shortly after the movie aired, several licensed games were made based on it, and they were released on various platforms, like the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, Game Boy, and PC. Like the movie, all these games were bad, but none were as bad as the one on the Virtual Boy. The Virtual Boy version of Waterworld is literally one of the worst video games of all time. It's fitting that a bad game based on a bad movie would be released on a bad platform like the Virtual Boy. In fact, the Virtual Boy was so bad that it got discontinued after getting only 22 games. In a way, Waterworld ending up on the thing was a match made in heaven.

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In case you haven't watched the movie, let me give a brief summary of the plot. At the start of a fictionalized version of the 21st century, the polar ice caps melted, flooding the Earth to the point of completely submerging every continent beneath copious amounts of water, hence the title. In this new watery world, humans have built shabby floating communities across the ocean referred to as Atolls, and those that live on them are called Atollers. Eventually, humans forgot about the world before the water, and they dreamt up a legend about a mythological place called Dryland. Five centuries after the watery apocalypse, a group of pirates known as Smokers attack an Atoll in an attempt to capture a little girl named Enola. The pirates want her because she has a map tattooed onto her back that supposedly leads to the mythical Dryland. With the help of a mysterious drifter known simply as "the Mariner," Enola and the woman taking care of her, Helen, manage to escape. The three now depart in search of Dryland while continuing to flee from the Smokers.

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The first thing you'll notice is that this game looks bad. A big part of that is thanks to the putrid red and black color scheme of the Virtual Boy's screens. However, some games still manage to look good despite the Virtual Boy's limitations, but that's not the case here. Even though the Virtual Boy is technically capable of two colors, you mostly see one: black. You spend the whole game on the ocean, and the developers thought it'd be a brilliant idea if the water was rendered as a totally pitch black void of darkness. All you get for environmental visuals is the horizon, represented by a thin red line, and a setting sun in the background. The only other things you'll see are the characters, which admittedly do look decent, and some breakable objects. Unfortunately, the game's frame rate takes a massive drop whenever too many objects are within view, souring the experience even further. Even by the Virtual Boy's standards, this game looks awful. The music doesn't fair much better, especially since you can count the number of tracks on one hand.

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You control the Mariner aboard his trimaran, which is a type of boat, in case you aren't up on your seafaring vocabulary. The game is viewed from a behind-the-back perspective, with the Mariner's boat taking center stage. To control the boat, you use either the left or right directional pads to turn, the A or B buttons to accelerate, and the L or R buttons to fire bullets from your gun. It's possible to sort of get a bird's eye view by pressing down on either of the d-pads, but this view will only last for a few seconds. The controls are straightforward, but they don't feel very responsive or precise. Your movement is also quite sluggish, which is totally not cool. Maneuvering the boat is awkward and clumsy, but the controls aren't necessarily this game's worst offense. If anything, the controls are probably the best thing the game has going for it, even as cumbersome as they are.

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The objective of this wishy-washy adventure is to protect the drowning Atollers and Enola from being kidnapped by the Smokers. Smokers will ride in on their jet skis and assault you from all directions. If a Smoker manages to capture someone, they'll make a run for it in an attempt to leave the area with their prey. Killing the Smoker before he leaves the area will cause him to drop the Atoller, giving you another chance to save them. Saving more people improves your score. Once you eliminate all the Smokers, you'll move on to the next round and do it all over again. The enemies will get progressively harder as you move on, but not much else changes. There are an unlimited amount of rounds, so the game just continues on forever until you die. Since the game never truly changes, it gets excruciatingly repetitive after only a single round. Maniacally, the game touts support for nine players, but since the Virtual Boy has no link cable, you'll have to pass it down from person to person. It's also essentially the same thing as the single player, so it's a waste of time.

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This is one of the worst games of all time, it's based on one of the worst movies of all time, and to top it all off, it was released on one of the worst platforms of all time. Now that's a triple whammy. Without a doubt, this is the worst game on the Virtual Boy. That's quite a feat, because the Virtual Boy has one of the worst libraries of all time. Have I said "of all time" enough? Anyway, the only other game on the system that's close to being this bad is Virtual Lab, but Waterworld is definitely worse. Whatever you do, don't play Waterworld on the Virtual Boy. Avoid it like the plague, because it is the plague.

Word Count: 1,049

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