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Corpse Killer (Mac, Sega Mega-CD 32X, Mega-CD, 3DO)

The reviews on this site are the text versions of the videos on my YouTube channel. The text based reviews use (if at all) very little pictures. Please follow the link to the corresponding video in order to see in game graphics.

Corpse Killer was made by Digital Pictures in 1994 for Apple Macintosh, Sega Mega-CD, Sega Mega-CD 32X and the 3DO. In 1995 the game was ported to the Sega Saturn. Apart from the Saturn version all these games can be played with a light gun. The odd ball here is the Mac version, which had unofficial Act-Labs USB gun support. Corpse Killer uses digitized live action video for its enemies and interrupts game play with full motion video sequences. Some of these sequences were cut into a movie called "game over" in the year 2003.

Most of the footage I am going to show is from the Sega Mega-CD 32X version of the game. I chose it because it is one of only six games which are the entire library of the system.

In the game's story Dr. Hellman was working for the US department of defense. He researched the possibilities to use voodoo and black magic in the so called project man power. Some day he was fired and a short time later he disappeared from the public eyes. Dr. Hellman kept a few supporters in the Pentagon. That allowed him to retreat to a tropical island where he continued his work. The player is a member of a small Navy Seals strike force, with the mission to kill Dr. Hellman, as a preparation for an air strike against his facilities. Except from the player all soldiers were caught. The player meets a treasure hunter and a journalist and together they try to stop Dr. Hellman.

Every mission can be postponed by pressing the abort button, which brings the player to a base camp at a graveyard. When the graveyard is entered via aborting a mission, it gets attacked and has to be defended. From the base camp the player may listen to information, save the game, or select a mission form a map screen. The main missions are in the so called zombie town, marked with a skull. It is entered via a level in which a protected gate has to be penetrated. From there the player may either cross a swamp or a zombie infested village in order to reach the fort, which itself consists of four areas: The entrance, the courtyard, an outer altar and finally an inner altar, were Navy Seals who were turned to zombies are cured by shooting them with bullets coated with a special plant juice.

This series of levels has to be repeated tree times, rescuing four soldiers in the process. With the information gained from them, the player may then approach Dr. Hellman's headquarters. It is composed of two similar levels at the entrance followed by the final boss fight.

Besides the main levels, on the map screen are bonus missions, which grant items, health and ammunition. These missions take place in a random location, no matter where they are located on the map itself. An exception to this are bonus missions which are done in favor of the treasure hunter or the reporter. When selecting a bonus mission sometimes randomly a so called ambush level is triggered.

The games can either be controlled via controller or light gun. The American Laser Games Gamegun can be used in every console light gun version. Additional to that, the Sega Mega-CD and Mega-CD 32X versions support the Sega Menacer. Personally I used the Radica Menacer which I showed previously in episode 24. When using the game pad shots can be fired full automatic whereas shots are fired semi automatic when using a light gun.

Similar to other light gun games such as Demolition Man, there is always a reticle on screen which shows the last location that was hit by a shot. However Corpse Killer puts additional red reticles on screen as soon as an enemy was hit. Although just one of these is shown at any given time, and although they disappear after a while, it was quite distracting to me at the beginning. An exception is the Mac version, which very briefly shows a splatter of blood instead of a second reticle.

There is a rich variety of enemies. Some of them are usually invincible towards non plant coated ammunition and others change color. The latter either provide benefit or disadvantage to the player, depending on the color they were when being killed. Actually these color changing zombies should just go through various shades of gray from white all the way to black, but just the 3DO version did it right and the other two light gun versions messed up. In the Mac version these Zombies change binary between black and white.

This picture compares the graphics of the different versions. The Mac version lacks some detail, but is apart from that very good looking. The 3DO version looks the best, but is a tad soft. The Mega-CD 32X version is very detailed and sharp. The Mega-CD version is so strongly compressed, that it looks like it was done in a surreal art style by intention. Ironically this is a strong advantage, as the stage setting and the costumes don't look very realistic when seen sharp and clearly. The Saturn version is surprisingly grainy but makes up for it by being the only full screen version.

Now I am showing the same part of the game on every light gun supporting system, while speaking about specific advantages and disadvantages. The Mac version has nice looking cut scenes but has some issues with stutter while presenting them. The game play looks good, while remaining fluent. The enemies blend here very well with the back ground and don't look as much cut out as in the other higher quality versions. Ammunition is changed by shooting the appropriate icon. The 3DO version runs very smooth without video or audio issues. The Gamegun has no sights, which is somewhat of a bummer. Furthermore the gun has just one button which is used for the pause function. Therefore the player has to hold a controller in the second hand in order to swap between the available kinds of bullets. The Mega-CD version runs as smooth as the 3DO version, both in video and during game play. It has the same map and HUD as the Mega-CD 32X version, but lacks its audio and video problems. Compared to the other versions it is the most readily available. The Mega-CD 32X version suffers of severe audio stutter. It ruins some of the musical scores completely. While playing FMV sequences sometimes frames are dropped. In this version the enemies don't blend as well into the background as in the other versions and the enemies look the most shimmery here. The PAL version of the Mega-CD 32X port seems to be collectible and fetches quite high prices.

Personally I have mixed feelings about this game. I disliked the forced grinding, which made me completing a lot of very similar missions in order to stock up ammunition and health for the main missions. In general the game is very repetitive as it forces the player to beat the same levels over and over again. On the other hand I liked the save feature which made loosing less frustrating. In my opinion the difficulty is rather steep and therefore it felt quite rewarding beating the game. I think every version of the game is flawed, but if I had to recommend one particular version I would pick the Sega Mega-CD version.

The cover shows a zombie in front of a tropical backdrop. I like it and I think I shows pretty well that the costumes of some zombies were not too bad.