Friday, 13 July 2018

Crap Games #11

Bimini Run (1990)
By: Microsmiths / Nuvision Entertainment Genre: Racing / Shooting Players: 1 Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: Sega MegaDrive / Genesis First Day Score: 23,660
Also Available For: Nothing

Not very bright but quite a nice title screen...
There aren't too many speedboat-based games around so a good few MegaDrive owners took an interest in this one leading up to its early-90's release. Sadly, however, it didn't fare too well with reviewers of the time and has barely been mentioned by anyone since. It popped back in my head recently while watching Dexter though (he takes his boat to Bimini at one point which is apparently a district of the Bahamas), so I thought it would be an opportune time to feature it here. But did it deserve such... apathy? Well, I had a quick go a couple of years ago and I thought it was dreadful, but playing it again now, in more detail this time, it's actually not that bad. The backstory certainly makes it seem promising - we're in real Miami Vice territory here. I'm not sure if the Hawaiian shirt-clad protagonist is a cop actually, but there's plenty of chasing bad guys and secret hideaways and all that.

An enemy boat and chopper to take out here...
The main objective of the game is for Kenji to save his sister Kim from the evil Dr. Orca (snigger) who is of course some sort of dastardly supervillain. Quite what he wants with her is unclear - perhaps she is a hottie and required in a purely ornamental way - but poor Kenji is incensed regardless, and sets off in pursuit with his good buddy Luka in tow. Being the Caribbean, this means boats, and since Kenji and Luka are such hipcats, this means speedboats. Their stylish crimson vessel fits that description too, as it can reach speeds of almost 100mph with ease (perhaps thanks to its numerically inconsistent go-faster stripes). The action is viewed from a pretend 3D 'behind boat' perspective, possibly to accommodate the breakneck speeds, around various coastal waterways. It is on these the game's six stages (or 'chapters') take place which have a variety of objectives but basically just involve lots of shooting.

The dashboard of you boat has a TV screen, apparently!
Yes indeed, for while Kenji's vessel may well be a sleek red pleasure craft, that doesn't stop either of its occupants from using weapons aboard in the form of a shoulder-mounted cannon which can fire three kinds of shot - a short-to-medium range forward shot, a longer range cannonball type shot, and the third type shoots upward. All will need to be utilised often as completion of all your missions will be hampered by many hostile goons, presumably Orca's minions, who are frequently found in their own boats (which are black, of course) or flying overhead in choppers (snigger), and you'll have to face some more unusual enemies later in the game too. It's definitely not simply a case of driving around (is it still 'driving' with boats?) at full pelt shooting wildly at everything though. You have a finite supply of fuel for one thing, so you need to travel as directly as possible wherever possible, and there is also plenty of other troublesome stuff to get in your way too!

It can be tricky to take out land-based defences...
This can include The Earth (yes, you can beach your boat), and at sea you need to watch out for exposed reefs and other obstacles, and being the Bahamas there are of course a load of other boats dotted around too. Unsurprisingly, contact with any of this stuff will cost you your boat. Fortunately, Kenji seems to have a few spare ones, but his supply won't last long. Run out of those and you'll need to use a continue which are also limited in supply. It's quite a tough game too - most stages are quite short and won't take long to get through with practise, but after probably the first couple the amount of practise you need increases greatly! Enemy shots soon increase in accuracy and in number and it's not easy to dodge them in a speedboat. Running out of fuel can be an issue at first too, as the watery 'landscape' frequently looks the same and there are often no points of reference. Once you realise there's a map it gets a bit easier though, from that perspective at least!

The map shows islands, enemies, and obstacles...
You also receive advice/directions from some dude on the radio which helps. Getting the right balance between speed/maneuverability is very important too, as well as mastering use of your cannons, particularly the somewhat clunky and inaccurate forward cannon, but there are other difficulties that you can't do too much about. The collision-detection seemed a bit vague and inconsistent to me, for example, and the further into the game you get the more unfair, unavoidable deaths you'll suffer as well. It's not the hardest game I've ever played though, and it isn't the worst either. Probably at least part of the reason for this is its setting - how many other games can you think of like this? There were a few racing/shooting games here and there in the day, but none that let you weave a speedboat around yachts during a lightning storm while shooting down helicopters! Okay, that sounds much more awesome than the game actually is, but it does make it more appealing doesn't it?

Enemy boats attack en masse under cover of darkness...
That is about the only noteworthy thing here though. Audio/visuals are quite poor with weedy in-game music and barely functional effects that do a frankly woeful job of conveying a Caribbean atmosphere (a real missed opportunity there), and the graphics aren't too much better, with very basic scenery and substandard animation. There is some parallax on the sea and a nighttime stage with lightning, but there is very little variety - that's understandable I guess but once the novelty of the setting wears off, there isn't much to keep interest levels up. It isn't a big game either, and there's not that much to see. It can be enjoyable while it lasts though, and will at least provide a bit of fun before boredom/frustration sets in. As mentioned, it's not as bad as I initially thought, and its unique premise will inject some interest, but with a bit more variety and a coat of polish or two it could've been so much better.

RKS Score: 6/10

Gameplay Video: here's a sample video of the game showing ten minutes of action, courtesy of the splendid fellow(s) at the appropriately-named 10min Gameplay (check out their great channel here).


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