Brain Dead 13
Arse!” Is the first word that springs to mind when playing BrainDead 13, because Empire’s first PlayStation release (just before Pro Pinball) is nothing more than a clone of Dragon’s Lair, the ancient laserdisk coin-eater. It may be totally different cosmetically, but sadly this type of game does the PlayStation no favours because the gameplay is restricted and non-linear. But first to the plot, as I’m sure you’re all dying to hear about it.
You are Lance, a computer repairman on call 24 hours a day, who’s job, late one night, is to visit the abode of the megalomaniac Doctor Neurosis and fix his new super computer, BrainDead 13. What Lance doesn’t know is that in order for the computer to ultimately take over the world, it requires a human brain, and guess who’s the perfect donor? What follows is a cat ’n’ mouse game throughout castle Neurosis, as Lance battles the Doctor’s faithful henchman, Fritz, in an effort to get to the central control room and bugger up BrainDead 13.
Unfortunately, because this game is based on the old Dragon’s Lair philosophy that gamesplayers don’t really need to choose where to go as long as the graphics are good enough, BrainDead 13 is just as frustrating and ultimately linear as ever. All that’s changed is the media – compact disk instead of laserdisk. Has ten years taught us nothing?
But let’s be fair here. Quite clearly BrainDead 13 is aimed at a far younger audience than us sceptical, poisonous journos, and in that sense it does have some redeeming qualities. The most noticeable and striking aspect of the game is the clarity and detail of the cartoon graphics. The backgrounds have real depth to them and the animation on each of the characters is brilliant, not to mention funny. The facial expressions that the characters pull will raise a laugh (among the young), but the difficulty of the mission and the frustration of being continually killed off has you reaching for the power button. For much of the game, Lance is pursued by Fritz, who possesses an arsenal of weapons under his cloak. Many of these weapons and sharp instruments can be attached to the little bugger’s wrist, so Lance must always be aware of an ambush and be prepared to run away at any time! Fortunately, there are more choices to make when this happens, but you have to be quick or yet another ’humorous’ death will spool from the CD.
Lance usually only has a split second to make a decision otherwise he gets killed and you must begin again. There are absolutely loads of death sequences: Lance gets split in half, chopped up, burnt etc – all gory but funny in a Tom & Jerry/Itchy & Scratchy sort of way. As in most cartoons, no matter how much of a hammering Lance takes he always comes back for another go. Perseverance is the key because things become more enjoyable and the traps are more frequent towards the end. You certainly can’t judge this game in five minutes as you can with a simple shoot- ’em-up.
BrainDead 13 is enjoyable to play for a fair while and it’s certainly challenging, although the control system does take a while to get used to and it can be a bit unresponsive, especially if the joypad is dripping with sweat after sustained play. It’s the kind of game that makes you swear a lot.
There are lots of wacky characters to meet and different routes to take, so it has got guaranteed lastability and it’s bright and humorous enough to appeal to younger gamers, whilst also being tough enough to put experienced players to the test.
BrainDead 13 is nothing that hasn’t been seen before, but it’s still worth a look if you fancy a mad cartoon world instead of a standard platform game.