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Review: The Final Gate - CD32 from Bigg Wolf
By: Jason Compton
The story behind Final Gate's release is one I'd like to hear more often.
The first part happens too much, the second, too little.
Alternative Software developed Final Gate, made a game out of it, and went
so far as to burn CDs. But it was never released.
Bigg Wolf of the US stepped in, bought up the CDs and released the game.
Which is nice to see...too often, I'm hearing of projects developed for the
Amiga but never released (and the evidence of them is pretty staggering,
considering that Ocean and Microprose had this habit of advertising them
for months but deciding that taking the product to market would result in
a loss above their development costs.) So in this case, Final Gate gets to
see the light of day after all.
The game boasts of offering FMV gameplay without an FMV cartridge. This
should already be setting off the CDXL alarms in your head. (CDXL, for
those unfamiliar with the CD32 and CDTV, is Commodore's format for
quarter-screenish 30fps animation, which can come from a video source or
other animation, such as the rendered Pirates' Gold intro.) In fact, the
game is very reminiscent of other attempts at "FMV" gaming on standard
Amiga setups. The two that leap to mind are Tomcat and Desert Apache from
Dark Unicorn Productions, a shareware team.
The plot of Final Gate, so far as I can make out, is this: you're a guy
with a machine gun hanging out on a speedboat with a buddy of yours.
Suddenly (much like a cat jumping up and running to another room for no
good reason) you realize you have to be somewhere else, shooting at things.
So your buddy starts up the boat and you're off, with a quarter-screen view
of the scenery whizzing by as the boat drives on. You'll quickly notice
lots of garishly colored missiles and projectiles coming at you, which you
need to move your crosshair (with a gamepad) in order to shoot. Let them
hit you, and you lose health points. From time to time, you'll have the
opportunity to shoot an FMV person (so distinguished by the white aiming
guides you see near him.) Take him out, and you get a special point and
FMV bonus. Miss him, and he shoots you, taking away a lot of your precious
health. Final Gate suffers from "power-up-itis", so there are some special
flying objects you can shoot which will benefit you.
If you've followed me this far, you've got a good feel for Final Gate. The
camera work is passable but nothing that will win cinematographic awards.
The gameplay, well, it's a lot like Tomcat and Apache, where you take your
sprite and shoot at other sprites against a FMV backdrop. I have to admit
that I wish the developers had made the CDXL full-screen, despite the
blockiness that introduces, because that enhancement made Apache far
superior to Tomcat.
By my reckoning, Final Gate is a pretty middle-of-the-road CD32 game. I
can easily rattle off a host of other CD32 titles I enjoyed a lot less, but
it's certainly no Pirates' Gold (crashes and all), Liberation, or
Microcosm. Note that Microcosm is itself a CDXL "shoot your bright sprite
at other bright sprites" game, but it's all a question of implementation
and mood, and Final Gate doesn't quite suck you in the way Microcosm does.
Bigg Wolf certainly seems to realize that Final Gate isn't the end-all
be-all of gaming...the exceptionally limited documentation (all of two
sides of a jewel box insert) is amusingly tongue-in-cheek.
Final Gate was developed for the CD32, but is actually playable to a point
on a stock A4000T without any software help--you'll find that it crashes
after you die, however.
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