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Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein – Sega CD

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein – Sega CD

PREFACE

Frankenstein; or the Modern Prometheus is a novel written by Mary Shelley, published in 1818.  Quite different than our culture’s modern portrayal of “Frankenstein” (or more correctly, Frankenstein’s monster), the novel explores complex themes of the relationship between the creator and his creation.  In many ways, the relationship between Victor Frankenstein and his creature is a symbol of humanity’s views towards their own supreme being.  Though a gothic horror tale at its core, the novel is a poignant reflection on man’s search for meaning, and the intellect’s inner conflict of science vs. faith.

frankenstein

One of many covers for the novel

Frankenstein’s monster made his film debut in the 1931 Universal film Frankenstein directed by James Whale.  (Well, actually, there was a slightly earlier film from 1910, only 16 minutes in length and produced during the silent era.)  While the film attempts to touch on some of the smaller issues of acceptance and societal prejudices, the monster himself is done a great injustice by appearing as little more than a gentle zombie.  In the original novel, the creature is quite articulate, well educated, and while described as large and grotesque, he is also shown to be capable of superhuman feats of strength and agility.  1935 saw the return of James Whale to the Frankenstein story, this time in the film The Bride of Frankenstein.  This film somewhat continues the original story, focusing on Dr. Frankenstein’s desire to create a mate for his creature rather than acquiescing to the monster’s demands for a mate in the novel.

The creature’s next stint in film began in the late 1950’s with Hammer’s Frankenstein series, 7 films that spanned over a decade.  While these films were closer to Whale’s vision than Shelley’s, at times themes in the novel were touched upon, particularly in the 5th entry of the franchise, Frankenstein Must be Destroyed.  In almost all of these works the doctor himself is presented as the main villain rather than the monster.

Two of the most faithful adaptations to the source material are 1975’s Terror of Frankenstein, a Swedish film, and 1993’s Frankenstein from Hallmark staring Donald Sutherland and topping out at over 3 hours.  Various other interpretations from the absurd to the humorous to the ultra-gory have popped up over the years with frank rebornvarying levels of success, but perhaps one of the most well-known is 1994’s Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein with Robert DeNiro as the monster.  This version of Frankenstein’s monster can finally talk and reason, although he is portrayed as needlessly violent and several elements of the story are mixed together to form the absolutely wild conclusion with Elizabeth herself taking the form of Frankenstein’s (monster’s) bride.  (In the novel, Elizabeth is the doctor’s betrothed and is killed by the monster.  While Frankenstein begins constructing a mate for the creature under threat of death, he destroys his work before its completion thus the mate is never properly created.)

In recent years studios have taken a more liberal and modern approach to the novel, clearly trying to integrate more of Shelley’s original themes while producing a substantial horror flick.  Some standouts include Frankenstein Unbound and Frankenstein Reborn, roughly adopting the novel’s framework and applying it to today’s society.  I doubt we will ever see a truly faithful film adaptation of the novel, but perhaps the increasingly reverent approach taken will get some people’s attention and encourage them to see what a complex and multi-layered tale Frankenstein is really about.

– Preface by The Cubist

REVIEW

Platform: Sega CD

Developer: Psygnosis / Bits Studios

Publisher: Sony Imagesoft

Release Date (NA): November 1994

Genre: Action-Adventure

Nerd Rating: 4 out of 10

Reviewed by NerdBerry

Based on Mary Shelley’s famous novel Frankenstein & the blockbuster film, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein was released for the Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis, and Sega CD. Irish Director and Actor Kenneth Branagh would lead the way for the classic 1994 film with a young and unknown Helena Bonham Carter and Oscar winner Robert De Niro. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein the Movie didn’t make the same waves that Francis Ford Coppola did with Bram Stoker’s Dracula, even if it did have a much more famous lead actor in Robert de Niro (sorry Ted, no bogus journey here). In 1994, Sony Imagesoft would release a Sega CD action-adventure game not too dissimilar photo 4 (3)from Bram Stoker’s Dracula for the Sega CD, but still very unique. And I guess that comes as no surprise considering both titles were developed by Psygnosis and published by Sony Imagesoft. As a matter of fact, I got both discs in a “DOUBLE DEAL” value pack which included both games in one Sega CD case.

Frankenstein is one of those few Sega CD titles that allow you to save the game to the internal RAM on the Sega CD console. This is a great feature as one will surely gouge their eyes out trying to play through this entire game in one sitting. Upon starting the game you will instantly be confused as to WTF you’re supposed to do. You’re playing as Frankenstein’s Monster in 1793 in Ingolstadt, Bavaria. Just like most of these games, it has a 2D environment with forced perspective to make it look 3D, but at first glance, you only assume your character can go left and right. I’m not at all sure what I need to do as there is nothing telling me where I should go and what I should do. I soon learned that your character can walk forwards, backwards, left, and right. This is nice. Sort of makes it like those beat ‘em up games (like Streets of Rage or something). Except there is no option to punch or kick anyone (not yet, anyway).

mary S FrankDespite a lengthy 3+ minute intro of odd moving gears, doors, random wood stuff, and a locked up coffin, there is no real introduction to the game or storyline here. I’m very confused as to who my character is and what I’m supposed to be doing. I mashed a few buttons; one of them froze my player. I didn’t know why. As it turns out, you have an inventory “bag”, and your items can be seen at the top of the screen. By pressing the A button, you can access your inventory and use them for certain things.

In the first room located just north of your starting point, you will come across 2 items: a loaf of bread and a spray canister full of acid. What I’m supposed to do with these is a mystery to me, but I assume the time will come when I will have to experiment. I retraced my steps back into the main room and found a pile of squirming eels that I couldn’t get past. I used the acid spray and they dissolved. I am now able to pass through. Okay, I see what’s going on. I think I get the gist of things now. It won’t let you use some of your items unless you’re in the right area, which is good; this way you won’t waste any of your inventory on the wrong things (which is very welcome considering there are no clues as to what item you’re supposed to use at what time).

Alright y’all, I don’t usually stray from my normal structure, but I have to ask… WTF KIND OF GAME IS THIS?! I walked into a room, a dead guy popped out of nowhere, the screen went blank, then all of a sudden we were facing each other and there were life bars at the top of the screen. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein goes from action game to fighting game (very Street Fighter-esque!). I punched, kicked, and headbutted this dead dude into a pile of rubble. Fight over. Move on. It was almost RPG-ish the way the fights pop up randomly and how there is a text box whenever I talk with other people. Very odd folks. Very odd.

mary-shelley-s-frankenstein-bram-stoker-s-dracula-sega-cd

Fighting in classic fashion

As I progressed I soon ran into my creator, Dr. Victor Frankenstein. He then offers to help “extinguish the vile abomination that he created.” Wait? You want to kill me? Fuck you! I am now tasked with fighting against my creator in this Street Fighter sort of setting. The graphics are pretty atrocious. Victor is nearly impossible to beat. But that’s beside the point… Why in the world would I be fightingmary_shelley's_frankenstein my creator within the first 3 minutes of the game?!

The sound effects aren’t too terrible and the music is very appropriate for the time period. I particularly liked the dark ominous music to go along with the low lighting throughout the game. I found it to be extremely difficult to fight against almost anybody as the fighting engine is awful and the buttons are extremely limited. Blocking isn’t done properly and there is no option to jump and attack in the air, instead you have to wait to land. Furthermore, the tediousness of walking around just to hopefully run into something to advance in the game isn’t done very well by Psygnosis. There isn’t enough direction or assistance… actually, there is NO direction or assistance. You’re thrown into the game with nothing but your controller and your open mind (after all, you wouldn’t be playing this game unless you had an open mind, correct?).

ms frankenstein_1994_movie_2_super

The inimitable De Niro

Overall, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein fails to provide any sort of enjoyment for the player. It isn’t a well developed game and the concept is a complete mystery. It’s confusing as shit even when you know what general direction you’re supposed to go. There are six large levels chockfull of assorted enemies. The perspective can be isometric, forced isometric, or a side view. I’m not a fan of any of the perspectives. This is not a broken game, however. It does function properly and it isn’t an impossible game either. There is a beginning, middle, and an end. Every step of the way is confusing. One feature I particularly like is the inventory system. I like the variety of options and the fact that I can hold up to 8 items at once. I thoroughly disliked the graphics. I thought they were bland and looked terrible on my TV. I can’t say enough about how much this game sucks, even if it is a doable game. I would avoid this one if at all possible. It’s no wonder Sony Imagesoft felt the need to package Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein with Bram Stoker’s Dracula… Both are horrible but with a solid BOGO deal, somebody is bound to buy it.

Nerd Rating: 4 out of 10

Reviewed by NerdBerry

 

Written by Nerdberry

Nerdberry

What’s up yall? David “Nerdberry” here! I am the founder of Nerd Bacon and the current co-owner (and CEO) along with partner David “theWatchman!” I hail from North Carolina, hence my love for all things pork! Oh, you’re not familiar with NC? Well I’m not 100% sure, but I am pretty confident that NC and VA lead the nation in pork production. I could be wrong, but even if I am, I still love bacon!

Come enjoy some bacon and games with us yall.

 
 

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