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03-24-12, 07:50 AM
Every week, Richard Cobbett (http://www.richardcobbett.com) rolls the dice to bring you an obscure slice of gaming history, from lost gems to weapons grade atrocities. This week, a team-up 200 million years in the making that nobody was asking for, but probably should have! If only the dinos were in the driving seat‚?¶

Cadillacs and Dinosaurs harks back to a more primitive age, and I don‚??t mean the Triassic. It may have dinosaurs, it may be set in the future, but its heart is firmly back in the 90s ‚?? a time when dudes were radical, cool still was, and games companies could sell a cold cowpat in a box if they told everyone it was the future. Hell, Sega did it twice, first with the Sega CD that replaced ‚??playing games‚?? with ‚??watching incredibly bad FMV‚??, and then with the 32X Megadrive upgrade; an add-on that actually laughed in your face for wasting your last opportunity to upgrade to a Super Nintendo. Or so I understand.

Unfortunately for everyone, while there were decent Sega CD games, it‚??s mostly the bad ones that both stand out, and made for easy porting to other, better systems. Is Cadillacs and Dinosaurs one of these much-desired hidden gems? Hahahaha. Of course not. It‚??s Cadillacs and Dinosaurs.



http://media.pcgamer.com/files/2012/03/cad_3.jpgBRAKE! FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, BRAKE! BRAKE!


Cadillacs and Dinosaurs is based on a comic I haven‚??t read, which spawned a one-series cartoon show that I‚??ve never seen. Taking a quick gander on the mighty YouTube though (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V9c2K4Jl5LI), it looks like a fairly standard attempt at what‚??s now called ‚??transmedia‚??, but which was more honestly known as the time as ‚??trying to make a ****load of money‚??. The success of shows like Teenage Mutant Ninja/Hero Turtles (delete according to the paranoia of your government in the 80s/90s) lead to more than a few comics getting a shot at a wider audience, and Cadillacs and Dinosaurs definitely feels like one of them. Not least because the show adaptation was created by one Steven E. de Souza, best known in gaming circles as the writer and director of the godawful Street Fighter movie, and its one great scene. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iVzAMmpMra8)

The basic premise is that in the 26th century, civilisation has fallen and the dinosaurs have returned for no apparent reason except gloating. ‚??How many million years did you apes last then?‚?? you can practically see a giggling T-Rex inquire. ‚??Love what you‚??ve done with the place by the way. We were thinking of putting a skylight in the ozone layer too, but you know. Asteroids. Forward planning‚?¶‚??

The show does at least have the good manners to make the dinosaurs better than others that floated around near the start of the decade. It‚??s hard to imagine Cadillacs and Denver The Last Dinosaur (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X1fUqSQFdAI) getting its own game, though Cadillacs and Dink The Little Dinosaur (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nv4_TUx2Ho0) has some roadkill/snuff potential I personally wouldn‚??t have objected to. Even with proper dinosaurs though, it looks fairly dull, with fairly typical 90s problems even in the intro (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V9c2K4Jl5LI). ‚??In this savage land, one man stands alone ‚?? Jack Tenrac!‚?? declares the narrator, pointedly ignoring the fact that he clearly has a partner. I‚??m sure that has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that said partner is of the lady-persuasion. Definitely not‚?¶

But that‚??s the show. This is the version of the story as it appeared in-game.



Got to love the casual ‚??a world that logically should not exist‚?? bit, huh?

By ‚??game‚??, I should be more specific. This was a driving based shooter for PC and Sega CD, but there was actually a second one out there too ‚?? a shameless reskin of Final Fight (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2i6cARObHcI&feature=related) for arcades. It‚??s not very good, but it does feature a wrestler-type trying to pile-drive a Jurassic Park style Velociraptor.

The home version on the other hand‚?¶ oh dear. Extinction‚??s too good for it.



There are cool things you could do in a world where people drive around in a Cadillac and also there are dinosaurs. This being a Sega CD game originally though, it should come as very little surprise to anyone who‚??s ever seen games on that system that creators Rocket Science Games (named after what they clearly weren‚??t, as with all subsidiaries of its parent company Games Worth Playing Inc.) opted to make an FMV shooter instead. These games worked‚?¶ in the loosest possible sense‚?¶ by playing a video on the screen and pasting your character, enemies and explosions over the top.

The benefit of this approach was that this allowed for 3D animation far in advance of what any real-time engine could do at the time, and a few games even did it with enough style to thrive. Megarace (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aLfNNBh8zGs&feature=related) for instance squeezed three games out of this technique, and the comedy stylings of its human skidmark host Lance Boyle. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FgauADPgfKQ) Probably the most successful though was Rebel Assault (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=359qyiXskCE), which mixed that approach and Star Wars to create‚?¶ well, maybe we‚??ll take a look at that some other week.

To try and compensate for the lack of real control, many games tried bolting bits onto the action. Basic branching paths for instance. Convoluted rules, like the ones in Sewer Shark (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s1WEq3dhnnI). Boss fights, like Microcosm (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IooZX5VQRFc). Or in the case of a personal war injury, Mortimer and the Riddles of the Medallion (http://www.pcgamer.com/2011/03/19/saturday-crapshoot-mortimer-and-the-riddles-of-the-medallion/), an edutainment element and songs that will never (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AJZ2osmrdmI&feature=relmfu), ever get out of your skull (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7WmoN76Lg0Y&feature=relmfu). You have been warned.



Cadillacs and Dinosaurs adds two extras. The first is that you have to both drive and steer at the same time, which is trickier than it sounds when everything you need to dodge and hit jumps out of nowhere to hit you. The second is a sadistic level of difficulty that seems to take active offence at you getting it out of bed in the morning. Little bumps and knocks on the road take off a bit of health, which is fine. Anything else kills you dead and throws you right back to the start of the stage. Dinosaurs leaning onto the screen. Larger ones walking past. Pits. Large branches. Your psychotic driver never slows down for a second, never mind picking up on the fact that it‚??s hard to target incoming obstacles when they‚??re whooshing past at Warp Factor YAAARGH! Even finishing the first level is an achievement, requiring absolute memorisation of every deathtrap even on the easiest mode. Believe me, I tried.

Except honestly, the deaths are the best part of the game.

There‚??s something inherently satisfying about watching people you hate get squished by dinosaurs, and while I‚??m sure the heroes of Cadillacs and Dinosaurs are lovely, lovely people if you get to know their story, their obsessions with hurling themselves into death‚??s domain doesn‚??t exactly make you want to invite them round for dinner. If you did, you‚??d probably find them hours later with their heads crammed into the oven and a beatific smile plastered across on their stupid charred faces. Nobody needs to find that in the middle of the night, especially if the bin men aren‚??t going to be round for another week.

What? You think this game has more common sense than that? Check out its own health warning:

http://media.pcgamer.com/files/2012/03/cad_warning.png

Doesn‚??t say a damn thing about unloading semi-automatic weapons at dinosaurs though, does it? Last I checked, that‚??s the second leading cause of death next to things that actually happen‚?¶

Interestingly, you‚??re not really supposed to shoot at the dinosaurs. The main character makes a specific point of telling you not to hit live targets, at least in the opening, though he‚??d probably do a better job of getting through their territory without spooking them if he wasn‚??t‚?¶ you know‚?¶ driving a Cadillac at a million miles per hour right under their legs. Just one more safety no-no the intro forgot.

Even with this, the dinosaurs in the first area don‚??t seem particularly hostile, just irritated. It‚??s hard to blame them. Not only are you barging right past as if you own the planet, you‚??re doing so while driving a flashy car powered by a tank of their great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, grandfathers‚?? decomposed corpses.

In some cases, they might not even be trying to kill you ‚?? just leaning through the trees on a peaceful morning only to get shot in the face by a gun-toting loonie and almost smashed into by her hard-driving dick of a partner. If you were them, you‚??d bring down your foot and put them out of your misery too. It may not be nice, but at least you can be sure great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, grandfather would approve.

http://media.pcgamer.com/files/2012/03/cad_2.jpgYOU ARSEHOLE! HOW DID YOU NOT SEE ME? I'M HUGE!


Even ignoring the sadistic difficulty level, bad controls, and the fact that you can watch all fifteen or so glorious minutes of what passes for the story on YouTube aside, the amusement of playing a game called Cadillacs and Dinosaurs soon fades. If only there was another game out there that combined driving and shooting and dinosaurs in an even sillier way‚?¶ one with ridiculous action, and ideally a respectable license to make its insanity all the more endearing and inappropriate.

What? What was that? There is? Oh, universe, you shouldn‚??t have‚?¶



‚?¶on second thoughts, no. You really, really shouldn‚??t.

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