AUTHOR: Denis Mormahan
PUBLISHER: Porcelain Press
PRICE: AU$13.95 (Disk only, paddles)
After Denis Mormahan's
well-publicised split with publisher Double Vision last year,
many top games journos (including myself) lamented that the golden
age of C64 programming may have come to an end. Who could forget
Mormaham storming on to the scene as an independent programmer
with the hit Rock, Paper, Scissors three years ago? Double Vision
head Rich Wernak was one of the first to sense Dennis' raw talent
from that seminal offering and signed him up to a once mutually
beneficial contract that ultimately self-imploded during October's
messy court-case over royalties from Rolf Harris Skeet Shoot.
Mormaham said himself at the time that he had been so traumatised
by the whole experience that he might never write another game.
Well, Mormaham is indeed back, and seems to
have excelled himself with his latest release under the Porcelain
Press banner: Jaws 3d. It's interesting to note that Mormahan
was originally asked by Porcelain Press to write a game based
on Steven Spielberg's original (but less impressive in my opinion)
movie; Jaws. However, after Porcelain Press was unable to resolve
copyright issues with Spielberg, they cleverly snapped up the
rights to last year's smash hit follow-up movie (and one of my
all-time favourite films); Jaws 3d from director Joe Alves.
cuts his teeth at Porcelain
Presentation, as with all of Mormaham's games,
is impressive. Tucked into the tape cover is a 35' fold out 3d
great white pointer (that's 'Shark' for the benefit of our international
readers). The cover itself is constructed of blue and red plastic
and doubles as a pair of 3d glasses. The effect is astonishing.
It also adds some intrigue to the ongoing question of whether
top gamebox-artist Eldrid Flange would stay at Double Vision after
Mormaham left. Flange originally said that he would serve out
the remaining 21 years of his 25-year contract, which limits him
to working exclusively for Double Vision. However, on the bottom
left corner of the fold out great white pointer, in glorious 3d,
is the signature Dirdle Gleanf… I'll leave it to you to
work out who Porcelain's new mystery artist might be.*
So what about the actual game? Well, it's classic
Mormaham. The plot follows the movie faithfully, opening with
a cut-scene outlining the story so far. A young Great White shark
has stumbled into Florida's Sea World. A number of marine biologists
capture the shark and move it to a separate pen in order to study
it. However, the young shark, unused to being kept in captivity,
dies. This is where the trouble begins. The young shark's mother,
a massive 35' great white pointer,bent on exacting revenge on
those responsible for her son's death, attacks Sea World.
You play Mike Brody a marine biologist and son
of Mike Brody. Your mission is to kill the Great White and restore
order to Sea World. You control Mike via paddle. I know many readers
are now throwing their hands in the air in despair, as paddles
are not all that common. However, the extra AU$14.95 (assuming
you don't already own a set) is quickly forgotten once you realise
the benefit it gives you in terms of control.
The action takes place on a sideways scrolling
playfield. Rotating the paddle clockwise moves Mike to the right;
rotating it counter-clockwise moves him to the left. On land,
Mike jogs purposely, and in water, he moves with a graceful breast-stroke
action. Pressing fire causes Mike to hurl a marine biologist's
water ph-testing kit (containing a potent acid that burns on contact).
From a range of spin-off game merchandise released by Porcelain
- they've really captured the detail of the justly famous Mormaham
Early enemies come in various forms: electric
eels, sea snakes, moray eels, and deadly giant sea-worms. Each
enemy has its own personality and method of attack. If Mike successfully
dispatches these, he will eventually get to face the Great White
pointer mother herself. The action is frenetic and, although difficult,
ultimately rewarding. The final, monumental, battle with the Great
White matriarch is stunning.
Assuming Mike emerges victorious (and this will
need a lot of practice), the action starts again from the beginning.
Wisely, the difficulty level doesn't increase on successive play-throughs,
meaning that the game is endlessly playable and therefore represents
great value for money.
The graphics are up to Mormaham's usual standard,
but sadly the sound is not. I don't know if Great White pointers
actually make a similar barking laugh to dolphins, but the shark
in this game does. I was also a bit surprised by the effects given
to the sea snakes (a sort of cross between a half-strangled chimpanzee
and an over-excited hyena). Then again, Mormaham is a programmer,
not a marine biologist, and artistic geniuses are expected to
exercise a little license. That doesn't mean the music and effects
aren't good, they're just not quite on par with some of Mormahan's
previous work (e.g. Duck Season with Wham). However, these are
only minor issues and the quality of the overall package is what
It's great to see Mormaham back in such sparkling
form. My only other gripe is that it would have been fantastic
if Mormaham could have made the game 3-dimensional, in the spirit
of the movie on which it is based. If anyone could do it, Mormaham
could. But as we know however, computers are, and always will
Nigel "Sea-Monster" Untridge
*It's an anagram of Eldrid Flange… draw
your own conclusions.
RODENT RATING: 7.5
prefer meh fish battered"