Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Demolition Man (Mega Drive/SNES)

Demolition Man title screen genesis mega drive
Developer:Alexandria|Release Date:1995|Systems:Mega Drive/Genesis, Mega CD, SNES

This week on Super Adventures I'm taking a quick look at another movie tie-in! I hope it's better than that Stargate platformer I played a while ago. Though it will be a platformer, there's no doubt of that.

Demolition Man is a apparently one of just three games developed by Alexandria before they vanished in late 1995, with the others being Sylvester and Tweety in Cagey Capers... and Izzy's Quest for the Olympic Rings, which I wrote about way back in the days when I didn't write much. In fact I kind of sucked and so did that game.

Speaking of 1995, that's also the year that the game was released, which is pretty late for a 16-bit console game, especially one that's based on a 1993 movie. They weren't exactly striking when the iron was hot there. In fact if it'd come out any later then the dystopian future levels would actually be set in the past.

By the way I'm playing the Mega Drive/SNES Demolition Man not the 3DO game, which is one of those variety pack licensed film tie-ins that keep switching genre and are invariably terrible. Though it does have the genuine movie soundtrack and includes FMV clips of Sylvester Stallone, Wesley Snipes and Jesse Ventura filmed exclusively for the game! The Mega Drive and SNES versions, on the other hand, don't. But what they do have is a title that literally explodes onto the screen letter by letter in little bursts of flame before a synthy guitar riff plays, and that's cool too.

Yep that's Stallone and Snipes alright. It's not always a sure thing that video game art is going to bear any resemblance to the actors, or even human beings in general, but the artist has done well in capturing their likenesses. It's nice to finally get these two onto my site as I don't think I've seen either of them show up in a game so far. I've played as Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis a few times, Mel Gibson, Danny Glover, Kurt Russell, Harrison Ford, Eddie Murphy, even Kevin Costner, but not these two.

Wait, I recognise this menu screen now! They've based it on the movie poster, even down to all the boxes and writing in the background. Though the poster doesn't have 'START', 'OPTIONS' and 'ACTIONS' written on it in the Diablo font. Yeah I know that it's called 'Exocet' and it's actually used in the movie, but it'll always be the Diablo font to me.

It's a shame there's no 'CONTINUE' or 'PASSWORD' options there, but I am curious about what selecting 'ACTIONS' is going do. You don't see that written on a menu screen all that often.

Oh it's a help screen that runs through the controls. Well that's cool, I fully endorse this feature. Even if it is a long list of things that I'll have forgotten by the time the first level starts.

Sound test, woo!

Controller configuration is another good feature, because there ain't no way I'm leaving the jump button all of the way over there. I guess I'm playing on 'Crazed' difficulty though seeing as my other options are 'Calm and 'Total Demolition', and I only want moderate demolition.

Hey here's an idea for my next article: pictures of game controllers on options screens. Just 30 different pixelled illustrations of Mega Drive and SNES pads with witty comments underneath like: "This controller has been coloured blue and has red lines pointing to the buttons. In reality Mega Drive controllers are in fact black." I think that could be a big hit with all my readers.


The first chapter of the game takes place in the grim dystopian future of 1996, where Los Angeles is on fire and cops don't think there's anything weird about leaping out of a Chinook helicopter on a bungee cable to single-handedly resolve a hostage situation..

This particular cop is John Spartan, the Demolition Man, and we get a bit of sampled speech from him as he prepares to leap out, saying "Send a maniac to catch one... heads up!"

But before he jumps I want to compare helicopters. That's the Mega Drive version on the left and the Super NES version the right. It seems that the artists have gone to the trouble of redrawing everything to compensate for the SNES's horizontally squished output, so it features a suitably thinner Spartan, but the lower sprite detail and that melted Chinook means I'm going to have to give this round to the Sega game. Either way you're getting the purple moody lighting though.

You know I don't think the game's even told me Spartan's name yet. The only context I've been given for any of this is the place and the year. Oh, plus '"LAPD" is written on the side of the chopper.

Oh that's cool, not only do I get to keep his moody purple rim lighting, but I've also been given control before he's even finished bouncing. So I'm taking the opportunity to take a few shots at this guy on the roof before I land. This is actually pretty effective, I wonder why solo bungee assaults never caught on with SWAT in real life.

By the way you're not meant to see the game art looking all stripy like this. It's a dithering trick that I've noticed appear in a few Mega Drive games, though rarely as heavily as this, that takes advantage of a CRT TV's fuzziness and rubbish video cables to soften the image and give the illusion of extra colours.

Here's what it looks like when you fuzz the image up a bit, to prove that there's a method to their stripy madness:

Gaze in amazement as extra shades have appeared out of nowhere! I'm not going to deface the rest of my pristine screenshots like this though so don't get used to it.

Also gaze that that guy in the top right; I just shot him so hard with my regular non-sci-fi handgun that his skeleton started glowing. It's doubly impressive seeing as that bullet should've flown right over his head. Seems that my diagonal aiming doesn't have to be perfect.

It's a bit like that Stargate game as if I'm already moving when I hold the shoot button, he'll fire on the move. But if I'm standing still and hold shoot, he'll stay put and I can use the d-pad to aim. Except on the SNES, which has separate buttons.

This is more fun to me than Stargate so far though. More fun than that SNES Judge Dredd game that just jumped into my mind as well.

Speaking of jumping, man this guy's quick when he's airborne. He's one one side, then he's on the other in a blink of an eye.

Though that depends on what kind of jump he's doing really, as he only does a long jump like this if I'm holding a direction on the d-pad. If I just tap a direction and press jump he hops forward a little, and if I leave the d-pad alone he leaps straight up into the air to grab onto the first ledge he comes across.

This is a bit of a concern because it means I've got to make sure I've got a little bit of a run up before leaping a gap, as a high jump isn't taking me anywhere but the gaping maw of an instant-death abyss. I mean it's not something I've been having to consciously think about, but I really should bear in mind that once he's in the air I don't have much say in where he ends up.

I thought I was being clever here, taking this thug out with grenades instead of climbing up and giving him an invitation to chip away at my health bar, but nope. In fact I was the opposite of clever.

In my defence I didn't notice that those were actually Molotovs I was throwing because the wall covered up the flames. At least now I've tested whether fire's bad or not. Turns out that fire is bad, and I shouldn't try wading through it in future.

I've also tested what happens when I get Spartan killed and I've learned that he respawns close nearby, with all the enemies remaining dead.

Super Nintendo
Here's the Super Nintendo game for comparison, just to confirm that it's still exactly the same thing. Though actually there are two massive differences that I've noticed so far: someone keeps shining a search light across the level and dying enemies don't display their glowing skeletons any more. Maybe Nintendo had a policy against skeletons or something.

If you're wondering how I killed that guy on the right... you're not alone. Not that I'm complaining. In fact I'm glad I could get rid of him quickly so I could turn around and shoot the bloke who'd suddenly teleported in behind me. It doesn't seem like enemies respawn when I scroll the screen, I just occasionally hit an invisible trigger which makes one appear to put a bullet in my back.

I'm kind of vulnerable from behind because of the way the camera works. You can see how it swings around to give me the best view of what's in front of me. Hey there's a temporary gun pick up in front of me! I'm going to grab that and temporarily shoot people a little better.

Wow, there's so many bizarre and inexplicable things going on in this GIF that I'm going to have to list them:
  • There's a coil of bungee cord lying here at the top of a building.
  • Spartan just grabbed the cord and immediately leapt off the building without any idea how long it is or of it's even tied to anything.
  • You can't detonate C-4 with a bullet like that! I mean I haven't tried it personally, but I'm sure they did it on MythBusters once.
  • I ran into an enemy and wasn't hurt! That goes against all the laws of platformers.
  • A giant flashing HOTDOG sign?
  • Also guns don't float, and first aid kits don't just disappear and cure all wounds the instant you touch them. This is really damaging my suspension of disbelief.


Hey I found Simon Phoenix, the 21st century's most ruthless criminal. But this is still the 20th century so he's mostly just standing around and waving at me. I can't reach him directly though, so I'm going to have to find another way around.

This level's been pretty straightforward so far, and I appreciate that it hasn't made me waste my time solving a maze or finding 10 bombs or anything like that, but there's a little scope for exploration. On the SNES I got here a different way, by climbing up a tower and taking a zipline with an 1UP along the way.

Anyway, I climbed the ladder and ran around the top of the building, then back the other way, and then I finally caught up with Phoenix. But then I stopped and opened fire on him in a room full of C-4, like an idiot. Turns out I was supposed to run through the exploding building, not wait around to be blown up.


So that was the easiest boss fight I've ever had. All I had to do was not fight him and run forward instead, and I earned myself this screen of naked pixel Sylvester Stallone in a block of ice!

This is pretty much all the story the game's been interested in sharing with me. John Spartan was convicted of manslaughter but he's been released and reinstated as a cop to hunt down Simon Phoenix again. If you want to know why he was arrested for manslaughter, or what Simon Phoenix's deal is, or anything then you've got to watch the movie (or read the manual I guess). In fact I think this is the first time it's been revealed that he's called John Spartan.

Plus it's also been revealed that he's Chin Hitler. I'm not saying I could pixel a better tiny Sylvester Stallone face myself, but damn.

If you're wondering, the Sega CD version is pretty much the same experience to this point, with synth music streamed off the disc instead of played on the FM sound chip, but it does at least throw in a couple of video clips to justify its existence.

Sega Mega CD
Turns out that after chasing his pixel nemesis out of an exploding building during gameplay, our hero ended up right back inside again, this time carrying an unconscious Phoenix on his back.

This is pretty much exactly the video quality you get from the FMV by the way, there's been nothing lost by converting it to GIF. Though in the actual game he eventually makes it to the window and escapes before the whole building comes down. So that's good, it's nice to have a bit of reward at the end of a level.

Sega Mega CD
But then the video keeps going with more clips from the movie, quickly rushing through the story that takes place between levels 1 and 2. In fact there was about 3 minutes of video here before I hacked it down to nothing, with scenes of actors talking and everything! All the plot that's missing from the cartridge versions seems to be right here.

Plus it's nice to see Sandra Bullock actually turn up in the game, seeing as she's a huge part of the movie. This is all entirely skippable though if you'd rather not have a movie break during your run and gun platformer.

Thanks computer, I feel gr8.

Wow, I killed 57 people on that level? Felt like more like 12. Still, I'm sure they probably all deserved it. I've only got the two continues left though, which is troubling.

Super Nintendo
Here's the same room in the SNES version, with a bit more of that nasty early 90s 3D rendered look to it. This seems like it should be a mission select map, but right now it's just telling me where I'm going and what I'm doing when I get there:
"Phoenix seeks weapons in the museum. Rescue the hostages and capture Phoenix."
While I was copying that from the scrolling text the game kept beeping at me and saying "MDK" over and over, which turned out to be quite annoying. And it's still doing it. Alright, fine, I'll go the museum and shoot Phoenix with bullets until he's captured, just turn the alarm off already!

Whoa, the future's so different! People in this time period have an entirely different perspective on life. Plus they burn me on touch, so I can't afford to let them get close any more.

Level two feels like an entirely different game, with the only common thread being shooting people. It's more like Smash TV, or that Skeleton Krew game I played a while back. Even the pace of the combat is different as now I'm being swarmed by the bastards. Seems that Phoenix has emptied out the entire prison and brought them here, and there was enough guns and ammo on display for everyone!

You can tell that most of these gentlemen aren't from around these parts as the locals to this time dress in purple (or grey on the SNES) and wear hats. There's a few being held hostage around the museum and I have to find and rescue everyone in the current area to unlock the door to the next set of rooms, and so on. Fortunately they're easy enough to find and it's hard to get lost when the doors seal shut behind me.

Super Nintendo
This is all true for the SNES version too, except the museum is divided by forcefields. Maybe Nintendo had a policy against door as well.

The biggest difference between the two versions right now is how frustrated I'm getting with the controls. I mean the controls are pretty much the same, but that's the problem as the Super Nintendo should be much better. This section is crying out for twin-stick style controls and the SNES has four face buttons, but instead I'm stuck with a fire forwards button and a fire backwards button, and if I hold them both at once I can lock my aim and strafe around.

So that's why I'm shooting the wall right now if you're curious: because I keep pressing the wrong damn buttons.

Hey, it's the old 'make me go down a dead end to get a dude and then spawn enemies behind me' trick! Plus they've cunningly put a roof over the hallway to block my view. I always hate it when I can't see things my character can see.

By the way, this really is a dead end; I walked into the walls to check. I had to, as when the level gets like this it's anyone's guess which walls are passable and which aren't. Fortunately that doesn't happen often.


I messed up. It was a long drawn out struggle against a frustrating opponent, but the controller eventually defeated me.

It doesn't help that I have to take a step towards the enemies to get myself facing in their direction before I lock my aim and can begin dodging them. That's especially annoying when their direction is 'everywhere' because they keep spawning behind me. I mean not constantly, but I always seem to be doing something to trigger them.

At least now I know that I have continues. One less now though. But do I really want to continue? Really? Well, yeah I do, but I found it funny that they phrased it that way. I also find it funny that this screen uses the Diablo font like the Hall of Violence in the movie, when the actual Hall of Violence I've been running through in the game doesn't.

Super Nintendo
Look at his little feet go!

Okay I'm going to take my finger off the shoot buttons to hit the grenade button just this one time, because I don't like the look of all those grenades coming my way. Gun goons haven't been a massive threat to me as despite their huge numbers they can only chip away at my health when I'm struggling with the controls. It's these grenade guys that are my real nemesis. They like hiding behind walls in other parts of the building and half the time I only notice they're there when a grenade lands on me and I lose half my HP.

You know, it's just occurred to me that maybe throwing two grenades at the dude I'm here to rescue was perhaps a bad move. Worked though. I guess that futuristic fabric they're draped in is both flame and shrapnel retardant!

Super Nintendo
Did I mention that the enemies are dumb? Because they are really really dumb. All they want to do is charge right at me, pouring in from dead ends and places I've already cleared in ridiculous numbers, and if there's a wall in the way then they're lost. This particular swarm was triggered when I rescued the hostage so I suppose I can pretend they all came in from the door that opened up.

This'd go much faster if I let go of the button, got Spartan facing downwards, then locked my aim again and started strafing left and right, but they're not really giving me the chance. It's lucky I brought my infinite ammo really.

Agh, you see what I mean about this aiming? I guess I could run away and fire backwards... oh shit, that's Simon Phoenix down there on the right!

He took a shot at me with his super gun, dropped a 1UP, then ran out through the locked door and left me here. Easiest boss fight I've had since level 1! Though I'm not quite done here yet.




The level ended with a proper boss fight this time!

I think I've got it figured out though. Sometimes he'll move to stand near the top of the room instead and I have to get my ass behind the other wall, but otherwise this is pretty simple.

Well okay I managed to get Spartan killed, but that's just because I'm an idiot; like that goon who wandered into the room while Phoenix was firing his sci-fi gun and got cut down by it. Always a nice surprise to see enemies accidentally killing off other enemies like that.

Oh thank fuck that's over. In the film Spartan cuts a light down from the ceiling with a shotgun blast, which drops and shatters the glass beneath Phoenix's feet. He falls down to the ancient city street below and then returns the favour by destroying Spartan's bit of glass with bullets.

In this though the whole room starts shaking and exploding mid-fight for absolutely no reason. Did Spartan rush into a building full of C-4 and hostages again? Is he going to have to spend another 75 years in cryoprison for this?

And now I'm back to platforming! Which is a bit of a relief really, or it was until I accidentally jumped into a fire pit anyway. I hope the 1UP counts as being collected.

No it didn't. Crap.

What I was supposed to do, by the way, is climb those platforms to the left then jump across onto the cable. It's a miracle Spartan has any fingers still attached after all this cable grabbing... though I guess he'd get them back after losing a life.

Whoa, look at how the purple lighting around the bricks, the car and the road disappears when I destroy the sign. It may be that they just changed two colours in the palette from purple to back, but that's still a nice touch.

Shame it didn't turn off the purple rim lighting on his uniform too. Wait, hang on, that's the same uniform he was wearing in the first level. He was wearing his future cop outfit in the past!

I got a bit lost, took a blind leap of fate, landed on a ladder and the ladder brought me here to this box of 1UP!

But now I'm stuck again as the level doesn't seem to scroll any further right. Maybe I need to climb up and to the left on this stage?

The top left of the level has a box in it too, but no exit. This isn't reflecting well on my platforming skills; the game's gone very very slightly mazelike and suddenly I'm entirely lost!

This is sadly as far as I'm going to get on the Mega Drive version as I fell into that fire pit at the start trying to find the platform to freedom and threw away my final life and my final credit. But oh man the game over screen was worth playing for. Talk about something that belongs on display in a museum.

The only way to get back to this stage now is to replay the first two so I think I'm just going to turn it off. I'm done with it.


Sega Mega CD
So I switched to the Mega CD version instead, and I'm doing a little better this time! I discovered the path across the platforms I needed to get the game scrolling at street level again, and I wrecked a second purple sign. I'm just destroying all kinds of history here today.

I'm not sure they had fire jets coming out of the pavement in 1996 Los Angeles though. This is the kind of error that happens when historians take short cuts and watch films like Volcano for research.

By the way, you can see I wasn't lying when I said the CD version is identical. I'm sure it's playing different music though.

Sega Mega CD
It's John Spartan vs. Simon Phoenix again, only this time I have no idea what I'm meant to do!

There's two obvious grey objects up there so I assume they're important somehow, but shooting the explosives didn't bring me joy or victory. It just started the screen shaking so bad that I had to use motion stabilisation to keep the GIF from being huge. That's why it gets a bit glitchy on the left by the way, that's my fault.

Okay, I'm going to try to get up to that floor on the left and shoot him from there. I can survive a hit from his super gun, so there's a chance I'll live long enough to duck down and shoot him while crouched.

Oh... so that's why the bombs are there. They're to stop me from getting up here and having an easy shot.

The game asked me again if I really wanted to continue and I said 'no'. Because I don't feel like going through this whole level again just to have another shot at figuring this out. Also I wanted to see that amazing game over screen again.


Though I suppose I should see how it plays on the Super Nintendo... 

Super Nintendo
Ah, it seems like I have to run out, shoot him diagonally, then immediately dodge his shot. I'm doing a shitty job of it though. If this is the way I'm supposed to beat him then my reflexes aren't up to the challenge right now. Maybe if I keep shooting goons one of them will eventually drop a health kit for me... nope.


I'd run out of ports at this point and I was absolutely certain I was done with the game. But then I put the Mega Drive version on for a bit just to check something and I actually beat that asshole this time! What I had to do was pretty damn obvious in hindsight: check for a longplay on YouTube and see what they did.

I got an MDK kill count of 376 that time if you're wondering.

So now I'm back on the map screen and it turns out that it really is a mission select screen! I've got three choices: stop a monorail hijacking, save our beloved library, or disable the rogue car stacking crane.

Wait what? Are these from the deleted scenes or the novelization or something? Actually I don't care, I just want to pick something and get off this screen so it'll stop beeping and saying "MDK" at me.

I decided to go with the monorail, because it's a monorail! I don't remember seeing anything like it in the film, but these folks have a pretty cool double decker train going on here. I especially like the electricity arcing across the cabins in regular patterns. Well it's better than it being random anyway.

What I'm doing here is making it through a train car, then climbing up onto the roof for a bit to get to the next one, then dropping back down through a hatch again. There's hijackers all over the place but I suppose it's the ones at the front I really have to deal with.

Oh I forgot to mention that the lights keep flickering off (in the train and the tunnel) and crossing between cars is a bit tricky when these signs or whatever keep coming by to knock off half my health. I guess I need to walk slower and wait to see if the next obstacle needs to be ducked under or jumped over before pressing any other buttons.

It took me a few tries but I eventually beat the train and tried that car crane level next. This one is mostly about ascending a multi-storey car park to fight the crane boss at the end (pictured above).

The crane likes to grab cars from off screen and drop them at me, and I need to... shoot it I guess. I don't know, I got a car dropped on me before I got anywhere, and I decided I'd gone far enough and quit. Sandra Bullock and Rob Schneider are going to have to sort out the library without me.


Oh right, I should show you that awesome game over screen I mentioned.

Demolition Man genesis mega drive game over
See! It's art like this that makes me wish I was a better writer, because I don't have a clue what to say here except damn.


Demolition Man is a game that I want to praise as being perhaps the very best move tie-in platformer I have ever played on the 16-bit consoles and a damn fine example of its genre. But the fact that I don't really want to play it any further makes me hesitate.
It's not a bad game, that much I'm sure of, and it's certainly brought more joy into my world than that Stargate tie-in I won't stop mentioning, or the bloody Rocketeer. When this is a platformer it's slick and responsive with good graphics, fluid animation and it looks cool when you fire the gun, which is what you do this game. There aren't an overwhelming number of people to fire the gun at, it's easy to aim the gun diagonally, bullets are super effective against living things and you can survive a few hits if the bullet exchange goes unfavourably. Plus the enemies turn into glowing skeletons when you shoot them and that's got to earn it bonus points.

That top down run and gun stage on the other hand is relatively weak and it's crying out for some good dual-stick controls (the SNES pad has the buttons, it could've done it!) But it wasn't exactly a nightmare to get through either and variety's good. It definitely made me appreciate being in side view again afterwards even if I did immediately jump down a hole and then get lost. Speaking of variety, the game reminded me a little of Earthworm Jim at times, but with the imagination and the charming absurdity dialled way back and the competent gameplay dialled up a couple of notches. There's less to look forward in this to but I didn't suffer as much misery and frustration along the way.

Plus I didn't come across any collect 'em up bullshit or time limits so far, so there's another point in its favour, but there's no passwords or saves either and it's stingy with the continues. I think that's a big factor in why I'm not so bothered to continue with it actually, because it's put me in a 'I'll never have enough lives to finish it so why bother?' mindset. Sure I'm supposed to keep replaying it from the start until I get good, and a skilled player could get through the whole game in less than an hour, but I'm not feeling a need to keep shooting the same two or three enemy types over and over and over until I've memorised all my steps and I stop making dumb mistakes. It's just not that interesting a game.

But who wins today in the eternal conflict between the Mega Drive and Super Nintendo? Well both versions pretty much play the same, one looks like a good Mega Drive game, the other looks like a good SNES game, and they have the same music. But one of them sounds a lot better to me and surprisingly it's not the SNES! Well I was surprised anyway; I usually expect Nintendo's system to have the edge in sound, but this time the soundtrack and samples are muffled compared to the crystal clear Sega version.

Though you could consider the Sega CD game to be the winner, because it's the Mega Drive game with FMV clips and a CD soundtrack. It's a very synthy CD soundtrack mind you, so you're getting Mega Drive metal either way, but it's arguably a step up.

Anyway, I'm going to break my rules and give the game a Not Crap award even though I'm not eager to put it back on. Because I did put it back on and I did get further in it, and because I think it's worth recommending to people who are into running and gunning, but also platforming. Plus it's clearly not crap.

There you go, have a picture of a cup. See if you can figure out what that's from.

Or you could leave a comment telling the world what you think of Demolition Man, licensed movie tie-ins, my writing, or my website etc. I can't guarantee the entire world will scroll down and read it, but someone's bound to find their way down eventually.


  1. James Pond 3, Do i get something?

    1. You get to have been right, and no one can ever take that away from you.

  2. Yet again I am astounded that there's a 16-bit movie tie-in that isn't by Ocean. My whole world view is wrong.

    I always mix up Demolition Man and the Stallone Judge Dredd too. It's okay.

  3. As someone who got the Mega Drive as a kid and loved Demolition Man, I'm surprised I haven't heard about this game until now. I've seen reviews of the variety pack version you mentioned, but never the run and gun platformer.

    I definitely agree with the 'not crap' rating based on your review and looking at the graphics, I'm pleasantly surprised by the effort put into the game given it's a movie adaptation, and not the biggest one at that. I like all the references they put in from the movie, such as the MDK (as annoying as that beeping must be!) and the 'You look gr8 2day' text.

    Anyway, funny writing, and I admit I had a few smile moments reading your ongoing commentary. Definitely a fun review that kept me reading!

    1. Thanks for the feedback. It's always great to hear that I'm on the right track with my writing (I have no idea unless people tell me).

  4. Hey, there's an old point-and-click game called "Harvester". I've never played it and I heard about it only today, but the first thing I thought upon discovering its existence was that it may be right up your alley when it comes to funny reviews.

    1. I've heard about that one. Well, I've heard the name anyway. Seems weird, I'll add it my requested games list.


Semi-Random Game Box