Archive for June, 2012


Man, remember when Apogee and 3D Realms were considered one of the coolest PC publishers? Then Duke Nukem Forever happened and now they’re just a shell of their former glory only to be laughed at. Where did it start going all wrong? Probably when they thought they could make a Duke Nukem 3D ripoff of their own. Ladies and germs, this is Shadow Warrior.

The cover even mimics Duke Nukem 3D’s where Duke’s standing on top of a dead baddie.

Released in early 1997 only on PC, it was an amazing flop. It didn’t sell as well as Duke 3D did. There were going to be three expansions, which only one — Twin Dragons — got a commercial release; the other two — Deadly Kiss and Wanton Destruction — would be cancelled after the poor sales of the original game. (Wanton Destruction did get released many years later as freeware, though.) Shadow Warrior is considered to be part of the “Holy Trinity” of shooters that used Ken Silverman’s Build engine: The others being Duke Nukem 3D and either Redneck Rampage or Blood, depending on who you talk to. (Some people consider all four to be important, making this a “Holy Quadrinity.” Which is totally not a word.)

I had already bought DukeRedneck Rampage and Blood through GOG.com, but bizarrely Shadow Warrior was nowhere to be found on that service (as of the time I write this). The only ways to buy it were through 3D Realms’ online store at a ridiculous-for-an-old-game price of $10, or hunt down a copy on eBay or local shops. Well, luck was on my side when I finally found a copy at a Goodwill recently. After a little cajoling with DOSBox to get it to work properly, I was ready to play Shadow Warrior, told by the man himself that “You no mess with the Lo Wang.” I had heard from friends that this game wasn’t very good. Was this gonna be a repeat of the Blood II debacle, where I found enjoyment in a game everybody else hated? No, because where I can find some enjoyment and goofiness in Blood II, it is almost nowhere to be found in Shadow Warrior.

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I remember when I got a second hand Sega CD off a classmate back in freshman year of High School. I was bored in a class and was looking at Sega CDs on eBay, and my friend offered his for $15. It came with the pack-in title Tomcat Alley as well as the abysmal Double Switch, which was a Night Trap-esque game by Digital Pictures starring the late Corey Haim, Blondie’s Deborah Harry, and R. Lee Ermey. It honestly isn’t that great, and can be beaten easily in an hour. Trust me, go watch this longplay of the game instead, it’s better than wasting money on this tripe.

I wonder if Corey Haim was on drugs when he signed up to do this. Hell, everyone involved had to be on drugs if they thought this was a good idea!

While I was perusing for some other Sega CD games when I had stumbled upon this little gem: Rock Paintings, a CD+G sampler featuring a multitude of Warner Records artists — Chris Isaak, Fleetwood Mac, Jimi Hendrix, Information Society and Little Feat. While it’s advertised as a Sega CD product, any console that supports CD+G — from the Philips CD-i to Sega’s successor CD console the Saturn — can run this. Hell, if you got a karaoke machine lying around, it’ll probably play this disc too.

I originally thought this was just a silly little CD compilation, but it’s so much more.

Oh good, I can learn things while listening to music. Thanks, Information Society!

CD+G is a short-lived media format used to show graphics on your television while listening to music CDs. The concept was that you’d hook up a CD+G enabled device into your television set, insert any supported CD+G disc, then listen to the music with video playing in the background. The only music company that bothered to care about the technology was Warner Records, as a gamut of their offerings from 1989-1992 feature the CD+G tech. The Rock Paintings sampler features two tracks from each artist above, with embedded CD+G tracks for each, plus a blank track for disc information. They looked like tacky screensavers for the most part, except the Information Society portion being somewhat informative and goofy (as seen above), and Hendrix’s Smash Hits, which is amazing in itself:

Not pictured: The flashing colors that played during this Hendrix montage. Great for stoners, bad for epileptics.

Alas, the CD+G died a short death but still has this remnant to live on. Warner Records did multiple CD+G sampler compilations, even one for the CD-i, so they thought this was worth a try even if many people didn’t get to use it as intended and looking tacky even by early 90s standards. Rock Paintings also came with a second, non-CD+G disc titled Hot Hits, which featured a sampling of other artists on the Warner label. Most of them are a bunch of unknowns — The Wolfgang Press, Saigon Kick, Throwing Muses — while the rest are artists with minor hits but bizarre track choices. For example, They Might Be Giants is featured on the compilation, but they used a song from Apollo 18 called “Mammal.” Of all the songs from that album they could’ve chose, they chose the worst track of the bunch. (I guess executives wouldn’t have approved of a compilation having a song titled “The Statue Got Me High.”)

While doing my 15 minutes of research, I found out there is actually a site dedicated to chronicling all the CD+G media ever released. It’s called The CD+G Museum, and it’s worth a look into the weird history that was CD+G technology. Now I wanna find those CD+G versions of classic Beethoven and Holst music, as well as Smash Hits so I can Experience Hendrix the way it was meant to be experienced: on a Sega CD in mono audio.

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