Genre: 1950’s Monster Simulation
Developer: Canopy Games
Release Date: Feb 6th, 2003
The 1950’s were blessed with the first monster movies in history. From the She-Beast to Godzilla, in the 50’s the world was attacked by these famous monsters. People rushed to the theatres to see these special effects masterpieces. In time these monster movies would prove to be the building blocks of modern day horror movies. It is thanks to these building blocks that we have movies like Aliens, the Exorcist, and American Werewolf in London. Although highly regarded by film critics, these movies have remained untouched by the gaming industry. This all changed with the release of “I Was An Atomic Mutant.
Canopy Games took vintage movie monsters and threw a modern twist in with 21st century special effects. With a selection of four classic monsters, the player is given the opportunity to play the game through in two game modes, monster and arcade. In arcade mode, you select your monster and go through each environment trying to wreak as much havoc as possible. Once a city and/or military base is destroyed, you advance to the next stage, like an arcade game. When playing in the monster mode, it is similar to that of the arcade mode in that the goal is to destroy the city, however, in monster mode your atomic power meter is unlimited.
The atomic power meter is similar to the ammo counter in a FPS (First-Person Shooter). Your atomic power is essentially how much energy you have to use for your special abilities. The special abilities of each monster vary from fireballs, to PSI-Blast, to Throw. Throw is quite an entertaining ability in that you can pick up cars and throw them at unsuspecting civilians. When the atomic power meter becomes low, the player must locate a floating radioactive symbol which recharges both the atomic power and the awesome might meters. The awesome might meter is the equivalent to the players health meter. Another interesting feature is the meter in the bottom right hand corner that shows your destruction level for the current stage.
Diversity in enemy characters was a huge plus in this game, as the player was pitted against various enemy types from B-52 bombers to a hazardous materials trooper. The game was blessed with a large selection of enemies. A total of 15 different enemies accompany the full version, providing the player with enough foes to satisfy him/her.
I Was An Atomic Mutant has all of the potential to be a great game, until you actually play it. As a reviewer, seeing the title and the screenshots, it was looking like the gaming community was finally going to be blessed with a game that did justice to the monsters of the 1950’s. The Gameplay was quite a disappointment; the slow moving monsters take too much time to catch up with crowds of civilians. On top of that, stages in the game are pathetic in design, the cities are tiny and in completely desolate areas. In striving to be a faithful monster, it would have been nice to be able to attack lush, populated cities, instead of small shanty towns.
The biggest disappointment as a gamer was the fact that the buildings had only one hit box, in that the player could not visibly partially damage a building. It would have been nice and cool to be able to swipe out the side of a building and admire its battered contents, but that is one of the first casualties of a budget title, detail. As for ease of use, the game is quite easy to get the hang of and master after a few hours. The default controls, although they can be changed, are quite easy to learn.
Another unfortunate casualty of the budget title is usually the duration of the game, which in this case is quite disappointing. The game took a solid two hours of play to complete every stage with every character and that was it. When buying a game, gamers are looking for their money’s worth and that won’t happen with I Was An Atomic Mutant. All that saves Canopy from operating at a complete loss with this game is the brilliant presentation of the game box. The game box doesn’t give full views of the cities or talk about the duration, this presentation sort of blinds gamers into believing the game has the potential to be great. The small screenshots on the box also make the game look quite a bit more detailed then it actually is.
Visually, this game was quite a disappointment. A few extra months work on the models, and the cities and this game could have been huge. The buildings in the towns, I say towns by the way because there is no stage in the game large enough to even remotely resemble a city, are simply blocks that look like they have been skinned using MS-Paint. The people in the game are a complete joke, all they are is 2d, 20 pixel animations. On top of the terrible civilian animations and the horribly modeled cities, the game completely lacks in decals. Footprints are non-existent, deadly infernos in fallen buildings are out of the questions, and as mentioned before, more than one hit box per model doesn’t exist. What gamers are looking for is realism and that is something that Canopy does not deliver with this game.
From an audio standpoint the game wasn’t too bad, when destroying buildings, you felt like you were destroying buildings. Fly-bys of the various aircraft took advantage of surround sound, and the crunching noises of people between a monster’s toes were an added bonus. Overall the sound effects in this game were quite well done. However, an epic soundtrack would have been quite nice to accompany the classic ‘city-stomping’.
Although it doesn’t hurt the potential of the game, a multiplayer option would have been nice for this game. As a gamer, it would be kind of neat to be able to take your favorite classic monster and battle your friends just to show whose monster could beat whose. This is something that Canopy might want to consider if they are ever to release a patch for this game, a multiplayer add-on could help this game quite a bit.
Another thing that the game would definitely have benefited from, would have been a monster generator. Enabling players to create their own monsters, this would have thrown a little diversity into the game. The ability to control what kind of character a player uses, puts him/her in the drivers seat of the game and kind of makes the player feel like he or she is more a part of the game than before. It is crucial to get a gamer into the game from the begging or else the game is condemned to fail. Custom characters would have been a great way to get gamers into I Was An Atomic Mutant.
Overall this game had so much potential, its just that Canopy didn’t capitalize on that potential. This was the first game to take a stab at brining the classic monsters of the 50’s to life. For that Canopy deserves credit. The enemy selection was quite a pleasant surprise, with 15 different enemies to choose from. It would have been nice to see some more monster characters to choose from though. The games potential was crushed by the poor graphics, short duration and pathetic city design. It was unfortunate that Canopy could not invest a few months more effort in the game, but that is too be expected for a budget game. If you are looking for a quick fix of classic monster mayhem, then this is the game for you; at the same time, if you want a good quality monster sim, you better look elsewhere.
Score: 5 / 10