Dead Angle Review

Developer: Sega Publisher: Sega
Release Date: 1989 Also On: None

What? Just, why, what, why? What in the world were they thinking here?
Seriously. This could have been an interesting title if it were applied
properly, but it wasn’t. Dead Angle is one of the strangest games I’ve ever
come across. It takes a rarely-used format, but presents it in a very odd
fashion. This in itself is not the problem, there are many faults here. It
could have been a lot of fun if they did it right, but most of the mechanics
seem very rushed and almost unfinished. I don’t even know where to begin
with this. My introduction is so chaotic and jumbled I doubt you can make
sense of it. That’s because I simply cannot make sense of this game. Okay,
it’s not that ridiculous, but it isn’t something I recommend unless you’re a
hardcore completist. Basically, get ready for one of the strangest, annoying
and most ill-programmed titles in video game history. Dead Angle, coming at

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The graphics are great at some points, but overall they’re dreadful for
several reasons. First off, let me state that Dead Angle has a decent range
of color and great detail for the most part. That’s as good as it gets,
aside from the awesome ending and losing screens. Basically, you move your
character around. More specifically, you move the silhouette of your
character around. If you’re familiar with the arcade version of Mike Tyson’s
Punch-Out!, same thing here, just really, really bad. You are represented by
a yellow line-drawing. At times you can almost lose it depending on the
color of the background. The odd thing is that they’ve only suggested your
torso from the waist up. No legs. So what? So, ummm, when you hit up you
basically become a flying torso and it looks really silly. Considering the
fact that it would be impossible to move as high as this guy does it looks
even more ridiculous. I really have no idea how they could have let this
pass because it makes no sense. Unless George Phenix [sic] had both legs
amputated and has a jet pack, I have no idea why he magically flies all over
the screen. On levels where you cannot move up and only left and right, it’s
not a problem, but this is only two out of six levels. Flying torso, away!

I could deal with that, I could, but the enemy animations are dreadful, very
choppy, almost like watching a reel-to-reel movie slowed down. In addition,
they’re just thrown into the game, literally. It looks terrible to have
enemies just popping out of nowhere, right in front of you in mid-run. One
of the biggest flaws here is graphical slowdown. When there are enough
enemies on the screen, like maybe four, your silhouette slows down big time.
The screen and backgrounds move choppy most of the time, making everything
all the more awful. The bosses are detailed fairly well and actually move
realistically, though a few are very choppy. The third boss, Vincento, jumps
around the screen throwing knives. Okay, that’s fine, but why when he jumps
does he appear on the ground, halfway in the air, halfway down, and then on
the ground again? They didn’t animate enough to really suggest he’s jumping,
it looks like he’s just magically transporting himself about, like almost
every other enemy in this game. Dead Angle is a graphical mess, but mainly
because it seems incomplete or rushed. It almost could have been pretty good
considering the range of colors and detail, but it doesn’t matter because
that’s not how it is. The only redeeming feature in this category is the
ending if you die and the awesome ending you get when you kill the final
boss. One of the coolest endings I’ve ever seen, and probably the only
reason I give this game any bit of replay value. Perhaps they spent too much
time here.

Dear God in heaven help us. Talk about terrible sound, here it is. The songs
are drab and drag on and on and on. It’s not that they’re out of place, I
clearly hear an attempt at capturing some sort of “gangster” theme, but see
what I said there, attempt. That’s all they’ve done, attempt to make
something but it turned out terrible. Sometimes, like the first level, the
theme isn’t half bad and actually kept my interest, but overall it’s pretty
depressing. The sound effects fared a bit better, they definitely captured
the firing sounds perfectly. When enemies get hit it sounds like someone
tripping, so that brings it down a bit. The worst by far is the sound George
makes when you die. He says “ouch.” Hey, ouch, I just got killed. Ouch, I
just got shot by two bullets in a row. Uh huh, yeah guys, seriously, work a
little harder next time. Ouch is the last thing I’d say if I were dying,
especially after receiving three bullet wounds.

The gameplay is where Dead Angle really fails. The graphical slowdown was
one thing, the average sound was another, but this is the strangest thing
I’ve ever seen. How to explain this? Basically, Sega attempted to make a
form of first-person shooter rarely used. It was done for The Punisher on the
NES and for Dynamite Duke on the SMS, but not like this. Here, you move the
silhouette of your character, George Phenix, around the screen, avoiding
enemy fire and taking out the required number of gangsters (varies depending
on the level) before taking on the bosses. Your aimer moves independently of
your character, but your character follows along with it and there is no way
to make only the aimer move. If you want to move away from an
enemy and then shoot them, you can pretty much forget it. You have to move
the aimer back the other way, and then you’re stupid legless torso follows
along with it, putting you back into their range of fire.

You’re able to duck if they enter your “danger zone,” but this does little,
if anything. Thankfully your silhouette turns red to let you know you need to
move out of range, but if they happen to shoot at you while they’re in this
area, you can’t dodge by moving. Added to this is the fact that, as I stated
above, the enemies literally appear out of nowhere in mid-run. Usually, it
happens that they magically assimilate right in front of your character
while shooting. Thanks. On some levels they appear superhuman. If you move
up the building in the first level, for example, enemies will jump out of
the upper story windows, land on the ground and start shooting without a
single limp or second pause. I don’t know what kind of gangsters these are,
but I doubt anyone would want to mess with those dabbling in the dark arts.

However, since you’re a magically flying torso I guess it balances out.
That’s exactly what you have to do in this game. For the levels you can do
it, you have to float above or below the enemies, moving the aimer down,
firing, and then quickly moving back up. On most of the bosses, this is the
only way to beat them, especially the two that come at you firing two guns
at once. Once you get the hang of it, it’s quite an easy game. Just keep
away from everyone, take them out, and build up lives for the final level.
Here you are unfortunately unable to use your flying torso abilities to their
fullest, and actually have to engage enemies head-on, so you lose all of
your lives real quick because you have to first fight three of the previous
bosses again, and two of them are the chaps with two guns. Why couldn’t it
be the loser with the knife?

In addition to all of this disappointment, there are no power-ups to speak
of other than the Tommy Gun, which merely gives you rapid fire until you run
out of bullets. If you have the Rapid Fire Unit for your SMS, you can almost
mimic this power-up exactly. Other than this you can get a first aid kit to
get back a single hit, but that’s it. Speaking of which, you have what
appears to be a life bar at the bottom of the screen, it looks like a long
chain of about fifty units, but it turns out they’re actually separated into
three large sections, meaning you only have three hits. That’s fine, but why
not just show it as three instead of what appears to be a really, really
huge amount of life? They really don’t give you much of anything here.

Creativity is another problem. Dead Angle was actually an arcade title. I’ve
never played it, but from what I can tell it’s the same concept, except that
you can only move George left to right, not up and down, so it looks good.
In fact, it looks like a lot of fun. I’m not sure what possessed Sega to
reprogram the game so much that it is nearly incomprehensible, but they did
and it looks and plays terribly. The idea is definitely unique, I’ll give
them that, it’s just been poorly implemented. The graphics wasted on the
levels where you can scroll up the buildings is so senseless. They should
have stayed more true to the arcade. If they were trying to do something new
with it for gamers at home, they should have simply thrown in power-ups or
something different. Still, problems aside it is fairly creative, just
remember this doesn’t mean it works, it’s just creative, nothing more.

The only thing in this game that makes me want to play it again is the
ending, it’s great. I have to say it’s worth sticking through this drivel to
see it because it shows off the Master System’s capabilities. This isn’t
enough to make me play Dead Angle for the actual gameplay, however, it’s
just something I might want to look at now and then, but most likely I use a
cheat device so I don’t have to put much effort into it. The game length is
another matter entirely, absolutely terrible. Not that I’d want to play this
more than a few minutes, but that’s about all it takes to beat it. One
half-hour at most and you’re done. Very short game, too short in fact. There
were many issues to be corrected in this port, and here’s yet another
example of something they should have worked on.

In conclusion, even collectors may want to stay away from Dead Angle. It has
cool insert art, but the actual game is nearly unplayable and unbearable on
so many different levels. You have to be really, really hardcore to stick
with it, even if you’re a Master System fan. I do not recommend this to
anyone looking to check out the SMS for the first time, it will completely
ruin any further impressions of the system. Some games you just wonder
about. Why in the world did they release this? Why does the torso fly? Oh
well, guess we’ll never know, so torso away! Yeah, far away from me.

Graphics: 4.5
Sound: 3
Gameplay: 1.5
Creativity: 6
Replay Value/Game Length: 2
Final: 3.4
Written by Stan Review Guide

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