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Maze Hunter 3-D Review

Developer: Sega Publisher: Sega
Release Date: 1987 Also On: None

It’s really a shame the Master System didn’t do any better in the states as it did abroad. Even more depressing is that one of the greatest periphreals of all time was made for it and really didn’t get much software support over the system’s lifespan. Only eight titles were made for the 3D Glasses in all, which makes one wonder what was going on in research and development. Come to think of it, I’m doing an interview with the guy that pretty much ran that department, so I’ll ask him. Anyway, the majority of the 3D games aren’t very good and don’t really showcase the power of the glasses. Maze Hunter 3-D isn’t one of the bad ones, but I’d say it’s the one in the middle. Wait a minute, no, on second thought, I don’t like this game at all, let me explain why…

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Graphically, Maze Hunter is decent. The entire game takes place inside a series of mazes, each with pretty much the same layout but different designs. You have some variations on backgrounds, but really all it comes down to is some variation in color, in essence there really isn’t too much done with the overall look of the game. The details have this ‘soft’ appearance to them. I’m not sure how else to put it, suffice to say that characters are rounded and not detailed, but the emphasis seems on their design, not displaying every little finger, if that makes sense. Considering that everything is overhead, I’d say they did a good job making your character look like a human being, but it’s pretty much a cop out on the enemies. All are generally unrecognizable blobs, orbs and so forth. They look just fine, not sloppy, but they were clearly very easy to design. Would have been more impressive to see some creatures or large bosses from this perspective. The 3D effect has been used throughout and gives a great sense of depth to the mazes, your character getting smaller depending on how low he’s gone and so forth. Some enemies move up and down, clearly displaying distance as they move. However, I do have a gripe with the fact that not too much was done other than this in terms of using the glasses. You don’t really get anything fancy, generally just the same maze over and over that you stare down into with enemies that sometimes jump up and down or move up and down. Not too much to it, but decent.

As for the music, Maze Hunter is pretty average. Nothing too catchy and nothing annoying. The songs work well for the most part, I can’t think of one I found out of place or pathetic. They’re all, in fact, programmed well, just nothing spectacular you’ll find yourself humming or stuck in your head after a week. I thought the title track was very fitting and set a good mood, but after that it’s just there, working, but not really catching your attention. The sound effects work quite well, but again, nothing spectacular. I wouldn’t say they should be though, just as long as they work, so I won’t take any points off for that. You hit things, get a sound, jump get a sound and so forth.

As for the gameplay, Maze Hunter pleased me at first and then sent me into a swarming tunnel of madness. There is actually not too much to say. Basically, you’re running around mazes in this labyrinth that exists in space that no one has returned from. The story is, clearly, ludicrous, but whatever. So you go around, find your iron bar and bash the crap out of various monsters as you locate portals, find the key and exit each part of the labyrinth. There are four stages for each of the five main levels and you start out with three lives. You can jump, attack, pick up power-ups and so forth. It plays fairly well, though many times you’ll realize that the stupid iron bar requires you to get so close to enemies you’ll eventually get struck when you’re trying not to. Other than this, it has some other flaws.

I was totally bummed that you have only one weapon, and it really makes no sense. Why am I running around in this mysterious space labyrinth with a stupid stick, or, sorry, iron bar? I mean, to start off, fine, but no weapon upgrades? What the hell? Would have been cool to see better weapon integration and more power-ups that weren’t set on a time limit. Since every enemy dies in one shot anyway whether with bar or bleepy dot thing I fire, what’s the point? In addition, you get special shoes that make it a bit more interesting, such as a pair you can use to jump on enemies and another that’s necessary to walk normally in the ice level. But that’s about it, there really isn’t that much variety for the twenty stages you trudge through. Eventually you realize it’s basically just the same dang maze over and over again with pretty much the same enemies. They get a teeny bit harder later on, but nothing that will really provide a challenge. Plus, there are no bosses to speak of, nothing at all other than one-hit wonder blobs and spinning things. The only real challenge in the entire game are two of the end segments in two of the mazes where you have to jump over a chasm to exit. Thus, my main problem. The programmers really didn’t do too much with the 3-D effects here. When you jump, you see yourself rise and when you go further down the mazes you get smaller. That’s about it. Sure, it’s cool to see the depth and all, but it gets really tiresome over time because it’s all the same. I wish they did more with this, there just isn’t enough here to keep your attention for long enough.

As for creativity, I have to sadly say I can’t really give much here. The periphreal was used, fine, but that’s on the surface. In it’s foundations, Maze Hunter is just a maze crawling game like Bomberman without the cool power ups. You don’t really do much and they didn’t really do much with it. I know they could have done more with it, so it’s again a shame to see such a waste of a good, truly functional 3-D accessory. That’s all I have to say.

I would doubt I’d ever come back to play this for any extended period of time again. At first, I was actually enjoying it, but after seeing how repetitive it is and how dang long it is I really got tired of it, and the lame text ending on a raised, pathetic platform is hardly enough to do it all over again. But wait a second, you know what, this game isn’t actually that long. It only felt that long because it’s so boring after a few stages. It’s got good length in the sense that you won’t be playing it over two hours or less than a half hour, but the tedious nature of its arrangement makes it seem longer than it is or needs to be.

Overall, this game sucks. I simply can’t put it in the middle the more I think about it because there just isn’t enough here to go on. It’s a basic maze game with little variety. It’s clear they wanted to do only one thing, use an awesome periphreal as a gimmick instead of working with it and creating a finely integrated title that could go down as a memorable release from the 8-Bit era. Maze Hunter 3-D, like most of these games for the SMS, is just a game with three dimensions attached to it. It could have played without it, and that’s how you know it fails.

Graphics: 6.5
Sound: 7
Gameplay: 5.5
Creativity: 2
Replay Value/Game Length: 1.5
Final: 4.5
Written by Stan Review Guide