D/Generation HD is very, very good. The original game was released in 1991, for the Amiga, and was, for the time, an extremely good game, making good use of the control system and having some pretty good graphics.
And the re-release of this HD edition follows suit brilliantly. The graphics are very clean and look really good. It’s very addictive, and it can be quite easy to get lost in this game. When I first started playing it, I had only planned to spend a couple of hours on it, to get a feel for it, but five hours later, I was hooked on it. If you’re looking for story, there’s not much there, and usually this would bother me a fair bit, but for some reason, it just works. It’s hard to explain, but this doesn’t feel like something that requires a reason for your presence, and that is due to the fact that the game is so easy to pick up and play.
As I mentioned, the story is practically non-existent. In the original, a couple of screens of text came up to explain that your character is a “jetpack courier”, who gets a call from a scientist working for Genoq, a global company, to deliver a package, explaining that the voice on the other end of the call sounded a bit panicky. And that’s pretty much the extent of the story. While that hasn’t been changed in the re-release, one nice touch is that the developers added a couple of really nicely rendered images to the text, which while they are just static images, are very well designed and keep up the retro feel while also making use of the updated graphics available.
The game itself is also very simple. Your job is to get through ten floors of increasing difficulty, using a couple of basic weapons and tools such as grenades to get rid of the threat of the BOW type creatures that have been created. One thing to bear in mind is that these enemies aren’t anything special; the first one you come across, the A-Gen, is literally a giant bouncing ball, which if it hits you, eats you, costing you a life. That’s pretty much the level of threat, at least in terms of appearance, that the enemies seem to have.
This game does a wonderful job of keeping you guessing. The different rooms on each floor vary in difficulty, and one thing this game does wonderfully is to keep making you change-up your strategy due to differences between this room and the one just before that was almost the same but had just traps and no enemies. I really appreciated the way that the game leaves you to figure things out for yourself, through trial and error, rather than spoon-feeding you the answers. An important thing to remember with this game is to save often: if you run out of lives, you could wind up being booted back to the start of the game. An autosave would have been nice, but would probably have taken away from the retro feel of the game.
This doesn’t stop it from being a very tense experience when you have a couple of bouncing balls of death bearing down on you with nowhere to go. The aiming for the weapons is basic, wherever your character is pointed, press the A button and the courier shoots in that direction. That fits perfectly with the kind of game this is. The shooting isn’t important, other than that it kind of is. This is an “isometric puzzler”, meaning that the game is built around your use of space. None of the puzzles look especially difficult, but they still manage to be frustrating, as the game never really gives you any cues as to what you have to do.
One nice touch is that there are other survivors in the building. You can rescue them by ‘securing’ the room, basically clearing it of hostiles, and then walking up to them, and leading them to the door that you came in through. Some of these people have important information, for the back story, so it’s a good idea to try and rescue them, not least because you get another life for every survivor you rescue. But the great thing is, if you don’t want to rescue them, or can’t get them to safety, there’s no real penalty, it’s entirely your choice, and that fits in with the “empty vessel” that your character is. The conversations that you have with the survivors are mostly nothing beyond “oh hi thanks” but when there is an actual discussion, the game offers choice in what you say. This really impressed me, considering how old the game is, but having played the game through, it fits. It just adds to the obvious level of polish and dedication that this game shows off.
You can really tell that the developers were committed to doing the best possible job that they could with this, and that shines through on a regular basis. I wouldn’t have expected that I would enjoy this game quite as much as I did, but I have to say, it was probably one of the best games of it’s type that I’ve ever played, not to mention that it’s absolute proof that with a little bit of TLC, even a fairly old game can be re done and still manage to look, feel and play better than a lot of recent games.
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