-And now, one of the single-most destructive games in video game history... Cosmic Carnage
... What's that? Wondering why a game most people have never heard of would qualify in a manner equal to many famous, more-public disasters? Well, it's an interesting case of the snowball effect.
was the only truly exclusive Fighting Game to come out for Sega's 32X upon its release in 1994- developed by Givro (no idea who that is), it was given several unique qualities, a small roster, and strange, multi-part sprite-based graphics, where each part was animated separately. The 32X, of course, was designed to be a "stop-gap" for kids whose parents couldn't afford the upcoming Sega Saturn- it would "upgrade" the Sega Genesis into a 32-bit system, albeit keeing the system's muddy graphics and poor color palette. Many of the 32X games were just Genesis games with an upgrade, like Mortal Kombat II
and NBA Jam
, so this game was considered and important, proper "showcase".
The plot is pretty complicated- a group of prisoners riot and take control of a spaceship intending to take them to a mining world, and lure a military ship into coming to their aid so they can escape. Ramming the ship, they unintentionally cripple both, leaving everything but one Escape Pod destroyed, and killing all but eight people- four from each ship. And so, you must play one of the eight, defeating all seven others in order to be the sole survivor. A grim, dark game where innocents will no doubt die by your own hand. There is no Final Boss.
The game used the Genesis six-button controller with two punch buttons, two kick buttons, and two "taunt" buttons, where you can provoke the enemy. Four characters use armor in combat- you have Body, Leg and Arm armor, and you can select "Light" or "Heavy" with each one, allowing for different attacks. Armor can be torn off over the duration of the fight, much like in the later Fighting Vipers
, costing you those attacks, and it also slows the fighter down. As a semi-Mortal Kombat
copycat, the game offers "Finishing Moves", like Fatalities, at the end of the final round. You can cause your opponent's head to explode, sever their limbs, or cut them in half at the waist. The quality of your ending depends on how fast you complete the game, allowing you to get to the Escape Pod faster and be further away when the spaceship explodes.
The graphics are... extremely unimpressive. The Genesis color palette was always pretty poor, and the 32X lacked the means to enhance them. The characters are big and have a lot of moving parts, but the "cheat" is so obvious that the characters end up moving very awkwardly- the game simply animates each part of the sprite separately. Two characters (Naja & Deamon) have long, segmented parts of their bodies made of circles for this reason- so that each thing can move independently. Armor also sits atop the character sprites, heaving and shuffling unconvincingly.
Sega was reportedly unimpressed with the title, with former Sega of America executive producer Michael Latham stating that the company was rushed to release games on time for the 32X's launch, and said that "[w]hen Cosmic Carnage showed up, we didn't even want to ship it. It took a lot of convincing, you know, to ship that title." Tom Kalinske, the freaking PRESIDENT of Sega of America, said "Well, you know, every now and then there are games with which we're not so happy. It's all part of the learning process."
The game got TERRIBLE reviews immediately upon release, with most either giving it a failing grade, or damn close. And therin likes the disaster. Bad games came out all the time back then- you'd see 3/10 or 4/10 reviews constantly in the mid-90s, as game companies hadn't bought the reviewers at that point yet. But this wasn't just some bad game- it was a KILLER APP that reviewed terribly. Cosmic Carnage
was a launch game that was supposed to showcase the graphical power of Sega's new peripheral! And to have THAT GAME be terrible? Well, it immediately made the 32X look ridiculous. That, and all the "Well, this game is just a slightly-upgraded Genesis" game stuff with MK II
and NBA Jam
... it helped make the system a huge flop right out of the gate.
And the flopping of the 32X was a true disaster with repercussions still felt to this day- the Virtual Boy and other things were bigger f-ups, to be sure, but none of those hurt a company's BRAND- in 1994, Sega had been coming off of its best year ever, actually defeating Nintendo at its own game, and the Genesis was the hottest system on Earth. Sega could do no wrong... and then the 32X came out. And just like that, their brand-name was hurt- fans knew Sega was fallible, and they were publicly embarrassed by releasing something so bad. And that killed Sega's momentum and put the stink of failure on them, which snowballed further with the release of the Sega Saturn (which came out too early, with unfinished games, just to beat the PlayStation to the market, infuriating retailers). When THAT failed, it more or less killed Sega in the water- their last shot was still given the side-eye, and the Dreamcast was their final system.
Okay, so MAYBE you can't blame all of that on Cosmic Carnage
. But I will. Because up yours, Cosmic Carnage
Cylic- Red Ant.
Naruto- Shadow Being.
Tyr- Samurai-Like guy.
Zena-Lan- Female soldier with fire-hair.
Talmac- Skull-faced criminal.
Yug- Gorilla-like robot.
Naja- Snake-shaped female.
Deamon- Vicious, taloned alien.