Full Motion Video Special – Corpse Killer & Sewer Shark

There are a lot of FMV games for the Sega CD and I own a number of them myself but the intent of this post isn’t to highlight all of my FMV games, just two of the more common and commonly ridiculed ones.

What aspects of an FMV game are typically ripe for ridicule? One is their gameplay. Many FMV games have horrible controls rendering gameplay difficult to near impossible or they are little more than interactive movies with minimal gameplay mechanics. Another aspect commonly ridiculed, especially for the early FMV adopters such as the Sega CD, is the grainy video. Video on CD-ROM technology was pretty primitive in the early 90’s and to expect crystal clear picture just wasn’t going to happen. Instead what we got was pixelated and grainy video images. Very, very cool looking in 1992….not so much in 2016. Finally we have the bad acting and cheesy dialogue so closely associated with FMV games of the era. Many of these games do not rely on realistic dialogue or hire top quality actors. Most actors were either directed to act as over the top as they could or they all figured “Fuck it, it’s a video game. No one cares if I sound stiff or if I’m grossly over-acting”. Some FMV game publishers hired B-list actors (Dana Plato, Corey Haim, etc.) but most went down to D-list grade actors. If you were in the right place at the right time, you too could have been in a FMV game (total speculation).

Sewer Shark was one of the launch titles for the Sega CD in 1992 and was the very first home video game to use FMV. Very popular and very common, it was packaged in a cardboard box with a CD jewel case and manual inside. This was how very early Sega CD games were packaged until they adopted the long brittle plastic jewel cases. Sewer Shark was so popular that it eventually became a pack-in title for the model 2 Sega CD. It’s a first person rail shooter where the player blasts mutant creatures in sewers while being berated by your co-pilot. He can be such an annoying dick and is the most irritating aspect of the game in my opinion. In spite of it’s ubiquity during Sega CD’s heyday, Sewer Shark gets mixed reviews today. Some think it’s a decent example of what Sega was trying to accomplish with the FMV style and consider it a must-own while others dismiss it as a relic of it’s time with repetitive gameplay and no longer holds up. I lean towards the former category on this one and still find fun and value in the game, even if it’s more of a novelty today.

Corpse Killer on the other hand….whew….where to begin. The gameplay requires you to repeatedly shoot at zombies on a tropical island using your cursor, not a light gun such as the Sega Justifier. For myself, cursor shooting games aren’t as inherently fun but for others, this may not be considered a detriment. Add repetitive gameplay to numerous cut-scenes with awful dialogue, lame FX (actors wearing masks) and stiff acting and this is your typical FMV stinker. The version in my collection is the 32X/CD version, meaning that the player is required to have both a 32X and Sega CD connected at the same time to play. There is a regular Sega CD version of Corpse Killer but the 32X/CD version allegedly has better graphics and clearer video. I have no way of confirming this as I don’t own the original CD version. I’m not convinced this version is superior to the Sega CD version.

Currently in my collection:

  • Sewer Shark – game (black disc), manual, box plus extra copy of game (blue disc). My guess is that the loose blue version was the pack-in version with model 2 and my complete version in cardboard box is the launch version sold separately. I consider this a must own for the Sega CD due to it’s significance during launch as well as being a pack-in later in the system’s life. Also, its not that bad! B-
  • Corpse Killer – game, manual, box. Not a must own by any stretch but super easy to find and not all that expensive. Although CIB Sega CD games are starting to creep up in price, even for mediocre titles like this. D+
I’m actually pleased to have a CIB copy of this game.
The hard cardboard used for the 32X/CD titles was a smart move by Sega. I wish all of their titles were packaged this way.


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