In a slight change to our usual transmission, we’ve decided to actually play and rush-review the games behind some of videogames most rubbish box arts to see if they are actually jerky or whether their covers hide some real gems. First up, Vice: Project Doom.
There were two things about this game that made me want to immediately play it. The first was the title, the second thing was also the title. The box art for this brilliantly titled NES game is truly dreadful, you’ll get no arguments from us – it kinda looks a little like a knock-off copy of Die Hard but starring Simon Cowell and Danni Minogue, and with a marketing budget so tiny that its artists were forced to create the cover using coloured pencils. It did allow curiosity to take over our better judgement though. And if you see this box art and are currently getting a similar worrying pang, fret not. We’ve played the game, and have even gone to the trouble of including a few screenshots to document our experience. And would you believe it, despite looking like an utter turd of the highest turdiest order, Vice: Project Doom is actually a pretty decent and well-presented NES game. And here’s why;
Here’s the opening intro, where some mysterious anime guys talk about some important guy they don’t want to see go missing actually doing just that. We found this bit to be a little confusing if we’re honest, especially as one of the guys thinks ‘it’s raining’ is a great way to end a conversation. The graphics look good though, don’t you think?
Then we were introduced to our character – a cop – and jumped straight into this quirky top-down racing/shmup bit where we had to apprehend an absconding perp (presumably the guy that’s gone missing). This section seemed to knick gameplay and sprites from Super Spy Hunter, but we forgave it because we liked the way that when we drove into boxes and traffic cones they would fly into the air and get bigger. Damn this game is so awesome.
After our hero apprehended his target, he discovers the driver has a claw for a hand, and immediately decides he wants to get to the bottom of why – bad news for those anime guys we suspect. We’re then greeted to the game’s title screen. OMG, we’ve just realised that we have just played this game’s intro. OMG x 100,000,760!
As if that’s wasn’t cool enough we get to the real meat of the game: this enjoyable side-scrolling platform action game that boasts slick graphics, varied – if a little random (pumpkin-headed spectres and hopping monks…Mmm) - enemies, three choices of weapons (sword, handgun and grenades), quirky boss fights, plus the ability to actually deflect enemy projectiles.
This is clearly a win for the game, and a monumental loss for its box art. The artist people responsible should be ashamed of themselves.