- Microsurgeon -





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Microsurgeon - February 17, '02 by -^Cro§Bow^-

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be able to go inside your own body and see first hand what is usually only visible in microscopes? Fantastic Voyage was a 1960's movie based on this very concept in that a prominent man suffers from an inoperable head trauma. Several games in the early 80's have tried to recreate the feel of this movie including one made by 20th Century Fox for the Atari 2600 VCS named after the above mentioned movie. The problem is that while the 2600 game is a good shooter in it's own right; it just doesn't capture the feel of being inside a human body trying to fight off foreign invaders. Thankfully one game does. And astonishingly it isn't an Atari game but one for a competitor system known as the Intellivision made by Mattel Electronics. That game is known as Microsurgeon programmed and published by the masters at Imagic.

While Microsurgeon isn't really like the movie Fantastic Voyage, there are many similarities in the game. Instead of controlling a small submarine piloted by some inept scientists playing doctor, we actually pilot a small robot. Also in the movie the main goal for the scientists was to zap away some dead tissue in the brain of the man they were in to save his life. In Microsurgeon you have more than dead tissue in the brain to worry about. In fact there are tumors in the brain that have to be zapped, in the lungs there are tar deposits which must be destroyed, the entire body suffers from clogged veins and arteries due to cholesterol and infection in the organs. In short when you start up a game of Microsurgeon you could be given a patient that has problems in just about every major organ in their body. Piloting the robot around destroying the infections, clogs, tumors and other maladies is the ultimate challenge and goal of the game. To accomplish this task your robot is given the ability of not using a laser beam or any other fancy ray but instead, your robot is able to administer shots of antibiotics, aspirin, and even waves of ultrasound to eliminate the bodily invaders. Luckily the game really lets you explore the body since you basically don't have any onscreen enemies that harm your robot directly other than time and an energy reserve that you're given.

The graphics in Microsurgeon aren't exactly a Di Vinci masterpiece, but they get the job done extremely well. The game basically plays from a 3rd person perspective in that you are constantly looking at your robot "blip" on a large map of the patient's body. It basically looks like one of those pictures from you biology book in high school showing a cutaway of the human body with the arteries, bones, organs, etc exposed. Picture that you and get a good idea of what the playfield looks like in Microsurgeon. The graphics are blocky and the colors are everywhere. But the details that Imagic put in make up for this. Basically there is an eyeball and the pupil will dilate and contract. In the brain there are little sparks showing neuron synaptic action going on. Also many of the organs in the screen are easily identified such as the lungs and heart area. However, it must also be stated that many of the areas in the game representing the organs of the body are difficult to tell the difference between as they look nothing like the pictures in out science books. I still have a difficult time discerning when I leave the Intestines and the Kidney s begin. To assist in this the game has a separate Patient Status screen you can refer to for information on your current location, the patient's status in the various parts of the body, and your current energy reserve level. This screen proves to be very useful for both knowing when you enter a particular part of the body and for letting you know where your help is needed most. The enemies you destroy representing the infections, pain, and other problems in the body look cheesy except for the graphics used for the tumors. Basically most of the stuff either looks like dark spots on the organs as in the tar deposits or like small bugs, which are used to represent the infections and pain traveling in the body. Imagic could have kept the little moving legs off of these items and instead used green blobs for infections and maybe a rogue spark traveling around to represent pain. The sounds in the game are nothing spectacular but they are what I would call clean and useful sounds. Basically there is zero music anywhere in the game, which makes sense, since your operating on a body using a robot as your scalpel. Sounds are therefore, mainly ambient. Some of the nice touches to the sound include things such as the sound of rushing air whenever you're in the lungs. The sound actually grows louder and then fades out to simulate the patient's breathing. Also as you near the heart and actually go into the heart the sound of the thumping gets louder and louder, and then it too will fade out as you pilot your robot away from the heart. There is one sound that while useful is also annoying. This is the sound of the heart monitor in the background that is constantly pinging. This sound lets you know when you have to get moving on the more serious parts of the body as the patient can flat line on you. The closer the patient is to perishing the faster the ping will become. There are also sound effects for when you administer you shots and explosion sounds when you destroy tumors, bacteria, or deposits in the body.

Intellivision games are notorious for having only so-so control. This usually isn't any fault of the game but actually the design of the Intellivision disc pad controllers. Thankfully Microsurgeon actually benefits from this awkward control scheme in that it allow a person playing to have much better control over their shots and direction. This is important because the longer you take to navigate and the more shots you use to knock out tumors...etc takes up precious energy needed to heal the patient. Also finite control will be required to navigate the many twists and turns of the arteries and veins you use as your expressways to the organs. Your robot moves much quicker will less energy taken up when traveling through the blood stream. Shots are administered by first selecting which shot you want to shoot. Using the Intellivision's keypad accomplishes this easy enough. The keypad is also used for switching between the patient status screen and your inside body view screen. Control for the most part is very presise and fluid. However, sometimes your robot seems to get stuck on the edges of the blood vessels. Minor annoyance but it does occur.

Microsurgeon really is a game that no Intellivision fan should be without. Imagic demonstrates once again their excellence in games with the solid game play, useful sounds, and tasteful detailed graphics in their games. If you ever feel the need to wander around a human body and kick the crap outta bodily foreign invaders, then Microsurgeon is the prescription this doctor prescribes.

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