Microcosm (video game)
Amiga CD cover art
The Creative Assembly (DOS)
Microcosm is a 3D rail shooter video game developed and published by Psygnosis in 1993. It was originally developed for the FM Towns, and also ported for the Sega Mega-CD, Amiga CD32, and 3DO game consoles, as well as MS-DOS. Microcosm featured realistic FMV animation, with the graphics being rendered on Silicon Graphics workstations. The game is either in first person or third person view depending on the gaming system.
Set in the year of 2051 AD, the game takes place in a dystopian futuristic setting on an alien planet called Bodor, located in the Bator System, where the galaxy's two largest conglomerates — Cybertech, considered the more compassionate of the two, and Axiom, thought to be the more oppressive corporation — compete to achieve premier status in the business world, a position known as CORP 1. Because of heavy mining operations on the planet from the corporations, most of Bodor is uninhabitable due to pollution, forcing 87% of the population onto 2% of the planet's land. Because of this, poverty, crime and disease are rampant in the cities. Axiom also claims that Cybertech is responsible for the death of Axiom's former president. Axiom injects Cybertech president Tiron Korsby's body with microscopic droids designed to penetrate his brain and control his mind. Cybertech, however, learns of this plan and injects Korsby with their own piloted submarines shrunken down to size to destroy Axiom's droids and prevent them from controlling Korsby's mind.
The game used the latest Silicon Graphics computers at the time to render the graphics as realistic as possible. In 1991, the game was first seen in a demo for the Amiga CDTV. A port for the CD-i was planned and then canceled, but a prototype exists. The lead platform was the FM Towns, and development was funded in part by Fujitsu with the aim of making it a launch title for the console-styled version of the platform, the FM Towns Marty. The game engine was later purchased by Fujitsu for £250,000. The DOS and FM Towns versions feature an exclusive soundtrack by Rick Wakeman, which was replaced in other versions with a soundtrack by Tim Wright for licensing reasons. A promotional version of the game was later developed for Pfizer.
Critics generally rated Microcosm as having excellent graphics but very limited and poorly designed gameplay. Amiga Format, for instance, greatly praised the Amiga CD32 version's graphics and soundtrack, but described the gameplay as "a merely slightly better than average" rail shooter. In a 1995 second review, they lowered their score from 87% to 40%, mocking their earlier review's emphasis of graphics over gameplay and describing the game as "a decidedly average Space Harrier clone that certainly looks great, but plays horribly". Amiga Power similarly described Microcosm as a Space Harrier clone with extremely limited interactivity and little variations in the visuals, giving the game a 44%. CU Amiga gave the Amiga CD32 version an 86%, saying that the graphics are not nearly as good as the FM Towns version, with enemy sprites that look "pasted on", but that the gameplay is considerably improved.
Reviewing the Sega CD version, GamePro opined that Microcosm represents a good concept for FMV games, but that the poor level design reduces the gameplay to trial-and-error and takes away from the fun. Electronic Gaming Monthly similarly commented that the game concept is good, but the gameplay is "repetitious and boring." They scored it a 5.4 out of 10.
Electronic Gaming Monthly's four reviewers gave the 3DO version a unanimous score of 4 out of 10, commenting that the graphics are a huge improvement over the Sega CD version,[note 1] but that the gameplay is still shallow and "just not fun".
- Though the FM Towns and Amiga CD32 versions had also been released at the time, the review does not mention them because they were not released in North America, where Electronic Gaming Monthly was published.
- "Microcosm for FM Towns (1993)". MobyGames. Retrieved 2014-02-02.
- "Microcosm Release Date (Sega Mega-CD)". GameFAQs. Archived from the original on 2009-05-06. Retrieved 2008-08-31.
- "Microcosm Release Date (3DO)". GameFAQs. Archived from the original on 2007-08-26. Retrieved 2008-08-31.
- "Microcosm Release Date (Amiga CD32)". GameFAQs. Archived from the original on 2012-07-30. Retrieved 2008-08-31.
- McFerran, Damien (2 February 2014). "A fantastic voyage: The making of Microcosm". Eurogamer. Retrieved 2 February 2014.
- Dillon, Tony (December 1993). "Microcosm". CU Amiga. EMAP. pp. 52–54.
- Storey, Dudley III (May 1994). "Microcosm". Amiga Down Under (9). p. 73.
- "PC Zone Magazine" (1). PC Zone. April 1993: 9. Retrieved July 3, 2017.
- Dyson, Marcus (April 1994). "Microcosm". Amiga Format (58). p. 57.
- McGill, Steve (November 1995). "Microcosm CD32". Amiga Format (77). p. 77.
- Campbell, Stuart (April 1994). "Microcosm". Amiga Power (36). Future plc. pp. 34–35.
- "Microcosm". GamePro (58). IDG. May 1994. p. 38.
- "Review Crew: Microcosm". Electronic Gaming Monthly (56). EGM Media, LLC. March 1994. p. 38.
- "Review Crew: Microcosm". Electronic Gaming Monthly (61). EGM Media, LLC. August 1994. p. 36.
- "FMV Hell – Microcosm". The Spoony Experiment. April 6, 2008.