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Metal Head

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Genre: Shoot-'em-up

Format reviewed: Sega 32X

Ah, the 32X. Sega promised so much with this machine, but by now you all know the story – it’s one of gaming’s most infamous flops, and a gaffe from which the company struggled to recover. But going back to 1995, games like Metal Head made it look like Sega might just deliver on the promises it had made.

Here was a mech combat game that put you right in the cockpit, watching in awe as explosions rocked enemy robots. Unlike the 32X’s launch titles, Metal Head offered environments made from textured polygons, just like PlayStation and Saturn releases. The game even boasted a relatively generous helping of speech, proving that the cartridge format wasn’t as far behind CD-ROM as its advocates would have had you believe. Just for a moment, the 32X felt like it really was going to deliver next generation gaming. Does it hold up now?

No – and it never did, because the illusion only lasted until the moment you got your hands on the game. Sure, it looked reasonably pretty and didn’t make you want to smash your 32X into a pile of shattered plastic and circuitry, but even the most ardent 32X fan would have to admit that it was little more than a slow-moving and simplistic shoot-’em-up. Doom made for a better first-person shooter and despite being sprite-based, the likes of Battlecorps and SoulStar on the Mega-CD put it to shame.

Metal Head isn’t a bad game, merely a disappointing one. Unfortunately, disappointment would go on to become the norm for owners of the hardware, who would receive a trickle of underwhelming releases before the hardware was put out of its misery in 1996 – ironically suffering a much earlier death than the platform it was supposed to extend the life of.

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