Welcome to -- RETRO GAME DAISUKI ! -- a blog about the wonderful world of Japanese retro video games (ARCADE / PC-88 / X68K / MEGA DRIVE / SATURN / PlayStation / PC-ENGINE). Re-live the strangest games from the 80's and 90's. Retro games were our youth!
Author : HERZOG
-- Playing video games since the 80's ! --
Still trying to translate all the posts from my old blog. Please see this post for more info.
Also, please excuse any grammar and any other related errors you may find on this blog, as English is not my first language.
September, 2008. A crisis has occurred at the underground bionics research facility of the FORHOMBUS HEAVY INDUSTRY (FHI) H.Q.
A group of combat androids virtually indistinguishable from adult humans but with superior abilities known as 「BIO DOLLS」have infiltrated the facility and staged a 「BLOODY MUNITY」against the bionic engineers that created them.
The latest report indicates that the BIO DOLLS have killed most of the research staff and are now in complete control of the facility and its security systems.
To make matters worse the hostiles have also gained access to the various AFW (Armored Fighting Walker) prototype units that were currently being developed at the site. Thus they have become a threat beyond of what the local authorities can handle.
In response to this critical threat the army has dispatched an elite AFW Special Forces Team to eliminate the BIO DOLLS and secure the facility. ■GAME INFORMATION
CARMINE is basically an adventure game that tries to look like a first-person view mech simulator. The player has to navigate around a 3D maze looking for events to advance the story, all whilst getting constantly harrassed by random enemy encounters that are way too frequent and way too dangerous for their own good.
A direct screen comparison between the X1 version (left) and the original PC-98 version (right).
Originally the game was developed for the NEC PC-98 where the whole 3D mech simulator effect was actually impressive for the time. However for the 8-bit PC systems the gameplay window was reduced to such a lousily small square that the 3D effect just isn't as cool anymore.
The 8-bit versions are also missing a lot of visual scenes found in the PC-98, like the Game Over screen for example.
This is very disappointing because the artwork in the game is fantastic, despite the fact that it was obviously copied using a very low-end scanner.
Before you ask, the reason why I'm covering the X1 version instead of the original and superior PC-98 one, is because I don't own a PC-98 system and the emulation of the game is broken.
The enemy model graphics are busted, but more importantly, there seems to be a glitch that makes you unable to hit certain enemies regardless of how many times you attack them. Obviously this makes the game pretty much impossible to complete.... *cries*
In CARMINE the player assumes role of L.T. BRIAN=W=KERNIGHAN who pilots a GALLEOUSE type AFW unit codenamed 「DOROSY」.
Your orders are to eliminate all BIO DOLL and MECHANIZED DOLL hostiles before they can escape the facility. The rescue of possible survivors is a secondary priority and must not come in conflict with your primary objective.
The gameplay premise in CARMINE is very interesting. Your mech DOROSY starts the mission with 192 D.C. (Durability Condition?) and a limited amount of weapon ammunition. You cannot repair your mech and you cannot collect any more ammo. Therefore you will have to manage and clear the game with only the stuff your start with.
In this aspect CARMINE clearly gives off a suvival-horror vibe that is only accentuated by the ever-present sense of danger and the extremely gory setting.
Unfortunately a completely busted combat system all but turns what could have been a decent and unique AVG experience into a true exercise in frustration.
Apparently the game uses some sort of dice roll system to determine whether you hit the enemy or not, however this system just feels way too shallow, randomized and cheap.
The problem then, is that practically every single random encounter you may come across regardless of the enemy type can easily leave your mech badly damaged in the aftermath. And that is something that can potentially screw up your whole playthrough, since as previously mentioned, you cannot repair your mech.
I really don't know what the programmers were thinking, but implementing constant random combat without giving the player the ability to heal their wounds it's just a terrible design choice from any way you look at it.
The storyline (alongside the art design) is by much the best part of the game. The plot is basically BLADE RUNNER but with a good dose of mech and other Japanese SF conventions added for good measure.
A novelization of the game was even published shorty after the PC-98 version was released.
Unfortunately like all other adventure games of the time, CARMINE is extremely short. In fact if it wasn't for all the random encounters, you could easily clear the game in just 5 minutes or so.
Not all events are required to clear the game neither. But of course you will want to see them all in order to get the most of the story.
After fighting his way into the facility, BRIAN encounters a suspicious unidentified DOLL. Strangely, the man only stares at the GALLEOUSE and then walks away... as if inviting BRIAN to head deeper into the complex...
BRIAN finds a secret terminal and pick ups the mysterious 「B CARD」. Note that you need to get through both a LYGES and LYGES-2 enemy units to reach the terminal. The card also isn't really required to clear the game.
BRIAN rescues a survivor named IRENE=KESTNER from a rogue CAROM unit. Her father WILLIAM=KESTNER is one of the head biotic engineers at the FHI.
At the MEDICAL ROOM BRIAN patches up IRENE's wounds. The two of them bond quickly.
IRENE and BRIAN reach the LABORATORY SECTION and find what's left of the Director PAUL=CLAYMAN. The rest of the staff have also been brutally murdered.....
BRIAN meets with SOHNE's RUCORN. SOHNE is surprised to see IRENE since rescuing survivors was not part of the mission. The encounter is cut short however when a LYGES suddenly sneaks in from behind.
Luckily, IRENE and BRIAN manage to save their lives by shielding themselves behind the RUCORN.
IRENE discovers the dead body of his father....
He was holding the 「C CARD」which BRIAN uses to access his personal computer terminal.
A recorded video message gives some insight of what's really going on. It seems they need to head for the COMPUTER ROOM to find some answers.
A sight for sore eyes. GADO and TAKO show up on their GALLEOUSE CASARYN. Unfortunately the group is quickly ambushed by the enemy.
BRIAN has no other choice but to leave them behind and continue with the mission...
BRIAN heads to the AFW HANGAR looking for a supply repair kit but the place is completely empty. Then on the way out he's suddenly stopped by a mysterious GALLEOUSE unit...
The encounter has left DOROSY badly damaged and without her bazooka sub-weapon.
The shutter leading to the COMPUTER ROOM is locked. As IRENE and BRIAN start looking for an alternative route they meet with TOMAS and RANA (former lover?). After a brief conversation they give BRIAN and IRENE the 「B CARD」that will let them access a secret passageway to the MAIN COMPUTER ROOM.
Finally IRENE and BRIAN reach the COMPUTER ROOM. There they find a mysterious man with sunglasses who calls himself GENE and looks identically to IRENE's older brother HUGH.
GENE tries to shoot BRIAN but gets shot down by IRENE instead.
Afterwards, DR. JEAN=RADIUS comes out of hiding and after confirming that IRENE is indeed a DOLL, tries to comfort her.
Then in just a flash, SOHNE's RUCORN jumps in and shoots them both down.... This had been his real mission all along....