Developer: Zyrinx Software
Year released: NEVER...
What's that you say? NEVER...? How can it not have been released, ever?
Because it's a tech demo for a game that never got finished or released. If you're wondering how the hell I have managed to play it, the answer is through the gift of emulation. Somewhere along the line of the development of this game, someone produced a preview cartridge with a little of the game in finished form (perhaps for distribution to a magazine). Somehow, this cartridge fell into the hands of Nasty Evil ROM Playing PeopleTM, and someone managed to dump the game to a ROM file. And as so often happens, the game was put up for download on the Internet, where it was promptly devoured by The Scene. Now, while it's still a fairly rare download to find, it's a damn sight easier to find than before - when probably less than 10 cartridges of this particular version were ever made. For another example of a game where a beta version was leaked onto the Internet, have a look at Sonic the Hedgehog 2 beta.
Interestingly, according to Cowering's Goodtools, the ROM of Hardwired is freely distributable (ie It has the (PD) tag), making it one of the few ROMs you can do whatever you want with legally. Then again, if you're into emulation, that probably doesn't matter much to you.
The game itself would be unremarkable normally - it's an unfinished game with reasonably standard gameplay. The most obvious comparison is to EA's * Strike series. This series began with Desert Strike ("coincidentally" released to coincide with the Gulf War, round 1. It's very sad to say, but at the time of writing this node, it looks like EA will soon have another excuse for a Strike game set coincidentally in the desert which coincidentally features lots of oil fields, and a coincidentally moustachioed dictator to topple from his throne of power. But I must restrain myself.)
When playing you get the chance to Grab yourself an Apache, strap yourself in, and prepare to make friends The American WayTM. Predictably enough, this involves shooting lots of things with machine gun, followed closely by shooting people with Hydras, with some Sidewinders and other rocket type things also available to shoot people with. So far, so similar. There are also some nice levels set in underground mysterious bunkersTM where you go around and kill some unremarkable looking people. OK, people, wake up now, because this is where it gets good.
Super cool flashiness
Basically, while graphics are not more important than gameplay, there are some times when while playing, you can't help but go WOW. And even if the game isn't that great, you'll keep playing, just to see more WOW moments. And this game is like that - the gameplay is quite good, but the technology that the game uses is just astounding. The blurb shown when you start the ROM is as follows:
This is a preview of the Genesis game "Hardwired" featuring:
- Rotating Background graphics
- Rotating Background Texture
- 3D Sprite Objects
- 3D Vector Objects
- Realtime Zoom
- Cartridge Video Compression
All running on a standard Sega Genesis without use of extra DSP chip or CD Drive
Now I don't know about you, but that sounds damn good to me.
And if you think it sounds good, then wait a few seconds until the opening sequence begins:
Dictator Declares Nuclear War
*Crack open Popcorn*
*Watch some GODDAMN AMAZING footage of a Soviet Dictator guy
doing his "Crush the capitalist pigs" speech.
No sound, and only two colours (black and superbly cool red background).
But still amazing*
*Watch Video of tanks rolling by*
*Start to drool*
*Watch video of subs floating past, planes doing some really cool acrobatics*
*Fall off chair, land with a splash in pool of drool*
*Nukes point towards screen.*
*Amazing video techniques still haven't become boring*
*Helicopter rises in front of screen, turns and flies off*
You have 24 Hours
Perhaps I'm being melodramatic. Perhaps I'm getting over excited over what is nothing more than a reasonably impressive bit of code. But you really have to see it to believe it.
I have always thought that the SNES was far superior to the Sega Genesis in terms of technology. It had cool hardware effects like Mode 7. It had 6 buttons, allowing all sorts of cool games to be made on it. But after seeing this, I reckon that if only this had been released, the Genesis could have been hailed as much better. I mean considering that no extra chips are used, there are no mice running in treadwheels inside the cartridge to power the magical contraption which makes the video work, I reckon that this game contains some of the Genesis' best coding.
As for the game itself (hah! you thought I'd never get round to it!), more impressive coding is shown off. The game camera is positioned above the player at all times, but instead of the map staying static and the helicopter rotating, the helicopter always points at the top of the screen. So when you turn, the map turns underneath. It's incredibly impressive in my opinion. Even better are the structures which appear on the map - they rise realistically from the ground, and scale properly when you fly round them. And the sections set inside buildings have brilliantly 3D walls which look different depending on how close the camera is to them. Think the first two GTA games, but on a Genesis, and you've got the idea.
The gameplay itself is... OK. It could obviously have really used a little more development time, and some of it isn't really that great, but it's reasonable fun just tearing about on the map and shooting things incessantly. If it had some more time In Utero and it was actually released, it could have been really special. As it is, it's just a playable tech demo. A very, very impressive tech demo, but the slightly sub standard gameplay makes it nothing more than that.
UPDATE!!! Ok, I was wrong. I was very wrong. I was shockingly wrong.
It turns out that Hard Wired was finished and was released. Big thanks to fondue and Servo5678 for pointing out that the game was finished and released under a different title (to completely destroy my chances of working that out) - Red Zone. Check out fondue's writeup in that node for the details.
Playing the ROM with Gens.
Thanks to ReiToei and jasonm for some corrections.
Thanks to fondue and Servo5678 for pointing out that the game was released eventually.