One of my favorite Sega CD games. Surprisingly good acting and soundtrack. With a few exceptions, such as humorously delayed lines. Not to mention the hideously awful 2nd level music, which sounds like a kindergartener playing the electric banjo. The 3rd level music is equally bad, except now there’s three kindergarteners, and they all have head-wounds. And featuring famous actor Robert Costanzo (Honeymoon in Vegas, City Slickers), who most of you know as “that guy from that one movie”. And if these sentence fragments haven’t convinced you how great this game is, then I don’t really give a shit. Keep reading anyway.
The game is basically about shooting various normal sewer dwelling creatures, such as bats, giant scorpions, and “ratigators” (satanic squirrel embryo puppets made out of furry clay):
What you are desperately trying to look away from there is a "Ratigator." These timid, cuddly creatures are nocturnal and usually enjoy carrots and other vegetables, annoying music and being blown to hell by spaceships. As you can see, this one declined to be photographed. Because the ratigators are long since extinct, the creators of this game had to simulate them by using state-of-the-art digital effects and muddy sock puppets.
Meanwhile, you also have to listen to a floating robot that sounds like Don Knotts as he guides you through the sewer. Your hovercraft is kinda set on cruise control, so you don’t really get to “steer”. Instead, you just press the B button to take whatever fork RoboKnotts tells you to. The levels themselves aren’t named, but each level gives you a new call sign, like Dogmeat or Ratbreath and the music gets worse. You can run out of energy, so there are a few recharges throughout the game. Each recharge has two forks, right and left; one being the actual recharge and the other being a slap in the face. So they’re really only worth something 50% of the time. I think the correct fork has something to do with the red and green sign at the top of the screen, like red means "fake" and green means "good." But with the Sega CD’s limited graphics, by the time the sign is close enough to change from pale-gray to distinguishable colors, you’ve missed the fucking fork.
The main problem with Sewer Shark is that it, like the Sega CD itself, has a will of its own. Sometimes, no matter how many times you franticly smash the B button (I'm, like, 60% sure that's the right button), you’ll just whiz past the desired fork and into a wall. Meanwhile, I can almost hear the game mimicking the HAL 9000 computer saying “I’m sorry, Dogmeat, I’m afraid I can’t let you do that.” And even though you may have perfect aim, certain creatures sometimes seem to build up an immunity to the red jawbreakers you shoot at them. So in short, if you win, the game wanted you to win.
I also like how indecisive the game gets when your energy level reaches zero. Sometimes it likes to immediately blow up your unsuspecting ship so it can secretly laugh at the shocked, “what the hell?” look on your face. Other times it likes to toy with you and lets you wander throughout the lion’s den, unable to shoot, until your boss, Stenchler, kills you for not hitting enough enemies. That one’s my favorite. Or maybe, while you’re wandering, you come to a recharge and choose the WRONG GODDAMN FORK. Stupid programming fuckers just put it there for the same reason they added the laughing dog in Duck Hunt. It’s either to depress kids into buying more video games, or it’s because programmers like laughing at people’s frustration and failure. And since I've met programmers before, I'm gonna say it's both. Programmers are assholes.
Oh and further proof that this game is evil, I went to unpause it just now, and the machine roared at me. I am not kidding. It just made some intimidating, sickly rattle-click noise at me like a rattlesnake. Like it’s challenging me. Like it’s telling me it is the dominant male, and I should back down. So I accepted, and in the end, it won. I don’t want to talk about it.
At one point in the game, your copilot says something that sounds like “Hotdog shoe-leather!” I think the only way to get past this part is to press the C button, which, like your copilot, previously had no function. I don’t have the instruction booklet, but I doubt it says anything about what you’re supposed to do here. Not long after this, your boss threatens to cook your copilot’s girlfriend, Falco, using magical heating mirrors. He’s not a very good terrorist, though, since he forgot to leave any demands. And for some reason, he knows your call sign every time you change it, even though you haven’t had contact with him since your last call sign. I think the game is onto him, though, ‘cause in the third level, you change your name after like five minutes. Even so, the next time you talk to him, not only does he know your new name, but he had time to come up with a non-clever pun about it.
By the fourth level, the acting has gotten worse, and the whole damn thing looks like a crappy, 50’s beach party movie. And instead of killing Falco right now, your boss decides to use his heat mirrors to explode pineapples, which, strangely enough, just happen to be hanging next to Falco’s head. Then, after his ding-dong secretary pours anchovy pudding (which, despite it’s name, is actually some kind of soup) over his head, he screams and starts raving about how he’s going to melt everyone’s brain with a boom box.
I like how the fourth level just loops around three or four times so I know exactly where all the enemies are. On the last loop, it’s reversed, but this doesn’t change the difficulty much. What really bugs me is that the part that always kills me is at the very end, so when I die, I have to start all the way back at the beginning of the unholy, 10-minute level. The part that kills me is the part where I have to fight brain-eating fireflies. BRAIN. EATING. FIREFLIES!!! They’re called “Zerg,” which according to Hasbro, is a term copyrighted by them. So I guess Starcraft and Disney’s Toy Story don’t exist. The “Zerg” bounce all over the screen, and just three of them can kill you. There’s like 50! And after you get through it… Oh God, the end…
The end was like three minutes long, well not worth the trouble of getting there. And it was three minutes of the most depressing shit I’ve ever seen. And what do you think happened to your boss, who TRIED TO KILL EVERYBODY? Was he thrown into his heat mirrors? Speared through the gut with a stick? Did he have his skin torn off? Or get eaten by his “Zerg?” Get thrown in jail or even KICKED IN THE BALLS? No, you think to small. What really happened was much, much worse. He was punched in the face, and rolled into the ocean in an inner tube. Well, fuck. At least he got what he deserved. I mean, come on! There have been Scooby Doo-villains that have had their asses kicked more than that! Heartless bastard should have had his fucking eyes ripped out with a fork, and then have the fork shoved up his ass SIDEWAYS so he can see why he’s constipated.
Seriously, the end made me hysterical. But the last blow was the worst. It was like a kick in the crotch. No, more like several kicks to the same testicle. After that horrible ending movie was over, they showed the same goddamn credits I already got to see every time I died. I should have been crying so hard I could piss tears, but I wasn’t. I immediately burst out laughing. Not a funny, jolly laugh. An insane, maniacal laugh. A laugh that made me want to burn every last copy of the game, not to mention physically burn it from my memory.
RATING (OUT OF 10)
GRAPHICS: 5 They’re great for Sega CD, but when not comparing it to Sega CD, they suck. So I really didn’t know how to rate it. Everything just looks like oatmeal until you get close to it. The creatures also have a habit of jumping directly into your vision whenever you shoot them. This kinda makes it difficult too see the hoards of other enemies as they sting you while you’re impaired.
SOUND: 1-8? At the beginning, everything was great and the music was just fine. But eventually it all just started deteriorating at an alarming rate. Pretty soon, the game was just a sad shell of its former self, with terrible music to go along with it.
PLAY CONTROL: 2 I already talked about not being able to steer, not to mention the sadistic minds of both Sewer Shark and the Sega CD. So there’s really not much else I can say. You just have to get used to dying a lot for no reason at all.
FUN: 1-8? Like the sound, it was good at the beginning. For about a level. Then it just keeps getting worse and worse until the ending, where they let the bad guy go free after a slap on the wrists.
OVERALL RATING: 3
This game was so painful, in so many ways. The emotional scarring is great, and the damage to my self-esteem is irreparable. I can only hope to top it with my next review, which I’m not particularly looking forward to. This is the first of 12 agonizing reviews I have to do… for you. I hope you’re happy.
When I look back at this review, I wonder why the hell I said I like this game in the first place. I started the review after not having played it in two years. Then I played the game and wrote the review as I progressed. Now it’s just one big contradicting mess, like the Book of Mormon. I guess I just liked it because I hadn’t played it in a while. Maybe. Or maybe, I just secretly love this game for some reason I don’t know but should be slapped for. Or maybe it’s because, since I get my funniest ideas when I’m sleep deprived, I purposely haven’t slept for two days. I’ve been laughing like every five seconds for no reason at all. I have to retype every word twice just so it dosen’t lookk likte thisd.