Multimedia Exploration Journal: December 13, 2003
Did you come to this page via Google,
perchance? This may be one of the very few pages you will find on the entire
internet that covers a particular video game you were searching for.
Unfortunately, this page will tell you very little about it, apart from
whether or not it contains full motion video (FMV) multimedia.
I have again accumulated many games since the last journal entry.
Getting on with the show...
Rick Dyer Presents Hologram(TM) Time Traveler(TM)/PC (MobyGames entry)
Do you happen to remember in the early 1990s when Sega unleashed the world's
first holographic video game into arcades? It had a WOW! factor going
for it that fizzled pretty quickly. A multimedia hacker would be very interested
to see how Digital Leisure, Inc.
managed to translate it into a PC CD-ROM game.
Published in 2000 (and purchased in the bargain bin for $0.99) and
spec'd to operate on Win 95, 98, and ME, the game
also includes a pair of cheap 3D glasses. The multimedia on the disc turns
out to be nothing remarkable. About 450 AVI files at 320x240 resolution
encoded with Intel Indeo 3.2, with MS ADPCM audio. Some of the files have
this moving red/blue ring field which, if you look hard enough
through the 3D glasses, appear to create a 3D effect. To the left is an annoying
wizard character who manifests to correct you when you make a mistake in
the game. Note the rings.
Meanwhile, the folks at Digital Leisure,
Inc. seem to be doing all right by selling newer PC versions of
various old multimedia-heavy game titles such as Dragons's Lair,
Space Ace, and Mad Dog McCree. Check out their site for
lots of downloadable multimedia samples.
The game appears to run under Wine fine, until it has to play an AVI
Atari Jaguar was a legendary failure in the video game console market.
Primarily a cartridge-based system, the unit also had some kind of CD-ROM
add-on. One interesting thing about the Jaguar is that, in contrast to
modern consoles, Atari must not have cared about region coding or locking
judging from the fact that their Jaguar CDs contained instructions in
English, French, and German. This implies that the same discs were sold
in many different regions.
I picked up Myst, the ubiquitous CD-ROM game. I also got a title called
VidGrid. Judging by the case copy, I gather that the purpose of the game is
to solve a tile-based puzzle game while a video plays. If you finish the
game before the video finishes, then try to beat your time. The game
promises that it is an essential addition to the collection of any
music video enthusiast, which is a distinction I carry. I never thought
much about how playing a simple game while watching a music video might
enhance the experience, but I guess the same effect can be achieved by
firing up Tetris while a video plays in another window on my computer.
For the curious, the videos on the VidGrid disc are Aerosmith, Cryin',
Metallica, Enter Sandman; Soundgarden, Spoonman; Peter
Gabriel, Sledgehammer; Van Halen, Right Now; Guns N' Roses,
November Rain; Ozzy Osborne, No More Tears; Jimi Hendrix,
Are You Experienced?; Red Hot Chili Peppers, Give It Away.
Anyway, both of the CD cases prominently display the Cinepak logo. I cannot
study the exact format or container files because I do not know how to extract
the data from the Jaguar discs.
It Came From The Desert/TurboGrafx-CD (MobyGames entry)
Even more rare than an Atari Jaguar CD is a TurboGrafx-CD. The TurboGrafx-16
was an early 16-bit gaming console which usually used credit card-sized
memory things for transporting games. Yet there was also a CD option and a
selection of titles available, albeit an allegedly small selection of
English-language titles. The inside of the jewel case for ICFTD queries
the reader, "Have you tried these other TurboGrafx-CD game discs?" The list
includes Sherlock Holmes (which was available on many systems),
J.B. Harold, Magical Dinosaur Tour, The Addams Family,
and Valis III. It is interesting to note that the list has 7 bullets
but only lists 5 titles, leaving 2 of the bullets blank. Seems optimistic.
It Came From The Desert appears to be a campy monster-movie type game
with a cover depicting giant ants terrorizing a small desert town. The game
has a data track and 25 audio tracks. The data track occupies about half of
the disc which is easily large enough to contain FMV. There really is no
copy on the CD jewel case to speak of so I do now know what the gameplay is
like. The filesystem used to store the stuff in the data track is, of course,
Slam City with Scottie Pippen/Sega CD 32X
I have studied Sega CD games before but this is the first 32X title I have
seen. 32X was another extension to Sega's Genesis console that allowed it
extra graphics capabilities, or so I have read. And of course the CD component
allowed for orders of magnitude of space that game developers really didn't
understand how to use. So they loaded it with FMV.
Such is the case in Slam City by Digital Pictures, who
apparently pushed out a ridiculous number of FMV-driven titles when FMV
alone could still sell a game. This game boasts "So much action on 4
CDs", "Over 2 1/2 hours of full motion video", and "100% Full Motion
Interactive Video". Apparently, the game was also available for some
other systems (perhaps plain Sega CD) since the cover also proudly
proclaims, "Digitally remastered for 32X! 25% sharper video, 8 times
more colors." Most interesting is the mention of "InstaSwitch CD-ROM: The
Instant Response Video Technology". I think I know what this is going to
be: Hundreds of small video clips spliced together in real-time depending
on user input.
The first disc appears to have almost 800 .sga files. I sure would like to
have some lead on that format. The box also contains some marketing literature
for Digital Pictures and the other FMV-based games they are responsible for.
Among them Supreme Warrior, Corpse Killer, and
the infamous Night Trap.
The brochure also extols the virtues of the InstaSwitch technology as well
as another system called DigiChrome. Both were patent pending at the time
of writing. Sure enough, Digital Pictures appears to hold 3 patents:
- US#5,331,417: System and method of displaying a plurality of digital video images
- US#5,448,315: System and method of interactively forming and editing
digital user-arranged video streams in real-time from a plurality of
simultaneously-displayed digital source video streams
- US#5,491,685: System and method of digital compression and decompression
using scaled quantization of variable-sized packets
Lastly, the game comes with a Digital Pictures temporary tattoo. That's
a first in all the titles I've studied.
SGA samples from various Sega CD games]
This is the classic FMV-driven game ported to the Sega CD platform. Published
by ReadySoft. The largest files on the disc simply have the extension .dat.
Inside, they look like the could be .sga files, based on lack of other
distingishing characteristics and the fact the files' sizes are divisible by 256
as has been observed with other .sga files.
Surgical Strike/Sega CD
Yet another in a long line of Sega CD TruVideo Productions. The game takes
the approach of using one gigantic data file (gamedata.bin, pushing 400
megabytes). Nothing inside the data file pops out at me, save for the string
"THE CODE MONKEYS" repeated many times.
Space Jam/Sega Saturn
This is a video game adaptation of the 1996
movie starring Michael Jordan and Bugs Bunny. Published by Acclaim.
The game actually has a few (6) FILM/CPK files.
Sega FILM/CPK sample files]
Batman Forever: The Arcade Game/Sega Saturn (MobyGames entry)
Like Space Jam, this is another Saturn adaptation made by Acclaim
of another Warner Bros. movie.
Weighing in at just under 24 megabytes, the game does not seem to sport any
Crusader: No Remorse/Sega Saturn (MobyGames entry)
I believe this Origin title was also available on the PC. It is made by the
same folks responsible for all the Wing Commander FMV games, so there is good
hope for multimedia. The game has a large series of .acm files which are
ADPCM-encoded AIFF files. It also contains a series of 32 large .tgq files.
I wonder if it is related to the .tgv format seen in Origin games such as
Privateer 2? TGQ is a standard fourcc/chunked multimedia format with
such identifiers as '1SNh' (header), '1SNd' (audio chunk), and 'TGQs' (video
Sample TGQ files from Crusader: No Remorse/Sega Saturn]
Shockwave Assault/Sega Saturn
Published by Electronic Arts. The case copy lists "50+ minutes of Hollywood-style
video". All of it is in the standard Sega FILM/CPK format. Surprisingly,
the video is quite competent, which is a treat.
Published by Crystal Dynamics. Multimedia is supplied via AVI files encoded
with Duck Truemotion and ADPCM codecs.
Independence Day/Sega Saturn (MobyGames entry)
Based on the 1996 summer
blockbuster movie and published by Fox Interactive on an impressive
variety of platforms, as memory serves.
Many of the largest files on the disc are .egg files which sure sounds like
a resource file format of some kind. However, based on the filenames such
as foxi.egg, cred.egg, intr.egg, and titl.egg, I believe they are FMV files
of some sort. Plus, there is an audio sample rate encoded near the front
of the file (always a good clue). No plausible video parameters are seen,
though. I am curious to know if these .egg files are used in versions for
Additionally, the game has 2 very long (11-12 minutes each) CD audio tracks.
The first track has a bunch of voice samples squished together. The second
has a bunch of background music audio tracks concatenated.
Sample EGG files from Independence Day/Sega Saturn]
Warcraft II: The Dark Saga/Sega Saturn (MobyGames entry)
It turns out that all kinds of titles and franchises were released to the
Sega Saturn back in the day. Blizzard's popular Warcraft series is
among them. Multimedia apparently comes in the form of .tgq files like in
Crusader: No Remorse. This is apparently a format used by Electronic
Arts companies (like Origin and Blizzard). The files contain similar chunk
fourccs except for the video chunk which is denoted by 'pQGT' ('TGQp'
Sample TGQ files]
Deus Ex by Ion Storm, published by Eidos. Most of what I know of this
game comes from Old
Man Murray's "walkthrough" of the game.
I have no idea what to expect in the multimedia department. But if the
game is cheap and used...
There is a Music/ subdirectory which contains a series of .umx files with
a very specific structure. Further, there are 2 large .uax files in a Sounds/
subdirectory with similar structure. A little deeper investigation reveals
that these files are some kind of tracker format, like .mod, .s3m, .xm,
and .it (to name some of the popular ones).
Attempting the game under Wine...the setup seems to go quite smoothly until
it is almost finished and then it bails out with some kind of long assertion.
I can still run the game out of the files that have been installed. After
configuring itself (to use the software 3D renderer), the game refuses to
run since it honestly does not believe that the CD is in the drive.
A 4-disc game published by Westwood Studios that bills itself as "The
First Real Time 3D Adventure". Westwood Studios involvement probably means
VQA multimedia files and MIX resource files. In fact, the first disc even
has a file named vqa1.mix.
Under Wine, the installation works extremely smoothly. The game even starts
and runs without any trouble.
Westwood VQA sample files]
A 1996 3-disc Activision game. This is during a period of time when Activision
was heavy into using Duck's TrueMotion v1 technology and this game is no
exception. There are many 'DUCK' AVI files as well as WAV files which appear
to be used for ambient sound effects. There is also an anim/ directory
with a series of .ats files.
Game installation under Wine went okay, save for the fact that the setup
wallpaper kept blocking out dialog boxes and I had to do KDE desktop tricks
to make the right dialog appear to me. The game refused to run afterwards,
citing DLL incompatibility and color mode incompatibility (Spycraft
wants 16-bit color mode).
Duck TrueMotion v1 sample files]
by Mike Melanson (mike at multimedia.cx).
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