Weird FMV Games


Oliver Barnfield, Cool Guy/Entertainment Editor

Today we will be taking a dive into the wacky world of FMV games. FMV was a craze in the video industry of the 90s, and these were real games interspersed with live action video footage. FMV stands for Full Motion Video, by the way. These games were cheesy as a cheddar sandwich, and the footage had to compressed into grainy video. This was the only way they could be displayed on the game consoles of the time. Because video games were still relatively new, they couldn’t afford professional actors and the segments were for the most part very low budget, but a lot of the set design in the video segments are surprisingly good. A lot of good sets, creature designs, and atmospheres are in these games, but still, a great many are incredibly cheesy and the gameplay is often pretty bland.

Perhaps the most famous of these games was Night Trap, a controversial game that started the ESRB rating system that we have today. But today we’ll look at the weirdest FMV games ever released, not counting Night Trap.

Psychic Detective- A strange, but nonetheless atmospheric FMV title that has a pretty lame ending. It’s pretty good at establishing an intriguing story but as with most FMV games,it has bad gameplay. There are several weird and psychedelic video effects that are pretty funny, and there’s plenty of awful performances. The game has some interesting concepts present, but it’s not entirely clear what’s happening, which is a shame, as its an intriguing idea.

Sewer Shark- One of the more notable FMV games is this dud for the Sega CD. A boring and repetitive shooter game, perhaps the worst part is the dreadful music, it’s incredibly grating. Really not much to see here.

Who Killed Johnny Rock?- A 1930’s set murder mystery. Most of the fun in this game comes from shooting random bystanders and when they die in a cheesy way. They all die exceedingly over-dramatic deaths when shot, and it’s such a joy to watch.

Bad Milk- Truly one of the weirdest games I’ve ever seen or heard of. Bad Milk is a very weird, experimental, pretentious game with several FMV sequences. The plot is very confusing and hard to describe, with it loosely involving a cup of expired milk. I honestly can’t tell you the plotline of this game, it’s so convoluted and is almost nonexistent. Watch it for yourself if you’re interested, it’s certainly a Trip and is something to behold indeed.

Ground Zero Texas- I saw an in box copy of this game at my favorite game store, and was intrigued. Of course, I didn’t buy it (I don’t have a Sega CD) but I was nonetheless drawn in by its interesting cover. I’m a sucker for Apocalypse stuff, and at that moment I almost considered buying a Sega CD just to play it. But did it live up to my initial impressions? Well, it’s a little more in depth than other FMV games, and did have a significantly more professional crew working on it. The gameplay is sort of shallow, but luckily it has a more interesting plotline than the rest. Of course, a lot of the acting is Z-Grade, but it’s one of the more quality FMV titles for the Sega CD.

Supreme Warrior- A gang of kung fu warriors ravage your town and only you can stop them with your awkwardly photoshopped in hands at the bottom of the screen. Fighting is an absolute MESS in this game, it’s incredibly hard to punch or attack because not only do your enemies movie too fast, but also the controls are incredibly stiff, confusing and imprecise. But at least the Kung Fu warriors are cool.

Corpse Killer- A fantastically corny game in which you kill corpses. I mean, they’re already dead, so….Anyway, this game has you shooting at really high jumping zombies, and you’re aided by a borderline offensive Jamaican stereotype. The gameplay is a predictable on rails shooter, but it’s always fun seeing those zombies jumping incredibly high in the air.

FMV games were a brief craze in the 90s. Most of these games being found on the 3DO, Sega CD, and 32X. These game eventually fell out of fashion, though, as people got over the cool visuals and realized that these were nothing more than shallow, uninteresting cheese fests. The video footage was super compressed and grainy on the screen, and the audio was often muddy. The primary producer of FMV games, Digital Pictures, went out of business in the late 90s. Their last game, Maximum Surge, was unfinished, however. So, they re-purposed the footage to create an incredibly bad direct to DVD film called Game Over. It was their last original effort.

FMV games are very interesting to me. Yes, they’re usually not very fun, but something about the cheesiness of it all just makes me smile. They have a certain allure to me that’s hard to explain adequately. I enjoy these games for being different and weird, but sadly they are mostly forgotten today. I hope someday we will all grow to cherish this weird and cheesy video game gems.