In this special series on the Pioneer LaserActive, guest author Taylor Pinson will be discussing some of the games released on the Sega PAC, an add-on for the LaserActive that could play Genesis, Sega CD, and Mega LD titles.
DEVELOPER: CRC Research
RELEASE DATE: 12/20/93 – (JP), 05/26/94 – (US)
Hi-Roller Battle is strongly reminiscent of Cobra Command on the Sega CD. Both use extensive FMV footage and both have you (sort of) controlling an elite attack helicopter. Instead of fighting a vaguely defined terrorist organization like in Cobra Command, however, you’re tasked with thwarting the military aims of a small island-based country in Asia named “J-Land” (I wonder where that’s supposed to be?).
Like Pyramid Patrol, Hi-Roller Battle uses FMV footage of blocky 3D terrain and vehicles to give the illusion of depth. This amounts to you moving a cursor around the screen and shooting what baddies the game permits you to interact with.
Hi-Roller Battle is slow-paced and dull, due to the monotonous gameplay. Each level is populated with enemy helicopters flying around the game’s FMV backgrounds (as well as a few fast-moving sprite-based ones generated by the Sega PAC), and unless they have a targeting reticule over them, you can’t hurt them. Even when you have the helicopters in your line of sight, you still may not be able to destroy them, thanks to the questionable hit detection.
Your arsenal consists of a machine gun and several kinds of missiles that all seem to fire and act the same. I mostly stuck with the machine gun since the missiles were usually too slow to hit a target before it disappeared. Poor weaponry, combined with the slow cursor and the large amount of damage it takes to kill enemies, makes much of the damage you receive from enemy fire unavoidable.
Hi-Roller Battle also has mission briefings voiced by a guy that sounds like Spottswoode from “Team America.” The briefings are meant to enhance the story, but since every level amounts to “shoot helicopters” anyway, they’re pointless – save for the unintentionally amusing voice actor.
Hi-Roller Battle takes what should be a cool concept – blowing stuff up in a flying death-dealing monster – and turns it into a low-energy slog. If you want a more rewarding FMV shoot-em-up, go play Cobra Command on the Sega CD.