D/Generation was an action adventure game first released back in 1991 on multiple platforms, including the Amiga. Now, West Coast Software have given D/Generation a HD makeover and overall upgrade whilst trying to preserve the original feel. Gaming has changed an awful lot in the last twenty plus years and so this seems like a risk to be able to cater to the modern gamer who’ll be used to completely different styles. Has the risk paid off for D/Generation HD?
That all depends on your gaming pain threshold…
The story begins in a Parisian apartment where your character, a courier, receives an urgent phone call from someone who requires his services. A special package needs to be delivered to a leading scientist, Derrida, at the London headquarters of Genoq. After arriving via jetpack at the roof entrance to the 80th floor, the courier realises that illegal bio-weapons have broken out, thus the task of being able to reach Derrida will rely on having him somehow safely navigating his way up a few floors.
This is where you step in, guiding this unnamed delivery man around various rooms, finding the way to Derrida and handing over the package. These aren’t just ordinary rooms though; they are littered with problems to overcome, enemies to avoid and most importantly, cowering Genoq employees in need of saving.
Given the game’s isometric camera viewpoint, the areas can be assessed before making a move towards any kind of exit or doorway. Early on you can expect to be avoiding rotating turrets which have a look of sharp toothed evil worm creatures and these are subdued simply enough by finding a switch to deactivate them. As you progress though, some of the threats end up being moving entities that are actually bio-weapons on the loose, with each reacting, attacking and being visually represented differently. If that’s not enough to worry about, then remember you’re just a courier without any form of weaponry protection at the beginning and that seemed to be the way it was meant to be.
This brings me to the first major issue with D/Generation HD. After I had struggled through to the next floor of the building using just a single bomb I had found, it was only when that stopped restocking itself in the inventory that things became apparent; progressing further was actually impossible without having a weapon to destroy the A/Generation enemy type. Having restarted the game entirely – not for the first time – it was extremely baffling as to how I’d get any further.
Had a room been unexplored? Nope. Maybe the game was glitched or bugged somehow? No it wasn’t, not this part. Was it the all important laser gun hidden away in a part of a room that wouldn’t be explored except by pure fluke and equally couldn’t be seen because of the camera view? Yes of course it bloody was. And even then I only found it due to some swift research, but boy did it make for a completely new experience. The laser itself can be fired to clear the rooms of enemies and to activate switches from awkward angles that may be necessary to trigger in order to escape an area.
With all the potential dangers lurking about, some of which even the gun is ineffective against, you’ll quite easily burn through the lives and end up cast all the way back to the start. Fortunately, helping the employees survive can grant additional lives and the talkative ones will offer more insight into the story. These people are easily killed though, sometimes accidently by your own hand and considering the amount of times they wouldn’t talk nor move as they should, it turned out they were more hassle than they were worth. Not being able to talk to them was a real problem though especially when one holds vital information for progressing. Most people would’ve given up at the third time of restarting… not me though due to the fact I appreciated the ideas and layouts within.
The further you get, the more obstacles of a trickier nature that end up in your way. With four different Neogen enemy types from A to D, these are the biggest threats to this poor courier’s life but it’s pretty straightforward to learn their attack methods and approach them accordingly. Design-wise, having only been able to go toe to toe with half the Neogens, I can’t say they are anything spectacular as they range from a simple bouncing spherical creature to a bog standard cylinder.
The fact that D/Generation HD doesn’t offer any form of tutorial just adds to the frustrations throughout, culminating in occasions where you aren’t sure if you’re encountering a bug or you’re just missing some item which is hard to see. Controls lack common sense with the X button instigating conversations whilst the A button shoots the laser gun and the movement is severely hampered by a lack of accuracy, often making it difficult to shoot in the right direction.
D/Generation HD was probably an exciting concept back in the 90s, but a lack of any real story other than a couple of text dialogues makes this just a series of rooms and floors to escape from. The HD upgrade is a massive step up compared to how it used to look however, it’s more late 90s visuals instead and so is still outdated. It was slightly enjoyable securing the rooms and rescuing survivors, even if I had to save the game a lot for a spot of trial and error.
After numerous restarts, plenty of bugs and lots of deaths, D/Generation HD became a real chore that forced me to save and reload far too often. I couldn’t enjoy it for fear of missing something or coming up against a bug that would lead to me being unable to get any further.
The sheer price originally put on its head by West Coast Software was actually laughable at £19.99 and they’ve seen sense to lower it to £10.39 since. There’s no way I can recommend it though with the bugs currently ruining the experience and unless it gets patched you should steer clear.
I’ve taken the pain so you don’t have to!