Microcosm

From Sega Retro

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Microcosm title.png

Microcosm MCD JP Title.png

Microcosm
System(s): Sega Mega-CD
Publisher: Psygnosis (US, Europe), Victor Entertainment (Japan)
Developer:
Original system(s): PC
Genre: Shooting[1][2]

















Number of players: 1
Release Date RRP Code
Sega Mega-CD
JP
¥8,800 (9,064)8,800e[3] T-60164
Sega Mega-CD
US
$57.9957.99[5] T-113015
Videogame Rating Council: MA-13
Sega Mega-CD
EU
T-113015-50
Sega Mega-CD
EU
(Small box)
MMCD-1
Sega Mega-CD
DE
DM 119.95119.95[9] T-113015-50
Sega Mega-CD
UK
£44.9944.99[7][8] T-113015-50
Sega Mega-CD
AU
$109.95109.95[10]
Sega Mega-CD
BR
063170
Non-Sega versions

Microcosm (マイクロコズム) is a Sega Mega-CD full-motion video rail shooter game developed by Psygnosis. A port of the developer's 1993 game Microcosm, it was first published in the United States and Europe by Psygnosis themselves in January 1994, and was later brought to Japan the following month by publisher Victor Entertainment.

Story

Set in the year of AD 2051, the game takes place in a dystopian futuristic setting on an alien planet called Bodor, located in the Bator System. The galaxy's two largest conglomerates — Cybertech, considered the more compassionate of the two, and Axiom, thought to be the more oppressive corporation — compete to achieve premier status in the business world, a position known as CORP 1.

Because of heavy mining operations on the planet from the corporations, most of Bodor is uninhabitable due to pollution, forcing 87% of the population onto 2% of the planet's land. Because of this, poverty, crime and disease are rampant in the cities. Axiom also claims that Cybertech is responsible for the death of Axiom's former president.

Axiom injects Cybertech president Tiron Korsby's body with microscopic droids designed to penetrate his brain and control his mind. Cybertech, however, learns of this plan and injects Korsby with their own piloted submarines shrunken down to a microscopic size to destroy Axiom's droids and prevent them from controlling Korsby's mind.

Gameplay

The game is a rail shooter where the player navigates small craft through the human body. The player has control over the ship's horizontal and vertical movements, but movement into the screen along the third axis is dictated by the game. The limitations of the Mega-CD mean a pseudo-3D effect is achieved through full-motion video, with the player's craft and enemies depicted as scaling sprites. The video backgrounds contain collision zones that can block the player's movement or fire, though colliding with terrain does not do damage. While some versions of Microcosm opt for a first-person perspective, the Mega-CD uses a third-person view at all times.

There are multiple vehicles, each employed on different stages: the Spook Series 4 Pod, the Hunter Killer RS-18, and the S2-21 Pressure Suit. Each ship moves with the D-Pad and fires with A. The player can cycle through the available weapons, shown on the bottom of the screen, with B. The ship's primary weapon has endless ammunition, but other weapons have a limited supply that can be increased by collecting power-ups after destroying enemies. Each ship starts with two uses of a special weapon, which is a Smart Bomb for the Pod and the Pressure Suit and a Shield for the Hunter Killer. The special weapon is used with C.

The ship has an energy bar the top of the screen that depletes as it takes damage from enemies. The ship explodes if it runs out of energy, costing the player a life. If the player has an extra life remaining, the stage restarts from the beginning; there are no checkpoints. The player has three lives, and the game ends when the player exhausts them all. The two stages played using the Hunter Killer involve chasing capsules, and the game also ends if the player fails to destroy the capsule before the end of the stage. The player is given a password when the game ends for continuing the game.

Vehicles

Microcosm, Vehicles, Pod.png

Spook Series 4 Pod
Used in Stages 1 and 3. Equipped with the Single Fire, Double Fire, Companion Cannon, Missile, Laser, and Smart Bomb weapons.

Microcosm, Vehicles, Hunter Killer.png

Hunter Killer RS-18
Used in Stages 2 and 4. Equipped with the Single Fire, Double Fire, Triple Fire, Companion Cannon, Laser, Sonic Blast, and Shield weapons.

Microcosm, Vehicles, Pressure Suit.png

S2-21 Pressure Suit
Used in Stages 5 and 6. Equipped with the Single Fire, Double Fire, Triple Fire, Companion Cannon, Laser, Flamer, and Smart Bomb weapons.

Items

Microcosm, Items.png
Double Fire
Gives the player ammunition for the Double Fire weapon.
Microcosm, Items.png
Triple Shot
Gives the player ammunition for the Triple Fire weapon.
Microcosm, Items.png
Companion Cannon
Gives the player ammunition for the Companion Cannon weapon.
Microcosm, Items.png
Laser
Gives the player ammunition for the Laser weapon.
Microcosm, Items.png
Missile
Gives the player ammunition for the Missile weapon (for the Pod).
Microcosm, Items.png
Flamer
Gives the player ammunition for the Flamer weapon (for the Pressure Suit).
Microcosm, Items.png
Shield
Gives the player another use of the Shield ability (for the Hunter Killer).
Microcosm, Items.png
Sonic Blast or Smart Bomb
Gives the player ammunition for the Sonic Blast weapon (for the Hunter Killer) or another use of the Smart Bomb ability (for the Pod and Pressure Suit).
Microcosm, Items.png
Energy
Restores all of the ship's lost energy.

Stages

Microcosm, Stage 1-1.png

Microcosm, Stage 1-2.png

  • Microcosm, Stage 1-1.png

  • Microcosm, Stage 1-2.png

The Cephalic Vein

Microcosm, Stage 2-1.png

Microcosm, Stage 2-2.png

  • Microcosm, Stage 2-1.png

  • Microcosm, Stage 2-2.png

The Left Lung

Microcosm, Stage 3-1.png

Microcosm, Stage 3-2.png

  • Microcosm, Stage 3-1.png

  • Microcosm, Stage 3-2.png

The Superior Vena Cava and the Heart

Microcosm, Stage 4-1.png

Microcosm, Stage 4-2.png

  • Microcosm, Stage 4-1.png

  • Microcosm, Stage 4-2.png

The Carotid Artery

Microcosm, Stage 5-1.png

Microcosm, Stage 5-2.png

  • Microcosm, Stage 5-1.png

  • Microcosm, Stage 5-2.png

The Brain 1

Microcosm, Stage 6-1.png

Microcosm, Stage 6-2.png

  • Microcosm, Stage 6-1.png

  • Microcosm, Stage 6-2.png

The Brain 2

History

Development

Microcosm was first seen in demo form for the CDTV platform in 1991, but soon became an FM Towns title, with development partially funded by Fujitsu prior to the game being ported to other platforms. The full-motion video was rendered using Silicon Graphics Indigo workstations alongside life action footage[11].

Live action footage was recorded at night with an S-VHS recorder, and features members of the team as opposed to paid actors[12]. 2D graphics (and textures) were drawn on Amigas[12].

In total, the game's raw data amassed over 6 GB[13], with image data being stored in 24-bit colour before being compressed for the various platforms[14]. Initial development cost between $600,000 and $750,000 USD[15].

Unlike other Mega-CD titles, Microcosm chooses to limit its full-motion video sequences to 16 colours (a quarter of the 64 available to the system), presumably as a space-saving measure.

Legacy

While Microcosm was considered a financial success, the game is not held in high regard, with even Psygnosis considering it more as an experiment for the CD-ROM format than a good video game[16].

Feedback from Microcosm led to a spiritual successor, Novastorm having a greater focus on gameplay.

Versions

Microcosm was released for a variety of home platforms, including the 3DO, Amiga CD32, FM Towns, and IBM PC. All other versions are able to output higher quality full-motion video than the Mega-CD version, and in many cases, at higher resolutions.

Production credits

  • The Artists: Jim Bowers, Nicky Carus-Westcott, Garvan Corbett, Paul Franklin, John Harris, James McDonald, Rogan MacDonald, James Robinson, Digby Rogers, Louise Smith
  • The Programmers: Gavin Dodd, Paul Frewin, Martin Linklater, Dominic Mallinson, Simon Moore, Stuart Sargasson, Dave Smith, Andrew Toone, David Worrall, Chris Wylie
  • Music Composed, Produced and Performed by: Mike Clarke, Kevin Collier, Phil Morris, Tim Wright, Rick Wakeman
  • Quality Assurance: Jeff Clushaw, Jason Ennion
  • Concept: Neil Thompson, Nik Wild
  • Story: Mark Tsai, Nik Wild
  • Marketing and Publicity: Mark Blewitt, Sue Campbell, Maggie Goodwin, Phil Sandock
  • Manual Text: Richard Browne, Richard Biltcliffe, Mark Tsai, David Worrall
  • D.T.P.-U.K: Keith Hopwood
  • D.T.P.-U.S: Harry Bernard
  • Third Party Liaison: Ian Grieve
  • Guardian Design: Nick Burcombe, Jim Bowers
  • Storyboard: Richard Browne, Neal Sutton
  • Producer: Greg Duddle
  • Project Manager: John White
  • Acknowledgements to: Jonathan Ellis, Ian Hetherington, Jerry Wolosenko
  • Intro Sequence: Jim Bowers, John Harris, Chris Moore
  • Film Crew: Nicky Carus-Westcott, Lee Carus-Westcott, Paul Franklin, Richard Browne, John Harris, Nick Burcombe, Jim Bowers, Andy Toone, Simon Moore, Jeff Bramfitt, Mike Waterworth, Neil Thompson, Louise Smith
  • Ending Sequence: Paul Franklin, Garvan Corbett, Nicky Carus-Westcott
Source:
US manual
Microcosm mcd us manual.pdf
[17]

Magazine articles

Main article: Microcosm/Magazine articles.

Promotional material

Main article: Microcosm/Promotional material.

Physical scans

Sega Retro Average 
Publication Score Source
91 [18]
Sega Mega-CD
91
Based on
1 review
Sega Retro Average 
Publication Version Score
Ação Games (BR)
81
[19]
Beep! MegaDrive (JP) NTSC-J
75
[20]
Consoles + (FR)
83
[21]
Electronic Gaming Monthly (US) NTSC-U
54
[22]
Famitsu (JP) NTSC-J
68
[23]
Game Players (US) NTSC-U
60
[5]
GamesMaster (UK)
56
[24]
Hippon Super (JP) NTSC-J
70
[25]
Hobby Consolas (ES)
40
[26]
Hyper (AU)
83
[27]
Joypad (FR) PAL
83
[28]
Mega (UK) PAL
79
[29]
Mega Action (UK) PAL
89
[30]
Mega Force (FR)
89
[31]
Mega Fun (DE) PAL
65
[32]
MegaTech (UK) PAL
60
[33]
Mean Machines Sega (UK) PAL
60
[6]
Player One (FR)
69
[34]
Sega Magazine (UK) PAL
60
[35]
Sega Power (UK) PAL
69
[36]
Sega Pro (UK) PAL
81
[37]
Sega Zone (UK) PAL
54
[38]
Sega Force (SE)
52
[39]
Sega Saturn Magazine (JP) NTSC-J
75
[40]
Super Juegos (ES)
59
[41]
Video Games (DE) PAL
56
[42]
VideoGames (US) NTSC-U
90
[43]
Sega Mega-CD
69
Based on
27 reviews

Microcosm

Mega-CD, JP
Microcosm MCD JP Box Back.jpgMicrocosm MCD JP Box Front.jpg
Cover
Microcosm MCD JP Spinecard.JPG
Spinecard
Microcosm MCD JP Disc.jpg
Disc
Mega-CD, US
Microcosm MCD US Box Back.jpgMicrocosm MCD US Box Front.jpg
Cover
Microcosm MCD US Disc.jpg
Disc
Microcosm mcd us manual.pdf
Manual
Mega-CD, EU (Big)
Microcosm MCD EU Box Back Big.jpgMicrocosm MCD EU Box Front Big.jpg
Cover
Microcosm MCD EU Disc.jpg
Disc
Mega-CD, UK (Small)
Microcosm MCD EU Box Back.jpgMicrocosm MCD EU Box Front.jpg
Cover
Microcosm MCD EU Disc.jpg
Disc
Microcosm MCD UK Manual.jpg
Manual
Mega-CD, FR (Small)
Microcosm MCD EU Box Back.jpgMicrocosm MCD EU Box Front.jpg
Cover
Microcosm MCD EU Disc.jpg
Disc
Mega-CD, FR (Blister pack)
Microcosm MCD FR blister front.jpg
Cover
Mega-CD, DE (Small)
Microcosm MCD EU Box Back.jpgMicrocosm MCD EU Box Front.jpg
Cover
Microcosm MCD EU Disc.jpg
Disc
Mega-CD, BR
Microcosm MCD BR Box Back.jpgNospine.pngMicrocosm MCD BR Box Front.jpg
Cover

Technical information

ROM dump status

System Hash Size Build Date Source Comments
Sega Mega-CD
 ?
CRC32
MD5
SHA-1
468,948,816 CD-ROM (EU) T-113015-50
Sega Mega-CD
CRC32
MD5
SHA-1
468,948,816 CD-ROM (JP) T-60164
Sega Mega-CD
 ?
CRC32
MD5
SHA-1
468,948,816 CD-ROM (US) T-113015

Track list

Curiously the Mega CD version contains Red Book audio tracks from the PC version along with an extra song from that version, although they are never used in-game instead the game has a module-based soundtrack by Tim Wright

  • Tracks 2-9 are composed by Rick Wakeman.
  • Tracks 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9, are from the PC version.
1. data track (25:55) 
2. The Sun (1:58) 
3. Callhinor (2:08) 
4. Egoniaga (2:03) 
5. Quiggin (3:23) 
6. Bodor (2:18) 
7. Healey-Kae (2:08) 
8. Ouida (2:03) 
9. Kallum koll (2:13) 
Running time: 44:09

References

  1. File:Microcosm MCD JP Box Back.jpg
  2. 2.0 2.1 https://sega.jp/fb/segahard/mcd/soft_licensee.html (Wayback Machine: 2019-06-10 17:56)
  3. Beep! MegaDrive, "February 1994" (JP; 1994-01-08), page 11
  4. Press release: 1994-01-06: PSYGNOSIS INTRODUCES 'INTERACTIVE CINEMA' WITH THE DEBUT OF MICROCOSM
  5. 5.0 5.1 Game Players, "Vol. 7 No. 4 April 1994" (US; 1994-0x-xx), page 69
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Mean Machines Sega, "February 1994" (UK; 1993-12-28), page 81
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Mega, "February 1994" (UK; 1994-01-20), page 27
  8. Mega Power, "December 1993" (UK; 1993-11-18), page 29
  9. Video Games, "9/93" (DE; 1993-08-25), page 43
  10. Megazone, "February 1994" (AU; 1994-01-26), page 34
  11. Edge, "October 1993" (UK; 1993-08-19), page 71
  12. 12.0 12.1 Edge, "October 1993" (UK; 1993-08-19), page 73
  13. Edge, "October 1993" (UK; 1993-08-19), page 72
  14. Edge, "October 1993" (UK; 1993-08-19), page 74
  15. Edge, "October 1993" (UK; 1993-08-19), page 77
  16. Next Generation, "April 1998" (US; 1998-03-17), page 47
  17. File:Microcosm mcd us manual.pdf, page 48
  18. Sega Mega Drive Advanced Gaming, "December 1993" (UK; 1993-xx-xx)
  19. Ação Games, "Março 1994" (BR; 1994-03-01), page 26
  20. Beep! MegaDrive, "March 1994" (JP; 1994-02-08), page 21
  21. Consoles +, "Décembre 1993" (FR; 1993-1x-xx), page 160
  22. Electronic Gaming Monthly, "March 1994" (US; 1994-xx-xx), page 38
  23. Famitsu, "1994-03-04" (JP; 1994-02-18), page 1
  24. GamesMaster, "February 1994" (UK; 1994-01-20), page 79
  25. Hippon Super, "April 1994" (JP; 1994-03-03), page 60
  26. Hobby Consolas, "Junio 1994" (ES; 1994-xx-xx), page 136
  27. Hyper, "February 1994" (AU; 199x-xx-xx), page 54
  28. Joypad, "Février 1994" (FR; 199x-xx-xx), page 94
  29. Mega, "February 1994" (UK; 1994-01-20), page 26
  30. Mega Action, "January 1994" (UK; 1993-12-30), page 38
  31. Mega Force, "Décembre 1993" (FR; 1993-12-10), page 120
  32. Mega Fun, "05/94" (DE; 1994-04-20), page 109
  33. MegaTech, "January 1994" (UK; 1993-12-21), page 60
  34. Player One, "Janvier 1994" (FR; 199x-xx-xx), page 122
  35. Sega Magazine, "February 1994" (UK; 1994-01-10), page 109
  36. Sega Power, "February 1994" (UK; 1994-01-06), page 50
  37. Sega Pro, "Xmas Special 1993" (UK; 1993-12-02), page 34
  38. Sega Zone, "February 1994" (UK; 1994-01-27), page 42
  39. Sega Force, "6/94" (SE; 1994-09-14), page 30
  40. Sega Saturn Magazine, "September 1995" (JP; 1995-08-08), page 85
  41. Super Juegos, "Abril 1994" (ES; 1994-0x-xx), page 116
  42. Video Games, "5/94" (DE; 1994-04-27), page 91
  43. VideoGames, "April 1994" (US; 1994-0x-xx), page 82


Microcosm

Microcosm title.png

Main page | Comparisons | Magazine articles | Video coverage | Reception | Promotional material


Sega Mega-CD
Demos: Microcosm Demo CD (1993)

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