Body Harvest: Obscure N64 Cult Classic From DMA Design

Body Harvest on the Nintendo 64
“I like to move it move it, I like to… move it!”

Here’s another one of DMA Design’s (yes, that lot now called Rockstar who make Grand Theft Auto) efforts on the Nintendo 64. Released in 1998, it’s an awful looking but rather enjoyable and inventive action-adventure games. Hurray? No. Harvest!

Body Harvest

Right, so we had an odd history with this one. We saw the strong review in our highly respected N64 Magazine and duly got the game and tried it.

And we didn’t much like it so sold it. Then six months later wanted to give it another go. And so did. Our verdict?

Body Harvest is a strange game. An obscure title from the Nintendo 64‘s library, it was in keeping with the developer’s focus of innovative concepts in that era. We covered Space Station Silicon Valley recently – it’s also quirky.

You star as a genetically engineered soldier – Adam Drake. He exists to take on an alien invasion that occurs on Earth once every 25 years.

The aliens – giant insect-like creatures – harvest humans as organic material for their home planet.

Drake can time travel (like most of us can) and he returns to different eras in the past to stop the alien invasions.

You start the game in Greece around the WWI era. And your job is to, basically, blow the living crap out of any aliens you come across.

Various publications at the time pointed out how bad the game looks. The developers clearly had to sacrifice graphics in favour of delivering a game with huge scope.

The main part of Body Harvest is the sheer number of vehicles you get to drive. There are a lot of them, which ensures a huge amount of variety.

It’s a big game, too, and one that offers a lot of challenge. Although it’s showing its age a great deal now, there’s still a fun space shooter here.

The unsettling concept of aliens harvesting humans isn’t exactly unique (War of the Worlds, anyone?) and the game isn’t anywhere near as clever as Silicon Valley.

But it’s still good fun as an old-school blaster. There’s a fancy soundtrack to make up for the pretty terrible graphics, plus the size of the alien-zapping experience makes it something of a flawed gem.

A Body Of Problems

For late 1998, at the time of its release, Body Harvest was an ambitious effort. But it also launched almost at the same time as Nintendo’s landmark The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.

That must have contributed to Body Harvest’s commercial failure. Despite good reviews, it just couldn’t match one of the most hyped games in history.

It was a bitter result for DMA Design who went through a nightmare time of it with the project. It began in 1995 and was announced along with 12 other games when the Nintendo 64 was unveiled.

Over a tumultous production, it staggered out into the market almost in time for 1999.

Interestingly, in 1997 DMA’s head of design David Jones confessed he found working with Nintendo difficult. Dealing with the Japanese behemoth’s genius was clearly draining for the team.

"We just have to listen to them because we're not as good as they are. Nobody in the world is as good as they are, so we'd be daft to try and say, 'We think you're wrong.' So we just have to work with them, and we implement everything that they ask for."

Of course, the studio went on to create the legendary Grand Theft Auto series, with GTA V seen as one of the greatest games of all time.

Perseverance did it for DMA (along with a company name change), indicating the progress it made and the hard work that went on following the disappointing sales of Body Harvest.

2 comments

  1. Nice article. It’s always nice reading about Body Harvest while waiting for the remake. One of the things Nintendo asked DMA to implement was walking speed indoors, which is still present in GTA 5. They said they learned a lot from them. One of my biggest gaming accomplishments is finally completing Body Harvest with zero casaulties and zero harvests. Another is getting all 100 stars in their brilliant action horror Manhunt.

    Liked by 1 person

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