Kevin Costner’s Waterworld is a strange old film. The biggest budget in cinematic history at the time (1995), it was met with a weird reaction.
The same goes for various Waterworld video games that were squirted out as cash grabs. Most notably the bizarre Virtual Boy title. Behold!
Waterworld’s Blood Red Trip Into VR
Nintendo’s failed headset device spawned a few good games. Virtual Boy Wario Land is one example, a title few people have played.
Same goes for Waterworld! As far as we’re aware, no Virtual Boy titles have made it onto any other console.
And that’s probably for the best with this one, as Waterworld VR has gained a reputation for being terrible. Some hail it as the worst game of all time.
British developer Ocean handled the development, handing the project to its American studio.
Apt, at least. What with oceans being a big part of Waterworld and all that. And Ocean had a habit of film to game adaptions, having managed the curious Jurassic Park on the SNES.
But with this effort it’s an utterly shameless and clearly rushed cash-in on the movie. The incredibly basic nature of the game is baffling.
You take control of the Mariner’s trimaran. That’s the Mariner, Costner’s character in the film.
You then guide the ship around a 3D, open environment. The goal is to gun down enemies—the Smokers. That’s it. That’s the game. Every single level is like that.
And keep in mind to play the game, you’d have to jam your head into the headset’s eye socket areas. Like this.
Yes, as other critics have pointed out a glaring problem with the water aspect of this game was the headset’s colour capacity. Either red or black.
A similar limitation didn’t hold back the Game Boy from having great games, but for the VB it was often something of a disaster.
Especially for any title wanting a realistic water effect. Ocean chose black. For sure, it was a better choice than red.
But a major issue is the Virtual Boy would give players a headache after even brief periods of use.
A warning was was even stamped on the side of the headset’s box about that. Not Nintendo’s finest moment, we must say.
And certainly not Ocean’s finest effort.
Although they did get a decent bit of music into the game, a piece that reminds many people of Aquatic Ambiance from Donkey Kong Country (1994).
Considering that’s the only piece of music in the whole of the game (other than the title screen), it’s just as well it’s not that bad.
But the game is bad. It’s so very, very boring due to its staggering lack of variety.
Given the Virtual Boy’s total lack of success, it does come with the benefit of few people ever having to play the bloody thing.
Waterworld’s Other Video Game Cash Grabs
Yes! Why, of course, Waterworld got a massive batch of other releases. DMA Design handled the SNES version.
Yes, that’s DMA Design who did Space Station Silicon Valley (1998) and went on to dominate the world with the Grand Theft Auto series.
The SNES one is also supposed to be awful. Hurray!
Although it was planned for release in North America in time for Christmas 1995, it never did launch. Instead, the PAL versions spread across Europe.
A port of this was planned for the Mega Drive (Sega Genesis) by Data Design Interactive, but this project fell through.
However, the game was finished. And it was leaked online a few years back.
Then there’s the Game Boy version by PAM Development. This thing also only received a European release.
Thankfully, some of Waterworld’s Game Boy levels do take place on land. But you can tell a lot of developers really struggled for a decent idea with the film licence.
However, one studio did try something half decent.
After Interplay Entertainment also got the rights, it handed the project to London-based Intelligent Games.
The result was a real-time strategy game, with dollops of FMV and all sorts of shenanigans thrown into the mix. It launched on MS-DOS and PC.
The problem with this one? It didn’t launch until 1997, two years after the film.
By that point Waterworld hype had kind of sailed off into the distance somewhat. But better late than never, we suppose.
On a final note, Jaguar and 3DO versions were also planned.
Man alive, those developers wanted to milk that cash cow! On both consoles (by Atari and Phillips, respectively), the projects fell through.
Well, that’s probably for the best. As Alan Partridge would say, “Water way to have a good time.”