The Waterworld Movie
I was always fascinated with the movie Waterworld. Even though it received mixed reviews upon release, I thought the world design was magnificent. It was essentially Mad Max with boats. The movie sets and vehicles always amazed me in how detailed and authentic they appeared. Everything looked like it was ripped from a distant, but possible, apocalyptic future. The setting of open ocean was also a key component in why I liked the movie. It creates such an eerie and hopeless feeling, an important aspect in a movie about an apocalypse. Waterworld faired poorly at the box office. The cost of production came to around $175 million, but sadly, the movie only brought in $88 million domestically; although, it redeemed itself slightly with $176 million profits from foreign viewings. However, keep in mind, these numbers do not figure in the high cost of advertising. In the end, the movie was generally considered a flop.
The plot of Waterworld was pretty simple. Earth was covered with water due to the melting of the polar ice caps. Everyone lives on large floating villages called atolls, and they use boats for transportation. The main protagonist is “The Mariner,” played by Kevin Costner. The Mariner is essentially part fish with gills and webbed feet. He can swim underwater at incredible speeds and stay submerged for long periods of time. The film’s antagonists come in the form of the Smokers gang. The Smokers are essentially the bandits of the sea, pillaging with superior numbers and firepower. During the movie, Mariner is saved by Helen, a woman living on one of the atolls. It turns out Helen is taking care of a girl, Enola, who has a map on her back, leading to the last above water landmass on earth. The Smokers know about Enola and want her. With the help of others, Mariner defeats the Smokers and is able to find the landmass which turns out to be Mount Everest—pretty standard stuff.
The Waterworld Game
Many movies during this era received videogame adaptations. So unsurprisingly, Waterworld was accompanied by a SNES game made by OCEAN, released five months after the movie’s premier. Like its counterpart, the game had pretty poor reviews, but I think it was a decent game, considering the abomination that many movies and franchise tie-ins were on the SNES.
Diving in Waterworld
Waterworld’s gameplay boils down to four major sections: diving, boating, atoll clearing, and shopping. In the diving section, the player dives down as the Mariner into the murky depths of the now water-covered world. The player must dodge eels and sting rays while keeping an eye on their oxygen gauge. The goal of this swim is to discover loot from earth’s lost civilization. This loot consists of lightbulbs, gears, skulls, and above all, soil. Soil is considered the most valuable resource in both the movie and the game. It is located at the bottom of the map and is something the player should always strive to obtain. This loot equates to credits that are used later in the shopping section.
Boating in Waterworld
In the boating section, the player uses The Mariner’s trimaran, a large sailboat armed with a slow-firing gun, to defend the large village like structures known as atolls from the Smokers. The Smokers endeavor to enter the atolls and capture residents through the use of boats, jet skis, and ramps. The player must destroy the kidnappers’ boats while also saving the kidnapped. This part plays like an average top-down shooter. The player can improve the trimaran through upgrades bought at the shop. This section can be quite monotonous. The player can see only a small window of the world, and the boats spawn only a few at a time, leaving the player at the edge of the map waiting for boats to spawn, and possibly taking damage from an offscreen enemy in the process. When all the boats are destroyed, the player is given credits based on how many atoll residents were not kidnapped or who were saved.
Atoll Clearing in Waterworld
The third section of the game is atoll clearing. Here the player platforms in a side-scroller fashion, clearing out an atoll of Smoker’s. At the start, the player is only armed with a machete to exterminate the enemy, but by locating various weapons along the way, he can safely kill the Smokers at range. The problem is that most of the platforms and enemies are not visible at any range farther than a yardstick. It makes leaps of faith and blind firing inevitable.
Shopping in Waterworld
The fourth section is the shop. The shop allows the player to repair the trimaran and buy upgrades for it. Such upgrades include a fast-firing gatling gun, harpoons, and mines among others. Though, the single best upgrade is the uzi. The uzi allows the trimaran to fire much faster without being a single use item. The uzi is always a first buy must.
These four sections are reused throughout the game with slight variation in background art and level design. If the game was solely only one of these sections, it would be a complete garbage game. However, the combination provides a decent amount of variation, and the game is not too long or too difficult to complete. There is a boss fight against Deacon (the head of the Smokers gang) at the end of the game, but it is incredibly minor and extremely easy.
Graphically, Waterworld is just ok. Some areas are generic, lacking sufficient detail. The boating area is the least visually appealing part of the game. It’s essentially a water texture with a few buildings and enemies scattered throughout. However, whenever an enemy dies they create a large explosive fireball which is quite satisfying. I found revisiting this game moderately enjoyable. Though simple, Waterworld’s gameplay is fun. It is not really flashy or innovative, but it sticks to the theme of the movie well.
Surprisingly, the best attribute Waterworld on SNES has to be its music. Dean Evans did an incredible job on the soundtrack. It is definitely in my top 5 favorite SNES game soundtracks. Even if you do not plan on playing Waterworld, check out its soundtrack. Below is the soundtrack from the composer’s YouTube channel. Overall, Waterworld on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System is a solid movie game. I rate it a solid 7/10. I especially recommend it to retrogamers who enjoyed watching the movie.
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