It's easy to love Vice: Project Doom. This is an incredible action game that combines the best elements from Ninja Gaiden, Operation Wolf and Spy Hunter. It's a game with a rich narrative, well developed characters and a story that gets stranger and stranger as you go along. With its perfect gameplay and unique levels, Vice: Project Doom is a game you can easily fall in love with. There's just one problem, I absolutely detest the name.
Perhaps I shouldn't be so judgmental, but there's something about this game's title that turns me off. I can't decide which is worse, the "Project Doom" subtitle or the fact that the game's name is actually "Vice". And what did they need a subtitle for anyway? It's not like Sammy followed this masterpiece up with a sequel. I don't remember playing Vice: Operation Quake. Thankfully I was able to overlook the crummy name, because Vice truly is one of the greatest hidden gems on the Nintendo Entertainment System.
You play Quinn Hart, a Vice Officer tasked with the mission of saving the world from a small band of aliens who are cloning themselves and spreading some sort of neon green gel. Along the way you'll run into interesting people, unravel the mystery and dig deep into the trenches of hell. All this is told through more than a dozen cinemas, many of which are awfully remenicent of Tecmo's classic Ninja Gaiden.
Even more interesting, the Ninja Gaiden comparison doesn't stop there. Vice: Project Doom is made up of three disparate game modes intertwined into one exciting action game. The most common game type is the 2D platformer, which mimics Ninja Gaiden to a tee. You have a choice of three different weapons, two that are long range and a sword-like weapon. You run through these levels battling similar looking bad guys and taking on bosses.
When you're not playing a Ninja Gaiden-style action game, you're driving through the streets in what can only be called a gigantic Spy Hunter rip-off. Oh sure, Vice: Project Doom mixes things up by giving you futuristic vehicles and backgrounds, but at its core it's nothing more than Spy Hunter.
The third and final game type is a faux-3D shooter, along the lines of Data East's Operation Wolf. Instead of controlling a character or a car, you're moving a cursor around the screen shooting at anything that gets near.
While none of these game types are especially original, they all come together to make a compelling product that is unlike anything else on the system. It may be a little jarring to go from a fast-action driving scene to a 2D platformer, but it keeps the game fresh and made me curious to see what was next.
I was also intrigued by the game's purposely confusing storyline. Vice: Project Doom definitely sets up a larger story, but at the same time it manages to neatly wrap up the threads in this outing. The game's cinemas are straight out of Ninja Gaiden, in both style and tone. There are shots you would swear you saw in one of Tecmo's three games, only here it's with a different cast of characters with a different motive. Vice: Project Doom certainly seems to know what made Ninja Gaiden so successful - fantastic gameplay mixed with a strong narrative.
These days Vice: Project Doom is all but forgotten by most gamers. Heck, even Sega (the game's license holder) can't remember this game. But don't let that stop you from hunting down one of the very best 8-bit games. With it's fantastic story and easy controls, Vice: Project Doom is a must-own. It may sound like a strange mixture of game modes, but you owe it to yourself to play this amazing action game.