In the early 90s, the original Universal monsters that terrified movie audiences in the 30s saw a resurgence in popularity. This trend started when the legendary director Francis Ford Coppola did his take on Bram Stoker's Dracula, the one with Commissioner Gordon playing the Count. (Yes, I know who Gary Oldman is.) While it can be debated whether that film was better or worse than the Bela Lugosi film, there's no denying that the movie was amazing; not even Keanu Reeves could sink it. Naturally, after that success, the next logical step was to re-adapt Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. The movie which was directed by Sir Kenneth Branagh and starred Robert DeNiro as the reanimated monster was just okay. Like with Dracula, Frankenstein got promotional tie-in games. Also like before, the tie-in games sucked.
Mary Shelley's Frankenstein saw releases on the Genesis and Super Nintendo which were just good looking platformers that didn't play worth a crap. However, the Sega CD version was entirely different. Instead of another cash-in platformer, the Sega CD game was actually the strangest genre combination I had ever seen in my life. This game was part point-and-click adventure and part fighting game. Did you just burst out laughing? I know I did. The plot follows the movie with some liberties though at least Sony had the good idea to avoid using badly pixelated and unwatchable clips of the movie; I guess they learned their lesson after the Sega CD version of Dracula. The aesthetics are actually quite impressive for the time. The backdrops are very detailed, the item zoom-ins are impressive, and the animations are very fluid in both the adventure and fighting segments. I did giggle a bit when I saw the lumbering monster suddenly become as nimble as Jackie Chan for the fighting parts. None of the music is taken from the movie, but it's still fantastic, building the perfect creepy atmosphere.
The moment I started playing was the moment my enthusiasm sank like the little girl the monster threw in the lake. The adventure segments are plagued with puzzles that lack clear solutions. I found myself having to look up online walkthroughs almost constantly. As for the fighting segments, they controlled about as well as Shaq Fu and were just as hideously unbalanced. There are ways to get around most of the fights, but they're not clear to anyone not following a walkthrough. All the while, you have one life bar for the game. If you lose half your life bar from a trap in the adventure part before a fight, you go into the fight with just half a life bar. Finally, unless you look it up, you will never realize that you have to press B and C together to save your game. Why not just have that in the pause menu?!?
Mary Shelley's Frankenstein on the Sega CD looks like a model; Psygnosis always knew how to squeeze every last drop out of a piece of hardware. However, it acts like a warmed-over corpse. I got a few chuckles out of how ridiculous its genre mash-up was, but there was no denying that I wasn't having fun playing it. While not as much of an abomination as the other versions, this is still a beast that needs to be put back in the grave.