We are once again beset by the fiendish foibles of the full-motion video genre. After playing so many of these types of games I am beginning to see why the industry, at least the less-profitable CD systems of the 1990s, thought that the all live-action games were going to leave a substantial mark. I'm not saying that I'm enjoying these kinds of games any more than I was in reviews past, but I feel that we have overcome our initial impasse and reached an understanding; I accept their position in the family Defunct and how that position came to fruition, and they realize that my game collection extends to higher-quality titles and understand why I rarely come a callin'. Wirehead employs a trial-by-error style that may have looked good on paper (definitely not good in video form), but leaves little room for a genuinely exploratory world; not to mention containing a very limited amount of replay value as a result.
Wirehead is a pretty standard FMV title, wherein the objective is to press the appropriate button at the right time to keep the story progressing. For some reason, the father of a typical suburban household has undergone a surgery in which a crazy scientist has inserted a remote relay in his brain, giving said scientist the power to control him. And, for more reasons unknown, the FBI takes the scientist prisoner and then goes after his guinea pig. By taking control of the remote, it is your responsibility to keep our dashing daddy out of harm's way and constantly in the thick of wacky, nonsensical scenarios.
Rather than taking the approach of a game like Revenge of the Ninja, where you must press a single button at the right time, Wirehead gives you between two and four different options every time the pressing of a button is required. Using the four D-pad buttons, you must choose the correct path, which is not as engaging as it may sound; for every four choices, three are incorrect, turning this into little more than a memorization game. If you want to successfully complete this game, it is almost necessary to keep a piece of paper at the ready to write the correct choice down, as there are many occasions to choose a direction, and a limited number of tries before the game fails you and starts over.
Not that this game is without a certain degree of charm. The experience is very much akin to every Disney Channel Original Movie you've ever seen, which definitely works in its favor. It would've been a shame for the creators to try and steer a premise like this into more serious waters. Our intrepid father engages in everything from launching off of ramps while skateboarding into moving cars, leaping out of airplanes using inflatable rafts as parachutes, and generally jumping and falling and flying into the air for no real reason. All the pratfalls in the world can only carry a game so far, though. It's impossible to neglect the extremely grainy video; the far too quiet sound, the sometimes unresponsive controls, and, again, the memorization factor. This leaves you with a quirky experience that wears thin after about ten minutes. If you can find it for five dollars of less, it isn't a bad investment; just don't expect to still be playing it a month later.