Back in the heated Super NES vs. Sega Genesis battle, circa 1994, Sega piled on the full-motion video games. One of their attempts at this genre was Tomcat Alley, a Top Gun-esque shooter that featured movie clips and required quick timing of the "A" button. The game tries to make you feel that you an integral part of a US counter air strike, and for what it is it works.
The game does an excellent job of making the player feel like they are really Dakota's (the protagonist) gunner. During full-motion video briefing scenes he refers to you as "kid," making you feel like a recent Air Force graduate just itching to test out the Maverick Missiles. As the gunner, your duties include, in addition to the obvious setting "waypoints"(destinations) deciding which MiGs(enemy planes), to engage in and what order, missile selection, using a shaft for evasive purposes and responding to the radio for communication purposes. The player is essentially playing an interactive F14 Tomcat movie. The player is shown a heads up display (HUD) with all of their current options. You select the icon with the B button while moving a cursor with the d-pad. During a dog fight you job is to get a lock on the enemy plane. It turns red and you push the A button and you are treated to a brilliant cut-scene.
Sega's supporting characters Buzz and Ratchet do an excellent job of creating an Air Force military atmosphere by using a lot of the lingo (the type you might see in a big budget Hollywood movie). And the usual "bogey on my six" creates a sense of urgency to the point of fear in order to get the player to counteract. The explosions of the planes look very realistic and the sound effects are first class in spite of the grainy picture resolution. It's so satisfying watching the planes explode from all the random FMV scenes. You'll want to see it again and again and again for your enjoyment or a friend or a family member. Better yet, Tomcat Alley's full-motion video takes up the entire television display, which is in stark contrast to most of the other CD-ROM games released around the same time.
The game has quite a bit of variety as well, not only do you get the standard dogfights, but there are also a few bombing missions to complete. The bombs need precision placement, which might discourage some from persevering. The players who tough it out will enjoy a deep satisfaction of a "Mission Accomplished." There are seven missions and this hybrid style is something that Ace Combat and Crimson Skies could never have. This game is short and sweet, yet brilliant and innovative even by today's standards. If you own a Sega CD and have never experienced Tomcat Alley, then take my advice and check this game out. While it's certainly not the deepest game on the system, Tomcat Alley does show that not all full-motion video is bad.