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Full-Motion Vision Quest: Wirehead review

please help this baby man

Polygon managing editor Justin McElroy is a profoundly broken person who thought it would be a good idea to review every FMV game. This is his Full Motion Vision Quest. Further examples of his depravity can be found here.

YEAR: 1995

DEVELOPER: The Code Monkeys, MGM Interactive


Whenever I am asked about my "favorite" FMV game, I tend to answer Wirehead, one of the last Sega CD games ever released.

I put "favorite" in quotes because I'm a professional game expert and can't have my words twisted to make it look as though I think any FMV game is, traditionally speaking, good. But Wirehead is, for lack of a better term, pure.

Wirehead brilliantly/fiendishly takes the formula that worked for Dragon's Lair (which basically invented the semi-interactive game) and repurposes it for full-motion video. Our hero gets into a sticky situation and the player must press one of a few different directions that sorta, kinda, but not really correspond to something on the screen and then he dies or (sometimes) doesn't. No real "video game" elements to get in the way here — just pure, unflitered guessing.

Where Wirehead deviates from Dirk's adventures is that rather than a brave knight trying to rescue a princess, you play a guy named Ned who looks like he's been airlifted in from every workplace safety training video ever made.

Poor Ned.

See, Ned was in some sort of "accident" and, as a result, had his synapses reconstructed by a helpful scientist named Dr. Oja. Inexplicably, Oja wired poor Ned so that he could be manipulated with a remote control. When corporate thugs come to claim the technology, who does the brilliant scientist trust with the remote? Why, you, of course. A total stranger.

The baffling thing about dear Ned is that while he does appear to still have control over his faculties while not being steered, he will still refuse to remove himself from danger, choosing instead to stand there and be killed ad infinitum like a helpless baby man. Ned is apparently so emotionally devastated by this neurological hijacking he has chosen to surrender himself to the abyss and tumble, crash test dummy-like, through whatever obstacles life puts in his way.

Above are a few minutes of Wirehead in which Ned is almost seduced before breaking the stranger's spell by falling out of a plane, barely surviving raging rapids, clinging to a log like a frightened child and almost getting killed by a bear.

To be clear, this is what it looks like when you're winning as Ned:


Poor Ned. It's especially bizarre considering that Ned managed to raise a son so Charles Bronson-esque that he kicks a thug in the shin so hard that he knocks him unconscious and kills his partner.


I'm just gonna assume Ned is married to Ellen Ripley, it's the only thing that makes sense.

Since the "right" path is almost never indicated in any way, Wirehead is infuriatingly trial-and-error. It also provides a limited number of screw-ups before you have to start the whole damn thing over again. So it basically demands several playthroughs to get to the end.

... Or you can leap 19 years into the future, tell the past to "suck it" and copy this from IGN.

L, R, R, L, L, R, U (rapidly) R, R, U, R, D, L, R, R, U, L, L, R, U, U, L, U, L, R, L, R, L, L, R, L, R, R, L, U, L, R, R, R, L, R, R, R, L, L, R, L, L, R, L, L, R, R, R, L, R, U, L, L, R, U, A, B, A

A game where the walkthrough can be communicated in a single paragraph? That's about as good as FMV gets, my friends. Drink it in.

WHAT SHOULD YOU DO WITH YOUR COPY?: Well, you at least have to make it to this part:


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