The Future Is Forsaken, ‘Forsaken 64’ Retrospective
Some people think the title is 'For Sega'
I thought about the first M-rated game I owned. In my early teens there was a game commercial where they said “the future is forsaken” over and over. The game was called Forsaken 64, a shooter for the Nintendo 64(N64). A few days later I picked it up on sale. I wanted to know what it was about and was caught off guard by what I saw.
The game started with a heart surrounded by barbed wire. The title screen was of a gritty futuristic setting. There were different modes, such as single player and multiplayer. On single player you had a choice of different characters to play as. Their stats aren’t displayed, so you just pick the one you like.
‘The game begins’ is literally the first thing you hear. There’s a brief cutscene that tells you that there’s carnage ahead and that failure isn’t an option for the forsaken. I had no idea what was happening.
Basically, the first level had you playing as a character driving a flying vehicle in a first-person perspective, though you could switch to a third-person view. The game gives you full 360-degree control. You can turn around and look anywhere. You can fly in any direction, strafe up, down, left, and right. The turning is very sharp and responsive as you can near-instantly turn 180-degrees with the control stick.
You have two health meters, a shield bar and a hull bar. You can collect shield power ups to replenish it, but not for the hull. Once your hull depletes you die, and you’re going to die in this game for reasons that I’ll get into later.
Speaking of power-ups, the game has lots of them. Outside of shield, the others are mainly weapons. Your default weapon is the pulsar, which is an energy shot. You can collect a tube-like item called a power pod that gives you twin shots and an ammo meter next to the crosshairs. Once it runs out your shots get slower, but they can be replenished by reobtaining the power pod.
The power pod is one of your primary weapons. Other primary weapons include a fire wave that bounces off walls, a blue ring that can be charge, and even a deadly double blue laser that overheats from overuse. There’s even a temporary stronger power pod called a golden power pod, which gives you four spinning shots.
You also get quite a number of secondary weapons, such as missiles, homing missiles, a homing missile that steals enemy power ups, a missile that creates a blue vacuum that traps enemies, floating mines, and floating turrets that shook endless missiles. There’s also the titan, a missile which is the strongest weapon in the game. It’s so powerful that it can damage and even kill you if used improperly.
All collected primary and secondary weapons can be cycled through with the D-pad. There’s also a power-up that makes you invisible, and a power-up that speeds you up.
You’ll notice that I haven’t said much about the game’s story. The game doesn’t tell you, but I once had a player’s guide that told the story. In the future, a failed solar experiment caused the world to plummet into a terminator-esque apocalyptic environment where machines kill on sight. Humans were forced to flee into space. Intergalactic mercenaries are given the task of going down to Earth and ridding the planet of the machines and the forces that control them.
Most of the enemies comprise of machines. Many are essentially flying drones and stationary turrets that fire at you. While they all have different appearances, they all function the same. The only difference is that some may use slightly different weapons, take longer to destroy, or their weapons can do more damage to you.
Besides the enemies, some levels do have boss fights. Some are just more machines, such as a large flying tank or a submarine. One level features a giant metallic flea that comes from the ceiling to shoot at you. Some levels feature other mercenaries like you as bosses. Supposedly once defeated, these other mercenaries are playable in multiplayer, but I’ve never seen them.
Each level has different objectives. One may have you destroy every enemy in the level, the next you may have to destroy a boss. One may have you defend a certain target and another may have you go travel or survive waves of enemies within a time limit.
As I mentioned before, you’re going to die a lot, especially on your first playthrough. This game is extremely difficult. Throughout the game enemies are plentiful and deal lots of damage. You’re also have limited lives for the entire game, so you’re also going to have many game overs.
Like Star Fox 64, Forsaken 64 also has branching paths. You can get to different paths depending on how fast you beat the first level. If you take a while to beat the first level, you go on the easy path. If you beat it in under three minutes you unlock the medium difficulty levels. If you beat it in under two minutes you go to the harder levels.
The only way to save the game is by memory card, which I never had. Every time I always had to start from scratch. Normally, I only got to the third level on the easy path, which is difficult from the sheer number of enemies. There are many more levels on the easy path that progressively get harder. In fact, I only made it to the medium path once.
Despite the game’s sheer difficulty there is one thing that keeps it from being unplayable. There’s several cheat codes that really assist in the game’s difficulty. Under normal circumstances I would slam using cheat codes. The only times I would advise this is if a game is super difficult to the point of being unplayable, or if a game has been beaten several times and someone wanted to experience it in a different way. Even then one shouldn’t get comfortable with using cheat codes.
There’s codes for invincibility, and all weapons with infinite ammo. There’s also a level select code that allowed me to see the rest of the game. There aren’t only codes to reduce the game’s difficulty, there are Easter egg codes, such as making the levels flash in psychedelic colors, turning the levels and enemies into wire frames, and even a code that allows enemies to bleed, which is why the game’s rated M for mature.
There’s a code that allows for all enemies to die in a single shot, including bosses, but I only advise this if the game is super difficult. If the game is still too difficult there’s even a code that freezes all enemies, completely breaking the game.
As you progress through the easy and medium paths, you discover that there are five super bosses, well actually four but more on that in a moment. These are the main antagonist in the game and the leaders of the machines. Each one is so powerful that they’re initially undefeatable. In their levels you must deal damage to them, collect a beacon, and wait until time runs out.
Each one is unique. One is a tank that floats and fires electricity, one is a battleship that races around a track while laying mines, one is a humanoid mech with large guns for arms, and the last is a powerful red robot that bounces around and literally fires everything at you. Those are the four leaders of the organization called Babalas. The fifth is actually a crystal protected by turrets, but you don’t directly fight it.
The final hard route level is properly titled Babalas, where you must defeat those bosses. Since they’re immune to your weapons you must defeat them in different ways, such as luring them to compactors and crushing them, or dropping them into a vat of acid. Once they’re done the game ends.
Overall, I think the game is an underrated gem. The game flows smoothly for an N64 game, it has amazing graphics, loads of varied levels and different objectives. The bosses are all interesting, and the game has an amazing soundtrack comprising of heavy techno-rock. I only have two complaints, the need of a memory card to save, and the game’s sheer difficulty.
As I mentioned before, the codes tone down the difficulty but I still advise against it for the full experience. Despite this, the game still should be played to feel the responsive controls and immersive experience. As for multiplayer, up to four people can fly around to shoot at each other for different modes. If you have friends over it’s worth checking out.