HOME : LET'S PLAY! : D and D2

Publisher: Acclaim(D) Sega(D2)
Developer: WARP(both games)
U.S. Release Date: 1995(D) 8/22/2000(D2)

Hey everyone! It's the mid-nineties, and that new full motion video technology is taking the video game world by storm! All the experts are telling us that our silly old Nintendo and Sega games are going to fall by the wayside, and interactive movies are going to take over. If you want to get a taste of the future, you'd better get yourselves one of those CD-ROM based systems, like the Sega CD. Or even better, how about a 3DO Interactive Multiplayer from Panasonic? It gives you FULL SCREEN FMV in your movie-games. It's only $700. A bargain, right? Better start saving up now kids, or you'll be left in the digital dust!

Well, maybe not. While games did eventually gravitate towards trying to be more like movies, it was more of a gradual shift than an immediate sea change. The early attempts to make this transformation happen weren't welcomed by most, and the clunky use of full motion video in those games gave FMV a bad reputation that lingers to this day. However, there were a few movie-game attempts that ended up better than most of the drek, and that's where D comes in.

The two D games were productions of musician/software designer Kenji Eno and his team at WARP. The first D was released in 1995 on the 3DO, Playstation, Saturn, and PC. D2 was released in 2000 only for the Dreamcast. The two games were attempts of figuring out how to make interactive horror movies using the technologies of their times. The first D was all-FMV, most likely because the choices back then were between FMV or traditional sprite-based graphics. The second game was fully-polygonal, as the Dreamcast allowed WARP to create real-time graphics that surpassed the low-budget FMV of the first game. The difference in real-time graphics vs. pre-rendered video made a big difference in WARP's interpretation of how an interactive movie could be created.

The first D seems quite cliche now, but at the time it was something very different for console owners. It's a slow-moving, heavily-atmospheric tour through a haunted house. Gameplay is minimal, restricted to turning the playable character in the direction you want to go, as well as interacting with the occasional puzzle. D wasn't about its gameplay, it was more about creating a sense of dread in the player. These days, after experiencing the various Silent Hills and Fatal Frames, D may not seem impressive in that respect, but in 1995 it was rather effective.

The second D takes some elements from the first, but for the most part it's completely different. There's actual gameplay in D2, for one thing. D2 combines elements from survival horror, first person shooters, hunting simulators(?!), as well as incorporating the first person exploration segments from the first game. WARP's idea of what could constitute an interactive movie changes quite a bit from the first game to the second. When you play D2, it's quite obvious what the major influence was on this change: Kenji Eno played Metal Gear Solid. And liked it. A lot. D2 contains ridiculously long cutscenes and a bizarrely preachy ending that still leaves me wondering today if Eno was trying to be like Hideo Kojima, or if he was mocking him.

While WARP's attempts at making interactive movies seem pretty clunky compared to the slick productions of today, these games provided a very unique and different experience during the times of their releases. I would be interested in what kind of horror production Kenji Eno would create using today's technology, but unfortunately D2 was the last horror game he directed. He folded WARP and got out of the video game business after D2 didn't sell, and has only recently gotten back in. His only game since returning to the business has been a puzzle game on Wiiware(Japan only) called "Kimi to Boku to Rittai". Maybe he'll attempt another interactive horror movie someday, but it doesn't seem likely for now.

External Links

Kenji Eno (Wikipedia)

Kenji Eno's blog (Japanese)

Video List

1 - Into the Mind House

2 - Seventy Eight

3 - End of Disc 1

4 - The Wheel

5 - D is for...

6 - Welcome to Canadddddd

7 - Kim's Got Issues

8 - Shoot the Butterfly!

9 - Hi Jannie, it's Grandpa

10 - A Chat With Jannie

11 - An Experiment

12 - Sto-onehenge

13 - A New Addition

14 - An Excuse to Start Hitting

15 - Foul Play

16 - Improper Time Bomb Use

17 - Loose Ends

18 - Xilo

19 - Because a Flower Doesn't Care