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Virtuoso

aka: Virtuoso Rock & Roll Shooting
Moby ID: 111
DOS Specs
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Description official descriptions

Fight all sorts of virtual enemies as Our Hero, a rock star. Your shotgun is your only friend as you travel from world to world fighting enemies in 3rd-person 3D.

Spellings

  • バーチャル・ソー - Japanese spelling

Groups +

Screenshots

Promos

Credits (DOS version)

5 People

Programming
Graphics / Artwork
Acting / Voiceovers

Reviews

Critics

Average score: 41% (based on 18 ratings)

Players

Average score: 2.0 out of 5 (based on 16 ratings with 2 reviews)

Virtuoso; Somewhat ahead, but also quite behind its time

The Good
I really want to give this game the credit that i think it deserves in being somewhat ahead of its time.

Keep in mind this game came out only about 1 year after DOOM released and i have to commend the Developers for trying to make a Third Person Shooter with cover mechanics and a completely original Indie Grunge Soundtrack (have to say, whatever you think of the quality of the music, it is definitely the most "1994" soundtrack ever for a game), all of that is very ambitious for the time, and of course i am not saying it's THE FIRST or even a good early example of a Third Person Shooter but they did try and they even put it out on a console! And i want to give them that.

The Cover art is quite nice in representing the idea of the game, and while i dont think any of the levels are really "good" Level 2 of Marine did surprise me with having human? (at least human-like) enemies with some nice cover shooting level design. It felt more like this game where i was a Rockstar in the 2050's shootin' shit up! It wasnt that good but it did surprise me. Only other thing is the Haunted House stage uses snowy fog as a way to mask the poor draw distance (a-la Silent Hill) but the Haunted House is no silent hill... as we will get into shortly with the many overweighing negatives.

The Bad
Let me be perfectly honest, i am not all that antiquated with older Shooter controls, first time i went in i tried WASD before remembering this was before the days of games like Quake, but really i was confused on how to shoot without the manual, which i didnt have as i played this game online, i could get around the anti-piracy screen thanks to a commenter and i found some of the controls VIA a blogger called "Super Adventures in Gaming" but aside from Tab being the way you can use some items, i couldn't pull up the map. Controls are basically the arrow keys to move, which this game uses tank controls, which to be fair were quite common during the 5th and early 6th generation of Third Person games so its not unusual to expect that, but the game feels quite sluggish making movement less intuitive than other 3rd Person games from the 90's, another problem is the strafe controls, instead of using the left and right arrow keys or holding down, lets say "Left Shift" to enable strafing with the left and right arrow keys. You have to use the comma and period keys to strafe left and right respectively, which isn't exactly comfortable.

But what about the "Shooter" part in "Third Person Shooter"? how do you shoot? Well you hold down the space bar and then your guy crouches to shoot, you can at the very least turn while he does this but its not exactly the best in more fast paced levels, which mainly seemed to be in the Haunted House and Marine stages. But before we get into the levels (at least the ones i played) i should mention that not only is there no mouse support but also no visible crosshair, so you just gotta shoot and hope for the best, luckily there doesn't seem to be an ammo mechanic so you can just blast away til you get it. Alright, with the control talk out of the way we can talk about the levels

There are as previously stated three individual Stages/Worlds (whatever you want to call them) in the form of: Mars, Haunted House and Marine. I'm thinking that the other 2 stages were put in as two extra harder stages for replay value, or maybe Mars tired me out that i thought the other two stages were harder but basically Mars is the default stage, you can select the other 2 but by default this is the stage you are likely to play first and its obviously there because of DOOM. So starting out you are put into the first level and you'd better know the controls! (to be fair without the internet you would need the manual to get past the crack protection screen) Or else you're gonna be dead quick! The enemies here are Spiders, Bats, Giant Spiders and Robots with turrets. Now i had to go to wikipedia to see a summary of the story so apparently you're a rock star who shoots up shit in VR in the year 2055 and the reason this matters is Why are the enemies in VR Mars random animals from earth? The Robots i understand but really? C'mon! At the VERY LEAST could they be Robot Bats? Cyborg Spiders? Oh well! So you akwardly shoot these formidable foes (if you can see them that is, as your draw distance is about 5 feet) and you wander around the levels shooting up checkered balls for power ups and items (including my favorite, the explosion one where you press tab to explode very nearby enemies in the area) until you find a key and then reach the exit, all while that "Original 1994 Indie Grunge Soundtrack" plays in the background, so how is that soundtrack?

Well you can find the band's (Thai Dyed Suicide) songs from this game on youtube and as i've said before the best way to describe the type of music in the game is if you tried to make the most "1994" kind of music ever. But while the band isnt completely terrible, i feel like one of the developers brought in their little brother's high school rock band in to write some songs for the game. (At least on the title track, which is my favorite) the lead singer is doing his best Billie Joe Armstrong impression whilst the band stays in sync together for 98% of the song, honestly i wouldn't be surprised if the singer had braces or something. Now i did quite like some of the songs but mainly due to the whole datedness factor. Just think if a bunch of kids from 1994 listened to a bunch of Green Day, Nirvana, Soundgarden and Helmet and just decided to practice and write some songs in about a month or so. Charming but not good.

by about level 5 or so of Mars i was getting tired of the game, so eventually i stopped and tried Haunted House. How is Haunted House? Well i did like the atmosphere more than Mars, it certainly is more original than Mars! Plus you start outside the mansion in the snow which honestly helps the quite poor draw distance feel more atmospheric, so now the enemies in the first level of Haunted House are giant snowballs, a corvid (probably a raven or a crow) and Frosty from Clay Fighter... Again why these choices? Why are giant snowballs trying to kill me? And Corvids??? I know Crows and Ravens are extremely intelligent birds who can hold insane grudges against people but what did my character do to them? And really? Evil snowmen? No Robofrosty? C'mon why set this game in the 2050's if there isnt any cool Futuristic enemies? But after level one you enter a maze where there are more snowballs trying to kill you and some dude on a motorcycle. A motorcycle in the snow? Eh we'll let that slide, that is more believable in 2050's VR than Evil Snowballs... But those damn snowballs, you can shoot them and they'll be killed in 1 hit but compared to how slow your character is, they just keep coming at a rapid pace that i just kind of got tired and didnt bother finishing the level.

And now the final stage, Marine starts out on a beach full of indestructible turrets, seagulls and crabs! At least the turrets seem appropriate for a futuristic VR game... except they look like they're from WWII or something, and you need to get past two in a corner to get the key to level 2, but wait a second. If the turrets cant be shot down then how do you get past them? Simple! At least i THINK it's simple! because i used my beloved explosion powerup randomly and then the turrets stopped firing, i remember beforehand i saw a similarly colored button on a pole thingy next to a few turrets so my guess is you have to destroy that. (whilst avoiding the turret's gunfire and the surprisingly dense ammount of Seagulls and Crabs, i swear i've seen like 8 crabs and 3 seagulls on screen at once.) so then i made it to Level 2, remember when i praised Level 2 of marine? Well i never said it was a good level, it was just the one i liked most in the game, basically after you get the key in level 1, you open this latch to go inside this secret base thing full of little RC robot enemies, guys with guns and SNAKES... because of course this virtual reality base in 2055 has a snake infestation! But notice how they seem to be the only random animal enemies i've seen? thats why level 2 is most memorable... It feels like something... it feels like a concept of what third person shooter games could be, it's still crap and very poorly aged but taking cover whilst dodging gunfire in hallways, slowly advancing til i can make those guys eat lead is honestly promising, but still that promise wasn't delivered with anything all that fun, and so after a bit of that i had to stop to write my review.

The Bottom Line
Virtuoso is terrible, its a dated, poorly controlled, early-to-mid 90's time capsule of a Doom Clone that fails at capturing what made doom fun in the first place. But i wouldn't be lying if i didnt say some aspects of this game impressed me, by no means do any Third Person Action games like Tomb Raider, Resident Evil, Metal Gear Solid, MDK, etc have to owe a single ounce of Credit to this thankfully forgotten mess of a game. But i can't help but to give Virtuoso a slight glance for trying to do third person shooting, without basically everything that made a third person action game let alone a shooter good in the first place. God Speed Virtuoso... (or i guess in virtuoso's case, "Tank Control Turning Speed"...)

DOS · by Maztr_0n (116) · 2023

I'm astounded this game made it out the door.

The Good
The front of the box looks nice...

The Bad
Good lord, where to start? It's not bad enough that this game is a Doom clone--it has to be a really, really bad Doom clone. I'll just ramble on for a bit:

  • There is no mouse control--something that's fairly required in any Doom clone.
  • The premise sucks--We know right from the beginning that Our Hero is playing a Virtual Reality(tm) game, so what's the incentive to stay alive?
  • When you shoot, your drop to your knees. While you can pivot while shooting, you can't move! What's up with that?!
  • The redbook audio contains a soundtrack that is beyond amateur. The rock group, Thai Dyed Suicide, is local-area band calibre (oh, wait, they were a local-area band). And whoever mastered the audio for the game made a bad recording; it's panned to the left significantly, and is over-amplified and literally clips on the CD. It's embarrassing.



The Bottom Line
This is what happens when people think of "style" and graphics over gameplay. Don't let the box fool you; move on.

DOS · by Trixter (8954) · 1999

Trivia

Music

The redbook audio portion of the CD that provides the background music was poorly mastered. The audio audibly clips in loud passages of the music. It is played by the indie rock band Thai Died Suicide.

Stanglnator

The former editor Florian Stangl from the no longer existing German gaming magazine PC Player looked incredibly like the hero of Virtuoso. The magazine featured monthly humorous sketch videos, called the "Multimedia Leserbriefe", on their cover CDs and this inevitably led to the creation of the Stanglnator, played by Florian Stangl. His appearances mostly involved killing people with his guitar.

Some examples and background info can be found on stanglnator.de (German).

Information also contributed by Trixter.

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Identifiers +

  • MobyGames ID: 111
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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Trixter.

3DO added by Multimedia Mike.

Additional contributors: Felix Knoke, Patrick Bregger, Skippy_Chipskunk.

Game added May 10, 1999. Last modified July 8, 2024.