Another Quarter in the Barrel: Let's Play FMV Light Gun Games

Put your Let's Plays in here.
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Live-action full motion video has had its spurts of popularity throughout video game history, with a recent resurgence in games such as Contradiction! Spot the Liar and Death Come True, as well as interactive movies like Late Shift. However, before it was a stylistic choice for developers, it was a hot commodity for companies looking to create new interactive experiences in video games.

The Action Max was a home video game console developed in 1987 by toy company Worlds of Wonder. The Action Max console connected to a VHS player and allowed you to “interact” with specific VHS tapes via a light-gun. While the tape played, targets would appear on screen and either increment or decrement a score number on the Action Max console, and at the end of the tape the player would get an evaluation of their performance. While similar in format to LaserDisc games, the medium of VHS meant that the creators were much more limited in design; it was impossible to create multiple paths through the game, so each VHS played out the exact same way every time, with high scores as the only sense of progression or achievement. The Action Max ultimately failed to pick up steam and was cancelled after just five tapes were released.

American Laser Games was a video game company founded in 1989 and best known for its line of light-gun arcade games. Its founder, Robert Grebe, originally developed a police training program called iCAT, which used live-action LaserDisc footage to simulate high-intensity situations and convert them into shooting galleries. Grebe adapted his technology for arcades and released ALG’s first game Mad Dog McCree in 1990. While the excitement around FMV had largely died out since Dragon’s Lair’s release in 1983, Mad Dog McCree became an instant success and breathed new life into the genre with its larger-than-life take on full motion video. American Laser Games would eventually go on to release nine FMV light-gun games from 1990-1994 and branch out into alternative game styles through their Her Interactive branch, but the general lack of replayability and ALG’s pivot to 3DO technology ultimately led to their demise.

With this thread, my interest is in taking a look back on these old FMV shooters, to see what the figurative and literal Wild West was like for developers looking for a way to create new forms of interactive media. Thanks to fans of these companies and their efforts, these games have been preserved through Singe, an off-shoot of the Daphne arcade LaserDisc emulator that supports fanmade games and other restorations not supported by Daphne.

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I’m ChorpSaway, your live-action guide through the wonders of early FMV gaming. Green screened in with me are my co-hosts TheJayOfSpade, Taoc and FutureFriend, who all have varying histories with live-action FMV gaming. Together we’ll be shooting our way through many different worlds and immersing ourselves in the rich talent on display.

We will be looking through all accessible Action Max tapes and American Laser Games FMV releases, and showing off as much content as we can in a single playthrough of each game. Along with the normal LP videos, I will be releasing commentary-free versions of each of the playthroughs so that you can enjoy the experience on its own merits.

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Last edited by ChorpSaway on Sun Jun 13, 2021 6:18 pm, edited 10 times in total.

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Aw yeah I'm down for this, These games were around but were always too obviously quarter munchers for me to spend my hard earned Hohlpfennig on them.

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I never beat this game. Time Crisis 1,2,3? Yup. The House of the Dead games I actually *played*? Yes. That one fucking Jurassic Park game? Yes.

This? Oh hell no, props to you, Chorps, for kicking its ass.

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:siren: UPDATE TIME! :siren:

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This week, we're taking flight in Sonic Fury! Sonic Fury was the pack-in title for the Action Max, a VCR-based home console that let players "interact" with formatted VHS tapes via a light gun as they aim for high scores. Although light on interactivity and playability, these games are heavy with FMV action! This title puts up in the cockpit of a fighter jet, as a rookie training to join the Sonic Fury, a crack team of pilots who protect the skies from danger. However, on our simulation flight, the crew finds themselves in real danger, and it's up to us to help them make it back to base alive!


JamieTheD wrote:
Sun Mar 21, 2021 11:49 pm
I never beat this game. Time Crisis 1,2,3? Yup. The House of the Dead games I actually *played*? Yes. That one fucking Jurassic Park game? Yes.

This? Oh hell no, props to you, Chorps, for kicking its ass.
Mad Dog McCree is certainly a less fair game than the others you listed haha, and definitely asks you to memorize every one of its bullshit tricks. Thank goodness for emulation making that process easier!

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"STOP! The one whose turn it is... YOU! Yesssss, youuuu! You are a LOSER! GO TO THE VOID! HAHAHAHAHA!"

Or something like that. Atmosfear was a ride, and it was fun to play as kids, even if it had like, seven or eight addon packs. The videogame was kinda like how the boardgame feels now you know for sure that no matter what you do, he's going to chat the same shit. :(

I also vaguely remember the Keeper was meant to be French Canadian or something? But anyway, yes, this game was... It certainly was an interactive experience. Although no-one would have blamed you for letting your accuracy stay low, while your score was 69.

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:siren: UPDATE TIME! :siren:

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We're on the case this week with Who Shot Johnny Rock?, the second American Laser Games release! An up-and-coming singer Johnny Rock has been murdered, and its up to our no-nonsense detective to crack the case of whodunnit before he gets silenced as well. We have a lot of clues to find, people to interrogate, and bullets to dodge as we navigate the dangerous streets and try to solve this mystery. It's not an easy task, but someone's gotta do it.

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Hrm, well, even though it's a short vid, best spoiler this.

I liked the pool table guy. But I really didn't see enough of Johnny Rock to really get to like him, let alone love him. Same with Mad Dog, funnily enough. This gonna be a pattern, American Laser Games?

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This week we take to the vast unknown of space in Space Pirates, the third American Laser Games release! Captain Talon and his Black Brigade are on the hunt for a weapon that could bring the galaxy to its knees, and have taken hostages to demand information on the location of this terrifying weapon. However, one brave Star Ranger, with a little help from an unknown ally, might just be enough to take on Captain Talon's swarthy team and protect the solar system from all sorts of ne'er-do-wells!


JamieTheD wrote:
Tue Apr 06, 2021 1:46 am
Hrm, well, even though it's a short vid, best spoiler this.

I liked the pool table guy. But I really didn't see enough of Johnny Rock to really get to like him, let alone love him. Same with Mad Dog, funnily enough. This gonna be a pattern, American Laser Games?
American Laser Games characters are forever fleeting, but they always leave an impression on us.

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Y'know, all these guys who want to rule the universe, but... I've never heard a plan that gets them more than a solar system.

Ah well, maybe someday.

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We're diving back into the Action Max this week, literally, with Hydrosub: 2021! A then-future prediction at life in the now-present, we're transported into the crew of the Sea Dragon, a powerful submarine with the goal of finding the remains of ancient civilizations at the bottom of the ocean, in the hopes of understanding other lifeforms. However, the lost world under the sea is still alive, and filled with all sorts of dangerous creatures made on a miniscule budget! Can we navigate our way through the rough waters, or will we be left to rot at the bottom of Davy Jones' locker?

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It's time to return to our roots this week with Mad Dog II: The Lost Gold! After hyping up Who Shot Johnny Rock? and Space Pirates as successors to their first title, American Laser Games finally returned to where it all started and made a sequel to Mad Dog McCree! Mad Dog is back, and he's out for two things: revenge, and lost Spanish gold in the Arizona mountains! The prospector, know a well-to-do treasure hunter and explorer, asks you to help stop Mad Dog before he can get the gold and rebuild his no-good cowboy crime empire! But the prospector's not the only one who has our back; he's brought along three friends as well that can help guide us to the lost treasure and keep us from falling prey to Mad Dog's men. Can we get one up on Mad Dog, or will we be pushing up daisies in the desert?

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Ah yes. The worst thing can sometimes be White Man Developer. Still, I wonder if there were longer pans in an FMV game. Probably something in 11th hour, it would fit with the most tedious entry in the series (the 13th doll honestly wasn't that bad. Made entirely out of ham, but not that bad)

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Halloween comes early this year in The Rescue of Pops Ghostly, maybe the most well-formed idea from the Action Max library so far! Chasing after their dog, a couple kids find themselves locked in a haunted house. Pops Ghostly and his family live there, but recently they've been accosted by all sorts of terrible and horrible ghouls from the depths of hell! As the only corporeal beings in the house, it's up to us to clean up the nightmare creatures and save Pops' family! Can we exorcise the demons from this house of the dead, or will we be dragged down with the rest of the monsters?

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"Oh, that thumbnail looks like they ripped Staypuft heads of- Oh no, Gordy, you are way worse than that..."

As to ghostly nendoroids, how the fuck would that even work? Like, I have a few to prototype off of (surprise surprise, they're all Azur Lane), I have a 3d printer, but... My brain aches when I think how the hell that would work...

And yes, looking it up, these games all appear to have been made the same year. There was meant to be another horror title, but lo and behold, the Action Max was discontinued pretty quickly, and it went unreleased.

Ha, based on Fright Night, no less... XP

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We're unearthing lost art this week in Gallagher's Gallery! A limited release game based on the famous prop comedian, it wasn't until this year that a complete rip of the LaserDisc footage of Gallagher's Gallery was released online. Because of this, no emulation of the game exists, and so I've attempted to edit together an approximation of what a session of Gallagher's Gallery may have looked like for the lucky arcade patron. In this game, we play to the whims of Gallagher, who's created several wacky worlds in which we must shoot everything Gallagher's hates about this world: diet soda, broken TVs, nasty medicine, and so much more! If we can prove our light gun prowess to Gallagher, he'll meet us one-on-one in Gallagher's Gallery, culminating in his greatest challenge: Death By Melon! Are we good enough to stand toe-to-toe with this beloved performer, or will we be taking an early retirement from comedy?


JamieTheD wrote:
Sun May 02, 2021 6:42 pm
"Oh, that thumbnail looks like they ripped Staypuft heads of- Oh no, Gordy, you are way worse than that..."

As to ghostly nendoroids, how the fuck would that even work? Like, I have a few to prototype off of (surprise surprise, they're all Azur Lane), I have a 3d printer, but... My brain aches when I think how the hell that would work...

And yes, looking it up, these games all appear to have been made the same year. There was meant to be another horror title, but lo and behold, the Action Max was discontinued pretty quickly, and it went unreleased.

Ha, based on Fright Night, no less... XP
A lot of the Nendoroids with props will come with stands that you can attach arms to for posing, so you just plop the Ghostly family on some of those and they can fly around and haunt the house as they please!
And a shame about the Fright Night game, just another in the list of Action Max hits that was sure to pull in a child audience somehow.

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I... I don't even know who the hell this Gallagher is, but over the course of that video, I have gained a new hatred. Also... Huh. That was a surprisingly poor effort from American Laser Games!

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We're taking it to the streets this week with Crime Patrol! After American Laser Games finished its cycle of Mad Dog McCree, it was time to shake things up with their formula. The company returned to its roots in police training software and came back with Crime Patrol, a game that puts you in real life-esque situations where the only solution is to mow down bad guys. It has less of an internal narrative this time around, focusing on more traditional arcade-style levels in different tiers of police work. Starting from security detail and moving up the ranks all the way to Delta Force, it'll be a tough gig, but we might just save the country if we can pull it off!

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Oh jeez. That's a Space Pirates hat fucking Inspector Yoo-Hoo is wearing in the second undercover mission. Had some leftover merch you figured you'd use, eh, American Laser Games?

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Yup, that is indeed a game trying to emulate 90s cop action movies. Yes.

Also, I find it a crying shame we can't shoot (or would get a life lost if we shoot) Inspector Yoo-Hoo. What a jackass.

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We're back in boot camp today for .38 Ambush Alley! An Action Max title filmed at a real police academy, Ambush Alley puts us into the shoes of an officer-in-training as they take on a high-intensity crime scene simulation. However, what starts out as a routine exercise quickly turns into something darker as we're thrown into a scenario where everyone is a potential enemy and nobody has your back. The only ally we have in this fight is jazz fusion. Will we be able to survive our stint in Ambush Alley, or are we about to be left for dead? It's our badge on the line!


TheMcD wrote:
Sun May 16, 2021 10:13 pm
Oh jeez. That's a Space Pirates hat fucking Inspector Yoo-Hoo is wearing in the second undercover mission. Had some leftover merch you figured you'd use, eh, American Laser Games?
Inspector Yoohoo is just a big fan, and also knows that the pirates who would steal cars would also appreciate the Space Pirates. It's a sign of peace.
JamieTheD wrote:
Mon May 17, 2021 4:10 am
Yup, that is indeed a game trying to emulate 90s cop action movies. Yes.

Also, I find it a crying shame we can't shoot (or would get a life lost if we shoot) Inspector Yoo-Hoo. What a jackass.
Should've gone Mad Dog McCree with it and given us extra bullets if we shoot the Yoohoo out of his hand.

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I mean... What can you really say that hasn't been said?

I did like the nightmare sequence though. Can't call it a dream of being a cop, or even a dream of having a better shooting range, just "Everyone is mannequins, and they might pull out guns when you aren't looking. Except they won't try and shoot you, they're just doing it to scare you to death or something, idfk, it's a nightmare, it's not supposed to make sense, rookie!"

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It's time to go international in Crime Patrol 2: Drug Wars! Having taken care of many domestic affairs in the original game, we're now looking to go bigger and single-handedly take control of the war on drugs! The drug trade is expansive, and will take us from the continental US all the way to South America to track down history's greatest kingpin and stop his operation! All we need is a gun, and group of partners whose taste for violence would make the entire cast of the original Crime Patrol blush!

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Yeah, okay, I used to like ALG for that one game they keep mentioning, but now I seem to hate them with the burning of a thousand suns... Can't imagine why...

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