Sometimes you encounter a game so untypical for its creator, you have to wonder how it got made in the first place. Now, this goes twofold in case of Disaster: Day of Crisis, since the developer, Monolith Software, is mostly known for JRPGs and Nintendo rarely produces a game that targets a more serious, adult gamer base. And somehow, Disaster: Day of Crisis got made. The fact it came out on the Wii is also strange, since it doesn’t fit into the general strategy Nintendo had at the time. But let’s dig deeper!
The game debuted at E3 2006 and Nintendo never really mentioned it after that. It got a really quiet release in October 2008 and the only western version of it came out in Europe and Australia, cutting out the United States altogether. It’s also interesting to note that Nintendo bought Monolith Software back in 2007 and made it a First-Party producer. Seems like Disaster: Day of Crisis encountered some troubles during that time, since it never made an E3 appearance after that and barely got any press.
There are of course more things about this game, that make it a little bit weird. The setting is very Hollywood blockbuster movie-esque. We have Raymond Bryce, who is a former US Marine who later was part of a Rescue team. During one of the operations, his friend and partner, Steve Hewitt dies. When a year later Steve’s sister gets kidnapped, he is tasked to save her and confront his own past. The plot then goes completely off the rails, featuring an US-based terrorist group and many natural disasters taking place. It’s fun, but not to be taken to seriously.
The setting makes for some very unique action: Fighting terrorists amidst collapsing buildings during an earthquake is just spectacular, if a bit drab in terms of colours. The cheesy dialogue lends the game a ridiculous B-Movie charm, which makes it kind of hilarious to play and watch. Pair that with some really fun choices, like including oversized food as health items, and you have a very unique viewing experience.
But really, it’s the gameplay that makes it weird: You have driving, shooting and exploration sections, all with their own mechanics and choices. Exploration makes up the bulk of the experience. Here you look around in the environment in order to find people in need of help, break crates and collect resources. Depending on the situation, you need to help them get to safety by carrying them somewhere, help them up when they’re in danger of falling to their death, splash them with water (no really) and doing some first aid. This is all presented in the form of mini-games, which breaks up the rest of the game quite nicely, but still feels really tacked on. However, they use the Wii-Remote in interesting ways and it all works.
Then there’s the action sequences: They come in the form of Light Gun shooting! And I love Light Gun Shooters! But unfortunately, the sequences drag on for too long, the pacing’s off and they pop up way too often. The way they interrupt everything else makes them feel a bit alien overall, especially considering that you run around and save people during the other sections. But in terms of implementation, I really enjoyed these sequences, since they also give you different weapons to play with and a decent cover mechanic. They even show you when your enemies are going to shoot! The epic, but cheesy music, the dialogue and the intense action come together and form a really interesting package in these moments.
Then, there’s the driving sections where you hold the Wiimote horizontally and use it like a steering wheel. These sections are by far the most uninteresting part of the whole game and do absolutely nothing for me. Sure, there are a lot of set-pieces during these driving sections, but in terms of raw gameplay there isn’t a whole lot going on except for evading obstacles. And that’s something the last Wii-rd game I talked about managed to do way better!
While Disaster: Day of Crisis might not be as stylistically weird as Tomena Sanner, it certainly is considering how it mixes different playstyles and moods together in order to create something unique. Trust me when I tell you that you’ve never played a game quite like this. Even if it’s a bit weird, it’s totally worth your time, so if you ever stumble upon a copy, you should give it a try. The game was a flop at launch and not all that well received, so it might be hard finding a copy.