According to the June 1990 issue of Videogames & Computer Entertainment, Acclaim took an unexpected turn in the development of the Nintendo Entertainment System version of Total Recall. It commissioned Interplay to transform the expected summer blockbuster into ten levels of 8-bit action. Acclaim‘s usual fallbacks, Rare (NARC, Wizards and Warriors) and Beam (Big Foot), were deemed too foreign. ―In certain types of games, [using an American developer] can make for a clearer transition of a product,‖ Sam Goldberg, Acclaim‘s then Vice President in charge of Marketing, said in the article.
The decision wasn‘t without reason. Acclaim even rejected an offer by Pack-In Video Co., the group behind its Rambo game for the NES, in favor of Brian Fargo‘s computer-concentrated production crew because of its success with titles like Battle Chess. Still, Total Recall was out of the safety zone of Interplay as most of its titles emphasized thought and strategy, not the unattached barreling of gunfire at dogs and skeletons.
As Interplay‘s inaugural action-heavy shooter, Total Recall today shines in its unorthodox approach to structure and its inspired nuances. The charm in Total Recall is in its innovative design, structure and self-referencing destruction of the fourth wall; not in what it‘s unable to copy in similar action games like Contra, which it‘s usually unfairly compared to.
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