We now come to the third game in the SegaScope series, meaning it’s time to bust out the 3D glasses once again for some ‘dazzling’ displays. After we’ve seen Missile Defense 3D and Zaxxon 3D, Sega follows up those carts with….a maze game, which doesn’t seem like a good subject for a 3D game. Unfortunately this cart (also known as Maze Walker in Japan) does little to disprove that, and much of that is because most of the effort was seemingly put toward the 3D effects. Of course a fancy gimmick can only get you so far without actual gameplay to back it up and that’s certainly the case here.
Basically you control a space explorer who’s trapped in some sort of space labyrinth consisting of 20 mazes (five environments of four stages) each filled with strange creatures out to eliminate you, all while you view the action from overhead with the 3D glasses. In each multi-tiered level you must make your way through the twisting passages to find the key that will open the exit then reach it before the creepies get you. Your only real weapon to slay said creatures is a simple red pipe you use as a club and can’t be upgraded or anything. A few power-ups are available to boost your abilities, such as shoes that let you stomp on enemies and suits that let you take several hits before dying (otherwise one hit kills you). Floating balloons also appear above you and if you jump up and hit it you can snag a temporary weapon, either a ray gun or bombs, but after a few seconds it’s back to the pipe. Find the key and the exit opens, allowing you to advance to the next level.
First off this game does not have a 2D mode so you have no choice in using the glasses this time. To this game’s credit, however, the 3D effects are actually well done and very convincing, with walls that really look like they’re rising from the floor and tiers that appear to be at different heights. It does look like you’re viewing a physical maze instead of an image on your television. But once you look past the 3D gimmick you can see just how little substance this cart actually contains. The mazes themselves are pretty much the same, just with different colors and layouts for each level, and while your character sprite is decent, the enemies are nothing more than simple multicolored blobs. The music tunes aren’t terrible but there’s nothing memorable about them either, and the sound effects are the usual uninteresting pings and booms.
But the real negative is the gameplay, or rather lack of it. You’re just walking around killing enemies and reaching the exit over and over with nothing to mix things up. Plus the game can be frustrating since your sole weapon is pretty much useless unless you get up close to your target, usually resulting in you getting hit first and dying instantly. Also when you die you have to begin the entire level over, and you lose your equipment. Then again it’s not like there’s any real challenge to this game since you’re not really required to kill the enemies, in most cases you can simply avoid them entirely and go straight for the key/exit. The game also allows you to continue when you lose all your lives by holding Up/Left on the D-Pad and pressing both buttons.
Overall Maze Hunter is another forgettable game for the Master System, one that relies entirely on the 3D gimmick to cover for the bare bones gameplay, and it doesn’t quite succeed in that aspect. It’s sad how Sega took the ‘flash over substance’ route just to pump out another cart for their glasses, and yet they wonder why the SMS never took off in North America. Check this game out only to see the amazing 3D effects but if that doesn’t interest you then there’s nothing to be found here.