My name is Collin and I have an addiction: video games.
I’ve been officially collecting games for the past seven years now with a major focus on my favorite console-maker: Sony. Affectionately referred to as a “Sony Pony” by friends, I wear the name with pride: I have nearly 1600 unique physical games—and over 1000 of them are on a Playstation platform.
Now, I’m totally aware that this is just a drop in the bucket when considering both other collections all over the net and just how big the PS1/PS2 libraries alone are, but I like to think that I focus on quality instead of sheer quantity. Niche and Japanese games are my absolute favorites (don’t get me started on how great it is if they’re niche AND Japanese!), so I tend to gravitate towards games that don’t have the same recognition as Crash, Spyro, or even the Final Fantasy series.
Long story short, I come across some pretty interesting games and I want to share them you.
Rocket-powered wheelchairs, a former James Bond, and a doe-eyed Rob Lowe. What do these three things have in common? Believe it or not, these three come together in Capcom’s “comedy spy thriller” Fox Hunt. The second and final game developed by 3Vision Games (their first was National Lampoon’s Blind Date for the PC back in ’94),
Fox Hunt is an adventure full motion video (FMV) game for the original Playstation. Like its brethren Sewer Shark, Make My Video: Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch (this is a real game), and the infamous Plumbers Don’t Wear Ties, the FMV genre was touted as a look into the future of video games, focusing more on recorded video instead of sprites or 3D models. These games were mainly popular during the early ‘90s on consoles like the LaserActive, Sega CD, and the 3DO, but the PS1 had its share too and Fox Hunt is typically referred to as the final nail in the coffin for the genre.
I remember the first time that I ever played Fox Hunt. I had come across it on some forums after buying Psychic Detective back in 2011, another FMV game for the PS1 that’s pretty hard to find. When I looked at the game’s cover, I saw something unexpected: Capcom’s logo. My interest piqued, I ordered the game and tried it out at a friend’s house a few weeks later. The game’s supposed to be a parody of a spy movie, (that’s where James Bond comes in—George Lazenby, the only actor who played the role of James Bond only once, acts in the game) but I never got to see much of that because the first few minutes of the game immediately introduces players to the difficulties of the FMV genre. Every movement you make in the game requires a brief second of loading and it’s easy to get disoriented when trying to find items or complete a mission. Take a look at NintendoComplete’s entire playthrough of the game on YouTube and consider yourself lucky because actually playing through the game is a much more involved process. It probably took me nearly an hour to make it to the hospital level, and that’s pretty much the farthest I’ve ever gotten. My friend got to the next stage, an exciting arctic shootout, but even he couldn’t pass that one. It’s a shame because I’d really like to finish the game; a young Rob Lowe plays a major character later on, but I’ve never actually seen most of his performance. Maybe it’s for the best.
I really enjoy the novelty of FMV games and I think that’s why I’m so drawn to Fox Hunt. It’s actually a very funny game and I genuinely enjoyed the time I spent playing it. The acting is so overdone to the point where it just had to be intentional and shooting down hospital hallways in a rocket-powered wheelchair is just as great as it sounds. The tech limitations just ultimately flaw the game. In the hospital level, you’re given just a few seconds to figure out what to do and chances are that you’ll mess up unless you’re using a guide. Unfortunately, the game kicks you back to the last place you saved which was unfortunately about three or four minutes before the chase even starts. This causes the game to get very frustrating very quickly. I’ve never been the type of person who would choose watching an ending on YouTube over actually beating a game, but with something like Fox Hunt, it’s a lot harder to draw that line. Watching it all in one perfect play-through online might actually be the best way to experience the game, considering it’s an interactive movie and all. Right?
Regardless, I’ve never convinced myself to do that with hopes that I’ll eventually go back to the game down the road. Some things about the game (both good and bad) just don’t translate unless you’re actually playing it.
It’s funny. My girlfriend and I were playing around with the Wonderbook games for the PS3 a few weeks ago. While playing Book of Spells, I found myself legitimately engaged in the game—even though I knew that my PS Move controller wasn’t really a wand from Harry Potter. That extra level of immersion from AR got me more excited about the experience. That’s what I felt the first time I played an FMV game. It’s that sense of potential, the one you get when you get to experience a video game through a new medium of immersion. It’s the same feeling I got when I played Rock Band or when I first used the 3DS, and it even reminds the first time I saw the fully animated anime cutscenes in Lunar. Playing these games, it’s easy to see how we get caught up in the next big thing.
I’d argue that you could see Fox Hunt the same way. Back in ’97, things could have turned out a lot differently. Maybe, just maybe, Fox Hunt could have been the future. So many things would have changed! The popularity of FMV games could have even led to a bigger focus on AR/VR experiences earlier on. People would love the Sega CD more than the NES. Snatcher, usurping Stadium Events in demand, would actually be worth its $10k price tag. Maybe in that kind of future people would even stop ragging on Final Fantasy XIII.
Then again, back at the end of 1996 Gamespot gave the PS1 version of Fox Hunt a 2.7/10 explaining that “players don’t want to ‘play’ cheesy movies from Spielberg-wannabe ‘designers’—game players want to play GAMES.” How often do we hear this same critique nearly 19 years later? I really wonder what this reviewer would have to say if they could see today’s plethora of AAA “cinematic experiences” like Heavy Rain, Uncharted, and Call of Duty (I’d like to believe it’s the same way that Kurt would’ve felt if he could hear Miley Cyrus covering “Smells Like Teen Spirit”). Even though these newer cinematic experiences are definitely better at bridging the gap between movies and games, it still seems like the majority of AAA games are trying to emulate Hollywood movies instead of really moving beyond the conventional boundaries of video games as a medium. The more I think about it, maybe Fox Hunt really was the future.
While I doubt that I’ll convince many people to see Final Fantasy XIII for the amazing game it is, I do hope that you might give Fox Hunt a chance. From a serious Playstation collecting standpoint, this game should be one of your top priorities if you don’t already have a copy. Prices may be relatively low now, but Fox Hunt is one of the more legitimately rare titles for the system. It’s no Tron Bonne or Team Buddies, but the cult classic appeal of this game makes it one of those titles that are both good to collect but also fun to play. If you want to go the extra mile, go ahead and pick up Braindead 13 and Psychic Detective.
Either way, just get Fox Hunt, some food, and some friends together. You’ll have fun. I promise.