In the near future, a mysterious accident strikes the Heimdal as it patrols the South Pacific, spawning a legion of zombies and mutant plant creatures on board the aircraft carrier. To rescue the ship's crew and salvage its secret military research, an elite military team is called in. The team attempts to land on the carrier, but its helicopter is suddenly downed by an unknown nuclear blast, scattering the five soldiers across the carrier. One of two selectable team members -- technician Jecipher or Navy Seal Jack -- sets out to locate the other troops, including team leader Barg, organic scientist Dr. Nobul, and the mysterious vigilante Lang.

It must be rough being a zombie

   No, that's not the most original premise for a game, but Jaleco's Carrier: The Ark of Hell deserves some attention nonetheless. While it doesn't make any great strides forward, Jaleco aims to polish up the foundations of the "Survival Horror" genre. The shift from the usual mansion-like environments to a modern aircraft carrier will at least provide some new scenery, and the characters and story are not without appeal. Trigger-happy gamers in particular should take note: Carrier firmly emphasizes battles with the inevitable waves of zombies; few puzzles interfere with the action.

   Of course, no Japanese game would be caught dead without its "Systems," so Carrier provides two: the Auto Action System and the Multicast System. Combined, these features ensure that your teammates act independently of whichever character you choose to control. While you're exploring the interior of the ship, the other characters might be up on deck fighting off zombies. They'll follow their own scripted missions, based on factors such as the time of day, current status of the ship, and even what events you've triggered -- flip a switch in one area and an ally can get through a door in another. Should you need to meet one of your companions in person, you'll be able to schedule meetings at a specified time and location.

Dr. Nobul
Don't shoot! I'm a human!

   Unfortunately, potentially groundbreaking features of this sort often end up becoming lame gimmicks which bear little impact on the actual game -- remember Resident Evil 2's disappointing Zapping System? We've seen no specific examples of how the system will actually work in the game, so it's hard to assess the degree of impact on gameplay. The possibilities for such a system are strong, however; aside from offering a much greater degree of replay value, Carrier could end up being one of the most immersive forays into the adventure genre yet.

   If Jaleco can manage to implement the Multicast System in such a way to actually enhance the game's structure, Carrier could wind up being one of the sleeper hits of 1999. While Carrier may not have what it takes to reach blockbuster status in the increasingly crowded adventure market, fans of the genre should definitely keep at an eye on the title.

Preview by Fritz Fraundorf, GIA
Carrier: The Ark of Hell
Developer Jaleco
Publisher Jaleco
Genre Adventure
Medium CD (1)
Platform Dreamcast
Release Date  Summer 99
5 new screenshots
Assorted sketches and renders
Box art