FIFA International Soccer
Publisher: Electronic Arts (1995)
One of the best titles in the 3DO sports lineup, FIFA International Soccer has the realism to please die-hard fans and the non-stop action to appeal to more casual gamers. I always enjoyed FIFA on the Sega Genesis, but its small, grainy characters were hard to make out. The 3DO hardware is better up to the task, rendering sharper, more realistic-looking players. The game is very easy to play, and the camera effectively rotates and zooms to keep you on top of the action. Your players always seem to be in perfect position to receive passes, and switching control between players is equally painless. Whether you're playing against the computer or up to five friends, the competition is always intense, especially around the goal. But what surprised me most about FIFA is its amazing
audio. If you have a surround sound system, you'll definitely want crank it up for this game. The crowd sound effects are remarkably clear, and when the chants resonate through the speakers, you really do feel "in the game". FIFA's rich option screens let you adjust the camera angles, weather conditions, game length, penalties, and music. Just be sure to change the playing mode to "Sim", because the "Action" mode is crazy
fast - my friends couldn't keep up with it. As a nice bonus, halftime feature videos of "great moments in soccer". Sure to please even non-fans, FIFA is one of the best soccer titles I've ever come across. © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Electronic Arts (1995)
This ambitious title puts you in the ring as Muhammad Ali, boxing other big (and not so big) names including Joe Frazier and Leon Spinks. These 3D graphics must have been incredible
in 1995. The boxers are composed of polygons with bitmapped textures, and they look terrific. Foes of Ali attempts to be as realistic as possible, which is both good and bad. The fights are much like they are in real life, with fighters that come out strong but are dead tired by the third round. One aspect that the game doesn't convey well is Ali's ability to dance around - these guys are all pretty slow. While sweat and blood flies for solid blows, the hits in general don't appear to be too devastating. And when the fighters clench (hug), it just looks silly. Foes of Ali scores big in the options department. You have total control over the boxing rules (rounds, scoring, judges) and game options (difficulty, blood, screen info). There are 21 camera angles to choose from, but most are worthless and some are utterly ridiculous. Each round is scored realistically by three judges. The game has its moments, and I managed to stage some exciting late-round comebacks. But as your fighter wears out, the controls become less responsive, which makes sense but isn't exactly fun. A few other glaring flaws ruined this game for me. First, the fighters tend to regain almost all of their energy between rounds, which is ludicrous. But what pissed me off worse was that worthless energy meter. With any other boxing game, these meters would indicate how close a fighter was to going down. But in this game, fighters can go down with plenty
of energy left. On the flip side, fighters can keep fighting long
after their energy has depleted! Does that make any sense at all? Foes of Ali definitely has a good look, but the gameplay leaves much to be desired. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Crystal Dynamics (1995)
In 1995, every console wanted a mascot, so we saw a lot of games featuring personable little animals. It was at this time that Gex, a comical green lizard, made his bid to be the 3DO representative. Although Gex never became a household name, this platform game was critically acclaimed. I can't deny that this is a high quality title with superb graphics, remarkable sound, and good variety. The stages are well-designed, colorful, and loaded with large animated characters. Gex is easy to control, and can execute such moves as the tail whip, tongue lash, hurl, and wall stick. The tail whip is his standard attack. The tongue lash lets him snag power-ups, which give him the power to hurl fire or ice balls. But Gex's real claim to fame is his ability to stick to walls and ceilings. We've seen this is some older games (Sonic and Knuckles come to mind), but never to this extent. The climbing aspect really adds a new dimension. You can choose which levels you want to play via Mario-like map screens. There are four sub-areas: the graveyard, Toontown, Kung-fu-ville, and the jungle. My favorite is the graveyard, which features lizard zombies, flying demons, and chainsaw-toting psychopaths. Gex features all the obligatory platform elements, including destructible walls, hidden areas, checkpoints, portals, springboards, and floating platforms. But Gex has a depth of play rarely seen in this type of game. For example, you can tail-whip floating skulls into your enemies. There are multiple paths through each stage and challenging mini games as well. Every level throws new surprises at you, and the bosses do not disappoint either. It's pretty rare that the sound effects stand out in a video game, but I definitely took notice of them in Gex. Effects like the whipping sound of his tail and enemies getting knocked like bowling pins are crystal clear and entertaining. Unfortunately I've never been a big fan of Dana Gould who does Gex's voice, and I found his quips to be mildly amusing but mostly annoying. You can save your game, but only at predetermined points. Overall, I'd have to say that Gex is one of the premiere 3DO games. Crystal Dynamics tried to create the ultimate 2D platform game, and they did a pretty good job. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Matsushita (1994)
This is one of those combat strategy games where you move a party of warriors around a map and engage in turn-based combat against monsters. It's similar to Vandal Hearts (Playstation, 1997) and Final Fantasy Tactics (Playstation, 1997), but not nearly as good. Guardian War features pseudo-3D, cartoonish sprites, but close camera angles make everything look chunky and pixelated. Upon entering a new territory, you must destroy a certain number of creatures to clear the map and move on. You'll navigate the countryside using your main character, but once a confrontation occurs, the other members of your party appear. Certain warriors are well suited for close-range sword fighting, but others like clerics can attack from a distance and heal other members of the party. Sitting through the mediocre attack animations gets tiresome though. There's some strategy involved in positioning your characters, but there's no concept of directional attacks, and all fighting is done on a level playing field (literally). The shoulder buttons let you rotate the camera by 90 degrees, but the low angle makes it hard to gauge your position with respect to other creatures. The strategic possibilities expand as you collect additional items and abilities, but it's slow and boring in the early going. The menu interface is reasonable, and it's nice how you can select a "defensive posture" when you're just trying to buy some time. Hitting one button brings up the prompt "Load ok?" and I never knew what the hell that meant. You can save your progress between stages. Guardian War's cut-scenes are poorly produced, and I could barely even make out what the narrator was saying. This game was probably pretty innovative back in 1994, but the genre has made huge strides since then, turning Guardian War into a long-lost relic. © Copyright 2007 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Panasonic (1995)
This puzzle game is something I can see being devised on a cocktail napkin over a few drinks in a bar. Ice Breaker has the pretense of being artistic and abstract, but in fact this puzzle/shooter hybrid is ugly and intellectually devoid. Each selectable stage is a scrolling field littered with hundreds of triangles that you try to eliminate using a white triangle. You can ram the blue triangles, shoot the red ones, and lure wandering yellow mini-triangles into the green ones. The best puzzle games turn a simple concept into an obsession, but Ice Breaker turns a confusing concept into a pointless exercise. Its gameplay is slow, tedious, and aggravating as hell. The three-quarter viewpoint offers a lousy perspective, and the inexact controls don't help matters. As you methodically clear the field, there's no counter indicating how many triangles remain, which would have at least
provided the player with a sense of progression. One slip-up and you'll have to restart the entire level - with all the triangles restored. Upon dying, the screen says, "Game over, DUDE", like the developers were trying to be hip or something. Advanced stages introduce new types of triangles, but the added complexity just pushes an already unpleasant experience into the realm of unbearable
. The user interface has load screens out the whazoo. Want to select a new stage? Sit through a load screen. Want to adjust the audio? Kick back and enjoy the load screen. Need to scratch your butt? Welcome to the load screen. The stages can be played in any order, and the game keeps track of those you've completed. And there's no shortage of stages, as Ice Breaker offers 150 levels of increasing difficulty! That's 149 more than you'll ever need. © Copyright 2010 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Electronic Arts (1995)
This kind of 3DO game gets on my nerves. You "learn" as you play, and have to invest an inordinate time figuring out what's going on. I gave it a chance, but I think it was a waste of time. The premise of Immercenary is that you're the subject in an experiment to enter a virtual world to save mankind. When you make the "jump" to this virtual world called "Perfect", you find yourself in a city loaded with strange buildings, power-ups, and strange, zombie-like beings. What ensues is probably the slowest and most repetitive first person shooter I've ever witnessed. There are protective "portals" scattered all over that replenish your defense, offense, and agility. Until you learn how to use these, you'll die continuously. Portals also allow you to talk to these bizarre (and sometimes half naked) creatures, which is how you'll learn what the heck's going on around you. Your ultimate goal is to advance in rank from 255 to 1 by blowing away creatures and facing bosses. It took me quite a while to figure all this out, because the instructions really suck. Immercenary does feature some nifty visual effects and shapely babes, but it's mostly a slow, plodding ordeal. You're agility meter drains quickly as you run, so you'll constantly have to "rest". Resting is just like it sounds - you sit there and watch your meter recharge slowly (what genius came up with this idea?). Once you start moving, the peculiar control scheme keeps you moving forward like car, and you need to press both shoulder buttons to stop (weird!). Dying returns you to the lab, where the pissed-off scientists look at you like you've just interrupted their coffee break. The game never seems to end, even when you do poorly. Once I died on purpose, only to have a scientist at the lab say "Definite improvement in target kill ratio - that's good!", before sending my sorry ass back into this virtual hell. Immercenary tries to be a thinking man's Doom, but the payoff isn't nearly worth the investment. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.
John Madden Football
Publisher: Electronic Arts (1994)
This was a landmark football game. In 1994 me and my friends drooled over screenshots of 3DO's Madden in magazines, which were unbelievable for the time. With digitized sprites and actual video clips, this stood as the best Madden game from 1994 all the way until the recent Playstation 2 editions. Being a fan of old-school football games, I instantly fell in love with the TV-style presentation and the simple but fun gameplay. As you begin each contest, John Madden welcomes you from the booth and introduces the teams. Yes, his comments are generic and canned ("Okay, here's the kickoff, everyone should be ready."), but they still add something. The gameplay is outstanding. Players look almost photographic, and the animation is relatively smooth. I found the running and passing games to be fairly well-balanced. The running moves are effective, and your runningback usually won't go down on the first hit. I was surprised to see that this game uses the old-style passing windows, which I was never crazy about. There are video clips of referees and fans intermingled with the action. I love it when the "chains" are brought out to measure first downs. John Madden's commentary is pretty amusing. He always scolds you for using timeouts: "Just remember that timeout you took - it's gonna come back to haunt you". I love this game, but I can't ignore a few problems. First, the video clips in the "scouting report" section don't always jive with the text on the screen. Next, the snow is LAME. It's very light, and doesn't even lie on the field. Also, a skill level option would have been nice; I found this game to be a bit on the easy side. There are a few other minor issues, like when my receiver caught a touchdown, and then lined up to kick the extra point. What a versatile guy! Still, if you prefer classic sprite-based Madden action, it doesn't get much better than this. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.
Jurassic Park Interactive
Publisher: Universal (1994)
This certainly wasn't the game I was expecting. Jurassic Park Interactive is just a collection of mini games loosely held together by the Jurassic Park theme. The main screen displays a map and a set of buttons, but it's really just a game menu. The three main mini-games involve getting people to safely through first-person challenges. One has you driving a car while a T-Rex looms in the rear view mirror. Another is a confusing first-person maze game in a building full of raptors. The other lets you shoot at spitting dinosaurs. None of these are nearly as intense as they're intended to be. The other five mini games are wacky Jurassic Park take-offs on classic games like Space Invaders, Galaga, and Asteroids. I found them to be mildly amusing hardly appropriate. Overall Jurassic Park has nice graphics and sound, but the hodge-podge design is just bizarre. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Studio 3DO (1995)
Ugh! I've played some bad first-person shooters in my time, but this one is particularly painful! Killing Time is a violent game with an occult theme and bizarre creatures. It tries to be as gory, weird, and over-the-top as possible, but it's just irritating! The scenery is a boring, pixelated mess. Every now and then some full-motion video "ghosts" are superimposed on the screen. They look great, but only serve as eye-candy, not improving the lackluster gameplay. The control is absolutely atrocious. You movements are too jumpy to aim or look around easily, and strafing tends to get you hung up on the walls. The digitized enemies don't look bad, but your shots don't always register, even when your shot is dead-on. Killing Time is a nightmare. I hate it. Don't be deceived by the nice-looking screen shots on the box! © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.
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Screen shots courtesy of Video Game Museum, Moby Games