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Cannon Spike
Grade: B
Publisher: Capcom (2000)
Reviewed: 2011/8/14
Rating: Teen

screenshotCannon Spike is an overhead, rapid-fire shooter featuring a hodgepodge of Capcom characters. Anime fans will be thrilled to see Charlie and Cammy (of Street Fighter fame), along with Mega Man and B.B. Hood from Darkstalkers. My personal favorite is Authur (from Ghouls and Ghosts), who clearly has been indulging in steroids over the years. Cannon Spike has an arcade style with non-stop action and quick stages. In each confined area you'll dispatch waves of robotic baddies before facing off against a boss. Each stage only lasts a minute or two, and the bosses can usually be defeated in less than 30 seconds. The brisk pacing is very refreshing compared to most modern shooters where bosses tend to linger and wear out their welcome. Cannon Strike is deceptively simple to play, but there's more to it than meets the eye. Each character has five attacks, including two hand-to-hand, two shooting (strong and rapid-fire), and a limited-use special. There's also a handy lock-on button. Each attack has its place, and there's plenty of room for technique. At first you'll be tempted to rely on the rapid-fire shooting, but the melee attacks usually dispatch enemies much quicker. My appreciation for this oddball shooter has grown over the years. Cannon Spike works great with an arcade stick, and its score-oriented gameplay reminds me of a modern-day Robotron. Sure, you can turn down the difficulty and plow through the game in a half-hour, but you'd be missing the point. There are nine skill levels, and high scores are saved per skill level. The two-player coop is a nice option, but it's pretty chaotic so I'd recommend playing solo. Like a classic arcade game, Cannon Spike is one of those games you can pop in, kick ass for a few minutes, and feel like your time was well spent. © Copyright 2011 The Video Game Critic.

1 or 2 players 


Capcom Vs. SNK
Grade: A
Publisher: Capcom (2000)
Reviewed: 2001/9/9
Rating: Teen

screenshotCapcom has unleashed yet another fantastic 2D fighter. This one is just as good, if not better than Marvel Vs. Capcom 2. The 25+ characters are taken from Capcom's Street Fighter series and SNK's King of Fighters games. The thing I like about this game is that all of the fighters are human, and the combat is mostly hand-to-hand. The Marvel Vs. Capcom games are flashy, but all the projectile, flying, and over-the-top attacks get to be a bit much. This is more old-school, and I think it requires a bit more skill. You still fight with teams, but these aren't tag teams. You choose two to four fighters, depending on the strength of the characters (you get four points to spend, and the characters are each rated from 1-3). You can't switch characters during the fight, so ordering your fighters is important. The graphics here are stellar, and the backgrounds are the best I've seen in any fighter, hands-down! Many of the stages have interesting intro sequences as well, and the excellent music is also worth noting. Finally, a "bonus points" system allows you to earn points and buy goodies. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.

1 or 2 players 


Carrier
Grade: C
Publisher: Jaleco (2000)
Reviewed: 2008/10/28
Rating: Mature (violence, blood, gore)

screenshotThis second-tier survival horror title flirts with mediocrity, but has enough polish and thrills to keep itself afloat. Carrier tells the tale of a soldier sent to investigate a virus-infested aircraft carrier on a dark, rainy night. I like the premise, and the ship's shadowy corridors convey a sense of eerie isolation. Carrier's basic gameplay involves blasting zombies while saving crew members who provide keycards to access new areas. Some of the infected crew appear normal, so you'll need to use a special visor to detect them. The game mimics Resident Evil both technically and stylistically. From the clanking metal walkways, to the stilted dialogue, to zombie heads exploding on the third shot, you'll be forgiven for calling this "Resident Evil on a boat". In terms of presentation, Carrier is not bad at all. The stormy sound effects are so convincing that if the blinds are drawn, you'll swear it's raining outside. The interior areas aren't terribly exciting, but the shiny metal surfaces look realistic and colored lighting adds atmosphere. I love how you leave red footprints after walking through a puddle of blood. In addition to plant monsters (which call to mind the game "D2"), there are freaky zombies with the long, crooked tongues. Carrier also incorporates one of the most ill-advised creatures in the short history of survival horror: invisible zombies! You know you've encountered one of these when you stop dead in your tracks and blood begins spurting from your neck! What a load of crap! Equally irritating is how you can't step over zombies lying in the hallways, which often tend to block your path. Carrier does have a nifty auto-aim feature, and the handy "run" button makes it easy to back-track around the ship. The vibration function is nice, and you get a steady diet of health supplements and save points. Carrier is not up to Resident Evil standards, but if you're a survival horror freak in the mood for something different, give this one a shot. © Copyright 2008 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 


Centipede
Grade: D
Publisher: Hasbro (1999)
Reviewed: 2000/8/31
Rating: Everyone

screenshotMany game companies like Hasbro seem to believe that if you take an old game and add fancy 3D graphics and digitized sound, it will be even better. Well, as we've seen time and time again, that is not the case, and Centipede is a prime example. This new 3D version looks good but the gameplay is much slower and far less exciting. Cool power-ups and decent control make this game playable, but it's certainly not addictive by any means. Fortunately, the original arcade version is also included on this disk, which is crazy addictive. Centipede for the Dreamcast is pretty lackluster overall, but at least it's better than the horribly choppy Playstation version. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.

1 or 2 players 


Championship Surfer
Grade: C
Publisher: Mattel (2000)
Reviewed: 2006/7/14
Rating: Everyone

screenshotWith its huge angular waves that resemble jagged blue mountains emerging from the water, it's easy to write off Championship Surfer as bargain bin material. Stick with it however, and you'll discover an addictive, albeit flawed title. It's a shame the game doesn't offer a tutorial mode, because its learning curve is substantial. Even after playing for a few hours, I still feel like I'm missing something. The main "championship" mode lets you face off against other surfers in a tournament spanning several locations. The reasonable controls make it easy to stay on your board, but earning enough points to progress to the next round is hard. While my scores did gradually improve, I never did make much progress. I suspect you need to execute some crazy Tony-Hawk style stunts in mid-air to earn the big points. As I mentioned before, the waves look pretty bad as they approach, but not bad at all once they're fully formed. The various beach locations don't make a difference since the camera angle faces the sea, but I really dig the variable weather conditions. The raging thunderstorms look especially wild with lightning striking the water in the distance. In terms of audio, the sound of crashing waves is convincing enough and the background guitar music is very pleasant. It's hard to recommend Championship Surfer to the casual gamer, but patient Dreamcast fans looking for some fun in the sun should check it out. © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.

1 to 4 players 


Charge 'N Blast
Grade: C
Publisher: Xicat Interactive (2000)
Reviewed: 2012/8/29
Rating: Teen (animated violence)

screenshotCharge 'N Blast offers arcade-shooting action with lock-on targeting, mammoth bosses, and massive explosions. It's a "behind the back" shooter in the tradition of Nam 1974 (Neo Geo) and Cabal (NES). Unfortunately it's saddled with one of the most non-intuitive control schemes ever conceived. The X, Y, and B buttons let you to charge a weapon (to three degrees of intensity), and A fires. It is not necessary to hold in the charge buttons, and it only took me about ten years to figure that out. The shooting controls are tough enough, but you'll also need to move sideways (using the shoulder buttons) to avoid incoming missiles. The three selectable characters come with grenades, rockets, and lasers, but I prefer the "multiple missiles" which let you target several enemies at once. Just keep in mind that your aim is critical even with the guided missiles. The stages have funny names like "City of Nest", "Party on the Beach", and "Desire Town". The beach stage boss looks just like Godzilla, and I love the splash effect when he collapses into the water. Each boss is temporarily protected by a shield generator, and the poor octopus boss has one located in his ass. That's got to be uncomfortable. Charge 'N Blast is pretty intense shooter once you get the hang of it. There's some slow-down and the game is short, but it has a "one more time" quality. A female voice delivers repetitive lines like "I will provide you with an energy cell", and the appealing soundtrack sounds a lot like House of the Dead 2. High scores are saved, but you need to score 550K to rank in, which is way too high. Turn down the difficulty if you want to have a chance of cracking that. Charge N Blast is an acquired taste, but arcade fans will enjoy its frantic mayhem. © Copyright 2012 The Video Game Critic.

Recommended variation: Easy/5 cnts/max life
Our high score: 684,703
1 or 2 players 


ChuChu Rocket!
Grade: C+
Publisher: Sega (2000)
Reviewed: 2002/3/15
Rating: Everyone

screenshotThe Sonic Team strikes back, this time with a frantic puzzle game unlike anything you've ever seen. ChuChu Rocket is played on a square grid full of scampering mice and the occasional cat. The object is to direct the mice towards your rocket ship by strategically placing arrow tiles in the grid. The game can be played by up to four people at once, and this was one of the first Dreamcast games with online capabilities. The action is fast and dynamic, and takes a while to wrap your mind around the concept. One cleverly placed arrow can direct a slew of mice away from another rocket ship and straight to yours. Once you get the hang of it, ChuChu can get addicting. For the solo player there are some thoughtful puzzle challenges that will test your mind and reflexes. The graphics are whimsical but nothing fancy, and a quirky musical tune plays nonstop in the background. The gameplay eventually wears thin, but you have to give it credit for originality. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.

1 to 4 players 


Coaster Works
Grade: D+
Publisher: Xicat (2000)
Reviewed: 2002/3/15
Rating: Everyone

screenshotThis simulation game lets you construct and even ride (!) your own roller coasters. A nice CAD-style design tool makes it easy to lay the tracks and view your creation from every angle, and you'll need to obey the laws of physics and make sure the turns aren't too sharp. It only takes a few minutes to create a ride, and it's easy to bank turns and make small adjustments here and there. Once you're done, you can take a "test ride" that gives you a live, first person perspective of your ride. There's no way it can duplicate the sensation of being on an actual roller coaster, but it's still interesting to watch. The shaky camera and screaming sound effects also add to the illusion. The graphics are fairly simple, with sparse amusement park backgrounds. If there's one area where Coaster Works falters, it's the fact that there's only ONE playing mode. Actually, it's more like a tutorial that lets you build six increasingly larger and faster roller coasters. While this slow approach may be suitable for younger (or dumber) players, I found it to be annoying. Let's face it, most people want to jump right in and build a MONSTER roller coaster without having to build five intermediate rides first! A "free hand" design mode would have been nice, and it would have been cool if they had included some sample roller coasters. When all is said and done, Coaster Works is an interesting concept, but there's not much of a game here. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 


Confidential Mission
Grade: C+
Publisher: Sega (2001)
Reviewed: 2001/6/10
Rating: Teen (13+)

screenshotThis light gun shooter is basically Virtua Cop for the Dreamcast. Been there done that you say? Not with these nice Dreamcast graphics you haven't! In Confidential Mission, one or two players shoot their way through three James Bond-style missions. The graphic quality is about the same as House of the Dead 2, but seems slightly less detailed. People's lips don't move when they talk, but at least their bodies are nicely animated. Bad guys can be shot anywhere on their bodies, and extra points are awarded for "justice shots" (shooting their weapon). There aren't any specials like a duck move or a smart bomb; it's just kill or be killed. The body count gets pretty high, but there's no blood. The bad guys just keel over and disappear, except for the fat guy of course, who you'll need to pump about 10 rounds into. Are fat people this hard to kill in real life? Interesting locations like a museum and a moving passenger train provide attractive scenery and a nice variety of situations. The game gives you eight credits, but you'll go through them pretty quickly. Although there's some minor branching, the game is fairly linear and surprisingly short. And like most light gun games, it can get repetitive. It's not a standout game, but if you're looking to get some use out of your Dreamcast light guns, Confidential Mission isn't a bad buy. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.

1 or 2 players 


Crazy Taxi
Grade: A-
Publisher: Sega (2000)
Reviewed: 2010/5/22
Rating: Teen

screenshotFirst impressions mean a lot, and the first time I played Crazy Taxi the words "Best video game ever" ran through my mind. Few games are as instantly enjoyable as "Mad Cab", as my friend Scott insists on calling it. You play a San Francisco cabbie trying to earn as much money as possible before a timer runs out. Upon picking up a customer, an arrow at the top of the screen guides you to your destination as you speed through town like a complete maniac. You'll weave through traffic, jump ramps, plow through hot dog stands, and send pedestrians running for cover. Bonus "tips" are earned for being extra reckless - a concept adopted by many subsequent games (Burnout being one of them). Sideswiping cars won't even slow you down; in fact, it often causes you to accelerate! Must be a Toyota! There's an exhilarating sense of freedom as you drive over sidewalks, through hilly parks, on the beach, and even underwater! The fast action, crisp controls, and bright arcade graphics make Crazy Taxi a thrill ride from start to finish. The basic controls are simple, but the drift controls are more complicated than they need to be. Also, after picking up a passenger it's very easy to peel wheels as precious seconds tick down. You'll find yourself driving the same basic routes over and over, although an alternate mode is included that mixes things up a bit. The scenery is so detailed that you'll want to cruise around just for the sake of sightseeing. The traffic is variable and there are a lot of pedestrians milling around. Adding realism are actual stores and restaurants like Levi's Original Jeans and Pizza Hut. The six kick-ass tunes from The Offspring and Bad Religion will pump your adrenaline, but they become tiresome after a while. Scott and I recently revisited Crazy Taxi after I discovered that our high scores (recorded to the VMU) were over ten years old! And wouldn't you know this game is still every bit as fun as it once was! This is a timeless classic, and if you're looking for a good summertime game, Crazy Taxi is the embodiment of summer fun. © Copyright 2010 The Video Game Critic.

Recommended variation: Arcade rules
Our high score: SLN $2,2028.17
1 player 


Crazy Taxi 2
Grade: B-
Publisher: Sega (2001)
Reviewed: 2010/5/22
Rating: Teen

screenshotThe first Crazy Taxi game was invigorating, but this sequel seems far less inspired. Crazy Taxi 2 is set in New York City instead of San Francisco, and as much as I love the Big Apple, its "concrete jungle" seems drab and uninteresting compared to the rolling hills and scenic harbor of the first game. The basic gameplay is unchanged as you pick up people in your convertible cab and shuttle them around to familiar destinations like FAO Schwartz and the Hard Rock Cafe. This time you can pick up groups of passengers, including dudes with big Afros and mimes (looks like a new icon is in order). Since groups tend to have larger payouts, you'll want to pick them up whenever possible. Crazy Taxi 2 incorporates an unnecessary new "jump" maneuver, which has "gimmick" written all over it. I really wish the developers had fixed the drift controls or spinning tires instead. Also notable is what was removed from this sequel. You can no longer associate your initials with high scores, and that's a shame. I can only assume Sega lost the technology since making the first game. There are technical issues as well, including noticeable pop-up and an erratic directional arrow. This time the soundtrack is provided entirely by The Offspring, and as you might imagine, it wears thin in a hurry. Crazy Taxi 2 still retains the arcade flair of the first game, but it feels like a half-hearted follow-up. © Copyright 2010 The Video Game Critic.

Recommended variation: Normal rules
Our high score: SDZ $4,630.98
1 player 


D2
Grade: C
Publisher: Sega (2001)
Reviewed: 2002/9/19
Rating: Mature - Adult language and subject matter

screenshotD2 is the massive, four-disk sequel to the spooky, puzzle-oriented game 'D' that came out in the mid-90s for the 3DO, Saturn, and other systems. As a haunted house mystery game, 'D' was slow-moving but conveyed an eerie sense of isolation. D2 takes place in an unusual setting: a snowy mountain. The story begins as the main character, a blonde woman named Laura, is sitting on a plane that's taken over by hijackers belonging to some bizarre cult. The plane is then struck by a meteor (!) and crashes into a mountain. Laura awakes in a snow-covered cabin 10 days after the crash, with no recollection of what happened since. The snowy environment provides a surprising sense of terror and isolation. As Laura trudges around the snow in her skirt and high heels, she'll investigate deserted places and collect items. The windy sound effects and snow-covered wilderness create a chilling ambiance. Although most of the time Laura is alone, she occasionally has run-ins with mysterious characters that never stick around too long. As Laura hikes through the snow, she is periodically accosted by bizarre monsters that appear to be humans with huge plants growing out of them. They look a LOT like the creatures from Sword of the Berserker Guts Rage. You'll hear the Dreamcast drive spin-up before the monsters appear, ruining the surprise every time. These encounters take you into a first person "battle mode", where you blow away the creeps with your semi automatic weapon. It's an abrupt change of pace, but at least it incorporates some much-needed action into the game. Shooting the monsters is satisfying, but you'll have to deal with clumsy controls and slowdown. D2 does have some genuinely creepy moments, especially when you return to the plane wreckage. Some of the bosses are terrifying, but others are bizarre to the point of being comical. The storyline is played out in a series of lengthy cut scenes. D2 is interesting for a while, but it really takes a turn for the worse when you enter the mineshaft labyrinth, which is a confusing maze with an endless parade of monsters that all look the same. Although the graphics are decent overall, the people in D2 don't look so hot up close, and their voices aren't synchronized with their mouths. In terms of audio, excellent sound effects and a creepy piano adds mystery and tension, but the dialogue is pretty bad. You can save your place at any time. D2 is wildly uneven, but the compelling storyline and spooky atmosphere should be enough to keep most people's attention. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 


DUX (Japan)
Grade: F
Publisher: Hucast.net (2009)
Reviewed: 2009/10/28

screenshotI suspect this shooter was created by the same people who brought us Last Hope (Dreamcast, 2007), because it shares many of the same irritating qualities. DUX is a side-scroller with large, well-defined objects that make it look like a Flash game. Sadly, it also plays like one! The sterile, bright space stations you fly through are incredibly dull, and I hate how your ship tends to get crowded into impossibly tight areas. For once, you'll be glad the collision detection sucks. The game's Z-axis is really hard to gauge, so you can't tell what parts of the scenery you can collide with. In fact, it's really a matter of trial and error to determine how to navigate the stages. As with Last Hope, a shield can be used to block projectiles, and while it's possible to deploy it to the far side of the screen, I really don't see the point. Between lives, the screen flashes a huge "Ready!" on a white screen while playing an annoying sound effect, and my friends despised it. But the worst aspect of DUX is its continue system, which forces you to use all three continues before ending your game (and entering your initials). Considering each continue supplies you with six lives, that adds up to a whopping 24 lives you'll need to suffer through. Sorry folks, but a quick game of DUX is not an option! To be honest, playing DUX for any period of time is something I like to avoid. © Copyright 2009 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 


Daytona USA
Grade: B-
Publisher: Sega (2001)
Reviewed: 2001/4/13
Rating: Everyone

screenshotI'm familiar with the Saturn version of this arcade racer, which was pretty decent despite some horrendous pop-up and headache-inducing music. Thankfully the music has been toned down for this version of Daytona, and the graphics are arcade quality. The game combines simple controls, bright graphics, and pure arcade racing action. I'll take this over a tedious Nascar-style game any day. There's a two-player split screen mode, but it's real selling point is the ability to race on-line against three other players. There are eight beautiful, well-designed tracks and four cars to choose from. If there's one thing I can criticize, it's probably the control. Once your car begins to slide, it seems impossible to regain control. But fans of the original arcade game should approve. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.

1 or 2 players 


Dead or Alive 2
Grade: B+
Publisher: Tecmo (2000)
Reviewed: 2000/4/18
Rating: Teen

screenshotJust when you thought 3D fighters were getting boring, Dead or Alive 2 breathes new life into the genre with fantastic graphics and original new features. The visuals are awesome - even better that Soul Calibur, and the flowing garments and photo-realistic hair look especially impressive. The women fighters are drop-dead gorgeous, and the bosses look bizarre. The backgrounds are less fantastic than Soul Calibur, but many arenas are multi-tiered, allowing you to knock your opponent off a high ledge and continue fighting below. Other stages allow you to fight in water or snow environments. The control takes a bit of getting used to. It only requires three buttons, but makes use of both the analog and digital controls. The moves are very imaginative, so you'll see wild maneuvers you've never seen before. You also have the ability to smash your opponent into walls. We've seen that before, but never done this well. The playing mode include story, tag team, and even a four-player battle!! Dead or Alive 2 has it all. The music and sound could be better, but that doesn't detract from this high quality fighter. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.

1-4 players 


Death Crimson OX
Grade: D+
Publisher: Sammy (2001)
Reviewed: 2002/9/19
Rating: Teen

screenshotThis light gun game is one of the oddest Dreamcast titles you'll ever come across. Death Crimson is no House of the Dead, but like most light gun games, it'll hold your attention for a while. The main story mode features as incoherent plot about monsters invading a town. Your main goal is to blow the monsters away, but you'll also need to keep an eye out for innocent civilians. As far as enemies go, this game is all over the board. There are skeletons, zombies, robots, giant bugs, and giant robot bugs. Some of the bosses are so bizarre and "out there" that I couldn't tell if they were supposed to be funny or disturbing. As you run around town and through warehouses, there are plenty of extraneous targets for you to shoot as well including lights, windows, and power-ups. To be honest, the weapon power-ups didn't seem to have any effect. The game moves at a steady pace, and the action is nonstop, but the jazzy background music seems totally out of place. Death Crimson is an odd light gun game that doesn't make a whole lot of sense. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.

1 or 2 players 


Demolition Racer: No Exit
Grade: D+
Publisher: Infogrames (2000)
Reviewed: 2010/9/14
Rating: Everyone

screenshotI've played my share of Demolition Derby-style games, and it never ceases to amaze how easy these are to screw up! Demolition Racer: No Exit offers both smash-up derbies and circuit races. You'd expect the split-screen derbies to be mindless fun, but they're just awful. There's zero sense of mass as you plow into a traffic jam and send cars (and point values) flying all over the place. Even the split-screen mode is unsatisfying because every hit rings hollow. The circuit racing is better. To advance to the next track you'll need to earn damage points in addition to placing in the top three. My friend George and I took turns unlocking tracks and discovered quite a bit of strategy along the way. Jumping out to an early lead leaves you with no one to ram into, so it's wise to hang back until the final lap. Once you acquire a turbo boost, wait until you're behind a crowd and plow into them for the big points. Winning tournaments unlocks mini-games including a car soccer game and even some kind of light gun shooter. Still, Demolition Racer's flaws are hard to overlook. The controls are touchy, and more times than not you'll completely miss the car you're trying to hit. Points earned for crashes never seem to match the magnitude of the collision. Bonus boxes award points, but penalty boxes that look almost exactly the same subtract points from your total! Bogus!! Demolition Racer is also one of ugliest Dreamcast games I've seen. The cars look boxy and the tracks tend to wind through muddy industrial areas. The city track offers a nice respite with its towering skyscrapers and starry night sky. The soundtrack is a hodgepodge of headache-inducing guitar and techno beats. Demolition Racer is mildly amusing for the single player, but the game does too much wrong and not enough right. © Copyright 2010 The Video Game Critic.

1 or 2 players 


Dino Crisis
Grade: B
Publisher: Capcom (2000)
Reviewed: 2001/1/3
Rating: Mature

screenshotThis is a terrific Resident Evil-style game with dinosaurs instead of zombies, and it plays much like a video game version of Jurassic Park. You control a hot-looking redhead in a tight outfit who is part of a commando team infiltrating a mysterious lab facility on an island. So far, it sounds like every adventure game you've ever played, right? You'll encounter raptors, pterodactyls, and of course, T-Rex. The good news is, this is just like Resident Evil! The bad news is, this is JUST LIKE Resident Evil. The graphics are smooth and clean, but the lack of detail (like square hands) gives away the fact that this was originally a Playstation game. You'll have to struggle with an overly complex menu system to examine, mix, and equip items. Some of the dialog is pretty corny, and bad camera angles will have you wondering where the heck the raptor is (although you'll hear him). The tension runs high and the puzzles are thought-provoking without being too frustrating. The vibration feature is effective, and the VMU is used to display your heath - a neat idea! You can only save your spot in designated "save rooms", but there are enough of these around. I do have a few digs to get in before I end this review. The analog control is not supported, so you'll be stuck with the D-pad. The map feature has its good and bad points. It indicates which doors you need to open, and highlights the room you're in, but it doesn't indicate WHERE YOU ARE in the room, which is confusing. When your character is hurt, she tracks blood, but other than that she acts completely normal, which looks silly. Finally, although the puzzles are clever, they all fall into three main groups: unlocking doors, rearranging boxes, and turning on power generators. I like Dino Crisis, but it's really just a "by the numbers" adventure. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.

1 players 


Dynamite Cop
Grade: C
Publisher: Sega (1999)
Reviewed: 2008/5/21
Rating: Teen

screenshotI was inspired to re-review Dynamite Cop after an astute reader pointed out that this is actually the sequel (in spirit at least) to Die Hard Arcade (Saturn, 1998)! Both games are structured similarly and feature the same brand of 3D arcade fighting action. In Cop's unoriginal storyline, the president's daughter is being held hostage on a cruise ship by some terrorist freak. Although the bulk of the action takes place on the ship, the story culminates on an island shaped like a massive skull. Three different missions are available, each offering different (but overlapping) routes through the game. Two players can fight side-by-side while punching, kicking, and shooting their way through gangs of thugs. There are plenty of weapons lying around. As a general rule, if you can pick it up, you can hit somebody over the head with it. It's satisfying club a thug with a side of beef, or toss muffins in a rapid-fire fashion! On one occasion my petite female cop actually hurled an entire forklift at some unlucky S.O.B. It's also fun to pick up bad guys and slam their bodies into the ground like they were rag dolls. There are machine guns and flamethrowers, but the most impressive weapon is the "anti-ship missile" that produces a 100-foot mushroom cloud! There are so many items lying around that you often pick up something new when you really just want to clock some thug with a baggette. Unfortunately, the game is not nearly as fun as Die Hard Arcade, largely because bad guys can absorb a crazy amount of damage. You can bend one into a pretzel and break every bone in his body, yet he'll still get up and keep fighting! And how many times do I have to shoot a guy in his face at point blank range before I kill the bastard? According to this game, the answer is 20! Oddly enough, punches inflict as much damage as gunshots! Bosses you'll face include a fat chef who tosses exploding carrots, and an enormous Kraken that somehow found its way into the engine room. This game is cheesy as hell, but if you're in the mood for goofy fighting mayhem, Dynamite Cop serves its purpose. Just don't ask me what that purpose would be. © Copyright 2008 The Video Game Critic.

1 or 2 players 


Ecco The Dolphin: Defender of the Future
Grade: F
Publisher: Sega (2000)
Reviewed: 2010/9/14
Rating: Everyone

screenshotEcco was a wonderful non-violent title for the Genesis, but playing this Dreamcast edition is a miserable experience. The artistic graphics, serene music, and crystal clear audio are totally wasted on this unmitigated disaster. Defender of the Future is such an ordeal to play that you couldn't pay me to finish the thing! The opening cinematic explains how humans and dolphins have joined forces to protect the earth from some intergalactic evil. Must the fate of the world hang in the balance in every video game? This is supposed to be about a damn dolphin for crying out loud! Ecco's heavily constrained underwater environments feature colorful coral and sunny tropical scenery above the water line. The sea life is well animated and Ecco contorts himself realistically as he turns in the water. The production quality is high, but the playability is rock bottom! This game is so frickin' hard that you'll need to consult an FAQ just to complete the tutorial! And even the guy who wrote the FAQ describes the learning curve as "vertical." Your first order of business is to locate and save a baby whale, and if this task leaves you feeling bewildered, it's just a microcosm of the entire game. Your main source of guidance comes from talking gems that speak in incomprehensible riddles. You'll come upon a purple gem only to be told "Power of Vigor - you have not mastered yet". What the [expletive]? The worthless manual doesn't help, failing to explain even some of the most basic moves. The arduous stage two is infuriating enough to make David Banner turn into the Incredible Hulk! Did I mention how the topsy-turvy camerawork made me nauseous? I couldn't play this God-forsaken game for more than 20 minutes without wanting to barf! I actually had to take Dramamine just to get through this review (seriously). Who says playing video games can't lead to a drug habit? Defender of the Future is a gateway drug - to untold pain and suffering. © Copyright 2010 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 


Evil Dead: Hail to the King
Grade: D
Publisher: THQ (2000)
Reviewed: 2001/9/28
Rating: Mature

screenshotI've been an Evil Dead fan for many years, often citing Evil Dead 2 as one of the greatest movies of all time. No other film has so effectively combined action, horror, and humor. And just for this game, actor Bruce Campbell has returned to lend his voice to the main character, Ash. So as you can imagine, I was pretty disappointed when I realized how mediocre this game is. The gameplay is almost exactly like Resident Evil, right down to storing items in chests. One difference is that all relevant items shine like beacons, eliminating the element of exploration. I enjoyed the audio track, with sound effects ("I'll swallow your soul!") and music taken directly from the film. The background graphics are outstanding and a feast for the eyes. I love being about to walk around that old cabin and explore the surrounding areas. The pre-rendered rooms and outdoor areas capture the spirit of the movie very well. If only the monsters looked so good. But no, the ghosts, zombies, and skeletons are so incredibly blocky that it's almost comical. And the control is a nightmare too. Ash is slow at turning and constantly getting stuck in the scenery. And if you thought battling monsters with a chainsaw would be fun, think again. Fighting is nothing but button mashing, and it gets so tiresome that you'll soon try to avoid confrontation altogether. Unfortunately, the creatures regenerate constantly and love to block your path. It's especially painful when you get lost in the endless maze behind the cabin. Hail to the King fails to capture the edginess or humor of the movie, and poor control and repetitive action are like nails in the coffin. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.

1 players 


Expendable
Grade: C
Publisher: Infogrames (1999)
Reviewed: 2001/6/10
Rating: Teen

screenshotExpendable brings to mind a game called "One" released on the Playstation a few years back. It's an all out blast-a-thon, with dark environments, aliens, robots, and magnificent explosions. The idea is simple: move around and shoot the hell out of everything in sight. You view the action from up high and behind your man, and a useful strafe feature makes it easy to aim and maximize your damage. The camera angle sometimes moves to the side for no good reason, but this isn't a major problem. Expendable certainly delivers some serious shooting satisfaction! Your firepower is awesome. You can run out of ammo, but there's always plenty more lying around. The levels and bosses are a pretty unspectacular, but at least there are some branching paths and secret side areas. There's a two-player simultaneous mode, but it's way too confusing with all the destruction going on. I like Expendable for its mindless mayhem, but its replay value is pretty low. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.

1 or 2 players 



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