Ultimate Fighting Championship
Publisher: Crave (2000)
Rating: Teen (animated blood, animated violence)
When this game was first released the UFC was just beginning to gain in popularity. Now it seems to be on television every night!
The UFC was always a little brutal for my tastes, but its violence is a lot easier to stomach in the form of a video game. Each contest is preceded by a lengthy introduction, and it's a good thing you can skip that, because it's really boring. The fighters are real UFC competitors, but if you're not a fan of the sport they all look pretty much the same (except for the black dude and the Asian guy). Within the "octagon" (the eight-sided ring), fighters move in a very fluid, realistic manner. The control scheme is simple as can be (two punch, two kick), but the manual does a terrible job of explaining the buttons. That controller diagram on page 3 is microscopic!
UFC does a lousy job of helping the novice player learn the ropes, and its "training mode" is worthless. Unlike boxing, half of the action happens with one guy straddling the other on the ground while attempting to beat the snot out him. Special moves are performed using combinations of the four buttons, and heavy button mashing is the order of the day. Still, the controls are very responsive, giving the game a frantic, arcade quality. The violence is minimal, save for some flying red squares which apparently are meant to represent blood. Perhaps the most annoying aspect of the game is how you can land a series of successive blows, yet a single punch from your adversary can bring the entire match to an abrupt conclusion. UFC has a learning curve, but if you stick with it, you'll discover a lot of replay value. The career mode is surprisingly deep and modern games could really take a lesson from its user-friendly menu system. Ultimate Fighting Champion won't appeal to everyone, but UFC fans will find a lot to like. © Copyright 2010 The Video Game Critic.
Under Defeat (Japan)
Publisher: G-Rev (2005)
Okay, what's with the silly name? Was "Ass Kicked" or "Beaten Senseless" already taken? If that's supposed to be a translation, then I don't get it. Nevertheless, Dreamcast shooter fans owe it to themselves to track down this quality import. If you think you've seen everything the system can do graphically, you need to play Under Defeat. Visually, this blows away anything I've seen on the Playstation 2
, much less the Dreamcast. It's a vertical helicopter shooter that lets you unleash mass destruction on military bases, bombers, and battleships. The objects and scenery are so meticulously rendered that many areas appear to be photo-realistic. It's the extraordinary explosions however that really
steal the show. We've all seen particle effects in video games, but rarely used this effectively. From the brilliant initial blast to the streaming smoke left from flying debris, the eye candy is amazing. As my friend Scott observed, "Hey, look at that smoke - it looks like... smoke
!" The underlying game is also impressive. Your rapid-fire cannon can be angled slightly left or right, allowing you to strafe enemies not directly in your path. You're also equipped with bombs, and can summon an "option" mechanism to fire by your side. Under Defeat is tough, but you're provided three continues and high scores are saved automatically. If the game has a fault, it's probably the emphasis on huge bosses with their long
life meters. Still, this is an absolutely stunning shooter that's truly a "must have" for collectors. © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Infogrames (2001)
Rating: Mature (animated blood and gore)
After playing Quake III Arena, Unreal Tournament seemed like almost the same game. Both are on-line compatible, multi-player first-person shooters, and both provide a satisfying level of bloody violence. Unreal Tournament looks slightly more polished and high-tech than Quake III Arena, but both play nearly the same. I really like how in the space stages you can look out the windows and see spaceships and stars zooming by. I also enjoy the witty comments characters make as they blow each into oblivion. And if you thought the flying body parts of Quake were cool, you'll really appreciate how chunks of flesh actually bounce around
in this game. Besides the standard weapons, you get a chainsaw and my favorite, a shrapnel-spraying Flak Cannon. Additional moves include a "taunt" and "wave", but I'm not sure how practical these are in battle. As with Quake III Arena, I'd strongly advise you to play this game with the Dreamcast keyboard and mouse, or else you'll be in for a world of hurt, my friend. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Eidos (2000)
Rating: Mature (animated violence, animated blood, strong language)
I hated this game initially, but after a while it began to grow on me. Urban Chaos is a 3D, free-roaming police adventure set in a dark, rainy, present-day city. You can play as a black woman or a white guy, and each has a unique storyline. The urban landscape effectively conveys a glum atmosphere with its trashy streets, boarded up windows, and graffiti-covered brick walls. The game's profanity-laced dialogue, along with the ability to drive a car around, gives the game a Grand Theft Auto vibe. In addition, the short missions often have minor side-quests which reminded me of Spiderman 2. The missions themselves are short and not particularly difficult. Initially there's a lot of hand-to-hand combat involved, but advanced missions feature weapons like machine guns and shotguns. I like how you don't necessary have to "kill" each enemy, but have the option of "arresting" them by disarming them down and applying handcuffs. This makes the battles far less repetitious than they may have been otherwise. In addition to wandering the streets, you'll be required to scale buildings and perform some death-defying leaps. A helpful radar display directs you to all relevant targets, but it never zeros in on exact
locations. While this isn't necessarily a bad idea it terms of game design, it may confuse novice players. My main beef with Urban Chaos is its awkward control scheme, which borrows heavily from Eidos' flagship franchise, Tomb Raider. Pushing up causes you to move forward, no matter where the camera is situated. It's difficult enough to navigate around the city using this scheme, but aiming your kicks is especially problematic. The car driving aspect is equally stiff, and the car's movement tends to be erratic. Fortunately, aiming weapons is a breeze thanks to an easy auto-aiming mechanism. The graphics is Urban Chaos are a little rough, but since the game takes place under the cover of night, its visual flaws are not glaring. The dramatic music is quite intense, and the sound effects are also effective. There are always tin cans rolling around in the streets, and cats and sirens can often be heard in the distance. Unfortunately the clips of voice dialogue, which often border on silly, don't sound as clean as they should be. You can actually hear annoying "tick" sounds between the sound bites. Urban Chaos still manages to be mildly entertaining despite its shortcomings. If you can get a handle on the control scheme, you may find its dark world a worthwhile place to visit. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.
Vampire Chronicles For Matching Service (Japan)
Publisher: Capcom (2000)
Can someone please tell me why, in God's name, was this not released in America? This terrific package combines all three Vampire Chronicle games (known as Darkstalkers in America) into one of wildest and most distinctive 2D fighters you'll ever lay eyes on. It's an occult-themed one-on-one brawler with a penchant for the absurd. The wide range of stylish, supernatural characters include traditional monsters like the vampire Dimitri, the Frankenstein clone Gollum (Japanese name), and the werewolf Gallon. The insect-like Q-Bee, the robot Phobos, and hopping corpse Lei-Lie represent some of the more bizarre participants. Most male gamers, however, seem to favor the ultra-sexy succubus Morrigan and her younger sister Lilith. Upon starting a new game, you can select from three modes (Vampire, Hunter, and Savior), each of which offer a slightly different experience. The action is exciting, frantic, and completely faithful to the arcade. There are no "juggle" moves, but I like how you can attack opponents on the ground. You'll thumb may become sore after a while, but it's well worth it. Chronicle's graphics are a work of art. The backgrounds are imaginative and atmospheric, depicting a host of weird and spooky locations. The fighters themselves employ some truly outrageous attacks that will cause your opponent to gasp, "What the [expletive] was that
?!" Some of the "out of nowhere" attacks from shape-changers like Pyron and Anakaris are admittedly cheap. An options screen lets you adjust the difficulty, and you'll definitely want to crank it up from the two-star default. Even the game's jazzy background music is outstanding. In case you're wondering what the "for matching service" part of the title means, it indicates the game originally had on-line capability in Japan. You may have missed Vampire Chronicles the first time around, but you can still enjoy it with the help of software (like DC-X), which allows you play imports on your North American console. If you crave 2D fighters, you'll want to track this one down. © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Acclaim (2000)
Vanishing Point is another really pathetic racer for the Dreamcast. The vehicles look realistic, but only two are available from the start: A sports car and an SUV. The handling is absolutely deplorable - these cars can't keep their tires on the road! You slide and fishtail all over the place from start to finish, and this isn't even a rally game! There are forty cars and nice variety of tracks that you WON'T want to open up. There's an Internet option, but if you don't like the single player game, I don't hold much hope for the online action. The music is also terrible. This is one to avoid. NOTE: I have been advised by readers that if you can persevere the putrid early stages, Vanishing Point does improve substantially. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.
Vigilante 8 - 2nd Offense
Publisher: Activision (1999)
What the heck happened here? I really enjoyed the first Vigilante 8 (Playstation), and this edition has some excellent graphics and original battle locations. So why can't I control my freakin' car?!? Neither the digital nor analog controls can prevent you from severely over-steering your vehicle, and that really stinks. And what's up with the collision detection? You can pass through some of the fences and buildings like a ghost! The futuristic "hover" power-up is an unwelcome feature, as it makes targeting enemies even more difficult. And those attack-from-above, unavoidable weapons are really a bad idea. On the positive side, the vehicles look great, and realistically take damage. Some of the battlefields, like the haunted Louisiana Bayou, are extremely unique. Too bad the pathetic control takes away the fun. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Sega (1999)
Virtua Athlete is similar to Konami's Track and Field for the Playstation, and it makes an awesome
four-player party game. There are only seven events, and they include shot put, javelin, long jump, high jump, hurdles, and two running events. The stadium backgrounds are nicely detailed, and the athletes are smoothly animated, but boy do these guys look silly. First off, it looks like they're all wearing thongs! Next, they run like a bunch of pansies! It's hard not to laugh at this game. Before each event, there are some quick instructions flashed on the screen. The controls are simple, usually involving tapping two buttons and pressing a third at the correct time. The trajectory meters are numeric only (opposed to graphical), making it difficult to judge them very well. There's not much lag time between events, and you can breeze through the game in just a few minutes. While I enjoyed the first six events, the final event is pure torture. It's the 1500-meter sprint, but it feels like 15 miles. You really need to pace yourself. If you sprint ahead, you'll find soon find yourself languishing in last place. Virtua Athlete has a unique feature that let you build your own athlete and storing him to VMU, which is pretty neat. Overall this game is mediocre in many ways, but it's an absolute riot if you have four players. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.
Virtua Fighter 3tb
Publisher: Sega (1999)
I don't like the title of this game. One reader informed me that the "tb" in Virtua Fighter 3tb stands for "team battle". How in the heck was I supposed to figure that out? Virtua Fighter 3tb isn't bad, but it suffers in comparison to other flashy DC fighters like Soul Calibur
or Dead or Alive 2
. In fact, VF3tb has long been regarded as the redheaded stepchild of DC fighting games. The graphics alone will probably scare a lot of people off. The angular haircuts and stiff movements make this look more like a Playstation Tekken game. And let's not forget the real
test of graphic quality in a game like this: How good-looking are the babes? Well I'm sorry to report that the obligatory blonde femme fatale is a real dog. She looks like she fell off the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down. The stages are more impressive, featuring platforms you can get knocked off of. We're talking about rooftops, subway platforms, floating rafts, and other uneven raised surfaces. The scenery looks terrific, and the "ring out" possibilities keep the tension high. In terms of pure gameplay, VF3tb is no slouch. The buttons are punch, kick, guard, and evade. The emphasis on defense is sure to appeal to the strategy-minded gamer. The action is a bit sluggish compared to other fighters, but the fighter movements are smooth. One interesting new feature is the "first person" camera angle, but as it turns out, it's pretty worthless. And who did the announcing in this game, Marv Albert? Virtua Fighter fans will force themselves to like this game, but in truth, this is not a standout Dreamcast fighter. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Sega (1999)
As one of just two soccer titles released for the Dreamcast (in the states at least), Virtua Striker 2 boasts bright arcade graphics, simple controls, and large polygon players. The close camera limits your view, but a radar display on the bottom of the screen (which you will never use) lets you locate players around the field. You view the action from the side, but nifty close-ups are used for special situations like free kicks. The upbeat music is appealing and the crowd volume ebbs and flows with the action. So why am I not having more fun? Well, it starts and ends with the controls. The analog stick is inexplicably not supported
, forcing you to use the D-pad, and the lack of precision is glaring when taking shots on goal. Worse yet, the controls are so unresponsive that my friend Brent thought the CPU
was controlling his player. There's no commentary, and the replays that add a rainbow-colored tail to the ball look ridiculous. I usually gravitate toward arcade-style sport titles, but Virtua Striker 2 was a lazy effort on Sega's part. © Copyright 2013 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Sega (2000)
Just when you thought Sega Sports was running out of steam, they release the first great Tennis game in AGES. And when I say ages, I'm not exaggerating! You can go all the way back to Activision's 1982 Tennis game for the last truly fun Tennis title. What's even more surprising is how simple Virtua Tennis is to play; there are only two buttons: shot and lob! The key to this game is positioning, and it's amazing how much control you have over your hits. You control the aim, strength, and can even apply spin! As you would expect from the Dreamcast, the graphics are smooth and life-like. You can choose between eight actual tennis players (all men). From a distance they look great, but close ups reveal faces that resemble Frankenstein with Chewbacca teeth. The background graphics and sound are fine but you won't notice them because they take a backseat to the outstanding gameplay. There are several modes, including 4-player doubles matches and a tournament mode which is full of fun mini-games. Here's something you might not notice: when you're playing the game, check out your VMU screen. You can watch the game on the VMU also!! It may not be practical, but it looks amazing! No question about it: Virtua Tennis IS the best tennis video game EVER, and easily one of the most thrilling multi-player games of all time. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.
Virtual On: Oratorio Tangram
Publisher: Sega (2000)
Rating: Teen (animated violence)
Virtual On: Oratorio Tangram (pronounced "Ontario" - by me
) is a one-on-one robot fighter designed to be played with the Dreamcast "twin stick". This special controller was only released in Japan, but since the hardware is "region-free" anyone can play this game how it was meant to be played. Even with the special controller however, Virtual On is underwhelming. You get a selection of humanoid robots, each with a Dreamcast console mounted to their back. Some of these hulking mechs are heavy with armor, and others are light and nimble. I prefer the green "Skeletor" dude with blades for fingers. The variety of robots didn't dawn on me until my friend Scott exclaimed "Oooh
- I want to be a girl
robot!" Each bout takes place on constrained battlefields like an aircraft carrier, airport, or space station. These locations tend to be flat and pretty boring. There are a few blocky obstacles to take cover behind, but mostly they just get in the way. There's no English instructions for using the twin sticks, but the game's "attract mode" visually demonstrates how the sticks are used. You can move (or dash) in any direction, turn in place, jump, or guard (close range only). Each stick has two buttons, and there's a wide range of offensive and evasive maneuvers. The fights tend to be confusing cat-and-mouse affairs as both robots dart around while unleashing projectiles all over the place. It's easy to lose sight of your opponent, but you can easily re-acquire him by rising above the battlefield (spread the sticks apart). Close proximity enables melee moves, but the tight camerawork makes it hard to tell what the [expletive] is going on. The battles tend to last less than a minute, ending with enjoyable animations of the loser crumbling to the ground. The game then plays a slow-motion replay of the fatal hit, but even that's
often bewildering. The goal of the single player mode is to win ten battles (including two bosses) in the least amount of time. It's no small feat. Virtual On's graphics are angular but the vibrant colors and fast action has "arcade" written all over it. The game is treated with a kind of mystical reverence by "hardcore" gamers, but this feels like a rushed port. It randomly prompts you to save without telling you why. The training mode is more like a never-ending single-player mode. Virtual On can be played with a normal controller with much difficulty!
You can bump up the grade by a letter if you own the twin stick controller, but only serious collectors will consider it a worthwhile investment. NOTE: The Japanese edition of the game also features network and customization options. It also includes a massive (75 page) manual housed in an extra-thick CD case. © Copyright 2013 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 19'28"20
1 or 2 players
Publisher: Acclaim (1999)
This clunky wrestling game is pretty mediocre by Dreamcast standards. Over 40 of your favorites are here, including The Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Kain, and the Undertaker. Each wrestler has a dramatic introduction, but most tend to run too long. The graphics are a disappointment. The polygon count of the wrestlers is pretty low, making them look plastic and artificial. Their movements are fairly smooth, but poor collision detection mars the action as body parts pass through each other on a regular basis. The instruction book does a poor job of explaining the moves and various meters, and matches often turn into punching and kicking contests. Soundwise, the shouts from the crowd are almost as idiotic as the two-man commentary. There are a tremendous number of options which all you to create you own wrestlers, customize the arenas, and even create your own Pay Per View event. WWF Attitude is not a very good game, and only wrestling fans should take a look. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Infogrames (2000)
Its title is hopelessly generic, but Wacky Races actually features Hanna-Barbara characters that many kids will recognize from the Cartoon network. I even remember a few from the Saturday mornings of my childhood. Wacky Races employs cell-shading to render cartoon visuals that look very clean and well-defined. Prior to each race you assign three weapons/power-ups to the X, Y, and B buttons. The problem is, you have no idea what purpose they serve just by looking at their icons (a birdhouse?), and the instruction manual doesn't help. The narrow tracks wind through desert roads and mountain passes, and they are hard to navigate. Some sections are so poorly defined you'll need to follow the CPU racers just to figure out where to go! That arrow at the top of the screen is meant to direct you, but it lags behind the action something terrible. The fact that the cars simply bounce across
stretches of water is completely idiotic. Making matters worse is how your vision is often obstructed by other racers, or worse - your own car! Avoid using the "creepy coup" at all costs, because the thing is so tall you can't even see the road! Once you get to know the tracks the races are moderately fun, but the rubber-band AI is atrocious. Every time I was about to finish in first place, I would be bombarded by missiles, causing me to fall back to fifth place or worse. That especially sucks in the single-player mode which requires you to finish in first place
to make any progress! The split-screen mode accommodates up to four players, but my friends were not impressed. Wacky Races represents yet another botched attempt to bring kart racing to the Dreamcast. © Copyright 2010 The Video Game Critic.
Walt Disney World Magical Racing Tour
Publisher: Eidos (2000)
This intriguing kart racer features tracks inspired by Disney attractions. The stage selection screen even looks like the Disney World theme park. You can choose from a number of classic Disney characters including Polly Roger, Otto Plugnut, and Moe Whiplash. Huh? Were Mickey and Goofy unavailable? Magical Racing Tour wisely sticks close to the Mario Kart formula, incorporating speed-boost arrows, power-slides, and coins you collect to increase you speed. The action is fast, the controls are responsive, and I love how the controller vibrates when you drive over bumpy areas. Unlike other racers that employ "rubber band physics", you can actually run away from the pack if you're skilled enough. The single-player mode begins with only one track available, and making progress is quite a challenge. It's fun to see what each track has in store. Pirates of the Caribbean is the clear highlight, featuring gorgeous scenery that will have you slowing down just to gawk. Space Mountain and Rock-N-Roll Rollercoaster are high-speed thrill rides. Splash Mountain and Jungle Cruise let you race around in speedboats. The wider courses are terrific, but too many tracks have narrow paths and sharp turns, making them hard to follow even in the single-player
mode. The disappointing Haunted Mansion and Jungle Cruise tracks feel like confusing mazes. Another complaint is that the tracks are entirely too long
. The weapon selection is okay, but I really hate the teacup which causes your vehicle to move in a very topsy-turvy manner. One power-up temporarily transforms the other racers into frogs, prompting my friend Scott to exclaim, "Dave! I can't believe you frogged
me!" One to four players are supported on the split screen, but the visuals look really murky in this mode, and the sense of speed is lacking. The soundtrack features two awesome songs: "Grim Grinning Ghosts" and "A Pirate's Life For Me". Unfortunately, "It's a Small World" plays over the menu screens, and that atrocity should probably cost the game an entire letter grade. Magical Racing Tour is a decent single-player racer, but all things considered this should have been a lot better. © Copyright 2010 The Video Game Critic.
Wind and Water Puzzle Battles
Publisher: Yuan Works (2008)
This likeable home-brew combines refreshing anime graphics with twitch puzzle action. The screen is initially full of colored blocks representing wind, fire, earth, water, and metal. You move a diamond-shaped cursor around the screen, highlighting four blocks at a time. By rotating sets of four you can create solid-colored formations, causing the blocks to burst, resulting in an avalanche that can lead to chain reactions. Once you get past the basics you'll learn how to execute "full combos" (clear an entire color) or "elementals" (burst two different colors at once). I could never fully wrap my brain around the nuances of the game, only executing chains at random. Still, Wind and Water Puzzle Battles is engrossing. The tranquil music and outstanding controls really help you get into a zone. The story mode has a charming anime style with a girl who walks you through the mechanics while engaging other characters in lighthearted dialog. The developer (Yuan) is actually a character who's trying to finish this game as you play it.
Try wrapping your brain around that
one! As you traverse the story board you'll unlock various challenges and mini-games - including an Outrun-inspired racer. There are also arcade, puzzle, and head-to-head modes with full VMU support and a nifty auto-save. It's clear the developer put a lot of TLC into this. Wind and Water Puzzle Battles has a degree of polish and attention to detail even big-budget titles lack. My friends fell in love with this game and there's a really good chance you will too. © Copyright 2016 The Video Game Critic.
World Series Baseball 2K1
Publisher: Sega (2000)
This is one gorgeous baseball game with extremely limited gameplay. The graphics are excellent and occasionally stunning, with players that move fluidly and mimic their major league counterparts. Close-ups reveal actual faces that move and even chew bubble gum. The stadiums look just like the real thing, and even the crowd looks impressive. On the downside, the players have a robotic look to them, and the creases in their uniforms are accentuated too much, which looks odd. There are some neat animations including players blowing bubbles, players congratulating each other, pitchers using the rosenbag, and catchers that visit the mound. The pitcher/batter duel is streamlined so there's no pauses between pitches. The pitching and batting controls are completely different from the traditional style, but it's a welcome change once you get the hang of it. World Series 2K1 is fast and easy to play, but lacks the control of ALL other baseball games. Fielding is automatic - that's right - you only control the throws, and even those are unresponsive at times. Not being able to control the fielders will devastate most baseball fans, who will really miss not being able to dive for balls. Other indications that this is a first-generation game include fielders that get a late jump on the ball and don't always make sound decisions. There are too many slow grounders and short pop-ups, and pitchers field way far too many batted balls. Automatic replays rarely capture the best angle, and unrealistic, 529 foot homeruns are all too common. The one-man commentary is sparse. Beware of the incomplete instruction manual, which fails to mention of how to perform basic actions like bunting or aiming your pitch. This game probably should not have been released. Better luck next year! © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.
World Series Baseball 2K2
Publisher: Sega (2001)
Last year Sega got caught with their pants down, inexplicably releasing an incomplete baseball game with no fielder control. This year I figured they'd come back strong with a robust, polished game with bells and whistles out the whazoo, but it didn't take me long to start picking this game apart. For an arcade-style baseball game, World Series 2K2 doesn't have any glaring flaws, but it does have a huge number of glitches and minor problems. First, the ball moves too quickly off the bat, making it difficult to flag down grounders or stretch a hit into a double, and outfielders can throw out runners they would never have caught in real life. Players sometimes forget to reach for balls or tag runners, and if they're running away towards the fence, they'll catch the ball with their backs! I actually saw a ball that bounced on the ground ruled a fly out! Pitchers field too many hits, and every play at the plate is a head-on collision. The single man commentary is incredibly boring, never adds anything to the gameplay, and often lags behind the action. Sometimes he's just plain wrong, like the time he said we were at the "half way point of the game" - in the ninth inning! And there's absolutely no drama for home runs. Graphically, the player bodies are modeled well, but their faces don't resemble their real-life counterparts at all. The crowd looks like cardboard cutouts, and the dugouts are completely empty. I think this game came out of the oven a little early. But despite all of these problems, a funny thing happened to me: I couldn't stop playing this game! I was won over by the easy-to-play, fast paced arcade action. The animation is smooth, and the stadiums look great. Thanks to the simple controls and user-friendly menu interface, I found this game strangely addicting despite its numerous flaws. In fact, I prefer this over any of the PS2 baseball games out there. And what other baseball game offers online play? © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Microprose (1999)
If you're looking for an evening of wacky hijinks and madcap hilarity, all you need is a few friends, a case of beer, and Worms Armageddon. This wacky turn-based strategy game pits up to four players against each other on colorful, randomly-generated 2D battlefields. Two or more teams of worms methodically try to exterminate each other using a vast arsenal of weapons. These range from the conventional (bazooka, grenade, uzi) to unusual (dragon punch, blow torch, baseball bat) to downright bizarre (exploding sheep, skunk, old woman). Watching the action unfold is a riot, especially since attacks cause chain reactions and unintended consequences. A 46-page (!) instruction book explains the controls, but nothing beats experience for knowing how to properly handle each weapon. Newbies are more likely to blow up themselves
than their opponents. The worms themselves are hilariously animated and sport cute names like "Tagbottom" and "Dr. Spangler." After each move they yell funny lines like "what are you, nuts?!" and "I'm dead meat!" in their high-pitched worm voices. The bass-heavy soundtrack ranges from tranquil mood music to dramatic action themes, and the surround sound totally envelops you. Competing against friends is always a blast, but the one-player modes are a drag because the CPU takes 20-30 seconds just to calculate each move. In fairness, he does tend to make pretty good decisions. The multiplayer "quick start" option is welcome because the onerous multiplayer set-up screen requires a PHD in rocket science to figure out. But the biggest knock on the game is how all players must pass around the same controller
. Despite this ridiculous oversight, Worms Armageddon is still outrageously fun. © Copyright 2015 The Video Game Critic.
Worms World Party
Publisher: Titus (2001)
Worms ranks right up there as one of the all-time great multiplayer games. The first Worms for the Dreamcast, Worms Armageddon
(Titus, 2000), was insanely fun despite the fact players had to share a single controller!
World Party addresses that horrible deficiency and delivers the same hilarious, turn-based warfare. There are even crazy new weapons like the "holy hand grenade" of Monty Python fame. A myriad of customization options are available along with support for online play. You can tweak the action in any number of ways including a shopping mall mode that showers the landscape with items, kung food which limits combat to hand-to-hand, and armageddon which takes place in a sinking toxic wasteland. The single-player modes are a little tedious since the computer takes his sweet old time, but the multiplayer action is brilliant. Backstabing is the order of the day, accidental deaths are common, and unholy alliances are formed and disbanded. Trash-talking is optional but highly recommended!
The main problem with World Party is the lack of a quick start option. The set-up screen has got to be the worst-designed interface since... well... Worms Armageddon
. A series of panels configures various aspects of the game, but navigation is a mess. With so many confusing sub-screens, non-descript icons, and inconsistent controls, set-up is a chore. Half the time you accidentally quit out to the main screen! Recently while struggling to set up a game my friends suggested it might be easier to fax a form containing our social security numbers to the developer so they might generate a 64-character code which we could enter into the game just so we could play it
. As with most Titus games, the quality control is suspect, but once the mayhem begins Worms World Party is hard to beat. © Copyright 2015 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Infogrames (2000)
You know a game's gonna be off the hook
when it drops the "E" in extreme. Xtreme Sports is a series of short races that make up to one long competition. You'll race on snowboards, hang gliders, bicycles, ATVs, and more. The first leg is snowboarding, and the sensation of careening down a steep mountain is exceptionally good. The slopes are smooth and your viewing distance is spectacular. At the bottom you'll arrive at a set of hang-gliders, and these segments prove to be the game's undoing. Instead of soaring into the big blue yonder you must hug the ground, weaving around red balloons and touching blue ones. The wind whips you all over the place and it's just really aggravating. You're prompted to hit A to dismount, but if you don't hit it at the right spot, it's game over! Should you survive, Xtreme Gamers regains some traction with a rugged ATV race which takes you to the finish. It's really amazing how the landscape "terraforms" as you race towards it, but I'm not convinced that effect was intentional. The controls could be better. Who designs analog steering that causes you to veer sharply left or right for no particular reason? The courses are peppered with big arrows signs, yet it's still
easy to get stuck in outlying areas. One nice feature is how the game tells you how many seconds you're running behind (or ahead) at each checkpoint. The announcer is unintentionally hilarious. Once when I dismounted late from my glider he exclaimed "Beautiful!
You failed man." After another race he yelled "You got a gold medal! You gotta
do better than that!
" The game packs some solid techno beats, but the voice samples talking about nuclear detonation and atomic fallout are kind of weird. The two-player split-screen is decent and high scores are saved to VMU along with initials. Xtreme Sports has a nice concept with plenty of variety and nice visuals. But as with many third-party Dreamcast titles, it feels more than a little undercooked. © Copyright 2015 The Video Game Critic.
Zero Gunner 2 (Japan)
Publisher: Psikyo (2001)
The fact that this magnificent shooter never reached the shores of America is a crime
. Dreamcast import fans have been extolling this game for years, and for once, you can believe the hype.
Zero Gunner 2 excels in every way imaginable, combining first-rate 2D shooting with absolutely stunning visuals. Unlike most shooters which are ported from the arcade, this one uses the entire screen. You command a helicopter that unleashes of steady stream of thin missiles against cannons, boats, jets, and stealth bombers. The bosses typically begin as oversized vehicles (like an airplane or sub) but gradually transform into flying robots via brief cut-scenes. One particularly memorable boss engages you as he climbs between two buildings, and the animation looks spectacular. You have three different helicopters to choose from, and frequent power-up icons increase your firepower to obscene levels. The control scheme is boldly original. By holding in the B button, you rotate your helicopter 360 degrees, allowing you to aim at any part of the screen.
This comes in handy during boss encounters when the screen begins scrolling every which way. It's great fun to circle an adversary and pound him relentlessly while remaining just
out of his range. Another original concept is how icons gravitate towards you when you stop firing. And it's refreshing how "bumping" into enemies does not
cause you to explode on contact. Visually, Zero Gunner 2 is a marvel. As you buzz oilrigs, skyscrapers, and rocky gorges, the camera treats you to some breathtaking views. The smooth, polished 3D graphics show no sign of frame-rate stutters or slow-down, with the exception of the some of the larger, more jarring explosions. The techno soundtrack is decent, but tends to get lost in the frantic action. Another pleasant surprise is the reasonable difficulty level. The normal setting is relatively easy so you'll get to see a lot of the game without having to use continues. And the bosses never overstay their welcome. Two people can play at once, high scores are saved automatically, and as icing on the cake, you can save your best game to VMU and replay it later! Zero Gunner 2 is not a cheap import, but if you're a real Dreamcast fanatic this one might just be worth breaking your piggy bank for (just be sure your machine can play imports first). © Copyright 2009 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Sega (1999)
Rating: Mature (17+) Animated blood, gore, violence
Zombie Revenge plays like a third-person House of the Dead, with one or two players fighting zombies and plant monsters in factories and sewers. The generic name is fitting, because Sega clearly didn't put a lot of thought or effort into this title. Still, I like its arcade-style mayhem, which combines fast-paced action with well-defined visuals and crisp controls. In addition to shotguns and machine guns, your weapon selection includes a devastating flamethrower and massive drill. When you run out of ammo (a rare occasion, trust me), don't lose heart because your punches deal as much damage as bullets! The shambling zombies look pretty standard, but I have to give some of these bosses props for being so morbidly grotesque. At its best, Zombie Revenge feels like a 3D Streets of Rage, especially with two players fighting side-by-side. Enjoy it while it lasts, because the ride is short and very linear. There may be a few hidden rooms to discover, but the main route is always the same. Extra modes include "boss battle" and "training", but the only one I found worthwhile was the "original" mode, which offers a remix of the standard arcade mode. Two VMU games are also included (Zombie Fishing and a memory game), but these won't hold your attention for long. Sega should have added more meat to the main game, but Zombie Revenge is still good for some quick, lightweight fun. © Copyright 2008 The Video Game Critic.
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