T2: The Arcade Game
Publisher: Acclaim (1992)
With its Terminator 2 license and rapid-fire mayhem, you'd expect this to be the ultimate light gun game. How could it not
be? Well, let me tell you. Designed for use with the Sega Menacer, T2: The Arcade Game is action-packed but repetitive and hard. In the opening stage you're shooting "endoskeletons" and flying craft on a post-apocalyptic battlefield. The graphics are grainy but there's no slowdown. Ammo is found in boxes at the bottom of the screen, and there's enough that you can spray bullets non-stop. It's fun to blast the heads off Terminators and shoot down flying aircraft. I love how the aircraft catch fire when damaged, but their explosions look totally fake. The massive tank boss looks awesome but he requires about 1000 shots
to destroy. I wish
I was exaggerating! I prefer the second stage which is set in the human hideout. In addition to shooting the flesh off of Arnold's face, you can destroy scenery to reveal power-ups. The flying robots are kind of a pain in the ass, but at least you don't have to contend with a boss. In stage three you must protect a truck from endoskeletons and flying craft, and it's an exercise in futility. The flying craft move across the screen too fast to shoot down, and when you focus on terminators in the foreground, you end up damaging the truck! T2 allows for cooperative play which is highly recommended. Only one person can use the Menacer, but that works out fine since it's not very accurate near the left side on the screen. The game has some digitized speech ("I'll be back") but it's very understated. Some sound effects are laughable, like when the T2 logo slams down and sounds more like a tin can than crashing steel. T2: The Arcade Game is a disappointment, but it still edges out the SNES version. © Copyright 2012 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 1,714,000
1 or 2 players
TNN Outdoors Bass Tournament '96
Publisher: ASC (1996)
Would you like to know the difference between this game and a mosquito? At some point, a mosquito will stop sucking
! This game never
will!! Playing TNN Outdoors Bass Tournament is especially painful once you've been spoiled by modern, arcade-style fishing titles like Sega Bass Fishing (Dreamcast). In those games, the fish are practically jumping into
the boat, but they'll be none of that here. No, TNN captures the excitement of actual
fishing - which is to say, there is none. The menu interface and controls are well organized, but there's little action and minimal payoff. Locating a fish isn't too tough thanks to your handy fish-finder, but getting its attention is another story. Until you find the perfect combination of line, rod, and lure, that fish won't give you the time of day. And is it just me or do these fish look more like roaches? The underwater scenery consists of fake-looking logs and rocks that resemble human brains. I've only seen one fish actually caught in this game - my friend Scott caught a "crappie" - which seems oddly appropriate. The game includes a timer on the bottom of the screen to keep track of how much of your life you've wasted
. The background music has a country twang I didn't find appealing - I'm still holding out for a good rap-themed fishing game. TNN Outdoors Bass Tournament is seriously lame. Was it even necessary to mention "Outdoors" in the title? Is there some bizarre indoor
bass fishing sport I'm not familiar with? Kick this one to the curb and stick with King Salmon. © Copyright 2005 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Dreamworks (1990)
Target Earth was recommended by one enthusiastic reader who claimed to have fond memories of the game. Isn't it amazing how nostalgia can impair a gamer's judgment!? Sorry dude, but Target Earth is pretty bad. As an early Genesis shooter, this one shows its age with confusing mission objectives, a tedious user interface, and generally poor gameplay. Controlling a high-jumping robot on a side-scrolling screen, you trek over hills and through bases while blasting enemy robots on the ground and ships in the air. You select your weapons at the beginning of each stage, but most are terribly weak. The only one I found remotely effective was the three-way shot, and that tends to run out of ammo in a hurry. Most of the others are too slow to deal with the relentless onslaught. Making matters worse, the trajectory of your shots doesn't match the slope of the hills, so you can never get a clean shot at approaching enemies. Cycling through your weapons using the C button is also a hassle. The action periodically comes to a screeching halt when you're radioed by headquarters, forcing you to page through a bunch of tedious text that cannot
be skipped. But the thing I hate most of all about Target Earth is all of the random robots scampering around - you can't tell the good ones from the bad! Color is never a reliable indicator, making the game one big confusing mess. The graphics are below average, and the musical score is as generic as they come. I'm sure some gamers will have enough patience (and nostalgia) to appreciate the subtle nuances Target Earth has to offer, but casual gamers will be well advised to avoid it. © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.
Task Force Harrier EX
Publisher: Treco (1991)
This obscure vertical shooter is nearly as fun to mock as it is to play. The intro depicts a pilot in a plane who appears to be playing with himself. The guy outside signaling for take-off looks completely disinterested, and the girl briefing you on your video screen looks like she's 12 years old. Once in the air an effeminate male voice exclaims "Commence operations!"
Who did they hire for the voice acting, Richard Simmons?
The first stage doesn't look much. In fact, the red, white, and cyan color scheme triggered flashbacks of my old PC outfitted with a CGA graphics card. I know my Genesis is capable of displaying more than four colors at a time, but you'd hardly know it from looking at this game. Most of the missions take place in cold, bland environments with white trees and icy blue waters. The gameplay however is far more impressive. Task Force Harrier is clearly descended from Xevious, as your plane fires missiles and drops bombs at the same time. Enemies are of the standard cannon/tank/helicopter variety. Your firepower is formidable from the get-go, and you have two escort planes. The A button initiates rapid-fire (both missiles and bombs) and B lets you reconfigure your escort formation. The spread formation provides the most coverage, but you'll want to pull them in tight to fire down the throat of a boss. Your bombs drop a short distance ahead of you, so you'll need to carefully position your plane to take our ground installations. There seems to be a weird delay between when your bombs explode on the ground and when the targets are destroyed. The clanking effects of missiles striking enemy armor are grating, but the edgy 16-bit tunes are good. The game also tries to incorporate some scaling effects but they are not the least bit convincing. Still, Task Force Harrier is great fun on the strength of its non-stop action and crazy firepower. Frankly I am astounded by the level of kick-ass this old-school shooter serves up. © Copyright 2011 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 538,300
Publisher: Sega (1992)
Back in 1992 my buddy Eric and I ran out to buy this game shortly after seeing the TV commercial. "Wow! Did you see those graphics? It's like watching a freakin' cartoon!
" Yes, the main character looks exceptional, but playing this game is a colossal pain in the ass. Packed with every annoying platform gimmick conceived by game designers who didn't know any better, this is the Irritable Bowel Syndrome
of games. The level designs are a nightmare.
Within the first ten seconds
you'll find yourself wallowing in quicksand
while being attacked by invincible
block-headed creatures! It's never clear where you're supposed to go, and you'll absorb one mandatory hit after the next trying to find out. Calling the jumping controls "imprecise" would be far too kind, and omnipresent spikes frequently spell instant death. Worst of all, you're expected to make blind "leaps of faith" off the side of the screen and hope
there's a safe place to land. It doesn't help that Taz eats everything he touches, so if you hop down and there's a bomb there, he'll eat it and die. The locales are highly unoriginal with the obligatory desert, jungle, and ice stages. But the worst of the bunch is the wretched mine stage, where you're forced to jump between moving
elevators that are off the screen!
I can't believe I even got that
far. The baddies are freakish monsters, and some look like the face-grabbers from the Alien movies. Taz's spin attack is fun to use, but it's only effective on the weakest creatures. I like the subtle background music, which sounds like an old Saturday morning cartoon, but that's negated by the non-stop sound effects which are incredibly grating. My best memory of Taz Mania is when Eric and I made some serious cash ($28 each!) by selling our copies to the Game Trader store. Considering they had piles
of used Taz games behind the counter, we felt like two bank robbers leaving that place. © Copyright 2009 The Video Game Critic.
Taz in Escape From Mars
Publisher: Sega (1994)
This ill-advised sequel is just as bad as the first Taz-Mania game. This time Taz has been transported to Mars where he must contend with aliens, teleporters, and some of the most obnoxious, unimaginative stages ever devised. Who knew
that the planet of Mars was completely covered with spikes?
Taz can break through walls, burrow through dirt, and bounce up narrow openings, but rest assured there's always a set of deadly spikes waiting to bring the fun to an abrupt conclusion. You would have thought the designers would have learned something since the first game, but no, you're still
expected to leap off the screen into unseen areas (and hope for the best). And yes, the controls still suck. Sometimes you'll carefully hop onto a narrow platform only to be knocked into spikes by a small flying creature. Taz can use his spin attack on aliens, but they can absorb several hits, so Taz usually finds himself bouncing off of them - and back into the spikes!
You can pass through the floors of certain platforms, but it's never clear which ones are like that. Taz eats anything he touches, and bombs tend to be positioned in tight areas that make them hard to avoid. In addition to Mars, the diverse set of stages includes a haunted castle, Mexico, and a planet called "Mole World". Were these left over from the last game or something?? The backgrounds are flat, static, and forgettable. Whoever made this game was just going through the motions, and that's how you'll
feel when you play it! © Copyright 2009 The Video Game Critic.
Tecmo Super Baseball
Publisher: Tecmo (1994)
This ambitious game is overflowing with features - too bad it failed to get the fundamentals right! Tecmo Super Baseball offers major league players and teams, player photos (albeit in grainy black and white), a slew of playing modes, and even the ability to manage
your team instead of controlling the players. The controls are more robust than most Genesis baseball games. You can check your swing, sustain injury, throw a pitch-out, slide headfirst, adjust your defense, and intentionally walk a batter. The pitcher/batter screen can be viewed from either behind the batter or
behind the pitcher, and both are equally playable. On top of it all, the game tracks both team and player statistics. Tecmo was trying to create the ultimate baseball game, but they messed up on some very basic things. The batting controls are unresponsive, forcing you to swing extremely early if you want a chance to make contact. The outfielders are selected for you automatically, but the CPU often chooses the wrong player. Sometimes there's a shallow pop-up over second base and the game selects the center fielder
, located far off the screen. The computer opponent is dumb, walking pitchers and trying to stretch every hit into a double. The players look realistic in general, but the pitcher looks too big on the mound. Finally, although the umpire's voice is clear enough, I've never heard an umpire yell "Strike three - you stink!" like he does in this game. Tecmo Super Baseball had potential, but it only amounts to a long foul ball. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.
Tecmo Super Bowl
Publisher: Tecmo (1993)
This entertaining arcade-style football game was largely overshadowed by Madden, which dominated the Genesis year after year. Tecmo Super Bowl is faithful to the stellar NES version, almost to a fault. The graphics aren't much better, and the controls are exactly the same. Only two buttons are used on the controller, mirroring the NES control scheme. While some might consider this lack of innovation somewhat of a letdown, Super Bowl still delivers the same addictive Tecmo action that ruled the NES. The side view of the field gives you a good vantage point, except for receivers running off the screen when they going deep. The gameplay is easy to learn, and I love how tapping a button lets you to break tackles. Incomplete passes are always tipped into the air, but unfortunately you can't snag them. Exciting cut scenes accentuate diving catches, sacks, field goals, and celebrations. During field goals you get a terrific view of the ball passing through the uprights from a number of angles. In the proud tradition of the series, there's an entertaining halftime show with jumping cheerleaders and an air show. A battery backup saves your season mode and statistical data. If there's a flaw to be found with Tecmo Super Bowl, it lies in the audio. The obnoxious music is far less endearing than the quaint NES tunes, and the voice synthesis is awful. All in all, this is still the Tecmo Football you've always loved, although it's really no better than the old NES version. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.
Tecmo Super Bowl III: Final Edition
Publisher: Tecmo (1993)
Super Bowl III offers more realism than previous Tecmo football titles, perhaps in an attempt to compete with the Madden series. Unfortunately, this added depth takes its toll on the fun factor. What made the Tecmo series so popular in the first place was its fast, arcade-style gameplay, but Super Bowl III feels uncharacteristically slow and laborious. Although the action is still viewed from the side, the graphics have been given a complete overhaul. The players appear more lifelike and the field more realistic, but the visuals lack the polish of past Tecmo games. There are some nifty new options, including weather conditions, injuries on/off, fumbles on/off, and three stadiums, including a baseball stadium with a diamond in the center. Other bells and whistles include digitized player photos and measures for first downs. Sadly, Tecmo's trademark halftime shows are nowhere to be found. Super Bowl III's basic gameplay is the same as previous editions, but there's a cool new hurdle move and the quarterback throws the ball with more zip. Unfortunately, you can't see as much of the field, and this makes selecting an open receiver more difficult. But the biggest change involves a new play selection system. You have a lot more plays to choose from, but the clunky user interface is slow, unresponsive, and hard to read. As a result, selecting your play is a chore. Playing against the computer is also a headache, as he takes forever to hike the friggin' ball (after yelling "hut" about ten times). The audio is less than appealing, with its grating music and scratchy voices. Tecmo Super Bowl III still has that winning gameplay at its core, but it lacks the charm and simplicity of the original. Note: A reader advised me that this was called "Final Edition" because Tecmo planned to continue the series on the Playstation, but that turned out to be a real dog (thanks AK). © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Hyperstone Heist
Publisher: Konami (1992)
When you compare Hyperstone Heist to the superior Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time
(SNES, 1992), the limitations of the Genesis system become readily apparent. This game doesn't offer nearly the same degree of "eye candy"; both the characters and backgrounds look dull and indistinct. The fancy scaling effects of the SNES version are missing, and the audio takes a huge
hit. Sure the catchy turtle theme sounds fine, but the distorted voice samples will make you cringe
- they are so
awful, I could barely understand them! In terms of gameplay, Hyperstone Heist is your standard two-player, side-scrolling beat-em-up, only faster. The same set of hooded ninjas drop out of the sky time after time, only in different colored outfits. The action is repetitive unless you mix up your attacks, but I do like how you can punch out three goons at the same time. Still, it's lame how defeated thugs simply vanish in a puff of smoke. Occasionally a power-up or exploding barrel will spice up the action, but these are few and far between. Dispatching those endless ninjas is mindless fun, but defeating the bosses requires some actual thought. Until you recognize their attack patterns, you'll go through your lives in a hurry. I love how the bosses blink red when they're about to die - now that's
old school! The scenery is none too exciting, and I'm now convinced that sewers are the most boring places
on earth to battle in. Other generic locations include city streets, a ghost ship, and Shredder's headquarters. Hyperstone Heist is no prize, but if you haven't been spoiled by the superior SNES game, it's not a bad way to pass the time. © Copyright 2005 The Video Game Critic.
Terminator 2: Judgement Day
Publisher: Acclaim (1993)
The highlight of Judgment Day may be its animated intro showing Arnold arriving at a truck stop buck-naked. As he walks toward the building it's hilarious how objects like fences and motorcycles are perfectly placed to obscure his private parts. Once the action begins, disappointment may set in. In contrast to the smooth arcade look of the first Terminator (Virgin, 1992) game, Terminator 2 contains small, pixelated characters that move in a choppy manner. Your first objective is to locate several critical items at the bar including John Connor's address. Well-armed bikers pour out of the woodwork, and at first you can only dish out weak punches and kicks. Eventually you'll pick up a shotgun, but it doesn't slow their relentless assault. Fortunately a Terminator can take a lot
of damage. In the second stage you drive around on a motorcycle looking for John Connor's house. The high overhead view makes you look like a little flea whizzing down the streets and bouncing off of cars. It's a little cheesy but provides a nice change of pace. Once at John Connor's house you'll want to shoot the red alarm box on the side of the house or being forced to play the entire stage while listening to a blaring siren. Pretty soon you begin having run-ins with the T-1000, who tends to dissolve into melted metal after you pump him full of lead. The stages tend to alternate between building searches and driving sequences. There are two elements that keep this game respectable. First, I like how it follows the storyline of the movie and lets you explore memorable locations like the mall, the mental hospital, and Cyberdyne headquarters. Second, I love how you can blow [expletive] up. Whereever you go, you have plenty of firepower and much of the scenery is destructible, including cars, cash registers, windows, and even arcade games. I especially enjoyed going on a rampage in the mall. When you shoot people they keel over and the screen displays the message "non-life-threatening injuries" to be consistent with the film. When you finally die, you witness one of the longest death sequences ever
as Arnold repeatedly struggles to pick himself back up. If that's not bad enough, you're then subjected to digitized pictures of a burning playground while being informed that you're responsible for the loss of 3 billion lives. What ever happened to "thank you for playing"? © Copyright 2013 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Virgin (1992)
This platform-shooter is suspect, but it does take full advantage of its Terminator license, recreating key locations and plot twists from the classic film. Playing the role of Kyle Reese, you'll battle through a Terminator lair, a police station, the Tech Noir bar, and the factory where the film's climax occurs. How could this game not be awesome? Well, the opening stage is absolutely horrendous in terms of design. You find yourself in the post-apocalyptic future, and right off the bat you encounter a huge robot-tank that bombards you with laser blasts. I can't believe
this is the first thing you face. This game has no concept of ramping difficulty. Once you enter the underground lair, Terminators pour out of the woodwork, which might be alarming if they weren't so easily destroyed. In the movie it took every ounce of effort to destroy a single Terminator, but here you mow them down like grass. Stage one is confusing. It's not clear what you're supposed to do, and if not for a YouTube video I might still be stuck. That's a shame because there's a lot to see in this game. The graphics have an arcade quality and digitized photos are displayed between stages. In the city street stage you'll actually see a poster for the Terminator movie! The Tech Noir bar looks fantastic with its colorful neon lights. It's cool how the game follows the storyline of the film, but the gameplay is frustrating. Since you play good guy Kyle Reese, you can't really kill any people, but everybody is out to kill you
, including the entire police department. I like how you can scoot up ladders quickly, but I hate how you can't jump and shoot at the same time. The game is buggy too. In one case a robot got stuck and it sounded like a record scratching for the rest of the stage. There are zero continues so you'll want to set the difficulty to easy. I can't imagine
playing this on "very hard". If you own a Game Genie, you can breeze through the entire game in under 20 minutes. If you don't have one, you're in for a world of hurt. Good luck! © Copyright 2012 The Video Game Critic.
Recommended variation: easy
Our high score: EVV 44000
Publisher: Fox Interactive (1994)
As a long-time Streets of Rage fan I'm constantly on the look-out for a good side-scrolling brawler. For the first few minutes of playing The Tick I was absolutely loving
it. The game boasts crisp controls, smooth animation, colorful locations, and best of all - ninjas!
The action takes place entirely at night and incorporates some beautiful city skylines. The muscle-bound star of the game is a whimsical superhero with some hilariously flamboyant mannerisms, like when he flutters through the air like a ballerina. His basic attacks are punch and kick, but sometimes he'll slam an enemy into the ground or "flick" them with his finger as the final blow. The ninjas are very predictable and you can knock weapons out of their hands before kicking them off rooftops. One very unique feature is your ability to fight back-to-back with a partner, with both of you kicking and punching in unison. Should you fall from a building rooftop, instead of dying you're thrust into a "subplot" encounter with a special bad guy in the alley below. The game lacks traditional bosses. It's fun to play for score, but once you start using continues The Tick loses its luster. The main problem is the endless parade of repetitive enemies. They appear in groups of three or four, and after you dispose of those the exact same group will re-enter. This just goes on and on. Worse yet, the enemies aren't particularly aggressive, so beating them up gets boring. On rare occasions you can throw an object like a mailbox, but there's not enough of that. Eventually your arm starts to ache from constant button-tapping and you start to grow weary. The Tick has the right ingredients but not enough variety to hold the player's interest. © Copyright 2014 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 6300
Thunder Force II
Publisher: Sega (1989)
This was the first game of the classic Thunder Force series of shooters to be released in the U.S. Thunder Force 2 alternates between overhead and side-view stages. The overhead stages aren't too hot. You can fly in four directions, but this freedom presents a problem: where are you supposed to go? You can blow up everything in sight and open gates to access new areas, but your final objective is never quite clear. Finally I figured out that you need to destroy all the enemy fortresses to advance to the next stage. When I finally reached level 2, the REAL fun began. There's some great side-scrolling shooting action here, with all kinds of cool weapons. You'll get six continues to make it through nine excessively hard levels. Thunder Force 2 isn't great, but it set the stage for superior Thunder Force 3. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.
Thunder Force III
Publisher: Sega (1990)
In 1992 my buddy Tuan lent me this game after he borrowed it from his uncle. I remember we couldn't get over how good it was. In retrospect Thunder Force III is probably one of the best shooters of all time
. Unlike most side-scrolling shooters which confront you with repetitive waves, Thunder Force III is full of surprises. The A button controls your speed, B engages rapid-fire, and C toggles your weapons. You accumulate weapons and each excels under particular circumstances. For example, missiles are great in caves because they hug rocky surfaces to clear any cannon fortifications. The claw ratchets up your firepower with two rotating satellites that also absorb incoming missiles. Losing a ship costs you your current weapon, so it's good strategy to hold off using your best weapon until it's really needed. The stage select is a tremendous feature considering the diversity of the stages. There's a jungle planet, a coral reef, a raging inferno, icy mountain ridges, and a subterranean world with shifting tectonic plates. Varied adversaries include flaming birds, wasps, serpents, nautili, and fireball-spewing roses. The graphics are clean and attractive, but the music is monumental
. Only Streets of Rage
(Genesis, 1991) could give this soundtrack a run for the money on the Genesis. These high-energy, harmonized tunes drive the action like a turbine engine
. I love the sound of shots beating against enemies like rain on a tin roof. Bosses include a dragon, twin robots, a one-eyed fish, and the mighty "G Lobster". You could argue there are cheap hits like lava geysers and dropping rocks, but most are preceded by some sort of audio/visual cue. The control, pacing, balance, and challenge are spot-on. Modern shooters could learn a lot from Thunder Force III. © Copyright 2017 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 158,720
Publisher: Taito (1991)
If you like old-school Rambo-style fun you'll dig Thunder Fox. In "199X" terrorists have taken over the world and the only hope is a two-man "anti-terrorist team". The game lets you play as one of two characters: Thunder or Fox. Thunder is supposed to be more skilled in firearms (versus hand-to-hand combat) but I couldn't tell the difference. As you march across the side-scrolling landscape you're approached by soldiers with knives. You can stab them or use your jump-kick to dispose of several at once. Soon you'll find a flamethrower or machine gun, and that's when the real fun begins. You get plenty of ammo and it's satisfying to mow down enemies as soon as they enter the screen. The controls are kind of weird, with A to attack, B to jump, and C to shoot. You'll find yourself instinctively pressing A to shoot, prompting the question "why in the [expletive] am I trying to bludgeon enemies with a rocket launcher!?
" The bullets in this game move sooo
slowly it's comical. Am I shooting bullets or throwing
them? You'll also laugh at the falling bombs that inexplicably slow down
before hitting the ground, giving you plenty of time to run for cover. The stages are generic but it's interesting how in the airship level if you walk in front of an open door you get sucked out! The advanced stages are tough because the cannons and soldiers create some serious crossfire. The sound effects in Thunder Fox are muffled and enemies tend to fall the wrong way. The fact that the game is so cheesy makes it more endearing, but my friends expressly forbid me from going any higher than a C-. © Copyright 2015 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 65,400
Publisher: Sirata (1993)
Rating: Mature (blood and gore)
When you eavesdrop on a conversation about bad video games, you'll typically hear titles mentioned like ET for the Atari 2600, Superman for the Nintendo 64, and Time Killers for the Genesis. This ill-conceived one-on-one fighter is best known for its severed limbs and decapitations. It sounds like Mortal Kombat, but Time Killers has more in common with Eternal Champions
(Sega, 1993). Its eight time-traveling gladiators include Thugg the caveman, Lord Wulf the knight, and a chainsaw-wielding punk named Rancid. The fighters are surprisingly small and cartoonish for a mature-rated title. The colorful backgrounds are not spectacular, but the looming castle, pirate ship, and Blade Runner stages are mildly interesting. The stage with the dead T-Rex is somewhat disturbing. A six-button control pad is required to play, and the controls seem inordinately complicated, with button functions like "weapon leg", "back arm", and "head". The manual provides a list of moves for each fighter, but it's hard to tell if you're executing them correctly. Unlike other fighting games, your health bar actually grows
as you incur damage. Time Killers is violent, but its cartoonish graphics are too goofy to offend. When a limb goes flying, it rarely affects your ability to fight, although the maimed player does tend to inflict less damage. Losing both arms turns you into a kicking maniac, and getting your head chopped off really hurts your chances of victory. Occasionally one fighter goes buck-wild and slices up the other like a Vege-matic, and it's fun to watch. The game's obligatory boss is Death himself, but this grim reaper transforms into a skinny Samurai when fighting, and that looks dumb. Death is also pretty cheap, spawning a new life bar whenever you have him on the ropes. Time Killers' audio is ultra-weak. Much of the music and sound effects sound recycled from Taz Mania
(Sega, 1992), and that's not exactly high praise. The voice samples sound like a guy with emphysema clearing his throat! Time Killers might have generated some controversy in its day, except for the fact that nobody played
it. Time Killers is definitely bad, but it comes dangerously close to falling into that "so bad it's good" category. © Copyright 2010 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Sega (1991)
When I first reviewed Toejam and Earl, I gave it a pretty mediocre grade, but after taking some grief from the game's legion of devoted fans, I decided to give it a second chance. It took a few hours, but gradually Toejam and Earl did indeed grow on me. In case you've never experienced this unique title, it's a relatively slow-paced, collect-the-items experience with cheesy graphics and a really juvenile sense of humor. Toejam and Earl are two rapping space aliens searching for the ten pieces of their crashed space ship. The funky hip-hop theme is evident by their sneakers, chains, funky walks, and bass-heavy music. As one or two players roam the nondescript planet surfaces, you collect helpful (and not-so-helpful) items wrapped as presents. Examples include high-top shoes that let you sprint, a slingshot that launches tomatoes, a pogo stick, or an inner tube that lets you float in water. You'll encounter strange characters like a jetpack-wearing Santa, a woman with a screaming kid in a shopping cart, a sexy hula girl, and a guy dressed up as a carrot. These inject some humor and break up the monotony of your aimless wandering. The planet surfaces are randomly generated, but they all tend to look the same. The planet is actually composed of several planes, and it's quite easy to fall from a high one to a lower one, which is really aggravating. What I found compelling about the game is the challenge of locating all the pieces. To do so, you'll need to do a lot of exploring and use your items strategically. Toejam and Earl is time consuming and you can't save your place, so make sure you have a few hours set aside before you begin your quest. The two-player mode splits the screen so each player has his own view, and this was quite novel for 1991. The music is probably the highlight of the game. These funky tunes don't sound like much as first, but they gradually get under your skin. There's even a "Jam Out" mode where you insert samples into a mini music video, and it's surprisingly fun. The game also features some nice psychedelic effects, including a hypnotic elevator sequence. Toejam and Earl is one of those games whose sum is greater than its parts. It's not the most exciting adventure, but if you give it a chance, it might just win you over © Copyright 2008 The Video Game Critic.
Toejam and Earl Panic on Funkotron
Publisher: Sega (1993)
In this episode our funky alien friends have accidentally unleashed those disgusting humans from Earth on their home planet of Funkotron. Your job is to capture all of these obnoxious creatures and send them back. The look and gameplay are completely different from the first game - Panic is more of a traditional side-scroller. In addition to collecting items, you capture the humans by throwing magical jars at them. The visuals are fantastic, with cartoon-quality animation. Each level has a completely different look, and there are even some hidden mini-games. My favorite is the one that allows you to "jam" with funky friends by copying beat sequences they play. This is not only great fun, but it was also the precursor to later music games like Parappa the Rapper (Playstation) and Space Channel 5 (Dreamcast). The high-quality music is similar to the first game, but the sound effects are much improved. The two-player mode has been retained, although it's not as good since you must remain on the same screen as your partner. A password feature allows you to save your spot. Don't miss out on this underrated game. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.
Toki Going Ape Spit
Publisher: Sega (1991)
This odd platformer begins with an evil genetic engineer (is there another kind?) kidnapping your smokin' hot girlfriend then transforming you into the slowest monkey on earth
. And you thought you
were having a bad day! The game's title "Toki Going Ape Spit" is a lot of fun to say out loud. Please kids, try this at home! Toki's gameplay is predictable as you leap between floating platforms, duck under projectiles, and avoid assorted creatures. The jumping controls are forgiving, which minimizes the frustration factor. There are a few vine-climbing sections reminiscent of Donkey Kong Jr. but jumping between the vines can be tricky. The stage selection includes all of the obligatory climates including jungle, volcano, underwater, and ice worlds. My personal favorite is the waterfall stage with its amazing view of cliffs through a narrow rocky gorge. What makes this game special is how Toki can rapidly fire pellets from his mouth in any direction - including diagonally! Better yet, power-ups let you unleash three-way shots, flames, charged shots, and bouncing balls. This kind of firepower lets you make short work of small dinosaurs, giant moths, and huge spikes that sprout from the ground. Upon killing a spider, webbing drips from his butt, and it looks disgusting! But your worst adversary is that bouncing monkey who is a dead ringer
for Richard Nixon! Toki does have one serious flaw: too many cheap hits!
Enemies and hazards are deadly to the touch
, and there are usually several on the screen at a given time. It's too easy to hit your head on a flying object that suddenly comes into view as you jump. Worse yet, you'll drop off a platform into a bed of unseen spikes. The first stage has this rose-shaped creature that kept pouncing on my monkey ass with no warning at all! Once you get used to taking your lumps, Toki is fun to play for high score. Defeated enemies drop fruit to collect, and it's satisfying to watch your score rack up. The soundtrack is another great feature, delivering a catchy groove with an irresistible undercurrent. Toki Going Ape Spit caused me plenty of grief and frustration, but not enough to make me want to stop playing! © Copyright 2011 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 57,460
Tommy Lasorda Baseball
Publisher: Sega (1989)
For being the first Genesis baseball game, this isn't nearly as bad as I expected. Tommy Lasorda has a fast-paced, arcade quality that I like. The behind-the-batter viewpoint features large, well-animated players, and the transparent catcher looks particularly good. Once the ball is hit, the game switches to a rather cheesy overhead perspective. This doesn't exactly show off the Genesis' graphics prowess - in fact, the players look like blobs. The fielding is easy enough, but you can't jump or dive, and it's frustrating when a ground ball rolls just
out of your reach. Intuitive controls let you lead off, steal, slide, tag up, position fielders, commit errors, pinch-hit, or bring in a relief pitcher. The pitchers seem to have a big advantage over the hitters - it's hard to hit the ball! Little details mean a lot in a baseball game, and I love how you can see cars in the parking lot beyond the bleachers. Once I saw them, I was obsessed with smacking a homer in the parking lot - must be a guy thing. After hitting a homer, the umpire calls you "safe" at home plate (?) and your teammates line up to give you high-fives. Mediocre background music plays throughout the game, but thankfully you can shut this off via the options menu. You can play a season, but you'll have to jot down some long passwords. The players, teams, and stadiums are all fake, but if you like fast, arcade-style baseball, this isn't a bad choice. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.
Tony LaRussa Baseball
Publisher: Electronic Arts (1993)
Tony LaRussa Baseball was an abomination in 1993, and it still is today. Sure the menus have options and stats out the whazoo, but the gameplay is hideously slow and unbelievably choppy! I remember buying this at the local mall when it first came out and being giddy with excitement. The game comes in a heavy, thick box, and I thought for sure this would unseat Sportstalk Baseball as the best Genesis baseball game ever. But upon playing my first game, my enthusiasm soon turned to disgust! I recoiled in horror at the sight of the very first
pitch. The pitcher's windup looks okay, but the ball "blinks" about four times on the way to the catcher. At that point, only one thing was going through my mind: get back to the mall immediately and get your [expletive] money back! The fielding and running are inexcusably choppy, and during many plays it's hard to tell what the heck's going on. Tony LaRussa Baseball is a comedy of errors. The control is poor, the announcer sounds like he's choking on a hot dog, and the crowd seems oblivious to what's going on. There are numerous annoying pauses that occur for no reason in particular and slow the action to a crawl. Runners don't automatically run on base hits, and outfielders routinely throw out runners going to first base. The fields look good, but the stadiums all look the same. This is the only game I've ever seen where the pitcher spits on the mound, and it looks positively disgusting. EA had made some great football, basketball and hockey games in the early 90's. What happened with baseball? © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Electronic Arts (1995)
This is one of the better boxing games for the Genesis. It's like a semi-realistic version of Nintendo's Punch-Out, and it has a great sense of humor. Your boxer is a green outline in front of your opponent, letting you get a good view of the action. A well-designed control scheme makes it easy to throw a wide variety of punches and even special moves like a "Popeye punch" or head-butt. Unfortunately, as in many boxing games, the boxers can never punch as fast as you press the buttons, and the lag makes the control feel unresponsive. The boxers are well drawn and look only slightly cartoonish. The backgrounds, taken from different parts of the world (like the Coliseum in Rome) are extremely amusing. Not only do funny things happen in the background during the fights (like a bungee jumper on the Coliseum wall), but sometimes incidents occur after the fight (in Rome, lions attack the loser). A nice-looking babe introduces each new round. Toughman may be more fun to watch than to play. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Disney (1995)
I had high hopes for Toy Story but was disappointed by its opening stage. It's a side-scrolling level takes place in a kid's room but it's hard to tell what you can or can't jump on! That's because the foreground and background objects are not distinct from one another. Also, it seems like the most obvious ledge to jump on is always a millimeter too high. The graphics attempt to recreate the 3D style of the film but if you've played Donkey Kong Country
(SNES, 1994) you're not going to be impressed by these fuzzy characters. That said, the animation is great and I love watching those little green army men in action. The kid's room is kind of dull but scenes like the gas station and Pizza Planet arcade feature interesting scenery. The audio consists of happy-go-lucky music and less-than-clear digitized voices ("You don't want to be in the way when my laser goes off"). What saves the game is its sheer variety. There are over 20 stages and it's hard to find two that are alike. You'll put toys away, sneak around in a soda cup, and protect Buzz from the terrifying "claw". Most stages are side-scrolling, including a few races and chases. There are overhead racing levels as well, which would be a lot more fun if you didn't spin out whenever you touched something. The behind-the-back races are so impressive they'd give Super Mario Kart
(SNES, 1992) a run for the money. Perhaps the biggest surprise is the toy alien mission with its exceptionally smooth first-person corridor action. So while the stages are uneven in quality, it's always fun to see what the next one has in store. The lack of a password feature is a shame, but there is a handy code to skip levels. If nothing else, Toy Story makes you want to go back and watch the old Pixar movies, and that's got to be worth something. © Copyright 2016 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 98
Publisher: Vic Tokai (1991)
What could be better than a scantily-clad chick blasting robots? How about two
hotties blasting mechanized beasts? What if they were flying around in jetpacks?
"Shut. Up. You had me at scantily clad." Madison is the blonde who always faces forward, and Crystal is the brunette who always has her back. Pressing C lets you toggle Crystal's direction, so you can blast enemies sneaking up from behind or focus all your firepower ahead. It's a unique system that's surprisingly effective. You also have a special weapon (read: smart bomb), and I like how it recharges over time. The first stage takes place in a bright city, and the layered scenery looks terrific. It's cool how you can see glimpses of the skyline behind the highway overpass. The later stages are less appealing however, and some are downright claustrophobic. Trouble Shooter is tough because a pair of chicks make for a large target. You'll go up against whimsical enemies like terminator fish, penguins with propellers, and Megaman-style robots. This game would seem ideal for two-player action, but it's one-player only. The background story is ridiculous and the music is wacky, but Trouble Shooter has personality and its tongue-in-cheek style is just plain fun. © Copyright 2012 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 179,120
Troy Aikman Football
Publisher: Tradewest (1993)
Did Tradewest really think THIS could compete with Madden? Troy Aikman Football tries to emulate the winning Madden formula, but falls flat in almost every regard. The players look somewhat realistic, but their movements are so choppy that it's hard to tell what the heck is going on! In addition to the poor frame rate, there's quite a bit of breakup in the graphics. It's not unusual to see a player running around with no legs! You don't have much control over pass receptions, and there are an inordinate number of tipped passes. If you need a few extra yards, your best bet is to dive - these guys can leap 10-15 yards!! All the NFL teams are included, but only one actual player (guess who?). The audio is particularly dreadful. The crowd sounds like a weak faucet, and the unenthusiastic commentator sounds like he'd rather be somewhere else (like a Madden game maybe?). With so many other good football games for the Genesis, this really can't compete. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Sega (1989)
How good can a generic old vertical shooter be? Pretty [expletive] good! Truxton won't knock your socks off with visual pizzazz, but if you give it a chance, you'll be hooked!
The opening waves seem rather generic as you wipe out red planes that approach in predictable patterns. The difficulty ramps nicely however, and once you reach the well-fortified space stations things really heat up. The oversized enemies assume some interesting forms that are really hard to describe (is that a light bulb?
). Chattering Terminator heads contain power-ups, and I like that!
Three weapons include wide-spraying missiles, concentrated green lasers, and blue electrical charges that latch onto stuff. The C button functions as rapid-fire - a feature I always hold near and dear to my heart. Each weapon has three levels, and trying to power-up one up to its fullest extent becomes an obsession in of itself! The larger enemy ships begin to flame as they take damage, providing positive reinforcement to the player. You also have a limited set of bombs, and since you get three per ship you'll want to apply them like suntan lotion - liberally!
Truxton doesn't have the concept of stages - the action is continuous. I must admit that the flat, static backdrops look a little bland, but at least you don't have to worry about colliding with the scenery. I like the upbeat electronic music, which retains that 16-bit twang classic gamers find appealing. My main gripe is how enemies in later stages can emerge from the bottom of the screen, ramming you from behind. That's a little cheap, but overall Truxton is a well-rounded shooter that's one of my favorites for the system. © Copyright 2010 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 168,320
1 or 2 players
Publisher: Accolade (1991)
This has got to be one of the most difficult platform games I've ever played. The first stage is so insanely hard that I became obsessed
with beating it. You control a lightly armored spaceman who must blast his way through five hostile environments, contending with bugs, birds, robots, and goons in jet packs. Turrican has a lot of irritating hazards, like retracting spikes, raining meteors, treacherous leaps of faith, and tiny satellite dishes that spray missiles when you approach. Your default firepower is weak, and even minor enemies can absorb multiple shots. The number of platforms you need to jump between is excessive, and one false move will send you plummeting to your death. It all sounds very hopeless - and it is. Turrican is armed with special weapons, but their effectiveness is offset by an awkward control scheme. The C button is used to toggle your special weapons, and this is not
practical in the heat of battle. Pressing down and B transforms you into a spiked ball, which is usually good for killing one or two enemies before rolling off a cliff to your death. Your most effective weapon is the high-powered "lightning whip", but since you need to hold down a button to unleash it, it's easy to forget about. For more hints, check out Turrican's demo mode, which reveals a number of hidden secrets. Unfortunately, even when you know the secrets and take a careful approach, you'll get your ass handed to you again and again. When the game prompts you to continue, it sends your sorry ass back to the beginning of the stage. I had to resort to a cheat code to check out the advanced stages, which I determined to be equally difficult and more
repetitive. I will give this game credit for its adrenaline-pumping soundtrack, which had me humming along all the while. It's the highlight of the game! All in all, Turrican is unreasonably difficult, but I found it hard to pull myself away from it, so I guess it's not all bad. © Copyright 2008 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Treco (1991)
Twin Cobra is a simple-yet-fun vertical shooter that calls to mind 8-bit oldies like 1943
(NES, 1988) and Xevious
(Atari 7800, 1986). In the words of my friend Dennis "it doesn't pretend to be anything it's not." You control a helicopter blasting fortresses in the desert, tanks crawling on overpasses, and warships patrolling harbors. The graphics won't win any awards. The scenery looks gritty and the water is just a static blue pattern. The spirited music however gets you primed for some challenging rapidfire shooting mayhem. Your weapon is initially weak but power-ups appear early and often. Once things get going the action never lets up and there's no sign of slowdown. The explosions sound like balloons popping, but it's pretty satisfying to hear a flurry of pops as you strafe the screen. Your most dangerous enemies are the green helicopters and giant bombers. They can absorb a lot of damage so I'd suggest you drop a bomb as soon as they appear. Yeah, you'll be tempted to conserve those bombs but keep in mind you can't take them with you. Destroyed scenery sometimes reveals stars you can scoop up worth 3000 points each. You only get paid however if you complete the level intact, and frankly the chances of that happening are pretty low. It's good strategy to remain low on the screen. Since your copter is much longer than it is wide, it's easier to avoid shots coming from the front than from the sides. One irritating aspect of the game is the way power-up icons tend to be so elusive. Weapon icons on the other hand linger forever, basically forcing
you to switch weapons. Most weapons don't look all that impressive but they are all effective in their own way. Twin Cobra is my favorite type of shooter, offering just enough chaos without overwhelming the senses. © Copyright 2017 The Video Game Critic.
Recommended variation: easy
Our high score: 193,320
Twinkle Tale (Japan)
Publisher: Toyo (1992)
This rare overhead shooter never arrived Stateside but fortunately I was able to get my hands on a reproduction cartridge. In my experience Genesis fans love these kind of shooters. In Twinkle Tale you control a little witch unleashing magic projectiles in rapid-fire fashion (just hold in the button; no tapping). The screen scrolls in various directions as you're converged upon by bats, hopping plants, trolls, skeletons, wizards, and golems. You toggle between three weapons (spray, intense, homing) and each is powered-up separately. The action is chaotic because enemies approach from all sides. Your firepower is terrific and you have a few special attacks up your sleeve that inflict massive damage. As you venture through valleys, castles, and sky kingdoms you'll avoid traps, unlock chests, and enter doors that hold mini challenges. Dramatic boss encounters incorporate mythical creatures, maniacal trees, and headless knights. Some of these things take way too long to kill - especially the ghost knight with the shield. The musical score is edgy and really gets under your skin. What's strange about this game is how you only get one life. Actually you have a life bar, but it's not obvious when you're taking damage. As a result, that game over screen can come as a surprise. Fortunately several continues are available and you can always adjust the difficulty. An enchanting shooter with a God-awful name, Twinkle Tale is a lost gem that shouldn't be forgotten. I asked my friend Chris what he thought of this and he simply replied "I love it". NOTE: Reproduction cartridges can damage your console. Only use them with an inexpensive pass-through device like a Game Genie. © Copyright 2016 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Data East (1992)
The year is 2020, and your job is to rid the Big Apple of crooks, hoods, and dangerous mutants who have taken over. I could have sworn that I played this on the NES, but apparently I was confusing it with "Bad Dudes", another Data East game. The characters are big, and can pick up gigantic objects like cars and toss them with extreme prejudice. The background cityscapes are fun to look at, and the music isn't bad either. Unlike Streets of Rage, Two Crude Dudes plays exclusively on a 2D plane, but in addition to the ground level there's usually a second, higher platform you can also play on. Unfortunately, getting up and down from that platform can be a pain at times. Your dude can jump, crouch, punch, kick, climb, and even tuck and roll. But by far the best aspect of the game is your ability to pick up objects like rocks and cars and toss them into groups of oncoming thugs. I love the "Krak!" and "Wham!" symbols that accompany a good hit (like the old Batman TV series). A diverse assortment of enemies includes wresters, robots, animals, and freaks. The hunchbacks and dogs are especially dangerous - they latch on and won't let go! Be sure to use your jump-kicks to dispatch them before they can sink their choppers into you. The henchmen who scale the walls look like they're taking a crap on you, but if you closely scrutinize the graphics, you'll be relieved to see they're just vomiting. The disturbingly weird mutant bosses reveal some inspired character designs, like the tall guy with praying-mantis arms. Your dude can recharge his life by beating up soda machines and drinking a few cans - very cool. I also like how the dudes flex and smile after each stage - it always cracks me up. Two Crude Dudes is a decent game for one person, but the two-player mode is a mess. First of all, you're always getting in your partner's way. In addition, slowdown and flicker become a problem when things get hectic. But for a one-player game, Two Crude Dudes is a fair way to spend an afternoon. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.
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