Garfield: Caught in the Act
Publisher: Sega (1995)
The cat in this game is a lot
more nimble than the fat, lazy one I remember from the comic strip! Not only can he dash and leap high, but he'll use his claws to pull himself up onto high ledges. Caught in the Act's intro looks like a typical Garfield comic strip, but why do the pictures only take up half of the screen? I can't even make out some of them! The game itself is a pretty generic platformer with time-travel themes that include prehistoric, Egyptian, medieval, and some visually-striking pirate stages. The TV Wasteland stage sounds interesting until you discover it's just a maze of electrical junk - ugh! Caught in the Act isn't bad if you can keep your expectations in check. The graphics are impressive, with detailed, layered environments and a melodic soundtrack that really pushes the system's audio power. The controls are so forgiving that even when Garfield jumps off a cliff a butterfly will often catch him and tow him back onto solid ground. The jumping action is strictly by the numbers as you make your way to the far right of each stage where a boss awaits (big surprise there). Garfield also has the ability to toss rocks at his adversaries, which include mummies, knights, cavemen, and fire-breathing mice. This game should have been a good time but some boneheaded design decisions disrupt the fun (don't they always?). First you have to contend with a lot of annoying disappearing platforms, and flying creatures often appear from out of nowhere to interrupt your jumps. The stages are surprisingly long and repetitive, and sometimes you'll traverse an area only slightly different from the one before it. The bosses require an inordinate number of hits to defeat. After a while, Caught in the Act begins to feel like every 2D platform game you've ever played in your entire life. © Copyright 2008 The Video Game Critic.
Joe Montana Football
Publisher: Sega (1991)
As long as you're not looking for anything fancy, Joe Montana is a fun little football game. All the NFL teams are included (circa 1991), but they're all rendered in blue and red uniforms, and except for slightly different playbooks, they're all the same. The simple control scheme doesn't let you perform any moves when you run with the ball, and as a result the running game is virtually non-existent. Fortunately, the passing game is quite effective. Like Tecmo Football, you can switch between receivers on the fly, and your quarterback zips the ball nicely. There aren't many sound effects, but players are tackled with a satisfying thud. Graphically, the game has nicely defined players, and it's easy to follow the large football. The goalposts look terrific, and the players perform a hilariously cheesy "celebration dance" after each touchdown. Montana is pretty shallow, but the game moves along quickly with no pauses in the action. The CPU provides a reasonable challenge, but sometimes does dumb things like run to the back of the end zone for a safety. Not too hot and not too cold, Joe Montana provides an average portable football experience. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.
Jungle Book, The
Publisher: Sega (1993)
Am I missing something
here?? Jungle Book looks pretty spectacular on my Game Gear, but I can't play the thing worth a [expletive]! I love the scenery with its sunny savannahs, dense jungles, and tranquil flowing streams. The main character is a lanky kid named Mowgli, and he's animated with fluid grace. Likewise the swinging monkeys, trampling warthogs, swimming bears, and spitting cobras are rendered with loving care. The object of most stages is to collect gems while keeping hostile wildlife at bay by pelting them with bananas. Not only can you throw bananas in a rapid-fire manner, but you can even angle
your throws! It's cool how you can knock a monkey out of a tree, yet he'll continue fighting on the ground below. Jungle Book's platform jumping can be a little tricky, mainly because Mowgli has the annoying habit of hitting his head on low hanging branches while leaping from vines. The audio is top notch, featuring a toe-tapping rendition of "Bear Necessities". So what's the deal with the difficulty? Finding all eight gems in a level is awfully hard! I can understand that degree of challenge in stage seven, but we're talking about the first stage
here! You'll absorb a lot of damage from hidden dangers, blind jumps, and cobras camped out on short ledges. This steep difficulty adds unnecessary frustration to what should have been a care-free, easy-going romp through the jungle. © Copyright 2008 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Sega (1993)
Whoa. Jurassic Park for the Game Gear took me by surprise. This bundle of portable joy is even better
than the Genesis
Jurassic Park game! The title screen features a digitized roar (not bad!), followed by a sophisticated animated sequence that rivals those of many 16-bit games. You can select the order in which you play the four stages, and that alone dramatically
enhances the replay value. Each stage begins with a shooting sequence where you defend a speeding jeep by aiming crosshairs at attacking pterodactyls and velociraptors. It feels like a fun bonus stage. Next you're thrust into a traditional platform stage that places all sorts of dinosaurs and environmental hazards between you and the exit. The layered scenery is first-rate, and the stages are imaginative in design. For example, in the forest a lightning strike starts a fire which eventually burns an escape path. Each stage has several distinct areas, delivering an exceptional degree of variety. Even the mineshaft level is engaging despite its maze-like structure. A large dinosaur awaits at the end of each stage, and you'll need to formulate a specific strategy to prevail. The rich control scheme lets your character squat, crawl, hang, and even monkey-walk over low hazards. You're well armed, and can even change weapons
via the pause screen! The game's dramatic musical score is pretty intense as well. Jurassic Park for the Game Gear impressed the hell out of me. With rich gameplay and fantastic production values, this should be a model for all 2D platform titles, portable or otherwise. © Copyright 2008 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 32100
Publisher: Virgin (1994)
I wasn't a huge fan of the 16-bit version of Lion King (SNES, Genesis), and this portable edition offers even less to get excited about. The graphics are certainly acceptable, with smoothly animated, detailed animals and beautiful orange sunsets. But the color-by-number gameplay will have you frustrated and bored. The stages follow Simba from being a cub all the way up to his final confrontation with Scar. The jumping controls are very forgiving, as your lion will grab hold of a ledge if you don't make the jump cleanly. The game tries to add some variety by letting you interact with other animals, but I experienced a fair amount of frustration from animals tossing me places I didn't want to go. Many stages are painfully monotonous rock platforms, where it's difficult to determine where to go next. But the worst part is that you have to play as a cub
for most of the game! After six stages of controlling a cub, I was thinking "When is this [expletive] lion gonna grow up?!" A unique "roar" move gives the game a hint of originality, but it's useless for most of the game. Even the "catch the seeds" bonus round falls flat. The music is high-quality (taken from the movie), but when all is said and done, Lion King doesn't amount to much. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Acclaim (1993)
When I first switched on Mortal Kombat for the Game Gear, I was blown away by the size of the characters. Not only do they fill the screen, but they also boast level of digitized detail and clarity you might not expect from the system. Does the gameplay match the impressive graphics? Not quite. The fighters' movements are rough and erratic, and certain special moves (like Raiden's flying attack) cause major graphic break-up. Control is not as responsive as it could be, and trying to execute certain special moves (like Sub Zero's Deep Freeze) is problematic. Still, I found the gameplay to be similar to the arcade game and fairly enjoyable overall. The best part is the tournament mode, where you dispatch a parade of increasingly difficult foes en route to facing the huge four-armed boss, Goro. There are three skill levels and six playable fighters: Johnny Cage, Liu Kang, Rayden, Scorpion, Sub Zero, and Sonya (Kano is missing). Like its Genesis counterpart, there is a "blood" code (2,1,2,Down,Up on title screen). © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.
Mortal Kombat II
Publisher: Acclaim (1994)
The first Mortal Kombat for the Game Gear was impressive, and this one is even better. In fact, it's hard to imagine a better fighting game for the Game Gear. This time around you get eight warriors instead of six: Liu Kang, Reptile, Sub Zero, Shang Tsung, Kitana, Jax, Mileena, and Scorpion. For some reason, the two women look a little too thick around the middle - not very attractive. The graphics and sound are about the same quality as the previous edition, but the gameplay is faster and the controls are tighter. A ringing sound effect alerts you when your health is low, but it sounds a lot like a telephone. Thankfully, you don't need to enter a code to unleash the blood, although it's not as gratuitous as you might expect. Like the first Mortal Kombat, there are three skills levels, and you can't pause because the Start button is used to block. Overall, this one is a head-ripping, spine-tearing good time. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.
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