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10-Yard Fight
Grade: D-
Publisher: Nintendo (1985)
Reviewed: 2004/11/17

screenshot10-Yard Fight is a terribly outdated football game that combines the shallow gameplay of an arcade title with the sluggish pace of a simulation. The tiny players move like snails, and the vertical field scrolls in a jerky manner. Before each play, a receiver goes "in motion", but it takes him forever to run down the line. In addition to that slow-ass receiver, your quarterback has two other players that run on each side of him. The only advantage to this dumb-looking formation is how it lets you pull off the old "flea flicker" play. You only control one guy on defense, but the overly effective "dive" move lets you to soar through the air like Superman! 10-Yard Fight's sound and graphics are poor, but I might have been able to overlook them had the gameplay not been so marginal. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.
1 or 2 players 


1942
Grade: D
Publisher: Capcom (1985)
Reviewed: 2000/8/6


screenshotI was expecting a little more from 1942 than an easy, generic airplane shooter. As the screen scrolls vertically, enemy aircraft emerge from both the top and bottom. Your plane maneuvers around freely, and there's no shortage of firepower. An "evasive maneuver" is also available, but you probably won't need it, because 1942 is an easy as they come. It doesn't even become remotely challenging until you reach the land stages, which arrive about 5 levels and 15 minutes into the game. And what in the heck is up with that annoying non-stop beeping sound?? It's so irritating that I had to turn the volume all the way down! There's a two-player mode, but it only allows for alternating turns, so what's the point? The 1942 arcade game was pretty good, but this mediocre translation fails to impress. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 125,600
1 or 2 players 


1943
Grade: B
Publisher: Capcom (1988)
Reviewed: 2000/10/24


screenshotThe NES edition of 1942 was pretty lame, but this sophisticated sequel improves upon its predecessor in every way. Before each mission you're allotted a certain number of points to configure your plane based on offensive power, defensive power, energy level, and special weapons. 1943's graphics are noticeably improved, with clouds in the sky and a better variety of enemies on land and sea. Several effective power-ups are also available, including a devastating five-way shot (sweet). In addition to your normal cannon, you can fire an extra powerful shot, or unleash a "smart bomb" that obliterates every enemy on the screen. The "evasive maneuver" is performed by pressing both buttons simultaneously. Unlike 1942, taking a hit won't instantly destroy you - it just drains your energy. Upon meeting your demise, a password is provided, along with an option to continue. Unlike the incessant beeping of 1942, 1943 even features some nice upbeat music. A satisfying shooter with surprising depth, the game's only real disappointment is the lack of a two-player mode. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: SP 180,700
1 player 


720 Degrees
Grade: F
Publisher: Tengen (1989)
Reviewed: 2013/9/8

screenshotBefore good skateboarding games were invented, kids were forced to play garbage like this. 720 Degrees got by in the arcades on the strength of its flashy graphics, quirky humor, tight controls, and snazzy voice synthesis. This NES version lacks all of these features. Instead you guide a dorky-looking kid around a non-descript concrete slab with ramps, water hazards, and wacky characters. For the novice, it's hard to figure out what the hell you're supposed to do. You can earn points by performing jumps and spins, but thanks to the pitiful control scheme, the only move you can perform reliably is a face plant. When you're not on the ground, you're hopelessly stuck between obstacles, or meeting your demise at the hands of a swarm of killer bees (trust me, it's for the best). Exploring the fringe of the course reveals four "event" mini-games: ramp, slalom, downhill, and jump. Even if you fare poorly in these, you'll be able to rack up points and advance to the next class. You could easily purchase upgrades in the arcade game, but it seems like every shop is always closed in this version. 720 Degrees tries to give the player a sense of freedom and variety, but it's just a confusing mess. The looping, off-key "music" only serves to exacerbate a miserable situation. There are some decent skateboarding games for the NES, but 720 Degrees is not one of them. © Copyright 2013 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 12,650
Save mechanism: Password
1 player 


8 Eyes
Grade: F
Publisher: Taxan (1989)
Reviewed: 2010/4/3

screenshotLet me preface my remarks by stating that this game royally sucks. The title refers to a set of mysterious gems you try to collect from eight kingdoms from around the globe, including Spain, Germany, Italy, Arabia, Africa, Egypt, and India. Each location features distinctive music and architecture, but enemies tend to be reused between them. These sordid minions include skeletons, bats, men in diapers, and jumping Jawas. The one thing that gives 8 Eyes some semblance of originality is your bird sidekick. Although he's normally perched on your shoulder, he can be controlled independently to attack enemies and collect hard-to-reach items. Unfortunately his counter-intuitive controls will have you throwing up your hands in disgust. Even in the two-player mode where one player is solely responsible for guiding the bird, it feels a freakin' hardship. Controlling you character isn't much better, as he strolls around at a leisurely pace and is defenseless while climbing stairs. Your sword's range is miniscule and the collision detection sucks, so mandatory hits are the rule and not the exception. Certain enemies can only be harmed by the bird (and vice versa), but you'll only know by trial and error. You only get one life, because as the manual proclaims, "This is reality!" The special weapons aren't very special, sometimes taking the form of lame bouncing balls. Each location has a simple puzzle or two which usually involves hitting a switch to open a door. The music sounds exotic but gets monotonous once it starts to loop. The final nail in the coffin is how it's necessary to complete the locations in a specific order to win the game! This game is already difficult enough without such a stupid, arbitrary rule. 8 Eyes would seem to have potential with its cooperative gameplay and stage select feature, but before long, you too will grow to hate it. © Copyright 2010 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 12,150
Save mechanism: Password
1 or 2 players 


Abadox
Grade: D
Publisher: Abadox (1989)
Reviewed: 2007/11/12

screenshotRecently I saw a funny video on the Internet showing some guy struggling through Abadox, spouting all sorts of profanity as he tried in vain to complete the frustrating first stage. After playing this generic side-scrolling shooter myself, I can empathize with the guy to some degree. In Abadox you control a guy in a jet pack, and he's a pretty big target. You start by shooting random targets over a living surface before entering the anus of a huge, shapeless organism. Enemies attack from all directions, making it easy to become caught in the crossfire. There doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason behind the enemy designs, which include floating eyeballs, pterodactyls, and flaming skulls wearing bandanas. Most foes can withstand multiple shots, and the first "sub-boss" - a giant skeletal dog - requires about 25 (!) hits to defeat. Give me a [expletive] break! The first real boss seems insurmountable until you figure out the strategic spot where he can't reach you. The graphics are about average, but the multi-colored explosions look nice. There are two keys to beating Abadox: loading up on power-ups early, and memorizing the patterns. The game's uneven difficulty can lead to frustration, but even if that were fixed, Abadox would still be marginal at best. © Copyright 2007 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 23,000
1 player 


Adventure Island
Grade: C+
Publisher: Hudson Soft (1987)
Reviewed: 2011/9/7

screenshotThis likeable side-scroller offers bright tropical scenery, fast action, and happy-go-lucky music. To the casual observer it looks like a Super Mario knock-off, but astute gamers will note that Adventure Island has more in common with Bonk (also developed by Hudson Soft). You control a pudgy little dude named "Master Higgins" out to save a princess from a witch doctor. This entails running through the jungle while jumping platforms, snatching fruit, and tossing tomahawks at snails, birds, cobras, pig men, and dinosaurs. The run button plays a key role, as the faster you're moving the higher you can jump. Giant eggs reveal fun power-ups like skateboards and fairies that protect you. The second stage lets you skateboard across clouds, which would be completely ludicrous if it weren't so awesome. On solid ground you'll want to beware of rocks which trip you up and often send you stumbling into harm's way. I like the idea of the numbered checkpoints which make it easy to gauge your progress through each lengthy level. The island theme really shines through in the colorful graphics, although certain stages are plagued by severe break-up. But a bigger issue with Adventure Island is its counter-intuitive controls. The A button is used to jump, and B is used to both run (hold down) and toss weapons. Attacking creatures while controlling your speed is awkward as hell, although it can be overcome with enough practice. The game encourages you to run, and you can get into a rhythm once you become familiar with the stage layouts. Adventure Island is an odd title. It doesn't make the best first impression, but the more you play it, the more it grows on you. © Copyright 2011 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: CJS 19,140
1 player 


Adventure Island 2
Grade: B+
Publisher: Hudson Soft (1990)
Reviewed: 2011/9/7

screenshotThis excellent sequel offers more fun-in-the-sun platform action along with some surprising innovations. The first thing you'll notice are the world maps which chart your progress as you conquer each island. The first stage feels a heck of a lot like the original game as you grab fruit, jump, and toss tomahawks at random animals. The visual style is slightly different however because everything now has black outlines, making objects look better defined. In addition to snails and cobras you'll face snow bunnies, leaping octopus, fluttering bats, hairy spiders, and flaming skulls. But what really elevates Adventure Island 2 is your ability to ride on dinosaurs! As you might imagine, these creatures make the game a lot easier - and more fun! There are four types of dinosaurs to commandeer which can breathe fire, swing their tail, fly, or swim. Unlike Nintendo's Yoshi however, these dinosaurs here aren't particularly cute. In fact, some remind me of the Sleestaks from Land of the Lost! The control scheme is the same, but the jumping is easier because you no longer need a running start to leap high. You can now backtrack through each level, and there are "choose an egg" bonus stages. One really weird new power-up is an evil eggplant that looks downright hilarious. Prior to each stage you're presented with an item selection screen, but in addition to selecting items, it also allows you to stash away items for later use! It's an interesting concept that works well if you stockpile items in the early going. Adventure Island 2 is an entertaining romp. It retains the arcade simplicity of the first game while incorporating many worthwhile new features. © Copyright 2011 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 63,120
1 player 


Adventure Island 3
Grade: B+
Publisher: Hudson Soft (1992)
Reviewed: 2011/9/7

screenshotAdventure Island 2 was chock full of surprises, but this third edition seems to have hit the creative wall. The premise is the same as you guide a chubby dude through a prehistoric world, commandeering dinosaurs as you go. The first thing that caught my eye was how the developers tried to give the graphics a next-generation, 3D look. The scenery is certainly more angular, but the illusion of depth is not convincing. In fact, I prefer the graphics of the previous games. In terms of gameplay Adventure Island 3 feels more like a "greatest hits" compilation than a brand new adventure. Most of the enemies, level designs, and even music seems awfully familiar. Still, there are some interesting new wrinkles. The yellow triceratops lets you rolls over obstacles, and the boomerang is a very effective new weapon. You now have the ability to duck, and there are playable bonus rounds including a surfing mini-game. The difficulty is higher than the previous game, and those clouds with the lightning bolts are a real pain in the ass - literally! I still find the controls problematic at times, but hey, if you've stuck with the series this long, you're probably over them by now. If Adventure Island 3 was a natural evolution, it's clear that the series couldn't go much further on the NES. Still, there's a lot of engrossing platform action here. © Copyright 2011 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 19,200
1 player 


Adventures in the Magic Kingdom
Grade: B
Publisher: Capcom (1990)
Reviewed: 2007/11/12

screenshotI've always been a fan of Disney's Magic Kingdom, having visited the parks in Florida, California, and even France. This game lets you freely explore a virtual Disney amusement park, with the rides represented by mini-games. Wandering around the park should be fun, but why does it look so sparse? All of the different areas are represented like Fantasyland, Tomorrowland, and Liberty Square, but there's minimal detail. Instead of paths and roads between areas, there's just grass! Pretty lame! Your goal is to collect silver keys hidden in the five attractions. Space Mountain is a simplistic first-person space shooter that demands quick reflexes, Autopia is a clumsy overhead racer, and Big Thunder lets you steer speeding mine-carts while trying to avoid dead-ends. The Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean are the real highlights. These two addictive side-scrollers look great and control well. In Pirates, you wander through burning towns and treasure-filled caves while trying to save six prisoners. The Haunted Mansion features some wonderfully creepy ghouls and decrepit scenery, along with clever touches like spooks that appear in mirrors as you pass by. If only there wasn't so much emphasis on tedious platform hopping between floating chandeliers and chairs. When playing any of the games, you can hit Select to trade in stars for bonuses like free lives, invincibility, or freezing enemies. A sixth silver key can be acquired by correctly answering trivia questions posed by kids standing around the park. Don't worry if you get a question wrong - just go back and ask again. On the surface, Adventures in Magic Kingdom seems aimed squarely at kids, but even adults will enjoy the challenge of collecting all of the keys. The game could have used a few more attractions (the Jungle Cruise comes to mind), or at least a few hidden surprises around the park. As it stands Adventures in the Magic Kingdom is a pleasant collection of mini-games that should appeal to Disney fans of all ages. © Copyright 2007 The Video Game Critic.
1 player 


Adventures of Bayou Billy, The
Grade: C
Publisher: Konami (1988)
Reviewed: 2001/6/11

screenshotBayou Billy offers several styles of gameplay, but none of them are exceptional. Most stages consist of Double Dragon-inspired fighting on a side-scrolling screen. You'll face a nice variety of thugs, and it's cool how you can steal their weapons to use against them. Without a weapon the action amounts to a very repetitive series of kicks and punches. Sometimes you'll punch a guy and a freakin' turkey will fly out of him! That's why mom said to never fight after dinner! In addition to pummeling thugs, you'll also encounter alligators that look pretty fearsome until you realize you can beat them up with your bare hands. Billy Bayou's graphics are finely detailed, and its music is well orchestrated. The Louisiana motif is innovative and attractive, with its dark swamps and that distinctive Southern architecture. In addition to fighting, there are car-driving stages that let you blast oncoming traffic and shoot down helicopters. The pseudo-3D graphics are unimpressive, but it does provide a nice change of pace. Finally, there are a few light-gun stages with bad guys that are hard to miss. In case you can't stomach the fighting stages, the driving and shooting games are immediately available under the practice menu. Bayou Billy is certainly an ambitious title, but despite its strong graphics and sound, this falls squarely into average territory. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.
1 player 


Air Fortress
Grade: C-
Publisher: HAL (1989)
Reviewed: 2009/2/1

screenshotIt seems like every time I turn around another reader begs me to give Air Fortress another shot, but every time I immerse myself in this generic space shooter I am bathed in mediocrity. There are some nice graphical touches and the catchy soundtrack has a "Lost In Space" vibe, but the gameplay feels totally by-the-numbers. Air Fortress offers eight expansive stages and a handy password mechanism lets you save your progress between each. At least the replay value is good. Each stage begins with a side-scrolling shooting area loaded with bomb icons and power-ups. Your character looks like a little kid wearing orange pajamas with "footies", and he rides on the back of his ship like he's riding a sled (pretty cheesy!). Some of the intergalactic backgrounds are impressively detailed, but sometimes it's hard to discern objects in the foreground from the background. In stage two I thought I was moving in front of a planet, only to crash into a floating rock! The second half of each stage features labyrinths you navigate in a jet-pack while contending with generic robots, spikes, Venetian-blind elevators, and annoying gravity machines. You can unleash bombs in addition to normal shots, and your weapon has a slight kick-back. A few stages have alternate routes and annoying dead-ends. My friend Steve and I spent about 10 minutes blasting away at a fireball blocking our path until we finally said to hell with it. The game is challenging enough, but there's no score and the stage designs leave much to be desired. I know many gamers will have fond memories of Air Fortress, but newcomers will wonder what the attraction is. © Copyright 2009 The Video Game Critic.
Save mechanism: Password
1 player 


Alien Syndrome
Grade: C-
Publisher: Tengen (1989)
Reviewed: 2005/4/24


screenshotI first played this overhead shooter on the Sega Master System, but I much prefer this more robust NES edition. Clearly inspired by the Alien films, you control a soldier blasting through a series of alien-infested ships while attempting to rescue their crews. You'll find weapons scattered about and maps to help you locate each crewmember. Aliens continuously regenerate, emerging from slimy holes in the floor, sulking around slowly and splattering nicely when shot. Once you've gathered the crew, a self-destruct countdown begins, giving you seconds to escape. But just when you thought you were out of the woods, you need to contend with one of many huge alien bosses. Defeating these gross monstrosities is by far the most challenging aspect of the game. The game gets off to a slow start, with beginning stages that are really easy. The background music can't match the menacing tones of the Sega Master System game, and the sound effects are also disappointing. This NES edition plays better, but offers a somewhat forgettable shooting experience. © Copyright 2005 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 104,400
1 or 2 players 


Archon
Grade: A
Publisher: Activision (1989)
Reviewed: 2001/4/22

screenshotIt deeply troubles me to think that a whole generation of gamers may be missing out on this monumental classic! Archon is to video games what chess is to board games! Heck, it even looks like chess. The checkered playing field is lined with black and white mythological creatures, with the object being to capture five strategic spaces. The white side includes knights, genies, wizards, unicorns, golems, archers, a phoenix, and a wizard. The dark side is composed of goblins, trolls, lizards, banshees, a sorceress, and an evil shape-shifter. As the characters take turns moving around the board, the squares cycle between light and dark, giving the respective side an advantage. The characters move much like chess pieces, but when two land on the same spot, a battle is initiated! The two warriors are then transported to a wide-open battlefield for a fight to the death! The warriors move at different speeds, and each has its own weapon, ranging from swords and clubs to arrows and fireballs. The "king" on each side also has a set of spells, including teleport, time shift, summon elemental, and resurrect. Yes, Archon is as fun as it sounds. The characters are small but cleverly animated, and well-orchestrated music scores contributes to the fun. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.
1 to 2 players 



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