system Index H-L
Hooters Road Trip
Grade: D
Publisher: Ubi Soft (2001)
Reviewed: 2002/6/29
Rating: Teen (suggestive themes)

screenshotHooters Road Trip is a mediocre racing game along the lines of Outrun, but it has one killer gimmick: Winners are treated to pictures and videos of Hooter girls! Yes, this is the only game I've played where the loading screens are more compelling than the game itself! These chicks are hot! The racing action is somewhat boring as you challenge other cars to race from city to city. The scenery is modest at best, but at least the framerate is smooth. Road Trip might have been half-way decent if not for the controls. The steering truly sucks, whether you use the analog stick or digital pad. Over-steering is the order of the day, causing your car to veer wildly around curves. It's even more frustrating when attempting to avoid oncoming traffic. You'll see a truck coming a mile away, yet will still struggle to avoid hitting it head on. Fortunately, crashes only slow you down a bit, and it's easy to qualify for each race (finishing first is only slightly harder). Does seeing a video of four Hooter girls jumping around in bikinis make the marginal gameplay worthwhile? Well, if you're a guy the answer is probably yes. But be forewarned: You will not be playing this game for fun! © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 

If you like this game, try: Road Trip (Playstation 2),
Rogue Trip (Playstation), Megarace (Sega CD),
Outrun 2 (Xbox), Victory Run (Turbografx-16)

Hot Shots Golf
Grade: A-
Publisher: Sony (1998)
Reviewed: 2008/5/25
Rating: Everyone

screenshotThe Hot Shots Golf series is a Playstation institution. Most golf games of the 90's strived for realism, but Hot Shots adopted a whimsical style with bright graphics and simple controls. The anime-style characters are cute and endearing, and the rolling green courses are extremely inviting. When the balls roll near the hole, the close-up shot is amazing. Hot Shots uses a conventional three-press control scheme (popularized by EA's PGA Golf games), and it's quite responsive. Six courses are available, along with ten golfers, but you'll need to invest some time to unlock most of them. That's fine, because the action moves along at a steady clip, and the load times are minimal. Playing against a group of friends is always fun and competitive. The background music is pleasant, and the crisp sound effects include the "whoosh" of your swing and the "tink" of the ball falling in the cup. It's possible to cue applause and voice sound effects ("Hurry up", "Nice shot") by hitting buttons when you're opponent is up, and once your friends figure this out, they'll absolutely annoy the hell out of you. Hot Shot Golf has aged well because its core gameplay is good as gold. © Copyright 2008 The Video Game Critic.

1 to 4 players 

If you like this game, try: Hot Shots Golf Fore! (Playstation 2),
PGA Tour Golf (3DO), Hot Shots Golf 2 (Playstation),
Mecarobot Golf (Super Nintendo), NES Open Tournament Golf (NES)

Hot Shots Golf 2
Grade: A-
Publisher: Sony (2000)
Reviewed: 2008/5/25
Rating: Everyone

screenshotElectronic Arts once had the market cornered on golf games, but their emphasis on realism made their games feel slow and tedious. This left the door open for the lighthearted, cartoonish Hot Shots Golf, which dominated the market with its friendly, easy-to-play style. Hot Shots 2 is great looking sequel, offering the same pick-up-and-play action with new characters and courses. The golfers are strictly caricatures, but many of the new characters (like the fat bald guy) are freakish and unlikeable. The courses and physics however are quite realistic, making this game appeal to hardcore golfers and casual gamers alike. It's hard to tell the difference between Hot Shots 1 and 2 at a glance, but close examination reveals a few new bells and whistles. New visuals include amazing close-ups that reveal the ball's dimples and logo as it rotates in the air. The new camera angle of the golfer reaching into the cup to pick up his ball looks incredible. If Hot Shots 2 has a flaw, it lies in its irritating audio effects. They really went overboard with the wind sounds, and some idiot yells "C'mon hurry up!" every ten seconds. Also, some of the Japanese-translated dialogue doesn't come across very well ("You are decent!"). I also have to take issue with the "fold-up" manual, which is difficult to open and reference. Who's idea was that anyway?? All in all, this is another great Hot Shots game, but it's a questionable upgrade if you already own the first one. © Copyright 2008 The Video Game Critic.

1 to 4 players 

If you like this game, try: Hot Shots Golf Fore! (Playstation 2),
Hot Shots Golf (Playstation), NES Open Tournament Golf (NES),
VR Golf 97 (Saturn), Hot Shots Golf 3 (Playstation 2)

Incredible Crisis
Grade: F
Publisher: Titus (2000)
Reviewed: 2001/8/14
Rating: Teen (violence, comic mischief, suggestive themes)

screenshotI almost had an incredible crisis when I realized I had spent my hard-earned cash on this train-wreck-of-a-game. Incredible Crisis is actually a set of 24 mini-games, mostly involving button tapping or timing meters. One video game magazine referred to this as "old-school", which is an affront to all classic gamers. Old-school is characterized by simple graphics but fun gameplay. There's nothing "fun" about these games. All feature simple 3D graphics with varying camera angles, poor control, and confusing instructions. You'll need to play the games in order, although once you complete a game it becomes available from a mini-game menu. Sadly, these are not the kind of games you'll want to play twice (or even once, for that matter). Adding insult to injury, you can only save after every four games, and it's quite likely you'll get stuck on one of them. Incredible Crisis is an incredible piece of garbage. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 

If you like this game, try: Ghoul School (NES),
Ray Crisis (Playstation), Time Crisis 2 (Playstation 2),
Tetris Worlds (Playstation 2), Dino Crisis 3 (Xbox)

International Track and Field
Grade: A-
Publisher: Konami (1996)
Reviewed: 1999/7/15
Rating: Kids to Adults

screenshotThis addictive Olympic-style game has clocked a lot of hours on my Playstation. Featuring eleven track and field events, one to four players complete in the pole-vault, long jump, shot put, javelin, discuss, hurdles, sprint, triple jump, high jump, and swimming. Like any good video game, the button-mashing controls are easy to learn but tough to master, and the 3D visuals are smooth and lifelike. Record-setting performances can be saved to memory cards and replayed. International Track and Field is challenging when played solo, but it's an absolute riot with a few friends. © Copyright 1999 The Video Game Critic.

1 to 4 players 

If you like this game, try: Track and Field II (NES),
Track and Field (NES), Track & Field (Atari 2600),
Virtua Athlete (Dreamcast), International Track & Field 2000 (Nintendo 64)

Invasion From Beyond
Grade: F
Publisher: GT Interactive (1998)
Reviewed: 2000/8/10
Rating: Everyone

screenshotI really hated the movie "Mars Attacks!" and this video game induced flashbacks of that awful movie. The whole time I was playing this game I was thinking, "What the hell is going on?!?". Invasion From Beyond's controls are atrocious, and its graphics are terribly confusing. There are a series of missions that require you to hover your spacecraft over a small town while blasting flying saucers and relocating objects on the ground. The nightmare of a control scheme places the fire and thrust buttons right next to each other, making it difficult to do both at once. When firing into a group of flying saucers, it's hard to tell if you're inflicting any damage, especially since they tend to regenerate. On the bright side, the town below looks nice with its rolling hills and detailed landmarks. The cheesy music also suits the game well. But ultimately Invasion From Mars is a total bust due to its extremely dull gameplay. It only cost me a few bucks, but in retrospect a nice sandwich would have been a better investment. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 

If you like this game, try: Space Ranger (Philips CD-i),
Superman (Nintendo 64), Thunder Blade (Sega Master System),
Outtrigger (Dreamcast), Reign of Fire (GameCube)

Iron & Blood: Warriors of Ravenloft
Grade: F
Publisher: Acclaim (1996)
Reviewed: 2015/10/18
Rating: Teen 13+ (animated violence)

screenshotIn the mid-90's polygon fighters were the "new hotness" and a TSR Dungeon and Dragons-licensed brawler sounded appealing. I remember my friends Steve and Brendan being totally stoked about Iron & Blood, at least until they played its demo on my Playstation Underground disc. The obligatory CGI intro is impressive as hell, depicting a band of warriors marching toward an ominous dark tower. The diverse cast of 16 playable characters includes a masked executioner, werewolf, goblin, knight, archer, one-armed dwarf, and floating wizard. But the style of the game is a real turn-off. The character models look kind of goofy and their voices are really annoying. Iron and Blood comes across as a shallow button-masher but it does have some depth. There are two dodge buttons, two block buttons, and you can even attack foes on the ground. It's a shame the game's ambitions are undermined by its clumsy controls and jerky animation. Whenever your opponent dodges or runs, you must wait for your fighter to slowly rotate to face the right direction! Blocked attacks pass harmlessly through your opponent's body, and sometimes you can strike your opponent while facing the opposite direction. The camerawork so poor you often can't see what's going on. The small battlefield is surrounded a force field. It's easy to inadvertently lunge into this force field, causing you character to get thrown to the ground unconscious. The digitized backdrops ooze atmosphere but lack interesting detail. The sound effects lack punch and the voice samples are loaded with sniveling comments like "I'm just too fast for you!" Torches that gradually extinguish are a poor substitute for life bars. The single-player campaign spices up battles with magical artifacts, but the D&D license feels squandered. Promising much but delivering little, Iron & Blood is a really unlikeable fighting game. © Copyright 2015 The Video Game Critic.

1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: Vandal Hearts (Playstation),
Mortal Kombat (Super Nintendo), Pit Fighter (Lynx),
Deathtrap Dungeon (Playstation), Swords and Serpents (Intellivision)

Iron Soldier 3
Grade: C-
Publisher: Telegames (2000)
Reviewed: 2004/7/30
Rating: Teen (animated violence)

screenshotThis late-arriving Playstation title should appeal to Atari Jaguar fans, considering the first two Iron Soldiers were among the best games for the Jaguar system. Iron Soldier 3 delivers the same brand of 3D destructive mayhem, but its slow, methodical style hasn't aged well. A first-person shooter, Iron Soldier 3 places you in control of an enormous "mech", which is actually a giant robot. Your mech is equipped with a number of weapons including an assault rifle, gattling gun, grenades, and even a giant chain saw. Twenty-five challenging missions await you, but if you're the impatient type, you can just dive right into the arcade mode where the object is to simply destroy everything. You'll meet fierce resistance from tanks, cannons, helicopters, and other mechs, but a handy scanner lets you track them all. The virtual city of loaded with skyscrapers, explosive gas tanks, and warehouses that hold power-ups and ammunition. As you would expect, these graphics are more detailed that the Jaguar games, but still maintain the same style. I like how the levels aren't completely flat - the hills and valleys add strategic value. The controls take time to learn, and it's too easy to get caught up on a piece of scenery. You can't always tell when you're under fire, so it's possible to incur a good deal of damage without even realizing it. Finally, the vagueness of the mission objectives can be really annoying. Otherwise Iron Soldier 3 has its bases covered, with a pulsating soundtrack and even a split-screen two-player cooperative mode. Be sure to check out the amazing cinematic intro, which features some amazing special effects. Jaguar veterans will appreciate Iron Soldier 3, but its deliberate pace and steep learning curve may deter novice gamers. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.

1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: Iron Soldier 2 (CD) (Jaguar),
Iron Soldier (Jaguar), Gundam: Side Story 0079 (Dreamcast),
Battle Engine Aquila (Xbox), Seek and Destroy (Playstation 2)

Irritating Stick
Grade: F
Publisher: Jaleco (1999)
Reviewed: 2001/6/8
Rating: Everyone

screenshotFinally - a game that lives up to its name! This oddity is based on a Japanese game show, and I find it remarkable that it ever made it to the shores of America. Without a doubt, Irritating Stick has the worst title ever conceived for a video game. It sounds more like a bad porno film! And if you think the title is bad, wait until you play the game! Basically it involves moving a dot through an electric maze without touching the sides, and your time is limited. It's stupid, repetitive, and... well...okay... irritating! The only thing worse than running out of time after working your way through a lengthy maze is having to start over! I don't think I've ever played anything so aggravating. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.

1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: Tron Maze-A-Tron (Intellivision),
MLB 11: The Show (Playstation 3), Super Smash TV (Genesis),
Space Ace (CD) (Jaguar), Family Feud (3DO)

Jeopardy!
Grade: D+
Publisher: Hasbro (1998)
Reviewed: 1999/7/15
Rating: Everyone

screenshotJeopardy tries to recreate the feel of the TV game show, but feels forced and contrived. The video cuts of Alex Trebeck are generic and really serve no purpose except to slow down the pace of the game. Your answers must be painstakingly spelled out letter by letter, and while the user interface tries to help you out, it's still a tedious process. Fortunately, you can adjust the "tolerance level" so the game will accept an answer even if it's spelled wrong. With 3500 questions, this game will please Jeopardy fans, but most others will find it a bore. © Copyright 1999 The Video Game Critic.

1 to 3 players 

If you like this game, try: Jeopardy! (Super Nintendo),
Jeopardy (Tiger Game.com), Family Feud (3DO),
Sports Trivia Championship Edition (Game Gear), Remote Control (NES)

Jersey Devil
Grade: B-
Publisher: Sony (1998)
Reviewed: 2011/11/5
Rating: Everyone

screenshot1998 was a time when Playstation gamers were desperate for a free-roaming 3D platformer on par with Super Mario 64 (Nintendo 64, 1996). I know because I was one of those gamers! Jersey Devil was one of the early attempts to fill the void, and it's a solid effort. There were other contenders with more expansive stages (Croc comes to mind) but during the Fall months Jersey Devil is your best option (trust me on this one). The game's distinctive Halloween theme is evident in its spooky environments, pumpkin-headed bosses, and mad scientist storyline. The star of the game is based on an actual creature that has been terrorizing southern New Jersey for over 100 years now (see Jersey Devil Wikipedia entry). Frankly, his depiction in this game is a little cheesy. I can't decide if he looks more like a kid in a purple superhero outfit or "the Noid" of Domino's Pizza fame. The stages are slightly creepy but mostly cartoonish, with enemies that include bats, mummies, cobras, apes, and giant spiders. There are a lot of free-floating platforms but the jump-and-glide controls are forgiving enough. The stages are short and sweet, which works in the game's favor. In 1998 gamers craved huge levels, but the modest-sized areas in this game prove more manageable and fun to explore. Collecting pumpkins to earn extra lives is addicting, and the sheer number of hidden items gives the game substantial replay value. The production values are high but Jersey Devil does suffer from many issues typical of early 3D titles. The stages tend to be confined and you'll often need to finagle with the camera (using the shoulder buttons) to get a sense of your surroundings. There are graphical glitches (like clipping problems) and the control scheme isn't particularly intuitive (jump and glide are separate buttons). The analog control works much better than the digital pad. The animated intro is a treat, but the sweeping orchestrated musical score seems inappropriate. You can save your progress between the stages. Overall I'd have to say that this game has aged surprisingly well. They don't make platformers like this anymore, and that's part of what makes Jersey Devil so appealing. © Copyright 2011 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 

If you like this game, try: Croc: Legend of the Gobbos (Playstation),
Super Mario 64 (Nintendo 64), Super Mario All-Stars Limited Edition (Wii),
Muppet Monster Adventure (Playstation), Super Mario All-Stars (Super Nintendo)

Jet Moto
Grade: D-
Publisher: Sony (1996)
Reviewed: 2007/5/30
Rating: Kids to Adults


screenshotDespite being a total Playstation die-hard in 1996, there was one particular Nintendo 64 game that really caught my eye, and that was Wave Race. The idea of a jet ski game was so appealing to me that when Jet Moto came out I immediately bought a copy. Granted, Jet Moto is not technically a jet ski game, but it was close enough! Not limited to open water, Jet Moto's levitating bikes can glide over any type of flat terrain. That would seem to open up all kinds of interesting possibilities, but it really doesn't! Despite being able to travel over mud, concrete, and lava, the best tracks by far are the ones on the open water. Playing this game for the first time in ten years, I was tempted to slap it with an "F" for its awful course designs and idiotic control scheme. The first track, set at a sunny resort, is great, but it's all downhill from there. Not only do many tracks force you to plow through dingy muddy swamps, but the narrow pathways are poorly marked and strewn with obstacles. The fact that some tracks double-back on themselves might sound exciting, but it's just a pain in the ass. As for the controls, the turbo button doesn't provide much of a boost, and the "magnetic grapple", which lets you execute tight turns, is one of the worst ideas ever conceived for a racing game. But as bad as it is, Jet Moto isn't a total loss. If nothing else, I can clearly remember my buddy George and I playing this for many hours just to unlock the courses. The difficulty progression was fair and a split-screen mode is always nice. I also like Jet Moto's slick presentation, with its gnarly surfer music and stylish illustrations boasting some seriously hot chicks. The game is also notable for its liberal use of advertisements, including copious ads for Mountain Dew and Butterfinger. Jet Moto somehow sold enough copies to merit two sequels, but I suspect that was more due to lack of competition than quality gameplay. © Copyright 2007 The Video Game Critic.

1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: Wave Race 64 (Nintendo 64),
Jet Moto 3 (Playstation), Wave Rally (Playstation 2),
Jet Moto 2 (Playstation), Kawasaki Jet Ski (Wii)

Jet Moto 2
Grade: F
Publisher: Sony (1998)
Reviewed: 2007/5/30
Rating: Everyone

screenshotDespite my disdain for the original Jet Moto, a few readers encouraged me to give Jet Moto 2 a try. Sorry guys, but this game sucks. Not only does this ill-conceived sequel retain the blatant flaws of the first game, but its control are worse. This was the first Jet Moto game to support analog control, but its oversensitive steering is dreadful. Adding insult to injury, your vehicle moves insanely fast, despite the fact that the tracks are narrow and poorly defined (not unlike the first game). You'll need to lean on the brake constantly just to keep yourself pointed in the proper direction. Perhaps in an effort to compensate for the lousy controls, the developers dramatically toned down the difficulty. As a result, despite constant wipe-outs and bumping into every wall I could find, I would still regularly finish in the top three! The courses include a post-earthquake Los Angeles, a desert canyon, and an iceberg-laden Arctic. But like the first game, the scenery looks awful and the tracks are hard to navigate until you memorize the layouts. The soundtrack is pretty good, but the process of saving your progress is needlessly complicated. All in all, Jet Moto 2 was such an ordeal to play that it actually brought down my grade for the first Jet Moto (and maybe those yet to come). © Copyright 2007 The Video Game Critic.

1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: Jet Moto (Playstation),
Jet Moto 3 (Playstation), Wacky Races (Dreamcast),
Jet X2O (Playstation 2), Ridge Racer 3DS (Nintendo 3DS)

Jet Moto 3
Grade: D+
Publisher: Sony (1999)
Reviewed: 2007/5/30
Rating: Everyone

screenshotWhile not nearly good enough to redeem this sorry racing series, Jet Moto 3 is certainly a marked improvement. The tracks are much wider, easier to follow, and far more interesting that the claustrophobic mazes of the first two games. The "lost ruins" stage is fascinating, especially as you blaze through its spacious coliseum. Equally impressive is the volcanic island, mixing gorgeous tropical scenery with vibrant red volcanic tunnels. The wider tracks make it easier to control your levitating bike, but it still moves far too fast, causing you to constantly "climb" the invisible walls surrounding the course. The tracks now feature branches and alternate routes, but these tend to make things more confusing, and you'll often end up heading off in the wrong direction. Like Jet Moto 2, you can have an absolutely abysmal run and still somehow wind up in first place. Gamers who could tolerate the lousy course designs and poor control of the first two Jet Motos should be thrilled with this third chapter. Jet Moto 3 marked the end of the franchise, but it was probably for the best. © Copyright 2007 The Video Game Critic.

1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: Jet Moto (Playstation),
POD Speedzone (Dreamcast), Jet Moto 2 (Playstation),
Survival Island (Atari 2600), Jet X2O (Playstation 2)

Jurassic Park: Warpath
Grade: D-
Publisher: Electronic Arts (1999)
Reviewed: 2007/12/10
Rating: Teen

screenshotI enjoyed this one-on-one dinosaur fighter more the first time I played it - when it was called Primal Rage (thank you, David Spade). Granted, Primal Rage (1995) had its issues, but at least that game had some sense of style and originality. Warpath feels like a cheap knock-off solely designed to cash in on the movie franchise. Its 3D dinosaur models look okay with their scaly skin textures, but the stages are incredibly boring. The only interesting location is the tanker ship in the San Diego harbor, which offers a gorgeous nighttime view of the San Diego skyline. Warpath's packaging boasts about "destructible environments", but all I could find were huge TNT boxes that blow up when you rub against them. In general, Warpath offers little in the way of fun. Like Primal Rage, the animation is rough and the collision detection is poor. There are no interesting attacks to speak of. How many ways can a dinosaur really attack anyway? Besides chomping with its jaws or swinging its tail, there's little room for technique. Sensing this limitation, the developers incorporated some ill-advised jumping attacks which just look silly. The blows are weak, with only small splashes of blood used to differentiate hits from misses. The slow-motion instant replays magnify the game's graphical woes, making you wonder why they were included. Even watching a "finishing blow" will leave you feeling hopelessly bewildered. Warpath is one of the rarer titles for the Playstation console, and now you know why. © Copyright 2007 The Video Game Critic.

1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: Primal Rage (Playstation),
Primal Rage (3DO), Primal Rage (CD) (Jaguar),
Super Pitfall (NES), Primal Rage (Genesis)

KISS Pinball
Grade: F
Publisher: Take-Two (2000)
Reviewed: 2007/12/10
Rating: Teen (mild language, suggestive themes)

screenshotMy original review for this game lamented the fact that it contains no KISS music - only generic guitar riffs. That in of itself could justify an "F". I mean, did they or did they not license the band?! Then one reader pointed out that it's possible to play your own music CDs during the course of the game. I checked the manual, and sure enough it does mention this. Anyone who would purchase KISS Pinball would certainly own a KISS CD or two, right? Sure enough, I had a few on hand! So after loading up one of the two pinball tables I paused the game and inserted KISS Alive 2. After fast-forwarding to Calling Dr. Love (via the R2 button), I soon realized that the game's guitar-riff audio effects completely butcher any music you play - no matter how kick-ass it may be. The pinball action itself is some the worst I've ever experienced. The uninspired tables are grainy and the ball travels too fast to follow. Responsive flipper control is critical in pinball, but these flippers are sluggish and tend to "stick" after you trigger them. If you want to return to the main menu to save high scores or switch tables, you'll need to replace your CD with the game disk. That's a lot of trouble to go through just to play a cheap product designed to cash in on the band's popularity. Giving this game a second chance only cemented my hatred for it. © Copyright 2007 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 

If you like this game, try: Pinball Jam (Lynx),
Galactic Pinball (Virtual Boy), Pro Pinball: Big Race USA (Playstation),
Austin Powers Pinball (Playstation), Mario Pinball (Game Boy Advance)

Killing Zone
Grade: F
Publisher: Acclaim (1996)
Reviewed: 2015/10/18
Rating: Teen 13+ (animated violence, blood)

screenshotKilling Zone is a "sensational 3-D fighter". And if you don't believe me check the front cover; it says it right there! Despite the violent title and the promise of "buckets of gore" (back of box) Killing Zone is remarkably tame. There is no intro video and the lack of menu screen music is glaring. What Killing Zone does offer is eight classic monsters including a werewolf, mummy, minotaur, skeleton, and Frankenstein monster. The ladies are represented by a dark faerie and the half-snake gorgon. Depending on whether you're player one or two, the creatures are identified by different names which seems confusing and unnecessary. An announcer kicks off each battle exclaiming "Reach around!" (whatever that means). Killing Zone's character models aren't terrible. The creatures look fearsome enough and some moves surprised me, like when the mummy grows twice as big or stretches his arms like Dhalsim in Street Fighter. I noticed that characters actually turn their heads to keep an eye on their opponents. Unfortunately the fighting action is marred by stilted animation and erratic collision detection. The screams and sound effects have a nice resonating quality but the mountainous backdrops look awfully grainy. The soundtrack incorporates a perfectly good rip-off of the Mortal Kombat theme. The game's ultimate undoing is its lack of replayability. The normal mode doesn't keep score and the bizarre "auto mode" only lets you suggest moves as the action plays out. The options are sparse with no save capability. A remarkably bare-bones fighter, Killing Zone is playable but you probably won't want to. © Copyright 2015 The Video Game Critic.

1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: Mortal Kombat (Xbox 360),
Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 (Saturn), Ultimate Mortal Kombat (Nintendo DS),
Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 (Super Nintendo), Mortal Kombat (Super Nintendo)

Konami Arcade Classics
Grade: A
Publisher: Konami (1999)
Reviewed: 1999/12/9
Rating: Everyone

screenshotThis superb collection of ten early 80's arcade games is a dream come true for retrogamers. Scramble, Super Cobra, Time Pilot, Gyruss, and Pooyan, are legitimate classics you'll enjoy playing over and over again! Road Fighter, Roc N Rope, and Circus Charlie are second-tier titles, but they're still fun to play a few times. The final two games, Shao-Lin's Road and Tie Ar Kung-Fu, are a pair of archaic fighters that are only interesting from an historical perspective. Scramble is one of my favorite arcade games of all time, and I remember it well from the local bowling alley. This side scroller lets you shoot missiles and drop bombs at the same time, and you'll need to destroy fuel tanks in narrow caverns to maintain your energy. Super Cobra is actually the sequel to Scramble, but this time you pilot a helicopter and it's much harder. Time Pilot is a classic shooter that lets you fly a plane in any direction, shooting down aircraft and rescuing soldiers in parachutes. Each stage takes place during a different time period, pitting you against biplanes, jets, and UFOs. Gyruss is an unconventional space shooter with a ship that moves around in a big circle, firing at enemies that emerge from the center of the screen. That catchy music is classic Bach, believe it or not. Pooyan is a cute, cartoonish shooter with a pigs vs. wolves theme. In Roc N Rope, you scale a mountain by shooting ropes at cliffs and climbing across them. The poorly-named Road Fighter is a basic racer where you attempt to pass as many cars as you can. Circus Charlie offers six unique circus challenges, including tight-rope, trapeze, and flaming hoops. In Shao-Lin's Road you face gangs of thugs, but your arsenal is limited to kicks and jump-kicks. Yie Ar Kung-Fu is an early one-on-one fighter, and although it's pretty bad, it does remind me of Street Fighter in some ways. You can save your high scores and settings to memory card, and analog control is also supported. When you're in the mood to get back to the basics, this is the collection you need. © Copyright 1999 The Video Game Critic.

1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: Konami Arcade Hits (Game Boy Advance),
Super Cobra (Atari 5200), Roc N Rope (Colecovision),
Super Cobra (Odyssey 2), Scramble (Atari 7800)

Legend of Dragoon, The
Grade: D
Publisher: Sony (2000)
Reviewed: 2005/9/15
Rating: Teen

screenshotSubmitted by RPG correspondent Jonathan Hawk
The credentials required to be a "PlayStation Greatest Hit" must not be terribly high. As Sony's first foray into the world of RPGs, the Legend of Dragoon was largely inspired by the wildly popular Final Fantasy VII. Harvesting ideas from various other games and incorporating a plot drawn up by some employee's 11-year-old nephew, this mediocre RPG combines weird gameplay and laughable voice acting. You play the role of Dart, a generic fighter with spiky hair and a grudge against a mysterious monster that killed his parents. On your quest to vanquish an evil empire, members of your party gradually begin to acquire strange powers. In times of crisis (read: combat) they can transform into "Dragoons"; endowing them with dragon armor and the ability to fly (and dish out some serious damage as well). After playing the first disc, I nearly threw the whole game out the window. For being released in 2000, the graphics were well behind the standards of the time. The polygons look rough and the backgrounds are awfully bland. Still, the full-motion video is nice and the music isn't half bad. Voices are only heard when characters attack, and the remaining dialogue is completely text-based. In terms of quality, I'm convinced the voice actors were picked up off the street (at least for this English version). The combat system is slow to load, and making matters worse, all special attacks are rhythm-based! No RPG had done it before. No RPG has done it since. You can upgrade your attacks by using them often, but I had trouble just using them at all! Heck, you have to tap eight buttons in sequential order, with a directional-pad motion in sync - just to perform a move! The one original concept I do like is how defending successfully replenishes a little bit of your health. It makes no physical sense mind you, but it sure helps when you're out of healing potions! All in all, this is a nice first try for Sony, but gamers should save themselves the $3.50 this game is worth and invest in a beer instead. © Copyright 2005 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 

If you like this game, try: Street Fighter Anniversary Collection (Playstation 2),
Chrono Trigger (Super Nintendo), Guardian War (3DO),
Dragonstomper (Atari 2600), Breath of Fire (Super Nintendo)

Lethal Enforcers
Grade: C-
Publisher: Konami (1997)
Reviewed: 2000/7/11
Rating: Mature (realistic violence)

screenshotThis disk contains arcade-perfect versions of both the original Lethal Enforcers and Lethal Enforcers II. These two light-gun games are only compatible with "old" Playstation guns such as Konami's Justifier, and not Namco's Guncon. Keep in mind that those old guns aren't the most accurate things in the world. Both games feature digitized characters and scenery, but the people are poorly animated, and some look more like cardboard cut-outs. The original Lethal Enforcers features shootouts in a bank, Chinatown, an airport, and a chemical factory. You can select the order in which you play the five stages. It's great fun at first, especially since you can shoot parts of the scenery like windows, cameras, and hostages (whoops!). But the action gets old pretty quick. Bad guys pour out of the woodwork, and the repetitive firing action will give you carpal-tunnel. And what's up with that fat guy that requires about 10 shots to kill!? Lethal Enforcers II plays the same, but takes place in the wild west. This time the stages include a bank, saloon, and stagecoach. There's even a high speed train robbery! The change of scenery is nice, but the gameplay is more difficult, and the graphics seem even more pixilated. In both games, bosses tend to be far too difficult to kill. Only gamers looking for shallow arcade fun will find this package worthwhile. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.

1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: Time Crisis (Playstation),
Lethal Enforcers (Genesis), Lethal Enforcers (Sega CD),
Lethal Enforcers II: Gun Fighters (Genesis), Confidential Mission (Dreamcast)

Loaded
Grade: C
Publisher: Interplay (1996)
Reviewed: 2008/3/15
Rating: Mature

screenshotThis overhead shooter was a hit in 1996, thanks to its rapid-fire shooting, colorful lighting, and senseless violence. Loaded was also one of the first games to sport a mature rating. After selecting from one of six demented souls (including a psychotic clown and a fat dude in diapers), you are plopped in the middle of a dark, dank, maze-like prison. With a nod to Gauntlet and Smash TV, one or two players mow down mobs of mindless lunatics as constant explosions and gratuitous gore fills the screen. You can unleash a constant stream of bullets, and L1 provides a handy strafe function. For the first few minutes the game is genuinely fun, although the frame-rate seems rougher than I remembered. The sights and sounds of bodies splattering on floors and against walls are satisfying, as are the bass-heavy explosions. But unfortunately, Loaded proves that there is such thing as too much of a good thing. The main problem is the repetitive, oversized stages. By requiring you to acquire colored keycards to access new areas, the game actually promotes tedious backtracking. I enjoy gratuitous violence as much as the next guy, but my thumb was killing me by the end of the first stage! There's not much variety, and if you play the game for too long it will give you a headache. And with unlimited continues and no score, there's little in the way of challenge. Loaded's graphics are rendered with scaling sprites, and in general they look great. The game received numerous accolades for its lighting effects, and the colorful lights really do add a visual flair to otherwise non-descript hallways and rooms. But Loaded's greatest asset is its kick-ass soundtrack, which is absolutely phenomenal. If you can imagine the Halloween movie theme with a club vibe, and you'll have a good idea of what these tunes sound like. Another nice feature is the two-player simultaneous mode, although the game actually takes longer with a partner because you need to coordinate your movements. Loaded is shallow and should only be consumed in small doses, but shooter fans will find merit in its dark theme and kick-ass soundtrack. © Copyright 2008 The Video Game Critic.

1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: Super Smash TV (Super Nintendo),
Dark Chambers (Atari 7800), Arcade Party Pak (Playstation),
NARC (NES), Arcade's Greatest Hits: The Atari Collection 2 (Playstation)

Lost World Special Edition, The
Grade: B-
Publisher: Electronic Arts (1998)
Reviewed: 2000/8/10
Rating: Teen

screenshotApparently Electronic Arts caught wind of how frustrating their first Lost World game was, and put out this "Special Edition" to remedy the situation. It's a major improvement. Heck, now you get to play the T-Rex level in the very beginning! The levels are much shorter, and your life doesn't drain as fast. If that doesn't make your life easy enough, the instruction manual even lists the CHEAT codes!! With the more reasonable difficulty, the Lost World gets a new lease on life. The graphics and sound are absolutely fantastic. Some of the platform-jumping levels aren't all that fun, but at least they're not impossible. Lost World Special Edition is almost good enough to let me forgive EA for the first one. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 

If you like this game, try: Lost World, The (Playstation),
PGA Tour 97 (Saturn), PGA Tour Golf 2 (Genesis),
Pirate's Chase (Bally Astrocade), Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (Game Boy Advance)

Lost World, The
Grade: D
Publisher: Electronic Arts (1997)
Reviewed: 2000/8/10
Rating: Teen

screenshotIf you've played this, then you probably hate it. The Lost World falters badly despite its top-notch graphics and sound. The smoothly animated 3D dinosaurs look fantastic, with hulking brontosauruses that consume the entire screen. The platform jumping action is 2D, but it's complemented by 3D jungle backgrounds that allow the camera to rotate around the action. The audio boasts natural background noises and well orchestrated background music. So why did The Lost World have to be so [expletive] difficult and frustrating!? Didn't anybody bother to play-test this thing? Depending on the stage, you'll control a small scampering dinosaur called a "compy", a vicious rapter, a rampaging T-Rex, or a human. The early levels emphasize precision platform jumping, but the control is lousy. When touched by one of your numerous adversaries, control goes out the window altogether. In addition, some of the branching paths will have you going in circles. You'll use up every bad word in your vocabulary before finally reaching the highly-anticipated human and T-Rex stages. You'd think controlling a T-Rex would be awesome, but the novelty wears off quickly after you eat a few people. The special chase sequences generate some excitement, but the gameplay is mostly tedious. Lost World is great to look at, but most gamers regard it as an ordeal to play. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 

If you like this game, try: Lost World Special Edition, The (Playstation),
Jurassic Park: The Lost World (Tiger Game.com), Platoon (NES),
Jurassic Park Operation Genesis (Xbox), Roc 'N Rope (Atari 2600)

Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete
Grade: A-
Publisher: Working Designs (1999)
Reviewed: 2005/9/15
Rating: Teen

screenshotSubmitted by RPG correspondent Jonathan Hawk
Lunar is a port of the very highly regarded RPG for the Sega CD. Some of the quests have been altered for this re-release, and since they had a ton of room left over on the CDs, they threw in a nice intro movie and a dozen or so anime cut scenes. Packaged as a "box set", Lunar also includes a cloth map of the game world, the game soundtrack, and a leather-bound instruction booklet containing staff interviews and a lengthy preview of the player's guide. Lunar's story revolves around a young man named Alex and his aspirations of becoming a "Dragonmaster" like his idol. Alex has a pet baby dragon with a smart mouth, along with a handful of friends he meets on his quest to become a Dragonmaster. Without revealing too much of the plot, Alex strives to save those he loves while combating newly-emerging forces of evil. The sprites and backgrounds appear to have been touched up from the Sega CD version, now with an almost cartoon-like appearance. The full-motion anime segments are crisp, with barely any noticeable "mosaic effects". The game boasts terrific voice acting performed by a very talented staff. Lunar's loading times are fair, but especially noticeable when saving or loading from the memory card. Speaking of saving, you can do it wherever you please! That's right - no more dying right across from the save point. You can have up to five people in your party at once, all with unique abilities and techniques. Combat is fast-paced and simple, and the battle screens load quickly. You enter all of your party's commands at once, and teaming up is key for getting the biggest bang out of your magic points. As a bonus for beating the game, you're rewarded with some pee-yourself-funny voice acting outtakes. Lunar doesn't stretch the limits of the PlayStation by any means, but it does provide a fun and enjoyable game worthy of multiple plays. Especially considering all the extras, it's well worth its price. RPG enthusiasts (especially those who are suckers for packaging) need to have this game on their shelves. © Copyright 2005 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 

If you like this game, try: Dragon's Lair (Sega CD),
Chrono Trigger (Super Nintendo), Skies of Arcadia Legends (GameCube),
Breath of Fire 2 (Super Nintendo), Grandia II (Dreamcast)


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