Publisher: Shiney (1997)
MDK is 3D platform-shooter set in a futuristic world with incredible, surreal architecture. You view your character from behind as he solves simple puzzles and battles a variety of bizarre creatures. My only question is, what in the hell is that thing on his head? MDK was one of the first games (if not the
first) to let you snipe enemies from a distance using a scope, and it works great. I was blown away the first time I zoomed in on an alien and put a slug in his head. Your character is also equipped with wings that allow him to glide and soften falls from high places. MDK has a strange sense of humor and a nicely-ramping difficulty, making this engaging shooter hard to put down. © Copyright 1999 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: 989 Studios (2000)
I don't know about these guys at 989 Studios. Apparently they have become content with simply updating the rosters of their MLB game each year, occasionally adding some unwanted bells and whistles. Sure MLB 2001 is as good as the previous few editions, but it's hardly worth the upgrade. One new feature is a "franchise mode" that lets you bring up a rookie and develop his career through a season. Also new are the "golden oldies" that play between innings. If I have to hear "Respect" or "Wooly Bully" one more time, I'm gonna hurt somebody! MLB 2001 isn't bad by any stretch, but if you've owned any of the other MLB titles, then you've already played this. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: 989 Studios (1998)
Here's a solid arcade-style baseball game boasting the legendary Cal Ripken on the cover. What MLB 99 lacks in realism it makes up with its fast, fun gameplay. The players look a little stiff, standing around like soldiers before and after plays. The controls are responsive though, allowing you to easily dive for ground balls and throw runners out from your knees. The stadiums look decent but don't expect anything spectacular. Vin Scully does a fine job calling play-by-play, and the vendor voices in the background are funny. The AI isn't the greatest, and purists may scoff at the number of home runs, but if you're in the mood for arcade action you probably won't mind. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Electronic Arts (1998)
For years I had preferred Sony's better-looking Gameday series over the more realistic Madden games, but those days appear to be over. Apparently someone finally explained to EA the importance of frame-rate, because Madden 2000 looks and plays beautifully. The players are still a bit rough around the edges, but the silky smooth animation is incredibly lifelike. Not only does Madden 2000 look great, but it's the most entertaining football game to come out in years. The control is dead-on, and the running game is no longer an exercise in futility. Players break tackles and get pulled down in a realistic manner. It's not unusual to see awe-inspiring plays like a receiver trying to keep his feet inbounds while catching a ball on the sidelines. The two-man commentary is also impressive. Selecting a football game is not a tough choice in 2000 - go Madden all the way. © Copyright 1999 The Video Game Critic.
March Madness 2000
Publisher: Electronic Arts (1999)
After having an awful previous year, EA has turned the tables, rebounding with a great game that puts the Sony's NCAA Final Four to shame! The graphics in March Madness 2000 are excellent, and the frame-rate is noticeably improved although it could be even better. The game definitely favors arcade over simulation. There are tons of moves including about five different dribbles, and the new foul-shooting mechanic is fun and challenging. Over 200 teams are available, along with options for adjusting almost every aspect of the game. The "create a player" feature is useful for "fixing" the roster of your favorite team, since it's probably incorrect. An excellent two-man commentary features Dick Vitale, although he doesn't talk nearly
as much as he does on TV. I do have a few complaints. First of all, three pointers go in too easily. As usual for an EA title, the loading times are excruciating. Whether it's accessing the memory card, simulating a week of games, or just loading a game, that load meter moves like a snail. While waiting for this thing to load, you could eat dinner... at a restaurant. Finally, this game is a serious memory card hog, using up to 14 blocks! Even so, MM2000 is clearly the best college basketball game to be released in 2000. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Electronic Arts (1998)
Despite its nice graphics, shoddy animation and sluggish action make March Madness 99 a basketball game to avoid. There are a slew of features, but only about 100 teams, so you can forget about recreating your favorite team's schedule. Also, as is the case with most EA games, the loading times are excruciatingly slow. This year you'll want to go with NCAA Final Four 99 (989 Studios) instead. © Copyright 1999 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Midway (1997)
This light gun shooter looks and plays exactly like Area 51, but this time you get three action-packed missions to choose from. The graphics are digitized, and you simple fire at the screen (and off-screen to reload) as you automatically move through the environments, which include a bank, boat, and jungle. The two-player simultaneous action is always a blast, and Maximum Force has a better sense of humor than Area 51. Even in the most dangerous places, there always seems to be a girl in a bikini laying around! Unfortunately, this game does not
support Namco's Guncon controller. © Copyright 1999 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Electronic Arts (1999)
Just as you're getting sick of first-person shooters, Medal of Honor comes along and reinvigorates the genre. This game is amazing! You play a World War II soldier infiltrating Nazi-occupied towns and strongholds during a series of thrilling night missions. Medal of Honor makes you feel as if you're in an old-fashioned war movie. The dark environments are brilliantly designed and utterly believable as a war-ravaged Europe. Subtle sound effects include Nazi footsteps and conversations, dogs barking, planes flying overhead, and explosions in the distance. Unobtrusive heroic music kicks in during dramatic moments. Your missions are solo, but you still feel part of a much larger conflict. Enemy soldiers look a bit blocky but are realistically animated. They take cover when they sense danger, and react realistically when shot. Some wounded enemies will even continue fighting, so you'd better put a few slugs in each one just to be sure. Surprisingly, there's no blood in this game - enemies simply disappear after they die. An intuitive control scheme allows you to strafe, jump, crawl, aim, and even peek around corners. The action is exciting and addicting, and not particularly difficult either, thanks to a wealth of health packs, ammo, and places to hide. If that's not enough for you, there's even a two-player mode. This is a quality war game that strikes a good balance between realism and fun. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Sony (1998)
Clearly inspired by Ghouls 'N Ghosts
(Genesis, 1989) and The Nightmare Before Christmas, MediEvil puts you in the role of a lanky, partially-decomposed knight. The first few graveyard levels are your standard hack-and-slash variety, but as the game progresses, you discover a nice variety of weapons, missions, and ghouls to hack up. The difficulty is fair, the humor is good, and the game becomes more entertaining as you progress. MediEvil's graphics are particularly interesting, especially in later levels where you explore a asylum and a pirate ship. Stick with MediEvil through its tedious early levels and you will be rewarded. © Copyright 1999 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Capcom (1997)
With so many chunky 3D polygon games dominating the Playstation library, playing an old-school side-scroller like this on the system is a real treat. The obligatory animated intro is worth watching, if only for its hilarious dialogue. Mega Man is such a pansy! Like Sonic, I liked him better before
I heard him speak! The characters are crisp and well-animated, and the attractive backdrops are rendered in muted tones so as not to interfere with the action. The shooting is extra satisfying thanks to the spectacular explosion effects punctuated by flying springs, screws, and cogs. The opening stage takes place on a scenic island where a new kick-ball weapon is introduced. After that you can select from several imaginative stages. Frost Man's stage is not the winter wonderland you might expect, but a gorgeous ice-encrusted city! And if you think it looks nice during the day, wait until you see it at night! Clown Man's stage features toy trains you can catch rides on, and I love how toy soldiers struggle to hang on after walking off a ledge (the details make all the difference). Grenade Man's stage features stacked barrels that create a chain reaction when they explode. There's a lot of variety, and part of Tengu Man's stage plays like a side-scrolling shooter. It's fun to enlist "helpers" to shoot alongside you, but they tend to clutter the screen. Mega Man 8 is addictive, but you'll need to have a high pain threshold to enjoy it. The level designs are classic Mega Man, but since the characters are large you don't have as much room to maneuver. Frost Man's never-ending ice-board sequences require you to execute pinpoint jumps and slides while avoiding falling bombs. The bosses are tough but the key is learning how to evade their attacks. You can save your progress after each boss. The electronic soundtrack is uneven. Some tunes (Frost Man) are very soothing while others (Clown Man) sound cheesy. Mega Man 8 is very inexpensive (compared to Mega Man 7) so it won't hurt you wallet - only your pride. Note: The Saturn edition includes two additional bosses. © Copyright 2013 The Video Game Critic.
Metal Gear Solid
Publisher: Konami (1998)
Rating: Mature (blood, gore, violence, sexual themes)
Metal Gear Solid is billed as a game of "Tactical Espionage Action", where you play the role of a spy infiltrating a terrorist base. This highly-acclaimed game effectively combines realistic gameplay and first-rate graphics with a captivating storyline. The result is rich, immersive gaming experience that's riveting from beginning to end. Metal Gear's controls are super responsive, which is critical since you'll need to sneak around a multitude of enemy guards. Unlike most games, avoiding conflict is just as satisfying (and usually more rewarding) than engaging in battle. A wide variety of weapons and unconventional gadgets are at your disposal, and you'll interact with a number of memorable heros and villains. Although very challenging, Metal Gear Solid finds clever ways to help you along, eliminating the frustration associated with other adventure games like Tomb Raider 3. A triumph of style and originality, Metal Gear Solid may quite possibly be the best Playstation game of all time. © Copyright 1999 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: SNK (2001)
Rating: Teen (animated violence)
Metal Slug was the premiere shooting franchise for the Neo Geo system, and this Playstation edition demonstrates why the series has been held in such high regard. Metal Slug X's side-scrolling action combines stylized cartoon graphics, pinpoint controls, and a wicked sense of humor. In terms of presentation, this Playstation shooter is second to none. The characters and scenery are meticulously crafted and brimming with clever, funny animations. This is one of those games you can play over and over again and always see something new. Objects are rendered as 2D sprites, giving the visuals an artistic flair missing from most polygon-based titles. Your character's default weapon isn't very powerful, but you're constantly finding new weapons, including machine guns, lasers, flamethrowers, grenades, and rocket launchers. You can also commandeer tanks, planes, and even camels
. The level of destruction you can unleash is spectacular, and it's well represented by satisfying explosions with huge chunks of debris flying all over the place. Over-the-top bosses include an airship that drops full-sized tanks
from the sky! The stage locations include a desert, a mummy-infested tomb, and a moving train. Complementing its top-notch graphics are crystal clear digitized sound effects and an intense musical score. Two players can play cooperatively, and thankfully you can't harm each other. Metal Slug X really blew me away. If I have one complaint, it's how your default weapon can't shoot diagonally, making certain targets hard to reach. The standard arcade mode offers unlimited continues which eliminates the drama and suspense, but this is remedied by the awesome "Combat School" mode, which challenges you to clear any one stage with only three lives. There's also a "survival mode" where you only get one
life (imagine that)! Well crafted and easy on the eyes, Metal Slug X is a must-have for die-hard shooter fans. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.
Micro Machines V3
Publisher: Midway (1997)
Some of my friends tell me they actually played with Micro Machines toys as kids. Jonathan says they were great fun until your dad stepped on one and grounded you for a week. The video games series began on the NES, letting you race around household environments with toy vehicles. Typical tracks ran over a pool table marked with chalk, a beach lined with shells, and kitchen table lined with peas and carrots. Staying within the track confines is a challenge, especially in multiplayer where falling off the screen drops you out of the race. The Nintendo 64 edition is a personal favorite of mine so I was expecting Micro Machines V3 to be comparable. It's not. I tried it with five players and the result was utter chaos - and not the good kind!
The camera is pulled in way too tight and the action is so fast you can't make turns even when you know they're coming. It's also really hard to tell what place you're currently in. The graphics are substandard, with pixelated polygons, chunky textures, and ugly seams. The controls are digital only (no analog stick support). Your best option is the single-player mode, which offers a decent viewing angle and short, challenging races of increasing difficulty. That's fine, but Micro Machines is built on multiplayer fun, something V3 is sorely lacking. © Copyright 2015 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Hasbro (1999)
In the early 80's, Missile Command was one of my absolute favorite arcade games. I always thought that defending cities from waves of ballistic missiles was a brilliant concept for a video game. Now, 18 years later, Hasbro has given Missile Command the 3D treatment, as it has to so many other arcade classics (with mixed results, I should add). This updated version looks and sounds great, but the gameplay has lost something. It's less fun, too easy, and the analog stick proves a poor substitute for a track ball. This disk actually contains two versions of the Missile Command: Classic and Ultimate. Classic is billed as the original version with updated graphics and sound, but it's not nearly as fun, and you'll need to jack the difficulty way to make it a legitimate challenge. The satellites which evaded explosions so well in the original game are easily destroyed here, and it's hard to tell destroyed cities from the untouched ones! The Ultimate version is supposed to take Missile Command to the "next level", with a larger, scrolling screen that necessitates a radar display. Enemy ships can now distract you by flying in low to steal your missiles, and after every few rounds you face a large mother ship "boss". Ultimate looks great and controls fine, but still isn't very fun. Where's the original arcade version? That's better than both of these combined! For real
Missile Command action, check out the Atari Collection packages. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Midway (1995)
Rating: Mature (realistic violence, blood and gore)
I've always felt that Mortal Kombat 2 was the high point for the series, but there's something to be said for this nearly arcade-perfect version of Mortal Kombat 3 (MK3). The graphics are remarkably crisp, the sound effects crystal clear, and the control is dead-on. Load times are frequent but reasonable. If you're used to the 16-bit version (Genesis or SNES), this is a major upgrade. Easy-to-perform special moves are listed in the manual, although some research is necessary to uncover the gory "fatalities". Speaking of which, MK3's developers went way overboard with the "finishing" moves. Besides the old-fashioned "normal" fatalities (like momma used to make), there are "stage" fatalities, animalities, babalities, mercies, and friendships! Whatever happened to the good old days when you just ripped out your opponent's spine and called it a day? Many of the finishing moves are downright silly, perhaps in a deliberate attempt by the developers to diffuse any potential controversy. For example, one fatality drops a Mortal Kombat arcade machine out the sky onto your opponent's head (that's
gonna leave a mark). My main issues with MK3 concern the character roster and stage scenery. Long-time favorites like Scorpion, Raiden, and Johnny Cage are nowhere to be found, and Sub Zero has been unmasked - bad call! There are some interesting new faces like the four-armed Sheeva and the robotic Cyrax, but others like Styker and Nightwolf are pretty lame. Most stages feature urban themes, including one depicting a trashy city street. After the awe-inspiring temples and creepy dungeons of the first two Mortal Kombats, these are fairly unimpressive locales. I also hate that dork sticking his digitized face in the side of the screen (so annoying!) There's a nice selection of options to adjust the difficulty, violence, and controls, but unfortunately there's no way to save high scores or settings to memory card. Some readers have expressed concern about Shang Tsung's "morph" move, but since he always transforms into his opponent
this time, there's no load time involved. Mortal Kombat 3 is a very good fighter, and if you enjoyed the previous editions, this will give you more of what you want. © Copyright 2005 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Midway (1997)
Rating: Mature (animated blood and gore, violence)
The fourth edition of this once-wildly-popular fighting series was met with apathy by most of the game-playing public. Sure, it was the first Mortal Kombat (MK) game with 3D graphics, but that was old news by 1997. The graphics are only fair, and the level of detail seems slightly reduced from the 2D versions. The blood looks downright chunky and even more fake than previous MK games (if that's possible). The gameplay is largely unchanged, but the new dimension does allow for useful side-step moves and more dramatic-looking fatalities. Surprisingly, the newly-added weapons have little impact on the gameplay, since you drop them once you get hit. The run button allows for some special moves, but you rarely have enough distance to use it. The new character line-up includes many MK vets such as Johnny Cage, Sonya, Raiden, Jax, Liu Kang, Scorpion, Sub-Zero, Goro, and a reconstructed Reptile. The mysterious backgrounds look more like "old-fashioned" Mortal Kombat, having moved away from the urban look of MK3. The moves and fatalities are listed in the manual, and they aren't too hard to execute. It didn't win me over in a big way, but Mortal Kombat 4 is still a respectable fighter. Unfortunately, it failed to reinvigorate the franchise, and most people wrote it off as a 3D rehash. On a final note, the excellent live-action intro makes me yearn for a new Mortal Kombat movie - bring it on! © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.
Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero
Publisher: Midway (1997)
Rating: Mature (animated blood and gore, animated violence
Longtime fans of Mortal Kombat will recall how carelessly Midway tossed around its prized franchise in the late 90's, and Mythologies is a prime example. The game's underlying concept is reasonable, but the execution is abysmal. In Mythologies you control Sub-Zero, a popular character from the original Mortal Kombat wielding deadly ice attacks. The game is a 2D, side-scrolling quest with individual battles that play like standard Mortal Kombat one-on-one contests. As I crept from room to room, encountering one foe after the next, the game reminded me a lot of Karateka
(Atari 7800, 1987). Had this been done right, it could have been a smash hit, and in theory Midway could have released a new Mythologies title for each character. But this game is so riddled with problems that I don't know where to start. To call the controls awkward would be a drastic understatement. The L2 button is used to turn around, but as critical as it is, it's not the least bit responsive. Next, in order to grab floating items, it's necessary to press L1, which is very
inconvenient in the midst of battle. The triangle button is used to "exit" most
menu screens, but on the inventory screen it lets you use
items! Consequentially, I inadvertently used up all of my health supplements
just trying to exit the frickin' screen! The collision detection hit-or-miss, and you'll witness many perfectly good kicks that fail to register at all. Did I mention the incredibly cheap, instant-kill traps? In general, this title lacks the polish you would expect from an established franchise. The instruction manual is useless, providing no clue on how to execute the special moves. Hell, I couldn't even figure out how to jump from a rope without plunging to my death! Mythologies should have been a fun, side-scrolling romp, but this poorly thought-out, half-hearted effort amounts to little more than a cautionary tale. © Copyright 2005 The Video Game Critic.
Mortal Kombat Trilogy
Publisher: Midway (1996)
Rating: Mature 1 or 2 players
If you're a fan of one-on-one fighters, this game would seem to be a slam-dunk. Mortal Kombat Trilogy combines all
of the stages and characters from the first three Mortal Kombat games and tosses in a few bonuses. The 32-character roster is loaded with all of your favorites, along with "mystery" characters like Smoke, Ermac, and Noob Saibot. You get both the masked and unmasked versions of Sub Zero, although if you ask me, removing Sub Zero's mask was a huge mistake. Four bosses are available, but I have to warn you - they are incredibly
cheap! Trilogy's core gameplay contains all the blood splattering, spine-ripping goodness you've come to expect of the series. There is one glaring flaw however, and that is the fact that Shang Tsung's "morphing" takes over five seconds
to complete! It looks like your game has locked-up! A new "aggressor" meter has been added, but it's completely unnecessary. Likewise the new "Brutalities" are just a barrage of attacks followed by raining bones - pretty boring! Trilogy has frequent load screens, but these are reasonably short. Four and eight-player tournament modes are included, although I can't see those getting much use. The more you look at Trilogy, the more it feels like a rehash. This proved to be a swan song of sorts for the 2D Mortal Kombat games. © Copyright 2011 The Video Game Critic.
Rating: Mature 1 or 2 players
Mortal Kombat: Special Forces
Publisher: Midway (1999)
Rating: Mature (animated blood, animated violence)
Is this really
a Mortal Kombat game? Because I can't tell by looking at the thing. Heck, that jazzy intro looks more like something from an Austin Powers
movie! Unlike the first series spin-off, Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero
(Playstation, 1997), Special Forces utilizes 3D polygon graphics and an overhead point of view. It actually plays better than Mythologies but it's so generic and uninteresting that you'll wonder what the point of it is. The main character, Jax, is the black guy from Mortal Kombat II with bionic arms. If not for him, this might as well be another Die Hard game. Special Force's predictable gameplay is not special at all. Traversing through office buildings and sewers, you methodically dispose of enemy thugs using your fists or weapons. One unique feature is how you can switch to a first-person point of view in case you want to aim with more precision. You'll spend much of the game searching for ways to unlock doors, and blowing up damaged walls to expose hidden rooms. The ominous musical score is decent, but Special Force's graphics are just plain ugly. The scenery is remarkably generic, and hideous "seams" abound. The clumsy control scheme provides you with zero control of the camera. Attack combos are effective but hard to execute, and the collision detection is a joke. On one occasion, I was attacking two thugs lined up in front of me, when my kick passed completely through
the first guy, only to strike the dude behind him
! I can honestly say that's the first time I've ever seen this particular glitch in a fighting game. I forced myself to play through several stages of Mortal Kombat Special Forces (for the purpose of this review), but to be honest I lost interest very early. © Copyright 2005 The Video Game Critic.
Muppet Monster Adventure
Publisher: Psygnosis (2000)
I'm grateful to the reader who recommended Muppet Monster Adventure because it's a hidden gem of the highest magnitude. Let's face it - the Muppets aren't exactly video game icons
. You'd assume the star of the game to be Kermit the frog, but you'd be wrong. You play the role of a Kermit's young nephew Robin, a pint-sized frog who looks hilarious scampering around with his tiny knapsack. His mission is to save familiar muppet characters transformed into classic movie monsters. Kermit plays the role of Frankenstein but his tall flat head makes it look like he's sporting a high-top fade! The game's bright, whimsical graphics have a vaguely Halloween theme and the impressive orchestrated soundtrack offers hints of Zombies Ate My Neighbors
(SNES, 1993). Muppet Monster Adventure is a remarkably well-constructed 3D platformer. Its levels are spacious enough that you rarely have to fumble with the camera or struggle with precision jumps. It doesn't hurt that the difficulty is easy. The hub of the game offers dozens of stages that gradually unlock as you collect items. Armed with a potent spin attack and ray-gun, you'll tangle with bone-tossing skeletons, axe-wielding hunchbacks, and whirling mummies. A special weapon even lets you fire chickens!
You gradually acquire new powers allowing you to climb, karate-chop, slide blocks, and glide like Spyro the Dragon
(Sony, 1998). Each stage is chock full of items to collect and it can become an obsession to track everything down. The controls are superb with one exception. Although analog control generally works fine, you'll want to stick with digital control when you need to slide blocks. A funny red-haired guy who speaks with an outrageous French accent offers hints to guide you past puzzles. You can save your progress or return to the main hub at any time. Surprisingly addictive and effortlessly enjoyable, Muppet Monster Adventure is a game that should appeal to all ages. © Copyright 2016 The Video Game Critic.
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