Publisher: Sony (1999)
This is hands-down the best video game I've ever played with the word "Lammy" in the title. As the unofficial sequel to the popular Parappa the Rapper
(Sony, 1997), this musical game provides plenty of challenge but the weird-o-meter is off the charts! Like Parappa, you must repeat button sequences to a beat, but this time you're playing the chords of a guitar instead of rapping. It actually works pretty well, but It's tough to hit all of the notes because they come at you so fast. At times the game feels like a rehash, especially with stages that feature "recycled" Parappa songs. The graphics are very nice, with humorous, paper-thin characters and cool special effects. The storyline however is bizarre, juvenile, and occasionally embarrassing. Most of the tunes are decent, but the lyrics are absolutely idiotic. Um Jammer Lammy is definitely a trip, and if you can stomach the storyline, the challenge will keep you hooked. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Gremlin (1997)
Before Hot Shots Golf, this was one of the best golf games around. With realistic graphics, smooth gameplay, and excellent commentary, VR Golf even bests EA's PGA series. There are no real golfers in this game, but the polygon players look fairly realistic. A fly-by feature offers a nice preview of each scenic hole, accompanied by informative commentary. The swing control mechanism is just like every other golf game you've played, but the draw/fade control is better, making it easy to curve your shots around trees. Unfortunately, you can't apply backspin or topspin on your ball. Pat O'Brien and Brit Peter Alliss provide commentary comparable to TV coverage, so be sure they are both on
. Not only are they very accurate, but their dry British humor is hilarious at times. In terms of options, you can tweak the gameplay and presentation in just about every way imaginable. VR Golf is fun, but it has its share of flaws. There are only two courses, and there's a lot
of loading time between holes. While most of the camera angles are cool, the swinging camera is disorienting, making it hard to tell where the ball is heading. The most annoying aspect of the game is how each player has to press a button after
every shot. During multiplayer games, you constantly
have to remind the other players to hit their button. Even so, this is an old favorite that golf fans should appreciate. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Konami (1997)
I don't play a lot of RPG/strategy titles, but Vandal Hearts won me over in a big way. This is truly one of my all-time favorites. You control a band of warriors caught up in an intricate storyline far too complex to explain here. The basic gameplay consists of a series of turn-based battles. You individually tell your warriors what to do, and then sit back and watch the action unfold. Vandal Hearts is surprisingly gory, with each kill causing a geyser of blood to spring forth. The battlefields range from rolling meadows to claustrophobic dungeons, and each requires a different strategy. Warriors range from powerful knights to frail magic users, and some of the spells you cast trigger amazing visual effects. The story line is absolutely enthralling, and the throught-provoking gameplay will have you hooked until the very end. Every Playstation fan needs this title in their collection. © Copyright 1999 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Konami (1999)
The first Vandal Hearts was a tough act to follow, and although Vandal Hearts II (VH2) manages to hold it own, it can't capture quite the magic of the original. Like the first game, this is part adventure but mostly strategy. An RPG-style story unfolds as you guide a group of characters around the countryside fighting one battle after another. Like the first Vandal Hearts, the plot is long and complicated, but never boring. The battle system has changed dramatically, and not necessarily for the better. In the first Vandal Hearts you issued orders to all of your characters at the start of each round, and then sat back to watch the battle unfold. In VH2, you and your opponents take turns directing one character at a time
. When all characters have been used, the round is over. The good news is that this adds some strategy, since you have to guess which character the CPU will use next. The bad news is that if you try to attack an enemy who's been activated during the same turn, your character ends up swinging at thin air
. This happens way too much, and it always looks ridiculous. I definitely prefer the old battle system. Vandal Hearts II is still worth playing, and it's more than twice as big as the original. The sprite graphics are largely unchanged from the first game, and the spirited, renaissance-style music is excellent. It's no classic, but fans of the original game might find this hard to resist. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Electronic Arts (1996)
Rating: Kids to Adults (6+)
Viewpoint is an isometric shooter with devastating power-ups and a legendary difficulty level. It plays a bit like Zaxxon, except you can't adjust your altitude of your ship. The graphics here are even sharper than the original Neo Geo version. Metal objects gleam convincingly, and despite being rendered with 2D sprites, the objects appear to be 3D. The pumping, dance-oriented soundtrack also adds a lot to the experience. Viewpoint's full-motion video intro looks like a lame Star Wars rip-off, but the audio is amazing. I didn't realize they even had
surround sound back in 1996! You'd think this game would be a slam-dunk, but surprisingly enough, the gameplay is hurting
. First off, the control is seriously lacking. The steering feels stiff and inexact, so you can't aim with precision. That doesn't bode well when you take into account Viewpoint's insane difficulty. Worse yet, when the screen gets crowded with projectiles, the action slows to a crawl and the frame-rate goes straight to hell. I was absolutely shocked
to witness such a heinous degree of slow-down on a console like the Playstation. A three-letter password is provided, but there's no memory card save capability. I also dislike how the music tends to kick in belatedly during the opening stage. Viewpoint is a good game, but this Playstation translation didn't turn out very well at all. Stick with the Neo Geo version. © Copyright 2005 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Activision (1998)
This vehicle combat game was the first legitimate challenger to Twisted Metal, and it had a lot going for it. First of all, the 1970's theme gave it unique identity and provided plenty of humor. The theme is reflected in every aspect of the game including the driver's goofy outfits, the outdated vehicles, and the retro music. Unlike the flat, static scenery of the early Twisted Metal games, V8 has smooth, rolling hills, and you can blow up just about any structure. Another nice touch is how newly-acquired weapons mount themselves to the top of your car. The battlegrounds are fresh and original, including a ski resort, the Hoover dam, an oil refinery, and a ghost town. Despite some clipping problems, the graphics rate highly compared to Twisted Metal. There are some really funny animations, like an old lady that flies out of the back of the camper! So what's not to like? Well, most of the weapons are very
cheap. The guided weapons require no aiming at all, and since you get about 20 at a time, you can rain down heavy damage on other cars with little effort. Yes, I had the same beef with the lightning attack in Twisted Metal 2, but the problem here is more rampant. V8 was never mounted a serious threat to Twisted Metal, but it does provide a nice change of pace for car combat fans. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Acclaim (1998)
WWF War Zone blew me away with its realistic graphics and smooth animation. It's just like watching fake wrestling on TV! All the major WWF personalities are here, and the special moves are fun to watch and occasionally hilarious. Play modes include versus, tag team, practice and even steel cage matches. The sheer number of customization options is astounding, including a rich create-your-own-wrestler feature. The sound effects are outstanding. Wrestlers talk trash, and you can even hear people in the crowd yelling such memorable lines as "Rocky doesn't suck!". War Zone has its moments, but the matches tend to run too long and become repetitive as fighters execute the same moves over and over. And you can forget about the tag team mode - it's a confusing mess. Not only is it difficult to tag your partner even when he's right next to you, but you can never tell who's supposed to be in the ring at any given time. Overall, WWF War Zone makes a great first impression, but its shallow gameplay eventually wears out its welcome. © Copyright 1999 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Electronic Arts (1998)
The ultra-popular PC real-time strategy (RTS) game has finally made the leap to the Playstation, but a lot
was lost in the translation! For one thing, these graphics look downright sloppy
compared to the PC version. The Playstation resolution simply isn't high enough to render the details, and as a result many characters appear to be shapeless blobs. Another major issue is the clumsy user interface which tries to substitute a controller for a mouse. Although Blizzard attempted to streamline the control scheme, it's still very awkward. Last but not least, the load times are horrendous. If you can look beyond those huge flaws, the game is playable, but if you have a PC, by all means stick with that version. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: SingleTrac (1995)
Rating: Kids to Adults
As one of my very first Playstation games, I received this one along with Wipeout way back in Christmas 1995. Warhawk is a highly-regarded first-person shooter with good graphics (revolutionary at the time) and excellent 3D gameplay. You control a highly maneuverable aircraft loaded with weapons. Six missions send you into war zones full of enemy planes, cannons, tanks, boats, and huge bosses. You can fly anywhere within the large, confined area of conflict as you destroy targets and collect power-ups. Weapons include machines guns, rockets, a plasma cannon, lock-on missiles, and "swarmers", which unleash an army of guided missiles against a single locked-on target. The massive destruction is thrilling to behold at times. For a 1995 game, the 3D graphics are amazing and the music is action-movie quality. Warhawk also contains some poorly-acted (and totally unnecessary) cut-scenes using real actors, and it's mildly entertaining to watch an attractive female commander barking orders at a bunch of cocky pilots. Warhawk is short compared to modern game, but still fun as hell to play. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Shiney Entertainment (1998)
Rating: Teen (animated blood, animated violence)
Wild 9 is one of those one-off titles that tries to be original but never gains much traction. It's a 2D platformer that leverages 3D graphics and a wacky sci-fi theme reminiscent of Earthworm Jim
(Genesis, 1994). You can tell a lot of effort went into Wild 9 from the endless parade of intro screens (publisher, developer, caterer, etc). It takes forever to sit through them if you don't start tapping buttons. Despite some pixelation Wild 9's visuals do a good job of conveying grimy alien world populated with freaky creatures and dangerous industrial contraptions. The high-octane soundtrack is provided by composer legend Tommy Tallarico. Your ultra-hip character gallivants around while shouting "like... cool
" and "wexcellent!
" What makes Wild 9 unique is your ability to wield an electric beam. You can use it to swing on things, carry stuff, or slam enemies into the ground. It's amusing to kill aliens by depositing them into fire, spikes, and meat grinders. Even more satisfying is how you can blow up machines using missiles. Wild 9's downfall is its controls. Orienting the beam is real pain in the ass since the directional controls move your character and beam at the same time. Trying to attach the beam to hooks for swinging is aggravating, and I hate having to sit through a goofy "dizzy" animation whenever I fall. You collect shiny "9" icons and gathering 100 will earn you a free continue (good luck with that). The stages aren't particularly long but since you need to move in such a slow, deliberate manner, they can feel downright excruciating. The difficulty progression is suspect thanks to a brutal opening stage and lack of continues. Perhaps too clever for its own good, Wild 9 may appeal to collectors but casual gamers will be done with it after the first stage - if not sooner. © Copyright 2016 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Psygnosis (1995)
Rating: Kids to Adults
Ahhh memories! This was one of my very first Playstation titles. Wipeout is a futuristic racer with vehicles that hover over ultra-modern, winding tracks. It's a formula that's spawned endless sequels and imitators. Each spectacular track has a distinctive look and feel, and is sprinkled with speed-burst arrows and power-ups. Wipeout was awesome back in the day, but it hasn't aged well. The name is totally misleading, since the crashes are not the least bit dramatic, and the weapons are lame. The tracks are too narrow, and scraping a wall brings you to a dead stop. Since it takes a while to build up momentum, that really kills the fun factor. And since Wipeout was released long before analog controllers were available, you'll have to deal with the less-than-precise digital control. There's no split-screen mode, but Wipeout does support the link cable (which nobody ever used). On a positive note, Wipeout's techno soundtrack was so good that it was released separately on CD. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Psygnosis (2000)
It took a dirt-cheap price tag to convince me to buy Wipeout 3, but its smooth framerate, impressive backgrounds, and solid controls won me over. For those new to the series, Wipeout is a futuristic racing series with vehicles that glide over bobsled-like tracks. You'll love the background graphics in this edition, which feature some of the dark, rainy city-scapes that reminded me of Blade Runner. Funny how it rains inside
of the tunnels as well! The analog control is spot-on, and the understated, pulsating music makes playing this game almost a surreal experience. Least I forget, there are plenty of power-ups and weapons to keep your opponents at bay. Wipeout 3 isn't particularly innovative, but it does a nice job of elevating a winning formula. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Telestar (1998)
I was envisioning this game as cars careening around turns, slamming through vegetable stands, and leaving only devastation in their wake. Unfortunately, Wreckin' Crew does not
deliver the zany mayhem I was looking for. It does however offer some interesting tracks. From the Streets of New York, to the castles of Europe, to a theme park, each course is colorful, detailed, and unique. The graphics are cartoonish but impressive nonetheless. You view the action from behind your vehicle, and the controls are pleasantly responsive. Large arrows show you the way, but it's still hard to follow the tracks in the split-screen mode. When driving through enclosed spaces (like tunnels), the camera abruptly switches to a first-person view, which is disconcerting. You'll find items and power-ups all over the place, and each car is equipped with special weapons. Unfortunately, the combat aspect of the game is weak! While the attacks are imaginative (dumping chickens, firing side-mounted cannons), they rarely impact the outcome of the race. And while I was expecting the scenery to sustain heavy damage, it never happened. In fact, I usually came to a dead stop whenever I tried to ram an obstacle. Wreckin' Crew is a good looking game, but doesn't have enough depth to maintain your attention after you've seen all the tracks. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.
X-Games Pro Boarder
Publisher: ESPN (1998)
The cover of this game is plastered with all sorts of titles like "ESPN Digital Games", "X-Games", and "PRO BOARDER" running down the right edge in huge letters. Clearly the people who made this couldn't agree on what to call it, but I'll settle for X-Games Pro Boarder since that's what it says on the spine. In addition to Winter X-Games events like halfpipe, slopestyle, and big jump, this game also includes a "mountain gap" road-jump and "midnight express" race. For a PS1 title, Pro Boarder looks really sharp. It opens with video of Winter X-Games athletes in action, and the stylish animated menus sport an appealing icy blue color scheme. The slopes in the game are smoothly rounded and realistically textured. Along the courses you'll see metal scaffoldings decked out with lights and X-Games banners. Some of the banners and clouds suffer from severe pixelation, but otherwise the game is easy on the eyes. You select from a group of actual X-Game athletes circa 1998. The single-player mode is challenging and high scores are auto-saved. A two-player vertical split-screen works great for the halfpipe, but the trail can be hard to follow in racing events. By the way, is it true that snowboarders used to compete in the same halfpipe at the same time? What could possibly go wrong?
The default "professional" controls are complex to a comical degree, but the amateur controls are easy to grasp. Unfortunately you can't chain tricks together and sometimes the controls feel unresponsive. Grinding is mostly automatic, and it looks ridiculous to be sucked onto a nearby rail and pulled along like a magnet. The music is your standard indie rock fare and one particularly irritating song sounds like the Benny Hill theme. I wasn't crazy about the soundtrack until a song by the Foo Fighters kicked in. You select individual events to play, but why in the heck is the circuit mode locked?! X-Games Pro Boarder is a fine-looking winter title with more than enough variety, but it feels a lot more complicated than it needed to be. Note: To unlock circuit mode, enter X O X triangle triangle square on the password screen. © Copyright 2015 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Namco (1997)
Many arcade classics have been resurrected on the Playstation with fancy 3D graphics and improved audio, but few manage to improve on the original in terms of pure gameplay. That said, Xevious 3D/G+ is a very
pleasant surprise. The original Xevious was a "semi-classic" vertical shooter from the early 80s. Its innovative overhead viewpoint allowed you to shoot UFOs in the sky while bombing ground installations below. Xevious 3D/G+ retains the same awesome gameplay, but incorporates interesting 3D graphics and devastating new weapons. Best of all, there's a fantastic two-player co-op mode. My friend George and I played this thing for weeks on end, despite being overwhelmed by the tremendous difficulty. The later stages are pretty much impossible, but this is still one of the best shooters to grace the Playstation. The original Xevious is also included on the disk as a nice bonus. © Copyright 1999 The Video Game Critic.
Yu-Gi-Oh! Forbidden Memories
Publisher: Konami (2002)
Rating: Everyone (violence)
As a fan of the Yu-Gi-Oh card game I was pretty psyched up about this. I hadn't been too keen on the overly-complex PS2 edition of Yu-Gi-Oh, but from the box it looked like Forbidden Memories followed the card game pretty closely. Sadly, that's not the case. Although it looks
very similar, Forbidden Memories alters a lot of rules, and the results are less than pleasing. As in the card game, each player fields five monster and five magic cards. By positioning your cards face down or in a defensive position, you strategically battle your opponent. Unfortunately, the monsters here don't have any special abilities, which is a major element in the card game. The key to this game is "fusing" combinations of monsters and magic to produce more powerful cards. The problem is, you have no idea which cards fuse together! It's all trial and error, which causes you to needless discard incompatible cards and lose matches in the process. Naturally, your CPU opponent knows exactly
which cards go together. Other problems include the lack of a tutorial, and the inability to save after every match in the story mode (sometimes you're forced to play again immediately!). The graphics and music are more than adequate, and the game moves at a brisk pace, but the incomprehensible gameplay spoils what should have been a real treat for fans. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.
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