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Salamander Deluxe Pack Plus (Japan)
Grade: B+
Publisher: Konami (1997)
Reviewed: 2009/5/2

screenshotWho was the marketing genius who convinced Konami that 2D shooters wouldn't sell in America? That idiot single-handedly deprived an entire continent some of the best games for the Sega Saturn! Salamander Deluxe is a slick compilation of three space shooters that will thrill old-school fans. The first title, the original Salamander (1986), is a Gradius spin-off that alternatives between side-scrolling and vertical stages. The power-ups come early and often, allowing you to accumulate multiple satellite orbs (called "options") which shoot alongside of your ship. The caves you explore and enemies you encounter are biological in nature, so expect a lot of worms, giant claws, and oozing sacks of puss. I really don't like having to shoot my way through those fleshy walls, especially when they can regenerate and swallow you up. The first boss, a grotesque floating eye with swirling arms, became a trademark of the series. The second title, Life Force, is actually a re-release of Salamander with new color scheme and selectable power-ups. The music is a little cute and the voice effects are cheesy ("destroy violent antibiotics!"), but there's no denying the intense, action-packed gameplay. The horizontal stages are much better than the vertical ones. The vertical areas are too difficult, especially when you're dodging huge orbs and enemy ships materialize out of nowhere. The third title is Salamander 2 (1996), and this "modern remake" is a real treat. It smartly retains the classic Salamander gameplay while giving the graphics a 3D makeover. The long slithering things are back, but this time they're bigger and slimier. This game is like a high-tech version of Bio Hazard Battle (Genesis, 1992). The first boss appears to be the familiar eyeball monster, but it's immediately swallowed up by a larger, nastier beast! Wow - that caught me off-guard! All three games are extremely hectic, and once you accumulate four or five options, it can be hard to keep track of your ship on the screen! High scores are saved automatically, but I couldn't figure out how to switch between the three games without manually resetting the console. I'm really glad I picked up one of those heavy duty Saturn joysticks back in the day, because it is tailor-made for twitch shooters like these. © Copyright 2009 The Video Game Critic.

1 or 2 players 


Scorcher
Grade: D+
Publisher: Sega (1997)
Reviewed: 2011/8/10
Rating: Kids to Adults

screenshotScorcher's back-story explains how in the year 2021 the cities of the world have been reduced to wastelands due to war and pollution. Why in the hell do these futuristic games always have to be so damned depressing? I was expecting Scorcher to be a Wipeout clone, but its brand of racing action is more akin to Super Monkey Ball (GameCube, 2001). The racers are encased in green wireframe balls that "roll" along the course. That's great, but whose idea was it to make everyone the same color? When several get bunched up, it's impossible to tell which ball is you! The control scheme lets you accelerate, jump, and turbo boost. Power-ups appear in the form of triangles on the course, and I love how the way they shatter as you roll over them. Scorcher requires a careful, deliberate approach because it's easy to roll off the edge of the course and the braking system sucks. Advanced stages are especially hard because the roads are narrow and there are fewer barriers to keep you on track. Upon initiating a speed boost the trailing green smoke makes it look like you've unleashed a mega-fart. The controls are not good. The steering wheel works better than expected but it's not a miracle worker. The most appealing aspect of the game is its desolate, post-apocalyptic atmosphere. The elevated tracks run through dark industrial areas, abandoned freeways, canals of toxic waste, and twisting tunnels. They look impressive, thanks in part to some programming trickery. Darkness effectively hides the fact that there's minimal scenery in the foreground, and fantastic digitized backdrops convey the illusion of an expansive world in the distance. The silhouettes of dead trees in the opening stage look creepy, and the futuristic city skyline of the third stage looks spectacular. I love how the sun shimmers against those glass buildings. Complementing the postmodern visuals are pulsating techno beats that perfectly match the overall tone. The game offers a championship mode and time trial modes, and best times are recorded. Scorcher has a few interesting audio/visual elements, but the gameplay doesn't exactly set the world on fire. © Copyright 2011 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 


Scud The Disposable Assassin
Grade: F
Publisher: Segasoft (1997)
Reviewed: 2003/11/2
Rating: Teen (animated blood and violence)

screenshotI normally enjoy light gun shooters, but Scud is so unpleasant to play that I actually had to turn it off mid-game. Despite good control and double-barrel action, the relentlessly repetitive gameplay is enough to make you nauseous. The whimsical graphics and grating storyline have something to do with a robot programmed for assassination who develops a mind of his own. The unimaginative stages take place in a robot factory, a desert, a zombie-infested town, and outer space. Scud is fun for the first minute or two, with waves of robots entering the screen in various formations for you to blow to bits. Occasionally a pudgy little human appears in the scenery, but it doesn't seem to matter if you blast him or not. Unfortunately, the fun degenerates quickly as the same waves of targets appear again and again ad nauseum. It's as though Sega was trying to address the common complaint that light gun games are too short by making the game twice as long as it should have been. The repeating 2D visuals are extremely uninteresting, and the incoming enemies feature the Saturn's trademark pixilation. There are a few unique elements, like enemies with shields that you need to knock back with continuous shots, and zombies that remove their heads and hurl them at you. Sometimes you can choose you path, but wherever you go in a stage, it all looks the same. Playing with one gun is far too difficult, but playing two-handed is too easy, allowing you to keep forging ahead for as long as you can tolerate it. Playing Scud is simply a miserable experience that Saturn owners should try to avoid. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.

1 or 2 players 


Sega Ages
Grade: A-
Publisher: Sega (1997)
Reviewed: 2007/5/1
Rating: Kids to Adults

screenshotThis classy compilation contains three popular arcade titles from the late-80's: Outrun, Space Harrier, and Afterburner II. Not only are these arcade-perfect, but they have options menus and your high scores are automatically saved! If only there were more games! All three titles utilize scaling sprites to render objects approaching from the horizon, and while appearing somewhat rudimentary and pixelated, they do possess a certain old-school charm. Afterburner II is a jet shooter, and it's one of the most chaotic games I've ever played. When the screen becomes littered with spinning planes, awesome explosions, and trails of smoke, it's almost impossible to tell what the hell is going on! You're equipped with cannons and guided missiles, and can kick in your "afterburner" by tapping the Z button twice. Fast-moving ground scenery conveys a genuine sense of speed, and the use of color is excellent as locations change and day turns to night. Interestingly, this is the exact same Afterburner that appeared on the 32X, although the graphics look a bit sharper here. The second game is Space Harrier, where you control a guy in a jetpack flying over surrealistic landscapes. There are plenty of memorable adversaries include flying "slinky" dragons and fire-breathing floating stone heads. The ground below resembles a flat green checkerboard, but you'll need to avoid the occasional trees and columns. Space Harrier is fun as long as you don't try to make sense of it. Am I shooting clouds in the first stage, or are those floating rocks? And how come when I shoot something it appears to immediately dive into the ground at 100 miles per hour? The last entry, Outrun, is the strongest of the three, placing you in a convertible with some blond chick as you race through a series of exotic stages. The eye candy is abundant as roadside scenery like palm trees and ancient ruins scale by and the road undulates smoothly. The road branches at regular intervals, adding a little variety. Most memorable however is when your car crashes and flips, sending you and your girl tumbling with it! Despite the fact that it's one-player only and lacks the bonus materials, I really enjoyed Sega Ages. With their simple, "twitch" brand of gameplay, these titles will keep you coming back to beat your high scores. © Copyright 2007 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 


Sega Rally Championship
Grade: A+
Publisher: Sega (1996)
Reviewed: 2008/4/30
Rating: Kids to Adults

screenshotIt took a while for Sega to produce a top-of-the-line racer for the Saturn (Daytona was considered a disappointment), but all of the pieces fell nicely into place with this one. As the premiere racing game for the system, Sega Rally offers fantastic off-road driving action with smooth visuals and sublime controls. The finely detailed vehicles lean into turns, execute power slides with ease, and kick up mud realistically. The three tracks (desert, forest, and mountain) aren't spectacular, but offer bright, attractive scenery with minimal pop-up. The silky-smooth frame rate really helps you get into a groove, and the jazzy soundtrack isn't bad either. You can view the action from behind your car, or try the more difficult first-person angle. Helpful voice and arrow cues alert you to upcoming turns and hazards. Like any good off-road racer, the key is executing controlled power slides over slippery terrain. Careening around corners half-way out of control is exhilarating, and banging into other cars is all part of the fun. Playing modes include practice, championship, two-player split screen, and time attack. The game automatically saves your best times, which enhances the replay value. You can customize your car and even compete against "ghosts" from previous runs. As a well-balanced blend of driving realism and arcade fun, Sega Rally Championship is arguably the best Saturn game of all time. © Copyright 2008 The Video Game Critic.

Recommended variation: Desert Time
Our high score: BSC 2'51"25
1 or 2 players 


Sega Touring Car Championship
Grade: D
Publisher: Sega (1997)
Reviewed: 2005/2/13
Rating: Kids to Adult

screenshotHow could it be that Sega released a racer for the Saturn that I've never even heard of? Oh, I see - because it sucks, that's why. Apparently after Sega Rally, Sega was anxious to put out another racer - any racer - in order to capitalize upon its success. Sega Touring Car is a conventional racer with normal tracks and pit stops, but it lacks the style of Daytona and the finesse of Sega Rally. The one and only thing it has to offer is pure velocity. Yes, the sensation of speed is quite convincing as the pavement whizzes below your boxy racecar. If only you could steer! I'm normally quite proficient at video game racers, but on these narrow roads I was constantly banging into walls. Even with the "3D" analog controller, I was oversteering like a [expletive] [expletive]. I don't even know what a "touring car" is, but apparently they are forced to race on the most boring tracks on earth. There's really nothing to see outside of the wall-lined courses, and the high speeds make it hard to anticipate upcoming turns. But the worst part of Sega Touring Car, by far, is when you ACCIDENTALLY pull into that God-forsaken pit stop area. Like most racers, the pit stop is just a waste of time and if you use it, you're guaranteed to lose. I suppose the same could be said about playing this game. © Copyright 2005 The Video Game Critic.

1 or 2 players 


Shinobi Legions
Grade: A
Publisher: Vic Tokai (1995)
Reviewed: 2001/11/22
Rating: Teen

screenshotOne of Sega's most enduring characters, Shinobi first appeared on the Master System and several hit Genesis titles. With Shinobi Legions, the sword-swinging/star-throwing ninja makes an impressive transition to the Saturn, getting a graphical makeover while keeping the rock-solid gameplay intact. The characters are completely digitized and smoothly animated, and even the multi-layered backgrounds have a photo realistic look. Shinobi has many new techniques, including about a dozen stab/slash moves, and the ability to hang from rails and block projectiles. He can even swing his sword like a baseball bat and swat enemy projectiles back the other way! There's no shortage of gore either. Enemies get cut in two, with the top half sliding slowly off the bottom. There are nine quality levels, and one has more tree fighting than Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. Before each new level there's a movie-quality video segment that explains the story line. Shinobi Legions far surpassed my expectations. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 


Skeleton Warriors
Grade: B
Publisher: Sega (1995)
Reviewed: 2002/9/3
Rating: Kids to Adults

screenshotThis hack-n-slash game made me realize how much I love old school, 2D gameplay. In this action-packed side-scroller, you must dispatch of an army of skeleton warriors using your sword and special attacks. The skeletons aren't hard to hack up, but unless you grab their "heartstone" right away, they can regenerate and come back to life. This neat feature adds a bit of originality to an otherwise standard formula. Moves include jump, block, several sword attacks, and a selectable special attack. In addition to skeletons, you'll also face rabid dogs, huge birds, and some impressive bosses. The 3D scenery is well rendered but not particularly intriguing. There are some platforms to jump, but only a few. The characters are large, finely detailed, and have a "claymation" quality to them. Some stages feature snow, which is always a nice bonus. Apocalyptic background music really adds to the intensity. Skeleton Warriors is hard as hell, and you'll soon discover that it will take more than non-stop hacking to beat this game - use your special attacks strategically. There's even a slick 3D hover bike level to break up the monotony. Skeleton Warriors is a surprisingly good time. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 


Slam and Jam
Grade: A-
Publisher: Crystal Dynamics (1996)
Reviewed: 2000/12/24
Rating: Kids to Adults

screenshotI wasn't expecting this to be any good, but I'm hooked! Slam and Jam offers all the arcade basketball action of NBA Jam, except with five-on-five gameplay and pseudo-3D graphics. I say "pseudo" because the players are actually large sprites that scale in and out - there are no polygon graphics in this game. A camera follows the action from one end of the court, and while the players do get a pixelated up close, they're animated nice and smooth. Each game is a fast-moving, up-and-down contest with plenty of spectacular plays. The control is tight, allowing you to block, rebound, steal, pass, and dunk with ease. You can even perform advanced maneuvers like shaking defenders and setting picks. The dunks are definitely NBA Jam-inspired, with guys flying through the air from well beyond the free throw line. Sometimes they even hang on the rim - always a crowd pleaser! As offensive-minded as this game is, it's still quite possible to steal the ball and block shots. There's no NBA license, so the players are fictional with the exception of Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabaar, who perform all of their signature moves. Slam and Jam's audio is above average, with crisp sound effects and intermittent play-by-play. It's not the most realistic game in town, but if you're looking for a fun basketball game, this is it!! © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.

1 to 4 players 


Solar Eclipse
Grade: D
Publisher: Crystal Dynamics (1995)
Reviewed: 2000/12/24
Rating: Teen

screenshotIf ever a game begged for analog control, it's Solar Eclipse. In this mediocre shooter, you view your ship from behind while navigating through valleys and caves of a distant planet, blowing everything to bits while avoiding enemy fire. Unfortunately, the stiff control only allows for very sharp turning, and destroying anything that's not directly in front of you almost impossible. The cockpit view is a slight improvement, but not much. Between levels you can watch over-acted video clips which attempt to weave a lame storyline into the game. Why bother? The game box brags about "over 40 minutes of video starring Claudia Christian", but watch a few minutes of the video and you'll understand why they don't use video clips in games anymore. The gameplay itself is fair. There are plenty of things to shoot at and the explosions look nice. Lasers are your main weapon, but a limited supply of heat-seeking missiles swarm on all potential targets. The graphics are decent, and the corner of the screen has a little video box which lets you see and hear other members of your squad. Despite the lousy control, Solar Eclipse isn't a total loss. You might even have some fun with it. But probably not. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 


Sonic 3D Blast
Grade: C-
Publisher: Sega (1996)
Reviewed: 2014/1/17
Rating: Kids to Adults

screenshotIf you want to enjoy Sonic 3D Blast on the Saturn, do yourself a favor and play the Genesis version first. Both look the same at a glance, but superior audio and subtle visual effects gives this the clear edge. Not a true 3D title, Blast uses an isometric view to convey the illusion of tiered platforms (a la Marble Madness). The marbled tiles and stone walls are beautifully textured, and I loved the periodic downpours that occur in the Rusty Ruins zone. Water puddles splash as you run through them, rope bridges sway, and you'll even spot animals lurking in the scenery. But what really makes this version exceptional is its beautiful music. The flowing beats, soothing pianos, and dramatic vocals put you in a relaxed, dreamlike trance. This might be the best music I've ever heard in any video game! Sadly, Sonic 3D Blast suffers from the same issues that hampered its Genesis counterpart. Namely, it's just not that good. Judging jumps is hard, the collision detection is suspect, and your momentum tends to carry you into danger. Collecting wandering birdies can be a tedious chore, especially when dealing with proximity mines and other annoying hazards. The stages are incredibly uneven in quality. To reach the gorgeous winter zone you'll need to survive the nightmarish "Spring Stadium" stage with its assortment of painful devices - akin to a torture chamber, only less pleasant. The map on the pause screen is useless, and the half-pipe bonus stages are a carbon copy of those in Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (Genesis, 1992). At least the "bridge" bonus stages in the Genesis Sonic 3D Blast were original! The lack of a save mechanism is a tremendous oversight considering this isn't the kind of game you can zip through. Sonic 3D Blast is playable on the Saturn, but compared to Sonic's 2D adventures this one rings hollow. © Copyright 2014 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 125,000
1 player 


Sonic Jam
Grade: A-
Publisher: Sega (1997)
Reviewed: 2000/6/27
Rating: Kids to Adults

screenshotSonic Jam was somewhat of a cop-out on Sega's part. Apparently they couldn't get a real 3D Sonic adventure game done in time, so they took what they had and threw in four old Sonic games from the Genesis. The final result is a nice package, but less than most people were hoping for. First of all, you get the Genesis versions of Sonic 1, 2, 3, and Sonic and Knuckles . The graphics and sound aren't any better, but you do get extra options like stage select and time trial modes! That's fine, but the centerpiece is Sonic World, a cool little 3D adventure full of mini quests which let you access all kinds of Sonic memorabilia, including artwork, history, videos, commercials, and information on all the old Sonic games. It's a heck of a lot of fun to play, but it makes you wish they could have made the whole game like this, instead of rehashing old titles. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 


Sonic R
Grade: C+
Publisher: Sega (1997)
Reviewed: 2000/6/27
Rating: Kids to Adults

screenshotSega couldn't manage a 3D Sonic adventure for the Saturn, but at least they were able to make this fairly decent racing game. It pits Sonic against other characters from the series in beautiful 3D environments, complete with loops, shortcuts, and powerups. It's an amazing looking game, with fast, colorful graphics that make you feel like you're on a rollercoaster ride. Unfortunately, the controls make it tough to stay in the middle of the narrow tracks, even with the analog controller. You often end up off the track or underwater, looking for a way to get back. I should also mention that there is some excellent R&B dance music that plays in the background of each stage, and two players can go head-to-head via a split-screen mode. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.

1 or 2 players 


Soukyugurentai Otokuyo (Japan)
Grade: A
Publisher: Electronic Arts (1997)
Reviewed: 2009/9/19

screenshotOf all the Japanese-imported shooters I own for the Saturn, Soukyugurentai Otokuyo is probably my favorite, despite the fact I can't pronounce its name to save my life. Soukyugurentai is more sophisticated than other vertical shooters of its ilk. You tap the fire button to shoot rapidly, but holding it down deploys a wireframe "net" that causes each enemy in range to become locked-on. Upon releasing the button, you unleash a barrage of weaponry that chases down all targeted enemies. This type of mechanism has been seen in other games including Ray Crisis (Playstation 2000) and the Panzer Dragoon series. It's very satisfying to use, especially when it comes to locating weak spots on bosses. The B button deploys bombs, and you'll be wise to use them defensively. In addition to 2D sprites, Souyugurentai employs 3D polygons to render bosses and scenery. The stages are quite inventive. In the first, you fly over a city at night, and the lighted bridges and skyscrapers are a beautiful sight. The second stage takes place over a space station with a looming blue planet in the background. The third stage is set over a desert, and it's wild to see the sand kicked up by vehicles riding across the dusty terrain. I also love the way the supply trucks tumble when you blast them from behind. The next stage is a throw-back of sorts, combining elements of Galaga and Asteroids. It's really hard to find fault with this game. Constant power-ups keep your firepower potent, and the bosses are mighty but not unreasonable. The two-player simultaneous mode is fun because the increased visual chaos is offset by slow-down, keeping the difficulty on an even keel. So don't let the name scare you away. I play this game every day and I love it. © Copyright 2009 The Video Game Critic.

1 or 2 players 


Space Hulk
Grade: F
Publisher: Electronic Arts (1996)
Reviewed: 2005/7/31
Rating: Teen (13+) (animated blood and gore)

screenshotSpace Hulk is a complicated game that combines first-person shooting with real-time strategy. Though certainly original, it isn't much fun to play. Had it been fun, we might all be playing Space Hulk 4 by now. In any case, the idea is to control of a squad of robots on a series of missions set in monster-infested mazes. You issue commands to each robot from a map screen, and you can even watch them perform their duties from this overhead viewpoint. Taking control of any individual robot gives you a nice first-person view of the action, allowing you to navigate hallways and blast creatures as you would in any Doom-style game. Although the frame-rate is far smoother than the 3DO version of Space Hulk, the hallways look far more pixilated. Also problematic is how the cursor moves way too fast on the map screen. Space Hulk's gameplay requires a lot of trial and error along with a heavy time investment. In my humble opinion, it's just not worth the effort. It may have been an adequate 3DO game, but on a system like the Saturn, it just doesn't measure up. © Copyright 2005 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 


Spot Goes To Hollywood
Grade: D-
Publisher: Virgin (1996)
Reviewed: 2005/12/21
Rating: Kids to Adults

screenshotAfter making a splash on the Genesis, the 7-Up "red dot" mascot appeared to have a promising video game career ahead of him. But this sorry sequel put the kabash on that! It's a shame, because Spot Goes to Hollywood had a lot going for it. With its likeable main character, excellent production values, and the power of the Saturn behind it, how could it fail? By switching to an isometric (diagonal tilted overhead) point of view - that's how. This game is barely playable! Right off the bat, the controls just don't "feel" right. Pushing up causes Spot to walk diagonally, which is counter-intuitive. The game is played in a 3D space, but the awkward viewpoint and unforgiving collision detection make it impossible to gauge your jumps. You'll leap up to grab an object, but if you're even slightly off, you'll miss and appear to pass right through it. The stages feature some exciting themes, including a pirate ship, haunted house, jungle, and even a Jurassic Park-inspired area. So how come they're so frickin' boring? Probably because the stage designs are painfully uninspired, loaded with cheap hits and spiked pits. The controls are so bad that I would sometimes accidentally jump off the side of the pirate ship! The 3D scenery is plush and attractive, but the creatures resemble flat, 2D cartoons! Spot's music, sound effects, and stage intros are nice, but who cares when the gameplay sucks this bad? Losing a life means you have to restart the entire stage - unreal! When the game ends, you hear a director exclaim, "Cut cut! This is not working. I don't think you're made for this business." I think that pretty much sums it up. © Copyright 2005 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 


Steep Slope Sliders
Grade: B
Publisher: Sega (1997)
Reviewed: 2005/12/21
Rating: Kids to Adults


screenshotCompared to its closest rival, Cool Boarders (Playstation, 1997), Steep Slope Sliders has the definite edge, mainly due to its smoother graphics and more forgiving gameplay. The visuals are somewhat pixelated (especially those sorry-looking cardboard "people" standing around), but the powdery snow surface looks nice as it flows under your board. The game is easy-to-play, fun, and conveys a nice sense of speed. The courses tend to be wide-open and easy to navigate, although that's partially due to the game's lousy collision detection, which sometimes lets you pass right through obstacles like barrels. The turn control could be better as well - it's not easy to "carve" the more narrow sections. The tricks are a cinch to perform (especially compared to Coolboarders), and you get plenty of opportunities to catch air. There are even rails to grind - unprecedented for a snowboarding game in 1997. The courses are generally unspectacular, but occasionally they'll wind through some scenic caverns or quaint little towns. In addition to normal downhill trails, you also get alpine and "snow park" courses which let you practice different skills. There's a lot of good in Steep Slope Sliders, but the game falters on occasion. First, it's awfully easy to get "stuck" in the middle of the course, and it's frustrating as you attempt to "hop" your way back onto the main trail. After practically every run, the game prompts you to enter your initials and save, which is a real hassle. And instead of letting you change courses between runs, the poorly-designed menus force you to quit back to the main menu first! Finally, the soundtrack is bizarre and generally bad. It's got this new age/techno thing happening, but the repetitive beats sound like a broken record. Turn it down so you can hear the "whoosh" of the snow instead. Steep Slope Sliders has some problems, but if you want a good winter game for the Saturn, this won't let you down. © Copyright 2005 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 


Street Fighter Alpha
Grade: A
Publisher: Capcom (1995)
Reviewed: 2008/4/30
Rating: Teen

screenshotWhen I originally purchased the Playstation version of Street Fighter Alpha, I was really bummed out by the outrageously long load times. It was hard to enjoy the game! I also recall how Saturn fans boasted about their superior version of Street Fighter Alpha. Ya know what? They were right! This Saturn edition still has load times, but they're quite reasonable (under 15 seconds). Although subtitled "Warriors' Dreams", this is really a gamer's dream. The Alpha series took Street Fighter 2's basic gameplay and spiced it up with a new line-up, larger characters, and more fluid animation. The roster includes newcomers Sodom, Birdie, Adon, Rose, Guy, and a Guile clone named Charlie. Returning fighters include Ryu, Ken, Sagat, and Chun Li (now wearing tight blue pants). The fights are crazy fun and can be enjoyed by gamers of any skill level. Novice players will experience limited success by button mashing, but experts will uncover all sorts of subtle techniques to hone their skills. The "super combos" are tricky to pull off, but very satisfying when they work. For beginners, an "auto" mode lets you execute super combos without all the fancy joystick movements. The new "alpha counter" reversals look great, although I can only seem to pull them off by accident. The new victory icons that represent the deciding moves of each round (throw, special, etc) are a nice touch. The fresh set of backgrounds include a train depot, the Roman Coliseum, and the Great Wall of China. Bourbon Street (of New Orleans) is represented, but it looks awfully sparse. In general the stages are very understated and lack the charm of those in Street Fighter 2. Likewise the uninspired music tracks sound like Street Fighter 2 outtakes. There's no auto-save feature, but high scores and "master rankings" can be saved manually. But these are minor quibbles considering the quality of Street Fighter Alpha's gameplay, which is outstanding. Saturn fans were justified in bragging about this game. © Copyright 2008 The Video Game Critic.

1 or 2 players 


Street Fighter Alpha 2
Grade: A+
Publisher: Capcom (1996)
Reviewed: 2008/4/30
Rating: Kids to Adults

screenshotI don't think I'm going out on a limb when I proclaim this to be the best Saturn fighting game of all time. This was arguably the pinnacle of 2D fighting. Street Fighter Alpha 2 takes an already great game and ups the ante with a larger roster, flashier graphics, and more interesting stages. Several familiar faces return to the cast, including Bison, Akuma, Dhalsim, and Zangief. Newcomers include a cute schoolgirl named Sakura, an old Asian guy named Gen, and a weapons-equipped military man by the name of Rolento. The layered backgrounds are more rich and dynamic than those in the first Alpha. The party cruise stage with its scantily clad women offers ample eye candy, but the most amazing sight is the huge hovering jet fighter in the downtown roof stage! Holy cow! Alpha 2's gameplay is solid as ever, and adventurous gamers can indulge themselves with new "custom combos". A survival mode is now available in addition to arcade, versus, and training. There's an autosave function, as well as a gallery of unlockable illustrations. Street Fighter Alpha 2 is billed as a "precise translation" of the arcade game, and it's hard to argue. Not even Street Fighter Alpha 3 (Playstation, 1999) could touch this masterpiece. © Copyright 2008 The Video Game Critic.

1 or 2 players 


Street Fighter The Movie
Grade: C-
Publisher: Capcom (1995)
Reviewed: 2001/11/22
Rating: Teen

screenshotThis is an interesting fighter than didn't go over big with the Street Fighter crowd. In 1995, Street Fighter II was getting old, and was in desperate need of some type of innovation to keep the series afloat. 3D was the obvious answer, but polygon graphics weren't quite ready yet. Digitizing the fighters seemed like a sound decision, especially on the heels of the Street Fighter Movie. I found it interesting to see how the characters I've grown to love over the years were portrayed with real actors. For the most part, the digitized characters are a good match for their animated predecessors. Cammy and Chun Li look very... provocative (wink wink, nudge nudge). Van Damm makes for a great Guile, but Blanka looks like Bozo the clown! And what's the deal with the brown-haired Ken? That's not right. And personally, I couldn't care less about this new guy Sawada. Anyhow, the moves are nearly identical to those in Street Fighter II. Although the fighters look good enough, the digitized backgrounds are surprisingly dull. But the game's real downfall is its mediocre fighting engine. The controls are unresponsive, the animation is choppy, and there's even some nasty slowdown. There were even times when I found my fighter facing the wrong direction! Another annoyance is the orange and yellow "blood" that looks more like flames! Overall, Street Fighter The Movie definitely has a unique look, but the action is badly flawed. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.

1 or 2 players 


Striker '96
Grade: C-
Publisher: Acclaim (1996)
Reviewed: 2001/4/24
Rating: Kids to Adults

screenshotThe soccer footage that introduces this game has got to be the most unwatchable, pixelated mess I've ever seen, but Strike '96 is not a bad soccer game. With fast gameplay and sprite graphics, it reminded me of the FIFA games on the Genesis. You view the field vertically, which works out better than you might expect. There are 38 teams to choose from, and up to four players can compete at once. Arcade fans will appreciate the kinetic, fast pace of this game. The ball shoots around like a pinball, and the animation never gets choppy. Purists will wish the pace were slower so they could perform their special moves, employ more strategy, and simply control the ball better. The field looks good, but the tiny players aren't as impressive. Automatic instant replays do a good job of capturing dramatic moments, but a lack of a zoom prevents you from getting a really good view. The sound effects and commentary are sparse, to say the least. Striker isn't great, but there's some fun to be had here. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.

1 to 4 players 



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Screen shots courtesy of Shinforce, Games Database, Video Game Museum, GameSpot, Rotten Tomatoes, Racket Boy, GameFAQs.com, Old Games News, Hardcore Gaming 101, IGN.com

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