Addams Family, The (CD)
Publisher: NEC (1991)
Fire up this CD and you'll be treated to the theme song from the original
Addams Family television show. It's a nice touch, and for the first time I can actually understand the words! You play the role of cousin Alfred Tully who is looking to cash in on the Addams' family fortune. The action gets off to a rough start as you navigate a graveyard while avoiding golf balls and pools of acid. Then you're forced to fight Uncle Fester while being inundated with spiders and bats. If you can persevere, the game really opens up. Doors of various colors line the hallways of the mansion, each containing challenges and surprises. You can shoot with your umbrella, and the rapid-fire setting comes in handy. You collect colored keys which gradually give you access to more rooms, and it's fun to see what each one has in store. There's a torture chamber with traps, a conservatory with man-eating plants, a haunted dining hall, and a room with a running train. In Wednesday's bedroom you'll battle a series of possessed toys - including an NES console!
Under most circumstances I wouldn't dream
of destroying a perfectly good NES, but this thing was trying to kill
me! Exploring is fun but the mansion layout is confusing. Different doors can lead to the same room, and one even dumps you outside of the house! To avoid revisiting the same rooms you may even want to map them out. The graphics are good (check out the audience on the bottom of the screen), and the creepy ghouls come in an amazing variety. The CD-quality audio however is what really steals the show. The eerie music and spine-tingling sound effects create a chilling aura of foreboding. From the creepy organ music, to the booming thunder, to the cackle of laughter, the audio is absolutely first-rate. The "game over" screen features the sound of crickets, and you'll be hard-pressed to tell if it's coming from your game or from outside. Unfortunately they did not use the actors from the movie for the voices, and that's obvious. Still, the Addams Family is a unique, engaging platformer that's far more interesting than its SNES cousin. © Copyright 2012 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 123,500
Publisher: NEC (1990)
You can get better shooters for your Turbografx, but this one isn't too shabby, especially since two people can play cooperatively. You and a friend will fly through bright skies and dark caverns while blasting jets, flying robots, and giant mechanical bosses. The opening stage is very inviting with its sunny harbor view. One button is used to engage your rapid-fire cannon and the other serves as a weak smart bomb that needs to be charged. Shooting transport pods causes icons to spew forth, and with a little skill you can grab the icon of your choice before it falls off the screen. One of the more interesting power-ups is the "bumper" (or "skis") which add protective barriers above and below your ship. These make it a lot
easier to navigate the high-speed, narrow tunnels of stage two. Aeroblasters has its share of quirks but they just add to its charm. When you destroy enemies the resulting explosion blows towards
you. It looks odd at first, but it's probably correct from a physics point of view (think about it!). Also strange is how it's really hard to tell when you die
. When your ship takes a fatal hit, it's not readily apparent until it slowly falls off the screen in a trail of smoke. My friend Shawn once referred to this as "the longest death sequence ever seen in a shooter". It's the same deal with larger enemies, who you continue to pelt with missiles before realizing they've been completely incapacitated. I like how your crashing ship can collide with enemies and even take out ground installations to earn some last-ditch points. I also like how after going through all of your continues the game remembers what your best round was. Aeroblasters may be a routine shooter on the Turbografx, but it's still a quality title. And in an age when 2D shooters are an endangered species, this one is looking better all the time. © Copyright 2011 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 20,780,000
1 or 2 players
Publisher: Hudson Soft (1992)
This rare title takes the Turbografx's prehistoric, platform-jumping mascot and incorporates him into a wild, quirky shooter. It sounds like a surefire hit, but the first time I played Air Zonk I was positively annoyed
by its busy graphics, weak weapons, and confusing "friend" system. It's a good thing I gave the easy mode a try, because only then did this game begin to make sense. Zonk is actually a futuristic version of the loveable bald-headed caveman of Bonk's Adventure and Bonk's Revenge. You can tell Zonk and his friends are from the future because they all wear sunglasses! Air Zonk features attractive, cartoonish graphics rendered with bright colors and huge sprites. The initial stage takes place in a harbor, and then moves on to a city, and later an outdoor stadium. Your adversaries tend to be large, personified objects like helicopters, floating televisions, and flying octopus. The imaginative bosses are mechanical monstrosities with multiple sections and flailing appendages. Zonk is propelled by a jet pack, and can employ a number of inventive weapons. One sprays playing cards all over the screen, and another unleashes a stream of metal jaws. Holding down the fire button initiates a "charged" shot, and if you hold it long enough, it functions as a smart bomb - inflicting heavy damage to everything on the screen. I also like how Zonk automatically fries creatures behind him using the exhaust of his jet pack. When a special icon is acquired, one of Zonk's buddies is called in to shoot by his side. These wacky, invincible characters range from an inflated cow, to a mummy, to a gigantic bullet! This "friend" system is cheap but effective. There were times when a boss was ripping me to shreds, but my "friend" pretty much defeated him for me as I methodically depleted my lives. Another icon lets you "meld" with your friend, creating one massive shooting machine. Air Zonk is generally fun but there are a few issues. While the bosses look terrific, they tend to consume most of the screen and their projectiles are awfully hard to avoid. If you're playing for score, you'd better keep an eye on it, because the second you lose that final life it disappears. And as I mentioned, you'll want to stick with the easy mode. Air Zonk's soundtrack is probably its best feature, pumping out some of the best tunes I've heard on this system. So if you're tired of playing generic T-16 shooters that all look the same, it may be time to track down a copy of Air Zonk. © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: NEC (1989)
Obviously based on the Alien movies, this pinball game features cocoons, extended jaws, crawling face-grabbers, and even an alien queen. How NEC avoided paying for the movie license is beyond me. As a fan of the series (the first two films at least), I really appreciate the remarkable graphics and sound this game has to offer. The table is a creepy, slimy alien lair with creatures coming out of the woodwork and plenty of cool animations. The ominous music and chilling sound effects also contribute to the bleak atmosphere. The flipper control is responisve, but the nudge control isn't very effective. Besides the main table there are several bonus mini-tables that challenge you to knock off a bunch of creepy crawlers. So what's the problem with Alien Crush? Well, first and foremost, instead of scrolling up and down, the screen flips
between two sections that represent the top and bottom of the board. This works okay when the ball is stuck on one end, but sometimes the ball shoots rapidly between the two sections, resulting in an ugly, disorienting effect. Trust me, it's bad. I'm not sure why NEC didn't make the screen scroll; I mean, they only do it in all their other games
! Besides that major flaw, the game is simply too easy. It goes on and on long after you've seen everything there is to see. Alien Crush is certainly impressive looking, but this could have benefitted from some polish and tuning. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: NEC (1992)
I'm all for originality, but Ballistix is far too chaotic to be considered a good game. It's like air-hockey minus the control. The game is played via an overhead view of a vertically-scrolling, futuristic arena. The object is to knock a bouncing black ball into your goal. But instead of handling it directly, you rapidly fire a stream of silver balls, hoping to deflect
the black ball into the goal. It's an idea that's never been done before, and never will be done again (God willing). With dozens of bouncing balls on the screen at any given time, there's too much going on to employ any degree of strategy. You basically just try to stay under the ball and propel it in the general direction of your goal and hope for the best. As the rounds progress, obstacles and gravity fields are placed onto the arena, but these don't improve the gameplay at all, and often just get in the way. The two-player mode is an absolute mess, but the single player mode is worth a shot, allowing you to compete against gravity in a series of obstacle-laden arenas. It's playable but so easy that the game just goes on and on long after you've lost interest. The graphics in Ballistix are fairly dull, so NEC tried to spice things up by having a giant demon drop the ball to start each match. He also says something, but I couldn't make it out due to his garbled, congested voice. Those hell-spawn really need to lay off the Starbucks lattes! The best part of the game may be its driving electronic soundtrack. I'd like to give NEC credit for trying something new, but I can't imagine anybody going nuts over Ballistix. © Copyright 2007 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: NEC (1989)
This vertical shooter must have been amazing
when it hit the scene in 1989. Its excellent graphics feature an incredible number of objects moving on the screen at any given time, with no hint of slow-down. There's a nice selection of weapons, each with their own intensity levels. With such extensive firepower, it's easy to forget that you also have a supply of bombs, which lay waste to large areas at a time. The sound effects are outstanding and the orchestrated sci-fi music is also well done. Be warned however: Blazing Lazers is one long
game. While the space station graphics in the background look fine, they tend to repeat over and over, artificially lengthening each stage. The challenge as well. The first level is terribly easy, with so many power-ups you can barely avoid them. Be sure to take advantage of this opportunity to build up a healthy supply of ships and bombs, because you'll need them for level two, where the action really
heats up. There are twelve bosses in all! Blazing Lazers ranks as yet another fine shooter for the T-16. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: NEC (1990)
Bloody Wolf excels with the same type of twitch gameplay that made Rambo and Ikari Warriors so much fun. In the unlikely background story, the President has been kidnapped and you need to infiltrate a jungle camp in order to rescue him. Your one-man army is equipped with a machine gun and grenades, but you'll soon find far more effective weapons including shotguns, bazookas, and flamethrowers. Bloody Wolf starts off like a typical side-scroller, but the screen eventually scrolls every which way as you leap over barbed wire, ride motorcycles, scale mountains, and wade through rivers. You'll face some worthy bosses including a gunship and submarine, and these stages are played out from a "behind the back" perspective. Enemy troops are numerous, but your immense firepower is up to the task. The stages are surprisingly diverse, and sometimes you can even enter a house or cave to locate extra bonuses. Some of the scenery is interactive, including exploding barrels and breakable windows. The text dialog is occasionally hilarious, with priceless lines like "We're arrived at the enemy camp. It's crawling with enemies!" and "I disappointed you gave up your mission." With unlimited continues, you can play all the way up to the last boss, who you'll face armed with only a knife. Bloody Wolf is a killer game, but there are a few minor issues. First, the grenades have to land pretty much directly on
an enemy to blow him up, which stinks. Second, when guys get blown up, they fly
off the screen like they're Superman or something, which looks pretty silly. The sound effects are weak. When a soldier is shot, blood appears on his chest, but he doesn't make a sound. A confirmation scream or at least a grunt would have been nice. There's some minor slow-down, but it's mainly towards the end of the game and by that time it's actually somewhat helpful
. And where's the freakin' two-player mode? Oh well, it's not perfect but Bloody Wolf does enough right to earn a solid recommendation. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: NEC (1991)
Considering how it's the original version of the long-running Bomberman series, I'm surprised by how robust and full-featured this game is. Not only does it support up to five
players at a time (!), but it offers a surprisingly deep single-player mode with diverse stages and a password feature. Bomberman makes for one hell of a party game as players plant bombs around a maze and then attempt to flee the ensuing explosions and chain reactions. Its fast and frantic gameplay offers a perfect blend of skill and strategy. The basic concept is simple as can be, yet once you toss a few power-ups into the equation, the action becomes very unpredictable. Collecting certain icons let you move faster, plant more bombs at a time, or extend the radius of your explosions. There's even a remote control that let you detonate your bombs at will. Unlike other versions I've played, if there are less than five players, ghosts and blobs are placed into the maze. These add to the challenge but don't wreak as much havoc as a CPU-controlled player would (as seen in subsequent editions). The single-player mode is good but not great as you attempt to clear all the ghosts in a maze and locate a hidden exit. Advanced stages feature scrolling screens, and killing ghosts is a bit like fishing as you strategically place bombs and hope they drift into the explosions. Blinking blocks usually indicate power-ups, but they sometimes unleash an army of creeps, which is annoying. I also don't like how you're required to locate the exit even after clearing all ghosts, which can be a tedious exercise. Bomberman is fun to play with friends, and even better if they're drinking. As the first entry in a storied franchise, this is a key title for Turbografx collectors. © Copyright 2010 The Video Game Critic.
Save mechanism: Password
1 to 5 players
Bonk III: Bonk's Big Adventure
Publisher: NEC (1993)
Even the most devoted Bonk fans may have trouble tracking down this rare title, and you'll most definitely need to break your piggy bank. It took me about five years
to find a copy at a halfway reasonable price! Bonk 3 marks the final chapter of Bonk, but it may give you a bad case of deja-vu. The first time I played this I actually had to double-check to make sure I wasn't playing Bonk 2
, since Bonk 3 recycles many of its stages (including the cave and the ship). These stages have been "remixed" to some extent, but still
. I also noticed a lot of enemies have returned from Bonk 1 (for better or worse) including the alligators and cactus. At times it feels like a mish-mash of elements from the first two games. Bonk 3's gameplay retains the same dinosaur-headbutting and climbing-with-your teeth gameplay, but this time things get a little weird
. Bonk now has the ability to grow into a giant or shrink down to the size of a mouse by eating colored candy. These size changes play an integral part in the game as you often need to be small to access certain areas. When Bonk is large he looks surprisingly well-rounded and not nearly as pixelated as you might expect. Bonk will also transform into a crab for some unknown reason. It's easier to swim as a crab, and you can also pinch larger foes in the belly. There are several new toys to play with including zip lines and pipes that rapidly whisk you between locations. Some stages make no sense, like the one where you explore the giant house where everything is oversized except for the television set. I found Bonk 3 to be easy due to an abundance of heart icons, with only the bosses putting up substantial resistance. The bonus stages are less prevalent than they were in Bonk 2 (good), and sometimes you can even select your bonus stage from a list. The "smash the building" challenges are just like the "smash the car" bonus stage in Street Fighter 2. Bonk 3's music is not exceptional, but it's certainly an improvement over Bonk 2. A two-player coop mode is included, but it's a mess trying to keep both players on the same screen. With so many recycled and tacked-on elements, you get the feeling that the developers were running short on ideas or were in a rush. As a result Bonk 3 is a bittersweet experience that serves as the swan song for this underrated franchise. © Copyright 2011 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 37,500
1 or 2 players
Publisher: NEC (1990)
As the official mascot of the Turbografx, Bonk always played second fiddle to Mario and Sonic. Even today
, Bonk rarely gets the respect he deserves. I had a few of my friends play this recently, and the first thing they remarked was how the controls "weren't as crisp as Super Mario". Bonk just can't win!
Personally I find Bonk's Adventure extremely appealing thanks to its simple gameplay and quirky nature. Bonk is a short-tempered, bald-headed cave-boy who jumps, swims, and head-butts his way through a cartoonish prehistoric world. His enemies include alligators, dragonflies, dancing cactus, and flying toads. Bonk's most effective attack is a head-first dive, which provides a nice change of pace from the standard pouncing you see in most platform games. The opening stage looks inviting with its volcanic scenery and bright blue skies. The backgrounds are a little plain, but that's part of their charm. You'll see some funny animations when Bonk climbs walls using his teeth
or foams at the mouth upon losing a life. Jumping on flowers reveals bonus items and chunks of meat serve as power-ups. For some reason whenever Bonk eats meat he gets really pissed off and glows red with rage. In his enraged state he can head-butt the ground
to incapacitate his enemies. Bonus points are earned by collecting yellow smiley faces that pop out of defeated enemies, and frankly they look a little cheesy compared to Mario's coins and Sonic's rings. Bonk forges through diverse scenery locations including mountains, jungles, caves, glaciers, and underwater areas. In one of the more creative stages you enter a T-Rex's mouth
and proceed to work your way through his entire digestive track!
The bosses are pretty goofy, and the game has its share of "what the heck was that?
" moments. Although the game is generally well designed, there are a few headaches like rocky surfaces that inflict damage and vines that are hard to swing on. Bonk's Adventure offers unlimited continues and its pleasant soundtrack is sure to put you in a good mood. It may lack the polish of a Sonic or Mario game, but in terms of pure fun Bonk's Adventure is a legitimate classic. © Copyright 2011 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 31,250
Publisher: NEC (1991)
Bonk's Revenge delivers just about everything you'd want in a sequel: refined graphics, better-tuned controls, and a lot
more stuff to do. Best of all, it remains faithful to the head-banging gameplay that endeared the little bald caveman to us in the first place. The opening stage features a vertical configuration with waterfalls Bonk must swim up
. So much for realism
right? In addition to volcanoes, jungles, and glaciers, some stages feature more modern locations like castles, beach resorts, and even a ship at sea. There's a lot of cloud jumping, and just like in real life, they tend to be very bouncy. The scenery is far more detailed than the first game, and this is most evident in the jungle stage with its layers of lush foliage. The tranquil snow stage is my personal favorite with its rolling white hills and gently falling flakes (worth 500 points each, by the way). As in the last game, Bonk's dispatches enemies with a head-butt or a head-first dive. Although the instructions recommend setting the head-butt button to turbo mode, it's a bad idea because you'll sometimes land feet-first, making you prone to death
. Save the turbo action for the bonus stages where you need to hang in the air longer to snag bonus items. Bonk's Revenge has plenty of humor on display in the form of raining turkey legs, tiny piranha that latch onto Bonk's head, and fish that wear snorkels
. In addition to the standard fruit, bonus items assume the shape of burgers and fries, and it's satisfying to see point values flash on the screen as you collect these. On paper, this would appear to be the ultimate Bonk game, but a few flaws detract from the overall experience. Once fully powered up, Bonk's head appears to split in half, and to be honest it looks kind of disturbing! It looks like he has an ass
on his head! Still, I like how he can breathe fire in this enraged state. Bonus stages are now available, but they are so frequent
that you almost want to avoid
them after a while. Likewise the difficulty of the game is pretty low, lending itself to really long play sessions. My final complaint is the music, which sounds totally off-key and is very hard on the ears! It has a few blemishes but on the whole Bonk's Revenge does a fine job of expanding the scope while retaining the spirit of the original game. © Copyright 2011 The Video Game Critic.
Recommended variation: Expert
Our high score: 94,700
Publisher: NEC (1990)
This bizarre Japanese side-scroller begs the age-old question, "What the [expletive] is this?!
" From the wacky main character to the inexplicable dialog to the indescribable enemies, the game is 99% nonsense. Bravoman attacks enemies by extending his head, foot, and fist. He can jump high and hover in mid-air, making it easy to target floating enemies. He yells "Bravo!" whenever he attacks, and that never
gets old. I'm being facetious.
Aiding our hero on his journey is a creepy robot that says weird things like "Hey Bravoman, want to eat?" The graphics are bright and inviting with impressively large sprites. It's fun to leap over platforms while punching toys, clowns, and homeless teddybears. Emphatic symbols like "BANG!" really drive home the fact that you're beating the living crap out of these freaky things. Ummm... can someone tell why snakes are falling from the sky? Defeated enemies drop red Japanese letters you collect for points. Breaking up the monotony are side-scrolling underwater shooting stages. The upbeat 16-bit music is great, and I like how the villain introduces each stage while vigorously jerking his scepter. Bravoman might seem ridiculous at first, but after a while you start to admire its unbridled goofiness. © Copyright 2015 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 25,000
Buster Bros (CD)
Publisher: Hudson (1993)
It's not often that you play a game that doesn't remind you of any
other game you've ever played, but that's what Buster Bros is like. In this very unique and addicting arcade title, one or two players control small cartoon characters at the bottom of a screen full of bouncing balloons. These brothers must pop all the balloons without colliding with any of them. The problem is, each time you pop a balloon, it divides into two smaller ones. Some balloons drop special items you can collect, including some that increase your firepower or freeze the balloons in place for a few seconds. The initial stages are wide open, but later stages contain ladders and platforms, creating a maze of bouncing hazards. Buster Bros is truly a blast, especially with two players. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Taito (1991)
Cadash is a medieval side-scroller designed to be played cooperatively by two players. You select between four characters: Warrior, Mage, Priest, and... Ninja?
That warrior is one sorry-looking bastard. It's bad enough he's not wearing pants, but his legs are flabby! Your journey begins in a castle with guards that offer less-than-helpful hints like "Kill monsters and take their gold to buy items!" Thanks for the advice buddy, but I've played video games before!
One thing I really love about castles in the middle ages is how they always have a monster-infested cave within convenient walking distance. It's fun to forge ahead with a friend, especially when you complement each other's abilities. You'll slash through green slime, skeletons, spiders, and pig-faced trolls. Magic users have a selection of spells but must hold in
one button to cycle thru them. That's really awkward in the heat of battle. What was wrong with the "select" button? When it comes to avoiding traps, both players must carefully coordinate their movements. Each stage (or "continent") has a unique back-story and mini cut-scenes to add a little flavor. Unfortunately the first stage is so ridiculously hard it almost ruins the entire game. It features a tricky jump sequence over a pool of water. If you fall in, your character will continuously lurch backwards as you desperately try to climb out. It's obnoxious enough to set Cadash back a full letter grade. One key to survival is to "grind" on weak enemies to get your experience level up to 2 or 3. If you manage to defeat the "black pudding" boss, the game really opens up. Not only can you resurrect your partner in the next town, you can upgrade your weapons and load up on herbs. The lack of a password option is glaring, but you can find codes on the Internet that let you skip ahead. I have a love/hate relationship with Cadash. Its design flaws infuriate me to no end, yet I can't resist the urge to give it "just one more try". © Copyright 2012 The Video Game Critic.
Castlevania Dracula X: Rondo of Blood (CD) (Japan)
Publisher: Konami (1993)
This rare title, only available in America as an import, is considered by most Castlevania fans to be the best of the series, and they'll get no argument here. Rondo of Blood is visually stunning, even today. The graphics are painstakingly detailed and high resolution, and the use of color is nothing short of brilliant. The demons and creatures you encounter are highly inventive, and effective animations usher in the appearance of bosses. For example, before your encounter with the werewolf, you can see his silhouette in front of the moon in the distance before he leaps into the foreground. The gameplay is typical Castlevania, where you use your whip and special weapons to battle monsters while collecting items hidden in candles. One aspect I especially like about Dracula X is although you can take multiple paths, the stages don't contain a myriad of confusing staircases like so many other Castlevania titles. I should warn you that this game is extremely hard and will frustrate novice gamers. Complementing the gorgeous graphics is the best soundtrack I've ever heard in a Castlevania game, along with crisp, distinctive sound effects. You can save your game and return to any stage you've completed. Castlevania Dracula X: Rondo of Blood is a classic, and if you can get your hands on it, an excellent addition to your Turbo Duo library. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 21,270
Publisher: Taito (1992)
I just recently discovered the Chase HQ series and I'm really digging it. If you enjoy arcade racers like Outrun
(Sega Master System, 1987) you'll feel right at home with the scaling cars and colorful locations. The idea is to drive an undercover police car through traffic until you catch up with a suspect's car. Then you ram him until his car catches fire and comes to a halt. Before each mission you're presented with a screen that describes a suspect like "Ralph the slasher". This screen also dispenses some truly heinous voice synthesis. This is Nasty
at Chase Headquarters?! Oh wait - she said Nancy
. On the road you'll shift gears from low to high while weaving around vehicles that smoothly scale into view. A multiplier provides bonuses for avoiding consecutive cars, but it's hard to keep it going because the collision detection is so unforgiving. The road has small hills and dips, and even forks on occasion. The sense of speed is excellent, and at top speed you're barely in control. It's easy to forget you can hit the select button to activate turbos. You actually tend to hug the curves better
when your turbo is engaged. The city skylines look terrific and objects on the side of the road include colorful signs and houses that resemble vending machines. When you reach your target the ensuing chase is exciting. It's tough to catch the bad guy because there's so much traffic and your car tends to lose control after a collision. It takes over 20 hits to stop the bastard, but you can often inflict several hits in succession if you approach from the side. Once you pull him over you're treated to a scene showing two cops roughing up the criminals. For a game that looks so good the soundtrack is understated. Three continues are provided and you'll want to use them. Chase HQ is rather obscure but I love its brand of old-school racing action. © Copyright 2014 The Video Game Critic.
Recommended variation: w/ continues
Our high score: 2,340,950
Publisher: NEC (1989)
Why did it take me so long to discover China Warrior?! This may be the best looking game I've seen on my Turbografx! The characters are absolutely gargantuan, and the attention to detail is stunning. The slow, deliberate pace reminds me of the old martial arts game Karateka
(Atari XEGS, 1985). Your warrior is a Bruce Lee look-alike who walks toward the right while fighting enemies and dodging obstacles. His muscle definition is amazing, and if you look close you'll even notice that he blinks his eyes!
It's fun to control such a huge character, but your mobility is limited. You can jump, punch, and kick, but the controls are a little stiff. The action is unintentionally hilarious at times. Most enemies are peaceful-looking monks approaching with their hands in their robes!
Am I really supposed to be beating up these guys?! And then there are the harmless, migrating swallows you need to punch into oblivion. My friend Scott mused that this guy seems to be on a mission to destroy everything that is good and natural.
You'll need to jump over bounders, duck under spears, and keep an eye out for the occasional sticks and stones. It's pretty ridiculous when you exhibit amazing martial arts skills through several levels, only to die when a small rock nails you in the forehead! Each stage ends with the obligatory boss, and they look impressive. Unfortunately you end up having to face several variations of the same boss, which is disappointing. The first three
bosses look like the same guy!
The music is excellent, combining catchy electronic tunes with undertones of ancient China. China Warrior doesn't play as good as it looks, but it looks pretty damn good
, so give it a whirl. © Copyright 2013 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: CJS 174,000
Cotton: Fantastic Night Dreams (Japan) (CD)
Publisher: Hudson Soft (1993)
This is one of those bizarre Japanese shooters anime fans can't get enough of. There's no question that Cotton: Fantastic Night Dreams exudes more personality than most side-scrolling shooters. The main character is a cute witch on a broom with an exuberant voice that makes some of the cut-scenes hard to stomach. Cotton maintains a vaguely-Halloween theme with dilapidated houses, graveyards, Frankenstein monsters, and grim reapers. Most adversaries however seem completely random, like fluffy pink birds, bubble-blowing lizardmen, hopping plants, clouds with faces, and flying sharks that latch onto trees. Anything goes in a game like this; you never know what's going to show up next. I appreciate the imagination but sometimes it's hard to tell what's harmful! Sure you can brush up against that jagged landscape but touching a cloud
is fatal. Each stage ends with an obligatory boss encounter and some transform into several forms so never let your guard down. I'm recommended using turbo to engage rapid-fire until you reach a boss, at which time you'll want to use your charge attacks. Cotton is a challenging game. Enemies drop crystals but they are hard to gather because when you shoot them they fire into the air like rockets. Collecting them once they settle on the ground is risky because there's often something lurking in the scenery. The upbeat musical score is a lot fun but the explosion effects have some static. The game offers three continues and saves high scores. Cotton is a thoroughly ridiculous shooter that's occasionally irritating but always entertaining. © Copyright 2015 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 56,940
Publisher: IGN Soft (1990)
This insect-themed, vertical shooter won't win any awards for graphics, but its simple, twitch gameplay won me over. Instead of manning a ship, you control a half-human creature that mutates when he touches a power-up. The bug-infested stages include a crumbling city, forest, desert, and an ancient shrine. One neat feature is the ability to both shoot and drop bombs on the ground below (a la Xevious). While it's tempting to fire both weapons constantly, firing one will degrade the effectiveness of the other, so you'll want to be selective. When collecting power-ups, it's imperative to choose one color and stick with it if you want to achieve maxiumum power. Cyber-Core's gameplay is satisfying as your rapid-fire cannon thins out swarms of approaching insects. Killing bugs is such a guiltless pleasure. The select button can be used to adjust your speed, but it's not really necessary. Cyber-Core's graphics are its weakest feature. Most enemies tend to be small, and the bosses aren't particularly imposing. Likewise the generic backgrounds are rudimentary and uninteresting. I did enjoy the electronic musical score however. Although it's repetitive, it does get under your skin after a while. Cyber-Core is nothing spectacular, but it has a certain charm and I found it appealing. If you can enjoy a straight-forward shooter, this will not disappoint. © Copyright 2005 The Video Game Critic.
Darius Plus (Japan)
Publisher: NEC (1990)
I've always been a strong advocate for undersea destruction, but Darius Plus comes across as uninspired at best. This vanilla side-scrolling shooter features nondescript enemies appearing over and over in the same tired formations. The first stage is downright monotonous and it takes forever to reach the fish-shaped boss. Your ship can unleash missiles and bombs non-stop, so why not just crank up the turbo and hold down both buttons? Enemy ships try to ram you before turning tail and exiting stage right like a bunch of wusses. Keep an eye out for the colorful enemies that carry an orb which will slightly augment your firepower or shield. The stages tend to be generic caves with cannons mounted on the cave floors and ceilings. Be cautious of those red twirly-bird things - their deadly explosions tend to linger. Also, the tanks that unleash heat-seeking missiles can catch you off-guard. Upon losing a ship you return in the customary invincible (blinking) state, yet you can't collect orbs while blinking
. That flat-out sucks! The audio is awful. The sound effects are muffled, the music is uninspired, and the boss encountered feature an irritating whistle sound. Unlike other Darius titles you can't select the order of the stages. I don't know what the Plus is, but I do know you can do a heck of a lot better on the Turbografx. © Copyright 2017 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 1,240,800
Publisher: Disney (1992)
The Turbografx library doesn't have many licensed titles. Most of its characters are of the home-grown variety like Bonk or Keith Courage. So when you see a character that looks like Daffy Duck in a Turbografx game it kind of draws your attention. Darkwing Duck is a highly sought-after title, but you should think twice before breaking your piggybank. The title screen is intriguing enough, with the hero decked out in a trench cost as catchy music plays in a minor key. Start a new game and you're presented with a picture of villains sitting around a table. Guiding a magnifying glass over the character's faces serves as a stage select feature. So far so good, right? One stage takes place on a San Francisco street with skateboarders jumping ramps. Another is set on rooftops with electrified fixtures. The third takes place in generic caverns. If only any of these were actually worth playing. The gameplay is painfully lackluster as you duck under flying objects, pounce on enemies, and time your leaps between floating platforms. The uninspired stage designs are populated with cheap, one-hit deaths and fatal drop-offs. You're armed with a pop-gun that's completely worthless!
The controls feel terribly mushy, causing Darkwing to hesitate at times when precision is required. The collision detection is atrocious
. Touching an icon with your hands isn't good enough. No, your entire body
needs to pass over it! Even the graphics and animation are substandard. Darkwing Duck is the sort of game you want
to like, but the more you play, the more you realize the game simply blows enormous chunks. © Copyright 2015 The Video Game Critic.
Recommended variation: easy
Our high score: 87000
Publisher: NEC (1991)
As much as I enjoy the whimsical antics of World Court Tennis
(NEC, 1989) there are times when I want to sit down to a serious game of tennis. To that end Davis Cup Tennis features realistic players from various countries competing on grass, clay, and hard courts. The presentation is superb with all sorts of options and modes. The players look sharp but those tight shorts look ridiculous. Before each match the athletes stand at attention as their nation anthem is played, and thank goodness you can skip that. In contrast to World Court's simple controls, the swing mechanics in Davis Cup are wildly counter-intuitive. It took me a while just to figure out how to hit the freakin' ball! Apparently you press and release
the button before
the ball arrives. It doesn't make much sense but you get used to it. Still, I could never hit the ball at a sharp angle, making it hard to get it past my opponent. Sometimes a long volley will seemingly end in an arbitrary manner as the ball passes through a player's racket. The low viewing angle is also problematic. You always play on a split screen (even against the CPU) and it's hard to judge the ball, especially when playing close to the net. Davis Cup does feature clear voices including a judge who calls the ball out and a pretentious announcer who states the score after each point. Players will sometimes even grunt while swinging! A ball boy runs out to retrieve balls hit into the net. I love the realistic elements of Davis Cup. It's a shame its gameplay takes a backseat to all the pomp and circumstance. © Copyright 2016 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Natsume (1991)
This side-scrolling shooter may not boast flashy graphics or elaborate sound effects, but in terms of gameplay it does just about everything right. Dead Moon has some excellent features that I wish more shooters would adopt. Colored pods allow you to obtain four types of cool weapons, and each can be powered-up to four levels. You can switch weapons by touching a pod of another color, but only by touching a pod of the same color will you increase you firepower. As a result, you won't want to just grab everything that comes along. Another cool feature is the fact that when your ship takes a hit, your firepower decreases by one level, and only at its weakest level are you vulnerable to death. You can also acquire homing weapons (love 'em!) and shields. The stages are uneven in terms of visual quality. The multi-layered, picturesque city in the first stage looks terrific, but the subsequent moon and cave stages are far less interesting. Enemies tend to take the form of simple shapes, but a few of the bosses, like the skeletal bird with the beating heart, are quite interesting. The uptempo music is okay but not exceptional. Dead Moon won't blow you away, but repeated plays reveal a well-constructed shooter that most shooter fans will really appreciate. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: NEC (1989)
Deep Blue is not
one of the better shooters for the Turbografx-16. The undersea graphics are marginal, but even worse is the fact that the game is entirely too hard. You control a slow, unmaneuverable sub against huge schools of fish that overwhelm you with their numbers. There are three different weapons to collect, but you can only hold one at a time. The default weapon is fine for strafing little fish, but it's useless against the big guys. The other two weapons are more powerful but painfully slow. Since both buttons fire, I'd advise you to set one of them to "turbo" so you can switch between them as the situation warrants. Your sub can withstand numerous hits, and that's a good thing because it's often impossible to avoid the small fish that swarm you. There are power-ups that speed you up and boost your firepower, but they're lost once you take a hit, so they're always short-lived. According to the instructions there are four stages, but just getting past the first one alone is a major accomplishment. Deep Blue isn't very fun, and it seems like every time I play it I do worse
. The visuals are awfully boring, and the background tune sounds like a child's music box. There's too many good shooters on the Turbografx to be messing around with this one. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: NEC (1990)
Devil's Crush is an edgy pinball title with a gothic theme. The table boasts many interesting targets including knights, wizards, and fire-breathing dragons. This game appeared on the Genesis as Dragon's Fury
(Genesis, 1992), but I would argue this version is slightly more playable. Vital statistics like your score and bonus multiplier are displayed along the top (instead of the side), making more efficient use of screen real estate. The wider table makes it easier to appreciate the detail of the mysterious creatures and medieval contraptions. The table is stacked with three basic sections, and unlike the Genesis game, it's easy to ascend to higher areas. I love how the woman's face in the center of the table gradually transforms into a dragon as you hit it. Creepy!
A skull with a pulsating brain mocks you, and crumbling structures release scores of spiders. Bonus mini-tables let you face off against hydras and wizards. The artwork in the bonus stages isn't as eye-popping as the Genesis, but you could argue these stages play better. The exotic musical score adds hints of danger and suspense. Devil's Crush may just be the most addictive game I've played on my Turbografx. I could play this one for hours on end. © Copyright 2014 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 13,786,700
Save mechanism: Password
Publisher: NEC (1990)
I gave Double Dungeons a fair shot, but was left with the impression that the entire game was built around a single visual effect. As you move through an endless maze of hallways, the illusion of movement is nicely conveyed though fluid scaling and rotation techniques. Combined with the game's responsive controls, navigating passageways can be done quickly and easily. The problem is, all of these hallways look exactly the same
! You'd think the programmers could have at least
changed the color scheme between levels, but no! Confusing matters further is the complete lack of a map! Since there are no landmarks and monsters constantly regenerate, you'll find yourself moving in circles. Creatures are rendered in colorful detail, but only as static images. A bit of animation would have been nice. You can upgrade your weapons and armor at shops, and you'll find items along the way including keys, magic rods, and healing potions. The battles are remarkably shallow, requiring you to press a button continuously as the "action" is described by sparse text. You always have the option to flee or use a special item, but in general there's little strategy. And don't get me started about the confusing password system! At any time you can press the Run button to display a lengthy password, but after completing a stage, I found myself inexplicably back at the main title screen, leaving me both alarmed and bewildered. On the bright side, Double Dungeons is the only RPG of its kind to allow two players to explore simultaneously, and the game also boasts a rousing musical score that plays throughout. It's not a total loss, but Double Dungeon's monotonous gameplay didn't hold my interest for very long. © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: NEC (1990)
There's so much to love about Download, beginning with its name. NEC had no idea what kind of confusion this seemingly innocuous title would cause in the future! The intro features a glimmering city skyline so inviting I wanted to climb into my TV! A camera zooms into a particular area of town to introduce our hero, sitting on a couch. Pound for pound Download is one of the best side-scrollers I've ever played. You can adjust your weapon configuration beforehand, but I recommend sticking with the default "beam valcan" (not a typo) and "chaser" sub-weapon. The beam has terrific screen coverage and the chaser conveniently cleans up the scraps. The background graphics feature city landscapes that look sharp yet never impinge upon the action. Catchy electronic beats provide a steady rhythm to help you get into a zone. Unlike modern shooters, Download manages to maintain difficulty without descending into chaos. Your main weapon is unlimited but you may be tempted to conserve your sub-weapon. Don't bother, because staying alive is your top priority. Floating icons change form every few seconds, allowing you to strategically augment your weapon, sub-weapon, or shields. Taking hits drains your weapons and shields, which is a fair system. The first boss seems really tough until you realize you can just fire down its throat to destroy it. Stage two changes things up as you navigate narrow passages lined with cute robots. Level three gets a little metaphysical as you blast dominoes that explode into vinyl records. I particularly enjoyed level four which is set at sea and with storm clouds looming in the sky. The stages aren't particularly long and bosses are reasonable. When you perish, a "mission incomplete" screen shows our hero reciting poorly-translated English dialog like "S--t is not this a good beginning!" and "I can not f--k up for this" Needless to say, these one-liners are worth their weight in gold. Unlimited continues are available in addition to a password feature. Quirky, challenging, and fun, Download is one shooter that had me grinning from ear to ear. Note: This game will not run natively on a non-Japanese system. © Copyright 2016 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 118,100
Download 2 (Japan) (CD)
Publisher: NEC (1991)
The original Download set the bar pretty high and this sequel struggled to meet expectations. The switch to a CD format didn't help. The load process is time-consuming and the cinematic introduction contains too much dialogue. In one cutscene our hero is shown sitting naked
on the edge of his bed! Once the game finally gets started it looks like the first Download, only the lower part of the screen is obstructed by some sort of guard rail. WTF?
The background depicts a half-buried city under a gorgeous red sunset. In a nifty piece of foreshadowing, the first boss can be seen creeping across the background. The guitar-driven soundtrack is good, reminding me a lot of Sonic Adventure
(Dreamcast, 1999). The rapid-fire shooting action picks up where the first game left off, but this time the second button toggles between weapons. I like this scheme because the weapons are fun to experiment with. In addition to your standard wide shot and penetrating lasers, you have a very
short-range electric bolt that fries anything directly in front of you. The fourth weapon is slow-moving orbs that serve as homing missiles. Once you max out the orbs you can overcome nearly any adversary. The difficulty is higher than the first game but it helps that you get five lives and occasional shield power-ups. The first boss is spider-like and the second looks like a freaky monkey robot. The game begins to lose momentum in stage three however, which simply throws geometric shapes at you. The fourth stage is also lame as you have to avoid blocks sliding all over the screen. Download 2 gets off to a pretty good start but can't sustain the fun like the original game could. © Copyright 2016 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 19,820
Publisher: NEC (1989)
What's disappointing about Dragon Spirit is how utterly ordinary
it is. As a vertical shooter that lets you control a fireball-spewing dragon, I was hoping for a cool medieval theme, but instead the game is so generic I might as well be controlling a jet plane. Even the music lacks any distinctive qualities. The stages call to mind a "lost world" of sorts, with duckbill dinosaurs in the water and pterodactyls in the sky. You get all the obligatory environmental conditions including water, volcanoes, desert, jungle, caves, and ice. The graphics lack detail, with static scenery and creatures that look like shapeless blobs. There are a lot of annoyances including water-tornados that act like heat-seeking missiles, and active volcanoes that create a minefield of eruptions. The gameplay is decent, with power-ups that not only increase your strength, but even add extra heads
to your dragon, to double and even triple
your firepower. A two-headed dragon is understandable, but a three-headed dragon?! That's kind of unrealistic! And how come all the creatures explode
when they get shot? Be sure to engage your turbo switches for this game - they make a big difference. For those of you who enjoyed Dragon Spirit on the Namco Museum Volume 5
(Playstation, 1997), this Turbografx edition is actually better because it consumes the whole screen instead of a narrow strip. There are no passwords or continues. For a generic shooter, Dragon Spirit is serviceable, but its lack of imagination makes it feel like a missed opportunity. © Copyright 2007 The Video Game Critic.
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