Publisher: Capcom (1993)
For all you Sega CD fans looking for some side-scrolling, butt-kicking mayhem, Final Fight CD is a good choice. The gameplay is exactly like Streets of Rage (SOR), but these fighters are HUGE! The three playable characters are Guy, Cody, and Haggar. Unlike SOR, the Final Fight locations are entirely urban, including slums, bars, a subway, underground fight clubs, and industrial areas. The scenery isn't spectacular, but it's constantly changing and never boring. The characters are nicely detailed, and their huge size lets you take out three or four bad guys with one kick! The cast of thugs includes all the usual suspects, including the spiky-haired punk, the fat guy, the Neanderthal man, huge bosses, and some fine looking hookers (with handcuffs even!). It's a nice touch how the bosses struggle to get up before they finally collapse in defeat. Along with the standard punches, throws, jump kicks, and special moves, there are loads of knives, swords, and pipes available to keep the bad guys at bay. In a nod to Street Fighter, there are two bonus stages thrown in that let you destroy a car or smash glass panels. The jazzy Miami Vice-inspired background music is crystal clear but not particularly memorable. Likewise the sound effects won't really catch your ear. But if you're looking to kick some ass, don't hesitate to pick this game up. Unlike the lame SNES version, the game supports two players. My wife thinks it might be better than Streets of Rage. You be the judge. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: U.S. Gold (1994)
The Genesis version of Flashback was marketed as "a CD Rom game in a cartridge", so what does that make this? A CD Rom game on a CD Rom? That sounds a lot
less impressive. The opening cut-scenes in this version utilize full-motion video, which was a pretty big deal back in the day. Unfortunately the grainy picture quality compares poorly to the clear visuals of the Genesis version. The actual game looks and plays exactly like the cartridge. Flashback an amazing futuristic adventure with rich graphics, fluid animation, and a compelling storyline. One major difference between this and the cartridge is the music. The Genesis game was largely a silent affair, with short musical interludes kicking in when the action got intense. In this version you'll hear a difference right away in the opening jungle stage. Tribal drums alternate menacingly between the stereo speakers, and then a booming orchestrated chorus (with vocals) kicks in. It sounds like something you'd hear in a Terminator movie, and it lends weight to the proceedings. Flashback for the Sega CD is not necessarily a better game, but audiophiles may find this version more appealing. © Copyright 2012 The Video Game Critic.
Save mechanism: Password
Formula One World Championship: Beyond the Limit
Publisher: Sega (1994)
Rating: General Audiences
True to its name, this realistic racer extended well beyond the limits of my patience. Formula One is one of those titles that try to hide its shortcomings behind layers of fake realism. It greets you with grainy race footage and high-octane music intended to psyche you up. The "Gran Prix" mode offers a full slate of races that take you to locations around the globe. The problem is, all the tracks look exactly the same
, so it doesn't matter if you're in Japan or Brazil. Digitized images of crew members brief you on track conditions, but tailoring your wheels and transmission doesn't seem to matter much. You get a behind-the-wheel view when racing, but steering is a nightmare. Scaling and rotation effects are used to convey movement, but the controls are touchy and the animation is herky-jerky. It's hard to even stay on the track, and it doesn't help that the courses are packed with sharp turns. Should you accidentally swerve into the pit lane, you'll look on in horror as a horrendously pixelated crew descends upon your car. Completing a single lap is an ordeal, so even the thought
of ten-lap qualifying round is too much to bear. At one point I noticed big pixelated squares on the edge of the road similar to those in Super Mario Kart (SNES, 1992). It's interesting how two games can use the same technology and arrive at vastly different results. © Copyright 2012 The Video Game Critic.
Ground Zero Texas
Publisher: Sega (1993)
From what I had heard about this game, I was hoping Ground Zero Texas would be another Night Trap, but it's not even close. Certain aspects of the games are similar, like the concurrent events you can switch between using camera controls. But Ground Zero is more linear, and plays much like a target shooting game. The plot involves a small Texas town infiltrated by aliens who assume the form of normal townsfolk. There are four cameras to switch between, aimed at main street, a hotel, plaza, and cantina. Unlike Night Trap, you are directed where to look, so there's no much freedom. Once you select an area, you just move a cursor around the screen and shoot anyone who points a gun at you (they'll also have a green box around them). Many stages are just static scenery with people popping out trying to shoot you, much like the old Lethal Enforcer games. Shooting the same people over and over gets tiresome. Check out the terrible actors that throw up their arms and fall back when they get shot, sometimes while smiling. You also have to sit through numerous video clips that convey a slow-moving storyline, although there are a few surprises that happen just as you're nodding off. Pay close attention the first time you play, because the most unlikely characters will pull out a gun and try to blast you without warning. I've been known to enjoy games like this, but Ground Zero Texas did not win me over. The video clips aren't very entertaining and the shooting is just repetitive. And for the record, the game was actually filmed in California. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.
Heart of the Alien
Publisher: Interplay (1994)
This disk actually contains two separate science fiction adventures: Heart of the Alien and Out of this World. Sounds like a good value, right? Originally released for home computers, these cerebral platform adventures feature fantastic alien landscapes and smooth, motion-captured 2D animation. The opening cinematic shows an alien village being invaded by another tribe, and it's a pretty elaborate scene. The fluid visuals have held up well over the years, but the tedious, zero-room-for-error gameplay has not
. Even with an FAQ on hand, you'll find yourself retrying screens dozens of times. You need to time every jump perfectly, and if you're too close to the edge, you'll slip off. Clearly these controls were designed for the precision of a keyboard. There are no scraped knees or bruises in this game - the smallest misstep means instant death. Fortunately there are checkpoints so you shouldn't have to start too
far back. Forging through the stages requires a lot of aggravating trial and error. You'd expect the first few screens to let the player gradually become acclimated to the controls, but they are pure, unrelenting torture. Even the password screen is confusing as you painstakingly attempt to enter the four-character code. The second game, "Out of this World" is older so its problems are even worse!
Trying to make it past the black slugs on the opening stage is beyond ridiculous. The collision detection is so unforgiving, it's criminal. Both games featured excellent storytelling and unprecedented eye candy for their time, but they will have you banging your head against a wall. © Copyright 2012 The Video Game Critic.
Save mechanism: Backup RAM
INXS - Make My Video
Publisher: Sega (1992)
Here's a game for people who watched MTV when they actually played music videos. Make My Video lets you edit together random video footage and spice them up with special effects to create your own INXS video. There are three songs: Heaven Sent, Baby Don't Cry, and Not Enough Time. All three of these are very good and well-suited for video-making. There are two play modes: Edit Challenge and U-Direct. In Edit Challenge you try to edit a video to certain specifications, and you're rated when it's done. U-Direct lets you make the video however you want and even save it when you're done. The editing process on-the-fly as the song plays, where you flip between three screens of running film. Each displays random clips that include old movies, cartoons, nature shows, scantily clad women, and yes, the band. The clips are so varied and fun to watch that it's hard NOT to make a good video, although there's not much room to be artistic. The special effect controls let you slice, dice, color, freeze, mix, mirror, and freeze the image (to name a few). Most of these effects just make the image harder to see, especially if you use combinations, so it's best to be conservative. Unfortunately, VERY touchy controls make it difficult to initiate a given effect at the right instant, and that ruins what could have been a very respectable CD game. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.
Joe Montana's NFL Football
Publisher: Sega (1993)
This overhyped trainwreck of a game was probably the first nail in the Sega CD's coffin. How did this monstrosity even get out the door?? This game is actually far worse than any previous football game released for the Genesis. Let's start with the graphics. The extreme pixelation is unforgiveable, and the blockiness reminded me of some old Atari 2600 titles! The framerate is so poor that it's hard to figure out what the heck's going on amid the choppy mess. Just keeping track of the football is not easy. Next the pitiful controls have the worse response time I'm ever seen in my life. The game is consistently a step behind your commands. Then there's the sound, which may be the biggest crime of all. You'd think that being a CD game, this would at the very least offer some decent live play-by-play commentary. But no - commentary is only heard when you're choosing your plays, and it talks about about the previous
play. Heck, even regular Genesis games had live commentary in 1993. The sound effects are practically non-existent, with the exception of the water-faucet crowd in the background. Finally, I have to mention that the computer opponent is incredibly slow and stupid. Often the cpu-controlled player will just stand there after a hand-off or catch. The game's one redeeming feature is the "Ask Joe" option, which is available during time-outs and displays a video of Joe giving advice for the next play. That's cool, but it's the only bright spot I could find. Sega must have been under a lot of pressure to release such a half-baked game. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Sega (1993)
Wow, this is so
much different than what I had expected. Instead of a side-scrolling shoot-em-up like the Genesis version, this is an odd point-and-click adventure. I think I know what Sega had in mind. They wanted this Sega CD version to take the gamer to the "next level", by creating an immersive virtual Jurassic Park environment to explore. By moving a cursor over a first-person view of your surroundings, you move from area to area, checking out the scenery and collecting items to solve puzzles. There are a few "aim the cursor" shooting sequences, but in general the pace of the game is slow and involves a lot of trial and error. Just move the cursor all over the place, and when it turns into a hand or a magnifying glass, you know you've found something. Whether you enjoy this edition of Jurassic Park or not depends on your frame of mind. The first time I played it, I was in the mood for action and it just bored me. The second time however, I had mentally prepared myself for a thought-provoking adventure, so it wasn't so bad. Still, some of the puzzles don't make any sense, and I hate
when the screen simply goes black when you die - causing you to wonder what the heck just happened. The scenery is strictly Genesis quality, and the pathways between areas all look the same after a while, making it easy to get lost. Even the educational aspect is weak. When you consult the Paleontologist about a specific dinosaur, he says one lousy sentence. As for the "sense-boggling" Q-Sound the game box raves about, well, I didn't even notice it. I'll give Sega credit for trying something different, but Jurassic Park for the Sega CD lacks the thrills and excitement of its namesake. © Copyright 2005 The Video Game Critic.
Keio Flying Squadron
Publisher: JVC (1994)
Rating: Kids to Adults
This has all the ingredients of a good anime shooter: flying pirate ships, raccoons riding dolphins, surfing dogs, adorable baby dragons, flying pigs, and inappropriately dressed girls. The opening cut scene makes absolutely no sense. It starts off with an incredibly dry documentary about anti-government forces and treatises and chief exports and blah blah blah. Then it abruptly shifts focus to a skinny chick in a Playboy bunny costume guarding a sacred key. The girl "Rami" owns a small pet dragon and her arch-enemy is a 3003-year-old raccoon. It doesn't make much sense, until it dawns on you that this is a Japanese game.
Keio Flying Squadron is a high quality side-scrolling shooter with fast action and colorful backdrops depicting scenic landscapes. There are some absolutely huge sprites including flying pirate ships and trains, but the way they crowd the screen can be annoying. Your enemies are a hodgepodge of comical creations, some of which are hard to describe (was that an octopus riding a potato?
) Floating icons let you select (and power-up) both your primary and secondary weapons. I personally prefer the three-way/homing missile combo. The game is fun but not well balanced. The first stage is extremely difficult on the medium level thanks to a ridiculously hard end boss (and mid-boss for that matter). Switching to the easy level seems reasonable until you realize you can cruise through the entire game. The orchestrated soundtrack is compelling, although a little weird at times. Keio Flying Squadron is appealing because it offers simple, old-fashioned shooting action with plenty of eye candy to boot. It's not as great as some make it out to be, but it's very unique and makes a nice addition to the collection. © Copyright 2012 The Video Game Critic.
Recommended variation: Medium
Our high score: 42,000
Publisher: Konami (1993)
While not a giant step up from the Genesis version, Lethal Enforcers for the Sega CD has the definite edge due to its superior audio. I've always enjoyed this simple light gun game, although I will confess it's a bit lacking in terms of replay value. The five stages take place in a bank, Chinatown, a shipping dock, an airport, and a chemical plant. The digitized graphics, while cutting edge for their time, appear grainy and washed-out. The Justifier gun controller is surprisingly accurate however, and it's fun to pick off thugs as they pop out of the scenery. There's no blood when you shoot bad guys; they simply blink and disappear. Occasionally one will take a hostage, so you'll need to be extra careful not to shoot the innocent. Sadly, you can't shoot up the scenery. Each stage concludes with a tough boss like a guy in a van with a rocket launcher or a knife-throwing Asian dude. The biggest problem with Lethal Enforcers is how you have to play the stages in order. Not only will you get sick of those early stages, but the game won't even let you advance unless your shooting percentage is nearly perfect. On the bright side, it's possible to attach two guns for some two-player (or double barrel) action. Lethal Enforcers can also be played with a regular controller, but I wouldn't recommend it. I really like the game's "Starsky and Hutch" style soundtrack, and unlike the Genesis version, the sound effects and voices are crystal clear. Even the load times are minimal - in fact I barely noticed them at all. It's hardly a mandatory upgrade from the Genesis version, but if you have the choice, this Lethal Enforcers has the edge. © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.
Lethal Enforcers II: Gunfighters
Publisher: Konami (1994)
This light gun title isn't so easy on the eyes, but at least its heart is in the right place. The original Lethal Enforcers was set in modern times, but this sequel takes place in the wild, wild west. The genre is ripe with shootout locations like trains, stagecoaches, banks, and saloons. The basic gameplay involves shooting outlaws who emerge from the scenery one by one. You can get into a groove picking them off, but every so often the sheriff or a lady will pop up, in which case you'll want to hold your fire. Most of the scenery isn't destructible, but you can shoot out the occasional window and lamp. Hitting a barrel causes water to squirt out, and that's a nice touch. When you hit an enemy in the arm or leg, he'll flinch but he won't die. When you shoot an outlaw in a window, he'll hurl himself out of the window in the true western fashion. The action is pretty much non-stop until the screen goes black for 10-15 seconds to load a new set of scenes. The locations are constantly changing, which keeps things interesting. The light gun is remarkably accurate - even around the edge of the screen. You can get by with a normal controller, but that cursor looks like a pair of red lips! The worst aspect of the game is the boss fights, which last so long they make my hand
hurt. I recommend the easy difficulty if only to ease the pain of these encounters. The graphics are pretty mediocre thanks to the limited color palette of the Sega CD, which makes the scenery look grainy and washed out. The game does have its moments of visual splendor however. When Indians attack a stagecoach, the illusion of speed and depth is amazing. The soundtrack is very good but the voice clips are repetitive to the max. It seems like someone is shouting "You can't hit the broad side of a barn!"
every three seconds! Even if I shoot some guy in the face as he's shouting it, he still
manages to finish his sentence. Bastard!
Lethal Enforcers 2 is pretty impressive as these light gun titles go. The Wild West theme isn't my personal favorite, but its shooting action is right on target. © Copyright 2012 The Video Game Critic.
Recommended variation: Easy
Our high score: 1,942
1 or 2 players
Links: The Challenge of Golf
Publisher: Virgin (1994)
Link shows a lot of potential at first. An opening video sequence provides a nice video of a beautiful golf course with voice narration describing it in detail. Before each hole, you see a nice video fly-over and description of the hole. All these attractive video clips give you a false sense that you're about to play a great golf game with actual digitized graphics. But once you see the "real" game graphics, you'd better have a barf bag handy. These hidous graphics are far worse that the Genesis PGA games, and the holes don't even vaguely resemble what you saw in the video clips. I can't even see the freakin' fairway! Okay, so I've established graphics suck, but how is the gameplay? A CHORE! It's a CHORE to play this game!! You have to wait between 5 and 10 seconds of loading time between each SHOT! Can you imagine playing a 6 player, 18 hole tournament with this game? It would take days!! Links has a bunch of options and modes, but what good are they in a game this bad?? © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Rocket Science Games (1994)
I tried to give Loadstar a fair chance, but I just can't figure it out. Clearly the developers put far more effort into dreaming up a sophisticated background story than creating a playable game. Set in the future on a distant planet, Loadstar kicks off with some pixilated full-screen video of a scruffy looking guy named Tully stepping into a space bar and being roughed up by the local sheriff, who apparently has some kind of personal vendetta against him. The scene tries to inject some drama into the game, but it's largely a waste of time. Loadstar is played from a first-person point of view, as you steer some kind of transport vehicle over a network of tracks running through narrow trenches. There are a few tunnels and some scenery in the distance, but in general every stretch of track looks the same. The controls allow you to shoot at flying police robots, activate a shield, or blow your horn to nudge slow traffic. A cursor is used to both steer and aim at enemies, and it's a pretty clumsy system. The graphics themselves aren't too bad, and blasted enemies burst into colorful explosions. Should you collide with another vehicle, you'll see a rather disturbing clip of some guy getting his skin blown off, leaving only a skeleton. I can't forget to mention the obligatory comical sidekick, who in this case is played by a talking smiley face on a monitor. Loadstar had some potential, but its confusing navigational system renders the game practically unplayable. Somehow you're supposed to use the compass at the top of the screen to guide you to your destination, but I couldn't figure it out, and the instruction manual was no help. After endlessly driving around the tracks that all look the same, I turned the game off in disgust. I did find it amusing how the manual listed Loadstar hats and shirts that you could order, as if the the game was going to be a surefire hit. © Copyright 2005 The Video Game Critic.
Lords of Thunder
Publisher: Hudson Soft (1995)
Lords of Thunder kicked ass on the Turbo Duo (1993), and you'd probably expect this Sega CD port to be comparable. Nope! This edition of the hectic side-scrolling shooter is a mere shadow of its former self. The layered backgrounds that looked so beautiful on the Turbo Duo look grainy and flat here. Enemies don't flash when you strike them, making it hard to determine if you're dealing damage. I even noticed some major slow-down. But the biggest atrocity is the audio. The guitar-driven soundtrack is almost completely drowned out by awful sound effects that sound like rubber bands, dull thuds, and trashcan lids. To say the game is not pleasing to the ear would be an understatement. The difficulty is much lower as well, which isn't going to endear it to hardcore shooter fans. The only thing this Sega CD version has to offer is a voice for the shopkeeper lady (who speaks with a "come hither" tone), and some pointless narrated intro scenes. That said, Lords of Thunder is still
more playable than most of the full motion video (FMV) junk that pervades the Sega CD library. Instead of a space ship, you control a flying mystical warrior who sprays rapid-fire missiles and brandishes a sword during close combat. You can select between six worlds and four weapon types. Each world offers a unique environment (snow, fire, water, etc) and an assortment of imaginative creatures which include levitating wizards, flaming phoenix birds, and gigantic sea serpents. I like how soldiers are deployed from large airships, and some monsters scale in from the backgrounds. The bosses are really tough if your power is low, but if you're loaded up they're not a problem. Lords of Thunder is a respectable 2D shooter for the Sega CD, but if you have a choice, track down the superior Turbo Duo version instead. © Copyright 2009 The Video Game Critic.
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Screen shots courtesy of Shinforce, Sega CD Universe, Moby Games