Publisher: Nintendo (1991)
A lot of readers requested I re-review this futuristic racer, claiming it to be an SNES classic. After replaying the game, doing some soul searching, and carefully reassessing the situation, I feel compelled to respond, "What is wrong with you people?!
" As an early title in the SNES lifecycle, F-Zero demonstrates the system's exalted "mode 7" technology (later used by Super Mario Kart). This hardware-driven visual effect makes objects appear to move over a bit-mapped surface - like a car driving over a road. But while the illusion of movement is smooth, the surface is noticeably flat and quite pixelated. To compensate, Nintendo made the tracks look as flashy as possible, but they tend to look gaudy
. F-Zero is a single-player racer (sorry, no split-screen) with floating, pod-shaped vehicles. The objective is to obtain a number one ranking in a series of circuits of increasing difficulty. The track edges are lined with yellow circles that zap your energy. In the road there are helpful speed boosts and jumps, but also hazards like red mines. I really don't care for racing games with 90 and 180-degree turns, and F-Zero has a lot of them. The idea of branching paths seems cool - until you find yourself heading in the wrong direction! The game requires some time investment to get a feel for the controls and memorize the tracks. Once you do, it's possible to get into a Zen-like trance as you cut corners, weave through zigzag sections, and turbo-boost through straightaways. Each race is five laps long, which is two laps too much. There are a lot of CPU-controlled racers, and slowpokes you lap present serious hazards, thanks to F-Zero's "pinball physics". Especially after a speed boost, any bump will have you bouncing off the walls, zapping your energy and turning you in the wrong direction. It stinks, man. The soundtrack includes a few adrenaline-pumping 16-bit tunes, but most sound like lame Casio keyboard ditties. I know many gamers have fond memories of F-Zero, but this oldie is looking less like a gem and more like a relic. © Copyright 2009 The Video Game Critic.
Save mechanism: Battery
Publisher: Takara (1992)
This 2D fighting game may have been okay in 1992, but now it's hopelessly outdated. There are eleven total fighters, but "player one" can only select from three of them. What's up with that
? There are no female fighters either. The animation is mediocre, the background scenery is dull, and the audio really
sucks. The hits and their sound effects aren't even in sync! A three-button control scheme allows you to kick, punch, and throw, but the action feels shallow compared to Street Fighter 2 series. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Takara (1994)
Fatal Fury 2 marks a dramatic improvement over the original one-on-one fighter. There are only eight fighters, but you can choose from any of them. The animation is improved, and the background scenery is quite attractive. The controls have been revamped to include high and low kicks, high and low punches, and two additional attacks. Certain moves even let you to move between the foreground or background planes, giving the game a 3D element. The audio is still weak though, with muffled sound effects and tunes you won't find yourself singing in the shower. The main thing that struck me about Fatal Fury 2 is how similar it is to Street Fighter 2. Not only are the controls similar, but the overall presentation is a carbon copy, all the way down the to globe on the character select screen. And one last thing - could they come up with a less attractive group of fighters? I mean, there's only one female, and half of the characters are obese! © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Capcom (1991)
Final Fight is an enjoyable side-scrolling brawler along the lines of Streets of Rage (Genesis, 1991) only with much larger characters. The two playable characters include the hulking, muscular Haggar and the leaner, more agile Cody. I prefer Haggar because he can finish off enemies much faster. But despite its two playable characters and "buddy" storyline, Final Fight is inexplicably one-player only
! Final Fight's thugs are decked out in tacky, brightly colored outfits, and you can often see them loitering in the background before deciding to enter the fray. One of the more memorable bad guys is an "Andre the Giant" look-alike named "Andore" (to avoid legal issues no doubt). You tend to face the same set of characters over and over, but a new one is introduced every so often. The action is somewhat repetitive but par for the course as these games go. Combinations of the jump and punch buttons provide all of your moves, and pressing both initiates a special attack. Final Fight is definitely on the easy side, thanks to dumb enemies who line up so you can clock several at a time. Abundant and effective weapons like knives, pipes, and samurai swords also makes your quest easier. The city street and subway scenery is colorfully detailed, and there are even a few bonus stages that let you smash up cars (a la Street Fighter II). The audio is lacking, with muffled sound effects and generic music, but otherwise this is a very respectable fighter. Final Fight didn't turn out to be as "final" as its title would suggest, as two sequels followed. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Capcom (1993)
You would expect Final Fight 2 to be an improvement over the original, but it's actually less
fun. There are three characters to choose from, including Haggar (from the last game), Carlos (replacing Cody), and a shapely blonde named Maki. New features include a much-needed two-player mode, an option menu, and Haggar's new suplex move. Otherwise it's the same side-scrolling action you've seen before, with most of the thugs shamelessly recycled from the last game. They aren't any smarter this time around, although they do perform cheap "chest butt" running attacks. Never in my life have I seen such a boring, uninspired collection of stages. Each takes place in a different area of the world, so you'd expect them to see some exotic scenery, right? But no, you find yourself in an airport in Hong Kong, a construction site in France, a sewer
in Germany, and a train depot in England! Ugh! And then there's the difficulty level, which is absolutely pathetic
. The first Final Fight was easy enough, but this one is a complete cakewalk, constantly awarding you with new lives and piling on six continues! Far too easy and repetitive, you'll probably switch off Final Fight 2 long before you've gone exhausted your lives. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Capcom (1994)
It would be hard to imagine a more derivative
side-scrolling beat-em-up than Final Fight 3. I still
can't get over how spectacularly lame
this game is. It borrows so many
elements from the Streets of Rage series that it's almost criminal. Four playable characters include veterans Haggar and Guy, along with the electricity-wielding Dean and a lesbian named Lucia (armed with Chun Li's lightning kick). The fighters are huge, well-defined, and equipped with a fair number of moves, but the good news ends there. Final Fight 3 suffers from the worst
case of chronic slow-down
I've ever experienced in a video game. In the two-player mode, the animation routinely slows to a crawl
! It's absolutely appalling! The "Skull Cross gang" characters are completely recycled from previous Final Fight games (including Andore and his ultra-cheap "chest" attack). It's bad enough to beat up the same five guys over and over in one game - but after three games
it's just agonizing. But Final Fight 3's worst crime may be the stage locations it shamelessly copies from Streets of Rage. There's the bridge, dock, cargo hold of a ship, and - you guessed it - the obligatory moving elevator. The single stage that's even remotely
interesting is the colorful Chinatown, but that's very brief. You'll want to adjust the difficulty to "hard", because at "normal" you can cruise through this game without even breaking a sweat! The shoddy audio features muffled sound effects, and the electronic soundtrack is mostly forgettable, although it does have its moments. A total rehash, Final Fight 3 continued the series on its downward spiral. © Copyright 2005 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Sunsoft (1992)
This overlooked vertical shooter lets you play as a tank or helicopter, or team up with a friend to unleash some major destruction! First impressions are important, and Firepower 2000 does not disappoint with a nice intro featuring some outstanding thumping music! Quality audio and crisp, vibrant graphics makes it clear that this is not
a Genesis shooter. And Firepower 2000 plays as good as it looks. Each vehicle has its own abilities and advantages. The tank can shoot in all directions, but the helicopter is more mobile and not affected by surface terrain. The shoulder buttons toggle your weapons, each of which has three levels of power. The explosions are quite satisfying. Firepower 2000 is a blast, especially with two players. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.
Full Throttle: All-American Racing
Publisher: Cybersoft (1994)
For some reason I've always held out hope for a decent 16-bit jet-ski title. Maybe it has something to do with my love for the Wave Race series? I was pretty psyched up to discover that Full Throttle: All-American Racing offers both jet-ski action and
motorcycle racing. It should be twice the fun, right? You select characters with tough-sounding names like Eagle, Steel, Hammer, and the Hugh Jackman look-a-like "Crush". Full Throttle is played via split-screen (for two players) and uses "mode seven" effects convey movement over a flat surface. The motorcycle racing doesn't seem so bad at first. There's not much scenery on the side of the road but the tunnels and distant skylines are impressive enough. Since the Key West course runs over bridges, it has water on both sides of the road. Unfortunately, you can ride right over that blue part
and you won't even sink! This lack of attention to detail is really indicative of the general lack of quality. Full Throttle's racing aspect feels extremely artificial, with the competitors evenly spaced out. When you approach one he tends to linger by your side and harass you. Kicking him would be a good idea if the collision detection weren't so awful. Despite being spread across the United States, the courses don't offer much variety. The track that runs from San Francisco to Washington state shows the Golden Gate Bridge in the background the entire time!
The jetski stages are even worse than motorcycles. There's no sense of speed so it feels like you're just slogging through marshlands. You can collect power-ups, but they are so ineffective you can't even tell
when a turbo kicks in. The music is pretty good, but there's only one song!
True to its name, Full Throttle feels like a game that was developed as fast as possible with no regard for quality control. © Copyright 2013 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: JVC (1994)
I was a huge fan of "Zombies Ate My Neighbors", an SNES title that parodied every classic old horror film ever made. A sequel was much deserved, but Ghoul Patrol is not what I had in mind. Although Patrol offers more of the same with a few new features, its monumental difficulty and dull stage designs drag it down. Like Zombies, you assume a male or female character attempting to rescue clueless civilians. While many of the monsters look comical, a few (like the Frankenstein monsters) look pretty freaky. The creatures look sharp but the scenery is uninteresting, with generic houses and castles that all look the same. When the monsters aren't smacking you around, you'll have to dodge possessed floating objects like books. I like the new guided missile weapon, but each monster requires about ten hits to destroy, and once they converge there's little you can do. And while I can accept the fact that monsters need to regenerate, I hate
how some portals are situated in critical spots such as in front of doors. Ghoul Patrol is too hard for its own good. You collect items like weapons, key, health, and potions, but even some of the potions are harmful
! And adding insult to injury, although the instructions claim you get a password after each stage, in actuality you only get one every few stages. In terms of audio, most of the sound effects are recycled from Zombies Ate My Neighbors, and the music isn't nearly as catchy. In fact, these tunes sound like rejects from the first game. It doesn't look like much effort was put into Ghoul Patrol, and the result is disappointing. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Konami (1991)
In the arcade, Gradius III was one of the most insanely difficult games you could ever encounter. The SNES version of this side-scrolling space shooter is much easier, which is probably a good thing. The key to the game is collecting pods to cash in for weapons and power-ups. There's quite a bit of strategy involved in selecting the proper power-up for the situation. The graphics here are nearly identical to the arcade, although slow-down rears its ugly head all too often and threatens to ruin the fun. When there are too many objects on the screen, the action slows to a crawl, only to speed up again when things clear out. Not only is this annoying, but it adversly affects the flow of the game. That's too bad, because otherwise this is a solid all-around shooter. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.
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Screen shots courtesy of Video Game Museum, Console Classix, Moby Games