Publisher: Namco (1992)
Seirei Senshi Spriggan (Japan)
Publisher: Naxat Soft (1991)
Our high score: 194,760
Publisher: NCS (1992)
For its first few stages, Shockman feels like a second-rate Mega Man. After that, it becomes a third-rate
Mega Man. It begins promising enough in the opening stage with an inviting city skyline and background music that sounds like "Dreaming of Me" by the Depeche Mode. In a brief cinematic a little kid transforms into a little kid in a costume
. Wow, that's really unimpressive! During his transformation, there's a flash of light but no sound effect!
You'll think the game is broken, and sadly, it won't be the last time!
Shockman is also severely lacking in the creativity department. The action is uninspired, and while you can fire rapidly at generic goons, you're better off running right by them! The first boss is remarkably gruesome and looks out of place in a game like this. The cut-scene dialogue is so awful you might think it's supposed to be funny
. An anchorwoman reports, "The Ryo Empire is invading the earth. Escape as soon as you can." Huh? Where are we supposed to go exactly??
When I reached an underwater shooting stage I thought the game would take a turn for the better, but that just sucked
even harder. The game doesn't keep score, but you can always "continue" if you're a glutton for punishment. The graphics aren't bad and the music has a comforting old-school vibe, but Shockman's marginal quality makes it one of the lesser titles in the Turbografx library. © Copyright 2009 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Radiance (1989)
Publisher: Data East (1991)
Publisher: IGS (1991)
Publisher: Hudson Soft (1992)
Publisher: Atlus (1992)
Innovative in concept but less than fun to play, Somer Assault puts you in control of a slinky-type device moving end over end while sticking to walls and ceilings. Gravity is not a factor, but it takes time to grasp the controls. Each of the twelve stages is an elaborate maze ending with a zodiac-themed boss. Unfortunately, it's never quite clear where the end of each maze is
, so you're forced to wander aimlessly. Along the way you'll encounter missile-firing chess pieces, orbs, and other floating dangers. Your slinky can fire back however in a rapid-fire manner (crank up the auto-fire). Therea are portals that teleport you to different sections of the maze, but not only do these needlessly confuse matters, but they sometimes send you all the way back to the beginning! Inexplicably, there's no score with to measure your progress in this lousy game. The game's only strength lies in its catchy, middle eastern-inspired background music. Somer Assault is certainly original and technically sound, but in terms of gameplay it's a bore. © Copyright 2005 The Video Game Critic.
Son Son II (Japan)
Publisher: NEC (1989)
Our high score: 57,650
Sonic Spike Volleyball
Publisher: IGS (1990)
I trashed this game in my original review a few years back, but at the behest of several readers I gave it a second look. I hate to say it guys, but it still sucks!
Sonic Spike Volleyball (SSV) tries to improve opon Kings of the Beach
(NES, 1988) but fails miserably. The game makes a decent first impression with its colorful courts and large, well-defined players. Wow, those pudgy women look a heck of a lot like guys!
In order to present the tightest possible view, the screen scrolls from one side of the court to the next. Particularly during serves, this is problematic. Once the ball travels over the net you barely have a split-second to line up your player with the white arrow indicating where the ball will land. The player animation is choppy, making the controls feel touchy and inexact. If your opponent unleashes a spike, you'd better be in perfect position to block, because otherwise you have zero chance of returning his lightning-fast shot. Setting the difficulty to easy makes the ball easier to follow, but then you feel like you're playing in slow motion!
Sonic Spike's scenery is colorful but static, and the looping music gets obnoxious after a few minutes. I enjoy beach volleyball as much as the next guy, but Sonic Spike is just too hard to play. © Copyright 2010 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: NEC (1992)
Splash Lake is a peculiar puzzle game that could have been a hit if not for its extreme difficulty. Unlike most puzzle games, this one takes a while to wrap your mind around. As a yellow, bird-like creature, you hop around on connected blocks floating on water. The object is to clear the screen of wandering creatures by "dunking" them into the water. This is done by "pecking" strategic blocks, causing sections of platform to collapse. It's a very clever idea and somewhat intriguing once you get the hang of it. It's never easy though. You'll always need to be on the correct side when you peck that last block or you'll inadvertently sink yourself. I'm normally good at puzzle games, but I couldn't make much progress in Splash Lake. Even the first screen requires a great deal of effort, and the difficulty ramps up steeply from there. While the game supports four players, it's alternating turns only, which is disappointing. Another issue is the bizarre scoring system. After scoring only a few hundred points for painstakingly executing several difficult moves, I would then inexplicably earn 50K for accidentally sinking myself! It had some potential, but Splash Lake is too difficult and unintuitive to recommend. © Copyright 2005 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: NEC (1990)
Splatterhouse serves up a generous portion of glorified violence and gore, and I like
that! You control a muscle-bound psycho named Rick who wears a hockey mask just like Jason from Friday the 13th. His girlfriend is being held captive in a mansion, and he'll need to bash his way through a parade of gruesome monsters to save her. Chained zombies spew green vomit, corpses fall from the ceiling, and giant red slugs burst from chests. You'll fight shambling ghouls, slimy worms, undead werewolves, and a towering dude inspired by Leatherface of Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Fortunately there are plenty of potent weapons lying around including two-by-fours, shotguns, and meat cleavers. Smacking a zombie with a board causes it to splatter against the wall, and it looks pretty sweet. Some side-scrollers are repetitive, but Splatterhouse keeps things fresh with short stages that are full of surprises. You'll battle chairs and silverware in a kitchen, slosh through a sewer, and creep though a room of mirrors. The excellent soundtrack perfectly matches the macabre subject matter. Splatterhouse is the perfect game for Halloween because playing it is like walking through a virtual haunted house. © Copyright 2013 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 28,700
Strip Fighter II (Japan)
Publisher: GameExpress (1993)
Recommended variation: 6 stars
Our high score: 201,900
1 or 2 players
Super Star Soldier
Publisher: Hudson Soft (1991)