Publisher: Namco (1992)
If you think you're pretty good at platform games, I'd suggest giving Samurai Ghost a try. This impressive-looking side-scroller is a real showcase title for the Turbografx-16. With its elaborate backgrounds and huge characters, I thought I was playing a Neo Geo game! The gameplay is all about sword slashing, platform jumping, and various combinations of the two. Your Samurai Ghost is an imposing figure with white skin and flowing red hair. The controls are mainly limited to jumping and sword thrusting, and they take a lot of getting used to. The colorful, detailed enemies include skeletal dogs, floating wraiths, giant crows with swords(!), archers, and floating eyeballs. My least favorite is definitely the skull-headed spider, which binds your legs with its webbing. The first few stages of the game are set in volcanic areas (check out the heads in the ground), but eventually you move onward to wave-swept beaches, ice-covered plains, and flower-filled forests. The Laughing Place features a twisted circus theme. Since your character is technically a ghost, you'll also have the opportunity to walk on water and clouds. Sadly, Samurai Ghost looks much better than it plays. The collision detection is fishy, the power-up system is more confusing than it is useful, and mandatory hits are the order of the day. Between stages you'll be greeted by a hideous witch who spews unintentionally hilarious lines such as "How a pity you are", and "Don't be inattention". Samurai Ghost has a weird style that's kind of freaky. Overall, it adds up to an interesting but unexceptional gaming experience. © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.
Seirei Senshi Spriggan (Japan)
Publisher: Naxat Soft (1991)
Seirei Senshi Spriggan may not look like much, but this Japanese vertical shooter packs a punch. Feel free to skip the lame intro, which looks like it would be boring even if I could
understand Japanese! Once the action begins you control a flying mech against giant skulls, twitchy spiders, flying fish, and a menagerie of other random enemies. The opening stage is kind of *meh*
but I like the second stage with its ominous stormclouds, flying castle, and scurrying little people. The third "water" stage is so damn flashy and fast-moving, it's almost nauseating
. What makes Spriggan so much fun is its innovative weapon system. By collecting three orbs of one color you can unleash some extreme
firepower (did someone say five-way shot?
). Collecting combinations
of orbs produces a variety of weapons, and experimenting is half the fun. One weapon even causes shrapnel of destroyed enemies to take out other nearby targets. You can also jettison an orb at any time, which acts like a bomb. Often a friendly mech will fight by your side. I appreciate the support buddy, but you are confusing
me! Smart bombs periodically float down the screen, and you'll want to snag these at the last possible moment to maximize the damage. With such ubiquitous firepower, even novice players can survive the first few stages. One annoyance is how certain enemies can absorb a ridiculous number of shots. Still, you'll find yourself playing Spriggan again and again. When you feel the need to unleash massive firepower after a hard day's work, this shooter will not let you down. Note: This is a PC Engine import disc. © Copyright 2014 The Video Game Critic.
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)
If you've ever wanted to put those little turbo switches on your Turbografx controller to good use, Side Arms is your game. The action here is very straightforward - push one button to shoot left, and the other to shoot right. And unless you want carpal-tunnel syndrome, you'll want to set both buttons to "max turbo" for that rapid-fire effect. As a side-scrolling shooter, Side Arms is not remarkable, but it is undeniably fun. The first stage has you flying over a destroyed port city at night, and the blue water and black sky look very attractive. After the first boss however, you'll descend underground and spend most of your time flying through uninteresting caverns. I do like how you can't crash into the walls - it's nice not having to worry about that for a change. With the exception of a few centipede-like creatures, most of the enemies are static and generic. What makes Side Arms such a blast is your overwhelming firepower. You can switch between weapons on the pause screen, and each can be powered up to an impressive degree. The "transformation alpha" power-up temporarily turns you in a "mech" that fires in eight directions at once, and it's awesome while it lasts. Once you ramp up your firepower, you'll breeze through the first stage with no problem. When you die and lose your weapons however, it can be hard to return to your previous glory. The bosses are surprisingly easy to beat, especially that "wheel of fortune" thing. There are also a few off-beat bonus items like a strawberry and a cow. Sure, we take cow power-ups for granted now, but in 1989 they were quite the novelty. Side Arms is one of those guilty pleasures that's fun because you don't have to think too much. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Data East (1991)
Silent Debuggers is a sophisticated, high-tech dungeon crawler that you'll forget about the minute you shut it off. Assuming the role of a space "debugger", your mission is to exterminate aliens in six levels of a space station, preventing it from self-destruction. In the cheesy intro, an androgynous redhead introduces himself (?) as your partner. "I'm Leon. Be my buddy.
Debuggers do the dirty work and I love it.
" Is it just me, or does that sound like something you'd hear in a gay bar?
Equally amusing is how the manual describes the space station as "evil". How can an inanimate object be evil? Silent Debuggers is played from a first-person perspective, and each level is a maze of hallways that all look exactly the same
. The illusion of movement is adequate but jumpy as you move in 10-foot increments. Sensors indicate your proximity to the monsters, which typically reveal themselves as big heads with dangling arms. Silent Debuggers makes fine use of stereo effects to indicate your target's direction. If you turn down a hallway and the sensor audio becomes muffled, that means you're headed in the wrong direction. But even when you track down the creep, he moves so fast the game turns into an unpleasant game of cat and mouse. When you finally blast him, his arms catch fire and he unleashes a shrill scream. It's satisfying the first time, but after that the game becomes monotonous and unsatisfying. Leon guides you from a central computer room and provides upgraded weapons and items. Advanced levels introduce unwelcome complications like power outages, ammo shortages, and losing the use of your sensors. The game's single bright spot is its soundtrack, which would have been better used in a side-scrolling shooter. Silent Debuggers tries to be a sophisticated space adventure, but just because a game has a lot of pieces doesn't mean it's going to add up to anything. © Copyright 2009 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: IGS (1991)
Who can resist a good Turbografx shooter? Not me! Sinistron is not exceptional in any way, but its familiar gameplay and adrenaline-pumping soundtrack will give old-school gamers a warm and fuzzy feeling inside. The side-scrolling action is fairly typical as you blast your way through space stations, caverns of living tissue, and combinations of both. You'll also need to traverse asteroid belts and gaseous tunnels. Your vessel is long but narrow, with two "plasma droids" providing protection from above and below. Acquired weapons include normal red shots, blue lasers, and heat-seeking missiles. One noteworthy feature is your ability to open your ship's "jaws" to expand your attack radius. Sinistron is a blast when you're fully powered up, but it can be a drag when you die and have to revert to your weak peashooter. You can configure your controller for rapid-fire (recommended), but this precludes the use of your "charge" weapon, which releases a circle of energy around your ship. Sinistron's graphics are clean but not very distinctive. My favorite stage is the red gaseous tunnel with its periodic flashes of lightning. The "biological cavern" of stage three is colorful but loaded with cheap hits. Your adversaries are forgettable in design, and many blend in with the scenery. Most bosses are strange masses where you can't tell the head from the tail. One aspect of the game I dislike is how your shots form blue circles when they strike a target - it looks cheesy. The sounds effects are weak, but the catchy, layered musical score is quite good. This isn't a standout shooter by any means, but Sinistron provides the quality shooting action you'd expect from the Turbografx. © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Hudson Soft (1992)
On the surface, Soldier Blade is a less-than-spectacular vertical shooter against armies of non-descript machines. The space station backgrounds are nicely detailed, but most of the scenery appears static and uninspired. Enemies assume the form of jets, tanks, cannons, and large shapeless chunks of metal floating in the sky. That's okay, because none of them stick around for long. Soldier Blade may not look
like much, but in terms of pure gameplay, this is a shooter fan's dream. Unlike most shooters that ramp up gradually, Soldier Blade turns up the heat immediately. Not only does the action get off to a fast start, but it never lets up, and your firepower is devastating from beginning to end. When you're spraying the screen with green waves, or wiping away enemies with your blue electric beams, you start to wonder, "How could I possibly die?" In addition to your awesome main weapons, you have a special attack that performs your dirty work for you, including one that resembles a ghostly head that "sits" on enemies while zapping their strength. It's nice how the game alerts you about enemies sneaking up from behind, and I also like how taking a hit reduces your firepower instead of destroying you outright. The bosses are forgettable but well spaced and thankfully don't overstay their welcome. There's no slow-down or break-up to speak of, and topping it all off, the electronic soundtrack is terrific! When you complete a level, a message appears saying, "Operation Complete - You Are Now A Woman". Okay, my friend Jonathan added the woman part but I thought it was pretty funny. If shooters are your thing, you really can't go wrong with Soldier Blade. © Copyright 2007 The Video Game Critic.
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)
Not to be written off as just another cute anime platformer, Son Son II is insanely fun and surprisingly deep. The main character is a monkey-boy who pokes enemies with a bo-staff to turn them into fruit. If you use the turbo function on the controller (and why the hell
wouldn't you?) you can poke rapid-fire, which is awesome. Your staff has a long reach, and it's satisfying to poke a row of enemies and watch them all simultaneously burst into fruits and veggies. Those who grew up with Pac-Man should feel comfortable with the apples, oranges, and grapes. But beware that Son Son II will take you out of your produce comfort zone by incorporating lemons, green peppers, watermelons, corn on the cob, and a wide assortment of other nutritious bonus items. In fact, just playing
this game is equivalent to eating
three servings of vegetables. Out to stop you are natives, carnivorous plants, ghosts, bats, and annoying little blobs. The platform jumping is addictive and the vine climbing has a sweet Donkey Kong Junior flavor. In terms of presentation Son Son II features inviting green forests, bright blue skies, and happy-go-lucky background music. The basic gameplay is satisfying enough, but Son Son II takes things to the next level
by letting you buy weapons and items at shops. It's hard to determine what some of the items are (I can't read Japanese!
) so it took me a while to figure things out. Some of the advanced stages are confusing to navigate, but this is still one of the more satisfying romps you'll experience on the Turbografx. Note: This game is Japanese and requires a converter to play on American systems. © Copyright 2013 The Video Game Critic.
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)
This novelty item attempts to add a sexy twist to the Street Fighter 2 formula, pitting six female fighters against each other. The obligatory Chung Li knock-off looks okay, and Medusa looks fine in her red pumps and snake bikini. The other chicks however look more freakish than sexy. And with names like Bella and Martha, it's clear that the developers were out of touch with stripper naming conventions (Destiny, Angel, Candy, Chastity, Desiree, etc). Strip Fighter 2's graphics aren't too shabby, and one could argue they're in the same ballpark as the Street Fighter 2. The characters are detailed but their animation is stiff, slow, and floaty. The soundtrack is surprisingly strong, but the stage locations aren't very memorable. The snowy Japanese village looks nice, but the park with the static waterfall looks terribly fake. The one-on-one fighting action is weak but the game is playable. The controls suffer from a three-button control scheme - one of which is used to toggle between punches and kicks (ugh). Hits are punctuated by a strange visual effect that's probably
supposed to be blood. Jump-kicks often deliver two
hits, which feels unnatural but strangely satisfying. Some special moves are Street Fighter-derived, but most tend to be of the "what the [expletive] just happened" variety. A few ill-conceived moves incorporate the butt or breasts, but the less said about those, the better. The "stripping" element only comes into play in the single player mode. Winning a round treats you to a digitized photo of a scantily-clad babe, and upon winning the second round she gets butt-naked (with the lower region blurred). Since the default difficulty is pretty low it's not hard to see everything the game has to offer. My friends Scott and Chris were not impressed with the digitized babes, and Chris remarked how one looked like Zangief!
My friend Steve, on the other hand, thought the girls looked pretty hot - especially
the one who looked like Zangief! Strip Fighter II is a marginal Street Fighter knock-off, and I'm still trying to figure out if it's meant to be funny or not. Note: A converter is required to play this Japanese game on an American system. © Copyright 2013 The Video Game Critic.
Recommended variation: 6 stars
Our high score: 201,900
1 or 2 players
Super Star Soldier
Publisher: Hudson Soft (1991)
Readers have been begging me to give this one another look for some time, since I apparently mistakenly reviewed it the first time around with my turbo switch set to "on". As with certain other T-16 games (Splatterhouse comes to mind), that can have a detrimental effect on a game's playability. Now that I've played Super Star Soldier as it was intended, I can verify that it is
a genuinely terrific vertical shooter. The weapons are satisfying, the difficulty is fair, and there's no slowdown, even when things get crazy (and they will). This game skillfully straddles that fine line between exciting and chaotic by throwing just enough
stuff at you at any particular moment. The stages are typical, including the obligatory space stations, water planets, and deserts with swirling sands. It's the weapons that really steal the show. You can select between red missiles, blue rings, yellow flames, and green lasers. When the laser is fully powered, you can practically wipe the screen with it (sweet). All of the weapons are effective, and once you tack on the homing missiles or protective pods, the game reaches a level of mayhem that most shooters can only dream about. I also like how taking a hit only degrades your firepower instead of destroying your ship outright. Of course, once you acquire your preferred weapon, you'll face the problem of avoiding
other weapon icons. That can be problematic because the icons sometimes like to "hang out" in the field of play. The legions of tanks, cannons, and ships you'll face are forgettable, but the large bosses with so many moving parts are interesting. The only thing that truly annoyed me about Super Star Soldier were those green "beans" in stage four - they're hard to avoid and even harder to destroy. In addition to the main game, there are some entertaining "2 minute" and "5 minute" modes, which challenge you to maximize your score within these fixed periods of time. Super Star Soldier is one of many fantastic shooters for the Turbografx. With its brisk pace and tight controls, you'll really get into a groove playing this one. © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.
TV Sports Basketball
Publisher: NEC (1990)
TV Sports Basketball features exceptional graphics and audio, but it's all for naught thanks to the most confusing, convoluted control scheme ever devised for a basketball game. The realistic-looking players don't look bad at all, and the vertical court looks pretty sharp. Crisp sound effects punctuate the "whoosh" of a basket and the "clank" of a brick, and penalties are called out using clear voice samples. If only TV Sports Basketball was the least bit playable! The controls are absolutely bewildering, and with players constantly bunching up, it's never clear who has possession. The same button is used to pass, shoot, steal, and
call plays! For the love of God man - there has got
to be a better way! The foul shooting is deplorable, with an arrow that continues to move long after you've hit the button
! Jump shots travel at unnatural trajectories, and once they make contact with the rim, they inexplicably blast off into the stratosphere! When bringing the ball across mid-court, the game switches to a side view, and all you can do is call a play as players drag their slow asses to the other end. TV Sports Basketball lacks an NBA license, which is evident by the team names, which include the Ninjas, Shadows, Snipers
, Zombies, and get this - the Wizards
(now that's just silly)! You can manipulate your roster, but when you're dealing with fictional players, why bother? Last but not least, the game periodically displays a blonde cheerleader who doesn't look quite right
. Good Lord - she's sporting a package
!! Sadly, penis-packing cheerleaders are the most entertaining aspect of the entire game. © Copyright 2007 The Video Game Critic.
TV Sports Football
Publisher: Cinemaware (1991)
Back in my college days my friend Bob and I had a fierce rivalry in TV Sports Football on my Atari ST computer. The game's super-sharp graphics and amazing cinematics stood head and shoulders above other football games of the time. I would always be the pass-happy San Francisco team and Bob would run all over my ass with New Jersey and their star runningback Val Kinnebrew
. Bob and I recently revisited TV Sports Football on the Turbografx-16, but it wasn't the same. Instead of a full list of major league cities, you select between eight teams with cheesy names like the Buzzards, Blizzards, and Tidal Waves. The graphics certainly brought back some memories, with realistically-proportioned, well-defined players. The play selection is fairly limited however, and the action on the field is a lot
slower than I remember. It's hard to get a first down! Completing a pass requires leading your receiver, and if any defender is in the vicinity, the ball will harmlessly bounce off your chest or back. The running game relies on holes in the offensive line, and if there are none, you're a sitting duck for defenders converging from the ends. Even when you do find a hole you tend to get tripped up by your own linemen. Occasionally you'll plow right through a defender, but that's rare. When a player is tackled, he lets out an alarming primal scream.
If you didn't know better, you'd think the poor guy was being eaten by a lion!
Your one special move is to dive, but it's pretty effective. So why is this called "TV Sports" you ask? Well, there's this anchorman named "Turk McGill" who looks like a ventriloquist doll
with that john-john hairdo and bright red sport jacket. Creepy!
He's always interrupting the action to report obvious stuff like "the extra point was good". Du-uh!
Turk sometimes mentions the names of players, and they tend to have silly monikers like "Gnarly Dude" or "Salty Waters". The game's visual highlight occurs when you kick a field goal or extra point, as you're treated to a full-screen animation with a behind-the-kicker vantage point. It's really easy to aim your kick and satisfying to see it sail through the uprights. Considering how awesome that is, the complete lack of a half-time show is disappointing. TV Sports Football isn't terrible, but it feels like a watered-down version of the game I remember, and its slow pacing is sure to irritate sports fans with short attention spans. © Copyright 2009 The Video Game Critic.
TV Sports Hockey
Publisher: NEC (1991)
When it comes to 16-bit hockey games, comparisons to EA's famed NHL titles for the Genesis and Super Nintendo are unavoidable. Suffice to say, this one compares miserably
to those. TV Sports Hockey is slowly paced with infuriating controls and worthless AI. Face-offs are borderline comical as both players swat in vain at a puck that seems glued to the ice. Maintaining possession of it is nearly impossible, as precious few passes reach their desired target. You'll suddenly find yourself in control of your goalie at the most inopportune times, and even under the CPU's control, goalies allow some really soft shots through. The graphics aren't bad. Sure the players are smaller than they are in the EA games, but they look more realistic and occasionally surprise you with a nifty animation. The choppy frame-rate however will have you wishing there was an instant replay just so you could figure out how the puck got into the net! The highlight of the game is its cinematic close-ups of fights and breakaway opportunities. When two players stop and throw off their mitts, you're treated to a well-executed fight, with punches, blocks, and even flying blood! Unfortunately, once you experience a few of these battles, they soon become mundane. Each penalty triggers an unnecessary cutaway to an anchorman offering insightful commentary like "Chicago offside". This guy looks like a complete dork with that missing tooth and bowl haircut. Hey, wait a minute
- isn't that Lloyd Christmas
from Dumb and Dumber
!? In terms of audio, TV Sports Hockey cranks out some decent organ music, but the crowd sounds like a throat full of phlegm! Instead of scraping skates and bone-crunching checks, you get cat-like hisses and voice samples that sound like "BOO!" Are these players trying to scare
each other?? The contests run too long, and you can't adjust the length of the periods. The roster screens depict goalies wearing regular helmets over
their white masks, making them look like skeletons! If not for TV Sports Hockey's "so-bad-it's-funny" moments, it would probably be completely worthless. © Copyright 2007 The Video Game Critic.
Takin' It To The Hoop
Publisher: NEC (1989)
Whenever you turn on a basketball game and see some white boy soaring above a rim and throwing down a dunk, you know you're headed for some crap
. But as bad as Takin' It To The Hoop is, it still
stands head and shoulders above that God-awful TV Sports Basketball. With a little more effort, this could
have been a lot of fun. The graphics are well-defined and somewhat whimsical. The players sport oversized heads, and they appear to be scampering around in diapers! That red, white, and blue basketball looks like a freakin' beach ball! Controlling your player is easy enough, but switching between them is confusing. The selected player flickers only slightly, making him hard to locate - especially when he's off the screen! Remarkably, you cannot jump at all
(even for rebounds), and the computer-controlled team steals the ball at will. When a player attempts a shot near the hoop, the game switches to a full-screen close-up showing the slam (or block) being executed. While it's easily the highlight of the game, it's strange how the players suddenly change from goofy cartoon characters to realistic players! Close-ups are also employed for foul shots, and you can't help but laugh when you witness every one of these players shooting like a girl! You can't adjust the excessively long periods, and you're forced to constantly rotate out tired players. Considering the inclusion of extraneous features like switching defensive schemes, you really wish the programmers would have invested more time in the stuff that really matters
. Takin' It To The Hoop may be the best basketball game available for the Turbografx, but let's not kid ourselves here - it's still pretty bad. © Copyright 2007 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Right Stuff (1991)
This rare side-scrolling shooter is remarkably average. The opening sequence shows off Terraforming's hand-drawn style, which straddles the line between artistic and cheesy
. The stages offer surreal, pastel-colored sky-scapes and landscapes. Enemies come in a bizarre assortment of biological and mechanical shapes. Most defy description, but a few vaguely resemble manta rays, umbrellas, and gorillas. Your ship is equipped with a rapid-fire cannon which doubles as a charged shot, and the second button is used to adjust your speed. Attackers enter the fray from all sides, and they come in droves. Colored pods provide three types of weapon power-ups. The yellow is the best by far, as it sprays missiles around your ship and provides the best coverage. The blue weapon unleashes homing missiles which sound like clanking metal when they strike enemies, and that's pretty annoying! After loading up on yellow or blue weapons, you can pretty much hold down the fire button and rack up the points. The red power-up provides a more concentrated attack, but it's poorly-suited to handle the swarms of enemies this game throws at you. Take note that the red and yellow pods look very similar
, so don't mix them up! When powered-up, taking a hit causes you to lose weapon strength instead of your ship, which is nice. Terraforming's CD soundtrack is decent but nothing to write home about. At times I got the impression that the waves were artificially extended so the player is forced to hear the songs in their entirety. The same enemies re-enter the screen in the same patterns over and over again. The bosses resemble turtles and plants, and they're not very intimidating. Terraforming isn't a bad way to pass the time, but I've played better non-CD
shooters on my Turbografx, which should say something. © Copyright 2011 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 294,463
Publisher: Victor (1990)
I usually appreciate side-scrolling martial arts games, but Tiger Road falls victim to poor design. You control a martial arts student armed with weapons like swords, morning stars, and maces. The characters are cartoonish in appearance, but the graphics do have an appealing, clean look to them. Gameplay mainly involves jumping from generic platforms and beating up an endless supply of goons. The two buttons are used for jump and attack, and I do recommend activating the turbo control on your attack button. The controls are responsive, but no match for the relentless armies you face. Enemies appear from out of nowhere, and they're always pouncing on your head, where you are completely vulnerable (you can't attack up!). Also annoying is how these thugs constantly regenerate, so once you defeat an enemy, you turn around and he's right there again! One of the better stages has you actually flying
around a series of obstacles - sort of a precursor to Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. I also enjoyed the bonus "training sessions", which challenge you to perform feats like putting out fire with your weapon. But these novelties can't save Tiger Road's poorly-designed levels and unforgiving gameplay. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Face (1992)
This exceptional video pinball game features a huge board that's as wide as it is tall. The up and down scrolling is smooth, although the side scrolling is a bit choppy. Time Cruise's control is responsive, although the ball has been known to hesitate momentarily. A nudge button comes in very handy for emergency situations. The time-machine style graphics are both attractive and original, but all areas of the table look pretty much the same. The pinball action is solid, but it takes a back seat to the numerous bonus stages that can take you either backward or forward in time. Each of these unique stages offer its own unique brand of fun, usually in the form of mini-pinball games. One requires you to guide a ball through a maze by tilting a board, and while it's quite challenging, it takes too long and slows down the pace of the game. Still, Time Cruise has a lot of depth for a pinball game. It's more playable than Alien Crush, but not as good as Devil's Crush. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Telenet (1991)
It's amazing how a game can be terrific on one system and lousy on another. The Genesis version of Valis III was an enthralling combination of swordplay and platform jumping, but on the Turbografx it's just exasperating. The game kicks off with an overwrought introduction conveyed with colorful (but mostly static) images and plenty of voice dialogue. You'd think the narrator would possess a deep voice to lend weight to the epic storyline, but instead you get some squeaky-voiced geek. The cut scenes are lengthy (probably to justify the CD format), and they periodically require a few seconds to load. Unless you're really into anime, you'll just want to hit the Run button and get on with it. Valis 3's gameplay is pretty standard. By switching control between various female characters, you slash your way through scenic lands filled with mythological creatures. The graphics are sharper than the Genesis version, but not as attractive. The city lights in particular look like crap. The pace of the game is faster, but the controls are far
less forgiving. Whenever an enemy strikes you, you automatically roll back, often off the edge of a cliff! In the poorly designed second stage, I couldn't determine how to leap between a series of well-spaced ledges. After a bit of research, I discovered you actually have to slide
between the ledges! Yes, slide across a chasm in mid-air. Idiotic stuff like that makes me want to slap an F
on the game and be done with it. Valis 3 is also plagued by cheap and mandatory hits, making the game far more difficult than it should be. The soundtrack is of high quality, but the voice acting is vomit-inducing. Check out this dramatic exchange. Boss: "My intro was a bit flashy, but do you like it?" Yuko: "Why do you do something like that?" Boss: "Hey, ask your sword, Yuko." This game is a mess. If you have a choice, stick with the Genesis version. © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.
Valis IV (Japan)
Publisher: Telenet (1991)
I've played my share of Valis games and they consistently provide solid, old-school platforming fun with attractive heroines. This PC Engine title has a lengthy intro with some boring Japanese guy who just won't shut up. Valis IV lets you toggle between a pair of attractive ladies with the push of a button. One wears a blue dress, slashing with a sword and sliding through narrow passages. The other is dressed in yellow, hurling a boomerang-style weapon and performing double-jumps. The stage designs are simple yet clean and attractive. You'll walk through temple ruins under a red sunset, float on platforms over rushing water, and cross perilous bridges. Enemies include flying crabs, floating phantoms, some green guy with a mace, and fire-breathing dragon statues. I like how you can slash repeatedly, but you can only aim sideways so it's hard to deal with enemies approaching from overhead. If you press up while attacking, you'll unleash your magic which envelops the screen. The controls are crisp but the double jump is tricky. You need to initiate the second jump right away; if you hesitate it will not register. Before jumping onto a platform near the edge of the screen you'll want to pause a moment to make sure it's not being patrolled by a monster. Some platforms are hard to reach but I noticed you can jump a little higher if you do so while running. Later stages introduce additional playable characters like a tall knight who hurls ghostly wolf heads. Enemies exhibit predictable behavior, but I hate those big white swirls that follow you around like heat-seeking missiles. Valis IV has no score but several continues are available. The orchestrated soundtrack is CD quality and has an appealing old school vibe. The game isn't spectacular but it might remind you how much fun an old-school side-scroller can be. © Copyright 2014 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: NEC (1989)
This racing game challenges you to complete an eight-mile course within a set period of time. The track segments include everything from a French countryside to the Sahara desert, and the graphics are impressively smooth. There's nothing on the side of the road, but the distant scenery and the colorful skylines look great. As day turns to night, the lights go on in the buildings - a nice touch. The smooth scaling of oncoming cars and the rolling hills reminded me of Road Rash on the Genesis, but why are all of the vehicles so huge? My car looks like a toy compared to these other cars! Heck, even the motorcycles tower over me. And what's up with all the garbage trucks? Victory Run's gameplay just didn't do it for me. Driving down the road dodging cars gets old after a while. Between track segments you can upgrade you tires, gears, engine, suspension, and brakes, but I could never tell which ones I needed. Even worse, you can damage your engine by running it too high! That goes against my natural instinct to go fast, and it really hurts this game's overall score. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Irem (1989)
Here's a side-scrolling brawler with terrific graphics but just so-so gameplay. The fighters are large and well-defined, and your character resembles Jackie Chan. The gameplay is completely 2D, so you can only move from side to side. The storyline definitely caught my attention: "The skinheads have taken Madonna hostage!" - I kid you not. The girl does have blond hair but is dressed far too modest to be mistaken for the real Madonna. Through five action-packed stages, your kung-fu hero faces the same thugs over and over until you reach the end-of-level boss. The moves are limited to the standard punch, kick, jump, and crouch, but occasionally you'll come across a pair of devastating nun-chucks which kick the action into high gear. If you want to be really
cheap, use the turbo with these things for some rapid-fire attacks. It's especially effective against bosses, who normally take forever
to kill. The graphics in Vigilante are better than average, and the New York skyline looks fantastic. In terms of sound, the music isn't bad, and there's a satisfying "thud" whenever you whack somebody. Vigilante is fun while it lasts, but it's definitely a shallow experience. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.
World Class Baseball
Publisher: NEC (1989)
The Turbografx never excelled in terms of sports games, and this is yet another example of that. World Class Baseball's graphics are crisp and colorful, but the gameplay lacks polish. It's easy to see the pitch coming thanks to the nice behind-the-batter view, but trying to hit the ball is another story. The game routinely calls pitches far off the plate as strikes. When a ball is put into play, the game switches to an unimpressive overhead view with slow fielders and unresponsive dive controls. The throws are so weak that routine grounders turn into base hits, and you can forget about turning any double plays. It's pretty obvious that NEC didn't put a lot of effort into the game. The umpire voices are in Japanese, and runners don't overrun bases - they stop on a dime, which looks dumb. World Class Baseball is easy enough to play and moves at a steady pace, but it can't compete with other great baseball games of its time. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.
World Sports Competition
Publisher: Hudson Soft (1993)
I've always loved Olympic-style games, with their wide variety of events, simple controls, and multi-player action. I had high hopes for World Sports Competition, but its blatant flaws range from the aggravating to the downright infuriating. On the positive side, there are a staggering 18 events included. That's a lot of game for your money, and you'll enjoy lengthy, spirited contests if you have four players. The graphics and music are terrific, and you can even save your place at certain intervals. The competition is divided in three-event "days", and a TV-style announcer provides an update after each round. Unfortunately, these time-consuming intermissions are always the same: "It's a dog-eat-dog competition… yada yada yada". The events themselves are wildly uneven in quality. I really loved the shooting, archery, track, and throwing events. These require a nice combination of button mashing, timing, and reflexes. But man, Hudson Soft really beat the swimming contests into the F-ing ground! There are no less than five
of these boring events. I can't tell one from the next, and they take forever
. But World Sport's worst flaw would have to be its outrageous difficulty
. You practically have to set a world record just to qualify! Hell, in the long jump, you practically have to clear
the F-ing sandbox! Sure, you can "cheat" by using the turbo settings, but you shouldn't have to. Adding insult to injury, failure in any event means you'll have to start the entire "day" over!! Was Hudson Soft too cheap to hire one lousy play-tester?! The qualifying score is flashed briefly before each event; is it asking too much to keep that thing on the screen? I also hate how the game constantly calls you "disqualified" whenever you fail to qualify (there's a difference). Another unforgivable flaw is the sorry-ass instruction book. Not only does it fail to provide adequate descriptions of the controls, it even refers to some events by the wrong name! I have my doubts as to whether the author ever actually played this game. World Sports Competition should have been a blast, but bonehead design decisions nearly ruin it. Unless you have four players, this is not worth your time. © Copyright 2005 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: NEC (1991)
I was hoping this would be a racially insensitive title I could tear apart, but sadly it's just an innocuous skateboarding game. Yo Bro lets you control a skateboarding bear
who rolls around town while saving humans and defeating monsters with his slingshot. When you ride over people big point values appear, calling to mind Robotron. Unfortunately the shooting aspect is very unlike
Robotron. Basically it sucks. First off, it's really
hard to navigate the streets on your skateboard. Lining up for a shot is difficult enough, but your momentum usually sends you drifting right into your target! That's a serious problem when enemies like man-eating plants requires about 15 shots
to kill! Be sure to enable the rapid-fire setting on your controller. Advanced stages pit you against bee swarms, dinosaurs, and aliens, but the action always feels the same. The maze-like town is boring and the non-stop Beach Boys music will have you lunging for the mute button. Yo Bro drags on and on, so by the time you're prompted to "continue?" the decision is a no-brainer. © Copyright 2012 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 51,600
1 or 2 players
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Screen shots courtesy of Video Game Museum, Racket Boy, Moby Games