Sega 32X Reviews A-C

Afterburner
Grade: B
Publisher: Sega (1994)
Reviewed: 2017/5/14
Rating: Kids to Adults

screenshotIf I had to slap the label "guilty pleasure" on one game, it might just be Afterburner for the 32X. Afterburner screams "arcade" with twitch shooting, blinding colors, high-octane music, and crazy high scoring. Between games it cycles a flight-stick control diagram in addition to a high score screen. Taking full advantage of the 32X color palette, this may be the most visually pleasing game I've ever played. The eye candy is off the charts!

The opening stage presents a bright aircraft carrier on a shimmering deep blue ocean. The red lettering is so vivid it practically bleeds into the screen! Each stage offers its own bold color scheme, with the landing base amongst the orange autumn trees standing out as the best. Check out the hot shot on the motorcycle who tries to race you down the runway! The ground scenery includes pixelated houses, trees, and islands, but it moves by so quickly you barely notice.

The sense of speed is exhilarating but the gameplay is a bit shallow. Your machine guns have limited use but your heat-seeking missiles are highly effective. You're prompted to "fire!" whenever dots in the distance line up in your crosshairs, and I love how your missiles leave a winding trail of smoke before striking their target. Despite impressive scaling animation it can be hard to tell what's going on, especially when being swarmed with incoming missiles.

You'll need to keep moving because if you hold your position for a split-second you'll be shot down immediately. Executing a roll is the best evasive maneuver, but it can be tricky to perform in the heat of the moment. Afterburner is hard but I love how your score is constantly racking up, even when refueling or burrowing into the ground! Set the difficulty to "very easy" to see what this game has to offer. Back in the day Afterburner was my go-to 32X game because I could just pop it in for a few minutes of breathless excitement. They don't make 'em like this anymore. © Copyright 2017 The Video Game Critic.

Recommended variation: max easy
Our high score: 4,206,950
1 player 

BC Racers
Grade: F
Publisher: Core (1995)
Reviewed: 2000/6/18

screenshotIf this game proved anything, it's that the Sega 32X was never ready for prime time. BC Racers is basically a Mario Kart clone, but the horrible frame-rate makes it almost unplayable. This is supposed to be 32-bit technology, and it can't even duplicate a Super Nintendo game?!?! The concept was good, using funny Chuck Rock-style cavemen and dinosaurs riding prehistoric contraptions. The characters are funny looking and well-drawn, and the backgrounds sport some colorful skylines. But once the action gets underway, it's difficult to tell what's going on thanks to excessive choppiness, especially when turning. As you can imagine, the two-player split screen mode is even worse. The turbo and punch buttons are practically useless. The sound sucks also, demonstrated by the weak thunder clashes in the storm stage. It seems as if the 32X wasn't up to the challenge. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.
1 or 2 players 

Blackthorne
Grade: A
Publisher: Interact (1995)
Reviewed: 2001/1/20


screenshotWow, this game is absolutely outstanding! It's part Flashback (Genesis), and part Abe's Odyssey (Playstation). Several game companies combined efforts on this one, including Interplay and Blizzard. The Blizzard influence is obvious, especially when you see the Orc-ish monsters during the excellent intro screens. Blackthorne is a 2D platform adventure game in which you control a Rambo-like hero attempting to rescue humans enslaved by a brutal race of monsters.

The graphics are excellent, with crisp colors, 3D rendered characters, and smooth animation. The creatures are particularly cool-looking. Could this game have been done on the Genesis? Probably, but it wouldn't have looked this good. Gameplay and control is almost exactly like Flashback, but also contains a "hide in shadows" move that can also be used to take cover from gunfire.

The gunfights are fun, and prisoners often get caught in the crossfire (cool!). Using a 6-button control pad is highly recommended. Your main weapon is your gun, but you can also use mines, including some nifty remote-controlled mines. As you make your way through various areas, you'll need to blow away some mean looking creatures, destroy generators, and locate keys. Passwords are given at certain intervals. I was really drawn in by this game. 32X fans should not miss this gem. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 

Brutal Unleashed: Above the Claw
Grade: D
Publisher: Gametek (1995)
Reviewed: 2000/6/18

screenshotThis is a mediocre Street Fighter clone that uses cartoonish animal fighters instead of people. The control and style of play resembles Street Fighter 2, but the game does have a few original touches. You can watch an instant replay of each match, but the matches are rarely exciting enough to watch again. There's a fairly accurate on-screen analysis after each match. The backgrounds show some beautiful, exotic places. The techno music is okay, but the limited, repetitive voice samples get irritating in a hurry. There are many special moves, but you'll have to "earn them". Who's great idea was that? Your progress is saved using one of those long character passwords. Let's face it: in the world of 2D fighters, this was never really a contender. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.
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1 or 2 players 

Corpse Killer (CD)
Grade: F
Publisher: Digital Pictures (1994)
Reviewed: 2013/8/30
Rating: Mature (realistic violence)

screenshotI was willing to cut the Sega CD version of Corpse Killer a little slack due to its limited graphic capabilities, but what's the excuse for this pitiful 32X edition? Sure, the video quality benefits from the expanded color palette, but the video display is still modest in size, and the remainder of the screen is sparse. Corpse Killer is a series of shallow, rapid-fire shooting stages sandwiched between live-action cut-scenes.

You assume the role of a soldier sent to a remote island to rid it of zombies and the mad scientist producing them. The interesting stages include a destroyed airport, an overgrown graveyard, and a beach full of shipwrecks. Your goal is to mow down scores of zombies who look like a bunch of fraternity guys suspended on wires and superimposed over static backdrops. Every zombie I shoot makes the same grunt noise.

Aiming the cursor with the control pad is clumsy and inexact, and support for the Menacer light gun is so awful it shouldn't even be advertised. Not only is it not the least bit accurate, but the constant screen flashing and stuttering frame-rate is unbearable. Even with a control pad the video skips intermittently as the audio cuts in and out.

The cut-scenes feature some of the most awkward acting performances and embarrassing dialogue I've ever witnessed. Unfortunately, I also consider these to be the highlight of the game! I will admit that Vincent Schiavelli delivers a fun, over-the-top performance as the mad scientist. That hot blonde reporter is incapable of delivering a convincing line of dialog. Corpse Killer has a few endearing qualities, but rampant technical glitches render this 32X version the worst of the bunch. © Copyright 2013 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 1,897,060
1 player 

Cosmic Carnage
Grade: F
Publisher: Sega (1994)
Reviewed: 2005/3/19
Rating: Teen (animated blood and violence, gore)


screenshotThis is progress?? I could rag on Cosmic Carnage all day. Pixelated graphics. Shameless gore. Gratuitous colors. Sluggish, uninspired gameplay. Dumb name. This has to be one of the worst 2D fighters I've ever played! I remember back in 1994 when my buddy Keith brought this game over my house as I was showing off my new 32X to friends. But after a single match, the game had already worn out its welcome.

This one-on-one fighter perfectly exemplifies why the 32X was such a failure. The game makes a concerted effort to show off the system's scaling and color capabilities, but it's so forced that the "enhanced visual effects" look gratuitous at best and distracting at worst. Cosmic Carnage pits eight alien creatures against each other, and a few are somewhat interesting, like the half-woman/half-snake thing and the guy with gorilla arms. Certain characters can select armor plating before each match, but this makes your already colorful fighter look downright gaudy! I know color was one of the few 32X strong points, but does everything need to be rainbow striped??

In contrast, the backgrounds tend to be hopelessly dull or utterly annoying. The battles apparently take place in low gravity, because they seem to unfold in slow motion. Horrible controls make it difficult to tell which fighter is inflicting damage, if any. There's some blood and scaling body parts, but these are so exaggerated that they just look silly. The screen "zooms in" during hold moves, but this creates some very unsightly pixilation (look away - it BURNS!).

Matches last far too long, and finally end with someone getting their limbs torn off. Nice. Even the audio is lame, with "by the numbers" electronic tunes and understated sound effects. Cosmic Carnage is one of the most worthless, ill-conceived pieces of garbage I've come across. And I don't mean that in a good way. . © Copyright 2005 The Video Game Critic.

1 or 2 players 


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Screen shots courtesy of Shinforce, Video Game Museum, Mega CD Library