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Games are rated relative to other games for the same system.

Sega 32X Reviews A-C

After Burner
Grade: B
Publisher: Sega (1994)
Posted: 2017/5/14
Rating: Kids to Adults

screenshotIf I had to slap the label "guilty pleasure" on one game, it might just be After Burner for the 32X. After Burner 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. After Burner 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 After Burner 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)
Posted: 2023/4/26

screenshotAny game that appears on the 32X is obligated to offer something we couldn't get on a normal Genesis. In this case I'm guessing that the "thing" is scaling and rotation. Like a third-rate Super Mario Kart (SNES, 1992), BC Racers features cavemen racing on rickety, stone-aged contraptions. Despite the wacky characters and zany animations, hilarity never manages to ensue.

Each vehicle has a little sidecar to hold a smaller partner (usually a kid) who can smack enemies with a club. The thing is, you can only attack those passing on the right. The frame-rate is not particularly smooth, so when you turn the screen kind of jerks around. And we're talking about the full-screen, single-player mode. You can imagine how bad the two-player split-screen is! In a word, Sudz described it as MISERABLE.

The generous number of tracks would normally be a good thing, but they tend to be cluttered and hard to follow. That tiny "map" in the center of the screen is all but worthless. The jungle track features a beautiful waterfall in the distance, but its dirt road is pixel soup! The night track that incorporates headlights is completely disconcerting. The fully-enclosed cave track is nausea-inducing.

It's hard enough to remain on the road much less engage in combat. You typically get one nitro boost per race but it's weak. Every so often the game will declare your vehicle "wrecked" for no apparent reason. There's nothing worse than having this happen on the final lap, meaning you toiled three laps for nothing.

The audio could be described as muted. The thunder clashes in the storm stage are pitiful, and every collision or hit is punctuated by a dull thud. The rinky-dink music sounds like a kid tinkering with a Casio keyboard.

Playing through an entire tournament mode was an endurance test that left me feeling violently ill. I'd love to know what the quality assurance team was thinking. "C'mon guys! The sooner we give this thing our stamp of approval, the sooner we order that first round of shots at the pub!" © Copyright 2023 The Video Game Critic.

1 or 2 players 

Grade: B+
Publisher: Interact (1995)
Posted: 2023/4/26

screenshotBlackthorne is one of those slow, deliberate platform adventures along the lines of Flashback (Genesis, 1993). The objective is to save prisoners forced to work in mines by evil goblin creatures. Our muscle-bound hero has plenty of moves at his disposal, but most interesting is the ability to duck into the shadows. Once there he can stick his head out every so often to unload a round or two at a nearby enemy.

This 32X version arrived about a year after the SNES game and there are subtle differences. The synthesized music of the 32X can't compete with the richness and deep bass of the SNES. Instead of deep guffaws, the goblin laughs sound more human and less scary. Some animations have been revamped, so it looks like your guy is walking around with a pole up his butt. It never looks natural when characters in a game stand and walk with perfect posture.

Blackthorne's gameplay delivers white-knuckle thrills as you creep through damp mines while avoiding traps and guards. Each area plays out like a little puzzle as you seek out keys to access new areas. The game's context-sensitive controls demand a thoughtful, deliberate approach.

The screen configuration has been altered from the SNES version, now displaying your items along the right edge for easy access. While it's nice not having to switch to a separate item screen, the action is "squeezed" a bit to accommodate the new dimensions.

The rainy forest was my favorite stage in the SNES but it's a disappointment here. The trees may look photo-realistic but the "rain" is an eyesore and there's no thunder or lightning. Raindrops now blanket the entire screen, making it look as if it's raining inside of caves, and even underground!

Blackthorne not only supports the six-button controller but practically requires it. Playing with a three-button model requires you to press various button combinations to manipulate items. In a game where one slip-up can mean instant death, it's just not practical.

Blackthorne's potent mix of action and strategy will keep you on the edge of your seat. It's one of the best games for the 32X, and even contains a "snow world" level not available on the SNES. That said, for a game that's driven by atmosphere, I'd still give a slight nod to its SNES cousin. © Copyright 2023 The Video Game Critic.

Save mechanism: password
1 player 

Brutal Unleashed: Above the Claw
Grade: D
Publisher: Gametek (1995)
Posted: 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)
Posted: 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)
Posted: 2023/4/26
Rating: Teen (animated blood and violence, gore)

screenshotAppearing at the height of fighting-game mania, Cosmic Carnage promised cutting-edged, 32-bit galactic combat. Instead it came and went with little fanfare. I remember my friend Keith bringing this over my house, and after a single battle the rest of my friends had already lost interest.

Cosmic Carnage is set on a galactic cruiser where a bunch of alien beings are fighting over the last escape pod. One alien looks like a snake, while another resembles a humanoid praying mantis. The xenomorph could be from the movie Alien if it weren't rainbow-striped. There's also a gorilla, a space ninja, and a lady whose head is on fire (somebody should probably tell her).

You can tell the designers were dead-set on showing off the 32X color palette, as the characters are all rendered in a hodgepodge of tacky colors. In fairness, they are large and well-articulated. While most already have some sort of armor, the game allows you to outfit certain fighters with additional plates over their arms, legs, or torso. Between the clunky armor and gaudy colors, they look kind of ridiculous.

Carnage employs scaling a la Samurai Shodown (Neo Geo, 1993) but the zooming results in confusing pixelation. Sometimes you can't tell your opponent's head from his tail! More effective is the scaling of individual limbs. For example, during a spinning kick a leg might look like it's coming out of the TV. And when fighters get their armor knocked off, pieces will fly towards you.

The battles must take place in low-gravity, because they seem to unfold in slow motion. The controls are laggy and the attacks unsatisfying. Add in some atrocious collision detection and you're left with a game that's just barely playable. Health bars take forever to whittle away and the moves are dumb. For one special move I punch the floor, causing a geyser of water to spring up behind me. What is the point?!

The bland stages and unremarkable music convey the impression of a rushed title. There's no score; you just play until reaching an uneventful conclusion. The only thing Cosmic Carnage has going for it is blood! Everything you turn around someone is dismembered or having his head explode. This game throws a lot of ideas against the wall, but without quality gameplay none of them stick. © Copyright 2023 The Video Game Critic.

1 or 2 players 

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