Sega 32X Reviews A-L

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

screenshotIf I could 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 the 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's a shame that the 32X wasn't up to the challenge. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.
1 or 2 players 

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 monsters 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 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 line without completely botching its timing. 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. Pixilated graphics. Shameless gore. Gratuitous colors. Sluggish, uninspired gameplay. Stupid 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 

Grade: B-
Publisher: Sega (1994)
Reviewed: 2011/12/27
Rating: Mature (animation violence, blood and gore)

screenshotThe more console versions I play of Doom, the more I appreciate this 32X edition. The bad news is, the screen is cropped, and that stone border looks cheesy as hell. I find it appalling that this is not reflected in the screenshots on the back of the box. Shame on you, Sega. The good news is, ten seconds into the game you won't even notice the limited visibility. This is arguably the most playable non-PC version of Doom of the pre-Playstation era. For the uninitiated, Doom is a hellish corridor shooter with demonic creatures, multi-tiered levels, and satisfying gore. The 32X graphics may lack the sharpness of the Jaguar version, but the silky smooth frame-rate more than compensates. The action moves along at a brisk pace and the controls are spot-on. You do have to use the C button to strafe however, since the Genesis controllers lack shoulder buttons. Still, I love how you can quickly and easily navigate each stage without even having to use the run button. The monsters are always facing you in this version, but frankly I wouldn't have noticed if no one had told me. The stereo effects are clear and despite what you may have heard, the bass-heavy soundtrack isn't bad at all. Looks aren't everything, and this 32X version of Doom excels in the fun department, and that's the bottom line. © Copyright 2011 The Video Game Critic.

Fahrenheit (CD)
Grade: D-
Publisher: Sega (1995)
Reviewed: 2003/7/2
Rating: Teen

screenshotThis full motion video firefighting game puts you in three separate fire scenarios: A burning house, hotel, and university. You get a first person point of view of the action, and the fire and special effects look pretty realistic. But instead of putting out the fire as you might expect, you just move through the buildings locating hazards and rescuing victims before time runs out. The gameplay is confusing and relies almost completely on trial and error. In one level you'll need to guess between three gas valves, and choosing the wrong one ends the game abruptly. The instruction manual contains maps of the buildings, and that's NOT a good sign for a video game. Navigating the house is bad enough, and most gamers will give up before they master the hotel stage, with its endless hallways that all look the same. The supporting cast of characters are downright irritating, like your chief who's always yelling at you, or the engineer named "Stinky" who loves to say inappropriate jokes when people's lives are at stake. Fahrenheit comes with both a regular Sega CD disk and a 32X version. The 32X version looks terrific, with vivid colors and full screen video. As for you regular Sega CD people, well, your eyes are in for a world of hurt. As far as audio goes, this game is surprisingly poor in that regard. The dialogue was poorly recorded and is hard to understand. There's also a theme song that plays during the title screen, and it's almost as embarrassing as the one in Night Trap. Check out these sizzling lyrics: "Feel the heat... of the fire". Fahrenheit is a lousy game, and only players fascinated by firefighting will be the least bit interested in it. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.
1 player 

Golf Magazine Presents 36 Great Holes
Grade: B+
Publisher: Sega (1994)
Reviewed: 2000/8/1

screenshotCheck it out - it's a good 32X game!! The complete title is "Golf Magazine Presents 36 Great Holes Starring Fred Couples". Geez, is that the longest video game title ever or what? Before I review this game, let me remind you that most Genesis golf games were played on flat courses. But this game actually has hills, valleys, and realistic physics! The holes are actually a collection taken from several courses, so you get a nice variety. There are even one or two "island" par threes! The game has 6 play modes including stroke, match, tournament, skins, shoot-out, and scramble. Loads of options include ball trails, replays, the ability to create golfers, and the option to save your stats! The game supports one to EIGHT players! Most importantly, it's fast-paced and easy to play. The digitized golfers are well animated. Control is good - maybe too good. It's tough to screw up unless you take a lot of risks. The courses are fairly wide open. There are a few problems. The ball is too small - it appears to be about one pixel big!! The computer always positions your golfer for you. Usually you're aimed at the hole or fairway, but occasionally it's a bit off. You can aim your shot, but the limited graphics (and views) make it difficult to know WHERE it's safe to hit it. This is a quiet game with the exception of some birds and an occasional comment from Fred. Overall, a nice 32X title. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.
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1 to 8 players 

Knuckles Chaotix
Grade: D+
Publisher: Sega (1995)
Reviewed: 2007/3/13

screenshotAttractive on the outside but bogged down by counter-intuitive gameplay, Knuckles Chaotix was one of Sega's more spectacular flops. 32X owners anticipating a Sonic-style platform game were bitterly disappointed with this failed experiment. In probably the most ill-advised design decision ever, Chaotix lets you control a pair of characters tethered to each other via a rubber-band-like force. On paper it opens up possibilities for team-oriented play, but in practice, it's a mess. Imagine Sonic with a ball and chain always pulling him the opposite direction, and you'll get an idea of what playing Knuckles Chaotix is like. The initial alarms are set off in stage one, where you're presented with an arduous, six-part training session that explains the basic moves. It takes a long time to get accustomed to the controls, but even when you do, characters often bounce around beyond your control. Speaking of characters, there are plenty to choose from, including Charmy Bee, Espio the Chameleon, Mighty the Armadillo, and Vector the Crocodile. Most of these zany creatures are currently residing in the "where are they now file." It doesn't really matter who you select, because any special abilities are negated by the whole tethering aspect. The stages in are awash with vibrant pastel colors (okay Sega, the 32X can display a lot of colors - we GET it!), but the layouts are actually quite dull. Most stages lack a distinctive theme, unless "bright colors and random shapes" counts. Only the Marina Madness stages are the least bit interesting, with their shimmering blue water and enormous white yachts. The whole "exploration" aspect that made the Sonic games so appealing is completely lost here thanks to the lousy controls and unimaginative stages. The 32X's scaling capabilities are used to some extent, but characters grow pixelated as they increase in size, which doesn't look so hot. You'll notice a few minor 32X effects here and there, but nothing spectacular. The low-light of the game has got to be the "bonus" rounds where you run through a floating hexagonal-shaped tube while collecting blue balls. The choppy animation and heinous controls are so bad that you'll kill yourself just to end the ordeal. A second type of bonus stage that lets you snag power-ups while floating through space isn't too bad. Knuckles Chaotix saves your progress automatically, and I like how the stages are selected at random. In addition, the music has that upbeat Sonic flair that Sega fans will find appealing, and quality of the stereo sound is also exceptional. Fascinating to look back on, Knuckles Chaotix may be the best-looking and best-sounding "bad" game I've ever played. © Copyright 2007 The Video Game Critic.
1 or 2 players 

Grade: D+
Publisher: Sega (1996)
Reviewed: 2008/3/26

screenshotFor a game that promised to be so unique and original, Kolibri is awfully tame. It's a hummingbird shooter for Pete's sake! Employing the innocent "Ecco the Dolphin" formula, Kolibri offers beautiful scenery and relaxing music but little else. The colorful layered backdrops resemble oil paintings, and the melodic soundtrack is heavy on the harps and flutes. Kolibri makes good use of the 32X color palette, but otherwise this might as well have been a Genesis title. In most stages your hummingbird can fly in all directions while eradicating harmful insects or collecting rings. Your objective is never explicitly stated however, so you'll need to figure it out for yourself. Likewise, there are no numbers or indicators of any kind on the screen. Perhaps Sega didn't want to obscure their lovely artwork, but it would be nice to have a score, or at least know how much health you have! Most enemies are small insects like bees, although you'll also encounter some amazing yellow-striped snakes. That toad might look friendly enough, but if you get too close he'll swallow you in an instant! Over the course of the game your bird will venture through forests, caves, and an ancient temple. If the game's scale is consistent, wouldn't this "ancient temple" be the size of a shoe box?? Sega, you are so busted! The simple early stages are moderately enjoyable, but later you'll need to perform tedious tasks like moving objects and flying against the wind (joy!). Kolibri is armed with a wide selection of weapons including burning rings, heat-seeking lasers, and pea-shots that explode into fireworks. But while these weapons may look great, they are seriously weak considering every foe can sustain numerous hits. In fact, some creatures appear completely unfazed. Floating bubbles house weapons and health, but their tiny icons are hard to discern. Each stage is introduced with a password, and the odd stage titles include "Deep Seeding", "Dark Cavity", "Penetration", "Eruption", and last but not least - "New Infection". Yeah, these programmers were some really lonely guys! Kolibri is only mildly fun with one player, and the two-player co-op is completely worthless. My friends hated this game, even calling it a "piece of [expletive]". Maybe so, but there aren't many original games like Kolibri for the 32X, and if you have a soft spot for the Ecco series, your reaction might be a little less visceral. © Copyright 2008 The Video Game Critic.
1or 2 players 

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