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

Sega 32X Reviews D-L

Darxide (Europe)
Grade: C
Publisher: Sega (1995)
Posted: 2021/5/8

screenshotIn order to complete my set of 32X reviews I had to resort to a reproduction cartridge. Desperate times call for desperate measures! Otherwise I would have never been able to experience the technical splendor of this rare 3D shooter, released only in Europe. Darxide begins with a launch sequence of an X-Wing fighter-styled ship featuring the sharpest polygon graphics I've seen on the 32X. If not for the stilted frame rate you might mistake this for a Playstation title.

The game feels like a first-person Asteroids as you break up angular rocks, destroy alien ships, and collect crystals to reconstitute your shield. I love how you hold down a button to engage rapidfire, and your crosshairs automatically lock on to and track targets to some degree. Impressive texture mapping and lighting effects make the massive rotating asteroids look ominous. The aliens look more like spinning tops. There is some slow-down but nothing objectionable.

The mission objections are a little hazy. The first stage instructs you to wipe out all asteroids and aliens, but in my experience those aliens are really optional. Stage two adds the element of rescuing stranded miners. I like that indicator along the right side that shows not only how many asteroids are remaining but how big they are. If only the status of other objectives were so clear. The rotating radar display at the top helps you locate targets in the area but I had trouble wrapping my brain around it.

The sharp backgrounds feature all sorts of bright planets and nebulas, although they can make it hard to see tiny floating miners screaming "Oxygen low! Rescue me!" with their British accents. Darxide exudes an atmosphere you don't normally find in a space shooter. Its edgy music and dark visuals come together to create an environment of hostility, isolation, and desperation. Kind of like working on the Ellen DeGeneres show.

While technically impressive Darxide does feel like a game that came out at the tail end of a systems' life cycle. The same ending landing sequence is presented whether you succeeded or failed your mission. I wouldn't know either way if the game didn't tell me! There's no score, rating, or password - only a few continues. I feel like this game was not completely finished but it's still fun to watch Darxide push the 32X hardware to its limits. © Copyright 2021 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 

Grade: B+
Publisher: Sega (1994)
Posted: 2023/1/8
Rating: Mature (animation violence, blood and gore)

screenshotAs one of the earliest first-person shooters, Doom feels decidedly raw, but that simplicity makes it all the more appealing. I love how you can effortlessly navigate each stage without a run button. You simply walk over items to collect weapons, ammo, armor, and colored keycards. There's no jumping and you don't even have to aim upward to hit enemies on high ledges. Each stage is ideal in size, and your goal is always just to get out alive!

The graphics are good but compromises were made for this 32X edition. Eerie lighting conveys atmosphere, but some wall textures look muddy. Your view is cropped, but you won't notice once you get "in the zone". Monsters are always facing you, but it would have never occurred to me if I wasn't told. The frame rate is quite smooth, but controls do become laggy when things get hectic. Unfortunately, these are the situations when you're frantically trying to escape!

During the early 90's blood was a valuable commodity in video games. Parents hated it so kids loved it! Watching enemies spit up blood makes their death animations all the more satisfying. And when you ignite a barrel, the bloody guts of a nearby imps splatter all over the wall, accompanied by a gross sound effect.

Another thing I love about Doom is its gradual ramping difficulty. Think the imps are bad? Check out these demons! Think it's pretty cool to take out two foes with a single shotgun blast? Wait until you get a chance to mow them down with a chaingun! This game just keeps upping the ante.

The music is sparse at times but conveys the proper sense of urgency. Unnerving snarling and growling (in stereo) gives the impression that monsters are breathing down your neck! Stages become more complex as you progress, but getting lost is not an issue since an overhead map is available at the press of a button. There's no password feature, but you can start on any one of the first 15 stages.

The default skill level "hurt me plenty" is challenging enough, and when you die you restart the current stage stripped of weapons and armor, making it even harder. This is when you realize the beauty of the game, as you must painstakingly ration your items while taking calculated risks, keeping a wary eye on your health. Far more than blood and guts, Doom is a primal, often terrifying exercise in survival. © Copyright 2023 The Video Game Critic.

Fahrenheit (CD)
Grade: D-
Publisher: Sega (1995)
Posted: 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)
Posted: 2000/8/1

screenshotNow this is 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 offers 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 only 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 quality 32X title. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.

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1 to 8 players 

Knuckles Chaotix
Grade: D+
Publisher: Sega (1995)
Posted: 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 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 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)
Posted: 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, Moby Games, IQGamer