Your firepower is so potent that a single hit will cause fighter ships to veer off and explode. The larger ships must be destroyed polygon-by-polygon, although it's possible to launch a well-placed "ultra shot" to set off a chain reaction. The satisfying explosions are punctuated with flames and thunderous explosions. You can control one of two ships, and each has its own unique, vertigo-inducing launch sequence. The second ship (Feather 2) offers an "auto-pilot" option which provides an entirely different style of gameplay, as you simply aim crosshairs and shoot while your ship moves in a predetermined path. It's a bit shallow but has a nice arcade flavor.
Shadow Squadron's controls feel smooth and responsive, and red indicators make it easy to locate targets in the distance. Unfortunately, the control scheme is not clearly explained in the manual, and the heads-up displays (unique to each ship) are equally confusing. The battles are a bit slow and not particularly intense, but they're still enjoyable and satisfying to win. An instant replay mode allows you to view a completed mission from various angles. Considering its solid gameplay and cutting-edge graphics, it's surprising that Shadow Squadron always managed to remain under the radar of most gamers. © Copyright 2007 The Video Game Critic.
Although you can move side-to-side, your only opportunities to score happen when your opponent lunges a certain way. React properly and a video kicks in of you taking the ball hard to the hoop. If you don't see an opening, you'll want to settle for a jump shot before the 10 second clock runs out. Playing defense is tougher, because steal opportunities are few and far between. The first player to score seven points wins, and you score one point per basket. The CPU is tough and exceedingly cheap.
There's plenty of trash talking throughout the game, but most of it is really dumb. The graphics are terrific, with good definition and no lag time. Watching the same video clips over and over does wear thin after a while though, and although you're supposed to be playing on a city basketball court, it's clearly just an indoor sound stage.
Likewise the "streetwise" players look more like a bunch of perpetrators, and the white actors look terribly out of place. I have to admit that the short haired blonde with the tight white dress is incredibly hot though. The action is spread over four CDs, which seems like a good thing at first, but changing disks is a real pain in the ass. I will admit that Slam City did keep me occupied for a little while, but the game should probably be called Scottie Pippen's Airball. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.
The action is chaotic, but the smooth scaling allows you to anticipate incoming missiles and weave around marble pillars. The sense of speed is good, and you can tell the game uses the same underlying engine as After Burner. The controls are responsive and you can hold in the fire button for constant fire (although tapping lets you unload more shots). When you shoot a UFO it immediately takes a nose-dive straight into the ground, which looks kind of odd. The explosions are completely over-the-top, and I find it amusing how trees and vegetation often go up in mushroom clouds!
Some of the enemies are hard to make out. Are those clouds I'm shooting in the first stage or floating rocks? In one of the later stages there are a lot of big colorful mushrooms that tend to obstruct your vision. Each stage concludes with an obligatory boss, and they turn red to indicate damage just like any good boss should. The familiar soundtrack will please fans of the series and the voice samples are clear. This appears to be a very close port of the arcade game, so Space Harrier fans should be satisfied - at long last. © Copyright 2011 The Video Game Critic.
Spider-Man is nicely animated as he swings through the air, climbs walls, and beats up green dudes in purple pants. I like how he can punch in any direction while sticking to a surface, making short work of any approaching drones. The game is moderately fun but the controls could be better. I found myself "sticking" not only to ceilings and walls, but also dangerous things like giant fans and electrified transformers.
The first stage takes place on New York City rooftops, but while Spidey can swing freely he'll inexplicably die if he swoops too low. The scenery is so repetitive you'll think you're moving in circles. At the end of each stage you'll face an obscure villain like Dragonman, Thermite, or The Eel. Making a special cameo appearance is DareDevil, whom Spider-Man can call upon to apply a quick strike. Most stages tend to take place in industrial environments and the layered backdrops look attractive. I especially like that green laser netting stretching across the night sky.
The soundtrack has that distinctive metallic sound but the sound effects could use more punch. The difficulty is reasonable except for the fact that dying sends you all the way back to the beginning of the stage. Web of Fire is an underachiever. Where is my score? Where is the password feature? I expected more, but as one of the few big names in the sparse 32X library, Spider-Man: Web of Fire still manages to be a stand-out title. © Copyright 2020 The Video Game Critic.
At heart, this is a glorified Star Raiders clone with better graphics but far worse gameplay. You have access to layers of menus with all sorts of data and instrumentation, but only a geek versed in Star Trek techno-babble could digest any of this garbage. The first person shooting "action" is painfully dull. The enemy ships are fully 3D, but their movements are sluggish and the AI is idiotic.
Being an academic environment, there's also an opportunity to meet and socialize with your fellow space cadets. Here I stumbled upon the single redeeming feature of the game: a pool table! That right, you can challenge classmates to a game of pool, which is by far the highlight of this cartridge. The pool balls are huge but they rotate nicely and the game is easy to play. As you can deduce, Starfleet Academy really isn't much of a game. It's probably the worst 32X title I've come across. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.
The sense of scale is grand as you dogfight tie fighters in airfields patrolled by Star Destroyers. Those massive ships aren't just window dressing either! You can actually buzz them at your own peril! There's a button to toggle between a first and third-person view, but I much prefer being in the pilot seat.
Most missions boil down to neutralizing a certain number of tie fighters, typically 20 or 30. It helps that there's a nice visual counter in the center of the screen tracking your progress. I love that distinctive sound of tie fighters zooming by, and it's cool how their panels fly off when you blast them. In addition to your cannon, you can also unleash heat-seeking torpedoes once an enemy is locked in.
Technical problems do encroach on the fun, particularly when you attempt to venture inside of a Super Star Destroyer. The erratic frame rate makes it hard to spot and avoid hazards. Worse yet, the controls feel laggy, causing you to ping-pong between trench walls while trying to stay on course. Playing co-op mode helps, effectively doubling your firepower while allowing the pilot to focus on navigation.
But it's the details that make Star Wars Arcade such a treat. A digitized Admiral Akbar briefs you on each mission. When your shield takes a hit, Artoo unleashes that distinctive electronic "scream". And of course there's the inspiring Star Wars musical score. This game really captures the spirit of the original film, at least when the hardware is keeping up. © Copyright 2023 The Video Game Critic.
The fighting action is as incomprehensible as the storyline. At least the screen is formatted better this time. Both health meters are across from each other at the bottom, which makes more sense than the Sega CD version with all its random meters and symbols.
Instead of enhancing the gameplay the improved video accentuates just how sorry Supreme Warrior is. It's so hard to land a punch or kick. You can't anticipate your opponent's movements because the camera is all over the place. I tried my best to take my cues from the indicators flashed on the screen. When that didn't work, I tried a button-mashing approach - to no avail. Maybe wearing a blindfold might help? It certainly can't hurt.
Even when I'd occasionally win a match it never brought a feeling of accomplishment. The controls are just too sloppy and inexact. I try to avoid the term "unplayable" when I review games, but in the case of Supreme Warrior I think the shoe fits. © Copyright 2021 The Video Game Critic.
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Screen shots courtesy of Shinforce, Video Game Museum, Mega CD Library, Moby Games, IQGamer