Escape From Cyber City
Publisher: Philips (1992)
Here's a light gun shooter with no light gun support
and no instructions!
Good luck because you're gonna need it. The main menu does offer a "Cyber City Tour" providing a brief bit of background. Apparently a kid has been deemed mankind's best option to exterminate invading aliens and blow up their planet for good measure. Your adventure begins with an old guy handing you a key as you head into a post-apocalyptic city. Certain aspects of Cyber City are appealing. The animation consumes the entire screen and there's something enjoyable about the cheesy anime style. The action unfolds rapidly but sometimes you can pan left or right to select your path. The gameplay is purely aim-the-cursor-and-shoot. Fortunately your ammo is unlimited so you can spray bullets liberally. During a typical scene a bad guy will appear in a building window and you'll need to react in a split-second or lose a life. It's not humanly possible to drag that cursor across the screen to the right spot, so memorization is crucial. The problem is, bad guy locations are occasionally randomized, and even when you know where to shoot the clumsy cursor control makes it hard to aim. Once you get the patterns down you can make gradual progress. Yes, I tried using the CD-i light gun but it didn't work. Escape from Cyber City isn't terrible but it's certainly not good. At least the games tends to be brief, so if you hate it rest assured your suffering will be short-lived. © Copyright 2016 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 32400
Publisher: Hacking Factory (1997)
This sounds like an intriguing title until you realize it contains a paltry two
games! Still, I was convinced that these Defender and Space Invaders knock-offs would be a hit with my friends. In Guardian you fly across a horizontally-scrolling planet while saving people being abducted from aliens. The objects are large and well defined, and the background scenery incorporates mountains with scary faces carved into them. The action is fast and smooth, but the game lacks polish. Your ship slides around and there's a lag when trying to reverse direction. The collision detection is weak, and half the time when you die you have no idea what hit you. There are a lot of white dots bouncing around the screen to represent a variety of effects, including explosions and enemy missiles. If you feel like you're in constant danger, that's because you are!
The best way to make progress is to move slowly and keep an eye on the radar. The second game is a wacky Space Invaders knock-off with aliens that scream in anguish as you blast them. When you get on a roll, the constant shrieks and moans sound like a really bad adult movie. You need to keep moving because these invaders dump a [expletive]-load
of bombs. You'll be lucky to survive the first wave! The game ends with the message "Game Over Lad!" Who talks
like that? My friends were not impressed with either of these, but I liked the sharp graphics, digitized sound effects, and pumping techno soundtrack. The high difficulty results in quick games with a "one more time" quality. A high score table is displayed for Guardian but it is not saved. These games could never measure up to the classics they're based upon, but if you're in dire need of arcade action, these will scratch that itch. © Copyright 2012 The Video Game Critic.
Recommended variation: Invaders
Our high score: 1,300
Publisher: Hacking Factory (1997)
Like the first edition, Golden Oldies II offers a whopping two games
on a single disk! In this case we're talking about clones of Centipede and Breakout. "Bug Hunt" is a pretty intense shooter that also contains elements of Millipede, such as a dragonfly flying diagonally across the screen. The centipede tends to rush down at a breakneck pace thanks to poor mushroom placement on the left side of the screen. Your "cannon" looks more like the nipple end of a baby bottle, but I like how you can fire extremely rapidly just by holding down a button. The graphics are sharp but my friend Chris noted that the animation is minimal, with most objects (like the huge spider) being static images. It feels like a Flash game, and the explosive sound effects would be better suited for a WWII shooter. The second game is Breakout at its core, but its use of different screen configurations and power-ups make it more similar to Arkanoid. This is probably the best title in the Golden Oldies series. Controlling your paddle is no problem, and it's possible to take out two or three blocks at a time. Better yet, some blocks drop capsules that provide power-ups. These might unleash an extra ball, let you catch the ball, or even fire missiles directly at the wall. Juggling the balls and power-ups requires as much strategy as skill. The game also shows an odd sense of humor when you miss a ball and your paddle morphs into a skull, screams, and then blows up in a mushroom cloud. These games may lack the charm and fine-tuning of the originals, but they are still fun in their own way. © Copyright 2012 The Video Game Critic.
Recommended variation: Blockbuster
Our high score: 24,908
Great American Golf 2
Publisher: Xdra (1994)
I was hoping for an animated golf game along the lines of Hot Shots
(Playstation), but Great American Golf is more like a golf documentary. It contains a selection of video clips explaining different aspects of the sport including the origin of the game and its greatest players. The historical stuff is fairly interesting, and the "Minority Golf" segment is especially revealing. It admits to golf's racist past, and features a clip of a young Tiger Woods on the junior tour. The video accurately predicts that Tiger would make quite an impact in the pros. Great American Golf 2 also contains a trivia game for those who think they know everything about golf (casual fans and normal people need not apply). There's a golf game thrown in, but despite some nice graphics, it's barely playable. You have very little control of your shot, and can't really aim. Overall, Great American Golf 2 doesn't have enough substance to recommend. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Philips (1994)
Don't feel bad if you've never heard of this obscure Mario game (yes, Mario of Nintendo fame). Only available for the CD-i, Hotel Mario plays more like an old-school platform game than a traditional Mario romp. Each stage is a single screen in size, and the object is to close every door on the screen. Each "hotel" consists of five platforms, and elevators let you move between floors. Patrolling each platform are all sorts of familiar adversaries. Like any Mario game, there's plenty of jumping, and the doors provide additional strategy since you can hide behind them. That's critical, because there are some really annoying creatures (like the caterpillar) that you'll want to avoid altogether. Hotel Mario's graphics are decent but nothing spectacular, and each level is introduced with a low-budget cartoon cinematic. Upbeat music plays constantly throughout the game and it does get annoying before long. Hotel Mario is easy to learn but supremely difficult to master. Although there are only seven hotels, each has ten stages that all look and play pretty much the same. I felt like I was playing the same stages over and over. It's no classic, but if you're looking for arcade action for your CD-i, you could do far worse. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 37590
1 or 2 players
International Tennis Open
Publisher: Philips (1994)
The CD-i isn't known for its sports games but International Tennis Open is an eye-opener. Its photorealistic graphics and digitized audio far exceed anything else in the 16-bit era when it was released. Each court (grass, clay, hard) looks real and the tilted overhead viewing angle is just right. The digitized players are well animated and the ball bounces correctly. Crowd noise and ball sounds are digitized, and commentators even chime in on occasion. There's a bit of "dead time" between points but you can hit a button to expedite the process. I didn't recognize any of the players in this game (Victor Player? Robert Garett?) so I assume they're fictional. One issue with International Tennis is its controls. It's easy enough to volley the ball but hard to perform cross-court shots, lobs, or drop-shots. After consulting the manual I discovered the default "manual" mode is anything but
manual! If you want to influence your shots you have to set it to "fully
manual". Seriously? Even then I found it hard to angle shots. Your positioning is supposed to play a role but it's all pretty vague. That said, competing against a friend is fun, as is challenging the CPU in a tournament. When switching sides both players perform "get loose" moves that make it look like they're dancing with each other. My friend Scott isn't a big CD-i advocate but even he had to admit this is impressive. © Copyright 2016 The Video Game Critic.
Jack Sprite vs. the Crimson Ghost
Publisher: Oldergames (2003)
Publisher: Philips (1991)
Billed as "the ultimate electronic puzzle", Jigsaw lets you assemble old-fashioned puzzles by swapping "pieces" on the screen. And if you think that sounds boring, you're right! Jigsaw isn't as much a game as it is a prelude to a nap
. The puzzles are sharp, digitized photos that range from Mount Rushmore, to a surfer on a wave, to a cat's face, to a scientist working with test tubes. You can peruse the categories by subject, and even select the shape of the pieces. The pieces are fairly large, so none of the puzzles take more than a few minutes to solve. As you methodically put the pieces into place, relaxing light jazz plays in the background. Philips could have injected some excitement into Jigsaw by incorporating some kind of scoring system, but they didn't bother. Puzzle fanatics may find Jigsaw mildly appealing, but most gamers will regard it as a pointless exercise. © Copyright 2007 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Philips (1993)
Link: The Faces of Evil
Publisher: Philips (1993)
Some games are best left forgotten, and Link: The Faces of Evil is one such game. If Nintendo could turn back time, I suspect they'd bury every last copy of this ill-conceived hatchet job in some New Mexico landfill. Subtitled "The Humilation of Link" (by me), Faces begins with a heinous cartoon intro portraying him as the most whiney pansy you've ever seen. Between the cringe-worthy dialogue ("how about a kiss for luck?") and the flamboyant "acting", it's impossible to watch this thing with a straight face. The game itself is a marginal side-scroller, albeit with above-average graphics and sound. The music is well orchestrated, and the backgrounds are rendered in an old painting style. Sadly, the gameplay is marred by sluggish controls and cheap hits. Faces of Evil is less forgiving than its sister game (Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon), and there's too many unavoidable projectiles and deadly leaps. Certain creatures, like the baboons, seem mysteriously impervious to your sword. The dialogue makes no sense, so speaking to characters will just leave you hopelessly confused. And why is it that when you exit the game, credits start to roll?! What the hell? Compared to the NES Zelda games, Faces of Evil is an utter disgrace, and Link was fortunate to retain his manhood after this debacle. On any other system this is game would be considered "bottom of the barrel", but on a system so lacking of action titles, Faces of Evil seems almost respectable. © Copyright 2007 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Philips (1994)
This game reminds me of a Disney version of Hell
. You control a animated demon who battles monsters and solves puzzles in an fiery underground labyrinth. Litil Divil suffers from excessive cuteness (beginning with its name), but it's hard to knock the visuals. The cut-scenes are cartoon quality, and the game itself features large, nicely animated creatures. A well-orchestrated musical score also complements the action. Playing the game involves wandering hallways, avoiding traps, solving puzzles, fighting monsters, and jumping platforms. You can also purchase items with money you'll find lying all over the place. The items you buy are used automatically and are required to defeat many creatures. As a rule, buy everything you can. One room features a gigantic, hideous spider, but once armed with the bug spray, you can spray it until its head explodes (gross!). Your game is saved to memory in special save rooms, but there need to be more of these. Litil Divil excells in terms of eye candy, but its gameplay has problems. First off, the control is not what I would call responsive and the pacing is too slow. You'll absorb a lot
of cheap hits. The hallways all look the same after a while, and even with the auto-map feature, you'll either become lost or just plain tired of wandering aimlessly. Although the canned animated scenes are amusing at first, you can't skip them, and you'll become weary of watching them over and over. In the end, Litil Divil is a nice showcase title for the CD-i that comes up short in the gameplay department. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Philips (1998)