Publisher: Philips (1993)
Mad Dog McCree has decent production values but horrific gameplay. It's a light gun game set in a town in the wild west. Everything's presented in full motion video, and the acting isn't as bad as you might expect. At least the scenery and props look realistic enough. The game has easy-to-navigate menus to calibrate your gun, select a skill level, or load an old game. You can even choose the order of the stages. But once the action begins, you'll do nothing but die until you memorize where the outlaws are going to pop up. The gun control is terribly unresponsive. The target cursor lags badly behind where you point the gun - not a good sign for a game that demands quick reflexes. Mad Dog McCree's difficulty is off the charts. If a bad guy simple gets a shot off, you're instantly dead. On the other hand, your enemies can survive several perfectly aimed shots. Sometimes outlaws hide in places where they aren't even visible
- until they shoot you dead! What's worse is how you can't skip the video segments that accompany each stage. At the beginning of every
game you have to endure a lengthy video clip of an old man getting shot and dying one of those long, overly-dramatic death routines. Enough already! Mad Dog McCree is complete, unadulterated torture. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Philips (1994)
This game's title screen boasts flashy graphics and a pumping soundtrack that really sends the wrong message! Mega Maze is just an understated series of brain-teasing puzzles solved in near-silence. The idea is to roll a blue marble through an intricate maze, navigating your way to the marked exit while avoiding purple marbles. "Tilting" the board rolls your marble but the purple marbles are subject to the same forces. Your obvious strategy is to box those purple ones into corners where they won't get in your way. The problem is, advanced mazes require you to manipulate the purple marbles to open doors and trigger pressure pads to facilitate your escape. The mazes are thoughtfully designed and there are 165 mind-bending configurations in all. Breaking the silence during play are sporadic sound effects like the bird screech of two purple balls colliding and the reverberating gong that plays when you reach the exit. After successfully completing a maze your time is displayed along with a four-digit passcode. As a game, Mega Maze falls flat despite its good intentions. If you play games to give your mind a rest
, this gets old in a hurry. If you enjoy cerebral games however feel free to bump up the grade by a letter. © Copyright 2015 The Video Game Critic.
Recommended variation: 8
Our high score: 6185
Save mechanism: Password
Publisher: Philips (1995)
Philips really had a knack for making games that were completely devoid of fun. After wincing through this game's cheesy animated intro, Merlin's Apprentice reveals itself to be a loosely knit collection of puzzles. Unfortunately, these are the kind of puzzles that require you to use your brain
, and that's a shame. Five types of mini-games are available, each with a selectable skill level. Being the conceited, know-it-all bastard that I am, I immediately cranked up all of the difficulty levels to "expert", and it took all of five minutes for me to set them back to "easy". Some mini-games require you to rearrange parts of the screen like a puzzle, and others force you to memorize various sequences (like that annoying Simon game except with graphics). Others simply involve "shooting" falling leaves by aiming a cursor and pressing the button. The one type of game I did
find somewhat interesting involves decrypting codes engraved on a stone tablet by substituting letters for symbols. These puzzles have a certain "Wheel of Fortune" vibe, and they're pretty tough. If you're an intellectual gamer, you may enjoy the way Merlin's Apprentice taxes your cranium. But if you're like me and prefer to avoid
using your brain when playing games, avoid this at all costs. © Copyright 2007 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Philips (1994)
It's no Streets of Rage
(Genesis, 1991), but this side-scrolling brawler isn't half bad. According to the Mutant Rampage background story, in the year 2068 the earth will lie in ruin and be overrun by mutated animal/human hybrids. Well hell, I
could have told you that! Du-uh!
You battle the horde with a three-man team called "the naturals", featuring a black guy (Daemon Stone), a funky white chick (Tory Swift), and a muscle-bound dude (Rack Saxxon). You kick and punch your way through side-scrolling stages using one character at a time, but you can switch characters at designated "tag pads". It's fun, and the first three stages (Los Angeles, Rome, Beijing) can be played in any order. The graphics are higher in resolution than anything you'll find on the Genesis or SNES, but the disaster backdrops are unspectacular. They pack enough detail but lack the layers
that made the scenery in Street of Rage so interesting. Your enemies are a truly bizarre assortment of freaks, many with human bodies and animal heads. Some are a bit disturbing (like those weird Mantis women), but some are more comical (like the fat dude who farts and tosses boogers). The enemies get repetitive, and the end-of-stage boss encounters (if you can even call them that) are lackluster. The controls are a little stiff, but the three-button scheme offers a nice selection of kicks, punches, and special attacks. There are occasional weapons (like swords, knives, and pipes), but they're really no more effective than a normal punch (although they do extend your reach). There's not much blood, and the violence is pretty mild in general. An area where Mutant Rampage falters badly is the audio department. Everything you hit makes a dull "thud" sound, including slashes with a sword! The soundtrack is uneven, and while I enjoyed some of the synthesized tunes, the more chaotic songs gave me a headache. A commentator chimes in between stages with a Wolf-man Jack voice, and he's really irritating ("ooooooooooww! That had to hurt!") There's no score in Mutant Rampage - you either finish it or you don't. That's a problem, considering the ten stages are pretty lengthy. A two-player mode would have been nice. Still, a high-resolution, inexpensive fighter like this is something CD-i owners will probably want to investigate. © Copyright 2009 The Video Game Critic.
Mystic Midway Phantom Express
Publisher: Philips (1993)
Here's a game that tries to be both irritating AND depressing, and succeeds on both counts. Phantom Express is a virtual amusement park ride that takes you through the various stages of life, including infancy, childhood, the teenage years, marriage, midlife, old age, etc. This bizarre and sobering game is played from a first-person point of view. Each stage begins with some nice looking roller-coaster ride eye candy, but the real action takes place in dark tunnels that flash all kinds of strange images in an attempt to evoke disturbing situations or bad memories. Depending on the stage, you might see rattles, report cards, teachers, bosses, divorce papers, or hearing aids. The shallow gameplay consists of moving a cursor around and "shooting" things for points. The control and collision detection are lousy, but the game is challenging enough. Ultra-annoying sound effects include people nagging you and saying all kinds of mean spirited things. Is this what the early CD games were really all about? Trying to make you feel bad? What a downer. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.
Mystic Midway Rest In Pieces
Publisher: Philips (1992)
In a complete departure from that other horrible
Mystic Midway game (Phantom Express), Rest In Pieces is an old-fashioned shooting gallery where you aim at skulls, bugs, ghosts, and other creeps that pop up at random intervals. The only thing Rest In Pieces has in common with Phantom Express is the annoying fat guy who appears between stages to remind you how bad you're doing. The gameplay is simple as can be. You move a gun across the bottom of the screen, shooting at multiple tiers of targets. A hit usually results in a creepy animation and sound effect. For example, if you shoot the pirate skull he'll say something like "Shiver me timbers!". Sometimes gravestones move across the bottom of the screen to block you shots. Each stage requires a certain score to advance, and the stages are wildly uneven in terms of difficulty. Rest In Pieces is a nice break from the full motion video games that litter the CD-i's library, but it's still not particularly addicting. I was hoping for some eerie backgrounds but there's really not much to see, and the off-key carnival music makes you want to turn down the volume. Rest in Pieces is not bad but not good either. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Philips (1994)
Here's a surprise - a CD-i football game with players you can actually control! It's no Madden, but all things considered, Hall of Fame is respectable. You choose from forty of the best NFL teams of all time, or from "dream teams" containing Hall of Fame players. There's an impressive number of options including a coaching mode, variable weather conditions, audibles, and even league play. The action is certainly Madden-inspired although not nearly as polished. The overhead view of the field looks impressive with sharp, well-defined hash marks and players. Although the players look realistic, they move in a slow and choppy manner. The ball movement is equally jerky and is especially hard to follow during pass plays. The tackles look pretty cool though. Bone crunching sound effects and clear voices complement the action, but the crowd is strangely silent. There's no play-by-play, but text is displayed after each play describing the action. No, you won't be able to hit a button fast enough to skip through that! When running the ball, two buttons are used to dive and "elude tackle" (stiff arm, spin, etc.) It's tough to get your running game going because the tackles are attracted to you like magnets. During pass plays, windows are used to view the receivers. It looks fine, but the buttons aren't responsive, so it takes a while to get the ball off. The field goals feature a nifty "behind the kicker" view, but I could have sworn I saw a kick called "good" that clearly missed. Hall of Fame also features bonus informative materials about many Hall of Fame players. Unfortunately, when I tried to read about Johnny Unitas, the program responded with, "Due to contractual obligations, this player cannot appear in the game." Huh? The guy hasn't played for 40 years, what kind of contract could he have?! For everything Hall of Fame does right, it seems to do something else wrong. It's not a great game by any stretch, but at least it looks good, and is definitely playable. I suppose that's more than can be said for most CD-i titles. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.
NFL Instant Replay
Publisher: Philips (1994)
This is hands-down the best
game I've ever played on the CD-i, mainly because it plays to the system's strength: Full screen video. Instant Replay contains over 300 video clips of individual football plays, each of which could have several possible outcomes. Pat Sumerall provides expert analysis as the play unfolds, and afterwards you play referee and choose between four possible options. You are awarded points not only for selecting the correct answer, but also for selecting it as fast as possible. If you're a football nut, you will absolutely love
this game. NFL Instant Replay is played in "rounds" modeled after the real football season. The regular season round consists of 16 rounds, and if you survive that, you'll enter the playoff rounds, and then perhaps the Super Bowl. The user interface is simple and the game has virtually no lag time. The full screen video footage looks terrific and provides plenty of hard-hitting NFL action. Most of the regular season plays are easy to judge if you're a football fan, but even die-hards will be hard pressed to make it past the playoff round. The game can be played with one or two players. Very, very cool. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: SDZ 394
1 or 2 players
Publisher: Philips (1993)
This might as well be called "Name The Tune That Your Parents Listened To", because despite being less than ten years old, it seems positively archaic! The cheesy game show format is hosted by a Donny Osmond look-alike named Bob Green. Although the game has several different rounds, most involve listening to some lame elevator music and guessing what song it's supposed to be. The fact that the music is NOT original is a major
turn-off, and the "tunes" sound only vaguely like the originals. While Name That Tune claims to contain "pop classics from the 50's to the 90's", there weren't many songs that I recognized. There are plenty of obscure bands mentioned like "Free" and "Tony Joe White". If you recognize songs like "Put Your Hand In the Hand", then maybe this game is for you. Perhaps the oddest part is how you're supposed to name the song out loud
, and then tell the game if you were right or wrong. Since when do video games use the honor
system?! The first time I played the game, I got absolutely nothing right, and it was hilarious to hear Bob say "It's time to check those scores!", and subsequently stare at that big zero in the middle of the screen. Better yet, when I advanced to the bonus round (by default), he exclaimed "You've earned a chance to score even MORE points!". More than zero, Bob? Wow. Like any game show, there's too much talk and not enough action. You'll get more enjoyment out of making fun of this game that actually playing it. It serves its purpose, but Name That Tune should be filed under 'C' for Cheesy. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.
Palm Springs Open
Publisher: Philips (1991)
I had high hopes for this golf game, but despite its gorgeous digitized graphics, Palm Springs Open let me down. The eighteen-hole course is wonderfully photogenic, consisting of holes culled from several famous courses. The digitized golfers are nicely animated and even react appropriately to their shots. A two-man commentary team provides insightful and often humorous comments. If only the gameplay could live up to the presentation! But alas, this game is too slow and tedious. To set up your shot, you have to switch between THREE screens: the main view, the map (which provides the obligatory wind information), and the club selection screen. The controls that let you toggle between screens are slow, clunky, and non-responsive. Adding insult to injury, you can't even do anything until the commentators stop talking! Philips should have consolidated the screens and perhaps made use of more than one button! Once your shot is finally
set up, it's hard to hit the ball without a pronounced hook or slice. I had a tough time judging my shots, even after repeated plays. And even if you mastered this game, it will still take forever to play thanks to the frequent pauses and load times. Palm Springs Open is a sharp-looking game, but the slow pace and frustrating interface ruin the fun. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Oldergames (2003)
For a system that's badly lacking in arcade-style titles, here is a welcome new addition to the CD-i library. An intergalactic pinball game, Plunderball features multiple vertically-scrolling tables, each with several sets of flippers. The large metallic ball moves fast, and although the action does get choppy at times, the physics is respectable. Each section of a table contains easy-to-see targets and free-moving objects to aim for. The graphics are sharply detailed, and the crystal clear sound effects are equally impressive. Plunderball's main flaw is how it unwisely attempts to incorporate a convoluted background story in the form of short video clips that play when the ball gets "trapped" in certain spots. The clips are supposed to shed light on the table objectives, but it's rarely obvious how they correspond to the action on the table. The actors in the clips give a spirited performance, but the cheap-looking props and sparse backgrounds make them look downright silly. After watching a few of these, you'll quickly learn to hit a button to skip them. Another issue is the game's easy difficulty level. My very first game ran well over a half and hour, thanks to an excessive number of bonus balls and numerous "safety nets". Plunderball is in dire need of an options screen to let you crank up the difficulty and turn off those videos. As it is, Plunderball is flawed but not too shabby. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 1203800
1 to 4 players
Publisher: Philips (1992)
Philip's attempt at an innovative baseball game looks promising off the bat, but it sails foul - way foul! In theory, Power Hitter puts you in the batters box against ace pitchers Dave Stewart and Dennis Eckersley. The game is all batting (no defense), and the players on each team are fictional. Before each pitch
you must contend with time-consuming "batter strategy" and "pitch guess" screens. After that, you have a first-person view of the digitized player pitching to you. As the ball zooms in, timing is critical to swing and put the ball in play. I hit dozens of foul balls before I realized you have to swing VERY early in order to get a legitimate hit. Even with this knowledge, I continued to hit fouls constantly. In the rare occurrence that a ball is put into play
, you watch the action automatically played out in a series of short video clips, which aren't bad. The commentary is terrible however, often bordering on embarrassing. Power Hitter has a few novel features like the ability to adjust your stance or initiate a suicide squeeze, but I wish the programmers had concentrated on the basic gameplay instead. Power Hitter is way slow and tedious, and the terrible controls make you feel more like a bored spectator than a player. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.