Publisher: Ubisoft (2007)
I was pretty stoked about this new Ninja Turtle game with its slick, old-school look reminiscent of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time
(SNES, 1992). Sadly, Ubisoft got the graphics right but screwed up the gameplay. TMNT is a side-scrolling beat-em-up where your martial arts-trained turtle is pitted against an endless parade of street thugs and silver-plated ninjas. Having grown up with Double Dragon
(NES, 1988) and Streets of Rage
(Genesis, 1991), I'm accustomed to a certain degree of repetition in my fighting games. But there's a thin line between repetition and tedium, and Ubisoft just doesn't know when to say "when". After defeating a group of creeps in a certain location, it would be nice to move on to the next area. But no, the game keeps dropping more and more thugs out of the sky - usually five at a time! Enough already! TMNT's basic gameplay isn't bad, as you slug, jump-kick, and sweep-kick you opponents into submission. The weapons are effective as well, including bats, swords, and throwing stars. The shoulder buttons are used to call in one of the other three turtles to apply a quick hit when you're in a bind. The urban environments look great, and you can interact with the obligatory crates and exploding barrels. Between stages you can shop for items and power-ups. TMNT held my attention for a while, but the never-ending thugs and frustrating bosses forced me to throw in the towel before getting too far. It's a shame, because TMNT could have been a winner if Ubisoft didn't emphasize game length
. Sound familiar? © Copyright 2007 The Video Game Critic.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Publisher: Konami (2003)
These butt-kicking amphibians may be making a comeback, but Konami has forgotten how to make a decent Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle (TMNT) game! Sure, this portable edition is better than its nauseating Xbox counterpart, but that's not saying much. What's really disheartening is the fact that Konami produced so many entertaining TMNT games in the 90's for the NES and SNES. This one can't hold a candle to any of those. For some reason, this game feels even more 2D
that the old 8-bit versions! Each turtle has four unique stages, and most amount to button-mashing brawls against generic ninjas and thugs who appear in puffs of smoke. Thanks to the overly-restrictive movement and a shortage of moves, these fights are arduous and boring. I couldn't wait for each one to end. The game occasionally redeems itself with some interesting racing and shooting stages, but these hardly compensate for the repetitive fighting action. TMNT saves your progress and high scores, which would be a great feature if only the game was any good. Konami needs to go back and study their old TMNT games like The Manhattan Project (NES) and Turtles In Time (SNES), so they can remember how to make a fun game. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Namco (2001)
The Tekken series once ruled the realm of fighting games, but lately it has fallen on hard times. I wasn't expecting much from Tekken Advance, but this game earned my respect. It's a quality fighter that retains the classic Tekken style despite its 2D graphics. Actually, it's very similar to Mortal Kombat for the Game Boy Advanced, but its gameplay is less complicated. The ten familiar characters are large and slightly pixilated, but they move well and can execute most of their classic attacks. The matches tend to be short in duration, thanks to devastating combos that will eat up huge chunks of your life meter. Successful attacks are depicted by red "sparks", and blocks are rendered in blue. Tapping the directional button down lets you sidestep, and the R button is used to throw. When a throw is executed, you see a pixilated "close-up" of the move, but it's not the least bit impressive. Tekken Advance is big on "juggling" attacks (getting in extra hits before your opponent can hit the ground), but personally I think they're pretty cheesy. Button mashing will get you through the first few rounds, but once the CPU starts to get serious, you'd better know what you're doing. A command list is available in the pause menu, and the game tracks statistics on wins, character usage, etc. The background scenery varies from generic factories to gorgeous snow scenes, and better-than-average techno music helps keep the intensity high. Tekken Advance is a respectable fighter that's easy to play but hard to master. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.
The Santa Clause 3
Publisher: Disney (2006)
I don't think I've ever played a Christmas game quite as Christmasy as The Santa Clause 3. I stumbled upon this on Amazon, thought it would make a nice addition to my Christmas game collection, and I was right! From the outset the game won me over with its enchanting winter scenery featuring blowing snow, snow-covered evergreens, and quaint villages decorated in Christmas lights. The soundtrack may not contain any traditional Christmas music, but its festive melodies are just as good. For the first half of the game you play Santa, leaping between frosty platforms, collecting milk and cookies, fighting snowmen, and solving not-so-challenging puzzles. Have you ever noticed that snowmen are increasingly being portrayed in the media as psychotic creatures?
The platform action has all the standard elements like spikes, falling ice cycles, and crumbling platforms. And if you think you suck at jumping between iced-over platforms, don't worry, because you'll be an expert
by the time you're done playing this! Tempering the difficulty is Santa's ability to double-jump and float down gently. Between stages digitized stills are displayed that follow the story from the film. The stages are short and sweet, but you always have the option to return to completed stages to search for hidden items that unlock new features. The one aspect I didn't like is fighting those annoying snowmen who take forever to kill. There are two bonus stages. In one you are an elf scrambling to locate toy parts in a factory. Sadly this elf is less agile than Santa and prone to dying a horrible death in the gears of a toy-making machine. A second bonus stage puts you in Santa's sled, dropping presents onto houses at night. For the second half of the game you are Scott Calvin (Tim Allen) stripped of his Santa magic. You can no longer glide but you can throw snowballs, so that's something. Just beware of green security guards who are fatal to touch! The game saves your progress automatically. The Santa Clause 3 is an unexpected surprise, and if you're looking for some holiday cheer this lighthearted platformer will not let you down. © Copyright 2015 The Video Game Critic.
Tiger Woods PGA Tour Golf
Publisher: Electronic Arts (2002)
Tiger Woods has "old-school" written all over it - and coming from me, that's definitely a complement! With its fast-paced gameplay and simple controls, I found this infinitely more enjoyable than those plodding PS2 golf games with their constant load screens and touchy analog swing mechanisms. This portable version employs an old-fashioned three-press swing meter, but you'll need to be quick on the trigger because this meter moves fast
. Tiger Woods is clearly designed for those who want a quick fix. After a long drive, the ball tends to stop quickly instead of rolling forever - not realistic but certainly a welcome time-saver! Applying topspin or backspin is simple, and the putting game is refreshingly straightforward. Tiger Wood's graphics sport a digitized are slightly blurry, so you'll rely heavily on the overhead view when aiming your shots. After playing PGA Tour for a while, it dawned on me that all the holes look very similar. Then I realized that there were no trees except for those in the distant background! That's kind of lame. Another drawback is how you only get one course
. Playing modes include single player, multi-link, or a lame multi-player "pass around" (as if!). Despite its flaws, Tiger Woods PGA Golf is a nice throwback to a time when golf games were less realistic but more fun. © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.
Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas: The Pumpkin King
Publisher: Buena Vista (2005)
One thing that bothered me about the Nightmare Before Christmas movie was the awkward mixing of Christmas and Halloween themes. The two holidays couldn't be any more different! Fortunately this video game adaption sticks to the Halloween stuff, and does it right. This is one of the best pure Halloween titles I've played. The gothic scenery features gnarled trees, wrought iron gates, and gorgeous orange sunsets. Instead of a series of stages, you traverse a sprawling map of connected areas. There's a nice sense of progression as you unlock new areas, each with their own distinctive eye candy and vibrant color schemes. The soundtrack has an appropriately eerie quality too. In terms of gameplay Nightmare Before Christmas is a pretty basic platformer. That may not sound like a ringing endorsement, but you'd be surprised how often these kind of games get screwed up! This one sticks to the script and plays beautifully. Our lanky hero Jack doesn't stand out like most characters (he looks like a stick figure), but he's well animated with long arms that allow him to easily grab ledges and pull himself up. The villains tend to be of the insect variety, and they can be hard to make out on the small screen. Playing this on the GameCube (via the Game Boy player) allowed me to appreciate a lot more of the graphic detail. Jack can toggle between several effective weapons like a gas gun, a boomerang, and a pumpkin bomb. Defeated enemies drop fish bones that replenish Jack's health. Occasionally you'll find an electric chair that fully recharges his health, and there's usually a scarecrow save point next to it. You'll uncover mini-games, secret items, and unlockable bonus features. Minor faults include misleading arrow signs, respawning enemies, and too many electrical traps. Otherwise Nightmare Before Christmas is pretty much everything you could ask for in a Halloween game. As an added treat, the lenticular packaging makes for an amazing box cover. © Copyright 2013 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Ubi Soft (2002)
It's quite a surprise to see Tomb Raider on the Game Boy Advance. This 3D adventure series is best known for its buxom heroine and spacious underground temples. I'm impressed with how Ubi Soft handled this scaled-down version of Tomb Raider. Lara herself is nicely drawn and fluidly animated. She can jump, hang from ledges, pull levers, and shoot her twin pistols much like she does in the console games. The control is dead-on, and I could jump between platforms with ease. Though not rendered in 3D, the scenery is carefully drawn and shadowed to give it a 3D appearance, allowing you to make out protruding ledges and cliffs (with some difficulty). Although the level of detail is exemplary, there's not much variation within each level, so it all starts looking the same after a while. And that's where the game falters - there's not enough variety. One incentive in the original game was to see what sort of monsters and fantastic scenery lay ahead, but you don't get that kind of visual gratification from this game. Enemies include wolves, skeletons and wizards, but for some reason you can't shoot them unless they're on the same platform as you, which is aggravating. I thought this Tomb Raider was pretty cool at first, but eventually I tired of its limited, repetitive action. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Nintendo (2003)
Being the jaded gamer that I am, it's rare that I stumble upon a title that I become genuinely excited about. Such a game is the eccentric and inventive Wario Ware Inc. Basically a collection of mini-games loosely tied together by a silly cartoon storyline, Ware is unlike anything else I've ever played. When I say these games are short, we're talking about 3 seconds each - and in rapid succession! The key is to recognize what you need to do right away. Some are very obvious, like blasting a space ship, catching a ball, or shooting a basketball. Others are simple puzzles, never requiring more than one button. Most people will be able to "win" on the first attempt, but even when you lose, you'll think to yourself, "Oh, now
I know what to do". Some games are completely off-the-wall, like the one where you have to rapidly tap a button to make a princess sniff dripping snot back up into her nose! More than a few tend to be inspired by old-school 2D games including Donkey Kong, Zelda, and Metroid. Wario Ware will appeal to gamers of all ages, but I think people with a long history of gaming will appreciate it most. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.
Wario Ware Twisted
Publisher: Nintendo (2005)
Like the original Wario Ware, Twisted offers a fascinating selection of whimsical mini-games presented in rapid-fire succession. What this edition adds is a "tilt sensor" built into its oversized cartridge. It's hard to imagine many applications for this, but as usual, Nintendo has managed to come up with a ton
of innovative and off-the-wall ideas. You'll guide a cat across a plank, kick a ball, shave a face, rotate a bow and arrow, pick food from teeth, and rotate a Ferris wheel - just to name a few. The tilt mechanism is remarkably responsive and a lot of fun to use. A wacky soundtrack accompanies the bizarre hodgepodge of games, creating a very unique and oddly compelling experience. On the downside, it's not always evident whether you should tilt the thing left or right, so experimentation is often required. Like the original game, stages are tied together with odd cartoon intermissions which would be downright irritating if they were any longer. You should be able to skip those things, but you can't. Perhaps Nintendo thought the game would be too short without them. Despite its minor irritations, Wario Ware Twisted adds a cool new spin to an already winning formula. © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.
Yoshi Topsy Turvy
Publisher: Nintendo (2005)
While very much a standard platformer at heart, Topsy Turvy adds a new twist in the form of a tilt sensor embedded inside of the cartridge. By tilting your Gameboy Advance from side to side, you'll unroll carpets, swing wrecking balls, and roll boulders over enemies! I was expecting Topsy Turvy to be a blast, but it failed to live up to my expectations. One problem is its incomprehensible storyline, which not only slows down the action, but needlessly complicates the entire game. Apparently Yoshi's Island has somehow been magically trapped inside of a book, and you must defeat a series of "spirits" in order to return the island to normal. The stages are "mission" based, although most boil down to simply collecting a number of coins or defeating a group of enemies. The tilt control is fun for the first few minutes, but once the novelty wears off, it's more disorienting than anything else. You may even find yourself feeling woozy after prolonged play. Topsy Turvy does have it moments, like the stage where you rock the "pirate ship" amusement park ride. But all in all, the whole is less than the sum of its parts, making Topsy Turvy one of the least appealing Nintendo titles in recent memory. © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.