Pac-Man: Special Color Edition
Publisher: Namco (1999)
Recommended variation: Pac-Attack/Normal
Our high score: 109,374
Pitfall: Beyond the Jungle
Publisher: Activision (1998)
I was hoping this game would take the Pitfall formula to the next level, but it's just a shameful attempt to capitalize on the brand name. Beyond the Jungle bears little resemblance to its predecessor, and its by-the-numbers design lacks charm and imagination. In the first stage you swing Pitfall Harry between ropes and make him jump between grassy platforms. The controls seem decent until you realize Harry always jumps a significant distance forward when coming off a rope. This makes it really hard
to land on a platform that's only a half jump away. Harry is armed with a pickaxe used to kill scorpions and flying shellfish (huh?). Creatures unleash blood-curling screams as you hack them to death. Occasionally Harry will need to run up to a gorilla and bludgeon him before the poor ape can even react. This game is just wrong on so many levels. When you finally deplete your lives (which seems to take forever
) don't be surprised to see a score of zero
. Are you telling me that collecting dozens of blue diamonds and killing innocent animals wasn't worth a single point?
The second stage is positively hellish as you descend into a dank prison. It's got all hallmarks of bad level design: flames on timers, pipes deadly to touch, and invisible hazards that blend into the gray scenery. In the end Pitfall: Beyond the Jungle seems to serve but one purpose, and that's to make your life thoroughly miserable. © Copyright 2012 The Video Game Critic.
Save mechanism: Password
Publisher: Nintendo (1999)
This happy-go-lucky pinball title has some interesting bells and whistles. The first thing you'll notice is the bulge in the cartridge which houses a single AAA battery. It facilitates some modest vibration feedback and also retains a list of all the Pokemon characters you "catch" while playing the game. You have a choice of two tables (red and blue) and their spacious designs lets the ball circulate around. The screen flips between the top and bottom halves of the table, which seems a little annoying at first but you get used to it. The large Pokemon ball is easy to follow but there really aren't many targets to hit. The game gains traction when the "catch Pokemon" mode begins, allowing you to piece together a puzzle revealing new a Pokemon for your collection. Pokemon Pinball is very forgiving thanks to the oversized ball and generous amount of ball saves. The background music is sparse but the occasional voice synthesis is a plus. Even if you're not a Pokemon fan you're bound to find this little pinball game habit-forming. © Copyright 2015 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 11214
Publisher: Vatical (1998)
Polaris SnoCross comes on an extra-fat cartridge to facilitate a "rumble" capability. It works fine, but I wish more effort was put into the game itself. SnoCross plays like an overhead car racer except you're driving a snowmobile around tree-lined tracks. The tournament mode pits you against two CPU opponents, and they're tough! You'll need a near-perfect run to rank first, and if you get caught up on a tree you're toast. Winning races lets you unlock new tracks and snowmobiles. The courses don't offer much scenery beyond snow-covered evergreens and the occasional iced-over bridge. Prior to each race you allot points to adjust your sled's acceleration, traction, and top speed. In my experience you'll want to put all your eggs in your "top speed" basket. The tracks are ideal in length (read: short) and it's very cool how you slide down banked turns. The vibrate feature is surprisingly understated, and that's probably for the best. The audio is just horrible. The whiney music is hard on the ears and it gets even more obnoxious during the final lap. You can turn it off via the options menu, but that exposes some equally unpleasant sound effects. Unlocking tracks is a challenge, but it seems to require more memorization that skill. Polaris SnoCross is a serviceable winter diversion, but it could have used a lot more pizzazz. Note: This cartridge will not fit into a DS system. © Copyright 2012 The Video Game Critic.
Save mechanism: Password
Publisher: Ubisoft (2000)
The Rayman series is known for its vibrant, colorful graphics so it's a good fit for the Game Boy Color. The game makes excellent use of system's palette with lush green plants, sparkling blue waters, and blooming pink flowers. Rayman himself is a cute character with disembodied hands and feet. He has the ability to toss baseballs and can even "wind up" to throw them harder. The animation is very fluid. Rayman will grab the edge of a platform when his jump comes up short, and it's a good thing because this happens all the time
. The short-but-sweet stages seem simple at first but soon you'll be scratching your head trying to figure out how the heck you're supposed to reach that exit keyhole. You'll figure it out, but only after a few annoyances. When Rayman swings on something, the screen shifts back and forth in a vertigo-inducing manner. Ugh! And while the controls are generally forgiving, Rayman will miss grabbing a vine at the most inopportune time. In one stage you need to continuously move up the screen to avoid rising water, but the screen scrolls so slowly
you need to wait for it!
A password is provided but it consists of both upper and lowercase letters and that just sucks. I feel like this game could really use a score. Rayman earns points for its colorful visuals but it's gameplay falls a little short. © Copyright 2019 The Video Game Critic.
Save mechanism: password
Resident Evil Gaiden
Publisher: Capcom (2001)
Rating: Teen (blood, violence)
Star Wars Episode I: Obi Wan's Adventures
Publisher: THQ (2000)
Publisher: Konami (2000)
This is not the Mummy game I was expecting. You'll play as many characters from the film including Evelyn, Jonathan, and Rick, but the sprites are kind of tiny. Each stage is a little treasure hunt as you scour mazes for items like manuscripts or artifacts. The prison level actually wraps around on itself like an old NES title. In fact, Bugs Bunny Crazy Castle
(NES, 1989) came to mind more than once (sorry to dredge that
one up!). That said, the gameplay isn't bad. Responsive controls make it easy to clear gaps and ride on floating platforms. Special items like torches and dynamite help you access new areas. Once you unlock all the characters you can toggle between them via the start button. Jonathan has a wicked punch and Rick can fire a gun! Unfortunately when Rick shoots Templar Knights they just sort of disappear and reappear a few seconds later. Lame! There's also this big statue-looking dude you can push around to use as a shield. Not sure what that's all about. The dark, dull scenery comes in shades of brown, with locations that include a ship, desert ruins, and dark tombs. The ominous musical score has an air of mystery to it, but after a few stages everything starts to look the same. The Mummy isn't anything to get yourself wrapped up in, but its old-school style is appealing. © Copyright 2019 The Video Game Critic.
The Mummy Returns
Publisher: Universal (2001)
Save mechanism: password
The Simpsons: Night of the Living Treehouse of Horror
Publisher: THQ (2001)
Our high score: 2,280
Save mechanism: password
X-Men: Mutant Academy
Publisher: Activision (2000)
Publisher: Telegames (1998)