Publisher: Tengen (1991)
An old arcade favorite, Marble Madness challenges you to guide a large white marble over three-dimensional platforms before time runs out. Using finesse and momentum you'll precariously navigate narrow strips while avoiding pesky obstacles like vacuums and slinkies. You view the action from a tilted overhead angle, and the Game Boy does an adequate job of rendering the features of each angular stage. Yes, it can be hard to make out some ridges and drop-offs, but after you play a stage once or twice you learn the "lay of the land". The digital pad is kind of a clumsy way to control your marble, especially when you need to move diagonally. Still, this game has a way of keeping you coming back. When you die the game immediately places you back where you left off. Each time you play, you progress a little further, and some stages have alternate paths that add a risk/reward element. The looping, vertigo-like music is both catchy and appropriate. I've played better versions of Marble Madness, but never one this small. © Copyright 2014 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 14,130
Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
Publisher: Capcom (1992)
Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back features well-proportioned characters, digitized images, and a rousing rendition of the Star Wars theme. You begin your journey as Luke riding a tauntaun on the ice planet of Hoth. It's cool how you can freely dismount to wander through icy caves below the surface. When a character communicates with you, the screen displays their digitized face above the dialog (with cantina music playing, oddly enough). "Luke, the lightsaber is the weapon of a Jedi". Thanks Ben, but I think we covered that in the first
movie! Luke fires shots rapidly and can perform a useful "super jump" by holding down first. After blasting probe droids and wumpas, Luke eventually locates his lightsaber. The graphics are detailed but the animation is painfully slow and choppy. Luke actually falls slower than he runs. The music is well orchestrated but hearing that Star Wars theme looping over and over
again will give you a Bantha-sized headache. Navigating the ice caves is a nightmare. The stages are full of regenerating enemies and the first boss took about 100 swats
of my light sabre to kill. When I died I had to restart the game from the very beginning!
Even using the force is a pain in the ass. Not only is it necessary to stock up on "force energy", but you need to collect "ability" icons to do anything. The game has no score and no password feature. I never even reached the AT-AT battle (*sad face*
). Capcom didn't put much effort into Empire Strikes Back and neither should you. © Copyright 2015 The Video Game Critic.
Super Mario Land
Publisher: Nintendo (1989)
Our high score: 116570
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: Back From The Sewers
Publisher: Konami (1991)
Back From The Sewers adopts the same side-scrolling, beat-em-up formula as the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles except with better variety, more polish, and a little pizzazz. The cool cinematic intro gets you totally pumped. There's no stage select this time but you still choose the order in which to play the four turtles. The game looks less cookie-cutter than the original, with richly-detailed storefronts and bonus skateboarding stages. Some of the music is cheesy but that "Cowabunga!" voice synthesis is a nice touch. The turtle are larger, faster, and look terrific - until they attack
. Their weapons don't have much reach, making it look like they're swatting flies instead of unleashing attacks. And it looks really odd how they maintain perfectly straight postures during their jump-kicks. My friends complained the controls were backwards but you can change that via the options menu. The gameplay itself is monotonous but fun. The turtles have some new moves in their arsenal, like the ability to climb hand-over-hand across pipes. Some of Shredder's henchmen have apparently taken side jobs as delivery guys, so beating them up rewards you with a free pizza! And just like in real life, pizza replenishes your health. Back From the Sewers follows a familiar formula but packs enough surprises to keep Turtles fans entertained. © Copyright 2020 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 27,420
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: Radical Rescue
Publisher: Konami (1993)
The first two Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle games were similar in style so I guess Konami felt obligated to change things up a bit with Radical Rescue. It begins with an intro that has way too much boring text to sit through. The game's graphic style has been completely overhauled, with characters that are very small but look terrific! The controls feel crisp as Michaelangelo smacks a mummy in the face with his nunchucks or jump-kicks a bat out of the air. You can even toss stars from ladders and perform a "helicopter" move when falling to slow your descent. One benefit of smaller characters is how you can see more of the stage around you. Unfortunately, the stages tend to be very mazelike and will have you moving in circles. The mineshaft level is so sprawling you actually need to consult a freaking map
via select button. Worse yet, levels are loaded with dead-ends, spiked pits, and unreachable areas. Unlike the previous games the other turtles aren't available until you rescue them. Even the pizza situation is confusing. Normally you immediately consume them for strength, but here they just go in an inventory slot and are automatically used when your health gets low. The game is challenging but at least there's a password mechanism. I can understand Konami wanting to add depth to the series but Radical Rescue lacks that pick-up-and-play quality fans have come to expect. © Copyright 2020 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: KF 4400
Save mechanism: password
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Fall of the Foot Clan
Publisher: Ultra (1990)
As the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle game for the Game Boy this isn't half bad. The title screen plays a rollicking rendition of the TMNT theme - a song still played by the band during Maryland Terrapin basketball games. I guess it makes sense considering the mascot is a turtle! The turtles here are detailed but I don't like the blank expressions on their faces. They look more like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Zombie
Turtles. Stages locations include gritty sewer locations and city streets with hazy skylines. You begin by selecting one of five stages, which elevates the replay value considerably. Next you select from four ninja turtle heroes: Leonardo, Michaelangelo, Raphael, and Donatello. It doesn't really matter who you choose because you'll eventually play them all. That's right - when you lose one turtle you just select another who picks up where the last one left off. The turtles move slowly but their weapon attacks and jump-kicks make short work of Shredder's henchmen, bird-droids, and flying drones
. Wow, these games were way
ahead of their time! Each turtle brandishes a different weapon and the collision detection is generous to say the least. It's also possible to perform a grab-and-throw which I did once by accident. The stages do tend to be very repetitive, as if designed for kids on long car rides. Still, Fall of the Foot Clan packs the basic ingredients you want in a Ninja Turtle game, with enough non-stop action and upbeat music to keep the adrenaline pumping. © Copyright 2020 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 7400
Publisher: Nintendo (1989)
Recommended variation: 9
Our high score: 14,909
The Lost World: Jurassic Park
Publisher: Sega (1997)