Malibu Beach Volleyball
Publisher: Activision (1990)
Malibu Volleyball plays about as well as it looks, and it looks pretty crappy! A two-on-two women's match resembles a bunch of cave women playing in the sand. The ball movement is smooth but floaty. When in the air an X appears where it's going to land. A lot of times I swore I was positioned right on that damn thing yet couldn't hit the ball. The animation is lousy. Why is my player performing a handstand?
Oh wait, she's supposed to be diving backwards
. You can get up pretty high at the net, but the spikes are awfully soft. Every now and then the game cuts over to a pretty referee wearing a bikini and shades. Talk about a sight for sore eyes! I found it interesting how players from different countries have unique body shapes and skin tones. Playing as men is a little faster, but Malibu Beach Volleyball fails to capture the energy and spirit of the sport. © Copyright 2020 The Video Game Critic.
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)
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)
Our high score: 7400
Publisher: Nintendo (1989)
This tiny game is one of the best straight-up tennis titles ever made. There are no special shots, power-ups, or gimmicks. Just two cartoonish players on a court that scrolls slightly to keep the action in view. Mario assumes the role of referee on the right side of the court. Some of his calls are questionable, but you have to remember this was before tennis had the Hawk-Eye (TM) instant replay system in place. The controls are limited to hit and lob. That's all you need because the gameplay is honed to perfection. It's amazing how this game mirrors all the subtle nuances of the sport. You have to time your swing when the ball is by your side. Let the ball hit you in the body and you lose the point. Holding the directional pad as you hit the ball lets you angle it and control its spin. As in real tennis, positioning is key. Hitting the ball mid-bounce will result in the most accurate shot; otherwise the ball might drift out of bounds. Playing the net is always a gamble. It's possible to hit the ball into the net or have it flitter off the top. There are no cutscenes, no replays, and no nonsense to interrupt the action. Four CPU skill levels are available. I do however wish you could adjust the number of games per set, as six can be pretty time consuming for a portable game. Still, this is pure, unadulterated tennis and a joy to play. If only modern tennis games would learn this lesson they might not suck
so badly. © Copyright 2020 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Nintendo (1989)
Recommended variation: 9
Our high score: 14,909