ATP Tour Championship Tennis
Publisher: Sega (1994)
Save mechanism: Battery
1 to 4 players
Addams Family, The
Publisher: Flying Edge (1992)
Although clearly inferior to the SNES edition of Addams Family in terms of graphics and sound, I still find myself gravitating towards this Genesis version. Maybe because it's a little easier? You can rack up plenty of lives, and that's crucial because Addams Family is tough! You play the role of Gomez, but he looks more like John Astin's Gomez from the TV series. The controls are a little slippery but the jumps feel nice and soft. I would like to say the collision detection is forgiving but frankly it's kind of hard to tell when you're taking damage. There are some cool weapons in this game like golf balls you can bounce along the ground and a sword you can poke up or forward. The mansion's "hall of stairs" contains many doors which function as a stage select. Some rooms you get to explore include a conservatory, kitchen, armory, furnace, and game room. You can even explore outdoor areas. What makes the stages hard is how they are jam-packed with weird enemies like rats on unicycles, rabbits wearing sneakers, Jawas, pissed-off tea kettles, and guys riding ostriches a la Joust. Enemies are unpredictable, often changing directions as you're about to pounce. Expect all the obligatory environmental hazards like shooting flames, swinging maces, and spikes. Heck, there's even an ice stage
for your troubles - complete with penguins! Vertical spikes are obviously deadly, but why do I take damage while standing on a horizontal one? If you find yourself stuck in this game, look for semi-obstructed on/off switches. Addams Family is a fun little romp but all this random nonsense tends to undermine its macabre spirit. © Copyright 2017 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: CJS 15100
Save mechanism: password
Adventures of Batman and Robin, The
Publisher: Sega (1995)
Our high score: SLN 63,050
1 or 2 players
Aero the Acro-Bat
Publisher: Sunsoft (1993)
Our high score: 40,190
Aero the Acro-Bat 2
Publisher: Sunsoft (1994)
I wasn't actively pursuing Aero the Acro-Bat 2 until a reader informed me of its wonderful winter stages. He wasn't wrong. There are two snow stages and both are excellent. The game opens with Bell Castle which is pretty fun in its own right. I was surprised how Aero 2 has a much different look and feel than the first game. It's a lot smoother and more stylistic, as if they somehow incorporated the Earthworm Jim
(Genesis, 1994) engine. The castle oozes atmosphere with cobwebs, shady corners, and stone windows. Unlike the original game there are no specific objectives - just make it to the exit. Using your drill attacks is more satisfying this time thanks to improved sound effects and less pesky enemies. Interesting new gizmos include bell chains to swing from and gears that fling you across the room. The varied music includes some of that trademark Genesis "rubber band funk". Zone two is where the game really takes off. It almost feels like a bonus stage as you glide up and down hills on a snowboard, jumping ramps and soaring through the air while snagging goodies. That snowy mountain scenery is refreshing! The next stage is nearly as good, albeit a little slushier. This time Aero is trudging through snow caves while fighting little Russian dancers. Additional stages include a psychedelic disco, an underground train, and a dungeon rendered in gorgeous blue and orange tones. A handy password feature is available via the options menu. Aero the Acro-Bat 2 doesn't come cheap, but if you enjoy Genesis platformers you may want to consider breaking your piggybank for this one. © Copyright 2018 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 13,430
Publisher: Sega (1990)
Recommended variation: Easy w/ cnts
Our high score: CJS 4,747,780
Publisher: Kaneko (1991)
Our high score: 123,900
1 or 2 players
Publisher: Seismic (1990)
Air Diver's instruction manual paints a grim picture. Apparently the entire world
has been taken hostage! The 32-page manual had me bracing for a sophisticated flight simulator but in fact this is an arcade shooter like Afterburner II
(Genesis, 1990). It even has the same three-button control scheme. The cockpit consumes more than 50% of the screen but most of those indicators are just for decoration. The steering is strange. You can't turn more than 45 degrees yet you can perform a vertical loop. The scenery looks terrible. It's just a hodgepodge of islands flashing across the bottom in a seizure-inducing manner. Is my plane flying sideways?!
Enemy craft don't as much scale into view as suddenly appear, so you need to be quick to launch your lock-on missiles. The cannon is pretty worthless but I still use it on the off-chance I'll shoot something by accident. Enemy planes disappear from the screen as fast as they appear, so the dogfighting aspect leaves much to be desired. If an enemy locks onto you from behind, perform a vertical loop to turn the tables and place him ahead of you. Sweet!
As far as avoiding incoming missiles, I tend to go buck wild and hope for the best. When you go down in flames you won't know what hit you anyway. Air Diver is marginally playable once you get a feel for it, but its cat-and-mouse boss encounters are a pain in the ass. And once you think
you've prevailed, some huge anime robot consumes the screen and obliterates you. I enjoyed the music of Air Diver (early Cure?) and the stage select is nice. Then I made the mistake of playing the actual game. © Copyright 2017 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 135,500
Publisher: Virgin Games (1993)
While watching the 1992 movie I was mesmerized
by Aladdin's fantastic visuals. Likewise, this video game really pushed the state of the art. Its gorgeous backgrounds and fluid animation make this platformer a showcase title for the system. Our hero exhibits the same distinctive mannerisms as in the film, and his little monkey companion is adorable. It's fun to watch Aladdin leap between canopies in the marketplace, scale ruins in the desert, and whisk through volcanic caves on a magic carpet. I love riding those magic ropes that take off like bottle rockets! The artistic scenery is practically painted
on the screen, and the deep blue hues of the dungeon stage are especially appealing. The sense of humor from the film carries over as well, with enemies that lose their pants and camels that spit when you hop on their hump. Aladdin plays nearly as well as it looks. An all-in-one-instruction screen tells you pretty much everything you need to know at a glance. The sword-fighting action is fun but sometimes you'll absorb a mandatory hit or two, so remember to throw apples to avoid close combat. It's hard to tell when you're taking damage, so it may come as a shock when you suddenly keel over. The lack of a password is disappointing, but this is one well-crafted adventure you probably won't mind restarting from the beginning. Like the film, Aladdin is an exuberant joyride that's extremely easy on the eyes. © Copyright 2014 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 28,050
Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle
Publisher: Sega (1989)
If Alex Kidd was Sega's answer to Super Mario Bros.
(NES, 1984) they came up well short. Super Mario always had an innocent quality but Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle comes off as cheesy
. The main character is some kind of monkey-boy who can punch and execute a fairly worthless jump-kick. The opening stage takes place in a neighborhood with houses, cars, and trees rendered with colorful simplicity. Alex later explores forests, prairies, pyramids, and underwater areas. He'll battle cars, fish, scorpions, dung beetles, and even Jason from Friday the 13th. More often than not however Alex takes out his aggression on innocent wildlife like sea turtles, eagles, and prairie dogs. Who punches a prairie dog?
Alex can bust through circular "blocks" to access shiny chests loaded with money. Cash is used to gamble against a blue gorilla in a game of Janken, otherwise known as "rock-paper-scissors". Why this is played on a stage in front of an animal audience I have no idea. I recommend you play early and often, as you can win fun items like a helicopter, pogostick, motorcycle, or fireball power-up. Experimenting with vehicles and special items are what makes the game worthwhile. The rock-paper-scissors mini-game is also used for boss battles, believe it or not. The stages are short but there are plenty of chests to open and hidden areas to discover. On the downside, there's no score and the happy-go-lucky music will get on your nerves. Alex Kidd is no Mario, but I think there's something to be said for its back-to-basics style. © Copyright 2018 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 2020
Publisher: Arena (1992)
I thought for sure that Alien 3 would be just like the SNES version, which had superb graphics but lackluster gameplay. Fortunately, the Genesis version is everything the SNES game should
have been. There's no complicated maps or tedious missions here, just explosive arcade action! The graphics and sound don't measure up to the SNES version, with cartoonish characters and the music that's more upbeat than ominous. But in terms of pure gameplay this is far superior. Each stage is a maze of rooms connected by tubes and ladders. Your job is to rescue all the prisoners and exit before time runs out. You can switch between several weapons including a machine gun, flamethrower, grenade launcher and hand grenades. Each weapon is effective in certain situations, and the action is fast and exciting. The aliens look terrific, and I love how they scream and splatter when shot. I do have a few complaints however. First, it's never clear where the so-called "exit" is located, which can be frustrating. Next, there are times when the aliens seem impossible to avoid, so you'll take some mandatory hits. While the controls are decent overall, squatting down to fire low can be problematic. But these are minor issues. All in all, the fast pace and arcade style of Alien 3 makes the game hard to put down. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 237690
Publisher: Sega (1991)
Alien Storm is a ho-hum side-scroller that lets you gleefully fry waves of invading aliens. The three playable characters include a man and woman decked out in cheesy superhero costumes and a robot who looks like Ultraman's uncle. Your weapons are short-range "fire blazers" that aren't particularly effective. And when I say short range, we're talking five feet!
With firepower this weak, you'd be better off bludgeoning the creeps with the butt of your gun! The urban locations are forgettable, but the aliens are disgusting enough. They tend to have this nasty habit of gnawing on your head.
Not cool! Alien Storm is a real button masher, so you'd be wise to enable the rapid-fire option on the menu screen. Your character also has an evasive roll and a limited special attack which inflicts damage to all the baddies on the screen. The gameplay is rinse-and-repeat all the way, and the bosses take forever
to kill. The game's saving grace is its frantic bonus stages. There are some fast-paced running sequences and first-person shooting stages that let you blast the hell out of alien-infested stores. It's actually more fun to destroy the items on the shelves - especially those oversized boom-boxes. Without these bonus stages, the monotony of this game might be unbearable. I should also mention that the game is very short and easy. I'm all for games that can be completed in one sitting, but the first sitting?!
Alien Storm is mildly amusing for a while, but it quickly wears on you and there's not a lot of replay value. © Copyright 2010 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 34
1 or 2 players
Publisher: Game Arts (1992)
The Genesis library is loaded with fine side-scrollers, but Alisia Dragoon is a breed apart. This is a truly gorgeous adventure with rich graphics, an elegant soundtrack, and captivating gameplay. You play the role of a sorceress who casts lightning from her fingertips. With a push of a button you unleash multiple bolts that automatically latch onto enemies. It's especially fun to effortlessly pick off insects as they fly on to the screen. If you wait for your lightning to fully charge, you can unleash a 360-degree attack. As if that wasn't enough, you get a flying sidekick! You can select between several, including a baby dragon, a flying lizard, and a ball of fire. It's a neat idea but frankly these creatures are pretty lame! They aren't much help and tend to die off early. Your enemies don't go down nearly as easy, so weapon power-ups are critical. These are often hidden, so explore each stage thoroughly. I love the look of this game. The layered backdrops convey a fantasy world with posh temples, stormy swamps, and ...massive airships? Why is it that games set in medieval times always have an obligatory airship level? There's no score, but when your game is over you're presented with a statistical breakdown and rank. Uh, what kind of rank is "electric slime"? Isn't that the dance all the ladies get up and do at weddings? I like Alisia Dragoon. It's a classy 16-bit platform-shooter that's like nothing else I've played. © Copyright 2015 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Sega (1988)
Altered Beast is a bizarre side-scroller where you battle legions of monsters and with the help of power-ups, can transform into a monster yourself. It's hard to believe this was the first Genesis pack-in game, considering how dark and violent it is. There's a great deal of blood and flying limbs. Powering up as quickly as possible is the key to winning. A transformation screen shows your character turning into a powerful monster such as a werewolf, dragon, or bear. They didn't have morphing technology in 1988, but it still looks cool. Levels range from a cool graveyard to some boring caverns (yawn). The bosses take forever to beat. The digitized voices sound terribly muffled and the collision detection is questionable at times. Two players can fight simultaneously, but the screen tends to get crowded because the characters are large. One particularly bizarre aspect is the charging pigs, many of which contain power-ups. Okay, they're supposed to be two-headed wolves, but they sure look like pigs to me. I like Altered Beast, but it's hardly a game that will appeal to the masses. Hint: Hold down A when pressing Start to resume play at the last level you were on. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 109000
Aquatic Games Starring James Pond
Publisher: Electronic Arts (1992)
What a dog this is! I didn't think EA was capable of making anything this bad, but now I'm a believer! Aquatic Games is meant to be a light-heartened Olympics-style game. Among the aquatic creatures that participate is EA's not-so-popular fish character James Pond. I've always been a big fan of Track and Field style games, so I had some hope for this. Unfortunately, my hope evaporated once I tried a few of the "events", which have all the entertainment value of being kicked in the crotch over and over again. The first alarm went off when I realized that despite the fact that this is a four-player game, there is NO simultaneous play! Four players just take turns watching each other play, which is completely unacceptable considering EA created that nifty four-player adapter for the Genesis. And the events are just AWFUL! There are a few button-tapping running games, but the single CPU-controlled opponent is rarely on the screen. At least these are mercifully short. Other events go on and on long after you've lost interest. In one particular event you have to deflect beach balls away from some sleeping seals, and if the repetitive action wasn't bad enough, the event goes on for THREE minutes. Without a doubt these were the three longest minutes of my entire life. In another "event" you bounce up and down on sponges for three minutes while performing simple flips. In this one, I kept killing myself hoping it would end the event early, but to no avail. You'd think that of the eight events, I would at least have found one
to be somewhat enjoyable. But no - I absolutely HATED every last one of them! Aquatic Games is an exercise in misery - easily one of the worst games I've ever played on my Genesis. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Acclaim (1992)
While playing Arch Rivals it dawned on me that this was the direct precursor to NBA Jam
(SNES, 1993). This fast-paced, two-on-two basketball slugfest is completely over the top. You can shove your opponents to the ground, run down the court, and shatter the backboard with a dunk. All that's missing is an NBA license, which admittedly is a pretty big deal. Without it you're left with a motley crew of fictional players. Resist the temptation to take that Dennis Rodman look-alike because he's slow as molasses. Despite its arcade stylings the graphics in Arch Rivals lack pizzazz. The players are rendered with a cheesy black outline and the crowd is sparse. Still, the game is highly playable and the ball moves so fast the camera struggles to keep up! You only directly control one of your players but can prompt your CPU partner to pass or shoot. Knocking over opponents is fun and you can even tackle
them! Breaking the backboard would be more spectacular if it weren't so easy. Those things must be constructed from the same material as Sega Saturn cases
. After each score there's a brief cut-scene of a cheerleader, coach, or referee. You can skip them with a button press but they become irritating and interrupt the flow of the game. Likewise the static-y voice samples ("put it up!", "I'm open!") are abrasive. During the halftime show the cheerleaders strike some provocative poses! Each quarter is four minutes, which sounds reasonable but is actually way too long. When playing a friend, do yourselves a favor and agree to just play a half. It's a little rough but you can't deny Arch Rivals is fun. This is one game that will appeal to sports fans and non-sports fans alike. © Copyright 2019 The Video Game Critic.
Ariel the Little Mermaid
Publisher: Sega (1992)
Arnold Palmer Tournament Golf
Publisher: Sega (1989)
Save mechanism: password
1 or 2 players
Publisher: Renovation (1990)
Arrow Flash is not
one of the more impressive Genesis shooters, but it has its moments. The upbeat opening theme immediately reminded me of Kim Wilde's hit single "Keep me Hangin' On". After that, things settle down. Better shooters try to wow you from the start, but Arrow Flash makes you sleepy. Not only do enemies approach in repetitive patterns, there are inexplicable lulls between waves! There's not much to see as you fly over layers of gray clouds. The music has spirit, but the sound effects lack punch. I nearly fell into a coma before being jolted by a flashing "OUT OF DANGER" message. Huh? Apparently that's the game's way of telling you a cut scene
is starting. At this point the action stops as a giant space cruiser slowly falls from the sky and plunges into the ocean below. A little splashing would have made it look more convincing, but I do like how the flames disappear and the hull turns blue as the ship cools off. Arrow Flash finally gains some traction in stage two, which ratchets up the difficulty and offers better variety. Once you power-up your blasters and shields you can really get into a zone. Sadly, taking one hit reduces you back to the 'ole pea shooter (doh!). The A button allows you to toggle forms between a mech robot and a streamlined space ship, each of which offers a slightly different special attack. I don't think it adds as much strategy as it intended to. The options menu offers a rapid-fire feature, and you'd be absolutely insane not to use it. Arrow Flash is one of those run-of-the-mill shooters that serves its purpose but fails to leave a lasting impression. © Copyright 2011 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 180,310
Publisher: Data East (1992)
Though its lame title conjures visions of abstract mazes, Atomic Runner is really an action-packed rapid-fire platformer. You control a small spaceman running on a constantly-scrolling screen blasting spiders, anteaters, dragons, and orcs armed with shields. Your weapons positively kick ass, ranging from laser beams to spinning spikes to homing missiles. Your shooting angles are limited to straight ahead and diagonal, but performing a somersault will let you fire in random directions. You can also pounce on most enemies. It's possible to turn around and fire at enemies approaching from the rear but the default controls for doing so are awkward. An options menu offers several control alternatives but frankly I never felt comfortable with firing in reverse. When your guy dies he gyrates and performs "jazz hands". The stage designs are terrific, featuring architecture from ancient Egyptian, Aztec, and Mayan civilizations. The colorful, artistic backdrops call to mind modern platformers like Little Big Planet
(PS3, 2008) and Puppeteer
(PS3, 2013). The Mayan pyramids in a sea of lava are quite a sight, but it's the modern stage with the spectacular nighttime city skyline that takes the cake. The music is pretty good despite the random grunt samples which struck me as odd. I had so much fun playing Atomic Runner it made me wonder how I could have missed it after all these years. Retro gaming is a hobby that just keeps on giving. © Copyright 2017 The Video Game Critic.
Recommended variation: easy
Our high score: 176,220
Publisher: Tengen (1993)
Ayrton Senna's Super Monaco GP II
Publisher: Sega (1992)
Ayrton Senna is my favorite Formula One driver of all time, and this game was released not long before his tragic death. Ayrton Senna's Super Monaco GP II has a slightly different feel than Super Monaco GP
(Sega, 1990). There's more speed and as a result the laps are shorter. The tracks are generally flat but sometimes undulate slightly. This game is more forgiving than the first, so if you drift off the track you probably won't crash. The sound effects have been remastered to deliver more oomph, for better or worse. There's a lot more bass and I love the sound of your car speeding through a tunnel. The engines sound a little harsh however, and my friend Brent mentioned it sounded like he was racing in a beehive!
The voice samples are clearer but so brief you can barely catch them (what did he say?). The arcade mode (Senna GP) offers three tracks to select from, which seems like an improvement. Two are fairly dull however, and the lack of position limits takes away some of the suspense. The World Championship mode is where this game shines. You can select from beginner or expert difficulties. There's an interesting variety of tracks with digitized scenery, including a rainy track in Brazil. I love the effect of water spraying off the tires. You can save your progress to six battery-backed save slots. My cartridge contained some pre-existing saves with names like Ass-h***, Ass-f***, and Old Bastard. Stay classy, gamers!
The game lacks babes but there are plenty of digitized images of Senna. Super Monaco GP II feels less arcade-like than the first game, but probably has more long-term replay value. © Copyright 2015 The Video Game Critic.
Recommended variation: GP
Our high score: 2'17"63
Save mechanism: Battery