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Games are rated relative to other games for the same system.

Genesis Reviews D

DJ Boy
Grade: D-
Publisher: Kaneco (1990)
Posted: 2013/10/7

screenshotThis is one of those shallow, undercooked arcade titles that appeared early in the Genesis life cycle. DJ Boy is a fast-moving, side-scrolling beat-em-up on roller skates. That's right - our hero is a kid who skates around town beating up gangs of bullies and bizarre bosses. The basic controls are punch, kick, and jump. Button combinations let you perform special moves like a jump kick.

So how does the game play? Well, your enemies are constantly sliding around and the collision detection is questionable. Even so, it's satisfying to beat up a bully and watch a big gold coin fall out of his body (or better yet - an entire sandwich). The predictable stages include city streets with trolleys, a subway, and the obligatory construction sites. I hate how the subway is completely dark except for the spotlight surrounding you. The characters are sizable but the enemies are monotonous.

The bosses are not the most politically correct bunch. The first looks like Aunt Jemima, and are those pancakes she's throwing?! Lord have mercy. Where's Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton when you need them? The second boss is some kind of break-dancing male stripper. This game thrives on absurdity. Too bad it sucks. The bosses are cheap, there's no continues, and the lack of a two-player mode adds to the disappointment. DJ Boy feels like a relic of Sega Genesis' past, but not all relics are treasures. © Copyright 2013 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 161,600
1 player 

Dark Castle
Grade: F-
Publisher: Electronic Arts (1991)
Posted: 2024/6/25

screenshotI review bad games all the time but Dark Castle is truly in a league of its own. Whenever a "new guy" arrives on game night it's a time-honored tradition to subject him to this repulsive dungheap of a game. It's a cruel, sadistic ritual. But we like it. So we hand the poor sap a controller, act like it's a respectable game, and see how long we can keep a straight face. We watch him flail away in frustration, tumble down stairs, get pelted by bats, trip over his own feet, and die repeatedly. It's quite the spectacle.

Dark Castle fails on so many levels. All of them, I think. You begin in a "great hall" where your brave knight resembles Shaggy from Scooby Doo. You select between four doors, each of which holds a unique set of screens composed of platforms, stairs, ropes, and precarious jumps. They tend to be infested with bats, rats, Frankenstein monsters, and annoying little hunchback creatures that jeer you relentlessly with their "nah nah nah nah nah" chants.

Clearly designed with a keyboard in mind, the controls are excruciating. The jump button always leaps the same distance and trying to grab a rope is a total crapshoot. You'd assume the duck button would also pick up items, but you have to press B and down for some reason. Throwing a stone requires you to slowly wind your arm around to aim - like the hand of a clock. This tedious process makes you a sitting duck as small creatures converge, knocking you from side to side.

Even if you do manage to hit something, creatures respawn almost immediately! You'll knock down a Frankenstein monster with a stone, only to have him suddenly reappear upright as you attempt to walk past his body. You can painstakingly eliminate all the bats on a screen, but when attempting to climb a rope they're all back. You're defenseless while climbing, and making contact with just about anything is fatal.

As if to rub salt in the wounds, the developers taunt you with zany animations. When you miss a jump, your guy hangs in the air for a moment, like a freaking Road Runner cartoon! You're constantly tripping over unseen objects, prompting a goofy "dizzy" animation that renders the controls unresponsive, subjecting you to additional hits. The frustration factor is so far off the charts the needle has broken off.

When it comes to incomprehensibly bad video games Dark Castle stands alone. Wait a second - is that a quality assurance person mentioned in the credits!? Please tell me that guy is still at Electronic Arts, because there's no way that dude could land another job after this monumental debacle. On a final note, I previously reviewed the Philips CD-i version of Dark Castle (Philips CD-i, 1991), and believe it or not, that game is arguably worse. © Copyright 2024 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 3820
1 player 

Dashin' Desperadoes
Grade: D+
Publisher: Data East (1993)
Posted: 2006/2/17

screenshotDespite its intriguing premise, Dashin' Desperadoes doesn't live up to its potential. Played on a side-scrolling split-screen, two players (or one against the computer) race towards the right, attempting to be the first to reach the babe at the end. It certainly sounds like fun, and the graphics and music are better than average. Detailed stages feature scenic backdrops, multiple pathways, animals to hop on, trampolines, and even skateboards to ride. You can make life more difficult for your opponent by tossing bombs or "rolling" into him. It's quite competitive, and knowing the course layouts gives you a huge advantage.

Stage themes run the gamut from lush jungles, to icy glaciers, to barren Western locales. The high quality soundtrack is impressive for the Genesis, including banjo music for the Western stages and steel drum music for the tropical areas. The incomprehensible voice synthesis, on the other hand, has got to go! Dashin' Desperadoes' early stages are a blast. Because they contain minimal obstacles, you can move through them at a breakneck pace.

Unfortunately, as the stages become more complex, the fun factor drops precipitously. Once you have to start dealing with moving platforms, spike pits, pools of lava, and switches to open doors, it just becomes a big headache. Worse yet, the computer opponent is notoriously cheap, often magically appearing right behind you in the heat of a contest. If only Dashin' Desperadoes had embraced its simplicity instead of betraying it, this could have been a winner. © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.

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1 or 2 players 

David Robinson's Supreme Court
Grade: D
Publisher: Sega (1992)
Posted: 2001/12/29

screenshotLike Pat Riley Basketball that came before it, David Robinson's Supreme Court doesn't feature any real teams or players. You would think that at the very least David Robinson would be playable, but no, he's only here to give color commentary at halftime and the end of the game! So why in the heck is he shown dunking on the cover?

Anyway, while this game isn't great, it did lay the groundwork for the excellent NBA Live games that would be released later for the Genesis. The players are small but realistically detailed, and the court is viewed diagonally. Unfortunately, your view changes when you cross the mid court line, which is disorienting.

The action is fast and the dunks look great, but jump shots and passes have little or no arc to them. The controls are fine for the most part, but making three point or foul shots is ridiculously hard. Blocking is nearly impossible on defense, but stealing is effective. The audio isn't bad; you can hear sneakers squeak, and the background music is kind of funky. It's not great, but Supreme Court was definitely a step in the right direction. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.

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1 or 2 players 

Deadly Moves
Grade: B-
Publisher: Kaneco (1992)
Posted: 2010/1/21

screenshotIt's easy to dismiss this one-on-one fighter as a Street Fighter 2 knock-off, but not so fast! Deadly Moves is a cut above the rest. I recently played this against my friend Chris who claims to have played it as a kid! That's surprising, because Deadly Moves strikes me as one of those generic titles few people have heard of. The game has a lot going for it despite its suspiciously familiar characters. Joe is a Ryu clone, Li Yong is Chun Li, and Baraki is clearly Blanka's second cousin. Bu Oh ("Lord of Dance") looks a lot like David Bowie, and his red hair is literally a deadly weapon!

The stages are unspectacular but more interesting than your garden variety fighter. The raft stage features tropical island scenery (check out the blimp) and a desert stage puts you on the back of a moving train. The voice samples aren't bad, and some of the music has a cool Streets of Rage flavor.

So how is the fighting action? Well, it's a little on the slow side but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Two special moves are listed in the manual for each character, and they are easy to execute. The game's simplicity, coupled with its deliberate pace, makes Deadly Moves feel more strategic and less like a button-masher.

One unusual feature is the ability to move your fighters in and out of the z-axis. It's not a major factor, but sometimes you'll be able to side-step a projectile or rush attack. My friend Chris pointed out that there's no clock, so stalling tactics (my specialty) are not an option.

After each round, I like how the background scenery changes to black-and-white, and then fades to black, leaving only the victor on the screen. In the single-player mode you can only play as Joe, but you can select the order of your opponents. Joe's attributes increase between stages, and a password is provided. Deadly Moves could never challenge Street Fighter 2's throne, but if you want a nice change of pace, this is a viable option. © Copyright 2010 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 64800
Save mechanism: Password
1 or 2 players 

Death Duel
Grade: B-
Publisher: Razorsoft (1992)
Posted: 2005/5/25

screenshotI love the old magazine ad for this game. It depicts a white box with an official-looking notice: "Contrary to published reports, Death Duel has been banned only in certain European countries; however, it is still legal in all 50 states as of the date of this notice. Any reports indicating otherwise are unfounded." That's pure marketing hype for you. Yes, there's a certain degree of blood and dismemberment, but these are pixelated monsters for Pete's sake. Still, the box does state, "Not suggested for children under 13."

Actually, I found this odd first-person shooter to be a nice change of pace. Using a cursor to aim, you engage in one-on-one shootouts against a series of nine creatures, including a dragon, giant insect, and cybernetic troll. These things are impressively large - the "largest 16-bit characters EVER" according to the box. Each has its own distinct attack patterns and weak spots. During battle, your opponent remains a fixed distance away, but moves sideways - sometimes behind partially destructible walls.

Armed with three weapons, you can spray bullets with your machine gun, launch missiles, and lob grenades. The limb-blasting, missile-dodging action can get pretty intense at times. My biggest gripe is that your opponent sometimes moves so far to the right or left that you can't even reach them - what's that all about? It's always interesting to see what the next stage has in store, but you'll always have to defeat the cyborgs in order.

Between stages there's a fun shooting gallery stage, and you can purchase weapons from an eccentric merchant with a pet monkey. This is where the game exhibits some offbeat humor, including a sign that reads, "Please touch my monkey". Outfitting yourself with the right weapons is critical to defeating your next foe, and this requires some trial and error to discover what's effective. Your ammo is limited, and the last thing you want is to run out on the battlefield. This is a good game, but the poor instructions don't adequately explain the meters and basic gameplay, which is frustrating. Once you figure everything out however, Death Duel is a lot of fun. © Copyright 2005 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 

Death and Return of Superman, The
Grade: D
Publisher: Sunsoft (1994)
Posted: 2016/2/27

screenshotIn 1992 DC Comics pulled off a bizarre publicity stunt. They had Superman briefly "die" at the hands of Doomsday, an event which inexplicably spawned four new alternate Supermen in the process. That's the premise of this underachieving side-scrolling brawler. Death and Return of Superman reeks of untapped potential. The blocky city skyline in the opening cutscene looks horrible.

The opening stage is a fenced power-plant that's seriously lacking in the eye candy department. Were they even trying? Subsequent stages include the obligatory elevators, street scenes, rooftops, and laboratories. The lack of detail in the scenery is glaring, especially when you look down a city intersection and see nothing but a solid blue wall!

You face the same mutated goons over and over again with cute names like Rambeau and Eyegore. Palette-swapped thugs are to be expected, but this game takes the "cookie cutter" concept to a whole new level by duplicating entire stages with different color schemes. It's a shame because the game itself is quite playable with large characters, smooth animation, and tight controls. I love how Superman grabs enemies and hurls them into walls much like the Caped Crusader in Batman Returns (SNES, 1992). The fact that the walls actually incur damage may be the highlight of the game.

Superman will take flight if you tap C twice, and he looks cool hovering over a backdrop of layered buildings. There are icons to collect but they all just look like Superman logos. Occasionally you can throw an object, but you'd expect tossing an engine block on a guy would do a little more than minimal damage. Superman's eye beam attack is positively worthless, but his ground pound (A+B) is effective.

The action is one-player-only, there's no score, and it's impossible to make significant progress without the Game Genie. Considering how far side-scrollers progressed by 1994, Death and Return of Superman comes off as a super lazy effort. © Copyright 2016 The Video Game Critic.

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1 player 

Decap Attack
Grade: B-
Publisher: Sega (1991)
Posted: 2017/10/16

screenshotThis offbeat platformer doesn't make much sense but it's a heck of a lot of fun. Decap Attack stars an eccentric mummy named "Chuck D. Head". Chuck can rapid-fire punch foes with a head that bursts from his chest. Yes, that is awesome. Occasionally he's equipped with a skull on his shoulders he can hurl, but it's really easy to lose. I love how the skull changes expressions when you leave it sitting on the ground.

The platform action is responsive as you hop between platforms, stomp cartoonish monsters into the dirt, and smash totems to collect potions. You can land on gray clouds and flutter in the air to slow your fall. The assortment of enemies include werewolves, cattle skulls, dudes with propeller hats, and black birds that look like Daffy Duck on crack. Your goal is to reach the exit of each stage, although it's not always clear where that lies.

Potions you collect become available for use on an item screen accessible by the A button. You can use this screen to read descriptions of each item, but the user interface is terrible! It would help if the scrolling text could display more than five words at a time! It's very easy to accidentally use an item you didn't intend to. These short-lived power-ups offer invincibility, extended punch range, and high jumping. Don't hesitate to use the potions, as most do not work on the bosses!

Decap Attack's stages depict barren landscapes with skulls hanging from trees. I think they are intentionally bleak to convey a Halloweenish spirit, and it works. I really like those translucent platforms. The weird, jaunty music is great, and I love that creepy organ music that kicks in when you die. The lack of a score and password is a bummer, but it's fun just to see how far you can get. Decap Attack may look like your garden variety platformer but proves to be anything but. © Copyright 2017 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 

Demolition Man
Grade: A-
Publisher: Acclaim (1995)
Posted: 2014/10/24
Rating: Kids to Adults

screenshotDemolition Man was a futuristic action film starring Sylvester Stallone as hero John Spartan and Wesley Snipes as villain Simon Phoenix. You should never get your expectations up for a movie-licensed game (by Acclaim no less), yet Demolition Man proves an exception to the rule. In the opening stage our hero bungees from a helicopter down onto a rooftop, accompanied by the well-placed voice sample ("send a maniac to catch one").

As you leap between rooftops the run-and-gun action is explosive! Your rapid-fire gun lets you rack up a high body count and ignite flammable crates that rock the screen as they explode. I love how you can shoot in any direction while hanging off a ladder, dangling on a wire, or bouncing on a bungee cord. The blood red skyline is striking and bass-heavy music will pump your adrenaline.

The second stage switches to an overhead view as you shoot thugs in a museum while saving hostages. The characters look cartoonish but the fun doesn't let up one bit. It's easy to mow down gangs of approaching thugs that literally pour out of the woodwork. It's even possible to strafe by holding down B and C (although support for the six-button controller would have been nice).

Each stage ends with a mini-encounter with Simon Phoenix. The developers really knew what they were doing. The platform-jumping controls are good and the enemy shot detection could be described as generous. The checkpoints are well-placed and the boss encounters are short. Demolition Man is one shooter that lives up to its name, serving up non-stop action, unbridled violence, and wanton destruction. Good times! © Copyright 2014 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 66,600
1 player 

Desert Demolition
Grade: F
Publisher: Warner Bros. (1994)
Posted: 2017/5/31

screenshotDuring the early 90's the fascination with interactive cartoons reached fever pitch, catapulting to popularity mediocre titles like Taz Mania (Genesis, 1992) and Daffy Duck: The Marvin Missions (SNES, 1993). Desert Demolition stars the Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote, paying homage to their classic cartoons with lovable animations, endearing sounds, and countless references to the old shows. It's a fitting tribute, but from a video game standpoint this is a complete trainwreck.

You can be either the coyote or roadrunner, but selecting either one is punching your ticket to misery. The coyote is so slow and clumsy that simply reaching the end of the stage before the timer runs out can be a challenge. Wacky gadgets like springs and jet shoes typically send him into the nearest wall! He can't even walk into a boulder without taking damage.

The swift road runner seems like a better option, especially when you see him peel through Sonic the Hedgehog-style loops. But once he's in the desert he's moving too fast to avoid anything so he runs right smack into every cactus! You can collect little waving "Acme stamps" for points, and despite what my friend Scott says those are not mini Confederate flags! What's the point of collecting them when the game never displays your score? You'd think they could show it on the "game over" screen, but I guess they forgot.

And then there's the matter of the coyote actually catching the roadrunner. In the long-running cartoon, the roadrunner evaded capture for more than 50 years, yet my friend snagged that bird in ten seconds. Way to destroy a legend Chris! Oh wait - the designers of this game already beat you to it! © Copyright 2017 The Video Game Critic.

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1 player 

Desert Strike
Grade: B+
Publisher: Electronic Arts (1992)
Posted: 1999/12/21

screenshotHere's an exciting action/strategy game that was clearly inspired by the Gulf War. You pilot a helicopter in a series of missions in a desert environment, viewing the action from a three-quarter overhead perspective. From large building complexes to tiny soldiers, the graphics are realistic and well detailed.

The excellent control system makes it easy to control the helicopter. The A, B, and C buttons are assigned hellfire missiles (powerful), hydra missiles (medium), and machine guns, respectively. The Start button brings up your current status, a map, and your current objectives (no need to have the manual on hand).

Desert Strike is fun to play and requires quick thinking as well as strategy. If you go in just trying to blow everything up, you'll use up all of your ammo and wind up a sitting duck. As you take out specific targets, additional fuel and ammo become available.

There is a wide variety of missions including destroying targets, rescuing prisoners, capturing an ambassador, stopping an oil spill, and taking out SCUD launchers. Passwords allow you to save your progress after completing each mission. The difficulty ramps very gradually. Desert Strike is a very original and well-designed game. © Copyright 1999 The Video Game Critic.

Save mechanism: Save option? Password
1 player. 

Dick Tracy
Grade: B-
Publisher: Sega (1990)
Posted: 2014/8/29

screenshotI just recently discovered this vintage shooter and I'm glad I did! Dick Tracy is a stylish side-scroller with some nifty innovations. Our hero is decked out in his trademark yellow trench coat and walks in a slow, deliberate manner. On the street he's accosted by gangsters in colorful suits that can be shot (or punched) using the A button. The action seems pretty straightforward until thugs begin to fire at you from the other side of the street.

You can unload your machine gun on those goons by holding down C and directing your bullets with the directional pad. I love that! It's especially satisfying to mow down several well-dressed gangsters in a row, watching them all hit the pavement one by one. You can even damage scenery like windows and fire hydrants, and while it doesn't earn you any points, destruction of property is a heck of a lot of fun! The city stages are nicely detailed, but my favorite are the restaurant and dock locations.

The game takes place at night so that's when it's best to play. One annoyance is how locations are heavily reused. You mean I have to go trudge through that warehouse stage again?! The drawn-out boss encounters are a pain. These guys require about 20 shots to kill, and they can even fire at you when they are invincible (blinking). On top of it all, the boss stages are timed, and I've never been able to take out "Big Boy" without the clock running out first. Dick Tracy has its flaws, but I'd still recommend it on the strength of its colorful graphics and unique dual-attack gameplay. © Copyright 2014 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 81,950
1 player 

Dick Vitale's Awesome Baby College Hoops
Grade: F
Publisher: Time Warner (1994)
Posted: 2002/3/10

screenshotNobody knows basketball like Dick Vitale, but this basketball game is a disaster. Awesome Baby attempts to use a 3D rotating court (like NCAA College Basketball on the SNES) but the Genesis just isn't powerful enough to handle it. The frame rate is slow, the animation is incredibly choppy, and the action feels like it's happening in slow motion. Just trying to keep track of the blinking ball is nearly impossible.

The players don't look bad and the background features a dimly lit stadium of fans. The six-button controller is supported, but as you can imagine, it's not very responsive. The background music is more suitable for a porno flick, and Vitale's commentary is surprisingly sparse. And here's the kicker: there are NO real college teams, just a bunch of states!! That hurts. Awesome Baby is one of the worst sports games I've seen on the Genesis. "It's Awful, Baby!!!" © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.

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1 or 2 player 

Dino Land
Grade: C-
Publisher: Renovation (1991)
Posted: 2015/12/6

screenshotIt wasn't easy to track down a full copy of this Dino Land, but I figured it was worth the effort since Renovation produced so many quality titles for the Genesis. Dinosaur-themed pinball sounds awesome, and it should have been. Instead we're subjected to the cute, chubby variety of dinosaurs one step above Barney on the barf meter. If you can stomach that, you might enjoy spending some time in Dino Land. I sleepwalked through this game the first time I played before realizing the default difficulty is "biginner" (not my typo).

The main table has two sections, both with its own set of flippers. The top features rollers on the right, a slot machine on the left, and bumpers that tend to relocate. The lower section features baby dinosaurs roaming in a circle and a T-Rex head that occasionally swallows the ball. Hit enough targets and you initiate a boss stage. The boss battle occurs on a separate screen, and it's confusing as hell. Apparently you can transform your ball into a small dinosaur?

In general the progression of the game is hard to comprehend. The graphics are grainy, objects flicker, and the sound effects are muffled. As with most pinball games, the key is to get off to a good start and rack up multipliers early. Although prehistoric by today's standards, Dino Land does have a one-more-time quality that will keep you coming back. © Copyright 2015 The Video Game Critic.

Recommended variation: normal
Our high score: 1,170,100
1 or 2 players 

Disney's Pocahontas
Grade: C-
Publisher: Buena Vista Games (1996)
Posted: 2020/11/24
Rating: Kids to Adults

screenshotI played this game to learn about history. Oh I got a history lesson alright. What I learned is that this Pocahontas chick is, well, frankly kind of hot. Back in the 1600's she got into all sorts of shenanigans. If this game's portrayal is accurate, and I assume it is, she helped animals in distress to acquire their powers. For example, rescuing a deer let her run fast, and helping out an otter allowed her to swim underwater. Makes sense.

The graphics in this game boast beautiful natural scenery and some awe-inspiring animation. Animals prance around with fluid grace and it's uncanny the way Pocahantas propels herself through the water. The tranquil music is pleasant enough but may get on your nerves after it loops a few times. The game itself is a non-violent, puzzle-oriented affair. You alternate control between Pocahontas and her raccoon friend Meeko, with cooperation being key. Meeko might need to knock a rock off a ledge to give Pocahontas a step up. She in turn might need to tow Meeko across a pond on a log.

The puzzles aren't too difficult but you'll want to keep Pocahontas and Meeko in close proximity to minimize backtracking. Progress tends to be slow and the controls could be better. The jumps have a slight delay which can be infuriating at times. Also, the fluid animation tends to have an annoying slow motion quality. Fans of the film will appreciate the game's cinematic qualities but most gamers will find Pocahontas very bland. Nap-inducing even. © Copyright 2020 The Video Game Critic.

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Save mechanism: password
1 player 

Doom Troopers: Mutant Chronicles
Grade: F
Publisher: Playmates (1995)
Posted: 2024/6/25

screenshotThis obscure side-scrolling shooter is based on a 1993 pen-and-paper role playing game called Mutant Chronicles. You play a soldier taking on hordes of "dark legion mutants". I wanted to like Doom Troopers so badly! It looks awesome and its rapid-fire gameplay is cut from the same cloth as Earthworm Jim (Genesis, 1994).

The first thing that stands out about the gameplay is its excessive violence and gore. As you forge across mountainous terrain you'll blast mutants, causing their heads to explode like melons. The blood is more orange than red but still gets the point across. Sometimes these mutants convulse violently on the ground when shot, and that's pretty awesome.

Your space marine moves swiftly but when leaping between platforms the game is super unforgiving. Step too close to the edge and you slip right off! And why are the pits always lined with spikes? Who is going through all the painstaking effort to install those things? It doesn't seem like the most productive use of one's time.

The first stage is effectively ruined by an unplayable stretch toward the end. You're required to cross water by shooting enemies in the water and jumping on their floating corpses. To do this you need to jump in the air from a sinking corpse and shoot diagonally down. It's a tricky maneuver to execute once, much less four times in a row. If not for passwords I would have never seen stage two.

That's a shame because Doom Troopers contains some freaky bosses and even a sparkling snow level at night. Each stage packs a slew of secret areas to uncover, but it's all completely wasted because the playability is rock bottom. © Copyright 2024 The Video Game Critic.

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1 or 2 players 

Double Dragon
Grade: F
Publisher: Accolade (1992)
Posted: 2010/10/2

screenshotI used to love playing Double Dragon with my friends on my Atari ST computer back in the day, but this is a shoddy translation. The graphics are below average (at best) with generic urban landscapes and poorly animated characters. The game begins with a somewhat brutal opening sequence where a thug punches a hot chick in the stomach and then carries her off. Our heroes Billy and Jimmy Lee spring to the rescue armed with punches, elbows, jump kicks, and standing kicks.

Your attacks aren't very potent so thugs continually get up and re-enter the fray. The collision detection is lacking, making it hard to land jump-kicks. Occasionally you'll grab a thug and knee him in the face repeatedly, but the lousy graphics make this look more like a lewd act. The sound effects are muted and sometimes absent altogether. Even the control scheme sucks, assigning kick to A, jump to B, and punch to C.

Putting lowlifes out of their misery is a tiresome chore, and the boss encounters are especially long and repetitive. There are occasional weapons like bats and whips, but you'll drop them as soon as you take a hit, and hits are unavoidable once you're surrounded. Double Dragon was released in 1987, and its age is showing. If you're looking to get your kicks, stick with Streets of Rage. © Copyright 2010 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 21,940
1 or 2 players 

Double Dragon 3
Grade: D-
Publisher: Flying Edge (1992)
Posted: 2007/3/23

screenshotThe Double Dragon series was a huge hit on the NES, so you'd expect the Genesis edition to be a slam-dunk, right? Hell no! Not only does Double Dragon 3 pale in comparison to Streets of Rage, but it's not even as fun as the NES games! As with all Double Dragon titles, this side-scrolling brawler lets one or two players punch and kick their way through stage after stage of generic thugs, this time in locations from around the world.

Double Dragon 3's gameplay is a hapless mess, and there's minimal technique as you plow through a steady stream of oncoming foes that all look exactly the same. The Cupid-inspired Roman archers of the Italy stage look especially idiotic. Half the time enemies don't even flinch when attacked, making you wonder if you even made contact!

The punching and kicking action would be totally bland if not the ability to "buy" power-ups and special moves. Among these are the ability to perform hurricane kicks (yeah that's original) or become a homosexual giant. The only attack I truly enjoyed was the ability to stomp on a guy's head when he's down on the ground. If only it inflicted some amount of damage!

The character graphics look blurry and indistinct, and the backgrounds are remarkably lame. The opening downtown stage looks cheesy as all hell, and subsequent locations provide precious little in the way of eye candy. In the Japan and Italy stages, large trees and columns in the foreground partially block your view of the action.

The first stage does feature a catchy theme song, but the subsequent Asian-tinged tunes got on my nerves. Double Dragon 3 is a mercifully short romp, and since you get a ton of continues, the challenge is minimal. Even the most devout Double Dragon fans will find themselves nodding off after a few minutes of this garbage. © Copyright 2007 The Video Game Critic.

1 or 2 players 

Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine
Grade: A-
Publisher: Sega (1993)
Posted: 1999/10/19

screenshotThis is one of those games that didn't attract much attention when it was released, but if you get your friends playing it, they'll be at it all night. This Tetris-like game is a spin-off from the Sonic the Hedgehog series of games, in which Dr. Robotnik was the main villain. It plays like this: pairs of beans descend down the screen, and you can rotate each pair and position where they fall. If you get four beans of the same color adjacent to each other, they explode, and the result can lead to some nifty chain reactions.

This game is pure fun. The concept is so easy to grasp that anyone can pick up a controller and start playing, but when the action heats up only careful strategy will prevail. Three modes include a scenario mode and a head-to-head challenge. There's even a little tutorial to get you started. The music is excellent too. Bean Machine is the kind of game that appeals to everyone. © Copyright 1999 The Video Game Critic.

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1-2 players 

Dragon's Fury
Grade: B+
Publisher: Tengen (1992)
Posted: 2014/5/20

screenshotThis pinball game seemed awfully familiar before I realized it is a remake of Devil's Crush (Turbografx-16, 1990). Dragon's Fury is the best pinball game I've played on the Genesis. It has the "feel" of real pinball (good ball physics) yet incorporates elements that could never exist on a physical table, like an extra long design, moving targets, and six bonus mini-tables! The dark, macabre theme is conveyed using images of skeletons, monsters, sorcerers, and medieval contraptions.

The plunger looks like an overheated buzzsaw, and the centerpiece is the head of a female warrior who gradually transforms into a dragon. The effect is exciting, and once fully transformed you can hit the ball into her mouth to initiate a bonus stage. Speaking of bonus stages, these fantastic single-screen tables look like twisted works of art. In one stage the lower kickers are blinking "eyes" that the ball rolls into, and the effect is unnerving. Be sure to focus your efforts on these bonus stages, because that's where you earn the big points!

The main table features roving monks, skeletons, and baby dragons that might seem annoying but actually help circulate the ball. The flipper controls are responsive but having the nudge button assigned to A means you'll probably never use it. With only three balls the games are short but addictive. The morbid theme is compelling, and by virtue of playing for high score the replay value is pretty much unlimited. I don't think it's quite as good as Devil's Crush for the Turbografx, but Dragon's Fury is a strong, underrated Genesis title. © Copyright 2014 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 17,552,600
Save mechanism: Password
1 or 2 players 

Dragon's Revenge
Grade: C-
Publisher: Tengen (1993)
Posted: 2014/5/20

screenshotDragon's Fury (Tengen, 1992) was a remarkably well-executed pinball game with a creepy, medieval motif. This sequel on the other hand feels like a cheap knock-off. The gameplay, visuals, and sounds just aren't as compelling. Heck, even the box art is a simplified version of the Fury's cover. Still, Dragon's Revenge has its charm. An impressive intro screen features the face of Sharon Stone turning into a dragon.

Revenge has an interesting table design with more targets and variety. Since the table scrolls sideways slightly, there's more winding passages and side areas. The playing field is extremely detailed with embedded jewels and engravings, and the graphics are brighter and more crisp than Dragon's Fury. Once you launch a ball however, it's obvious that the physics is all wrong. It feels I'm hitting a rubber super ball instead of a metal one.

The female face in the center is now fully digitized, but you can't hit her directly. Instead, hitting other targets around the board inexplicably causes her to moan ("oh... ooo... yes!") I'm not sure what the deal is when she starts floating around the table. The bonus games are rendered in an oil-painting style that doesn't match the main table, and they are less edgy than the ones in Fury. They challenge you to battle a vulture, trolls on a bridge, and a freaky tree creature. I really hate how these stages are all-or-nothing affairs; you either beat them or earn nothing.

Dragon's Revenge also has its share of bugs. It's not uncommon to have the ball pass through a flipper, and the game even locked up on me once. Five balls instead of three results in much longer games, but there is a password feature. Dragon's Revenge isn't a bad looking sequel, but it pales in quality to the original. © Copyright 2014 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: SDZ 6,862,000
Save mechanism: Password
1 or 2 player 

Dynamite Duke
Grade: C+
Publisher: Sega (1990)
Posted: 2003/11/28

screenshotHere's one a lot of you might remember. The cover of the game has a photo of an Arnold look-alike with face paint and a big gun. Dynamite Duke is a "behind-the-back" shooter, similar to Nam 1975 (Neo Geo) or Cabal (NES). You move your gunner side to side across the bottom of the screen as soldiers, tanks, and helicopters shoot incredibly large, slow-moving projectiles in your direction. Your weapons are mostly semi-automatic, so you can mow down groups of bad guys at a time, giving you a nice warm feeling inside.

One odd thing about Duke is that there's a huge hole in the middle of his body that lets you see through him. Duke, that's never going to heal if you don't stop picking at it! Dynamite Duke may not have the most detailed graphics in the world, but I'll give it props for having some HUGE sprites. I also like how you can blow up much of the scenery, revealing weapons and power-ups.

While most of your time is spent dodging missiles and spraying bullets, the end-of-stage bosses provide the opportunity for some hand-to-hand action. By far, the bosses are the most difficult aspect of the game. You'll routinely roll through a whole stage without breaking a sweat, and then blow through all three continues on one boss. In close combat, Duke's punches look pretty cool, but his kicks look pathetic! If you like short, action-packed arcade games, Dynamite Duke is a fair way to pass the time. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 119340
1 player 

Dynamite Headdy
Grade: C
Publisher: Sega (1994)
Posted: 2005/11/4

screenshotI'm supposed to be enjoying this game. That's what I've been told. I'm trying, but man, Dynamite Headdy is hard for me to wrap my mind around. I had no clue what the hell was even going on in the initial "wild chase" stage. I thought I might be controlling Headdy, but seemed to have little or no bearing on events. Then I was forced to participate in several "practice" rounds designed to get me acquainted with the controls. Enough already!

Upon beginning the game in earnest, I discovered it was not unlike most platformers - just weirder. The stages take place on a theater stage loaded with colorful sets, puppets, and marionettes. It's almost carnival-like, and some of the bosses are downright freaky. Needless to say, I didn't find this style very appealing.

The main character, Headdy, is a puppet with the ability to fling his head at enemies. It's not the first time we've seen this gimmick - Decap Attack and others used it years before - but Dynamite Headdy takes the concept a step further. You can change your head often during a stage, which dramatically modifies your abilities. For example, the Spike Head lets you climb walls, Vacuum Head lets you suck in objects, Super Head speeds you up, and Empty Head makes you invincible.

It's interesting to experiment, and the game is good about providing heads appropriate for the current situation. A secondary character is "Beau", a flying face that points out the weak spots on each boss. He's useful, because this game is seriously boss-heavy. A bonus stage challenges you to knock basketballs into nets, and while it sounds like fun, I actually hated it and wanted to make it stop.

Overall, Dynamite Headdy is well programmed, with rich graphics, elaborate sound effects, and pinpoint controls. There's no slowdown, even when the action gets crazy (which is often). Genesis fans looking for something substantial will appreciate Dynamite Headdy, but I suspect most will scratch their heads in bewilderment as they reach for the Sonic cartridge. © Copyright 2005 The Video Game Critic.

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1 player 

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