Jack Nicklaus Power Challenge Golf
Publisher: Accolade (1993)
Save mechanism: battery
1 or 2 players
James Bond: The Duel
Publisher: Domark (1993)
Our high score: 313,000
James Pond II: Codename Robocod
Publisher: Electronic Arts (1991)
For some reason I've always overlooked the James Pond series. If not for a reader pointing out this was a Christmas game, I may have never given it a second look. The unlikely premise behind James Pond II is that Dr. Maybe (yeah, that's his real name) has populated Santa's toy factory with assorted baddies. The opening screen exudes holiday cheer as our fish hero approaches Santa's towering factory in a raging snowstorm. The music isn't necessarily Christmas, but it has that same festive sound. As you enter each door of the factory you explore worlds of stuffed animals, delectable treats, mechanical toys, and board games. These colorful areas are outfitted with all the standard contraptions like floating platforms, spiked pits, trampolines, and slippery slopes. James Pond defeats enemies by pouncing on them, and this is accompanied by a satisfying "snap" sound effect. James also has the ability to elongate his body to any height and grab on to the underside of certain platforms. He can't climb up on them, but he can move arm-over-arm to reposition himself. You can't always tell what platforms you can latch onto until you try. Likewise, it's hard to tell if certain walls are in the foreground or background. The best part of the game is snatching up the high-value bonus items like stars, presents, and ice cream cones. There are also alternate routes and bonus areas to discover. You can leap pretty far and certain power-ups give you the ability to fly freely around the stage. The difficulty is fair and continues are available. James Pond II: Codename Robocod is a heck of a lot of fun and even more enjoyable around the holiday season. © Copyright 2014 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 337,600
James Pond: Underwater Agent
Publisher: Electronic Arts (1991)
This game stars a cartoon fish by the name of James Pond
- an "underwater secret agent". Get it? Yeah... kind of a reach. At first the bright graphics and responsive controls had me excited. This feels like an arcade game! James can dash around quickly and can even leap out of the water to bump Mario-style blocks! The opening mission has James rescuing lobsters from cages, and it's a blast. The stage has a fun Bubble Bobble
(NES, 1988) vibe as James traps enemies in air bubbles and before popping them to reveal bonus items like carrots, flowers, umbrellas, headphones, sneakers, and other random objects. Then things get complicated. In stage two you're supposed to "escort" other fish to safety, but where you need to escort them to
is not readily apparent. I actually had to consult the manual! In the next mission you'll collect gold bars in a shipwreck while dealing with mushrooms that teleport you all over the place. Ugh. Next you need to blow up an oil rig while contending with invisible walls and crabs that latch onto you. When there's a lot of activity on the screen it's hard to tell why you're taking damage. When you touch an octopus the screen starts going black intermittently, and I could have sworn it was a bug in the game! I wanted to like James Pond with its arcade style and zany aquatic theme but I could only languish for so long. When you can't tell the features from the bugs in a game, it's time to move on. © Copyright 2019 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 592,110
Publisher: GTE (1994)
Jerry Glanville's Pigskin Footbrawl
Publisher: Sega (1992)
It would be unfair to give a high grade to such a sloppy game, but Pigskin Footbrawl is a game I wanted to like. The gameplay is more like rugby than American football, as players run, pass, and kick their way past slugging opponents. It's basically a five-on-five free-for-all. The two playing fields consist of a meadow and a coliseum, and the medieval cartoon graphics give the game a distinct personality. But although the premise of Footbrawl is great, the implementation is lacking. For one thing, you can only control a single player (can't even switch), and your guy is constantly off the screen. The field is filled with too many obstacles that are almost impossible to avoid. The animation is rough, and you have zero control during fights. I discovered that positioning your man to the endzone and waiting for a long throw is an effective (but very cheap) strategy. The voice samples ("ouch!") are repetitive and too loud. There are a few nice touches like a green troll that enters the game late to help out the losing team. Footbrawl could have used more polish, but the game can still generate some fun. © Copyright 1999 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Sega (1991)
By the name alone you might dismiss Jewel Master as just another Tetris clone similar to Columns
(Sega, 1991). In fact, Jewel Master is a side-scrolling platformer more along the lines of Rastan Saga II
(Taito, 1991). I love it! What makes the game special is how you collect magic rings which you arrange on your fingers (via the pause screen). Each hand has its own power. Various ring combinations imbue you with weapons (wave, ice, fireball) or special abilities (speed, high jump, shield). Before playing I'd advise you to alter the button configuration so the jump button is B, with left and right hand powers assigned to A and C (by default jump is C). You'll need to use your powers strategically as you creep through crumbling ruins while fending off goblins, scorpions, mudmen, and fireball-spewing statues. The layered scenery is alluring and I especially love the ivy-covered temples. The stage designs are a little repetitive but there's a nice variety of locations. You can pretty much predict where enemies will appear and thankfully they do not
respawn. What makes the game challenging is that you're relatively slow, especially compared to bosses like a pouncing cheetah or floating skeleton. You get three continues, but you always restart from the beginning of the stage, and they can be pretty long. Jewel Master is slow and methodical, but experimenting with the rings opens up a world of fun possibilities. © Copyright 2016 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 83,800
Joe Montana Football
Publisher: Sega (1990)
Joe Montana is a surprisingly entertaining title, especially considering it was Sega's first attempt at football on the Genesis. Montana Football actually looks very much like John Madden Football, except the players here look sharper. There are also fewer lulls in the action -- you can select plays and hike the ball much quicker. One very innovative feature is the passing system. When you choose to pass, you get a first-person "helmet view" of your receiver, and you use crosshairs to "lead" your throw. This is fun and it works surprisingly well. Unfortunately, you can only see one receiver at a time, which may be why the system was not used in subsequent games. As I was playing Joe Montana, its main flaw became obvious: bad AI. The computer is a really lousy opponent, dropping easy catches and missing tackles all over the place. There are 16 teams to choose from, but the options are very limited. Still, as a two player game, this isn't half bad. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.
Joe Montana II Sportstalk Football
Publisher: Sega (1991)
Montana II doesn't offer much in the way of gameplay, but it does have one cool gimmick: play-by-play announcing. That might not seem like a big deal today, but in 1993 it was monumental. I can remember when my friend Keith brought this over my house and all the guys were crowded around the TV waiting to see what the announcer would say next. The commentator is pretty good actually, although he does occasionally fall behind or repeat phrases. If you do something stupid (like attempt a 90-yard field goal) he'll say "I can't believe it!" The gameplay itself is pretty average. In this edition they went back to an old-fashioned side view of the field. It works okay but going deep is a problem since your receivers run off the screen. The players are fairly small, but when the ball is passed or handed off, the camera zooms in six times closer. This is especially helpful for runners trying to find room. Although running up the middle is still very difficult, this is one of the few Genesis football games where you can actually "break away" on a run. After each quarter or score, a great looking statistic screen is presented, complete with little graphs. Montana II lacks Madden's polished look. The players are animated fine until they are hit, at which time they immediately fall flat on their stomachs or backs, and it looks pretty stupid. The controls seem to have been intentionally designed to be different from Madden, and as a result they are not very intuitive. For example, before the play the C button switches players, but the B button performs that function during the play. The B button is supposed to choose the closet player, but rarely does. Joe Montana II isn't a great game, but it's fun to look back on. © Copyright 1999 The Video Game Critic.
John Madden Football
Publisher: Electronic Arts (1990)
This is the first edition of a series of football games that revolutionized video game sports. It features an angled vertical view of the field, giving the game a pseudo-3D look. A nice selection of actual NFL plays are at your disposal. Many of the typical moves that we all take for granted today are here, including spin, dive, jump, and hurdle. Playing this game recently, I was surprised at just how good this is. The players look cartoonish but are easy to see, and the running and passing games are well balanced. I always liked how you can control the velocity of a pass by holding down the button - brilliant. There are only 16 teams to choose from, and the game has no fancy bells or whistles like subsequent editions. When choosing plays, you also need to choose which type of players you want, including big, hands, fast, or normal. After that, you often have to wait for half the team to run off the field, and THEN wait for the substitute players to run ONTO the field! This needlessly slows down the game. The physics aren't very realistic. Players can dive for over five yards or be knocked back just as far! Passing windows are used to view your three receivers, and while these windows do indicate how open your receiver is, they do not tell you how deep he is, or how many defenders are in the vicinity. As a result, luck plays a major role in the passing game. The sound effects during the game are minimal, dominated by grunts and the "water faucet" crowd. It's a bit rough around the edges, but overall it was a great start for a classic series. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.
Save mechanism: Save option? No
Publisher: Acclaim (1995)
Our high score: 37350
Publisher: Virgin (1994)
I remember seeing Jungle Book over my friend Brendan's house back in the day. He and Steve had rented it and were playing it on a small TV in his room. I didn't pay much attention at the time but now I love it. This game is so much fun. The title screen features the jaunty banjo tune "Bear Necessities" that's sure to have you tapping your toes. You play as Mowgli, a scrawny little boy raised by a pack of wolves. Each stage challenges you to collect a certain number of red gems in the jungle before locating an end-of-stage character like Baloo the bear. Mowgli is a nimble little fellow who effortlessly climbs, swings, and leap between branches. The controls are so crisp! The jungle is crawling with dangerous animals like monkeys, snakes, wild boars, scorpions, and anteaters. Some of these creatures tend to blend in with the lush environment. Mowgli can turn them to dust by either pouncing on them or hitting them with bananas. The ability to toss bananas in a rapid-fire manner is awesome - and you can even do it while hanging on a vine! Falling into water or thorns is fatal, but you can hold down the directional pad to get a peek at what's below. The stages are short and sweet and I love the whole treasure hunting element. Many gems and other goodies are hidden or located in hard-to-reach places. Fortunately you don't need to collect all
the gems to progress. The graphics and animation are nice but not as awe-inspiring as Aladdin
(Genesis, 1993). The sound effects tend to be very scratchy and could use a little more punch. Jungle Book may not be a showcase title, but its happy-go-lucky gameplay should appeal to all ages. © Copyright 2015 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 238,190
Publisher: Electronic Arts (1993)
This is a decent sequel to EA's Desert Strike, but to be honest, it didn't hold my attention all the way through. Like the first game, you control a helicopter on a series of military missions. Jungle Strike covers much more territory than the first game, including Washington D.C., a jungle river, and a snow fortress. I was hardly impressed by the D.C. stage because the scenery was entirely too sparse - it looked like a big park! In addition to your helicopter, certain missions also allow you to control a motorbike, hovercraft, and Stealth bomber. Don't get too excited though - these new vehicles are tougher to control and ultimately not as much fun. Oh well, at least they break up the monotony. Jungle Strike takes a long time to complete. There are eight campaigns compared to four in the first game, and each has a long list of missions. Casual gamers might not go for this, but if you couldn't get enough of Desert Strike, this is the game for you. © Copyright 1999 The Video Game Critic.
Save mechanism: Save option? Password
Publisher: Sega (1993)
Save mechanism: password
Jurassic Park: Rampage Edition
Publisher: Universal (1994)
As if trying to make up for the shortcomings of the original Jurassic Park Genesis game, this "Rampage Edition" was a quick follow-up. The game begins with a stage select screen - always a welcome feature. You can start at the docks, the aviary, or in the savannah where you ride on back of a galloping dinosaur (who is not
named Yoshi for once). For some reason the game pits you against armed soldiers - as if the dinosaurs weren't enough, right? I'm surprised by the way they altered the graphic style for this game, giving all characters and objects black outlines. I guess it's supposed to make them stand out more, but it looks less realistic - and a little cheesy. The controls are very responsive and the animation is smooth. The only thing missing is the ability to grab onto ledges, and it's sorely missed. Your weapon arsenal includes electric zappers, grenades, machine guns, and flamethrowers. Yes, you can
kill the dinosaurs this time. Jurassic Park Rampage Edition is the kind of game that drives me crazy. It has all the necessary building blocks but doesn't put them together right. Like the first game, areas tend to "wrap around" on themselves in a confusing manner. Enemies can absorb a crazy
number of shots before going down (even on the easy level). On the aviary screen you'll be making excellent progress only to have a pterodactyl snatch you up and carry you all the way back to the beginning of the stage! That wouldn't be so bad if all your enemies hadn't regenerated! Otherwise the action is fast and fun, and there are plenty of checkpoints and hidden areas. Jurassic Park Rampage Edition is better than the original game in some respects, but worse in others. Overall I'd say it's a wash. © Copyright 2012 The Video Game Critic.
Recommended variation: Easy
Jurassic Park: The Lost World
Publisher: Sega (1997)
Rating: Kids to Adults
This game was released late in the Genesis life cycle, making it a pretty rare title. Unlike the first two Jurassic Park Genesis games, this is an overhead, free-roaming adventure. It sounds a lot like the SNES Jurassic Park game, but this one looks far more realistic. If only it were more fun. You start by wandering around a savannah surrounded by heavy brush. Hitting the start button brings up a "web site". Yes, this was an early attempt to emulate the world wide web in a game. Apparently one of the developers thought the Internet was actually going to amount to something someday (idiot). This fake web site contains email messages, a map, and the all-important "dino facts" (hurrah). I like how the missions branch, but every one felt like a tedious wild goose chase. Typically you must rescue some poor schmuck by blasting obstacles and disabling electronic generators. Each time you encounter an electric field you have to scour the area to locate its power generator, and it's usually the furthest possible distance from your current location. Every stage feels like a maze, and don't get me started about these pesky dinosaurs. They aren't particularly aggressive, but your weapons are so freakin' weak
that you can't get rid of them! Even with a machine gun you'll barely chip away at the health of a small dinosaur. The action is tediously slow, and it just gets slower with more activity on the screen. I was hoping Lost World might be a hidden gem but this is one Jurassic Park game best forgotten. © Copyright 2012 The Video Game Critic.
Justice League Task Force
Publisher: Sunsoft (1995)
From the name itself, few people would guess this is a superhero fighting game. Heck, Justice League Task Force sounds more like some boring government commission! But the thing that really struck me about the game is just how incredibly mediocre
it is. Having been released well after the 2D fighter boom, you would at least
expect this to be as good as Eternal Champions, but it's not even close. The game combines run-of-the-mill graphics with second-rate gameplay and minimal sound. The main attraction is your ability to fight as Superman, Batman, Green Arrow, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, or the Flash. Unfortunately, Task Force was made at a time when DC Comics had made a few ill-advised changes to the look of the characters. Superman and Aquaman have long, flowing hair that makes them look more like Fabio than superheroes, and Green Arrow looks like a complete ass in that Robin Hood outfit. Also included are three villains I've never heard of: Cheetah, Desperdo, and Darkseid. The backgrounds are static, and with the exception of Batman's Gotham City, are extremely uninteresting. The gameplay is equally uninspired. The special moves aren't very special, and the collision detection is suspect at times. The sound effects are terribly muffled, and the low, rumbling background music is barely audible. If not for its famous cast of characters, Justice Task Force would have been a complete bust. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Sega (1992)
Publisher: Sega (1993)
I remember my friend Tuan and I planned a big fishing trip in the early 90's, and we spent the night before playing this game for hours. King Salmon may not have great sound or graphics, but the gameplay will have you hooked! Until Sega Bass Fishing (Dreamcast) came out, this was easily the most fun fishing game I had played. The main reason is the game is so easy to play. After checking the weather, you drive your boat around a lake looking for a good spot. After choosing a strategic area, you get a closer view which provides a nice view of schools of fish in the water. By dragging your lure through the fish (trolling), you wait to get a bite. An easy-to-use menu allows you to change your lure, depth, or line. When you finally hook a fish, the fight sequence is suspenseful and exciting. The fighting screen is plain, but clearly displays what's going on. Sometimes a timely event will occur, such as your hook getting stuck on a piece of wood, or the fish making a zigzag run. You are then given three choices of how to react. Make the wrong decision and the line could snap or the fish could escape. When you finally pull in a fish, you'll see a nice picture of it on the scale. Each catch improves your ability and skill level. This game is simple but addictive! The music is awesome, and that's a good thing because it plays nonstop! If you do catch enough fish, you progress to a new lake. You can save your progress using a password feature. Don't hesitate to give King Salmon a try. © Copyright 1999 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 23165
King of the Monsters
Publisher: Takara (1991)
King of the Monsters 2
Publisher: Takara (1993)
A huge improvement over the original, King of the Monsters 2 is a much deeper game with a slew of new monsters and stages. Now there are nine creatures in all, three from the previous game and six bizarre new creations. Actually, bizarre is an understatement. Some of these things have so many appendages, eyes, and teeth sticking out all over that you can't tell the head from the tail! Claw Head is certainly nightmare inducing, but others like Aqua Slug look like a shapeless mess. Initially the graphics look about the same quality as King of the Monsters, but as you move your creature around you'll notice it rotates
to keep facing his opponent, which looks terrific. The control scheme has changed a lot, mostly for the better. Now you can hold back to block Street Fighter-style, and there are special moves which also employ the standard joystick movements. Thankfully, monsters are now defeated when their life meter is drained completely, and they no longer need to be "pinned". The nine stages provide plenty of variety in terms of color, but the scenery isn't as interesting as the first game. The cities look fine but the Grand Canyon and ocean floor stages are pretty sparse. Small wandering creatures have been added to spice things up, but these tend to be annoying and rarely impact the contests. It's no classic, but King of the Monsters 2 does a good job of addressing the shortcomings of its predecessor. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.
Krusty's Super Fun House
Publisher: Flying Edge (1992)
A platform game starring an unlikeable, obnoxious clown might sound
like a good idea, but... uh, scratch that - it's an awful
idea! Loosely based on The Simpsons television show, Fun House combines the mindless action of a generic platformer with the tedium of a strategy game. Each stage is a room with stacked blocks, twisting pipes, underground passages, and hidden areas. You'll hop between platforms, toss rocks at snakes, and kick pink blocks to reveal bonus items. Purple rats scamper around each room, and by strategically placing items you can guide the mindless vermin to a "rat crusher" machine (that's nice). The puzzle element reminds me of Lemmings, and at first it seems to be the game's saving grace. Unfortunately, once you get the hang of it, the game becomes a monumental pain in the ass! You need to manipulate multiple items to complete each stage, but you can only carry one at a time. Worse yet, it's possible to work yourself into a no-win situation, leaving no choice but to kill yourself by placing Krusty under dripping water
. Need I say more? The level designs are dull, and all the vivid colors in the world can't atone for the extreme lack of imagination. In most games hidden areas reveal fun bonuses, but here they actually contain items critical to completing the level! And just when you thought you couldn't be more miserable, the atrocious circus music will push you to the brink of madness! The Simpson's license is completely wasted here, as other characters appear only as static images - sometimes as posters on the wall! C'mon man!!
I don't know who thought Krusty's Fun House was a good idea, but they need to have their heads examined. © Copyright 2010 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 33,080
Lakers Vs. Celtics
Publisher: Electronic Arts (1990)
Publisher: Sony (1993)
Based on the disappointing film by the same name, Last Action Hero is an example of how not
to craft a side-scrolling beat-em-up. This is so bad, I don't think a review can do it justice. The lead character (Arnold Schwarzenegger) looks so out-of-shape, he resembles Al Bundy from the old show Married with Children! In the opening street stage red crosshairs inexplicably swarm the screen before thugs emerge with knives and baseball bats. Your punches and kicks are so delayed you end up taking mandatory hits left and right. Your "jumping split" attack would be more appropriate for Jean Claude Van Damme (who incidentally made a cameo in the film). Occasionally several slow-moving bullets
drift across the screen for you to avoid. Would you believe I once died when I jumped into the air and landed
on a passing bullet? If you survive the street level you'll enter the school to fight goons tossing molotov cocktails. It's fun to kick in doors, but don't be quick to move on, because often a health item will appear a few seconds after
clearing an area. The scenery has a grainy, semi-digitized look with splashes of color. The stage layouts are repetitive however, and sometimes you're required to jump onto a platform completely out of view. The sound effects are muffled and the twangy looping music sounds like the Country Bear Jamboree. Considering the game was released in 1993, there is really no excuse. My friend Chris is a big fan of the movie, yet even he admitted he "could not die fast enough". © Copyright 2015 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 11050
Publisher: Sega (1989)
Last Battle was released at the dawn of the 16-bit era when character size was more important than gameplay. Last Battle's shallow kicking and punching action reminds me of Black Belt
(Sega Master System, 1986). Your shirtless warrior Aarzak sashays around like he's wearing high heels, and doesn't adjust his posture when he kicks. It looks like he's auditioning for the Rockettes
for crying out loud! He encounters hooded, sword-wielding goons that fall from the sky and rise from the ground. The collision detection (or lack of) is comical at times. All you have to do is touch one of these guys and they launch off the screen like they're wearing freaking jet packs
. Your kicks and punches can knock down incoming projectiles like knives and axes. Wouldn't that hurt your hand? One thing I like about Last Battle is its branching stages. The moonlit desert villages look very nice with their layers of stone archways. Unfortunately you're also subjected to trap-laden dungeons with rolling boulders, shooting flames, and worst of all, dead ends. For the novice player a stage like this is a death sentence. Some bosses are damn near impossible, like that short ugly dude with green breath. The text dialog is unintentionally hilarious when Aarzak yells stuff like "I am the only one who can save the world!" Does this guy have an ego or what? And when Aarzak discovers a guy encased in concrete, he exclaims "I want you to help me!" Uh, I think that guy needs your
help more! Last Battle was originally based on the First of the North Star anime series, which may explain some of its quirks. In retrospect those quirks are what make the game worth playing. © Copyright 2019 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 51000
Leader Board Golf
Publisher: US Gold (1992)
Save mechanism: battery
1 to 4 players
Publisher: Konami (1993)
Recommended variation: normal
Our high score: 5,210
1 or 2 players
Lethal Enforcers II: Gun Fighters
Publisher: Konami (1994)
Recommended variation: normal
Our high score: 2440
1 or 2 players
Publisher: Koei (1993)
Save mechanism: Battery
Publisher: Sega (1992)
Our high score: 375600