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

Genesis Reviews Sn-Sz

Grade: C-
Publisher: Renovation (1991)
Posted: 2020/5/15

screenshotThis began as a Sega CD project only to be ported to the Genesis pretty much intact. Maybe that should have told Sega something! Sol-Deace is a by-the-numbers side-scrolling shooter with bland colors and weak audio. The lackluster opening stage features a space junkyard and it's really hard to differentiate legitimate enemies from floating debris. So I can destroy all these fierce space demons with one shot but can't put a dent in these floating car doors?

Your ship fires rapidly and letting off the trigger lets you modify your cannon configuration. You can spray your shots when dealing with small pods or concentrate your fire forward against a boss. In theory changing on the fly provides some strategy, but in practice things are usually too hectic to stop shooting. Many enemies have long limbs that are difficult to avoid. The developers were clearly proud of their ability to rotate objects, so stage two features a lot of twirling robotic arms. That explains the freaky dancing robots and the one doing a split!

The third stage takes place in front of a bright sun backdrop which makes it hard to see what's happening in the foreground. The best aspect of the game is collecting power-ups and seeing how much firepower you can amass. Unfortunately losing a ship reverts you all the way back to the standard peashooter. The audio has a muffled quality and the music is tuneless. Sol-Deace was released for the Sega CD as Sol-Feace (Sega CD, 1991) and much like the name, the difference is minimal. © Copyright 2020 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 47,153
1 player 

Soldiers of Fortune
Grade: B
Publisher: Spectrum Holybyte (1993)
Posted: 2004/2/6

screenshotSoldiers of Fortune delivers the kind of arcade-style, two-player shooting action that I like. You can choose from one of six unique combat-hardened veterans, each with his own brand of firepower and special abilities. The arcade graphics are cartoonish but well defined, and the techno soundtrack is fantastic.

The object is to shoot your way through multi-tiered labyrinths stocked with monsters, items, and electric "nodes" you need to activate. The monsters include beetles, golems, and lizard men, most of which shoot very slow projectiles. A cautious approach is recommended however, because monsters can appear in front of you from out of nowhere, which indicates poor design in my opinion.

Another problem is that when you die in the two-player game, you can't rejoin the action immediately and have to wait a little while. Between stages you can power-up your soldier and purchase items. Although designed for two players, Soldiers of Fortune provides a CPU partner if you need him, and the one-player experience is arguably more fun. I was a little apprehensive about Soldiers of Fortune, but once I started playing, I couldn't pull myself away. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.

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Our high score: 5990
1 or 2 players 

Sonic & Knuckles
Grade: B+
Publisher: Sega (1994)
Posted: 2014/3/16

cartridgeThe Sonic & Knuckles cartridge has an unusual shape due to its innovative "lock-on" technology. In addition to functioning as a stand-alone Sonic game with two playable characters, the cartridge lets you stack on Sonic the Hedgehog 2 or 3, giving you the ability to play as Knuckles in those games. Sonic and Knuckles represents the last of the great 2D Sonic games. You can expect vibrant stages, pin-point controls, toe-tapping music, and a ton of play value.

The opening Mushroom Hill stage offers inviting Autumn colors and the Lava Reef stages harkens back to the Marble zone of Sonic 1. Other stages like the Flying Battery are less memorable, and Sandopolis is downright aggravating with its repetitive paths, converging ghosts, and annoying timers. The addition of Knuckles the Echidna is the best aspect of the game. This red creature has the ability to glide, climb, and break through walls by touching them. In fact, the stages seem specifically designed with Knuckles in mind.

The frenetic gameplay will keep you on your toes, but the pacing is often disrupted by annoying hazards like vines that ensnare you and chickens that blow you into spikes. Eggman does not play a role in all boss encounters; you'll sometimes face a robot (like a giant hand) or magical creature (like a sand golem). The bonus stages are mostly rehashes, and the new "electric ball" stage is confusing. There are times when Sonic & Knuckles feels like leftover odds and ends from the original trilogy, but I still enjoyed it.

So what's it like to use Knuckles in Sonic 2 and 3? Pretty awesome actually! Knuckles actually takes over the title screen in Sonic 2, and his ability to climb tall walls lets you reach previous unexplored areas. In the more "open" stages like Emerald Island, Hilltop, and Oil Ocean, you can use him to climb to a high point and glide over much of the stage. I was able to get through the Casino Zone in record time.

The lock-on function works great, but it's no surprise the concept never really caught on. Not only does it require a lot of planning ahead, but you have to be pretty confident the franchise is going to be around long enough to support it! The technology may go down as a footnote in video game history, but I love how Sonic & Knuckles breathes new life into two old favorites. © Copyright 2014 The Video Game Critic.

Recommended variation: Knuckles
Our high score: 13,100
1 player 

Sonic 3D Blast
Grade: D

screenshotSonic the Hedgehog rode to success on a string of stellar 2D titles, but in 1996 the world was changing. 3D polygons were superseding 2D sprites, and it was time for this hedgehog to evolve. Enter 3D Blast, which is the most technically superior 16-bit Sonic... and least fun! The intro features a full-motion video, which was unheard of on a 16-bit machine. It's pixelated as hell but still a sight to behold. The game itself employs 2D objects rendered to have an amazing pseudo-3D appearance.

The Marble Madness-inspired zones are multi-tiered platforms with angular hills and valleys. To complete each stage you'll free little birds by pouncing on robotic animals. These cartoonish creatures include bumblebees, alligators, monkeys, crabs, and penguins. After gathering the birds you deposit them in a basketball-like hoop. Impressive bonus stages let you run on rickety bridges over lava. The game sounds like a blast, but after a few seconds of play it's clear that something is wrong. Your momentum is way too strong, making the controls feel slippery and imprecise. Add in unforgiving collision detection and a lack of depth perception, and you have a recipe for disaster.

Even the simple act of pouncing on a hovering bee becomes an exercise in frustration as you frantically hop around the general area. I like how you can't fall off platforms, but sometimes you'll need to hop between small floating blocks, which is painful. The new traps and mechanisms are aggravating. I hate bouncing on trampolines on the side of hills, and Sonic's new "twirl" move makes him look like a freakin' ballerina. There goes his street cred!

3D Blast is just plain tedious at times, especially when you find yourself wandering in circles, searching for the last robot. The first two stages are tolerable thanks to their modest difficulty but the fun hits a wall in the "spring stadium" zone. It's hard to tell where you can or can't go in this hideous red and yellow nightmare. The lack of fun is palpable as you get bounced between bumpers and tossed onto beds of spikes. Most people will quit at this point, which is a shame considering a scenic snow zone is right around the corner. The soundtrack is kind of cheesy and there's no save feature. I can understand what Sega was trying to do with Sonic 3D Blast, but that doesn't make it any easier to stomach. © Copyright 2013 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 148,900
1 player 

Sonic Spinball
Grade: C
Publisher: Sega (1993)
Posted: 2011/1/17

screenshotI remember when Sonic Spinball was first released more or less as a stop-gap measure to tide gamers over until Sonic 3. Spinball's flashy intro shows Sonic gliding over water while approaching an ominous mountain shaped like Dr. Eggman. Once the actual game begins however, those vibrant 3D effects give way to a bland, flat sewer stage. Each "pinball table" consists of similar-looking areas connected via a confusing network of tubes.

Sonic feels lethargic due to controls that lack the crisp, responsive feel fans are accustomed to. Sonic can walk over certain platforms, but most of the time he's bouncing around while tucked into a ball. This game lacks the speed of real pinball, so Sonic feels floaty, and sometimes seems to move in slow motion! The idea is to hit switches and activate doors to make the chaos emeralds accessible. Upon gathering all three you'll engage in an easy boss battle.

Sonic Spinball is repetitive and confusing. It's hard to grasp the stage layouts and your objectives are never clear. Trial and error is the order of the day as you use the flippers to propel Sonic all over the place, nudging him on rare occasions. Many targets are annoying "warps" that have Sonic moving in circles. The collision detection is lousy, as it's not uncommon to see Sonic pass part-way through the flipper.

Despite its technical shortcomings, Spinball is somewhat addictive. Whether you're trying to complete the game or just play for high score, the challenge is substantial. Spinball also packs a hidden surprise in the form of mini-pinball bonus stages. Not only are its screen-sized boards simple and fun, but their smooth animation and crisp controls make the main game look shabby by comparison! Sonic Spinball doesn't lend itself to quick games, so the lack of a save option or password is glaring. The music sounds so generic, you'll swear you've heard it in another Genesis game. I love the blue hedgehog as much as the next gamer, but this Sonic title reeks of mediocrity. © Copyright 2011 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 28,971,590
1 player 

Sonic Winter Adventures
Grade: NA
Publisher: Vladikcomper (2013)
Posted: 2024/1/21

boxAfter creating a series of wildly popular Sonic games for the Genesis, Sega forsakened the 2D formula in favor of endless 3D offerings of various quality. These new games lacked the exuberant spirit of the originals, leaving fans pining for the classic style. While Sega was sitting on its hands, fans took it upon themselves to create their own 2D Sonics. Sonic Winter Adventures is an example of what Sega should have been doing all along.

It's easy to dismiss Winter Adventures as a simple hack of Sonic 1, but it's far more than a color palette swap. Much is new, including frosty winter stages, toe-tapping music, and challenging bosses. Sonic can even perform new moves like an air-dash and the homing attack introduced by the 3D games. The new music is quite cheery and faithful to the style of the original game.

The three "Ice Island" stages are bathed in an attractive blue hue, with frozen palm trees and gently-falling snowflakes. The gorgeous backgrounds consist of layers of glaciers and ice floes. Like the Green Hill zone it's based upon, these are great for both exploration and speed runs. There's a lot to discover and the new moves make it easier to reach high places.

Those three stages are followed by the first act of the Marble Zone, which is pretty much like the normal Sonic stage with some tweaks. The new moves really alter how you play it. The jump-dash can get you into a lot of trouble but it can also bail you out on occasion. The homing attack actually works better in 2D than the 3D it was designed for.

Sonic Winter Adventures is a joy to play but not without its flaws. The slowdown is substantial and some of the levels have an annoying tendency to keep you looping back to previous sections. The multi-staged boss encounters are exhausting. The very first boss is crazy hard, and the fight against Sonic's twin feels like a marathon.

It may not be up to Sega standards but this is still fun to pull out on a snow day. The cartridge comes in a clear shell filled with "snow", and the case and manual are professional grade. Sonic Winter Adventures feels like DLC for the original Sonic game. For those pining for more classic hedgehog, this may really hit the spot. © Copyright 2024 The Video Game Critic.

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Our high score: 43,100
1 player 

Sonic the Hedgehog
Grade: A
Publisher: Sega (1991)
Posted: 2014/2/23

screenshotHas there ever been a game as instantly playable and supremely enjoyable as Sonic the Hedgehog? Designed to be Sega's answer to Nintendo's Super Mario Bros., Sonic made a huge splash. You're still jumping between platforms and pouncing on enemies, but Sonic is bigger, better-looking, and much faster! The opening stage is the easy, breezy Green Hill zone, which is remarkably pleasing to the eye. The tropical vegetation and amazing waterfall backdrops make you feel eager to explore. The degree of detail is commendable with flowers that dance in the sun and platforms that dip slightly under the weight of your landing.

The sense of speed is exhilarating as you bound around loops and roll through winding tunnels at breakneck speeds. Patient gamers can explore alternate paths and search for hidden areas, but the old adage "curiosity killed the hedgehog" does apply. The one-button controls are simple, responsive, and forgiving. Still, I'm not crazy about the rolling spin attack, which is awkward to execute and not very useful. Holding a single ring will shield you from most dangers, and trying to collect 100 rings to earn a free life is always a fun challenge.

Dr. Robotnik (aka Eggman) is a memorable villain. Having transformed animals into robots, he provides Sonic with an army of imaginative adversaries like mechanical bees, fish, crabs, and bats. During each boss encounter Eggman shows up in a different mechanical contraption. If Sonic prevails, he hops on a metal container to release imprisoned animals like chicks and bunnies. The game consists of six zones with three acts each.

The second stage (Marble zone) forces you to take a slower, more deliberate approach as you traverse lava-filled ruins. The Spring Yard zone has a pinball vibe as Sonic bounces between bumpers and flippers. The Labyrinth zone is a water-filled chamber which forces you to gulp air bubbles every so often. Its slow-motion water effects were groundbreaking for their time, but the zone feels a little slow and tedious now. The flashy Star Light zone and industrial Scrap Brain zone are more uptempo, but frequent drop-offs can cause you to deplete lives quickly.

Psychedelic bonus rounds challenge you to snag gems while bouncing around a rotating maze, and collecting all six gems is necessary to truly finish the game. Sonic's music is sensational. Each stage has its own catchy, multi-track theme song, and these add another dimension to the fun. There's no password feature but you can earn continues along the way. Sonic the Hedgehog set a standard for platformers so high that even he would struggle to surpass it. © Copyright 2014 The Video Game Critic.

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Our high score: 94,720
1 player 

Sonic the Hedgehog 2
Grade: A

screenshotThe first game was a hard act to follow, but Sonic the Hedgehog 2 adds interesting elements that push the fun to new heights. The title screen introduces Sonic's new sidekick, a fox named Tails. Tails actually has two tails - an unfortunate byproduct of living too close to a nuclear reactor. In theory Tails can be controlled by a second player, but it's hard to keep him on the screen. Sonic is now armed with a "spin-dash" move that lets him "rev up" before taking off like a bullet. It's a huge step up from the rolling spin attack of the first game. In fact, you'll wonder how you ever got along without it!

Sonic 2 offers ten zones with two acts each. The Emerald zone follows closely in the footsteps of the Green Hill zone from the first game, with inviting vegetation and shimmering water that reflects the clouds and mountains in the distance. If you liked the loops in the first game, wait until you get a load of the corkscrews in Sonic 2! The Chemical Plant is an industrial-themed zone with a striking red skyline, and the gorgeous Aquatic Zone depicts flooded ancient ruins. The difficulty is low and the zones are short, so it's not hard to make considerable progress.

One exciting new addition are the half-pipe bonus stages which were positively jaw-dropping in their time. Although the 3D graphics are somewhat chunky, they still make you feel like you're on a rollercoaster as you gather rings while avoiding bombs. The excellent musical score meets the lofty standards set by the first game.

The co-op aspect was a nice thought, but in practice the fast action doesn't lend itself to that kind of gameplay. If a second player isn't around, the CPU takes control of Tails to a very minimal extent. Unhelpful and distracting, he may even contribute to the occasional slow-down.

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 also includes a split-screen "racing" mode but its visuals are distorted (smushed) and frankly it's nothing to write home about. Sonic 2 isn't quite as polished as the original game, with occasional graphical and collision glitches (I once got stuck in the Chemical Plant). Still, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 packs more fun and imagination that most 2D platformers can only dream of. © Copyright 2014 The Video Game Critic.

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Our high score: 136,1100
1 or 2 players 

Sonic the Hedgehog 3
Grade: A-
Publisher: Sega (1994)
Posted: 2014/3/16

screenshotSonic the Hedgehog 3 opens with an impressive title screen rendered in the pseudo-3D style of Donkey Kong Country. It might not seem like a big deal now, but back in the day my friends were freaking out when they saw that thing! Before you begin you're prompted to select one of six battery-backed-up save slots. Considering the previous two Sonic games offered no way to save your progress (not even a password), this was a pretty big deal. You also have the option to play as Sonic, Tails, or both (second player can control Tails). The ability of Tails to helicopter in the air provides a unique experience, and even the boss battles are different!

Sonic 3 tries to incorporate a storyline of sorts, with an opening scene that introduces Knuckles the Echidna after Sonic and Tails crash-land onto Angel Island. This island is a lush, tropical paradise that Dr. Robotnik soons transforms into a raging inferno (we can't have nice things!). The stages are gorgeous and I like how they flow into each other. Still, stages like Hydrocity and Marble Gardens feel a little repetitive, and sometimes you don't know if you need to move left or right. The fact that there are arrows pointing the way in some areas is never a good sign!

New gadgets like spinning tops are kind of confusing, as are the new enemies disguised as spikes. There's a tricky encroaching wall sequence in Hydrocity zone that can cause you to lose all of your lives if you're not careful. Sonic 3 doesn't feel very long, but the difficulty is up there and it's hard to rack up points.

The exploratory aspect of the game is terrific thanks to multitudes of alternate routes and hidden areas that really enhance the replay value. New power-ups let Sonic become a fireball, attract rings, or be encased in a bubble. These are great - while they last, which is usually not long. The new bonus stages let you run around a large sphere while gathering blue balls and avoiding red ones. While certainly challenging, these stages are not visually impressive and kind of annoying.

The two-player split-screen head-to-head mode has been "fixed" so the distortion is gone, but it's still kind of meh. Sonic the Hedgehog 3 delivers the same tried-and-true gameplay we love, but it was starting to become clear that the developers were running short on ideas. © Copyright 2014 The Video Game Critic.

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Our high score: 28,600
Save mechanism: Battery
1 or 2 players 

Space Harrier II
Grade: D
Publisher: Sega (1989)
Posted: 2011/12/21

screenshotIn this quirky sci-fi shooter you're a guy in a jetpack flying over a checkerboard planet surface. Not only do you blast creatures that approach from the horizon, but you'll need to dodge indestructible obstacles like pillars and trees. A game like Space Harrier 2 makes heavy use of sprite scaling - not one of the Genesis' strengths. The first few stages play well enough because enemies scale in slowly and unleash giant blue rings that are easy to avoid. It's a good strategy to keep moving around the screen to stay out of harm's way.

As the stages progress however the action becomes more hectic and the hardware struggles to keep up. Increased on-screen activity takes its toll on the frame-rate and animation, and there are times when you can barely tell what's going on. When that happens you just keep moving and shooting and hope for the best. The lack of an auto-fire feature forces you to tap the fire button incessantly, which takes its toll on your wrist.

Space Harrier 2 boasts a wide variety of random foes including robots, jellyfish, crabs, stone heads, flying saucers, three-headed turtles, and dragons. I like having the option of selecting the starting stage. The audio is pretty weak. The keyboard music sounds muffled, and some of these dismal tunes sound like something you'd hear at a first grade recital. After taking a hit your guy unleashes a high-pitched shriek that sounds almost comical. Sega did its best to bring the Space Harrier experience home, but I think the system was in a little over its head. © Copyright 2011 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 2,540,200
1 player 

Grade: D
Publisher: Konami (1994)
Posted: 2021/3/6

screenshotThis sequel to Rocket Knight Adventures (Konami, 1993) is quite rare but don't go breaking your piggy bang just yet. The original game was a sharp-looking platformer but its novel "blast off" mechanics left something to be desired. Sparkster begins with an epic giant-sized Rock'em-Sock'em robot battle. Like much of the game, it's more eye candy than quality gameplay. Once the game begins in earnest it resembles a Sonic title with its bright blue skies, green meadows, and ornate ruins.

Sparkster's graphics are quite good. So good in fact that it's hard to absorb all the detail. The three buttons allow you to jump, attack with your sword, or engage your thrusters. It's easier to perform a diagonal rocket thrust this time, but the controls are still far from intuitive. Sparkster's maze-like stages will have you bouncing around a lot, and even when you shoot straight up you're likely to hit your head on some off-screen structure. Rocketing along the ground lets you bash enemies and rocks, but it's hard to tell who's taking the brunt of the damage.

The stages are far too long, wearing out their welcome with one boss encounter after the next. First you're fighting some big drill, then a bomb-tossing tree, and then some Eggman buzzing around in a flying saucer. It's exhausting. During many of these battles you're confined to tight quarters, leaving little room to avoid raining bombs. In the desert stage you can't tell which holes you're supposed to fall into or which ones spell instant death. Fans of the first game will likely appreciate Sparkster's quirky nature and unbridled inventiveness. For newcomers however the aggravation outweighs any entertainment value. © Copyright 2021 The Video Game Critic.

Save mechanism: password
1 player 

Grade: B+

screenshotI've played some strange Spider-Man games but this one get the tone just right. Our hero is realistically-proportioned and I love the fast, fluid animation as he swings across the screen on his web. The stages form a story as you face a long list of villains including Dr. Octopus, Lizard, Electro, Hobgoblin, Sandman, Venom, and finally, the Kingpin.

You begin on a city street where you save an old lady from a mugger. So why is that policeman attacking me? Next you find yourself in a warehouse with rats the size of cats! You'll defeat henchmen with punches, low kicks, and shooting web. Your jumps are pleasantly floaty. As you work your way up the floors you'll learn how to crawl on walls and ceilings. It's tricky at first. Upon reaching the roof you're treated to a nice view of the city skyline.

The stages are so well-designed you feel like you're playing a comic book. They make sense too, as you'll find the Lizard in the sewers and Electro at the power plant. Each stage has a distinctive atmosphere, and most contain alternate routes and hidden areas.

Spider-Man does have its frustrations. On the first screen it's not obvious you need to crawl into a particular window to proceed. In the warehouse bad guys sometimes fire bullets non-stop in a narrow area, knocking you back when you attempt to get through. In the sewers you take damage from touching the green sludge, and you're constantly getting knocked into it.

But the game is highly innovative. On the pause screen start you can toggle between your shooting web, a web shield, or a camera that lets you take pictures of the screen. I love how you can see your "spider sense" going off when a boss is near. Make it to the end of the stage and you'll be reimbursed for snapshots of the villains.

Unlimited continues help you get the patterns down. You can also quit out of any level to rest in your apartment to recuperate health. The instruction booklet even includes a little comic section. If you're patient enough to master the controls, this Spider-Man adventure does the franchise justice. © Copyright 2024 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 8500
1 player 

Spider-Man/Venom: Maximum Carnage
Grade: B-
Publisher: Acclaim (1994)
Posted: 2021/9/25

screenshotNot highly-regarded in its time, Maximum Carnage has been getting a lot more love in recent years. This old-fashioned beat-em-up lets you play as Spider-Man and Venom in over 22 (!) action-packed stages. The game boasts non-linear gameplay and some gorgeous comic book-style intermissions.

Carnage also manages to incorporate a huge supporting cast including villains like Doppelganger, Shriek, Carrion, and Morbius. Heroes like Captain America can be called in to apply strategic hits.

Unlike older Spider-Man games, Maximum Carnage gets the look just right, with vibrant graphics and well-proportioned characters that make it look like a comic book come to life. The animation is uncommonly smooth, and I love how you can hoist enemies over your head and hurl them into oncoming thugs. The super-responsive controls are almost enough to make you overlook the game's repetitive nature.

It's easy to get the wrong idea about this game because its first two stages are unimpressive to say the least. The game begins as a mindless beat-em-up on a generic city street with the same clones returning over and over. You're required to backtrack through the same area several times for no apparent reason.

In the second stage "Climb" you're expected to scale two buildings while avoiding deadly laser beams fired from offscreen. As if the beams coming from out of nowhere aren't cheap enough, swinging between the buildings is hard to grasp. If you're not proficient with the controls, you'll fritter away every last life in a hurry.

That's a shame, because after that the game really opens up. You eventually have the option to play Venom who can beat thugs down with his oversized fist. You'll face a wide assortment of villains and there are surprises at every turn. Sometimes you'll think you're defeated only to be rescued by another hero and whisked off to a new location.

It may seem strange for a game that stars two characters, but Carnage is one-player only. The audio is weaker than the SNES version, with twangy music and muffled sound effects. I dislike how the game displays "1 life" when in fact you're on your last life. The lack of a password is a bit more forgivable when you understand just how non-linear the game is.

Maximum Carnage seems shallow at a glance but grows on you over time. You gain an appreciation the further you advance, experiencing all the various twists and turns of the story. Apparently this was good enough to merit a sequel called Venom/Spider-Man: Separation Anxiety (Acclaim, 1995). © Copyright 2021 The Video Game Critic.

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Our high score: 42,410
1 player 

Splatterhouse 2
Grade: B
Publisher: Namco (1992)
Posted: 2013/4/4

screenshotThe original Splatterhouse (Turbografx-16, 1990) was a gory hash-n-slash side-scroller. Parents hated it and kids loved it. Splatterhouse 2 expands upon the premise by incorporating more stages, creepy special effects, amazing bosses, and a much-needed password mechanism. The developers were clearly influenced by classic horror flicks like Friday the 13th, Halloween, Hellraiser, and Nightmare on Elm Street.

The intro sets the mood nicely as a camera pans over a stormy countryside as a dark mansion slowly moves into view. You begin outside of the house, and it's clear that these ghouls have not been keeping up with their yard work. As monsters approach you can literally punch them in half, and it does wonders for the self esteem (yours - not theirs). Most ghouls look like walking masses of quivering muscle and come in a delightful assortment of shapes and colors.

There's no shortage of splattering blood and guts, but it tends to be green, so parents shouldn't have an issue with it. Splatterhouse 2 lets you do stuff you rarely get to do in real life, like bludgeon an alien with a giant dinosaur bone. The first boss arrives early in the form of an obese creature that spews green acid. He's followed by the obligatory elevator stage, and this is where things start to get a little repetitive.

You gradually figure out how to defeat each creep, but their attacks tend to nickel and dime your life bar. By the time you encounter a boss (like that hideous giant face) you're half dead. As stages progress the monsters can absorb more and more hits, causing the fun factor to diminish. The digitized sound effects and scary music are good but not great. Splatterhouse 2 doesn't feel as a fresh as the original, but at least it stays true to its spirit. © Copyright 2013 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 30,500
Save mechanism: Password
1 player 

Splatterhouse 3
Grade: D+

screenshotThe first two Splatterhouse games were a celebration of macabre fun and gratuitous gore, and Splatterhouse 3 tries to take the series to the next level. Once again our mask-wearing hero "Rick" must save his girlfriend Jennifer by beating freaky creatures to a bloody pulp. Next time these monsters might want to consider kidnapping the girlfriend of somebody less mentally unstable. Splatterhouse 3's graphics are pretty good. In fact, some of the digitized cut-scenes are among the most impressive you'll see on the Genesis. I especially enjoyed the scene with the text "the monster emits a foul smell and moves closer to Jennifer".

Unlike the previous games where Rick could only move sideways, he can now move all around the screen. He has a bunch of new attacks like jump-kicks, combination punches, throws, and head butts. Splatterhouse 3 even gives you a map so you can choose your own route through the mansion. This would have added a lot of replay value if the rooms weren't all the same! This game is just a series of protracted brawls with the same gang of slimy creatures that take too long to defeat. And just when you thought you've cleared a room, a new set of ghouls drop in from the ceiling. Gah! You can strike several at a time, and pinning them against walls is effective.

The problem is, these creatures can take a hell of lot of abuse, and some bosses require about 100 hits! It is nice how creatures exhibit damage as you wear them down. Some will have the top of their heads collapse halfway through the battle, which is gruesome but fun. Rooms not full of ghouls contain flying books and disembodied hands that chip away at your life. The rooms are furnished but there's not much to see. Splatterhouse 3 doesn't bother to keep score so it's just a matter of persevering until the end. The game has a few good ideas, but repetitive fighting action proves to be its undoing. © Copyright 2013 The Video Game Critic.

Save mechanism: Password
1 player 

SportsTalk Baseball
Grade: A-
Publisher: Sega (1992)
Posted: 2006/6/18

screenshotIt was groundbreaking for its time, and in terms of fun, no other baseball game for the Genesis can touch SportsTalk Baseball. Boasting arcade-style graphics, smooth action, and intuitive controls, this is ideal for the casual player looking for a quick game. The pitching and batting controls are as simple as pressing a button. When fielding, you can dive for grounders, leap for line drives, and even snatch homeruns from the top of the wall! Runners can lead off and steal, but don't forget to hit that slide button as you approach second base!

Despite featuring major league players Sega inexplicably did not obtain the MLB rights. Having the teams referred to by their city isn't an issue, but those homemade logos look cheesy as all hell! I suppose that explains why the guy on the box is wearing a generic green helmet. Three fictional stadiums are available: White-Sky Dome, Blue-Moon Stadium, and Red-Sun Stadium. SportsTalk's gameplay is solid all around, but its true claim to fame is its live commentary.

This feature was amazing in 1992, and it's still quite entertaining today. The commentator (who looks like Larry King) keeps up with the action fairly well, and it's quite amusing when he lags behind. Since his voice doesn't affect the action on the field, you can just continue playing as he rambles on about the last play. For a good laugh, have a fielder tag an occupied base several times in succession, causing the commentator to exclaim "Safe! Safe! He's safe. Safe! He's safe. Safe!"

Playing head-to-head is great, but the single-player mode is respectable as well, with aggressive CPU-controlled opponents that even try to steal bases. SportsTalk lets you play a whole season via the battery backup, but its menu interface is woefully slow and clunky. One bizarre "feature" is the game's "domination" rule, which abruptly ends the contest when one team goes up by ten runs. What the heck is that all about? Another issue is the lack of an instant replay. Oh well, this is a 1992 game, so I guess you can't ask for too much. But if you're looking for pure fun, SportsTalk Baseball is definitely the way to go. © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.

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1 or 2 players 

Star Control
Grade: F
Publisher: Accolade (1991)
Posted: 2007/10/27

screenshotHere's a game I picked up ages ago but never got around to reviewing because it looked so boring. Now that I've finally played Star Control a few times, I can state for a fact that it is boring. Unless you're a real strategy nut (and I stress the word nut) Star Control will probably put your ass to sleep. The "action" (and I use the word loosely) begins upon selecting one of fifteen scenarios, each of which pits you against an alien race in intergalactic battle. Taking turns against a CPU opponent, you establish colonies and manage resources in an effort to construct a fleet of warships.

The main screen features a rotating starfield, and I have to admit it looks pretty snazzy. Your installations appear to be floating in a 3D space, but that mainly serves as eye candy. As you deploy vessels and advance them into enemy territory, confrontations occur in the form of one-on-one space battles. Unfortunately, most of your ships have all the maneuverability of a bathtub, with super wide turn radiuses that will make you absolutely miserable. I like how the screen zooms in when the ships are close together, but it's cheesy how ships bounce off stars and planets like pinballs!

I may not fully grasp the strategic aspects of Star Control, but I know the shooting action sucks, and that's half the game right there. I suspect this was originally a PC title due to sparse sound and graphics that appear to have been designed for a higher resolution display. For brainiacs who overcome Star Control's ample learning curve, the game offers plenty of options, including the ability to let the CPU control the strategy or melee portions for you. Personally, I'd just as well have it do both, and then turn itself off when it's done. © Copyright 2007 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 

Steel Empire
Grade: C+
Publisher: Flying Edge (1992)
Posted: 2017/11/23

screenshotDespite its name Steel Empire is a surprisingly lightweight side-scrolling shooter for the Genesis. Its title screen and intermissions employ an old-time newsreel effect, and the constant flickering is sure to send viewers into epileptic seizures. Wow, that is really annoying. Empire's retro-futuristic scenery features shiny gold domes, mammoth airships, and gorgeous red sunsets. A strange hodgepodge of adversaries includes planes with flapping wings, flying windmills, and... fish wearing Santa Claus hats? What the hell am I looking at?

Before each stage you get to choose between a maneuverable bi-plane or powerful zeppelin. The zeppelin can lob bombs but makes for a bigger target. Sometimes the scrolling changes directions unexpectedly, so it's good you can fire to the left or right. You also have a supply of bombs which envelop the screen in lightning bolts. I appreciate the forgiving nature of this game. Your ship has a life meter, so a careless scrape won't cost you a life.

One issue I have with Steel Empire is its stuttering frame rate. It seems like the game misses a frame whenever a shot hits an enemy. As your firepower improves the frame rate degrades, even in the first stage. The sound effects are best described as "rinky dink". They lack punch, and the military-style music sounds muffled too. My friend Scott says it's not muffled enough because you can still hear it. I like the style of Steel Empire, but like its audio, its gameplay rings a little hollow. © Copyright 2017 The Video Game Critic.

Recommended variation: normal
Our high score: 443,300
1 player 

Grade: F
Publisher: Razorsoft (1990)
Posted: 2021/5/2

screenshotStormLord achieved a bit of notoriety back in the day for images of naked ladies that "accidentally" made it into early copies of the game. Other than that piece of trivia StormLord is a bit... what's the word I'm looking for... awful. It looks like one of those dreadful home computer ports, saddled with stiff animation, unresponsive controls, and abrasive audio.

You control a gray-bearded dwarf who maintains perfect posture when he jumps. Pressing B allows him to fire rapid-fire stars out of his crotch. The C button is dedicated to picking up items but it can't even do that right! You need to hit it three or four times before it registers, and that's a problem when you're trying to snag a pair of magic shoes in front of a fire-breathing statue. That said, the C button is still more responsive than the pause button (start), which you might need to hit seven or eight times.

Your goal is to release five fairies scattered throughout each medieval side-scrolling stage. The opening "haunted forest" area looks pretty cool with its twisted trees, torches, mushrooms, and periodic thunder claps. But I think the artist spent the bulk of his time on the shapely women figures who would be mistaken for statues if not for their blowing hair.

StormLord may have some eye candy but boy-oh-boy does its gameplay suck. You'll pick up items like pots and umbrellas and have absolutely no idea what they're supposed to do. The instructions don't tell you because they don't want to spoil the surprise. There's a lot of keys and locked doors. I hate how you can only hop on certain mushrooms but not others. Stepping on a stone pedestal causes an eagle to swoop in and transport you to a different area. Over the course of a level you'll be whisked all over the place.

Enemies include caterpillars, baby dragons, wizards, and flying Duke Blue Devils. Enemies often appear right in front of you but you're too slow to make space. I don't understand the health system at all. You might survive getting hit by a dragon only to die after touching a little pea. If that's not bad enough, consider you need to collect items and move between areas in a specific order, turning the thrill of discovery into the agony of trial and error. © Copyright 2021 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 8960
1 player 

Street Fighter II Championship Edition
Grade: B+
Publisher: Capcom (1993)
Posted: 2006/8/11

screenshotAfter waiting an absolute eternity (in video game years, anyway), the Genesis faithful finally got a piece of the Street Fighter pie in the form of this "Championship Edition". Judged on its own merits, it's a spectacular one-on-one fighter with some of the most impressive graphics and music you'll ever witness on the Genesis. The diverse cast of characters hails from locations spanning the globe. Not only are the fighting styles diverse, but each stage offers a taste of a unique culture.

Street Fighter 2's gameplay is timeless, whether you're pitted against a friend or the CPU. The normal Championship mode didn't especially impress me however, due to its inconsistent speed. The excellent Hyper modes, on the other hand, offer some of the fastest fighting action you'll ever want to experience. Of course, comparisons to the SNES Street Fighter 2 Turbo Edition are unavoidable, and to be honest, the Genesis simply can't deliver the same degree of sharp visuals and rich audio. This version's graphics look slightly grainy compared to the SNES, and some sound effects are downright cringe-worthy. The announcer in particular sounds awfully congested.

Even so, this Championship Edition turned out much better than most expected, and the six-button Genesis controller provides an ideal button configuration (identical to the arcade game). Fans will also appreciate the inclusion of the arcade game's intro, not present on the SNES cartridge. There's an exclusive "group battle mode" as well, but that's hardly worth mentioning. SF2 Championship Edition is a rock solid fighter, but if you own an SNES, I'd opt for that version instead. © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.

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1 or 2 players 

Street Smart
Grade: D
Publisher: Treco (1991)
Posted: 2010/11/20

screenshotI enjoy fighting games more than most people do, but Street Smart is undeniably shallow. This game is a series of one-on-one matches in front of a crowd of spectators. The best part of the game is the colorful scenery which includes a bright beach, the streets of San Francisco, the deck of a ship, and the front lawn of the White House. Your character looks pretty small - about half as tall as some of the guys you need to fight!

Each new foe has a unique look and fighting style, but the fighting action is erratic at best. Your basic moves are limited to a punch, roundhouse kick, and a jump-kick that never seems to connect. There's a special attack but it's hard to execute. Even when you read the manual, some of the controls seem very mysterious.

The A.I. is not good. As the fighters move up and down on the screen, the CPU doesn't seem to know if he's properly lined up with you. The collision detection is problematic, especially when fighters overlap and flail away without hitting anything. When a player wins, a person in the crowd unleashes a high-pitched screech that sounds like a rabid spider monkey.

The victory screen shows your goofy-looking fighter being embraced by some hot chick in a French-cut bikini (can you say charity work?). Street Smart also condones gambling. Between rounds you can "bet" on the next fight, and you can inexplicably bet against yourself! Street Smart is moderately fun to play through for high score, but the game just never made a whole lot of sense to me. © Copyright 2010 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 50,000
1 or 2 players 

Streets of Rage
Grade: A-

screenshotFor many years I've taken this game for granted, but after recently playing similar games on other systems like Final Fight (SNES) and Burning Fight (Neo Geo), I've gained a whole new appreciation for this classic side-scrolling brawler. Streets of Rage takes the Double Dragon-style of gameplay to a whole new level, with more attacks, realistic-looking characters, and interesting backdrops. Two players can fight side-by-side, and there are three characters to choose from, including a muscle-bound blonde guy (Axel), the high-kicking black dude (Adam), and a hot chick in a red miniskirt (Blaze).

The punch and jump buttons let you execute a surprising variety of moves, including throws, jump-kicks, head-butts, and body slams. The "special attack" button calls in a police car which fires a cannon that rains down fireballs on everybody but somehow doesn't harm the good guys one bit. There are a wide variety of thugs to beat the crap out of, but after a while they start repeating, showing up in different-colored outfits. You'll face fire-jugglers, dominatrixes, guys with turtle-like jackets, and a parade of generic thugs.

At the end of each stage, some pumping "boss music" kicks in as you face a metal-clawed punk, a Cro-Magnon man, a fire-breathing fat guy, or some acrobatic ladies. Speaking of music, the Genesis isn't known for its audio, but the music in Streets of Rage is simply amazing. Each of these catchy techno jams gets under your skin and really pumps the adrenaline.

In terms of graphics, the characters are nicely animated and the scenery is quite detailed, especially the gorgeous city skylines. You can smash up some of the scenery (like phone booths) to reveal power-ups and weapons. And like most fighting games, it's perfectly acceptable to eat strange food you find laying in the middle of the road.

Weapons include baseball bats, pipes, and - my favorite - the bottle. Not only can you smash it over some goon's head, but then you can stab him with the broken end! The gameplay is remarkably tight in terms of control and design. Bad guys don't require an inordinate number of hits, and the stages are just the right length. Streets of Rage is an absolute classic that seems to get better with time. Play it and love it. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.

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Our high score: BLM 434,800
1 or 2 players 

Streets of Rage 2
Grade: A

screenshotPerhaps the best game of its kind, Streets of Rage 2 was actually a big step up from the original game, with larger characters, more moves, and more interesting levels. The four playable characters include Axel and Blaze from the first game, plus a huge wrestler named Max and a little black kid on skates named Skate. While the big characters are nicely detailed and well animated, two players may have difficulty staying out of each other's way! A slew of new moves including a rear attack, fury, and drop attack, make the action much less repetitive this time around.

Some of the stages are extremely imaginative. Sure, you'll begin on a city street, but from subsequent locations include a bar, a rainy alley, a bridge, an amusement park, and a baseball stadium. My favorite stage is the amusement park, where you walk through an arcade, a pirate attraction, and an Alien-like science fiction ride. The game is still linear, but the screen occasionally scrolls diagonally instead of side-to-side. Like the first game, the thugs all tend to wear the same outfits in different colors. There are fire-breathing fat guys, motorcyclists, guys in jetpacks, and of course the obligatory scantily clad women with whips (gratuitous for sure, but always welcome!)

The audio is a bit disappointing. The music doesn't compare up to the awesome tunes from the first game, even though it's in the same style. The same muffled yell and scream samples are used for all the thugs. I also felt that the designers missed a big opportunity to incorporate more cooperative moves into the game. There are only one or two of them, and they're not very effective. Despite these minor quibbles, Streets of Rage 2 is still the best game in the series. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.

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Our high score: STP 206,770
1 or 2 players 

Streets of Rage 3
Grade: B

screenshotIt's been subject to a lot of criticism over the years, but this third edition of Streets of Rage is still a solid side-scrolling fighter at its core. This time Axel, Blaze, and Skate are joined by a bionic old man named Dr. Zan who has the ability to unleash electrical charges from his arms. The stage locations in Streets of Rage 3 aren't particularly imaginative. They include a warehouse, construction site, subway, and an elevator.

I do like the dance club even though its lighting effects are gaudy as hell. There's also a bar with a massive fish tank that contains a shark. Subtle details include chains that rattle in the warehouse when someone gets body-slammed, and a black cat in the alley stage who periodically peeks out of a trash can.

Most of the gang members have been recycled from previous Streets of Rage titles, but the women have obviously been altered to cover up their revealing outfits (rats!). The control scheme has been expanded to support the six-button controller, although the two additional moves it provides are weak and unnecessary.

If you really want to make your life complicated, you can try using the Activator body motion controller, which is also supported. The default difficulty is higher than the previous games, and the musical style is a radical departure. It sounds more chaotic, and while a few of the tunes are catchy, many are just obnoxious. Streets of Rage 3 failed to propel the series forward, but if you enjoyed the previous games you'll probably like this one too. © Copyright 2011 The Video Game Critic.

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Our high score: SLN 338,820
1 or 2 players 

Grade: A-
Publisher: Sega (1989)
Posted: 2008/3/11

screenshotBoldly original and loaded with surprises, Strider delivers a genuinely thrilling platform adventure. Armed with a sword, our hero must slash his way through a Russian palace, the Siberian wilderness, a flying airship, and even a dinosaur-infested Amazon jungle. Strider Hiryu is a nimble guy, with the ability to scale walls, vault, slide, and even monkey-swing under platforms. Is there anything this guy can't cling to? I love it when he just misses a platform, yet grabs the ledge with one hand and quickly hoists himself up.

In addition to battling soldiers, wild animals, and freaky robots, Hiryu must face some of the most memorable bosses ever seen in a video game. The mechanical ape and skeletal T-Rex are classic. Strider's graphics are great but its animation is less impressive and somewhat choppy. A simple white arc represents a swing of your sword, accompanied by a simple clang sound. Enemies you strike are split in half before they silently vanish. The lack of sound effects is glaring at times, but I do enjoy the elegant organ soundtrack. Most objects tend to be rendered with large sprites, and Strider himself makes for a rather large target.

The difficulty is substantial, and you need an intimate knowledge of the stage layouts to avoid their many hazards. Strider can also smash pods to release mini droids that fight by his side - a novel concept for its time. Although the crux of the game involves slashing everything in sight, the stages exhibit remarkable variety. Each has a unique design and new set of enemies, so the action never gets stale. And you don't have to deal with those "repeating environments" which plague so many other platformers. With its graphic artistry and imaginative stages, Strider is one of the most entertaining platform games you'll ever play. © Copyright 2008 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 10600
1 player 

Strider Returns
Grade: D-
Publisher: U.S. Gold (1990)
Posted: 2008/3/11

screenshotOh how the mighty have fallen. I really loved the original Strider with its unbridled creativity and frenetic "grab-onto-anything-and-everything" gameplay. By comparison, Strider Returns feels slow, confusing, and uninspired. Worst of all, its unreasonable difficulty level will have you ditching the controller in disgust. On the surface, Strider Returns doesn't seem much different. It's a side-scrolling platform game with a hero that can slash quickly and repeatedly to defeat his robotic and alien foes.

The first thing I noticed was how much slower Strider moves in this game. His sword animation has improved however, and he has a bit more range. There are no mini-robots to help him out, but he does have the ability to throw stars at times. It doesn't matter, because you'll be lucky to survive the very first stage!

Yes the "Forbidden Forest" is an unpleasant ordeal fraught with cheap hits and blind jumps. Green plants sprout from below your feet, spelling instant death. You'll hit your head on seemingly easy jumps, sending you plunging to your death. Upon defeating the first boss, the room begins raining fire, often draining your last ounce of life. Such brutal treatment would be bad enough in stages 6 or 7, but this is the first stage we're talking about here!

The second stage places you in a maze-like castle with ropes and pulleys all over the place. I found myself going in circles, and I was pissed! After the generic "girders in the sky" of stage three, I could almost predict the obligatory "alien lair" was right around the corner (yep - that's stage four!).

The controls could be tighter, and there are a lot of minor glitches - like being able to slash through solid stone walls - and kill what's on the other side! And I have no F-ing clue what that [expletive] orb meter is all about. Strider Returns also attempts some voice synthesis with unintentionally hilarious results. Even the box cover is deserving of ridicule, with a horrible illustration that suggests the title "Gymnast Wars". Strider Returns is really only good for one thing, and that's for making you appreciate the original Strider. © Copyright 2008 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 

Sub Terrania
Grade: D-
Publisher: Sega (1994)
Posted: 2001/1/8

screenshotThis is a shooter with gravity, similar to the classic game Gravitar (Atari 2600, 1988). The object is to navigate your spacecraft through caverns while shooting enemies, picking up humans, collecting power-ups, and maintaining your fuel. I've played several games similar to this, and this one seems less fun than most.

Sub Terrania does have a few things going for it. The graphics are pretty cool. I like the giant horned head that becomes a skull as you destroy it. The science fiction-style music is quite good, and the missions are well designed and clearly explained. But the controls are so bad that they nearly ruin the game.

First off, you have to constantly thrust because the gravity is so strong. Next, the controls are too sensitive; it's difficult to navigate narrow openings. Finally, the front and back of your ship look identical, which can cause you to accidentally thrust into walls. And even if you master the controls, there are other problems. The enemies require too many hits to destroy, and your shield status is practically hidden on the bottom of the screen. Sub Terrania simply isn't much fun. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 

Summer Challenge
Grade: D+
Publisher: Accolade (1993)
Posted: 2016/6/24

screenshotSummer Challenge features one of the more elaborate opening ceremonies I've seen in an olympic title. First tiny athletes carry a torch up to an elevated platform in a jam-packed stadium. Then the platform opens, causing balloons and doves to pour out. Very nice! The tournament mode supports up to ten (!) players, but guess what? You'll all need to share the same controller! I do like how you can select the order of events and view the standings at any time.

Figuring out how to play each event is the real challenge. The thick instruction book says a whole lot of nothing. The actual controls are listed on a separate card which I don't have. I was able to figure things out though (I think). The visuals are ambitious for the Genesis, incorporating some modest polygon graphics. The archery event is mainly a matter of aiming a shaky reticule at a target. Equestrian and kayak feature impressive 3D graphics but choppy animation and laggy controls take their toll on the gameplay.

At least the events are mercifully short. If you wipe out during equestrian, hurdles, or cycling, you immediately move on to the next event. It's probably for the best. In the pole vault you need to press up to plant your stick, which makes no sense. The high jump is hilarious - especially when you jump way too early and completely miss the mat!

The javelin is probably the best event just because it's easy to grasp. Cycling isn't hard, but riding around an oval track with no competitors is not very exciting. The games close with a nifty ceremony complete with fireworks. Summer Challenge is worthwhile once you wrap your mind around the controls, but it shouldn't be this hard to do. © Copyright 2016 The Video Game Critic.

Recommended variation: archery
Our high score: BSC 98
Save mechanism: password
1 to 10 players 

Sunset Riders
Grade: A

screenshotIf you like arcade games, Sunset Riders is as arcade as you can possibly get with vibrant graphics, simple controls, and insane firepower. You select from two characters: Billy Cool and Cormano Wild. If you have a friend on hand you can double the mayhem. I favor Cormano because he sprays bullets from a shotgun to inflict widespread damage.

As you venture down the streets of town outlaws climb out of barrels, peek from windows, and take cover behind crates. I love how they hurl themselves from windows when shot. If you see saloon doors feel free to dash in to be awarded a "bonus item" by a lovestruck hooker. When you spot a piece of dynamite you can pick it up and toss it for a satisfying explosion. Later stages take place on a train and in a canyon teeming with Indians.

The controls are super responsive and you can fire rapidly even without a power-up. The levels aren't long and there are some fun bonus stages. The audio offers great music and raspy voice samples. Sunset Riders is tough because you're constantly being attacked from all angles. The crossfire is treacherous and it only takes one hit.

The canyon stage is a little easier because you can shoot arrows out of the air. By accident I figured out you can slide as an evasive maneuver. Even so, you'll go through lives in a hurry, so I recommend turning the difficulty down (too easy) and turning the lives up (to five). That way at least you'll have a fighting chance in this spectacular Wild West shoot-em-up. © Copyright 2018 The Video Game Critic.

Recommended variation: easy/5 lives
Our high score: 258,300
1 or 2 players 

Super Baseball 2020
Grade: C
Publisher: Electronic Arts (1993)
Posted: 2001/4/17

screenshotYou really have to hand it to EA for at least coming up with something original. This futuristic baseball game features non-stop action, flashy graphics, robot players, a huge field, 135 MPH pitches, landmines in the outfield, and crazy power-ups that let your fielders jump 20 feet (to snag those would-be homers!). There's some great ideas here, no question, but the execution leaves much to be desired.

Before I go further, I should mention that this game is hyper-kinetic to the point of being dizzying. Even moving backgrounds of the menu screens will make you sick. Informational screens are flashed so fast you can hardly read them! Even "close-up" action screens go by so fast it's hard to tell what's going on.

In general, the graphics and sound are outstanding. The view of the ball getting knocked into the outfield is awesome (but often misleading). The ultra-modern sound effects are imaginative and not at all annoying. But below all the glitz is an arcade baseball game that isn't as wild as it wants to be. The gameplay is pretty much like any other baseball game, except for less home runs, fewer fouls, and more off-the-wall action.

Sure you can buy power-ups during the game, but they don't do much more than give you more power at the plate. Yes, there are land mines in the field, but since the fielders are mostly computer-controlled, there's not much running around going on. In fact, the fielders always seem in the right position to catch the long fly balls (which take an eternity to come down). This is one of those games that seems great at first, but ultimately won't get much playtime in your Genesis. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.

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1 or 2 players 

Super High Impact
Grade: B+
Publisher: Midway (1992)
Posted: 2007/3/23

screenshotIt's not much of a solo experience, but Super High Impact's brand of arcade football is an absolute blast when played competitively against a friend. The contests tend to be short but action-packed, and the cheesy animations are primitive yet endearing. The game is played on a side-scrolling field with large, realistic-looking players. The playbook offers about 15 plays on offense and defense, and the play-calling mechanism is quick and easy. If only you could differentiate between pass plays and run plays!

Pressing B to hand the ball off takes some getting used to, but otherwise the controls are simple. Pressing A unleashes your turbo speed, and it's extremely effective for breaking away for big runs. Super High Impact is a button-masher's dream. Kicks are performed by repeatedly tapping buttons to "power-up", and the occasion "fights" are little more than button-mashing extravaganzas. It's fun for a while, but definitely shallow and ultimately tiresome.

The action on the field often belies the title of the game, with tackles that don't seem very hard at all. You can't dislodge the ball, and when a player's helmet goes flying, and it looks more like his entire head fell off! A Wolfman Jack impersonator will sometimes appear with his "hit-o-meter" gauge to measure the ferocity of a hit, but its readings seem arbitrary.

Super High Impact incorporates some rough voice synthesis, including one sample that sounds suspiciously like Barney from The Simpsons. With its arcade theme and ample eye candy, I'm surprised there's no half-time show. What I really like about Super High Impact is how anyone can sit down and play a fun game in just a few minutes. If you're looking for a pigskin contest with an arcade flair, don't pass this one up. © Copyright 2007 The Video Game Critic.

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1 or 2 players 

Super Monaco GP
Grade: B-
Publisher: Sega (1990)
Posted: 2015/5/24

screenshotWhen my friend Tuan brought this cartridge over to my house back in the day, we thought it was the greatest thing. Like any respectable racer, it features a hot blonde in a bathing suit on the title screen. It's not easy to convey the thrill of high-speed racing with 16-bit technology, but Super Monaco GP does a pretty decent job. Like Pole Position, the illusion of speed is conveyed with rotating colors and scaling sprites.

Most of the action takes place on the lower third of the screen, where you can see your hands turning the steering wheel. The rear-view mirror that runs across the top is extremely useful for blocking cars trying to pass. The GP mode is pure arcade excitement as you jockey for position while striving for a high score. An alarm sounds if you're in danger of slipping past the position limit, and it's exciting to shake off challengers.

World Championship mode is a series of races with progress saved via a 32-character (!) password. The idea of selecting a rival is cool but the races are too long. Learning the tracks is key, but you're also going to need to master manual transmission to squeeze maximum performance out of your car. Super Monaco GP is a good-looking game. The cars look fantastic but they're all the same color except for your rival. Seeing the sparks fly under the chassis is a really neat effect.

The stereo sounds of cars whizzing by are great, but I especially love that chain-smoking voice that encourages you with "C'mon!" and "Keep it up!" The tracks feature digitized backdrops which add realism but look a bit washed out. Monte Carlo is the best with its layers of buildings and sailboats in the harbor. The menu screens are loaded with impressive digitized images that capture the spirit of being at the track. Super Monaco GP is pure arcade racing satisfaction. © Copyright 2015 The Video Game Critic.

Recommended variation: GP
Our high score: 1237
Save mechanism: Password
1 player 

Super Off Road
Grade: B+
Publisher: Tradewest (1992)
Posted: 2002/3/10

screenshotOh yeah - I loved this one the first time I laid eyes on it! It looks decidedly old school, with tiny cars riding around miniature dirt tracks that fit on a single screen. The graphics are minutely detailed, and the tracks and cars have a rugged 3D look to them. The tracks are small but exciting, with bumps, ramps, water, and multiple paths.

Four little cars speed through the course, bouncing around and bumping into each other around every turn. The controls are simple: one button accelerates and the other gives you a "nitro" turbo boost. It's all the fun of Micro Machines without the limited view. Bonuses randomly appear around the course, and between races you can upgrade parts and purchase more nitros.

It's a shame that there's no four-player mode, but my main complaint is that the computer-controlled gray car is just too hard to beat! Super Off Road is a hidden gem as far as Genesis games go. I can play this one again and again. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.

1 or 2 players 

Super Smash TV
Grade: C-

screenshotReviewing Xeno Crisis (Dreamcast, 2019) inspired me to revisit this, as they share similar gameplay styles. Super Smash TV is an overhead shooter brought to you by Eugene Jarvis, who also programmed its predecessor Robotron 2084 (Atari 5200, 1983). Set in 1999, the game takes a page from the Arnold Schwarzenegger 1987 sci-fi action flick The Running Man.

One or two players (co-op) are contestants on a demented gameshow that forces them to shoot their way through an enclosed arena. A tacky game show host periodically tosses out cheesy lines like "I'd buy that for a dollar". He's flanked by two hideous blondes.

The action is viewed from a tilted overhead perspective. Upon entering each room waves of psychos and cyborgs come pouring forth from four doorways. You have a rapid-fire weapon to keep them at bay and can aim in eight directions. Special icons allow you to equip special weapons like a three-way shot or missile launcher. My favorite are swirling discs which create a perimeter of protection while slicing through nearby enemies.

The onslaught seems never-ending at times and I particularly hate those fat guys roaming the perimeter - they soak up bullets like a sponge! The first boss battle against "Mutoid Man" is nothing short of epic. Just when you think this rolling half-man, half-machine abomination is done, he returns in a new grotesque form.

Compared to the SNES the graphics are mediocre, the voices raspy, and the sound effects ring hollow. The intro music is great but the in-game tunes are kind of hokey. The tiny characters are indistinct and the slowdown can be glaring. Mines are simple gray circles dotting the screen, and I really wish I could shoot those things to clear them out.

The main problem with Smash TV is that it's meant to be played with two joysticks, not one control pad. Actually, the game does allow you to use two control pads in the single-player mode, but it's awkward. With one controller one button fires forward, one backward, and one strafes. It feels like a big kludge, and when it comes to arcade games controls are everything.

I like Super Smash TV's irreverent tone and futuristic theme. The ability to determine your path through the maze of rooms enhances the replay value. You're far more likely to enjoy this Genesis version if you haven't played the SNES edition, which is superior in every regard. © Copyright 2021 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 1,206,990
1 or 2 players 

Super Street Fighter II
Grade: B+
Publisher: Capcom (1993)
Posted: 2006/8/11

screenshotAs an incremental follow up to the Championship Edition, Super Street Fighter II adds four new fighters (and stages) to the mix. There have been some minor tweaks to the moves, but only hardcore fans will really concern themselves with these. The newcomers include a gigantic Native American named T. Hawk, a Jamaican guy named Dee Jay, Bruce Lee look-alike Fei Long, and a scantily-clad hottie by the name of Cammy.

Die-hard fans will appreciate the new faces, but at the time this was released, it was a questionable upgrade. The graphics are top-notch for a Genesis title, but still pale compared to the SNES version. The sound effects are particularly bad; perhaps even worse than those in the Championship edition (or maybe there's just more of them).

Due to the system's limited sonic range, digitized voices and punch effects are accompanied by hiss and static. A few extra modes like tournament, group, and time challenge are included, but these aren’t anything special. Besides being able to use the 6-button Genesis controller, this version has no obvious advantages over its SNES cousin. © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.

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1 or 2 players 

Grade: C-
Publisher: Sunsoft (1992)
Posted: 2021/1/7

screenshotI played my share of superhero games during the 16-bit era yet have zero recollection of this. I guess it just wasn't very popular. Playing it now however I can appreciate its simple, old-school style. Superman reminds me of an NES game. The first stage seems hopelessly generic as our hero bounds across rooftops, punching the same foes over and over. It doesn't take long to learn the attack patterns of the hovering robots, circling pods, jetpack flyers, and green guys who run directly at you.

Flying saucers present the most danger, approaching from awkward angles and requiring four hits to destroy. A single super-punch will do the trick but it takes so long to wind up, by the time you throw it you're swinging at air. I like how jumping lets you punch upward, and coming down on enemies lets you damage them under your heel! The collision detection is pretty unforgiving though, so if two enemies converge you're guaranteed to take at least one hit.

Halfway through the first stage Superman finds yourself flying up an endlessly tall building while being harassed by flying drones and plunked by falling rocks. Your laser heat vision looks cool but all it does is push objects around the screen. Lame! At the top of the building you'll face off against the Prankster - a villain who tosses explosive playing cards. Sadly, by the time you reach him you only have a sliver of life left!

The excessive difficulty is unfortunate because the later stages prove more interesting. Bust out the Game Genie to see Superman break down doors in an apartment complex, fight his way through subway cars, and shoot leaping shark-men at sea. Subsequent bosses include Metallo, Brainiac, and Mxyzptlk (not a typo).

There are even some side-scrolling shooting stages that would kick ass if Superman's eye lasers weren't so weak! The soundtrack is notable because the best tunes were composed by the guy who did Streets of Rage. On balance this game is mediocre at best. It gets by on its old-school charm, but you'd expect a superhero of Superman's stature to pack a far bigger punch. © Copyright 2021 The Video Game Critic.

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Our high score: 62,800
1 player 

Sword of Sodan
Grade: F
Publisher: Electronic Arts (1991)
Posted: 2003/5/10

screenshotSword of Sodan reminds me of that old adage "the bigger they are, the harder they fall". Sporting some of the largest characters I've ever seen on a Genesis game screen, Sodan really gets your attention with its graphics but comes up short in terms of gameplay. You can choose between a male or female warrior in this overwrought medieval slash-em-up.

The characters are meticulously detailed and about half the screen in height. Their choppy movements are less impressive however, and the female warrior walks and talks like an old lady. Moves include high/medium/low sword attacks and a jump. Groups of guards attack you with their spears, and you have to fend them off from both sides.

The play mechanics are very awkward. Sometimes the most effective technique is to kneel down and "poke" your enemies repeatedly in the crotch until they keel over. That's no way for a man to die! The collision detection is pretty bad, and so is the responsiveness of the controls. I should also mention something about the excessive and terribly fake-looking blood. At one point you'll face huge knights that can actually be decapitated! This is a level of violence rarely seen until Mortal Kombat.

Sodan also contains potions that are meant to add some strategy, but these tend to be worthless. The purple one has NO effect at all, and drinking an orange one KILLS the nearest enemy. I know - it doesn't make sense - but work with me here. The whole game is pretty ludicrous, and if not for the large character sprites, Sword of Sodan would be completely forgettable. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 

Sylvester and Tweety in Cagey Capers
Grade: C
Publisher: Time Warner (1994)
Posted: 2014/5/20

screenshotSylvester and Tweety makes you feel like you're playing an actual cartoon, and isn't that what you want in a game like this? The characters are large and the animations are as familiar as they are entertaining. I love how Sylvester suspiciously sneaks up the stairs or struggles to maintain his balance while walking across a clothesline. The game is divided into six "episodes" set in a house, yard, train, alley, lab, and ocean liner. The introductions, musical scores, sound effects, and artistic backdrops are all remarkably faithful to the classic Warner Bros. cartoons. There's even some impressive voice synthesis ("Hello... breakfast!")

Playing as Sylvester, your goal is to catch Tweety, but when you get close he tends to flutter off. The stages reprise classic cartoons, including the one where Tweety transforms into a big yellow "Mr. Hyde" monster. In addition to superb graphics, the game has a few innovative elements. You can hold down A to activate your "Tweety vision" binoculars to zero in on his latest location. The idea of positioning boxes isn't original, but being able to precariously stack two or three certainly is!

The levels are loaded with sometimes-hard-to-get bonus items which add replay value. Occasionally you'll encounter annoying adversaries like a gray bulldog or the broom-wielding granny, and it's hard to enjoy the game when they relentlessly hound you. On rare occasions you can hide, and seeing Sylvester pretending to be a baby in a carriage is hilarious. If only the game played as well as it looks!

It's impossible to jump downward from a ledge, which is frustrating when the object you need is directly below. The controls are conducive to over-jumping, and the iffy collision detection rarely works in your favor. In advanced stages Sylvester is constantly running into walls and bumping his head. Sylvester and Tweety has some issues, but fans of the cartoons can still bump up the grade by a letter. Note: The level 4 warp code listed in the manual is wrong, and should be AAA BBB ABC. © Copyright 2014 The Video Game Critic.

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Our high score: 322,222
1 player 

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Screen shots courtesy of Video Game Museum, Shinforce, Rotten Tomatoes, GameFAQs.com, MobyGames.com, Games Radar