Jaguar Reviews K-N

Kasumi Ninja
Grade: D-
Publisher: Atari (1994)
Reviewed: 2006/12/1

screenshotWow, Atari must have been intent of having a Mortal Kombat-style game for their Jaguar system. Kasumi Ninja offers some decent digitized graphics, but its gameplay is just pathetic. It tries to mimic the bloody fighting style of Mortal Kombat, but it doesn't feel right at all. The control is lousy, and Atari didn't even bother listing moves in the 61-page booklet (written in about 20 languages).

The roster of eight fighters is uninspired at best. The two obligatory "ninjas" are dressed in cheap jumpsuits that make them look more like hospital orderlies! Most of the others are extremely unattractive, including the Scottish fellow who shoots fireballs from under his kilt. Kasumi's visuals aren't bad at all, with smooth animation and picturesque exotic backgrounds. The sound is less impressive however.

Each fighter is introduced by a guy with a laughably fake Asian accent, and sound effects during fights are sometimes out of sync. The music is an odd mishmash of styles, but most of it sounds like some guy goofing off on a Casio keyboard. Kasumi Ninja is a sub-par fighter, even for the Jaguar. This game caused my smart-assed friend Scott to quip, "I never thought I'd ever utter these words, but can we play Ultra Vortek?" © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.

1 or 2 players 

Kobayashi Maru (CD)
Grade: B-
Publisher: RGCD (2013)
Reviewed: 2013/8/2

screenshotThis new homebrew brings the 2D shooting fun of Time Pilot (Colecovision, 1982) to the Jaguar. It's hard to improve upon a classic but Kobayashi Maru is not a bad little arcade game. You guide a ship freely around a screen that scrolls in all directions. Enemy planes approach from the edges, and I like the ability to spray rapid-fire bullets by holding in the fire button. The bullets are pretty fat too so you won't miss very often.

There are also chubby little guys on balloons you can "rescue" for bonus points. Shooting the balloons will release the little fellow, so try to position yourself below him first. After a while a large "boss" airship will make an appearance. The bosses are unique in design but easy to defeat once you position yourself behind them. Beating the first stage takes practice, but after that things get easier - probably because you earn a free life for completing each stage.

One thing lacking from Kobayashi Maru is variety and a sense of progression. Time Pilot created a sense of anticipation as you worked through the distinctive ages of time. In this game each stage features only slightly different skins and color palettes. The "warp" animation between stages is nice but unspectacular. Kobayashi Maru is a perfectly playable shooter but I can't shake the feeling that there should be more to it. © Copyright 2013 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 138,460
1 player 

Missile Command 3D
Grade: B+
Publisher: Atari (1995)
Reviewed: 2000/11/19

screenshotI've always been a big fan of this arcade classic, and I was pleasantly surprised to see how Atari brought this oldie into the 90s. The cartridge contains three versions of Missile Command: original, 3D, and virtual. I was expecting the original version to be just like the original arcade game, but it's not. The graphics have been upgraded slightly, and the sound effects have been improved dramatically. There's even a pulse-pounding music theme that plays in the background.

The gameplay and control are first-rate. The 3D version has fancy polygon graphics and a much bigger playing field. You'll have to scroll around and use radar to determine where the missiles are coming in. It's pretty impressive looking, but not really any more fun than the first version. The Virtual version is played from a first-person perspective, and you have additional weapons. These weapons include lasers, which can be used to shoot the missiles directly, and smart bombs, which wipe out all enemies on the screen.

Firing the normal missiles is tough; after you launch one, you have to time its detonation. It's difficult to determine the "depth" of the objects you're shooting. This version also features bosses, power-ups, and three unique levels. One complaint I have about all three versions is that your missiles tend to move very slowly, making it extra difficult to intercept enemies. Also, the explosions in the 3D versions are noticeably flat in comparison to the objects. But Missile Command fans will be happy enough with this. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.

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Recommended variation: virtual
Our high score: 15750
1 player 

Myst (CD)
Grade: D
Publisher: Atari (1995)
Reviewed: 2007/10/3
Rating: Kids to Adults

screenshotThere's a good reason why I stick to consoles and avoid PC games - so I can avoid games like Myst. Yeah, I know this game was huge in the 90's, but I have no tolerance for its slow pacing and trial-and-error gameplay. Myst's surreal premise is undeniably captivating, as you find yourself on a mysterious deserted island with interesting architecture and strange mechanical contraptions.

You roam around the island by simply pointing and clicking where you want to go. A context-sensitive hand-shaped cursor is used to grab and manipulate items. The pre-rendered scenery looks sharp, but its "wow" factor has dissipated over the years. Myst's ominous musical score remains potent however, effectively creating a weirdly chilling atmosphere. You'll spend a lot of time gathering clues by paging through books, and while the text is interesting, having to zoom in on page after page is clumsy and tiresome.

For those with ample patience I suspect Myst could provide quite an immersive experience, delivering hours upon hours of mind-bending gameplay. Personally, I spent about an hour playing this and decided that was enough. I felt like I was getting nowhere. Myst might be the best game in the world, but I'll never know, and neither will the other gamers out there who prefer a little action in their adventures. © Copyright 2007 The Video Game Critic.


NBA Jam Tournament Edition
Grade: A-
Publisher: Atari (1995)
Reviewed: 2015/4/24

screenshotIn 1995 NBA Jam was Acclaim's prized franchise. You can tell they made an effort to ensure this Jaguar edition was extra special. NBA Jam is an arcade-style two-on-two basketball game known for its high-flying slam dunks. This edition features more players (25% of the NBA), more options, more secrets, extra commentary, and more detailed graphics. It's one of only two Jaguar games to support the team tap accessory, the other being the execrable White Men Can't Jump (Atari, 1995).

The huge, scaling players are rendered with digitized faces - like a permanent "big head" mode. The bustling arena boasts a layered crowd with animated cheerleaders, and the gameplay is right on target. The controls are superb provided you own a six-button controller. The standard three-button "Pro" controller makes activating turbo a little awkward (like using a Genesis controller).

The action is fast and smooth as players elbow one another, sprint up the court, and perform acrobatic jams. The commentator tosses out lines like "Head fake!", "Sweet touch!", and "It must be the shoes!" Sparse music plays during the game, which is not present in other versions. Players now have an injury score, giving you a really good reason to alter your lineup between quarters.

The game automatically records your progress and I was impressed when it remembered I "last played Chicago and lost". Technically this may be the ultimate NBA Jam, but I prefer the SNES edition. In this version all the players are nearly the same height, making it harder to differentiate long-range shooters from powerful big men. CPU-controlled teams pass way too much, like the ball was a hot potato or something. It's easy to nitpick but the bottom line is that NBA Jam Tournament Edition is a tremendously fun game, and easily the strongest sports title for this system. © Copyright 2015 The Video Game Critic.

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1 to 4 players 


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Screen shots courtesy of Atari Age, Rotten Tomatoes, Songbird Productions, NerdBacon.com