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Your goal in each race is to reach the finish line before time runs out, but you have very little control of your speed. Hitting obstacles slows you to a crawl and it's difficult to regain momentum. Speed panels propel you, but it's hard to see them coming and react in time. The game prompts you to hug the outer wall during turns to maintain speed, but that doesn't seem to help much. On the novice level the game said I needed to collect 11 stars to activate my shockwave, but when I did, nothing happened.
At intermediate level I was told to collect 28 stars, yet after collecting far less the game prompted me to "Press B to fire shockwave". This weapon wipes out all enemies in view, but you can only use it once so it's really not that big of a deal. The audio features some forgettable music and a woman's voice that's hard to make out. S.T.U.N. Runner's slick visuals make this a showcase title for the Lynx but its tepid racing action feels like an afterthought. © Copyright 2017 The Video Game Critic.
You play the role of an unlikeable little kid named Louie whose dog has been kidnapped by "Mr. Big". Each stage has you forging through a different section of a junkyard, hopping between crates, old washers, and cars on blocks. Who left all these bags of cash lying around? The scenery isn't memorable but it is colorful and detailed. The music is rinky-dink.
Birds drop eggs from above as sharp-dressed rodents approach from the ground. Gangster dogs even shoot at you with guns. You throw cans at them to make them disappear, which turns out to be surprisingly fun! I love how the cans bounce and rattle around like grenades. Toss one ahead of you and you can follow it, hoping your next enemy will walk into it.
Scrapyard's first few stages are easy but the challenge ramps nicely. Secret rooms loaded with bonus items spice up the action. There are even shops that allow you to purchase items - including a gun! Atari used to love teaching kids the joys of firearms. Scrapyard Dog is extremely playable and really hits the spot if you're up for some leisurely-paced fun. © Copyright 2021 The Video Game Critic.
The pace is plodding as you walk, climb, fall, and occasionally stop to shoot plant-like creatures. Your weapon spurts some kind of white substance and you can angle your shots. There are plenty of items to pick up, but just about all of them are useless. Half the time when you lean over to pick something up the game informs you "you already have one".
The so-called "slime shield" looks like a huge brown bug eating your head. The stages are a confusing mess and it's hard to tell if you're even making progress. It's not obvious when you're taking damage, and you often drop dead for no apparent reason. Heck, the game struggles just to keep your character centered on the screen!
Pressing the option button should give you access to a map, but half the time it refuses to appear. Slime World's soundtrack is composed of random beeps which further fueled my unbridled disgust. Slime World was apparently designed for multiple players, but I can't imagine how six miserable bastards are better than one. Only play this if you're looking for a reason to quit playing video games altogether. © Copyright 2013 The Video Game Critic.
You view your copter from behind as you fly over 3D-rendered mountains and canyons. And those mountains are not just for decoration; you often need to adjust your altitude to see over a peak to get a line-of-fire on that enemy tank on the other side.
The Lynx hardware struggles to keep up, resulting in a framerate that chugs along at two or three frames per second. It tends to look bad and throw off the steering controls. The one thing that kept me going was the ultra-low difficulty. I cruised through the first seven missions on my first try, practically against my will!
When a target is within range a red circle appears over it, and you just hold down the machine gun button until it blows up. You have guided missiles too but they aren't really necessary and take forever to reach their target. Frankly the graphics are so indistinct you never really know what the hell you're shooting.
The Option 1 button brings up your map indicating all the targets you need to clear out. After completing each mission the game would tell me I "failed" despite allowing me to proceed to the next mission. Is there some kind of unnecessary time limit I wasn't aware of? Probably! Steel Talons is one of those early 3D titles that hasn't aged well. You'll take a peek to see what it's all about but probably never touch it again. © Copyright 2019 The Video Game Critic.
Super Missile Command is even more innovative. It puts those 3D Playstation versions to shame, and may rank as the best home version of all time! This aptly-named "super" edition takes the classic protect-the-cities gameplay and augments it with varying scenery and a surprisingly deep power-up system. There's only one fire button, but the closest of your three missile silo fires automatically, which works like a charm.
After every four waves you're presented with a list of 13 power-ups for purchase, ranging from "fast missiles", to "double explosions", to "Armageddon", which literally wipes the screen clean! These add a nice strategic element, although the interface for buying and using these items is confusing. The explosion effects are spectacular, but the sound effects are minimal, and I miss the alarms between waves. In both games the action begins slowly, but once things heat up you're in for a treat. Spicing up classic gameplay with well-conceived new features, this cartridge will make you happy to own a Lynx. © Copyright 2010 The Video Game Critic.
Switchblade II is pretty easy thanks to slow-moving enemies, ample health, rapid-fire shooting, and your ability to leap higher than Blake Griffin. The title screen features some nice Asian-inspired music, but the game itself is played in relative silence, with only the sound of your pattering footsteps.
The concrete platforms of the first stage are hopelessly generic, but later stages offer more variety as you trek through underground passages (with cheap traps) and scale a mountain with doorways leading to not-so-secret rooms. There are even a few bosses to spice things up.
I love how our hero replenishes his energy by chowing down on plump hot dogs and juicy hamburgers. I've seen the future, and it looks delicious. Switchblade II isn't a particularly memorable romp, but it packs enough entertainment value to hold your attention. © Copyright 2013 The Video Game Critic.
The only catch is that he moves a little slowly. Toki's rapid-spitting ability is effective, especially since you can aim in any direction (including diagonally). You'll need every bit of firepower you can muster because enemies absorb several hits before they go down.
You'll face a random assortment of creatures including trolls, birds, spiders, and ghosts. When defeated most drop coins that are worth big points. The graphics are first-rate. You'll see a lot of bright tropical scenery and dense jungle with thick vegetation growing over stone ruins. Unfortunately the small projectiles fired by enemies tend to blend into the rich backgrounds, so you need to keep an eye out.
The difficulty is fair (read: easy) and several continues are available. The high score is displayed at the top of the screen so you'll always have something to shoot for. I even like the zany soundtrack! Toki for the Lynx is an excellent game that's a heck of a lot more fun than its Genesis counterpart. Go monkey! It's your birthday! Go monkey! © Copyright 2012 The Video Game Critic.
The underwater action is a little murky as you blast evil crabs, mines, and fish monsters. Your supply of smart bombs comes in really handy down there. Each bomb unleashes destruction for several seconds, allowing you to plow through several waves of denizens. Each stage concludes when you enter an undersea cave. There you can purchase items like rapid-fire, multi-shot, fuel, and extra lives.
The second stage features purple water, so it looks like you're motoring through an ocean of Kool Aid with stone heads floating in the sky. Very strange. Turbo Sub is not easy, but with ten lives the games run a little longer than it needs to, and your thumb will pay the price. That said, Turbo Sub is a refreshing title to play during the hot summer months. © Copyright 2017 The Video Game Critic.
Striking an enemy causes it to recoil with a "boing", and after several hits a foe will succumb and drop a gold coin. The ability to attack while jumping is vital since there are birds and insects flying around trying to knock you off of ledges. You'll frequently stumble upon little shops where you stock up on items like bombs, fireballs, and hearts. I like how that little goblin scurries across the shelves, kicking off the items you choose.
Special weapons are selected and used via the options buttons. When I reached the end of the first stage I wondered why I couldn't exit. It turns out you need to first locate and defeat the boss! Perhaps they should have mentioned that in the instructions? And whose idea was it to print them on the back of a folded poster? Anyway I discovered I could jump in a well and there was a whole new world down there! It led me to the first boss, a huge yellow rabbit with rabies.
Where Viking Child falters are stages that require timed jumps, such as the forest. Your jumps are so slow and floaty that you almost need to initiate them a second early, and that can be frustrating. Hearts serve as health, and while you get ten per life, you'll go through them in a hurry. I was afraid that losing a life would reset me back to the beginning of the stage, but instead you just continue with the next one without missing a beat. I also like the easy-to-remember passwords. Viking Child is a well-programmed game, spicing things up with more strategy and exploration than your garden-variety platformer. © Copyright 2020 The Video Game Critic.
There's a list of selectable missions, some require you to land (with much difficulty). A menu of options let you adjust your damage, lives, difficulty, ammo, and collisions. Since enemy planes make no effort to avoid hitting you, turning the collisions off makes the game a heck of a lot easier. Holding in one of the buttons allows you to look freely around your plane, which comes in handy considering there's no radar display.
Warbirds makes for a great tech demo, but is it fun? Not particularly. The controls for turning your plane feel sluggish, even in arcade mode. Since there are no crosshairs, it's difficult to determine if a target is in your line of fire. I couldn't tell if an enemy plane was damaged until I saw it bellowing smoke.
My first few battles were boring and predictable. Once I increased the challenge however I found myself getting shot down before I could even get a target in view. I tried tweaking the options but could never find a satisfying combination of challenge and enjoyment. The fun factor may be lacking but I can't deny this game is a technical marvel. Suffice to say a game like Warbirds probably would not have been possible on any other portable system of its time. © Copyright 2021 The Video Game Critic.
It's fun to strafe and fire rapidly at enemy robots, and the ensuing explosions are satisfying. The metallic monstrosities look properly menacing, and each type exhibits unique attack patterns and vulnerabilities. A separate map screen is available, but it's rarely needed because the stages are relatively small.
Xybot's graphics are better than average, with large, colorful sprites and imaginative animations. You can tell the programmers took pride in their work. Likewise, the jaunty musical score exhibits a surprising range of styles.
One notable flaw is the fact that your energy is not displayed on the main screen, and all too often you'll keel over without even realizing it was running low. Xybots won't bowl you over with its generic gameplay, but Lynx fans looking for some simple shooting action will find plenty to like. © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.
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Screen shots courtesy of Atari Age, YouTube, Old-Computers.com