Daedalus Encounter looks good even by today's standards. Its video is slightly pixelated but the pre-rendered alien landscapes are colorful and appropriately otherworldly. The story revolves around a large, seemingly-abandoned alien freighter. Pretty familiar territory! As the crew investigates the vessel not a whole lot happens. You have little bearing on what goes on, being relegated to solving tedious puzzles to open doors. For some reason just about every door has a collection of symbols you need to rearrange to open it. But these aren't the kind of puzzles I'd characterize as fun. These are the kind that put people into mental institutions. I still don't know how I managed to solve half of them.
Daedalus Encounter has minimal action, and when it does occur you're little more than a spectator. The first few scenes are interesting enough but eventually every room starts to look the same. The actors do a fair job all things considered, and Zack even has a few funny lines. The gratuitous profanity was probably meant to ensure a "mature" rating, since 3DO was catering to the "adult" crowd. I was impressed by some of the mellow electronic music that captures the desolation of space.
The game comes spread over four CDs but it's not very long and it can be finished in one sitting. It helps that when you mess up the game automatically saves your spot and lets you pick up directly where you left off. Intriguing for a while, Daedalus Encounter struggled to hold my attention. It's a surprisingly uneventful journey, but puzzle fans will enjoy the challenge and FMV fans get plenty of video to watch. © Copyright 2005 The Video Game Critic.
Another issue is the lack of a map. That map was about the only thing that kept me going in Slayer, and without it I feel lost. Don't go looking for the save function either, because now you can only save between stages. Even the instruction book took a hit, being much thinner and printed on cheap paper. The controls have been revamped, with the A and C buttons controlling your left and right hands, respectively. Being able to use the shoulder buttons to strafe is a huge improvement. Unfortunately, the 3DO controller's lack of buttons means you're forced to hit combinations to perform basic actions like adjusting the camera and changing weapons. For example, to look up you need to press B and R at the same time - not very intuitive!
The audio has been noticeably upgraded with digitized sounds like nervous violins and ethereal chimes. Unfortunately the game goes completely silent whenever the disk is accessed - which is quite often! These are small potatoes compared to the putrid design of DeathKeep's opening stage. As you explore blue caves, you'll slide on ice, burn yourself in boiling water, and be swept along by a flowing river. How all three of these can coexist in such a small area I have no idea. While struggling to navigate, you're constantly getting caught up on the numerous nooks and crannies along the hallways.
Worse yet, you're almost immediately confronted by "ice trolls" who are - get this - impervious to weapon attacks! To me, these things seem indicative of poor game design. DeathKeep made me miserable, and if not for a cheat code I may have never seen stage two. Once there, the game felt a lot more like Slayer, but less enjoyable to play. © Copyright 2009 The Video Game Critic.
The game itself is a hodgepodge of game styles, none of which excel in any way. The best and most prevalent stages are the light gun levels. While best played with a light gun (obviously), these stages also work well with a joypad, believe it or not. The digitized thugs look great and provide a nice variety of targets. In the museum stages, instead of shooting bad guys you instead need to shoot parts of the scenery that will reveal hiding villain Simon Phoenix (played by Wesley Snipes). There are even a few 2D fighting stages thrown in that play like a bad Mortal Kombat clone.
Another poorly-executed stage is the first-person underground tunnel sequence. You mow down bad guys while searching for the end of the tunnel, but you can't harm Simon Phoenix who antagonizes you nonstop! Everything looks the same down there so if you want any chance of escaping, I'd recommend sticking to the left or right the whole time. The final stage is driving, which looks great but is remarkably shallow. I love the smooth scaling and dark scenery but all you're really doing is dodging cars. Demolition Man is impressive at times, but probably more fun to watch than play. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.
The first set of stages are set in some dusty southern town. It feels a lot like Mad Dog McCree (3DO, 1993) as outlaws tumble off rooftops and hurl themselves through plate-glass windows. The game alternates between two types of action scenes. During semi-randomized shootouts the camera remains still as you pick off bad guys who pop out of the woodwork. Then we have the hand-held camera scenes that venture through bars, yachts, and drug houses. It's satisfying to shoot thugs as you round each corner, your trigger finger running on pure adrenaline. The light gun is fairly accurate but it's a good idea to unload two or three shots "just to be safe". The driving shootouts are kind of a joke. It's really hard to see what's happening in the other cars so just keep shooting at the windows until the car runs into a gas station station or goes off a cliff.
The next set of stages are set in Chicago as you shoot your way through a factory, courthouse, and bus-chase sequence. The acting is cheesy as all hell but that just adds to the fun. The industrial facility has a very creepy atmosphere with the pervasive sound of grinding metal. The third set of stages takes place at "the border" where you'll shoot up boats, marinas, and beach parties. The pace becomes very quick so take care not to shoot an innocent bystander. There may be more stages but limited continues will only get you so far. Drug Wars isn't a bad game. It lacks replay value, but you'll have fun the first time through. Note: Light gun games only work on old-style CRT televisions. Crank up the brightness for best results. © Copyright 2019 The Video Game Critic.
But the best aspect of Monster Manor is the audio. Its background music is incredibly eerie and the gristly sound effects will send chills down your spine. You often get the impression that something terrible is waiting for you in the next room! One aspect I didn't like was how fast your life and ammo drains and constantly needs replenishing. In some areas you're practically tripping over supplies, while in others they are painfully rare. And boy did I get tired of picking up all those gems and coins which apparently only affect your score. Despite its flaws, Monster Manor is a pretty captivating experience, and one you won't find on any other console. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.
But what surprised me most about FIFA is its amazing audio. If you have a surround sound system, you'll definitely want to crank it up for this game. The crowd sound effects are remarkably clear, with chants that resonate through the speakers, making you feel "in the game". FIFA's rich option screens let you adjust the camera angles, weather conditions, game length, penalties, and music. Just be sure to change the playing mode to "sim", because the "action" mode is just insane. As a sweet bonus, halftime videos feature "great moments in soccer". Sure to please fans and non-fans alike, FIFA is one of the best soccer titles I've ever come across. © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.
Playing the game involves naming the most popular answers to survey questions like "name something that goes very fast" or "give me a word you might hear on the golf course." If one family can't guess all the answers, the other family can "steal". The unpredictable questions pretty much run the gamut. While playing this with my wife I nervously fumbled through "name a gift that will soothe a wife's ruffled feathers". Certain questions show their age, like "name something you wish you could quit doing right now". The number one answer? Smoking! An intuitive user interface makes it a breeze to enter letters, erase, and register your final answer. You don't even need to be exact! "Diamonds" will count as "jewelry", and "doctor" gives you credit as "physician". The CPU opponent isn't too bright but it sure is fun to watch him type so fast!
The television-style presentation follows the format of the show, with hokey music and digitized families that react properly when they win or lose. There's very little fluff so the action moves along at a brisk pace. I guess I'm still a little fuzzy on the rules, as there are times when I thought I had won, but lost. Oh well, Family Feud is a fun game with universal appeal. It may be hard to find a decent working copy of this game but if you do, you're in for a treat. © Copyright 2016 The Video Game Critic.
The cockpit has an amazing photo-realistic quality. There are dozens of switches and indicators and I'm pretty sure most of them mean something. Likewise the HUD is loaded with visual indicators, some of which are more critical than others. For example, you need to keep an eye on your altitude but not your G-force.
Getting off the aircraft carrier requires practice and I still struggle with it. You hold the left trigger and press up to accelerate. You need to press the right trigger and B to disengage the brake, but I can't seem to do that until my plane is moving. It's exhilarating when you finally take to the air, partly because it feels like a small miracle.
Your radar makes it pretty easy to locate objectives - from a distance at least. Once you get in close, it's not obvious what structure you're supposed to destroy. I tend to just blow up the first building I see and hope it's not an orphanage. Laggy controls make it tricky to line up your target, and overcompensating will send you into a death spiral. The display may tell you to pull up, but which way is up??
It feels as if your plane is moving very slowly. Passing a target and having to circle back is very tedious and time-consuming. The digital pad isn't very precise, so even simple bank turns tend to be perilously wobbly. The controls can be unresponsive. Sometimes I press a specific combination of keys as described in the manual and nothing seems to happen.
I did manage to complete a few missions, and I can attest that the most satisfying part of any mission is returning to the carrier in autopilot mode, allowing you to kick back and sip your beer as your plane skillfully brings itself in for a landing. God knows I'd never be able to land it on my own.
Playing Flying Nightmares today is a lot like getting a vintage automobile up and running. There's an additional degree of satisfaction to be derived from overcoming the challenge of working within the limitations of older technology. This game doesn't hold your hand, so if you complete a mission you know you've earned your stripes. © Copyright 2022 The Video Game Critic.
Foes of Ali attempts to be as realistic as possible, for better or worse. The fights play out much like in real life, with fighters that come out strong but are dead tired by the third round. The game doesn't do a good job of conveying Ali's ability to dance around - all of these guys are pretty slow. Blood and sweat flies for each blow but the hits don't appear to be too devastating. And when the fighters clench it just looks silly.
Each round is scored realistically by three judges. Foes of Ali has its moments and I even managed to stage some exciting late-round comebacks. As your fighter wears out however the controls become less responsive, which makes sense but feels like a drag.
A few other flaws nearly ruined the game for me. Fighters regain almost all of their energy between rounds, which is ludicrous. In any other boxing game these meters would indicate how close a fighter was to going down. But here a fighter can go down with plenty of energy remaining. On the flip side, a fighter can keep going long after his energy has depleted!
Foes of Ali scores big in the options department. You have complete control over the boxing rules (rounds, scoring, judges) and customization options (difficulty, blood, screen info). There are 21 camera angles to choose from but most are worthless and some are utterly ridiculous. Foes of Ali definitely has a lot going for it but lacks the punch you would expect. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.
Screen shots courtesy of Video Game Museum