system Index D-F
Daedalus Encounter, The
Grade: C-
Publisher: Virgin (1995)
Reviewed: 2005/3/16

screenshotDespite their low budget special effects and laughable acting, I generally enjoy these old full-motion video (FMV) games. But unlike most titles of the genre, this one had some decent financing. Daedalus Encounter features snazzy visuals and a nice soundtrack, but it's all a facade. Much of the eye candy comes in the form of Tia Carrere, recognizable as the vixen from films Wayne's World and True Lies. Here she plays Ariel, captain of a renegade starship, and Zack is her smart-aleck copilot. You play the role of Casey, some poor schmuck who got blasted to bits on a previous mission. As the third "member" of the crew, Casey is just a brain floating in a box with wires connected to a computer system. By holding the right shoulder button, you have a list of commands you can perform, such as analyzing objects or controlling a remote control probe.

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.

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1 player 

If you like this game, try: Mighty Morphin Power Rangers (Sega CD)
Brain Age (Nintendo DS)
Brain Dead 13 (CD) (Jaguar)
It Came From The Desert (CD) (Turbografx-16)
Namco Museum Volume 2 (Playstation)

DeathKeep
Grade: F
Publisher: Strategic Simulations (1995)
Reviewed: 2009/11/13


screenshotThere's probably a decent D&D game buried in here somewhere, but DeathKeep was a freaking nightmare to review. As the sequel to Slayer (3DO, 1994), this first-person dungeon crawler lets you wield weapons and cast spells against hostile creatures in underground mazes. There are plenty of items to collect, and managing your inventory is key. The monsters are impressively rendered but look no better than those in Slayer. As a matter of fact you'll face a lot of the very same creatures. Unlike Slayer's flat dungeons, DeathKeep incorporates ramps and platforms of various heights. Unfortunately this causes camera problems.

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.

1 player 

If you like this game, try: Slayer (3DO)
Space Hulk (Saturn)
Nightcaster (Xbox)
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Sacrifice (Europe) (Nintendo DS)
Towers II (Jaguar)

Demolition Man
Grade: D+
Publisher: Virgin (1993)
Reviewed: 2002/8/3


screenshot"Send a maniac to catch a maniac." That's Sylvester Stallone's tag line in Demolition Man, a game that blurs the line between film and video game. Not only does this game follow the movie's storyline from beginning to end, it contains lengthy video clips from the movie. In fact Sylvester Stallone actually shot extra video footage just for this game. Sly even cut video for the options menu! Choose the regular difficulty and he'll say, "You're doing the right thing", but pick the easy difficulty and he'll say "you suck". You have to appreciate that level of detail (and honesty!) The production quality is sky high and the overall presentation really elevates this otherwise mediocre action title.

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.

1 player 

If you like this game, try: Demolition Man (Genesis)
Demolition Man (Sega CD)
Disney's Hercules (Playstation)
Gunfighter: The Legend of Jesse James (Playstation)
Ultimate Mortal Kombat (Nintendo DS)

Dennis Miller: That's News To Me
Grade: F
Publisher: Laugh (1994)
Reviewed: 2001/10/29

screenshotArmed with a sardonic wit, Dennis Miller was perfect as the news anchor on Saturday Night Live in the early 1990's. It's a shame the laughs on this disk are so few and far between. Like a multimedia experiment gone awry, That's News To Me falls flat. It's not a game and is only vaguely interactive. You can select from categories of jokes like politics, entertainment, and sports. As usual Dennis trots out his usual sarcasm and obscure references, but there are no images for him to play off of, so he might as well be doing stand-up. Without a live audience the jokes don't seem to land, and sometimes the jokes are over-edited, cutting off before Dennis can laugh or toss in a wisecrack (as he would do on SNL). For the most part Dennis appears to be reading off a cue card, and most of the jokes (circa 1994) are now outdated. If you put this thing on "shuffle" you can sit back and watch for quite a while before the jokes start to repeat. That's News To Me didn't make me laugh, but I did smile a few times. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.
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1 player 

If you like this game, try: Las Vegas Poker and Blackjack (Intellivision)
NBA Live 96 (Super Nintendo)
Title Match Pro Wrestling (Atari 2600)
Super Dimension Fortress Macross, The (Japan) (Saturn)
Namco Museum Volume 4 (Playstation)

Doom
Grade: F
Publisher: Id Software (1995)
Reviewed: 2012/1/17

screenshotOf all the versions I've played of Doom (and I've played most of them) this 3DO edition may be the sorriest. I can't get over the fact that the screen is severely cropped, despite screenshots on the box that provide no indication of this "feature"! The lack of full screen support is bad enough but the 3DO even struggles to render the action on the small screen! My friend Scott noted "I'm already seeing slow-down, and there aren't even any monsters yet!" The textures look fine but the uneven frame-rate is enough to make you queasy. When ambushed by a band of imps the game practically comes to a stand-still! Random, intermittent disc accesses also disrupt the flow of the game. I expected the 3DO to excel in terms of control, considering its controllers have shoulder buttons to facilitate strafing. Sadly the controls feel mushy and unresponsive. Certain levels offer high-octane music, but those blazing guitar riffs are more suitable for an 80's rock video. Doom on the 3DO is a lost cause. I find it interesting that a console billed as the "ultimate multi-media player" couldn't even handle the premiere first-person shooter of its time. © Copyright 2012 The Video Game Critic.
1 player 

If you like this game, try: Doom (Sega 32X)
Doom (Jaguar)
Doom (Saturn)
Guitar Hero Encore: Rocks The 80s (Playstation 2)
Doom (Super Nintendo)

Dragon's Lair
Grade: D
Publisher: Readysoft (1993)
Reviewed: 2001/9/22

screenshotYou either love or hate this full-motion video (FMV) arcade game. I remember when I first saw Dragon's Lair in an Ocean City arcade in 1983. Nobody could last for more than a minute, yet I couldn't take my eyes off the gorgeous animated graphics. It's basically an interactive cartoon that requires you to input the right movements at exact times. Don Bluth's animation is sensational and the audio track is equally impressive. This 3DO version provides the cleanest video I've seen on a console but the difficulty is excessive. There's no room for error, with zero audio feedback or clues as to what you should do. As a result it comes down to a matter of trial and error, which can be frustrating to say the least. In addition, the rooms are in a fixed order, and using continues requires you to repeat some areas you've already been through. Dragon's Lair for the 3DO looks the part but first-time players should avoid this version. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.
1 player 

If you like this game, try: Space Ace (CD) (Jaguar)
Dragon's Lair (CD) (Jaguar)
Dragon's Lair (Game Boy Color)
Dragon's Lair Trilogy (Nintendo Switch)
Dragon's Lair (Sega CD)

Drug Wars
Grade: C
Publisher: American Laser Games (1995)
Reviewed: 2019/8/4

screenshotDrug Wars is a guilty pleasure that doesn't promise much... and delivers! As the sequel to Crime Patrol (3DO, 1995) it follows the exact same formula, employing live action video clips with people purporting to be actors. The game is designed to work with a light gun and I wouldn't advise trying to play with anything else. The intro suggests exotic adventure with drug kingpins and sexy babes lounging around in bikinis. What more incentive do you need?

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.

1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: Mad Dog II: The Lost Gold (3DO)
Mad Dog McCree (Philips CD-i)
Crime Patrol (Sega CD)
Mad Dog McCree Gunslinger Pack (Wii)
Die Hard Trilogy 2 (Playstation)

Escape From Monster Manor
Grade: B
Publisher: Electronic Arts (1993)
Reviewed: 2001/9/22

screenshotAs a fan of Haunted Houses I found Monster Manor very appealing, despite the fact that it's really a thinly-veiled Doom clone. Your mission is to collect pieces of a Talisman scattered through an old house. This house is huge with each floor consisting of endless rooms and corridors. You'll find spooky items like coffins, statues, and hanging bodies, but for the most part the rooms are wide open and start looking the same after a while. You'll constantly need to consult your map to figure out where to go next. The semi-transparent ghosts are nicely rendered but they could have been scarier, having been modeled in clay. The controls are responsive. Your movements are fast and smooth with the shoulder buttons providing a handy strafe function.

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.

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1 player 

If you like this game, try: Haunted House (Wii)
Haunted House II 3D (Atari 5200)
Doom 64 (Nintendo 64)
Mansion of Hidden Souls (Sega CD)
Pac-Man World (Playstation)

FIFA International Soccer
Grade: A
Publisher: Electronic Arts (1995)
Reviewed: 2006/2/13

screenshotPerhaps the strongest title in the 3DO sports lineup, FIFA International Soccer has realism for die-hard fans and non-stop action for the casual gamer. I always enjoyed FIFA on the Sega Genesis, but its small, grainy characters were hard to make out. The 3DO hardware is better up to the task, rendering sharper, more real-looking players. The game is very easy to play, with a camera that effectively rotates and zooms to keep you on top of the action. Your players always seem to be in the perfect position to receive passes, and switching control between them is painless. Whether you're playing against the CPU or competing with five friends the competition is always intense, especially around the goal.

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.

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1 to 6 players 

If you like this game, try: FIFA International Soccer (Genesis)
FIFA 2002 (Playstation 2)
International Soccer (Atari 2600)
Super Mario Strikers (GameCube)
FIFA 2001 (Playstation 2)

Family Feud
Grade: B+
Publisher: Gametek (1994)
Reviewed: 2016/6/8

screenshotThis video game adaptation of a long-running game show is an unlikely gem in the 3DO library. Premiering way back in 1976 (!), Family Feud peaked in popularity during the 80's when it was hosted by the charming Richard Dawson. Richard always made it a point to kiss all of the lady contestants. Sadly, he is not in this game. The contestants include four ethnically-diverse families. You'd think this would be a great party game, yet it only supports two players (using one controller).

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.

1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: Wheel of Fortune (Tiger Game.com)
Word Zapper (Atari 2600)
Jeopardy! (Super Nintendo)
Jeopardy! (Playstation)
Remote Control (NES)

Foes of Ali
Grade: D
Publisher: Electronic Arts (1995)
Reviewed: 2002/12/18


screenshotThis ambitious boxing title puts you in the ring as Muhammad Ali, facing other big-named opponents like Joe Frazier and Leon Spinks. These 3D graphics must have been incredible in 1995. The boxers are composed of polygons with bitmapped textures, and they look amazing.

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.

1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: Realsports Boxing (Atari 2600)
Evander Holyfield's Real Deal Boxing (Genesis)
Boxing (Intellivision)
Toughman Contest (Sega 32X)
Legend of Success Joe, The (Neo Geo)


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