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Mad Dog II: The Lost Gold
Grade: D-
Publisher: American Laser Games (1994)
Reviewed: 2013/5/9

screenshotMag Dog McCree needed a second game like Howard the Duck needed a movie sequel. Mad Dog II combines full-motion video (FMV) with light gun shooting, and the results are distressing to say the least! You play the role of a cowboy hero who must shoot outlaws and protect hotties in the old west. The production values aren't bad. The stagecoaches look authentic and there are some interesting locations like gold mines and an Indian reservation.

Bad guys appear in each scene but are impervious to fire until they raise their weapons. The collision detection is lousy, and that's pretty much a deal-breaker in a light gun game. My best advice to unload a series of shots on each guy in the hopes that you'll get lucky. Sometimes a good shot won't register and sometimes a bad shot will.

The acted video sequences are bad but in a funny way. I find it amusing how shot outlaws always go out of their way to throw themselves off the nearest balcony for the longest, most dramatic death sequence possible. I guess the best thing I can say about Mad Dog 2 is it's not Mad Dog 1. There's less dialogue to sit through, less loading, and the shooting is a bit more forgiving. That said, it's often hard to tell when (or who) you're supposed to shoot. Mad Dog 2 is a modest upgrade at best. © Copyright 2013 The Video Game Critic.

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Our high score: 4,700
1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: Mad Dog McCree (Philips CD-i)
Mad Dog McCree (3DO)
Mad Dog McCree Gunslinger Pack (Wii)
Corpse Killer (3DO)
Confidential Mission (Dreamcast)

Mad Dog McCree
Grade: F-
Publisher: American Laser Games (1993)
Reviewed: 2013/5/9

screenshotGames like this one give full-motion video (FMV) titles a bad name. Oh wait - they already had a bad name. In that case, this one gives light gun titles a bad name. What's that? They have a bad name too? I guess Mad Dog McCree offers the worst of both worlds. The first time I played I couldn't even figure out how to get started! Then I discovered a tiny little black button that looks like a screw on the left side of my American Gamegun. Nice design there!

The action begins with some old man rambling on and on about Mad Dog and his gang. He went on so long I tried to shoot the old coot! Apparently Mad Dog is a notorious outlaw with a penchant for wearing heavy eyeliner. The game feels like a first-person tour of the Wild West, with shoot-outs in dusty banks, corrals, jails, and saloons. You can use either a light gun or controller, but neither one is up to the task. The light gun is vaguely accurate but there's no reticle to use as a guide. The controller option sucks because you need to drag the cursor to the bottom of the screen just to reload! When the outlaws show up, you can't shoot them until they draw their guns, leaving you only a split-second to take a perfect shot. There's no immediate feedback so you might have to wait a few seconds to see what happened. The next clip will either be the other guy collapsing or a doctor chiding you for being so bad a shot.

I can handle high difficulty but the collision detection is borderline broken! It's not uncommon to shoot an outlaw perfectly and not have your shot fail to register at all. Mad Dog McCree has a few good ideas like selectable stages and branching paths, but overall it's a trainwreck. © Copyright 2013 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 450
1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: Mad Dog McCree (Philips CD-i)
Mad Dog II: The Lost Gold (3DO)
Mad Dog McCree Gunslinger Pack (Wii)
Corpse Killer (3DO)
Lethal Enforcers II: Gunfighters (Sega CD)

Need For Speed
Grade: A-
Publisher: Electronic Arts (1994)
Reviewed: 2010/12/7

screenshotUnlike many early 3D racers, Need for Speed has aged remarkably well. It offers a potent combination of slick visuals, realistic physics, and tight controls. Despite its emphasis on realism Need for Speed is actually a lot of fun to play! You can compete against the clock or go head-to-head with a CPU-controlled Don Johnson look-alike. Notice there's no split-screen mode, which is certainly a drawback but not a deal-breaker.

There are eight cars to select from including a Ferrari 512, Porsche 911, and a Lamborghini Diablo. Each features an impressive video showcase, and gazing at the sharp car photos on the load screens gets you psyched up about driving. The vehicles handle exceptionally well, allowing you to weave through two-lane traffic at dangerously high speeds. Your car tends to labor while climbing mountain roads, but you can build up serious momentum heading downhill. Being on the edge of losing control makes it all the more exciting. It seems like I always wipe out as soon as the finish line comes into view, only to watch that bastard "Crocket" cruise right on by.

Graphically, Need for Speed is a stunning 3DO tour-de-force that even makes the Playstation version look weak. From its sunny coastal highways to winding mountain roads to industrial urban areas, the scenery has an authentic, digitized look you rarely see anymore. I love the shadowing effects as you drive over bridges, as well as the muffled audio while whisking through the tunnels. I detected no draw-in, pop-up, or frame-rate stutters. I actually prefer playing the game using the first-person "cockpit" view!

After each race you have the option of viewing a highlight reel that effectively replays the best parts of the race. High scores and initials are saved automatically. It may seem a little slow compared to modern-day racers, but when it comes to sheer playability, Need for Speed is the real deal. © Copyright 2010 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 9,293
2 player 

If you like this game, try: Need For Speed (Playstation)
Sega Rally Championship (Saturn)
Rad Racer (NES)
Burnout (GameCube)
Pursuit Force (PSP)

Night Trap
Grade: A-
Publisher: Digital Pictures (1993)
Reviewed: 2012/10/13

screenshotI was a big fan of this full-motion video extravaganza on the Sega CD and 32X, so I had high hopes for the 3DO version. Night Trap is a controversial title that lets you monitor eight rooms of a house, trying to capture "augers" out to kidnap girls at a slumber party. Some critics mocked its cheesy acting, but the low-budget scenes have a nostalgic, B-movie charm.

You begin the game with your "commander" briefing you on your mission, but while he's yapping away the story is already unfolding, so don't wait for him to finish. Beating the game requires a lot of trial and error - and luck. As you flip between cameras you'll catch bits and pieces of the story while keeping an eye out for creeping augers. You'll want to memorize (and write down) key events like trap code changes, as missing these will cut your mission short. The auger locations are randomized to a modest extent. I like how events occur concurrently in different rooms because it means you can see something new every time you play. I'm amazed at how the designers managed to orchestrate all of the scenes so well. The action really heats up if you can make it to disc two, but it's not an easy feat.

So how does this 3DO version stack up? Well, the video area is about the size of the 32X version, but the quality is better. The scenery looks less grainy but the frame-rate is slightly degraded. The best part about this 3DO edition is how you can quickly switch between cameras. There's a second or two of static when you switch cameras on the Sega CD or 32X, but in this version the transition is almost instantaneous. I also noticed that the audio is clearer than the Sega games. Night Trap isn't a perfect game, but it's highly original and a lot of fun if you give it a chance. With cleaner video and more responsive controls, this may be the definitive version of the game. © Copyright 2012 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 41
1 player 

If you like this game, try: Night Trap (CD) (Sega 32X)
Night Trap (Sega CD)
Night Trap: 25th Anniversary Edition (Nintendo Switch)
Night Trap: 25th Anniversary Edition (Playstation 4)
Double Switch (Saturn)

Novastorm
Grade: C-
Publisher: Psygnosis (1994)
Reviewed: 2010/12/7

screenshotNovastorm's full-motion video intro shows several galactic commanders on monitors discussing a galactic crisis, and their conversation made me very sleepy. Fortunately the scene soon gives way to a starship taking off. The ship is rendered with vivid color and excellent lighting, complemented by a surreal musical score. Psygnosis clearly spared no expense on Novastorm which still looks impressive in 2010.

The game is played via a third-person view as you pilot a ship over various planetary surfaces while blasting alien ships that scale in and out of view. All of the obligatory fire/ice/desert environments are included, and they look very nice as you glide smoothly across their surfaces. Advanced levels even incorporate bridges, columns, and other structures you'll need to avoid (although they only inflict minimal damage). Your cannons are semi-automatic so a controller with a turbo switch may come in handy. Power-ups appear early and often, but I try to stick with the wide triple-shot. The pulsating technical music is one of the highlights of the game, and the stereo sound is also noticeably good.

Blowing up waves of alien ships is fun for a while thanks to the satisfying explosion effects, but much like Sega's After Burner, your own ship tends to obstruct your view. Enemies keep reappearing in the same formations, causing the action to become monotonous. Well-produced cut-scenes tie the stages together and they're worth watching. Periodic boss encounters include showdowns with a flaming bird and a giant scorpion. You get a generous supply of bombs (three per ship), and I would recommend using them exclusively on the bosses. It's hard to tell if you're inflicting any damage on these mechanical beasts until an FMV "death scene" finally kicks in.

Before you begin playing Novastorm do yourself a big favor and dial the number of lives down to 5, because the default of 7 makes for an excruciatingly long game. High scores are recorded automatically along with initials. Novastorm's visuals and soundtrack have easily stood the test of time, but I'm afraid it's largely a case of style over substance. © Copyright 2010 The Video Game Critic.

Recommended variation: 5 lives
Our high score: 10,986,420
1 player 

If you like this game, try: Ray Storm (Playstation)
Terra Attack (Colecovision)
Turbo Sub (Lynx)
Ray Crisis (Playstation)
Surgical Strike (Sega CD)

Oceans Below
Grade: NA
Publisher: Amazing Media (1993)
Reviewed: 2002/9/15

screenshotAn old 3DO magazine ad suggested that playing this game would cause the ocean itself to pour forth from your television set, flooding your living room and leaving you with an octopus on your lap. "It's the closest you'll ever come to diving without getting wet!" Not wanting to take any chances, before playing Oceans Below I put on a wetsuit, snorkel, and flippers, only to look like a total ass when my in-laws stopped by unannounced.

As it turns out, this "interactive experience" is more like browsing the special feature menu of a DVD. You simply navigate graphical menus with a cursor and click on fish for more information. Sure, there are some videos of people diving or conveying safety tips, but these small, grainy video clips hardly convey the "20,000 leagues under the sea" experience I had in mind.

You begin by choosing one of the numerous worldwide dive locations, and are presented with a composite photograph showing a static ocean floor. Then can then scroll around the picture and click on objects, which initiate short but informative videos explaining what the heck you just clicked on. There are over 200 clips, and thankfully they tend to be short, although the picture quality should have been better. Occasionally you'll stumble across tiny pieces of "not-so-buried treasure", but it's not too exciting. I suppose you could learn something from this CD, especially if you're interested in diving, but the load times really ruined it for me. In the end, it's just another failed 3DO experiment. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 

If you like this game, try: Treasure Cove (Bally Astrocade)
King of Fighters 98 (CD) (Neo Geo)
Funky Fish (Atari 2600)
Dragon's Lair (Sega CD)
Animals, The (Sega CD)

Off-World Interceptor
Grade: C
Publisher: Crystal Dynamics (1994)
Reviewed: 2021/3/10

screenshotThe back of Off-World Interceptor's box exclaims "You'll blow chunks!" And to think - this isn't even a VR title! At its core Off-World is a sloppy intergalactic polygon racer. It may have been fine in its day but now it's too choppy and chaotic. Driving a souped-up moon buggy over hilly terrain, you're trying to survive an onslaught of missiles and vehicle collisions. If not for its live-action cut-scenes Off-World Interceptor would have been relegated to the scrap heap of history.

The game's opening video features a squad of mercenaries being chewed out by some maniacal commander and his hot female lieutenant. It's textbook stuff as FMV game go except for the silhouettes of two comedians on the bottom. These guys pick apart each scene with searing humor and irreverent quips. My friends were rolling! It's hard to tell if these scenes were intended to be the subject of such mockery. The manual doesn't mention them at all so it's possible they were tacked on after the publisher realized the game itself wasn't very good.

Prior to each "chase" you'll outfit your ride with weapons and power-ups, and I'd advise loading up on the armor. You can constantly fire forward and I will admit there are some very cool explosions with pixelated tires flying in all directions. Too bad the lousy frame rate makes it hard to tell what's going on half the time. It's hard to pick up repair icons when you're constantly getting rammed into. Survive long enough to reach the finish and you're rewarded with another fun cut-scene. Off-World Interceptor is an enigma. It's a pretty bad game. I'd recommend it. © Copyright 2021 The Video Game Critic.

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1 player 

If you like this game, try: Off-World Interceptor Extreme (Playstation)
PaTaank (3DO)
Doom (Saturn)
NBA Live 96 (Super Nintendo)
Moon Patrol (Atari XEGS)


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