system Index A-J
Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker
Grade: D
Publisher: Ubisoft (2000)
Reviewed: 2020/4/3

screenshotBased on yet another animated television show from the 90's, Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker is a different breed. There's a new Batman in town named Terry who's decked out in a black outfit with a red insignia. His mentor is an elderly Bruce Wayne - the original Batman. The gameplay is unusual as well. It's a side-scrolling brawler where you move in and out of the screen a la Double Dragon (NES, 1988). I normally love that style of play, but the animation here is pretty choppy.

Batman can punch, kick, and equip special weapons like nunchucks. He'll face a lot of scary bad guys including minotaurs, dog-men, and laser-shooting robots. There are traps as well, and Batman's ability to glide comes in handy for avoiding flames or spikes. Batman Beyond has a solid storyline and cool music that picks up in intensity when the action does.

What ruins the game is its confusing, maze-like stages. Every room looks the same, with doors and elevators leading all over the place. When you clear a room the Batman Beyond logo flashes on the screen and it kind of looks like an arrow. Is it telling me to go somewhere? That's what I thought, but then I ended up back in an old area where I had to fight the same goons all over again. Ugh. Batman Beyond could have been an intriguing title, but the game makes you feel like you're on some never-ending wild goose chase. © Copyright 2020 The Video Game Critic.

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If you like this game, try: Return of Double Dragon (Super Nintendo)
Batman: The Animated Series (Game Boy)
Batman: Return of the Joker (Game Boy)
Double Dragon (CD) (Neo Geo)
Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker (Nintendo 64)

Batman: Chaos in Gotham
Grade: D
Publisher: Ubisoft (2000)
Reviewed: 2020/4/3

screenshotChaos in Gotham begins with an exciting introduction that plays out in complete silence. What the heck is going on? The cutscenes are the same way. That's a bug, right? It's a shame because the game seems faithful to the New Batman Adventures television show. Batman runs in an exaggerated manner but is fluidly animated. In addition to jump-kicks and punches he has a useful dash move that stuns enemies before they can get off that first shot.

Beating up bad guys would be more fun if the sound effects were synced up better. But the platform jumping where Chaos in Gotham really falters. You can jump to hang onto a ledge and pull yourself up, but you need to be at just the right pixel to grab. It's not always clear where that spot is, and you'll incur a lot of damage trying to find it! The first stage is an ice palace that turns out to be the lair of Mr. Freeze (spoiler alert!).

The second stage is a museum where you find yourself fighting on the bones of fossilized dinosaurs before meeting the Joker and Harley. The third stage takes place on a train and features Two-Face. Each stage has its own villain! There are a few puzzles that usually require the sliding of blocks. Batgirl stars in several stages including a high speed motorcycle ride. Chaos in Gotham has all the ingredients for an action-packed adventure, but it feels too sloppy and uncooked to recommend. © Copyright 2020 The Video Game Critic.

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Save mechanism: password
1 player 

If you like this game, try: Batman: The Animated Series (Game Boy)
Batman Vengeance (Playstation 2)
Batman Begins (Game Boy Advance)
Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker (Game Boy Color)
Batman: Vengeance (Game Boy Advance)

Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Grade: D
Publisher: THQ (2000)
Reviewed: 2008/9/30
Rating: Everyone (animated violence)

screenshotDespite a killer license, Buffy the Vampire Slayer doesn't have much to offer. Our blonde heroine simply kicks and punches her way through generic undead thugs in repetitive side-scrolling stages. The character sprites are flat but the animation is surprisingly fluid, calling to mind Flashback for the Genesis (1993). The fighting action is shallow, but hearing a ghoul shriek as you stake him through the heart is satisfying. Sometimes you're even treated to flying body parts!

The graveyard, mansion, and zoo locations are remarkably dull, and the sewers stages are marred by awkward platform jumping. Buffy's visuals are so dark that it can be tough to make out your enemies at times. Speaking of which, it's easy to get the impression that you're fighting the same zombie over and over again, who keeps returning in a new outfit!

The game isn't hard and there's no score, so where's the challenge? It feels like you're just going through the motions as you mindlessly forge ahead, scribbling down a new password after each stage. At least the jaunty soundtrack is relatively good, striking a nice balance between creepy and funky. The illustrated cut-scenes look rough, but the witty dialogue is consistent with the show, tossing out references to several episodes. Even so, Buffy fans will regard this as more of a collectible than a source of entertainment. © Copyright 2008 The Video Game Critic.

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If you like this game, try: Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Wrath of the Darkhul King (Game Boy Advance)
Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Xbox)
Flashback (Sega CD)
Renegade (NES)
Double Dragon (Genesis)

Disney's Tarzan
Grade: F
Publisher: Activision (1999)
Reviewed: 2021/7/19
Rating: Everyone

screenshotThe first thing you should know about Tarzan is that it makes an annoying, God-forsaken buzzing noise when played on anything but an original Game Boy Color. Since I have a Game Boy SP I'm forced to play with the volume down. After such a lousy first impression you'd think my opinion had nowhere to go but up. Nope! This game sucks, man.

You begin as a young Tarzan collecting bananas in the jungle. Whether swinging on vines, climbing walls, or scampering on all fours, that trademark Disney animation is impressive. Visual surprises abound like a crocodile leaping from the water to nip at your heels.

Every stage begins with a banana fetch quest and you typically need to gather 45 of the things. The lush jungle stages tend to be expansive areas you can explore in a number of ways. One downside is that when you fall there's a good chance you'll find yourself all the way back at the starting point. After obtaining the necessary bananas your next quest is to locate the monkey named Turk in the same freaking stage. This game reuses stages like a Starbucks barista reuses that disgusting rag!

Our agile hero can transit from A to B quite fast when you know where you're going, but until you get the lay of the land the game is frustrating. You don't know how far you can creep out on a ledge without slipping off. You can't tell what surfaces are climbable until you try. Running causes you to run smack into dangerous animals like snakes and monkeys which blend right into the scenery. Half the time when you die you won't even know why.

Eventually you'll play as other characters like a baby gorilla or a grown Tarzan, but they all control pretty much the same. Collecting bananas gets old after a while. Heck, you even need to gather them in the pirate ship stage! Give me a break. There doesn't seem to be any way to attack in this game, and that's a shame. Disney's Tarzan needs less bananas and more violence. And that goes for all those other Disney games too. © Copyright 2021 The Video Game Critic.

Save mechanism: password
1 player 

If you like this game, try: Tarzan (Colecovision)
Jungle Hunt (Colecovision)
Super Monkey Ball (GameCube)
Jungle Book (Genesis)
Jungle Hunt (Atari XEGS)

Dragon's Lair
Grade: B
Publisher: Capcom (2001)
Reviewed: 2003/8/31

screenshotHere's an unlikely title for the Gameboy Color - an interactive animated movie featuring full-screen video! Yes, this is the original laserdisc game, not some lousy 2D platformer with a Dragon's Lair license. Dragon's Lair is a tall order for the Game Boy Color, but the results are interesting. Obviously the system can't replicate the gorgeous animation of the original game, but the graphics are sufficient for the most part.

It might be hard for new players to tell what's going on at times, but personally I had a ball playing this. In some ways it actually plays better than the original game, particularly with regard to pacing. This action moves swiftly from one room with the next without the constant loading that bogs down the disk versions. Although the gameplay still relies heavily on trial and error, the controls are more responsive and provide confirmation beeps to signal a good or bad move.

There seem to be fewer actions to take in each room, which compensates for some of the hard-to-see graphics. The stages are presented at random, and sometimes even "mirrored" to keep you on your toes. Except for some musical fanfares, the game is played in relative silence. All things considered, Dragon's Lair is still a good time, especially if you have fond memories of the original. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 

If you like this game, try: Dragon's Lair (3DO)
Space Ace (CD) (Jaguar)
Dragon's Lair (Sega CD)
Dragon's Lair II: Time Warp (Playstation 3)
Dragonstomper (Atari 2600)

Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine
Grade: D+
Publisher: THQ (2001)
Reviewed: 2008/5/23

screenshotIndiana Jones was always great on the big screen, but how would he look on the smallest screen of all? The answer: like a little spider! Wow, these characters are small. Close examination reveals some interesting animation, but still.

Infernal Machine's gameplay features Tomb Raider-esque shooting and platform jumping, but the 2D environments are poorly rendered. Multiple shades are used to convey depth, but it's hard to tell where you can and can't go. It's not unusual to fall unexpectedly or run smack into an invisible wall.

The gunplay is unrealistic but effective - just face an enemy's general direction and unload. Sometimes you'll engage in comical shootouts with a Nazi standing right in front of you. The platform action is weak, but not as bad as the underwater mazes you have to swim through as your air supply depletes.

On a positive note, the stages are reasonable in size, and the user interface makes it easy to manage your inventory. My favorite part of this game occurred when I blew up a wall with a grenade - much like I did 23 years earlier while playing Raiders of the Lost Ark (Atari 2600) with my sister. But besides conjuring fond memories of other games, Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine doesn't have much to offer. © Copyright 2008 The Video Game Critic.

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If you like this game, try: Raiders of the Lost Ark (Atari 2600)
Tomb Raider III (Playstation)
Super Bee (Europe) (Odyssey 2)
Indiana Jones and the Emperor's Tomb (Xbox)
Indiana Jones and the Staff of Kings (Wii)


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