system Index P-R
Pac-Man: Special Color Edition
Grade: A
Publisher: Namco (1999)
Reviewed: 2015/1/13
Rating: Everyone

screenshotI love how the title of this game seems to imply we were all playing Pac-Man in black-and-white for 18 years until this Special Color Edition finally came out! I tried to review this on my Super Game Boy SNES add-on, but was appalled by the obnoxious color scheme. Red dots in a white maze? WTF? Then I popped the cart into my Game Boy SP and was relieved to see Pac-Man the way I remembered. We're talking yellow dots, black maze, different colored ghosts, the whole nine yards. Apparently the Super Game Boy was released prior to the Game Boy Color!

Anyway, the game is presented with a zoomed-in maze which makes the objects look very well defined. Pac-Man's controls are responsive (if not a little slippery) and you could argue the collision detection is forgiving to a fault! Heck, you can run halfway across the screen with a ghost half-way up your butt! Pac-Man is timeless fun but the real star of the show is a secondary mode called Pac-Attack.

It may look like a mediocre Tetris clone but make no mistake - Pac-Attack is an awesome Tetris clone! In addition to stacking blocks you also stack ghosts. Occasionally Pac-Man comes riding down on a set of blocks and when he lands he'll move along the surface, chomping any ghosts in his path while racking up big points. The game rewards you for thinking ahead, and toe-tapping music adds to the fun. Pac-Man Special Color Edition caught this critic off-guard by going beyond the call of duty. Bravo! © Copyright 2015 The Video Game Critic.

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Recommended variation: Pac-Attack/Normal
Our high score: 109,374
1 player 

If you like this game, try: Pac-Man (Fairchild Channel F)
Ms. Pac-Man (Atari 5200)
Tetris Attack (Super Nintendo)
Pac-Man Collection (Atari 7800)
Mazeman (Bally Astrocade)

Pitfall: Beyond the Jungle
Grade: F
Publisher: Activision (1998)
Reviewed: 2012/7/7
Rating: Everyone

screenshotI was hoping this game would take the Pitfall formula to the next level, but it's just a shameful attempt to capitalize on the brand name. Beyond the Jungle bears little resemblance to its predecessor, and its by-the-numbers design lacks charm and imagination. In the first stage you swing Pitfall Harry between ropes and make him jump between grassy platforms.

The controls seem decent until you realize Harry always jumps a significant distance forward when coming off a rope. This makes it really hard to land on a platform that's only a half jump away. Harry is armed with a pickaxe used to kill scorpions and flying shellfish (huh?). Creatures unleash blood-curdling screams as you hack them to death. Occasionally Harry will need to run up to a gorilla and bludgeon him before the poor ape can even react.

This game is just wrong on so many levels. When you finally deplete your lives (which seems to take forever) don't be surprised to see a score of zero. Are you telling me that collecting dozens of blue diamonds and killing innocent animals wasn't worth a single point?

The second stage is positively hellish as you descend into a dank prison. It's got all hallmarks of bad level design: flames on timers, pipes deadly to touch, and invisible hazards that blend into the gray scenery. In the end Pitfall: Beyond the Jungle seems to serve but one purpose, and that's to make your life thoroughly miserable. © Copyright 2012 The Video Game Critic.

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Save mechanism: Password
1 player 

If you like this game, try: Super Pitfall (NES)
Roc N Rope (Colecovision)
Pitfall 3D: Beyond the Jungle (Playstation)
Pitfall: The Mayan Adventure (Sega 32X)
Pitfall II: Lost Caverns (Colecovision)

Pokemon Pinball
Grade: B-
Publisher: Nintendo (1999)
Reviewed: 2015/1/13
Rating: Everyone


screenshotThis happy-go-lucky pinball title has some interesting bells and whistles. The first thing you'll notice is the bulge in the cartridge which houses a single AAA battery. It facilitates some modest vibration feedback and also retains a list of all the Pokemon characters you "catch" while playing the game. You have a choice of two tables (red and blue) and their spacious designs lets the ball circulate around. The screen flips between the top and bottom halves of the table, which seems a little annoying at first but you get used to it.

The large Pokemon ball is easy to follow but there really aren't many targets to hit. The game gains traction when the "catch Pokemon" mode begins, allowing you to piece together a puzzle revealing a new Pokemon for your collection. Pokemon Pinball is very forgiving thanks to the oversized ball and generous amount of ball saves. The background music is sparse but the occasional voice synthesis is a plus. Even if you're not a Pokemon fan you're bound to find this little pinball game habit-forming. © Copyright 2015 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 11214
1 player 

If you like this game, try: Pinball Jam (Lynx)
Midnight Magic (Atari 2600)
Galactic Pinball (Virtual Boy)
Ruiner Pinball (Jaguar)
Pinball (NES)

Polaris SnoCross
Grade: C-
Publisher: Vatical (1998)
Reviewed: 2012/2/14
Rating: Everyone

screenshotPolaris SnoCross comes on an extra-fat cartridge to facilitate a "rumble" capability. It works fine, but I wish more effort was put into the game itself. SnoCross plays like an overhead car racer except you're driving a snowmobile around tree-lined tracks. The tournament mode pits you against two CPU opponents, and they're tough! You'll need a near-perfect run to rank first, and if you get caught up on a tree you're toast. Winning races lets you unlock new tracks and snowmobiles.

The courses don't offer much scenery beyond snow-covered evergreens and the occasional iced-over bridge. Prior to each race you allot points to adjust your sled's acceleration, traction, and top speed. In my experience you'll want to put all your eggs in your "top speed" basket. The tracks are ideal in length (read: short) and it's very cool how you slide down banked turns. The vibrate feature is surprisingly understated, and that's probably for the best.

The audio is just horrible. The whiney music is hard on the ears and it gets even more obnoxious during the final lap. You can turn it off via the options menu, but that exposes some equally unpleasant sound effects. Unlocking tracks is a challenge, but it seems to require more memorization than skill. Polaris SnoCross is a serviceable winter diversion, but it could have used a lot more pizzazz. Note: This cartridge will not fit into a DS system. © Copyright 2012 The Video Game Critic.

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Save mechanism: Password
1 player 

If you like this game, try: Polaris SnoCross (Nintendo 64)
Polaris SnoCross (Playstation)
Sled Storm (Playstation)
Ski-Doo Snow X Racing (Playstation 2)
Sled Storm (Playstation 2)

Rayman
Grade: C-
Publisher: Ubisoft (2000)
Reviewed: 2019/6/22
Rating: Everyone

screenshotThe Rayman series is known for its vibrant, colorful graphics so it's a good fit for the Game Boy Color. The game makes excellent use of the system's palette with lush green plants, sparkling blue waters, and blooming pink flowers. Rayman himself is a cute character with disembodied hands and feet. He has the ability to toss baseballs and can even "wind up" to throw them harder.

The animation is very fluid. Rayman will grab the edge of a platform when his jump comes up short, and it's a good thing because this happens all the time. The short-but-sweet stages seem simple at first but soon you'll be scratching your head trying to figure out how the heck you're supposed to reach that exit keyhole. You'll figure it out, but only after a few annoyances. When Rayman swings on something, the screen shifts back and forth in a vertigo-inducing manner. Ugh!

And while the controls are generally forgiving, Rayman will miss grabbing a vine at the most inopportune time. In one stage you need to continuously move up the screen to avoid rising water, but the screen scrolls so slowly you need to wait for it! A password is provided but it consists of both upper and lowercase letters and that just sucks. I feel like this game could really use a score. Rayman earns points for its colorful visuals but it's gameplay falls a little short. © Copyright 2019 The Video Game Critic.

Save mechanism: password
1 player 

If you like this game, try: Rayman (Jaguar)
Rayman 2: The Great Escape (Dreamcast)
Rayman (Saturn)
Word Zapper (Atari 2600)
Apprentice, The (Philips CD-i)

Resident Evil Gaiden
Grade: C-
Publisher: Capcom (2001)
Reviewed: 2004/10/21
Rating: Teen (blood, violence)

screenshotThe Resident Evil (RE) survival horror series seems an odd fit for the Game Boy Color, but Capcom makes it work by using some innovative techniques. This chapter takes place on a large ocean liner, and yes, they are running out of places. Here, STARS operative Barry Burton must solve a bunch of uninspired puzzles, mainly of the find-the-key variety. Zombies lurk in the shadows, but digitized moans signal their presence and pretty much eliminate the element of surprise.

Although avoiding battle helps conserve ammo, the shooting system is the game's greatest strength. Once you take aim at one or more monsters, the screen changes to a first-person perspective with a "targeting meter" moving back and forth across the bottom of the screen. Pressing the fire button when the cursor is directly under an approaching monster causes your shot to ring true, spraying gratuitous blood in its wake. It's a pretty ingenious scheme, providing the only genuine thrills of the game.

Another cool feature is how you can hold as many items as you want, unlike other RE games which limit your capacity. On the downside, the level designs are annoying, and you're constantly forced to backtrack and deal with confusing elevators. The musical soundtrack features a creepy but repetitive Halloween-inspired tune. Three save slots are provided, but save points are few and far between. I enjoyed certains aspects of Resident Evil Gaiden, but it's largely a hit-or-miss affair. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.

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1 player 

If you like this game, try: Nightmare Creatures (Playstation)
Resident Evil (Playstation 4)
Resident Evil 2 (Playstation)
Resident Evil 3: Nemesis (Playstation)
Carrier (Dreamcast)


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