The players look small and fuzzy. It's a treat to see headers, back-kicks, and bicycle kicks, but they don't happen often enough. The basic controls let you pass, shoot, or lob the ball. While not in possession of the ball, tapping the C button gives you a highly-effective speed burst. Passes tend to be weak, forcing you to use the shoot button to execute a long pass or clear the ball.
The gameplay is remarkably similar to real soccer. It's not easy to maintain possession, and when the ball gets in close proximity to the goal, the action gets really exciting! After a score your player will perform celebratory slides and flips. One funny aspect of the game is how goalies rarely make easy saves. Instead, they usually perform stretched-out, diving two-handed grabs as the crowd lets out a collective gasp. When this happens for a slow roller, it's unintentionally hilarious. The digitized chants are amazing but the crowd noise is unpleasant due to low audio quality and static.
FIFA is surprisingly deep, allowing for adjustments of coverage, strategies, and formations. Want more goals? Just set the game type to "action" instead of simulation. FIFA International Soccer was originally packaged with EA's four-way-play, a small device which allows up to four people to play at once. The game also boasts a 60-page manual and a password-backed league option. This is a quality title, and the fact that casual players can enjoy FIFA International Soccer proves how great it is. © Copyright 2014 The Video Game Critic.
The animation is noticeably smoother and faster. You'll see a lot more headers and bicycle kicks, and they are far more emphatic. Passes travel much farther, making ball control easier. There's even a nifty give-and-go play. On the downside, the ball has an annoying tendency to ricochet between players like a pinball. Long shots tend to "bend" which is quite pleasing to the eye.
Defense can be problematic because the steal and switch-player functions are assigned to the same button. When tackled, players will writhe around on the ground in pain. Soccer players are such drama queens! Unlike the first game, the clock is displayed in the upper left corner at all times. The goalies have additional animations, and it's especially fun to see their reactions during shootouts.
Upon scoring a goal, pressing buttons allows you to initiate digitized audio clips including fireworks and horns. But it's the ability to stretch out the obligatory "GOOOOOAL!" call that might be the highlight of the entire game. The crowd noise is not perfectly clear but sounds a heck of a lot better than the first game. With solid gameplay and over 200 authentic teams, FIFA Soccer 95 is pretty much everything you could hope for from a second-year franchise. © Copyright 2014 The Video Game Critic.
The goal nets look more realistic, but I prefer the well-defined look of the old games over the new "saggy" look. Goalies are dressed in different colored outfits to set them apart on the field. Passing feels accurate, but players have an annoying tendency to change direction before receiving a pass. I really like how there are more rebounds off the goalies, allowing for more scoring chances.
In terms of audio, the crowd chants have been re-recorded so they sound very clear. The problem is, the chants don't blend in with the general crowd noise, and actually sound like they belong in a different game! Another flaw is how the screen "blacks out" before goal kicks and throw in plays. I have no idea why the designers did that, but it's annoying as hell!
The game also seems to have its share of bugs, as my friend Brent discovered when he tried to throw in the ball and threw it into the stands instead. FIFA 96 was the first in the series to use real player names, and 237 teams are represented. Die-hard soccer fans will appreciate the increased realism and can probably bump up the grade by a letter. Those who played the previous games however are likely to detect a slight dip in the fun factor. © Copyright 2014 The Video Game Critic.
This game suffers from just about every design flaw you could come up with. You could just go right down the list ticking off the boxes. Platforms blend into the scenery. Foreground objects like chains and bottles obstruct your vision. Sound effects are muddled. When you collide with enemies it's not obvious who took damage. Poor platform placement makes it impossible to land squarely on a ledge without touching whatever is patrolling it. The controls are laggy as hell, and you won't realize the extent of the problem until you try leaping between moving platforms.
Press the jump button and by the time Mickey responds both platforms are already moving away from each other. Even if you land squarely on your target, half the time you fall through it anyway. To defeat enemies you have to push down to put Mickey into "pounce mode", yet there's no audio or visual cue to distinguish this from a normal jump. Spells are effective but they run out immediately, so what's the point?
Fantasia becomes a battle of attrition as you stumble through castles and swamps while absorbing mandatory hits from all sides. If the game didn't heap on free lives at every turn, no one would ever finish it. To its credit, the opening scene features some nice "Phantom of the Opera" organ music, and stage two serves up a gorgeous vision of Cinderella's castle glistening in the night sky. But any signs of Disney charm are fleeting at best. Fantasia is a wretched game that squanders a primo license and illustrates just how bad a platformer can be. © Copyright 2017 The Video Game Critic.
This random element elevates the replay value, and that's important because death is permanent and requires restarting. Experience makes your character more formidable, but more critical to success are weapons and armor you find abandoned on the floor. A kick-ass weapon can ease your troubles considerably. You can only carry so much however, and there are times you litter enough to make Iron Eyes Cody cry.
Turn-based combat is initiated by bumping into monsters. Should you find yourself surrounded be prepared to take more whacks than Lizzie Borden's father. Consequently, fighting in doorways is a trademark of this game. As in Gauntlet your warrior requires food for sustenance, but keep an eye on your portion control or you'll be bumbling about like your bloated uncle after Thanksgiving dinner. Food doesn't heal directly but provides you with more turns to catch your breath and restore hit points.
While exploring dungeons you'll contend with pits, alarms, and relentless monsters. Stairs lead you to the next level, but don't use them until you fully explore the current floor. Monsters become more menacing with each level and ascending too soon can be fatal. Fatal Labyrinth can have a happy ending, but like a good arcade game it's really the journey that counts. Ironically your success is measured by the quality of your funeral. Leisurely-paced with simple mechanics and randomly-generated levels, Fatal Labyrinth represents a different kind of fun. © Copyright 2015 The Video Game Critic.
Its controls are minimal, the characters are embarrassing, and the stages are devoid of detail. The fighters are a weird hodgepodge of humans and monsters including a crab monster (Zygrunt), a guy with an elephant head (Mastodon), and a miniature Easter Island statue (Goldrick). The boring stages typically place the fighters in front of a stone wall or a plain red building. The controls are extremely shallow, utilizing only two buttons! That's right - the A button isn't even used!
You are pretty much limited to jump attacks which involve one fighter grabbing the other, jumping a mile in the air, and body-slamming his opponent to the ground. It's hard to tell who's taking the brunt of the damage as matches degenerate into repetitive slam-fests. The physics is best described as hilarious and pitiful collision detection will have you taking hits from unseen forces. The game doesn't even bother keeping score, and it doesn't need to, because when a gamer plays Fighting Masters, we all lose. © Copyright 2010 The Video Game Critic.
Fireshark is a shooter lover's shooter. The action is fast and furious with no hint of slowdown. The graphics are a little weak, especially the desert and water backgrounds, but the animation is smooth and flicker-free. Fire Shark is a little on the easy side, mainly because the power-ups bounce around the screen until you catch them. It's cool how your plane catches fire when hit, allowing you to get off a few extra shots before going down. This one's a winner. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.
On a quest to find your identity, you begin in a lush jungle before visiting "New Washington" and other futuristic locations. The layered scenery is amazing. You move between contiguous screens while collecting items, disabling traps, and shooting mutants. The game tries to be realistic, so you don't actually see the bullets when you fire your gun. Your character sneaks, runs, and grabs ledges with fluid motion.
There's a lot of emphasis on stealth and item manipulation, so a slow, deliberate approach works best. If I had to knock this game for anything, it would be the control scheme. It's not particularly intuitive, and it can be tedious and frustrating to the novice player. The three buttons are overloaded with functions and it really takes a lot of practice to perform basic moves like running jumps.
The level designs are unforgiving, and the first few screens will demoralize all but the most determined player. I hate how my guy will overlap with an enemy, so we're both firing and nobody's hitting anyone. The difficulty actually eases up as you progress, so hang in there. The musical score is sparse but effective, adding a layer of atmosphere and tension. Flashback was a groundbreaking title, and if you can survive the initial learning curve you're in for a compelling journey. © Copyright 2012 The Video Game Critic.
The stage design is flat-out awful. In the very first stage you'll find yourself running across a narrow strip of land while flying fish nip at you as sharks break through the ground below your feet. The game can't even keep up with the frenzy of activity, dropping frames and slowing the action to a crawl. I had to switch to the easy difficulty just so I could play the freaking game.
In easy mode The Flintstones is mildly enjoyable, especially when Fred mounts a fire-breathing pterodactyl. But just when things start getting good you're dumped into a perilous underwater stage. Here you find yourself swimming through pitch-black caverns, taking damage from everywhere. Smacking a jellyfish causes the screen to light up, revealing an underground maze where every wall is lined with spikes! This stage is an ordeal, especially with octopi blowing you around with fans!
Stage three is a welcome change as you drive across the desert in a car while collecting stars. The problem is, deadly cacti in the foreground look just like the harmless ones in the background! The Flintstones is bush league. For a big-name license, I can't get over the lack of play testing that went into this. © Copyright 2021 The Video Game Critic.
Mowing down flying lizard men is fun, but those invincible green worms in the water stage are a real pain in the ass. The first boss is some kind of brown orifice, and it's hard to tell if you're inflicting damage. With other bosses like the gold dragon, you won't even know where you're supposed to shoot! The graphics lack detail, perhaps because this was such an early Genesis title. The post-apocalyptic, partly-submerged city looks interesting, but most of the stages are just plain dull. Occasionally you'll encounter a shop where you can purchase weapons, power-ups, armor, extra lives, and hints.
The shopkeeper is an innocent-looking blonde chick. Creepy carnival music plays as you peruse weapons like a flamethrower and bouncing shots. I prefer the homing missiles due to my inability to properly aim. The highlight of the game from a visual perspective is the impressively large Samurai robot boss. The soundtrack is okay but sounds like an Indiana Jones rip-off. The two player coop mode is a nice feature, but despite its steady framerate I didn't love it. True to its name, Forgotten Worlds is a unique but not particularly memorable gaming experience. © Copyright 2014 The Video Game Critic.
Pleasant tunes play throughout the game (including Yankee Doodle Dandy), and they all have a friendly piano quality. You get five frog lives, and despite the tight controls you'll go through them quickly. The traffic is dense, and if you hop on the very edge of a log, you'll slide right into the water. The screen layout places the vital indicators on the right side, which scrunches the actual game screen a little bit. Maybe that's why the coves on the far side of the river look so narrow.
Instructions are displayed when the game is in "attract mode", but there are no options or variations. That's surprising considering several variations were present in the original Atari 2600 version. A two-player mode is available, but you'll need to pass a single controller back and forth. Now that's what I call lazy programming! Frogger is a little skimpy for a 16-bit title, but its classic gameplay is beyond reproach. © Copyright 2012 The Video Game Critic.
Screen shots courtesy of Video Game Museum