Each weapon can be powered-up to three levels, and once fully charged, your firepower is awesome. What the graphics lack in detail they compensate for with personality and variety. The attractive layered backgrounds are constantly changing. One moment you'll be hurling through a cloudy atmosphere at break-neck speeds, and the next you'll be navigating the tight corridors of icebergs bobbing in water.
Your attackers aren't particularly memorable, but like the backgrounds, they come in a wide variety. The bosses are formidable, and most resemble screen-sized humanoids. The weak spot of the first one is his crotch, which makes a heck of a lot of sense if you think about it. The adrenaline-pumping soundtrack is outstanding, and anime cut-scenes are used to flesh out a background story. Gaiares is surprisingly long, and although several continues are provided, you'll probably need a cheat code to reach the end. © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.
Before each wave you select between several characters, each armed with normal and special attacks. The range of your initial weapon is pitiful - about two inches! The collision detection is far too exact, so a fire-bomb will need to land directly on an enemy's head for it to have any effect. On the other hand, if an enemy merely brushes against you it spells instant death. That's a serious problem considering how crowded the screen can get.
Gain Ground's gameplay demands a deliberate, cat-and-mouse approach. As you progress through the stages new characters become available and the scenery evolves from prehistoric to futuristic. The concept is neat, but the pacing is downright glacial. The projectiles move so slowly you can outrun them. The game is original, but its grind-it-out, tooth-and-nail brand of combat feels like a colossal chore. © Copyright 2010 The Video Game Critic.
A horse-drawn carriage helps you reach platforms in the second stage, and it looks amazing. You'll battle goblin archers, knights, giant insects, and ... birds? I didn't even realize those little red birds were doing damage to me! I thought they were just part of the scenery! And what's the deal with those barrels? Are they on pogo sticks? The sword controls are responsive and I like how the swing covers both your back and front. Combat isn't difficult unless you wind up overlapping with an enemy, which can be frustrating. The collision detection can be erratic and on rare occasions non-existent!
Crisp controls keep the platform jumping fun despite narrow ledges and a few blind "leaps of faith". The majestic scenery consists of castles, ruins, mountains, and shorelines. The detail is wonderful but the colors are muted - as if the game was originally developed for a computer. Despite its flaws I enjoyed the innocent simplicity of Galahad. You can kill everything and treasures are in chests sitting out in the open.
The stages are small enough that you can explore without getting lost. You're stocked with plenty of lives, and when you die you resume right where you left off. Galahad has a learning curve, but finding a shop to upgrade your gear will help get you over the hump. It's the one RPG element in what I would generally call an arcade action game.
Passwords are provided - but only after every seven stages. Would getting one after each stage have been asking too much? The background music reflects the time period, and like the rest of the game, it grew on me. Galahad is a little rough around the edges, but once I got the hang of it, it was hard to stop playing. Note: This game would not run on my Genesis model 2 system. © Copyright 2013 The Video Game Critic.
When approaching a group of enemies, positioning your crosshair nearby causes a set of lock-on indicators to appear. Fire quickly to unleash a swarm of heat-seeking missiles that incinerate their targets and leave bright orange explosions in their wake.
Galaxy Force II is confusing at times. First, it's hard to tell when you're taking damage. The game ends when your energy is depleted, but how do you recharge? With so many audio and visual prompts, it feels like the game is leading you around by the nose.
Still, this sequel is a lot more palatable if you've experienced the sheer awfulness of the original Galaxy Force (Sega Master System, 1989). At least you can navigate the tunnels in this one. I like the ability to select between five stages, each of which opens with your ship being deployed in a unique manner.
It's fun to play for high score because points continuously rack up points in the top corner. The music mainly consists of layered electronic melodies, although the high score screen plays relaxing lounge music to help you unwind. Galaxy Force II isn't a great title, but fans of arcade shooters may want to give it a shot. © Copyright 2014 The Video Game Critic.
The degree of detail and masterful use of color is very pleasing to the eye. The crumbling castle walls glow red amidst a pool of flames, and it looks magnificent against the deep blue night sky. Later, you'll explore a modern downtown area with a beautiful parallax-scrolling skyline. Another notable stage takes place in a moving subway train. The single uninspired level is the volcanic cavern, which seems to appear in every platform game.
Your gargoyle character is extra large and detailed for a Genesis title. The Vikings you battle in the first stage aren't very distinct, but the shiny robots in later stages look terrific. I enjoyed Gargoyle's brand of wall-busting platform action, but the game really does beat that whole "flap jump" move to death. You often have to "flap and grab" your way up tall structures, and taking a single hit sends you plummeting.
Gargoyles' fighting action is mediocre. The throw move often doesn't register, leaving you vulnerable to counter attacks. Despite the artistic beauty of its graphics, the game's sparse soundtrack is less memorable. With the exception of some pounding drums, it sounds hokey at times. The sound effects however ring out with a clarity and crispness that you normally don't associate with the Genesis. It's no classic, but Gargoyles is rock-solid platformer with showcase graphics to boot. © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.
Players assume the roles of a warrior, valkyrie, wizard, and elf. Together you face overwhelming hordes of ghosts, wizards, demons, and even Death himself. The key is to destroy the portals that regenerate the monsters. You collect treasure chests, food items, and potions that have the ability to clear the screen. For an arcade conversion, the graphics look grainy. The characters are so poorly defined you need to use your imagination.
The sound effects are muffled so famous lines like "Elf needs food badly" are really hard to make out. And despite what you might assume, playing with a group doesn't really make your life any easier. Many stages have narrow passages that only allow for one or two players to pass at a time. A faster character will invariably wander off and get separated. It can be a pain to get everyone reunited, but it feels so good.
I found the game more enjoyable when played solo or with one friend. Gauntlet IV does earn extra credit for its wide selection of options and variations. There are all sorts of customizable modes and the game even keeps track of statistics. You might argue Gauntlet has not aged well, but this may be the definitive console version. © Copyright 2015 The Video Game Critic.
Your primary goal is to wipe out the enemy squad, and the skirmishes are short and sweet. With five soldiers fighting non-stop on each side, there's a lot of stuff going on around the screen. You customizable squad is composed of soldiers of various classes, including the machine "gunner", the grenade "chucker", the flame-throwing "scorcher", the rocket "launcher", and the dynamite-tossing "blaster". Each has his own range and firepower, giving the game a nice layer of strategy.
The controls are unique in that you only position your troops. They all aim and fire automatically when you hold in the A button. It's fun to watch the action unfold and satisfying to achieve a lop-sided victory, ending with the last enemy troop getting ganged up on. The single-player mode isn't very challenging, but General Chaos kicks into overdrive when it comes to head-to-head action.
I originally bought this game because it supported four-players (with EA's adapter), and I was not disappointed. I fondly recall my friend Steve asking, "What a-creege?" after reading the acreage tally after a battle. After recently revisiting this game with a new group of guys, I can attest that it's still a riot! The frame-rate tends to fluctuate, but there are some classic animations like when a soldier takes a direct hit from a rocket and is transformed into a standing skeleton! It's also funny when a hand-to-hand battle ends with the loser pulling out a gun and shooting the other guy.
Speaking of hand-to-hand combat, it's the weakest part of the game. Not only is it terribly shallow (just mash buttons to trade punches), it halts the rest of the action and totally disrupts the flow of the game. I really wish that could be turned off. It's also annoying when your soldier won't seem to aim in the proper direction. General Chaos may be a little rough around the edges, but if you get some rowdy guys together to play it, hilarity will ensue. © Copyright 2009 The Video Game Critic.
There are three playable Ghostbusters, which begs the question "Where the hell is Winston?!" The characters sport oversized heads and look more like serial killers than the actors they represent.
A city map which serves as a stage select, which would be great if the stages were any good. But they are just generic indoor mazes of platforms, ladders, and staircases to nowhere.
There's an apartment stage with slippery frozen platforms and the house loaded with meandering flames. And why would a Ghostbusters game have so much swimming?! Oh well, it's always a thrill when the Stay Puft Marshmallow man appears in the highrise.
Unimaginative enemies include floating knives and coffee cups that can withstand about 20 shots each. The bouncing amoebas and floating eyeballs would be more suitable for a Metroid (NES, 1986) game. At least Slimer looks good.
Random bosses include a dragon, centipede, and headless dude that takes an eternity to kill. Upon losing a life, you pick up exactly where you left off, which is very convenient when you're in the middle of a boss battle.
The controls are fair. I like how you can fire diagonally without moving. Being able to shoot while crawling is also nice, except for the fact that you can't reverse direction. And when you take a hit it's practically guaranteed you'll get bounced into the nearest pit or bed of spikes.
Ghostbusters features an item shop but most of the stuff doesn't seem very useful. I'll lob bombs directly on a boss and they seem to have no effect. The Ghostbusters theme sounds like an off-kilter remix, and some of the other music has a weird carnival vibe.
Ghostbusters misses the mark in a major way. It looks sharp but the gameplay feels awfully by-the-numbers. Worst for all, this game fails to capture the sense of fun and whimsy of the original film. © Copyright 2021 The Video Game Critic.
I love the animations and subtle details in the layered backgrounds. Skeletons peek out from behind trees and feathers fly when you hack a vulture. In the opening stage check out the twisted trees and hanging corpses in the distance. Later a storm moves in and whips the trees around as lightning cracks the sky, creating a terrific macabre atmosphere.
Ghouls and Ghosts has tremendous depth as well. Chests reveal weapons, armor, and sometimes a magician who temporarily transforms you into a chicken or an elderly man (Hint: you can kill the magician before he casts his spell). Weapons include knives, axes, swords, a discus that skims the ground, and "fire-water" which deals damage over a wide area. Most weapons have a secondary magic effect triggered by holding down the attack button for several seconds. Taking a hit causes your armor to fall off, and you'll need to scamper around in your boxer shorts until you find a new suit.
A rollicking musical score perfectly complements the medieval hijinks. If Ghouls and Ghosts has a flaw, it might be its outrageous difficulty. The section where you have to jump between the tongues of the stone faces is absolute murder! Even so, the monumental challenge is part of the game's allure. You get unlimited continues, and you may find yourself using most of them into the wee hours of the morning. With the exception of Sonic the Hedgehog, Ghouls and Ghosts is the quintessential Genesis title. © Copyright 2010 The Video Game Critic.
With only one attack button your moves are fairly limited, but other aspects of the game make up for this. Collecting magic pots allows you to cast destructive magic spells. Some enemies ride in on the backs of creatures, and after commandeering one you can perform devastating attacks like the tail whip or fire-breath.
After each game the players are rated by performance. Besides the normal arcade mode, there's a duel mode that pits one player against foes of increasing difficulty. ALthough the graphics and sound are plain by today's standards, Golden Axe is a lot of fun to play. A sequel soon followed. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.
The graphics are slightly refined, as are the controls. You can now aim left or right when performing throws, adding a bit more strategy. Another new feature is controlling the "strength" of your magic attack. By holding down the magic button for a certain duration, a visual meter displays the degree of carnage you're about to unleash.
The medieval scenery looks great and the musical score is first-rate. Golden Axe 2 is fun enough with one player, but the two-player mode is where it really shines. Fans of the first Golden Axe should feel right at home with this one. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.
Once you clear a stage, a boss is unleashed, and you can tell that some thought was put into these things. The first one looks like a Tinkertoy spider and it bounces around the screen trying to squash you. The second boss only reveals its vulnerable spot when you stop shooting, and it took me a while to figure that out. The stages are interesting too, including a huge flying airplane and an elevated city.
The graphic quality is just average for a Genesis game, and the sound isn't so hot either. The most unusual aspect of the game is the control scheme that requires you to hold down two buttons at a time. The 'A' button is for rapid fire, 'B' allows you to strafe and 'C' provides your power shot. You'll need to hold down A and B most of the time, and yes, it is awkward. Your power shot looks pretty dinky, but it's extremely effective on bosses.
Another interesting aspect is the power-ups. I challenge anyone to find a power-up more innovative than the "deflectors", which are floating disks that allow you to shoot around corners - very cool. Despite its stupid name, Granada is a pleasant surprise that I can recommend to all shooter fans. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.
One interesting feature is how you acquire new outfits for each level. For example, the sweeper outfit lets you vacuum up creeps and the safari outfit lets you climb. It's cute how mickey and minnie will construct little fitting rooms to change in, tossing clothes from behind a screen. Unfortunately your newfound abilities are always confusing and sometimes worthless.
The vacuum takes too long to suck anything up, so you're taking hits all the while. The safari outfit latches onto certain trees but not others. And the bouncing wooden horse you're forced to ride on in the haunted house stage makes precision jumping nearly impossible.
The game is also marred by cheap hits (like the flying squirrels in the jungle) and bosses that take forever to expose their weak points. The old-timey music is creepy and even the screen layout is poor. I can hardly make out my health, which consists of a sequence of hearts with some slightly dimmed. Not sure what that meter is on the top left. The two-player coop sounds good on paper, but since the game is so linear it's just a matter of the trailing character always trying to keep up. Great Circus Mystery is a real drag, failing miserably to rekindle the long lost magic of Castle of Illusion. © Copyright 2019 The Video Game Critic.
You can't even enjoy a stroll on the beach without being attacked by birds, starfish, and crabs. Red fish leap out of the water and latch onto your body, and having to shake them off is aggravating. Your Frisbee weapon kills enemies but doesn't provide a fine degree of control. The platform action includes the standard floating logs, sinking blocks, deadly spikes, and switch-activated doors. Hitting totems causes food like donuts, pizza, hot dogs, and fries to spring forth, and these are fun to collect for points.
Greendog has its share of missteps, like cheap traps that catapult you back to an early part of the stage. Also, the slow-motion underwater stage is nearly unbearable. Special icons award you with super discs, freeze power-ups, and invincibility. Saving these up is a good idea, because they become more scarce as you progress.
The game moves at a leisurely pace, but it's enjoyable enough and the steel drum music has a laid-back vibe. The surf and sand look terrific, and falling in the water will not cost you a life. There are a few fast-moving skateboarding stages to spice things up, as well as bonus stages that let you fly a rickety unicycle contraption. Playing Greendog transports me to a fun virtual world, and it's a place I like to revisit often. © Copyright 2014 The Video Game Critic.
One thing I do like about Grind Stormer is the massive firepower you get practically from the start. Your ship is armed with a rapid-fire weapon and a limited number of bombs. In the first stage, if you collect a power-up you can pretty much weave back and forth across the screen, destroying most enemies before they can even fully enter the screen. I also like the "smart" missiles that seek out and latch onto enemies like parasites.
Ironically, your insane firepower sometimes makes the game harder, because all the missiles and support cannons tend to confuse the action. Your bombs not only clear the screen, but also provide a protective shield, so use them defensively. Visually, Grind Stormer has some ugly graphical glitches and slowdown is also a problem. The music and sound effects are so lame you probably won't notice them. Shooter fans might find it worth their while, but Grind Stormer won't appeal to casual gamers. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.
Growl's mediocre graphics and sound are pretty much what you'd expect from an early Genesis title. The generic scenery looks grainy and the music quality wavers between poor and fair. In fact, the title screen music earns the title of "worst video game music ever"! For the love of God man - what an unholy cacophony of noise!
You can play as one of four grizzled musclemen, but they all control pretty much the same. Growl's gameplay involves punching, jumping, and kicking your way through gangs of colorful thugs, who appear up to ten at a time! Most are the typical brutes you'd expect, but what are those shapely women wearing heels and business suits doing in there?! Getting their asses kicked, apparently!
You'll find a nice assortment of weapons including swords, knives, whips, pistols, machine guns, grenades, and even a rocket launcher! After stumbling upon a poacher teasing a falcon, there's nothing more satisfying than mowing down his ass with a machine gun! No animals were harmed during the course of this game, but you'd better believe a lot of people were! (It's okay though, because they were all bad!)
When you run out of ammo, the whip is an effective option since it can strike enemies in the front and back of your character. When in a crowd, it's a good idea to execute your devastating flying kick that obliterates everything in the area. It costs you a bit of life, but it's well worth it. After tossing a grenade, I like how your character takes cover - it's a nice touch. It's also nice how you can knee a guy in the face who's already down.
There are a surprising number of explosions in this game, often accompanied by flying charred body parts. Whatever you do, however, keep your distance from the fat dudes, because they tend to explode without warning. Yeah, Growl is definitely a silly game but it serves its purpose (just please don't ask me what that is). You're allotted three continues, and a high score displayed on the bottom of the screen gives you something to shoot for. Remember, somebody has to stand up for these innocent animals. Won't you help? © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.
This game has some of the most distinctive visuals and sound effects I've witnessed on the Genesis, and serves up one surprise after another. One or two players can blast their way through four memorable stages of regenerating baddies and imaginative bosses. The gameplay is total mayhem, but that's part of what makes it so cool. The number of enemies and explosions on the screen at any given time is remarkable, with no slow-down in sight (this game would never work on the SNES).
The developer, Treasure, crammed in a lot of innovative features, so there's a lot more depth than first meets the eye. Your hero can jump-kick, throw enemies, duck, slide, perform hand-over-hand climbs (while shooting), switch weapons on the fly, and even defend. That's pretty impressive when you consider the controller has just three buttons! Before each game you're offered a choice of two control schemes: move while shooting, or stop while shooting (to aim with more precision). Four types of weapon power-ups can be combined in ten ways to produce all sorts of devastating firepower.
The stages can be played in any order, and they include a grassy village of tiny people, a wild mine-cart sequence, and an epic battle on an airship that culminates with a showdown against a muscleman on the wings of a flying plane. The fourth stage is the most innovative however, playing like a surreal board game. As you roll the dice to progress, each square offers an interesting mini-stage, including some truly over-the-top bosses.
Gunstar Heroes is loaded with laugh-out-loud humor, and I'll never forget the flea-sized "boss" who tossed me clear across the screen! It's cool how the life meters of bosses take the form of numeric counters - it's always satisfying to watch them countdown. Despite its overall greatness, there are a few minor flaws. First, in two-player mode the players look very similar, so it's easy to confuse them in the heat of the battle. When in close proximity, you often throw your partner inadvertently.
Also, your score is never displayed after the game ends, so your only real goal is to finish the game. That's okay, because there are three skill levels and it's not very long to begin with. Collectors and shooter fans should try to track down Gunstar Heroes at all costs. This game pushes your Genesis to the limit! © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.
Screen shots courtesy of Video Game Museum