Unlike Virtua Racing, Hard Drivin' has NOT aged well. Its framerate is agonizingly slow, and the cars look like ugly boxes. Sparse scenery includes streets signs, small buildings, and other traffic. An unnecessary instrument panel takes up a large chunk of the screen. At least the instant-replays are somewhat amusing. Hard Drivin' isn't very enjoyable, but it is interesting to see how racing games have evolved over the years. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.
The graphics are clean and well-defined, but the players aren't well proportioned. The controls are spread over 30 pages of the instruction book. Each pitcher has a unique set of pitches, and the speed gun is a nice touch. Batting is easy enough, but directing your baserunners is like herding cats. The game also does a lousy job of choosing which fielder you control after the ball is hit. But these are small potatoes compared to one insidious design flaw that is guaranteed to drive you nuts.
Before each and every pitch, the player at bat must press the A button before the pitcher can throw. The first time I played Hardball with my friend Steve it took us ten minutes just to figure out how to throw the damn ball! This flaw destroys the two-player experience, and even when playing the CPU I sometimes find myself staring at the screen wondering why nothing's happening. Hardball didn't have much going for it to begin with, but this user interface blunder pushed me over the edge. © Copyright 2011 The Video Game Critic.
The menu interface is confusing as hell and it took me and my friend Steve about ten minutes to figure out how to set up a two-player game. If you can locate it, a robust option screen lets you adjust every aspect of the game from difficulty to pitcher fatigue. I like how you can select between a pitcher or batter view, and I personally prefer the pitcher angle. Picture-in-picture windows are used to show runners on base, and an instant replay is also available. A battery backup can save a full 162 game season, and you can even save your own highlights.
Where Hardball 94 is lacking is on the field. The digitized players look sharp but when running their legs move too fast for their bodies - like an old Road Runner cartoon. You almost expect to hear that goofy sound effect. Fielding balls in the infield is no problem, but the screen doesn't zoom in for hits to the outfield, making fly balls frustratingly hard to judge. The home run musical theme sounds truly bizarre - like the theme to the Odd Couple or something. Hardball 94 looks impressive when you read the back of the box, but the game itself doesn't live up to its promise. © Copyright 2012 The Video Game Critic.
The batter view is much more playable, and you get the added benefit of seeing the stadium backdrops. Unfortunately Hardball 95's nifty visuals are overshadowed by fundamental flaws in the gameplay. The players in the field move way too fast, making it possible for outfielders to throw out runners trying to advance even one base on a hit!
It's hard to judge fly balls and sometimes it's not really clear whether you actually caught the thing or not! The homerun theme song is now something that sounds like a kid singing "nany nany boo boo". Wow, that is just pathetic. Hardball 95 has the look of a franchise treading water. The addition of ballparks and play-by-play give it the edge over the previous edition, but its gameplay deserved a lot more attention. © Copyright 2012 The Video Game Critic.
Family members are easy to scare, as they tend to take notice of the furniture and fixtures you've rigged. Traps initiate brief but amusing "scare" animations such as knives flying out of a drawer, a head busting through a television, or a levitating rocking chair. Considering the limited resolution of the Genesis, the visuals are extremely well done and some are surprisingly gory.
Certain sequences are more elaborate than others. In the shower, a hot babe in a towel does a little dance before revealing her body to be a rotting corpse! In the game room, a basketball player shoots his head through a hoop, only to have it fall into the fish tank below, turning the water blood red. Some animations are more weird than scary, like the stereo that transforms into a robot, or the plant that spawns a swarm of bees.
Sometimes you have the opportunity to control an object like a levitating skull or chainsaw, and these are useful for preventing your victim from leaving the room. Toying with the family is very amusing thanks to the sheer number of trap animations. Your victims react in a number of ways, including peeing themselves!
Unfortunately, a few times per stage you'll find yourself running low on "ectoplasm", and this is where Haunting's gameplay takes a turn for the worse. You're then dumped into an underground dungeon maze loaded with pits, flying objects, and grabbing arms. Here you must collect a number of green blobs before you can return to the house, and it's painfully repetitive.
Haunting Starring Polterguy offers no continues and has no password feature. My buddy Steve and I played this game for what seemed like hours, but by the time it was over, we were absolutely sick of it! I enjoy the minor-key music that plays throughout the game, but the scream effects are rough. I love the concept behind Haunting, but it's long on novelty value and short on replay value.
. © Copyright 2007 The Video Game Critic.
The game opens with a stylish, cinematic intro depicting ominous approaching space vessels, followed by some nice close-ups of your terminator-inspired robot. At this point, I was actually getting a bit psyched up, but little did I know the degree of wretchedness I was about to inflict upon myself. Heavy Nova puts you in "control" (in theory at least) of a large robot that looks like something out of Cyborg Justice (Sega, 1993).
Each stage challenges you traverse a brief, unimaginative obstacle course of lasers, falling rocks, and small droids before facing off against the obligatory mech "boss" (inexplicably referred to as a "Doll"). Your robot is one seriously uncontrollable hunk of metal. While it's possible to kick, punch, and fire your jetpack, the controls are less responsive than a cable TV customer service department. The lag time with the controls is so reprehensible that you'll swear you're playing over a 300-baud dial-up modem (vintage 1982).
During boss sequences, the game attempts to be a one-on-one fighter, but don't ditch that Street Fighter 2 cartridge just yet. As the boss pounds your sorry ass into oblivion, you'll struggle in vain just to land a single blow! Heck, half of the time your robot is facing the wrong direction! Controls are especially problematic because you need to use one hand to hold your nose the whole time.
Only by using the stage select feature (on the options menu) did I come to realize that subsequent stages are just as pointless. Even the soundtrack is offensive - it's nothing more than a disjointed series of random notes! Heavy Nova lowers the bar for all Genesis titles, making games I previously thought utterly deplorable seem perfectly respectable. From here on out, everything else gets an A. © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.
You'll fly through well-fortified space stations, red planets with pyramids, and caves overgrown with weird organic life. The forgettable enemies include flying mech robots, floating stone heads, and the orbs of all colors and styles. The gold missiles they unleash are large and slow moving, so don't blame the game when you screw up! Oh, you will anyway? Whatever. Some destroyed structures reveal funny little dancing people, for reasons I have yet to determine.
The options menu lets you turn on rapid-fire mode, and why in the hell wouldn't you? It's better than pounding the "A" button. The "B" button reconfigures your cannons on-the-fly to fire forward, backward, up/down, or diagonally. Diagonally covers the most ground, but you'll find yourself cycling through the configurations as your situation changes. The bosses tend to be large, mechanical blocks, but in order to reach their "weak spots" you'll usually need to aim your shots at a specific angle. The "C" button unleashes a devastating "hellfire" blast, but if you're like me, you'll forget to use it half the time!
Hellfire compensates for its marginal graphics with an incredible soundtrack that melds perfectly with the action. Stage one's edgy electronic theme is hands-down sensational. Can you name a game released in the past ten years with music this good? I'm waiting. No? I didn't think so. Chalk another one up to classic games!
Also notable is the game's relentless difficulty. When you enter the space station of stage one, you'll immediately find yourself in a seriously intense crossfire situation. After surviving the extremely long and challenging first stage, I felt like I needed a cigarette! Even so, Hellfire never feels cheap or frustrating, and a generous number of continues are available. An intense shooter that's a joy to play, this is an absolute must-have for Genesis shooter fans. © Copyright 2008 The Video Game Critic.
There are two armies, red and blue. You control a ship that can fly freely around a map. You can fire at your opponent or transform into a robot to battle ground forces. You begin at your main base but can establish other bases by stocking neutral sites with your troops. The music is pretty good but the grainy landscapes are hard to make sense out of. Certain areas appear to be gaping chasms yet you can walk right over them.
You manufacture vehicles and weapons from your bases, first selecting the model type and then a command mode. Unfortunately the game employs cryptic codes to describe things like boats (ST-57U), stationary cannons (GMR-34A), and motorcycles (FWA). Likewise it's not readily apparent what commands like BDF-1SD and AF-001A do. What the [expletive] is the PW command? Oh, that's to supply troops. Would it have been too much trouble to just spell that out?
Once you initiate a build operation a little wrench appears and blinks for a few seconds until the weapon or troop is complete. You then deploy it and the unit behaves autonomously. It sounds great on paper but it's hard to get any traction in this game. I would methodically build and deploy hardware which would be summarily wiped out by my opponent. When your main ship is destroyed it respawns with no apparent penalty. I watched two friends play to a stalemate. Is there some kind of special strategy we're missing? Herzog Zwei is a sophisticated but inscrutable strategy title. I'm sure there's a good game in here somewhere and I wish you luck finding it. © Copyright 2020 The Video Game Critic.
Unlike Sonic however your furry little fellow isn't blessed with the gift of speed. At first that doesn't seem to be a problem, as it lets you take your time to gather all the floating diamonds (not rings!) for points. The problem is, a lot of hills are inexplicably lined with explosive charges. This forces you to keep moving and it's hard to judge what's coming up!
The second stage takes place on pirate ships with cannons, barrels, and swooping birds. The next stage is supposed to take place underwater, but you can barely tell you're submerged! I feel like I should be moving a lot slower! Advanced stages tend to deviate from the pirate theme, including a holiday-themed snow stage.
I'm glad the controls are good because the game requires you to hop between some seriously narrow ledges. Creatures you'll face include sword-wielding tigers, rats schooling in martial arts, and chomping sharks. You can pounce on enemies to defeat them but there's little room for error. You also have a jump kick move but its range is very short.
One area where High Seas falters is the audio department. The sound is so scratchy I had to make sure my Genesis was hooked up correctly. The audio effects are so dreadful they will make you cringe. High Seas Havoc would never give Sonic a run for the money, but it's still an entertaining little romp in its own right. © Copyright 2017 The Video Game Critic.
The scrolling is seriously rough, making it hard to locate the puck. When players bunch up in front of the net it's just a big blinky mess! I like how you can slide your goalie to guard the goal, but make sure you catch the puck because if it bounces off your pads the goal will be wide open. A "super shot" lets you perform a somersault in the air before slapping a powerful shot that knocks the net off of its moors.
The fights are just quick exercises in button-mashing, but I like how the loser lies on the ice frothing at the mouth. Occasionally a random item (like an octopus) gets tossed on the ice which you can get caught up on. The gameplay on the Genesis is faster than the Turbografx but less satisfying. The audio is so bad it's like listening to someone wheezing the whole time. And why are those fans dressed up as ghosts? Hit the Ice is kind of a bust, and that's disappointing considering the promising subject matter.
ca © Copyright 2017 The Video Game Critic.
An elaborate weapons screen lets you construct weapons from household items like glue, rubberbands, and a hair dryer. In addition, each house has a "blue print" screen that lets you strategically place traps like marbles, tacks, and blow torches. Home Alone requires some patience, but the pay-off is worth it. Each game runs exactly 18 minutes, and in that time you must make the crooks' lives as miserable as possible.
The game gets credit for originality. Far from the generic platformer I was expecting, this seems to have been designed from the ground-up with the film in mind. Sledding around the neighborhood is fun, and I love blasting through snowmen to reveal items. The white scenery is inviting, the trees are decorated with bulbs, and the music sounds very Christmassy. Few video games capture the spirit of the season as well as this one.
There's no map screen but you can track the thugs by following their blue van. Each house has a distinctive theme including an elegant mansion, a dilapidated house, and an ultramodern house with robots. It's fun to snoop around and collect items, but I wish you could interact with the scenery more - turning on the television for example.
When in the same house as the crooks, you can shoot them with imaginative weapons like a snowball bazooka and pepper launcher. Combining random items on the weapons screen can be tedious, but fortunately the beginner skill level has a handy auto-build feature. Still, the screen is far more complicated than it should be.
You'll also want to lure the bad guys into traps, and by maxing out their "pain meter" you'll save the house. If caught, you'll just be hung on the wall where you can escape after a few seconds. Home Alone is challenging, fun, and remarkably faithful to the movie. The characters are dead-ringers for the actors, even down to some of their mannerisms. Home Alone is probably too ambitious for its own good, but that added complexity will have you playing this game a lot longer than you expected. © Copyright 2010 The Video Game Critic.
The first stage is set in an airport where you use a slingshot to shoot businessmen and security guards. The characters are nicely illustrated and Kevin's running motion actually looks digitized. I like how passengers are sitting around the terminal and you can see the airplanes through the windows. Snagging hard-to-reach presents earns you bonus points, and items from the vending machines restore your health. By gathering blinking gadgets you can upgrade to more powerful weapons like a carrot launcher.
The first stage is playable enough, but trying to escape the clutches of Joe Pesci at the end of the stage can be frustrating. The second stage is where the fun factor takes a serious dip. You'll find yourself in a luggage transport facility with hazards everywhere you turn. Baggage is falling on your head and mechanical devices push you off narrow elevators. Baggage handlers toss luggage at you and conveyor belts drop you into holes that set you back further in the stage.
All the while you're being pursued by those two pesky bandits. It's a nightmare, and I couldn't even complete the stage. Playing for score isn't really an option, because with so many bonus lives given, you can play pretty much indefinitely without making any real progress. After struggling for a while it dawned on me that this game just isn't worth the effort. I couldn't find any walk-throughs or codes to help me out, so I can only assume that everybody else came to the same conclusion. © Copyright 2011 The Video Game Critic.
The Immortal's visuals are top-notch for the Genesis, but the game's centerpiece is its combat screen. When you engage in battle, both adversaries are rendered in remarkably large, detailed characters on a black backdrop. This "up-close" view was unheard of in 1991, and certainly was a major selling point for the game. These battles feature gruesome fatalities, including decapitations, exploding heads, and bodies being sliced in half (accompanied by appropriately gross sound effects). Despite its violence, somehow Immortal managed to stay under the radar and avoid controversy.
The game doesn't utilize the entire screen (probably due to the CPU-intensive graphics), and the unused portion is covered by an ornate border. The controls are fairly intuitive, and there's a nice inventory system. Unlike many games of this style, the monsters thankfully "stay dead", so when you reenter a room you don't need to do battle again. While Immortal is certainly challenging, it relies far too heavily on chance and memorization.
The battle system is clumsy and unresponsive, and pit traps are impossible to see coming. There are even a few "invisible" enemies to drive you mad. Never read the runes when prompted, because it immediately ends your game (it's deliberate -- not a bug). At least the manual includes a handy tutorial for the first level. The Immortal certainly is original and inventive, but it was mainly a stepping stone for far better games to come. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.
The Crash Dummies intro features a few lame jokes like "lost your head?" and "need a hand?" In the game you control one dummy who's trying to survive parking lots and testing facilities loaded with dangerous contraptions. Taking a hit costs you a body part but you can regenerate by picking up a screwdriver icon. Absorb enough hits and you'll find yourself hopping around on your torso! Despite its by-the-numbers design Crash Test Dummies is a heck of a lot of fun to play.
The controls are extremely responsive - sensitive to the touch really. You can throw wrenches to blow up oncoming vehicles, and I'm glad the controls are tight because you often only have a split-second to react. The brisk pacing and speedy power-ups encourage you to traverse each section as fast as you can. The scenery is colorful but the repetitive industrial environments don't offer much eye candy. Still, Incredible Crash Dummies is a strange platformer that's a lot more fun that it sounds. © Copyright 2018 The Video Game Critic.
Despite its vast potential, the game falters in terms of execution. First off, Hulk often finds himself directly on top of an enemy, making it impossible to punch or grab the foe - very frustrating. When you do make contact, your first few hits seem to have no effect, until the final blow shatters the target to pieces. Hulk can jump around to avoid projectiles in outdoor areas, but in close quarters (like sewers) you're forced to take an inordinate number of cheap hits.
The first stage, set at a construction site, contains numerous manholes Hulk must crawl into. Unfortunately, trying to squeeze down these can be aggravating, especially while being fired upon. Despite these fundamental problems, there are a few bright spots. The Hulk looks great and can perform a surprising number of moves, including a ceiling throw, pile driver, and foot stomp. I love how enemies struggle in vain as Hulk applies his lethal bear hug attack. The instruction manual is awful, and doesn't even mention some of the moves.
The Hulk's five stages are not particularly interesting, but they do contain plenty of secret areas to discover. Oddly enough, what's most appealing about the Incredible Hulk may be its spunky electronic music. It has that distinctive Genesis sound that took me back a good fifteen years. Summing up, the Incredible Hulk is not for the faint of heart. Its extreme difficulty, flaky controls, and lack of continues and passwords will turn off most casual gamers. Only the most dedicated players will come to appreciate everything this cart has to offer.
. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.
The characters are poorly rendered with cheesy black outlines, and the villains of the first stage look more like a bunch of Jerry Garcia impersonators! The catacombs are loaded with flaming mice the size of cats, and the final level isn't even consistent with the movie, as ducking under the swinging blades results is fatal! It doesn't help that you instantly die from touching harmless objects like a bush, pile of bones, or even a puddle of water!
And when he dies, our hero unleashes a painful wale that's positively demonic! Even the Indiana Jones theme sounds cheesy. As the final insult, the picture on the cartridge shows Indy being chased by a plane, a tank, and a German convoy, none of which appear anywhere in the game! © Copyright 2008 The Video Game Critic.
The game seems awfully slow at first, lulling you into a false sense of security. Incoming projectiles move slowly, but the fact that they linger on the screen makes them like floating land mines. After a few speed power-ups the pace picks up. Sometimes a little fly will zip in and deposit a missile right in your lap!
There are a lot of things to like about Insector X. First, you can't die by brushing against a wall or touching water (one of my pet peeves). You can hold down a button to initiate rapid-fire, and there's no penalty for using both your normal cannon and special weapon at the same time. When fighting bosses they blink to make it obvious you're doing damage. Earning a free life for every 60K is very old-school, and the continue system lets you pick up right where you left off.
Unfortunately the scenery is less impressive in later stages. Stage two looks suspiciously like my backyard. The polluted city level is so bleak and depressing it's almost a relief when you fly into a sewer. The difficulty is so tough that the manual actually walks you through each stage and boss, describing weak points and safe spaces. The weird but upbeat music gradually won me over. Insector X is my kind of game. It's intense enough to have you screaming expletives but enjoyable enough to keep you coming back. © Copyright 2020 The Video Game Critic.
If you've played any platformer in your life you've played Izzy's Quest. The main character possesses slapstick mannerisms, a zany voice, and even an obligatory spin move. Izzy leaps between grassy platforms, climbs vines, and collects floating items. And there's a lot to collect, including gems, medallions, stars, torches, eggs, hearts, gems, and more! In fact, there's so much junk cluttering each stage that I got sick and tired of trying to collect everything.
Enemies like little goblins mindlessly march from side-to-side. Pouncing on them causes them to splatter in a satisfying manner. Touch a lightning bolt icon and all the creatures on the screen explode, and I like that! Power-ups provide the ability to glide or wield a baseball bat. These are undeniably fun but usually don't last long. The controls are forgiving and the difficulty is low, making this a good choice for young children.
The frame rate is erratic however and half the time you feel as if you're moving in slow motion. Apparently the programmers weren't familiar with "blast processing". The stages are repetitive in design and that awful looping music is the worst. Izzy's Quest for the Olympic Rings is marginally fun if you play for score, but I'm afraid you'll reach for the power button long before you reach the end of this quest. © Copyright 2015 The Video Game Critic.
Screen shots courtesy of Video Game Museum