system Index Q-R
Quackshot
Grade: B+
Publisher: Sega (1991)
Reviewed: 2000/2/23

screenshotSega's second Disney game on the Genesis (after Mickey's Castle of Illusion) is another winner. This time you're Donald Duck, equipped with a gun that shoots plungers, popcorn, and explosive bubblegum. This gameplay here is more complicated than Castle of Illusion. You can select what stage you want to play, and switch stages at certain checkpoints. Mexico, Transylvania, and the town of Duckburg are available at the beginning, but more stages open up later.

One unique feature is how certain stages require items from other stages, forcing you to move between them. The graphics and animation are colorful and fun, and the music is very memorable. I especially enjoyed the spooky atmosphere of Dracula's castle. Quackshot is not particularly tough or long, but it's a quality game.

There are a few flaws I should mention however. There's a scene in Dracula's castle where I went around in circles for quite a while before figuring out what I had to do. There's one slow-motion, underwater scene that I hate, but at least it's mercifully short. This game also comes up short in terms of replay value, and there's only one skill level. Still, Quackshot is great fun the first time through, and it's perfect for younger players. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: CJS 70,000
1 player 

If you like this game, try: Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse (Genesis)
Deep Duck Trouble Starring Donald Duck (Game Gear)
Mickey Mania (Super Nintendo)
Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion (Nintendo 3DS)
Land of Illusion starring Mickey Mouse (Europe) (Sega Master System)

RBI Baseball 3
Grade: C
Publisher: Tengen (1991)
Reviewed: 2010/6/2

screenshotRBI Baseball never set the world on fire, but its first edition on the Genesis was respectable enough. The graphics are decent, the controls are easy to learn, and the action moves along at a crisp pace. The main screen renders the pitcher up top and the batter below with two windows showing first and third base. It's an effective visual format that lets you keep an eye on all of the baserunners.

After the ball is hit you get a nice high view of the field. The elevated angle allows you to properly react in the infield, but navigating the expansive outfield is tricky. In 1991, RBI Baseball 3 had two big selling points. One was the actual 1990 player statistics, and the other was an instant replay feature. It may sound pretty ho-hum today, but anyone who remembers playing sports games back then will attest that an instant replay feature was a pretty big deal!

Also notable is how the pitcher will occasionally hock a big brown loogie on the mound! That's right - RBI was the first baseball game to incorporate spitting! And it looks pretty gross! Fly balls are accompanied by audible cues to indicate their arc, but these high-pitched sirens are hard on the ears. Fielders move slowly, and their throws seem even slower!

Also annoying is how the scoreboard will post zeroes for both teams for the upcoming inning - very confusing. RBI 3 is fun to play with a friend, but the CPU is a complete idiot. His fielders approach grounders at poor angles, often running into the outfield alongside the ball.

Normally I dislike background music in sports games, but the tunes here have a nice baseball-esque quality with a tinge of suspense. The manual contains pages and pages of baseball rosters and statistics - now there's something you never see anymore! RBI has its share of ups and downs, but it still plays a halfway decent game of baseball. © Copyright 2010 The Video Game Critic.

Save mechanism: Password
1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: Major League Baseball (Intellivision)
RBI Baseball (NES)
RBI Baseball 94 (Genesis)
Ken Griffey's Winning Run (Super Nintendo)
Baseball (Game Boy)

RBI Baseball 4
Grade: C
Publisher: Tengen (1992)
Reviewed: 2010/6/2


screenshotDespite its ultra-lame cover, which features the exact same generic batter as last year, RBI Baseball 4 actually marks a dramatic overhaul for the series. The players on the pitcher/batter screen look more cartoonish, but the pitcher windup motion is very smooth and realistic. Once the ball is hit, the action unfolds quickly and the camera angle of the field is very tight. On one hand, this allows for larger, more detailed players. On the other hand, you have very little time to react to ground balls. To quote my friend Scott, "fielding is a nightmare." Any hesitation will cause a routine grounder to roll right by.

If nothing else, RBI 4 does offer a generous serving of eye candy. The ball is super-detailed, and when it becomes large (during pop flies) you can even see all of its red stitches. The crowd looks incredible, with each fan exquisitely detailed. On the pitching screen, the two windows also show amusing animations including an old third-base coach who looks like he's doing the Macarena! This guy is so spastic, you can't tell if he's giving signs or having a seisure!

Sometimes these windows will also display impressive replays like a tag-out at second base (with dust flying) or a diving catch. You can even see the crowd doing the wave! Each team has a unique ballpark roughly modeled after the real thing, and this was a huge deal in 1992. I remember my friends and I seeking out the fountains in Kansas City, only to discover they were frozen solid. RBI 4 has some odd quirks like pitchers who try to field everything in sight including pop-ups to the shortstop.

When runners are tossed out, they actually run back to the dugout faster than they were running the bases! The umpires have huge beer guts, and the awful background music sounds like something from a freakin' carnival! A number of interesting play modes are included, including a homerun derby and "gamebreaker" mini-games that put you in various situations. There's even a "stadium tour mode" that lets you peruse the parks at your leisure. There's a lot to like about RBI Baseball 4 - too bad its gameplay isn't one of them! © Copyright 2010 The Video Game Critic.

Save mechanism: Password
1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: RBI Baseball (NES)
RBI Baseball 94 (Genesis)
RBI Baseball 2 (NES)
RBI Baseball '95 (Sega 32X)
RBI Baseball 93 (Genesis)

RBI Baseball 93
Grade: C
Publisher: Tengen (1993)
Reviewed: 2010/7/28


screenshotThis baseball game is so old, the year in the title actually coincides with its year of its release! Amazing! Unfortunately, you'll be hard-pressed to tell the difference between RBI Baseball 93 and the previous year's RBI Baseball 4. The box touts some genuinely unexciting new features like updated rosters, fielding practice, and individual player statistics. Man - it made me sleepy just to type that in! And could Tengen possibly have devised a more unimaginative box cover? It's a close-up of a baseball for Pete's sake!

As you've probably surmised by now, this is 99% the same game as last year. The "computer assist" option is noteworthy, but only because the fielding is so atrocious without it. It doesn't help that the stadiums have expansive outfields that seem to go on for miles! After a homerun, the Jumbo-tron shows an animation of the player being congratulated by his teammates.

I find it funny how the instant replays also replay the Jumbo-tron animation! Last year's carnival music has been axed (thankfully), but the hokey new tunes aren't much better. I recall my friend Keith bringing this game over my house back in the day, only to have my other friends rake it over the coals. RBI 93 was clearly a case of Tengen taking a year off and "mailing one in". © Copyright 2010 The Video Game Critic.

Save mechanism: Password
1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: World Series Baseball 98 (Genesis)
RBI Baseball 94 (Genesis)
RBI Baseball 3 (Genesis)
RBI Baseball 2 (NES)
RBI Baseball (NES)

RBI Baseball 94
Grade: C+
Publisher: Tengen (1994)
Reviewed: 2010/7/28


screenshotThe RBI Baseball series proudly set the standard for mediocrity, but if you're going to play an RBI Baseball game, it might as well be this 94 edition. This was the year Tengen actually did more than just update the rosters! For one thing, the team selection screen now shows a picture of Laker's coach Phil Jackson talking with an umpire.

The pitcher/batter screen has been enhanced with new animations that are more fluid and easier on the eyes. Pitchers occasionally spit on the mound, and you have to love that. In addition to showing runners, the first and third-base window in-sets will show the third-base coach flashing signs. This guy doesn't look nearly as creepy as the one seen in past RBI games.

Player "portraits" are displayed as they step to the plate, and while some will make you laugh, they are generally a decent likeness. The windows will also occasionally play instant replays, including a funny animation of fans fighting for a home run ball. Fielding has always been the Achilles heel of the RBI series, and 94 alleviates the situation somewhat.

An X now appears on the field to mark where a fly ball will land, and when throwing the ball in, outfielders will automatically hit the cut-off man. That's good, because these outfields tend to be huge. If a ball rolls all the way to the wall, you're probably looking at an inside-the-park homer. The music is better than previous games, but it's so obnoxiously loud that you'll want to shut it off. The RBI Baseball series never quite got over the hump, but 94 is probably the best the series has to offer. © Copyright 2010 The Video Game Critic.

Save mechanism: Password
1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: RBI Baseball 93 (Genesis)
RBI Baseball (NES)
Baseball (NES)
Baseball Stars Color (Neo Geo Pocket)
Reggie Jackson Baseball (Sega Master System)

Radical Rex
Grade: F
Publisher: Activision (1994)
Reviewed: 2015/6/30

screenshotRadical Rex is exactly what you'd expect from the cheesy title. It's a paint-by-numbers platformer starring a cuddly T-Rex. Any respect you might have for this creature evaporates after you see him perform in an embarrassing dance number on the title screen. I have nothing against derivative platformers but Radical Rex takes the concept to nauseating extremes.

You begin in a dense jungle with all sorts of buzzing insects and jumping lizards. These creatures turn out to be harmless but distracting nonetheless. Rex's fire breath should be an awesome weapon, but you need to flame something about five times before it has any effect! Rex also has a kung-fu kick that's equally worthless. You can walk right through most enemies so what's the point of even fighting them?

The stages pack every cliche in the book: plants that propel you into the air, platforms that collapse when you land on them, swinging vines, and the obligatory water stage. No matter how much health you have, one prick of a spike spells instant death. Some stages have banked curves like Sonic the Hedgehog (Sega, 1991). You can't dash around them but you can ride a skateboard like Adventure Island (NES, 1987). Sometimes a pterodactyl will give you a lift, like the one in Chuck Rock (Genesis, 1991).

But what really pushed me to the brink was the scene where you enter a dinosaur's mouth and travel through its intestine track. That's lifted straight from Bonk's Adventure (Turbografx-16, 1990)! Even the bonus stages are rip-offs of Pengo (Atari 2600, 1984). Unoriginality notwithstanding, the gameplay is just plain bad. The jumps are floaty and the stages are so repetitive you'll think you're moving in circles. There's no score, no password, and the music is forgettable. Radical Rex is only good for reminding you how many good games you could be playing instead. © Copyright 2015 The Video Game Critic.

1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: Chuck Rock (Genesis)
Bonk's Adventure (Turbografx-16)
Chuck Rock II: Son of Chuck (Sega CD)
Sonic Spinball (Genesis)
Rygar (NES)

Raiden Trad
Grade: A
Publisher: Micronet (1991)
Reviewed: 2010/2/18

screenshotEarly vertical shooters like Xevious (1983) tended to be slow and methodical. Modern vertical shooters tend to be insanely fast with missiles raining down the screen. That's all well and good, but in 1991 the genre hit the "sweet spot" in its evolution. I can't believe it took me so long to snag this terrific game. As one of the earlier Genesis titles, Raiden Trad compensates for its lack of pizzazz with nearly flawless gameplay.

Your jet cruises over farmland, industrial zones, oceans, ruins, and space stations while blasting tanks, airships, cannons, and destroyers. Much of the scenery is forgettable, but close inspection reveals subtle touches like building shadows, grazing cows, and weathered roads. Raiden Trad's steady pacing, reasonable difficulty, and pinpoint controls come together to create a very rewarding shooting experience.

There are only two weapons, but I'm happy to report that neither one of them sucks. The red one provides wide coverage, while the blue offers a more concentrated attack. Secondary weapons include powerful nuclear missiles or heat-seeking homing missiles. Naturally you also get a limited number of bombs. Despite the astonishing degree of chaos you can unleash, I never detected any slow-down. You'll be dodging missiles from all directions, but by far your biggest enemy is hesitation. The key to this game is getting into a rhythm!

Before you get started however I would recommend setting the difficulty to normal (easy is the default) and turning rapid-fire on (your thumb will thank you). Continues are available so even uncoordinated players can get a peek at advanced stages. The sound effects are only average, but the upbeat soundtrack is quite good. Raiden Trad may not appear to be much on the surface, but the more you play, the more you realize what an expertly-crafted shooter it really is. © Copyright 2010 The Video Game Critic.

Recommended variation: Normal, Rapid-fire
Our high score: 167750
1 player 

If you like this game, try: Raiden Trad (Super Nintendo)
Raiden (Jaguar)
Raiden (Lynx)
Twin Eagle (NES)
Raiden (Turbografx-16)

Rambo 3
Grade: A-
Publisher: Sega (1989)
Reviewed: 2008/2/20

screenshotRambo 3 is a surprisingly engaging one-man-army blast-a-thon. In true Rambo fashion you'll plow through scores of generic enemy soldiers and blow up gates to infiltrate their bases. Like the movie, Rambo 3's body count and destruction quotient are impressive! Not only can you spray bullets non-stop, but you can plant bombs to take out trucks and guard towers. I find it amusing the way guards always fall out of the towers when you blow them up - what a bunch of drama queens!

Despite using only three buttons, I found the control scheme somewhat hard to grasp. The A button is used to toggle between items (knife, arrow, bomb), B uses these items, and C fires your machine gun. In the heat of battle, it's really easy to confuse A and B for some reason. Rambo 3's shooting action is non-stop and the challenge is formidable. I had to turn down the difficulty (too easy) and crank up the lives (to five) just to make some headway into the game, and I'd advise you to do the same. Unlike the "real" Rambo, you will die early and often.

While exploring prisons, arsenals, and fortresses, the screen scrolls in all directions. Unfortunately, certain levels tend to have maze-like layouts which are mildly annoying. My advice for playing Rambo 3? Hold down the C button and shoot like a freakin' madman, even when nobody's in sight (they will be soon). As icing on the cake, Rambo 3 also incorporates some truly impressive bonus rounds where you face off against a tank and helicopter.

The controls offer a nice balance of risk and reward, and that looming helicopter looks amazing! Another interesting aspect of Rambo 3 is how the prisoner in mission 2 looks exactly like Rutger Hauer. And he wasn't even in the movie! The fine musical score suggests excitement and intrigue, and it has that unmistakable Genesis twang that we all love. A two-player mode is included, but it's alternating turns only. For Rambo fans in the mood for chaos, this fine shooter is right on target. © Copyright 2008 The Video Game Critic.

Recommended variation: easy/5 lives
Our high score: 71850
1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: Firepower 2000 (Super Nintendo)
Army Men: Soldiers of Misfortune (Wii)
Piece O' Cake (Atari 2600)
Ikari Warriors (NES)
Nova Blast (Colecovision)

Ranger X
Grade: D+
Publisher: Sega (1993)
Reviewed: 2006/2/24

screenshotI expected Ranger X to be yet another excellent side-scrolling Genesis shooter, but I was wrong. Can someone please tell me what the F is going on in this freakin' game?! Little help over here!? The game's designer was apparently trying to push the envelope with an elaborate six-button control scheme, but it will leave most players bewildered. Ranger X is simply too complicated for its own good.

You not only control a robotic warrior with a jetpack, but also a robotic vehicle that follows you around on the ground. Both can fire independently, or combine to fire homing missiles. The control scheme is so confusing that even after I learned it, I never felt comfortable with it. The stages don't make a lot of sense either. You often can't discern the background graphics from foreground dangers, and in certain brief sequences, you seem to have no bearing on events. It's as if the game is playing out some elaborate background story and it forgets to let you in on it.

The stages are so-so, with the standard planet surfaces and caverns of lava pools. Even the music is mediocre. Each stage is introduced with some rotating wireframe models that are pretty advanced by 16-bit standards, but not too exciting in 2006. The game is extremely hard, so I'd recommend setting the difficulty to easy. All in all, I didn't care much for Ranger X, and I'm not just saying that because I didn't know what the F was going on half the time. Okay, maybe I am. © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.

Recommended variation: easy
Our high score: 75700
1 player 

If you like this game, try: Space Ranger (Philips CD-i)
Mission X (Intellivision)
Supreme Warrior (Sega CD)
Half-Life (Playstation 2)
Legendary Axe (Turbografx-16)

Rastan Saga II
Grade: D-
Publisher: Taito (1991)
Reviewed: 2015/4/18

screenshotThe original Rastan (Sega Master System, 1988) was a fine side-scroller, so what the [expletive] happened here?! The graphics look great until things start moving. Your character looks like Conan the Barbarian but his movements are slow, stiff, and awkward. He jumps like a pansy and doesn't as much swing his sword as poke things with it. The backgrounds feature sights like snowy mountains and distant castles, but everything looks decidedly flat.

The gameplay is shabby and there are only two buttons: attack and jump. You slay monsters, avoid traps, and navigate blocky scenery. And when I say blocky, we're talking about big, perfectly-formed brown blocks. The blocks are solid yet you can destroy creatures on the other side of them, a phenomenon scientists have yet to explain. And why is there a dragon head sticking out of that block? Does he live in there?! The highlight of the game are the imaginative creatures, some of which are quite frightening. There are skeleton warriors, crawling torsos, snake people, and members of the Insane Clown Posse. The guy wearing a cloak and goat skull would look right at home in a Satanic ritual.

Striking an enemy causes it to blink white, and that looks cheesy. When you swing on vines the animation is so slow it's comical. The advanced levels are loaded with cheap traps and one-hit deaths, and you're too slow to avoid any of it. Boss battles involve trading blows until someone keels over. My friend Scott accused the first boss "getting all up in his junk". Rastan Saga II might have been passable on a portable system, but on the Genesis we expect a lot more. © Copyright 2015 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 29,900
1 player 

If you like this game, try: Shinobi Legions (Saturn)
Rastan (Sega Master System)
NBA Live 96 (Super Nintendo)
Skeleton Warriors (Saturn)
Dragonstomper (Atari 2600)

Red Zone
Grade: F
Publisher: Scavenger (1994)
Reviewed: 2005/2/2


screenshotFew things get my blood pumping like a good Genesis shooter, but Red Zone doesn't qualify. The packaging reads "from the creators of Subterranea", another Genesis shooter that didn't exactly set the world on fire. Red Zone has a few interesting elements, but in general it's too confusing and frustrating. In each stage you fly an Apache helicopter into enemy territory, attempting to wipe out targets such as airfields or radar facilities. Most missions also include an "on foot" sequence that puts you in control of an individual soldier infiltrating an enemy complex.

The mission and status screens are quite detailed, and they provide some critical clues (like "knock out the power facility first"). You can zoom in on the map in a manner that brings to mind Blade Runner, but the close-ups rarely provide additional information, so what's the point? When flying your Apache, the action is viewed from directly overhead, but the rotating screen and confusing radar display make it easy to get disoriented. Scaling effects attempt to convey the height of land structures, but these are not very convincing. I had to repeat the second mission about eight times before I realized there was a "doorway" in the fence of an enemy fort. There are times when the game orders you to perform certain actions immediately, but you have no clue of what it's talking about.

Red Zone involves more trial and error than skill. The "on foot" sections are slightly better because they're easier to navigate and you have two characters in reserve. Your soldier can fire a machine gun, throw grenades, or plant explosives. Too bad he hobbles around like he has a gigantic pole up his butt. One thing Red Zone does have going for it is its thumping electronic soundtrack - it's edgy and relentless. But overall, this is a poorly executed shooter that most Genesis fans could live without. © Copyright 2005 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 

If you like this game, try: Desert Strike (Genesis)
Super Huey (Atari 7800)
Midnight Magic (Atari 2600)
Space Spartans (Intellivision)
Airforce Delta (Dreamcast)

Ren and Stimpy: Stimpy's Invention
Grade: F
Publisher: Sega (1993)
Reviewed: 2005/8/14

screenshotIn the immortal words of Mr. Horse, "No sir I don't like it." This, coming from a rabid fan of the old Ren and Stimpy cartoon series. I normally don't watch cartoons, but I've always found the Ren and Stimpy show strangely appealing, if only because it's so damn bizarre. This video game adaptation conveys a hint of the show's outrageousness, but none of its clever dialogue or wit. This is painfully evident during the lame introduction, which explains the background story using nothing but boring text.

The game itself is a complete mess. In the single-player mode, you control both Ren and Stimpy as a unit, executing moves and attacks that usually involve tossing each other around. Frankly, the control scheme is so confusing that you can't predict how the pair will react to your commands. And it's even worse with two players! The jumping controls are far from responsive, and the stage designs are as annoying as they are unimaginative. You'll battle bizarre creatures like eyeballs and blue chickens as you explore a neighborhood with giant cracks in the sidewalk, a freezer, a dog pound, and a zoo.

There are scattered references to the show (like Powdered Toast Man and Mr. Horse) but these are token appearances. There's nothing to get excited about in terms of graphics, although I do like how the game adopts the same visual style as the show. The scratchy voice samples ("get on with it man") are hard to stomach, and the music is utterly generic. Did Sega really think they could sell this garbage on the strength of the Ren and Stimpy name alone? Those stupid eediots!! © Copyright 2005 The Video Game Critic.

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1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: Quest for the Shaven Yak Starring Ren and Stimpy (Game Gear)
Wonder Dog (Sega CD)
Itchy and Scratchy (Super Nintendo)
Blackhole Assault (Sega CD)
Remote Control (NES)

Revenge of Shinobi
Grade: B-
Publisher: Sega (1989)
Reviewed: 2006/2/17


screenshotHere's a remarkable game that readers have been urging me to review for quite a while. Revenge of Shinobi begins as your typical side-scrolling ninja fighter, as you battle traditional samurai warriors in ancient settings. Shinobi is equipped with a limited number of shuriken throwing knives, and can perform melee attacks up close. You also have four Ninjitsu (ninja magic) powers to choose from (via the pause screen), providing invincibility, high jumping, and a fire attack. The fourth is magic ("Mijin") deals devastating damage but requires you to sacrifice a life.

The game seems typical at first, but progressively becomes more surreal and bizarre. It's never dull though, because the stages change abruptly, and each feels like a different game. You'll traverse waterfalls, dark alleys, a factory, freeway, shipping dock, airport, and ChinaTown, just to name a few. Along the way you'll face soldiers, attack dogs, Bruce Lee look-alikes, and ninja women disguised as nuns!

The graphics are better than average, and what they lack in detail they make up for in personality. If you have the original version of the game, you'll encounter some inexplicable bosses including a Terminator, Batman, Spiderman, and even Godzilla! Interestingly, in the later-released "Sega Classics" version, most of these licensed characters have been replaced with odd substitutes (including a skeletal dinosaur).

Revenge of Shinobi's controls are responsive with the exception of the double-jump move, which doesn't always want to work. Other frustrations include booby-trapped crates and getting knocked off of ledges into bottomless pits. Do real ninjas have to put up with that kind of crap? The game has an excellent old-school soundtrack, and the stage theme reminds me of Streets of Rage - it's that good. The sound effects of crackling flamethrowers and clanking swords are terrific, although the voice samples are generally awful (typical for the Genesis).

Revenge had the makings of a truly great game, but it's entirely too hard. I had to do some serious research just to figure out how to defeat the first boss, and I never would have been able to properly review this game without my Game Genie. The difficulty is brutal, and the ending is weak. I can only recommend Revenge of Shinobi to gamers to insist their games be hard as nails. The game has a lot to offer, but casual players probably won't survive long enough to see much of it. © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.

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Recommended variation: easy
Our high score: 87800
1 player 

If you like this game, try: Bruce Lee (Atari XEGS)
Batman Begins (Game Boy Advance)
Bruce Lee (Commodore 64)
Ninja Warriors (Super Nintendo)
Shinobi (Playstation 2)

Risky Woods
Grade: F
Publisher: Electronic Arts (1992)
Reviewed: 2016/9/29

screenshotThis lame platformer excels in presentation but bends over backwards to prevent you from having a good time. First you're presented with a map screen a la Ghouls 'N Ghosts (Genesis, 1989). Risky Woods could only dream of being that good. In the first stage you walk across elevated rocky platforms, rapidly hurling knives at skeletons and birds, causing them to drop large coins.

Picking stuff up turns out to be a major chore! You have to position yourself directly over an object and kneel down to pick up a single coin. Consider you'll need no less than 35 coins to earn a decent suit of armor. It's more than a hassle; it's actually pain-inducing! And it's not even worth the effort since taking a hit causes your coins to spill out all over the place.

Large treasure chests spew forth tantalizing items but be careful because half the stuff is actually detrimental! Pick up an apple and you'll go to sleep! Pick up arrows and you'll be transported back to an earlier point in the stage! Who could have possibly thought this was fun? The manual even has an "aaargh!" next to the arrow icon, which is basically an admission of guilt! Sometimes an arrow is covering an item you really need and you can't even avoid it.

Another unwelcome feature is how the stages are timed. Some items award more time and others take it away, so what's the point? Collecting wheel-shaped objects and presenting them to a gargoyle lets you play a little game of Simon. The manual describes this act as "chanting" which is a little hard to swallow. Jumping platforms is annoying because something's always trying to knock you down in mid-air. In its defense, Risky Woods features ornate castles, decent music, and some nifty weapons like flaming rings. It's a shame the designers were their own worst enemy. © Copyright 2016 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 101,729
1 player 

If you like this game, try: Ghouls 'N Ghosts (Genesis)
Mr. Robot and His Robot Factory (Atari XEGS)
Super Ghouls 'N Ghosts (Super Nintendo)
Mighty Bomb Jack (NES)
Ghosts 'N Goblins (NES)

Ristar
Grade: B+
Publisher: Sega (1995)
Reviewed: 2013/10/7

screenshotThis obscure platformer harkens back to the days of happy-go-lucky platformers like Super Mario World (SNES, 1991) and Sonic the Hedgehog (Genesis, 1991). Ristar is a star-shaped hero with stretchy arms used to climb, grab enemies, and swing around poles. If you can stomach the cuteness factor this game is a heck of lot of fun. The stages are set on various planets, each with their own unique ecosystems (flowers, water, fire, snow, etc).

Ristar arrived late in the Genesis life cycle, and it's clear that the developers knew exactly what they were doing. The colors are so brilliant that you'd think this was a 32X title. The degree of detail is exceptional, making effective use of textures, shadows, and scaling. The upbeat soundtrack is appealing, although not as catchy as the Sonic games. Ristar's mechanics take some getting used to.

Instead of pouncing on creatures you grab them and head-butt them off the screen, which is satisfying. Enemies include fish, lizards, bunnies, and annoying dive-bombing birds. There's not much precision with "aiming" your arms but at least the collision detection is forgiving. Once you get used to the arm-swinging mechanics, you'll be navigating the levels with ease. There are alternate paths, secret areas, and not-so-hidden treasure chests that net you life and bonus points.

Ristar is brimming with originality but the game does get confusing at times. You tend to get bounced around a lot, and it's hard to tell when you're giving or taking damage. Heck, just opening a chest makes it look like you got punched in the face! Still, Ristar is engaging and refreshingly easy. The bosses don't overstay their welcome and I especially enjoyed fighting the big hammerhead shark. Ristar may look like a standard platformer but it's like nothing you've ever played. Trust me - it's good. © Copyright 2013 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 66800
1 player 

If you like this game, try: Super Mario All-Stars (Super Nintendo)
Super Mario Bros. 3 (NES)
Go Fish! (Atari 2600)
Shark! Shark! (Intellivision)
Sonic the Hedgehog (Genesis)

Road Rash
Grade: A
Publisher: Electronic Arts (1991)
Reviewed: 2003/5/10

screenshotThis classic motorcycle game succeeds on so many levels. It's a no-holds-barred cross-country racing game where abusing other racers is part of the fun. I remember when I first bought this game my friends couldn't get enough of it. My buddy John liked it so much that he used it in one of his college film projects. He videotaped parts of the game and spliced it with some cheesy clips of him riding his motorcycle - it was awful! My wife also got a kick out of this game, and it's one of the few she'll still play today.

The rolling hills and scaling scenery effectively convey the feeling of speeding down the open road, and you can even catch air on some of the big hills. There are five tracks, but since the scenery is sparse, they all look pretty much the same. What makes Road Rash such a trip is the perfect combination of racing and combat. When you pull alongside other racers, you can punch and kick them off of their bike, and they fight back too! The best part is when you snatch a club from one guy, and then systematically beat the living crap out of everybody else. It's surprisingly easy to maneuver and maintain your position alongside opponents.

Fighting while trying to avoid oncoming traffic can be quite a rush, but there's more. A cop on a motorcycle will try to run you off the road, but no, you can't beat him up (although everybody tries). After a motorcycle wrecks, the driver goes flying, but he's not out of the race yet! He'll automatically run back to his bike, which is often lying in the middle of the road. As you can guess, each oncoming motorcycle tries to run him over.

And I can't say enough about the incredible music. These hard-edged, high-energy tunes are the best I've heard in a Genesis game - they REALLY get your adrenaline flowing. After each race you win cash to upgrade your bike or buy a new one, and you can save your place using a huge, hard-to-read password. Road Rash is a true classic that stands the test of time. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 

If you like this game, try: Road Rash Jailbreak (Game Boy Advance)
Road Rash 2 (Genesis)
Super Off Road: The Baja (Super Nintendo)
Road Rash (3DO)
Fatal Run (Atari 7800)

Road Rash 2
Grade: B
Publisher: Electronic Arts (1992)
Reviewed: 2003/5/10

screenshotThe original Road Rash was an incredible motorcycle racing game, but as good as it was, it begged for a two-player split-screen mode. Enter Road Rash II. Unfortunately, the new split-screen mode didn't exactly set the world on fire. The two screens are rather small and the framerate is painfully low. The action is choppy, and objects pop-up and disappear unpredictably. Control also suffers, with turning that feels sluggish and unresponsive.

The one-player mode plays more like the original Road Rash, which is a good thing. There are a few minor enhancements, like the addition of a chain weapon and additional obstacles like deer in the road. There's a new set of tracks, but nothing too compelling, and the music is surprisingly lame. The hard-edged, grinding tunes of the first game have been replaced with light, upbeat melodies - bad idea! After each race you see a little animation that's pretty funny, and the passwords are more manageable this time around. But overall I prefer the original Road Rash. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.

1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: Road Rash (Sega CD)
Tarzan (Colecovision)
Road Rash (Genesis)
Road Rash 3 (Genesis)
Time Crisis 2 (Playstation 2)

Road Rash 3
Grade: B+
Publisher: Electronic Arts (1995)
Reviewed: 2003/5/10


screenshotThe third and final Genesis installment of Road Rash has more depth than previous offerings, but treads water in terms of gameplay. The first thing that stands out is the overhauled graphics. Instead of the colorful, hand-drawn riders and scenery, everything now has a digitized look. While the drivers admittedly look more realistic, the scenery - especially the backgrounds - looks terribly grainy.

The locations span the globe from Japan to Brazil, but there's really not a lot to see. The framerate in the split-screen mode is noticeably improved, but the one-player mode actually looks a bit choppier. I do like how your opponent's bike stays up momentarily after you knock him clean off of it, and it's always fun to crash just before the finish line and fly over it without your bike. The controls seem slightly more responsive than RR2, and police now come on motorcycles, patrol cars, AND helicopters.

One area in which Road Rash 3 falters is in combat, despite the fact that there are now seven weapons. Unlike the first Road Rash, it's really difficult to get a clean shot at other riders. Another problem is the music. These uninspired tunes sound like leftovers from previous editions. Road Rash 3 is still good, but it can't top the original. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.

1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: Road Rash 2 (Genesis)
Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped (Playstation)
Road Rash 64 (Nintendo 64)
Road Rash (Sega CD)
Rogue Trip (Playstation)

Robocop 3
Grade: F
Publisher: Flying Edge (1993)
Reviewed: 2015/3/3

screenshotI might have enjoyed Robocop 3 more had I not already played Robocop Versus Terminator (Genesis, 1993) which is about 100 times better. Both side-scrolling shooters are similar in design, but this one is amateur hour. The red Detroit skyline looks appealing, but those decrepit green buildings look like ass. Robocop's default weapon is a pathetic pea-shooter. Fortunately better weapons appear early and often including a handy three-way shot.

In addition to shooting low-lifes hiding behind crates and falling from windows, you'll have to contend with robotic drones. And guess what - they're not delivering for Amazon! These drones are a serious pain in the ass because they buzz all over the place and can sustain too many hits. Equally annoying is when you find yourself overlapping with an enemy, incurring damage without being able to deal any. That's just shoddy game design.

Even with a decent weapon you'll absorb a ton of mandatory hits, so collecting energy icons is your only hope. At the end of the first stage you're ambushed by 20 guys armed with bazookas. Seriously?! Most people will give up at that point - and rightly so. Later stages look pretty blah, but there is a mediocre vertical flying stage thrown in. The continue screen features the ED-209 robot from the original movie, who warns "you have 20 seconds to comply". When he finally opens fire you'll be grateful to be put out of your misery. © Copyright 2015 The Video Game Critic.

Recommended variation: continues
Our high score: 56850
1 player 

If you like this game, try: Robocop (NES)
Robocop Versus Terminator (Genesis)
Robocop Versus Terminator (Super Nintendo)
Robocop 3 (NES)
Nova Blast (Colecovision)

Robocop Versus Terminator
Grade: B+
Publisher: Virgin (1993)
Reviewed: 2013/4/4

screenshotThe story behind Robocop Versus Terminator is so incomprehensible I couldn't explain it if I tried. Suffice to say Robocop must battle Terminators to save mankind. The gameplay is pretty straightforward thanks to mission directives like "avoid the bullets" and "try to stay alive" (no kidding). You don't tend to expect much from a film mash-up like this, but Robocop Versus Terminator is awesome. Its rapid-fire, ultra-violent brand of shooting is some of the best I've experienced on the Genesis. The very first stage pretty much "had me at hello" with its blood-red evening city skyline, which is truly a sight to behold. It looks so good that I pretty much insist on playing this game at night.

The characters are huge and Robocop exhibits the same mannerisms he does in the film. The controls are outstanding. You can fire at various angles, easily grab hold of ladders, quickly scoot across wires, and even shoot while hanging. Even climbing scaffolding is fun in this game! But what really puts Robocop Versus Terminator over the top is its excessive violence. When you blast thugs their bodies explode in a fountain of blood accompanied by gurgling sound effects. When you shoot snipers in the windows, blood splatters all over the curtains, and I like that!

When fighting Terminators they transform from human figures to exoskeletons as you wear them down. The first few stages are gangbusters, but later stages expose a few flaws. Some have a lot of irritating small robots that are hard to destroy. The boss fights run far too long, and the bosses themselves are fatal to the touch! Brandishing a special weapon makes things easier, but acquiring one seems to depend on luck.

Some of the weapons are ridiculous. There are "homing bullets" that swarm on enemies, and explosive canisters that you can guide slowly around the screen. But just because a weapon is crazy doesn't mean it's not fun to use! The music in the opening stage is unintentionally hilarious with a guy doing voice samples who sounds really, really flamboyant. Robocop Versus Terminator has its quirks, but if you're looking for a high-octane shooter, this game kicks ass. © Copyright 2013 The Video Game Critic.

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Recommended variation: normal
Our high score: SLN 39,640
Save mechanism: Password
1 player 

If you like this game, try: Robocop Versus Terminator (Super Nintendo)
Robocop (NES)
Terminator (Sega CD)
Killer Bees (Odyssey 2)
Robocop 3 (Genesis)

Rock 'N Roll Racing
Grade: B+
Publisher: Interplay (1994)
Reviewed: 2001/6/7

screenshotThis game was made by Interplay and Blizzard, two game companies that would become giants in the industry. Anyone who's played RC Pro Am on the NES will feel right at home with R&R Racing. The 45-degree, pseudo-3D view of the track gives you a good angle, letting you see just enough of the road ahead. Cars are equipped with front and rear weapons. The elevated tracks are available on six "planets", which offer unspectacular but colorful scenery.

The gameplay is surprisingly deep. You can buy different types of cars, upgrade them, and equip them with all sorts of gadgets. A password lets you save your spot. The two-player split-screen is also a lot of fun, and let's not forget about the music! The Sega Genesis isn't known for its great audio, but you'll hear stellar versions of "Paranoid", "Bad To The Bone", "Born To Be Wild", and "Radar Love", among others. Be sure to turn off the annoying announcer, who often interrupts the music. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.

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1 to 2 players 

If you like this game, try: Excitebike 64 (Nintendo 64)
Rally Challenge 2000 (Nintendo 64)
R.C. Pro-Am (NES)
RC de Go (Playstation)
Virtua Racing (Saturn)

Rocket Knight Adventures
Grade: C
Publisher: Konami (1993)
Reviewed: 2021/3/6

screenshotI've never been a fan of Rocket Knight Adventures but it's developed a cult following over the years. The game is certainly well-programmed, with crisp controls and large sprites that look like a live-action cartoon (if there is such a thing). It stars some kind of armored rodent who can blast off like a rocket. His sword unleashes fiery rings that knock the armor off pig warriors, causing them to go flailing off the screen in their underwear. The game is whimsical in nature but some of the explosion effects are pretty kick-ass.

The most original aspect of Rocket Knight is his thrusters. When charged they allow him to soar over obstacles or plow through enemies. You can't control your movement in mid-air however, and when you hit a wall you'll find yourself caroming all over the place. A lot of times you need to do this strategically but the controls are clumsy.

Side-scrolling shooting stages add variety, including an impressive storm stage with smoke-belching factories. There's a mountain level with minecart rides a la Donkey Kong Country (SNES, 1993). The underwater and volcano stages have areas where you alternate between two planes, and these took me a while to wrap my head around.

Rocket Knight is very boss-heavy, and these guys have an annoying way of returning after you thought they were defeated. Upon dying at the hands of a boss, you don't restart at the boss. No, you go back to the middle of the stage, which sometimes was several bosses ago! I'll give Rocket Knight all the credit in the world for being consistently inventive and unpredictable. Unfortunately I can't vouch for it being consistently fun. © Copyright 2021 The Video Game Critic.

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Our high score: 94,250
1 player 

If you like this game, try: Donkey Kong Jr. (NES)
Donkey Kong Country Returns (Wii)
Donkey Kong Junior (Colecovision)
Donkey Kong 3 (NES)
Donkey Kong Junior (Atari 2600)

Rolling Thunder 2
Grade: A
Publisher: Namco (1991)
Reviewed: 2018/9/9

screenshotI loved the first Rolling Thunder (NES, 1989) but this sequel knocked my socks off. In addition to reprising the tactical shooting thrills of the original, Rolling Thunder 2 serves up some of the most visually arresting sights you'll see in a 16-bit title. It begins with a pretty elaborate 007-style intro. You can assume the role of a male or female secret agent, or both if you have a friend on hand. Yes - you heard it right - this game has two-player co-op!

The opening stage takes place at a marina with turquoise waters, majestic yachts, palm trees, and beautiful villas. I actually had to pause the game to gaze at the breathtaking scenery! Crisp controls allow you to effortlessly shoot, duck, and take cover. Your bullets travel slowly and when you run out of ammo you can only fire intermittently. Fortunately there are ammo storage closets and special weapons like machine guns that ratchet up the intensity. Enemies include colorful ninja warriors and pouncing black panthers. Wait a minute, what is that bad guy doing to the statue of a woman?! Please tell me he's just reloading.

Anyway each stage demands a methodical approach as you scale floors and drop down to put yourself in the most advantageous position. After the first two stages the difficulty kicks into overdrive! In addition to outstanding graphics the game offers excellent digitized sounds including an agonizing scream when you get killed! I also like the innovative password system that uses four-word passphrases instead of characters. Thoughtfully designed and a sight to behold, Rolling Thunder 2 is one Genesis game you won't want to miss. © Copyright 2018 The Video Game Critic.

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Our high score: BP 41,120
Save mechanism: password
1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: Rolling Thunder (NES)
Rolling Thunder 3 (Genesis)
Ninja Warriors, The (Japan) (Turbografx-16)
Thunder Fox (Genesis)
NARC (NES)

Rolling Thunder 3
Grade: B+
Publisher: Namco (1993)
Reviewed: 2018/9/9

screenshotRolling Thunder 3 didn't "wow" me like the first two Rolling Thunder entries for the NES and then the Genesis. It's better in some ways but feels less inspired overall. There's no intro this time and they ditched the two-player mode as well. The basic gameplay remains rock solid as you methodically infiltrate industrial facilities, blast robots and take cover behind crates.

There are several innovations worthy of mention. First, you select your special weapon like a machine gun or flamethrower before you begin each level. The interface is a little confusing, as it's hard to tell if you've selected a weapon or not (hint: press B)! My personal favorite is the shotgun that sprays five bullets at once.

Your standard pistol now has the ability to shoot diagonally which makes it a lot easier to deal with baddies hanging out on the balconies. You can also shoot while jumping. The mechanical panthers are scary as hell and I love their snarling growls. Resist the urge to shoot everything in sight as it's very easy to run out of ammo.

The industrial stages make good use of color but tend to be repetitive. The Las Vegas stage features somersaulting clowns that reminded me of Batman Returns (Genesis, 1992). But the biggest surprise are the motorcycle and jetski (!) stages. While they play more like bonus levels, they look very cool. Namco got a little lazy with Rolling Thunder 3, but it's still a solid shooter at its core. © Copyright 2018 The Video Game Critic.

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Our high score: 9530
1 player 

If you like this game, try: Dark Cavern (Atari 2600)
Rolling Thunder 2 (Genesis)
Namco Museum 50th Anniversary (Playstation 2)
Batman: The Animated Series (Game Boy)
Rolling Thunder (NES)


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