Certain weapons fire both up and down, which are useful when flying through cannon-fortified caverns. Enemies tend to appear in groups, and eradicating every last one will net you a big fat bonus. Sagaia's aquatic-themed enemies include lobsters, jellyfish, and seahorses. Fish bosses don't overstay their welcome and turn red when near death (like a good boss should). Keep an eye out for floating mines which you can shoot to wipe out everything on the screen (like a remote smart bomb).
My main beef with Sagaia is how enemies can absorb many shots, offsetting the benefits of the rapid-fire shooting. Those pesky seahorses are prime offenders. The stages are pretty generic and advanced levels tend to recycle old enemies and bosses. The music is fair, but occasionally it drifts into Hanna Barbara cartoon territory. The sound effects are weak, and destroying enemies sounds like you're popping balloons. Sagaia isn't particularly memorable, but its "keep it simple" style goes a long way.
. © Copyright 2012 The Video Game Critic.
The most interesting aspect of Saint Sword is your ability to transform into a half-animal creature. As a centaur you can leap great distances and execute a deadly rear-kick. As the birdman you can fly freely, allowing you to bypass a lot of tedious platform jumping. As a fishman you can swim like Michael Phelps. By strategically changing forms, you'll learn how to complete each stage a lot faster. Saint Sword's fighting action is a little irritating at first, since you tend to be weak and most enemies require multiple hits.
The skeletons especially are a major pain in the ass. Thanks to the haphazard collision detection, making contact is more like a suggestion than a requirement. Once you acquire the spiffy gold armor however, you can slice through the baddies much easier. The stages have multiple paths, and while some are annoyingly maze-like, at least they tend to be reasonable in size. You'll encounter some seriously grotesque bosses that look like an unholy amalgamation of hideous creatures lumped together. Saint Sword probably looks better than it plays, but if you can embrace its quirks you're in for a good time. © Copyright 2010 The Video Game Critic.
The gameplay isn't much better - the action feels very slow and lethargic. Worst of all, the Genesis isn't capable of executing the snazzy 3D scaling that's the trademark of the game (not to mention its one original feature). At least the six-button controller is supported. But only diehard fighting fans will want to try this one. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.
Once you arrive at your destination the gang splits up and you assume control of Shaggy and Scooby. You can move freely between areas but interaction requires you to point with the cursor after selecting a command at the bottom of the screen like "look" or "use". The user interface is pretty clunky, and I got tired of dragging that slow-ass cursor around the screen. The illustrated scenery in Scooby Doo Mystery is terrific, but key items and entrances tend to blend in. There are only a few animations but they are amusing.
To solve a mystery you'll converse with people, move obstacles, search for clues, and even piece items together. The game would have been a winner if the puzzles made sense, but more often that not, they defy logic! In the hotel you'll need to open every door in a long hallway before the one at the end magically becomes unlocked.
In the carnival you'll use taffy to start an electric generator. Nonsense like that forces you into trial-and-error mode (or better yet, FAQ mode). I was glad to see a save function until I realized it required writing down a 30-character sequence - with special characters no less! Scooby-Doo Mystery had the potential for spooky fun, but its poorly-constructed puzzles are unforgivable. © Copyright 2010 The Video Game Critic.
The graphics aren't anything to write home about with grainy backdrops and people rendered with black outlines. That said, the visuals have an old school charm and the ominous music is quite enjoyable. Each warrior has his own weapons, from knives to boomerangs to flaming dragons. You'll battle samurai warriors, serpents, flaming birds, floating heads, and annoying hopping pinecones. You can jump, duck, toss projectiles, and unleash a special attack. The environments could use more pizzazz but I like how there are alternate routes you can take.
The control, firepower, and difficulty is right on point. It's hard to tell what some of the icons are for, but collecting gray ones will power up your attack. Each stage concludes with an obligatory boss in the form of a floating head, a rock golem, or giant brain. Don't forget your special attack! The gameplay is very basic but fun to play for high score. The fact that there's a highly-playable two-player simultaneous mode is icing on the cake. Shadow Blasters may not look like much but rest assured it's a worthy addition to the collection. © Copyright 2016 The Video Game Critic.
You're armed with unlimited throwing stars but can slash enemies at close range. Your ace in the hole is a loyal attack dog who can't harm enemies but will struggle with them as you can move in for the kill. Certain baddies are protected by shields so you'll need to sic your pooch at exactly the right moment. Taking cover behind crates allows you to study their patterns. As a last resort you can unleash your ninja magic which bombards the screen with fireballs or tornadoes. In an amazing stroke of luck you are completely immune to this display of deadly destruction!
The post-apocalyptic stages are short and sweet with dynamic elements like exploding manholes and giant crevasses ripping up the road. I love the subtle animations like hostages struggling in their bindings. Bosses include a towering samurai giant and a rock creature that materializes out of a brick wall. At the top of the Statue of Liberty you'll battle a chick who hurls spinning blades. During bonus stages you free-fall from a skyscraper and throw stars at ninjas already on the way down!
If you enjoy spectacular skylines Shadow Dancer will not disappoint. The game also has its share of memorable tunes that will instantly transport you back to the early 90's. The cover art is amusing, showing our ninja hero harassing some old couple in an alleyway. Shinobi hates old people! A fine blend of action, strategy, and wholesome dog-mauling fun, Shadow Dancer is an underrated entry in the Shinobi saga. © Copyright 2018 The Video Game Critic.
At first you can only punch and kick, but periodically you'll obtain a weapon. The stylish graphics and moody electronic score convey a dreamlike quality. The gameplay however is hurting! The character animation is so bad it looks like I'm fighting statues. It's hard to determine the purpose of most items and large monsters kill you on contact.
Much of the time Shadow of the Beast makes no sense. In the first underground area you must break an orb to obtain a weapon, yet punching has no effect. No, you need to use a series of jump-kicks instead. How are you supposed to know that?! You're often required to complete tasks in a specific order and sometimes you seem to lose items or abilities for no apparent reason. The music may be good but the sound effects are practically non-existent. Shadow of the Beast exudes a lot of style but I'm afraid there's very little beneath its grand exterior. © Copyright 2019 The Video Game Critic.
The story mode pits Shaq against a series of "interdimensional martial artists" including a horned guy in the desert, a knife-throwing dude on a bridge, and a hot black chick in the jungle. The gameplay is an incoherent mess. The characters are small and hop around like fleas. The hit detection is suspect and the physics employs mid-air "corrections" to reposition players. You're practically required to jump around to avoid the onslaught of projectiles. There's also a lot of magic in this game and it's pretty cheap when Shaq keels over just because a woman stuck a needle into a doll.
Shaq Fu supports the six-button controller but it's not required. Since Shaq is so much taller than everybody else his punches don't do much good. He does have a metal-pizza-tossing move, but it takes far too long for him to "wind up" for it. Special moves are more trouble than they're worth but you can make a living off of his long leg sweeps. Another effective strategy is to corner an opponent and continuously kick the living [expletive] out of them.
Some of the scenery looks vaguely interesting, particularly those hulking guards in the Gargoyle's Peak stage. Why can't I fight them? I guess the story mode isn't so bad. Much like the man himself, Shaq-Fu has an endearing quality. Whenever I look back at this cheesy fighter I can't help but smile. © Copyright 2020 The Video Game Critic.
When not in battle, the game suffers from "too many buttons" syndrome. Instead of hitting a button to perform an action, you must call up a menu and select "Search" or "Talk". Each character has four item slots, and it's interesting how you never buy armor for your units - only weapon upgrades. The combat system is where the game truly... er... "Shines". Battles either take place on over-land maps between cities, or within the towns and dungeons. You can have up to twelve units in your party with several others waiting back at "headquarters".
True to tactical RPG's, each unit can move a certain amount of squares, which is often limited by the terrain. After moving, your unit can attack or cast a spell (if it has the ability). Archers can shoot from afar, but melee fighters can only attack adjacent squares. Victory depends largely on your ability to effectively coordinate the movement and attacks of your units. Your units can accumulate experience points and gain levels, as well as earn "promotions" to improve their classes.
When a unit dies in battle, you can't bring them back during the fight, but you can have it revived at a church. If the Hero is killed, the battle ends and you find yourself back at your last save point - with half the gold. The background music and sound effects are pretty enjoyable and the graphics (which included some simple illustrations of the characters) are relatively good-looking all things considered. A few of its elements are a little inconvenient, but on the whole Shining Force is pretty darn fun to play. Favorite Character: Zylo. © Copyright 2008 The Video Game Critic.
Played in series of cities across the USA, you must obtain a certain score to advance to the next town. The idea is to sink balls in order (consecutive or by number), with a supply of "stocks" keeping track of allowed misses. This system gives you a little leeway so you can experiment with some imaginative shots. The controls are intuitive and a dotted guide line makes it easy to set up your next shot and play the angles. Angles are limited by the resolution, but you can compensate by applying english. The shiny balls roll smoothly around the table and I love the sound of them clicking against each other. The physics is a little quirky and I really wish there was more separation during breaks.
Spicing things up are randomized bonuses and opportunities to execute trick shots on tables lined with wine glasses. A score is awarded after each round, but I wish there was a running tally as well. What makes Side Pocket stand out is how it conveys the atmosphere of a smoky pool hall. The jazzy lounge music is relaxing and the intermission screens show sophisticated ladies in come-hither poses. I think one just winked at me! Side Pocket is an arcade-style pool game with style to burn.
. © Copyright 2015 The Video Game Critic.
The first stage is set on a city street where Bart must track down 24 purple items, and a helpful "goal counter" on the bottom of the screen keeps you posted on his progress. You'll achieve your goals by spray-painting flowerpots, dumping paint, and knocking clothes off a clothesline. In one special case, Bart needs to prank call Moe the bartender in order to lure him out and spray-paint his apron. The sidewalks are crawling with small bouncy aliens that Bart has to duck under or jump over. Sometimes it's necessary to purchase specific items from stores including wrenches, cherry bombs, and bottle rockets.
Bart Vs. The Space Mutants is actually quite fun to play, but it's relentlessly unforgiving, requiring you to complete every single goal flawlessly! If that's not enough, each stage ends with a boss encounter like a water-balloon tossing bully. Later stages promise madcap action in a shopping mall, amusement park, and museum. If only I could get that far! Since there's no password, you're always doomed to repeat the early stages, and considering the difficulty, that oversight is unforgivable. © Copyright 2007 The Video Game Critic.
That leads me to my main complaint - there's too many freakin' things to shoot! The monsters just regenerate over and over, which is really annoying in certain levels that require you to clear them all out before progressing. The shooting action gets old really quick. In most stages I discovered it was less painful to simply navigate the maze and avoid combat altogether.
Another annoying aspect is bosses that take forever to die, and you can't tell if they're taking damage! I really can't find fault with the graphics. The stages are fairly generic, but the pseudo-3D characters are nicely animated, and it's fun to watch them explode. But it's just eye candy as far as I'm concerned. Even with the two-player simultaneous mode, this game doesn't have lasting play value. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.
Screen shots courtesy of Video Game Museum