Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3
Publisher: Williams (1996)
Rating: Mature (realistic blood and gore, violence)
This "Ultimate" edition is a weak attempt to repackage Mortal Kombat 3 (MK3) and appease some disenchanted fans. Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 returns two vital characters missing from MK3: Scorpion (a fan favorite) and the original masked
version of Sub Zero. The fact that the unmasked
version is also
included seems to break every law of nature. It's just not right!
And where in the hell
is Rayden? What happened to Sheeva? Several new characters are present, but they feel tacked on to say the least, with even more Scorpion palette-swaps like Rain (purple), Ermac (red), and Noob Saibot (black). Geez, hasn't that dead horse been beaten enough??
The fighting engine has been tweaked a bit and there are new fatalities, so the underlying fighting engine is solid. The game certainly plays well. Another purported new "feature" are the multi-player modes that support four or eight players. Who in the hell asked for that?
Nobody, but it sure was easy to program! UMK3 also features a few new backgrounds, but nothing worth writing home about. Clearly Midway was trying to squeeze as much as they could out of the series for one last 16-bit incarnation, but I doubt if gamers turned off by MK3 would even bother with this. © Copyright 2009 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Accolade (1992)
Much like the low-budget Jean Claude Van Damme/Dolph Lundgren flick of the same name, Universal Soldier won't disappoint you if you don't expect too much. You play a soldier named Luc in this side-scrolling platform shooter, where you avoid traps, leap between platforms, explore underground caves, and blast everything to bits. The game has little in common with the movie, but a lot
in common with the game Turrican (Accolade, 1991). The similarities are downright astonishing until you realize they were both published by Accolade. Yes, this was a pretty transparent attempt to make some quick cash on a movie license. The initial stage is set in a forest with grainy scenery and an ugly color scheme. Your soldier brandishes some serious firepower, but can only shoot forward. To compensate, you're armed with a "laser whip" which you can position 360 degrees around you. You also have one "super weapon" per life that literally wipes the screen of enemies. There are tons of power-ups icons lying around - so many that you actually begin to get tired of picking them up! Enemy soldiers don't die easily, and when they do, it looks like they're flying off the screen. Universal Soldier also features a lot of swarming creepy-crawlies - both biological and mechanical. Like Turrican, you can transform into a spiked ball and effectively plow through a line of foes. While the graphics are generally uninspired, a few details caught my eye, like the way water splashes on your head and little stars appear when you're dizzy. The soundtrack of stage one is very intense, but the happy-go-lucky music of stage two would be better suited to a Sonic game. Universal Soldier offers continues and provides passwords between stages. Fans of the movie may be disappointed, but shooter fans will have their hands full with this one. © Copyright 2008 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 92,664
Unnecessary Roughness '95
Publisher: Accolade (1994)
With a name like Unnecessary Roughness, I was eagerly anticipating one of those crazy, over-the-top sports spectacles, along the lines of NBA Jam. Instead, the game unwisely attempts to be a realistic
football game! It contains all of the real NFL teams and players, but if Accolade expected to compete with Madden, they were badly mistaken. Unnecessary Roughness doesn't offer anything that Madden doesn't do better. Yes, there are two viewing angles - distant during passes and close during runs, but that's been done before in Joe Montana II Sportstalk Football
(Genesis, 1991). The graphics are weak. In the far view, the players have ugly black outlines surrounding them. They look much better close-up, but their animation is rough. At any given time a player is either standing perfectly straight or laying flat on his back. When receivers (and defenders) reach the quarterback's "target", they just stand around like buffoons waiting for the ball to arrive. What's worse is how a defender can be literally be on top
of the receiver, only to have the receiver still make the catch! I saw one receiver make a catch who was nowhere near
the ball. The passes "float" something terrible and there's no shadow to judge the height of the ball (although the ball does get "big" while in midair). The running game isn't much better. There's little time to make decisions when running up the middle, but sometimes you can break loose on the outside. Even the kicking game is flawed thanks to the ridiculously tiny goal posts. Play calling is definitely simpler than Madden - you only need to choose one play/formation, which thankfully speeds up the game. I love football games in general, but Unnecessary Roughness is far more unnecessary than rough. © Copyright 2005 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Electronic Arts (1994)
The first two Strike titles allowed you to blow up targets all over the world. These campaigns take place in the dense cityscapes of New York, San Francisco, and Las Vegas. You get to control two types of helicopters, as well as a ground vehicle, and in some stages you can run around and attack on foot! This is probably the ultimate Strike game, and if you're not sick and tired of this series by now, this should do the trick. © Copyright 1999 The Video Game Critic.
Save mechanism: Save option? Password
Publisher: Renovation (1991)
Renovation published some great 16-bit titles in the 1990's, including personal favorite Gaiares (Renovation, 1990) and the critically-acclaimed Gain Ground (Genesis, 1991). I always liked the Valis series but it occurred to me I had never played the original. Tracking down a complete version was not cheap, and the intro does not inspire confidence. It lacks audio, and the text crawl is so slow someone might as well be typing it!
Valis stars a Japanese schoolgirl named Yuko who acquires magical powers from the Goddess Valia. The opening stage takes place in a city where you battle floating plants, dark samurai warriors, and cartwheeling robots. I love the look of those skyscrapers soaring into the blue sky, and if you want a better view just jump onto a rooftop. The musical score kicks ass, enhanced with some excellent drum fills. Valis sounds great but the gameplay seems to be stuck in low gear! The collision detection is about the worst I've ever seen, and I hate how enemies simply disappear when hit. You have a magic meter and health bar, and ubiquitous power-ups make it easy to keep them full. This is one of those games where you stop bothering to collect health because you're already maxed out! Upon defeating a boss this message is displayed: "Stage complete. Get Fantasm Jeuly". I think that's supposed to be jewelry
. They give you magic powers which are woefully ineffective on bosses. I'm still trying to figure out how triggering an earthquake kills creatures in the air
. Valis is super easy until you reach the underground lava stage. It's not really a matter of maintaining your health; you can fall into the lava without taking damage for Pete's sake! No, the true challenge is maintaining your sanity as you move from one dead end to the next while desperately trying to locate the exit! The slide move is easy to forget about, but it's surprisingly useful for clearing small gaps. Advanced bosses absorb up to 50 hits, making these fights feel like battles of attrition. I'm afraid first entry in the Valis series has not aged well at all. I much prefer the PC Engine CD remake Valis
(Turbgrafx-16, 1992). © Copyright 2019 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Renovation (1991)
Side-scrolling hack-n-slash fans will feel like they've died and gone to old-school heaven when they play Valis III. This game has it all - sweet parallax scrolling, anime cut-scenes, a cool electronic soundtrack, and an absolutely incomprehensible storyline. The intermissions try to tie up loose ends from previous Valis games, tossing out all sorts of odd names like "Valna", "Kolilanba", and my personal favorite, "Glames". The text dialogue scrolls awfully slowly, so only die-hard Valis fans will savor the dramatic storyline - most players will skip it. The initial stage appears to be set in modern-day Japan. Isn't it amazing how those city skylines always look so cool in these old 16-bit games? Most of the other stages feature fantasy settings including a magical forest and a lake with a tower in the center. Valis III's familiar mechanics will have you jumping between platforms and hacking at monsters, but this game is easier to play than most. Jumping can be problematic until you master the "long jump" (press up diagonally), but once you have that down it's no problem at all. Your sword unleashes a wave of energy, so you can even reach foes from a distance. In addition to your standard attack, you can unleash magic and execute a handy roll move. Pressing the A button lets you cycle between several characters at any time, and they're all chicks. Nicely-illustrated enemies include floating jaws, transparent swamp creatures, floating coins, and levitating eyeballs. Many of the creatures defy description, but most are very imaginative and fun to watch. The bosses are relatively unspectacular, but refreshingly easy to defeat. As good as Valis III is, the unlimited continues and lack of a score takes its toll on the replay value. Anybody can beat the game if they sit in front of it long enough, and once it's complete, there's little incentive to return to it. Still, for the first time through anyway, Valis III is pure side-scrolling bliss. © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Renovation (1991)
This well-designed vertical shooter has a lot going for it. Vapor Trail offers three selectable fighter planes, each with its own unique combination of weaponry, power, and agility. You're allotted three ships, each with three units of "life", so you can withstand multiple hits before going down in flames. The A button shoots, B provides rapid-fire, and C triggers an evasive "roll" maneuver. Weapons and power-ups appear on a regular basis, including guided missiles and a devastating flame attack. Not all of the weapons are desirable however. The one that looks like swirling bubbles may be the most idiotic thing I've seen in a Genesis shooter. Vapor Trail's backdrops look terrific, featuring multi-layered mountains, tunnels, and overpasses. In one scene you fly up the side of a building as an awesome city skyline emerges in the background. The shooting action is intense, with most enemies being of the tank, helicopter, and jet fighter variety. In terms of audio, Vapor Trail boasts some seriously kick-ass music that conveys a true sense of urgency. The voice synthesis, on the other hand, is so awful you could mistake it for Donald Duck complaining about a bee in his picnic basket. It's so heinous that you actually want
to hear it, just so you can make fun of it. Vapor Trail also includes a two-player simultaneous mode, albeit with some minor slowdown. My main beef with this game is how your score immediately disappears
upon losing your last life! Yes, even during the "continue" countdown! Unless you're paying very
close attention, you never know what the high score is, which hurts the game's replay value. It's too bad, because otherwise Vapor Trail ranks quite high in the crowded pool of Genesis shooters. © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: SDZ 120000
1 or 2 players
Publisher: Sega (1995)
Vectorman may have been the last great game
released for the Genesis. This frenetic platform shooter was developed late in the system's lifecycle, and you can tell the developers knew what they were doing. In addition to some of the best run-and-gun action on the Genesis, Vectorman boasts impressive scaling, rotation, and amazing pseudo-3D effects. The main character is a funny dude composed of green spheres. Shooting televisions reveal power-ups, including some that transform him into interesting shapes like a drill, fish, or hand grenade. In his human form it's fun to blast robots by unleashing a steady barrage of shots. Occasionally you'll find a weapon which provides more potent (but temporary) firepower like five-way shots, rapid-fire, or spinning "bolos". We're seen this kind of game before, but rarely done this well. The control is perfect and the action is fast. I love the flags flapping in the wind in the opening stage, and the arctic ridge zone reminded me of the planet Hoth from Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. The stage designs can be repetitive but I like how there are lots of hidden areas to uncover. There's a visually-arresting bonus stage where you guide a car along an elevated track (overhead view) with a gigantic robot trying to crush you from below. The bosses can be a real headache, especially since they have no health meter. If you get frustrated, just switch to the "lame" difficulty setting like... umm.. a friend
of mine did. Understated techno music nicely complements the futuristic action. Vectorman is a classic title for the Genesis, pushing the technology to its limits without sacrificing the fun. © Copyright 2014 The Video Game Critic.
Recommended variation: Lame
Our high score: SLN 147,870
Publisher: Sega (1996)
The original Vectorman was pretty sweet, and Vectorman 2 offers more of the same run-and-gun mayhem. The first stage is set in a dark swamp, and the silhouettes of black trees over the deep blue night sky look gorgeous!
You can't go far without falling into underground caverns with glowing red walls. This is where it occurred to me that Vectorman owes a lot to the Earthworm Jim
(Genesis, 1994) series. Both platform shooters feature wacky heroes who can assume multiple forms. One thing the Vectorman series has going for it is an easy (ok, lame
) difficulty level that allows novice players (and impatient reviewers) to make substantial progress with minimal frustration. Vectorman 2 is a quality title, but it's less satisfying than the original game. Most creatures can absorb a ridiculous amount of firepower, and many have shells that make them impervious to your shots. The special weapons are great (love the ricochet), but they are hard to come by and never last long. Likewise you can change forms into a scorpion or tank, but too often you revert back before you even get a chance to enjoy your newfound powers. The stages are painted with vivid colors, but some of them kind of suck
. The roller skating stages are really hard to control, and my friend Steve languished in the endless tree-jumping stage. I never like the "blast through dirt" stages in Earthworm Jim, and the "blast through rock" stage here is nearly as annoying. Even the bonus stages tend to be shallow and feel like outtakes from the first game. One thing I do like is the enhanced voice effects, which have Vectorman saying things like "I'll take that" in a hollow, metallic voice. The difficulty level is a bit higher, but it's offset by an abundance of bonus lives. Vectorman 2 doesn't quite live up to the original, but if you couldn't get enough of the first game this one probably won't let you down. © Copyright 2014 The Video Game Critic.
Recommended variation: Lame
Our high score: 155,420
Publisher: Sammy (1994)
I love Zaxxon
(Colecovision, 1982) with its pseudo-3D isometric perspective, and I'm surprised more shooters didn't adopt this approach. Viewpoint offers a similar perspective but you don't change altitude, instead moving freely around a flat plane. Viewpoint was originally released for the powerful Neo Geo system, but the Genesis version does a remarkable job of mimicking its 3D-polygon look. The sense of depth is terrific as you're attacked by giant goldfish, square slinkies, and amazing bosses like a giant crab. With rapid-fire shooting and fantastic graphics, what's not to like? Well, the slow-down. Not only is the pace of the game plodding, but it becomes excruciating
when there's a lot of activity. Viewpoint is very erratic. There are stretches in the game where nothing seems to be happening. Other sections require you to avoid traps like tiles that rise and fall, but it can be hard to tell what you can or can't fly over. The boss encounters look magnificent but the battles are protracted and turn out to be kind of boring. I swear I had to shoot that damn crab about 1000 times. The game also suffers from a sample-heavy soundtrack that tries to be quirky but is just annoying. Viewpoint is a unique title for the system but as a shooter it fails to satisfy. © Copyright 2015 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 75,640
1 or 2 players
Publisher: Sega (1996)
This is Virtua Fighter
? Virtua Fighter is supposed to be a 3D game, but this version is just a second-rate 2D fighter. There's nothing "Virtual" about this game at all. Sega just used the name, and in my opinion, it's misleading. Anyway, this mediocre fighting game has decent graphics but nothing in the way of innovation. The whole gimmick to Virtua Fighter was the 3D angles, and without that the game seems pointless. Eight characters from the series are included, and I have to admit that they are colorful and well detailed. There are plenty of moves for each fighter, but the moves don't look very spectacular, and most are punch/kick variations. This game is a button-masher. It lacks the personality and playability of other fighting games like Street Fighter or Eternal Champions, and the voice samples are awful. Just to illustrate how lame this game is, one of the three bullet items on the box reads "Choose between 6 different fighting uniforms per character!" Big frickin' deal. © Copyright 1999 The Video Game Critic.
Save mechanism: Save feature? No
Publisher: Sega (1994)
To bring Virtua Racing to the Genesis, Sega packed extra chips into an oversized cartridge in order to support the game's demanding 3D polygon graphics. This game boasts visuals and gameplay unmatched for the system, and is very similar to the 32X version. Although the polygon count and number of colors are slightly lower in this version, the gameplay is just as good. Granted, there are only three tracks (compared to five on the 32X), but these are the three better tracks, complete with bridges, tunnels, and overpasses. Other minor differences include only one type of car (formula) and audio effects that sound muffled. Since the Genesis only supports a modest number of colors, the road tends to look like a patchwork of blue and gray squares. But in terms of fun, Virtua Racing has withstood the test of time very well. Even the split-screen mode is a pleasure to play. Incredibly, this game originally sold for an astronomical $100. NOTE: This cartridge will NOT work in a Sega 32X-equipped console. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Acclaim (1994)
Loaded with its supernatural monsters, spells, and macabre scenery, Warlock tries hard to be like Castlevania, but the gameplay is weak. You control a wizard who looks more than a little like Harry Potter. You begin the adventure running through a beautiful meadow, but an evil sorcerer soon appears and raises havoc, transforming dogs into werewolves and townspeople into ugly zombies. You get to explore creepy places like castles, dungeons, and graveyards, and they look terrific. The graphics are high caliber, and some of the monsters look truly frightening. A creepy organ plays a haunting refrain in the background. The unique health meter is in the form of a head that loses flesh with each hit. In terms of presentation, Warlock has a lot going for it, so it's a shame that the game plays so poorly. Although you can hurl "magic blasts" and an orb that acts like a boomerang, these can only be aimed at certain angles, and it's hard to hit advancing monsters. This problem is aggravated by numerous cheap hits and monsters that materialize from out of nowhere on both sides of you. Most players will give up in frustration and miss out on most of the great visuals Warlock has to offer. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Renovation (1990)
I'm normally giddy as a schoolgirl when it comes to 16-bit shooters, but Whip Rush just didn't do it for me. It's not awful
in any regard, but it lacks character and fails to distinguish itself from the many shooters it borrows ideas from. The graphics are sub-par, with the "orange circle" explosions looking especially weak. The constantly changing backgrounds feature cool parallax scrolling, but the scenery looks grainy and lacks detail. As you traverse the maze-like stages, the scrolling direction tends to change abruptly, sometimes forcing you into a corner with no room to escape. Frequent power-ups allow you to switch weapons, and you'll learn that certain weapons are far better suited to particular stages. One weapon I hated was the irritating "fire" weapon, which shoots in the opposite
direction of where you press the directional pad. By far your best option is the side-cannon attachment that can be repositioned on the fly via the C button. I do like how taking a hit reduces your weapon power instead of destroying your ship outright, and the high score is displayed on the top of the screen, giving you something to shoot for. Some of the music has that vintage 16-bit quality, but much of its sounds like bubblegum pop from the 1980s. In the final analysis, Whip Rush is playable but certainly not one of the better Genesis shooters. © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.
Recommended variation: turbo
Our high score: 99500
Wimbledon Championship Tennis
Publisher: Sega (1993)
Until recently I was under the impression that no good tennis games were released between Activision's Tennis
(Atari 2600, 1982) and Virtua Tennis (Dreamcast, 2000). That just goes to shows you what I
know - not a damn thing!
Wimbledon Championship Tennis caught me off-guard with its exceptional quality and sheer playability. The game employs a high angle camera which provides an optimal view of the action while sacrificing some visual detail. The A, B, and C buttons each deliver a different type of shot, with the lob (A button) coming in handy when your opponent charges the net. Unlike Virtua Tennis, you have to time your button press with your swing, so there's less room for error. If I can offer one piece of advice, it would be to never give up on a shot!
Even if you totally miss the ball the first time your swing, you can sometimes still chase it down! The oversized tennis ball is smoothly animated and becomes exceptionally large when hit high into the air. The players look good, but why do they wave their hands in the air when running from the net? Wimbledon doesn't have real players, which is probably its biggest downfall. One excellent feature is support for Sega's multi-tap, allowing four players to participate in two-on-two doubles. My friends and I gave it a try, and we couldn't get enough of it. The audio also shines with referees who yell the score, players who grunt, and an amazing resonating sound effect of the ball hitting your racket. Wimbledon's gameplay boasts a few features even Virtua Tennis
lacks. Not only can the ball be hit into the net, but it sometimes even bounces off the top of the net - just like real tennis! I also like the green, Keebler Elf-like girls who retrieve loose balls! The one annoyance is the way the ball can sometimes hit you in the groin - there are far too many of these "ball shots". This game flew well under my radar back in the day, but I'm making up for lost time. Wimbledon Championship Tennis is yet another top-notch sports title for the Genesis system. © Copyright 2009 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Dreamworks (1991)
If you're a shooter fan who pines for simpler times, Wings of Wor is a real treat. This side-scroller combines old-school simplicity with fast action and unexpected visual effects. You control a winged dude with tremendous firepower. Holding in the fire button unleashes a steady stream of bullets, and after snatching up a few power-ups you'll be spraying most of the screen. Collecting scrolls lets you perform special attacks such as lightning or magic arrows. The firepower is excessive, but it's necessary to repel the demon hordes that converge on you like heat-seeking missiles!
You'll fly through a cavern, an underwater shipwreck, an ornate temple, and a retro-futuristic factory. Stage five looks more like something you'd see under a microscope with its squishy membranes and floating cells. I love the diversity but the scenery looks somewhat grainy and indistinct. Wings of Wor surprised me with its special effects that include wavy underwater currents and an earthquake that rocks the screen. Everything in the world wants to kill you including gargoyles, floating knights, seagulls, squid, and even clouds with faces. The spiders in the first stage scared the living [expletive] out of me! The shooting action is rather conventional and some areas feel drawn out with repeating enemies and scenery. The bosses are surprisingly easy to defeat. The first is a huge locomotive with a face that consumes almost the entire screen. After such a dramatic entrance it's downright comical when you quickly dispatch him by shooting him point-blank in the face. Each stage has its own distinctive harmonized musical score. This game flew under many radars, but it's worth tracking down. With simple gameplay and frequent surprises, Wings of Wor is a little slice of 16-bit heaven. © Copyright 2011 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 371,980
Wolverine: Adamantium Rage
Publisher: Acclaim (1994)
How could a Marvel game dedicated to Wolverine turn out this bad? Its comic-cell intro and high octane music really get you psyched up. The first stage is set in the underground laboratory where Wolverine was originally created. But any pain Wolverine experienced during his transformation is nothing compared to what you - the player - are about to endure. Your first encounter is with a drone which can only defeated by a series of well-timed jump-kicks, and the controls are reprehensible! Wolverine can jump, kick, and punch, but the button mappings make zero sense and are not configurable. Wolverine has some pretty fancy moves like spin and lunge but you're more likely to perform them by accident
. Why am I getting my ass
kicked by these nerdy scientists?! How many slashes does it take?!
This reminds me of the lightsabers in the Star Wars games; one good slash really should
do the trick. Missing sound effects make it hard to tell when an enemy has been defeated. And it gets worse. Would you believe Wolverine can't walk up steps?
He has to hop up them instead, and can't even jump onto a ladder! On the other hand, stepping on fire and broken glass incurs no damage. The first robotic boss might not be so bad if I could keep Wolverine facing the correct direction. Hope you enjoyed that battle because you'll need to beat that robot multiple times
. The graphics aren't bad but they are repetitive. Stage two's snowy landscape is visually appealing but bringing down that massive helicopter is an exercise in futility. The single feature
I thought this game had going for it - a progress meter - turned out to be a timer!
My friend Brent didn't think this game could be that bad, but he was at a complete loss for words. Wolverine is beyond bad - this is straight-up incompetent. © Copyright 2019 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 60,800
Save mechanism: password
World Championship Soccer
Publisher: Sega (1989)
It's easy to believe this game came out in 1989, because it looks more like a Master System game than a Genesis title. The overhead view of the field makes the players look like black circles with shoulders. Your limited view of the action is supposedly compensated by a miniature "radar" field display on the right side of the screen. Even if you could
make sense out of all those moving dots (forget about it), using it effectively is nearly impossible. I liked performing the bicycle kicks, but maintaining control of the ball is impossible. The upbeat background music is pleasant enough, but the "goal!" voice sample sounds more like someone screaming in agony! World Championship Soccer hasn't aged well at all. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.
World Championship Soccer II
Publisher: Sega (1994)
It's hard to believe that it took Sega FIVE whole years to come out with a sequel to World Championship Soccer, but this time they did it right. The field is viewed from the side at a 45-degree angle, giving you a nice 3D perspective on the action. The short and stocky player sprites look funny, but they are nicely animated (especially the dives). The game is fast and fun, and the controls are simple and responsive. Although your view is limited, there always seems to be a teammate just off-screen ready to receive a pass. The gameplay is much deeper than its predecessor - there are now headers, penalty kicks, corner kicks, and penalty cards. You even get to see a replay of each goal. There are 32 teams and plenty of customization options. If there's one area where the game stumbles badly, it's in the sound department. The background music is fair, but the crowd sound effects are unbearable. The disjointed, incomprehensible "chants" sound like a poor radio reception. Sound is NOT the Genesis' strong suit, and Sega shouldn't have attempted to be so ambitious. Other than that, this soccer game is definitely worth checking out. It also provides multi-tap support. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.
World Series Baseball
Publisher: Sega (1994)
World Series Baseball set the high-water mark for realism in a baseball game, but in the process Sega sacrificed the arcade sensibility that made Sportstalk Baseball so popular. Unlike most baseball games of its time, World Series features all of the MLB players, teams, and stadiums. Playing modes include exhibition, batting practice, home run derby, and a battery backed-up season. The graphics are realistic but somewhat drab and indistinct. The stadiums are faithful to their real-life counterparts, including the scoreboards. The players all look pretty much the same. An innovative new "catcher's view" provides the hitter with a wide-open view of the strike zone, with the batter standing just off the edge of the screen. Unfortunately, the emphasis on realism takes its toll on the gameplay. The action isn't nearly as fast or smooth as SportsTalk, and there are too many lulls in the action. Two button presses are required to throw a pitch, and the batter must "aim" using a circular target. You're constantly waiting for the pitcher to get the ball back, and for some odd reason the scoreboard is displayed before every
batter. Unless you're a purist who thrives on the finer points of the game, World Series can be downright tedious. Throws tend to be inordinately high arcing, turning the most routine grounders into close plays at first base. The height of the baseball is represented by a huge shadow, which looks pretty cheesy. I still recall my friend Bobby commenting, "Look at the size of that shadow", causing me to second-guess my $60 investment. Fortunately, the game excels in its attention to detail. The SportsTalk announcer is back and he has a lot more to say. The scoreboard displays humorous animated cartoons in addition to the box score. Other neat little touches include fielders who toss the ball towards the mound after the third out. You can even hear vendors shouting "get 'yer hot dogs" in the stands. World Series Baseball certainly covered its bases in terms of getting the details right, but it took a step back in terms of gameplay. © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.
World Series Baseball 95
Publisher: Sega (1995)
This sequel isn't a huge improvement, but it is a step up. The main difference is the overhauled graphics, which appear far more vibrant and colorful that last year. You can see more of the batter in the box, and he looks practically digitized. I like how the ball now clanks off of the ball in a more realistic and satisfying manner. The fielding action is fun, but there are too many foul balls. A streamlined user interface means that the batter no longer has to "aim" his swing, thank goodness. New options include multiplayer leagues, the ability to draft and trade players, and teams of "all-time great" players. But the most notable new feature is the ability to "celebrate" during homerun trots. My friend Eric used to totally abuse this feature, cartwheeling all the way around the bases (which I must admit was pretty hilarious). The SportsTalk announcer was apparently canned and replaced with another guy who says next to nothing. A PA announcer introduces each batter, but he speaks too slowly ("Next up. For the Yankees...") A disjointed "water faucet" sound effect serves as the crowd noise. The pace of the game hasn't improved at all. You'll still need to wait for the pitcher to compose himself before each pitch, and the scoreboard is shown before each batter, which is irritating as all hell. In the final analysis, World Series 95 is just a modest upgrade. © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.
World Series Baseball 96
Publisher: Sega (1996)
Don't feel bad if you ever confuse this game with World Series 95, because it's an honest mistake. In fact, World Series 96 is practically identical
to World Series 95, save for updated rosters and schedules. That a shame, because there was plenty
of room for improvement, especially in the audio department. With no new features to tout, Sega was reduced to listing old
features on the back of the box! How pathetic is that? World Series Baseball 96 represents Sega at its very worst. Shameful! © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.
World Series Baseball 98
Publisher: Sega (1997)
Genesis baseball fans must have been experiencing a serious case of deja-vu in the late 90's, considering Sega pretty much released the same game three years in a row
! Sure, the statistics and rosters are updated, but who cares? Could Sega have possibly milked this series any more? I seriously doubt it. Actually, there is
one notable thing about this game. If you look at the title, you'll notice that Sega "skipped" a year in order to keep pace with other baseball games who had inexplicably begun naming their games after the next
year. It's a mad, mad world. © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.
World of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse & Donald Duck
Publisher: Sega (1992)
I'm a long-time fan of Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse
(Genesis, 1990), with its casual pacing, well-crafted scenes, and unexpected surprises. I was hoping World of Illusion would rekindle the same magic, but it never quite reaches the same heights. World of Illusion is still an enjoyable little romp however, and the two-player co-op mode is great concept that you rarely see in a platformer. The graphics are a slight letdown. As a sequel to Castle of Illusion, I was expecting the visuals to be bigger and bolder, but they're not. The characters appear slightly smaller, and the colors look washed out. The varied stage locations include a forest, volcanic mountains, library, and a sunken pirate ship. There's also a magic carpet ride with controls and sound effects that bring Joust to mind. On land, Mickey wields a magic blanket to defeat blue soldiers and wandering flames, and utilizes devices like teeter-totters to reach high places. The two-player mode incorporates additional stages that emphasize the teamwork aspect. These are slow and a bit tedious at times, but generally easy and fun. The stage designs are fairly predictable, save for a few clever touches like the spider that weaves his web as you walk across it. The kinder, gentler musical score is pure Disney, but the sound effects could use some work. I can tolerate the scratchy voice samples, but that tinny "thunder" sounds awful. A password feature is included, but the use of playing cards instead of letters makes it tough to record the code on paper. This might not be the best Mickey Mouse adventure you'll ever experience, but the reasonable difficulty and cooperative play make it worthwhile for gamers looking for something relaxing. © Copyright 2007 The Video Game Critic.
Find World of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse & Donald Duck on eBay
1 or 2 players
Publisher: Sega (1993)
This game is a disappointment. What should have been a cool fighter turns out to be just a tedious platform jumping game. Yes, there is fighting, but it's not too exciting. Punch a bad guy in the foot twice and he evaporates - great. Mainly you just find yourself flipping switches and jumping (and falling) from slippery ledges. You can control four X-Men, including Gambit, Cyclops, Wolverine, and Nightcrawler. Each has their own special powers, and in addition, you can call on Rogue, Archangel, Iceman, Storm, and Jean Gray for backup (they basically clear the screen for you). The characters look a bit pixelated, and their pictures on the menu screen are so poorly drawn that you can't even tell which one is which! The backgrounds, depicting futuristic worlds, are rather generic and dull. The sound is the worst, with bad music and annoying, cheesy sound effects (enemies "pop" when they die). Control is fair, except for Nightcrawler's teleport ability, which is very flakey and ineffective. One unique feature is the ability to switch characters at any time, but the difficulty is excessive, even on the easy level. There are plenty of cheap, unavoidable hits, and it's tough to get back life once you've lost it. There is a also two-player simultaneous mode that doesn't work too well. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.
X-Men 2: Clone Wars
Publisher: Sega (1995)
Although released four years after the first Genesis X-Men, this cartridge managed to atone for many of its predecessor's sins. First, the graphics are MUCH improved. The characters are larger, sharper, and more detailed. The music is menacing, and the sound effects are high quality. The stages are more interesting, including a snow stage in Siberia. Although there's still plenty of jumping, the platforms are larger and much more forgiving. Your special moves are no longer limited, allowing you to be more aggressive. You can choose between Wolverine, Cyclops, Gambit, Nightcrawler, Beast, Psylocke, and even the evil Magneto(?!). Unlike the first game, you cannot switch characters during a mission. X-Men 2 is a much better game, but it's still very difficult, and there aren't any checkpoints. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.
Young Indiana Jones
Publisher: Sega (1994)
Young Indiana Jones is a good-looking game that would be fun if it weren't impossible to play
. The controls are just deplorable, which is surprising considering this was released in 1994. The game takes you to all the exotic Indiana Jones locales including Egypt, India, Tibet, Germany, and England. You can even select the order in which you play the stages, which is always a nice feature. The graphics aren't bad either. Young Indiana looks almost digitized
in appearance, and when he uses his whip to climb, the animation is quite impressive. Colorful stage backdrops include the Pyramids of Egypt, snow-coved Hymalayan mountains, and London Bridge on a stormy night. Sadly, the gameplay is frustrating and repetitive. Although your whip moves with fluid motion in any direction, it inflicts minimal damage on sword-throwing thugs and other converging enemies. Since you can't squat down while using it, you're pretty much a sitting duck. You'll face the exact same goons over and over again, and shooting them with a gun provides your only relief. But the worst aspect of the game are the irritating small creatures like birds, snakes, scorpions, monkeys, and even fish
that hound you from all sides. Not only are they impossible to avoid, but targeting them is an exercise in futility! Egypt is a nightmare, because after stumbling through all sorts of tedious hazards, a big windstorm can come along and sweep you all the way back to the beginning! It makes you feel very helpless in a game that never really gives you a fighting chance to begin with. © Copyright 2008 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Electronic Arts (1990)
I like the concept behind Zany Golf: Try to conquer a nine-hole, contraption-laden miniature golf course without running out of strokes. There are ramps, drains, obstacles, and of course the obligatory windmills. But bouncing hamburgers? We've clearly entered zany territory! If only I could view these graphics without doing physical damage to my eyes! Zany Golf was ported from the Amiga, and apparently with much difficulty!
Everything looks so blurry! This game has more double vision than Foreigner
for Pete's sake! The hole overview screens are so muddy and indistinct, they appear to be knitted in wool!
And can somebody tell me why my golf ball has a red shadow? The controls are horrible. First you place a cursor over the ball, hold the A button, and then pull it back like you're shooting a rubber band. There's a dotted line connecting the cursor to the ball but it's hard to see. Even large obstacles are difficult to discern. Once I thought my ball was going to sink into a pool red paint but it bounced off of it
instead. What the [expletive] am I looking at?!
The animation is choppy and you can never predict what direction the ball will bounce. Having a fixed number of strokes adds challenge, but it feels pretty hopeless when you begin a complicated maze of a hole with only three strokes remaining. One hole actually incorporates a pinball table
, giving Zany Golf the dubious distinction of being both the worst golf game and worst pinball game!
The carnival-style music is unappealing but thankfully it can be shut it off. While you're at it, do yourself a favor and shut the whole damn thing off. Zany Golf may have been passable on the Amiga but on the Genesis it's just one big dumpster fire. Note: I had to use a Game Genie to get this to run on my Genesis. © Copyright 2018 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Technopop (1994)
As far a I know Zero Tolerance is the only first-person shooter for the Genesis. You are a space marine tasked to clear out alien life forms on an infested freighter. Since there is a crew of five, you essentially have five lives. Your first-person view is limited to the center third of the screen, but the smooth animation is on par with Doom (Sega 32X, 1994). Not bad!
You toggle between weapon icons that stretch across the top including shotguns, mines, and flamethrowers. The gray corridors all tend look the same, so thank goodness there's a handy map on the bottom. Certain rooms appear open to space on one side, but a force field prevents you from falling out. At first your enemies are human, and it's not uncommon to encounter a dozen in a large room. One effective (cheap?) strategy I found was to retreat to the nearby doorway and pick them off one by one. Eventually you'll encounter more exotic life forms including the obligatory face-grabbers. When things gets hectic the framerate slows, making it harder to aim. Fortunately the hit detection is super forgiving so if you're aimed in the right general direction, your target erupts into a fountain of chunky blood. Once you start taking hits however you'll get tossed around in a really disorienting manner. A counter indicates how many enemies remain on the current floor, and female voice keeps you apprised on your status ("Floor secured. Proceed to the next level.") I like how dead bodies remain when you return to a old room. The cheesy music that plays on the elevator is hilarious, but why does the elevator return me to floors I already cleared? A password is provided but the game has no score. A simple looping beat plays throughout and it got on my nerves after a while. Zero Tolerance was an impressive technical feat in 1994, but it might be hard to find a good excuse to play it now. © Copyright 2016 The Video Game Critic.
Save mechanism: password
Zero Wing (Europe)
Publisher: Toaplan (1991)
A cultural icon of sorts, Zero Wing is one game in my collection I love to show off. Its poorly-translated intro is the stuff of legend, with precious lines like "Somebody set us up the bomb", "Make your time", and "All your base are belong to us". I never get tired of watching that. Although designed to run on the European Megadrive, this cartridge works fine on my Genesis. The game itself is a side-scrolling shooter that probably doesn't get enough credit. The scenery is your typical space station fare and there are some cheesy bosses including one that resembles a clown face. There are some odd enemies including one I refer to as "nervous robot pants". The best part of Zero Wing is its weapons. Two side cannons provide shielding and additional firepower, allowing you to unleash a wide barrage of missiles. I like how these cannons squeeze together as you navigate narrow passages. Three types of weapons are available, each powered up to three levels. The green homing missiles are most effective, and it's fun to watch these small, slow-moving projectiles consume their targets. Once they're equipped you'll go to great lengths avoid the red (wide) and blue (laser) icons. I tend to avoid the speed icons because advanced stages require you to squeeze through some narrow passages. One novel feature of Zero Wing is the ability to grab an enemy ship and hold it in front of you as a shield. Just don't grab anything too large or it will drag you down! The game also features a toe-tapping musical score with that trademark Genesis twang. I always regarded Zero Wing as a novelty first and foremost, but I'm beginning to realize this is a better-than-average shooter. © Copyright 2017 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 380,700
Zero the Kamikaze Squirrel
Publisher: Sunsoft (1994)
Zero is one in a long line of furry creatures starring in formulaic platform games for the Genesis. He originally appeared as the villain in Aero the Acrobat (Genesis, 1993), and his unbridled popularity demanded
a spin-off. Not really. Zero the Kamikaze Squirrel's opening stage boasts an attractive beach with detailed palm trees and a colorful sunset. Our hero has the ability to karate chop enemies, but most of the time he has an ample supply of throwing stars to toss at crabs, robots, electric eels, and floating cameras?
As you ride in hot air balloons and leap between clouds you'll collect bonus items like apples and ice cream cones. It's moderately fun to play for score, especially with the generous bonuses you rack up between stages. What hurts the game is its overloaded control scheme. The B and C buttons have multiple functions, which is confusing. One original feature in the "super dive", and the manual clearly illustrates how to perform this in six easy steps!
The move is an integral part of the game but painfully difficult to perform. Most of the time you'll slam right into a wall. I also noticed that some stages seemed designed
to keep the fun to a minimum
. The "cliff zone" for example features multiple bosses (c'mon), a reticule that randomly targets you (gah!), and slime-covered ledges that will have you slipping all over the place (just stop
it!). Later stages are a mixed bag, ranging from a fast jet-ski sequence to a tedious factory stage. What keeps the game afloat is its forgiving nature. You'll earn a ton of free lives, but when you don't even want
them, that indicates a problem. Zero the Kamikaze Squirrel is a by-the-numbers effort, and its one truly original feature falls flat. © Copyright 2013 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 182,650
Zombies Ate My Neighbors
Publisher: Konami (1993)
Your enjoyment of this game will largely depend on if you've played the SNES version (which was released first). If you haven't
, then Zombies Ate My Neighbors is an engaging, light-hearted romp with a Halloween theme. Its 55 stages of overhead shooting mayhem will take you into zombie-ravaged neighborhoods, hedge mazes terrorized by chainsaw maniacs, and beaches crawling with Creature From The Black Lagoon clones. One or two players can battle these evil minions by tossing everyday objects like tomatoes, plates, pop-sickles, and footballs. The whimsical soundtrack perfectly complements the action, and an easy-to-read password is provided after every few stages. Zombies Ate My Neighbors is a good game, but if you cut your teeth on the SNES version, you're bound to be disappointed. First off, the right side of the screen is reserved for scoring and the radar display, forcing the main play area to be somewhat squished. The graphics don't look nearly as sharp as the SNES, and the certain visual effects are missing altogether. For example, monsters don't turn blue when you freeze them with a fire extinguisher. But the audio is the biggest letdown. The music is muted and some sounds have been reduced to simple beeps. The bass-heavy effects that rocked the SNES just sound harsh
. My friend Scott remarked, "it gets more and more disappointing with each sound effect!" The only way this edition improves upon the original is the red blood that drips down the "game over" screen, as opposed to that cheesy purple goo of the SNES edition. © Copyright 2010 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 41,150
Save mechanism: Password
1 or 2 players
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