system Index A-E
Alien Vs. Predator
Grade: A-
Publisher: Atari (1994)
Reviewed: 2000/10/18

screenshotThis ambitious first-person shooter is one of the best games for the Jaguar system. Some people say it's the only good game for the system. You can play as a Marine, Alien, or Predator in three separate scenarios. Each plays like a different game. My favorite is the Marine scenario, despite the fact that it's the least original, playing much like a typical Doom clone.

A cool heads-up display (HUD) displays weapons, ammo, energy, and a motion tracker. The well-designed control scheme uses the keypad to switch weapons and bring up an overhead map, which you can keep on the screen as you move. The map is useful because the levels are easy to get lost in.

The graphics are outstanding. Most objects look digitized, although they do get slightly pixelated up close. The aliens look MUCH better than the ones in Alien Trilogy (Playstation, 1996). The rooms and corridors are nicely detailed and reflect the look of the movies. A major flaw is the frame rate: it's pretty choppy and just barely acceptable at times. Still, the atmosphere can get pretty intense, with incredible sound effects taken straight from the films.

The Marine mission is very straightforward: you need to set the ship's self-destruct mechanism and escape. It's fun because you encounter both Aliens and Predators. Unfortunately, blasted Aliens leave huge acid puddles that hurt you and are difficult to avoid. In the Alien scenario, you must rescue the alien queen from the Predators. Your attacks include a claw, tail whip, and extended jaw.

Your alien moves fast, and it's sometimes hard to keep your victim in front of you. And since the main controller buttons are used for attacks, you need to use the keypad to strafe, which is awkward. On the positive side, you can cocoon people and create new aliens, which act as extra lives. Unfortunately, your new alien is often hatched far back from where you died, so you'll have to retrace your steps, which can be tedious.

In the Predator scenario your mission is to kill the alien queen. You can turn invisible, but you lose points if you attack in this state. Points allow you to earn special weapons like a combi-stick, smart disk, or shoulder cannon. When you're invisible, your view changes colors (like the Predator movie), but the color scheme is hard on the eyes. You can save your progress at any time to one of three slots on the cartridge. Overall this is a must-have game for Jaguar owners. It's flawed but fun, and provides loads of replay value. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.

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1 player 

If you like this game, try: Alien Trilogy (Playstation)
Doom (Saturn)
Space Spartans (Intellivision)
Alien Syndrome (Sega Master System)
Alien Syndrome (NES)

Ants (CD)
Grade: F
Publisher: Wave 1 Games (2018)
Reviewed: 2019/3/13

screenshotWhen I first saw the name Ants I was bracing myself for some sort of tedious strategy title. Instead you just move a digitized hand around the screen, squishing ants with your fingertip. That's it! I've seen load screens with more depth! Four stages offer static digitized scenes of a table, picnic blanket, stove, and pool table. In contrast to the lifelike scenery, the meandering ants look like pixelated sprites.

A shadow below your finger gives you a target, but the controls are not good. Your movement is choppy and the collision detection is a mess. Worse yet, playing this game hurt my hand. Squishing ants isn't very satisfying. You just get one point for each "squish", or as the ants call it "murder". When bugs are overlapping the game goes into a brief rapid-fire automated squish mode; there really should be some kind of multiplier when that happens.

Otherwise this game is so bland. You need to avoid the occasional bee or mosquito which wears down your health. You can also incur damage by squishing red ants, ants on fire, and stink bugs. Sometimes it's hard to find a single "safe" ant to go after! High scores unlock novelty modes like finger gun, big bugs, and 5x speed. None of those improve upon the weak gameplay of Ants. A strategy game is sounding pretty good right about now. © Copyright 2019 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 88
1 player 

If you like this game, try: Squish-Em Sam (Colecovision)
Super Bee (Europe) (Odyssey 2)
King of Fighters 98 (CD) (Neo Geo)
Side Pocket (Game Gear)
King of Fighters 95 (CD) (Neo Geo)

Atari Karts
Grade: D
Publisher: Atari (1995)
Reviewed: 2002/11/8

screenshotAtari Karts is a tough game to find, and I ended up ordering it from some crazy foreign country. I was hoping it would be the arcade-style racer the Jaguar needed so badly, but I was disappointed. The game's main strength lies in its graphics. With its colorful, high-resolution graphics and softly undulating tracks, it looks even better than Super Mario Kart (SNES, 1992). The ice stages are beautiful, and waves softly rise and fall on the shores of the island stages.

Unfortunately, the gameplay is nowhere near Mario standards. The racers are a cast of unknowns including a skeleton and an octopus. I did recognize the teddy bear from Crystal Castles, but he'll never win a popularity contest. The carts have fat, wide wheels that look pretty cool but make it frustratingly difficult to pass. The first time I played Atari Karts, it dawned on me that I had to complete all of the starter tracks before accessing the challenging ones. That sounds reasonable until you realize just how many of these snore-a-thons you'll need to sit through!

Another problem is the unimaginative and ineffective power-ups. The "rabbit" is supposed to give a speed boost, but it's barely even noticeable. There's no way to "attack" your opponents directly, but you can use "turtle" power-ups to muck with your opponents' steering controls! Talk about unfair! It's hard to avoid getting stuck on the edge of the track as it is!

The split screen mode is smooth in terms of frame rate, but the fact that you can't have extra computer-controlled racers makes the contests less exciting than they could be. The quality of the music ranges from fair to annoying. Wow, Atari was so incompetent that they wouldn't even rip-off a game without screwing up! © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 

If you like this game, try: Mario Kart 64 (Nintendo 64)
Crash Team Racing (Playstation)
Super Mario Kart (Super Nintendo)
Hot Wheels: All Out (Game Boy Advance)
California Speed (Nintendo 64)

Attack of the Mutant Penguins
Grade: F
Publisher: Atari (1995)
Reviewed: 2008/10/5

screenshotAttack of the Mutant Penguins tries to be a wacky platform game with strategic undertones, but it's just a colossal waste of time. This strikes me as the kind of game designed by a bunch of tie-wearing executives in a stuffy boardroom. Mutant Penguins is little more than a hodgepodge of derivative ideas that don't amount to anything at all. You control some freaky looking alien trying to eliminate an army of mutant penguins.

Each 2D stage consists of floating walkways in space, not unlike Toejam and Earl (Genesis, 1991). You begin by collecting little gremlins used to open chests and access special items. Once you obtain a weapon (like a frying pan), you proceed to bash the hell out of the penguins before they can tip a giant scale. As if the idea of mutant penguins isn't wacky enough, they are also decked out in cute cowboy and indian outfits. They don't fight back, but they can take a lot of abuse before bursting into gory displays of intestines and eyeballs.

This game makes absolutely no sense, and it's annoying to boot! The action is slow and confusing, and even special weapons like dynamite and guns fail to add any excitement. There are some nifty stereo sound effects (on the character selection screen) and some decent tunes reminiscent of Zombies Ate My Neighbors (SNES, 1993), but otherwise you can chalk this one up as a total loss. © Copyright 2008 The Video Game Critic.

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Our high score: 414000
1 player 

If you like this game, try: Monster Madness: Battle for Suburbia (Xbox 360)
ToeJam and Earl III (Xbox)
Ghoul Patrol (Super Nintendo)
Zombies Ate My Neighbors (Super Nintendo)
Toejam and Earl (Genesis)

Baldies (CD)
Grade: D-
Publisher: Atari (1995)
Reviewed: 2007/10/3
Rating: Kids to adults (animated violence, animated blood)

screenshotDespite my penchant for arcade action, I've always had a fondness for real-time strategy (RTS) titles, believe it or not. Years ago I logged many hours playing Warcraft and Starcraft on my PC. Baldies is a kindler, gentler RTS starring a tribe of cuddly bald characters. By managing the occupations of your "baldies" (workers, builders, soldiers, scientists) you construct factories, invent weapons, and reproduce to populate your little world.

The object is to wipe out enemies on the far side of the map, although this is never explained in the instructions (once again Atari drops the ball). The interface consists of a cursor and toolbars, with a keypad overlay providing convenient shortcuts. You can pick up individual Baldies to move them around, but directing them to locations with the cursor is problematic because they have difficulty navigating around obstacles. This game has a major learning curve, but since the action unfolds at a snail's pace, there's plenty of time to figure out what's going on.

Not only is it time consuming to develop your tribe, but it's boring too. I completed the first few stages of Baldies for the sake of this review, but I'm not convinced it was worth my time. There are dozens of stages in the game, but you only unlock one at a time. Advanced levels promise harsher environments, vehicles, and sophisticated traps, but the amount of work required to see all the good stuff would be painstaking. You'd really have to fall in love with this game to see all it has to offer, but there's no chance of that happening. © Copyright 2007 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 

If you like this game, try: Warcraft II (Playstation)
Syndicate (Jaguar)
Basic Programming (Atari 2600)
Dam Busters (Colecovision)
Advance Wars (Game Boy Advance)

Barkley: Shut Up and Jam
Grade: D-
Publisher: Accolade (1995)
Reviewed: 2017/2/5

screenshotIt always sucked when celebrity athletes like Michael Jordan and Shaq would sign exclusive contracts with game companies. It effectively excluded them from the best basketball games of their time, instead relegating their presence to novelty items like Barkley: Shut Up and Jam. This game was never officially released for the Jaguar but it appears to be complete.

I never cared for Barkley Shut Up and Jam (Genesis, 1994) so my expectations were low. It took a few days just to figure out how to play a game, because configuring it for human players is remarkably counter-intuitive. The player selection screen is a joke. Who are these dorky people - the programmers? One guy looks like he's from Duck Dynasty and one of the girls looks like Demi Moore. Is that a pregnant woman?! And why did they bother to include that fat middle-aged slob? Oh wait - that's Charles Barkley!

After selecting your players you're then subjected to a 40-second load screen. There's a basketball pong game to help you pass the time, which seems like a pretty neat feature until you remember you're playing a damn cartridge! Apparently the publisher was cheap with the memory chips, forcing the programmers to compress the game contents. There are eight digitized court locations including the Seattle skyline, a Miami beach, and the Brooklyn harbor at night. I have to admit these do add atmosphere. Sadly, the Phoenix location is just a generic basketball arena with static, cardboard cut-out spectators.

The graphics are pretty sharp but that just accentuates how muddy and pixelated the player sprites really are. As you might expect the gameplay is just plain shoddy. Rough animation makes it hard to tell if the ball even passed through the net! The controls are so slippery and imprecise there's really no need for a "juice" button.

Shut Up and Jam is embarrassing to watch. It's not uncommon to have the ball stolen from you just as you're coming down for a slam. On the other end of the court some little girl scores on you by shooting the ball between her legs. The game does support the 4-player tap so there's that. Also, Shut Up and Jam manages to compare favorably to its legendarily bad counterpart White Men Can't Jump (Atari, 1995). © Copyright 2017 The Video Game Critic.

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1 to 4 players 

If you like this game, try: Barkley Shut Up and Jam (Genesis)
White Men Can't Jump (Jaguar)
NBA Jam Tournament Edition (Jaguar)
Jordan vs. Bird: One on One (NES)
NBA Hang Time (Super Nintendo)

Battlemorph (CD)
Grade: B
Publisher: Atari (1995)
Reviewed: 2001/1/4

screenshotBattlemorph is the sequel to Cybermorph, and it surpasses the original game in every way. The framerate is much smoother, the graphics are more detailed, and the sound effects are less annoying. The missions are varied and interesting, and you can choose which order you'll play them. There are even hints given during each mission to help keep you on track.

The futuristic music is outstanding, and your "talking head" guide only speaks when she has something to say. Before each mission you can outfit your ship's weapons. You fly over various planet surfaces, and each has its own distinctive look. The scenery and enemies look much less blocky than the ones in Cybermorph. And you are not limited to the planet surface; there are tunnels, hidden rooms, and underwater(!) areas to be explored.

Although the graphics have been cleaned up, pop-up is still a big problem, and it can be disconcerting at times. Control is fair, but navigating tight quarters is difficult due to the awkward camera angles. Still, Battlemorph delivers solid 3D shooting action. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 

If you like this game, try: Mansion of Hidden Souls (Sega CD)
Crossbow (Atari 7800)
Rescue on Fractalus (Atari 5200)
Space Ranger (Philips CD-i)
Hover Strike (CD) (Jaguar)

Blue Lightning (CD)
Grade: D-
Publisher: Atari (1995)
Reviewed: 2000/10/18

screenshotBelieve it or not, this was the "pack in" game for the Jaguar CD. It's not a good first impression. Blue Lightning not only suffers from major technical flaws, but it's not much fun and has no business being a CD. The graphics aren't too bad, but the framerate suffers as the action heats up. The clouds in the air missions look terribly fake. Gameplay is similar to Afterburner; you view your plane from behind.

There are both air and ground missions. Although you are given specific instructions before each mission, your real goal is to make it through the level without flying into a building. That's not easy! Your planes are equipped with machine guns, missiles, and special weapons like cluster bombs. The machine guns are surprisingly effective against ground targets, but are tough to aim at aircraft. Using the missiles is a no brainer - just fire them when a "lock-on" square appears on a target.

The bombs are hard to judge, but create some cool looking explosions. Your best evasive maneuver is the barrel roll, but the graphic representation of this is heinous. Instead of just spinning your plane, the entire screen rotates in a slow, choppy manner that looks ridiculous and slows the action. So why is this game on a CD? The in-game graphics are certainly not CD-worthy. There are a few boring full motion video clips, but you'll skip through these after the first viewing. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 

If you like this game, try: Mission X (Intellivision)
Airforce Delta (Dreamcast)
Afterburner II (Genesis)
Afterburner (Sega Master System)
After Burner: Black Falcon (PSP)

Brain Dead 13 (CD)
Grade: D
Publisher: Readysoft (1995)
Reviewed: 2008/10/5

screenshotHere's a full-motion video (FMV) game much like Dragon's Lair (arcade, 1983), which lets you interact with an animated cartoon (well, sort of). You affect the course of events by entering simple commands at specific times. Readysoft was the company responsible for these games, and Brain Dead 13 illustrates just how clueless they were. Granted, FMV games were largely novelty items, but if done well (like Dragon's Lair) they can still be very entertaining.

Brain Dead 13 is extremely poorly designed. The premise of the story isn't bad, featuring a teenage boy trapped in a haunted house with monsters coming out of the woodwork. There's the potential for thrills, but the cartoonish visuals practically eliminate the scare factor. That goofy dragon in the kitchen area may as well be Barney the purple dinosaur! Each room offers a new challenge, and you'll have to contend with everything from witches to giant centipedes to bear-rugs that come to life. You'll need to perform several moves in rapid succession to escape each room, and the game offers no clues about how to react.

Instead of logical puzzles, Brain Dead 13 is almost exclusively an exercise in trial and error. In one bedroom scene, you actually have to run towards a ghost with a sword, which makes absolutely no sense. Brain Dead 13 does offer the ability to select multiple paths, which sounds like a good idea until you find yourself moving in circles! The full-screen graphics are fairly pixelated but not too bad for a Jaguar title. The audio is not as clear as you'd hope for a CD title. I like the Halloween theme, but only die-hard FMV fans will appreciate this poorly conceived title. © Copyright 2008 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 

If you like this game, try: Space Ace (CD) (Jaguar)
Brain Dead 13 (Playstation)
Dragon's Lair (3DO)
Dragon's Lair (Sega CD)
Dragon's Lair (CD) (Jaguar)

Breakout 2000
Grade: C
Publisher: Telegames (1996)
Reviewed: 2017/6/4

screenshotFar more than a shallow 3D makeover, Breakout 2000 brings the universal joy of smashing bricks to a whole new millennium! It transforms the simple formula of Breakout (Atari 2600, 1977) into a mind-bending, high-tech affair. The action takes place in a space station where you deflect one or more metal balls against layers of bricks laid out ahead of you. Moving the deflector "paddle" with the directional pad is a little clumsy; it's a shame there's no analog support.

What makes the game fascinating is its two-player head-to-head action. Player two's wall runs along the top of the screen, with both walls curling around into each other at the far end! So when you break through your wall, your ball rolls around into your opponent's side! Trippy! This awards you with increased scoring in addition to giving your opponent another ball to deal with. Playing the game from the upside-down player-two vantage point made me feel a little nauseous at first. It's kind of like playing the game while standing on your head. Adding spice are space ships that periodically fly through the center of the screen, either firing missiles or dispensing power-ups.

I enjoyed the industrial graphics of Breakout 2000 but the animation is marred by slowdown - even when there's not a heck of a lot going on. The scoring system is also suspect, due to the fact you can actually lose points. This leads to lopsided final scores (4877-17) that don't accurately reflect what happened during the game. The "wa wa wa" sound effects are so lame it's almost comical, and the game locked up on me once. There are definitely issues here, but I still love the sheer originality. Breakout 2000 takes a long lost video game concept and literally turns it on its head. . © Copyright 2017 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: SDZ 8287
1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: Break 'Em All (Nintendo DS)
Off The Wall (Atari 2600)
Breakout (Playstation)
Fireball (Atari 2600)
Super Breakout (Atari XEGS)

Brutal Sports Football
Grade: B-
Publisher: Telegames (1994)
Reviewed: 2006/10/10

screenshotOffering a potent combination of full-contact sports and gratuitous violence, Brutal Sports Football appeals to the Neanderthal in us all. This has more in common with rugby than football, as two squads of barbarians attempt to get the ball into their goal by any means necessary. Normally this means diving on the guy with the ball, but occasionally you can disable (or dismember) your opponent with weapons like axes and swords.

The graphics aren't bad at all. The players are large, and the stadium is finely detailed. My friends enjoyed this game, although they complained mightily about sore thumbs afterwards. With its interesting concept and sharp graphics, Brutal Sports Football should have been a winner, but it's flawed. First and foremost, the animation is rough and the framerate is uneven. When the action becomes hectic the screen degenerates into a choppy mess. Not only does this undermine the gory animations, but it makes it hard to determine where the ball is.

Your view of the field is so limited that you rarely see whom you're passing to, and since the ball doesn't travel any faster through the air, what's the point? There's a selection of teams to choose from, but they all look and behave pretty much the same. Brutal Sports Football shows flashes of brilliance, with hard-hitting tackles and non-stop mayhem. The auto-switching feature works well, and a password allows you to facilitate a "league" mode. But without a solid engine running things under the covers, this one can't quite close the deal. . © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.

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1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: Joe Montana Football (Genesis)
NFL '95 (Genesis)
Football (Atari 2600)
Football Frenzy (Neo Geo)
Mutant League Football (Genesis)

Grade: D
Publisher: Atari (1994)
Reviewed: 2002/2/20

screenshotI remember when Bubsy the cat made his debut on the Genesis in the early 90s. He was billed as the next Sonic the Hedgehog. But there was a problem: Bubsy just wasn't cool. Not only does he look like a total dork, but his irritating digitized voice makes him ever MORE unlikable. This game does have some nice graphics and imaginative background graphics I have to admit. Each level is based on a fairy tale like Alice in Wonderland or Jack and the Beanstalk. The gameplay is less inspired however, with the typical "jump on enemy while collecting objects" action. Bubsy can also glide, but it really doesn't add much to the gameplay. Control isn't bad, but it's difficult to tell what you can or can't touch without getting killed. And unlike Sonic, a single hit will do you in. I wasn't crazy about Bubsy. It's not very fun at all. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.
1 player 

If you like this game, try: Bubsy: Claws Encounters of the Furred Kind (Genesis)
Sonic Mega Collection Plus (Playstation 2)
Sonic Jam (Saturn)
Jack Sprite vs. the Crimson Ghost (Philips CD-i)
Ecco The Dolphin (Sega CD)

Cannon Fodder
Grade: B+
Publisher: Virgin (1993)
Reviewed: 2001/1/4

screenshotThis is an original and amusing little war game. It looks a bit like Warcraft, with tiny characters on a large landscape. But the game has an arcade flavor, with plenty of machine gun firing and blowing things up. Actually Cannon Fodder doesn't fit into any category. You control a four-man battalion on a series of missions, usually to kill all enemy troops and/or destroy buildings. When you aim the crosshairs and push the move button, all of your soldiers move to that spot. You can also use the crosshairs to aim their machine gun fire, even while they're moving.

This system works very well. The little soldiers look cartoonish and have large heads. When you shoot enemy troops, they scream as their little bodies splash with blood - very satisfying! You lose men as your mission progresses, but as long as you have one, you're still in business. Although the main controls are simple, accessing special weapons and supplies is confusing. You'll struggle with it and the instructions don't help at all.

The landscapes are colorful and nicely detailed, and range from jungles, to deserts, to Arctic wastelands. The sound effects are great, and so is the theme song, a soothing, funky number in no way appropriate for this game. Cannon Fodder is a nice change of pace. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.

1 players 

If you like this game, try: Battalion Wars (GameCube)
Iron Soldier (Jaguar)
Army Men Air Attack (Playstation)
Rescue Mission (Sega Master System)
Command and Conquer (Nintendo 64)

Checkered Flag
Grade: F
Publisher: Atari (1994)
Reviewed: 2011/12/15

screenshotEven the most ardent Jaguar defenders tend to distance themselves from this atrocity. Checkered Flag tries to be a polygon racing game in the tradition of Virtua Racer, but it fails in every regard. You get ten tracks ranging from "Deep Forest" to "Arctic Run", but the layouts are boring. The roads are totally flat and besides a few angular mountains and trees, there's little in the way of scenery. Heck, even the Sunset Strip track is little more than a winding road through a desert canyon. There are pitstop areas but absolutely nothing happens if you pull into one.

I might be able to look past the lousy graphics if the gameplay was respectable, but it's a total catastrophe! You can race up to five opponents, but the frame-rate is a herky-jerky mess. I could understand the system struggling with a split-screen, but this is a one-player game for Pete's sake! The steering controls are the worst I've ever seen. Oversteering is the order of the day, and it's all but impossible to remain in the center of the road.

The tournament mode forces you to endure ten laps per track, and it's an ordeal I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy. The music is forgettable and the sound effect used for a crash sounds like someone sweeping a broom. If you're expecting Virtua Racer, Checkered Flag is nothing less than a crushing disappointment. You only need to play this for a minute to realize Atari had no semblance of quality control. © Copyright 2011 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 

If you like this game, try: Flag Capture (Atari 2600)
Enduro Racer (Sega Master System)
Checkered Flag (Lynx)
World Tour Racing (CD) (Jaguar)
Virtua Racing (Saturn)

Club Drive
Grade: F
Publisher: Atari (1994)
Reviewed: 2001/4/7

screenshotI thought this was a golf game! I should be so lucky. This driving game is further evidence that the Jaguar wasn't exactly a polygon game powerhouse. Club Drive lets you drive a little polygon car around four chunky environments including San Francisco, a western town, a futuristic city, and a house. The blocky graphics are crude, to put it nicely. The "cat" in the house stage looks like a box with ears (why did they even bother?).

There's not much in the way of scenery. Except for San Francisco, it doesn't appear that the designers put ANY effort into the tracks at all! Another major problem is that you can't get a decent camera view. The only views available are first-person view and the behind-your-car view. There's no high camera to help you get some perspective on things. There are three modes of play: racing, collecting the dots and tag. The one-player racing offers NO computerized opponents. Can you believe it? Who are you supposed to race? I prefer to call this mode "driving around".

The collect-the-dots mode is pure crap. So how's the two-player split screen mode? FORGET IT! The horrendous framerate and poor control are torture to endure. And speaking of torture, I should also mention something about the "music". Where did they get that god-awful, vomit-inducing noise? From a circus? You can select several tunes, and each one is just as bad as the next. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.

1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: F1 Challenge (Saturn)
Daytona USA (Dreamcast)
World Tour Racing (CD) (Jaguar)
Rally Challenge 2000 (Nintendo 64)
Bill Walsh College Football (Sega CD)

Grade: D
Publisher: Atari (1993)
Reviewed: 2000/10/18

screenshotThis was the pack-in game for the Jaguar, and I wasn't too impressed with it. You pilot a ship over the surfaces of several planets, collecting pods and weapons while shooting enemy aircraft and ground installations. The graphics are 3D polygons, but there's not much to see. The terrain is mainly flat with an occasional mountain. All of the objects have a low polygon count, making them look simple and blocky. I could have overlooked the graphics if the gameplay was exciting, but it's not. The controls are too touchy, making it difficult to turn with any precision. The frame rate is poor and the action gets very choppy. A bald lady in the corner of the screen is supposed to provide guidance, but she is unhelpful and tends to repeat the same phrases over and over. On a positive note, there are plenty of cool weapons you can collect and switch between. You can select the order in which you play the stages, and the music is great. It's not a terrible game, but it hasn't aged well. . © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 28800
1 player 

If you like this game, try: B-17 Bomber (Intellivision)
Hover Strike (CD) (Jaguar)
I-War (Jaguar)
Zaxxon Motherbase 2000 (Sega 32X)
Club Drive (Jaguar)

Defender 2000
Grade: C+
Publisher: Atari (1995)
Reviewed: 2000/11/19

screenshotAtari tried to do for Defender what they did for Tempest, but the results are uneven. There are three versions of the game on this cartridge: original, plus, and 2000. The first version is a nice surprise. It looks like the arcade, but actually plays better! The graphics are smoother, the control is more responsive, and the explosions are better. It's also easier than the arcade and more fun overall. Things go downhill from here though. The second version adds some wild psychedelic graphics, as well as some unwanted features including "helper ships" and warp gates. Your ship is too big, making it easy to bump into things. The third version, Defender 2000, looks great but plays horribly. The scenery looks realistic, and the people even scream with digitized voices. But now the screen scrolls up and down, and your ship is huge! It moves way too fast and you can't slow down without turning around. It's a mess. At least the original Defender sound effects were incorporated into the pumping techno soundtrack. Overall, Defender 2000 takes one step forward and two steps back. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.
Recommended variation: 2000
Our high score: 39632
1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: Skiing (Atari 2600)
Ocean City Defender (Atari 2600)
Tempest 2000 (Jaguar)
Defender II (NES)
Tempest X3 (Playstation)

Grade: C
Publisher: Atari (1994)
Reviewed: 2011/12/15

screenshotIf I was overly critical in my original review of this game, it was due to my perception of Doom as being a very basic first-person shooter. I failed to realize that Doom was actually quite demanding for the consoles of its time. After playing several versions of the game I have finally calibrated my expectations properly. This is a respectable port. At the very least you have to give this version credit for making use of the entire screen, as opposed to other versions (3DO, 32X) which crop the display with an ugly border.

Despite some modest slow-down the frame-rate remains decent throughout (unlike the 3DO edition). The game only supports the three-button controller, so you'll need to use the C button to strafe. It's not optimal but the game is certainly playable once you get the hang of it. If you've played other versions of Doom you'll immediately notice the lack of music. While some may consider it superfluous, I always felt that the moody soundtrack added to the intensity.

The sound effects also come across as a little flat compared to other versions. One advantage the Jaguar edition has over the others is its two-player modes (coop and death match). They require you to hook two Jaguars together (a pretty rare occurrence) but from what I hear it actually works pretty well. There are better versions of Doom out there, but this one certainly gets the job done. © Copyright 2011 The Video Game Critic.

1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: Doom (Sega 32X)
Doom (Saturn)
Doom (3DO)
Quake (Nintendo 64)
Doom 64 (Nintendo 64)

Dragon's Lair (CD)
Grade: B-
Publisher: ReadySoft (1995)
Reviewed: 2000/10/18

screenshotI remember when this laserdisc-based game hit the arcades in the early 80's. An extra monitor was hung over the cabinet so people could gawk at the wonderful cartoon graphics. The premise was that Dirk the Daring had to save the fair princess from an evil dragon. Making his way through a castle, he had to avoid traps and battle monsters. I couldn't take my eyes off Don Bluth's amazing animation. Each room held a different surprise.

Unfortunately, the gameplay never lived up to the graphics. The joystick and sword button affected the action, but you never really felt in control. This version of Dragon's Lair is the best I've seen for a console. The graphics, which are easily the best aspect of the game, fill the entire TV screen and are only slightly pixelated. Even if you don't like the gameplay, you have to appreciate the entertaining full motion video. The cinematic sound is also excellent.

Control is relatively good - by Dragon's Lair standards. Whenever you make a move an audible tone lets you know if you've made a correct or incorrect choice. Granted, you'll have to discover most of the correct moves through trial and error. The worst thing about this game is that it's completely linear; the rooms always appear in the same order. A little randomization would have gone a long way to enhance the replay value. As it is, you'll probably not want to play it for a long time after you finish it. . © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 

If you like this game, try: Dragon's Lair (3DO)
Dragon's Lair (Philips CD-i)
Space Ace (CD) (Jaguar)
Dragon's Lair (NES)
Venture II The Abysmal Abyss (Atari 2600)

Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story
Grade: F
Publisher: Atari (1994)
Reviewed: 2006/12/1

screenshotMuch like a punch to the groin from Bruce Lee himself, this game is unbearable. Imagine a one-on-one fighter with a single character to choose from! Dragon's clean, semi-cartoonish visuals are clearly inspired by Street Fighter 2, but far less interesting and totally static. The bland locations include a dance hall, kitchen, alley, and gym.

Dragon may be the most unplayable fighting game ever produced. There are plenty of moves, but the control scheme is incomprehensible. First off, I don't remember Bruce having a "bitch slap" move. The "option" button is supposed to toggle between fast and hard punches, but it doesn't appear to have any effect. Different fighting "modes" are available should you build up enough "Chi", but even playing on the "cupcake" skill level, I could never attain nearly enough.

The fighting action is horrid, with too many evasive maneuvers that have the fighters kart-wheeling and flipping over each other. Even worse are the weak attacks that just barely chip away at your opponent's life meter. The rounds go on for an eternity, and the default number of rounds is - get this - best of nine! The story mode takes you through scenes from the film, but if you want to battle a friend, both of you are forced to play as Bruce Lee. Dragon is such a sham that it inspired my friend Scott to coin the phrase, "Life's too short for Jaguar fighting games." © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.

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1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: Slap Shot: Super Pro Hockey (Intellivision)
Bruce Lee (Commodore 64)
Super Street Fighter 2 (Super Nintendo)
Street Fighter Collection 2 (Playstation)
Super Punch Out!! (Super Nintendo)

Evolution: Dino Dudes
Grade: F
Publisher: Atari (1993)
Reviewed: 2008/10/5

screenshotDino Dudes is a tedious puzzle game disguised as an action-oriented platform title. Its slow, deliberate gameplay involves switching between multiple caveman characters and manipulating items in order to reach a goal. Did Atari really think this would impress anybody? When a one-player game requires "teamwork", that's never a good sign.

Each of the 80 stages (!) offers a new maze of platforms to overcome. The developers would have been better off programming only three stages, because there's no way a gamer could possibly stomach any more than that! Icons on the bottom of the screen indicate possible actions, but good luck determining what those poorly-rendered images are supposed to symbolize. At least two of them could be construed as obscene gestures!

Evolution's user interface is so poorly designed that it takes two button presses to activate a single icon! The flat, 2D graphics are not the least bit interesting, and your cavemen are a pretty dull bunch. The puzzles often require you to pass items back and forth and traverse the same areas with each "dude", which is time-consuming. In certain levels it's possible to destroy a vital item, yet the game doesn't bother to inform you that the stage has suddenly become impossible to complete. Dino Dudes has absolutely nothing going for it, and I'm pretty confident you'll hate it as much as I did. © Copyright 2008 The Video Game Critic.

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1 player 

If you like this game, try: Crazy Valet (Atari 2600)
Dinolympics (Lynx)
Roc 'N Rope (Atari 2600)
Panic! (Sega CD)
Merlin's Apprentice (Philips CD-i)

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