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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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Screen shots courtesy of Atari Age