I was feeling pretty good about this game until I reached the second stage and the view changed to a 3D perspective. This stage reminded me of Colecovision's Turbo. The choppy animation looks terrible. It's hard to tell what's going on, and you end up flying in circles while shooting ahead blindly. Ground forces appear out of nowhere. Eventually you'll go down in flames as a result of the unavoidable ground fire. It's not a total loss, but Thunder Blade is too ambitious for its own good. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.
If you're expecting to see some fantastic scenery, you're going to be disappointed by these plain-looking stages. I did find it amusing how the Roman stage is full of ruins. It seems to me that if you went back in time, they wouldn't be "ruined" yet, would they? There also seems to be an excessive number of marshes to slowly slosh through. Most of the time you move up the screen, but some stages are side-scrolling.
Your enemies are poorly rendered, and in fact, it's hard to tell what some of these things are supposed to be! Most of the dinosaurs look more cute than realistic. Occasionally you'll pick up a special weapon, which you'll probably want to save for the bosses. The programmers went crazy with the bosses - each stage has no less than FOUR. Most look pretty cool, like the hydra, minotaur, medusa, and Tyrannosaur Rex.
The sub-bosses die pretty quickly if you just whale away at them, but defeating the "big" bosses can take forever! Besides that major annoyance, the controls are not very good. My shots never seem to go where I want them to. I normally enjoy games like this, but the lousy controls, uninspired graphics, and emphasis on bosses turned me off. Note: You can "continue" repeatedly by tapping the fire button after using your last life. You'll lose your weapons but your score will not reset. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.
It's hard to stop on a specific letter, but you should at least try to avoid "A", which is the default peashooter. The wide beams and spray weapons are effective, but they only last for a few seconds, and that's a shame. Certain weapons have the side effect of transforming you into a flying robot, but this serves no real purpose (except to justify the title). Transbot forces you to tap the fire button repeatedly, so if you have a rapid-fire attachment, don't hesitate to use it.
Transbot may be the most repetitive shooter I've ever played. You're approached by the same green and red orbs as the mountain and space station backgrounds keep cycling over and over. The only indication that you're making any progress is an occasional new enemy. In theory you'll eventually encounter a boss that resembles an AT-ST. The uptempo music is nice, but it loops until you're sick of it. Transbot is an outdated shooter that will leave you asking, "is that it?!" © Copyright 2012 The Video Game Critic.
The thing is, enemies soon begin approaching from both sides, and since you can't defeat both, one will always grab you and inflict mandatory damage. By stage two the controls become downright unresponsive as thugs just walk right up and grab you at will. If somebody designed this game specifically to piss me off, he did a great job! Your one saving grace is the nun-chucks weapon, which makes it considerably easier to dispatch these bullies.
One thing I do like about Vigilante is its vividly detailed graphics. In the first stage you walk down a street lined with interesting business establishments and billboard advertisements. The second stage takes place in a junkyard but boasts a gorgeous orange sunset. The third stage features a spectacular New York skyline in which the twin towers are visible.
The bosses are generally push-overs, and I was able to defeat the first one by punching him in the crotch about 30 times in a row (please kids, don't try this at home!). The music is standard Master System fare (toddler at a toy piano). Vigilante is a good-looking game rendered barely playable by poor controls. So if you need more frustration in your life, reach for Vigilante! © Copyright 2014 The Video Game Critic.
The field looks fairly hideous with its alternating shades of green, and the players look like a bunch of flailing roaches. The center of the field is inscribed with an "FL" logo. I can only assume the programmer erased the "N" after the NFL license fell through. The kicking game incorporates a nice cut-scene and a two-press meter. The first press is for power, and the second is for "spin". Spin? Since when do football kickers apply english to the ball?
Voice synthesis is used for the quarterbacks and referees, but their high-pitched voices sound hilarious. The text displayed is also good for a laugh. Missed field goals are ruled "incomplete", breaks between quarters are referred to as "quarter time", and the game alerts you about the "two minutes warning". In the end, Walter Payton Football is just another amusing step in the evolution of football video games. © Copyright 2005 The Video Game Critic.
Distractions come in the form of dames in dresses and good guys who appear with their arms up. It's easy to shoot innocents, and often you feel relieved to have missed! Certain stages let you take aim at outlaws riding horses across the horizon. When you hit them it looks like there's blood splattering from their necks! Like Stampede (Atari 2600, 1981) there's an occasional stationary target that's really hard to hit.
Wanted also has challenge stages where you shoot bottles or coins for bonus points. The light gun controls are surprisingly accurate (especially if you crank up the brightness) but it's hard to hit targets along the left edge of the screen for some reason. The detail in the graphics is good. The saloons and hotels have posh furniture, textured surfaces, and pictures on the walls.
The game-over screen features a guy in a grave who looks digitized! Lively piano tunes do a nice job of setting the mood. I noticed enemies always appear in the same patterns, but three skill levels help make up for that. Wanted doesn't pack many surprises but makes perfectly good use of Sega's light gun accessory. Note: The light gun will only function on an old-style CRT TV. © Copyright 2016 The Video Game Critic.
The bright, tropical graphics are inviting enough, but the repetitive "happy" tunes will really get on your nerves. The controls are poorly designed. There's a jump button and a throw button, and pressing both lets you jump extra high. Unfortunately, the "normal" jump is totally useless, so you're forced to spend the whole game mashing both buttons at the same time - pretty lame. On the bright side, the skateboard sequences do pick up the pace of the game, and there are frequent checkpoints and unlimited continues. But let's face it - there's nothing here that distinguishes Wonder Boy from any other generic side-scroller. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.
Like the Wonder Boy in Monster Land, you control a knight who battles monsters, navigates platforms, and can purchase items to make his life easier. The gameplay is not completely linear, but it's usually pretty evident where you need to go next. What really makes Wonder Boy III unusual is how the main character transforms into various creatures after facing each boss (similar to Megaman). You'll assume the form of a fire-breathing lizard-man, a wall-crawling mouse-man, a swimming piranha-man, a powerful lion-man, and a flying hawk-man. Each stage is tailored to the specific character, and the gameplay is dramatically altered in each case.
The graphics are first rate, with beautiful, varied stages and interesting creatures. You'll encounter headless skeletons, cyclops, genies, crabs, ninjas, goblins, cobras, and dragon bosses. The only creature I do NOT like is the pesky "cloud" that always drops fire on you - he's a real pain in the butt. Defeated enemies drop items, and I like how the number of coins they drop has a random element.
I also appreciate the wide selection of items you can purchase, including some expensive "mystery" items. The problem is, you can only access the item screen via the pause button on the console, which is a pain. Wonder Boy III is far deeper and more challenging than other Wonder Boy games, and it provides unlimited continues and a password feature. This may be the best game I've ever played on the Sega Master System. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.
Besides slashing with your sword, you can unleash secondary weapons (like bombs) by pushing down on the control pad. Magical doors lead to bosses or bonus levels. Monster Land features bright, medieval scenery and a superb soundtrack. My only complaint is that some of the platform jumping is more difficult than it needs to be. There's no continue or password feature, but you do get a score at the end of each game. Simple and innocent, Wonder Boy in Monster Island is pleasant and entertaining to play. Note: The "art" on the box of this game has got to be the worst I've ever seen. The chubby lead character looks like somebody's mom for Pete's sake! © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.
There are only two gears, so shifting is a no-brainer. The game is tough, and you need to run a near-flawless race to advance to the next course. The game encourages you to be aggressive. There's a track map in the corner of the screen so you can see how far you have to go (each race is one lap). Unfortunately, your rank is never revealed until after the race, and if you don't rank near the top, the game ends abruptly (no score or anything). There were a few races where I thought I did pretty well, only to be greeted with that black "game over" screen.
If you race well, you can earn extra parts to upgrade your vehicle, which is a nice touch. There's even a track editor on the main menu. To be honest, the editor isn't too exciting since the tracks are just a series of curves and straight-aways. Still, World Grand Prix is a very cool racer that's worth playing. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.
The deep space stages that were so mediocre in the original game are impressive as hell here. It's no longer hard to determine if you're "lined up" with enemies, as you can clearly see your shots whizzing over or under ships on the horizon. Zaxxon 3D has the added feature of being able to toggle your weapon. At first I couldn't tell the difference, but eventually I realized my second weapon fired more rapidly at the cost of faster fuel consumption. It's a neat wrinkle that adds a little strategy.
As usual I found a few flaws. Objects in the foreground (including your ship) lend themselves to double vision, although objects scaling in from the distance look fantastic. The bosses are dull, the music is annoying, and platform stages could have benefitted from a little more detail. Still, the game is a blast to play. If you're lucky enough to own the Sega 3D glasses, this game belongs in your collection. And yes, you do look like a complete dork wearing those things! © Copyright 2011 The Video Game Critic.
Each room is like a little puzzle, with a set of platforms, a computer system, traps, and cylinders that contain secrets and bonuses. You'll need to enter the correct codes to turn off traps and access hidden areas. At first this isn't too hard (some codes are provided up front), but as you progress, you'll need to use more complex combinations. In addition, guards are shooting at you at every turn. Luckily, you're well armed with your "Zillion" laser, which can be powered-up. Your character is easy to control, and can jump and duck to avoid enemy fire. This guy is so agile that he can crawl faster than the guards can run! Zillion is a pretty elaborate game.
As you progress, you'll meet other characters, increase levels, and gain dexterity. The graphics are good, and the music isn't bad either. Zillion does have a few flaws. First, you'll often need to remember a series of odd symbols, and the manual recommends writing them down. I don't like games where you need to take notes. Secondly, there's no save feature, so you'll have to complete your mission in one sitting. You do get three continues though. Overall, this is a fine title that does a good job of combining action and puzzle solving. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.
Unfortunately the shoot and jump buttons are reversed from every other game you've ever played. Frustration sets in quickly as you shoot when you mean to jump and vice versa. I prefer the on-foot stages where you leap between platforms, save hostages, and fry robots that look a lot like the ones from the Will Smith movie "I, Robot". I really love the high-tech scenery with all the fancy electronics, blinking lights, and occasional views to deep space. Once again however, the controls could be better.
You can't move and shoot at the same time, and it's hard to quickly duck or jump. That's a problem because enemies can appear on platforms just as you're landing on them! Using a turbo attachment goes a long way to compensate for the substandard controls. The game seems to offer no continues, but the manual provides a continue code. Wait what?! Why not just put that in the game? Zillion II is hampered by its lackluster controls and questionable design, but I still find this game very exciting. © Copyright 2016 The Video Game Critic.
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Screen shots courtesy of Video Game Museum