This could have been the ultimate Q*bert, but it has a fatal flaw. Like most classic arcade games, the goal of Q*bert is to play for high score. However, when your game ends, you're immediately presented a black game screen with two prompts: end or continue. The problem is, your score is never displayed anywhere! Considering how great the game is otherwise, this massive oversight is a real shame. Other minor issues include muffled audio and the fact that you get five lives instead of three (three lives should always be standard). © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.
Using the fast or slow "draw" buttons, you move your little diamond to draw lines, attempting to enclose areas of the screen without being touched by the helix. The goal is to capture as large a percentage of the screen as possible, but when you reach 75% the stage ends. If you're a skilled player, you can lure the helix into a tight area and "trap" him there, capturing well over 90% of the screen with that last "draw".
Complicating matters are deadly sparks that move around the perimeter, force you into harm's way. While this edition of Qix is a fair approximation of the arcade game, I wasn't overly impressed. I don't like how the areas enclosed with the slow draw (worth twice as many points) are filled with the same colors as the fast draw. The music is good and the control is decent, but the graphics and colors are drab. This is not as fun as I remembered. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.
The second game, Robin Hood, takes place in a castle where you collect keys, unlock doors, shoot bad guys with arrows, climb ropes, and jump over pits. Robin Hood looks absolutely freaky with that big goofy smile on his face. Momentum plays in a key role in the game, as you'll need it to slide under walls or leap great distances. It's no prize, but Robin Hood is probably the best of the bunch.
Next up is Boomerang Kid, and this one makes no sense at all. Your character collects boomerangs, but get this - he can't throw them! Supposedly an Australian, this idiot looks more like some country bumpkin. Most of the action takes place in trees, and falling to your death is a common occurance thanks to lousy controls that make it hard to judge your jumps.
The final entry is Treasure Island Dizzy. Yes, the "Eggman" is back, but Treasure Island isn't as bad as Dizzy The Adventurer, a game I detested. This time Dizzy's user interface has been streamlined, so you can manipulate objects without calling up a separate screen. Dizzy is also easier to control since he doesn't roll around as much. Treasure Island Dizzy is playable until you reach one particularly stage loaded with wall-to-wall cheap traps. With only one life and no continues, I have no patience for that kind of crap. All in all, Quattro Adventure offers a lot of gaming, but whether there's any real value here is arguable. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.
The pitcher/batter screen is respectable, but once the ball is hit the runners move like turtles! Fielders are never positioned where you expect them to be (where's my [expletive] shortstop?!) and fly balls are hard to judge because the shadow tends to be far to the right. The annoying music sounds like a wacky cartoon theme playing on fast-forward.
The second game, BMX Simulator, tries to be an old-school, overhead racer, but it's deplorable. The courses are so littered with junk that you have no idea where you're supposed to go! Touching anything turns your bike into a twisted wreck as you watch the CPU riders lap you again and again.
Soccer Simulator is probably the most playable of the bunch, but that's hardly a ringing endorsement. The unimpressive overhead view lets you easily pass the ball, but trying to get the ball into that tiny goal is an exercise in frustration. Last (and probably least) is Pro Tennis, featuring unattractive, flabby players playing in a chicken coop. The gameplay is equally unappealing, considering you can't even serve the ball in-bounds!
My friend Scott noted that the best strategy is to set the controller down and sip your beer while watching your opponent double-fault time after time until you eventually win the match. Quattro Sports is proof that four games aren't necessarily better than one, especially when they're as half-baked as this collection. Note: This cartridge only works with the Aladdin "deck enhancer". Also, I could only get it to work with a top-loading NES and a really old TV. © Copyright 2013 The Video Game Critic.
The races are short and sweet. You can't leave the road, and that's good because the tracks have a lot of speed boosts. You'll collect items scattered over the road for weapons, upgrades, and bonus points. Shooting cars ahead with missiles is fun, as long as you don't slam into their smoldering wreckage. Bombing a car on your tail is also satisfying. You'll compete against three CPU opponents over a series of 32 tracks. You keep racing until you come in last (fourth place), and a handy indicator shows your position at all times.
As you progress the races get faster and more chaotic. Slowing you down are obstacles like puddles, miniature squalls, oil slicks, and pop-up barriers. Those barriers pop up from out of nowhere and I really don't like them at all. The AI has a bit of a rubber band quality, so it's easy to go from first-to-worst if you let your guard down. There's a lot to like about R.C. Pro-Am, but the lack of a two-player mode is glaring. That was addressed in the sequel, which didn't arrive until five years later. © Copyright 2012 The Video Game Critic.
The tracks are more elaborate with criss cross designs and streams to splash through. Occasional surprises include an airplane that drops bombs on the track. The vehicles handle extremely well, and I like how it takes a second for your turbo to kick in. Between races you'll use your winnings to soup up your car's motor, tires, and weapons. This adds considerable depth, but the menu interface for selecting these upgrades leaves much to be desired.
My friends were psyched about the multiplayer mode (supporting up to four players), but the execution is lacking. The game insists on keeping all four cars on the screen at all times, and those who fall behind get a boost with no apparent penalty. It really sucks when you're in the lead and the game slingshots a straggler right past you! Worse yet, all the back-and-forth action renders the weapons pretty much useless. There's little joy to be found in the multi-player, but as a single player experience R.C. Pro-Am 2 is even better than the original. © Copyright 2012 The Video Game Critic.
While pitching, the action is viewed from behind the plate, with two windows displaying runners on first and third. The pitches fly across the play at high velocity, but once the ball is hit, the action slows to a crawl. RBI Baseball does do a few things right. The controls are simple and intuitive, and you can toss the ball around the bases with ease. The ball scales out (becomes larger) as it ascends, making it easy to judge fly balls.
Still, RBI has a lot of issues. First of all, the non-stop music will drive you nuts. Next, there are far too many homeruns, and most tend to fly way out of the park. The CPU opponent is dumb, allowing you to steal bases and stretch base hits unchallenged. RBI Baseball will suffice as a simple baseball game for young kids, but everybody else should seek out its excellent sequel: RBI Baseball 2. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.
You can select between two skills levels, turn off the music (thank you!), and the homerun frequency is reasonable. You get all the real major league teams and players. Bonus features include voice synthesis for umpires and - get this - instant replays! If there's one thing that annoyed me, it would be the excessive number of foul balls. Otherwise, RBI 2 is outstanding. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.
If you cut your teeth on flashy racers like Outrun, you may be disappointed by Rad Racer's sparse visuals. The background scenery in the Grand Canyon stage looks like crap - literally! The night stages look better thanks to their attractive city skylines, but Rad Racer is more about gameplay than graphics. The game requires plenty of skill and is quite addictive. There's even a "3D" mode in case you have some blue and red cardboard glasses lying around. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.
Memorizing the course helps a lot. When you begin the screen says "qualifying rank: 30", which means you need to finish in the top 30 to advance to the next race. You begin in the final position (50), but don't be in a rush to move up, because these races are long. In fact, I'd say the first race is too long and hard for its own good. You begin on a wide open bridge, but soon have to navigate thick brush, narrow city streets, and even deal with oncoming trains!
The first stage of most games helps ease you in, but this is a trial by fire. Even so, scaling the ranks isn't too tough because your brain-dead opponents constantly crash, littering the screen like bugs on a windshield. Occasionally a helicopter drops a bonus icon, and this gives the game a Spy Hunter flavor. Some icons provide extra gas or bonus points, but my favorite supplies "helper bikes" that ride alongside you and let you ram adversaries.
Rally Bike has its share of surprises like cars that pull out onto the road without warning, and marauding trucks that squash everything in their path. The controls are simple as can be, with one button serving as accelerator and the other the brake. Although the scenery changes drastically even within each race, the bridges, beaches, and palm trees give the game a real summer vibe. Simple to play but surprisingly deep, Rally Bike spells good times for NES fans. © Copyright 2009 The Video Game Critic.
After chatting with a few military guys in a hangar you're taken onto a helicopter and dropped in the jungle. Rambo can switch between a variety of knife and arrow weapons, but he's forever at the mercy of attacking bees, snakes, and invisible cave creatures. In the swamps he must contend with deadly bubbles and ferocious flamingos.
Killer bubbles make a lot of sense and who isn't terrified of flamingos? As if the bizarre assortment of enemies isn't bad enough, the screens aren't even arranged logically! You'll exit a swamp to the left, only to head back right to discover a forest! Is it any wonder I spent most of the game wandering in circles?
The one thing Rambo has going for it is a distinctive, melodic soundtrack that is guaranteed to trigger 80's flashbacks. Equally precious is the thought-provoking dialogue that includes gems like "What? You should know us. We wanna get on the boat. Here's money." It's possible that Rambo is actually meant to be a parody of the film, but that doesn't make it suck any less. © Copyright 2008 The Video Game Critic.
The game is a simple quiz show with multiple-choice questions. The odd thing is, most of these questions were antiquated even before the show aired in the 80's! We're talking about ancient programs like Bewitched, My Three Sons, Hogan's Heroes, The Odd Couple, and All in the Family.
Adding insult to injury, the mechanism used to answer questions is totally based on luck. You "ring in" before choosing your answer, making it a button-mashing contest to see who can ring in first. The computer usually lets you win in the one-player mode. Awful, repetitive music plays incessantly throughout the entire contest. Playing Remote Control ranks right up there with being kicked in the groin over and over again - it's that much fun! © Copyright 2005 The Video Game Critic.
The action is definitely repetitive, and the bosses are a serious pain in the ass. I really wish there were some weapons lying around. Half the thugs approach with sticks and smack you all over the place. I do like the cool motorcycle sequence where you can kick other riders off of their bikes. And you have to love inspired dialogue like "You ain't tough enough for me!" Renegade isn't great, but it may have influenced later brawlers like Streets of Rage. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.
Considering only two buttons are used, the number of moves is amazing. You can punch, kick, jump, throw, sprint, and block. There are plenty of weapons lying around, including chains, brass knuckles, lead pipes, and trash cans. But it's the special moves you acquire from the book stores that really put the game over the top. River City Ransom never ceases to amaze, and you'll often discover new moves like running on a tire. Unlike Double Dragon, it doesn't take many punches to defeat the bad guys, so the fights don't feel as repetitive.
The graphics are clean but there is significant flicker and break-up when two players are fighting at the same time. The backgrounds offer some simple but attractive scenery including bright city skylines and scenic canals. The bottom of the screen displays colorful dialogue, most notably "BARF!!" when a thug is defeated. Perhaps the game's most innovative feature is how you earn and spend money to restore your life, raise your attributes, and acquire new moves.
There are four shopping malls, each with a different set of stores. When using the gym sauna, you see your character's bare ass, which looks hilarious. River City Ransom provides a password save, but this thing is huge! I'm not sure I could write it down without making a mistake. It's also possible to find yourself "stuck" and unsure how to proceed, which happened to me and my friend George. Despite its minor flaws however, River City Ransom is a quality two-player beat-em-up that has withstood the test of time better than most. © Copyright 2008 The Video Game Critic.
At first Robocop uses his fists to beat up male ballet dancers (in purple tights), dogs, and guys in turbans. Hey - I thought he was the good guy!? The action really picks up when Robocop brandishes his automatic weapon and starts shooting thugs in the face. I also love how the bad guys in windows will hurl themselves down to the pavement below when shot. The instruction manual states "at the end of each level, there's a foe who's much harder to defeat than any of the rest". That sounds like every NES game I've ever played! The first boss is a strongman who is gun-resistant but apparently not fist-resistant.
Stage two takes place in an upscale hotel, and I like how you're free to explore and discover hidden areas. The remaining stages include factories and office buildings. Robocop can be confusing to play because the game arbitrarily decides when you can use your fists or guns. Stairs are aggravating to navigate, and when you want to shoot low, you often shoot diagonally down instead (which is useless).
I hate how Robocop's energy is always running low. It's a real drag when you're totally kicking ass and suddenly he keels over due to a lack of energy. The game's soundtrack is catchy, but it's always the same, so it gets monotonous. The cut-scene following stage one is hilarious. It looks like Robocop just got back from the dentist and he's trying to talk with a mouth full of novocaine. Robocop serves its purpose as a standard crime-fighting side-scroller. If you think it sounds mediocre, wait until you see its two sequels. © Copyright 2014 The Video Game Critic.
In stage two you enter the factory, but it looks more like a funhouse with a hideous purple-and-aqua color scheme! You never know what objects can harm you, and when you die you don't even know why! The controls are deplorable. In the first game Robocop couldn't even jump, but this game is all about jumping, and momentum is crucial. You'll need to get a running start to reach most platforms, yet you rarely have the room to get a head of steam.
In the time since the first game was released, Robocop has apparently lost the ability to shoot upwards or diagonally. He can no longer backtrack either, which is problematic because most stages require him to collect a certain number of "nuke" icons in order to progress. Failing that, you're forced to endure a first-person shooting range stage which feels a lot like punishment. Robocop 2 is pure torture to play, and is an embarrassing example of how badly a sequel can suck. © Copyright 2014 The Video Game Critic.
Robocop doesn't look quite as realistic as he did in the first game, but he doesn't look like the cartoon character of the second game either. He can jump between platforms like the second game, but you don't need to deal with any of that momentum garbage. Robocop has a real sense of mass, so he clanks when he lands. Robocop can't shoot straight up, but he can fire diagonally. The fact that he can't backtrack is a real drag.
When shot, enemies will fly off the screen like a bat out of hell. Unfortunately, it's sometimes hard to shoot people because they tend to overlap with you with maddening frequency. That's just bad design. The factory stage features a lot of harrowing jumps over acid. It's a good thing you can escape the acid, because it's almost impossible to avoid. I have my doubts about this game being faithful to the movie. Did Robocop really fight a ninja in the third film?
Between stages you can "repair" various parts of Robocop, but it's not readily apparent what the benefit is of fixing his head or leg. The music is lousy - it sounds like somebody flicking rubber bands. Robocop 3 is better than the second game, but that's not exactly a glowing endorsement. I'm still trying to figure out how a "can't miss" franchise like Robocop could falter so badly on the NES. © Copyright 2014 The Video Game Critic.
As you blast new pathways, you're constantly being attacked by roving monsters and skeletal birds. Blowing stuff up is fun, but the controls are awkward. Pressing the "bomb" button places a bomb directly in front of you, forcing you to immediately step back in order to avoid the explosion. Bomberman veterans will find this concept hard to grasp. It's also quite easy to get caught up in the scenery while trying to take cover, and blowing yourself up is a common occurrence.
If that's not bad enough, you'll need to keep an eye on your energy level, because it drains constantly and you only have one life! Should you manage to reach the end of a stage, you'll still need to figure out which rock the exit is hidden under! On the bright side, Robowarrior's soundtrack absolutely kicks ass, and the game has an addictive quality that kept me coming back for more and more punishment. I use the term advisedly; Robowarrior is brutal. © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.
The best thing about Rollergames is its non-stop action. The first stage has you skating between crumbling buildings while jumping over open manholes and gaping chasms. Periodically thugs will appear in your path but you can knock them out with a single punch without even slowing down! Now that's satisfying! At the end of each stage you'll find yourself in a confined area where you battle waves of gang members. I love how you can punch them in the stomach multiple times before tossing them over your shoulder.
In stage two you're on a disjointed freeway with an amazing skyline looming in the night sky. At the end of this stage you must avoid bombs dropped by a helicopter. Stage three put you in a junkyard avoiding wrecking balls and molotov cocktails.
The main fault of the game is that no matter how far you advance, falling into any hole resets you way back to the beginning of the stage. That sucks because pits are ubiquitous and a lot of things trip you up. Once you begin memorizing where the ramps will be and know where you need to position yourself the game is a blast. A few checkpoints would have been nice but otherwise Rollergames offers quality skating violence for all ages. © Copyright 2020 The Video Game Critic.
As you infiltrate some evil facility you encounter scary-looking dudes with sacks over their heads. Naturally they come in an assortment of colors so you can tell how many hits it will take to kill each one. The shooting action is supremely satisfying for several reasons. First, the crisp controls allow you to quickly toggle between a standing and squat position, unloading several rounds at a time.
Your default weapon is potent, even if its bullets are a little slow. It's really not a bad idea to fire first and "follow" your shots. I love watching enemies keel over, with the first shot typically bringing them to their knees. The digitized grunts are great too. Special weapons like machine guns only serve to ratchet up the fun.
Most areas offer two levels you can jump between, as well as doors that let you duck out of the line-of-fire. It was very considerate of the bad guys to clearly label their ammo closets with signs like "BULLETS". Just keep in mind that enemies tend to enter from those same doors. You'll be tempted to rush through this game but it pays to be cautious. Your life meter is only two units long so there's little room for error.
The one thing I don't like about Rolling Thunder is its shrill music which is a little hard on the ears. The scenery is a bit repetitive but surprises abound like black panthers that try to pounce on you! Requiring equal parts tactical strategy and quick reflexes, Rolling Thunder is an outstanding shooter for the NES. © Copyright 2018 The Video Game Critic.
Rush 'N Attack begins with a cool intro sequence showing your soldier parachuting into enemy territory. You arrive armed with only a knife, but you'll find other weapons along the way. The background graphics are interesting, featuring massive missile launchers, cargo planes, and enemy watchtowers. The game can be an extremely difficult game without one vital piece of information: To defeat the jump-kickers, jump straight up and stab. Once you get that move down, progress comes a bit easier.
Whenever possible, try to save your shooting ammo for the bosses. Each of the six stages requires some strategic thinking, and experience is the best teacher. The background music is quite memorable and the controls are responsive. Rush 'N Attack provides no continues, so you'll need to be a pretty skilled player to reach the later stages. The two-player mode is fair, but this game is better suited for solo action. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.
Screen shots courtesy of Video Game Museum