system Index B
Backstreet Billiards
Grade: C
Publisher: Ascii (1998)
Reviewed: 1999/7/15
Rating: Everyone

screenshotBackstreet Billiards offers a nice range of features and variations, but falls into the same trap as so many other video pool games. Although several cool camera angles are available for each shot, the high overhead view is always the best view, defeating the fancy 3D graphics. The control is pretty decent, and I like the challenging story mode that lets you take on a series of increasingly good pool hustlers. Backstreet is hardly great, but it's probably as good as any other Playstation pool game. © Copyright 1999 The Video Game Critic.
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1 to 4 players 

If you like this game, try: Trick Shot (Atari 2600)
Pocket Billiards (Odyssey 2)
Pool Paradise (GameCube)
Real Pool (Playstation 2)
Centipede (Dreamcast)

Ballblazer Champions
Grade: F
Publisher: LucasArts (1997)
Reviewed: 2002/10/20
Rating: Kids to Adults

screenshotThe original Ballblazer was a popular 1984 computer game with cutting-edge, pseudo-3D graphics. A futuristic one-on-one sport, it was played from a first-person point of view. You'd expect this sequel to be a winner considering how far 3D graphics have come, but Ballblazer Champions lacks the fun and charm of the original. At times, it's an absolute chore to play!

The sad part is, it didn't have to be this way. If LucasArts had stayed true to the original formula, this game might have worked. But instead they completely overhauled the gameplay, creating a confusing mess. Champions is played from a third-person perspective in elaborate arenas with fixed goals and power-ups sprinkled all over the place. The ball tends to blend in with the surroundings, making it hard to track down.

An arrow directs you towards its location, but I think a radar display would have been more useful. It's hard to tell what's going on in this game, and the problem is even worse in the split-screen mode. Your vehicle is equipped with a speed burst, but it doesn't work when you have the ball, so you'll crawl like a snail when it's in your possession.

The instruction manual recommends continuously shooting the ball ahead of you and speed-bursting to it. The original game let you shoot from any distance, but in Ballblazer Champions your shots stop dead at a few feet, so you'll need to be directly in front of the goal to score! The audio is equally horrific, with bad music and an annoying announcer yelling mindless drivel like "I love it!" and "That had to hurt!" What game is he watching? © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.

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1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: Ballblazer (Atari 7800)
Ballblazer (Atari 5200)
Rock 'N Roll Racing (Genesis)
Koronis Rift (Atari XEGS)
Battlesport (3DO)

Batman Gotham City Racer
Grade: D
Publisher: Ubisoft (2001)
Reviewed: 2006/2/2

screenshotAfter experiencing the thrilling, high-speed racing action of other Batman games (notably Batman Returns on the Sega CD), I was very disappointed with the tedious nature of Gotham City Racer. It's just a series of boring driving missions punctuated by cartoon cut-scenes. Most missions involve simply driving from point A to point B within a set period of time, which isn't the least bit exciting.

The on-screen overhead map is crap, but at least a green arrow at the top of the screen keeps you headed in the right direction. Consequently, you'll spend most of the game staring at that ugly arrow. The Batmobile itself looks junky, and the analog steering sucks. You tend to swerve from side to side, making it difficult to stay on the narrow roads.

Some missions involve trailing a villain or disabling his vehicle with weapons. You can fire weapons forward or backward, but no visible damage is inflicted (lame!). Worst yet, the maze-like layout of the city prevents you from attaining high speeds. Gotham Racer's scenery isn't very elaborate. Most roads look the same, but there are a few landmarks and shortcuts to spice things up.

In terms of audio, the orchestrated musical score is terrific, but the Batmobile engine is in serious need of a tune-up. The animated cutscenes are entertaining enough, and fans of the series will enjoy watching Batman battle foes like Two-Face, Firefly, and Clay-Face. This footage appears to be taken directly from the show, although the visual quality is somewhat degraded. Gotham City Racer is definitely mediocre, and only die-hard Batman fans will find any redeeming qualities in this. © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.

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1 or 2 player 

If you like this game, try: Batman: The Animated Series (Game Boy)
Batman: Vengeance (Game Boy Advance)
Zzzap and Dodgem (Bally Astrocade)
Batman Returns (Game Gear)
Sega Touring Car Championship (Saturn)

Batman and Robin
Grade: D
Publisher: Acclaim (1998)
Reviewed: 2001/2/24
Rating: Teen (violence)

screenshotA vile gangster descends on an innocent civilian on a dark street. Suddenly, from out of nowhere, the batmobile appears and the caped crusader leaps out, fists clenched! Then, inexplicably - Batman is run over by a bus! This scene is typical of Batman and Robin. This is an overly ambitious game with massive potential, but all of its pieces don't quite come together. It should actually be called Batman or Robin, considering you can't play both at once (Batgirl is also available).

It's hard to criticize Batman and Robin's graphics - this game is pure eye-candy! From the impressive cinematics to the glitzy streets of Gotham, the game sports a dark but colorful motif in the spirit of the movie. The heroes look awesome. Although somewhat stiff when they move, I love the way their capes flow. Your adventure begins in the Batcave at Wayne Manor, where you can train and analyze clues. The training room is a Tomb Raider knock-off, as are the swimming controls (who asked for swimming in a Batman game anyway?). The Batcave is pretty cool though because there are plenty of things to do and places to explore.

When it's time to hit the road, you'll hop into the batmobile and cruise the streets of Gotham in search of thugs and clues. The driving graphics are impressively smooth, although the steering is over-sensitive. Mr. Freeze's thugs attack from motorcycles and tanks, but your machine gun is very effective at dispatching these goons. There are also civilian vehicles on the road that inexplicably explode when you accidentally sideswipe them (whoops!). The buildings look really good, and you can get out of your vehicle to explore at any time. Unfortunately, only certain designated areas offer anything to see, indicated by a parked police car.

Once you determine where Mr. Freeze will strike next, you go to that place and battle his thugs. These fighting sequences are where the game falls apart. Confusing controls, awkward camera angles, graphical glitches, and collision problems make each fight a painful experience. In addition, the sound effects feature a lot of annoying alarms, and the voice samples sound nothing like the real actors. Finally, be prepared to spend a lot of time staring at loading screens. I like the concept behind Batman and Robin, but Acclaim couldn't quite pull it off. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.

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1 player 

If you like this game, try: Batman Begins (Game Boy Advance)
Batman Returns (Game Gear)
Batman Vengeance (Playstation 2)
Batman Gotham City Racer (Playstation)
Berzerk Voice Enhanced (Atari 2600)

Battle Arena Toshinden
Grade: C+
Publisher: Takara (1995)
Reviewed: 2001/10/6
Rating: Teen (violence)

screenshotThis 3D fighter made quite a splash at the Playstation launch. Never before had a fighting game featured such detailed textured polygons and smooth animation. Although somewhat antiquated by today's standards, Toshinden's gameplay has held up fairly well. Button controls give you two weapon attacks and two kicks, and the directional pad lets you dash, block, and jump. The jumps tend to be high and floaty, but the dodge move lets you roll sideways, making this a true 3D fighter.

The fights take place on raised platforms, creating the possibility for "ring-outs". The characters are a bit blocky with visible polygon seams, and the stages do a lousy job of blending photo-realistic backgrounds with chunky polygon foregrounds. While not as deep as Tekken, Toshinden is still a respectable game, and unlike many other fighters, its matches don't run very long. Its age is clearly showing, but Toshinden is an interesting game to look back on. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.

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1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: Tekken 2 (Playstation)
Last Bronx (Saturn)
Virtua Fighter (Sega 32X)
Tobal No.1 (Playstation)
Virtua Fighter 2 (Saturn)

Battle Arena Toshinden 2
Grade: D-
Publisher: Takara (1996)
Reviewed: 2001/2/24
Rating: Teen (violence)

screenshotBattle Arena Toshinden 2 kicks off with an intro that mixes animated sequences with clips of real actors, and it doesn't work very well at all. As a matter of fact, it looks downright embarrassing! The game itself features a nice variety of fighters, including the obligatory freak, a knight, an old man, and a dominatrix (who doesn't look too hot, by the way).

In addition to eleven regular characters, there are two cool bosses and a hidden character. Unfortunately the developers got a little too ambitious and incorporated fancy shading effects, which actually make the game look worse! Not only do the fighters look rougher than the first Toshinden, but their animation is terribly choppy. With the exception of some impressive running water, most of the scenery is generic and dull.

The high-octane music is very good, but the voice sound effects may just be the worst ever recorded for a video game! The repetitive screams are irritating, and Sophia's laugh will make you cringe. A big step back from the original, I would only recommend Toshinden 2 to those who want to take a walk down memory lane. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.

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1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: Berzerk Voice Enhanced (Atari 2600)
Battle Arena Toshinden 3 (Playstation)
Irritating Stick (Playstation)
Bio Freaks (Nintendo 64)
Jack Sprite vs. the Crimson Ghost (Philips CD-i)

Battle Arena Toshinden 3
Grade: F
Publisher: Takara (1997)
Reviewed: 2002/5/5
Rating: Teen (ages 13+, realistic violence)

screenshotAfter a promising start, the Toshinden fighting series slowly descended into mediocrity. This third edition is so embarrassing that when my friend asked me where I got it, I lied and told him I found it lying on my doorstep! The only thing Toshinden 3 has going for it is the sheer number of fighters: 30 in all! Some of these characters are way over-the-top, like the giant monkey and the ugly dude with the long "Pinocchio" nose. Hell, one guy is even armed with a frickin' chainsaw!

The graphics are weak for a 1997 game, with blocky character models and vanilla backdrops. The gameplay places far too much emphasis on combos, which means you'll constantly sustain multiple hits while not being in control of your fighter. The matches can run painfully long, and cheap hits are the order of the day. Using Tracy, I managed to beat my CPU-controlled opponents with ease using nothing but kicks to the shin!

As mediocre as the graphics are, the voice samples are even worse! It sounds like everybody's talking from the end of a long sewer pipe! The voice talent must have fallen into a well when this was being produced. Mercifully, this third edition spelled the end of the Toshinden franchise. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.

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1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: Brutal Unleashed: Above the Claw (Sega 32X)
Battle Arena Toshinden (Playstation)
Super Puzzle Fighter II (Game Boy Advance)
Bio Freaks (Nintendo 64)
Battle Arena Toshinden 2 (Playstation)

Blast Chamber
Grade: D-
Publisher: Activision (1996)
Reviewed: 2020/1/3
Rating: Teen

screenshotBack in the day I was the only one of my friends to own a Playstation multitap so I was chomping at the bit when I saw Blast Chamber in a gaming magazine. Keep in mind this was at a time when people were going absolutely nuts over 3D games. In this futuristic death-sport up to four players participate in capture-the-flag in a rotating cube. As if that wasn't crazy enough certain stages are decked out with platforms, switches, and traps.

Each player has a countdown clock, with your goal to be the last man standing. Players fight over randomly-placed crystals, trying to transport them to their colored station (to add time) or an opponent's station (to subtract time). Pushing against an arrow on the wall rotates the entire cube, causing everyone to come tumbling down. It's hilarious the first two or three times it happens, but Blast Chamber never lives up to its promise.

The controls could be more responsive. You can't just press the arrow to rotate the cube; you have to lean against it for a few seconds while everybody's pushing each other around. Weapon power-ups exist in theory, but in practice you just run around shoving other guys to the ground. The advanced cube configurations are more bewildering than fun. With so many spikes and traps, you'll often inexplicably die just a few seconds in.

The best part of the game is its audio, featuring futuristic techno music and some amazing blood curdling screams. The female announcer is sexy but also repetitive "possession red, possession blue, possession green..." Blast Chamber is a terrific multiple concept. It's a shame it's so hard to play. © Copyright 2020 The Video Game Critic.

1 to 4 players 

If you like this game, try: Flag Capture (Atari 2600)
Atari Video Cube (Atari 2600)
Q*bert's Qubes (Colecovision)
Off The Wall (Atari 2600)
Ballblazer (Atari 7800)

Blaster Master: Blasting Again
Grade: F
Publisher: Sunsoft (2000)
Reviewed: 2004/7/30
Rating: Everyone

screenshotBack by popular demand, Blaster Master has been transformed from its modest 8-bit Nintendo roots into a 3D action bonanza! At least that's what the case says. In the original NES Blaster Master, you navigated platforms in a jumping tank and would sometimes explore on foot. This new version offers the same brand of platform shooting, but it's darker and more serious.

The stages take place in underground caves where robots are constructing a mysterious war machine. Blaster Master's graphics are respectable, thanks to its nasty spider-shaped robots and cool explosion effects. The analog control is very good, and the new "side jump" move is useful. Like the original game, some of the action takes place underwater, and you can even step out of your vehicle (although this is not advised).

Unfortunately, the underground areas tend to be small, and moving from one to the next forces you to sit through an annoying load screen. I felt like I was spending more time watching load screens than the game itself, and it's especially aggravating when you accidentally back up into the previous room!

Worse yet, the confusing stage designs will have you going in circles. Upon losing a life you need to restart the stage from the beginning, and after sitting through dozens of load screens, that's really too much to ask. Fans of the original game may consider picking this up cheap, but you definitely want to hold onto you old NES cart. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.

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1 player 

If you like this game, try: Blaster Master (NES)
King of Fighters 98 (CD) (Neo Geo)
Super R-Type (Super Nintendo)
Super Pitfall (NES)
King of Fighters 94 (CD) (Neo Geo)

Grade: B-
Publisher: Sony (1998)
Reviewed: 2001/2/24
Rating: Teen (violence, mild language, suggestive themes)

screenshotBlasto reminds me of the old Marvin the Martian cartoons, with its platforms suspended in space, elevator tubes, and weapons like the "Blast-O-Matic 100 Tera-Watt Blaster". The production quality of this 3D platform game is outstanding. The graphics and animation look like a Warner Bros cartoon, and Blasto is a top-heavy caricature of every animated hero you've ever seen. His booming voice is supplied by the late, great Phil Hartman of SNL fame.

Unfortunately, Blasto has problems typical of the 3D platform genre, namely too many difficult fatal jumps, excessive backtracking, and not knowing where you're supposed to go next. The maps are confusing and only available in certain areas. Even so, there are a few elements that elevate Blasto above the average mark.

First, you get to rescue some scantily-clad women. You can fire your gun rapidly, and there are plenty of alien targets. Phil Hartman's funny quips give the lead character personality, and the retro-futuristic music is absolutely dead-on. Adding variety to the gameplay, you can fly with a jetpack, swim, or even ride around on a big chicken! Overall Blasto looks and sounds like a million bucks, but its gameplay is less than earth-shattering. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 

If you like this game, try: Super Mario All-Stars (Super Nintendo)
Apprentice, The (Philips CD-i)
Darkstalkers (Playstation)
Daffy Duck: The Marvin Missions (Super Nintendo)
Berzerk Voice Enhanced (Atari 2600)

Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain
Grade: D
Publisher: Crystal Dynamics (1996)
Reviewed: 2016/11/2
Rating: Mature (animated violence, animated blood and gore)

screenshotReview contributed by DaHeckIzDat of the RPG Crew and edited by the VGC.
Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain is an action-RPG with a dark theme but lackluster gameplay. You play as Kain, a nobleman who is murdered by bandits and then resurrected as a vampire. Enraged by his condition, he sets off on a quest to find and kill the sorcerer responsible. As you travel through a medieval landscape the action is viewed from a top-down perspective similar to The Legend of Zelda.

The graphics are decent and the voice acting is appealing in a cheesy sort of way. Unfortunately Kain runs his mouth so often you'll start to wish he would just shut his pie hole. A sword is your primary weapon, but the fighting tends to devolve into hitting the attack button faster than your enemy can react. The ability to stun enemies sends them into a "dizzy" state, allowing you to suck their blood to regain health. It's a neat feature but it's silly how blood streams across the screen directly into Kain's mouth.

An elaborate HUD consumes the entire right side of the screen when a simple row of icons would have sufficed. Kain acquires different powers as you progress including the ability to transform into a wolf or a bat. The bat form is mainly a quick travel option. I once activated it by accident and then realized that I couldn't exit the map screen! The fact that I was then forced to warp back to a waypoint and walk halfway across the map is just bad game design.

Furthermore, you have to pause the game to equip items and powers, and it can take up to ten seconds just to bring up the menu! Considering how many times you're required to perform this action it's completely unacceptable. I wouldn't say Blood Omen is unplayable but it probably hasn't aged well enough to convince most players to endure its 60+ hour storyline. © Copyright 2016 The Video Game Critic.

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1 player 

If you like this game, try: Legend of Zelda, The (Game Boy Advance)
Neutopia (Turbografx-16)
Sword of Fargoal (Commodore 64)
Medieval Moves: Deadmund's Quest (Playstation 3)
Zelda, The Legend of (NES)

Bloody Roar
Grade: C+
Publisher: Sony (1998)
Reviewed: 1999/7/15
Rating: Teen (blood and violence)

screenshotHere's a 3D fighter with a killer gimmick - the fighters can transform into werewolves, apes, big rabbits or a number of other beasts. Not only does this add variety to the action (the monsters have different moves), but it adds some much-needed strategy (choosing the right time to transform). Bloody Roar's gameplay is similar to Tekken, but its simple controls lend themselves to mindless button mashing.

The one-on-one battles take place in fenced-in arenas, and it's even possible to knock your opponent through a wall (nice!). Unfortunately, the characters are not well balanced, and the guy who becomes a lion has his way with most of the others. Bloody Roar also includes a ton of options and Easter Eggs which add replay value. © Copyright 1999 The Video Game Critic.

1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: Bloody Roar 2 (Playstation)
Bloody Roar: Primal Fury (GameCube)
Tekken 4 (Playstation 2)
Tekken 5 (Playstation 2)
Wabbit (Atari 2600)

Bloody Roar 2
Grade: B
Publisher: Sony (1999)
Reviewed: 1999/8/8
Rating: Teen (blood and violence)

screenshotTake the original Bloody Roar and improve the graphics, add more moves, and toss in some extra play modes, and you have Bloody Roar 2. Like the first edition, you control a character who has the ability to transform into an animal at the touch of a button. There are some devastating combos, some which can be chained into a ridiculous number of hits (18 or more). The analog and vibration controls are supported but don't add a whole lot to the gameplay. The Story Mode is really just a string of one-player battles loosely connected by cheesy cut-scenes. Bloody Roar 2 is not as good as Tekken, but it's a step in the right direction. © Copyright 1999 The Video Game Critic.
1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: Bloody Roar (Playstation)
Bloody Roar: Primal Fury (GameCube)
Tekken Advance (Game Boy Advance)
Tekken 5 (Playstation 2)
Tekken 4 (Playstation 2)

Bottom of the 9th
Grade: C+
Publisher: Konami (1996)
Reviewed: 2005/8/8
Rating: Kids to adults

screenshotAs one of the first baseball games to incorporate polygon graphics, you might expect Bottom of the 9th to totally suck, but it's actually quite entertaining. Although Konami failed to secure an MLB license (no team names or stadiums), the game does contain real players, complete with digitized photos. Bottom of the 9th's gameplay is simple and fun once you get over the primitive graphics.

With the featureless bodies that are rough around the joints, the players on the pitcher/batter screen look more like robots. Their animation however is very smooth and lifelike - and that's what really counts. The batter aims using a "swing box", and the better the hitter, the larger the box. Once a ball is put into play, the game truly shines. Playing defense is a pleasure, with responsive fielders who can whip the ball between the bases with ease.

The outfield is huge, so there tends to be a lot of hits into the gaps. The ball really tends to "die" after it hits the ground, as if the grass was soaked with rain. Be sure to keep an eye on your runners, because they run on anything. Bottom of the 9th has its share of little quirks, but these give the game character. Teams are referred to by their city, and their fake logos are cheesy as hell. You'll play in odd venues like the Comet Dome and Panther Field.

This is also the first baseball game that lets you throw "warm up" pitches. Bad idea! Hell, they even need to drop that from real baseball! When selecting a pitch, the pitcher sometimes will "shake you off" from the mound, which looks cool. Finally, when a player gets thrown out at a base, it's funny how he sulks back to the dugout totally dejected with his head down. Bottom of the 9th is an odd case where its graphics are so bad that they're good, and its smooth, arcade-style gameplay is timeless. © Copyright 2005 The Video Game Critic.

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1 player 

If you like this game, try: Tecmo Super Baseball (Genesis)
Grand Slam (Playstation)
Baseball (NES)
Bases Loaded (NES)
Hardball (Atari XEGS)

Bottom of the 9th '99
Grade: C-
Publisher: Konami (1998)
Reviewed: 2009/8/12
Rating: Everyone

screenshotThe back of the box for this game reads "NEW! 1998 opening day rosters! NEW! 1998 inter-league schedule!" So why is it called Bottom of the 9th '99 again? The only reason I bought this game is because it has Brady Anderson on the cover, one of my favorite Orioles from the 90's. Speaking of Orioles, I can not get over just how stacked their roster was in 1998! Cal Ripken, Roberto Alomar, Rafael Palmeiro, Harold Baines, and Brady Anderson were just a few of the team's heavy hitters that year.

I really enjoyed the first Bottom of the 9th (Playstation, 1996), but this one is less interesting. The boxy players look more "fleshed out" than the first game, but their blank faces look creepy as hell! The animation is extremely fluid, and I actually recognized the distinctive stances of several batters. The pitchers deliver with a nice winding motion, but they are so lanky that it looks like a frickin' praying mantis out there on the mound! The infield throws from knees and head-first slides look very realistic, but I hate how outfielders twitch as they approach the ball from an angle. Exclamation points appear over players who make a poor throw - as if they're cursing or something.

In addition to the default behind-the-batter view, you also have the option of a behind-the-pitcher angle, which alters both the view and controls drastically. It's like a whole different game! Bottom of the 9th has a nice pick-up and play quality. The pitching controls are okay, but I wish the fastball was the default pitch instead of the change-up. Also, these fastballs sure don't look very fast! Fly balls tend to float in the air, so shots to the gap usually end up as shoestring catches. Likewise, infielders usually snag hard liners that appear to be well over their heads. Getting on base is like pulling teeth, and this lack of offense sucks the excitement out of the game.

Other annoyances include fielders who don't try to tag runners, or players who stand around after the third out like a bunch of idiots! In one amazing glitch, my friend Chris managed an underhand throw to himself on first base! The stadiums are rough approximations of the real things, but I do like those skylines at night. The controls are digital only, and there's no instant replay function. I wouldn't call Bottom of the 9th '99 the bottom of the barrel, but you can find better baseball games for the Playstation. © Copyright 2009 The Video Game Critic.

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1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: Ken Griffey's Winning Run (Super Nintendo)
High Heat Major League Baseball 2003 (Game Boy Advance)
Major League Baseball (Intellivision)
MLB 99 (Playstation)
Baseball (NES)

Brain Dead 13
Grade: F-
Publisher: Readysoft (1995)
Reviewed: 2010/5/25
Rating: Kids to Adults

screenshotFinally- a game that lives up to its name! Brain Dead 13 is either completely busted or the most unplayable piece of [expletive] in the sordid history of bad games. It's one of those full-motion video (FMV) affairs along the lines of Dragon's Lair and Space Ace. You play the role of a young Shaun White who galivants through a haunted house while being pursued by some freak with hooks.

In theory, you can interact with Brain Dead 13's animated story by pressing buttons at specific moments. Incredibly, after playing for at least a half hour my friends and I had zero progress to show for our efforts. That's right people, we failed to register a single correct move! Every last one resulted in a "bad beep" instead of the "good beep". Hell, the only reason we were even aware of the existence of the "good beep" is that it's mentioned in the instructions!

The unskippable opening scene is about 15 seconds long but it feels like an eternity. Eventually I was able to perform one or two correct moves on my own, but even when you know exactly what to do, the difficulty is just brutal. Brain Dead 13 effectively blurs the line between a working game and a defective one. I paid money for this? It's all over but the crying. © Copyright 2010 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 

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

Grade: D
Publisher: Hasbro (2000)
Reviewed: 2001/3/22
Rating: Everyone

screenshotYes, the old Atari 2600 Breakout game is back, but you'll never recognize it. Instead of smashing colored blocks, this whimsical 3D version lets you aim for crates, chickens, knights, and mummies. The early stages are straightforward, fun, and addictive. My favorite is the hollow pyramid, with its chain-reactions, jarring explosions, and the crisp sounds of crumbling rock. As the stages progress however, the game becomes less and less like Breakout, and consequently less fun.

By going overboard with annoying "connect the pipe" puzzle stages, I think Hasbro lost sight of the simple gameplay that made the original so great. Ill-conceived power-ups tend to distract more than they help, and the mandatory "bonus" stages are painfully difficult and have absolutely nothing to do with Breakout. One forces you to run from a wolf through an obstacle course, and it's no fun at all.

A few multiplayer modes are included, but these are thoroughly confusing. Certain actions send more bricks over to your opponent's side, and it's incredibly frustrating when your wall is regenerating faster than you can smash it. Like Pong, Breakout begs for a paddle controller, and the analog or digital controls aren't responsive enough, especially when you're trying to keep multiple balls in play. Hasbro tried to do to Breakout what they did with Pong, but this time they came up short. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.

1 to 4 players 

If you like this game, try: Arkanoid (Super Nintendo)
Puzzle Link (Neo Geo Pocket)
Pinball Challenge (Fairchild Channel F)
Breakout (Atari 2600)
Off The Wall (Atari 2600)

Bubsy 3D
Grade: F-
Publisher: Accolade (1996)
Reviewed: 2012/7/8
Rating: Kids to Adults

screenshotIf you hated Bubsy in 2D, wait until you get a load of this 3D atrocity. This is the kind of game that makes you stare at the screen and shake your head in disbelief. The main character is incredibly unfunny and creepy to boot. His goofy voice will make you cringe as he randomly tosses out lines like "Owwww - what's the number for 911?"

The game allegedly takes place in "distant worlds", giving the developers an excuse to throw together the most unimaginative, aesthetically repugnant stages ever devised. They are basically composed of geometric shapes with gaudy color schemes. The draw-in is horrendous as triangular mountains and square platforms magically appear as you step forward. Strewn across the landscape are hundreds of atom icons. You're supposed to collect those things, but that would be a colossal waste of time.

Populating the flat, featureless worlds are green, armless goons that stand around and spit red projectiles. You can pounce on them for points, but the horrendous digital controls make even landing on a stationary object tricky. Enemies are deadly to touch, and thanks to poor collision detection just being in the general vicinity is fatal. Lining up Bubsy for jumps is tedious work, and that fact that he'll grab the side of a ledge if you come up short is little consolation.

Combining 2D sprites with 3D objects makes depth perception hard, so grabbing floating objects is very frustrating. The weird music sounds like something from a haunted carnival. Playing Bubsy 3D is one of the most unpleasant experiences you'll ever endure. I forced my friend Scott to play this a few months back, and the poor guy is still in therapy. Lacking any glimmer of charm or creativity, Bubsy 3D takes "bad" to a whole new dimension. © Copyright 2012 The Video Game Critic.

1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: Bug! (Saturn)
Bubsy: Claws Encounters of the Furred Kind (Genesis)
Berzerk Voice Enhanced (Atari 2600)
Bangai-O (Dreamcast)
Bubsy 2 (Genesis)

Burning Road
Grade: C+
Publisher: Toka (1996)
Reviewed: 2019/1/13

screenshotI think I would have enjoyed this arcade racer in 1996 had I known about it at the time. The title screen exclaims "Burning Road!" with a goofy voice that sounds just like Waluigi! Burning Road's muddy polygon graphics may not measure up to Ridge Racer (Sony, 1995) but they are comparable to Daytona USA (Saturn, 1995). Three tracks offer high-speed racing thrills between chunky muscle cars. Select a vehicle and a voice quips "allll-righty then!" It doesn't get much more 90's than that!

The colorful tracks incorporate windmills, ruins, tunnels, and rickety wooden bridges. The snowy mountain section looks beautiful and driving through the city at night during a raging storm is amazing. The controls are limited to brake and accelerate, and you'll want to use that brake around long turns to avoid sliding off the road. The bumpy tracks make for a bouncy ride, so the first-person view is out of the question.

Burning Road claims to support analog control but apparently that must be a steering wheel because my analog controller didn't work. The arcade-style races are short but sweet, clocking in under four minutes each. This game is a wild ride! Helicopters and planes buzz the courses and collisions send you bouncing around like a toy. Hitting timed checkpoints adds tension and excitement. Each course must be completed in a certain amount of time to advance.

A score is tabulated between rounds and you can rank in at the very end. Just don't try saving to memory card because it's not worth the trouble. According to the manual: "The only way to save over an existing saved game in Burning Road is to first delete the previously saved game and then give the command to save the current game". Really? They couldn't fix that? Two players are supported via a link cable option. It may be a poor man's Ridge Racer, but I enjoyed Burning Road's simple, pick-up-and-play style. © Copyright 2019 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 137,470
1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: Ridge Racer Type 4 (Playstation)
Rally Challenge 2000 (Nintendo 64)
Midnight Run (Japan) (Playstation)
Virtua Racing (Saturn)
Highway 2000 (Saturn)

Bust A Groove
Grade: A-
Publisher: 989 (1999)
Reviewed: 1999/7/15
Rating: Everyone

screenshotWho would have thought a corny dancing game like Bust a Groove could be so damn good? How could this be? Well, you can start with its killer soundtrack of high quality, catchy-as-hell dance tunes. Next, the game uses state-of-the-art motion-modeling to create characters with an incredible variety of dance moves. There are ten dancers to choose from, each with their own individual styles.

You control them by pressing combinations of buttons (displayed on the screen) to the rhythm of the songs. The longer you keep it going, the fancier your moves become, but hit a wrong button and your dancer gets out of sync like a drunk white guy (or a sober white guy).

Competing with a friend is a trip, and you can even perform attacks on your opponent to throw off their rhythm. With its colorful lighting and fancy camera angles, the game almost has a Soul Train vibe. If you're into musical games, Bust a Groove belongs in your collection. © Copyright 1999 The Video Game Critic.

1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: Dance Dance Revolution (Playstation)
In The Groove (Playstation 2)
Rhythm Heaven Fever (Wii)
Dance Dance Revolution Extreme 2 (Playstation 2)
Dance Central (Xbox 360)

Bust A Move 2
Grade: B+
Publisher: Acclaim (1996)
Reviewed: 2001/6/29
Rating: Everyone

screenshotIn all likelihood, Bust A Move 2 is the most compelling puzzle game since Tetris. Completely original in premise, you aim and shoot balloons towards the top of the screen, trying to connect three of the same color, causing them to explode. Played on a split-screen, the idea is to clear out the balloons on your side, before your opponent can clear his side. You really need to try this game first-hand to appreciate how much fun it is.

The rules are simple as can be, but quick-thinking and subtle strategy are required. The first time I showed this to a friend, he ran out and bought it immediately, and later told me how he played it all night! Bust A Move 2 offers several modes of play, but the two-player simultaneous is by far the best. If the game has a flaw, it lies in its cheesy music and infantile sound effects. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.

1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: Tetris 2 (Super Nintendo)
Puzzle Bobble Mini (Neo Geo Pocket)
Tetris Plus (Playstation)
Tetris and Dr. Mario (Super Nintendo)
Columns (Genesis)

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