N2O is a stylish tunnel shooter with similarities to Tempest and Centipede, but it isn't nearly as engaging. You shoot various insects while careening through colorful, organic tubes filled with flashing lights and lasers. The stages are reasonable in length, and although they vary slightly in color and shape, they all play pretty much the same. In addition to your normal cannon, you can also pick up special weapons and unleash devastating "firewalls", which effectively flush out the whole tunnel (whoa!).
N2O is easy to follow at first, but soon the action gets out of hand and you can't tell what's going on. Then again, if you're wasted out of your mind you probably won't even notice. Shooter fans might take an interest in this, but there's really not much substance here, legal or otherwise. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.
Granted, realism is not one of its strengths. The action is geared heavily towards offense, with both teams typically trading dunks back and forth. You can't really prevent a player from penetrating the lane but a well-timed steal or block can shift the momentum. The players appear blocky by today's standards but the animation still holds up. The high-flying slams are pleasing to the eye, although those automatic replays get annoying after a while.
In the Zone's load times are surprisingly brief and the jazzy music (with obligatory scratching) is terrific. The game does have a few odd quirks. After taking a foul shot the shooter must wait patiently for the ball to slowly roll back to him while everyone else stands around like an idiot. The hyper-caffeinated announcer will exclaim "it's a real barn-burner!" when the score is only 4-2. Better yet, he mispronounces Latrell Sprewell's last name as "Sprool". Where did they get this guy?!
This is an arcade-style basketball game where anyone can pick up a controller and immediately start jamming on their friends. I also love seeing old players like Reggie Miller, Anfernee Hardaway, Dennis Rodman, Charles Oakley, and Clyde Drexler. Sadly, you won't find Shaquille O'Neal, Charles Barkley, or Michael Jordan due to licensing issues. In the 90's the NBA was king. It may not be a serious basketball game, but if you like your sports with an arcade flair, get In the Zone! © Copyright 2017 The Video Game Critic.
The players don't look pixelated at all, and the motion-captured moves are silky smooth. Pressing square initiates your move to the hoop but if a defender is in your path, you'll likely be called for an offensive charge. The control is a bit stiff, but that's mainly due to the lack of analog support. An otherwise well-designed control scheme is marred by the fact that X passes to the player closest to the hoop (O is the "normal" pass button).
Gamers accustomed to passing with X will find themselves constantly hurling in-bound passes the length of the court -- which nearly always get picked off. I'll never forget how pissed Eric would become whenever he accidentally hit that button. In addition, selecting players isn't as responsive as it should be. For free throws, Sony wisely went with an easy-to-use "T" meter, which works like a charm.
Shootout's audio is understated. The announcer chimes in every now and then, but the games tend to be quiet. NBA Shootout plays a solid game of basketball, but the true highlight is the half-time show, which superimposes statistics over slow-motion video of NBA cheerleaders doing their thing. These girls are seriously hot. My friends and I enjoyed this "feature" so much that we assumed all future sports games would adopt it. Sadly, that was not the case. © Copyright 2005 The Video Game Critic.
The X button is now used to shoot, and pressing it in conjunction with the square initiates a dunk. Unfortunately, the turbo function is a;so assigned to the square button (instead of R1), which makes no sense. Turbo should always be a shoulder button. I also dislike how the players will attempt jump shots from behind the backboard - that's just sloppy.
Shootout's graphics haven't been altered much, but the action on the court is faster and more realistic, with fewer "automatic" dunks. The presentation is more professional, and when a player scores, his photo and stats are displayed on top of the screen. The PA announcer is more talkative, contributing more commentary and calling players by name (or nickname). The crowd is louder, and the sound effects have a resonating quality.
For the hardcore player, the deep season mode that allows you to trade, release, sign free agents, and even create players. When playing as the Bulls, Dennis Rodman sports his colorful hair, and one particular guard -- that number 99 -- is really, really good. Shootout's biggest letdown has got to be the cheerleader half-time show. This time the girls look blurry and distorted, and that's a shame. Despite a few reservations, NBA Shootout 97 is a well constructed sequel. © Copyright 2005 The Video Game Critic.
The gameplay hasn't been spared either, reduced to a choppy, chaotic mess. Blocks occur constantly, and before you even realize a steal has occurred, the other team is heading up the court. The R1 button now initiates a "spin move" which makes it much too easy to penetrate to the hoop. But while driving the lane is super easy, jump shots rarely go down, and even point-blank jumpers tend to clank off the rim.
Adding to its woes, NBA Shootout 98 is riddled with visual glitches like players that blink as they run along the baseline. A new control scheme incorporates manual dunks and defensive icons, but when the basic gameplay is this sloppy, what's the point? The cheerleaders have returned for the half-time show, but the video looks dull and washed out. Sony really blew it with NBA Shootout 98, which proved to be the beginning of the end for this one-great series. © Copyright 2005 The Video Game Critic.
I'm always glad to see a quick-start mode, but you can't even change the teams! Choose exhibition mode instead. The players on the field look comically thick and blocky. It's like a bunch of Transformers doing battle out there, and once they get a head of steam they're like a runaway freight train. That's a problem when you're trying to stay in bounds! It's easy to select plays and formations and helpful hint boxes are displayed between plays (turned off via select button).
The passes tend to be extremely slow and floaty. When running with the ball L2 and R2 will juke and stiff-arm, but don't confuse them with L1/R1 which pitches the ball! It's hilarious how wide receivers never turn around; they just run down the field with both arms straight up and catch the ball anyway. The kicking meter might be the best I've seen, with intuitive controls that require both skill and timing.
The instant replays are kind of lame because you can't adjust the camera at all. The crowd looks like ugly wall of static pixels and there are only three cheerleaders on the sideline. The fact that there's no halftime show makes this feel like a lazy effort. Still, there are some nice touches.
Nets rise behind the goal posts during kicks and referees take some shots during plays. I was a little surprised when the band played the correct Maryland fight song! The PA announcer says some amusing things too. Overall NCAA Football 2000 isn't a great game but it's quirks and rough edges actually give it some personality. © Copyright 2019 The Video Game Critic.
The action is good but not great. Passes are less floaty than lack year but they still lack enough zip to thread the needle. When running through the line, backs often get stuck running in place as if they've hit an invisible wall. I like how all the players pick themselves up after each play and just stand around momentarily, as if they're waiting for the signal to resume play. Auto-instant replays are a nice touch, periodically showing big plays from side angles. The new momentum meter in the corner of the screen is interesting; it gives the game a tug-of-war vibe.
Weird glitches include players having seizures and quarterbacks throwing weird "hook shots" down the field. During one celebration two guys were supposed to be butting helmets but they were way too close. Then they proceed to prance off the field together. And why does my selected defender keep trying to run into the opponent's huddle? Stuff like this provides unintentional humor but the lack of a half-time show is harder to forgive. This was EA's last college game for the Playstation and you can tell they weren't trying too hard. © Copyright 2019 The Video Game Critic.
On the field I was surprised (but also pleased) to see the players rendered with 2D sprites, not unlike NFL Gameday (Sony, 1995) or any of the 16-bit Madden titles. The graphics can be hard to discern at times, with pixelated players, grainy grass, and a crowd that looks like colored bricks. The player animation is stiff, so you'll see funny things like the ball bouncing square off a receiver's back. The stadiums are fair renditions and you can make out the turtle statue in College Park (barely).
The old-school gameplay is remarkably solid. Play-calling screens are simple to navigate, although it can be difficult to determine how deep your receivers will run. It's easy to scan the field for an open receiver, and you can really wing the ball. The running game is no slouch either, as you can usually burrow up the middle for a couple of yards. Executing option plays (press R1 to lateral) is great fun, and the kicking meter is the most sensible I've seen in decades. Defensive controls include the ability to leap high into the air to bat down passes.
A slick replay feature allows you to view plays from multiple angles. There's a PA announcer but no color commentator, and where is the halftime show? I have to laugh when I see the players remain in the huddle after the game clock expires - as if they need to be informed the game is over! But what really won me over was the brisk pacing. You only need to wait for the referee to return the ball to the line after each play. Do they only have one ball in this game? Unintentional humor aside, NCAA Football 98 delivers first-rate college action with old school charm to burn. © Copyright 2018 The Video Game Critic.
NCAA Football 99 contains 112 schools along with 80 historic teams. The inclusion of team-specific fight songs and chants details did not go unnoticed! The players don't look jagged at all and execute natural-looking wrap tackles. Granted, the game occasionally shows its age with its awkward animations and pauses. After each play all the players stand at attention and pause for a second as the ball softly drops to the turf. After a field goal you have to wait for the referee to run the ball all the way down to the other end of the field. Are you telling me they only have one ball?!
The kicking controls are right on point as you must aim on the fly while applying the proper power. The passing game is kind of weak because you just can't get much zip on your throws. The running game on the other hand feels very much downhill, with runners bouncing off-would be tacklers to occasionally bust a big one. One oddity is the "play notification" feature which displays the name of the plays both teams have chosen before the hike. You can turn this off, but the fact that it's on by default is bizarre. There's no half-time or post-game show. NCAA Football 99 is a little light on the pageantry side but for head-to-head action this one is hard to beat. © Copyright 2020 The Video Game Critic.
The action on the field is remarkably fluid with running backs that slice through the line and fight for yardage while dragging tacklers. The passing game has improved so much I can't believe it. Open receivers are easy to find and the passes are crisp and accurate. Sometimes a receiver catching the ball on a sideline will magically stay in-bounds and zip right up the sideline.
On defense the triangle is used to break up passes and the dive button is effective. Some tackles can be pretty brutal, like when players are picked up and body-slammed! After certain plays the game will prompt you to "celebrate" (triangle) or "show off" (circle). When I tried the show off button my player performed some kind of break-dance spin on the field! It looked hilarious, but guess what? I was awarded with a 15-yard personal foul penalty! The kicking meter is slick - a model of elegance and simplicity.
Keith Jackson's commentary is entertaining, but I wouldn't describe a running back as being "stopped cold" if he just picked up nine yards. The lack of a halftime show is disappointing (*sad face*) but I like how the band pipes in sporadically during the game. NCAA GameBreaker 2000 is the real deal. If you've had a love/hate relationship with the GameBreaker franchise, this is sure to put it back into your good graces. © Copyright 2016 The Video Game Critic.
NCAA Gamebreaker was one of the last football games to use sprite graphics, and the players appear small and pixelated. The surface of the field is textured but in this case it appears grainy and not particularly pleasing to the eye. The opening kickoff meter comes up really quick so be ready for it! The camera is pulled way back, giving you a nice wide angle for passing plays.
During running plays you might get lost in what looks like pixel soup. The players appear to move slowly but advancing just an inch up the screen will effectively pick up a few yards. The so-called "speed burst" move is lame but the stiff-arm is no joke! I enjoyed running the wishbone offense and executing various option plays.
Open receivers usually catch the ball but defenders often dive in and jar the ball loose. That dive move is lethal. If you take control of a safety on defense you'll be able to break up all sorts of plays. One negative about the game is how if you don't take control of your player, the CPU immediately assumes control (why?).
The play selection is limited but that "flip" option sure comes in handy. The crowd looks like a splotchy wallpaper but I like the fact that there are cheerleaders and a chain gang. There's even a real halftime show with a band marching in letter formations. There's no play-by-play but you do get a PA announcer.
The season mode includes extensive statistical tracking. What makes Gamebreaker appealing to me is its pacing. It's one break-neck play after another with few lulls in the action. Gamebreaker's graphics may not have aged very well but gamers with short attention spans will appreciate it. © Copyright 2015 The Video Game Critic.
Close camera angles let you get up close and personal with the players, but they look extremely boxy. The animation is smooth at least, with quarterbacks motioning at the line and defenders executing wrap tackles. Sadly the gameplay feels like an afterthought. The still arm control was moved from R1/L1 to R2, so now when I try to stiff-arm a defender I end up pitching the ball backwards (to no one)! And even when I do hit the correct button my player will often use his wrong arm.
The camera proves to be a real liability. Prior to each snap you can preview the receiver icons, but this causes the camera to slowly rotate to the side, which is a useless, disorienting view. When handing off the ball the game pauses briefly for no discernable reason. Oversized pass icons make it hard to locate an open receiver and the CPU defenders are tenacious!
On defense the player select button rarely puts you in control of a player in proper position to make a play. When you score your player stops at the goal line like he just hit a brick wall. There's no fanfare over a touchdown, so you might not even realize you scored! And what happened to the cheerleaders and halftime show? NCAA Gamebreaker 98 is a case of a franchise going through some major growing pains. © Copyright 2015 The Video Game Critic.
The play selection screen is a lot clearer, limiting the number of plays to three at a time. The kick-off animation is amazing because it looks like the ball is headed right towards you! Keith Jackson provides serviceable play-by-play and text displays the result of each play. Referees now make calls on the field for penalties like pass interference, although these are rare occurrences.
Despite its visual pizzazz Gamebreaker 99's gameplay stagnates badly. Before each play the quarterback slowly approaches the line, and while it looks dramatic it's very time consuming and annoying. You can hold the shoulder button to preview your receiver icons, but the camera zooms back so slowly you won't even want to bother! The close camera angles makes it hard to tell what's going on during running plays and passing is ridiculously hard.
Throws hang in the air forever, giving defenders ample time to dive and knock the ball loose. Adding insult to injury, the referee often blows passes incomplete before the ball even reaches the receiver! Perhaps the most annoying aspect of the game is the crowd noise. Once they begin to boo in the early stages of a game they will continue the boo nonstop for the entire remainder of the game! I guess they know a bad game when they see one. © Copyright 2015 The Video Game Critic.
GameDay took the tried and true Madden formula and elevated it to the next level. Players on the field look pixelated up close but perfectly fine with the default camera view. The action on the field unfolds slowly but that gives you more time to survey the field. Unfortunately passes tend to be soft and floaty - you can't just zip it in there. Passes can be tipped, and I was amazed when I saw a defender dive after a tipped pass and pick it off!
The extra buttons on the Playstation controller are effectively used to facilitate directional stiff arms and jukes, adding a new dimension to the running game. The triangle is the "catch" button. I don't know if it makes any difference on offense, but on defense it's very useful for breaking up passes. Diving is incredibly effective on defense, as you can often "pop" the ball out of a receiver's hand. The kicking meter moves up and down too fast, which is likely to frustrate beginners.
Contests tend to be quiet affairs except for the understated crowd noise and crisp player grunts. When someone finally scores and that official NFL music booms out of your TV speaker, it will scare the hell out of you. I love the halftime show that features dancing cheerleaders and a helmet-shaped car that putts around the field. Thanks to a fast-moving clock and minimal lulls in the action, a game can be played in under a half hour. Surprisingly fun and oozing with old-school charm, NFL Gameday has held up extremely well over the years. © Copyright 2012 The Video Game Critic.
The "total control passing" needlessly complicates the controls, and the "improved" AI can be obnoxious. Defenders blanket receivers so closely that you really need to get rid of the ball extra early to complete a pass. The play selection screen now shows four plays at a time (instead of three) but looks ugly and it's hard to make out the symbols. Diving tackles are still fun on defense, and the running game is easier so you're bound to pick up a yard or two even after being stacked up at the line. The stiff-arm works great in the open field, and during one play I effectively punched out a would-be tackler.
Two issues they really needed to address were left unchanged, namely the touchy kicking meter and the inability to throw a hard pass. The PA announcer is new, but he's very dull and sometimes wrong ("A 10 yard gain on the play. Second down and one.") There are a few new cosmetic tweaks like nets behind the goalposts, banners in the stands, and cheerleaders on the sidelines. GameDay 97 made a lot of changes to the original game, but most were not for the better. © Copyright 2012 The Video Game Critic.
It's cool how they "wrap each other up" when making tackles, and running backs will sometimes even drag tacklers (it looks like defenders are gnawing on them when this happens). The camera zooms in close whenever possible, but that makes it hard to survey the field before the snap. The polygon graphics definitely benefit the instant replay function, which lets you smoothly rotate around the play.
It seems easier to run between tackles this year, but receivers forget how to catch when there's a defender in the vicinity. At least you can now put a little mustard on your throws. The lack of a half-time show is disappointing, but I guess it would be hard to create curvaceous cheerleaders out of such angular polygons.
The play selection screen is better this year, but it can be frustratingly hard to find basic plays like "punt". I hate the quarterback's high-pitched voice, and the pixelated crowd looks awful. The PA announcer is back, and he still has no idea what the hell is going on. GameDay 98 took a few steps forward, but the franchise still had a ways to go. © Copyright 2012 The Video Game Critic.
The two-man play-by-play is a terrific new feature. Dick Enberg and Phil Simms provide interesting dialogue that can be unintentionally funny. Phil: "You know Dick, I get the feeling that any moment now they're going to bust a big one." Quick - cut to commercial!!
Other welcome additions include drive summaries, celebrations after big plays, and support for analog control. Penalties like pass interference are called, but they are few and far between. The kicking meter is much easier to use, and I love the new camera angle that gives you a clear view of the ball sailing through the uprights.
GameDay 99 isn't without its growing pains. The confusing new play selection screen displays two plays in the foreground and two in the background. Before each snap the quarterback moves slowly up to the line, so you'll need to hold in X to get his lazy ass moving. Stadiums like Mile High have plain blue backdrops that make them look as if they're floating in the sky. The game tends to cut away from passing plays too early - sometimes before you even know what happened. Despite its flaws, GameDay 99 is a well-rounded football game that gave Madden a run for the money. © Copyright 2012 The Video Game Critic.
The players look chunkier and collision detection is loose. The runningbacks appear to be sliding on ice at times. It's easy to break away for the big run, but when stopped short the game fails to account for forward progress! One new feature that rocked my world was the use of the "telestrator" during instant replays. It's so awesome that I wondered why it wasn't in Madden, considering John Madden pioneered the freakin' thing.
I also enjoyed GameDay's first-down chain measurements, which are inexplicably missing from most football games. Vibration is supported, but your controller buzzes too often and frequently for no good reason. GameDay 2000 has its share of unintentionally funny moments. A lot of passes are tipped, and the commentator is always astounded that these aren't interceptions. The triangle button can be used to initiate a celebration animation after any play. Yes, only in GameDay 2000 can you make your quarterback perform an elaborate break-dance move after throwing an incomplete pass.
During one play my kick returner pulled up lame, and it looked like he was trying to pull a monkey out of his butt as he struggled up the field. Some of the new tackle animations look more like body slams! What is this, professional wrestling? During a two-minute warning, my quarterback remained in place under center even after his teammates had walked away.
The two-man commentating team is back, but this year they sound like crap! Not only is the dialogue filled with static, but the volume is all over the place. It's really irritating. Music was licensed for this game, but it's mainly a bunch of tired oldies like "Wooly Bully", "Respect", and "Working for a Living". That rendition of Moni Moni sounds awful. GameDay 2000 has a lot of entertainment value, but the franchise seemed to be slipping into mediocrity. © Copyright 2012 The Video Game Critic.
One feature is "new player models" that are supposed to be scaled to the height and weight of the actual players. Frankly I would not have noticed if I hadn't read about it on the back of the box. GameDay 2001 is very offensive-minded with runningbacks who shed would-be tacklers with ease and receivers that make a lot of leaping grabs.
There were a few times when I witnessed a receiver shove a defender out of the way, make the catch, and take it to the house. Not cool! In one game there was a particularly heinous glitch where I couldn't see the plays on the selection screen! It shook my faith in the game, but I'm hoping it was just an isolated incident. GameDay 2001 isn't terrible, but it could use some fine-tuning. © Copyright 2012 The Video Game Critic.
The game has good balance, so both running and passing are equally fun. I like how runningbacks will sometimes fall forward for that extra yard instead of being stopped dead in their tracks. I noticed that if you hold in R1 before the snap, you now get a nice wide view of all of your receivers. Another notable improvement is the ability to call a timeout by simply pressing the select button. When the clock is ticking down, the last thing you want to do is fiddle with the menus!
I love how in Ravens stadium you can see Jumbo-trons on each end which reflect the action on the field. One change I have mixed feelings about is the new kicking meter. It's a lot harder to use than the previous one, but it does add to the challenge. Speaking of kicking, why is it that the CPU always nails his field goals with perfect accuracy and power? Bogus!
During one game the "chain gang" was called in after a third-down for a measurement, and the tip of the ball was clearly past the chain. You can imagine my dismay when my quarterback lined up for fourth and inches! I guess no football game is perfect, but on the Playstation, this is close enough. The GameDay series would continue through 2005. © Copyright 2012 The Video Game Critic.
The analog controls are responsive, but you can't pass the puck through a crowd as you can in other hockey games, which limits your one-timer opportunities. The "world famous" wrap-around-the-goal shot seems especially effective though. NHL 2000 has a few special features that make it more exciting than your garden-variety hockey game. The highlighted puck is easy to follow, and hard shots leave dramatic streaks behind them. When holding down the shoot button, a nifty "power meter" appears under your player. You can deliver some serious blows on defense, and it's even possible to knock an opponent through the glass!
The play-by-play commentator has got to be the most enthusiastic I've ever heard ("Great save!") This guy gets so worked up that he sounds like he's going to have a heart attack! It's pretty hilarious. The color commentator, on the other hand, is so quiet you might not even notice him. The energetic music soundtrack features the hit "Push It" by Garbage. NHL 2000 is definitely a good time, but some may find it too chaotic. Also, the rink is wider than most hockey games, and your limited view makes it hard to keep track of your teammates.
The instant replay system is awfully choppy, which is surprising considering how smooth the game moves at normal speed. You'll want to turn the fighting off, because these idiotic brawls consist of both players simply throwing lightning-fast jabs at each other with exaggerated sound effects. It's like a bad martial arts flick! The loading screen takes a while, but at least you get to view a photo of the arena you'll be playing in. It's easy to nit-pick, but pound for pound NHL 2000 is probably the best hockey game you'll find for the Playstation. © Copyright 2008 The Video Game Critic.
The players are not very distinct and the animation is a bit choppy, but a smooth frame-rate makes it easy to follow the puck (although the action can get muddled in front of the net). FaceOff's use of sprites was once considered a liability, yet now it's part of the game's charm. There's no analog stick support, but you can still make pinpoint passes and quickly switch defenders. The CPU opponent is remarkably aggressive and even skillfully executes one-timers.
Despite what the title would suggest, there are minimal faceoffs, thanks to CPU-controlled goalies that kick out the puck right away. There's no audio commentary, but the organ music, grunts, expressive crowd, and sound of scraping ice are very clear. The rich option menu includes a season mode, a create-a-player feature, and player "cards" with photos and statistics. As the very first hockey game for the Playstation, NHL Face is a remarkably strong effort that should not be overlooked by hockey fans. Some may even prefer this to the highly acclaimed NHL 2000 (Electronic Arts, 1999). © Copyright 2008 The Video Game Critic.
These titles have aged pretty well in my estimation. Pac-Man oozes charm but it helps to use a decent joystick controller. Whenever I hear the game's little musical intro it takes me back to the days when Andy, Billy, and I would play Pac-Man at the local "Farm Store" (aka Royal Farms). Billy had a quarter tied to a string and it felt like we were pulling off the heist of the century.
Pole Position looks better than I remembered, but steering with digital controls takes some getting used to. Rally-X was once considered "the next big thing" and I can kind of see why. This game is loads of fun, racing around a maze collecting flags while emitting smoke screens to hinder opposing cars trying to ram you. "New Rally-X" has enhanced colors and graphics, but I think its main purpose was to dial down the difficulty to make it more accessible.
Galaga is popular to this day, and rescuing a fighter to enable your double-shot remains one of the most exciting maneuvers you can pull off in a video game. Bosconian is a ho-hum space shooter where you fly freely around a scrolling screen while destroying green space stations composed of pods. In Toypop you're a little guy running around opening gifts while avoiding toy soldiers. My friends Brendan and Steve could never take this seriously, and its cheesy carnival music doesn't help.
I appreciate how these games were given first-class treatment, with the inclusion of side-art, vertical modes, and even dip switches you can set to adjust game options. High scores are automatically saved, provided you use the "exit to museum" option. I can't believe I once scored 187K in Galaga!
The museum portion of Namco Museum Vol. 1 has aged less well. A clunky interface is used to explore sparse "exhibits" and zoom in on items. Some items, like Pac-Man towels or coasters, aren't really worth sitting through the necessary load screens. It's the games that make this collection shine. Bigger compilations have been released since, but few have given these oldies the loving care and respect they deserve. © Copyright 2023 The Video Game Critic.
Grobda is a rapid-fire tank shooter that's so fast, if you're not paying attention your game is already over! I love spraying bullets around the screen, but I hate how ever-expanding enemy explosions are fatal to touch. Super Pac-Man wasn't a big hit because the designers completely went off the deep end with keys and fruit and doors and two types of power pills. It's really not a bad game but takes a while to grasp.
Mappy is a cult classic and probably a hidden gem. You play a mouse in a little police uniform, and in 1983 that was a perfectly reasonable premise! Bouncing on trampolines, you try to grab appliances while avoiding animal pursuers. It's highly original and madly addictive once you get the hang of it. Gaplus is a Galaga sequel of sorts, with faster pacing and flashier explosions. This time you can capture the aliens to augment your firepower, but it's too chaotic to digest what's going on.
DragonBuster is kind of a dud. It plays like a generic crawler with cute characters and irritating audio. Why do I levitate into the air when taking hits? As if that's not annoying enough, this game just goes on and on. All in all Namco Museum Vol. 2 lacks the punch of the first, but is arguably a more interesting collection of games. Note: While reviewing this I scored an all-time high in Xevious with 64,300. Still got it! © Copyright 2023 The Video Game Critic.
What more is there to say about Ms. Pac-Man? It was probably the pinnacle of the Pac-Man series with its multiple mazes, bouncing fruit, and fun intermissions. Dig Dug is a game I own many console versions of, but nothing can top the arcade original. You're digging through dirt while pumping up dragon pursuers to buy yourself time to drop rocks on their heads. Simply brilliant.
Pole Position II is a game I forgot about! It expands upon the first by offering four selectable tracks, each with its own scenery. That's great but I really didn't notice much difference in terms of gameplay, and the digital steering won't do you any favors.
Phozon tries to be unique but it's a headache. Using a little pointer you grab floating atoms and try to arrange them into a specified shape. Borrr-ing! The Tower of Druaga is a tediously-slow dungeon crawler. Back in the day my friends Steve and Brendan would rip this game mercilessly. Incidentally, Namco included a little hint book for this one.
It's also worth mentioning that the museum portion has been streamlined. There's a lot less loading, making it more fun to peruse the items. The in-game menus are also more lean and intuitive. With an upgraded interface and some heavy-hitting titles, Namco Museum Vol. 3 stands out as a strong entry in the series. © Copyright 2023 The Video Game Critic.
Configuring Assault to work with dual-sticks is more complicated than I remember. I tried a "normal" PS1 controller but couldn't get it to work. No, I had to use one of the original analog controllers with concave thumbsticks, which may be somewhat rare. After loading Assault you need to push the mode button until the analog light turns green, not red. The controls can be a little touchy but at least there's a sensitivity setting.
It's all worth the effort because Assault is off the hook! The dual-lever tank controls are supremely satisfying and you can even "roll" out of harms' way by pushing both sticks in the same direction. Angling your tank upward lets you launch mortars to clear the area ahead. If you like that, you'll love the launch pads that propel you a mile in the air, allowing you to carpet-bomb the living [expletive] out of surrounding areas.
Outside of Assault, the offerings are kind of thin. Pac-Land is a pleasant side-scroller where you hop over fire hydrants and little cars. I'd call it a Super Mario Bros. clone, except it predates it! Its unusual control scheme has you tapping buttons to run while pushing the d-pad to jump. It is satisfying however to grab a power pill and leap like Michael Jordan to snag flying ghosts.
Ordyne is a whimsical side-scrolling shooter where you take aim at flying fish, turtles, and airships. Collecting bags of money lets you purchase upgrades at floating shops. Games like this have a ton of replay value because you can experiment with weapon combinations. There's also a two-player mode.
Return of Ishtar is a dungeon crawler in the most literal sense of the word. This is so laborious it's not even worth entering your name in the intro screen! The final game, Genji and the Heike Clans, is bizarre. First you're subjected to this hideous cackling hag who wants you to kill somebody. The game incorporates a number of play styles, but the point of each seems to be to make it to the far right side of the screen by slashing at monsters. The stages where you're a huge white samurai ghost look technically impressive but don't make much sense.
Namco may have been running on fumes but Museum Vol. 4 is still worth the price of admission. It's really worthwhile for Assault alone, and guess what - you can unlock a co-op version called Assault Plus! Note: I noticed the initials "SEE" on one of the high score boards - the guy who originally designed this site! © Copyright 2023 The Video Game Critic.
As you soar over volcanic landscapes you'll spew rapid-fire fireballs at pterodactyls while bombing dinosaurs on the ground below. Collecting a blue orb causes your dragon to sprout a second head, doubling your firepower. If that sounds awesome, that's because it is!
Due to Dragon Spirit's original arcade configuration, the default screen only consumes the middle third of the screen, undermining much of the detail of the colorful graphics. Fortunately Namco was thoughtful enough to provide two alternate screen configurations that offer much better vantage points. One effectively flips the game on its side.
Metro-Cross has you guiding a little running man through an obstacle course of rolling cans, glass floors, and hurdles. The idea is to reach the exit before time runs out. I like using skateboards and ramps, but I hate those green floor tiles that slow you to a crawl. The zany music further erodes the fun factor.
Pac-Mania makes me realize just how profusely Namco milked their Pac-Man franchise. Mania offers a pseudo-3D, isometric view, allowing you to jump over ghosts. It's not bad. The graphics and sound effects are very nice, but it's a little slow and lacks the urgency of a 2D Pac-Man game.
Baraduke stars an astronaut in a jetpack clearing out alien-infested caverns. You have a cute little ally who exclaims "I'm your friend!" in what has to be the single most cringe-worthy use of voice synthesis ever. The rapid-fire shooting is enjoyable enough but the game feels downright claustrophobic with large enemies converging from all sides.
The Legend of Valkyrie is an arcade-style D&D adventure with huge characters and rapid-fire shooting. There are so many colorful creatures to battle like animated trees, lizard people, and flying monkeys. I only wish it weren't so hard to pick up all the coins dropped by defeated enemies. The game's use of scaling is so effective I had a case of vertigo while hopping between high-altitude ledges.
Namco Museum Vol. 5 is not a bad way to wrap up the series! In retrospect I feel as if I've taken these PS1 collections for granted. The Namco Museum series continues to this day, but they tend to be just a loose collection of games. The combined content spread across these original five discs may never be duplicated. © Copyright 2023 The Video Game Critic.
You'd think that someone who grew up with Tempest would appreciate the old-school nature of this game, but I'm really not too crazy about it. Maybe it's the complex controls that turn me off. You can fire in three directions, bank, strafe, jump, climb, dive, accelerate, brake, and fire a special weapon. That's too much for an arcade-style game. The challenge is immense and you really have to stay alert.
Another issue is the monotonous stages. Flying in or around tubes is a rush for the first few minutes, but wears thin in a hurry. Nanotek's sound effects are impressive, and its pulsating soundtrack will get your adrenaline flowing. It didn't win me over, but for shooter fans looking for a real challenge, Nanotek may be just the thing. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.
The game emulates the cars' performance characteristics (allegedly) and there's an interesting "showcase" for each car, composed of narrated slides and stylish videos. I've never been a car nut, but a few of my friends were absolutely enthralled with all of this. Need For Speed earns an "A" for presentation. The attractive menu screens are well organized, and crystal clear photos of the cars are displayed during loads.
One dead giveaway that NFS is an "older" game is the fact that almost all of the tracks are unlocked from the start (yes!). In most modern racers, you begin with only one lousy track and have to painstakingly unlock the rest! Need For Speed's locales range from a desert road, to snowy mountains, to my personal favorite, a gorgeous coastal highway. The races are exciting, and even the two-player split-screen mode is respectable. There are no CPU racers in the split screen mode, but at least there's oncoming traffic to spice things up.
For the solo player there's a challenging tournament mode, and unlike modern racers with their "rubber band AI", if you fall too far behind the CPU cars you're not likely to catch up! The CPU drivers are aggressive too, running you off the road at every opportunity. One area where Need For Speed suffers is its stiff control, and it doesn't help that the analog stick is not supported.
The frame-rate is fair, but in terms of sheer velocity, the game falls short of its title. Also, the boxy cars and seams in the scenery never let you forget you're playing a 1996 game. The audio consists of generic beats and guitar jams - nothing to get excited about, but still preferable to the "extreme" soundtracks of more recent games. In the end, Need For Speed isn't the showpiece it once was, but it's still worth pulling off the shelf every now and then. © Copyright 2005 The Video Game Critic.
The gratuitous scenery also takes its toll of the frame-rate, which only rates as fair in the single-player mode and unacceptably poor in the choppy split-screen mode. Case in point is that pathetic bridge on the "Outback" track, where you can see the arches being rendered as you're driving over the freakin' thing! Even back in 1997, my friends mocked this game to no end.
Adding insult to injury, NFS2 tried to overcompensate for its stiff controls with an "arcade mode" which has the cars sliding all over the road! At least the car showcases still kick ass, featuring cool videos of the cars cruising around town to pulse-pounding beats. NFS2 was apparently trying to appeal to both the car purists and arcade crowd, but fell short on both counts. © Copyright 2005 The Video Game Critic.
It's a puzzle game in constant motion. You guide a running domino man around a "track" strewn with obstacles and targets, leaving other dominos in your wake. The idea is to situate your dominos strategically so during the next lap you can knock them down onto target squares, triggering amusing (and often bizarre) animations. The problem is, if you don't set a domino in front of a target during one lap, you know it'll take at least two more laps to hit it, and that's demoralizing.
Mr. Domino turns gray in color over time, and he'll eventually die unless you can refresh him by moving over a health square. If it sounds complicated so far, you also have to factor in a demanding obstacle course of barriers and moving hazards that spell cheap hits galore. But by far the worst part of the game is those "reset" squares that completely wipe out all of the progress you've made. It's very easy to accidentally run over these things, especially after hitting a speed boost. The control is responsive, but there's little room for error.
The stages are interesting in a Micro Machines kind of way, and highlights include a convenience store and an amusement park. The electronic music is nothing short of amazing, and the game saves your current stage and high score. As tedious and maddening as Mr. Domino can be, I can't deny that I was intrigued enough to play for several hours straight. Once you "get it", it's an absorbing experience. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.
The action is "on rails" as you view your ship from behind and enemies scale in from the horizon. The colorful landscapes you skim across look nice, especially the glacier stage with its flying ice sharks (not a typo). In addition to blasting enemies with rapid-fire weapons, you must avoid surface hazards like volcanic eruptions. Unfortunately, the swinging camera and lousy collision detection makes it almost impossible to skillfully navigate these areas (unless you memorize the patterns). It's hard to tell when you're taking damage, and by the time you hear the "shield low" warning it's usually too late.
Your smart bombs will not protect you from enemy fire, so never let your guard down. Destroyed enemies occasionally drop gold icons that give you a major (but short lived) firepower boost. A few of the bosses look amazing due to good use of smooth textures and lighting effects. My biggest gripe with Novastorm is the poorly-tuned difficulty. Under the normal difficulty it's hard to advance far enough to enjoy the good power-ups, but on easy you can breeze through the game. High scores are not recorded. Novastorm could have been a decent arcade-style shooter, but it feels a little undercooked. © Copyright 2014 The Video Game Critic.
Screen shots courtesy of IGN.com