You don't get the benefit of moving cameras or multiple angles, but the graphics are photo-realistic - making you feel like you're on a real course! The bright green fairways set against the deep blue sky are a sight to behold, and the fourteen digitized pros swing smoothly and react to their shots appropriately. PGA 96 is easy to play, with simple, responsive controls. There are occasional pauses with the disk loads, but nothing excessive. In fact, the game moves at a rather nice pace.
The audio could be better. The sound effects are virtually non-existent, with the exception of an occasional bellow of a sea lion in Spyglass hill. Could they make that sound effect any louder? It sounds like he's on your back for Pete's sake! There's a commentator, but he only chimes in before putts, and talks in a polite whisper. With fun gameplay and classic good looks, PGA Tour 96 is one golf game that should pass the test of time. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.
Pandemonium is a rather linear game, but there are occasional branches in your path. Eighteen large stages take you through dungeons, villages, forests, and caves, but these are wildly uneven in quality. The first stage is sensational, with its lush foliage, scenic waterfalls, and majestic palace. Unfortunately, the advanced stages aren't up to the same standards, and they gradually degenerate into simple caverns and boring platforms.
Pandemonium's renaissance-style music is very well orchestrated, and a handy password is displayed between stages. If I have one issue with this game, it would probably lie with the two playable characters, who are decidedly uncool. I can tolerate the girl, but that jester in the sneakers looks like a complete dork, and watching him in that corny opening video is almost creepy. Pandemonium has faded into obscurity, but its innovative style of gameplay lives on. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.
The eye candy is abundant as our hero dashes through a busy suburban neighborhood, occasionally darting through somebody's living room! You need to jump over and slide under hazards like cars, construction equipment, and moving trucks dropping furniture on the road. The game really hits its stride when you find yourself skateboarding down the hills of San Francisco while avoiding oncoming trollies. In another stage you're running toward the screen with a giant Pepsi can bearing down on you, a la Crash Bandicoot (PS1, 1998).
Unfortunately the ample eye candy soon gives way to less interesting locales like construction sites and - you guessed it - sewers. The game has its share of funny animations like when Pepsi Man gets clotheslined by a metal beam. The incessant "Pep-si Maaaan" refrain is hilarious at first but soon gets on your nerves.
Interspersed with the stages are FMV cut-scenes that seem wildly out of place. They feature a chubby white guy sitting in his easy chair scarfing down potato chips while telling you to drink Pepsi. Were they trying to make fun of Americans? That may explain why a game about an American product with English dialog was only released in Japan. Pepsiman is a fascinating piece of work, but as the novelty began to fade so did my desire to play. Note: I reviewed this game on a Playstation modified to play imports. © Copyright 2020 The Video Game Critic.
Subsequent stages offer a variety of 2D and 3D viewpoints, and I like that. The 3D stages wind through some dark valleys, and they probably looked pretty impressive back in 1996. In general the 2D stages look like crap but are more playable. You can toggle between several weapons, each of which can be powered up. The rapid-fire vulcan is the most practical weapon but wiping the screen with the laser beam is also satisfying. The stage sequence is bizarre. Sometimes it feels like you're playing the same stage (or even fighting the same boss) twice in a row! A female radio voice alerts you to approaching enemies, and yeah, she actually called that boss "Doggy House".
Save your smart bombs for the bosses, who tend to crowd the screen. I find it super lame how the larger defeated enemies just tend to smoke and drift off the screen. That doesn't satisfy my appetite for destruction. Full-motion video intermissions frequently interrupt the action, which were also pretty cool in 1996. Now you can skip them with the start button. Continues are available, but they take you way, way back. Philosoma is not particularly good, but if you enjoy shooters you might appreciate this strange, lost relic of the PS1 library. © Copyright 2013 The Video Game Critic.
As the title implies, it ditches the jungle environments for underground dungeons with magical mechanisms, floating platforms, and tacky yellow arrows that point the way. As if the arrows weren't enough, you can always follow the trail of huge blue gems. In a nod to the original Pitfall (Atari 2600, 1982), Beyond the Jungle incorporates disappearing pits, rolling logs, scorpions, and gold bars. When swinging on vines Bruce Campbell unleashes a mean Tarzan yell.
The controls are digital-only so moving diagonally can be hard on the thumb. Pitfall 3D requires you to navigate a lot of floating platforms in dark environments. Fortunately the game incorporates "whoops I almost walked off that edge technology", saving you from a lot of careless deaths. Sadly, you do not have the benefit of "ledge-grabbing jump technology". The stages are peppered with random enemies like apes, flaming skulls, pixies, and pterodactyls. I find it odd how you can't harm those puny scorpions, yet giant rock monsters go down with one blow of your pickaxe. Among the traps and hazards is a mysterious blue liquid that causes Harry to levitate over it.
The graphics are very good but depth perception is an issue when hopping between platforms. The stages are pretty big, so when you complete one you feel like you actually accomplished something! You can save after each stage and sometimes even in the middle of a stage. Bruce Campbell keeps things light with random one-liners like "Sayonara!", "Let's rock!", and "Step aside, coming though!" Pitfall 3D is fun for a while, but I grew weary of the cookie-cutter stages and ubiquitous items. Do I really need to collect all these blue diamonds and poker chips? After a while I started to wish I was back in the jungle again. © Copyright 2013 The Video Game Critic.
Most stages are only a few seconds long, challenging you to shoot a minimum number of targets. Many are holdovers from the first edition, but there are a few surprises. In one alarming stage, a car is falling out of the sky towards you, and you have to shoot it 76 times to destroy it! In another stage you have to shoot pieces of a knight's armor. In one of the single-shot stages, you're required to shoot a stopwatch once it reaches a fraction of a second.
The one-player variations are mildly amusing, but with unlimited continues, they're not much of a challenge. The two-player mode is where it's at. One major flaw with both Point Blank games is the ridiculous number of set-up screens required to begin a game. I can't even imagine trying to organize an eight player game! As with all Namco shooters, this requires a Guncon controller - the best light gun on the market. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.
Although the stages here are all new, they are highly derivative of those in previous Point Blank games. Typical challenges include protecting a person from projectiles, shooting the matching shapes, or hitting a small target with a single shot. The cartoonish 2D graphics are smoothly animated and easy on the eyes, but the wacky music can be somewhat irritating. How this game earned a "Teen" rating I have no idea, because it seems very childish.
One interesting new feature is how your performance is rated based on brainpower, dexterity, judgment, and rhythm at the end of each contest. High scores are saved for each stage, but if you're using the unlimited continues (and you will), the scores don't mean much. There are still an inordinate number of set-up screens. Point Blank 3 delivers plenty of arcade shooting action, but its novelty is wearing thin. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.
The visuals are much better than the Nintendo 64 version, with better-defined scenery and no noticeable draw-in. The music consists of understated electronic beats. Be selective when choosing your new snowmobile before each race. Go with the one with high top speed or else your three CPU competitors will crowd you out of the field. Fortunately they tend to wipe out on their own which helps level the playing field. Expect a lot of bouncing around as you bound over hills and jostle for position. The tracks are a bit on the long side but multiple paths keep things interesting.
The single-player tournament mode lets you unlock new tracks and a split-screen supports up to four players. The four-player mode is disappointing though because the first-person view makes it impossible to see your tricks. The night tracks feel like a missed opportunity. Instead of a village illuminated with holiday lights, it looks like someone just turned down the brightness on my TV. The game also seems a little buggy, locking up on one occasion. Polaris SnoCross has its problems but it's perfectly good for curling up on a cozy snowy night. © Copyright 2018 The Video Game Critic.
There are dozens of stages, and each has its own distinctive look and feel. One stage features a flat iceberg with wandering penguins, and when a penguin is hit, it places another ball into play. Power-ups include seals that handle missed balls, and a polar bear who tilts the iceberg. It's pretty wild! Another stage is set on a soccer field, where you control two sets of "paddles" at once. Advanced levels become ever more complicated, allowing you to catch and aim the balls. I like the variety of this Pong, but to be honest, the later stages are less fun than the simpler ones.
Pong's control is fair but could have been better. The analog-controlled paddles tend to gain momentum, making it impossible to reverse direction immediately. As a result, you tend to "overrun" and miss balls. Pong is an addictive one-player game, but it's the two to four-player modes that will make believers out of your friends. Hasbro deserves to be commended for bringing back this classic oldie in grand style. © Copyright 1999 The Video Game Critic.
Power Spike gets off to a good start with a short video montage featuring some hot-looking women players in action. There's a long list of men and women pros to choose from, but once the action gets under way, the first thing you notice is the lousy graphics. My friend Scott even asked "Is it possible to give the graphics an F-?". The rough, poorly rendered players do look pretty sorry.
There are several beach locations, but they all look the same, with huge crowd stands blocking what could have been some attractive scenery. But the number one problem by far is the camera. No matter what angle you select, you are always too far away! It's like watching the game from the nosebleed section! Forget about the four-player action; the two-player mode is hard enough to watch.
The sound effects are abysmal, with uneven, disjointed crowd noise. The players seem to yell unintelligible phrases like "Nobody!" for no reason. The control is a mixed bag. Players move nervously, but the control scheme makes targeting the ball easy, and I love the way you can aim your shots. If you can look past the poor graphics and sound, Power Spike does provide some decent one or two-player volleyball action. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.
Primal Rage pits dinosaurs and giant apes against each other in a post-apocalyptic world. Stylistically this has got to be one of the coolest games of its era. You have to love those huge, stop-motion animated creatures. You'd think dinosaur attacks would be limited to bite and tail whip, but the developers concocted plenty of imaginative special attacks including venom spit, freeze breath, and ground pounds.
The fascinating stages incorporate towering glaciers, volcanic ruins, and dilapidated skyscrapers. The fighting action is fine but certainly not on the same level as Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat. The controls are a little stiff and the collision detection is loose. You really need to have a special move or two under your belt to make much progress in this game.
The manual lists several for each creature, but why did they have to refer to the buttons by numbers? It would be a lot less confusing if they referred to "button X" instead of "button 3". Using the same attack too often causes a "no cheese" icon to flash, yet that didn't prevent me from liberally applying Vertigo's venom attack to take down a string of foes.
I noticed a lot of subtle details in this version of the game, like the way Sauron's tongue hangs out of his mouth or how Vertigo spits at the camera. The continue screen features a chick imploring you to keep going, and she looks a lot like Dana Plato. There's a high score screen but sadly it doesn't save to memory card. Primal Rage may go down in history as an average fighter, but the game still remains a spectacle to behold. © Copyright 2017 The Video Game Critic.
Pro 18's control scheme is overengineered. Press a button to start the half-circle swing meter, and press it again at the top to set your power. Then things get weird. For the third press you must hold in the button, causing a second green meter. This little thing fills so fast that by the time you see it, it's already full! No wonder my shots always landed in the pixelated sludge just to the right of the fairway. There's actually a second or two lag between using the meters and watching the swing animation. I do like how the ball explodes off the club like a rocket and stops on a dime. It's not very realistic but it keeps things moving.
British commentators chime in after each shot but I'm always cutting them off by pressing a button (sorry chaps!). The best club is selected for you before each shot but the game doesn't help with your aim. While putting, the hole is off-center, which is confusing. Thank goodness the hole itself tends to suck in every ball in its vicinity with its tractor beam. My first impression of the scenery was not good, as the Scotland landscape looked like a hazy, pixelated mess.
Later I discovered that was due to the randomized weather conditions. Check out these options: very foggy, foggy, misty, hazy, dull, bright, light rain, and rain. If you set the weather to anything but "bright" this game looks like garbage! Under the right conditions however the three courses are actually quite scenic, and classy piano music compliments the visuals. It took me about 16 holes to get the hang of the controls and I finished 47 over. Is that good? Pro 18 could have been better designed but sports fans looking for a challenge may want to give it a shot. © Copyright 2019 The Video Game Critic.
Project Horned Owl lets one or two players fly around in mech-like suits, destroying armies of robots in the middle of a city. Your shots travel like missiles, so you can effectively "lead" them into targets. You also have an arsenal of grenades that blow up everything on the screen. The gun accuracy is excellent considering that this game does not support Namco's Guncon. In addition, you get about fifteen bullets per round, allowing you to fire rapidly without having to reload constantly. Horned Owl's background story is presented using a series of high quality anime cutscenes. Voices accompany the on-screen action, keeping you posted on your ever-changing mission.
While the enemies are rendered as flat sprites, they still look great. When shot, the metal beasts explode convincingly and crumble to the ground as burning heaps of scrap metal. If the game has a flaw, it's the fact that it's too easy. If you use your three continues on "normal", you can beat the game in one sitting, which takes about an hour. Still, there aren't many light-gun games on the Playstation that provide this level of shooting satisfaction. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.
Classic is the original arcade version, although you can choose between the original or updated graphics (good call). Anyone who has played the original Q*Bert knows how simple yet relentlessly addicting this silly game is. In case you don't remember, Q*Bert is the orange character with the big nose who hops around a pyramid, attempting to turn all its blocks the same color. He needs to avoid a gang of wandering enemies, most notably Coily the snake.
Q*Bert's gameplay stands the test of time, and its head-to-head mode provides some enjoyable two-player simultaneous action. The Adventure mode challenges the solo player to complete some wild non-pyramid layouts, and you can save your progress between stages. This game is configurable in every way, including the control scheme. That's significant when you consider the game relies on diagonal movements. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.
Qix Neo has a decidedly intergalactic flavor, with planet surfaces serving as backdrops for each innovative stage. Instead of avoiding a roving set of twisted lines, each screen features a distinctive "boss" along with a number of smaller creatures on patrol. You're constantly being hounded but you can trap creatures for bonus points. Qix Neo is far more forgiving than the original game. The bosses assume many interesting forms, including a giant centipede and a mechanical hand. Capturing strategic boxes awards like power-ups like "micro" (decrease boss size), laser (shoot at your enemies), and speed boosts (duh!). But by far the most desirable power-up is "time", which freezes your enemies momentarily.
Despite the new wrinkles, the same basic strategy still applies. You'll want to thoughtfully section off the screen, creating alcoves to "trap" wandering adversaries. The game's otherworldly sound effects are amazing, and unlike anything I've heard before. An "arranged" playing mode is also included, offering a completely new set of stages.
Qix Neo is immensely fun and addicting, and it even saves your high scores (for both modes). The game even adjusts your bonuses based on whether you use continues or not. If I had any complaints, I might point to the lack of a two-player mode, and the fact that some scoring bonuses are a bit excessive. Still, this is easily the best version of Qix I've ever played - even better than the original! © Copyright 2005 The Video Game Critic.
Screen shots courtesy of IGN.com