Tekken's control scheme is surprisingly simple, with punch and kick buttons that map to each arm and leg. Combinations of buttons are used to execute holds and throws. Once initiated, these moves are played out automatically via a series of maneuvers that typically culminate with a nasty "crunching" finale. Dramatic camera angles make the game as fun to watch as it is to play, and the slow-motion replays are fun to watch.
Tekken's two-player versus mode is the main event, but there's also a single-player mode that lets you unlock hidden characters and view each fighter's full-motion-video ending. For once, these endings are actually worth watching! Although only released a few months after the popular Battle Arena Toshinden, Tekken beats that game in a Pepsi challenge hands-down. © Copyright 1999 The Video Game Critic.
Gameplay involves moving a claw-shaped cannon around 3D geometric shapes, firing rapidly at creatures scaling in from the distance. The particle effects are amazing and there's so much razzle-dazzle it occasionally obstructs your view. Half the time you can't even tell how you lost a life! Tempest X3 differs slightly from the Jaguar original. The polygon panels are not solid but have some kind of swirling oil-slick pattern. A new power-up called the "Megadroid" is a juiced-up version of the AI droid, providing a powerful temporary ally. The green spikes that were a non-factor in the Jaguar game pose much more danger here.
Tempest X3 begs for analog control but the game was released before Playstation controllers were outfitted with that option. The digital pad doesn't feel right, so on hunch I pulled out my old Nyko Trackball controller out of the closet. It works like a charm! I suspect this device was designed for Tempest X3 because the control is so smooth and precise! Bump up the grade by one letter if you own one of these controllers.
Tempest X3 includes all the modes from Tempest 2000, but the traditional mode looks tiny for some reason. I like the high score screen but wish it was broken out by mode. All things considered Tempest X3 is a strong title for those who crave "twitch" games. My friends joked that since the Playstation stole its best game, there's no reason left to ever own a Jaguar. I think they were joking. © Copyright 2016 The Video Game Critic.
I love how the ball rumbles down the lane, and the background chatter of people makes you feel like you're in a real bowling alley. The physics and sound effects of the ball hitting the pins is exceptionally realistic. Numerous options allow you to adjust minor details like ball weight, lane slickness, and background music. There's even a brief promo video for the Bowling Hall of Fame in St. Louis. Up to six players can takes turns in Ten Pin Alley. I really thought my friends would have a blast with this, but they weren't patient enough to sit through a whole game, so maybe this isn't as fun as I first thought. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.
Prior to each you stock up on supplies like smoke bombs, grenades, mines, and poison rice. I prefer to stock up on throwing stars and health packs, as they are more conducive to my "aggressive" ninja style. I hate how the game won't let you reuse items you used during the previous game. You actually need to reboot just to get a full selection of stuff!
Tenchu's stages take place in fenced compounds that are annoyingly dark. The idea is to creep over rooftops and down dark alleys unseen, but that's easier said than done. It's hard as hell to spot enemies, yet quite easy for them to detect you! At first I thought evasion was an option, but you're actually required to kill a certain number of enemies. You don't have to do it in a stealth manner, but it's a heck of a lot better for your health if you do! For some reason I always end up in sword fights.
Button-mashing lets you dish out some potent attacks, providing you can keep your target in front of you. When you deal a fatal blow the display of blood is crazy. Not only does it shoot out like a geyser, but it runs down the nearest wall! My main problem with Tenchu is its clunky controls. The lack of analog support (!) makes it hard to move with precision. Holding O puts you in stealth mode, but then you move like a snail which is no fun at all! The aiming controls are haphazard, often pointing to the sky by default. I feel bad about all the dogs I killed in Tenchu. Maybe being a real ninja isn't all it's cracked up to be. I think I'll keep my day job. © Copyright 2017 The Video Game Critic.
So why did The Lost World have to be so [expletive] difficult and frustrating!? Didn't anybody bother to play-test this thing? Depending on the stage you'll control a small scampering dinosaur called a small "compy", a vicious raptor, a rampaging T-Rex, or a human. The early levels emphasize precision platform jumping but the control is lacking. When touched by one of your numerous adversaries control goes out the window altogether.
In addition, some of the branching paths make you feel like you're moving in circles. You'll use every bad word in your vocabulary before reaching the highly-anticipated human and T-Rex stages. You'd think controlling a T-Rex would be awesome but the novelty wears off quickly once you eat a few people. Lost World may have spared no expense in terms of presentation, but playing the game feels more like an ordeal. © Copyright 2018 The Video Game Critic.
For the next nine stages you're a small but fleet-of-foot "compy" dinosaur, scampering through lush jungles, hopping between rocky ledges, and mauling small creatures when necessary. Lost World was an early example of 2.5D gameplay, with fluid animation and shifting camera angles that were absolutely mind-blowing in the late 90's. The compy stages begin to lose their charm once you start running into other creatures like raptors and flying insects.
The collision detection is awful! Sometimes you can leap over several raptors in a single bound and sometimes you'll get bounced between them like a pinball. The stage where you walk between the legs of a herd of Brachiosaurus was always amazing to me, but did they really need to include extra hazards like poisonous red plants and rolling rocks? In the next set of stages you play as a human hunter, but your default weapon is useless.
The fun of the raptor stages is undermined by exploding crates and beds of spikes. Biting humans is less-than-satisfying because instead of clutching them in your jaws you just sort of bite through them. Only a marginal improvement, this Special Edition proves just how fundamentally flawed the game was (and still is). © Copyright 2018 The Video Game Critic.
The action begins in a dark tomb where you can only see a few feet ahead, even with a torch. When I stumbled upon two guys I immediately pulled out my guns and shot them dead. They were grave robbers... right? Not many games let you brandish a pair of pistols right off the bat, but I think I like it! Later you'll face mummies which absorb more shots. The machete is my weapon of choice, allowing you to hack away at multiple foes at a time. The game had a habit of dropping enemies behind you while during combat, and that's bad news. Once you get surrounded you're toast.
The craggy tombs are nicely rendered with spooky lighting and artistic engravings, but limited visibility makes each feel like a repetitive maze. The game quickly falls into a pattern of slaying creeps, grabbing items, pressing a switch, and moving on to the next room. The analog control is a lot better than digital but gauging jumps is tricky. Once I died for no apparent reason, and then it dawned on me I was standing on lava. The sweeping orchestrated music adds weight but the voice actors don't sound like the actors in the film. The Mummy isn't terrible but the ravages of time have not been kind to its rinse-and-repeat gameplay. © Copyright 2018 The Video Game Critic.
The load screen displays a playful animation of Itchy and Scratchy pounding each other with mallets - so far so good. The cast of playable "wrestlers" includes Homer, Barney, Apu, Krusty, Willie, Bart, Lisa, and Marge. The fighting moves are obviously zany in nature. Homer brandishes a bowling ball, Bart shoots a slingshot, Krusty wields a mallet, and Marge swings a frying pan. Yet the bulk of each match consists of both fighters slapping each other silly as their health meters slowly erode away.
The confusing control scheme lends itself to rampant button mashing. Painstakingly collecting five letters allows you to "taunt" your opponent with an unfunny jibe ("in your face, loser!"). What is the point? The scenery is remarkably dull and the random voice quips are lame. Matches drag on and on, and just when you think you've put your opponent away he'll snatch a health power-up!
Even pinning him is not good enough to end the misery; you have to do it twice! This game is absolute torture! The animation is choppy, the collision detection loose, and fighters tend to face the wrong direction. And then there's the whole matter of watching Homer slap around Marge, which is beyond disturbing. There is a price to be paid for playing Simpson's Wrestling, and rest assured it's far more than three bucks. © Copyright 2018 The Video Game Critic.
The rapid-fire shooting feels like Thunder Force alright, with familiar weapons like the wave, hunter, and backshot. The new "free range" weapon lets you awkwardly maneuver a cone-shaped wire frame around your ship, obliterating anything in the cone when you fire. When used correctly it makes short work of bosses. I noticed the satellite "claw" power-up is now referred to as "craw", as if the Japanese developers just got sick and tired of trying to pronounce it right.
Thunder Force V's rapid-fire action is crazy intense with enemies emerging from all over, including the background. It's pretty overwhelming and the weapon/score graphics on top tend to obstruct your view. The 3D graphics deliver some cool sights like motorcycles spinning out and alien monkeys swinging around, but how are you supposed to avoid that monkey when he's lunging all over the screen?
The crisp explosions look amazing but I was turned off by the muddy, indistinct stages. Between the layers of grainy scenery, scaling enemies, and swinging camera angles, it's hard to tell where your ship fits in. Too often you'll collide with unseen environmental hazards. The music is high energy but lacking distinctive melodies. You get several continues and high scores are recorded with initials. Thunder Force V brings the franchise into 3D kicking and screaming, but it just makes you want to go back and play the old 2D games. © Copyright 2020 The Video Game Critic.
The visual effects of moving above and below the water surface are convincing and I really like those bubble sound effects. The missions offer a series of targets to seek out and destroy, but that's easier said than done. Unfortunately the game was released before the Playstation analog controller, and it's hard to aim with the digital pad. Oh sure you have lock-on missiles, but they are useless! Am I out of ammo or does this weapon just plain suck?
Your more effective option - by far - is your machine gun. Hell, you can sink an entire destroyer by focusing your fire on it for a few seconds! When a ship sinks and hits the sea floor it sends shock waves that knock your ship around. Couple that with the fact that you're constantly taking fire from unseen sources, and you have a recipe for sheer frustration. Sometimes my ship seems to stop for no apparent reason, making me a sitting duck. And there are precious few power-ups to renew your armor.
The radar is confusing and that green arrow will send you on wild goose chase. Messages on the screen instruct you to do things like "Destroy Russian tap 1." Am I supposed to know what that is?! When you die, you restart the entire mission from the very beginning, which is truly demoralizing. Tigershark is one of those games you want to like but it fights you every step of the way. © Copyright 2016 The Video Game Critic.
The action is smooth and controls well, but the gameplay is strictly by-the-numbers, with no power-ups, grenades, or hidden items to spice up the action. There are two minor new features. The first lets you switch hiding positions when facing bosses, but this adds little in the way of strategy. The other is a consecutive hit counter on the top left of the screen. I don't know if it affects the gameplay at all, but I couldn't resist seeing how many hits I could make in a row. For a light gun game, Project Titan serves its purpose but doesn't break any new ground, and that may be good enough for most gamers. Note: You'll need Namco's Guncon to play this one. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.
Besides the standard martial artists, there are extra-terrestrial characters that look like they were pulled from the Cantina scene in Star Wars. Characters vary a great deal in size and shape, giving each a totally unique feel. One of the bosses is positively huge! Although both fighters are always facing each other, they have the ability to move around freely.
The battles are played out on raised platforms, and falling off the edge is easy to do. Actually, the main strategy of one of the bosses is to push you off! Tobal's graphics are simple but remarkably clean, making this game quite easy on the eyes. The background music is also quite good. Tobal No.1 is no joke, and if you're a serious fighting fan, this game belongs in your collection. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.
Three tracks let you weave around buildings, under overpasses, and through lighted tunnels. If the sense of speed seems modest, it might be because the whole idea is to gradually upgrade your car. The first race takes place against a bright blue sky but day quickly turns to night. I thought that was pretty nifty until it got light again... during the same race! The laps are long but they're not that long!
Precision digital steering makes it easy to "thread the needle" between trucks, but power sliding via the L2 button is tricky. You tend to lose control and struggle to straighten back up. Still, it's fun to weave through traffic - at least until that aggressive prick in the sports car shows up. That's your rival. He's not easy to beat because he stays close and one slip-up will sling-shot him right past you.
I was disappointed with the scenery, which is seriously lacking in the razzle-dazzle department. I've never been to Tokyo but I assume all the buildings are plastered with sparkling neon ads and flashing videos. Instead you're just cruising down an unremarkable highway with an unconvincing skyline twinkling in the distance.
The soundtrack is a hodgepodge of beats, guitars, and scratches, and while it's better than Ridge Racer that almost goes without saying. Upgrading your car between races is confusing. Why does it keep telling me the part I want to buy is incompatible?! Tokyo Highway Battle is mediocre. It's plenty of arcade racing fun without any of the eye candy. Note: This game would not run on my PS2. © Copyright 2020 The Video Game Critic.
The controls have aged less well. You're forced to use the directional pad which feels clumsy. Maneuvering Lara into perfect position for a jump can be frustrating, especially while fighting for a decent camera angle. And there's nothing worse than trying to jump up straight up and accidentally vaulting sideways... off a cliff. One thing Lara does exceptionally well is run forward, which sadly leads to a lot of smacking face-first into walls (oomph!).
Tomb Raider begins in the caves of Peru which happen to be infested with bats, wolves, and terrifying bears. The cave interiors are rendered with pixelated textures but excellent lighting effects exude a tremendous atmosphere. You never know what's lurking in the shadows! Unfortunately the severe pixelation can make it hard to locate critical keyholes and levers. The gameplay is exciting. Whenever the music kicks in it sends my heart racing, knowing danger was afoot.
The first time I saw that T-Rex coming towards me I realized this wasn't your standard Indiana Jones fare! Combat would be very frustrating if not for Lara's dual-pistols and nifty auto-aim. The puzzles incorporate a lot of keys, levers, and block-sliding. Medical packs replenish your health meter but don't get lulled into a false sense of security, as falling any appreciable distance means instant death. All the health packs in the world won't help when you're a crumpled heap on the rocks.
There's approximately 20 to 30 minutes of action between save points which is perfect. The game also deserves a lot of credit for its cleverly-designed 3D environments. Everything tends to fit together very well and many areas wrap around on themselves to minimize backtracking. Tomb Raider is not for the faint of heart, but if you're up for adventure, strap yourself in for one hell of a ride. © Copyright 2020 The Video Game Critic.
A grim darkness pervades the entire game, ostensibly in the name of "realism". You constantly need to light flares to see anything. The new save system lets you save any time, but apparently this was used as an excuse to ratchet up the difficulty. Expect a lot of annoying timed switches which leave zero room for error. I found myself saving so often I actually prefer the original system! The levels are expansive but you'll get tired of wandering around trying to figure out what to do next. The upside-down ship has an interesting Poseidon Adventure vibe but in general the game's graphics are flat-out ugly. Even exotic locales like Venice, the Opera House, and an Ice Palace look depressing.
There are a few driving stages (including a snowmobile chase) sprinkled in to provide a welcome respite. Most of your foes are human this time around, although you will also encounter tigers, yeti, and sharks. The game has its share of epic moments but the areas between those are arduous. It originally took me two full months to complete Tomb Raider II and it left me exhausted. Taking two steps back for each step forward, this unforgiving sequel was clearly rushed out the door to cash in on the original's success. © Copyright 2020 The Video Game Critic.
The new analog controls are so inexact I found myself reverting to the clunky digital pad. Switches are hard to see on walls because frankly they don't even look like switches. Likewise electrified platforms don't appear dangerous until you stand on them and keel over. It's hard to tell what item you're picking up because the game doesn't bother to tell you. The save system feels like a compromise between the first two games, letting you collect "save game crystals" which function like the ink ribbons in Resident Evil (PS1, 1995).
Huge new stages are set in London, Antarctica, and Nevada. Somewhere in Area 51 I began thinking wispfully about the simple tombs of the original game. Experts will savor the challenge but casual gamers are in for an ordeal. I find it telling that the bulk of the manual is dedicated to ads for Eidos games and merchandise. There's even a Tomb Raider III tip line! Clearly Eidos wanted to milk their cash cow for all it was worth. High on difficulty but low on fun, Tomb Raider III was the first Tomb Raider game I failed to complete, even to this day. © Copyright 2020 The Video Game Critic.
Its friendly graphics are 3D-rendered but the action takes place on layered 2D planes. For example, at the start of the game Tomba moves side to side in front of a fence, but later he can run behind the fence. It works pretty well although it's not always evident where you can and can't go.
The controls are extremely crisp and responsive. Tomba can bash enemies with his mace, pounce on them, and hurl them into walls. He can latch onto just about any wall, plant, or animal, and it looks like he's trying to hump them. It's especially disturbing when he latches onto those pink, ass-shaped flowers. Did the programmers do that on purpose?
The game can be amusing, but you spend too much time running tedious errands. Everybody's like "collect these" and "find that". You'll need to scour every nook and cranny of the stage to locate items, but fortunately the areas tend to be very constrained. This game doesn't make a whole lot of sense. There are these puff balls hanging from some trees, and once when I pulled on one a dwarf fell out of the tree!
You'll need to collect a lot of unusual items including "evil pig bags" (I knew I forgot something from the grocery store!) Overall I found Tomba's nonsense more aggravating than endearing. I think President Obama put it best when he said, "Look, I have better things to do than hump flowers and yank on puff balls." Nope, he never said that. © Copyright 2011 The Video Game Critic.
You need to complete certain actions to progress and it's easy to get stuck. Fortunately the stages are small and confined so it's possible to explore every nook and cranny. The treasure-hunting aspect is great fun, and jumping between chains in the mine stage has a nice Donkey Kong Junior vibe. Fans of the original will be disappointed with the degraded graphics however. Since the game is now fully rendered in 3D polygons, the characters and objects take on a more pixelated, angular appearance.
Your movements are still confined to 2D planes, but now there are now "crossroad" areas (designated by arrows) that let you change direction. This system allows for more sophisticated level designs but it can be awkward and disorienting. The developers included a few areas where you can move freely about, but navigating these areas is a chore thanks to a misbehaving camera.
Some of the platform jumping tested my patience. I guess it's not so much the jumping that bothers me as it is all of the missing. The fact that you can't adjust the camera is a problem, and falling into water is deadly. Tomba 2 lets you save your progress at designated spots, and the music is exceptionally good, especially in the coal-mining town. It never quite lives up to its promise, but fans with a lot of patience are in for a satisfying romp. © Copyright 2011 The Video Game Critic.
The graphics are excellent, and the camera always seems to be in the right place. The music will really pump your adrenaline, with classic jams from punk rock bands like the Dead Kennedys and Suicidal Tendencies. No question about it - this is some of the best music I've ever heard in a video game. But the real star is the well-designed control scheme, which makes it easy to pull off some really eye-popping maneuvers. Like any good video game, it's easy to play, but mastering Pro Skater takes some serious practice.
There's a great two-player split screen mode, but the heart of this game is the Career Mode, which challenges you to achieve five elusive goals in each location. Completing these goals unlocks additional levels and features. Typical goals include racking up a certain number of points, destroying a number of objects, finding five letters, or locating hidden objects. Tony Hawk's Pro Skater is a modern classic that had a huge impact on the industry. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.
Even so, Treasures of the Deep is still occasionally exciting thanks to its variety of sea creatures, collectable items, and hidden areas. The murky ocean water looks realistic and is teeming with life. You can blast monsters and subs with torpedoes, and an easy-to-deploy net lets you secure treasures and send them to the surface. Some stages are enormous, but an overhead map helps track your position.
I enjoyed the game's treasure-hunting gameplay, but you need to complete the missions in order, and you will get stuck in the most annoying ones. Treasures of the Deep features a jazzy musical soundtrack that doesn't match what you're seeing on the screen. Gamers with an interest in scuba diving or marine biology might find Treasures interesting, but those looking for fast action should look elsewhere. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.
Prior to each event you're briefed by a big Hulk Hogan-wannabe who provides ample text to page through. I prefer snowboarding games that give you freedom to explore, but Trick'n is heavily regimented. The courses are so narrow you may find yourself bouncing off the walls! There are several marked jumps along each course where you're required to perform a stunt - sometimes a specific stunt.
Analog controls make it easy to carve the powder but it's annoying having to constantly re-orient your board via the shoulder buttons. Pressing square (not X) to jump took me a while to get used to, and the timing is tough because ramps aren't well-defined. In the air you press O to flip, X to hold, and the trigger to spin. It's actually pretty hard to wipe out, as you nearly always land on your feet. I was doing pretty well until stage four when Hulk told me to pull off a 540 degree spin and I didn't know how!
Still, Trick'n Snowboarder has its appeal. The courses feature a lot of extreme terrain, changing weather conditions, and time-of-day lighting variations. In Argentina you actually snowboard through a freaking thunderstorm. The framerate is impressively smooth with a nice sense of speed.
Free mode allows you to race on any course and saves records for both trick points and fastest time. The versus mode is a let-down, lacking any sensation of speed as well as any CPU competitors. The game's audio track features low-budget hip hop beats and repetitive voice samples. Overall Trick'n Snowboarder is a good-looking game that's just a little too hard to play. © Copyright 2020 The Video Game Critic.
The stages range from a stadium, to a suburban neighborhood, to the rooftops of buildings. Twisted Metal's graphic quality is uneven. The vehicles look great but the scenery is heavily pixelated. Normally you view the action from just behind your car, but you can also play the game from an amazing first-person perspective! While the interiors and dashboards look remarkable, this view is less than playable because you can't tell what's going on.
But the biggest problem with Twisted Metal is its frame-rate. Even in the single player mode, the choppiness makes it difficult to maintain control. The control scheme is well-designed, and the head-banging music is not bad. Audio effects include a distinctive signature sound for each vehicle - so you'll know who hit you. Twisted Metal was a truly innovative title that begat a long, popular series. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.
The new vehicle lineup includes a family truckster (remember that from the movie Vacation?), a UFO-looking hover bike, and Rob Zombie's "Dragula" mobile. Rob Zombie performed the music for this game, and it turns my stomach. The eight battlegrounds are a step up from those in the third installment. Highlights include a bedroom level where you battle it out Toy Story style. My personal favorite is the Carnival, featuring a haunted house and a roller coaster!
Unfortunately, the main game engine hasn't evolved much, and its pixelated tracks and crude collision detection should have been better. The game has its share of bugs, and I even had to restart a game after getting stuck in a wall. With Twisted Metal 4, the series seemed to be wearing out its welcome. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.
The vehicles are based on the classic Twisted Metal cars, but simpler and more cartoonish. The imaginative battlefields include a playground, fun house, kitchen, and miniature golf course. Since they tend to be small, you aren't likely to get lost or lose track of your opponents. The gameplay is classic Twisted Metal - tough but addicting. You get three lives in each stage, and believe me - you'll need them all. Audio-wise, the background music seems inspired by "classic" Twisted Metal tunes (no Rob Zombie this time).
So what's the problem? It's the graphics. You'd think that by the fifth Twisted Metal incarnation on the Playstation, they would at least be able to maintain a decent framerate, but no. The action gets terribly choppy, and the two-player split screen mode is almost unplayable. The physics is so lousy that your car will sometimes float through the air and take forever to land. Even the background scenery is sloppy and full of seams. Small Brawl is an interesting turn for the series, but there's no excuse for these ugly visuals. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.
Screen shots courtesy of IGN.com