system Index C
Capcom Classics Collection Vol 1
Grade: A-
Publisher: Capcom (2005)
Reviewed: 2005/11/15
Rating: Teen (violence)

screenshotI'm truly impressed with the generous selection of quality games offered in this outstanding compilation. At $20, this is an absolute steal. The 22 titles and numerous extras are attractively presented via a "hand-drawn" user interface, making Midway's compilations look slapped together by comparison. Not only are these oldies extremely fun to play, but they convey a history lesson of sorts. Gamers will recall most of these titles by their NES incarnations, but these are the arcade-perfect originals. You might expect the antiquated graphics to look crude and pixelated, but in fact they appear very smooth and attractive. Not all the games are "classics", but all have some degree of play value. 1942 (grade: C-) is a simple yet fun vertical airplane shooter game with the worst audio effects ever heard in a video game. It sounds like someone continuously blowing a whistle! 1943 (B) is a major improvement, with an easier difficulty level, two-player co-op, devastating "smart bombs", and a catchy musical soundtrack. While I welcome the addition of the health bar, did they have to put it on the frickin' playfield where it obstructs the action? Bionic Commando (B), a popular shooter on the NES, features a hero with extendable metal arms used to pull himself onto platforms. Commando (B) is a Rambo-style vertical shooter where you mow down approaching soldiers while tossing grenades into their bunkers. Exed Exes (D+) is a thoroughly forgettable vertical shooter similar to 1942, except with an insect theme and headache-inducing music. Final Fight (A) is one of the true highlights of the collection. I've played the SNES version of this side-scrolling brawler, but the graphics here are far crisper and the two-player action is terrific. Forgotten Worlds (A) is an under-appreciated side-scrolling shooter where you sport a jet pack and can rotate and fire in any direction. The futuristic scenery looks awesome, and the rapid-fire two-player mode is seriously intense. Ghosts N' Goblins (B) is an old favorite where you're a sword-throwing, armored knight traversing graveyards, forests, mountains, and caves. Despite the game's insane difficulty level, you always find yourself wanting to play "just one more time". Its sequel, Ghouls and Ghosts (A), features richer graphics and better control (you can shoot up instead of just sideways). Super Ghouls and Ghosts (A-) is the single non-arcade entry on this compilation. It's actually the SNES version, which incorporates some interesting new stages and a useful double jump move. Gun Smoke (C) is similar to Commando, but takes place in the Wild West, and you fire your two pistols in a number of trajectory combinations. I found Gun Smoke somewhat frustrating because your shots have such limited range. Legendary Wings (C) features both vertical and side-scrolling shooting action, but is otherwise unremarkable. Mercs (A) is a turbo-charged version of Commando, with stages that scroll in all directions, huge mechanical bosses, and insane firepower. Pirate Ship Higemaru (B-) is a cute maze game with an easy-going style and bouncy musical theme that makes it hard to dislike. Section Z (C-) is a forgettable side-scrolling shooter, although this version is certainly better than the NES translation. Son Son (D) is a little-known side-scrolling platformer where you leap between platforms while shooting enemies and grabbing fruit. While fast and easy to play, I didn't find it too compelling. Trojan (B-) is a seriously tough post-apocalyptic side-scroller that lets you position a shield to protect yourself from projectiles. Vulgus (C), yet another vertical shooter, was Capcom's very first game. It's unexceptional (there are no power-ups), but certainly playable. Street Fighter 2 (A) is probably the best game on the disk, but doesn't everybody already own several versions of this? The three included here are original, championship, and hyper fighting. Capcom includes background information for each game, but other extras, such as tips, artwork, and music, need to be unlocked. I could only find one flaw with this excellent package: you can't adjust the number of continues. All of these games feature infinite continues, which waters down the challenge to a huge degree. Even when you don't want to use the continues, you'll often trigger one accidentally via the X button. Despite that oversight, this package is a no-brainer for any serious video game fan. © Copyright 2005 The Video Game Critic.
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If you like this game, try: Capcom Classics Collection Vol. 1 (Xbox)
Street Fighter Collection 2 (Playstation)
Capcom Classics Remixed (PSP)
Capcom Classics Collection Vol 2 (Playstation 2)
Namco Museum Volume 1 (Playstation)

Capcom Classics Collection Vol 2
Grade: A
Publisher: Capcom (2006)
Reviewed: 2007/1/5
Rating: Teen (animated blood, violence) 1 or 2 players

screenshotLike the first Capcom Classics, this 20-game collection is chock-full of fine arcade titles from the late 80's and early 90's. Despite a few clunkers, Volume 2 is a remarkable value. 1941 is an outstanding vertical airplane shooter that's actually a sequel to 1942 and 1943 (go figure). Varth is very similar and just as fun. Avengers is an outrageously bad punch-and-kick game with an ill-advised overhead perspective. Black Tiger plays like a second-rate Ghouls and Ghosts, and Block Block is a very good Breakout clone. Captain Commando is an engaging side-scrolling brawler in the tradition of Final Fight, only it's set in a goofy, futuristic world. Eco Fighters is an unusual side-scrolling shooter that lets you aim your cannon using the right thumbstick. King of Dragons and Knights of the Round are two excellent medieval side-scrolling hack-and-slash games along the lines of Sega's Golden Axe. Magic Sword is similar, but has a frenzied, breakneck pace that took me by surprise. Mega Twins is whimsical platform game that I didn't find particularly appealing. Last Duel plays like a futuristic Bump N Jump as you speed down a futuristic track while blasting enemies and jumping over pits. Quiz and Dragons is the oddball of the bunch, awkwardly incorporating pop trivia into a medieval-themed board game. As a nice bonus, a Capcom trivia version is also included. Side Arms is a conventional side-scrolling space shooter, but it's still a blast. The original Street Fighter is mainly interesting for historical reasons, but Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo represents the true pinnacle of the series. Another old favorite, Strider is a superb platform slasher with a wall-clinging hero. The side-scrolling karate fighter Tiger Road manages to be both confusing and simplistic, and it's probably the weakest entry in the package. Speed Rumbler is another throwaway title. Three Wonders is a pleasant surprise, providing a nice combination of platform, shooting, and puzzle action. It could easily have been broken up into three individual titles. Capcom Classics Volume 2 has plenty of bonuses to unlock, an auto-save mechanism, and each game is fully configurable. Just be sure to turn off that bogus "infinite continue" option (it's on by default). No question about it, this is a lot of gaming action for your money. Note to PSP owners: There's a significant overlap between this package and the recently released Capcom Classics Remixed. © Copyright 2007 The Video Game Critic.
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Rating: Teen (animated blood, violence) 1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: Capcom Classics Collection Vol. 2 (Xbox)
Capcom Classics Remixed (PSP)
Capcom Belt Action Collection (Nintendo Switch)
Capcom Classics Collection Vol. 1 (Xbox)
Golden Axe (Genesis)

Capcom Fighting Evolution
Grade: D+
Publisher: Capcom (2004)
Reviewed: 2006/7/29
Rating: Teen (suggestive themes, violence)

screenshotI'd love to know what Capcom was thinking when they conceived of Evolution, because it doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me. This one-on-one 2D fighter contains a hodgepodge of characters from several Capcom fighting franchises, including Street Fighter 2, Street Fighter Alpha, Darkstalkers, and Street Fighter 3. What's new is a group of fighters from something called "Red Earth", a fighting game that was never released in America. A new hottie by the name of Ingrid is thrown in for good measure. There have been plenty of other Capcom "compilation" fighters dating back to the Dreamcast in 1999, including the Capcom vs SNK and Marvel vs. Capcom games. But compared to Marvel Vs. Capcom 2's 56-man roster, Evolution's 21-character lineup seems downright paltry. With only four fighters from each franchise, this seems more like a sampler platter. I suppose it could have been justified if only the best fighters were included, but that is definitely not the case. Zangeif is one of the Street Fighter 2 representatives, yet he's generally regarded as the least popular fighter of that series. The Darkstalkers cast includes Anakaris, a shape-changing mummy who's probably the cheapest fighter ever conceived. The oversized Red Earth monsters seem totally out of place. The hulking T-Rex looks great but is poorly animated, and most of his matches are a farce. The indiscernible Hydron is such a confusing mess that it prompted my friend Scott to inquire, "What the hell am I, an octopus?" In addition to the odd mishmash of characters, Evolution's backgrounds aren't too exciting either. While some stages are mildly interesting (like the vampire castle or jungle) others like the subway station are awfully bland. There's minimal animation, and in the poorly rendered waterfront stage, you can actually see seams in the night sky! Capcom Evolution is a questionable release, and in my opinion a big step back. © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.
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If you like this game, try: Darkstalkers 3 (Playstation)
Darkstalkers (Playstation)
Street Fighter Anniversary Collection (Playstation 2)
Capcom Vs. SNK (Dreamcast)
Street Fighter Alpha 2 (Saturn)

Capcom Vs. SNK 2
Grade: B-
Publisher: Capcom (2001)
Reviewed: 2002/1/22

screenshotI loved the first Capcom Vs. SNK (Dreamcast, 2000), but now the formula seems to be wearing thin. This time there are more than 44 fighters, but Capcom has by far surpassed the point of diminishing return. Unlike Marvel Vs. Capcom, I don't know who most of these people are, and in some cases, I can't tell the males from the females! Some characters seem a bit out of place, like the sword-wielding warrior from Samurai Showdown. When you put him up against Sakura in her cute little schoolgirl outfit, and it just doesn't seem right. The background stages are almost completely in 3D, and while skeptical at first, their amazing effects won me over. For example, when fighting in the Nairobi desert, there are jeeps that zoom in from the distance and jump right over the fighters! Few stages are that good however, and there are far fewer stages than there are fighters. Capcom has come a long way with the backgrounds, but I can't say the same about the fighters, who haven't changed much in 10 years. The pixilated sprites actually look out of place in front of the smooth polygon backdrops. Capcom Vs. SNK 2 has no shortage of playing modes, and you can fight one-on-one as well as three-on-three. The controls are pretty straightforward, with the exception of the "groove" systems that let you perform special attacks. There are six different groove systems in all, and I don't understand any one of them - guess I'm just too old school. As far as the audio goes, I wasn't impressed with the cheesy music or the annoying announcer. If you're looking for a 2D fighter, Capcom Vs. SNK 2 delivers the goods, but I think this cow has been milked enough. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.
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If you like this game, try: Capcom Vs. SNK (Dreamcast)
Capcom Fighting Evolution (Playstation 2)
Capcom Vs. SNK 2 EO (Xbox)
Marvel Vs. Capcom (Dreamcast)
SNK Vs. Capcom: SVC Chaos (Xbox)

Castle Shikigami 2
Grade: C+
Publisher: XS Games (2004)
Reviewed: 2008/6/8
Rating: Everyone

screenshotThe predecessor to this game was marketed as "Mobile Light Force 2" in America, which explains why the manual refers to this as "Mobile Light Force 3" on occasion. Castle Shikigami 2 (CS2) doesn't try to hide its anime roots, and the group of characters on its cover would almost suggest an RPG. But no, CS2 is an over-the-top 2D vertical shooter where you control flying people instead of aircraft. Your adversaries tend to be floating metal objects, and boss characters are often people surrounded by force fields. If the dialogue is any indication, everybody in this game is crazy. "Always unbelievable! Don't forget in hell!" "I'm so pissed! Stop making trouble. Kicking your butts." "I am Dandeon. Keeping it a fool-free zone." Despite the eye-rolling-inducing dialogue, the game itself is pretty fun as you unleash rapid-fire shots against waves of dense but slow-moving enemies and projectiles. The "tension bonus system" heats up the action by drastically intensifying your firepower when you avoid narrow scrapes. Destroyed enemies drop coins, but the tiny numbers displayed as you collect these are hard to see. The city and castle stages look great, but the maze-like areas with shifting walls are just plain annoying. The six playable characters each offer a unique experience, although the repetitive "meow" sounds of Nigi Gorgeous Blue will get on your nerves after about ten seconds. Shikigami 2 records high scores as long as you don't use continues, and I like how it combines the scores of both players in the two-player simultanous mode. I always enjoy games like this, but my friends were far less impressed. Shikigami doesn't hold a candle to classic shooters like Thunder Force 3 (Genesis) or Lords of Thunder (Turbografx), but hey, this is the PS2, so we'll take what we can get. © Copyright 2008 The Video Game Critic.
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If you like this game, try: Mobile Light Force 2 (Playstation 2)
Castle of Shikigami III (Wii)
Battle Crust (Dreamcast)
Bangai-O (Dreamcast)
Lords of Thunder (CD) (Turbografx-16)

Castlevania Lament of Innocence
Grade: D
Publisher: Konami (2003)
Reviewed: 2003/12/26
Rating: Mature (blood, violence)

screenshotI find it amusing how certain video game magazines are forced to give this mediocre game a high score after shamelessly hyping it for months (serves them right). The Castlevania series has a long, proud 2D tradition, but it has yet to excel in the 3D realm, and Lament continues its descent into mediocrity. Sure, the two Nintendo 64 Castlevania games were in 3D, but those failed to convey the gorgeous visuals and polish that the series was known for. Lament of Innocence looks terrific, but there are more fundamental issues with this long-anticipated game. Let's start with the lengthy, overwrought introduction, along with its awful exposition. I don't know why Konami bothered with the pages and pages of background text, when in fact this is just your standard "rescue the girl" scenario. Of the two main characters, one looks like a chick and the other looks like Michael Jackson! What's up with that? Once the action begins, you'll see a lot of familiar monsters, including puking zombies, lizard men, sword-wielding skeletons, winged demons, and floating eyeballs. The scenery is attractive enough, but no more impressive than anything we've seen in the Devil May Cry games (Capcom). All the traditional moves are at your disposal (including the double-jump), and the auto-aim keeps you locked onto enemies. There's even a portal room that lets you move between different stages. It may sound good on paper, but in terms of fun, Lament doesn't hold a candle to its 2D relatives. For one thing, the camera is completely out of your control. You'll struggle to see certain areas and often find yourself blindsided by off-screen foes. It was easy to strike candles to reveal items in the 2D games, but in this case the candles are scattered around each room, and it's hardly worth the effort to run around to each one. Monsters simply drop out of the ceilings, and then regenerate when you re-enter rooms. In the 2D games, you had no choice but to battle them since they blocked your way, but here you can mostly just run around the whole mob and avoid the aggravation. In addition, the game has a lot of tedious backtracking, and you're forced to use an ill conceived "real time window" to select items in the heat of battle. On a positive note, there are some devastating weapons, and the beautifully-orchestrated, pulse-pounding musical score is extraordinary. But despite its polished presentation, Lament of Innocence's gameplay does not live up to the Castlevania legacy. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.
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If you like this game, try: Castlevania (Nintendo 64)
Castlevania: Curse of Darkness (Xbox)
Venture II The Abysmal Abyss (Atari 2600)
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (Playstation)
Devil May Cry (Playstation 2)

City Crisis
Grade: D+
Publisher: Take 2 (2001)
Reviewed: 2003/9/20
Rating: Everyone (mild animated violence)

screenshotThis old Playstation 2 game was hailed as a new breed of video game with innovative gameplay and minimal violence. It didn't start any new trends, but I must admit that City Crisis is a different bird. Piloting a rescue helicopter, you respond to emergency calls from around a city, fighting fires and airlifting civilians to safety. There are even occasional dogs to rescue, and for some odd reason I felt far more obligated to save the dogs than the humans. Your arsenal includes a water spray and special fire-fighting missiles. In addition to rescue missions, there is a second set of "chase" missions where you pursue a hijacked vehicle at night, keeping your spotlight on it while swarming police cars attempt to corner it. It's all fairly entertaining, but City Crisis suffers from some very silly oversights that nearly spoil the fun. For one thing, the developers forgot to explain the controls in the instruction book, and while the dual-joystick control scheme isn't hard to figure out, there's really no excuse for the omission. Even the so-called "training modes" don't provide many clues. I suspect this game was rushed, because early versions didn't even have the title of the game on the spine of the case! Another problem has to do with unlocking the missions. Only two are available initially, and simply clearing them is not enough to open more - you need to execute them perfectly to access new missions. Maybe I just suck (always a possibility), but I can't manage a score any better than a B on the first rescue mission, so I'm basically screwed. In terms of graphics, the city buildings look very cool from above, but they do suffer from the "jaggies" - quite common in early PS2 games. The fire itself looks somewhat fake, as does the water. The energetic music will pump your adrenaline though. City Crisis is an imaginative little game, but a little quality control could have gone a long way. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.
1 player 

If you like this game, try: Time Crisis (Playstation)
Fatal Run (Atari 7800)
Ray Crisis (Playstation)
Bachelor Party (Atari 2600)
Suicide Mission (Atari 2600)

Clock Tower 3
Grade: B
Publisher: Capcom (2003)
Reviewed: 2003/10/1
Rating: Mature (blood and gore, violence)

screenshotThe first two Clock Tower games, released for the Playstation, were surprisingly effective at conveying suspense and terror despite their limited graphics. Clock Tower 3 (CT3) uses the same techniques that made the first two work so well: isolated environments, creepy monsters, dramatic camera angles, and downright alarming sound effects. You control a schoolgirl searching for her missing mother while fleeing terrifying ghosts and monsters. Of course there's a background story, but it never makes much sense, and it gets more and more bizarre and convoluted as you progress. The game plays somewhat like Resident Evil, thanks to a familiar-looking mansion, "find-the-key" puzzles, and the awkward control scheme. Some of the outdoor sequences feel more like Silent Hill, particularly the one with the falling snowflakes. Clock Tower 3 transports you to numerous locations, including dark city streets, a concert hall, the sewers, and a graveyard. But while it certainly feels derivative at times, the unique "panic meter" gives the game a unique flavor. As frightening things happen around you, your panic meter gradually fills. Once it's full, you movements become frantic and you become susceptible to instant death. Although I've seen far better graphics in other survival horror games, the animation here is fantastic. When the girl stumbles around in fear, she looks truly lifelike. Clock Tower 3 effectively builds drama and suspense thanks to chilling sound effects (including one from the movie Psycho) and music that will make your skin crawl. Sometimes you can hide in places like lockers and phone booths, and it's absolutely nerve-racking to watch your stalker snoop around just outside. Your attackers are slow and dumb but relentless once they get a bead on you. Grabbing a flashing item during a chase will sometimes result in a cut-scene showing the girl temporarily subduing the monster, although it always comes back a few times (in true slasher-movie style). At first, I found Clock Tower 3's gameplay to be pretty intense and genuinely frightening, but as the game wore on the bosses became less scary and the puzzles less interesting. It's definitely not as good as Silent Hill or Resident Evil, but Clock Tower 3 does deliver its share of thrills and excitement. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.
1 player 

If you like this game, try: Silent Hill 4: The Room (Xbox)
Mansion of Hidden Souls (Sega CD)
Silent Hill 3 (Playstation 2)
Alone in the Dark (3DO)
Nightmare Creatures (Playstation)

College Hoops 2K6
Grade: C+
Publisher: 2K Sports (2005)
Reviewed: 2006/1/29
Rating: Everyone

screenshotThere's a lot room for improvement in this game, but it still beats the hell out of EA's abysmal March Madness 06. College Hoops delivers a fluid, fast-paced style of basketball action that's especially fun when you team up with several friends. Passing and catching is smooth and exact, allowing for seamless fast breaks and give-and-go plays. The tip-ins are extremely realistic, and I like the idea of tapping the square button to fight for jump balls. Don't try any careless long passes, because they'll almost always get picked off. The controls are responsive, but the scheme could use some work. On offense, the right stick is used to perform a variety of shots, but this is hard to get the hang of. Since that same stick is also used for steals on defense, you'll sometimes steal the ball and inadvertently hurl it the length of the court! I prefer EA's use of the right stick to initiate crossovers. I hate College Hoop's foul shooting system, where you hold back the right stick until the player releases the ball. I could never get a feel for it, and unlike NBA 2K6 (which uses the same system), this game never tells you what you're doing wrong. Although rebounding against the CPU requires an act of God, College Hoop's core gameplay is solid, with players who perform more or less as they should. Certain aspects of the game need adjustment from the outset, namely reach-in fouls and ball-handling, but handy "slider" options allow you to fine-tune these. In terms of graphics, College Hoops is a big step down from NBA 2K6. The players look pretty rough up close, and coaches like Gary Williams of Maryland are totally unrecognizable. The mascots are pretty sad looking as well. The emaciated Maryland Terrapin looks like a bird! College Hoop's cut scenes are sloppy and often inappropriate. For example, when a shooter is fouled, the ref will hand him the ball at the foul line, but then you'll see the same player celebrating with his teammates somewhere else on the court - without the ball! Then, magically, they sudden reappear back at the line. That's just sloppy. And even if you turn these "cut-aways" off, they still appear from time to time. Another major glitch is how the action tends to "freeze" momentarily during dramatic moves like slam-dunks. It's really irritating. Other glaring flaws include late sound effects (including shot clock buzzers) and camera cut-aways that show absolutely nothing (seriously). 2K Sports clearly put a lot more effort into their NBA game, making the lack of polish here all the more glaring. The season modes have their ups and downs as well. Real schedules are included for each team, and although the players aren't named, you can easily enter in their names. Once a name is attached to a player, the announcers actually start using it during the game! That's very cool. There are tons of recruiting options - probably too many! But one feature you'll want to steer clear of is the "simulate games" option. When beginning my season, I opted to simulate the early contests, only to have Maryland lose to some real cupcake teams! Bogus! All in all, College Hoops 2K6's basic gameplay is good enough, but I can't get over terribly rough it is around the edges. © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.
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1 to 8 players 

If you like this game, try: College Hoops 2K6 (Xbox 360)
NBA Live 2005 (Playstation 2)
NBA Live 96 (Super Nintendo)
NCAA Final Four 99 (Playstation)
Tecmo Super NBA Basketball (Super Nintendo)

Contra: Shattered Soldier
Grade: D-
Publisher: Konami (2002)
Reviewed: 2003/1/7
Rating: Teen (animated blood, violence)

screenshotI waited many months in anticipation of this title, but became utterly disillusioned after finally getting my hands on it. This is a disgrace. Oh sure, it's easy to get excited by the wild 3D graphics and 2D gameplay, but this is Contra by name alone. The original Contra was a landmark game on the NES, featuring strategically designed stages and thrilling run-and-gun gameplay. Shattered Soldier wisely retains the 2D gameplay and incorporates some impressive 3D visuals. The problem is, the stage design is atrocious!! It can be summarized as mindless shooting at an endless parade of bosses! The debacle takes place in a futuristic, post-apocalyptic earth - a formula so played out that it's not even funny. I would have preferred the exotic jungles of the original game to this dreary, washed out scenery we have here. Your soldier spends far too much time riding motorcycles, snowboards, missiles (!), and other vehicles instead of moving on foot. Then there's the insurmountable difficulty. Even on the "easy" level you'll be pulling your hair out in disgust. I thought the two-player simultaneous mode would help, but the bosses were twice as hard to kill! By far the biggest issue is too much emphasis on the frickin' bosses!! Bosses in video games were great when they were used sparingly, but blasting away at these inpenetrable beasts for ten minutes at a time gets old in a hurry. Shattered Soldier does have a few things going for it, notably a well designed and responsive control scheme (use the digital pad). The 3D graphics are admittedly well done and don't confuse the action. But it's all just window dressing for a bad game. My friend Steve, a die-hard Contra veteran, even gave this game a big fat F! © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.
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If you like this game, try: Neo Contra (Playstation 2)
Dead or Alive 2 (Dreamcast)
Super C (NES)
Contra Force (NES)
Robo Army (Neo Geo)

Cool Boarders 2001
Grade: D+
Publisher: Sony (2001)
Reviewed: 2006/1/1
Rating: Everyone

screenshotI always enjoyed the Cool Boarders snowboarding series on the Playstation One, but this "next generation" edition frustrated me to no end. With Cool Boarder's time-tested gameplay and the added power of the PS2, this should have been a slam-dunk. In terms of downhill racing action, Cool Boarders 2001 is solid, and I actually prefer it to the popular SSX series. You have just the right degree of control, and it's quite an adrenaline rush to careen down the realistic courses while weaving through the gates. Unfortunately, the game's rigid level design is so unforgiving that I basically gave up on the career mode early. That's problematic, because that allows you to unlock the courses. Only one course is open from the start, which is one of the cardinal sins of video game design. In fairness, the course is pretty good, with soft rolling hills, wide-open trails, and attractive but unobtrusive scenery. It's a pity that unlocking the remaining trails is such as chore. First, you're forced to complete an absolutely tedious training level, which shoves every nuance of performing tricks down your throat. This tutorial has a lot of steps, and if you mess up three times during the whole thing, you have restart the entire tutorial from the beginning. I can't describe the frustration when you forget to hit a button during the fifteenth trick, and the female narrator (who sounds bored off her ass) deadpans, "let's start over from the top". Unlocking subsequent courses is equally excruciating. Instead of concentrating on the pure racing aspect, where the game truly excels, the emphasis is placed on performing trick combos and executing "sequences" (interacting with parts of the environment). The difficulty is insurmountable! Another problem is how your boarder often blocks your line of sight, and there's no first-person view! As will all snowboarding games, you'll want to turn off the generic guitar background noise in favor of the whooshing snow sound effects. There's also a two-player split-screen mode, and it runs pretty smoothly. Overall, Cool Boarders 2001 had a ton of potential but was doomed by its rigid objectives and unreasonable difficulty. I'm not surprised that this long-running series met its demise with this ill-advised chapter. © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.
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If you like this game, try: Cool Boarders 3 (Playstation)
SSX (Playstation 2)
1080 Degree Snowboarding (Nintendo 64)
1080 Degree Avalanche (GameCube)
Cool Boarders 2 (Playstation)

Crash Bandicoot The Wrath of Cortex
Grade: C-
Publisher: Universal (2001)
Reviewed: 2001/11/17

screenshotI consider myself a Bandicoot veteran, having played through all five of the Playstation Crash Bandicoot games, but Crash's first PS2 game is a bit of a letdown. Although new developers were hired to handle this edition, they've tried to preserve the winning formula of the original series. Wrath of Cortex does indeed play like the old Crash games, but the control is lacking and the load times are deplorable. The highlight of the game is the "roller ball" stage, in which Crash rolls around in a transparent ball. It's almost worth the price of admission. As he careens through the bamboo gutters, it almost feels like a Disney attraction, and the vibration feature is used to good effect. Other stages let Crash man vehicles like a sub, minecast, plane, or jeep. The game has tremendous variety, but there are serious problems. First and foremost, the loading times are absolutely excruciating. Between stages you have to sit through load screens that rival those of EA sports games (that's long!). Next, the gameplay doesn't feel as tight as the old Crash games. It's difficult to judge some jumps, and the collision detection is suspicious at times. Sometimes I died over and over trying to perform what should have been a simple jump. While the graphics are superb for the most part, I have to take exception to the new "jungle" stages. The exotic, lush jungles of the old Bandicoot games have been replaced with fairy-tale forests - bad call! Also, the so-so music is not up to the old Crash Bandicoot standards. Wrath of Cortex is not a bad game, but Bandicoot vets will not be impressed. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.
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If you like this game, try: Crash Bandicoot Wrath of Cortex (Xbox)
Crash Bandicoot: N-tranced (Game Boy Advance)
King of Fighters 98 (CD) (Neo Geo)
PGA Tour 97 (Saturn)
Crash Twinsanity (Playstation 2)

Crash Twinsanity
Grade: C+
Publisher: Vivendi Universal (2004)
Reviewed: 2005/8/5
Rating: Everyone

screenshotCrash Bandicoot was king on the original Playstation, racking up no less than four blockbuster titles for the system. Unfortunately, his initial foray into the "next generation", Crash Bandicoot Wrath of Cortex (Xbox, 2001) was not well received. While it played similar to the originals, it lacked tight controls and didn't seem as fun. Crash's stock is down nowadays, which may be why Twinsanity flew in so low under the radar. I hadn't heard much at all about this game, so I naturally assumed it was a dud. This chapter involves Crash teaming up with archenemy Neo Cortex to defeat aliens from space. Yes, the unlikely premise sucks, but the gameplay is not bad at all. I reviewed this game with my old buddy George, a long time Bandicoot veteran. George was impressed with how Twinsanity preserves the basic mechanics of the original games while incorporating unique and innovative stages. For example, in one stage you must clear out obstacles in the path of bee-swarmed Cortex, and in another you must hide behind weeds to avoid a lookout in a tower. "Teaming up" with Cortex translates into slamming him into crates and tossing him to hard-to-reach areas. Some sections are free roaming, and there are several enjoyable "roll-through-the-half-pipe" stages. Twinsanity can be a lot of fun, but it's dogged by quality control issues. First off, the camera is pretty bad. Although the shoulder buttons are supposed to swing it around, these often don't don't respond at all - usually when you really need them. Next, there's the fact that you cannot abort the cut-scenes, even when you've already seen them a dozen times! It's irritating! How these issues escaped game testers is beyond me (unless, of course, there were no game testers). In terms of the graphics, Twinsanity has a simplified, cartoonish look that harkens back to the Playstation One titles. There's not much detail, but at least the graphics have a bright, clean look. The cut-scenes are very well acted and often humorous. If you're a fan of this bandicoot, there's definitely some fun to be had here. Too bad it feels like such a throw-away title. © Copyright 2005 The Video Game Critic.
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If you like this game, try: Crash Bandicoot The Wrath of Cortex (Playstation 2)
Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back (Playstation)
Crash Bash (Playstation)
Crash Bandicoot: N-Sane Trilogy (Nintendo Switch)
Crash Mind Over Mutant (Xbox 360)

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