system Index E-F
Earthworm Jim 2
Grade: C
Publisher: Sega (1994)
Reviewed: 2013/4/25
Rating: Kids to Adults

screenshotThe Earthworm Jim franchise is known for its fantastic intergalactic worlds, rapid-fire shooting, and offbeat sense of humor. You'll haul pigs to solve puzzles. You'll fight giant ants carrying human babies. You'll ride "granny chairs" while avoiding old women falling from the sky. The first boss is a freakin' goldfish in a bowl for Pete's sake! Earthworm Jim 2 is genuinely funny, inventive, and dare I say... overrated?

The game's fun factor never rises to its level of charm and good looks. The rapid-fire shooting is satisfying, but aliens are often hidden behind rock walls. Jim can leap pretty far, but he sometimes fails to grab hold of ledges. The stages tend to wind their way all over the place, making it hard to tell if you're heading in the right direction. In the stage entitled "Lorenzo's Soil", you're equipped with a special gun that lets you burrow through dirt. It's a boldly original concept - and one I hate with a passion! It's actually more painful on the Saturn version than it is on the Genesis. That stage lasts an eternity. Several other stages tested my patience as well, including the excruciatingly slow "blind cave salamander" maze.

Still, Earthworm Jim 2 offers a wide variety of stages loaded with surprises, funny animations, and wacky digitized noises. There's a password option, but the fact that it's a series of random objects makes it really hard to write down. The graphics are obviously sharper than the Genesis, and some of the planet-scapes are visually arresting. The audio is clear and the music has a relaxing, laid-back vibe. Despite these upgrades however, I didn't find this any more enjoyable than the Genesis game. In fact, I think I enjoyed it less. © Copyright 2013 The Video Game Critic.

Save mechanism: Password
1 player 

If you like this game, try: Earthworm Jim 2 (Genesis)
Earthworm Jim 2 (Super Nintendo)
Earthworm Jim (Super Nintendo)
Earthworm Jim (Genesis)
Panic! (Sega CD)

Enemy Zero
Grade: D-
Publisher: Sega (1997)
Reviewed: 2015/4/29
Rating: Teen (animated blood, violence, suggestive themes)

screenshotThis ambitious sci-fi adventure was ahead of its time. Like the Alien film, you assume the role of a woman on a deserted space freighter. The first time I played Enemy Zero I was discouraged by its plodding pace and the fact I was moving in circles. Playing Alien Isolation (Playstation 4, 2014) rekindled my interest however since Enemy Zero is basically the same game circa 1997. Most rooms are pre-rendered, so when you push in a direction the first-person view smoothly transitions.

Your movement is severely limited and sometimes you push in a direction and nothing happens. I learned to use the sound of my Saturn's spinning drive as an audible cue. You enter and exit rooms through airlocks, and watching these repetitive entry scenes is tiresome. You can move freely in hallways, ducts, and large rooms, and this is where encounters occur. Unfortunately the aliens are invisible which is remarkably lame. Your beeping motion detector alerts you when an alien is near, but not in what direction.

You're armed with the most clumsy, worthless weapon ever devised. You must power it up at a charging station, and a single charge only holds two or three shots. To fire, you must energize your gun for a few seconds and release at precisely the right time. Why does everything have to be so complicated? It's bad enough I can't see what the [expletive] I'm shooting at!

And don't get me started with these confusing stage layouts. Computer maps save you some heartache, but maps are not always available. To navigate the endless maze of ducts an FAQ actually advises you to draw your own map! It sounds crazy but my friend Scott and I actually tried to do it. After a while however we decided we didn't have the time nor patience.

It's a shame because Enemy Zero is pretty scary! The atmosphere is ominous and your beeping tracker instills a sense of panic. The audio is understated but the voices and jarring sounds are effective. I was intrigued by the futuristic computer interfaces which look much like those of the present day. You can save your progress at any time, but your saves are limited (what?!) and that's the final straw. Enemy Zero should have been an epic space adventure but somebody overengineered all the fun out of it. © Copyright 2015 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 

If you like this game, try: Escape From The Mindmaster (Atari 2600)
Alien Isolation (Playstation 4)
Alien 3 (Genesis)
Space Spartans (Intellivision)
Alien Syndrome (Sega Master System)

F1 Challenge
Grade: C-
Publisher: Sega (1995)
Reviewed: 2018/6/3
Rating: Kids to Adults

screenshotMost F1 games are simulations that require knowledge of the sport and a significant time investment for races that run dozens, sometimes hundreds, of laps. F1 Challenge tries to cater to the more casual fans that prefer arcade over simulation, but sometimes you need to be careful what you ask for. You select from several real drivers including future (now past) racing legend Michael Schumacher participating in his very first season.

Tracks include Hockenheim, Suzuka, Monte Carlo, and three fictional Neo City courses (novice, advanced, expert). F1 Challenge bears a resemblance to Virtua Racing (Sega, 1995) with its vivid colors, smooth framerate, and chunky scenery. You toggle between two views: behind the wheel and behind the car. I couldn't help but notice that my wheels look extremely angular from the first-person perspective. The bright scenery is pleasant but unspectacular and exhibits substantial pop-up. A steering wheel accessory adds realism but the standard controller works surprisingly well.

The gameplay is pure arcade mayhem as you bounce off rails and other cars without losing speed! When jockeying for position on the Monaco track it feels like you're playing bumper cars! Each race is eight laps, and while I would prefer three I guess that wouldn't be enough to work your way up 24 positions. You always have the option of pulling into the pit-stop but I don't know why you would (except maybe to switch to your round tires). The lack of a two-player mode is disappointing. F1 Challenge tries to bring out the fun of the sport but it just doesn't feel representative of F1 racing. © Copyright 2018 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 

If you like this game, try: Pitstop (Colecovision)
Super Monaco GP (Genesis)
Sega Touring Car Championship (Saturn)
F-1 Formula One World Grand Prix (Nintendo 64)
Supercross 3D (Jaguar)

Fighters Megamix
Grade: B+
Publisher: Sega (1997)
Reviewed: 2004/3/31
Rating: Teen (13+)

screenshotSega combined their two best fighting games, Virtua Fighter 2 and Fighting Vipers, to produce this all-star extravaganza. Fighters Megamix offers eleven characters from Virtua Fighter, eleven from Fighting Vipers, and ten hidden characters. Having 32 characters in a fighting game was absolutely unheard of in 1997, although it should be noted that some of these extra characters only have novelty value, like the big teddy bear wearing a cowboy hat. There's a lot to like about Fighter Megamix. Not only is it literally two fighting games in one, but it enables some exciting match-ups. You can toggle between each game's distinct style of play, and I enjoyed using Virtua Fighter 2 characters in the faster, less "floaty" Vipers style. Since both games utilize the same three-button scheme, the controls are consistent with the original games. One flaw I did notice is a slight bit of slowdown in certain stages. Some may consider this game to be a bit of a rehash, but if you just want to kick some serious booty, Megamix delivers the goods. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.
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1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: Tekken 2 (Playstation)
Virtua Fighter 2 (Saturn)
Virtua Fighter 2 (Genesis)
Virtua Fighter 4 Evolution (Playstation 2)
Brutal Unleashed: Above the Claw (Sega 32X)

Fighting Vipers
Grade: B+
Publisher: Sega (1996)
Reviewed: 2017/3/16
Rating: Teen

screenshotCombining the simple controls of Virtua Fighter 2 (Saturn, 1995) with the frenetic action of Battle Arena Toshinden (PS1, 1995), Fighting Vipers is a high-quality Saturn exclusive. Vipers offers an appealing arcade style with a high-energy guitar soundtrack, interesting stages, and a cast of memorable characters.

Jane might as well be G.I. Jane because she's a real bad-ass. Grace is a roller derby girl and Candy is a hottie with a fierce butt attack. Raxel is the obligatory rockstar and Sanman is a rotund police officer who can roll your ass like a bowling ball. The three-button block/punch/kick scheme is easy to grasp while still offering dozens of moves per character. The animation is impressive and the character models are finely detailed. If they appear a little chunky it's because of their protective armor. I find the armor to be unnecessary but I guess they were trying for something different.

In my experience Fighting Vipers rewards those who take an aggressive approach. If you bum-rush your opponent with a flurry, you can trap him with a juggle against a wall before he can lay a hand on you. When your opponent is on the ground, be sure to add insult to injury with a gratuitous foot stomp. A well-timed finishing move will send your opponent crashing through the closest wall (sweet). The arcade mode challenges you to complete eight matches in record time, and with 30-second rounds you can finish in well under ten minutes. You also get versus, tournament, and a playback mode that lets you replay your fights.

If you enjoy city skylines at night, Fighting Vipers has got you covered with some extraordinary backdrops that make the game look spectacular. I only wish that majestic bridge wasn't obstructed by those cheesy cardboard walls. My favorite stage takes place on an elevator riding up a skyscraper, and it's possible to send your opponent plunging over the side! Fighting Vipers in an inspired slugfest that will appeal to both button mashers and purists alike. © Copyright 2017 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 12:21.04
1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: Virtua Fighter 2 (Saturn)
Fighting Vipers 2 (Japan) (Dreamcast)
Virtua Fighter 2 (Genesis)
Battle Arena Toshinden (Playstation)
Fighters Megamix (Saturn)

Final Fight Revenge (Japan)
Grade: C+
Publisher: Capcom (1999)
Reviewed: 2014/1/17

screenshotFinal Fight Revenge is notable for being the only Final Fight title on the Saturn and also the last game released for the system. Those expecting a side-scrolling slugfest will be disappointed to hear Revenge is a one-on-one 3D fighter along the lines of Tekken (Playstation, 1995). The characters include Final Fight favorites including Haggar, Cody, Guy, Andore, Sodom, Rolento, and a hottie named Poison with pink hair. Some of these characters actually appeared in Street Fighter titles as well. Interestingly enough, Poison was identified as a transgender fighter by the game's designers trying to sidestep any domestic violence implications.

The title screen of Revenge boasts an awesome electrified die-cast metal design, and the character select screen is also slick. Prepare for a letdown however when you actually start playing. The characters are rendered with chunky polygons, no textures, and lousy definition. Revenge also feels dog slow next to comparable Playstation fighters like Rival Schools. Weapons are lying around and you can position yourself over them using the side-step button. Grabbing weapons seems like a good idea but most are surprisingly ineffective. You'll need to perform a special move just to shoot the gun, and the damage is minimal.

Don't hesitate however to snag any "bludgeoning" weapons like the iron pipe or hammer, as you can really lay into your opponent with those. Revenge isn't the best Capcom has to offer, but its deliberate pace gives it a more strategic quality. I love the attention to detail, like when you run out of bullets and your character throws his gun. After getting defeated by the cop, he writes you a ticket. The game is full of bizarre surprises, including special moves that spawn police cars and helicopters. Andore's hand can become huge (reminiscent of the Foo Fighters Neverlong video) and bitch-slap the hell out of his opponent. There are even bone-crunching "x-ray" attacks (!) like those used later in Mortal Kombat (Xbox 360, 2011).

But my favorite part of the Final Fight Revenge are its stages, which include a city park, Chinatown, an icy meatpacking plant, and a junkyard at sunset. The scenery looks digitized, and the night stages are downright spectacular. The jazzy musical score calls to mind classic side scrollers like Streets of Rage, and the arcade mode records high scores. Final Fight Revenge won't win any awards, but I found it a lot more interesting than your garden variety fighter. Note: This Japanese import requires the Action Replay Plus 4M cartridge. © Copyright 2014 The Video Game Critic.

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Our high score: 192,500
1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: Final Fight One (Game Boy Advance)
Final Fight CD (Sega CD)
Weaponlord (Super Nintendo)
X-Men Vs. Street Fighter (Japan) (Saturn)
Final Fight (Super Nintendo)

Frank Thomas Big Hurt Baseball
Grade: D+
Publisher: Acclaim (1996)
Reviewed: 2006/9/29
Rating: Kids to Adults

screenshotThis is a pretty marginal baseball game, especially compared to Sega's superb line of World Series games. Big Hurt's graphics are less than exciting, with a wide-angle view of the field that makes the players appear small and pixelated. The large digitized batters look pretty nifty, but the pitching controls are counter-intuitive and the bat controls are not responsive enough. When anticipating a fastball, you'd better start your swing as the ball leaves the pitcher's hand, or you'll never get around on it.

The fielding isn't so bad, with tight controls and realistic animations like first basemen that stretch for errant throws. In contrast to the fielders, the base runners look positively awful. Not only are they incredibly pixelated, but they scamper around like they're running on ice! After each play there's an uncomfortable pause as the computer attempts to figure out if the play is really over. I find it interesting how the CPU player will pause the game and peruse the menu options right before your eyes (to manipulate his bullpen or rosters). That's pretty cool, but at first I thought my controller was broken!

Big Hurt's commentator does a respectable job, but his sentences tend to be disjointed - a common issue for early CD games. Actually, it's quite humorous to hear stuff like, "At the end of. The third inning. Baltimore. Four. Toronto. ZERO!!" There's also a PA announcer who inexplicably doesn't know how to pronounce many players' names (John Olerud is a prime example). Worst of all, there's no instant replay - a definite no-no for a game made in 1996. Don't let this game put the big hurt on your wallet. To be frank, I'd stick with World Series Baseball instead. © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.

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1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: Baseball (NES)
Baseball Stars Color (Neo Geo Pocket)
Major League Baseball (Intellivision)
RBI Baseball 3 (Genesis)
World Series Baseball (Saturn)

Frankenstein: Through the Eyes of the Monster (Europe)
Grade: F
Publisher: Interplay (1995)
Reviewed: 2019/10/25
Rating: Teen

screenshotThrough the Eyes of the Monster is an obscure Saturn title only released in Europe. It's one of those oddities you hear bits and pieces about but have never met anyone who's actually played the thing. The box is thin and made of rigid black plastic - a far cry from the fragile clear Saturn cases. There's also a healthy-sized manual which explains the history of Mary Shelly's novel and even contains a run-down of all the Frankenstein-related motion pictures (trashing most of them).

The game itself is played from a first-person perspective. You assume the role of a surprisingly well-spoken reanimated individual named Philip. Once you get up and start moving around the doctor played by famed actor Tim Curry drops by every now and then to offer words of discouragement. I love the look of the game. The pre-rendered castle looks amazing with photorealistic stone walls, elaborate contraptions, and plenty of shadowy corners. This game may be too dark; half the time I didn't even know what I was looking at.

As you wander the grounds you'll move a hand-shaped cursor around the screen to examine items, pick up objects, and solve puzzles. The user interface leaves much to be desired. Pressing start brings up the save screen but it's very counter-intuitive. Navigating the rooms and hallways is tedious as all get-out. The doors all look the same and most are locked. You'll see a hallway with doors ahead but when you click to move forward you never know where you're going to end up. You might be facing a door or a black wall. With no map or compass it's hard to get your bearings, and getting stuck in a dark passageway is a fate worse than death itself.

Head-scratching puzzles... having to write down clues... moving a little hand all over the screen... I can't take it any more! This game makes Myst look like Mario Party! You know a game has issues when even the freaking FAQ doesn't help. Frankenstein: Through the Eyes of the Monster is a slow, thought-provoking adventure about a tortured soul. But while trying to play it I suddenly became painfully aware that the tortured soul was me! Note: I played this on my American system using an Action Replay cartridge. © Copyright 2019 The Video Game Critic.

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1 player 

If you like this game, try: Myst (CD) (Jaguar)
Venture (Intellivision)
Alone In The Dark: The New Nightmare (Dreamcast)
Elansar & Philia (Dreamcast)
Nexar (Atari 2600)


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