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Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3
Grade: B
Publisher: Williams (1995)
Posted: 2022/4/17
Rating: Mature (animated violence, animated blood)

screenshotMortal Kombat 3 was not as well-received as the first two games. Popular characters were replaced by less-than-popular characters. Some stages take place in urban environments that didn't fit the mythos. New character Stryker can shoot people with a gun for Pete's sake! Sub Zero is unmasked, and he's a white guy? By attempting to expand the Mortal Kombat universe MK3 had the effect of demystifying it.

When Sony obtained exclusive rights to Mortal Kombat 3 in 1995, they effectively delayed the franchise's appearance on the Saturn. Not to be upstaged, Sega made sure when their MK3 arrived it would be the "Ultimate" version. What does that mean? Well for starters Scorpion and Kitana have been reinstated into the roster.

The controls feel pretty much the same with the exception of a dubious new "run" button. Why would I need to run at a guy standing four feet away? Stage backdrops like the barren desert and trashy city street feel uninspired. The riverside-at-sunset location looks nice but could have been lifted from any fighting game. One highlight is the way you can knock your opponent through the ceiling and keep fighting in the new location.

Unlike Mortal Kombat II (Saturn, 1995), Ultimate is generally fluid. One exception is when Shang Tsung changes form, which causes the game to freeze for a good five (!) seconds. Fatalities also tend to stutter, which kind of ruins the moment.

The new four and eight-player tournament modes seem almost as dubious as the new run button. Before each contest a cool match-up screen is displayed, but it's almost immediately replaced by that boring "Now Loading" screen.

Mortal Kombat 3 is still a solid fighter and this Ultimate version is a step up over the standard edition with extra characters and backgrounds. There are also plenty of hidden codes if you're into that kind of thing. After this the series would move to 3D, causing fans to look back at this game in a much more forgiving light. © Copyright 2022 The Video Game Critic.

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1 to 8 players 

If you like this game, try: Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 (Super Nintendo)
Mortal Kombat II (Saturn)
Mortal Kombat 3 (Super Nintendo)
Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 (Genesis)
Mortal Kombat 3 (Genesis)

VR Golf 97
Grade: B+
Publisher: Gremlin (1996)
Posted: 2000/12/24
Rating: Kids to Adults



screenshotGremlin succeeded where Sega and Electronic Arts failed, and managed to program a good golf game for the Saturn. VR Golf is less impressive looking than other Saturn golf games, but the playability is far and away the best. The courses are made up of polygons which look rougher than the static, pre-rendered screens of other golf games. However, you get the advantage of a moving camera angle that provides an excellent view of your shot.

You have complete camera control not only during your shots, but during replays as well. The easy-to-use controls allow you to draw and fade at will. Perhaps the best part of this game is that except between holes, load time is practically non-existent, allowing for games to move at a brisk pace.

The audio is outstanding. In addition to the natural-sounding background noise, three announcers intelligently (and often humorously) provide play-by-play and commentary. The English guy is particularly funny. Be sure to set the commentary option to "mixed" for maximum enjoyment.

VR Golf is good, but not perfect. The graphics and animation are rougher than the Playstation version of this game. The fictional golfers look downright blocky, and the two courses are fictional and not too exciting. Finally, putting is far too easy. But despite these flaws, this is one more entertaining golf titles I've played. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.

1 to 4 players 

If you like this game, try: VR Golf '97 (Playstation)
Palm Springs Open (Philips CD-i)
Golf (NES)
PGA Tour 96 (Playstation)
Miniature Golf (Atari 2600)

VR Soccer
Grade: C
Publisher: Gremlin Interactive (1996)
Posted: 2006/9/29
Rating: Kids to Adults



screenshotIt's hard to dislike a soccer game that kicks off with that catchy "Rock and Rock Part 2" theme song. But where's the "VR"? Actually, nobody really knew what "virtual reality" was in the mid-90's, but industry "experts" were 100% sure it was "the next big thing". Little did they know that ten years later we'd all be buying repackaged Atari 2600's instead! Anyway, VR Soccer's first-generation polygon graphics might make you cringe at first glance, but its gameplay is surprisingly fluid and generally fun.

The control scheme is simple enough and the contests are of ideal length (read: short). The packaging makes a big deal out of the "3-D Virtual FieldVision" feature, which apparently refers to the fact that the camera tends to be in constant motion all over the field. Depending on the situation it will zoom in close, swing around, or pull back for a wide shot. Most of the time it provides a good viewing angle, and after a while you won't even notice it. This problem is, the camera positioning also affects the controls! If you're lining up for a shot and the camera suddenly swings around, you need to readjust your aim in a hurry. As a result, novice players will often find themselves passing and shooting the ball out of bounds.

Unlike modern soccer titles, the "shoot" button doesn't automatically aim towards the goal, so it's hard to aim with precision. The goals are awfully small but manned by lazy-assed goalies that allow soft shots to float right over their heads. VR Soccer's play-by-play is professional but subdued. A rich option menu provides so many choices that it's almost ridiculous. When sports games become old, their whiz-bang features tend to fall to the side, and all that remains is their gameplay. Fortunately for VR Soccer, that's good enough. © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.

1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: Realsports Soccer (Atari 2600)
Sensible Soccer (Jaguar)
Virtua Striker 2 (Dreamcast)
Pele's Championship Soccer (Atari 2600)
Super Sidekicks (Neo Geo)

Virtua Cop
Grade: B+
Publisher: Sega (1995)
Posted: 2000/6/27
Rating: Teen

screenshotThis is a very basic, easy-to-play light gun game that's very entertaining, and the Sega Stunner gun is one of the most accurate guns around. Two people can play at once, which always increases the fun factor. Scenery includes the standard action movie staples: a warehouse, construction site, syndicate headquarters, etc. That's all fine, but you really can't damage too much of the scenery, except for a few windows here and there. There are no special weapons like grenades, but you can power-up your gun. Besides the bosses, you shoot the same bad guys over and over, and apparently they all shop for clothes at the same store. Enemies react differently depending on where they are shot, and I love it when they fall from high places. On the downside, the fact that there are only three stages diminishes the replayability of this game. Still, Virtual Cop is great fun while it lasts. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.
High score: MF 211600
1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: Time Crisis (Playstation)
Point Blank (Playstation)
Operation Wolf (NES)
Virtua Cop 2 (Saturn)
Time Crisis 2 (Playstation 2)

Virtua Cop 2
Grade: A
Publisher: Sega (1996)
Posted: 2000/6/27
Rating: Teen

screenshotWhat an incredible game Virtua Cop 2 is! This excellent sequel is one of the best light-gun games ever made. The graphics are slightly improved from the first game, with a much better variety of enemies. You can now shoot and damage much of the scenery, including exploding barrels. But by far the most impressive aspect of this game is the driving sequences. You really do feel like you're having a shootout during a car chase! The framerate is so fast and smooth that you might actually get motion sickness watching this game. Virtua Cop 2 is also more challenging than the first, with more hostages that get in the way. The game is longer, and the interesting scenery includes a department store, an ocean liner, and a subway. You can even choose your path at certain times, increasing the replayability. Saturn fans should not miss this game. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.
1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: Ocean City Defender (Atari 2600)
Virtua Cop (Saturn)
Point Blank (Playstation)
Die Hard Trilogy (Playstation)
NBA 2K2 (Dreamcast)

Virtua Fighter
Grade: D
Publisher: Sega (1994)
Posted: 2022/2/23

screenshot
close-upBeing the first game to feature polygon-rendered fighters, Virtua Fighter was a big deal... in 1993. Its motion-captured animation and dramatic camera angles looked amazing. The game was chosen as the pack-in title for the Sega Saturn, but by the US launch in May 1995 it was already showing its age.

Virtua Fighter's graphics paled to the Playstation's upcoming Battle Arena Toshinden (PS1, 1995). Worse yet, random glitches made the game look rushed. Win indicators would disappear at random and chunks of fighters' heads would go missing during replays. To rectify the situation Sega took the drastic measure of mailing out Virtua Fighter Remix (Sega, 1995) discs to all registered Saturn owners!

Virtua Fighter serves up eight distinctive fighters including two females. The angular models can be off putting, and their close-ups on the character selection screen look creepy! Upon selecting a fighter they'll break out in a huge grin which looks unintentionally hilarious. Their faces appear so wooden you expect to find Pinocchio as a playable character.

The fighting action is mildly fun with rapidfire punches and devastating roundhouse kicks that will spin your opponent into the air. The three-button control scheme allows you to block, kick, and punch. Throws can be initiated via button combinations. It looks pretty sweet to see Pai perform a silky-smooth takedown, or watch Wolf the wrestler execute a suplex. You can even stomp an opponent when he's down.

One strange characteristic of Virtua Fighter is its high, floaty jumps. Are we supposed to be fighting on the moon?! The jumps aren't very effective, especially when you go sailing over your opponent's head, setting yourself up for a ring-out.

The sparse stages include a digitized beach, forest, and scenic view of Mount Fuji. My favorite is the night stage set on the roof of a building overlooking a sea of city lights.

The modes are limited to arcade and versus. Records are saved for versus mode and you can rank in with best time if you beat the arcade mode. Virtua Fighter isn't bad, but for a game designed to show off the system if definitely feels a bit undercooked. © Copyright 2022 The Video Game Critic.

1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: Virtua Fighter Remix (Saturn)
Jimmy Connors' Tennis (Lynx)
Battle Arena Toshinden (Playstation)
Math Gran Prix (Atari 2600)
Frisky Tom (Atari 5200)

Virtua Fighter 2
Grade: B+
Publisher: Sega (1995)
Posted: 2022/2/24
Rating: Teen 13+

screenshotThe first Virtua Fighter (Sega, 1994) proved somewhat of an embarrassment, so Sega knew they'd have to pull out the stops for the sequel. Sure enough, Virtua Fighter 2 is terrific. I love how its cinematic opening traces the evolution of the series from blocky wireframe models to realistic, fleshed-out martial artists.

The ten-person roster offers ample variety including Akira the Ryu clone, pro wrestler Wolf, drunken boxer Shin, ninja Kage, and blonde bombshell Sarah. The character models are sharp but it's the stages that have received the most substantial overhaul. Instead of distant backdrops you're treated to beautifully-layered forests, castles, and stormy temples. These convey a great sense of atmosphere.

The controls are responsive and the list of moves per character just goes on and on. The action feels visceral as you alternate blocks and dodges with devastating barrages of punches and roundhouse kicks. The ring-out concept adds tension when fighters teeter near the edge. The jump move remains floaty, but now you can take small hops instead of one huge leap.

There's a nice selection of modes including arcade, versus, team battle, ranking, and expert. I especially like the ranking mode which evaluates your performance and records your stats. The idea of entering your initials by beating up letters is cute but a little tedious.

The action is a bit on the slow side compared to other fighters, but that measured pace favors good technique over button-mashing. This is a quality title that proved the Saturn could go toe-to-toe with any system. If Virtua FIghter 2's visuals don't blow you away, its rock-solid gameplay just might. © Copyright 2022 The Video Game Critic.

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1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: Virtua Fighter Remix (Saturn)
Virtua Fighter (Saturn)
Virtua Fighter 4 Evolution (Playstation 2)
Battle Arena Toshinden Remix (Saturn)
Evander Holyfield's Real Deal Boxing (Genesis)

Virtua Fighter Kids
Grade: D-
Publisher: Sega (1996)
Posted: 2022/2/24
Rating: Teen 13+ (animated violence)

screenshotHave you ever been playing your favorite fighting game and thought to yourself, "this is great, but I wish these fighters were little kids with gigantic heads!" Virtua Fighter Kids is basically Virtua Fighter 2 (Sega, 1995) with a goofy cheat code you can't turn off. The video intro depicts the "real" Virtua Fighters working out with their miniature counterparts, but it comes off more strange than funny.

The menu structure and gameplay are virtually identical to Virtua Fighter 2. Besides the severely angular characters, the stage backdrops have been simplified and the voices raised a few octaves. The gameplay feels as stunted as the characters. It's kind of hard to tell what's happening with those big ole' noggins getting in the way. Rapid-fire replays punctuate big hits, but the cute graphics tend to undermine any sense of raw power.

New features include a "combo workshop" which lets you map complex attacks to a single button press (also known as cheating). "Kids mode" lets you trigger moves simply by mashing buttons (also known as Brad playing). These would imply the game was targeted directly as young kids, except the game's ESRB rating is Teen 13+!! Oh irony, you are one rotten bastard. Sega hates you.

Ultimately I blame Acclaim for starting all of this "big head" nonsense in the form of an NBA Jam (SNES, 1993) secret code. That was worth a chuckle or two at the time, but it's hardly worth building an entire game around. Had Sega had their priorities straight they would not have been dedicating resources to fluff like Virtua Fighter Kids. © Copyright 2022 The Video Game Critic.

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1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: Virtua Fighter (Saturn)
NBA Live 96 (Super Nintendo)
College Slam (Super Nintendo)
Breath of Fire II (Guest Review) (Game Boy Advance)
Virtua Fighter 4 (Playstation 2)

Virtua Fighter Remix
Grade: C
Publisher: Sega (1995)
Posted: 2022/2/23
Rating: Teen

screenshot
close-up The original Saturn pack-in Virtua Fighter (Sega, 1994) failed to do the system justice, prompting Sega to mail out a copy of Virtual Fighter Remix to all registered Saturn owners. The underlying gameplay remained largely unchanged but the graphics are like night and day!

The fighter selection screen now uses illustrated closeups which look substantially better than those creepy polygon mugs. The graphical upgrade is even more dramatic in the ring. The wooden puppets have been replaced with well-defined character models with faces, muscle definition, and textured clothing. These enhanced visuals put Virtua Fighter on par with Sony's impressive Battle Arena Toshinden (Playstation, 1995).

The three-button scheme feels limiting but I like how attacks deal substantial damage, keeping matches short and sweet. The disc sleeve lists the moves for the characters, but the text and icons are microscopic! And you still have to deal with floaty jumps.

Subtle new touches include the crash of thunder when selecting an option or the "patience grasshopper" message that has replaced "now loading". Virtua Fighter Remix was a worthy upgrade, but it's hard to determine if Sega's move was an act of goodwill... or desperation. You be the judge. © Copyright 2022 The Video Game Critic.

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1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: Virtua Fighter (Saturn)
Math Gran Prix (Atari 2600)
Jimmy Connors' Tennis (Lynx)
Parlour Games (Sega Master System)
Escape (Arcadia 2001)

Virtua Racing
Grade: C+
Publisher: Sega (1995)
Posted: 2000/7/4
Rating: Kids to Adults


screenshotVirtua Racing was the first racer to effectively use 3D polygon graphics, allowing you to view the action from different angles on the fly. This Saturn version is probably the best home version you can get, but let's face it, it's pretty unspectacular for a Saturn title. I mean, when this was released there were already perfectly good versions for the 32X and Genesis, and next-generation, texture-mapped racers like Ridge Racer and Daytona USA were already becoming commonplace. Virtua Racing sports triangle trees and buildings that look like boxes. And the photorealistic backdrops make the chunky polygons in the foreground look even worse! Despite the variety of tracks, cars, and options, this game looks old. The sound effects and music are adequate but sparse. Fortunately, gameplay reigns supreme, and Virtua Racing was always a good time. The simple controls and high difficulty should divert your attention from the primitive graphics, at least for a while anyway.. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.
1 or 2 players. 

If you like this game, try: Hard Drivin' (Genesis)
Ridge Racer V (Playstation 2)
Virtua Racing (Genesis)
Gran Turismo 2 (Playstation)
Ridge Racer 64 (Nintendo 64)

Virtual Open Tennis
Grade: C
Publisher: Acclaim (1995)
Posted: 2004/4/30
Rating: Kids to Adults



screenshotWhile not in the same league as Virtua Tennis (Dreamcast), Acclaim's Virtual Open is certainly respectable. You select from ten fictional players, each with their own unique attributes. The court is viewed vertically, providing a good view for the player on the nearside, but a lousy view for the poor chump on the far end. The players look slightly pixelated but are nicely animated. If you want to see something hilarious, try walking side to side before serving the ball - these guys look like they're walking with their shoes tied together!

Control is fair, but could be more responsive. The players tend to move erratically, especially when you use the turbo button. They automatically dive for tough shots, and occasionally make some spectacular plays. The big yellow ball is easy to follow, and a red mark appears where it lands, making it easy to determine if a shot was in or out. Virtual Open's fun factor is only about average, and there are too many pauses in the action. For some reason, you have to page through the game and set scores before EVERY serve. And by all means, be sure to turn those instant replays off, or they will drive you absolutely crazy!

The tennis courts aren't very interesting, with the exception of the looming Earth on the horizon. Huh? Are we playing on the moon?? The game's musical soundtrack includes some ear-splitting rock but also some relaxing jazz tunes. Virtual Open Tennis has great multiplayer support. You and a friend can team up in a doubles game versus the computer, and you can hook up a multi-tap for some four-player fun. Virtual Open Tennis is not a standout title, but it gets the job done. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.

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1 to 4 players 

If you like this game, try: Mario Tennis (Nintendo 64)
Mario Tennis Aces (Nintendo Switch)
Super Tennis (Sega Master System)
Super Tennis (Super Nintendo)
Hot Shots Tennis (Playstation 2)


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