system Index M
Mansion of Hidden Souls
Grade: B
Publisher: Vic Tokai (1994)
Reviewed: 2000/9/21

screenshotThis game has a bizarre premise. A boy and girl find a butterfly in a field at night, and the girl says she wishes she were a butterfly. The next thing you know, the boy finds himself in a mysterious mansion, searching for his sister. Its rooms contain talking butterflies that used to be people. The boy's sister will soon be turned into one as well, unless you can find her before "the hunter" does. It sounds pretty silly, but Mansion of Hidden Souls gradually drew me in.

Gameplay consists of exploring rooms, finding items, and opening new areas. The first person view makes you feel like you're actually walking through the house. The controls are simple - just push the joypad in the direction you want to go. The graphics are smooth and detailed, and although the rooms don't look particularly dark or scary, eerie music and mysterious voices help convey a creepy atmosphere.

The layout of the house is actually quite similar to Resident Evil (Playstation). The story is interesting, and the puzzles are fair and never frustrating. Mansion of Hidden Souls has little replay value, but it's probably worth playing through once. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.

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1 player 

If you like this game, try: Echo Night (Playstation)
Ico (Playstation 2)
Resident Evil (Playstation 4)
Alone In The Dark: The New Nightmare (Dreamcast)
Alone in the Dark (3DO)

Marko
Grade: B-
Publisher: Older Games (2003)
Reviewed: 2004/5/9

screenshotThis formerly unreleased Sega CD title is surprisingly likeable and fun. If you've ever played Soccer Kid on the Atari Jaguar, then you'll find Marko's similar platform gameplay to be less polished but arguably more fun. The main character is a rather generic blond-haired kid with a magic soccer ball. He's out to stop a madman at a toy factory who's transforming animals into slime monsters. Each level offers plenty of items to collect and monsters to defeat using your ball.

Marko can kick the ball low, high, backwards, and even head the ball. Kicking a soccer ball at monsters is a refreshing change of pace from simply pouncing on them. The ball tends to bounce around a lot, and it's super fun to watch one kick dispose of several targets. Since your adversaries aren't particularly aggressive, the game moves along at a rather leisurely pace. The controls are less-than-exact, and a few crucial jumps are frustrating.

The colorful graphics are very easy on the eyes, with well-defined scenery and super smooth animation. The bright visuals combined with the catchy, playful music put me in the mind of watching a Saturday morning cartoon "back in the day". The stages include city streets, a forest, and a circus, and these are quite interesting to explore. The only dud is the sewer stage. Perhaps sewers were cool when this game was programmed in the mid-90s, but now they're just passé. Marko also falls victim to other annoying clichés including the much-maligned spiked pits.

Checkpoints take the form of a little girl who snaps your picture when you walk by, and a password is provided every few stages. Between stages there are mini-cartoons, but these are only mildly amusing. Marko is not a remarkable platform game, but it is a pleasant way to pass the time. If you're a Sega CD fan, I'd advise you to give this one a try. It's available from www.gooddealgames.com. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 

If you like this game, try: Soccer Kid (Jaguar)
Wonder Boy (Sega Master System)
Dragon's Lair (Sega CD)
Mega Man Soccer (Super Nintendo)
Realsports Soccer (Atari 2600)

Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch: Make My Video
Grade: F
Publisher: Sega (1992)
Reviewed: 2011/11/20

screenshotIs there a day that goes by when Mark Walhberg doesn't cringe at the thought being associated with this? The "Make My Video" titles are inherently bad, but this Marky Mark edition is the worst. The opening scene shows a kid searching his bedroom, and the murky, monochromatic visuals prompted my friend Chris to ask if something was wrong with my system. No Chris, this is how Sega CD games really look! Three rap songs are featured: "Good Vibrations", "You Gotta Believe", and "I Need Money".

Good Vibrations is catchy enough (C'mon c'mon! Feel it feel it!) but the other songs are pretty bad. The "game" (and I use the term loosely) involves editing a music video by switching between clips and applying pointless video effects. Prior to each song you'll watch a set-up clip that gives you guidance on how to edit the video. Some of these scenes make no sense. What in the world is that young girl doing in a men's locker room asking a sweaty boxer how he wants the video to look? Just before the action it sounds like Marky is yelling "Make my video gay!"

The video edit screen doesn't give you a whole lot to work with. You can toggle between three sets of running film, but the small screen dimensions coupled with poor video quality make the footage hard to make out! Besides clips of the original music video, there's a lot of throw-away black-and-white footage that Sega clearly did not have to pay anything for. There are clips from old cartoons, movies, and random things like boxing cats. I considered bumping up the grade to a D for the boxing cats, but then remembered that I still have to live with myself.

Applying effects will chop up, flash, color, and generally obfuscate the already-grainy footage beyond recognition. In fact, if you apply more than two effects, it looks like a garbled mess! The "reward" for your efforts is watching the resulting abomination of a video in a window that takes up about one-fourth of the screen. And no, you can't skip it! If Marky Mark isn't the worst Sega CD title ever made, it's certainly the most mock-worthy. This one might need to be witnessed first-hand to appreciate the full extent of its badness. © Copyright 2011 The Video Game Critic.

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1 player 

If you like this game, try: Power Factory Featuring C&C Music Factory (Sega CD)
INXS - Make My Video (Sega CD)
Flashback (Sega CD)
Dragon's Lair (Sega CD)
King of Fighters 97 (CD) (Neo Geo)

Mary Shelley's Frankenstein
Grade: F
Publisher: Sony (1994)
Reviewed: 2014/11/4

screenshotBased on the horrible film by the same name, this game begs the question, "who in the [expletive] thought this was a good idea?" Part adventure, part fighting game, and all bad, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein is an unholy amalgamation of genres. You begin play by guiding the monster around a cottage looking for ways to overcome contrived hazards like a pool of electric eels. The interface for manipulating items makes no sense so you start tapping buttons and hope for the best. Certain items allow you to avoid combat which is always in your best interest.

When the game shifts into a Street Fighter 2-style one-on-one fighter, it becomes a national embarrassment. To see the monster go from a limping corpse to a high-jumping kung-fu master is almost surreal. His human opponents (hailing from 19th century England) also happen to be experts in the martial arts. The fights are difficult until you realize you can dispatch most foes with a series of non-stop punches to the crotch. The exploration and puzzle-solving aspects of the game try to follow the King's Quest formula. Experimenting with items might hold your attention for a while, but interacting with the environment is awkward even when you know what to do.

The scenery is nicely detailed but it's hard to tell where you can and can't go. It's especially frustrating when you keep exiting an area by accident! No video or images from the film are used. Some grainy clips of computer-generated scenery are displayed between stages, but the lack of audio gives the game an unfinished quality. There is a handy save feature. I was willing to cut Mary Shelley's Frankenstein some slack based on ambition alone, but then I reached the forest stage. This incomprehensible maze of contiguous screens had me walking in circles until I thought I would lose my mind. Much like Frankenstein's monster, this game is powered by electricity but will only bring you pain and suffering. © Copyright 2014 The Video Game Critic.

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1 player 

If you like this game, try: Shaq Fu (Super Nintendo)
Kung Fu Master (Atari 7800)
Supreme Warrior (Sega CD)
Kung Fu (NES)
Tron Maze-A-Tron (Intellivision)

Masked Rider
Grade: B+
Publisher: Sega (1994)
Reviewed: 2003/8/9
Rating: Teen (realistic violence)

screenshotThis surprisingly good full motion video (FMV) game is an interactive science fiction movie with elements of Terminator, Predator, Alien, Phantasm, The Matrix, Clash of the Titans, and even The Fly. At the heart of the story is a scientist trying to create the "perfect monster" - not your standard University research project. For some unexplained reason, the creatures break loose and go after the scientist's son, and it's up to the Masked Rider to save the day. Our hero looks a heck of a lot like Ultraman, except with a grasshopper influence.

The game begins with three Japanese kids walking home from school, and the voice acting is bad. One of the boys sounds like a grown man talking in a high-pitched voice! As the story unfolds, the game cues you to press certain buttons. Reacting quickly and correctly keeps the story going, and a chime or buzz confirms if you did the right or wrong thing. The gameplay is shallow, but the awesome visuals make it worth your while.

Amazing creatures, over-the-top battles, and god-awful acting make this a marvelously entertaining spectacle. The monsters include the Terminator-inspired "Doras", the bat-like "Draculan", and the grotesque stop-motion giant spider "Aracnia". Each of these is well designed and pretty darned scary looking. Cool special effects include explosions and morphing, but the video is grainy and only fills about 75% of the screen - a 32X version would have looked much better. You'll hear cheesy dialogue like, "Hiroshi, why would a flying silver monster be after YOU?".

The game is mostly linear, but there are a few decision points that can alter the action slightly (or end the game abruptly). I do like how both you and the monsters have "life meters" during fights, but I hate it when the monster's meter runs out before the battle is actually over, meaning you'll just be watching the end of the fight. The first stage is a long, wild ride, but the subsequent stages are shorter and less involved. There might not be much of a game here, but Masked Rider is still quite enjoyable. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 

If you like this game, try: Strahl (3DO)
War of the Monsters (Playstation 2)
Invaders From Hyperspace (Odyssey 2)
God of War: Ascension (Playstation 3)
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers (Sega CD)

Megarace
Grade: F
Publisher: Toolworks (1994)
Reviewed: 2002/3/12

screenshotMegarace is an over-produced, pitiful racer that completely annoyed me. The goal is to win a series of futuristic races, but you also need to destroy all the other cars in each race, and your ammo is VERY limited. In order to get the other cars into shooting range, you need to ride over certain icons on the road that speed you up.

Unfortunately, there are just as many icons that SLOW you down, and since they are hard to see coming, you'll be forced to memorize their locations! Unless you drive a perfect race, you'll never win, and there are no second tries or continues - just endless full-motion video (FMV) and loading screens. The pre-rendered tracks don't look half bad, but the scaling is choppy, and cars often disappear and reappear mysteriously.

Like too many other Sega CD titles, there's a buffoon that mocks you relentlessly before and after each race. If the developers had spent as much time on the gameplay as they did on the cheesy cut scenes, this game might have been worth playing. But Megarace is just a frustrating mess. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 

If you like this game, try: Road Trip (Playstation 2)
Road Rash 2 (Genesis)
Tarzan (Colecovision)
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers (Sega CD)
Surgical Strike (Sega CD)

Microcosm
Grade: D
Publisher: Psygnosis (1993)
Reviewed: 2011/11/20

screenshotWith its grainy graphics, bad acting, pre-rendered backgrounds, and severely limited gameplay, Microcosm is standard FMV (full-motion video) fare circa 1993. In some ways the game is a microcosm of the entire Sega CD library! An elaborate introduction depicts a futuristic city reminiscent of Blade Runner, and the video is so well produced so it's hard to tell where the special effects end and the live actors begin. After some confusing scenes with a helicopter on a rooftop, your attention turns to a doctor being forced to perform some kind of medical experiment. This sets up the Microcosm's premise, which is that you're guiding some kind of tiny ship through a person's body.

The backgrounds convey the illusion of whisking through lower intestines and other disgusting organs. Your path is predetermined, so you just focus on shooting whatever pops up. Most of the time you can move freely around the screen, but sometimes you need to be careful not to brush against the scenery. Your enemies are "mechanical agents" that come in a variety of shapes, colors, and formations. Holding down the fire button unleashes a steady stream of shots, and that's good because most targets can absorb many hits. Power-ups let you toggle between special weapons you pick up including bombs and double-shots, but these never last long.

One area of confusion is how the yellow, star-shaped enemy missiles look the same as yours. The collision detection is lousy, making it hard to tell if you're taking damage or inflicting it. You need to be super defensive to make any progress in this game. The electronic soundtrack is good, but I really hate how you can't pause the action. The opening stage is far too long and difficult, and it's frustrating when you lose your ship and have to restart the whole thing. The passwords are a series of indecipherable symbols, and that's no good. Microcosm has an interesting premise and decent production values. It's too bad not enough attention was paid to getting the gameplay right. © Copyright 2011 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 30,995
Save mechanism: Password
1 player 

If you like this game, try: Silpheed (Sega CD)
Super Cobra (Atari 5200)
Super Cobra (Odyssey 2)
Galactic Space Wars (Fairchild Channel F)
Megarace (Sega CD)

Midnight Raiders
Grade: C-
Publisher: Sega (1994)
Reviewed: 2002/10/23

screenshotThis full-motion video shooter looks like a sequel to Tomcat Alley, but this time you pilot an Apache helicopter and also engage in a ground mission. Like Tomcat, the video is full-screen but awfully grainy. The story involves some cocky CIA agent who's apparently been given authority by Congress to carry out a top-secret mission. Gameplay involves moving a cursor around the screen and shooting any target with green brackets surrounding it.

Targets can be in the air or on the ground, and they tend to jump around, making it hard to get a good bead on them. It doesn't help that the directional pad doesn't provide pinpoint control. Eventually, I figured out a winning strategy: Shoot constantly and one of your shots is bound to be on mark! When it is, you'll witness some nice video clip of a missile firing and blowing something to smithereens.

I'd have to say that the explosive video footage is the highlight of the game. There's something about seeing a tank explode that's very satisfying. Unfortunately, the video clips that you have to watch between these action sequences are pretty bad and tend to repeat like a broken record. There's a lot of friction between the CIA guy and the military chief, and apparently they like to take out their frustrations on you.

Later in the game you actually land and have to infiltrate a factory armed with a gun. These sequences play pretty much like the rest of the game, but at least it's a nice change of scenery. Midnight Raiders is okay, but after playing through it once, I didn't have much desire to play it again. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.

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1 player 

If you like this game, try: Tomcat Alley (Sega CD)
Surgical Strike (Sega CD)
Army Men Air Attack (Playstation)
AH-3 Thunderstrike (Sega CD)
Stealth (NES)

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers
Grade: C
Publisher: Sega (1994)
Reviewed: 2015/2/11

screenshotThis full-motion video (FMV) game is basically clips from the television series with interactive prompts grafted over them. Each of the seven chapters begins with a skippable cut-scene. Much of the story's entertainment value is derived from its cheesy effects, bad dialogue, and laughable acting. The premise is that five "teenagers with attitudes" have been recruited to battle an intergalactic sorceress and her army of henchmen.

Each teenager is bestowed with the power of a dinosaur, but since when are mastodons and saber-tooth tigers considered dinosaurs? Individually the Rangers wield weapons and perform kung fu, but fused together they form a massive robot that fires laser beams. The full-screen video may be grainy but it's still some of the best I've seen from the Sega CD. The game does a decent job of incorporating the prompts. Lightning arrows move across the screen to indicate directional moves, and button icons flash for punches, blocks, and kicks.

This game is better than you think. By earning continues I was able to complete it on intermediate, but the expert level proved a worthy challenge, forcing you to respond to rapid-fire prompts. Mighty Morphin Power Rangers isn't bad as FMV games go, but its replay value is limited. Still, fans of the show can probably bump up the grade by a letter. © Copyright 2015 The Video Game Critic.

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Recommended variation: int
Our high score: 392,780
1 player 

If you like this game, try: Kung Fu (NES)
Supreme Warrior (Sega CD)
Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers (Genesis)
Wonder Dog (Sega CD)
Megarace (Sega CD)

Mortal Kombat
Grade: D
Publisher: Midway (1992)
Reviewed: 2003/4/13

screenshotBeing the huge blockbuster it was, Mortal Kombat (MK) had to make an obligatory appearance on the Sega CD, despite the fact that its CD capabilities could not improve the game one iota. The video intro features a commercial showing MK screenshots interspersed with kids running through the streets screaming. In terms of video quality, this is the most revolting thing I've ever seen on my Sega CD. The pixelation is so excessive that it's painful to watch.

Once you get past that bit of unpleasantness, you'll find yourself at a title screen exactly like the one on the Genesis version. If you wait a few seconds, the game will start cycling "character screens" just like the arcade. Otherwise, the only difference between this and the Genesis version is higher quality music and slightly improved sound effects. Raiden's electricity caught my ear, but the voices still sound terribly fuzzy. The box mentions something about extra animations, but only die-hard MK fans will notice.

The main thing CD technology brings to MK is LOAD TIMES. It takes about 8 seconds to load a match, and while that's tolerable, it's still 8 seconds longer than you had to wait for the Genesis version. Harder to forgive is the fact that the disk is sometimes accessed DURING BATTLE, resulting in noticeable pauses that interrupt the action. A major disappointment, you'll probably want to avoid this ill-conceived version of Mortal Kombat. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.

1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: Bill Walsh College Football (Sega CD)
King of Fighters 94 (CD) (Neo Geo)
Mortal Kombat II (Sega 32X)
King of Fighters 98 (CD) (Neo Geo)
King of Fighters 96 (CD) (Neo Geo)


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