Instead of racking up a score, you earn "experience points" which augment your weapons and firepower. It's cool how the top of the screen keeps you posted on how many experience points are needed to reach the next level. The first stage offers some seriously uninspired foes (pods and such), but later you encounter more imaginative enemies, including octopus-shaped beasts and robotic lobsters that detach from their tails. The static background scenery is totally unconvincing, with "water" that looks more like blue silly putty. Those tiny white sea gulls in stage two are a nice touch though.
Imperium's biggest flaw is its failure to maintain a steady framerate - the action slows to a crawl when things get crazy. Other issues include indestructible cannons (damn it!), inexplicable lulls in the action, and pods that "sneak up" from behind (cheap!). And why is there no audible noise when your ship takes a hit? Despite these ills however, I did enjoy Imperium's frenetic action and considerable challenge. You'll want to set the difficulty to "easy" if you hope to reach the later stages. Casual SNES players can safely pass on Imperium, but 2D shooter fanatics may find this worth their while. © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.
The high-quality look and feel is similar to LucasArt's Super Star Wars games for the SNES. The characters are well animated, and the lush multi-layered stages look terrific. The crystal-clear background music is lifted straight from the movies, and it really lends weight to the action. There are some nice voice samples, like creepy chanting in the Temple of Doom, and Indy saying "Let's go" at the start of each stage.
The side-scrolling action is typical as you leap between platforms, dodge traps, and whip enemies. Unfortunately, an endless army of small, annoying animals constantly nip at your heels and interrupt your jumps. These irritating creatures are present on every level, in the form of birds, bats, rats, and even jumping fish! In one stage you even have to contend with rock-dropping birds! C'mon now! You'll also deal with cheap hits like falling stalactites and spikes that rise from the ground, although you can often anticipate these. The difficulty is sky high, even on the so-called "easy" difficulty.
Three cool 3D sequences provide a welcome respite from the side-scrolling mayhem. These manage to convey an amazing sense of speed while effectively recreating harrowing raft, mine cart, and biplane scenes. Between levels you're treated to photo-quality stills from the movies and presented with a password. It doesn't play nearly as well as it looks, but for gamers with enough skill and patience, Indiana Jones offers a lot of adventure for the money. © Copyright 2008 The Video Game Critic.
Itchy and Scratchy is a series of one-on-one battles in uninspired side-scrolling stages. You control Itchy the mouse and the CPU is Scratchy the cat. Your default weapon - the mallet - does minimal damage, so you'll want to scour the landscape for better weapons like a cutlass, pistol, grenades, and flaming arrows. The graphics aren't bad but the themes (dinosaurs, medieval times, pirates, wild west) suffer from an extreme lack of creativity.
It's mildly amusing to watch Scratchy get sliced in half or have his head blown off, but the novelty wears thin in a hurry. After delivering one good hit your weapon goes away, which is bogus. There are other enemies wandering around like pirates and dinosaurs, but they serve no purpose. The characters are large but tend to enter the screen without warning and exit before you can even get off an attack. You'll need to hit Scratchy at least a dozen times to defeat him, and he's always jumping around and usually off the screen. It's annoying how you can't hit him when he's too close, or worse yet right on top of you.
The game doesn't make a lot of sense. Collecting cheese lets you run fast, but how is that supposed to help? Certain items you collect (like bones and cannonballs) are completely useless until you reach the boss stage. And why do I get a free life by touching a Scratchy icon? The game has no score and I hate that. Itchy and Scratchy should have been a hilarious beat-em-up, but after just a few minutes it feels like a pointless waste of time. © Copyright 2014 The Video Game Critic.
On the tee-off screen you'll have to wait for layered scenery to render, which can easily take a full 10 seconds! That's twice as long as the Genesis version, and the extra time really adds up over the course of a round. The three-press swing meter works well, but the wind indicator is confusing. Upon reaching the green, the game doesn't always line you up with the hole. What's that all about?!
At least the game is forgiving - any putt that goes near the hole gets sucked right in. There's some music between holes but the game itself is played in an uncomfortable silence. Couldn't the programmers have at least tossed in some obligatory bird tweets? Jack Nicklaus Golf isn't terrible but there are far better alternatives out there. © Copyright 2016 The Video Game Critic.
The first time I played Jeopardy I had an awful first round, earning a score in the negatives. During the second round however I started getting into a groove, and it was fun. The topics make all the difference in the world, so I really appreciate the option to choose a new set of topics if you don't like the ones given.
Your answers must be entered letter by letter, but the interface is well designed and will tolerate some degree of spelling errors. If you've seen the show on television, you know the questions tend to be very hard, but the game gives you an advantage by making the CPU-controlled opponents slow to hit the buzzer. It takes a while to play an entire game, but if you enjoy the TV show, you will like this. © Copyright 1999 The Video Game Critic.
Beware of the drops of water that destroy Jim on contact! Also keep your distance from dropping pots, because even the ensuing "shatter" animation will kill you! This game tries to screw over the player in every conceivable manner. As if the difficulty wasn't high enough, each stage is timed! Who felt this was necessary?!
Technically the game is pretty solid, with crisp graphics, nice music, and tight controls. It's a shame so few gamers will survive the long, harrowing opening level, because subsequent stages boast side-scrolling shooting action and even overhead shooting with a hefty dose of scaling and rotation. But even those levels are saddled with the same annoying issues as the side-scrolling ones.
The 3D aspect (described on the box as "virtual reality") is a bit of a joke. The game came with cardboard glasses meant to emphasize the parallax scrolling of the backgrounds. I guess they add a little depth but that's offset by the lack of clarity and general discomfort involved in wearing those things. You'll take them off after two minutes and never put them on again. I'm not sure exactly why Jim Power is traveling through dimensions, but I suspect he's looking for a worthwhile video game. Keep looking Jim! © Copyright 2020 The Video Game Critic.
I was impressed by the sheer variety of prehistoric creatures, each rendered with charm and personality. The animation however is a little stiff. When you "swing" your club the animation is only about two frames! This does not bode well for the collision detection, especially on a crowded screen. I'm just glad I can aim upwards, since so many enemies tend to attack from above. I love that "clink" sound of pterodactyls being plucked out of the sky. Some of the more annoying stages have small pesky enemies like bees that swarm from their hives or fish that leap from the sea below your feet.
The jumping controls are very floaty and forgiving. When you lose a life, an angel appears on the screen, letting you determine the place where your character will resume, and that's pretty sweet. Power-ups let you toss bones, fireballs, and boomerangs. Frankly the rapid-fire bones are the only worthwhile weapon. When you accidentally switch to something else you'll immediately regret it.
Some of the bosses are so large they can't even fit on the screen! The first is a gigantic T-Rex which must have been positively mind-blowing in 1991. When that thing roars it really does sound like a T-Rex! Upon defeating a boss a cute cave girl comes running out to give you a kiss, and there's a different chick for each level. Winning!
The two-player coop mode works remarkably well considering the size of the characters. You get unlimited continues but the game displays the high score so you always have something to strive for. Although the game is fairly linear there's a map that charts your progress. The pacing is good, the bosses are reasonable, and when you die you don't even lose your weapon! Steel drum music adds a nice summer vibe but the sound effects could use more punch. Joe & Mac is good clean fun, with a low difficulty that makes it easy to overlook its flaws. © Copyright 2021 The Video Game Critic.
The layered scenery is rich, featuring ominous volcanoes rising beyond dense jungle foliage. The gameplay is joyously simple as you hop between platforms, climb ropes, and apply the smack-down to pesky mice, dragonflies, and snails. Take that snail! Find a chunk of meat or piece of fruit you must push down to pick it up and eat it, leaving you vulnerable for a second or two. Power-ups like bones or flames are short-lived so use them wisely. There's a lot of animal-riding but they tend to be hard to control.
Joe & Mac 2 is definitely a good time but there are a few annoyances like those annoying cave-dudes that not only withstand several hits, but also block your attacks. There are green "platforms" in this game that will actually bite you if you stand on them for too long. During one stage a pterodactyl swoops in from the distance. The scaling is amazing but the resulting wind gust blows you all around the screen, sometimes into spikes.
Co-op mode works well provided you don't play the "special mode" in which lets you and friend hit each other. That's not so much "special" as it is awful! The game's upbeat music is fine but slightly more abrasive than the first game. There's no question the password feature and level select add replay value. Joe & Mac 2 marks a logical progression for the series but there's also an extra layer of tedium that tends to keep the fun factor in check. © Copyright 2021 The Video Game Critic.
John Madden Football is marred by horrible animation that renders the game borderline unplayable. The field scrolls in a jerky manner, making it very hard to tell what the hell is going on. When calling a play, you need to select "player groups", characterized by terms like "hands", "big", and "fast". Waiting for the appropriate players to run on and off the field easily adds 5-10 seconds to every play. Switching players on defense before the snap is also annoying, because you can only cycle in one direction.
Longtime Madden vets will not-so-fondly recall the three "passing windows" that line the top of the screen. These provide a very limited view of your receivers, giving no indication of their location on the field. You might see a receiver who appears to be wide open, but after throwing you realize he was standing right next to you! The runningbacks tend to bounce off defenders, and sometimes appear to be on roller skates.
There's no NFL license, so the teams are named after cities and there are no logos or player names. One thing this game does have is chain measurements. Hell, even Madden 09 doesn't have that! John Madden Football for the SNES has all the features of the Genesis edition. The only difference is, you won't want to play this one. © Copyright 2009 The Video Game Critic.
Jungle Book isn't terrible, but after playing the superior Genesis version this is a disappointment. The characters are large and the audio is clear, but the gameplay is marginal. It feels like somebody took a perfectly good platformer and made a concerted effort to suck every last bit of fun out of it. As in the Genesis version, each stage challenges you to obtain gems while fending off various wildlife like monkeys, birds, and snakes.
The stages are somewhat linear and the controls feel stiff. Instead of automatically grabbing a vine, you must press up on the directional pad precisely when you're over the end of it. Why make it so hard?! Normally you can throw bananas in a rapid-fire manner, but in some situations Mowgli refuses to throw, which is frustrating. There are too many annoying hazards like prickly plants that sprout from underfoot or plants that shoot thorns upward as you leap over them.
And then there are these deadly flies buzzing around that can barely see. Half the time when you die you'll wonder what the heck just happened. The fact that you can't look downward to preview lower areas means you'll need to take many leaps of faith. There's no score so the gems are only good for earning continues or bonus rounds. In the end, playing this version of The Jungle Book left me feeling kind of empty inside. © Copyright 2014 The Video Game Critic.
Eventually you'll attack a snow fortress in Siberia before finally starting on the jungle-based scenarios. Your copter is equipped with a machine gun and a limited supply of missiles. Jungle Strike is hard and the action is intense. You need to proceed cautiously, because getting caught in crossfire can mean instant death. In some stages you ride a motorcycle, stealth bomber, or hovercraft, but I found these to be difficult to control and less fun than the helicopter.
The SNES edition of Jungle Strike looks more polished than the original Genesis game, with cleaner graphics and smoother animation (less jerky). The explosions look much improved and the tiny terrorists actually scream when shot. On the down side, the music sounds dull and muffled, and your helicopter looks like it's only hovering about ten feet in the air! Jungle Strike is a decent sequel, but you can tell that the series was starting to spread itself a little thin. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.
You view the action from a tilted overhead perspective as you explore an endless jungle maze with dinosaurs on the loose. Initially armed with an electricity gun, you'll pick up additional weapons like shotguns, bolas, and rocket launchers. Yes, there are raptors and T-Rexes, but you'll spend a lot of time dealing with annoying pint-sized dinosaurs and pesky dragonflies. Exploring the park is unsatisfying. There are signs all over the place, but you can't read any of them!
Your first mission is to collect raptor eggs, and it took me about a half hour to find the first one. And when I read "17 more to go", I wept openly. There's no map and it always feels like you're on a wild goose chase. When you enter an enclosed facility things go from bad to worse as an ill-advised first-person perspective kicks in.
It may have been novel for its time, but the rough animation, clunky controls, and stilted frame-rate will give you a splitting headache. The idea of exploring the visitor center sounds intriguing until you realize it's just a maze of mostly-empty rooms. Expect to see a lot of "you can't go here" messages because you don't have the proper ID card or night vision goggles. Failing miserably to capture the spirit and charm of the film, Jurassic Park is one colossal disappointment. © Copyright 2012 The Video Game Critic.
Jurassic Park Part 2 is better than the first game, mainly because it can't possibly be any worse. You can select from a half-dozen missions which typically involve running through jungles, jumping over electric wires, climbing hand-over-hand across vines, and shooting dinosaurs. The graphics aren't bad but the gameplay is hurting. You have a split second to react to approaching raptors (if you're lucky), and even when spraying bullets with a machine gun you're still going to take a lot of damage. These raptors can absorb more than a dozen bullets!
The controls include a "dodge" button, but in my experience it's worthless. You can toggle between several weapons but most are ineffective. It's only possible to pick up ammo for the weapon you're currently using, which makes no sense. Jurassic Park 2 is playable with the easy difficulty, but it feels unoriginal and often frustrating.
In one mission you mow down soldiers like Contra - except without the tight controls or fun. The ability to play with a friend simultaneously looks good on paper but it's not practical. Failing to redeem the original game, Jurassic Park Part 2 is just another burial plot in the graveyard of squandered movie licenses. © Copyright 2012 The Video Game Critic.
Screen shots courtesy of Video Game Museum