In retrospect however, Madden 93 isn't all that bad. Yes, the animation is still pretty choppy compared to the Genesis game, but it's a hell of a lot better than the first SNES John Madden Football (EA, 1991). Before each game you're presented with a nice wide shot of the stadium. As with so many Maddens, there's much ado about the coin toss, including a special animation and a digitized image of the coin.
Madden 93's user interface has been cleaned up considerably. The play selection menu looks very sharp, and there's an audible beep when you choose a play. The action on the field is fairly easy to follow, but despite what the box contends, the animation is pretty slow. That's probably a necessary trade-off for the improved frame-rate. I find it amusing how receivers catch passes in this game with their backs to the ball. When someone makes an interception, the screen gets blurry like it's a dream sequence or something.
After a big play, a digitized group of fans is displayed. These guys are unintentionally hilarious, particularly the dude is the lower left in his O.P. shorts (Tom Selleck would be proud). Also amusing is the referee calls a field goal "good" well before it actually passes through the uprights! An instant replay option is available via the select button. Incorporating smoother gameplay with plenty of bells and whistles, Madden 93 represents a major step forward for the series. © Copyright 2009 The Video Game Critic.
The pacing of the game seems twice as fast - mainly because you no longer need to wait for substitutions between plays! There are more plays to choose from, thanks to "play flipping" and no-huddle options. The redrawn players look chubbier and better defined. The passing game is still limited by passing windows, but the running game is much easier - maybe too easy! It seems like even slamming straight into the line will usually net you 2 or 3 yards.
You can now apply late hits, but these aren't called as penalties. There's a lot of "crunching" sounds during the plays, but sometimes a player is tackled in silence. The quarterback sounds amazing calling the snap count, and Madden chimes in with funny quips like "POW!" and "Hey, heck of a play!" I love how a loud "gunshot" ends each quarter; you almost expect the quarterback to keel over right on the field!
Madden 94 also includes first-down measurements (what a concept!), a "bluff" play-calling mechanism, rotating instant replays (!), multi-tap support, and get this - a half time show! The show reuses the field view from the intro, but you can clearly see the band on the field, along with cheerleaders tossing batons. Nice touch! No question about it, Madden '94 ruled the video gridiron in 1993. © Copyright 2009 The Video Game Critic.
Worse yet, when they run sideways they kick up their heels like they're in a frickin' chorus line for Pete's sake! In one end-zone celebration, the player prances around like Michigan J. Frog from that old Warner Bros. cartoon ("hello my baby - hello my honey - hello my ragtime gaaal..."). And what the heck are those brown things all over the field? Where's the half-time show?
There's a lot wrong with Madden 95, but EA did do one thing right, and that's dropping the passing windows. That's right, you can now survey the open field, making the passing a lot easier and much more satisfying. Unfortunately, whether your receiver actually catches the ball or not seems to have more to do with chance than skill. The running game is tougher than last year, but in general Madden 95 is more offensive-oriented. In one dramatic play, my friend Eric scooped up a pass he had deflected over a defender's head, and proceeded to run it in for a touchdown.
The fans in the stands look terrific, but what kind of idiot would display a banner that simply says "GO"? Two-point conversions are a new option, adding a nice bit of strategy. One huge flaw is how the game clock is not displayed on the screen during the snap - only the play clock is. This idiotic oversight makes proper clock management all but impossible. Madden 95 is a wildly uneven football experience. EA giveth and EA taketh away. © Copyright 2009 The Video Game Critic.
Madden 96 contains the same goofy running animations as Madden 95, but the players look sharper this year because they're wearing shoes. The gameplay is much faster than Madden 95, with plays that often unfold before you can react. The clock really flies, which is problematic since you cannot view the game clock after leaving the play-calling screen.
Quarterbacks now have more pronounced throwing motions, but this makes getting off a pass very difficult. The kicking game is also weird. As the ball approaches the uprights it becomes absolutely huge! EA didn't put a lot of effort into this Madden 96, and its unrealistic speed makes it the least playable Madden in years. © Copyright 2009 The Video Game Critic.
In terms of gameplay, Madden 97 is probably the most balanced since Madden 94, and the action has been slowed down to a reasonable pace. It's still tough to get a pass off, but even deflected passes can be caught. When throwing, the ball is often out-of-sync with the arm motion, and occasionally it appears to squirt out the side!
Pat Summerall helps Madden with the commentator duties, chiming in with unenthusiastic lines like "incomplete". The audio sucks in general. The quarterback sounds like he's yelling the snap count from the bottom of a well, and Madden tosses out idiotic lines like "that one's gonna give him nightmares for weeks!" The half-time screen shows Madden and Pat staring intently into each other's eyes, and you can almost hear the song, "I don't wanna wait... for our lives to be o-ver..."
Madden 97 also incorporates a number of franchise-related features like player trades, scouting combines, and a lot of other stuff I could give a [expletive] about. The only thing I really like about Madden 97 is that it was the first to feature my Baltimore Ravens. All and all, this edition is very playable but unspectacular and slightly gay. © Copyright 2009 The Video Game Critic.
The music has been needlessly cranked up, and the game has some really obvious glitches. When you set up a game like Patriots at Baltimore, Madden and Pat Summerall begin by saying "Welcome to Chicago!". What the [expletive]? Although the basic gameplay is unchanged, a very unwelcome new feature has been added: "hot and cold streaks".
That's right, your favorite team might just suck for the simple reason that the game randomly determined them to be "cold". This was only the beginning of EA's tradition of incorporating unwanted "features" into its games in lieu of actual improvements (which are much harder to program). Madden had a good run on the SNES, but Madden 98 ends the series with a whimper. © Copyright 2009 The Video Game Critic.
Some stages feature ornate architecture and beautiful stained glass windows. There are a lot of doors, and unlocking one usually reveals an ally who will fight by your side and substantially augment your attack power. The first time I played Magic Sword I tried to attack that guy, and I couldn't figure out why he wouldn't die! Allies come in many varieties including a knife-tossing thief, a spell-casting magic user, a big Viking dude, and even a sweet ninja.
Magic Sword has all the necessary ingredients, but its whole is less than the sum of its parts. Enemies attack in predictable patterns and can always be dispatched by mashing the attack button. Treasure chests, doors, and keys are so ubiquitous it's actually annoying! You can't walk ten feet without tripping over a [expletive] chest, and it becomes a chore to hack them all open! It's a shame because many contain special items that tend to get lost in the shuffle.
Another problem is the frequent slow-down. I try not to complain about slow-down in SNES games, but it's so pronounced that it severely compromises the quality of the game. When low on health, an irritating alarm blares non-stop. The level select feature is nice, but the difficulty is so low you'll need to play on "hard" just to keep your game at a reasonable length. Magic Sword had a good premise, but rampant design flaws and technical issues keep the excitement to a minimum. © Copyright 2011 The Video Game Critic.
The problem is, the manner in which he limps around in that cloak makes him look like an old woman trying to catch a bus for crying out loud! And when he stoops down to smack kids in the ankles with his cane, it just looks pathetic. Considering his haggard walk, it's quite a revelation when he leaps about ten feet into the air! He's the Air Jordan of monsters!
Getting through the first level requires a degree of perseverance unknown to man. You'll aimlessly hop around window ledges, ride moving platforms, walk through empty hallways, and pull random switches. Due to poor jumping controls you tend to either over-jump or hit your head on something and fall short. And there is no rhyme or reason to these switches. Pulling one might trigger something in a different part of the stage, but who the [expletive] knows?! The effects seem to be on some kind of time delay so there's never any positive reinforcement.
I truly hate how defeated enemies disappear in a little puff of smoke - that looks so cheesy. The second level is set in a catacomb where you stumble around in near total darkness. This time you slide around blocks that cause ledges to randomly appear and disappear (*barf*). In the third stage you're running around the great outdoors experiencing the joy of getting caught in bear traps while being pummeled by birds.
The music is pretty good, but not in a scary way, and that's a problem! I noticed there were no FAQs available for the game, which doesn't surprise me. No human could withstand the pain of seeing this one through to the bitter end. Mary Shelley's Frankenstein may be God's cruelest mistake. © Copyright 2014 The Video Game Critic.
The Mask himself is nicely animated with an arsenal of wacky attacks, many of which you'll recall from the film. I found some of the enemies to be a bit on the creepy side, not unlike the Mask himself. The controls are responsive, and I especially like the handy "zip" button that lets you sprint through a level in a flash.
Unfortunately, checkpoints are few and far between, and it's actually quite easy to miss them! There are some amusing little touches, like the bouncing alarm clock and the dog wearing a mask. The sound effects are effective, but the music is a disappointment. In the end, The Mask is just the same old stuff with a bright coat of paint - only faster. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.
This lineup certainly won't excite sports fans. Mecarobot's controls provide few options and minimal precision with regard to aim. The swing meter is the standard three-press variety, but it tends to move either too slow or too fast depending on your club. Upon hitting the ball, the camera follows closely from behind over its long, choppy journey. Except for some pixelated scaling trees, there's nothing to see, and the ball physics is absolutely atrocious. Not only does the ball not travel in an arc, but it only bounces once and doesn't roll!
The half-assed putting green screen is even worse. Not only does it fail to convey the contours of the green, but the putting animation is so poor that the ball appears to "hop" towards the hole. Close-ups of the ball rolling into the cup look great, until you realize it's the same canned animation used over and over again. With so many good golf games available for the 16-bit systems (namely EA's PGA Golf series), Mecarobot Golf serves no purpose. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.
You'll face a lot of familiar enemies like those little "helmet" guys and the freaky things that walk end over end. New foes include scurrying roaches (that will make your skin crawl) and "snakes" in a trash compactor reminiscent of Star Wars. Larger enemies include polar bears that bat ice crystals toward you and stegosaurus that hurl their bone plates. One consequence of larger sprites is that you have less room to navigate, and there are times when it seems like some hits are just mandatory. This makes landing on spikes (always fatal) all the more agonizing. Is it just me, or is this game hard as balls?!
The special weapons vary in effectiveness, but I absolutely love the "shield" of spinning junk. It's nice how you can toggle weapons using the shoulder buttons instead of going to a separate screen. There are eight stages, but you'll need to complete the first four to unlock the second set. I love some of the themes like Halloween and Jurassic Park, but some stages are less fun than they could be. Some of the jumps in the Spring Man stage are ridiculous, and fighting the bulldozer in Turbo Man's stage is tiresome.
The game's happy-go-lucky tunes are far less appealing than the catchy 8-bit tunes of old. The stereo effects are effective, but the explosions are super lame - both visually and audio-wise. That password feature is pretty slick however. Mega Man 7 is probably more difficult than it should be, but I like how it brings the series into the 16-bit world while staying true to its roots. Just be aware that this cartridge might cost you a serious chunk of change. © Copyright 2013 The Video Game Critic.
The gameplay is uneven at times, but provides enough action to give your thumb a serious workout! Mine is still hurting! Responsive controls let you pass, shoot, lob, slide, and head the ball. Also available is a "special move" which is the only surefire way to score against the incredibly cheap computer goalie. Only a small area of the field is visible at a time, so passing often requires more luck than skill. A "radar" is displayed at the top of the screen, but I didn't find it very useful.
Your goalie can't move out of the goal, which is frustrating when the ball is sitting right in front of him! Mega Man Soccer does do a few things right. The arenas have walls around them to minimize play stoppage, and you can execute headers better than any other soccer game I've ever played. Headers can even be aimed with no problem.
You can select from twenty different robots characters and nine unique stadiums. Mega Man Soccer's soundtrack is catchy as hell, and I even found myself humming along. It may not appeal to serious sports fans, but Mega Man collectors and arcade-minded sports fans might want to track this one down. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.
The gameplay is basically blast or be blasted, and the graphics are functional but far from spectacular. Mega Man X does have a few thrilling moments however, like when you ride a minecart or commandeer a robot. Unfortunately, the game suffers from some serious slow-down, usually during the most dramatic moments. The music is very good, and a password feature allows you to save your progress. I liked Mega Man X, but it's pretty much by the numbers. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.
Each opponent has distinctive movements, attacks, and obligatory weak spots. One looks like a bird, another resembles a mechanical monkey, and another looks like a humanoid with a shield. You'll first battle in locations around the globe and then on other planets. Some locations are pleasing to the eye (like the space station) but the stages have little bearing on the gameplay.
Metal Combat begins with an extended tutorial that's too long for its own good. Likewise before each stage you'll sit through a highly unnecessary dialogue exchange. For a light gun shooter, you have quite a few options. Your normal rapid-fire shots are cool but mainly useful for shooting down incoming projectiles. To inflict serious damage you can charge your shot up to three levels. Special items include bombs and shields, but some of these can drain your health, so use them sparingly.
Timing is critical in this game. Some robots fly around and will only remain still for a second. Others will only reveal their weak spot momentarily, so you'll need to be ready for it. The accuracy of the gun is excellent, and that's good because Metal Combat is hard as balls. Each enemy is like a puzzle, making them satisfying to defeat.
Records are recorded via battery back-up, and mine still works! Metal Combat isn't particularly memorable but it makes good use of that Super Scope controller that's been sitting in your attic for the last twenty years. Note: The Super Scope only operates on old-style TVs. © Copyright 2013 The Video Game Critic.
This platformer is not only hopelessly generic, but it incorporates all of your not-so-favorite cliches like spikes, trampolines, locked doors, zip-lines, invincibility power-ups, and bottomless pits. Michael's out to rescue his kidnapped teammates, and his journey begins in an old, abandoned building. The game strikes a Halloween vibe with its dilapidated scenery, swarming bats, giant spiders, and ominous soundtrack. Certain foes appear to have pumpkins for heads, but fear not - those are only basketballs!
The excruciatingly long first stage quickly wears out his welcome, and then you explore equally uninspired locations like a factory and laboratory. Michael has the ability to toss basketballs at enemies in a rapid-fire manner, and I like that. In what seems like a bit of an inside joke, there's also a baseball power-up. You can slam-dunk on hoops inexplicably nailed to every other wall, and that's moderately fun. Michael lends his deep voice to a few samples, tossing out one-liners like "it's showtime", "time out", and "sweet!"
What ultimately kills Windy City is its irritating stage designs, most of which are very maze like and offer no sense of direction. It's easy enough to dispose of full-sized foes, but small pests like bats and spiders relentlessly chip away at your health. Finally, who in the hell thought those tilting platforms were a good idea? You slide off one if you're not perfectly centered! They might just be the single most irritating thing ever incorporated into a video game. I'd like to give my man Mike the benefit of the doubt, but I'd only be kidding myself if I claimed Chaos in Windy City was any good. © Copyright 2009 The Video Game Critic.
Mania's graphics look crisp and attractive, but the scenery isn't nearly as detailed as I expected. The game does make good use of the system's rotation effects, and incorporates a nifty 3D stage with Mickey running from a stampede. Surprisingly, the music is mediocre, falling short of the standards set by classic Disney titles like Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse (Genesis, 1990) and Aladdin (SNES, 1993).
Certain stages are quite imaginative, challenging you to interact with the environment in unusual ways. For example, in the first stage your path is blocked by a stack of boxes, and only by defeating the nearby cat and using his belly as a trampoline can you progress. Unfortunately, other stages are not as well crafted, and a few are downright infuriating. In the Mad Doctor level, you'll need to deal with skeletons whose bones spray all over the place as they "explode", resulting in many cheap hits. Later in the same stage you'll need to leap between rolling tables, and missing a table will cost you a life even if you land on solid ground!
I should also mention the "loading" times. Yes, you read it right, this cartridge forces you to wait about ten seconds between stage segments. I can only assume they compressed the data in order to save memory and minimize manufacturing costs. The lack of a password feature is equally unforgivable, considering this is a 1994 game. Mickey Mania introduces a few bright ideas, but I expect my Disney games to be more polished than this. © Copyright 2005 The Video Game Critic.
The tracks are viewed from directly overhead and inspired by typical household locations like a pool table, desk, or kitchen table with cheerios forming the track. My personal favorites are the bright sunny beach tracks that wind around sand castles. The crisp, colorful graphics are functional, but appear a bit sparse at times. Micro Machines doesn't make an effort to be 3D, but there are a lot of "bumps" that make your car appear to "hop" thanks to some clever shadowing effects. Except for the tanks, there are no weapons or power-ups, but that simplicity is actually refreshing in a way.
There's a single-player "challenge mode", and while it certainly is a challenge, there's no score to gauge your performance, which limits its replay value. To get the most out of Micro Machines you need to hook up the multi-tap for some four-player head-to-head action. Players who know the tracks have a marked advantage however, since you can't see too far ahead and it's hard to react to turns when you don't know they're coming. Overall, Micro Machines for the SNES is a solid but unspectacular arcade-style racer. © Copyright 2007 The Video Game Critic.
The character selection screen lets you choose between five gyrating teenagers. Each sports a slightly different attack, not unlike the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The game is one-player only, which is disappointing. The action takes place on a single plane, much like Ninja Warriors (Taito, 1994). In the opening stage you continuously jump-kick ninja clones on a non-descript street, and it gets so repetitive that you welcome the opportunity to jump between factory platforms.
Halfway through each stage you transform into a Power Ranger, equipped with a weapon, bombs, and the ability to vault from walls. This spices things up but there's little technique aside from detonating a bomb at the opportune moment. The sewer stage incorporates rising and falling water, and the lovely skyline in the rooftop stage is the game's visual highlight. Most stages are remarkably plain, and level five features the most fake-looking cave I've seen in a video game (or elsewhere for that matter).
Environmental hazards like falling girders and spiders seem less annoying when you realize they harm your enemies as well! Some of the bosses are pretty cool, like the skeletal figure who gradually loses his limbs (and body). There's no score, but a pass-code is provided between levels. This code is critical because you won't feel a burning desire to replay old stages. Mighty Morphin Power Rangers is strictly a by-the-numbers affair only die-hard fans will find worthwhile. © Copyright 2014 The Video Game Critic.
You select between six heroes presented as digitized photos of the actors from the film. You can punch, jump, and execute a special move like a flying kick. I especially like Kimberly's bitch-slap and Aisha's Van Damme-style split. The stages include a city street, an aircraft carrier, ski slopes, and a locomotive. I prefer the shopping mall with its laughable signs like "FOOD". The scenery is semi-interactive but tends to repeat itself; as you walk through town you'll pass the same woman looking at the same store front. I love how cars speeding down the street mow down your enemies. It's the greatest feeling!
Bad guys are decked out in ridiculous outfits in an array of fashionable colors. The fighting action is generic but just when you think it's getting old you transform into your Power Ranger, and that seriously ratchets up the fun. Now you can knock out an enemy with a single punch! The only thing that bothers me is how all the characters look like dudes in Power Ranger form; I guess the programmers needed to conserve memory. If you power-up your meter a second time you'll wield a nifty weapon like a ninja sword. Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie is my type of game. The stages are bright, the controls are crisp, and that pulse-pounding musical score can only mean one thing: it's morphin time! © Copyright 2018 The Video Game Critic.
Gamers gravitated toward the bloody Genesis edition in droves, but a few (like my friend Steve) did take a chance on this SNES version. I remember "back in the day" when a bunch of friends converged at my house to compare the two games. While the Genesis was generally more fun, the SNES version definitely looked better. Its clean, well-defined graphics added detail to the digitized fighters - like the reflection of Kano's mask for example. The illustrated backdrops featured more animations as well. The SNES had better audio quality, but most prefer the music of the Genesis edition.
Presentation aside, the SNES Mortal Kombat suffers from stiff controls and questionable collision detection. I've seen sweep kicks trip a guy from across the room, and projectiles that should have sailed past a fighter magically connect. Executing special moves like Sub Zero's freeze ray is pretty difficult. Last but not least, the lack of blood really hurts.
Punches to the face are punctuated by flying brown stuff that's supposed to be sweat but looks more like sand! The game reaches comical proportions when a character falls into a spiked pit, yet somehow misses all of the spikes! The fact that full blood was included in Mortal Kombat 2 for the SNES was basically an acknowledgement by Nintendo that they totally missed the boat with this one. © Copyright 2009 The Video Game Critic.
The roster has been bumped up from seven characters to twelve. Newcomers include the vampire-like Barakka, the Scorpion palette-swap Reptile, shape-changer Shang Tsung, the hat-flinging Kung Lao, and two hot babes (Mileena and Kitana). There are some interesting new stages including a mysterious forest with scary trees and a temple with a dragon flying in the distant background (you won't see the dragon in the Genesis version). There are more moves and fatalities per character, along with the option to execute comical "friendship" and "babality" finishing moves.
Less amusing is that digitized nerd who pops up in the lower right corner with annoying frequency. It's easy to get the basics of MK2 down, but mastering the special moves, combos, techniques, and finishing moves gives the game considerable depth. The finishing moves aren't listed in the manual, but it wasn't long before they were plastered all over video game magazines. Mortal Kombat 2 was a fantastic sequel that sent gamers into a frenzy, and most regard it as the highlight of the series. © Copyright 2009 The Video Game Critic.
Scorpion and Rayden are nowhere to be found, and Sub Zero has been unmasked - effectively stripping him of his mystique. The robots Cyrax and Sector seem out of place, and new characters like Kabal and Stryker are just plain boring. Sheeva looks scary enough with her four arms, but boy oh boy is she cheap! If she's going to jump off the screen and stomp my ass into the ground, she might as well be a boss!
There are more special moves per character, but the fatalities are more complex and you have less time to execute them. The static backgrounds are rather bland, and the urban scenery (including a subway) seems to be taking the series in a direction most of us wish it wouldn't go. The news isn't all bad however.
You get fourteen fighters from the start, and there are plenty of surprises and unlockables. The controls are very responsive and the pacing is frantic. Cool "match-up screens" precede each bout. Mortal Kombat 3 plays as well as any MK game, but its stylistic changes tend to undermine the mystical quality that made the series so appealing in the first place. © Copyright 2009 The Video Game Critic.
This game originally appeared in 1982 as a fast-moving Dig Dug clone. To its credit, it does have some original elements. Instead of inflating monsters, you destroy them with a magic ball that bounces around the maze until it hits something. Instead of having to eliminate all of the monsters, stages are cleared by collecting all of the fruit, giving the game a Pac-man flavor.
Mr. Do's graphics are colorful and vibrant, but I could barely tolerate its circus-style music. A fun head-to-head two player mode is also included. Just be sure not to leave this game on overnight, or the clown could potentially escape from the television screen and kill you in your sleep. That's just common sense. © Copyright 1999 The Video Game Critic.
Screen shots courtesy of Video Game Museum