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Q*bert 3
Grade: C
Publisher: NTV (1992)
Reviewed: 2018/4/10

screenshotThe title of this game begs the question "What the [expletive] happened to Q*bert 2?" Apparently that was Q*bert's Qubes (Atari 2600, 1984), which few people paid any attention to. Q*bert 3 tries to bridge the gap between home and arcade, retaining the classic elements while expanding the number of screens to a whopping 100! Instead of hopping between blocks you'll jump on crates, presents, suitcases, ice cubes, and birthday cakes.

Each stage offers a unique configuration, some with disjointed sections you travel between via spinning discs. Interesting new elements include cannons that fire bouncing balls, enemies that move sideways, and bonus fruit. I like how target markers appear on blocks where enemies are about to drop, preventing a lot of cheap deaths. Since Q*bert only moves diagonally you'll need to rotate the controller 45 degrees, and it takes some getting used to.

A bigger problem is trying to figure out how to jump on discs. Especially with irregular-shaped "blocks", it's not always clear where the jumping-off point is. Likewise, trying to track the sideways-moving enemies is confusing. The graphics are smooth and bright, but the lounge music and psychedelic backdrops are obnoxious. Good thing you can shut them off.

The relatively low difficulty allows you to delve deep into the creative stages, but the gameplay starts to get a little stale after a while. There's a continue option but a password feature would have been better. Q*bert 3 made me realize you can't simply stretch out an arcade classic and maintain the same level of fun throughout. © Copyright 2018 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 63,190
1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: Q*bert (Atari XEGS)
Q*bert's Qubes (Colecovision)
Q*bert's Qubes (Atari 2600)
Q*bert (Atari 2600)
Q*bert (NES)

Raiden Trad
Grade: B-
Publisher: Toei (1992)
Reviewed: 2019/1/23

screenshotRaiden Trad offers manic vertical shooting action as you fly up the screen blasting plane formations and tanks situated on crumbling overpasses. By collecting icons of the same color you can gradually amass substantial firepower. The red weapon provides wide coverage but the concentrated blue laser is great for making short work of the big mechanical beasts. Additional power-ups equip you with homing missiles and bombs, although these icons tend to be elusive, dancing away as you try to snag them.

Compared to the Genesis version this Raiden Trad is sharper but the animation is kind of jerky. I expected the music to be much better but it actually comes off a little flat. Still, the action is exhilarating once you max out your weapon, wiping out everything before it can even appear on the screen. When you finally die and have to restart with your peashooter, it really hurts.

This SNES edition also supports two-player co-op, and the game is much easier in this mode despite a drop in framerate. The difficulty could ramp better; the third boss can survive six bombs! Still, when it comes to SNES shooters Raiden Trad has to be somewhere near the top. © Copyright 2019 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 199,950
1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: Raiden Trad (Genesis)
Raiden (Lynx)
Raiden (Jaguar)
Raiden (Turbografx-16)
Tanks But No Tanks (Atari 2600)

Rap Jam Volume 1
Grade: D-
Publisher: Motown Games (1994)
Reviewed: 2001/11/24


screenshotIt was awfully presumptuous of Motown Games to place "Volume 1" in the title of this, as if they were certain it would be a runaway success. The idea behind Rap Jam Volume 1 is that you could play basketball as your favorite rap stars (circa 1994). There are some big names here, including Public Enemy, LL Cool J, Naughty By Nature, Queen Latifah, Yo-Yo, and Coolio. Unfortunately, the players on the court look nothing like the rappers they're meant to portray. Queen Latifah in particular has never been as tiny or skinny as that mini-skirted babe running around the court!

Rap Jam's gameplay isn't bad because it's modeled after the fast-paced NBA Jam. There are plenty of rim-rattling dunks and a handy shot meter that makes it fun to sink jumpers. Up to four players can complete, and there's a nice selection of outdoor courts. It's the controls that hold this game back.

There's simply no way to rebound the ball, so you'll have to wait for the ball to come down after a missed shot. Lame! The passing controls are confusing, and the "Xtra" button is a poor substitute for turbo. There are no three-pointers in the game, despite having a three-point line. And since when is double dribbling legal? It had a few things going for it, but don't hold your breath for Rap Jam Volume 2. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.

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1 to 4 players 

If you like this game, try: Tecmo Super NBA Basketball (Super Nintendo)
NBA Street (Playstation 2)
Ultimate Basketball (NES)
Slam and Jam (Saturn)
NCAA Final Four 99 (Playstation)

Return of Double Dragon
Grade: C
Publisher: Retroism (2018)
Reviewed: 2018/9/28

screenshotboxThis "new" release is actually the Japanese version of Super Double Dragon (Tradewest, 1992). I think you'll find Return of Double Dragon to be technically superior and substantially more fun. It offers more moves, bigger stages, extra music, better balance, and a handy option menu.

This is a side-scrolling brawler along the lines of Streets of Rage (Genesis, 1991) or Final Fight (SNES, 1991). The background graphics are pleasing to the eye, beginning in a flashy casino and moving to an airport and Chinatown. The characters are small but distinctive, and many are armed with weapons. It looks like one of the bosses is actually talking on his cell phone between beatdowns. That's disrespectful! The pacing is slow and frankly there are times when it feels like the action is moving in slow motion.

The controls however are robust; the basic punch, kick, and jump moves are just the tip of the iceberg. You can block, wall-jump, and deflect knife throws. You can perform Street Fighter-style hurricane kicks and knock punching bags into goons. Somehow I was able to grab a thug's arm, twist it, and hurl him into another enemy. Once you acquire the nun-chucks or bo-staff you'll be smacking around lackies like a 1980's action hero! The collision detection is generous but tends to work in your favor. Return of Double Dragon is slow and repetitive at times, but it's still a tasty slice of 1992. © Copyright 2018 The Video Game Critic.

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Our high score: 785,600
1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: Super Double Dragon (Super Nintendo)
Final Fight One (Game Boy Advance)
Double Dragon (Genesis)
Congo Bongo (Intellivision)
Phalanx (Super Nintendo)

Revolution X
Grade: F-
Publisher: Acclaim (1994)
Reviewed: 2016/3/2

screenshotIn 1994 Aerosmith was a hit-making machine that could do no wrong. Then they tried their hand at a video game. Oy! What a reprehensible piece of [expletive] this is. The intro screen features the band playing the song "Rag Doll", giving the player a sense of false hope. The contrived premise behind Revolution X pits you against a totalitarian regime called "the New Order" who has banned Aerosmith among other things.

The gameplay is best described as a light gun shooter with no light gun support. Instead you move a squirrely crosshair around the screen, gunning down an endless parade of shirtless clones. At least they're considerate enough to line up in neat rows so you can continuously fire in one spot, mowing them down by the dozen. The scene in the club with bikini-clad chicks dancing in cages adds a touch of class, but most of the time you're staring at pixelated brick buildings. Bad guys don't just fall from the windows - they hurl themselves through the glass! Holding down the button to spray bullets sounds like fun but the action is repetitive to the max!

In addition to lousy control Revolution X suffers from horrible slowdown and even muffled audio. Did Aerosmith record the soundtrack at the bottom of a well?! This is one game you'll shut off long before you run out of lives. Not only is Revolutionary X mind-numbing but it's broken to boot! In my game the helicopter boss was literally impossible to destroy. Unfortunately it looks like Aerosmith programmed the game too. Maybe this New Order had the right idea after all. © Copyright 2016 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 644,500
1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: Revolution X (Saturn)
Casino Slot Machine (Odyssey 2)
Maximum Force (Playstation)
Area 51 (Playstation)
Gunfighter: The Legend of Jesse James (Playstation)

Rival Turf
Grade: C+
Publisher: Jaleco (1992)
Reviewed: 2009/10/21

screenshotI'll be the first to admit that my original review of Rival Turf was entirely too harsh. Evidently my bias for Streets of Rage got the best of me. Rival Turf may be a poor man's Streets of Rage, but hey - it's at least as good as the Final Fight games. The unintentionally hilarious box cover shows two young teenagers trying hard to look tough. The game itself is a generic side-scrolling brawler that lets you clash with criminal clones in different colored outfits.

The predictable cast includes martial artists, skinny freaks, and the obligatory fat guys who attack with a belly flop. There's also a muscleman named Arnold who looks a lot like your favorite Terminator. You can choose between two playable characters - the brawny Oozie Nelson and the more agile Jack Flak. I would definitely recommend Jack because Oozie is just too damn slow (his body slams feel like slow-motion!).

There aren't many weapons lying around, but occasionally you'll find a brick or rock to throw. Some enemies toss sticks of dynamite, but their explosions are awfully wimpy. Rival Turf's gameplay is uninspired but still fun thanks to responsive controls that let you easily dish out the whup-ass. Throwing one enemy into others is especially effective, and I like how they all land with an emphatic thud.

Holding a shoulder button is supposed to let you run, but instead it looks like you're walking really fast. Pretty cheesy! Another odd (and annoying) aspect of the game is the pronounced delay between the time you hit an enemy and when the damage is reflected in his life meter. It can be confusing. I enjoyed most of the urban scenery (like the bus ride), but a few areas are boring (like the locker room and parking garage).

You're treated to some slick city skylines, but in later stages the action moves south of the border where the scenery is exceptionally bland. The mediocre audio features repetitive tunes and muffled sound effects. The two-player mode exhibits some slow-down, but the single player action is highly playable. Rival Turf is as derivative as they come, but if you're okay with that, you'll have a good time. © Copyright 2009 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 24
1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: Final Fight (Super Nintendo)
Renegade (NES)
Final Fight CD (Sega CD)
Final Fight 3 (Super Nintendo)
Streets of Rage 2 (Genesis)

Road Runner's Death Valley Rally
Grade: C+
Publisher: Sunsoft (1992)
Reviewed: 2010/7/17

screenshotIn the early 90's graphic technology had advanced to the point where cartoon characters could be pretty faithfully rendered in a video game. Players were intrigued by the prospect of controlling their favorite Saturday morning personalities, and Death Valley Rally generated a lot of buzz for this reason. Heck, its screenshots looked like a freakin' TV show!

The characters are rendered using large sprites, and Wile E. Coyote can be seen using all of his famous contraptions like his gliding suit, steamroller, and rocket ship. No doubt about it - this is one impressive-looking game. Sunsoft was somewhat less successful when it came to recreating the frenetic action of the cartoon. The idea is to guide the Road Runner to the end of each stage while avoiding the coyote's wacky antics and other obstacles. Flags can be gathered along the way to earn bonus points.

Some stages feature long stretches that allow the Road Runner to zip around, but there's a lot more precision jumping than I expected. Even in the early stages you're often required to carefully hop between narrow platforms. The floaty jumps provide some room for error, but when the screen scrolls upwards it's hard to tell where you're about to land! The coyote enters at random intervals, and he's often hard to avoid due to his size. Locations include desert cliffs, mineshafts, construction sites, and even a space stage with a cameo from Marvin the Martian.

The scenery isn't very interesting, but it's always fun to see what kind of new contraption the coyote has rigged up. Watching him meet his demise is amusing, especially when he goes into that classic free-fall sequence (ending in a puff of dust). The stages are relatively short but the lack of a password feature is glaring. Road Runner's Death Valley Rally has a lot of eye candy. Too bad it looks so much better than it plays! © Copyright 2010 The Video Game Critic.

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Our high score: 14,500
1 player 

If you like this game, try: Desert Speedtrap (Game Gear)
Desert Demolition (Genesis)
Road Runner (Atari 2600)
Looney Tunes Space Race (Dreamcast)
Spike (Vectrex)

Robocop Versus Terminator
Grade: C-
Publisher: Virgin (1993)
Reviewed: 2013/6/19

screenshotThis has to be good; it's packaged in a molded black plastic box for Pete's sake. Oh wait - the back is cardboard. So how does this Robocop Versus Terminator stack up to the Genesis version? It's a major letdown. After a cheesy comic-book style intro featuring some kid with a bowl haircut, the opening stage shows a lot of promise. The red evening city skyline looks magnificent and the thunderstorm is a nice touch.

You control Robocop, whose body is surrounded by a cheesy colored outline. His clanking walk conveys a nice sense of mass but he feels a bit sluggish and doesn't easily latch onto pipes or ladders. Your oversized weapons include plasma guns and rocket launchers, and thankfully you can't run out of ammo! Enemy projectiles move very slowly that you can often outrun them.

Robocop Versus Terminator packs plenty of rapid-fire shooting action, but there are a lot of unnecessary annoyances. One bad guy blasts craters in the streets, and Robocop has a tendency to fall right into them! It's not a pretty sight to see Robocop defeated at the hands of a pothole! Enemies in the first stage tend to be chicks, and it doesn't feel right walking down the street pumping slugs into a bunch of screaming women.

The platform jumping action feels tedious because the ledges are so narrow. And when you stand still a freakin' girder falls on your head! Who's bright idea was that? In advanced stages you contend with crawling bombs and soldiers with shields. Impressive bosses include a terminator "tank" and a pretty amazing hologram face.

Compared to the Genesis game, the violence is tame. When you shoot an enemy he basically goes up in smoke. When you shoot a sniper in the window, black tar is splashed across the curtains. Robocop Versus Terminator isn't bad, but once you play the Genesis version there's no turning back. © Copyright 2013 The Video Game Critic.

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Our high score: SLN 96800
Save mechanism: Password
1 player 

If you like this game, try: Robocop Versus Terminator (Genesis)
Frisky Tom (Atari 5200)
Dirty Larry: Renegade Cop (Lynx)
Robocop 3 (NES)
Red Star, The (Playstation 2)

Rocky Rodent
Grade: C+
Publisher: Irem (1993)
Reviewed: 2018/1/23

screenshotThis platformer gets off to a rough (rocky?) start, forcing the player to sit through endless dialog bubbles in an opening cutscene featuring a mob boss. Get on with it will ya?! The star of the game is an ugly rat with bulging yellow eyes, scruffy fur, and a wagging tongue.

As Rocky Rodent scampers around the streets of Paris he'll encounter armadillos, gophers, and animated fire hydrants. I hate how moles leap out of the ground with no warning. That might make sense in the grass, but in an apartment? It's tempting to write off this game but things get interesting when you stumble upon a can of hairspray.

Depending on the haircut that materializes Rocky can perform a variety of special moves. Spiky hair lets him scoop and toss enemies, a mohawk acts like a boomerang, and a ponytail can be snapped like a whip. Your hairdo also allows you to latch onto platforms and swing yourself up onto them in an unlikely manner.

The controls could be better. Was it really necessary to combine the attack and run buttons? The graphics are surprisingly sharp, with attractive city skylines offering layers of historic architecture and distinctive landmarks. You'll venture through a haunted apartment, clock tower, factory, and of course the obligatory sewers.

I enjoyed the exploration element of this game. Each location offers multiple paths and hidden surprises, so it pays to take a slow, deliberate approach. A few constant-scrolling stages provide a nice change of pace including a freeway stage where you jump between moving cars. That stage ends with a mafia encounter and there's something surreal about watching poor Rocky being machine-gunned down by a crime boss. Rocky Rodent isn't going to win any awards but its excessive weirdness helps set it apart. © Copyright 2018 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 84,200
1 player 

If you like this game, try: Twisted Metal 2 (Playstation)
Clock Tower 3 (Playstation 2)
Clock Tower (Playstation)
Clock Tower 2 (Playstation)
Platoon (NES)

Roger Clemens' MVP Baseball
Grade: C+
Publisher: LJN (1992)
Reviewed: 2020/6/27

screenshotMost 16-bit baseball games tend to fall into the same generic mold but not Roger Clemens' MVP Baseball. Its intro sequence features "the Rocket" hurling a fastball to the plate and you're along for the ride. Trust me - it's awesome. Upon setting up an exhibition game the possibility dawned on me that MVP Baseball may not have secured an MLB license. Maybe it was seeing teams like the Seattle Pioneers, the Chicago Red Birds, and St. Louis Dragons. The New York Rebels even have a Confederate logo. If this was released today there would be riots in the streets!

The players look generic with vaguely real-sounding names like T. Stemper, A. Huffy, and P. Griffith. The semi-realistic graphics are appealing, with a clean, well-designed pitcher-batter screen. Sometimes you might even notice the batter chewing dip or blowing a bubble. It's easy to hit the ball if you swing early, and once the ball's in play things get very interesting.

Most baseball games maintain a behind-the-plate view, but MVP positions the camera behind the fielder. It absolutely makes you feel "in the game" but it takes practice to figure out where the ball is going to land! Then there's the challenge of throwing to the correct base. The throwing controls remain consistent from any angle (left for first, up for second, etc) but it's still disorienting. That said, when you throw out a runner it's remarkably satisfying.

Also dramatic are the close-ups of runners sliding into a base. Not only does the high angle look cool, but the runner can slide left or right to avoid the tag! If there's one visual disappointment it's the home runs. The fielder angle doesn't even allow you to see the ball going into the stands. The baserunning is complicated; I counted 13 different button combinations in the manual dedicated to controlling runners. Between half innings you're treated to a digitized image of a ballpark, which would be neat if it weren't always the same ballpark.

MVP Baseball has a steep learning curve but wrangling with the controls is part of the fun. The first time I played I gave up ten runs in the first inning but only one in the second. I'd recommend shutting off the annoying music via the options menu, except that leaves you playing in complete silence. Someone forgot the crowd noise! Roger Clemens' MVP Baseball is a strange bird, but that's what I like about it. For all its flaws, I'll take this over a garden-variety baseball title any day. © Copyright 2020 The Video Game Critic.

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1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: Major League Baseball 2K11 (Xbox 360)
Major League Baseball (Intellivision)
Tecmo Super Baseball (Genesis)
Baseball (Game Boy)
Realsports Baseball (Atari 5200)

Rushing Beat Ran (Japan)
Grade: C+
Publisher: Jaleco (1992)
Reviewed: 2015/2/1

screenshotI hate getting an inferior version of a Japanese game just because the guy in charge of localization decided to change more than the language or title. Rushing Beat Ran was released as Brawl Brothers in America, and the name change is understandable. Less excusable was the decision to turn the sewer and gym stages into confusing labyrinths. You need an FAQ just to find your way out, and that's just awful.

Fortunately the Brawl Brothers cartridge contains the complete Japanese version accessible via an obscure code. You hit BAXY continuously during white Jaleco screen, and when garbage appears you press Start, down three times, and Start again to bring up an options screen. Quit out of that and feast your eyes on the Rushing Beat Ran title screen!

There are five playable characters including a green ninja, a blonde female, and a red dude who looks like M. Bison of Street Fighter 2 fame. The characters you don't pick are bosses, but as you defeat them they become selectable between stages. Prior to each stage you're presented with a colorful map, a la Final Fight. One thing I love about 2D brawlers is their layered illustrated scenery, and the early stages here sport a lot of interesting detail.

The controls are crisp and hits are punctuated with emphatic symbols like "Spak!" and "Crash!" You get a lot of mileage out of throwing people. The only thing better than tossing goons into each other is tossing them off of moving lifts. One aspect of the game that sucks is the weapons. A bat with nails sticking out of it might be effective if only I could hit somebody with it!

The bosses are pretty cheap, always grabbing you from out of nowhere. I'd recommend playing on easy just to compensate for that. The upbeat music is great and a score is displayed after each stage. Rushing Beat Run is standard beat-em-up fare, but a big step up from the tainted version we were originally served. © Copyright 2015 The Video Game Critic.

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Our high score: 158
1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: Punch-Out!! (NES)
Fire Emblem Awakening (Guest Review) (Nintendo 3DS)
Brawl Brothers (Super Nintendo)
Final Fight (Super Nintendo)
Final Fight One (Game Boy Advance)


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