system Index Sn-Sz
Grade: F
Publisher: Vic Tokai (1994)
Posted: 2023/8/23

screenshotSOS has an intriguing premise. You're traveling on the luxury ocean liner "Lady Crithania'' on a stormy night when a huge wave capsizes the ship. This game preceded the film Titanic (1997) by several years, but it was clearly influenced by its 1985 discovery, and perhaps more so by The Poseidon Adventure (1972). The game has a cinematic opening with movie-style credits and dramatic orchestrated music.

You meet a few of the tiny passengers including a pair of kids before the disaster occurs. After the wave hits you find yourself exploring an upside down ship, walking along ceilings and crawling on walls. The boat periodically lists to one side or another, conveying the impression it's very unstable. The game has good atmosphere; I'll give it that much. And the SNES was a good fit, with graphic capabilities allowing for the whole screen to rotate.

But if you think the premise is nightmarish, wait until you play the game. You're stuck wandering through corridors and navigating stairwells that all look exactly the same. Since everything is upside down, it's really hard to tell where you can go and what's blocked. You might see something that looks like a ladder, but you can't climb it. Likewise you might attempt to walk over what appears to be a solid floor and fall right through.

The controls are absolutely horrendous. You can't tell where you're allowed to jump and grab, and this is further exacerbated when the platforms are slanted diagonally. You're constantly running into walls and banging your head on things. Didn't I just navigate through this same section ten minutes ago? Probably!

The X button allows you to speak to people, but it's all canned dialog which you have no control over. It seems 95% inconsequential but out of sheer desperation you end up talking to whoever you run into. In some cases people ask you to retrieve items. Sometimes they're just plain rude. I hope you like escort missions, because you're constantly waving people to safety.

The biggest joke is the arrows that seem to appear at random. You'll be so happy to see them, but like a mirage in the desert, these things are cruel. An arrow will tell you to enter a room, and as soon as you do it tells you to exit. This game will drive you crazy. Sometimes there are even multiple arrows pointing in different directions.

When you die the game subtracts five minutes from the hour you need to escape, giving the impression events are playing out in "real time". I hate this game. I'd prefer being stuck on an actual capsized ocean liner over playing this. I'm not fan of choking on frigid water, but it couldn't be worse than paging through pointless dialog and fumbling with the bad controls. If you want to experience the feeling of extreme distress, give SOS a try. © Copyright 2023 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 

If you like this game, try: X-Men: Mutant Apocalypse (Super Nintendo)
Revolution X (Saturn)
Alien Trilogy (Playstation)
Insanity (Turbografx-16)
Escape (Arcadia 2001)

Sonic Blast Man
Grade: D+
Publisher: Taito (1992)
Posted: 2023/8/23

screenshotA game called Sonic Blast Man begs the question "when did this come out?" Was it pure coincidence it was released shortly after the runaway hit Sonic the Hedgehog (Genesis, 1991)? I wonder how many kids asked Santa for Sonic, only to find this turkey under the Christmas tree.

Sonic Blast Man is decidedly un-Sonic-like. I couldn't find one single hedgehog! Instead it's a leisurely-paced side-scrolling brawler with large characters and repetitive gameplay. Our hero is decked out in some cheap Party City superhero costume, complete with knee pads and a console strapped to his chest. His helmet incorporates a pair of headphones with an antenna. Dork alert!!

The game is enjoyable in a mindless way. I like the colorful, oversized characters. Your attacks tend to be wacky, like something from the movie The Mask. You'll grab a stereotypical gang member and shake him up and down before tossing him to the side. You'll perform helicopter throws and windmill punches. There are Batman-style "SMASH!" and "BAGOOM!" exclamations.

Your jump-kick is surprisingly ineffective as you tend to get smacked right out of the air. You also have a limited supply of "dynamite punches" that damage everything on screen. I noticed some enemies lying on the ground take a few seconds to realize they're dead. When they finally do, they finally yell "bleh!", blink, and disappear.

The stages are pretty ordinary. There's a junkyard, factory, sewer, and finally a "grim castle". Upon using a continue you must completely restart your current stage. That seems fair until you realize just how long and monotonous these stages happen to be!

Most notable about Sonic Blast Man are its bonus stages. These present you with disturbing scenarios like a train about to hit a hot woman, or a 18-wheel truck bearing down on a baby carriage. Beating these stages with proper timing isn't hard, and they add some much-needed spice.

Sonic Blast Man is okay but I can't see any reason to choose this over superior brawlers like Streets of Rage (Genesis, 1991) or Final Fight (Capcom, 1991). All I know is, there must have been a lot of confused kids on Christmas morning in 1992. © Copyright 2023 The Video Game Critic.

High score: 168,400
1 player 

If you like this game, try: Final Fight (Super Nintendo)
Return of Double Dragon (Super Nintendo)
Renegade (NES)
Final Fight 2 (Super Nintendo)
Final Fight 3 (Super Nintendo)

Space Invaders
Grade: C+
Publisher: Nintendo (1997)
Posted: 1999/10/11

screenshotI was expecting this cartridge to offer a brand new Space Invaders with fancy 16-bit graphics, but instead Nintendo opted to bring back the classic in its original form! That's not a bad idea considering the original Space Invaders had not been previously available for a console before. Not only do you get the classic game as it was in 1978, but also four color variations including black and white, color, color background, and cellophane (simulated color stripes on screen). It's great to play Space Invaders again, but I have to admit that it's not the kind of shooter you can play for hours on end. Perhaps that's why Nintendo threw in a great two-player, split screen competitive mode. A pleasant surprise, it effectively pushes this cartridge over the top. © Copyright 1999 The Video Game Critic.
1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: Vector Vaders 2: The Director's Cut (Vectrex)
Space Invaders (Atari 5200)
Frogger (Genesis)
King of Fighters 99 (CD) (Neo Geo)
Space Invaders Revolution (Nintendo DS)

Space Megaforce
Grade: B+
Publisher: Toho (1992)
Posted: 2016/11/7

screenshotSpace Megaforce has all the qualities you want in a vertical shooter: devastating weapons, thunderous explosions, memorable music, and a kick-ass power-up system. It even takes advantage of the SNES scaling and rotation capabilities - for better or worse. The opening stage doesn't look like much as you fly over a cloudy surface while blasting ground fortifications and rows of generic enemy ships. But the controls are terrific.

One button initiates rapid fire while another adjusts your shooting trajectory and a third unleashes bombs. Collecting clearly marked icons allow you to switch between weapons or power your current one up to six levels! Guided missiles, deflection shots, spread shots are effective, but I prefer the lasers which dart all over the screen. I find it amusing how guided missiles move in circles when there are no visible targets on the screen. Less desirable weapons include directional shots (which fire away from your direction) and the "power shot" which requires several seconds to charge. Switching weapons to suit the situation is fun but it can be hard to avoid undesirable icons.

The stages are wildly uneven in length and quality. In stage one you shoot weak joints of a space station, causing entire sections to disintegrate (whoa). The second stage features distant metal structures that scale in and out of view. Stage three feels more like a bonus stage as you blast through rows of bricks and icons. Beginning with the fourth stage the game goes a little overboard. Moons zoom erratically zoom in and out and you don't know what you can or can't touch. At least there's no noticeable slowdown.

The soundtrack is cheesy at times, but some of the stronger tunes call to mind Streets of Rage (Genesis, 1991). In the words of Andy Samberg impersonating Nick Cage "high praise indeed". Game sessions tend to be long (don't forget to blink) but if you're in a hurry there's also a "short" mode. It's a strange game, but Space Megaforce is one of the best shooters I've played on my SNES, if not the best. © Copyright 2016 The Video Game Critic.

High score: 1,365,370
1 player 

If you like this game, try: Nova Blast (Colecovision)
Space Ranger (Philips CD-i)
Raiden Trad (Super Nintendo)
Blue Lightning (Lynx)
Zanac (NES)

Spanky's Quest
Grade: D+
Publisher: Natsume (1991)
Posted: 2016/9/1

screenshotWith a name like Spanky's Quest, it almost goes without saying that Spanky would have been a monkey right? I wouldn't be surprised if the entire game was conceived around that goofy title. Spanky's Quest is not your garden-variety SNES title. It's a platform-puzzler in the tradition of Bubble Bobble (NES, 1989). After a long (and unskippable) opening cutscene the game plays out as a series of short stages.

Your goal is to collect enough keys in each stage to open a door. As Spanky hops between platforms he'll need to avoid animated fruits and vegetables. It's a premise straight out of 1982. Spanky attacks by tossing up a magic ball and heading it repeatedly to make it grow in size. Pressing a button then transforms it into sports balls (baseballs, volleyballs, etc) that fall on enemies.

In the best case you can rain down five large basketballs, obliterating enemies over a wide area. It's original in concept but also awkward and clunky. Different techniques are employed to clear each stage, and your best course of action is usually pretty obvious. I like the strategic element, but sometimes enemies converge before you know what's going on. Magic hats imbue you with special powers but these are gimmicky and short-lived.

The washed-out jungle backgrounds are bland but the second level offers bright white bridges and the third resembles an electric beach. Advanced stages incorporate mechanisms and traps, but these make it hard to tell what you can or can't touch. What's the deal with those annoying birds that appear out of nowhere? I like the originality, but Spanky's Quest is a marginal title that never really gains much traction. © Copyright 2016 The Video Game Critic.

High score: 32,100
Save: password
1 player 

If you like this game, try: Bubble Bobble (NES)
Super Monkey Ball (GameCube)
Aladdin (Game Gear)
Bubble Bobble 4 Friends (Nintendo Switch)
Mouse Quest (Atari XEGS)

Grade: F
Publisher: Acclaim (1995)
Posted: 2014/8/12

screenshotAs a Spawn fan I really wanted to like this game. Sadly, it was published by Acclaim, a company known for pumping out pure garbage during the 16-bit era. The good-looking intro features comic book-style cells splashed with vibrant colors. Hey, this looks good! The opening stage is set on the roof of a building, offering a dramatic view of the night skyline. Thugs continuously jump toward you from the right, but they all miss the ledge and fall to their deaths. It's downright comical and doesn't inspire confidence.

At first the game seems decent as you methodically beat up generic goons around town. In addition to kicks and punches, Spawn has Dhalsim's Yoga Spear move from Street Fighter II (Capcom, 1992) and Luke Skywalker's flip attack from Super Empire Strikes Back (LucasArts, 1992). Spawn walks slowly but can jump pretty high if you hold down the jump button. The special moves are a joke. For some reason you need to hold in the right trigger for part of the button sequence, and it's so awkward!

You can't leave the stage until you've killed enough thugs, but the game doesn't bother to let you know when that time comes. Once I must have killed about 25 goons before I realized I could simply exit to the right. In one particularly agonizing stage, you're forced to wall-jump between two buildings. As if the unresponsive controls weren't bad enough, a crosshair follows you around, shooting you out of the air.

That's painful, but the most brutal aspect of Spawn are the bosses. The first boss, Overtkill, isn't so hard to kill but returns about two minutes after you thought you had defeated him. The next boss, Redeemer, is pretty much impossible to beat. He's invincible half the time and unleashes laser beams that deplete your entire life bar.

I used passwords to explore later stages, and they are horrible. You'll forge through various dimensions of hell, but it's hard to tell what you can or can't jump on, leading to many undeserved deaths. Flames appear under your feet when you walk, and demonic spiders fall on your head when you jump. Spawn is great fun if you're a sadomasochist. The designers either didn't know what they were doing or were the biggest douchebags in the world. © Copyright 2014 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 

If you like this game, try: Video Checkers (Atari 2600)
Street Fighter Collection 2 (Playstation)
Miner 2049er (Atari 5200)
Double Dragon (Genesis)
Street Fighter Anniversary Collection (Playstation 2)

Grade: F
Publisher: LJN (1994)
Posted: 2014/8/12

screenshotIn this game's kick-ass intro Spider-Man swings around a city with a full moon looming in the background and a gargoyle in the foreground. Then you're treated to the Spider-Man theme song sung by some kind of freaky electronic voice. This game is great until you play it! The perplexing controls and non-intuitive design is infuriating. And what is the deal with Spider-Man's body? He's so bulky and top-heavy, it might as well be the Incredible Hulk in that costume, and that huge head looks like something from an NES title.

The first stage takes place in a research facility, and its layout is totally redundant. Cliches come early and often in the form of timed flames, electric fields, and conveyor belts to nowhere. Enemy soldiers you encounter look exactly like Master Chief from Halo (Xbox, 2001). The control scheme doesn't make any sense. Spider-Man can crawl on ceilings, but apparently only in certain designated places. Likewise your webline never sticks where you need it to. And why in the world do I need to jump first before I can shoot my web line or grab a wall?

I felt bewildered playing this game, constantly wondering where the heck I was supposed to go. A pause screen lets you access grenades, but after highlighting them you must press select (not start!) to resume the game or your selection won't take. That's confusing, and adding insult to injury, the grenades are worthless. In theory you're supposed to be able to call in members of the Fantastic Four, but those options were never available when I checked.

Spider-Man has a lot of arbitrary rules, like not being able to kick in a mesh grate until you fight a robot in a different part of the stage. Stage locations include a bridge, construction site, penthouse, and Coney Island. Except for a few nice skylines and sunsets, the scenery is lacking in detail and extremely repetitive. On a positive note, you do get to face-off against a wide range of classic foes like Doc Oct, Lizard, Rhino, Vulture, and Green Goblin. Still, this is so inferior to the Genesis Spider-Man (Genesis, 1991), you have to wonder what the developers were thinking. © Copyright 2014 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 

If you like this game, try: Spider-Man (Dreamcast)
Spider-Man (Genesis)
Incredible Hulk (Genesis)
Incredible Hulk (Nintendo DS)
Spider-Man (Game Boy Color)

Spider-Man/Venom: Maximum Carnage
Grade: B
Publisher: LJN (1994)
Posted: 2021/9/10

screenshotMaximum Carnage is a side-scrolling brawler starring Spider-Man and Venom, although oddly not at the same time. Nope, this is single-player only. Still, the designers nailed the visual style. Unlike older Spider-Man titles that made him look freakish, here our hero is well-proportioned and smoothly animated. Stage locations such as a street, rooftop, club, church, and lab lack detail, but the comic-style intermissions look amazing.

Spider-Man beats up a variety of goons including comic book geeks and guys in trenchcoats with random names like "Sal" and "Alamo". The same enemies appear in various color schemes, but crisp controls make it a pleasure to take them out. I love how Spider-Man can hoist objects over his head (including a dumpster) and toss them to devastating effect. Tossing one bad guy into others is an effective way to distribute the damage.

Maximum Carnage boasts a huge supporting cast including villains like Doppelganger, Shriek, Demogoblin, and my personal favorite, Morbius the vampire. Later in the game you can call in heroes for help including Captain America. Some of the non-villain "boss" encounters are a little bizarre, including chicks that whip their hair and middle-aged men armed with umbrellas.

At certain points in the game you'll select between Spider-Man or Venom. While they control pretty much the same, this selection affects the order of the stages. The non-linear structure of this game is unconventional to say the least. There are times when you appear overwhelmed in battle, only to have some obscure hero like "Cloak" swoop in and move you to a new location. These unexpected turn of events are exciting but make you wonder how much impact you're really having on events.

The Genesis version of Maximum Carnage may be slightly faster and smoother, but I prefer this SNES edition. The high-revving soundtrack is noticeably better, particularly when that sinister boss music kicks in. The sound effects pack a punch, especially when slugging multiple thugs at a time. When female enemies let out a scream it sounds alarmingly real. The game's "Climb" stage can be a nightmare, but at least this version prods you along with arrows.

Packing 22 action-packed stages and about a dozen secondary characters, Maximum Carnage delivers more depth than you might expect. If nothing else, I'll give this game credit for taking chances. If you can persevere through its repetitive early rounds you're in for a wild ride. © Copyright 2021 The Video Game Critic.

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High score: 55,390
1 player 

If you like this game, try: Spider-Man/Venom: Maximum Carnage (Genesis)
Marvel Super Heroes (Saturn)
Venom/Spider-Man: Separation Anxiety (Genesis)
Venom/Spider-Man: Separation Anxiety (Super Nintendo)
Captain America and the Avengers (Genesis)

Spider-Man/X-Men: Arcade's Revenge
Grade: D
Publisher: LJN (1992)
Posted: 2001/3/5

screenshotArcade's Revenge makes a fine first impression, but it wears off quickly as the game slowly descends into mediocrity. The graphics and animation look great, and uptempo music makes you feel energized. In the first stage you play as Spider-Man who must deactivate a series of bombs in a building. Your web-slinging skills are necessary to scaling the building, but the control scheme is awkward.

You can only shoot web sideways and touching anything sends you into a free-fall. You can easily cling to walls, but this is annoying when you don't want to cling to walls! Spider-Man must disarm the bombs in a certain order. This is annoying and tedious, but get used to it, because you'll have to replay this stage every time you put in the game! That's right, the selectable levels (featuring X-Men characters) aren't available until after you complete the first stage!

Subsequent stages are diverse but bizarre. Gambit battles giant chess pieces while avoiding huge rolling balls. Storm swims through her stages, and Wolverine battles giant toys in a fun house. I couldn't tell if I was playing X-Men or Mickey Mouse's Castle of Illusion! The X-Men characters are a little easier to control than Spider-Man, but the gameplay is just so-so, and the game is in dire need of a password feature. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.

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1 player 

If you like this game, try: X-Men: Mutant Apocalypse (Super Nintendo)
X-Men (NES)
Star Wars Chess (Sega CD)
Spider-Man (Atari 2600)
Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse (Genesis)

Star Fox
Grade: C+
Publisher: Nintendo (1993)
Posted: 2006/12/27

screenshotWhen I first purchased Star Fox back in 1993, it was a truly groundbreaking title. The cinematic opening sequence showing a squad of ships taking off from a hangar was a showcase in and of itself. Everyone I showed the game to was blown away by its 3D polygon graphics and shifting camera angles. These cutting-edge visuals were made possible by a special graphics chip embedded in the cartridge itself (which also added to the price).

The characters in Star Fox are personified animals, and you play the role of Fox McCloud, a brave star pilot out to defeat an evil Emperor (who's a dead-ringer for Dr. Zeus from Planet of the Apes, by the way). The action can be viewed from a first-person perspective or from behind your ship. Your squad is composed of a falcon (Falco), rabbit (Peppy), and frog (Slippy), but they're mainly only good for comic relief. When they're not getting in your way, you're constantly having to bail them out by shooting down enemies on their tail.

As a shooter, Star Fox has not aged well. The polygon graphics don't look so bad, but the choppy frame rate, rampant slow-down, and lagging controls take their toll on the fun factor. Most stages take place on the surface of a planet, and there are some impressive sights like hulking robots carrying construction materials. Other stages are set in outer space, but these tend to be somewhat disconcerting. Your targeting system is very constrained in the third-person view, and the crosshairs are surprisingly jumpy in first-person. The explosions are fantastic, and I love how bosses fall apart piece by piece, making their destruction all the more satisfying.

While not terribly addicting, Star Fox remains entertaining thanks to its thoughtful design and high production values. The heroic orchestrated score is outstanding, and hearing it will instantly transport you back to 1993. This was also the first game I can recall where the stereo sound effects really got my attention. Star Fox may not be the "A+" title it once was, but this landmark game is still fascinating to look back on. © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 

If you like this game, try: Star Fox 64 3D (Nintendo 3DS)
Shadow Squadron (Sega 32X)
Star Fox Assault (GameCube)
Rescue on Fractalus (Atari 5200)
Star Fox Guard (Wii U)

Stone Protectors
Grade: C+
Publisher: Kemco (1994)
Posted: 2003/2/19

screenshotI had never heard of the Stone Protectors before, but apparently this was a kid's TV show in the mid-90's. Fortunately you don't have to be familiar with the show to enjoy this obscure side-scrolling brawler. Stone Protectors has a style of play similar to Battletoads or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT), with wacky characters and bright, cartoonish graphics.

To be honest, I found the five "heroes", who are supposed to be in a rock band, to be pretty ugly. These short, squat fighters look like troll punks on steroids. The lizard warriors you fight look pretty cool though, and I love how their armor flies off as you beat them up. The graphics are crisp and well defined, and the collision detection is right on the money. The jazzy music is pleasant enough, and the sound effects really caught my ear.

Each character has a ton of kicks, punches, special moves, throws, and even weapons at his disposal. You can even dispatch foes using devastating "musical" attacks. The stages take place in diverse but repetitive environments including snow, caves, elevators, and a beach. The non-stop fighting is fun for a while, but sometimes it seems like the waves of enemies will never end! I also don't like how only certain characters can pick up particular weapons. It's not for everyone, but if you enjoy this type of game, Stone Protectors is worth your while. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.

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High score: 77980
1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Fall of the Foot Clan (Game Boy)
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: Back From The Sewers (Game Boy)
TMNT (Game Boy Advance)
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (NES)
Skeleton Warriors (Saturn)

Street Combat
Grade: F
Publisher: Irem (1993)
Posted: 2003/2/19

screenshotI can't fathom how a respectable video game developer like Irem (of R-Type fame) could produce such a heinous piece of garbage. Street Combat's flamboyant graphics, creepy animation, and bouncy music will make you cringe. The main character (Steven) looks like a chick, and when he's defeated he makes some really suggestive poses! Other characters include a freaky clown in white tights, a robot named Helmut, and a Guile look-alike named G.I. Jim.

Street Combat's controls are unresponsive, so by the time you manage to pull off some fancy move, your opponent has already moved out of the way. The attacks are not what I would call "balanced". Why bother punching when you can just perform your deadly "arm spin" over and over? That's what I did, and using this "special attack" continuously I was able to defeat every character (including the boss) without losing one fight! As bad as it is weird, Street Combat may be the worst one-on-one fighter ever made! © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.

1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: R-Types (Playstation)
R-Type (Sega Master System)
Street Fighter Collection 2 (Playstation)
Bravoman (Turbografx-16)
Street Fighter Alpha (Saturn)

Street Fighter Alpha 2
Grade: B
Publisher: Capcom (1996)
Posted: 2023/5/13

screenshotThis one is hard to judge. It was released long after I had ditched my 16-bit systems (regrettably) for the Sony Playstation. I enjoyed playing Alpha on the Playstation and was oblivious to the SNES port. This game actually comes as a surprise considering the Alpha series was quite advanced both in graphics and gameplay. Was it in over its head?

Alpha was basically a stop-gap series until Capcom could figure out what the long-awaited Street Fighter III should be like. It's a prequel of sorts with a mix of old and new characters. Old stand-bys include Chun-Li, Dhalsim, Zangief, and of course the obligatory Ken and Ryu. New faces include the crazy-biker-dude Birdie, the Samurai-inspired Katana, kick-boxing Adon, and the elderly martial artist Gen. I always preferred Rose because she looks like such a sophisticated lady.

The graphical detail is definitely a notch above the Street Fighter II games. The characters are rendered with a cartoonish flair in a resolution that pushes the limits of the SNES. Not only does the game look sharp, it retains the fast, fluid action of the Street Fighter II games. Alpha also added sophisticated new techniques like super moves, custom combos, and alpha counters.

Being shoehorned onto a 16-bit system did require a few concessions. Prior to each match, just after the "Fight!" graphic appears, there's an off-putting pause lasting about five seconds. Perhaps this was needed to uncompress some data? The sound effects are very muffled, and some seem missing altogether. The announcer sounds like he's trapped at the bottom of a well. And the music is dreadful.

The stages are generally forgettable. Highlights include a party ship boasting bikini-clad hotties and a nice city skyline. The slum area in China looks pretty creepy with its unsettling lighting effects. The Japanese stage takes place in front of a house where you can see a kid inside playing a Nintendo.

I like the flow of the Alpha matches but could not pull off those super moves to save my life! Not a big deal however because this game is so easy I can beat it with any character. If you want a challenge, go to the options screen, turn off the auto-block and crank up the difficulty. I like Street Fighter Alpha 2 for the SNES, but more as a technical achievement and less as a game. © Copyright 2023 The Video Game Critic.

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High score: 929,599
1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: Street Fighter Alpha (Saturn)
Street Fighter Collection (Playstation)
Street Fighter Alpha 2 (Saturn)
Fighter's History (Super Nintendo)
Street Fighter Anniversary Collection (Playstation 2)

Street Fighter II
Grade: A-
Publisher: Capcom (1992)
Posted: 2023/5/10

screenshotOne bright Saturday during spring of 1991 I found my friends giddy with excitement about a new arcade game, and they insisted we immediately head over to UMBC to check it out. When we arrived at the campus arcade there was a long line of people next to one game.

Street Fighter II was a one-on-one fighter featuring eight fighters hailing from all around the globe. The characters were impressively large and detailed, each boasting their own styles and sets of special moves. Not only that, but each had their own detailed stage and musical theme!

Fast forward (back?) to 1992, where I found myself forced to break the unwritten "one console rule". I already owned a Genesis, but had no choice but to acquire an SNES for its near-perfect port of Street Fighter II. Not only did it rival the arcade, but the six-button SNES controller seemed tailor-made for it.

Street Fighter II was one of those games that made you feel as if it was the last video game you'd ever need to own. Its innovative six-button control scheme was groundbreaking. Harder kicks and punches inflict more damage but are tougher to land. Some fighters can launch projectiles from a distance, but getting up close and personal opens the door to performing devastating throws. With endless move combinations and the ability to block by holding the joystick away from your opponent, the possibilities are endless.

Each fighter has his own memorable stage. Guile's features a fighter jet, and Sagat's boasts an immense Buddha statue that evokes a sense of awe. Chun Li's Chinese market is surprisingly realistic (according to a Chinese family member), and Ryu's moonlit rooftop has become iconic over the years. Each stage features outstanding background music. These multi-part, harmonized compositions not only energize the gameplay but help infuse each location with an exotic mystique.

Suffice to say, Street Fighter II became a staple on game night. The guys loved to mimic the characters and their poses. Tuan would always yell "for all you kids!" whenever he unleashed a dragon punch. The options menu let you customize your button settings, and it annoyed me to no end how everybody had to modify their controls before every match.

The well-executed manual goes into detail about each fighter, going as far as to list their blood types! Street Fighter II has been often imitated but never duplicated. It stands as an all-time classic, right up there with Pac-Man and Space Invaders. It may seem a bit slow and unbalanced compared to its later incarnations, but its brilliant gameplay remains timeless. © Copyright 2023 The Video Game Critic.

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High score: CJS 129,600
1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: Street Fighter Collection 2 (Playstation)
Street Fighter Anniversary Collection (Playstation 2)
Power Instinct (Super Nintendo)
Street Fighter II Turbo (Super Nintendo)
Space Invaders (Atari 5200)

Street Fighter II Turbo
Grade: A
Publisher: Capcom (1993)
Posted: 2023/5/10

screenshotThe original Street Fighter II completely dominated both arcades and home consoles, so naturally anticipation ran high for this sequel. Not only did Street Fighter II Turbo drastically speed up the original game, it introduced four new playable characters! Yes, you could now play as boss characters Balrog, Vega, Sagat, and even M. Bison himself.

While trying to track down a copy upon its day of release, my friends and I came up empty while frantically calling our local video game stores. Then someone heard that the BGE Home store in Security Square Mall was selling it. The idea of a gas-and-electric store selling video games seemed bizarre even back then, but it didn't stop us from ponying up $70 each!

The game's new turbo modes made a big difference, allowing us to pull off fierce uppercut/throw combinations with brutal precision. Turbo also incorporated a few new moves like Ryu's flying hurricane kick and Chun Li's fireball. While the graphics remained essentially the same, the character art was touched up a bit and some of the colors were altered. For example, Blanka's skin was now yellow, and the Guile's jet fighter stage now featured a red sunset.

Of the new fighters, Sagat was the real stand-out with his "tiger" attacks and impressive Buddah stage. Vega was hard to control with his awkward "climb" move, and Balrog the boxer was mainly limited to punches. M. Bison is most powerful but beating up your friends with the main boss seems a little unfair.

Street Fighter Turbo did cause some rumblings in the gaming community. Many critics didn't feel the game was different enough to warrant another full-priced cartridge. They had a point, but once you had experienced the thrill of "hyper fighting" it was hard to go back. To this day, my buddy Chris still regards Street Fighter II Turbo as the apex of the entire series. © Copyright 2023 The Video Game Critic.

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High score: 151,900
1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: Fighting Street (CD) (Turbografx-16)
Super Street Fighter II (Super Nintendo)
Street Fighter Collection 2 (Playstation)
Power Instinct (Super Nintendo)
Street Fighter Anniversary Collection (Playstation 2)

Street Racer
Grade: D
Publisher: Vivid Image (1994)
Posted: 2020/3/3

screenshotIf Street Racer looks like a generic version of Super Mario Kart (Nintendo, 1992), that's because it's exactly what it is. The game employs "mode 7" effects to create the illusion of vehicles moving smoothly over flat, pixelated surfaces. Eight drivers include thuggish dudes, a sumo, a hot blonde, and the Frankenstein monster.

The tracks tend to be pretty compact, which is good and bad. It's good because the laps are short. It's bad because there's a lot of tight turns and no long straightaways. Track locations include a stadium, beach, and an electrified city at night. The scenery looks nice but you won't even notice it during a race. You view the road from a low angle, making it really hard to tell what those pixelated icons you're rolling over are supposed to be. Advanced tracks tend to have sharp edges that are easy to get snagged on.

The controls incorporate no less than four attack buttons which are confusing to use and often unresponsive. A more useful button is the turbo which provides short boosts on a regular basis. Street Racer seemed great at first but gradually wore out its welcome. The grand prix modes drag on for far too long, sometimes running a dozen races or more. I can only take so much of this game before I begin to get woozy.

The four-player simultaneous mode is an impressive technical feat but not particularly enjoyable, with each player limited to a horizontal sliver of the screen. Likewise the soccer mode is an interesting idea about 20 years before its time. Street Racer isn't particularly bad in any way, but never manages to gain much traction in the fun department. © Copyright 2020 The Video Game Critic.

1 to 4 players 

If you like this game, try: Al Unser Jr.'s Road to the Top (Super Nintendo)
Mario Kart 7 (Nintendo 3DS)
Mario Kart 64 (Nintendo 64)
Rad Racer (NES)
Formula One World Championship: Beyond the Limit (Sega CD)

Strike Gunner S.T.G.
Grade: F
Publisher: Vap (1992)
Posted: 2011/5/10

screenshotThis pathetic vertical shooter was released early in the system's life cycle when people were pretty desperate for SNES titles. Strike Gunner's back-story explains that by 2008 we have dismantled all of our nuclear weaponry, leaving us defenseless when hostile aliens invade from space. Let this be a lesson; we need to stock up now!

Before each stage you choose from a smorgasbord of special weapons, although it's not clear what any of them do. In the endless opening stage Strike Gunner gives new meaning to the term monotonous. Your jet glides slowly over a featureless jungle as you mindlessly blast helicopters and jets that appear over and over in the same predictable formations. You're equipped with a rapid-fire cannon and a special attack. Although your special weapon is limited, the meter drains slowly so feel free to unleash it with reckless abandon.

The first stage is a mind-numbing exercise, and if you lose a few lives you'll probably be too bored to notice. Should you have the intestinal fortitude to reach stage two, you'll find yourself staring at the same jungle scenery. An auto-fire feature protects your hand from carpal tunnel, but what will protect your eyes? These repetitive graphics actually gave my eyes carpal tunnel!

Things get slightly more interesting when you reach the desert, but most gamers will be unconscious by then. Strike Gunner supports two-player simultaneous play (with "combination" attacks), but it's plagued by terrible slowdown on top of the boredom. I even hate the layout of the screen which wastes real estate on both sides and displays very little information. Strike Gunner is abysmal, and I consider it a pox upon my entire collection. © Copyright 2011 The Video Game Critic.

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High score: 106,000
1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: Jungle Strike (Genesis)
Jungle Strike (Super Nintendo)
Breath of Fire II (Guest Review) (Game Boy Advance)
Demon Attack (Odyssey 2)
Sea Hawk (Atari 2600)

Stunt Race FX
Grade: F-
Publisher: Nintendo (1994)
Posted: 2010/7/17

screenshotConsidering the high quality of the first SNES game to use the FX chip (Starfox), I'm really surprised what a worthless piece of junk this is. Hard on the eyes and even harder to play, Stunt Race FX is about as likeable as Rosie O'Donnell. Starfox made fine use of the FX chip, but Stunt Race was in way over its head. Its polygon graphics allow for angular hills, banked turns, and various camera angles, but the action is slow, choppy, and unresponsive. The cars resemble dune buggies with eyes for headlights. Is that supposed to look cute?

The controls exhibit terrible lag, and trying to compensate results in wild swerving from side to side. The problem is exacerbated by the wide cars with their big, bouncy tires. Worse yet, the low camera makes it difficult to anticipate upcoming turns. There's no need to concern yourself with the other racers, because simply steering straight will require your total undivided attention.

Stunt Race offers three modes, and each tends to suck. The "speed mode" lets you compete in races against CPU-controlled opponents, but these long, arduous races will leave you feeling nauseated. The tachometer may read 130 MPH, but it feels more like 5 MPH! The "Aqua tunnel" track (which goes underwater) is entirely too ambitious, and likewise the "Night Owl" track looks okay but plays like a nightmare. The desert stage is as boring as can be.

"Bonus stages" challenge you to drive a big rig through a course of pylons, but they are so unpleasant that "punishment stages" would be a more appropriate name. In the "stunt mode" you drive through an obstacle course while collecting stars, but where are the stunts? The battle mode offers two-player split-screen action, but as you can surmise, it's a lost cause. Stunt Racer FX is so repugnant, it almost makes me want to lower the grade for Starfox! © Copyright 2010 The Video Game Critic.

1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: Hard Drivin' (Genesis)
Test Drive V-Rally (Dreamcast)
4x4 Evo (Dreamcast)
Dirt Trax FX (Super Nintendo)
Mario Andretti Racing (Genesis)

Sunset Riders
Grade: B+
Publisher: Konami (1993)
Posted: 2018/8/12

screenshotI had heard from somewhere that the SNES Sunset Riders was essentially the same as the Genesis edition. Don't believe it! While both feature the same mechanics and graphic style, this version actually feels more like a sequel. That's ironic, since I'm told this is actually a port of the original arcade game! I like the animated intro and the option to select from four riders instead of two. The stages seem remixed from the Genesis game, and some are completely different altogether.

The game opens at some kind of outpost with occasional stampedes and outlaws hiding in hay bales. You can rapidly fire colorful bullets, leaving the landscape strewn with the bodies of outlaws. You can squat to shoot low or slide as an evasive maneuver. I find it somewhat disturbing how the bonus "turkey" icons for health are actually pulsating!

This Sunset Riders is a refreshing change, but the stages don't feel as well designed as the Genesis. The stage where you ride alongside the train isn't too exciting, and sometimes there are multiple boss encounters in a row. While in town there are no "comfort ladies" in the saloon. Did Nintendo water this down?! The first-person shooting bonus stage pales to the stagecoach chase in the Genesis version.

Still, the graphics are sharper than the Genesis with clever animations like cowboys spinning their guns at the end of each stage. Instead of red dashes the bullets actually look like, well, bullets. On the down side, the explosions are very ugly and pixelated. The audio is clear, with realistic grunts and bosses that recite less-than-enthusiastic dialog.

The excellent music has a catchy melody with the rhythmic beat of a horse's gallop. You can change characters when you continue and I like how the current high score is always displayed on the top of the screen. While not quite as fun as the Genesis game, Sunset Riders is still pretty fantastic - especially in coop mode. If this game is historically accurate (and I assume it is) life in the wild west must have been an absolute blast. © Copyright 2018 The Video Game Critic.

Recommended: easy
High score: 79,350
1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: Sunset Riders (Genesis)
Wild Guns (Super Nintendo)
Showdown in 2100 AD (Odyssey 2)
Breath of Fire II (Guest Review) (Game Boy Advance)
NBA 2K2 (Dreamcast)

Super Adventure Island
Grade: C-
Publisher: Hudson Soft (1992)
Posted: 2012/9/21

screenshotIt was a fun platform game for the NES, but this 16-bit edition of Adventure Island reeks of mediocrity. The animated intro shows your girlfriend being turned to stone by an evil specter called Dark Cloak. Don't you hate it when that happens? Super Adventure Island's cookie-cutter stages feature all the standard environments like forests, caves, mines, snow, etc. The scenery looks clean but incredibly ordinary.

You can toss hammers or boomerangs, with boomerangs being a far more effective option. Unfortunately the game often forces you to use hammers by putting a hammer icon in an unavoidable spot (like a narrow ledge). Enemies include walking candles and spear-chucking natives, but it's the tiny, hard-to-hit creatures (like flies) that will annoy the hell out of you. The controls are decent, and I like how you can throw upwards in addition to sideways. The new super-jump (duck and jump) is vital to surviving boss encounters.

Speaking of which, I hate how when you die at the hands of a boss you restart at the beginning of the preceding stage! It's demoralizing to say the least. The audio is an annoying combination of obnoxious sound effects and cheesy music. Super Adventure Island is the kind of mundane platformer you forget about the instant you turn it off. © Copyright 2012 The Video Game Critic.

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High score: SLN 39,200
1 player 

If you like this game, try: James Bond 007 (Sega SG-1000)
Legend (Super Nintendo)
New Adventure Island (Turbografx-16)
Adventure Island 3 (NES)
Ex-Mutants (Genesis)

Super Black Bass
Grade: D
Publisher: Hot-B (1991)
Posted: 2006/7/2

screenshotMy friends and I always got a kick out of King Salmon for the Genesis, so I was anticipating big things from Super Black Bass. More of a simulation than an arcade game, there are many types of lures at your disposal. The problem is, finding the "correct" shape and color can be a tedious exercise in trial and error. You begin by trolling around a lake while using a depth finder to determine if fish are nearby.

After casting, you're given an overhead view of the water, but you need to look close because the fish tend to blend in with the surface. Once you hook a fish, he'll aggressively resist and even leap out of the water. Sometimes it's wise to just let the line out until he gets tired. Once the battle concludes, you'll often discover it was just a "runt" after all. Every now and then you'll spot a large shadowy figure on the lake bottom, and you know that's "the big one".

Super Black Bass' controls are very well designed, and so intuitive that I didn't even need to consult the manual. The graphics are only fair, but they do make use of the SNES scaling effects. I really like the sound of water washing up against the boat, but what's that constant bellowing? A beached whale? I could also do without that banjo music that plays as you putt around in your boat. Super Black Bass is one of those games that requires practice and time investment. Unless you're a die-hard fishing fanatic, it's a bit of a drag. © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.

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1 player 

If you like this game, try: Marine Fishing (Dreamcast)
King Salmon (Genesis)
TNN Outdoors Bass Tournament '96 (Genesis)
Super Black Bass Fishing (Nintendo DS)
Black Bass (NES)

Super Bomberman
Grade: A
Publisher: Hudson Soft (1993)
Posted: 2000/1/29

screenshotMost systems have some sort of definitive multiplayer "party" game, and Super Bomberman is "that game" for the Super Nintendo. On the surface, it doesn't look like much. The action starts with a short man in each corner of the maze. By clearing out walls and strategically dropping bombs, the goal is to be the last man standing. With multiple explosions leading to massive chain reactions, Bomberman's dynamic gameplay results in some wild and unpredictable battles.

Power-ups give players the ability to drop multiple bombs, toss bombs across the screen, or unleash larger explosions. A variety of battlefields introduce complicating factors like trampolines and conveyor belts. Personally I prefer the raw simplicity of first stage, because the fancy ones tend to randomize the chaos more.

Super Bomberman's graphics are modest but the controls are right on, and catchy music plays throughout the contests. The single-player adventure mode challenges you to clear out monsters in progressively difficult stages, but the multiplayer mode is "where it's at". You will definitely need a multitap for this one. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.

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1 to 4 players 

If you like this game, try: Bomberman (Turbografx-16)
Super Bomberman 2 (Super Nintendo)
Neo Bomberman (Neo Geo)
Super Bomberman R (Nintendo Switch)
Piece O' Cake (Atari 2600)

Super Bomberman 2
Grade: A-
Publisher: Nintendo (1994)
Posted: 2001/3/5

screenshotSuper Bomberman 2 ranks near the top of my list for "unnecessary sequels". Basically the same as the original Bomberman, this game offers a few more stages, power-ups, and options. Of course, anybody who has played the original Bomberman knows that fancy stages don't really add anything to the game. In fact, they usually detract from its simple yet wonderfully addictive gameplay, which is why most people won't bother with the new stuff here. The single-player mode is mildly amusing, featuring some cool new items like dynamite bundles that maximize the destruction you can unleash. But the real fun lies in the multiplayer battle mode, and the new team mode is a great idea. Other than that, there's nothing new, and I actually prefer the music of the original game. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.
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1 to 4 players 

If you like this game, try: Super Bomberman (Super Nintendo)
Destruction Derby Raw (Playstation)
Centipede (Dreamcast)
Meteoric Shower (Colecovision)
Bomberman (Turbografx-16)

Super Bonk
Grade: D
Publisher: Hudson Soft (1994)
Posted: 2011/7/23

screenshotAs a big fan of Bonk's Turbografx adventures, I was pretty pumped when I heard about his SNES escapade. Super Bonk borrows elements from the original Turbografx trilogy while placing the bald-headed cave-boy in a new set of stages. Okay, some of these stages are best described as recycled. For those of us accustomed to seeing the little caveman in prehistoric worlds, it's kind of a shock to see him in front of a modern city skyline in the first stage.

As in previous adventures Bonk defeats enemies like alligators and pterodactyls by performing head-butts or diving headfirst at them. Bonk fans will recognize familiar elements like the ability to grow large or tiny, slide through narrow tubes, vault from tree branches, and climb up walls using his teeth. One new element is the ability to throw flowers plucked from the ground, but it's not very useful. The stages are new but some are very familiar, and no Bonk game would be complete without the obligatory trip through a dinosaur's digestive track!

Super Bonk looks like classic Bonk on the surface (better even), but the controls are not quite right. It's very hard to gain any momentum, and you can no longer change direction at the drop of a dime. As a result the controls feel stiff, and the cloud-bouncing stages are a nightmare to navigate! In the original game it was a challenge to send Bonk into a rage, but here it happens early and often. Not only does Bonk become invincible, but he remains that way for an inordinate period of time! And when he's like that he looks like a hideous freak. Still, I must admit that it's fun to plow through buildings in his "Bonkzilla" form.

There's some good stuff here, but the watered-down difficulty ruins the game. I can pretty much play this thing indefinitely. The easy bonus stages are so common you eventually make an effort to avoid them. Other missteps include an ill-conceived power-up that lets you build bridges (really?) and a boss named Blue Balls (c'mon now). I'll give the developers credit for cramming every Bonk-ism they could think of into this cartridge, but without the challenge it's an unsatisfying romp. © Copyright 2011 The Video Game Critic.

High score: 317,240
1 player 

If you like this game, try: Bonk's Adventure (Turbografx-16)
Bonk III: Bonk's Big Adventure (Turbografx-16)
Bonk's Revenge (Turbografx-16)
Super Mario World (Super Nintendo)
Super Cobra (Atari 5200)

Super Caesar's Palace
Grade: B-
Publisher: Virgin (1993)
Posted: 1999/12/7

screenshotSuper Caesar's Palace is obviously a very realistic casino simulator because I blew $2000 in about 15 minutes! You control a guy wandering around an empty casino with several floors and an incredible array of games to choose from. These include video poker, blackjack, slot machines, roulette, craps, keno, red dog, horse racing, and even "scratchers". The controls are simple - you just move a floating hand around to place bets or press buttons. I found this game easy to get into and quite entertaining. Now for the complaints. When you begin play you must register for an ATM account used to keep track of your money. There's nothing wrong with that, except having to copy down that huge password! Also, I think the game would have been far more realistic and immersive if they had some more patrons in the casino. Otherwise, this is one of the better gambling titles I've played. © Copyright 1999 The Video Game Critic.
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Save: Battery
1 player 

If you like this game, try: Caesar's Palace (Game Gear)
Caesars World of Gambling (Philips CD-i)
Tiger Casino (Tiger
Vegas Stakes (Super Nintendo)
Caesar's Palace (Playstation)

Super Castlevania IV
Grade: A-
Publisher: Konami (1991)
Posted: 2004/12/22

screenshotAs the first Castlevania title to appear on a 16-bit system, Super Castlevania IV is everything a fan could ask for and more. This huge action/adventure improves upon the original NES games in every way, and even pays homage to them by recreating some old stages. As vampire hunter Simon Belmont, you'll explore mountains, graveyards, forests, ruins, riverbanks, and dungeons on your quest to confront Dracula.

Castlevania veterans will smile when they see familiar adversaries rendered in bright colors and high resolution. New enemies lurk as well, including floating horse-heads(?), flying insect men, and stone golems that break up into smaller monsters. Parallax scrolling depicts colorful, layered medieval scenery, and striking down foes results in a dazzling display of flames and flying body parts. It looks terrific, but it did occur to me that the flashy visuals somewhat undermine the dark, gothic atmosphere established by the first three games.

Castlevania IV features twelve expansive stages, and it's amazing how much gameplay Konami has packed into this cartridge. The presentation is first-rate, and the controls are outstanding. For the first time, you have complete control of your whip. Not only can you aim it up, down, and diagonally, you can even wave it around to kill small pesky creatures such as bats. Perilous leaps still play a major role in the gameplay, but the crisp, responsive controls make even the most risky jumps a breeze. Navigating stairs, a tricky proposition in previous Castlevanias, is no problem at all in this game.

A fantastic soundtrack incorporates a surprising number of musical styles besides the traditional minor-keyed organ hymns. I do have a few minor quibbles. I'm not a fan of the instant death spike traps - I don't think touching one spike should cause you to lose an entire life bar. Second, I found swinging from the whip - a new move - to be trickier than it should be. There's some slow-down here and there, and I hate how the password is given in rows of symbols. Even so, I found Super Castlevania IV to be easier and more enjoyable than any of the NES titles. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.

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1 player 

If you like this game, try: Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse (NES)
Castlevania: Bloodlines (Genesis)
Castlevania (NES)
Castlevania (Nintendo 64)
Castlevania Chronicles (Playstation)

Super Chase H.Q.
Grade: B
Publisher: Taito (1993)
Posted: 2014/10/7

screenshotSuper Chase HQ is the third edition of the series following Chase HQ (Turbografx-16, 1992) and Chase HQ 2 (Genesis, 1992). Most SNES games feature the word "Super" by default, but this game earns it, upping the ante in both content and quality. Before each mission you're provided with a little background story about a heist-in-progress, and the first criminal looks like Andrew Dice Clay. The mission briefing screens are sharp and for once you can actually understand your radio partner says "This is Nancy", although she sounds more like a 10-year-old girl.

When you hit the road Chase HQ fans might want to brace themselves for an initial let-down. Instead of a behind-the-car, overhead perspective, you get a first-person, inside-the-car view. This dramatically crops your view of the road and might seem a step backward. Stick with it, because it will win you over. The driving animation is smooth and the collision detection is extremely forgiving.

Navigating through traffic is practically effortless and you're not likely to hit the palm trees and light posts lining the road. Driving under the occasional overpass looks awesome. The shiny dashboard looks impressive with hands moving the steering wheel and interacting with the controls. Heck, you can even see your character in the rear-view mirror. Come to think about it, this is comparable to the view in Forza Motorsport 5 (Xbox One, 2013).

Weaving through traffic causes your multiplier to...well... multiply... and it's hard to keep your eyes off of it as it accumulates into the thousands. When you finally catch up with your target, the traffic clears out for the ensuing chase. Both cars have damage meters and the bad guys will even shoot at you! And get this: the cars have damage modeling! Heck, we're still waiting for the developers of Gran Turismo to acquire that technology!

In terms of scenery, the backdrops look a little blocky but it's nice how the time of day changes and transforms the city skylines. The digitized sounds are amazing and the thumping guitar is like something from an old cop show. Super Chase HQ may be lacking in the replay department (the missions are always the same) but if you like arcade-style racing you owe it to yourself to give this a try. © Copyright 2014 The Video Game Critic.

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Recommended: continues
High score: 3,353,370
1 player 

If you like this game, try: Chase HQ 2 (Genesis)
Chase HQ (Turbografx-16)
Chase HQ Plus SCI (Japan) (Saturn)
Forza Motorsport 5 (Xbox One)
Gran Turismo (Playstation)

Super Double Dragon
Grade: D-
Publisher: Tradewest (1992)
Posted: 2005/6/1

screenshotI find it shameful that magazines once heaped praise upon this pathetic game. Super Double Dragon is plodding and repetitive, with lousy controls that lack that "crisp" feel you need in a side-scrolling brawler. Super Double Dragon is exceedingly easy, and those who can tolerate its excruciating pace won't have a problem beating it. There are some nice hold moves and a cool roundhouse kick, but punching is your best weapon, since that defeats foes even when you don't even make contact! Now that's what I call bad collision detection!

Also effective are the occasional weapons, which include nun-chucks and boomerangs. You'll face the same set of thugs over and over again - albeit in different colored outfits. You'll want to keep your distance from enemies, because they tend to stun you, which leaves you open to more attacks. Each stage takes an eternity to finish, and everything seems to move in slow motion.

So why was Super Double Dragon's reviews so favorable? I'm guessing it had something to do with the graphics and sound. Although the locales are generic (airport, casino, Chinatown, train) the sharp, colorful visuals are striking, and the soundtrack truly kicks ass. Once you get past the flashy presentation however, the gameplay falls somewhere between "boring" and "unbearable". Do I want to continue? No thank you! © Copyright 2005 The Video Game Critic.

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1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: Return of Double Dragon (Super Nintendo)
Target Renegade (NES)
Renegade (NES)
Double Dragon (Genesis)
Double Dragon (NES)

Super Ghouls 'N Ghosts
Grade: B-
Publisher: Capcom (1991)
Posted: 1999/10/12

screenshotThis medieval side-scroller is a complete remake of Ghouls 'N Ghosts (Genesis, 1989) with entirely new stages and monsters. New areas include a haunted pirate ship and a snow stage (who asked for that, by the way?). The graphics, special effects, and music are significantly better than the Genesis version, but the gameplay is about the same.

You control a knight running through a series of locations while destroying monsters and collecting power-ups. Although this game should have rated higher than its Genesis counterpart, it doesn't, due to a few major issues. First, the action tends to get slow (read: slow-motion) when the action gets hectic, and when you die, you're sent way back to the start of the stage.

At least the Genesis version let you continue fairly close to where you left off. Even unlimited continues don't help when you keep keeling over just before the end of a stage. Super Ghouls 'N Ghosts would have been a great game had it been more forgiving. © Copyright 1999 The Video Game Critic.

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High score: BSC 17,900
1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: Ghouls 'N Ghosts (Turbografx-16)
Ghosts 'N Goblins (NES)
Ghouls 'N Ghosts (Genesis)
Ghouls 'N Ghosts (Sega Master System)
Ultimate Ghosts 'N Goblins (PSP)

Super Mario All-Stars
Grade: A
Publisher: Nintendo (1993)
Posted: 1999/11/21

screenshotWith the four original Super Mario Bros (NES) games included, this cartridge packs an enormous amount of classic gameplay for the dollar. It contains the first Super Mario Bros, the Lost Levels, Super Mario Bros 2, and Super Mario Bros 3. The Lost Levels, which was not originally released in the U.S., adds additional levels to the original game. Super Mario Bros 2 is the one odd-ball of the bunch, offering a different kind of gameplay. Instead of pouncing on enemies, you dispatch them with roots which you pull out of the ground. The graphics and sound in all these games have been enhanced slightly, and four save slots are available for each game! This package is first-class all the way. © Copyright 1999 The Video Game Critic.
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Save: Battery
1 player 

If you like this game, try: Super Mario Bros. 3 (NES)
Super Mario All-Stars Limited Edition (Wii)
Mario Bros. (Atari 2600)
NES Remix Pack (Wii U)
New Super Mario Bros. (Nintendo DS)

Super Mario Kart
Grade: A+
Publisher: Nintendo (1992)
Posted: 2002/5/20

screenshotNot only is this one of the best SNES games ever, but it single-handedly created an entire new genre of video games! Instead of aiming for realism, Super Mario Kart strips racing down to its essense with simple yet fun go-kart action. The racers are classic Nintendo characters, each with a variety of speed and handling capabilities. Thanks to some marvelous SNES "mode 7" effects, the ground moves and rotates smoothly underneath your cart, conveying a sense of speed.

Although the tracks are totally flat, their textures range from smooth, to wood, to gravel. Tracks also contain speed boosts, traps, ramps, and power-ups. Turtle shell power-ups serve as missiles to shoot at your competitors. One power-up causes your fellow racers to shrink for a few seconds. Not only does this look hilarious, but it gives you the opportunity to squash them as well!

The single-player mode is challenging enough, but the two-player split screen is even better. The outcome of each race is usually in doubt, but never feels unfair or cheap. An innovative battle mode is also available that lets players fire shells at each other in open arenas. In typical Nintendo fashion, a cute trophy presentation screen celebrates the winners of each game. Innovative and fun, Super Mario Kart is a must-have for any serious SNES collector. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.

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1 to 2 players 

If you like this game, try: Crash Team Racing (Playstation)
Mario Kart 7 (Nintendo 3DS)
Mario Kart 64 (Nintendo 64)
Mario Kart Super Circuit (Game Boy Advance)
Mario Kart DS (Nintendo DS)

Super Mario World
Grade: A
Publisher: Nintendo (1991)
Posted: 1999/11/21

screenshotAs the original pack-in game for the Super Nintendo system, Super Mario World is certainly a worthy successor to the NES series. It manages to expand the Super Mario universe without sacrificing the fun or addicting gameplay. In addition to sharper graphics, Mario has new moves at his disposal including the ability to throw turtles, fly, and ride around on a little green dinosaur named Yoshi (his first appearance in the video game!). The "world" is huge compared to previous Mario games, with a nice variety of settings including my favorite - haunted houses! A battery backup allows you to save up to four games in progress. High in quality and super fun, this should be standard issue for all SNES owners. © Copyright 1999 The Video Game Critic.
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High score: 98100
Save: Battery
1 player 

If you like this game, try: Yoshi's Island: Super Mario World 2 (Super Nintendo)
Breath of Fire II (Guest Review) (Game Boy Advance)
Super Mario Bros. 3 (NES)
Super Mario All-Stars Limited Edition (Wii)
Super Mario All-Stars (Super Nintendo)

Super Metroid
Grade: A
Publisher: Nintendo (1994)
Posted: 2005/2/17

screenshotMy first encounter with Super Metroid was in 1994 at a local video game store. Upon hearing it referred to as the "best video game ever" by an employee, I tried out a copy they had on display. After whizzing through the brief initial stage where you escape the underground lab, I left feeling unimpressed. Well, thanks to my short attention span I missed out on one truly incredible game. It took me ten years to finally experience this science fiction masterpiece! Super Metroid redefined what a side-scroller should be, with an unprecedented degree of depth and variety.

On the surface, it looks like a generic cave exploration game with the usual shooting and platform jumping. But the more you play, the more this finely crafted game unfolds and sucks you into its fascinating little world. The graphics are phenomenal, with amazing visual effects like sweltering heat waves and scaling enemies. Despite being set in a series of underground tunnels, Super Metroid doesn't feel the least bit boring or repetitive.

Each section is unique and brimming with amazing detail. In one room I found a bunch of tiny green creatures gnawing on a corpse, and they scattered as I approached. Enemies come in an amazing assortment, from lizard creatures, to crawling plants, to giant insects you can shoot the wings off of.

The mammoth gigantic bosses were monumental for their time. The game is perfectly paced, so just when you think you're getting stuck, you discover a new weapon, item, or ability that opens up a slew of new possibilities. Special items include an electronic grappling hook, an ice beam, and an x-ray scope to expose hidden passages. And there are plenty of secrets to discover.

But beyond its imaginative graphics and crisp control, it may be Super Metroid's audio that stands out the most. Edgy and intense, the infectious soundtrack perfectly suits the game's ominous theme. When it comes to finding fault with this game, I am at a complete loss. It's definitely hard but never cheap, and the save points are reasonably spaced. Super Metroid may not be the best game ever, but it certainly is one of the best SNES games I've played. © Copyright 2005 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 

If you like this game, try: Ray Crisis (Playstation)
Metroid Zero Mission (Game Boy Advance)
NCAA Final Four 99 (Playstation)
Super Mario World (Super Nintendo)
Montezuma's Revenge (Atari 2600)

Super Off Road
Grade: D
Publisher: Tradewest (1992)
Posted: 2015/1/1

screenshotThere's no shortage of SNES games beginning with the word "Super", but Super Off Road is undeserving. While trying to play this with a group of friends I couldn't figure out how to configure a multiplayer match. Then the manual confirmed my deepest, darkest fear: this game only supports up to two players! Really?! Super Off Road is a series of races between four trucks. If you do the math, no less than half the field is guaranteed to be CPU-controlled! What a [expletive] joke! That's like someone releasing a two-player version of Warlords (Atari 2600, 1977)!

Taken for what it is, Super Off Road is mediocre racing fare. I find it amusing how the opening screen prompts you to "hit select to start". No, you can't hit the "start" button because that would make too much sense. The tracks, each a single screen in size, feature rugged terrain that makes for a wild ride.

The graphics are razor sharp but the physics are crazy! The vehicles quickly bound around the tracks but their speed is herky-jerky. One moment you'll be driving normally and then you'll suddenly bolt ahead for no particular reason. The manner in which the trucks bounce all over the place gives the impression they have zero mass.

Subtle differences from the Genesis version include a flag-waving man and slightly annoying bails of hay scattered throughout the courses. The CPU is a worthy challenge (his trucks are loaded with turbos) but without a score there's no way to measure your progress. The audio features high-revving engines and guitar music, but it lacks the personality of the NES edition. My friends were disappointed with this version of Super Off Road, and most say it should have never even seen the light of day. © Copyright 2015 The Video Game Critic.

1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: Super Off Road (NES)
Flag Capture (Atari 2600)
TNN Motorsports Hardcore 4x4 (Saturn)
Super Mario World (Super Nintendo)
Enduro Racer (Sega Master System)

Super Off Road: The Baja
Grade: F
Publisher: Tradewest (1993)
Posted: 2001/9/8

screenshotAt first glance, Super Off Road: The Baja looks like Road Rash with trucks, judging by its rolling hills, sparse scenery, and gritty music. But the game's poor controls and marginal gameplay prove otherwise. I don't know why they even put "off road" in the title, considering whenever you veer off the narrow road you slow to a stop! And it's nearly impossible to stay on the road because it twists and turns all over the place.

The controls aren't a factor in the easy early stages, but later stages prove nearly unplayable. The trucks look pretty good, but everything else looks awful. There's nothing interesting about the repetitive scenery except for that old man riding on a tractor who gets in your way every five seconds. You'll lose money for running him over, but it's worth the price of not having to navigate around his sorry ass.

Baja's races contain eight excruciatingly lengthy sections, and you'll spend more time keeping an eye on your damage gauge than your opponents. You can upgrade (or downgrade) your vehicle between sections of the race, and there is a password feature. Super Off Road: The Baja is anything but super. It's one big mess. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.

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1 player 

If you like this game, try: Victory Run (Turbografx-16)
Road Rash 64 (Nintendo 64)
Road Rash 2 (Genesis)
Road Rash (Genesis)
Road Rash Jailbreak (Game Boy Advance)

Super Play Action Football
Grade: F
Publisher: Nintendo (1992)
Posted: 2005/12/7

screenshotI suspect Play Action Football was merely a stop-gap measure to hold sports fans over until Madden arrived for the SNES. The highlight of the game is its intro, which depicts a player throwing a scaling football directly at you! Thankfully two large hands reach up and grab the ball just before it can smash through the glass of your TV and tumble into your living room! Super Action Football carries an NFL license, which is surprising considering how generic it is.

You have the option of playing as pro, college, or high school teams, and for the latter two, you can select the team name and colors. Play Action's diagonal point-of-view provides the absolute worst possible perspective for a football game. I couldn't come up with a worse viewpoint if I tried! A vertical "scanner" indicates the location of the players, but I found it impossible to reconcile with the main screen. A sufficient number of plays and audibles are available, but the play diagrams lack labels and are hard to read.

Play Action's rousing theme song is good, which is fortunate because restarts with each snap. Running the ball is no problem thanks to a nifty stiff-arm move, but completing a pass requires an act of God. The players are so huge that you never actually see your receivers on the screen. Playing defense is equally frustrating, as you're constantly being held by linemen.

After each play players scatter like roaches, followed by a pause as you wait for the referee to appear on the bottom of the screen - even if he has nothing to say! Most of the time he just stands there like a dork, and it's unintentionally hilarious. My buddies were literally rolling on the floor with laughter. Occasionally the game cuts away from the action to show a bunch of ugly people watching the action on a TV in the concession area. If it looks like they're watching a trainwreck, well now you know why. © Copyright 2005 The Video Game Critic.

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1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: NCAA Football 2004 (Playstation 2)
NCAA Football 2002 (Playstation 2)
Madden NFL '96 (Super Nintendo)
Pro Football (Fairchild Channel F)
Madden '95 (Genesis)

Super Punch Out!!
Grade: A-
Publisher: Nintendo (1994)
Posted: 2009/7/15

screenshotI don't know how I missed out on this one back in the day, because I love arcade-style boxing games. A worthy successor to Punch-Out!! (NES, 1987), Super Punch-Out's graphics even surpass the arcade game. You view the action from behind your semi-transparent boxer, providing an optimal view of your opponent.

The directional pad lets you dodge, duck, and block, with the Y and B buttons serving as your left and right punches. Instead of earning "star" punches, the A button lets you unleash special attacks when your meter is full. These include an uppercut, hook, or a quick flurry. There are plenty of fresh new faces to beat the crap out of, including the geriatric Gabby Jay, Rastafarian Bob Charlie, Dragon Chan, Aran Ryan, Narcis Prince, and the Mad Clown.

Each of the 16 fighters has his own technique, and part of the fun is figuring out how to defeat each one. The cartridge has a battery back-up for up to eight players, which not only saves your progress but the high scores and best times as well. Super Punch-Out is awesome, but not as awesome as it could be. Punches seem somewhat soft due to muffled sound effects and slight pauses when you make contact.

It's cool to see a mouthpiece go flying, but none of these punches seem particularly devastating. Another issue is the lack of rounds. You just keep playing until one fighter registers a KO. This takes away some suspense and doesn't feel like real boxing. Plus, trainer Doc Lewis isn't around to lift your spirits. Super Punch-Out comes off a little flat, but arcade fans will still love its stylized brand of boxing action. © Copyright 2009 The Video Game Critic.

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Save: Battery
1 player 

If you like this game, try: Evander Holyfield's Real Deal Boxing (Genesis)
Toughman Contest (Sega 32X)
Punch-Out!! (NES)
Teleroboxer (Virtual Boy)
Super Mario World (Super Nintendo)

Super R-Type
Grade: C-
Publisher: Irem (1991)
Posted: 1999/12/14

screenshotThis SNES edition of the popular space shooter is probably best known for its immense difficulty level. This cartridge was very popular when it came out, but mainly because there were few other shooters available for the system. In retrospect however, Super R-Type's flaws are obvious.

The graphics are sweet but the level designs aren't very impressive. The bosses tend to be forgettable mechanical monstrosities, and more often than not I found myself asking "where am I supposed to shoot this thing?!" There are some cool power-ups, but they are spread too thin throughout the levels.

One technical problem is serious slowdown that occurs when many objects are on the screen - a problem many early SNES titles have in common. Another annoying aspect is how upon losing a ship the game sends you all the way back to the beginning of the stage!! Give me a break - the game is hard enough as it is! Super R-Type gives you unlimited continues, but you might need them all to finish it! © Copyright 1999 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 

If you like this game, try: R-Types (Playstation)
R-Type (Sega Master System)
R-Type (Turbografx-16)
R-Type Final 2 (Playstation 4)
R-Type Final (Playstation 2)

Super Scope 6
Grade: D+
Publisher: Nintendo (1992)
Posted: 2012/10/23

gunNintendo was pushing the light gun concept to the limit when they released this bazooka-shaped accessory. It looks pretty cool with its shoulder rest and side-mounted scope, but it's just not practical. Keeping both arms raised is tiring, and the fact that the gun packs six AA batteries doesn't help!

That said, the thing is pretty accurate. The manual recommends sitting ten feet from the TV (really?) but it works fine from about six feet. Super Scope comes with a cartridge packing six separate light gun games. Three of them (Intercept, Engage, and Confront) are simple shooters that let you target missiles, scaling jet planes, and buzzing UFOs. The simplistic gameplay harkens back to Subroc on the Colecovision (1983).

The SNES scaling capabilities are used to good effect. There's a nice sense of depth and leading your shots is essential. Unfortunately, the dry, repetitive gameplay tends to induce coma, requiring a surprise appearance by Mario (chased by Bowser in a biplane) to revive the player. Next up are a few interesting Tetris-inspired games. In "Blastris A" the blocks fall sideways and you shoot them so they fit snugly into place. This game has some surreal, carnival-like music that really gave me the creeps!

"Blastris B" is based on Tetris 2, so you shoot blocks to toggle their color, creating groups of like-colored blocks. The ensuing explosions cause nifty chain reactions, but the challenge ramps so slowly that I could feel my arm cramping. The final entry "Mole Patrol" is an instantly forgettable version of whack-a-mole. Super Scope 6 has a few innovative ideas sprinkled throughout, but like Sega's Menacer collection, once the novelty wears off it starts to feel like a chore. Note: The Super Scope only operates on old-style, CRT televisions. © Copyright 2012 The Video Game Critic.

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Recommended: Confront
High score: 175,600
1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: Tetris 2 (Super Nintendo)
Tetris Attack (Super Nintendo)
Menacer 6-in-1 (Genesis)
War Games (Colecovision)
Missile Defense 3D (Sega Master System)

Super Smash TV
Grade: A-
Publisher: Acclaim (1991)
Posted: 2021/12/11

screenshot​​Clearly inspired by the 1987 Schwarzenegger flick "The Running Man" (1987), this overhead shooter makes a concerted effort to glorify violence! Super Smash TV is a brutal game show featuring a sleazy host with two homely chicks on his arms. As a contestant you're trying to survive a series of rooms in which hordes of cyborgs and maniacs are unleashed upon you. Sounds futuristic? This game takes place in 1999!

The run-and-gun action is satisfying thanks to rapid-fire weapons that fire in eight directions. Though designed for dual joysticks, the SNES controller is a fair substitute thanks to its diamond-shaped button configuration. Enemies splash blood when shot but the violence is relatively tame. The rolling, half-machine Mutant Man makes for a very memorable (and somewhat disturbing) first boss.

Super Smash TV has that certain arcade flair with its vibrant graphics and booming sounds. Compared to the Genesis translation everything is bigger, better, and more glitzy. The gameplay is well-balanced too, releasing packs of enemies in measured quantities. I love that special icon that obliterates everything on the screen. Grab a "free man" icon and the game yells "dude!", which I find pretty funny.

Perhaps most impressive is the lack of slow-down despite the fact that there are dozens (or even hundreds) of objects moving around the screen at any given time! Even the two-player coop mode maintains a fluid and exciting pace. Considering how the SNES tends to struggle with sports titles, I have to give the programmers a lot of credit.

The frenetic gameplay is constantly tempting you with randomly-placed presents, power-ups, and piles of cash. The fact that you can take different paths through the maze of rooms adds replay value. Survive a round and you'll earn mounds of prizes like toasters and VCRs. Super Smash TV is a blast and excellent controls make this the version of choice. © Copyright 2021 The Video Game Critic.

High score: 3,954,510
1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: Super Smash TV (Genesis)
Smash TV (NES)
Crossbow (Atari 7800)
Texas Chainsaw Massacre (Atari 2600)
Primal Rage (Genesis)

Super Star Wars
Grade: B-
Publisher: LucasArts (1992)
Posted: 2005/5/18

screenshotBoth me and my friend Tuan received Super Star Wars for Christmas in 1992, and I can still remember him calling me up and proudly proclaiming this to be the "best video game ever!" For Star Wars fans, this was indeed a thrill. Not only did the game's storyline follow the movie (more or less), but the graphics and sound were state of the art.

Although most stages follow the standard platform jumping/shooting formula, a few innovative 3D stages let you drive vehicles, including a sand speeder on Tatooine and an X-Wing in the Death Star's trench! The 3D animation looks a little rough now, but it was amazing back in the day.

The outstanding visuals portray every character, monster, and location you can remember from the film - and then some! The adrenaline-pumping Star Wars theme sounds crystal clear, as do the digitized sound effects and voice bits. Depending on the stage, you might control Luke, Han, or Chewbacca. The controls are tight, but I must admit you're too often asked to make "leaps of faith". Some of the platform jumping can be downright tedious, with the hellacious Java sandcrawler stage serving as a prime example.

The stage difficulty is uneven, and cheap hits are also a problem. The only way I've managed to finish the game is to locate the "secret cave" containing 99 extra lives. Since there's no save or password feature, you may find yourself playing into the wee hours of the morning, and by then the jumping and shooting will have gotten pretty old. A better option is to obtain the cheat code, which lets you select your stage. It's not perfect, but Super Star Wars is a quality title, and it's the main reason at least one of my friends purchased their SNES system. © Copyright 2005 The Video Game Critic.

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High score: 26000
1 player 

If you like this game, try: Star Wars Return of the Jedi (Game Gear)
Star Wars (Game Gear)
Star Wars (NES)
Star Battle (Bally Astrocade)
Star Wars: The Arcade Game (Colecovision)

Super Star Wars: Return of the Jedi
Grade: A
Publisher: LucasArts (1994)
Posted: 2005/5/18

screenshotAs the final chapter of the Super Star Wars trilogy, LucasArts seemed to get everything right in Super Return of the Jedi. The gameplay hasn't changed much since Super Star Wars, but Jedi is the most forgiving of the three games. In fact, it's almost easy compared to Empire. The action begins in Jabba the Hutt's palace before moving to the forest moon of Endor (home of the beloved Ewoks), and culminating at the new Death Star.

You can select from several characters for most stages, including a bikini-clad Princess Leia (now we're talking). Jedi's graphics and attention to detail are stunning. As an example, Jabba's gamorrean guards actually have saliva dripping from their mouths! The stage backdrops, particularly those set in the lush forests of Endor, look gorgeous.

One major gameplay innovation is a new defensive move for Luke: the lightsaber block. This plays an instrumental role in defeating Vader, and ultimately the Emperor. Another new element, floating icons, will earn you a bonus life should you collect 100 of them. These add a fun, Super Mario Bros. flavor to the game.

The 3D speeder bike stage isn't as impressive as I remember, but it's not so bad. The Millennium Falcon shooting stage is probably the weakest part of the game. Jedi does a nice job of following the storyline of the film, skillfully building to the exciting finale. With the same action-packed gameplay as its predecessors but lacking the frustration factor, Super Return of the Jedi is a fitting conclusion to an excellent series. © Copyright 2005 The Video Game Critic.

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Save: Password
1 player 

If you like this game, try: Star Wars Return of the Jedi (Game Gear)
Super Mario All-Stars (Super Nintendo)
Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (Game Boy)
Star Wars: Death Star Battle (Atari 2600)
Super Mario Bros. 3 (NES)

Super Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
Grade: B+
Publisher: LucasArts (1993)
Posted: 2016/3/2

screenshotBack in the day my friend Eric and I were so stoked about this game we took off the day it came out so we could head straight to the mall to pick it up. The clerk at EB Games asked his manager (who was shrink wrapping games in plain sight) if we could have a free strategy guide. The response was, "Nah - save 'em for later." What a jerk! That clerk did end up giving us one to share, which was the least he could do considering we paid $75 each! We swung by McDonald's on the ride home and when we arrived back at my room Super Empire Strikes Back did not disappoint.

We gazed wide-eyed at the beautiful snow-covered scenery while chomping on our Big Macs. There's something about snow in video games that looks so pure and appealing. Riding a Tauntaun through blizzard conditions was fun, but unlike the barren ice planet in the movie, this Hoth is teeming with life.

You're relentlessly bum-rushed by warthogs, dive-bombed by birds, and stalked by probe droids. Porcupines shoot needles and plants release poisonous spores. Ice shards sprout beneath your feet and electric eels leap out of the water to get you. Everything wants you dead in the worst way, and it takes several whacks of your lightsaber to kill anything. Meanwhile you're sliding on narrow icy platforms over spike-lined pits! The designers threw in everything but the kitchen sink, so the rampant slowdown should come as no surprise.

Still, Empire manages to be a lot of fun thanks to Luke's awesome spinning attack and a generous number of health/power-up icons. Unlike the first game, Luke has the power to block with his lightsaber and employ force powers. The controls are responsive but expect cheap hits, regenerating foes, and blind leaps of faith.

The graphics are first-rate and you have to love subtle details like Luke's hair blowing in the wind. The sweeping orchestrated score adds gravitas, as do the crystal-clear voice samples (particularly Darth Vader's "Impressive!"). The entire first half of the game is set on Hoth, and the 3D stage where you take down AT-AT walkers with tow cables truly pushes the limits of 16-bit power. Later you explore the swampy jungles of Dagobah and the cloud city of Bespin with its gorgeous pastel-red skyline.

Encounters with Boba Fett will thrill Star Wars fans, and the climactic battle between Luke and Vader will have your heart racing! The six-letter password system is easy to use and a top-10 rankings screen makes it fun to play for high score. Super Empire Strike Back is clearly over the top at times, but you can't deny the greatness of this epic title. © Copyright 2016 The Video Game Critic.

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Recommended: easy
High score: 72,780
Save: Password
1 player 

If you like this game, try: Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (Game Boy)
Empire Strikes Back (NES)
Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire (Nintendo 64)
Super Star Wars (Super Nintendo)
Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (Intellivision)

Super Street Fighter II
Grade: A+
Publisher: Capcom (1994)
Posted: 2023/5/10

screenshotHow does the saying go? Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, who wants to play Super Street Fighter II? Yet again Capcom tricked us all into paying big bucks for a game that was 90% the same as the previous one. Quite a racket they had going! Of course, once you saw that amazing intro of a full-screen Ryu unleashing a fireball in your face, it was all worth it. There are certain things you just can't put a price on.

It was two years after the original game landed on the SNES, but Street Fighter fever was still running hot. My friends were reluctant to take the leap this time, so I took it upon myself to purchase Super Street Fighter II. Subtitled "The New Challengers", it added four brand new characters, upping the roster total to a whopping 16!

Cammy is probably most notable. She's a spritely British Intelligence agent who wears next to nothing. We thought she was pretty hot back in the day, but in retrospect she looks downright boney! DJ is a tall Rastafaria with excellent reach. T. Hawk is a slow-but-powerful Native American cut from the same mold as Zangief. Fei Long is a Bruce Lee look-alike who I always preferred to use, but rarely with much success. Of the four new stages, the only one that really stands out is Cammy's with its enchanting castle scenery with glistening northern lights.

Super Street Fighter II's packaging boasts of new animations and abilities, but they are subtle at best. I did notice how sometimes when hit, a fighter will briefly vomit which is pretty gross. There's a new tournament battle mode which lets you set up brackets for up to eight players. I recall having some fun with that back in the day, passing around the controllers for the title of world champion.

There are some other minor touches like more realistic character art and slightly remastered music. Super Street Fighter II may have been the ultimate Street Fighter II but it seemed Capcom had milked this cow dry. There was actually a Super Street Fighter II Turbo (3DO, 1994) after this, but even Capcom didn't have the nerve to release it for the SNES. © Copyright 2023 The Video Game Critic.

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High score: 116,600
1 to 8 players 

If you like this game, try: Street Fighter II Turbo (Super Nintendo)
Super Street Fighter II (Genesis)
Street Fighter Anniversary Collection (Playstation 2)
Breath of Fire II (Guest Review) (Game Boy Advance)
Breath of Fire (Guest Review) (Game Boy Advance)

Super Tennis
Grade: C-
Publisher: Nintendo (1991)
Posted: 2000/3/16

screenshotSuper Tennis offers plenty of bells and whistles, but its lackluster gameplay prevents it from greatness. The characters are rendered in a Japanese anime style, and the detailed courts come complete with ball boys and line judges. The oversized tennis ball is easy to follow, and pleasant music plays throughout the matches. The controls provide every shot you would need, including lobs, slices, and overhead smashes. Executing these shots is frustrating however. You have to hit the button at exactly the right time (not when it's bouncing), and you can't swing while on the run. I was also annoyed by the constant faults on the serves. You can select between single, doubles, or a tournament mode. Hard, lawn, and clay courts are available. Super Tennis has some nice features, but its core gameplay could use some work. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.
Save: Password
1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: Hot Shots Tennis (Playstation 2)
Mario Tennis (Virtual Boy)
Mario Tennis (Nintendo 64)
IMG International Tour Tennis (Genesis)
Super Tennis (Sega Master System)

Super Valis IV
Grade: C
Publisher: Atlus (1992)
Posted: 2005/2/17

screenshotThis conventional side-scroller is completely unremarkable. I've never played a game so spectacularly average in my life. Super Valis IV's presentation is clean but uninspired, and its platform gameplay is utterly predictable. Playing as a sword-wielding female warrior, you hop around ledges and strike down creatures through six mythology-inspired stages.

Special weapons are unleashed by pushing the directional pad up while pressing the attack button. If that doesn't remind you of Castlevania, wait until you see the fire-breathing dragon statues. Valis IV feels like an amalgamation of every side-scrolling adventure I've ever played. That's not to say it's a bad game.

The controls are responsive enough, and being able to switch between weapons adds strategy. The crisp, colorful scenery includes burning ruins, flowery meadows, and jewel-encrusted caves. In the meadow stage, the buildings in the distance caught my eye, including one that resembled a tower from Lord of the Rings. Your adversaries include knights and archers, but there are also a few original creations like winged women with spears.

The "mechanical monkeys" in the fourth stage resemble dogs made out of fortune cookies, a concept I found somewhat disturbing. Most enemies aren't particularly aggressive and move in predictable patterns. Each stage ends with the obligatory boss encounter, and these include a grim-reaper look-alike and a tiger-riding knight. The electronic background music is respectable but forgettable. In the final analysis, Super Valis IV serves its purpose but that's about it. © Copyright 2005 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 

If you like this game, try: Castlevania: Bloodlines (Genesis)
Valis IV (Japan) (Turbografx-16)
Skeleton Warriors (Saturn)
Super Castlevania IV (Super Nintendo)
Montezuma's Revenge (Atari 2600)

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