T2: The Arcade Game
Publisher: LJN (1993)
This shooter was designed for use with the bazooka-shaped Super Scope light gun. I was disappointed with the Genesis edition of T2: The Arcade Game, and hoped this SNES edition would improve upon it. It's actually a step down. The digitized images look sharper than the Genesis, but the colors appear washed out. In stage one you unleash hell on a parade of terminators on a red, post-apocalyptic battlefield. The rapid-fire shooting is fun for a while, and helpful "smart bombs" obliterate everything on the screen. Human reinforcements tend to get in the way, screaming "yelp!" when you accidentally shoot them. The flying ships don't catch on fire when you shoot them, but instead just shatter in a very unconvincing fashion. The end-of-stage tank boss is extremely difficult because he sprays missiles all over the screen. The human hideout stage features one distinctive sound effect (a dog barking) but its visuals are lame. Arnold doesn't look like himself, leading me to believe a less-beefy, digitized imposter was used in his place. The protect-the-truck stage is unintentionally funny as terminators run like chickens alongside the speeding vehicle. Some stages feature "golden" endoskeletons that look like a bunch of C3POs. What the hell is that
all about? The Super Scope is slightly more accurate than the Genesis Menacer, but its cursor only appears when you pull the trigger. As on the Genesis, hitting targets near the left side of the screen is a problem. The SNES mouse is supported, but who wants to use a mouse for an arcade game? A normal controller works okay but feels inexact. The game supports coop action which definitely makes it more playable. T2 on the SNES is a serious underachiever, and I actually prefer the Genesis edition. © Copyright 2012 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 1,297,000
1 or 2 players
Publisher: Tecmo (1993)
Tecmo Super Bowl for the SNES plays like the original NES version, only with crisper graphics and clearer sound effects. But although the game was an institution on the NES, it barely made a splash on the SNES. To gamers who cut their teeth on Madden, Tecmo may look a bit outdated. The field is viewed from the side in 30-yard chunks. The players are small but nicely animated, making it easy to see plays unfold. The playbooks and controls are minimal compared to Madden, but Tecmo has an arcade sensibility that Madden lacks. You can knock down players on offense or defense by tapping the A button, allowing running backs to shake off would-be tacklers. On passing plays, cycling through receivers is fun, but you can't see those who run deep routes. One problem with defense is that once you select a player you can't change him after the play begins. Tecmo Super Bowl features cool cut-scenes that embellish kicks and diving catches, but what's the deal with that lame clown in the half time show? Where are the cheerleaders? Despite its flaws, Tecmo football is always a good time, and this is probably the definitive version of the classic game. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.
Tecmo Super NBA Basketball
Publisher: Tecmo (1993)
This basketball game has a great look, especially compared to the chunky early EA basketball games like Bulls Vs. Blazers (SNES, Genesis). Tecmo Basketball's court and players are well defined, and its smooth (but slow) animation features plenty of nifty slam dunks. Unfortunately, the gameplay is marred by numerous flaws that drag down the fun factor. Your view of the action is from the side, but the camerawork is awful. When you bring the ball up the court, you can't even see whom you're passing to! In general, it's hard to tell whom you're controlling. The block button is the same as the shoot button (bad idea!), resulting in balls being inadvertently flung the length of the court! There's no "turbo" function, making it awfully hard to penetrate to the hoop. Referees call fouls even on minimal contact, and you can't adjust the foul frequency. Cut-scenes often flash during three-point shots or blocks, but these tend to be disorienting, interrupting the flow of the game. On a positive note, Tecmo Basketball provides a sweet half-time show with cheerleaders, and tracks player stats thanks to a battery backup. It's not a total loss, but basketball games have come a long way, and Tecmo Super NBA Basketball offers little reason to go back. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time
Publisher: Nintendo (1992)
Wow - talk about eye candy - this game looks fantastic
! In this fourth game of the series, one or two players select from the four Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in this side-scrolling brawler. Its sharp graphics resemble a cartoon, with vibrant colors and smooth animation. The upbeat music is excellent and the control is remarkably tight. Only two buttons are used, but there's still a nice variety of moves. My favorite allows you to throw the enemy into the screen
(towards the player!). It's a cool scaling effect, and it's actually necessary to defeat one of the bosses. Enemies tend to be generic ninjas dressed in different colored outfits, but the bosses are quite imaginative and well-armed with special attacks. The diverse stages locales include city streets, a sewer, the prehistoric past, and a pirate ship, to name a few. The action is fast and never lets up, but it does have a few faults. Although you can choose between four characters, there's not an appreciable difference between them. Also, battling the same ninjas over and over can get monotonous. All in all, this is a solid arcade fighter, but Turtles in Time is anything but deep. © Copyright 1999 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Nintendo (1994)
How do you top what is arguably the most popular video game of all time? It's not easy, but Nintendo comes close with Tetris 2. The game looks similar to Tetris, but its gameplay is much different. Instead of completing rows, you must instead destroy "flash blocks" scattered around the board. Blocks are destroyed by lining up three or more of the same color. As they explode, chain reactions can occur, which can be extremely satisfying. You really have to play the game to appreciate how brilliant it is. While simple in concept, Tetris 2 requires both skill and strategy. Modes include a one-player puzzle mode and an incredibly addictive head-to-head mode. A wealth of options allows you to customize the difficulty, speed, round, and music. If Tetris 2 has a weakness, it lies in the graphics. Nintendo couldn't have been expected to do much with the blocks, but the backgrounds are painfully simple and dull. The music is not bad, but can get annoying after playing for a few hours straight (which is not uncommon). Still, these are minor quibbles considering the outstanding gameplay. © Copyright 1999 The Video Game Critic.
Save mechanism: Password
1 or 2 players
Publisher: Nintendo (1996)
In case you haven't noticed, Nintendo is big on Tetris. They've released many variations of the game, so I put this cartridge in thinking the cow had run dry. As it turns out, I was wrong. This is yet another
excellent Tetris-inspired puzzle game which will keep you riveted for hours on end! This time, you are presented with a mountain of blocks which rise as new rows bubble up from underneath. The only move you can make it to swap blocks that are side-to-side. Line up three or more of the same color and they explode. In sounds simple but the possibilities are endless. In the one player game, your goal is to keep the pile below a certain level, and in the two-player game you compete for score. Tetris Attack is easy to play but tough to master - a sure sign of a great game. © Copyright 1999 The Video Game Critic.
Save mechanism: Password
1 or 2 players
Tetris and Dr. Mario
Publisher: Nintendo (1994)
How many versions of Tetris can Nintendo release?? For the love of God
man!! That Russian guy must be a billionaire
by now! I guess I really can't blame Nintendo however, since these puzzle games are easy to program, fun to play, and people just can't get enough of them. This cartridge offers two games, including a nice version of the original Tetris, with all the playing modes and settings you would ever want. The second game called Dr. Mario. What's the difference between Dr. Mario and Tetris 2?? Well, it's a subtle distinction. The main difference as I can tell is that the falling pieces in Dr. Mario are two-part "capsules" instead of four-part shapes. I definitely like the music and the sound of pills clicking against each other. There's also a mixed game that allows two players alternate between Tetris and Dr. Mario. No question about it - this cartridge combo offers more than enough puzzle fun to go around. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Ocean (1995)
This Flintstones is based on the live action 1994 film starring John Goodman. I always thought Betty Rubble was pretty hot in the cartoon, so why in the hell did they cast Rosie O'Donnell of all people?! The game itself doesn't try to deliver any more than your standard side-scrolling fare. Playing as Fred you jump platforms and collect gems while fending off frogs, monkeys, and cavemen. You have several attacks at your disposal. Chucking stones at foes to knock them off the screen is great fun, largely due to that satisfying "bonk" sound. Your thunderous club attack would have been awesome if it had more range. As it is, I often sustained damage standing too close to an enemy. Your "bowling" attack is a cool idea but not very practical because it takes so long to wind up. Platform climbing is tricky, as you need to grab ledges and push yourself up while holding down the jump button the whole time. The graphics are sharp but not especially detailed. The first three stages are cookie-cutter "quarry" stages. The Bedrock "driving" stage is terribly awkward, as you bounce Barney off the roof of your car with the screen moving up and down. The jungle stages feel like Pitfall outtakes. Is there a reason why these stages need to be timed? Despite its cookie-cutter design I enjoyed playing the game for score. The action moves along at a steady clip so you can get into a groove. Flintstones fans will appreciate the musical theme and high score screen which pays homage to the drive-in scene from the cartoon. The game has a sensible password system that uses real words like "Betty hides cold jelly". The Flintstones may not try too hard but I think it works as intended. Call it a guilty pleasure. © Copyright 2020 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 1043
Save mechanism: password
Publisher: IGS (1992)
This early SNES title leveraged the system's extensive color palette to render impressive digitized graphics. Unfortunately the game is based on The Rocketeer - a Disney film nobody saw due to poor marketing. The opening stage plays like garbage
. It's supposed to be some kind of old-timey airplane race flying around towers close to the ground. The scaling planes and farm scenery look neat but you have no idea what you're supposed to do. That's a problem because if you take off a few seconds too late you'll never catch up to the other two planes. The visuals are completely wasted as you're forced to focus all your attention on a tiny window on the bottom of the screen. It displays a behind-the-plane view allowing you to "hug" the pylons which is the key to winning. These races are a tedious exercise so when I won it brought a huge sense of relief. What was my reward? Another airplane race!
Are you [expletive] kidding me? Suffer through that again
and the game moves on to a behind-the-back gunfight stage set in an airplane hangar. Enemies pour out of the woodwork and you just move a cursor across the screen to gun them down. It's very mindless and much like all the other stages seems to go on forever. The digitized graphics actually prove detrimental in this case, as you can't even make out your enemies in the murky scenery. If you see any movement just fire in that area. Then it's back to those God-forsaken races again! Eventually you'll reach a few side-scrolling shooting stages, but they are hampered by some of the worst controls I've ever experienced. The Rocketeer is one of those games that's so bad you avoid
the 1UP icons. It's so bad that when the game gives you another chance you're disappointed
. This game refuses to end! That's a shame, because if there's one game you want to see end it's the Rocketeer. © Copyright 2020 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 130,700
Publisher: Universal (1994)
I was wondering why it was so hard to find a copy of this game, only to discover it was never released!
The best you can do is a reproduction copy. The Shadow is based on the 1994 Alec Baldwin film with the tagline "Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?" It's a little rough but in general this is a highly playable side-scrolling fighter. On the surface it feels like a generic version of Batman Returns
(SNES, 1992). Decked out in a red scarf and black trench coat, you methodically beat up gangsters on the streets of New York City. The characters are large and well defined but slow. You'll also face ancient "Mongol Warriors" decked out in colorful armor, referred to in the cut scenes as "Oriental guys". I love the clanking sound when you pound their armor. Some enemies have scrambled frames of animation, which I'm told is just the kind of glitch you can expect from an unfinished game. Stage two takes place in an elegant hotel where you beat up valets, bellhops, and concierges. I love how you throw rapid-fire punches and can toss bad guys into one another. Weapons include torches which burn enemies to the bone. Cool special abilities let your dash into enemies or become invisible. But the most notable feature is the periodic gun battles. Armed with a pair of pistols, you pump lead into bad guys when targets appear on their chests. If you think it sounds like fun, you are right. The scenery is elegant but you can tell it wasn't completely fleshed out. The back alley stage in the thunderstorm is great, but the amusement park and museum stages look sparse and unfinished. I noticed that when the game indicates you have one life, it does not
mean you have one in reserve, which is confusing. But even in its half-baked form The Shadow is enjoyable. It's hard to believe this nearly-complete game was scrapped just because the movie didn't perform well. © Copyright 2018 The Video Game Critic.
Recommended variation: easy
Our high score: 21,221
Publisher: Seika (1991)
Thunder Force III
(Genesis, 1991) is widely considered one of the best shooters of the 16-bit era, and at a glance Thunder Spirits looks like a port of that game for the SNES. The more I played however the more the two diverged. What happened to the stage select? Where's the options menu? Apparently you need to press start and
select at the title screen to bring up the options. What the heck are they hiding
it for?! The rapid-fire is set to "off" by default, which seems inexplicable until you realize this game is mired with slowdown. Mired!!
If you've played the Genesis game (which barely breaks a sweat) the erratic pacing of Thunder Spirits can be hard to stomach, and rapid-fire just exacerbates the situation. Looking on the bright side, the rampant slowdown makes the game a heck
of a lot easier! During boss encounters it's as if you're playing in slow motion!
The first few stages reuse the jungle, water, and fire stages of the Genesis game, although fans will notice a few minor tweaks with the scenery and item placement. Subsequent stages are totally different but far inferior to their Genesis counterparts. I can't get over how weak the audio is. The sound effects lack bass, the explosions lack punch, and the music rings hollow. Finally there's the lack of difficulty. On the Genesis it was extremely difficult to acquire valuable items like the "claw", shield, and "hunter" homing missiles. Here you can equip all three at once and cruise through sizeable chunk of the game. That said, Thunder Spirits has enough playability and variety to make it a respectable shooter by SNES standards. © Copyright 2017 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 422,140
Publisher: JVC (1995)
Most critics would be quick to kick a shoddy, movie-based game like Timecop to the curb. However, I happen to be a huge Jean-Claude Van Damme (JCVD) fan! Ever since my buddy Eric introduced me to Bloodsport (on VHS tape), I was hooked on those high-flying roundhouse kicks! Positively bad-ass!
Did I mention Van Damme can dodge bullets
by doing a split!?
As psyched as I was about this game, the packaging was a bit of a turnoff. Instead of a movie photo it has a comic-book style illustration, conveying the impression of a generic shooter with the Timecop license grafted on top of it. The game's introduction further perpetrates a fraud, describing a villain and plotline that have nothing to do with the film. With my expectations downtrodden, you can imagine my surprise when I found myself controlling a digitized version of JCVD himself! I am utterly fascinated by the fact that this game uses live characters and digitized scenery. It's a concept rarely seen outside of the original Mortal Kombat games. Maybe there's a reason for that. The armed guards and gang members look great, but their movements look idiotic! They march around like they were robots or tin soldiers or something. The controls are difficult to grasp and hardly what I'd call "crisp". It takes a second for our hero to execute a roundhouse kick, and by then he's usually been punched or shot. The jump kick is effective, but since you jump across the entire screen, it's hard to target an enemy. Your sweep kick is the safest option, as many enemies seem incapable of hitting anything below waist level. You're also equipped with a gun but ammo is hard to come by. Timecop packs all the platform game cliches like leaky steam pipes, collapsing ledges, and floating platforms. The stages include a lab facility, New York City circa 1929, and an ugly futuristic L.A. The Washington DC stage is set in 2005, which means it was the future
when the game was released but since has become the past
. Yes, I know - I just blew your mind!
The weirdest part of the game is an inexplicable underwater submarine shooting stage (apparently set under the San Andreas Fault). Timecop reeks of badness, but it frequently veers into "so bad it's good territory". Once you grasp its quirks, it's fun to play for score. I love how the edgy synthesized soundtrack is peppered with goofy electronic samples. Is this a 16-bit platformer, or a parody
of 16-bit platformers? Many regard it as garbage, but Timecop is a fascinating relic that trascends time and space. JCVD fans should definitely bump up the grade by a letter. © Copyright 2011 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 21,480
Publisher: Nintendo (1994)
With Tinstar I expected a generic platformer starring a wacky tin-man. Instead I got a Wild West shooter... starring a wacky tin-man. Apparently all the characters are made of metal, which explains why they explode into nuts and bolts. Tinstar has the characteristics of a cowboy movie but the light humor of a cartoon. There are shootouts in trains, stagecoaches, deserts, saloons, and dusty streets. Certain stages offer a first-person perspective with a camera panning the landscape as colorful enemies pop up all over the place. In other stages you actually see Tinstar on the screen. He moves automatically but you use a crosshair to aim his shots and protect him from dynamite and swooping buzzards. It's a pretty neat concept! The fact that you can shatter lamps and spin signposts shows an attention to detail. Between stages are verbose intermissions with humorous conversations between characters. You'll be tempted to skip these but I'd advise you watch because they are funny and provide valuable clues. The one-on-one showdowns are a little confusing. First you need to shoot an icon and then you need to shoot your enemy - all in a split-second! That's nearly impossible with a normal controller. Tinstar was clearly designed with the Super Scope light gun in mind. Yes, it's an unwieldy beast but it will improve your score and elevate your enjoyment of the game. I noticed the screen automatically brightens when you use the gun and unlike many light gun games, there are no annoying flashes. Tinstar turned out better than I expected. It's not terribly compelling but that Nintendo quality goes a long way. © Copyright 2015 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 35,540
Save mechanism: battery
Publisher: LJN (1994)
Not only is True Lies one hell of a game, but it does a fine job of staying faithful to the movie. The stages follow the storyline, and each is preceded with a digitized still image from the film. True Lies is basically an overhead scroller with endless shootouts in locations like a chateau, mall, park, and refinery. Fine-tuned controls include a diving roll and a strafing move that's incredibly useful. Harry is armed with uzis, flame-throwers, shotguns, and grenades. There's no shortage of ammo, and I like how enemies splatter with blood and fall to the ground when shot. Just be careful not to shoot three civilians, because then you're forced to restart the level. The background music is good, and the sound effects are remarkable. For example, when on the docks, you not only hear the water, but you can even hear the rats scurrying! Harry's partner (Tom Arnold) posts advice on the bottom of the screen and a password saves your progress. True Lies shows a lot of originality, and really captures the spirit of a great action film. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.
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