Addams Family, The (CD)
Publisher: NEC (1991)
Fire up this CD and you'll be treated to the theme song from the original
Addams Family television show. It's a nice touch, and for the first time I can actually understand the words! You play the role of cousin Alfred Tully who is looking to cash in on the Addams' family fortune. The action gets off to a rough start as you navigate a graveyard while avoiding golf balls and pools of acid. Then you're forced to fight Uncle Fester while being inundated with spiders and bats. If you can persevere, the game really opens up. Doors of various colors line the hallways of the mansion, each containing challenges and surprises. You can shoot with your umbrella, and the rapid-fire setting comes in handy. You collect colored keys which gradually give you access to more rooms, and it's fun to see what each one has in store. There's a torture chamber with traps, a conservatory with man-eating plants, a haunted dining hall, and a room with a running train. In Wednesday's bedroom you'll battle a series of possessed toys - including an NES console!
Under most circumstances I wouldn't dream
of destroying a perfectly good NES, but this thing was trying to kill
me! Exploring is fun but the mansion layout is confusing. Different doors can lead to the same room, and one even dumps you outside of the house! To avoid revisiting the same rooms you may even want to map them out. The graphics are good (check out the audience on the bottom of the screen), and the creepy ghouls come in an amazing variety. The CD-quality audio however is what really steals the show. The eerie music and spine-tingling sound effects create a chilling aura of foreboding. From the creepy organ music, to the booming thunder, to the cackle of laughter, the audio is absolutely first-rate. The "game over" screen features the sound of crickets, and you'll be hard-pressed to tell if it's coming from your game or from outside. Unfortunately they did not use the actors from the movie for the voices, and that's obvious. Still, the Addams Family is a unique, engaging platformer that's far more interesting than its SNES cousin. © Copyright 2012 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 123,500
Publisher: NEC (1990)
You can get better shooters for your Turbografx, but this one isn't too shabby, especially since two people can play cooperatively. You and a friend will fly through bright skies and dark caverns while blasting jets, flying robots, and giant mechanical bosses. The opening stage is very inviting with its sunny harbor view. One button is used to engage your rapid-fire cannon and the other serves as a weak smart bomb that needs to be charged. Shooting transport pods causes icons to spew forth, and with a little skill you can grab the icon of your choice before it falls off the screen. One of the more interesting power-ups is the "bumper" (or "skis") which add protective barriers above and below your ship. These make it a lot
easier to navigate the high-speed, narrow tunnels of stage two. Aeroblasters has its share of quirks but they just add to its charm. When you destroy enemies the resulting explosion blows towards
you. It looks odd at first, but it's probably correct from a physics point of view (think about it!). Also strange is how it's really hard to tell when you die
. When your ship takes a fatal hit, it's not readily apparent until it slowly falls off the screen in a trail of smoke. My friend Shawn once referred to this as "the longest death sequence ever seen in a shooter". It's the same deal with larger enemies, who you continue to pelt with missiles before realizing they've been completely incapacitated. I like how your crashing ship can collide with enemies and even take out ground installations to earn some last-ditch points. I also like how after going through all of your continues the game remembers what your best round was. Aeroblasters may be a routine shooter on the Turbografx, but it's still a quality title. And in an age when 2D shooters are an endangered species, this one is looking better all the time. © Copyright 2011 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 20,780,000
1 or 2 players
After Burner II (Japan)
Publisher: Sega (1987)
This version of Afterburner II compares quite favorably to its closest cousin, which I assume would be the Genesis edition. I found this to be smoother and sharper, making it easier to target enemies. It's also easier to spot incoming missiles, making it less of a guessing game when it comes to dodging them. The basic gameplay consists of flying over colorful terrain while firing machine guns and missiles at jet fighters. When you lock-on from a distance you'll want to unload that missile right away because once those enemy planes converge you'll need to maneuver like a madman. Unlike the Genesis this version attempts some modest scaling when you take off from the carrier or dock with a refueling plane. A much-needed easy skill level is provided, and be sure you set the steering controls to reverse because everybody knows up is not
up. That's just common sense. The audio is less abrasive than the Genesis, but didn't get me as pumped up. Your score is only displayed during refueling sequences and at the end of the game. Continues are provided but this game is so exhausting I rarely have the desire to use them. After Burner II looks appealing but its frantic action is chaotic and confusing. Still, outside of the arcade this version provides the most bang for the buck. NOTE: This will not run on an American Turbografx-16 systems without a converter. © Copyright 2020 The Video Game Critic.
Recommended variation: easy
Our high score: 777780
Publisher: Hudson Soft (1992)
This rare title takes the Turbografx's prehistoric, platform-jumping mascot and incorporates him into a wild, quirky shooter. It sounds like a surefire hit, but the first time I played Air Zonk I was positively annoyed
by its busy graphics, weak weapons, and confusing "friend" system. It's a good thing I gave the easy mode a try, because only then did this game begin to make sense. Zonk is actually a futuristic version of the loveable bald-headed caveman of Bonk's Adventure and Bonk's Revenge. You can tell Zonk and his friends are from the future because they all wear sunglasses! Air Zonk features attractive, cartoonish graphics rendered with bright colors and huge sprites. The initial stage takes place in a harbor, and then moves on to a city, and later an outdoor stadium. Your adversaries tend to be large, personified objects like helicopters, floating televisions, and flying octopus. The imaginative bosses are mechanical monstrosities with multiple sections and flailing appendages. Zonk is propelled by a jet pack, and can employ a number of inventive weapons. One sprays playing cards all over the screen, and another unleashes a stream of metal jaws. Holding down the fire button initiates a "charged" shot, and if you hold it long enough, it functions as a smart bomb - inflicting heavy damage to everything on the screen. I also like how Zonk automatically fries creatures behind him using the exhaust of his jet pack. When a special icon is acquired, one of Zonk's buddies is called in to shoot by his side. These wacky, invincible characters range from an inflated cow, to a mummy, to a gigantic bullet! This "friend" system is cheap but effective. There were times when a boss was ripping me to shreds, but my "friend" pretty much defeated him for me as I methodically depleted my lives. Another icon lets you "meld" with your friend, creating one massive shooting machine. Air Zonk is generally fun but there are a few issues. While the bosses look terrific, they tend to consume most of the screen and their projectiles are awfully hard to avoid. If you're playing for score, you'd better keep an eye on it, because the second you lose that final life it disappears. And as I mentioned, you'll want to stick with the easy mode. Air Zonk's soundtrack is probably its best feature, pumping out some of the best tunes I've heard on this system. So if you're tired of playing generic T-16 shooters that all look the same, it may be time to track down a copy of Air Zonk. © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.
Recommended variation: sweet
Our high score: 249800
Publisher: NEC (1989)
Obviously based on the Alien movies, this pinball game features cocoons, extended jaws, crawling face-grabbers, and even an alien queen. How NEC avoided paying for the movie license is beyond me. As a fan of the series (the first two films at least), I really appreciate the remarkable graphics and sound this game has to offer. The table is a creepy, slimy alien lair with creatures coming out of the woodwork and plenty of cool animations. The ominous music and chilling sound effects also contribute to the bleak atmosphere. The flipper control is responisve, but the nudge control isn't very effective. Besides the main table there are several bonus mini-tables that challenge you to knock off a bunch of creepy crawlers. So what's the problem with Alien Crush? Well, first and foremost, instead of scrolling up and down, the screen flips
between two sections that represent the top and bottom of the board. This works okay when the ball is stuck on one end, but sometimes the ball shoots rapidly between the two sections, resulting in an ugly, disorienting effect. Trust me, it's bad. I'm not sure why NEC didn't make the screen scroll; I mean, they only do it in all their other games
! Besides that major flaw, the game is simply too easy. It goes on and on long after you've seen everything there is to see. Alien Crush is certainly impressive looking, but this could have benefitted from some polish and tuning. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 12,355,500
Publisher: NEC (1992)
I'm all for originality, but Ballistix is far too chaotic to be considered a good game. It's like air-hockey minus the control. The game is played via an overhead view of a vertically-scrolling, futuristic arena. The object is to knock a bouncing black ball into your goal. But instead of handling it directly, you rapidly fire a stream of silver balls, hoping to deflect
the black ball into the goal. It's an idea that's never been done before, and never will be done again (God willing). With dozens of bouncing balls on the screen at any given time, there's too much going on to employ any degree of strategy. You basically just try to stay under the ball and propel it in the general direction of your goal and hope for the best. As the rounds progress, obstacles and gravity fields are placed onto the arena, but these don't improve the gameplay at all, and often just get in the way. The two-player mode is an absolute mess, but the single player mode is worth a shot, allowing you to compete against gravity in a series of obstacle-laden arenas. It's playable but so easy that the game just goes on and on long after you've lost interest. The graphics in Ballistix are fairly dull, so NEC tried to spice things up by having a giant demon drop the ball to start each match. He also says something, but I couldn't make it out due to his garbled, congested voice. Those hell-spawn really need to lay off the Starbucks lattes! The best part of the game may be its driving electronic soundtrack. I'd like to give NEC credit for trying something new, but I can't imagine anybody going nuts over Ballistix. © Copyright 2007 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 207185
1 or 2 players
Publisher: Sunsoft (1989)
I love that shiny yellow logo on Batman's title screen, but why didn't they use music from the movie instead of a generic tune? This game itself is best described as Batman meets Lock N Chase
(Intellivision, 1982). The screen scrolls in all directions as our cartoonish hero scampers around the maze-like alleys of Gotham City. Each stage is introduced with an impressive image of the Gotham skyline which frankly makes the in-game graphics seem kind of disappointing. You view the action from a tilted overhead perspective so there's not much to see. Your goal in the first set of stages is to collect items like green prescription bottles and orange boxes, and I like that handy counter in the lower corner. Clown thugs materialize all over the place and your only means of attack is tossing batarangs to daze them. You can walk into the teetering clowns to finish them off, and it's satisfying to send two or three flying off the screen at a time. Beware of the green clowns however; those bastards can really move. There's one problem with the controls. Batman can't move when his batarang is in the air, so if you throw it in the wrong direction you're a sitting duck until it returns. This is especially problematic when dealing with clowns with guns. In order to hit one of them you have to place yourself in their line of fire! How are you supposed to avoid their shots? Around stage seven the funky bass music sounds almost exactly like the theme from Seinfeld. My friend Chris joked that this was the reason why the game was never released in the States. The stages are fairly short but after 12 helpings of Gotham City I was wondering if there were other locations. Finally a cut-scene kicked in introducing a set of museum stages. Your goal with these is to clean paintings by wiping off graffiti, and it's oddly satsifying. I enjoyed this game a lot, partly because it's so different from all the other Batman games. © Copyright 2017 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 30,900
Publisher: NEC (1989)
This vertical shooter must have been amazing
when it hit the scene in 1989. Its excellent graphics feature an incredible number of objects moving on the screen at any given time, with no hint of slow-down. There's a nice selection of weapons, each with their own intensity levels. With such extensive firepower, it's easy to forget that you also have a supply of bombs, which lay waste to large areas at a time. The sound effects are outstanding and the orchestrated sci-fi music is also well done. Be warned however: Blazing Lazers is one long
game. While the space station graphics in the background look fine, they tend to repeat over and over, artificially lengthening each stage. The challenge as well. The first level is terribly easy, with so many power-ups you can barely avoid them. Be sure to take advantage of this opportunity to build up a healthy supply of ships and bombs, because you'll need them for level two, where the action really
heats up. There are twelve bosses in all! Blazing Lazers ranks as yet another fine shooter for the T-16. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 551710
Publisher: NEC (1990)
Bloody Wolf excels with the same type of twitch gameplay that made Rambo and Ikari Warriors so much fun. In the unlikely background story, the President has been kidnapped and you need to infiltrate a jungle camp in order to rescue him. Your one-man army is equipped with a machine gun and grenades, but you'll soon find far more effective weapons including shotguns, bazookas, and flamethrowers. Bloody Wolf starts off like a typical side-scroller, but the screen eventually scrolls every which way as you leap over barbed wire, ride motorcycles, scale mountains, and wade through rivers. You'll face some worthy bosses including a gunship and submarine, and these stages are played out from a "behind the back" perspective. Enemy troops are numerous, but your immense firepower is up to the task. The stages are surprisingly diverse, and sometimes you can even enter a house or cave to locate extra bonuses. Some of the scenery is interactive, including exploding barrels and breakable windows. The text dialog is occasionally hilarious, with priceless lines like "We're arrived at the enemy camp. It's crawling with enemies!" and "I disappointed you gave up your mission." With unlimited continues, you can play all the way up to the last boss, who you'll face armed with only a knife. Bloody Wolf is a killer game, but there are a few minor issues. First, the grenades have to land pretty much directly on
an enemy to blow him up, which stinks. Second, when guys get blown up, they fly
off the screen like they're Superman or something, which looks pretty silly. The sound effects are weak. When a soldier is shot, blood appears on his chest, but he doesn't make a sound. A confirmation scream or at least a grunt would have been nice. There's some minor slow-down, but it's mainly towards the end of the game and by that time it's actually somewhat helpful
. And where's the freakin' two-player mode? Oh well, it's not perfect but Bloody Wolf does enough right to earn a solid recommendation. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 16500
Publisher: NEC (1991)
Considering how it's the original version of the long-running Bomberman series, I'm surprised by how robust and full-featured this game is. Not only does it support up to five
players at a time (!), but it offers a surprisingly deep single-player mode with diverse stages and a password feature. Bomberman makes for one hell of a party game as players plant bombs around a maze and then attempt to flee the ensuing explosions and chain reactions. Its fast and frantic gameplay offers a perfect blend of skill and strategy. The basic concept is simple as can be, yet once you toss a few power-ups into the equation, the action becomes very unpredictable. Collecting certain icons let you move faster, plant more bombs at a time, or extend the radius of your explosions. There's even a remote control that let you detonate your bombs at will. Unlike other versions I've played, if there are less than five players, ghosts and blobs are placed into the maze. These add to the challenge but don't wreak as much havoc as a CPU-controlled player would (as seen in subsequent editions). The single-player mode is good but not great as you attempt to clear all the ghosts in a maze and locate a hidden exit. Advanced stages feature scrolling screens, and killing ghosts is a bit like fishing as you strategically place bombs and hope they drift into the explosions. Blinking blocks usually indicate power-ups, but they sometimes unleash an army of creeps, which is annoying. I also don't like how you're required to locate the exit even after clearing all ghosts, which can be a tedious exercise. Bomberman is fun to play with friends, and even better if they're drinking. As the first entry in a storied franchise, this is a key title for Turbografx collectors. © Copyright 2010 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 13600
Save mechanism: Password
1 to 5 players
Bonk III: Bonk's Big Adventure
Publisher: NEC (1993)
Even the most devoted Bonk fans may have trouble tracking down this rare title, and you'll most definitely need to break your piggy bank. It took me about five years
to find a copy at a halfway reasonable price! Bonk 3 marks the final chapter of Bonk, but it may give you a bad case of deja-vu. The first time I played this I actually had to double-check to make sure I wasn't playing Bonk 2
, since Bonk 3 recycles many of its stages (including the cave and the ship). These stages have been "remixed" to some extent, but still
. I also noticed a lot of enemies have returned from Bonk 1 (for better or worse) including the alligators and cactus. At times it feels like a mish-mash of elements from the first two games. Bonk 3's gameplay retains the same dinosaur-headbutting and climbing-with-your teeth gameplay, but this time things get a little weird
. Bonk now has the ability to grow into a giant or shrink down to the size of a mouse by eating colored candy. These size changes play an integral part in the game as you often need to be small to access certain areas. When Bonk is large he looks surprisingly well-rounded and not nearly as pixelated as you might expect. Bonk will also transform into a crab for some unknown reason. It's easier to swim as a crab, and you can also pinch larger foes in the belly. There are several new toys to play with including zip lines and pipes that rapidly whisk you between locations. Some stages make no sense, like the one where you explore the giant house where everything is oversized except for the television set. I found Bonk 3 to be easy due to an abundance of heart icons, with only the bosses putting up substantial resistance. The bonus stages are less prevalent than they were in Bonk 2 (good), and sometimes you can even select your bonus stage from a list. The "smash the building" challenges are just like the "smash the car" bonus stage in Street Fighter 2. Bonk 3's music is not exceptional, but it's certainly an improvement over Bonk 2. A two-player coop mode is included, but it's a mess trying to keep both players on the same screen. With so many recycled and tacked-on elements, you get the feeling that the developers were running short on ideas or were in a rush. As a result Bonk 3 is a bittersweet experience that serves as the swan song for this underrated franchise. © Copyright 2011 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 37,500
1 or 2 players
Publisher: NEC (1990)
As the official mascot of the Turbografx, Bonk always played second fiddle to Mario and Sonic. Even today
, Bonk rarely gets the respect he deserves. I had a few of my friends play this recently, and the first thing they remarked was how the controls "weren't as crisp as Super Mario". Bonk just can't win!
Personally I find Bonk's Adventure extremely appealing thanks to its simple gameplay and quirky nature. Bonk is a short-tempered, bald-headed cave-boy who jumps, swims, and head-butts his way through a cartoonish prehistoric world. His enemies include alligators, dragonflies, dancing cactus, and flying toads. Bonk's most effective attack is a head-first dive, which provides a nice change of pace from the standard pouncing you see in most platform games. The opening stage looks inviting with its volcanic scenery and bright blue skies. The backgrounds are a little plain, but that's part of their charm. You'll see some funny animations when Bonk climbs walls using his teeth
or foams at the mouth upon losing a life. Jumping on flowers reveals bonus items and chunks of meat serve as power-ups. For some reason whenever Bonk eats meat he gets really pissed off and glows red with rage. In his enraged state he can head-butt the ground
to incapacitate his enemies. Bonus points are earned by collecting yellow smiley faces that pop out of defeated enemies, and frankly they look a little cheesy compared to Mario's coins and Sonic's rings. Bonk forges through diverse scenery locations including mountains, jungles, caves, glaciers, and underwater areas. In one of the more creative stages you enter a T-Rex's mouth
and proceed to work your way through his entire digestive track!
The bosses are pretty goofy, and the game has its share of "what the heck was that?
" moments. Although the game is generally well designed, there are a few headaches like rocky surfaces that inflict damage and vines that are hard to swing on. Bonk's Adventure offers unlimited continues and its pleasant soundtrack is sure to put you in a good mood. It may lack the polish of a Sonic or Mario game, but in terms of pure fun Bonk's Adventure is a legitimate classic. © Copyright 2011 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 31,250
Publisher: NEC (1991)
Bonk's Revenge delivers just about everything you'd want in a sequel: refined graphics, better-tuned controls, and a lot
more stuff to do. Best of all, it remains faithful to the head-banging gameplay that endeared the little bald caveman to us in the first place. The opening stage features a vertical configuration with waterfalls Bonk must swim up
. So much for realism
right? In addition to volcanoes, jungles, and glaciers, some stages feature more modern locations like castles, beach resorts, and even a ship at sea. There's a lot of cloud jumping, and just like in real life, they tend to be very bouncy. The scenery is far more detailed than the first game, and this is most evident in the jungle stage with its layers of lush foliage. The tranquil snow stage is my personal favorite with its rolling white hills and gently falling flakes (worth 500 points each, by the way). As in the last game, Bonk's dispatches enemies with a head-butt or a head-first dive. Although the instructions recommend setting the head-butt button to turbo mode, it's a bad idea because you'll sometimes land feet-first, making you prone to death
. Save the turbo action for the bonus stages where you need to hang in the air longer to snag bonus items. Bonk's Revenge has plenty of humor on display in the form of raining turkey legs, tiny piranha that latch onto Bonk's head, and fish that wear snorkels
. In addition to the standard fruit, bonus items assume the shape of burgers and fries, and it's satisfying to see point values flash on the screen as you collect these. On paper, this would appear to be the ultimate Bonk game, but a few flaws detract from the overall experience. Once fully powered up, Bonk's head appears to split in half, and to be honest it looks kind of disturbing! It looks like he has an ass
on his head! Still, I like how he can breathe fire in this enraged state. Bonus stages are now available, but they are so frequent
that you almost want to avoid
them after a while. Likewise the difficulty of the game is pretty low, lending itself to really long play sessions. My final complaint is the music, which sounds totally off-key and is very hard on the ears! It has a few blemishes but on the whole Bonk's Revenge does a fine job of expanding the scope while retaining the spirit of the original game. © Copyright 2011 The Video Game Critic.
Recommended variation: Expert
Our high score: 94,700
Publisher: NEC (1990)
This bizarre Japanese side-scroller begs the age-old question, "What the [expletive] is this?!
" From the wacky main character to the inexplicable dialog to the indescribable enemies, the game is 99% nonsense. Bravoman attacks enemies by extending his head, foot, and fist. He can jump high and hover in mid-air, making it easy to target floating enemies. He yells "Bravo!" whenever he attacks, and that never
gets old. I'm being facetious.
Aiding our hero on his journey is a creepy robot that says weird things like "Hey Bravoman, want to eat?" The graphics are bright and inviting with impressively large sprites. It's fun to leap over platforms while punching toys, clowns, and homeless teddybears. Emphatic symbols like "BANG!" really drive home the fact that you're beating the living crap out of these freaky things. Ummm... can someone tell why snakes are falling from the sky? Defeated enemies drop red Japanese letters you collect for points. Breaking up the monotony are side-scrolling underwater shooting stages. The upbeat 16-bit music is great, and I like how the villain introduces each stage while vigorously jerking his scepter. Bravoman might seem ridiculous at first, but after a while you start to admire its unbridled goofiness. © Copyright 2015 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 25,000
Buster Bros (CD)
Publisher: Hudson (1993)
It's not often that you play a game that doesn't remind you of any
other game you've ever played, but that's what Buster Bros is like. In this very unique and addicting arcade title, one or two players control small cartoon characters at the bottom of a screen full of bouncing balloons. These brothers must pop all the balloons without colliding with any of them. The problem is, each time you pop a balloon, it divides into two smaller ones. Some balloons drop special items you can collect, including some that increase your firepower or freeze the balloons in place for a few seconds. The initial stages are wide open, but later stages contain ladders and platforms, creating a maze of bouncing hazards. Buster Bros is truly a blast, especially with two players. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.
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