TV Sports Basketball
Publisher: NEC (1990)
TV Sports Basketball features exceptional graphics and audio, but it's all for naught thanks to the most confusing, convoluted control scheme ever devised for a basketball game. The realistic-looking players don't look bad at all, and the vertical court looks pretty sharp. Crisp sound effects punctuate the "whoosh" of a basket and the "clank" of a brick, and penalties are called out using clear voice samples. If only TV Sports Basketball was the least bit playable! The controls are absolutely bewildering, and with players constantly bunching up, it's never clear who has possession. The same button is used to pass, shoot, steal, and
call plays! For the love of God man - there has got
to be a better way! The foul shooting is deplorable, with an arrow that continues to move long after you've hit the button
! Jump shots travel at unnatural trajectories, and once they make contact with the rim, they inexplicably blast off into the stratosphere! When bringing the ball across mid-court, the game switches to a side view, and all you can do is call a play as players drag their slow asses to the other end. TV Sports Basketball lacks an NBA license, which is evident by the team names, which include the Ninjas, Shadows, Snipers
, Zombies, and get this - the Wizards
(now that's just silly)! You can manipulate your roster, but when you're dealing with fictional players, why bother? Last but not least, the game periodically displays a blonde cheerleader who doesn't look quite right
. Good Lord - she's sporting a package
!! Sadly, penis-packing cheerleaders are the most entertaining aspect of the entire game. © Copyright 2007 The Video Game Critic.
TV Sports Football
Publisher: Cinemaware (1991)
Back in my college days my friend Bob and I had a fierce rivalry in TV Sports Football on my Atari ST computer. The game's super-sharp graphics and amazing cinematics stood head and shoulders above other football games of the time. I would always be the pass-happy San Francisco team and Bob would run all over my ass with New Jersey and their star runningback Val Kinnebrew
. Bob and I recently revisited TV Sports Football on the Turbografx-16, but it wasn't the same. Instead of a full list of major league cities, you select between eight teams with cheesy names like the Buzzards, Blizzards, and Tidal Waves. The graphics certainly brought back some memories, with realistically-proportioned, well-defined players. The play selection is fairly limited however, and the action on the field is a lot
slower than I remember. It's hard to get a first down! Completing a pass requires leading your receiver, and if any defender is in the vicinity, the ball will harmlessly bounce off your chest or back. The running game relies on holes in the offensive line, and if there are none, you're a sitting duck for defenders converging from the ends. Even when you do find a hole you tend to get tripped up by your own linemen. Occasionally you'll plow right through a defender, but that's rare. When a player is tackled, he lets out an alarming primal scream.
If you didn't know better, you'd think the poor guy was being eaten by a lion!
Your one special move is to dive, but it's pretty effective. So why is this called "TV Sports" you ask? Well, there's this anchorman named "Turk McGill" who looks like a ventriloquist doll
with that john-john hairdo and bright red sport jacket. Creepy!
He's always interrupting the action to report obvious stuff like "the extra point was good". Du-uh!
Turk sometimes mentions the names of players, and they tend to have silly monikers like "Gnarly Dude" or "Salty Waters". The game's visual highlight occurs when you kick a field goal or extra point, as you're treated to a full-screen animation with a behind-the-kicker vantage point. It's really easy to aim your kick and satisfying to see it sail through the uprights. Considering how awesome that is, the complete lack of a half-time show is disappointing. TV Sports Football isn't terrible, but it feels like a watered-down version of the game I remember, and its slow pacing is sure to irritate sports fans with short attention spans. © Copyright 2009 The Video Game Critic.
TV Sports Hockey
Publisher: NEC (1991)
When it comes to 16-bit hockey games, comparisons to EA's famed NHL titles for the Genesis and Super Nintendo are unavoidable. Suffice to say, this one compares miserably
to those. TV Sports Hockey is slowly paced with infuriating controls and worthless AI. Face-offs are borderline comical as both players swat in vain at a puck that seems glued to the ice. Maintaining possession of it is nearly impossible, as precious few passes reach their desired target. You'll suddenly find yourself in control of your goalie at the most inopportune times, and even under the CPU's control, goalies allow some really soft shots through. The graphics aren't bad. Sure the players are smaller than they are in the EA games, but they look more realistic and occasionally surprise you with a nifty animation. The choppy frame-rate however will have you wishing there was an instant replay just so you could figure out how the puck got into the net! The highlight of the game is its cinematic close-ups of fights and breakaway opportunities. When two players stop and throw off their mitts, you're treated to a well-executed fight, with punches, blocks, and even flying blood! Unfortunately, once you experience a few of these battles, they soon become mundane. Each penalty triggers an unnecessary cutaway to an anchorman offering insightful commentary like "Chicago offside". This guy looks like a complete dork with that missing tooth and bowl haircut. Hey, wait a minute
- isn't that Lloyd Christmas
from Dumb and Dumber
!? In terms of audio, TV Sports Hockey cranks out some decent organ music, but the crowd sounds like a throat full of phlegm! Instead of scraping skates and bone-crunching checks, you get cat-like hisses and voice samples that sound like "BOO!" Are these players trying to scare
each other?? The contests run too long, and you can't adjust the length of the periods. The roster screens depict goalies wearing regular helmets over
their white masks, making them look like skeletons! If not for TV Sports Hockey's "so-bad-it's-funny" moments, it would probably be completely worthless. © Copyright 2007 The Video Game Critic.
Takin' It To The Hoop
Publisher: NEC (1989)
Whenever you turn on a basketball game and see some white boy soaring above a rim and throwing down a dunk, you know you're headed for some crap
. But as bad as Takin' It To The Hoop is, it still
stands head and shoulders above that God-awful TV Sports Basketball. With a little more effort, this could
have been a lot of fun. The graphics are well-defined and somewhat whimsical. The players sport oversized heads, and they appear to be scampering around in diapers! That red, white, and blue basketball looks like a freakin' beach ball! Controlling your player is easy enough, but switching between them is confusing. The selected player flickers only slightly, making him hard to locate - especially when he's off the screen! Remarkably, you cannot jump at all
(even for rebounds), and the computer-controlled team steals the ball at will. When a player attempts a shot near the hoop, the game switches to a full-screen close-up showing the slam (or block) being executed. While it's easily the highlight of the game, it's strange how the players suddenly change from goofy cartoon characters to realistic players! Close-ups are also employed for foul shots, and you can't help but laugh when you witness every one of these players shooting like a girl! You can't adjust the excessively long periods, and you're forced to constantly rotate out tired players. Considering the inclusion of extraneous features like switching defensive schemes, you really wish the programmers would have invested more time in the stuff that really matters
. Takin' It To The Hoop may be the best basketball game available for the Turbografx, but let's not kid ourselves here - it's still pretty bad. © Copyright 2007 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Right Stuff (1991)
This rare side-scrolling shooter is remarkably average. The opening sequence shows off Terraforming's hand-drawn style, which straddles the line between artistic and cheesy
. The stages offer surreal, pastel-colored sky-scapes and landscapes. Enemies come in a bizarre assortment of biological and mechanical shapes. Most defy description, but a few vaguely resemble manta rays, umbrellas, and gorillas. Your ship is equipped with a rapid-fire cannon which doubles as a charged shot, and the second button is used to adjust your speed. Attackers enter the fray from all sides, and they come in droves. Colored pods provide three types of weapon power-ups. The yellow is the best by far, as it sprays missiles around your ship and provides the best coverage. The blue weapon unleashes homing missiles which sound like clanking metal when they strike enemies, and that's pretty annoying! After loading up on yellow or blue weapons, you can pretty much hold down the fire button and rack up the points. The red power-up provides a more concentrated attack, but it's poorly-suited to handle the swarms of enemies this game throws at you. Take note that the red and yellow pods look very similar
, so don't mix them up! When powered-up, taking a hit causes you to lose weapon strength instead of your ship, which is nice. Terraforming's CD soundtrack is decent but nothing to write home about. At times I got the impression that the waves were artificially extended so the player is forced to hear the songs in their entirety. The same enemies re-enter the screen in the same patterns over and over again. The bosses resemble turtles and plants, and they're not very intimidating. Terraforming isn't a bad way to pass the time, but I've played better non-CD
shooters on my Turbografx, which should say something. © Copyright 2011 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 294,463
Publisher: Victor (1990)
I usually appreciate side-scrolling martial arts games, but Tiger Road falls victim to poor design. You control a martial arts student armed with weapons like swords, morning stars, and maces. The characters are cartoonish in appearance, but the graphics do have an appealing, clean look to them. Gameplay mainly involves jumping from generic platforms and beating up an endless supply of goons. The two buttons are used for jump and attack, and I do recommend activating the turbo control on your attack button. The controls are responsive, but no match for the relentless armies you face. Enemies appear from out of nowhere, and they're always pouncing on your head, where you are completely vulnerable (you can't attack up!). Also annoying is how these thugs constantly regenerate, so once you defeat an enemy, you turn around and he's right there again! One of the better stages has you actually flying
around a series of obstacles - sort of a precursor to Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. I also enjoyed the bonus "training sessions", which challenge you to perform feats like putting out fire with your weapon. But these novelties can't save Tiger Road's poorly-designed levels and unforgiving gameplay. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 35000
Publisher: Face (1992)
This exceptional video pinball game features a huge board that's as wide as it is tall. The up and down scrolling is smooth, although the side scrolling is a bit choppy. Time Cruise's control is responsive, although the ball has been known to hesitate momentarily. A nudge button comes in very handy for emergency situations. The time-machine style graphics are both attractive and original, but all areas of the table look pretty much the same. The pinball action is solid, but it takes a back seat to the numerous bonus stages that can take you either backward or forward in time. Each of these unique stages offer its own unique brand of fun, usually in the form of mini-pinball games. One requires you to guide a ball through a maze by tilting a board, and while it's quite challenging, it takes too long and slows down the pace of the game. Still, Time Cruise has a lot of depth for a pinball game. It's more playable than Alien Crush, but not as good as Devil's Crush. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 1400600
Publisher: Accolade (1991)
Turrican is a familiar name with the 16-bit shooter crowd. Assuming the role of a guy in a high-tech suit, you blast robots and creatures while traversing treacherous alien landscapes. This game has quite a bit in common with Metroid
(NES, 1987), especially considering your ability to roll up into a ball
(c'mon now!). On the surface Turrican is a refreshingly simple old-school throwback with crisp graphics and tight controls. You leap high between platforms, wield powerful weapons, and collect crystals. The idea of collecting 300 crystals to earn a continue is a complete joke
. I couldn't collect a dozen! It's annoying how you can only fire side-to-side since 90% of your enemies seem to attack from above
. Hell, in stage one alone there are several times where rocks inexplicably rain down from the sky
. What are you supposed to do? Holding the fire button triggers your 360-degree lightning whip, but this negates the ability to use the turbo switch. By the time you've activated and positioned your whip you've probably already succumbed to your injuries. Likewise accessing special weapons like grenades, mines, or bombs is awkward and time-consuming. Turrican becomes a war of attrition as you just try to minimize the mandatory hits to your life bar. On the bright side, after you die you pick up exactly where you left off. Be sure to watch the demo mode which reveals strategy as well as the location of hidden items. The soundtrack has a catchy melody and relentless rhythm. I find it odd how the sound effect for shooting and landing on your feet are the same. This isn't a bad game, but it didn't exactly rock me like a Turrican. If you enjoy this style you might want to check out Gunlor
d (Dreamcast, 2012). © Copyright 2018 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 29,950
Publisher: Telenet (1992)
Valis: The Legend of the Fantasm Soldier is actually a CD remake
of the 1986 original, which would explain the excellent graphics and 1992 release date. At its core this is still a straight-forward side-scroller pitting a schoolgirl with magical powers against legions of mythical creatures. The CD format allows for extended cut-scenes, orchestrated music, and melodramatic dialog. You don't need to understand Japanese to be entertained by the breathless voice acting. The stages are nicely detailed. The game opens in front of a school before heading through a city and descending into the subway. Along the way you'll battle worms, insect men, flying plants, and rotating face blocks. There are some very well-designed creatures, my favorite being the skeleton pirates that shatter when struck down. Enemies occasionally fall from above, which is bogus. When you die, the fluid animation of your Yuko collapsing to the ground is terrific. The gameplay is fairly vanilla but you can experiment with various weapons to spice things up. Floating icons can imbue you with excellent firepower, but don't accidentally grab a weaker weapon! Weapons are identified by letters, and I came to associate B (double shot) with "bad". Even worse is "A" which lets you unload slow, bouncy green slime balls. The jumping controls tend to be erratic, especially during boss encounters. The stages aren't particularly long but it's still painful to be sent back to the start after dying at the hands of a boss. Your score is only visible when you pause, along with the high score. I enjoyed the Japanese manual with its colorful illustrations and glossy screenshots. Overall I'd rate this Valis remake as very good, combining the raw gameplay of an early platformer with the sophisticated charm of a CD title. © Copyright 2019 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 62,400
Valis II (CD)
Publisher: LaserSoft (1990)
If you feel the urge to get back-to-basics Valis II will not disappoint. It delivers platform-slashing fun in a world of endless mythological creatures. Our heroine Yuko begins as a Japanese schoolgirl running through city streets while hurling knifes at samurai warriors and slinky weasels. The difficulty is low and the scenery sparse as you venture through subways, caves, and colorful sky kingdoms. The projectile-based combat is moderately fun, but while moving forward you're a little too close to the edge of the screen, making it hard to react in time. You'll find yourself taking a stop-and-go approach, which is kind of annoying. Yuko squeals like a puppy when hit, but not to worry because she has a huge life bar. I find it strange how the life bar of the next boss remains permanently displayed below yours. Weapon upgrades appear early and often, and you'll soon find yourself nearly invincible, firing deadly waves of energy while being protected by a rotating orbs. You don't even lose your weapon when you die. Valis II is so easy I worried I might beat it on my first try! You get tons of extra lives and there's even a save function. The challenge finally kicks in during stage four, where you battle floating brains and dudes dashing around on fire. I have to admit there are some very cool-looking creatures like slithering snake-men. The CD-quality music is fair but the cutscenes fall flat with long, awkward silences between lines of dialog. Scary demonic bosses sound more like college professors and the dialog is dreadful. But don't attempt to skip the dialog - I did and accidentally reset the entire game
. Valis II probably didn't need a CD, but it does deliver old-school fun with a low frustration factor. © Copyright 2019 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 248,000
Publisher: Telenet (1991)
It's amazing how a game can be terrific on one system and lousy on another. The Genesis version of Valis III was an enthralling combination of swordplay and platform jumping, but on the Turbografx it's just exasperating. The game kicks off with an overwrought introduction conveyed with colorful (but mostly static) images and plenty of voice dialogue. You'd think the narrator would possess a deep voice to lend weight to the epic storyline, but instead you get some squeaky-voiced geek. The cut scenes are lengthy (probably to justify the CD format), and they periodically require a few seconds to load. Unless you're really into anime, you'll just want to hit the Run button and get on with it. Valis 3's gameplay is pretty standard. By switching control between various female characters, you slash your way through scenic lands filled with mythological creatures. The graphics are sharper than the Genesis version, but not as attractive. The city lights in particular look like crap. The pace of the game is faster, but the controls are far
less forgiving. Whenever an enemy strikes you, you automatically roll back, often off the edge of a cliff! In the poorly designed second stage, I couldn't determine how to leap between a series of well-spaced ledges. After a bit of research, I discovered you actually have to slide
between the ledges! Yes, slide across a chasm in mid-air. Idiotic stuff like that makes me want to slap an F
on the game and be done with it. Valis 3 is also plagued by cheap and mandatory hits, making the game far more difficult than it should be. The soundtrack is of high quality, but the voice acting is vomit-inducing. Check out this dramatic exchange. Boss: "My intro was a bit flashy, but do you like it?" Yuko: "Why do you do something like that?" Boss: "Hey, ask your sword, Yuko." This game is a mess. If you have a choice, stick with the Genesis version. © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.
Valis IV (Japan)
Publisher: Telenet (1991)
I've played my share of Valis games and they consistently provide solid, old-school platforming fun with attractive heroines. This PC Engine title has a lengthy intro with some boring Japanese guy who just won't shut up. Valis IV lets you toggle between a pair of attractive ladies with the push of a button. One wears a blue dress, slashing with a sword and sliding through narrow passages. The other is dressed in yellow, hurling a boomerang-style weapon and performing double-jumps. The stage designs are simple yet clean and attractive. You'll walk through temple ruins under a red sunset, float on platforms over rushing water, and cross perilous bridges. Enemies include flying crabs, floating phantoms, some green guy with a mace, and fire-breathing dragon statues. I like how you can slash repeatedly, but you can only aim sideways so it's hard to deal with enemies approaching from overhead. If you press up while attacking, you'll unleash your magic which envelops the screen. The controls are crisp but the double jump is tricky. You need to initiate the second jump right away; if you hesitate it will not register. Before jumping onto a platform near the edge of the screen you'll want to pause a moment to make sure it's not being patrolled by a monster. Some platforms are hard to reach but I noticed you can jump a little higher if you do so while running. Later stages introduce additional playable characters like a tall knight who hurls ghostly wolf heads. Enemies exhibit predictable behavior, but I hate those big white swirls that follow you around like heat-seeking missiles. Valis IV has no score but several continues are available. The orchestrated soundtrack is CD quality and has an appealing old school vibe. The game isn't spectacular but it might remind you how much fun an old-school side-scroller can be. © Copyright 2014 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: NEC (1989)
This racing game challenges you to complete an eight-mile course within a set period of time. The track segments include everything from a French countryside to the Sahara desert, and the graphics are impressively smooth. There's nothing on the side of the road, but the distant scenery and the colorful skylines look great. As day turns to night, the lights go on in the buildings - a nice touch. The smooth scaling of oncoming cars and the rolling hills reminded me of Road Rash on the Genesis, but why are all of the vehicles so huge? My car looks like a toy compared to these other cars! Heck, even the motorcycles tower over me. And what's up with all the garbage trucks? Victory Run's gameplay just didn't do it for me. Driving down the road dodging cars gets old after a while. Between track segments you can upgrade you tires, gears, engine, suspension, and brakes, but I could never tell which ones I needed. Even worse, you can damage your engine by running it too high! That goes against my natural instinct to go fast, and it really hurts this game's overall score. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Irem (1989)
Here's a side-scrolling brawler with terrific graphics but just so-so gameplay. The fighters are large and well-defined, and your character resembles Jackie Chan. The gameplay is completely 2D, so you can only move from side to side. The storyline definitely caught my attention: "The skinheads have taken Madonna hostage!" - I kid you not. The girl does have blond hair but is dressed far too modest to be mistaken for the real Madonna. Through five action-packed stages, your kung-fu hero faces the same thugs over and over until you reach the end-of-level boss. The moves are limited to the standard punch, kick, jump, and crouch, but occasionally you'll come across a pair of devastating nun-chucks which kick the action into high gear. If you want to be really
cheap, use the turbo with these things for some rapid-fire attacks. It's especially effective against bosses, who normally take forever
to kill. The graphics in Vigilante are better than average, and the New York skyline looks fantastic. In terms of sound, the music isn't bad, and there's a satisfying "thud" whenever you whack somebody. Vigilante is fun while it lasts, but it's definitely a shallow experience. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 7950
World Class Baseball
Publisher: NEC (1989)
The Turbografx never excelled in terms of sports games, and this is yet another example of that. World Class Baseball's graphics are crisp and colorful, but the gameplay lacks polish. It's easy to see the pitch coming thanks to the nice behind-the-batter view, but trying to hit the ball is another story. The game routinely calls pitches far off the plate as strikes. When a ball is put into play, the game switches to an unimpressive overhead view with slow fielders and unresponsive dive controls. The throws are so weak that routine grounders turn into base hits, and you can forget about turning any double plays. It's pretty obvious that NEC didn't put a lot of effort into the game. The umpire voices are in Japanese, and runners don't overrun bases - they stop on a dime, which looks dumb. World Class Baseball is easy enough to play and moves at a steady pace, but it can't compete with other great baseball games of its time. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.
World Court Tennis
Publisher: NEC (1991)
When the cover of a game sports a photo of a tennis player, you don't expect to see chubby little anime players when you turn it on. They look like kids running around in diapers
for Pete's sake! In terms of gameplay however there's something pure and organic about World Court Tennis. The controls feel super responsive and clear audio effects provide positive reinforcement. The animation is fluid and the ball bounces are true. It's nice how players angle their rackets and even dive. There's an element of chance as balls sometime bounce off the net or drift out of bounds. During serves, one button is an aggressive serve and the other is a safe serve. Likewise during volleys one button is a normal return and the other is a lob. Your player stops in his tracks when you execute your swing, so proper positioning is critical. It takes a while to get a feel for the game but it plays great. After each point the camera pans up to the crowd, and I think I spotted Colonel Sanders in the first row. World Court Tennis supports the multitap (for doubles action) but it's the RPG mode
that steals the show. You did not misread that last sentence! It sounds like an awful idea but it's awesome! The totally believable premise has you trying to restore peace in a kingdom taken over by an evil tennis king. As you roam the wilderness you are confronted by preppy-looking people who challenge you to tennis matches. You use your winnings to upgrade your equipment. It's fun and addictive. World Court Tennis is no doubt one of the silliest tennis games you'll ever play but it's also one of the most fun. © Copyright 2016 The Video Game Critic.
World Sports Competition
Publisher: Hudson Soft (1993)
World Sports Competition supports up to five competitors via turbotap, so I had some friends over to try it out on my deck one pleasant summer evening. I assumed this was a "can't miss" game but it turned out to be a minor disaster. Each player can configure his athlete "type" but there's only white guy (with blonde hair, of course) and could his pink jumpsuit be any tighter? The 18 events (!) cover track and field, swimming, rowing, and shooting. Unfortunately learning how to play each one requires reading the manual's tiny font. Not only do these instructions fail to provide adequate descriptions of the controls, they refer to some events by the wrong name!
Did the author even play
this game? The competition is divided into three-event "days", each concluding with a lady at a sports news announcing "It's dog-eat-dog at the Hudson Stadium Championships!" The trap shooting, archery, and rapid-fire pistol (is that even a thing?) events are probably the best of the bunch. The track and field events are a somewhat exhausting combination of button mashing and timing. But man, Hudson Soft really beat the swimming contests into the [expletive] ground! There are no less than five
of these boring events. I can't tell one from the next, and they take forever
. But the worst flaw in World Sport Competition would have to be its outrageous difficulty. You practically have to set a world record just to qualify! Hell, in the long jump you pretty much have to clear
the [expletive] sandbox!
Adding insult to injury, failure in any event means you'll have to start the entire day over!
Was Hudson Soft too cheap to hire one lousy play-tester?! The qualifying score is flashed briefly before each event; is it asking too much to keep that thing on the screen? Finding themselves stuck in track-and-field limbo, my friends resorted to two people sharing one same controller - one to run and the other to time the jump. Next time we'll stick to the training mode, which at least returns you to the event selection screen. World Sports Championship is a botched olympic title that feels like it was rushed out the door in world record time. © Copyright 2016 The Video Game Critic.
Recommended variation: long jump
Our high score: SDZ 8m04
1 to 5 players
Publisher: NEC (1991)
I was hoping this would be a racially insensitive title I could tear apart, but sadly it's just an innocuous skateboarding game. Yo Bro lets you control a skateboarding bear
who rolls around town while saving humans and defeating monsters with his slingshot. When you ride over people big point values appear, calling to mind Robotron. Unfortunately the shooting aspect is very unlike
Robotron. Basically it sucks. First off, it's really
hard to navigate the streets on your skateboard. Lining up for a shot is difficult enough, but your momentum usually sends you drifting right into your target! That's a serious problem when enemies like man-eating plants requires about 15 shots
to kill! Be sure to enable the rapid-fire setting on your controller. Advanced stages pit you against bee swarms, dinosaurs, and aliens, but the action always feels the same. The maze-like town is boring and the non-stop Beach Boys music will have you lunging for the mute button. Yo Bro drags on and on, so by the time you're prompted to "continue?" the decision is a no-brainer. © Copyright 2012 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 51,600
1 or 2 players
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