Clash has a set of platforms in the foreground and background. The goal of each stage is to eliminate all the creatures on the platforms using turtle shells. Mario not only can move between both sets of platforms via pipes, but can even throw shells between the two to knock off targets in the distance.
Once you get a feel for it, Mario Clash is a satisfying mix of strategy and arcade action. The early levels are fairly straightforward, but the advanced levels require some thought. The controls are responsive, and the crisp graphics make it easy to tell on what plane objects are located. With 99 levels in all, this is a must-have for Virtual Boy owners. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.
Viewing the action from behind your player, the court conveys amazing depth. The black background makes it look like you're playing at night, although you can see some scenery in the background. The ball is large and easy to follow, and you simply press A for normal shots and B for lobs. Overhead smashes are executed automatically when the ball is returned soft and high near the net.
Many of your favorite Nintendo characters are playable, including Mario, Luigi, Koopa, Toad, Donkey Kong Jr., Yoshi, and Princess Toadstool. You can play single matches, tournaments, and even doubles! The only drawback to doubles is how you can't always see what your partner is doing due to the close camera angle, but it's still a nice option to have.
To excel at Mario Tennis, you really need to learn how to play the net, since overhead smashes and drop shots are key to beating the game on the hard level. Mario Tennis is a quality title that sets the standard quite high for Virtual Boy games.
. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.
After lining up your bowler, you engage simple spin and power meters to initiate your roll, and together they provide a remarkable degree of control. Like most bowling games, your initial point of view is from behind your player, but after the ball is thrown you get a close-up of the pins. The pins look decidedly flat but at least they ricochet around realistically - making it possible to pick up some tough splits.
Nester's soundtrack is very good, and there are some amusing animations when you throw a split, spare, or strike. In addition to normal bowling, there's also an addictive "challenge" mode that presents you with various pin combinations to knock down. Nester's Funky Bowling is a pleasant surprise, and quite possibly the most entertaining bowling game I've ever played. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.
The playing field is split in half as you go head-to-head against a series of animated opponents. The object is to manipulate falling groups of shapes, lining up three or more identical shapes to make them disappear. These shapes assume a lot of cute forms including cat faces, Bomberman heads, and dancing Hershey Kisses.
Unlike V-Tetris, the shapes are large and quickly fill the playing field. So what's the twist? Well, bombs are created whenever you eliminate a set of shapes. You can either detonate these bombs with other falling bombs, or let them accumulate. It's a cool risk-reward dynamic, daring you to let your side stack up to dangerous heights.
The rounds are relatively short and passwords are provided on a regular basis. I enjoyed Panic Bomber's soundtrack, which borrows a number of rollicking, catchy tunes from its parent Bomberman series. Panic Bomber would probably be more fun on a television set, but it's hard to dislike a game like this.
. © Copyright 2009 The Video Game Critic.
In addition to your main cannon, there's a confusing lock-on system that lets you fire homing missiles. The L button initiates sharp turns needed to navigate some of the more tricky corridors. Red Alarm makes you fly under barriers and between posts a lot, bringing to mind the original Star Wars arcade game. Thank goodness you don't incur damage for scraping against walls!
You'll encounter some cool enemies, like a wall that transforms into a face, but Red Alarm may have been too ambitious for its own good. There are so many enemies and explosions on the screen that you often can't tell what's going on. Changing to a third-person view helps, but there are other problems.
The screen is cluttered with far too many gauges and indicators, and it's hard to maintain control while using the L button due to the choppy frame rate. The boss stages are almost unbearable because they take place in enclosed arenas, forcing you to constantly turn around. Upon losing your ship, you're sent all the way back to the beginning of the stage - talk about demoralizing! Red Alarm could have been a decent game, but it tries to do too much and collapses under its own weight. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.
I appreciate how they're rendered with a scan-line style that's faithful to the arcade. The 3D is effective as you watch your missiles shoot up the screen while squiggly bombs fall toward you. This game puts you in the middle of the action! It's a little more difficult to gauge your shots in 3D, but all the more satisfying when you nail a mutant in the distance. Destroyed aliens "pop" with a splatter, and since everything is red I assume that's blood.
You can poke holes in the protective shields but that turns them into a jumbled mess. When the mothership warbles in the far distance, it makes for an irresistible target. It's tough to hit but worth big points so you might as well take a shot. There are some nifty 3D flourishes like how the mothership "buzzes you" upon its escape, or how blasting that final alien causes explosive shards to fly right into your eyes!
In addition to the arcade mode there are time attack and score attack modes. You can even play the original 2D version. All variations let you choose between Space Invaders 1 or 2, but I didn't really notice much difference except for the background scenery. Space Invaders Virtual Collection is great. Any cartridge that can breathe new excitement into a 40-year old video game is worth celebrating. © Copyright 2018 The Video Game Critic.
The action takes place in a floating checkered hallway in space. You freely move your jetpack-equipped alien around the near end, and your opponent can be seen at the far end. A metal ball bounces between you, and the idea is to swat it past your opponent in a best-of-five contest. Like most Virtual Boy games, the graphics are pleasing to the eye... at first.
The sense of depth is good and objects are sharply defined. The first few matches are simple back-and-forth contests, but eventually the game adds obstacles like blocks, spinners, and moving columns. Power-ups appear periodically, but much like my life bar, they don't have much impact on the gameplay.
One problem with Space Squash is how your character tends to obstruct your view of the ball! The collision detection is peculiar, as you can strike the ball without actually touching it. In fact, the further away you are when you "hit" it, the sharper the angle it's returned. The first few rounds move along at a steady pace but once you reach the snake-like boss, things grind to a halt. Hitting that thing on the head is really hard, and hitting it ten times takes forever.
Space Squash is more time-consuming than challenging. First it becomes tiresome, and then just plain boring. And once it wears out its welcome, this isn't the kind of game you're going to want to play again any time soon.
. © Copyright 2017 The Video Game Critic.
As was the case with the original version, Strip Poker II teaches valuable life lessons. Mainly, it's hard to get a woman to take off her clothes and a great deal of luck is required. Those familiar with the Virtual Boy know the system is famous for its excessive warnings against looking at its screen for more than 15 minutes at the risk of eye damage. Being the diligent critic however I played this thing for seven hours straight!
There were side effects however. First, the image of that half-dressed hottie is now forever burned into my retinas. I see her wherever I look! That's the good news. The bad news is I seemed to have developed an annoying crick in my neck. On the whole I think it was worth it. My Virtual Boy is finally a Virtual Man. Madly addictive and only moderately detrimental to your health, Strip Poker II is indisputable proof that chicks from the 90's were hot - red hot! © Copyright 2017 The Video Game Critic.
Telero's graphics are stunning - I'd give them an A+. Your opponents bob and weave fluidly, and their fists move toward you in 3D. Your punches are effectively rendered by floating fists, and you can throw jabs, hooks, and uppercuts. The clever control scheme takes advantage of the symmetrical design of the Virtual Boy controller, letting you easily dodge, guard, and duck.
Teleroboxer is a perfect fit for the Virtual Boy, and it's very challenging. After the first opponent, the difficulty ramp is steep, which kind of turned me off. Advanced opponents require more of a defensive approach, so you'll need to block their punches before getting a chance to connect. The cartridge saves up to three records, so you don't have to go back and fight old opponents. Hards as nails but visually stunning, Teleroboxer is a game any Virtual Boy fan should own. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.
The blocks in V-Tetris are really small, so the games tend to run even longer than normal Tetris games (what's forever times two?). The system's 3D capabilities have nothing to offer a game like Tetris. Of the three variations, the first two are just "classic" 2D modes you'd be better off playing on a normal console or computer. The third variation introduces the concept of "shifting the playfield" left or right, cycling the blocks around the back of the board (where they can be seen through a "fence" pattern).
This little twist only serves to make the games ever longer! It certainly doesn't justify this cartridge. You can select from a wide range of difficulties, but there are too many choices, so you'll struggle to find an ideal skill level. The soundtrack is pretty bad, and one of the tunes was so ear-splitting I had to turn the volume down! Tetris is so wrong for the Virtual Boy, and I don't think this was a very good version to begin with. © Copyright 2009 The Video Game Critic.
The game makes fine use of the Virtual Boy's 3D capabilities, but it's simply not that much fun. You can move between planes using the A button, which is not only necessary to reach all enemies, and also to dodge enemy fire and avoid crashing into structures. Instead of lives, you have one damage meter that decreases whenever you run into something, which makes the game a lot easier.
Another unique element is the "drones" you can collect. These well-armed remote devices can attack independently, and often do most of your work for you! They zip around the screen and between the two planes, destroying enemies like heat-seeking missiles. Three types of drones can be swapped in and out on the fly, which sounds cool but gets confusing in the heat of battle.
Vertical Force's layered graphics do the job but aren't particularly impressive. The game isn't very easy on the eyes, with many large, overlapping, red platforms in the later stages. Some bosses are innovative (like the elevator boss in the screenshot), but they tend to repeat. A few sound effects, like the laser fire, are so high pitched that I wanted to turn the volume down.
Another annoyance is how the game doesn't bother displaying your score when it's over. What's the point of even keeping score if you can't see it?? Shooter fans might enjoy the novelty value of Vertical Force, but once that wears off, you're stuck with a very mediocre game.
. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.
First you line yourself up and aim using the two d-pads. Then you need to time a semi-confusing, semi-circle curve meter. I can never remember which side will curve the ball what way. Finally, there's a power meter which is like a traditional golf meter. After a few frames of practice I was able to throw my share of strikes and spares.
The camera follows the ball down the lane but stops a few feet away from the pins. I kind of wish it would keep going because the pin animation is underwhelming. The pins look flat and the physics is unconvincing. Trying to knock the head pin into a corner pin never works, even when you hit it just right. And you can forget about ever converting a split.
The visual highlight is the reverse replay angle, shown when you score a strike or spare. Seeing yourself standing at the top of the lane is kind of like having an out-of-body experience. What makes Virtual Bowling work is its breakneck pace. You can roll ten frames in three minutes for crying out loud! I timed it. This makes you want to play again and again to top your best score.
The game also offers a tournament mode that pits you against trash-talking CPU opponents. I'm not sure a game like Virtual Bowling needed to be on the Virtual Boy, but the Virtual Boy needed a quick and enjoyable game like this one.
. © Copyright 2018 The Video Game Critic.
Upon selecting a location you're told how much fish you need to catch (example: 220cm). The contests are limited to eight minutes, and that's one thing Virtual Fishing does right. Eight minutes gives you enough time to pull in a few juicy fish without causing your eyes to hemorrhage. You view a strip of water with scenic backdrops like forests, mountains, and waterfalls. The 3D is hardly integral to the game, but the water surface looks great with its shifting currents that move in different directions.
Your controls are extremely limited. When casting you can aim slightly left or right, but you can't control the distance. While waiting for a bite, you stare at a small window showing your rod in the upper left corner. Couldn't they have placed that in the center instead?! All you can do is reel or pull your line in. When your rod bends, tap the right shoulder button to set the hook. The timing is weird and tends to vary between locations. If you miss, you're forced to recast.
Once the hook is set, you view the ensuing battle from an underwater side view, and it's not impressive. The fish will sometimes dart away from the camera, making it look smaller. You'll want to reel when the fish is not running or risk breaking the line. I love that clicking sound of the reel and also enjoy the pleasant music that plays throughout the game.
Eight minutes passed quickly and I never really mounted a serious challenge to my CPU competitors. My friend Scott fared much better, so it's possible I just suck at this game. Virtual Fishing is a marginal title, but like most fishing games, it has an addictive quality. So if you're desperate for a new Virtual Boy title, this import might be worth considering. © Copyright 2014 The Video Game Critic.
Once the ball is hit, the screen shows the entire field with tiny fielders and one large, easy-to-follow ball. Despite the size of the players, the graphics aren't bad and the stadium looks terrific, with a bridge and mountains in the background that suggest San Francisco. That moon looks funny though - as if it's hanging directly over the center field fence! I also really dig the catchy music that loops over and over.
The controls are quite intuitive, letting you dive for grounders, bunt, and steal bases with no problem. You can even juggle your roster, pinch-hit, and pick off runners trying to steal. So what's wrong with this game? Well, it's never easy to position those tiny fielders, and they all move in unison. You move your second baseman over to catch a grounder, and now your first basemen is near the dugout! Even lazy fly balls can be an adventure. Runners move too fast, and there are far too many homeruns.
The teams aren't of the major league variety, but foreign countries. Typical of Japanese baseball games, when one team gets ahead by ten runs they automatically win "by domination". It's odd, but not necessarily a bad thing! The game offers a "versus computer" mode, an all-star game, and a "pennant race" mode that challenges you to beat all of the other teams (a password is provided). I enjoyed Virtual League Baseball, although a nine inning game can run pretty long for a Virtual Boy session. If the fielding were a little more forgiving, this would be a must-have game. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.
It all seems very familiar at first, but soon you discover nifty 3D elements that not only look impressive, but play an integral role in the game. Special springs allow you to vault to platforms in the distant background, and thanks to the Virtual Boy's sharp graphics, controlling you Wario from afar is no problem at all. Adversaries can move back and forth between the foreground and background, and you'll need good timing to elude them. These enemies are an imaginative bunch, including charging knights and fish with chainsaw noses.
Wario Land is a quality game through and through. The sprites are huge, and the multi-layered backgrounds compensate for the lack of color. There are a few mini-games that let you bet coins, and a nice auto-save feature tells you exactly how far you've made it through the game. I know the Virtual Boy is only capable of stereo sound, but Wario Land's audio sounds like it's surrounding you - it's that good! Wario Land probably never got the attention it deserved, but it's an outstanding platform game that no Virtual Boy fan should miss out on. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.
Much like the movie itself, most critics summarily dismissed this game without even giving it a chance. Personally, I think this is a perfectly respectable shooter. Each round begins with a group of people waving their arms in the ocean, surrounded by a few metal structures. Evil "Smokers" riding jet skis converge from the outer edges and begin to kidnap the people. By simply steering your boat and firing with the shoulder buttons, you can send those Smoker bastards to a watery grave.
You view the action from behind your vessel, and the 3D effect is convincing. I love the rapid-fire shooting action, and the polygon explosions aren't bad either. The end-of-round score tally offers ample eye candy, including villain Dennis Hopper shaking his disembodied head at you in disapproval. While certainly shallow, Waterworld's gameplay somewhat reminded me of Defender.
The graphics are sharp, although they do become choppy in later stages. The beautiful but desolate musical score perfectly matches the original soundtrack of the film. Perhaps the game's most glaring flaw is its single difficulty level. It's not as challenging as one would like, so the games tend to run a bit long. That's not good for a system that advises you to "rest" your eyes every fifteen minutes! Overall I had a pretty good time playing this. Like the movie, Waterworld is no classic but if you're in the mood for some action it delivers the goods. © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.
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Screen shots courtesy of Planet Virtual Boy