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Games are rated relative to other games for the same system.

Neo Geo Reviews B

Baseball Stars Professional
Grade: B-
Publisher: SNK (1990)
Posted: 2002/9/6

screenshotThis is the baseball game I've always wanted - no complicated controls, gratuitous set-up screens, or lulls in the action. Combining nice 2D graphics with simple, fast gameplay, Baseball Stars Professional is pure arcade fun. There are only two stadiums, and the teams are fictional, but the gameplay is right on target.

The graphics are fairly minimal for a Neo Geo game, but the animation is smooth and the controls are responsive. Shortstops leap over sliding runners and outfielders crash into the fences. The "not-so-well-translated-from-Japanese" commentary is often unintentionally hilarious. For example, when you smack a homerun, the announcer exclaims "It's outta here! Hooomer outta here! And the crowd goes crazy. And how he loves to egg that crowd on. And proud he should be - he hit that ball a country mile! He just loves to hit homeruns in this ballpark." Strange nuances like that just make me love this game even more, but Baseball Stars does have its flaws.

Since the screen scrolls quickly when the ball is hit, it's often hard to position your fielders in time to handle grounders or fly balls. There are a far too many home runs and pop-ups to the infield, and the managers look like escaped convicts. Besides changing pitchers and pinch-hitting, there are really no options to speak of. You're also stuck with the Japanese "10-run domination" rule. Baseball Stars Professional is admittedly shallow, but for those of us tired of slow, realistic baseball games, this is just what the doctor ordered. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.

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1 or 2 players 

Baseball Stars Professional 2
Grade: A-
Publisher: SNK (1992)
Posted: 2002/9/6

screenshotI loved the first Baseball Stars Professional, and BSP2 really ups the ante. It's very similar to the first game, but the graphics have been given a major overhaul. In fact, the visuals are so flashy that sometimes I think they might have gone a bit overboard. The game bombards your senses by flashing so many windows and graphics that you can never digest it all.

The main screen features animated close-ups of both the pitcher and batter, and while these look terrific, the same faces repeat with annoying frequency. There are numerous cool graphical details like batters that break their bats, submariner pitchers, and rolling balls that kick up dust. After a home run, the entire team (including the mascot) greets the player at home plate. There are a substantial number of cut scenes and close-ups, especially during diving catches and close plays, which add drama and excitement. Unfortunately, the umpires tend to make bad calls, often contradicting what you see on the field.

The gameplay itself really hasn't changed much. It's easier to position your fielders laterally, but harder to tell how far the ball was hit. New "power-up" options add a bit more strategy, allowing you to increase your batter's strength a limited number of times per game. The single player tournament mode lets you save your place between innings, which is a welcome feature. I enjoy Baseball Stars Professional 2 immensely. It's probably the most spectacular baseball game I've ever played. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.

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hard to judge fielders 1 or 2 players 

Blazing Star (MVS)
Grade: A
Publisher: Yumekobo (1998)
Posted: 2011/4/30

screenshotThe Neo Geo has always been known for its excellent shooters, and Blazing Star is a prime example why. This horizontal shooter pushes the limits of 2D technology with its huge scaling sprites and non-stop destruction. Its illustrated backdrops feature sprawling space stations, magnificent waterfalls, and even some vertigo-inducing 3D effects. The objects on the screen tend to be very large, yet you rarely feel crowded.

At its core, Blazing Star is really a simple shooter. Tapping the fire button unleashes a steady stream of missiles. Enemies tend to scale in from the background and their satisfying explosions release all sorts of bonus icons. Holding in the fire button lets you perform a charged shot, which is especially effective on the bosses. Blazing Star's futuristic techno music is rich, and so is the poorly translated text ("Get it more!"). Stages are ideal in length and the difficulty ramps nicely.

If the game has a fault, I'd say it's a little boss heavy. Once you think you've finally destroyed the massive mechanical beast, it just transforms into a new shape. These bosses unleash overlapping waves of projectiles, so thank goodness the collision detection is forgiving. You'll also be thankful for the unlimited continues. Blazing Star will bombard your senses and test your skills, leaving your hands trembling. © Copyright 2011 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: SLN 349,810
1 or 2 players 

Blue's Journey
Grade: D
Publisher: Alpha (1990)
Posted: 2005/4/7

screenshotFor a Neo Geo title, Blue's Journey is decidedly weak. It tries to be a Mario Bros. clone, but it's not even in the same ballpark thanks to its confusing gameplay and counter-intuitive controls. As a small elf-like creature in a side-scrolling, pastel world, you must fend off cartoon monsters while leaping between platforms.

Armed with a huge green leaf, you can "smack down" birds, lizards, Vikings, and potato-looking thingamajigs. These stunned creatures can then be picked up and hurled at other adversaries. In addition, it's possible to jump on creatures and "spin" them off the screen. None of it makes much sense, and I found myself hopelessly confused. Enemies close in from all sides, and rock-dropping birds only add to the aggravation.

Blue's single innovation involves pressing the C button, which allows you to shrink down into a tiny version of your character. But besides allowing you to reach certain items (tucked away in logs for example), I really couldn't find a practical use for this. Blue's Journey does feature branching paths, and you can purchase items with "flowers" you collect. As the instructions elegantly state, "The flower is your money. Hung onto it."

Sadly, bad English is the most entertaining aspect of Blue's Journey. I love a good platform game, but this one feels awkward, and I couldn't get a feel for it. The graphics are colorful and the music is bouncy, but neither are particularly appealing. A two-player simultaneous mode is available, but that's just twice as mediocre. Suffice to say, this journey is not one I will be embarking on very often. © Copyright 2005 The Video Game Critic.

1 or 2 players 

Burning Fight
Grade: B

screenshotIf you're a fan of Final Fight (SNES, 1991) or Streets of Rage (Genesis, 1991), Burning Fight is like a dream come true. During the first five seconds you walk past a street arcade, beat up a clown, and chow down on a corn dog lying right there on the sidewalk. We're talking about some quality entertainment here.

The character selection could be a bit more diverse. There's an Asian dude named Ryu, a blonde guy named Duke, and a bigger blonde guy named Billy. In terms of stages, the eye candy is positively off the charts. The bustling streets and sparkling malls will dazzle you with their color and detail. You can smash up a lot of scenery including phone booths, vending machines, and fruit stands. You can even beat up trash cans to reveal priceless jewelry.

Whenever I play a fighting game like this I wish I could enter the establishments. Well, in Burning Fight, you can! When you see the big "ENTER" prompt you can enter a bar, deli shop, or clothes store. These bonus stages let you destroy merchandise, revealing mounds of gold coins. One of these stages allowed me to fulfill my wildest fantasy - you guessed it - beating up a fax machine!

The fighting action is solid. There's a nice variety of thugs including a guy with chains, a guy who chucks dynamite, and a fat guy who tries to bum-rush you. One boss is a dead ringer for Hulk Hogan. Your rapid-fire punch combinations work like a charm, but the slow kick attacks leave something to be desired. Weapons like bottles and knives are hampered by their limited reach, but the pistol is awesome. There's nothing better than disarming a gangster and shooting him in the face with his own gun.

The poorly-translated manual is insightful. The biographies reveal Ryu has become a policeman with "powerful pliable attacks". Duke was once a member of a "violence group" and is "very brutal to mean bastards". Boss Azuza "wears a bleached cotton kimono over her plump breasts".

Even the music is very good in a Street of Rage sort of way. The game is great with two players; just try not to punch your partner. Burning Fight isn't quite up to Streets of Rage standards, but it's still fun and looks like a million bucks. If you enjoy side-scrolling brawlers, this is one to savor. © Copyright 2024 The Video Game Critic.

Recommended variation: easy
Our high score: 52,400
1 or 2 players 

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Screen shots courtesy of NeoGeo.com, Moby Games