Obviously these guys were more brawn than brains. To reach the evil Dragon Ninja headquarters they would take the most circuitous route, forging through sewers, caves, and forests. Not to mention performing hand-to-hand combat on moving trains and big rigs along the way.
Bad Dudes makes you feel as if you've been inserted into an urban warzone overrun by ninjas. From the ground you can vault like an Olympic gymnast onto trucks and fences, allowing you to fight on two fronts. The manual lists an array of adversaries including blue ninja, white ninja, dwarf ninja, red ninja, flaming ninja, lady ninja, coconut shrimp, pineapple shrimp - oh sorry that's something else.
You dispense of these goons with punches and kicks, but it's a shame your jump kick is so hard to execute. Occasionally a special item like a soda is left behind that you can pick up. At the end of each stage a boss emerges along with his own ominous soundtrack. You really need to play cat-and-mouse with the first one or else he'll fry you with his fire breath.
In stage two you're fighting on a speeding 18-wheeler, and the graphical detail is excellent from those spinning wheels to that bright city skyline. Ninjas can run faster than a speeding truck, but fortunately you can punch their throwing stars right out of the air. If you manage to acquire the nunchucks weapon the fun kicks into overdrive.
Unfortunately this NES edition of Bad Dudes lacks the polish of the arcade. The animation and collision detection are sketchy. The breakup is onerous, and the two-player mode is alternating only. The colors look washed out and the voice synthesis ("I'm bad!") is comically so. Still, you have to respect how a game like Bad Dudes carries its old-school cliches like a badge of honor. © Copyright 2022 The Video Game Critic.
The fictional players (with names like Roger and Kelly) look like kids on the pitcher/batter screen, but appear short and squat when the whole field is displayed. Close-minded gamers might be uncomfortable with the fact that the umpires are bunny rabbits, but I'm perfectly fine with it. The pitches come across the plate very fast (110 MPH!) so you need to be ready to swing early!
The stadium is deep in the gaps and your fielders are slow, so getting a good "jump" on fly balls is critical. When the ball sails out of the stadium you're greeted by a sea of smiling faces. Don't hesitate to perform substitutions later in the game, because the players definitely suffer from fatigue.
Although its basic gameplay is unremarkable, Bad News Baseball spices up the action with brief "zoom-ins" of close plays. And after a homerun, the hitter will high-five all of his teammates. Hey, what the hell is Mr. T doing at the end of that line!? Comical animations include players that slam their bats in disgust, or pass out on the field upon being thrown out.
The background music is very well composed for the most part, but that irritating whistling part costs the game any chance of an A grade. What really stands out about Bad News Baseball is its excellent playability. The controls are so natural that I never had to consult the manual, and there's just the right number of foul balls. Heck, you can play an entire game in about 15 minutes. It's not the most realistic baseball title for the NES, but Bad News Baseball is hard to beat in terms of pure entertainment value. © Copyright 2008 The Video Game Critic.
This innovative game is presented from a first-person perspective, which was extremely novel for the time. Objects convincingly scale into view as a green checkerboard field slides beneath you. And all on a split-screen! Ballblazer pushed the limits of home computer technology, so discovering this NES version came as a shock!
When I first fired up this import on my Retron 5, I was greeted with a title screen depicting two pods chasing a ball on a little field. This gave me the impressive this version is played from a third-person perspective. That would have been pretty awesome, but no - it's just a tease.
The game plays well from first-person. The graphics are chunkier and the animation isn't as smooth, but it gets the point across. You fight to snag the orb and shoot it through two moving goal posts along the edge. When your opponent controls the orb you can try to jostle it loose.
Due to NES hardware limitations some compromises had to be made. The screen is slightly cropped and the frame rate, while not objectionable, is less smooth than on the computer. The playing field seems smaller and it's easier to get stuck in a corner with your opponent repeatedly knocking into you.
All things considered, Ballblazer is highly playable and packs all the options including nine skill levels. My friend Sudz lamented the fact they didn't release this in the States. Why would they hold back a complete game? Well, I did find myself becoming a little queasy playing this for an extended period. Still, my friends are fascinated by this little pink cartridge, which looks like some long lost relic of video game history. © Copyright 2023 The Video Game Critic.
Each round begins with a bunch of mini Count Choculas pumping up balloons and taking to the sky. You pop their balloons by colliding with them when you're higher. This causes them to deploy a parachute, and if you can hit them again before they land you'll score big points. Taking down enemies is extremely satisfying, and I think the snappy popping sound effects have a lot to do with that. When both of your balloons are popped you fall and lose a life.
Balloon Fight's gameplay is more forgiving than Joust, but if you dawdle storm clouds unleash "lightning sparks" that meander around the screen. Balloon Fight is easy to play and the instant your game ends you'll want to play again. My main reservation is how advanced stages contain annoying vertical platforms and pesky "spinners". A two-player simultaneous mode and a side-scrolling "balloon trip" mode are also included. Easy to grasp but difficult to master, Balloon Fight is one of those rare games with universal appeal. © Copyright 2015 The Video Game Critic.
Once the folksy banjo music kicks in you know this is vintage Nintendo. This game picks up from where Duck Hunt left off... five years later! It's just a new set of lame target-shooting mini-games. Trick Shooting requires no light-gun calibration but keep in mind the gun only works on an old-fashioned CRT television (crank up the brightness for best results). The instructions recommend sitting six feet away but you'll probably settle in much closer.
The game doesn't play well at all. The games are short and sweet but the controls are suspect. Not only is the accuracy sorely lacking, but I often managed to hit things I wasn't even aiming at! There are three basic game variations. In Balloon Saloon you shoot rising balloons and in Flying Saucers you shoot plates tossed into the air. Occasionally a bird will swoop in to grab a plate, and it's actually easier to hit the bird!
"Window Pains" has bottles and hammers falling through open windows, and it's the easiest of the bunch. "Fun Follies" lets you play all three along with a few bonus rounds. Even when I pulled my chair within two feet of the TV I could not complete this mode, and boy oh boy does that constant click-clacking of the Zapper trigger get old. I didn't fare very well with Barker Bill's Trick Shooting, but maybe you'll have better luck with your old tube TV. One would hope. © Copyright 2019 The Video Game Critic.
With total control of the ball in mid-air, you can make it do all sorts of crazy stuff. The fielding aspect is less impressive; it sucks, really. The screen seems to lag behind when balls are hit, and by the time your fielder comes into view it's usually too late. I tried to dive for the ball once, but alas - I had treads! I'll say one thing for these fielders: they have cannons for arms! No seriously, their arms are literally cannons.
But the game's real highlight occurs during tag situations, during which the game is transformed into a one-on-one fighter. The characters are large but their attack controls are rudimentary at best. Cornering the other guy and bashing him in the head repeatedly is usually the best strategy. Of course, when playing against the cheap CPU you'll be lucky to get in one punch! Another annoying aspect of Base Wars is how every other hit is a freakin' homerun - enough already! Still, I enjoy the brisk pace of the game and its over-the-top action. Base Wars certainly is unique and should appeal to most arcade-minded sports fans. © Copyright 2005 The Video Game Critic.
Baseball is played over two screens. The default "close view" is limited to the pitcher, batter, and infield. This allows for relatively large players while giving the batter a decent view of the incoming pitches. The pitcher can affect the pitch in flight and the swing controls feel crisp. It is irritating however to have the pitcher repeatedly "shake off" the pitch you're trying to throw.
Fielding is where Baseball falls flat on its face. It's easy to toss the ball around the bases, but the fielders move terribly slow and there's no way to dive. It's frustrating when a slow grounder rolls just out of reach, trickling into the outfield. Players automatically move into position to snare pop-ups, but it looks funny to see the pitcher fight the second-baseman over a fly ball! What is this, The Naked Gun?
Baseball truly goes off the rails when the ball exits the infield, triggering an awkward transition to a view of the entire stadium. While it looks quite nice the fielders move like snails! I wish I were exaggerating. If not for the equally-slow baserunners, every hit would be an inside-the-park homer.
Don't expect the CPU to provide much of a challenge. The last time I played him I was up 10-0 in the second inning. Playing against a friend is a little more interesting. Baseball is a pick-up-and-play type of game, but with so many other choices, will you even want to? © Copyright 2023 The Video Game Critic.
Baseball Simulator's pacing is brisk, allowing you to toss one pitch after the next with minimal pauses. The fielding is a bit weak, with fly balls that take forever to come back down, and a second baseman that insists on covering first base. It sounds pretty average, until you discover Simulator's ace in the hole: The Ultra League. This is a special set of teams that allow you to employ outrageous power-ups that turn the game on its head. When pitching, ten special pitches include a stopper ball (stops in mid-air), a phantom ball (disappears over the plate), and the ninja ball that breaks into multiple balls.
As the batter, special swings include the meteor hit (knocks out the fielder), hyper hit (twice the power), and bomb hit (explodes on impact). There are even special moves for the fielders, including one that lets them leap high in the air. Not only do these power-ups add humor and variety, but since they're limited, they add a strategic element as well. In "normal mode", Baseball Simulator's music is absolutely unbearable with constant ear-splitting whistles, but thankfully it's much better in the ultra league mode. And that's really the only mode you'll need. © Copyright 2007 The Video Game Critic.
The animation is fun to watch, and I like how pitchers wind up and fielders reach for fly balls. Outfielders will even climb fences to snatch would-be homeruns, occasionally falling into the first row of seats! Check out the batter when he's hit by a pitch - it looks like he's been shot! Also amusing is how after a fielder catches the ball he holds it up for all to see. The controls are highly responsive and intuitive. The action moves along at a breakneck pace, with nine innings running roughly 20 minutes. Umpires call fair and foul balls, and the crowd looks like a sea of Asian men (with a few gray heads sprinkled about).
Baseball Stars is entertaining as hell, but it's not perfect. Fly balls are very hard to judge because you can't tell where your outfielder is positioned until the ball reaches his vicinity. Runners cannot return to a previous base once they've reached a new one - a real problem during pop-ups. Finally, I hope you like the theme song that plays throughout the game, because you can't turn it off! In fairness, it does become slightly more intense when a runner reaches scoring position. In addition to the "versus" mode, you can play as your own customized team in a slick calendar-based league mode. With its easy-to-play style and fast pacing, this ranks as one of the better baseball games for the NES. Hint: To make strong throws, hit the button at the same time as the directional pad. © Copyright 2009 The Video Game Critic.
Like the first Baseball Stars, the game is instantly fun and it's unlikely you'll need to consult the instructions for anything. Unfortunately, Baseball Stars 2 retains a few problems from the first game, including fly balls that are hard to track down. Controlling your runners on the base paths is exceptionally problematic during high fly balls, since you can't turn back once you reach the next base! Many of the customization options have been removed from the league mode, but you now have the ability to trade players with other teams.
The audio effects are lighthearted and fun, like the pitch that sings like a bird and umpires that sound like owls. Pleasant background music plays throughout the game, but it does get tiresome after a few games. Funny how there's an option to turn the errors off, yet no option to turn the music off! I also find it amusing how Romstar advertises its other NES titles (like Cowboy Kid) on the scoreboard between innings. Baseball Star 2 isn't terribly realistic, but if you're just looking to have a good time, this is the way to go. © Copyright 2009 The Video Game Critic.
Innovative for its time, Bases Loaded helped popularize the realistic "behind the pitcher" camera angle, and its fast-paced gameplay has held up well over the years. You can pitch and swing with precision, but fielding is tricky because there's no diving and the fielders move like snails. The game is loaded with memorable moments, and its quirks actually make it more endearing. When pitching a ball way outside, it's hilarious to see the catcher's disembodied mitt float away from the catcher's body.
Upon striking out, batters walk back to the dugout dejected with the bat on their shoulders. Pitchers can't seem to resist intercepting balls thrown from third base to first. Relief pitchers drive themselves to the mound, leaving me to wonder who is returning that little cart? And just look how wide that mound is! But the ultimate highlight of Bases Loaded is how you can initiate a brawl by hitting a batter in the face! That feature should be standard in all baseball games.
Bases Loaded's background music plays non-stop, which would be irritating if it wasn't so freakin' good! Fielders sound like they're squealing as they throw the ball, but the clear synthesized umpire voices sound great. Bases Loaded lacks a major league license, which may explain why my favorite player is "Paste" from the New Jersey team. With so many overly-complex baseball games on the market today, it sure feels good to get "back to the basics" with a classic like this. © Copyright 2008 The Video Game Critic.
Instead of the classic "from the plate" fielding perspective, you get an awkward "down the baseline" angle that's as disorienting as it is ugly. Adding insult to injury are blob-like fielders that move in a choppy, unsightly manner, rendering the new dive moves worthless. Bases Loaded 2 is just sloppy in general, with lousy control exacerbated by rough outfield scrolling.
But the game's worst atrocity is its unbearable looping theme song that just won't go away. If someone were to blow a whistle into your ear for the duration of the game, it would be an improvement. Second Season is so awful that you start to wonder if Jaleco's first Bases Loaded game was an accident! © Copyright 2007 The Video Game Critic.
But the biggest change is the new fielding perspective. Instead of viewing the diamond from behind home plate (as in most baseball games), the camera is situated behind second base, slowly pulling backwards for fly balls. There's a good reason why no other baseball game in the past, present, or future has or will ever adopt a system like this, and that's because it absolutely sucks. For one thing, it's disconcerting to view the diamond upside-down. When you walk a batter, it looks like he's heading to third base (what are these - Japanese rules?!)
And even if you finally get the hang of the odd viewing angle, you can never position your oversized fielders properly because they don't even appear on the screen until the last possible moment! The players are nicely animated and pretty huge by NES standards, but they're a lost cause. Be sure to turn the music "off" before starting a game, because the soundtrack has all the charm of a kazoo player. Once again Jaleco has dropped the ball with another half-assed sequel. © Copyright 2007 The Video Game Critic.
Batman himself is small but responsive. He can punch rapidly, fire projectiles, and wall-jump his way up tall structures. Holding in the jump button results in longer leaps, but sometimes you need to let off a little (like when there's an electric barrier overhead). The control scheme could be better. Pressing the select button pauses the game and also displays your lives and score. I would prefer those to be displayed at all times. Pressing the start button lets you select weapons including a gun, batarang, three-way shot, or at bare minimum your fists. If you find yourself in a tight spot with the wrong weapon, this interface is flat-out clumsy.
The stage designs are fair but you're not rewarded for taking chances by venturing off the main path. Later levels are less-imaginative girder and pipe labyrinths. Certain levels have roving bombs you can't destroy, and the electrified walls are a pain in the ass. In some cases you have to fall off a platform, grasp it from the side, and vault off of it. I'm pretty sure that's physically impossible to perform in real life. Likewise you can fall the "wrong way" when hit. Still, the controls are responsive and you get a little further with each play. Batman has its quirks but they probably won't prevent you from playing it over and over again. © Copyright 2015 The Video Game Critic.
Instead of punching and kicking, Batman uses his "wrist projector" to fire various types of projectiles. The crossbow arrow default weapon is pretty effective, and power-ups can upgrade you to multi-shot "darts" and guided Batarangs. After collecting several "capsules", Batman turns gold and becomes temporarily invincible, unleashing a torrent of Batarangs all over the place. The exhilarating shooting action gives the game a Metroid or Turrican flavor, and there's even a jet-pack stage that plays like a space shooter.
Return of the Joker never lives up to its potential however due to cheap hits, unfair stage designs (hidden dangers), and lousy collision detection (overlapping with enemies). You can overcome these issues in the early stage, but by stage three the situation comes to a head. This snowy stage is easy on the eyes with its snowy landscape and starry night sky, but the difficulty is nearly impossible as missiles rain from the sky and bad guys knock you off of icy ledges.
The intense shooting action that was such a hoot in the first two levels takes a back seat to simply trying not to fall off of the screen. The game offers continues but no score. I find it amusing how the pause screen displays "PAUSE!" like it's something to get excited about. Return of the Joker could have been a nice twist on the standard Batman formula, but these stages are so evil they may as well have been designed by the Joker himself. © Copyright 2011 The Video Game Critic.
There's a nice variety of circus goons to beat the crap out of, and your punches send them flying off the screen (sometimes in the wrong direction!). Enemies come in several varieties including acrobats, flame-blowers, motorcycle riders, and clowns on stilts. You can punch, guard, and slide-kick, but the jump-kick is probably your best all-around move. Pressing both buttons unleashes a very effective spin attack at the cost of a sliver of health. The fighting action gets a little monotonous as enemies attack in predictable patterns and sometimes linger where you can't quite reach them.
When the game tries to get creative, the results are mixed. In one perilous stage you're forced to hop between floating blocks in an electrified pool while clowns shoot at you from the sides. I hate it when that happens! In another stage you're fighting on slanted rooftops and slipping off the entire time! I did like the part with the bomb-dropping toy helicopters in the department store, which you'll need to knock down with your grappling hook.
Driving stages provide some high-speed thrills, and it looks funny when thugs try to hang onto your car. Bosses include the Catwoman and Penguin, and to defeat them you'll need to stock up on special weapons like Batarangs, Batdiscs, and test tubes. Batman Returns has a somewhat understated holiday theme that includes some snowy scenery, gift boxes, and a lighted Christmas tree in one scene. The background music consists of catchy tunes that immediately transport you back to the 8-bit era.
The difficulty is a problem. You begin with only a fraction of your life bar and hearts are hard to come by. Passwords and continues are available, but they start you back a lot further than you would expect. Batman Returns is a sharp-looking game with a holiday flair, but it's arguably more enjoyable when played with a cheat code. © Copyright 2010 The Video Game Critic.
The first stage ends with an innovative boss battle played from the boss' perspective. In the second stage you'll rappel down into a pit while dealing with toad-eating plants and rope-snapping crows. Each stage of the game offers a variety of interesting and unique challenges, like throwing snowballs at snowmen, surfing log-jammed rivers, and racing against rats. Your ultimate foe is the "dark queen", and I have to tell you - she is one hot chick!
Battletoad's fighting action is extra satisfying thanks to its crisp controls and exaggerated attacks, often punctuated with oversized fists and feet. The quirky animations are comical, and you'll even see Space Invader icons towing power-ups. Sadly, most gamers won't appreciate all that Battletoads has to offer, because the game is too [expletive] hard - even with continues! Battletoads supports two-player simultaneous action, but that doesn't make things any easier. If not for my trusty Game Genie, I don't think I would have been able to review this game.
Except for the excessive difficulty, there's not much to dislike, except maybe that annoying drumbeat that plays when the game is paused. Battletoads will suck you in with its quality gameplay, only to demoralize you with its relentless difficulty. Even if you like your games hard as nails, Battletoads will beat you into submission and teach you the meaning of pain. Punk! © Copyright 2007 The Video Game Critic.
Battletoads/Double Dragon might be considered the unofficial sequel to Battletoads (NES, 1989). Our green trio is back with their exaggerated punch and kick finishing blows. This time however you can also select from Billy and Jimmy of Double Dragon, each equipped with their own set of zany moves.
The action begins on the surface of a flying spaceship, where you battle robots and floating TV monitors. Robots sometimes hang off the side where you can kick them off. As the action transitions into the interior of the ship, the scenery isn't spectacular but the fact that each area plays very differently keeps things interesting.
I love the goofy animations. When a boss shows up, the toads' eyes practically pop out of their heads. Tall robots break through doorways as they enter. When defeated, you can pick up to use their long legs as weapons. The bosses are memorable and the speed bike stages aren't anywhere near as frustrating as they were in the original Battletoads.
The attack animations are fun to watch but they are also tend to be repetitive and time-consuming. The attacks may vary between areas and often depend on your surroundings. For the most part you're just lining up with the bad guy and pounding the attack button until he's knocked off the screen or pounded into the ground.
Aside from some minor flicker and breakup, Battletoads/Double Dragon is just as effective as its 16-bit incarnations. The graphics and audio have a degree of polish you rarely see outside of a Rare title. The game has personality to burn but its repetitive nature probably means you won't want to play it twice in a row. © Copyright 2022 The Video Game Critic.
The boxy cartridge looks different than your garden-variety NES game. It's shiny gold in color with a mysterious switch on the back. A sticker basically states "if setting A doesn't work, try B". Apparently this was necessary because the game was unlicensed by Nintendo. I don't know why that was the case, because Bee 52 is as innovative and wholesome as they come.
For each stage your goal is to travel across the yard, gather nectar from flowers, and transport it back to your hive. Along the way you'll contend with spiders, fluttering butterflies, inching caterpillars, and honey-stealing ants.
It would be too simplistic to describe Bee 52 as a side-scrolling shooter; it's much more than that. You move your fuzzy, chubby bee at your own methodical pace, meandering around flower stems while carefully moving into position. I love how your bee squeezes into a flower with its butt wiggling about.
Momentum plays a big role so you need to take your time. It's easy to bounce off things, propelling you into danger. Sprinkler devices are super annoying; a single drop of water can knock you clear across the screen. And never fly along the top edge of the screen, as it makes you vulnerable to spiders that tend to drop in unexpectedly.
If you find yourself caught on a spider-web strand, don't fret. You can use your stinger to kill the spider hanging below you. I can't express just how gratifying it feels to use that stinger! Shooting is fun too. Special flying bugs dispense power-ups that let you fire rapidly or shoot three ways.
The games offers two paths to take - the front or back yard. Each stage is alive with activity, and they vary with regard to layout and time of day. Bee 52 is challenging to play for score and there's a nice high score screen. I am smitten with this game. I can't recall anything else quite like it. © Copyright 2023 The Video Game Critic.
Beetlejuice does have a few interesting wrinkles like the ability to stomp on small scurrying bugs. Those points that appear are actually monetary values used to purchase "scares" from the shop. Nobody will ever accuse this game of making sense! "Scares" are masks like medusa or skull heads. Each imbues you with a short-lived power (like throwing a bone) required to overcome a particular part of the game.
Figuring out how to use scares is largely an exercise in trial and error. Beetlejuice is riddled with technical flaws. There's a delay before the screen scrolls, as if the game's struggling to keep up with the action. If the floor scrolls slightly out of view, you can suddenly fall through the bottom of the screen! When pouncing on large bugs, you can't tell if you're hurting them or they're hurting you!
The one graphic highlight is the title screen rendering of the main character's face, as portrayed by Michael Keaton. The off-kilter music restarts when you die, irritating my friend Scott to no end. A continue option lets you resume exactly where you left off except when you reach the boss. If you die there you'll have to restart from the beginning, and that's demoralizing. Beetlejuice tried hard to capture the spirit of the film, but the gameplay could have used a lot more attention. © Copyright 2014 The Video Game Critic.
Upon collecting them all, you progress to the next stage which is not necessary harder - only longer! Does this thing ever end? Where's the flood button?! In Baby Moses you play a woman carrying a baby through a Super Mario-style obstacle course chock full of birds, spiders, and spear-tossing Roman guards. The animation is choppy and the scenery flickers something terrible. Worse yet, that poor kid ends up getting tossed around like a freakin' rag doll! I think a call to Child Protective Services is in order!
I was hoping David and Goliath would be a one-on-one fighter along the lines of Mortal Kombat, but alas - it's just another tedious exercise in animal collecting. This time it's sheep (joy!). Where's a good fatality when you need it? All three games have marginal entertainment value, and since the game doesn't keep score, there doesn't seem to be much of a point to it. Bible Adventures clearly had good intentions, but you know what they say about those! NOTE: The Video Game Critic was struck by lightning shortly after posting this review and is recovering in a local hospital. He is reconsidering the grade. © Copyright 2010 The Video Game Critic.
Big Nose wields a club and rotates fluidly during his spinning jumps. He also has a supply of rocks he can sometimes hurl three at a time. Enemies vaguely resemble animals like octopus, bees, snails, and armadillos. Moderately fun for a while, the game falls apart upon closer scrutiny. You're tempted to pounce on things but that will get you killed. Likewise you'll naturally want to jump between ramps. But instead of giving you more oomph on take-off, hitting jump causes you to slow down and fall.
Hopping on magic mushrooms results in various effects, some of which are really unpleasant. One causes your controls to be reversed and another causes the screen to black out sporadically. The game feels buggy, partly because certain doors and mushrooms are completely invisible. And how is it you can hop on cloud outlines? The bonus screen is called the "Bone-Us" screen, prompting some serious eye-rolling on my part. I can see why Big Nose is freaking out; he's living in a virtual hell. © Copyright 2015 The Video Game Critic.
You're also equipped with all the obligatory weapons including machine guns, bazookas, and rocket launchers. Although primarily a side-scrolling affair, there are also some terrific overhead stages that play similar to Mercs or Front Line. By accessing scattered enemy computers you obtain clues and can even spy on your enemies. Bionic Commando is loaded with unique stages, and you can choose the order in which they are played. No question about it - Bionic Commando was way ahead of its time. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.
You view your bait in the water from overhead, and reel it towards the bottom of the screen. Depending on your cast location, visible scenery might include marsh weeds or a beach. Attracting fish largely depends on choosing the right style and color of bait, which largely amounts to good old-fashioned luck. Once a fish appears, it gravitates towards the bait and automatically "hooks" when it bites. These fish look fairly hideous with their freakishly large heads. Who would have known that a black bass is really green? You can also catch trout and pike, but they don't count in the competition.
Fighting a fish involves swinging the rod from side to side while periodically reeling in or "thumbing" the line. This can be a long and tedious process if the fish is far away, which he usually is. If the fish becomes aggressive you'll want to let out the line a bit to tire him out. Occasionally a fish will leap clear out of the water, accompanied by a completely inappropriate "boiiiing!" sound effect.
Once you finally net a fish, it's exciting to watch the scale tally its weight. The game keeps track of your catches as you advance the ranks, and a password feature lets you save your process. If you've played any modern fishing games, Black Bass can be hard to stomach. There's almost nothing to see and you can't shut off the horrible background music (not to be confused with the fine title screen tune). The years have not been kind to this game, but its sequel "The Blue Marlin" has fared much better. © Copyright 2007 The Video Game Critic.
The large players look surprisingly realistic and it's easy to determine which player you control because he flashes brightly. Passing and shooting are responsive and intuitive, and finding an open man in front of the net is key to scoring. Unlike Nintendo's Ice Hockey, your selected defensive player changes automatically, which is very convenient. Battling for the puck often leads to fist fights presented with a special close-up view. These battles let you pummel your opponent by mashing buttons, and the loser is left on his rump as the winner speeds away with the puck. Penalty shots also occur, and these are also impressively depicted with dramatic close-ups.
Blades of Steel's gameplay is fast and intense, but like real hockey, scoring can be like pulling teeth. Digitized sound effects include grunts and referee voices, but I could do without that annoying whistling that accompanies the crowd noise. The limited play-by-play is mainly limited to "makes the pass!" every time you pass the puck. In the tournament mode, I was shocked to see ads for other Konami games ("All your friends will want it!"). There's even a shooter mini-game. Blades of Steel has it all. Not only is it one of the best titles for the NES, but it's one of the best hockey games of all time. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.
You begin by jumping generic platforms in a wooded area, but later blast your way through underground caverns. Upon falling into some water, I assumed I lost my life, but then realized that underwater areas are part of the game! When you encounter a small door, that's your cue to get out of the tank to explore on foot. Your character looks like a dork with that big white helmet over his huge melon head. Instead of platform jumping, the on-foot stages feature overhead exploration and shooting. Both modes have their own health meters and distinct firepower levels, making Blaster Master feel like two games in one.
The graphics aren't bad at all, especially the second stage with its nice medieval castle scenery. Some of the lizard and crab-like bosses look pretty intimidating as well. But despite the positives, Blaster Master never completely won me over. The stage layouts are maze-like and confusing, and you're expected to do a good bit of backtracking. Certain enemies can't be shot because they crawl too close to the ground, and slowdown often rears its ugly head. There's no score, but you do get unlimited continues, so you can pretty much play Blaster Master until you're sick of it. It's not one of my favorites, but Blaster Master deserves some credit for innovation and depth. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.
The undulating water looks terrific, as do the surrounding docks, foliage, and villages (although that guy running back and forth on that one building looks awfully suspicious). You can easily determine where to go by the visible schools of fish appearing at random around the lake. If you're lucky, you might even spot a seagull or a marlin leaping out of the water - both very good signs.
Dragging your bait through a school of fish usually pops up a window stating: "Hey Dave, I feel a bite on your rod". Yes, that's an actual quote from the game - you can't make up stuff like that. When a fish is on your line, you see an animated fisherman strapped into the back of a boat, and a white flume in the distant water indicating a struggling fish. The bottom of the screen displays vital statistics, along with a nicely rendered reel that makes it easy to see how fast you're reeling in (or letting out).
The game uses the same basic techniques involved in real deep-sea fishing (I know because I've done it). You need to alternate between pulling up on the rod and reeling in, while occasionally thumbing the line to recoup your "vitality" when you begin to tire. The fights are pretty intense, and can sometimes last for ten or fifteen minutes. Occasionally you'll be faced with a "dilemma" in the form of a multiple-choice question, and these are fun and exciting. As an example, if your line begins to overheat, you can A) douse it with water, B) free the drag, or C) do nothing. Selecting the wrong answer could result in a snapped line.
Once you finally pull a fish aboard, it's always a treat to see what kind you caught. There are several varieties including marlin, swordfish, sailfish, sharks, tuna, dorado, and barracuda. Once you've had enough, you can return to shore for weigh-in, at which time you're presented with a password. The Blue Marlin is an addictive game that bears more than a passing resemblance to King Salmon (Genesis, 1993). If you're looking for some spirited fishing action on the NES, seek out The Blue Marlin. © Copyright 2007 The Video Game Critic.
If you've played Castlevania (Konami, 1987) and/or Super Mario Bros. (Nintendo, 1995) you'll feel right at home with the controls. You collect coins, throw axes, bump boxes for power-ups, and perform ground pounds to break into underground areas. The fact that you can leap a country mile makes the crumbling ledges a lot easier to traverse. Enemies are defeated with a blue splash for some odd reason, and you can even punch ghosts!
The stage designs are so forgiving that touching water or landing on a bed of spikes is rarely fatal. There are hidden areas off the beaten path you can explore to discover extra goodies. Dracula's castle is a maze of floating platforms, lava pits, and fire-breathing statues. It's a shame you can't enter any of those big shadowy doorways.
Hitting pause lets you view your score and catch a breather. That's not a bad idea because the pacing of this game is so brisk it feels like a speedrun for Pete's sake. The musical score is your typical NES cacophony but with some ominous undertones. It's not particularly scary but this version of Bram Stoker's Dracula is probably the most enjoyable, and certainly the most playable. © Copyright 2018 The Video Game Critic.
The graphics are high in resolution, but the characters are so tiny that it's hard to discern their animations. Apparently the best way to neutralize enemies is by dropping boxes on their heads, but since there's no jumping, getting cornered means certain death (unless you have a power-up).
Crazy Castle is mildly amusing for a while, but it's too easy and you'll get bored as you rack up endless bonus lives. The controls are stiff, the stages are redundant, and the muffled music sounds like it was recorded in a mineshaft. Crazy Castle is one of those uninspired titles you play once and never again. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.
Stage three has you navigating narrow dirt roads in the countryside, and next you'll find yourself in a desert canyon. I like the crisp arcade graphics but the music isn't so hot. Bump N Jump is missing that sense of unbridled speed. I was wondering if I was supposed to be shifting gears or something as my jittery car putt-putted down the road with other vehicles whizzing by. I subconsciously find myself pushing up constantly and it makes my thumb hurt. Button B is the "emergency brake". Really?
I found it hard to knock cars into the rails and some won't budge at all. Be sure to take out the garbage truck whenever it appears. It's worth 500 points and you don't want to have to worry about the mounds of trash it drops. There's plenty of traffic and I find myself jumping like a flea just to stay above the fray.
An exclamation point appears when a gap or wall is coming, so you'll want to be quick on the trigger. Of course you don't want to be in the air when that indicator appears or it'll throw off your timing. At the end of each stage you're greeted by a hottie waving a flag, but she's about the size of a bus. Bump N Jump for the NES is kind of weak. There's some fun to be had but stiff controls and a lack of speed keep the excitement to a minimum. © Copyright 2021 The Video Game Critic.
One button initiates rapid-fire while the other detonates smart bombs (when available). Pinpoint aiming controls allow you to hold your fire in any direction (including diagonally) while moving independently. This ability to strafe makes it easy to knock out rows of armaments or zero in on a boss' weak point. Floating icons let you switch between missile, rocket, and laser weapons. And get this - the game retains the power level for each type, so switching to a laser doesn't diminish the firepower of your previous weapon. Collecting red pods provides you with a supply of smart bombs.
The stages aren't particularly interesting but I really appreciate how scraping the walls is not fatal. There are even secret areas to uncover, which is something you never see in a side-scrolling shooter. The overhead stages are less fun, as you lose the ability to strafe and it's not always clear where to go. Burai Fighter accepts easy-to-enter passwords like BALL or DOLL. The colorful manual provides nice illustrations of the bosses as well as some of the alien varieties. Taxan really covered all its bases with Burai Fighter, so dust off your favorite joystick and give it a whirl. © Copyright 2018 The Video Game Critic.
Burgertime isn't the most realistic video game I've ever played. In order to refresh your pepper supply, you'll need to collect items like an ice cream cone and teacup. Was a pepper shaker too hard to render? I also find it curious how you're pursued by eggs and hot dogs. Considering they get trapped in the sandwich, pickles and onions would seem far more appropriate. Also, the hot dogs look like they're wearing glasses, and that's just crazy.
Burgertime is addictive but insanely difficult. Once your pepper is gone, you're quickly overwhelmed by nefarious food items. To my knowledge, no one has ever cleared the second screen. The game is available for a number of consoles, but this one looks particularly good. The crisp graphics and toe-tapping soundtrack are terrific, but the controls certainly could be more forgiving.
You need to perfectly line up your chef with the platforms to walk across them, and it's easy to get hung up just as evil processed meat products are converging. It's also annoying how enemies tend to respawn near the edge of the screen without warning. Still, Burgertime is timeless fun, and its deceptively simple gameplay will give even the most seasoned gamers fits. © Copyright 2007 The Video Game Critic.