Fantastic Adventures of Dizzy, The
Publisher: Codemasters (1993)
Our high score: 492
Publisher: Square (1990)
Save mechanism: battery
Fist of the North Star
Publisher: Taxan (1989)
Our high score: 77,000
Flintstones: The Rescue of Dino & Hoppy
Publisher: Taito (1991)
Our high score: CJS 60
Frankenstein: The Monster Returns
Publisher: Bandai (1990)
Our high score: CJS 21,600
Save mechanism: Password
Publisher: Sunsoft (1988)
Freedom Force is a light gun game that's a cut above the rest. Your mission is to shoot terrorists that have taken over an airport. Fortunately, the terrorists all wear the same colored outfits, making them pretty easy to distinguish from the civilians (when will they learn?). Freedom Force features some nifty graphics. I love how the bad guys fall out of windows when shot, and the tied-up hostages also look exceptional. The gun control is dead-on, and the difficulty ramps in a gradual manner. The stages are linear, but enemies tend to pop-up at random, so you can't just memorize the game. A two-player mode is included, but you'll need to take turns. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 12,250
1 or 2 players
Publisher: LJN (1988)
I happen to be a fan of the Friday the 13th slasher movies, and although this game is surprisingly sophisticated, it lacks the tension that made the films effective. You control six camp counselors that you move individually around Camp Crystal Lake. When you're not rushing to the aid of children in danger, you're exploring cabins to gather notes, weapons, and other helpful items. The start button brings up a helpful map that makes it easy to navigate the campgrounds. In addition to cabin-lined trails around the lake, there are also cave and forest areas that hold secret items. The gameplay is pretty original, but a few ill-conceived elements put a damper on the fun. When wandering around, you're constantly attacked by zombies popping out of the ground. Not only are these irritating, but they destroy any sense of suspense by making you numb to being attacked. I will admit however that I jumped a mile the first time a zombie jumped out of the lake
! I wasn't ready for that one. Another problem with Friday the 13th is the first-person perspective used to explore the cabin interiors. Instead of making you feel "in the game", it just makes you feel like a rat in a cage. Jason is large and menacing during his frequent appearances, and you'll need to mix dodges with attacks in order to turn him away. I like how the time of day changes as you play this game, and if you're good, a single game can extend over several days. Friday the 13th is tough, but as you learn specific strategies you'll discover hidden rooms and encounter new dangers like Jason's mother. When all the councelors are deceased, the message appears "You and your friends are dead. Game Over." I guess "Thank you for playing" would not have been appropriate in this case. © Copyright 2007 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Taxan (1990)
My friend Ken recommended this from his childhood, explaining how it was based on a cartoon series. Sure enough G.I. Joe is a winner! You begin by selecting a squad of three colorful commandos. There's Rock-N-Roll (well armed), Snake Eyes (ninja), Captain Gridiron (hand-to-hand), and Blizzard ("arctic warfare"). The opening stage impressed the heck out of me as you forge through a jungle in a storm. The wind whips the tree leaves around and lightning illuminates the entire screen. In addition to shooting sideways you can fire upward and even downward while jumping. Most stages offer typical platform fare, but some let you blast red chunks of rock to reveal secrets and alternate routes. Some characters can jump very high but take care not to hit your head on dangers lurking above. Your characters represent your three lives, but you can switch between them at any time. It's fun to scour each stage for power-ups and ammo. There's variety too, including missions that require you to plant explosive charges in marked locations. The bosses come early and often but aren't overly difficult. Hell, I was able to punch
one jet fighter right out of the sky!
Bringing the fun factor down are minor annoyances like manta rays that leap out of the water to disrupt your jumps. If you hang out in a certain area too long enemy soldiers can materialize right in front of you. And that indoor stage where every platform is a conveyer belt is ridiculous. What could they be making in a factory like that? Conveyer belts?
There's no score on the main screen but it is displayed on the character select and game over screens. G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero is one action-packed romp that never gets old. © Copyright 2016 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 305,720
Save mechanism: password
G.I. Joe: The Atlantis Factor
Publisher: Capcom (1991)
Our high score: 13,460
Save mechanism: password
Publisher: Namco (1988)
It would be hard to give Galaga anything less than an "A" considering it's practically identical to the classic arcade version. In fact, until I noticed some very
subtle differences I thought I was playing an emulated
version of the original! In case you're not familiar with this mega-popular shooter, it features bug-like aliens that circle around the screen before settling into formation. One distinctive feature of the game is the double-shot power-up, which was really the first of its kind. In order to obtain it, you must first allow one of your ships to be captured. It's a risky proposition, but rescuing that ship effectively doubles your firepower, allowing you to breeze through the "challenge" stages and earn crazy bonuses. This game is noticeably easier than the arcade version, so Galaga veterans are likely to tally some big scores. Holding down the fire button will allows for continuous shooting (and less wear on your thumb), but you'll fire twice as fast by tapping it. If you have a Nintendo Advantage joystick, this is an ideal game to use it with. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 66,570
1 or 2 players
Gargoyle's Quest II
Publisher: Capcom (1991)
This cart is fairly rare, and you might enjoy it if you're a glutton for punishment. Gargoyle's Quest II stars that pesky flying demon named Firebrand of Ghosts 'N Goblins
(NES, 1986) fame. He has the unique ability to shoot fireballs forward and hover sideways for a few seconds at a time. The appealing gothic scenery features stone towers, twisted trees, torches, and skulls. The stages are of the side-scrolling variety but the hub is an overhead RPG-style world. I found the "training" level to be a bit of a nightmare, as I struggled to grasp the flying controls. Basically you just press the jump button a second time in mid-air to hover, which also lets you perch on the sides of walls and platforms. To complete the training you need to grab a floating flask high above some ruins and it's remarkably difficult! Not only do you need to jump at the last possible moment, you need to make sure you engage your hover at the highest possible point. This challenge really sets the tone for the game because you really need to be perfect for so many jumps to avoid lava and spikes. The designers must have been the biggest pricks known to man. I did discover one helpful technique which is to jump as far as you can before engaging your hover, even if it means coming perilously close to the spikes below. You fight a lot of hooded ghouls, spiders, and wispy spirits which approach at angles you can't defend. After taking a hit you tend to get knocked back, resulting in further damage. The stages tend to repeat which is annoying. Gargoyle's Quest II offers nice renaissance music, spooky imagery, and unique controls. Unfortunately the constant aggravation keeps the fun factor grounded. Note: The original game was for the Game Boy. © Copyright 2019 The Video Game Critic.
Save mechanism: password
Publisher: Tengen (1987)
In the early 80's Gauntlet was a legendary arcade game. Not only did it offer expansive dungeons to explore, but you could join forces with three friends to battle ghosts, grunts, and demons. You get an overhead view as you collect keys, gather treasure, and clear out rooms teeming with wall-to-wall creatures. To fully exterminate them you'll need to destroy the portals that spawn the creatures. Or, if you have a bomb handy, you can obliterate them with the press of a button. The colorful title screen shows evil creatures peering around corners of a decrepit dungeon as renaissance-style music plays. Once the character selection screen appears, you may be alarmed to discover the game only supports two
players! For fans of the arcade game, this is heresy. If you play with a friend you might understand why the number of players is so limited. The characters are poorly-defined and sometimes it's even hard to locate your own character
on the screen! Slow-down is a frequent problem. You need to stick close to your partner, which is not easy when one of you is a speedy archer and the other is a slow dwarf. Ironically the game is far more playable solo. I like the fact that there are alternate paths and levels seem to be connected in different ways. The music is fine but the voice samples are comically bad. Gauntlet doesn't even attempt deliver the multiplayer experience of the arcade, but it's not a bad little dungeon crawler if you're willing to go it alone. © Copyright 2014 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 112
1 or 2 players
Publisher: Mindscape (1990)
After being disappointed with the first Gauntlet on the NES, my friends were relieved that this sequel supports up to four players and looks a lot like the arcade game. Once we began exploring the first dungeon however, we wondered aloud if Gauntlet was really as good as we remembered. Sure, it's cool to team up with friends while obliterating demons, gathering treasure, and snatching up food. The problem is, everyone wants to go off and do their own thing. Invariably somebody ends up getting stuck in some odd corner and the other guys have to work their way over to him so he can rejoin the party. You almost need to appoint one player as the leader. It doesn't help that the game has so many narrow corridors which defeat the purpose of working as a team. Many of the new features in Gauntlet II actually detract
from the experience. For one thing, the overhauled graphics look grainy and objects are actually harder to make out. Are those supposed to be sheep
latching onto me? It's bad enough that I can't kill them, but those squealing sounds are the worst
. With so many glowing areas of the floor, you wonder where it's even safe to walk. The invisible walls are obnoxious, forcing you to methodically "feel your way" around. Like the first NES game, Gauntlet II is best played alone. That way you don't need to coordinate movements, fight over food, or apologize for the poor gameplay. The dungeons are more elaborate, but some feel like puzzles, and it's possible to become hopelessly stuck. Gauntlet II is a bust, and a good example of a franchise that was moving in the wrong direction. © Copyright 2014 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 4030
1 to 4 players
Publisher: Activision (1986)
Publisher: Activision (1989)
The original Ghostbusters game landed on the NES with a resounding thud
, but this sequel feels surprisingly fresh! Ghostbusters 2 kicks strategy to the curb and focuses on shooting action. There are three unique stage varieties: running of foot, driving the Ecto-mobile, and controlling the Statue of Liberty. The running stages are classic old-school platform fare, as you rapidly fire slime at ghosts, snatch power-ups, and duck under hazards. Is it just me, or do those slimer ghosts look like green hams floating around? The driving stages have a Moon Patrol
(Atari 5200, 1983) flavor as you steer your hearse around hazards in the road while firing both forward and up!
In the Statue of Liberty stages you simply fire at objects in the sky. The game's detailed locations including a sewer, subway, park, museum, and the streets of New York. These areas are meticulously rendered in high resolution, sporting subtle details like cracks in the walls and fire escapes on the buildings. The controls are fairly intuitive, and the gameplay is challenging as hell! Even with a handful of continues I had a heck of a time just surviving stage two! My friend Chris and I pulled out the old Game Genie so we could play through the whole thing, but we found the later stages disappointing. The Statue of Liberty scenes are agonizingly long and horribly repetitive. By the time you find yourself shooting at invisible ghosts
, the whole thing starts to feel like an ordeal. The game's excellent musical score features a number of upbeat tunes in addition to the obligatory Ghostbusters theme. Ghostbusters 2 is not high concept, but its back-to-basics gameplay suits the franchise well. © Copyright 2009 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: CJS 20,300
1 or 2 players
Ghosts 'N Goblins
Publisher: Capcom (1986)
Ghosts and Gobliins is practically an institution
on the NES. It launched a popular series that continues to this day, although many would argue that the franchise peaked with Ghouls 'N Ghosts
(Genesis, 1989). You play as a comical knight who can fire projectiles forward and backward. It's a shame you can't fire upward, because many stages feature multi-tiered platforms with enemies above and below. Zombies, skeletons, crows, and demons pour out of the woodwork as you forge through graveyards, burning villages, mountains, castles, and caverns. This is side-scrolling mayhem at its purest and the action moves at a frantic pace as the soundtrack plays a heroic refrain. If you check out the background of the first stage, you'll notice a preview of what's to come with a majestic castle nestled in the mountains. Ghosts and Goblins is best known for its difficulty. Diamonds
aren't this hard! Despite its short stages and unlimited continues, you'll struggle to make progress. Part of the blame can be placed on the controls, which are rigid and unforgiving. It's very easy to get stuck in a crouch position or become caught up on the edge of a gravestone. Taking a hit knocks you back, sometimes sending you into a pit! The checkpoints could be better placed, as sometimes you'll need to restart large stretches after dying. It's tough, but Ghosts and Goblins has a distinctive arcade style and whimsical medieval/horror theme that never gets old. © Copyright 2011 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: ER 82,700
Publisher: Electro Brain (1989)
As much as I wanted
to like this game, my conscience prevents me from grading it higher than an F. Ghoul School looks great on paper but doesn't play well at all. You control a punk kid trapped in a school crawling with all sorts of creepy monsters. A few of these tend to be quite imaginative and detailed, like the red creature with the huge eye. A toe-tapping tune plays as you wander the halls and classrooms, collecting the items needed to defeat various monstrosities. Unfortunately, the school is a confusing maze consisting of hallways, stairs, and doors that all look exactly alike. The room numbers aren't even consecutive or logical! As a result, you end up wandering aimlessly until you stumble upon a key item (like spring shoes) or weapon (bat, towel, gun). The combat aspect is awful. The pathetic weapons have such an incredibly short range that you'll be limited to repetitive "hit and run" attack patterns. Adding insult to injury, the controls are less than responsive and you're constantly being tossed around. I like the concept behind Ghoul School, but the execution is a mess. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Jaleco (1989)
My friend Brent swears this is the greatest soccer game for the NES. I will admit that its realistic players are a nice change of pace from the cartoons in most NES soccer titles. Goal is played on an diagonally-scrolling field, so going "straight" requires you press diagonally, which is not exactly easy on the thumb. I also tend to blame the perspective when I accidentally pass the ball in the wrong direction. The field is expansive and the lack of a radar makes it hard to tell where you are. Fortunately if you just kick the ball ahead you'll usually find another player in the vicinity. The B button switches to your closest teammate but if you accidentally hit it twice you'll select somebody else, causing your "close" player to run away
from the ball. Still, Goal has a lot to offer with brisk pacing, clean visuals, and upbeat background music. One amazing feature is the ability to curve your shots while they are in the air. Not only does this let you "bend it like Beckham", but it's also quite useful for prevently long passes from veering out of bounds. After goals and between periods you're treated to cinematic intermissions of celebrating players and cheerleaders. Wait a minute...I'm pretty sure there are no cheerleaders in soccer! Nice try Jaleco. Goal may well be the best NES soccer game out there, but I'm not convinced the bar was very high to begin with. © Copyright 2017 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Toho (1988)
I've always been a fan of those old Japanese monster movies, but Godzilla for the NES is just plain bad
. The graphics are decent (despite some serious flicker), with characters pulled straight from the films, including Mothra (your weak ally), Gigan, Mech-Godzilla, and that big squid-looking thing. The gameplay involves taking turns moving Godzilla and Mothra around a hex-map (huh?) while attempting to wipe out all the enemies on the board. When you move to an empty space, you're forced to play a side-scrolling "city" level with everybody and their mother bombarding your slow ass with missiles. Your best bet is to just keep moving, because the missiles don't inflict much damage - they just slow you down. Get used to this ordeal, because you'll have to endure this painful stage every turn! That's right - even when you land on a monster's location, you must relive the same painful experience before the actual confrontation ensues. The battles themselves are a joke, consisting of both monsters floating in black space and smacking each other until somebody runs out of life. Even the music is dull and repetitive. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Nintendo (1984)
It would be easy to be critical of this relic of a golf game. You can only aim in 45 degree increments. All trees are out of bounds. The screen doesn't indicate the range of your club, or even the ball's proximity to the hole. But despite having to perform the distance calculations in your head, Golf is actually pretty fun! The swing meter is not unlike those found in modern golf games, and you can at least partially compensate for the coarse aiming controls by applying a draw or fade to your shot. Putting is tricky however, because the greens tend to be very
fast. The overhead view of the hole is terrific, and the course is challenging and interesting in design. The game moves along at a brisk pace, allowing you to play 18 holes in just a few minutes. Not bad, all things considered. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 117
1 or 2 players
Publisher: Konami (1987)
Save mechanism: Password
Gotcha! The Sport
Publisher: LJN (1987)
Recommended variation: Intermediate
Our high score: 31,580
Publisher: Konami (1986)
This influential side-scrolling shooter takes you through caves with hopping robots, mobile cannons, and incoming ships that weave in hard-to-avoid patterns. The first time you play Gradius you'll be lucky to last two minutes. Success hinges on your ability to collect pods and redeem them for power-ups and weapons. You will risk life and limb
to grab these things! The pods seem elusive at first. You must destroy a complete set of four orbs to earn a pod, and that last orb will flee the screen like a bat out of hell! Your rate of fire is slow, but that can be rectified with a rapid-fire controller like the Nintendo Advantage. Once I unleashed that thing my scores went through the roof!
Loading up on lasers, missiles, and options makes you feel unstoppable, making it all the more heart-wrenching when you take a cheap hit and lose it all. One thing that's kind of lame about Gradius is the boss, which is always the same hunk of metal with that flimsy vent protecting its core. This game was designed before every boss had to be epic in scale. Gradius has a few cheap elements including a volcanic section that overwhelms you with with spewing rock just before you reach the first boss. Likewise near the end of the second stage cubes materialize from thin air and converge on you. I found myself exclaiming "you gotta be [expletive] kidding me!
" all the time
while playing Gradius. It's hard to put down though and over time its catchy musical score will fuse with your very soul. © Copyright 2016 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 178,100
Publisher: SNK (1989)
SNK's knack for creating fast-action shooters is on full display in the amazing Guerilla War. I've always been a fan of Rambo-style games like Ikari Warriors, but this one-man-army game really ups the ante with tight controls, lush graphics, and pacing best described as "frantic". You are a soldier forging his way through well-fortified beaches, villages, rivers, and sewers. Like Rambo, you gun down legions of enemy troops, toss grenades to clear out barriers, and commandeer tanks. Guerilla War plays almost exactly like Ikari Warriors and Rambo, but it's about ten times faster
. Some of my friends thought it was too
hectic, but not me. The action never lets up despite a crazy amount of sustained screen activity. There's no shortage of firepower, as even the default gun lets you spray bullets liberally. Other weaponry includes machine guns, rocket launchers, and devastating flamethrowers. Side effects of the ample mayhem include occasional flicker and "break-up" in the graphics. It's a small price to pay however, as Guerilla War delivers one of the most exciting shooting experiences you'll find on the NES. The only thing preventing you from blasting everything to oblivion are the tied-up hostages that frequently appear. Picking them up will net you a cool 1000 points, but accidentally shooting them deducts 500 points from your score. Some enemies are a bit cheap, leaping into the fray as if they were on pogo sticks! If you grab a friend you can double the mayhem and compete for high score (which is not displayed until after the game). Guerilla War's musical score isn't great, but its chaotic layered melodies are still impressive. You may have a tough time going back to Ikari Warriors after playing this buck-wild blast-a-thon. © Copyright 2007 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 124,900
1 or 2 players
Publisher: Tonkin House (1990)
Many readers have recommended Gun-Nac over the years but when I looked it up on eBay it was over $600! Instead of mortgaging my house I opted for a reproduction. I'm glad because this vertical shooter is good but not $600 good. Gun-Nac is a parody of sorts where you take aim at rabbits, hamburgers, acorns, trophies, cigarette lighters, and many other random objects. Technically the game is impressive. There's an exceptional number of fast-moving objects on the screen at any given time with no significant flicker or degradation. The stage backdrops are less imaginative, offering endless tracts of craters and long stretches of space. What makes the game interesting is its rapid-fire arsenal. Five weapons types can be powered-up several levels, and power-up icons appear early and often. Once I acquired the homing weapon however I found myself avoiding the others like the plague. It was so potent I thought I might finish this game on my first try!
There are also bomb icons which you can stockpile by the dozen. These tend to be quite imaginative, taking the form of acid rain or bullets darting around the screen. Normally you'd save them for the bosses but these bosses are pushovers. On top of everything you get "smart-bomb" icons that denotate on contact and obliterate everything on the screen. This game is just too much. The constant upgrades render the "store" between stages totally irrelevant. Gun-Nac is a well programmed shooter with an irreverent style but I'm afraid it far overshoots that "sweet spot" you want in a good shooter. © Copyright 2019 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 2,192,590
Publisher: Capcom (1988)
Our high score: CJS 34,900
Publisher: Nintendo (1985)
Our high score: SLN 68,000
1 or 2 players
Publisher: Ultra (1988)
Ultra took a few liberties with this "semi-classic" space shooter, incorporating oversized sprites, boss stages, and even a special weapon. In this case, it would seem that more is less. Gyruss is played by moving a ship around in a circle as aliens scale in from the edge of the screen before settling into the center. Like Galaga, there are "double-shot" power-ups and "chance" bonus stages. Two control schemes are available, and they both work pretty good. The lively musical score includes a piece by Sebastian Bach, and no, I'm not talking about the guy from Skid Row. Gyruss was challenging and addictive in the arcade, but this watered-down version can't even hold its jockstrap. This NES edition is so excessively easy that it's a bore
. You get five lives, and there's only one lame difficulty level. Unless you absolutely suck, you'll lose interest in the game far before you go through those five lives! The swirling aliens are huge compared to the original game, but that just makes them easier to shoot (it's hard to miss
really). In addition, they are totally harmless
as they make their initial entrance. Every few stages you'll encounter an unimaginative boss, usually taking the form of four connected pods (oh brother
!). You also have a limited number of "super shots", but who even needs them? Ultra was clearly trying to "beef up" Gyruss for the NES, but they inadvertently butchered it instead. © Copyright 2007 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 160,900
Haunted Halloween '85
Publisher: Retrotainment (2016)
For a Halloween fanatic like myself Haunted Halloween '85 is a dream come true. This well-crafted platformer embodies the Halloween spirit like few other games. You play a kid trying to save the fictional town of Possum Hollow by punching out phlegm-gurgling zombies, dive-bombing crows, and jumping jack-o-lanterns. For an NES title the sheer artistry of this game is amazing. The backgrounds employ striking colors and vivid silhouettes to dramatic effect. Scenes of a deserted playground or grain silo against the waning sunset are truly haunting yet beautiful at the same time. Fun minor details bear out the 1985 timeframe, including an "NES Club" poster in the school and a Suncoast Video-style "VHS store" in the mall - complete with purple neon lights. Haunted Halloween's gameplay is a satisfying mix of punching and platform jumping. It's satisfying how zombies crumble to dust after you beat them down, but those diving crows are a pain. Why doesn't my uppercut work on them? Some of the super-narrow platforms would be ridiculously hard to traverse if not for the excellent controls. Instead of a life bar, taking hits gradually transforms you into a zombie, adding a layer of tension. Seek out candy corn to reconstitute your health. The minor-key "chip-tune" music is eerie but a little shrill for my tastes. The first-rate packaging offers a glossy box, colorful manual, and "zombie green" cartridge. Overall I am thrilled with this. Classic gamers have a new reason to celebrate Halloween this year - like it's 1985! © Copyright 2018 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 139
Haunted Halloween '86: The Curse of Possum Hollow
Publisher: Retrotainment (2017)
Our high score: 87
Save mechanism: password
Publisher: Data East (1990)
Our high score: 32,200
1 or 2 players
Publisher: Parker Bros. (1989)
Snowboarding was a relatively new sport in 1989, and at that time Parker Bros. didn't have a very good grasp of the whole extreme sports
scene. Heavy Shreddin' could have just as easily been a skiing title. The game's idea of doing a "stunt" involves stopping in the middle of a slope to do a handstand! Wow, that looks really stupid! Most of the game involves racing against the clock while weaving around trees and rocks. You view your boarder from a side angle, but the scrolling abruptly changes switches between diagonal and horizontal. The effect is so jarring it almost always
causes you to crash. The controls are so poorly designed that my friends would routinely ask "Why did my guy just do
that?!" Adding insult to injury, the collision detection is so unforgiving that merely brushing against a tree causes your boarder to fall, forcing you to restart the entire stage! Just completing the opening stage requires a flawless run - at full speed no less!
The half-pipe stage is a complete sham - a shameful place where terrible graphics collide with incomprehensive controls. Heavy Shreddin' has a few quirky tunes and some bright winter scenery, but these are wasted in a game that most will deem to be worthless. © Copyright 2009 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 4,106
1 or 2 players
Publisher: Nintendo (1984)
While simplistic, this light gun game does add a few wrinkles to the standard "Duck Hunt" formula. The first variation places you in a shooting gallery with cardboard figures that appear three at a time. You'll want to shoot the dirty crooks but hold your fire against the woman, professor, and policeman. In general it's pretty dull affair. The second variation places the figures in side-scrolling urban scenery, which spices things up a bit. But the third stage really steals the show. In this one you repeatedly shoot tins cans that appear on the right side, keeping them in the air long enough to have them land on ledges on the left. Each ledge has a different point value, so it's a nice combination of skill and strategy. Hogan's Alley isn't bad for a light gun game, but it certainly won't have you hooting and hollering and keeping the neighbors up all night. © Copyright 2007 The Video Game Critic.
Recommended variation: 2
Our high score: 40,000
Publisher: THQ (1991)
The first time you play Home Alone on the NES, you'll probably think it's a piece of junk. There's just not that much to it. You control little Kevin McCallister on the run from two roving bandits in an expansive three-story house (not counting the basement). The house is nicely detailed and decorated for Christmas. Kevin's mannerisms are faithful to the character in the movie, especially the way he scuttles up the stairs. You can even exit through windows to climb down rainspouts or escape to your tree house. Like the movie, the object is to keep two bandits at bay by planting household items as traps. To win the game you'll need to avoid these guys for 20 minutes (until police arrive). I could only last for a few minutes but still enjoyed playing for high score. As you scamper around the house you'll pick up well-defined "trap" boxes labeled with icons that symbolize spiders, Christmas bulbs, toy cars, tacks, and other hazards. The instruction manual implies there's some strategy involved in planting traps, but that wasn't my experience. You can lay them anywhere around the house, and when bad guys run into them they'll pass out for a few seconds. You'll want to keep one (or two) traps on hand for when the crooks are hot on your tail. And that happens a lot because these guys run about twice as fast as you do! The controls seem reasonable until you need to navigate stairs, which can be a nightmare. It seems like most of my "deaths" were the result of getting stuck on the edge of those God-forsaken stairs. The pause (and game over) screens show a nice map of the house, indicating where you caught the bad guys. Like the film, Home Alone provides some light family fun. It's a little shallow but I enjoyed the simple premise and holiday theme. © Copyright 2013 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 31,390
Home Alone 2: Lost in New York
Publisher: THQ (1992)
This poorly-constructed sequel tries to be more sophisticated than the first game. Once again you play the rambunctious little Kevin McCallister, this time on the loose in New York City. You'll raise havoc in the fancy Plaza hotel, Central Park, a townhouse under construction, and finally Rockefeller Center. The opening cut-scene looks pretty bad, and Tim Curry's concierge character looks more like Lando Calrissian. Kevin is pursued by bell hops, maids, store merchants, and jumping old ladies with umbrellas. As if they weren't annoying enough, the programmers incorporated suitcases, mops, and vacuums that move around on their own accord as if they were possessed by demons. The Plaza Hotel looks attractive enough with its elegant chandeliers, marble floors, and posh furniture. Unfortunately the remaining stages didn't get nearly as much attention and look pretty shoddy. In addition to jumping, Kevin can perform a knee slide "attack". He'll collect plenty of items like cookies and necklaces but it's often unclear how these are supposed to be used. And you won't get far unless you take some mandatory hits to obtain the toy gun at the start of each stage. Home Alone 2 is a really sloppy game. You need to ride elevators in the hotel stage, but it's not clear how to call for them. Worse yet, the elevator "chimes" blend in with the awful, repetitive music. The platform action in later levels is marred by collision detection issues. And even if you stock up on weapons, they may have no effect on the end-of-stage bosses. There's not even a score. Much like the movie, Home Alone 2 on the NES feels like a rushed, by-the-numbers money-grab. © Copyright 2013 The Video Game Critic.