Publisher: Nintendo (1984)
Many Nintendo fans consider Ice Climber a legitimate classic, but I don't see it. This is a very generic platformer, and its gameplay is middle-of-the-road at best. You control one of two small hammer-wielding Eskimos attempting to scale a series of breakable floating platforms. Some platforms extend all the way across the screen, so you'll need to punch holes in them by banging them from below. Red and white birds attempt to thwart your efforts, but these are slow and easy to knock down with your hammer. Boy, it sure is frustrating when they fill in the holes I've worked so hard to make! Ice Climber's screen scrolls vertically as you make your way up, and reaching the top initiates a short bonus stage. Ice Climber's bright graphics are cute and arcade-like, but the droning background noise is monotonous. Even more annoying are the unforgiving controls. Jumping straight up is no problem, but jumping sideways enough to catch the next ledge is hard unless you have some momentum. Maybe that's just how the controls were designed, but that doesn't mean I have to like them. Ice Climber does offer two-player simultaneous play, but I didn't find it to be any better than the single player mode. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 13,980
1 or 2 players
Publisher: Nintendo (1988)
It's not in the same league as Blades of Steel, but Nintendo's Ice Hockey offers its own brand of entertaining gameplay. It's a kinder, gentler hockey game with simple graphics and small, cartoonish players. Before each game, you can customize each of your player's physiques to be skinny, fat, or medium. The skinnier guys are faster but less powerful, so you'll want to build a team that best reflects your playing style. The bright, attractive ice rink scrolls from side to side. Passing and shooting the puck is fairly easy, but it's hard to tell what players you control on the defense, since he only flashes faintly. Controlling your goalie is surprisingly easy, even in the midst of the frantic action. Ice Hockey's gameplay is wide-open and fast-paced, and the computer opponent is tough. The game is also famous for its catchy background music and zambonis that polish the ice during intermissions. It may take a back seat to Blades of Steel, but Ice Hockey is still a winner. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: SNK (1986)
This addictive vertical shooter plays much like Rambo (Sega Master System) and Front Line (Colecovision). One or two buff soldiers forge their way through enemy-infested jungle environments while laying down fire, tossing grenades, and commandeering vehicles. Your bullets are large and somewhat slow, but the responsive controls allow you to spray them with extreme prejudice. The grenades make it possible to destroy bunkers and vehicles, but the real mayhem occurs when you hop into a tank or helicopter and recklessly unleash missiles. In terms of difficulty, Ikari Warriors is no cakewalk, and I'd advise you to keep moving forward. Enhancing the action are lush jungle scenery and a superb musical score that's sure to bring back memories for many long-time gamers. The only poor aspect of the game lies in its embarrassing "death" animations, which are hands-down the worst
ever seen in a video game! When shot, the pudgy enemy soldiers appear to float away
while shaking their extremities as if they're dancing! My friend Scott best described them as "Pillsbury dough boys on crack". Besides that aberration, Ikari Warriors is a fine shooter that spawned two sequels. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 8,100
1 or 2 players
Ikari Warriors II: Victory Road
Publisher: SNK (1988)
Ikari Warriors III: The Rescue
Publisher: SNK (1990)
This third and final chapter of the Ikari Warrior saga provides yet another dramatic turn. This time our heroes are back on earth, but they are completely unarmed and forced to perform hand-to-hand combat
. At first it seems to work pretty well, using one button to punch, one to kick, and both to execute a jump kick. One thing that stinks however is the fact that you can't
attack diagonally. Punches seem much more effective than kicks, and the action is repetitive. The soldiers in the later stages differ from the earlier ones only in that they require more punches to defeat. Occasionally several enemies will leap out in unison in what appears to be a choreographed dance number! Cheesy! I was hoping my soldier would acquire a permanent weapons somewhere along the line, but it never happened. The graphics are noticeably cleaner than previous Ikari games, with more lifelike characters that appear less pudgy. The awesome first stage looks spectacular with its green jungle scenery and sparkling blue water, but after that you have to forge through endless warehouse stages! What's the deal with that? Ikari 3's soundtrack is also lackluster. Unlimited continues are provided, perhaps in response to the overwhelming difficulty of the previous games. I think it's safe to say that Ikari Warriors 3 is my least favorite chapter of the trilogy. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.
Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom
Publisher: LucasArts (1988)
Our high score: 33,750
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (Taito version)
Publisher: Taito (1990)
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (Ubisoft version)
Publisher: Ubisoft (1993)
When I showed this to my friend Chris, his incredulous reaction was, "Wait a second - is this a GameBoy
game?!" Yes, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade is an atrocity of outrageous proportions. Not only are the graphics horribly grainy, but the first stage is rendered in about two colors!
Okay, maybe three
- if you count black! This is definitely the most hideous
game I've seen on the NES. Indy looks even goofier than he did in Temple of Doom, if that's at all possible. The film provides for plenty of interesting stage ideas, but this shoddy game even makes jumping the cars on a circus train
seem dull! The first stage, entitled "Exploring the caves", is about as unimaginative as you can get, with all the obligatory cheap hits including falling stalactites. It's hard to grab onto ropes, and fights with bad guys amount to trading punches until somebody falls over. The controls are so stiff that I might as well be controlling C3PO
. Last Crusade is one truly pathetic piece of trash, and for a 1993 game (by LucasArts no less), it has absolutely no excuse. © Copyright 2008 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 7,900
Publisher: Vap (1990)
Our high score: 472,100
Publisher: Konami (1988)
Our high score: 23,700
1 or 2 players
Jackie Chan's Action Kung Fu
Publisher: Hudson Soft (1990)
Publisher: LJN (1987)
Our high score: 50,100
Publisher: Data East (1991)
Our high score: 189,390
1 or 2 players
Jordan vs. Bird: One on One
Publisher: Milton Bradley (1989)
A product of its time, this mildly-amusing one-on-one basketball game always brings a smile to my face. The game pits the high-flying phenom Michael Jordan against living legend Larry Bird. Larry is a deadly outside shooter while Jordan is known for his dazzling moves around the rim. It's an odd mix as both players embody such different styles of play. The characters are large and well-defined for the NES. On offense one button shoots while the other lets you spin and move laterally. On defense one button steals (which is rare) and the other blocks shots. The game is played on a half-court, making it necessary to "clear the ball" between possessions. It's easy to play as Larry Bird since he barely needs to move, sinking a three-pointer from anywhere on the court. To defend his shots you'll want to jump in his face to occasionally steal the ball at the height of his jump. Jordan is capable of more exciting moves and if you can finagle him close to the basket he'll unleash a 360-degree slam dunk. It's hard to play defense and fouls like charging and blocking seem totally random. Periods end with no warning, even if the ball is still in the air. Additional modes include slam dunk and three-pointing shooting contests. Jordan vs. Bird is amusing to pull out on occasion, but it's more a novelty item than a basketball game. © Copyright 2016 The Video Game Critic.
Journey to Silius
Publisher: Sunsoft (1990)
Journey to Silius isn't particularly bad
in any way, but there's nothing special about it either. It's your standard side-scrolling shooter set in a futuristic world of spaceships and robots. You control a kid out to avenge his father's death. The shooting action is pretty mediocre, only slightly improved by the fact you can collect and switch between weapons. The scenery is clean but sterile and uninteresting. The single highlight of the game lies in the first stage, where you can see cannons firing in the distance before their shots rain down in the foreground. If only the rest of the game was so innovative. The futuristic music is well done, but after repeated plays Silius feels more like an ordeal than a journey. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Ocean (1993)
Kabuki Quantum Fighter
Publisher: Hal (1991)
Our high score: 38730
Publisher: Data East (1986)
With all due respect to this early pioneer of one-on-one fighting games, Karate Champ hasn't aged well. The game features two fighters and a scorekeeper presiding over the action. The graphics are plain, but it's the animation that really kills this game. The fighter movements are extremely choppy, and the jumps are ridiculous. The control is terrible in general with hard-to-execute moves and fighters that tend to get stuck facing the wrong direction. Karate Champ may have been intriguing in 1986, but for those of us who cut our teeth on Street Fighter II, there's no turning back. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: LJN (1987)
Our high score: 56,400
1 or 2 players
Publisher: Data East (1987)
This likeable platform-shooter stars a musclebound bald Russian who resembles a henchman from an Indiana Jones film. My friend Chris fondly remembers this game from his childhood because his "fat friend" had it (everybody had a fat friend growing up). What makes Karnov unique is its exotic scenery and baroque soundtrack. The aged buildings and ancient statues look colorful and nicely detailed. As you forge through towns, mountains, and caves you're confronted with genies, winged demons, knights, and fireball-spewing stone heads. Fortunately you can fire projectiles rapidly and even upgrade to triple shots. Collecting icons award you with ladders, bombs, masks, boots, and wings. It's not clear how you're actually supposed to use a few of these things. It's easy to use ladders and bombs, but how in the [expletive] do I use the mask? The platform action is tricky and you'll need to be light on your feet. Certain enemies seem impossible to avoid, like the two birds that converge on you at the same time. Two hits will kill you but at least the checkpoints are generous. In fact you'll sometimes resume at a point further than where you died! The bosses aren't too bad and you get unlimited continues. Karnov feels a little sloppy at times, but its distinctive style helps it stand out from the crowd. © Copyright 2016 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: SDZ 6270
Publisher: Nintendo (1986)
Save mechanism: Password
Kings of the Beach
Publisher: Ultra (1988)
I've played a lot of volleyball games in my time, and Kings of the Beach is the best
classic volleyball game! Its graphics are terrific, with scenic backdrops and well-defined players. Okay, one guy looks like he's wearing a diaper, but work with me here. A brilliant control scheme lets you spike, block, and even dive for the ball. One problem that plagues many volleyball games is the ability to get your player into proper position to hit the ball. Kings of the Beach addresses this issue by stopping
your player once he's moved into the correct spot, and that makes all the difference in the world. There's even a training mode to help you learn the moves. Volleyball is all about teamwork, and this game makes it easy to cooperate. Grab a multi-tap to form teams, or join forces with a friend to challenge a CPU-controlled team! Kings of the Beach is easy to play, but mastering it is another story, and the CPU opponents are no joke. So if you're in the mood to run around in the sand and spike a ball into somebody's face, Kings of the Beach is your game. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Nintendo (1993)
Kirby's Adventure is a kinder, gentler platformer with floaty jumps and adorable, puffy enemies. It's so good-natured I feel like a total bastard
bad-mouthing it! A pink ghost with a big appetite, Kirby has become a Nintendo icon. He can inhale certain enemies and spit them out as projectiles. Sometimes he'll copy the ability of the creature he consumes, allowing him to swing a sword, breathe fire, or sprout spikes. The control scheme is overloaded and confusing. Buttons assume multiple functions which can produce unexpected results. Each of the seven vast levels offers multiple doorways leading to a highly diverse set of areas. On top of that you're constantly being whisked off to some random bonus stage or boss battle. The bosses tend to follow a familiar formula - use whatever objects they throw at you to turn the tables. The first few stages feel awfully generic but they improve as you go. There are plenty of surprises including a fun "claw machine" bonus stage. The game itself is not very difficult. Much like Bruce Willis, Kirby doesn't die easily and free lives abound. Kirby's Adventure was clearly designed for the youngsters in mind and sure enough they can't seem to get enough of him. It's a little sugary sweet for my taste but I can't deny there is some Nintendo magic at work here. © Copyright 2020 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 138,920
Publisher: Nintendo (1985)
Kung Fu may have set the world on fire in 1985, but those days are well done. Controlling a black belt warrior (who appears to be wearing high heels), you must dispatch an endless parade of enemies in a Japanese temple. You're limited to the standard punch, kick, and jump-kick moves. In the first stage, most foes are idiots easily dispatched with simple high kicks. The occasional weapon-trained ninja will require some strategy to defeat, but not much. The second stage incorporates a traps and tiny dragons, and the cheap hits come early and often. Kung Fu is not particularly fun to play. Its clean graphics and surprisingly good sound effects (including some voice clips) make it bearable, but its gameplay is dated and silly. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.
Recommended variation: A
Our high score: SLN 28,180
1 or 2 players
Lee Trevino's Fighting Golf
Publisher: SNK (1988)
I was intrigued by Fighting Golf because it's common knowledge that Lee Trevino is a master of the martial arts. His perfectly-honed body is an instrument of death, allowing him to dispose of a gang of thugs with a single flying round-house kick. Oh wait - I'm thinking about Jean Claude Van Damme
. Lee Trevino is a chubby Mexican golfer. My bad!
This game probably has the most misleading title
in the history of video games. Would you believe there's no fighting
in Fighting Golf? This is just a run-of-the-mill golf title. Besides Lee Trevino, you're limited to characters with names like Pretty Amy, Big Jumbo, Super Max, and Miracle Chosuke. The user interface lets you toggle between several views, but the controls are so non-intuitive, it's almost comical
. Even with only two buttons
to worry about, it took me forever
to figure out how to hit the freakin' ball! Once you get over the steep learning curve, the game really isn't that bad. I played against my friend George, and we had a pretty competitive round. If you're in the mood to deliver a roundhouse to the chops of Jack Nicklaus, you'll be disappointed, but if you're just looking for some fun on the links, Lee Trevino's Fighting Golf will do the trick. © Copyright 2013 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Taito (1986)
Our high score: 40000
1 or 2 players
Publisher: Capcom (1988)
Lengendary Wings is a curious shooter with average gameplay. Your winged character looks like a transvestite with his red shorts and pink boots (c'mon!). The gameplay offers a mix of horizontal and vertical stages, and in addition to shooting you can drop bombs (a la Xevious). Legendary Wing's graphics are generic and I didn't find the creatures to be particularly exciting. Some require multiple shots to destroy, but there's no way of knowing how much damage you've inflicted until they blow up. Power-ups are key to this game, and you won't get far without them. Unfortunately, they're few and far between, and if you don't snag the first one you may as well hit the reset button. A two-player simultaneous mode is included, but its slowdown is aggravating. Legendary Wings isn't all bad, but shooting fans can do better. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 44,500
1 or 2 players
Publisher: Ocean (1992)
Publisher: Konami (1988)
Our high score: 28550
Publisher: Mega Cat Studios (2017)
Save mechanism: battery
1 or 2 players
Lolo, Adventures of
Publisher: Hai (1988)
This charming little game challenges you to solve increasingly complex puzzles in a series of castle rooms. You control Lolo, a loveable blue ball with two big eyes. Each screen-sized stage requires quick reflexes and thoughtful strategy as you slide blocks, avoid monsters, and use power-ups to open the single chest in each room. You can the view the layout of each room before each stage, and you'll want to use this opportunity to formulate your strategy. To solve most puzzles, you'll need to perform a series of moves in a specific order, and if you mess up, you might not be able to correct your mistake! At that point you're forced to hit "Select" to forfeit play and restart the stage. Upon depleting your lives, a password is provided, and you can immediately continue where you left off. It's easy to get caught up in Lolo's addictive gameplay. Some of the puzzles of quite ingenious, and the graphics aren't bad either. The controls are crisp and responsive, and the heroic musical score is also very good. Lolo's innovative gameplay earned it legions of loyal fans and prompted two sequels. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Taxan (1990)
Our high score: 156,600
Save mechanism: password