T&C Surf Designs
Publisher: LJN (1987)
What the heck is
T&C Surf Designs, a line of summer clothing? Whatever it is, I've talked to several people who have fond childhood memories of this cartridge, which offers both skateboarding and surfing action. This is an ideal game to play on a hot summer day. Skateboarding is easily the highlight, as you cruise down a boardwalk while jumping over obstacles and collecting coins. It seems like every time you play you advance a little bit further. Surfing, on the other hand, isn't as enjoyable due to its hard-to-grasp controls. Just remaining upright on your board for more that a few seconds is a major feat. Fortunately the two games can be played separately, allowing you to forgo the surfing if you can't get the hang of it. T&C features appealing, bright beach graphics, and the background music is a lot of fun to listen to. There's a two-player mode, but it's alternating only. On the whole, T&C Surf Designs is not great, but gets by on its sunny graphics and addicting skateboarding action. © Copyright 2005 The Video Game Critic.
Recommended variation: Skate
Our high score: 9150
T&C Surf Designs II: Thrilla's Surfari
Publisher: LJN (1992)
Thrilla's Surfari stars a funky ape who can skateboard through the jungle and surf river rapids. This game is just plain fun. It offers a variety of side-scrolling challenges in some pretty amazing jungle environments. The controls feel good as you speed through dense foliage while vaulting off ramps and turtle shells. There are plenty of pits and logs in your path, so when in doubt, keep jumping!
It seems like every living creature
is out to get you, from charging boars to water-shooting elephants to spear-tossing natives. Giraffes will stick out their necks just to trip you up! The animation is fast and you can earn style points for flipping in mid air. The raised side viewing angle takes a while to get used to. It's a little tricky to line up with ramps, and catching an edge results in a painful wipeout, forcing you to restart the course. Sometimes this will cause Thrilla's entire body
to explode! Thrilla's Surfari is easier once you realize you can regulate your speed. The surfing stages provide a nice change of pace, and plunging down the waterfalls is exhilarating! Boss encounters feature a rhino, scorpion, and great white shark. There are no continues but you earn plenty of free lives via the "guess which coconut" bonus stages. I got into a groove playing Thrilla's Surfari. It's easy to imagine a bored kid in the 80's memorizing every inch of every stage. If you play it enough, you will too. So what are you waiting for? © Copyright 2019 The Video Game Critic.
Taboo The Sixth Sense
Publisher: Rare (1988)
Advertised as an "electronic fortune teller", Taboo is more like a fortune cookie generator
. After prompting for your name, sex, and birth date, Taboo lets you ask it a question. My first question was easy: How old am I? If the program had any intelligence at all, it would have determined my age from my birth date, but Taboo couldn't even figure that
out! Taboo responds to any question by playing mystical music while displaying psychedelic graphics, and then displaying a series of cards one by one. The cards reveal very general (and often confusing) "revelations" such as "Your near term goal or destiny is or is influenced by great determination", "Your present situation/attitude is criticism or quarrel", and "Others view you as search for solitude knowledge or self denial." It didn't take long for me to realize that this cartridge is a pointless waste of time. You'd think the developer (Rare) might have snuck something clever in there like "You enjoy playing Nintendo", or "You will witness a murder tonight!" But no, it's always very vague and uninteresting. Once all the cards are read, you're presented with a series of "lucky numbers". What's especially annoying is how you need to re-enter all of your personal information before every question. Maybe little girls at a slumber party could have some fun with Taboo, but I doubt it. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Capcom (1991)
Talespin's bright title screen and toe-tapping music instantly put me into a good mood. I'd gladly sing along if I knew the words! Unlike other versions of the game, this is a leisurely-paced side-scrolling shooter. Baloo the bear pilots a little biplane over a quaint town before descending down a towering waterfall. Next he heads over shimmering blue waters to battle submarines that sprout propellers before taking to the sky. To call the action slow would be an understatement. This is the opposite
of rapid-fire; you only shoot a single bubble-like projectile at a time. Fortunately it only takes a shot or two to knock out most foes. If you miss an incoming enemy however you have very little
time to get out of the way. You can fire diagonally but with absolutely no precision whatsoever. There were times when I found myself wanting to turn around and go back to collect an item I missed. Guess what - you can!
Just press button A and you'll fly upside-down
in the other direction, causing the scrolling to reverse in the process! Just be careful not to get caught up on the scenery, because getting pushed off the screen will cost you a life. Despite its deliberate pace Talespin had me hooked. The bosses are reasonable in difficulty and you can upgrade your plane in a number of ways - including firepower. The stages are short but unique, taking you through a baseball stadium and even in the clouds of a raging thunderstorm. Bonus stages let you "surf" clouds for big points. Your total is only displayed on the pause screen, so you may want to take a peek on occasion. Talespin is different from what I expected but its happy-go-lucky spirit won me over. © Copyright 2019 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 18,500
Publisher: Taito (1989)
The original Renegade game wasn't great, but at least it had a unique control scheme. Target Renegade on the other hand has absolutely no
redeeming qualities. It's like Double Dragon minus the fun! As you guide a pudgy muscleman through repetitive scenery, you face the same group of thugs (who all dress the same) over and over again. The non-stop punch/kick gameplay is mind-numbing, and the ability to jump-kick cyclists off of their bikes provides little relief. The generic backdrops are awful, and serious breakup occurs in the character graphics. The bosses are large, but after they promptly whip your ass you don't even get a lousy continue for your troubles. And where's the two-player mode? Playing Target Renegade is pure agony. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 1,730
Publisher: Tecmo (1988)
Despite some flaws, Tecmo Baseball is a pretty good sports game. An intuitive pitcher/batter screen makes it easy to track incoming pitches, and it's always fun to watch the catcher's mitt magically "float" away from his body when a pitch is far outside. When a ball is put into play, a high overhead view is displayed with small, squat players and an enormous outfield. The fielders move way too slowly, but the throwing controls are good. There's no infield fly rule, and you can take advantage of this to pull off some really cheap double plays. After a homerun, the scoreboard shows the hitter rounding the bases, and he looks really queer waving his arms up and down (not that there's anything wrong with that). Between innings the scoreboard displays bizarre messages like "Go ahead!" and "Fight!" The players are completely fictional, the stadium is generic, and the crowd looks like a huge pair of plaid pants. A catchy theme song plays throughout the entire game, and I kind of enjoyed it. Tecmo Baseball has its quirks, but nice controls and brisk pacing makes it playable enough. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Tecmo (1988)
Save mechanism: password
1 to 2 players
Tecmo NBA Basketball
Publisher: Tecmo (1992)
Save mechanism: battery
1 or 2 players
Publisher: Tecmo (1991)
Three long years after the original game was released for the NES, Tecmo damn near perfected their pigskin masterpiece with this phenomenal sequel. Fully endorsed by the NFL, Super Bowl delivers all the excitement of the original game plus all the NFL teams and players, a larger play selection, an improved kicking system, spectacular cut scenes, player statistics, injuries, timeouts, and last but not least, a battery backed-up season mode! What more can you ask for? The players are slightly smaller, but this allows more room on the field for sophisticated plays to unfold, including double reverses and flea flickers! You also can see a little further downfield. Like the first Tecmo Bowl, the field is viewed from the side, but it looks sharper and more realistic. Cheerleaders line the top of the screen and the first few rows of fans are visible. Interspersed with the on-field action are dramatic cut scenes that highlight diving catches, punts, sacks, and touchdown celebrations. During field goals, you get an awesome view of the ball sailing through the uprights. Field goal kicking uses an accuracy meter instead of a power meter, which is far more challenging and satisfying. Receivers automatically leap for high passes, and many passes are tipped (which unfortunately you can't catch). As usual, there's some provocative cheerleader graphics shown during half-time. Why modern football games haven't adopted this cheerleader "feature" is beyond me! Packed with features and infinitely playable, Tecmo Super Bowl is without a doubt the ultimate football game for the NES. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Publisher: Ultra (1986)
Based on the wildly popular cartoon series, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT) is entertaining but unpolished. A slick opening sequence introduces our four zany heroes, armed with their respective weapons. You only control one turtle at a time on your quest to rescue hottie journalist April from arch-villain Shredder. By roaming around an overhead map (and avoiding its steamrollers) you enter doors and manholes that lead to side-scrolling stages. These stages offer generic jumping and punching action, but some of the bad guys are surprisingly intimidating, especially the mechanical spiders and scary thugs with chainsaws. Pizzas replenish your health, and occasionally you'll find special weapons like throwing stars and boomerangs. The turtles control very well but are prone to cheap hits when walking near the edge of the screen. Once a turtle depletes his health, you choose another to take his place. The game doesn't end until you use all four, and three continues are available. The graphics are mediocre at best. The turtles themselves look okay but some enemies can be hard to discern, and the fighting action is somewhat sloppy and plagued by heavy flicker. Swimming and driving stages effectively break up the monotony, although swimming through narrow caves of electrified seaweed is very
difficult. TMNT's audio includes some catchy musical numbers that are bound to bring back memories for long-time NES gamers. It's rough around the edges, but I think this oldie is still worth checking out. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 23,200
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: The Arcade Game
Publisher: Konami (1990)
I think its subtitle is quite appropriate, because Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2 (TMNT2) has a distinct arcade flavor the first game lacked. Too bad the gameplay is so repetitive and boring! The unimaginative storyline pits our green heroes against Shredder, who has once again
taken hottie reporter April captive. The game's visuals feature fluidly-animated characters, but instead of being limited to a 2D plane, they can move between the foreground and background like a Double Dragon game. The stages look clean but unspectacular, ranging from city streets, to sewers, to a snowy central park. In the street stage, you can look into a store window at see Shredder and April on the TV news, which I thought was pretty clever. TMNT2 is one of the first console games I can recall that features blatant advertisements - in this case for Pizza Hut. Despite its polished look, TMNT2's gameplay is positively mind-numbing. Enemy ninjas make dramatic appearances by breaking down doors and jumping out of manholes. These guys are always pulling out new weapons like stars, dynamite, and even snowballs. In addition to your normal attack you have a jump-kick, but it doesn't work well and you tend to leap right over your target. Other problems include excessive flicker, poor collision detection, and bosses that require upwards of 30 hits to defeat. It's especially annoying the way hazards like huge bowling balls pass harmlessly through the bad guys. A two-player mode is included, but the flicker and slow-down make it nearly unplayable. Even the music is weak. TMNT 2 might look like fun on the surface, but playing it proves otherwise. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3: The Manhattan Project
Publisher: Konami (1992)
Would you believe that bastard Shredder has kidnapped April again
?! Will someone please
keep an eye on that woman?! I swear this [expletive] is more trouble than she's worth! And oh yeah, I forgot to mention that Shredder has also unearthed the entire island of Manhattan and flown off with that too. So begins the third exciting chapter in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle saga, which trumps its predecessors in every way. Not only does it look sensational, but it's also a rip-roaring good time. TMNT3's vibrant, sharp graphics are among the best I've seen on the NES. The flicker and slowdown is minimal in the one-player mode, although the two-player mode is still a mess. The improved graphic quality is particularly evident in the scenic backgrounds, which include a beach, a massive submarine, and the Brooklyn Bridge. Most importantly, TMNT3's gameplay is far more appealing and satisfying than previous chapters, thanks to additional moves that spice up the action. Not only can you impale and throw those dirty ninjas at will, but you can even toss them into other enemies. The jump kick has been improved so you can even kick bad guys in fairly close proximity. The standard attacks are more effective as well, sending thugs flying all over the place. The bosses look sharp and are far more reasonable to defeat than the last game. TMNT3: The Manhattan Project is a real treat. Konami made all the right moves with this one. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 99,300
1 or 2 players
Terminator 2: Judgement Day
Publisher: LJN (1991)
Our high score: 8040
Publisher: Mindscape (1992)
Our high score: CJS 40,100
Publisher: Nintendo (1989)
As the "chess" of the video game world, Tetris is timeless fun that never gets old. The idea is to stack falling blocks to form full rows, causing them to disappear. Making multiple rows disappear requires skill and strategy, but it will net you some big points. Tetris is addictive and after a while it becomes downright mesmerizing
. There are actually two Tetris games available for the NES - the other one made by Tengen. Nintendo's Tetris offers two variations and nine skill levels. The A variations are a test of endurance as you try to last as long as possible against a relentless onslaught. You might think you have things under control, but one false move and the situation can deteriorate in a hurry. The B variations incorporate pre-existing blocks and your goal is to finish 25 lines. At first I hated how this variation ends abruptly, but the idea of a quick game of Tetris grew on me. The music selection includes three traditional Russian-style tunes, and the tempo picks up as the blocks pile up. Comparisons between this and the Tengen version are unavoidable. The Tengen game was yanked from the shelves in 1989 after a Nintendo lawsuit, and many gamers believe it is superior. This Nintendo version probably has the edge in terms of single-player action. The blocks are bigger, the controls are more precise, and the music is better. This Nintendo version lacks a two-player mode, and for the life of me I have no [expletive] idea why they didn't include one. My friend Brent is a Tetris master (no joke), and he strongly favors this Nintendo edition (although he admits nostalgia may be a factor). Personally I think it's pretty much a draw. © Copyright 2013 The Video Game Critic.
Recommended variation: 9A
Our high score: BSC 103,626
Publisher: Tengen (1988)
Recommended variation: 9
Our high score: BSC 36,413
1 or 2 players
Publisher: Bandai (1991)
There's something classy and elegant about these Rocketeer games. Maybe because they're based on a Disney film that harkens back to a more wholesome era? The box sports a beautiful art deco design and the manual looks like it's pressed onto sheets of copper. Unlike other versions of the game, this one is strictly platforming in nature. Rocketeer's graphics are nicely detailed, beginning with the hangar stage decked out with old-timey airplanes, machinery, and air show posters. The characters however are very small. In fact, while jumping between ledges I felt like I was playing Pitfall II: Lost Caverns
(Atari 2600, 1984). You'll duck behind crates and trade shots with color-coded bad gangsters. Men in black will go down with one shot but the red dudes can absorb three bullets. You can run out of ammo, so grab piles of bullets wherever you can find them. You also have a supply of grenades that are so weak you basically need to nail an enemy in the face with one. Defeated foes disappear in some kind of purple pixie dust - perhaps to moderate the violence. What's irritating is how you can overlap with enemies, causing you to incur serious damage while being unable to hit them! Still, I found the game to be quite fun and the excellent music helped me get into a rhythm. Certain areas let you zip around in a jet pack, but boy oh boy is it hard to control. The stages tend to run so long it feels like a battle of attrition with health hard to come by. I wish there was a score to help measure your progress. The Rocketeer boasts excellent production values but beyond that it's pretty vanilla. © Copyright 2020 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Acclaim (1986)
Is Tiger-Heli one of the better-looking shooters for the NES? No way. Is the action smooth? Not really.
But is it fun? Yes.
In this vertical shooter you control a helicopter penetrating terrorist defenses. You begin by raising hell in a suburban neighborhood, sending soccer moms running for cover. I'm scoring points
for this? When you reach the waterfront area you're accosted by real enemies in the form of tanks, cannons, and ships. Their red missiles are slow but large, giving you little margin for error. Your helicopter hits an invisible barrier when it's about an inch from the edge of the screen, limiting your room to maneuver. Your potent firepower is the best part of the game, letting you fire four missiles at a time in rapid-fire fashion. You also have a supply of bombs, and since you can't fire backwards, these come in handy when tanks sneak in from the lower part of the screen. Two special bombs are attached to either side of your plane, and taking a hit on either side will detonate one and save your life. It's like an automatic safety mechanism. Some power-up icons augment your firepower by latching on a small helicopter, and if you hook up a few you're nearly unstoppable. Tiger-Heli's graphics are somewhat plain with static scenery. The developers were apparently trying to achieve a 3D polygon look with those angular forests. Nice try, boys. The game lacks an auto-fire option, but you can bump up the grade slightly if you own an NES Advantage joystick (which has an auto-fire feature). Tiger-Heli lacks the polish of a first-rate NES shooter, but if you're in the mood for some simple shooting action this one isn't a bad choice. © Copyright 2011 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 44,720
1 or 2 players
Publisher: Tengen (1989)
Toobin' is a leisurely jaunt perfect for a sunny summer afternoon. Sitting in a tire you drift down shimmering streams while navigating currents, tossing cans, and avoiding prickly hazards. If you find the idea of tossing beer cans at obstacles inappropriate, you've obviously never been tubing in West Virginia. Heck, people take an extra tube just to hold the cooler!
Toobin's simple control scheme lets you to toss cans diagonally down to the left or right, reminiscent of Paperboy
(NES, 1988) and nearly as fun. You can regulate your speed but in general the action is pretty slow. Just keep an eye out for the occasional crocodile. Dangers along the river banks including natives blowing darts and fisherman casting lines. Be cautious of rapids, as the game has a tendency to bait you into dangerous routes. There are occasional surprises like a green mass that turns out to be a shambling swamp monster. The graphics are bright and colorful but it's hard to tell what certain objects are supposed to be. The "Jurassic" stage is a monumental letdown, with just a few cartoony dinosaurs lining the shore. The screen has an icon bar on the lower right but I couldn't tell you what those symbols and numbers are supposed to mean. They aren't even explained in the manual. The music features surfing and banjo tunes that put you in the right frame of mind. I was surprised how much my friends enjoyed Toobin. I guess there's something to be said for a game that lets you take your time and just relax for a change. © Copyright 2018 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: KF 316,400
1 or 2 players
Publisher: Acclaim (1990)
Before playing this I watched the original Total Recall movie on Blu Ray. I thought it would properly prepare me for this game, but that was assuming the game made sense, which it does not. The first stage allegedly takes place on Mars, but it looks like a typical city street with boring office buildings and a little theatre where you can view the game's credits. Apparently every living creature on Mars hates your guts. People driving in cars throw trash at you. Thugs hiding in trash cans shoot at you. Pink midgets drag you into back alleys and try to kick your ass. Hell, you can't even walk past a construction wall without little arms reaching out of holes to slug you! Police converge but a good punch or two sends them flying clear off the screen. The first "boss" encounter is against Sharon Stone - the woman you thought
was your wife. It's impossible to survive this screen unless you know one wildly non-intuitive secret. After killing Sharon Stone you have to jump over
the guy standing in the doorway who is firing a machine gun non-stop. Oh yeah - that
makes sense. Total Recall gets better as you progress, but not much better. Revisiting locations from the film, stage two lets you fight inside of an X-Ray machine, causing everybody to look like skeletons! Okay, that's kind of clever. In the subway station you'll fight the same guard over and over while contending with annoying dogs that latch on to your leg. Winning Total Recall is more about learning the "trick" to each stage than exhibiting skill. If not for the movie license I doubt this one would be worth the aggravation. © Copyright 2014 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 15,570
Publisher: Jaleco (1991)
Our high score: 170
Publisher: SNK (1988)
Publisher: Konami (1987)
For many old school gamers, the words "classic NES action" evoke fond memories of Track and Field in all its button-tapping glory. Picking up where the joystick-wiggling Olympic games of the early 80's left off (Summer Games, Decathlon), Track and Field combines simple controls with addictive, competitive gameplay. Your athlete competes in eight fun events: 100 meter dash, long jump, hurdles, javelin, skeet shooting, triple jump, archery, and high jump. Each event is brief and easy to learn, and a few can be played by two people at once. In general the controls involve tapping a button to gain speed, and then holding down the directional pad to measure your angle. I remember back in the 80's when people were coming up with all sorts of crazy techniques for tapping the buttons, including running a coin back and forth feverishly over the controller. When you qualify for an event, the crowd roars and flashes enthusiastically, but breaking a world record is the ultimate achievement. Most events are terrific but the difficult is uneven, and I found games like skeet shoot and high jump to be excessively difficult to qualify for. Another issue is the obvious lack of playing modes, probably due to the game's arcade origins. You basically keep playing events until you fail to qualify, at which time your game ends abruptly. Upon completing a round, you advance to the next with a higher difficulty. Track and Field is a bit simplistic compared to latter day track and field games, but in terms of sheer fun, it's hard to beat. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.
Recommended variation: Javelin
Our high score: 84'27"
1 or 2 players
Track and Field II
Publisher: Konami (1988)
Recommended variation: Hammer
Our high score: 24'08"
1 or 2 players
Publisher: Capcom (1986)
This is what classic NES action is supposed
to be - simple in concept but still challenging and addicting. When you play Trojan and hear that distinctive music you'll feel as if you're back in the 80's again (if you were there the first time around). Trojan takes place in some war-torn, post-apolocalyptic world, and the idea is to hack up enemies with a sword while blocking projectiles from snipers above. Most NES side-scrollers have some kind of gimmick, and in this case it's a shield which can be positioned at five angles. This adds some much-needed strategy, particularly against the bosses. The action starts in a run-down city but later moves on to jungles and caves. Although the game is fairly linear, you'll occasionally wander off the beaten path, by falling into a sewer for example. Some enemies look like knights with maces, and there's a red guy who looks suspiciously like M. Bison of Street Fighter II fame. Since Capcom made both games, it might not be a coincidence. I did encounter some minor problems with the jumping controls and collision detection, but overall Trojan is still a good time. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 40,450
1 or 2 players
Publisher: Sammy (1989)
Raw simplicity is what's appealing about this arcade-style vertical shooter. You're the pilot of a chopper armed to the hilt, strafing freeways, ports, and battleships while decimating tanks, cannons, and pontoons. The upbeat music, vibrant backgrounds, and responsive controls are right on point. There's some graphic break-up and occasional slow-down, but it's a small price to pay for this much action. I like how the screen scrolls a little left and right, allowing you to focus on certain areas while avoiding danger zones. You can change weapons by grabbing colored icons and each can be powered up several degrees. Those floating icons are elusive as hell, dodging you like they didn't want
to be collected. My favorite weapon is the yellow shot because it's so unusual. Not only does it fire in four directions at once, but its shots slightly
curve toward enemies. You collect bonus stars from battlefield ruins, cashing them in for points if you make it back in one piece. The difficulty is moderate and landing on the ship at the end of each stage gives you a well-earned breather and a sense of accomplishment. Twin Cobra is at its best when you're using a good joystick with turbo control. Otherwise your hand is going to be pretty sore. Also of note is that Twin Cobra is missing its twin; this game is one-player only. © Copyright 2020 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 226,490
Publisher: Romstar (1989)
Twin Eagle is just your average vertical-scrolling helicopter shooter. As you encounter enemies on the ground and in the air, they unleash missiles in the form of big, slow red dots. Your helicopter moves slowly, which is not all bad since dodging these missiles requires some precision. A few power-ups are available, but they don't boost your firepower dramatically. The best weapons are the smart bombs which effectively decimate all enemies on the screen. You'll want to save those for tight situations. The scenery includes water, desert, and jungle, and an enemy fortress. In certain stages you can actually blast enemy strongholds to reveal hostages to rescue. Twin Eagle's graphics are plain and lack detail. Soldiers have huge heads, and the green ones look more like Martians. Instead of bosses, the end of each stage bombards you with high speed enemies. A limited number of continues are available. Twin Eagle is not a great one-player game, but the two player mode drastically increases the fun factor. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.