Publisher: Interplay (2000)
Caesar's Palace is a decent casino game as far as these things go, but there's nothing special about it. Its main strength lies in its variety of games, including six different card games, roulette, keno, slots, and video poker machines. You begin with $1000, and can save your winnings to memory card at any time. Up to four people can play simultaneously if you own a multi-tap. The streamlined user-interface allows you to bet quickly to keep things moving. The graphics are attractive, especially the digitized hands that deal the cards. A dealer's voice lets you know what's happening at all times. The selection of slot machines includes fruit, Halloween, Ancient Egypt, the Wild West, and baseball. My main beef with Caesar's Palace is its lack of atmosphere. The game makes no effort to create the feeling of being in an actual casino. There's some cheesy music and background voices, but you feel very alone playing this game. Everything is menu-driven, so you never see other people or view any scenery. Another complaint is how there's no in-game tutorial, so you'll need to read the manual to learn how to play the games. Caesar's Palace is not my idea of a good time on a Saturday night, but it wouldn't be a bad game to pick up before a trip to Vegas, just to get familiar with the games. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Sony (1998)
3D fighting games were the rage in the late 1990's and this one was developed by 989 Studios - a developer best known for its sports titles. Cardinal Syn's epic CGI intro runs for so long I can only surmise it accounted for the bulk of the game's budget! This one-on-one slugfest stars a motley crew of medieval characters caught up in a convoluted tournament storyline. There's a jester, cyclops, Egyptian princess, limping corpse, and an oversized dwarf just to name a few. The action is fully 3D; in fact holding L2 lets you roam freely. The basic controls offer three attacks, a block, and a jump. Pressing toward the enemy while blocking executes an elaborate throw sequence that's fun to watch. The vibration effects are effective and the asymmetrical stage designs are refreshing. Most fighting games have square or round arenas, but here they come in a variety of configurations set in temples, caves, bridges, and castles. The only stage I didn't like was the jester's spinning arena, which actually made me ill. Stages also feature environmental hazards like lava rivers and runaway minecarts. Walking over chests equips you with power-ups and weapons. The AI is lousy. Once you find an effective attack you can often use it over and over. If time runs out, the fighter with less health simply keels over and that looks ridiculous. There's also a lack of progression. There's no score and when you save to memory card I'm not even sure what it's saving. Cardinal Syn is the type of game that's fun to tinker with for a little while, but you'll forget about it by tomorrow (if not sooner). © Copyright 2019 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Konami (2001)
Rating: Teen (blood and violence)
Once again Konami has brought Castlevania back to the Playstation, this time in the form of a late-80's Japanese PC title. Compared to Symphony of the Night, Chronicles is simpler and decidedly more old-school. There's no separate screen to juggle your items, and the sound effects are tinny, as you might expect from an old PC game. The graphics however are remarkably good, with high-resolution monsters and interesting background animations. The control is a little stiff, and there are a few annoyances including "instant death" falls and irritating bats. Even so, Castlevania fans will relish this long-lost gem. An interview with the game's producer is also included. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
Publisher: Konami (1997)
Rating: Teen (blood and violence)
As one of the most celebrated Playstation games of all time, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night routinely appears on critic's top 10 lists. In the mid-1990's, Sony had an ill-advised policy that discouraged 2D games on their console, so it was quite a victory for gamers when Symphony was finally released. The production values of this macabre side-scroller are top-notch, with each room painstakingly detailed with gorgeous gothic architecture. Foes come in all shapes and sizes, from skeletons, to tiny hunchbacks, to huge mythological creatures. The floating puppets are downright disturbing! Symphony's lavishly orchestrated soundtrack is remarkable, and it plays a key role in the game's ominous atmosphere. The voice acting is somewhat over-the-top, but the sound effects are fantastic. Castlevania's intricate storyline can be confusing, especially if you're new to the series. Symphony inexplicably begins with a boss battle, followed by some of the most gratuitous exposition I've ever seen in a video game. Once it gains traction however, Symphony proves to be extremely fun and challenging. There are plenty of bosses but only a few strategically-placed save points. Like previous installments, you can strike candles to reveal hearts and power-ups. There are a good number of weapons, items, and relics, and being able to juggle them effectively is key. I especially like the weapon that "stops time", letting you hack away at paralyzed monsters. Syphony of the Night's castle is massive, and it's easy to get lost within its maze of platforms and corridors. But the challenge is relentless, and you'll never get bored. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Hasbro (1999)
After Frogger, this is Hasbro's second attempt to "update" a classic arcade game, and it's only slightly more successful. The world of Centipede is now rendered in 3D, with more enemies and a slew of power-ups. Power-ups were never part of the original game, but they do add some variety. The new levels are so expansive that you can only see a portion of them at a time. So how does this new Centipede play? Well, it feels nothing like the old Centipede. You can now rotate your ship and move anywhere on the screen, but the pace is much slower and less exciting that the original. The analog control is reasonable, but the frame rate is poor and the chunky graphics look sloppy. The original 2D arcade version of Centipede is also included, and it's so superior that you wonder why Hasbro even attempted the upgrade. As with Frogger, Hasbro has fallen into the trap of trying to improve a game that was perfect to begin with. © Copyright 1999 The Video Game Critic.
Classic Games from the Intellivision
Publisher: Activision (1999)
Only long-lost Intellivision fans will want to dabble in this ill-conceived collection of 30 Intellivision games from the late 70's and early 80's. Everyone else should avoid this disk like the plague. I can't express how disappointed I am with this. First off, the bloated user interface that lets you select games and variations is just as poor
as the Activision Classics disk of Atari 2600 games. There are endless load screens despite the fact that these games should load in a split-second. Most of the games run agonizingly slow, and trying to emulate Intellivision keypads with a Playstation controller results in some nightmarish control schemes. Finally, those sports games that Intellivision was so famous for are two-player only, so you'll need a friend to play most of these. A very, very
good friend. The Intellivision was a great console, but this package does it a major disservice. © Copyright 1999 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Ascii (1997)
Rating: Mature (violence, blood, and gore)
Publisher: Agetec (1998)
Rating: Mature (animated violence, blood and gore)
Here's a survival horror game with blocky graphics, laughable dialogue, and a storyline that will have you rolling your eyes. So why am I trembling with fear? You play as Alyssa Hale, a schoolgirl who's out for revenge after being buried alive. She's pursued by possessed beings, primarily a lunatic in a devil mask. Oh, and did I mention Alyssa has a split personality? Man, it sure is tough being a kid these days! Clock Tower 2 has an archaic point-and-click cursor interface that takes some getting used to. Most of the time you just move your arrow over everything in sight until it changes shape, indicating something you can examine. The rough, pixelated graphics make Alyssa look awful - her legs look like toothpicks! The monsters don't look bad though - they look pretty scary actually. Alyssa begins her journey locked in a house where her relatives have been brutally murdered and mutilated. Despite its mediocre graphics, Clock Tower 2 actually scared the heck out of me quite a few times. The sound effects and music alone are enough to freak you out. Sometime you'll be pursued from room to room until you find a good hiding spot. Get too close to a monster and you'll trigger "panic mode", forcing you to tap the square button like crazy to escape! One aspect I didn't care for was the whole split personality thing. You sometimes have to be a certain personality to perform different tasks, and it's a pain to switch between them. Clock Tower 2 boasts 13 (!) different endings, but are these really necessary? Do they really expect anyone to finish the game 13 times? Still, Clock Tower 2 succeeds despite its flaws. If you enjoyed the first game, you'll probably like this one too. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Psygnosis (1997)
Rating: Kids to Adults (animated violence)
Contra: Legacy of War
Publisher: Konami (1996)
Rating: Teen (animated violence)
Recommended variation: Easy
1 or 2 players
Publisher: Sony (1997)
Rating: Kids to Adult (Suitable for all ages)
Publisher: Sony (1998)
This snowboarding sequel is a substantial improvement over the original, with more challenges, better graphics, nine courses, and a much-needed two-player split-screen mode. I was pleased by the customization options which offer a wide selection of modes, boarders, gear, and background music. The "tour competition" mode is the heart of Cool Boarders 2, pitting you against seven opponents in a series of downhill and stunt/jumping events. This mode also unlocks new courses, so be sure to turn enable the "auto save" option. And while you're on the options screen, you'll want to turn the voices and background music off
. The muffled commentator and grinding guitar soundtrack are nothing short of an assault on the eardrums. The only thing you want to hear is the sound of crisp snow beneath your board - very relaxing. Stunts are much easier to execute this time around, although the poor instruction manual never sufficiently explains how to perform them. The exciting downhill races feature ample scenery, including quaint resorts and death-defying cliffs. Despite the improved visuals however, there are still far too many unsightly seams. The split-screen mode divides the screen down the center, and while it's certainly playable, the fact that you're only racing against one opponent means you'll rarely see anyone else on the course. Cool Boarders 2 was a major step up for the franchise, but the best was yet to come. © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: 989 (1998)
Publisher: Sony (2000)
Cool Boarders 4 is okay, but it failed to advance the series as previous editions of the games had. Of the many "enhancements", some are unwelcome and a few are downright irritating! The graphic engine has been tweaked so the courses look slightly sharper than those in Cool Boarders 3. The smooth animation features plenty of "big air", but the sense of speed and momentum is diminished. Certain courses are too long and so wide open that you rarely
need the "tight turn" button. I actually found myself getting bored
at times, which is never a good sign! Another thing I dislike are the "deep snow" areas. Not only do these slow you to a crawl, but it looks ridiculous when the snow reaches shoulder
height! And while the game's case brags about four-player support, in fact only two
can play simultaneously. On the bright side, the wonderful locales include Vermont, Colorado, Alaska, France, and Japan. There's not much to see alongside the trails, but Cool Boarders 4 does make excellent use of digitized background graphics. Whether you're looking down on a snowy French village or up at a magnificent mountain range, the looming scenery looks spectacular. The controls are extremely responsive, letting you dodge trees and pull off tricks on the half-pipe with ease. Unlike Cool Boarders 3, the trees are more varied in appearance and pose less of a hazard. The Tournament mode is largely unchanged, except annoying cheering sound effects have been added. Sony actually licensed professional snowboarders for this game, so your opponents are real people. The franchise seemed to lose a bit of momentum with this fourth entry, but this is still a very respectable snowboarding title. © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Naughty Dog (1996)
Rating: Kids to Adults
This fantastic 3D action/platform game served as the perfect showcase of the Playstation's graphical capabilities. When released in 1996, nothing else could touch it. The frame-rate is silky smooth as our marsupial hero traverses lush, tropical environments with fantastic overgrown ruins. The audio is also first-rate, with excellent bongo drum music adding to the game's exotic flavor. Although Crash can move on any axis, he is generally restricted to a narrow pathway, although some stages do branch. Your goal is to traverse a series of hazards while smashing crates and defeating animals with well-timed spins and pounces. In most stages you run "into" the screen, but in a few you run "out" of the screen, and there are even some side-scrolling levels. From its shimmering water stages, to Indiana Jones-inspired giant rolling boulder stage, Crash Bandicoot's 3D world is loaded with fun surprises. If this isn't a Playstation classic, what is? © Copyright 1999 The Video Game Critic.
Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back
Publisher: Naughty Dog (1997)
Rating: Kids to Adults
This fine sequel offers more of the same stellar platform gameplay, only with additional moves and interesting new stages. Our agile bandicoot can now slide, crawl, and body-slam. Innovative new stages equip Crash with jet skis (fun) and jet packs (less fun). Cortex Strikes Back also introduces the "warp zone" concept which lets you determine the order in which you'll play some stages. Crash 2 is extremely fun but also very difficult. Not only is the basic gameplay far more challenging, but in order to complete the game you need to locate secret areas so elusive you'll probably need a cheat book to find them all. © Copyright 1999 The Video Game Critic.
Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped
Publisher: Naughty Dog (1998)
While retaining the winning formula of previous Crash games, Warped incorpoates noticeable improvements to the graphics and gameplay. The motorcycle, jet-ski, and airplane bonus levels are so brilliantly executed they could easily pass as games in of themselves. Crash can now fire a bazooka
, which adds a terrific new destructive element to the fun. The difficulty level is just about perfect. There are a few really tough puzzles, you don't need to solve them all to finish the game. Believe it or not, the completion percentage actually goes up to 104% (maybe higher!). A real gem, Crash 3 offers more depth and variety than the first game but without the frustration of the second. © Copyright 1999 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Sony (2000)
Once Mario Party
(Nintendo 64, 1998) caught on, it was only a matter of time before the other video game mascots chimed in with "party" games of their own. Sony's entry was Crash Bash, which offers a collection of minigames in that distinctive Bandicoot style. Watching the intro to Crash Bash reminded me just how great Crash Bandicoot games of the past have been. Their graphics were always so rich and clean, with interesting music and whimsical sound effects. There are plenty of familiar sights and sounds in Crash Bash, but its gameplay comes off as rather lukewarm. Unlike most party games that feature 50 or more unique "mini-games", Bash only has six basic games with several variations on each. One is a cross between Warlords and Hungry Hungry Hippo (remember that board game?), where must deflect metal balls away from your goal. Another is a blatant rip-off of Poy Poy (Playstation), where you hurl boxes at other players. In another, players knock each other off a floating island - a concept taken straight from Mario Party. These games are moderately fun but tend to run too long. This is especially the case in the adventure mode, which lets you and a friend unlock new features. Crash Bash is high quality multiplayer title, but has an uninspired, "me too" quality. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.
Crash Team Racing
Publisher: Naughty Dog (1999)
Publisher: Singletrac (1997)
Rating: Teen (violence, blood)
This undersea vehicular combat game comes from the makers of the original Twisted Metal
(Playstation, 1995). You can select from twelve oddly-shaped subs bearing an arsenal of torpedoes, bombs, and mines. The visually impressive stages include lost ruins, a completely submerged city, and the mystical realm of the Bermuda Triangle. The scenery is both foreboding and attractive, with colossal, ominous structures. The surreal music almost contributes to the dark, mysterious atmosphere. Critical Depth's controls are basically the same as Twisted Metal, but its gameplay isn't quite as compelling. Since there's no gravity, it's very easy to become disoriented, especially in the split screen mode. Criyical Depth is probably best played solo. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.
Croc: Legend of the Gobbos
Publisher: Fox (1997)
Save mechanism: Password
Crow, City of Angels, The
Publisher: Acclaim (1996)
Rating: Mature 17+ (animated violence, blood)
The first Crow movie was terrific, but the ill-conceived City of Angels sequel was loud and mindless. This video game adaptation is equally bad yet compelling in an odd way. City of Angels is a third-person brawler starring a resurrected hero bent on revenge. You'll wander through dark, dingy locations including a bar, graveyard, and dock. The game's violence is unflinching, and the full-motion video intro really sets the tone with a brutal execution scene. Our anti-hero is stiff and slow, walking around like he has a pole up his butt. His moves include spinning kicks, backhands, and uppercuts. Weapons at your disposal include baseball bats, knives, gun, crowbars, and Molotov cocktails. The controls are not particularly responsive and the collision detection is erratic. The pre-rendered scenery is dark and atmospheric, but the camera angles are awful!
It's disorienting as you attempt to move from one area to the next, and I frequently found myself inadvertently returning to the room I just left! Occasionally you'll find yourself walking against an invisible wall, and that's just plain cheesy. On a positive note, the gritty scenery, moody lighting, and discordant music convey a memorable surreal environment. A password is provided between stages. It would be easy to write off The Crow: City of Angels as complete garbage, but this game actually has a so-bad-it's-good quality that collectors (and fans of the movie) may find appealing. © Copyright 2010 The Video Game Critic.
Save mechanism: Password
Publisher: Konami (1997)
Rating: Teen (violence, blood, and gore)
Recommended variation: continues
Our high score: 373,800
1 or 2 players
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