Publisher: Take-Two (2000)
Rating: Teen (mild language, suggestive themes)
My original review for this game lamented the fact that it contains no KISS music
- only generic guitar riffs. That in of itself could justify an "F". I mean, did they or did they not license the band?! Then one reader pointed out that it's possible to play your own music CDs
during the course of the game. I checked the manual, and sure enough it does mention this. Anyone who would purchase KISS Pinball would certainly
own a KISS CD or two, right? Sure enough, I had a few on hand! So after loading up one of the two pinball tables I paused the game and inserted KISS Alive 2. After fast-forwarding to Calling Dr. Love (via the R2 button), I soon realized that the game's guitar-riff audio effects completely butcher
any music you play - no matter how kick-ass it may be. The pinball action itself is some the worst I've ever experienced. The uninspired tables are grainy and the ball travels too fast to follow. Responsive flipper control is critical in pinball, but these flippers are sluggish and tend to "stick" after you trigger them. If you want to return to the main menu to save high scores or switch tables, you'll need to replace your CD with the game disk. That's a lot of trouble to go through just to play a cheap product designed to cash in on the band's popularity. Giving this game a second chance only cemented my hatred for it. © Copyright 2007 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Acclaim (1996)
Rating: Teen 13+ (animated violence, blood)
Killing Zone is a "sensational 3-D fighter". And if you don't believe me check the front cover; it says it right there!
Despite the violent title and the promise of "buckets of gore" (back of box) Killing Zone is remarkably tame. There is no intro video and the lack of menu screen music is glaring. What Killing Zone does offer is eight classic monsters including a werewolf, mummy, minotaur, skeleton, and Frankenstein monster. The ladies are represented by a dark faerie and the half-snake gorgon. Depending on whether you're player one or two, the creatures are identified by different names which seems confusing and unnecessary. An announcer kicks off each battle exclaiming "Reach around!
" (whatever that means). Killing Zone's character models aren't terrible. The creatures look fearsome enough and some moves surprised me, like when the mummy grows twice as big or stretches his arms like Dhalsim in Street Fighter. I noticed that characters actually turn their heads to keep an eye on their opponents. Unfortunately the fighting action is marred by stilted animation and erratic collision detection. The screams and sound effects have a nice resonating quality but the mountainous backdrops look awfully grainy. The soundtrack incorporates a perfectly good rip-off of the Mortal Kombat theme. The game's ultimate undoing is its lack of replayability. The normal mode doesn't keep score and the bizarre "auto mode" only lets you suggest
moves as the action plays out. The options are sparse with no save capability. A remarkably bare-bones fighter, Killing Zone is playable but you probably won't want to. © Copyright 2015 The Video Game Critic.
Konami Arcade Classics
Publisher: Konami (1999)
This superb collection of ten early 80's arcade games is a dream come true for retrogamers. Scramble, Super Cobra, Time Pilot, Gyruss, and Pooyan, are legitimate classics you'll enjoy playing over and over again! Road Fighter, Roc N Rope, and Circus Charlie are second-tier titles, but they're still fun to play a few times. The final two games, Shao-Lin's Road and Tie Ar Kung-Fu, are a pair of archaic fighters that are only interesting from an historical perspective. Scramble is one of my favorite arcade games of all time, and I remember it well from the local bowling alley. This side scroller lets you shoot missiles and drop bombs at the same time, and you'll need to destroy fuel tanks in narrow caverns to maintain your energy. Super Cobra is actually the sequel to Scramble, but this time you pilot a helicopter and it's much harder. Time Pilot is a classic shooter that lets you fly a plane in any direction, shooting down aircraft and rescuing soldiers in parachutes. Each stage takes place during a different time period, pitting you against biplanes, jets, and UFOs. Gyruss is an unconventional space shooter with a ship that moves around in a big circle, firing at enemies that emerge from the center of the screen. That catchy music is classic Bach, believe it or not. Pooyan is a cute, cartoonish shooter with a pigs vs. wolves theme. In Roc N Rope, you scale a mountain by shooting ropes at cliffs and climbing across them. The poorly-named Road Fighter is a basic racer where you attempt to pass as many cars as you can. Circus Charlie offers six unique circus challenges, including tight-rope, trapeze, and flaming hoops. In Shao-Lin's Road you face gangs of thugs, but your arsenal is limited to kicks and jump-kicks. Yie Ar Kung-Fu is an early one-on-one fighter, and although it's pretty bad, it does remind me of Street Fighter in some ways. You can save your high scores and settings to memory card, and analog control is also supported. When you're in the mood to get back to the basics, this is the collection you need. © Copyright 1999 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Psygnosis (1995)
Early Playstation titles tended to incorporate low-budget video clips which I tend to get a kick out of. Krazy Ivan's intro blends computer-generated imagery (CGI) with bad acting, perpetuating every Russian stereotype in the process. It's hilarious to hear military personel barking orders in English with outrageous accents. Krazy Ivan is revealed to be a renegade Russian soldier manning a mech warrior. When Ivan moves his body, his mech mimics his movements. Considering this concept has been used in so many modern films (Pacific Rim comes to mind), it's hard to believe this game came out in 1995!
Its first-person shooting gameplay feels like an advanced version of Cybermorph
(Jaguar, 1993). Enemy robots materialize from nowhere but it's fun to blast them with missiles and machine guns. They're easy to destroy and they often release captive soldiers you can collect for points (I thought I was running over them). There are enemies in the air too, but using L1 and R1 to aim up and down is awkward as hell. You can't see particularly far into the distance but the animation is smooth as you navigate the mountainous landscape. There are some frame-rate and audio hiccups, especially when your female commander appears in the corner of the screen. Each stage requires you to defeat several mech warriors and then destroy a shield generator. The mechs come in an interesting assortment, some resembling robotic wild animals like a gorilla or tiger. The sound effects that accompany these beasts can be pretty unnerving. Strafing is integral in battle, but instead of continuous movement you tap the shoulder buttons to "shunt" one step at a time. Between stages you're treated to some video clips with comedic elements to keep things light. When your mech is destroyed the game abruptly ends and prompts for your initials for the high score screen. I like Krazy Ivan. It's a pretty solid shooter and its cheesy video intermissions make it all the more endearing. © Copyright 2018 The Video Game Critic.
Legend of Dragoon, The
Publisher: Sony (2000)
Submitted by RPG correspondent Jonathan Hawk
The credentials required to be a "PlayStation Greatest Hit" must not be terribly high. As Sony's first foray into the world of RPGs, the Legend of Dragoon was largely inspired by the wildly popular Final Fantasy VII. Harvesting ideas from various other games and incorporating a plot drawn up by some employee's 11-year-old nephew, this mediocre RPG combines weird gameplay and laughable voice acting. You play the role of Dart, a generic fighter with spiky hair and a grudge against a mysterious monster that killed his parents. On your quest to vanquish an evil empire, members of your party gradually begin to acquire strange powers. In times of crisis (read: combat) they can transform into "Dragoons"; endowing them with dragon armor and the ability to fly (and dish out some serious damage as well). After playing the first disc, I nearly threw the whole game out the window. For being released in 2000, the graphics were well behind the standards of the time. The polygons look rough and the backgrounds are awfully bland. Still, the full-motion video is nice and the music isn't half bad. Voices are only heard when characters attack, and the remaining dialogue is completely text-based. In terms of quality, I'm convinced the voice actors were picked up off the street (at least for this English version). The combat system is slow to load, and making matters worse, all special attacks are rhythm-based
! No RPG had done it before. No RPG has done it since. You can upgrade your attacks by using them often, but I had trouble just using them at all
! Heck, you have to tap eight buttons in sequential order, with a directional-pad motion in sync - just to perform a move! The one original concept I do like is how defending successfully replenishes a little bit of your health. It makes no physical sense mind you, but it sure helps when you're out of healing potions! All in all, this is a nice first try for Sony, but gamers should save themselves the $3.50 this game is worth and invest in a beer instead. © Copyright 2005 The Video Game Critic.
Lethal Enforcers I & II
Publisher: Konami (1997)
Rating: Mature (realistic violence)
After playing the much
slower 16-bit versions of Lethal Enforcers this arcade edition feels like a shot of adrenaline!
The digitized graphics are so clean I noticed subtle details like checking slips littering the bank counters. Clearer audio substantially improves the music, particularly in Lethal Enforcers II. But what really caught me off guard was the breakneck pacing. Bank robbers pour out of the woodwork so fast you barely have time to reload! They like to yell stuff like "Eat lead, copper!"
and "You missed me pig!"
You can even shoot out parts of the scenery like windows, cameras, and hostages (whoops!
). One consequence of the sharper graphics is character pixelation and the fact that they appear "removed" from the scenery. Lethal Enforcer's five stages take place in a bank, docks, airport, factory, and Chinatown. The sequel is set in the wild west, and if you thought the first game was frantic, this one is just insane. Right off the bat there's about six outlaws firing at you at the same time. These guys are practically piled on top
of each other! As if to compensate for the arcade difficulty each game gives you a whopping 30 continues!
Once I tried blowing through all 30 but my trigger finger was sore by the time I reached 15. It's just not natural
to use any more than three continues. The Justifier light gun is reasonably accurate provided you crank up the brightness on your CRT, but even under the best conditions entering your initials into the high score screen is nearly impossible. The lack of precision isn't as big a deal in the actual game since you have unlimited ammo. Lethal Enforcers I & II brings the arcade experience home; just be glad it doesn't take quarters. Notes: Not compatible with Guncon. Light guns do not work with HDTVs. © Copyright 2020 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Interplay (1996)
This overhead shooter was a hit in 1996, thanks to its rapid-fire shooting, colorful lighting, and senseless violence. Loaded was also one of the first games to sport a mature rating. After selecting from one of six demented souls (including a psychotic clown and a fat dude in diapers), you are plopped in the middle of a dark, dank, maze-like prison. With a nod to Gauntlet and Smash TV, one or two players mow down mobs of mindless lunatics as constant explosions and gratuitous gore fills the screen. You can unleash a constant stream of bullets, and L1 provides a handy strafe function. For the first few minutes the game is genuinely fun, although the frame-rate seems rougher than I remembered. The sights and sounds of bodies splattering on floors and against walls are satisfying, as are the bass-heavy explosions. But unfortunately, Loaded proves that there is
such thing as too much
of a good thing. The main problem is the repetitive, oversized stages. By requiring you to acquire colored keycards to access new areas, the game actually promotes
tedious backtracking. I enjoy gratuitous violence as much as the next guy, but my thumb was killing
me by the end of the first stage
! There's not much variety, and if you play the game for too long it will
give you a headache. And with unlimited continues and no score, there's little in the way of challenge. Loaded's graphics are rendered with scaling sprites, and in general they look great. The game received numerous accolades for its lighting effects, and the colorful lights really do add a visual flair to otherwise non-descript hallways and rooms. But Loaded's greatest asset is its kick-ass soundtrack, which is absolutely phenomenal
. If you can imagine the Halloween movie theme with a club vibe, and you'll have a good idea of what these tunes sound like. Another nice feature is the two-player simultaneous mode, although the game actually takes longer with a partner because you need to coordinate your movements. Loaded is shallow and should only be consumed in small doses, but shooter fans will find merit in its dark theme and kick-ass soundtrack. © Copyright 2008 The Video Game Critic.
Looney Tunes Racing
Publisher: Infogrames (2000)
For the longest time I had assumed this was simply a degraded version of Looney Tunes Space Race
(Dreamcast, 2001). In fact this is a completely different racer - and a surprisingly good one at that! The box makes the bold claim "LTR might surpass Crash Team Racing as the best PS kart racing game to date." A bold statement for sure, but not as crazy as its sounds. Looney Tunes Racing may lack a four-player split-screen but its head-to-head and single-player action is wild! The all-star cast includes Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Wile E. Coyote, Marvin the Martian, Tasmanian Devil, and Lola Bunny as the obligatory female. The stages are reminiscent of the classic cartoons, set in a castle, desert canyon, cartoon "backlot", Mars, and in a giant's vegetable garden. The scenery is a little chunky and hard to follow at times but the artistic style is right on point. The races are short and sweet with a playful orchestrated score that includes the "Figaro" opera song and Lone Ranger theme. The vibrant graphics and rollicking music make it feel like you're playing an old cartoon! The animation remains smooth despite all the pie-slinging, anvil-dropping, and storm clouds chasing cars around. Passing through a flashing arch will unleash mayhem on cars ahead, triggering a roaring locomotive, giant ray gun, or avalanche. Another neat concept is your ability to collect coins to increase your weapon meter, a la Gradius
(NES, 1986). The voice quips ("What's up doc?") can get repetitive but the racing action is wholesome fun. I even enjoyed the challenge modes which let you unlock various items. It may not be quite up to Bandicoot standards, but at the very least Looney Tunes Racing is an underrated gem. © Copyright 2019 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Infogrames (1998)
Lucky Luke was painful
to review. Its cover suggests a budget-priced kid's title but I doubt this game would be enjoyable for any demographic. It's a wild west platformer that begins with a cut-scene of claymation crooks blowing their way out of jail. The characters are rendered in a vaguely-creepy Santa Claus Is Coming to Town style. Maybe they should have used that style in the game? Instead the characters look flat and cartoonish. They aren't even animated
well, and their jerky movements prove detrimental to the controls. The stage locations offer dusty towns, hazardous mineshafts, and twangy music. Luke moseys around so slowly
I felt obligated to hold in the run button the whole time. The control scheme is ass-backwards. A running jump is needed to clear many barriers, but the button placement will have your fingers in knots!
I find it incredulous how you can push a crate in one direction but not the other. Certain outlaws are defeated by ricocheting bullets, but the targets you need to hit are often off the screen
. The first boss encounter is just plain wretched. Some fat guy is tossing logs at you and you need to smack them back with... a frying pan?!
Terrible collision detection makes this an exercise in sheer perseverance. Beating him gives you the opportunity to purchase a password or extra life. Wait what?
The game charges you
for a damn password? Had I known I needed $100 I might have paid more attention to those dollar icons! The second stage puts you on a running horse which should
be fun but it's miserable. The side angle doesn't give you nearly enough time to react to obstacles and depth perception is a problem as well. After that stage guess how much money I had? $98! Wonderful. The third stage takes place on a train, culminating with a ridiculous boss battle against two guys in stack of barrels. Why can't I use my dynamite on them? Turns out I was supposed to shoot
their bombs back at them with my gun. I don't hold my video games to the highest standard of realism but Lucky Luke is flat out infuriating!
How "lucky" can Luke be if he ended up in this outhouse of a game? © Copyright 2019 The Video Game Critic.
Save mechanism: password
Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete
Publisher: Working Designs (1999)
Submitted by RPG correspondent Jonathan Hawk
Lunar is a port of the very highly regarded RPG for the Sega CD. Some of the quests have been altered for this re-release, and since they had a ton of room left over on the CDs, they threw in a nice intro movie and a dozen or so anime cut scenes. Packaged as a "box set", Lunar also includes a cloth map of the game world, the game soundtrack, and a leather-bound instruction booklet containing staff interviews and a lengthy preview of the player's guide. Lunar's story revolves around a young man named Alex and his aspirations of becoming a "Dragonmaster" like his idol. Alex has a pet baby dragon with a smart mouth, along with a handful of friends he meets on his quest to become a Dragonmaster. Without revealing too much of the plot, Alex strives to save those he loves while combating newly-emerging forces of evil. The sprites and backgrounds appear to have been touched up from the Sega CD version, now with an almost cartoon-like appearance. The full-motion anime segments are crisp, with barely any noticeable "mosaic effects". The game boasts terrific voice acting performed by a very talented staff. Lunar's loading times are fair, but especially noticeable when saving or loading from the memory card. Speaking of saving, you can do it wherever you please! That's right - no more dying right across from the save point. You can have up to five people in your party at once, all with unique abilities and techniques. Combat is fast-paced and simple, and the battle screens load quickly. You enter all of your party's commands at once, and teaming up is key for getting the biggest bang out of your magic points. As a bonus for beating the game, you're rewarded with some pee-yourself-funny voice acting outtakes. Lunar doesn't stretch the limits of the PlayStation by any means, but it does provide a fun and enjoyable game worthy of multiple plays. Especially considering all the extras, it's well worth its price. RPG enthusiasts (especially those who are suckers for packaging) need to have this game on their shelves. © Copyright 2005 The Video Game Critic.
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