Publisher: Psygnosis (1997)
Rating: Kids to Adults (animated violence)
As the only
pirate game I've seen for the Playstation One, Shipwreckers offers a nice change of pace. Too bad it's mired by a slew of video game cliches. It begins with a wacky animated intro that lets you know right up front that this isn't serious game. In the one-player mode, you view your vessel from overhead as you battle other ships, collect floating crates, and unlock new areas. Controlling your ship is simple - maybe too
simple. Steering it around isn't much different than steering around Pac-Man - you'd think they could have at least
incorporated the wind somehow. There's a nice selection of weapons, and it's cool how you can fire cannons off both sides of your ship. Sinking other ships provides some thrills, as it's quite satisfying to watch them go down. Townships and beaches serve as attractive but unremarkable scenery, and excellent metal-drum music gives the game a tropical flavor. You'll find some cool power-ups, including one that lets you fly in the air like a blimp. Unfortunately, Shipwrecker's stages tend to be set up like claustrophobic mazes with endless canals, gates, and switches. These confined areas hardly convey the feeling of plundering and pillaging on the high seas, and the multiplayer mode is even more disappointing. You would think that five pirate ships battling in the open water would be an absolute blast, but there's minimal strategy as the ships trade shots back and forth. Making matters worse, when they move apart, the view scales out so far that you can barely see
them! Shipwreckers isn't terrible, but it definitely feels like a missed opportunity. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.
Shooter Space Shot
Publisher: A1 Games (2000)
Could they have come up with a less imaginative name for this? Space Shot is a 3D side-scroller in the same vein as Einhander, but in terms of fun it's not even in the same ballpark. This generic shooter is part of A1's line of $9.99 games, and you get what you pay for. It might have have respectable five years ago, but the constant slowdown, pixelated scenery, and boring enemies make it seem positively archaic. You're equipped with a rapid-fire weapon and lock-on missiles. By positioning your ship, you can lock onto a series of targets and release a barrage of missiles, which by far is the highlight of the game. Stage intermissions present some very cheesy Japanese animation sequences you'll want to skip. Shooter Space Shot can only recommend this to shooter fans on a very
tight budget. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Konami (2000)
Rating: Mature (violence, blood, gore)
Silent Hill begins by flashing a disclaimer about the game's graphic violence and disturbing scenes. It's no joke, because this game will make your blood run cold. If Resident Evil is the Night of the Living Dead of video games, then Silent Hill is the Exorcist! The opening cutscene depicts a car crash followed by a father's desperate search for his daughter in a nearby deserted town. With moody lighting and spooky audio, Silent Hill creates the most intense atmosphere I've ever experienced in any video game. You view your character from the back (like Tomb Raider) and the camera swings around to capture the most dramatic viewing angles. The creatures you encounter are weird and unsettling, and the line between fantasy and reality is constantly blurred as you navigate a surreal, ever-changing world. For much of the game you explore pitch-dark rooms with the help of a flashlight, and your limited visibility ratchets up the tension. But the scariest aspect of Silent Hill is its eerie white noise sound effects that increase in volume as danger approaches. The tension can reach unbearable proportions, making it difficult to play the game alone or with the lights out. I thought I was going to cry
at one point! There are plenty of "find the key" puzzles but they tend to be more thought-provoking than frustrating. I found myself slowly sucked into the game despite my growing anxiety. Silent Hill may just be the best horror video game ever made. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Working Designs (1999)
Publisher: Electronic Arts (1999)
Publisher: D3 Publisher (2000)
I recently picked this up for 99 cents at a local game shop. It's generic as hell but I found it refreshing to go "back to the basics". Snowboarding offers two basic modes. In race mode you try to beat three competitors down a hill and trick mode challenges you to top their scores. In addition to CPU competitors you can also challenge a friend via split-screen. The graphics are not bad at all, with a digitized moutain backdrop that blends in nicely with the foreground polygon graphics. The trail is constrained by invisible walls but the slopes have nice natural features and even a few alternate paths. The controls are responsive enough to navigate the twisting terrain, although I found it odd how there's a "tight turn" button and a "really really tight turn" button. While trying to straighten yourself out you might find yourself weaving from side-to-side. The fact that you can't crash eases the frustration but also limits the intensity - especially when it comes to executing tricks. Snowboarding does have a few nice bells and whistles. I like how you gradually unlock a grid of courses, even if they are just slight variations on the original. Should you earn a top-five time the game prompts for your initials and saves to them memory card. You can select your music before each race, and I found the gentle piano of "Aurora" to be very soothing. Snowboarding may be a simple pleasure but it's arguably more appealing than most modern snowboarding titles. © Copyright 2017 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: XS Games (2002)
Rating: Everyone (violence)
As the release of PS1 games has slowed to a trickle, I've noticed that most new titles tend to be derivative and low quality. Sol Divide however caught me by surprise with its old school style. The Playstation was never known for its 2D games, but Sol Divide is classic 2D all the way. It's like one of those old medieval hack-n-slash games (Golden Axe comes to mind) - only without the gravity. That's right, your warrior floats around
, as do your enemies, which include eyeballs, skeletons, wizards, and dragon-riders. Sol Divide looks like a shooter from a distance, but hand-to-hand combat is much more effective than your weak projectiles. That's too bad, because close combat also means you'll sustain constant cheap hits. A guard would have come in handy! Fortunately, almost every defeated enemy drops some kind of health or power-up to sustain your energy. Your warrior can also cast of number of powerful spells, including fire, thunder, freeze, lightning, and the all-powerful "death" spell. Graphically, Sol Divide is stunning. The magnificent fantasy backgrounds are a sight to behold, some looking nearly photographic
. Digitized bosses like dragons, golems, and minotaurs appear to have been animated using stop-motion techniques like those used in films like Clash of the Titans
. Sol Divide could have been a surprise hit if it played like a conventional shooter. As it is, it looks better than it plays. Other drawbacks include lack of memory card support, and the fact that you don't even get a score! Even so, the extraordinary visuals kept me wanting to see what the next stage had in store. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Namco (1997)
As the predecessor of the Soul Calibur games, Soul Blade is a high-quality 3D fighter with fighters who brandish weapons like swords, poles, hammers, daggers, and clubs. This is easily one of the best looking fighters you'll find on the Playstation, and its music video intro is absolutely incredible. The bouts take place on raised platforms, and in one particularly impressive stage you battle on a raft drifting down a river. The variety of weapons allow for some innovative moves, and the gameplay tends to be fast and furious. The two-player versus mode is great, but there's also a cool story mode that lets you collect and upgrade your weapons. Easy to play and easy on the eyes, Soul Blade is a stand-out fighter for the Playstation. © Copyright 1999 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Activision (1999)
Activision likes to reintroduce old classics with a new coat of pain, but this effort was less than successful. Granted, Space Invader's updated graphics are fine, with large 3D aliens and fantastic explosions, but where's the challenge? In the original arcade game, even clearing one
wave was a major accomplishment, but here the waves of invaders are nothing but warm-ups for bosses. And with the exception of the very first boss, those are easy as well! Part of the problem is the huge size of the invaders, which makes them hard to miss! The high-altitude mother ships, which required excellent sharp-shooting skills in the original game, are sitting ducks here. I also noticed that Activision went way
overboard with the power-ups. Once you obtain a shield and double-shot, you're pretty much unstoppable. You'll be playing till the cows come home - and hating
every minute of it! And remember those protective barriers of the arcade game? In this edition, they not only protect you, but blow up any invaders they touch! The original Space Invaders game is included in this package, but only if you complete the disappointing "updated" version. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Jaleco (1998)
The best thing about this rare game is the intro, which plays the entire animated opening of the Speed Racer TV show. That catchy theme song was the soundtrack to my childhood! "Adventure's waiting just ahead!"
. Too bad the game itself is just a mediocre Ridge Racer clone. It's hard to complain about the graphics though. The frame-rate is surprisingly smooth and there are three good-looking tracks included, although they do "overlap" (a la Ridge Racer). You have all the Mach-5 accessories at your disposal, including the auto-jack (jumping), the rotary saws (cutting trees), the special tire belts (rough terrain), and even the homing pigeon. So far, it sounds like a dream come true for Speed Racer fans, right? Sadly, this game never lives up to its potential. The accessories are only useful on the not-so-hidden shortcuts, and activating the correct one while driving is a major hassle. Cutting through grassy hedges doesn't slow you down, so cutting corners is the order of the day. The audio is really bad. An annoying announcer repeats the same phrases over and over, and the sountrack is weak. There's no two-player mode, and the analog controller is not
supported. In the end it looks like Jaleco took a generic racing game and slapped the Speed Racer license on top of it. Gotta love that theme song though! © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Empire (2000)
Yes, it's another puzzle game, but this one isn't a Tetris clone. No, Spin Jam quite original, not to mention surprisingly fun and addictive. Played on a rotating, flower-shaped playing field, you shoot colored bubbles into the "petals" from the center, attempting to burst them all. Clearly Spin Jam was inspired by another classic puzzle game, Bust A Move. Before each game, you select a Pokemon-type character, but as far as I can tell, these have no effect on the actual gameplay. In the single player game, you must complete stages that gradually increase in difficulty, and once you get the hang of it, you'll be hooked. There's not much in the way of graphics, but the catchy electronic music takes me back to my 16-bit days. Spin Jam's gameplay is fun enough, but the user interface could use some serious work. First off, the main menu is in dire need of text
! Does Empire really expect people to know what those weird icons are supposed to mean? In addition, the two-player split screen mode is a major letdown. Instead of clearing stages, both players participate in one never-ending stage, and things get out of hand right away. For the solo player however, Spin Jam is a safe bet. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Sony (1998)
This impressive, go-anywhere adventure puts you in control of a cute, fire-breathing baby dragon . Spyro's cartoonish graphics look superb and its stages are absolutely huge. Unlike other games of its time, you can see areas far
away, allowing you to glide from high peaks to distant locations. Spyro's ability to glide is great fun, as is using his fire breath as a weapon. The scenery in Spyro the Dragon has a cool medieval thing happening that I find appealing. The difficulty climbs at a gradual pace until you reach the "big tree top" stage, which is insanely hard. Aside from that however Spyro is a charming little adventure that will appeal to all ages. © Copyright 1999 The Video Game Critic.
Star Wars: Dark Forces
Publisher: LucasArts (1995)
This may have been great on the PC, but Dark Forces on the Playstation gives me a massive headache
. It's a remarkably sloppy first-person shooter, and its only redeeming feature is the fact that it's set in the Star Wars universe. You assume the role of a generic rebel named Kyle Katarn who is attempting to thwart the activation of the Empire's latest weapon. I found the game practically unplayable, mainly due to the pitiful framerate. The action is so choppy that it's difficult to navigate or aim with any
degree of precision. There's only one strafe button, and using a shoulder button to aim up or down is a real drag. Dark Forces doesn't even look
good, suffering from ugly textures and poorly-designed stages. In one particularly atrocious stage, you're forced to crawl around in a sewer for what seems like an eternity. The stormtroopers and Imperial Officers appear short and squat, but I do like how they fall back as you mow them down. Dark Forces is strong on the audio tip. The musical score is intense, and its familiar sound effects are lifted straight from the films. But that's a small consolation. Technically deficient and devoid of fun, I can't even recommend Dark Forces to Star Wars fans. © Copyright 2005 The Video Game Critic.
Star Wars: Episode One The Phantom Menace
Publisher: LucasArts (1999)
Phantom Menace is a great-looking game that loosely recreates the film's storyline. All of the diverse movie environments are rendered in colorful 3D, and superb cut-scenes effectively glue the stages together. The voice acting is also commendable, despite not
having been done by all the original actors. That brings us to the gameplay. How come whenever a game allows you to save at any point, it overcompensates by being incredibly difficult and frustrating? Yes, you will need the patience of a saint (or better yet a cheat code) to make it all the way through this perilous adventure. The analog control is sufficient for walking around, but leaping across narrow columns (a common task) is frustrating as hell! Another problem is the limited overhead view some stages offer. It's reasonable when your direction is clear, but in expansive areas like Mos Eisley you're forced to "feel" your way around the edges. The lightsaber controls allow you to skillfully deflect laser bolts, but there are so many frickin' enemies
that you're often overwhelmed. Phantom Menace has its share of action sequences, but too much of its gameplay revolves around tedious puzzle solving. In the end, the frustration outweighs the fun. A music video is included as a bonus, but it looks terribly grainy. Phantom Menace should attract a lot of Star Wars fans, but only die-hards will be able to see it through to the end. © Copyright 2005 The Video Game Critic.
Star Wars: Jedi Power Battles
Publisher: LucasArts (2000)
Oh yes, this is the game
Star Wars fans have been waiting for! In contrast to last year's Phantom Menace
, Power Battles doesn't waste your time with tedious puzzles. No, this is non-stop arcade action, much like the SNES Star Wars games - only this time in 3D. You can play as one of five Jedi knights, slashing your way through all the imaginative locations you saw in the film, from the metropolises of Coruscant to the jungles of Naboo. Best of all, two players can battle side-by-side. The graphics are clean and sharp, and the character movements look realistic. The stages are linear and each culminate with the obligatory boss encounter (although most are not
from the film). A clever control scheme allows you to deflect laser blasts back
at the enemy (block after they fire). Interestingly, the main problem with Power Battles is the same one that plagued its 2D ancestors - frustrating platform jumping! Chances are, you'll deplete most of your lives by falling off cliffs, which typically send you all the way back to the previous checkpoint (arrggh!). This problem is exacerbated in the two-player mode, where both characters are expected to make the same difficult leaps at the same time
! Give me a break! Jedi Power Battles does have an "easy" difficulty setting, but that won't make the jumps any easier. Even so, Power Battles looks terrific and packs a great deal of action and excitement. © Copyright 2005 The Video Game Critic.
Star Wars: Masters of Teras Kasi
Publisher: LucasArts (1997)
Star Wars: Rebel Assault II
Publisher: LucasArts (1995)
Rating: Kids to Adults
This game is a bastard child of the full-motion video (FMV) craze of the mid-90's. Long on graphics but short on gameplay, Rebel Assault II is a collection of target-shooting and ship navigation stages loosely held together by less-than-captivating live-action cut-scenes. Filmed against fake-looking matte paintings, the actors used props left over from the three original movies. The acting performances are abysmal - and thank God - because otherwise these scenes would have been completely
forgettable. Rebel Assault's 15 stages include space battles, stormtrooper shootouts, tunnel navigating, and even a speeder bike chase in the woods. The first stage has you simply shooting at Tie Fighters, and this rekindled fond memories of Star Wars: The Arcade Game (1983). Rebel Assault's visuals are great, but its controls leave much to be desired. The shooting crosshairs don't feel responsive and the collision detection is lacking. For example, shooting a stormtrooper in the head doesn't seem to register - but a body shot will. The stages where you navigate through tunnels or canyons can be a nightmare, and memorization is usually more critical than skill. The stormtrooper stages would be ideal for a lightgun, but sadly my gun couldn't reach the edge of the screen. One aspect that really saves the game is its tremendous audio. The rousing musical score (taken directly from the films) is inspirational and occasionally exhilarating. Rebel Assault features a slick stage select screen, and it even saves your high scores. It may be a bit shallow, but based on looks alone, Rebel Assault II should attract Star Wars fans. © Copyright 2005 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Mindscape (1996)
Rating: Mature (blood and violence)
Street Fighter Alpha
Publisher: Capcom (1995)
After endless iterations of Street Fighter 2, most fighting fans were primed for Street Fighter 3. Instead, Capcom released the ambiguous "Alpha" series, suggesting these games were actually prequels
(rolling eyes now). That was lame, but as a rabid fan I was powerless to resist this tantalizing new chapter. While purchasing the game at Best Buy I recall the cashier telling me how jealous he was, and then proceeding to slam
the game on the counter in an attempt to remove the plastic security box. Later I would discover he inadvertently smashed
the bottom of the box (sigh). I took the game over my friend George's house where me and the guys used to congregate on Monday nights (while slamming beers and watching football). Everybody was totally psyched until we realized how super-long the loading screens were! I swear we spent more time staring at "Now Loading..." than actually playing
the freakin' thing. It's a shame because Street Fighter Alpha is a rock-solid 2D fighter. The characters are larger and better animated than previous entries. The backgrounds and music use the same anime style as past Street Fighter games, but are less memorable. The Bourdon Street stage is attractive enough, but other areas like the train depot and Great Wall look bland. The Coliseum stage reminded me of the fight between Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris in "Return of the Dragon". The game itself plays well and the special combo gauge adds depth. Street Fighter Alpha is actually more enjoyable today
because you can play it from the faster-loading PS2. Street Fighter Alpha is nice to own for collecting purposes, but for optimal fighting pleasure I would direct you to its sequel, Street Fighter Alpha 2. © Copyright 2011 The Video Game Critic.
Street Fighter Alpha 2
Publisher: Capcom (1996)
Street Fighter Alpha 3
Publisher: Capcom (1999)
Street Fighter Collection
Publisher: Capcom (1997)
Rating: Teen (animated violence)
Street Fighter Collection 2
Publisher: Capcom (1998)
Rating: Teen (animated violence)
Logically speaking, this is what the first
Street Fighter collection should have been, offering the first three iterations of the insanely popular Street Fighter 2 series on a single disk. Street Fighter 2: The World Warrior is an arcade-perfect port of the original one-on-one fighting bonanza, featuring eight colorful characters hailing from around the globe. The Championship edition provides the ability to play as the four bosses, and tweaks the special moves somewhat (including the addition of Honda's cheap moving hand-slap). Turbo Hyper Fighting gives the action a speed boost, and once you get used to the faster pace, it's hard to go back to the original game. My friend Chris who is a certified Street Fighter fanatic steadfastly maintains that Street Fighter 2 Turbo was the high point of the entire Street Fighter franchise. This disk also includes artwork, useful tips, and even unlockable secrets. An arcade style joystick is recommended for maximum enjoyment. The load times are respectable, but the game has no auto-save, which is a bummer. Street Fighter Collection 2 is not only a great package but a nice piece of history as well. Note: These games are also available on PS2 compilations. © Copyright 2008 The Video Game Critic.
Street Fighter EX Plus Alpha
Publisher: Capcom (1997)
Most Street Fighter games have aged like wine over the years, but EX Plus Alpha? Not so much!
This much-maligned title marked the series' temporary but ill-advised foray into the realm of 3D. It didn't help to be saddled with the title "Street Fighter EX Plus Alpha" - an absolute abomination
of a name! Not only does this lack a real name, but its lacks an identity
. Let's face it - this could be any generic 3D fighter. Yes, there are a few familiar faces, but mostly a bunch of oddball newcomers (don't even get me started with the ridiculous "Skullomania"). The character models are very blocky, and even the blonde bombshell Blair looks positively chunky
. The backgrounds are dull and flat, as if little or no effort was put into them. Despite the bland visuals, the animation is fairly smooth. The action occurs on a 2D plane, although fancy throws are depicted via dramatic camera angles. A few are somewhat impressive, like how Dhalsim slithers around his opponent's body before throwing them down. It's very easy to initiate throws in this game (intentionally or otherwise), so you'll be seeing plenty. EX is playable but doesn't have that crisp, responsive feel of a real Street Fighter game. The music covers a wide range, but some of the tunes seem jazzy and inappropriate. Street Fighter EX Plus Alpha is the unholy bastard child of Tekken and Street Fighter. It may have been an interesting novelty item in the late 90's, but now it's just bad. My friend Chris claims this game is not worthy of the Street Fighter name, and I think he's right. © Copyright 2008 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Capcom (2000)
Publisher: Agetec (2001)
As the owner of the Neo Geo (MVS) version of Strikers 1945, I was expecting this PS1 edition to be a second-rate translation - at best
. Well, that's not the case at all. This vertical airplane shooter is every bit as fun as the Neo Geo edition, and its graphics are actually sharper, brighter, and more colorful. I've played Dreamcast shooters
that don't look this good! The green and brown-tinged landscapes are nearly photo-realistic, and even with hundreds of moving objects there's no slow-down to complain about. You get your pick of six different souped-up WWII-era planes, and I love how your selection determines your starting stage. One or two players can unleash a devastating degree of rapid-fire mayhem, and plentiful weapon icons boost your firepower to the brink of insanity. When all else fails, unleash a "support attack" which pretty much obliterates everything on the screen (and serves as a shield to boot). Under the normal difficulty you'll need to use these just to escape imminent death every 15 seconds or so. The game offers two play modes with really bad names: "original 1" and "original 2". Both are "boxed" by black bars, but the second mode shifts the screen in an unsightly way, so avoid it. Striker's difficulty is up there, so be sure to turn the skill level down to very easy (or lower)! Rankings are saved to memory card. Strikers 1945 arrived late for the system, so a lot of people missed out on this under-appreciated shooter. Don't be one of them. © Copyright 2013 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 196,900
1 or 2 players
Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo
Publisher: Capcom (1997)
Rating: Kinds to Adults
Publisher: 989 Studios (1999)
Despite what you've heard, Syphon Filter is not
a lousy Metal Gear Solid clone with a dumb name. No, this is a a very good
Metal Gear Solid clone with a dumb name! This third-person espionage thriller features action comparable to the Die Hard movies. You begin in downtown Washington DC, trying to foil the plans of a terrorist leader and his operatives who are planting bombs in the subway. Although the graphics lack the style of MGS, Syphon FIlter seems to contain more mayhem, blood, and explosions. Dramatic "action movie" music adds to the tension, and the effectively use of footsteps and enemy voices add realism. The controls are responsive, although turning around quickly can be a problem. The vibration function is particularly effective, mimicking everything from the kick-back of a shotgun to rumble of a passing subway train. There are seventeen weapons that you'll find pretty much lying all over the place. The missions are well-designed with a female guide that provides regular updates over your radio. Thankfully, Syphon Filter is also a very forgiving game, providing plenty of flak jackets and checkpoints. If you finished Metal Gear Solid and want more along those lines, check this out. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.
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