[A] [B] [C] [D] [E] [F] [G] [H] [I] [J] [K] [L] [M] [N] [O] [P-Q] [R] S [T] [U-V] [W-Z]
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.
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.
The developer (Treasure) would later use a similar scheme in their cult-hit Ikaruga (GameCube, 2003), but at least in that game enemies were either black or white. Here, they come in all shapes and colors, including green jack-o-lanterns, blonde rag dolls, tiny fairies, and big stomping mechs. It's rarely obvious which enemies respond to what color, and when it comes to bosses, it seems like you're always on the wrong side! You can "flip" your color via the triangle button, but that initiates a tedious animation.
Making matters worse are an excessive number of moves, some of which look effective (like the "grand slam") but apparently inflict zero damage. Then there are various colored meters and indicators whose purpose is never clear. In addition to non-intuitive gameplay, Silhouette Mirage has an incomprehensible storyline conveyed through endless text dialogue. I'm sure Treasure fans will eat up the whimsical prose, but others will just be annoyed.
On the bright side, the game's production values are definitely "up there". Clever use of scaling and rotation facilitate some nifty effects, including satisfying explosions with chunks of metal flying every which way. There's a beautiful castle and an appealing downtown stage with a striking night skyline. The game does have its moments, including a funny encounter with a lizard sporting an outrageous Australian accent. In the city, people in an apartment complex get mad at you for making noise and begin throwing TVs and other appliances.
Despite the sporadic humor, Silhouette Mirage comes off as one big inside joke. After completing each frantic stage I found myself asking, "What the hell was that all about?!" My friend Jonathan (and long-time Treasure fan) defended the game by saying "You have to be in the mood for it" and "I've played much worse." Denial can be an ugly thing. © Copyright 2008 The Video Game Critic.
The controls are simple but you have the ability to lean into your turns. Catching air and performing tricks lets you rack up points for upgrades, but sometimes it's not worth the risk of a wreck. I love how the sleds bounce softly over the slopes and kick up snow behind them. The courses are ideal in length and come in two flavors: snocross and open mountain. The snocross tracks are closed motorcross-style courses with banked turns and bumpy sections.
I prefer the mountain tracks that wind through scenic forests and along harrowing cliffs. Ramps and hidden shortcuts are abundant and add replay value. You can destroy obstacles like fences and snowmen for points, and I earned 7500 points for running over a rabbit (and yes, I feel bad about that). The steering feels about right and sliding along icy patches is especially fun.
The single-player championship is addictive, and I like how CPU racers tend to wipe out, giving you a chance to come from behind. That's important considering you need to finish first to advance. The soundtrack is dominated by Rob Zombie's blaring "Dragula", but it could be worse, right? Not really! It seems like every "extreme" game of the late 1990's had to license that annoying song. Still, this game is one of the best of its kind. Whether playing alone or against friends, Sled Storm provides ageless competitive winter racing action. © Copyright 2013 The Video Game Critic.
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 them to 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.
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 a 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.
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.
The thoughtfully-designed controls use the shoulder buttons to power slide, boost, and use items. Items collected are typically weapons like missiles, bombs, or slime. I found the races to be well-balanced and fair. Obviously you'll be the target of more attacks when you're in first place, but if you build up a substantial lead you will likely prevail. I guess my biggest knock is the lackluster sensation of speed. Even the speed boosts are practically imperceptible.
The tracks are fun, and all feature multiple paths. I love the purplish-blue hue of the neon city and the cozy vibe of midnight cove. Each course is short enough that the default five laps feels just about right. They are forgiving as well. If you crash you'll only be dazed momentarily, and sliding off the main drag often places you on an alternate path. There are shortcuts to discover and most are not-so-obvious.
The audio is surprisingly strong. You'd expect the kids to be irritating but their laughs and childish banter are kept to a minimum. Excellent audio effects include the sound of splashing water fountains and jets roaring overhead. The understated musical score is very chill and relaxing.
Unlocking all the tracks in single-player mode alone is worth the price of admission, but you also get split-screen modes supporting up to four players. The tracks can be a little hard to follow with the screen divided four ways but the frame-rate remains impressively smooth.
Speed Punks won me over with its fresh, light-hearted brand of cart racing mayhem. The game saves records and offers a slew of bonus modes. If you overlooked this gem, now might be a good time to finally track down a copy. © Copyright 2022 The Video Game Critic.
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 soundtrack 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.
The animation is actually quite smooth as you glide between buildings, beating up angular thugs with fuzzy faces. Since the PS1 can't render distances well most stages take place under the cover of night, with gulfs of blackness between buildings. Most stages are very linear or confined to a limited area, like a small city block.
The controls are the absolute worst. One of your first tasks is to yank open a fire hydrant to extinguish a fire. Seems simple enough right? Would you believe I had to consult a [expletive] FAQ to figure out how to do this?! It turns out you hold L2 to target the hydrant, and then simultaneously press triangle and "down" on the directional pad. If you think that sounds unnecessarily complicated you'd better get used to it. The bulk of the moves listed in the manual require you hitting bizarre button combinations.
And the buttons aren't even responsive half the time! There were times when I attempted to swing over to a building on my web (R2) only to plunge helplessly to my death. I would expect the jump button to help me scale buildings, but instead it detaches my grip, once again sending me plummeting into the abyss.
And don't even get me started about that [expletive]ed-up camera. It tries to point in the direction you're facing, which turns out to be a terrible system. You can't even find enemies around you, much less locate a fire in the vicinity. Your Spider-compass is only available at certain times, and rarely when you really need it.
The cut-scenes are passable. Spider-Man dishes out his share of smart-ass quips and bad guys fire back clever retorts like "You're dead, do-gooder!" Prompts to save your progress are few and far between - normally after boss battles. Spider-Man 2 is a lousy game. You'll try with all your might to defeat the bad guys but the main villain turns out to be the controls. © Copyright 2021 The Video Game Critic.
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.
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.
You will need the patience of a Jedi 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 some 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.
Assuming the role of Jedi Knights, you and a friend slash your way through locations inspired from the film like the desert of Tatooine, the metropolis of Coruscant, and the swamps of Naboo. Five playable characters include Obi Wan, Qui Gon Jinn, Mace Windu, Adi Gallia, and some oddball named Plo Koon.
Power Battles begins with Obi Wan and Qui Gon arriving on the Trade Federation ship. I loved this part of the film, but this game stretches it (along with every other scene) to exhausting lengths!
It's fun to slice through battle droids using wide-ranging side slashes or powerful overhead strikes. Sometimes you can trick them into shooting each other. A well-timed block will deflect a laser blast directly back at the source, and it's the coolest move in the game by far. Unfortunately enemies become increasingly resistant to your lightsaber slashes to the point where you wonder if you'd be better off trading your lightsaber for an [expletive] baseball bat.
The analog controls could be better. It seems like you can never approach anything without taking a roundabout path. There's nothing more frustrating than struggling to face a battle droid that's standing next to you! In swamps of Naboo these droids tend to gang up on you. You try to keep your distance but there's always one that runs up and starts kicking you in the crotch repeatedly. That's just disrespectful.
The game expects you to perform a lot of perilous jumps, and trying to orchestrate these with two players seems nearly impossible. While dialing the difficulty down might make fighting easier, it won't protect you from plunging to your death, which is how you'll exhaust most of your lives.
You'll face a lot of familiar villains including Sandpeople, Greedos, and Darth Maul. But the highlight of the game may be John Williams' epic soundtrack, which makes every stage feel positively momentous. Likewise its crisp digitized audio effects are lifted directly from the film. These really elevate Jedi Power Battles to a new level, making you feel as if you're in a real Star Wars movie. © Copyright 2022 The Video Game Critic.
The all-star lineup includes Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Leia, Chewbacca, a Tusken Raider, and everybody's favorite bounty hunter, Boba Fett. There's also a chick named Arden Lyn who's never even appeared in any of the movies. I suspect she was included to boost the number of female fighters (to two). While each character has his own unique combat skills, none lend themselves particularly well to hand-to-hand combat. Example: the Tusken Raider has a frickin' stick for a weapon. How can he be expected to compete against Boba Fett, armed with a blaster and rocket?
It doesn't take much of an imagination to think of even more lopsided match-ups. The entire premise is ludicrous, which becomes painfully obvious when you actually try to play the thing. The special moves are very hard to execute, and get this - shooting your blaster is considered a special move! That's right - you actually need to execute a complicated sequence of button presses simply to pull the trigger! You'll be playing as Han Solo, and Leia will be beating the living [expletive] out of you as you try in vain to get off a single shot! Heck, with controls this bad a Jawa could kick Han's ass.
In terms of graphics, the quality is uneven. The fighter selection scenes feature awesome rotating holographs, but in combat the fighters look far less impressive, with chunky bodies and faces that border on hilarious. Incidentally, LucasArts put a lot of effort into the lighting effects. Talk about misplaced priorities! They're hardly spectacular, and the background scenery is incredibly dull! Masters of Teras Kasi is what happens when a substandard concept is poorly executed. Did anything good come out of this game? Yes, a newfound appreciation for Tekken. © Copyright 2005 The Video Game Critic.
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.
I was expecting the game itself to be a 3D adventure but it's more like a free-range shooter. You control a digitized babe infected by aliens from space. Her transformation failed to improve her acting but it did make her about ten times hotter. Weilding a pair of high-powered guns and a thong, this chick blasts spawning aliens while saving aimless humans. It's kind like Robotron 2084 (Atari 7800, 1986) - if you could imagine that game being 3D and really bad. Enemies include Terminators and dogs with freaking lasers mounted to their heads.
The controls really suffer from a lack of strafe. You're forced to run toward enemies to kill them, often colliding with them in the process. Steel Harbinger is best played with the camera pulled far back, but this makes the graphics appear muddy and harder to discern. Each mission feels like a wild goose chase as you frantically scour the post-apocalyptic landscape for some elusive object. There's a surprising amount of gore, with body parts strewn all over the place. I like the idea of entering houses and buildings, but all you'll find is one big empty room.
The visual highlight is the arctic base with blizzard conditions that serves as the hub of the game. The other stages are disappointing. LA is just a repetitive maze of canals. Las Vegas is a depressing wasteland and you're the only hooker in sight. A title like Steel Harbinger is fascinating to look back on, but man it's almost impossible to take a game like this seriously. © Copyright 2019 The Video Game Critic.
I took the game over a friend'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 was the pinnacle of the Alpha series, raising the high water mark for 2D fighting in general. It added three new fighters (Gen, Sakura, Rolento) and brought back old favorites Zangief and Dhalsim. Easy to learn but hard to master, this game has incredible depth and playability. For hardcore players the super gauge has multiple levels of power and you can even perform custom combos.
The stages have been given a visual overhaul and are far more intriguing. I'll never forget the first time I saw that hulking Harrier jet plane rise up behind my character in the Hong Kong stage. In another stage you can see a kid in a window playing a video game. And what's not to like about the party cruise stage with scantily clad Darkstalkers mingling with the crowd? It just goes to show that hand-drawn, 2D backgrounds will beat 3D-rendered backdrops any day of the week.
So what is the best version of Alpha 2? To find out, Chris and I first played a few rounds with the Saturn version. After getting my ass handed to me repeatedly, we were primed to try the Playstation edition. Chris meticulously examined the graphics, audio, and controls. He was determined to declare that one of the two versions had the edge. After literally minutes of deliberation an exasperated Chris came to a stunning conclusion: They were exactly the same!
That's right, he couldn't find any substantial differences between the two games! The Saturn version does include an extra survival mode and illustration library, but they don't carry any weight. In terms of sheer gameplay, both are equally superb. So finally, after 15 years of non-stop trash talking, Playstation and Saturn fans everywhere can put their differences aside and embrace each other in the spirit of peace and harmony. © Copyright 2011 The Video Game Critic.
Although widely regarded as a stopgap measure to tide gamers over until Street Fighter 3, the Alpha series actually did a remarkable job of maintaining the classic formula while expanding the roster and enriching the gameplay. As the last edition of the Alpha series, this game is pretty freaking amazing. The huge 32 character roster includes many new faces and old favorites like Honda and Blanka.
In terms of presentation, Alpha 3 is off the charts, with flashy set-up screens dishing out the eye candy faster than you can absorb it. The gameplay is deeper than ever, allowing the player to choose between three fighting styles (X-ism, A-ism, V-ism) which affect the complexity of executing super moves. The action is fast and furious, although matches tend to run longer than traditional Street Fighter bouts.
The only thing that didn't impress me about SFA3 is the uneven quality of the background graphics. Some stages look grainy and washed out, and most lack the personality and clever animations Street Fighter fans have come to expect. Likewise the music isn't particularly memorable. In addition to arcade and versus modes, there's a World Tour mode that lets you adopt a character and pump up his abilities by completing a series of challenges. Alpha 3's load times are minimal and there's a convenient auto-save. I would probably argue that the Alpha Series peaked at number 2, but this third edition still packs a wallop. Note: This game is also available on a PS2 compilation. © Copyright 2008 The Video Game Critic.
The first game in this collection, Super Street Fighter 2, was actually the fourth game in the series. It introduced four new characters: Cammy, Dee Jay, Fei Long, and Thunderhawk. This arcade port gave me a new respect for the SNES version, which features identical graphics but better audio. The music here sounds a bit harsh, and the voices muffled.
The second game is Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo. It offers a lot of minor tweaks, but its primary claim-to-fame is its three levels of "turbo speed". Some Street Fighter fans insist on cranking up the speed, but I personally find it too frantic when both players are hopping around like fleas.
The third and final game in this collection is Street Fighter Alpha 2 Gold, which comes as a shock to the system. The fighters are more detailed and rendered in more of an anime style. Quite different from the other two games, most of Alpha's characters are brand new, and a fresh set of backgrounds provide for some memorable scenes. The men's room stage is very comical (with guys at the urinals), and the huge hovering jet in the downtown stage looks amazing. In one stage you can actually see a little kid playing an NES through the window of a house!
Alpha's gameplay ups the ante with advanced techniques like a super combo bar, custom combos, and alpha counters. The super-combos provide a satisfying way of turning the tables when you're down. I noticed the bouts in Alpha last longer because attacks tend to incur less damage. I'm not sure what the "Gold" indicates in the title, but this is probably the best Street Fighter game I've played (including Alpha 3 and Street Fighter 3).
I would definitely recommend using an arcade-style joystick with all of these games, because the digital pad of the standard Playstation controller is pretty stiff to be executing "sweeping" motions. Considering this is a two-disc package, Street Fighter Collection seems a little sparse, offering no bonus material. The load times are modest, but there's no auto-save feature. All things considered however, this is a pretty outstanding collection. Note: These games are also available on PS2 compilations. © Copyright 2008 The Video Game Critic.
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.
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.
The main character "Hiryu" can climb on anything, and he can swing his sword in a rapid-fire manner at the endless hordes of ninjas and levitating robots. A double-jump move is a welcome new addition, as is the "boost" meter which augments your slashes with heat-seeking "waves" of light! The fantastic intro stage has you leaping between buildings at night with a gorgeous city skyline looming in the background. From there you'll visit a castle, a lab at the South Pole, and finally, a space station.
The jumping and slashing platform action is great, with bad guys that explode impressively and leave blue coins in their wake. You'll face some truly imaginative adversaries like bird-men armed with hockey sticks, and outrageous bosses like a robotic woolly mammoth! Strider 2 might seem boss-heavy, but none of them take long to defeat. Each stage is divided into several brief encounters, and you're constantly being whisked off to new locations. Between stages the storyline is conveyed via slick illustrations which look absolutely razor-sharp - even on my big plasma TV.
Fans of the original Strider will witness many familiar sights, including a winding dragon you can climb on and a gravity-defying stage with a floating "core". Strider 2 has a whimsical side as well, with pixelated icons shaped like cows serving as bonuses. The only thing that bothered me about Strider 2 is its unlimited continues, which allows you to complete the game in roughly an hour.
It's still possible to play for the best time and score however, which are saved to memory card. The option menu includes a rapid-fire option to help avoid thumb strain. Strider 2's second disk holds an arcade-perfect version of the original Strider game, which is yet another fantastic game. I took Strider 2 for granted back in the day, but I won't be making that mistake again. NOTE: Interestingly, the disc containing Strider 2 is (mis)labeled as "Strider", and the one with Strider is labeled as "Strider 2". © Copyright 2008 The Video Game Critic.
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 lousy 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.
Each side of the screen features a rectangular box that colorful gems fall into, one by one. You stack gems strategically, using the occasional "crash gem" to clear all gems of the same color. It's simple enough for beginners to grasp, yet experts can plan and execute elaborate chain reactions. When your opponent performs a combo, "counter gems" with numbers on them fall into your side. These turn into regular gems after several turns, but in the meantime they tend to pile up and muck with your plans.
Puzzle Fighter's gameplay is enjoyable but less intuitive than other puzzle games like Tetris 2 or Bust a Move. Even after becoming fairly good at it, I never felt as if I had fully grasped all the rules. Capcom fans will be delighted with the graphics and sound. The backgrounds are mini-versions of stages from the fighting games, and some of the music is remixed versions of familiar tunes. Some of the new music is excellent, particularly the song that plays throughout the Chun Li stage. Most of the sound effects are taken directly from Street Fighter II.
An arcade mode allows you to play the CPU for high score, which is recorded to memory card. The CPU opponent is pretty relentless, and if you let him stick around for too long, prepare for an avalanche of counter gems. There's also a head-to-head versus mode and a puzzle mode that lets you unlock goodies. Puzzle Fighter might not be the most addictive puzzle game around, but it may be the most stylish. © Copyright 2009 The Video Game Critic.
Surfing games can be tough. If you don't know what you're doing you'll have your ass handed to you repeatedly. After selecting a surfer and board combination you're thrust into the waters off Australia where the waves are as big as the sharks. Any hopes that this game might "hold your hand" at first are quickly dissipated. Ominous waves bear down on you as the game implodes you to "pull up!" Problem is, when you push the "pull up" button (triangle) you just wipe out.
It turns out you need to paddle around and get perpendicular to the wave before trying to stand. Once upright it's not hard to remain "in the tube". You can then carve from side to side to gain speed, or hold in X to slow down. It's all pretty intense because you can barely see yourself and one false move spells disaster.
The square button lets you intiate quick turns, but it's so touchy you tend to wipe out. The jumps are more satisfying but counter-intuitive. You need to "charge" your jump while pressing a direction, and release at the lip of the wave. That's hard to do while trying to maintain your position in the wave. If you do manage to land after launching off a wave and spinning in the air, it's a good feeling. You might even catch a glimpse of a dolphin in the background mimicking your moves.
I like the tournament format. You get two minutes per heat, but can take as many tries as you want to during that period, with only your best runs counting. Each round takes place in a different location and they all have their own look and feel. Progress is saved between rounds. It's really hard to compete with the CPU competitors however, even when you put together a string of decent runs.
I love the fun-in-the-sun vibe with foamy waves and semi-transparent tubes. There's some nice beach imagery between rounds, although I wish it were digitized instead of hand drawn. The music features classic surfing guitar tunes that really get you into the spirit. Surf Riders has a learning curve, but once you get over the hump you're in for a good time. © Copyright 2022 The Video Game Critic.
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 effective 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 the 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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Screen shots courtesy of IGN.com, Moby Games, Gaming Age Online, GameSpot, Rotten Tomatoes, GameFAQs.com, Playstation Museum, YouTube, Video Games Museum, Game Fabrique