SNK Arcade Classics Volume 1
Publisher: SNK Playmore (2008)
Truth be told, you really can't go wrong with these old game compilations. This one in particular contains rare games that would run you literally thousands of dollars if you were to buy the original cartridges off Ebay. The Neo Geo was the Rolls Royce of consoles in the mid-90's, boasting arcade-perfect games that cost $200 a pop. While its graphics were limited to large 2D sprites, its games have aged like wine. This 16-game collection offers a wide spectrum of arcade fun, ranging from sports (Baseball Stars 2, Super Sidekicks 3) to shooters (Last Resort, Metal Slug) to platformers (Magician Lord, Top Hunter). And let's not forget SNK's specialty: one-on-one fighters! You can slug it out with Fatal Fury, Art of Fighting, World Heroes, and King of Fighters 94. This package contains a pair of super-rare titles that alone are worth the price of admission. The original Metal Slug is a fantastic shooter which spawned a beloved franchise which continues to this day. Neo Turf Masters is an exceptional golf game that's both easy to play and fast-moving. In other words, it's everything real
I really love the bubbly female Asian commentator who exclaims "It's on the gween!
" The emulation is generally good, although I did notice substantial slow-down in Shock Troopers. The customization options are disappointing, limiting you to pre-defined combinations of difficulty, lives, and continues. High scores are saved to memory card. I prefer the Wii version, but SNK Arcade Classics is still a solid value that will keep arcade-minded gamers in a state of euphoria for weeks on end. © Copyright 2009 The Video Game Critic.
SOCOM US Navy Seals
Publisher: Sony (2002)
Publisher: Electronic Arts (2000)
I've never played a game that conveys the wild, almost-out-of-control feel of snowboarding like SSX. Its gameplay is a combination of Cool Boarders and Tony Hawk, but the graphics are in a league of their own. SSX sends you careening down jaw-dropping steep slopes and over cliffs, not to mention half-pipes, corkscrews, loops, rails, shortcuts, and ramps. The realistic physics, smooth framerate, and sheer speed provide one heck of a rush. None of the eight courses look or play the same, and they are all incredibly LONG (almost ten minutes per run!). And the framerate doesn't suffer at all in the two-player split screen mode. The exceptional background music is an eclectic mix of tunes that smoothly transition from one beat to the next. Finely tuned controls make slicing through the snow seem like second nature. Although it's easy to stick to the course, you can leave the trail and find plenty of surprises on the outskirts as well. There is a learning curve to perform tricks, which are much easier to pull off once you get familiar with the courses. With most snowboarding games, tricks are fun but there's little incentive to perform them. SSX addresses that problem by providing "turbo" for each trick you perform. The fancier the trick, the more you're awarded. The courses are the star here, but you'll have to win your way through tournaments to open them up, which is easier said than done. Some courses, like the night city skyscraper track, are absolutely terrific, but EA went off the deep end with some of the later ones. The last one is more like a funhouse than a ski slope, and it's more confusing than fun. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Electronic Arts (2003)
Publisher: Electronic Arts (2001)
This sequel to the popular snowboarding game is more of a "remix" than an all-new game. Still, it's packed with exciting and sometimes exhilarating snowboarding mayhem. The solid gameplay hasn't changed at all, but this game seems much easier than the first. Tricks are simpler to perform, fall recovery times are shorter, and the tracks are better designed and less confusing. Speaking of tracks, I was disappointed that there are only two
new tracks, with the rest being revamped versions of the those from the original game. The most highly-touted new feature is the inclusion of "Uber" tricks, which are crazy airborne stunts that make you look like you're break dancing or riding a bull. There are several new wacky characters sporting "celebrity voices" from the likes of David Arquette, Macy Gray, and Lucy Lui. A new soundtrack includes Run-DMC and their classic rap song "It's Tricky". But this is just window dressing, and there some issues with the gameplay. First of all, the racers tend to "crowd up", making it too easy to go from first place to last (and vice versa). Next, the game is far too easy. If you've played through the first SSX, you could probably finish this in one sitting (for one character anyway). Finally, despite the emphasis on tricks, in fact you're more likely to win races by making a beeline for the finish. In the final analysis, I'd recommend SSX Tricky to new players, but original SSX owners should think twice before trading up. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.
SnoCross 2 featuring Blair Morgan
Publisher: Crave (2006)
The original Polaris SnoCross
(PS1, 2000) was a respectable snowmobile racer ("snowmachine" if you're in Vermont) so I was optimistic about this PS2 follow-up. The visuals are obviously sharper but where did the charm go? The quaint villages and scenic ridges have been replaced with walls of ice, barren canyons, and prison courtyards. Everything looks so flat and artificial! The paths tend to be wide but still hard to follow, with SSX-style blue and red paint marking the trails. SnoCross 2 does incorporate new boost and power slide controls which allow for some technique. The O button is now used to perform tricks which reward you with turbo boosts. The boost "blur" looks okay but squirrely steering makes it easy to lose control. I'm glad the amateur circuit only requires one lap per course because circumnavigating these lengthy, repetitive tracks is mind-numbing. I blame the built-in course-maker feature. These "builders" have a tendency to produce lame
tracks, and the developers apparently used it to design the courses in the game. So you get dozens to choose from but their cookie-cutter designs are glaring. Low-budget beats drone away in the background as you race. There is no longer support for four-player split-screen (only two), and the lack of autosave makes saving your progress a chore. I usually recommend these kind of games on snowy days but frankly I'd be hard-pressed to find any occasion to pull out SnoCross 2. © Copyright 2018 The Video Game Critic.
Sonic Mega Collection Plus
Publisher: Sega (2004)
Soul Calibur III
Publisher: Namco (2005)
Rating: Teen (suggestive themes, violence)
Space Channel 5 Special Edition
Publisher: Agetec (2003)
Rating: Teen (mild violence, suggestive themes)
Publisher: Infogrames (2001)
I've always been a big fan of jet ski games, and Splashdown is one of the best ones I've come across. Thanks to responsive controls and a helpful training mode, controlling your jet ski is a piece of cake. There's plenty of room for technique, with special moves like bunny hops, inverts, submarining, hydroplaning, and various mid-air tricks. Performing tricks is rewarded by increasing the performance of your jet ski. The shimmering, rolling water looks great, and the twenty international courses are full of ramps and shortcuts. The scenery is attractive but not spectacular like Hydro Thunder. The races themselves are truly exciting, and the computer players are surprisingly intelligent. The kickin' soundtrack features Smashmouth and Blink 182, which are great at first, but you'll soon become sick of the repeating tunes. Splashdown is a quality arcade title that I found to be quite addictive. I think Wave Race for the GameCube is slightly better, but it's a close call. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.
Splashdown Rides Gone Wild
Publisher: THQ (2003)
Rating: Everyone (Mild lyrics, Mild language)
When I first laid eyes on this new jet-ski title, I thought "Wow, what a great idea!" Instead of the traditional stages you find in most jet-ski racers, Slashdown Rides Gone Wild takes a page from Disney and offers eight spectacular courses that are arguably more fun to watch than race on! The first one, based on the Bermuda Triangle, is truly amazing, with huge storms, UFOs, and ocean liners than literally fall from the sky! Other themes include dinosaurs, pirates, white water, ice, and a flooded city. Each one is highly imaginative and crazy fun. There's even a haunted river that runs through a spooky castle - how cool is that? This is the kind of stuff I live
for! There are ramps to pull off tricks, secret passages to discover, and the tracks even change with each lap! Rides Gone Wild has A+ potential, but there are problems. First off, I wish the tracks were a bit more open, so they'd be easier to navigate and less claustrophobic. I also encountered a few graphical glitches that caused me to get stuck in the scenery, and the game even froze up completely at one point. The two-player split-screen games are limited to unexciting indoor tracks that are disappointing compared to the others. The graphics could be more detailed, and the rapids in the Gold Rush stage look totally fake. Finally, the loading times are excruciating. Still, the controls are excellent and the game is full of surprises. If you're looking for some fun and enjoy theme park rides, you'll love Slashdown Rides Gone Wild. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.
Sprint Cars: Road To Knoxville
Publisher: THQ (2006)
Fans of sprint racing fan generally regard World of Outlaws: Sprint Cars
(Xbox 360, 2010) as the high water mark of the sport. It had the realism part down but the controls were "challenging" to put it kindly. Recently I stumbled across Sprint Cars: Road to Knoxville in a used game shop and picked it up for a mere $2. I wasn't expecting much but this game surprised me. The camera is good and the framerate is smooth. I'm tempted to describe the graphics as muddy, but that might be redundant consider the cars race on oval dirt tracks. You regulate your speed using a single button (X), making your car simple to control - particularly in split-screen mode. While easier to grasp than World of Outlaws, you'll still need to exercise restraint in order to slide around curves without completely turning around. Road to Knoxville includes a deep career mode and 20 tracks modeled after actual locations. There's also an arcade mode for players that just want to dive in, including a two-player split-screen. The problem with that is sometimes both players don't end up in the same heat, meaning you won't race head-to-head! The announcer who conveys his unbridled enthusiasm with statements like "I don't want this race to end!
" I have to admit the races can be pretty intense. World of Outlaws is hard to top in terms of realism, but Sprint Cars: Road to Knoxville is arguably a more accessible alternative, especially for rookies. © Copyright 2018 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Midway (2001)
You may remember the original Spy Hunter arcade game, which was popular in the early 80's. In that overhead racer, you controlled a car loaded with both offensive and defensive weapons, allowing you to shoot cars ahead while dropping smoke screens behind you. This updated Spy Hunter manages to preserve the fun of the original while adding gorgeous 3D graphics and deep, mission-based gameplay. Each mission has a set of objectives, mostly involving blowing up specific targets. The game looks and plays much like an action movie. You'll find yourself careening over cliffs and plowing through outdoor cafes, with explosions detonating all around you. It can be very exhilarating at times. Each level offers a long, unique course that cuts through a variety of locations, complete with hidden short cuts and other secrets. When your car jumps into water, it instantly morphs into a speedboat - pretty awesome! The controls take a while to learn, but are responsive overall. Spy Hunters fine graphics and breakneck pace will keep your adrenaline flowing. My biggest complaint is that everything is locked initially, including the two player split-screen mode. Otherwise, Spy Hunter is a worthy successor to a classic arcade game. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.
Star Wars: Bounty Hunter
Publisher: LucasArts (2002)
Rating: Teen (violence)
Star Wars: Racer Revenge
Publisher: LucasArts (2001)
Star Wars: Starfighter
Publisher: LucasArts (2001)
Star Wars: Super Bombad Racing
Publisher: LucasArts (2001)
Starsky and Hutch
Publisher: Take Two (2003)
Rating: Teen (violence)
If this bargain-bin title is played as it's meant to be, it can be a rip-roaring good time. Starsky and Hutch is designed to be a two player game with one player driving the car and the other hanging out the passenger window and blasting away at bad guys. How many games offer this kind of cooperative play style? The game supports both a steering wheel controller and Guncon 2 light gun, and they really do elevate the gameplay. My Logitech steering wheel worked with no problems, and the Guncon 2, while difficult to calibrate, performed fine during the game. Starsky and Hutch perfectly embodies the cheesy 70's TV series it's based on, with its predictable cops 'n robbers storylines, endless car chases, and prefabricated stunt scenes. Naturally the clothing style, music, and dialogue reflect the time period and are somewhat amusing. The missions mainly just boil down to car chases, but they're still a lot of fun. There are plenty of secondary targets to keep an eye out for, and shooting certain icons will trigger a special stunt like jumping a ramp or blowing up a gas station. The downtown environments are not spectacular but are perfectly functional and surprisingly large in scale. The control is terrific in two-player mode, and even the single-player experience is serviceable with its unique "auto-aim" mechanism. My friends Scott and Jonathan begged me to rate this game even higher, but I found the missions to get repetitive after a while, and you need to complete them in order. Still, Starsky and Hutch is a very likeable game, and for the low price (I picked it up for $9.99 at Best Buy) you really can't go wrong. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.
Street Fighter Alpha Anthology
Publisher: Capcom (2006)
Rating: Teen (violence)
Street Fighter Anniversary Collection
Publisher: Capcom (2004)
Rating: Teen (blood, suggestive themes, violence)
Publisher: Irem (2002)
Rating: Teen (violence)
In some ways I suppose this submarine shooter is a throwback to the old days. The controls are easy to grasp, and the missions are pretty straightforward. But it's also rather slow and methodical; a far cry from the "twitch" games of yesteryear. You view the action from just behind your sub, and yes, it occasionally gets in the way. The underwater effects are quite convincing, from the bubbles trailing torpedoes to how the screen gets blurry when there's too much pressure. There are plenty of targets to shoot, not to mention loads of power-ups and dozens of buried treasures to discover. The well-thought-out control scheme uses the shoulder button to control your depth and speed. Your primary weapons include lock-on torpedoes, which are a pleasure to unleash. Although most of the action takes place underwater, a few levels allow you to surface, revealing a second battlefield. The graphics are pretty average, but one awesome effect puts the game over the top. It's the innovative sonar, which superimposes wireframe shapes of targets that are hidden or off in the distance. Not only does this look terrific, but it makes it easy to locate enemies, reducing the "What am I supposed to do now?" factor. I had some fun with Sub Rebellion, and I think most shooter fans will approve of this. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.
Summer Heat Beach Volleyball
Publisher: Acclaim (2003)
Rating: Teen (Suggestive themes)
Super Dragon Ball Z
Publisher: Atari (2006)
Rating: Teen (cartoon violence)
Publisher: Rockstar (2000)
I bought this game for two reasons: it was cheap, and seemed like a good "summer" game. But Surfing H3O turned out to be a complete disaster. First of all, there are only two play modes: tournament and versus. The object of the each is to accumulate points by collecting floating spheres and performing tricks. I was really hoping for a training or freestyle mode so I could just surf freely, but there's nothing like that. The controls are awkward and NOT configurable, and the gameplay itself is absolutely horrendous. The learning curve is ridiculously steep, and you'll struggle just to stay on your board for a few seconds. Until you learn to control your speed, you'll get sucked into the surf every time. And trying to perform tricks is an act of futility! The control scheme is a complete joke. You only need to use the two analog sticks, but they're so unresponsive I had to keep checking to make sure my controller was plugged in! Awkward, changing camera angles don't help matters. The graphics aren't particularly good, and tend to understate the hugeness of the waves, which aren't much to look at anyway. At least the background rock music is fair. And what about the sunny, tropical environments I was looking for? Well most of the stages take place in the rain, snow, or at nighttime. Who would want to surf in the Arctic?! This game is insulting. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.
Suzuki TT Superbikes
Publisher: Jester Interactive (2005)
I've enjoyed my share of motorcycle racers over the years, but even with its $4.99 price tag (!), Suzuki TT Superbikes is a colossal waste. The rural European scenery doesn't offer much to look at, same for some pixilated foliage and the occasional cottage. The steering controls offer just the right degree of sensitivity, but once I started racing, I couldn't figure out why my competitors shot out way
ahead and I couldn't catch up. I soon discovered, to my horror, that the acceleration button is pressure-sensitive!
That's right folks, the harder you push, the faster you go. It doesn't take a genius to figure out this scheme will kill
your thumb over the course of a long race. And believe me, these races are long
. One lap feels like it's 1000 miles long, and then you realize you have two more to go! I checked the option menu to see if I could customize the controls, but all I found is a toggle for vibration - great. The game also seems to slow you down around turns, which is really bizarre. As an indicator of audio quality, my friend Scott complained that I had mosquitoes in the house until he realized that was just my bike engine
. The game does offer some nice crash animations. It takes a while for your guy to get up, but I guess it would take even longer in real life. All in all, Suzuki TT Superbikes is outrageously bad, ranking among the most worthless PS2 titles I've ever played. © Copyright 2008 The Video Game Critic.
Swashbucklers: Blue Vs. Grey
Publisher: Atari (2007)
Rating: Mature (blood and gore, strong language, violence)