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Games are rated relative to other games for the same system.

Sega CD Reviews A

3 Ninjas Kick Back
Grade: C+
Publisher: Sony (1994)
Posted: 2015/11/1

screenshotBased on a movie series for kids, 3 Ninjas Kick Back stars three white pre-teen boys trained to be ninjas by their Japanese grandfather (?). The platform-jumping, hack-n-slash action is fast and exciting. You'll swing on vines, battle ninjas, collect orbs, and flee from Indiana Jones-style boulders. There are plenty of items to collect including throwing stars you can hurl three at a time.

Each stage is introduced by a video of the grandfather, but he talks so slowly! We don't have all day grandpa! The control scheme could use some work. Pressing up to grab a vine is non-intuitive and it's hard to execute special moves. You'll contend with cheap hits like birds that approach from below and ninjas who hurl stars from offscreen. Blind jumps can send you plunging into a fire or trap. Deadly spikes in the underground stages blend right into the stalagmites that line cave passages.

Some stages offer radically-different alternate routes, and that really elevates the replay value. Late in the game there are even some remarkable first-person 3D stages. One lets you skateboard through a neighborhood while hurling discs at hockey players. The other is a wild hang-gliding stage where ninjas can latch onto your glider and punch you in the face.

Good luck getting that far with limited continues and no password. The cartoonish graphics are fair but the orchestrated musical score doesn't feel like it belongs in the same game. 3 Ninjas Kickback is fun despite of itself. I question many of its design decisions but the game gets over on sheer playability. © Copyright 2015 The Video Game Critic.

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Recommended variation: normal
Our high score: 21,920
1 player 

AH-3 Thunderstrike
Grade: D
Publisher: JVC (1993)
Posted: 2008/2/24

screenshotIt's hard to get excited about a pseudo-3D shooter like AH-3 Thunderstrike. Military simulations don't tend to age well, and Thunderstrike is no exception. The game straps you into a helicopter equipped with rapid-fire machine guns, guided missiles, and rockets. It's a lot like a first-person Desert Strike (Genesis, 1992), only your strategy is generally limited to blowing up a set of primary targets.

Ten selectable missions take you to locations over land and sea all over the world, but the terrain is always noticeably flat. Your helicopter's movements are sluggish, especially when adjusting your altitude. Occasionally you'll find yourself wanting to "back up" when you overshoot a target, but moving in reverse is so slow that you're better off coming around for another pass. Flying low to the ground makes your machine guns more effective, but it also makes you vulnerable to running into trees. That's okay, because like everything else, trees blow up when shot as if they were flammable tanks.

Thunderstrike's visuals look muddy, making it hard to make out your targets, or even determine if they're destroyed or not! The plumes of smoke emanating from wreckage look more like stacks of gray rocks. What saves this antiquated shooter from the bottom of the barrel is its simple, arcade-style gameplay. Targets are locked onto automatically, surrounded by red brackets and labeled "primary" when applicable.

Thunderstrike contains a few obligatory CGI cut-scenes, but their gee-whiz factor has long since faded. You can save your progress after each mission, and there's also a high score board. Hard on the eyes and lacking excitement, AH-3 Thunderstrike is one of the more forgettable entries in the Sega CD library. © Copyright 2008 The Video Game Critic.

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Our high score: 44600
1 player 

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons: Eye of the Beholder
Grade: B
Publisher: Sega (1994)
Posted: 2002/8/9

screenshotThis sophisticated first-person RPG is aimed towards patient, strategy-minded gamers. The remarkably deep gameplay is surprisingly faithful to the D&D board game. A wide range of characters are available to populate your four-person party, and you have total control of each character's inventory, down to what's in each hand. Besides fighting and exploration, you can rest, gain experience, pray for spells, scribe scrolls, turn undead, eat, pick locks, and even adjust the marching order. The attention to detail can be overwhelming at times, but hardcore D&D players will appreciate that.

You begin your quest in the subterranean bowels of a city. The screen displays a first person view of the dungeon on the left, the characters on the right, and directional controls and miscellaneous information across the bottom. The dungeons consist mainly of narrow hallways, and they are populated with a nice variety of creatures including spiders, zombies, skeletons, golems, hellhounds, and the multi-eyed, globular Beholder.

The graphics are about average, but the audio really stands out. Along with crystal clear sound effects, there's a thumping techno soundtrack that provides a shot of energy to the proceedings. The user interface takes some getting used to. You have to move a cursor arrow around the screen, selecting objects and action buttons. It takes some time to learn how to perform critical actions like attack, cast spells, or rearrange your party.

It's extremely important to order your characters correctly, since only the front two characters can fight hand-to-hand. Unfortunately, you can't pause during battles (which are in real time), so you better know what you're doing before you start trouble. The first time I charged into battle I accidentally rearranged the party's inventory several times while my characters were methodically slaughtered! I hate it when that happens. But after a rough start, the game gradually grew on me and I became somewhat proficient at it.

The first few puzzles and monsters are relatively easy to build up your confidence. There's just one flaw that I couldn't seem to get over, and that's confusing dungeon design. It's bad enough that all the hallways look the same, but then they introduce the concept of "fake" walls and portals that send you to God-knows-where. Throw in a map that's basically just two dots on a huge grid and confusion is the result. That's too bad, because otherwise Eye of the Beholder is a fun, immersive experience that really does play like D&D. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.

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1 player 

Adventures of Batman and Robin, The
Grade: D-

screenshotBatman Returns (Sega CD, 1992) boasted some amazing driving stages that looked much better than they played. That was okay since they only comprised half of the game. But with Adventures of Batman and Robin Sega went all-in with the driving and it's downright exhausting. The first few stages are limited to weaving through traffic which is about as much fun as a morning commute.

I will admit the 3D scaling is pleasing to the eye and the purple skyline is breathtaking. Unfortunately stiff controls make it nearly impossible to react to the myriad of huge obstacles dumped into your path. They also make it nearly impossible to snag helpful power-up icons. You're required to hold the direction pad up to accelerate and diagonally to turn, and that's really hard on the thumb after a while.

Each stage challenges you to beat a time limit or prevent the villain from escaping. But even if you fire and weave constantly it's really hard to keep up with the onslaught. During a car chase of Poison Ivy huge trees appear right in the road and I end up plowing through just about every one. You'll be wishing Sega had incorporated some side-scrolling action just to ease the pain.

Lengthy, full-screen cut-scenes from the TV show are presented between stages, and frankly these are the best part of the game. Although somewhat grainy they're full-screen and fun to watch. I'm just wondering why they didn't use the show's excellent soundtrack. The Adventures of Batman and Robin culminates with a flying sequence over a bridge that's far more fun to watch than to play. Sadly that pretty much sums up this entire game. © Copyright 2020 The Video Game Critic.

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1 player 

After Burner III
Grade: F
Publisher: Sega (1991)
Posted: 2011/11/20

screenshotSega didn't do the Sega CD system any favors by releasing After Burner 3 as one of its early titles. Not only is it unimpressive from a technical point of view, but it's arguably less playable than After Burner II for the regular Genesis. This first-person airplane shooter places you in an F-14 Tomcat as you fly through stages differentiated primarily by their color schemes. The scenery on the ground is mainly limited to rows of bushes, although in one particularly sad stage it looks like you're flying over fields of cinder blocks.

The air combat is extremely shallow. The idea is to position your crosshairs over enemy planes in the distance so you can "lock in" on them and unleash heat-seeking missiles. You then need to roll from side-to-side to avoid the onslaught of incoming missiles. This fire-and-forget style deprives the player of the satisfaction of ever seeing an enemy shot down. You can press A to engage your Vulcan cannon, but it's impossible to tell if it has any kind of effect. It's hard to tell what's going on in general thanks to the rough scaling and spluttering frame rate.

The default cockpit view is lousy, and by the time you see a big pixelated bomb on the screen, it's too late to react. The trademark After Burner soundtrack is clear enough, but since when does that justify a CD title? If you must play this, I recommend setting the difficulty level to easy and using all three continues. At the very least you'll make it to the advanced stages, which will confirm your suspicions that you really weren't missing much. © Copyright 2011 The Video Game Critic.

Recommended variation: Easy w/ continues
Our high score: 13,017,400
1 player 

Android Assault
Grade: B
Publisher: Fun Games (1994)
Posted: 2003/4/13

screenshotAndroid Assault is basically just your standard side-scrolling 2D shooter. There isn't anything here that couldn't have been duplicated on a regular Genesis, with the exception of the music, which isn't so hot anyway. Heck, the soft jazz of the first stage is more suitable for a PGA Golf game! You'd think that at least the voices would be clear, but inexplicably, they sound terribly fuzzy! And what's up with the title screen? It says "Bari-Arm" instead of Android Assault. It looks like Sega changed the name without even bothering to fix the title screen.

The graphics are just average, even with the multi-layered backgrounds. The scenery is mainly space ships or caves - nothing exceptional to catch your eye. In most stages you can scroll the screen up and down a little bit. Unfortunately, the scenery tends to repeat, as do the sub-bosses that reside in them. Most of your foes are weird, misshapen hunks of metal not unlike those in Lightning Force, and their slow missiles aren't hard to dodge as long as you avoid the crossfire.

One thing Android Assault does have going for it is the weapons. There are four to choose from, and each alters the way you play the game. The orange "thunder cracker" gives you a wide spray, the green "burning wave" is powerful but straight, the blue "satellite bombs" deliver 360 degrees of destruction, and the red "chase cannon" shoots guided missiles. Each can be powered up several levels, and you'd be wise to stick with the same weapon once you build it up. Your ship looks pretty generic at first, but it turns into a flying mech warrior when your weapon is completely powered up. It looks cool, but your larger size makes you a bigger target.

When you take a hit, you lose a level of weapon power instead of a life, which I think is a good idea. One key technique is the ability to "charge" your weapons. When you're not firing, a meter at the top of the screen displays a charge level, and the longer you wait, the more devastating the blast you can unleash. This is crucial to beating the bosses, who otherwise take forever to defeat. Overall I'd say Android Assault is worth playing, even if it was a poor choice for a launch title. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.

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1 player 

Animals, The
Grade: D
Publisher: Sega (1994)
Posted: 2001/3/9

screenshotWhat does a real Tasmanian devil look like? Where does the platypus live? What kind of sound does a bald eagle make? Who gives a [expletive]? This well-intentioned CD is not a game at all, but an interactive, multimedia animal encyclopedia, containing over 1300 photographs, 80 video clips, 2500 pages of text, and 2 hours of audio. Unfortunately, its clumsy user interface is awkward to navigate and the load times are terribly aggravating.

The main screen is a map that lets you explore different habitats, such as an island, rain forest, desert, etc. There's also a search option that will present you with a list of all available material. BEWARE - it takes a good minute just to compile this list, and you can't abort it! You'll just have to sit there staring at a black screen. Actually, just about every bit of material requires at least a few seconds to load. The photos aren't bad looking, but the videos are small and grainy. Surprisingly, I tended to enjoy the sound clips the most. There's a wealth of textual information, most of which is interesting and easy to read.

While I was under the impression that all the animals featured here were all from the San Diego Zoo, certain animals, like the gray whale, made me suspicious. There's some nice bonus material like animal stories and zoo information thrown in to round out the package. This CD has its fair share of bugs too, and I'm not talking about the ones that crawl around. A few video clips didn't work, and the whole program locks up on occasion. But since we now have modern software and the Internet, this disk isn't very useful anyway. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 

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Screen shots courtesy of Shinforce, Sega CD Universe, Moby Games, Sega Retro