3 Ninjas Kick Back
Publisher: Sony (1994)
Based 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 video of the grandfather, but he talks so slow! 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.
Recommended variation: normal
Our high score: 21,920
Publisher: JVC (1993)
It'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.
Our high score: 44600
Advanced Dungeons and Dragons: Eye of the Beholder
Publisher: Sega (1994)
Publisher: Sega (1991)
Sega didn't do the Sega CD system any favors by releasing Afterburner 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 Afterburner 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 Afterburner 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
Publisher: Fun Games (1994)
Publisher: Sega (1994)
What 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.
Publisher: Sega (1992)
Our high score: 64,100
Publisher: Sega (1995)
Rating: Kids to Adults (animated violence)
Since the driving sequences were such a hit in Batman Returns
(Sega, 1992), Sega opted to make Batman and Robin nothing but
driving. As you weave the Batmobile through traffic and engage your turbo boost, it almost feels like an early version of Burnout
(GameCube, 2002). The non-stop driving wears thin in a hurry though, and the controls are not up to the task. Steering is imprecise, and colliding with any vehicle sends you bouncing around like a pinball. When trailing certain vehicles, villains will drop bouncing objects that behave like heat-seeking missiles! One stage places you in a "virtual reality" world, but there are far too many hazards to overcome. You'll be wishing Sega had incorporated some side-scrolling action just to break up the monotony. Still, Batman and Robin's graphics and animation are pretty impressive for a 16-bit system, and the adrenaline-pumping music is terrific. Many popular villains make appearances, including Poison Ivy, the Joker, and the Riddler. Lengthy, full-screen cut-scenes divide the stages, and although somewhat grainy they're still fun to watch. The final stage is actually a flying sequence that's visually pleasing but not satisfying to play. Come to think of it, that sentiment holds true for pretty much the entire game! © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Older Games (2003)
Bill Walsh College Football
Publisher: Electronic Arts (1993)
This college pigskin contest is identical to the Genesis version, but there are a few extra bells and whistles. The biggest improvement has got to be the enhanced crowd noise. It sounds incredibly lifelike, especially compared to the vomit-inducing noise heard on the Genesis version. The music is also drastically improved. According to the box, this CD contains "enhanced graphics throughout", but you'd have to be pretty observant to notice. Another bonus feature is a series of Bill Walsh video clips, in which he describes just about every aspect of the college game, but only die-hards will be able to sit through these. One disappointment is that despite the higher capacity of a CD, there are still only 48 teams available. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Bignet (1992)
One of the first games available for the Sega CD, Blackhole Assault generated little fanfare - and for good reason. Its title sounds like a bad adult film, and its gameplay is about as trashy. A background story is conveyed through choppy animated cut scenes that aren't any better than what you've seen on the Genesis, only longer. The overdramatic introduction features a pissed-off captain with bright red skin. Why is his skin that color? Is sunburn a common problem in 2160? After the lengthy build-up, you finally get to see what this game is really all about: Robot fighting! That's right, Blackhole Assault is nothing more than a one-on-one fighter with the most boring cast of characters EVER! There are eight generic machines in all, and thanks to the Sega CD's limited color palette, most are either green or purple! It's actually hard to tell them apart during battle. The box claims "High-intensity, photo-realistic CD graphics" but I couldn't disagree more. Many of the dull backgrounds feature nothing more than barren planet surfaces! And the gameplay is dreadful. The moves are just standard kick/punch/crouch combinations and the controls are NOT what I would call responsive. I can usually find at least one redeeming quality in any game, but I can't think of ANY reason to ever pull Blackhole Assault off the shelf. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Sega (1994)
This unusual title gives new meaning to the mantra "be the ball". Bouncers is played by two basketball-shaped characters with eyes, feet and hands. There's not much to this game, and I'm really not sure how it qualified as a CD title. Each contest is played on a court one screen in size, with a net on each side and colorful scenery in the background. Scoring is not as easy as you might expect. You can jump, but only about halfway up to the basket. In order to get sufficient air, you'll need to vault yourself off of the other player
. It's harder than it sounds because the other ball is constantly moving, trying to do the same thing to you. It's a novel concept, but it doesn't work very well at all. The awkward, unresponsive controls don't help matters. Heck, most of the time you end up inadvertently knocking the other ball
into the hoop. It's a shame the controls suck, because Bouncer's graphics are nice and the music isn't bad either. There are a few power-ups, but for every one that helps you, there's another that gives you lead feet. There are several zany locales to choose from, including a jungle, a haunted house, stormy ruins, and an underwater shipwreck. I was hoping Bouncers could deliver on its bizarre premise, but it's practically unplayable. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.
Bram Stoker's Dracula
Publisher: Sony (1993)
Our high score: 10,770
Publisher: Good Deal Games (2001)
Publisher: Good Deal Games (2006)
Chuck Rock II: Son of Chuck
Publisher: Core (1993)
Like so many Genesis titles ported to the Sega CD, this one contains the exact same gameplay only with a cartoon intro and enhanced audio. The intro is rendered with "digital cell animation" and it looks pretty good for the Sega CD. The colors are vibrant and the animation fills the entire screen. This sequence explains some background information about Chuck's arch-enemy "Brick Jagger", and we also learn that Chuck's wife has an amazing rack!
Looks like someone finally found a worthwhile use for FMV! Son of Chuck provides a new "hard" difficulty option, probably to attract gamers who already mastered the Genesis version. The star of the game is a club-swinging infant who fights wacky cavemen, dinosaurs, monkeys, crabs, and sharks. One of the more interesting elements is your ability to ride on animals, including an ostrich. Son of Chuck's soundtrack was unremarkable on the Genesis, but this one features clear stereo sound with deep bass. Its diverse musical style ranges from cheesy synths to jazzy horns to festive steel drum music. Many sound effects have been digitized, and this is most noticeable when you hear the alligators "burp" in the water stage. Chuck Rock II may not be a substantial upgrade from the original, but it does represent a modest improvement. © Copyright 2010 The Video Game Critic.
Recommended variation: normal
Our high score: 54450
Publisher: Good Deal Games (2002)
Our high score: 3750
Publisher: Sony (1993)
Recommended variation: 7 lives
Our high score: 58500
Publisher: Sega (1992)
A "laserdisc" style game in the tradition of Dragon's Lair, Cobra Command lets you pilot an attack helicopter on a series of action-packed missions. Your flight path is completely preordained, although when prompted you'll need to hold the directional pad in order to avoid collisions. Enemy planes, helicopters and tanks emerge from the scenery, and you must quickly aim your crosshairs to blast them. While some gamers may scoff at Cobra Command's linear gameplay and semi-interactive controls, classic game enthusiasts will appreciate this game for what it is (and what it's trying to be). The graphics are always interesting and sometimes exhilarating as you buzz New York skyscrapers, the Grand Canyon, and Easter Island. There are ten stages in all, but they're pretty short and play exactly the same each time. I enjoyed playing Cobra Command the first few times, but clearly its replay value is limited. There are continues but no password feature, so you'll always need to play through the early stages. The graphics and animation are good for the Sega CD, but the rudimentary animation reminded me of an old Speed Racer cartoon. Still, the varied locales and non-stop action kept me forging ahead. The audio is pretty weak, with scratchy voice samples that are hard to decipher. Cobra Command is okay as long as you don't mind full-motion video games. Most casuals gamers probably won't "get it", but die-hard Sega CD fans should find it worthwhile. © Copyright 2005 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Digital Pictures (1994)
Rating: Mature (realistic violence)
Our high score: 1,225,272
Save mechanism: Backup RAM
Publisher: American Laser Games (1994)
My first experience playing Crime Patrol was on the 3DO system. Its light-gun shooting gameplay was a little loose but I enjoyed the cheesy video footage of bad guys running around electronic stores, crack houses, and strip clubs. On the Sega CD the gun felt much less responsive until I remembered you need to crank up the brightness of your CRT TV (keep in mind the gun will not
work on an HDTV). The shooting action isn't bad but there's a palpable lag between seeing someone get shot and watching them recoil. I guess that's due to the footage having to be loaded off the disc. The video is grainy but at least it's full screen. The stages are action-packed, incorporating explosions, cars flipping open, dudes getting electrocuted, dudes on fire, and exotic dancers doing their thing. At first you select between four missions, and upon completing those a new set appears. It takes some perseverance to reach the strip club level but I think most guys will agree it's worth the effort. The collision detection is far from precise but if you fire several times in the right area you're likely to hit your target. I was kind of psyched about using my two Sega CD guns (blue and pink) but the game only supports two-players alternating
. Weak! Sometimes I always wonder what a game like Crime Patrol would be like with modern graphics and pinpoint controls. I'm afraid we'll never know because they just don't make 'em like this any more. © Copyright 2019 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Warner Bros. (1995)
Some regard it as a cheesy futuristic action flick, but Demolition Man (a film starring Sylvester Stallone and Wesley Snipes) was a potent combination of action and humor. Watching it recently I was surprised how well it predicted futuristic technology (including self-driving cars). The Genesis version of this game was great so I expected big things from its CD cousin. What I discovered was the identical game except for some grainy cut-scenes (from the film), load screens, and slightly enhanced audio. The video only consumes a small portion of the screen and falls well below VHS tape quality. Once the action kicked in I thought the graphics looked slightly touched up but frankly that may have been a figment of my imagination. The soundtrack is clearer than the Genesis but not necessarily better. The gameplay delivers action-packed run-and-gun action with plenty of gratuitous explosions that rock the screen. In addition to side-scrolling action, occasional overhead stages provide a nice change of pace. Unfortunately the programming seems a little sloppy. The music cuts out periodically and the game will freeze up on occasion (especially if you pause). Demolition Man for the Sega CD is a lot like so many other CD adaptations. Instead of the technology elevating the quality of play, it hampers it. © Copyright 2014 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 42,800
Publisher: Sega (1993)
Double Switch is Night Trap for the people who want a REAL challenge. I didn't get far in this game, but it wasn't for lack of effort! Double Switch is so tough that it's almost unfair. Here's the scenario. You are in control of cameras and traps in a building containing seven large rooms. Your job is to trap bad guys who are terrorizing the residents. You also need to trap the handyman who's messing things up. Did I mention you need to locate codes on boxes in each room? And oh yeah - if you let a bad guy flip the power switch in the basement, it's game over. I'm not kidding, and it IS as tough as it sounds. You must tune into certain rooms at certain times, and with so much concurrent activity going on, it's impossible to keep up. You have to constantly flip between rooms, preventing you from truly enjoying the bad acting and cheesy dialogue. You really have to memorize the sequence of events in order to be in the right place at the right time. But unlike Night Trap, trapping bad guys isn't easy. Yes, you can see a map of the trap locations, but the camera views change, and it's tough to tell what part of the room you're looking at. On a positive note, the acting is a step up from Night Trap, featuring celebrities such as Debra Harry (of Blondie) and Corey Haim (of The Lost Boys). There are plenty of babes in distress, and there's even an upbeat music number. It's a shame that the difficulty is so excessive. And who's the marketing wizard who came up with the boring title and lame cover illustration? © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Sega (1993)
Our high score: 7478
Publisher: Readysoft (1993)
I like the Sega CD system - really, I do. But after playing Dragon's Lair on systems like the Jaguar CD, CD-I, and 3DO, it's pretty hard to bear it on the Sega CD. The system's color palette is far too meager for the cartoon quality graphics, and as a result the full-screen video is awfully grainy (it burns!) But once you get your eyes adjusted to the marginal video quality, you'll find a Dragon's Lair game that's every bit as good as the other versions - if not better. The introductory video clips are great and put me back in the arcades of 20 years ago (boy, has it been that long?). The controls are pretty forgiving, allowing you to enter a few extra incorrect commands without dying. I noticed that all the death scenes are intact, which is good considering they tend to be abbreviated in other versions. And it's always cool to see our hero disintegrate into bones after using your last life. There are unlimited continues, but they do set you back a few rooms. I found it interesting that the instruction manual includes instructions for literally EVERY ROOM. All in all, Dragon's Lair on the Sega CD is quite decent - as long as you haven't played it on any other systems. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.
ESPN National Hockey Night
Publisher: Sony (1994)
ESPN Sunday Night Football
Publisher: Sony (1993)
ESPN had the right idea with this game, trying to make it look as close as possible to an actual ESPN Sunday Night telecast. The results are mixed, but I'll give them credit for trying. Each contest begins with an awesome full motion video introduction highlighting the home team, and if the graphics don't get you excited, the familiar music will. Manning the Sportscenter booth, Chris Berman welcomes you to the game and comments briefly about each team. But once the action begins, the illusion of watching a televised game wears off, and all you're left with is a second-rate Madden. The players are small and tend to flicker, and the crowd looks like static! The audio is decidedly un-TV-like, consisting of fuzzy crowd noise and precious few voice comments. The control scheme takes some getting used to, and the passing isn't nearly as precise as Madden. That's not to say the game isn't playable; it's just a bit of a letdown after a big buildup. Once you reach halftime, it's back to the booth with Chris Berman, and this time you're treated to video highlights of "other games in progress". This is the kind of stuff I love - too bad they didn't include any cheerleader clips. Overall ESPN Football is just an average game, but I give it extra credit for presentation. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.
Ecco The Dolphin
Publisher: Sega (1993)
Ecco is a non-violent adventure where you solve puzzles and ultimately save the world (naturally) using a dolphin. In case it looks awfully familiar to you, that's probably because it's the exact same game as the Genesis version, only with enhanced audio and some full motion video clips. Okay, I'll admit that the new age background music is relaxing and suits the game perfectly. But then again, the music in the Genesis version wasn't bad either. Overall, it's difficult to justify the upgrade considering this CD version has loading periods that you don't have to put up with on the Genesis. It's still a fine game, but it doesn't appear that Sega made much of an effort here. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.
Eternal Champions: Challenge From The Dark Side
Publisher: Sega (1995)
Rating: Mature (animated violence, animated blood and gore)