Sega CD Reviews D-E

Demolition Man
Grade: B-
Publisher: Warner Bros. (1995)
Reviewed: 2014/12/26
Rating: Teen

screenshotSome 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
1 player 

Double Switch
Grade: D
Publisher: Sega (1993)
Reviewed: 2020/12/15

screenshotNight Trap (Sega, 1992) was a big hit for the Sega CD so a proper follow-up was required. Unfortunately Double Switch didn't benefit from a raging controversy and its weak box art didn't help either. In some ways Double Switch is a better game than Night Trap. It's certainly more sophisticated. The full-motion video gameplay takes place in a mysterious Egyptian-themed apartment complex. A building map alerts you of activity in any of its seven rooms so you can tune in via security cameras.

Gangsters are lurking about and you'll need to employ traps to protect the tenants. The elaborate contraptions include a coffin that swallows people up, a trap door in front of a fireplace, and a board that knocks people out the window. At first you're trying to help a young man (played by Corey Haim) escape from the basement, but as the story unfolds there are plenty of twists and turns. The video quality is marginal as you'd expect from the Sega CD, but at least the rooms are brightly lit to limit the graininess.

A bigger issue is with the controls. A six button controller would have been ideal for this game but you're stuck using the three button model. It's clumsy having to press C to switch between the building map and trap panels. Once a trap is selected you need to press A three times to arm it and once more to spring it. If you let someone hit the power switch in the basement your game ends abruptly. It's satisfying to nab a crook but there's so much going on concurrently you need to orchestrate your moves perfectly just to keep up. At least there's a high score screen to help chart your progress. Double Switch is actually a very clever title but its unforgiving nature makes it too hard to enjoy. . © Copyright 2020 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 

Dracula Unleashed
Grade: D
Publisher: Sega (1993)
Reviewed: 2002/8/9

screenshotYou'd expect a CD game based on a vampire-infested 1899 London to be pretty exciting, but Dracula Unleashed is basically a slow, plodding mystery. It's played by moving a cursor around the screen and clicking on objects or icons. The idea is to collect various items and take them to the right places at the specific times, causing the storyline to unfold in the form of live-action video sequences. Unfortunately, if you miss a key event, your game will end abruptly. Fortunately you can save at any time.

While Dracula Unleashed sometimes provides clues to keep you on track, the gameplay tends to be more "trial and error" than true detective work. The story isn't very suspenseful or compelling, and there's virtually no payoff until you get three-quarters through the game. The visuals consist of grainy video clips and well-drawn illustrations. I'd have to admit that the acting is respectable for a CD game, and the characters are likeable enough. I didn't recognize any actors in the cast.

The downtown scenery is convincing except for the graveyard which looks like some dirt in front of a stone wall - lame! If they would have used an actual, decrepit old graveyard, it would have raised the game's grade at least by one letter. Some of the special effects, such as the floating bodies, are very well done, but the flashing eyes look terribly fake. Dracula looks a lot like Dracula from the 1992 film, but you only see him near the end of the game.

There's some gore, but the Sega CD's trademark pixelation prevents it from being particularly explicit. The sound effects are terrific, especially when you ride in the carriage, and the music is well orchestrated and creepy. The user interface could be more streamlined, but it's acceptable once you learn a few shortcuts. Dracula Unleashed is a good-looking game, but only patient gamers will be able to deal with its slow pace. . © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.

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Our high score: 7478
1 player 

Dragon's Lair
Grade: C
Publisher: Readysoft (1993)
Reviewed: 2003/7/18

screenshotI 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.

1 player 

ESPN National Hockey Night
Grade: C+
Publisher: Sony (1994)
Reviewed: 2015/3/18

screenshotThis game opens with about five or six intro screens that will make you wish CD technology had never been invented. Once it finally begins ESPN National Hockey Night looks just like the Genesis version, only with gratuitous video clips. Having Bill Clement introduce the match-ups via extra-grainy full-motion video (FMV) is actually a step down from his digitized Genesis appearance. On the ice the action is slightly better than the Genesis.

Perhaps it's my imagination, but I feel like the controls are tighter and my teammates more aggressive. Passing and checking are still problematic but I enjoy the player animations and uptempo pace. One aspect that far surpasses the Genesis is the audio. You wouldn't think realistic crowd noise would be a big deal, but it sounds amazing! If you crank up the stereo it really envelops you. Likewise the sound of the puck click-clacking off the boards is great. It's a shame the audio briefly cuts out before each face-off.

Another interesting CD-related feature is how the game will abruptly stop in its tracks - as if it crashed or something. Nope, it's just loading a video clip of an actual hockey play meant to highlight a devastating check or spectacular glove save. It's not very convincing though, especially since the teams in the video are different from the ones playing! Did they think we wouldn't notice? Well, considering how grainy the footage is, maybe they were right. There's some novelty value there, but it gets old having to wait ten seconds for a three-second clip to load. Oh well, at least you can adjust the frequency. You'd think the FMV technology might be used for elaborate intermission reports, but no such luck. There are some missed opportunities here, but I think ESPN Hockey Night still manages to edge out the Genesis version, if just barely. © Copyright 2015 The Video Game Critic.

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1 or 2 players 

ESPN Sunday Night Football
Grade: B-
Publisher: Sony (1993)
Reviewed: 2001/8/22

screenshotESPN 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.

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1 or 2 players 

Ecco The Dolphin
Grade: B-
Publisher: Sega (1993)
Reviewed: 2000/9/21

screenshotEcco 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.
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1 player 

Eternal Champions: Challenge From The Dark Side
Grade: C+
Publisher: Sega (1995)
Reviewed: 2015/3/18
Rating: Mature (animated violence, animated blood and gore)

screenshotWith tighter gameplay, cleaner graphics, and a full suite of modes, Challenge From the Dark Side is a substantial step up from the Genesis version of Eternal Champions. The obligatory video intro depicts how each of the game's fighters originally met their demise. As one of my friends remarked, "this has more back-story than the Bible!"

Once you begin fighting the differences are immediately noticeable. The graphics are much sharper, the animation is more fluid, and the hits sound crisp. The revamped soundtrack is stronger, with one song that actually sounds like New Order. The nine-man roster is joined by four new fighters including Ramses the pharaoh, Raven the Voodoo priestess, Dawson the cowboy, and a female pirate named Riptide. The backgrounds are less grainy and more colorful. Interesting backdrops include a ship on stormy seas, a high-speed mine-cart ride, and a skull-shaped cave in the jungle. The overhauled audio boasts clear voices and sound effects.

For the solo player there's a lot more depth, although that character selection screen looks pretty sorry. Three skill levels are available and you can participate in a wide range of tournament variations. If Eternal Champions has a weakness, it's the fact that it's still Eternal Champions, saddled with the same flawed engine. Expect fishy collision detection and difficult-to-perform special moves that deal minimal damage. Matches run too long and there are too many annoying "disappear" moves. Sometimes you'll accidentally perform a taunt, leaving yourself open to attack. The defensive-minded CPU turns every contest into a war of attrition.

Eternal Champions is known for its fatalities and this is one area where the game truly shines. There are literally dozens of gory death animations, and they are a joy to behold! The only thing more satisfying than beating the crap out of a friend is watching him get devoured by a great white shark afterward! Eternal Champions isn't a top-tier fighter, but I feel like it reached its potential on the Sega CD. . © Copyright 2015 The Video Game Critic.

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1 or 2 players 


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