Mansion of Hidden Souls
Publisher: Vic Tokai (1994)
This game has a bizarre premise. A boy and girl find a butterfly in a field at night, and the girl says she wishes she were a butterfly. The next thing you know, the boy finds himself in a mysterious mansion, searching for his sister. Its rooms contain talking butterflies that used to be people. The boy's sister will soon be turned into one as well, unless you can find her before "the hunter" does. It sounds pretty silly, but Mansion of Hidden Souls gradually drew me in. Gameplay consists of exploring rooms, finding items, and opening new areas. The first person view makes you feel like you're actually walking through the house. The controls are simple - just push the joypad in the direction you want to go. The graphics are smooth and detailed, and although the rooms don't look particularly dark or scary, eerie music and mysterious voices help convey a creepy atmosphere. The layout of the house is actually quite similar to Resident Evil (Playstation). The story is interesting, and the puzzles are fair and never frustrating. Mansion of Hidden Souls has little replay value, but it's probably worth playing through once. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Older Games (2003)
Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch: Make My Video
Publisher: Sega (1992)
Mary Shelley's Frankenstein
Publisher: Sony (1994)
Publisher: Sega (1994)
Rating: Teen (realistic violence)
Publisher: Toolworks (1994)
Megarace is an over-produced, pitiful racer that completely annoyed me. The goal is to win a series of futuristic races, but you also need to destroy all the other cars in each race, and your ammo is VERY limited. In order to get the other cars into shooting range, you need to ride over certain icons on the road that speed you up. Unfortunately, there are just as many icons that SLOW you down, and since they are hard to see coming, you'll be forced to memorize
their locations! Unless you drive a perfect race, you'll never win, and there are no second tries or continues - just endless full-motion video (FMV) and loading screens. The pre-rendered tracks don't look half bad, but the scaling is choppy, and cars often disappear and reappear mysteriously. And like too many other Sega CD titles, there's a buffoon that mocks you relentlessly before and after each race. If the developers had spent as much time on the gameplay as they did on the cheesy cut scenes, this game might have been worth playing. But Megarace is just a frustrating mess. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Psygnosis (1993)
Our high score: 30,995
Save mechanism: Password
Publisher: Sega (1994)
This full-motion video shooter looks like a sequel to Tomcat Alley, but this time you pilot an Apache helicopter and also engage in a ground mission. Like Tomcat, the video is full-screen but awfully grainy. The story involves some cocky CIA agent who's apparently been given authority by Congress to carry out a top-secret mission. Gameplay involves moving a cursor around the screen and shooting any target with green brackets surrounding it. Targets can be in the air or on the ground, and they tend to jump around, making it hard to get a good bead on them. It doesn't help that the directional pad doesn't provide pinpoint control. Eventually, I figured out a winning strategy: Shoot constantly and one of your shots is bound to be on mark! When it is, you'll witness some nice video clip of a missile firing and blowing something to smithereens. I'd have to say that the explosive video footage is the highlight of the game. There's something about seeing a tank explode that's very satisfying. Unfortunately, the video clips that you have to watch between these action sequences are pretty bad and tend to repeat like a broken record. There's a lot of friction between the CIA guy and the military chief, and apparently they like to take out their frustrations on you
. Later in the game you actually land and have to infiltrate a factory armed with a gun. These sequences play pretty much like the rest of the game, but at least it's a nice change of scenery. Midnight Raiders is okay, but after playing through it once, I didn't have much desire to play it again. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers
Publisher: Sega (1994)
This full-motion video (FMV) game is basically clips from the television series with interactive prompts grafted over them. Each of the seven chapters begins with a skippable cut-scene. Much of the story's entertainment value is derived from its cheesy effects, bad dialogue, and laughable acting. The premise is five "teenagers with attitudes" have been recruited to battle an intergalactic sorceress and her army of henchmen. Each teenager is bestowed with the power of a dinosaur, but since when are mastodons and saber-tooth tigers considered dinosaurs? Individually the Rangers wield weapons and perform kung fu, but fused together they form a massive robot that fires laser beams. The full-screen video may be grainy but it's still some of the best I've seen from the Sega CD. The game does a decent job of incorporating the prompts. Lightning arrows move across the screen to indicate directional moves, and button icons flash for punches, blocks, and kicks. This game is better than you think. By earning continues I was able to complete it on intermediate, but the expert level proved a worthy challenge, forcing you to respond to rapid-fire prompts. Mighty Morphin Power Rangers isn't bad as FMV games go, but its replay value is limited. Still, fans of the show can probably bump up the grade by a letter. © Copyright 2015 The Video Game Critic.
Recommended variation: int
Our high score: 392,780
Publisher: Midway (1992)
Being the huge blockbuster it was, Mortal Kombat (MK) had
to make an obligatory appearance on the Sega CD, despite the fact that its CD capabilities could not improve the game one iota. The video intro features a commercial showing MK screen shots interspersed with kids running through the streets screaming. In terms of video quality, this is the most revolting thing I've ever seen on my Sega CD. The pixelation is so excessive that it's painful to watch. Once you get past that bit of unpleasantness, you'll find yourself at a title screen exactly like the one on the Genesis version. If you wait a few seconds, the game will start cycling "character screens" just like the arcade. Otherwise, the only difference between this and the Genesis version is higher quality music and slightly improved sound effects. Raiden's electricity caught my ear, but the voices still sound terribly fuzzy. The box mentions something about extra animations, but only die-hard MK fans will notice. The main thing CD technology brings to MK is LOAD TIMES. It takes about 8 seconds to load a match, and while that's tolerable, it's still 8 seconds longer than you had to wait for the Genesis version. Harder to forgive is the fact that the disk is sometimes accessed DURING BATTLE, resulting in noticeable pauses that interrupt the action. A major disappointment, you'll probably want to avoid this ill-conceived version of Mortal Kombat. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.
NFL Football Trivia Challenge
Publisher: Capdisc (1993)
Recommended variation: Rookie
Publisher: Electronic Arts (1993)
Boy, this is a tough game to rate. NHL '94 for the Genesis was, in my opinion, the greatest hockey game of all time. This Sega CD version is basically the same game with clearer sound, some grainy video clips, and annoying load times. Don't get me wrong, this game is a blast to play, but I prefer the Genesis version. As far as the sound effects and music being better, yeah, I guess they're a little clearer, but the difference is not dramatic. The back of the box makes a big deal out of the "real organ music". Who cares? And I'll also pass on that low-quality video. The bottom line is that it's still the same game underneath - and that's a very good thing. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Sega (1992)
Our high score: 26
Publisher: Data East (1994)
This dreadful game makes no sense at all. Panic is supposed to be an offbeat puzzle game with zany cartoon graphics. Each screen puts your cartoon character into a wacky situation, and in order to "restore order" you need to push the correct button on a panel. These panels consist of 7 to 10 buttons with odd symbols on them. If you push the correct button, you go to the next puzzle. Push the wrong button and you'll see some kind of madcap animation. For example, your man might pull a parachute cord and an elephant might appear. That's so funny I forgot to laugh. Most of the puzzles make absolutely no sense, so you're reduced to pressing the buttons at random, and the resulting animations are incredibly stupid. It's difficult to believe that this game is intended for "mature audiences", considering how infantile it is, often sinking to the level of toilet humor. I really can't say enough bad things about this one. It's astonishingly bad. I think I hate it. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.
Pitfall: The Mayan Adventure
Publisher: Activision (1994)
This CD edition of Pitfall The Mayan Adventure kicks off with a stylish video clip of some dude running for his life through a shadowy jungle with dangers lurking at every turn. Man, I wish I could play that
game. Instead you get the same Mayan Adventure as the Genesis, except with "upgraded" music and sound effects. Plus: load screens! The new guitar-riff laden music adds intensity, but the sound effects? Is louder considered an upgrade?
The sounds are a more pronounced to the point of being abrasive
. In terms of graphics, I think the developers used the old "crank up the contrast" trick to make the things look slightly different. In case you haven't played other versions of this game, The Mayan Adventure is an underachieving platformer with confusing stages and slippery controls. It's not bad if you stick with it; you're bound to get a little further each time. The boomerang weapon is helpful, homing in on every little pesky bat or spider. And catapulting yourself from those red schlongs is always a good time. Pitfall: The Mayan Adventure is a questionable upgrade from the Genesis, but ranks about the same in terms of fun factor. © Copyright 2018 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 47,832
Publisher: Sega (1994)
Rating: Kids to Adults
Power Factory Featuring C&C Music Factory
Publisher: Sony (1992)
Prince of Persia
Publisher: Sega (1992)
Publisher: Sega (1993)
Wow - a boxing game with full motion video! This game actually puts you into the ring! Talk about realism! Why didn't I hear about this game before? Probably because it's no fun! The production quality isn't bad. The acting is great, and there's even a cheesy background story. The cinematography is expertly done, and it really does put you in the boxing ring. Unfortunately, all of the video is grainy black and white, and the actual game screen is quite small. Two gloves are superimposed over the screen, letting you perform various jabs, crosses, uppercuts, dodges, and blocks. Unfortunately you can punch away all you want but you'll rarely hit your opponent, no matter how close he is. In one match I threw over 300 punches and connected with 18. If there's a strategy to connecting, I couldn't figure it out, but I think it's mainly luck. When you do land a blow, there's a video sequence of your opponent getting hit, but it does NOT seamlessly blend into the action. It looks like they taped these clips in an empty room, and it's downright funny to watch. The video sequences of your corner between rounds add realism, but the gameplay just isn't there. It's too bad, because the concept was good. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Sega (1993)
Racing Aces was an ambitious 3D title, but the Sega CD hardware just wasn't up to the task. You fly an airplane in a series of races, viewing the action from behind your plane. The tracks are mountainous, with polygon-rendered landscapes and poles marking the way. Not only do you race against eight other planes, but you also do battle with them by picking up weapons hidden in balloons. While it sounds like a lot of fun, the framerate just can't keep up, and the visuals range from "somewhat" choppy to "what the hell is going on" choppy. It doesn't help that the control lags badly and lends itself to some serious over-steering. The planes are sprites and the scenery is composed of large triangles. The landscapes don't look bad from a distance, but it's hard to tell how close you are to the ground, and it's easy to scrape your wings. The combat portion of the game never quite comes together, and unless you have guided missiles, targeting other planes is nearly impossible. All the planes tend to be bunched up at the beginning of the race, but once things get under way you rarely encounter other planes. Racing Aces was an interesting idea, but the hardware just wasn't ready yet. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.
Revenge of the Ninja
Publisher: Renovation (1994)
Recommended variation: easy
Our high score: 330,440
Revengers of Vengeance
Publisher: Absolute Entertainment (1994)
Rise of the Dragon
Publisher: Dynamix (1994)
In this point-and-click graphic adventure, you play an investigator in the year 2053. To say that this game is inspired by Blade Runner would be an understatement. Heck, even the title screen calls it a "Blade Hunter Mystery". I'd recommend Rise of the Dragon to very patient gamers only. You start off in a bedroom, and it takes a few minutes just to get out of there! This game emphasizes dialogue and item manipulation. The storyline is good and has enough plot twists to keep things interesting. The game is rated MA-17 thanks to some "harsh" language ("hell", "frickin", and "F'ed up") and the presence of lurid dancers and hookers. Rise of the Dragon reminded me of Snatcher, but it's not quite up to those standards. The system for manipulating items is confusing, and I was always accidentally leaving items behind at locations. It's also easy to get stuck in "dead end" situations that occur when you fail to make a crucial move, and these can be hard (if not impossible) to recover from. Some of the puzzles, like connecting wires, can be annoying, but at least you can save your place at any time. There are also two arcade-style mini-games thrown in. A lot of people love Rise of the Dragon, but I found it to be difficult and somewhat tedious. If you're into detective games, it may be worth a look. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Renovation (1992)
I know a lot of you players out there aren't crazy about these full motion video (FMV) games, but Road Avenger is a trip! Like most Sega CD games of this style, you watch video and quickly respond to onscreen cues that prompt you to turn, hit turbo, or brake. Road Avenger's gimmick is that it's played completely in first-person view, so you feel like you're in for the ride! And it's a wild one. You'll weave through oncoming traffic, squeeze between trucks, plow through motorcycle gangs, and steer through an obstacle course of explosions. Sometimes you'll drive inside
buildings, reminiscent of those comical intro scenes from the Naked Gun movies. The action is non-stop, and if you can pay attention to the graphics (and not just the arrows) you'll find the game to be pretty exhilarating. My favorite parts of the game were jumping the drawbridge and shaking the motorcycle thug off of my hood. The colorful graphics and animation are about Speed Racer quality, which is good or bad, depending on your point of view. Although the visuals are slightly grainy, the only real issue is the frame rate, which barely manages to keep up with the action. The game is totally linear, and although there are numerous stages, most are very short. That's okay because your thumb will need a rest. I had a great time with Road Avenger, and I think it's one of the best games I've played on the Sega CD. I should also mention that my buddy Keith McDowell does a great rendition of the Road Avenger theme song, despite knowing none of the words. To this day, Keith swears up and down that the guy singing in the intro is none other than Frank Stallone. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Electronic Arts (1995)
Rating: Kids to Adults (6+) (animated violence)
Publisher: Tengen (1992)
On a system replete with full-motion video titles and Genesis rehashes, it's refreshing to play an old-fashioned 2D shooter like Robo Aleste. The game begins with a long, overblown introduction presented in widescreen (for cinemic effect). This boring history lesson goes into tedious detail about feuding warlords in ancient Japan, touching on topics like redistricting
and tossing out the names of dozens of historic figures. I actually grabbed a pen and started jotting down notes for fear that the game might spring a pop quiz
on me! Robo Aleste's gameplay is refreshingly simple, as you control a robot flying up a vertically-scrolling screen while being escorted by satellite pods. You'll unleash rapid-fire shots against whirly-bird contraptions, mace-swinging robots, and ninjas leaping from airships. The more pesky enemies tend to be small and indistinct, like floating papers and white fuzzy things. Your robot is large but the collision detection is forgiving. Keep some distance from the bottom of the screen, as enemies will sneak up from behind. You begin with weak weapons and gradually build them up. Three weapon types are available, but the yellow "homing" missiles are easily my favorite, incinerating enemies like a bug zapper. Once you amass enough firepower, your goal shifts to preserving it by avoiding careless collisions. The samurai-inspired boss encounters are mercifully short, and a high score at the top of the screen gives you something to shoot for. Besides the pulse-pounding soundtrack, Robo Aleste doesn't leverage much of the system's capabilities, and the first two stages look downright grainy! It isn't much to look at, but Robo Aleste is probably the most addictive game I've played on my Sega CD. © Copyright 2014 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 2,349,320