Sega CD Reviews R

Racing Aces
Grade: F
Publisher: Sega (1993)
Reviewed: 2002/3/12


screenshotRacing 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 frame rate just can't keep up, and the visuals range from "somewhat" choppy to "what the heck 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.

1 player 

Revenge of the Ninja
Grade: C
Publisher: Renovation (1994)
Reviewed: 2017/11/17

screenshotToday we expect our games to be in high definition but in 1994 Sega CD owners were accustomed to a level of video quality substantially below television broadcast standards. Revenge of the Ninja's video only consumes about 3/4 of the screen and has all the clarity of a VHS tape that's been dubbed over 100 times. You'd expect the audio to be good at least (it is a CD) yet the music and voices aren't particularly clear. As our hero forges through a sprawling palace he somersaults around traps, fights undead warriors, and faces a fire-breathing hydra.

The gameplay is strongly influenced by Dragon's Lair (3DO, 1993) and certain stages (like the underground rapids) might be considered blatant rip-offs. You must react swiftly to prompts that appear during action sequences or be subjected to a whimsical death sequence. The default normal skill level doesn't give you enough time and the audio feedback lag doesn't help. The hard difficulty omits the arrow cues which is ludicrous because a lot of the moves aren't even intuitive. Fortunately I found the easy difficulty to be just right. It'll keep you on your toes but at least you'll be able to enjoy the stylish action sequences.

You'll battle ninjas in trees, escape a giant red fish underwater, and fight a giant Samurai warrior in the rafters. Although never truly in control, pressing the button to brandish your sword always feels good. The randomized stages aren't very long and it's nice to get a break between stages as the game tallies your score. Once you see that crystal clear "game over" screen however you realize just how grainy the video is. It may not be particularly easy on the eyes but Revenge of the Ninja has enough personality to please anime fans. © Copyright 2017 The Video Game Critic.

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Recommended variation: easy
Our high score: 330,440
1 player 

Revengers of Vengeance
Grade: F-
Publisher: Absolute Entertainment (1994)
Reviewed: 2012/9/23
Rating: MA-13

screenshotboxDoes Revengers of Vengeance know how bad it is, or is the joke on me? Its sensationalized box art ("Fight or Die! Freaks! Freaks! Freaks!") feels like a desperate attempt to attract unsuspecting impulse buyers. This weird fighting game/RPG hybrid straddles the line between "bad" and "huh?" You select one of ten remarkably unlikeable characters including a knight, ninja, werewolf, and a bird-woman.

Your journey begins in a small town that comes across like a parody of every RPG ever made. The local pub serves coffee and you earn attributes by working out in some kind of medieval gym! In order to embark on a mission, you'll need to pay a pretty steep fee! Who thought that was a good idea? Upon departing town you're presented with a number of destinations, each of which has a warrior opponent waiting for you.

The ensuing one-on-one battles are reprehensible by any standard. The characters are rendered in a lame cartoon style that just looks as if they were scribbled in the margin of a notebook during English class. The static dragons and castles in the backgrounds look like toys. The controls are absolutely pathetic, and the larger characters are practically unresponsive.

Fighters float across the screen in slow motion, and any blows you land deal minimal damage. In one case I keeled over in the middle of a fight for no apparent reason, as if the game took a while to realize I didn't have any health left. And just when I thought things couldn't get more bizarre, I was awarded 100 gold coins - for losing! Revengers of Vengeance makes me feel as if I'm in some kind of Bizarro universe where video games try to be bad. File this one under F - for freak show! © Copyright 2012 The Video Game Critic.

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1 or 2 players 

Rise of the Dragon
Grade: C
Publisher: Dynamix (1994)
Reviewed: 2002/10/11


screenshotIn 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.

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1 player 

Road Avenger
Grade: B+
Publisher: Renovation (1992)
Reviewed: 2003/2/14

screenshotI 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.

1 player 

Road Rash
Grade: B-
Publisher: Electronic Arts (1995)
Reviewed: 2003/8/9
Rating: Kids to Adults (6+) (animated violence)


screenshotRoad Rash for the Sega CD is pretty much what I expected: The same ole' stuff except with CD-quality tunes and some grainy video clips. The grinding guitar music ranges in quality between fair and unbearable. It's too bad Electronic Arts didn't splurge and license some popular songs. The only well-known band on here is Soundgarden (Who the heck is Paw? Swervedriver? Monster Magnet?) Personally, I much prefer the computer-generated tunes from the original Road Rash.

The video clips show a bunch of redneck bikers, and once you've seen one video, you won't be able to skip them fast enough. Remove the video and music and all you're left with is the same Road Rash that you've played so many times on the Genesis - although that's not really a bad thing. Oh sure, there's a few minor new features. Oncoming cars now include convertibles, pickup trucks, and sports cars. Every now and then you'll see a pedestrian in the street, and you can now knock the policeman clean off his motorcycle.

But when the game tries to get ambitious, it turns into a joke. The "city" stage, which was so remarkable on the 3DO, is a sad sight here. The large buildings in the background never get bigger, and all you see on the side on the road are tiny buildings the size of phone booths! The other four stages are standard, Genesis-quality fare. There's a two-player mode, but it's alternating only - no split screen.

Yeah, this is pretty disappointing stuff. The only redeeming feature is that you can save your progress to memory (no long passwords). Road Rash on the Sega CD is still a decent game, but the CD features didn't make it any better. NOTE: If you don't have plenty of memory available when you run this game, you'll get the message "PLACEHOLDER" in the corner, and won't be able to play. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.

1 or 2 players 

Robo Aleste
Grade: B+
Publisher: Tengen (1992)
Reviewed: 2014/5/10

screenshotOn 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 cinematic 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
1 player 


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