Sega CD Reviews S

Samurai Shodown
Grade: D-
Publisher: JVC (1993)
Reviewed: 2002/3/12

screenshotThis is a step up from the lame Genesis version, but it's still not very good. Samurai Shodown is a 2D fighter along the lines of Street Fighter 2, only the fighters have weapons. The imaginative characters are the one thing I like about this game. The graphics are improved slightly over the Genesis version, but are still light years behind the superior 3DO version. As you would expect from a CD game, the music and sound effects are pretty decent, but the action is sluggish, which greatly diminishes the fun. But the biggest letdown is the fact that the game's trademark scaling was NOT implemented in this version. What happened? I thought the Sega CD was capable of that! Instead of scaling, we just get long load times. This fighter didn't do much for me. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.
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1 or 2 players 

Secret of Monkey Island, The
Grade: C+

screenshotOriginally a point-and-click computer game, The Secret of Monkey Island imbues its distinctive pirate theme with charm and personality. The main character is an ordinary fellow named Guybrush Threepwood who fantasizes about being king of the pirates. He'll explore islands, talk to people, and manipulate items to solve puzzles on his way to cracking the secret.

The rich Caribbean scenery boasts moonlit townships, sunny beaches, dense jungles, and ominous caverns. While speaking to characters you'll see close-ups of their faces which exhibit a wide range of emotions. The fantastic audio track includes rollicking tavern tunes that are sure to put you in a swashbuckling mood. The outdoor areas have subtle natural sounds like crickets, seagulls, and waves.

A cursor is used to guide Guybrush around the screen and interact with the scenery. The lower section of the screen allows you to select simple word commands and browse your inventory. You'll want to speak with most of the people you encounter and the dialogue is entertaining. The jokes come early and often, and there's even a brief cameo by George Lucas himself!

The method in which sword fighting is facilitated by hurling insults back and forth is brilliant. Unfortunately, the game has to load whenever you do anything, including selecting a simple phrase, and all the waiting is a drag. The animation is sluggish as well, so dragging Guybrush from one side of the island to another can be a tedious exercise.

But my biggest complaint about Monkey Island is the nonsensical nature of the puzzles which require you to combine items in unlikely ways. To put guard dogs to sleep, you need to combine a piece of meat with flowers? Some may find these head-scratchers endearing but most will be reaching for the FAQ. The Secret of Monkey Island is a genuine classic, but I'm afraid the fun is hampered a bit by this laggy Sega CD translation. © Copyright 2020 The Video Game Critic.

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Save mechanism: Password
1 player 

new Sewer Shark
Grade: D
Publisher: Digital Pictures (1992)
Reviewed: 2021/5/20

screenshotI'd love to know the thought process behind selecting Sewer Shark as the pack-in title for the new Sega CD system. I guess nothing says "welcome to the next level" like shooting rats in sewers! I'm pretty sure this game was conceived after someone filmed a camera moving through a miniature tunnel and thought "Hey - I could make a game out of this!" The thrill of speeding through a sewer is fleeting however thanks to the small screen and grainy video.

First you're briefed by your sewer commander "Ghost" who just drank about three pots of coffee. When I say "briefed" I just mean he yells at you a lot. Once launched into the sewer you can aim a reticle to shoot. Holding the A button engages rapid-fire, and it's fun to pick off the rats and bats that have infested the tunnels. Unfortunately you'll need to focus your concentration on navigating the many branching paths. You're periodically given a set of directions, and if you don't follow them to the letter you'll crash into a dead end. Game over!

Even when you get proficient at navigation you need to worry about "recharging" on occasion. I could never figure this part out! Apparently when you're alerted about an upcoming recharge area you're supposed to turn towards a green light or something. I never saw it, but I guess when you're staring at a blurry image on a cropped screen it's easy to miss.

The shooting and steering aren't so bad on their own but trying to do both at once is like patting your head while rubbing your stomach. The music has a metallic quality that will rattle your fillings. Still, there's something endearing about Sewer Shark. Grainy graphics, abrasive music, bad acting, inscrutable gameplay... this is what full-motion video gaming is all about! © Copyright 2021 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 32,338
1 player 

Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective
Grade: D-
Publisher: Sega (1992)
Reviewed: 2013/2/21
Rating: Everyone

screenshotWho would have thought a Sherlock Holmes detective game would be so boring? Oh wait - that would be everybody in the whole wide world! I'm not the most cerebral gamer but I gave Sherlock Holmes the old college try. This thought-provoking/sleep-inducing title offers three separate mysteries to solve: The Mummy's Curse, The Mystified Murderess, and The Tin Soldier. Investigating a case involves visiting various characters, listening for rumors on the street, and looking through newspapers for clues.

You begin with a notebook listing names of interest. I like how you can add additional names, but the method for doing so is anything but intuitive. Video clips are displayed in a small window in the center of the screen. The level of detail is modest, but the most important information is embedded in the dialogue anyway. Listen closely for names and places that might turn up new leads. The London directory contains hundreds of names, so it's critical to narrow down your suspects.

Paging through about twelve newspapers is probably the most tedious part of the game, and the antiquated user interface doesn't help. The icons aren't descriptive at all, and the concept of tool tips hadn't even been invented yet. There's no uniform way to close windows, and why the unused C button wasn't used for this purpose I'll never know. And why in the world would anybody put a magnifying glass icon on a close button? You'll also have to deal with frequent disc accesses, although they tend to be short.

Sherlock Holmes is the kind of game that requires patience and concentration, if only to keep track of all the names being bantered about. I think Sega greatly overestimated their target audience when they included this as the Sega CD pack-in game. My friend Chris was really gung-ho about this at first, but after about 15 minutes he was like, "I'm sorry, I can't do this anymore!" (as I laughed hysterically). Cerebral players looking for a challenge can bump up the grade by a letter, and the rest of you may find the D- grade a little generous. © Copyright 2013 The Video Game Critic.

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1 player 

Silpheed
Grade: C+
Publisher: Sega (1993)
Reviewed: 2014/5/10


screenshotThe polygon-rendered opening scene of Silpheed was gee-whiz stuff in 1993. Watching ships mobilize to alarms is not so special now, but the narration about a computer being "network jacked" by an unknown terrorist group struck me as an insightful glimpse of the future. The objects in the game are also rendered with polygons but tend to be very small. Tiny enemies scale in from the black void of space, and some look like fleas flying in formation. You can fire rapidly and it's satisfying to wipe out the circular formations. Before long however you face enemies that can absorb more shots, making your firepower feel weak.

The pre-rendered backdrops of imposing asteroids and looming planets look nice but mainly serve as eye candy. Silpheed is fun but confusing. It's hard to tell when you're taking damage or colliding with scenery. Sometimes explosions appear around the screen for no apparent reason. During the first boss encounter your commander exclaims, "Look at the size of that thing!" while I'm thinking, "That's pretty small for a boss!" The ability to customize your weapons between stages gives Silpheed some much-needed depth.

The electronic music is appealing, calling to mind the edgy tunes of Thunder Force 3 (Genesis, 1991). Voices over the radio include a guy with a southern accent who gave me flashbacks of B-17 Bomber (Intellivision, 1982). The audio quality is surprisingly weak considering the CD format. The muffled voices are hard to make out, and the super-effeminate "game over" voice cracks me up. Silpheed is easy to pick apart but if you're weary of playing grainy full-motion video games on your Sega CD, this is just what the doctor ordered. © Copyright 2014 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 173,850
1 player 

Snatcher
Grade: A
Publisher: Konami (1994)
Reviewed: 2002/3/12

screenshotThis outstanding graphic adventure is one of the best games I've ever played on my Sega CD. It's set in a futuristic city where nocturnal "Snatchers" murder people and assume their identities. You are a detective with amnesia whose mission is to locate and destroy the source of the Snatchers. While the game is dark, serious, and intense, the tongue-in-cheek dialog occasionally borders on hilarious. A good example is when the hero reveals, "Since my girlfriend has amnesia too, there's not much there to base a relationship on."

Tools at your disposal include a robot companion, a computer database, a videophone, and a "turbocycle" to get you around town. The intriguing storyline borrows heavily from movies like Blade Runner and Invasion of the Body Snatchers. The game screen consists of a partially animated graphic above a menu of text options. Dramatic music, distinctive sound effects, and outstanding comic book-style graphics really immerse you in this mysterious world.

The text option menus, which are often several layers deep, allow you to look, investigate, move, talk, ask, use, and show possessions. There are always plenty of options available at any given time, but since they are limited, you're not likely to get stuck in any one place for too long. The menus are easy to navigate, the load time is practically non-existent, and you can save your place to memory at any time.

While Snatcher is mostly an adventure, there is an occasional shooting sequence that requires quick reflexes. Although Konami's Justifier light gun is supported, a normal controller is actually easier to use in these stages. Snatcher is like a good book that you can't put down. The graphics and sound are above average, but it's the thrilling storyline that makes it a classic. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 

Sol-Feace
Grade: C-
Publisher: Wolf Team (1991)
Reviewed: 2020/5/19

screenshotOriginally developed as a launch title for the Sega CD, Sol-Feace didn't show off enough of the system's capabilities so Sega included it as a free pack-in. If you think this looks like a Genesis title, you'll be interested to know it was also released as Sol-Deace (Genesis, 1991). To help establish its CD street-cred this version kicks off with an elaborate cut-scene boasting full-screen animation and digitized voices. The game itself is forgettable but the music is a substantial upgrade to the Genesis version.

The first stage takes place in a space junkyard where it's hard to tell what your ship can pass over (or under). Beat the boss and you'll see: "Next Mission: Break through the enemy's arsenal." Yikes! At the start of stage two there are all sorts of robotic arms reaching out which seem impossible to avoid. Eventually I learned you can safely fly over them as long as you avoid the blue parts. Not very intuitive!

One original feature is your ability to configure your ship on the fly to shoot wide, focus ahead, or concentrate high or low. You can only adjust while not firing, adding a strategic element. None of the stages are particularly interesting but the challenge is there. Sol-Feace wasn't the best fit for the Sega CD but it's a playable little shooter. © Copyright 2020 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 35,688
1 player 

Sonic CD
Grade: B-
Publisher: Sega (1993)
Reviewed: 2014/5/10


screenshotSonic CD gets off to a rip-roaring start with a lively animated sequence featuring the "Sonic Boom" theme song. Catchy and upbeat, it's got to be one of the best video game songs ever. I even find myself singing it around the house! Sonic CD has more 2D Sonic action than you can shake a stick at, although the box's claim of "over 50 stages" seems suspect.

The first stage is the Tropical Rhythms zone, and the gameplay feels like classic Genesis action - with a few exceptions. The spin-dash move doesn't work as well. The stages are flashy and colorful, but not particularly memorable. The amount of slow-down exhibited by this game is shocking - especially during boss encounters.

One innovative new feature is time travel. By touching "past" or "future" signposts and then maintaining a certain speed you are transported to a different version of the same stage. The animation of switching time zones is loud and obnoxious. The new time zones aren't any more interesting, although they do feature their own graphic style and music. Facilitating time travel are contraptions that propel your blue ass all over the place, and it's easy to time travel by accident. In fact, I found myself slowing down on purpose just to avoid it!

The early stages are fun, but some of the later stages like Wacky Workbench and Stardust Speedway are irritating and repetitive. The special stages employ "mode seven" style graphics like F-Zero (SNES, 1991) but the depth perception is problematic as you attempt to bash hovering UFO's. That said, this CD gives you a heck of a lot of Sonic for your money, and there are several surprises in store including an encounter with Metal Sonic.

The soundtrack is sensational, ranging from tropical steel drums to edgy electronics to soothing vocals. The moody rhythms of the Tidal Tempest zone are downright mesmerizing. Sonic CD's difficulty is fairly low and an autosave lets you continue on the stage where you left off. The manual makes a pretty big deal about the Q-Sound, providing expert audio advice like "don't place one speaker on a pile of books" (really?). Q-Sound is more subtle than real surround sound, but still effective. The laughter that envelopes you when you die is pretty creepy. Sonic CD didn't quite live up to its lofty expectations, but if you want classic 2D Sonic, it has plenty to offer. © Copyright 2014 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 183,100
1 player 

Soul Star
Grade: C
Publisher: Core (1994)
Reviewed: 2001/8/22


screenshotThis space shooter was clearly designed to take advantage of Sega CD's strengths, including color, scaling, and sound. Soul Star's gameplay can best be described as Star Fox (SNES) with sprite graphics. Viewing your ship from behind, you blast your way through stage after stage of incoming enemies. Stages take place over land, in space, and in enclosed areas. The ocean stage is probably the most attractive, and it bears a striking resemblance to the water level in Lightning Force (Genesis). Although you begin the game in a spaceship, later stages allow you to control a helicopter or a walker. Unfortunately, some stages run far too long, and the gameplay isn't particularly exciting. Soul Star does support the six-button controller, and provides a two-player cooperative mode. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.
1 or 2 players 

Spiderman vs. the Kingpin
Grade: B+
Publisher: Sega (1993)
Reviewed: 2000/9/21


screenshotThis is clearly a remake of the original Genesis Spiderman game, with many of the graphics and level designs taken directly from that game. But Spiderman vs. the Kingpin is actually a significant improvement, especially when it comes to the control.

As with the original Spiderman game, our hero must move from level to level, punching endless thugs and facing six different villains. But this time there are A LOT more levels, and you can choose the order in which to play them.

The fighting hasn't changed much - you'll still punch the same villains over and over again, but the improved control makes it easy and fun to climb on walls and ceilings. The graphics are slightly improved, and feature more interesting levels and backgrounds than the first game.

Cartoon quality cut-scenes are used to convey the story, and although they can take a while to sit through, they're pretty darn funny (unintentionally?). Other cool features include a password save feature and a gallery of artwork. Thumbs up! © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.

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1 player 

Star Strike
Grade: D+
Publisher: Good Deal Games (2001)
Reviewed: 2002/10/23

screenshotStar Strike is one of two old Sony projects (circa 1994) recently resurrected by Good Deal Games, the other being Bug Blasters. Star Strike is definitely the better of the two, and it looks like it even had a budget to work with. A first-person space shooter, you move a cursor around the screen and shoot at asteroids, aliens, or large cruisers that appear in view.

The animation is rough and the collision detection is questionable, but at least the number of objects on the screen decreases as you shoot them (unlike Bug Blasters). The dialog isn't too bad, and there are a few nice-looking babes in the cut-scenes. Even the special effects are respectable. The spaceships look realistic, the rubber aliens are somewhat scary, and the explosions are quite satisfying.

The video is full screen and there's virtually no load times. On the down side, there's no score, and one hit ends your game. Due to its extremely limited production, Star Strike is a collector's item for Sega CD enthusiasts. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 

Star Wars Chess
Grade: C-
Publisher: LucasArts (1994)
Reviewed: 2005/5/18

screenshotI'm not a big chess fan, but I gravitate towards anything Star Wars. In Star Wars Chess, the pieces are represented by your favorite characters from the films; including Yoda, Luke, Leia, Darth Vader, the Emperor, Chewbacca, C3PO, R2D2, and Boba Fett. The characters are easily recognizable, but being hand-drawn, they look cheesy.

The game is played exactly like chess, except when a piece is captured a non-interactive animated sequence shows one character overtaking the other. These "battle" sequences tend to be clever, funny, and entertaining to watch - the first time. Unfortunately, you'll see certain animations with annoying frequency. Still, when you consider all the combinations of characters, it's quite a bit of animation. The chess aspect itself is pretty good.

There are loads of options, including helpful hints and the ever-popular "switch sides" option (comes in handy for me). The CPU player is intelligent and doesn't require an inordinate amount of time to execute a move. Although the default view is a bit cluttered (making it hard to see the empty spaces), an overhead view (with traditional chess pieces) is also available. Star Wars Chess is mainly a novelty item, but even if you don't like chess, you can always sit back and watch the computer play itself. © Copyright 2005 The Video Game Critic.

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Star Wars: Rebel Assault
Grade: F
Publisher: LucasArts (1993)
Reviewed: 2005/5/18

screenshotI wish I had played this game before I played Rebel Assault II on my Playstation, because these low-quality graphics are almost too much to bear. Rebel Assault is one of those annoying games where you spend most of the time watching video. Many of the clips are taken directly from the Star Wars films, although they are severely pixilated (due to the Sega CD's limited color palette).

The new footage tends to be awful - almost comical. In some cases, they superimposed moving lips and eyes over stiff faces, and the effect is unconvincing at best; downright creepy at worst. At least the video segments extend across the full screen - a rarity for the Sega CD. Rebel Assault's audio really shocked me. The music is far from CD quality, and the digitized sound effects are rough.

The stages include Tie fighter shooting, navigating an asteroid field, mounting an attack run on a Star Destroyer, and taking down an Imperial Walker. There are also a few crude stormtrooper shootout stages, but your character looks like a woman for some reason. The space shooting stages are best (easiest to tolerate), where you aim at obvious targets and have very limited range of movement.

You have no control over your general direction, and waiting for your ship to turn around (for another run) takes forever. The worst stages are those where you must navigate a ship through confined areas (like a desert canyon). The steering controls are extremely unresponsive, and determining your position from the pixelated graphics is difficult. Rebel Assault could have gotten by on graphics alone in 1993, but it hasn't aged well. I didn't enjoy playing this at all. © Copyright 2005 The Video Game Critic.

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Our high score: 5125
1 player 

Starblade
Grade: D+
Publisher: Namco (1994)
Reviewed: 2017/11/17


screenshotStarting this up and seeing that vivid red Namco logo gave me flashbacks to 1995 when the company was flying high on the strength of groundbreaking titles like Ridge Racer (PS1, 1995) and Tekken (PS1, 1995). It's hard to believe Starblade arrived only a year before those two. At a glance this polygon-based space shooter resembles Shadow Squadron (Sega 32X, 1994) except the action is "on rails". You're just along for the ride, aiming a reticule and holding down the fire button to unleash rapid-fire laser shots.

With no bombs, special weapons, or apparent strategy, Starblade feels remarkably shallow. The graphics aren't bad though. The mission briefing screens boast all sorts of elaborate 3D diagrams and cool statistical readouts, not unlike Call of Duty: Black Ops (Xbox 360, 2010). Once your mission begins you view the action from a first-person perspective. The polygon visuals look pretty sweet for the Sega CD, even if it only consumes about two-thirds of the screen. The framerate is quite smooth as you weave around space frigates and plunge into rocky ravines.

You'll take aim at enemy ships flying across the screen and the explosions are satisfying. The wireframe enemies took me back to my old Atari ST days when I used to play a game called Starglider. The solid ships are impervious to your shots, and it sounds like someone tapping on a keyboard when you hammer their hulls. The hit detection is forgiving and that's good because the controls really suck.

There's little precision when trying to aim with that digital pad. The audio is surprisingly weak. The radio guy seems disinterested, as if the programmers roped in some guy from HR to do the voice work. Some of his navigational alerts are suspect. "Now making a steep rise"? How does that even make any sense in space? Starblade is unimpressive, but it's kind of fun to play when you feel like turning off your brain for a while. © Copyright 2017 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 530k
1 player 

Stellar-Fire
Grade: F
Publisher: Dynamix (1993)
Reviewed: 2018/7/1

screenshotStellar-Fire is one of those bland games that makes you wonder what angle the developers were going for. It begins with the obligatory full-motion video (FMV) introduction, interspersing shots of actors in a cockpit with computer-generated space battles. This game is big on audio so crank up the stereo. In the first mission briefing the lady's voice has a resonating quality that makes it sound as if I'm hearing voices in my head.

The game screen offers a first-person perspective with views of a dark planet surface with mountains and planets looming in the distance. The guitar/synthesizer music has a Survivor-meets-Prince vibe, but the dull, repetitive gameplay undermines the high-energy soundtrack. You're just gliding over the surface of a barren landscape, avoiding obstacles on the ground and enemies in the sky as your radar guides you to your next gem pick-up.

You're armed with cannons and lasers, but they both fire along the ground. See the problem? Your enemies are in the air. The best you can do is keep shooting and hope they dive into your line of fire. I didn't feel like I was making any progress until I finally encountered a boss that looked like an origami dinosaur. I didn't get much of a look because I was immediately sucked into it and killed. Stellar-Fire does not live up to its name. The box boasts of "state of the art polygon-based graphics" and "thundering CD music" but I would have settled for a decent video game, thank you. © Copyright 2018 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 80,830
1 player 

new Supreme Warrior
Grade: F
Publisher: Digital Pictures (1994)
Reviewed: 2021/5/20

screenshotSupreme Warrior begins with footage of a noble hero trekking over a rural countryside before arriving at a quaint Asian village. Though the screen is small and grainy, the colorful exotic scenery is attractive enough. The game itself pits you against a dozen raging martial arts warriors from a first-person perspective. Sounds pretty awesome, right?

A masked villain introduces himself by wielding lightning and leaping from a building. The grainy graphics do a good job of obscuring the low-budget effects. If only they could obscure the cardboard acting! You meet up with an old man and his daughter who request you defeat a series of air, earth, and fire warriors. Being able to select from three sets of fighters adds variety but also entails occasionally swapping in a second disc.

Each opponent has a distinct look but they all tend to jump all over the place. No matter how many punches and kicks you dish out you can only connect at certain predetermined moments, and that really sucks. Periodic visual cues appear around the edge of the screen but they're hard to make sense out of. Timing is key (apparently) but the controls are so unresponsive! I was hoping the training mode might help but this non-interactive video clip isn't even in English!

I couldn't help but notice no FAQs were available for this game and that doesn't surprise me. This is the kind of game you play a few times, throw up your hands and move on. Supreme Warrior has a tantalizing concept that never lives up to its promise. Not even close. The only thing supreme about this game is the sense of disappointment that quickly sets in. © Copyright 2021 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 

Surgical Strike
Grade: B+
Publisher: TruVideo (1995)
Reviewed: 2001/3/9

screenshotWow I've never seen so many cool explosions in my life! Your mission in this first-person FMV (full motion video) shooter is to move through war-torn battlegrounds and blow up strategic targets. You drive an armored hovercraft armed with gatling guns and missiles. Riding through the streets of a desert city, the FMV graphics depict a raging war complete with burning buildings, bombs, and gunmen.

Target boxes appear to indicate danger ahead, and you must destroy these targets immediately or take damage. Shooting is done by aiming a cursor and firing your guns or missiles. If successful, you'll see a short clip of your weapons firing, followed by an impressive explosion. It's clear that TruVideo spared no expense with the pyrotechnics. There are a huge variety of video clips showing exploding buildings and tanks, often with people flying out of them. Sure, some of the clips repeat after a while, but the quality of this destruction is still quite satisfying.

In order to complete each level, you'll need to destroy several key targets as indicated on a map. Navigating the streets is a piece of cake once you get used to the controls. As with all FMV games, your commander is a big jerk who goes nuts every time you screw up ("You couldn't drive a nail!"). The second and third stages feature a mountain fortress and an island paradise full of babes. Now THAT's incentive! © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.

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1 player 


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