Sega CD Reviews S-Z

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 

Sewer Shark
Grade: D
Publisher: Digital Pictures (1992)
Reviewed: 2000/10/1

screenshotIt's difficult to fathom that this was the pack-in game for the Sega CD. Does shooting rats in a sewer sound appealing? Well that's pretty much all Sewer Shark has to offer. Sure, Sega tried to spice it up with some grainy video footage of your co-pilot "Ghost", who acts like he just drank three pots of coffee. His overacting is annoying, but at least he's got spirit. You'll also meet other pilots, an idiotic robot (a weak attempt at comic relief), and your nasty boss who'll let you know just how bad a job you're doing. But the basic gameplay involves traveling through a never-ending tube, shooting pixelated rats by aiming crosshairs. You periodically need to change tubes in response to verbal directions. It's hard to see the holes leading to other tubes coming, making navigation difficult. It's all very confusing in general. And since Sewer Shark is linear (with no password), you'll have to sit through the same lame video sequences each time you play. Not very exciting. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 32338
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 

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 

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 

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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1 or 2 players 

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 

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 

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 

Supreme Warrior
Grade: F
Publisher: Digital Pictures (1994)
Reviewed: 2001/3/9

screenshotSupreme Warrior is a full-motion video fighter along the same lines as Prize Fighter. But unlike that black and white boxing game, this one is martial arts, and the video is in full color. I have to admit it's a neat premise to battle with a raging kung-fu warrior from a first-person point of view. If only the game was playable! The action is preceded by a pep talk from your wise master. The video is colorful but grainy, and there are annoying pauses in the video and sound. A female guide leads you to your various opponents. There are twelve in all, each with their own particular fighting style. Unfortunately, you can throw all the punches, kicks and blocks that you want, but you can only connect at certain predetermined times, which is a drag. Apparently there are some visual cues, but I couldn't make any sense out of them. I tried to carefully time my moves, and then I tried button mashing, but it didn't seem to make a difference either way. Supreme Warrior is another good idea ruined by poor gameplay.. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.
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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 

Grade: A-
Publisher: Virgin (1993)
Reviewed: 2003/7/18

screenshotMany Sega CD side-scrollers are notorious for being straight Genesis ports with enhanced music. Terminator addresses this concern immediately in the instruction book: "The Terminator CD is not just an upgrade of the Genesis game. It is a unique product, containing 10 entirely new levels of backgrounds and animations along with cinematic intermissions and an original score." Obviously, Virgin put some effort into this, and they want you to know it.

The action begins with a small video screen showing some post-apocalyptic scenes from the first Terminator film. To be honest, the video quality is so grainy that you can barely tell what you're looking at. Fortunately, the game screens look terrific, loaded with vibrant colors and large, detailed objects. Playing as Kyle Reese, you face tens stages of intense platform shooting action. You begin in the apocalyptic future, but eventually work your way back to 1984, where you explore city streets, rooftops, a police station, and even the "Technoir" Bar.

Armed with a rapid-fire gun and grenades, Kyle faces Arnold look-alikes, exoskeletons, tanks, and some wild spider-shaped droids. Kyle looks somewhat dorky (he kicks his legs when he jumps), but the terminators look fierce. The gameplay is unoriginal but undeniably fun and challenging. I especially like how you can shoot diagonally while hanging off ladders.

The worst thing about the game is that touching a terminator means instant death, and it sucks when you jump down from a ledge and accidentally land on one. The most remarkable aspect of the game has to be the musical score. Presented in "Q Sound", the music is simply outstanding and very consistent with the soundtrack of the film. It will get your adrenaline pumping too. Overall Terminator is a terrific Sega CD title. . © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 

Time Gal
Grade: D
Publisher: Renovation (1993)
Reviewed: 2002/10/11

screenshotTime Gal takes its cue from Dragon's Lair, the original laserdisc game. It's a full-motion video (FMV) game which you only interact with at certain predetermined moments. Despite being a huge fan of the original Dragon's Lair, Time Gal did not impress me. The grainy video intro is lackluster, but it's not the graphic quality that kills the game - it's the lousy frame rate.

Time Gal is a sexy chick thrust into various periods of history from 700000000 BC to 1991. She has to deal with rampaging dinosaurs, gladiators and pirates, and high-tech weaponry of the present. The situations are pretty wild, but the low frame rate makes it hard to tell what the heck is going on, and that's a problem since you only have a split second to respond.

Fortunately the screen provides visual cues in the form of four glowing jewels, which you'll inevitably come to rely on completely. In fact, you'll pay so much attention to these jewels that you'll barely catch a glimpse of what's happening on the screen. Since most moves can't be logically deduced, memorization is the key to getting through the levels. Many correct moves actually seem to defy logic, like when you're sitting on top of a dinosaur's mouth, and need to push down to escape. At least the stages are randomized somewhat.

Another strange thing about the game is how Time Gal turns into a chubby cartoon character whenever she dies. I guess this was meant to soften the violence. When a real person gets crushed by a mammoth, it's tragic, but when it happens to a cartoon character - it's funny! ! © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 

Tomcat Alley
Grade: C+
Publisher: Sega (1994)
Reviewed: 2002/1/4

screenshotThis flight combat simulator plays like an interactive video, seamlessly intertwining short video clips together based on your actions. Unfortunately, the video is extremely grainy and not very easy on the eyes. Between stages are acting scenes to advance the plot, and these are mercifully short. Once you get in the air, gameplay involves selecting icons on the screen and targeting enemy aircraft. Tomcat is really a twitch game played from a first-person viewpoint. Most of the time the icon you need to choose is blinking, but since you only have a few seconds to react, things can get pretty intense. Shooting down enemy planes is satisfying thanks to a nice variety of explosive video footage. Although you have no control of your plane's movement, the visuals are a nice mix of actual plane footage and computer-generated video. You can save your place between missions. Tomcat Alley isn't much to look at, but the gameplay was better than I expected. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.
1 player 

Trivial Pursuit Interactive Multimedia Game
Grade: F
Publisher: Parker Bros. (1994)
Reviewed: 2012/2/7
Rating: Mature Audiences (MA-13)

screenshotI was tempted to say Trivial Pursuit didn't age well, but frankly I can't imagine it was ever much fun to begin with! This ill-advised title takes the formula of the popular board game and incorporates cheesy music, pixelated images, and grainy video clips. It also drags things out to an excruciating degree. There are long pauses while questions are loading, and they're introduced with unnecessary "category intro" screens. Images used for questions are "enhanced" with various fade and rotation effects, but this just drags things out even further. When you win a piece you're subjected to an unfunny animation of two goofy guys engaged in wacky hijinks.

Trivial Pursuit's user interface is poorly designed and even the instruction manual is incomprehensible. My friend George and I were finally able to figure it out but it was not worth the effort. After rolling the dice the CPU presents you with several move options which you cycle between. You'd expect landing on a "piece square" would be the default, but apparently the game isn't that smart. When a question is displayed, you're supposed to say the answer out loud. Once the answer is displayed, you need to inform the game if you were right or wrong! I'm not making this up!

In addition to the "classic mode", there's a "fast mode" which does away with the game board altogether. It's an improvement, but you're still waiting upwards of 30 seconds between questions. As the final insult, the game only supports one controller! That's right, this is a game designed for up to six players and you'll need to pass around a single controller. What a party killer. I can't imagine how anyone would possibly prefer this over the normal board game. © Copyright 2012 The Video Game Critic.

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1 to 6 players 

Ultraverse Prime
Grade: C
Publisher: Sony (1994)
Reviewed: 2019/3/23

screenshotAfter a little research I learned Prime was a comic book hero created in 1993 by Malibu Comics. Deemed too weak to stand on its own, Ultraverse Prime was packaged as a "Double Deal" with the previously released Microcosm (Psygnosis, 1993). Its side-scrolling beat-em-up gameplay is pure textbook, borrowing many combat elements from better games. You control a hero in red-and-yellow tights fighting muscle men in rainy alleys, lizard men in sewers, and Rock 'em Sock 'em robots in computer rooms.

The characters are small by 16-bit standards and the colors are badly oversaturated. It's as if the developers cranked up the colors in an attempt to show off the system's palette. That said, the game is still fun to play. The controls feel responsive as you rapidly unleash punches, kicks, and jump-kicks. The rapid-fire punches are just about all you'll need. In the opening stage you can even hoist an entire car or dumpster over your head. Some of the best moves are clearly inspired by Batman Returns (SNES, 1993) including the ability to hurl an enemy into a wall or knock two guys' heads together. If you get overwhelmed just press all three buttons to unleash your super move.

Flying stages break up the monotony but they aren't very fun because even if you punch the incoming missiles and floating mines you still take damage. Ultraverse Prime feels undercooked. While walking around a sewer, shouldn't your feet be under the water? An omnipresent gray line across the bottom of the screen looks like a glitch.

The soundtrack is just bizarre, with songs that seem totally inappropriate! Stage one's theme sounds like Christmas disco music, and the other flute-laden tunes sound like they belong in an RPG. The game does offer a few nice extras including a video documentary and a dozen digitized Prime comic books you can read in their entirety! You'll need to zoom in and out to read the words, but hey - at least they made the effort. Ultraverse Prime might not be one of the best Sega CD games but it's one of the more interesting. . © Copyright 2019 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 340k
1 player 

Who Shot Johnny Rock?
Grade: F
Publisher: American Laser Games (1991)
Reviewed: 2019/3/23

screenshotI've played my share of piss-poor Sega CD titles but Who Shot Johnny Rock takes the cake. Its full-screen video has got to be the worst in terms of quality I've seen on any system. Pixelated and oversaturated, it hurts your eyes! The main character in this 1930's-era point-and-shoot title is a glamorous blonde named Red. She wants you solve the murder of her man Johnny. After a brief intro you're able to select a stage from a city map including a casino, warehouse, and pool hall. But if you thought the game looked bad, wait until you get a load of the controls. Oh dear.

Moving the cursor with a regular controller is a complete joke. In many cases crooks begin shooting immediately after the scene loads, leaving you no time to aim! And if a bad guy gets off a single shot you're dead. I tried the light gun option and my Konami Justifier was functional once I calibrated it. The collision detection is loose as all hell but half the time that works in your favor.

What works against you is the lack of clarity in the graphics. You can't tell the difference between a gangster holding a shotgun or a bundle of flowers! Make sure you don't shoot the screaming woman who seems to show up at each location. You'd think the audio would be decent but this game has more crackles and pops than a breakfast cereal! When it comes to the Sega CD, Who Shot Johnny Rock embodies the worst of the system. © Copyright 2019 The Video Game Critic.

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Our high score: 300
1 player 

Wild Woody
Grade: D-
Publisher: Sega (1995)
Reviewed: 2020/7/29
Rating: Kids to Adults

screenshotIt's hard to believe Sega signed off on this weak platformer. They must have really been really hard-up for new Sega CD titles. Wild Woody begins with a mildly entertaining full-motion video cutscene introducing the main character as a pencil possessed by the spirit of Jim Carrey. The action begins with a pirate stage featuring nice harbor scenery and boats rocking to and fro. The platform action however feels kind of stale as you climb ropes, leap over flames, grab icons, and rub out enemies with your butt. Okay that last part might be new, but the controls are a mess.

Woody stumbles around like he's drunk and it's hard to tell what you can jump or grab onto. Random projectiles like cannonballs rain down from the sky. Erasing an enemy with your butt may sound like a good time, but the controls are so loose you tend to incur damage in the process. Woody can also rub out certain walls and floors marked with red arrows. The graphics aren't particularly sharp and I couldn't even figure out what some of the enemies were supposed to be. Is that a pelican carrying a huge ball sack?

Advanced stages like Mythology World and Cemetery World had great potential but turned out to be very cookie-cutter. The looping "music" is abrasive and the loud sound effects are irritating. Wild Woody's one ace in the hole is his ability to "draw" power-ups. You can sketch a kite to fly, a boat to cross water, or even a sexy mermaid to mesmerize your enemies. The game actually contains a naughty mermaid "glitch" which renders her topless!

Unfortunately the mechanism for employing these sketches is awkward and time consuming. Worse yet, each sketch causes Woody to become progressively shorter. When you finally grab a restorative power-up Wild Woody will vigorously yank himself until he gets big again. Ahem. It's beginning to dawn on me that this entire game may have been predicated on a lame joke. Why did they even put this on CD? I'm guessing because they could. > © Copyright 2020 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 

Willy Beamish, The Adventures of
Grade: D
Publisher: Dynamix (1992)
Reviewed: 2010/9/18

screenshotWilly Beamish is basically a point-and-click adventure where you play the role of a rambunctious boy who misbehaves in school, antagonizes his sisters, and enjoys playing his "Nintari" video console. The story begins with Willy landing in detention after his pet frog dislodges the principal's toupee during a school assembly. The graphics are cartoonish but meticulously detailed, and the quirky soundtrack grows on you. The game's offbeat style borders on bizarre, but even its juvenile humor has a certain charm.

The teacher running detention is a hideous witch who actually spits as she berates the kids. Willy's mom on the other hand is a certified hottie, and the well-endowed school nurse is quite a sight as well. Willy's deceased grandfather sometimes appears as an apparition to dispense advice. Escaping the school is your first challenge, and once you begin exploring the town you uncover a plot to blow up the sewer system.

Much of the gameplay involves selecting between several lines of dialogue, and choosing the wrong one can bring the game to an abrupt conclusion. You can also manipulate items in your inventory, allowing you to do things like combine items or give objects to people. One pleasant surprise is the Monster Squad mini-game you play on your Nintari. This simple shooter packs more action than the rest of the game combined.

The problem with Willy Beamish is its unresponsive interface and constant loading. After clicking on something you need to wait a few seconds for it to register, and it's really aggravating. Some actions trigger tedious disk accesses that cause the screen to freeze in place for a good 10 or 15 seconds. This turns what should be an enjoyable romp into a plodding ordeal. There is a save mechanism, but it doesn't appear in Willy's backpack until after he's left the school. The irreverent humor would appeal to kids today, but I doubt they'd have the patience for this. Willy Beamish has a lot of likeable qualities and a definite nostalgic appeal, but on a technical level it has aged poorly. © Copyright 2010 The Video Game Critic.

Save mechanism: Backup RAM
1 player 

Grade: F
Publisher: Sega (1995)
Reviewed: 2014/12/26
Rating: Teen

screenshotI have a soft spot for full-motion video (FMV) games but Wirehead represents the worst the genre has to offer. We're talking about cringe-worthy graphics, abysmal control, and gameplay that defies logic at every turn. You "control" (and I use the term loosely) a dorky middle-aged father named Ned via a remote transmitter. Ned is on the run from two clumsy agents who chase him through a neighborhood, airport, saloon (?), zoo, and cruise ship. In one scene Ned appears to be wrestling with a bear!

You can only issue commands (mostly directional) at specific moments and see how they play out. The action scenes are interspersed with long stretches where you do nothing but watch bad acting. To be fair, It's hard to discern the acting quality from the severely pixelated visuals. I laughed when my friend Chris squinted at a woman on the screen and remarked "I think she's remotely hot". The video consumes the entire screen but most of the time it's so blocky and washed-out that you want to avert your eyes.

During dangerous situations arrows appear on the screen prompting you to quickly choose the correct direction or face an untimely demise. The thing is, it's total trial-and-error. It's never clear if the directions are relative to Ned or the camera, and in either case you can't see enough to make a rational decision.

Even when you choose the correct option Ned often heads in some other direction. I couldn't get past the first scene without an FAQ, but with Chris reading off the correct moves we were able to make substantial progress. It didn't come without a price however. Namely we were bored out of our minds! I got the sinking feeling Wirehead was filmed first and made into a game later. Suffice to say it sucks as a movie and blows enormous chunks as a game. . © Copyright 2014 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 

Grade: B
Publisher: JVC (1992)
Reviewed: 2015/2/11

screenshotWith the exception of its kick-ass soundtrack, Wolfchild is your typical Genesis-quality side-scroller. So what's wrong with that? The opening cut-scene is unintentionally hilarious as a news anchor pauses and stares silently at the screen whenever the disc has to load. The star of the game is a loner who transforms into a wolf, much like Altered Beast (Genesis, 1989). The graphics are modest at best, with smallish sprites, grainy scenery, and less-than-fluid animation. The crystal-clear music is exceptional however, delivering pulsating beats that are actually kind of relaxing.

As a man you can jump, punch, and drop smart bombs. As a wolf you unleash projectiles including a three-way shot, homing missiles, and penetrating bullets that obliterate stone walls. The stages take you through a jungle, temple, and lab, and they are ideal in length. There are alternate routes and hidden areas to discover, but sometimes you feel like you're moving in circles. Enemies include wasps, flying robots, lizard men, and lethargic guards who seem to be just waiting for you to punch them in the face.

Occasional annoyances include hazards that sprout underfoot, but if you play the game on easy it's forgiving enough. I also enjoyed the pacing - you can really get into a zone while running and gunning through the corridors. Wolfchild may not be a showcase title for the Sega CD, but it's still one heck of a game. . © Copyright 2015 The Video Game Critic.

Recommended variation: easy
Our high score: 116,900
1 player 

Wonder Dog
Grade: C

screenshotI remember back in 1992 when my friend Keith brought Wonder Dog over to my house, along with his Sega CD system. I had seen magazines rave about this game, but it turned out to be pretty lame. Predictably, Wonder Dog begins with a full motion video segment that's cheesy in a Saturday morning cartoon way and unintentionally funny (although there is one tear-jerking moment).

The game itself is a straight-forward platformer comparable to something you'd play on the Genesis. Wonder Dog features cutesy characters, illustrated backdrops, and irrepressibly happy music. Whether you find these qualities to be more irritating or endearing will depend on your own sensibilities. The main character is a space dog in suspenders with the ability to slide, dig, and shoot stars in a rapid-fire fashion.

Shooting stars is the best part of the game. You can aim them high or low, and they can clear a nice path in front of you. Oddly, you'll sustain damage from every creature you touch, including tiny bunny rabbits. I found Wonderdog's control scheme to be pretty awkward, especially since you must often use the dash and jump buttons together. There are plenty of items to collect, hidden areas, and well-designed boss encounters. For Sega CD fans looking to take a break from the full-motion video (FMV) games, this isn't a bad choice if you can stomach its kiddie style. . © Copyright 2005 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 

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