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Games are rated relative to other games for the same system.

Sega CD Reviews U-Z

Ultraverse Prime
Grade: C
Publisher: Sony (1994)
Posted: 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)
Posted: 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)
Posted: 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)
Posted: 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)
Posted: 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)
Posted: 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 

World Cup USA 94
Grade: F
Publisher: US Gold (1993)
Posted: 2023/1/2

screenshotThis one gets off to a rocking start with a cartoon dog performing soccer ball tricks to the song "No Pain No Gain". Hey - isn't that the Scorpions!? This song absolutely kicks ass. I wish it played during the entire game as opposed to just the title screen.

Trying to set up a match in World Cup USA 94's is a headache. Instead of text, the "menus" consist of rows of tiles with incomprehensible symbols on them. You can barely tell what they are, much less the option they represent. The dog next to the filing cabinet? That's the option for stadium fly-bys. The dog at the desk? That's the trivia quiz. The dog next to the question mark? No, it's not "help"; it's the options menu. Sometimes pressing the same button will yield different results. You'll go in circles and it will drive you mad.

Once the action is underway the high overhead vantage point makes it look like you're watching a flea circus. The players are very tiny and scurry around like roaches. I've seen this approach work before, in Sensible Soccer (Jaguar, 1995), but in this case the action is too frantic and the CPU too aggressive. You never know where you're passing the ball, and once a CPU player touches you the ball is instantly stolen.

Another issue is the limited shooting and passing angles. You can only score from very specific locations on the field. When your goalie has the ball and wants to kick it out, he has three options. He can kick it straight, which usually goes directly to a defender. Or he can kick it left or right, which sends it out of bounds.

Even if you have a receiver in the vicinity, there's no player auto-switch. He'll just stand there next to the ball. And then there is the frequent indignity of scoring "own goals" while struggling with the controls.

I thought I had a bad copy of this game because it would freeze up at random. As it turns out, you'll need to reformat your Sega CD system memory to get it to work. World Cup USA 94 has the fast-paced action I usually enjoy, but with all apologies to the Scorpions, this may be the worst soccer game I've ever played. © Copyright 2023 The Video Game Critic.

1 to 4 players 

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