Publisher: Sega (1985)
Bank Panic is a fun, original target shooter set in the wild wild west. You're a cowboy playing from a first-person perspective, and you need to be quick on the trigger. Before each round you're presented with a wanted poster alerting you to the outlaw you're looking for. The gameplay consists of scrolling sideways past twelve doors, with three displayed at a given time. Periodically they'll open to reveal an innocent civilian, an outlaw, or a dude wearing a stack of hats you can shoot for bonus points. You fire left, center, and right by pressing up, button 1, or button 2. The system works like a champ once you get used to it. It's satisfying to shoot the outlaw, watching him fall back as his wanted poster unfurls in front of him. A civilian might be a cowboy or a lady in a red dress, and they'll reward you for not shooting them. It's such a good feeling to watch doors open and people hand you cash for nothing! Occasionally however a seemingly innocent person is really the outlaw in disguise, so stay alert for anything fishy. In addition, sometimes it takes two shots to kill that bastard. Once you collect money from all twelve doors the round ends and bonuses are tabulated. One thing annoying about the game is the "Dixie" song playing throughout. It's a fine rendition but it gets repetitive. Adding replay value is the fact that can select which round to begin on. Bank Panic looks good enough to be a Sega Master System game, but apparently a more advanced version was released for that system. I can't imagine it being much better than this. © Copyright 2020 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 91,250
Publisher: Sega (1985)
My friends and I became fans of Bomb Jack after stumbling upon it in Tecmo Classic Arcade
(Xbox, 2005). This SG-1000 version is remarkably faithful, especially considering the hardware. On the surface Bomb Jack is about as simple a platformer as you can imagine. You leap between platforms collecting bombs while avoiding bats, snails, and gingerbread men that bounce around the screen. Bomb Jack has a weird jumping mechanic. By holding up you can leap to any height, and holding in the jump button on the way down lets you glide sideways, which comes in handy for snagging rows of bombs suspended in mid-air. I feel like a little Superman flying around. The gameplay is easy to grasp and fast paced. Be sure to grab any coins you see bouncing around the screen. They usually function as a power pill but if you're lucky one might award you with 100K on the spot! Color background graphics render famous landmarks such as the Sphinx, the Acropolis, and a German castle. One gripe is how the light blue platforms tend to blend into the colorful scenery. Aside from that Bomb Jack is just a really good time. © Copyright 2020 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 129,570
Champion Ice Hockey
Publisher: Sega (1985)
This is the best terrible hockey game I've ever played, if that makes any sense. From a technical perspective Champion Ice Hockey is just plain wretched
. The players flicker, the collision detection stinks, and the speed of the game fluctuates wildly. The player you control is the one nearest to the puck, and it switches automatically. Colliding with any other player (including a teammate) causes you to fall over and lose the puck. But the worst part is the abysmal side-scrolling, and believe me I'm being loose with the language when I call it scrolling. As you push against the edge of the screen the entire rink shifts in huge chunks, and it's unsightly to say the least. The oddly-shaped goals look like half the number 8, and the fact that both goalies are the same color (blue) is confusing. Yet for all of its problems there's something about Champion Ice Hockey that kept me playing. I like how you view the action from overhead, with each player holding his stick at his side. You can easily toggle the stick from side to side which allows you to maneuver through defenders while maintaining control of the puck. I also like how you control your goalie (when he's on the screen) by pressing up and down. Passing is ineffective but you can often take the puck the length of the rink on your own. Once you know the limits of the game and enter the acceptance phase, you might actually enjoy Champion Ice Hockey. © Copyright 2016 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Sega (1983)
This wasn't the Congo Bongo I was expecting. In fact, I had to pop in the Colecovision version just to remember what the game is supposed
to look like. The original plays like Donkey Kong with simulated 3D platforms, but here you view the action from the side. This makes the scenery look flat, as if you're playing a 2D platformer. I still found the colorful graphics extremely attractive with the green palm trees, running waterfalls, and shimmering blue water. The gorilla at the top of the screen is nicely rendered in several colors, but he could really stand to lose a few pounds. The bongo music does a good job of getting you into a tropical mood. So how does the game play? Well, the stiff SG-1000 controller doesn't do you any favors but the collision detection is forgiving enough, especially when it comes to avoiding bouncing coconuts. The monkeys tend to harmlessly latch onto you for a second or two. On the second screen you traverse square islands by crossing logs. You'll need to avoid black snakes which can be tricky because you don't have much room to maneuver. I later discovered you can take shortcuts by riding lily pads, which is pretty cool. After the second screen it's back to the first, which is disappointing because I was expecting at least three screens. This version of Congo Bongo is still fun though, and the fact that it's so unique adds to its appeal. © Copyright 2016 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 12,570
Publisher: Sega (1985)
I knew this was going to be bad going in, but let's face it - a game called Dragon Wang is worth owning for the name alone. This side-scrolling kung fu game is seriously primitive and patently unfair. Your fighter's name is D. Wang. He moves in a stilted manner across generic platforms that all look the same with no background graphics. You defeat approaching henchmen using three attacks: kick, jump-kick, and squat-kick. The jump-kick doesn't seem to have any effect and the collision detection is so bad you might as well flip a coin. Enemies tossing knives have an answer for everything. You jump and they throw high; you duck and they throw low. You're constantly taking mandatory hits. After walking to the right you'll eventually see a hole in the ceiling. Jump under it and you'll magically levitate to the next level as exisiting on-screen enemies disappear in a puff of smoke. The first boss is armed with nunchucks and you just trade blows until he dies. The second boss however is a real bastard
. He teleports all over and keeps kicking you in the back. I could never beat him, and dying at his hands sends you back to the very beginning of the game!
You'll also have to deal with occasional hazards like trapdoors, floating orbs, and walls to kick through. Dragon Wang is a low budget brawler that's as laughable as its name implies. Its rumored sequel, Dragon Balls, was never released. © Copyright 2016 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 30,700
1 or 2 players
Publisher: Sega (1985)
This Pole Position clone won't impress you at a glance. It offers a nice city skyline but the road is just a pair of green lines on a gray surface. Most early racers used stripes to convey a sense of speed. In GP World the only way you know you're moving is the glimmer of your tires and small objects passing on the side. The cars themselves look remarkably detailed and shiny once they scale into view. Three skill levels are available, each offering a series of tracks you need to complete by a qualification time. I really like the idea of racing the clock because it limits the races to 2-3 minutes each. Passed cars net you bonus points, but only if you reach the finish line. You'll want to remain in low gear until you reach 100 kph, and then kick it into high gear to top out at 300 kph. Unfortunately it's really easy
to accidentally slip back into low gear due to the mushy controls. The sense of speed is decent and you really feel like you're "hanging on" around corners. GP World is forgiving in the collision detection department, so if you hit another car at low speed you just bump it instead of exploding. You see cars approach from a long distance so it's not hard to anticipate their movements. They tend to either stay in their lane or drift from side-to-side. Unfortunately these predictable patterns take much of the challenge out of the game. The tracks are set in Brazil, Spain, and other exotic places but they all look the same. The time of day changes between races however, and I love that red sunset. The game even includes an editor that lets you create your own track! GP World is no classic but it's a solid racer that tries to go the extra mile. © Copyright 2016 The Video Game Critic.
Recommended variation: 3
Our high score: 99,300
Publisher: Saito (1984)
Go Golgo! Go Golgo!
Golgo 13 is a Japanese manga series starring a professional assassin who looks pretty badass on his title screen close-up. The game itself is different from anything I can recall, and that's saying something because I've seen quite a bit! You move Golgo across the bottom of the screen in a red convertible, trying to shoot the windows out of a train moving in the distance. When you knock one out a hostage climbs out, waves, and run to safety. Passing between you and the train are boxcars and trucks that can deflect your shots right back at you. It's often necessary to skillfully "thread the needle". In advanced stages a helicopter appears and begins firing heat-seeking missiles! The sense of perspective is good but that train animation is jerky. Between trying to keep an eye on Golgo, the train, and the helicopter, I thought I was going cross-eyed! The bright city skyline is gorgeous - one of the best I've seen. When Golgo's car blows up he leaps out to avoid injury, but what happened to his pants? Golgo 13 isn't the kind of game you can play for any length of time, but you have to admit the concept is pretty neat. © Copyright 2019 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 46,650
Publisher: Sega (1985)
When I hear Hang On II I think of high-speed motorcycle racing with white-knuckle thrills. This version fails to deliver any of that. Like Pole Position
(Atari 5200, 1983) you navigate a gray roadway bounded by red and white stripes. The colors are supposed to cycle to convey a sense of speed, but it's not very convincing. It feels more like you're racing in slow motion. The other motorcycles are a ugly lime green and the background scenery is sparse. Stages include a seaside, desert, and city at night but there's little to see. That city skyline looks more like a castle. Pressing up or down switches gears, but it's too easy to accidentally switch gears while steering. If you find yourself slowing suddenly, it's probably because you accidentally slipped into low gear (perfectly normal for a man your age). Steering is tricky too. Once you hear that skidding sound you need to release the accelerator. Sliding off the road causes you to immediately crash and burn. You always get a new motorcycle however, since the game doesn't end until the timer runs out. And that might be a while once you get the hang of things. This version of Hang On II is more of a finesse game, lacking a sense of excitement you want in an arcade title. © Copyright 2020 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 115,560
Publisher: Parker Bros. (1984)
This is basically the same as the disappointing side-scrolling shooter James Bond 007
(Atari 2600, 1983). I always hated that game, beginning with its nonsensical animated intro. It's supposed to depict some kind of transforming car, but it looks cheesy and James Bond looks far too big to fit into that thing. The familiar 007 theme song is the only thing this game has going for it. Each of its stages are based on various Bond films like Diamonds are Forever and The Spy Who Loved Me, but they are "cookie cutter" in ever way. You drive a vehicle toward the right while firing missiles, tossing mines, and jumping/diving past hazards. The graphics are terrible. Why am I being attacked by traffic cones? The best strategy is to fire with reckless abandon, which doesn't make your thumb feel very good. Failing to capture the spirit of the films to any degree, James Bond 007 strikes me as the worst kind of corporate dreck. © Copyright 2019 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 9500
1 or 2 players