Publisher: Acclaim (1995)
Rating: Kids To Adults
This game was ripped to shreds
by critics in 1995. It may just be the most infamous
SNES game of all time. From the outset, Batman Forever shows potential. An impressive intro shows the shadows of Batman and Robin running toward the screen, much like the ending sequence of the Batman and Robin movie. The menu screens are framed with molded rubber, and each stage is preceded by a cool rotating grid of city streets. The opening stage (the asylum) incorporates a beautiful shot of the Gotham skyline at night, complete with shimmering water below. I even like the menacing soundtrack. Batman Forever's characters are large and digitized, but that hurts the two-player mode, since you're constantly getting in your partner's way. Fighting fans will immediately realize that Acclaim recycled their Mortal Kombat engine for this game. The basic moves are the same, including the uppercut, leg sweep, roundhouse kick, and rapid-fire punching. The fighting action seems reasonable at first, but you'll soon get tired of dispatching of the same clones over and over again. These guys can absorb a lot
of damage! It's tough to be sandwiched between two villains, but a nice backhand punch or leg kick can keep them at bay. The stop-motion animation isn't bad, but Acclaim clearly did not
use the actors from the movie. Robin has a sizeable gut, and Batman has a sack of potatoes
in his pants! But the game's problems run far deep than that. The glossy, full-color manual never bothers to explain how to climb up and drop down through holes in the floor. As a result, it took me two FAQ pages
to figure out how to get past the first
stage! The game expects you to climb onto unseen ledges and drop down into areas not visible to the eye. Batman Forever makes a mockery of common sense. Why would destroying a safe cause a door to open on the lower level? There are times when you'll find yourself walking (and fighting) on thin air!
The darker levels feature nice gothic scenery, but brighter levels (like the circus) look cheesy. Another annoying thing is having to wait for the game to load as you stare at "HOLD ON". This only lasts a few seconds, but this is a cartridge
for Pete's sake! From top to bottom, Batman Forever is a complete mess. © Copyright 2008 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Konami (1992)
If you thought Batman Returns was good on the Genesis, you'll be blown away by this remarkable SNES game. With a completely different look and feel, this plays more like Streets of Rage or Final Fight. In contrast to the dark, grainy graphics of the Genesis version, the visuals here look bright and crisp. Batman Returns more or less follows the film's storyline, with the Catwoman and Penguin serving as the main villains. The fluidly-animated characters are absolutely huge
, and the fighting action is top-notch. Not only can you execute the obligatory punches, jump-kicks, and throws, but you can actually fling
enemies into the background scenery! I can't put into words how satisfying it is to toss a thug through a department store window! You'll need to beat down belligerent clowns of all sizes, including fire-blowers, sword-swallowers, jugglers, and skull-headed motorcyclists - to name a few. Should you find yourself between two enemies, you can grab them both and bash their heads together! Superb sound effects accompany the action, so when you slam one evil clown into another, it makes an audible "thud". Your Batarangs and spear gun provide you with projectile attacks, and you also have a supply of "test tubes" that function as smart bombs, obliterating all visible enemies on the screen. Although the Batmobile driving stage isn't as flashy as the Sega CD version, it's still a nice bonus. The snow-covered Christmas scenery is a joy to behold, and some stages feature nifty lighting effects - very impressive for a 1992 game! The dramatic musical score is also outstanding and apparently lifted directly from the film. Is there anything wrong with Batman Returns? Well, Batman looks like he let himself go a bit and picked up about 50 pounds. Also, some gamers may regard the non-stop fighting as repetitive, but in my opinion that comes with the territory. This may be the best Batman game of all time, thanks to its winning combination of tight controls and gorgeous 2D graphics. © Copyright 2005 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: EV 54000
Battletoads in Battlemaniacs
Publisher: Tradewest (1993)
Undeniably good-looking, Battletoads in Battlemaniacs features crisp, colorful graphics and absolutely huge
characters. This side-scrolling brawler pits one or two toad warriors against a bizarre assortment of enemies including pigs, wasps, snakes, rats and skeletons. Some of the animals are dressed in funny little outfits, and I love how the skeleton heads bounce in place when you punch them. The bosses can be towering in height, and the "dark queen" is a real eyeful (if you know what I mean, wink wink, nudge nudge). Sadly, good graphics do not necessarily make a good game. The main problem with this Battlemaniacs is its long, repetitive levels. There are five unimaginative stages, starting with an underground cave with pools of lava, followed by a floating disk that descends further into the earth. Hey, I think I've played this game before! You'll face the same enemies over and over, and they require an excessive number of hits to defeat. Worst of all, when you die you have to restart the whole level, which can be excruciating. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Tradewest (1993)
This is an early game by Rare, the company who later produced quality Nintendo 64 titles like Donkey Kong 64 and Perfect Dark. At first glance, Battletoads/Double Dragon seems like another run-of-the-mill side-scroller, with only a few attack options and endless enemy clones. After all, only two buttons on the controller are used. But it didn't take me long to discover loads of fighting techniques that aren't obvious from the start. For example, in the first stage you fight on the surface of a moving spacecraft, and it's possible to hang off the side of the craft as well as knock off hanging enemies. In the second stage you can climb on ladders and wire mesh, and in the third stage you swing from ropes. There's even a speeder-bike level where you kick enemies off of their bikes while trying to avoid obstacles. Each stage feels fully interactive and full of surprises, preventing the action from feeling monotonous. Some of the attack animations are absolutely outrageous. When fighting the blonde women thugs, the toads will grab them by the hair and start kicking them in the butt! Hilarious! As the title indicates, you can select between three Battletoads or the two Double Dragon characters, and the two-player action is definitely where it's at! The graphics are outstanding, and the music is enough to get your adrenaline pumping. For side-scrolling beat-em-up fans, Battletoads/Double Dragon definitely proves to be a winning combination. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: JDH 329050
1 or 2 players
Publisher: Bandai (1992)
This light gun shooter has "cookie-cutter" stamped all over it. It looks like a product rushed out the door to give new SNES Super Scope owners something to buy. The gun calibration screen expects you to squint through that little viewfinder, but no way could anyone be expected to play the game like that. It's bad enough you have to hoist this huge bazooka thing onto your shoulder! Light guns games typically require you crank up the brightness on your TV, but Bazooka Blitzkrieg saves you the trouble by making the stages ultra bright to begin with. As a consequence the scenery appears extremely bland and washed out. There's really not much to see except generic urban landscapes that repeat over and over. The good news is, the Super Scope is super accurate. You can even hit the edges and corners of the screen with no problem. You engage rapid-fire by holding the trigger, and get this - there's no reloading!
Being able to unleash a never-ending stream of bullets is kind of fun. You view the action from a first-person perspective as the camera slowly pans to the right. It's easy to mow down the armed Decepticons that drop into view, and often you can kill them before they even land on the ground! The fact that they disappear in an orange puff is pretty lame however. Be sure to shoot out every window, bottle, trash can, and light post. These extraneous objects are worth more points than the robots! In stage two you travel along a bridge while shooting bots on cycles and helicopters in the sky. The uptempo electronic music is good but repetitive. The main problem with this game is its uneven difficulty. You'll breeze through an entire stage only to be instantly obliterated by the boss. I had to stick to the novice skill level just to make some progress. The "bootcamp" mode features multiplayer, but it's turns only. Bazooka Blitzkrieg isn't great, but if you already own a Super Scope this will give you an excuse to dust it off - if only for a little while. Note: Light guns do not work on modern HDTVs. © Copyright 2019 The Video Game Critic.
Recommended variation: novice
Our high score: 168,200
1 to 4 players
Publisher: Activision (1993)
The first thing that caught my attention about Biometal was its music
. The title screen plays "Get Ready For This" by 2 Unlimited
, which was a popular dance hit in the clubs of the early to mid 90s. While it's a pretty good rendition, the bouncy, high-energy tune seems oddly out of place in a "serious" game like this. Biometal is an unspectacular 2D shooter where you battle legions of huge metallic flying monsters. You're equipped with a gun and missiles, both of which can be upgraded. Personally I prefer the vulcan/homing missile combination. Biometal certainly is challenging, with enemies that appear in hordes and spray missiles all over the screen. You'll die early and often until you learn to harness the power of your "GAM" weapon, which effectively decreases from difficulty from "insane" to just plain "hard as all hell". The "GAM" looks like a bunch of blue spheres circling your ship, and when it's activated, it destroys anything it touches. You can expand its radius or even "throw" it at an enemy, inflicting serious damage. The problem is, once your GAM energy runs out you're toast, so be sure to shut it off whenever you get a breather to let it recharge. Biometal's graphics did not impress me, but at least there's no noticeable slowdown. Your metallic foes all tend to look the same (including the bosses), and the backgrounds are equally boring. The first stage just features a few layers of storm clouds, and it's just plain ugly. Still, the high challenge of Biometal kept me playing for quite a while, so it's hard to complain too much. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 72200
Publisher: Atlus (1992)
Like many classic gamers, I cherish 2D shooters and the twitch gameplay and satisfying destruction they provide. Blazeon is an early SNES shooter with an exceptional soundtrack and exceptionally boring
gameplay! This shooter needs some caffeine!
Its plodding, side-scrolling stages take you through the obligatory space stations and caverns crawling with biological experiments gone wrong. There are a lot of generic pods and cannons, and certain enemies flicker in an annoying manner. Occasionally you'll encounter oversized humanoid robots which make things a bit more interesting. By deploying a special canister, you can freeze these guys and then touch them to assume their form - and firepower! The increase in shooting power is welcome, but you become a huge target for incoming missiles. I appreciate the fact that there's a rapid-fire button, but its constant choo-chooing gets on my nerves. But what ultimately brings down the game is its leisurely pace. The screen scrolls incredibly slowly, and there are extended lulls as you wait for something
- to appear on the screen. But Blazeon does have one thing going for it, and that's its eclectic musical score. The first stage features one of those upbeat electronic tunes you'd expect in a shooter, but the second stage is more downbeat and sounds like 80's synth pop. The music in the third stage is a rock track with an otherworldly undercurrent that's pretty amazing. It figures - the one time
I could use a "sound test" menu option, there is none! If only Blazeon's gameplay was as captivating as its soundtrack. This game sounds like Pink Floyd but plays like Michael Bolton. © Copyright 2009 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 102000
Bram Stoker's Dracula
Publisher: Sony (1993)
Bram Stoker's Dracula
(Genesis, 1993) was a serviceable platformer but this SNES edition is an utter abomination
. I refuse to believe someone actually play-tested this steaming pile of donkey excrement. Unlike the Genesis version, you begin with a dagger instead of a sword, and it has a range of about a half inch. Stuck in a wooden lodge with rampaging wolves and spear-toting lesbians, you'll suffer plenty of damage before you'll even locate
the sword. It doesn't help that every creature takes at least three hits to kill. The stunning visuals of the movie have been replaced by lackluster stages rendered in muted brown tones. As you forge through cottages, forests, and castles you'll come across foes never seen in the movie like giant spiders and skeletons. For some reason every enemy explodes when you kill it - including a swarm of flies!
That's just stupid. The number of cheap hits is outrageous. For the life of me, I cannot figure out how to deal with those spear traps. On the Genesis I could sprint through them and sacrifice some life, but in this game you suffer too much damage and instantly die. Other cheap hazards include boulders and giant spiders that fall directly on your head without warning. This game is so sloppy I actually encountered a knife-wielding thug on a bridge who was facing the wrong direction
, stabbing away at thin air. Outside of Dracula and his maidens, the bosses are random and generic. The soundtrack reminds me of that old song "Take My Breath Away" (by Berlin) but the audio is marred by constant random grunting sounds. Who in the [expletive] is making those noises?! At least the Genesis version of Bram Stoker's Dracula was playable; this doesn't even feel like a finished product. © Copyright 2014 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 10,417
Publisher: Jaleco (1993)
As a rabid fan of Streets of Rage
(Genesis, 1991) and Final Fight
(SNES, 1991), I actively seek out similar side-scrolling fighters. Brawl Brothers offers five cool characters to kick ass with, including a ninja, a chick, and an M. Bison look-a-like. You get more moves than your garden-variety fighter, including counters, sliding attacks, and the ability to hit a baddie while he's down. You begin by beating up thugs in the city streets. The buildings have detailed facades, and cars can be seen parked down the side streets with a looming skyline in the distance. This scene quickly gives way to a bridge with a nice view of the bay. While fighting goons on the bridge you're attacked by an impressively large helicopter, and you'll need to jump to stay out of its line of fire. The bridge eventually collapses and you find yourself at the entrance of a sewer. This is when Brawl Brothers takes a turn for the worst. The sewer is an elaborate maze and unless you know exactly
which doorways to enter, you can be trapped in there for all of eternity. When it comes to bad ideas in video games, this would have to rank near the top. If and when you escape, you'll find yourself in a jungle stage littered with land mines. Ugh! There are weapons to pick up like bats or pipes, but you swing them at an inexplicably high angle that makes it hard to actually hit
anything. Eating a wedge of cheese you find lying on the ground will replenish your life. (Side note: This happened to me once in real life. Years ago my wife and I were walking down the street in Ocean City MD and she discovered a cold, vacuum-sealed wedge of cheese on the sidewalk. Against my objections, she insisted the cheese was perfectly good and kept it! Apparently she used the thing in a recipe sometime later. In light of my experience, I have to give Brawl Brothers extra credit for realism.
) A nice options screen lets you customize many aspects of the game, including the ability to hit your partner in two-player mode. Brawl Brothers would have made a very good Final Fight clone, but whenever the designers tried to get creative they just shot themselves in the foot. © Copyright 2010 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 55
1 or 2 players
Publisher: Capcom (1994)
Submitted by RPG correspondent Jonathan Hawk
This was Capcom's initial foray into the RPG genre. While I am glad it wasn't their last, Breath of Fire (BoF) amounts to a ho-hum execution of a pretty good idea. The generic plot has an army of "big badness" storming up trouble around the world. You play as Ryu, a strapping young lad from a race of dragon people. Your sister has been abducted, so you're off to fulfill your destiny and defeat the dark forces of the world. Per RPG rules, Ryu picks up some allies along the way, each of who posses different powers. It's important to note that all of the characters in the Breath of Fire universe are human-like animals. For instance, there's a girl with bird wings, a fish person, an ox person, etc. Each character has a unique feature that they can use when they're leading the party, and you can switch between your eight party members at will. Breath of Fire's graphics and audio were seemingly okay for the time, but the "fight song" during combat gets very repetitive. Speaking of which, the combat system features a 3/4 view from behind, and attacks are embellished with very simple animations. Encounters are both random but frequent, almost to the point of leaving one fight to get into another. Unfortunately, the script/dialog is so simple that it can be easy to miss (or forget) your next mission! The tasks in BoF tend to be closely intertwined, so to get one item, you need to do 'X', and to do that, you need to do 'Y', etc. To power up Ryu to a reasonable level, you need to find several pieces of equipment by fishing for them with a certain fishing pole that is easily missed. On his journey Ryu will enter "Dragon Temples" where he learns how to transform himself into different kinds of dragons. Another cool feature is how the thief can "fuse" with two other characters, combining their HP and attack power. You can save your game by speaking to Dragon Statues located in towns you visit, but the dungeon crawls between them are often far too long. Did I mention this game has NO WORLD MAP? That's right, you have to figure out where you are based on your surroundings. This makes it really easy to get lost over the massive ocean once you learn how to fly. All in all, Breath of Fire is a nice try, but Capcom could do better. Towards the end, I even found myself asking, "Am I almost done yet?" < © Copyright 2007 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Capcom (1995)
Submitted by RPG correspondent Jonathan Hawk
Okay, Capcom, fair play. This second entry in the Breath of Fire series is moderately enjoyable. BoF II established two staples of the series: there will always be a Dragon-guy named Ryu, and there will always be a bird-winged girl named Nina. This sequel delivers improved graphic quality, better music, and a great deal more story than the first game. Best of all, Capcom finally came to their senses and incorporated a much-needed world map! The action begins with your friend Bow being framed for a crime he didn't commit, prompting you to set out to clear his name along with a few allies. As the story develops you uncover eerie events and monsters disguised as people in an intricate plot of conspiracy and supernatural activity. A particularly interesting aspect of the game is your ability to "fuse" your characters with one or more "Shamen" (girls with elemental powers), altering their appearance and combat abilities in the process. The combat has been upgraded in the form of a standard, side-based view, and the attack animations are much better. The number of encounters is about the same, but this time you have an indicator on your menu to tell you the level of monsters in the area. Ryu is easy to power-up, and fishing for his equipment is optional this time. Bleu (a character from the first game) is available for your party, but only as a secret character. You can save your progress at Dragon Statues or churches, and churches also offer helpful hints in case you forgot what you should be doing. Like the first game, party order still matters, so the character in the front can always do something special. To change the members of your party however, you have to go back to your base of operations. Speaking of which, you can build and populate your own town in this game, and later turn it into a "mobile home" of sorts (hence the pun "TownShip"). Fans of the first game will notice plenty of in-jokes. In the end, Breath of Fire II is a pretty enjoyable story and entertaining game. Capcom must have taken their criticism to heart, because they churned out a much better game this time around. < © Copyright 2007 The Video Game Critic.
Brett Hull Hockey 95
Publisher: Accolade (1995)
If you can overlook its muddy, pixelated graphics, Brett Hull delivers a reasonably good hockey experience - especially if you play against a friend. When beginning a new game you'll hear "Good evening and welcome to Brett Hull Hockey. I'm Al Michaels." It sounds like he's about to launch into a pre-game analysis, but he just leaves you hanging. The action is viewed from a surprisingly low angle at one end of the rink. As the puck moves up and down the rink, the system's built-in scaling is put to good use, giving you a nice, wide angle of the action. Unfortunately, it's really hard to make out the goal at the far end, especially with players bunched up in front of it. The pixelated players look indistinct and their uniform colors are bland. The passing controls are good, and I discovered I could maintain possession of the puck and pass it around with relative ease. Scoring requires a lot of luck, and the choppy animation makes it hard to follow the puck around the goal. Sometimes you'll need to use the instant replay just to see how the puck got into the net! Brett Hull Hockey can't match the sharp visuals and slick animation of NHL 95 (Electronic Arts), but it does deliver more exciting moments than your average hockey title. More often than not, shots deflect off the goalie or pull him way out of position, providing some golden second-chance opportunities. Players on both teams are sent scrambling when they see that open net! The game has its share of jarring body checks, and it's satisfying to lay an opponent out on the ice. Al Michael's play-by-play sounds unintentionally comical, because he only refers to players by their number. "Takes a hit from 60. Passes to 2. Stolen by 47. Over to 10..." The crowd noise is spirited, adding life to the arena. Between periods porno music kicks in as you view a pixelated mug shot of Brett Hull strung out on Quaaludes. Brett Hull Hockey 95 never had much of a chance against EA's NHL juggernaut, but if you give it a shot, you might just like it. © Copyright 2009 The Video Game Critic.
Brunswick World Tournament Champions
Publisher: THQ (1997)
There aren't many bowling games for the SNES, so it's kind of hard to judge this one. Brunswick World Tournament has options out the ying-yang to configure a bowler, tournament, or league. There's even background information about the professional bowlers you can challenge. But that all amounts to window dressing without solid gameplay, and Brunswick didn't exactly set my world on fire. The bland setup screen lets you view the action from up high and behind your bowler, offering a fair view of the lane. From here you can adjust your position and aim the ball. Once set, you hit a button to engage the power and spin meters. At this point everything goes to hell. The animation of the ball rolling down the lane is absolutely appalling, moving in a herky-jerky manner as if it had a schizophrenic mind of its own. The close-up screen showing the ball hitting the pins incorporates realistic physics, but the pins tend to have a flat, cardboard look to them. You can see your bowler's reaction to his roll, but there's little fanfare. Bruswick World Tournament really didn't do much for me, but if you're desperate for a bowling game, this may suffice. Then again, maybe not. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.
Bugs Bunny Rabbit Rampage
Publisher: Sunsoft (1994)
The old Bugs Bunny cartoons of the 1950's are timeless, yet Rabbit Rampage turns those classic adventures into nightmares. At a glance this game would appear to have all the essential ingredients. The scenery looks gorgeous, especially the snow-covered slopes of the opening stage. The characters are large and razor sharp. I recognized a few obscure characters from the old cartoons, like the giant lumbering outlaw, the bird-like aliens of Mars, the witch on the broom, and that loveable dancing frog. The comical animations are extremely elaborate. When a cowboy takes a hit his pants fall down and his face turns red. The music is lifted from the classic shorts and there's even a crystal clear "what's up doc?" digitized voice. The stages resurrect classic scenes like the bull and matador, the story of the three pigs, and Hansel and Gretel. With so much potential, it breaks my heart how poorly this game plays. It's as if the designers doubled down
on every annoying thing you've ever dealt with in a platformer. Your weapons are pathetic. You'll toss pies at hound dogs and politically-incorrect Indians, but the pies travel about an inch and you need to land three or four just to have an effect. Most "weapons" are indirect in nature, like a dynamite stick or exploding bone. Your adversaries on the other hand are armed with heat-seeking bullets and arrows that track you all over the screen! Every level is crawling with respawning enemies and the collision detection works against you. The controls are so needlessly complex you'll need to consult the manual just to figure out how to fall down a hole
. The repetitive stage layouts make no sense and blind leaps of faith are the norm. Boss encounters recall memorable scenes (remember Yosemite Sam and the black dragon?) but they drag on like a never-ending hell. Rabbit Rampage is visually enticing but rest assured playing it is a thoroughly miserable experience. © Copyright 2016 The Video Game Critic.