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

Super Nintendo Reviews D

Grade: D
Publisher: Asmik (1991)
Posted: 2007/3/16

screenshotHere's a game that lives up to its name! Afflicted by rampant slow-down, excessive choppiness, and unforgiving collision detection, this is the kind of early SNES shooter that your mother warned you about. The action begins with your helicopter taking off from a scaling aircraft carrier surrounded by unsightly water rendered with pixelated diagonal blue lines. You're immediately accosted by hopelessly generic enemy aircraft, and their explosions are less than convincing. The sprites are sizeable, and your helicopter makes for a huge target.

You can accumulate some serious firepower by gathering icons, eventually spraying bullets across half the screen. The sound effects of your missiles firing however sound like someone tapping their fingers on a table! As a general rule, you'll want to hold down the fire button to engage rapid-fire, and stay away from the bottom edge of the screen where jet fighters attempt to ram you without warning.

Mixed in with the normal shooting stages are "exploration" stages that let you use the triggers to toggle between high and low altitudes as you blast dinosaurs in a prehistoric world. It sounds like a good idea on paper, but in practice it's a mess as you increase altitude only to collide with giant birds you didn't know were there. Even more disturbing is how you're expected to blow the heads off of triceratops on the ground.

D-Force seems fun at first, with a high level of difficulty that keeps you coming back for more. Once you reach the more hectic stages however, the framerate goes to hell and you'll often find yourself exploding for no apparent reason. Upon losing your last life, there's a sorry sequence showing your copter spiraling down into some insanely pixelated "foliage" below. D-Force has a catchy theme song, but it gets repetitive in short order. The raw challenge of D-Force commanded my attention for a while, but technical glitches prove its undoing. © Copyright 2007 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 41900
1 player 

Daffy Duck: The Marvin Missions
Grade: C-
Publisher: Sunsoft (1993)
Posted: 2017/5/16
Rating: Everyone

screenshotI recently purchased a set of Looney Tunes blu ray discs which reinvigorated my interest in the Saturday morning classics I grew up with. The Marvin Missions puts you in the role of Daffy Duck's alter ego "Duck Dodgers" against his arch-nemesis Marvin the Martian. This really brings back memories. Remember the "just add water" Martians? Sadly this whimsical side-scroller embodies both the best and worst of the 16-bit era.

Daffy can shoot, block, jump, and fly short distances using a jetpack. There's also a "go cuckoo" button that destroys all enemies on the screen. Prior to each stage you can purchase a variety of weapons and power-ups, adding a little strategy. The stages burst with technicolor but are cookie-cutter in design. As you can guess, the obligatory desert, water, and ice environments are all represented. Only the final level featuring cameos by several Warner Bros characters feels vaguely inspired.

Each maze-like stage scrolls in all directions, making it hard to tell where you're supposed to go. That said, I like how there are multiple routes and hidden bonus areas. You can access a map via the start button, but it's about the size of a postage stamp! How am I supposed to read that thing? The controls feel slippery which is problematic considering some platforms are very narrow and each area is loaded with cheap hazards like dripping lava and flying cinders.

Your weapons have a mean kickback, and even the weakest of foes can absorb five or six shots. Who are these pesky lava men and cactus monsters anyway? The first boss is a plane with mechanical arms that takes forever to defeat. I still remember my friend Eric calling me up in the early 90's just to complain about that!

This game feels generic but I'll still take it over Taz Mania (Genesis, 1992) any day. The audio packs funny digitized quips ("mother!") and a madcap musical score. The lack of a password feature is glaring, but Daffy Duck: The Marvin Missions gets enough mileage out of its awesome Looney Tunes license. © Copyright 2017 The Video Game Critic.

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Our high score: 49,100
1 player 

Darius Twin
Grade: C+
Publisher: Taito (1991)
Posted: 2016/9/1

screenshotThis side-scrolling shooter gets off to a rip-roaring start, blasting rotating fish over rocky beaches under bright blue skies. The graphics are super crisp and the synthesized music is terrific. You can fire and drop bombs continuously, and you might as well hold down both buttons for the entire game. It's a shame your firepower is so weak! You'll struggle to destroy even the lamest foes.

The first medium-sized enemy you encounter is a red fish, and it might as well be a boss because it takes forever to destroy. Be wary of red tanks that deploy heat-seeking missiles! But the worst are the rotating "space jacks" of stage two which take about 100 shots to destroy! After getting my ass handed to me a few times I read an article on the internet complaining how easy this game is! Not helpful!

Once I dialed down the difficulty I began to enjoy the game. Not only could I plow through the opening stage but I also got a chance to accumulate some power-ups! You don't lose your weapons when you die, and that makes up for the lack of smart bombs. The ability to select branching stages is a key feature, but I found most to be repetitive and bland. There are no continues but the game does have a decent two-player co-op mode. Darius Twin could have used some fine-tuning but I found it to be fairly addictive nonetheless. © Copyright 2016 The Video Game Critic.

Recommended variation: easy
Our high score: CJS 700,500
1 or 2 players 

David Crane's Amazing Tennis
Grade: F
Publisher: Absolute (1992)
Posted: 2009/7/15
Rating: Everyone

screenshotThe box of Amazing Tennis features the quote "...amazingly good..." from Nintendo Power (March 1992). Really Nintendo Power? Did you even play this game? I should say try to play it! If David Crane designed this, then Pitfall Harry must be rolling in his grave. The game employs a low-to-the-court camera angle in an ill-fated attempt to make the player feel "in the game". This may allow for large, detailed players, but it makes the game impossible to play!

Serving the ball requires some very weird timing. When playing against my friend Steve, we struggled with our serves for the duration of the match! In general it's hard to judge where the large ball is with respect to your player, and if you're on the far side of the court, good luck! The net completely blocks your view! The controls let you execute hard, soft, lob, and drop shots. But since returning the ball is challenging enough, there's little strategy aside from hoping your opponent hits the ball out of bounds.

The outdated player outfits are hilarious, with guys wearing spandex under their short-shorts and donning shirts with pastel colors. The manner in which they scamper to and from the net makes them look like complete sissies. David Crane's Amazing Tennis is terrible, and one could argue that the $5 Footlocker coupon included with it is more valuable than the game itself. And yes, I'm taking into account that it expired in 1993! © Copyright 2009 The Video Game Critic.

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1 or 2 players 

Daze Before Christmas (Europe)
Grade: B-

screenshotHearing of my quest to review every Christmas game, a helpful reader recommended this terrific Santa Claus platformer. Since it was only released in Europe I am reviewing a reproduction. Daze Before Christmas sets the tone nicely with stages presented via one of those "countdown to Christmas" calendars. The controls feel ultra responsive as Santa bounds over snowy hills, ventures through ice caves, and scampers through houses. Some stages offer mystical scenery or factories with machines that wrap Santa into a present.

Enemies like penguins, rats, spiders, and jack-in-the-boxes transform into collectable presents when you hit them with your wintery snow attack. At first I thought the idea was to collect all the presents, but apparently they are just bonus items and your main goal is just reaching the end of the stage. The festive scenery hits all the right holiday notes with rolling snow drifts, frosted windows, gently falling flakes, and giant climbable candy canes. Actually the snowflakes look more like feathers from a pillow.

The festive music offers renditions of several traditional Christmas carols but there are also some generic tunes thrown in. The difficulty is easy and the first snowman "boss" is probably the weakest you'll ever face. Most stages are enjoyable but there are a few tedious scenarios like "wood factory" and "flooded basement".

In one stage you fly over England dropping gifts into smoking chimneys and the London skyline looks amazing. Collecting special icons power you with life and invincibility, but it's the hot cocoa icon that really caught my attention by turning Santa into a... demon?! Is he supposed to be Krampus?!

Daze Before Christmas has a fun pick-up-and-play style, but some parts are confusing. Santa tends to blink while touching innocent objects like reindeer or elves. Is he taking damage?? My niece Brooke, who otherwise loved the game, voiced similar concerns ("Did I just kill that reindeer?!") Daze Before Christmas has some issues, but as a holiday treat this is hard to resist. © Copyright 2016 The Video Game Critic.

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Our high score: 53,150
Save mechanism: password
1 or 2 players 

The Death and Return of Superman
Grade: D
Publisher: Sun Corp. (1994)
Posted: 2022/1/8

screenshotThe Death and Return of Superman is bad on so many levels. It's based on a comic book that was largely a publicity stunt. The title screen features the classic Superman logo dripping with blood. The concept is that upon Superman's death, four new Superman-like characters emerged. This game lets you play as all of his incarnations yet still manages to be super dull.

You will find nothing here that hasn't been done to better effect in other brawlers. The stages are so painfully generic and repetitive it begs the question "can your eyes get carpal tunnel?" You fight the same three mutants over and over with names like Rambeau, Eyegore, and Tick. At least they come in a fashionable assortment of colors.

The controls are responsive but your attacks are weak. Your laser eyes take too long to charge and do a modicum of damage. You'd have to shoot a guy about 30 times to kill him with that. Your special attack appears to decimate everything on the screen yet only inflicts moderate damage. The best part is grabbing enemies and smashing them against the back wall, a la Batman Returns (Konami, 1992). The fact that this move incurs damage to the scenery is the clear highlight of the game and frankly it's not even close.

Stage two pits you against stereotypical gang members wielding various weapons. With names like Molotov and Chainsaw, these poor kids were destined for a life of crime. What a sad reflection on society. I do appreciate how if I side-step a molotov cocktail it will sometimes strike a nearby enemy instead.

It's a shame no effort was put into the cookie-cutter stages. There are ten, but the lack of imagination is astonishing. You'll ride the obligatory elevator and walk through city streets with empty storefronts. It's as though they saved the stages for last and didn't have time to finish them. Even the flying stages fall flat, as you simply blast the same floating mines over and over.

Few gamers will possess the intestinal fortitude to reach the advanced stages where you play as alternate Supermans. It's just as well because they all play pretty much the same. The Man of Steel's intimidating hammer might as well be a fly swatter. The music is quite good but the game has no score or password feature. The Death and Return of Superman is highly playable but the designers forgot to give people a good reason to play. © Copyright 2022 The Video Game Critic.

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1 player 

Demolition Man
Grade: B-
Publisher: Acclaim (1995)
Posted: 2024/2/24
Rating: Teen

second stage I've been watching a lot of 90's-era Stallone action films of late, including Demolition Man (1993). I miss this genre. I miss the wisecracking muscle-bound heroes, maniacal villains, hand-to-hand combat, and explosive shootouts. Plus there was always an attractive lady (a smoking-hot Sandra Bullock in this case).

Demolition Man's opening stage plays like a dream, or is it a nightmare? You would not believe how bad LA was in 1996! Buildings are ablaze, c4 barrels are exploding all over the place, and gun-toting goons crawling out of the woodwork. Our hero John Spartan bungee-jumps off helicopters, leaps 20-foot gaps, and outruns explosions. He shoots now and asks questions never. Simon Phoenix, played by Wesley Snipes, is the colorful, charismatic villain.

The side-scrolling stages look sharper than the Genesis, yet the visual clarity causes them to look a bit grainy. The run-and-gun action is exhilarating and you leap between buildings, mow down goons-for-hire, and ride zip-lines. I love how you can shoot in all directions while hanging off a ladder.

The second stage is a less-appealing overhead stage with characters that look small and cartoonish. It takes place in the "Hall of Violence", where you face an endless onslaught of bad guys. Considering the locale, the lack of violence is very concerning. When you shoot guards they simply disappear! The frame-rate is erratic and even the music sounds a bit goofy.

The best way to get through this stage is to be aggressive. You'll take damage but med packs hidden in glass displays help you reconstitute health. You're going to need an extra life or two in reserve when you have to face Simon Phoenix. That shootout is a game of cat and mouse. Unlike the Genesis game, bad guys occasionally enter the fray and Simon's explosive shots can damage you through the walls.

Spotty frame-rate issues cause your run-and-gun shots to be erratic at times. Fortunately there's an extra button that lets you stand in place and unload in any direction. The jumping is also more tricky compared to the Genesis edition. In the factory stage the slowdown is just heinous.

Still, this game does some things well. I really like the spotlights in the opening stage. I also noticed that the voices - particularly Simon Phoenix's taunts, sound a lot clearer. The ability to shoot out neon signs is remarkably satisfying. It's the little things in life! This version of Demolition Man packs enough testosterone-laced mayhem, but the SNES was clearly not trained to handle this kind of violence. © Copyright 2024 The Video Game Critic.

Recommended variation: calm
Our high score: 81,400
Save mechanism: password
1 player 

Demon's Crest
Grade: C
Publisher: Capcom (1994)
Posted: 2007/10/12

screenshotThis game should be right up my alley, considering my affinity for occult themes, and the fact that this is a spin-off of the excellent Ghouls and Ghosts series. I've also been advised that this game was preceded by two Gargoyle's Quest games for the GameBoy and NES. Demon's Crest was widely praised by the media, but I don't think it's all that. You control a red demon that can shoot fireballs and hover over the landscape. Later he acquires "crests" which endow him with additional powers, including the ability to slow time, fly high in the air, or swim.

The action begins with a boss encounter against a huge zombie dragon which makes a rather dramatic (and frightening) appearance. It certainly grabs your attention, but it's probably not the best way to start a game like this. Upon completing the initial graveyard stage, you glide freely over a pixelated countryside to select your next challenge. Demon's Crest excels in presentation, but its gameplay could be better.

Navigating through the graveyards and castles of the early stages is no problem, but too many advanced stages are covered with thorns that are hard to avoid. The controls are touchy, so trying to navigate spiked labyrinths is frustrating. Your demon's size makes it difficult to avoid incoming projectiles, and he can only shoot forward, often unable to hit objects in clear view. Switching crests (powers) can only be done from a menu screen. Why isn't there a button assigned to that? There's no pause button either, which is annoying for reviewers trying to take notes (curses!). In general, I found Demon's Crest too difficult.

Its production values are outstanding however, with well-defined graphics and stereo effects so realistic they caught me off-guard. Upon hearing the howl of a ghost, I actually looked around to make sure there wasn't someone else in the room with me! The creepy organ music is also very effective. Flickering torches give castle ruins an eerie glow, and graveyards are overgrown with twisted trees and shrouded in mist. A twelve-character password allows you to save your progress. Demon's Crest is certainly a feast for the eyes and ears, but is it enough to overcome the difficulty and frustration? © Copyright 2007 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 

Dig & Spike Volleyball
Grade: D
Publisher: Hudson Soft (1993)
Posted: 2022/9/5

screenshotI've enjoyed volleyball games for old systems like Kings of the Beach (NES, 1988) and newer systems like Beach Spikers (GameCube, 2002), but there was a dry spell during the 16-bit era. Dig & Spike plays similar to Kings of the Beach but feels too slow and methodical.

Those hoping for fun-in-the-sun will be disappointed with the view, which is basically just a screen worth of sand. On rare occasions the screen scrolls up slightly to tease you with a beach umbrella or fleeting glimpse of the surf. The dull indoor venue might as well be a high school gymnasium.

The six-on-six indoor action is a chaotic mess but the beach volleyball mode is okay. At the very least you get to play as some cute chicks. The gameplay does a good job of helping the novice player along. When serving, the ball glows red when it's time to hit it. I find it odd how once the ball is served, it slows down while traveling to the other side of the net.

You'd expect the two-on-two to be manageable enough but it can be hard to tell who you're controlling. The collision detection is so-so, and too often the ball is completely off the screen. I do like how when it hits the sand it leaves a distinctive mark. It's amazing how many shots land right on the line.

While playing against friends I found the action predictable and repetitive. Leveraging the extra buttons on the SNES controller only serves to confuse matters. With four types of serves and attacks, this is anything but pick-up-and-play. The single-player tournament mode is okay, if only because the CPU is such a challenge.

Perhaps the biggest downfall of Dig & Spike Volleyball is its lack of four player support. That's ironic considering Hudson Soft was the company that released the four-player adapter for the SNES! Maybe this game inspired them to create it? I can't think of anything else vaguely inspiring about this bland title. © Copyright 2022 The Video Game Critic.

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1 or 2 players 

Dirt Trax FX
Grade: F
Publisher: Acclaim (1995)
Posted: 2014/7/29
Rating: Kids to Adults

screenshotThis is one of a handful of SNES cartridges powered by the Super FX chip originally made famous by Star Fox (SNES, 1993). The prowess of the chip is evident on the title screen and menus which boast 3D letters that magically spin and rearrange themselves. The character selection screen features polygon-rendered faces, but the manner in which their mouths open and close make them look like a bunch of guppies!

Dirt Trax FX challenges you to outrace dirt bike competitors over a series of truly pathetic tracks. The hills are extremely angular and the riders are rendered using chunky, pixelated sprites. When I decided to undertake the circuit challenge, little did I know I would have to endure 15 painful laps - and that's just the first race! At least that track was easy to navigate. Subsequent courses are narrow and maze like with all sorts of 180-degree turns (ugh!) It's hard to see where you're supposed to go and I was constantly driving over the retaining walls. When that happens, a huge arrow appears indicating where you need to re-enter the course.

The controls are so poorly designed that there's actually a button that lets you travel at 2/3 speed! Seriously?! The thumping music is decent, and I like the uptempo groove that kicks in when you take first place. Enjoy it while you can because a total bastard named T-Rex is constantly on your heels thanks to the rubberband AI. Dirt Trax FX is not the least bit enjoyable, and the split screen action gave me a splitting headache. This is no Star Fox, but it may be the anti-Star Fox. © Copyright 2014 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 

Donkey Kong Country
Grade: B+

screenshotIn 1994 Donkey Kong Country (DKC) astounded players with its state-of-the-art pseudo-3D graphics. The creatures look like puppets for crying out loud! Even by today's standards the textures, lighting, and water effects are impressive. The huge characters move with fluid motion and some of the animations are laugh-out-loud funny! The controls are crisp as you pounce on crocs, wasps, and beavers. The varied locations take you from lush jungles to snow-covered mountains to underwater caverns.

DKC's memorable soundtrack offers a collection of jaunty, playful tunes that will have you bopping along as you play. The digitized sound effects are noticeably good, beginning with the muffled yells of Diddy when you first discover him in a barrel. It's tempting to write off DKC as a case of style over substance, but this well-constructed 2D platformer is jam-packed with neat innovations.

The partner system lets you strategically toggle between Donkey Kong and the smaller, more agile Diddy Kong, and two people can play as a team. You can sometimes ride on animals like rhinos and swordfish, allowing you to plow through long stretches with minimal effort. Special barrels serve as floating cannons, allowing you to shoot your way across a stage with a series of well-timed blasts. And who can forget those rip-roaring mine-cart-on-the-loose stages? Even collecting bananas is a heck of a lot of fun.

DKC's main flaw is its difficulty. One consequence of the oversized characters is a tiny margin for error. The mine cart stages give you a split-second to react, making it hard to avoid hazards even when you know they're coming! The "Stop and Go Station" stage is particularly brutal, tipping the scales from challenging to frustrating.

Donkey Kong Country does deserve extra credit for having one of the best manuals ever. Not only is it colorful and informative, but old Cranky Kong chimes in with hilarious remarks like "Well well I've never seen so much rubbish! A good game shouldn't need any explanation!" Donkey Kong Country looks like a million bucks and backs it up with memorable classic gameplay. © Copyright 2010 The Video Game Critic.

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Save mechanism: Battery
1 or 2 players 

Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest
Grade: B+

screenshotIf you enjoy pirate-themed games (and who doesn't?) Donkey Kong Country 2 is the game for you. This quality sequel introduces Dixie Kong, a female whose long blonde hair looks like an oversized banana. The first stage is set on a sprawling pirate ship and amazing stereo effects include the sound of creaking planks and lapping waves. As you hop between barrels and masts you'll pounce on rats, bugs, and pegged-legged crocodiles.

The stages are expertly designed with cleverly-hidden items and secret areas. In the volcanic cave area you hop across crocodile heads reminiscent of Pitfall (Atari 2600, 1982). The pseudo-3D rendered characters are animated with charm and personality. When Diddy Kong completes a stage he performs a rapper impression that made me laugh out loud. Aiding you on your quest are creatures you can ride including a bouncing snake, a web-shooting spider, and a parrot that flaps like the birds in Joust.

The visuals may be warm and friendly, but Donkey Kong Country 2 is surprisingly tough. It's generally easy to determine where you're supposed to go, but the unforgiving collision detection makes it hard to get there. It's downright infuriating at times, especially in the vertical levels where you can fall a great distance and negate a lot of pain-staking progress. Each set of stages has a "college" area where you can save your progress, but you'll need coins to save!

There's also a "game show" that quizzes you on stages you've completed - so pay attention! Later stages include an amusement park, haunted woods, and castle. Once you enter a new zone you are unable to return to the earlier stages. The surreal, moody soundtrack is often astonishingly good.

The two-player modes are disappointing, since you can only take turns. The manual is a real hoot, especially with Cranky Kong's cynical rants about this "unnecessary sequel." Diddy's Kong Quest may aggravate the heck out of you, but its sky-high production values elevate this platformer to premiere status. © Copyright 2013 The Video Game Critic.

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Save mechanism: Battery
1 or 2 players 

Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble
Grade: B
Publisher: Nintendo (1996)
Posted: 2014/10/7

screenshotThis third installment of the Donkey Kong Country series gives the impression the franchise was running out of steam. My first clue was the title screen, which actually looks a little grainy! The playable characters are Dixie Kong and Kiddy Kong - not the most prominent members of the Kong family. Dixie has golden locks and Kiddy is an oversized baby monkey who throws a tantrum when he gets hit.

The stages are less inventive than the first two games, featuring a lake, a factory, beach, sewer, snowy mountain, and forest with giant trees. I like how in the snow stages the precipitation will vary in intensity. The bonus stages tend to be reused subsections of the normal stages, which is kind of lame. The platform action is exactly like the previous games, and that's a good thing. Dixie has the ability to make long jumps and slow her landing with a helicopter spin. Kiddy can ram enemies with barrels and skim across the water surface (not to be confused with Jesus Kong).

The enemies are the usual suspects of crocs, bees, and rats. There are also these green barrels with arms that are kind of creepy. One of the animals you can ride/control is a baby elephant named Ellie, but she freaks out if she sees a rat with a light shining on it. That's confusing to the player because the rat is always clearly in plain sight. The factory stages are a little repetitive, especially with the same owls shooting fireballs at you wherever you go. The swimming controls are too sensitive, especially since touching any fish spells instant death.

The humongous bosses look great but can be a pain when they crowd the screen. That said, Donkey Kong Country 3 is still a heck of a lot of fun. The challenge is there but you'll never "hit a wall" like the first two games. The ability to save between stages is a real lifesaver. Donkey Kong Country 3 isn't as inspired as the first two games, but its gameplay is probably the most accessible of the three. © Copyright 2014 The Video Game Critic.

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Save mechanism: Battery
1 or 2 players 

Grade: D-
Publisher: Williams Entertainment (1995)
Posted: 2012/2/2
Rating: Mature (animated blood and gore)

screenshotTrying to play Doom on the SNES is a lot like trying to play Warcraft II on the Saturn. You can do it; it's just not recommended. The screen is cropped, although since the border is black it doesn't stand out as much. The textures look washed out and the monsters exhibit a degree of pixelation on par with the Atari 2600.

The animation is choppy and your movements (especially strafing) tend to lag. It's hard to make out enemies in the distance, so you'll often wonder what's shooting you. Doom probably has no business being on the SNES, but it's still playable. The bleak audio soundtrack is effective and the stereo sound effects are crisp (although slightly delayed).

Between stages there's a nifty "you are here" map screen that you won't find in any other console versions. Did I mention the game comes on a nice shiny red cartridge? A candy-like red cartridge. This is Doom stripped down to its bare essentials, and my friends were fascinated by it. It probably makes a better tech demo than a game, but this is a neat cartridge to have in your collection. © Copyright 2012 The Video Game Critic.

The Adventures of Dr. Franken
Grade: D
Publisher: DTMC (1992)
Posted: 2019/10/22

screenshotThe Adventures of Dr. Franken is a mediocre platformer starring a hip, zany version of the Frankenstein monster. You know he's cool because he's dressed in beachwear including sandals and shades. The unlikely premise is that Frankenstein is taking his girlfriend on a vacation to New York City and decides to save money by mailing over her "parts" ahead of time. It's actually not a bad idea!

When the packages get misdirected however Frank must travel all over the globe to retrieve them. I hate it when that happens! The first stage takes place in an expansive castle with dancing books, critters in the toilet, and monsters prowling the hallways. Navigating the stairs is so confusing! I just keep finagling with the controller until it does what I want. A bizarre assortment of foes include tornado monsters, zombie cooks, grim reapers, and flying green heads with propellers.

You have plenty of moves at your disposal including a fireball attack that freezes enemies in place. I hate how the "kick left" and "kick right" buttons behave differently depending on the direction you're facing. Forgiving collision detection makes it easy to dispatch ghouls, but once they overlap you your health will drain to nothing. Stages branch after the first but they tend to be more irritating than spooky.

In England airplanes bomb you from out of nowhere, and in Italy brick walls obscure your view of catacombs. It's really hard to tell what the heck you can or can't jump on. The music isn't bad and I enjoyed the zany sound effects. What I hate is how it says you have "one life" on the bottom of the screen yet when you die it's game over. A continue option would have been nice, but no - you always have to restart at the castle. The Adventures of Dr. Franken has a few good ideas but I'm afraid they're overshadowed by a metric ton of bad ones. © Copyright 2019 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 100,100
1 player 

Dragon's Lair
Grade: D
Publisher: Data East (1992)
Posted: 2010/5/19

screenshotThis game is weird. It feels like a cookie-cutter platformer with a Dragon's Lair license slapped over it. For the young people out there, Dragon's Lair was a laser-disc arcade hit from 1983 that certainly packed enough dungeons, creatures, and memorable animations to fill out a 16-bit platformer. The graphics here are not bad, but the game lacks a sense of mystique. Our brave knight Dirk is large and retains many of his distinctive mannerisms, like the way he swings his sword or crumbles into bones when hit.

The stages focus on platform jumping, item collecting, and creature killing. Fans of the original game will recognize a lot of familiar monsters like the striped snakes, the bouncy reptile king, and a black knight who discharges electricity. Upon killing a creature, flashing point values appear, giving the game a nice arcade flavor. As usual, the designers felt obligated to incorporate a lot of small pesky bats and spiders.

Dirk only swings his sword downward, which can be annoying when you're dealing with a bat fluttering in your face. In addition to wielding your sword, you can toss projectiles like axes or knives. Some stages have multiple exits, allowing the levels to branch. You'll find a few simple puzzles which usually involve the positioning of barrels. If the devil is in the details, Dragon's Lair fails miserably. Too often Dirk can't grab a rope that's clearly within his reach. His feet don't jibe with the stair steps - a sign of sloppy programming.

The platforms tend to be slippery and there are blind leaps of faith. The exit doorways are about half the size as Dirk, suggesting the game was originally designed for a shorter character. The unimaginative stages seem to be sprinkled with a random assortment of creatures. In the water stage you float in a bubble while pushing barrels around. Worst. Stage. Ever. And what's up with the low-key, melancholy music? Did someone die? Yes, that would be the spirit of the original game. © Copyright 2010 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 38,600
Save mechanism: Password
1 player 

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Screen shots courtesy of Video Game Museum, Console Classix, Moby Games, Games Database, YouTube