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Super Nintendo Reviews G-H

Ghoul Patrol
Grade: D

screenshotZombies Ate My Neighbors (Konami, 1993) is a timeless classic that embodies the Halloween spirit like few games can. There's a good chance however that you've never heard of its sequel, Ghoul Patrol. That's because it's not very good! It reprises the same free-roaming, top-down gameplay but lacks the playability and charm.

You play as a kid scouring each stage for innocents while collecting items and blasting wandering monsters. The characters are a bit larger this time, allowing for more detail. There are some semi-scary creatures like long-armed ghouls and half-body apparitions. Then you have random, goofy adversaries like giant snails, cherub-devils, and possessed automobiles.

The tone of the game is different. It's less classic Universal horror films and more Ghostbusters. Office areas come to life with possessed copy machines and books flying off the shelves. Stage themes include a bustling city, medieval times, pirates, and a haunted hotel. The stage designs are awful. Maze-like and repetitive, you always have to take the most round-about path to travel a short distance. And with so many locked doors, you'll need to collect keys like candy on Halloween.

You move slowly and tend to get caught up on every edge in sight. Even after you drink a potion and become a grim reaper you'll struggle to navigate doorways. This is one of those games where you find yourself pushing the directional pad harder, as though that will help. The new jump and slide moves work well, but who designed this new button layout? I have to press the select button to use an item?

Your default crossbow weapon sucks because you can only fire one shot at a time. The homing plasma gun would be great if it weren't so weak. The laser gun is decent, but is basically just comparable to the water gun in the first game. It takes forever to kill anything, and when you finally do it immediately respawns!

The radar display has been replaced with unsightly "help!" and "I'm here!" bubbles that float around the screen. Upon completing a stage you have to hunt the exit down which can be a hassle. Even the music is forgettable. Disappointing and occasionally off-putting, Ghoul Patrol is one sequel we can live without. © Copyright 2022 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 190,028
Save mechanism: password
1 or 2 players 

Gradius III
Grade: B-
Publisher: Konami (1991)
Posted: 2002/4/3

screenshotIn the arcade, Gradius III was one of the most insanely difficult games you could ever encounter. The SNES version of this side-scrolling space shooter is much easier, which is probably a good thing. The key to the game is collecting pods to cash in for weapons and power-ups. There's quite a bit of strategy involved in selecting the proper power-up for the situation. The graphics here are nearly identical to the arcade, although slow-down rears its ugly head all too often and threatens to ruin the fun. When there are too many objects on the screen, the action slows to a crawl, only to speed up again when things clear out. Not only is this annoying, but it adversely affects the flow of the game. That's too bad, because otherwise this is a solid all-around shooter. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 51100
1 or 2 players 

Hit the Ice
Grade: D-
Publisher: Taito (1993)
Posted: 2017/3/12

screenshotIt frustrates me to no end how there are so many home versions of Hit the Ice and none of them are any good. This wacky, arcade-style hockey game deserved better. The Turbografx edition offered fluid graphics but lacked options and speed. The Genesis game had the speed and options, but poor graphics and audio. This SNES version boasts the best audio-visual quality by a mile.

The players have reflections and the arena looks so razor sharp you can make out the fans' facial expressions. But as my friend Brent lamented "the players look terrific... until they start moving." The animation is erratic and I can't recall ever seeing so much graphic break-up in a 16-bit title. The puck is hard to follow as it blinks from one spot to the next. Once the oversized players crowd up you'll have no idea what the [expletive] is going on. On a positive note the audio is crystal clear and you can actually understand the voices. I love the sound of the puck clanking off the "pipe" (which happens all the time by the way).

It's hard to score in this game! The action zooms in close during the one-on-one fights, which are a little more sophisticated than other versions. There are two types of punches but the uppercut never seems to land. This version does have a coop mode which I don't recall seeing in the others. If I could take the best parts of all three games we might have something. As it is, Hit the Ice fans really can't win. © Copyright 2017 The Video Game Critic.

1 or 2 players 

Home Alone
Grade: B+

screenshotThis SNES version of Home Alone is much different than its Genesis counterpart, but no less enjoyable. Playing the role of little Kevin McCallister, the idea is to scamper around a spacious mansion while collecting valuables and eluding thieves. The treasure hunting aspect of the game is a heck of a lot of fun. You just push up while standing in front of a piece of furniture (like a chest or desk) and if there's an item inside it will pop out. Certain items replenish your health (like pizza) while others serve as weapons (slingshot). Valuables include cash, jewels, and candlesticks. In subsequent stages you'll collect different items like toys, electronics, and pets.

You can only carry six in your backpack, so you'll periodically want to empty it into chutes that deposit the items in the basement. A handy count-down at the top of the screen keeps you posted on the number of items remaining. After collecting enough you trek down to the basement to face a push-over boss. Unlike the NES edition of Home Alone, the crooks are slow so most of the time you can just hop over them. Defeating crooks is done by luring them into traps (tacks and bowling balls) that are in plain view.

Exploring the house is fun as you scale shelves and jump on beds. Each room has a theme and the attention to detail (wallpaper, pictures, etc) is commendable. The cut-scenes incorporate digitized stills from the movie. The controls are crisp, but I really wish they had assigned "jump" to the lower button as most games do. It's easy to get confused. The audio effects are pretty sensational! Digitized sounds are sprinkled throughout and Christmas music gives the game a very festive atmosphere. Much like the movie, Home Alone for the SNES is a light-hearted romp that will bring out the kid in you. © Copyright 2014 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 97,500
1 player 

Home Alone 2: Lost in New York
Grade: D
Publisher: THQ (1992)
Posted: 2014/1/3

screenshotIt won't win any awards, but this SNES version of Home Alone 2: Lost in New York is certainly a step up from the abysmal NES game. The graphics are remarkably rich with luxurious furnishings and decorations (plants, sofas) that look photo-realistic. The cut-scenes incorporate digitized images from the film. The controls are responsive as you guide Kevin McCallister through the Grand Plaza Hotel, Central Park, and other New York City destinations.

Kevin uses toy guys to subdue enemies, and can also elude them with a nifty knee slide. There are plenty of people to avoid including the concierge, maids, and a woman with an umbrella who looks really creepy (She's a witch! Burn her!). Then the game goes off the deep end by incorporating nonsensical hazards like hopping suitcases and runaway vacuum cleaners.

Home Alone 2 suffers from gameplay mediocrity and "what do I do now" syndrome. The collision detection is fishy, and sometimes you'll walk into a room and be grabbed before you can even react. In the hotel stage, you're forced to run to the end of dead-end hallways for no particular reason. And why in the heck is it necessary to hit the elevator button five times? The weapons are easy to come by, but you quickly run out of ammo. Home Alone 2 successfully recreates the look of the film, but frustrating design flaws spoil the fun. © Copyright 2014 The Video Game Critic.

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Our high score: 12,900
1 player 

Grade: D
Publisher: Sony (1992)
Posted: 2005/12/26

screenshotBased on the critically-disparaged film starring Robin Williams and Dustin Hoffman, Hook offers beautiful graphics but exasperating gameplay. You play the role of Peter Pan in this side-scrolling, hack-n-slash platform game. You'll sword-fight your way through scenic mountains, forests, and pirate ships. You can even fly for short distances.

Hook's production values are beyond reproach. Its bright graphics are bursting with color, and the detail in the scenery is amazing. As Peter leaps into the air his sleeves actually flutter in the wind. The outstanding visuals are paired with a rollicking musical score that really whets your appetite for adventure. My enthusiasm was dampened however when I realized how frustrating and unforgiving Hook is to play.

The controls are responsive enough, but you move slowly, so although the stages are modest in size, traversing them is time-consuming. Worse yet, losing a life forces you to restart the stage all the way from the beginning, and you'll be losing your share of lives thanks to the unavoidable projectiles that appear without warning as you navigate tight spaces. Also annoying is how you can "overlap" an enemy - an unfortunate predicament that usually spells instant death.

In some sections of the game you'll execute a jump that appears perfectly safe, only to watch Peter plummet to his death. Hook offers unlimited continues, and I think I went through about half of them trying to review this [expletive] game. The lack of a password feature was the final straw. I really wanted to like Hook, but a strong presentation amounts to very little without solid gameplay to back it up. © Copyright 2005 The Video Game Critic.

Grade: D-
Publisher: Hal (1991)
Posted: 2021/7/10

screenshotOstensibly a "shooter", HyperZone is a glorified SNES "mode 7" tech demo. Your ship is flying into the horizon over a "track" that moves smoothly above and below. This visual effect was used to good effect in F-Zero (Nintendo, 1991) and Super Mario Kart (Nintendo, 1992), but here it's pretty unremarkable thanks to repetitive, featureless "planes".

Appearing in your path are random objects in the shape of chicklets, meatballs, and dancing acorns. You can fire rapidly at them but have to mash the button. Ugh! An auto-fire option would have gone a long way here. A second button lets you slow down but I never saw the need for it.

The stages are pretty gaudy as you travel over a flashy circuit board or through a fiery furnace, and the idea of being on a "track" doesn't really add much. Actually you can veer off the track, although your ship will incur damage. Certain adversaries launch big, slow cotton balls your way, but since they are headed directly at you, you just need to move laterally to avoid them.

Periodically you'll face a static "boss", one of which resembles the right half of an SNES controller. Another resembles that slinky dragon from Space Harrier (Turbografx-16, 1989), repeatedly approaching and turning tail. The difference is, Space Harrier is a game you actually want to play more than once. Defeating bosses is easy (but time-consuming) if you continously fire while moving the directional pad in a circular motion.

I can't imagine these 3D effects impressing anybody even back in 1991. Constantly moving the directional pad in circles became tiresome and eventually painful! At some point you acquire a new ship with a "charge" weapon but it can't save this turkey. HyperZone is mind-numbing. Let me put it this way: when you finally see "game over", you'll be glad. © Copyright 2021 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 54,200
1 player 

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