Publisher: Taito (1993)
It 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.
Publisher: THQ (1991)
This 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
Home Alone 2: Lost in New York
Publisher: THQ (1992)
It 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.
Our high score: 12,900
Publisher: Sony (1992)
Based 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.
Publisher: Vic Tokai (1991)
An unremarkable shooter with mediocre graphics and rampant slowdown, Imperium was one of those early SNES duds that gave the system a bad rap. Imperium's intro looks fairly heinous (that city looks like a rug!) but the music is one of those catchy 16-bit tunes that you can't get out of your head. In terms of gameplay, Imperium is a somewhat engaging vertical shooter with four types of rapid-fire weapons. Instead of racking up a score, you earn "experience points" which augment your weapons and firepower. It's cool how the top of the screen keeps you posted on how many experience points are needed to reach the next level. The first stage offers some seriously uninspired foes (pods and such), but later you encounter more imaginative enemies, including octopus-shaped beasts and robotic lobsters that detach from their tails. The static background scenery is totally unconvincing, with "water" that looks more like blue silly putty. Those tiny white sea gulls in stage two are a nice touch though. Imperium's biggest flaw is its failure to maintain a steady framerate - the action slows to a crawl when things get crazy. Other issues include indestructible cannons (damn it!), inexplicable lulls in the action, and pods that "sneak up" from behind (cheap!). And why is there no audible noise when your ship takes a hit? Despite these ills however, I did enjoy Imperium's frenetic action and considerable challenge. You'll want to set the difficulty to "easy" if you hope to reach the later stages. Casual SNES players can safely pass on Imperium, but 2D shooter fanatics may find this worth their while. © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 3120
Indiana Jones' Greatest Adventures
Publisher: LucasArts (1994)
Having watched the Indiana Jones trilogy about a dozen times, I was pretty psyched about a game that recreates all three
of the films. The stages inspired by the first film include the famous boulder sequence, the streets of Cairo, and the snake-infested Well of Souls. From the second movie there's the Chinese Club, the Indian Palace, and even that rickety rope bridge. In the Last Crusade you'll explore catacombs, sneak through a German castle, and even ride a Zeppelin. The high-quality look and feel is similar to LucasArt's Super Star Wars games for the SNES. The characters are well animated, and the lush multi-layered stages look terrific. The crystal-clear background music is lifted straight from the movies, and it really lends weight to the action. There are some nice voice samples, like creepy chanting in the Temple of Doom, and Indy saying "Let's go" at the start of each stage. The side-scrolling action is typical as you leap between platforms, dodge traps, and whip enemies. Unfortunately, an endless army of small, annoying animals constantly nip at your heels and interrupt your jumps. These irritating creatures are present on every level, in the form of birds, bats, rats, and even jumping fish! In one stage you even have to contend with rock-dropping birds! C'mon
now! You'll also deal with cheap hits like falling stalactites and spikes that rise from the ground, although you can often anticipate these. The difficulty is sky high, even on the so-called "easy" difficulty. Three cool 3D sequences provide a welcome respite from the side-scrolling mayhem. These manage to convey an amazing sense of speed while effectively recreating harrowing raft, mine cart, and biplane scenes. Between levels you're treated to photo-quality stills from the movies and presented with a password. It doesn't play nearly
as well as it looks, but for gamers with enough skill and patience, Indiana Jones offers a lot of adventure for the money. © Copyright 2008 The Video Game Critic.
Recommended variation: easy
Our high score: 5800
Save mechanism: Password
Itchy and Scratchy
Publisher: Acclaim (1994)
I always got a kick out of watching Itchy and Scratchy as the "show within a show" during the Simpsons. Its cartoon violence was so over the top, it made the people who crusade against that kind of thing look silly. I was stoked about playing this game but should have known Acclaim would find a way to screw it up. First of all, the game is one-player only
, which is ludicrous considering the premise is a cat and mouse beating the living [expletive] out of each other. Itchy and Scratchy is a series of one-on-one battles in uninspired side-scrolling stages. You control Itchy the mouse and the CPU is Scratchy the cat. Your default weapon - the mallet - does minimal damage, so you'll want to scour the landscape for better weapons like a cutlass, pistol, grenades, and flaming arrows. The graphics aren't bad but the themes (dinosaurs, medieval times, pirates, wild west) suffer from an extreme lack of creativity. It's mildly amusing to watch Scratchy get sliced in half or have his head blown off, but the novelty wears thin in a hurry. After delivering one good hit your weapon goes away, which is bogus. There are other enemies wandering around like pirates and dinosaurs, but they serve no purpose. The characters are large but tend to enter the screen without warning and exit before you can even get off an attack. You'll need to hit Scratchy at least a dozen times to defeat him, and he's always jumping around and usually off the screen. It's annoying how you can't hit him when he's too close, or worse yet right on top of you. The game doesn't make a lot of sense. Collecting cheese lets you run fast, but how is that supposed to help? Certain items you collect (like bones and cannonballs) are completely useless until you reach the boss stage. And why do I get a free life by touching a Scratchy icon
? The game has no score and I hate that. Itchy and Scratchy should have been a hilarious beat-em-up, but after just a few minutes it feels like a pointless waste of time. © Copyright 2014 The Video Game Critic.