Super Nintendo Reviews I-J

Imperium
Grade: C
Publisher: Vic Tokai (1991)
Reviewed: 2006/10/26

screenshotAn 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
1 player 

Indiana Jones' Greatest Adventures
Grade: B-
Publisher: LucasArts (1994)
Reviewed: 2008/5/23

screenshotHaving 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.

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Recommended variation: easy
Our high score: 5800
Save mechanism: Password
1 player 

Itchy and Scratchy
Grade: F
Publisher: Acclaim (1994)
Reviewed: 2014/8/12

screenshotI 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.

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1 player 

Jack Nicklaus Golf
Grade: D
Publisher: Accolade (1991)
Reviewed: 2016/7/16


screenshotI can play golf games all day but I'm not especially keen on this one. Jack Nicklaus Golf begins on a promising note with some great digitized images and Jack providing friendly advice. The crisp, colorful overhead preview of the upcoming hole looks great, but I wish it remained on the screen as a point of reference.

On the tee-off screen you'll have to wait for layered scenery to render, which can easily take a full 10 seconds! That's twice as long as the Genesis version, and the extra time really adds up over the course of a round. The three-press swing meter works well, but the wind indicator is confusing. Upon reaching the green, the game doesn't always line you up with the hole. What's that all about?!

At least the game is forgiving - any putt that goes near the hole gets sucked right in. There's some music between holes but the game itself is played in an uncomfortable silence. Couldn't the programmers have at least tossed in some obligatory bird tweets? Jack Nicklaus Golf isn't terrible but there are far better alternatives out there. . © Copyright 2016 The Video Game Critic.

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1 to 4 players 

Jeopardy!
Grade: C+
Publisher: Gameteck (1993)
Reviewed: 1999/12/21

screenshotThis video game edition of the popular game show is designed for one to three players. All the segments of the actual show are present, including Jeopardy, Double Jeopardy, and Final Jeopardy. Alex Trebek appears in the game, but only to pop up before each question just to say "The answer is..." Oh well, at least those distinctive music and sound effects are included.

The first time I played Jeopardy I had an awful first round, earning a score in the negatives. During the second round however I started getting into a groove, and it was fun. The topics make all the difference in the world, so I really appreciate the option to choose a new set of topics if you don't like the ones given.

Your answers must be entered letter by letter, but the interface is well designed and will tolerate some degree of spelling errors. If you've seen the show on television, you know the questions tend to be very hard, but the game gives you an advantage by making the CPU-controlled opponents slow to hit the buzzer. It takes a while to play an entire game, but if you enjoy the TV show, you will like this. . © Copyright 1999 The Video Game Critic.

1 to 3 players 

Jim Power: The Lost Dimension in 3D
Grade: D-
Publisher: Electrobrain (1993)
Reviewed: 2020/3/3

screenshotFor a guy who travels through various dimensions Jim Power is an awfully fragile dude. Touching just about anything causes the man to instantly disintegrate! Save the planet? I'm surprised he can survive lacing up his shoes in the morning! The stage designs in this game aren't helping his cause. Hop up to the very first platform there's some dude running at you 100 miles per hour, and it takes about five shots to bring him down!

Beware of the drops of water that destroy Jim on contact! Also keep your distance from dropping pots, because even the ensuing "shatter" animation will kill you! This game tries to screw over the player in every conceivable manner. As if the difficulty wasn't high enough, each stage is timed! Who felt this was necessary?!

Technically the game is pretty solid, with crisp graphics, nice music, and tight controls. It's a shame so few gamers will survive the long, harrowing opening level, because subsequent stages boast side-scrolling shooting action and even overhead shooting with a hefty dose of scaling and rotation. But even those levels are saddled with the same annoying issues as the side-scrolling ones.

The 3D aspect (described on the box as "virtual reality") is a bit of a joke. The game came with cardboard glasses meant to emphasize the parallax scrolling of the backgrounds. I guess they add a little depth but that's offset by the lack of clarity and general discomfort involved in wearing those things. You'll take them off after two minutes and never put them on again. I'm not sure exactly why Jim Power is traveling through dimensions, but I suspect he's looking for a worthwhile video game. Keep looking Jim! © Copyright 2020 The Video Game Critic.

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Our high score: 30700
1 player 

Joe & Mac
Grade: B+
Publisher: Data East (1991)
Reviewed: 2013/9/12

screenshotI've enjoyed my share of prehistoric platformers over the years, including Chuck Rock (Genesis, 1991) and Bonk's Adventure (Turbografx-16, 1990). Joe & Mac boasts the same arcade graphics and light-hearted style. You play a club-wielding caveman jumping his way over mountains, across rivers, and through icy caverns.

The cartoonish characters are stylishly rendered but the animation is a little stiff. When you "swing" your club the animation is about two frames. It's a good thing you can aim upwards, because enemies tend to attack from above. The jumping controls could be better and the collision detection could be tighter. That said, Joe & Mac is a heck of a lot of fun. I was impressed with the variety of prehistoric animals.

In addition to the usual suspects (T-Rexes, Pterodactyls) you'll face a Brachiosaurus, a mammoth, and some interesting sea creatures. You'll also battle goofy-looking cavemen and man-eating plants. The bosses are so large that many can't even fit on the screen. Power-ups let you toss bones, fireballs, and boomerangs in a rapid-fire manner. I love the "clink" sound of pterodactyls being plucked out of the sky, and it's satisfying to watch them fall around you.

The two-player coop mode sounds good on paper, but it tends to be confusing and slow. As a single-player game however Joe and Mac is addictive. You get unlimited continues but the game displays the high score so you always have something to strive towards. The pacing is good, the bosses are reasonable, and when you die you don't even lose your weapon! The scenery is bright and pleasant, and the steel drum music adds a nice summer vibe. Joe & Mac is just plain fun, and its easy difficulty helps you overlook its flaws. © Copyright 2013 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 56,000
1 or 2 players 

John Madden Football
Grade: F
Publisher: Electronic Arts (1991)
Reviewed: 2009/8/20


screenshotMadden football was an institution on the 16-bit video game consoles, but its first SNES appearance was rough! Released around the same time as Madden '92 for the Genesis, this game would appear to have an edge with its sharp players and clear sound effects. After watching a play or two however, you'll clutch your Genesis game like grim death.

John Madden Football is marred by horrible animation that renders the game borderline unplayable. The field scrolls in a jerky manner, making it very hard to tell what the hell is going on. When calling a play, you need to select "player groups", characterized by terms like "hands", "big", and "fast". Waiting for the appropriate players to run on and off the field easily adds 5-10 seconds to every play. Switching players on defense before the snap is also annoying, because you can only cycle in one direction.

Longtime Madden vets will not-so-fondly recall the three "passing windows" that line the top of the screen. These provide a very limited view of your receivers, giving no indication of their location on the field. You might see a receiver who appears to be wide open, but after throwing you realize he was standing right next to you! The runningbacks tend to bounce off defenders, and sometimes appear to be on roller skates.

There's no NFL license, so the teams are named after cities and there are no logos or player names. One thing this game does have is chain measurements. Hell, even Madden 09 doesn't have that! John Madden Football for the SNES has all the features of the Genesis edition. The only difference is, you won't want to play this one. © Copyright 2009 The Video Game Critic.

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1 or 2 players 

Jungle Book, The
Grade: D+
Publisher: Virgin (1994)
Reviewed: 2014/10/7

screenshotJungle Book gets off on the right foot with a superb piano rendition of "Bear Necessities". This catchy tune really gets me in the mood for some lighthearted fun, and the opening stage looks great with its layers of lush vegetation. Mowgli is a lanky kid that runs, leaps, and swings from vines in fluid motion. He'll jump, climb, and collect items on his way to the end of the stage where one of his animal friends is waiting for him.

Jungle Book isn't terrible, but after playing the superior Genesis version this is a disappointment. The characters are large and the audio is clear, but the gameplay is marginal. It feels like somebody took a perfectly good platformer and made a concerted effort to suck every last bit of fun out of it. As in the Genesis version, each stage challenges you to obtain gems while fending off various wildlife like monkeys, birds, and snakes.

The stages are somewhat linear and the controls feel stiff. Instead of automatically grabbing a vine, you must press up on the directional pad precisely when you're over the end of it. Why make it so hard?! Normally you can throw bananas in a rapid-fire manner, but in some situations Mowgli refuses to throw, which is frustrating. There are too many annoying hazards like prickly plants that sprout from underfoot or plants that shoot thorns upward as you leap over them.

And then there are these deadly flies buzzing around that can barely see. Half the time when you die you'll wonder what the heck just happened. The fact that you can't look downward to preview lower areas means you'll need to take many leaps of faith. There's no score so the gems are only good for earning continues or bonus rounds. In the end, playing this version of The Jungle Book left me feeling kind of empty inside. © Copyright 2014 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 

Jungle Strike
Grade: B-
Publisher: Electronic Arts (1993)
Reviewed: 2002/5/20

screenshotThis sequel to Desert Strike sends you on a series of "surgical strike" missions in a well-armed helicopter. The 45-degree view of the action nicely conveys the illusion of 3D graphics while providing the best angle of the action. The first few missions involve protecting Washington DC from terrorists, but for some reason downtown DC has no traffic - just acres of green meadows! Apparently none of the programmers have ever actually been to DC.

Eventually you'll attack a snow fortress in Siberia before finally starting on the jungle-based scenarios. Your copter is equipped with a machine gun and a limited supply of missiles. Jungle Strike is hard and the action is intense. You need to proceed cautiously, because getting caught in crossfire can mean instant death. In some stages you ride a motorcycle, stealth bomber, or hovercraft, but I found these to be difficult to control and less fun than the helicopter.

The SNES edition of Jungle Strike looks more polished than the original Genesis game, with cleaner graphics and smoother animation (less jerky). The explosions look much improved and the tiny terrorists actually scream when shot. On the down side, the music sounds dull and muffled, and your helicopter looks like it's only hovering about ten feet in the air! Jungle Strike is a decent sequel, but you can tell that the series was starting to spread itself a little thin. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 

Jurassic Park
Grade: F
Publisher: Ocean (1993)
Reviewed: 2012/8/2

screenshotIt's hard to imagine a more kick-ass video game license than Jurassic Park, so what the [expletive] happened here? This doesn't feel like a Jurassic Park game at all! The theme music is missing and your pudgy character looks nothing like Dr. Grant from the movie. The game has a cartoonish appearance which tends to understate the sense of awe. Even the intro voice "Welcome to Jurassic Park" sounds like it was uttered by a disinterested programmer.

You view the action from a tilted overhead perspective as you explore an endless jungle maze with dinosaurs on the loose. Initially armed with an electricity gun, you'll pick up additional weapons like shotguns, bolas, and rocket launchers. Yes, there are raptors and T-Rexes, but you'll spend a lot of time dealing with annoying pint-sized dinosaurs and pesky dragonflies. Exploring the park is unsatisfying. There are signs all over the place, but you can't read any of them!

Your first mission is to collect raptor eggs, and it took me about a half hour to find the first one. And when I read "17 more to go", I wept openly. There's no map and it always feels like you're on a wild goose chase. When you enter an enclosed facility things go from bad to worse as an ill-advised first-person perspective kicks in.

It may have been novel for its time, but the rough animation, clunky controls, and stilted frame-rate will give you a splitting headache. The idea of exploring the visitor center sounds intriguing until you realize it's just a maze of mostly-empty rooms. Expect to see a lot of "you can't go here" messages because you don't have the proper ID card or night vision goggles. Failing miserably to capture the spirit and charm of the film, Jurassic Park is one colossal disappointment. © Copyright 2012 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 853
1 player 

Jurassic Park Part 2: The Chaos Continues
Grade: D-
Publisher: Ocean (1994)
Reviewed: 2012/8/2

screenshotAfter botching the original Jurassic Park SNES game something awful, Ocean tried a whole new approach. This sequel is more in line with the side-scrolling Genesis version - which was pretty good! "This is a side-scroller. I know this!" It's interesting to note that this game is not related to the second film. Its cheesy animated intro tells of a diabolical dictator who sends in an army to take over the island.

Jurassic Park Part 2 is better than the first game, mainly because it can't possibly be any worse. You can select from a half-dozen missions which typically involve running through jungles, jumping over electric wires, climbing hand-over-hand across vines, and shooting dinosaurs. The graphics aren't bad but the gameplay is hurting. You have a split second to react to approaching raptors (if you're lucky), and even when spraying bullets with a machine gun you're still going to take a lot of damage. These raptors can absorb more than a dozen bullets!

The controls include a "dodge" button, but in my experience it's worthless. You can toggle between several weapons but most are ineffective. It's only possible to pick up ammo for the weapon you're currently using, which makes no sense. Jurassic Park 2 is playable with the easy difficulty, but it feels unoriginal and often frustrating.

In one mission you mow down soldiers like Contra - except without the tight controls or fun. The ability to play with a friend simultaneously looks good on paper but it's not practical. Failing to redeem the original game, Jurassic Park Part 2 is just another burial plot in the graveyard of squandered movie licenses. © Copyright 2012 The Video Game Critic.

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Recommended variation: Easy
Our high score: SLN 1000


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