Super Nintendo Reviews K-L

Kawasaki Caribbean Challenge
Grade: F
Publisher: Gametek (1993)
Reviewed: 2008/7/29
Rating: Kids to Adults

screenshotKawasaki Caribbean Challenge is an overhead motorcycle racer with an option to race jet-skis! What's not to like about that!? Quite a bit, as it turns out. You first select from various Ninja motorcycles and Jet Ski watercraft, and then compete in a series of races. The cool selection screen features digitized photos, and reggae-inspired tunes put you in the mood for summer fun.

The races are viewed directly from overhead, with your vehicle centered on the screen. This gives you minimal view of the road ahead, so learning the track layouts is imperative. A small map in the corner shows your position on the map, and it's easier to drive while staring at that! Your motorcycle looks like a big blob, and the scenery is totally lame. I was hoping for a tropical paradise, but all I got was a few bales of hay.

The jet-ski races play exactly the same, but the tracks are so wide you can't see the boundaries! Trying to figure out where to go is no fun at all. The water looks fake, and the pixelated sunbathers look like something from an Atari 5200 game. The horrible engine noise sounds like a swarm of bees!

Could this game get any worse? Yes. Would you believe you actually have to run a qualifying lap just to gain entrance into each race?! Qualifying laps always suck, but in this game, they're just insulting. Frankly, it's hard to find any redeeming qualities in Kawasaki Caribbean Challenge. . © Copyright 2008 The Video Game Critic.

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1 player 

Ken Griffey Major League Baseball
Grade: B+
Publisher: Nintendo (1994)
Reviewed: 2000/4/16


screenshotThis game gave the SNES a legitimately baseball title - finally! This is a polished, arcade-style game featuring all of the major league teams and stadiums. Unfortunately, it does not contain any of the major league players - except Ken Griffey of course. In theory you could modify and save the rosters to reflect the real players, but this would be a lot of tedious work.

The graphics look crisp and colorful, although the players look cartoonish with their exaggerated physiques. The scrolling and animation is smooth, and the detailed stadiums look terrific. I remember my friend Eric and I playing this game on a display at Toys R Us and being extremely impressed that the outfield wall at Wrigley Field was actually covered with ivy!

Ken Griffey's controls are simple and responsive, and this has to be one of the fastest baseball games I've ever played. It's really too bad there's no instant replay feature. It may come up a bit short on realism but Ken Griffey Major League Baseball is undeniably fun and entertaining. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.

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1 or 2 players 

Ken Griffey's Winning Run
Grade: A-
Publisher: Nintendo (1996)
Reviewed: 2001/4/14

screenshotThis phenomenal baseball game is even better than the first Ken Griffey game, and that's saying a lot. The pitcher/batter view is now angled low enough so you can see the stadiums in the background, and they look fantastic. Once the ball is hit, you view the field from a much higher angle. This makes the fielders appear small but makes it easy to track down the fly balls. The players look more realistic than they did in the first Ken Griffey game, although Ken himself looks ridiculously buff on the title screen. Winning Run preserves the fast-paced gameplay of the first Ken Griffey, and the crowd and umpire sound effects are noticeably improved. The only faults I could determine are the lack of major league players and no instant replay. Otherwise, this is the best baseball game I've played on the SNES. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.
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1 or 2 players 

Killer Instinct
Grade: B+
Publisher: Nintendo (1995)
Reviewed: 2003/10/17


screenshotI wasn't a big fan of this 2D fighter "back in the day", but in retrospect Killer Instinct isn't bad at all. Released at the height of fighting-game mania (1995), Instinct sold millions of copies the day it was released, but never reached the level of popularity of a Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat. Besides being a damn good-looking game, Killer Instinct's claim to fame is it's highly touted combo system.

The idea of stringing together attacks began with Street Fighter II, but Killer Instinct takes the concept to the extreme. Thus, with a lot of practice (or a little luck) you can pull off 15-hit combos while your opponent stands there like a chump. Since the combos are not listed in the manual, a lot of research and practice is required to become truly proficient at them, although button mashing can occasionally achieve positive results as well. I'm not a big fan of the whole combo thing, but I do appreciate the easy-to-execute special moves with their Street Fighter-like controls. The game is fun and the one-player mode has a "one-more-time" addictive quality.

Visually, Killer Instinct is a knockout. The fighters are probably the most interesting bunch I've ever seen in a fighting game. There's a skeleton, a werewolf, a boxer, a Native American, a ninja, a robot soldier, and a raptor, just to name a few. The single female fighter is a black woman named Orchid. The action is not as fluid as the arcade, but still commendable. I love the imaginative "dizzy" animations, such as the robot short-circuiting or the Indian coughing. But while the fighters look great, the backgrounds are uninspired, featuring dull, static ruins, temples, and city skylines.

Before each match, a slick intro screen depicts both combatants up close in impressive 3D. And as sharp as the visuals are, the audio is even better. The digitized voices and effects are crystal clear, and the background music rocks! Just hearing those tunes again brings back fond memories of having my buddies over when still living at home. A CD of music ("Killer Kuts") was included with the game, but the songs aren't nearly as impressive outside of the game. Killer Instinct comes in a jet-black cartridge, and stands as one of the better fighting games for the SNES. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.

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1 or 2 players 

Kirby Super Star
Grade: B-
Publisher: Nintendo (1996)
Reviewed: 2000/1/10

screenshotOne of the strangest characters in Nintendo's stable, Kirby is a big fat pink ghost with power to literally inhale his enemies. His platform games are easy to play, and possess whimsical graphics along the lines of Super Mario Bros. Kirby Super Star actually contains eight Kirby games, but two need to be unlocked, and two others are so minor they probably shouldn't even count. Still, six games is a lot of action for your money, especially when they dish out the quality gameplay you would expect from Nintendo.

Inhaling enemies not only fun, but it allows Kirby to absorb their powers. This changes his appearance slightly and gives him the ability to execute moves like throwing fire or swinging a sword. Kirby also has the option of converting enemies into "friends" who will fight alongside him. These friends can even be controlled by a second player!

These Kirby games are goofy yet oddly compelling. The graphics tend to be simple but have a clean, colorful appearance that's easy on the eyes. The controls are dead-on, and the cartridge includes a battery to save your progress. In you can look past Kirby's cutsey appearance, I think you'll find this compilation to be well worth your time. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.

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Save mechanism: Battery
1 or 2 players 

Knights of the Round
Grade: B-
Publisher: Capcom (1994)
Reviewed: 2003/1/24

screenshotThis obscure side-scrolling beat-em-up is a sentimental favorite of mine. It plays like a classy Golden Axe with no monsters but better visuals. The beautiful graphics feature majestic castles and picturesque medieval landscapes, and a lavishly orchestrated musical score perfectly complements the theme. You select from one of three legendary characters, including King Author, Lancelot, and Perceval.

You accumulate experience levels as you slay knights, barbarians, jesters, and magicians. Money and food fall from enemies you strike down, providing points and health. I have to admit it looks pretty funny when you kill a knight and a big bowl of salad falls out of him. Naturally each stage ends with the obligatory boss battle.

Knights of the Round is a fine-looking title, but it suffers from repetitive gameplay. You only have two attacks - a standard hack and a "mega crush" attack (which you'll want to save for tight situations). There's a guard move, but it's practically useless. Hacking up endless bad guys gets monotonous, and there's not much diversity between the three playable characters.

By far the coolest feature is the ability to knock a knight off of his horse and mount the horse yourself. Unfortunately, there's only two or three opportunities to do this trick in the entire game. The two player simultaneous action is fun enough, but slowdown runs rampant at times. And while the music is excellent, the sound effects are horribly muffled. Knights of the Round is no classic, but fighting fans with an appreciation for 16-bit graphics should take a look. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.

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1 or 2 players 

Legend
Grade: D
Publisher: Seika (1993)
Reviewed: 2018/4/10

screenshotLegend feels a lot like Golden Axe (Genesis, 1989)... only running at half the speed! You'll methodically forge across a scenic countryside while hacking at barbarians, archers, swamp creatures, and animated trees. This is a good-looking game with pleasant renaissance-style music complimenting the medieval scenery.

Your sword is your primary attack but swinging is time-consuming and your attacks are often blocked. This is a problem when enemies converge from both sides. Your special attack lets you hurl projectiles which can slice through several enemies a time. The shoulder buttons let you block, but I always forget I have this move!

Magic is your ace-in-the-hole but you'll want to save that for when the screen is crowded with enemies (or a boss). Defeated foes drop sacks of coins and loaves of bread, but your slow-ass often can't reach them before they flicker and disappear. The jump-kick move looks cheesy as hell but it's the only thing I'd characterize as quick in the entire game. It lets you escape tight situations and strike several enemies at a time. The problem is it's too effective! If you jump-kick repeatedly enemies will take forever to defeat but they'll rarely lay a hand on you.

Legend is generally slow and repetitive, and it doesn't help that the very first stage forces you to trudge through a swamp. The two-player action just further degrades the already-plodding pace. The boss encounters are strange. Why would a boss begin with a half-filled life meter? Legend offers continues but you'll need to restart the entire level if you die at the hands of a boss. I usually enjoy side-scrolling brawlers but I would not recommend breaking your piggy bank for this one. . © Copyright 2018 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: BSC 14,645
1 or 2 players 

Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, The
Grade: A+
Publisher: Nintendo (1992)
Reviewed: 2002/7/12

screenshotHow many superlatives can the Video Game Critic use in one review? As it turns out, quite a few! If Legend of Zelda Link to the Past isn't the best video game ever made, then it's easily in the top 10. Even the acclaimed Nintendo 64 incarnations of Zelda couldn't improve upon this perfect blend of exploration, action, and puzzle solving.

I've never been a huge fan of role-playing games, but Zelda has always managed to straddle the line between role-playing and arcade action. Although your character "Link" develops skills and manages an inventory much like an RPG, all of the action is played out in real time. Despite the game's cartoonish appearance, each object is meticulously crafted and cleanly animated. The gameplay is strictly 2D, but overlapping areas convey the illusion of multi-tiered castles and dungeons.

The enemies are extremely imaginative, and each has its own distinct personality and attack patterns. Skeletons leap away from your attacks, soldiers block with shields, and one-eyed crab monsters fall asleep and wake up unpredictably. The battles are challenging but never repetitive, and the puzzles tend to be on the easy side, eliminating the frustration factor. Zelda's audio is fantastic, with crystal clear sound effects and a sweeping musical score.

But what really makes Link to the Past shine is its superior gameplay. The pacing is steady and new areas open gradually, never allowing you to become bored. The carefully designed "world" is perfectly sized, so there's always plenty of room to explore, yet you never feel lost or overwhelmed. The difficulty is ideal, and you can save your progress even after you die. Brilliantly conceived and expertly programmed, Zelda: A Link to the Past is a captivating experience that will appeal to gamers of all ages. It simply doesn't get much better than this. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.

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1 player 

Lemmings
Grade: D
Publisher: Sunsoft (1992)
Reviewed: 2019/7/28

screenshotOne astute reader pointed out my failure to review one of the most famous video games of all time! I vaguely recall playing Lemmings on a PC in the early 90's. At the time multitasking was a novelty, so the idea of issuing orders to a bunch of independent creatures was a big deal. Fast-forward to 2019 and the game still has a certain charm. If nothing else its puzzles will make you think.

Each level begins by slowly dropping up to 50 Lemmings onto the screen, usually into some sort of cave. These lovable little creatures wander forward by default, and without guidance they'll walk off cliffs and into fire. By assigning them abilities to block, dig, climb, build, or float, you can guide them safely to the exit. The difficulty ramps in a hurry but the stage titles offer not-so-subtle hints ("tailor-made for blockers").

The thing that irritates me about Lemmings is its arbitrary rules. You can reassign certain abilities but not others, and often a few of the poor schmucks need to be sacrificed at the end of each level. The "nuclear" option exterminates all remaining Lemmings on the screen, blowing them to smithereens. The game was expressly designed for mouse control and moving a square cursor around with a digital pad is clumsy. I dug out my dusty SNES mouse but would you believe it's not even supported?

Also problematic is how the game doesn't identify the ability types with text, employing ambiguous symbols instead. The musical score offers a collection of happy-go-lucky tunes that got on my nerves after a while. I hate how it keeps playing when I pause the game! A two-player split-screen mode is available but not much of a selling point. The game remains a challenge after all these years, but if you want to have the true Lemmings experience this SNES edition is probably not the way to go. © Copyright 2019 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 

Lester the Unlikely
Grade: F
Publisher: DTMC (1994)
Reviewed: 2016/7/16

screenshotReaders love to recommend bad games just to see me play judge, jury, and executioner. Lester the Unlikely? More like Lester the Unlikeable! This lazy platformer puts you in control of a bumbling nerd in a tropical paradise. Lester slouches when he walks, runs with flailing arms, and throws like a girl. The action is slow and methodical, and you'll occasionally lose all control as Lester performs one of his zany "scaredy cat" animations. Is he really trembling in terror at the sight of a crab?

The game does offer some inviting tropical scenery - I'll give it that much. The opening level takes place on a sunny beach with bright blue skies, fluffy clouds, and shimmering waters. It's a shame the stage designs are so repetitive, forcing you to climb up and down the same rocks over and over. As in Flashback (Genesis, 1993) you can run, leap, and hang onto ledges. I hate how you must be lined up perfectly beneath a ledge in order to jump and grab it. In some cases the ledge is clearly within reach yet you can only grab it with a running start.

Lester's attacks are weak, and the game appears to advocate kicking endangered sea turtles in the face. That ain't right. The simple act of picking up an item can be so difficult I often just give up and move on. Sometimes an eagle will swoop in and carry you way back, negating much of your progress! Who could possibly think this was a good idea? Green slime in caves is not only fatal if it drips on you, but also if you walk over it.

It would be hard to design a worse platformer than this. This game is so cheap you'll incur damage even for successful leaps! The vine swinging seemed like fun until I passed through a vine like a ghost. The sad part is, Lester the Unlikely had all the makings of a fun summertime romp: jungle, water, pirates, monkeys - you name it. Instead we get improbable jungle shenanigans that will have you rolling your eyes and shaking your head in disgust. © Copyright 2016 The Video Game Critic.

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1 player 

Lethal Enforcers
Grade: C
Publisher: Konami (1994)
Reviewed: 2020/5/21

screenshotAfter playing Lethal Enforcers on the Genesis I couldn't help but notice this SNES edition looks considerably better. Instead of grainy, washed-out graphics, the digitized scenery looks colorful and bright. Likewise the crisp music and sounds effects are more on par with the Sega CD version. I love it when a robber yells "you missed me!" just before I shoot that rotten bastard in the face! You can also shoot out windows, and during chase scenes there can be multiple cars on the screen.

But the best feature of this SNES version is the stage select. Getting to the later stages in the Genesis version was like pulling teeth, but now it's more like pulling a trigger. This sounds like the best home version of Lethal Enforcers by far, but not so fast. While the game is fun, I couldn't help but notice that the violence was less gratifying.

The animation is less smooth, making the criminals look like cardboard cut-outs. During car shootouts bad guys don't roll out onto the road like they do on the Genesis. When shot, a thug will yell "ugh!" but there's no "I've been shot" animation. Worst of all, shooting a civilian only triggers a buzz sound and green "caution" indicator. Weak!

The difficulty is lower too and you get eight continues. In two player mode you can use either two guns or two controllers, but you can't mix and match as you could on the Genesis. The good news is, if you own a pink player two gun it will work for any system. Lethal Enforcers for the SNES have a lot going for it, but I think there's a valuable lesson to be learned here, and that's violence matters. © Copyright 2020 The Video Game Critic.

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Our high score: 1996
1 or 2 players 

Lion King, The
Grade: B
Publisher: Virgin (1994)
Reviewed: 1999/12/7

screenshotThis is one of the best-looking SNES titles you'll ever find. Each stage in Lion King's world is bursting with vivid, colorful background scenery and well-animated animals of all sizes. You can interact with many of the animals, and many will help you in your quest.

The game closely follows the storyline of the film. You begin as a baby Simba, but eventually grow into a mature lion. One unique feature is your ability to roar, which has different effects depending on what you direct it at. Also included is an exciting 3D stampede stage and some fun bonus rounds that let you play as Timon and Pumbaa.

Lion King is a high quality title, but it does stumble here and there. Certain stages require far too much jumping between ledges, and it's very easy to become lost in the cave stages. There's a bit of frustration to be had, but fans will love how this great-looking game remains so faithful to the movie. © Copyright 1999 The Video Game Critic.

Save mechanism: Password
1 player 

Lord of the Rings
Grade: D-
Publisher: Interplay (1994)
Reviewed: 2001/3/5

screenshotLike Zelda, Lord of the Rings mixes live action with RPG elements, but its mediocre gameplay isn't even in the same league. You begin by controlling Frodo, but other characters gradually join your party as you progress. The fantasy world looks like something from a child's storybook, and classical background music complements the majestic visuals. The animation is fluid, and the sound effects are some of the best I've ever heard in a video game. The echoes and sound of water drops in the caves are nothing short of amazing.

Unfortunately, it's not always clear where you can or can't go, and you'll often find yourself stuck on invisible obstacles. As good as the game looks, its programming was sloppy. You characters can't move diagonally (!) which severely limits your control, and the collision detection is awful. Sometimes a bat will fly right through you, or your sword will kill a snake far out of its range.

Issues like these make fighting even the smallest enemies a monumental pain, gradually depleting your will to forge ahead. Controlling multiple characters is even worse, as you need to use the R button to switch between them. Apparently the game was designed to support up to five players (via the adapter), but I imagine that would be a complete mess. . © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.

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1 to 5 players 


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