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

Super Nintendo Reviews O-P

PGA Tour Golf
Grade: F
Publisher: Electronic Arts (1991)
Posted: 2016/7/16

screenshotDespite its graphical edge over the Genesis, sports games had a tendency to falter on the SNES. PGA Tour Golf is a prime example. The set-up screens look sharp with all sorts of nifty options, including the ability to resume a game in progress. I was intrigued with the fly-by hole preview which puts the scaling capabilities of the system on full display. You can examine the hole from all angles as golf legend Fuzzy Zoeller provides advice.

At this point I was feeling pretty good about PGA Tour. Then I got to the tee-off screen. The hole looks like a narrow strip in a vast ocean of dark green muck. Your golfer looks goofy and that swing won't win any awards for animation. The ball comes off the tee all wrong and scaling effects are used to follow the ball in flight. Bad idea.

Not only does the screen move in a herky-jerky manner, but the ground looks like a blurry, pixelated mess! Setting up each shot is pure aggravation as you're constantly prompted to press the start button to wade through an excess of intermediate screens. It's an unpleasant experience to say the least.

The best part of the game may be its bird sound effects which attracted the attention of my cat Claire. Any inclination to give this game the benefit of the doubt was shattered when the game locked up in the middle of my round. That's almost unheard of for a cartridge. I always enjoyed the PGA Tour Golf on the Genesis, and now I appreciate it even more! © Copyright 2016 The Video Game Critic.

Save mechanism: battery
1 to 4 players 

Paperboy 2
Grade: C
Publisher: Mindscape (1991)
Posted: 2007/10/12

screenshotThe original Paperboy arcade game was terrific, but this sequel comes off a bit flat. Controlling a boy or girl on a bike, you travel up the screen while avoiding obstacles and tossing newspapers at mailboxes and other targets. It's humorous to see what kind of chaos you can unleash, whether it's by hitting a guy working on a car (causing it to fall on him), knocking an old man off his rocker, or smacking an armed robber in the back of the head.

Unlike the original game, the side of the street you deliver to alternates, and each street ends with an obstacle course of ramps and targets. Paperboy 2 is undeniably fun but very rough around the edges. Especially for the SNES, the visuals look awfully chunky and the animation is rough. It's hard to judge your position with respect to obstacles and ramps, and it doesn't help that the collision detection is extremely unforgiving.

It's next-to-impossible to execute tight turns, and you'll have to contend with cheap shots from cannons and fireball-spewing gargoyles. In many cases the houses are so far off the street that you can't even see if the newspaper made it to the mailbox, and have to rely on audio cues instead. Paperboy 2 has a likeable, whimsical style that will appeal to arcade gamers, but it's not the blockbuster sequel I was expecting. © Copyright 2007 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: MB 14900
1 or 2 players 

Grade: B+
Publisher: Jaleco (1994)
Posted: 2011/5/10

screenshotVideo games have taught us all that there's only one effective way to keep the peace, and that's by beating the living [expletive] out of anything that moves! This side-scrolling brawler is the third entry of a trilogy that began with Rival Turf (1992) and continued with Brawl Brothers (1993). Although parts of the game feel uninspired and recycled, there's more to Peacekeepers than meets the eye.

The opening text crawl describes how a company rose to power "through the damage and ignorance of the economic wars of 2011". That's soon followed by my favorite line: "Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts better than expected." How wise that is! Anyway, the Peacekeepers are four playable characters including a white guy (Flynn), a black dude (Al), a wrestler (Prokop) and a chick (Echo). Echo is probably the best all-around fighter because her quickness allows her to sneak in extra attacks and evade enemy holds. You can switch fighters between stages, and can actually unlock new playable characters along the way.

The first thing you'll notice when playing Peacekeepers is the complete lack of music. All you hear is background noise like the droning of machines in a factory. The game can be uncomfortably quiet at times - especially while creeping through the sewers. The stages lack imagination and some have even been lifted directly from Brawl Brothers. There's a street stage named "Snake Pliskin Ave" which I find hilarious. The control scheme has more depth than your garden-variety fighter.

Besides your normal attack you also get power and dash attacks. You can block and even execute a "reverse" if your timing is right. It's too bad they didn't incorporate a few team-oriented moves. Limited special attacks include wielding lightning (Flynn) or unleashing an ear-splitting scream (Echo).

Digitized photos are used in cut-scenes, and it's funny how they reuse the same Asian guy for multiple evil scientists. What I like best about Peacekeepers is its branching paths which take you to different areas each time you play. This increases the replay value substantially. You get 12 continues, and that turns out to be a very good number for a game like this. Peacekeepers doesn't make the best first impression, but my wife said she would play this again, and that's a ringing endorsement. © Copyright 2011 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 123,800 (with continues)
1 to 4 players 

Grade: C+
Publisher: Kemco (1992)
Posted: 2015/9/22

hillbillyThis game is probably best known for its ridiculous box cover featuring an old hillbilly with a banjo. What were the marketing people thinking?! Phalanx is just a side-scrolling shooter that lets you blast alien ships with extreme prejudice. You can equip multiple weapons and switch between them on the fly, so feel free to snag every single power-up! The overarching strategy can be summed up in two words: don't die!

If you can stock up on weapons and survive the opening stage, you're nearly unstoppable. The triple laser weapon offers terrific coverage but the homing weapon is no slouch either. Enemies tend to be nondescript hunks of floating metal. Bosses break apart as you wear them down but can reappear multiple times over the course of a stage.

The scenery looks pretty bland with its gray clouds and desolate post-apocalyptic landscape. The second stage lets you fly through a stream of water in space, making a splash out of the top or bottom. Too bad the graphics look so washed out. The forgiving gameplay provides five ships to start and frequent bonus lives. On top of that, each ship has a three-bar health meter. Phalanx could have used some visual flair but there's something to be said for its straightforward style. © Copyright 2015 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 138,420
1 player 

Grade: C
Publisher: Nintendo (1991)
Posted: 2009/12/6

screenshotAs one of the first SNES titles, Pilotwings probably served as much a technical demonstration as it did an actual game. It serves that purpose well, effectively showing off the system's impressive scaling capabilities. When a helicopter lifts your skydiver thousands of feet in the air, the illusion is remarkably convincing! The game offers four single-player challenges in the form of "flight areas". Each area is a flat island with a set of runways and landing pads. Some of the landing pads even move to provide extra challenge.

Graduating to the next area involves completing a set of challenges and earning enough points in the process. Activities include light plane (bi-plane), skydiving, hang gliding, rocket-belt (jet-pack), and helicopter. Each has a unique feel, but they all require making fine-tuned adjustments and properly judging the landing location. At first the challenges are limited to simply flying through three rings and landing, but the more advanced levels are longer and more complex. Good luck getting past the third area!

Practice makes perfect, but the game can be frustrating. I really hate when you come in for a perfect landing with the plane, only to have it bounce off the runway. Likewise in the jet-pack there are times when you are hovering right next to a ring, yet can't seem to fly through it.

Pilotwings features a lot of happy, upbeat music, but some tunes are irritating, like the "blah blah blah" song in the jet-pack stage. A six-digit password is provided between areas. Pilotwings is technically impressive and mildly addictive, but I can't imagine ever wanting to play it again once you beat it. © Copyright 2009 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 

The Pirates of Dark Water
Grade: D
Publisher: Sunsoft (1994)
Posted: 2016/9/1

screenshotUnlike the Genesis version, the SNES Pirates of Dark Water is a side-scrolling brawler along the lines of Final Fight (Capcom, 1991). This game is formulamatic to the max but at least it's well programmed. One or two players select between three characters: a dude, a girl, and some big ugly bastard named Ioz (my favorite). The opening stage is set on colorful cliffs with pterodactyls gliding over the sea. Later stages include an underground river, a dead forest, and a quaint village.

The scenery is highly repetitive and so is the fighting. You're attacked by the same barbarians over and over sporting imaginative names like "big pirate", "tall pirate", and "lady pirate". I like how that tall pirate waves his sword over his head before striking down with it. That "tattoo man" is annoying because he blocks everything. Your variety of attacks is the only thing keeping the action vaguely interesting. You can execute combination punches, jump-kicks, charge moves, and special moves.

Throws play a major role as well. You can grab just about any enemy and slam them into the ground, toss them into others, or fling them into pits. Some stages incorporate traps that enemies walk into, but it's not clear whether they're sustaining damage. In terms of audio Pirates of Dark Water truly kicks ass. The music is edgy and the sound effects pack a wallop. When Ioz strikes down with his sword it's pretty devastating!

Pirates is enjoyable for a while but the easy difficulty, endless stages, and overly-generous extra lives take their toll on the fun factor. Like similar games, you'll spend a lot of time swinging at the margins of the screen, whacking enemies before they can even enter. Even on the "hard" difficulty you'll breeze through this game, and you won't even need the five continues. Pirates of Dark Water had potential, but it doesn't test your skill so much as it does your wrist and attention span. © Copyright 2016 The Video Game Critic.

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Recommended variation: hard
Our high score: 995,700
1 or 2 players 

Pit Fighter
Grade: F-
Publisher: Tengen (1991)
Posted: 2015/1/1

screenshotIn the early 90's I found myself caught up in the throes of fighting game mania. I was desperate to buy any new fighter I could get my hands on, and Pit-Fighter (Genesis, 1990) was one of those impulse buys. My friends were not very impressed but I enjoyed its easy-to-play arcade style. You select between three fighters (Buzz, Ty, Kato) in some kind of sleazy underground fight club with a bloodthirsty crowd.

Since I liked the Genesis game I decided to give this SNES edition a shot. I figured sharper graphics, clearer audio, and extra buttons might add something to the experience. I was dead wrong. I don't know where to begin with this debacle of a game. I guess I should start with the fact that it has zero options! Not even a sound test for crying out loud! You just hit a button and the character selection screen pops up.

The controls for selecting a character are ass-backwards to say the least. The graphics look sharper than the Genesis, but only serve to emphasize how blocky and poorly-animated the digitized characters are. It's hard to tell what's happening as the fighters cavort with each other, often falling down without even making contact. The controls feel unresponsive and the collision detection is horrific. One time I scored a perfect zero because I couldn't even get off a punch. Instead of health bars there are numbers that count down as fighters take damage.

And where is the lady in the black outfit who tries to stab you in the back with a knife? I miss that crazy woman. After defeating an enemy and progressing to the next level, your life meter doesn't even replenish! How are you supposed to make progress?! The final insult is when your life goes to zero and "game over" appears. That's right - you get a single life and no continues. Wow. The Genesis version of Pit Fighter served its purpose, but as far as I can tell this one has no purpose. © Copyright 2015 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 12700
1 player 

Pitfall: The Mayan Adventure
Grade: D+
Publisher: Activision (1994)
Posted: 2018/7/3

screenshotThe Mayan Adventure was Activision's attempt to resurrect their dormant Pitfall franchise of the early 1980s. Graphically there's not much to complain about, with lavish Indiana Jones-inspired jungles, mesmerizing waterfalls, and trap-laden tombs. The wild animals are fluidly animated, calling to mind Disney's Jungle Book (Genesis, 1994). Crisp sound effects contribute to the exotic atmosphere but the platform-jumping gameplay is less inspired.

Most of your adversaries are tiny, annoying creatures like bats, rats, and monkeys that nip at your ankles. The controls are erratic. I was wondering why I kept slipping off a particular ledge only to discover there's a patch of green moss on the very edge. What kind of douchebag would put that there?! Instead of plunging to my death I found myself in an earlier area, but frankly I'm not sure which is worse.

Mayan Adventure's confusing level design necessitates the use of gold idols scattered throughout the game which literally point you in the right direction. Expect to slam into a lot of invisible walls and fall through unseen holes. The graphics are cleaner and brighter than the Sega versions, but it kind of undermines the sense of mystique. The first boss, a black panther, takes about 20 stones to defeat and has no health bar.

Your own health meter - depicting Harry in the jaws of a crocodile, is too cute and hard to gauge. Still, it's moderately fun to play for score by seeking out every gold bar and diamond ring. Best of all, the original Pitfall (Atari 2600, 1982) is buried somewhere in The Mayan Adventure. Now that is a real treasure. © Copyright 2018 The Video Game Critic.

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Our high score: 63,255
1 player 

Pocky & Rocky
Grade: C+
Publisher: Natsume (1993)
Posted: 2022/12/3

screenshotPocky & Rocky is a quirky co-op shooter with an endearing anime style. Instead of flying over the scenery, you're walking on paths through villages, enchanted forests, and graveyards. The chubby stars of the game are a little girl and a raccoon. The overhead perspective reminds me of Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (SNES, 1992).

The first stage is a haunted Japanese village, and it's one of the most beautiful stages I've seen in a 16-bit game. With its traditional architecture, stone roads, scenic ponds, and changing weather conditions, this is eye candy of the highest magnitude. Ghosts, cyclops, skeletons, and animated umbrellas climb out of wells and fall from the sky. I don't want this stage to end!

Our heroes can fire cards or leaves in a rapid-fire manner to handle the onslaught. You also have a deflect move that turns enemy projectiles against them. It's indispensable for bosses. There's also a limited supply of bombs powerful enough to bring most bosses to their knees (if they had knees).

Like many anime titles, Pocky & Rocky is pretty weird. A lot of bosses are very cartoonish, like a big tomato with a face who exclaims "Haha - I am your adversary!" The main challenge with most of these bosses is trying not to run out of real estate, as they tend to crowd you into corners. You do have a slide move, which helps if you can remember you have it.

After an epic stage one, the fun factor takes a precipitous dip. Now there's too many things coming at you and you absorb too many hits. Winged creatures swirling around as turnip monsters crop up beneath your feet. Why are these adorable monkeys attacking me?? Sometimes it's best to just keep moving, but that strategy doesn't work when you're stuck on a river raft. That part just drags on forever.

The third stage takes place in a graveyard. The Halloween imagery is terrific but the difficulty is way over the top. Those jack-o-lantern ghosts take about 20 hits and your defect move doesn't even work against that grim reaper guarding the crypt.

One big issue with Pocky & Rocky is the fact that there's no strafe, so you'll need to move towards an enemy to shoot it. It's no walk in the park - that's for sure. After a tremendous start the game grows tiresome. That said, I wish I had snagged its sequel back in the day, which now goes for a small fortune. © Copyright 2022 The Video Game Critic.

Recommended variation: easy
Our high score: 147,280
1 or 2 players 

Porky Pig's Haunted Holiday
Grade: B-
Publisher: Sunsoft (1995)
Posted: 2013/1/15
Rating: Kids to Adults 6+

screenshotYou may find it hard to get yourself psyched up for a Porky Pig game, but Haunted Holiday is no joke! This whimsical platformer is a heck of a lot of fun and loaded with surprises. Porky begins his journey in a haunted graveyard, and this weird stage somehow manages to incorporate both Halloween and Christmas elements. Subsequent stages put Porky in a Wild West ghost town, the water kingdom of Atlantis, and the snowy Alps. Swimming through Altantis is slow going, but the other stages are ideal in length.

Porky's jump-and-pounce action is satisfying thanks to responsive controls and exaggerated sound effects. Warner Bros cartoon fans will notice familiar sights like the two-headed vulture, a prancing dog, and bats with big eyes. Certain enemies are kind of disturbing, like the mounted moose head that scampers around! Yikes! Leprechauns split in two when you pounce on them, and I was surprised they appeared to be smoking pipes. My friend Scott reassured me however that those are not pipes but guns. God forbid we expose kids to the horrors of smoking!

The stage backgrounds are very artistic, and there are random weather effects and some impressive 3D scaling. Ironically the worst looking thing in the entire game is Porky himself, who appears somewhat pixelated. The music is pretty amazing and the digitized sound effects include Daffy Duck's maniacal laugh. The oversized bosses are memorable including Yosemite Sam and a Ghost in a top hat. Haunted Holiday is definitely on the easy side, but that just makes it all the more appealing. As my friend Chris remarked, "it makes you want to keep going!" © Copyright 2013 The Video Game Critic.

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Our high score: 23,600
1 player 

Power Instinct
Grade: C+
Publisher: Atlus (1994)
Posted: 2019/10/2
Rating: Teen

screenshotPower Instinct is a cheesy yet highly entertaining Street Fighter II (SNES, 1991) knock off. In this one-on-one fighter you execute combos and perform floaty jumps in a variety of exotic stages. Certain characters are dead ringers for their Street Fighter counterparts. White Buffalo is clearly T. Hawk, Annie is Chun Li, Kieth Wayne is Ken, etc. Speaking of which, could Keith Wayne possibly have a more American-sounding name?

You won't have much trouble matching up certain special attacks to their Street Fighter moves (Dragon punch, Honda slap, etc). The eight fighters do include a few original faces like the fierce ninja Saizo, the hideously muscular Angela, and old granny Otane who can transform into a young lady. The soundtrack isn't particularly good but there are interesting stages including a stormy graveyard, a city street lined with bikers, and a parking garage with a blazing orange sunset.

Power Instinct boasts some fun animations and a wacky sense of humor. My friend Chris incredulously asked "did that old lady just throw her false teeth at me?!" The font used in the menus has a weird "western" motif. As you might guess the gameplay isn't as tight as Street Fighter, with frequent slowdown and various timing issues. Naturally there are crates and other breakable items sitting around the stages to break. Fighting game enthusiasts should feel right at home with Power Instinct, and I'm guessing they'll have a pretty good time playing it. © Copyright 2019 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 306,400
1 or 2 players 

Prehistorik Man
Grade: B

screenshotHad it not been released a full four years after Chuck Rock (Genesis, 1991) Prehistorik Man could have been a bonafide hit. This is a conventional but well-programmed platformer starring a wacky caveman who pounces on cuddly bears, giant spiders, and cute dinosaurs. There are loads of food items to grab for points, including what appears to be a Big Mac with fries. Stone heads float over gaps but collapse if you stand on them for too long.

As derivative as it sounds Prehistorik Man is a heck of a lot of fun. The controls are outstanding. I like how you can swing your club while jumping or dangling from a vine. The ability to yell to scare off enemies is unique, as is throwing spears to create new platforms. The glacier stages offer a twist on the slippery formula, swaying to and fro in the water. Certain stages are more puzzle-oriented, challenging you to locate hidden items or locations.

One element that never really takes off is the ill-advised hang-gliding. Controlling your glider isn't intuitive as all, and it's infuriating to struggle with the controls as you plunge to your death. Otherwise the game has a glossy sheen and an eclectic soundtrack. Some tunes sound like music from a Peanuts cartoon, while others have a mellow groove that lets you get into a zone. Fun audio effects include your caveman exclaiming "Yikes!" when hitting a spike. Prehistorik Man is highly entertaining stuff, with each stage offering a unique platform experience. © Copyright 2018 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 419,900
1 player 

Primal Rage
Grade: D+
Publisher: Time Warner (1995)
Posted: 2013/6/19

screenshotWhen I first saw the Primal Rage arcade machine in a local sub shop, I was awestruck. As a fan of Mortal Kombat and Ray Harryhausen movies, the concept of stop-motion, clay-mation dinosaurs fighting really blew my mind. It's a wonderful premise that doesn't play as good as it looks. How could it?

The creatures include two T-Rexes (Sauron, Diablo), two giant apes (Blizzard, Chaos), a horned dinosaur (Armagon), a raptor (Talon), and a cobra-like creature (Vertigo). The one-on-one fighting action doesn't stray far from the Mortal Kombat formula as creatures execute combos, special moves, and fatalities. Combo percentages are displayed on the screen, which was a first for its time.

Primal Rage seems pretty shallow until you get a few special moves under your belt. Diablo breathes fire, Blizzard can freeze an enemy in place, and Armagon can flip his opponent into the air. I love that beating heart at the end of your life bar which bursts into a bloody mess when you lose. In 1995 I opted for this SNES edition (over the Genesis), but felt lukewarm about it.

The characters are smaller than the arcade and the animation is slower. The hits lack impact and the blood looks ridiculous. Diablo was noticeably smaller than Sauron in the arcade, but here they're pretty much the same size. The animation could be smoother and the "iffy" collision detection registers some hits that aren't even close. The SNES controller has the ideal four-button layout for the game, but special moves are still hard to execute. The act of eating a native spectator (to regain life) is so complicated that it's not worth the effort.

The post-apocalyptic backdrops look good but aren't quite as awe-inspiring as the arcade. The music is sparse but there are some memorable audio effects. I'll give this version a little extra credit for its glossy manual which has a lot of fun illustrations (and a hot babe on page 18). Primal Rage may not have been all it was cracked up to be, but I'm still intrigued by the concept. © Copyright 2013 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 150,000
1 or 2 players 

Prince of Persia
Grade: C-
Publisher: Konami (1992)
Posted: 2021/2/14

screenshotI was not enamored by Prince of Persia (Sega CD, 1992) but readers implored me to try this SNES version. I will admit that this one is substantially better. The environments are darker and more foreboding, decked out with skeletons and flickering torches like any self-respecting dungeon would have. They even a few new cavernous areas tacked on.

The musical score sounds more contemporary yet still retains the proper mystical undertones. Your prince is less awkward to control, and it helps that you have a few more buttons to work with. The game demands a slow, deliberate approach. I find it amusing how messages like "117 minutes left" flash periodically. Hell, I'm lucky to last three.

Each screen offers a new set of challenges with traps, gates, pressure panels, and collapsing platforms. Sometimes you're required to perform heart-stopping leaps and one false move is instant death. The game can be positively heart-wrenching. Once I meticulously worked my way through an entire stage, giving a flawless performance only to be suddenly impaled at the end because I hit the wrong button. My advice to you is never get comfortable playing Prince of Persia.

Sword fights become more frequent as you progress and I hate how they are sometimes obscured by stone columns in the foreground. Being aggressive is usually a good idea, as suffering the first blow is hard to recover from. There are no checkpoints but a seven-character password is provided between levels. A game like Prince of Persia is not for the faint of heart but may be rewarding to those who seek to accomplish a goal. If you always wanted to know what this classic is all about, the SNES version is probably your best bet. © Copyright 2021 The Video Game Critic.

Save mechanism: password
1 player 

Pugsley's Scavenger Hunt
Grade: C

screenshotIt took me a long time to give Pugsley's Scavenger Hunt a try, probably because I associate the term "scavenger hunt" with "wild goose chase". I wasn't far off. The title screen plays a fine rendition of the Addams Family theme so true to the original I expected voices to kick in! Based on a cartoon series, little Pugsley must collect items strewn throughout an old mansion. The game looks like a million bucks with its crisp graphics, fluid animation, and jaunty musical score.

I love how you can select your stage by visiting various rooms including the attic, laboratory, and bathroom. It's fun to discover hidden areas, collect dollar signs, and rack up big points. Simple run-and-jump controls let you pounce on marching knights, floating rubber ducks, and rolling eyeballs. The platforming action is crazy hard. I'm supposed to collect a laundry list of items but I can't even make it through one stage!

Dangers lurk everywhere as Pugsley sprints below guillotines, ducks under fireballs, and rides flying cannonballs. There are falling spears, swooping insects, and spikes everywhere you look. The crystal ball stage looks amazing with Grandma peering in, but that circular view makes it hard to see where you're going. Low ceilings provide minimal headroom and enemies can throw projectiles through walls.

This game is like a war of attrition and you'll hear a lot of farting sounds as you take hits. Just accept the fact you're going to take a beating and hope you have enough hearts (and luck) to persevere. The worst part of the game are the controls for leaping off chains and ropes! I always end up bumping my head and falling into spikes. Getting through Pugley's Scavenger Hunt requires practice and memorization. The game is well-programmed but I really wish the designers had known when to say when. © Copyright 2020 The Video Game Critic.

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Our high score: BP 14000
1 player 

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