Super Nintendo Reviews W-Z

Grade: D-
Publisher: LJN (1994)
Posted: 2021/10/31

screenshotIf you ever get a chance to play Warlock, stare intently at the beautiful autumn foliage and scenic covered bridges of the opening stage because that is the best part of the game and frankly it's not even close. You're a guy in a blue trenchcoat running through this idyllic landscape when the old dude from Phantasm appears and the sky grows dark and ominous. He starts transforming dogs into werewolves and the effect looks pretty cool.

After you duck into a library, the evil warlock begins turning innocent students into those fake-looking zombies from Corpse Killer (Sega CD, 1994). You can fire "magic blasts" from your hands to turn them to dust, but everything takes several shots to kill. It's hard to change directions, which is aggravating when being approached on both sides.

You're also armed with this worthless levitating orb thingy. You can send it flying in various directions, but it moves in an erratic zig-zag pattern and doesn't do much damage. Spells are available but I never really got a good grip on how to effectively use them.

There's a lot of stages but they are repetitive. In stage two you explore caves with dripping acid and giant spiders that burrow up from below. You can't shoot low enough to hit them and they're too wide to jump over, so you're just taking damage constantly. After taking a hit you get a few seconds of invincibility, so take advantage of that and get moving!

In one particularly unpleasant graveyard stage you'll face a series of animated statues. One is a lion you have to defeat to pass. The problem is, it won't come to life unless you're practically on top of it. Apparently somebody thought this was a good idea.

The best aspect of Warlock is its graphics. The blood red sky in the graveyard stage looks striking, especially with those eerie green lights emanating from the crypts in the distance. This feels more fleshed out than the Genesis game, with clear digitized sounds and vivid graphical detail. It's a shame the gameplay is so marginal. Warlock is intriguing for the first few minutes, but once the fun factor goes into freefall you'll be forgiven for not wanting to stick around. © Copyright 2021 The Video Game Critic.

Save mechanism: password
1 player 

Wayne Gretzky and the NHLPA All-Stars
Grade: D
Publisher: Time Warner (1995)
Posted: 2022/4/14

screenshotFor 16-bit sports fans, Wayne Gretzky Hockey is a familiar story. The game looks and sounds superior to the Genesis version yet somehow manages to play significantly worse. To its credit the game doesn't really suffer any of the slowdown or choppiness associated with early SNES sports titles. The graphics are sharp and the sound effects are amazing.

As you can tell by its convoluted title Wayne Gretzky and the NHLPA All-Stars doesn't have a NHL license. You may not even notice however, as selecting teams by city name seems natural enough. The face-off screen features large, colorful players, twitching their sticks nervously before the puck drops. At the bottom of the screen you see two player helmets slowly converging. Are these dudes about to make out? Equally funny is how after the referee drops the puck it almost always gets slapped directly into his shin! Yeeeoow!!

The rink looks beautiful and the side angle view lets you see almost half of it at any given time. I noticed some nifty animations like a player snagging the puck out of the air with his glove. Organ music plays throughout and I love the "clicky" sound effects of players fighting for the puck. The resonating sound of the puck hitting off the goal post is terrific.

The arcade mode is entirely too chaotic with players bouncing off each other like pinballs. But even in simulation mode the controls are suspect. The manual says to use the X button to perform a one-timer, but that doesn't work. Why would it be a separate button to begin with? That's not a major factor however because in this game any random slap shot has a way of finding its way into the goal. Scott M. summed up this game as "take a shot, you may score."

The game has a few special features for better or worse. The black-and-white "highlight" videos look completely out of place. Fights run comically long, with players getting up off the ice even after being beat down repeatedly! Where is the "give up" button? I do love seeing that zamboni smooth out the ice between periods to the sound of cheesy elevator music.

Wayne Gretzky Hockey for the SNES is unpolished, requiring less skill than the Genesis version. That said, if you turn on simulation mode, disable fighting, and dial down the period length to two minutes, you might not hate it. © Copyright 2022 The Video Game Critic.

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1 to 4 players 

Wayne's World
Grade: F
Publisher: THQ (1993)
Posted: 2005/6/1

screenshotDespite what other critics say, Wayne's World will go down as one of the greatest movie-related video games of all time. NOT! This piece of crap is barely playable; it's a complete waste of a movie license. The ordeal begins with a semi-animated episode of the Wayne's World public-access television program. Most of the dialogue is conveyed through word "bubbles", and the few actual voice clips sound as if they were recorded at the bottom of a well. "Dream sequences" are used to segue into the stages of the game.

Instead of using locations from the movie, the five stages are weird, surreal worlds that I hate with a passion. There's a record store with attacking musical instruments, a donut shop where you fight food-shaped monstrosities, and some kind of drug-induced suburbia with houses floating in the sky. None of these are interesting or funny, and their overall designs are painfully monotonous. Assuming the role of Wayne, you shoot at monsters with a guitar and perform tedious jumps between platforms.

The controls are anything but exact, and perpetual cheap hits force you to fire non-stop. Wayne's digitized face looks impressive, but you'll tire of his one liners in a hurry. The few lame references to the film include a "No Stairway to Heaven" sign in the music store, but in general the game does a miserable job of capturing the spirit of the movie. Even the music is weak, mainly consisting of generic guitar noise looped over and over. To say Wayne's World is "not worthy" is an understatement. If I have to play it again, I may spew. © Copyright 2005 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 

Grade: F

screenshotWhen I was still living at home my friends would pile into my bedroom and scour my Gamepro and Electronic Gaming Monthly magazines for hot new fighting carts. I recall Steve and Brendan drooling over WeaponLord screenshots, as the concept of wielding weapons in a fighter was mind-blowing for the time.

WeaponLord's characters sport a primitive style, decked out with pelts, skulls, and horns. I'm under the impression they were illustrated in painstaking detail on paper, much of which was lost in the system's limited resolution. The fighters look grainy and it's hard to make out their faces.

The action is hard to follow, especially when the fighters are tangled up. It doesn't help that each move is only two or three frames of animation. Even basic moves are tough to discern, so when any shape-shifting kicks in you can forget it. The audio is a strong point, with a momentous musical score and clear voices. The clanking metal "ties" resonate well, and the sound of blades ripping through flesh is satisfying.

The intro music sounds vaguely like Primal Rage (Time Warner, 1995) and the visuals have a certain mystical realm thing happening. One thing that's not happening is fun! The controls feel terribly laggy and the heavy weapons are laborious to swing. If you select a slow character you might be dead before you can even land single blow. When you do strike your foe it's a good idea to deal several more quick hits before he can react.

Some of the stages are cool. One is set in front of a windy path leading to a distant castle. Another takes place on a snowy ledge with wolves lurking in the background. The story mode is just pages of boring text, and the arcade mode has no score or ranking. WeaponLord looks good on paper, but maybe it should have stayed there. © Copyright 2022 The Video Game Critic.

1 or 2 players 

Wild Guns
Grade: A-

screenshotThis awesome shooter takes place in the Wild West with cowboys, saloons, horses, trains, and... robots? Yeah, nothing spices up history like mechanical behemoths, and they make great bosses too! Wild Guns boasts arcade-style graphics, rapid-fire shooting, and satisfying explosions.

You select between two characters, cowboy Clint or sexy saloon girl Annie. You move your character side-to-side across the bottom of the screen, blasting everything in sight. By aiming a circular cursor and holding down Y you unleash an unending stream of bullets, and the game doesn't require you to be particularly precise.

Outlaws, cannons, and robots return fire with slow-moving projectiles, but these can be avoided by rolling or jumping sideways. Your default weapon is pretty effective, but you'll often obtain cool power-ups like a shotgun. Smart bombs that blow up everything on the screen are also available.

The game begins on a dusty main street with cowboys emerging from windows and covered wagons. Next the action moves into a saloon where bartenders toss dynamite while outlaws take cover behind tables. Finally you find yourself on a rooftop facing off against a mammoth robotic boss. And that's just the first stage!

Survive that and you can select from four stages to play next, including a gold mine, ammunition depot, canyon, and armored train. Two players can go at it at once, but that can be chaotic. I love the detail in the scenery and humorous animations. It's no wonder this rare game is so highly sought after. Wild Guns is straight-up, arcade-style shooting fun. © Copyright 2017 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 110,330
1 or 2 players 

Winter Extreme Skiing and Snowboarding
Grade: D-
Publisher: Electrobrain (1993)
Posted: 2015/2/1

screenshotWhen I noticed Winter Extreme was "endorsed by Val d'Isere", I made a connection between this and Val d'Isere Skiing and Snowboarding (Jaguar, 1994). Both clearly run off the same engine and have the same menu structure. Unfortunately this SNES version is slower, less smooth, and far less pleasing to the eye. The default "free ride" option is a pretty cool idea.

You're presented with a map of the side of a sprawling mountain with all sorts of branching trails and lifts connecting them. Starting from the left side you complete checkpoints to unlock new trails across the mountain face. It's quite a challenge and I seem to get a little further each time I play. If only your progress was saved like the Jaguar version.

Competition modes let you race for best time in downhill, slalom, and giant slalom events. I'm glad these events only run a minute or less, because they are repetitive as hell. Winter Extreme is kind of a one-trick pony. The undulating hills look great at first, but the scenery along the trail is sparse, lined with pixelated pine trees and rocks. Those rocks look like giant skulls, which is great if you've ever wanted to know what it's like to ski through the Temple of Doom.

The controls are unorthodox. Your skier turns partly on his own, so most of the time you only need to make small corrections to prevent yourself from drifting off course. On occasion however you will encounter a series of whiplash-inducing rapid-fire turns. Your visibility is very severely limited, so instead of anticipating turns you try to react to them.

The goofy electronic soundtrack is so bad my friend Scott described it as "barf-inducing". The two-player mode does not support split-screen, but there is an ad for Butterfinger. I wouldn't call Winter Extreme Skiing and Snowboarding a total loss, but it's close. © Copyright 2015 The Video Game Critic.

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Recommended variation: giant slalom
Our high score: SDZ 1:05.63
1 or 2 players 

X-Kaliber 2097
Grade: D
Publisher: Activision (1994)
Posted: 2017/9/9

screenshotWhat the [expletive] is "X-Kaliber 2097"? I assumed it was some obscure film or perhaps a short-lived TV series. In fact it's a video game franchise known as Sword Maniac in Japan. Why didn't they just use that title?

The opening stage gets the game off to a promising start by incorporating a gorgeous New York skyline at night. Not only do the lighted skyscrapers look fantastic but their reflections can be seen in the shimmering water below. Later stages offer similar views, and they are the visual highlight of the game. Otherwise the graphics kind of suck, and I hate those black outlines around the characters.

Your dude "Slash" reminds me of Strider (Genesis, 1991) as he methodically flips between platforms. His sword has excellent range and there are special moves like a lunge and "flaming arc". You face a lot of slow, bulky, armored soldiers who approach one at a time. I noticed they drop gigantic assault rifles when shot, yet you can't pick them up. Health packs look a heck of a lot like cans of Coca Cola. If that's supposed to be subliminal advertising... well... it's working. I am so thirsty right now!

Certain areas are guarded by mounted guns, but your block move can absorb their bullets. As with so many games, you need to beware of dripping green goo. What the [expletive] is that stuff anyway? I thought X-Kaliber was halfway decent until I met that first boss. "Tattoo" takes forever to defeat because all you can do is chip away at his life bar.

But it's the second stage where the game falls flat on its face. As you walk down a trashed city street you're accosted by thugs on motorcycles. The collision detection is non-existent as you slash away at bikes riding all over you. X-Kaliber 2097 shows some promise, but ultimately degenerates in a marginal, by-the-numbers slash-a-thon. © Copyright 2017 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 1880
1 player 

X-Men: Mutant Apocalypse
Grade: B
Publisher: Capcom (1994)
Posted: 2000/7/15

screenshotMutant Apocalypse is an impressive side-scrolling platformer. Embarking on individual missions, you control five X-Men including Wolverine, Cyclops, Psylocke, Gambit, and Beast. Your ultimate goal is to free mutants from an island where they are being held by the evil Mighty Apocalypse. Despite using only two buttons, the game offers about seven or eight attacks for each hero. The stages exhibit great variety and showcase the X-Men's individual talents. For example, Wolverine can climb walls and Beast can walk on ceilings. The characters are huge, backgrounds are interesting, and the huge bosses are exciting. Even the sky high difficulty won't prevent you from coming back for more superhero action. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.
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1 player 

Grade: C
Publisher: Asmik (1992)
Posted: 2019/7/28

screenshotI'm always up for a good robot shooter, especially when it has a cool futuristic name like Xardion. The unskippable intro lasts about a minute but seems much longer. The text is actually fun to read because it's a bunch of run-on sentences that make no sense. Xardion's graphics are sharp but the action is slow and halting.

The controls felt stiff as you slowly ascend platforms and shoot enemies in the ankles. Your firepower feels weak as you fire tiny exclamation points at lizard warriors and flying jellyfish. Thunderous sound effects are used to convey mass, but you'd expect to hear that when you land, not jump.

But just when I was able to write off Xardion as a complete dud, I stumbled upon the status screen. Here you can toggle between three unique cyborg forms: your default robot, a dragon-like warrior, and a spinning wolf. Each has its own health meter and abilities, so it's like having two extra lives! An innovative level-up system lets you upgrade by defeating foes, but some grinding is required. The status screen also lets you equip special weapons like missiles and bombs - with some difficulty.

The first boss is a giant one-eyed praying-mantis insect and it took forever to kill that thing. Still, I enjoy the strategy involved with juggling characters to conquer each stage. The second stage is set on a semi-submerged planet, and the third takes place on an ice planet with a jungle beneath its surface. Trying to hop between tree branches with these stiff-assed robots is a pain in the ass. The game has a battery-backed autosave feature I was not expecting. Xardion isn't bad, but you need to be patient and embrace the strategic elements of the game. © Copyright 2019 The Video Game Critic.

Save mechanism: battery
1 player 

Yoshi's Island: Super Mario World 2
Grade: A
Publisher: Nintendo (1995)
Posted: 2008/4/7

screenshotI was expecting more of the same ol' Super Mario action from this one, but Yoshi's Island feels very unique. Apparently gamers really enjoyed riding on Yoshi's back in the previous Super Mario game, because that's all you do in this one! This time however Yoshi carries a baby in search of its twin.

The first thing you'll notice about Yoshi's Island is its innovative graphic style. The simple clean lines and solid colors of the first Super Mario World give way to visuals that appear to have been rendered with crayons and magic markers! It looks strange at first, but it ultimately gives the game its distinctive personality.

Many enemies resemble kids in Halloween masks, although you'll also encounter the familiar Super Mario mainstays. Yoshi's Island introduces some cool new moves, including the ability to "manufacture" and throw eggs at targets, and stomp the ground to break through weak areas. Special power-ups give Yoshi the ability to morph into a vehicle including a helicopter, train, tank, or sub.

Yoshi's Island has a huge number of levels, not to mention bonus challenges and mini-games. Up to three people can save progress to one cartridge. I was apprehensive about Yoshi's Island at first, but it won me over in a big way. It may look like a kiddie game, but there's no age limit to fun. © Copyright 2008 The Video Game Critic.

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Save mechanism: Battery
1 player 

Yoshi's Safari
Grade: D-
Publisher: Nintendo (1993)
Posted: 2013/7/27

screenshotThis light-gun shooter gave Nintendo an opportunity to incorporate their loveable characters into a Super Scope title. The game is a lot of fun... for the first five minutes or so! You actually assume the role of Mario who is riding Yoshi. Since it's a first-person shooter, you're looking at the back of Yoshi's head the whole time. Together you're out to retrieve twelve gems which will somehow save a kingdom (just go with it).

Mode 7 effects facilitate smooth movement along a flat, pixelated path. There's little scenery but colors and textures convey environments like deserts, meadows, and even underwater. Yoshi moves automatically as enemies scale in from the front and sides, including usual suspects like koopas, turtles, squid, and moles. Yoshi's Safari makes good use of the turbo setting on the gun. In fact, I can't imagine playing this game without it!

You hold in the fire button to unleash a steady stream of shots, effectively wiping the screen clear of enemies. Eventually your meter runs down and you'll need to recharge, but that only takes a second or two. The shooting is accurate, but every now and then you're prompted to jump over a gap to break up the monotony. There are a lot of bosses, most of which change into a different form after taking substantial damage.

The difficulty is ultra-low, so you can breeze through the whole game in less than an hour and a half. By then you'll be glad to get that huge, God-forsaken hunk of plastic off your shoulder. The game's ending has got to be one of the lamest ever as the king thanks you about a dozen times for saving his world. He then lets you in on a secret: by holding L, R, X, Y, and start on the title screen, you can play an entirely new quest! The thing is, Yoshi's Safari is such an ordeal you won't be tempted to play it a second time. Note: The Super Scope only operates on old-style TVs. © Copyright 2013 The Video Game Critic.

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1 or 2 players 

Zombies Ate My Neighbors
Grade: A-
Publisher: Konami (1993)
Posted: 2010/10/9

screenshotAs a longtime fan of this monster mish-mash, I'm happy to report that the game has aged beautifully. If a single title illustrates the graphic and audio superiority of the SNES over the Genesis, it's Zombies Ate My Neighbors. The Genesis version tries hard, but it can't match the razor-sharp visuals and audio range of the SNES. Zombies is a lighthearted shooter that effectively spoofs every classic horror flick you can think of - with style and good humor.

Playing the role of a boy or girl, you attempt to rescue innocent people from rampaging monsters in a series of whimsical scenarios. There are more than 50 overhead stages including a suburban neighborhood terrorized by zombies, a pyramid full of mummies, a school invaded by aliens, and a shopping mall infested with demonic dolls. The creatures are rendered with a wacky flair and the lush scenery is fun to explore.

Your default weapon is a water pistol, and there are plenty more unconventional weapons like exploding six-packs, popsicles, fire extinguishers, and even a weed-wacker. Certain weapons are pitifully weak, but at least you can cycle between them. A handy radar overlay indicates when a hapless victim is in the vicinity, and also tells you how many are remaining. Two players can cooperate, but sharing the screen is problematic so it's best to let one player lead the way.

The rollicking musical score sets the mood perfectly, alternating in tone between ominous and playful. I would absolutely love to own the soundtrack to this game! An easy-to-write-down password is provided every few stages, and there's also a high score screen. When your game ends purple goo drips down the screen, and it would obviously be red blood if not for Nintendo's overbearing anti-violence policy (RIP). Zombies Ate My Neighbors is a brilliant arcade romp that's practically mandatory for October gaming. © Copyright 2010 The Video Game Critic.

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Our high score: 67120
Save mechanism: Password
1 or 2 players 

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