Capcom Classics Collection Vol. 1
Publisher: Capcom (2005)
This is one of the finest classic game collections you'll ever find, packing 22 arcade titles of considerable quality. I already owned the PS2 version, but this 480p edition works better on my plasma TV. These games have held up extremely well over time, and even in high definition the artistry of their 2D graphics really comes across. There's a nice cross-section of styles too. 1942, 1943, and 1943 Kai are solid vertical shooters where you pilot WWII-era bombers over hostile waters. Bionic Commando is a challenging platform shooter where you traverse ledges via an extensible arm. Commando and Mercs are excellent Rambo-style top-down shooters. Three versions of Street Fighter 2 are included: the original, Championship Edition, and Hyper Fighting. Other old favorites include Ghosts and Goblins, Ghouls and Ghosts, and even Super Ghouls and Ghosts (SNES version). Forgotten Worlds is a spectacular side-scrolling shooter set in a post-apocalyptic world, and it's cool how you can rotate your character to fire at any angle. I think my favorite game on this disk would have to be Final Fight, which is considerably better than the SNES version. This compilation does contain a few clunkers (Vulgas and Exed Exes come to mind), but overall it's a terrific value. The bulk of the titles have a two-player option, and a surprising number are cooperative. Each game is configurable, but only to a limited extent. High scores are saved and there's a rapid-fire option, but there's no "easy" difficulty and you can't adjust the continues (which are unlimited). Even so, Capcom Classics Volume 1 is required playing for classic gamers, especially if you own an arcade stick for your Xbox. © Copyright 2010 The Video Game Critic.
Capcom Classics Collection Vol. 2
Publisher: Capcom (2005)
Capcom Vs. SNK 2 EO
Publisher: Capcom (2002)
Rating: Teen (suggestive themes, violence)
Publisher: GS Software (2003)
Castlevania: Curse of Darkness
Publisher: Konami (2006)
Rating: Mature (blood and violence)
Publisher: Electronic Arts (2001)
Rating: Teen (Comic michief, violence)
This vehicle combat game uses the trendy new "cell shaded" polygon graphics, which look like 3D versions of those old Warner Bros cartoons. I have to be honest: the animation is truly amazing to behold. It's a nice change of pace for those who cut their teeth on Twisted Metal. The music and sound effects are also interesting. It's hard for me to determine why this game doesn't work as well as it should. I think the bottom line is that it's just too chaotic. Despite the excellent framerate and zany animations, it's really hard to tell what the heck's going on in the heat of battle. The battlefield can get pretty muddled, especially in the split screen mode. There are no damage meters - one solid hit blows you up. As a result, you are constantly being destroyed, often before you can even get your bearings. Short-range weapons like the axe, hammer, buzz saw, baseball bat, chainsaw, and boxing gloves are great fun, but long-range weapons are a drag. Cheap hits from mortars and crossbows come from out of nowhere. And with vehicles whizzing all over the place, it's really impossible to aim from any kind of distance. Just head towards a group of vehicles and start firing away. Cel Damage is hard, but I was able to unlock a lot of goodies when playing the four-player split screen mode. Although the game looks better in the single-player mode, it plays better on the split screen. Go figure! I do like the "smack" point system, which earns you points based on how much damage you do. Cel Damage is not a great game, but it shows some potential. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Encore (2001)
Crash Bandicoot Wrath of Cortex
Publisher: Universal (2002)
Rating: Everyone (mild violence)
Given a slick XBox makeover, Wrath of Cortex is definitely a step up from the PS2 original. The graphics have been totally redone and look significantly more polished and slightly more detailed than the PS2 version. You'll even notice some fuzzy fur on Crash during close shots. Best of all, the horrendous loading times are gone - the Xbox only needs a few seconds to load each stage. The gameplay however has remained unchanged, which means you'll still need to deal with lousy jumping controls and unforgiving collision detection. It's especially bad when you're trying to jump on a slow-moving animal (which you could have just as easily run around) but find yourself continually getting turned into a ghost. And the jump and spin gameplay is really starting to get stale. Fortunately there some outstanding driving/flying stages that come to the rescue and provide some much needed variety. The best of these special stages has Crash in a ball (a la Super Monkey Ball) rolling down ramps and through bamboo gutters. This wild ride is nearly worth the price of admission, and the mine cart stage is also very exciting. Too bad the regular stages are so lackluster, or this could have been the definitive Bandicoot game. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.
Crash Nitro Kart
Publisher: Universal (2003)
Crazy Taxi 3: High Roller
Publisher: Sega (2002)
Crazy Taxi was a flagship franchise for the Dreamcast, but this third edition landed on the Xbox with a thud. Looking like a hasty port, Crazy Taxi 3 will disappoint longtime fans. The disk contains a new Las Vegas course in addition to the San Francisco and New York locations from the first two games. It's not a bad value if you're new to the series. You play the role of a wacky cabbie shuttling passengers through bustling city streets. Driving like a madman is fun, especially when there are hidden shortcuts, strategically placed ramps, and outdoor cafes to plow through. Crazy Taxi is known for its pick-up-and-play arcade style, but it loses a bit of its mojo on the Xbox. The visuals don't look as sharp or vibrant, and scenery like the San Francisco harbor looks less detailed. The new Vegas track is pretty lame with its generic layout and sparse crowds. The desert campground area is just plain boring.
The frame-rate is surprisingly erratic and the load times are excessive. An increased difficulty means it's much harder to deliver groups of passengers on time. The Elvis-inspired soundtrack is mediocre, and the music volume is so loud you can't even hear what your passengers are raving about. After bowing out of the hardware business in 2001 Sega seemed to go into an unproductive malaise, resulting in titles like this. Instead of marking the rebirth of the series, Crazy Taxi 3 was the swan song. © Copyright 2010 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Microsoft (2003)
Rating: Teen (Suggestive themes, Violence)
Publisher: THQ (2001)
Rating: Teen (comic mischief, bad language)
This misguided title takes the carefree sport of snowboarding and saddles it with paranoid undertones and espionage
themes. You'll see references to undercover operatives, shadow organizations, and military conspiracies. Are we bored yet?
(Yeah!) The premise of this game makes the "new Coke" look like a good idea
by comparison. You play a lanky red-haired chick in disjointed missions that have you snowboarding through a combination ski resort/toxic waste dump. There are oozing green pits to jump over, fallen towers to grind, and exploding mines to avoid along the narrow, closed-in trails. The graphics aren't bad but the track designs are unappealing with their piles of rusty junk, mud bogs, and train tracks to get stuck on. Performing mid-air acrobatics is an exercise in button mashing, and your character doesn't immediately respond to your commands (hello
face plant!). Grinding is especially unsatisfying because it's simplistic (hold X) and there are no audio effects to go along with it. The courses contain branching paths that let you explore new areas, but they tend to be monotonous and too long. Completing the mini-missions to make progress is an absolute chore
. The challenges are described by cryptic text, so figuring out what you need to do is half the battle. Typically you're asked to perform a series of tricks, but sometimes you'll need to do odd tasks like knock a turkey off a picnic table. I'm not sure what the designers were smoking, but someone at THQ should have had their head examined for giving this dud the green light. © Copyright 2011 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Capcom (2005)
Rating: Mature (blood and gore, intense violence, language, sexual themes)
Publisher: Tecmo (2001)
Rating: Teen (mature sexual themes, violence)
Dead Or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball
Publisher: Tecmo (2003)
Rating: Mature (Sexual themes, gambling, nudity)
Publisher: Midway (2002)
Rating: Teen (violence)
In recent years, remakes of classic early-80's arcade games have proliferated rapidly. Although their snazzy 3D visuals are a huge step up in terms of graphics, the gameplay usually languishes in mediocrity. Defender is a typical example. While it's great to view, the frenzied, relentless gameplay of the original game is nowhere to be found. The graphics are not at fault. The awesome interplanetary skylines are splashed with color, the explosions are remarkable, and the smooth framerate makes it a pleasure to fly around. You view the action from just behind your ship, just like Rogue Leader (Gamecube). Also like Rogue Leader, your missions usually involve protecting, escorting, or evacuating people. You can also pick up and place cannons strategically to help your cause. It's a shame that Midway took this hackneying "mission" approach instead of trying to use the gameplay of the original Defender. This game isn't very fun. A fundamental flaw is the difficulty in shooting anything - the crosshairs are way too sensitive, and aiming is frustrating. Actually, this new Defender bears little resemblance to the original. Only a fleeting sound effect here and there will remind you that you're playing Defender. I did enjoy the "Historical Perspective" documentary included on this DVD, but a better bonus would have been the inclusion of the original Defender. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Atari (2004)
Rating: Teen (blood, violence)
Publisher: Capcom (2003)
Rating: Mature (blood and gore, violence)
Having thoroughly enjoyed the first two Dino Crisis games, I was anxious to "complete the trilogy" of this exciting action/adventure series. Dino Crisis 3 took me a bit by surprise, because it's a radical departure from the first two games. Instead of Jurassic Park-inspired storylines, this takes place in the year 2548 on an abandoned space freighter crawling with genetically mutated dinosaurs. The fresh premise allows for some intriguing possibilities, and the developers took advantage of this to come up with some terrifying creations like you've never seen before. The production values for Dino Crisis 3 are excellent, with smooth, lifelike graphics, and a lavishly orchestrated musical score. The opening cut-scenes are positively jaw dropping, and had me convinced that I was about to embark on the adventure of a lifetime. But despite such a promising start, Dino Crisis 3 turned out to be a confusing mess. Let's start with the horrendous camera scheme that you have absolutely no control over. Not only does it often give you the worst possible angle, but when you move it swings randomly, which is completely disorienting. You can't even see where you're going half the time! Adding to the confusion is the fact that the large, wide-open rooms all tend to look the same. Dinosaurs regenerate constantly, and literally appear out of thin air. Add in a bunch of uninteresting key puzzles and the need to constantly backtrack, and it soon becomes apparent why this game sucks so much. On the bright side, auto-targeting helps you pick off targets, and you can employ floating robots to fight alongside of you. But overall Dino Crisis 3 is a major disappointment, and it's probably not worth your time. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Id Software (2005)
Rating: Mature (blood and gore, intense violence)
Dragon's Lair 3D
Publisher: Ubi Soft (2002)
Rating: Teen (mild violence)
Dungeons and Dragons Heroes
Publisher: Atari (2003)
Rating: Teen (blood and gore, violence)
Publisher: Sega (2004)
ESPN NFL Football 2K4
Publisher: Sega (2003)
ESPN Winter Games Snowboarding 2002
Publisher: Konami (2002)
Could Konami come up with the longer, more unimaginative name? ESPN Winter Games Snowboarding 2002 really doesn't have much to offer, but for only $9.99 (at Best Buy), I couldn't resist. The truth is, snowboarding games are a dime a dozen, and there's nothing here to make this one stand out. This game needs an edge, badly. The graphics are average and the control scheme is borrowed almost completely from SSX (PS2). The game fails to convey much sense of speed or excitement. The grinds are done on roller coaster-like rails, but the fact that you don't need to maintain your balance (just hold a button) greatly reduces the challenge. The graphics are smoothly animated but plain, and your large snowboarder often blocks your view of upcoming ramps and obstacles. A career mode lets you create, outfit, and live a day-by-day schedule as a snowboarder. Unfortunately, the many layers of menus become tedious to wade through after a while. The rock soundtrack features some big names like Offspring and 311. For novice snowboarders this game will suffice, but veteran gamers will want more. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.
Egg Mania: Eggstreme
Publisher: Kemco (2002)
For those who can't get enough puzzle action, Egg Mania is an interesting take on the classic Tetris formula. This shape-stacking game is played on a split-screen against the CPU or a friend. Despite what the title might imply, you're not
stacking eggs. No, these are standard Tetris-shaped blocks. The difference is that you control an egg-shaped character
who catches the blocks and slams them into place. The ability to hold each block buys you some extra time so you can thoughtfully position them and fill in the gaps. Unlike Tetris your ultimate goal is to build a tower high enough to reach a hot air balloon hovering above. The integrity of your structure is a factor because it will collapse if it becomes too rickety. Special items appear which either aid your building efforts or let you sabotage your opponent. It's fun to lob a bomb over to the other side as that poor slob attempts to jump out of the way. Adding further chaos are bees and dragons that occasionally fly in and attack. Frankly, there's a far too much stuff happening in this game. Egg Mania is far more complicated than it needs to be, which becomes clear if you attempt the tutorial which just goes on and on until you finally quit out of the damned thing. There are some interesting ideas here, but Egg Mania tries to do too much. © Copyright 2012 The Video Game Critic.
Enter the Matrix
Publisher: Atari (2003)
Rating: Teen (mild language, suggestive themes, violence)
Evil Dead: A Fistful of Boomstick
Publisher: THQ (2003)
Rating: Mature (blood and gore, violence)
I wasn't expecting much for $20, but being a long-time Evil Dead fanatic, I was hoping that Fistful of Boomstick would at least be respectable. I figured I could tolerate some mediocre gameplay as long as it retained that classic over-the-top horror formula I've always loved. Well, you have to be careful what you ask for, because this is certainly mediocre, and I don't think I like it so much. Wandering through town blasting ghouls with your shotgun and dismembering them with a chainsaw is entertaining for a while, but the fun doesn't last. The graphics are below average, with plain-looking, uninteresting scenery. The character models are blocky, although the gratuitous splattering blood and flying limbs do compensate for this somewhat. Our hero Ash is voiced by Evil Dead star Bruce Campbell, who sounds like he's having a swell time. His funny wisecracks include gems like "Yes, you may
have another", "Thank you for shopping at ass-whippings R Us," and "I bet you're for gun control now, huh?" The monsters do seem to possess the classic Evil Dead mannerisms, but they look pretty rough for an Xbox game. The stages contain a series puzzles that often defy logic, and you'll find yourself running in circles. Battling zombies in the streets hardly feels like an Evil Dead movie, and it's frustrating not being able enter most buildings. In addition to fighting, you'll also talk to people and collect keys to open new areas. Spells gradually become available, but trying to execute a spell in the heat of battle is hazardous to your health. In later stages medical kits are in short supply and the zombies swarm you from all directions. Fistful of Boomstick was an ill-conceived project, and even Evil Dead fans will find it hard to justify shelling out $20 for it. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.