video game reviews

Shaq Fu

For a side scroller the graphics are superb and the sound just outstanding, just try playing the game with the stereo plugged in and you will have one of the most amazing soundtracks in video game history! I’m not kidding! The gameplay is simple, you have Shaq doing the Shaqattack! doh! and much much more! [...]

Battle Chess

Battle Chess is obviously a chess game developed and released way back in 1988. The cool thing about it was that all the pawns where animated and you could see them killing each other in interesting and funny ways. When I was playing it I was still a kid so I didn’t know what I was doing but I was trying desperately to discover all the killing animations that were available. [...]

Whomp ‘Em

Some of the stage designs are questionable. Among Let’s Players and others, the final level has gained notoriety for being rather difficult and just plain cheap. These design errors are evident elsewhere, though: Several areas force the player to make blind jumps, which is hardly ever fun. At least the player can aim the spear downward, likely helping the cause in these cases. There still remain, though, a few spots in which it is tough to tell which elements are mere background and which are needed platforms, along with dubious practices in enemy regeneration. [...]

Luigi’s Mansion

Puzzles are a mixed bag. The majority are nothing too taxing, but the way the game squeezes as many ideas as it can out of Luigi’s limited moveset is admirable. But occasionally you do feel the game is struggling to design a puzzle that is different enough to a previous one. This doesn’t really detract from the experience to any significant degree though. [...]

Switchblade

It’s also worth looking out for Fireblade fragments, of course, and successful recovery of all sixteen pieces bestows a sizeable bonus upon Hiro as well as the option of using the Fireblade as a seventh weapon power-up. It will be a while before that becomes possible though as Switchblade is a pretty big game. It consists of five levels but, although ending with a boss fight, each level continues on from the last so there’s no real break between them. This extends to the look of them. [...]

Chew-Man-Fu

Perhaps it is the Japanese equivalent to the Ham-burglar. In Chew Man Fu your mission is to stop this hungry little man from stealing all the worlds’ fried rice and egg rolls. The game plays sort of like Pengo and you have to take out the enemies by firing the balls you place on each of the 500 stages. Developed by Now Productions and published by Hudson Soft and NEC in 1990 you can also find this game on the Wii’s virtual console. [...]

Wonderland

Magnetic Scrolls developed an interesting game engine called “Magnetic Windows” which they used for Wonderland. Rather than one game screen, Magnetic Windows permitted several game screens to be opened at once (much like Microsoft Windows), and each window could be moved or resized as needed. So a player could have their inventory screen, a screen with details about a particular object, the game map, a specific room item list, a compass, a help menu, the main screen with a graphic, and more all open at once. [...]

Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door

The second Paper Mario game has an epically long quest with lots of quirky humor (there’s a tranny ghost who has a crush on Mario; I’m completely serious), and interesting characters. Be warned that the difficulty jumps for no apparent reason right at the end. Other than that, I can say that Thousand Year Door is a worthy successor to not only Paper Mario, but Super Mario RPG. [...]

Wolfenstein 3D: Atari Jaguar

The Jag version also has the useful feature of three save slots which can be saved to while playing, by tapping either the 1, 2 or 3 buttons on the controllers keypad. No pausing is necessary. Just make sure you don’t press them when you mean to look at the map screen number button. This feature really helps to make the game an even more instantaneous, fuss free fun-fest. [...]

Magical Dinosaur Tour

Pretty much whenever you see the words Magical and tour in something it means educational which for many means boring. This game was released in 1990 so it was before the whole Dinosaur craze, but it would have fit right in if you had a child that really liked learning about Dinosaurs and whom you wanted to punish by giving them this instead of say Ninja Spirit. [...]

King of Kings: The Early Years

In Jesus and the Temple, the player actually controls characters on foot, alternating between Joseph and Mary per level. With gameplay mechanics most akin to the Bible Adventures game, precision-jumping challenges are back, including classic logs-on-a-waterfall bits, ala Super Mario Bros. 2. Once again, wild animals are on the prowl as well, even little frogs. The point is, Joseph and Mary are traversing through this levels in order to find twelve-year-old Jesus, who has gone missing; just as in the Biblical account, he has left his parents to go teach in the temple with great insight. [...]

Grim Fandango

Grim Fandango is a 3D Adventure Game with a Film Noir art-style inspired from the Mexican holiday “Dia de los Muertos” (Day of the Dead) and it comes from the good old LucasArts era. It is Manny Calavera’s 4-year journey through the land of the dead to reach the 9th underworld where all the dead souls go to find eternal peace. [...]

Cratermaze

So you are traveling through time with friends and an evil villain kidnaps them and you have to travel through more time periods to save them. Along the way you “collect” (cough *steal* cough) treasures from the various periods. Every 15 levels you rescue a friend (what did he leave them as breadcrumbs). Also on level 30 and 60 there is a floating super boss that can kill you with a single touch. [...]

Blue Stinger

Predictably enough, the hideous creatures increase in both strength and numbers as you progress through the game but it’s worth taking them on rather than running as each will explode in a shower of coins upon defeat! Whilst this does break the illusion a little, they are nonetheless invaluable sources of money which is needed to make decent progress. Money can also be found in a few other places, as can numerous other items. Some of them are useful but not very exciting such as keys, bank and ID cards, stamps, etc. Others are a bit more interesting but less useful such as an array of new t-shirts! Various foods and ‘Hassy’ drinks can also be found or bought which replenish your energy level to a varying degree depending on what you consume. [...]

J.B. Harold Murder Club

In the game a wealthy womanizer named Bill Robbins has been murdered and you as J.B. Harold has to find out who did it. There is a list of suspects and you must travel around talking to people and searching for clues. For the most part you travel using a grid map and view pictures. For many of today’s gamers it would not be that interesting, but for those who like reading and solving mysteries and puzzles it was an interesting game. [...]

Baseball Stars 2

The gameplay of the game is nothing but wonderful. If there is a strong point of this game is the gameplay which is what makes you want to come back for more. Not only is it challenging at times, but it’s just a wonder to go through your noobie team and turn them into professionals. From beginning to end, you’ll end up powering through some tough challenges and it’ll definitely want to do it all over again. [...]

Resident Evil (GameCube)

I think my favorite part was the crimson head zombies. The regular zombie was no longer a threat, so after a few easy 9mm caps in their butts they go down easy. However after some time, the zombies revive into nastier and stronger version of themselves. The first time you see one of these guys wake up, will make you paranoid about burning or beheaded every zombie you meet. [...]

Ghostbusters II

On the first level, the player notices three barricades blocking three of the lanes. Now, by their height, it could be supposed that they look low enough to jump over. This would not be an unreasonable guess. However, they are impossible to jump over, resulting in the loss of a life for a player trying that tactic. So then, now knowing to dodge those particular sorts of barricades rather than try to hurdle them, the player immediately comes across another interesting sight. [...]

Cthulhu Saves the World

What’s more the game itself is rather good too, though definitely not exactly my kind of CRPG. It’s pure hack-and-slash with minimal exploration, only slightly confusing dungeons and simplistic combat. If it weren’t for the demented plot, the brilliantly hilarious cut-scenes, the hundreds of hidden jokes, the excellent and deep combat system, and the fact that the game wisely rewards gamers with something different every hour or so, I’d have probably given up on it, and would have lost one of the most ridiculous game finales this side of Monkey Island 2. [...]

Spartan X2

The game is so short that playing it over and over can be quite fun although tiring at the same time. There is only so much you can do and the levels are very linear. There is no other way around any of the levels. Just walk from left to right until you reach the boss. In replay value this game suffers but there is always an urge to come back to it for a quick play especially if you know the length of it. Sometimes, games don’t need to be long to be fun. [...]

A Boy and His Blob

Despite the technical shortcomings of its audiovisual presentation, A Boy and His Blob is undoubtedly one of the most distinctive titles in the NES library. Its creativity and utter uniqueness lends it a sort of quality that has led it to becoming one of the most fondly remembered and beloved cartridges ever released in 8 bits. For many retro gamers, Boy And Blob holds a distinct sway in nostalgic sentimentality. [...]

Alien Crush Returns

The biggest change between this game and the original is of course the graphics which are lovely and suitably grotesque, including pulsating sacs, toothy mouths, slimy tubes, scuttling insects, and all manner of horrifying beasts. There’s even huge bosses this time too! There are initially three tables to play in arcade mode (although more can be downloaded) and the ball pings around them at quite a speed, probably the fastest of any Crush game so far, and as usual they are packed with secrets and bonuses galore. [...]

Military Madness

Military Madness sounds like it could be the name for all the wars happening in the past 12 years, but it is actually the name of a turn-based strategy game released for the Turbografx-16 by Hudson Soft in 1989. You play on the moon in 2089 on a hex map controlling the Allied-Union forces against the Axis-Xenon forces. Now unlike many games like this you do not build units, but you can capture enemy units being built in factories. The game was eventually remade for the PlayStation and a 3D remake was made for WiiWare, Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network. [...]

Haunted Hill

With all the hubub about DRM and digital distribution of games, it’s real easy to forget that some platforms have been using the concept for DECADES. One such platform was the Commodore 64, a system very near and dear to my heart. And as such, I’d like to present a game that is similarly dear to me, as it’s one of the first games I ever played, Haunted Hill for the Commodore 64! Written by George Richardson for Merlin’s Associates, its a simple Centipede style game released as a shareware title in 1983. But, as you’ll find out, it’s more than just that. [...]

Thunder Fleets

I could go on and try to ridicule the thing, but I wont. Sadly knowing that the developers are reading this, I’ll humbly suggest a few things to vastly improve the game and give it a fighting chance in the rich world of commercial indie games, where it will apparently have to compete with such acclaimed games as AI War, VVVVVV, Eufloria, The Dream Machine and Revenge of the Titans. I also promise that should Thunder Fleets get an update in the correct direction, I’ll be more than willing to re-review it. [...]

Bravoman

So the plot, well using my comic book knowledge it is like a strange version of Hal Jordan and Green Lantern. A normal man who works at an insurance company encounters and alien named Alpha Man who gives him a metal rod, a fork and a coin, kind of sounds like a Macgyver setup, and this allows him to turn into Bravoman. His mission is to stop the evil Dr. Bomb who gives him a… you thought I was going to say bomb didn’t you. Dr. Bomb has an “end the world weapon”, whatever that means, that will, er, end the world. [...]

Galaga

There is one particular Galaga enemy ship that is special – these enemy spaceships take multiple hits before they are destroyed. If you do not destroy them, they can fly down the screen towards you and release a tractor beam to capture your ship. To free the captured ship, you must destroy the captor Galaga while it is attacking you, if you fail, your captured ship will be destroyed. When you free your captured ship, it will dock alongside your current ship, and you are thus rewarded with a dual firing weapon of mass destruction. [...]

Robocop

So Robocop gives you the general feel of the first movie. You walk around the streets of Detroit shooting random bad guys and facing bosses, some you have never seen in any movie and others you will instantly recognize like ED-209. Like the Superman game, they had to make it way easier for you to die, so Robocop is a bit of a wimp meaning just gays running at him unarmed can cause him damage and bullets hitting him anywhere do why too much damage. [...]

The Jetsons

The music is decent for this game. It definitely doesn’t make you feel like you are in the future but there is nothing more amazing like an 8-bit soundtrack especially if it’s upbeat and fun. The sound effects are also pretty decent as well. There is no voice acting although it’s possible in the NES but you do have some classic sounds. The music would be above average and some of the tunes actually mimic the cartoon’s music. [...]

The Dream Machine

Stunning visuals aside, the Dream Machine is an impressively good and rather traditional indie game of the point-and-click sort, that is less traditionally played via a browser and somehow manages to save your process in a cloud; or was that clouds? I frankly wouldn’t know. Steam also sports some sort of a cloud they tell me, but I’m pretty sure I was once taught clouds are made of steam and, well, did I mention it’s a great game? It is. And it’s got a great and appropriate soundtrack to go with it too. [...]

Assault City

The weird faces the humans pull when you blast them with lead are amusing though. (the robot’s death animations are boring in comparison). It’s almost like the designers wanted you to shoot the wrong targets… You’re then given a ranking for how well you did (I performed badly, predictably), and whisked into the first stage proper. Things get ugly quickly. Enemies fly around in the air, and a robot (which the game has taught me is certainly an enemy) walks along the bottom. All of them are rather uninspired and blandly designed. I shoot away at them, and their death explosions are as equally dour. [...]

Vectrex: Vectrom 32 Game Multi-Cart

The Vectrom cart costs about $45, that is about $1.40 for each game – what a bargain! For that price, you get the cart hinged inside a VHS style case. To keep the authentic retro feel, the game selection is done manually via the mini dip-switch selector on the cart – no software menu selection system here folks! The stuffing around with the dip-switch selection takes some getting used to, but the feature adds to the charm. Don’t stress though, the back of the VHS case has the dip-switch combinations for each of the 32 games. [...]

Bigfoot

Supposedly, the plotline (yes, those roaring engines really need an expansive plot for motivation) involves Bigfoot and his rival, The Growler, in a race across the United States of America. At certain stops, they will partake in a top-down race to try to reach a finish line first, whereas other challenges will take on a side view in the form of a drag race, tractor pull, hill climb, or similar straight-line challenges. After each event, the player can spend winnings on vehicle upgrades. When the player loses an event, the game is over. Well, sometimes. Other times, the game just keeps going anyway. [...]

The Syberia Collection

As for the misguided souls that haven’t tried any of the games on offer yet, let me just say they all feature excellent art -Mr. Sokal is after all a most talented comic artist- classic gameplay mechanics, great soundtracks, mostly easy but well-integrated puzzles, traditional interfaces, brilliant settings and pretty decent plots. The two Syberias in particular are played from a third person perspective and take place in a whimsical clockwork-operated world, whereas the first-person Amerzone is set in a fantastical version of a thinly disguised Amazon rainforest. [...]

Monster Lair

Monster Lair is a side-scrolling action game originally released to the arcades by Sega in 1988. A year later the game was adapted for the Turbo Grafx-16 by Hudson Soft. One of the cool things about Monster Lair is how the game starts out as a normal platformer where you control a boy or girl hero trying to stop the enemy from destroying your land and later on in the game, it turns into a shoot em up. [...]

Kickle Cubicle

There’s something quite refreshingly odd about it as well. The opening world is named ‘vegetable land,’ yet apart from veg circling you in celebration at the end of a stage there isn’t a sight of produce anywhere else. Plus, a tomato is spotted in one level – rookie error Irem. The boss fights and the cutscenes are also a sickening broth of the saccharine and cutesy, but they are certainly endearing. Although how Kickle manages to jump from cloud to cloud in one cutscene, yet can’t jump over a small river in game is beyond me. [...]

Gradius 2

The game is just as enjoyable from beginning to end. If you have the guts to play through it and come back again for another run, you have been warned. As I mentioned before, the game is difficult and will only get more difficult as you go further in the game but it’s so satisfying to come back to. [...]

Ghosts’n Goblins

It is not all doom and gloom if you know some tricks to beat this game. The developers at Capcom weren’t going to be totally cruel to us poor arcade gamers. They left us a few surprises (easter eggs) along the way to help Sir Arthur get further into the game. What were these tricks you ask ? Well, we won’t give away all of them, but one good one can be found on the third cave level. [...]

Bloody Wolf

Bloody Wolf is a pretty standard run and gun in the vein of Ikari Warriors, Merc and Heavy Barrel. Developed by Data East in 1988 this arcade game featured Snake and eagle, two commandos against an army of bad guys, but luckily for you, you had a ton of weapons at your disposal. [...]

Little Samson

The NES was already past its prime but developers knew every trick there had to be for the console. Programming a beautiful game was no problem due to the experience developers had. In other words, since this game came out in 1992 and was developed by a brilliant team, it means the graphics are awesome! Each character looks as exquisite as the other. The backgrounds are live and vivid and the enemies are just as lively as everything else on the game! Well done! [...]

Knife Edge

You play as a fighter pilot, and view things from a first person perspective. Basically you move your crosshair with the analogue stick and fire away at baddies. That’s it. All the main handling is done for you. It’s a generally sluggish and un-involving affair, with only the boss battles the moments graced with any gravitas. [...]

Flintstones: The Rescue of Dino & Hoppy

Flintstones: The Rescue Of Dino & Hoppy looks pretty, sharp, and pretty sharp. The animated sprites are drawn well, the enemy designs are competent, and the levels vary widely in their appearance. Even the signature style from the show is used for Fred’s walk animation, with his exaggerated leg movements. The way Fred can creep along while holding B for a club strike is enjoyable. Yet among the strengths are a couple noticeable flaws: Primarily, the one-color backgrounds in some bits, startling when jumping across a broad chasm; and, in the game’s ambition, there are some minor flickering issues when dealing with the larger foe creatures. [...]

The Button Affair

The Button Affair is the story of Enzo Gabriel. His quest. To steal the priceless Button Jewel from the infinitely wealthy business tycoon Victor Meirelles. Yes, that definitely does sounds like something taken straight from a ’70s action movie and is perfectly complemented by the game’s beautifully stylized visuals that can’t help but remind me of the elegant aesthetics of Another World. Just have a look at this trailer and you’ll see for yourself dearest reader: [...]

Insector X

The freedom of flight would be useless without something a bit more aggressive to back it up with though, as a single hit from one of the spindly critters is enough to put him down. To this end, Yanmer is also equipped with the standard weedy gun which initially fires a single small shot. It can be powered-up fairly quickly by collecting ‘P’ icons though, while the similar ‘S’ icons put a bit more wind in his wings, the ‘A’ icon equips an autofire option, Lightning icons are smart bombs, there are acorns to collect for bonus points, and there’s also the odd 1up to look out for. [...]

8 Eyes

The gameplay is as tough as you’ll find. I guess you can’t say it’s Battletoads tough but more like a very tough side scroller that you don’t want to play again. The game has decent controls but the monsters come from all places! You can’t find yourself in a good position at most of the times. Your bird doesn’t help much, you are at a loss!! HELPPP!!! [...]

Mappy-Land

Sometimes the trampolines are a bit touchy, and the third-level vines especially so. In fact, this entire game has a very distinct feel to its controls that takes some getting used to. Once you get used to it, you will find yourself smoothly traveling between the floors, using the trampolines, setting the in-level traps, grabbing the items, and traversing along as you conquer level after level, until the welcome reprieve in the castle side-level (like the church or haunted house on level six) of level eight when you race to try and gather the items in time for Mappy’s family member’s birthday party, etc. This is among the most obviously arcade-inspired of the NES games. [...]

Victory Run

Racing fans always wanted to get their hands on a game that allowed them to challenge themselves on real life racing tracks. As games began to come out featuring them, fans wanted more and more. Enter, Victory Run for the Turbo Grafx-16. It was released in 1989 by Hudson Soft and was one of the first racing games to depict the Paris-Dakar Rally [...]

Crash Dive

You play as the white ship (see pic) that is always fixed on the left hand side of the screen. Enemies such as fish, battleships and lizards all come at you, and it’s your duty to blast them away. That’s your lot. Added intrigue does comes about however, with how the screen is unevenly split between air, sea and underground. Your craft can dive underwater (which involves a cute – for the Atari – splash effect) and burrow underground, but for all extents and purposes the ship’s handling remains the same. [...]