#675 - Road Riot 4WD
Hmm, what even is this game? Dune buggies with machine guns? Random taxi cabs trying to wreck you? Graphics worse than an 8-bit title like Rad Racer
? Rick James and Elvis? Oh THQ, if only the actual gameplay was as cool/stupid as this premise had potential for. Instead the game looks and plays like the most generic racer in all the land.
First off, the graphics are just awful. Really awful. The background landscapes and track itself must be the worst on the system. Tone down the colors a bit and it could pass for an NES game. The framerate is equally terrible and barely better than what was present in Race Drivin'
. Then on top of that you're limited to a tiny viewpoint with a massive HUD, even in single player. Why do these games do that? To alleviate a horrible framerate? Hide the terrible graphics? Well the developers should program their shit better in the first place. A teeny-tiny view is not the solution.
And why do the vehicles look like go karts? And what is going on when I'm turning-
What am I looking at? Am I about to crash? Is the dune buggy shape-shifting? Falling apart? Who knows.
What absolutely kills the game though, is the horrible car hitboxes and the opponent AI. The other racers love to bunch up and crowd an already pretty narrow raceway and getting past the mob without slamming into something and losing control is nearly impossible. So what do you do? Thin the herd with a constant stream of gunfire (ABS, always be shooting). This will send everyone spilling in every direction and let you scoot past. Of course the endless obstacles and jumps means you'll crash soon enough and let them catch back up. Or the extreme rubber-band syndrome will. Either way, this is one of those racers where you and your opponents spend every race clumped together, trying to jockey for position. Performance doesn't matter, you just need to make sure you send them crashing near the race's end and you'll win every time.
The game is pretty easy though. After suffering through a dozen one minute long races (MC'd by Elvis, James, and various other ethnic/cultural stereotypes) the game ends. There's no time trials or battle mode or anything so the entire game offers just about 20 minutes worth of content. It's about 15 minutes too much.
Did I beat it?
Yes, I got first in every race.
#674 - Foreman For Real
Take almost everything I said up above about TKO Boxing, and apply it here. I just do not understand how to play these stupid games! Not to spoil it or anything but every boxing game that isn't Super Punch-Out! has pretty good odds of landing in the bottom 100.
This is actually the second of two George Foreman titles that Acclaim put out on the system. I don't know why; wasn't he already like 50 years old by the time this came out? Maybe that was the gimmick/appeal. That he was as old as shit. Well, despite playing almost nothing alike, I hate both of his games almost equally.
I give this one the lower ranking because it actually gets your hopes up when you first boot it up. It has various game modes and options, decent looking production values, graphics and animations that are alright (though kind of creepy looking), and the promise of a career mode that lets you work your way up the rankings. I was excited to play it! Well that obviously didn't last because here we are.
The gameplay is just so lousy. Unlike the rest of the boxing games on the console it tries to be closer to a true simulation than an arcade title , but the results are pretty much exactly the same; baffling mechanics, boring fights, and tons of frustration. Why do some punches land and other go right through your opponent? Why do half of my inputs get swallowed up? Why do I lose every round despite landing twice as many punches with a better success rate? What are the stars below my health bar? How the fuck do you actually knock someone down? I read the FAQ for the game and still got nowhere on any of these.
In fact I tried on three separate instances to play and understand this game. And I gave up every time. It's just too frustrating and too unpleasant. I'm sure these games are completely intuitive to some people, but they are beyond me.
Did I beat it?
No, I suck at most boxing games.
#673 - NCAA Final Four Basketball
Usually when I pop in sports titles (low expectations often in tow) it's to get a quick feel for the game and see if it is A) playable or B) beatable. If it satisfies either of those requirements I may stick with it for the night so I can get the complete experience and "check it off the list" as it were. Well let's just say I played this for an entire night once because it was very much an option B title.
The gameplay is bad. Not Barkley Shut Up and Jam or Jammit-levels of frustrating and bad, but "early SNES basketball game that came out before NBA Live 95" bad. I cannot stress enough just how archaic the design of seemingly every basketball title was before that landmark gem came out and revolutionized how to put one of these together. It's always the same faults too; plodding pace, inability to generate an offensive (without resorting to exploits), and unexciting gameplay.
Offensive strategy once again means trying to muscle your way to the basket and then praying for it to go in. In this case it means getting directly under the basket if possible. I'm guessing whatever formula is used to calculate your accuracy solely uses distance to the hoop as opposed to timing, presence of defenders, specific player abilities, etc. So just force your way into the paint every possession, there's no reason to ever try any sort of ranged shot.
Playing defense is about the same. Sit under the basket, trying to get in the way of anyone driving the lane, and then hope they miss and you get the rebound.
The graphics are on about the same level as the gameplay. The character sprites themselves are actually rather decent, and animate rather well. But everything feels zoomed out and devoid of detail, like you're playing the game from the nosebleed seats. And those animations that look pretty good, also significantly hamper the gameplay since you have to wait for them to play out before you can input another action. It makes everything feel super unresponsive.
And of course as the cover art indicates there are no player or school licenses, as usual. But there is a license for the tournament itself... ? For whatever that's worth.
Did I beat it?
Yes, with Kentucky. In the championship game (against Arizona or Arkansas?) I nearly blew a double digit lead in the final minutes. In fact they missed a shot as time expired that would have given them the win. At that point I probably would have either broke down crying, or smashed the cart. Either way I'm never playing this again.
#672 - Barbie Super Model
Does this seem surprisingly high on the list? It's a Barbie game, it's 10 minutes long, the gameplay is horrid, the controls stiff, and again, it's a Barbie game. What self-respecting person puts this above anything not named Pit Fighter? Well the truth is I'd rather have to play this again before something as mind-numbingly boring as NFL Football, or as headache inducing as Captain America. So I guess it's this high by default. In other words you could say everything going forward is less of an assault on your sensibilities than a Barbie game meant for young girls and that everything that has come before is more painful to play than this game is emasculating and shameful.
You start each "level" by walking/biking/driving across town while avoiding various frisbees, snowballs, or wild animals that are trying to murder you and your dreams of becoming a super model. If you survive the journey you will be subjected to a mini-game where you have to dress up Barbie, or stylize her hair and makeup, or something else along those lines. If you succeed at that you then get to bike/walk/drive back across the same town. These crappy games sure love to come up with sleazy ways to add game length without actually adding content. Anyway, if you make it back to the starting point you'll finish up the level with a catwalk mini-game where you need to make her twirl or prance Simon Says-style to a sequence you witnessed at the level's halfway point.
You do that for 4-5 levels and then the game ends. There might be some sort of big fashion show mini-game at end or something, but I forget. Like I said, 10 minute long game.
So obviously the game is horrible from the eyes of an adult. But how do I rate a game based on a toy for female children, in a more progressive era where girls have higher aspirations than being a vapid Malibu ditz, through the eyes of an 8 year old girl? I can't, so I won't try.
I also cannot for the life of me recall how I purchased this game. It was possibly at Hastings, which would mean a grown man was willing to stand in line and get checked out buying a Barbie game to save a few dollars, or I choose to pay more and get it on eBay and salvaged some dignity. I hope it was the latter.
Did I beat it?
Yes, and it actually took a number of tries. Damn seagulls gunning for Barbie's face.
#671 - Rise of the Robots
Yet another fighter, another genre that is quickly crowding up the bottom 100. You've probably heard of Rise of the Robots, or at least know it by reputation as one of the worst games on the system. And I'm not exactly sure why that is. It's a shitty game, but in a pretty generic, forgettable sort of way. It isn't completely broken like Pit Fighter, or laughably stupid like Shaq Fu or Ballz. It just sort of exists in the middle of the crappy Acclaim library.
Now don't get me wrong, it is a shitty game. The gameplay mechanics are stupid and busted, and turn every match into a button masher. Since every character just has a variety of melee attacks they all play alike, which means you'll spend the entire match rubbing up against each other trying to bash their face with your claws or hooks or whatever. The character sprites are also huge and move at a crawl, and give the game the sensation that you're fighting underwater or something. Trying to play with any sort of finesse is impossible. Your best bet is to play defensively and try to cheese your opponent when they get near you. That's not fun, in single or multiplayer, but it's the only real way to play the game.
And despite being a late release, RotR is similar to the earliest fighters on the system in that it always locks player one into selecting the "hero" character. I could maybe understand that in single player, since the game wants to tell a story about taking down the evil robots or whatever, but what is the point of this in versus? Were the developers too lazy to code a character select for player one, or did they just run out of time? Perhaps the game engine couldn't handle two large hulking robots on the screen at once, or perhaps they didn't have time to debug it? Who knows, but it's pretty pathetic for a late release like this.
Did I beat it?
Yes, after I discovered a couple holes in the opponent's AI.
#669 - Mario's Early Years: Fun with Numbers
#668 - Mario's Early Years: Fun with Letters
#667 - Mario's Early Years: Preschool Fun
All three Mario learning games are basically the same thing so the order is interchangeable. I'll be doing this same setup for other series of games that are not markedly different from one another.
Just like Thomas the Tank Engine, the name of the game here is working through a set of mini-games that will educate you in shapes, colors, numbers, the alphabet, and so forth. You'll choose the correct shape/number/letter a dozen times, get a Luigi cheer or Yoshi growl (?) of approval, and then move on to the next set of games. Rinse and repeat, until you've done everything. It's very boring for an adult, and probably most children.
I would say there at least seems to be more content than there was in TtTE, but if I was to try and introduce my children to a learning video game (and had to do it with a SNES), I'd probably stick with Math Blaster Episode 1 instead. It's geared towards older children, but it adds some excitement and challenge to the process, while still trying to teach. It will also appear much higher in the rankings for that reason.
Anyway, when my children are a bit older perhaps I will do a trial run of these games with them and see which ones they enjoy the most. That seems to be the only real way to gauge their worth.
Did I beat Fun with Numbers?
Yes, I cleared each minigame.
Did I beat Fun with Letters?
I cleared each minigame.
Did I beat Preschool Fun?
I cleared each minigame.
#666 - Toys
Some of the movies that got licensed video games back in the day really seem out of left field. I can kind of understand The Lawnmower Man because the movie featured some really terrible CGI scenes set in a virtual reality game, and someone thought "yeah, we could add that to a Contra clone." But Warlock? Beethoven? Wayne's World? Uh, ok.
Toys has to be the biggest head scratcher though. A forgotten (and lambasted) Barry Levinson passion piece, that came off his run of success with Bugsy, Rain Main, Good Morning Vietnam, and Avalon. Remember all the video games based on those? Well since the Toys film did feature tiny toy jets blowing up some enemy aircraft (don't ask) some Sony exec must have thought "If there is anything kids love more than Barry Levinson, it's toys and video games!"
Anyway, the game itself is an isometric actiony thing, with bad controls, frustrating combat, and thoroughly unsatisfying gameplay. I've tried and failed to beat the first level a number of times despite my best efforts too. You take so many cheap hits that at some point your will to keep trying is sapped. Perhaps I just don't know how to play it correctly, or I haven't found out a good exploit for the enemies [it's not that hard, you just suck - editor]. Or perhaps there is a better way to make my stupid bowling balls hit those toy tanks, but it's beyond me.
At the urging of my editor I tried to play this again. I failed to beat the first level. Again. I conclude that the game sucks and is nearly unplayable.
Though I guess I could at least try to explain the gameplay a little more. It sort of plays out like a game in the Strike series. Except instead of a Apache/Comanche helicopter raining down hellfire missiles, you're Robin Williams, attacking RC cars with... mechanical ducks. And tops...? Yeah I think the problem with this game is the weapons, they're all really annoying to actually use:
Bubble gun thing (?) - default weapon, horrible and impotent, like you're trying to use a water pistol with no pressure
Bowling balls - roll in a straight line in whatever direction you're facing
Ducks - wander around aimlessly?
Tops - spin around randomly?
After you run out of ducks and tops because they refuse to hit anything you can try to use your bowling balls or water gun to kill the tiny tanks guarding each objective. And they will smoke your ass.
Screw this game, play the Strike series or Mechwarrior 3050 instead
Did I beat it?
I have yet to beat the first level. I think. It's been awhile.
#665 - Street Combat
In case you can't tell (you can't) this is an Americanized port of one of the Ranma 1/2
games. I guess this was back before they thought anything steeped in Japanese culture would sell here, so they re-painted it with the most generic early '90s motif they could come up with. That little factoid is probably also the most interesting part of this game, because otherwise it's as plain and unmemorable as they get. It's a stupid-looking Street Fighter II
clone that sounds stupid, plays stupid, and is in general... stupid.
Every part of the how the game looks is very underwhelming. Everything from the menu design to the character art to the character sprites themselves is plain and ugly. Like the lowest possible amount of effort was put into each one of them. Remember all the cool little details in the backgrounds of the SFII levels? Yeah, there's nothing like that here. Anywhere. And again keep in mind that this game came out after
SFII, which makes it all the more pitiful. Doomsday Warrior
at least tried to look interesting, even if it failed.
The gameplay is also about as vanilla as fighters get, do not expect any frills (or thrills) of any sort. And of course every character's moveset is very tiny, as is pretty typical of these early fighters. Besides your standard kicks and punches you'll have a couple unimaginative specials for each character. It's all the same stuff you've seen a million times; a Hadouken
-like ranged attack, flying uppercuts, jumping kick things, etc. They obviously weren't trying very hard here either. And of course they are all a pain in the ass to pull off and super finicky as far as getting any use out of.
Even the protagonist that is forced upon you in the single player mode, Steven (yes really), has to be one of the lamest on the platform. They somehow maxed out his '90s tude, yet made him boring and generic at the same time...
I'd almost rather play soulless shit like Rise of the Robots
than this loser of a game.
Did I beat it?
Yes, which means I found an exploit and button pressed the hell out of it.
#664 - ESPN Sunday Night NFL
I'm getting tired of writing about terrible football games. I'm tempted to just tell you guys to re-read the games I already covered and assume that everything I previously said applies here. But I'll resist that overwhelming urge to be lazy and do my best.
First, the menu is put together in a pretty poor manner. It's funny how many sports titles couldn't figure out how to do this. For example, player 1 at home? Computer away? How about you just put the home team on the right/bottom like EVERY SPORT OR SPORTS GAME ON THE PLANET? If it's not broke, don't fix it. And why do I have to scroll through every team, one division at a time to find my team. Just do what every other game has done!
That's a minor issue compared to the graphics though. Of course they look and animate like shit, with a shit framerate. Typical stuff at this point. In fact, I seriously think the players have maybe 2 frames of animation. And everything just looks washed out and... I dunno, blurry? Blame that on terrible sprite art design I guess. It's not quite Pro Quarterback or Emmitt Smith Football levels of fugly, but it's bad. For whatever reason that is a trend with this ESPN line that Sony crapped out, but we'll get to that later.
What kills the game most of all though is how horrifically slow everything is. Like NFL Football anything you do takes foooooorever. Wait for the play to end. Wait for the play selection to come up. Wait for the game to let you select your formation. Wait for it to let you select your play. Wait for the team to line up. Wait for everyone to be set. Wait for it to actually let you snap the ball. You cannot take what is already a slow-paced sport, and be inefficient with these things, or it will really sap your will to stick with the game. Don't get me wrong, I realize real football is just about the most drawn out sport this side of baseball or auto racing (a 3.5 hour game has about 11 minutes of actual play in it, look it up), but that doesn't mean the video game has to mimic that. Just let me select a play and hike the ball already.
Speaking of play selection though, the playbook menu has to be the worst I've ever experienced. Bar none. And that includes MVP Football which doesn't even give you enough time to actually select something most of the time. It's amazing that someone could one-up that.
See the issue is that not only do you have to press buttons that correspond with a row and column in the correct order (you will botch this repeatedly), but it eats the hell out of your inputs. How damn hard is it to get a game to register hits from a menu? You'll press the buttons six times to get the play in. Add in the time spent mentally reminding yourself of the button sequence and it becomes comical. And slows down a mind numbingly slow game even more.
The defense also can only see three plays at a time while the offense gets nine. What the hell is that about? Designing the play call screen is not rocket science. See what the original John Madden Football did? Just fucking do that, game.
Running game - impossible
Passing game - overpowered
Playing defense - defending the pass is a crapshoot. Just pray they run it a couple times and then overthrow a wide open receiver
Did I beat it?
No, and I have tried quite a bit to do it too.
#663 - The Great Waldo Search
I'd assume everyone of a certain age knows Where's Waldo? (or Where's Wally? for the Brits). For you younger readers (assuming I actually have one); it was a series of books came out in the late '80s and featured impressively large and detailed scenes from various eras and genres with hundreds of characters doing all number of absurd things. Hidden within would be a goof named Waldo wearing candy cane stripes that you had to locate.
It was a bit of a cultural phenomenon at the time, spawning a number of books, a television series, and several video games, including this entry on SNES. And it has to be just about the most harmless title on the system. Even more so than the preschool games. The entire game consists of a few scenes taken from one of the books, albeit on a much reduced scale, and has you hunt for Waldo, some smalls scrolls, and a wizard guy. And then the game is over. The whole thing is 5 minutes long, tops.
So, why would anyone play this? You could buy one of the books for a fraction of the price, be able to take it on the go, and get 50 times the content. Plus, since it was a British product it had some playful violence and a stray boob or two that somehow slipped past Tipper Gore and the other moralists. It goes without saying that the Nintendo-approved game has none of that.
Well, the answer is no-one in their right mind would. The game is completely pointless and I imagine anyone who paid full price for this felt rather cheated. Even the small children receiving it probably felt cheated. Hell I felt cheated because I actually expected a fully finished product that would occupy me for at least an hour, and I'm usually impatient as hell to get these games over and done with.
Impressive portfolio already for THQ, eh?
Oh, there's also a magic carpet mini-game apparently, judging by the pic. But it must have been unmemorable enough that I have completely forgotten about it. Knowing this game it was probably 10 seconds long.
Did I beat it?
Yes, in a matter of minutes.
#662 - Capcom's Soccer Shoot-out
Man, what was Capcom doing in the sports world? One of, if not the strongest publishers on the system, their limited sports output (MVP Football and this) is just godawful. Did they publish dreck trying to get their foot in the door in an arena they were completely unfamiliar with? Did they look at all the horrible sports games littering the SNES scene and figure we would buy up anything that had a ball in it? The mind boggles.
At first glance Soccer Shootout looks like a quality title. First off it's Capcom, which means the production value are high, and everything has a nice layer of polish. The graphics are sharp and the opening cinematic is impressive and even shows off banners for Final Fight and Mega Man, building your anticipation by making you remember other games that were actually good. Even the menus promise a number of features and options for play, laid out in a straightforward manner. Everything is gravy. That is, until the game actually starts...
The biggest problem is that this is an example of a game you don't play. By that I mean you're a bystander, helpless as the action unfolds onscreen. Seriously, it's impossible to actually accomplish anything here. The computer is on you like a glove from the start and never lets up. The only thing you can try to do is furiously pass the ball like a game of keep-away. But even that is a massive struggle thanks to the bizarre control scheme. You have one pass button that seems to try and get it to your nearest teammate and you have another that sends the ball in a fixed direction. You don't want either of these things, you just want a normal damn pass like every other soccer game ever made. Getting the ball away from the CPU is also a huge problem because they don't seem to have any of these issues. Instead they'll drop long-range passes on a dime for perfect shot setups. And even when they dribble across the field the AI is tuned to perfectly try and counter all your attempts at making desperation slides to knock the ball loose. So 90% of the game is spent futilely chasing the PC, and the other 10% is trying to muster any sort of offense.
Hell, I don't think I've once had a throw in or free kick go anywhere other than straight to the PC. That's often a problem for me in soccer titles, but it's especially pronounced here.
Perhaps the default difficulty is just too punishing? Assuming it can even be toggled. Well I don't know, and I don't care. I hate this game and I'm not going back to play for a third time.
Did I beat it?
This game is impossible to beat.
#661 - Nickelodeon Guts
Mini-game fest based on the old '90s Nick show where kids would do vaguely athletic things while covered in safety gear. I cannot recall specifics, just that damn smoking mountain they had to climb at the end. I guess I preferred the playground-oriented Wild & Crazy Kids, but Guts seems to have gathered some fans who remember it fondly.
The video game on the other hand is making me nauseous just thinking about it. Perhaps a sign I should have had it ranked lower. And of course it has all of the usual demerits at this point in the list; terrible controls, terrible graphics, confusing as shit gameplay, complete absence of fun, and mountains of frustration. Let's take a look at each one of the piles of excrement they tried to pass off as an event:
Basketball - Three different events here that all play the same; a mix of bungee jumping, the long jump, and basketball. The controls are awkward, the perspective shit, and it looks like garbage. And good luck figuring out how to master it. Your kid stands on a ledge while rigged to some sort of bungee cord harness. The idea is to jump down, bounce off the floor, and then throw a ball into a hoop or goal. If you do it with pizazz you get credit for a "special". And even after watching and reading guides, and trying it over and over again I have no idea how to play it. Sometimes you make dunks, sometimes you flop around like a fish. My best bet was using trial-and-error to figure out when it wants me to release my shot, and then just hammering every button on the controller. This was the best strategy I could come up with for making specials. Though whether or not your shot actually goes in still seems to be pretty luck based. A horrible experience all-around.
Obstacle courses - Think Prince of Persia controls and obstacle courses, on a time limit. Your pre-teen also has two jumps; a normal one, and a high flying acrobatic front flip which is hilarious to watch. Who knew these kids were also Olympic gymnasts? These segments are pretty miserable too, but highly forgiving. You can easily get through them in half the allotted time once you know what jump to use where.
Aggro Craig - A slight variation on the obstacle course. This time you have to step on pressure plates and avoid large plastic boulders. Once you master the stiff controls this segment is also a breeze.
So why isn't Guts ranked lower? The review was pretty glowing right? Well there's just too damn many horrible games on the platform crowding all the lowest spots I guess.
Did I beat it?
Yes, I conquered the Craig and earned the world's ugliest trophy.
#660 - Super Caesar's Palace
Why would anyone play this? Aren't video games meant to test our dexterity and wits, or let us experience epic and thrilling stories? Instead what we have here is a collection of games of chance, the allure of which escapes me. And even the card games are meant to be played with friends or competitors around a real table. What do you get out of playing an AI one on one?
Besides the rhetorical "why does this game even exist?" problem, is the execution of the game itself. It sucks. There's no save functionality, so you have to rely on long passwords with a cumbersome entry system just to recover your money. How hard is it to implement a small password when the only thing you need to save is a single integer? This wouldn't be as much of a problem if just getting any sort of pool of money to work with in the first place didn't take 2 or 3 (or 10) false starts. I'm sure most people will shut the game off at this point
The single casino is also pretty barebones. You have a small casino floor to wander around with a scattering of tables and a few random NPCs (that do nothing), and a high rollers area you can eventually unlock. That's it. That's the whole game. You also have to sit down at each table just to figure out the minimum and maximum bets. They couldn't have a frame pop up and tell you that information when you walk up to the table? Even the horse racing just reads results off to you, you don't get to watch a fake race or anything. There's no excitement to the game of any sort.
If you have to play a game like this on SNES... don't. Play a real game instead. Or host a poker night with friends. But if you insist, play Vegas Stakes.
Did I beat it?
No, I got somewhere past $1,000,000 before giving up.
#659 - Best of the Best Championship Karate
This is a strange one. Yet another port/remake of some old Amiga title, Best of the Best Championship Karate can only be described as a (very) early fighter mixed with the rotoscope animation and very methodical control of a title like Prince of Persia. And it is not a good fit...
The game seems pretty deep, or at least successfully gives that impression at first glance. You can customize your fighter with a huge number of different strikes and kicks, each of which appears to have a very specific purpose for where it hits, and how far its range is. So presumably you can map a combination of them that gives you the flexible to hit your opponent through his defenses at any time.
Interesting idea. Poor execution. And poorly-aged gameplay. By the time you actually execute any of the attacks your opponent could have moved in any direction. And since they have such an extended animation, it seems like pure chance on whether or not it will hit anything. Furthermore, each one of them seems to require pretty exact placement to actually land, as even strikes that look like they're right on the money will often pass through your opponent. For me this usually means escalating frustration, and a rapid descent into button mashing, and just hoping anything sticks.
Now if someone had the fortitude to stick with this, perhaps they will discover a deep fighter that plays much truer to a simulation than any other title on the system. I on the other hand, will pass.
Did I beat it?
No, I don't have the patience for this game.
#658 - Dragon's Lair
The classic Don Bluth pseudo-video-game comes to SNES! Er, sort of. This is not an arcade port, and unlike Space Ace, it is also not a re-imagining of the arcade game, but instead is just some dumb platformer. It's a pretty even trade-off.
Now if you are at all familiar with the NES version of Dragon's Lair (made famous by, again, AVGN), you're thinking of a very slow-paced methodical game that you inch through, bit by bit, via memorization. Well, the SNES game has nothing to do with that version either. Instead it's just one of those games where you're hopping around platforms, attacking enemies and grabbing floating doo-dads. As far as I'm concerned it has nothing to do with Dragon's Lair franchise whatsoever, other than the "Dirk the Daring" character, and presumably some other shared enemy and environmental designs.
The controls are extremely loose too. Whenever you try to come to a stop Dirk continues on through several frames of animation, like you're permanently on ice. It's actually one of the worst cases of this I can remember as you will stop what is easily a full body-length further than from where you intended. Hell, Rollergames on NES had you play the entire game on roller skates and I still felt more in control there than I do here.
The platforming and enemy designs are pretty by the book, and I'm honestly having trouble coming up with anything to write. You'll jump across platforms, hit various monsters with a sword, and take lots of cheap hits. It's incredibly boring.
Now the one interesting thing about the game is that it is somewhat non-linear. Many of the levels will have multiple exits, some of which actually move you backwards on the overworld map. I'm not sure if you're supposed to do that, perhaps to access previously locked areas or something, or if it's more of a gimmick to either reference the original arcade game or to add a puzzle element to the game. Either way, it's kind of frustrating, but not too bad since the levels are fairly short.
Are there any positives to the game? Well, it's not Space Ace. Even a stupid generic platformer is better than a botched re-make of the arcade title, as that game proved. The soundtrack is also actually pretty okay-ish. Or I should say it is light years ahead of what the rest of the entries have offered thus far and doesn't have me immediately muting the game. Beyond that though, no. It's bad platformer, with terrible controls. I guess try it out if you're a fan of the original and are curious, otherwise don't bother.
Did I beat it?
No, I put in a number of tries, but never got too serious about it.
#656 - International Tennis Tour
The first entry from powerhouse third party publisher Taito. And like Capcom I guess just because you know how to do a platformer or or action game doesn't necessarily mean you know shit about making a sports title. This is the worst tennis game on the system, or at least the least enjoyable one to rubes like me.
What kills this game more than anything else is the perspective. It's set low and over-the-shoulder which means you cannot judge depth whatsoever. I mean just look at how tiny the back of the court looks in the pics. This isn't an especially uncommon thing in tennis games, but for whatever reason seem especially pronounced here.
Now, I don't profess to be very good at tennis games. Perhaps I just don't know the nuances of strategy enough to know what I should be doing (I only play table tennis). Regardless of the game I will usually get my ass kicked by the AI. With ITT that is always the case. I have yet to win a match. A single one. The computer is just too good at returning shots and working you horizontally until you cannot catch up. And the game just loves to let the AI put shots into the top of the net, which will dribble over for an unreturnable point. This happens alarmingly often. Coupled with the awkward view that makes timing your shots extremely difficult, and it adds up to an ass kicking. Don't even get me started on trying to play from the back part of the court, when I'm over there I may as well just set the controller down and save myself the effort.
Actually, another thing that really makes the game harder than it needs to be is the hit detection. Specifically between the racket and the ball [what else would you be talking about in a tennis game? - editor]. There is absolutely no room for error here.
So between the merciless AI, the terrible viewing angle, and the difficulty in actually putting string on ball, is a game that is just too hard for its own good, and too hard to be fun.
Now there is an easy mode for cupcakes like me who cannot cut it against the AI. But this actually removes control over your player entirely! You only get to control the swing of the racket; your player will do his own movement and aiming. I'm not sure who would want to play this because it's practically the same as watching a demo from the title screen.
Did I beat it?
No, this is one of the hardest games on the system to complete.
#655 - Battle Cars
Okay, fuck Space Football, fuck Taz-Mania, and most of all, fuck Battle Cars. These three games represent the trifecta of frustrating gameplay that gets my blood boiling and my controllers flying. BC might actually be the most infuriating of the lot (I keep saying that), but it also has the most upside to it. Hence the best ranking. It's still a horrible, evil game, but I guess everything is relative.
The best way to describe everything here is a mixture of F-Zero and Super Mario Kart. But sans all the good stuff and challenging but fair gameplay. It has the twisty futuristic raceways with bouncy edges from the former, with the weapons and rubber band syndrome of the former. And the cheating ass AI from every racer that has a cheating ass AI.
The weapon system is absolutely horrid. You have unlimited missiles, discs, and grenades that you can fire, all of which you can toggle through at any time. And all of them feel more or less useless in one way or another. They each have 5 levels of strength that you can work towards, but it never really seems to make them feel more powerful or useful.
Missiles - will automatically lock onto an opponent. Think red shells. Except there doesn't appear to be any way of controlling which car it attacks. And they will often overshoot their target and get confused. Or just disappear off into the ether. When this happens expect 10-15 seconds of waiting for it to show back up. In the meantime, your weapon systems are locked out and unable to be fired again. This will single-handedly ruin your later races.
Discs - act like hockey pucks, bouncing all over the track until they find an opponent. Think green shells. Since the game is very generous with the enemy hitboxes they're actually decently useful. At least at first. By the later tracks your opponents are too fast and will outrun them.
Grenades - look like old-timey naval mines. Think explosive banana peels. I'm unsure why you would ever willingly use a banana peel over a red shell. These appear to be completely useless. Moving on.
The layout of the game itself is as follows:
- Lap around the course where you try to earn cash
- Car upgrades
- 1v1 race
- Collect credits, move to next planet
I like what they tried to do here. Doing laps to determine a starting position is a tired idea, and not something I relish having to do. Instead, here you're just trying to blow anything and everything up. Too bad it doesn't actually work in practice though...
To destroy an enemy vehicle you're going to need to hit it with 2-3 attacks before it is finished off. Each hit will also bring that vehicle to a dead halt. So in order to deliver the coup de grace you're gonna need to park behind them and wait for each hit to be delivered. But you're on a timer, and if you do not complete your lap fast enough UFOs will swoop down and start hammering you until you're dead. So you have to be speedy. In fact, after the first few races you pretty much have to gun it the entire time in order to make it to the finish line before they kill you. So you don't actually kill anything most of the time, so earning money becomes a problem. A big one by the game's end.
After your practice lap with the UFOS you'll enter the race proper, which is a one-on-one affair against various alien opponents. Though they have different vehicles and biographies none of them play any differently from one another. Other than they gradually get more and more overpowered and annoying. Eventually every race goes the same way:
- Keep peppering your opponent with missiles just to keep him in the same ballpark as your own car. If he gets behind you, hope you can trick him into repeatedly ramming you so he gets stuck behind you
- Pinball off the wall on every turn because they're usually 90 degrees and the driving engine is so clumsy that you're better off never touching the brakes
- By the end of the second lap just hope that you haven't died from hitting walls, and then pray that a missile hits your opponent just before the finish line so you can pass him up at the last second. This gradually becomes a smaller and smaller window until the final track where you basically have a 1% chance of pulling this off.
After the race you earn "credits" which are used to upgrade your weapons and are different from cash. Now why didn't they just put everything under one umbrella, and give the player the choice for how to earn money and what to spend it on? Because the developers are idiots.
The game also glitched out on me a number of times. At one point I escaped the track and drove around for awhile in an ocean of orange. Since this was basically a soft lock I got to reset the game and start over. Though to be fair to the game, when I opened up the cart it appeared that the board had tried to commit suicide or something (not that I blame it) so perhaps that was the cause. Either way, I'm calling it a demerit.
The soundtrack is about the only bright spot to the game. Most of the tracks are pretty decent and fit the game nicely. Hell, I even listened to the soundtrack at work once. Call it a C+ or B-
Did I beat it?
Yes. Only because the game has unlimited continues so you can bash your head against the wall until you happen to win through sheer luck.
#654 - Tony Meola's Sidekicks Soccer aka Super Copa
My third least-favorite "footie" game on the console. No, I take that back. It's soccer. I don't care what you what you want us Americans to call it. And this one sucks, mostly by making me sick trying to play it.
The menus are... different. The reason I used two of them in the gallery was to really illustrate that; I have no idea what most of them mean. Some of them actually are relatively straightforward, like I can safely assume the cheetah and turtles are play speed. And the picture of brackets must be a tournament. But what the hell is the hourglass? Minutes per half? Game? What are the calf muscles telling me? What does the yellow card do? Rest assured there are even more confusing icons than those too. If you play on playing this game you'll probably want to buy or download a manual. Not that you should plan on playing it.
After you figure out (or fumble through) the menus, you'll immediately notice what is most wrong with this game. During play the game tries to track your player's perspective by fixing the camera behind him, similar to the Mode 7 titles Nintendo put out (NCAA Basketball and NHL Stanley Cup). The problem here is the movement is so herky jerky and robotic that the stuttering camera position changes quickly give me a headache. I have never been motion sick from playing a video game in my life. Descent didn't do it, Jim Power didn't do it. Not even virtual reality has done it. Well this game toes the line, I had to take a break after each match to shake it off. Congrats on that amazing accomplishment Tony Meola.
The AI is also extremely annoying because 90% of the time it's going to dribble up the field through a series of sickness-inducing right angle turns. Trying to steal the ball means trying to line up with him (which is hard because the loose controls mean you'll constantly overshoot him), and then trying to ram into him until the ball gets kicked loose. You'll do this about 500 times a match, and that is a not an exaggeration. There's also a slide kick you can try to use, but that sends you flying 10 yards down the field and way past your opponent if you miss.
Trying to score is also fussy. I have figured out exactly two ways to do it, and neither is fun. The first is to make a beeline for the goal and hope only a couple defenders have managed to set up by the time you get there. Otherwise 10 different players will crowd the goal box and you may as well not try. If you're lucky and only have a few in front of you, enter the box so that the goalie bum-rushes you (is this a thing that actually happens in soccer?). Once he does, pass to the right or left and just pray that an unseen teammate is waiting there, with no defender in the way, and can quickly put it in the net. I can accomplish this roughly once or twice a game, or about 5% of my attempts.
The other option is to try and sail the ball into the center of the goal box and just hope someone is nearby and that they happen to put it in with a header. This happened once. I assume it was just sheer luck and that the stars were aligned.
I also once got scored on from a free kick. The AI let loose and the ball floated softly down into the corner of the net while my goalie watched. So... there's that too.
Now, is any of that how you're supposed to play the game? Is there another point to the high sailing pass that doesn't go to anyone in particular? Is it possible to beat the goalie one on one? Is there a setting that tones down the goalie? I have no idea, and I'm done playing this so I'm not gonna find out.
Did I beat it?
Yes, I won a tournament with Boston.
#653 - The Terminator
This game is just... ^%$@#$. Another title where I have to ask "did anyone play test anything back in the day?" I must have a soft spot for anything that even remotely resembles Contra to put it this high up the list because this could easily be in the neighborhood of Terminator 2 or RoboCop 3. It is equally as bad in almost every way.
The game starts you off in the post-Skynet future as Kyle Reese (or whoever, those sprites could be anyone) gunning down an endless stream of terminators and flying robots. And I mean endless; this is one of those games where the levels go on forever, and there are no checkpoints. And of course you're gonna be taking a shit-ton of cheap hits which means just beating the first level turns into a massive struggle.
If you manage to conquer that first level (most likely through memorization or moving at a crawl) you'll get to experience one of the dreaded Terminator "driving" levels. Every game seems to have these, and they are always just the worst. This one has you crawl into the back of a pick-up and man an anti-aircraft gun as a large craft of some sort strafes you. It's horrible, and avoiding hits is nearly impossible thanks to the lack of room to maneuver, and your massive hit box. Thankfully it only lasts about 45 seconds.
If you beat that driving level you get another level identical to the first, only this one goes on even longer, and has even more cheap hits. And again, this game has no checkpoints. After failing to get through in a few times I threw in the towel. The game probably isn't that hard if you take your time and really try to anticipate every attack (memorize the entire game), but who wants to do that? It's just an unfun slog all around. The controls are decent, and definitely do their job much better than Terminator 2, but if the rest of the gameplay sucks then what is the difference?
I challenge anyone to play this game and Robocop 3 for extended periods of time, back-to-back. If you don't swear off video games forever I will owe you a Coke.
Did I beat it?
No, but at least I can make it further than I did in Terminator 2.
#652 - Capcom's MVP Football
The second, and final Capcom sports title. I don't know if they developed these, or just published them in the US, but whatever the case I just have to ask; what the hell Capcom? You made Mega Man
and Street Fighter II
, you have no business slumming it up in the rankings with the likes of THQ and Mindscape! I guess unlike Soccer Shootout
this one is at least kind of
playable, but it's still ruined by an assortment of bizarre design decisions.
First, the game uses the R button for most actions. Why? It's awkward, and unlike every other
game I've ever played. And if it doesn't sound like a big deal, I challenge you to play it and feel comfortable with it. Especially passing, where X, Y and A will target a receiver, and R will pass it to them. What game has ever required 2+ button presses to pass the ball? It's impossible to get used to, and just adds time to how long your quarterback sits in the pocket. And forgot your 4th or 5th receiver options, because they aren't there.
Did I mention that you'll also need to press those buttons just to see
which player is which receiver? So going through your "reads" might take 5 damn button presses. And then another press to actually pass it. It's a fiasco all around and single-handedly drags the game down.
There is also a severe lack of time on defense to pick your play, and select the player of your choice. It's like you're playing a hurry up offense or something. And the fact that I swear there is a delay in the game registering your formation/play selections just makes it even more likely you don't get the call off in time. So my defensive scheme was basically "memorize the position of one of the plays that sort-of works on occasion, and then pick it as fast as I possibly could."
You also can't move your players on defense before the snap. Why in the hell do games do that? Besides removing the ability to try and jump the snap, I also like to move my linebackers around to adjust my coverage. This takes both of those away. Not that you have time select the player you want on defense anyway, but I digress...
Oh, the game also has to have some of the most obtuse menus I've ever seen in a football game.
Custom? Is that the settings or an exhibition game? What is MVP? What is Demo? I know I've said this a lot in my reviews already, but if it's not broke don't fix it! Just have the usual menu that lets you do a single game, playoff, or full season, with some options.
Passing game - Besides the stupid controls and lack of more than 3 options, it works well enough
Running game - broken, you're gonna average 2 yards per carry. Better get used to the broken passing controls
Defense - You won't get your play call in half the time. Or get to your player. Or be able to move him. Also defending anything is a crapshoot.
Did I beat it?
No, this is one of the few football games whose completion eludes me.
#651 - George Foreman KO Boxing
Another boxing title. Is it unfair of me to throw all of them so far down the list? Do I just misunderstand the genre, and then unjustly malign it? Or are these games just that stupid and poorly made? Because to me every one of these games just appears to be random shit happening. And it doesn't matter how much I play it and try to learn it, whether it's my first fight or I'm four hours in, they all play out the same.
A typical fight in this game (or any of them, really) goes as follows:
- Try to read the opponent and pop him where the defense is soft
- After that punch may or may not hit him, he does the same. This goes on for an eternity.
- Time runs out, the opponent is scored the winner.
Actually I take that back. This game does have one slight difference. Occasionally the opponent will nail my ass with a special move that takes me out in virtually one blow. There's no tell as far as I know, so you just have to memorize when he'll do it and dodge. This also does not appear to leave him open to extended counter attacks either. If you're gonna copy Punch-Out and least do it correctly.
Trying to get off the mat is a mess too. I honestly cannot figure out what buttons it wants me to press, or in what sequence. I think you need to hammer on every button on the control, but who f'ing knows.
Anyway, I'm at least 0-10 on the first fight, and every loss sends you back to the title screen. So I have to judge the game entirely on that fight. Maybe I'm just terrible at this genre, or maybe this game is just poorly made, but I gave up on trying to see any more of it. I think the main problem is that game wants to be Punch-Out, but couldn't recognize/replicate a single part of what made that game work. Instead of learning to recognize patterns and then countering, this just has random series of punch and blocks, followed by the special attack that gives you virtually no time to react. P-O was a puzzle game that gave you hints to the solutions. George Foreman's game just expects you to blindly figure it out. Assuming you even can figure it out.
Did I beat it?
No, it's a boxing game. I can never beat these.