#700 - Emmitt Smith Football
Tired of the football games yet? We're only 15 games into this thing and Emmitt Smith Football is already the third gridiron title to appear (not counting Space Football because it should be called Space Rugby Pinball). And there are still many more to come. It's endless.
I actually consider ESF to be slightly superior to similar dreck like Pro Quarterback because despite also offering the meager gameplay modes of single exhibition game and nothing else, this one kind of actually resembles a football game, even if only superficially. And it runs at 8 frames per second instead of 4. And looks like ass instead of mega ass. That's as close to praise as we can get at this point because everything else is (sub)par for the course.
The graphics are... well just look at those screenshots. Hell, just look at the goalpost graphic for Chrissakes. Pitiful. Considering the game has one character sprite, a field, and a goalpost, they probably had one guy assigned to do it all. And he was terrible at it.
The play selection process tries to be different, but only succeeds in being cumbersome. Before selecting your formation you have to select what I'm guessing is the personnel package you're sending out on the field. "Big" would obviously be your large powerful players, "fast" would be your burners, and "hands" would be your best catchers. But what's the point? Am I gonna rock the hands team from the I-formation? Or my big team from a spread shotgun? Not that I ever noticed any difference from what I picked anyway. So it ends up just being an annoyance and extra step in getting a play call in.
Running game - completely busted, I use the same play every time and average 10+ yards a carry. Defensive ends never play contain.
Passing game - completely busted, the receivers will stop running their routes once you release the ball. What the fuck?
Playing defense - completely busted, just sell out on the run every play
I also lied, there is one more feature to the game besides just the options menu and exhibition games. And that is a create-a-play mode. But with passing and running so inherently busted, what is the point? Plus it's painfully limited, so don't expect to be able to give your receivers triple moves or anything. It's a good idea, but it's poorly executed and it has no value because the attached game is so unplayable.
Of course there are no licenses at all (except Emmitt's ugly face) which is pretty standard for bad sports titles. Not so standard for 1995 though, which is when this game came out. It would be one thing if this came out around launch, but JVC honestly thought this could compete with stuff like Madden 96 and Quarterback Club 96? Maybe they though the allure of a Cowboy on the cover would make it sell? Because Emmitt's teammate Troy Aikman already had a fully licensed game that came out the previous year. So who was this game for? The mind boggles.
Now I think there is a reason why I'm being so hard on football games, and why there has been so little representation from sports like soccer or hockey so far. Part of it is because games like ESF truly are wretched and poorly designed pieces of shit. But part of it is also my understanding of the sport and the expectations I have for these games.
For example, I don't really get soccer. You pass a ball around for awhile, try to dribble down the field and keep it away from the computer. Eventually one of your guys might have a clear shot on the net and so you take a shot. Maybe you score, maybe you don't. Beyond that, I have no idea if things are unfolding as they should. You can swap in this exact same sentiment for hockey, volleyball, tennis, wrestling, curling, Quidditch, boxing, or badminton. If the nuances are wrong in any way I'm not gonna know.
That's not the case with football (and baseball, and basketball to an extent). Here, every player on every play has to be acting in a way that is not only conducive to fun gameplay, but in a way that simulates a football game as well. It is very obvious to me when that is not the case. If pass coverage doesn't cover passes, run stopping doesn't stop the run, blitzers don't blitz, runners don't run, blockers don't block, and receivers don't receive, everything immediately starts breaking down. So many other sports titles are gonna be getting a little bit of benefit of the doubt, or at least benefiting from ignorance on my part. Games like Emmitt Smith Football will not.
Did I beat it?
Yes, I smoked a couple teams with the Cowboys. Or at least with the grey unlicensed generic team from Dallas. The childhood 49er fan me is rolling in his grave with how often I have to pick those assholes to help my odds of winning.
#699 - The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle and Friends
The first of many terrible licensed platformers, The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle and Friends is based on the old cartoon about the anthropomorphic talking squirrel and his idiot moose friend as they defend
Minnesota America from the Soviet-esque Boris and Natasha. It featured horrendous animation, but had what snobs would call "smart" storylines, which has helped give the show legs and an enduring legacy.
Well this game has the honor of placing in the bottom 50 because it stays in the spirit of the show by looking like shit, but dumps all of show's brains, and then tacks on horrible control and gameplay to top it all off.
From the main menu you are able to start a new game, or use up to three attempts on two different mini-games. It's pretty bizarre, but probably the best idea the game comes up with. The first mini-game stars Sherman and Mr. Peabody fighting a dragon. You do this by blowing bubblegum into his mouth. Uh, yeah, it's as strange as it sounds and I have no idea what the context is. The other mini-game stars Dudley Do-Right on a horse, trying to outrun a train while jumping over fallen logs and boulders. It plays alright I guess, and probably represents the best part of the entire game, which is a pretty sad indictment of just how poor the rest of the game is. If you complete either mini-game you are awarded an extra life for the main game.
When you start the main game it throws you headfirst into the fire right off the bat. The first level, which you can see in the pics above, stars Bullwinkle trying to scale a mountain while birds, mountaineers, and boulders try to pummel him to death. Your main attack is a headbutt and is pretty good at crushing boulders, but seems useless at doing anything else. So the name of the game is going to be avoiding everything while dealing with terrible controls and a massive character sprite. That's always a winning combination.
Though really most of my deaths aren't from the endless obstacles thrown at you, but from falling. Namely falling through the mountain when you finish your ascent, or falling when I'm trying to jump across some tiny wooden planks as birds attack you because the controls are so damn squirrelly. Or moosey in this case (I apologize, I will never do another joke like that for the rest of this project I swear). They seriously couldn't ease you into the game with an introductory level or two? These mountaineering levels would be near the endgame in any other platformer.
Assuming you managed to suffer your way through the mountaineering, the next level has you guide Bullwinkle underground where he fends off bats and stalactites and other nonsense. It is ridiculous how unforgiving this game gets, and how quickly too. It would be tolerable if, again, Bullwinkle had anything resembling an effective attack. Instead you just have to try and frantically avoid touching anything while your giant moose doofus is flying around out of control and always on the verge of falling into a chasm.
If you memorize your way through the caves, and somehow don't die to the five million hazards gunning for you, you are treated to a mine cart ride level similar to what's in the first Donkey Kong Country. All I can say is good luck getting through this one because it is a huge bitch. I lost the will to keep playing after several game overs here.
Did I beat it?
I beat the mini-games...
#698 - Bronkie the Bronchiasaurus
The first of the RayaSystems edutainment games, and easily the worst. Or maybe just the most aggravating. Aggravation plays a big role in games making my bottom 50.
This one is about asthma, and the gameplay mechanics try to tie-in to that. For instance, before every level you'll get some facts and tips about living with and treating asthma and you'll have to answer trivia during the levels in order to open barriers that block the rest of the level. Every time you take damage your vision will start to darken and you'll need to use an inhaler to restore it. And many of the environmental hazards are cigarettes, dust, smoke, and so forth.
There's also health packs, but I don't know what they do. In fact, the inhaler aside, I don't know what most of the items or power-ups do. And I beat this damn game twice. That's always a hallmark of great design: you don't know what any of the things in the game do. I guess it doesn't matter because you can take a ton of punishment, so a general rule of thumb is as long as you avoid falling to your death, and you use an inhaler every now and then when the screen is super dark, you'll be good to go.
What else... the game is ugly as sin. It might actually be the ugliest game on the system outside of Pit Fighter
. Everything is just so drab and lifeless looking. Hell this could almost pass as an unlicensed NES game. Even the bosses, usually a game's artistic highlight and something I seek out for pictures to include, are boring and unimpressive.
The level design is also super terrible. They all go on forever, the mechanics are stupid (again, an invisible wall will often block you until you find a friend and answer their asthma trivia), and there are tons of blind leaps of faith leading to instant deaths. It can also be really hard to tell what you can or cannot stand on.
There's also no indication that you're doing damage to anything which really throws you for a loop with the final boss. How hard is it to make an enemy flash or something like every other game on the planet? I had to dig around for a longplay
just to find out what to do because it was so unintuitive.
And speaking of the boss fights; they all suck. They're all either too easy, or too convoluted and annoying. Like the mammoth boss, dear God what a trainwreck. I hate that fight more than any
other fight on the system. This is supposed to be a game meant to teach small children to manage their asthma, so why do I have a giant tusked elephant murdering my ass like a beast possessed? Here's a mock-up I have made of the difficulty scaling in this game:
This fight is just one long kick in the nuts. God help if you if you game over on him and have to restart the game again. Overcoming the mind-numbing boredom of the levels once requires Herculean fortitude. Being asked to do it again is akin to torture.
It's also funny to me how this is becoming one of the most expensive games on the system. Obviously no-one is buying it just to play it, but it still seems like a rather cruel pill to swallow.
Did I beat it?
Yes, twice. I will never play it again.
#697 - NBA All-Star Challenge
Did the Nerd cover this one? Or maybe one of his legion of imitators? Well if they did they showed you some clips of some mini (nay, micro) games that would have been window dressing in a title like NBA Jam or NBA Live. Here it's the entire game. Shoot free throws (time a button press), shoot 3 pointers (time a button press), or play 1-on-1 (mash buttons, hope something happens). Pro Quarterback and Emmitt Smith Football could barely be bothered to offer anything other than the ability to play a single game, yet they still feel more full-featured then this garbage.
Since there is basically zero gameplay to most of the modes, I'll just talk about the 1-on-1 mode. It's set up as a tournament where you select a handful of NBA players (from the selection of "All-Stars available), and then proceed to play out all of the matches in games of 21. And it's probably even more unplayable than Barkley Shut Up and Jam. The shooting seems to be complete chance, and judging the rebounds is nearly impossible. I don't know why, but the awkward perspective means the AI opponent will recover basically every one of them and it's not even worth trying to go after them. In fact unless a loose ball is coming back straight to you you're better off just switching over to defense as soon as the shot misses. After every game, win or lose, you move on, so there's barely even incentive to try and do well. And when you're done you just shoot straight back to the title screen.
There is honestly nothing else to write about. The game is as barebones as it gets, and anyone who spent $60 on this back in the day was basically robbed by LJN. Any unfortunate children who got this game as a present probably gave up video games in favor of something more rewarding like pogs or drugs.
Did I beat it?
Yes, twice. Clearly I do not value my free time.
#696 - Cool World
Oy vey, Ocean's licensed movie games are just the worst... this will be the first of many on the list, and their average ranking will not be complimentary.
is based on one of those hybrid live-action/animated movies that comes out every now and then. This one was a Ralph Bakshi (Lord of the Rings
, Fritz the Cat
) product, and starred a young Brad Pitt as... actually I have no idea what he is. I never bothered to watch it, and I never will because it has been practically lost to time since; banished to obscurity like so many other shitty forgotten movies.
Judging by the one sheet's hard-boiled Pitt and the femme fatale standing next to him, I'm gonna say it's a noir film...
Just like Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
I'm also pretty sure the game is a NES port. Or I should say, this game looks and plays terribly, and there is
a NES version of Cool World
, so I'm just gonna make that assumption. The character sprites are tiny and devoid of detail, which is pretty damning considering the cover seems to indicate they're supposed to be pretty outlandish and over-the-top. And the control scheme basically consists of "jump" and "do something." Again, very NES-ish.
Describing the gameplay is tricky. It's kind of like an early LucasArts adventure title, but sans all the fun. And humor. And logic. And interesting characters. You're introduced to your Brad Pitt character as he falls from... somewhere, and lands in some kind of cartoon hell. From there you go around different buildings and pick up items, and then use those items to get into other buildings. That seems to be about the gist of what the game offers. Occasionally a cartoon cat or something might try to set you on fire, and a jumble of tiny flea police will try to arrest you and send you back to the level's beginning, but everything looks so crappy that it's hard to say what is truly going on. Perhaps this all ties into the movie somehow, because otherwise it's just one of those games where you take every item and try to use it in every place until you succeed, and slowly memorize exactly what to do to make progress.
Anyway every time I've played this I've wandered around for a bit until the inevitable game over came up and kicked me back to the main menu. I've never had any desire to hop right back in.
Did I beat it?
No, I can barely get anywhere.
#695 - RoboCop 3
Everyone remembers RoboCop
, right? It told the time-honored tale of the beloved father, husband and cop, who gets gunned down in cold blood by the dads from Twin Peaks
and That '70s Show
, comes back as a hulking cyborg, teams up with Nancy Allen, and murders approximately ten thousand Detroit criminals. And Ronnie Cox. It's a modern classic.
Well I'm not sure anyone remembers RoboCop 3
. It was the PG-13 sequel that killed the franchise with a boring plot, nonexistent action, no Peter Weller, and a massive reduction in blood and gore. I don't know about you, but half of the reason I watch the original film is for how insanely violent it is:
Instead, the family-friendly third film has RoboCop teamed up with a kid (always a winning formula) and protecting the inhabitants of Detroit's slums from their evil corporate landlords and some British guy. There's also a robot samurai, but he's barely in the movie. It's so boring that every other detail escapes me, and I just rewatched it a month ago.
Anyway, none of that matters because this game has nothing to do with anything. Each level has you guiding your Peter Weller-lookalike as he wanders down generic streets, gunning down millions of thugs, turrets and flying drones. Or at least I assume that's the case because this is one of those games where I can't beat the first
damn level. You know the type; you've got a massive-ass character sprite that is constantly getting shot from every direction, with awkward firing angles, no real way to dodge, and little to no warning of enemies as they pop onscreen and shoot you point blank in the face. And of course level one goes on forever, with no checkpoints, and some clumsy platforming thrown in to boot.
...and you have to manage your bullet supply. I mean, really? Does anyone play Contra
and think "I wish the ammo was limited?" No, they fucking don't.
So yeah, the game sucks. Badly. I'm not sure why I didn't have it in the bottom ten. Perhaps because the suffering is so short-lived. Or because the SNES just has too many unplayable games and I ran out of room. Consider it an honorary worst-game candidate.
Did I beat it?
#694 - Taz-Mania
I HATE this game too. Maybe even more than Space Football. Maybe more than any game on the system. Or any system for that matter. Taz can really just suck a big one.
And all because this game is so damn annoying to play. Each level consists of running down a winding road and trying to eat little birds while trying to avoid the millions of cactuses, puddles, signs, motorcycles, and uh, your mother, that are trying to stop you. That's it. There's bonus levels, but those also consist of running down a road and eating birds. It's like a racing game, but without the racing. Or the game.
I'm just gonna say it, chasing stuff down in video games is not fun, and it never was. It wasn't fun in Space Football, and it isn't fun here. Perhaps that style of game is for some people, but I am not one of them. Does anyone like fetch quests? Does anyone like fetch quests where the desired doo-dad is trying to evade you? No, everyone hates every part of that sentence.
And why isn't it fun here? Because of two major problems.
One, like every mascot game of the day, the game wants and prods you to go fast, fast, fast (thanks a lot for that Sonic, asshole). And that would make sense because this is a Taz game. That's sorta what he did; fly around like an out-of-control crazy man. The problem is the game is not designed to accommodate this, and punishes you at every turn for it. Once you start spinning staying on the road is basically impossible. And sure, his spin will destroy some obstacles when he hits them. But not all of them, and there's so many that you're just gonna hit the next one up anyway. In order for this mechanic to actually work it has to offer a reward to go with the risk. If it's all risk than what is the point? You're best off just never spinning. Ever.
The second problem is the damn birds. You're on a timer, they have very erratic movement, the hit detection for grabbing them is super iffy, and the hit detection for everything else is even worse. So actually collecting them is a major pain in the goddamn ass. Roughly every 100 feet down the road is an intersection, with cars and trucks trying to take your ass out when you cross. Well even if you avoid that incoming vehicle the game will either make you get hit anyway or will lock you into a getting hit animation and actually move you into place to get hit. Fucking. Bullshit. You also cannot see anything half the time because your character's sprite is not only huge, but moving all over the damn place. At some points when the road is going up and down you literally cannot see anything. As in you're 100% blind. Then a car pancakes you and your blood pressure rises.
So why is the festering piece of excrement not rated lower? Well the animation and graphics are alright, the frame rate is smooth, and in the early going when the game is a lot more leisurely paced it's not a completely terrible experience. So I guess I recommend playing this game in 5-10 minutes sessions. If you must play it. Which you shouldn't.
Did I beat it?
No, the second half of the game is a rapid descent into madness. Anyone who sticks with it is a stronger person than I.
#693 - The Tick
is a (very) mediocre brawler with boring enemies, uninspired level design, few moves or mechanics, and stupid boss fights...
...stretched out for HELLISH lengths. And did I say enemies? I meant enemy. Thousands of the same enemy. For roughly five thousand levels. You may die of old age before completing this game. Now they may sometimes look like ninjas and sometimes look like clowns, but make no mistake, they're all the same. And be prepared for hours of kicking those same ninjas over and over and over again with the same attack. It never changes, and it never becomes fun.
Actually I should say it mostly
never changes, because there are a few sorry platforming levels that last for about 30 seconds each thrown in. And at the very end of the game you are inexplicably jumping from speedboat to speedboat for one level. Like the developers reached the end of the project, realized they had created the most monotonous game in history, and decided the solution was to quickly shit together something with motorboats. All of these levels take up about 3 total minutes of the 4 hour runtime so they're almost like a footnote of a footnote.
Think I'm exaggerating about anything I just said? Here's the longplay
, clocking in at 3:50:44
Be sure to watch it at 3:24:37. A classic "throw the controller moment."
If The Tick
was a normal-length bad game it could have comfortably slipped into the mid-500s. Games in that range are dumb, but not actively trying to punish the player. Instead here it sits, a product of evil, made by people who hate themselves, designed to inflict pain and suffering on the end user.
It's still way better than Last Action Hero
Did I beat it?
Yes, though it took so long it technically happened in the future several years from now.
#692 - Terminator 2: Judgement Day
The first of four Terminator games on the system, and easily the worst. Well, not easily. There is another terrible entry in the series I'll get to soon enough, but it's terrible in much more tolerable ways. So this one gets bottom nod. It is completely in
-tolerable in every way.
Many people would probably have this in their bottom 10 because of how irredeemable every part of it is. But I have an admission to make. Any game that lets me soak up about a million hits before I die doesn't aggravate me as fast. Maybe it's because it gives me more time to bask in how comically awful the game is, and my disgust has turned into amusement. I dunno. But if you died in a normal number of hits in this game it would be battling the likes of Ultraman
for a spot in the first installment of this project. That's the closest thing to praise I can give this game.
T2 is of course another action platformer shooter thing, with occasional driving stages. It was a popular mixture back in the day I guess. And especially popular with Terminator games. The controls are horribly stiff and awkward since that's practically mandatory at this point too. In fact they might be second only to Pit Fighter
as far as overall awfulness goes.
Your stiff Arnold mannequin character has two attacks, both of which are quite pitiful, and a jump, which is even more pitiful. You'll use them to fend off endless waves of respawning enemies. And they are endless. I guess that's why the developers gave you so much health, rather than, you know, fixing the problem of too many fucking spawns. Your best bet is to just brute force your way through everything because playing with any sort of finesse (or skill) seems impossible. Dodging anything is also pretty much out of the question as Arnold's slow ass animations mean you're a sitting duck at all times. And like I said, you're not going to be jumping over anything:
Jesus H. Christ. That actually got through QA? Did games have QA back then? Not at LJN apparently.
Another fun aspect of the game is figuring out what to do. As in you don't
know what to do because the onscreen text is virtually unreadable. I assume it's telling me my mission, but the hell if I can make it out. Unless you consult a guide you're probably going to be wandering around back and forth hoping to trigger something for most of the game.
If you do manage to stumble through that first mission you'll then be treated to that time-honored tradition of the Terminator vehicle level. And let me just say this one is the WORST OF THEM ALL. I can't even begin to properly describe the fail here; it's just something you have to experience for yourself. Think Cannondale Cup
's baffling controls, but you can't see shit, and you don't know where to go. Then make it even worse. That's the motorcycle levels.
Did I beat it?
No, fuck this game.
#691 - RapJam Volume One
You may not be able to tell from the box art, but the gimmick with this game is that it's NBA Jam... but with rappers! Instead of selecting a team you pick from players such as Coolio, LL Cool J, and Flava Flav. And that is where the rap tie-in ends. None of their music plays during the games; not even a loop of one of their hits during a menu or something (note - any hip-hop experts are free to correct me here). I don't even think simplified versions of songs are present, it's all just generic z-grade RapJam Volume One originals. If Rock 'N Roll Racing could pull off respectable versions of Highway Star and Paranoid then you'd think the developers could have done "something" here. But who needs famous rap in a game about famous rappers?
Graphics-wise the game is... well just look at it. It's another title that could make a claim for worst on the system. The character sprites, besides being small and ugly, are also completely indistinguishable from one another. There is a dude model, a lady model, and a midget (?) model, so good luck figuring out which one of them is supposed to be a member of House of Pain or Queen Latifah (hint: it's not the girl). None of them play any differently from one another either as far as I could tell, so I don't even know why they bothered with the rap tie-in at all. Besides the portraits during the character select you'd never know this game was supposed to be about rap.
As far as gameplay goes, RJVO isn't unplayable like Barkley Shut Up and Jam, and it's slightly less annoying than Jammit, but it still blows pretty badly. The name of the game on defense is goal tending, or shoving any attempted dunk. If you park a guy in the key the AI will always pull up for a jumper, and you can easily grab those out of the air. As far as offense goes your best bet is screening your defender or baiting him into shoving someone else so you can get a clear shot off. Any uncontested shot has about a 90% chance of going in. If you have a open lane to the basket you can throw in an easy dunk, but unless you're playing the easiest of opponents that lane truly needs to be massive in order to pull it off. Otherwise you'll just get tackled in mid-air every single time. So the game basically becomes RapJumper Volume 1, since no-one is actually going to be doing any jamming.
Absurdly enough, this game supports up to 4 players. Next time I have a game night I might spring this upon my unsuspecting friends just to bewilder them.
Did I beat it?
Yes, as Warren G and his two ladyfriends.
#690 - The Rocketeer
Another early title, this one based on the (now) obscure Disney film from the early '90s, which itself was an adaptation of some old comic or serial or something. The Rockateer movie starred some unknown actor as some guy who becomes a rocket pack superhero, fights dapper Timothy Dalton and his Nazi-stand-in fascist goons, and falls in love with Jennifer Connelly. This plot has been very clumsily shoe-horned into a video game.
Part of the reason I have this game so low (besides being kind of shitty), is spite. Spite that I spent a couple hours playing it, and was teased with a completion, only to get my ass kicked by the Timothy Dalton boss on the final blimp level. And not just getting my ass kicked, but being flummoxed while doing it. Good luck figuring out what you're supposed to do, it's totally trial-and-error.
I'm fine with changing up the gameplay mechanics every level; but when you completely change it up in the final one to something you have not seen before whatsoever, it's super annoying to have to do another attempt from the beginning just to try and figure out what is going on.
The rest of the game sucks ass in various ways too. It has some shooting gallery segments kind of similar to what you see in The Untouchables, some horrendous shmup sections that make D-Force look like a Compile game, and some plane racing sections with a forced perspective that has to be one of the most awkward in the history of the genre. Now none of them are horribly difficult, but they all go on for waaay too long. If I had to individually rate all of them, I'd go:
Biplane racing: D-
Biplane shmup'ing: D-
Shooting galleries: D+
Fisticuffs on a blimp: ???
Now I haven't seen the movie since it came out so I have no idea if the music is faithful to the Jack Horner score or not, but I will say that it sounds extremely simple and "8-bit". This is an early title so perhaps they hadn't figured out how to use the sound chip yet. Not that that's an excuse for being shitty.
Did I beat it?
No. Fuck you very much Mr. Dalton.
#689 - Jammit
Dammit, Jammit. I
love hate you. So much. And how many of these stupid jam games can there possibly be? And why are basketball games in general so bad? This is already the fifth one on the list!
The gameplay in single player here is somehow even worse than Barkley Shut Up and Jam. Playing defense is impossible as the AI will sink about 95% of its shots (it might actually be 100% and I hallucinated a few misses). Any dunk they try is also gonna be automatic; I've never successfully blocked or defended one. So to have any shot at winning you'll just have to pray that the PC doesn't score on one of its possession through some fluke miss or turnover. Or at least that is the best idea I've come up with. I can't win a single game, so what do I know?
Playing offense isn't completely terrible as there is some skill required to make shots via timing the release of the button. Hell, I'd call it almost fun (relative to the rest of the game). Probably not so much when playing the PC because you're always losing anyway, but against another player I could see it being a good time, even in tiny, tiny doses. I don't know that for sure because I've never bothered to ask anyone to play Jammit with me for obvious reasons, but it's the best explanation I can come up with for why this is ranked a tad bit higher than BSUaJ.
There's also some other game modes if you wanted to keep playing this for some reason. They all have really stupid indecipherably "rad" menu names but I think it's stuff like "Horse". I couldn't muster the strength to actually try them out, but they're there if you're curious.
The music is also extremely early '90s. The best comparison I can come up with is the Seinfeld theme song. Very bassy white guy pseudo-funk. It's not completely terrible, which is the best thing I can say about the game in a back-handed kind of way. Though there is one track that is pretty bizarre and bordering on progressive. It's not great, but it's at least kind of interesting.
Pros: This may be the most "early '90s" of all the Jam games. The graphics and dunking animations are hilarious(ly stupid)
Cons: This may be the most "early '90s" of all the Jam games. Also, controls, graphics, gameplay, sound, music, hate-inducing characters, and gameplay again.
Did I beat it?
No, that would require making at least one career stop on defense.
#688 - NFL Football
So many terrible football games on this system. So many. This is only the fourth one I've covered so far, but there has to be at least 50 more in the bottom half of the library. I've already theorized as to why I think these games are so prone to failure in the last installment so I'm not gonna rehash that. But suffice to say, this is another one of those failures.
This may be the most annoying football game of the bunch too. The pace is just so slooooow. At least with something like College Football USA '97 you can enjoy the schadenfreude of watching the trainwreck unfold. Here you just have a protracted unpleasant, boring experience that makes finishing a single game a mind numbing drag.
Let's just go through the negatives at work here. Terrible graphics? Of course. Terrible framerate? When isn't that the case. Impossible passing game? That goes without saying. Weird camera that likes to shift between vertical and horizontal positioning just to throw you off and slow the game down even more? Uh... new and unique to this game. Can't say I know what they were thinking that added to the game, besides disorienting you and further killing an already tortuous pace. Oh, and I should mention it's also zooming in and out while doing this. Hope you don't get motion sickness easily.
Passing game - Impossible, good luck seeing any of your receivers after snapping the ball, or picking out which receiver is which button once the camera zooms way out
Running game - good luck tracking the ballcarrier as the camera goes on the fritz
Playing defense - again, good luck covering the receivers you cannot see
So what does all of that mean exactly? That trying to do anything with any amount of strategy is out of the question. Most of the mechanics, like catching and tackling, are complete crapshoots. And just trying to track the action is a battle unto itself. I'm getting a headache just thinking about how to win a game.
Seriously Konami, what in the hell were you doing here? Besides being by far the worst game of theirs I've ever played, is what must be the worst camera in the history of sports games. Worse than Barkley Shut up and Jam, worse than the upcoming Football Fury, worse than stupid Super Off-Road The Baja even. Just... gah!
Did I beat it?
I refuse to complete a full game.
#687 - Bebe's Kids
I'm assuming everyone knows Bebe's Kids
from the AVGN/Nostalgia Critic crossover episode. If not, feel free to go watch it
Done? Well everything he said is (mostly) true; it's a terrible beat-em-up with bad and unresponsive controls, annoying enemies and combat, nonsensical design, confusing levels, a completely uninteresting and dead/obscure license, that is a complete and utter chore to play. But since I need to make this review longer than one sentence, let's look at the individual levels:
The fairgrounds - These levels play like a traditional beat-em-up. Or I should say like a really terrible one. You'll kill a few enemies, grab a few weapons or heals, and move on. They're about a minute long and are barely worth remembering. And no, they are not that hard, contrary to the picture The Critic tried to paint.
Baby on the shelf - Here you're trying to break some glassware the baby knocks down before your mom's boyfriend can catch it. It's extremely easy once you know the trick to it (hit everything in mid-air with a flying punch), but everything about it sucks. The game's poor controls and hit detection really come to light here, as maneuvering yourself and actually hitting the objects with a punch are tricky as hell. Many of them will even pass right through your fist. For whatever reason the hit detection is much more forgiving when you jump, so the frustration ends once you figure that out. Overall, it's another one minute long level once you know what you're doing.
The haunted house - Just the worst of everything. Besides being a large maze of rooms that look the same, with one-way doors and endless enemies pelting you with cheap hits, there is also a tight time limit. You have no time to do anything other than make a beeline for the nearest exit, which may or may not progress you or set you way back. It's complete chance. Your choices here are trial-and-error and painful memorization, or a video guide. I'd recommend the latter.
Levels after that - I wouldn't know, I can't get through the damn haunted house. But many of them appear to be re-skinned versions of the fairgrounds levels.
The soundtrack is also amongst the worst on the system; everything is on a short loop and will start to drive you mad within minutes. Now, I'm not a hip hop fan or anything, but I imagine even casual listeners will be hard-pressed to find anything remotely redeemable in there. Everything is very simple, and very repetitive.
I've tried twice to get through the haunted house, and failed. I honestly don't know how anyone could get through it unless they took meticulous notes, and I sure as fuck am not doing that.
Did I beat it?
No, though I probably will at some point. Just to say I did.
#686 - Bill Laimbeer's Combat Basketball
Should this game be lower on the list? It truly is terrible and unbalanced. Perhaps I just enjoy the bizarre fact that Bill Laimbeer got his own video game. And that the cover shows him punching another player in the face Laimbeer-style.
Instead of "combat" basketball, think "space" basketball. Your players are constantly bouncing up and down like you're playing on the moon, which I think only affects how your shots work. I say think, because there are no certainties with this game. Mostly because the controls are bizarrely implemented. The B button does most actions (other than jump for the ball?), which is in itself ridiculous. Why not take advantage of the fact the SNES controller had 6 main buttons? Was this originally being made for the 2600 or something? Well as best I can tell, holding B while pressing anything on the D-Pad will attempt a pass, whereas pressing just B will attempt a shot. Unless you're too far away in which case the ball just does its own thing. It's hard to say for sure because most of the time I have no damn clue where the ball is going and I can't tell if it's because it tried to do a pass or if the player was at the incorrect height in his "bounce" or I was too far away from something or what. Again, who does a one button control scheme?
There are also power-ups and hazards littering the court, though most, if not all of them, are completely worthless. Everything moves so slow that you'd almost have to run into the landmines on purpose in order to actually hit them, and I never saw any impacts from power-ups. You're also allowed to tackle other players in true Laimbeer fashion. That is about the only thing in the game that even remotely works, but it isn't especially fun or satisfying. NFL Blitz this ain't.
There's also no licenses of any sort (other than Bill's stupid mug), which I guess shouldn't be a surprise about a basketball game set in the future, and the options are pretty barebone. Play a single game or play some sort of season mode. I'd recommend not doing either.
Did I beat it?
I have won some games, but I've never been brave enough to attempt a full season.
#685 - D-Force
If you look at those screenshots you may think "that game doesn't actually look half bad." And you'd be correct, it doesn't. Shooters are fun right? How bad could they possible screw up such a simple formula?
Well, play this game. It has unlimited continues but I DARE you to see it through to the end. The game is also ugly as hell, the sound is terrible, the powerups are scarce and boring, your chopper's hitbox is so ridiculously big that you're going to die to the stupidest shit over and over again, and there is some major Gradius-syndrome going on. It's excruciating.
Besides the main game, D-Force also offers a "Shooting Mode" and an "Exploration Mode." Unfortunately these just appear to be collections of levels from the main game. I guess the idea is that the different levels sets are supposed to be "real-world" and "fantasy" themed, in case you wanted to segregate the dinosaurs and giant birds from the giant mega planes during your play experience. Weird. And useless.
There's also a gimmick where you can move between two vertical planes to attack foes or dodge attacks. It adds absolutely nothing to the game. In fact, I would recommend you avoid doing this whenever possible because all it does is make previously-unseen projectiles appear all over the screen. Again, your chopper has the world's biggest hitbox, so this is basically an automatic death.
Also, I'm pretty sure the chopper in the cover artwork is some sort of transport model. They couldn't even get that right...
The soundtrack is a mixed bag. Some of the levels' themes aren't too shabby. They kind of sound like shit, but I like the melodies. Everything else from the title screen to the boss fights is pretty generic and forgettable though. So overall it probably gets a straight up "C" from me. Which for this game is high praise.
Anyway, the next shmup isn't going to appear for at least 400 more entries, just to drive home how horribad this game is. It's the most consistently likeable genre for me, so you have to mess it up pretty bad to drop down this low. I guess you could say this is a spite ranking. Spite for taking something so easy to get right, a shmup, and beating the odds by making it so very wrong. You have to reward that special type of incompetence.
Did I beat it?
Yes, on easy. Haven't quite managed to finish it on normal yet.
#684 - Champions World Class Soccer
The first of three soccer games to appear in this installment. I really despise all three of them for different reasons, but this is probably the objectively worst game of the lot. Too bad the botched port of FIFA '97 had to steal its thunder and claim the lowest position because, that game's unresponsive controls aside, this is by far the worst of the two games.
The main problem here is game doesn't seem to want you to play it. Maintaining control of the ball and trying to move it down the field is a massive struggle, as your player is slow as hell and doesn't seem particularly good at passing. Or doing anything for that matter. Or maybe I should say that no one wants to get open. The only real luck I had getting across the field was moving my guy in a bunch of wide arcs trying to juke out the defenders. Since everyone seems to move on a curve it makes all of the action resemble a bunch of fish swimming around a pool. I know that sounds really silly, but I swear it's true. Try the game out if you don't believe me.
The controls are also extremely sluggish. Every action takes multiple frames, so you can expect a one second delay on actually doing anything. The ball will probably be knocked loose before that happens anyway. Every time. In fact I think I managed all of three shots on goal in two games because of this. And that is not an exaggeration; just getting the ball down the field is hard enough, but actually scoring seems impossible. If I'm just playing the game wrong I don't know what to fix because I don't know what it wants me to do, and I couldn't find any exploits either.
So yeah, what do I write about a game that doesn't want me to play it, or let me be a part of the action? I guess nothing, so we're wrapping up early. The game deserves no less.
Did I beat it?
No, I can barely manage to get a shot on goal.
#683 - TKO Championship Boxing
There are 5 boxing games on the SNES that aren't Super Punch-Out! and I swear I completely do not understand any of them. I'm generally bad at fighting games in the first place, but at least with those I can exploit some jump kicks or ranged attacks to kinda feel like I know what I'm doing. With boxing games I just get my ass beat with endless shots to the head, while never understanding how the life/endurance/stamina bars work. This is the worst of the bunch; I can't get anywhere on the first opponent, and it rapidly devolves into futile button-mashing. I mean, that happens with all of these games, but here it happens extra fast and is extra futile.
This could easily be lower on the list, but it's hard to tell if these games are just that bad, or if I just don't know what I'm doing. Probably both.
Dammit, I cannot let these boxing games get the best of me, so I loaded it up to try again. And this time I actually managed to beat the first hapless opponent. It was a mess, but I figured out something resembling a strategy which let me get the best of him rather easily. I even started to second guess this low ranking. After all, games have a much better shot at getting on my good side if they actually let me experience their content.
And then fight number two happened and I was quickly reminded as to how shitty a game this is. So much for that.
I think the game wants you conserve your endurance (represented by the gloves above your health bar) until you can unload a flurry of attacks, maximizing the damage you can output before you're tapped. The problem with that is that everything seems like random chance. There's no rhyme or reason as to who hits who once the melee starts. You can try to time it so that the opponent walks into your first blow, like you would with basically any beat-em-up, but the hit detection is so poor that this only (kind of) works on the first opponent. After failing to beat the 2nd guy a dozen times I'm walking away for good.
Did I beat it?
I can't even get close to finishing this.
#682 - Hammerlock Wrestling
Okay, if there is any genre of game I understand even less than boxing, it's wrestling. I cannot beat any opponents in this game because I can't figure out how anything works. Every match repeatedly sees you and opponent locking arms together, and then whichever one of you presses a button at the right moment (whenever that is) "wins" and throws the other player down. This happens approximately 10,000 times a match. I think I was on the giving end of that toss maybe 2-3 times.
And that appears to be the entire game. The two opponents get near each other, someone triggers a cut scene, and whoever pressed some button at the right time wins out. Repeat this over and over again, every 3 seconds, for the entire game. I just... I don't even know what else to write about. I guess the animations that appears when you do these moves look decent? God knows you look at them enough, so the developers must have figured they should have some polish.
Just like with TKOB I don't know if this game is that terrible or if I'm just playing it wrong, but I don't see my thoughts changing anytime soon. I can only watch so many scripted piledrivers and *insert other wrestling move here* before my brain starts to dribble out of my ears.
Did I beat it?
No, I'm horrible at wrestling games.
#681 - Natsume Championship Wrestling
Okay, take everything I said about Hammerlock Wrestling above, and apply it here. Of the three Japanese wrestling games released in the states, I completely do not understand these two. And the other one barely counts because it is basically Final Fight in a wrestling ring, almost an entirely different beast altogether.
Just to further drive home what I said in the HW review, I do not know anything about wrestling. I've never watched wrestling, my friends didn't watch wrestling, my dad didn't watch wrestling, I never did competitive wrestling, and in general have no idea what is going on. Everything that happens seems completely illogical. So I don't know how I'm supposed to play these games, which is not a good start. And trying to figure it out has been a rather bewildering experience. Are we supposed to embrace each other every 5 seconds? Do I mash buttons to win that? Why am I running into the ropes and why don't I just stop? Why the fuck is that guy's health recovering despite my endless chain of hits to his face? Is there any strategy to any of this? And so forth.
That all being said, I'm still fairly confident that both of these games are terrible and that even hardcore wrestling fans wouldn't get much out of them. A real game like Saturday Night Slam Masters offers such refined gameplay in comparison that there is no point in trying to work with these horrid mechanics and frustrating controls.
Did I beat it?
No. It's a wrestling game.
#680 - Doomsday Warrior
What's sadder than how poorly this early fighter plays, is the fact that this was the sole Renovation-published title on the system. The powerhouse Genesis developer released classics such as Gaiares, Gain Ground, and Granada on that rival console, but had nothing to show on SNES besides this and a few cancelled releases. Of course they also released Beast Fighter on Sega's system so maybe they just had really poor judgement when it came to this particular genre...
When it comes to fighting games, I'm always torn when it comes to reviewing the single player. I feel with most of them you are gonna have to figure out some way to exploit a shortcoming in the AI in order to win, which means you're trying to break the game instead of just playing it like it's meant to be played. Does anyone enjoy that? I sure don't. Well I never found an exploit for this guy, or at least I never found one that consistently got me results. And that's because the AI is a cheating mother f'er in this game. I swear to god when you get off to a great start that the AI will start to furiously rally to avoid defeat. There's unlimited continues yet the frustration factor is still through the roof throughout. That is never a good sign.
Besides the cheap AI and frustrating single player, everything about the game is poor. The graphics are not great, the music sucks, the control is a tad unresponsive, there's only seven playable characters, limited play options, and unexciting gameplay. The quadruple dumpster fire of Ballz, Shaq Fu, Ultraman and Pit Fighter aside, this is easily the fighter on the system that I would least want to return to.
Did I beat it?
No, I got to the final boss but decided my time was better spent doing something that wouldn't give me an aneurysm.
#679 - Wayne's World
Based on the movie based on the Saturday Night Live skits featuring two manchildren doing a public access show from their basement. I guess it was about... early '90s stuff? And his girlfriend Denise? I dunno, the appeal of Mike Myers has always been beyond me and I haven't seen any of them in at least 20 years. Not that it matters, because once again this is a game has nothing to do with any of its source material. Unless Tia Carrere did a rendition of Ballroom Blitz at some point and I missed it.
Wayne's World also features all the usual crap from this type of game, so I'll do the customary rundown of things that annoy me. The sprites are too big and the game is too zoomed in, which means you are going to be taking an endless number of cheap hits from offscreen enemies. To add further insult to injury, the busy backgrounds make a lot of these attacks hard to see and avoid. So most of the challenge comes down to memorizing enemy positions and trying to pre-emptively dodge their attacks.
The game is also just brutally ugly, and probably amongst the worst looking platformers on the system. The levels themselves are annoying mazes of samey-looking objects that are huge chore to navigate. Even the levels that are set outdoors feature the same nonsensical maze-like design, with the same template objects just copy-and-pasted everywhere to cut corners. Getting anywhere is always frustrating, and never fun.
The sound, which mostly consists of voice samples of Wayne shouting catchphrases, get old real fast. I know people thought Mike Myers was hilarious back in the '90s, but his shtick has aged horribly in my opinion. And the music is even worse. Play this game on mute or you won't last more than 5 minutes. You probably won't anyway, but that is the best advice I can give.
Did I beat it?
I did actually. I stuck with the game long enough to eventually fight a giant Jello mold that has captured Garth (wtf?), after which the game unceremoniously ends. I'm sure the story was explained in the manual.
#678 - Street Hockey '95
The second (and final) entry in the godless Street Sports series. Or at least I hope there is only two of them. Both games have the dubious honor of landing in the bottom 50 here, and though this one is technically lower, it's a toss-up as to which one is actually harder to endure.
Hockey games are generally gonna be a tough one for me to judge. You're flying around on skates so the control has to be a bit slippery by design, but not too slippery. And you have to figure out a way to translate the art of fitting a puck into the tiny space between a goalie and his net in a way that is both fun and fair. It also means extended time playing these games to get a feel for whether or not the mechanics are solid.
Street Hockey '95 is the exception to that rule as it can be judged almost immediately upon starting it. In fact it's so miserable in every facet that just finishing a single game is a massive chore. Forget beating the game, consider it a victory if you manage to sit through one hockey game, beginning to end.
The controls are busted. I can't even really expand upon that; it's one of those things were you have to play it to understand it. This also means the character you are controlling is going to be offscreen for about 95% of each game because it's nearly impossible to rally him to where the action is. That's not an exaggeration. Playing the game means trying to get onscreen. And the bitch of it is, I don't know why exactly that is, because I can't see my character. The fact that the controls are so baffling, and that everything causes your skater to fall down, including the ramps that occasionally jut out of the court (wtf?) probably has
something everything to do with it. But who knows, because it's all happening offscreen! Skating on a real roller-rink rooftop would probably be easier than controlling these morons.
Occasionally you'll score a goal. General rule of thumb for me with hockey games; I have no idea why some shots go in when they do. I assume it's just random chance. And as far as I'm concerned, in this game it IS random chance. Nothing that happens on the shot has any rhyme or reason to it, so you just hope to put more shots on goal than your opponent so that the numbers play in your favor.
I easily could have had this game lower, but I'm giving it the slightest bit of lenience because I usually just drop the controller in befuddlement and watch the action unfold in a stupified state. So it's a befuddled placement.
Did I beat it?
No, I can't even get my guy on the damn screen.
#676 - Captain America and The Avengers
If you were a kid like me you saw this game either sitting on the rental shelf, or in the arcades, and knew you HAD to play it. Well, I never did get around to it (I was too poor for arcades and I would always rent Urban Strike or Wolfenstein 3D instead), but I did keep it in the back of my mind. Fast forward to the 2000s, when I got back into SNES collecting at a more active rate. This was one of the first titles I pursued and actually put it in the top 25 section of the wishlist I kept logged.
Talk about a gigantic letdown. This bastard has to be the third worst port on the system behind Race Drivin' and Pit Fighter and one of the worst brawlers I have ever played. How do you screw up such a simple genre so badly? Brawlers aren't that complicated, you just need to be able to move around, do some sort of attack, and make that attack actually connect. I guess the developers forgot that last part, because between actually hitting anything, and not getting hit immediately back in retaliation, playing this game with any sort of skill or strategy seems impossible. Every damn battle is a war of attrition and the boss fights are a nightmare. Anyone who has ever beat this must have found a way to cheese the fights.
There's also some shmup levels to break up the action, and they are even fucking worse. Notice a pattern with that? Whenever a bad game tries to interject a different playstyle to liven things up you end up with misery on top of misery. If you don't have the resources to put out a quality game, you certainly do not have the resources to put out two halves of two wildly different games. Fix the damn foundation of the game before adding new modes.
I also hear all the time about how the Genesis version of this title is substantially better. Perhaps that means it is actually playable, because that is how low the bar is. Noticing that Mindscape (they of the perpetual video game abortion) put out the SNES port whereas Data East did the Genny version, I'm not surprised. Say what you will about those DE guys, at least they occasionally appear to know what they hell they are doing.
Did I beat it?
No, and it drives me nuts because this is on of the few brawlers left I have yet to beat.