Throwback Thursdays

Here at Vidgama, every Thursday is a throwback day.  We review older titles to see if they stood the test of time or were just a flash in the pan.  Check in each week for games from NES, SNES, Genesis, N64, 3DO, PS1 and more.  If you have any requests let us know.  Thanks for reading and enjoy!

Total Recall

Last modified on 2012-10-11 20:02:50 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Total Recall is loosely based on the movie of the same name.  If you haven’t seen it yet, do yourself a favor and rent it now.  It’s B-Movie Sci-Fi schlock at it’s finest.  The Governator plays Douglas Quaid a construction worker who may or may not have been a secret agent on Mars whose memory of his service has been erased and replaced with his current life of Earthly domesticity.  He needs to uncover his identity and save mutant revolutionaries from the evil Mars boss Cohagen.  Lots of people get killed and things get blown up along the way.  It sounds great because it is.  The game?  Not so much.

Keep:

Nothing: There is not a single redeemable moment in this piece of crap.

Change:

Quaid: I don’t remember Ahhnold wearing a green jumpsuit in the movie or having giant breasts.

only sissy men wear pink

Enemies: One of my favorite scenes from the movie is when Quaid fights the little pink man in the alley. Oh wait, no it’s not. That wasn’t in the fucking movie! Just like half of the other poorly rendered villains thrown into the game.

consider this a divorce

Graphics & Animations: The movements in the game are terribly awkward and jerky. You should get a good chuckle out of watching Arnie try to run and jump.
Controls: Movement is horribly imprecise, punches frequently don’t register, piss poor programming all around.

Cut:

The Whole Damn Thing: You know what? Forget about changing anything. Toss it all and start over. The developers should have to play this in hell as their penance.

wrong movie! assholes

wrong movie! assholes

Total Recall is one of the worst games I’ve ever played. We at Vidgama don’t usually expect much from movie tie-ins but this is just horrendous. It’s pretty much unplayable but I suffered through it for you, dear reader. I’m not even sure the developers have seen the movie, just take a look at the game over screen.

Verdict:

Seek & Destroy

Total Eclipse

Last modified on 2012-10-11 20:04:03 GMT. 1 comment. Top.

total-eclipse-cover-artSave Earth from the threat of an alien species… yada, yada, yada – same old plot, but what does Crystal Dynamics do to make Total Eclipse interesting?  As it turns out, they are able to capitalize on the advent of 3-D technology to create a highly detailed, varied rail shooter that for any of its faults, works pretty well.  Total Eclipse is set in the distant future where humans have the capability to travel to different solar systems and yet have somehow been unable to shake that damn military brass balls attitude.  You are placed in charge of different missions to help earth in the attack against a group of aliens who have decided that they think humans would be a tasty meal.  Little do they know, humans taste awful.

Keep

total-eclipse-3do3-D / Textures
Total Eclipse truly shines in it’s adoption of 3-D perspective and use of realistic (for 1996) textures. The textures of the differing terrains create a believable alien environment.  The framerate stays very consistent for a game with this much going on, even during very intense moments of action.

Music
Cheesy guitar riffs and bad sax couldn’t be better suited for Total Eclipse.  Albeit somewhat redundant, the music is a very strong supporting feature of the game and provides a nice undertone to all of the action.

total-eclipse-drax-sai

Gotta love a bad guy with a lisp

Cutscenes
Right from the opening credits, the player is greeted by a cutscene of epic mid-90’s proportions.  Full 3-D renderings and perhaps even some animatronics were utilized in the creation of these exceptionally engaging and over-the-top voice acted scenes.

Change

total-eclipse-tilt

I’m feeling sick

Camera Work
The most frustrating parts of this game rear their ugly heads during moments when flying to the far right or far left to avoid a wall or enemy.  It is near impossible to know what is up ahead due to the perspective.  The camera allows for no panning – it has plenty of tilting – which seems completely extraneous in my opinion, but no way of actually looking ahead and to the sides.  If they were able to add the ability to tilt the plane and camera, could they not have added the ability to pan from side to side?

Level Design
I give great praise to the developers for this project, however, the action becomes very static because of poor level design.  There are two different types of environments – an open-space low flying terrain and a very tight-spaced interior corridor.  While interesting at first, these two types repeat over and over again giving the player a uninteresting sense of repetition and metronome-like expression.

Cut

 

Yeah! Another Corridor with Random Dudes Hanging Out

Boringness
Needless to say, the poor level design ultimately leads to repetitive gameplay and a general disinterest after a few levels.  The enemies rarely have any new tricks up their sleeves and the boards, aside from texture, look virtually the same as one another.  This game could have used serious boost about a third of the way through.

Total Eclipse is great when you first pop it in and start flying – after about ten minutes of crashing into the sides of walls and running out of life because you can find enough power-ups the player may quickly lose interest.  Take a look at this title, but don’t go out of your way to hunt it down.

Verdict: Borrow

Batman Returns

Last modified on 2012-10-11 20:06:20 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Konami 1993

Konami 1993

Batman Returns the video game roughly follows the plot of the Tim Burton movie of the same name.  Batman battles waves of villains, culminating with a fight to save Gotham from The Penguin’s reign of terror.  Oh yeah, Catwoman is around too to spice things up.

Keep:

Soundtrack: The creators wisely used Danny Elfman’s score from the film. It sets a nice mood throughout.

batman-returns-head-bash

is anything more cathartic than clown bashing?

3-D…sort of: The levels are mostly 2-D side scrolling but occasionally break the mold to let you move up and down!  How quaint.   Tossing a henchman sideways into a department store window is one of the more enjoyable gameplay features.

Environment Destruction: Mailboxes and other objects scattered about the levels can be smashed, preferably with a clown’s head

 

gotta fly!

Super Villains: The fights with Catwoman and The Penguin are a rewarding challenge, and a high point of the game.

Change:

Saves: This game is hard, specifically the boss fights.  The lack of a save option makes it that much worse.

batman-returns-batmobile

holy crappy driving game batman

Batmobile: Level 5 switches things up with a driving game.  It’s a nice change of pace, but just doesn’t work that well.  The mechanics seem off and this level is much easier than the rest of the game.

Weapons: Batman is known for his “wonderful toys”, but the gadgets in this game are poorly executed.  What’s up with the white-flash test tubes?

Cut:

Repetition: I know that repetitiveness comes with the beat ’em up genre, but I would like a bit more variety in my game.  The enemies are the same through every level.  Only the boss battles provide relief.

Movies turned into games are usually a disaster (see upcoming review of Total Recall), but Batman Returns bucks the trend. It’s a pretty typical beat ’em up, but the high production values make it stand out from the pack. If you’re a fan of the genre or Batman you should enjoy the game. It makes me looks forward to the upcoming Arkham Asylum that much more.

Verdict: Borrow

Gex

Last modified on 2012-10-12 18:39:12 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Gex, originally for the 3do, is a side scrolling masterpiece full of television-culture satire and humor.  Set in five different genres of television and movies, Gex must wander through each level and each world seeking out TV remotes to allow him to advance to the next stage.

Keep

Satire

Where Gex truly shines is in it’s criticism of our boob tube culture and the early nineties lack of overall concern for much outside our own personal bubbles.  Every reference, bad guy, boss, stage, and map are taken from an old TV show, Movie, or sound bite and spun in a way that satarizes and illuminates.  Were it not for these little bits of irony and insight, Gex would simply be just another side scroller.

Humor

Gex gets sucked into the TV by Rez, the evil ruler of this digital world and is forced to play though Rez’s choice of bad movies and television shows.  Just as many fat kids become funny to combat their awkward situation, Gex constantly cracks jokes and makes timely impersonations while playing through the various levels.  Although he can tend to repeat himself here and there, the quips and quotes really help to differentiate this game from any other.

Secrets

Since the days of The Legend of Zelda, secrets have always been a treasured aspect in video games.  Gex does not disappoint in this category.  Hidden throughout each world is a secret portal that gives the player the option to complete a challenge for extra lives.  If a high enough percentage is completed in each bonus level, the player is rewarded with an enigmatic piece of a remote.  Once the player has collected all the missing pieces of the remote, the sci-fi level becomes available.  Within this stage, it becomes clear just how much fun the developers were having.  The level “The Project” is a seemingly endless maze that holds tons of hidden content.  The puking developer who dies by gecko decapitation is just one example of the secrets waiting to be found here.

Change

Boss Battles

Although the boss battles in Gex fit in perfectly with the tone and atmosphere of the game (and are often pretty funny and sarcastic in their own right) they are way too easy.  The exception lies in the final boss battle with Rez, which as boss fights go, is up there with some of the better ones.  For such a long and interesting game, it would have been nice if the boss fights caused a little more anxiety and frustration.

Flies

Despite it’s original and unique spin on the genre, beneath the veneer, Gex is a platformer.  This is evidenced all to clearly by the collection of golden flies for extra lives.  Just as Mario collects coins and Sonic collects rings and Coolspot collect shameless 7-up logo dots – Gex collects flies.  Let me guess, 100 = extra life?  For a game that was as inventive as it was, we certainly could have done without the flies and expanded on some of the more interesting collectibles like the remotes, vhs tapes, and power-ups.

Cut

Really, Nothing

Gex works.  Everything in it is well thought out and well placed.  Besides a couple minor grievances, this game is top notch.  If you consider yourself a student of film and television culture, put Gex on your list of must-plays – you won’t be disappointed.

Just as Pixar makes films that are simultaneously for both children and adults, Gex is a game that may be visually appealing to children, but the underlying message is definitely aimed at adults.  It is obvious through playing this game that the developers had an enormous amount of fun making it and let loose their sardonic side. And although this game follows a formulaic set-up and progression, the content truly stands out as being unique and original.

Verdict: Rent

Quackshot: Starring Donald Duck

Last modified on 2012-10-11 20:12:59 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Sega 1991

Sega 1991

Donald is browsing Uncle Scrooge’s library when he stumbles on a treasure map.   In an effort to impress his lady, he throws on some Indiana Jones garb and hops a plane with Huey, Dewey, and Louie to find it.  Little does he know, Big Bad Pete is on his trail.

Keep

Locales: Lots of travel, including everything from Transylvania to a haunted Viking ship.  It adds variety to what could have been a monotonous game.

Non-Linear: Unlike most side-scrolling platform games, this one gives you some power over your path.  You are free to choose where to go, although you may have to do some backtracking to proceed at certain points.

Weapon Upgrades: Donald’s main weapon is a plunger gun with popcorn and bubble gum ammo as backup.  Did you really expect Donald to kill people?  You do get the chance to add different types of plungers to your arsenal to change up the gameplay.

Angry Duck: Anyone who’s seen a Donald Duck cartoon knows the dude has rage issues.  If you eat enough hot peppers in the game you can send him into a invincible fury.  Sort of like grabbing a star in Mario, only instead of a flashing Italian it’s a pants-less duck with pinwheel fists. duck003

Boss Fights: Each level has it’s own boss and each boss increases in difficulty as you proceed.  If you’ve read any of my previous reviews you’ll know I’m a big fan of the boss battle.  Classic gaming at it’s best.

Change

Controls:Precision is not the strong suit of this game. You will probably miss some jumps because of the poor controls.

Sound Effects:Basically there aren’t any. You get the background music and not much else.

strategic plunger placement

strategic plunger placement

Difficulty: I realize that it’s a game based on a Disney character and therefore targeted to children, but they still could have ramped it up a bit.  Not much of challenge to get through this one.

Cut

Daisy Duck: Donald can do better than a duck that only loves him when given jewels.

Quackshot is a solid 2-D platformer for the Genesis.  It doesn’t push any boundaries, but it works the genre conventions well.  It’s a fun little game with a nice, bright design.  Definitely worth a playthrough, but it’s quick and doesn’t offer much in the replay department.

Verdict: Borrow

Kung Fu

Last modified on 2012-10-12 18:53:11 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Kung Fu is one of those games that every gamer must own.  It is a crucial part of the library, much as scotch is for a connoisseur of fine liquors.  Although the story may be simple and the game is quick, the effect is everlasting.  Help me Thomas could not be a more finite or poigniant plea.  Scale 5 levels and get to the top of the tower as quick as possible and take down Mr. X before he does god knows what to your girl. (We all know what people with x’s in their names do to people…)  This game features a wide range of attacks and allows for great diversity in gameplay and playstyle – too bad you cannot steal the 1st boss’ sword.  Ultimately this is a game that you may only play once a year or so, but those five minutes a year are well worth the space on your bookshelf when a strong craving for kicking pixelated huggy-guys off-screen comes on.

Keep

Sylvia

Every story needs a love interest, and in this short – Sylvia is our only real reason for caring why we’re doing what we’re doing.  Somehow she can either project herself as a hallucinogenic vision to Thomas, or she can teleport him to the roof, where strangely enough is not where you find her.  Either way, Sylvia is as important to this game as are the black pixels surrounding Thomas’ waist that make him a bad ass.

Bosses

The diversity of the enemies helps to make this game interesting, however, it is the bosses that make this Kung Fu shine.  Each boss has his own strength/weakness that you must quickly learn or be destroyed.

Music

Perhaps this is personal bias that doesn’t belong in a review, but the music is brilliant.  The intro track creates an immediate sense of nostalgia and familiarity while the main music sets the stage for a hurried pace that echoes the urgency of the story (ok, ok so maybe that’s a little melodramatic, but this midi track rocks).

Change

Huggy-Bad-Guys

Most of the bad guys make sense (well maybe not the little midget dudes), but what’s with the main bad guys?  They run up and hug you?  And to top it off, somehow by them expressing their homoerotic love your health gets drained.  I guess Thomas must be extremely homophobic.  Give these guys the ability to attack – even if it’s just a punch or a kick.

Bees

Great concept, bad implementation.  Killer bees are an alluring enemy, but only when they actually attack.  This is one of the easiest enemies in the game and for some reason they’re near the end.  I guess it’s a lot to ask for nes standards to program the bees to fly in an erratic pattern?

Cut

Repetition

Kung Fu is a port from the arcade game Kung Fu Master and this point is overly apparent in the fact that the game is set up to repeat endlessly – most likely in order to suck quarters from poor 1980’s kids (I wonder how much the game actually cost back then?)  We don’t want to continue playing through the game over and over, saving Sylvia time after time – if the bitch doesn’t learn the first time, she’ll never learn if we keep bailing her out.  Give us some closure.  At least let us believe that they lived happily ever after for longer than 10 seconds.  Why else did we kick Mister X’s ass in the first place?

Verdict: Ebay it

Road Rash

Last modified on 2012-10-11 20:18:51 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Road Rash is one of those games that will forever be beloved by everyone as a true gem of its day.  The perfect blend of racing and violence, Road Rash pushed the proverbial envelope for what a racing game can offer.  Set in the grunge days of the early-mid 90’s, this game reflects counterculture, subculture, and the periods’ unwillingness to conform.  A progressive level system slowly reveals more to the five maps as you win races, earn money, get better bikes, and ultimately win it all.  Road Rash is an amazing game that changed what a racing game could offer – and it’s a game that EA needs to get off their asses and make next-gen.

Keep

 

Is there anything more satisfying?

Fighting
The most engaging and unique aspect of the game, fighting offers a new layer of gameplay and can simultaneously excite as you backfist someone off their bike or frustrate as you get sidekicked into a mailbox.  Various characters have weapons that you may either start off with if you choose to be that character, or you may steal from them during a race with a well timed punch.  The mix up of chains, clubs, and bats from both racers and cops as well as all the different punching and kicking options makes for a very dynamic way to make #1 become #10 very quickly.

Terrain
The game is played all throughout the beautiful state of California which is a great model because it offers such varied terrain – from mountains, to plains, ocean vistas, to cities – Road Rash delivers great scenery and changing landscapes.  The occasional option to split between paths offers even more choices for the player to make each race unique and stave off the boredom of riding the same race again and again.

Videos
At the completion of each race, be it through winning, losing, wrecking, or getting busted by the cops – you are greeted with a live action video.  These videos can be funny, sexy, angering, exciting and provide a real reward for the gamer no matter the outcome of the race.  Nothing’s better than the masochistic female cop who laughs as she sics her dogs after you.

Change

Sound Effects
The music is excellent in the game, which is great because it balances how poor the sound effects are.  Unfortunately the music does not play while you actually race; instead, you are forced to hear the humming of the bikes which play like one of those really bad Star Trek episodes where they meet some alien race that doesn’t know what music is…  They could have de-emphasized that with no complaints.

 

Why do all the cops have Irish names? Prejudiced bastards.

Wipeout/Cops
Although I respect the rationale, it’s still frustrating when you’ve just been racing for 15 minutes on the Pacific Highway level 5 and you have the finish line in sight – when all of a sudden you hit a shrub and fall through the sky and into the ocean – no getting up from that one.  As far as cops – it seems ironic that for a game that preaches fighting and combat, you essentially give up if a cop pulls up next to you while you’re off your bike.  Even more ironic when the cop pulls slightly past where you and your bike are, and you are able to ride up and kick his ass.  Give us the ability to drop those pigs when they pull up next to you.

Levels
This is a two edged sword.  I love the concept that you become intimately familiar with only five different maps that slowly become longer and longer races as the game progresses.  However, for that very reason, it seems like a way around creating unique and diverse maps per level.  I think a combination of the two would be best – maybe you alternate a set of 5 maps per every other level – this way you still become familiar with the levels, but you’re experiencing greater diversity in the level design.

Cut

Nothing
I believe that everything in this game belongs.  The atmosphere is great, the videos and animations are excellent, the characters are diverse and funny, the bikes are balanced, the racing is varied, the fighting is dynamic, and the overall sense from the game is a truly unique and exhilarating experience.

Verdict: Must Own

Monster in My Pocket

Last modified on 2012-10-11 20:20:10 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Why yes, I do have a monster in my pocket.

Why yes, I do have a monster in my pocket.

When the Monster in My Pocket toys came out in the early 90s, I should have been the target audience, but somehow I missed out. Too busy playing with my Thundercats I guess. So approaching the storyline for the first time, it seems that all the world’s monsters have shrunk. The good ones moved into a house with a teenager and the bads ones (led by Warlock) are out to cause trouble. Collect them all!

The NES game follows the comics’ plot loosely. Monster and Vampire are hanging out watching some TV when Warlock comes on and ruins their day. He informs them that he’s dispatched his henchmen and blah blah blah, you get the point.

Keep

Co-op Mode: Beating up waves of monsters is always more fun with a friend.

The show sucks.

This channel sucks.

Enemy Variety: There are a lot of different enemies in the game and most of them have their own unique attack. Your run of the mill ghosts, goblins and zombies all make an appearance but the real treat comes from the lesser used entities like Cerberus or Windingo.
Visuals: The levels are well designed and varied.
Most of the sprites are easily recognizable and the color scheme works nicely.

Change

Length: This game is crazy short even by NES standards. There are 7 levels but each level takes about 5 minutes to beat.
Character Choice II like that you’re given a choice to play as Frankenstein or Dracula (oops I mean “Monster” or “Vampire”), but I would prefer some more playable characters thrown into the mix.  Quite a few in the toy line could have been used.  Mummy with bandage power would have been awesome.

Insert "screwed" joke

Insert “screwed” joke

Sub-Bosses: I’m all about sub-boss fights but let’s make things interesting. The only thing that makes the bosses different than the standard bad guys is the amount of hits to kill them.
Controls: Punch or Jump? That’s it.  Each monster should have had a special ability.

Cut

Soundtrack: Why does a game based on monsters have such a cheerful soundtrack?  There is also a noticeable lack of sound effects.

Sometimes you can combine a popular comic/toy/cartoon fad with a video game and the results are great (see TMNT: The Arcade Game).  But most of the time you end up with something resembling Monster in My Pocket–punching and jumping your way through without any real challenge or reward.  It’s not a terrible game; it’s just not substantial in any way.

Verdict: Borrow

Rayman 2: The Great Escape

Last modified on 2012-10-11 20:23:54 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Rayman 2 Cover

Ubisoft 1999

The evil robot pirate Razorbeard has destroyed the world’s core and is enslaving the populace.  It’s up to our armless, legless, neckless hero, Rayman to stop him.  To do so he must travel through a variety of levels collecting pieces of the core (aka lums), beating up on some pirates, and awakening the one person who can banish the evil.  This same plot could fit any number of platforming games but the skill with which Ubisoft exectued these events and the enjoyment Rayman provides are heads and shoulders above the competition.  Let’s get on with things, shall we?  Or as Rayman would say: Op nonk wip gab zabble. Babo wo ney.

Keep

Supporting Cast: A large cast of friends is on hand to make Rayman’s journey a bit easier.  They infuse the game with a sense of humor and spice things up along the way.

Collectibles: There are at least 50 lums to collect in each level as well as cages to find.  These increase your energy bar and add details to the storyline.  You don’t need to collect all of them to progress but you will need them if you want to unlock bonus levels.  A nice way to give the game some replay value.

Variety: Ill-contented to just have platform jumping for 18 levels, Ubisoft has provided a wide variety to the gameplay:  swimming, flying, rocket-barrel-riding, water skiing and more keep the gameplay fresh and exciting.Shell Ride

Graphics: The graphics on the Dreamcast look great.  Colors are bright and crisp and the environments are well rendered.  The cartoonish color palette fits the feel of the game perfectly.

Sound: The sound effects in Rayman are top notch.  Whether it’s the gibberish language or the cries of help from unseen cages, sound makes the world feel truly alive.  The soundtrack provides the right mood for the moment and doesn’t get annoying like some old school themes can.

Change

Enemies:

Razorbill...er beard

Razorbill…er beard

Specifically the lack of.  The entire game would have benefited from more bad guys being thrown at our hero, but what’s sorely missed is boss battles.  There are only two in the whole game.  Weak.

Linear…ness: While you can go back to previous levels to search for more lums, most of the game is Rayman is stuck advancing on a set path.  With the exception of a few levels that require more powers, most could be played at any time with the same results.  The gameplay would have benefited from a more open world that let players choose their own paths.

Difficulty: I never really felt in danger of dying during Rayman.  Most of the enemies are easily dispatched and with the exception of some mistimed jumps you shouldn’t have a problem staying alive.

Cut

Nothing: I can’t think of a single thing that feels extraneous in this game.  It all works so well together that removing anything would cripple the whole.

Rayman 2: The Great Escape is one of the best platform games ever made.  It’s fun from start to finish.  I frequently found myself smiling at what occured on screen–something I can’t say happens during most games.  It has quirky characters, great controls and a tried and true storyline.  The best way I can sum up this game is, they just don’t make ’em like this anymore.  Cliche, yes.  True, absolutely.

Verdict: Must Own

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