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Crawler! (Windows 3.x)

Crawl Out of the Yardwork

The Good
Here is a game, which has a basic objective, get your caterpillar to eat all the plants, yard by yard. Each yard brings out a new challenge with fewer spaces to cater for the ever-growing caterpillar. Thankfully you do get some bonus items to simmer down the otherwise aggravating difficulty, such as extra lives, shortening scissors, and others. And then there’s the option to get rid of the rocks if they are making the game a little too unfair. The sprite work has a nice mix of dithered floor textures and flat coloured objects.

The Bad
With a simple game comes the misfortune of bad controlling to ruin a good gaming experience. You can only use the left and right mouse buttons to steer the caterpillar. For driving games two buttons for clockwise and counter-clockwise work okay, but most Snake variants use directional buttons to determine which way the elongated character goes, so you’re likely to get confused and steer it the wrong way and crash, wasting your precious limited lives. It’s like left is down, up is right, and all that. While the help file does say that the game is keyboard compatible, this isn’t true at all. Every attempt to make it work with the game gets the player nowhere.

Adding to the frustration is the discrete jumpy frame rate, which makes you steer your caterpillar out of sync with bad timing, either one square too soon or too late.

The Bottom Line
Just when you think you’ve seen all the Snake variants in gaming, new and obscure ones seem to pop and crawl out, just like this one. Not the most balanced of games to go on your desktop, but if you love a good high score as much as an arcade gamer, it’s your way to go, assuming you can grab a copy and get it running on your PC. With caterpillars taking the stage on a Snake game, what comes next? Leeches? Earthworms? Giraffes? Surprise us.

By Kayburt on April 22, 2024

River Tails: Stronger Together (Windows)

Amphibious Sort of Game

The Good
The game opens with one of the sweetest and well done animated sequences, purely inviting you to play. It seems like you're watching a Retro Charlie Brown cartoon blended with a DreamWorks CGI film. Everything about the graphics looks as smooth and flowing as water and not just the bodies of water, but the character animation and overall textures. Even the music tunes bring out the mood and drama at a comfortable pace.

While playing the game, the dynamic camera angles pan and shift just enough to focus on the player character at just the right speed. The camera even performs well on the two player offline mode. Whether you are playing as Fynn and Furple, the character feels comfortable to control and trigger actions. The characters are never obscured thanks to transparency in the textures. And speaking of transparency, there's a lot of satisfaction to finding hidden places where you think there's a solid wall, encouraging exploration.

The Bad
While the camera motions work as they need to, the only issue is that you can't reliably try to backtrack due to fixed direction, though you won't need to for the most part. The biggest disappointment is that you absolutely must have a controller to play the game in single-play. It's kind of off-putting if you're accustomed to keyboards and definitely not off to a great start. If you are playing this by yourself, a lot of concentration is needed to work with the fish and the cat at the same time. Impractical, but not impossible.

The Bottom Line
Throughtout the years there have been great games that require Teamwork like Bugs Bunny & Taz: Time Busters, and awful ones like Cookie & Cream for Nintendo DS. This game falls into the good list. It all goes to show you that you don't need vocalised dialogue in a game, even today to bring out quality. Fans of the Crash Bandicoot series will definitely get some joy out of this one. Console players would give anything to see and play this one on their choice of platform. I guess we can only dream and play when given the chance. This is game you can definitely play to bond with your best friend.

By Kayburt on April 20, 2024

Ardennes Offensive (Windows)

A Pain in the Game is Worth Two in the Butt

The Good
What's this title got for you? To put it bluntly new levels, new effects (including explosions that mimic the Death Star explosion), some blood effects that float in the air, objects you can shoot, and new music tracks. In the third mission, you do have a humorous encounter with an under dressed soldier in one of the bathrooms. Finished with the compliments? Let's move on to the rotten meat and underdone potatoes of the game.

The Bad
Being more like an expansion pack to Airborne Hero D-Day Frontline 1944, it suffers pretty much the same gameplay flaws and poor quality graphics. More of the new that is the same, as it were. To recap you have an awful control scheme, uneven enemy AI, big lack of ammo and health supplies, no auto-reloading, the slow patient moving of the player character, and tedious mission objective formulas. The winter weather effects now make enemy ambushes a hell of hurt to your health, not to mention the number of times they hit you before you can. It makes the Nightmare difficulty of Doom tame by comparison. And if that wasn't enough, the fifth mission has trees that upon getting close, catapult you in the air and force you to fall and take a ton of damage.

The Bottom Line
It's unbelievable that this winter cousin of Airborne Hero D-Day came out the same year and its just as bad. It's practically a whole world war against gamers. Asylum could have almost made a hundred bad games like this with the same engine, but luckily this is where the series ends. It is fortunate that the PlayStation, Xbox, Sega and Nintendo consoles were not soiled by this monstrosity. This title does not test your gaming skills or give you true appreciation for 3D games, but hurts the mind and fries the brain. Don't give this game a try, you'll quicky regret it. I can't veto this game enough, it's here whether we dislike it or hate it. Well no Asylum Game's getting in my door, so there you have it.

By Kayburt on April 14, 2024

Montezuma's Revenge (PC Booter)

Montezuma’s Review of all time

The Good
The SMS version pleasantly opens with a vastly coloured title screen playing some Indiana Jones theme remix, followed by a little cutscene with the “Mexican Hat Dance” tune, and finally a text introduction of the current level, which also hints what is different from the previous level, with little gimmicks now and again, especially the parachute. The real challenge is the next level will always be familiar to you, and at the same time it won’t be.

Even with the same colour scheme being used through the levels, the details are eye-catching and just the right amount to keep the screen interesting and give the right amount of visual feedback during the gameplay. Even the sprite animations are decently fluid and don’t look stiff in any frame.

The Bad
Quality of the visuals and gameplay are apparent. Audio cues on the other hand get boring after a while, especially when collecting the treasure and hearing the “La Cucaracha” jingle time and time again. Even though this game is set in Mexico, the game makers could have at least tried to put more tunes like “Besame Mucho”. No matter, what you hear is what you get, turn off the sound if it becomes a pain.

The Bottom Line
This was quite the interesting port of he game. Those who played the computer and early console versions of the game might not recognise this conversion. Panama Joe really stands out among the fictional archaeologists next to Alabama and Nevada Smith. If you want the best experience in Montezuma’s Revenge, the Master System port does it best.

By Kayburt on March 6, 2024

Operation Thunderstorm (Windows)

On Board with the Storm

The Good
The starts with a straightforward narrative and the player dives into a not-so-elaborate plot with the objective of killing three senior Nazi officers. There's no explanation how you get to the enemies' vicinity or how you escape them from inbound reinforcements, and there doesn't need to be. The stage for the game is set with decent presentation and clear narration.

For it's time the game meets the graphical features you can expect such as dynamic shadows, dim and bright lighting, solid textures, water effects, and plenty of decor and props. As a bonus you can see your left foot and leg if you look downwards. The music can be a bit repetitive, but otherwise fits the mood of the current mission. Ambient sounds like ticking clocks, bring some life into the atmosphere.

The mouse interface works exactly the way it should with icons showing the doors you can interactive with. You have the option to either open the door carefully or just burst it open, depending on your preference. And there's a decent selection of guns you can use against enemies. The Karabiner 98k is ridiculously overpowered, you can eliminate your opponents with a single arm or leg shot. What's even cooler is that when hugging a corner, you can blindly shoot around it with the arrow indicator icon to guide you. You also have a generous number of checkpoints.

The Bad
While the graphical abundance is praiseworthy, there is very little you can interactive with. At best you can smash bottles with your weapons. There aren't even any secrets in the game, just the occasional weapons cache. Not all-round exciting, as the game is rather combat-heavy, seeing as you can't retain your stealthy presence for very long. It also feels like the one-time features such as NPC prisoners were wasted on being there just to carry the plot.

Controls are all but perfect. Jumping can be a little stingy, so don't count on it to get you over gaps and up high places. The only way you can go prone is to orient the camera downwards while crouching, which is confusing and stops you from effectively aiming in that position. And why would you ever want to use the bayonet knife as a weapon, when you already have the ability to do a melee attack with the selected gun?

The Bottom Line
A quick look at this game might put off most fans of Call of Duty and Wolfenstein, but it does make for a good break from well-known franchises. Nobody ever said that a World War 2 game ever had to follow historical events. Some might disappointed that there wasn't a final showdown against the Fuhrer, but I guess you can't win em' all. This might be Empire Interactive's best World War 2 FPS with some particular qualities not seen in most low budget FPS games. Not an overly disappointing title and worth a try.

By Kayburt on February 2, 2024

Texas Hold 'Em Poker (Game Boy Advance)

Poker on Texas style!

The Good
As soon as you start up the game, you're immediately greeted by the simplest menu you get in a game. You get the opportunity to practice or take the plunge for a career, rising through the ranks. It's plesantly surprising to find out how much atmosphere the perfectly composed casino jazz music and the dealer's voice bring straight out of the Game Boy Advance to your eyes and ears. As far as gameplay goes, it emulates all rules and strategies of poker as you would expect. Despite the small screen size, the game does a good job of keeping you informed of the bets, pot and the poker pattern you stand to get. Smashing good fun.

The Bad
Being the simple structured game that this is, it does suffer from the lack of multiplayer for other players and the career mode doesn't feel that much like a career, lacking in ways to spend that hard-earned money of yours, such as luxuries. Well what you see is what you get, nothing else to add.

The Bottom Line
Even with the shortcomings that prevent this game getting a player's full satisfaction, this game does not mess around. It's like your playing a real high stakes poker tournament. In a little portable gaming device, it's all in the fun. It goes to show you just how risky real life gambling is. I say stay away from casinos and invest in this bonus gem. It's certainly earned its keep in anyone's collection.

By Kayburt on January 28, 2024

7554 (Windows)

Cattle Fodder to the Slaughter

The Good
Graphically the game is decent with realistic scenes and settings, some weather effects, shadows, and good textures for water, fire and smoke. Music that accompanies isn't too much, but otherwise okay. Included in between missions is a historical narrative for those interested. And that is all it has to offer, no surprise there.

The Bad
The entire gameplay is pretty much an obstacle due to the sluggish movement of the player character, the slow and patient reloading of ammo, the very short stamina level, the red screen dragging on when trying to recover, and the wastage of ammo when reloading due to reloading in clips and mags instead of individual bullets. The dumbest decision for the game is having both a melee weapon and a dedicated melee button. Likewise there is the ability to select your grenades or use the dedicated button to throw them. Having both types of mechanics serve only to confuse you when you're trying to fight the enemy.

The objectives you get don't feel at all interesting variety wise. You're basically hitting out at the enemy and making a run for it with only the occasional covering fire. With very little in the way of ammo pickups, you'll find yourself scavenging arms from fallen foes. So in a nutshell, this is nothing less than a vicious cycle of hit-run-hit-run-hit-run. It becomes the polar opposite in some missions, which really isn't a good formula.

The Bottom Line
The game is slow is so many ways, it will quickly put off many shooter gamers. Often when one tries to emulate real life war in a video game to the full extent, the game's code tends to put the worst restrictions from making it a fun shooter. If anyone says or thinks Call of Duty is better, then enough has been said. On the other hand, it does feel like the precursor to the modern story-driven Call of Duty World War II games with bad execution. It doesn't really matter how historically accurate or inaccurate it is, this one is so forgettable. Just keep this title well out of your ironsights.

By Kayburt on January 20, 2024

Star Wars: Jedi Knight II - Jedi Outcast (Windows)

Katarn Darkens the Parade

The Good
There are many good elements faithful to the Dark Forces series, including a decent variety of weapons, large and numerous levels, objectives to follow, a plethora of Empire enemies to gun down, well-hidden secrets, Force powers, some lightsaber fights, and of course Kyle Katarn himself. The innovative storyline draws you like a Force Pull to play the next level after the next, just so you can get more of that intriguing experience. After the first few levels of running and gunning, it feels rewarding to be a Jedi again. And as a Jedi, it feels so satisfying to slice the Reborn Sith in those dramatic slow motion moments. I’m not sure Force Grip and Force Lightning are in line with the Jedi way, but there you have it.

Adding to the impressive arsenal, you get a few nifty little gadgets such as miniature droids. And there are times when you get to actually be a droid to access places Kyle cannot. And while you have opportunities to fight AT-STs, there is a level where you can actually commandeer a couple of them. Every level has its own gimmicks, one of them being stealth if you could even call it that since you’ll end up killing enemies to progress anyway. Help from NPCs is welcome and does even the odds.

The Bad
While many of the controls are standard, the ability to lean left and right with the Use key is useless, because you can’t shoot while in this mode. It’s better to use the third-person perspective for a better view. The running and jumping feels very floaty and not in a good way. Often you’ll find yourself stumbling before you can make a successful Force Jump, leading to more unfair deaths than Anakin did to his victims. Falls are going to be your number one enemy throughout the game. Those problems were not abundant in the original Dark Forces, in which you had better movement control. The worst element in the game is the level that requires you to swim in zero-gravity which is such a broken mechanic that keeps getting Kyle killed.

And speaking of broken, the shooting in this game often works against you because when enemies move, you’ll miss a lot, a big problem if you’re accustomed to hitscan guns. And there are times when you fire while you’re up close to the enemy, but the shots don’t seem to connect, as if they are phasing through. If all else fails, just stick to using your lightsaber. And you’d better learn how to use the thermal detonators properly, because you’ll blow yourself up if you tap the right-mouse button too lightly. Lastly the Light Amplification Goggles are pretty useless due to the obscurity of your field of vision and running out of battery power relatively quickly. The Night Vision Goggles from Dark Forces were heaps better.

The levels themselves are not perfect. The action they pack is fine, but the real issue is some of the puzzle elements, which often put first time players in multiple “Where the heck do I go?” situations, because you need to perform very specific actions to progress with little in the way of clues on exactly what to do. These elements may work in a Lucasarts adventure game like Maniac Mansion, but this attempt to make the game more interesting, it doesn’t work in the same way a tomb Raider does. And with the number of hazards and ambushing enemies that keep hurting you, you’re going to slam the Force Heal power quite a bit, which hurts the fun factor. And I almost forgot the most obvious problem, you can’t skip cutscenes or even the end credits, adding to wasted time.

The Bottom Line
While the gameplay runs okay for most of the game, the physics have a lot to be desired. The combat mechanics and gadgets from Dark Forces weren’t very well emulated as they could have been. Even being faithful to the Star Wars lore and packed with the desired amount of action, it does feel like Lucasarts was trying too hard to make this game good. It shows through the numerous and differing levels. And in regards to baffling puzzles, if I wanted that in a game, I would have picked a point-and-click Star Wars adventure game, which sadly does not exist. One way or another, you’ll adapt to the game and learn to love it, especially if you like shooters and Star Wars. Battling the Empire and Sith never gets dull, so enjoy from start to finish.

By Kayburt on January 16, 2024

Magical Drop III (Game Boy Color)

Half a port of Magical Drop, Half a port of Gameplay

The Good
On such a small screen with 15-bit colors, the likeness of the arcade’s anime art and sprites are captured perfectly. The opening sequence looks very inviting. The layouts are also faithful to how the original game looked. With the difficulty levels to choose from, the gameplay is smooth and the controls are responsive, just right for the handheld. But when the getting seems good, pop goes the game.

The Bad
Of the sixteen characters that featured in the third game of the series, this port literally has only half of those characters being playable, no unlockable characters. There’s no discernible differences between those characters on the menu, no tarot number, and no ball pattern style, just the character name. And no matter how far you get into the game, you’ll never see the character’s ending. An utter letdown.

And while the gameplay is good, the variety is not. All you get is the endless mode and the two-player versus modes. There is just a boring black background in the game. That is pretty much all there is. Your only goal is to get a high score.so many features from the original have been stripped. It isn’t as if putting the full features of the arcade version into this port was impossible. With some lessons from Capcom’s Magical Tetris Challenge, they could have easily implemented the one-player versus CPU mode, plus the Magical Journey mode. All we got here is a super rushed port.

The Bottom Line
The portability of this game proved to be a liability. It offers far less than any of the other ports. While the Game Boy Color does have some limitations, this port dropped the magical ball. Maybe if this port was based off the first Magical Drop title, that would have been forgivable, but to base it off the third title bare-bone is disappointing. With the game retailing at an average of $20, it’s not worth the purchase. You’re better off spending that amount of money in quarters for the arcade version. Otherwise scrounge for some extra cash for one of the console ports. Not one of Data East’s best.

By Kayburt on January 4, 2024

Go! Go! PogoGirl (Windows)

The Pogo's on You

The Good
The graphics within the game are clear and presentable, they could easily make what you see on screen look like a Sega Genesis game on a modern console. The little animations are so fluid and lively. It's really cute how PogoGirl's ponytail sways and wiggles in time to moving and jumping. And some of the enemies resemble foes from the Bubble Bobble series. The sound effects also seem match the old retro feel. Combined with the awesome energetic soundtrack, this is giving Sonic the Hedgehog reminders and feels. When diving in water, the music sounds sort of Low Pass filtered as if you've got water in your ears.

Gameplay is really easy to get into and comfortable to play. You get this gentle learning curve from helpful tips and simplified layouts, with the game getting fairly and progressively hard. For a pogo jumping game with this rad N' bad moveset, you feel like you're using a bouncy jackhammer for a pogo stick, giving you the powerful edge. And you can even bounce on water.

The Bad
The backgrounds tend to suffer from distortion as you move, which reduces the smoothness of the visuals. And the graphic tileset has that samey look as you go from level to level. The game could have done with different walls and backgrounds instead of the same ones in different shadings. It's a little irritating that your character dies in one hit, but the groovy moveset and adequate checkpoints more than compensate.

The Bottom Line
In this day and age, pixelated plaforms are getting a good amount of the respect as they had in the previous century. A fun little bump N' jump platformer that won't easily disappoint, especially if you relish those good old times. And if you're feeling daring and adventurous, seek to get all the achievements. Any planned sequel to the game could easily work as a 3D isometric platformer. This is how the newest Commander Keen game should have been instead of the disappointing mini-game that it came out as.

By Kayburt on December 30, 2023

Ratyboy Adventures (Nintendo Switch)

Misadventures in the Midst

The Good
Is there anything nice you can say about this game? It has graphics, sounds, music, gameplay and a 3D perspective, which isn't really saying anything. Where's simplicity in a game of today, there's a simple HUD that doesn't cover the screen. Very desirable. Don't waste too much time trying to find good in the game.

The Bad
Graphically the game is a plain eyesore on every flat texture and colour surface. The rooms look like cheap knockoffs of Andy Davis' house from Toy Story. What makes those graphics so incomplete is hitting a ceiling allows you to see through the game's boundaries into the white emptiness of nothing. Talk about lack of gametesting. Even Ratyboy doesn't look cute at all, being the furless mouse person that he is.

What is bad at first sight is also bad at first noise. The one and only music track is just cranked up PC-Speaker like tunes straight from a corroded sound chip. To tie with the bad tunes are the most obnoxious and repitive sounds your console can discharge you: "Hup" jumping, footsteps, blips, more footsteps, it just repeats itself like it's the only broken record on the player.

Gameplay here defines the exact opposite of a zen meditative genre, simply called "laden unreflective". All you do is shuffle around like an accident-prone plantigrade trying to collect stars in big spaces and of course the one thing no house can resist - blocks and lots of cheese, no surprise there. Climbing and navigating around the giant furniture is not fun at all and requires very specific paths to get higher. It's obvious Ratyboy isn't a member of the Super Mario or Lara Croft clubs. With that summing up the game, what can you even do with all those controls on your Nintendo Switch? Easier to play this an Atari joystick.

The Bottom Line
There's bare minimum effort put into this game. It's more fun to use a Virtual Boy as an outboard motor. This one of dozens of house mouse games we've seen again and forever. When exactly do they wear out their welcome in your game collection? Hopefully the instant the trailer shows. If anyone wants a proper rodent perspective, that's what "Rat Simulator" is for.

You'd think games like those could only exist when 3D games were in their infancy in the 90s. This 3D mockbuster, makes early 3D games look amazing today. The Nintendo Switch deserves better games as opposed to a game that makes the console look awkward. It's no surprise that reviews are nowhere to be found on the internet, because this game essentially doesn't deserve one. You'll never cherish your money's worth in this one. Glad we didn't get a physical game card version of the game, cos it would be sure to waste space on your shelf.

By Kayburt on December 30, 2023

Fausseté Amour (TurboGrafx CD)

Chicks in Armour Take Your Pick

The Good
The game has a pretty epic opening, just asking you to get started. When you do, the intro sequence is not just graphical and narrated, but showing exactly what you'll be up against from stage to stage. Music is a mixed bag of jelly babies with heavy metal, pop, jazz and classical tunes, which is unusual but welcoming in a fantasy game. Graphics are rich and colourful enough to take in and there it comes as a surprise that the armour Koruku wears doesn't cover every inch of her body, nothing eyebrow raising, but it's there.

Gameplay is simple and straightforward. Koruku can do a lot in platforming, including multidirection attacks, swinging and latching on to platforms, spin attacks and flailing attacks with projectiles. You can't go wrong very easily. So many of those mechanics almost allude to other games such as the armour shedding being like Ghosts n' Goblins and the grappling chain akin to Bionic Commando. Difficulty is so fair, that even the bosses can be defeated in a short amount of time.

The Bad
While the cutscenes are somewhat entertaining to watch, they look a little rough and unrefined with a mixture of coloured outlines and black outlines, both inconsistent and making the game look a little unfinished, as if done in a hurry. Also the character faces have only a few frames of animation, but no variety of facial expressions. Not to mention that there is a lack of parallax background scrolling. This is the kind of pixely art style you would expect from the last decade on a PC-88 and not a CD-based game. And while audio is plentiful, there's no subtitles as an option, so you might miss what is being said if you're not fluent in Japanese.

The Bottom Line
The game is easy on players of all ages and great to play from start to end. However it doesn't really deliver enough to make it re-playworthy. There might enough content in this came to make it worth turning into an hour long anime film, but this game is too overlooked and obscured to get that kind of special attention. If you want to play something that is different from any franchise and series, this is an okay time killer, but as nothing new is going to come out of it I'd say that this title is only as good as it gets and not much better. Kudos to this one for what it brings on the table or should I say screen.

By Kayburt on November 19, 2023

Royal Match (iPhone)

Match Dog Match

The Good
If you ever wanted to be in a magic kingdom to decorate, that’s what you’ll get when you first start up the game. So far as gameplay goes, this bejeweled clone introduces a multitude of ways you can get rid of onjects. Rewards for both following the main game and side game competition makes More consolation prizes that you can win

The Bad
The biggest obstacle is in the overly sensitive touch controls. One wrong move can spoil your game, especially if there is a winning streak involved. One small tap can set off an explosive that you meant to merge or move. Wouldn’t be a problem if double tapping existed. And dragging an object requires a lot of planning because you can’t suspend the movement, even if your finger is held down. Why isn’t there an undo move function? It’s common element where precision is required.

Luck is the definite element involved, where you need favorable random objects to be the desired colour in the desired alignment. You’ll have to grind through the harder levels and pray for a good outcome if you want to win the harder levels. Also try to conserve your money.

The Bottom Line
This game is a fun way to pass the time. It also serves as a test of patience to an intolerable level where only pot luck can help you progress in the harder left. Decent challenge if you try to ignore the luck factor involved. A balance of fun and frustration. Know your limits for playing the game. You’re playing a dangerous game, which can cost you more as it goes on.

By Kayburt on October 26, 2023

Secret Agent HD (Windows)

Let the gun do the playing!

The Good
Once you’ve opened up the game, say hello to the new VGA-esque colours and textures, which do a fantastic job of bringing out better blending of sprites and objects with the backgrounds, and are easy on the eyes. The music tracks that mimic the Adlib chiptunes capture the theme of daring, danger, and determination as you play the levels.

The new content of the game doesn’t end here. After experiencing the first three episodes with some visual flavour added to the cutscenes, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find a fourth episode packed with new features and abilities, including a proper final boss encounter with Doctor Nobody himself. All those episodes can be played in not one, but three difficulties for any player’s comfort. And for endless enjoyment, what better way to top this game off with a level editor, a leaderboard, episode statistics, and achievements.

The Bad
Where to start, many previous problems are fixed such as minor adjustments made to the levels, where they have been panned unfair by players of the original Secret Agent. Most existing issues such as a temporary pair of running shoes being essential to reach an optional area in one of the levels are usually the fault of the player for lack of planning and scanning the surroundings.

The only real problem is the optional CGA mode once you’ve earned it. The choice of colours doesn’t seem well done, just the usual white, magenta, cyan and black, but no extra detail to compensate for straight up colour swaps. Maybe the developers could have thrown in CGA Composite mode as well. A finishing touch could have been adding Soundblaster effects instead of the old PC Speaker blips. Too bad there’s no way to bring this title to real hardware of the early 90s.

The Bottom Line
This game came out as a wonderful surprise for PC players everywhere. For those who grew up with the original Secret Agent, they can relive the experience like never before. For those new to the Apogee line of games, this game is a good investment where advanced games are too pricey and have demanding system requirements. You don’t have to have 3D perspective and tons of colour, effects and audio to enjoy gaming today. What was playable in the 90s can be brought back for round two, now that the gaming retro trend is catching up. If this had been released a year after the original game, this would have been a commercial success. Give this title the love you can and become a small part of something special.

By Kayburt on October 24, 2023

Moujya (Arcade)

Put your Yen where your Yare is

The Good
Mixing and matching is a pretty novel element that can be implemented in an arcade game. We’ve seen that in Money Puzzle Exchanger , and it worked really well, so why not put it into a Puyo Puyo table?

Well the gameplay mechanics actually work okay with the ability to rotate the pair of coins in both directions, even when they are wedged between two columns. You can also rotate them when they are suspended above the coins they are about to land on for a brief moment. And for a little bit of relief from the obstacle cats with shades, you get a dog to make them vanish by pressing both rotation buttons together. Adding to the game are among the cutest and wackiest anime cats, making for good presentation, though nothing in the way of plot. Still it adds to charm. Hold your breath for the negatives, because at this point it will all come crashing down.

The Bad
Having briefly touched on the gameplay mechanics, the worst of the worst is about to unfold, no exaggeration. When you’ve barely started the game, you’ll notice that the upcoming coins fall increasingly rapidly as the game goes on. In about a minute or two, the game reaches stupidly fast speeds that you can’t match.

And that’s only half the frustration. Those obstacle cats with shades will hinder and mock your every attempt to make a chain reaction. They keep following your stacks, pile up, spam the screen, and never go away. With the machine-like movements and cat-like reflexes of the CPU an opponent, it feels like it’s cheating, you have no hope of getting through the game in one or even a few tries. It’ll keep throwing egg in your face after every continue. Even with emulator save states, there’s no going around the complex difficulty curveballs that keep coming.

The Bottom Line
Everyone likes a good game of Tile-Matching to kill time and put their mind at ease. Moujya satisfies neither of those desires. This game goes from push to shove off the edge when it comes to the horrendous difficulty, which breaks the scale tenfold. This game could easily get through 20 grand worth of quarters if it were released in the USA. Between the cute anime cats and the number of retries to beat your opponent, the game’s only aim is to straight up insult the player’s best efforts. Every playthrough I’ve seen on video has taken hours to complete. An arcade game which is ungenerous is not fun to play in the long run and goes against everything you know about gaming. Find yourself a getaway car, drive as far as possible, and don’t return until the developers decide to make the game fair.

By Kayburt on October 17, 2023

Metal Stoker (TurboGrafx-16)

Taking a Skate

The Good
Open up this game into a futuristic setting. It really shows with those vibrant textures, strobe-like lights, and computer-styled interfaces with generous amounts of shadows and 3-D angles for polish. There's so much careful attention to detail in every level. Each level also plays fast-paced tunes, letting you know that you're in constant combat.

Gameplay is difficult as expected in typical arcade-style video game titles, yet the controls are so easy to utilize. You can play in the fashion of a multi-directional and a scrolling shooter (using the strafing lock) as you please. Some levels will be mazes, while a few others have an open-world feel. You have a nice selection of five weapons which you can power up in between levels if you have the stock. It's fun to experiment to see which weapon types work best in different situations.

The Bad
Even with such flawless gameplay and mechanics, what the game doesn't do is let you know what your next target to destroy is, to avoid aimlessly wandering around. Other desired elements would be a health meter for bosses and a password system to continue from a point. Leaving the little inconveniences behind, this is quite the solid game that has no frustration to put you through and nothing remotely unfair. The only issue is that its quite short and no variation for every new game.

The Bottom Line
This game sports sci-fi vibes of difficult shooters from Super Famicom and Sega Megadrive, but this title sadly never made it to either of those systems, it just stood alone below those two. If you've played a hundred shooters your arcade days, this one just might surprise you greatly. You would never guess the game's goodness from its title and cover, so don't judge, just pick it up and play it. A fun and packed shooter for any gamer.

By Kayburt on September 24, 2023

Gomola Speed (TurboGrafx-16)

Snake of the Future

The Good
Starting this game quickly teaches you the game mechanics as you go for a nice welcoming introduction to play the game comfortably without immediate confusion. This is basically the next generation of Snake with a nice slice of Pac-Man. Forget everything you know about simple arcade games, because this one really spices up the fun and puzzle factors. This is just an amazing snake you can work with because you can travel in pretty much any direction, compress your snake, and not worry about collision with yourself or any wall. With a few enemy inconveniences, you just put yourself back together and you're good to go. As you lasso and bomb your way through the levels, each new level will introduce a new gimmick, which will prompt you to want to play the next level. There's mazes, bosses, hidden goals, teleporters, power-ups and much, much more. You could spend hours with this good old arcade style home game.

Graphics are just right with some cyber metallic looking textures, some 3-D angled walls, fantastic lighting effects and a decent variety of level layouts. There's even some presentable anime-esque pictures in between some of the levels. The fast-paced music tracks intensify the mood of the game.

The Bad
While the gameplay is in the best state for players, some parts of the game could do with some finer tuning. Three credits may be just enough for experienced players, but the increasing difficulty would only make players yearn for more continues. Also there's no menu in the opening screen, so accessing the password screen to skip levels cannot be done directly. And be sure to pay attention to your surroundings or you might find that you're short of one snake segment and have to traverse the whole level to retrieve it. Not enough in this game to actually make you rage quit, so that's a bonus.

The Bottom Line
You've played Snake no doubt. You've played Pac-Man for sure. However this hybrid of the two is a largely forgotten TurboGrafx classic that sadly never made its way to American audiences. It is not an exaggeration to say that this maybe the best game of its kind, all stored on a single HuCard. The title is probably not so catchy and the only elephant in the room, but absolutely nothing to stop you playing. Even with the little frustrations present, the game cannot really be broken, it's solid, it's funtastic, and it's waiting for players to get their fingers into action. If this one makes it to Virtual Console, you'll make the right choice downloading this title.

By Kayburt on September 22, 2023

Dragon City (Android)

Waste n’ Shame

The Good
There is plenty to do throughout this game. Hatch, raise, feed and mate your dragons so you can make more of them. The designs of those dragons are cute and eye catching and there’s never a shortage of breed variety. It can be fun to experiment to make new hybrids and see what powers they can gain as they grow. Apart from the little mini-games that throw in a generous amount of treats and rewards, the main highlight of the game is the arena where you can simply have your dragons battle other dragons, pretty much akin to Pokémon battles. Learn the strengths and weaknesses of the dragons and grind your way to get even more rewards. Getting those rewards is like getting pocket money, so make the most of them.

The Bad
With such cute little dragons abundant, what could possibly go wrong? It’s blatantly obvious when you get into the game. You open the game up - adverts. You get into a mini-game - adverts. Your dragon gains a level - adverts. Too many adverts just plastering your screen and rudely interrupting your gameplay, which is a tad disrespectful. Those adverts also border the playing area, which is a complete mess as it deprives you of your view of the islands.

While you have the freedom to fight in the arena as many times as you like, the other mini-games are severely limited by the tokens which you have to gain by doing nothing but waiting for your gold and food to raise before you collect them, killing an otherwise comfortable flow. It’s like a snooker game which takes fifteen hours per turn. Altogether this rips out all the fun from the whole game itself.

The Bottom Line
Dragon City. What a wonderful place you would love to be in. Just how can you resist with all the cute little hatchlings asking the player to be their mommy? Well the limitations for the game are not encouraging. Those adverts that pop up all the time ar doing the exact opposite of what they are intended for - they are making me want NOT to buy. This kind of commercial practice is worse than an arcade quarter munching machine, because you don’t have the freedom to play, no matter how good you are. The developers should take it from players. They don’t care about the adverts, they don’t care about what they get out of spending, it’s all about playing the game, and spending too much on offers is not cool. This game potentially follows in the footsteps of PlayCoMo’s failed Little Dragons title. It’s more entertaining to actually play the role of a dragon such as Spyro. If games like this fail to bring lasting fun, you just quit.

By Kayburt on August 29, 2023

Incantation (SNES)

Stuck as an Apprentice

The Good
Graphics are pretty lush and almost reminiscent of a Capcom platformer. There's plenty of opportunities to collect items, upgrade your magic powers and fight your way through the levels. The HUD is conveniently placed at the top so you won't have to worry about anything obscuring the game sprites. And the camera pans across the level correctly so you don't run into that many accidents. That's pretty much all I can tell you from the bright side.

The Bad
You've got great graphics and playable stages of course, but what have you got to go with them? Every essential you'd expect to find in a game is non-existent. No configurations (other than Mono or Stereo), no way to save and continue where you left off and no cutscenes to tell a story. And the music is just up-n-down beat and plain boring.

Gameplay has its own flaws. For one there's indication of when you pause, but thankfully you can, compensating for lack of save progress. If you thought enemies were easy to beat, you'll snore when you see how ridiculously unchallenging the bosses are. And speaking of bosses, why does the final one have the health bar and the others don't? Are the other bosses all sub-bosses? Even being an easy game, you don't have many abilities. Or so you would think, unless you read the instruction booklet. Ah! There's your storyline and hints. Too bad they didn't put this content right inside the game.

The Bottom Line
Titus has a horrible habit of assuring quality to its games on SNES, but failing to do so. They tried to go to Capcom's level of game making, but didn't quite make the cut, not even close. Why even bother simplifying a SNES game to the bare minimum? Tiger Handheld are already good at this. Even so, terrific graphics, don't always equate to a brilliant game, especially if you spend more time in the art department than the programming one. This game certainly got pretty overlooked, no surprise seeing as it came in the late part of the SNES catalog lifespan. So if you haven't heard of this one or got it in your collection, it's okay, you didn't miss anything truly.

By Kayburt on August 12, 2023

Airborne Hero D-Day Frontline 1944 (Windows)

Excoriatingly Painful to Play

The Good
Just a decent amount of décor and props and some weather effects. Plus you get a decent arsenal. Is that all I can say? I'm afraid so. I'm about to get into rage mode for what comes next.

The Bad
Get your gasmask and dragonhide gloves, because there's a torrent of broken mechanics coming immediately into the game. You know how bad it's going to get when the intro level just keeps you waiting and you can't skip it. By the next level, you'll immediately notice that when enemies shoot at you, they never miss and they hit you hard as hell. Doesn't matter what difficulty you play on, every eneny nails you all the time. You need the reflexes of a cat to shoot them. Or you can lean around corners to shoot them. But guess what, you wouldn't know that you could lean with Q and E, because the help screen doesn't tell you.

There is more you need to know about what you're up against. Enemies can be safely shot at a distance, but the crosshair works as well as a rubber plane flying over an ocean. You have shoot an enemy three or four times to kill them, so forget about headshots. Explosives are going to spite you when they get a chance because they instantly drain all your health, even when you are technically out of range. Enemies almost never leave ammo behind and health pickups are rare. Once you reach the third level, trust me, you'll never pass it. Snipers which are impossible for you to target, have you literally dead in their sights, their spotlights will chase you and never go away. And for some reason you don't have your machine gun. The worst level of the worst game.

The presentation and the layout are just as bad. When you pause the gamem, you have to press a key to trigger an option. This presents two problems. The most obvious one is that make accidentally quit the game because E is next to R. What kind of confounded menu is this? As if they couldn't do a mouse menu. And talking of menus, there aren't a whole lot of options, so you can't redefine the keys. Quality control does not exist anywhere.

The Bottom Line
I'm pretty sure you have never seen an insultingly broken FPS like this. This lacks every essential element you would expect in great games like Call of Duty. Even City Interactive games don't get as horrible to that extent. With the unfair mechanics that plague the levels, this is more of a survival-of-no-chance kind of genre in a game. How dare ASYLUM Games release this aberration on the market. I can't believe anyone who made this game actually played it. Forget what you know about FPS gameplay if you intend to try it and after you've played for the first five minutes, you'll never recover from the damage it did to you. If you bought this with your allowances or received it as a gift, this will leave you scarred for the rest of your life. Throw your copy of this game as far as you can. You'll be in desperate need of a Wolfenstein game to soothe the pains you sustained. Keep telling yourself "Never play this, never share it, never speak of it".

By Kayburt on August 12, 2023

Code of Honor: The French Foreign Legion (Windows)

Keep calm and shoot away

The Good
Upon starting up the game, getting the hang of the mechanics is easy even with the lack of a tutorial. Weapon variety is decent enough to get you out of tight situations and the chances of running out of ammo are low. Different from other shooters is that guns and ammo are treated as two separate objects so you have the option to pick up another gun of the same kind when ammo is short.

The scenery presented in the game gives a rich savannah environment reminiscent of Far Cry 2 with just the right amount of objects and decor to keep the mission maps interesting. Missions are kept lively with music that maintains the atmosphere, sound effects that always let you know where an enemy is and voice-overs that let you know your progression.

The Bad
Even with its simplistic gameplay, there are situations that make the easy difficulty harder than it ought to be such as barriers that hurt you and having to start each mission with just a knife, pistol and FAMAS assault rifle. Come to think of it, the game lacks a lot of potential because you’ll Be more likely to AK-47 as your workhorse weapon due to the huge advantages it has over the other guns. There’s no real potential to play the game in a different way, since it lacks stealth. The AI isn’t too much better since the opponents are practically going beeline for you, typical of a Wolfenstein 3D game.

It’s a little disappointing that the eight missions are shorter than your expectations. Even though the objectives vary, the maps don’t. Half the time your path will be fixed with a shortage of ways to outflank your enemy. Also the maps always have daylight and never night, dusk or dawn to show off lighting capabilities. Good graphics such as the water effects are wasted by their one time appearance in the first mission and there’s nothing too eye catching in the missions to follow.

The Bottom Line
Definitely not one of the worst shooters you’ll come across, but not one of the best by a mile. It’s hard to tell if this was based on the real life Opération Licorne, but there’s no need to emphasize the plot. Fun for the first few play through s and yet nothing seems different. Pretty much a short-lived game due to lack of multiplayer mode. It has the standard features every FPS for its time should have, but it doesn’t have what it takes to become a collectible, just one of many shooters in City Interactive’s long shelf.

By Kayburt on June 22, 2023

Basketball Nightmare (SEGA Master System)

Scoop the Hoop

The Good
The graphical look of the courts has good use of the Master System’s colour palette and the basketball player sprites are even better and fluid when they move. The opposing teams consist of monsters from Japanese folklore including kappas (or turtle-doves lol!), vampires, tengus and a few others. A nice finishing polish is the closeups when a player is on there verge of scoring a goal. It is satisfying to score goal after goal and beat your opponents to progress. There’s also the option to challenge a friend to a basketball match. Where would any sports ballgame be without two player mode(s) included?

The Bad
Even being creative in its design, there are some things missing from the game. One of them is a training mode to get a better grasp of gameplay. Another is a lack of variety in the single player mode in which it’s just a straightforward play through seven courts with a different team and no actual story. It would have been better if you could play as any of the monster teams and the next opposing team was randomly determined. And speaking of variety, there’s none in the music or the sound effects, just a single repeating tune and persistent ball dribbles. The game doesn’t take into account how strong and agile the team members are. It’s basically the CPU going easy or hard on you. The game also lacks the potential for what could have been, such as cooperative two player mode.

The Bottom Line
A weird kind of title which can’t really define the nightmare that is meant to be present. This isn’t NBA, this isn’t JBA, what you’re looking at is a classic basketball with a twist in the teams. Exactly the break you can use from all the licensed and branded sports. Would be sensational if a truckload of additional teams and creatures made its way to a remake of this title. It all goes to show you that there are many ways basketball can be played. Don’t miss this one if you can help it.

By Kayburt on June 19, 2023

Bust-a-Move: Journey (Android)

Drag-a-Move Drags on

The Good
Expanding from the games before it, this mobile game packs a multitude of new features adding the to series traditional gameplay. This includes new types of obstacles and bubbles which affect how every play attempt works with the random generating bubbles. The new elements are gradually introduced, island by island, which caters well for those new to Puzzle Bobble. Those new gameplay features combined with the items and stuff that you can purchase, gives the game a sort of junior career mode. A number of ways to increase the score such as reflect bonuses and popping combos, allow for different ways to play the game. Events are available for some extra challenge and there many ways to earn some coins with daily bonuses levels and login presents. What a way to encourage players to come back to the game.

So many colourful and lush graphics and colourful characters, it's hard to pick your favourite. With the monsters that you fought in Bubble Bobble now acting like proper characters, you get a sense of Puzzle Bobble world buildup. A decent amount of presentation really makes the best use of the screen's portrait orientation so everything fits neatly in your smartphone.

The Bad
No doubt you got a good look at the game's graphics and had a taste of more and more features, the further you play. But then you begin to notice that many things are terribly wrong with this game. Particularly the gameplay is unbalanced for the wrong reasons.

Purchasing items is a good way to make the game easier, but its pretty costly. This is worse than an arcade quarter munching machine, because you have to pay for virtually everything. Pay to continue, pay to undo a move, pay to use items that you NEED to get through the stage. The game gets increasingly expensive to play the further you go.

Some of the stages you play are pretty creative and test you to make use of the limited bubbles and some within a time limit. But later levels are increasingly frustrating with lesser chances of making matches and combos and giving you so few bubbles that you have no choice but to purchase stuff for a winning chance. Talk about incredibly unfair,

What makes the graphical side dwindle is that there too few backgrounds, which will repeat themselves no matter which island you go to. There are also not many music tracks that play. The worst of the tracks is the boss tune, which sounds like its making a complete mockery of the player with farm animals teasing at your every effort.

And the darkest part of the game is the touch control. Having to aim the bubble by depressing the screen with your finger and then letting go to fire means that a twitch of the finger can cause the bubble to go off aim and one stray finger can cause a bubble to misfire. Why couldn't there be a fire button at the bottom of the screen? And if you didn't notice, there is a forced pause between bubble shots so you can quickly shoot your bubbles where time is limited, particularly the bonus levels and boss levels, leading to what shouldn't be line overs. This is like crossing a turn-based combat from the player's side with a real-time enemy attack, which is truly ridiculous.

The Bottom Line
This was a really great attempt to introduce the Puzzle Bobble series to both touch screen and mobile phone devices. Control sticks seem to work much better for this sort of gameplay. However it probably wasn't quite ready for them at the time. It's a great time killer, just as much fun as popping bubble wrap and presenting a pretty picture while you play. A great pity that the awkward mechanics can really kill the fun in the process. There's just too many problems in need of fixing. Not quite the arcade experience you're looking for, but a unique one that you can take outside your home. Learn how the new mechanics work and you're good to play.

By Kayburt on March 26, 2023

Super Bust-A-Move 2 (PlayStation 2)

By Kayburt on February 9, 2023

Cookie & Cream (Nintendo DS)

Cookied n' Creamed

The Good
The amount of 3D detail in the game is scaled pretty well. There's a decent amount of presentation in cutscenes and gameplay. Sounds are okay and music is pleasant to listen to in each stage. After scratching the surface, this is where the fun turns into frustration rather quickly.

The Bad
The platforming in this game really does not work with this tilted down angle. You'll find yourself blindly taking leaps of faith in a vain effort to cross a gap or elevate to higher ground only to fall lots of times to your doom and waste more and more of your precious seconds. This is not helped by the fact that there's no shadow to indicate how high above ground you are. With this bunny hop you have, you can't even make the distance over longer gaps, Cookie is just not like Bugs Bunny.

Timing and Precision are the two most aggravating things you have to have to get far in the game. Every stage requires you to reach the finish in a limited time, so don't try taking the time to familiarise with the level, unless you want to restart over and over again. And when Precision comes into play, it's very specific. You need to run right into clocks to pick them up, you cannot pick them up by being adjacent to them. If you take too long, some pesky bird will peck at you deducting your time and serve to mock all your efforts. Every puzzle with Cream requires precision from pretty much all of your inputs and hints are anything but helpful. You'd better have that microphone with you, because if you don't then you're mashing random buttons hoping to make a mechanism actually work. There's virtually no feedback or revealed solution to get through the puzzles and the time you spend on each stage drags on and on and on.

The Bottom Line
This portable game falls way below the capabilities of the PlayStation 2 version of Cookie & Cream. Trying to cram all that cookie PS2 goodness into the DS only got the game creamed. The game is so broken, even speedrunners would not find it rewarding. The bad angle, poor controls, and overuse of peripherals make for a heavily unbalanced game. They should have taken lessons from the GBA Spyro games and made a decent top-down oriented game with proper puzzles for Cream to help Cookie. This game will only go downhill the more you play it and so will your patience. Play only if you want to beat yourself up.

By Kayburt on February 7, 2023

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