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The SNES Rankings III: Ocean Rising Every game - #650-601

Jan 19, 2018 at 4:34:41 PM
Brock Landers (55)
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Do you ever wonder if obscure crap like Time Trax is any good?  Or get curious as to how the different Super Scope games stack up against each other?  Ever wish there was a detailed list of SNES games that expanded beyond the usual top 100s? 

No?  Well, fine.  Perhaps you're just trying to kill time at work.  In any case, here I present the complete (and completely and utterly biased and subjective) rankings of every US-released licensed SNES game during the console's lifespan.  Thousands of hours and many years in the making (and one very bewildered spouse later), I have played every game enough to write-up a small capsule review of each and every one of them.

...and many of them are very, very, very, very, very, very bad.  So bad.  For awhile I'm going to do my best to avoid coming across as an Angry Video Game Nerd copycat because that trope has been way overdone and is not especially funny when in the wrong hands.  So bear with these first few hundred games as we wade through forgotten sports titles, licensed platformers, and anything with Arnold Schwarzaneggar on the cover.

What specific process do I use to rank these games?  After all, John Madden Football and Romance of the Three Kingdoms are two very different beasts. 

Well, I have a very scientific method...



Really though it's just gut feelings.  What do I have the most fun playing?  What is the most aggravating, or boring?  Which entries am I eager to revisit, and which ones will I never put in the system again?

Links
Volume I: #714-701
Volume II: #700-651
Volume III: #650-601
Volume IV: #600-551
Volume V: #550-501
Volume VI: #500-451

Games that will not be covered by this project:  SFC/PAL games, competition carts, re-skinned Latin American releases, unlicensed releases, Piko Interactive titles, homebrews, Miracle Piano, combo carts, pirates, Rom hacks, etc.

Disclaimer #1: The images are NOT MOBILE OR VINTAGE FRIENDLY
Disclaimer #2: Write-ups and/or pictures MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS.  Read at your own risk.
Disclaimer #3: I may take a few liberties with dramatic license, or remembering small details.  Some of these games were beaten 25 years ago after all.
Disclaimer #4: I'm going to do my best to keep all reviews independent of other versions of each game.  I don't have time to play every port of Mortal Kombat and then try to see where the SNES version measures up.  And I don't know or care if Hurricanes is better on Genesis or Amiga.  This list is strictly SNES, and how those games measure up against each other.
Disclaimer #5: Many of the games were only played against the AI.  As much as playing co-operative Troddlers or competitive Troy Aikman Football could give me a more accurate empirical opinion, no-one I know is gonna play that shit with me in the 21st century
Disclaimer #6: Again, this is not supposed to be an objective list.  This is just one person's list with all preferences and biases apparant.  So Street Fighter II is gonna be 100 spots lower than where you have it, Mortal Kombat is gonna get bashed, I only have a superficial understanding of hockey and soccer, and Titus games are not that bad.

A special thanks to my editors bronzeshield and Splain for spotting my abuses of the English language and having the patience to slog through them with me.


Edited: 02/20/2019 at 01:37 AM by Brock Landers

Jan 19, 2018 at 4:34:49 PM
Brock Landers (55)
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650 - Super Play Action Football



I know, I know.  Yet another football game?  What am I, some sort of futbol-loving Communist with a vendetta against the sport?  Well if only that were the case... 

No, most SNES football games really are bad enough to warrant all of those low positions.  Especially this trainwreck.  And it's a first party product!  Which means this is, bar none, the worst Nintendo-made title I have ever played.  In fact I honestly cannot think of anything else that even comes close.  And it shouldn't come as a shock either because the high number of football games on the list already, including entries from powerhouses like Konami and Capcom, shows just how hard it is to get one of these games right.  See my Emmitt Smith Football review (#700) from the last installment for further details.

As for the gameplay, let's first talk about the viewing perspective.  My understanding is that it was also used in the pre-cursor to this game, Play Action Football on NES.  Perhaps it was intended to offer something unique and different from all the other pigskin games or maybe it was a workaround to some hardware limitation.  Maybe they just wanted something as far removed from 10 Yard Fight as possible.  Well whatever the reason, they decided to stick with it for the 16-bit sequel, and it sucks a big one.  I honestly have no idea why anyone would think this viewing angle was any sort of good idea.  Not only is it severely limiting to your field of vision, especially in the secondary, but it greatly impacts the controls.  Instead of pushing up and right to head downfield you just press up, as if you were playing with a traditional behind-the-offense view, which is not something I can get used to.  You know why isometric games like Q*Bert offer multiple control options?  So you can find something that works for you.  And what they have here does not work for me.

The pacing is also extremely torturous.  Like most of these poorly-made football games every single little thing you do moves at a crawl and takes forever to execute.  I realize everyone is in a damn hurry nowadays, and that we don't have the attention spans to play our vintage game tapes for more then a few minutes at a time, but this was bad even for the era.  If it takes 20 seconds to field a kickoff, you're not properly simulating a football game in any sense of the word.

Now, either of those things could be overlooked to some degree if the gameplay worked at all, or had some fun aspect to it, but every portion of it seems hopelessly broken...

Football checklist:
Passing game - Completely and utterly impossible.  I swear to God my career stat line reads something like this:  0/40, 0 yards, 0 TDs, 34 INTs.  That is not an exaggeration.
Running game - Broken, as your players are too slow, and the blocking too unreliable to call this anything other than pure chance.  Most runs end with getting tackled in the backfield.
Playing defense - Good luck stopping the pass.  You cannot see the secondary, or tell where a throw is going, so you just have to blitz the QB like a madman and pray you get to him before he gets the pass off.  You won't.

And then there's the playbook, which is shown up above.  I think it speaks for itself.  Want to call a dime package?  Well then quickly study all those tiny little dots and try to decipher which one it is.  Is one of those a punt return?  Is that a punt block or a goal line formation?  Who knows.

Are there any positives to the game?  Well it is fully licensed with NFL teams, and they also included the option to play as any one of a shit-ton of Division I college teams, which was definitely a pleasant surprise.  And bizarrely enough you can even play as a high school team.  I don't know why you'd want to do that, but you can, and this is a feature that you otherwise wouldn't see until many years later with EA's college football franchise. 

Now I have to admit that I am actually somewhat compromised with this ranking.  Objectively this should be closer to 700 than 650 for being such a miserable, unplayable piece of shit.  Hell, it plays way worse than lower ranked games like MVP Football and Tony Meola.  So why did I do this?

Because you can play as Montana.

All you Ohio State and Florida State fans don't know how good you have it.  Playing as your team is something you take for granted, kind of like being able to see them on primetime TV or find their recruitment classes on the internet.  Whereas out here we count ourselves lucky when our team appears in anything, especially a video game.  Granted it means getting haplessly murdered by power conference teams when you try to use them, but I never look a gift horse in the mouth.  And outside of SPAF I cannot think of another game giving me this option prior to those EA games on PS2 and XBox.  I mean hell, this game even lets you play as North Dakota State and they were Division II at the time!  I've never heard of a video game digging that deep, ever.  So screw it, the game gets some bonus points from me, and that soft spot gives the game a little extra leeway in these rankings.  In fact I have compulsively returned to the game multiple times to try and decipher its mysteries strictly because I want to be able to enjoy playing as my Grizzlies. 

...even if it never ends up actually happening because the game is an abomination.

Oh, and further bonus points for some truly batshit insane college name stand-ins



Did I beat it?
No, this is another one of the few football games that continues to elude me in that regard.



649 - Cal Ripken Jr. Baseball



Okay, companies like LJN/Acclaim are known for being publishers of terrible games back in during the Super Nintendo's day.  And even THQ, LJN's spiritual successor, curated a reputation as a purveyor of crap all the way into the 2000s.  But it is secretly Mindscape that is going to be making a bid for worst publisher on the system. The combined sucktitude of their output can stand toe-to-toe with anyone.  In fact everyone else seemingly managed to release at least one classic title or two, even if it was by accident.  That's not the case with with the boys from Illinois, because the best they're gonna be able to claim is several games that are "not that terrible."  I'd go so far as to say the amount of dreck they put out on the system is almost awe-inspiring in its near-uniform badness.  So it should be no surprise that Cal Ripken Jr. Baseball is just another poorly playing endeavor of theirs, quickly slapped together with nothing to separate it from the pack. 

It should also go without saying that there are no licenses of any sort either.  Other than Cal himself.  A running theme with the bottom 100.

Now to be fair to the game everything seems promising, at first.  The graphics and animation are decent, and the controls are intuitive and responsive enough.  Pitching and fielding are both relatively straight-forward; unlike many other baseball games you should be able to throw the ball where you want it, and properly judging fly balls is a snap.  No, the problem is offense.  Or I should say, the complete lack of offense.  And it's a big, game-killing problem.

A major part of any baseball game is learning how to properly read the pitches and hit the ball.  If you could master that in your first attempt the game would lose its challenge real quickly so it's usually an acquired skill, or art form even.  And that's a good thing because the reality of the sport is that hitting is and should be really, really hard.  Where else can you fail 70% of the time, and still be doing amazingly well?  So baseball games are best if they make you work for your runs, and learn how to properly utilize all of the offensive strategies that can be put into play.

Well the issue here is that none of those things matter because it's impossible to beat the defense and score.  And that's not because you can't make good contact on the ball, but because good contact means nothing.  It doesn't matter where you hit the ball, or how hard you hit it, you're probably not gonna get on base for a number of reasons.  And you will be making contact a lot because this game has the world's slowest pitches, which is another issue in itself, but I'll get to that a bit.  You see 95% of the time you put the bat on the ball it will either fly foul or fly straight to the defense.  That's partially because the ball also moves extremely slowly once put into play.  So finding the gaps in the defense is virtually impossible.  And to make matters even worse the fielders have rocket arms, so you cannot beat anything out either.  In three full games I managed four hits, two of which were solo home runs.  My AI opponents didn't fare much better.  It's a shame too, because the pieces are all there, they just needed some tuning.

So if offense is a disaster what about defense?  Well like I said the pitches move absurdly slow, which almost defeats the point of playing baseball entirely.  The whole strategy of pitching is fooling the batter and getting him to guess wrong on what's coming.  But you can't fool anyone with a fastball or changeup if they travel at 30-40 miles per hour.  So you're just serving up softballs, and letting the defense do all the work.  It's no fun, and a massive drag.

Fielding is about the only thing the game gets anywhere close to right.  It's not balanced whatsoever because the slow ball speed and rocket arms mean you're rarely in jeopardy of giving anything up, but it at least lets you know where your fielder and the ball are in relation to one another, and lets you react accordingly.  That is one thing that many of the games on this system really fucked up, even though it seems like it should be such a simple thing to get right.  So... kudos to the game for that I guess.

What else can I say, it's the worst baseball game on the system, mostly because they just couldn't tune this thing to resemble anything remotely fun and/or realistic:

Baseball checklist:
Batting - impossible to get on base
Pitching - impossible to fool a batter when the pitches move slower than they do in a Bugs Bunny cartoon
Fielding - massively overpowered

Mindscape Countdown:
Captain America #676
NCAA Final Four #673
Mario's Preschool #667
The Terminator #653
Cal Ripken #649
Average = 663.6

Did I beat it?
No, this has to be the hardest baseball game on the system.


 
648 - Speed Racer in My Most Dangerous Adventures



What a strange game.  Probably mostly known as the other Exertainment game, Speed Racer is a racing/platforming hybrid based on the old Japanese cartoon as famous for its horrendous dubbing as it is for introducing Japanese animation to an entire generation of Westerners.  And it is indeed compatible with the Exertainment exercise bike peripheral for, uh, some reason (note - see update below).  And of course that Accolade logo stamped on the side of the box is a pretty good indicator that game is gonna be a giant piece of shit.  Not that you wouldn't have guessed that by now.

The game alternates between racing and platforming level throughout, and starts with a race, so I'll talk about that first.  Everything seems promising initially, or I should say appears playable, which at this point in the project is promising.  Of course that doesn't last long because everything is so rough and uneven in every way.  The frame rate is decent, the Mach 5 is loaded up with powers such as spinning blades, a turbo boost, super grip tires, and a spring-loaded jump.  And you can practically turn on a dime which is a nice change of pace from the usual attempts at realistic physics in these games.  In fact I rather enjoy making 180 degree turns with ease, probably because of how ridiculous it was.  But the actual racing gameplay itself is a disaster, and quickly devolves into frustration as the Mach 5 ends up wrecked again and again from colliding with the other vehicles or falling into lava, or getting hopelessly lost on a maze-like track (WTF?).

Or at least, that's the case at first.  You see there does not appear to be any difference between placing 1st, 2nd, or 3rd, as you will advance to the next level either way.  Which means there isn't any incentive to actually try and win any of the races.  Especially since the AI has some extreme rubber-band syndrome that renders that nearly impossible anyways.  You can pass up the leader with nine consecutive turbos, and he will still scoot right back past you the instant the last one expires.  And since it's so easy to take damage from other vehicles and get wrecked you'll want to do your best to avoid getting near anyone else anyways.  So your best bet is always settling for an easy cruise to 2nd or 3rd place, staying clear of the lead vehicle at all costs.  What fun is that?  It's a race without racing.

I should also mention that the tracks are continuously flowing up and down, as if you're driving a boat through turbulent seas.  So i you get motion sick you may not last long with this game.  I mean, you probably won't last long anyways, but the nausea will be an added bonus.

Somehow the platforming defies the odds by being even shoddier than the racing.  In these levels you'll try to guide Speed through some relatively small areas, beating up generic goons while sliding down ropes and leaping across fire pits or avalanches.  The controls are decent enough, though the running jumps can be tricky as you feel a bit out of control trying to stick the landings.  The hit detection on your punches and kicks is pretty damn poor too.  Kicking enemies several feet away is super effective whereas trying to attack an enemy right next to you is often futile, which means some nasty combos happen if more than one enemy gets their hands on you because they are too close to counter and will lock you into a endless animation of getting hit.  Fun stuff.  Luckily the game has unlimited continues and these levels are super short so it tempers any frustration.  After a few attempts you'll know where to go and where the pitfalls are, and end up breezing through each stage for the most part.

Beyond all the game's quirks and poor designs is a experience that is meh at best anyways.  There's no bosses, no setpieces, no highlights, no thrills, and no excitement whatsoever.  Each race matches you up with a rival, but they play no differently from the rest of the generic cars in the race.  If there is a storyline I've already forgotten it.  And Racer X isn't even in the game as far as I know.  The entire thing just reeks of a lack of effort or inspired game-making.

And finally I'll say the same thing I said about Cannondale Cup, which is that I'm not reviewing this from the perspective of playing it with the bike for very obvious reasons.  Though I also have no idea how you could play this game that way.  Color me intrigued I suppose.

Update:
I watched some Youtube videos and conversed with theirontoupee for awhile, and am now convinced that the Exertainment version of Speed Racer (the one on the combo cart) is actually a completely different version of the original game, similar to the Star Fox and Donkey Kong Country competition carts where they took a small portion of a game and shoe-horned it into another cart.

On that combo cart there appears to be no main campaign and no platforming levels.  Instead there is a new menu that takes you directly to a random race.  This also presumably means there never was any bike support for the original game.  So why was this considered a good candidate to bundle with Mountain Bike Rally?  Who knows.  I guess it wasn't if it never got officially released.  That doesn't really change anything as far as my review goes, but I thought it was interesting, and answers my questions as to how the heck you'd play through the full game with the bike (you wouldn't).

Accolade Countdown:
Barkley #708
Ballz 3D #707
Speed Racer #648
Average = 687.66

Did I beat it?
Yes.  It sucked, but I stuck with it.


647 - Brett Hull Hockey



Did I beat it?
No...

646 - Brett Hull Hockey 95



Hockey games number two and three, the Brett Hull duo represents a serious leap in quality over previous entry Street Hockey '95.  By that I mean you can at least keep your character on screen long enough to feel like you're playing a video game.  That's how low the bar was at this point.

Like usual, these games feature zero licenses and no features beyond the standard barebones exhibition and tournament modes.  Even navigating the menus in the first game is a major pain-in-the-ass because I swear they somehow have unresponsive controls.  I even went so far as to disassemble and clean my controller to see if that was the cause.  Nope, it's just really shoddy coding.  You know a game's in trouble when the problems start rearing their heads before you even begin play.

The games themselves plays like any clone of EA's NHL series, albeit with laggy controls, underwhelming graphics, and a super annoying lack of offense.  In fact these seem like some of the harder hockey games to score a goal because those controls completely kill your ability to generate or execute any sort of offensive strategy. Usually by the time you get a pass off and line up a shot that player will have already become swarmed by the defense.  The only way I could even get shots off were to feverishly move the puck as fast as I could, akin to Soccer Shootout.  I find that type of gameplay to be infuriating.  On top of that it's also rather difficult to tell where the puck is at any given moment, which only makes things even more hectic.  Whenever it moves into a cluster of players it will be a few seconds before you can tell which one of them has it, so your already crippled chances at offense are even worse off as the delayed reaction will kill your ability to get behind the defense most of the time.

Now, I need to add a caveat to this review.  I did not play an entire season, or spend dozens of hours with either BHH game.  That will be the case for many of the lesser sports titles in the library.  If I did I could probably find some sort of exploit or strategy, or hidden depths that allow me to play the game differently and maybe even start to develop an appreciation for it (not likely, that almost never happens).  But I'm not going to do that.  With 700+ games, and hundreds of those being sports titles, I don't have 10,000 hours to devote to playing a season of every one of them.  Several hours will have to do.

Accolade Countdown:
Barkley #708
Ballz 3D #707
Speed Racer #648
Brett Hull #647
Brett Hull 95 #646
Average = 671.2

Did I beat it?
Also no.



645 - Batman Forever



Did you know that Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero, the launch title for a failed series of planned MK spinoffs, was not the first attempt to take that series' engine and wrap a beat-em-up around it?  In fact Acclaim actually pumped this guy out for SNES a couple years earlier, one of the millions of titles I swear they released on the system during its twilight.  Now I've never played MKM:SZ, but it has a reputation of being one of the worst games ever made for the N64 or Playstation consoles.  And yet I would be very surprised if it was as bad as Batman Forever.

I'm assuming this is yet another game that people are already familiar with thanks to the AVGN video, a running theme with the early installments of this project.  His synopsis was pretty spot on too; the controls are baffling, the level design stupid and confusing, the graphics are laughably terrible, and the combat is a complete and utter mess.  But I can work around most of that.  Yeah, figuring out the controls for moving up and down from one section to another are about as unintuitive as anything I can ever remember, but once you get past that hurdle it's not much of an issue.  And I can deal with terrible graphics if they're so bad that they almost become good again, which these are.  Like with Ed Wood or Roger Corman movies there's sometimes a charm to poorly-done crud, and I think that is especially true with the truly awful art design and animations in this game.  Hell those are some of the reasons I actually like the very similar Timecop for SNES.

But what I cannot get past is the actual fighting in this game, the foundation of any brawler.  Here it is hopelessly broken and inept in every way, draining any fun you may have had with the title.  And I'll just say it, *flame shield up* I don't think any of the Mortal Kombat games were really any good in the first place.  They had an inferior fighting engine that couldn't hold a candle to stuff like Street Fighter II, and they only gained notoriety and popularity thanks to ridiculous gore and violence (and a hit movie with a hit song).  And I think those deficiencies have only grown more apparent with age.

If the MK games had a poor fighting engine that has only gotten worse with time, Batman Forever magnifies those shortcoming in every conceivable way, taking the same crippled gameplay and trying to shoehorn another genre around it with disastrous results.  First, and worst of all, is some of the worst hit detection on the system.  It's nearly Pit Fighter-levels of shoddy.  It wasn't this bad in the MK games so I'm not sure what was busted in the translation.  I'd even go so far as to swear that every attack, whether it's a a punch to the face, a kick to the shin, or a flying jumpkick to the face, is complete chance as to whether or not it will connect.  Which means every enemy is a threat to you because each whiffed attack is going to leave you exposed to counters.  So fights against even the lowliest peons can prove deadly, which exacerbates another glaring issue with this game...

It's too damn hard.  I consider myself pretty good at brawlers, I even have a little award thingy below my username to prove it.  I've also beat nearly every one of them on the system, and the few still left unconquered I either haven't given them enough attention to yet, or I can get pretty damn close.  Well with this guy I can't get anywhere close.  There's no continues, few lives, and your life bar disappears real fast once someone starts laying into you.  And the random nature of the combat means I never end up getting any better.  I may get to the fourth level on an attempt, and then die on level one in the next.  It is maddening.

Now I do know that fusions of brawler and fighters can work.  Capcom did it several times on the SNES with a couple of Marvel games, and again with a mashup of wrestling and Final Fight they called Saturday Night Slam Masters.  All of those are good games because the underlying mechanics they borrowed from were so solid, and lent themselves towards a fun experience.  But if the foundation of your game (the actual fighting) is flawed or broken in the first place, you have little-to-no chance of building a good game around it.



...oh, and what the hell is with the Burt Ward Robin?



Did they make this game while the movie was in pre-production and just have to guess what everyone looked like?

LJN/Acclaim Countdown:
NBA All-Star Challenge #697
T2 #692
Champions World Class Soccer #684
Foreman For Real #674
Rise of the Robots #671
George Foreman KO #651
Batman Forever #645
Average = 673.4


Did I beat it?
Fuck no.



644 - Mary Shelley's Frankenstein



More Sony schlock from a lambasted movie of the era.  This time it's Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, based on the Kenneth Branagh film starring Robert DeNiro.  Probably mostly known as the other Victorian Gothic horror adaptation of the era (behind Bram Stoker's Dracula), it offered a plot much closer to the original novel than than any of the old Universal pictures.  Of course that also means it was that less fitting for a video game tie-in, but hey it's obvious no-one knew what the fuck they were doing in regards to licensing movies for video games at the the time so I'll let it slide.

The game has you assume controls of DeNiro's creature as he is trying to escape from some German village while being constantly bombarded by rifled soldiers, pitchfork-wielding farmers and... uh, women armed with flowers.  I hate games that don't give you an easy introductory level to learn the mechanics and controls, especially when infinite respawns are thrown into the mix too.  It all lends to a frustrating and anxious start.  Though on the bright side there is no level timer at least.

To escape from the village you'll need to navigate through the maze-like level, pulling on latches to trigger platforms, escaping into back tunnels via a labyrinth of doors, and for the most part avoiding combat.  If you do decide to fight you are armed with a mere stick with which you can swat at your foes.  It's pretty impotent, and the animation to use it has a pretty decent delay to it, so expect to take damage from almost everyone you fight.  You can set the stick alight if you come across a lit torch, but this doesn't seem to actually do anything.  Or at least it doesn't affect combat, because who knows if it has other applications...

By that I mean the game and its items are very, very confusing.  After finishing the first area you are trapped down on the street, fighting off endless soldiers, dogs, and cavalry riders.  I never could make it past this part, and I never could figure out what I was supposed to do.  A quick survey of Youtube found a longplay where the player actually skipped this section entirely.  How?  By assembling some of the inventory he found into a makeshift pulley which allowed him to create a back alley escape to the next level.  I'll give the game points for that sort of creativity and nonlinearity, in fact I'm rather impressed with how ahead of its time that is.  But it's not intuitive at all.  How many SNES games like this have alternative level exits?  You'd probably never know it was there without either watching that video, or possibly from reading the manual.  Plus I hate item hunts in games like this.  I hate digging through thirty crates spread across every corner of the map, hoping that maybe three of them contain something useful.  And I don't want to thoroughly explore a large area if there is shoddy combat and infinite enemies.  That is a drag, and not fun.  So great idea, but poor and confusing execution.

In any case that's all I can really comment on.  I never made it past that second part of the first level.  I scanned through the entire longplay though and can confirm that the game:

A) Takes massive dramatic license with the property

B) Diverges significantly from the actual storyline

...or maybe my memory is failing me and the book really does end with the creature fighting off the knife-wielding narrator with the powers of lightning, I dunno.

Did I beat it?
No, I can't get anywhere in this one.



643 - Boxing Legends of the Ring aka Chavez II



Do those screenshots look familiar at all?  Because this game looks and feels a lot like earlier entry Foreman For Real Boxing.  And yes, that is a bad thing.

Like that other title, Boxing Legends of the Ring offers the ability to create a fighter and help him rise through the ranks, battling through legendary fighters such as Sugar Ray Leonard and Julio Cesar Chavez.  And it has the exact same behind the shoulder perspective and control scheme, where you press a punch button in conjunction with the d-pad to aim at a specific body part.  It's not a terrible system, or I should say it's not a terrible idea, but it just doesn't really work in practice.  Every fight is a marathon of endurance, endlessly wailing on your opponent's head or ribs, trying to guess where he'll block, and trying to trap him in the corner so he can't move out of range.  If there is any strategy to the fights it's beyond me; just mash the attacks as fast as you can and hope enough land to knock him down.

So why do I have this ranked higher than FFRB?  I guess because it seems like it has an actual difficulty curve, or at least because I can successfully button mash my way through several opponents this time.  And the scoring is less out of whack since outperforming your opponent here actually leads to being scored the winner, which is a lot more logical to my uninformed brain.

As to why the two games are so similar, I can only assume that the later Foreman title was basically just stealing ideas from this game wholesale.  It seems like the sort of thing Acclaim would do anyways.  That isn't necessarily the worst thing in the world if the original game is really good (i.e. Batman Returns and its spiritual "successor" Death and Return of Superman), but that was obviously not the case here.

Did I beat it?
I'm incapable of beating a boxing game.



642 - The Flintstones



Oh hey, an Ocean licensed game.  I guess if I named the thread after them that it was inevitable they start showing up.  Plus it was only a matter of time before their crap started flooding the bottom ranks.

And speaking of licenses, Ocean certainly loved to aim for bad movies that no one in their right mind would try to adapt into video game form. At least Acclaim/LJN knew that the Arnold and Stallone games kind of make sense. I swear Ocean just picked names out of a hat.

The Flintstones is another movie game that has nothing to do with the source material, other than trying to make your character resemble John Goodman as opposed to the classic Hanna Barbara design.  And the between level cutscenes seem to imply that the Kyle McLachlan character is kidnapping your children, though I don't recall that happening in the movie.  I guess the real plot with its (attempt at) corporate intrigue and interracial sexual tension didn't really translate to a K-A video game very well so they just had to make a new storyline up.  Plus it's a platformer so I guess it doesn't actually matter in the end.

What you'll immediately notice upon playing the game are the controls; they are pure garbage.  The sense of inertia is horrible and punishes you for late reactions to incoming hazards.  Which means this is another game where you have to memorize the layouts of the levels and what to do before you come upon the enemies and traps.  That's always fun.  And the mechanics for grabbing onto ledges are some of the worst I can think of; it's amazing how many games couldn't get simple things like this right.  I guess maybe don't have the player clip through the thing they need to grab onto if you're gonna make it so finicky?  Just a suggestion.  Expect to spend some time mastering this simple concept when you start the game, and any level that requires you to grab onto a ledge over an instant-death pit is always a moment of pure dread.

Fred's attacks are garbage too.  Your main club has a very short range, and a fairly extensive animation, which means you're gonna be missing a lot and leaving yourself open to hits every time.  There are several ranged attacks you can use to relieve this, but the ammo for either of them is limited, especially in later levels.

The nail in this game's coffin however, is neither the spotty controls or the plodding combat.  It's the brutal lack of any checkpoints whatsoever.  The further into the game you get, the longer the levels go on, and the more instant death pitfalls and hazards await you.  Since you're only given a few lives to get through (a minimum of) three levels at a time you're gonna be restarting them a lot.  Over and over and over again.  There are occasionally a few scattered 1UPs to help you out, but they also double as health refills.  Which means you only get the extra life if you have full health when you pick it up, so the only way to get 1UPs is to be good enough to not need them in the first place.  Great.

Luckily the game does have a password system.  It's not totally optimal (you only get a new pass every three  levels or so), but it saves the game from being completely unplayable as you only have to memorize a few levels at a time instead of the entire game in one go.  The game is hard enough as is, without passwords it would have been impossible.

I should also mention that there is one level that breaks up the platformer action for a few minutes.  It is early on in the game, and has you guiding your foot-mobile car through the town, bouncing Pebbles and Bam Bam off of the roof to safety.  The only comparison I can think of is the Puppy Love levels from Earthworm Jim 2.  Except this one is a million times worse.

Ocean Countdown:
Cool World #696
RoboCop 3 #695
Flintstones #642
Average = 677.7

Did I beat it?
Yes, and it was a horrible experience.



641 - World League Soccer



Hmm, a soccer game from Mindscape.  Let me just say that I'm shocked, shocked that it landed in the bottom 100.  Actually, I'm honestly kind of surprised it isn't lower.  Maybe I was feeling particularly charitable when deciding what spot to put it.  Or maybe I was drunk.  Either way it's an unplayable POS for the most part.

First off, the game is just the ugliest thing I've ever seen.  Just look at those screenshots above.  I mean this would be shitty-looking for a NES game that came out in 1987, no exaggeration.  Was this ported over from the Apple II?  Was it a one man development team?  I can understand Pit Fighter being as rough as it is because it was clearly rushed to retail before being finished, but what is the excuse for this?

Now if there is one thing I can ignore it's bad graphics.  If a game is ugly as sin but is the gameplay is stellar I'll still give it high standing regardless.  In fact many of my top 100 titles are pretty sorry-looking.  Well unfortunately World League Soccer is possibly even worse playing than it is looking.  It's best described as a really shitty version of Sensible Soccer (released as Championship Soccer '94 in the US), with the same fast-paced arcade gameplay from a top-down birds-eye view.  Except here it's not good and not fun.  Everything moves way too fast, making it feel like you have zero control over what is happening on the screen.  It's similar to Soccer Shootout where you spend the entire game just trying to maintain the slightest control over the ball, feverishly passing it around to try and keep it away from the PC.  And just like SS I have never scored a goal in this game.  It's extremely frustrating.

That all being said I'd still much rather play this than SS or Champion World Class Soccer, maybe because everything is so fast-paced that the games are over before you know it.  And the game is loaded down with options, for whatever that is worth.  You can do league play, tournament play, single matches, etc.  Yes so, the game looks and plays like garbage, but at least it's a diverse lineup of garbage.  Er, yeah. 

...and at least it doesn't make me sick like Tony Meola.

Mindscape Countdown:
Captain America #676
NCAA Final Four #673
Mario's Preschool #667
The Terminator #653
Cal Ripken #649
World League Soccer #641
Average = 659.8

Did I beat it?
No.  Not that I even tried much.



640 - Redline F-1 Racer



Racing games can really be separated into two distinct groups; those that control like garbage, and those that do not.  That is probably at least 80% of the battle with making these games any fun, or playable for that matter.  If you can't stay on the track, or get past opponents, you're not gonna have a good time.  Redline F-1 Racer, as you can probably guess, is among the former.  In fact this may actually be the worst controlling racer on the system.  Or at least that's the excuse I'm using for my extreme incompetence at it.

Like many of the formula one titles on the system RF1R gives you a plethora of racing options and ways to configure everything.  You can choose to do a full season, single races, practice laps, or even jump straight into your heat.  And you can change everything from the type of engine to the angle of your spoiler.  Gear heads and racing enthusiasts will probably get a kick out of it.  By default everything seems to be mostly optimized (though I swear it chooses a manual transmission over automatic, regardless of what the menu says), so there is nothing stopping you from quickly hopping into a race if you choose.  And I appreciate that the game gives you that option, which is about the nicest thing I can say about it because...

The racing itself is a disaster.  You can only see about 20 feet in front of your vehicle at any given moment, which means keeping your eyes glued to the mini-map or the onscreen indicators in order to foresee any of the turns.  And I swear you have zero leeway on actually making any of those turns with any reasonable success.  If you are not 100% accurate you will either run off the road, collide with your competition, or over-turn and spill out into the grass/wall.  And doing any of those things is close to an automatic loss. 

I swear this entire experience is akin to driving your car, in the fog, with frosted windows.  If you go any faster than 15 miles an hour you're gonna be in trouble.

So yeah, I've tried the first race four times, and never cracked the top 10.  I can occasionally get reasonably close to the pole at times, but since every race is 10 laps long (or at least is defaulted to that length) it's always just a matter of time before I crash or get run off the track and drop to the rear.  So I don't know if it's a terrible racing game, just a demanding one.  And a frustrating one.  And I'm not good enough at them to have any fun with it.

Did I beat it?
I'm pretty sure I've never even had a good finish to a race.



639 - Eek! the Cat



Another travesty from Ocean, this time it's a port of some Amiga game called Sleepwalker that tasked you with protecting (sleepwalking) people from various hazards and pitfalls.  Think of a cross between Lemmings and a full game-length escort mission, and try not to puke.  Apparently there was also some forgotten cartoon at the time called Eek! the Cat, whose titular feline's calling card was helping people.  Some executive connected the dots between the two and this reskin for SNES was born.

Does anyone like escort missions in video games?  Ever?  Because they generally have a reputation for being any game's lowpoint.  There are exceptions where special care is made to make your charge moderately competent or interesting (i.e. Ico or Resident Evil 4), but frustration is generally the norm.  This game is that experience at its lowest, stretched out for a two hour runtime.

Now the idea for this game could work if the developer knows what they're doing and execute the plan flawlessly.  The previously mentioned games are perfect examples of this specifically because of how well everything is implemented and are almost universally considered works of gaming art because of it.  But this game is not only very flawed to the core, but features controls that can only be called a nightmare; some of the very worst on the system in fact.  If you were to take the sublime control and inertia from a Super Mario Bros. game, and then invert that to be its complete polar opposite, it would be the movement in this game.  It's really just another one of those things you have to play to understand because Eek! is so slippery and out of control with everything he does that it's comical.

I guess that's also why they didn't even bother giving him a healthbar, because you can expect to slip and slide into each and every enemy and hazard in each level approximately a million times apiece.  If Eek! could die the game would be even more aggravatingly hard than it already is.  Instead you just have to worry about protecting whichever Grannie or purple doofus you're tasking with watching over, and that is a tricky enough of a job as it is.  They all travel in a straight line (again, they're asleep) so your only interactions with them are nudges in the right direction, whipping them into the air over pitfalls, or stunning enemies in their path.  In fact it's exactly like the Peter Puppy mission from the first Earthworm Jim, but minus all the good things and charm.  Eventually you'll start resenting them for their unrelenting and determined stupidity and plot their demise on purpose.  Or at least I did, since it was the only way to find any enjoyment with this game.

After making it through the first couple missions, and with no end or change in the formula in sight, I threw in the towel.  And that represents a major milestone in this project.  So far this is the first and only non-sports title where I've given up on the game before I received a game over (on my best/longest run at least).  It was just too tedious and unpleasant to stick with. 

Now there is one bright spot to this game, and that is the soundtrack.  I like it quite a bit and am in fact listening to it right now as I type this.  It isn't especially large in scope, or super varied, but it is way out of the rest of the game's league.  That composer deserved better.

Ocean Countdown:
Cool World #696
RoboCop 3 #695
The Flintstones #642
Eek! the Cat #639
Average = 668

Did I beat it?
No.  I made it to the fourth level but shut the system off so I could play Wild Wild QuestThat's how tedious this game is; I would rather play a broken Cheetos-ad-masquerading-as-a-video game than another minute of it.





638 - ABC Monday Night Football

   

Blah blah blah, football game, blah blah blah.  Who cares?  Nobody.

...but wait, this is a Japanese product trying to ape Tecmo Super Bowl?  I guess I can try a little bit here.

Oddly enough the only license at play here is with ABC (the network), and their commentator at the time, Frank Gifford.  For those too young to remember, he was a placekicker married to Kathy Lee.  For those too young to remember her, she was on that thing with Regis Philbin.  For those too young to remember him, google it.  And what does this license mean for the game?  Absolutely nothing, other than two voice samples, and an image of his ugly mug that barely animates.  And the ABC logo I guess. 

Oh and a Gatorade logo at midfield... so... yeah.

The TSB similarities are numerous, from the play selection and pop-up menus, to the way the cinematics and field goals and overall presentation all play out.  The developers' intentions are very obvious here, which I don't blame them for considering the legendary status of that series.  But unfortunatley for them, they botched every single fucking part.

One of the biggest things that makes the TSB formula work so well is the carefully predicated balance of rock-paper-scissors gameplay.  There are few things as satisfying as your entire D-Line engulfing a quarterback, or throwing an 80 yard bomb to a wide open receiver.  And the over-the-top cutscenes and music that accompany these moments are just perfect.  Well ABCMNF mangles every one of those things:

Football checklist:
Running game -
Absolutely impossible to pull off with any real success.  Or I should say, impossible with anything resembling a real running game.  I did find you could exploit the AI by calling a pass, and then moving your QB over between the guard and tackle and diving forward immediately before you cross the line of scrimmage.  This is good for about 3-4 yards a carry.

Passing game -
Mind-bogglingly broken.  If your opponent calls a run defense your receivers will truck the defenders and run down the field completely uncovered.  An overpowered catch-up mechanic means they will almost never actually make it to the endzone, but you will easily get first downs before anyone can reach them. 

However, if your opponent calls a pass defense it is your guys that will get tackled.  The solution?  Backpedal your quarterback for awhile and wait for one of the tackled receivers to get back up, at which point he will be left uncovered.  So as long as you can avoid a sack it doesn't matter what defense is called, you should have a wide-open receiver and an easy reception.

...or I should say that would be the case if your receivers didn't drop about 80% of the passes that came their way.  It is no exaggeration to say you can expect to regularly face 4th and long because you dropped three straight wide open passes that hit your receiver in the face.

Playing defense -
Guess what, it's completely broken.  Since running the ball is impossible, just call a pass defense every time.  I was picking off 6-7 passes a game at the end because it's so easy to jump a route, especially since receivers are consistently underthrown if you're in pass defense.  So just camp on the free safety and and guess right or left.  If they end up throwing that direction you can pick it off.  If not, regroup and do it the next play.


There's also two super plays you are able to run each half; one pass and one run.  When you execute these the game switches into a sort of cinematic mode and you have to beat the AI in a button-mashing mini-game.  If the offense wins it's an automatic touchdown, if the defense wins it's a long or short gain, depending on how well they did.  The AI has had their way with me here every single time, no exceptions.  Not only have I never persevered over them in the button mashing, I in fact think it is literally impossible.  The only accidental stops I ever got were when my guys inexplicably picked off a super pass, or tipped the ball.  I can only assume this was RNG and not anything I did since I had long since stopped trying by that point.  So my main strategy each game was just trying to keep the ball out of the other team's hands in the final couple minutes of each half because that is when they would use these plays.  Overall a nifty idea, but terrible execution.  Perhaps it is properly balanced when you're playing a human opponent but I never got the chance to find out.

Oh, and one last thing.  The pacing is ridiculously and painfully slow.  For as bad as it was in Super Play Action Football, this is even worse. It's no exaggeration to say most players run a 20 second 40 yard dash, and that any gain of longer than 30 yards is virtually impossible when your ballcarrier moves slower than a goomba.  There's also other miscellanous issues at play here that are too numerous to remember or point out.  Just one example though is that just like with Football Fury the play clock goes by its own set of rules.  Running the clock out turns into a massive pain in the ass when you can't actually run any clock off. 

ABC Monday Night Football is a title I'm really torn on.  On one hand, it's a deeply broken game, with nonexistent play balance, endless rough edges, the slowest pacing of possibly any sports game on the system, terrible graphics, and an overall presentation that was shamelessly stolen from Tecmo Super Bowl.  But it's also so damn goofy as to give it some charm.  I even tentatively placed it in the "guilty pleasures" section of this project, but was forced to remove it after prolonged play.  It's a shame too because I really wanted to like it.

Did I beat it?
Yes, I did a full season and playoffs with San Francisco.  The average score was roughly 56-7.



637 - WCW Super Brawl Wrestling



Another wrestling game, a genre I do not care for at all, that I'm going to dump on.  This time it's the sole WCW title released on the system from Ultima-publisher FCI.  I have no idea what other people think of this one, but it at least seems slightly playable this time.  Technically.

People who actually know what they're talking about can correct me here, but my understanding is the WCW broke away from the WWF at some point as a rival start-up.  And presumably it was the lesser league at the time because with the WWF games I can at least recognize some of the cast from their presence in pop culture.  As in everyone knows who Hulk Hogan is.  And I can recognize Roddy Piper from his movies, and Randy Savage from Slim Jim commercials.  Whereas I have no idea who anyone in this game is.  Not that I especially care, but I'm guessing having a roster full of B-grade characters was probably not a great selling point for wrestling fans at the time.

The game mixes things up by using an isometric perspective this time.  This doesn't really change anything gameplay-wise; the controls still work in exactly the same manner as other titles.  So all it does is change up where you need to go to climb up and stand on the ring corners, for whatever that is worth.  And the game seems to use the same exact formula as all of the other titles; try to punch or kick your opponent until their endurance goes down.  Or better yet, grapple and throw them down repeatedly until you can eventually pin them.  I guess there is only so much can do you to liven-up the formula of a wrestling game.

The controls are responsive enough, and I find the game exponentially less confusing or infuriating than Hammerlock Wrestling or NWC.  It's still not any fun, but at least I'm not infuriated, which is a big step in the right direction.  And most attacks will actually connect when they should, which is nice.  That's how low the bar is with these games.

One thing this game does do differently is give you two distinct energy meters.  Or maybe one is a life meter.  I admit I have no idea, and I played through the game twice.  I just know you have to damage someone repeatedly enough to empty both of them before they can be finished off.  Which for this game meant using the grapple, throwing them down, and then immediately doing that again as soon as they stand up.  In fact I did that on every opponent to win every fight.  It gets very boring, very fast.  And it's also the main reason that I have WCW ranked below the WWF games (spoiler: they're coming up soon).  They're all terrible games, but at least those ones force you to mix it up a bit.  Here I have to spam the same thing all the time in order to actually do enough damage to pin someone.  Whenever I try to change things up my foe starts recovering faster than I can hurt him.

So like with any of these wrestling titles, mileage will probably vary greatly depending on how much nostalgia you have for them, or how much of an enthusiast for the genre you are.  If you have neither you'll probably share my sentiments.

Did I beat it?
Yes, a couple times.



636 - The Ren & Stimpy Show: Time Warp



Considering the general age range for most classic Nintendo collectors I'm assuming anyone reading this thread knows what The Ren & Stimpy Show is.  For you few outliers out there it was a very bizarre cartoon that aired on Nickelodeon, featuring a Peter Lorre-esque psychotic Chihuahua named Ren and his manchild friend Stimpson J. Cat.  Besides a number of adult themes and disturbing imagery, the series featured a sense of humor that I can only call "experimentally weird" with plotlines too absurd to bother trying to explain.  And yet it somehow made its way into the inaugural Nicktoons lineup and was a big hit with people of all ages, continuing to live on to this day as a cult classic.

The video games adaptations of the show on the other hand, are standard platformer garbage that maintain none of the franchise's appeal, while also being brutally difficult and sloppily put together.  It's a pretty abysmal group of games in many ways, and Time Warp is the worst of the lot, which is a pretty damning statement overall.

In typical Ren and Stimpy fashion the storyline is too ridiculous to understand.  The dog and cat duo learn about a promotional giveaway that will award a time machine to whomever redeems 47 million kitty litter proof of purchases.  Several levels and one (literal) trainwreck later, you use that time machine to travel to different eras in order to, I guess, beat up various series characters for some reason.  Just go with it.

The initial levels that task you with collecting those UPCs are a disaster, simply put.  They're best described as being a beat-em-up, but with a massive number of environmental hazards, and tons of destructible scenery that mostly just unleashes enemies if you destroy any of it.  Most enemies will also drop money if you kill them, but I never could figure out what you're supposed to do with it.  In fact the combat's controls and mechanics are so dodgy that I would recommend against fighting anything at all costs, ever, if you can help it.  The worst offenders are a hitbox on your attack that is extremely unreliable and jumping controls that are extra finicky.  For instance, you cannot move your character on the vertical plane when you jump.  I've never heard of a game like this doing that.  And since most of the enemies in this game are flying it becomes a big problem.  Sort of.  You see you cannot move up or down when you jump, but you can still hit or be hit by enemies above or below you.  Confused yet?  Well you will be if you play the game.  In later levels it is basically a death sentence and you'll spend more time fighting the controls then anything else.

On top of all of those issues is the hurdle of the first area having FIVE bosses.  Most of them give you a checkpoint after you defeat them but it still doesn't prevent level one from being a massive grind and lesson in trial-and-error.  You'll most likely die a number of times to each one of them before you figure out how cope with the poor design of each fight and persevere.  And then you'll still die a number of times to each of them.  Probably.  Because that brings to light another glaring problem I have with the game; I have no idea how the health works.  None.  Sometimes you can suffer what seems like a thousand hits before Ren melts into the ground and sometimes it's more like five.  And if there is a health bar or indicator on the screen somewhere I have yet to spot it.

Eventually you'll reach the end of the level, at which point you'll game over and be set straight back to the main menu.  Why?  Because you need to grab an exact number of the kitty litter UPCs before you're allowed to advance, and I assure you this will not happen your first couple times through.  It's truly bizarre too because the rest of the game plays out in a more traditional manner and will only game over if you run out of lives and continues.  Here you are booted straight to the menu, with no idea of how many of the UPCs you were supposed to collect, or how close to the goal you were.  99% of the brave souls who managed to overcome level one will promptly quit at this point.

Eventually that first stage can be beaten by those stubborn or crazy enough to stick with it.  At that point you are treated to the second type of level; the Mode 7 shooter.  These might actually be even worse...

The first part of these shooting stages tasks you with navigating a psychedelic space-time continuum, blowing away mosquitos and bags of kitty litter while collecting money.  The closest comparison I can think of is HyperZone, but a million times worse.  Since you can barely make anything out in the sea of pulsating colors I'd recommend flailing around in circular motions like a madman, trying to avoid everything.

If you survive that acid trip you'll reach the second part of the stage which is mash-up of a shooter and Breakout, but again, much, much worse.  Each section of this area tasks you with blowing holes into an approaching wall of bricks so that your craft can pass through, and culminates in a rapid descent into a series of tight circular openings.  Each failure bounces you back with a jarring crash and disorients your ship, but overall these section are relatively forgiving.  Which is a good thing because it is impossible to do any of this with anything resembling finesse, especially since the controls are reversed for just this section.  Eventually, if you haven't thrown up or had a seizure at this point, you are allowed to advance.

The game does offer several continues, and I did notice several extra lives during my attempts, but I cannot get anywhere close to beating the game.  It is just brutally difficult, and unlike the other R&S titles it does not give you any sort of passcodes to work with.  Well it does, but all those do are give you access to mini-games that rip-off pay homage to arcade classics like Space Invaders and Asteroids.  By completing those you can earn money which, again, I have yet to find out the purpose of.

Overall, it's one of the worst beat-em-ups on the system and one of the worst shooters.  I like that it offers a varied gameplay experience, possibly the most varied of any of the R&S games, but none of it is done well in any way, or is fun enough to recommend in any manner.  And at the end of the day it is just too frustrating to stick with for long.  It's one of those games where I have to ask myself "Did these developers ever play a video game before, and were they aware of a single thing that would make one fun?"  It really doesn't seem like it.

THQ Countdown:
Pit Fighter #713
Race Drivin' #712
Rocky & Bullwinkle #699
Wayne's World #679
Road Riot 4WD #675
Thomas the Tank Engine #670
The Great Waldo Search #663
Time Warp #636
Average = 680.88

Did I beat it?
No, of all the games I've covered so far I feel like this is one of the most insurmountable.



635 - Captain Novolin



The best known of the Rayasoft games, and commonly referred to as one of the worst games on the system, Captain Novolin is actually the least offensive game in their portfolio, and is infinitely more playable than many of the games on the system.  It's also pretty short and easy, and definitely keeps the aggravation-factor low.

It's also a complete bore.  The mechanics and level design are very, very simple, and the game can easily be beaten in under 30 minutes.  Furthermore, the insulin-control aspect of the game is also super forgiving, your guy can soak up a ton of hits, and the levels are usually only a minute long.  So there is no reason you can't do it in the first attempt even.

There's only a few levels, and each starts with a doctor advising you on a diet for morning, snack, or night.  During the level you then need to collect one of each food item he mentioned in order to keep your insulin under control.  And if you don't do this... nothing happens.  Or at least nothing as far as I could tell.  Not that you have any reason not to manage this since the game is basically on rails and you'd have to go out of your way not to get them.

Your enemies all take the shape of evil "sugary" foods.  You have doughnut dogs, rabid milkshakes, paddling cupcakes, etc.  You can either bypass them, or try to butt stomp them, though the latter is kind of awkward since the character sprites are so huge that you have relatively small windows to fit it in.  But the controls are otherwise fairly responsive so you should be able to smoke most enemies with ease.

Eventually you reach some sort of final boss that resembles an obese man in a floating Rascal or something.  If you touch the switch in front of him a few times he seems to die.  So... yeah, like I said it's not a challenging game.

There's also some sort of code you need to input when you start the game that is supposed to be doctor-provided in order to tailer the game to "your condition."  I have no idea what this does or where the doctor would get that information.  Presumably it configures what food items you should eat in each level.

So yeah, what else can I say?  It's a Rayasoft game.  It tries to educate and entertain, and definitely does not accomplish the latter.  But I've beat it several times and would have no problem clearing it again just because it's so light and breezy and harmless overall.  So consider that a back-handed compliment of sorts... it's a stupid game, but way less annoying to play than everything that has come before.

Did I beat it?
Yes, several times.  Too many times.



634 - Football Fury



The terrible football games are never-ending on this system.  And to reiterate my theory as to why this is the case, and why I don't necessarily completely blame the developers for this, is that I feel like it's a really tricky sport to capture.  Unlike baseball where you really just need to nail batting and pitching, a football game is reliant on 22 players acting in a way that befits video game play balance.  So is it any wonder that the programmers can't get the job done 90% of the time?

This time the culprit is Sammy, they of Ys III and... other games probably.  Football Fury is their attempt at a Tecmo Super Bowl-ripoff that seems unaware of every single thing that makes that series a classic, while including your standard checklist of bad SNES football games; ugly graphics, slow plodding pace, cumbersome interface, no licenses, and severely flawed gameplay.

Like TSB, the game is played from a side perspective, and features extremely cartoonish gameplay and cutscenes.  Unlike that game, there is no rock-paper-scissors aspect to the gameplay.  Most of what happens is just chance.  Passes will most likely be completed, regardless of how tight the coverage is.  Runs will mostly fail regardless of the alignment of the defense.  And every player on the field is more or less the same in speed and agility.  So, why would you play this as opposed to TSB?  You wouldn't.  So let's just take a closer look at the various flaws...

First off, it's nearly impossible to get off a block.  In TSB you can bash buttons to beat the blocker, whereas here that player has basically been removed from the equation for the play.  In fact if the computer picks up the safety on a run you're probably screwed.

Next, you cannot see the receivers when you pass.  Now, I don't mean they eventually run offscreen if you hang on to the ball long enough, I mean you never see who you're passing to.  And it's not because they're running deep; every damn route ran in the game is an 8 yard hitch, regardless of the play call.  I assume that is a bug.

Finally, the tackling is a complete disaster.  Unless you dive at the ballcarrier for a head-on collision you're probably not going to be bringing him down, and defenders diving through him or being dragged for 5 yards is the norm.  By the time I reached the playoffs the AI was basically in full cheat mode and the only way I could stop their offense was praying they tried three straight passes.

Now some things in the game did amuse me at least.  Like tackling the punter.  You can do this 95% of the time for an effectively blocked punt.  I relied heavily on this to win games, which reminds me of another thing I like about FF; no penalties.  Go ahead and dive at their receivers off the line, or bash them off their route.  I also like that if you roll the quarterback out to the sidelines, the corner or safety will get fooled into rushing you, leaving the outside receiver wide open.  That gave me pleasure because the AI is such a cheating dick otherwise.  It's nice to return the favor.

So yeah, the only good things about this game are the absurdities about it, otherwise it's just another crap-tastic football game.

Football checklist:
Passing game - Every route goes for about 8 yards, but you'll complete 75% of them
Running game - You'll get either -3 yards, or 5-8 yards.  Totally binary.
Playing defense - A crapshoot early on, and nearly impossible against later opponents

Did I beat it?
Yes, I did a regular season, advanced through the playoffs, and then won the "Ultra" Bowl.  This added up to all of 6 games in total...



633 - Chester Cheetah Wild Wild Quest



Terrible.  This is the second Cheetos games trying to get in on furry mascot platformer craze, and by far the worst of the two.  This game's dysfunctions almost have to be experienced to be believed.

I'm just gonna say it; this game eats more inputs then any game I have ever played on Super Nintendo, or any other system, or any systems in the future, by a wiiide margin.  It is some mind-bogglingly broken shit.  And it is mostly due to some Gradius III-levels of slowdown.  Actually scratch that, it's much worse here and it never seems to let up.  You are perpetually playing this game in slow motion, sometimes for entire levels at a time.

The controls could be called "loose", to put it mildly.  You know bad games where just trying to land on a boss's head is a battle unto itself because of the busted handling?  This is one of those games.  You'd think that anyone making a platformer would dedicate like 20-40% of the development hours towards hammering out movement and a sense of inertia.  Super Mario Bros. accomplished back this in 1985, so why were so many people unable to figure it out?  It shouldn't have been that hard; you move right, you move left, you jump up, and you come down.  Just go play any good Japanese platformer, take note of why it works, and then reverse engineer it.   The mind boggles.

The gameplay itself is a perfect complement to the controls and slowdown.  By that I mean it is unfun and infuriating.  You're constantly taking cheap hits, and it's a one-hit-and-you're-dead game.  This means that, coupled with the crap controls, every boss fight is a huge headache and serious impediment to any sort of real progress.  Assuming you even make it to one of them.  Trying to steer your way onto any of their heads while the game is moving at two frames per second and you die with one hit means it's a pretty tall order.  Oh, and I should mention that you have to restart each fight after dying.  Add all of that up and you get a game that is the wrong type of challenging.

Now since this was released after Sonic the Hedgehog there is also a dash button, because that was practically mandatory at the time.  And of course the absolute last thing you want to do in a platformer with large sprites, frail characters, massive slowdown and crap controls is get any sort of speed going.  So instead of playing the game like it's meant to be played, you have to methodically move through the levels, learn where the enemies and hazards are through trial-and-error, and memorize your way past everything.  I'm going to start referring to that as "Bubsy syndrome."

So why the relatively high ranking?  The game looks decent, for one.  And if they fixed the slowdown, controls, difficulty and all the other broken shit, it could be a decent game.  In fact I hear (from bronze) that the Genesis version is just that.  The game also does give you the freedom to chart your own progress with branching paths on the world map, including three starting points.  I like that, and I like that all of those levels are supposed to be modeled after different parts of the United States, which is pretty cool.  Including one set in Montana, which as I've already said earlier I'm a sucker for all things having to do with.  But those are (tiny) bright spots when compared to the myriad issues in this wreck of a game.

Did I beat it?
No, my hat is off to anyone who can do that.



632 - Tommy Moe's Winter Extreme: Skiing & Snowboarding



For all the heat the SNES took for its slower processor and severe lack of anything resembling a framerate in a number of titles, there are actually several games that I wish would just slow the fuck down.  You can probably guess if this is one of those titles.

Tommy Moe was an Olympic athlete back in the day, and I'm gonna make an educated guess and say it was as a skier.  Like most Olympic Athletes his star shone bright for a few years, before he was inevitably forgotten forever, joining Mary Lou Rhetton, Eric Bergquist, Anton Apollo Ono and Brucer Jenner [or Caitlyn! - editor] in pub trivia purgatory.  But before he lost his marketability some assholes decided they needed to capitilize on this fleeting fame and rushed a SNES game to market, producing this ramshackle mess of a game in the process.

First off, this game is impossible.  Since you can only see for about 30 feet in front of you, and you're going roughly 40 miles an hour, you're gonna be wrecking or going off course every 4 seconds.  And every race is on a timer, which means you're constantly just trying to make it to the next checkpoint.  So that means you have to memorize each and every course if you hope to have any success.  Courses that have no landmarks, no variation, no warning signs, and go on forever.  And there are over a dozen of them.  So not only is making it through a single race a slow crawl of trial-and-error and memorization, but trying to play through the game is exponentially worse as the course layouts start running together in your head, making for one long white blur.  You know Tetris syndrome where you close your eyes and all you see is blocks?  Well I experienced Tommy Moe's Winter Extreme-itis, a dizzying white-washed nightmare that was stuck in my head as I laid in bed.  It was not a fun night.

Like the title implies you also have the option of skiing or snowboarding.  It's a graphical difference at best as it doesn't seem to actually change anything about the gameplay.  And I'm not even sure they bothered since Tommy Moe was a famous skier...  call it a lazy attempt to cash in on what was an increasingly popular sport at the time.

It's unfortunate too because I want to like this game.  It's the only skiing game on the system, not counting the Winter Olympics mini-game fest.  And I like that it has a sense of speed, even if its poor implementation severely hampers the gameplay.  Plus as an avid skier (at least back when I had the time and money to do it) I really do think this game does a pretty decent job of recreating the sensation of being on the slopes, which has to count for something.  So it's a bad game that I can't help but try and find the good in.  Even if every attempt ends in failure.

Did I beat it?
No, maybe some day I'll give it a real go.



631 - ESPN Speedworld



The sole NASCAR title on the system, and the only one I've ever played, ESPN Speedworld is... not very good.  And extremely ugly.  But at least tries to do a few things differently, which I guess I'll give it some credit for.

So the primary gimmick with this game, and something you'll need to rely on pretty heavily if you hope to have any chance at succeeding, is "drafting."  Basically you're moving into position behind another car so that you can take advantage of the air wake he leaves behind.  In the real-world this would give you (I assume) better fuel efficiency.  Here it allows you to sling-shot past them at a higher speed.  Or maybe that happens in the real-world too, I dunno, I don't watch racing.  Anyways, it's an essential strategy as all cars otherwise will go roughly the same speed, which I suppose is much more realistic than your typical racing game where you're just trying to go from last to first with a faster car.  And the game is nice enough to have on icon on the HUD that lets you know when you're successfully doing it or not.  And I have no idea if this type of gameplay existed in previous NASCAR or racing titles, or if it was first introduced here, but either way it was new to me.

Now, is any of that any fun?  That's hard to say.  It's definitely different, which I appreciate, but I don't know if it makes for good or interesting gameplay. And once you get over the concept and adjust to a new type of racing you are left with a pretty barebones racer on three different circular tracks.
 
As you can see graphics are ugly as hell, with barely any animation.  In fact this may be one of the ugliest games on the system.  The frame rate is decent which shouldn't be surprising considering the lack of objects or detail to the graphics.  The sound effects are pretty piss poor too.  F-Zero this is not.  It's not suprising either, because this whole ESPN line uniformly looks and sounds like shit.  Maybe the same development team put them all together.

On the other hand the game controls well enough, which is huge.  Not that there's too many demands placed on a system where the only thing you need to do is hold down the throttle and turn slightly to the left around a big oval.  But after Redline Racer any game that actually lets me stay on the track is gonna get brownie points for it, regardless.

So if you're a NASCAR fan you may enjoy a few races as you try to rub paint and slingshot past the likes of Dale Earnhardt and [insert whoever another NASCAR guy is here].  Everyone else is better off avoiding it.

Did I beat it?
Nah, it's not worth that effort.



630 - ESPN National Hockey Night



Three ESPN games down, one to go (imminently).  What a sorry-ass series all around.

Very similar to the Brett Hull series, National Hockey Night suffers from loose controls, bad graphics, and a severe lack of offense.  In fact they may as well be the same game; I had to go play them all several times just to remember which one was which.  The only reason I'm giving this guy a slight edge over those titles is the fact that it's fully licensed, and it offers both horizontal and vertical perspectives.  That may not add much for some people, but for whatever reason I seem to have a much easier time playing these games from a side view.

Once again, it's tough to explain how the controls can be slippery when you're playing a hockey game and every character is wearing skates and playing on ice.  It's one of those "you know it when you play it" sort of things.  Well nothing ever feels right with this game.  When you play EA's NHL series everything feels intuitive almost immediately; yes the players are sliding around, but it feels as it should.  This never happened with NHN.  In fact trying to make any sort of tight turn seems impossible at times and can lead to some comical scenes with players circling around a puck haplessly.

The other game-killer; lack of offense.  I never once scored a goal in this game despite playing four different games to completion.  I'm not saying hockey games shouldn't be low scoring affairs, or that I don't usually have difficulty figuring out the mechanics, but it was especially pronounced here.  And the worst part is I could never tell how my opponent scored because the graphics are so pixellated and muddy that I could never actually tell where or how the shots were going in.  So it's just an frustrating experience all-around when you can never generate any sort of rhythm, or even hope to try and set up some shots.

Finally, one last demerit; I had several games where I didn't seem to be controlling any of the players, and I never could figure out exactly why.  It only happened when I was trying to do a postseason, and it may or may not have had something to do with the difficulty setting.  So, either this was a viable setup and the game bugged out, or I got confused somewhere during one of the endless menu options.  Any way you strike it, I'm holding that against the game.  Why is it even an option to play a game like that anyways?

So overall it's just another of the endless sports games that are dominating the early goings of this project, that you'll probably forget about 3 minutes after reading this.  Hell, I had to keep playing it because I couldn't remember what to write about.  It's just not much fun, does nothing to separate itself from the pack, and is overall a soulless and forgettable experience.

Did I beat it?
*sigh*  No.  Stupid hockey.



629 - Brutal: Paws of Fury



One of the million Street Fighter II clones that flooded every system back in the early '90s, Brutal Paws seemed like it got a port on everything.  The gimmick it brought to that table is that it's a cast of anthropomorphic animals that are kicking each other's butts, instead of peoples!  And that about sums it up; it's the only remotely interesting thing about this title, everything else about it is as forgettable and generic as these things get.

Just like every single one of these games your mission is to defeat the rest of the cast (of rodents) in one on one matches, best of three.  You'll do that with a array of kicks, punches, and throws until their lifebar has been depleted.  There is nothing here you haven't seen a million times, usually done much better elsewhere.  The graphics are subpar and more cartoony than the box art would indicate, and the animation is super choppy, something especially jarring for a game trying for this sort of animated look.  The controls are also super loose with a slight delay in your inputs, neither of which is something you want to see in any game, much less something as dependant on precision as a fighter.  And finally the AI is its usual cheap-bastard self that these types of games just love to rock.  So figure out some exploits if you hope to progress anywhere.  Fun stuff.

Now the game does at least try to do a few things differently.  One is some detailed stats of your fights.  Each pre-match screen will show you your overall record for the session, and the post-match results give you list of the moves you've used and your accuracy with them

The other (relatively) big thing is letting you earn new moves as you progress through the campaign.  It's not a terrible idea; I'm one of those people that think RPG elements automatically make almost anything better.  But it's handled pretty poorly as you don't get to choose any of upgrades, they're just assigned to you.  And I don't know how worthwhile any of them were because to my eye none of this ever made any sort of difference or altered the gameplay in any real noticeable way.  Good idea, bad execution.

So at the end of the day it's yet another dumb fighter, on a platform already oversaturated with them, that can't really hold a candle to any of the genre's best.  It's not as inherently broken as something like Shaq-Fu or as soul-crushingly awful as Ballz, but it's not a game I'd ever willingly play again if I could help it.  Part of that is because I do not care for this type of game, and part of that is because Brutal Paws really just isn't any good.

Did I beat it?
I generally cannot beat fighting games.  This one is no exception.



628 - Andre Agassi Tennis



Tennis game number two, this time from TecMagik (whoever they are), Andre Agassi Tennis is a pretty wretched game and one of the last ones written up for this thread.  Mostly because I was loathe to play it, which considering the company it's keeping, says a lot.  Also the resident tennis expert bronzeshield swears by it being the worst on the system.  So if nothing else take his word for it. 

Anyways, I'll do my best to babble about it for a bit despite knowing jack about the sport...

By far the biggest issue with this game is the horrid hit detection on your racket.  That's kind of an important element in a tennis game since the gameplay basically boils down to moving and swinging.  When you can't get one of those two things right it's going to single-handedly drags the entire experience down.  Now what they have implemented is probably more realistic than most games of this type, and it wouldd make sense that the tiny racket sprite would have to connect with the ball sprite in order to make good contact and return the ball.  But that doesn't make for a good video game, especially if the tiny sprites and limited control do not lend themselves well to that sort of precision.  Games like Super Tennis are fun because they know the proper balance between realism and accessibility.

Beyond that it's a basic tennis game.  There's a two player mode, doubles matches, exhibition, and so forth.  Pretty standard stuff and nothing out of the ordinary or especially noteworthy.  Since I never successfully won a match I didn't get to progress much through the ranks of opponents so I have no idea if the AI ramps up, or if things change up much.  There's also a couple different court types but I never noticed a difference between them, and I don't know enough about the sport to know what differences to expect anyways. 

Overall just a unpleasant game that brings nothing to the table while being too frustrating to have any fun with.  Every remaining tennis game going forward will at least do one thing right, which is more than I can say about this guy.

Did I beat it?
No.  Did I beat any games in this installment?  It certainly doesn't feel like it.



627 - The Adventures of Dr. Franken



Notice how many of the bottom 100 titles have been sports or platformers so far?  Maybe because those are two genres that require some of the least amounts of imagination.  Or maybe they're two that take the least amount of effort.  Or maybe they're just the most prolific.  In any case The Adventures of Dr. Franken reeks of a lack of imagination and effort; something quickly thrown together, without any love or passion behind it, as yet another platformer with a "wacky" mascot trying to cash in on Mario and Sonic's success.

First off, what is with the title?  Is that Dr. Frankenstein or his creature?  Perhaps he is the creature in this universe?  Maybe it was explained in the manual that I don't have, or in the introductory cutscene that I didn't watch.  Assuming there even was one.  All I do know is that the game tasks "Frank" with criss-crossing the globe, piecing together the scattered parts of his passport, first aid kit, girlfriend (?!), and whatever else.  Each level is also supposed to represent the  different countries you visit during the course of your travels, though to me they all just look like dank dungeons and decrepit mansions.  So who knows why they even bothered.  And when I say you have to piece these scattered items together, I mean this is one of those "hunt for all the objects and unlock the exit" types of game, which I don't care for at all.  Especially here because that formula is extra annoying when enemies respawn, you're on a timer, and many of the objects and exits are behind secret paths.  Even in level one!

The biggest offender from that list of the crimes is easily the constantly respawning enemies.  They're already a major pain in the ass to fight because the game is not only extremely unforgiving in its setup (you have 3 lives, few hit points, recovery items are scarce, there's no continues, no passwords, no mercy) which deters you from wanting to actually fight anything, but the combat is super clunky to boot.  The fact that enemes also reappear every time their spawn point scrolls so much as a millimeter off of the screen is super aggravating on top of everything else.

The problems with the clunky combat are also myriad, to put it mildly. For one, the sprites for Frank and the enemies are super huge so you usually have little warning of them advancing upon you.  On top of that, foreground objects also often obscure them just to make matters worse.  The enemies also move super erratically so avoiding hits is often very difficult, which is not something you want in a game with unlimited respawns and a shortage of lives and heals. Worst yet though, is the awkward front kick that represents your only attack.  It will hit anything directly in front of you but exposes you to attack from enemies that are slightly above or below you.  And since most of them are flying bats, ghosts or Grim Reapers and shit, this becomes an issue. 

Now nothing I have said so far matters in comparison to the way these kicks are implemented; it's a nightmare that single-handedly drags the game down.  You see, what they were going for is similar to something like the NES version of Double Dragon II where you have different buttons for attacking in different direction (Y button will attack to your left whereas A will attack to your right).  Except here this is reversed if you are traveling fast enough.  Yes, you read that right, and no, I'm not kidding.  I can't even imagine the thinking behind that one.

Manager - "Hmm, our game seems very unforgiving, and the testers are routinely getting killed by common enemies in the early levels.  What should we do?"
Developer - "We could... reverse the controls when you're moving"
Manager - "Interesting.  That would take the focus off of all the other glaring issues."
Developer - "I was just kid-"
Manager - "Meeting adjourned!"

Can you imagine if Link swung his sword behind him when moving at full speed?  What if Samus shot her missiles downwards whenever she was jumping?  What would be the point of that?  What would you be trying to solve for?  I just don't understand what they were thinking here, at all, and it cripples what was already a stupid and broken game to begin with.

I have never beaten more than 2 levels of this game in a single attempt.  The only possible way I could see someone making a serious attempt at completing this would be through abusing save states to learn the positions of all the items, memorizing or recording those positions, hardwiring your brain to accept the reversed attacking, and then making a run at it.  And I'm not doing any of that.

Did I beat it?
Nope, though I did try my damnedest.



626 - Outlander



Does looking at that cover art or those screenshots remind you of anything?  Well it should because this game was originally meant to be a Mad Max property, specifically, an adaptation of The Road Warrior, before the developers presumably lost the license at some point.  Or perhaps the rights-holders saw what a trainwreck this game was and pulled out to save face.  I doubt it considering they had already allowed the shitty NES game to be released, but I know I'd have done everything I could to distance myself from Outlander.

You know you're in trouble as soon as the game starts and you're greeted by the Mindscape logo.  Have those dudes ever made a good game?  Not to my memory anyways.  And you don't even get a menu after the introduction, you just press start to begin a new game.  That's never a good sign either.

The game starts off with the first of the two gameplay modes; a third-person perspective driving level.  Here you have to navigate your Interceptor black car down the endless highways of the wasteland, avoiding roadblocks and fending off armed bikers.  The control isn't terrible, and there is a rather cool mechanic where any bikers who pull up alongside your car also pop up in a little frame in the corner, ready to be taken out by a shotgun blast to the face.  It's actually a rather unique little mini-game, and probably the best idea the game comes up with.  I'm surprised no one (to my knowlege) has ripped that off since.  But aside from that these segments are a giant load of crap.  The hit detection on your main forward firing gun is terrible, you take an endless number of cheap hits from enemies that never relent or give you a second to breath, and the action gets very repetitive, very quickly.  I doubt most players make it past the first segment.

If you do stick with it, and kill about five thousand bikers, your emergency lights will eventually start blinking.  This is the game telling you that you have reached the next "level" and should stop driving in order to proceed.  I guess that is the best idea they could come up with, as opposed to... I dunno, anything else?  Some sort of graphic indicating you've reached a town?  Automatically coming to a stop as the screen fades out?  Or anything that any other game has ever done to mark the end of a level?  Maybe they were trying for a more seamless experience with a minimal UI, similar to what much later games such as The Getaway or Dead Space strove for?  Who knows, but it's stupid and you'll need the manual or trial-and-error to figure it out.

Anyways once you do figure out that you need to stop you are introduced to the other style of gameplay which is a side-scrolling beat-em-up/shooter type thing.  It's just as horrible.  The graphics are NES-quality, the controls and animations bring Terminator 2 to mind, the action mindless and easily exploited once you figure it out, and the experience overall is best described as tedious and boring.  If the entire game consisted entirely of these side-scrolling bits it would have been a candidate for ranking in the 700s.

Eventually you take enough hits to die, and you get kicked back to the main menu.  Er-I mean title screen, since there is no menu in this game.  Which means this is one of those games where you have one life, no continues, and no retry system of any sort.  And it's a 3 hour long game...





I weep for the people who've completed it

Mindscape Countdown:
Captain America #676
NCAA Final Four #673
Mario's Preschool #667
The Terminator #653
Cal Ripken #649
World League Soccer #641
Outlander #626
Average = 655

Did I beat it?
No.  I probably could, given enough time, but I haven't been willing to subject myself to that just that.


Edited: 09/18/2018 at 12:13 AM by Brock Landers

Jan 19, 2018 at 4:34:56 PM
Brock Landers (55)
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625 - Troy Aikman NFL Football



Spoiler-alert: Basically any game on SNES that is "sponsored" by a pro athlete is garbage.  Especially the two games with Cowboys on the cover.  In fact when I was a kid the Niner fan in me totally revelled in how bad they were and how letdown my friends were.

If you look closely at the screenshots, you may notice that the game might kind of look familiar.  Something about the awkward stance everyone assumes, or the off-putting color scheme of everything.  Well that's because in the first installment of this project (and like 40 football games ago), I covered one of the earliest SNES titles called Pro Quarterback.  It's one of the worst games on the system; hideously ugly, completely unplayable, and lacking any features besides a single game option.  Well both games came from Tradewest, and even appear to share the same engine, so we're going to consider TAF to be the spiritual sequel to that hot garbage.  And in the years that came between these titles the developers seemed to have figured a few things out.  Namely, that being able to generate any sort of offense whatsoever is usually in a football game's best interest.  It's a novel idea, right?  Actually letting the player score touchdowns in a game where the most exciting thing that happens is scoring touchdowns.  Of course they also went too far, and in fact overcorrected this mistake by making it too easy, but I'll take it at this point.

The other major improvement over its predecessor is that TAF is also fully licensed, which was close to the norm at that point in the SNES's life cycle.  Playing as generic "San Francisco" was no longer good enough, people wanted to play as the real teams, with real players, and real announcers.  Of course that also means we have Troy's haunting, CTE-ridden gaze upon anytime we look at the cart or cover art, but it's a fair trade-off.

As for the actual gameplay itself, I guess the best word that comes to mind is "loopy."  For example, immediately after hiking the ball you can hit the dive button and your QB will more likely than not fling himself forward for an easy 7 yard gain.  Even if there are defensive lineman in the way they will make what I can best describe as a huge "backwards tackle", taking the runner down as they simultaneously change directions and gain massive speed.  In fact the only way to ever make a play on defense is to make sure you always dive before hitting the ballcarrier, something the AI almost never does.  Many of the football games on the system have a problem with both lines creating a huge mass of players that is almost impenetrable, making any sort of run up the middle of the field near-impossible.  Whereas with this game the lines may as well not exist with how big the gaps are.

Football checklist:
Running game - Laughably unstoppable and broken, as long as the defense doesn't dive at you, which the AI won't.
Passing game - Pretty poor overall, and usually a crapshoot.  It's one of those games where you'll have an open receiver and toss it his way but by the time the ball reaches him the defense has caught back up to him and makes the play
Playing defense - ...actually not that bad, as long as you always dive.  You can effectively scheme against the pass, and you can scheme against the run as long you personally the one making the tackles

Is the game terrible?  No.  Unplayable?  No.  It's just not very good, and it's terribly unbalanced.  And it doesn't come close to having the goofy charm of something like ABC Monday Night Football or Football Fury.  So call it a D+ overall.  This also all but wraps up what I would call "bad"-tier football games (finally), as every remaining title at least qualifies as mediocre in my mind.

Did I beat it?
Yes, I did an entire season.



624 - No Escape

   

Does anyone remember this movie?  No?  Hell, I'm a movie buff with an exceptional memory for this stuff (so I'm told) and I can't remember a damn thing about it despite watching it with my dad and liking it.  I guess after Goodfellas the Hollywood execs thought Ray Liotta might have a future as an action star.  Well, that hope died along with this movie at the box office, and this game did nothing to help it out.

The game plays kind of like any of the other "cinematic platformers."  By that I mean games that control like Prince of Persia, usually with rotoscoped animation (but not in this game), with each move starting an extended animation where you will lose control for a frame or two.  It leads to a very methodical type of game where you're usually trying to solve puzzles and figure out how to pass by some sort of hazard using that moveset.  It's also a very fragile balance; if it is off by even the slightest amount those same methodical controls will feel clunky and unresponsive and the gameplay moves from puzzling to frustration.  No Escape peters just on the wrong side of this balance.

Right off the bat the game throws you to the wolves by chasing you with a large mob of enemies and a number of hidden traps to stumble across.  It's a rough way to start a game and clues you in pretty quickly that this isn't gonna be any sort of hidden gem, with fugly graphics, confusing levels, and finicky mechanics.  And I'm sure this intro was meant to be faithful to the plot of the movie, but it is not a fun way to start a game.  You don't even have a chance to figure out the controls or how the game works before being forced to make a frantic and confused escape.  Luckily your guy can take a pretty absurd amount of punishment so it isn't especially hard.

After the initial chase and a short boss fight (where you get to find out how just how bad the collision detection on your attacks is) you're taken to a map of the island and a choice of several levels.  That is actually a rather cool idea, and probably the game's high point.  Not only is it fairly nonlinear, but you have an inventory that you will use to progress in different levels.  I wouldn't go so far as to compare this system to a Metroid game or anything, but at least it represents the game trying to do something

Unfortunately the level map and inventory of tools also makes it very unclear as to what you are supposed to do or where you are supposed to do it.  And to make matters worse, when you do get your ass kicked or find seemingly dead ends it's hard to tell if that's because you're trying to do things in the wrong order, of if you're missing a key item, or if the game is just being stupid and cruelly difficult and obtuse.

After a couple game overs and being kicked back to the main menu I had had enough and retired the cart.  This is another entry where there is a good game hidden in here somewhere, but the developers lacked the time, talent, or competence to unearth it.

Did I beat it?
Not so much.



623 - The Adventures of Mighty Max



Remember Mighty Max?  He was the star of a Saturday morning cartoon about a smart-alecky kid that... did... something.  Probably protected the world from some Big Bad by preventing them from retrieving the McGuffin of the week.  In any case it was basically all an excuse to promote the tie-in line of toys (or maybe I have that backwards), which themselves featured little mummy/snake/bug-shaped cases that opened to reveal a ton of tiny little action figures and choking hazards-



It was all pretty derivative and charmless, and disappeared as quickly as it came.

Well this is the video game tie-in, and it was published by our favorite boys from Bristol (or wherever), Ocean!  Which you know means it features:

1) horrible controls
2) terrible level design
3) ugly graphics
4) Z-grade music
5) unfun gameplay

As far as I can tell your goal in each level is to wander around a large area and find all of the doo-dads to open up a level exit.  Has any game in history made that design fun?  I'm trying to think of a a single one and failing.  And in AoMM I can't even figure out how you're supposed to get the items to wherever it is they're supposed to go.  You can lift them up and throw them, and there are balloons strategically placed that will carry the item away a short distance, but I've never actually managed to "solve" one of them.  Or figure out how one would even do that.

The controls are also, like I said, terrible.  Some of the worst on the platform in some ways.  You have what I like to call a "Legend of Kage" jump, in that it sends you up into the stratosphere without any sense of gravity or inertia.  And you move way too fast for your own good which will send you recklessly into enemies repeatedly.  It all lends to a overall sense of feeling out of control.  And to a lot of deaths.  You have several health points, and several lives, but be prepared to burn through all of them quite quickly until you get a feel for the game.  If you can.  Your best best is probably moving very slowly and deliberately so you can clear out enemies before you run into them, and avoiding jumping at all costs.  Sounds riveting, right?

Anyways I've tried a couple times to make some progress, and have never succeeded.  With most games that would usually mean it was time to bust out a guide or longplay to help hold my hand, but I can't even be bothered to do that here.  Which pretty much sums up my thoughts on this game.  Bored apathy to such a degree that I won't type "Mighty Max SNES Longplay" into my search bar.

Ocean Countdown:
Cool World #696
RoboCop 3 #695
The Flintstones #642
Eek! the Cat #639
Mighty Max #623
Average = 659

Did I beat it?
No.  I'm not sure even cleared a single level.



622 - Kawasaki Superbike Challenge



The first of the two Kawasaki games on the Super Nintendo, neither of which is actually related in any way with different developers and publishers and completely different playstyles.  That doesn't stop them from being nearly equally as bad, and a massive chore to attempt to play.  So we'll call it a coincidence that they are two of the worst racing games on the system, occupying spots in the list that are very close to one another.

Superbike Challenge was the latter of the two releases, and probably the one people are less familiar with.  It also has to be one of the most baffling games on the system.  Regardless of the number of tries I put into the game I have yet to be competitive in a single race, or even fully understand what is going on.  I've even read the manual and watched a longplay, to no avail.  Now to be fair to the game I'm pretty terrible at racers in general, and often have a pretty low threshold for suffering their abuses, but KSC pushes me away even faster than usual.  Hell, even resident racing queen Bea hates this game's guts, and she loves terrible games.

Like most of the racers on the system the game gives you a choice of several different options including single race, championship, and the Suzuka 8 Hour event.  I'm not entirely sure what that is, but most of the motorcyle games seem to offer it so it must be the Super Bowl of bike races or something.   Beyond that you have the usual tuning options to tinker around with before you head off to a race.  It's definitely not as deep as some of the formula one simulations, for better or worse I guess.

The racing action itself is a mixed bag.  The graphics have some nice detail, and give a nice sensation of speed, but suffer from some pretty bad pop-up and a dipping framerate when other racers are onscreen.  Not that they're onscreen much because they're usually too busy blowing past you.  And both of those shortcomings contribute towards making the already unforgiving turns into racing deathtraps.  Touching any object will cause a crash and and trigger an extended animation of your rider launching off of the bike, tumbling head over heels for a bit.  I'd also say a single one of these kills your chances of hoping for a competitive finish, but I have yet to finish in anything other than dead last so I don't actually know how to be competitive in the first place.

Which takes me to my main issue with this game; it's too damn hard.  I'm not very good at racing games; it took me many, many tries to finish a game as simple as Top Gear, and I have yet to finish classic Nintendo games like F-Zero or Rad Racer.  But I can't even make headway on the opponents of the first race here.  So either this game is incredibly unforgiving and difficult, or I'm just exceptionally bad at it, or I'm completely overlooking some core aspect of the gameplay that is crippling my performance.  Either way, I've tried it four different times, all ending in the same result.  That is more than enough time spent on this POS.

Did I beat it?
I almost didn't get dead last once.  No, that's a lie, it was never in doubt.



621 - Timon & Pumbaa's Jungle Games



Jungle Games is a collection of mini-games based on The Lion King, centering around the obnoxious charming duo of miscreants voiced by Nathan Lane and some guy.  Each mini-game is a barely disguised rip-off of other, more successful franchises or genres, and ranges in quality from fairly terrible to slightly terrible.

Jungle Pinball - Easily the worst pinball game I've ever played. The ball physics are nonexistent, the table is barren and boring, the controls are unresponsive (how is that possible when the only thing you need to do is move flippers?), and the lost balls are plentiful and always frustrating.

Hippo Hop - The world's worst version of Frogger.  You guide Timon across hippos, logs, and turtles, gathering insects and... actually that's it.  There's no finish to reach, no enemies, no higher goal.  Or maybe there is and I never got far enough to find out thanks to the unresponsive controls and delayed character animations.  At least you get to drown Timon. (note - I now see in the pic above that there is a spot in the grass you're supposed to guide him to.  Oh well)

Burper - Similar to early shooters like Galaga or Space Invaders.  Shoot falling insects with Pumbaa's toxic belches, and try to squash them with your tail if they land.  Somehow this is even worse than the previous two mini-games.  The mechanics are stupid and not fun, your rate of attack is even slower than Space Invaders, it controls like shit, and once again, I don't know what the overall goal is.  If it even has one.  I found playing this for more than a few minutes to be intolerable.

Slingshooter - Shooting gallery where you use a slingshot against various jungle animals.  I don't entirely understand it; you need to hit x number of targets each round, some of which count, some of which do not.  Hitting a hyena moves you closer to your goal for obvious reasons, but why do some birds help and others do not?  Why am I murdering squirrels?  Does the Serengeti even have squirrels?  This is probably the closest thing to a real game in the lot, but I also question why a game meant for children has you shooting animals in the face...

So for a kid's game you could do worse.  It may be a shitty end product but it isn't as mind numbingly boring as the preschool games, or as insulting as the Barbie game.  So it's got that going for it.

THQ Countdown:
Pit Fighter #713
Race Drivin' #712
Rocky & Bullwinkle #699
Wayne's World #679
Road Riot 4WD #675
Thomas the Tank Engine #670
The Great Waldo Search #663
Time Warp #636
Timon & Pumbaa #621
Average = 674.22

Did I beat it?
Er, can this be beaten?



620 - Revolution X



So... a light gun game that mixes a dystopian future with Aerosmith?  Sure, why not? Anything and everything was being greenlit back in the day so this shouldn't be a shocker to anyone.

I'm trying to figure out other ways to say "this game is shit" because I feel like I've typed that a lot already.  This game is sans fun?  An unpleasant experience?  It's as good as a shooter featuring Aerosmith could possibly be?  Or not be...  Anyways, Revolution X is probably the worst light gun game I've ever played, and easily the worst one on the SNES.  And I really don't care for T2: The Arcade Game, so that is saying something.

The biggest problem with the game is that everything about the design is cheap as hell and was obviously meant to suck up quarters in its original arcade incarnation.  The enemies take an absurd number of shots to put down and spill endlessly out of every corner of the screen in bunches.  All the time.  So playing the game means trying to contain the onslaught and not getting overwhelmed.  That does not make for a fun experience.  Sometimes the enemies even shoot you from offscreen.  I mean, really?  I've never heard of that happening in this type of game, probably because everyone else had the good sense not to do it.  (update - T2:TAG does it as well.  Fucking Acclaim)

The slowdown is also extremely bad.  Your main gun is some sort of machine gun deal, but when enemies start filling up the screen it starts acting like a semi-automatic.  What's worse is that when you hold down the fire button your gun also launches CDs for extra damage.  Doing any real damage is dependent on this, but it slows down the action even more.  So using them with any accuracy becomes nearly impossible.

The boss fights are a damn mess too.  This is one of those games that didn't think it was necessary to tip you off with some sort of onscreen indicator that you're actually doing damage, which leads to all sorts of guesswork trying to figure out what to do. Since every one of bosses has various components that need to be individually destroyed you just have to put extended fire into each and every sprite until it does or doesn't explode.  The final guy is the worst offender of all because he is a massive bullet sponge.  You'll be forgiven for thinking you're doing something wrong after pumping a thousand rounds into him with seemingly no impact or feedback.

The graphics, like any game of the era that used digitized images, have aged horribly.  Assuming they weren't always considered terrible.  And all of the animations and characters models suffer from pretty low detail or are compressed to hell.  Thank God this style of art design died out along with games like this.

As you'd expect the soundtrack features a few Aerosmith song samples here and there, such as Dude Looks Like A Lady during the ending.  But mostly it consists of what is otherwise just generic crap.  Perhaps that has something to do with the limitations of the SNES and the cartridge format, but just like with RapJam Volume One I have to wonder why they even bothered tying their game to a band if they didn't plan on fully exploiting their catalog.  Or maybe I'm mistaken, and all of the tinny, repetitive "tunes" you can barely make out in the background actually are (supposed to be) Aerosmith songs.  Either way I shouldn't complain because I do not care for their music at all, but it seems like a tease for any actual fans.

There's also a number of soundbites from the band members.  Every one of them is delivered in a very stiff and unintentionally funny way.  Clearly none of the 'smith boys have an acting bone in their collective bodies:





"These guys are maggots, they're putting chemicals in all our food."  Tommy Wiseau would be proud of that delivery.

Did I enjoy anything about this game?  Well, the ludicrousness of it all gives it a little kitsch value.  And one of the levels has you riding in an elevator while Love In an Elevator muzak plays.  I thought that was pretty clever.

LJN/Acclaim Countdown:
NBA All-Star Challenge #697
T2 #692
Champions World Class Soccer #684
Foreman For Real #674
Rise of the Robots #671
George Foreman KO #651
Batman Forever #645
Revolution X #620
Average = 666.75

Did I beat it?
Yes, it has unlimited continues so anyone who feels like being miserable for an hour can do it.



619 - ESPN Baseball Tonight



The second baseball game so far, and the third game from Sony's ESPN line.  This is a game I really wanted to like.  I mean, I try to like every game in the interest of giving everything a fair and honest shake for this project, but I seem to try extra hard with baseball games.  Maybe because I love the sport or maybe because the games have relatively large learning curves that tantalize the promise of hidden depths to discover and master.  In any case, this game just can't seem to requite that love, or fulfill that promise.

First off, the game is fully licensed, which I always appreciate.  You can immediately adjust your pitching strategy if Ken Griffey Jr. or Barry Bonds steps up to the plate.  It's harder to judge when it's a generic made-up player.  Plus I always love to rock my hapless Oakland Athletics.

The graphics are not very good.  For whatever reason that is another trend with the ESPN line, as every single game has looked somewhere between hideous and subpar.  It ain't as bad as Speedworld or Sunday Night Football, but it's still in the running for ugliest baseball sim on the platform.

The gameplay, is very much a mixed bag.  It has all the elements in place that should make up a good baseball game; a decent number of pitching options, relatively straightforward batting that isn't overly finicky about making contact, a good fielding angle, and a pretty good pace of play.  The problem is that nothing ever plays out organically, or ever resembles a real baseball game.  Despite the seemingly infinite number of possible pitch and swing combinations, virtually every ball put into play seems to follow about one of a dozen set patterns.  Most of the time you'll either line it to the first or third baseman, or hit it foul just outside the line.  Occasional bloop hits will always bounce once and then move towards the 2B or SS, or they'll go just over the infielder's head.   Ropes to the outfield always go to the gaps, or are 450+ foot home run.  Short flares will always go just over the infielder's outside shoulder.  Every single play seems to fall into one of those categories and there is no such thing as a pop up, or a hit to center field or the pitcher, or a hit directly to an outfielder, and so forth.  And in case you can't guess, that is a pretty significant flaw for a baseball game.

The baserunning is also a trainwreck.  I swear to God that the controls depend on where the baserunner is, because nothing seems to happen consistently.  Or maybe it just eats the hell out of my inputs, I can't tell.  Sometimes it seems the solution is to hold the A-B-X-Y buttons to signify a runner, and the d-pad tells them where to go.  But sometimes this does nothing.  And I can never seem to make anyone leave 2nd without mashing every combination of buttons I can think of.  It's a disaster.  On the bright side though, is the fact the AI is completely incapable of picking you off.  So my advice is to send all of your runners all the time.  If you're not gonna beat out the throw just send them back, because the AI is not smart enough to throw the ball back to their original base.  I exploited the hell out of this to play through the game.

The AI is also completely and utterly [insert a not PC word here].  95% of batters can be baffled by endless change-ups down the middle of the plate.  It doesn't matter who the pitcher is, who the batter is, what the count is, or who's on base.  They'll either strike out looking, or line-out out to the first baseman.  This only becomes pronounced later in each game too, for whatever reason.  In fact I'd say every run scored against me was in the first three innings of a game, despite my pitching strategies never changing.

Just like everything else, batting does not stand up to any level of scrutiny either.  95% of the pitches the AI throws are going to resemble Mariano Rivera cutters.  By that I mean it's a fastball with sudden sharp movement towards the end of the pitch.  Any baseball fan knows that these are basically impossible to hit.  The solution?  Swing at every single pitch, regardless of where you think it's going, always trying to pull the ball.  As long as you can occasionally make contact, accidentally or not, the odds of getting on base end up being pretty good.  Just don't try to waste your time reading pitches or adjusting your stance.  You can't play this like a real baseball game after all.

I could go on forever with the flaws in how the games play out.  Any ball you line to the wall will still be a single thanks to the mach speed of the outfielders is an automatic double because there is no cutoff man.  Picking off a base runner seems impossible, even if they try to steal on a 98 mph pitch down the middle of the plate.  Hitting or predicting the cutters is impossible.  And on and on.  I don't know if this game just wasn't finished when they shipped or what, because this definitely feels like a decent game that only got halfway through development.

But Is it fair to judge this game solely by how closely it resembles real baseball action anways?  After all many of the system's best football and basketball games play out in a very unrealistic, arcade-like manner too, and I don't always hold that against them.  And I adore Super Baseball 2020.  Well I don't know.  I try to play every game on its own terms with an open mind, and I feel like BT is a failure even in that sense (if that even makes sense).  It's a game that tries to be a simulation, but plays like the beta of an arcade game, clearly unfinished and rushed out the door.

Did I beat it?
No, but I am currently working on it as of this writing
Yes, I did a perfect 11-0 postseason with the Padres, sometimes winning by 20+.



618 - Air Cavalry



The first of many air combat games on the system, and my pick for the worst of the lot.  Air Cavalry is an extremely lackluster helicopter sim that is confusing, frustrating, poorly controlling, ugly, obnoxious, and not a ton of fun.  But it does have cooperative play and a decent amount of content, for whatever that is worth.

First off, consoles are not really the natural habitat for this sort of game.  When you think of great air combat simulations of the day you think of classics like Sid Meier's F-15 Strike Eagle I/II or the numerous offerings from Jane's, on PC with a flight stick and a keyboard.  There you have full control with buttons dedicated to everything from your landing gear to your windshield wipers and the horsepower capable of rendering a 3D landscape and models at more than 3 frames per second.  Anything on a console is probably gonna be a bastardized version of this experience, compromising depth, control and options for a more intuitive arcade-like experience capable of being enjoyed with a controller.  And some games get away with this better than others.

AC offers the choice of three campaigns, each of which represents a different tier of difficulty, and consists of roughly a dozen individual mission.  Each of those missions will task you with destroying x number of enemy vehicles, SAMS, or fuel tanks, or will be a rescue mission.  Regardless of your objective they all play out almost exactly the same.  Depending on the sortie you'll be given control of various helicopters including Blackhawks, Apaches, Little Birds, or something called a ____ (note - what the fuck was that thing called?) which is super overpowered and lays waste to everything.  Perhaps it was an early design of the Comanche or something, I dunno.  None of these choppers play noticeably different from one other, they just have different armaments, and seem to be able to take differing amounts of punishment before they crash.

The missions themselves are fairly simple affairs that pop you into a rectangular map that is absolutely chock-full of enemies.  And by that I mean you're usually under fire immediately, and you better get used to that too because this game is relentless.  It's rare that you'll have an opportunity to take a breath and orient yourself or plan a strategy, or even simply regain your composure, because you are seemingly always being attacked.  And even with most of the buttons dedicated to moving your craft in various directions, it's pretty damn hard to dodge anything for the most part too. 

There is no in-game timer, but you're better off pretending there is because it's always only a matter of time before you're either shot down or your fuel tank is shot up and you crash.  So killing your enemies quickly and making a beeline to your objectives is the name of the game.  Which only brings even more issues to light, like the fact that you can never tell where you are; everything looks exactly the same and you cannot access the map from in-game (you get a glimpse of it during the mission briefing, that is it).  Or the fact that the missions are extremely unbalanced and unpredictable in their difficulty or requirements.  In fact it is sometimes possible to complete your objective in under ten seconds if you know where to fly.  So don't expect any of the campaigns to ramp up in difficulty because they're all over the damn place.  And finally, indistinguishable from the enemy are your own allied tanks and APCs.  The only way to know which are which (besides their position, which you'll rapidly lose track of) is a description of your target located down below in the cockpit.  But this is a game where you need to shoot first and ask questions later if you want to have any hope of surviving, and unfortunately in this case killing a teammate in just two different missions will automatically send you to the game over screen, regardless of remaining lives.

So it's a schizophrenic experience.  A simulation that has to be played like an arcade game if you want to get anywhere, but at the same time endlessly punishes you for it.  A game without an identity in other words.

In addition to the three campaigns there are several multiplayer modes, including cooperative play, but, like I've said so many times before, I never got a chance to try them out.  Cool idea, but I can't really weigh it in my opinion.

So overall, not a very enjoyable experience.  I'm generally pretty forgiving with these games, and most of them will appear relatively high in the rankings.  But I hate games that are a never-ending bout of anxiety, and that's exactly what this is.

Did I beat it?
Yes, just the Middle East campaign though.  I'd need to recover for a year or three before I'd be brave enough to attempt Indonesia or whatever the third one was.



617 - Championship Pool



Okay for the record I really, really do not like the sport of pool and I especially cannot stand pool video games.  I love most other sports, I love video games, and I enjoy other bar games like shuffleboard and darts, but it's just not for me.  Something about the entire experience I find quite maddening, or perhaps alcohol just impedes my ability to do basic geometry or see straight.  Any way you put it though, this game is horrible.

Championship Pool offers several different types of gameplay modes, which you can see up above, and different options within those modes.  For obvious reasons I focused on the single player modes of tournament and challenge for the purposes of writing this review.

The tournaments are pretty straightforward. You're given a choice of 8-Ball or 9-Ball, and placed in a bracket where you must advance through a series of head-to-head matchups.  Perhaps that is how real pool tournaments work, I don't know.  All I do know is that despite hours of trying I have successfully defeated the first opponent of this tournament almost once.  Maybe twice.  95% of the time it's not even close.  And that is due to two glaring problems with the game's design...

One - If you miss a shot you probably lose.  If you miss two shots you definitely lose.  That's probably fairly realistic for an actual tournament, but this is a video game, not real life.  Or at least you'd think the earlier opponents would offer a softer challenge to ease you into the game a bit.  This also ties directly into the other issue...

Two - There is a random element to every shot's trajectory.  To my best (albeit limited) understanding of the game, this is something that can never be reduced or removed, which is crazy because it is completely at odds with the first problem.  If you have a game that must be played error-free in order to succeed, you cannot force errors onto the player.  So beating an opponent seems like a series of coin flips where you'd have to successfully call it five consecutive times in order to win.  There's also no continues or save scumming that can be taken advantage of either, so you do the math on the odds of actually winning the entire tournament.

Now perhaps I'm just a moron and this game successfully confused me.  Or perhaps there are mechanics or tricks to it that eluded my simpleton brain.  But the notorious reputation of the difficulty of both this and of NES version tells me I'm probably not too far off.  Plus it's a Mindscape game and God knows those idiots seem incapable of doing anything right.  So I'm assuming the game is as broken as it appears, and another player's experience will mirror my own.  And no-one is gonna have fun when they're dealing with a sky-high frustration factor and an extreme lack of forgiveness.  Not that pool is a very forgiving game in the first place, but this game is merciless.  So if you have to play this damned sport on the SNES, play Side Pocket.  That game also kind of sucks, but at least you can probably get good at it if you so desire.

Mindscape Countdown:
Captain America #676
NCAA Final Four #673
Mario's Preschool #667
The Terminator #653
Cal Ripken #649
World League Soccer #641
Outlander #626
Championship Pool #617
Average = 650.3

Did I beat it?
Nope.  I struggle to get past the first round.



616 - Roger Clemens' MVP Baseball



LJN does baseball.  Need I say more?

A number of baseball games feature what I like to call the "shimmy."  By that I am referring to pitches that can be slown down, sped up, and moved all around.  In other words, you can move the ball in mid-air.  If you've played black box Baseball for NES you know what I'm talking about.  Games that offer that level of control generally favor the defense because of just how unpredictable this movement is, which makes it extremely hard to read or react to.  And it's a mixed bag with Roger Clemens' MVP Baseball because of how lethal the AI's batters are.

When pitching in this game you're best off completely avoiding any type of fastballs or changeup because both seem useless; the AI will lay wood to 99% of them for easy hits to the outfield (or worse).  So you're gonna have to rely on what approximates a slider or cutter; fast pitches that will break in or away from the batter.  You see this is one of those games where the only way to fool the batters is to find a blind spot in the AI, and exploit the hell out of it with every pitch.  This isn't very fun to me and it gets very old very fast.  In the later innings your pitches will cease to have any movement at all.  I think that's how the game tells you the pitcher is tired, though I wish it had some sort of onscreen stamina meter or something.

Generating any sort of offense also seems nearly impossible.  There is only one type of swing so you just need to make good contact, but that never seems to happens, so you cannot string any hits together.  This is also one of those games where the fastballs are so fast and the changeups so slow that you just have to guess what is coming and commit before the ball even leaves the pitcher's hand.  Granted that is similar to how the real sport works, but at least there the players have studied the pitcher's tendencies and can try to spot his tells or his grip on the ball or something.  In a video game it's just complete chance.  My advice is to just guess fastball every time, swing, and hope for the best.

The fielding is the worst part of the game though, and is overall a massive pain-in-the-ass.  Probably the worst I've ever seen in any baseball game outside of BBB.  Besides the fact that you cannot tell the depth of the fly balls due to the way camera orients (low and behind the outfielders shoulder) is the way the controls for throwing the ball in are the reverse of other baseball games.  By that I mean it is intuitive to think holding left will aim towards the base on your left, which in this case is first.  But it doesn't, it throws to third.  That would make sense if the camera was pointing out towards the outfield from the batter's box, but it's not.  This is something I can't ever seem to get used to, and any sort of pause on your part whatsoever will usually cost you a base.  A really, really stupid design snafu here.

This is also one of those baseball games where pop outs will trigger all of your runners to try and advance; there is no innate AI for tagging up.  So you have to manually corral them all back to their bases and fly balls are thusly a nightmare.  Usually I don't even notice until they get thrown out.  It's bad enough I can't get anyone on base, but then the few who do then sabotage me further?  Very frustrating.

This is an early title so of course there are no licenses of any type.  Par for the course there.  Though they at least tried to make everything match up with real life in an intuitive way I guess.  So the sluggers in Oakland are named Jose and Mark Bash for example.  That has to count for something.

So, yeah, what else needs to be said?  I compared this thing to the NES black box title several times, and that's all you should need to know if you've played that game before, because that is not the sort of company you want to keep.  Everything about the game is a poor effort, with no single part or mechanic shining through, and way more frustration than any sort of enjoyment.

LJN/Acclaim Countdown:
NBA All-Star Challenge #697
T2 #692
Champions World Class Soccer #684
Foreman For Real #674
Rise of the Robots #671
George Foreman KO #651
Batman Forever #645
Revolution X #620
Roger Clemens #616
Average = 661.11

Did I beat it?
Of course not.



615 - Dennis the Menace



Ocean strikes again with another poorly designed, poorly controlling, and overly-annoying movie platformer that never had any business being a game in the first place.  And, like usual, the game itself has noting to do with the movie, a few likenesses aside. (I guess I'm just assuming that, since I haven't seen it since it was in theaters over 20 years ago, but let's just say it's a pretty safe bet.)

And it gets off to a wretched start by immediately dropping you off into a relatively open-ended level with an unkillable Mr. Wilson and some "hunt for every object" type of gameplay that you'd need a manual to catch onto.  I doubt 98% of players last more than a few minutes.  In fact I'd say this is probably the hardest and most confusing level until you reach the sewers later in the game; so a really stupid move overall by the developers.

The controls are pretty bad, but they're at least more functional than games like previous Ocean entry The Flintstones.  This is a title where you need to be constantly holding the run key in order to successfully make most jumps, but you also need to be constantly firing.  So prepare for some finger gymnastics.  Everything is passable enough until later in the game where some precision jumping and control are required, and unfortunately the game really starts to fall apart at that point.  But I'll get to that in a bit here.

Each world consists of 4 levels (or 3 on easy), followed by a boss fight.  And each level tasks you with locating 4 large coins and then a level exit before the clock counts down from 999.  Luckily, this limit is more than enough on most of the levels.  However, some of them, mostly the boiler levels that make up world 2, are quite expansive, and they do a good job of hiding some of the coins.  You're probably going to be repeatedly climbing to great heights just so you can take some blind leaps back down and hope you catch sight of a coin on the way down.  If you overlook one, and this is a very real possiblity, you'll be in jeopardy of running the clock out.  And if you do that, you get an immediate game over.  This can mean up to 9 lives lost, all at once.  Now I've never had this happen, but I got close a few times, and I would have turned the game off if it had happened.  Just a really stupid design decision.

Now once you get to world 3 (the sewers) is when the game's difficulty curves really starts amping up and the game steadily moves from mildly irritating, to challenging and annoying.  In fact I'd say the sewer levels are where things really start falling apart.  A game's controls and mechanics need to be completely solid to support this type of unforgiving level design, and let's just say that is not the case here.  There's no room for error on the endless jumps over instant-death falls, and the platforms you're required to land on are often very tiny.  You can reasonably expect to suffer most of your deaths for the entire game here.  The boss of this world is also a massive headache.  It's a sardine (or something) that tries to skewer you while you move between two disappearing platforms, and a rotating wheel of (also disappearing) platforms.  It's a fucking headache and a half.  I actually beat the final boss in one attempt, whereas this stupid fish had me plunge to my death at least a dozen times.

Luckily despite all of these flaws the game is very beatable because it is super forgiving with lives and continues, and routintely throws extra lives.  So even the most tedious of obstacles can eventually be overcome with some persistence and practice.

Overall the game could easily be in the bottom 50, as I basically cannot think of any redeeming factors to it.  Dumb levels, dumb controls, dumb license, aggravating second half.  But since I actually managed to get most of the way through the game once before I got a game over, and then stuck with it again until I completed it, it tells me one of two things must be true.  Either I've been drunk every time I've played it and lost the ability to make rational decisions, or the game is just tolerable enough that I can endure sticking with it as much as I have.  Probably both.

Ocean Countdown:
Cool World #696
RoboCop 3 #695
The Flintstones #642
Eek! the Cat #639
Mighty Max #623
Dennis the Menace #615
Average = 651.67

Did I beat it?
Yes.  It took awhile but I fucking did it.


 
614 - The Sporting News Baseball



Three baseball games nearly in a row?  I swear that wasn't planned, things sort of just played out that way.  When you're ranking 700+ games that have wildly varying genres, scope and production value, you just kinda have to use your gut when deciding where everything is gonna go.  And I guess my gut is telling me that I had a pretty similar experience with all three.

We'll start with batting this time, and boy does it feel harder here than anywhere else by a pretty decent margin.  There's usually a learning curve to hitting in these games, which I think is a good thing because it lends them some depth and an air of realism.  You'll need to learn the timing of your swing, and how to adjust to the ball's movement, especially in titles that let the pitcher "shimmy" the ball in mid-air.  Well, none of that happens here because the pitches are either overwhelmingly fast, or extremely slow.  So just like with Roger Clemens MVP Baseball you're gonna have to guess what's coming before it leaves the pitcher's hand and hope that you get lucky.  You won't even have time to check your swing most of the time, so you're better of just predetermining whether or not you're gonna go for it ahead of time.  It's very unsatisfying, and probably second only to the Cal Ripken game for offensive ineptitude.

Pitching is pretty nondescript and by the books.  You have limited options so you really just choose a pitch type and then let it sail and see if you were lucky or not.  I couldn't find anything resembling an exploit, and there didn't appear to be much of a pattern to what was successful or not.  The AI would either record three quick outs, or hammer half a dozen balls to the outfield in a row.  I couldn't ever identity a reason for anything happening, so I'm calling it purely luck driven.

This is actually the second Hudson Soft title on the list so far, after Bill Laimbeer's Combat Basketball, which I think further validates the theory that knowing how to put together a platformer or shooter doesn't mean you'll know shit about producing sports games.  Of course this game is also a part of a series that had three other Super Famicom-only releases, so maybe I don't know what the hell I'm talking about and Hudson Soft was nailing it.  Color me baffled.

Did I beat it?
No, I have beat very few baseball games on this system.






613 - Super Godzilla



So I guess the idea with this game is that you are Godzilla, tasked with destroying a greatest hits collection of his rubbery foes in a mash-up of the strategy and fighting game genres.  And much like with the movies themselves I'm sure fans will eat it up whilst everyone else will be briefly amused before boredom and/or bafflement slowly settle in.

The games plays out in different phases.  The first, where you'll probably be spending most of your time, resembles a quasi-turn-based strategy game, and has you moving Godzilla around a square-grid map representing various areas or cities in Japan.  You'll need to avoid walking into buildings or mountains lest you destroy them and injure yourself in the process, and you'll also have to fend off the military in the form of tanks parked in many of the maps' chokepoints.  Why are they attacking you when you're trying to save Japan from the other rubber monsters?  I have no idea.  I never really understood the franchise's ethos in this regard, and didn't even try to change that by following the storyline here.  Assuming it even has one.

Moving around the map is automatic, the only thing you actually control is which direction 'zilla faces, and he will lumber forward at a steady pace.  Hazards and enemies will pop up once you get near them, and you can decide whether or not you want to barrel through them or find an alternate path.  Sometimes you'll encounter objects or characters that trigger an event, such as the appearance of your foe.  Eventually you'll track down your enemy and enter the second part of the game, the fighting mode of sorts.  This is where things fall apart.

The mechanics of these fights are... unique.  I can't really think of anything else like it.  Probably because everyone else had the sense to implement something fun.  You and your foe are on a 2D plane and can slowly move towards one another to get within attack range.  Nothing too unusual about that.  What is unique, are the attack bars below the action that are constantly moving up and down.  The rough idea is that these represent your attack power or readiness or something and that you should strike your opponent while yours is high and his is low.  This also sets up the ability to trigger a follow-up special attack, which again is dependent on the bar and the distance between you and your foe.  Now if there is a secret to consistently getting good results from this system, it is beyond me.  Your foes generally have a longer reach than you, and can sit back and wait for you try to make a move.  As you slowly lumber towards them it's almost impossible to try and time anything in coordination with the power bars, and you'll be at their mercy.  So be prepared to get hit by enemy specials over and over again while you're merely trying to maneuver into position.  It gets very old, very fast.

Kind of like the film series this is based on, I really wish I could like this game.  I generally like strategy games, and the idea of a tactical game where combat plays out like a fighter is not a bad one; in the right hands it could be a wonderful mix.  But when the fighting engine is as badly implemented as it is here it drags everything else down and ruins the experience.  I'm sure Super Godzilla has its fans, and there's a good game buried in here somewhere, but at the end of the day the bad outweighs the good.

Did I beat it?
No, I got through several missions before my continues were bled dry.



612 - Faceball 2000



What's the world's first shooter?  Battlezone?  Or perhaps some obscure but similar title?  Well if the first landmark title for modern shooters is Wolfenstein 3D, and I had to place Faceball 2000 somewhere on a scale between those two titles, it would be much closer to the former.  That's a bad thing.

FB2K does add a number of things to the formula that did seem ahead of its time when it was first released on the Commodore 64 in the mid '80s.  The graphics are fully 3D, there are multiple enemy types each with their own behaviors, tons of secrets, regenerating health, and even a second campaign that can be unlocked.  It was an ambitious game, that probably more than accomplished what it set out to do.

Unfortunately the way every single one of these things was implemented, and every other aspect of the gameplay, has aged horribly.  I know there have been a number of debates on Nintendo Age as to whether or not that is even really a thing (you can guess where my flag is planted), and if you think the idea is rubbish then there is probably nothing I can say that will change your mind.  But if you do subscribe to the theory, understand that this is the game that perfectly captures the concept.  Every single part of its design is rendered so obsolete by the million titles that have come since that it is nothing more than a historical curiosity piece at this point in time.

First off, the gameplay is extremely basic.  Each level sets you down in an small arena with various polygonal enemies zipping around in pre-set patterns.  The goal is to destroy each one of them at which point a level exit will appear.  Each arena is not only small, but is packed full of enemies and devoid of anything resembling a safe spot.  I guess the idea is to always keep you on your toes.  I just feel perpetually anxious waiting for an unseen and completely silent enemy to bite into the back of my head.  It's not a good feeling.

Your main (only) attack is a slow firing pellet that travels out in a straight line in front of you, not stopping until it hits an enemy or a wall.  It moves at about .01 miles per hour, and will obscure the entire screen when you fire., and it will quickly become apparant why no other shooter has ever mimicked it.  Because it's so slow, and because you are blinded every time you fire, it makes hitting anything a real chore.  And not only that, but it becomes hard to even know if you did hit anything.

The graphics are understandly basic; this is a port of a game from the mid-80s after all.  And to even get the thing running at all they had to squeeze everything into a tiny window in the middle of your gargauntuan (and useless) UI.  So you feel like you're playing through a periscope or something.  And don't even bother trying the multi player, the frame rate is already painful enough with one player.

So in summary, imagine playing Wolfenstein 3D, but it's way uglier, the levels are a thousand times smaller, you only have a pistol, the bullets travel at a crawl, you're blinded every time you fire it, there is no audible or visual clues to let you know you hit or killed your enemies, there's no strafe, the frame rate is lumbering at best, and everything about the experience is a pain in the ass.  That's this game.

Did I beat it?
No, but I got a pretty decent ways through it.



611 - Kawasaki Caribbean Challenge



The other Kawasaki Challenge game that, again, have nothing to do with each other; playing completely different and coming from different developers and publishers.  I'm calling this is the better of the two mostly because I can almost compete in the races, but it's still a bad game with endless frustration and irritating mechanics.  In fact I think I must have this as the lowest-ranked top-down racer, a genre awash with mediocre-to-bad titles mostly because it's a formula that is very hard to get right.

Caribbean Challenge offers motorcyle and jet ski racing, though they both play very similarly, if not exactly the same.  I'm not entirely sure how the main campaign works, just that it breaks things up into groups of two or more races at time, requiring you to earn a certain threshold of points across those races in order to progress, with each one being four laps around a smallish track against three opponents that takes a couple minutes to complete at most.  And then at the end you presumably win if you have earned x number of points in total.

The racing itself is very straightforward; A for gas, B for brake.  That's it.  And that sort simplicity can work very well in racing games.  I'm a pretty big fan of stuff like Off-Road and Indy Heat, and the Micro Machines franchise is great.  But it is just not done very well here.  Your vehicle feels excessively slippery going around turns, which often spells disaster.  If you so much as touch any one of the track barriers you're gonna be ground to a halt, and very likely cost yourself the race.  I have yet to complete a lap of any race without doing this at least once.  Furthermore the opponent vehicles love to move in a pre-determined path around each course, and they're pretty good about hugging the inside corner of the turns too.  If at any point you get anywhere near any of them you're gonna get knocked around and crash into the barrier.  And since the turns are your best opportunity for passing them, you can see how this all adds up to a very frustrating experience.  It's a game where you need to place well to advance, and in order to place you well you need to not crash, which means passing the other racers on turns, which means crashing and losing.  It's the Catch-22 of Super Nintendo games.

Since I'm terrible at racing games I once again did not get very far for this review.  And just like with Redline and Superbike Challenge I only have the first 10-15 minutes of the game to go on despite trying it quite a few times.  Perhaps the tracks get better later on, or the game adds some new wrinkle to make things more interesting.  I'll never know.

Did I beat it?
No, it's a racing game so that is a foregone conclusion.



610 - WWF Super Wrestlemania



Did I beat it?
What do you think?

609 - WWF Royal Rumble



Did I beat it?
What do you think?
 
608 - WWF Raw



Booooo!  Hisss! 
I grew up with these games!
Brock, you fucking idiot, you don't know what you're talking about.


I am perfectly aware that these games are held in relatively high regard.  And I don't just mean by hardcore wrestling fans and nostalgia enthusiasts, but seemingly everyone...



...and I've tried to understand.  I've played every mode of all three games.  I've put the time in to try and get a grip with the mechanics.  I've tried to adopt the mindset that these are a genre unto themselves and that you cannot think of them as fighters, brawlers, or sports titles.  I've even tried to put myself in the shoes of a 10 year old kid running home to watch the show and then re-enacting the fights with his action figures and video games afterwards.

And it's all failed.  I just.  Don't.  Get it.  It's like taking someone who has never watched a minute of American Football in his life, and tasking them with playing Madden.  They'd be hopelessly lost, and for good reason; that shit is befuddling to the uninitiated.  And that is exactly how I feel about wrestling games.  But it's not just confusion on my end that lead to these low rankings, because I swear there is no way these can be considered objectively good either.  I mean, if you applied this gameplay to say, a Double Dragon game, would anyone think it was put together well?  Would anyone think it was anything other than unplayable?  Or am I comparing apples and oranges and I'm asking an invalid question?  I truly don't know.

Here is my best understanding of what each title entails:

Super Wrestlemania - LJN's first stab at a 16-bit wrestler.  Very barebones, but seems to set all of the foundations in place for the sequels.

Royal Rumble - Barely an evolution of the first title, this installment mixes up the roster a bit and adds a "Royal Rumble" mode where everyone piles into the ring at once for an undecipherable writhing mass of humanity.  Besides some very small tweaks it appears to play exactly the same as SW.

Raw -  Mixes up the roster again, and adds several more modes, including 4-player and 3-on-3.  Besides some very small tweaks it appears to play exactly the same as the other two titles.

Now everyone please feel free to correct me on any and all of this, but here is what I understand of the gameplay.  Regardless of the mode selected, you're generally trying to wail on your opponent(s) until their health bar is low.  At that point you need to try and pin them, though some modes reward you for throwing them out of the ring as an alternative.  In order to actually accomplish all of this you're gonna want to grapple with them and throw them down over and over again.  And therein lies the issue; these games seem built around the grapple.  Yeah you can punch, and kick, or climb up onto the ropes and launch yourself at your opponent, but really the grapple is where you're gonna see results.  And that mechanic is built entirely around manic button mashing.  You and your opponent embrace each other, you hammer the buttons as fast as you can, and eventually someone gets thrown down.  After they gets up rinse and repeat.  A million times.  My hands are tired of this after about 30 seconds.

So, are these games literally just button mashers?  Is button mashing ever a good thing?  Do people have fun doing that?  What am I missing, or is the reverence for these games entirely nostalgia-based?  Because I encourage anyone who has never played one of these games to try them out and let me know if I'm way off base on these observations and criticisms or not.

One last thing, you may have noticed the ommission of Wrestlemania: The Arcade Game.  Those who are familiar with the game probably know why.  For those who are not, let's just say it's different enough from these first three LJN/Acclaim WWF titles to warrant an entirely different judgement in my opinion.  Which means I obviously think higher of it too.

LJN/Acclaim Countdown:
NBA All-Star Challenge #697
T2 #692
Champions World Class Soccer #684
Foreman For Real #674
Rise of the Robots #671
George Foreman KO #651
Batman Forever #645
Revolution X #620
Roger Clemens #616
Wrestlemania #610
Royal Rumble #609
Raw #608
Average = 648.08

Did I beat it?
Yes.

No of course I didn't.


 
607 - Mario is Missing



Did I beat it?
Yes, I struggled through it.

606 - Mario's Time Machine



If you want to play a video game while also testing your knowledge of geography and history, play the Carmen Sandiego series.  These Mario games are poor knock-offs that not only fail to do anything better than the CS series, but added frivilous and unfun gameplay elements into the mix which only succeeded in bogging down the entire experience.

Mario Is Missing - The first of the two to be released, it places an emphasis on specific countries and their cultures.  You'll travel to famous cities, walking around their grid-like maps visiting landmarks and collecting culturally significant items, and then, after matching those items up with their correct locations, move onto the next area.  It gets pretty old pretty quickly.

Mario's Time Machine - Changes up the formula a bit by making areas you explore much more constrained and tightly organized, so that there is less of an emphasis on wandering around.  This time the settings also focus on historical cities during specific eras.  For example you'll visit Orleans while it's under siege from Joan of Arc, Florence during the Renaissance, Vienna during a Beethoven concert, and so forth.

For most people this is probably going to sound very redundant when talking about educatonal games, but I'll say it anyways; these games are are very dry, very boring, and a drag to play through.  They're also extremely repetitive, and basically have nothing to do with the Mario franchise, other than the shared sprite designs of the characters.

For both games you progress through each area, talking to various citizens or historical figures in order to learn more about local events or culture, and then use that knowledge in order to satisfy each game's specific criteria (placing items in MiM, filling in the blanks of a scroll in MTM).  Then you move on to the next area, rinse, and repeat.  Suffice it to say you're best off playing these game in small doses at a time, lest you nod off to sleep.

I should also point out that MTM has a series of events needed to travel to each era that I can only call "bizarre."  I won't focus too much on the initial steps needed to identity a time period and submit it into your time machine, but let's just say they're very badly done.  No, what I want to talk about is the inexplicable "jet ski" mini-game that you must complete in order to make the trip back to previous eras.  It tasks you with collecting mushrooms and avoiding whirlpools in a simplistic Mode 7 ocean.  If you did all of the steps above correctly, you progress.  If you didn't, you don't.  I have no idea what they were thinking here, or what it has to do with time travel, or anything really.  A ludicrous moment in Mario history.

Overall, both games are just too boring and tedious to really recommend, and feel absolutely nothing like first party titles with none of Nintendo's usual charm and polish.  Of course it goes without saying that they aren't Nintendo-developed products but were instead sourced out to some crappy American developer just like the Mario Early Years games and the various CDi abominations, and it shows.  And as a history and geography buff it's telling that I have a hard time finding anything to enjoy from either title.  So you're better off with the aforementioned Carmen Sandiego games, or by reading an encylopedia.  Literally.

Did I beat it?
Yes, several times actually.



605 - The Pagemaster



For those who probably (barely) remember, The Pagemaster was one of the Macaulay Culkin vehicles that came out in the wake of his smash hit Home Alone, but before he discovered heroine.  And like basically all of those other movies it was pretty unmemorable and has been all but lost to time since. 

I'm not sure if it was a Don Bluth production or some other animation house, but Disney it was not.  The plot, going by memory here, was some sort of Neverending Story rip-off, where uber-nerd Culkin enters an animated fantasy universe (and becomes animated himself) after meeting up with Christoper Lloyd and being dubbed The Pagemaster.  Along the way he crossed paths with Dr. Jekyll, Long John Silver and... probably other people too.  I can't remember.  Check the Wikipedia page if you want a more detailed description that isn't based on 25 year-old (alcohol-addled) memories.  The point is it's a forgotten property, built on recyled or stolen ideas, that no-one cares about anymore.

The game itself is probably as forgettable as the movie.  It consists of three different worlds, each themed around the genres of horror, fantasy and adventure.  What does that mean?  That you'll be dodging birds and monsters in some dark dungeon levels, dodging birds and monsters on pirates ships, and then dodging birds and monsters on Humpty Dumpty's wall.  Staying fresh is not one of this game's strengths.

The controls can best be described as slippery.  It's not as dreadfully awful as those in games like Dragon's Lair, but it's pretty pronounced and something you'll have to adjust to.  Luckily 95% of the levels seem designed to accommodate this, by which I mean death-defying jumps and quick moving enemies are not common occurrences, so this isn't actually a huge roadblock to playing the game.  In fact, the game overall is extremely easy and generous with lives.  After spending 15 minutes adapting to the controls and building up a stockpile of 1UPs you'll most likely cruise through the rest of the game.

Occasionally you'll come across an object that let's you transport to a short mini-game.  These range from a quick platforming race-against-the-clock, to some small areas chock-full of power-ups and/or enemies, to a Mode 7 flyer on what appears to be a magic carpet.  That one is pretty horrible; full of blind turns, bad controls, and an awkward perspective.  Luckily, all of these segments are optional and do not punish you for failing.

The game probably has around 30-40 levels, spread across the three worlds.  But since each one can be completed in under a minute if you know where you're going it ends up being a rather short affair.  Which isn't a bad thing; the game isn't varied or challenging enough to demand anything more.  Of course that also means the game ends up being extremely unmemorable.  In fact that is the best word for this game.  You'll play it, and then forget it ever existed 20 minutes later.  There's no bosses, no setpieces, no great levels, no stand-out spritework.  No memorable tracks in the OST.  Nothing. 

So is The Pagemaster a bad game?  No, not really.  Just uninspired.  If The Tick is an evil game made by sadistic psychopaths, this is a paycheck game made by a crew that had no interest in the property but at least had marginal pride in their work.  And because it's so forgiving (after the initial hump), it's probably not a terrible introduction to the genre for younger kids.

Did I beat it?
Yes, it's not as hard as it initially appears.



604 - Virtual Bart

 

In case you don't know (I didn't), Virtual Bart is the follow-up to Bart's Nightmare, featuring six more mini (macro?) games.  And just like its predecessor each and every one of them is an endlessly frustrating affair.  If anything it's probably worse this time around.

There isn't much semblance of a story, as it's more of an excuse to try and link all of the random games together.  Bart is at the school science fair and wanders into a room where he is hooked into a virtual reality spinning wheel contraption thing.  Wherever he stops on the wheel determines the order you play each game.  That's it.  The games themselves have almost nothing to do with the series, save for a three second clip of baby Bart that one of them is loosely based on.  None of that matters though, just how badly everything plays, so let's get to it:

Doomsday Bart - Bart rides a motorcyle through a post-apocalyptic Springfield, fending off attacks from the likes of Jimbo, Dolph, and Kearney, while trying to survive for 10 miles.  It handles and looks fairly good, but everything else is a mess  This is one of those games where you are constantly being hit by shit, and there isn't much you can do about it.  Enemies repeatedly spawn behind and ahead of you, and your shotgun attack is extremely unresponsive and finicky.  Aiming your gun and bike both use the same controls, which is extremely awkward, and not really condusive to both hitting your targets and avoiding obstacles on the road.  I don't think I've ever made it even halfway through this one.

Baby Bart - Presumably based on the image of Bart twirling on the clotheslines in some old episode, though why they bothered is beyond me.  This is a fairly demanding platformer that has no checkpoints, instant death if you fail once, and goes on forever.  I've made it out of the first section all of twice, despite putting more effort into this one than any other mini-game.

Mount Splashmore - Bart heads down a tube slide, avoiding millions of Krustys, sharks, Blinkys, dead ends plugged up by Homer, and so forth.  You have to constantly try and collect clocks in order to extend your timer, but the loose controls and unpredictable turns make doing any of that more chance than anything.  Probably one of the better games, but still pretty bad.

Pork Factory Pig Bart - Bart is transformed into a pig and must rescue all of the pigs in the factory from being butchered and processed.  This is probably the best overall game, or at least is the most playable.  The gameplay mixes simple platformer mechanics, including a DuckTales-style pogo attack, with some light puzzle and maze mechanics.  The timer is too unforgiving, and the level gets really confusing, really fast, but overall the frustration factor is much lower here than everywhere else.

Virtual Class Picture - Bart trying to nail his teachers and classmates with tomatoes as they cross the school's front lawn.  This one is horrendous.  Hitting anything more than 10 feet away is way too hard, and everything about this lacks anything resembling fun or strategy.  Overstays it's welcome after about 30 seconds.

Dino Bart - Oh god, this one is even worse than the tomatoe throwing.  It's another platformer with a giant ass Bart sprite, so you know you're gonna be taking endless hits, who has to navigate through endless gauntlet of cheap trial-and-error hazards, pitfalls and respawning enemies.

Overall just yet another game where I swear no-one responsible had any idea what a fun video game actually looks or plays like.  I'll give them a few bonus points for having a relatively diverse lineup of different gameplay styles, and I have a soft spot for anything resembling The Road Warrior, but overall I'd be loathe to play any of these again, save for maybe the pig episode.  And even that is still pretty subpar when compared to most real platformers on the system.  The poor Simpsons deserved better than what Acclaim did to them.

LJN/Acclaim Countdown:
NBA All-Star Challenge #697
T2 #692
Champions World Class Soccer #684
Foreman For Real #674
Rise of the Robots #671
George Foreman KO #651
Batman Forever #645
Revolution X #620
Roger Clemens #616
Wrestlemania #610
Royal Rumble #609
Raw #608
Virtual Bart #604
Average = 644.69

Did I beat it?
No.  I can't even beat any of the minigames.



603 - Beethoven: The Ultimate Canine Caper!



So, arguably another one of the biggest publishers of crap on the Super Nintendo is Hi-Tech Expressions.  My understanding is that they were a Korean outfit (update - they weren't) that would contract developers to quickly throw together games for whatever licenses they managed to get their hands on.  That's sounds like a recipe for disaster, and yet for whatever reason I don't usually hate their games.  They control just well enough, or keep the frustration to such a minimum that I can play them without wanting to put my head through the wall.  And considering this entry is a platformer based off the sequel to a movie that was about a large St. Bernard eating Charles Grodin's turkey dinner, that's pretty damn high praise.

Beethoven aka Beethoven's 2nd aka Beethoven The Ultimate Canine Caper! (depending on your source) is a typical platformer that tasks the furball with finding each of his pups and then delivering them to the safety of their mother.  So each world is split into two levels; one where you track the kid down, and then a second where you have to lead him to safety.  Each level can be beaten in roughly 2 minutes once you know what you are doing, leaving kids with a 15 minute game after they've memorized everything.  And that's not a bad thing because games like this don't need to be any longer than they are.

The platforming itself is kinda clunky and not terribly inspired, but it gets the job done well enough for what the game asks of you.  Beethoven has a ranged bark attack, a pick-up with his mouth that grabs items and heals, and a button to shake, which when doused with water will put out any fire hazards.  Beyond that it's a simple "hop over everything until you reach the exit" sort of affair.  There's a few tricky jumps towards the end of the game, but beyond that it's relatively straightforward.  I will say that the unusually long length of the Beethoven sprite does present a tiny learning curve, but it's easy enough to adjust to after a couple levels.

So yeah, it's another kid's platformer that's not great, or inspired, but isn't terribly broken or unplayable either.  The fact I beat it once and would happily do it again says a lot about a game.  Or at least it says I'm not constantly tempted to smash the cart like I am with a game such as Time Warp.

Did I beat it?
Yes, and I'd do it again.  Mostly thanks to how short it is.



602 - Cutthroat Island



Acclaim gives us another crappy brawler based on a crappy movie.  Or I should say, a game based on a box office bomb that also has a crappy reputation.  I haven't seen Cutthroat Island since it came out but I like director Renny Harlin's other work so I'm gonna say it's probably pretty decent.  And it probably made more sense than any of the Pirates of the Carribean movies.  Plus it has Frank Langella.

Anyways the game itself plays like so many other games I've covered so far; a mix of typical left-to-right levels you fight your way through and god awful vehicle stages.  That must have been a design requirement for all bad games based on movies.

Developer - "...and then when you get two swords you can use both action buttons to-"
Manager - "Does the movie have any horse races or carriage fights or jet skis or anything?"
Developer - "Well yeah, there is one scene where they get in a cart and-"
Manager - "Kids like driving things.  That's your new second level."
Developer - "Okay, but-"
Manager - "Meeting adjourned"

I guess I'll never understand why the companies were compelled to provide two different gameplay styles when they couldn't even get one of them right in the first place.

The game begins by letting you choose between the Geena Davis and Matthew Modine characters, but this does not affect anything other than your appearance as far as I can tell.  It also gives you the choice between two fighting styles (swords or brawling), but all that seemed to affect is your attack speed and damage output (fast and low, or slow and high).  Either way you're gonna be using various swords you come across so it's kind of a misnomer.

Level one introduces you to the pretty simple beat-em-up (or I should say hack-and-slash) gameplay.  The hit detection on your weapons can be pretty wonky, and the enemy behavior can be unpredicatble, leading to cheap hits.  These levels are pretty short overall though, espeically if you know where you are going.  Later levels do introduce some nonlinearity and side paths you can take to try and find weapons, heals, and extra lives, but I'd only recommend you do that for the lives, and only if you know exactly where they are.

Each of these levels also ends with a boss fight, all of which are extremely annoying.  Getting through any of them without suffering a death is something I have yet to do, which is incredibly frustrating because this game has no continues or passwords.  Once you run out of your few lives, it's game over and back to the main menu.  I even watched a longplay to help get through them, but it didn't change anything.

Things are mixed up every couple levels with a vehicle stage.  I was able to reach two of these, both of which were pretty horrible.  The first has you guiding some sort of cart down rolling hills, avoiding trees and boulders.  Since the only control you have is moving your cart right or left you'd think it wasn't that hard.  The problem is that the perspective gives you a very limited heads-up of incoming obstacles and the rolling hills only further obscure your vision, so it's pretty hard hard to react in time.  And if you so much as brush any of the obstacles you automatically lose a life and start the level over again.  In the end I figured there were two options;  memorize the level, or repeatedly pause the game so you can assess the track.  I chose the latter.

The second vehicle level I made it to is a ride on the roof of a carriage, but I never had enough time to try and figure out the mechanics or what I was supposed to do.  A few deaths later and you're restarting the entire game, hoping for another chance to make it that far in hopes you can learn a little more about how that level works.  This gets very grating, and I eventually lost the patience I had to keep slogging through it.  So I never reached Cutthroat Island, and I don't know what the second half of the game holds.  Probably more of the same cheap bosses and horrid vehicle levels.

Overall the experience can be summed up as "just not very good."  It's not a horrible game, and it's leagues more playable than stuff like Last Action Hero, but I can't imagine anyone willingly returning to it after clearing it.  Or, more likely, after giving up after a couple failed runs.  If the developers had just given you some continues or passwords to work with this game would have been at least 100 spots higher, but as it stands it's just too frustrating overall.

LJN/Acclaim Countdown:
NBA All-Star Challenge #697
T2 #692
Champions World Class Soccer #684
Foreman For Real #674
Rise of the Robots #671
George Foreman KO #651
Batman Forever #645
Revolution X #620
Roger Clemens #616
Wrestlemania #610
Royal Rumble #609
Raw #608
Virtual Bart #604
Cutthroat Island #602
Average = 641.64

Did I beat it?
No, and I worked my ass off trying.



601 - Lethal Weapon



Okay, I know I said up above that Ocean loves to adapt nothing but horrible movies into horrible games, but that's not entirely tru, because Lethal Weapon is a classic and staple of the buddy cop and insane Mel Gibson genres.  Of course this game came out in 1994 and features the cover from Lethal Weapon 3 so I guess I don't know what this is actually an adaptation of.  The screen cap with the giant alligator tells me probably nothing at all.  And it isn't a horrible game, just an uneven one.  So, where am I going with this...  I guess it's an okay adaptation of a movie franchise, that is named after the first installment, uses the poster from the third one, but has nothing to do with any of them.

You start the game at the station with Riggs.  Or maybe it's Murdock, I can't remember who is who.  From there you have a choice of four doors, each one representing a different mission.  Since you can go into them in any order it gives the game a bit of non-linearity, which is nice, as well as the option to practice any levels that give you more trouble than others.  You'll probably need it too, because despite the game being extremely generous with hit points, lives and continues, it's pretty damn hard with long levels, tricky jumps, and some fairly merciless enemies at times.  And if you are able to complete all four missions (something I have yet to do in one go) you'll unlock a fifth and final mission.  Since I've never reached it I can't comment on it, but I'm holding out hope that it's a fistfight with Gary Busey on the front lawn.

Overall the gameplay is decent enough in design, but the levels are pretty wildly uneven, with a difficulty curve that is all over the place.  Hell, the first assignment is actually the one that gives me the most trouble and is probably the hardest one overall, mostly because of the clumsy platforming mechanics and situations that the game forces onto you.  In fact I'd say this game is more of a platformer than an action game or shooter, despite three references to a gun on the cover art alone. 

There are a hefty number of enemies to shoot, especially in mission three, but your primary obstacles are going to be the endless number of jumps you need to make, spiked floors you need to avoid, and alligators and sharks you need to swim around.  And though the controls are passable enough, and much better than any of the other Ocean games I've already covered, they still have some pretty glaring flaws.  The biggest is that when jumping you lose all forward momentum when you land.  It's kind of hard to explain, but it definitely feels very rigid, like you expect the controls to be a little more slippery  on the descent and landing.  Again I have to point at the mechanics in Super Mario Bros. as the perfect model for all of this, and to which this game completely fails to replicate.  But I guess it's better than the alternative; you won't be overshooting your jumps, which is usually a worse fate.

For attacks you have your service pistol, and a roundhouse kick that you should only use if you run out of ammo for your gun.  Extra clips are usually sprinkled pretty generously through the levels, but you can accidently destroy them, and a few areas do have more enemies than ammo.  Overall it's not usually a big issue, but sometimes you're better off just killing yourself when your pistol runs dry instead of wasting your time with the kicks.

Some of the levels also cap off with a boss fight.  None of them are put together particularly well, but I at least appreciate that the game tried.  Platformers and shooters without bosses just seem so lazy and anticlimactic.  Granted I'm struggling to actually remember any of them (they're always some dude with slightly buffed up attacks and hit points), but I'm giving the game kudos for it regardless.

So is the game that bad?  Not at all.  It certainly can be frustrating, and it could have been a lot better, but I had an enjoyable enough time with it that I was willing to put in a half dozen attempts towards beating it, without becoming too annoying or aggravated at any point.  Hell, it's still on my list to beat, so it still hasn't driven me away.  So consider this cap on volume three of this project to be a bit of a milestone; every game going forward has at least some good in it.  Or at least the games will stop driving me as crazy as consistently.

Ocean Countdown:
Cool World #696
RoboCop 3 #695
The Flintstones #642
Eek! the Cat #639
Mighty Max #623
Dennis the Menace #615
Lethal Weapon #601
Average = 644.43


Did I beat it?
No, but I'm still trying


Edited: 09/18/2018 at 12:27 AM by Brock Landers

Jan 19, 2018 at 4:57:18 PM
Brock Landers (55)
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I should probably still do another pass through 620-601 and touch things up, but I wanted to get it up before I'm home for the weekend

Jan 19, 2018 at 5:05:41 PM
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Bea_Iank (4)
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Outlander and Kawasaki Caribbean Challenge were such a pain and such a bore to beat.
They clearly deserved to be ranked lower.  

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Sometimes I don't know where in the world I am.

Jan 19, 2018 at 5:06:18 PM
arch_8ngel (68)
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I actually had Captain Novolin, since my dad was an endocrinologist and worked with children with diabetes.

There was a laminated card that came with the game that explained the code system for different types of diabetics.

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Jan 19, 2018 at 5:16:52 PM
Nirvana (1)
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AVGN is funny, and I hate you for saying that he's not.  

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Jan 19, 2018 at 5:20:36 PM
Brock Landers (55)
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I didn't mean to imply he isn't, but that the legion of imitators are tiring and, for the most part, extremely unfunny

Jan 19, 2018 at 5:27:13 PM
Nirvana (1)
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Ah, then I agree. I don't think anyone could do it quite like he does.

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Jan 19, 2018 at 5:41:24 PM
Nert (55)
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I agree with you that Mortal Kombat isn't good. People are nostalgic for it because of the blood and fatalities, once you're passed that it's a pretty lame fighter. I don't really enjoy fighters but I can definitely appreciate one that's done well like Street Fighter 2

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Jan 19, 2018 at 5:49:47 PM
Brock Landers (55)
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And I've already fixed about 10 errors. I swear it takes me a least an additional week each time to hammer them all out. Bear with me.

Jan 19, 2018 at 6:03:46 PM
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Bea_Iank (4)
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Mortal Kombat is pure trash in terms of fighting games.
Might be the worst series on the console.

Also, it was quite readable for someone who can't even speak English like me.

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Sometimes I don't know where in the world I am.

Jan 19, 2018 at 6:24:55 PM
Loxx O))) (19)
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I enjoy Mortal Kombat but since playing Street Fighter blocking is weird.

And I also want to beat numerous games on this part of the list for the SNES thread.

Jan 19, 2018 at 11:09:22 PM
fox (15)
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Flint stones has groovy music esp that unused track

Jan 20, 2018 at 3:48:36 AM
quest4nes (147)
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Wwf raw

Ahh first dissapointing game post of your lists. Fond memories, and still fun to be everyone in a royal rumble with doink.

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NES  639 (330 Manuals 319 Boxes)
Wii U 158/163(incl. Starfox Guard & Bayonetta 1)
SNES 308
N64  167
Original Gameboy 48

 


Jan 20, 2018 at 3:53:00 AM
Loxx O))) (19)
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The WWF games were fun for me back in the day... but returning to them? I honestly can't stand them. The 64 era ruined me as far as wrestling games go. WCW VS NWO: World Tour was a huge shift.

Jan 20, 2018 at 6:57:21 AM
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Somewhat disappointed to see raw and royal rumble so low. I'll be curious to see the 600 better games 😜.

I will say that wrestle mania is much worse from what I recall. There were no specials, and the game lacked weapons. Where as in royal rumble and raw each wrestler had there finisher and a steel chair was outside in most game modes.

Raw also had a "hidden" move that was different for each wrestler. They also introduced a bucket as a weapon in certain game modes (can't remember if royal rumble had this). Either way, at least for me, these two played much better than the other wwf game and even better than the one you haven't listed.

edit: just to be clear, I don’t think the wrestling games are great. But I could see royal rumble and raw being somewhere in the 500’s while wrestlemania remains where it is. 

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Edited: 01/20/2018 at 06:58 AM by caratekid

Jan 20, 2018 at 1:28:52 PM
Andy_Bogomil (100)
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haha I was gonna say that Timon and Pumbaa is better than Virtual Bart, but I still it's a negligible amount down the list which is good to see. While the WWF games aren't the greatest, RAW is significantly better than the previous ones in my opinion (no 2 player is a big issue with the others). RAW has special moves as well. I agree that the game gets old FAST, but honestly the mechanics and control all work pretty good, graphics are relatively solid, and the game isn't overly broken or difficult. I think RAW deserves to be well up the list compared to some of the other turds you've yet to get to.

I'm also glad to see Batman Forever way down the list. People somehow still try to defend that game to some extent. It's cryptic, cheap, long, boring, tedious, and generally shit from start to finish.

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Wii U Collection Status: 160/161. Just Dance 2018. 

Jan 20, 2018 at 4:00:37 PM
ZedIsDead (0)
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Rankings seem to be pretty accurate throughout, so far. Well, except that Space Football is WAY too high. 

Seriously, though, Space Football may be my most hated game ever. You basically have to get lucky and get the ball when you're close enough to your goal(stupid 3 second ball-holding limit). There's nothing worse than flailing around for a few minutes as your vehicle gets thrown all over the place, finally getting ahold of the ball, and then the computer miraculously manages to get a perfect shot at you to knock the ball loose so that the ball chase cycle starts over anew. That's Space Football in a nutshell. It's even more frustrating than I'm making it sound, but it's kinda hard to put into words.  

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I stream games sometimes: https://www.twitch.tv/zedisdead
 

Jan 20, 2018 at 4:54:28 PM
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As a kid I had a friend who had Faceball 2000. I barely remember anything about it, other than the game being pretty bland.

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Reigning NA 2018 Beat Em Up Champion


 

Jan 22, 2018 at 3:59:53 PM
Brock Landers (55)
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Wow, the Mario geography games write-up was horrid. Fixed... I hope

Jan 22, 2018 at 4:23:40 PM
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Reigning NA 2018 Beat Em Up Champion


 

Jan 22, 2018 at 4:37:13 PM
Brock Landers (55)
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Originally posted by: mbd39

 

 
Literally no connection to Korea whatsoever.  I guess Brian Greenstone's memory has gone to shit or something  


Edited: 01/22/2018 at 04:38 PM by Brock Landers

Jan 22, 2018 at 8:36:35 PM
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You really are a glutton for punishment, but at least you're beyond almost all the most reprehensible garbage the system has and crawling into the some redeeming value parts of the list.

Jan 22, 2018 at 9:26:24 PM
Brock Landers (55)
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Hmm, the images are going apeshit in this thread.  Someone with mod access did something to that first post for some reason.  Argh.


Edited: 01/22/2018 at 09:29 PM by Brock Landers