Videogames – Quick Reviews

In Alphabetical Order

1942 (NES, 1986) This vertically scrolling shooter from CAPCOM is a port of the arcade game by the same name in which you fly a WWII fighter plane through waves of enemy planes. It’s a top down view 2D game though some 3D movements are simulated. This NES port has levels similar to the original but the port has a slower game speed, thus its levels are more survivable. 1942 always feels consistently structured, even when new enemy plane types are introduced. Before long you will smoothly dodge and effortlessly destroy your enemies. However, the game flow is not infallible. Shots fired at you and some enemy planes are difficult to see when flying over land. There are not many types of power-ups, but they hold enough interest and value to risk a plane/life going after them. The ability to “continue” gameplay after death is unlimited (no quarters required) and allows you to get further in the game without having to start again from the first level. Complete the game because you enjoy it, not to view the ending screen. Or you will be disappointed. Smooth, often seamless, arcade shooter. Rating: 778 [Posted 12/1/19]

Midnight Magic (Atari 2600, 1986) In this pinball videogame from Atari you have 5 plays/balls and 4 flippers. Moving the joystick to the side operates the flippers on each corresponding side and pulling the joystick back uses all 4 flippers simultaneously. This is a sharp looking table with plenty of features to interact with. And the 4 flippers keep you busy. Once you knock out all the color tiles at the top of the board, the table turns blue and gives you a x2 multiplier. This was my favorite effect and gave me something to shoot for in subsequent plays. Surprisingly addictive classy pinball action. Rating: 685 [Posted 12/15/19]

Oink! (Atari 2600, 1983) In this game from Activision, you take control of each of three pigs in order to defend your homes against the powerful breath of the wolf. The wolf will blow away pieces of the house until he has a clear shot, then will attempt to use his breath to suck you in to him. You spend your time frantically rebuilding the house to block the wolf from sucking you in. There is no way to win, per se. You are delaying your doom long enough to rack up a high score. The characters in this drama are big and chunky which makes them pretty darn cute. The action is solid and there is a bit of strategy involved but the game gets repetitive, even tiring before long. Thankfully the game pauses on its own after the destruction of the straw (yellow) and wood (brown) houses, giving you a chance to rest. Adorable frantic action that gets old fast. Rating: 455 [Posted 12/7/19]

River Raid (Atari 2600, 1982) Vertically scrolling shooter from Activision. You control a jet shooting down or avoiding enemies. Oddly, you can’t fly over land, so you will crash if you hit the river bank. This game has some interesting features like the ability to accelerate/decelerate, the regular need for fuel and opposing jets flashing across the screen. Without these features the game would be dull but with them it’s difficult to gain any momentum. Prepare to be blown to bits often. Rating: 546 [Posted 1/6/20]

Vulgus (Arcade, 1984) In this vertically scrolling shooter from CAPCOM, you are being chased relentlessly. Even though some enemies will begin with a predictable pattern, their next moves will be determined by your own. This means you are never really comfortable and although the controls are velvety you may find yourself moving frenetically to avoid enemies. You will operate a twin shooter with unlimited fire that also has missiles that can cut through multiple ships. There are power-ups but don’t try too hard to grab them. Ships/lives are very important since there are no “continues.” You can easily be surprised by enemy ships coming on screen from the top and sides. So you may want to stay towards the bottom center when able. The graphics are attractive with a nice variety of landscapes and enemy types, but nothing too ambitious. Clean arcade twin shooter in which you are the prey. Rating: 652 [Posted 12/4/19; reviewed using Capcom Classics Collection Vol. 1 (PS2)]

Videogames – X-Men

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X-Men is a 1993 platformer for the Sega Genesis that cleverly brings many superheroes into the action however, awkward level design and clunky controls keep the game from being satisfying.

INTRODUCTION

“Sometimes… You have to crush your enemies where they live!!!” says a menacing Magneto as this title opens. He then sends a beam that controls the X-Men training facility, the Danger Room. Aztec-ish warriors begin throwing spears your way and annoying bees are slapping you down. But you are one of the X-men! These adversaries aren’t worthy of you. Well, in the Danger Room, they might be. So dodge spears, knock out hives and soon you will be getting your butt kicked by more infamous baddies. Gambit is fun to play and the game would be better if he was the star with several lives. Instead, there are three other main heroes (Cyclops is blah, Nightcrawler is niche and Wolverine is just sad) and you will have to make do with one life each. There is a nice supporting cast of heroes (Rogue, Storm, Archangel and Iceman) that come into the game for one-offs and Jean Grey makes her presence felt, as well.

GETTING STARTED

  • After choosing the difficulty level (I strongly suggest amateur), you are asked to select a hero. There are four choices but the images are too small to tell who you are selecting. However, after pressing Start, you may cycle left and right to see the choices more clearly.
  • During gameplay you may switch between the four main heroes and call upon support heroes. You do this by pressing Start, selecting your hero, then pressing Start again. The new hero does not appear on screen until you press the A button.
  • Between levels or after one hero’s demise, you can find and smash orbs that give you extra health and power.

NBA Action ’95 Starring David Robinson

[updated July 26, 2019]

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Did Vlade Divac approve this opening screen? After playing 21 games as the Spurs, I’m 7 – 14. I’m usually good at basketball videogames but very little success in this one. In fact, I may be getting worse. So Vlade, I feel your pain.

This game has a vertical orientation that took a few games to get used to. The controls are simple and the Spurs should be a good team so why am I so bad? No idea but until the last few games I was having a great time playing. There are a ton of features and ways to tinker with your team. And the stats! The game saves team and player stats for each game and compiles them as you go through a season. There’s a lot here to be excited about.

Minor issues: Rather than turn off, the shot clock stays at 24 seconds when the game clock is less than that which can be confusing. Marv does announce when time is running out, if you have him turned on; the rebound button is the same as shot button so you will sometimes accidentally shoot the ball from the opposite end of the court.

Play Session 1

NBA Action ’95 Starring David Robinson

Season Mode, Veteran Difficulty, 4 min. periods

Game 1: Warriors 77, Spurs 56; Assists 17, 3; Rebounds 13, 17; Steals 9, 4; Blocks 11, 4; Turnovers 6, 12; Fouls 9, 7; FTs 5/7, 8/11; FG% 71.4, 47.1; Trey 2/7, 0/0; Run 11, 12; Spurs Most Pts. Scored – W. Anderson 19, D. Robinson 14, D. Rodman 10

Spurs 0 – 1 Trying to get used to controls and vertical orientation. There are three difficulty levels so I chose the middle one, “Veteran.” I got clobbered in the first period, then mostly held my own the other three periods. I subbed some players in the second half but I think that was a negative. Perhaps I don’t need to sub with 4 minute periods.

Game 2: Nets 85, Spurs 50; Assists 21, 4; Rebounds 13, 6; Steals 18, 5; Blocks 13, 5; Turnovers 5, 21; Fouls 10, 7; FTs 5/7, 6/10; FG% 72.2, 52.4; Trey 2/6, 0/1; Run 10, 7; Spurs Most Pts. Scored – D. Robinson 21, W. Anderson 15, A. Johnson 10

Spurs 0 – 2 If it seems like I played even worse in Game 2, then I’d say that’s accurate. It was very sloppy. I can’t get Elliott going and Rodman is very mistake prone so far. I was trying to be aggressive but I think it was just out of control. Next game, I’m starting Chuck Person instead of Rodman.

Game 3: Jazz 68, Spurs 57; Assists 16, 5; Rebounds 11, 12; Steals 7, 4; Blocks 10, 4; Turnovers 7, 10; Fouls 8, 8; FTs 0/0, 7/12; FG% 64.2, 61.0; Trey 0/11, 0/0; Run 8, 6; Spurs Most Pts. Scored – W. Anderson 25, D. Robinson 19, S. Elliott 6

Spurs 0 – 3 Much better. Actually tied 16 – 16 after the first period. Person didn’t do much but also didn’t make a lot of mistakes. I moved Elliott to the 2 spot for a few minutes and got him a couple of buckets but he still wasn’t impressive. It’s an Anderson/Robinson show on offense. Maybe I caught a break since the Jazz were 0 – 11 on three pointers but even that wasn’t enough for a win.

Game 4: Knicks 64, Spurs 71; Assists 17, 2; Rebounds 19, 16; Steals 5, 5; Blocks 3, 1; Turnovers 6, 11; Fouls 12, 8; FTs 2/3, 12/15; FG% 52.5, 69.0; Trey 0/6, 1/2; Run 8, 7; Spurs Most Pts. Scored – D. Robinson 24, W. Anderson 16, C. Person 16

Spurs 1 – 3 Wow. We got one. Elliott scored in double figures and played the 2 spot some. Moved Anderson to 1 spot for awhile. Person was fantastic. Rodman came in for a spell in the second half and grabbed some critical rebounds. We played better defense and relaxed on offense. For the first time it felt like we had some smooth sub rotations forming. I’m not really getting assists. I have a feeling that may be more important when I decide to increase the difficulty level.

Play Session 2

Game 5: Nuggets 73, Spurs 74 OT; Assists 18, 3; Rebounds 15, 24; Steals 15, 6; Blocks 12, 4; Turnovers 8, 17; Fouls 18, 8; FTs 1/5, 14/20; FG% 58.1, 56.6; Trey 0/13, 0/2; Run 6, 7; Spurs Most Pts. Scored – D. Robinson 34, W. Anderson 18, S. Elliott 11

Spurs 2 – 3 It’s been a week since the first play session so I was bit rusty. Mutombo was blocking everything but fouling too so I kept going into the paint until he fouled out in the 3rd period. I was down one point with two seconds left in the game, Willie Anderson on the line for two shots. It felt kind of real so I got nervous and missed the first. Then with the pressure really on, I sank the second free throw sending us into overtime. My team was a little sluggish in OT but we pulled it out.

Game 6: Bulls 88, Spurs 73; Assists 20, 2; Rebounds 19, 8; Steals 8, 3; Blocks 10, 5; Turnovers 5, 12; Fouls 13, 7; FTs 9/9, 15/19; FG% 63.3, 64.4; Trey 3/7, 0/1; Run 8, 6; Spurs Most Pts. D. Robinson 26, W. Anderson 18, J.R. Reid 9

Spurs 2 – 4 This Bulls team has no Jordan but they didn’t need him. They have Luc Longley (22 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 blocks, 3 steals). I started game with Robinson and Johnson on Tight Coverage but I fell behind 15 – 9 and changed both back to Normal. I subbed J.R. Reid for Robinson and he did a nice job. Otherwise, this was a pathetic game for the Spurs.

Game 7: Kings 76, Spurs 61; Assists 17, 4; Rebounds 13, 14; Steals 12, 6; Blocks 4, 4; Turnovers 6, 16; Fouls 12, 5; FTs 1/4, 7/18; FG% 65.5, 71.1; Trey 3/11, 0/1; Run 8, 4; Spurs Most Pts. D. Robinson 21, W. Anderson 15, D. Rodman 6

Spurs 2 – 5 Sad. Tried Press and Tight Coverage late in the game when losing by double digits to no avail.

Game 8: Knicks 58, Spurs 62; Assists 17, 0; Rebounds 9, 14; Steals 12, 7; Blocks 6, 10; Turnovers 8, 16; Fouls 8, 4; FTs 4/4, 4/8; FG% 52.9, 70.7; Trey 0/2, 0/0; Run 6, 10; Spurs Most Pts. D. Robinson 19, S. Elliott 19, J.R. Reid 10

Spurs 3 – 5 Patrick Ewing had a monster game for this 16 minute game format (28 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 blocks, 2 steals). I rested Robinson during the third period and J.R. Reid played outstanding scoring 10 in the period. Sean Elliott was the star though with his 19, mostly from the 2 spot as Anderson played point. We are finally out of the Midwest Division cellar with the Timberwolves slipping to last place with a record of 3 – 6.

Play Session 3

Game 9: Blazers 53, Spurs 70; Assists 10, 4; Rebounds 13, 15; Steals 5, 11; Blocks 10, 7; Turnovers 12, 13; Fouls 10, 4; FTs 5/5, 8/12; FG% 46.2, 66.0; Trey 0/6, 0/1; Run 8, 9; Spurs Most Pts. D. Robinson 23, S. Elliott 10, A. Johnson 10

Spurs 4 – 5 This is the first game I’ve felt dominate from beginning to end. I’m still starting the game with Robinson, Person, Elliott, Anderson, Johnson. Then I make some spot adjustments in 2nd period, usually trying to get Person and Elliott a bit of rest with Rodman. I rest Robinson and Johnson in the 3rd, playing Reid, Rodman, Person moving Elliott to 2 spot, Anderson to point and subbing with Cummings as needed for Person.

Game 10: Supersonics 77, Spurs 52; Not worth the trouble to copy all stats. Most Pts. D. Robinson 12, S. Elliott 10, J.R. Reid 8, J. Haley 8

Spurs 4 – 6 How quickly things change. After being down 20 in the third, I emptied the bench.

Game 11: Suns 74, Spurs 67; Most Pts. D. Robinson 33, W. Anderson 17, J.R. Reid 7; Avery Johnson had 4 turnovers

Spurs 4 – 7 Only Robinson could find the basket early and we fell too far behind. Anderson eventually started hitting but defense wasn’t strong enough to catch up.

Play Session 4

Game 12: Timberwolves 68, Spurs 64

Spurs 4 – 8 Well I’m clueless at this point and feel like I need to start from scratch. I’m not improving and I’m not even playing at the highest difficulty setting. Ugh.

Game 13: Supersonics 83, Spurs 84; Robinson 47, Elliott 11, Anderson 10

Spurs 5 – 8 Started the game with Robinson, Rodman, Cummings, Person, Anderson to change things up. It took 47 points from Robinson, a clutch “and one” from Terry Cummings and double overtime to get this win.

Game 14: Blazers 47, Spurs 46; Robinson 23

Spurs 5 – 9 Slow, defensive struggle. I had the game in hand, just needed to run out the clock to a few seconds and throw up a shot. Instead, Johnson threw the ball away and they had a fast break to win it. My fault for passing in that situation.

Game 15: Mavericks 78, Spurs 47

Spurs 5 – 10 Elliott hit a three pointer. Otherwise…

Game 16: Jazz 63, Spurs 54; Robinson 23

Spurs 5 – 11 Third period – Reid, Haley, Cummings, Del Negro, Whitney held their own and each player scored. Whitney was injured (bruised foot). First injury of the season. I felt outmatched the entire game even though it was a close game until I jacked up some three point attempts at the end.

Game 17: Rockets 71, Spurs 47; Robinson 26, J.R. Reid 9

Spurs 5 – 12 I expected to be much better at this game by this point. I’ve lost 7 of the last 8 games. Time to take a break!

Play Session 5

Game 18: Bullets 55, Spurs 51; Robinson 20

Spurs 5 – 13 Decided to jump back into this game after a long break only to lose to the lowly Bullets. That leaves me tied with the Bucks for last in the entire NBA.

Game 19: Celtics 75, Spurs 76 OT; Robinson 40

Spurs 6 – 13 I only made 6 of 19 free throws and had some poor clock management but was still able to pull this one out by giving Robinson the ball each time he was open down the stretch.

Game 20: Lakers 61, Spurs 66; Robinson 35

Spurs 7 – 13 We got behind early but stayed calm and made some minor adjustments until the game came to us.

Game 21: Nuggets 59, Spurs 44 OT; Robinson 22

Spurs 7 – 14 Based on the score it might be difficult to believe this was an overtime game but it was a strange overtime. Mutombo, who I had been avoiding all game because of his blocking ability, fouled out early in OT so I decided to be more aggressive offensively. But turnovers, missed shots and Robinson fouling out put us significantly behind. So I threw up 8 three pointers off the dribble, missing them all and losing by 15 in an otherwise intensely close game.