Alex Kidd and the Enchanted Castle – Review

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Alex Kidd proved to be a hit on the Sega Master System throughout the eighties, and was arguably the console’s mascot. The question was, could he continue to be their main draw for Sega’s latest console, the Mega Drive? Clearly not, as this was his only outing on the 16-bit console.

Title screen (Screenshot taken by the author)

Alex Kidd and the Enchanted Castle is a single-player platform game developed and published by Sega. It was released for the Mega Drive in Japan in 1989, Europe in 1990, and the US in 1991. It was later released on the Wii Virtual Console, Mega Drive Handheld, Cloud Online, and Steam. I chose to review the original Mega Drive version.

Rookie Town (Screenshot taken by the author)

On the planet Aries, Alex Kidd’s father, King Thor, has been kidnapped by Ashra, the ruler of planet Paperrock. Alex travels to Paperrock in a bid to rescue his father. He must navigate through 11 stages: Rookie Town, The Prairie, The Splashy Sea, Scorpion Desert, The Pyramid, The Hiho Forest, Tropics Town, Rocky Mountain #1, Rocky Mountain #2, In the Sky, and Sky Castle, where his father is being held. The Sky Castle is where you must fight Ashra at Janken.

The gameplay is simple: Run, jump, punch, kick, crawl and swim. Alex will slide around a bit when quickly changing direction, and is a bit floaty when jumping, which takes getting used to, so be careful near enemies. When breaking into red treasure chests, coins will spill out for Alex to collect. Grey treasure chests contain lives and power-ups. Beware, however, as some chests, some contain bombs that explode and will kill Alex.

Jan-Ken-Pon (Screenshot taken by the author)

Along the way, Alex can pay to compete in Janken fights (paper, scissor and rock) with shopkeepers to win equipment and power-ups. These include motorcycles, helicopters, a pogo stick, a wizard’s cane, a cape, and a necklace that helps Alex to see the thoughts of his opponent. This item gives you a better chance at winning Janken. At the end of every level, Alex must collect the piece of cake to progress.

Alex can swim and, thankfully, seems to be able to breathe underwater (Screenshot taken by the author)

The power bracelet is very useful and allows alex to shoot a crescent-shaped band of light that kills the baddies. Spoiler alert!!! You need to have this equipped after beating Ashra at Janken so that you can fire at him from a distance. This is the only way to defeat him.  

There are three difficulty settings: easy, medium and hard. With increased difficulty, you are given less lives to start with and the Janken opponents are harder to defeat, adding to the game’s replay value.  

Graphically, the Mega Drive is capable of so much more. The sprites are nicely drawn, if a little cutsie, suggesting this game was meant for a younger audience. Sadly, the levels and backgrounds are rather basic. The music, however, is very catchy and will get stuck in your head. When revisiting this game after 20 odd years, I still remembered the tunes instantly and began to hum along.

Did I complete the game?

Yes, but I have only played through on easy mode.

What the critics said:

Mean Machines Sega: “The graphics and sound are almost Master System Standard, and while it’s fun to play, with plenty of secret rooms and things to work out, it lacks that really addictive spark that makes the 8-bit Sega Alex Kidd games so much fun to play. For ardent Alex Kidd fans only. Overall 68%[1]

Sega Pro: Alex’s only appearance on the Mega Drive is not a bad attempt…although it can get repetitive. Overall 77%.[2]

The Games Machine: “It goes without saying that Alex Kidd highly playable and incredibly addictive. Overall 82%”.[3]

Sega Power: “Alex goes 16-bit in this colourful platform exploration romp. As with previous Alex Kidd games, the jolly atmosphere belies the testing gameplay. Fun and very polished.  Overall 3/5.[4]

My verdict:

“Definitely one for the younger gamer. It can be completed very easily without too much hassle, but there is little to keep you coming back for more. Catchy music, nice sprites and bright colours, but the level design and backgrounds are a bit basic and could be more visually pleasing. However, I do have a softspot for this game and feel it’s been harshly judged by critics. I certainly keep it in my collection and revisit it every year or so. It’s also handy to keep around for my niblings.”

Rating:

What are your memories of Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle? I would love to hear your thoughts, and don’t for get to follow and subscribe so that you don’t miss my latest reviews! You can also find me on Instagram: @nicklovestogame.


[1] ‘Game Index: Mega Drive – Alex Kidd and the Enchanted Castle’. Mean Machines Sega. (October 1992). Issue 1:137. (https://archive.org/details/mean-machines-sega-magazine-01/page/n135/mode/2up Accessed 16th February 2020).

[2] ‘Sega Showdown – Alex Kidd and the Enchanted Castle.’ Sega Pro. (November 1991). Issue 1:18. (https://retrocdn.net/images/7/75/SegaPro_UK_01.pdf Accessed 14th June 2020).

[3] ‘Alex Kidd and the Enchanted Castle’. The Games Machine. (June 1989). Issue 19:18-9. (https://archive.org/details/the-games-machine-19/page/n17/mode/2up Accessed 28th July 2020).

[4] Jarrett, S., ‘The Hard Line – Alex Kidd and the Enchanted Castle’. Sega Power. (April 1991). Issue 23:52. (https://retrocdn.net/images/8/89/SegaPower_UK_23.pdf Accessed 29th July 2020).

Snow Bros. – Review

What makes a great video game? Graphics, music, replay value, multiplayer options…there is no correct answer. Personally, I feel that gameplay is more important than the others. If a game doesn’t play well, the rest is pointless. That’s just my opinion of course.

Title screen (screenshot taken by the author)

Snow Bros. was developed and published by Toaplan for the arcade in North America, Japan and Europe in 1990. Over the next few years it was released for home consoles on the NES, Game Boy and Mega Drive in North America and Japan but wasn’t officially released in Europe until the Android and iOS versions in 2012. For this review, I played the NES version.

In this platform game you play as Prince Nick and/or Prince Tom who are cursed and turned into snowmen by King Scorch whilst he captures Princesses Teri and Tina. Naturally, the two princes pursue King Scorch in order to rescue the princesses.

(screenshot taken by the author)

To progress through each level, you must turn monsters into snowballs by throwing snow at them. Once they are transformed into snowballs, you need to push them into each other or to the bottom of the screen where they smash against the wall and die. Once all monsters in a level are defeated you progress to the next level. There are several power-ups to help you along the way.

The power-ups are:

Red – increases walking speed

Blue – increases amount of snow you throw

Yellow – increases the distance snow can be thrown

Green – inflates you like a balloon where you can fly around the level killing anything you come into contact with.

There are 50 levels in total, with a boss battle occuring every 10 levels.

Every ten levels, there is a big, bad boss to defeat (screenshot taken by the author)

The levels are very colourful, sometimes so much that it hurts the eyes. The game also tends to flicker a little when the screen is busy. The controls are simple…move left or right, jump and throw. This game looks simple, and older gamers may think this is for children…it is not! It’s challenging and it’ll take you several tries before you can complete the game. The game has limited replay value, but I think you will come back to it more than once after you have beaten the game.

Quite simply, this is a fun game to play, especially in two player mode. Thankfully, you cannot harm each other when you are throwing snow, which could get extremely frustrating if that was a feature.

You must throw snow at the enemy to turn them into snowballs (screenshot taken by the author)

Did I complete the game?

Although I did play this several times with Mrs. L, I completed it by myself.

What the critics said?

At present I have been unable to find a contemporary review of this game.

My verdict: “This game is fun! It’s easy to control but challenging. It has the added bonus of being two player, and even after you have beaten the game, you’ll want to play through it again and again.”

Rating:

What are your memories of Snow Bros.? I would love to hear your thoughts, and don’t for get to follow and subscribe so that you don’t miss my latest reviews! You can also find me on Instagram: @nicklovestogame.

Super Kick Off – Review

You stand in the tunnel and hear the chants from the stands echo all around you. Your supporters expect glory. Can you immortalise yourself and your team by winning silverware and reigning supreme? Tie up the laces of your football boots and adjust your shin pads. It’s not just Kick Off, it’s Super Kick Off!

Title screen (screenshot taken by the author)

Super Kick Off is the sequel to Kick Off 2. It was developed by Anco Software, Tiertex Design Studios and Enigma Variations, and published by US Gold, Imagineer, and Misawa Entertainment in 1991. It was released on the Mega Drive, Master System, Game Gear, and SNES. I chose to review the Mega Drive version.

The game is played with a top down view, similar to that of World Cup Italia ’90, but the overall graphics are more detailed, especially where the sprites are concerned. The game has added footballers of different skin tones, making the game more realistic. The pitches are also prettier and the crowd is brightly coloured.

In-game action (screenshot taken by the author)

The in-game menu icons are not labelled but are fairly self-explanatory. One league and three cup competitions, plus a two-player mode, adds to the replay value. It is also possible to increase the overall speed of the game and adjust the difficulty setting of the opponent, to add more of a challenge.

In-game menu (screenshot taken by the author)

The teams are a random array of Europe’s better teams from the early 90s. The names of the players are not real but are close enough to distinguish who they really are (Griggs = Giggs etc.). Oddly, some players begin out of position. For example, when playing with Man Utd, Spruce (Steve Bruce), starts upfront instead of in defence, so a little tinkering is needed to amend such insanity.

The music is forgettable and not as catchy as World Cup Italia ’90 which had a very Latino feel to it. There are a few SFX but the gasps from the crowd everytime the ball is either saved by the goalkeeper or goes out of play is rather annoying.

Half-time (screenshot taken by the author)

Controlling the ball takes a bit of getting used to. You have to either manoeuvre the player around the moving ball or press the ‘trap’ button before changing direction. The ‘trap’ button also acts as the pass button and so many times the ball gets kicked wildly out of play. Tackling is pretty much non-existant other than running into the opposition to steal the ball, and the offside rule tends to happen at odd times during the match. Once you can beat the computer regularly on the hardest setting (14-0 if you must know), you know it’s time to stop playing the game.

Although an improvement on most previous football games, I am still at a loss as to how computer designers were consistantly unable to produce a realistic football game in the 80s and early 90s. You only need three buttons: For attacking – 1) short pass, 2) long pass, and 3) shoot. For defense – 1) standing tackle, 2) sliding tackle, and 3) control nearest player to the ball. It’s that simple!

Did I complete the game?

Yes, I won all leagues and trophies in this game.

What the critics said:

Mean Machines Sega: “The best football game going, and one which every Mega Drive owner, regardless of their interest in sport, should leap out and purchase. Overall 95%”.[1]

Sega Power: “You wanted a decent football game and you’ve got one! You’ll need patience to get used to controlling the players, but it’s more than worth the effort. Overall 5/5.[2]

My verdict: “An improvement on most previous football games, and certainly worth playing. However, they are still a long way to go where football games are concerned.”

Rating:

What are your memories of Super Kick Off? I would love to hear your thoughts, and don’t for get to follow and subscribe so that you don’t miss my latest reviews! You can also find me on Instagram: @nicklovestogame.


[1] ‘Review: Mega Drive – Super Kick Off’. Mean Machines Sega. (February 1993). 5:18-21.

[2] ‘The Hard Line: Mega Drive – Super Kick Off’. Sega Power. (September 1993). 46:98.

Super Hang-On – Review

Hold on to your hats guys, its time to rev that engine, feel the horsepower, and leave your competitors to eat your dust. Glory awaits!

Screenshot taken by the author

Super Hang-On is a single-player motorcycle racing game developed and published by Sega. Originally released in the arcade in 1987 as a sequel to Hang-On, it would later be released for the following:

1987 – Amstrad CPC, Arcade, Commodore 64, and ZX Spectrum.

1989/1990 – Atari ST, Commodore Amiga, Macintosh, DOS, Sega Megadrive, and Sharp X68000.

2003 – Game Boy Advance (Sega Arcade Gallery)

2010 – Wii’s Virtual Console (2012 in North America)

2012 – Xbox Live Arcade (Sega Vintage Collection)

I chose to review the Sega Mega Drive version found on the Mega Games I (1992) package.

Whilst still similar to Hang-On, there is now a choice of four new tracks, based on the continents of the world. Each continent contains a different number of stages to increase difficulty (Africa = 6 stages, Asia = 10 stages etc.). A turbo button is also available should you need an extra boost.

Screenshot taken by the author

The Mega Drive version, which I played as part of Sega’s Mega Games I (1992), contains both the full arcade mode, and an original mode. The original mode is a bit more in-depth and allows you to gain sponsorship and earn money to upgrade your motorbike.

I have vague recollections of playing this in the arcade at Folkestone Rotunda Amusement Park when I was a pre-pubescent imp. It had the full arcade set up complete with a replica motorbike that you could sit on and use your weight to lean left or right. Being small at the time, my father would stand at the back of the bike and help me lean it, ensuring I didn’t go flying off.

Screenshot taken by the author

The bike is easy to control, and the game is easy to learn. The graphics are clean, with brightly coloured sprites making it easy to distinguish yourself from other riders. The backgrounds and time of day change as you move through the stages of the races giving you a real sense of location and distance. At the top of the screen you have information telling you your score, speed, what course and stage you are on, and a countdown dial.

The game can become frustrating when you crash in Arcade mode as there is no way to make the time up again, so you may as well restart the game. I also dislike the time countdown in Arcade mode too. In the arcade one can understand a time limit as you want games that are “quarter guzzlers”, but for gaming at home, it’s just plain annoying. Admittedly I didn’t spend that much time on this game as I’m not a racing fan, but if you are, I am sure that you will enjoy the challenge of this game.

Did I complete the game?

Nope, nowhere near.

What the critics said:

Mean Machines: “A high quality racing game which is a must for speed freaks. Overall 86%.[1]

Mean Machines: “This cart manages to contain all of the playability of the coin-op, coulpled with slick audio-visuals. Definitely worth getting if you enjoyed the coin-op, or if you’re after a decent Mega Drive game at a bargain price. Overall 90%.”[2]

Sega Power: “Brilliant biking coin-op conversion. Terrific sensation of speed and movement, with good graphics and smooth 3D update. Thrilling to play and lasts for ages. Overall 5/5.[3]

Sega Power “Another coin-op classic of yesteryear. Fine, but a bit mouldy. Overall 4/5.”[4]

MegaTech: “Converted from the Sega coin-op, this is an excellent copy and has all the features of the original machine plus an extra challenge game thrown in for good measure! The graphics and sound are both excellent, and with playability to match, this is a race game that no Megadrive owner should be without. Overall 89%.[5]

My Verdict: “I’m not a fan of racing games but if you are, this may prove a challenge. Beautiful graphics and scenery too, and enough replay value to make it worth adding to your collection.”

Ratings:

What are your memories of Super Hang-On? I would love to hear your thoughts, and don’t for get to follow and subscribe so that you don’t miss my latest reviews! You can also find me on Instagram: @nicklovestogame.


[1] ‘Mega Drive Review – Super Hang-On’. Mean Machines. (October 1990). Issue 1:82-4.

[2] Leadbetter, R.,’Review: Mega Drive – Super Hang-On’. Mean Machines. (October 1992). Issue 1:127.

[3] Jarrett, S., ‘The Hard Line – Super Hang-On’. Sega Power. (April 1991). Issue 23:54.

[4] ‘The Hard Line – Review: Mega Drive – Super Hang-On’. Sega Power. (September 1993). Issue 46:98.

[5] ‘Game Index – Super Hang-On’. MegaTech. (May 1992). Issue 5:78.

Chuck Rock – Review

He may not be the sharpest flint in pre-history, but Chuck Rock has a head as hard as a rock and a belly that is deadly. So get ready to navigate jungles and swamps, battle dinosaurs, and rescue your wife before Garry Glitter has his way with her. Unga Bunga!!!

Title screen (screenshot taken by author)

Chuck Rock is a single-player side-scrolling platform game developed by Core Design. It has been published and ported to many other platforms including:

  • Core Design – Atari St and Amiga (1991), Commodore 64 (1992), and Amiga CD32 (1994)
  • Krisalis Software – Acorn Archimedes (1991)
  • Virgin Interactive – Sega Megadrive (1991), Sega Master System (1993) and Game Gear (1992)
  • Sony Imagesoft – Sega Mega-CD (1993), SNES (1992) and Game Boy (1993).

I chose to review the Mega Drive version.

Beautiful level design (screenshot taken by author)

Set in a fantasy prehistoric Stone Age, Chuck’s wife, Ophelia, has been kidnapped by Garry Glitter (no, not the disgraced pop star). Chuck must navigate his way through jungles, swamps, ice-capped mountains and caves, all the while evading various dinosaurs and prehistoric animals; or if you are feeling brave, barging them out the way with your belly, performing flying kicks, or picking up huge boulders and throwing them. I’d recommend using the latter two to kill your enemies.

(Chuck may look like a everyone’s least favourite uncle, but he is the hero of this tale (screenshot taken by author)

The opening musical number on the title screen is awesome and I found myself delaying playing the game in order to listen to the song the whole way through. It seems that even though Chuck isn’t the sharpest tool in the box, he has aspired to lead singer of a rock band. Throughout the game the graphics and music are very good, and there’s plenty to catch the eye and make you think “That looks cool!”.

(screenshot taken by author)

The game is challenging with some tough levels. Oddly, the end bosses are all very easy to defeat with the exception of the third boss. The only boss that you need a strategy to defeat is the first boss, but other than that, it is simply a case of button mashing. Sadly this game lacks replay value, and once completed you may only wish to revisit it once or twice before turning your attention to the next challenge.

(screenshot taken by author)

Did I complete the game?

Yes, I completed the game without the use of cheats. Sadly, Upon completing the game you are met another example of an anti-climatic ending to a game that deserved more.

What the critics said:

Mean Machines: An excellent and quite original platform game that’s highly recommended to all Megadrive players. Overall 91%.[1]

Mean Machines Index: “A brilliant, humorous Megadrive platform game with real character. Its graphics are out-of-this-world, the sound completely brilliant, and the game play pretty good too! A must have for your Megadrive collection. Overall 91%[2]

Sega Power: Groovy goings-on 100 million years B.C. with wild sonics and graphics as Chuck rescues his wife from the evil Garry Glitter. Overall 4/5.”[3]

Electronic Gaming Monthly: “The gameplay could use a little fine tuning, but it is still very fun to play. The graphics are comical and the music jams. Overall 7.75/10.[4]

Megazone: “Graphics wise this game is a hit (as good as the Amiga on the Mega Drive), the sound is pretty good (not quite up to the Amiga, but still pretty hot) and some imaginative sprite drawings have been added to this game. Overall 85%.[5]

GamePro: “The game’s worth the bucks for the music and graphics alone. From standpoint of challenge and gameplay, it’s middle of the road – not too hard and not too easy. Overall 4.6/5.”[6]

My verdict: “Unga Bunga – The game has nice graphics and is fun to play. The simple button mashing as oppose to a strategy needed to defeat end of level bosses, is a mark against this game. The lack of replay value means that once completed I doubt you will want to play through again.”

Rating:

What are your memories of Chuck Rock? I would love to hear your thoughts, and don’t for get to follow and subscribe so that you don’t miss my latest reviews! You can also find me on Instagram: @nicklovestogame.


[1] ‘Review: Mega Drive – Chuck Rock’. Mean Machines. (June 1992). Issue 21:76-8.

[2] ‘Review: Mega Drive – Chuck Rock’. Mean Machines. (October 1992). Issue 1:137.

[3] ‘The Hard Line – Review: Mega Drive – Chuck Rock’. Sega Power. (September 1993). Issue 46:96.

[4] ‘Review Crew: Genesis – Chuck Rock’. Electronic Gaming Monthly. (March 1992). 32:26.

[5] ‘Review: Mega Drive – Chuck Rock’. Megazone. (December 1992/January 1993). Issue 25:36.

[6] Feline Groovy. ‘Genesis Pro Review – Chuck Rock’. GamePro. (December 1991). 29:70.

World Cup Italia ’90 – Review

I was seven during World Cup Italia ’90, and sadly I don’t remember much about it, other than my father jumping off the sofa in celebreation as England scored. I don’t recall the match but I have a feeling it may have been England v Belgium, and the goal in question was David Platt’s volley.

Title screen (screenshot taken by the author)

Released for the Sega Mega Drive in 1990, and the Sega Master System in 1991, this football game was developed and published by Sega, and can be played in one and two-player modes. To review, I revisisted the Sega Mega Drive version

You can choose from 24 teams in the World Cup, all with varying degrees of stats, to guide to World Cup glory and immortality. Brazil, Argentina, West Germany, Holland and England are the best rated teams for the era, but sadly, they do not use names of real players.

You view the game from a top down perspective, changing only during corners, penalties and goal kicks, when it changes to a more detailed, close up view.

In-game action (screenshot taken by the author)

When you score a goal, a picture of a player celebrating appears upon the screen for a few seconds before kick-off resumes. The gameplay is superior to European Club Soccer. For instance, there is a clear distinction between shoot, pass and cross funtions. You can tackle and head the ball, and the overall ball control is better. You also need tactics to score goals. For example, in the first half, you need to diagonally cross ball into the penalty box to head the ball over the goalkeeper. In the second half, the goalkeeper tends to stay on his goal line, and so long shots diagonally across the penalty box into the corners of the goal are best.

The graphics are basic but they are colourful, and clear and crisp. The added illustrations and animations during set pieces are a nice touch as the game would seem rather plain otherwise.

The more detailed set piece animation (screenshot taken by the author)

There are a few things wrong with this game however. Firstly, there are no fouls, so you can just hack away to your heart’s content. What really lets this game down though, is the length of each match. There is no way to shorten the match time, and each game seems unnecessarily long. This wouldn’t be so bad, but the simplicity of the gameplay soon becomes tiresome over such a long period of time. I achieved such a high level of skill at the game that I was scoring 20 goals per match because they are so long.

The detailed stills are a nice touch (screenshot taken by the author)

This game received poor reviews, but I seem to have a soft spot for it. I must confess that I love the music. It has a very South American Latin feel to it, and once its in your head, it never leaves. You’ll certainly find yourself dancing in your seat to the Latin beat.

Did I complete the game?

Yes, I have led the teams of Brazil and England to World Cup glory numerous times.

What the critics said:

Sega Power: “…this soccer game is a disappointment. Tired old gameplay and average graphics make this one for soccer fans only. Overall 2/5”.[1]

Sega Power: “This soccer game is, to put it mildly, very poor. Tired old gameplay and average graphics make this a soccer fan game only. Overall 2/5.[2]

Raze: “Smooth scrolling pitch, good animation, lots of great set-piece screens and two-player mode is great fun. Poor title tune and corny during game, feeble whistles and strange groans, doesn’t always pick the nearest player. Overall 82%.[3]

My verdict:Although you may get bored with the formulaic ways of scoring, the music will help ease the lengthy game time. I still prefer this to European Club Soccer.”

Rating:

What are your memories of World Cup Italia ’90? I would love to hear your thoughts, and don’t for get to follow and subscribe so that you don’t miss my latest reviews! You can also find me on Instagram: @nicklovestogame.


[1] Jarrett, S., ‘The Hard Line – World Cup Italia ‘90’. Sega Power. (April 1991). Issue 23:55.

[2] ‘The Hard Line – Review: Mega Drive – World Cup Italia ‘90’. Sega Power. (September 1993). Issue 46:99.

[3] ‘Reviews: Mega Drive – World Cup Italia ‘90’. Raze. (March 1991). Issue 5:44-45.

John Madden Football ’92 – Review

Sports games have always been popular amongst gamers. However, technology has always held creators back from producing quality and realistic sports sims. Madden ’92 is an example of an early attempt to produce a playable American football game…and to be fair, they didn’t do a bad job.

Title screen (screenshot taken by the author)

John Madden Football ’92 is an American football sports game developed and published by Electronic Arts for the Sega Mega Drive, beginning a series of yearly instalments for the video game market. I chose to review the Sega Mega Drive version.

For those unacquainted with the game of American football, each team consists of groups of offensive, defensive, and special team players. When you are in possession of the ball, you have four plays or “downs” to move the ball forward 10 yards or more. This can be achieved by throwing or kicking the ball or running with it. This is decided before each play as you set your team up in a tactical way to deceive and outmanoeuvre your opponents. If you fail to move the ball 10 yards or more within those four downs, the ball passes to the opposite team. If you are successful, then you go back to a “1st Down” and the process starts again until either you score a “touchdown”, “field goal”, or lose the ball in a number of different ways.

“Red, 27, HIKE!” (screenshot taken by the author)

Madden ’92 can be played in single-player modes as well as two-player head-to-head and co-op modes (the later being a new feature).

There are 28 professional teams (the All-Madden team can only be played in Regular Season) to choose from and several new options for you to play:

  • Pre-Season – An exhibition match with no fouls except offsides and the 45 second play cock is turned off
  • Regular Season – Exhibition but with all game rules in effect
  • New Playoffs – Begin a new tournament
  • Continue Playoffs – Continue with a previous tournament
  • Sudden Death – Normal game rules but the first to score wins the game

American football consists of four quarters, and you can choose how long these quarters are. Quarter lengths of 5, 10, and 15 minutes can be chosen.

You then get to choose the type of stadium and field you play on. The choices are:

  • Open stadium with grass
  • Open stadium with Astroturf
  • Domed stadium with Astroturf

When you select open stadiums, the weather can affect the game in the guise of wind, rain and snow. In the snow and rain, players are slower and have less traction. The wind affects field goals and punts making it trickier to judge direction.

The game came with a very comprehensive manual explaining in detail the intricacies of the plays and in-depth stats on the players. Simply by reading the manual, one could quite easily become an expert (or a bore).

The manual will help you learn the strengths and weaknesses of the various plays you can make (screenshot taken by the author)

Madden ’92’s competitors released in 1991 were Tecmo Bowl (NES) and Mike Ditka Power Football (Mega Drive). I haven’t played either of those games and so cannot compare playability, but I do feel that Mike Ditka Power Football’s graphics are slightly better than Madden ’92. That’s not taking away from Madden ’92 which I think looks very good.

Music doesn’t play a big role in this game, and one can live without the SFX. I tended to listen to a podcast or stick on some music.

Naturally I had heard of American football as a youngster through American films but had never actually played it. I had previously played John Madden American Football (1990) which gave me the opportunity to learn how the sport was played. When we picked up Madden ’92, I was pleased to see there had been some improvements. There were more plays for the teams to perform, and when a player was injured, an ambulance would drive onto the pitch, which proceeded to plough through the huddled mass of players, splaying them across the field. Sadly, there was still no license for authentic teams, stadium and player names.

In my youth, I would always play as Chicago (because for some reason I liked the Chicago Bears), and my older brother preferred Cincinnati (Bengals). Like most sports games, Madden ‘92 is better in two-player mode. The negative aspects of this game include the fact that the players are very slow when running that trying to gain rushing yards is pointless. You may as well stick to throwing plays.

Did I complete the game?

In many modern sports games you don’t necessarily complete them, as much as win the league and cup titles and then move on to the next season. Completing early sports games simply means winning a tournament or league once before restarting with a different team. I have won the play-offs many times with several different teams including Chicago, Cincinnati, Buffalo and Philadelphia.

What the critics said:

Mean Machines:Better than the original John Madden’s football in every department. What more can be said?”. Overall 95%.”[1]

Mean Machines Index: “Featuring new teams, higher difficulty level and plenty of gameplay tweaks, this sequel does the impossible and improves upon the original to become the best Megadrive game yet seen! An essential purchase. Overall 96%[2]

Sega Power: “Better than the original, but at first sight it seems very similar. Don’t be fooled! (If you’ve got the original though – think before buying. It’s not radically different.) Overall 5/5.[3]

GamePro: “John Madden Football ’92 features the most talented computer opponent – ‘nuff said. Add to this the additional plays, two-player cooperative play, and improved graphics, and JMF ‘92 gives you great bang for your buck. Overall 5/5”.[4]

Sega Force: “Madden is one of those rare things, a complex game easy and fun to play, but with the detail to allow constant improvement by practice. Even rarer it merges detailed tactics with arcade gameplay so well, few people will be able to resist it. Overall 94%”.[5]

MegaTech: “This is the best American footy game anywhere on any machine. The graphics are excellent, and more importantly, the control system is easy to understand and use. No Megadrive owner should be without a copy. Overall 95%“.[6]

My verdict: “An improvement on the first game. Definitely more enjoyable in two-player mode but sadly, the game hasn’t aged well.”

Rating:

What are your memories of Madden ’92? I would love to hear your thoughts, and don’t for get to follow and subscribe so that you don’t miss my latest reviews! You can also find me on Instagram: @nicklovestogame.


[1] ‘Review: Mega Drive – John Madden Football ’92’. Mean Machines. (December 1991). Issue 15:20-24.

[2] ‘Review Index: Mega Drive – John Madden Football ‘92’. Mean Machines. (October 1992). Issue 1:139.

[3] ‘The Hard Line – Review: Mega Drive – John Madden ‘92’. Sega Power. (September 1993). Issue 46:97.

[4] Fanatic Fan. ‘GamePro’s Video Football Playoff – John Madden ‘92’ GamePro. (December 1991). Issue 29:55-56.

[5] ‘Reviewed – John Madden’s Football ’92’. Sega Force. (January 1992). Issue 1:36-7.

[6] ‘Game Index – John Madden Football ‘92’. MegaTech. (May 1992). Issue 5:76.

Sonic the Hedgehog – Review

In a bid to compete with the popularity of Nintendo’s Super Mario Bros. series, the early 90s saw Sega introduce a new hero for their latest console, the Sega Mega Drive. Whilst it was still a platform game with a recurring antagonist, it was unique enough so as not to be accused of copying Mario’s format. In 1991, Sonic the Hedgehog burst onto our screens and has maintained a place in the hearts of retrogamers everywhere.

Title screen (screenshot taken by the author)

Sonic the Hedgehog is a side-scrolling platform game developed by Sonic Team and published by Sega. It was released on the Sega Megadrive in 1991, spawning one of the most successful videogame series of all time. This review is based on the Mega Drive version.

Sonic is a blue hedgehog who has the ability to run at incredible speeds. This speed, and the ability to defend himself by curling into a ball, allowing his spikes to damage his enemies, is put to use when the evil Dr. Robotnik arrives in Sonic’s homeland. He proceeds to steal the six Chaos Emeralds (which have the ability to warp time and space), and capture the local wildlife, transforming them into evil robotic animals.

Sonic must navigate through six zones, evading Robotnik’s minions and attempt to steal back the Chaos Emeralds which are found via special stages.

Spring Hill Zone (screenshot taken by the author)

Along the way, you collect gold rings which act both as health and a way to access the special stages where the Chaos Emeralds are. If you get hit by an enemy or land on spikes or lava, your coins will spill out all around you. However, you can instantly retrieve a small number before they disappear. If you take damage with no rings, you die. Should you still have 50 rings or over by the end of stages one and/or two of each level, a large gold ring will appear that you must jump through to warp to the special stages. Gaining 100 rings will give Sonic an extra life.

There are six special stages in all, each one different and consisting of Sonic constantly spinning in a ball whilst navigating a rotating semi-labyrinth. Throughout these stages you will encounter buttons that make the levels spin in the opposite direction, circular bumpers that ping you aggressively in all directions, flashing red buttons that make you exit prematurely that bonus stage, and, of course, the Chaos Emeralds themselves.

Occasionally you will see what look like computer monitors showing either a ring, a blue sphere, or stars on them. Destroying these will give you 10 rings, a protective shield, and temporary invulnerability respectively.

The special stages are somewhat psychadelic (screenshot taken by the author)

Sonic really was revolutionary for its time, and still holds up well today. The sprites, levels and backgrounds are beautifully illustrated and coloured, and are all unique, crisp and well defined.

The music is very memorable and even when I hear it now, I can recite every note and instantly know which level it belongs to.

The controls are tight, allowing you to evade hazards and attack your enemies in the manner you intend. They consist of running, jumping, and spinning. You need to spin when attacking your enemies.

There are two endings depending on if you manage to collect all the Chaos Emeralds which adds a little replay value, and the high speed at which Sonic can achieve makes for exciting gameplay.

We bought our Sega Mega Drive for Christmas 1991, and Sonic came with the package. I have very fond memories of this game and have spent many an hour playing through it (it only takes about 25 minutes to complete). It’s an easy game to play but still challenging when trying to attain all Chaos Emeralds. The game appeals to all ages of gamer.

Did I complete the game?

Over the years I have completed Sonic the Hedgehog many times (including with all Chaos Emeralds collected) without the use of cheats, and will no doubt re-visit the game in the future to make sure I still can.

What the critics said:

Mean Machines:Yep, it’s true – Sonic is really great! I can’t think of a Megadrive game with more spectacular graphics…”. Overall score 92%.[1]

Entertainment Weekly: “Dazzlingly fast yet never chaotic, consistently challenging but never impossible, Sonic the Hedgehog is quite simply one of the best video games I’ve ever played. A+.”[2]

Mean Machines Index: “Sega’s hyped-beyond belief character stars in a game inspired by Nintendo’s Mario platform game series. It’s very addictive with brilliant graphics and speed. However, the gameplay is frustrating at times and experienced gamers should have this one licked within days. Overall 90%[3]

Sega Power: “World famous and rightly so. This is almost certainly the game that has sold more Sega systems than anything else. It’s a bit easy and looks slightly dated now, but it’s still one of the best games around. Overall 5/5”.[4]

Sega Power: “Sega’s answer to Super Mario Bros, Sonic is the fastest parallax scrolling collect-‘em-up ever! A stunning rotating bonus round and a feast of visual effects – a classic. Overall 5/5”.[5]

Awards:

Overall Game of the Year – EMAP’s Golden Joystick Awards[6]

Game of the Year (Overall) – Electronic Gaming Monthly[7]

Game of the Year (Genesis) – Electronic Gaming Monthly[8]

Best Graphics in a Video Game – Electronic Gaming Monthly[9]

Hottest Character in a Game – Electronic Gaming Monthly[10]

My verdict:A revolutionary riposte to Nintendo’s Super Mario Bros. series. It’s beautiful, colourful, fun, challenging, and has great music. Every gamer should play this game as a rite of passage.”

Rating:

What are your memories of Sonic the Hedgehog? I would love to hear your thoughts, and don’t for get to follow and subscribe so that you don’t miss my latest reviews! You can also find me on Instagram: @nicklovestogame.


[1] ‘Review: Mega Drive – Sonic the Hedgehog’. Mean Machines. (July 1991). Issue 10:42-44.

[2] Strauss, B., (August 1991). ‘Review: Mega Drive – Sonic the Hedgehog’. Entertainment Weekly. (https://ew.com/article/1991/08/23/sonic-hedgehog/ Accessed 10th December 2019).

[3] ‘Review Index: Mega Drive – Sonic the Hedgehog’. Mean Machines. (October 1992). Issue 1:140.

[4] ‘The Hard Line – Review: Mega Drive – Sonic the Hedgehog’. Sega Power. (September 1993). Issue 46:98.

[5] Jarrett, S., ‘The Hard Line – Sonic the Hedgehog’. Sega Power. (April 1991). Issue 23:54.

[6] ‘News – Luvvies! Dahlings!’. The One. (May 1992). Issue 44:17.

[7] ‘EGM’s Best and Worst of 1991’. Electronic Gaming Monthly’s 1992 Video Game Buyers Guide. (January 1992). :61.

[8] ibid,. :61.

[9] ibid,. :62.

[10] Ibid,. :65.