John Madden Football ’93 – Review

“Red…7…28…hut, hike!!!” John madden is back! Get ready for hard-hitting defensive plays and Hail Mary passes, as we delve into this offering from Electronic Arts.

Title screen (Screenshot taken by the author)

Madden ’93 is another in the line of the Madden franchise. It was developed by Blue Sky Productions for the Mega Drive and Electronic Arts for the SNES. It was published by EA Sports Network and released in 1992. I chose to review the Mega Drive version.

The game looks identical to its predecessor (Screenshot taken by the author)

Ah yes, American Football, that favourite of North American Sports that just doesn’t seem to translate well in the UK. The computer games did, however, and this one was no exception.

Gameplay

You can play either one-player, two-player, or two-player co-operative which is fun to play, as I did with both my brothers.

Like its predecessor, you have the option to play Pre-Season, Regular Season, Playoffs and Sudden Death modes. Although I question the purpose of pre-season as it doesn’t add anything to the team or player stats. The only difference is that the play clock is disabled, meaning you can take as long as you like when selecting plays. A new mode, All-Time Greats has been added which is a smaller 8-team tournament.

Throwing plays is still the best tactic (Screenshot taken by the author)

What’s New?

Some of the new features include stumbling, taunting, head-butting, and one-handed catches. Although you can play in snow, wind and rain etc., they still haven’t added a random weather option, which would be a nice touch. Sadly, there is still no sign of real player names, but on a positive note, you no longer need a password as the game automatically saves your progress.

How Does It Handle?

The gameplay has been improved since it’s predecessor. It’s tougher to dominate matches with a throwing game as defensive players intercept and block the passes a lot more. The running game is slightly better with faster runners, but I’d still recommended not bothering and sticking to a throwing game.

Graphics

The graphics are pretty much the same as Madden ’92. In that, they still look very good. Not complaints here.

Did I Complete The Game?

In many modern sports games you don’t necessarily complete these sorts of games, 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:

Computer & Video Games Magazine: “Definitely the worst of the trio, and hopefully EA will learn that ’92 is virtually impossible to improve on. Overall 77%”.[1]

Gamesmaster Magazine: “John Madden ’93 is simply the most sophisticated, intriguing and complex game available on any system anywhere. If you fancy yourself as having a brain as well as a fast trigger-finger, this is the game for you. Overall 90%[2]

Sega Power: “Can’t fault it as a football game, but the differences between this and the ’92 version aren’t that noticebale. If you haven’t got any of the John Madden games, get it. Overall 5/5.[3]

Gamerpro: “John Madden Football ’93 is even more fun to play than Madden ’92…it’s clealy the benchmark for all other football video games. Overall 4.6/5.[4]

Mean Machines Sega: “Not a bad game at all, but hopelessly redundant nonetheless. Go for the slightly better John Madden ’92 if you’re after a definitive American football game and give this one a miss. Overall 89%.[5]

Awards:

Best Sports Game of the Year (All Systems) – Electronic Gaming Monthly’s Best and Worst of 1992[6]

My Verdict:

“Overall, the game is more challenging than Madden ’92, which is for the better. A step forward for the franchise.”

Rating:

What are your memories of Madden ’93? 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] Anglin, P., ‘Game Review: Mega Drive – John Madden ’93’. (January 1993). Computer & Video Games Magazine. (January 1993). Issue 124:90.

[2] ‘Game Review: Mega Drive – John Madden Football ’93’. Gamemaster Magazine. (January 1993). Issue 1:66-8.

[3] ‘The Hard Line – Review: Mega Drive – John Madden Football ‘93’. Sega Power. (September 1993). Issue 46:97.

[4] Weekend Warrior ‘Pro Review: Genesis – John Madden Football ‘93’. Gamerpro. (December 1992). :141-2.

[5] ‘Review – John Madden Football ‘93’. Mean Machines Sega. (December 1992). Issue 3:102-4.

[5] ‘EGM’s Best and Worst of 1992: Best Sports Game of the Year (All Game Systems) – John Madden Football ‘93‘. Electronic Gaming Monthly’s 1993 Video Game Buyer’s Guide. (1993). :16.

Advertisement

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)

Plot

Set in a fantasy prehistoric Stone Age, Chuck’s wife, Ophelia, has been kidnapped by Garry Glitter (no, not the disgraced pop star).

Gameplay

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)

How Does It Handle?

The controls are easy to learn and are nice and responsive. 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.

Graphics

Throughout the game the graphics look fab. There’s plenty to catch the eye and make you think “That looks cool!”.

The levels look gorgeous (screenshot taken by author)

Music

The music is good throughout the game. 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.

Replay Value

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.

Aladdin – Review

Aladdin is a Middle-Eastern folk tale about a boy who went from rags to riches with the help of a genie. The western world embraced this tale, and is one of the more well-known stories from the Arabic world. In 1992, Disney released their animated film version, bringing Aladdin to a “whole new world”…er…I mean generation. Its popularity, due to a great soundtrack and an award winning performance by Robin Williams, saw a video game released a year after the films hit the cinemas.

Title screen (screenshot taken by the author)

Aladdin is a single-player side-scrolling action platformer which was developed by Virgin Games. It was published in 1993 by Sega and Disney Software for the Sega Megadrive, and by Capcom for the SNES. It was later ported to the NES, Game Boy, Amiga and DOS formats. I chose to review the Mega Drive Version.

Plot

The game is not identical to, but still has the same storyline as the film. You play as the hero Aladdin who must must rescue the Princess Jasmine from the evil Jafar.

Gameplay

Whilst traversing the levels you are able to jump, crouch, and climb ropes. To defeat enemies, you have the choice of a scimitar with which to slash your opponent or you can collect apples to use as projectiles. If you collect tokens of the Genie’s head or Abu’s head, you will gain access to bonus stages to gain extra lives and such.

The difficulty of the levels increase as the game progresses. One level which sees our hero trying to escape the Cave of Wonders is particularly hard and had me swearing many times at the TV and/or controller pad.

Aladdin was praised by critics for its graphics (screenshot taken by the author)

There are cut scenes between the levels allowing the storyline to move along, but you do not need to have seen the film in order to enjoy the game.

How Does The Game Handle?

The controls are tight, and the physics of the game are easy to get used to.

Graphics

The graphics are bright and colourful, and the animation is fun to watch. All the levels are detailed, look beautiful and make you feel like you’re playing the movie.

Music

The music consists of songs from the movie soundtrack so no doubt you will be humming along.

SPOILER ALERT!!!

Frustratingly, at the end of the game you can only defeat Jafar by throwing apples at him. What the game doesn’t tell you is that you need 36 apples to defeat him. If you don’t have enough there is little else you can do other than restart the entire game, and ensure you use the apples sparingly.

“Prince Ali fabulous he Ali Ababwa” (screenshot taken by the author)

Replay Value

When the game is completed the ending is practically non-existant, which begs the question, should one have bothered to complete it in the first place. The answer, of course, is yes as this is a good game and worth playing again.

Did I Complete The Game?

Yes, but I wasn’t happy about getting all the way to the end before realising that I had to restart and play through again to ensure I had enough apples to defeat Jafar.

What The Critics Said:

Edge Magazine: “…almost perfect. The sound could have been better – but that’s a minor quibble. Anyway, at last the Mega Drive has a new platform king. Move over spiky blue one, Aladdin’s in town. Overall 8/10.”[1]

My Verdict: “Prince Ali! Fabulous He! Ali Ababwa. A fun little game that is well worth your time. Great graphics and music, however older generations might get bored a little easily with this one.”

Rating:

What are your memories of Aladdin? 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: Aladdin’. Edge Magazine. (November 1993). Issue 2:92-3.

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

Gameplay

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. Also, when you score a goal, a picture of a player celebrating appears upon the screen for a few seconds before kick-off resumes.

In-game action (screenshot taken by the author)

How Does It Handle?

The gameplay is superior to European Club Soccer (1992). 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.

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

Graphics

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

Music

The music is great.l! It has a very South American Latin feel to it which I’d be more than happy to listen to. The only annoyance is that every time to ball goes off for a throw-in or corner or when a goal is scored, the music restarts from the beginning.

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

Personal Memories

This game received poor reviews, but I seem to have a soft spot for it. I must confess that I love the music. Once it’s in your head, it never leaves. You’ll certainly find yourself dancing in your seat to the Latin beat.

This was also one of the first Mega Drive games I owned and completed. I felt such a sense of pride because I was only about nine years old and had often made it to the final only to be defeated.

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.

European Club Soccer – Review

In 1992, I was just beginning to become interested in football. I was playing in my school team, and at weekends would play for local Saturday morning teams. My love of football meant that I also sought out football computer games. FIFA International Soccer and Pro Evolution Soccer were a few years away yet, so I purchased European Club Soccer.

Title screen (screenshot taken by the author)

Known as World Trophy Soccer in North America, and J-League Champion Soccer in Japan, this football game was developed by Krisalis Software (Game Arts in Japan) and published by Virgin Games for the Sega Mega Drive in 1992. I chose to review the Sega Mega Drive version.

European Club Soccer had an impressive array of teams to choose from (screenshot taken by the author)

Gameplay

Playable in one and two-player mode, you can choose from over 150 teams throughout Europe to compete in tournaments. Naturally they do not have the real player names, but many of the teams are recognisable. For example, Manchester United, Liverpool, Juventus etc., are available, as well as some more obscure additions such as Rotherham United.

How Does It Handle?

Oddly, there is no “shoot” button per se, only low pass and high pass. Frustratingly, the players lose the ball if they change direction too fast whilst dribbling and scoring from a cross or corner is pretty much impossible too. In order to score, I found that I had to have one of my players stand in front of my opponent’s goalkeeper to intercept a shot from another of my players. The keeper would dive out the way, allowing the intercepting player to score into an open net.

Due to a lack of storage, any changes made to team strips could not be saved, and the only way to continue progress through a tournament was to use a password.

Graphics

The in-game graphics are good for 1992, far superior that Konami Hyper Soccer and Goal! Two on the NES.

Sadly, the gameplay left alot to be desired (screenshot taken by the author)

Personal Memories

I remember that I always wanted this game as a kid because I thought it looked excellent, and the cover art really sold it to me. Sadly, I couldn’t afford many games. I’m unsure if I would have felt let down had I bought this game upon release.

Did I Complete The Game?

I successfuly won all leagues and cups without the Three Shredded Wheat cheat.

What The Critics Said:

Mean Machines: “A superbly presented game which is sadly let down by some awkward gameplay points. Overall 69%.[1]

Mean Machines Index: Megadrive soccer games have a history to beingsad and this effort does little to addressthe situation. Although the graphics and sound are very good, the gameplay is let down by low player intelligence, wonky collision detention and awkward controls. As the (very) old saying goes “try before you buy!”. Overall 69%”[2]

Sega Power: “Nice introduction and options, but the whole thing is a let down by poor gameplay. It’s simply too easy to beat in one-player mode. Overall 3/5[3]

My Verdict:Not the worst football game I’ve played, but there are better ones out there to enjoy. I‘d recommend seeking out arcade football games for games released in 1992.

Rating:

What are your memories of European Club Soccer? 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 – European Club Soccer’. Mean Machines. (June 1992). Issue 21:106-8.

[2] ‘Review Index: Mega Drive – Euro Club Soccer’. Mean Machines. (October 1992). Issue 1:138.

[3] ‘The Hard Line – Review: Mega Drive – European Club Soccer’. Sega Power. (September 1993). Issue 46:97.

Pat Riley Basketball – Review

Basketball has never been overly popular in England. Yes, we played it at school, or if one of our friends happened to persuade their parents to buy a hoop for their garden but overall, basketball was considered very much a North American sport. In the mid-90s, Channel 4 began showing NBA games regularly on Sundays. Had Pat Riley Basketball been released during this time, it may have proved a more popular game.

Title screen (screenshot taken by the author)

Pat Riley Basketball (also known as Super Real Basketball)is a sports game developed and published by Sega in 1990. It was released on the Sega Mega Drive and can be played in one or two-player modes. It version was also released for the Sega Master System. I chose to review the Sega Mega Drive version.

Gameplay

You must choose from eight teams across the US. And lead them to glory in a tournament that one can only assume is the coveted NBA Playoffs.

There’s not really that much to say about this game. It did not have the license for the real team or player names, most likely because the budget went on securing Pat Riley’s association with it. The players do have stats and you are able to change their positions as well as decide if you want your team to mark man-to-man or zone defense.

How Does It Handle?

The gameplay does let this game down though. The pass function isn’t as responsive as it should be, and its frustrating the way the computer is able to steal the ball from you, but you can only intercept their passes to steal the ball back. Another annoyance is that once you have scored a basket, your team seems to hang around the opponent’s end, leaving your basket unattended and allowing the computer to make a B-line for it.

Graphics

The graphics are pretty good, especially during the action cut scenes when players shoot and dunk (almost identical to Takin’ It To The Hoop (1989) on the TurboGrafx-16), and are far superior to other basketball games released for consoles in 1990 such as Ultimate Basketball (NES) and Harlem Globetrotters (NES). Whilst dunking, a bar appears with blue and red areas in it. A white dot moves across the bar and you must stop the white dot inside the red zone to ensure you score the basket. The same rule applies when defending a dunk. For some reason when in open play, the ball is ridiculously large. It looks more like a medicine ball.

The sprites are bright, colourful and clearly defined(screenshot taken by the author)

Replay Value

On a positive note, the fact that this can be played in two-player mode, and that there are three difficulty settings adds to the replay value of the game.

The action shots are beautifully illustrated and animated (screenshot taken by the author)

Did I Complete The Game?

I have completed this game several times without using any cheats. You really shouldn’t need them for this game anyway, as its not that difficult to win comfortably. Sadly, there is not much of an ending to make you feel that the effort was justified.

What The Critics Said:

Mean Machines: (Reviewed as Super Real Basketball) “Super Real Basketball gives solid entertainment to two players, but on your own, it’s a little wearing! Overall 79%”.[1]

Sega Power: (Reviewed as Super Real Basketball) “Boasting detailed close-ups of the slam-dunk action, realistic court views and decent sound this is an okay sport sim. However, the lack of depth and difficulty means that its potential is only realised in two-player mode. Overall 3/5.[2]

Sega Power: (Reviewed as Super Real Basketball) Detailed close-ups of the action, realistic court views and fairly decent sound FX. An okayish sports sim, with great two-palyer mode. Overall 2/5”[3]

MegaTech: “The computer isn’t difficult to beat once you’ve got used to the comprehensive control method there’s a very good two-player mode. With excellent graphics – the animation on the players is particularly good – and plenty of different gameplay options. Overall 81%.[4]

My Verdict:Some nice graphics, let down by the gameplay, but worth a bit of your time if you like basketball and the game is cheap to pick up.”

Rating:

What are your memories of Pat Riley Basketball? 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 Real Basketball’. Mean Machines. (April 1991). Issue 7:56-57.

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

[3] ‘The Hard Line – Review: Mega Drive – Super Real Basketball’. Sega Power. (September 1993). Issue 46:99.

[4] ‘Game Index – Super Real Basketball’. MegaTech. (May 1992). Issue 5:78.

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.

Basic Rules

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)

Gameplay

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)

Graphics

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

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.

Personal Memories

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 1990s 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. 8-bit versions were released on the Master System and Game Gear but with a few amendments. and the game greatly simplified. Laster re-releases include:

  • Sega Saturn as part of Sonic Jam (1997)
  • Nintendo GameCube as part of Sonic Mega Collection (2002)
  • PlayStation 2 and Xbox as part of Sonic Mega Collection Plus (2003)
  • GameBoy Advance (2006)
  • PlayStation 2 and PSP as part of the Sega Genesis Collection (2009)
  • PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 as part of Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection (2009)
  • Nintendo DS as part of Sonic Classic Collection (2010)
  • iOS, Android, and Nintendo 3DS (2013)
  • Oculus Rift as part of Oculus Arcade (2018)
  • Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch as part of Sonic Origins (2022)

This review is based on the Mega Drive version.

Plot

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. Ivo 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.

Gameplay

Sonic must navigate through six zones, evading Robotnik’s minions whilst attempting to steal back the Chaos Emeralds which are found via special stages. The zones include:

  • Green Hill Zone
  • Marble Zone
  • Spring Yard Zone
  • Labyrinth Zone
  • Star Light Zone
  • Scrap Brain Zone
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 more by the end of stages one and/or two of each zone, 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 from 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, red boots or stars on them. Depending on what is shown on the screens, destroying these will give you 10 rings, a protective shield, Super Speed and temporary invulnerability respectively.

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

How Does It Handle?

The controls are tight, allowing you to evade hazards and attack your enemies in the manner you intend (although there are the realistic physics of skidding to stop when running at speed). They consist of running, jumping, and spinning. You need to spin when attacking your enemies. When you destroy one, a little animal is released and they run off, finally free from Robotnik’s clutches. The game can move incredibly fast at times so it is advised to play through it carefully at first. Once you memorise the levels and their hazards, you can use Sonic’s top speed at blitz the levels. The high speed at which Sonic can achieve makes for exciting gameplay.

Graphics

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. Although, when at top speeds the game does have a tendency to flicker and lag a bit.

Music & SFX

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. I very much like the change in music that sparks danger when you have been under water too long and the increase in tempo when you gain invincibility. The SFX are so familiar to me that I would wager I could spot them if someone replayed one out of context of the game. The ‘tring’ when you collect a ring, the ‘twang’ when you use a spring pad, the ‘ding’ when you hit a bumper and, of course, the bassy ‘uh-oh’ sounding noise when you die, will be etched into my brain for the rest of my life.

Replay Value

There are two endings depending on if you manage to collect all the Chaos Emeralds which adds a little replay value. However, the game is so enjoyable that you’ll find yourself returning again and again.

Personal Memories

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 30 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 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.