Sega's final console was taken off the shelves after just two years, proving that the good things in life never last.


Wow, this is depressing.  It seemed like the tag team combo of Capcom and the Dreamcast was invincible after playing superb games like Street Fighter III and Marvel vs. Capcom 2, but it seems that even they couldn't start a fire under the genre that's been dead cold for almost a decade.  I guess it's not entirely Capcom's fault that Cannon Spike isn't the kind of shooter that could club people over the head and drag them away from the latest Final Fantasy and Tekken sequels, but maybe they should have known better than to have a company named Psikyo design it.  After all, everyone knows that Psikyo, or should I say Saikyo, is the preferred martial arts style of Dan Hibiki, the lovably wimpy comic relief in Capcom's Street Fighter Alpha series.

One of the most aggravating things about Cannon Spike is it offers two entirely different styles of gameplay, keeping Cannon Spike from reaching its full potential as either an intense shooter or a Final Fight clone, the kind of conveyor belt brawler that pumps out dozens of generic thugs and won't stop until you've reached the end of the stage.  The four buttons on the face of the Dreamcast controller could have been put to better use if Capcom hadn't split them evenly between these two entirely different styles of gameplay... if you like shooters, you'll resent Cannon Spike's two close quarters attacks, wishing for Smash TV's extremely useful omni-directional firing instead.  If you'd rather make like Haggar and crack open some skulls, you'll be reminded throughout the entire game that you can't jump or throw enemies.  If you're open to both game styles, you'll notice pretty quickly that there isn't much reason to combine your fists and firepower... the only incentive to switch your method of attack is when the other one gets boring.  In any case, you can tell that this isn't a "two great tastes that taste great together" arrangement.

Cannon Spike's other major malfunction is that it's short.  It's not just Gary Coleman short... we're talking about the kind of size you'd have to measure with an electron microscope.  Most of the levels are a couple of screens long and last a few minutes... after you kill a handful of enemies and two bosses, you're done.  Perhaps this was intentional... it does speed up the game, but it also leaves you twiddling your thumbs through Cannon Spike's numerous load screens and cut scenes.  They look great, especially the close ups of your characters at the beginning of each round, but this sundae was already small enough... it didn't need to be buried in two pounds of attractive but otherwise useless whipped cream.

That's perhaps the most frustrating thing about Cannon Spike.  If Psikyo had added more substance to the actual game, the attractive graphics and cast of characters from Street Fighter, Mega Man, and Three Wonders would have made it every bit as good as Capcom's in-house releases.  Unfortunately, Psikyo was more interested in making a strong first impression, and because of this it only takes twenty minutes for Cannon Spike to suffocate under its thick coats of gloss.  You're better off just heading to Blockbuster for this one... that way, you can reel it in, measure it, and throw it back when the thrill of the catch wears off.

Sammy (Arc System Works)

If I had to describe this game in a sentence, I'd say "It's Samurai Shodown with rock stars".  If I were limited to a word, however, that word would probably be "superb".  This is one of the best looking AND most enjoyable side-scrolling fighting games I've played on the Dreamcast, which is unusual because most of them concentrate on either flashy graphics (with over the top, easily exploited play mechanics... yes, I'm looking at you, Marvel vs. Capcom 2) or great gameplay (with dated artwork and low resolutions... in other words, most of Capcom's other fighters).

Guilty Gear X has flashy graphics.  If it gives you any idea, I've used the term "living painting" to describe the graphics to my friends.  The subtle colors and amazing detail in the characters make the stars of both King of Fighters and Street Fighter Alpha look like eyesores... which is pretty amazing because before Guilty Gear X, I had no complaints about them at all.  There aren't a lot of backgrounds in this game, but that's probably because the designers spent months creating each one... they're museum quality masterpieces.  You have to wonder why these guys even bothered with the video game industry when they could make themselves famous by painting chapel ceilings.

Guilty Gear has great gameplay.  It's a whole lot better than the last few Samurai Shodown games, and I personally feel that it BURIES the more recent Last Blade series (I'll never understand why those games have such a cult following).  The characters are original, despite many of them being based on rock semi-legends like Axel Rose, and they've got special moves that are both impressive and useful.  It's a lot easier to take advantage of launched opponents than it was in the first Guilty Gear, and you can even dash in mid-air, a technique that showed a lot of promise in the otherwise unredeemable Shinoken.  Those destroy moves from the first Guilty Gear no longer kill both the opponent AND the gameplay, either... they're tougher to perform, require a fully charged super meter, and end a single round rather than the entire fight.  However, you still have access to a brutal and stylish attack that you can drop on an opponent if you're desperate, or are just feeling bloodthirsty.

Guilty Gear X has it all.  In fact, it's so good that people have imported the Japanese version like crazy, even though it's a bit of a pain to play foriegn games on a standard Dreamcast.  If it's any consolation, though, Sammy is releasing the game for the Playstation 2 in the United States.  If you've got this system, you'd better hold onto fifty clams so you'll have that money handy the minute the Guilty Gear X is released... after all, it will be one of the few fighting games on the PS2 that's worth picking up until Capcom vs. SNK 2 is released.  If you just have a Dreamcast, well, you're screwed, but you can give the fickle bastards at Sega a taste of their own foul medicine by burning a self-loading copy of the Japanese Guilty Gear X.


Sometimes the most diplomatic way to settle an argument is to flip a coin and leave it up to chance.  No matter what comes up, you can be sure that there will be a clear winner... and a loser.  You can always count on a clear outcome from a coin.  Its answer to every problem is in black and white, never shades of grey.

Inspired by this fact of life, Treasure created Ikaruga.  At first, this sequel to the fantastic Radiant Silvergun appears to be just like any other vertically scrolling shooter.  However, Ikaruga has one key difference which transforms it into an entirely new experience.  Like a coin, your ship can flip over, switching its protective barrier from light to dark and back again.  This gives you two advantages over the swarms of black and white enemies crowding the screen... switching to their color will protect you against their bullets, and switching back makes them more vulnerable to your own fire.

To survive in Ikaruga, you must constantly adapt to hostile conditions, frequently switching colors to defend yourself against a constant rain of bullets and strike back against well armed bosses.  If that's not enough of a challenge for you (and it almost certainly will be), you can aim for a higher score by firing at enemies in sequence... hitting three black or white ships in a row will earn you a combo bonus which increases with every trio of like-colored enemies destroyed.

Ikaruga is a very demanding game... perhaps a little too demanding for its own good.  It lacks the flexibility of Radiant Silvergun, which allowed you to experiment with weapons and explore your surroundings.  If you expect to excel at Ikaruga, you'll have to develop sharp reflexes and absolute precision... and memorizing the location of the enemies in each stage certainly couldn't hurt.  The best players will appreciate the chance to push their considerable skills to the limit, but the rest of us may not enjoy the challenge quite as much.

Ikaruga's graphics are solid, but not outstanding... especially not on the advanced GameCube hardware but not even by the Dreamcast's more humble standards.  Perhaps it's because the game was designed by a skeleton crew at Treasure, or perhaps the backgrounds are drawn in subdued sepia tones to make the black and white objects stand out.  Whatever's the case, the game's visuals don't make the strong impression that its predecessor had on the Saturn.  On the other hand, the soundtrack is nearly as majestic as the amazing music in Radiant Silvergun.  It manages to be powerful without demanding your attention the way the screaming heavy metal in Dodonpachi did.

If you're a fan of Treasure's past work or just need an exceptionally difficult shooter to keep your video game playing skills finely tuned, Ikaruga is a smart purchase.  My advice to everyone else?  Flip a coin.

Agetec (SNK)

Oh yeeeeah.  I was pretty disappointed with King of Fighters '98 (and apparently, so were the designers themselves, since they used the always convenient "it was just a dream" plot device to take it out of the KOF storyline), but King of Fighters '99- called Evolution on the Dreamcast- brings back everything I loved about the series and even makes some welcome changes to it.

First of all, even though some of the characters from KOF '98 weren't invited to this tournament, SNK left in most of the good ones and spent a lot of time altering their fighting styles.  Characters from the same team who used to be clones of one another are now quite different (for instance, Robert Garcia from the Art of Fighting team is now a charge character, picking up the slack for Heidern who only makes a cameo appearance), and other fighters whose moves had gotten a little stale, or who were too powerful in earlier King of Fighters games, have been redesigned to make the game more fair and more fun.

Also, instead of just regurgitating old, obscure characters from previous King of Fighters games, SNK added entirely new ones to Evolution, and a few of them are either so charming or so effective that they're among my personal favorites in the entire KOF series.  I didn't like Xiang Fei much in Fatal Fury Real Bout 2, but she's so cute (and powerful!) in Evolution that she's in nearly every team I make.  Same goes with Bao, an entirely new creation who at twelve is the youngest member of the cast.  He may be just a kid, but he's a tough kid to beat, since he can throw projectiles in a wide variety of ways or stuff himself INSIDE his projectiles and shoot toward the opponent.

One of the best things about King of Fighters: Evolution is that it has its own distinct style and a very slick presentation, unlike King of Fighters '98 which was essentially a tossed salad of previous KOF titles.  There's a very futuristic feel to the game, thanks in part to the hard hitting music, an electronic/heavy metal hybrid that can sometimes get repetitive but still works a lot better than the contrived techno tracks in Street Fighter Alpha 3 or the cliche'd hip hop in Street Fighter 3: Third Strike.  The storyline about an underground crime syndicate cloning one of the characters and the pre-fight graphics (especially the options screen with its randomly placed hexagons) make the game seem even more high-tech.  Even though the other King of Fighters games weren't like this at all, I really like the new look and feel... it's a great new direction for a series that was once a little aimless artistically.

Speaking of important changes to the King of Fighters series, Evolution has a new feature that's been in plenty of Capcom games but hasn't been tried before in any of SNK's.  Now, each team has four fighters rather than three, and the fourth is kept on the sidelines as a "striker", who can be called out to attack the opponent or offer some other assistance to the player.  It works a lot like the special character system in the original Marvel vs. Capcom, but it's better because the strikers can be used in one of several ways and have more personality.  For instance, watch closely and you'll notice that some of the strikers get upset if their attacks miss.

Before I end this review, it's worth mentioning that Evolution is not only a whole lot better than King of Fighters '98, but improved over the Neo-Geo version of KOF '99 as well.  All of the backgrounds are polygonal now, and each one is introduced with a sweeping camera view before each match begins.  Each playfield has two different versions as well, so you get a lot more variety than was available in the Neo-Geo game.  Not much has changed in the foreground, but SNK did add a transparency effect to many of the projectiles, and Mai's fans now subtly fade away after they hit an opponent.  It's easier to pick the order of your team now that each of your fighters appears on an onscreen crosskey, and a lot of characters from other King of Fighters games are available as strikers, including Yamazaki, who was sorely missed in KOF '99.  They're not playable, unfortunately, but at least they're in the game.

King of Fighters: Evolution isn't entirely superior to King of Fighters '98... there aren't as many playable characters to choose from (although I didn't care about most of 'em, I do miss Heidern and Yamazaki), and the opening intro is pretty lousy; not at all as exciting as the cartoon opener in the Dreamcast version of KOF '98.  However, it's pretty clear- to me, at least- that Evolution is a higher quality game overall... it's more polished, has more options, and is just more fun.  Fans of the King of Fighters series will probably buy both games no matter what I say (heck, I bought KOF '98 even though I don't really like it), but if you're just not that interested in SNK fighters or are pinched for cash, you'd be wise just to stick with King of Fighters: Evolution.

Capcom (Takumi)

Capcom (Psikyo)

The big surprise about both of these games is that, even though they're great shooters, designed by an industry powerhouse for a game system far more powerful than the Saturn, Radiant Silvergun is still better than either of them.  Before playing Gigawing 2 and Mars Matrix, I thought Radiant Silvergun had set standards for shooters that would be tough to surpass... now, I'm wondering if that game will ever be topped!

However, I'm not reviewing Radiant Silvergun... that'll happen later (knowing me, it'll be much later... heh heh...).  I'm talking about Gigawing 2 and Mars Matrix, which deserve credit for being two of the best overhead view shooters on the Dreamcast.  I personally prefer Mars Matrix to Gigawing 2, but heck, even that is an improvement over Psikyo's last Dreamcast shooter Cannon Spike... you know, the game you probably finished while your burrito was still in the microwave.  It's more formulaic than Cannon Spike was, but that actually works in its favor... instead of trying to force together two genres, Psikyo spent all of its time designing, then perfecting, a standard overview view shooter.  At its core, Gigawing 2 isn't much different from titles like Raiden, Twin Cobra, and especially Aero Fighters, but this game's got audiovisuals its predecessors couldn't even imagine.  When you fly over one of Gigawing 2's enormous, heavily armed airships (viva la Jules Verne!), you can almost see the texture of the wood grain on the decks... and as my friend noted, the astounding soundtrack makes the game seem more like an RPG than a shooter.  I'd have to agree... Gigawing 2's got all the wonder and beauty of Square's best adventure games, not to mention much more exciting battles!

Mars Matrix, on the other hand, is hard-edged, garish, and well, let me put it to you straight... ugly.  Instead of gorgeous, sharply defined polygons, Mars Matrix has sprites... poorly rendered, blandly colored sprites.  It doesn't look any worse than your average shooter on the Playstation or Saturn, but that's the problem... it looks average and dated in comparison to Gigawing 2.  However, it's still the best of the two games, simply because there's more game here.  The levels are longer, the bullet shield (which both games STOLE from Radiant Silvergun... ahem) works better, there are more immediately available weapons, and it's just more fun.  You can't bomb your way out of tight situations like you can in Gigawing 2... if your bullet shield is recharging, you'll have to dodge every one of the dozens, even hundreds of shots thrown at you by both land and air based enemies.  The great thing is that you actually can avoid these swarms of bullets, and the longer you can survive, the more fun the game becomes.  If you can't hold out any longer, you can always rely on your bullet shield, which transforms the shots into beneficial point cubes or acts as a smart bomb if you hold the button for several seconds.  The question is, how should you use it?  You can tap the button, escape the worst of a flood of bullets, and get the bullet shield recharged in a couple of seconds... or you can hold it briefly, suck up as many bullets as you can catch, then let go and load the screen with point cubes... OR hold it down until the smart bomb activates, offering you the most possible protection and possibly eliminating the source of the bullets.  If those options don't put enough pressure on you, try this:  you've got a rapid fire cannon that overwhelms your enemies with weak plasma blasts, and a piercing cannon that fires a powerful bolt of electricity every half second.  You can use one or the other... but never both at once.  What do you do... what do you do?

Here's what I'd do... buy Mars Matrix right now, and if you're hungry for another shooter, try Gigawing 2 later.  Most players will be happy with just one of these overwhelmingly intense games, but if you feel up to it, you can always take two and call your heart specialist in the morning.

Namco (Mass Media)
Classic Collection

You know what's great about this collection? 

No, really, do you?  I couldn't find anything myself.  I was already disappointed with the Playstation games in Namco's Museum series, but the Dreamcast version is just downright awful for a number of reasons.  First, it seems as though "omake" is a foriegn word to Mass Media, the programming team hired to poop out this version of Namco Museum.  Unlike the Playstation games, which all had buildings you could explore chock full of Namco memorabilia, hidden characters, and even slightly different versions of previously available games, Namco Museum offers you nothing at all but the games themselves.  Judging from its lackluster appearance, we were lucky to even get a menu screen.

Does it get any worse than this?  Oh yes, it certainly does.  Since the Namco Museum discs for the Playstation have been out for years, and several are next to impossible to find, you'd think Namco would show a little decency and include all, or at least most, of the games on all five Museum discs.  Wrong!  Instead, you're stuck with six of Namco's most bland games, many of which you've probably played to death well before the Dreamcast was even released.  Whee, Ms. Pac-Man, Dig Dug, and Galaga.  Again.

But wait, there's more (disappointment)!  It would be bad enough if Namco had thrown Dreamcast owners a bone, but this isn't even a real bone... it's one of those stale dog treats disguised as one.  The two Pac-Man games on the collection, as was the case with Namco's previous Museum discs, aren't perfect emulations of the arcade games.  Hell, they're not even close!  The graphics are absolutely awful, with an idiotic border drawn around the less than accurate playfield and characters, and both the gameplay and sound effects aren't accurate either.  Namco's "emulation" as a whole is so bad that hobbyist programmers have whipped up their OWN Dreamcast Pac-Man emulator just to show Namco how it's done.  That wouldn't be quite so pathetic if Namco hadn't created the FUCKING PAC-MAN SERIES IN THE FIRST PLACE!!!

Okay, Jess... take a few deep breaths... there, I'm feeling a little better.  Perhaps Namco thought it was doing Dreamcast owners a favor by releasing this, but it's awfully damned hard to appreciate a collection that was so obviously pasted together, even if the games included were some of the best ever created.  Shame on you, Namco, for being so lazy, and shame on you too, Mass Media, for taking part in the desecration of classics like Galaga and Pac-Man.


Writing this review is gonna be incredibly frustrating, because the Rival Schools series has always filled me with mixed, even conflicting feelings that don't go too well together in print.  I'd love to praise the games for having more of that wacky Japanese flavor and standard Street Fighter style gameplay than any other polygonal fighting game, but Rival Schools has so many weird, deeply annoying flaws that I can't enjoy the series as much as I'd like.

Project Justice only thickens the line between the good and the bad in Rival Schools... on one hand, it looks great (but if you REALLY want to get your eyes bulging, try comparing it to the original on the Playstation), some of the new characters are brilliant, and there's much more involvement between team members.  On the other hand, many of the rather strange play mechanics in Rival Schools haven't been changed, and some of Project Justice's new features just make things worse.  In addition to the stiff chain combos, the jumps with barely any horizontal movement, and the ability to cancel projectiles with punches (?!?), the team up attacks that were so hard to successfully perform in the first game can now be countered by your opponent's teammates.  What the hell is the point to this, anyways?  I mean, the team up attacks had to be performed RIGHT NEXT to the opponent as it was, and even then they'd only hit them if they were in the middle of an attack.  Now, if the other player, or worse yet, the computer, doesn't want you to finish the attack, they can challenge one of your other characters to a brief showdown which could possibly (probably) ruin your team up attack and throw two levels of your super meter right in the garbage.  The player that performs this counter always has the upper hand, because they use only one level of super energy to practically guarantee that their opponent's team up attack will be cancelled.  Fortunately, there's a super team attack that can't be countered and which does hefty damage if it lands, but it saps an enormous five levels of super meter, making you helpless in the next round.  And if this attack misses, hoo boy, you'll REALLY be kicking yourself then... if the opponent doesn't do it for you.

I guess, even after all that complaining, I have to recommend Project Justice, because it's only $20, and just about any Capcom fighting game for the Dreamcast is worth that price (except maybe that crummy looking Heavy Metal game that's coming out soon).  However, I have this funny feeling that the game won't spend too much time spinning in my Dreamcast a few days after I buy it.

Sega (Sonic Team)

Game companies often get bashed for releasing updates to their products with only a few minor changes, but I've noticed over the years that these additions add a lot more to the games than you would think.  For instance, I never liked the original Street Fighter II, but the few things that were added to the Championship Edition- new colors, new attacks, and the ability to use the bosses- helped get me interested in the Street Fighter series.

Samba de Amigo 2000 is another game that proves little things really do mean a lot.  There are only three major differences between this and the previous Samba de Amigo, but the first difference alone is enough to justify this new edition of the game.  Samba 2000's hustle mode gives you more variety and a great new technique for your maracas... now, instead of just shaking and posing with them, you can swing them back and forth in time with the music.  You'll eventually start swinging the rest of your body along with the maracas, and as a result, the game feels even more like an exciting Latin dance party than before.

The two other additions to the Samba de Amigo series aren't as important, but what the heck... as long as Sonic Team was updating the game, they might as well throw in some new songs and another character.  The new music didn't interest me much, I have to admit, and some of it just didn't fit.  It's insane that the theme from Rocky and S.O.S. (from the pseudo-Hindu band Dr. Bombay) are in here while not ONE song from Santana, the most popular Latin rock group EVER, is available for your shaking enjoyment.

On the other hand, I really like Amiga.  She's a much better match for the game's title character than Linda, that butterfly stripper from the original.  She's also more reserved than her somewhat demented male counterpart, although she can still play a mean pair of maracas... just like Amigo, she nearly crushes her eyeballs in a painful looking squint when she really gets going!

I couldn't complain too much about the original Samba de Amigo, and it's just as hard to find fault with this one.  However, one thing that is irritating about Samba 2000 is the heavily stylized font they used for the Japanese text, making it tough to select options and game modes.  Even if you can read Japanese, you won't be able to read this.  Worse yet, since Sega won't release this in the United States (who can blame them?  They lost a lot of money on both the first Samba and Space Channel 5), there will never be a way around this.  Also, if you haven't spent muy dinero on the maracas controllers, you'll want to forget about this (and the first game) completely.  Trying to play Samba de Amigo with a standard Dreamcast controller is almost as fun as Ned Flanders' idea of nachos (brush up on your Simpsons trivia if you don't know what I'm talking about).

However, if you have the maracas, you'll never fully enjoy them without a copy of Samba 2000.  The new features in this game may only add a cherry on the top of the original Samba de Amigo, but man, what a sweet, savory cherry it is!


I've gotta be honest... I'm a little surprised Konami made another light gun game after the embarassing Lethal Enforcers.  I played this again just recently after years of avoiding it, and frankly, it'd be tough to identify this clumsily done digitized shooting gallery as a Konami product if it hadn't been for the company's trademark background music.

Fortunately, Konami's new light gun game, Silent Scope, has two things going for it... one, it doesn't rely on the digitized graphics that were popular (for some strange reason) in the early 1990's.  Thanks to the more recent polygonal graphics fad, the playfields in Silent Scope are much more realistic and convincing... even breathtaking, in the case of the towering skyscrapers in the first round.  The characters benefit from this as well... you'll notice that the enemies in the game act more like people than knife-wielding cardboard cutouts, doing their evil business without even noticing you.

That's the second thing in Silent Scope's favor... it's much more original than your typical light gun game, which overwhelms you with dozens of well armed bad guys.  Instead, you're a sniper who has to locate and pick off terrorists as they sneak around in a distant location.  Your targets are both far away and pretty well hidden, so you'll need to use your own eyesight to find them and the scope on your gun to make sure they're villains.  It's kind of like a much more intense and violent version of Where's Waldo... if you don't find and eliminate all of the enemies in the time you're given, they'll get away, or even worse, notice you and try to take YOU out!

The Dreamcast version of Silent Scope is a great port of the arcade original, and the arcade game's rifle scope (complete with a tiny monitor built inside) isn't missed at all thanks to a picture in picture view that both lets you clearly see the enemies and makes the attractive graphics look even better.  Unfortunately, the one thing that brings this translation down is the fact that the game doesn't support light guns.  I'm sure Konami has a million reasons for this (Lieberman, the lack of a first party light gun, no convenient way to turn on and off the scope, blah blah blah), but I'm not accepting any of them, especially since Silent Scope is a real bitch to play with a Dreamcast joypad.  You'll be forced to use the way too slow thumbpad to position your crosshairs on an enemy even though you don't have the time to do it, because the D-pad is much too fast and will almost always make you zip right past the bad guys.  Besides, let's face it... what kind of satisfaction are you going to get from shooting people- even Eminem, who's in the training mode- with a fricking joypad?  Perhaps saying this makes me some kind of ogre, but it's true... c'mon, you're even thinking it yourself.  If you're going to blast virtual terrorists, you want to do it with some rough approximation of a gun.

Unlike some people (cough- NAMCO- cough), Konami spent a lot of time with this game, trying to make it as close to the arcade original as possible.  Unfortunately, they didn't go all the way and include the light gun support a game like Silent Scope demands, meaning that it probably won't make much noise in the average Dreamcast owner's game collection.

Fighter/Profanity Generator

I don't have much faith in science, or progress, or anything else, really, but I did hope that Capcom could take the Spawn comic license and turn it into an enjoyable game.  My faith grew when I heard Capcom's Spawn game would be similar to the Power Stone series, and because of this I was still willing to try it after everyone else warned me that it wasn't anything special.

I suppose my faith in Capcom was partially justified... their Spawn game is better than Acclaim's blandola side-scrolling beat 'em up for the Super NES, and the more recent (and much worse) Playstation game, which at best illustrated to Sony that forcing their licensees to make 3D games wasn't such a good idea.  Spawn on the Dreamcast even seems like fun... at first, anyway.  The graphics, particularly the characters, are beautiful, with more vibrant color than you'd expect from a game based on a gritty, violent comic.  Also, the gameplay is nice and simple, just as it should be in a fast paced action game.  There's none of this turn-walk-turn crap we've seen in Capcom's other 3D games, and there's even a camera button and radar that keeps the enemies out of your blind spots and within firing range.

However, my interest in the game started to drain away when I noticed that Spawn, as professionally designed as it is, has serious, and seriously obnoxious, flaws.  The first is that, like Cannon Spike, Capcom tried to fuse together two genres that conflict with one another.  The game takes heavy inspiration from first-person shooters like Quake as well as the Power Stone games.  This means that you're automatically equipped with a gun, rather than being forced to locate weapons to have an advantage over opponents.  I wanted to throw some punches around when I first played the game, but I was advised against it because, naturally, a machine gun at long range does a lot more damage and keeps you a lot safer than a hand delivered blow to the stomach.  There's no incentive whatsoever to fight opponents hand to hand... not while you're in close, not while you're reloading your gun, not to gain valuable items from your enemies... NEVER.

Speaking of reloading your gun, here was another idiotic part of the game... running out of ammo makes you completely helpless.  Instead of defending himself or trying to dodge the merciless attacks of a boss who's not too happy about being used for target practice, your character just stands there reloading while he's being ripped apart... sometimes literally.  In the later rounds, running out of ammo is a guarantee, signed and hand delivered by Todd MacFarlane himself, that you will die.

Oh yeah... a game like Spawn just wouldn't be complete without overpowered bosses.  They're tough to pinpoint and insanely cheap, which is a real bitch because the arcade mode is all about locating and destroying them.  It's almost fun to hunt them down and wipe them out at first... but the difficulty rises to the point where you'll be instantly annihilated the moment the bastards find you.  Seriously, one character slice you in half while rushing at you... you can't get out of the way, you can't counter it, you can't block... basically, if he sees you, you're finished.  The fact that you get infinite lives makes this less obnoxious, but you don't have infinite time, and it's hard to make the most of it when you're resurrected at random starting points nowhere near the asshole who keeps chopping you to bits.

By the time I was through with this game, I was so brimming with anger that I transferred my spare hatred to the comic, for inspiring this garbage, and to Todd MacFarlane, for making both the comic and the game possible.  Maybe that's not fair, but neither is being killing fifteen times in the last seven minutes.  I still have faith in Capcom, but even they can't make a Spawn game that's worth a damn.


tech specs






26MB in total


GD-ROM, 1GB max


Yamaha 32-bit SISP


NEC Power VR2


640x480 (480p)


16.7 million


3 million/second


3 million/second

best games

Crazy Taxi
Grandia II
Marvel vs. Capcom 2
Samba De Amigo
Soul Calibur

worst games

Mortal Kombat Gold
Namco Museum
Test Drive 6
TNN Motorsports Hardcore