Easily Sega's most popular game console, the Genesis gave its competitors a run for their money through the early 1990s.




Gee, this was programmed by the creators of the Vectrex? Oh, how the mighty have fallen... I can't believe anyone would have the gall to release something so hideously bad this late in the Genesis' life. It's already got one foot in the grave... is it really necessary to play doctor (Kervorkian) and hasten its demise? Anyways, here's all you need to know about Doom Troopers in one neat little list...

1. It's a shameless merchandising tie-in for a line of toys
2. The programmers thought they'd be considered hip for computer rendering the main characters. Problem is, they forgot that you have to do it WELL to gain any sort of popularity from such a gimmick
3. There's an SNES version of the game, and it's nearly as crappy as this one
4. Konami should sue Playmates for soiling the Contra name with this cheap rip-off
5. Adreneline Entertainment should change its name to fit the pace of the software it designs... my suggestions are Estrogen Entertainment and Benzodopramine Entertainment
6. I mentioned that this game sucks donkey, right?
7. It's a given that the programmers are Buchanan supporters, because they designed Doom Troopers so that the character named Steiner dies every thirty seconds (not that the other one dies any less...)
8. I've seen board games with less flat level design
9. The programmers added pointless amounts of gore for the reason described near the top of the list, but it doesn't hide the fact that the game blows
10. Love that music! Love that music! Love that music! Love that music! Love that music! Love that music! Love that music! Love that music! Love that music! Love that...

And that about does it. If you buy, rent, or even waste your mental capacity thinking about this miserable excuse for a game, you deserve to be cursed with it for the rest of your days. If Adreneline pulls this crap with their Playstation and Saturn releases, you can bet that I'll pay them a little visit and introduce to their programmers a whole new storage space for their Vectrexes...




My first reaction to EWJ2 was kinda underwhelming... it is, after all, the sequel to a title which received a phenomenal amount of hype and deserved very little of it. Say what you will, boys and girls, but Earthworm Jim was, cute animation aside, a mediocre, derivitive title that reeked of the game engine Shiny CEO Dave Perry had already worn thin in four other Genesis carts during his tenure at Virgin Games (those would be Cool Spot, Aladdin, Global Gladiators, and The Jungle Book, in case you're keeping score). Expecting more of the same, I nevertheless bit the bullet and rented EWJ2 anyways, since Genesis games have after all been a rare commodity thanks to the release of the Playstation and Saturn. I was VERY surprised to discover that Earthworm Jim 2 was a giant step up from the previous game in respects to technique. Perhaps EWJ2's originality and level length were the trade-offs for this newfound replayability, but hell, who cares? As far as I'm concerned, there's no game in graphics and sound; just GAMEplay, and Jim 2 has THAT in spades (well, OK... it's more like clubs or diamonds, but in comparison to the first title you could get away with calling it spades. I'm babbling, aren't I? Next paragraph, please...).

Anyways, the plot revolves around the kidnapping of Earthworm Jim's fiancee', the lovely Princess What's Her Name, who as you may recall was flattened by a misguided (literally, since Jim launched it!) bovine at the conclusion of the previous EWJ. For reasons unexplained in the game and instruction manual, What's Her Name survived the incident and was on the verge of marrying our hero... that is, until Psy-Crow managed to abduct her. Pretty cut and dry in comparison to the first game's plot, but hey, it works. Anyways, this gives Jim an excuse to comb the galaxy in search of his purloined life partner, but more importantly, gives us something to do while dodging the glut of 3-D fighters and lame-o Acclaim disasters that have been all too common in the hobby lately.

Anyways, EWJ2 plays more or less like the first game, but the added play mechanics and weaponry is what sets it apart. Jim had a measly two guns in his premiere, but in EWJ2, he's armed to the teeth with four more, including a missile launcher, a very handy three-way finger gun, and a behemoth called a Barnyard Blaster which clears the screen of EVERYTHING, provided you're not hit while Jim struggles with it. But that's not all... no sirree Bob! Jim's also armed with his pocket rocket (in a very cool isometric shooter sequence reminescent of SNK's sleeper hit Viewpoint), an excavation laser, and a marshmellow (yes, really) in three unique rounds which help break up the monotony of simply running from point A to point B (as was often the case in the first Earthworm Jim). Plus, there's a spine-chilling scene that takes place inside a stomach (Jim is for reasons beyond my comprehension disguised as a blind cave salamander here), a hilarious game show with a severed head as the host, and a climactic ending where Jim is pitted against his hated foe Psy-Crow in a deadly foot race to the woman, er, bug he loves.

So, it's established that EWJ2 has variety, and variety is the spice of life. But what about great graphics and tunes? Well, there's more than enough of both to keep even the most jaded of gamers (like myself, although you probably couldn't tell from this review...(:D ) satisfied... the Digicel animation process has been tweaked, and the sprites benefitted greatly from this- they're brighter, crisper, and sharper than the character art from the first game. The backgrounds are similarly inspired: they're as twisted and surreal as those in Earthworm Jim, but some, like the cilia in Villi People, warp and bend, adding depth to what would otherwise be a lot of pretty wallpaper. And we can't forget about the soundtrack! It's composed by Tommy "What, me overrated?" Tallarico, but we'll forgive it for that, since it's much better than the musical scores in Aladdin and Robocop Vs. Terminator. Not many of the tunes are original, but that's OK 'cuz that kind of music fits in well with the bizarre, cartoony theme (if you've ever seen Ren & Stimpy, you'll know what I'm talking about). The voices are sort of a mixed bag, however... they are indeed very clear, which is in itself commendable on the Genesis, but since Doug TenNapel left, they just don't have the same flair... Jim no longer has a Texan accent, and some of his trademark phrases (like "Whee, doggie!" and "Whoa, Nellie!") were left out entirely. There's a really cool Pauly Shore inspired "Tenderrr!" whenever you pick up mealworms, but I wouldn't have sacrificed Jim's original voice for it. It could be worse, though... Shiny could have asked Dan Castellaneta to provide his, er, talents to the project...

Long story short. If you liked Earthworm Jim, you'll love EWJ2. If you hated Earthworm Jim (as I did), you'll probably end up liking EWJ2 anyways, if just for its improved play mechanics and less confusing level design. Either way, it's definately worth renting.




I was never a huge fan of Data East, even when they were considered one of the more important third party game designers for the NES. It was pretty clear even back in the days of Karnov that their games were derivitives of more popular titles with different characters and a couple of new ideas, inserted not to make the gameplay better but just to keep players from realizing how similar a fat Russian guy who breaths fireballs is to a fat Italian guy who tosses them. As time went on, Data East's games became even more parasitic, leeching most of the great ideas in successful titles and adding even more trivial differences, like the ability to dizzy opponents by knocking off a scarf or some other small piece of clothing. That and a cast of, heh heh, "new" characters are the only two differences between Data East's Fighter's History and Capcom's Street Fighter II... and they just weren't enough to keep people interested in the game.

Out of all the clones Data East has made, however, High Seas Havoc has got to be one of the most shameless. Stop me if you've heard this before... actually, don't, because you have. Havoc's a cute animal character who's teamed up with an even more adorable sidekick, Tails... er, Tide, Tide! Sorry. Um, anyways, the dynamic duo eventually stumble upon a beautiful maiden (who looks a whole lot like Amy from the Sonic series), who tells them about a powerful hidden gem. Before they can locate it, however, both the girl and Havoc's baby brother are kidnapped and held hostage by a bloated villain who... well, you see what I'm saying. The only thing missing are robots, which is understandable because the plot (one of the few things that distances High Seas Havoc from ground-bound Sonic) revolves around pirates, and even if robots had been invented around that time, you probably wouldn't want to put them that close to sea water.

The plot isn't the only thing that smells suspiciously like wet hedgehog. In the actual game, Havoc runs through a variety of brightly colored stages, hopping on enemies and picking up valuables that somehow hover off the ground. There are springs- actually trampolines- with both platforms and large quantities of gems hanging above them, and instead of monitors, Havoc can break open treasure chests filled with power-ups. Even when Havoc tries to differentiate himself from Sonic, he winds up stealing ideas from other games, like Guile's flash kick or running down hills littered with timed explosives (if you loved that scene from Strider, you'll get more of it than you can handle in the first round of High Seas Havoc).

So basically, you've played games just like this from the moment you first turned on your Genesis, and because Sonic's been in all kinds of sequels and spinoffs, you've probably played a lot of them. I've gotten a little tired of the Sonic series, so I don't find a clone like High Seas Havoc particularly appetizing. However, if you love side-scrolling mascot games enough to struggle your way through something lousy like, say, Knuckles: Chaotix or Sonic Adventure 2 (you're wrong, it sucks, good night), you'll really enjoy this one. High Seas Havoc is even more beautiful than the Sonic games, with bright colors and lots of shading that make the characters- especially the bosses- worth noticing. Unfortunately, the sound is a bit of a counterweight, with low quality tunes being made worse by rough voice and music samples. Right in the middle is the gameplay, which is solid but frustrating later on. You'll be glad that Havoc doesn't slide around much when he moves, because that precision will be extremely important when you're riding around on the backs of tiny cave ants or jumping from the masts of ships while being pelted with boxes that seem to come out of nowhere. The bosses, probably the most imaginative part of this unimaginative game, are sadly not much fun to fight, because they can not only take a lot of punishment but have overly powerful attacks that make it very risky to hit them... particularly Bernardo and that wolf near the end of the game who reminds me of Sephiroth from Final Fantasy VII.

Even with all these annoyances, I've got to admit that High Seas Havoc is one of the better Sonic clones on the Genesis... in comparison to Socket and Awesome Possum, it glistens like the incredibly powerful gem you're supposed to snatch from the clutches of Dr. Robo- uh, Bernardo the pirate.  However, there are so many legitimate Sonic games for the Genesis that there's really no need for even a well designed knockoff.  If you like this style of gameplay but you're no longer interested in the Sonic character, you might consider High Seas Havoc worth digging up.




Most people who know me also know that I have harbored an incredible hatred for wrestling games since the dawn of my now defunct fanzine. I mean, don't get me wrong; I used to love watching the WWF back in the mid 80's, when the matches were actually somewhat believable (only barely, but I wasn't very old at the time and I to this day catch myself watching entire episodes of the Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, so go fig), idiotic characters like Doink were nowhere to be found, and you could actually watch popular wrestlers like Hulk Hogan every week without having to pay outlandish premiums for the priviledge. But the WWF-licensed Acclaim wrestling games for the NES never accurately captured the atmosphere of the Titan Sports franchise. Remember Wrestlemania? Don't you wish you didn't? FCI and Tecmo both did a better job with their their respective titles, but although WCW Wrestling played a fine game and Tecmo World Wrestling was very innovative, with a commentator and cut-away cinema screens, both retained the mindless 'beat your controller buttons to a pulp' gameplay that typified the genre.

Then came the 16-bit revolution and more of Acclaim's WWF games. In my humble opinion, none of them were very good... even the SNES versions of WWF Super Wrestlemania and Royal Rumble were pretty ugly in comparison to the better games in the then new tourney fighting genre. Other titles, like Sega's Wrestle War and Dreamworks' Jesse the Body Ventura Wrestling, were so bad their respective companies were forced to leave them in Japan or cancel them completely. A ray of hope came with the pre-release hype surrounding SNK's Three Count Bout, the first wrestler to incorporate the play mechanics and graphics of SNK's South Town Series of tourney fighters, but that too fell flat on its face, as the game's difficulty was beyond ridiculous and the control consisted largely of beating your palms against the buttons in the futile hope that you'd escape defeat at the hands of the game's ruthless adversaries.

All this changed with a seemingly unassuming little coin-op by Capcom, one Saturday Night Slammasters. Not one of Capcom's most hyped arcade releases, to be sure, but an incredible leap forward in wrestling game design nevertheless. The graphics were smooth, cleanly drawn, and well detailed, much like those in SF2 and Final Fight, the music fit the mood perfectly, and best of all, the control was fine-tuned to be much more responsive than in previous wrestling titles, and the antics of the 'sport' were reproduced beautifully, with all the cheesy egg-on lines and flamboyant fighters a fan could possibly want. A short time later, the SNES and Genesis got their very own versions of this revolutionary title, thus bringing us to the actual review (about time, eh? :).

I'm not going to spend a lot of time comparing the two versions, although I WILL say that both titles are good. To get the most accurate arcade experience, however, I HIGHLY recommend you pick up the Genesis game. It's superior to the SNES Slammasters in all respects but the admittedly rough vocals and the removal of the four player tag-team match, which was replaced with a 'World Heroes'y death match mode that's sadistic fun but not to the point of being preferable to a four player free-for-all.

I'd rather compare the Genesis game to the coin-op, because frankly, the translation is so close that it's nearly impossible for fans of the arcade game to fault it in any respect. Like the coin-op 'Slammasters', the control is in direct comparison to other wrestlers such a quantum leap forward that a ten is the only logical score I can give the game in that category (that is, if I WERE rating games in seperate categories, which I obviously am not...). Slams and whatnot are performed with SF2-style curls after winning a lock-up with another pugilist, and while the set-up DOES have its faults (the CPU will usually shake you off before the motion can be completed), it's much preferable to the interface in other titles of this type. The graphics are MARVELOUS. Aside from a little color bleed in the brighter reds, they're totally faithful to the coin-op. The characters are well shaded and animated, and there's plenty of cheering fans (including, inexplicably, Chun Li) taking pictures and waving fists from afar. The musical scores deserve special note. Although very digital (better than very twangy, right?), they're wonderful reproductions of the original coin-op tunes, better than the orchestral SNES ones, in fact. Voices are a tad rough, as I'd mentioned before, but the other sound effects are typical of Capcom (shwacks when a blow connects, the SF2 style breakage noise when a player brings a chair down on his hapless foe, etc.) and work well with the theme. finally, There's the humorous pre and pro-match comments and the ideosynchrocies and eccentricacies of each character which, although unrelated to any wrestling franchise, are perfect depictions of the sport (well, the endings are a tad lame and naive', but you may never see them because the game is very long, requiring you to beat each contestant twice to claim and then hold on to the championship).

Bottom line- if you love wrestling games, this is the best one yet. Run out to your local retailer and pick this puppy up NOW (GameFan-ish enough for you?  Well, no, nothing could possibly be that bad.  By the way, Tyrone, what the hell were you thinking, man?!  You left Tips & Tricks to work for the drooling nincompoops at GameFan???  I- oh, forget it.  Just be sure to get all your shots before heading down there... you just know anyone as stupid as the GameFan staff has to be living in their own filth...).




Well, I've waited... and waited... and waited... but finally, after suffering through two of the longest years ever for Genesis owners such as myself, I've finally played a game that makes suffering through the droughts, Sega's criminal neglect, and (worst of all) the 32X all seem worthwhile. I'm talking about Sonic 3-D Blast, an innovative isometric extension of the popular Sonic series with everything that made Donkey Kong Country a smash hit for Nintendo, plus a whole lot more. You know you're in for something special when you first plug in S3DB and are treated to an incredible opener which you'd expect to see on the SegaCD or Saturn. Next comes another surprise- a full-motion video short starring Sonic and his new friends the Flickies. It's grainy to the point of being blocky, but it is full-screen, and it certainly looks no worse than the footage in the SegaCD debacle Bram Stoker's Dracula.

Of course, none of this would matter if the game itself were poor, and since Sonic 3-D Blast was programmed by a European firm, not the Japanese design team responsible for the first games in the series (a lot like Donkey Kong Country, now that I think about it), this was a genuine concern. True, Traveller's Tales' first Genesis game, Toy Story, was a great visual accomplishment, but its gameplay was even more shallow than Donkey Kong Country's, with few power-ups and a seriously limited title character. Luckily, although S3DB was programmed by Traveller's Tales, Sega of Japan had a great deal of say in how the game was designed, resulting in a unique new Sonic title that (unlike Donkey Kong Country) retains the flavor of previous games in the series.

In fact, Sonic 3-D Blast kind of reminds me of a great Sonic game that never saw the light of day here in the United States, Sonic Arcade. There was so much going for this coin-op- powerful 32-bit hardware, precise trackball control, and three player simultaneous gameplay- that I to this day cannot understand why Sega left the game unreleased. S3DB, it would seem, is Sega's atonement for this grave oversight, as it offers the same perspective and gameplay that made Sonic Arcade (and before that, the Atari classic Marble Madness) so entrancing. There's only one teensy, weensy problem with this... Traveller's Tales didn't bother to make S3DB compatible with Sega's tersely supported Mega Mouse, so you'll have to own the equally obscure Sega Sports Pad (actually a trackball) to play the game as it was intended. And to think mine is broken... <sigh>

Not that Sonic controls poorly with a joypad... it's a little odd that, when reversing directions, Sonic does a U-turn before actually walking in the new direction, but otherwise, I've found the control in S3DB to be a vast improvement over other games with isometric perspectives, like Equinox and Landstalker. Visually, S3DB shines... the cleanly rendered sprites are a match for anything you'll find in Donkey Kong Country, and the backgrounds are typical Sonic, with the high-tech look and attention to detail you've come to expect from the series. The downside here is the tiled ground, which isn't really much of an improvement over what you'd find in Marble Madness. The sound, like the graphics, is textbook Sonic... there are plenty of quirky and somewhat repetitive tunes to go around (including a few that were lifted directly from other Sonic games), and the sound effects are just as you remember them- pleasant enough if not entirely realistic.

In short, Sonic 3-D Blast's only major shortcoming is the fact that Sega didn't release it in time to upstage Donkey Kong Country. If they had, there's a good chance that the Genesis would have been much better off today, but having been released now, in conjunction with a Saturn version, I don't think S3DB will help the system much. In any case, Sonic 3-D Blast is a fantastic game and the first legitimate reason to bring your Genesis out of retirement since the release of Vectorman last spring.




The ULTIMATE Fighting Game? So much for truth in advertising. There's nothing ultimate about this hackneyed reissue of Mortal Kombat 3... the new characters are for the most part clones of Sub-Zero and there appear to be no other improvements over the first Genesis version of MK3. In fact, thanks to the omission of Sheeva and the cheat codes from MK3, and the addition of the impossibly hard Endurance Round from the original Mortal Kombat, Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 could actually be considered WORSE than its predecessor. Thank you, Williams, for your latest and not-so-greatest screw job yet.  I hope you don't plan to treat Dreamcast owners like this, although judging from what I saw of Mortal Kombat Gold at this year's E3, I wouldn't bet against it.


tech specs








cart, 40Mb max








61 + 3 transparent





best games

Dragon's Fury
Gunstar Heroes
Road Rash II
Shadow Dancer
Sonic the Hedgehog 2
Street Fighter 2: CE
Streets of Rage 2

worst games

Action 52
Awesome Possum
Batman Returns
Beast Wrestler
Chase HQ II
Dark Castle
Dragon's Revenge
Sega Arcade Classics
Time Killers