GRAY AREAS MAGAZINE'S VIDEOGAME REVIEWS ISSUE 8

GRAY AREAS MAGAZINE'S VIDEOGAME REVIEWS - ISSUE 8

3D LEMMINGS (Psygnosis Ltd., PlayStation and PC) Those addictive, maddening little guys are back, this time in 3D, to keep you awake nights and aggravate you until you defeat them. Make no mistake, this is the hardest sequel of them all. I couldn't get past level three or so and Christopher got up to level nine. There are 100 levels in all. This time the Lemmings can turn through 90 degrees. To succeed here you'll have to master different perspectives, sharpen nine skills and have a ton of patience as you look at the screen more than once to decide how to proceed. Excellent challenge and improvement on an already familiar concept. (Netta Gilboa)

BRAINDEAD 13 (ReadySoft Inc., 3DO, PC, Saturn, Jaguar and PlayStation) Superb animation makes you take notice of this cartoon action game. You play Lance, "the world's hippest computer guru," and must battle a crazed client who lives in a castle of disembodied brains. He has helpers, of course, and danger lurks at every corner. It's got laugs, scary parts, and all of the elements of a classic adventure game. If you like the films of animator Ralph Bakshi, you'll be right at home here. The digital sound effects and original score help too, and the number of platforms it's being made available on indicate the support the company has put behind this. Very original, cute and addictive. (Netta Gilboa)

DRUG WARS (American Laser Games, 3DO) Playable with the Gamegun controller, this shooting game allows you to seek revenge on drug traffickers. You begin at the border with small fry and move on to big city organized cartels. If you last long enough without being defeated you get assigned to South America where you must destroy the source of the drugs as well as capture the drug king. Realistic plot and possibly one that parents who hate shooting games will actually approve of. American Laser Games specializes in these shooters and this is one of the best ones they offer. (Netta Gilboa)

FIFA SOCCER 96 (Electronic Arts Sports, PlayStation) If you're willing to devote some serious time to learning all of the controls necessary, this is one of the best soccer games made. For example, all of the players are rendered with SGI's 3-D modeling technology. It has very realistic play, the voice of John Motson calling the plays and over 237 teams in 12 International leagues to choose from. If you play soccer or are just a big fan, this is a game worth grabbing. (Christopher Schanot)

FLIGHTSTICK PRO (CA Products, 3DO) Billed as the "ultimate combat stick," this joystick is a delight to use and lets you play games that the 3DO controllers really were not designed for. There are throttle, trim and fire buttons as well as combat features designed for popular flight simulation games. The 10-foot cable is an ideal length and the company swears its joystick will be 100 times more durable than any competitors. Well worth the money, especially if you have been trying to play joystick games with the standard 3DO controller pad. (Netta Gilboa)

FLIP OUT! (Atari, for Jaguar system) This innovative puzzle game is based on a great tile-flipping festival that you have been invited to participate in by the citizens of the planet. Not only do you have to solve maddening puzzles, but you have to do it while mischievous aliens try hard to confuse you. Features stunning 3-D graphics and lovable aliens. Definitely one of the best games available for the Jaguar. (Christopher Schanot)

FOES OF ALI (Electronic Arts Sports, 3DO) One of the best boxing simulations ever created, this game offers a historical perspective on Muhammad Ali's career as well as utterly realistic 32-bit graphics. You get to fight against nine different opponents whose skills are accurately represented on screen as they performed on the day of their fight with Ali. What I loved most about this game is that when you get punched you can get double, blurred, and partial vision as well as seeing red at times! Pretty impressive for a video game. (Christopher Schanot)

GAME SHARK (InterAct Accessories, Inc., Saturn and PlayStation) This add-on product helps you cheat at games by allowing you to skip levels, jump higher, punch harder or live forever without fear of death. The Shark just plugs in and is usable within a minute by anyone. It comes preloaded with codes for the newest, top games but if you want to get more codes the company charges for a newsletter and for access to codes on the Web page. Still, it works and it allows people to get further than they might without using it. I find it invaluable. If you also like to play games you sometimes do very badly at, this might work well for you too. (Netta Gilboa)

GARGOYLES (Buena Vista Interactive) Amazing graphics as you'd expect from the folks at Disney. In this action game you fight your way through 18 stages by progressing through 24-megs of gameplay. Tackle Rapterbots, Spiderbots and Waspbots. Will you make it to destroy the evil Eye of Odin at the game's end? I sure didn't, but not for lack of trying. Well done even if your strengths lie in puzzle games like mine do. (Netta Gilboa)

GEX (Crystal Dynamics, 3DO, Saturn and PlayStation) I can't rave enough about Gex. He's a friendly lizard you become who jumps, slithers and smacks his tail to get you through many levels and secret places where you score points. This is action play in the style of Sega's Sonic The Hedgehog and Nintendo's Super Mario, but with a totally original, hip and trendy, lizard. Dana Gould provides the voice along with 300 one-liners and sound effects. 450 frames of 3D animation are used and with each release of the game to a new format they tweaked and improved it. The original 3DO version was superb, but the recent PlayStation version is even better in ways I never thought possible. Highly recommended, even if you think Sonic and Super Mario were more than enough. (Netta Gilboa)

GUNSLINGER COLLECTION (American Laser Games, 3DO) This super-value collection contains three games on one disk incuding Crime Patrol, Mad Dog McCree and Mad Dog II: The Lost Gold. All three are action-packed shooting games which will test your reflexes to the maximum. All three games can be used with the 3DO Gamegun controller which will let you get much further into them than if you try to play with the standard 3DO controller. Recommended if you like shooting games, especially if you don't already have one of these. (Christopher Schanot)

KILLER INSTINCT (Nintendo of America, Inc., for Game Boy) Based on the blockbuster arcade game that revolutionized fighting games forever, this GameBoy version won't disappoint. It has nine of the arcade game's fighting characters and the same great game play and plot. It's also compatible with Super Game Boy making for full-color play when at home and near a SNES system. By linking two Game Boys together you can play in head-to-head combat mode. Offers five different difficulty levels, as well as both practice and tournament modes. Thanks to Rare's exceptional Advanced Computer Modeling (ACM), this has the best graphics of just about any Game Boy game as well a whopping value for a list price of $34.95. Highly recommended if fighting's your thing. (Christopher Schanot)

KING'S FIELD (ASCII Entertainment, PlayStation) The manual here runs 28 pages because you'll be deeply involved in lots of fighting, buying and selling, acquiring items and using them, just to name a few, when you play this game. Full of 3D Polygon graphics and 360 degree viewing, you'll cross oceans, see dungeons and castles, climb ancient ruins and more if you manage to complete the game. A new twist on the old gaming theme of epic adventures. (Netta Gilboa)

KRAZY IVAN (Psygnosis Ltd., PlayStation) You're a fully-equipped Russian soldier battling over 30 enemies in landscapes ranging from Siberia to Japan to The Middle East. There's lots of full-motion video, 3D graphics and an option to play with a second player if you each have your own copy and make use of a Link cable. The manual is clear too, for those like me to whom fighting games are not yet second nature. Another winner from the talented crew at Psygnosis. (Netta Gilboa)

THE LAST BOUNTY HUNTER (American Laser Games, 3DO) Set in the Wild West, you play the character of a bounty hunter who is equipped with one of two guns. One is s six-shooter and the other a shotgun. You fight four outlaws during which you face different scenarios and challenges. Because the order in which you decide to fight each outlaw can be chosen by you, each time you play the game it's totally different. This alters play action as well as difficulty levels. Playable alone or with a friend and compatible with the Gamegun for best shooting results. (Netta Gilboa)

NOVASTORM (Psygnosis, Ltd., PlayStation) In this flying game you pilot the Scavenger 4 space fighter. Battling against Scarab X you explore 3D graphics, full-motion video, a rave soundtrack and two CDs worth of action. There are four easy-to-learn, but hard-to-master, levels. Beautiful graphics will help keep you going during the rough spots. This is better than average for its genre. (Netta Gilboa)

PGA TOUR 96 (Electronic Arts Sports, PlayStation) One great thing about EA games is that most of their products allow for more than one player. This is a rarity in early PlayStation games. Whether you're playing this one alone or with friends, and whether you're an amateur or an expert golfer, you'll be impressed with the scenery here as well as the choice of 56 PGA golf pros to play as. This game has two championship courses included with more coming soon and offers four modes of play like Stroke and Tournament. If you like Links, you'll love this. (Christopher Schanot)

PHANTOM 2040 (Viacom New Media, Genesis, SNES and Game Gear) Based on the comic book hero, this action game pits good against evil. Animated by the creator of Aeon Flux, the game has over 100 weapon/item combinations, 60 levels in seven episodic chapters and 20 possible game endings. The Game Gear version has a slightly different plot and less to do as well, but still includes a faithful translation of real characters and places from the TV show. (Netta Gilboa)

POCAHONTAS (Disney Interactive, Genesis) One of the few games aimed at girls, this 32 meg game will delight anyone who has seen the animated film. Players become Pocahontas and must befriend animals and aquire powers in order to advance through 65 puzzles. The graphics are meticulous, including the inclusion of a prologue and three acts to help players follow the storyline of the film. Tying games into hit films is a trend that has became a genre. This game succeeds better than most and even allows you to play to prevent war, not wage one. (Netta Gilboa)

RESIDENT EVIL (Capcom, PlayStation) Combining action, horror, role-playing and strategy, this killer game sets a new standard for the rest to compete with. You can be a male or female character, each of which has a different story line, and your game consists of exploring hundreds of rooms filled with puzzles, mysteries and lots of scary things. There are acid-spitting zombies, giant spiders, mutant dogs, frog-like creatures, mutated snakes, etc. Way better than average concept and design makes Resident Evil an instant contender for one of the best games of the year. (Netta Gilboa)

SIM CITY 2000 (Maxis, Sega Saturn, PlayStation) The ultra popular simulation game has been transported to new platforms. Your challenge is to design your dream city and deal with everything from earthquakes to riots to fires. You start by designing terrain like hills and rivers and later face scenario challenges like the 1991 Oakland, CA fire and unemployment in Flint, MI. Very well thought out and can be saved with a backup cartridge if real life interferes. Recommended for those nights when you want to play a game but think a little too. (Netta Gilboa)

SPACE PIRATES (American Laser Games, 3DO) In this shooting game you face pirates in order to collect energy crystals from them. You need the crystals to get rid of the pirates. Lots of bonus targets, non-stop shooting and an original theme too. This game is greatly aided by the use of the Gamegun accessory which can increase your score many times over. Recommended if you like to ease tension by shooting at your TV set. (Netta Gilboa)

SPECIALIZED CONTROL PAD (Ascii Entertainment Software, Inc., PlayStation) If you own a PlayStation you know they only come with one control pad. Since you need a second one anyway, it pays to look for third-party pads which offer more for the money. This one is about the size of the Sony one but offers two types of turbo switches, slow motion, automatic firing, a seven foot cord and an eight-button layout. The benefits are obvious. Withstands lots of use by different people and is easy to get started using. Highly recommended for better scores. (Netta Gilboa)

SPECIALIZED JOYSTICK (Ascii Entertainment Software, Inc., PlayStation) Larger and more lavish than the controller above is this one which includes an actual joystick that feels and plays like an arcade one. Micro switches give precise movements in full 360 degrees. There are also eight buttons, adjustable turbo switches and slow motion. If you can afford it, you'll make use of both of these controllers, as they are each best suited to different types of games. If you can only afford one, the Specialized Joystick is much bigger and bulkier but it can definitely do more. (Netta Gilboa)

STREET FIGHTER ALPHA (Capcom, Saturn and PlayStation) This fighting game has superb graphics and variable difficulty levels. I was lucky enough to see someone beat it the first time they played it. He said it was awesome and that beating it had been a stroke of good luck. For the rest of us, Capcom offers a strategy guide. The game includes old, familiar characters from another Capcom game, Final Flight. There are also three new characters and a perfect translation from the arcade version. If you like to fight when you play video games, you can't go wrong with this title. (Netta Gilboa)

TOY STORY (Disney Interactive, Genesis and SNES) Considered by many to be the best Genesis game to date, this one even looks good on our portable Nomad! Containing 32 megs and 3-D graphics, this follows the movie's plot and reunites you in multiple scenarios with Woody, Rex, Claw, Buzz, etc. It's very hard which is good as it gives the game life (this one can't be beaten in one sitting), but younger gamers may not be expecting the difficulty level. If you thought 16-bit was dead, be sure to see this one as it breathes new life into both game machines and the industry as a whole. Highly recommended, especially if you saw the movie. (Netta Gilboa)

VIEWPOINT (Electronic Arts, PlayStation) In this visually stunning shoot-'em-up game, you battle against everything from giant bugs to fish to other spaceships while trying to stay alive to get further and see new enemies. It's worth playing this game just to see the enemies and although you get killed quite frequently, the graphics keep you sucked into it. Hard as hell but one of the best in its genre. (Christopher Schanot)

VR STALKER (American Laser Games, 3DO) This is a 360 degree combat jet simulator in which you have been assigned to free the United States from invaders. You have to shoot your way through enemy aircraft, anti-aircraft guns, tanks and just about every other type of warcraft they can throw in front of you. Has fifteen levels, 3-D sound effects and is compatible with Flightstick Pro controller as well. (Christopher Schanot)

WILDSNAKE (Spectrum HoloByte, Super Nintendo) Here's another addictive puzzle game intended for fans of Tetris. This time the theme is snakes and you need to maneuver them so they touch each other. King Cobras appear which devour other snakes and Wild Snakes appear to get rid of all the snakes of one color. Offers four backgrounds, multiple levels, one or two player mode and eight grid shapes to maneuver through. Hopefully this will come out for newer platforms, but if you have a SNES and like puzzles, then you're in luck. (Netta Gilboa)

X-COM: UFO DEFENSE (Microprose, PlayStation) This is an alien vs. humans strategy game so if you are into first-person action and throwing the punches yourself this is not the game for you. However, fans of simulation games and UFOs will delight in this opportunity to plan the defense of the earth from invading aliens. Not only do you get to combat them, you also get to use your scientists to analyze alien artifacts as well as your engineers to steal their technology so you can level out the playing field. Unique. (Christopher Schanot)