I'm absolutely certain that if you grew up in the years 1989-1996, you probably had a champion in terms of video gaming. It was the time of 16-bit, with Sega and their Genesis, released in 1989, versus Nintendo with their Super Nintendo, released in 1991. While I won't deny there were some video games that Sega actually did better, and Nintendo did plenty good on their own, but some video games I wouldn't recommend on either system. In this three part series, I'll look at which games Nintendo and Sega seemed to do better, and one were it seems they both slipped up. Keep in mind I won't introduce any one company exclusive series (Mario, Zelda, Sonic, Ecco). So, here we go with...
Video games where...
...neither the Genesis nor SNES did right
(The pic from the Genesis game is on the left, the one from the SNES game is on the right)
Remember the incredible advertisements on TV for this game? They made it look like the must-have game of 1995. And when it came to EGM's award for the best movie-to-game? True Lies. Worst? Batman Forever. It's a game about the 1995 Warner Brothers movie (where Joel Schumacher took over for Tim Burton) where Batman and his new partner Robin are trying to stop Two-Face and the Riddler from their villainous scheme to drain Gotham City's brainwaves. There is so many problems in this game it may be hard to start. For one thing, the game has a horrible two-player scheme; you and your partner are constantly getting in each other's way. The game plays like a platform game mixed with the Mortal Kombat fighting engine, which is pretty awkward. You'll find yourself stuck and you won't know exactly what you're supposed to do many times. The controls are terrible especially when it comes to using your special moves. Don't bother looking in the game manual; Acclaim stupidly released the game with a manual with the wrong directions. Add to this a constant "HOLD ON" message inbetween the game's 80+ levels (what the hell? This is a cartridge, it has to load?!) and a completely unrewarding ending and Batman Forever is a total mess. The game's no fun; I'd be drawn and quartered if I said otherwise.
Aaahh!! Real Monsters
Remember Nickelodeon in their prime? Well, they licensed out some of their Nicktoons to capitalize on their popularity with varying results. This game is based on the 1994 Nicktoon series of the same name where you play as Ickis, Krumm and Oblina as they cram for their monster midterms. While I admit that I never thought the series itself was that great (kids like cartoons about babies and toys and stuff, but not all kids like monsters--hell, I'm not even really a fan of Klasky-Csupo), this game holds a reputation for being terrible. It's gameplay is like a mix between Animaniacs and the Lost Vikings but it still bites as either. On both systems it's an ugly-looking game with inaccurate weapons, annoying music and above everything else, it's no fun. GamePro once ran an award ceremony for 1995 era video games and the most popular pick for "Worst Game" had gamers screaming "Aaahh!!!"
This is one game that offers what teenagers would what right? Lots of body function humor in a video game! This game lets you play as a janitor who, seeing a crucial part of a Prof. Snotty Ragsdale's machine stolen by the Boogermeister, must don your alter ego disguise as Boogerman and recover it. In another of Interplay's games that get by on novelty, on both systems this game isn't all that much fun. With ultimately unforgiving gameplay (one hit and you're fine, two hits and you die), and the humor that obviously won't appeal to everyone, another main problem is the fact that once the novelty wears off, you'll see this is more of a gimmick than a game.
Leaving my opinions of the Animaniacs series out of this, Animaniacs is another serious disappointment. Konami made two completely different games; the Genesis game is a side-scroller while the SNES game is an adventure title, but they're both pretty bad. The Genesis game is about the Warners trying to collect a bunch of movie props so they can open a memorabilia shop; in the SNES game it's about Thaddeus Plotz recruiting the Warners to recover a potential Academy Award winning script that's been stolen by Pinky and the Brain. First, the Genesis game. It has the mechanics of a good platformer; you have Yakko with his paddle ball to attack, and he's the only character who can move boxes, Wakko with a mallet to attack and it can light fuses, and Dot blows a kiss...which is only occassionally useful. This game is just not much fun and there are too many cheap hits/deaths. The SNES game? No better. As GamePro once said, this isn't a very well planned-out action/adventure game. Actually calling it 'action' is stretching it a little--it's more of an adventure type of game where you merely avoid whatever looks like it can hurt you. You have no weapons, and you just walk around trying to look for missing script pages. Yeah, that's fun. If you want Animaniacs, my advice is stick to the series.
Justice League Task Force
When Sunsoft was in financial trouble due to the fact their video games about DC comic book heroes and Looney Tunes were not selling, Acclaim finally released this one-on-one fighter in 1995. The game is about Darkseid attacking the Earth and it's up to the Justice League to stop him--however, in order to do that, they must fight their way through their clones. One immediate problem was for a game this unoriginal, it was released more than a little too late. The game only gives you nine selectable fighters on both systems--Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, The Flash, Green Arrow, Despero, Cheetah and Darkseid--and by 1995 standards, that's not an awful lot. It has limited character animations, rather static backgrounds that are not interesting to look at, and for the moves? You have moves that are based on the characters' comic book powers, but the game's overly generic nature means you've done all this before. It's criminal how unimaginative this game is.
Mortal Kombat 3
The first round went to the Genesis, second round went to SNES, so which wins Round 3? Neither, I'm afraid. This game involves Shao Kahn having lost in Mortal Kombat 2, and tired of trying to win fairly he cheats by having his shadow priests resurrect his deceased wife, the Queen Sindel, step into the Earth to reclaim her, and then he starts merging Earth with Outworld, all the while stripping the Earth lifeless. Many people thought that by this point, Mortal Kombat was starting to fatigue. One major disappointment is the fact while Sonya and Kano come back, you lose some of the first two games' more interesting characters (Johnny Cage, Raiden, Scorpion, Reptile, Kitana, Mileena and Baraka are all gone), the returning fighters new looks are rather corny (Jax's metal arms, Shang Tsung's fruity attire, Sub-Zero without his mask) and the overly uninteresting new fighters (Sindel and Sheeva? Ugly. Cyrax and Sektor? Lame. Nightwolf? Cheesy. Stryker? He doesn't fit. Kabal? Um...yeah). Another problem is on both games, the blah urban backgrounds are more empty looking than they already did; it looks completely washed out. The Run button? It's an asset (adds some strategy) and a liability (complicates controls more). Another problem these games have is the unpredictable challenge; sometimes the game's CPU is completely passive and mindless, other times it's all over you like the white on rice. This is a completely unsatisfying game with no depth, fun or replayability. The only other thing I'll say is if you intend to play this game on Genesis, you'll better have a 6-button controller 'cause the 3-button controller actually renders it less playable. This is ultimately a dark chapter in MK history.
Double Dragon V: the Shadow Falls
You ever wonder what happened to Billy and Jimmy Lee? Well, if games like this are any indication, they deserve their status in video gaming unemployment. By this time, the brawling/beat 'em up games were starting to lose their luster (I wouldn't mind seeing them come back though), the next logical step was one-on-one fighting. The main problem? It's inspiration isn't the gritty older games but the washed out Double Dragon cartoon show. The controls suck, the fighters are lame, they try to be Street Fighter with un-Mortal Kombat like cartoonish fatalities, insane difficulty, an inappropriate soundtrack, the background audience looks bored, some of the character moves feel totally regurgurated from better games (Sekka has an upside down spin kick exactly like Chun-Li's) and no funfactor. It's okay though--the Dragons would make one more brawler game together with the Battletoads (another series that wasn't selling chiefly because of it's unforgivingly frustrating difficulty) to save what was left of their careers. Double Dragon does for tournament fighters what the Double Dragon movie did for cinema: absolutely nothing!
The Itchy and Scratchy Game
What was the best Simpsons game? Well, either the arcade brawler, Simpsons Hit and Run or maybe Simpsons Road Rage. What was the worst Simpsons game? It's hard to say. On the other hand, before there was Simpsons Wrestling or Simpsons Skateboarding, there was The Itchy and Scratchy Game. Like the famous series within the Simpsons series, it has no serious plot--just mayhem and carnage. In theory, you would think this would be a great game. You could have hours upon hours of fun having Itchy and Scratchy bash the hell out of each other, right? Well, forget it; there are so many things wrong with this game. For one thing, the controls are horribly inaccurate and for this matter, there's also too many traps. It's also terribly repetitive, there's no sign of any of the other Simpsons characters, it's only a one player game, you can't choose to control Scratchy and it just ain't fun. I guess this is why Itchy and Scratchy can't exist without the Simpsons to base them around; the end result is something only Poochie would love.
Bubsy in: Claws Encounters of the Furred Kind/Bubsy 2
"What could possibly go wrong?" Bubsy asks. Don't get me started. Remember back in 1993, when Sonic seemed to be the hottest mascot and everyone wanted to try to make a character similar to him? Yeah, I know that feeling. Accolade introduced Bubsy back in this year hoping to ride the super hip, super cool character with an attitude bandwagon. The first game was about Bubsy trying to take back the world's supply of yarn that was stolen by aliens, and the second game was about Bubsy trying to rescue his nephew and niece from a pig in a museum. The gameplay is like a mix of Mario's meticulous exploration and Sonic's hyperspeed racing but it doesn't do so well as either. One major problem is you just never warm up to Bubsy and his enemies; they are not terribly likable. Bubsy isn't so amusing as he is lame. Due to some poor controls, 16 levels that are longer than they need to be, enemies that are everywhere and demand precise pouncing to defeat and the fact Bubsy's so damn fragile (one hit, be it from a fall, sneeze, water, even running into a wall or rolling down a hill is deadly--damn, what an unforgiving game!) all mean this game is challenging for all the wrong reasons. Oh yeah, and pausing and then hitting Select will reset the game. You could say the point may be moot, as Bubsy has nine starting lives and a wide variety of comical deaths, so seeing him die is actually funny, but that novelty soon wears off and it just becomes a serious annoyance. You don't even get much of an ending either. And the sequel? They tried to fix all these problems but it started to hinder the game and make it less playable than the first game. What a lost cause. The SNES game is better due to sharper graphics and sound, but who cares? As Bubsy himself would say in the first game's final level: "Whoa, are you still playin' this thing?" Take his advice.
What would a worst video games list be without Shaq Fu? I don't think it needs much introduction, but here goes...Shaq is on tour in Tokyo when he suddenly enters a kung fu dojo and is must help rescue a boy named Nezu from an evil mummy named Sett-Ra. One bad enough sign is Genesis game gives 12 playable fighters and the SNES game has only 7? What's the deal, were the SNES designers in a rush to boot this thing out the door? It's got everything else you wouldn't want in a 2D fighter--hit detection sucks, story blows, small character sprites, a manual that doesn't help you and a lot more. Shaq...what happened? I would think you'd be making enough cash through b-ball, Pepsi promotions and other stuff--did EA drive up to your house with a truckload of cash?
I'm sure there are some other game(s) that you would have thought were better as well, but these are some titles that come to my mind. The Genesis did some games better, and the SNES did other games better, but games like these are not recommendable on either system. Thank you and good night. ;)