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VIDEO GAMES REVIEW / AARON CURTISS : Mission Accomplished : In Jungle Strike for Gameboy, targets are big and clear and the helicopter maneuvers easily.

August 04, 1995|AARON CURTISS | Staff writer Aaron Curtiss reviews video games every other Friday in Valley Life!

NINTENDO GAME BOY

Strike

A few months ago, I reviewed Desert Strike for Game Boy, a great game with a few minor flaws. Apparently I wasn't the only one who noticed the problems because Desert Strike's sequel, Jungle Strike, is nearly perfect.

Jungle Strike for Game Boy is the portable version of the console game and keeps all the good stuff that makes this series of games so much fun. Gen. Kilbaba is dead, but his son has inherited his evil nature and teams up with notorious criminal Carlos Ortega to launch terrorist strikes against the United States.

Desert Strike on Game Boy suffered from blurring during flight, but that problem has been corrected on Jungle Strike. Targets are big and clear, and the Comanche attack helicopter is easy to maneuver.

Add to the faithful Comanche a fleet of new vehicles such as a stealth fighter, an assault motorcycle and a Hovercraft, and Jungle Strike is an entirely new game rather than just a repackaged Desert Strike.

The eight campaigns of Jungle Strike are challenging, but luckily each is followed by a password so players don't have to sweat through completed missions twice.

And maybe it was just me, but it seems that there were fewer fuel drums than in Desert Strike, making the game that much more intense as I watched the fuel gauge drop steadily.

I played on both Game Boy and Game Gear, and decided that although the graphics were better on Game Gear, Jungle Strike was more fun on Game Boy. For players with both machines, that would be my choice.

PLATFORMS: Nintendo Game Boy, Super Nintendo, Sega Game Gear, Sega Genesis

RATING: Very cool, but not quite insane

SEGA SATURN

Panzer Dragoon

So, now that you've dropped $400 on Saturn and polished off the Virtua Fighter pack-in, what next? I recommend Panzer Dragoon, by far the best of the initial launch titles for Saturn and, quite possibly, the most beautiful video game I have ever seen.

At its heart, Panzer Dragoon is a fairly standard shoot-'em-up game, but its haunting music, fluid playability and elegant graphics make it anything but standard. If Sega can sustain this caliber of game over the long haul, Saturn will no doubt be the machine to beat.

The story takes place thousands of years in the future, long after we humans have blown ourselves nearly into extinction. In this desolate world, populated by a range of beautiful and bizarre creatures, a surviving tribe of humans stumbles onto an arsenal of ancient weapons and uses them to take over.

Players assume the role of a young hunter who takes on the mission of a slain Sky Rider. With the fallen Sky Rider's blue dragon, you take off in search of the tower--blasting everything that gets in your way.

So maybe the story is less than original. But who cares?

The dragon's flight is smooth and responsive. Controls are simple and logical. Most amazing are the perspective changes that can be made on the fly, allowing players a full, 360-degree view of the action.

There is almost nothing in this game to find fault with.

This kind of gaming experience might give pause to those who claim that the PC will wipe out the market for game machines. I have yet to see a PC run anything close to Panzer Dragoon.

PLATFORM: Sega Saturn

RATING: Insane

ATARI JAGUAR

Cannon Fodder

War in real life is abhorrent, but it is nonetheless a staple of the video game industry. And why not? The elements are all there: strategy, quick reflexes and quick wits.

Cannon Fodder for Atari Jaguar is an intense foray onto the video battlefield. The game puts you in command of small units charged with a variety of seek-and-destroy missions in a range of environments--all hostile.

Along the way, your soldiers pick up grenades and bazookas, and can even hijack tanks, jeeps and snowmobiles. Staying alive requires a fair amount of cunning and a pretty good aim.

But although Atari urges us to "do the math"--a reference to the Jaguar's 64-bit technology--I keep coming up short. I saw nothing on Cannon Fodder that could not be done on 16- or 32-bit machines.

Although the terrain is nicely detailed, the soldiers--both friend and foe--are too small, sometimes making it tough to tell whether the blob on the screen is an enemy or just a rock.

If Atari wants Jaguar to take off, it needs games that stand out. Cannon Fodder is good enough, but in the cutthroat video game business, good enough isn't .

PLATFORM: Atari Jaguar

RATING: Cool

Ratings: Insane, the very best; cool, are, of course, cool; mediocre, games better borrowed than bought; suck, games at the bottom of the barrel.

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