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VALLEY WEEKEND : VIDEO GAMES : Mice--and Players--Say Gracias for Speedy : Los Gatos Bandidos for Super Nintendo is a first-rate, amusing adventure with the cartoon mouse.

November 02, 1995|AARON CURTISS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

For the second time in six months, Acclaim Entertainment has taken Warner Bros. cartoon characters and turned out a pretty good game. Over the summer, it was Looney Tunes B-Ball. This month it's Speedy Gonzalez: Los Gatos Bandidos for Super Nintendo.

A fairly standard side-scroller a la Mario or Sonic, Speedy Gonzalez excels in its execution. The backgrounds are detailed and big. Speedy himself looks like he stepped right off an animation cel. And controls and sound are all first-rate.

I spent several hours playing one night and was particularly amused by the expressions of gratitude from mice Speedy saves along the way. When cages are lifted off Speedy's captive compadres, they squeak out a heartfelt gracias.

And gracias to Acclaim for a great game.

*

A New Hope: It's not that I don't like Atari's Jaguar. It's just that I can count on one hand the cool games the system has to offer. It seems like such a waste. Here Atari is with what could potentially be one of the hottest systems on the market and no one is designing games worth a darn.

Let's hope Atari does better with the Jaguar CD peripheral. At $150, the CD player plugs into the main Jaguar unit and has the potential to deliver some pretty good games.

The pack-in, Blue Lightning, is a pretty poor flight-sim shooter that hardly justifies the time spent playing. Its cinema sequences, however, show off just what Jag's double-speed CD can do.

If Blue Lightning is just a start, the Jaguar CD has promise. If it's the best Atari has to offer then it's just a matter of time before Jaguar bites the dust once and for all.

*

Sega Strikes Back: Who says global currency markets are boring? If you're in the market for a next-generation game machine, you can thank a stronger dollar against the Japanese yen for cutting the price of Sega's Saturn by $100.

After five months as the priciest next-generation system on the shelves, Saturn is now $300--right in line with Sony's PlayStation, Real's 3DO and Atari's Jaguar CD unit.

The $300 buys the 32-bit Saturn unit and one controller, but no game. For an extra $50, the unit comes packaged with Virtua Fighter Remix. Sega swears the price cut is because of a stronger dollar and improved production techniques.

But one has to wonder whether Sega would have dropped the price if every other next-generation machine on the market was not $100 cheaper than Saturn. Since May, Sega claims to have sold 120,000 units--about what Sony claims to have sold since September.

Sega's big mistake was releasing the Saturn too early with only a bunch of Japanese games. American gamers demand better and Saturn's reputation may be forever tarnished by its initial lineup.

* Staff writer Aaron Curtiss reviews video games regularly. To comment on a column or to suggest games for review, send letters to The Times, 20000 Prairie St., Chatsworth, CA 91311. Or send e-mail to Aaron.Curtiss@latimes.com.

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