Today in Retro Gaming – Criticom (PS1)

Criticom

Today in retro gaming, we acknowledge the release of Kronos Digital’s not-so-gripping fighting game of not-so-epic proportions with an ad more exciting than the game it advertises.  How does this sort of thing keep happening?

The post-16-bit generation burst onto the scene ferociously, with Sony’s Playstation throwing down the gauntlet as the outsider third-party taking on all comers in a duel to the death.  By this time the gaming world was more open.  Nintendo’s policy of not allowing third-party developers to make games for their competitors had gone the way of the rotary telephone.  Kronos Digital Entertainment, previously known for their forays into the PC market, set their sights on the CD-based system early and, in what would become something of a hallmark for the company, set out to create games that were visually stunning but often lagged in every other area.  Given that Kronos was originally formed to create digital cinematic sequences for other video games, this isn’t surprising.

Criticom’s initial screenshots and production design were greeted with delight, and reviewers of the day were awe-struck by the visuals which led to an extreme over-hyping of the game’s actual quality.  GamePro reviewer Scary Larry scored it 3.75/5, despite observing that the slow gameplay, graphical glitches, and sluggish moves hamper it from achieving true greatness.  (Larry later raved about Star Wars: Masters of Teras Kasi being a phenomenal game despite awful play control, slowdown, and a complete lack of character balance, making it clear his license to review fighting games should have been yanked back in 1996).

In the end, Criticom wound up selling well enough to let Kronos make not one but two godawful sequels before they finally did something right and made Fear Effect.  The fact Kronos redeemed themselves make Criticom slightly easier to swallow, but from this ad you’d expect something along the lines of Tekken or Virtual Fighter 2:

Criticom

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