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Picks and Pans Main: Junior

updated 01/28/1991 at 01:00 AM EST

originally published 01/28/1991 01:00AM

Games

MICKEY MOUSE STARRING IN THE CASTLE OF ILLUSION

Where is that Pluto when you need him? One of the few drawbacks of this Genesis video game is that it can be played by only one player, so the original Mouseketeer is always on his own. Otherwise this is an ideal quest-oriented game for younger children, with Mickey maneuvering past bats, robots, skeleton fish, clowns, toy soldiers and lots of other obstacles en route to saving Minnie, who has been kidnapped by the witch Mizrabel. The backgrounds and animation are full of colorful, artsy flourishes, down to Mickey's Astaire-like grace when he lands after jumping. Five levels offer enough challenges to keep things satisfying, and parents can turn the music down if it reminds them too much of a calliope. (Sega, $49.95)

(Thad Novak, 11: It's a lot of fun and the graphics are very, very interesting.)

JOE MONTANA FOOTBALL

True, Montana loses one once every blue moon or so. But he picked another winner in endorsing this lively, full-of-surprises electronic game.

There's a version for computers and one for the Sega Genesis video game system.

The IBM/Apple game is much more complicated. (It requires a fairly sophisticated computer: 640K RAM.) Basic play is the same in both versions, with the offense calling a play, then controlling either the quarterback or another skill-position player while the defense can control any of its 11 players. Both provide a split-screen effect on pass plays that helps the aim as well as offering a pleasing graphic. An image of Montana himself pops up to offer congratulations on particularly good plays.

But the computer game, which uses a cumbersome four floppy disks if not loaded onto a hard disk, also offers instant replays and allows the "coach" to draw his own plays in a process that is laborious but will please the technicians among us. And the computer version includes 28 teams representing all NFL cities, while the Genesis game has only 16 teams. (These are generic teams. The newest Nintendo football game, NES Play Action Football, includes real NFL players, but its graphics and variety can't match the Montana game.)

The Genesis version plays smoothly, with little preparation. It's just the thing to work off pre-Super Bowl anxiety—or postgame frustrations. (Sega, both versions, $49.95)

(T.N. on the Genesis game: "incredible! The graphics are excellent, and though the controls are confusing at first, once you get the hang of it, it's easy, especially passing.")

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