Saturday, May 31, 2008

Day 90: Boom Blox

I would gladly pay twenty, even thirty dollars for Boom Blox. But, since it's a fifty dollar game, and fifty dollars is a lot to spend on what is essentially a carnie game without the slimy barker and the prizes that are impossible to win, I'll just rent it for now. It's not like Steven Spielberg is hurting for the money. And what exactly makes this a "Steven Spielberg Game"? Did he just throw a bunch of money at it to make it happen or what?

The premise is incredibly simple. Throw baseballs at stuff to knock it over. The trick, of course, is to throw a baseball in the right place to create the chain reaction that will make everything fall over. Getting to fake throw with the Wiimote once per level may be "winning," but it doesn't exactly add up to a lot of fun.

That's why I prefer the battle mode. Two players. Two castles made of blocks. Bowling balls. Each player starts with three balls and starts bombarding the other player's castle, earning more balls for doing more damage until someone's fortress is leveled.

The single player puzzles a clever and entertaining, but the real gold here is in the party modes. Invite some friends over and throw balls at each other. Maybe leave the Wii turned off.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Day 89: Action 52 Friday with Haunted Halls

Who you gonna call? Simon Belmont's little sister! Though, judging by the size of her chest, Simon's the only one who still calls her "little."

Hoping to step out from under the shadow of her brother, young Simone enters the Haunted Halls armed with a bag of crosses and her 36 double D's. The crosses are the more effective weapon. I guess breasts, no matter how large and perky, hold no interest for those who've crossed over.

Haunted Halls plays just like Ooze and Alfredo and every other platformer on the Action 52 cartridge. Simone walks to the left, leaps over pits and strikes down her many mindless enemies. Total dullsville, man.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Day 88: Ginormo Sword

Ginormo Sword is either a bad dick joke disguised as a bad video game or a bad video game disguised as a bad dick joke. Either way, once you stop giggling over having the blacksmith increase the length and width of your sword, you'll no doubt quickly become bored with what is otherwise a mediocre slash fest.

Each level is made up of several combat areas and one or two shops where you can upgrade your character's weapon or abilities. Once all of the areas are cleared of monsters, the boss appears. All battles are nothing more than a lot of rapid mouse pounding, making Ginormo Sword just another way to exercise your right arm, but with ugly retro video game graphics (what's with the fuchsia armor?) instead of girls making out.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Day 87: Dr. Mario Online Rx

In the twenty or so years since Tetris first burst onto the scene, it seems like every puzzle game has either undergone a 3-D makeover or accepted a Pokemon takeover in order to stay alive. Not Dr. Mario. Dr. Mario Online Rx is the same pill-tossin', germ-killin' game the original Dr. Mario was back in 1990.

The new WiiWare Dr. Mario features the classic game as well as the flash mode from Dr. Mario 64 and Virus Buster mode, which uses the Wiimote as a pointer and allows up to four players. The major addition in the new version is the ability to play against others online.

As with Mario Kart, players are given a Vs. Ranking based on their performance and paired up with opponents of similar rank. The online battles themselves are a race to clear the level of the same 20 germs. Perhaps in response to complaints about the inability to communicate with other players in Smash Bros. and Mario Kart, Nintendo has included six preset phrases which may be used after a match. These include "good game," "you got me" and the always devastating "neener neener."

Nintendo did the right thing sticking with the classic gameplay. The online play doesn't add much to the experience though. There's very little interaction between the two halves of the screen. The Miis, cute as ever in their little lab coats, just strike poses. Causing extra objects to fall on the opponents screen happens rarely and I've never seen more that two blocks at a time fall. Most of the time I'm only vaguely aware there's even someone else over there.

The best thing about Dr. Mario Online Rx is that it's a ten dollar WiiWare download rather than a fifty dollar game.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Day 86: Thrustburst

Thrustburst takes the basic concept of Cave, guiding a craft through an ever narrowing tunnel, and adds nifty graphics, stuff to shoot and some neat stereo sound effects. I enjoyed it, but your enjoyment will depend a lot on whether you prefer simple, well-executed games or lots of flash and bombast.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Day 85: Spiritual Warfare

Spiritual Warfare could have been a nice little Zelda clone if the makers would have been a little more subtle with their Christian message. Unfortunately, like most Christian entertainment, they choose to hit the audience over the head repeatedly with the baseball bat of enlightenment, lest they miss the point entirely. Case in point: random bible trivia!

Every so often an angel will appear giving you the chance to earn doves, which are currency in Fundamentalist Land, by correctly answering Bible questions. The questions are so easy that I managed to get nearly all of them right despite being able to count the number of church services I've attended in my life without removing my shoes.

The rest of the game is spent hunting for various religious artifacts and blasting sinners with the Fruit of the Spirit to turn them repentant. Exactly what sin this biker is committing remains a mystery to me.

Once blasted, the sinners, easily recognized as being almost everyone but yourself, immediately fall to their knees and begin praying. Some leave money behind. The particularly bad ones release the demon that was possessing them, which you must promptly blast with your Fruit.

I guess the message I'm supposed to take away from Spiritual Warfare is that everyone is a sinner. Most of the "enemies," with the exception of a few knife-wielding thugs, are normal people and none of them, not even the thugs, make any overt attempts at harming the protagonist. They all simply move about in their predetermined patterns until you force the Word down their throats.

As a Zelda-style dungeon crawl, Spiritual Warfare isn't terrible. It would have worked much better as a quest to find lost religious artifacts rather than a crusade to purify every guy who happens to cross your path on the way to work. Too bad the fundamentalist belief that everyone is your enemy got in the way of what otherwise could have been a decent game.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Day 84: Scorching Earth

Scorching Earth combines thinking with destruction, which is a good way to get gamers to think. The goal is to burn every square of land down to ash. It's a lot trickier than it sounds. In fact, each level has only one solution, which makes it exactly the sort of puzzle game I've never much cared for.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Day 83: Monty Mole

My friend, the only confirmed regular reader of this blog, was recently robbed. Burglars broke into his home and stole his Xbox 360, Wii and his girlfriend's jewelery. They also stole his computer. Now, thanks to some selfish teenagers probably upset because their mommies wouldn't buy them 360s of their own, I've been spending the last couple of days fighting the urge to write nasty messages to them through the stolen Wii while blogging to no one but myself. You might argue that a real writer writes for himself, not for his audience, but real writers aren't the ones who get multi-million dollar movie deals.

Since we're on the subject of being violated, let's talk a little about Monty Mole, a game that violated me repeatedly. It violated me visually with its butt ugly graphics. This game is harder to look at than a bearded lady with burn scars and a booger hanging out of her nose. It steadfastly refuses to be any fun at all to play. Everything is stiff and it's impossible to go anywhere without taking some damage. Even the simple act of walking apparently cause poor Monty excruciating pain.

I don't normally condone torture, but I hope that the police find the kids who broke into my friend's house and sit them down in front of this misshapen beast until they repent for every sin they've committed in their short worthless lives.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Day 82: Action 52 Friday with Thrusters

Two weeks ago I made the bold prediction that Thrusters would be a space shooter, and Thrusters is a space shooter. It's probably the best of the Action 52 space shooters I've played so far, but that's like saying herpes is the best STD. It's bad and it's bad for a lot of the same reasons.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Day 81: The Entity

Mistake number one: making a video game based on a movie about a woman repeatedly raped by a ghost in a time networks could barely say the word "rape" on TV without the FCC crashing into their offices like Kool-Aid Man. Mistake number two: removing any connection to the movie except for the use of liquid helium but retaining the name. The only thing that was done right with this game was keeping out of the hands of the public for twenty years.

The goal of The Entity is to move The Entity to the highest plane of existence, which apparently is its reward for raping and torturing a woman. This is done by positioning walls so that The Entity has nowhere to go but up through the opening to the next level. For whatever reason, possibly the lack of hotties in the astral plane, The Entity does not want this to happen and will fight you by continually ramming into the walls making it difficult to position them. This is where the liquid helium comes in. Blasting him with it slows him down enough to get him to the next level.

The Entity provides unique, but ultimately boring and repetitive gameplay, which, more than the ties to a very "adult" movie, may have led to the game's shelving.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Day 80: Wii Fit

Some guy at Target tried to pull me into his scheme to sell Wii Fit online. I think. I guess he could have been stocking up to give them as gifts, but that seems a lot less likely. He approached me at the display and told me the store only allowed the purchase of two games, hen offered me his credit card to use to buy him two more. I declined. Not only do I detest the practice of buying something out from under someone only to sell it to them later at a markup, but I would have been at the two game limit and thus unable to get a copy for myself.

The centerpiece of the Wii Fit package is the Wii Balance Board.

Oops, that's the Atari Joyboard. The centerpiece of Wii Fit is the Wii Balance Board.

Part bathroom scale, part Power Pad, the Balance Board is the large pressure sensitive controller you stand on while making an ass of yourself trying to make your Mii ski through a slalom course. I won't bore you with the details, since plenty of other websites have been doing that since late last year when Wii Fit was first announced.

Wii Fit offers a nice selection of strength and aerobic exercises as well as yoga and balance games and keeps players motivated by offering more games and exercises to unlock as well as letting them set weight loss or maintenance goals.

My major beef with Wii Fit is the heavy emphasis it places on balance, and apparently mine is atrocious. The "Wii Fit Age" is determined entirely by my preformance in two randomly selected balancing activites, paying no attention to my good showings in the strength and aerobic activities.

Wii Fit also allows me to log any activities I do away from the game, turning it into an ninety dollar exercise diary. It's a nice touch, but there doesn't seem to be much point since the hour I spent on my bike this morning, half of that riding into a strong Kansas headwind, counted for nothing towards unlocking any new activities as far as I can tell. Also, I don't enter what I actually did, only that it was light, normal or heavy activity. Some examples of light activity include cooking and laundry. Gardening is a normal activity. I'm not sure where blogging would fall.

Overall I'm pleased with Wii Fit though. It's cheaper and more private than joining a gym and more interactive than Sweatin' to the Oldies. Oh, dude, I gotta go make a Richard Simmons Mii now.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Day 79: Amazing Tater

They say a picture's worth a thousand words, so here's a picture:

If you can get a thousand words out of that, you're a far better bullshit artist than I.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Day 78: Pop Flamer

From the What Were They Smoking? File come Pop Flamer, a game about a masked mouse popping balloons and blasting frogs with a flamethrower. Seriously. I couldn't make up something like that if hot dogs were made of LSD and my name was Takeru Kobayashi.

The developers must have used up everything they had brainstorming the concept, because they failed to make actually playing the game even remotely compelling. I play video games to have fun, not enhance my awareness or any of that other psychedelic mumbo jumbo, alright. If I want my consciousness altered, I'll use Sally-D like all the other kids. Now go back to to your cubicle and don't come back 'til you've got something worth playing.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Day 77: Chromatron

There's something to be said for making an entire video game using just four images and a few lines. That something is "You lazy bastard!" Look, buddy, this isn't 1979. No one wants to play your clever little thinky think game. They want stuff to blow up, so go back to your little nerd cave and come up with some zombies or something to train those lasers on, or better yet, something that hasn't been completely over played over the last three years, like werewolves. There hasn't been a good werewolf movie since Teen Wolf Too, and I can't think of any major werewolf video games offhand.

So here's how it will work. We'll take your lasers and mirrors and use them to set traps for werewolves. I'm not sure it there are any established standards for werewolf bait. Scantily clad women seem to work for most monsters and will boost the game's appeal to pubescent males. Players will have to position mirrors as to create a barrier around the maiden before the werewolf can get to her. This will keep the thinky think aspect and add either a gruesome werewolf feeding or a bloody werewolf death.

All of this, of course, hinges on whether or not werewolves are vulnerable to lasers. I haven't been able to locate any research on the matter, but I suspect a laser would beat any mystical creature any day.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Day 76: Rick Dangerous

Rick Dangerous is an homage (French for cheap knock off) the Indiana Jones. First, Rick has to run from a giant boulder, then he leaps along the roofs of German transport trucks before riding a mine cart and escaping from a zeppelin. OK, you caught me, I made up everything after the boulder, but it could be there. It's the last day of River Festival. Do you think I'm going to spend it inside playing some 25 year old video game? Hell no! I'm gonna go eat funnel cake and watch guys race bath tubs down the river. Peace out!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Day 75: Action 52 Friday with Dam Busters

Last Friday I predicted that Dam Busters would be some sort of shooting game, possibly a clone of the Atari 2600 classic River Raid. Well, there is shooting, but instead of jets, it has beavers.

I think that's a beaver. Beavers are brown and normally associated with dams, although I can't recall ever seeing a beaver wear a red vest (that's more of a raccoon thing). There aren't any dams anyway, so I guess it doesn't matter.

With no dams to bust or defend, I'm not really sure what I'm supposed to be doing. Whatever it is, the odds are certainly stacked against me. While I can only toss tomatoes at my enemies one at a time, I've seen them launch as many as four at once. And while they can go wherever they please, I'm limited to walking on the path. Please note the width of the path in relation to Bucky Beaver up there. Not a lot of room to dodge those incoming tomatoes.

By the way, the name Dam Busters isn't even an original. It was used for a 1984 game based on British bomb attacks on German dams during World War II.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Day 74: The Great Giana Sisters

The Great Giana Sisters is a pretty straightforward Super Mario Bros. clone. So straightforward, in fact, that publisher Rainbow Arts was forced to remove it from shelves under pressure from Nintendo's legal department, leaving those children that didn't snatch it up quickly enough to hate their parents for buying them a stupid computer instead of a Nintendo.

I think that if 12 year old, Commodore 64 owning me had owned The Great Giana Sisters, he would have thought it to be an adequate replacement for Super Mario Bros. All the children at school from Nintendo owning families still would have thought he was a freak and excluded him from their video game conversations, causing him to grow up a social outcast who makes fun of video games (even ones he kind of likes, because that's more entertaining) every day, but at least he would have had something to do when he got home from school.

The Great Giana Sisters goes so far as to copy not only the game play basics but in some cases level maps and the lame boss fights from Super Mario Bros. The giant lobster thing at the end of every third or fourth level will just leave if you jump over him. Also worth noting, taking a hit while powered up does not simply revert you to your non powered form, it kills you. On the upside, you can still skip most of the underground levels by running through the status part of the screen.

It's nice that someone thought of all those poor Nintendoless children out there and tried to help them. Too bad Nintendo had to go a ruin it all by going legal on Rainbow Arts, though not at all surprising given their monopolistic tendencies at the time. I'm surprised they didn't try to sue Atari and Sega, saying that their video game consoles were nothing but copies of the NES. Or sue Commodore and Apple, claiming that the disk drives they used were copies of the Famicom Disk System. Or sue my parents for not buying me a Nintendo Entertainment System.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Day 73: TV Show King

This being the first round of WiiWare releases, and givent he quality of the budget titles released for the Wii to this date, I wasn't sure what to expect from TV Show King. Would I be getting something fun to play with my girlfriend, or would I spend the next few days wishing I'd used those 1,000 Wii Points on Pokemon Puzzle League?

It turns out that TV Show King is a pretty good trivia game. Most of the game is played as a straightforward multiple choice quiz against three opponents, either human or computer controlled. The computer opponents aren't very bright, but they can make up for that with the wheel.

The wheel is what makes TV Show King. After each round, contestants are given the option to spin the wheel for a chance to double their money, swap with another player or possibly lose it all. The smart move would probably be to pass, but the prospect of changing the entire game with a flick of the Wiimote is hard to ignore.

Each game ends with a duel round, with the top two players facing off for a chance to win half of the other's money. Essentially, the first to answer five questions wins the entire game, unless the other player had built up a huge, Ken Jennings-esque lead.

There's a one player trivia mode in which players can try to anwers as many questions in a row without missing, but TV Show King is meant to be played with other humans. The presentation is excellent, capturing the look and feel of a TV game show with the smarmy host, busty assistant and an audience full of Miis that clap for anything. If you like trivia at all, you can't really go wrong with this one.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Day 72: Chew Man Fu

You'd better get down on your knees and thank God or whoever you thank in situations like this for political correctness, because making the protagonist of Chew Man Fu a girl saved you from a lot of bad gay jokes. I'm genuinely surprised by the lack of homosexual overtones. The Japanese as a people are quite fond of gay humor, as evidenced by the game Cho Aniki Kyukyoku Muteki Ginga Saikyo Otoko, which roughly translates to "Series of disturbing images that can never be unseen."

Like all puzzle games, Chew Man Fu starts with a simple premise and rides it all night long like a two dollar hooker. To pass each level, the little girl must move the four colored balls to thir corresponding tiles on the floor. If that sounds stupid easy, that's because it is. There are obstacles like hedgehogs and giant ape men, but those are easily defeated by kicking one of the balls at them. Even the walls can be destroyed by repeatedly kicking balls into them.

For a puzzle game, Chew Man Fu presents no real challenge or addictive gameplay elements, unless kicking balls at turtles gets it done for you, and that can easily be done in the average American back yard for only the price of a ball. Plus, the coal that would have been burned to power your Turbografx and TV (or your computer running and emulator) can then be used to power Al Gore's palatial Tennessee home.

Don't play Chew Man Fu. The earth will thank you.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Day 71: Scrapyard Dog

The Atari 7800, which finished a distant third behind the Nintendo Entertainment System and the Sega Master System, could be an untapped well of lost video game classics. Or, based on what I've seen of it so far, it could be a vast reservoir of garbage thrown at an unsuspecting public as Atari desperately tried to stay relevant.

Fittingly, Scrapyard Dog is garbage. It tries to borrow from the success of Super Mario Bros. in much the same way Captain Marvel tried to borrow from the success of Superman. But while Captain Marvel had a goofy charm that made it a classic in its own right, Scrapyard Dog has a guy with a big nose trying to rescue his dog. Yup, Mario got a princess, this loser got a dog.

Nothing about Scrapyard Dog made me want to keep playing it. It pales in comparison to either of the marquee franchises for the NES and SMS. The graphics are simple and unremarkable. The game play is derivative and indistinguishable. Everything about this game says "My parents got me an Atari instead of a Nintendo and I'm going to hate them forever" in much the same way that pile of unwatchable videocassettes said "My parents got Beta instead of VHS" just a few years earlier.

Sometimes a video game system fails because of bad marketing or poor distribution. And sometimes a video game system fails because its entire library of games was made by a couple of guys in the catering department with a four year old copy of How to Program Video Games In Your Spare Time. The Atari 7800 actually falls into both categories.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Day 70: Ultratron

So impressed was I with Puppy Games' reimagining of Space Invaders that I decided to try their take on Robotron. I did. I was disappointed. Ultratron misses the mark in just about every way imaginable. Yes, you still have to destroy swarms of robots and yes you can still walk in one direction while shooting in another thanks to the keyboard/mouse control combination which works but not as instinctively as the double joystick configuration.

Rather than appear all at once, enemy waves appear a few robots at a time. Even in the higher levels this allows you to stay relatively in control of the situation. In fact, the only times I ever really felt in danger were the times I lost track of the position of my mouse in relation to the screen. Again, this is where dual joystick control wold have come in handy.

The only reason I find myself returning to Ultratron is to make sure I didn't miss something. Is there an option to play with a control pad? Can't find one. Is the human family there and I just didn't recognize them? Doesn't look like it. Like Titan Attacks, Ultratron has a very cool retro look, it just doesn't have cool retro game play to go along with it.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Day 69: Titan Attacks

Forty-one days ago I gave the creator of Space Battle flack for that uninspired name and the uninspired Space Invaders clone saddled with that uninspired name. Titan Attacks is an inspired Space Invaders clone. Just look at it. It's gorgeous.

Okay, so Titan Attacks has the advantage of running on modern hardware instead of the Atari 2600. Just because it's on new hardware doesn't automatically make it good. Ever heard of Ninjabread Man? My point.

Titan Attacks is good because it stays faithful to the original concept and cranks it up. The invaders are faster and more vicious. Their attacks are more varied. Plus, just like in the mega popular and not even slightly over played Guitar Hero series, you can buy stuff.

When it comes to video games, the simplest concepts are usually the best. Titan Attacks goes a long way in proving that argument.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Day 68: Action 52 Friday with Operation Full Moon

I'm not sure how much more Action 52 I can take. There are only so many way to say a game is bad without resorting to simply combining the word "suck" with the words "donkey" and "balls," and I'd rather not waste the good ones on a game like Operation Full Moon which is more generic than it is truly atrocious. It has all the same bland sprites, repetitive game play and bad collision detection you would expect in an Action 52 offering, this time in the form of a vertically scrolling shooter. In fact, just like Star Evil, Operation Full Moon likes to begin levels with your vehicle directly behind some sort of obstacle.

Based on my experiences so far, I'm going to attempt to predict what the next five games on the Action 52 cartridge will be.

Game 11 - Dam Busters: Even though I want to doubt there would be two in a row, this one's probably some kind of shooter, maybe a River Raid rip off.

Game 12 - Thrusters: Well, clearly something rocket powered is involved. This one's probably another shooter, set in space, although I'm holding out hope for a Lunar Lander clone.

Game 13 - Haunted Hill: Generic Castlevania. There will be some zombies, but probably no skeletons since those are harder to draw.

Game 14 - Chill Out: A platform game on ice. Possibly with eskimos and/or penguins.

Game 15 - Sharks: A shooter underwater. Kill the sharks before they kill you.

I'm also going to try to refrain from using the words "generic" and rip-off" any more when writing about the Action 52 games, which will easily be one of the most difficult things I've ever done.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Day 67: Dino Run

Dino Run is about 2 things: dinosaurs and running. If you don't like dinosaurs and running, you probably won't like Dino Run, unless you like eating small, defenseless mammals enough to put up with all the dinosaurs and running.

The simple premise, guide your yellow dino through seven increasingly apocalyptic levels before the Wall of Doom swallows him up, allows the game to move at a frantic pace. And the low-fi graphics manage to be cute even as the world is falling apart.

Dino Run is an easy to grasp, fun to play game that reminds of what video games are supposed to be.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Day 66: Summer Sports - Paradise Island

Dear Digital Embryo,

I have Wii Sports. It came with my Wii. Therefore, I have no need for your half assed collection of quote-unquote sports. Thank you anyway.

Unless you're 70 or older, I don't imagine playing croquet, lawn darts and horseshoes is your idea of paradise. Basketball does appear on the menu. Twice. But there is no actual basketball. Not even 21. Just horse, around the world and shot clock, which can all be played in two different locations. Volleyball, badminton and mini golf round out the collection, with only mini golf even approaching playability.

The motion controls are unresponsive, the animation is stiff and the menus are prettier than the actual games. Each game must be played by four people, so unless you have three friends you don't mind losing, most of the game is spent watching three computer controlled players, slowing down an already slow experience.

If this is a party game, I recommend saving it for the end of the party, when you want everyone to go home so you can go to bed.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Day 65: The Heist

It takes a special talent to make a game about stealing priceless art from a museum full of high tech security devices painfully boring. Mike Livesay has that talent and he has it in spades. His creation's dullness is so complete and overwhelming that it is almost impressive. I fought off sleep in order to get to the next screen and see how Mr. Livesay could top himself and he rarely disappointed.

How many copies of the same painting does a museum really need? Why are there holes in the floor? And are those toasters in the middle of the screen supposed to be a threat? An yeah, I know it's 1983 and all, but who wears white pants and a lime green muscle shirt when they're robbing a museum? Is he going to use the security video as an audition tape for a role on Miami Vice?

See? Look at this. This game is so bland I have to resort to making fun of the protagonist's outfit to have anything at all to write. I'd better stop now, before I sink into puns.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Day 64: The Tick

How many ninjas can you punch before your hand cramps? If you don't know, play The Tick to find out. Strangely, despite being released after the mainstream success of the animated series, the video game is based entirely on the comic book series. What was a hilarious commentary on America's obsession with all things ninja in 1988 is badly dated in 1994 and looks like a cop out by the programmers who were able to populate an entire video game by recoloring one sprite.

There's no reason to mince words here. This game is a complete waste of the character. It's nothing but another mindless beat 'em up. In fact, the only remotely imaginative thing in this game, the ability to occasionally team up and fight back to back with Oedipus and Paul the Samurai (characters most kids playing this game, having only watched the cartoon, would have never seen before) just makes the game more difficult. Moving the large, slow, two headed beast of justice while fighting small, fast ninjas is a pain.

Almost no effort was put into the sprites besides The Tick and the ninjas. Oedipus and Paul are sloppily drawn and even more sloppily animated. Enemies like Sagin, the Red Scare and Clark Oppenheimer (again, characters most playing would be unfamiliar with) look like they were dropped in at the last minute when someone told the programmers there needed to be more to the game than punching ninjas. The Human Bullet (finally, someone from the cartoon) is so badly rendered that he appeared appeared four times before I realized what he was.

The Tick the video game is just bad. It's ugly and repetitive and, worst of all, it's not even a little but funny. Also, but focusing on the comic book for source material, it alienated probably 90% of its audience, who were looking for a game with Dinosaur Neil, El Seed and Thrakkorzog but instead got Running Guy.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Day 63: Meet In

It's been so long since the last time I completed a game that I've forgotten what it feels like. Now that completing a game is more than simply making it to the end. At best, that's the halfway point. New games make me go back and find things I missed or play levels I skipped or, worst of all, make me play the whole game over again to see the "real ending." Princess Peach never seemed to mind before when I would use warps to get to her faster. Seeing the credits roll at the end of a game used to fill me with a sense of accomplishment. Now it makes me dread what there might be left to do.

Meet In is a puzzle game with just one puzzle to solve. Get all four family members to the same central location. Once that happens you're finished forever, if you so choose. There's no need to come back to find some card that can be traded in for a hidden stage that will give you the chance to unlock and extra outfit or some other attempt to artificially create replay value. Finally, I can feel like I've accomplished something.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Day 62: Konami Krazy Racers

Game Title: Konami Krazy (sic) Racers
Platform: Game Boy Advance
Genre: Kart racer
Publisher: Konami (duh!)
Year of Release: 2001

Franchise(s) blatantly stolen from (please mark all that apply)
[ ] Super Mario Bros.
[ ] Mega Man
[ ] Final Fantasy
[ ] Street Fighter
[ ] Grand Theft Auto
[ ] Dance Dance Revolution
[X] Other (please specify): Mario Kart

Time (in hours) annoying theme song played in your head: 2.5

Other comments: An above average kart racer that adds nothing new to the genre. Worth checking out if you happen across it, but not anything to go out of your way to find if you already own any of the Mario Kart series.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Day 61: Action 52 Friday with Alfredo

I had a strange dream last night. Aerosmith was preforming at my house, but for some reason Steven Tyler wouldn't sing. He just stood there while the bassist sang instead. After the set, they all decided they wanted some popcorn. I went to the kitchen to make some but my popcorn popper kept shooting out ice instead of popcorn, which was somehow the fault of one of my coworkers.

I wanted to tell you about my dream because I would rather do that than once again describe the incredible amounts of badness stuffed into one tiny Action 52 game.

Alfred, presumably, is the name of the little chef who marches through his infinitely large kitchen whacking giant noodly things with his giant spoon. Occasionally Alfredo has to leap over a very small hole in the floor. The same scenery loops endlessly in the background while noodly things appear at pretty regular intervals (and occasionally disappear due to what I'm going to say is a programming glitch because I'm not feeling creative enough this morning to create another reason).

The most interesting thing about Alfredo is that rather than the more standard three or five lives, it gives you two. How sad is it that the most noteworthy thing about a game is the number of lives it gives you?

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Day 60: Kofi - Yellow Kopter

Anyone who puts in the time necessary to make a game for a 25 year old system that even in its heyday was overshadowed by its predecessor must have a great love for what he does. Just for today, let's say that, and not the end result, is what really matters.

That way I can spend more time working on some other things I need to get done and less time writing about a goofy cartoon helicopter saving a bunch of forest creatures from an angry cloud.