Thursday, May 18, 2006

Quick Bytes 5/14


Not every game that comes out in a given month deserves a full-bodied review. Sometimes they aren't that good. Sometimes there just isn't that much to say. It was with that in mind that I started doing Quick Bytes -- short reviews of new games that run occasionally in the paper (i.e. when there's space. These ran last Sunday.

"Sonic Riders"
Sega, for PlayStation 2, Xbox and GameCube
rated E for Everyone (comic mischief, mild cartoon violence), $39.99.

You know a once-beloved franchise has been in the doldrums when a mediocre title like this seems like a return to form.

"Sonic Riders" is essentially an arcade-style racing game, albeit one that uses futuristic hoverboards instead of cars. Sonic and his friends can ride their opponents’ turbulence to pick up speed, do flips in the air to earn extra "air," grind rails and more.

Overall, the game is enjoyable, but not especially memorable; this sort of thing has been done before and demonstrably better. Sonic fans will no doubt want to check it out but will also be better off renting the game instead of purchasing it.

"Bust-A-Move Deluxe"
Majesco, for PlayStation Portable
rated E for Everyone, $39.99.

It seems at times as though "Bust-A-Move" has been around as long as the Sphinx. Certainly there are as many titles in the long-running series as there are stars in the sky.

Now add one more celestial body, "Bust-A-Move Deluxe," this time for Sony’s PSP handheld.

Anyone who’s ever played a "Bust-A-Move" game will be on familiar territory. As always, brightly colored bubbles slowly descend from above. Match up three of the same color using the launcher at the bottom to make them disappear.

And that’s about it. "Deluxe" throws in a number of variations on that basic formula, some of which entertain, some of which feel like padding. At it’s heart, though, this is still just another "Bust-A-Move" game. Fun, but far from essential. If you’re a fan of puzzle games and you own a PSP, then you should get this. If not, then don’t.

"Street Supremacy"
Konami, for PlayStation Portable
rated E for Everyone (alcohol reference), $29.99.

This portable racing title has some interesting ideas but ultimately is too bland to be enjoyed by anyone but serious speed junkies.

The meat of the game puts you on one of several street racing teams and pits you against rival groups, as well as the other members of your crew, for domination of the highway.

Unfortunately, the streets and rivals are nearly identical, giving the game a bland, uniform feel — each race is exactly the same, essentially, with only slight differences in difficulty. The fact that the cars are tough to control at times doesn’t encourage continued playing, either. Unless you’re seriously jonesing for some street racing action, you’d be better off passing this game by.

Copyright The Patriot-News, 2006

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