Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Return of the Son of the Bride of Game Bytes


"Sudoku Gridmaster," Nintendo, for Nintendo DS, rated E for Everyone, $19.99.

One of the best things about Nintendo's "Brain Age" was the Sudoku puzzles thrown in at the last minute for American audiences. Itstands to reason, therefore, that the arrival of "Sudoku Gridmaster" would be reason for puzzle-loving DS owners to rejoice.

Unfortunately, this quickie knock-off fails in comparison to its predecessor. For one thing, there's no handwriting recognition, so you have to type in the numbers using a calculator like pad on the right side of the screen. For another, the menus and general interface is needlessly cluttered.

If you're a serious Sudoku addict and are done with "Brain Age," then this title will slake your thirst, though that's about all it will do.

"Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories," Rockstar, for PlayStation 2, rated M for Mature (blood and gore, intense violence, strong language, strong sexual content, use of drugs), $19.99.

This is a to-the-letter port of the PSP game that came out late last year, with no real surprises or additions to entice those who’ve already played the hand-held edition, hence the low price point.

Surprisingly, the game seems just as clumsy on PS2 as it does on PSP. I found myself having trouble trying to get my car to stay on the road, and the series’ poor targeting system is well acknowledged by this point.

Still, $20 is a good deal if you’re a fan of the series and haven’t played this iteration yet. All the dark humor and open-ended gameplay are still on display. It’s just that at this point, a good deal of the series’ seams are starting to show.

"Micro Machines V4," Codemasters, for PlayStation Portable, rated E for Everyone, $29.99.

The notion of tiny cars racing around on pool tables and rooftops is still appealing to me, despite the fact that Micro Machines have been around for what only seems like most of my life.

It’s a shame the game is so disappointing. Most of that is due to the fact that it’s far too easy to oversteer the cars, leading to frequent crashes into walls or, worse, off the track entirely. The end result is a game that will far too easily frustrate the young audience it’s so clearly aimed at.

"Guilty Gear: Dust Strikers," Majesco, for Nintendo DS, rated T for Teen (alcohol reference, suggestive themes, violence), $29.99.

Have you ever played a game that, within seconds, left you completely flummoxed, unsure of how to play or what to do?

Such was my experience with "Dust Strikers," a 2-D fighting game that is way more convoluted and confusing than it needs to be. Reading the manual did little to help me. It’s too bad, because I’ve liked a number of "Guilty Gear" games in the past, despite my ineptitude at most fighting games. This game needed a tutorial — badly.

"World Tour Soccer ’06," Sony, for the PlayStation Portable, rated E, $39.99.

This soccer sequel improves upon its previous incarnation in just about every way. Better graphics, better interface, better and richer features, better game play in general. Even the individual matches are designed for quick, on-the-go gaming.

Copyright The Patriot-News, 2006

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