Friday, October 06, 2006

If it's Friday, this must by Game Bytes

“Ultimate Ghosts ’N’ Goblins”
Capcom, for PlayStation Portable
rated E10+ for ages 10 and up (animated blood, fantasy violence), $39.99.

The “Ghosts” series is known not just for being a classic platform game but also for being incredibly hard. The makers of “Ultimate” obviously wanted to maintain that renowned level of difficulty for their sequel, as it’s quite impossible to get through the game on any setting except “easy.”

Good thing, then, that “Ultimate” is such an inventive and fun experience. The levels are cleverly laid out and exhibit enough imagination and variety to keep you on your toes. Just when you’re about to write the game off as a by-the-numbers platformer, it surprises you.

Too bad the developers decided to keep the controls old-school as well. The biggest problem is your little main character can’t maneuver while jumping, making it even tougher to get from platform to platform. Despite that, “Ghosts ¤’N’ Goblins” is a fun hand-held title that should amuse and challenge fans of the genre. Just play it on easy, trust me.

“FlatOut 2”
Vivendi Universal, for the PlayStation 2, Xbox and PC

rated T for Teen (mild lyrics, violence), $39.99.

I’m not sure the world was clamoring for a sequel to this demolition derby-styled racing game, but here it is anyway. The good news is that it’s a considerable improvement on the first game, which was torn between speeding and smashing stuff up. Better tracks, better controls and improved physics all help make the sequel more enjoyable.

That’s not to say there aren’t problems. I still find the rag-doll minigames, where you deliberately hurl your “driver” into a variety of bone-crushing stunts, more disturbing than comical. And the difficulty level seems to spike at odd times. But there’s no question this is more fun to play the second time around, whether you were asking to or not.

“Crusty Demons”
Evolved Games, for Xbox

rated M for Mature (blood, sexual themes, strong language, violence), $19.99.

Let’s see if I can get this straight. A bunch of stunt bikers die and go to hell. Satan, in his generosity, grants them immortality (they can still feel pain though) in exchange for their souls. With this ability, they then race around doing odd jobs for prostitutes and assorted hustlers.

One could possibly overlook the incredibly stupid premise, not to mention the offensive ethnic stereotypes, if the game handled well. Sadly, it does not. The controls are awkward, to put it mildly, and the games range from inane to dull. Mark this as a sad “Tony Hawk” rip-off and avoid at all costs.

Copyright The Patriot-News, 2006


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