Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The Game Bytes are coming! The Game Bytes are coming!

I will be in New York City tomorrow, if all goes well, getting a sneak peek at the PlayStation 3. No post tomorrow, therefore, but I'll try to put my impressions up of the event some time this weekend if time permits.

Killzone: Liberation
Sony, for PlayStation Portable
rated T for Teen, $39.99.

Rather than attempt to transfer the original “Killzone” directly to the PSP, Sony’s developers decided to do something a little different and moved the camera upward about 80 degrees, transforming it from a first-person shooter into a real-time strategy game.

It’s a smart decision, as the PSP’s controls really aren’t ideal for the average FPS game. “Liberation” contains a few other noteworthy additions, including the ability to command squadmates and drive tanks.

The game is tough — really tough — so tough that average gamers might become frustrated early on. Those looking for a smart strategy title to add to their PSP collection should pick this game up, though.

“Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime”
Square-Enix, for Nintendo DS
rated E for Everyone, $34.99.

Oooooo, I liked this game. It’s colorful, cute, clever and just challenging enough to entice older players, while not being so difficult as to discourage younger ones.

In “Rocket Slime,” you play a little blue gloop who must save his town from destruction and rescue the inhabitants from a gang of marauding platypuses (at least they look like platypuses). You do this by bashing into objects, carrying them on their head, and then either throwing them or sending them back home for storage.

Storing items becomes significant later when you acquire a rather odd-looking tank and have to fire whatever you’ve got in storage at the assorted other tanks that challenge you.

It’s a silly, fun feature that keeps the game from getting stale.

Really, this is a fabulous game, perfect for those DS owners on the go, so long as you don’t mind being seen playing something that wouldn’t look out of place on PBS Kids. I certainly don’t.

“Dance Factory”
Codemasters, for PlayStation 2
rated E for everyone, $39.99.

One of the bigger complaints about the popular “Dance, Dance Revolution” series is that while it gets your blood pumping, the music provided is little better than inane pap.

“Dance Factory” seeks to overcome that problem by allowing you to add tunes from your own CD collection. Just load up the game, pop the disc of your choice into the PS2, copy over the songs you want and voila! Instant dance track.

The game worked reasonably well for just about any disc I put in, proving that you can indeed, dance to John Coltrane and Frank Zappa as easily as Jessica Simpson. Sadly, that’s about all there is to the game, which could have used some variety in animation and overall design. Still, if the uninspired techno music is the only thing keeping you away from games like “DDR,” then “Dance Factory” might be just the thing for you.

“Super Monkey Ball Adventure”
Sega, for PlayStation 2 and GameCube
rated E for Everyone, $39.99.

Whatever train of thought led to this game being developed should have been left at the station. The “Monkey Ball” franchise is best served as a simple puzzler — guide the little monkey down the narrow ramps to the finish line without him falling off — end of story. Transforming it into a platform game removes a lot of what made the series so enjoyable to begin with.

Of course, it doesn’t help when the monkey itself controls so clumsily that it’s almost impossible to maneuver it with any degree of accuracy. Or that the individual tasks are pointless and tiresome.

There’s absolutely nothing here that you wouldn’t find in any other generic platform game, which makes one wonder why bother putting the monkeys in balls at all. Bring back the puzzles, please.

Copyright The Patriot-News, 2006


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