Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Kingdom Under Fire: Circle of Doom

Developer: Blueside
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Release Date: Jan. 8, 2008
Systems: Xbox 360
ESRB Rating: M
Official Web Site

In a nutshell: Final Fight + Final Fantasy

0:01 An incredibly basic title screen features a ring of fire on a black background in front of the title. Lord of the Rings much?

The "Blood" setting is set to "off" as a default. Isn't this game is rated M? What are they doing? Bring on the GORE!

I have my choice of a few characters with a good variety of speeds/styles/strengths. I choose the slow melee-attacking guy who's built like a tank because standing around and beating things sounds like fun.

Even though the press materials explicitly suggest playing with more than one person, I start a single-player game.

A horned, hooded guy is kneeling. He looks up at a bigger, horned guy. Suddenly the bigger guy lifts the smaller guy by the throat. Now the small guy is... alone in a field of flowers. "Hmm, it's been quite a while since I last had a dream." Then more loading. Weird, but intriguing.

Read the full review at Crispy Gamer

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Developer: EA UK
Publisher: EA
Release Date: June 25, 2007
Systems: Wii (reviewed), every other system in existence
ESRB Rating: E10+
Official Web Site

In a nutshell: It's maaaaaaaaaaagic!

0:00 Yeah, it's a licensed game, but the promise of using the Wii remote as an ACTUAL magic wand was enough for me to give it a try.

0:01 Wait, the game needs a Nunchuk attachment? What kind of magic wand needs an attachment? Lame!

0:02 Hedwig flies into Hogwart's as a bunch of suitably blocky students practice dueling, levitating, fire-starting, etc. with some horribly stilted animation. The school environment looks great, though, and I love the sweeping orchestral score.

0:04 Hedwig alights on Harry's arm as he stands meaningfully in a room with Ron and Hermione, all of them looking directly at the camera for no apparent reason. They look ready to take on the world. By the way, if you don't know who any of these characters are, read a book for gosh sake.

Read the full review on Crispy Gamer

Sunday, February 17, 2008

The Bigs

Developer: Blue Castle Games
Publisher: 2K Sports
Release Date: June 26, 2007
Systems: Xbox 360 (reviewed), PS3, Wii, PS2, PSP
ESRB Rating: E
Official Web Site

In a nutshell: MLB Blitz

0:01 This minute was mostly spent staring at various loading screens.

The options screen has only three settings: Difficulty, number of innings, and vibration. Such simplicity! I think I'm going to like this game.

I choose play now and dive into a Cincinnati vs. St. Louis match. Well, after another loading screen, that is.

"Hi everyone. This is The Bigs," says a decent-sounding announcer (whose name I fail to catch). Before I know it, I'm at bat. A circle shows where the ball will land in the strike zone -- high and outside. I swing and a slow-motion diving catch by the first baseman means I'm out. The other team gets 17,500 "points." I hope those aren't interchangeable with runs.

Read the full review at Crispy Gamer

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Metapost: Updated Games for Lunch FAQ

A little more than eight months after this site launched, I figured it was time to update the Frequently Asked Questions file with, er, some questions I'm frequently asked (and the answers, of course). Check it out.

Also, a note on updates: Due to some lingering tech issues over at Crispy Gamer, Games for Lunch updates might not hit every weekday for the time being. The schedule will probably be closer to every other day until the process can be streamlined. All updates will still be posted here and on the RSS feed. Thanks again for your patience as we get back up to speed.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Mario Party DS

Developer: Hudson Soft
Publisher: Nintendo
Release Date: Nov. 19, 2007
Systems: Nintendo DS
ESRB Rating: E
Official Web Site

In a nutshell: Board game + mini-games + Mario - the TV.

This review features guest commentary from my friend and co-player Bruce.

0:01 After a few minutes spent trying to find a second working DS (borrowed from Bruce's fiance, Lauren), it's on to the super-happy fun intro screen!

0:02 Downloading data to the second DS takes up almost all of this minute.

0:03 And we're loaded. Party mode! I suggest tag battle, a two-vs.-two cooperative mode. "That's cool," says Bruce. We're Mario and Luigi ("Old buddies" says the game) vs. Wario and Waluigi ("Bad boys").

Read the full review at Crispy Gamer

Thursday, February 7, 2008


Developer: Saber Interactive
Vivendi Games
Release Date:
Oct. 30, 2007
Xbox 360 (reviewed), Windows, PS3
ESRB Rating:
Official Web Site

In a nutshell: Call of Duty: The Sands of Time

0:01 A quick initial load and a rainy futuristic dystopia appears behind the title/menu screen. Shades of Half-Life 2's totalitarian state.

0:02 Dear lord. A quick look at the options screen shows a function for every single button, control stick and d-pad direction on the 360 controller. Some even have multiple purposes! I hope they have a good tutorial...

0:03 I can choose between Casual, Skilled and Elite difficulties. I'll choose Casual, so I can check things out without stressing out.

Read the rest at Crispy Gamer

Metapost: Games for Lunch relaunches on Crispy Gamer!

After multiple hiatuses, announcements, false starts and unanticipated delays, I'm extremely happy to announce that Games for Lunch has officially launched at it's new home on gaming portal Crispy Gamer. A one-hour review of Timeshift is already up and a new one will be running in its spot every weekday from now on (and no more missed days, either -- the long break has allowed me to build up a good sized buffer of reviews).

While there are no RSS feeds on Crispy Gamer yet, I've been given permission to post links to the Crispy Gamer's Games for Lunch posts on this blogspot page for the time being. You RSS readers will have to click through to get to the actual review, but you won't have to change any feed settings to continue to be notified of updates. For non-RSS readers, just click on the "Features" tab on the Crispy Gamer front page every weekday to find the new review.

On behalf of Crispy Gamer's John Keefer and myself, I'd like to thank you all for your patience in watching this move slooooowly come together and we hope you'll continue to enjoy Games for Lunch at its new home. As always, comments and suggestions are welcome.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Metapost: Technical Difficulties

*Begin resigned tone*

Due to technical difficulties with the Crispy Gamer beta beyond my control, the planned re-launch of Games for Lunch has been put on hold for the time being. When this issue is resolved, you'll read about it here. Thanks for bearing with us. Questions and comments can be directed to John Keefer.

*End resigned tone*

Friday, February 1, 2008

Metapost: Crispy Gamer launches; GFL coming back Monday

I'm happy to announce that Crispy Gamer, the new home of Games For Lunch, has finally launched! The revamped Games for Lunch column will show up there on Monday and run every weekday thereafter for ever (and ever and ever and ever...)

In the meantime, check out editor-in-chief John Keefer's introductory letter to find out why the site is so special. You know, as if the inclusion of GFL wasn't sign enough ...

Update: EIC John Keefer asked me to note that the site is still in beta and undergoing quality assurance and testing. Comments are welcome and can be directed to