Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Chore Wars

Developer: Kevan Davis
Publisher: Kevan Davis
Release Date: July 2007
System: Web browser
ESRB Rating: N/A
Official Web site

In a nutshell: Kyle and the Quest for Cleanliness

0:00 Even though it's not strictly a videogame, I've heard a lot of good things about this as a fun way to keep up with household tasks. I'm hoping it can motivate my wife and me to actually keep up with our chores.

0:01 "Honey, can you help me with a Game for Lunch?" I ask my wife, Michelle. "I guess so ... what is it?" she replies. "It's called Chore Wars," I reply back. She already sounds incredulous. "Are you serious?"

0:05 We start by paging through the FAQ together. Michelle: "This is very silly." Me: "I think it could be fun." Upon further reading, Michelle repeats: "This seems very silly." Uh oh ... I'm already losing her!

Read the full review at Crispy Gamer

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Personal Trainer: Cooking

Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo
Release Date: Nov. 24, 2008
System: Nintendo DS
ESRB Rating: E
Official Web site

In a nutshell: It will personally train you to cook.

0:00 I am definitely not a natural in the kitchen, so I'm hoping this game will help make me less reluctant to hover over a range.

0:01 The game starts with an all-purpose warning about raw meat, seafood, eggs, food allergies, letting kids cook and using oven mitts. OK then!

0:02 "Welcome to Personal Trainer: Cooking," says the black-and-white, hand-drawn chef on-screen. "Before we go any further, please adjust my voice to the speed you like." There's a slider on the touch-screen. The slowest and fastest speeds are pretty awful-sounding. The default seems all right to my wife and me...

0:03 "Getting ready. Don't touch the power button." This chef's voice is nice and soothing. On the top screen, the unnamed chef (let's call him Mr. Chef) dances back and forth. "You're ready to start cooking tasty dishes from all over the world!" Damn right I am!

0:05 The game points us to the "Important Points" section of "Cooking A-Z." This includes important tips like "Amounts of cheese are estimates." and "How to hold a kitchen knife." Nice photos to accompany, but I don't think we're THAT hopeless.

Read the full review at Crispy Gamer

Monday, December 29, 2008

World of Goo

Developer: 2D Boy
Publisher: 2D Boy
Release Date: Oct. 13, 2008
Systems: PC (reviewed), Wii
ESRB Rating: E
Official Web site

In a nutshell: Not as disgusting as the title would lead you to believe. Quite the opposite, in fact...

0:00 For an indie game, World of Goo has been getting massive, massive amounts of hype. It was this RPS piece that finally pushed me into sitting down with the demo, though.

0:01 The game displays some cute, SimCity-esque messages while loading up: "Distilling beauty ... Challenging everything ... Debating games as art ... swapping time and space." Heh. The title screen has a small globe in silhouette and some soaring music. On to Chapter 1, "The Goo Filled Hills."

0:02 "Summer," says white text on a black title card. The first level is "Going Up," which is described as "Easy as Goo pie." A sign in the background tells me to "Drag 'n' drop to build to the pipe." Down below there's a sort of black latticework structure. On it are thick, black balls of goo traveling all over the place. They have eyes. Creepy!

0:04 At first my dragging and dropping does nothing ... the goo balls just drop back to the ground. Eventually I notice some thin, wispy lines when I drag the goo close. When I let go, those lines become new struts on an ever-expanding, teetering tower. When I reach the pipe hanging above, all the goo balls that are still traipsing about get sucked up. I have the option to submit my score to the "World of Goo Leaderboard of Excellence." Nice name.

Read the full review at Crispy Gamer

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Choro Q

Developer: Takara
Publisher: Atlus
Release Date: Nov. 4, 2004
System: PS2
ESRB Rating: E
Official Web site

In a nutshell: Super Happy Fun Racing RPG Good Time Game!

0:00 I don't know how GameStop expected me to resist a game whose box says "Intense Racing Action," "Robust RPG Adventure" and "$2.99 Used" on the back.

0:01 An extremely outdated CGI cut scene shows a bunch of tiny cars racing around a track with a bunch more cars sitting in the stands. The inspiration for Pixar's "Cars"? A bunch of different foreign words for "Freedom" appear over a montage of these tiny, tiny cars zipping around some interesting racing tracks. High energy cheesy guitar music precedes the title screen. Pretty standard PS2-era intro.

0:02 The title screen has some extremely happy music and a cars driving around a very tiny globe with happy, vibrant colored houses. It looks like MySims more than "INTENSE RACING ACTION."

0:04 I think this is the first racing game I've ever played with an "Auto Cruise" button.

0:05 Cartoon "Brrrrrrr!"s fill the screen when I set the controller vibration. I have a feeling I'm going to like this game.

Read the full review at Crispy Gamer

Monday, December 15, 2008

LEGO Batman: The Videogame

Developer: Travelers' Tales
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive
Release Date: Sept. 23, 2008
Systems: PS3 (reviewed), PS2, PSP, Wii, DS, Xbox 360, PC
ESRB Rating: E10+
Official Web site

In a nutshell: BAM! POW! THWOCK! LEGO!

0:00 I enjoyed the little I've played of LEGO Star Wars and LEGO Indiana Jones, and I'm expecting largely the same carefree run-and-jump-and-punch experience out of this one. I wish I had a second player to putter around with, but I'll make do solo.

0:01 The preview screen is all kinds of awesome, with the Batman movie theme and scenes of all sorts of LEGO destruction. There's a mini-figure version of the Riddler! And Harley Quinn! And Poison Ivy! And Bane! And the Joker! And Robin! Oh man, this is gonna be fun.

0:02 Two LEGO robbers run across a rooftop, stopping cold when seeing LEGO Batman, who sends some LEGO batarangs to knock away their LEGO guns. Then LEGO Batman leaps in for some PUNCHING ACTION! AWESOME!

0:03 LEGO Batman looks grim and serious and, most of all, CUTE on the title screen, looking down over the city he is sworn to protect. LEGO versions of Joker, Penguin and Riddler are in a jail cell. The LEGO clock strikes midnight, there's a LEGO explosion, and they bust out of LEGO Arkham Asylum, along with LEGO Croc, Catwoman, Scarecrow, Two-Face, Clayface, Man-bat ... good god, it's every Batman villain ever! They hijack a couple of LEGO vans and drive through the LEGO streets, unleashing LEGO laughing gas, whipping LEGO whips, floating on LEGO umbrellas, drawing "?" graffiti with LEGO spray paint, etc. LEGO Commissioner Gordon hits the LEGO bright red button to activate the LEGO bat signal, prompting triumphant cries from the LEGO cops. Oh, there's LEGO Mr. Freeze too! He's with LEGO Clayface, Riddler and Poison Ivy now in an underground lair. They're silently planning to rob a LEGO bank.

Read the full review at Crispy Gamer

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Tecmo Bowl: Kickoff

Developer: Polygon Magic
Publisher: Tecmo (duh!)
Release Date: Nov. 17, 2008
System: Nintendo DS
ESRB Rating: E
Official Web site

In a nutshell: It's easy and fun to beat those Supercocks!

0:00 I never played the original Tecmo Bowl, but I know it has a borderline obsessive fan base. I generally like old-school sports games more than modern, hyper-real simulations, so this one should be right in my wheelhouse.

0:01 The title screen logo appears with what sounds more like fighting game music than football game music. It's all very tinny and old-school. "Tecmo Bowl: Kickoff," says an even tinnier announcer when I press A. Also, why's the game called Kickoff? The series kicked off decades ago. I don't think that word means what they think it means...

0:02 I get to choose from a bunch of fake teams, including the Carolina Carnage, the Chicago Chinooks and ... the Los Angeles Supercocks? Really? Supercocks? I go with the Houston Heatwaves, because they're the only team that has a halfway decent name.

0:04 In the team editor I can edit my team's name and colors. So I can rename them to the Houston Texans, but they can't just call them the Texans out of the box? Thanks a lot, EA.

0:08 So apparently I can edit stats like max speed, hit power, pass accuracy, rush avoidance ability, etc. for all my players. That's not that surprising. What is surprising is, they all start off intentionally gimped, with plenty of stat points to distribute as I see fit. Good thing I looked at this player editor screen, or all my players would be underpowered scrubs!

Read the full review at Crispy Gamer

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


Developer: SCE Japan
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Release Date: May 1, 2008
Systems: PSP (reviewed), PS3
ESRB Rating: E
Official Web site

In a nutshell: If M.C. Escher made a videogame.
0:00 I've been excited about this one ever since I saw a video of its Escher-like worlds at last year's E3. I got a free copy along with the PSP-3000 Sony sent me a few months back (yeah, I know, my life sucks) but haven't gotten around to playing it until now.

0:01 Some credits go by quickly, then a stark white title screen with some wailing/singing in the background. The protagonist walks around some sample levels. "Knock on the door," the game says. Uh ... does that mean press the X button? Because that's what I did.

0:02 The menu options are Freeform, Atelier, Canvas and Etc. Is this menu the first puzzle? Where's "New Game"?

0:03 I choose Etc. and jump into the tutorial. I think I'm gonna need it for this one ... "Welcome to the world of Echochrome," says a soothing ethereal voice. "In this world, special laws apply." The first is "Perspective Traveling," where you can "change the perspective and connect the path." I move the camera with the analog nub as the protagonist walks forward automatically. Two disjointed platforms suddenly connect when they line up on the 2-D plane of the screen. Did that make sense? This is hard to describe with mere words. I'm loving the gentle violin music.

0:05 "Perspective Existence" lets me cover up gaps and make them into walkable platforms. "You may not be able to see it, but there is a path." Similarly, "Perspective Absence" can cover holes and allow safe passage. "Hide the obstruction and it no longer exists." Very philosophical, for a puzzle game.

0:06 Finally, "Perspective Jump" lets me swing the platform under a jumping guy to catch him. Now I'm into my first real puzzle. "Use the five mysterious laws and create a path." The music sounds like a wailing cat ... in a good way!

Read the full review at Crispy Gamer

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Viking: Battle for Asgard

Developer: Creative Assembly
Publisher: Sega
Release Date: March 25, 2008
Systems: Xbox 360 (reviewed), PS3
ESRB Rating: M
Official Web site

In a nutshell: An incredibly lame God of War clone.

0:00 With a name as incredibly generic as "Viking," I felt I simply HAD to check this game out.

0:01 Lots of logos, then the title appears over what I can only assume are a bunch of Vikings hiking down a rainy concrete bridge, with a town burning in the background. There must be hundreds of them, all looking very nice in hi-def.

0:02 The new game difficulties are Normal and Hard. Why not call Normal "Easy" then? Or Hard "Normal"? Anyway, Normal it is for me.

0:03 A blizzard of tips scrolls by on the loading screen, more than I can possibly read. Then a 2-D hand drawing of an old man in a boat. "They came born of battle and bloodshed, those that would stand against the darkness. ... What was once green and fertile was now soured and barren. Those who were at peace now knew only war." Some war-like music and sounds of war accompany some quick-cut drawings of bloody war battles. WAR! "A great evil had come to Midgard" but "hope is stronger than any army, any weapon. Hope waits only for someone to embrace it." Is this a Barack Obama game?

0:05 The scene switches to full 3-D now, with more random battle scenes containing fire in the background. There's a very God of War look to it all. A blond-haired guy with a ponytail is looking hurt and forlorn amidst the carnage when the game freezes. But wait, I can still get to the in-game Dashboard. I can pause, too, but not advance the scene. Looks like time to quit out and try again.

Read the full review at Crispy Gamer

Monday, December 8, 2008

Top Spin 3

Developer: PAM
Publisher: 2K Sports
Release Date: June 23, 2008
Systems: PS3 (reviewed), Xbox 360, Wii, DS
ESRB Rating: E
Official Web site

In a nutshell: Mario Tennis it ain't.

0:00 My exposure to tennis games is mainly limited to the Mario Tennis series and Virtua Tennis on the Dreamcast. I preferred Mario Tennis, and it's not just because I'm a Mario fanboy. It's NOT! OK, maybe it is.

0:01 So I accidentally put this PS3 version of the game into my Xbox 360 and then wondered why it wasn't working. It's too early in the morning here...

0:02 Maybe the Xbox 360 move was wishful thinking, as I'm forced to download the 47-MB "version 1.1" patch. This is the first time I've seen the PS3 download progress bar in full HD. It's still just as annoying.

0:04 Well that wasn't TOO bad. We're all installed and ready to go.

0:05 Or so I thought ... the game has to install itself on my hard drive as well. This is not optional. ARGH!

0:09 I've taken this opportunity to watch a bit of "A Garfield Christmas" on the excellent BetaMaxMas. So far it's been the best part of the game.

0:11 A GoBots commercial just came on the BetaMaxMas. I don't know how this game can top that!

Read the full review at Crispy Gamer

Friday, December 5, 2008


Developer: iNiS
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Release Date: Nov. 18, 2008
System: Xbox 360
ESRB Rating: E-10+
Official Web site

In a nutshell: Karaoke is exciting again (or it's exciting for the first time, depending on your perspective).

0:00 I became a huge fan of karaoke as soon as Harmonix's Karaoke Revolution hit. I think I've owned every karaoke game that has come out since. Except for the ones based on Disney Channel shows. And Boogie, of course. That game sounded awful.

0:05 Because I'm bitter, I'm deducting the five minutes it took me to open the annoying blister packaging this game came in and to install the batteries in the swanky wireless mics.

0:06 And another minute off for the obligatory update.

0:07 The game just called my new wireless mic "fancy" and told me to hold it about an inch from my face. Groovy.

0:08 The game starts off with this videoof a shy guy serenading a girl across the couch at a party with the Lips microphone at a party. She joins in and before long, the whole party joins in dancing and singing to music from a Zune. Doesn't seem too realistic to me, but it still makes me feel guilty for playing alone. Screw it ... it's Friday and I want to sing!

Read the full review at Crispy Gamer

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4

Developer: Atlus
Publisher: Atlus
Release Date: Dec. 9, 2008
System: PS2
ESRB Rating: M
Official Web site

In a nutshell: Now with less shooting yourself in the head (at least so far).

0:00 Despite saying that I would play Persona 3 FES for more than an hour in my GFL column, I never actually went back to it. Other games got in the way, but the disturbing anime imagery definitely got in my head and left me looking vaguely forward to this sequel.

0:01 Piano music. A bunch of TVs, one with the game's logo. A guy puts on glasses. A lonely loveseat. The guy lands and runs. The lonely loveseat gets the guy sitting in it. A girl with a fan. A guy with large headphones. Another with a skull and crossbones shirt. A bulbous blue egg-shaped man in a clown suit?!?! A card spinning on its corner. Detectives. Shaky-cam anime of a fight. A girl with a parasol. A Britney Spears-alike on a stage. The lonely loveseat again, on the TV, which switches of and cuts to ... the title screen! Wuzzah huh?

0:05 "Before you begin the story, choose a difficulty level in battle." The choices are Normal, Beginner and Expert. Seeing as I doubt I'll get to more than one battle in my first hour, it doesn't matter much, but I choose Normal. "You will be able to enjoy the normal challenge of battle, which requires a certain degree of strategy." You don't scare me! "Now, please sit back and enjoy the game." How thoughtful!

0:06 Black fog rolls by. A fancy car rolls into view in super close up. A woman in a pseudo-military outfit opens her eyes. A man with a ridiculous nose opens his eyes. "Welcome to the Velvet room!" Well that sounds familiar. Cut to 3-D models of the twosome inside the car. "Ah ... it seems we have a guest with an intriguing destiny..." says the "Bizarre-looking Man." Really, that's what the game calls him!

Read the full review at Crispy Gamer

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Deadliest Catch: Alaskan Storm

Developer: Liquid Storm
Publisher: Greenwave Games
Release Date: June 17, 2008
Systems: Xbox 360 (reviewed), PC
ESRB Rating: T
Official Web site

In a nutshell: Realistically dull.

0:00 My exposure to this game (and the show it's based on) comes mainly from this Penny Arcade comic. Also, it should be noted that this is the first GFL being played on my brand-new 40" Samsung LCD HDTV! Those crabs are going to look AMAZING!

0:01 Zip-update-doo-dah.

0:02 A high-def yet still blocky-looking boat, the Northwestern, floats on choppy waters as three disembodied heads look on above the title. "Wanted Dead or Alive" plays in the background. Makes me want to play Rock Band...

0:03 "Ice builds up faster on the side of your boat that is the most exposed to wind." Thanks for the nautical tip, loading screen!

0:04 In the Bering Sea: "Mayday, mayday ... we are taking on water ... mayday!" A window cracks as a wave washes over a guy in a yellow raincoat. The U.S. Coast Guard ship is rushing in, ETA 15 minutes. A chopper flies off the deck of the savior ship.

0:05 Suddenly, a video of some guy (from the show?) comes on explaining, in a very unpolished manner, that some heavy storm-force winds are coming. I'm not close enough to help in the rescue, so I have to go back to harbor. "The autopilot is set ... all you need to do is take the throttle and control the speed." Really? That's it?

Read the full review at Crispy Gamer

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

CSI: NY The Game

Developer: Legacy Interactive
Publisher: Ubisoft
Release Date: Nov. 18, 2008
System: PC
ESRB Rating: T
Official Web site

In a nutshell: Like a TV show with a bunch of simple puzzles during the commercials.

0:00 I've never actually watched any CSI show or even contemplated there being a game version of the same. I do like Law & Order, though, and Ubisoft was willing to send me a copy, so I'm willing to play it for an hour.

0:05 If I take off time for PS3 installs, it's only fair that I do the same for PC games. Plus this one required me to install a new version of DirectX and restart my computer, which is always annoying.

0:06 "GARY SINISE as Mac Taylor." A bunch of other people as ... other people. Lots of guns, a freaky looking skeleton, large fingerprints, a slow-mo flying bullet and the "CSI: NY" logo in front of a skyscraper. I like the cel animation, but where's the music by The Who?

0:07 The game asks me to enter my name, but I can't type a space. I guess they just want a first name?

0:08 "TIP: Select Episode 1 to begin your investigation as Mac Taylor." Oh, dear lord ... if this is the level of help they think players need, I'm in for a dull experience.

Read the full review at Crispy Gamer

Monday, December 1, 2008

Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts

Developer: Rare
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Release Date: Nov. 12, 2008
System: Xbox 360
ESRB Rating: E-10+
Official Web site

In a nutshell: Diddy Kong Racing meets LittleBigPlanet

0:00 The original Banjo-Kazooie was one of the Rare (get it?) games that I actually finished 100 percent, even though all that mindless collecting nearly killed me. Despite that, I never played sequel Banjo-Tooie. Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts looks significantly different from what came before, and I'm not sure if that's a good thing yet.

0:01 La dee da downloadable update dee doo.

0:02 The Rareware logo drives in atop a crazy vehicle. Gold puzzle pieces are removed to reveal a tranquil clearing with Banjo (the bear) and Kazooie (the bird) driving around. Charming, twangy banjo music in the background.

0:03 Into Banjo's house now, where he does jumping jacks by the door. Hmm, why is there a green-and-white Pong monitor during the loading screen?

0:04 "Once upon a time there lived a brave bear named Banjo, an annoying bird named Kazooie and an evil witch named Gruntilda." A sepia-toned montage recaps the events of Banjo Kazooie and Banjo-Tooie. "So what became of the bear, the bird and the witch?" Well, the bear is eating pizza and the bird is sleeping in his blue backpack, until the radio wakes him up. They're much fatter than before. Kazooie is busy tapping away at a 360 controller. "It's not like we have to fight that old hag anymore." Or do they ... her skull bounces out from the rubble and vows to make trouble.

Read the full review at Crispy Gamer