Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Football Mogul 2009

Developer: Clay Dreslough
Publisher: Sports Mogul
Release Date: Sept. 18, 2008
System: PC
ESRB Rating: E
Official Web site

In a nutshell: SimFootball

0:00 I'm knowledgeable enough about football to follow a game easily, but not nearly smart enough to run a team. Still, I'm willing to see how well I'd handle some virtual team management.

0:01 A barebones options screen is the first thing to greet me. The lack of background music is a bit jarring. I choose to manage the Redskins at the "Fan" difficulty level (also available: Coach, Head Coach and Mogul). It's like they know me!

0:02 I'm thrown into a basic, Excel-style grid with the NFL standings and some columns of stats, all of which are at zero, of course, since the season has yet to start. The first week we're playing the NY Giants. I'm ... really not sure what to do here. Let's check out that help menu...

0:03 "The goal of Football Mogul is to accumulate the best Mogul Rating by successfully carrying your team through a decade or more of success." A decade or more? Looks like this will take more than an hour! Success is measured purely in wins and losses, although teams from small markets get a bonus and teams from big markets get a penalty.

0:06 Good lord, this is getting complex fast. I have to keep track of any number of "formations" for both offense and defense, budget for player salaries and other team expenses, set ticket and concession sales, scout for new players to trade for ... and that's just the start. I'm obviously in way over my head.

Read the full review at Crispy Gamer

Monday, September 29, 2008

Baja: Edge of Control

Developer: 2XL
Publisher: THQ
Release Date: Sept. 22, 2008
Systems: PS3 (reviewed), Xbox 360
ESRB Rating: E
Official Web site

In a nutshell: On the good side of the edge.

0:00 Frankly, a racing game with the words "Edge of Control" in the title doesn't really inspire confidence. That said, they sent me the game, so I'm more than happy to try it out.

0:01 Photorealistic rally cars tear across the desert amidst some generic heavy metal. Oh, wait, this is a high-definition video intro. No wonder the cars look so good. Why don't more games have live video in their intros? Are they afraid the game won't look as good in comparison?

0:02 By default, the sound options have the engine volume set all the way up and the in-game music nearly all the way down. Yeah ... let's reverse that...

0:03 There are 10 -- count 'em, 10 -- preset control options. No option to totally customize the controls, though. The existence of a "Request Repair" button is a little worrisome.

0:04 Traction options are "Full," "Partial" and "Off." So, if I turn off traction, will it be like driving on ice?

0:05 Off to the "Baja Career." The difficulties are Easy and Hard. Hmm. Easy sounds too easy, but I'm afraid Hard will be too hard. If only there were something in between ... something ... Medium...

Read the full review at Crispy Gamer

Friday, September 26, 2008

Kirby Super Star Ultra

Developer: HAL Laboratory
Publisher: Nintendo
Release Date: Sept. 22, 2008
System: Nintendo DS
ESRB Rating: E
Official Web site

In a nutshell: Better in retrospect.

0:00 The original Kirby Super Star is one of my all-time favorite SNES games, thanks mainly to the wide variety of gameplay modes and the excellent two-player platforming. No second player here right now, though. Will the experience hold up after a decade?

0:01 The cut scene intro, with Kirby flying in on a yellow star, is surprisingly similar to the one I remember so well from the original, except rendered in faux 3-D and with too-smooth animation. I think I liked the old one better.

0:02 Of the main game modes, only "Spring Breeze" is open currently. It's sad, but I can't even remember if I had to unlock these games in the original, or if they started out as available. The classic music really brings me back.

0:03 Let's check out some new stuff first, the "three simple but deep sub-games," as the top screen describes them. Everything is touch-screen-controlled. "Kirby Card Swipe" is first. Sounds like a credit card instructional video?

0:04 Wow ... that's even simpler than I imagined. A card shows up on the top screen and I have to click the matching card from among four on the bottom screen. The presentation is cute, but it's definitely not "deep."

Read the full review at Crispy Gamer

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Incredible Hulk

Developer: Edge of Reality
Publisher: Sega
Release Date: June 5, 2008
Systems: PS3 (reviewed), Xbox 360, Wii, PS2, PC, DS
ESRB Rating: T
Official Web site

In a nutshell: More like The Mediocre Hulk, amirite?

0:00 I liked my time with The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction, so I have high hopes for this one even though it's based on a movie. The Sega seal of potential quality has to count for something, right?

0:01 Whoop, not so fast... version 1.1 of the software requires 14 MB of downloads. It could be worse...

0:03 A view down a secluded alley accompanies the title screen. In the background, tanks roll by. I can hear Hulk screaming and I see something throwing people ... who knows why. I hit start and a cab comes hurtling through a wall next to me. Hulk comes out of the hole in the wall like the Kool-Aid man, except much more muscley, as the menu screen pops up.

0:05 Hulk flexes and roars as I choose the Story mode. I guess he approves? Or is he against it? Really, I have no idea what emotion he's expressing with his constant roaring.

0:06 "My name is Bruce Banner. I'm trying to stop a monster." He's standing in a secluded snowscape. The screen goes blank and a gun fires. Fade back in -- Hulk spits out the bullet and screams: "BANNER!" Whoa. Dark. Five years later, in Brazil, Banner is running from some military types. He runs into a factory and a helicopter sends a missile in. I'd say that's overkill, but for the Hulk, it's almost definitely underkill.

0:07 I'm in control. The screen prompts me to press the O button repeatedly to make the Hulk burst forth from under some rubble. Whoo! Interactive!

Read the full review at Crispy Gamer

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Wario Land: Shake It!

Developer: Good Feel
Publisher: Nintendo
Release Date: Sept. 22, 2008
System: Wii
ESRB Rating: E
Official Web site

In a nutshell: Animated greed.

0:00 A 2-D platformer from Nintendo is enough, on its own, to get me excited, but the beautiful hand-drawn animation I've seen put me over the top with anticipation for this game. Here's hoping my standards aren't too high.

0:01 "Yeah, let's go!" Wario intones. A treasure map scrolls by in the background of the title screen, with gentle guitar music and the sound of lapping waves. "Wario Time!"

0:02 An anime cut scene shows a redheaded pirate in a dark museum, looking at a globe under glass. Cut to the sea, where a pirate holds up a bottomless coin sack in front of his cheering minions. He also has captive a pretty blue-haired girl, an "enchanting young queen. Even disdain is lovely on this face." Wow ... that's disturbing. A green guy with a white orb growing out of his head hides behind a crate and vows to rescue her. He flies off over the water. Back in the museum, Red lifts the globe out through the ceiling.

0:04 Wario is sleeping when the bell rings with a huge package delivery. It's the globe Red stole. "A little present from me to you, the real treasure's inside. Enjoy!" Wario takes a sledgehammer to the globe and out comes ... a telescope, with the green guy in it. He's tiny compared to hulking Wario, who looks bored as Greeny tells the tale of the pirate taking over the "Shake Dimension." Wario perks up when he hears about the bottomless coin sack and its unlimited treasure. With that, Wario jumps into the telescope and is transported into the Shake Dimension. Now Loading...

Read the full review at Crispy Gamer

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Civilization Revolution

Developer: Firaxis
Publisher: 2K Games
Release Date: July 8, 2008
Systems: Xbox 360 (reviewed), PS3, Nintendo DS
ESRB Rating: E10+
Official Web site

In a nutshell: Conquer the World, simply.

0:00 Believe it or not, I have never played a single Civilization game. I've heard this one is a bit simpler and tuned for a console gamer's sensibilities, though, so away we go.

0:01 The little disc tray icon on the Xbox Dashboard abbreviates the name as "Civilization Revolut'n," which I find completely hilarious for some reason. Probably lack of sleep.

0:02 A primitive person in a loincloth draws the 2K/Firaxis logos in ash on a cave wall. He draws a woman; then he becomes Caesar, pumping his fists to a crowd of cheering Romans. The ancient man continues to draw as the camera cuts to a knight in a hall and horsemen riding through fire. A man with a gold ring gestures towards the sea, over a map with dragons. In the distance, a green land. A scientist discusses a new spaceship, while a general clences a fist. A politician makes a decision and the shuttle lifts off to a massive space station. Back in pre-history, the caveman walks out to a fireside gathering outside his mountain cave. The music swells. Pretty touching, for a game intro...

0:05 I could probably spend the whole hour reading the Civopedia, which describes types of governments, land, military units, resources, rewards, leaders, etc. I hope I'll learn as I go.

0:07 I jump in to play now and can choose from a variety of leaders throughout the world and history -- Caesar, Cleopatra, Ghandi, Alexander the Great, Bismarck, Mao, etc. I choose Random and leave my fate up to, uh, fate. I get Caesar. "Great people such as Plato will increase your culture," says the loading screen. Well, duh!

Read the full review at Crispy Gamer

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Ratchet & Clank Future: Quest for Booty

Developer: Insomniac
Publisher: SCEA
Release Date: Aug. 21, 2008
System: PS3
ESRB Rating: E-10+
Official Web site

In a nutshell: Intense excitement followed by intense boredom.

0:00 What a ridiculously long and unfortunately punny name for a game. Anyway, I've liked pretty much every Ratchet game to varying extents, so I can't imagine this will be very different. I like having the game on my hard drive, too, so I don't have to search for the disc.

0:01 A treasure map sits on a table and the menu screen appears over top. I adjust the brightness to the prescribed level and it seems really dark. R&C is supposed to be a bit dark, but still, this is ridiculous!

0:02 Hard difficulty is described as "Ye must have a death wish, me hearty!" This is just scary enough to get me to try Medium.

0:03 A storybook opens as a narrator tells a tale: "Once upon a time, there was a fearless young Lombax who gained fame throughout the galaxy by ..." Blah blah blah. Clank the robot was kidnapped by the "Zoni." Ratchet used a computer to get a clue -- a pirate named Darkwater who might have a key to the Zoni dimension. Transfer from storybook to full 3-D. A woman with a rocket pack, Talwyn, is with Ratchet as they hop onboard a mysterious ship.

0:05 A drunk-sounding robot, Rusty Pete, talks to the disembodied head of his departed captain. "Alas, poor cap'n. No one misses you but me!" "I miss you too, Rusty Pete." says the disembodied head/puppet. "You may not have me body, but you'll always have me heart." Heh. I love the animation. Big robot pirates sneak up behind Ratchet and Talwyn. The biggest of them puts Ratchet in his arm cannon and fires him into the next ship. "Whoooooooooa!"

Read the full review at Crispy Gamer

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Castle Crashers

Developer: The Behemoth
Publisher: Microsoft
Release Date: Aug. 27, 2008
System: Xbox 360
ESRB Rating: T
Official Web site

In a nutshell: Crash them castles.

0:00 I feel like I've been hearing about this game for decades. I played it for roughly two seconds at E3 and it seemed fun enough. But fun enough for an hour? We shall see.

0:01 I know this is game is best experienced as a multiplayer whack-fest (Dirty!) but, as usual during my lunch break, no one is around. Furthermore, there's not even anyone on my Xbox Live friends list. What are these people doing in the middle of a busy work day? You don't know what you've got 'til it's gone....

0:03 For a game that I thought was just about hacking and slashing, the controls and "How to Play" are surprisingly deep. Items, shops, combos, magic, leveling.... It looks like they really packed a lot in here.

0:06 After quite a bit of reading about all that stuff, we're on to the character select screen, which has a distinct The Simpsons Arcade Game vibe. I choose the green knight, because green is the most awesomest color.

0:07 My green guy is rocking out to some bards in a tavern, when another knight comes tumbling down a stairway, dead. The other celebrating knights run off to investigate, and I'm in control.

Read the full review at Crispy Gamer

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Rapala Fishing Frenzy 2009

Developer: Sand Grain Studios
Publisher: Activision
Release Date: Sept. 2, 2008
Systems: PS3 (reviewed), Xbox 360, Wii
ESRB Rating: E
Official Web site

In a nutshell: Just as boring as I imagine real fishing is.

0:00 I've never been fishing in real life, and the last fishing game I played was the mildly intriguing Super Black Bass on the SNES. But that didn't have Sixaxis motion controls!

0:01 Water washes over the Sand Grain logo. Some loading, then straight to a title screen with a picture of a fish chasing a lure and some twangy fiddle music.

0:02 During another, longer loading screen, the game scrolls some text about the surprising amount of bass below the Woodrow Wilson bridge in DC. Who knew?!

0:03 I start a new game, and two creepy-looking generic characters sit under a beach umbrella: a guy and a girl, both in breezy summer wear. I choose the guy. MALE PRIDE!

0:05 I've turned on the "Tutorial" option, so I dive into some "Open Fishing" on Lake Wylie at 6 a.m. Here's hoping the game will teach me how to fish.

Read the full review at Crispy Gamer

Monday, September 15, 2008

Rock Band 2

Developer: Harmonix
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Release Date: Sept. 14, 2008
Systems: Xbox 360 (reviewed), PS3, Wii (later release)
ESRB Rating: T
Official Web site

In a nutshell: Rockier and Bandier
0:00 Considering I played the original game for at least 100 hours, the "more than an hour" verdict at the end of this is almost a foregone conclusion.

0:10 I'm not counting the 10 minutes or so that it took to import my original Rock Band songs to my hard drive, but I am counting the roughly 10 minutes it took to unbox and assemble the new wireless drums and guitar, so it's really a wash.

0:11 An intro movie plays with a beat-up car driving down a dusty road with a full band playing on top. Another, bigger car comes barreling down in the other direction. This one also has a band, including a big, fat, shirtless singer swinging a mace at the end of his microphone cord. They're both singing Cheap Trick's "Hello There". The cars swerve to barely avoid hitting each other and the singer with the mace dives forward. Some ill-advised riding on the undercarriage of the nearly sideways car follows as the cars turn around and bash into each other. In the end they all fly through a Rock Band 2 billboard, leaving cartoon silhouettes in their wake. ROCK!

0:13 Creating save files and we're to a mostly nondescript menu screen. "Did you check out the impossible Battle yet?" asks a message at the bottom. "Prove you are worthy of owning the game early." Heh.

0:14 I know this game is meant to be played with a large group, but no one is around, so I guess it's a solo tour for me. I start with the drums, of course.

Read the full review at Crispy Gamer

Sunday, September 14, 2008

More "One Hour" Reviews

If you like Games for Lunch, you will probably additionally like the new "Hour Play" review format being rolled out at Pushing Play. Editor Jacob Karsmeyer lays out a detailed and thorough justification for why an hour is enough to get an idea of how a game feels:

Like books, movies, plays, radio shows, and any other form of entertainment, video games should be designed with a ‘hook’ to draw in players. Video game designers often design the first level of the game last, so that they can employ all of the tricks and techniques that they’ve learned throughout the game’s development. While a deeper understanding of a game can be achieved through extended play the major gameplay elements of a game can be experienced within the first hour. Usually players familiarize themselves with the game controls within the first few minutes of gameplay. Once familiar with the controls, the player sets out within the game world to encounter whatever challenges it has to offer. It is during this stage that the most accurate and relevant criticism can be offered. The player is no longer inhibited by any resistance to the control mechanisms in the game, and is completely focused on the challenges within the game world (beating the level, finishing the mission, etc), and how they are presented. This style of gameplay usually continues for an extended period of time, if it ends at all.
Despite my somewhat snarky comment on the site, it seem Karsmeyer came up with the idea completely on his own. Always nice to see others breaking free of the tyranny of the 60-hour playthrough.

Friday, September 12, 2008


Developer: Got Game Entertainment
Publisher: Got Game Entertainment
Release Date: Aug. 14, 2008
System: PC
ESRB Rating: E
Official Web site

In a nutshell: Whenever I see your smiling face/I have to smile myself...

0:00 I heard about this obvious Brain Age-alike through a press release and figured it was worth a shot. Who doesn't want to "feel better and think better" in "just five minutes a day," after all?

0:01 The splash screen has a goat quoting Dr. Mark Baldwin: "Improve confidence in all walks of life, from work to play." That's fine and all, but why is a goat saying it?

0:02 A bare-bones list of profiles pops up with some of the bounciest music I've ever heard. Catchy! The game requires my birth city and my favorite color or it won't let me play. That's a bit creepy.

0:03 "Hello and welcome to MindHabits," says a modern-looking cartoon woman with shortish black hair. This "award-winning" game is designed to give you a "more positive state of mind," she says. Then she talks up Dr. Mark Baldwin, five minutes a day, blah blah blah.

0:04 The "Thought of the Day" is from Ella Fitzgerald, about not giving up. Both cute and nauseating at the same time.

Read the full review at Crispy Gamer

Thursday, September 11, 2008

DT Carnage

Developer: Axis Entertainment
Publisher: AgeTec
Release Date: Sept. 4, 2008
Systems: PS2 (reviewed), PSP
ESRB Rating: E-10+

In a nutshell: Destruction Derby mixed with pure awfulness.

0:00 I literally did not know this game existed until it showed up in my mailbox. I don't even know what the "DT" is supposed to stand for. But I'm not proud. "If you send it I will play it for an hour and review it," that's my motto.

0:01 The game jumps right to the title screen, with an extremely generic picture of a car and some smooth jazz music over the top. The game then loads up an attract mode demo with surprisingly good-looking cars, a somewhat jumpy frame rate and more generic rock. The bare bones presentation reminds me a of an original PlayStation game, not entirely in a bad way.

0:03 After playing around with some options, it's off to the "League Conquest" mode. It was either that or the aptly named "Pick up & Play" mode.

0:04 "So you're the rookie," says a textbox with a disturbing picture of a red-headed instructor. "Let's see what you've got. You probably don't even know your left from your right yet, so I don't expect to be impressed." Hey, that's not fair! Left is the one where your hand makes an "L"!

Read the full review at Crispy Gamer

Soulcalibur IV

Developer: Namco
Publisher: Namco
Release Date: July 29, 2008
Systems: PS3 (reviewed), Xbox 360
ESRB Rating: T
Official Web site

In a nutshell: Welcome back to the stage of beating people repeatedly with swords.

0:00 I was a huge an of Soul Blade, a minor fan of Soulcalibur, kind of got back into Soulcalibur II, and totally skipped Soulcalibur III. Now you know, and knowing's half the battle.

0:01 This minute spent downloading a 16MB "update" for the game.

0:02 This minute spent creating save data, watching company logos fly in, and loading the menu.

0:03 Lightning flashes above the roof of a "Two Towers"-style spire. Some samurai guy (Mitsurugi?) stands holding a small red sword with a blinking eye inside it. He flashes back to the battle where he obtained the sword, and he seems to regret his actions. He holds up the sword and falls through the crystal floor into the tower below. Cut to Siegfried, who takes out his own sword. Cut to scantily-clad Ivy battling a girl in a suit of armor. Cut to Darth Vader, who turns around to see another samurai guy (is this one Mitsurugi? I don't remember). They fight and the light saber just bounces off the samurai sword harmlessly. How does that work?

0:05 Lava rocks fall around Siegfried as he approaches the tower, so he pulls a Sub-Zero and launches an ice attack with his sword. Meanwhile, the hulking, hideous, twisted Nightmare stands atop the tower engulfed in flames. A crystal sword sits with crystal bits hovering around it. One of the crystal bits turns into the SC4 logo. "Soulcalibur... FOUR" the announcer intones in a deep bellow. Man, that was random and incoherent. And long.

Read the full review at Crispy Gamer

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


Developer: Maxis
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Release Date: Sept. 7, 2008
Systems: PC (reviewed), Mac, Nintendo DS
ESRB Rating: E-10+
Official Web site

In a nutshell: SimEverything

0:00 I know I already covered the Spore Creature Creator in this very column, but I feel the full game is big enough to get another taste.

0:01 I'm not including in my count the 15 minutes or so it took to install the game, nor the 15 additional minutes it took to find and install a new graphics drivers. This is why I hate PC gaming, right here.

0:02 The EA logo on a starry background, then a bunch of 2-D critters fly into a black hole in the center of the Spore logo. The black holes turns into a galaxy, then a "sign-in" screen pops in and ruins the magic.

0:03 After logging in, a persistent bell chimes as the galaxy slowly spins. A few huge planets sit atop the spiral arms of the galaxy. I pick one at random to start a New Game.

0:04 In the Cell Stage, I will "nurture [my] creation from its humble aquatic origins to its evolution as a sentient species in the epic journey of Spore." Epic! I can choose a herbivore or a carnivore. Meatasaurus, plz! I choose Normal difficulty and name my planet Kyle's Orb-land. Heh. I crack me up.

Read the full review at Crispy Gamer

Monday, September 8, 2008

Guitar Hero: Aerosmith

Developer: Neversoft
Publisher: Activision
Release Date: June 29, 2008
Systems: Xbox 360 (reviewed), PS3, PS2, Wii
ESRB Rating: T
Official Web site

In a nutshell: Rock this way.

0:00 This and Rock the 80s are the only Guitar Hero games I haven't played yet, and my fake-guitar obsession knows no bounds, so I figured I'd give this disc a spin despite not being a huge Aerosmith fan. FYI, I'm using the Rock Band Stratocaster because a) it's better and b) it's the only one I have that works on the Xbox 360.

0:01 After a decent bit of loading, Steven Tyler and Joe Perry introduce the Neversoft logo. Pan to "NIPMUC" where there's a dance tonight. 2-D cut-outs of nerdy high school kids dancing, then Aeroesmith's van crashes through the wall and Tyler spills out and throws up the horns! People in the audience offer up contracts in deference to his extreme rocking. Backstage, Tyler hugs Perry and suddenly they're in "Aero Force One" flying to stadium gigs around the world. Seems suitably over-the-top for an intro. I really like the animation and art style.

0:02 So I'm not going to explain the gameplay much here because, come on, it's Guitar Hero. You know the drill by now.

0:03 The silver lady from the Just Push Play album cover is on the title screen. Seems appropriate. Let's dive into "quick play." Four of the eight initially available songs are by Aerosmith. The Kinks' "All Day and All of the Night" is the only one I really know, and it's a cover version. Phooey.

0:07 The cover version turns out to be surprisingly decent. I get a 25G "Sick as a Dog" achievement for my five star, Hard difficulty performance. I forgot how much better the background performers look in Guitar Hero when compared to the grainy, music-video style in Rock Band.

Read the full review at Crispy Gamer

Thursday, September 4, 2008

The Last Guy

Developer: Sony Computer Entertainment Japan
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment Japan
Release Date: Aug. 28, 2008
System: PS3
ESRB Rating: E10+
Official Web site

In a nutshell: Pac-Man meets Resident Evil

0:00 I wasn't too impressed with the slow, buggy online demo that let you run away from zombies on any Web site, but I did like the general concept. Here's hoping the PlayStation 3 version is a little better made.

0:01 After a BIG seizure warning and an obligatory User Agreement, a breathy announcer croaks out: "The... Last... Guy." It sounds like he's dying. A lot of red guys that look like men's room signs are marching along the title screen.

0:02 How to Play: Rescue the survivors in each zombie-infected town, lead them to the escape zone before the rescue ship arrives. Game Over if I'm captured by a zombie. Simple enough. A few pages of controls talk mainly about how to control the camera.

0:03 A TV test pattern comes up with the logo for U.R.F.: United Rescue Force. I get it -- it sounds like Earth!

0:04 A raspy breathy, tinny Japanese voice (with subtitles) tells the tale. "The year is 20XX," and a mysterious purple beam has transformed people into strange zombies. "Our planet is almost destroyed." Those who were in buildings survived and "have been holding their breath, hiding inside buildings ... awaiting rescue. ... You are the chosen one." As Neo might say... Whoa!

0:05 San Francisco is up first. I have 4 minutes to rescue 1,000 guys. Hey, if it's called The Last Guy, why are there so many guys to rescue? I'm obviously not the last one.

Read the full review at Crispy Gamer

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

MLB Power Pros 2008

Developer: 2K Sports
Publisher: Konami
Release Date: July 29, 2008
Systems: Wii (reviewed), PS2, DS
ESRB Rating: E
Official Web site

In a nutshell: Super cute happy fun baseball game time!
0:00 I haven't really read anything concrete, but I'm already a fan of the super-deformed characters and the simplistic, arcade-style baseball they seem to imply. I'm encouraged by the 2K and Konami names on the box, too.

0:01 After a few seconds of loading and logos, a ball sits on an oddly detailed field. Guitar-heavy rock comes in as heat haze obscures views of a lone pitcher and batter, both with small bodies and huge heads. Similarly deformed versions of a bunch of real-life players flash by alongside action photos of their real-life counterparts. "MLB Power Pros" yells the announcer, repeating the name again when I push the + button to start. We get it, it's the name of the game!

0:03 Bad sign: The game supports four different controllers! Usually I prefer they focus on one good control scheme. I go with just the Wii remote for now because I'm too lazy to go get the Nunchuk.

0:04 Good lord! The menu screen is crowded with 12 different gameplay options, including "baseball cards," "shop," and "MLB Life." Only one of these modes ("Wii Remote") seems to support my current Nunchuk-free control scheme. I try the "Home Run" derby as a simple intro.

Read the full review at Crispy Gamer

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People, Episode 1: Homestar Ruiner

Developer: Telltale Games
Publisher: Telltale Games
Release Date: Aug. 11, 2008
Systems: Wii (reviewed), PC
ESRB Rating: T
Official Web site

In a nutshell: Cooler than a bag full of fluffy-puff mashmallows.

0:00 I'm a cool, attractive person, and a somewhat lapsed fan of Strong Bad and Homestar Runner, so this game seems right up my alley! I warn you now that a lot of this review won't make sense if you aren't a fan of the site. I just don't have the inclination to explain every character and in-joke.

0:01 "No time for the e-mails right now. I've got OTHER plans for the lappy today." So says Strong Bad on the preview screen as he types in the command to launch the game.

0:02 Old-school synth-y chiptune music over the logos and title. A 3-D Strong Bad walks out in front of the title screen: "Check me out! ... I'm ready for my close-up!" The 3-D model looks generally authentic, but a little off, somehow.

0:04 The options include an interesting "Give hints" option. Let's keep that at "Medium" for now. Also, the main menu is set up like the HR home page, complete with audio commentary when I hover over options. My favorites: Strong Bad saying "Sah-vay low-ad" when I hover over "save/load." and Homestar declaring "Quitters never win" when I consider quitting.

0:05 I think I figured out the problem with the character models: The animation is too stiff and the mouth movement doesn't quite match the audio. Also, the faces look too pixilated. It's not awful, just noticeable.

Read the full review at Crispy Gamer