Play Ball With the Beasties or Go Smarty-Pants With a Stripper-Agent

When the pseudo-hip narrator in this latest version of street roundball compared the game to poets reading literature to refine their chops, it hooked me immediately. In the play of NBA STREET V3 itself, you pull off these sci-fi Mr. Incredible moves that feel like Kevin Garnett meets Gumby meets Alien vs. Predator (a good thing). And even though the unlockable Beastie Boys are unbelievably pumped up from their pencil-necked geek reality (virtual steroids?), playing with them on your side in the Cage is almost more fun than watching the wondrous Fred Jones win the slam dunk at the All-Star game last year. A true feat.

It's always a plus when you can play as a female since so few games let you. It's always a negative when the woman moves like a stripper when she's supposed to be a smarty-pants agent for the CIA and MI6, as is the case in DEATH BY DEGREES. In this Tekken fighting-game spinoff starring Nina Williams, a/k/a the Ultimate Assassin, you're in one massive chop-socky movie where, as in Tekken, combo fighting moves rule the roost. There's a slew of weapons (wild swords slash and draw spraying blood). But the gameplay, despite the fact that you can burst organs with Nina's Critical Strike move, isn't that compelling. Finally, the middling graphics don't make you want to stay for the whole game. It's a fair bit of fun for a while, though, and the package includes an extra disc, a demo of Tekken 5, which looks pretty enticing.

  • Check out reviews of all the latest and greatest games (updated every week), along with past faves in NYC Guide.


    For: GameCube, PlayStation 2, Xbox
    Publisher: Electronic Arts
    Developer: EA Canada

    For: Playstation 2
    Publisher: Namco
    Developer: Namco

  • Check out reviews of all the latest and greatest games (updated every week), along with past faves in NYC Guide.

    For: PC, PlayStation 2, Xbox
    Publisher: ARUSH
    Developer: Cyberlore

    You may be disappointed to learn that the most elating thing about this Hef-meets-The-Sims offering is the fact that you can create and run the magazine yourself, which is often engaging for a nerd journalist such as myself. With regard to the sex, well, it doesn't go far enough—it's just topless. (Even Jayne Mansfield took off her underpants for Playboy and that was the '50s.) Remember Virtual Vixens, the X-rated sci-fi PC game of about a decade ago in which you had to try really hard to make the women have an orgasm before you did? If you didn't, you'd get chided. Now, that was Clinton-era cool. Of course, this is Playboy in the time of Bush, not bush, and there is no such attempt at Vixens' orgasmic equality in this game. Almost makes you think that nudity is bad. Don't believe it.

    For: Nintendo DS
    Publisher: Nintendo
    Developer: Nintendo

    Break out the Adderall! There isn't much in video game history that's more fast-paced than Wario for the DS. These 180 five-second games test your reflexes and your memory with ever-maddening difficulty on the touch screen, which is kinda cruel because you're laughing some of the time as you follow the commands of the comic, mustachioed baddie. You even get to use the DS microphone; just blow into it mic to play 'em. The micro-games and animations are more manically intricate than the previous Warios, so you won't feel any sort of ennui.

    For: GameBoy Advance
    Publisher: Nintendo/Capcom
    Developer: Flagship

    Even though it's a GameBoy Advance release, The Minish Cap offers what all the Zelda games are best at: a role-playing experience with jubilant optimism and Frank Capra-era heart. Unabashedly old school, the fight to save the Princess Zelda (who is turned to stone; no, not by Medusa) is rife with twists and turns in which Link shrinks down into the miniature world of the Minish and dons a cap that's also a cheeky bird who helps you out during the game. There's the requisite sword-fighting bravery, monster-filled adventures, and the ability to save the girl at the end. The sun sets, and you feel chest-puffingly heroic—at least until you look up to see what's real, wishing you could banish it all to one of the game's massive dungeons.

    For: Xbox
    Publisher: Electronic Arts
    Developer: Oddword Inhabitants

    If you think Patti Smith is utterly pretty with gray hair and age on her, and that Sphinx cats and naked mole rats are beautiful, you'll appreciate Oddworld Stranger's Wrath. You're a bounty hunter in need of an operation (is he really a girl?) and outlaws by the dozen block your progress. As its Clint Eastwood-inspired Stranger and spaghetti western locales combine with space cowboy sci-fi suspense, the game's silliness catches you off guard. OSW is the most happily offbeat game of the year thus far. For instance, while PETA wouldn't appreciate it, you use sci-fi animals like the wise-ass Chippunks as crossbow ammo. By the looks on their faces, the animated animals hate it. You'll love it.

    For: PlayStation 2
    Publisher: Sony
    Developer: Angel Studios

    Black Monday is the British version of the shooting and driving genre, and while the gritty script to this sequel is full of "fucks" to make the game feel realistic, it seems like the developers wanted to "fuck" the eager gamer by putting this onto the market before it was completely debugged. Aiming to shoot is a pain, and camera angles induce a kind of David Foster Wallace-feeling of overly self-aware paranoia because the walls and corners seem to want to defeat you more than the thugs do. The potential here was great; you really want to live on the streets of London and feel immersed in its underbelly and the interesting characters herein. But the game's flaws are like strong gusts of wind blowing you off track.

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