New 'Batman' Fails to Scare
Along with the dark, moody movie comes the game BATMAN BEGINS from Electronic Arts. This is a decent enough action-adventure game with shadowy, stealth elements. You get to save pretty Katie Holmes, too (but too bad you can't save her from Scientology, which is really scary). Speaking of scary, this game is not. Chris Nolan's movie touches on the nature of fear, and actually has some frightful moments. The game talks a lot about fear, but never inspires it in the gamer when danger is imminent. I'd suggest that all game producers the world over read about fear in books aside from the notes in a screenplay. The first chapter in American Purgatorio is a good start. For something more pop, try The Stand. Next time, please, scare me, make me shudder insanely, make me tremble, just one damn goosebump, I beg of you.
If you mooned over the frantic, electronica-inspired Lumines puzzle game for the PSP, you'll probably become addicted to METEOS for the DS. Meteos is kind of like a Tetrisonly it blasts off. By that I mean, line up the Meteos blocks with your stylus until you fill a column. Whoosh! Up they go, usually with more oomph than that solar sailing thing that Mrs. Sagan invested in and watched fall to the ground. If, however, you've let too many Meteos gather, getting them to launch is hard, like skinny David Spade trying to bench press 400 pounds. There's also a goal here, to save your world, as you zip to different planets in the "Star Trip" mode. It's a nice little extra that'll keep you coming back for more.
For: Nintendo GBA
I keep hearing young parents, faces scrunched and cooing, telling their kids that food is "delicious." It's a cloying ploy and kids should rebel. Yet in KIRBY'S CANVAS CURSE, the new Kirby, that ever-rolling ball of caffeinated wonder with the Charlie Brown smile, is actually delicious in its creativity. On the DS' touch screen, you draw lines with the DS stylus that make rainbows, rainbows that not only glow but protect Kirby from attack, rainbows that take Kirby into flight and even let him loop-the-loop if need be. In a way, each level is like the final chapter in D.H. Lawrence's The Rainbow, except the revelation of bondage is more visceral than cerebral. But the adventure is somewhat literary nonetheless.
For: Nintendo GBA
Nintendo has created a mini-franchise with WarioWare, the blink-quick avalanche of mini games that take three seconds each to play and become increasingly difficult as you go along. The twist in WARIOWARE: TWISTED is a motion sensor in the cartridge. Tilt, rock, and twist the GBA instead of pressing controls. The upside is it's more formidable to play than just mashing buttons. The downside is you'll probably whack someone accidentally when you play in the subway or on the bus. It took me some time to get a hang of how to, say, shave a man's face in three seconds with the motion detector, and I'm not sure the motion detector works that well all of the time. Twisted is not a life altering game. Instead, it's a commendable, if slightly flawed, addition to the WarioWare library.
For: Sprint PCS
The LG MM-535 has a biggish two-inch screen that is more than adequate for cell phone games. Yet the makers of PAC-MAN PINBALL still saw fit to break up the screen into a top and a bottom. The silver ball flows down from the top section; there is an unsettling screen flicker and then you see the bottom part of the playfield where the ball often drains due to the two screens. That's the way PC pinball games worked back in the day. It sucked then and it sucks now. Yet the game is rife with challenges, including a slot machine aspect. If you're a pinball fan, it's an addicting time killer, but that split screen makes about as much sense as sawing Paris Hilton in half to try to get her to two simultaneous parties.
Beach Mini Golf
For: Sprint PCS
Publisher: Digital Chocolate
If you're looking for cutsie windmills or Mimi from the Coney Island Mermaid Parade as some sort of beach candy, BEACH MINI GOLF, thankfully, ain't it. Instead, it's a vexing challenge with some maze-like holes giving you (phew!) 10 strokes to make par. Sure, the aiming function is a little off and the psychics feel like an alien made them for Enceladus, but those things make Beach Mini Golf winsomely wilder and wackier.
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