You’re going to look like the love child of Billy Elliot and Billy Banks when you give EYETOY PLAY2 a spin. The gimmick? Use the EyeToy camera peripheral (included!) to put yourself in the game so your flailing hands, not a gadget, become the controller. At first glance, this offering seems to be a dance of a thousand games (or a hundred) with its 75 minigames and dozen mainstays. Even though the minigames aren’t all that, the baseball game rocks if you hit the ball with a hand chop and alacrity (channel Gallagher whacking a watermelon here). And the ping pong game is fun, too, if only to watch the opponents fold, chagrined in defeat. Then, there’s the air guitar thing. OK, I’m a rhythm-challenged nerd, but you seem to have to have the chops of the Edge to play the thing. I prefer the boxing game, in which I knock over big bruisers with my bare fists (which ain’t never gonna happen in real life). But splash some sake on my face to wake me, because this punching feels pretty darn real.
Hey. I’m talking Badtz-Maru here. If you think HELLO KITTY ROLLER RESCUE is for kids, then you probably think Entourage is for poseurs from Hollywood. Look, this isn’t the newest, most creative game in the world, but the idea of controlling Badtz, one of the cutest, baddest, won’t-take-no-bull characters in modern history (Chloe from 24 being the other) is just irresistible. And the plot is positively insane, in a good way: This lunatic called Block-o sees that after kids get gifts, they throw out the boxes. Since he looks like a box, he perceives a serious dis. He won’t bug wannabe Supreme Court Justice John Roberts about it, but he will destroy the earth. Play 20 of the most popular Sanrio characters to set Block-O straight. Did I mention the game has Badtz-Maru?
The New York Times‘ Matt Richtel was probably right in taking MADDEN NFL 2006 to task for not having enough brand new features to rationalize the $50 price tag. Yet if you’re a football nut in the way embattled Nobel Prize Winner John Robert Schrieffer was nutty about theories of superconductivity, you just have to have the game. Yeah, the new QB Vision is hard to work. So turn the damn thing off, if you like. What’s cool? You get to create a player from the genes on forward. (Don’t tell those pesky, so-called pro-lifers, OK?) And whether you want to crack his head or laud him for his individuality (I prefer the latter), the game has prodigal Ricky Williams, who has returned to the Miami Dolphins. Run, Ricky, run!
GUMBY VS. THE ASTROBOTS is cooler than The Fantastic Four’s Reed Richards in the stretching department. (Wouldn’t you love to see a Celebrity Deathmatch with those two?) Here, you wander across Toyland because those infernal Blockheads have hired these things called Astrobots to imprison Gumby’s pals, say it ain’t so, books. Here, you get to move from book to book, running, jumping, stretching and morphing (’cause you’re clay and you can) to check out the various worlds inside the tomes. Too bad The Kite Runner and In the Hand of Dante aren’t included. But I’m real glad My Old Man and The Historian aren’t.
Allow me, just for a minute, to leave the dog days of summer gaming—when the great releases are few and far between—to talk about a critic. Even though the Times ignored him in their piece, it was really Philadelphia Inquirer game writer Dennis McCauley (and his GAMEPOLITICS.COM) who broke the story to the media about the mod-unlockable sex scenes within the PC version of Grand Theft Auto San Andreas. Yeah, McCauley’s spent a little too much time reporting on GTASA‘s sex. But if you look further into the blog, you see the beauty of journalism beyond the boring tricks and tips ala gamespot.com. What’s present is real opinion about the politics of gaming, from Schumer ranting against the upcoming 25 to Life to the unending lawsuits claiming that video game violence makes kids kill people. It’s not just worth a look; it’s worth a bookmark.
The questions for KILLER 7 are these: Is it all style and no substance, and is the style good enough to keep you gunned up for 30 hours of gaming? The art is comic book meets animé, and that’s cool, especially when you add the noir-like script and admirable voice acting. The biggest twist here, however, is the fact that you can become any one of seven personalities that lie within a wheelchair-confined hit man. In that way, you can attempt to save the world from a killer virus. What doesn’t work well is the actual gameplay, which is the same and then the same again. It’s almost like having a pretty, Stepford Wife robotic shell with not that much underneath to keep you going. Yet there’s a shallowness that actually enhances the look of the thing—but not enough to make me play the whole game.