Cowboys and vampires? Alright, it’s been done before, as far back as 1959 in the movie Curse of the Undead. But it hasn’t been done much in video games, and that’s part of what makes DARKWATCH a hoot to play. The gamemakers actually create suspense really well, when they’re not throwing so many monsters on the screen that the tension gets a little lost. As outlaw Jericho Cross (cheesy Biblical reference here for the Pat Robertson in you) you’ve got to stop the various vampires before they wreak havoc on Jericho’s Western world. And Jericho thought he was going to retire from the world of crime and ride into the sunset? Well, ride he does. But you know what sunset means, don’t you? It means vampires up the wazoo.
Usually, the thought of clicking through an role-playing game holds about as much allure for me as drinking the floodwaters of the Katrina-ridden French Quarter. But DUNGEON SIEGE II is fairly different. Sure, it’s full of magic, monsters, and fantasy, the usual suspects. However, the varied allies, including pets that become warrior-tough, are really engaging. And the graphics, especially during spell-casting, are so lurid and imaginative, you feel you’re some old-ass psychedelics-ingesting hippie. What a trip. Did the ghost of Jerry Garcia work on this game?
Developer: Backbone Entertaiment
Sanguine, I head into the post-Labor Day doldrums because the most wonderful time of the year, Halloween, is near. Believing the early Grim Reaper catches the worm, Konami released the first of the Halloween games, DEATH JR., and I played it with alacrity. It showed early, great promise as the opening movie showcased a kind of Nightmare Before Christmas meets Addams Family feel. Your creepy friends are in turmoil, thanks to Death Jr.‘s Pandora’s Box jones, and DJ’s gotta fix it. The limited edition I was sent looked cool, with a soundtrack and a comic book on a separate disc. DJ even moves with personality, as if his scythe is just a bit too heavy for this skull-faced little tyke. But after all that, the thing becomes a not-that-compelling Ratchet & Clank meets Devil May Cry. It plays without a lot of story and DJ doesn’t even talk. This is a slightly above average game that, with some more work, could have been a great game for the PSP. Instead, after a dozen hours of play, Death Jr. heads to the scariest of graveyards, the used game pile. Too bad.
Who let the dogs out? Nintendo, Nintendo. If the company can get the new Pokemon generation on board, NINTENDOGS, the latest in virtual pets, could be the killer app for the DS. After all, this thing sold 700,000 copies in its first three weeks in the Land of the Rising Sun. Not only are these cute critters close to the real thing in a photorealistic sense; the mind says they feel real. That’s because you can pet them on the DS touchscreen. When you do they squint and almost smile, bark and look at you Stepford-ly, like Katie gazes at Tom. (Which is not to say Katie’s a dog or a Nintendogs’s a Holmes.) Because the Nintendo DS has a microphone, you can name your dog, call him and teach him tricks. Nintendogs won’t help keep you warm on a three dog night, but you won’t sneeze, either. These are hypoallergenic dogs, you see.
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Developer: SCE Studios London
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.
Hello Kitty Roller Rescue
Publisher: Namco Hometek Inc.
Developer: Namco Hometek Inc.
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?