The main character is a female soldier armed with explosive shells, requiring you to be a certain distance from your target to blow it up. With such a low overhead camera angle, you'll be lucky if it's even visible on the screen! The graphics are seriously blah. I can forgive the low resolution but does everything need to look so washed out? You have to press the Z button to pick up stuff, and that's annoying because there's always a lot of junk lying around. Couldn't I just run over it instead?
Alien Syndrome tries to add depth via a character leveling system and... crafting (oh no). I set my "leveling setting" to "auto" because I didn't even feel like messing with that garbage. The aliens are not particularly frightening and I got tired of turning back the hordes. At least you can save your progress at any time... or so it would seem. Don't be surprised if you find that save option greyed out at the worst times! Never give Alien Syndrome the benefit of the doubt because it will let you down every time. This game is abysmal. © Copyright 2017 The Video Game Critic.
Each mission is roughly 15 minutes in length as you shoot soldiers, collect crates, rescue captives, and protect vehicles. I love how enemy soldiers hobble around on their plastic stands. Sometimes they parachute in, but too often they materialize right next to you! Timmy, armed with a Nerf gun, has inexplicably been reduced to the size of an army man figure himself.
Gun battles are the crux of the game so it's a real shame the aiming controls suck so much. Your reticule is sensitive and inexact, and even when you're right on target your bullets tend to spray all over the place! Enemies take a good five hits to knock over and your ammo is severely limited. It's hard to tell where enemy bullets are coming from, and it takes forever for Timmy to turn and face the enemy while getting pelted with shots.
That said, Soldiers of Misfortune isn't all bad. The environments are small enough to encourage exploration and the treasure-hunting aspect is fun. The challenge is definitely there. It takes a lot of effort to complete each mission and I was always looking forward to what the next one had in store. The musical score is quite good but the sound effects are minimal. In the scheme of things Army Men: Soldiers of Misfortune is your standard Wii fare, but please don't mistake that for a ringing endorsement. © Copyright 2017 The Video Game Critic.
The game is composed of individual "movies" that rip off films like Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and Terminator. The first-person perspective automatically guides you through war-ravaged streets, crumbling ruins, graveyards, and deep-sea trenches. The game comes with four sets of "3D" glasses, but the 3D effect is an absolute joke. The images have no sense of depth and everything is bathed in hazy blue and yellow hues. You won't be able to switch over to the 2D mode fast enough.
The graphics are about Dreamcast quality, but the stages are incredibly boring and lacking in detail. Whether you're exploring a tomb or flying around a space station, it feels like you're going in circles, shooting the same targets over and over again. In the deep sea level there are several times when you take aim at a boring green pipe spewing one explosive canister after another. The scenery is indestructible except for the occasional wooden crate, and power-ups are represented by large rotating icons. There are no alternate attacks, so that rules out any strategy.
The game's opening level, Insect Invasion, is an absolute chore to complete! Giant ants pelt you with green projectiles that home in from off the screen, making you the target of endless cheap hits. Poorly-placed checkpoints ensure you'll be forced to relive the misery again and again. The game's bosses are as generic as they come, particularly that spinning "orb" in the space station. Upon completing each "movie" you're provided with a score and statistics, but none of the information is recorded. That's fine, because there's no way in hell that you'll ever want to play this again. © Copyright 2010 The Video Game Critic.
Brave and the Bold is based on the animated TV series, and I love its tongue-in-cheek style. The banter between Batman and his partner is downright hilarious at times - arguably the highlight of the game! A few lines even poke fun at video games ("Hey, didn't we just pass that mountain?") The game itself plays like an interactive cartoon, with rich scenery that looks hand-painted. The museum in the opening level is fun and imaginative, and I love the "cats throughout history" exhibits. Later levels are set in less-compelling sewers, caves, mines, and subways. The game often feels like an homage to the classic era, as you dodge steam vents, run along conveyor belts, and avoid falling stalactites.
You'll grapple platforms, pummel thugs, and gather up the gold coins they drop. In addition to gangsters, you'll beat up robots, gorillas, zombies, and even swarms of bugs! Taking the tutorial is necessary to understand all of your moves, but it's the wide variety of attack options that keeps the fighting fresh. The motion controls are used effectively, mainly to unleash heavy attacks. You can point at the screen to mark targets for your batarangs, which is a lot of fun. It's especially satisfying to set off a string of floating mines. You'll fight your share of bosses, but most of these battles have some sort of twist to keep things interesting. For example, Cat Man will temporarily transform you into small caped feline crusaders!
The stages are ideal in length, your progress is automatically saved, and the jazzy musical score is fantastic. A gadget screen lets you buy and upgrade items, but it's hardly necessary because the game is so easy. I'm not a fan of super-hard games, but a little challenge is needed to add tension. Part of the problem lies with the unlimited respawns, which makes you feel like you're playing the game with a cheat code. It's a shame because Batman: The Bold and the Brave definitely gets the "hard stuff" right, combining old-school fun with new-school technology. A difficulty option would have gone a long way, but it's still a fun trip. © Copyright 2010 The Video Game Critic.
Yeah, The Bigs for the Wii is a real trainwreck. To pitch, you hold the Wi-mote in a neutral position, and then drop it down while contorting your wrist in an unnatural manner. Oh yeah, that's how people throw in real life! Swinging the bat uses a more natural motion, but with the nun-chuck attached it's very awkward. In addition, there's a noticeable lag you need to compensate for, and you can't check your swing!
Even when you get the hang of pitching and hitting, the fielding is atrocious. Infielders let balls roll right by, and outfielders slide in the grass for no discernable reason. Throwing the ball between bases is the worst of all. The manual says to flick the controller towards the base, but it might as well say "Good luck, you [expletive] bastard!" Thank God there's a secret, undocumented way of throwing the ball - just press the directional pad! Knowing this tidbit of information makes the game immensely more playable.
As bad as the controls are, the Bigs has its share of amusing moments. Using a power-up causes the entire screen to turn blue, prompting my friend Jonathan to inquire, "When did the Predator become a catcher?!" When both teams use power-ups at once, a "duel mode" kicks in, zooming in on the eyes of the batter and pitcher in an unintentionally hilarious manner. But the ultimate highlight of the game is its home-plate collisions, during which both players perform drum-roll motions to give their player the upper hand (that makes sense!).
The graphics are modest at best. The stadiums look jaggy, and the non-blinking, expressionless players look like zombies. Once we grasped the controls, my friend Steve and I had some fun with The Bigs, but I don't know if it had more to do with the gameplay or the sheer absurdity of it all. There's a fun, arcade-style game buried here somewhere, but good luck finding it under the smoldering mass of misguided controls and last-generation graphics. © Copyright 2007 The Video Game Critic.
Unfortunately the difficulty takes forever to ramp up, and I felt like I should be having more fun than I was. Core is a shooter like Cosmic Ark (Atari 2600, 1982) where you control a stationary cannon in the center of the screen that fires a laser in four directions. You try to blast blocks moving across the screen, but their movements are designed to trick you into shooting at the wrong times. Once again it drags on for too long, and by the time the game was over I had no desire to ever play it again.
Void is a more inventive game, although you might call it a 2D version of Katamari Damacy (Playstation 2, 2004). You freely move a pixelated black circle around the screen attempting to "catch" black squares while avoiding white ones. Your black circle gradually increases in size, but you can press a button to reset it. It's easier to swallow blacks dots when large but harder to avoid the white ones, so it's a balancing act. Runner is a side-scrolling platformer that pays homage to classics like Moon Patrol and Pitfall. Your blocky character looks like something straight out of an Odyssey 2 game as he hops over obstacles while collecting gold bars. You get unlimited continues but the game is tiresome.
Fate is a side-scrolling shooter where you move a spaceman along a curving rail, firing at aliens while avoiding their projectiles. Once again, it's a neat concept that wears out its welcome after about five or ten minutes. I was hoping multiplayer would improve the experience, but it was very confusing and setting up the controllers is an absolute nightmare!
I also take issue with the game menus which try to incorporate elements of the game. If you haven't played the game yet, these menus are confusing as hell. Overall Bit.Trip is very artistic, humorous, and gets an "A" or originality. Unfortunately, it would have been better had these games been short and sweet like the classics that inspired them. © Copyright 2013 The Video Game Critic.
In large form you'll be firing missiles every which way, but you can't avoid objects entering from the right. It's a shame the camera doesn't zoom out at this point. What ends up happening is that pieces continuously break off as new ones latch on. It's pretty cool at first, but once the novelty wears off, you're left with little strategy and plenty of chaos. Be sure to crank up the difficulty to at least "pilot" (if not "ace") or you'll find yourself racking up 17 extra ships on top of your six continues!
As you might imagine, the two-player simultaneous mode is crazy, since you can't tell where one player begins and the other ends! Despite its novel premise, the visuals are terribly bland. Not only does the game toss the same old enemies at you over and over again, but the landscapes are incredibly uninspired - almost barren. Apparently the developers put more effort into the editors that let you design your own ships and stages, but I really don't see the point. Hollow and unfulfilling, BlastWorks is less of a blast and more of a bust. © Copyright 2008 The Video Game Critic.
Boom Blox side steps being judged on its graphics by adopting a simplistic, cartoonish style. To throw, you lock onto your target (via the pointer), and then hurl the ball with a throwing motion. Spicing up the action are special blocks that can explode, vanish, or set off chain reactions. There are dozens of intriguing game variations, including some with point values printed on the side of each block. Boom Blox is absolutely gangbusters when played against one or more friends. As you take turns targeting the teetering structure, there's a sense of excitement, strategy, and anticipation. The suspense really builds as you hope the player before you doesn't notice the devastating shot you've lined up in your mind. You may have a sore arm the next day, but you'll still want a rematch.
My friends gave Boom Blox a solid "A" for the multiplayer action, but I found the single player modes less compelling. These offer a more puzzle-oriented experience as you try to take down structures in the fewest possible throws. It's only mildly addicting, and the "goodies" you unlock are mainly just items for use in the "create mode". The create mode is a powerful editor that lets you construct your own stages, but most gamers will only tinker with it briefly. Solo play doesn't do this game justice, but if you have one or more friends on hand, Boom Blox may be the ultimate Wii experience. © Copyright 2008 The Video Game Critic.
Bash Party offers a wider variety of challenges including targeting blocks of your color only or knocking small blue gems off larger structures. In addition to throwing, some stages let you use slingshots and cannons. New block types include "virus blox" and "change blox", and diverse scenery ranges from under the sea to outer space. This is a blatant case of more being less. When playing with friends, we would select a random stage only to find ourselves dazed and confused.
Unlike the first Boom Blox, you can't just look at the screen and instantly know what to do. The objectives are often nebulous and the stage designs are boring. Heck, I couldn't even get psyched up about the pirate stages! Lacking the pick-up-and-play quality of its predecessor, Bash Party is the ultimate party killer. The best thing about this sequel is the renewed appreciation it gives you for the original Boom Blox. © Copyright 2010 The Video Game Critic.
The stages are very old-school in design with their spiked pits, moveable blocks, collapsing platforms, and deadly water. The pacing is slow and methodical as you instruct your blob to transform into useful objects like a ladder, hole, trampoline, bowling ball, and an anvil. The early levels tend to hold your hand but later you're expected to figure things out for yourself. Shadowy creatures often stand in your way, but they can be disposed of by creating a hole or squishing them with a rock.
A Boy and his Blob has the look of an interactive storybook. The rich backgrounds look hand-painted, although small objects in the foreground can be hard to make out (like snails or frogs). I've never claimed video games were art, but there is definitely art in this game. From the dreamlike quality of moon-swept forests to the eye candy of a colorful city skyline, there are some beautiful sights. Complementing the attractive visuals is a serene, orchestrated music track. The sound effects are minimal, but it's actually nice to play a "quiet" game for a change. I especially enjoyed the stages with the gently-falling rain.
There's a lot to like, but A Boy and his Blob takes too long to gain traction, and the early stages are downright sleep-inducing! There is little sense of excitement, although that huge cobra boss certainly got my attention. Even in the advanced stages I could only play for short sessions. The game fails to explain some key concepts, but I suspect it was designed that way to evoke the "wonder of discovery". That's fine, just as long as the player knows what he's getting into. Thrill seekers should avoid this, but cerebral gamers should appreciate the innocent charm of a Boy and his Blob. © Copyright 2011 The Video Game Critic.
Assuming the role of "the new kid", you freely explore a private campus while accepting "missions" and attending classes. You'll play pranks, escort nerds to their lockers, steal papers from teachers' desks, humiliate the bullies, and kiss the girls. The classes assume the form of surprisingly enjoyable mini-games, including word puzzles (English), rhythm games (Music), and a frog dissection that makes good use of the Wii pointer (Biology). The motion controls also come in handy for aiming a slingshot or shaking loose from a disciplinarian. The Wii-mote and nun-chuck are used to punch with each hand, but the loose controls can be a liability when you're required to execute well-timed combinations.
Bully's graphics appear to be about Xbox quality. The people look chunkier than the smooth 360 models, and lousy shadowing makes the lead character look like he has a bloody nose. The environments are still fascinating however, although "fog" tends to obscure buildings in the distance. Does the graphic degradation hurt the gameplay? A little bit, especially considering how much time you spend simply exploring the sprawling campus.
Bully's storyline is conveyed via excellent cut-scenes that incorporate realistic high school humor with excellent voice acting. Likewise the playful music perfectly matches the juvenile tone of the game. Bully has a ton of brief load screens, but these aren't nearly as colorful as those on the 360, and I've never heard my Wii thrash so much. The two-player mini-games might seem like an afterthought, but if you give them a chance you'll have a ball! At its core, Bully is just as playable on the Wii, but I'd have to give a slight edge to the 360 version for aesthetic reasons. © Copyright 2008 The Video Game Critic.
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Screen shots courtesy of IGN.com, Family Friendly Video Games, MobyGames.com, Cheat Code Central