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December 2008

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Spider Jerusalem

Video Game reviews

Continuing with my "posts based on votes" policy, I'm moving on to write a couple of brief videogame reviews. I've played some good stuff recently, and wouldn't mind having a chat about it.

Elite Beat Agents - Nintendo DS

I picked up EBA for $25.00 at K-Mart only a few days ago. It has been my obsessions ever since. If you've never heard of it before, EBA is a rhythm game. Music plays, you must complete particular actions in time with the music. You are in control of a mysterious presumably government organisation - the Elite Beat Agents. From all over the world you capture cries of distress. The agents rush to the scene to use the power of dance and motivate the hapless character in need of assistance. The first mission sees you helping a 17 year old babysitter get her charges to bed whilst working up the courage to ask out her ideal boyfriend. Later levels see you help a pimping Leonardo da Vinci impress a disinterested Mona Lisa, a pug puppy find his way home, a mother change the weather, white blood cells dressed as naughty nurses beat off a virus, a baseballer defeat a giant magma monster, a little girl call home her dead father, and eventually chase off an alien invasion. And that's right - all through the power of music and dance. The songs are great, ranging from pop-punk like Avril Lavine, to Queen, to David Bowie, to Jamiroquai - even a Chicago ballad. The agents are as serious as death in their Men-in-black suits, even as they dance crazy. This game is power Japan - and pure crack. It has everything that makes you keep playing in Guitar Hero with the added bonus of a fantastic sense of humour. I've been pushing the difficulty levels further and further, and its been awesome. I highly recommend this game for any DS owners out there.

9/10

Runaway: A Road Adventure - PC

I earned my chops as a videogamer in the 90's where graphic adventure games were all the rage, and Lucasarts meant more than "shonky Star Wars tie-ins". I still use Monkey Island references in conversations (usually to blank looks) and throw around Sam and Max-isms where I can. So when I encountered Runaway and reviewed its packaging, I figured I was going to love the hell out of it. "An old-school adventure game" it seemed to cry, and the animation looked like it would be reminiscent of Monkey Island 3. However, it didn't take me long to realise that my hopes weren't necessarily to be. Firstly, I read the game booklet which was overlong, badly written and kept making excuses for itself. That was the initial hint that the game wasn't going to offer all I was hoping for. Once I started playing, it became even clearer. The sense of humour the game was promising was absent. The main character started monologuing and telling the story in the most frustratingly long-winded, inane way imaginable. Here was the guy I was supposed to empathise with - and he was annoying! More to the point, I started to see this guy as a bit of a Mary -Sue (or whatever the male equivalent of that is) - he was a Physics PhD with the skills of MacGyver, apparently a charming and lovable guy that everyone thought was cool, a bit of a womaniser, and somewhat athletic. All that, and all the guy could do between monologues was whine. Blah. The Spanish team who made the game gave it a cool look, but unfortunately used a TERRIBLE writer, and equally poor voice actors (though I think they suffered more from the writing then their own lack of ability). The puzzles - and as an adventure game, this is where it all hinged - were okay. Some were great - some were 'meh'. Some were predictably frustrating, and without the humour and fun of the old Lucasarts classics, I wasn't motivated to spend my time pixelhunting. I used a walkthrough for a number of puzzles simply because I couldn't be bothered. The game was best when its European-ness (it's a Spanish developed game) shone through. One of the middle chapters has you working with a crew of stranded drag queens to stage a daring rescue, and involves creating makeshift bullets with gunpowder and lipstick dispensers, amongst other things. Later you have to experiment with creating new drugs with a Rastafarian herbalist - and yes, you do partake. There are some sublime moments with secondary characters that make the game tremendous fun - but the main character never really gets off your nerves, which is a huge let down. Still, the game doesn't take that long to play, and if you use a playguide to get you through the more obtuse puzzles, you'll get something out of it. If it's in a bargain bin (it was when I bought it - $7.00) then it's worth playing.

6/10

I'm rocking through some other games at the moment - I've started playing Sacred on the PC, I'm thinking of hitting Morrowind, I'm still playing Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift, and I'm a little way through both Fable and Mass Effect and need to return to each. I shall of course let everyone know what I thought when the time comes!

Comments

Jumpin' Jack Flash kicked my butt in Breezin', but the stupid song before it was harder. In Cruisin', it was the other way round. Currently in Sweatin' I'm trying to beat goddamn Canned Heat, which was the song I disliked the most in Cruisin' just cos the level didn't seem to play in time with the song...

When I lived on college I had a friend who had all the Ouendan (I think there's two sequels?) and kept trying to make me play them with him. Kinda wish I had now!