My daughter is completely in love with it and gets upset if I play without her, which poses a problem when you happen to review games for a living. My wife is in charge of paying the bills each month; at some point, she’s going to notice the hefty assortment of Toys ‘R’ Us charges on our credit card statement. The “it’s a write off!” excuse might not fly.
You expect certain things when you fire up a game of Wolfenstein. You know you’ll take down Nazis. You figure you’ll do this as roughneck series star BJ Blazkowicz. And you’re pretty sure there will be all sorts of over-the-top carnage along the way.
What you might not expect is a great story.
Conduit 2 is hardly perfect, but it’s much better than most shooters on the Wii. The action is fairly well paced and the boss battles are fun. More importantly, though, the game never takes itself too seriously, injecting humor into the action — such as an enemy who shouts, after you’ve been shooting him for quite a while, “That’s it! I’m through negotiating!” The story, though, is pretty thin and some moments will have you wondering what the heck is going on. The multiplayer mode is a welcome addition, given the natural fit between online play and shooters. For parents, this is an example of the Wii’s limited online capabilities working in their favor, as they can easily monitor who children are playing with.
Sheeple Chase could be a really fun game for kids and parents — if it weren’t so mind-bogglingly difficult. With bright graphics and very basic controls, you might expect a slightly challenging, but fun, racer. Instead, though, this app quickly veers into something that will confound even core gamers. The only way to win is to lose time and again until you’ve memorized the course and perfect your timing on when to turn and accelerate. The game’s many puns are hit and miss the first time — but after you’ve seen them several times, they quickly lose their appeal. Ultimately, this is an app that shows promise, but is hampered by its lack of focus on how to please its targeted audience.
There’s nothing particularly original in TouchMaster: Connect. All of the games are offshoots of familiar other titles, such as the “Match 3 or more” gameplay of Bejeweled or the “knock the blocks” style of Breakout or “tic tac toe trivia” of Hollywood Squares. That said, they don’t need to be original. This game brings them all together in one cartridge. If one isn’t suited to your tastes, there are plenty of other options. There is, literally, something for everyone. The game is generous with its rewards and achievements, which encourages you to keep playing. And the new social aspects — especially the leader boards — will be a big hit with the series’ avid fan base. This is the fourth game in the Touchmaster series.
The Rune Factory series is a hybrid game that appeals to a niche audience. It’s one part farming, one part finding a mate and one part action. That’s an odd combination and won’t appeal to some people — but those who enjoy this type of title, they will find plenty to like here. The game offers lots of customization and numerous things to do (including tilling crops, cooking, crafting, fishing, or just wandering the town to talk with people). The town is actually one of the most interesting aspects of the game, as every citizen seems to have a distinct personality and their own quirks. That’s vastly different than many similar games, where non-player characters are more robotic. Combat is challenging — characters move freely and in a very fluid method. It’s anything but boring — a common complaint in earlier entries in the series.
Adrenalin Misfits won’t be a game that people talk about in six months. Sadly, many will have forgotten about it. But that’s not to say they won’t have fun with it today. It’s the gaming equivalent of a potato chip: fun to enjoy for a brief moment, but something that leaves you hungry for more. The controls are inexact and might cause some frustration, but not to the extent that families won’t get past it. (Gaming enthusiasts are more likely to notice the problems.) The characters are largely forgettable and try too hard to be edgy, but being able to use your Xbox Live avatar to board down a mountain is novel. Both single- and multiplayer modes (split screen on the same TV) are fun and can be a good bonding experience for families — and might get the kids excited about some real outdoor winter activities.