Friday, October 28, 2005

Games that didn't make the cut

This time of the year there are so many video games. I get three or four delivered every day. With a biweekly column, there's no way to review them all if I want to have more than two sentences apiece for each. But since I've sampled or in some cases played through these games I might as well make a couple of comments about the ones I couldn't squeeze in.

These are the games that I didn't review the week I reviewed Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney (brilliant mystery-adventure-comedy), Ultimate Spider-Man (stylish but a bit too much padding) and Sly 3 (fun action-adventure).

We Love Katamari

Katamari Damacy was this weird sleeper hit in which you are a tiny guy who pushes a ball around the floor. Things stick to the ball, which makes it bigger, and bigger, and you go from rolling up thumb tacks to rolling up trucks. We Love Katamari is the sequel. It tries out a few new ideas, but it's pretty much just an extension of the same game. The weird cut scenes aren't quite as weird, and it seems a little less amusing, either because it is less amusing or because I saw it all last year, but it's more-or-less as much fun as the original.

Why it didn't make it: Anything I had to say about this game I'd already said about the last one.

Trace Memory

Trace Memory is like a PC point-and-click adventure, only it's on the Nintendo DS. A little girl comes to a mysterious island to find her long lost father. He is nowhere to be found, and she explores the island with the help of a friend, amnesiac ghost. The story is pretty interesting and the puzzles are mixed. The dumbest thing is that at the end of each chapter you have to answer multiple choice questions on what you've just done, but some puzzles are quite entertaining. Not a great game, but fun.

Why it didn't make it: Just a matter of space. I couldn't squeeze more than three games in, and Phoenix Wright is also an adventure game for the DS and a much better one, so I went with that.

Nancy Drew: Last Train to Blue Moon Canyon

Every year HerInteractive comes out with two Nancy Drew games. On is generally kind of dumb, with a lot of arcade activities and poor puzzles, and the other is usually better. Oddly enough, I gave a review to the lesser one, Secret of the Old Clock, but not to the superior Blue Moon Canyon. This is simply because there were less interesting games to review at the time Old Clock was released. Canyon is a very good adventure game with generally intelligent puzzles. Some of the puzzles are quite difficult, notably a doll one, but it's an interesting game, well worth playing.

Why it didn't make it: Basically, I could have put both Blue Moon and Trace Memory in had I decided to simply devote my column to adventure games. That would have been fine if I hadn't actually written about two adventure games the previous time. I try and mix up the genres.

Legend of Kay

An action-adventure game in the tradition of the Legend of Zelda series, Kay is pretty abysmal in terms of story, with awful dialogue and acting, but it has very good Zelda-style gameplay.

Why it didn't make it: I am always nagging PR people to get me games before their release date so I can make my reviews timely. Kay came in rather late, and by that time I'd settled on the three games I would review. I could have dumped one and replaced it with Kay, but I would have really had to push myself to get through the game in the time I had, and while it was good, it wasn't necessarily better than the ones I was already reviewing. If the story had been good things might have been different.

Donkey Kong: King of Swing

Fun little GBA game in which you are able to grab onto objects and swing up higher. Simple but clever.

Why it didn't make it: Another situation where I would have had to dump a game I'd played through to do this one instead. It wasn't any better than what I had, but it's a fun game.

Why it didn't make it:
I loved the first Suffering game, which was cool and atmospheric. The sequel lacked the subtlety in terms of story and turned out to be more difficult. At a certain point I got killed over and over. Since I already had doubts about the game based on the first hour, I said screw it.

Why it didn't make it: It just wasn't as good as the first one.

Burnout: Legends

The PSP version of Burnout, which came out at the same time as Burnout: Revenge for the Xbox and PS2. Terrific game.

Why it didn't make it:PR people got it to me late. The review would not have been timely by then. I didn't even look at Revenge because I knew it was too old for a review, although I still have it and mean to check it out.

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