Electronic-game reviews

Thursday, October 5th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Dot diva

Maker: Namco
Rating: 3 1/2 stars
System: Sony PlayStation, Nintendo 64, Sega Dreamcast
Price: $29.99
Players: Up to 4
Move over Lara Croft! The original video game heroine, Ms. Pac-Man, is back in an all-new 3-D maze adventure. The evil witch Mesmerelda has captured Professor Pac-Man and is wreaking havoc on Pac-Land. It's up to Ms. Pac-Man to rescue the professor and teach Mesmerelda a lesson.

Just as in the original arcade game, you must guide Ms. Pac-Man through dot-filled mazes. Eat a power pellet and you can chomp those nasty ghosts.

New to Maze Madness are puzzles you must solve, such as pushing blocks or TNT crates to create a path for Ms. Pac-Man's next challenge. Earn gold stars and unlock secrets by eating all the dots and fruits in each stage.

Play control is easy to learn because you only use the directional buttons and nothing else. Graphics are bright and colorful, and the music has a fitting '80s retro feel.

Add in a handful of fun multiplayer modes and you've got a great game.

Rated for all ages.

– Cary Woodham

Links on Linux

Maker: Sierra Sports
Rating: 3 stars
System: PC CD-ROM
System recommendations: Linux operating system; Pentium 166 or equivalent, 4X CD-ROM, 32MB RAM, SVGA, DirectX v6.1
Suggested price: $29.95
Players: Unlimited via Internet
Golf-simulation addicts disappointed by the latest release of Links LS may find new life with PGA Championship Golf 2000. For true-life action, this game has no peer.

Graphics for water holes may seem flat compared to Jack Nicklaus Golden Bear Challenge. And some of the computer-generated opponents are downright inept. But Sierra Sports has concentrated on improving its product where it counts: the swing engine and realistic 3-D terrain rendering.

Players have the option of using TrueSwing or the traditional three-mouse-click method of performing swings. Setting up with TrueSwing is the most realistic and satisfying method of play, although it takes several rounds to master. Either method sends your character into lifelike motions. Set up wrong and swing, and you're liable to see your player fall flat on his bottom.

Stroke, match, skins, scramble and a variety of best-ball variations are all available. The new season play mode lets you compete for purses against an army of pros.

The length of the rough, green speed and wind conditions can all be adjusted, as can rules such as mulligans and gimmies. Mark Lye's commentary is generally on the mark.

And, to speed play with foursomes, a "readyplay" mode lets you take your next shot without long waits for your opponents.

The low price of this game package may be attributable to cost-cutting on the course selection. Rather than pay to use existing, trademarked courses, Sierra just created five that can be used along with those from the 1999 game edition. But the quality of the new courses will make you forget you're not playing the real thing. Trees, although stagnant in even the breeziest conditions, are beautifully drawn, and the shading is exquisite.

If you get bored, there are plenty more user-designed originals available on the Internet.

Speaking of the Web, the online playing is unfortunately limited to the WON network. Direct TCP/IP head-to-heads are not supported.

But, as a total package, this game may well be, as Gamespot calls it, the reigning "king of golf sims."

– Doug Bedell, staff writer

Do the hustle

Maker: Bioware
Rating: 3 stars
System: PC CD-ROM
System requirements: 200 MHz Pentium, 32MB RAM, video acceleration card, 4X CD-ROM, 300MB free space
Suggested price: $40
Players: 1
MDK2 is split into three types of missions, relative to which hero stars in each. The six-legged dog shoots everything to bits, hailing back to the Gunstar Heroes era of run-and-blast games. The professor must solve tough puzzles, sometimes by mixing items together to create wacky inventions. And the sniper has to contend with blasting and sniping challenges, keeping the action both explosive and intelligent.

This frequent switch between game play styles keeps MDK2 fresh and fun, and the game's humor adds a true sense of character normally unseen in video games. Programmers should play this game to learn what to do right.

Graphics are bewildering at times, pushing tons of characters on the screen in huge, detailed levels. Your ears will be just as pleased – the soundtrack is long and atmospheric, complimented with a range of zany sound effects.

Suitable for ages 10 and up due to animated violence.

– Sam Machkovech, university student

Fur ball

Maker: Bizarre Creations
Rating: 2 stars
System: Sega Dreamcast
Suggested price: $50
Players: Up to 4
Fur Fighters treads a fine line between fun and boredom, and it's too fine a line to risk 50 bucks.

There's at least a little fun to be had with this one, as players get to run-and-gun through dozens of levels, not to mention encounter some cool bosses. Graphics are clean and fluid, and the game's sense of humor is a nice touch.

Still, Fur Fighters only asks players to run from point to point while solving a few tedious puzzles and shooting a few enemies, and the shooting isn't particularly exciting or fast-paced – especially since the game automatically aims your shots. Toss in imprecise controls, weak cameras and a horrid multiplayer mode, and you've got a "me too" shooter that you may enjoy only the first five days. Most rental stores have five-day game rentals, now that I think of it. I'd vote for that.

Recommended for ages 12 and older due to animated violence.

– Sam Machkovech

Mayhem? Maybe not

Maker: Electronic Arts
Rating: 2 stars
System: Game Boy Color
Suggested price: $25
Players: Up to 2
WCW Mayhem, while mildly entertaining, is cursed with rental-only game play.

Pick from 12 popular WCW wrestlers, including Goldberg and Sting, to compete in a tournament for the championship, or link up a friend's Game Boy Color for some two-player Mayhem.

Graphics are a surprise. EA makes the best, with well-animated characters and detailed arenas.

But the graphics can't hide the game's ultimate flaw – players have few moves, even for a portable game. The button-mashing gets old fast, and to top it off, Mayhem's computer opponents are boring.

Unless you have a buddy to fight against, don't even bother.

Suitable for ages 6 and up, due to animated wrestling.

– Sam Machkovech

Scary, but not in a good way

Maker: Ubi Soft
Rating: 1 star
System: Game Boy Color
Suggested price: $25
Number of players: 1
You know there's a problem when a kid-oriented game is too aimless and frustrating for its target audience.

Such is Toonsylvania.

Based on a television show that has been canceled for months, the game makes you gather items while avoiding some pesky, annoying enemies.

Sure, it's a pretty game, with big, colorful characters, but Toonsylvania is still a Mario clone at its worst.

Enemies are too hard to avoid, and item collection isn't straightforward enough to lure younger players into the game.

Meanwhile, older players will be bored by the game play, not to mention annoyed by the terrible music and sounds.

So who would want to play this? The rating board says it's for everybody, but I say it's for nobody.

– Sam Machkovech