Posted by: Tha Square | February 1, 2008

Titles to Avoid Part Two

Now that the gift-giving season’s dust has finally settled and the images of our inebriated relatives have quietly drifted to the pages of our most hallowed of memories, it’s almost Valentine’s Day! And what says “I love you” more to a gamer than another stupendous video game? Would you say chocolates or maybe a pretty rose? Oh no, you’re quite mistaken; it’s a hand picked title by their one and only sweet heart! But before you try to string up Cupid’s bow with any old title, there are a few games stealthily hiding on store shelves that don’t deserve the time or effort to bring home. Even if some will save you a bit of cash, their developers certainly don’t deserve a Valentine’s Day card. So snuggle up with your Mister, or Misses, Right because it’s time for “Games to Avoid Part Two”.

Number 5 – Mario Party 8 – $49.99
Recommendations– Rayman Raving Rabbids – $29.99, WarioWare: Smooth Moves – $49.99

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Nintendo is hosting a party and everyone is invited! Mario, Luigi, and the rest of the gang are back in the eagerly anticipated eighth chapter of the series, Mario Party 8. With the aid of the new controls, you’ll be rowing boats, driving racecars, and even hunting ghosts all in the effort to become the Superstar of the night. Though the party has just gotten started, it might already be time to pop the cork back into that bottle of bubbly. Many of the maps and general gameplay are boring and recycled, the one-player mode brings little replay value, and the Wii’s controls go slightly unused in both the minigames and regular play. Still, if you’re looking for a Wii game that’ll keep the flames of competition ignited in you and your friends all night long, then you should look no further.

This has to be the most kid friendly installment in the series. They should have just shoved a few lolly-pops in the ground and called it Candy Land vs. the Mario Brothers. Bowser and the Boos seem less sinister than ever with their ear-to-ear smiles etched into their skulls. Even worse, the controls are just as buttered up. Many of the games hardly use the remotes abilities further than shaking and pointing. In fact, there are many games that don’t use the motion sensing at all. The ones that do use the technology do it without a hitch and you’ll find the controls to be quite responsive. However, there are many cloned minis that only differ in environments. There are at least three “king of the hill” type games all of which don’t require motions and there aren’t many new games that haven’t been done before. Even the ones you can use your Mii with have all been done much better on different titles. Bowling, table tennis, and the rest of the lot in the Extras Zone are all nice thoughts to be added, but I don’t want to play a poor game just to catch a glimpse of my Mii bumping elbows with Mario.

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However, there isn’t a game like this to raise a protest as it’s been a hit across the globe since its release in May of last year. The casual crowd loves minigames and this is chock full with over 80 of them. When you slap Mario’s face on the cover, you can pretty much guarantee the title to hit the million sales mark in a few months even if it’s a shallow title. I would have really liked to see a little more fine tuning. The number of maps and new comers are a nice touch, but it’s apparent that this was a GameCube game that was rushed to the new console. If they would have waited a month or so and changed about ten games to actually use the remote’s abilities, it’d be one heck of a lot better.

Number 4 – Ratatouille – $29.99
Recommendations – Crash of the Titans – $49.99

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After hours upon hours of their mildly cute tactics, the garbage Ratatouille fed me has crumbled like a cube of Parmesan. Though the missions they’ve sent me on were considerably large and the locations I’ve been to are fairly detailed, there are some evident flaws in their work I can’t get over. Some of the controls, such as the camera and many of the abilities accessible with the B button, could have been a lot more reactive. Losing health in this game happens too frequently and at too great of an amount for anyone who plays this game not to get frustrated. The storyline as well is a bit of a disappointment; it may not be a horrible story to follow, but I’ve only ever ran into anything involved with cooking a handful of times. The minigames as well are seldom seen and hardly require the controller’s abilities further than its point and click uses. With a towering list of second-rate gameplay, I really don’t see myself revisiting Remy’s sewers any time soon.

Yes, this title is yet another nail in the coffin of movie based games. What was once based off a pretty good movie has become a side story adventure through probably everything they cut out of the film. From navigating Remy’s neighborhood in the sewers to the market that lies above, everything is just completely distant from the actual story. You help your rat family gather food, you collect little knick-knacks to unlock bonus features, and other than that, die very, very often.

The biggest difficulty in the game is keeping your health gauge safe. That might sound noobish of me to say it’s hard to stay alive in a flipping Disney game, but it’s not due any challenge; it’s all because the system is flawed. Your health meter has four or five shards which can be refilled with chunks of cheese lying around each map. The thing is there’s only like three pieces scattered around and on top of that, every hostile will hit you for two points. Why do they all hit for more than you can heal? You’d think one hit warrants one point and eating one chuck of cheese would remedy the situation but no.

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There are few problems with some of the areas you need to navigate as well. At some junctures you have to jump across several small areas such as a row of chopsticks. In order to land on them, you have to jump and press B but the system stalls and often times doesn’t recognize that you’re attempting to do so. Usually, these stubborn areas are at high altitudes (well, at least for a rat) so if you fail, you’ll be losing two shards of life.  There are many of these types of challenges in the game as well so rest assured you’re not going to miss any of them if you play.

Since the movie was released on DVD not long ago, there are bound to be little kids hounding their soccer moms to get every piece of movie merchandise they can get their hands on. Though this is a nice looking game and fairly long, it’s nothing more than a glossy waste of time. Hell, it took me five hours to come across anything relevant to cooking and it was an abysmal minigame and nothing much more. There’s no need to take on the role of humble Remy, just settle with watching the movie. And thus, the law of bad movie based games lives on.

Number 3– Avatar: The Last Airbender – $19.99
Recommendations – Marvel: Ultimate Alliance – $49.99

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Finding a young boy trapped in a chunk of ice for over 100 years would be pretty shocking; finding out he is the fabled Avatar and has the power to manipulate any element he desires would probably make you pee your pants. Take control of Aang, the new Avatar, and his friends as they battle to bring balance to the world in the midst of global war. An all too familiar storyline, broken controls, and poor animations, this game could make even the most devoted fan cringe. So unless you’re a super hardcore Avatar fan, you may want to consider a few quid pro quos before doling out any cash.

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First off, let’s start with the most noticeable shortcoming of the game, the graphics. Though everything is animated well, the textures are awful. They’re scratchy looking, they blend together, and they need to be redone. The cutscenes are a horrid display of poor quality control, the faces of in game characters will disappear at times when fighting, and it just looks so rushed. Even from such a far away viewpoint, the game looks bad.

Another bad attribute to this atrocious game is the controls.  You swing the remote in a direction to fire off your powers but it gets so screwed up that it can send a totally different move than you wanted. Seriously, why even add the feature if you’re not going to do it right? Not to mention the fact that your friends, though they can get killed by enemies, can not deal any damage to them whatsoever. Why would the game even allow them to walk with you if they’re not going to be able to defeat anything?

All in all, Avatar is a sub par outing. The voice work and animations are spot on, but when the textures look unfinished, it’s no deal. Plus, the controls are so unresponsive, I found holding the remote in a different position (pointing upwards instead of towards the TV) to work better than the game instructed. It has a good story, a fairly good map layout, and a lot of difficulty but it’d be a breeze if the controls would work properly.

Number 2 – Spider-Man: Friend or Foe – $39.99
Recommendations – Marvel: Ultimate Alliance – $49.99

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Wow, talk about tangled webs. Spider-Man: Friend or Foe is one severely matted mess of a game.  As nothing but a slimmed down version of Marvel: Ultimate Alliance, this game has hardly anything new to offer fans or regular Wii owners alike. With roughly half the size of the line-up in Ultimate Alliance, the handful of Spidey’s arch nemeses you can play as is a shallow variant to the early Wii game. In addition, when all your combatants are put side-by-side, many mirror each other nearly to the tee. You may find the average visuals and comical voice work to be a pleasant surprise but rest assured the predictable layout and aggravating Wii-specific controls will make you wish you had saved your money. Aside from that, you just don’t die. With no challenge, the developers took my last remaining shreds of desire to play this title and have shattered them. I don’t think there’s much fun to be had here and I doubt even Spider-Man can pull me from the depths on this one.

1.jpgI’ll begin with the positive as there’s truly little here to boast about. Just as in Ultimate Alliance, you’re given the opportunity to team up with a robust cast of familiar faces. This time, however, it’s centered around one franchise. From Black Cat to Venom, there are 12 villains for you to beat and befriend. Each has a somewhat unique set of attacks with two power moves that differ slightly from others and each character’s in game voice work is pretty funny. You’re also granted the ability to upgrade many of their and Spidey’s abilities from the Tech Tokens you collect in each stage but the system undoubtedly doesn’t come close to that of Ultimate Alliance. The visuals are fairly nice as well. From glossy latex suits to cartoonish Easter Island like rock sculptures, everything is aesthetically appealing. The special effects that accompany your power moves are nice too. Webbing isn’t all too bad and many of the sidekicks’ specials are animated well. However, that’s about all this game has to offer.

One of the biggest sore spots Spidey weaves is the complete lack of challenge. You literally cannot die. Sure, you can get hurt bad enough to be sidelined for a few seconds and lose a few tokens, but there is absolutely no way to be done in. While fighting, you can easily take a group of bad guys out by simply throwing them off a cliff. It isn’t all that fun. Trust me. The worst thing that happens when you get “killed” is losing your combo gauge which improves the number of tokens you get from defeating a hostile and isn’t that big of a step up to say the least. Though this isn’t the worst part, it does walk cheek to cheek with my most loathed feature of the game.

The controls are simply bad. You’re supposed to use the motions to hurl enemies in a certain direction but you just don’t have time to do so. Aside from getting confused quite often, you have to time your gestures perfectly in order for anything to work.  The game doesn’t give you any hints about timing either; there is no flash or anything. You can, thankfully, use button commands to pull these moves off but neither the manual nor any in game help tells you about them. It should come as no surprise that the Wii version should excel or at least benefit in some small way on controls but this is seriously even worse than Avatar, and that’s saying a lot.

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Collectively, this game fails to deliver. Yes the story is nice and the graphics are pretty but after that, there just isn’t anything worthwhile here. The gameplay is repetitive, the enemies shallow, stages predictable, and the controls are shot. There just isn’t anything here that makes me want to come back. Even the near one year old Marvel: Ultimate Alliance tremendously surpasses this game and nothing this one offers casts any sort of a shadow on that title.  If you’re a fan who has been left hungry after Spider-Man 3 the game came out, getting this title will only sharpen that pain in your gut. I think you know where I’m going with this one; I say pass. I strongly recommend using your spider senses and just forfeit this outing altogether.

Number 5 – GT Pro Series – $18.99
Recommendations – Excite Truck – $49.99

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Buckle up, bear down, and get ready for one of the Wii’s first racers, GT Pro Series. With over 80 different cars to customize and several intriguing game modes, this cell-shaded racer puts you in the driver’s seat of some of the fastest engines to hit the streets. Though the variations in cars and customizations are notable and the steering wheel attachment is a nice bonus, the rest of the game doesn’t follow up. With tiny maps that constrict every race, severely outdated graphics, and tricky controls are all that can be found in this game.

The funny thing is, this game comes with a steering wheel but it costs less than the attachment alone. So if you’re ever in need one, buy this game, hock it on Ebay, and keep the wheel. Other than that, there really is no reason to even look at this game.

An impressive 80 cars can be raced and changed all in accordance to the player. Just about any of today’s fastest cars you can think of don the lineup of this game. Unfortunately, you find out quite quickly how not-so-unique these models really are. Many bodies have been reused to save time and money and the differences between them all are minimal. Being able to change specific vital and cosmetic parts such as engines, brakes, paint, and tailpipes is one of the games only shining attractions since it has been done in many a racing game before. There is nothing new about the customization this game has as most modern racers give the user the ability to change their character models. Having 80 vehicles, though similar as they are, is certainly a crowning achievement but being that and the steering wheel are the only good attributes this game has to offer, the amount of playable models is far outweighed by the overwhelming negative qualities.

80 different cars to personalize and race is nothing to scoff at. One of the GameCube’s best racing games, F-Zero GX, didn’t have half that. However, when you compare size, graphics, and control, you’re bound to figure out how overstated GT Pro Series really is. Having 80 different cars to race is great but having only 10 tracks to race them on is downright overkill. gtpro2.jpgOnce you’ve driven one track with about 20 or so cars, the game tends to become a little dull. In the games defense, however, you can flip the tracks and drive them backwards so it seems like there are 20 maps instead of ten, well sort of. So now, not only do you get to bore yourself to tears going one way on the same track, you can bore yourself to death going the opposite way! Awesome! The maps may seem unbearable after the fourth of fifth time you’ve gone around them, but after you’ve taken a glimpse of the environments and other textures, you might want to turn the game off right then.
 
Though graphics are not always the most important part of a games design, and especially in the case of Wii titles, some level of scrutiny must be placed over them. The cell-shaded style of the textures doesn’t work with a racing game with models of real cars. The entire game is nothing more than a port that has had only minimal advancements made to allow the motion-sensing controls, which could still use some work. The balance these cars have is way beyond desirable. The slightest twitch in your hand and the car can veer off into the course walls if you don’t turn down the sensitivity. On the other hand, turning it down too far will have you stuck with a car that does nothing but go forward. With the steering wheel attachment, things get a little better. Fragile as it might be, the attachment relieves your hands of the awkward grip the rectangular controller has. It also contributes to the overall balance and performance you’ll get out of your car though it hardly makes the controls any better. Figuring out what your preferred settings are with or without the wheel might take up all the time you have to play the game which just might be a good thing.

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There have been many great racing games in our times that have influenced many others. Arcades across the globe would be missing much of their profit if these games weren’t around. Titles such as GT Pro Series, however, leave the genre a lot less distinguished than when it first arrived. The 80 different models is a nice stepping-stone for other titles and the bonus wheel can be used for other racers but the rest of the game brings nothing new to the long line of games. Confined maps, outdated graphics, and shoddy controls leave nothing but sour memories of a poorly made title. There’s little-to-no reason to even try this game, especially with decent selection from the GameCube playable on Wii and other titles like Excite Truck around and Mario Kart in the not so distant future. Save your money; this game is just another bargain bin racer.

I hope you enjoyed my rant on a few displeasing games I’ve had the chance to play. Join me next time when I’ll give an optimistic look at some of the games you may have missed and I actually enjoyed! But until then, stay safe, wear those wrist straps, and keep on keepin’ on!

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Responses

  1. […] The Last Air Bender is on its way to the Wii. If anyone remembers my recap of the first game in Titles to Avoid Part 2, you’ll understand how… skeptical I am when approaching this game. First thing I […]

  2. […] sold nearly as well as they should have. Hell, half of the titles in “Games to Avoid 1 & 2” have sold better than these gems! These games have slipped too far under the radar for anyone to […]


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