Billy Joel: Greatest Hits, Vol. 3 DVD Review


This review was originally written on July 1, 2004
They Chopped Up The Music Videos!

As a fan I enjoy hearing Billy speak about his music and videos, but not at the expense of the videos themselves. The person who edited the Billy Joel: Greatest Hits, Vol. 3 DVD together chopped up most of the music videos so as to intersperse Billy's comments within them. All of the music videos are chopped up, except for:

-- And So It Goes [though Billy speaks over it]

-- No Man's Land [after a false start, the real video plays complete]

-- Lullabye (Goodnight, My Angel) [though Billy speaks over the last few seconds of the video]

-- To Make Your Feel My Love [though Billy speaks over the very end of the video]

It should also be noted that the last two videos are in reverse order from how they are listed on the packaging. "Hey Girl" and "To Make Your Feel My Love" is the correct order.

Trivial Pursuit Unhinged PlayStation 2 Video Game Review


This review was originally written on March 29, 2004
Unless You Have Online Capabilities Or A Group Of Trivia-Loving Friends, There's Nothing Here For You

Although I really dislike the original board game (I find it terminally boring), I decided to rent Trivial Pursuit Unhinged. I figured that since it's a video game it might provide some enjoyment that can't be found in the board game, due to the nature of the formats. Well, I was wrong!

For starters, you can't really play this game with one player offline because there are NO computer opponents. There are three game play modes, and two of them can be played with just one player BY HIMSELF/HERSELF, but where's the fun in that? The game has online play, but I don't have the PS2 Network Adapter, so I couldn't test it out. Online would be the only way to play this with just one player, in my opinion. (As of this writing, I haven't had the chance to gather my friends together for a game.)


CLASSIC - 1 to 6 players - Roll the dice and move around the board. If you land on a category space or headquarters, you answer a question in that category. If you were on a category headquarters, and you answered the question correctly, you get a wedge of that color, and you roll again. If you were just on a regular category space and you answered the question correctly, you just roll again. If you answered incorrectly, turn passes to the next player. The first person to get all six wedges, go back to the central hub, and answer the final question, wins the game.

FLASH - 1 to 6 players - You start on level one, and the goal is to get to level six. On each level you get to choose between two question categories. Answer the question correctly and you move up one level. Answer incorrectly and you stay at your current level. Whether you answer correctly or not, your turn is over and the next player goes. The first player to get to level six is the winner.

UNHINGED - 2 to 4 players (each needs his/her own controller) - Same as classic, except you play for points as well as wedges. You get one point for answering a question correctly and you can gain additional points by betting on whether the current player will answer the current question correctly or not. Points can be used to steal other player's wedges, protect yourself from getting one of your wedges stolen, or to choose a new question if you feel that the current one is too hard. Plus there are special spaces on the board that rotate the board, give you double or triple bonus points, let you recycle questions until you get one you like, choose between only two "multiple choice" answers instead of the usual four (called "50/50"), and do other things, too.

Each game play mode has one setting that you can adjust before you start the game. For Classic and Flash, you can choose whether you want to Shout Out the answers to the questions or select from four Multiple Choice answers. Shout Out is just like the traditionally way of playing. You read the question on the screen (no celebrities read it to you), you vocally give your answer, then you press X to see the correct answer. If you were correct, you press X. If you were wrong, you press O. Obviously the game is trusting you to honestly choose whether you were correct or not. This option of answering questions is best used when playing with other people in the room. For Unhinged mode, the only setting you can adjust is how frequently you want the special spaces to appear (low, medium, high, or never).



They are slightly altered from the original board game:

Pink - Arts & Entertainment (Whoopi Goldberg)
Yellow - History (John Cleese)
Orange -Wild Card (John Ratzenberger)
Blue - People & Places (Brooke Burke)
Brown - Science & Nature (Bill Nye the Science Guy)
Green - Sports & Leisure (Terry Bradshaw)
(The black spaces are Roll Again)

I'm rather disappointed by the whole multimedia aspect of the game. The game features six celebrity "hosts". However, you only HEAR them read the questions for their particular category (except if you have the Shout Out option on, in which case you read the question yourself). You never see them at all. The game also boasts multimedia questions, in which you are asked a question pertaining to a still photo, audio clip, or video clip. However, these questions come up very infrequently. Most of the time you'll just get a boring old text question.


This game was designed for only two types of people: single player trivia junkies who have a network adapter and online capabilities, and groups of people who love trivia games. Unless you fall into one of those two categories, there will be absolutely nothing in this game for you. If you absolutely must try this game out, rent it first to see if it suits your needs before you buy it.

Wheel of Fortune PlayStation 2 Video Game Review


This review was originally written on January 20, 2004
We Waited An Extra Year For This!?!

There are a few things you need to know before reading this review. First, I will be making many comparisons between this PlayStation 2 edition and the previous edition, "Wheel Of Fortune 2nd Edition" for the PlayStation 1 (released in 2000).

Second, this game was originally to be released near the end of 2002, and was originally called "Wheel Of Fortune 2003." Like the two previous games before it for the PS1, it is sort-of a port of a PC version, which in this case DID get titled "Wheel Of Fortune 2003" (though I think the title has gotten changed on additional printings to "Wheel Of Fortune") and DID get released for the PC near the end of 2002. When I say "sort-of a port", I mean that both games have the same box graphics and puzzles, and I'd bet they have the same video clips and audio, too. The only difference is the graphics and GUI.



For the benefit of those people who have not seen the show, I will describe exactly how the game is played.

Three contestants compete to solve word puzzles in an effort to win cash and prizes. You start by spinning a wheel, which not only has dollar amount spots, but also spots that will take away your money (Bankrupt), award you a special prize, make you lose your turn, earn you an extra spin, and so forth and so on. If you land on a dollar amount spot, the contestant guesses a letter and receives that amount of money for each instance of that letter in the puzzle. If the contestant has enough money, they can then choose to buy one of the five vowels. However, if the contestant guesses a letter that is not in the puzzle (or lands on a Bankrupt or Lose A Turn space), it's the next contestant's turn – kind of like a round robin version of Hangman.

Once the active contestant believes he/she can solve the puzzle based on the letters currently shown, he/she attempts it and if correct wins the total amount of money earned in the round. Players that earn money in a round, but do not solve the puzzle, do not take that money over to the next round. After the end of three/four/five rounds (or after 10/15/20 minutes has elapsed) the contestant with the most money is declared the winner. That contestant then gets to play the "Bonus Round."



It should be noted that for the first three options, you can choose to have 1 human player (2 AI [computer players]), 2 human players (1 AI), 2 human players (no AI), and 3 human players. The option to have 2 human players and no AI is a new addition to the game, as it was not available in the 2nd Edition.

• Quick Play - A three round game, in one of the six theme sets (randomly chosen by the computer), and no career stats are saved. This is a new addition to the game, as it was not available in the 2nd Edition.

• Normal Game - Choose between playing a game with a time limit (10, 15, or 20 minutes) or a fixed number of rounds (3, 4, or 5); one of six theme sets; and career stats are saved.

• Tournament Game - Only available to players who have won at least five games or have earned over $50,000 in career winnings. As with a Normal game, you can choose between playing a game with a time limit (10, 15, or 20 minutes) or a fixed number of rounds (3, 4, or 5), and career stats are saved.

• Solo Game - A one player game in which your goal is to win as much money as you can. In other words, to beat your high score, which is saved as part of your career stats. You are given a certain amount of free spins to use for the entire game, the exact amount depends on the game length you selected. (You get 7 free spins for 3, 4, or 5 rounds or for a 10 minute game. You get 9 free spins for a 15 minute game, and 10 for a 20 minute game.) Each time you choose a letter that is not in the puzzle (or land on the Bankrupt or Lose A Turn spaces), one of your free spin tokens will be taken away. If you choose a letter than is not in the puzzle (or land on the Bankrupt or Lose A Turn spaces) and have no free spins remaining, the game is over. I should note that the option to play 10/15/20 minute rounds in this mode is a new addition to the game, as it was not available in the 2nd Edition (where you could only choose a fixed number of rounds). However, 2nd Edition gave you more free spins for each number of rounds: 10 for 5 rounds, 9 for 4 rounds, and 7 for 3 rounds. Another change from the 2nd Edition is that when you play 3 rounds, you are playing 3 complete rounds (possibly a bonus afterwards, I didn't get to it yet). In the 2nd Edition it was two regular rounds and the bonus round.

• Contestant Exam - Allows one player to try a sample exam like those used on the show. You will be shown 16 partially completed puzzles from four different categories, and given 5 minutes to solve all of them. You need at least 12 complete to receive a passing score. This is the EXACT same exam given on the 2nd Edition! However, the 2nd Edition showed videos of Vanna White before and after the exam to introduce it to you and congratulate or console you for how you did. This version omits the videos and just shows a black screen with white text that says "Score __ of 16" after the exam. As with the 2nd Edition, there is no bonus for getting all correct answers (though you got to see the Vanna video in the 2nd Edition). Also, this version makes a few minor (but positive) changes to the controls for this mode. The 2nd Edition only has a button (square) for going back to the previous blank space. This version uses both square and circle to go back and forward. In this version you can select Done (triangle) on any puzzle when you've finished before the allotted time. In the 2nd Edition, you must go to the 16th puzzle in order to select Done.

• Career Statistics - Every time you complete a game, your score and winnings are added to a running "career" total of statistics, which are stored by player name. The statistics tracked are: Game Wins, Game Losses, Earnings, Prizes Won, Most Money On 1 Letter, Most Money On 1 Turn, Best Game, Tournaments Won, Puzzles Solved, Vowels Purchased, and Best Solo Game. You can have up to 8 careers stored.

• Options - Response Time: 30/60/90 seconds. Sound Volume: Off, 5 through 100 (in 5 increments). Vibration: On/Off. Credits. These settings affect all games played during this session. You can also change Response Time, Sound Volume, and Vibration on a per game basis by pressing pause during a game. Unfortunately, game settings are not saved to the memory card (only careers). So if you want response time to always be 30 or 90, music to always be at a level other than 80, or vibration to always be off, you have to make these changes every time you boot up the game. Also, there is a big problem with the Response Time option: it affects ALL timers (except Bonus Round and Contestant Exam). So if you change it to 30, for example, you will get 30 seconds to decide whether to spin/buy a vowel/solve, 30 seconds to choose a letter, and 30 seconds to type in letters to solve the puzzle. 30 seconds is too long to decide whether to spin, buy a vowel or solve; or to choose a letter. However, 30 seconds is not enough time to type in letters to solve a puzzle if it's one of the bigger puzzles and there are a lot of blanks left. I personally set it to 90 just so I have enough time for when I need it, but that doesn't provide for a very tight game like that of the real show.

The 2nd Edition also includes an option called "Behind The Scenes," which contains short clips/interviews (in windows/frames, not full screen) with the production staff from the actual TV show. They are divided up into the following sections.

• Green Room - Four clips of Gary O'Brien, Contestant Coordinator (the first person you would meet if you became a contestant on the show).

• Control Room - Four clips of the show's director, Mark Corwin.

• Production Offices - Four clips each of Harry Friedman (Executive Producer), Steve Schwartz (Producer), and Scott Bresler (Puzzle Writer).

• Stage - Four clips each of Charlie O'Donnell (Announcer) and John Lauderdale (Stage Manager).

• Dressing Room - Eight clips of Vanna White. The ninth clip, labelled "Bonus," is a short full-screen trivia featurette about the show (really cool!). Once you have won one game, all nine clips will be unlocked in this section (the first four are unlocked from the start).

Sadly, this entire option was omitted from this game. This is an insult because this game is in DVD-ROM format, so it can hold a lot more data then the CD-ROM format of the 2nd Edition; and since it's DVD, the video clips could be full screen (not windowed) with extremely high quality. Plus they could have filmed new footage, maybe even given a featurette on the show (instead of short clips), and dare I say it, included Pat Sajak in the footage!


There are six themed sets that you can play on. They are Disco, Las Vegas, Great Outdoors, Oriental Escape, Winter Sports, and Fast Cars. These are the same set themes from the 2nd Edition, however they have either been completed redesigned or are virtually the same but with some new movement thrown in. For example, the Winter Sports set is essentially the same as in the 2nd Edition, but now the snowman's scarf blows in the wind and the polar bear moves his head (though I haven't seen the bears drive by on the sled, like in the 2nd Edition). Of course, it almost goes without saying that the graphics are leaps and bounds above what was in the 2nd Edition on the PS1. And on that note, let me segue into the next topic ...



Since this is a PS2 game and the previous version was a PS1 game, I would expect for this game to have substantially better graphics, and thankfully it does. This blows the 2nd Edition completely out of the water. However, that's not to say that the graphics are 100% perfect.

The camera movement can be a bit nausea inducing as it keeps zooming in and out from a close-up of the board to the board with the wheel in foreground. Is some ways it's an improvement over the 2nd Edition's constant movement from the board & wheel over to a video clip of Vanna playing on a wall to the right and back over to the board & wheel again. Still, I wish the camera would just stay put.

Spinning the wheel comes with an excellent blurring effect. However, I'd still advise not looking directly at the tv while the close-up of the wheel spinning is on screen as it could make you nauseous.

When it comes time to select a letter, you will be treated to the ugliest 3-D tilted letter board you will ever see. Why they could just use a two dimensional letter board, like in the 2nd edition (and every previous edition known to man) is beyond me. It can give you a headache looking at the letters tilted like this.

I also feel like they got a little cheap when the did the graphics for the bonus round. In the 2nd Edition the five prize cards have the letters W-H-E-E-L on them. In this game they are blank.

As previously stated, the sets look much better than in the previous game. The floors are shiny and reflect quite nicely, fire burns realistically, lights twinkle, and other nice little bits of eye candy abound. So, it's not all bad.


Let me start off by letting you know that I absolutely hate the videos in this game and the 2nd Edition. I find them annoying and absolutely useless. There is nothing they can convey gamewise that can't be handled by an audio clip or on-screen text. I own the 1st Edition for the PC and it gives you an option to turn off the videos (or set it to "minimal"). I would assume that this option is also available for the PC versions of the 2nd Edition and WOF2003. However, there is no way to turn off the videos in any of the PlayStation 1 & 2 versions (I never played the PS1 version of the 1st Edition, so I'm just making an assumption here). This is completely unacceptable as the videos bog down the game, moreso for Wheel Of Fortune than for Family Feud (another PS1 game that I wish had a videos off option).

Luckily there are a few less videos in this game than in the 2nd Edition, but only a *small* few. For one, no longer does the the show opening video play before a new game. Also, there are no longer any video clips for the following actions: no more vowels, bankrupt (when computer gets it), and lose a turn (when anyone gets it). However there is a video every time you have the chance to use a free spin, which I don't think was in the 2nd Edition.

I will say one nice thing about the videos. They are very sharp and crisp with no compression artifacts (like in the 2nd Edition).

The prizes are represented with excellent video/slideshow presentations, although there aren't enough of them as they repeat often. Vanna White's acting is very bad, but on a "so bad, it's good" level. I laugh every time she looks over to the blank space on the right (her left) at the end of most videos. It's just looks so dumb that you can't help but laugh. Of course, usually I just press the start button to skip all of the videos, but I've watched enough of them to fairly judge them.


Now here is the major letdown of the entire game. Practically the entire soundtrack is recycled from the 2nd Edition. After the company logos and copyright screens you'll be welcomed by Charlie O'Donnell using the same dialogue that you first heard upon booting up the 2nd Edition back in 2000: "Hi folks. I'm Charlie O'Donnell. We'll get to our game in a second, but first we have a little business to take care of." Heck, my PC version of the 1st Edition made in 1998 has the same opening dialogue (though Charlie adds afterwards, "First off, how do you want to do this? Normal Game, Solo Play, Tournament Mode, or see the high scores?"). I think it may be safe to assume that the PS1 version of the 1st Edition contains the same dialogue. Geez, Atari(Infogrames)/Artech, don't you think you should have recorded some new stuff for this game instead of rehashing what you did years ago?!?

In addition to the stuff from Mr. O'Donnell, you'll also find that this game has the same background music and the same AI voices as the 2nd Edition. In voice actors for both this game and the 2nd Edition are Christine Moran and Derick Fage. While it's reasonable to believe that they were brought in to record some new dialogue to go with the new puzzles (I assume that there's new puzzles), it's also reasonable to believe that much (if not all) of their generic comments were recycled from the 2nd Edition, particularly since most of it sounds the same (cheesy phrases like "Show me the big money!" and "Alright, I'm having some fun now!" spring to mind). Why else would they hire the same two voice actors? They could have, and SHOULD have, hired MANY new voice actors. Why do we need to have the same two AI opponents to play against? Why not get a variety of voices for our opponents?


Some random comments that didn't fit anywhere else.

For those who may need this information, memory card usage is 99 KB and the card must be inserted into slot 1. I would think that with the PS2 having been out for a couple years now, that game developers would make their games work with the card in either slot 1 or 2.

Three people can play this game at the same time without the need for a multitap. The second and third players alternate use of the second controller. The 2nd Edition also worked like this, even though the manual and packaging incorrectly said that a multitap was needed.

The loadings feel a bit longer than they should be, but are still relatively short (like 10 seconds each).

The alternating nature of the game results in some long wait times between turns. When playing alone the only thing to do while the computer spins is try to figure out the puzzle, but that's of limited benefit and doesn't help when the player already knows the answer. I really wish they would have found a way to get around this. Perhaps they could have added a "fast forward" button or something.

I've read online that there are over 3,200 puzzles. Since I rented this game, and didn't have a manual or packaging to tell me, I have to assume this is true.


I can't believe that this game was delayed for a year, considering how much was recycled from the last game, and the few things that are missing.

I really miss the old NES/SNES/Genesis games where the focus was more on the gameplay than on the presentation (though the games did looked good for their time).


• Can have a human vs. human game with no 3rd AI player.

• Better cheat device (Code Breaker) codes: Don't lose money when getting bankrupt, always have a free spin, vowels are free. These are suggested for use when playing a one player game, but not when against friends.

These are the only two major benefits this game has over the 2nd Edition. Kinda pathetic, huh? Really makes you wonder why they made us wait an extra year for the game.

Super Bust-A-Move 2 PlayStation 2 Video Game Review


This review was originally written on December 28, 2003
What A Difference A Sequel Makes

If you read my review of Super Bust-A-Move 1 for the Playstation 2 you'd know that I gave it a very bad review. Simply put, it's the worst Bust-A-Move game ever as it is broken in every possible way.

I went into Super Bust-A-Move 2 expecting the same thing, hoping for marginally better. How pleasantly surprised I was to find that nearly everything wrong with Super Bust-A-Move has been fixed, resulting in a game that is one of the best in the series.


Here's what you've got:

– Story Mode (1 player)
– 1 Player Puzzle: Training / Normal / Classic
– Battle Mode – CPU Battle: Normal / Expert / Chain Reaction (1 player vs. computer)
– Battle Mode – 2 Player Battle: Normal / Expert / Chain Reaction (player vs. player)
– Edit Mode: Edit / Play / Save / Load (create your own puzzles)

The Story and Edit modes were absent in Super Bust-A-Move, and I'm very happy to see them return.


Unlike Super Bust-A-Move, the controls are pretty quick to respond (which is a MUST for this type of game). However, they seem to be a tad slower than Bust-A-Move '99 & 4 (both for the Playstation 1). It's not a very big problem because they still respond very well.


The annoying and distracting backgrounds from Super Bust-A-Move have been toned down. They are now static and not in any way annoying or distracting. Thank Goodness!

The bubbles, too, have been toned down from what they were in Super Bust-A-Move. They are all regular size and it's easy to quickly tell them apart



The plethora of long loading screens from Super Bust-A-Move are a thing of the past. While the one at the very beginning of the game is a bit longer than it should be, most of the loadings are 1 second long or less.

The only thing they didn't fix from Super Bust-A-Move are the characters. We still have a bunch of Pokemon rejects. I wish they would have put back all the cool characters from the Playstation 1 Bust-A-Move games. Oh, well. At least the characters aren't a very important part of the game (you can ignore them easily).


There are three good Bust-A-Move games that you can play on a Playstation 2. In all honesty, I can't recommend one over the other because each one has something unique that the other two don't have. If it helps, here's a quick comparison:

Bust-A-Move '99 (PS1) - Basic puzzle play, Win Contest (continuous 1 player vs. comp), Collection (user created puzzles), no Story Mode.
Bust-A-Move 4 (PS1) - Adds pulleys to the puzzles, no Win Contest, no Collection.
• Super Bust-A-Move 2 (PS2) - Adds conveyor belt walls and all sorts of unique bubbles to the puzzles, no Win Contest, no Collection.

All three have Edit mode and the rest of the mandatory puzzle modes.

If you're a die-hard Bust-A-Move fan, I'd say buy all three (that's what I plan on doing). If you're unsure if which to buy, rent all three and see which one you like the best.

Super Bust-A-Move PlayStation 2 Video Game Review


This review was originally written on July 4, 2003
Super?!? Super CRUD Is More Like it!

I can't believe all the good reviews Super Bust-A-Move is getting. I just have to chime in with my opinion on this game. Simply put, they broke Bust-A-Move. They removed almost all of the game play modes; they removed the edit mode; they made the controls unresponsive (they take a second to respond); they added annoying and distracting backgrounds; the bubbles have been graphically-enhanced so they they, too, are now annoying to look at; they took away all the cool characters and added a bunch of Pokemon rejects; and they added a TON of long loading screens.

Most of that is pretty much self-explanatory, so I don't need to elaborate on it. However, I will give you a list of what few game play modes there are in the game:

– 1 Player: Training / Normal / Classic
– CPU Battle: Normal / Expert
– 2 Player Battle: Normal / Expert / Chain Reaction

Yup, that's it.

I rented this game to see if I had made a mistake buying Bust-A-Move 4 (for the Playstation 1). Well, I can tell you this, my purchase of Bust-A-Move 4 was definitely well worth it. I have Super Bust-A-Move 2 on my rental list. Although I suspect that it won't be much better than this one, I'll still be optimistic and give it a try.

If you want a good Bust-A-Move game to play on your Playstation 2, get yourself Bust-A-Move '99 or Bust-A-Move 4 (both for the Playstation 1). Both are essentially the same, though 4 adds pulleys to the puzzles. Sure the graphics look like they came off of a SNES, but is that really such a bad thing?!? The load times are short (to non-existent at times), the characters look cool (in that odd-Japanese way), and most of all, the controls are extremely responsive and there are a ton of game play modes.

Austin Powers Pinball PlayStation Video Game Review


This review was originally written on October 30, 2002
It's Pinball, Baby! Yeah!

As if you couldn't have guessed, Austin Powers Pinball is pinball with an Austin Powers theme - based on the first two movies.


Pinball itself doesn't have a story, but the themed tables "follow" the storylines of the movies. Here are the story synopsises as written in the game's manual:

International Man of Mystery - As the utterly shagadelic Austin Powers, you must save the world from the never-ending threat of Dr. Evil! Defrost after 30 years in Cryogenic Suspension. Catch up to the '90s, and with the help of the smashing Vanessa Kensington, find the secret underground lair beneath the Virtucon headquarters. Stop Dr. Evil's plan to extort "100 Billion Dollars" and save the world from certain destruction by liquid hot magma. Beware the seductive fembots, who can lure men to their doom, and don't fall victim to the wiles of the sexy Alotta Fagina and her seemingly innocent hot tub.

The Spy Who Shagged Me - Dr. Evil has stolen your Mojo, and that spells bad news for your bits and pieces! With CIA agent Felicity Shagwell at your side (and sometimes covering the rear) fight through Dr. Evil's henchmen - from the very vocal Frau Farbissina and the cyclopean Number Two to the terrifyingly well-fed Fat-Bastard - and reclaim your manhood. Rocket from Dr. Evil's hollowed-out volcano lair to his secret Moonbase, and stop the giant "laser" from destroying the world. Travel back in time to recover your Mojo and save Felicity from certain death.

I know that there's a real Austin Powers pinball table (my friend played it in the arcade), but I don't know if these tables are modeled after any real tables. Just thought I'd mention that.


The game plays like ... well, pinball. To be a little more precise, it plays like a real pinball table, not like some sort of arcade simulation (like Sonic Spinball on the Sega Genesis). The control scheme is very simple: X fires the ball into play; the left shoulder buttons (L1 & L2) control the left flipper; the right shoulder buttons (R1 & R2) control the right flipper; the directional pad is used for nudging up, left, and right (there's no nudging down). This is an absolutely PERFECT control scheme for a pinball game. Much better then the default for Pro Pinball: Big Race USA.



The game looks and sound fantastic. While you may not be able to see every little detail on the table (unless you have a really big screen TV), the game doesn't suffer because if it. The bottom 25% of the screen contains the dot-graphics screen, which is easily readable and adds to the enjoyment of the game (dot-digitalized clips from the movies are shown throughout, when appropriate). The upper 75% of the screen shows the table, which scrolls as necessary.

The sounds are pretty good. The standard pinball-type sounds are there, along with audio clips from the movie featuring Mike Myers and Robert Wagner (I didn't hear Mr. Wagner yet, so I have to take the packaging's word for it).

The music played on the menus is very mellow, and somewhat appropriate ... it's nothing to hurt your ears, that's for sure.


The game does have a few flaws, which is why I rate it 8 out of 10 instead of a perfect 10.

(1) It doesn't auto-load & auto-save high scores to/from memory card. You have to do it manually every time you play the game, which is really annoying.

(2) It is not vibration function compatible, like Pro Pinball: Big Race USA is. If you've ever played Big Race with a Dual Shock controller, you'd know that vibration adds even more realism to a pinball game. It makes it feel like you have your hands on a real table.

(3) Austin Powers' familiar theme music is notably absent. Although the music in the menus are fine, that would have been better.

(4) Nudging seems to have no effect - though if you nudge too much, the game "tilts" on you. (In Big Race I actually saw the table move when I nudged, so it's possible that even though I don't see the table move in this game, the nudging could actually be working. So this might not be a flaw.)


It has as much replayability as the game of pinball does. Meaning, you won't play it everyday (unless your a pinball fanatic), but every now and then you'll get the urge and you'll pop it in and play it for a while. Perhaps you can even beat your own high score!


The game retails for about ten bucks. Considering that it's a near perfect pinball game, you'd be stupid NOT to buy it ... unless you hate pinball or Austin Powers.

Donald Duck: Goin' Quackers PlayStation 2 Video Game Review


This review was originally written on October 30, 2002
You'll QUACK Up Trying To Play This Game

Besides the Playstation 2, this game was also released on the Playstation, the PC, the GameCube, the Gameboy Color, the Dreamcast, and finally the Nintendo 64. I would suspect that the review I'm about to write would apply to all versions of this game, or most of them at least.


Simply put ... Daisy has been kidnapped by the evil Merlock and it's up to Donald Duck to rescue her.


The game is essentially a corridor platformer ala Scooby-Doo & The Cyber Chase for the Playstation (or the Crash Bandicoot games, from what I've heard). There are a few areas (or worlds, or whatever you want to call them), each with a few stages. The first one or two stages heads away from the camera. The third is essentially a side-view, like a standard 2-D platformer. The fourth goes towards the camera with a giant hand chasing you (if it catches up to you and touches you, you're dead). The fifth is the boss stage.

I have no problems with corridor platformers, or platformers of ANY kind. However, this one just sucks! I can't keep track of the number of times I've died because what I thought was solid land was a cliff I couldn't see. To make matters worse, you're given a two hit kill (as opposed to the standard 3 hit kill of most platformers). The first hit makes you "Angry Donald" the second hit kills you. The little Donald face in the corner that shows his "mood" doesn't help to let you know how close he is to dying. Why couldn't they have had a simple two "piece" display that goes down a piece when he's hit? (I hope you can understand what I'm trying to explain.) Of course, checkpoints are far and few between, which makes dying and restarting even MORE annoying! Plus, you have a timer to content with. If you don't reach the end before the time counts zero, it's the end of you. Timers on a platform game are murder since they discourage patience and exploration - two keys to enjoying a platformer. You can forget about finding any of the secrets with a timer around.


As if all that wasn't enough to make the game bad, listen to what you have to do to pull off a special move:

1. Grab 5 gears in less than 1 second to get a letter of the world SPECIAL. Do this 7 times to get the entire word and earn a special move.

2. To perform the special move you bounce off 3 enemies in a row without touching the ground. Each bounce will light up a light bulb on the display.

3. When all 3 bulbs are lit (after the third consecutive bounce), you have to quickly (before touching the ground) press either R1 or Triangle.

4. Donald will then freeze in mid-air, at which time you have 3 seconds to enter the 5 button combo for the special move you want to do.

Of course, "Angry Donald" can't perform a special move. You must be "Happy Donald" (Normal) or "Hyper Donald" (one step above Happy, but still with a 2 hit kill) in order to do them. And since all the odds are stacked against you already, it should be no surprise that special moves can't be done in a boss level.

And the benefit of performing a special move? Donald will be invincible for a short period of time and gears will value more during this period. BIG FREAKIN' WHOOP! If I'm gonna do all that for a stinkin' special move, I want it to kill all the enemies on the board and give me easy sailing to the end.


This is the only area in which the game is good. The visuals look pretty good, though the characters look a bit strange during the 3-D cutscenes. They could have made a bit better transformation from the 2-D cartoon to the 3-D game world.

The sounds are even better as all of the original current voices are present: Tony Anselmo as Donald, Tress MacNeille as Daisy, June Foray as Magica De Spell, etc.


The game doesn't even have playability, so forget about RE-playability! I quit playing in the middle of the second world/area ... and I only made it that far thanks to a CodeBreaker code for infinite time.


Avoid at all costs!

Men in Black II: Alien Escape PlayStation 2 Video Game Review


This review was originally written on August 18, 2002
A Boring And Repetitive Shooter

I bought Men in Black II: Alien Escape because I like the Men In Black movies and I figured that it would be a good game. I couldn't be any more wrong.


The whole premise of the game is this: you go from room to room (or area to area) and kill everything that moves (except for the "worm dudes" whom you're supposed to rescue ... or something like that).

There are five big levels broken up into sections, which too many semi-long load screen in between.

Considering that all you do in the game is shoot things, I really wonder why the programmers didn't give the player an Aim button. Then again, they didn't give a Jump button, either (jumping surely would have broken up the monotony of the game).

The most fun I had in the game was destroying all the cars on the parking garage levels. You don't get any points for it, and it doesn't accomplish a goal, but it sure was fun!



An alien prison ship crash lands on Earth, the bad aliens escape, and you have to kill them. That's all the plot there is and it's probably all you'll need.

The plot of this game is nothing the second movie. Rather than calling it "Men in Black 2: Alien Escape," Infogrames should have just called it "Men in Black: Alien Escape." That way no one would think it was even remotely like the recent film.

The only aspect of the game that is like the film is a small bit of the ending involving the Statue of Liberty and a Neurolizer..


In all honesty, I didn't pay too much attention to the audio, except for the voice actors. They were pretty good, but let's face it, Tommy Lee Jones, Will Smith, and Rip Torn are the guys we know as Agents K, J, and Zed respectively, and no one is going to be able to play those roles better. They tried to model the characters and hire voices that resemble Tommy, Will, and Rip, but unless they hired the actual actors and got permission to use their likenesses, it's always going to look like a cheap imitation ... which it does.

The weapon graphics were a little flashy, but considering the MIB's arsenal, I expected more flash from the weapons (and where's the Noisy Cricket, by the way?).

The environments were the WORST! They all look bland, muddy, washed-out, and extremely repetitive (especially on the spaceship at the end where every corridor looks just like the last).


To make up for the short and boring game, Infogrames threw in a bunch of unlockables to make you want to play the game again. Unfortunately, they're simply not worth unlocking. I used a cheat code to unlock everything and here's what you'd get: a couple training missions of you in one room shooting an endless supply of aliens (shouldn't these be available from the start as TRAINING for the main game?), profiles of J and K, Boss mode (fight the bosses again), profiles of all the aliens in the game (all of whom are boring and not in the films, except for the manitoba [worm guys]), and a bunch of still frames detailing the making of the game (not the movie). Yawn.



Demolition Racer PlayStation Video Game Review


This review was originally written on August 18, 2002
A Major Let-Down

I bought Demolition Racer because of CrazyGamer's review at GameFaqs. CrazyGamer spoke very highly of the game and even gave it a score of 9 out of 10. However, the game isn't nearly as good as CrazyGamer says it is.


I've played Destruction Derby 1 and Destruction Derby 2 and I liked them a lot. When I read about all the great features in this game, I thought that I would LOVE this game even more ... but sadly, that is not the case.

The first thing you'll notice is how small your choice of cars is. You get three from the start with four (?) more to be unlocked. There is no difference between the cars, except for looks. They all handle the same ... and that's the game's MAJOR problem. As you drive the cars it'll feel like you're driving a tank, until you get to a turn, and then it'll feel like you're driving a paper airplane as your car will go flying high and out of control.


There really isn't a story to the game. All of do is drive around trying to cause the most damage ... enough to progress you through the leagues to the championship.


Audio is okay, but video is the game's other MAJOR problem. While the damage graphics are a little better than Destruction Derby, they still look quite cheap and unrealistic. Also, the tracks look rather bland.

I guess I can't fault the programmers too much on the graphics, since it is a Playstation 1 game (and it definitely LOOKS like one).

Infogrames SHOULD remake this game (or make a sequel) on the Playstation 2. I know the PS2 is capable of producing some fantastic damage graphics and huge tracks (as evident in Twisted Metal Black), and as long as they fix the control and handling of the cars (plus give more selection in tracks and cars - how about license some cars, including famous Hollywood ones), I see no reason why it wouldn't be a hit (and something to add to my want list).


If you can deal with the poor controls/handling of the cars and the poor PS1 graphics, and you have a lot of friends to join in with you, this game will have some replayability for you.


Rent it first, and if you really like it, then buy it.

Driver 2 PlayStation Video Game Review


This review was originally written on July 27, 2002
A Game So Unplayable You'll DRIVE Back To The Store To Return It!

I *LOVE* Grand Theft Auto 3 (for the Playstation 2) and I wanted a game that would be similar to it. I know that no game, except for possibly GTA4, could even come close to GTA3, but I still wanted "more." From what I read about this game, it seemed like a poor man's GTA3. I had Driver 1 on the PC, but could never actually play the game itself because I could not pass that stupid driving test at the beginning of "Undercover" mode. When I read that Driver 2 did not have a driving test, that gave me even more reason to want it.


When I popped the game into my PS2, I immediately went into "Free Ride" mode so that I could get a feel for the controls and check out the scenery a bit. I didn't even move one inch when the cops were after me. Yes, that's right, I was STANDING STILL and the cops were on my butt. If the cops are going to be on me like white on rice, I'd at least like to know WHY. I gave the cops no resistance, allowing them the chance to come up to the car and pull me out (like real cops would, and those in GTA3), but they thought it would be best to just keep ramming me!?!

Since this game lacks the Police Bribes and the Pay And Spray of GTA3, the only way I could get the cops off my tail and reduce my felony meter (the equivalent of GTA3's Wanted stars meter) was to hightail it out of there in the hopes that I could lose them. Even though the game promises that you can wipe your felony meter clean by getting out of your vehicle and carjacking another one, since you can't get out of the car and switch vehicles while being wanted/chased, there's no practical use of this "feature."

I decided to try the main "Undercover" mode, hoping that it would be better. The first mission was simple enough. Get from point A to point B. The first time I tried it I failed it because I didn't get to the place on time (I was going the wrong way from the start). Once I figured out that all I had to do was make two lefts then go right every chance I could, I got to the destination with time to spare. Mission 1 Passed! Perhaps this game WOULD get better ... until Mission 2, that is!

Mission 2 involves you having to follow another car. The problem is, unless you're (at most) two car lengths behind him, the game will say that you lost him and thus failed the mission ... even though his car is clearly visible on the screen! After attempting this mission three or four more times, only to get as far as around the corner, I had enough punishment and immediately decided to bring the game back to the store with my receipt to get a different game. ANY game would be better, even Barney The Dinosaur!

Not even cheats codes could help make this game playable. I used two Game Shark codes to unlock the in-game Invincibility and Immunity (no felony) cheats. However, neither of these would help with mission 2. The Infinite Time Game Shark code would not work, otherwise I *might* have had a chance of barely playing the game ... the key words there are "might" and "barely."



This game has the WORST graphics ever seen in a video game of any age. Pong and Pac-Man look high-tech compared to this.

There is more pop-up in Driver 2 than in a marathon of Pop-Up Video on VH-1. You look ahead and see an open piece of land. You plan to cut across that land in order to make the turn at a high speed without having to slow down (or just to take a shortcut). Just as you get within a car's length of that land, a building pops up out of nowhere. BAM! You crashed and damaged your car. Repeat indefinitely and you've got the graphics of Driver 2.


In order to have replayability, a game must first have playability.



I wouldn't even give the CD to my dog as a chew toy.