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

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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.

GAMEPLAY MODES

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.

CONTROLS

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.

GRAPHICS

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

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MISCELLANEOUS

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).

WHICH BUST-A-MOVE TO GET?

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

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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

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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.

STORY

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.

GAMEPLAY

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.

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AUDIO & VIDEO

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 FLAWS

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.)

REPLAYABILITY

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!

TO BUY OR RENT?

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

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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.

STORY

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

GAMEPLAY

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.

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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.

AUDIO & VIDEO

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.

REPLAYABILITY

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.

TO BUY OR RENT?

Avoid at all costs!

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

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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.

GAMEPLAY

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!

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STORY

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..

AUDIO/VIDEO

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).

REPLAYABILITY

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.

TO BUY OR TO RENT?

Rent.