Review Roundup 11-2: War and Vision Enhancement

Beautiful Katamari (Xbox 360)

It's official: I'm completely over the novelty of rolling shit up into a ball. It's a shame too, because I absolutely loved the first Katamari Damacy thanks to its novel gameplay and hilarious presentation. It was a great game to show to non-gamers in that "hey, look at how weird this game is" kind of way. Then the sequel came out and the novelty waned a bit. Now, Beautiful Katamari arrives, and gives me a very short experience that I couldn't have cared less about. It's the exact same game as the last two, with virtually no significant upgrades. This should have been a $10 XBLA title at the most, and it's a crime that they're selling "unlockable" levels on the Marketplace despite the fact that the content is already on the disc. Do not buy unless you've never played the series before.

Overall: 6.0

Battalion Wars 2 (Wii)

While I absolutely love the Advance Wars games on the Game Boy Advance and DS, I didn't think the franchise made the 3D transition terribly well with Battalion Wars. Its sequel doesn't make me change my tune much, but the Wii controls are used well. The point-and-click attack controls work fine, and turning is handled better than most similar games on the system. It's visually unimpressive, even considering the Wii's hardware, as textures are blurry and environments are generally bland. If you enjoyed Battalion Wars on Gamecube, this might be worth checking out thanks to the new control method (and lag-free online play). If the last one didn't do much for you, stick with the superior Advance Wars games.

Overall: 7.6

Flash Focus (DS)

It seems that Nintendo is going all-out with the "training" game phenomenon. It's hard to blame them after the massive success of the Brain Age and Big Brain Academy games, but Flash Focus is a bit more confusing. Are they claiming this title actually makes your vision better? Regardless, there's a few fun and simple "tap this, hit this ball, train for boxing" minigames that are decent in short bursts. I doubt it'll come anywhere near the sales of the Brain games, but a certain crowd is bound to have an alright time with it.

Overall: 7.2

Ace Combat 6 (Xbox 360)

Ace Combat 6 is exactly the game you're expecting it to be. It's got a story that no one really cares about and most gamers will skip to in order to get to the dogfighting. It features multiple planes and weapons to purchase. It controls identically to the last 5 games in the series. Despite the fact that it's a complete "been there, done that" experience, it's still actually a lot of fun to play. Every guy in America that's ever seen Top Gun is going to enjoy playing a game like this, and there's no other series that captures that feeling better. The biggest upgrade in this installment is the stunning visuals. Jets and missiles leave fantastic-looking trails, and the sky looks like some insane canvas by the end of most missions. Rivers reflect the sun beautifully, the planes look realistic, and I caught myself just watching the debris fall from downed planes on more than one occasion. If you've ever wanted a nice dogfighting experience on a console, you don't have to look farther than the Ace Combat series.

Overall: 8.3

Namco Museum Remix (Wii)

I'm really not sure what the Namco folks were thinking during the development of Museum Remix. I guess they assumed that they had already released their classic games in their original forms too many times (all the original Namco Museum titles, all the XBLA re-releases), and felt they needed to make them not even resemble the games they're based on. The most confusing to me is Galaga, which is one of the greatest arcade games of all time. As most gamers know, it was a straightforward shooter in which you piloted a ship at the bottom of the screen that shot at space bugs at the top. Now, you play as Pac-Man for some completely inexplicable, pointless reason. He rolls around some kind of space-slide as you point at bugs with the Wii remote and shoot them. It in no way resembles Galaga, and it's not an entertaining experience at all. The rest of the included titles are in a similar vein. They don't control similarly or resemble the originals for the most part, and they'll just make you long for the classic gameplay.

Overall: 5.5


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