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Unreviews - March to October, 2009

Not Every Game Gets Its Own Review, Here Are a Few That Didn't Make It

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Rune Factory: Frontier

Live the exciting life of a farmer!

XSeed

I don’t get around to reviewing every game I check out. Sometimes that’s because I find the game so intolerable that I simply cannot stand to play it. Other times certain games fall by the wayside when I get caught up in other, better games. I spent hours on some of these titles, and scant minutes on others, but they are all games that I ultimately decided not to review. Here is why they didn’t make the cut.

Ghostbusters: The Video Game sounded promising. Not only did most of the movie’s actors reprise their roles in the game, but Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis even did some work on the script. But the actors slept-walked through their roles, and the script was a throwaway. A lot of care went into the movies, but it was clear no one felt the game deserved the same level of care. This was just done for the money. The gameplay, which involves using tools to find and trap ghosts, is fun at first, but is increasingly repetitive. By the time I’d played to the halfway point I had just lost all interest in going any further. Still, if you see it in a bargain bin, I won’t say you shouldn’t give it a try if you feel like it.

Rune Factory: Frontier is a game I really feel I should have reviewed, simply because it is a full-fledged role playing game on a console almost devoid of them. This isn’t a dumbed-down RPG like Dragon Quest Swords: The Mask Queen and the Tower of Mirrors, but a deep, detailed game that is unmatched elsewhere on the Wii.

Unfortunately, it’s not really my kind of RPG. I like dramatic, rather adult titles like Final Fantasy X, but Frontier is one of these rather cutesy games like the Harvest Moon series that I have never been able to get into. It doesn’t help that at first all you do is farm; hoeing, planting seeds and watering your crops. Doing chores is something I enjoy no more in video games than I do in real life. The game has received much critical praise, but even though I played it off and on for months, I could never get into it.

Virtua Tennis 2009 came out around the same time as Grand Slam Tennis, and since they were both MotionPlus tennis games I at first was going to write a single review comparing them. But the more I played, the more I felt Grand Slam Tennis deserved its own review.

Virtua Tennis, on the other hand, just felt clunky. You have to point the remote at a specific area of the screen for a moment every time you want to serve or receive, and you always have to specifically tell the game when you’re using the MotionPlus, making it feel as though the MotionPlus elements had been shoe-horned in at the last minute by programmers who weren’t quite sure what they were doing.

Without MotionPlus, the game is even worse. As the ball approaches, a meter tells you how near it is; swing when an indicator hits the middle of the meter to get off a good shot. This is moronic, as instead of feeling like you’re playing tennis, you feel like you’re playing “watch the meter.” Without the MotionPlus, there is no reason to bother with Virtua Tennis 2009, and if you want a MotionPlus tennis game, Grand Slam is vastly superior.

Major Minor’s Majestic March is a colorful and original rhythm game that proved to be, in the half an hour I tortured myself with it, about as far from fun as imaginable. The game involves leading a marching band by moving your remote up and down. There is a problem inherent in this: it is utterly and completely exhausting. I simply could not tolerate this game.

Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D’s Wheelie Breakers is a weird mix of racing game and card game whose interesting concept is poorly executed. The big problem is the game’s inexplicably awkward method for steering cars. Had they implemented the steering mechanism of games like Mario Kart Wii I might have played more of the game, but I was so frustrated by trying to steer that I gave up quickly.

Vertigo is a cheap knock-off of Marble Saga: Kororinpa that isn’t terrible but simply isn’t particularly engaging. It’s okay if you see it in a bargain bin.

Hysteria Hospital: Emergency Ward is a Diner Dash-style game in which you have to quickly move patients through an emergency room, assigning them to various stations and making sure doctors and nurses attend them. Not bad in small doses, but not really my kind of thing.

PDC World Championship Darts is an entire game devoted to playing darts. You actually take the role of a dart champion in a competition (are there such things as professional dart championships?) I suppose a darts game could be interesting, but this one was dull and too easy.

Squeeballs is mini-game collection like every other mini-game collection except that instead of playing with balls you played with these weird little animalistic creatures. The little creatures are interesting, the mini-games not so much.

New Play Control! Mario Power Tennis seemed decent enough, although all the reviews I read said the original GameCube version was much better. It might be true that controls were more accurate in the original than in this Wii remote retrofitted version, but it is still reasonably fun. I didn’t reject reviewing this so much as just forgot about it as other games were released.

Baseball Blast is a hit-or miss baseball-themed mini-game collection. Some games were decent, some were lame; none made me want to play more.

Madden NFL 10 is a little different from previous Madden games on the Wii, which I have enjoyed. While some critics complained that the game was dumbed down for a casual audience, with cartoony graphics and shallower gameplay, this wasn’t my objection. What I objected to was the lack of a tutorial mode. This is inexplicable; if the game was truly dumbed down, why would you not offer an easy way to learn to play, especially since there were a choice of two separate control schemes and no satisfactory explanation for why you would choose one or the other. If a game’s not going to meet me halfway, well, I’ve got a whole pile of other games to look at.

Pool Hall Pro is a decent little pool game for the Wii. But let’s face it; once you’ve said “decent little pool game” you’ve pretty much said all you can about the game. There’s not enough to say to justify a full review, but if you like the idea of videogame pool on the Wii, go for it.

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