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Radio Free Gaming
Reviews in the Hot Seat Volume 1
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on June 09, 2006   |   Episode 4 (Show Archive)  

   
You are listening to Radio Free Gaming. Next up we have an all-new episode that features the Defunct Games staff reviewing all of the newest games. Join Cyril Lachel and guest critic Robert Shea (of Video Game Pulse) as they look at six of the biggest games of May and June.

In this episode we find our review staff judging a table tennis game from an unlikely source, a brand new 2D Mario game, suicidal rodents, a cross-country race that lasts less than ten minutes, and The Da Vinci Code. And that's not all, if we have time we may even give our thoughts on Uno, the newest game on the Xbox 360 Arcade. All this and more when you tune into Radio Free Gaming!
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Episode 4 - Reviews in The Hotseat Volume 1
00:00:00 - Introduction to Radio Free Gaming
00:01:16 - Review of Rockstar Presents Table Tennis
00:06:11 - Review of New Super Mario Bros.
00:10:12 - Review of The Da Vinci Code
00:14:58 - Review of OutRun 2006: Coast 2 Coast
00:19:49 - Review of Lemmings
00:24:41 - Review of Uno
00:28:23 - The Full Recap

(Technical Information: Reviews in The Hotseat Volume 1 runs for 30:00
at a size of 20.5 mb zipped or 20.6 mb unzipped.)
Rockstar Games Presents Table Tennis
Rockstar Games - $39.99 - Released: May 22, 2006
Synopsis: It's a good old fashioned game of Table Tennis brought by Rockstar Games, the people responsible for Grand Theft Auto, Manhunt, and Midnight Club. But don't look for controversy in this outing; it's just a good old-fashioned game of Table Tennis. Choose from eleven different competitors and take on the world through several different tournaments. Instead of focusing their attention on gimmicks and mini games, Rockstar's Table Tennis is an authentic translation of one of the most exciting games to ever be highlighted in the Olympics. So grab your paddle and choose a flag, Rockstar Games Presents Table Tennis is the next must own game for the Xbox 360!

Pros: Rockstar Games Presents Table Tennis does only one thing, but it does it surprisingly well. Although it may sound simple, this is one game of table tennis that has a lot of depth and replay. The controls seem simple at first, but before long you will be working on trick shots, unstoppable serves, and anything else you can get your mind around. Rockstar's Table Tennis features some of the most intense two-player battles you will ever see, and the online tournaments are more fun than you should be having right now. The graphics are amazing, complete with life-like animation and small touches that make everything feel even more authentic. The audio is also top-notch, with an audience that actually sounds like they are watching the same game as you. Rockstar's Table Tennis is an addictive game at a great price.

Cons: Although Rockstar should be commended for what they were able to do, there are a few features missing that would have made this game feel more complete. It would have been nice to be able to play a four-player game, especially when you're playing online. Table Tennis could have used some sort of character editor, something that is standard in nearly every sports game released these days. While the game is fun to play online there are a few complaints that hopefully will be addressed in the near future. For example, it would be nice to be able to rematch the person you just lost to. The online game can be bogged down by lag, although this has so far not been that big of an issue.
New Super Mario Bros.
Nintendo - $34.99 - Released: May 15, 2006
Synopsis: New Super Mario Bros. is exactly what it sounds like; it's a brand new 2D Super Mario game for your Nintendo DS. Featuring elements from both the original Super Mario Bros. game on the NES and the Nintendo 64 classic, Super Mario 64, New Super Mario Bros. is the perfect blend of nostalgia. Featuring dozens of levels and cool power-ups, Mario's latest outing should take you back to a simpler time when all you had to worry about was running from left to right. Along with all of the classic 2D platforming, New Super Mario Bros. offers a unique two-player mode and a treasure chest of interesting mini games. So take a stroll down memory lane and pick up your own copy of New Super Mario Bros. for the Nintendo DS.

Pros: This game proves that 2D Mario is just as much fun now as he was back in the days of the Nintendo Entertainment System and Super NES. The simple game play helps make this game accessible to just about anybody who wants to play. New Super Mario Bros. is full of throwbacks to the older games, including familiar faces and levels. The two player mode is a lot of fun and you can really get lost playing some of the mini games. The presentation is outstanding; this is one of the best games for the Nintendo DS.

Cons: New Super Mario Bros. is a fairly short game that can be beaten in only a matter of hours. There's a real sense that we've been here and done this before (especially when you see some of the familiar areas). The power-ups just aren't as interesting as they were in earlier Mario games. The two-player game is fun but won't keep you entertained for long. Let's hope it's not a decade before Nintendo decides to make another 2D Mario adventure.
The Da Vinci Code
2K Games - $39.99 - Released: May 15, 2006
Synopsis: Based off of the popular Dan Brown book, The Da Vinci Code tells a wild story full of mysteries, conspiracies, and puzzles. This PlayStation 2 game by 2K Games focuses more on the puzzle solving than the mysteries and conspiracies, though. You play Robert Langdon as he races around Europe uncovering the secrets buried inside of Leonardo Da Vinci's work. The Da Vinci Code was released alongside the Ron Howard movie of the same name, featuring Tom Hanks and Audrey Tautou. Unfortunately the game lacks the movie's star power (and production value) and ends up feeling like a missed opportunity. If you're a fan of the book then you may enjoy solving the wide variety of puzzles found in The Da Vinci Code, everybody else may want to sample before buying.

Pros: If you're a fan of PC adventure games (like Myst or 7th Guest) then The Da Vinci Code is for you. This game is at its best when you are solving the various types of puzzles. Best of all, the puzzles in The Da Vinci Code work in the context of the story. While the puzzles can become quite difficult they aren't the type that will leave you frustrated. The game manages to stay closer to the Dan Brown book than the recent Ron Howard movie. The Da Vinci Code is easy to pick up and have a good time with.

Cons: While the puzzles are fun and varied, none of them stand out. Between puzzles you will have to battle it out against guards and monks, unfortunately the fighting system becomes more of a nuisance than anything. The long-winded story becomes boring real quick, and the characters have no emotion at all. Considering the source material, this translation of The Da Vinci feels like a missed opportunity. Although The Da Vinci Code was released along side the movie, neither Tom Hanks nor Andrey Tautou voice the characters. Instead we get two actors who seem to have very little interest in the outcome of the story.
OutRun 2006: Coast 2 Coast
Sega - $29.99 - Released: April 25, 2006
Synopsis: Sony's PSP is lousy with racing games, but none of them have the charm of OutRun 2006: Coast 2 Coast. This is yet another sequel (or is it update?) to the classic 80s racer, OutRun. Things remain the same all these years later; you're still motoring around with your girlfriend in your Ferrari. This is pure arcade bliss; don't expect license tests and customizable cars in OutRun 2006. But if you're in the mood for a cross country race (that can be completed in just a few minutes), then Sega's newest PSP racer just may be for you. Fans of arcade racers owe it to themselves to discover OutRun 2006: Coast 2 Coast!

Pros: OutRun 2006 is incredibly easy to get into, the arcade action makes this an easy game to pick up and play at short bursts. The game is always giving you new tasks to complete while racing, from escaping aliens to dodging meteors to hitting every car in your way. Despite being an arcade racer there is a surprising amount of content in OutRun 2006. This PSP port features all of the extras found in the console versions for the very same $30 price!

Cons: OutRun 2006 is a little too similar to 2004's OutRun 2. Although the game is online it's often difficult to connect with friends and there are rarely other players online. The same problems that dog the online mode also dog the offline multiplayer which doesn't work as advertised. A lot of the extra content is just more of the same; this is the type of racer you might get bored of after only a few days. Although this PSP game features a number of ways to play the game (including the arcade version of the OutRun sequel), there is no love here for the original 1980s OutRun. How hard would it have been to include that tiny little game?
Lemmings
Team17 - $39.99 - Released: May 23, 2006
Synopsis: Lemmings on the PSP is exactly what it sounds like, it's a port of the original Lemmings spruced up and released on Sony's PlayStation Portable. This is a faithful recreation of the classic computer game brought to life on a portable game system in desperate need of high-quality puzzle games. Lemmings manages to perfectly duplicate the fun and excitement of the fifteen year old source material while adding enough new to the mix to make this PSP puzzler easy to recommend.

Pros: Lemmings has never looked better than it does on the Sony PSP, the 3D polygonal graphics shine and give your characters personality. The new graphic engine allows you to zoom in and out of the action, helping you control the chaos on the screen. The new levels are some of the best of any Lemmings game. The game is easy to control and the PSP's widescreen display makes it easy to see all of the action. When you run out of levels to beat you can go online and download hundreds of user-created puzzles. The level editor gives you a reason to keep playing this game long after you've run out of puzzles to solve. As a portable game Lemmings works perfectly, it's easy to play for just a few minutes (or hours, if you have the time).

Cons: Lemmings is a port of a 15 year old game and outside of the graphics not much has changed. While the control works fine you just can't beat playing the game with a mouse. Of the 150 levels 120 of them are retreads from the original, and not all of those levels are worth playing. The level editor is hopelessly difficult to use. While there are a lot of levels online for you to download most of them aren't worth your time or memory. This PSP version of Lemmings does not feature any multiplayer support, which is odd since older versions have.
Uno
Carbonated Games - 400Microsoft Points - Released: May 9, 2006
Synopsis: Microsoft's newest Xbox Live Arcade game is also one of the best-loved card games of all time. It's Uno, the exciting four-player game that has you doing everything in your power to get rid of the cards you have in your hand. This $5 Xbox 360 Arcade game offers a number of exciting game types that you can play with up to three other people online. Uno players can even choose between the standard Uno cards or the special 35th Anniversary cards which change some of the rules. It may not have the fancy graphics of Ghost Recon or Project Gotham Racing, but Uno is every bit as exciting as those more expensive Xbox 360 games.

Pros: Believe it not Uno is one of the most addictive games on the Xbox 360. Uno features a whole host of different game types and even a couple of different decks of cards. The action is fast and furious online. You can use your Xbox 360 remote control to play. The Achievement Points are fun to collect. Uno on the Xbox 360 is actually cheaper than buying a pack of Uno cards!

Cons: You cannot play the game with more than one person on the same system. The music is simply awful; it's enough to make you never want to hear music of any kind ever again. The single player game isn't nearly as interesting as the online game. Some of the modes are more fun than others (and a few of the game modes last too long). Some may wonder why they are playing something like Uno on their $400 Xbox 360 system.
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