Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones (Game Boy Advance)
Rated E

Yoda can’t even save this game. The only force you will get while playing this game is the one telling you to bury it in the same landfill where 5 million copies of E.T. for the Atari 2600 was buried.
Yes, it’s that awful. And me being a Star Wars fan, that’s saying a lot.
Let me start off with the one and only redeeming quality of this game. The music. It seems the music was ripped from the movie and inserted in the game. I hate to steal quotes, but Reiner from Game Informer said it best - "Perfect for blind people!"
God, I wish I were blind, because actually playing this game and watching the shit that passed for graphics is now etched in my mind forever. Stevie Wonder, you’re a lucky guy to not have to suffer through this one!
Now I mentioned graphics - I’ve seen better quality on an Atari 2600 game than I have here with this. It’s another case of a rushed movie product tie-in. They know that the fan-boys will flock to see the movie, and to buy anything associated with it. God, George Lucas makes a killing at screwing the people over Just remember this guys, he’s the one responsible for bringing Howard The Duck to the big screen. If that doesn’t lay a bad taste in your mouth, then keep playing this game.
Controls suck. You try to do an attack - no response. You have to hit the button a few times to sometime do a jump. And on top of that, nothing is fluid.
I thought that Mortal Kombat Advance was a shit game. Well, it still is, but just like the movie did on opening day, Attack of the Clones is #1. For the game, #1 in the shit barrel.Avoid this game at all costs. I’m sure the force is telling you to buy this, but please, don’t go to the Dark Side with this one. It’s not worth it.

Frogger Advance - The Great Quest (Game Boy Advance)
Rated E

Yeah, well Donkey Kong and Diddy Ko... oh wait, you know, I thought I had played this game before! For the most part if you played the Donkey Kong Quest games on the Super NES, and replaced all the monkey characters with frogs, then you have Frogger Advance. Not so much of an advance, huh?
Well, before I go and bash this game I’ll give it some credit. The music isn’t half bad, and the designers responsible for bringing Tony Hawk and Crash Bandicoot to this handheld did a great job. However, it’s nothing new or innovative.
However, for a platform game, it’s decent. just the old case of been there, done that. Now, does it beat out the DKC series. Not even close. Game play is too easy, and you can beat this game quickly.
I recommend this for the kids, or those that want Platform Gaming Lite. Filler, not killer.

PaRappa The Rapper 2 (PlayStation 2)
Rated E

Chop, kick, it’s all in the mind, PaRappa is back... bustin’ rhymes to knock you on your behind!
Ok, so I’m never going to make it a freestyle rapper, sue me!
Anyway, after achieving cult status with the original PaRappa, Sony decides to bring PaRappa to it’s PS2 in PaRappa The Rapper 2.
The story starts of simple - PaRappa won a contest at the burger joint - he won a bunch of noodles (yes at a burger joint. Remember, this came out in Japan, folks). At first, he thought it was great, but after eating them every day for breakfast, lunch and dinner - he didn’t want to see another noodle. So, when going to Sunny’s house to eat, what is he treated to? Yup. Noodles. So, Sunny disses him and calls him a baby, and PaRappa leaves. That’s right PaRappa, don’t let a woman diss your manhood. You don’t want noodles, so you should of said something like "Bitch, I ain’t down with no noodles. Make me some fucking meat loaf and bring me a beer, you two dime ho!" You’re a thug rapper, start acting like one!
Anyway, PaRappa decides to get his eats on by going to the burger joint. He asks for his burger, and all he gets is noodles. Yes, the whole town is invaded with this "noodlization," where all the food has turned to noodles. It’s the damned Noodle Syndicate! Those bastards! Can this noodlization stop? Can PaRappa step up to be a man? I won’t spoil the story, but all I have to say is.... "you gotta believe!"
Now let me go to the music in the game. Yes, the music is just as catchy as the first one. What does that mean? It means that while you are at work, you’ll either be humming these tunes, or singing them. That’s how it was for anyone who played the first PaRappa, and that’s how it’s going to be for this game. Trust me, it’s already happened to me. Even more, you can play these tracks in a regular CD player. That’s right - the game has playable tracks on it! You gotta love it! De La Soul does a song in this game, so by that alone you should check it out.
Now for the visuals - nothing that impressive. It’s basically the same from the original, so we‘ve seen it before. I guess if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. But, it would have been nice to see a little improvement somehow.
Controls aren’t as forgiving as the first game, however. You have to be dead on exact if you want to keep the score at good. And, sometimes that sucks because you’ll forget which button is with the pressure. Not to worry - take the instruction booklet and turn it around. You get a nice big picture of the controller (in case you need help ‘getting that funky flow’) to guide you.
There are more options here to choose from the first game. First, before each level there is a little practice mode. Sometimes it helps, but at times I just wished I could skip over it. That damned Boxy Boy sounded like Carvel’s Cookie Puss. Ok, while I’m on the subject of the character voices, doesn’t PaRapa sound like a mix between a high-pitched Puerto Rican and Emenem? Had to say it, because I’ve thought that for a while.... ok, back to options. You can do the single play, which will have the whole story mode. You can do head-to-head play (once a stage is cleared, you can go and rap head to head with the computer player or a second player), VS player 2 play (two player do a rap battle. The one that has the most rhythm and style will win. And, by judging by my ‘lyrical’ abilities in the beginning of this review, you will already know I suck!), and you can have a rap-off against the computer. A good part of these additions were in Um Jammer Lammy, and it’s good to see PaRappa to have those options. It’s what it needed in the first one.
Overall, nothing new and exciting here but it’s just a fun game. Just as addictive as the first - in game play and with the songs. Fans of the first one, and of the music game genre will really get a kick out of this. I just wish that the game was a little longer - it was just as long as the first one. You can seriously beat the game in an hour or two. But, it’s still fun to play over and over again, and with the other game modes, it gives it more play time over and over again.
Seriously, any game that has Chop Chop Master Onion doing an adult show called "Romantic Karate" - it’s a must own.

Aggressive Inline (Game Boy Advance)
Rated T
Just when everyone thought that, as far as portable games, the Tony Hawk series was the one to beat, along comes Aggressive Inline. Well, it doesn’t exactly beat the Tony Hawk games, but I have to admit, it comes pretty damn close.
First what stands out the most is the music - something that the portable Tony Hawk games should take note of. Take a look Activision - with songs from Saliva, The Vandals, Black Sheep, Eric B. & Rakim, Student Rick and a few others I left out, Tony Hawk fails in comparison. The songs, as compressed as they are, sound damn fine on this little handheld, and I think most games now for this system have to play catch up now.
Something else that stood out was the graphics - incredible! With the music going, there was no lag is the flow of animations, and that surprised the hell out of me. It just goes to show the power that this machine has.
However, there is one thing that is lacking in the game that the Tony Hawk camp excels in - controls. When pulling a jump, you never know which direction you will turn in, if it be skating backwards, frontward, upside down... well, you can’t do it upside down, but to say it simply, the controls are very awkward. However, pulling tricks are a little easy with some one-two button combos. I’m not just going to say this about the controls for the portable. It’s bigger brother on the consoles also suffer this.
Now, am I going to recommend this game? Hell yes! It’s one of the better "extreme" sport titles for this, as well as any other, console out there. I think Konami could learn a little too - if you have tried their "extreme" sport games, then you would know what I’m talking about. It’s not as good as the Tony Hawk games, but it gives it a serious run for the money.Plus, I just like being able to skate to Black Sheep. Engine, engine number nine...


Britney's Dance Beat (Game Boy Advance)
Rated E

The dancing game genre hasn't had much of a dent in the American market. However, there is a cult following for such games as Bust-A-Groove (or Bust-A-Move in Japan. Don't be mistaken though, because the Bust-A-Move puzzle game in the States is known as Puzzle Bobble in Japan, which is logical because the main characters in the game are the same two characters in the Bubble Bobble series. Got it straight now? On with the review...) or Dance Dance Revolution in these parts.

However, with the celebrity power of Britney Spears, the dance game genre might create a small explosion here. Or at least more spurts of these type of games.

You are Britney Spears, and the name of the game is, well to dance. How is this possible? Well, first you start off in practice mode to get you in the groove. At the start of practice, it gets you used to the controls with the beats. Watching Spears dancing in the game is a waste of time - the name of the game is to look at the meter on which button, direction or both that you have to move in. And, you have to match or beat a target score to go on to the next level. Sounds easy? Well, it is a challenge, and I'm really good at these type of games.

The practice mode just has you trying to match beats with the A button, but when you get more in the practice levels, you'll start to get the B button in there as well as some movement from the directional pad. Once you complete practice mode, it's off to concert mode to show off your skills.

Concert mode is a lot like practice mode, only it does get more and more difficult as it goes on. However, to help encourage you on in the game, you can earn tour photos of Spears, a mini puzzle game, and if you beat the game, you get a small video snippet of Spears' "Protected."

The music throughout the game, while you don't hear all the vocals but get a few samples, sounds really well coming from this little handheld. Very surprised on how well the video clip came across as well.

One of the gripes I have about the game is trying to watch the button/direction meter. At times you strain just to see it, especially when you have to look at the arrows for the directional pad.

Also, when you do watch Spears dance, she looks very grainy and the dance moves are sometimes choppy.

Also, she's not wearing the hot sexy red leather outfit, the school girl outfit, or any of her slutty get-ups. It's a game designed to go for the children market, but wish there was something for the horny teenage/young adult males. Despite that, Britney's Dance Beat is a solid game that is a challenge for young and old.

And, yes, I admit I'm a fanboy. Britney, my phone awaits your call... I know you and Justin are no more. You need a rebound man? Let me be that for you...

Review - Salt Lake 2002 (Game Boy Advance)
Ubi Soft
Rated E

Well, the Winter Games at Salt Lake City are long over, but some of the excitement of it all remains fresh in the minds of all.

However, this game just sucks all the excitement out of your life.

It's a shame that there hasn't been a really good Olympic style game since the good old Summer Games I & II, Winter Games, and World Games from Epyx on the old Apple II and Commodore 64 computers.

Salt Lake City 2002 just doesn't have any flair or fun. It just seems they needed a quick game to tie in to all the buzz. They got a quick game, and it shows.

The controls are just boring, and the graphics are bland. Honestly, how much fun can curling be? What drunk on ice made this damn game up and passed it off as a sport? It doesn't look like a fun game. It looks like a lot of work, just as much work to stomach this game.

If you want to show your support for the USA, or whatever country you're from, don't do it by playing Salt Lake City 2002. Wave a flag. Volunteer for social charities to help others in your countries. remember those that fought for your country. Don't play this game.


Mortal Kombat Advance (Game Boy Advance)
Rated M

Mortal Kombat was always one of my favorites of the 2D fighters, number one being the whole Street Fighter series, or just about anything from the Capcom library. Now, Capcom continued to make some damn good games, most recently the Capcom Vs. SNK on Play Station 2 - an excellent fighter if you don't want to fall prey to the whole 3D gaming deal. Capcom will always continue to make the best 3D fighters, even on the portable systems. Street Fighter II Revival was just good, even though it needed a few more buttons to play, but it was still functional.

But, right now, I'm talking about Mortal Kombat Advance. and functional isn't a word I would use to describe it. Shit? Well, if there were a stronger word I can think of to use right about now, but shit will do for now. This game stinks like a turd that has been left in a piss-filled toilet for months. Not that I know what that smells like, but I can imagine it wouldn't be too good.

Let me start off with the sounds. Actually, that's it's only redeeming feature. Sounds sound like they did when they were in the arcade with other versions of the game. The whole gruffy, evil voices telling you to 'FIGHT' to "FINISH HIM' - it's all there. Even the background music sounds decent. But, that's about the only good you'll get out of this game.

You can't help but wonder where the game testers were for this piece of swill. Anytime you try to pull a simple move like a kick, it seems like the controls won't allow for it. Anytime you try to do a combo, you just can't do it. MKA is a game that needs all the buttons to play - that's true, but it helps that with the buttons that you do have, you can actually maybe pull a punch every now and then.

The collision detection in the game is so off. Punches and kicks in an actual wrestling event look more realistic. How is that? Wrestling gives an illusion someone is getting hit. You don't even get hit in this damn game, yet the blood spills from you. What gives?

Graphics are not the best - very pixilated, and makes you wonder why they just couldn't do an exact translation from Super Nintendo's Mortal Kombat II. At least that game was enjoyable and close to the arcade that you can get. MKA is on hardware more powerful, yet it's a substandard game. Something doesn't make sense here, and you, the video game public, shouldn't have to put up with this - a game company that has a strong license that people know and will flock to buy and puts out a rushed piece of crap.

I'm sorry that this isn't a glowing review. I just feel really cheated by Midway after having this game in my GBA. It's not worth to buy new for the $40+ it sells for in the stores, it's not worth to buy it used, it's not worth a rental at Blockbuster, it's not worth stealing, if it's on-line - it's not worth the time to download it, and if you see it in a bargain bin - it's still not worth it.

Yes, it's that bad of a game, and I hope that you don't share in the same horrid experience as I did having to play it.

By the way, did I mention that this game is shit? If not, I'll tell you now. This game is shit. It's not worth me talking about it anymore. It got more attention that it deserved already.

Yes, it's shit. Flush it down the toilet, and pray it doesn't clog.

Super Bust-A-Move (PlayStation 2)
Rated E

Puzzle games on any console are usually a safe bet - they are good for parties, they are good for the boyfriend and girlfriend moments to share a game experience, and even your parents can play. These games can usually be a huge hit (anyone hear of a game called 'Tetris' that took away countless hours of our lives?) or they can just outright suck ass (remember that crappy Tetris clone 'Columns' that Sega put out?). The Bust-A-Move series has always been one of those games that are a safe bet for the hit factor. It is so in this instance with Super Bust-A-Move, but it's not as good as it usually is.

The whole Bust-A-Move game play is simple to learn, but difficult to master. You must try to eliminate all the colored bubbles on the screen by matching up three or more of the same color. It might seem easy, but you have to have precise aim and accuracy to make sure you get the bubbles where you want them to go, and plus they are falling down on top of you like invaders in... well, Space Invaders (Hmmm... and Bust-A-Move is a Taito license, and so is Space Invaders... it's weird how it all falls into place...). Game play varies from level to level, adding other elements such as magical bubbles to get rid of certain colors, and some bubbles that won't break at all. Sounds like fun, right?

Well, honestly, it is a fun game. I have always enjoyed this series, but for some reason it's not as fun as it used to be.

Don't get me wrong, the game play is still the same as it has been in past versions of it. But, for some reason, Super Bust-A-Move is very distracting. How so? I think maybe it's all the crazy animations and the flashy colors that are used here. Maybe they are just trying to utilize the hardware and show off some special effects - I'm not sure. But I am sure that because of this reason alone, it's not too easy on the eyes when playing, and you just end up wanting to shut it off sooner than you should. It's a shame, because the Bust-A-Move series is a decent series. It's just that this one isn't as stellar as Bust-A-Move 4 for the Play Station. I think the newer versions of Tetris suffer from this - even though it's the same game, they break away from why the game was so popular, and try to incorporate more flash and flare.

Talk about overkill. Why mess with what made the game work?

However, that aside, it's still a great game to play. Puzzle mode is a one player deal, and it's fun. Playing against the computer also makes for some competition for the friendless (or those that consider their PS2 their best friend). However, this game really shines when playing in two player mode. You have to admit, two player games are fun, especially when having a party and doing elimination competitions.

If you're looking for a great party game to do that with, I suggest Super Bust-A-Move, but... be lucky that the PS2 can support the PSX games. I'd go with Bust-A-Move 4 personally, but Super Bust-A-Move is a nice alternative.

Another good reason to get this game - it's somewhat a budget title. You can go to some of the leading electronic retail stores and get this game for less than $20 new. Other new games that cost more than that aren't all it's cracked up to be. It's a safe bet that this will be enjoyed by someone who will play it in your house.

State of Emergency (PlayStation 2)
Rated M
Rockstar Games

Public Enemy has often told us to "don't believe the hype." Why might that be? Well, probably because if you fall into it, you might get disappointed in the end. To some degree, that's how I felt with State of Emergency.

Don't get me wrong, it's a bad-ass game, but with all the leaks about this game earlier, and after the situation of 9/11, this game was hyped to the point of controversy, and delaying the game for a later release date.

Well, the time has come and gone and I'm sure some of the hype will be because of the extreme violent nature of this game - come on, now how many games do you know of that you can take someone's limb and use it as a weapon? Not many that I know of, and that is part of the 'charm' to this game, but, after hours and hours of playing, it becomes redundant.

Well, let me start off that for those that have lived in a cave, State of Emergency is a game much in the vein of the old school scroller beat-em' ups, just like Double Dragon, Final Fight, and River City Ransom. However, it's on the 3D scale, and a billion times more bloody than any of those games put together. Plus, you have more weapon choices that are for the taking, and as I said earlier, you can bash someone's head using... well, someone's decapitated head.

I can say that this alone is a great stress reliever for those 'hard days at work." Also a little different is that you have missions that you have to do, much like Grand Theft Auto 3, but on a smaller scale (well, there are more missions to do than in GTA3, but they are all like small mini-missions... so it's all condensed in my opinion), and has to be done on a quicker time. This alone makes the game a fun time. Also, what is much impressive is all the goings on at once - Rockstar claims that there can be up to 200+ people at one time in areas, and I believe it. With all the fast paced action of a riot, you can see it. This alone is impressive, and must be seen to believe. However, a lot of what I said that was good is at many times distracting with the game play.

With so much going on all at once, it's sometimes hard to follow where your ass or your elbow is. Yes, it gets that chaotic, and at times, just almost impossible. Plus, the camera angles aren't as polished as they were in Grand Theft Auto 3. It looks like the camera man was asleep and was off angle. However, you can adjust that, but, it distracts from the flow of game play.

Once you start killing people, forget it! You are a hunted man, and the police, gangs, mad bombers, and other anarchists will be on you like white on rice. It's a pretty intense game, and if you're not careful, the game won't be going on for much long. The AI is in just attack mode, so... just run and get a gun!

Now... about the whole hype thing, like I said before, you'll probably hear some press about this game, and hey, it might even become banned in Australia as well. But, all that coverage won't be as strong as it was for Grand Theft Auto 3. GTA3 had a good story line and made you want to play over and over again to try to see what happens next in the missions and so forth. SoE is just an average beat-em' up in a very violent, but pretty package.

Well, this is another game that I don't recommend parents to rush out and get for their children. But, at least Rockstar was smart this time around - they actually put a label on it that says 'Warning - Check ID' on it. Gee, I wonder if this had anything to do with the huge rush of parents seeking out this game for Christmas, and when they played it in front of grandma, you ended up taking her to the hospital after she saw little Jimmy get a prostitute in his car, take her to the alley, screw her, then beat her to a pulp and get his money back. Ah, a mistletoe moment - getting a groove on in a stolen car. Ah!

Anyways, let me ask you this - should you believe the hype all surrounding SoE? To a point, yes. It actually a fun game to play and is entertaining. But, it will leave some people with weak stomachs with a bad taste in their mouth. Hey, I'll eat almost anything, so this game went down ok for me. A little heartburn here and there, but other than that, all is ok. I recommend it, but not as highly as I did for Grand Theft Auto 3. This is a nice little appetizer. I would loved to have maybe seen a split screen two player mode as well - then it would be more fun at a party or when a friend drops by to want to share his angered aggressions. But, let's hope for a better sequel for it to happen.

Parents, now you know, and there is a warning label on the game. We don't want (and I'm sure the game retailers don't want) to hear your yaps about how this game is. You don't want to subject children to it, then DON'T FUCKING BUY IT... unless you want the kid to learn the riot trade...

Namco Museum (PlayStation 2)
Rated E

Sure, I might have reviewed the Game Boy Advance version of this game, but... I feel I have to review this one as well. Why is that? Well, because some old games are still really good games, and the games that were on the smaller screen are easier to play. Plus, it's like having two GBA games on one CD, plus some more. Don't understand where I'm coming from? Well, let me explain further.

Well, if you've played Namco Museum and the Pac Man Collection for GBA, they are both included on this game. Even better, there are more games included! Enhanced versions of Dig Dug and Galaga are on here, as well as Pole Position II.

All I can say that I haven't said before is that all these games were meant to be played on a bigger screen, and all of the games are emulated nicely on here. You can even get some of the backgrounds from the arcade cabinets on here. Plus, with the Pole Position games - you get a good use of the pressure sensitive Dual Shock 2 controllers. A little tap will make you move a little, hold it down and you make a quick turn.

Sure, this is a short review, but... you just can't beat the games on this collection. Plus, it retails for about $30. So, it's $2.50 per game... hmmm.... I think it's worth it. Look at it this way - you'll save a shit load of money plunking down quarters to play these games, so this is a must have, especially for the retro gamer.

The King of Fighters '99 (PlayStation)
Rated T

I was really hungry for a 2D fighter. I'm such a big fan of the whole 2D fighter genre - my favorite would happen to be the Street Fighter series, with Mortal Kombat in second. King of Fighters is also a fun series, but... it's more fun in the arcades and it just isn't that much fun on the console.

First, let me start of with the graphics. All the characters are very pixilated. Even when using the PlayStation 2's smooth feature, it just doesn't help matters much at all. Also, call me jaded with PS-X's Street Fighter Alpha 3 (with the beautiful graphics and close to no load times - making it an almost perfect translation from the arcade), but the load times on this bad boy seems like it's an eternity! Even using the double speed loading with the PS2, it still just doesn't do it. Oh well, at least tat is the only bad thing about the game. Now, on with the good qualities.

First, the play action is pretty good - controls are pretty accurate, and closely resemble the arcade version. Not as solid as some of the other fighters, but I always felt this with most SNK fighters.

Also, I love the whole team fighters - it makes for longer game play, and you can play with other characters that you might not have picked before.

Another reason to buy it - where else you going to get a semi-decent 2D fighter new for $9.99? That's right folks, this is a budget title. AgeTec, as well as other companies, have been pumping out games like crazy for the PS-X Stateside to cash in on the $99 PSOne, and for other gamers looking for 2D fighter to play on their PS2.

So, yeah, you get what you pay for, but with this, you do get a little more. If it weren't for the long ass load times, I would have given this more praise, but... long load times in between fights just takes away from the whole gaming experience. Oh well, still worth the money despite it all - a poor man's Street Fighter, but still a worthy title to own. Hey, at least it's not Mortal Kombat Advance... talk about a turd in a punchbowl.

Grand Theft Auto 3 (PlayStation 2)
Rated M
Rockstar Games

You know what I wanted for Christmas this past year? I wanted a game where I can stop a taxi and jump on top of it, grab my sniper rifle and start pegging people as I’m street surfing only to have the cops start chasing after me. Once that scene gets old, I’d go to a highly crowded area with my flame thrower, then just turning them all into burnt steak. Still not satisfied, I steal a car, pick up a prostitute to get me groove on, take t the alley to do the business, and then when I’m done, just grab my bat, beat her to a pulp and take my money back. I don’t like to pay for a fuck, and I won’t start now (but if not money, we all pay somehow, am I right? Anyway...). I wanted a game that was recently banned in Australia, and getting pulled off the shelves in some retail outlets across the globe.

Well, with that on my Christmas list Santa answered my call with a great game - Grand Theft Auto 3.

This is a major change from the previous two GTA games. First that is noticeable is the perspective of play. You can select it as a 1st person point-of-view, a 2nd person point-of-view, and for the GTA purist there is even an overhead mode. Everyone should be satisfied there.

The controls are top notch in this game. Thanks with the PS2 sensor sensitive controller, just tap the left, the car make a small little turn to the left. Hold it down and you could be doing doughnuts. Walking is easy - do it with the keypad or with the L3 controller. Trying to control the weapons and functions with the different R and L buttons is a little tricky at first, especially once you’re used to one weapon and then trying to use the same functions. For instance, if you use a pistol, all you have to do is shoot. But to target someone, you have to use the R1 and L1 buttons to switch directions. Then when you switch to a sniper rifle, you can’t just go and shoot. You have to target someone first with R1, take air and then shoot. With this though, I’m happy with the realism the weapons are used. If anyone has played the old GTA games, if you used a flame thrower on a car, the car would just explode if you held the flame on it. However, in GTA3, the car will have a flame on it for a while, and then after time, it will blow up - with car pieces flying.

The story mode is great. You get involved with mobsters and other individuals by doing ‘jobs’ to make your cash. I haven’t gotten that far in the game for one reason - in between missions, and once I saved my game after a mission, you can just go buck wild. You want to go on a mass killing spree in Liberty City, then go ahead. I think this was done on purpose - because once you beat a game, chances are you won’t play it over again. This game however allows for unlimited possibilities - how far can you get your meter up until all hell breaks loose? What damage can you do once your shield is gone? How many insane stunts can you do with your car? You want to earn extra money as a taxi driver or policeman? What the hell else can I do? With GTA3, those questions will never get old, as for different things happen all the time. It’s like we get the elements of Driver and Golden Eye that made them fun in one perfected package for a gamers delight.

The game’s AI is really good. Once your star rating goes to one, you’ll maybe have a cop coming up to you, possibly going to duke it out then bust your ass. Once you kick his ass and beat him to a pulp, your rating will then bump up to two, and you’ll have the cop cars coming to surround you and try to shoot. You run it, they will shoot and they will have cars sent after you. The only thing to do there is to just set everyone on fire, blow up the cop cars, steal a car, and then watch what happens. Your rating should go up to three, and that’s when game play gets crazy. Cop cars will run into your car during chases. If you’re on foot, they will try to run you down. Even the helicopters will be following you. I’ve only gotten my rating up to four, and I would love to see the mayhem that would occur if you hit the max level at six. I’ve seen someone do it at five, where the FBI gets involved and they are worse than the cops! But, to remedy all this (without the programmed cheats or a Game Shark) is to steal a car and to go to one of the three spray and repair shops at The Red Light District, Portland; Newport, Staunton Island; and Pike Creek, Shoreside Vale. It’ll cost you a $1000, but it’ll clear your meter, and will make any repairs that your car needs.

More with the AI, when hitting people, it’s a lot of fun! You can ‘smack your bitch up’ if you wanted to, but don’t think she’s going to take it like a $5 whore. These are some tough hoes, so expect her, as well as others, to not take it lightly. Even the little old ladies will fight back. I guess if you live in Liberty City, you have to be tough. Also, if you mess with another gang - say if you are in the Diablo gang district and steal one of their cars, they will chase after you until you get out of their district. And, they won’t forget. As soon as you step back into their district, people will start shooting at you to make sure your stay isn’t a welcome one.

Now, the graphics - what more can I say? It’s just beautiful! It’s everything that you wanted in an action movie, it’s here. Different camera angles, realistic explosions, fluid animations - there isn’t more you can say but ‘WOW!’ My only gripe, however, was with the cut scenes at times. Although they were very good, I couldn’t help but think that somehow, they could have tried to make them look a little realistic. I know that they were probably going for a characteristic deal with this, but, the rest of the game screams realism, so why shouldn’t the cut scenes? Despite that though, you got something special.

Music in this game is top notch. The in-house music is done with such professional quality, and there is even music included from Luciano Pavarotti (on Double Cleff FM), The Scientist (on K-Jah), and even music from the movie ‘Scarface’ (on Flashback FM). You can’t beat speeding around in a stolen car on a huge police chase while listening to ‘Chi mi frena in tal momento’ on the radio. Beautiful.

Now, this isn’t a game to get junior. Oh no, it is not. What parents have to learn after this game (because I’m sure that a lot of kids asked for this game for Christmas, not knowing what it was all about, and when they played it in front of grandma, they had to take her to the hospital for what she was seeing, and when trying to return the game they couldn’t because of the ‘no return on opened games and software’ policies across the land) is to read up on games. Games are not for kids anymore. Games are being made for adults with adult themes. Didn’t anyone look at the game’s M rating, and asked the person working the counter about the game? Probably not, and it’s your fault as a parent to not realize what you were getting yourself into. Get to know the rating systems on games, and then read up on the game to find out what it was all about. Be lucky that ‘Primal Image’ for PS2 was never released in the States (and probably never will) - imagine nude models in different poses mixed with ‘Pokemon Snap’ and you have ‘Primal Image.’ Hmm, time to get the PS2 mod CDs or chips and do a little import ordering, huh? Anyway, for parents who have purchased this game for little 8 year old Todd and are in a shit fit because he’s getting his groove on in the alleyway, learn about what your child wants and don’t just get it - automatically thinking that it’s a video game and that it’s ok isn‘t realistic. Be involved. I get angry when parents blame the game companies for making these games, when it should be themselves they should blame for being ignorant to purchase it in the first place without a clue. Stop trying to ban things after the fact. If you don’t like, don’t buy it. Simple as that, and don’t ruin if for gamers that are mature enough to distinguish between a video game and the real world, because when you’re a child, those worlds blur. Ok, enough of the preaching, and back to the review...

GTA3 is a game that has everything that a gamer has been looking for some time now - realistic situations, realistic storyline, and pure adrenaline rush. When you feel you have played enough for the day, the guilty pleasure kicks in to make play again for a couple hours. GTA3 is a one-player game, but still great for parties, because once you’re done with a mission, you’re free to go crazy in the town, and everyone will want to have the controller in their hand to show their friends what kind of a ruckus they can create. Not Twister, but just as fun.

It just makes you wonder - if they do make another GTA4 (and I’m sure people will be wanting this title), what can they do to enhance it just a little more?

Well, nothing too drastic from the game play that they have now - it works great. But, maybe some other situations or scenarios could make it more of a reason for parents to go out and ban it.

My ideas? Why not take someone hostage? Go behind someone with a knife or gun and hold it to the side of their head, tie them up, and have the police chase you then. See how careful they would be to shoot at you with another person. Even better, to try to negotiate with police or FBI to reduce your meter or to get more money, or even both.

How about rape? I know it’s not a pleasant thing to imagine (the thought does bother me), but even still, it would be an interesting element to see what would happen - the girl could totally give in and cave, or she can totally beat your ass and run into the street screaming and the police will be on your ass like white on rice.

How about maybe branching off into your own business instead of working with others? The alliances you build now become your enemies in an interesting twist.

More weapons would be a great bonus. Acid would be cool. Throw a bottle of it in someone’s face and watch the glass cut their face, and the acid eat at their flesh. More items with either timed detonations or with controlled detonations.

Although the freedom in the game is close to unlimited, I would love to be able to go into more buildings - maybe I run into the wrong person and a shoot out occurs. Maybe no one is home, and just rob the hell out of them and trade it off at a pawn shop. Maybe there is a hottie in the house, and I can try to seduce her, and if that doesn’t work, either take her hostage or rape her.

The game tackled lots of ideas, but to make a GTA4, you would need something just a little more to give it that extra kick. Some of these ideas might work out well.

This game is just incredible, and not for the weak at heart. An adult game taking place in a realistic adult world is not for the children. However, if you’re a mature gamer and can handle it, you’ll get a pure rush from this game and you won’t want to quit playing - even if your eyes turn bloodshot from looking at the TV and your wrists and fingers are numb from the controller. Easily one of the best games of 2001, and a great game to pass countless hours, days and even weeks with.

Namco Museum (Game Boy Advance)
Rated E

Well, as many people that know me (and now for those that don’t), I’m a huge classic gaming dork. Name an old system, I’ve probably already have owned it, or probably still own it. Call it a mania, call it a hobby, or just call it sick - whichever you prefer, but when I want to play a game to relax me without all the plots and twists, I revert back to the good old days - when home systems were 4 to 8 bits and when it only cost a quarter to play an arcade game.

Even with the newer systems, classic games of old will always appear on the newer systems. I’ll even still go to the arcade and look for a Ms. Pac-Man machine. Remember, these games paved the way for the games of today

I still love all the newer systems as well. Already own a PS2 and Game Boy Advance, and will probably get a Game Cube and X-Box (despite the shitty design on their game controller. Horrid.)... but, I have to pay the bills first.

Speaking of classic games and Game Boy Advance, there is a game collection that people my age might appreciate - Namco Museum. Ah, yes! All the good games of this era are represented - Ms. Pac-Man, Dig Dug, Pole Position, Galaga, and Galaxian. Now, how well do they fair on this powerful handheld? Are they represented well?

First, let me get into the overall sound in the game. I swore I was at the arcade. Namco Museum captures all the blips and music and other sounds perfectly in this release. Ms. Pac-Man’s gobbles, the cars turning quickly in Pole Position, the music when you move in Dig Dug, and the fire and blasts used in both Galaga and Galaxian. Now, like I said before, I swore I was at the arcade when hearing the sounds, but on the portable, you do have limitations.

First, let me get into my major gripes with both Galaga and Galaxian. It’s hard enough to see the screen on the GBA games (Nintendo, have you ever heard of a backlit screen? Come on now...), but to try to shrink the game to fit on the GBA screen... ugh! I can understand that Namco is trying to have the arcade feel to the games, but if you have a poorly lit screen and you have to bring the GBA right up to your face to see the screen, then the feel is lost, and makes the games close to unplayable. Controls are, however despite the visibility, are tight and as good as the arcade.

Another problem is with playing Ms. Pac-Man (one of my favorite games) in the full screen mode. It suffers the same fate as the Galaga and Galaxian games - too small, and at times not worth the eye strain. However, Namco knows not to fuck with a franchise when it comes to the masses, so they have included a scroll mode, so it is larger to see, and you can also scan other areas of the maze using the L and R buttons. At least this way, you can actually enjoy Ms. Pac-Man. Like with Galaga and Galaxian, the controls are solid.

Now, the two games that do the arcade translations justice are Dig Dug and Pole Position. Both games are in full screen mode so you’re not sacrificing a thing at all. I wish that Dig Dug also had a scroll mode at times as well. The game is perfectly playable, but after a while, it will fall to what I have said earlier about the previous three games. It’s not as bad as the other games, but it will get to that point eventually. And then there is Pole Position. Easily the best looking game in this collection. No eye strain involved here. And if you’re worried about switching to lo and high gears without a foot peddle (which I hated in the arcade, because I was too short), that’s not a problem. You have the A button for gas, the B button for breaks, and the R button to switch gears. Worried about playing without a steering wheel? Well, you got the game pad, which I honestly prefer (I’ve always noticed that in the arcade, the wheel was always broken somehow). Just move left or right. If you can’t do that, then you can’t play - simple as that.

Now despite the limitations, this cart does have some good points as well.

First, no pocket full of quarters and no lines to wait to play a game. None of the arcade room problems.

Second, you can choose options to help with game play. You can control the number of lives you want as well as the difficulty level. This is perfect for those that sucked at playing these games in the arcade, and probably still suck now. It beats playing around with the dip switches in the original arcade machines.

Third, you can get tips and little trivia tidbits about the game. This will help you to not suck as much and to maybe increase your difficulty a little more. Plus, you might learn a little something about the games you grew up with and loved.

Finally, it gaming on the go, and there is never anything wrong with that. Games anytime anywhere is never a bad thing ever.

Namco Museum isn’t for everyone, although it does have an E rating. Let me tell you why. It’s really recommended for either a younger audience who aren’t big gamers, or to the Gen-X crowd who grew up playing these games and want to relive their childhood memories. It’s not recommended for the new breed of gamers who think all old games suck because they all have been jaded with the newer games. But, if they have an open mind, try to slip this one past them, and see if you can kick their ass in Ms. Pac-Man.