This week on Nintendo’s download services, we have a new first-party board game, the sequel to Zombies Ate My Neighbors that was better left forgotten, two of the more ambitious 200 point titles released so far (even if they’re still a bit cruddy) and yet another UNO port from Gameloft. While I’ve played the XBLA version too darn much to justify picking up another version of the card game, this one is significant because it actually supports my dusty Wii Speak peripheral. It also allows multiplayer offline on one console. Does anyone know how that works?
Again, I don’t know who is in charge of naming Nintendo’s DSiWare, but does anyone think that the kids will be clamoring for something called Number Battles? Weak title aside, if you’re the kind of gamer who spent hours with Brain Age Sudoku or Sunday’s crossword puzzle, this should be your next cerebral fix. Number Battle is essentially a contest for up to four players (human or computer) to see who can link up numerical sequences and loops the fastest. Like Chess, there are countless strategies for success, especially when you add items and random bonus zones to the board. For 500 points, the package is pretty robust, too – many single-player stages with A.I. that isn’t too unfair and Wi-Fi support just in case someone besides myself decides to buy it.
Remember that sequence from the original Star Fox – and almost every rail-shooter since – in which you fly your Arwing down a corridor of a space cruiser while dodging closing and rotating doors? Well, this is basically that idea stretched into an entire game. From a technical standpoint, I suppose AiRace is impressive. For a 200 point game, you get 3D tunnels – with at least seven different colors of rusty metal – running at a smooth 60 FPS. However, the concept just couldn’t sustain my interest for more than a couple minutes. Your jet may constantly increase its speed, but you’ll be asleep before any real challenge sets in.
Maybe I was a bit harsh on this game in my introduction. Escapee GO! is rough around the edges, but shouldn’t we embrace new ideas? The game stars a psychic girl trying to escape some kind of industrial complex, which basically translates into Metal Gear Pac-Man; your character peers down hallway mazes and grabs key cards as guards follow their patrol routes. The cheaper price tag means less polish – animation is lacking and the draining stamina leaves you at a crawl too often – but this game of tactical espionage tag is novel enough that you might want to pick it up if you have some points left over. I’m betting the (offline) multiplayer is pretty fun.
How I long for the days of the giant baby and exploding soda cans. While Zombies Ate My Neighbors‘ campy running-and-gunning still holds up, this horrid sequel faded into obscurity for a reason. Ghoul Patrol stumbles at almost every opportunity. ZAMN‘s arsenal of weapons included squirt guns, ice pops, footballs, silverware, bubble guns and more, but Ghoul Patrol drops most of those in favor of generic ray guns and cannons. Humorous level titles? Gone. The helpful radar? Gone. That swirly title screen? Definitely gone. The soul was sucked from the original, and what we’re left with is an ugly shooter with sloppier movement and a sad Justin at the controller.
The only not-quite-saving grace in this pile is the potion that changes you into the grim reaper.