Video Game Reviews – November 2008

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de Blob
Blue Tongue
Wii
Street: 09.22.08

Lights up on Chroma City: a colorful metropolis, a utopia bathed in every shade on the spectrum. Enter I.N.K.T., an adorably evil army of Nazi-esque blackand- white ink people (stay with me, it gets better). I.N.K.T. descends on the unwitting masses and makes short work of Chroma City, sucking up every drop of color and imprisoning every once-radiant citizen in shackles and colorless work camps (like I said, they’re Nazis, but like Pixar Nazis). Your job, as the surprisingly badass blob of goo named, well, Blob, is to paint the city—every inch of it, in all the radiant colors you exude. De Blob is a third-party release and was originally a free PC game, both of which make it all the more impressive that it’s great fun to play.
The game is no port—it’s been reinvented on the Wii with admirably smooth cut scene rendering, tight controls, and an all around stellar presentation. Everything in this game is so goddamn cute and funny you just want to explode. If you can’t stomach the cutsie, then fuhgheddaboudit, but the majority of Nintendo fans will really dig this title. On the console market, it’s all about the huge, anticipated blockbuster releases, so it’s always great when you stumble across a gem you weren’t expecting.
To enjoy de Blob to the fullest, I’m sure you’ll agree it’s best to be in a state of mind where painting the world with colors, patterns and music might be at its most appealing, whatever that may mean for you. –Jesse Hawlish

4out of 5 Splotches of Color

The Oregon Trail
Gameloft
Mobile Game
Street: 06.15.2008

Remember the good old elementary school days? Okay, maybe they weren’t all good, but there were those days where the teachers would herd your class into the computer lab and tell you to practice typing. Like hell! You were a kid with the attention span of a crack-addled goldfish, and dammit, you were there to play video games! Unfortunately for you, public education tricked you once again using a learning program disguised as a video game: The Oregon Trail. Gameloft has not only come along and given the game a facelift, but brought it straight to the comfort of your mobile phone.
Everything you loved about the old game is here: hunting, traveling, cholera, bear maulings, and—everyone’s favorite!—naming your family members after whomever you damn well please. I chose to name my family after our editing staff here at SLUG. By the time we got to Oregon, Angela died of Cholera, Andrew had wandered away from the trail six times, Meghann was constantly sick and was mauled by a bear twice (the animation alone will put you in stitches), and Adam broke his arm. Yeah, half-a-lifetime later, it’s still pretty damn funny.
The graphics are rather good—a cute, fluffy rendition of the Wild West—and the sound design isn’t too shabby. The game breathes new life into the old features, such as hunting, but also brings new minigames like the fishing feature, the entrance into towns, and NPC interaction. The controls translate perfectly to the mobile phone, allowing the games to be played without difficulty. The only trouble is that the game does seem to be a little glitchy when trying to boot the program, stating there is a “memory full error” even if your card is virtually empty. This could be a glitch exclusive to the Blackberry, but something to be aware of nonetheless. Either way, the game is available online and through most providers, and at five or six bucks, it’s the best way for you cheap gamers to get your old school fix. –Kat Kellemeyer

3.8 random bear attacks out of 5

Rock Band 2
Harmonix
Xbox 360, PS3, Wii
Street: 09.14.2008

The infamous summer gaming drought is over, and you know what that means! All the games you actually wanted to play this whole year are finally making it to your doorstep, begging to be played. There’s a whole slew of rhythm games coming your way this fall, Konami’s Rock Revolution and Activision’s Guitar Hero World Tour, but Rock Band 2 is first out of the gate, and out to prove that if it ain’t broke, don’t go fixing it. There’s the stuff you’ve grown to love, and there’s a slew of the new stuff. Naturally, the first thing to attack here are the songs. While everyone will have a handful they aren’t wild about, the game mostly plays like an incredible mixtape with old classics, indie favorites, and the new stuff, ranging everywhere from Rage Against The Machine to Bob Dylan to The Donnas to Interpol.
Online play has been greatly enhanced with the new “Battle of the Bands” option. This gives you the chance to compete in challenges against other players with a scoreboard posted online. You receive updates if you’ve been outscored, and if you’re not wild about the challenge you see, don’t lose sleep over it. The list will be updated almost daily, adding new challenges all the time. The character creation is still no TES: Oblivion, but there’s a wider variety here and more clothing items, tattoos and hairstyles to collect as you go. Naturally, everyone’s wondering about the DLC from Rock Band 1. Not only is it all compatible with RB2, for about five bucks you can download the whole RB1 playlist, and Harmonix has promised new downloadable content by the month, and a good chunk of that will be free.
If you’re just looking to plug in and go, there’s another great feature that’s been added: No Fail. Sick of playing with friends at a party and having to constantly bail out the idiot you let play the drums? Well, now you don’t have to. Turn this little option on, and the audience will never boo you off the stage. Also, you can customize your own playlists so you can rock out until you get carpel tunnel in both hands. Rock Band got it right the first time around, and the second time is just as great a trip. Even with the other rhythm games coming out, Rock Band 2 is a game you’ve got to get your hands on. –Kat Kellemeyer

4.8 parties without whiny noobs out of 5