Gaming With Glee

It seems entirely too often these days that when I sit down to play a game, I ended up getting frustrated, annoyed, or sometimes even downright furious with the game that is supposed to be my source of entertainment. Is this what playing videogames has come to? I needn't wonder anymore because several games I demod this weekend not only put a smile on my face, but even made me gleefully laugh like a schoolkid on a swing. Each of these demos are available for download on XBLA.

The Bigs
This is a comical over-the-top take on Major League Baseball in which the players have incredible superhuman abilities: they can rob a homerun fifteen feet above the fence, throw upwards of 107 mph fastballs, and even sprint faster than Vince Coleman and Ichiro combined. The stadiums look absolutely fantastic and the players are enormous. Some bordering on the freakishly large gigantism-afflicted team Mr. Burns assembled in that infamous Simpsons episode. Heck, some of the players in this game are almost as big as Barry Bonds' real life head. Anyway, the game moves at an extremely fast clip and turbo meters and big play power meters are all in play. Although the one-press pitching mechanism takes some getting used to, the game revels in its simplicity and is quite fun to play. I can't tell you how many times I laughed at the ridiculousness I was seeing -- and how many times I told myself "just one more game". The demo lets you play a 3-inning game between th Tigers and Cardinals and games are over in 10 minutes or less. I never end up playing sports games for more than a couple days when I buy them, so I'm probably not going to get this anyway, but I do find it pretty fun. I'll get it if my online Friends get it.

Stuntman: Ignition
I'm one of the few partial defenders of the original Stuntman game. The game had a tremendous vision -- you drive cars and accurately follow the director's cues to film spectactular stunt scenes in fictitious movies, and then watch back the filmed scene. It was awesome. The only problem was the game was very, very difficult and it took what seemed to be at least 2-3 minutes to reload the level after each failed attempt. Life is simply too short to play the original Stuntman. But this new game? Now this is where it's at. First off, the game is gorgeous, the cars drive solidly, and the ridiculousness of the stunts that you have to perform, again, elicit laughs of enjoyment and a constant smile from the gamer. That said, the game is still extremely difficult and could easily frustrate if you let it. Fortunately, it now only takes a few quick seconds to reload the level and try again. Also, the makers have borrowed the combo system from Project Gotham Racing to elaborate on the scoring and ranking system. This is a definite must-buy for me but, as Kristin correctly surmised, this is a game that you have to take your time with and make sure you are going to concentrate on just one level at a time and not mind starting over and over. It could very easily devolve into a situation involving a hurled controller and a broken HDTV if you let it.

This game has been out at retail for a few weeks now and finally, thanks to the demo, I can see what the fuss is about. This game puts you in the role of the eeee-vil Overlord in charge of commanding a gaggle of pint-sized minions. You direct them to do your eeee-vil bidding, whether it be raiding a pumpkin patch or slaughtering the innocent. The game has a very comical nature about it with some very entertaining writing and, again, the game is very easy on the eyes. For those who have played it, the game plays a bit like Pikmin, only without the Fisher-Price varnish. Anyway, I found Overlord to be just the type of game I like to play and actually turned the demo off after my first one or two raiding missions because I didn't want to spoil anything for when I get the retail copy. Which should be anyday now. A must-get.

NOTE: I also downloaded demos for a number of other games and will hopefully have some quick impressions of those up later this week including Blue Dragon, Project Sylpheed, Ace Combat 6, The Darkness.

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