Here’s an abbreviated look at some multimedia items for the entire family:
Guitar Hero: On Tour (for DS, Activision, $49.99 with guitar grip) - The premiere guitar-playing simulation has been downsized to Nintendo’s premiere hand-held gaming system to help spread tendonitis across the known universe.
It’s not really that dangerous, but this portable music mimic strains the wrists and slightly frustrates as it attempts to duplicate the fun of its big brother.
A miniature fret board adorned with four colored buttons fits into the GameBoy cartridge slot of the DS. The player straps his left hand in and uses a stylus pick cleverly stored in the board’s base.
Now, holding the DS sideways, he hits the board’s buttons and strums along with the cascading note highway on the touch-sensitive DS screen to match the rhythms and leads of two dozen or so songs.
Tunes are varied enough - including “China Grove” from the Doobie Brothers, “All Star” by Smash Mouth and “Rock and Roll All Nite” by Kiss- to please most demographics in the family.
A wireless multiplayer option extends the potential of the miniature ax challenges.
The game also incorporates screaming into the DS’ microphone to activate Star Power (a welcomed point multiplier in the standard Guitar Hero) and some other occasional touch-screen tricks (such as signing a T-shirt for a fan) to keep the action interesting.
However, folks with big hands will be really hurting after about 10 minutes of continuous action.
My tips are use headphones for a great-sounding experience and don’t get too excited. A couple of my testers had a hard time keeping the board fully attached in the slot, which abruptly ended a song.
Wall*E (for Wii, THQ, $49.99) - A player controls the fates of a pair of lovable robots in a new third-person adventure based on Pixar’s latest animated effort currently in theaters.
The game faithfully follows and enhances the movie friendship of Wall*E and Eve while giving the player a chance to do a whole lot of jumping, throwing and collecting. Action mixes controlling either character, or even both at times, through nine levels that take them from the desolate wasteland of Earth to massive starships.
Wall*E can zip around at a good clip, compact various types of trash to throw at enemies or trigger events (open pathways, release ramps, etc.) and can roll up into a cube to protect himself.
His constantly airborne counterpart is equipped with a laser to blast bad bots, can unleash a power surge and can carry Wall*E to unreachable locations.
A variety of puzzles, battles, racing and platforming (seemingly unavoidable in the cartoon to video game adaptation) permeates the effort, which should still dazzle younger fans.View Entire Story
A graduate of Northwestern University with a degree in communications, Joseph Szadkowski has written about popular culture for The Washington Times for the past 17 years. He covers video games, comic books, new media and technology.
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