Here’s an abbreviated look at some multimedia items for the entire family:
Kung Fu Panda (for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, Activision, $49.99) - DreamWorks Animation’s current animal-themed epic is translated into a third-person action game perfect for the pre-tween to relive the film’s best moments.
A solo player works through an extended version of the film within 13 levels that mix exaggerated martial arts mayhem with platforming, coin collection (to purchase power upgrades), racing and rescue missions set in land, water and air.
He mainly controls Po Panda, but gets an opportunity to wield the powers of the Furious Five (including the deadly Tigress) and even Po’s teacher Shifu, who pulls off some mean Yoda-like attacks.
Lots of bad guys in the form of gorillas, crocodiles, wolves and even ax-wielding boars are found on Po’s adventure to become the Dragon Warrior in this beautiful-looking game. It’s especially eyepopping at 1080p resolution on the PlayStation 3.
A welcome set of multiplayer versus and cooperative games also is available, primarily concentrating on character fighting, but also sneaking in some matching puzzles and target shooting.
Boom Blox (for Wii, Electronic Arts, $49.99) - Steven Spielberg’s first collaboration with Electronic Arts yields a great Jenga-style action game loaded with destructive fun and strategy. Block manipulation is the goal of this three-dimensional, interactive experience as the player must knock down or rearrange sets of structures set in colorful, themed worlds.
It comes down to blasting (using items such as a fire hose or baseball), smashing, bashing and toppling a variety of almost 400 block configurations in the fewest steps to succeed.
Blocks also can explode, disappear or produce chemical reactions to further enter into a player’s plan of attack.
Of course, the player wields the Wiimote to identify a block and the controller becomes an extension of his arm as he motions toward the cube to attack, grab or twirl it about. Physics-friendly design with the magical motion-sensing console offers pinpoint accuracy and a very tactile experience.
Additionally, a collection of Wacky Blox, domino-shaped creatures that sound like Raving Rabbids, may join the action. They may attempt to steal blocks in some levels or assist in the protection of structures, changing the game from puzzler to all-out war.
Single, versus and cooperative modes bring the whole family aboard to test their skills. The sheer variety of challenges and addictive qualities of Boom Blox makes it irresistible. My advice is to take it slow - it’s so interactive and fun that wrists and arms will be hurting from the average session.
To extend its functionality, players can design intricate puzzles and upload them using WiiConnect 24 (the console’s online social network) for others to enjoy.
m Send e-mail to Joseph Szadkowski at jszadkowski@ washingtontimes.com.
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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