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ROMper ROOM: Solve puzzles to save the world
In the latest saga of the purple dragon, a solo gamer or pair of players can cooperatively control Spyro and his former female enemy Cynder as they struggle to save their world from the Dark Master.
The game stars the vocals of Elijah Wood as Spyro, Gary Oldman as his mentor Ignitus, Christine Ricci as Cynder and Mark Hamill as Mr. Master.
The good news is the dragons can fly and developers really worked on offering a variety of game mechanics tapping into God of War contextual battles and activities while and giving teammates plenty of interactive moments.
Each hero has a quartet of slick powers (from Spyro’s fire breathing to Cynder’s control of fear) and each can select from a variety of upgrades as they accumulate blue gems. Also, the lands they peruse are colorful and vast, loaded with Master’s minions and crystal clusters that can restore health and give elemental powers.
The not so good news is youngsters will get frustrated with the difficulty. Also, the cooperative mode has the dragons tied together (at first literally and then with more subtlety). The tethered teamwork especially is an exercise in aggravating chaos as two players try to maneuver and struggle through platform-style obstacle courses.
I am a fan of the dragon, and an intense opening boss battle with a “Lord of the Rings” Balrog-type enemy gave me hope for a rousing adventure in the making. Unfortunately, I could not get past the sputtering onscreen slowdowns that occurred during even the most minor of skirmishes and the unpolished designs mired in last generation graphics. Alas, Spyro has seen better days.
mSpectrobes: Beyond the Portals (Disney Interactive Studios, for DS, $29.99) - Planetary patrol officers Rallen and Jeena return to save the universe from the evil Krawl and give youngsters the chance to discover, dig and train another Pokedex’s worth of creatures.
Once again, the game is of a “try to please everyone” design, mashing numerous genres such as virtual pets, third-person battles, role-playing, puzzle solving and even collecting real trading cards (four are included to use on the DS screen) into the mechanics.
In the sci-fi saga, the player can control both heroes and manage resources as they explore the galaxy, but will spend the majority of his time excavating, evolving and assembling an army of Spectrobes to fight the Krawl. Of course, the DS touch screen is perfect for digging up the little fellows as the stylus becomes tools such as a drill or vacuum.
Action also extends well beyond the single-player adventure with DS’ local multiplayer and Wi-Fi options, allowing gamers to trade and sell creatures (using the fictional Gura currency), battle, import Spectrobes from the first game and use a Disney online community.
Much like a blockbuster sequel, Beyond the Portals delivers a familiar and even better experience that will completely mesmerize children with its interactivity and enormous vision.
• Joseph Szadkowski’s ROMper Room is a place for children and their parents to escape the world of ultraviolent video games and use that gaming system or computer to actually learn something while having fun. Send e-mail to email@example.com.
About the Author
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.
- ZADZOOKS: Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze review
- ZADZOOKS: The Last of Us: Left Behind review
- ZADZOOKS: The Lego Movie Videogame review
- Zadzooks: Justice League: War review (Blu-ray)
- ZADZOOKS: Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII review
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