- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 30, 2009

Here’s an abbreviated look at some multimedia titles strictly for the teens in the family.

Fat Princess (from Sony Computer Entertainment and Titan Studios, for PlayStation 3, $14.99) With a title guaranteeing to offend those watching their weight as well as spook parents through a steady flow of blood-letting, the latest downloadable release from the PlayStation Network is not the most family friendly.

However, use the option to turn off the cartoony carnage and high levels of frenetic strategy emerge, loaded with clever animation and addictive action.

The concept is simple enough. Take on the role of a worker (wield an ax or bombs), ranger (armed with a bow or shotgun), priest (heal brethren or drain life forces), mage (powerful bolts for long-range attacks) or warrior (sword and shield), rescue a kidnapped princess and carry her back to your kingdom.

Piece of pound cake, right? Unfortunately, lots of enemies stand in the way and the princess has an appetite for sweets that makes her body expand to nearly unmovable levels.

It’s as odd as it sounds, but through the solo campaign, a 10-chapter storybook offers admission to bustling medieval realms filled with dangerous animated minifigures of the cute Nintendo variety.

Players choose avatar classes on the fly through either hat machines in their castle or taking a fedora from a fallen comrade. Machines are upgraded through fielding resources as a worker or beating enemies as a soldier.

This fractured fairy tale is not just about “Braveheart”-style or gladiator matches. Nuances such as a worker building a castle door, upgrading beard styles on avatars, lighting a sword on fire, constructing catapults and capturing outposts takes it far beyond its capture-the-flag roots.

The true purpose of the game, however, lies in the online multiplayer mayhem. Two armies of 16 players each can fight over their fair ladies within eight battlefield maps and four types of challenges. Teamwork is of the essence here with plenty of chatter and organization mandatory for success.

Despite the ludicrous violence (don’t forget it can be turned off) and difficulty, Fat Princess makes for satisfying sessions of mayhem guaranteed to challenge gamers.

Marvel vs. Capcom 2 (from Capcom, for PlayStation 3, $14.99; and Xbox 360, 1,200 Microsoft Points) This premier 2-D arcade fighter arrives as a download for the latest entertainment consoles.

More than 50 characters culled from Marvel Comics’ stable of heroes and villains battle against, or alongside, stars from Capcom’s video-game universe in three-on-three tag-team-style matches.

Players will need the finesse of a surgeon as they manipulate controller buttons and sticks in the correct sequence to deliver a wide range of combination moves and super powers.

In addition to the primary one-on-one brawls during matches, team members can be called upon to jump in and strike with powerful attacks set up by the player.

A high-definition presentation with options for widescreen presentation complement lightning-fast action and explosive combat.

The look features cell-shaded combatants that look as if they were ripped from the pages of a comic book fighting in gorgeous arenas that give the illusion of three dimensions.

Marvel fans will appreciate superstars such as Ghost Rider’s nemesis, Blackheart, who unleashes nasty creatures on opponents and opens a portal to hell; Iron Man, who uses a massive gun to strike down foes; and Venom’s symbiotic abilities for long-range attacks.

Under the Capcom banner, stalwarts include the pint-size Mega Man, Resident Evil’s Jill Valentine packing a grenade launcher and Street Fighter villain M. Bison with psycho explosions.

The one big annoyance in an otherwise fantastic experience is the brutally repetitive theme song that runs over and over as players pick their characters.

Rounding out the frenzied fun is a training room and an online multiplayer component featuring ranked and friend matches sure to keep the Marvel versus Capcom legions endlessly entertained.

This old-school powerhouse, released nearly a decade ago, will still impress veteran gamers with its hard-to-master attacks and gives younger fans of pop art a great introduction to the fighting game genre.

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