- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Here’s a look at some hardware and software that’s available: Meet the Robinsons, from Buena Vista Games, rated E10+, for players 10 and older, $49.99. Disney’s latest computer-animated family to grace the silver screen is also part of a third-person action game that takes a single player on a quest to recover a time machine.

Mixing a scavenger hunt, robot battles, puzzles, maze navigation, boss confrontations and a small amusement park’s worth of extra activities, the action centers around precocious Wilbur Robinson, who likes to travel through time in his spare moments.

Unlike the typical movie video game that simply mirrors the cinematic story, this title extends the adventure of young Wilbur (not the film’s main character, Lewis) by tapping into his clan’s inventive technology as he builds and uses gadgets to help survive more than 40 missions.

Those gadgets include the Disassembler (used to take apart obstacles and machinery and to collect valuable resources), a glove that shoots an electrical charge, a levitation ray gun, and a scanner used to reveal an area’s secrets and catalog items that then are available for review in the Scannerpedia.

What the game lacks in innovation it makes up for in its immersion in the Robinsons’ world. Extra activities range from communicating with characters such as the family robot, Carl; the mom, Franny; and pizza delivery guy Uncle Art (joyfully voiced by Adam “Batman” West) to exploring larger environments only touched upon in the film and finding liberal amounts of goodies to be unlocked, including virtual action figures, concept art and blueprints.

While a player is in the mansion, minigames also open to further challenge the player. He can roll through a maze in a translucent bubble called a Protectosphere or take on a computer opponent in a round of the Pong-like Chargeball.

Exclusive to the Xbox 360 version is the fast-paced Security System challenge, which has the player use a cannon to blast the Bowler Hat Guy in various rooms to stop his minions from wreaking havoc in the mansion.

As family-friendly as the theatrical effort, the Meet the Robinsons game will keep the younger gamer entranced as it stays true to the film’s spirit and design.

Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords, from D3 Publisher of America for PSP, rated E10+, for players 10 and older, $29.99. This gem of a game takes players into the realms of Etheria, where they find a clever twist on the standard role-playing saga.

In action familiar to Final Fantasy and Elder Scrolls fans, the player still creates a class of hero; interacts with characters; battles enemies; and manages an inventory of spells, weapons and equipment.

The title takes a pleasantly refreshing, cerebral turn when foes are confronted. Instead of button-mashed sword-slashing, the action is confined to a gridded board and becomes a turn-based, jewel-matching puzzle game.

Opponents must match at least three similarly hued jewels or like icons, either horizontally or vertically, to gain an advantage, collect powers, weaken an enemy and reveal more pieces. Jewels represent mana used to power up spells, while skulls, when matched, will reduce a foe’s health points. Purple stars add to his experience, and gold coins add to his purse.

The first warrior to lose all of his health resigns from the match but does not lose his life — another fresh addition.

The addictive challenge will consume major amounts of a player’s time and may cause him to forget he also is part of a pretty slick epic loaded with monsters, many lands to explore and multiple levels of decision-making.

The game even allows players to purchase structures to add to their castle, add companions on a quest, research spells and capture enemies in a dungeon. The wireless multiplayer option requires that both warriors have a game cartridge.

All of the action is complemented by beautiful Japanese-anime-influenced illustrations and a musical score plucked right out of a Renaissance festival.

Write to Joseph Szadkowski, The Washington Times, 3600 New York Ave. NE, Washington, DC 20002; or send e-mail ([email protected] times.com).

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