[ GAME ZONE ]Lucio Guerrero
Retails for: $39.99
It's not often that we get to play the part of an 18-year-old heroine -- but we kind of like it.
In "Haunting Ground" we get to do just that, and we don't even have to worry about what to wear cause some creepy maid in the game lays our clothes out for us. (We would never have paired that short skirt with knee socks, but what do we know about fashion.)
Besides the fashion faux pas of its heroine, "Haunted Ground" does provide gamers with something a little different -- a horror game without the machismo and bravado that other titles seem to have. In this game, the protagonist is Fiona Bell, an 18-year-old girl who is the sole survivor car accident that kills her parents and now finds herself in an unfamiliar castle with creepy inhabitants.
Since gamers can't rely on weapons or strength with this game -- Fiona's most lethal combat move is a kick to the shins -- they have to figure out puzzles and mysteries in their environment. Running through rooms will cost you as you'll probably miss the clues that are hidden within the dark corners.
The game also provides a unique partner for Fiona. Instead of having a human partner, "Haunting Ground" gives you a dog. Gamers have to learn to train the dog to attack on command. They have to develop a relationship with the dog so he can use his heightened sense of smell to locate items, utilize his smaller size to access hard to reach areas and bite the tar out of deranged men.
It's that uniqueness that makes the game fun and interesting. There aren't many titles -- especially in the survival genre -- where you can teach a dog to sit, stay, go and come. And graphically, the scenery is spooky (although a little gray) and the music a bit chilling.
Where the game does fall short, however, is that there appears to be lots backtracking to find the answers to puzzles. Certain objects or rooms will mean nothing at first but then they'll be necessary to advance the story. If we could only teach Hewie to fetch.
(Rated M for blood, suggestive themes and violence)
CAPSULE REVIEWS by Misha Davenport
(Nintendo,; GBA; $29.99)
Just when you thought Nintendo couldn't create another series of fun and unique mingames, here comes this gem.
The slightly over-sized cartridge contains a gyroscope so a majority of the gameplay is button free. Minigames have you rotate your device to avoid crashing into a circle of dancing bears, turn the unit left to move your onscreen character out of the way of arrows, or use a combination of these moves to keep an umbrella balanced on your finger.
It's fast-paced fun and the control scheme is unique. As with many of the "Warioware" titles. it feels a bit short. Still, it's a delight for a few hours, anyway.
(Rated E for cartoon violence and crude humor)
(Activision; PS2; $39.99)
"Madagascar" the film -- at least the first 45 minutes Dreamworks screened for me -- is one of those animated gems that offers sophisticated humor and pop culture references for adults, and goofy, slapstick humor for kids.
"Madagascar" the game keeps the humor in the kiddie camp.
While Activision does a great job building a game around all of the characters of the film, constantly varying the gameplay to keep things fresh and interesting, this is still very much one for the kids. Older gamers will find this platform/adventure a bit too easy.
Also available for the GameCube and Xbox.
(Rated E for cartoon violence and crude humor)
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PSP titles now made available for rental
Playstation Portable owners can test out those games before shelling out the $50 to buy them.
GameFly, one of the largest video game rent-by-mail companies, recently announced that they would be offering PSP titles -- on the unique UMD format -- for rent.
While consumers may have difficulty finding games for the PSP, GameFly says it will have all the newest titles available for rent.
The company's Web site, gamefly.com/psp, will also provide reviews, cheats and codes, screenshots, videos, trailers, and more for each title.
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