Friday, December 08, 2006

Nintendo's Brain Boost is just plain fun

Some quick reviews:

Brain Boost (Nintendo DS): Majesco’s new DS game can actually help you improve your memory, which your favorite 40-year-old game review definitely needs and also helps with concentration. Now who said videogames are just mind candy?

Brain Boost Beta Wave stimulates the right part of the brain (concentration, busy thinking). It has simple-to-play games like shape recognition, addition, moving dots and reminder sequences. It’s education but fun for young and old kids. Each game has four levels with 20 problems each. Once you master it, though, replay value won’t be high.

Brain Boost Gamma Wave deals more with perception and problem solving and includes games for remembering circumstances, faces and colors (Grade: C-plus for both titles, Nintendo DS).

Family Feud: One of my favorite game shows of all-time is fun on your PlayStation 2, but not quite as much on DS. You can play against opponents or the computer and create customizable characters that look sort of like your family members (and definitely have the right name). There are 1,000 questions and tons of fun, but it’s a lot more fun to play against friends on PS2 on your television set (Grade: B-plus).

That’s So Raven, Psychic On The Scene: Raven Simon, former Cosby kid, has one of the most popular kids shows on TV, so this Nintendo DS video game, aimed at young girls, should have a built-in audience. It’s pretty simple, following the Mario-theme: you try to stop a bad guy from shutting down Raven’s theatre by picking up clues and designing clothes. There’s more than 40 hairstyles, outfits and disguises to wear. It’s simple to play and kind of fun, too (Grade: B-minus).

Kim Possible, What’s The Switch: Based on the Disney Channel cartoon hit, the orange-haired crime fighter is now in her fifth videogame. In this one, Kim has to team up with her enemy (and black-haired lookalike), Shengo, after two popular characters have their minds switched. You really need to know the show to follow the storyline. I got a bit lost, but the 11 missions are playable as one of three characters and you can acquire some gadgets to help you along the way. If you know the show, you’ll like the game and with over one million games sold in the franchise, there’s an audience waiting (Grade: B-minus, for PS2).

Ridge Racer 7: It’s been awhile since I’ve played Ridge Racer, but on PlayStation 3, it seemed like an old friend, except with much better graphics. During one jump on my first run, it looked like I was going to spill into the ocean. The game won’t let you do that, but it looked so real, I lost my breath for a moment.

This is a pure race game with 40 cars on 22 tracks. There are hundreds of thousands, literally, of customizable options. Ultimately, though, it’s about how well you handle your car. This game is heavy on drifting and you pretty much will have to let your car spin and smash into walls to win. It’s best to drive into curves, let off the gas, lose control and then use your controller to regain it.

The online integration is good and I experienced no lag times on Sony’s online network. You can race with up to 14 players online. But I liked the new career mode, where you can kind of become the Jeff Gordon of your virtual world (Grade: B).

Gundam Crossfire: War games look so amazing on PS3 and sound so real that if you walk in the room and don’t realize someone’s playing, you will have a moment of pause. Seriously.

Gundam is another strong launch title for PS3 from Namco. The storyline takes you nine months past the time earth has been invaded by Zeon forces and now earth’s armies are trying a massive counterattack. But do you choose to join the earthlings or aliens?

What makes the game so good is how real the environments look. You can literally lose yourself in real-looking worlds and be awake – the battle circumstances and scenes change rapidly. You can have your MS squad attack, halt, dash and (the cool one) scatter.

You want realism? Each body part of a mobile suit has its unique durability, so if you destroy a hand it has different results for that character than a leg. Awesome (Grade: A-minus)

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