By: Jeb Haught
SYSTEM: Microsoft Xbox 360 (PS3, Wii)
PRICE: $75.00 Starter Pack
ESRB RATING: Everyone
REVIEW RATING: 4.0 stars (out of 5)
Plenty of video games are based on toys, so it seems inevitable that the two would be merged into a tech-savvy hybrid. Last year’s ?Skylanders? game introduced the idea of turning real-life toy figures into video game heroes, and ?Skylanders Giants? adds new characters and abilities to the innovative mix.
This sequel truly is a bigger and badder game, mostly due to the introduction of ancient mythical Giant Skylanders that sport all new abilities. These giants join eight new characters and dozens of old Skylanders from the first game to fight an evil wizard named Chaos and save the day.
For those unfamiliar with ?Skylanders,? the basic premise is that real-life toy figures can be purchased, and each one of them contains a microchip. When placed on a special required peripheral called the Portal of Power, each toy comes to life in the game and players can use them to interact with the environment and combat enemies. This transformation is a joy to behold the first time, and kids can’t seem to get enough of the ?magical process.?
Each character has special abilities that lets them access different areas, so several characters much be purchased separately to complete every area of each level. This sounds expensive, but the game can still be finished without purchasing additional toys. I also appreciate the ability to use any figure on any console, which eliminates the need for console compatibility.
Although the game play itself isn’t very deep, it does offer an enjoyable dungeon-crawling experience filled with plenty of puzzles to solve, enemies to defeat and loot to collect! Players can also level up their characters to make them more powerful and collect hats for temporary buffs! These boosts become very handy when traversing the larger and more complex levels found in the sequel.
Children will certainly love playing with the ?Skylanders Giants? characters both in-game and in real life.
‘Dragonball Z Budokai HD Collection’
DEVELOPER: Dimps Corporation
PUBLISHER: Namco Bandai
SYSTEM: Microsoft Xbox 360 (PS3)
ESRB RATING: Teen
REVIEW RATING: 2.5 stars (out of 5)
My biggest wish while playing the original ?Dragon Ball Z Budokai? series was that I could fight opponents online, but I had to wait for a new DBZ series for that option. While modern ?Dragon Ball Z? games allow online matches, the game play focuses too much on cinematic camera angles and uncontrollable sequences. Now ?Dragon Ball Z Budokai HD Collection? brings the old-school ground-and-pound combat into this generation, but it offers little else.
For some reason, this ?collection? only features ?DBZ Budokai? parts one and three, but not part two. I suppose that it might be due to the unfavorable reception of part two, but die-hard fans would prefer the entire series. Still, the fact that part one covers the entire anime plot from the Saiyan Saga until the Android Saga while part three follows the DBZ movies as well as Dragon Ball GT is almost enough to sell this collection on its own.
I welcome the fact that the combat system for each game is unchanged and also that trophy and achievement support has been added, but modern gamers need more than gorgeous visuals to revisit a series. I’m sure that DBZ fans would appreciate new modes, especially online multiplayer support.
?DBZ Budokai 1? features 23 perturbed pugilists as they trade earth-shattering attacks and ear-shattering soliloquies in Story mode. Additional combat can be found in Duel and World Match modes, but there’s little difference in actual game play or even the fighters themselves. Too much effort was spent on balance and not enough was spent on creating stylish and unique characters.
On the other hand ? err … fist, ?DBZ Budokai 3? features a much more robust combat system complete with incredible transformations, teleportations and even a Hyper Mode that opens up even more powerful moves. Over 40 overly-powerful characters are available to customize with special capsules that unlock transformations and character fusions. This is still my favorite game in the entire DBZ series!
However, due to the limited improvements, ?Dragon Ball Z Budokai HD Collection? will only appeal to fans of the series.
REVIEW SCORING SYSTEM
5 stars = Must Have
4 stars = Very Good
3 stars = Above Average
2 stars = Bargain Bin
1 star = Don’t Bother
Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB)
E10-plus: (Everyone 10 and older)
T: Teen (13 and older)
M: Mature (17 and older)
To find out more about Jeb Haught and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
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