In Life & Art’s magnificent quest to score free prody, Nintendo sent us a GameCube with lots of games and four controllers to exercise our collegiate thumbs. Did we sell our journalistic souls to play Mario Party 4 (we missed the other three)? Yeah right. We sold them for Metroid Prime and BMX XXX. See, Nintendo hopes to lure older gamers away from Bill Gates’ microserfs and Sony’s Grand Theft Auto a-alikes with blood, nudity, and suped up sci-fi reliables – not a bad business tactic in today’s carnivorous industry. Even better, the games are on bite-size discs, more proof that Stallone’s Demolition Man was eerily prophetic – where are the seashells though?
Rated: Teen for slime and guns
This game has already moved 250,000 units in the United States. Unfortunately, kids craving the ’80s (who don’t read Game Pro) might be in for a surprise when they put this in, blast Motley Crue, and slurp a Tab, since it doesn’t resemble the 2-D design of the original NES or SNES versions. Instead, it’s a first-person 3-D shooter that’s more Turok nature adventure than Quake massacre.
Once again, you’re a chick who wears a sadly geometrical metal suit with a constantly charged gun for a hand named Samus. Anyway, from the first level, when this girl’s alien craft lands at an abandoned space station, the game shows promise. Shootable space rocks float gently above your head inside a brilliantly clear, starry sky; the calm isolation foreshadowing huge confrontations with evil Morks and territorial plant-life.
After a week of playing (Metroid Prime is John Holmes long), it becomes apparent that the core objective is all about travel and not badassery. Across ancient temples, soggy jungles and scientific labs, you fight ninja-acute Space Pirates and orifice-looking organisms, only to receive new guns, energy powerups, and magical icons. This game becomes a job. The beautiful stages are realized with quarter-grubbing nostalgia, but after you backtrack across them one thousand (not an exaggeration) times to reach some newly opened door, you don’t expect anything cool to happen. Oh, more life, oh, a slightly better gun, oh, more padding for Samus’ suit.
So, besides adding another dimension, Metroid Prime is extremely faithful to its predecessors. Samus can still turn into a ball and roll around with Marble Madness chic, but after a while, it leaves you wondering why the geniuses behind this didn’t blast away a few dated conventions. For instance, a stage where the player actually flies Samus’ dope looking alien craft into an enemy lair or Top Guns it across space would be sick, but it never occurs. Instead, you land in a central zone where the other worlds are connected through caves, and you never leave.
This release gets three stars simply because the vastness is unbelievable, the graphics are crisp, vibrant, and never pixelate, and, without codes, the bosses make you earn your money back. Whatevs, it’s a good balance for the nerds and the moderate game player.
Dead to Rights
Rated: Mature for blood, executions, strippers in thongs, *$#@
The real reason why I play video games is to shoot people. I sit on a lush couch that looks like it belonged to Bodhi in Point Break, waiting between classes, and I wipe out a strip club full of lookalike thugs. Dead to Rights is another Grand Theft Auto III-style knockoff, taking video games one-step closer to playing Pong beside Satan. The game is pure gluttony, from the cheesy synth theme song and polygon hot females, to the gun-selection: double clutched silencers, bazookas, grenade launchers – as good as the N64’s GoldenEye – plus a vicious, loyal canine you can release to rip open throats and retrieve guns.
In the press release for this game, the screenwriter (screenwriter?) says that the lead character, an ex-cop named Jack Slate, “reminds me of Bruce Willis in the Die Hard series.” While this type of witty remark is killing Hollywood, it’s golden here. Namco could make a billion more games starring Bruce Slate and I would play them without thinking once. The Japanese’s Metal Gear Solid sensibility – 30 percent game, 70 percent boring story – is not infiltrating Grant City, USA, the setting of Dead to Rights, and supposedly the “hardest place on Earth.”
Like Max Payne before it, the slo-mo Matrix action feature is present here. My personal favorite is using an enemy as a human shield and then executing them pointblank. In one early stage, you switch from Slate to a stripper and have to entertain gangsters by dancing. I hate The Man Show, but being able to play on the current slippery slope of the gaming world is a hilarious guilty pleasure. Break your parole and ante up.
Mario Party 4
Rated: For your baby brother
Dentists should be required to have Mario Party 4 in their offices. It’s all bright and glittery and kids will forget they’re getting 10 cavities filled in 10 minutes. This game is cool if you have four people and 20 minutes. Blondes will probably dig it too.
Hunter Stephenson is partying his ass off in Los Angeles.