Tuesday, November 13, 2007


99. Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy
Gamecube, 2006, Travellers’ Tales/Activision

NGamer once said “Everything’s better in Lego,” and they were distinctly correct. LSWII:TOT (catchy) is packed full of the silly fun that those little plastic bricks seem to emanate (as long as you don’t step on them). Its resolutely old-school gameplay – run that way! Kill those guys! Jump up there! Run that way again! – is refreshingly pure and thoroughly addictive, and it’s easily one of the most charming games ever made. (Love the builders on the second Death Star slacking off and drinking tea.) Its one major problem is that the excellent co-op gameplay is pushed to the fore so much, that some of the levels are downright infuriating in single player because you simply can’t do everything at once. I’m looking at you, Death Star Escape. The solution? Make friends, I guess. Bah.

98. Virtual Springfield
PC, 1997, Digital Evolution/Fox Interactive

This is barely even a game, but I am easily pleased. Basically, you wander round a (damn funky for the time) 3D Springfield, poking things, collecting cards, unlocking secrets and playing minigames. You could probably clock all the stuff that comes closest to actual gameplay in two or three hours, but the fun comes from finding all the little bits and bobs you can do (throw gummi bears at the audience in the Aztec Cinema, fiddle with the lights while the Simpsons are trying to eat dinner), seeing all the animated sequences – all fully voiced by the cast, which was quite exciting back then – and spying all the references to the episodes. I’m pretty sure every single one that had been shown prior to the game’s release got at least one nod. So not much of a game, but a heck of a way to kill time.

97. Sonic Pinball Party
Game Boy Advance, 2003, Jupiter/Sega

So yeah, it’s a pinball game and Sonic is in it. And NiGHTS for that matter. And Amigo. And references to ChuChu Rocket!, Burning Rangers and Phantasy Star Online. The love displayed for Sonic Team’s back catalogue (and Sonic R, for some reason) is impressive, even if they mix up the Frozen Bell and Splash Garden music on the NiGHTS table and then give Frozen Bell Gulpo as a boss and Clawz to Mystic Forest rather than the other way round. The Samba de Amigo table is simultaneously too sparse and too hard to be any fun, but the other two are great, and it’s nicely addictive. The casino minigames, involving pinball takes on roulette, slots and bingo, especially. Oh, and there’s this great little puzzle game that’s kind of like Magical Drop, if you’ve ever come across that, tucked away in there too.

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