Gaming 300

Published on February 10th, 2009 | by Greg


Sonic: Unleashed, Retro Game Challenge, and Lips: Three Systems, Three Very Different Games

Who says fun isn’t cheap? We say: games give you some of the best bang for the buck, an inexpensive experience that can be enjoyed alone, with friends, or with family… again and again. At least, the best games can be replayable- others, you may not want to finish even once.

Which brings us to Sonic: Unleashed, for the PS3. A decent-looking cross-platform title featuring everyone’s favorite hedgehog, this is one of the better real Sonic games in quite awhile. Unfortunately, that isn’t saying much, and though half of the game recalls the fun of yesteryear, the other half is dark, pointless, and frustrating. You can sort of understand why the gamemakers chose to follow the path- it allows them to keep the original ideas intact while also making a darker, edgier Sonic (a werehog, actually).

But it just doesn’t work, and the nighttime versus daytime dichotomy feels forced and cheap, and the puzzle sections boring and unnecessary. You don’t get much time to enjoy actually being Sonic, doing what Sonic does best, and that’s a big mistake. Sure, Sonic:Unleashed has its moments- but those feeling nostalgic would be better off hauling out the old Genesis than spending around $60.

Or, if you were feeling nostalgic, you should definitely consider Retro Game Challenge from Xseed games for the Nintendo DS. This isn’t a direct remake or port of old games, but instead a re-invention of 5 or so classic game types, tied together in a unique way. You advance through the meta-game by completing challenges in the mini-games, starting off pretty basic but getting fiendishly difficult. The presentation hits the mark, from the top-down racer to the space shooter, the nifty 8-bit music to the occasional mis-translations. With plenty of extras, and even a sort of story tying it all together, it’s quite a package. We didn’t love the repeated versions of some of the games, and it felt like there was missed potential for tying in powers or abilities between games, but this is one Retro Game Challenge any NES or classic gamer will enjoy without feeling like they’ve played it before. Available now, for around $30, but lacking multiplayer options.

For multiplayer and replayability, it is tough to beat the slew of music games. We’ve tried most of them, and whether it’s a party or just trying to help your parents feel a little bit younger, there is no substitute for being able to rock out to music you enjoy. Microsoft’s Lips for the Xbox 360 is similar to Singstar for the PS3, in that it offers no instruments and focuses instead on vocals alone.

Every music game lives or dies on it’s tracklist, and Lips succeeds pretty well here, with a pop-focus and songs from several decades. Bands include A-ha, Coldplay, Maroon 5, Johnny Cash, Radiohead, The Bangles, and even The Jackson 5. The package includes two mics, with a few interesting gimmicks- they are motion-sensitive, which you use to active this game’s version of Star Power, and you can import your own songs!

You’ll have to use DRM-free music, but it’s pretty simple- plug in your USB thumbdrive and go. You won’t get lyrics, which is unfortunate, but do get the waveforms so that you can challenge yourself to match the pitch of the songs. This ability adds a lot to the game, as there are only 40 tracks and you’ll get a bit bored. Lips does feature a decent selection of downloadable content as well, with about the same pricing scheme as other music games. For $70, you get two wireless microphones and a decent variety of songs- though for larger parties or those who want a wider selection of music, definitely consider Rock Band 1 or 2.

About the Author

Greg dreamed up the idea for the Truly Network while living in Hawaii, which began with a single site called TrulyObscure. In 2010, when advertisers and readers were requesting coverage beyond the scope of that site, TrulyNet was launched, reaching a broader audience over a variety of niche sites. Formerly the head technology correspondent for the Des Moines Register at age 16, he has since lived and worked in five states and two countries, helping a list of organizations and companies that includes the United States Census Bureau, TripAdvisor, Events Photo Group, Berlitz, and Computer Geeks. He also served as the Content Strategy Manager for HearPlanet, a multi-platform app that has reached over a million users and has been featured in the New York Times, Hemispheres Magazine, National Geographic Adventure, Fox Business News, PC Magazine, and even Apple’s own iPhone ads. Greg has written as a restaurant critic and feature journalist for a number of national and international publications, including City Weekend Magazine, Red Egg Magazine, the Newton Daily News, Capital Change Magazine, and an arm of China Daily, Beijing Weekend. In addition, he has served as a consulting editor for the Foreign Language Press of Beijing, as well as a writer and editor for the George Washington University Hatchet, the school newspaper of his alma mater. Originally from Iowa, Greg is currently living in the West Village of Manhattan.

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