Boy, it's gray outside. Agh! Time to hide in the basement with video games again.
Ghostbusters The Video Game (every console): Harold Ramis, star and writer of the films, did a press junket to promote the new Ghostbusters video game, talking up '80s nostalgia and the like. Of most interest to me was this bit about writing for games instead of films:
You’re not only dealing with the repetition of the comedy, but you’re dealing with the repetition of the gamers mastering the game itself. To make a game so funny with so many comic alternatives, that would be like writing three hit movies. The scripts are impossibly long.
Seems like an attempt to justify how unfunny Ghostbusters The Video Game is. To its credit, the game doesn't overdo catch phrases and one-liners while you're chasing and catching ghosts. It favors dry, situational humor, and the writing isn't inherently bad; it's just spread thinly. Worse, Bill Murray's lines and delivery stink, probably because his romantic foil in this, Alyssa Milano, is a snooze of a Sigourney replacement. Even if the vocal work and jokes had been on point, the characters look like vacant, Chuck E. Cheese robots, so there's no "acting" to carry the humor.
I harp on the jokes because they're the front-and-center focus of an otherwise boring game. Other than a few "boss" scenes, you're capturing ghosts the same way again and again and again. The game leads you by the nose from joke to joke without interesting play or interactive twists. I wouldn't watch this as a movie... and they want me to grind to get through it? Pfft.
Splosion Man (Xbox Live): This'un's funnier. From the tiny studio that brought us The Maw comes this memorable spaz of a game. Spaz, I sez: You're an experiment gone wrong, hooting and snorting and cackling and making engine-revving noises, and you run-and-jump a la Mega Man to escape a lab. The gimmick is that your only move is to blow yourself up: it's your jump and attack at once.
It's hard to expect much new in the "run left to right" category, but SM's blasty mechanics feel fresh enough—or the goofy style and amusing animations tricked me into having fun. (Kill enough scientists and the game will award you with the "Get Them Out Of Our Schools" achievement. Run into the chubby scientist and the game's music will switch to a ukulele tune titled "Everybody Loves Donuts." Blow something up and you'll hear your guy scream lines like "Get to tha choppah!" or "We're done professionally.")
These are very clever worlds to blast through; you'll fling through the air, notice a floating explosive in mid-air ahead of you, and time another explosion to propel higher in the air while your little character cackles madly, then chain another few of these. $10 gets you pretty far here; after beating the lengthy solo mode, there's a co-op mode—just as lengthy—to play w/ up to three other friends. Blow each other up to fly even higher. Fun.
Here's what I really dig about Splosion Man: It wouldn't have existed a few years ago. Back then, you'd look at the box for a game like this, wonder what the heck it was (duhrrr there's no Mario or Madden on da box), and scoff at the high price. Now, download stores on every console make these weird, $10 experiments a legitimate option, and they're among the easiest games for game haters to enjoy. SM has one button. It's the "splode" button, and it's my fave button of the year thus far.