Monday, February 14, 2011

Zombie Panic in Wonderland (demo)

So a Spanish developer decided to make a zombie light gun shooter based on an imagined sequel to a Japanese legend, The Wizard of Oz and several Disney princesses in very revealing outfits and put the game on WiiWare. Here's the official description:

A wave of zombies is attacking Wonderland. To save his friends from the spell of the "amorous zombies," the player will have to solve the mystery of the "scented dwarves" - with machine gun in-hand - and put an end to the evil power hidden in the castle in the northern city. Game features include cut scenes, music with lyrics, seven playable characters, hidden levels, final bosses, different weapons, fire, demolitions, explosions and lots of zombies attacking you at all times.

Zombie Panic in Wonderland screenshot

Prior interest: none

With pointer controls, the Wii is an ideal platform for light gun games and by now many of them are rattling around in bargain bins for about the same price as this WiiWare game. I don't particularly need or want a game that seems to trade heavily on sexy anime characters.

Odds of purchase: none

Nothing in the demo really changed my mind about purchasing this game, but I was surprised by a few things. First, the production values are much higher than I'd anticipated. Music, sound, visuals (including completely destructible environments), controls, and even the cut scene to start the level are of the highest quality. Second, the game turns out to be very easy even on the hard difficulty if the demo level is to be trusted. With unlimited ammo, a few very high-powered support weapons, and environment hazards to fend off zombie sumo wrestlers and ninjas, there's no particular feeling of panic. Perhaps the balance shifts in later rounds.

In sum: a quality game that I have no interest in.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Racers' Islands: Crazy Racers (demo)

Racers' Islands: Crazy Racers looks for all the world like a Mario Kart clone. "Crazy" cast of characters? Check. Bright, colorful visuals? Check. Nonsensical power-ups? Check. Slit-screen, four-player mode? Check. Wild, over-the-top tracks? Check. If you are going to steal, steal from the best. Plus this attempt includes some light-gun shooter elements, which seems like a great addition.

Racers' Islands: Crazy Racers screenshots

Prior interest: slight

As a Mario Kart fan, my heart started to race for a moment when I saw a cartoon racer on the demo list.

Odds of purchase: none

Mario Kart sets the standard for kart racers. (It even supplies the genre name.) On the opposite end of the spectrum sit barely-playable cash-ins like M&M's Kart Racing. Mario Kart sells year in and year out because everyone who plays the game loves it and wants a copy. Shovelware succeeds because by the time anyone plays the game, it's too late. Releasing a demo sends the signal that Racers' Islands sits closer to Mario Kart than to the M&M game, but playing the demo reveals the opposite. Unlike retail shovelware, which can rely on box art, junky WiiWare titles need decent-looking screenshots and trailers to attract sales. It's a wonder that Racers' Islands: Crazy Racers bothered to release a free version that demonstrates how poorly the game controls. It honestly felt like I was driving not a race car, but a unicycle.

This seems to me the worst case scenario for the game's publisher. (But I'm glad they let us feel how poor the game plays without spending the cash.)