WARIOWARE: SMOOTH MOVES
(Nintendo; Wii; Everyone)
The Wii already has a few terrific titles, but there’s probably no better game than WarioWare: Smooth Moves to show you just how much maniacal, physical fun the new console can offer, especially if you’ve got a few friends to join in. In keeping with the time-honored Wario tradition, Smooth Moves is a series of microgames — there’s more than 200 of ’em here — each lasting no longer than five seconds, and each involving a specific action (that makes awesome use of the motion-sensitive Wii Remote). It’s all silly fun — the kind of game where you will be expected to balance a broom on the palm of your hand. Or pick a cartoon nose. Or high-five a puppy.
The basic mission has you blasting through waves of microgames that require ever-decreasing reaction times. You’ll learn different ”forms,” or ways of handling the “Wiimote,” such as holding it like a barbell or up to your nose like an elephant trunk. These 20 or so forms keep the microgames from getting too repetitive and keep you quick on your fingers anticipating the next move. The party-friendly multiplayer mode uses the same microgames but amps up the shenanigans with hot-potato-style interaction between players. Smooth Moves is a must-have title for any and all Wii owners. Throw your Wiimotes in the air and wave ’em like you just don’t care! A- —Samantha Xu
LOST PLANET: EXTREME CONDITION
(Capcom; Xbox 360; Teen)
Towering snow drifts. Frigid temperatures. Blistering winds. Blankets of ice. No, we’re not talking the weather that has paralyzed the Midwest but rather Lost Planet, the new third-person shooter that drops you into hostile landscapes populated by a jillion Starship Trooper-like creepy-crawlies. Just don’t ask why: the barely comprehensible storyline involves thermal energy, snow pirates, and avenging a father who dies fighting a green-eyed monster named — we’re not kidding here — Green Eye. Even more chilling is the game’s stilted voice-acting, that’s not helped by lines that sound like they were translated from Japanese to Hebrew to Portuguese to English.
Still, like many other action games imported from Japan, Lost Planet succeeds in spite of its tacky melodrama, not because of it. What really matters is that the game has more than enough stirring action, gargantuan guns, and pretty explosions to hold your attention. You also get to don ”vital suits” — mechanized exo-skeletons (think wearable tanks) that hover above the ground and unleash a hailstorm of rockets and bullets on the enemy insect hordes. And you’ll need all the help you can get because following the modus operandi of old-school shooters, Lost Planet throws a ”boss battle” at you at the end of every level. These bouts pit you against massive enemies that fill the TV screen and bombard you with a barrage of projectiles. Most of these bosses don’t fight very fairly and are agonizingly difficult to beat — so plan on repeating certain parts of the game over…and over…and over again. Or better yet, play Lost Planet‘s exposition-free multiplayer modes on Xbox Live and steer clear of the game’s worst traits altogether. B- —Gary Eng Walk