Games based around mini-games have never been more popular. The genre has been popularized by Nintendo staples such as “Mario Party”, “Wario Ware” and more recently with “Wii Play” and “Wii Sports”. Microsoft introduced its own mini-game based title “Fuzion Frenzy” on the original Xbox. The game garnished pretty decent reviews and opened the door for Fuzion Frenzy to become an Xbox-based franchise. After a near five year wait, Xbox 360 owners finally have a chance to revisit the series with the Hudson Soft (Bomberman) developed “Fuzion Frenzy 2”. But does the game live up to the original title, or the slew of titles from the genre?
The game is set on a futuristic television game show called Fuzion Frenzy where contestants duke it out on various planets across the universe. According to the game’s background story, the original Fuzion Frenzy competition had been banned by government officials due to the show’s competitive nature. But thanks to overpopulation issues, the show returned to television airwaves four years later in an attempt to encourage immigration into space. To drum up interest, the organizers reinstated six of the most famous Fuzion Frenzy players to compete against each other. Enter Fuzion Frenzy 2.
You get to choose amongst seven planets to complete on, these planets include Earth, Blazer, Moisture, Amuseth, Eternite, Machina and Icicle. Each of the mini-games is based on the various terrains and environments featured on the specific planet. You get to participate in battles based around various elements such as water (Moisture) and fire (Blazer), among others. Each planet offers various degrees of challenges, with some games being harder than others.
Fuzion Frenzy 2 includes two modes of gameplay: Main Battle and Online Battle. Main Battle lets you either play against three of your friends or against computer-controlled characters. This mode gives you three different play options, Tournament, Mini-Game Frenzy and Custom. The first game is basically the main bread and butter of the game with a T.V. style presentation, while Mini-Game Frenzy lets you choose which mini-game to play. The final offering, Custom, lets you create your own tournament with games you choose.
The online portion of the game is similar to the offline version. The game gives you the option to either play in a ranked match or player match. The player slots can either be filled randomly or you have the option of only playing with people who are on your friends list.
It’s important to note that Fuzion Frenzy 2’s control scheme takes some getting used to. Casual gamers might get frustrated early on with character maneuverability as some of the controls schemes aren’t always clear from the start. One solution is patience. But patience shouldn’t be an issue with mini-game titles. Gamers should be able to feel comfortable almost immediately after the game kicks off. Users generally react negatively to things they don’t understand from the get go, and gamers might be quick to discard a title such as Fuzion Frenzy 2 thanks to its control scheme. But a little patience, mixed in with some practice should make the game quite enjoyable in the long run.
One most disappointing factors of Fuzion Frenzy 2 is the lack of character depth and attachment. You don’t feel as attached to the characters as you would with a title like Mario Party. The characters are pretty uninteresting and there’s no real reason to choose one character over another. It would be great to be able to download character packs off Xbox Live. Perhaps we could play as popular Rare characters such as Conker or Kameo, or download a Halo player pack and play as characters from the franchise. Anything would be better than the game’s current cast.
Another let down is the game’s audio. The game screams for users to use their own custom soundtracks. Not only is the music bad, but the game’s dialog is pitiful. Fuzion Frenzy 2’s voice work is definitely one of the worst sounding deliveries in this new gaming generation. Perhaps what’s more daunting is the fact that you’ll be forced to hear the same line of dialog over and over again.
The game looks pretty decent. The characters are well detailed and animate fluently. Sure these graphics won’t floor you when comparing them to recently released Xbox 360 titles, but the visual package works nicely thanks to its vibrant colors and modest animations.
All in all, Fuzion Frenzy 2 is an entertaining and straight-forward mini-game romp, but it’s clearly not as fun as some of the offerings available on rival consoles. The game has plenty of mini-games to keep you playing, but it’s not enough to make this game a must-own 360 title. Its suggested retail price ($59.99CDN) alone makes this purchase one that’s extremely hard to swallow. But in the end, Fuzion Frenzy 2 is decent enough to satisfy fans of the genre. Fuzion Frenzy 2 gets a 3.5 (out of five) star nod.
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E3 kicks off in a few days. I’m interested in seeing what will be brought to the table. Surely there will be alot to talk about in the next few days.
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