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VALLEY WEEKEND | VIDEO GAMES

Beavis and Butthead Virtuosos of Stupidity

The doltish duo's latest foray into foolishness scores big in both belly laughs and animation.

February 22, 1996|AARON CURTISS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

No one has ever accused me of being highbrow. My opinion of the film version of "Sense and Sensibility" was that it could have used a few roundhouse kicks to liven things up.

Maybe that's why I like Viacom New Media's latest CD-ROM, featuring Beavis and Butthead, so much. Parents reading this may wonder what I or their kids see in the two losers, but I have to admit I think they're hilarious.

And Beavis and Butthead's Virtual Stupidity for Windows 95 delivers the same kinds of belly laughs as the MTV series. Virtual Stupidity is at least nominally a game, but the true fun here is found by just sitting back and listening.

Unlike the 16-bit versions of Beavis and Butthead, which sucked, this incarnation is cool in all respects. The animation is television-quality and voices are supplied by B & B creator Mike Judge and other actors featured in the series. An entirely new set of gags and one-liners was written for the game so true aficionados of the doltish duo may want to pick it up just to round out their repertoire.

Although the game play is secondary to the animation and jokes, the design features some nice elements that occasionally seem wasted. For instance, a graphic interface similar to the one used by LucasArts in Full Throttle is simple and effective, but a little out of place.

More Gore: Video games are rarely made for the faint of heart, but Loaded from Interplay on Sony PlayStation tests how much blood and gore even the most hearty gamers are able to stomach.

Set in a futuristic prison, Loaded features a cast of characters each more scuzzy than the one before. For instance, FWaNK, who "has the mental age of a lobotomized 6-year-old and the body of a steroid-eating wildebeest who doesn't shower."

You get the idea.

Play itself is extremely fast and unrelenting. Imagine Doom viewed from above, and you get a pretty good picture of the environment. The game engine runs smoothly, creating stunning and beautiful scenes. Even on the "players are fairies" level, which is what I played, Loaded was out of control.

The truly disturbing element of the game, though, is the intensely graphic way it depicts death. Bad guys don't just fall over and die, they splatter across the room and leave piles of goo as they cross ignobly into the next world.

Sure, some folks might dig it, but some people also want to watch executions on TV. I like a good video gunfight as much as the next guy, but sometimes it goes too far. Although technically beautiful and a blast to play, Loaded lowers the bar yet again.

Off-Target: With rumors flying about Atari exiting the video game business, the beleaguered company has shown once again what it does best--put out games that are almost, but not quite, there.

With Missile Command 3-D, Atari digs into its glory days to exhume the classic game of nuclear annihilation. I love Missile Command, and this game should have been a slam dunk, but the action is slow and repetitive.

This time around, the twist is that the action takes place on more than just two dimensions. Players actually feel as if they are in one of the missile bases. It's fun for a while and visually quite a treat, but I quickly went back to playing the old version.

Too bad.

Staff writer Aaron Curtiss reviews video games regularly. To comment on a column or suggest games for review, send letters to The Times, 20000 Prairie St., Chatsworth, Calif. 91311. Or e-mail Aaron.Curtiss@latimes.com.

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