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The Cutting Edge | Gamer's Corner

No Luv for 'South Park'; 'Battlezone II' Smokes

March 23, 2000|AARON CURTISS

The funny thing about two recent games based on the adult cartoon "South Park" is that they are not very funny. Or very fun, for that matter.

South Park Rally

"South Park Rally" for Nintendo 64, Sony PlayStation and the PC and "South Park: Chef's Luv Shack" for all major platforms put two distinct spins on the comic franchise that includes Kenny, Cartman, Stan and Kyle. Neither holds much appeal, and neither is meant for kids--although it's tough to imagine many adults finding much of these games amusing.

"South Park Rally" takes traditional rally racing and drops it in the South Park universe. Players drive cars with their favorite characters through a series of cartoonish courses built around the fictional town of South Park.

Each course has its own gimmick, which saves them--barely--from being too boring. In the Halloween race, players collect candy along the course. In the Thanksgiving race, players track down turkeys for the poor and then ring the bell for media attention. Easier said than done.

Special power-ups line the courses, and victory requires both the ability to dodge obstacles tossed from other cars and the skill to knock out opponents with a well placed hazard. This being "South Park," the hazards range from barf and explosive diarrhea to water balloons and herpes.

Clearly, "South Park Rally" is a game that's meant to be shared with friends. Up to four people can play simultaneously. But given the language of the game, "South Park Rally" is clearly made for adults. The game's "Mature" rating from the Entertainment Software Ratings Board means parents should pay attention. That said, I can't imagine too many grown-ups gathering their friends for a "South Park Rally" cocktail party.

A kegger at the frat house, maybe.

On the PC, "South Park Rally" requires a Pentium 200 with 32 mb of RAM, 170 mb of available hard drive space and a graphics accelerator card with at least 4 mb of video RAM.

South Park: Chef's Luv Shack

"Chef's Luv Shack" also requires more than one player for the full effect. This is "South Park" meets "Mario Party" meets "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire." Essentially a quiz show with some mini-games tossed in on the side, "Chef's Luv Shack" quizzes players in categories such as "Damn, Leonard Maltin" and "Gay Cowboys." Some of the questions are pretty challenging--but many focus on excrement and body parts.

At the end of every quiz round, players compete in mini-games that are essentially derivations of arcade classics such as "Asteroids," "Galaxian" and "Donkey Kong." Only now they have much cruder names and executions.

"Chef's Luv Shack" is not a game players finish feeling good about themselves.

On the PC, "Chef's Luv Shack" requires a Pentium 166 with 32 mb of RAM and 500 mb of available hard drive space.

Battlezone II:

Combat Commander

You have to love a game that alleges "everything you've been told about the last 50 years is wrong." Not everything, of course. Mistakes such as the "Backstreet Boys" and "Star Wars Episode One: The Phantom Menace" are unfortunately all too true. But big things such as the real extent of the Cold War--we have no idea how deep it goes.

"Battlezone II: Combat Commander" for the PC creates a world in which the United States and the Soviet Union actually engaged in a hot ongoing war for world domination. Except it all happened in the farthest reaches of space as the two superpowers duked it out planet by planet, moon by moon. The real reason for the breakup of the Soviet Union was, the game surmises, not the success of glasnost or the inherent righteousness of capitalism, but an external threat to Earth by a half-human, half-machine breed of super-killers--called Furies--bent on wiping out humanity.

The war rages still. So as the rest of us ponder Jennifer Lopez's wardrobe and try to get on "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire," a contingent of brave space soldiers fights to keep Earth safe. Heavy stuff.

Fortunately, "Battlezone II" is a heavy game with a light touch. For all its cool story, the game focuses on piloting a hover tank around some very creepy planets and pumping bad guys full of futuristic lead. As the name "Combat Commander" implies, though, there's more to "Battlezone II" than just simplistic shooting.

Like its PC predecessor, "Battlezone II" bears little resemblance to the coin-op machine with its now-primitive vector graphics and rudimentary play. As players pick their way through the remote outposts of the International Space Defense Federation, they must rebuild ruined buildings and call in reinforcements to provide the firepower necessary to destroy the Fury forces.

Players command other units and direct the construction of armories and service bays from behind the controls of their hover tank. Which is a good place to do it because rarely does the game provide a moment's relief from the Fury onslaught. So even as a building goes up, the Furies try to wipe it--and you--out.

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