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Fun Zone | Game Reviews

'Girl' Dangerously Cool, but Dodge the 'Duck'

October 26, 2000|AARON CURTISS | Aaron Curtiss is editor of Tech Times. aaron.curtiss@latimes.com

While everybody bellyaches about not getting a PlayStation 2 today, take some comfort in the fact that there are plenty of great games out there for systems that are readily available--and for less than half the price of Sony's little black $299 box.

Of course, there's also some real dreck. And lots of stuff in between. But that's not a function of which system you happen to own because, rest assured, PlayStation 2--like every other platform--will host some truly awful games now and then.

Feel better?

"Danger Girl"

You will after playing "Danger Girl," a thoroughly cool third-person shooter based on the ultra-hip comic book of the same name. For the original Sony PlayStation, "Danger Girl" follows Abbey Chase, Sydney Savage and JC as they battle Major Maxim and the turncoat Natalia Kassle.

In missions with such names as "Rumble in the Jungle," "Caution: Curves Ahead" and "Catfight to the Finish," players take control of all three Danger Girls as they put their assets to work fighting the forces of Maxim's evil Hammer Empire.

For those unfamiliar with the Danger Girls, they are a group of highly trained bombshells with cartoon bodies that make busty Lara Croft of "Tomb Raider" look like Olive Oyl. Although drawn for boys and men stuck in puberty, the Danger Girls are modern gals packing heat.

And they use it repeatedly in "Danger Girl." Players guide their characters through outrageous terrain crawling with enemy forces. Enemies enjoy decent artificial intelligence so they follow players as they run and notice when a Danger Girl steps into the light from the shadows.

Winning requires more than just running and shooting. With tons of puzzles, "Danger Girl" requires players to think hard and take advantage of the various items characters find along the way. Because they are a covert-ops group, the Danger Girls do a fair amount of sneaking about, which is made easier by tight control.

Visually, the game itself is pretty standard PlayStation fare. Some of the pre-rendered cinematic sequences look great, but they're pretty steamy and some parents may not want their kids watching Abbey Chase disrobe in the moonlight. More important, they may not want their kids controlling Abbey Chase as she double-taps bad guys with a semiautomatic.

"Danger Girl" earned its Teen rating for violence and suggestive themes, and parents should pay attention to it. But older teens and adults should find plenty to love in "Danger Girl."

"Duck Dodgers"

It would be tough to find a more slapdash game than "Duck Dodgers" for Nintendo 64. Starring Daffy Duck, Porky Pig and Marvin the Martian--three of my favorite Warner Bros. cartoon characters--"Duck Dodgers" follows Daffy as he attempts to head off Marvin's efforts to destroy the Earth.

Funny how nearly 50 years after Duck Dodgers originally aired, it's tough to improve. The original 1953 short--directed by Chuck Jones and voiced by Mel Blanc--was hilarious. The "Duck Dodgers" game is not. The gags have awful timing, and the whole thing moves way too slowly to hold much interest.

Aside from desecrating a great cartoon, "Duck Dodgers" rips off the first truly great Nintendo 64 game, "Mario 64," and, in an amazing twist, manages to do an absolutely third-rate job of it. One would think that four years would give developers plenty of time to get comfortable enough with a game machine so that rip-offs would at least look and play better than the original.

Not so in this case. Daffy is tough to control. His jumps go all over the place. The landscapes are fuzzy and indistinct, making it tough to see what's going on sometimes. The whole thing just stinks of someone trying to make a quick buck.

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The Skinny

"Danger Girl"

* Genre: Third-person action adventure

* Price: $30

* Platform: Sony PlayStation

* Publisher: THQ

* ESRB rating*: Teen

* The good: Solid action with strong heroines

* The bad: Not much

* Bottom line: Cool fun

"Duck Dodgers"

* Genre: 3D kiddie adventure

* Price: $40

* Platform: Nintendo 64

* Publisher: Infogrames

* ESRB rating*: Everyone

* The good: Not much

* The bad: Chunky graphics and lumbering control

* Bottom line: Lame

* Entertainment Software Ratings Board

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