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THE ALTERNATIVES | GOT GAME?

It's a case of you-dunnit

October 20, 2005|Pete Metzger | Times Staff Writer

A well-crafted thriller resonates with you, even after you leave the theater. Perhaps the deeply involved story line or the tension-driven moments grab hold. Maybe the haunting score or moody images are what remain.

The cinematic brilliance of the mysterious Indigo Prophecy is just such a thriller. Unfortunately, attempting to control the characters and action in this title can be just as frustrating as the movie-like sequences are amazing.

Lucas Kane awakes from a trance in the restroom of a New York diner having just murdered a complete stranger in cold blood for no apparent reason. It's up to the player to decide his next move. Hide the body? Ditch the knife? Turn yourself in? Every choice leads the story down a different path. But because of the film-like qualities, moving Lucas around can be a challenge. At times, in a successful effort to make the tension palpable, the camera cuts to a different angle. Suddenly, Lucas is now moving in the wrong direction.

Even with its control shortcomings, Indigo Prophecy still manages to be one of the best movies we've ever played.

Details: PlayStation 2 and Xbox platforms; $39.99; rated Mature (blood, partial nudity, sexual themes, strong language and violence).

*

Quirky Spidey action

If you played Spider-Man 2 last year, Ultimate Spider Man will seem dangerously familiar. The game play is almost a direct match (your choice of story missions or side challenges as you swing through an incredibly large New York playground) and the controls are just as clunky (getting comfortable using Spidey's webs takes some time). But the real reason to spend the 50 bucks here is the fantastic cut-screens that successfully make the brilliant comic-looking panels spring to life (more like MTV's quirky, stylized version of the web crawler rather than the hit live-action films). Fast-paced and kid-friendly fun.

Details: All platforms; $49.99; rated Teen (language and violence).

*

Small but mighty fun

Man, when they say "micro," they're not kidding. What Nintendo's newest version of its industry-leading portable game system lacks in size, it makes up for in "wow." Smaller than a computer mouse, Game Boy Micro plays the wide selection of colorful Game Boy games on its surprisingly vibrant 2-inch (diagonally) screen. The sturdily made unit's built-in rechargeable battery and headphone jack continue the evolution of the perfect game system for the younger set. And even though our average-sized 34-year-old hands had trouble using the two shoulder buttons on the top of the unit, we still can't help being amazed at the cool factor.

Details: $99.99

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3-D's fourth `D' is `dull'

Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves is a ho-hum platformer until you reach one of the levels rendered in 3-D that require you to don old-school red-and-blue 3-D glasses to get the full "coming right at you effect." (Never mind that the game's packaging makes you think the entire game is in 3-D and that you have to read a little paragraph at the bottom of Page 11 in the manual to discover that this isn't true.)

Without the 3-D, the cartoon-style graphics are colorful, if not groundbreaking, but the action is about as exciting as the lifeless voice-overs.

Details: PlayStation 2 platform; $39.99; rated Everyone 10+ (cartoon violence, comic mischief).

*

Updated oldies

We'll admit it: We're suckers for old-school games such as the ones found in Namco Museum Battle Collection. Ms. Pac Man, Galaga and Rolling Thunder (included along with 14 others) snap, crackle and pop on the PSP's bright screen. The updated versions of classics like Dig Dug offer improved graphics and better boss battles while maintaining their simplistic charms.

Details: PlayStation Portable platform; $39.99; rated Everyone 10+ (cartoon violence).

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