Mortal Kombat: Armageddon
(Midway, Nintendo Wii, Mature)
Anyone who has spent time playing on the Wii can tell you that these games are more family-friendly than a third-grade play. Indeed, most diehard gamers forced to do cutesy tasks in titles like Wii Sports (hit a ball!), Cooking Mama (chop vegetables!), or Paper Mario (jump on turtles!), have probably wondered what it would be like to use the Wii’s cool motion-detecting controllers to beat the bejesus out of someone in a proper fighting game. Well, wonder no more. In a klassic kase of konsole kismet, Mortal Kombat — the long-running franchise notorious for its over-the-top violence (and annoying misuse of the letter K) — has finally made its appearance on Nintendo’s best-selling console.
Was it worth the wait? Let’s see. The controls for basic combat (i.e., punching and kicking) have been mapped to ordinary buttons on the remote — it is only MK:A‘s flashier ”special moves” that make use of the motion sensors. These moves also differ from character to character. For example, playing as Sub Zero lets you freeze a foe by carving a half-circle in the air. Scorpion, on the other hand, can conjure a cascade of fire by waving the controller up and down. Certain tricks grow substantially more complicated. MK‘s signature ”Fatality” death blows — which used to require you to hit a precise combination of buttons — now call on you to make a series of frenzied gestures not so different from the Macarena.
And while these special moves are kinda fun, they’re not special enough to keep you from hooking up a conventional controller to your Wii and playing MK:A old-school. It would have been a lot more fun (and a much better workout) if the punching and kicking were more like the real actions, as they are in the boxing segment in Wii Sports. There is a good game here — but we’d like to see much better use of the Wii’s unique control scheme. Is MK:A mildly entertaining? Sure. Is it a must-own title? Not even klose. C+ —Gary Eng Walk
Touch the Dead
(Eidos, Nintendo DS, Mature)
In keeping with this week’s theme of arterial spray and flying viscera (a coincidence, we assure you, and not at all reflective of our gentle natures), we spent some time with this new zombie-shooter for the DS. Like Mortal Kombat: Armageddon above, Touch the Dead is an M-rated title — the first for Nintendo’s generally kid-friendly handheld device. And, like the disappointing Wii game, TTD is a potentially good title that falls short of our already minimal expectations. We liked the intuitive shooting mechanism — and the many sweat-inducing moments that have you counting your remaining bullets as you frantically reduce zombie hordes into bloody piles of detached limbs. Unfortunately, the game has too many problems — ranging from a clunky interface (namely, the unwieldy reloads) to a frustrating learning curve (first half, easy; second half, impossible) — that only the most devoted of horror-survival fans will be willing to ignore. C — Wook Kim