Kung Fu Rider is the only launch title for the PlayStation Move motion controller that isn’t a collection of mini games or a Wii Sports rehash. It’s like a bare-bones Tony Hawk game circa 2000, but with kicks instead of tricks and buried under a cubic acre of Japanese preciousness.

You play as a Japanese office drone, or as his nubile secretary. Both are on the run from the mob, but they don’t own a car and won’t steal a bike, and so they try to make a speedy getaway using office furniture. You have to keep your balance in Kung Fu Rider with the Move controller while riding swivel chairs down the hilly streets of Hong Kong, dodging obstacles by jumping or veering off to the side, and collecting money to increase your score. You can grind on railings and land plants on the roofs of cars, but you can’t pull off any other Hawkian moves.

Black-suited Triads try to stop you but a quick wrist flick drives your feet into their faces. Points unlock new levels and wheels, including a vacuum cleaner and other “wacky” vehicles.

The goofball charm wears off quickly, leaving a game as simple as it is repetitive. Still, it’s briefly fun with others.



Guitar Hero popularized music games, and now it’s dead-set on killing ’em off. Five full-priced Guitar Hero games came out in 2009. The flagship title, Guitar Hero 5, featured a few notable updates, but the rest are basically track packs. Around $60 for dozens of songs beats out the going DLC rate of two bucks a track, but only the least-discriminating listener would love enough of the wide-ranging Band Hero or Smash Hits setlists to justify the expense. They confuse the marketplace and overexpose rhythm games, treating the genre like a fad that should be quickly capitalized on.

The other guys aren’t blameless, but 2009’s various Rock Band titles justify themselves in one of two ways. Either they’re budget-priced expansions focused on genres, or else they offer an experience that can’t be replicated. See The Beatles: Rock Band, or the more recent Lego Rock Band.

It’s just what it sounds like: Rock Band with the look and humor of the Lego Star Wars series.

Everything’s blocky, from your band to the venues to the tour vehicles you unlock. Vaguely unsettling Lego versions of David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Blur and Queen show up. The kid-friendly soundtrack leans heavily on catchy ’00s hits, but draws from every decade since the ’60s. You can even pay to import the songs into Rock Band. It’s not spectacular, but it’s cute and fun and more than a blatant cash-grab.


Did Fast & Furious’ huge debut temporarily kill jokes about Vin Diesel’s career? If so, there goes, like, half my review. The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena harkens back to the simple days of 2004, when the Xbox didn’t have a numeric suffix and Diesel films were guaranteed disasters. That’s when the original Xbox game, Riddick: Escape From Butcher Bay, first wowed the critics. A first-person shooter that largely prioritizes stealth and mêlée combat, Butcher Bay remains surprisingly smart and engrossing, especially for a movie tie-in. This disc contains a current-gen HD remake of that classic alongside the all-new sequel, Assault on Dark Athena. Athena gradually cashes in the Butcher Bay goodwill, dishing out a well-crafted but quite generic gun-centric killing spree that lacks most of the first edition’s subtlety and originality. It’s fun, but not exceptional. Still, this is the only noteworthy thing Diesel’s done since The Iron Giant.


Forza Motorsport 3 frightens me. It’s shattered basic assumptions I’ve long held about life, or at least about driving games. The only ones I’ve dug since Pole Position focus more on blowing stuff up than winning races. Super-serious racing games are soulless prioritizing flashy graphics and automotive porn over pleasure. The crashes are the best part, but they can’t compete with car combat games like Twisted Metal or Mario Kart. Why restrict yourself to fender-benders and sideswipes when you can crush your friends with missiles and turtle shells?

But now, here’s Forza Motorsport 3, a game too overwhelming to hate. I may not like what it does, but it does it with such all-encompassing conviction that I must respect it. Maybe it took struggling through similar recent titles like Need for Speed: Shift and Gran Turismo PSP to realize its greatness, but Forza Motorsport 3 is the rare racing sim that doesn’t completely sacrifice fun for realism.

It doesn’t do anything all that innovative, but everything it does is executed with the utmost precision. Realistic handling is usually a drag, but somehow it’s never frustrating in Forza 3. Of course the graphics are startlingly lifelike. Of course there are multiple variations on the standard rules of car racing. You know it’s got more cars than Jay Leno. Somehow, it’s even funnier, despite possessing not one scintilla of humor. Forza never forgets that it’s a game, and that games should be fun.


It is not unusual to blow shit up within the world of video games. If you’ve never blown shit up in a video game, you either brag about how you don’t own a television, or you’re a senior citizen and get a pass ’cause you blew up shit real good back in the ’40s.

It is unusual for the shit you blow up in a video game to intentionally be the character you are in control of, but that is exactly the reason Splosion Man exists. He explodes so that we may avoid human interaction. Like the supremely frustrating flash game-turned-console-downloadable N+, Splosion Man is a physics-heavy platformer built around a jumping mechanic. But instead of actual leaps, the aptly named Splosion Man propels himself upwards via … explosions. You earn extra points by exploding the evil scientists who created you into various pig-derived food products. Splosion Man reminds me of the early ’90s, when 16-bit technology let Mario-style platformers move in previously impossible directions.

While Sonic ran like Usain Bolt on horse speed and Kid Chameleon had dozens of equally boring personalities, the mischievous Splosion Man just blows himself up like the most adorable little jihadist.


My grandfather had a healthy appreciation for stereotypes. He also hated Nazis.

He’d dig The Saboteur, a World War II soapbox adventure with characters straight from central casting. Your hero is Sean Devlin, a short-tempered Irish racecar driver who lives on whiskey, violence and sex. He hangs out in freshly invaded Paris, in the back of a burlesque club. Devlin’s vendetta against the Nazi who killed his best friend hooks him up with the French Resistance, and he proceeds to sabotage Nazi installations throughout Paris.

Expect ridiculousness. Devlin talks like a leprechaun, the Nazis are stereotypically cruel and effete, French characters sound like Inspector Clouseau, and every woman is either half naked or a shrew. There’s also a juvenile fascination with sex. Devlin’s strip-club home comes complete with a few dozen naked ladies constantly lounging about. There are also repeated trysts with a sexy British agent whose entendre-filled dialogue would make Lady Gaga gag.

The Saboteur plays like GTA, but the controls are smoother and the setting more beautiful—with classic Parisian architecture and a stylish black-and-white filter distinguishing the areas under Nazi control. There’s also a chase through an exploding zeppelin that’s one of the best action sequences from 2009. It’s far from great, but there’s a good amount of fun beneath all its embarrassing bullshit.


You don’t have to forswear what you liked as a kid once you get a 401(k) and a mortgage. Metroid was the best game ever when I was 10, and the Metroid Prime games were some of the best when I was 25, 30 and now 30-plus. And I own a goddamn Victorian.

So here’s all three Metroid Prime games, from 2002’s original GameCube classic through 2007’s Wii finale Metroid Prime 3, on one disc. The initial Prime was basically Metroid 3-D, a first-person shooter that emphasized exploration over gunplay. Despite the perspective shift, it played like the original Metroid, a game so groundbreaking an entire genre’s named after it. You were still an interstellar bounty hunter stuck on a claustrophobic planet full of unfriendly aliens and space pirates, and you still regularly acquired new skills and power-ups that opened up previously inaccessible areas. More importantly, it was still video game crack.

That must make the Trilogy crack wrapped in prosciutto, because these games are better than ever. The first two are as great as you remember, but with Prime 3’s excellent Wii-tweaked control scheme grafted on. Your Wii remote becomes a de facto gun, with a simple point and click replacing the original’s autolock targeting and button-mashing gunfire. You’ll want to shuck your grownup responsibilities and play all three games nonstop.