Videogame roundup

Mario Power Tennis and Rhythm Heaven hit the shelves.

PHOTO COURTESY NINTENDO

Ashley Goetz

PHOTO COURTESY NINTENDO

âÄúMario Power TennisâÄù RATED: E DISTRIBUTED FOR: Nintendo GameCube, Wii If there is one character that gamers love above all others, it is undoubtedly NintendoâÄôs Mario . Whether heâÄôs jumping over barrels, hurling fireballs or driving a funny little car, loyal fans just canâÄôt get enough of his distinctive brand of mustachioed cool. ThatâÄôs why itâÄôs no surprise that Nintendo can get away with selling any game that has his marketable name stamped upon it, even when itâÄôs the exact same game that came out five years ago. Such is the case with âÄúMario Power Tennis,âÄù which was recently rereleased as part of the New Play Control! series, a group of old GameCube games retooled for the Wii console. Let it be said, first and foremost, that âÄúMario Power TennisâÄù is a great game, and it was a great game five years ago as well. But itâÄôs truly aggravating that Nintendo had all this time to make improvements and add content to the Wii version and simply chose not to. Sure, the graphics are a little better, but it has been half a decade. Developers could have created an entirely new game in that time or added some new levels or fresh characters at the very least. Alas, they did not, and the result is a lazy, near carbon copy of the original. Despite the regrettable fact that âÄúMario Power TennisâÄù is unchanged content-wise, it is actually a lot more fun this time around (aside from the debilitating shoulder pain incurred after prolonged periods of play). This of course is due entirely to the Wiimote, which allows for a realistic feel unmatched by any standard controller. Now players have the ability to apply topspin, slice deviously and gaily lob balls into the air in a manner that befits those who have actually stepped foot on a tennis court before. Tennis was always the most enjoyable part of âÄúWii SportsâÄù and one of the games that really cemented the WiiâÄôs status as more than a novelty. Now that it can be played using a slew of classic characters instead of those creepy little Miis , it is that much better. Still, Nintendo should constantly look to deliver the best product possible instead of rehashing the same old material. âÄúRhythm HeavenâÄù RATED: E DISTRIBUTED BY: Nintendo DS Japan has a long history of producing idiosyncratic games that frustrate the senses and seemingly defy reason. This peculiar fascination has often been the subject of playful mockery in the West, but it has recently nestled its way into American culture via media like FoxâÄôs human Tetris game show âÄúHole in the Wall .âÄù While these games do not have quite the stranglehold that they do in Japan, they are quickly gaining loyal fans here in the United States, and the release of NintendoâÄôs âÄúRhythm HeavenâÄù will certainly add to the growing popularity of these bizarre imports. As its hyperbolic title suggests, this game (for the DS platform) is all about keeping rhythm. Using the stylus, players must perform a series of deft taps, slides and flicks in time with a given song in order to complete the stages. For example, one stage positions the player as a monkey who must clap along with his favorite pop singer by tapping the screen. Strange? Yes. Fun? Definitely. It might sound inane, but it is actually oddly captivating. What makes the game enjoyable, aside from toe-tapping tunes, is the constant variation. âÄúRhythm HeavenâÄù consists of fifty mini-games, each with different songs, tempos, characters, objectives and difficulties that masterfully break up the would-be monotony. In one stage, the player is a mole-hurling gardener and then a Grover-esque turntablist in another. Ultimately, each mini-game varies from the next, making for a continually challenging game. The only potentially fatal flaw is that the stages can sometimes be too challenging. Simply passing many of the levels takes a great deal of patience and retries, which is problematic for the easily dejected, and getting a desperately sought-after âÄúsuperbâÄù takes hard work or preternatural skill. Luckily, an anonymous, omnipotent barista (for some reason) will step in and move struggling players on to the next stage should they really get stuck. But for poor souls congenitally lacking in the rhythm department, donâÄôt even bother; this is probably not the game for you. Difficulty aside, âÄúRhythm HeavenâÄù is a surprisingly engaging game. ItâÄôs quirky, original and actually stimulates your brain. In this post-apocalyptic world of reality TV and The Jonas Brothers , what more can you ask for?