May 15th, 2005 | Feature | GameCube | GB Advance | PlayStation 2 | PSP | Xbox
Crunk Games’ 2005 Public Apology
We've been trying to get this thing called a life lately, but it hasn't been working out. Might as well head back to the salt mines, eh?! We run down our year in gaming as best we can.

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Many (none) have written us, concerned; “Crunk Games isn’t updating anymore! Has my time spent sending handwritten love notes covered in lipstick kisses and perfume been in vain?!” The answer, Joel’s Mom, is no!

We’re here to assure you that despite having endured a rather hectic twelve months, we haven’t forgotten all the games that got us through our tough times and Senate hearings. With E3 looming large over our heads, we thought we’d take a moment to recap all the titles that we enjoyed over the past 12 months before obsessing over those yet to come.

In the interest of saving all involved some sanity, we’ve condensed our thoughts into individual capsule reviews (in chronological order!) for your perusement. It may not be the same as a couple dozen full length reviews, but it’s the only way we know how to say “our bad.”

Onimusha 3 (PS2)

Release: 4/7/04

When a problem comes along…

Samurai and demons are natural enemies in the wild, and nothing reinforces that more than Onimusha 3. What we didn’t know, however, is that the French also have a natural distaste for the demonically inclined! Demon slayer novice Jacque makes for more some cool environments and slightly more interesting play, but it’s still more of the same kill-demons-collect-orbs Onimusha gameplay. Whether or not that’s a bad thing depends on how you enjoyed (or didn’t enjoy) the first two games. Rating: O

Link no Bouken (GBA)

Release: 8/10/04

Boy, this fight is really draggin’!

Often branded as the worst of the non-CDi Zelda titles, Link no Bouken (or The Adventure of Link, as we knew it growing up) is actually the misunderstood genius of the Zelda family. The only problem is that North American release represents its better half; enhanced dungeon decor and a saner leveling system make for an overall more enjoyable experience. But hey, if you really like testing yourself, swearing under your breath, and dropping to your knees with a bellowing WHYYYYYYYYYY, then the Japanese version of this classic title may just be for you! Rating: ~

Astro Boy: Omega Factor (GBA)

Release: 8/18/04

Astro load

Can Treasure ever not bounce back from their last bad game?! Such is the question when you pop in the rollicking Astro Boy. It’s a charming story interlaid with bouts of bright, sprite-laden madness, with increasingly huge bosses, multiple pathways invoking pleasant repetition. And you don’t even have to know a thing about Astro Boy, which is just about the best thing any licensed game can do. Rating: O

Gradius V (PS2)

Release: 9/14/04

Clear Eyes is awesome

Somehow, 2D shooters are still going strong. While most of them these days are empty bullet-dodgers, Gradius V retains much of the charm, challenge and chomping-on-the-controller as the original games. Hand it to Treasure, who made a sort of homecoming by developing this. With multiple configurations for your, er, multiples and a simultaneous 2-player mode, you’ve got the best Gradius ever, one that doesn’t seem so out place among the rest of today’s titles. Rating: O

Guilty Gear X2 #Reload (XB)

Release: 9/14/04

I-No. Y’know?

As one of the kookiest present-day fighting games outside of the PC doujin scene, Guilty Gear’s popularity is somewhat confounding. However, solid gameplay rules all, and when tied with online play, it’s even better! (Too bad everyone started playing Street Fighter III, though.) Rating: O

Mawaru Made in Wario (GBA)

Release: 10/14/04

Minigames go interracial!

As much as this feature relies on our own tardiness for content, this mini-review proves ironically appropriate with the North American release of Wario Ware Twisted on the horizon. The sequel to one of the greatest GBA games ever made is worthy of its predecessor, delivering the same high levels of innovation and bizarreness care of a tilt sensor that doesn’t make the game feel gimmicky. And for the obsessive completists, tons of unlockables! Most of which are amusing for about five seconds! Hey, it’s still better than Touched. Rating: O

Dead or Alive Ultimate (XB)

Release: 10/26/04

C’mon, all your friends are doin’ it

Well, the graphics are awesome, the fighting smooth and responsive, it’s the closest thing to Virtua Fighter 4, online, on Xbox. Rating: O

The Nightmare of Druaga (PS2)

Release: 10/26/04

Between a rock and an ass-hard place

Roguelikes just can’t get a break. Shunned by all but the most hardcore-est of gamers, the Japanese take on the genre gets a special type of cold shoulder overseas. Color us confused, then, when most people can spend a fraction of their lives leveling up and rolling over every inch of, say, Star Ocean 3 but never give games like Druaga — which are just as mindless and challenging — the respect it deserves. We hate to sound evangelical (really!), but Druaga is just that compelling. Get it before it’s too late! Rating: O

Megaman X8 (PS2)

Release: 12/7/04

Thankfully Axl’s whine circuits were removed

Like a junkie out of rehab, the Megaman X series returned refreshed — a bit hazy, perhaps, not exactly the same as the old days, but once again fun to hang with. Sure, the plot is still a mess of unneeded crap, but the graphics and control actually do the impossible and restore faith in the series. If you stopped at X4, well, it’s time to say hi to an old friend. Rating: O

Resident Evil 4 (GC)

Release: 1/11/05

Spanish for “The Gigante”

With zombie hate crimes up 800% in the past ten years, Capcom had to scramble to assemble a replacement baddie for this survival horror staple. Enter the Ganado, zombie-like Spaniards who turn out to be even more adept at fervorously harassing former Raccoon City law enforcement officials. Capcom was also feeling generous enough to give the series a total visual and mechanical overhaul, resulting in one of the best looking and playing games on the Cube. The story and dialogue are still mostly just as mindless as the action, but were you playing for those anyway?! Rating: O

Zoo Keeper (DS)

Release: 1/18/05

More exciting than the bottom screen

Every good portable needs a good puzzle game, but Zoo Keeper is only good enough. The Bejewled-ish gameplay is addicting, but when that starts to wear out, the bone dry visuals and horrible ear-pricking music come into prominence. Believe it or not, the import GBA version (ZOOO) turns out to be superior in all of those qualities, even without mouselike precision. At this point in the early life of the DS, there’s better options out there, or will be soon. Rating: X

WarioWare Touched! (DS)

Release: 2/14/05

Stylus and move

WarioWare, touch screen — sounds awesome on paper. And Touched! is pretty sweet, but something just doesn’t feel right after playing the original and Twisted. The minigames are inventive and worth playing for sure, but the presentation seems to lack a certain polish, and the goofy non-games in the toy room don’t help things. Still, it’s far from failure and should certainly be one of your first DS games. For $30 or less. Rating: O

Yoshi Touch & Go (DS)

Release: 3/14/05

Like Run Lola Run but no German techno

Yoshi returns to the spotlight in a simplified take on Yoshi’s Island. Simplified in gameplay, but not replay — while it’s essentially an old-style arcade game, we’ll be damned if we didn’t keep trying to make the one small adjustment to bump our scores up ever higher. However, like most arcade games, a new one is always on the way, and frankly this will last you for less time than WarioWare. At least Yoshi’s Story had more than 5 levels. Rating: ~

Lumines (PSP)

Release: 3/24/05


As said before, every good portable needs a good puzzle game, and right out of the gate the PSP nails it. Lumines grabs you instantly with the first stage’s BGM, synching perfectly with the background skin, and continues its hold for what seems like all day. The horizontal playfield stresses you to think “outside the well” of every other puzzler, all the while assaulting you with a candystand variety of electronica. It won’t take you to synaesthesia like Mizuguchi’s previous classic, but it will tune you out of daily life for a good couple of hours. Rating: O

Wipeout Pure (PSP)

Release: 3/24/05

Follow that blue thing!

Boost, sway left, sway right, fire missiles — so simple. Wipeout Pure lives up to its name, just keeping the action fast, frustrating and pretty. Having to repeat the tracks so often just to get through the cups can be grating, but the exhilirating Zone mode is standing by to give you a bit of a break. Couple that with multiplayer and a web browser that’s easily hackable and you’ve got a premier showcase game for your little black marvel. Rating: O

Metal Gear Acid (PSP)

Release: 3/24/05

Snake’s VR Pokemon card training pays off

While most folks heard this was a “card game” and inexplicably went running for the hills, those of us with our heads still on actually read up and decided to give it a chance. The big question: does Metal Gear fit into this type of game? The answer: who cares? It’s an alternate-universe story, and you could make almost any game turn-based if you thought hard enough. More to the point: Acid is screwball, but if you like MG games as games rather than a series, you will be caught off guard. However, portable strat games are always welcome, and with an attractive franchise attached, it sticks. Just be gracious towards the iffy localization.
Rating: O

Ridge Racer (PSP)

Release: 3/24/05

So much speed, you’ll think you’re on speed!

It’s not as hyperfuturistic as Wipeout, but to some degree Ridge Racer tends to play faster, despite the fact it runs 30 frames greater than Pure. But like Sony’s game, repetition is the name of the game, and it’s greater here when your only track selections are from all the past Ridge games. Still, to those of us who haven’t played all of those (Rave Racer in particular), Ridge Racer is a thrilling ride, and again a great showcase title. Rating: O

Mario Party Advance (GBA)

Release: 3/28/05

Bored game lol

Wow, Mario Party on the go! Crazy insane games with me and my buddies in the car or on the train or in the toilet! Almost. Yes, while Mario Party is usually synonymous with 4-player fun, MPA is actually a single-player experience. It allows up to 2 people, but worse yet, none of the multiplayer takes place on a board, instead in minigame duels. A half-assed 4-player game can be played using the included paper “Bonus Board,” which will challenge you with its delightful scissors play. Rating: ~

Doom 3 (XB)

Release: 4/5/05

Mildew + gamma = no

While Resident Evil 4 takes on a more action-packed experience similar to an FPS, Doom 3 goes the other way, approaching a more genuine horror feel with lots of shadows, distracting sound effects and monsters leaping at your face right before you know it. Sure, the first time through it’s basically a gauntlet of scripted events, but it’s an unforgettable first time. Plus, co-op is a blast, and the limited edition’s inclusion of the original Dooms complete with 4P splitscreen just make a great thing awesome. Rating: O

And we’re out! That’s about all we have time for with E3 hitting next week, but be sure to check out our E3 blog at 1UP. Join us again next month to find out if we get our shit together!

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