The Simpsons have enjoyed cartoon cult status, over the past few years and with the BBC ready to start a complete run of the cartoon series, Simpsonsmania is about to resurface. Bart Simpson, your average, white, cheeky kid with a flat top from the US, has done much to cement the cartoon series, with his quippy one liners and his "Yo man!" catchphrase. He has also figured strongly in merchandising material. Walk into any Clintons card shop and you'll find him. It's no surprise then to see The Simpsons featuring in a computer game, although it's questionable whether The Simpsons Cartoon Studio should be classified as such.
"A package that gives you the chance to make your own Simpsons cartoons.
It's a brilliant idea," says Computer and Video Games. "It has a massive range of sound, animations and effects. This is definitely an application anyone, of any age will love. So much so, that you want to investigate real animation."
As a taster for real animation techniques this is probably a good bet.
As a package on its own, many reviewers express their reservations but still seem to have enjoyed it enough not to give it lousy scores. "The idea of spending u40 on a game, to create awful, second-rate Simpson rip-offs, may seem a little ludicrous," says PC Gamer, "but it really is very amusing." PC Format suggests that although enjoyable, "it's hard to construct any meaningful narrative."
That seems to be the problem with cartoon making packages. Something has to give to make what is, in effect, a cheap, themed animation software program. The same problem seems to befall Batman and Robin Cartoon Maker.
"It's a similar product to the Simpsons, but lacks the sparkle that makes the Simpsons such a joy to tinker with for hours on end," says PC Gamer.
"Clearly aimed at a younger audience, Batman and Robin makes it much easier to create a cartoon, but after a while, the lack of excitement, humour and variety in the characters makes it a much less rewarding experience than the Simpsons."
PC Format has its own suggestion for less rewarding experiences and it's called Orion Burger. "For all we care, Orion Burger could disappear up its own posterior." So, the reviewer didn't like it then? "It has every niggle you're ever likely to come across in a point and click adventure." While PC Format regretted ever opening the box, other reviews were not quite so damning, although it's pretty clear, this is no classic title.
"It's a great looking adventure," says Games Master, "but you can't seem to skip through conversations and the combination of a grating voice-over and puzzles that would tax a paid-up member of Mensa, drag it down from a respectable score to a completely average one."
PC Gamer suggests that point and click adventures are now games of the past and "it's time we moved on". This didn't stop the reviewer from thinking it's "large and affable enough", and "easily digestible fare", although he did add that there's "not much to get your teeth into." Computer and Video Games does suggest that it's "a very good point and click adventure," and adds "what makes it really appealing is its sharp style, clearly based on Hanna Barbera cartoons. What's more, it is funny." Sometimes a good game is in the eye of the beholder.
Mission Force: Cyberstorm does not seem to suffer from any wildly contrasting reviews and no one has expressed a wish to see it disappear up its own rear. PC Format says "it's a smooth, slick and satisfying strategy game for the large of brain." A hex-based strategy war game, Cyberstorm is nothing new, but what it does, it does well. "Cyberstorm is undeniably one of the finest games of its genre," adds PC Format. "It looks good, plays well and the audio is awesome," says PC Home. "If you're a Command & Conquer real-time person, you'll love the first ten hours of Cyberstorm but will gradually become dazed and confused," says PC Zone.
Sports sims are also known to be complex, especially in the controls, yet they seem to sell well. The John Madden series of American football sims from EA always find an audience. EA is expert at the genre and will always get a look-in. Madden NFL '97 continues the trend. "If you know the sport and understand it, you'll love Madden '97," says Play +, "it's certainly the best NFL game out there." Play + adds that "the game suffers quite fundamentally through the nature of the sport itself," but this is a cultural thing. Playstation Plus reckons that it's good enough to appeal "to players who aren't avid followers of American football," a view shared by Computer and Video Games. Sometimes sports sims can teach people more about certain sports but getting the unconverted to pick up the title in the first place is the difficult job. "The best game in the classic series for years, and one of the best 32bit sports games," says Computer and Video Games.
Like sports sims, there seems to be an almost endless market for racing games. Burning Road from Funsoft can be added to the lengthening list and according to Playstation Plus, deserves at least some respect from its rivals. "Visually, Burning Road is as good as Ridge Racer Revolution and features some cool effects such as the pouring rain and drifting snow, but it's the sheer speed that really impresses."
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