April 13, 2008
There comes a time in every gamer’s life when they find a game that they absolutely hate. Sometimes this happens after picking up a random game at a low price. Other times a prequel or news of a sequel can spark some interest. Due in part to both reasons, I have come across Fuzion Frenzy 2, a game I can safely say falls in a personal top 10 worst games I’ve played list.
Developer Hudson Soft is no newbie when it comes to making games. Founded in the 70s, Hudson has produced many cult-classics from the Bomberman series to the Mario Party series, and even a SWAT Kats game. Attempting to pull from the previous game (Fuzion Frenzy), Hudson ultimately failed in capturing its simplicity and charm. A sad outcome, seeing as the original was quite decent, judging from the fun demo included on the game of the year edition of Halo: Combat Evolved.
In a nutshell Fuzion Frenzy 2 is a collection of mini-games, most of which involve duking it out with opponents in order to either lower their health bar or to collect coins along the way. In addition to the fighting games, there are also a few reaction-based and racing ones. You’d think this is a decent variety, right? Wrong. While there are over 30 mini-games featured in FF2, a good bit have basically the same premise, only with a different setting or small tweak in the final goal. However in FF2’s defense, a few of the mini-games can be quite fun, making it slightly easier and even somewhat enjoyable to play through.
The main game mode in FF2 is Tournament Mode. Set as a galactic gameshow, each player goes through different mini-games in planets in order to conquer said planets. There are different scoring methods for each game, most revolving around last man standing or most coins/collectables. Each planet has its own set of mini-games, all themed around the respective element of the planet. Earth is very basic, being the closest to well-balanced style. Machina, as you may have guessed, is based around machine-type terrains, involving the use of robots for the majority of the mini-games. Other planets are themed around basic elements such as ice, water, and fire. Though even with all these seemingly different styles, a good bit of the games are, in essence, the same as other planetary games. After each of these mini-games, players are awarded points (10 for first place) depending on what place they get. These points are what decide the winner for each planet, so it is always best to get first place as often as possible.
Each round in Tournament Mode consists of four mini-games (chosen by the winner of the previous game), ending with a showdown type game, where all players fight to the death using various tools (Earth : fists/feet :: Machina : hammers). Prior to starting the Tournament, players choose a goal for winning, which is based on conquering planets. The first player to conquer the set amount, wins the tourney.
An interesting addition to this mode is a cards feature. Each player is handed out two to three cards at the beginning of the tournament, which can be used before rounds to boost scores and even change who picks the next game, regardless of the winner. The use of these cards can prove vital in winning, especially when playing against other humans.
The other modes included on the game are based around choosing the mini-games to play each time and setting different types of standards for winning. In some aspects these are fairly useless, as four people can just as easily play in Tournament Mode for some fun, which is much more efficient in deciding a winner.
FF2’s audio and video aspects are extremely poor, only looking good if compared to its predecessor. In these times of amazingly crisp high-def and Dolby Digital, it’s a shame that Hudson could only do so well with scratching the capabilities of today’s technology. The visuals are, for the most part, sharp and vibrant, yet the character models are poorly done. If Hudson could have done just one thing better with the characters, it would be to actually sync their mouthing motions to the dialog (though this is only a problem with the host of the gameshow, as he’s the only one who ever speaks).
Now we move into the audio. The aforementioned host is the worst aspect of the game, and that’s saying something. In-game, his repeated catch phrases combined with his apparent need to blurt something out every time he finishes a quip will turn 99% of players off after just a few minutes. Had the time between remarks been increased to at least 10 seconds it would be a much more tolerable experience, but the constant “How are you feeling Player 1? Ooh, not good Player 4. Player 2, you’d better pick up the pace,” could possibly make gamers regret investing in surround sound. The background music is almost enjoyable, yet is constantly overshadowed by the host.
After all this, even if you manage to take a liking to the game, there is no online community whatsoever. The few people that are online are only there to boost achievements and leave, so you’ll be on your own unless you can manage to find a friend/boosting partner to play the game with. And the odds of finding someone else who truly enjoys the game or even still has a copy of it are slim to none. Thankfully, “only” 325 points of the achievements are Live-based, so if you can manage to find a friend or two to stick around for around an hour, you’ll be through with it.
While on the topic, Fuzion Frenzy 2’s mega-easy achievement list is a double-edged sword. On one hand, the ease and quickness gets you in and out of the game with minimum torture and boosts the games rentals/sales a bit. On the other hand, there’s little replay value, if any, to be found during and after getting the achievements. What small charm found when first picking up the game is basically obliterated by the time you’ve done all the tasks required for the full 1000, and sometimes you’ll get sick of the game before you’re even finished. There are also major issues with the achievement list itself. Brevity in achievement gaining is one thing, but awarding a minimum of 25 points per achievement (the highest being 150) is pure madness. With 50 points being handed out on the 6 different character achievements, and 100 points on basically every other achievement, you’d think the developers scratched in achievements on their to-do list at the last possible second. There could have been much better planning and organization, and maybe even a bit more originality.
With basic background music, and a highly annoying gameshow host that sticks with re-hashed in-game comments, you’ll be much better off supplying your own sounds while you play through this.
Fuzion Frenzy 2 would have been great in this category, had this been an original Xbox release. The graphics are crisp and clean, however, with standards and capabilities set so much higher now-a-days, this game still stands mediocre in looks.
Thanks to a helpful try-before-you-play practice mode before each challenge, it’s much easier to start up a random game and get the hang of things before it’s show time. Unfortunately even with such help, the frustrating controls in a few of the mini-games are a real downfall.
Basic menus, an annoying announcer, and some frustrating controls, need I go on? To be blunt, Fuzion Frenzy 2 fails not at capturing an audience, but keeping said audience. You’ll be lucky to find anybody online playing this game for the fun and not to get the online achievements. At least Hudson Soft made an effort to provide fun, including a small selection of playable characters and enough mini-games so that you will at least find some comfort among the chaos.
Pathetically easy achievements and a poorly organized list make this game worse than it could have been. With all these (seemingly) different mini-games on the disc, how hard would it have been to come up with decent achievements? Dying five times on this game, winning this game a certain number of times, and even playing this game ten times would have been much better company on this list than the “Beat Tournament Mode with ___” and “Play _ mini-games” filling the game. A very bad move on the developer’s part and despite being the primary reason for buying this game, they contribute no replay value whatsoever as every achievement can be earned in less than a day with a little help from friends.
Fuzion Frenzy 2 is a bad attempt at improving its predecessor. Basically every aspect of this game is sub-par at best and without solid achievements to warrant any long play times, it’s only slightly worthy of a rental. You’ll have some fun for a little while, but once the announcer begins to get on your nerves, any hopes for an enjoyable experience go up in flames. If you’re interested in fun mini-games, pick up the original Fuzion Frenzy, as it’s much lower in price (due to being an original Xbox game), and from what experience I’ve had with it, it is much more enjoyable. However, this, Cars, and Open Season are all available in a three-pack for $30 (US only) for all your achievement whores and penny-pinchers.