According to ESRB, this game contains: Violence

Parents might be wary of Full Auto's Teen rating, but they probably shouldn't be. Yes, this is a game about driving like a maniac while shooting the crap out of every other car on the road, but if your kid thinks this is realistic or even remotely acceptable behavior, he has bigger problems than you worrying about what games he should be playing.

Casual gamers are certainly the demographic Sega aimed for with this release. The game is easy to pick up, play, and set aside. It features a difficulty level that is, for the most part, non-existent. Only the last few series of races provide genuine challenge, and it's doubtful that most casual gamers will ever get to them before another game comes along and captures their attention.

Hardcore gamers may find the whole experience a little shallow and way too easy, but this is really a good game for when you want to take a break from your more involved title. Pissed off at Oblivion's Daedra killing you for a tenth time? Pop in Full Auto and let off some steam before heading back to Tamriel. It's a simple game, but even simple things can be fun.

Deaf and Hard of Hearing Gamers have little to be concerned about in this title. There's no voice acting at all—each race starts with a screen featuring the objectives of the race, presented in full text. You'll miss out on the roaring engines and the music, but you're not missing much.

Mike Bracken

Mike Bracken

Mike Bracken is a 43-year-old writer and bohemian living in Florida with a mountain of movies, books, and video games.

A film critic by trade, specializing in Euro-horror, cult exploitation, and Asian action cinema, Mike has written reviews for a diverse group of print and online publications. He covers horror news, movies, books, and games at TheHorrorGeek.com and Horrorsquad.com and spent two seasons as The Horror Geek on Comedy Central's pop-culture game show, Beat the Geeks.

Mike's childhood was spent playing videogames any time he got a chance. His parents had a Pong console and his grandmother had an Atari 2600, where Mike cultivated his skills by playing hour upon hour of games like Space Invaders, Berserk, and Asteroids. From those early experiences Mike learned one thing: he loved games.

In 1999, Mike became a staff reviewer at Cinescape Magazine's website where he spent a year learning the craft of game criticism. After internal changes led to Mike leaving Cinescape in late 2000, he joined up with RPGFan in 2001 and spent several years writing reviews for them. Happy, but looking for an opportunity to expound on a wider variety of titles, Mike joined GameCritics.com and hopes to help Chi, Dale, and the rest of the GC staff bring a higher level of respect to the field of game criticism.
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According to ESRB, this game contains: Blood, Violence, Sexual Themes, Partial Nudity

Parents will want to note that this game has received a Mature rating, and has essentially earned it. Scantily clad women, bouncing breasts, cheesecake cutscenes with some "almost nudity coupled with the violence and blood makes for a not-so-kid-friendly game. Honestly, though, it's not that the game is so 'over the edge' in terms of material—it's just so cheesy that it would embarrass your kids to see it with you in the room and vice versa. All of which brings us to another question—at this point in the series, why are Team Ninja still playing coy with these characters? They got the M rating and have gone as close to showing their voluptuous fighting babes in the nude as they can without actually doing it…so why not just do it already?

Hardcore fighting fans have long looked down on the Dead or Alive franchise for lacking any sort of depth in terms of the combat. While fighting in this installment is still counter-heavy, there's a lot of tweaking that's been done to the engine. Button mashers can still play, but skilled opponents actually have an advantage this time around.

Casual gamers have always been drawn to the pretty graphics (and no doubt the bouncing breasts) and that won't change with this outing. What is changing is the level of accessibility. It doesn't take long before the computer AI starts punishing players who simply smash buttons with no clue as to what they're doing. Add in a really cheap last boss in most of the story mode matches, and this is the most challenging game in the series to date—and one that could be a little too hard for anyone just wanting to pick up a controller and mash the buttons for a few minutes.

Deaf and Hard of Hearing gamers have nothing to worry about—the game is fully subtitled. Of course, no one ever says anything worth reading anyway, but that's beside the point.

Mike Bracken

Mike Bracken

Mike Bracken is a 43-year-old writer and bohemian living in Florida with a mountain of movies, books, and video games.

A film critic by trade, specializing in Euro-horror, cult exploitation, and Asian action cinema, Mike has written reviews for a diverse group of print and online publications. He covers horror news, movies, books, and games at TheHorrorGeek.com and Horrorsquad.com and spent two seasons as The Horror Geek on Comedy Central's pop-culture game show, Beat the Geeks.

Mike's childhood was spent playing videogames any time he got a chance. His parents had a Pong console and his grandmother had an Atari 2600, where Mike cultivated his skills by playing hour upon hour of games like Space Invaders, Berserk, and Asteroids. From those early experiences Mike learned one thing: he loved games.

In 1999, Mike became a staff reviewer at Cinescape Magazine's website where he spent a year learning the craft of game criticism. After internal changes led to Mike leaving Cinescape in late 2000, he joined up with RPGFan in 2001 and spent several years writing reviews for them. Happy, but looking for an opportunity to expound on a wider variety of titles, Mike joined GameCritics.com and hopes to help Chi, Dale, and the rest of the GC staff bring a higher level of respect to the field of game criticism.
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According to ESRB, this game contains: Blood and Gore, Language, Sexual Themes, Use of Alcohol, Violence

Parents might be put off on picking this up for the kids based on the T rating. However, the rating once again mostly errs on the side of caution. Sure, this game has some blood, some cursing, and violence, but it's not anything that stands out from about a million other games on the shelf. A more worthy consideration is that the game can be daunting with all the things there are to do and see. Kids with short attention spans will give up on Oblivion pretty quickly.  

Hardcore RPG fans will want to make sure they experience this, either on the 360 or the PC. Oblivion has all the ear-markings of becoming one of the classic games of the genre—a title that anyone who seriously fancies themselves a connoisseur of role-playing games needs to have played. It's deep, it's challenging, and it offers almost as many quests and missions as your standard MMO.

Casual gamers should spend some time with the game as well. While it requires a certain amount of dedication to see and do everything in Tamriel, it's the journey and not the destination that truly matters in this experience. Getting to the end of Oblivion is an accomplishment, but the trip that leads in that direction (even if it never actually makes it to the end of the game) is a heck of a lot of fun.

Deaf and Hard of Hearing gamers will be happy to note that while there's a ton of great voice acting, the game is also fully subtitled.

Mike Bracken

Mike Bracken

Mike Bracken is a 43-year-old writer and bohemian living in Florida with a mountain of movies, books, and video games.

A film critic by trade, specializing in Euro-horror, cult exploitation, and Asian action cinema, Mike has written reviews for a diverse group of print and online publications. He covers horror news, movies, books, and games at TheHorrorGeek.com and Horrorsquad.com and spent two seasons as The Horror Geek on Comedy Central's pop-culture game show, Beat the Geeks.

Mike's childhood was spent playing videogames any time he got a chance. His parents had a Pong console and his grandmother had an Atari 2600, where Mike cultivated his skills by playing hour upon hour of games like Space Invaders, Berserk, and Asteroids. From those early experiences Mike learned one thing: he loved games.

In 1999, Mike became a staff reviewer at Cinescape Magazine's website where he spent a year learning the craft of game criticism. After internal changes led to Mike leaving Cinescape in late 2000, he joined up with RPGFan in 2001 and spent several years writing reviews for them. Happy, but looking for an opportunity to expound on a wider variety of titles, Mike joined GameCritics.com and hopes to help Chi, Dale, and the rest of the GC staff bring a higher level of respect to the field of game criticism.
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According to ESRB, this game contains: Animated Blood, Violence

Parents might be put off by the game's Teen rating, but there's really nothing all that troublesome in this game. Yes, there's fighting and some spilled blood, but it's not gory or gratuitous. Once again, the ESRB errs on the side of caution in giving out a rating.

Hardcore Rare fans will probably enjoy this more than the average gamer. It has all the hallmarks of a Rare title from the late N64 era—a bazillion collectables, cute characters (almost too cute) and a whimsical tone. That being said, it's not really any different from about ten other Rare titles. It's pretty, but the gameplay isn't particularly deep or fun.

Casual gamers will like the short length and the fact that Kameo is a game that can be picked up, played for a brief spell, then put down again. The control scheme might be a turn off, though.

Deaf and Hard of Hearing gamers will want to note that there are no subtitles during the cutscenes, nor could I find a way to turn them on in the options menu.

Mike Bracken

Mike Bracken

Mike Bracken is a 43-year-old writer and bohemian living in Florida with a mountain of movies, books, and video games.

A film critic by trade, specializing in Euro-horror, cult exploitation, and Asian action cinema, Mike has written reviews for a diverse group of print and online publications. He covers horror news, movies, books, and games at TheHorrorGeek.com and Horrorsquad.com and spent two seasons as The Horror Geek on Comedy Central's pop-culture game show, Beat the Geeks.

Mike's childhood was spent playing videogames any time he got a chance. His parents had a Pong console and his grandmother had an Atari 2600, where Mike cultivated his skills by playing hour upon hour of games like Space Invaders, Berserk, and Asteroids. From those early experiences Mike learned one thing: he loved games.

In 1999, Mike became a staff reviewer at Cinescape Magazine's website where he spent a year learning the craft of game criticism. After internal changes led to Mike leaving Cinescape in late 2000, he joined up with RPGFan in 2001 and spent several years writing reviews for them. Happy, but looking for an opportunity to expound on a wider variety of titles, Mike joined GameCritics.com and hopes to help Chi, Dale, and the rest of the GC staff bring a higher level of respect to the field of game criticism.
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According to ESRB, this game contains: Blood, Language, Violence

Parents who have younger kids will want to consider the M rating on this title before picking it up for the little ones. There is blood, it is violent, and there is a fair amount of language on display.

Hardcore FPS fans will undoubtedly want to take PD0 for a spin, but this is a rent as opposed to buy title unless you're a person who loves to play on Xbox Live. The online component is solid, but the solo player experience is sorely lacking.

Casual gamers will probably enjoy this more than the hardcore crowd since the lack of innovation won't be such a major disappointment. That being said, even casual gamers with low expectations will find the single player mode sorely lacking.

Deaf and Hard of Hearing gamers will find the experienced a mixed bag. The mission briefings all feature subtitles for the dialogue. Unfortunately, in-game conversation doesn't—so vital information will be missed for those with impaired hearing.

Mike Bracken

Mike Bracken

Mike Bracken is a 43-year-old writer and bohemian living in Florida with a mountain of movies, books, and video games.

A film critic by trade, specializing in Euro-horror, cult exploitation, and Asian action cinema, Mike has written reviews for a diverse group of print and online publications. He covers horror news, movies, books, and games at TheHorrorGeek.com and Horrorsquad.com and spent two seasons as The Horror Geek on Comedy Central's pop-culture game show, Beat the Geeks.

Mike's childhood was spent playing videogames any time he got a chance. His parents had a Pong console and his grandmother had an Atari 2600, where Mike cultivated his skills by playing hour upon hour of games like Space Invaders, Berserk, and Asteroids. From those early experiences Mike learned one thing: he loved games.

In 1999, Mike became a staff reviewer at Cinescape Magazine's website where he spent a year learning the craft of game criticism. After internal changes led to Mike leaving Cinescape in late 2000, he joined up with RPGFan in 2001 and spent several years writing reviews for them. Happy, but looking for an opportunity to expound on a wider variety of titles, Mike joined GameCritics.com and hopes to help Chi, Dale, and the rest of the GC staff bring a higher level of respect to the field of game criticism.
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Parents will find nothing objectionable about Ridge Racer 6—except that maybe the fact that cars take no damage is unrealistic and could convince little Timmy that battering his way through traffic later in life is a viable approach to the morning commute.

Casual Gamers seem to be the title's target audience. The arcade-styled racing is simple and easy to pick up and play (and doesn't require a ton of effort to master). The game features a lot of cars and tracks to unlock, but the challenge is often low enough that pretty much anyone can complete the various objectives with a few tries. Veterans of games like Gran Turismo will undoubtedly be disappointed by the lack of challenge (and realism) in this title.  

Hardcore gamers will probably find that Project Gotham Racing 3 or Need for Speed: Most Wanted do more to fulfill their racing game needs. Ridge Racer 6 just doesn't sport enough depth to keep serious racing enthusiasts at the joystick for hours on end.

Deaf and Hard of Hearing gamers should note that the game has no real subtitle system, but that's not much of an issue since this is a racing game.

Mike Bracken

Mike Bracken

Mike Bracken is a 43-year-old writer and bohemian living in Florida with a mountain of movies, books, and video games.

A film critic by trade, specializing in Euro-horror, cult exploitation, and Asian action cinema, Mike has written reviews for a diverse group of print and online publications. He covers horror news, movies, books, and games at TheHorrorGeek.com and Horrorsquad.com and spent two seasons as The Horror Geek on Comedy Central's pop-culture game show, Beat the Geeks.

Mike's childhood was spent playing videogames any time he got a chance. His parents had a Pong console and his grandmother had an Atari 2600, where Mike cultivated his skills by playing hour upon hour of games like Space Invaders, Berserk, and Asteroids. From those early experiences Mike learned one thing: he loved games.

In 1999, Mike became a staff reviewer at Cinescape Magazine's website where he spent a year learning the craft of game criticism. After internal changes led to Mike leaving Cinescape in late 2000, he joined up with RPGFan in 2001 and spent several years writing reviews for them. Happy, but looking for an opportunity to expound on a wider variety of titles, Mike joined GameCritics.com and hopes to help Chi, Dale, and the rest of the GC staff bring a higher level of respect to the field of game criticism.
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According to ESRB, this game contains: Blood, Violence

Parents will undoubtedly notice that King Kong has garnered a Teen rating—not unlike the film that inspired it. There is a bit of blood and violence on display, but if the kids saw the movie, there's nothing in the game that they haven't already seen.

Fans of the film might want to check the game out since it looks a lot like the movie. Skull Island is a vibrant and lovely place, but unfortunately, players never get off the main path.  

Casual gamers will find this to be a short game even by casual gamer standards. However, those that really love the movie, might think it's worth adding to their game library.

Deaf and Hard of Hearing gamers should have no fear as the game comes with the option of full subtitles.

Mike Bracken

Mike Bracken

Mike Bracken is a 43-year-old writer and bohemian living in Florida with a mountain of movies, books, and video games.

A film critic by trade, specializing in Euro-horror, cult exploitation, and Asian action cinema, Mike has written reviews for a diverse group of print and online publications. He covers horror news, movies, books, and games at TheHorrorGeek.com and Horrorsquad.com and spent two seasons as The Horror Geek on Comedy Central's pop-culture game show, Beat the Geeks.

Mike's childhood was spent playing videogames any time he got a chance. His parents had a Pong console and his grandmother had an Atari 2600, where Mike cultivated his skills by playing hour upon hour of games like Space Invaders, Berserk, and Asteroids. From those early experiences Mike learned one thing: he loved games.

In 1999, Mike became a staff reviewer at Cinescape Magazine's website where he spent a year learning the craft of game criticism. After internal changes led to Mike leaving Cinescape in late 2000, he joined up with RPGFan in 2001 and spent several years writing reviews for them. Happy, but looking for an opportunity to expound on a wider variety of titles, Mike joined GameCritics.com and hopes to help Chi, Dale, and the rest of the GC staff bring a higher level of respect to the field of game criticism.
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According to ESRB, this game contains: Fantasy Violence, Mild Language, Suggestive Themes

Parents will notice that Shining Force Neo has earned a Teen rating, but I'd be hard pressed to tell them why. Yes, there's some mild language, but I'm pretty much at a loss as to where the "suggestive themes" were in the game. The violence is pretty innocuous as well—there's no blood or gore anywhere in the game.

Shining Force fans will be disappointed to learn that this isn't a traditional Shining Force title. However, once the initial anger passes, there's a really good hack-and-slash game here that should please anyone who spent months of their life playing Diablo. Granted, this game isn't as deep as Diablo, but it does have that same addictive quality that will keep gamers coming back for more.

Casual Gamers will no doubt love the simplicity of the game, which truly is a "pick-up-and-play" experience, but the length of the game (nearly 60 hours by the time all the side dungeons are beaten) might be too much for people with a limited amount of time to sit on the couch.

Deaf and Hard of Hearing gamers are lucky in that they won't have to listen to the insipid voice acting featured in the game, nor the endlessly repeated battle phrases. On the downside, the CG sequences don't feature any subtitles, so the hearing impaired will be missing out on story elements during the few times those sequences turn up in the narrative. Fortunately, there aren't many of these sequences in the game.

Mike Bracken

Mike Bracken

Mike Bracken is a 43-year-old writer and bohemian living in Florida with a mountain of movies, books, and video games.

A film critic by trade, specializing in Euro-horror, cult exploitation, and Asian action cinema, Mike has written reviews for a diverse group of print and online publications. He covers horror news, movies, books, and games at TheHorrorGeek.com and Horrorsquad.com and spent two seasons as The Horror Geek on Comedy Central's pop-culture game show, Beat the Geeks.

Mike's childhood was spent playing videogames any time he got a chance. His parents had a Pong console and his grandmother had an Atari 2600, where Mike cultivated his skills by playing hour upon hour of games like Space Invaders, Berserk, and Asteroids. From those early experiences Mike learned one thing: he loved games.

In 1999, Mike became a staff reviewer at Cinescape Magazine's website where he spent a year learning the craft of game criticism. After internal changes led to Mike leaving Cinescape in late 2000, he joined up with RPGFan in 2001 and spent several years writing reviews for them. Happy, but looking for an opportunity to expound on a wider variety of titles, Mike joined GameCritics.com and hopes to help Chi, Dale, and the rest of the GC staff bring a higher level of respect to the field of game criticism.
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According to ESRB, this game contains: Blood and Gore, Violence

Parents will want to take Genji's Mature rating into consideration. There is a fair amount of blood and guts in the game and if you're sensitive to that sort of thing, this is probably a game to skip. It's not GTA, but there is a lot of hacking and slashing going on.

Onimusha fans will definitely want to check this title out—the similarities to the Onimusha franchise are well documented, but gamers who couldn't get enough of the three installments of that series will fall in love with this game.

Casual gamers will also find a lot to enjoy in Genji. The short play time ensures that this is a game that any gamer on a schedule can still beat and the gentle difficulty curve provides constant challenge without ever becoming frustrating.

Deaf and Hard of Hearing gamers will miss out on Genji's gorgeous Japanese music, but since the dialogue is all in Japanese, everything is fully subtitled.

Mike Bracken

Mike Bracken

Mike Bracken is a 43-year-old writer and bohemian living in Florida with a mountain of movies, books, and video games.

A film critic by trade, specializing in Euro-horror, cult exploitation, and Asian action cinema, Mike has written reviews for a diverse group of print and online publications. He covers horror news, movies, books, and games at TheHorrorGeek.com and Horrorsquad.com and spent two seasons as The Horror Geek on Comedy Central's pop-culture game show, Beat the Geeks.

Mike's childhood was spent playing videogames any time he got a chance. His parents had a Pong console and his grandmother had an Atari 2600, where Mike cultivated his skills by playing hour upon hour of games like Space Invaders, Berserk, and Asteroids. From those early experiences Mike learned one thing: he loved games.

In 1999, Mike became a staff reviewer at Cinescape Magazine's website where he spent a year learning the craft of game criticism. After internal changes led to Mike leaving Cinescape in late 2000, he joined up with RPGFan in 2001 and spent several years writing reviews for them. Happy, but looking for an opportunity to expound on a wider variety of titles, Mike joined GameCritics.com and hopes to help Chi, Dale, and the rest of the GC staff bring a higher level of respect to the field of game criticism.
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According to ESRB, this game contains: Suggestive Themes, Violence

Parents might have some concerns over the game's T rating, but again I find this one of those instances where the ESRB has erred on the side of conservatism. If there's any reason to keep younger gamers from popping Stella Deus in the PS2, it's that the game can be slow and difficult, and not that it has much in the way of objectionable material.

Strategy RPG Fans will buy and play this regardless of what the review says. Despite the problems, Stella Deus is still worth not only playing, but owning if you're a gamer into the whole "fantasy chess" thing. Besides, this is an Atlus game, which means in a year from now it will be impossible to find, and fetching obscene prices on eBay.

Casual gamers aren't likely to enjoy this game. It's slow and methodical, and the amount of depth is sure to intimidate anyone who can't sit down and sink hours at a time into the title. This is, quite honestly, the antithesis of a casual game.

Deaf and Hard of Hearing gamers will miss out on the title's music, but all the dialogue (including the passages that feature some of the most horrific voice acting I've heard in awhile) features full subtitles.

Mike Bracken

Mike Bracken

Mike Bracken is a 43-year-old writer and bohemian living in Florida with a mountain of movies, books, and video games.

A film critic by trade, specializing in Euro-horror, cult exploitation, and Asian action cinema, Mike has written reviews for a diverse group of print and online publications. He covers horror news, movies, books, and games at TheHorrorGeek.com and Horrorsquad.com and spent two seasons as The Horror Geek on Comedy Central's pop-culture game show, Beat the Geeks.

Mike's childhood was spent playing videogames any time he got a chance. His parents had a Pong console and his grandmother had an Atari 2600, where Mike cultivated his skills by playing hour upon hour of games like Space Invaders, Berserk, and Asteroids. From those early experiences Mike learned one thing: he loved games.

In 1999, Mike became a staff reviewer at Cinescape Magazine's website where he spent a year learning the craft of game criticism. After internal changes led to Mike leaving Cinescape in late 2000, he joined up with RPGFan in 2001 and spent several years writing reviews for them. Happy, but looking for an opportunity to expound on a wider variety of titles, Mike joined GameCritics.com and hopes to help Chi, Dale, and the rest of the GC staff bring a higher level of respect to the field of game criticism.
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According to ESRB, this game contains: Blood and Gore, Violence

Parents will undoubtedly notice that this game has earned a Teen rating for blood and gore, but I have to wonder if the ratings board played the same game I did. Yes, there is some blood, but it's not really human blood. It's robot blood mostly. As far as violence goes, this game isn't particularly memorable for its carnage. Players hack up robots with swords—I guess that's violent. At any rate, this is one of the Teen games that could be played by a younger gamer.

Fans of the original Brave Fencer Musashi will most likely be disappointed. This game just isn't as fun as that cult favorite, nor does it have the same quirky sense of humor that made the original game so memorable. This is like Brave Fencer Musashi—with all the cool stuff sucked out of it.

Casual gamers may find something to like about the game, but even then most of the negatives will outweigh the positives as they advance. This isn't a bad game, just a bland one. You don't have to play a hundred games a month to see that.

Deaf and Hard of Hearing gamers can enjoy Musashi thanks to full subtitling throughout. They'll miss out on the music (which may be the game's one saving grace), but they'll also not have to endure the horrific voice-acting. That's a trade I'd take any day.

Mike Bracken

Mike Bracken

Mike Bracken is a 43-year-old writer and bohemian living in Florida with a mountain of movies, books, and video games.

A film critic by trade, specializing in Euro-horror, cult exploitation, and Asian action cinema, Mike has written reviews for a diverse group of print and online publications. He covers horror news, movies, books, and games at TheHorrorGeek.com and Horrorsquad.com and spent two seasons as The Horror Geek on Comedy Central's pop-culture game show, Beat the Geeks.

Mike's childhood was spent playing videogames any time he got a chance. His parents had a Pong console and his grandmother had an Atari 2600, where Mike cultivated his skills by playing hour upon hour of games like Space Invaders, Berserk, and Asteroids. From those early experiences Mike learned one thing: he loved games.

In 1999, Mike became a staff reviewer at Cinescape Magazine's website where he spent a year learning the craft of game criticism. After internal changes led to Mike leaving Cinescape in late 2000, he joined up with RPGFan in 2001 and spent several years writing reviews for them. Happy, but looking for an opportunity to expound on a wider variety of titles, Mike joined GameCritics.com and hopes to help Chi, Dale, and the rest of the GC staff bring a higher level of respect to the field of game criticism.
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According to ESRB, this game contains: Violence

Parents should take note of the Teen rating, but if your kids saw the movie, then there's really nothing in the game to worry about. Of course, why you'd want to buy your kids a game this mediocre is another issue entirely.

Hack-and-slash fans will want to buy something else. The controls are weak and the combat is tedious (not to mention the camera issues and the lack of save points), making this one to pass over completely. Pick up something like Champions: Return to Arms instead.

Casual gamers may get a thrill out of seeing the movie adapted into videogame form (or for that extra chance to ogle Keira Knightley) but that will soon wear off once the tedium of the gameplay and the design flaws start showing up (which happens about five minutes into the first mission;conversely, players will have to wait a few hours to see that the low-polygon Keira Knightley model in the game isn't anything to get excited about).

Deaf and Hard of Hearing gamers will be happy to know that the game is fully subtitled (from the options menu). The nice thing about this is that it even subtitles the cinematic bits from the original film as well as everything related to the game itself.

Mike Bracken

Mike Bracken

Mike Bracken is a 43-year-old writer and bohemian living in Florida with a mountain of movies, books, and video games.

A film critic by trade, specializing in Euro-horror, cult exploitation, and Asian action cinema, Mike has written reviews for a diverse group of print and online publications. He covers horror news, movies, books, and games at TheHorrorGeek.com and Horrorsquad.com and spent two seasons as The Horror Geek on Comedy Central's pop-culture game show, Beat the Geeks.

Mike's childhood was spent playing videogames any time he got a chance. His parents had a Pong console and his grandmother had an Atari 2600, where Mike cultivated his skills by playing hour upon hour of games like Space Invaders, Berserk, and Asteroids. From those early experiences Mike learned one thing: he loved games.

In 1999, Mike became a staff reviewer at Cinescape Magazine's website where he spent a year learning the craft of game criticism. After internal changes led to Mike leaving Cinescape in late 2000, he joined up with RPGFan in 2001 and spent several years writing reviews for them. Happy, but looking for an opportunity to expound on a wider variety of titles, Mike joined GameCritics.com and hopes to help Chi, Dale, and the rest of the GC staff bring a higher level of respect to the field of game criticism.
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According to ESRB, this game contains: Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Language, Sexual Themes

Parents will want to pay close heed to the M rating. Digital Devil Saga isn't a game for youngsters. There's the whole cannibalism element, lots of blood, some swearing, and more—plus, the story is pretty complex as well. It's really something more for adults/mature teens than the younger gamer crowd.

Hardcore RPG fans have found a game worthy of their love. This is a deep, complex, and involving RPG that breaks from the mold of the genre in ways too numerous to mention. They don't make many games like this one, and I've no doubt that in a few years people will look back at this as one of the defining role-playing games of this generation.

Casual gamers will no doubt be put off by the high random encounter rate, learning curve, and abundance of dungeon crawling. Those who stick with it will be rewarded with an engaging game experience—but make no mistake, this is a game that tends to appeal to a mostly niche audience. That being said, this is the most accessible MegaTen game I've played and makes a fine starting point for anyone curious about this franchise.

Deaf and Hard of Hearing gamers will miss out on the great music and the mostly excellent voice acting, but the game is still accessible thanks to full subtitles.

Mike Bracken

Mike Bracken

Mike Bracken is a 43-year-old writer and bohemian living in Florida with a mountain of movies, books, and video games.

A film critic by trade, specializing in Euro-horror, cult exploitation, and Asian action cinema, Mike has written reviews for a diverse group of print and online publications. He covers horror news, movies, books, and games at TheHorrorGeek.com and Horrorsquad.com and spent two seasons as The Horror Geek on Comedy Central's pop-culture game show, Beat the Geeks.

Mike's childhood was spent playing videogames any time he got a chance. His parents had a Pong console and his grandmother had an Atari 2600, where Mike cultivated his skills by playing hour upon hour of games like Space Invaders, Berserk, and Asteroids. From those early experiences Mike learned one thing: he loved games.

In 1999, Mike became a staff reviewer at Cinescape Magazine's website where he spent a year learning the craft of game criticism. After internal changes led to Mike leaving Cinescape in late 2000, he joined up with RPGFan in 2001 and spent several years writing reviews for them. Happy, but looking for an opportunity to expound on a wider variety of titles, Mike joined GameCritics.com and hopes to help Chi, Dale, and the rest of the GC staff bring a higher level of respect to the field of game criticism.
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According to ESRB, this game contains: Blood, Mild Language, Suggestive Themes, Mild Violence

Parents might be put off by the Teen rating, but honestly, there's not much to get offended over in this title. There's one scantily-clad female character (who's barely in the game) and most of the cursing is censored out anyway.

Fans of the anime would probably have more fun just watching the show. From what I understand this title doesn't follow the anime's plotline in any significant way, making it more of a sidestory. This would be cool if the game were good, but the only reason to really play the game is if you're a huge fan of Ed and Al—and even then, there aren't enough anime cutscenes and voiced dialogue to really make it worthwhile.

Casual gamers will most likely love this title at first, but soon realize that it's shown all its tricks in the first area and that the rest of the game is simply more of the same. This might be okay if the game is played in small doses, but most gamers will get bored of the repetitive gameplay long before the end credits.

Deaf and Hard of Hearing gamers will be disappointed. While most of the game features plain text, the major story scenes–which are done in animation—feature no subtitles, meaning that anyone who can't hear the action will be missing out on huge parts of the game's plot.

Mike Bracken

Mike Bracken

Mike Bracken is a 43-year-old writer and bohemian living in Florida with a mountain of movies, books, and video games.

A film critic by trade, specializing in Euro-horror, cult exploitation, and Asian action cinema, Mike has written reviews for a diverse group of print and online publications. He covers horror news, movies, books, and games at TheHorrorGeek.com and Horrorsquad.com and spent two seasons as The Horror Geek on Comedy Central's pop-culture game show, Beat the Geeks.

Mike's childhood was spent playing videogames any time he got a chance. His parents had a Pong console and his grandmother had an Atari 2600, where Mike cultivated his skills by playing hour upon hour of games like Space Invaders, Berserk, and Asteroids. From those early experiences Mike learned one thing: he loved games.

In 1999, Mike became a staff reviewer at Cinescape Magazine's website where he spent a year learning the craft of game criticism. After internal changes led to Mike leaving Cinescape in late 2000, he joined up with RPGFan in 2001 and spent several years writing reviews for them. Happy, but looking for an opportunity to expound on a wider variety of titles, Mike joined GameCritics.com and hopes to help Chi, Dale, and the rest of the GC staff bring a higher level of respect to the field of game criticism.
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According to ESRB, this game contains: Mild Fantasy Violence

Parents might be put off the by the Teen rating this game has received, but I have to say that I have no clue why this game got a rating higher than E. The only thing this game features is "mild fantasy violence," which is akin to Star Wars. About the only issue parents should consider is the frustration level. If a child is easily upset by difficult challenges, this is probably not the game for them.

Shmup fans buy this now—'nuff said.

Casual gamers will most likely be put off by the old school graphics and simplistic gameplay. They're wrong on too many levels to count, of course, but that's just my take. Adventurous gamers will find much to like here even if they're not "hardcore old skool". Good game design never goes out of style.

Deaf and Hard of Hearing gamers have nothing to worry about since sound is of minimal importance in this game.

Mike Bracken

Mike Bracken

Mike Bracken is a 43-year-old writer and bohemian living in Florida with a mountain of movies, books, and video games.

A film critic by trade, specializing in Euro-horror, cult exploitation, and Asian action cinema, Mike has written reviews for a diverse group of print and online publications. He covers horror news, movies, books, and games at TheHorrorGeek.com and Horrorsquad.com and spent two seasons as The Horror Geek on Comedy Central's pop-culture game show, Beat the Geeks.

Mike's childhood was spent playing videogames any time he got a chance. His parents had a Pong console and his grandmother had an Atari 2600, where Mike cultivated his skills by playing hour upon hour of games like Space Invaders, Berserk, and Asteroids. From those early experiences Mike learned one thing: he loved games.

In 1999, Mike became a staff reviewer at Cinescape Magazine's website where he spent a year learning the craft of game criticism. After internal changes led to Mike leaving Cinescape in late 2000, he joined up with RPGFan in 2001 and spent several years writing reviews for them. Happy, but looking for an opportunity to expound on a wider variety of titles, Mike joined GameCritics.com and hopes to help Chi, Dale, and the rest of the GC staff bring a higher level of respect to the field of game criticism.
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According to ESRB, this game contains: Cartoon Violence

Parents don't have anything to worry about in terms of content in Tak 2. This is a very kid-friendly game. What is worth considering is the game's challenge level. While this is a title aimed toward young gamers, the difficulty can be a little rough in spots and lead to some frustration.

Platforming fans should definitely put this on their Christmas list as the game is one of the better pure platformers to come along in recent memory. If you can get past the whole Nicktoons thing, there's a solid and rewarding adventure here.

Casual gamers will also want to give this one a look—the graphics are nice, the gameplay interesting, and it's a title that can certainly be picked up, played for a few minutes, then shelved again without really losing anything in the experience.

Deaf and Hard of Hearing gamers will be disappointed by the fact that the game features no subtitles at all for the dialogue sequences—none in the cutscenes, none in the game, none at all, actually.

Mike Bracken

Mike Bracken

Mike Bracken is a 43-year-old writer and bohemian living in Florida with a mountain of movies, books, and video games.

A film critic by trade, specializing in Euro-horror, cult exploitation, and Asian action cinema, Mike has written reviews for a diverse group of print and online publications. He covers horror news, movies, books, and games at TheHorrorGeek.com and Horrorsquad.com and spent two seasons as The Horror Geek on Comedy Central's pop-culture game show, Beat the Geeks.

Mike's childhood was spent playing videogames any time he got a chance. His parents had a Pong console and his grandmother had an Atari 2600, where Mike cultivated his skills by playing hour upon hour of games like Space Invaders, Berserk, and Asteroids. From those early experiences Mike learned one thing: he loved games.

In 1999, Mike became a staff reviewer at Cinescape Magazine's website where he spent a year learning the craft of game criticism. After internal changes led to Mike leaving Cinescape in late 2000, he joined up with RPGFan in 2001 and spent several years writing reviews for them. Happy, but looking for an opportunity to expound on a wider variety of titles, Mike joined GameCritics.com and hopes to help Chi, Dale, and the rest of the GC staff bring a higher level of respect to the field of game criticism.
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According to ESRB, this game contains: Blood, Violence

Parents will notice that Gungrave: Overdose sports a mature rating. It is a violent game that involves shooting literally everything on the screen—however, since there are no real characters in the game (everyone's the equivalent of a cardboard cutout in a shooting gallery) the violence doesn't really ever tie into the real world. The real reason you should keep little Timmy away from this game is because it's not fun.

Fans of the original can safely skip this one—it's the same thing with twice as much repetition. Adding two characters and a few new demolition shots may seem like advancements, but when the core gameplay is so simplistic and repetitive, you're going to have to do something a lot more profound than that to make the game seem worthwhile. Stick with the original.

Casual gamers will no doubt be lured in by the $15 price poin, and most of them will come to regret it. Cheap games are nice—at least when they're games worth playing.

Deaf and Hard of Hearing gamers can experience all the game's brilliant dialogue as it comes subtitled.

Mike Bracken

Mike Bracken

Mike Bracken is a 43-year-old writer and bohemian living in Florida with a mountain of movies, books, and video games.

A film critic by trade, specializing in Euro-horror, cult exploitation, and Asian action cinema, Mike has written reviews for a diverse group of print and online publications. He covers horror news, movies, books, and games at TheHorrorGeek.com and Horrorsquad.com and spent two seasons as The Horror Geek on Comedy Central's pop-culture game show, Beat the Geeks.

Mike's childhood was spent playing videogames any time he got a chance. His parents had a Pong console and his grandmother had an Atari 2600, where Mike cultivated his skills by playing hour upon hour of games like Space Invaders, Berserk, and Asteroids. From those early experiences Mike learned one thing: he loved games.

In 1999, Mike became a staff reviewer at Cinescape Magazine's website where he spent a year learning the craft of game criticism. After internal changes led to Mike leaving Cinescape in late 2000, he joined up with RPGFan in 2001 and spent several years writing reviews for them. Happy, but looking for an opportunity to expound on a wider variety of titles, Mike joined GameCritics.com and hopes to help Chi, Dale, and the rest of the GC staff bring a higher level of respect to the field of game criticism.
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According to ESRB, this game contains: Mild Language, Suggestive Themes, Comic Mischief

Parents can rest easy with this title's content. I didn't find anything at all that would have set off my own parental sensibilities in the game. This is cartoony golf that is pretty kid-friendly. The challenge factor is probably more of a reason to not let the kids play it than anything in terms of content. Lord knows the game's challenge frustrated me on numerous occasions.  

Golf fans will find much to appreciate in the accurate golf physics found throughout the game. Whether or not one enjoys the cartoonish presentation is a matter of personal preference, but the golf itself is an accurate representation of the real game. The wonky AI can be an issue, but aside from that this is a solid golf title.

Casual gamers will no doubt enjoy the game as well, particularly since it's a complete pick up and play experience. There's not a huge learning curve to the game, making it accessible to just about everyone.

Deaf and Hard of Hearing gamers can rest easy as well—while there is some dialogue at the various hole-out screens, it's nothing you need to hear. In fact, after you hear the same phrase a few thousand times, actually not hearing it is probably almost a blessing.

Mike Bracken

Mike Bracken

Mike Bracken is a 43-year-old writer and bohemian living in Florida with a mountain of movies, books, and video games.

A film critic by trade, specializing in Euro-horror, cult exploitation, and Asian action cinema, Mike has written reviews for a diverse group of print and online publications. He covers horror news, movies, books, and games at TheHorrorGeek.com and Horrorsquad.com and spent two seasons as The Horror Geek on Comedy Central's pop-culture game show, Beat the Geeks.

Mike's childhood was spent playing videogames any time he got a chance. His parents had a Pong console and his grandmother had an Atari 2600, where Mike cultivated his skills by playing hour upon hour of games like Space Invaders, Berserk, and Asteroids. From those early experiences Mike learned one thing: he loved games.

In 1999, Mike became a staff reviewer at Cinescape Magazine's website where he spent a year learning the craft of game criticism. After internal changes led to Mike leaving Cinescape in late 2000, he joined up with RPGFan in 2001 and spent several years writing reviews for them. Happy, but looking for an opportunity to expound on a wider variety of titles, Mike joined GameCritics.com and hopes to help Chi, Dale, and the rest of the GC staff bring a higher level of respect to the field of game criticism.
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According to ESRB, this game contains: Blood and Gore, Violence

Parents will no doubt notice that the game's cover features a scantily-clad woman as its centerpiece and sports a Mature rating. Why Sudeki garnered an M is beyond me, though—the game does feature some blood when enemies are defeated, but it's pretty minimal gore. As far as the violence goes, in this day and age, the violence in Sudeki is almost quaint. At any rate, the ESRB dropped the ball on this one—an M rating is overly harsh. Consider this game more of a Teen rated title instead.

RPG fans are almost sure to be disappointed with Sudeki—not because it's a horrible game, but because it has so much wasted potential. This title has numerous spots where it could rise up and become something truly special—but time and again Climax opts to take the safer path instead. The end result is a tantalizing, yet frustrating experience.

Casual gamers will likely get more out of Sudeki than anyone. This is a short game that can be played in small chunks without losing the overall narrative of the game. Once beaten, there's no reason to come back—the game doesn't feature any branches in the story, or any hidden items to go back and find on a second playthrough.

Deaf and Hard of Hearing gamers can rest easy. Sudeki features subtitles throughout, even during the voice-acted cutscenes.

Mike Bracken

Mike Bracken

Mike Bracken is a 43-year-old writer and bohemian living in Florida with a mountain of movies, books, and video games.

A film critic by trade, specializing in Euro-horror, cult exploitation, and Asian action cinema, Mike has written reviews for a diverse group of print and online publications. He covers horror news, movies, books, and games at TheHorrorGeek.com and Horrorsquad.com and spent two seasons as The Horror Geek on Comedy Central's pop-culture game show, Beat the Geeks.

Mike's childhood was spent playing videogames any time he got a chance. His parents had a Pong console and his grandmother had an Atari 2600, where Mike cultivated his skills by playing hour upon hour of games like Space Invaders, Berserk, and Asteroids. From those early experiences Mike learned one thing: he loved games.

In 1999, Mike became a staff reviewer at Cinescape Magazine's website where he spent a year learning the craft of game criticism. After internal changes led to Mike leaving Cinescape in late 2000, he joined up with RPGFan in 2001 and spent several years writing reviews for them. Happy, but looking for an opportunity to expound on a wider variety of titles, Mike joined GameCritics.com and hopes to help Chi, Dale, and the rest of the GC staff bring a higher level of respect to the field of game criticism.
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According to ESRB, this game contains: Violence

Parents will want to think long and hard before grabbing Final Fantasy XI for the kids. It's not that the game is filled with objectionable material (although, since it is online, a lot of things in-game are dependent on your fellow players-and as Sartre said, "hell is other people"), but it's a game that requires a huge amount of time to play. Trying to juggle schoolwork, familial obligations, and this game is a difficult juggling act. To get the most out of the experience, players have to devote a fair chunk of time to playing.

Attention hardcore gamers: this is the game for you. If you're at all interested in MMORPGs, then get this game now. While it's not a flawless experience, FFXI will eat up gaming hours like Rosie O'Donnell at an all-you-can-eat buffet.

Casual Gamers on the other hand might want to sit this one out and wait for Final Fantasy XII. Not only does one have to buy a hard drive (which comes with the game on it) and a USB keyboard (because communicating is nearly impossible without one-the soft keyboard just doesn't work), but the $14 a month playing fee and time investment required make this something that's not really worth it for players who only want to dabble.

Deaf and Hard of Hearing gamers have nothing to worry about. While you'll be missing out on the game's music, all of the dialogue is in text.

Mike Bracken

Mike Bracken

Mike Bracken is a 43-year-old writer and bohemian living in Florida with a mountain of movies, books, and video games.

A film critic by trade, specializing in Euro-horror, cult exploitation, and Asian action cinema, Mike has written reviews for a diverse group of print and online publications. He covers horror news, movies, books, and games at TheHorrorGeek.com and Horrorsquad.com and spent two seasons as The Horror Geek on Comedy Central's pop-culture game show, Beat the Geeks.

Mike's childhood was spent playing videogames any time he got a chance. His parents had a Pong console and his grandmother had an Atari 2600, where Mike cultivated his skills by playing hour upon hour of games like Space Invaders, Berserk, and Asteroids. From those early experiences Mike learned one thing: he loved games.

In 1999, Mike became a staff reviewer at Cinescape Magazine's website where he spent a year learning the craft of game criticism. After internal changes led to Mike leaving Cinescape in late 2000, he joined up with RPGFan in 2001 and spent several years writing reviews for them. Happy, but looking for an opportunity to expound on a wider variety of titles, Mike joined GameCritics.com and hopes to help Chi, Dale, and the rest of the GC staff bring a higher level of respect to the field of game criticism.
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According to ESRB, this game contains: Fantasy Violence

Parents have nothing to worry about with R-Type Final. The game is a throwback to the old arcade era where an anonymous looking spaceship shoots lots of other anonymous looking spaceships/aliens. There's no blood, gore, swearing, or anything of the sort.

Shmup fans will certainly want to have this in their collection. While the game never quite reaches the heights of Ikaruga or some of the import only shooters in recent memory, it's still a entertaining diversion—and the last entry in a classic series.

Casual Gamers might not enjoy R-Type Final—it's a game from another era, and the simplistic gameplay may turn off players used to today's games.

Deaf and Hard of Hearing gamers can play this title without worry. R-Type Final features no spoken dialogue and the sound effects are not important to actually playing the game.

Mike Bracken

Mike Bracken

Mike Bracken is a 43-year-old writer and bohemian living in Florida with a mountain of movies, books, and video games.

A film critic by trade, specializing in Euro-horror, cult exploitation, and Asian action cinema, Mike has written reviews for a diverse group of print and online publications. He covers horror news, movies, books, and games at TheHorrorGeek.com and Horrorsquad.com and spent two seasons as The Horror Geek on Comedy Central's pop-culture game show, Beat the Geeks.

Mike's childhood was spent playing videogames any time he got a chance. His parents had a Pong console and his grandmother had an Atari 2600, where Mike cultivated his skills by playing hour upon hour of games like Space Invaders, Berserk, and Asteroids. From those early experiences Mike learned one thing: he loved games.

In 1999, Mike became a staff reviewer at Cinescape Magazine's website where he spent a year learning the craft of game criticism. After internal changes led to Mike leaving Cinescape in late 2000, he joined up with RPGFan in 2001 and spent several years writing reviews for them. Happy, but looking for an opportunity to expound on a wider variety of titles, Mike joined GameCritics.com and hopes to help Chi, Dale, and the rest of the GC staff bring a higher level of respect to the field of game criticism.
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According to ESRB, this game contains: Fantasy Violence

Parents shouldn't be put off by the T rating that Sphinx carries—this is another example of a game getting a rating that was probably harsher than it deserved. The fantasy violence is innocuous, with Sphinx hacking up a lot of bugs primarily. The game features no blood, gore, sexual situations, nudity, or anything else that would be inappropriate for the kids.  

Action/Adventure fans should consider checking out this title. It plays a lot like the Nintendo 64 era Zelda games, only not quite as polished. While Sphinx may never reach the lofty plateaus of Link's greatest adventures, that doesn't mean that this is a game without merit. It's actually quite charming, and kept this reviewer amused throughout.

Casual gamers will also want to give Sphinx a look. It's one of those games that can be picked up, played, and then set aside for awhile with nothing lost in the downtime. Plus it's funny enough to appeal to players of all ages and demographics.

Deaf and Hard of Hearing gamers can play Sphinx without trepidation—the game has absolutely no voice acting, so the entirety of the script is presented through text dialogue.

Mike Bracken

Mike Bracken

Mike Bracken is a 43-year-old writer and bohemian living in Florida with a mountain of movies, books, and video games.

A film critic by trade, specializing in Euro-horror, cult exploitation, and Asian action cinema, Mike has written reviews for a diverse group of print and online publications. He covers horror news, movies, books, and games at TheHorrorGeek.com and Horrorsquad.com and spent two seasons as The Horror Geek on Comedy Central's pop-culture game show, Beat the Geeks.

Mike's childhood was spent playing videogames any time he got a chance. His parents had a Pong console and his grandmother had an Atari 2600, where Mike cultivated his skills by playing hour upon hour of games like Space Invaders, Berserk, and Asteroids. From those early experiences Mike learned one thing: he loved games.

In 1999, Mike became a staff reviewer at Cinescape Magazine's website where he spent a year learning the craft of game criticism. After internal changes led to Mike leaving Cinescape in late 2000, he joined up with RPGFan in 2001 and spent several years writing reviews for them. Happy, but looking for an opportunity to expound on a wider variety of titles, Mike joined GameCritics.com and hopes to help Chi, Dale, and the rest of the GC staff bring a higher level of respect to the field of game criticism.
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Parents have nothing to worry about with Links 2004. This is golf, the sport of gentlemen, and as such there's nary one questionable bit of content in the entire game. The worst it gets is occasionally watching a golfer swing his club at the air in frustration as he mis-hits a shot.  

Fans of the PC versions will want to approach the Xbox version with caution. While it's still Links, there's no denying that this version has been "dumbed down" a bit for console audiences. Because of this, the game has a more arcade-like feel than the previous incarnations.

Xbox owning golf fans will certainly want to give Links a look if for no other reason than because it's the only golf game on the Xbox with online play.

Deaf and Hard of Hearing gamers will be missing out on the commentary (which isn't anything to write home about to begin with), but will be able to enjoy the rest of the Links 2004 experience.

Mike Bracken

Mike Bracken

Mike Bracken is a 43-year-old writer and bohemian living in Florida with a mountain of movies, books, and video games.

A film critic by trade, specializing in Euro-horror, cult exploitation, and Asian action cinema, Mike has written reviews for a diverse group of print and online publications. He covers horror news, movies, books, and games at TheHorrorGeek.com and Horrorsquad.com and spent two seasons as The Horror Geek on Comedy Central's pop-culture game show, Beat the Geeks.

Mike's childhood was spent playing videogames any time he got a chance. His parents had a Pong console and his grandmother had an Atari 2600, where Mike cultivated his skills by playing hour upon hour of games like Space Invaders, Berserk, and Asteroids. From those early experiences Mike learned one thing: he loved games.

In 1999, Mike became a staff reviewer at Cinescape Magazine's website where he spent a year learning the craft of game criticism. After internal changes led to Mike leaving Cinescape in late 2000, he joined up with RPGFan in 2001 and spent several years writing reviews for them. Happy, but looking for an opportunity to expound on a wider variety of titles, Mike joined GameCritics.com and hopes to help Chi, Dale, and the rest of the GC staff bring a higher level of respect to the field of game criticism.
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According to ESRB, this game contains: Blood and Gore, Mature Sexual Themes, Strong Langauge, Violence

Parents will want to keep the kids away from Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel. The game sports a well-earned Mature rating and features enough F-bombs to please even the most jaded gangsta rap aficionado. Add in Ruby the prostitute, her heaving chest, and the double entendres (not to mention the fact that players can pay her for her "services") and this is one of those games that isn't for the little ones.  

Fallout fans have been vocal in their displeasure with Brotherhood of Steel, so hardcore fans of the series will want to steer clear of this title. It may be called Fallout, but the similarities between this title and the earlier PC incarnations are few and far between.

Hack and slash fans may get some enjoyment out of Brotherhood of Steel, but would probably be better served by picking up Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance II or Champions of Norrath instead. Both of those titles, while well short of perfect, are more enjoyable than Fallout.

Deaf and Hard of Hearing gamers can pick up Fallout without worry-the game features full subtitling.

Mike Bracken

Mike Bracken

Mike Bracken is a 43-year-old writer and bohemian living in Florida with a mountain of movies, books, and video games.

A film critic by trade, specializing in Euro-horror, cult exploitation, and Asian action cinema, Mike has written reviews for a diverse group of print and online publications. He covers horror news, movies, books, and games at TheHorrorGeek.com and Horrorsquad.com and spent two seasons as The Horror Geek on Comedy Central's pop-culture game show, Beat the Geeks.

Mike's childhood was spent playing videogames any time he got a chance. His parents had a Pong console and his grandmother had an Atari 2600, where Mike cultivated his skills by playing hour upon hour of games like Space Invaders, Berserk, and Asteroids. From those early experiences Mike learned one thing: he loved games.

In 1999, Mike became a staff reviewer at Cinescape Magazine's website where he spent a year learning the craft of game criticism. After internal changes led to Mike leaving Cinescape in late 2000, he joined up with RPGFan in 2001 and spent several years writing reviews for them. Happy, but looking for an opportunity to expound on a wider variety of titles, Mike joined GameCritics.com and hopes to help Chi, Dale, and the rest of the GC staff bring a higher level of respect to the field of game criticism.
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According to ESRB, this game contains: Blood, Violence

Parents will certainly want to take the Mature rating into consideration before allowing younger gamers to experience this title. Crimson Butterfly has a few gory moments, but what's more troubling is the game's terrifying atmosphere, which could easily inspire lots of nightmares for younger gamers. If a child can't watch a mainstream horror film, then they probably should skip this game.

Survival horror fans will love this game despite the clunky camera system and the endless array of backtracking fetch quests. The story and the atmosphere are so impressive throughout that many will find themselves dealing with the technical flaws just to see the next big scare scene or unravel the mystery of the village.

Casual gamers who like scary stories will also want to check this title out. The puzzles can occasionally be a little frustrating, but the rewards are well worth utilizing a few brain cells.

Deaf and Hard of Hearing gamers will want to skip this one. While the game features an option for subtitled text, missing out on the ambient noise and sound effects will lessen the title's impact. Sound plays a vital role in this game, and not being able to experience it fully will detract considerably from the overall experience.

Mike Bracken

Mike Bracken

Mike Bracken is a 43-year-old writer and bohemian living in Florida with a mountain of movies, books, and video games.

A film critic by trade, specializing in Euro-horror, cult exploitation, and Asian action cinema, Mike has written reviews for a diverse group of print and online publications. He covers horror news, movies, books, and games at TheHorrorGeek.com and Horrorsquad.com and spent two seasons as The Horror Geek on Comedy Central's pop-culture game show, Beat the Geeks.

Mike's childhood was spent playing videogames any time he got a chance. His parents had a Pong console and his grandmother had an Atari 2600, where Mike cultivated his skills by playing hour upon hour of games like Space Invaders, Berserk, and Asteroids. From those early experiences Mike learned one thing: he loved games.

In 1999, Mike became a staff reviewer at Cinescape Magazine's website where he spent a year learning the craft of game criticism. After internal changes led to Mike leaving Cinescape in late 2000, he joined up with RPGFan in 2001 and spent several years writing reviews for them. Happy, but looking for an opportunity to expound on a wider variety of titles, Mike joined GameCritics.com and hopes to help Chi, Dale, and the rest of the GC staff bring a higher level of respect to the field of game criticism.
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According to ESRB, this game contains: Fantasy Violence

Parents shouldn't have any concerns about the content in The Falsebound Kingdom. Yu-Gi-Oh! is a game aimed at kids who're slightly older than the Pokémon crowd and even has a cartoon of its own. What should concern parents is the fact that the game isn't exactly user-friendly. The manual is rarely helpful, and the lack of an in-game tutorial only compounds the problem. It's really not a "pick-up-and-play" experience.

Yu-Gi-Oh! fans will probably enjoy seeing a new adventure for their favorite characters, but when they find out the game is a pseudo-strategy RPG, they're likely to be disappointed. Those looking for the series' traditional card battling will want to look elsewhere.

Casual gamers can safely skip this one. If you're interested in Yu-Gi-Oh!, you might want to give it a rent (although you'd be better served by playing one of the card game based titles), but if you don't know a Yugi from a Pikachu, then you're not going to have much interest in seeing this one through to the end.

Deaf and Hard of Hearing gamers can pick this title up without fear—there's text everywhere, just like the old days before the advent of voice acting.

Mike Bracken

Mike Bracken

Mike Bracken is a 43-year-old writer and bohemian living in Florida with a mountain of movies, books, and video games.

A film critic by trade, specializing in Euro-horror, cult exploitation, and Asian action cinema, Mike has written reviews for a diverse group of print and online publications. He covers horror news, movies, books, and games at TheHorrorGeek.com and Horrorsquad.com and spent two seasons as The Horror Geek on Comedy Central's pop-culture game show, Beat the Geeks.

Mike's childhood was spent playing videogames any time he got a chance. His parents had a Pong console and his grandmother had an Atari 2600, where Mike cultivated his skills by playing hour upon hour of games like Space Invaders, Berserk, and Asteroids. From those early experiences Mike learned one thing: he loved games.

In 1999, Mike became a staff reviewer at Cinescape Magazine's website where he spent a year learning the craft of game criticism. After internal changes led to Mike leaving Cinescape in late 2000, he joined up with RPGFan in 2001 and spent several years writing reviews for them. Happy, but looking for an opportunity to expound on a wider variety of titles, Mike joined GameCritics.com and hopes to help Chi, Dale, and the rest of the GC staff bring a higher level of respect to the field of game criticism.
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According to ESRB, this game contains: Blood, Violence

Parents will want to approach SOCOM II with caution. The title is a realistic depiction of covert Special Forces operations, and as such, people are shot, things are blown up, and the game can be an intense experience. Because of this, most children won't be interested.

Fans of squad-based shooters will no doubt love SOCOM II. The game remains one of the premier tactical shooters on the market, and the first game was a definite trendsetter in the field. While the gap between SOCOM and games like the Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six 3 has narrowed dramatically, SOCOM II still does enough things well to remain as one of the seminal gaming experiences for fans of this subgenre.

Casual gamers might find the $50 price tag a little hard to justify given that SOCOM II plays more like an expansion pack than an entirely new game. If the player doesn't have broadband and an online adapter, then purchasing the game isn't recommended—the real heart and soul of the SOCOM experience lies in the online component of the game. However, gamers who are able to play online and have an interest in this subgenre will almost assuredly enjoy the experience.

Deaf and Hard of Hearing gamers will want to skip this one. While the game does feature a lot of subtitled dialogue, hearing things is integral to the experience—from the sound of squad mates in the headset to the ambient noise and sounds of battle in the game's scenarios. Without being able to hear the action, the game becomes essentially unplayable.

Mike Bracken

Mike Bracken

Mike Bracken is a 43-year-old writer and bohemian living in Florida with a mountain of movies, books, and video games.

A film critic by trade, specializing in Euro-horror, cult exploitation, and Asian action cinema, Mike has written reviews for a diverse group of print and online publications. He covers horror news, movies, books, and games at TheHorrorGeek.com and Horrorsquad.com and spent two seasons as The Horror Geek on Comedy Central's pop-culture game show, Beat the Geeks.

Mike's childhood was spent playing videogames any time he got a chance. His parents had a Pong console and his grandmother had an Atari 2600, where Mike cultivated his skills by playing hour upon hour of games like Space Invaders, Berserk, and Asteroids. From those early experiences Mike learned one thing: he loved games.

In 1999, Mike became a staff reviewer at Cinescape Magazine's website where he spent a year learning the craft of game criticism. After internal changes led to Mike leaving Cinescape in late 2000, he joined up with RPGFan in 2001 and spent several years writing reviews for them. Happy, but looking for an opportunity to expound on a wider variety of titles, Mike joined GameCritics.com and hopes to help Chi, Dale, and the rest of the GC staff bring a higher level of respect to the field of game criticism.
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According to ESRB, this game contains: Mild Violence

Parents have almost nothing to worry about with this title. While the game has garnered a Teen rating, the violence is very mild and totally cartoonish. Ratchet's weapons rarely look like real guns, and there's no blood or guts anywhere to be found in the game's lush graphical environment.

Fans of the original Ratchet & Clank are going to want to play this one—it ups the ante in just about every way imaginable, and stands as one of the best gaming moments of this generation.

Casual gamers will also want to experience this game—it's accessible without being too easy, and can be played in either marathon gaming sessions or small increments over a long period of time.

Deaf and Hard of Hearing gamers have nothing to worry about—the game's elaborate (and hilarious) voice acting comes with an option for subtitles in the game's menu system.

Mike Bracken

Mike Bracken

Mike Bracken is a 43-year-old writer and bohemian living in Florida with a mountain of movies, books, and video games.

A film critic by trade, specializing in Euro-horror, cult exploitation, and Asian action cinema, Mike has written reviews for a diverse group of print and online publications. He covers horror news, movies, books, and games at TheHorrorGeek.com and Horrorsquad.com and spent two seasons as The Horror Geek on Comedy Central's pop-culture game show, Beat the Geeks.

Mike's childhood was spent playing videogames any time he got a chance. His parents had a Pong console and his grandmother had an Atari 2600, where Mike cultivated his skills by playing hour upon hour of games like Space Invaders, Berserk, and Asteroids. From those early experiences Mike learned one thing: he loved games.

In 1999, Mike became a staff reviewer at Cinescape Magazine's website where he spent a year learning the craft of game criticism. After internal changes led to Mike leaving Cinescape in late 2000, he joined up with RPGFan in 2001 and spent several years writing reviews for them. Happy, but looking for an opportunity to expound on a wider variety of titles, Mike joined GameCritics.com and hopes to help Chi, Dale, and the rest of the GC staff bring a higher level of respect to the field of game criticism.
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According to ESRB, this game contains: Blood and Gore, Comic Mischief, Violence

Parents can approach Gladius without too much fear. The game's T rating is primarily for the violence in the arena battles, and it's hardly graphic. Guys hack and slash at each other during battle, but it's a relatively bloodless affair. The game doesn't have much else in the way of objectionable content.

Strategy RPG fans will certainly want to give the game some attention. Unfortunately, with the recent crush of strategy RPGs (Disgaea, Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, Fire Emblem, etc.) this game may well get lost in the shuffle. It's a little bit simplistic in comparison to most of the other strategy games out there, but it isn't a title without its charms.

Casual gamers who're new to the whole strategy RPG subgenre will want to give the game a look as well. It's not quite as stat-heavy as other games in this field, and it remains accessible while still providing all of the things that make turn-based strategy games addictive.

Deaf and Hard of Hearing gamers will be pleased to know that the game's voice dialogue can also be watched with subtitles. About the only thing hearing impaired gamers will miss are Urlan's screams of "for Nordagh!" during battles—and that's probably a blessing.

Mike Bracken

Mike Bracken

Mike Bracken is a 43-year-old writer and bohemian living in Florida with a mountain of movies, books, and video games.

A film critic by trade, specializing in Euro-horror, cult exploitation, and Asian action cinema, Mike has written reviews for a diverse group of print and online publications. He covers horror news, movies, books, and games at TheHorrorGeek.com and Horrorsquad.com and spent two seasons as The Horror Geek on Comedy Central's pop-culture game show, Beat the Geeks.

Mike's childhood was spent playing videogames any time he got a chance. His parents had a Pong console and his grandmother had an Atari 2600, where Mike cultivated his skills by playing hour upon hour of games like Space Invaders, Berserk, and Asteroids. From those early experiences Mike learned one thing: he loved games.

In 1999, Mike became a staff reviewer at Cinescape Magazine's website where he spent a year learning the craft of game criticism. After internal changes led to Mike leaving Cinescape in late 2000, he joined up with RPGFan in 2001 and spent several years writing reviews for them. Happy, but looking for an opportunity to expound on a wider variety of titles, Mike joined GameCritics.com and hopes to help Chi, Dale, and the rest of the GC staff bring a higher level of respect to the field of game criticism.
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According to ESRB, this game contains: Cartoon Violence, Comic Mischief

Parents should be aware that Disgaea has a teen rating. However, aside from a few mild profanities, the game is pretty tame overall. The game honestly deserves the T rating more for the challenge level than any of the content. Since this is a strategy-oriented game, it's not something younger children will be able to pick up and play.

Strategy RPG fans will want to run for the store to snag a copy of this game. It does a lot of the things fans have been wishing for, and does them all exceedingly well. The almost limitless replay value and depth of gameplay makes this one of the most involving titles in recent memory.

Casual gamers may find the depth of the title too much—the game throws so many things at the player at once that it's easy to become overwhelmed.

Deaf and Hard of Hearing gamers Deaf and Hard of Hearing gamers should have no concern about this title—while there is voice acting at different points in the plot, everything is fully subtitled.

Mike Bracken

Mike Bracken

Mike Bracken is a 43-year-old writer and bohemian living in Florida with a mountain of movies, books, and video games.

A film critic by trade, specializing in Euro-horror, cult exploitation, and Asian action cinema, Mike has written reviews for a diverse group of print and online publications. He covers horror news, movies, books, and games at TheHorrorGeek.com and Horrorsquad.com and spent two seasons as The Horror Geek on Comedy Central's pop-culture game show, Beat the Geeks.

Mike's childhood was spent playing videogames any time he got a chance. His parents had a Pong console and his grandmother had an Atari 2600, where Mike cultivated his skills by playing hour upon hour of games like Space Invaders, Berserk, and Asteroids. From those early experiences Mike learned one thing: he loved games.

In 1999, Mike became a staff reviewer at Cinescape Magazine's website where he spent a year learning the craft of game criticism. After internal changes led to Mike leaving Cinescape in late 2000, he joined up with RPGFan in 2001 and spent several years writing reviews for them. Happy, but looking for an opportunity to expound on a wider variety of titles, Mike joined GameCritics.com and hopes to help Chi, Dale, and the rest of the GC staff bring a higher level of respect to the field of game criticism.
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According to ESRB, this game contains: Blood, Violence

Parents should probably approach the game with a little trepidation. While Dungeons & Dragons isn't Grand Theft Auto III in terms of violence, there is a lot of limb separation happening with all of the hacking and slashing.

Hack-and-slash fans will no doubt be pleased by the game. While it's not quite as polished as last year's Baldur's Gate game, it retains enough of that title's style and gameplay to make a nice timekiller until the sequel releases in a few months.

Casual gamers will also most likely enjoy this game, as its pick up and play accessibility means that four people can be kicking butt in a matter of seconds.

Deaf and Hard of Hearing gamers have nothing to fear—while the game features lots of voice work, it also comes with full subtitles.

Mike Bracken

Mike Bracken

Mike Bracken is a 43-year-old writer and bohemian living in Florida with a mountain of movies, books, and video games.

A film critic by trade, specializing in Euro-horror, cult exploitation, and Asian action cinema, Mike has written reviews for a diverse group of print and online publications. He covers horror news, movies, books, and games at TheHorrorGeek.com and Horrorsquad.com and spent two seasons as The Horror Geek on Comedy Central's pop-culture game show, Beat the Geeks.

Mike's childhood was spent playing videogames any time he got a chance. His parents had a Pong console and his grandmother had an Atari 2600, where Mike cultivated his skills by playing hour upon hour of games like Space Invaders, Berserk, and Asteroids. From those early experiences Mike learned one thing: he loved games.

In 1999, Mike became a staff reviewer at Cinescape Magazine's website where he spent a year learning the craft of game criticism. After internal changes led to Mike leaving Cinescape in late 2000, he joined up with RPGFan in 2001 and spent several years writing reviews for them. Happy, but looking for an opportunity to expound on a wider variety of titles, Mike joined GameCritics.com and hopes to help Chi, Dale, and the rest of the GC staff bring a higher level of respect to the field of game criticism.
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According to ESRB, this game contains: Alcohol Reference, Mild Violence

Parents shouldn't have any problems with Final Fantasy Tactics Advance in terms of content. This portable strategy RPG has been designed to appeal to a wide age demographic with it's simplistic story and children characters. For a game that's based entirely around combat, it's not overly violent—there's no blood or gore, just a dying moan from the recently vanquished. Perhaps of more concern to parents with younger children is that the game features a convoluted menu system that will confound a lot of the kids out there. The combat is simple and the whole 'tactics' something of a misnomer, but the menu system definitely isn't as intuitive as it should be.

Casual gamers on the go will find a lot to like in Final Fantasy Tactics Advance. The save anywhere feature makes it a great game for trips or the dull moments when nothing's happening. It's not as deep as some of the other games in the genre, and therefore remains accessible to even the greenest newcomers to the genre.

Hardcore strategy RPG fans will no doubt be disappointed by how easy the game is, and how tactics rarely ever play a part in the battles. The job system is also stripped down a bit in comparison to the original game, meaning there aren't quite as many options for the players to tweak around.

Deaf and Hard of Hearing gamers should feel confident in picking up this title—there is no voice acting and all of the dialogue is presented in on-screen text. The only thing hearing impaired gamers are going to miss out on is the repetitive music and groans of the dead.

Mike Bracken

Mike Bracken

Mike Bracken is a 43-year-old writer and bohemian living in Florida with a mountain of movies, books, and video games.

A film critic by trade, specializing in Euro-horror, cult exploitation, and Asian action cinema, Mike has written reviews for a diverse group of print and online publications. He covers horror news, movies, books, and games at TheHorrorGeek.com and Horrorsquad.com and spent two seasons as The Horror Geek on Comedy Central's pop-culture game show, Beat the Geeks.

Mike's childhood was spent playing videogames any time he got a chance. His parents had a Pong console and his grandmother had an Atari 2600, where Mike cultivated his skills by playing hour upon hour of games like Space Invaders, Berserk, and Asteroids. From those early experiences Mike learned one thing: he loved games.

In 1999, Mike became a staff reviewer at Cinescape Magazine's website where he spent a year learning the craft of game criticism. After internal changes led to Mike leaving Cinescape in late 2000, he joined up with RPGFan in 2001 and spent several years writing reviews for them. Happy, but looking for an opportunity to expound on a wider variety of titles, Mike joined GameCritics.com and hopes to help Chi, Dale, and the rest of the GC staff bring a higher level of respect to the field of game criticism.
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According to ESRB, this game contains: Violence

Parents shouldn't have any concerns about Phantasy Star Collection's content. They should be worried about the difficulty, which will leave most younger gamers incredibly frustrated.  

Hardcore RPG fans will no doubt like the package despite the fact that the games haven't aged particularly well. These were classics back in the day, and they retain enough of their original charm to make adding them to your collection worthwhile.

Casual gamers and modern era RPG fans will most likely be disappointed. The lack of upgrades to the games (they're direct ports of the originals) makes it so the games look fairly antiquated by today's standards. Plus, the onus on extreme power leveling to the exclusion of everything else (including narrative) will turn off a lot of players.

Deaf and Hard of Hearing gamers have nothing to fear—there's no spoken dialogue in the game at all, and the music just doesn't sound as good as it did on the original cartridge versions anyway.

Mike Bracken

Mike Bracken

Mike Bracken is a 43-year-old writer and bohemian living in Florida with a mountain of movies, books, and video games.

A film critic by trade, specializing in Euro-horror, cult exploitation, and Asian action cinema, Mike has written reviews for a diverse group of print and online publications. He covers horror news, movies, books, and games at TheHorrorGeek.com and Horrorsquad.com and spent two seasons as The Horror Geek on Comedy Central's pop-culture game show, Beat the Geeks.

Mike's childhood was spent playing videogames any time he got a chance. His parents had a Pong console and his grandmother had an Atari 2600, where Mike cultivated his skills by playing hour upon hour of games like Space Invaders, Berserk, and Asteroids. From those early experiences Mike learned one thing: he loved games.

In 1999, Mike became a staff reviewer at Cinescape Magazine's website where he spent a year learning the craft of game criticism. After internal changes led to Mike leaving Cinescape in late 2000, he joined up with RPGFan in 2001 and spent several years writing reviews for them. Happy, but looking for an opportunity to expound on a wider variety of titles, Mike joined GameCritics.com and hopes to help Chi, Dale, and the rest of the GC staff bring a higher level of respect to the field of game criticism.
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According to ESRB, this game contains: Violence

Parents shouldn't hesitate to pick up Golden Sun: The Lost Age for their kids. It's a lighthearted RPG with minimal violence. There's no swearing, drinking, or other objectionable material in the game.

RPG fans will certainly want to give the game a look if for no other reason than it's the follow up to one of the best first generation GBA titles. While it doesn't quite live up to the first game, there's more than enough here to warrant a purchase for fans of the genre.

Casual gamers will probably also enjoy the game, although the amount of repetition and the extended length (for a handheld game) might keep them from ever seeing the end.

Deaf and Hard of Hearing gamers also have nothing to fear as all of the game's dialogue is presented in easy to read text.

Mike Bracken

Mike Bracken

Mike Bracken is a 43-year-old writer and bohemian living in Florida with a mountain of movies, books, and video games.

A film critic by trade, specializing in Euro-horror, cult exploitation, and Asian action cinema, Mike has written reviews for a diverse group of print and online publications. He covers horror news, movies, books, and games at TheHorrorGeek.com and Horrorsquad.com and spent two seasons as The Horror Geek on Comedy Central's pop-culture game show, Beat the Geeks.

Mike's childhood was spent playing videogames any time he got a chance. His parents had a Pong console and his grandmother had an Atari 2600, where Mike cultivated his skills by playing hour upon hour of games like Space Invaders, Berserk, and Asteroids. From those early experiences Mike learned one thing: he loved games.

In 1999, Mike became a staff reviewer at Cinescape Magazine's website where he spent a year learning the craft of game criticism. After internal changes led to Mike leaving Cinescape in late 2000, he joined up with RPGFan in 2001 and spent several years writing reviews for them. Happy, but looking for an opportunity to expound on a wider variety of titles, Mike joined GameCritics.com and hopes to help Chi, Dale, and the rest of the GC staff bring a higher level of respect to the field of game criticism.
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According to ESRB, this game contains: Blood and Gore, Violence

Parents should approach Evil Dead with trepidation. It's a game wherein one of the main objectives is to hack undead monsters (who used to be human) to pieces with a chainsaw. Blood and gore are common sights throughout the adventure. The game also features some sexual innuendo during the cutscenes, and even a mention of the infamous porn film Deep Throat 

Evil Dead fans will want to pick this up (the game is a measly $20) posthaste. The Bruce Campbell dialogue alone more than makes up for any of the flaws in the gameplay. It's not the classic Evil Dead game we've all been waiting for, but it's certainly better than Hail To The King.

Casual gamers might want to take a 'rent first' approach. The lower than normal price point makes the game worthy of a purchase, but players who didn't enjoy games like State Of Emergency and Hunter: The Reckoning will likely find problems with this game as well.

Deaf and Hard of Hearing gamers can certainly play and enjoy this title. All the dialogue is presented with subtitles as well as spoken aloud. However, they will miss out on some of the game's charm, which is embodied through Bruce Campbell's deadpan line delivery.

Mike Bracken

Mike Bracken

Mike Bracken is a 43-year-old writer and bohemian living in Florida with a mountain of movies, books, and video games.

A film critic by trade, specializing in Euro-horror, cult exploitation, and Asian action cinema, Mike has written reviews for a diverse group of print and online publications. He covers horror news, movies, books, and games at TheHorrorGeek.com and Horrorsquad.com and spent two seasons as The Horror Geek on Comedy Central's pop-culture game show, Beat the Geeks.

Mike's childhood was spent playing videogames any time he got a chance. His parents had a Pong console and his grandmother had an Atari 2600, where Mike cultivated his skills by playing hour upon hour of games like Space Invaders, Berserk, and Asteroids. From those early experiences Mike learned one thing: he loved games.

In 1999, Mike became a staff reviewer at Cinescape Magazine's website where he spent a year learning the craft of game criticism. After internal changes led to Mike leaving Cinescape in late 2000, he joined up with RPGFan in 2001 and spent several years writing reviews for them. Happy, but looking for an opportunity to expound on a wider variety of titles, Mike joined GameCritics.com and hopes to help Chi, Dale, and the rest of the GC staff bring a higher level of respect to the field of game criticism.
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According to ESRB, this game contains: Violence

Parents have nothing to fear with this title. Ikaruga is a throwback to the days of old when games were certainly about blowing things up, but rarely about killing people. The destruction in this title is of various well-armed spacecraft, with nary a person or alien in sight.

Shmup fans will want to grab this game immediately—it's a fantastically visceral experience that brings back memories of the days when shoot-'em-ups ruled the arcades. This game is a masterpiece, and belongs in every GameCube owner's library.

Casual gamers should also experience Ikaruga. While the gameplay may look relatively simple in comparison to this generation's titles, it's much more complex and involved than it appears at first glance. Simply put, Ikaruga will satisfy your retro gaming needs, or allow you to see what games were like in years past if you were too young to actually remember the good old days.

Deaf and Hard of Hearing gamers should have no concerns. Ikargua is a shooter with very little in the way of voices. In fact, the only real voice is a robotic counter that keeps track of your combos, and even gamers who can hear have an incredibly difficult time making out what he's saying.

Mike Bracken

Mike Bracken

Mike Bracken is a 43-year-old writer and bohemian living in Florida with a mountain of movies, books, and video games.

A film critic by trade, specializing in Euro-horror, cult exploitation, and Asian action cinema, Mike has written reviews for a diverse group of print and online publications. He covers horror news, movies, books, and games at TheHorrorGeek.com and Horrorsquad.com and spent two seasons as The Horror Geek on Comedy Central's pop-culture game show, Beat the Geeks.

Mike's childhood was spent playing videogames any time he got a chance. His parents had a Pong console and his grandmother had an Atari 2600, where Mike cultivated his skills by playing hour upon hour of games like Space Invaders, Berserk, and Asteroids. From those early experiences Mike learned one thing: he loved games.

In 1999, Mike became a staff reviewer at Cinescape Magazine's website where he spent a year learning the craft of game criticism. After internal changes led to Mike leaving Cinescape in late 2000, he joined up with RPGFan in 2001 and spent several years writing reviews for them. Happy, but looking for an opportunity to expound on a wider variety of titles, Mike joined GameCritics.com and hopes to help Chi, Dale, and the rest of the GC staff bring a higher level of respect to the field of game criticism.
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According to ESRB, this game contains: Mild Violence

Parents should have no concerns in picking up Lunar Legend for the kids. The violence is your standard RPG fare (meaning bloodless) and the story doesn't feature any sex or objectionable thematic material.

Casual gamers who haven't played the game in any of its earlier incarnations will almost assuredly want to give this release a look. Lunar is a classic RPG in any format, and while the changes to accommodate the GBA make this release the least impressive of the bunch, it's still better than a lot of the other handheld RPGs on the market.

RPG fans will undoubtedly own one of the earlier versions already—and as such, there's no real reason to get this one. The changes are minor (and generally not for the better), so just keep that PlayStation version.

Deaf and Hard of Hearing gamers have nothing to worry about (other than missing out on the great music featured in the game). All of the dialogue is presented in easy to read text boxes.

Mike Bracken

Mike Bracken

Mike Bracken is a 43-year-old writer and bohemian living in Florida with a mountain of movies, books, and video games.

A film critic by trade, specializing in Euro-horror, cult exploitation, and Asian action cinema, Mike has written reviews for a diverse group of print and online publications. He covers horror news, movies, books, and games at TheHorrorGeek.com and Horrorsquad.com and spent two seasons as The Horror Geek on Comedy Central's pop-culture game show, Beat the Geeks.

Mike's childhood was spent playing videogames any time he got a chance. His parents had a Pong console and his grandmother had an Atari 2600, where Mike cultivated his skills by playing hour upon hour of games like Space Invaders, Berserk, and Asteroids. From those early experiences Mike learned one thing: he loved games.

In 1999, Mike became a staff reviewer at Cinescape Magazine's website where he spent a year learning the craft of game criticism. After internal changes led to Mike leaving Cinescape in late 2000, he joined up with RPGFan in 2001 and spent several years writing reviews for them. Happy, but looking for an opportunity to expound on a wider variety of titles, Mike joined GameCritics.com and hopes to help Chi, Dale, and the rest of the GC staff bring a higher level of respect to the field of game criticism.
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According to ESRB, this game contains: Blood, Partial Nudity, Violence

Parents will want to take into consideration that the game is rated for Teens. There's nothing particularly offensive in the game, but it does feature a lot of fighting, some blood, etc. Perhaps more important is that the game features a steep learning curve that is sure to frustrate younger gamers. Dragon Quarter is inappropriate for most pre-teens simply because it's a difficult game.

RPG fans will certainly want to give the game a shot, but the more traditional amongst us would be well advised to prepare for a radical departure from the norm. This isn't your father's Breath Of Fire, after all.  

Casual gamers should probably take a rent-first approach, as the game is rather quirky and will not appeal to everyone. Aside from that, the relatively short play time means that it could be easily beaten in a standard rental period.  

Deaf and Hard of Hearing gamers have nothing to fear (other than missing out on the game's beautiful soundtrack) as all of the dialogue in Dragon Quarter appears onscreen.

Mike Bracken

Mike Bracken

Mike Bracken is a 43-year-old writer and bohemian living in Florida with a mountain of movies, books, and video games.

A film critic by trade, specializing in Euro-horror, cult exploitation, and Asian action cinema, Mike has written reviews for a diverse group of print and online publications. He covers horror news, movies, books, and games at TheHorrorGeek.com and Horrorsquad.com and spent two seasons as The Horror Geek on Comedy Central's pop-culture game show, Beat the Geeks.

Mike's childhood was spent playing videogames any time he got a chance. His parents had a Pong console and his grandmother had an Atari 2600, where Mike cultivated his skills by playing hour upon hour of games like Space Invaders, Berserk, and Asteroids. From those early experiences Mike learned one thing: he loved games.

In 1999, Mike became a staff reviewer at Cinescape Magazine's website where he spent a year learning the craft of game criticism. After internal changes led to Mike leaving Cinescape in late 2000, he joined up with RPGFan in 2001 and spent several years writing reviews for them. Happy, but looking for an opportunity to expound on a wider variety of titles, Mike joined GameCritics.com and hopes to help Chi, Dale, and the rest of the GC staff bring a higher level of respect to the field of game criticism.
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According to ESRB, this game contains: Mild Violence

Parents have nothing to fear from the game. There is mild gun violence, but no blood or gore or anything of that nature. Overall, the title is pretty kid-friendly.

RPG fans will probably enjoy Wild Arms 3. The game doesnt offer up anything we havent seen before, but the RPG crowd seems to not mind rehashed plotlines and gameplay mechanics. The game is a solid one, just not one of the upper tier of PlayStation 2 RPGs on the market.  

Casual gamers may enjoy the game if they can get past the simple and traditional plotline and gameplay mechanics. Those who find turn-based RPGs tedious would be advised to skip this game entirely.

Deaf and Hard of Hearing gamers will be happy to know that the game features lots of text dialogue and subtitles for the voiced scenes.

Mike Bracken

Mike Bracken

Mike Bracken is a 43-year-old writer and bohemian living in Florida with a mountain of movies, books, and video games.

A film critic by trade, specializing in Euro-horror, cult exploitation, and Asian action cinema, Mike has written reviews for a diverse group of print and online publications. He covers horror news, movies, books, and games at TheHorrorGeek.com and Horrorsquad.com and spent two seasons as The Horror Geek on Comedy Central's pop-culture game show, Beat the Geeks.

Mike's childhood was spent playing videogames any time he got a chance. His parents had a Pong console and his grandmother had an Atari 2600, where Mike cultivated his skills by playing hour upon hour of games like Space Invaders, Berserk, and Asteroids. From those early experiences Mike learned one thing: he loved games.

In 1999, Mike became a staff reviewer at Cinescape Magazine's website where he spent a year learning the craft of game criticism. After internal changes led to Mike leaving Cinescape in late 2000, he joined up with RPGFan in 2001 and spent several years writing reviews for them. Happy, but looking for an opportunity to expound on a wider variety of titles, Mike joined GameCritics.com and hopes to help Chi, Dale, and the rest of the GC staff bring a higher level of respect to the field of game criticism.
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According to ESRB, this game contains: Blood, Violence

Parents should be advised that Gungrave has a mature rating for a reasonits very violent and there is some blood in the death animations. The violence is at least somewhat lessened by the anime-styled graphics, but its still not a game for young children.

Shooter fans who like their games with finger-numbing gameplay will appreciate Gungrave more than anyone. Theres not a lot of subtlety or nuances to the game mechanics, it basically boils down to shoot everything. While many of us grew up with games of this kind, those whove been weaned on the 32-bit and beyond era of console gaming may come away from Gungrave thinking its rather shallow.

Hearing impaired gamers will miss out on the nifty score, but not the plot, as the game is presented with the original Japanese dialogue with English subtitles.

Mike Bracken

Mike Bracken

Mike Bracken is a 43-year-old writer and bohemian living in Florida with a mountain of movies, books, and video games.

A film critic by trade, specializing in Euro-horror, cult exploitation, and Asian action cinema, Mike has written reviews for a diverse group of print and online publications. He covers horror news, movies, books, and games at TheHorrorGeek.com and Horrorsquad.com and spent two seasons as The Horror Geek on Comedy Central's pop-culture game show, Beat the Geeks.

Mike's childhood was spent playing videogames any time he got a chance. His parents had a Pong console and his grandmother had an Atari 2600, where Mike cultivated his skills by playing hour upon hour of games like Space Invaders, Berserk, and Asteroids. From those early experiences Mike learned one thing: he loved games.

In 1999, Mike became a staff reviewer at Cinescape Magazine's website where he spent a year learning the craft of game criticism. After internal changes led to Mike leaving Cinescape in late 2000, he joined up with RPGFan in 2001 and spent several years writing reviews for them. Happy, but looking for an opportunity to expound on a wider variety of titles, Mike joined GameCritics.com and hopes to help Chi, Dale, and the rest of the GC staff bring a higher level of respect to the field of game criticism.
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According to ESRB, this game contains: Violence

Parents have nothing to fear from Jak and Daxter as this is one of the more kid-friendly titles to come along in recent memory. While Jak takes on lots of enemies, the violence is comical and in no way realistic. Plus, the lighthearted humor is sure to appeal to younger gamers.  

Platforming fans will love the gameit's one of the better 3D platforming titles out there, particularly on the PlayStation 2. The action has an 'old school' feel without ever being overly frustrating, which should appeal to a wide range of gamers.

Casual gamers will also want to give this title a look, as the likeable characters and simple 'pick up and play' elements of the game make this something even for people who aren't hardcore game fans.

Deaf and Hard of Hearing Gamers will be happy to know that the story interludes are subtitled.

Mike Bracken

Mike Bracken

Mike Bracken is a 43-year-old writer and bohemian living in Florida with a mountain of movies, books, and video games.

A film critic by trade, specializing in Euro-horror, cult exploitation, and Asian action cinema, Mike has written reviews for a diverse group of print and online publications. He covers horror news, movies, books, and games at TheHorrorGeek.com and Horrorsquad.com and spent two seasons as The Horror Geek on Comedy Central's pop-culture game show, Beat the Geeks.

Mike's childhood was spent playing videogames any time he got a chance. His parents had a Pong console and his grandmother had an Atari 2600, where Mike cultivated his skills by playing hour upon hour of games like Space Invaders, Berserk, and Asteroids. From those early experiences Mike learned one thing: he loved games.

In 1999, Mike became a staff reviewer at Cinescape Magazine's website where he spent a year learning the craft of game criticism. After internal changes led to Mike leaving Cinescape in late 2000, he joined up with RPGFan in 2001 and spent several years writing reviews for them. Happy, but looking for an opportunity to expound on a wider variety of titles, Mike joined GameCritics.com and hopes to help Chi, Dale, and the rest of the GC staff bring a higher level of respect to the field of game criticism.
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According to ESRB, this game contains: Blood, Violence

Parents will definitely want to think twice before picking up Enclave for their kids. If the mature rating wasnt enough to dissuade you, then the insane difficulty level should do the trick instead. Enclave is often an exercise in aggravation even for experienced veteran gamers—and is not something that younger gamers are going to enjoy. 

Hack-and-slash fans will no doubt be drawn to Enclave for the same reasons I was—a lot of diverse characters, hack-and-slash gameplay, and really nice graphics. However, most will soon learn the same bitter lesson that I did—Enclave isnt very much fun.

Casual gamers will want rent before buying—most will play for an hour, then put the game back on the shelf in aggravation, never to be touched again.

Deaf and Hard of Hearing gamers shouldn't worry as there's not much actually worth hearing here. There are subs, however.

Mike Bracken

Mike Bracken

Mike Bracken is a 43-year-old writer and bohemian living in Florida with a mountain of movies, books, and video games.

A film critic by trade, specializing in Euro-horror, cult exploitation, and Asian action cinema, Mike has written reviews for a diverse group of print and online publications. He covers horror news, movies, books, and games at TheHorrorGeek.com and Horrorsquad.com and spent two seasons as The Horror Geek on Comedy Central's pop-culture game show, Beat the Geeks.

Mike's childhood was spent playing videogames any time he got a chance. His parents had a Pong console and his grandmother had an Atari 2600, where Mike cultivated his skills by playing hour upon hour of games like Space Invaders, Berserk, and Asteroids. From those early experiences Mike learned one thing: he loved games.

In 1999, Mike became a staff reviewer at Cinescape Magazine's website where he spent a year learning the craft of game criticism. After internal changes led to Mike leaving Cinescape in late 2000, he joined up with RPGFan in 2001 and spent several years writing reviews for them. Happy, but looking for an opportunity to expound on a wider variety of titles, Mike joined GameCritics.com and hopes to help Chi, Dale, and the rest of the GC staff bring a higher level of respect to the field of game criticism.
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According to ESRB, this game contains: Mild Violence

Parents have nothing to fear from the content in Legacy Of Goku since the game is basically the same as the anime, which airs regularly on the kid-friendly Cartoon Network. However, they may want to carefully consider the purchase since the game has an annoying difficulty level due to poor game design.

Younger Gamers will undoubtedly be drawn to the game because of the Dragon Ball Z license, but will ultimately find the poor play mechanics

Deaf and Hard of Hearing gamers have nothing to worry about as the game presents all the important information in text. There is some dialogue (mostly battle cries), but none of it essential to the game experience.

Mike Bracken

Mike Bracken

Mike Bracken is a 43-year-old writer and bohemian living in Florida with a mountain of movies, books, and video games.

A film critic by trade, specializing in Euro-horror, cult exploitation, and Asian action cinema, Mike has written reviews for a diverse group of print and online publications. He covers horror news, movies, books, and games at TheHorrorGeek.com and Horrorsquad.com and spent two seasons as The Horror Geek on Comedy Central's pop-culture game show, Beat the Geeks.

Mike's childhood was spent playing videogames any time he got a chance. His parents had a Pong console and his grandmother had an Atari 2600, where Mike cultivated his skills by playing hour upon hour of games like Space Invaders, Berserk, and Asteroids. From those early experiences Mike learned one thing: he loved games.

In 1999, Mike became a staff reviewer at Cinescape Magazine's website where he spent a year learning the craft of game criticism. After internal changes led to Mike leaving Cinescape in late 2000, he joined up with RPGFan in 2001 and spent several years writing reviews for them. Happy, but looking for an opportunity to expound on a wider variety of titles, Mike joined GameCritics.com and hopes to help Chi, Dale, and the rest of the GC staff bring a higher level of respect to the field of game criticism.
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According to ESRB, this game contains: Violence

Parents have little to worry about with Final Fight One. The game features lots of punching, kicking, and fighting, but no blood or guts. This is a game from the pre-Mortal Kombat era and doesnt feature much in the way of objectionable material.

Older gamers who can remember when this game was in the arcades will probably enjoy the GBA release for the nostalgia alone. The game is incredibly faithful to its original version, with a few minor tweaks to increase the replay value.

Newer Gamers might be let down by the one-dimensional battle system and presentation. This is an old game ported faithfully to a new handheldnot a remake. If you can get past that, you should find that Final Fight One provides several hours of entertainmentand a bit of a history lesson about the evolution of gaming as well.

Deaf and Hard of Hearing gamers have nothing to worry about, either. Final Fights story is presented with text and no voice-overs. The only thing youll be missing is the cheesy music.

Mike Bracken

Mike Bracken

Mike Bracken is a 43-year-old writer and bohemian living in Florida with a mountain of movies, books, and video games.

A film critic by trade, specializing in Euro-horror, cult exploitation, and Asian action cinema, Mike has written reviews for a diverse group of print and online publications. He covers horror news, movies, books, and games at TheHorrorGeek.com and Horrorsquad.com and spent two seasons as The Horror Geek on Comedy Central's pop-culture game show, Beat the Geeks.

Mike's childhood was spent playing videogames any time he got a chance. His parents had a Pong console and his grandmother had an Atari 2600, where Mike cultivated his skills by playing hour upon hour of games like Space Invaders, Berserk, and Asteroids. From those early experiences Mike learned one thing: he loved games.

In 1999, Mike became a staff reviewer at Cinescape Magazine's website where he spent a year learning the craft of game criticism. After internal changes led to Mike leaving Cinescape in late 2000, he joined up with RPGFan in 2001 and spent several years writing reviews for them. Happy, but looking for an opportunity to expound on a wider variety of titles, Mike joined GameCritics.com and hopes to help Chi, Dale, and the rest of the GC staff bring a higher level of respect to the field of game criticism.
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According to ESRB, this game contains: Mild Lyrics

Parents wont have much to fear from Project Gotham Racing. This is a driving game with realistic physics and controls. The only objectionable content might be the way the game allows you to crash into walls and other cars at high rates of speed with little in the way of consequences. Bizarre Creations and Microsoft have even gone so far as to put a little disclaimer up before the title game pointing out that people shouldnt drive like this in the real world.

Hardcore racing fans should find enough realism and adrenaline-pumping action in Project Gotham Racings gameplay to keep them satisfied, but the rather limited number of vehicles might be a turn off.

Fans of Gran Turismo will like what Project Gotham Racing brings to the table, but the difference in gameplay—with its emphasis on style—will leave most preferring Sonys GT series.

Casual gamers will undoubtedly find Project Gotham Racing worth playing—its loaded with style, pretty graphics, and is one of the showcases for Microsofts fledgling console.

Deaf and Hard of Hearing gamers will miss out on the solid soundwork and the radio stations, but otherwise will have no problem playing the game.

Mike Bracken

Mike Bracken

Mike Bracken is a 43-year-old writer and bohemian living in Florida with a mountain of movies, books, and video games.

A film critic by trade, specializing in Euro-horror, cult exploitation, and Asian action cinema, Mike has written reviews for a diverse group of print and online publications. He covers horror news, movies, books, and games at TheHorrorGeek.com and Horrorsquad.com and spent two seasons as The Horror Geek on Comedy Central's pop-culture game show, Beat the Geeks.

Mike's childhood was spent playing videogames any time he got a chance. His parents had a Pong console and his grandmother had an Atari 2600, where Mike cultivated his skills by playing hour upon hour of games like Space Invaders, Berserk, and Asteroids. From those early experiences Mike learned one thing: he loved games.

In 1999, Mike became a staff reviewer at Cinescape Magazine's website where he spent a year learning the craft of game criticism. After internal changes led to Mike leaving Cinescape in late 2000, he joined up with RPGFan in 2001 and spent several years writing reviews for them. Happy, but looking for an opportunity to expound on a wider variety of titles, Mike joined GameCritics.com and hopes to help Chi, Dale, and the rest of the GC staff bring a higher level of respect to the field of game criticism.
Mike Bracken

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